“So what do you think, darling? Pastels or warmer tones? The pastels would be beautiful in the springtime but the warmer tones would complement both our skin tones.” Magnus had been asking him several questions like that over the past few weeks. Ever since they got engaged Magnus was shamelessly making Pinterest boards for their wedding. Every night when they laid in bed, Alec would read his book, while Magnus opened up his laptop to his various wedding planning sources. Alec joked Magnus was only in it for the wedding, not the marriage. Magnus had gone to playfully swat his arm but got distracted by his engagement ring.
“I doubt anything you plan will be as beautiful as you, Magnus.” A bold statement to his wedding planner boyfriend- fiancé- but true nonetheless. Magnus was unlike any other man Alec had ever known. Not just in his beauty, but in his strength and character. Before meeting Magnus, Alec’s dating history was… sparse. His most serious relationship before Magnus was Lydia in high school and that nearly put him off relationships for the rest of his life. Not that Lydia wasn’t a wonderful girlfriend, he considers her to be one of his best friends now, but they were wrong for each other in every way.
The memory of breaking up with Lydia still shames him to this day, unlike Lydia who finds it hysterical now. It was senior year and Alec had been having suspicions on whether or not he was gay, he enjoyed watching Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, but no boy in their school really caught his eye, and he felt none of them should have when he had Lydia. But after their prom, Lydia and Alec snuck out to the golf course in her dad’s 1967 Mustang. They had started to kiss, which Alec never found unpleasant, he enjoyed it quite a bit. But when Lydia lowered her dress to show Alec her breasts for the first time, Alec blurted out, “Oh my god, I’m gay.”
He left that car single and with a black eye.
They lost contact with each other until the summer of their sophomore year in college. Alec missed her, and for some reason Lydia missed him too. They talked things over, and after a drunk tearful night they swore to always remain friends. She was the one Alec first came out to, even though it was unintentional, she was the one to take him to a gay bar for the first time, and she was the one who stood by his side when he came out to his parents. She was also the first person he told his engagement to, and she had been as happy as he was.
Alec felt like the luckiest man in the world. He was going to marry the love of his life, he had great friends and family, and he was content in his career. There wasn’t much Alec could think to ask for.
Alec winced. “Is your head hurting you again, darling? You need to go to the doctor. You can’t keep living like this.”
So perhaps there was one thing in Alec’s life he wanted to change. His headaches. They had been an annoyance in his life for a few months, and it had been getting worse. Sometimes they got so bad his vision would blur and he would lose his balance.
“I know, Magnus. I have an appointment tomorrow actually.”
Not a lie, technically. Alec had had a few appointments for his headaches. Finally, they did an MRI last week and tomorrow he would be getting the results. He didn’t tell anyone, he didn’t want anyone to worry. Especially Magnus. He knew what would happen if he told Magnus he would start to panic and go on Web MD, and jump to the worst possible conclusion, convinced Alec was dying. Magnus was a strategic worrier, it was what made him so great at his job. If one thing went wrong, he had backup plans A, B, and C.
“Do you want me to come with you? I might be able to move some things around.” Alec definitely could not bring Magnus to get the results of the scan, especially when he never told him about it in the first place.
“No, it’s fine. I’m really not that worried. How about I meet up with you at Taki’s after work instead? I will tell you all about it then.”
“Well, if you say so darling. If you aren’t worried, then I will make sure to worry enough for the both of us.” Magus winked at him and kissed his cheek.
Alec liked Dr. Garroway immediately when he met him. He was a large man, full of muscles and broad shoulders, intimidating in size but it was his smile that won you over. In just the few times Alec had seen the doctor he could tell that Dr. Garroway was a paternal figure to all. Nurses loved him, other doctors respected him, and the patients trusted him. Sitting in his office, Alec felt at ease with him. Until he said the unimaginable.
“I’m sorry, but there isn’t much we can do.”
Alec could hear those words, words like ‘cancerous’ and ‘tumor’, but they didn’t make sense. It was if they slid through his mind and turned to ice. Alec could clearly see the tumor on his brain on the scan. A blob. A misshapen blob that was killing him.
“So what are my options?”
Dr. Garroway sighed, “Well, unfortunately brain tumors are a challenge. Your body is designed to keep out things that will harm you, like chemotherapy-” but not a tumor apparently, “and we never know what will happen with surgery. It depends on whether or not we can even get in there. And even if we do, we won’t be able to completely remove the tumor. Some pieces will still be left. Especially given the size of the tumor.”
“So what you’re saying is I’m screwed?” Alec stared at the plant on his desk. A fern maybe? Possibly fake, the leaves looked too waxy to be real.
Dr. Garroway didn’t reply right away, he stared down at his clipboard as if it would give him all the answers he needed. “Look, every patient is different, and every tumor is complicated. There are risks with any procedure. Whatever you choose to do, we need to act quickly and aggressively.” The soil in the plant looked moist though, so it was definitely real. Dr. Garroway must have a green thumb to have a plant that looks so vibrant. Then again, everything looked different to Alec now, the light was too harsh, and the clothes on his skin felt too itchy. It felt like he could feel each individual hair on his head, and his pulse on every part of his body. If he really focused, Alec could swear he even felt the tumor in his brain.
Alec cleared his throat, “So if I do that, I won’t… die?”
The air in the room was suffocating him. He couldn’t be sick, he did everything right. When his dad died he made sure his siblings were taken care of. He was responsible in school, and made sure to get scholarships so his mom wouldn’t have to worry. He was everyone’s shoulder to cry on, and he never burdened others with his problems. He recycled and drove a freaking Prius! Things like this don’t happen to people like him.
“The fact is, we really don’t know what the outcome will be.”
“But if you had to guess, how long do you think I have?”
Dr. Garroway seemed to sink into his chair, as if a heavy burden fell onto his shoulders that was too heavy for him to carry. “At most? Maybe a couple of years. I have seen some live up to five.”
Five years. One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days.
It wasn’t enough time.
How was he going to coach his future kids soccer games? How was he going to walk Isabelle down the aisle? How was he going to travel the world with Magnus? Magnus.
How was he going to look into his loved ones eyes and tell them that he was dying?
Alec isn’t sure how he got here. One minute he was walking out of the hospital with a baggie full of informational brochures, and the next he is on a Central Park bench. It was a beautiful spring day, the grass was green, the birds were chirping. Even Happy Joe, the homeless man that lived in the park, smelled slightly better than usual. Everything in the air promised to be a good day. It had never really occurred to Alec when he was having a good day, that someone else was dealt a life changing blow. It’s not something he could easily forget now.
He was dying. Sure, everyone had an expiration date, but you were never supposed to know when it was. He was dying. Five years, at most. It could be a year from now, it could even be a few months from now. Questions kept circling and dancing in his head, and it made him dizzy.
What am I supposed to tell my family? How do I say it without falling apart? How can I keep them from falling apart? Who is going to take care of them when I’m gone?
Is going through treatment even worth it?
Dr. Garroway and him decided the best course of action was to start radiation and chemotherapy, his first round was next Friday, but he had many consultations to go to before the actaul treatment started. Alec distantly remembered that Magnus had a wedding planned that day. His clients were bursting out the seams with money, and this was a big ticket for him, he would have to go. Maybe Alec could bring Jace instead, if he wasn’t too tired from work. Jace just started at a new precinct, so he had the grunt work of night shifts at the police station. He knew Jace would drop anything to go with Alec, that anyone in his family would, he just wasn’t sure if he wanted them to. Not yet.
Alec wanted to feel normal for just a little while longer. He wanted to have lunch with his sister and mom on weekends, and he wanted to go to the basketball court with Jace to play a few games, and he wanted to be able to help Magnus plan their wedding. How could he do any of that with that dark shadow hanging over them? How could they not treat him differently?
His phone shook him out of his thoughts when it started to ring. Looking at the time he realized he had been sitting here for almost two hours. He saw on the caller ID that it was Magnus, and for the first time since he met Magnus he intentionally let it go to voicemail. He wasn’t ready to talk to him yet, or anyone else. Magus would know immediately that something was wrong.
Alec sighed and got up from the bench, and started to walk with no particular destination. On this beautiful day there were many families out in the park. Parents smiling while their kids ran, young couples holding hands, eldery people reading on the benches. Happy people were everywhere. Happy, healthy, living people. For a moment Alec felt a deep twinge of resentment, then immediately felt guilty. It wasn’t their fault he was sick, and that his days were limited. His phone buzzed again in his pocket, pulling it out he saw a text from Magnus.
Hello, darling. I just called to see how your appointment went. I know we were supposed to meet at Taki’s later but I just got a call from Izzy and your family is having dinner tonight and I said we would go. We are meeting there at 7. Call me back! I love you.
Sighing Alec dialed Magnus bracing himself. “Alexander! Did you get my text? Are you feeling well enough to go to your mom’s house tonight?” No. He didn’t. He wanted to lay in bed and sleep. He flinched when he realized he only had a couple more years before that’s exactly what he would be doing.
“Yeah, that’s okay with me. Do you just want to meet up there?”
“Well, I was hoping we could walk there together. I have been so busy this week that I feel like I have barely seen you. I miss you.” Soon you will have your whole life away from me…
“I miss you too. Yeah, I will run home soon and get ready to go.” Alec hoped he sounded as casual as he meant to.
“So, how was your appointment? I have been thinking about you all day.” Yeah, turns out it is just a giant tumor that is slowly killing me. How was your day? Alec couldn’t tell him the truth. Not yet, and not over the phone.
“Nothing too exciting. Just some new pain medication, and another check up next week to see how I’m doing.” Alec surprised himself with how easily the lie slid out.
“That’s great news. Thank you for going, I know you seem to think Advil will solve any problem, so I’m glad you actually went and got help. Anyway, I am just finishing up at the florist’s and then I will meet you at home, okay? See you soon, love.”
Alec wasn’t sure what he was dreading more, the radiation or breaking Magnus’s heart.
When Alec got home he jumped into the shower, hoping to scrub the day off. As if he could find the person he used to be before today. Just regular Alec, not a cancer patient. He heard Magus enter the apartment and call out his name. A tight sickening feeling closed around his chest.
No, Magnus. Don’t come in here. Bad things are about to happen.
Magnus walked straight into the bathroom without knocking, because after being in a relationship for six years there was no such thing as privacy. They were long past any guises of embarrassment, nothing about each other grossed them out. Alec wondered if Magnus would still feel the same when he starts getting sick from his treatments.
“Today was crazy. The Jefferson couple has their wedding next Friday and the bride has gone totally insane. She made one of her bridesmaids cry today because her shoes were rose gold, not gold. I told her that she will be so stunning that no one will even notice her shoes, but she was inconsolable. Then, she tried blaming me for her wedding band cancelling last minute. So now I have to find a new band in just a week’s time. I am charging them extra for this.” Magnus pulled open the shower door, and gave Alec a searing gaze, “But what a prize to come home to.”
Alec managed a smile, “Have you seen yourself lately? I am the real winner here.” That might be the only true thing Alec would manage to tell Magnus today.
Magnus winked before slowly taking off his clothes, “Then how about you and I celebrate our victory?” Alec swallowed, and felt his body heat up. It amazed him how even with everything going on, Magnus could still provoke him. When Magnus slid under the water with him, Alec was determined to forget about his problems, and focus on loving Magnus with everything in him.
Much later, when their fervent movement turned into soft touches, Alec managed to lift his head from his pillow and look at the clock. “Dammit, we need to get going soon.” Magnus lifted his head too and groaned. “As much as I love your family, I would be more than willing to skip tonight and spend the rest of it here with you. God, I can’t get enough of you.” Just that statement brought the choking fear back into Alec’s body. He remembered he still had to tell Magnus, tell him that one day he was going to be alone. I can’t do it!
To distract himself he got up and started to get dressed, “Well, if we are skipping tonight you can be the one to call Izzy and let her know.”
“Oh, you fight dirty, darling.” Magnus growled.
Once dressed and presentable, they made their way out and got a cab to take them to Alec’s mother's apartment. After Alec’s father passed away a few years ago, Maryse had downsized and moved into her own place. Everyone was shocked when she sold their home, but she said that she felt lonely with all that room but no family to fill it. Oh god, I have to tell my mother too, after she has already lost so much.
Magnus and him made small talk the way there and he tried to stay clear of any conversation about his day. He could only lie for so long. Maybe at dinner he will tell everyone. But as they stepped into his mother’s place that idea was shot quickly down. Because as they opened the door everyone yelled, “Surprise!”
It wasn’t just family here, all of their friends were here as well. Alec could see Lydia and her boyfriend John, Catarina, Ragnor. Even Hodge was there, an old business partner of his father’s. The apartment was decorated in silver and white streamers and balloons, and a banner was hung in the hallway that read, “Mr. and Mr.” An engagement party. Fan-fucking-tastic.
“You guys! This is amazing!” Magnus cried. Alec could only weakly smile and say, “Thanks.”
“Well we couldn’t let this moment go without a party! What kind of event planner would I be?” Clary winked at Magnus. Magnus and Clary started their own event planning business a couple years ago. They met at a convention in Manhattan and they bonded over their hatred of the cranky food caterer, Lorenzo Rey. The little redheaded scrap had fit in perfectly with the family, filling a gap they didn’t know existed. Not only did she make Magnus happy, but she made Jace happy too, and so Alec made space in his heart for her.
Izzy rushed up and hugged them both, “Now Magnus, I know that you and Clary probably have this wedding basically planned, but I would never forgive you if you didn’t let me help.”
“Of course you can help, my dear Isabelle. I need you to help with a very important job. Helping Alexander find a tuxedo.” Izzy laughed and Alec glared at her. “I think I am grown enough to be able to dress myself.” Both her and Magnus gave a mock glance of disapproval at his torn jeans and faded black sweater. Alec rolled his eyes and went to find Jace, while Magnus and Izzy laughed.
Jace was sitting at the kitchen counter nursing a beer, he looked worn. “Hey, is everything okay? You look tired.”
“These night shifts are killing me. I didn’t get much sleep today, I wanted to be awake when Clary got home.” One thing that had always surprised Alec was the devotion Jace had for Clary. Jace who used to be the ultimate player had met his match in Clary.
“I won’t be offended if you head home early, I know you guys are happy for me. You didn’t need to throw a party to prove it.”
Jace laughed, “Yeah, I’m sure Clary would be thrilled if I didn’t enjoy every second of this. Maybe the engagement party might not be my thing, but you better believe the bachelor party is where I am stepping up as the best man.”
“I never asked you to be my best man.” Alec tried to hold back his smile.
“You didn’t have to.”
Alec couldn’t help himself and he reached over and hugged Jace. Tightly. Jace made a shocked sound but held him back. Tears sprang to Alec’s eyes and he tried to control his emotions. How much longer am I going to have to do this?
“Alec, are you okay?” Jace’s face was concerned as he gripped his shoulder.
“Yeah, I guess with the wedding plans and all it’s made me emotional.”
Jace grinned wolfishly, “Pussy.”
Never mind, maybe dying was okay. Alec punched his shoulder.
“Boys! No fighting! Wait until everyone leaves.” Maryse said. She looked lovely in a plum colored dress and heels. She had her hair done and she looked happier than she had in years. Even her posture didn’t seem as stiff. She looked like the same mom that used to let Alec lick the spoon after she made brownies. The mom who was at every football game cheering from the sidelines. The mom who hugged Alec the day he said he was gay and said, “I know, and I love you still.” Until this moment, Alec didn’t realize how much he missed that mom, and he reached over and hugged her too.
“Alec is all about affection today. I think he might be sick.” Jace jokingly said. Ice filled Alec’s veins, I am.
“It took me months to get Alexander to show affection, don’t ruin all the progress, Blondie.” Magnus walked in with two flutes of champagne and handed one to Alec with a quick kiss to his cheek. All around Alec he was surrounded with love, so much that it almost suffocated him, but Alec found he didn’t mind it. Maryse pulled Alec and Magnus into the living room so they could greet all of their guests.
Catarina ran over to Magnus and hugged him, “Okay, let me see the ring, you haven’t posted any pictures of it on Instagram, and I am dying to see it.”
“Oh, you mean this little old thing?” Magnus held out his left hand with a flourish. When choosing the ring for Magnus, Alec knew it had to be bold, just like Magnus. It was a thick yellow gold band with an amethyst stone in the center with a diamond halo around it. When he saw it, he knew that it was meant for Magnus.
“Oh my god, it’s beautiful! How did Alec do it? Was it romantic?”
Magnus laughed, “Oh now this is a story!” Alec blushed, he knew he was never great when it came to romance, but his proposal was probably his biggest blunder. Second to prom with Lydia. He noticed that everyone in the room had stopped their conversations and circled around them to listen to Magnus. Magnus was like that, he was so bright and vibrant you couldn’t help be drawn towards him. Magnus noticed it too, and the showman that he was, raised his voice so everyone could listen.
“So I came home from work late after working a wedding, and Alec had laid rose petals on the floor and lit the room with candles. I think I knew then that he was going to propose, because Alec’s idea of romance is to cut french toast into hearts. Not that I don’t love that, darling, but you went above and beyond with this. So, I walk onto the balcony and I find Alec dressed up in a suit, and a romantic lobster dinner laid out. The meal was perfect, the company was even better. So we eat this wonderful meal, and I am just waiting for Alec to pop the question. I am not sure who was more nervous!” Alec knew that was a lie for his benefit. Magnus was always so composed, there was no way he could be nervous about that. “So here we are, drinking wine and enjoying our dessert of chocolate cake, and then finally Alexander clears his throat and gets up from the table. My heart is going a mile a minute, because I think, here we go, one of the most important moments of my life is finally happening. Well, unbeknownst to us, Alexander's shoe was untied. He tripped on his shoelace, and as he was going down he caught the tablecloth. He faceplants onto the floor and our dinner goes everywhere.” Everyone starts laughing at this, and Alec feels his face go hot and red. “So, he did not propose that night. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but not for long. The next morning, I am in the kitchen making breakfast and he just walks in and says ‘Will you please just marry me already?’ There has never been a more perfect moment in my life.” Magnus gazed lovingly at Alec, and Alec leaned over to kiss him. He thinks he hears Izzy tell them to get a room.
Alec disagrees, though privately. The most perfect moment for Alec is not when Magus said yes to his proposal. It is when Magnus first said “I love you”. When Alec realized that somehow this wonderful man was his. That for some reason Magnus wanted to be his.
“I suppose I messed up the proposal, but I got the answer I wanted.” Alec says and he takes a gulp of his champagne, and grips Magnus closer to his side, trying to summon up the courage to tell everyone exactly what Magnus means to him.
“I have messed up a lot of things in this relationship, and I know I am going to mess up so much more. I am not perfect, but for Magnus I am always willing to try. When I first met Magnus, I was afraid to want this, and I never thought I would get to have this. I’m grateful Magnus decided to stick around, he is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.” Looking around, Alec saw Izzy and his mom holding each other's hands with tears in their eyes. Lydia was in the corner hiding her smile behind her hand. Even Jace looked a little less cocky. Alec turned to face Magnus and saw that he wasn’t tearing up, or even smiling. He had a look of complete reverence, and Alec could see just how much Magnus loved him, it almost rivaled his own love for Magnus.
He could tell everyone right now about what happened today, and those looks of love Alec desperately craved would turn into horror. They wouldn’t abandon him, that he knew, but they would pity him. They would be his nurses, his caretakers, everything he did would be closely watched and scrutinized for any changes. All of their plans would be put on hold to help him, Alec couldn’t let them do that. Izzy was just about to graduate with her doctorate to be a pathologist. Jace was trying to climb up the ranks at the station. His mom was finally putting herself back together. And Magnus, oh Magnus, he would burn the whole world down to keep Alec with him. That decided him, he wasn’t going to tell them. He didn’t need them to help him, he needed them to be just as they were right now. As long as those smiles stayed on their faces, Alec could get through anything.
“Magnus, I can’t promise you a life full of perfect moments, and romance. I can’t promise that everything won’t fall apart. But one thing I can promise you is this, I will love you, and stay by your side for the rest of my life.”
Comments and suggestions are always welcome! I have never really posted any stories for anyone to read before so I don't mind any helpful tips!
Before this diagnosis Alec couldn’t really say he had a firm opinion about hospitals. Sure, no one enjoyed going, but before this Alec never thought of a hospital being hell itself. He hated it. He hated every single perfectly white floor tile, and the boring beige walls. He hated the tacky floral paintings that hung on the walls, and he especially hated the waiting. Waiting on results, waiting for the doctors, waiting for something to happen. There should be a certain amount of rush when it comes to a hospital, especially in the oncology department. Alec just found out he had a small handful of years left, he did not want to spend them in this fucking hospital.
“Alec? Dr. Garroway is ready to see you now.” The nurse said. He thinks her name is Emma, but honestly Alec had seen so many faces this past week they were all starting to blur together. Alec got up from his seat and put back the Home and Gardens magazine he wasn’t really reading. It was just something for his hands to fidget with.
Walking into Dr. Garroway’s office Alec felt numb. He had not been back into this room since he found out about his tumor. The last week had been filled with so many meetings with other doctors, oncologists, and nurses. All of them kind, and attentive, but Dr. Garroway was Alec’s favorite. He was straightforward in a way the others had not been, not giving him false hope, or saying he could beat this. Alec didn’t want to have hope, or pretend this was something he could beat. It would just be so much more crushing when his body failed him.
Dr. Garroway stood up to greet Alec, motioning for him to sit in the chair in front of his desk. “Good morning, Alec. How has everything been treating you?”
If I have to sit through one more goddamn meeting with another doctor, I might just end myself before the cancer even has a chance . “Pretty well.”
“I just wanted to touch base before you started your chemo. Looks like you have your first round this Friday, and I know you have seen so many people, but I just wanted to make sure you had everything you needed.”
“I think so, the whole thing sounds pretty easy. Sounds like I just sit in a chair for a while, with an IV in. And then after that I will throw up everything in my stomach, lose my hair, bruise like a peach, and feel like I might faint. So I’m pretty pumped for all of that.” After the initial shock wore off Alec just felt… tired.
Dr. Garroway chuckled, “That is the gist of it. As awful as all of that sounds, we are trying to keep the cancer from spreading. Who is going with you? It is best if patient’s have a loved one take them.”
“Oh, I haven’t thought about that. I might just take the bus. I don’t really need my family seeing me like that.”
Dr. Garroway gave him a strange look, he almost looked disappointed. For some reason that made Alec squirm. “I’m sure your family would want to be there for you. Not only for you, but for them as well. The people you love want to be there to help you.”
Alec looked down at his hands, picking at his nails. “I actually haven’t told anyone yet.”
“Ah, I see.” Alec looked up to see compassion on the older man’s face. Alec felt a need to confide in him. Alec usually liked to keep things locked away, at least until he absolutely could not contain it any longer.
“I don’t know how to tell them. How can I do that to them? To see them hurt like that. I know that I can’t keep it from them forever. Eventually they will notice I’m sick. That I don’t have the energy anymore, or when my hair falls out. My fiancé will definitely notice when my sex drive takes a dive. I want to tell them, but then I look at how happy they are and I feel so guilty to be taking that from them.”
“You make it sound like you asked to have cancer. This isn’t your fault, and while I don’t know your family, I doubt they would ever blame you for this. However, they might blame you for keeping this from them. If one of them had cancer, how would you feel if they kept you in the dark?”
Alec frowned at that. What if Magnus had cancer, or anyone in his family? He couldn’t ever imagine a world where he wouldn’t want to be by their side for all of it. To be able to be by their side for as long as he could, while he still could. Thinking of it that way, Alec felt ashamed he ever tried to keep it to himself. He knew the loyalty of his family, knew the lengths they would go for him.
Alec took a deep breath before responding, “But if I tell them, then this is all real.” He could feel his eyes start to burn. The doctor looked at him for a minute, studying him. Trying to figure out how to tell Alec that what was happening was inevitable.
“As horrible as this all is, this is your reality now. I can’t imagine being in your shoes, and I see people dying every single day. But you don’t have to walk alone. This burden is too heavy to be carried alone. It’s okay to rely on others, as difficult as that may be. Rant to the nurses when the pain starts to be too much, they will pull up a chair and listen to every word. They might even cry with you. Hell, even call me. Cuss me out when you’re so angry you can’t even see straight. Take a day with your family and just be yourself. Because you are going to need to remember who that was to get through this.”
Dr. Garroway got up from his seat and walked around his desk to grip Alec’s shoulder. At this point, Alec was sure that was the only thing keeping him grounded. “Alec, you don’t have to be alone.” Tears started to run down Alec’s cheeks, his throat felt sore and rough as words failed him.
“I don’t know how to get through this. I don’t think I’m strong enough.”
“No, Alec. You have no idea of the strength you possess until you are forced to endure.”
There wasn’t much left to say after that. Alec sat there quietly crying and soaking in Dr. Garroway’s strength. He wanted to be someone else, someone healthy. Someone who could promise their family a future. Someone who could live by Mangus’s side.
“There is a support group that I know of that meets at the community center twice a week, for people with cancer. The person who runs it, Simon, is a good friend of mine. He had cancer as a teenager, and he started it a few years ago to help people like him. He’s a good kid, I can give you his number.”
Which is how on a boring, cloudy Wednesday afternoon Alec found himself in front of the Helping Hands Community Center. He had called Simon right after his appointment when he was feeling vulnerable, and Simon had eagerly given him details. He seemed nice, passionate about what he was doing.
Alec had taken a week of vacation from work for the week from hell he had. Miraculously, Magnus had not caught on. He had been so busy with work that they hadn’t had much of a chance to catch up. Which was fine with Alec, he knew he had to tell Magnus the truth, but not yet. Not until he could wrap his head around it, which is what he had hoped this group would help him with.
“Are you going to go in, or just glare at it until it catches fire?”
Alec looked up to see a man smiling at him. He was tall, as tall as Alec, with broad shoulders and a handsome face, even though it seemed a little too pale, the dark circles under his eyes prominent...with no hair. He had cancer, he was a member of this group. Alec could feel his jaw drop, as he realized he was going to look like this.
“Yeah, I know I look like shit, but I didn’t think I looked that shocking.” The words sounded like they should be bitter, but they sounded easy. Like he had long accepted his luck.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I just… it’s just… I am supposed to be… I’m sorry.” Alec hoped God was watching and was so disappointed in him that he would smite him from where he stood.
The man waved off his apology, “Hey, that’s fine. I take it you’re Alec?”
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“Simon texted everyone we would be having a new member joining, and told us to be on our best behavior. Considering you have all of your hair, and you don’t look like shit like me, I take it you’re a newbie? My name is Andrew Underhill. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
“I have a brain tumor, I guess it doesn’t look too great for me, and my doctor recommended this group.”
“Yeah, this group has been great for me. It’s nice to be around people who get it. It’s also nice just to be anywhere besides my bed or the hospital. Have you started your chemo yet?”
“Uh, no. I start Friday.”
“Well then Alec, enjoy your last days of health. I’ll see you in there when you’re ready. Simon probably went out and got the good donuts for your first day, so I need to go in and snatch one while I can.” With that, Andrew walked up the steps and left Alec alone with his thoughts.
He could turn around, walk home, maybe grab a case of beers and watch crap documentaries. Pretend this whole week never happened, that he was still plain Alec Lightwood. But he wasn’t that man anymore. He wasn’t the boring financial manager, or the protective older brother, or the shy lover Magnus knew anymore. While he wasn’t quite sure who he was anymore, he knew those people in this building would be a good place to figure it out. Taking a deep breath, Alec walked up the steps to Helping Hands Community Center, and welcomed this new terrifying life.
Whoops, still no reveal to Magnus yet. I have a few plans for that. Feel free to give me advice for future chapters! Hope everyone is staying safe!
The Helping Hands Community Center was modest in size, a few meeting rooms, a small kitchen, and a gymnasium, a mural painted in the hallway of a rainbow made with small handprints. There were weird stains in the faded blue carpet, and a pungent smell of sweat and bleach. The first door on the right had a sign on the door that said “Welcome, Alec!” which made Alec roll his eyes. At least someone is excited about all of this.
Walking into the meeting room, Alec saw Andrew talking to a shorter man with glasses and a Star Wars t-shirt. Andrew glanced up from his conversation and gave Alec a small smile. The man he was speaking to practically sprinted over to Alec to greet him. “Hey! You must be Alec. I’m Simon, I talked to you yesterday. Andrew already told me he met you outside so let me introduce you to the others”
Looking around the room it was pretty plain, it looked like a regular classroom with a whiteboard at the front of the room, chairs had been moved to fit in a circle. Tables had been cleared to the side except one with drinks and snacks on it. There were motivational posters plastered around the room, Alec wondered if they were always there or if Simon was as cheesy as he thought. Simon brought him to a man who looked as welcoming as the gates of hell. He had a pasty complexion, and Alec could tell that normally he had dark skin, but today he looked almost dead.
“This is Raphael, he has been with this group for about a year now. Raphael, this is Alec Lightwood.”
Alec reached out to shake his hand but the man scoffed at him. “I know this is Alec, Simon. You have been talking about our new member all day. Don’t think I will keep running these errands for you, like getting snacks, to make the new one feel welcome”
“Well, I wouldn’t worry about that Raphael, if my doctor is right, I won’t be around in this group long enough to bother you.” Alec sneered. Where did that come from? Alec had always been sarcastic, sometimes moody according to Izzy, but he was never morbid. Did that come with a death sentence? Alec was about to apologize but Raphael just smiled and started to walk away, “I think it’s gonna be okay having you around here, Lightwood.”
There was an awkward silence between Alec and Simon after Raphael had walked away, filled only by the chatter of other members. “I’m really sorry, Simon. I will try to bite my tongue.” Simon waved him off, “I wouldn’t worry about it, everyone here has a sick sense of humor. It’s a coping mechanism. Finding humor in things traumatic so it doesn’t seem so traumatic. We talk about that in here quite a bit. I actually encourage members to say what they would like, to let out steam. Anyway, let me finish introducing you to everyone. You know Andrew, and the girl beside him is Maia. Then there is Maureen, Meliorn, Alaric and finally Aline.” Everyone seemed friendly enough, giving Alec a small smile, but Alec couldn’t help but be sad. There was so much tragedy in one room, and he wondered who all would be here this time next year. Would he?
“Well, I think it’s time we get started, everyone if you could just take a seat.”
Alec found himself sitting in between Andrew and Maia. At first glance, you wouldn’t even know Maia was sick, her hair was curly and wild, her posture confident, and her eyes were daring you to cross her. But looking closer, you could see the shadows under her eyes, the faint bruising on her arms, and the droop in her shoulders. She still looked beautiful and vibrant, Alec hoped he could be like her.
“So everyone, since we all know Alec is new here, I thought maybe he could start and introduce himself. Alec, feel free to talk about anything. This is a judgement free zone, because odds are everyone in this room has dealt with the same. You only have to share what you are comfortable with.”
All eyes were on him, and Alec couldn’t help but feel nervous. Who was he to complain? He just started this journey, had yet to go through his first round of chemo. He hadn’t even told his family yet, not much in his life had changed yet, but at the same time everything changed, and maybe it was time to start adjusting to that change.
“Well, I work at Idris Marketing in finance. I’m the guy that crunches the numbers and helps them make money. Uh, I have a brother, Jace, he’s a cop. My sister Izzy is finishing her doctorate right now, so I’m really proud of her for that. I have a fiance, his name is Magnus. We have been together for almost five years now. My first appointment for chemo is Friday, I’m told it’s very simple, but I’m not sure I believe that.”
“Doctor’s like to lie about how easy this is going to be to trick you to stay alive. They don’t profit from dead people.” Raphael quipped and the group members laughed, even Alec joined in. Suddenly he didn’t feel so nervous with these people, they knew what he felt. Sure, he wasn’t where they were, but they had been where he was. Scared, and unsure where to go from here.
“I swear, when I get better, I am going to be a mortician. You will never lose business, and at this point in my life a corpse isn’t even the scariest thing I’ve seen.” Maia said.
Aline shook her head, “When I’m better, I am going to go to school to work in a maternity ward. After all of this I want to work with people at the beginning of their life, not the end.” Alec had to smile at that, because what a beautiful way to look at it.
“I like this positive thinking. What else are you going to do when you get better?” Simon said. Raphael rolled his eyes again but said nothing.
“When I get better, I am going to finally have sex with my husband again.” Andrew stated. Alec was suddenly very alarmed.
“You can’t have sex with cancer?” He knew that his sex drive would go down, but he hoped he would at least rise to the occasion every once in a while.
“Well we could, but even on my good days my husband is too scared to even try. He says he doesn’t want to cause any setbacks. Part of me wonders if he just says that, because he’s too nice to say that I’m not the man I used to be.” Would Magnus think that?
“Your husband loves you, Andrew. He isn’t in this for the sex.” Aline said. Alec liked Aline, she seemed like sunshine, bright and warm.
“I wish Jordan would have thought that way.” Maia muttered. Everyone looked at her in understanding.
“Jordan didn’t deserve you. If he couldn’t stand by you through this then he didn’t deserve to be in your life at all.” Maureen replied. Alec didn’t want to pry into Maia’s life, but he could assume. Jordan left when things got too heavy to handle. There was no doubt in Alec’s mind that Magnus would stay, that wasn’t what Alec was afraid of. What am I so afraid of?
“I don’t even blame him for leaving. I understood why he left, sometimes it’s even hard to live with myself. Why should I expect him to be able to?” Maia tried to sound steady, but Alec could hear the quiver in her voice.
“Maia-” Simon started but was cut off.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Maia said firmly. The air was thick and Alec wasn’t quite sure what to do or say. He felt like he should say something, but these people were still strangers to him, and he had never been too great at reading a room. He always relied on Izzy or Magnus for that, they had the uncanny ability to ease through any situation, he envies that.
“Okay, we don’t have to talk about that. Does anyone else have anything they would like to share?” Simon looked around the room expectantly.
“I haven’t told my family yet about the cancer.” Alec blurted out. He didn’t even mean to say it, but it felt like all the pressure in his chest evaporated. He could finally talk about this and not hurt anyone.
“Well, this is a tough conversation to have. It’s understandable why you are having some hesitations. Were planning on telling them before your first chemo appointment?” Simon says calmly. Alec liked that, liked that for at least to this one person the world wasn’t crashing down around them.
Alec picked at his nails, “I want to, but I don’t know the right time. Magnus is so busy, and I feel like I should tell him first. It’s only fair to him. I want to tell my family when we are all together, I don’t think I could make an announcement to each person without going crazy.”
“When I told Helen, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. She couldn’t stop crying, but after the shock wore off it was like she became a whole new person. She has been a part of this fight as much as anyone else, and when I couldn’t be strong for myself, it’s nice to turn to her and know that she is strong enough for us both.” Aline explained.
Andrew nudged Alec’s shoulder, “My husband was with me when I got my diagnosis. I couldn’t keep him out of the room, I told him he didn’t have to come with me. He said that I was a part of his future, and he deserved to be there if there were going to be any changes with that. I’m sure Magnus would feel the same way, and even if he doesn’t, why waste what time you have left with someone who doesn’t love you the way you love them?”
“It’s not that I’m afraid of him leaving me, but what if he stays because he pities me?”
“Well, duh, he is gonna feel sorry for you. Anyone with any kind of empathy feels sorry for us. This fucking sucks. You are gonna see it everywhere you go, people stare at your bald head and know immediately what that means.” Maureen stated.
“Maureen is right, Alec. When I had cancer in high school, I missed everything. Football games, school dances, hanging out with my friends. My mom cried for me all the time, because there wasn’t anything she could do for me. She didn’t just feel bad for me, she felt bad because when you love someone you do everything you can to see them happy. With this though, you’re powerless.” Simon said.
Walking home from the meeting Simon’s words kept echoing in his head.
You’re powerless. You’re powerless.
Alec had always wanted to have control over his life, in everything he did. Structure and routine is what made him calm, centered. Now he felt weightless and out of control, like chaos was now the only thing he could count on.
Well, not the only thing. He needed to tell his family. Starting with Magnus. Alec took out his phone and dialed his mother’s number.
“Hello, Alec. This is a nice surprise.”
“Hey mom, I just wanted to let you know that this Sunday I am having a family dinner. I am gonna call Izzy and Jace and invite them too.”
“What’s the occasion? Usually Magnus is the one who pulls these things together. Not that I’m complaining.”
“I just wanted to see everyone, soon everything is going to be crazy busy, and I just wanted to tell you guys something.” Not a lie, but not going into the truth. Alec couldn’t tell his mother over the phone. Someone needed to be there to call 911 when she had a stroke from the news.
“Is everything okay, honey?” Alec winced at her worried tone. He forgot that mom’s had a radar for all things bad when it came to their children.
“Nothing to worry about, mom. I’m fine.” I’m dying, my world is falling apart, and I am going to tear yours down with it, but I’m fine, I promise, I won’t let anything bad happen to you.
“Well, okay. Let me know what you want me to bring.”
“Okay, mom. Hey, I am heading into work right now, so I’ll talk to you later. Love you.” Please don’t ever forget how much I love you.
Alec had to wipe at his eyes before walking through the thick glass doors to his office building. He ignored the security guard Raj, because he was in no mood to talk to the prick. He walked into the elevator and pressed the number to the top floor. If Alec was going to do this, he might as well go straight to the boss, rather than having everyone hear second hand.
Imogene Herondale was… intimidating. That was the nicest word Alec could think of. She was picky, demanding, and sometimes just downright mean. There were rumors she once kicked a puppy and laughed. When Alec first started he thought that was just a ridiculous rumor, but the longer he worked there the more he believed it. Alec respected her, mostly out of fear, but partly because she was Jace’s grandmother. Imogene did not approve of her daughter's choices in men, work, or morals. So she cut Celine off, and when Celine died, Jace had nowhere to go. Eventually Imogene came around to accepting Jace, it was still an awkward relationship, but one Jace still clung to. In a way, Alec understood why, you always chase for your family’s approval, even if it is better for you to let go.
Alec knocked on Imogene’s door, and waited for entry. He wanted to stay on her good side, especially if he wanted to keep his job.
Alec walked in and looked around the office, it had been a while since he had stepped in here. The walls and carpet were white, not a stain or speck to be seen. The paintings on the walls were contemporary pieces of black and gold. The chairs in front of her desk were uncomfortable and unwelcoming. Probably because you truly were not welcome.
“Mr. Lightwood. What brings you into my office?” Unannounced and uninvited . Alec could feel her looking down on him, even from where she sat at her desk. He couldn’t blame her. Instead of his usual suit and tie, he was wearing torn jeans and a sweater, not exactly the look of a working professional.
“I wanted to talk to you, there have been some changes in my personal life that might extend into my job.”
“Your personal life stays out of your job. Period. If you can’t work to the standards that are expected of you than perhaps you should-”
“I have cancer.”
The shocked look that came across Imogene’s face was priceless. Something Alec would cherish, in a twisted way.
“Now, I don’t want to quit my job. I still want to work until I am unable to. I was thinking that I could work from home, like last year when that water pipe burst. I could bring my laptop with me when I am having chemo. To my understanding I will just be sitting in a chair, and it’s pretty boring. I could still come to the mandatory meetings once a week, and really, my presence isn’t needed all the time in the office. I am willing to make this work as long as you are.”
Imogene still said nothing, she stared at Alec as if seeing him for the first time. Finally, she sighed and said, “Does Jace know?” It almost sounded like she was concerned for him.
“Not yet, I am telling him and my family this Sunday over dinner. I would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to him yet. He should hear this from me directly.”
Imogene nodded her head, “Of course, besides I’m not the one for gossip. Now, about your job, legally I can’t fire you for having cancer. You are competent at your job and you have never given me a reason to doubt that. I expect you to check in once a week, and if you can no longer keep up, please contact me and we will change your work schedule.”
At the nod of her head Alec was dismissed, he turned back towards her before he walked out, “Thank you.” He quickly left before she could say anything else.
Alec decided to take a taxi cab home, feeling drained. Reflecting back onto the day, Alec made a checklist of everyone who knew. In a way, he felt like everyone else was just practicing before telling the people who really mattered. Remembering that he had yet to tell Jace and Izzy about Sunday he pulled out his phone and sent a text to their group chat, quickly receiving texts back that they would be there.
The cab pulled up to his apartment, and Alec paid the man plus a tip and walked inside. Alec was surprised to find Magnus already home, sitting on the couch with his phone.
“Hey, Magnus. What are you doing home so early? I thought you would be late tonight.” Alec reached down and kissed his cheek.
“Well turns out the groom slept with the bride’s cousin so the wedding is “on hold”. Apparently they need to work out their differences before making this commitment. So while their relationship is crashing, my evening is now free, and I get to spend some much needed time with my beautiful fiancé. How was your day? You aren’t in your work clothes. Did you take today off?” Alec could practically see the warning bells ringing in Magnus’s head. It was time to tell him the truth, he could see that now.
His palms started to sweat and he felt lightheaded.
Yes, Alec was powerless to protect Magnus. But one thing Alec learned today at his meeting today was that Magnus didn’t need to be protected. He was Alec’s partner, the one he chose to live his life with. So it was time to start treating him as such.
“I did take today off. My work schedule is going to change here soon. Actually, a lot of things are about to change.” Alec sat down next to Magnus and held his hand. He could feel Magnus’s engagement ring pressing into his hand. A symbol of his commitment to Magnus. Of honesty and loyalty.
“What do you mean?” Magnus put his phone down and turned to face Alec, his dark brown eyes filled with concern, his eyebrows furrowed. He was on high alert, and now that Alec had started, he knew that Magnus would make him finish.
No turning back now.
Two chapters in one night? I am emotionally exhausted after writing this. I was going to let Magnus find out through other means, but Alec is an honest man. It fit his character more for him to face this head on. I hope you enjoy!
Magnus became a wedding planner because he loved the spectacle of it all. He loved the flowers, the cake, the dresses, the music. He loved taking a person’s vision and bringing it to life. He did not get into the wedding business because he believed in soul mates, and fairy tale endings. He never believed that there is only one person out there meant for you. There are billions of people, and thousands of those people could suit you. He had had many relationships, all special to him, all leaving a scar or two on him, but none of them permanent.
Until his Alexander.
After meeting Alec, it put his whole soul mate theory to the test. He was perfect for Magnus. Before Alec, Magnus never really understood how a person could be a home. How being tied to one person could be so freeing. No other relationship he had was like the one he had with his beloved, never had there been one so intimate. Not just romantic intimacy, which had always been incredible, but the intimacy of knowing another person so well, and being known in return.
Magnus cherished the little things as well. The little ways Alec showed his love, from picking up his favorite snacks at the grocery store without being asked, renting a movie he thought Magnus might like, and at night when even in sleep Alec pulled Magnus tight.
Not every feeling in a relationship was a warm caress. There were the small frustrations, the bitter arguments, and the worry. Oh, the worry! Magnus had never fussed over another person quite like this. Bringing an extra pair of gloves because he knows Alec never remembers, tucking pain relievers in his briefcase just in case. The way that when it rains outside Magnus wonders if Alec remembered his umbrella, and making a note to pick up Alec’s favorite tea on the way home to warm him up just in case he didn’t.
Yet, through all of that, Magnus had never been worried to the point where it felt like his skin was too tight, that the room was somehow too hot and too cold at the same time. Alec was steady and dependable, constantly reminding Magnus there was no need to worry.
Until Alec had sat down with clammy hands, Magnus vaguely noted the split nails and pulled hangnails, a sure sign of Alec’s nerves, and told him how life was changing. Changing? Our life is perfect, darling, there is no need for change. Magnus wondered if this is when Alec leaves him, when he realizes that Magnus is too much, as past lovers had told him. When he tells Magnus that he didn’t want to be married to him, that he didn’t want to devote his life to him.
You’re being ridiculous. His Alexander was not callous and cruel like former loves. But Magnus could not deny the fear in veins, of when Alec fell out of love with him, and how he would survive in the aftermath of devastation.
“What do you mean?” Magnus wasn’t quite sure he wanted to hear the answer.
“You know how I have been having a lot of headaches lately? I told you that I went to the doctor and was prescribed medication. Well, that wasn’t exactly true.” With those words Alec had doused one fear, but fanned the flame on another.
“You didn’t go to the doctor? Why would you lie about that?” His Alexander did not lie, he had a horrible poker face and a firm moral compass.
“I did go to the doctor. Many times, actually. They did some brain scans because they weren’t quite sure what was going on.” Alec’s eyes began to fill up with tears. No. Magus could physically feel his world begin to shift, because he knew that whatever news came next wasn’t pleasant.
“Why? Why didn’t you tell me? What’s wrong? Alexander, what did they say?” So many questions overwhelmed him, he needed to know every detail, but at the same time couldn’t bear to hear more. Magnus was leaning up now, trying to make eye contact with Alec, but he would not meet his eye.
“I’m so sorry, Magnus. I wanted to tell you but I didn’t want to scare you. You have been so busy with work, and I didn’t want to add on to the stress. I thought I was okay, I didn’t know. I am so sorry, please forgive me.” Alec was crying now, tears ran freely down his face.
“Forgive you for what? Alexander, please. What is going on?”
“It’s cancer, Magnus.”
And Magnus’s world stopped. Cancer?
No. No. No, no, please, God. No.
Magnus tried to make sense of Alec’s words, replaying them over and over again. No matter what order he put them, they were senseless.
“Cancer?” The world felt slick and bitter in his mouth.
“I’m sorry.” Alec was sobbing now, his chest heaving and shoulders shaking. Magnus tried to focus on one point on the wall to stop the room from spinning.
“How?” Air was suddenly poisonous, that was the only sensible reason. The only way it made sense for his not being able to catch his breath, for the dark spots clouding his vision, and how his hands began to shake.
“There is a tumor in my brain. I start chemotherapy on Friday, but no surgeon would take the chance in removing it from where it’s positioned. My doctor has been sending my case around, trying to find someone who would be willing to try. The odds are not in my favor.” A bitter laugh came out of his love, a horrible sound that Magnus wanted erased from his memory.
“They can’t remove it? But, if they can’t remove it, then how will you get better?” Magnus didn’t know much about cancer, and he felt the urge to call Catarina and demand any and all information she knew. She was an ER nurse, she saw things like this every day.
Alec shook his head, he still had yet to look at Magnus. Magnus gripped his chin and pulled his head up. Looking into Alec’s eyes he knew this was real. The eyes he fell in love with.
“They aren’t sure on how this will really turn out. The chemo will just help the spread, but won’t necessarily stop it. And if no surgeon will remove the tumor..” Alec didn’t finish his sentence.
“But, you’ll be okay, right?” Magnus forced the words out, the lump in his throat too painful. Alec had to be okay, Magnus needed him. He needed Alec like he had never needed another person before. His love for Alec was too strong, the feeling he had too deep. There was one truth that was a constant in Magnus’s life, and that was that he could not be separated from him.
Alec looked down and shook his head. “No, Magnus. I won’t be. I’m dying.”
Magnus thought he knew pain, he had known loss before, but he had never been faced with a pain so deep it fractured his very soul.
No, not him! Not Alec. Not the man who made funny faces at babies on the subway, not the man who let his sister dress him up when she’s had a bad day, not the man who stole Magus’s heart.
Magnus stood up on shaky legs and started to pace, he needed a plan. He needed to write down a list of everything they needed to do, everything that would keep Alec with him. Because Alec was not allowed to die. Not before he married him, and had children, grandchildren. Not before they had their life together. They hadn’t done enough yet, hadn’t traveled the world, or made love in Paris. Magnus wasn’t finished kissing him yet, or telling him how much he loved him. It wasn’t enough!
There was a strange sound, like a wounded animal. It wasn’t until Alec came behind him and pulled him close that he realized it was coming from him.
“Shh, Magnus. It’s okay. Everything is going to be okay.”
“It’s not okay! None of this is okay. How long have you known?” Magnus demanded. He could feel the shock wearing off and he was falling quickly into anger.
“Not long.” Alec said sheepishly.
“I found out the night of our engagement party,” he confessed.
The spiraling thoughts came to a screeching halt.
“Our engagement party? That was over a week ago. How could you not tell me sooner?” His body felt hot now, lava had replaced his blood.
“I wanted to, but I was so afraid! You were so happy that night, and I didn’t want to be the one to take that away from you. I wanted to pretend that everything was okay still. And my mom, Magnus, she is going to fall apart. She barely held it together when dad died, how am I going to tell her that she is going to have to go through that again?” Alec began to shake again, and all the rage left Magnus. How could he blame Alec for that? He quickly pulled Alec against him, Alec leaned his head on Magnus’s shoulder and sobbed. “I’m so sorry, Magnus, I wanted to tell you as soon as I found out. I just wanted to be the man you loved still. I didn’t want you to see me as less.”
“Hush, darling. I would never see you as less than the perfect man you are. Though, you should have told me about the scans, I should have been right by your side for that. Alec, you need to promise me to tell me everything from now on. I need to know this, understand? You said your first appointment is Friday, right? What time?”
“Um, well my appointment is at ten, but I need to be there early for blood work and signing papers.”
“Okay, we can do that.” Magnus nodded, starting to form lists in his head on things he will need. He will have to Google a checklist on what he should bring to the appointment, he didn’t want to be unprepared.
“We? Magnus, no, I know on Friday you have that wedding in Albany to go to. You have been planning that for a year, you can’t skip that.”
“I am not letting you go alone, that is non negotiable, Alec.” Magnus glowered.
“I won’t go alone, I’ll bring someone with me. You can even Facetime me whenever you want, but please don’t change your whole life for this.”
“Who else knows?” If Magnus was the last person to know about this, his head might actually explode.
“You are the first family member to know. Oh, that reminds me, I invited everyone over on Sunday for dinner to tell them. But, today I went to a support group for cancer patients, so they all know. I like them. I also told my Imogene today so I can work from home now.”
“Work? Alec, you shouldn’t be working.” Magnus was even debating about leaving his own job. He’s not sure how he could leave Alec every morning now, the need to stay by his side already starting to overwhelm him. He had to travel sometimes for destination weddings also, how could he leave Alec for extended periods of time? Magnus quickly shut that line of thinking down, it was an easy choice. He wouldn’t leave. Couldn’t. If Alec was really dy- leaving, then Magnus would not waste a single moment. But that was preposterous, Magnus reminded himself. Alec wasn’t leaving him.
“I’m fine, Magnus. I told her I would work until I can’t.”
“We will discuss that more later, but right now we have other things to focus on.”
“You’re right, like how you're not skipping the wedding on Friday.”
Magnus could feel a migraine coming on, his love was the most stubborn person on this earth.
“Magnus, I know you want to support me, I appreciate that. How about we compromise? I will give you the schedule for all of my appointments, and then you can schedule all of yours around that. With no complaints from me. Friday won’t even be that big of a deal. It’s the later ones when I actually start to get sick that I will need you there. You know, to hold the bucket for me when I vomit, and help me stand when I’m too weak on my own.” Alec said it casually, but Magnus tensed up, realizing just how bad this was going to be.
“I guess that sounds fair.” Magnus grudgingly said. They stood in silence after that, holding each other, Alec gently rocking them back and forth. Magnus felt like a bomb had gone off, but Alec looked peaceful. He had more time to adjust to this.
Alec sighed, “Yeah, I wanted to tell them all at once. I know you and Clary are close, but could you not say anything? I don’t want to put her in a position where she has to keep secrets from Jace.”
“I agree, Alexander. I won’t tell a soul about this. Now, tell me darling. Are you okay?”
“I really don't know. Sometimes I am, but then sometimes I just feel like crawling into bed and ignore the world. I’m sorry if I get to be too much to handle. I don’t want you to feel like you have to stay though. If you want to leave, I get it. I really do.”
That made even less sense to Magnus than anything else.
“Leave? Oh, darling, it is going to take a lot more than cancer to keep me away from you. I love you. More than anything else, I am with you. Through everything.”
Alec teared up again and smiled, looking like a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. “I love you too.” Magnus pulled Alec in again, resting his head on Alec’s chest. He could hear Alec’s heartbeat, a steady rhythm that sustained Magnus’s world. A grim determination filled him, and he knew with absolute certainty, he would not let anything take this away from him.
“I can stay a little while longer, I don’t have to leave yet.” Magnus insisted the next morning as he packed. Usually Magnus always packed the night before any trip no matter how short. But last night, Magnus and Alec just held each other, with no intention of getting up. Even though Magnus was leaving for a couple days for a wedding, Alec felt great, lighter. The hardest part for him was over now that he told Magnus, it wasn’t going to be any easier telling his family, but at least he didn’t have to lie anymore.
“Come on, Magnus. It’s two days, I will be okay on my own for a couple days, besides I have lunch plans today with Lydia, and I have some work to catch up on so I will be in and out of the house all day.”
Magnus paused from packing, “You’re going out? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Alec could see Magnus chewing his lip, his gaze wasn’t quite focused either. Alec reached over and gave him a quick peck on the lips.
“Stop worrying. I still have approximately 26 hours until I start chemo, after that you are free to worry about me as much as you want. I can’t stay in this apartment all day worrying about tomorrow.”
Magnus frowned, “So you are worried? I can stay home, I’ll call Clary and ask if she can cover for me.” Pulling out his phone he began dialling Clary’s number, Alec pulled his phone away, quickly receiving an unimpressed glare from Magnus.
“Absolutely not! I know how hard you worked on this wedding, you should be there. Besides, these people are paying for the Great Magnus Bane, the best wedding planner on the east coast. Let’s not make all of the bride's father’s money go to waste.”
Magnus gave a tired laugh but didn’t say anything, just continued to look through his bag to make sure he packed everything he needed. Alec was sure he had done this multiple times already, Magnus was more distracted than he realized. Walking behind Magnus he put his arms around him and kissed his temple.
“I know you think that staying with me right now is being supportive, I love you for that. But believe me all I need right now is for things to be normal, just for a little while.” Alec could feel Magnus sigh against him, he reached behind him and ran his fingers through Alec’s hair.
“I know you will be okay, I know I am worrying for nothing right now. But this is the last time I am leaving for more than an evening, on Monday when I get back to the office I’m going to move things around so I can be here with you. Remember to write down all of your appointments for me, because this is the only appointment I am going to miss. You can’t keep anything from me now, Lightwood.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Bane. You really do have to leave soon though, Bridezilla will kill you if you’re late.” Alec pulled away and picked up Magnus’s bags and carried them to the door.
“You’re right, I know.” Magnus leaned up and gave Alec a lingering kiss, Alec pulled away and picked up Magnus’s bags and walked to the door, Magnus following behind, “I will have my cell phone and work phone on me at all times, so feel free to call me at any time. Keep me updated tomorrow, and if I don’t hear from you I am dropping everything, Bridezilla be damned, and coming home” Walking to the car, Magnus held Alec’s hand “Who are you taking tomorrow, by the way?”
Alec stalled by putting Magnus’s bags into their car, closing the trunk door Alec said, “Well, I’m not sure yet.”
“What about Lydia?”
“I thought about it, I have to tell her today anyway.”
“If she can’t come, I’m coming tomorrow. Our deal was that I would do this last wedding away from home as long as someone went with you.” Magnus said stubbornly.
“You know Lydia, of course she will come with me. Now, you really do have to head out. Try to have fun, I love you. Text me when you get there.”
“I love you too, Alexander. So much.” Magnus blew one more kiss before getting in the car and driving off.
Alec arrived at Lily’s Deli early to guarantee that he would get their favorite booth for lunch, walking in Lily smiled and waved, even though she had a line of folks waiting. “Hey, Alec! The usual for you and Lydia?” She always had a soft spot for Lydia and him, they were her best customers. They had found this hole in the wall deli in college, and made it their tradition to come at least once a week.
“Thanks, Lily. Lydia won’t be here for a little while, so I am just gonna wait for her. Today’s lunch is on me though, so don’t let Lydia bully you into letting her pay.”
Lily laughed, “As if that little imp could ever bully me!”
Smiling, Alec went to their booth and looked around, reminiscing. Not much had changed since college, the floorboards still worn and creaky. The walls at one point were probably white, but was a faded yellowish color now. The posters of old movies were frayed and torn. Alec enjoyed the familiarity, the unchanging dependability of the place. Even Lily herself hadn’t changed, her ever present smile, wicked humor, and spiky black hair. Lydia and him joked she would never age.
Alec could hear Lily greet Lydia before he saw her, when he looked up she looked flustered.
“I have had the day from hell”, she grumbled as she sat next to him.
What a great fucking day to tell her.
“I had to fire someone today because he was stealing from the office. Not like a few pens here and there, he stole five hundred dollars of printer ink, and used the company credit card for a hotel room. He thought if he used his own, his wife would find out about the escort he hired. He didn’t think we checked the receipts close enough to figure it out. Idiot.”
Lydia worked in HR at an accounting and legal firm. She had gone to school for law, but after she didn’t pass the bar exam she got a little discouraged and never tried again. That always struck Alec as odd, Lydia was smart and tenacious. He wondered if that was the problem, she was too smart and had never really failed at anything before.
“But, I don’t want to talk about my work. I want to talk about John.” Lydia looked a little dreamy saying John’s name. They had met at a conference in San Francisco, and they had been trying to make the long distance relationship work. He would fly to New York for weekends, and she would go to San Francisco for holidays.
“Oh yeah? What’s new with your perfect beau?” Alec said as Lily dropped off their sandwiches and lemonade. Starving, Alec dug into his pastrami sandwich, trying not to spill mustard on himself.
“Well, he is flying up tonight, and him and I are going on a weekend trip to Rhode Island.”
“That’s great!” Well, shit. Magnus is going to flip.
Lydia gave him a look, “You sure? That didn’t sound so enthusiastic.”
Alec cleared his throat, “Yeah, I’m fine, I just didn’t sleep well I guess. Anyway, tell me more, what are you guys gonna do this weekend?”
Lydia happily chatted through lunch, and Alec made sure to try to look interested, but inside he was conflicted. He knew he had to tell Lydia, but he didn’t want to ruin her trip or make her feel guilty for leaving.
“Alec? What’s wrong?” He realized that he had spaced out and had missed out on half of the one sided conversation.
He tried to give a convincing smile, “Sorry, zoned out for a bit. What were you saying?”
Lydia narrowed her eyes, “Don’t pull that with me. You might be able to flutter your eyes and get away with it with Magnus, but you know you can’t lie to me. So cut the bullshit and tell me.”
Alec sighed, “Lydia, you and I need to talk.”
Lydia did not cry, or go hysterical, and he never really imagined she would. Lydia was a sensible person, and was not fond of public displays. She did however, look completely pissed off.
“You’ve known for over a week and you’re just now telling me? You tell me everything! Sometimes I can’t get you to shut up, but the brain tumor is what you keep quiet? Are you serious?”
Alec was told there were seven stages of grief, and it looked like Lydia skipped all but the anger.
“I haven’t even told my family yet, Lyd. I just told Magnus last night. Believe me, you are one of the first people to know.”
“Oh god, how bad was it? I hope he is doing okay.” That’s what Alec loved most about Lydia, her unending kindness towards others, and how quickly she forgave.
“It was horrible, but I think he is doing well. I think he is still in shock, he keeps staring at me as if I am going to disappear.” Last night, Magnus had held him tighter than usual, and Alec could feel Magnus’s tears hit his chest as they laid in bed.
“You’re not going to die though.” Lydia said it with conviction, as if dying was never even an option to begin with.
“I am going to try very hard not to.” Alec said wryly.
“No, Alec. You cannot die. So you won’t.”
I’m sure a lot of families feel that way . Alec thought of the group members, all of them had loved ones who could never accept anything but a full life. If love kept a person’s heart beating, hardly anyone would ever die.
Lydia’s phone rang, interrupting Alec’s musings, she got up to take the call somewhere privately, giving Alec the chance to check his own phone.
Made it to Albany. How did lunch go? Do I need to come back? Magnus texted him.
I told Lydia. Doing well, stay where you are. I’m fine.
So she is going with you tomorrow?
One more lie, Alec decided, and then he would never lie to Magnus again.
Yeah, we are all set.
Lydia walked back to their table, looking miserable.
“John got an earlier flight from his layover in Detroit. He is gonna be here in a couple hours. I am just gonna tell him that I’m not really up for a trip this weekend. He’ll understand.”
“Stop. I’m fine. You can’t put your whole life on hold. You said it yourself that I’m not dying. So no need to treat me like I am, got it?”
Lydia smiled at that, “You’re right. I just feel bad, my best friend just told me he had cancer, and now I am heading out of town?”
“Well, you just had to fire someone, you hate your job, and your friend has cancer. Sounds like you need this vacation.”
Lydia and him continued to talk for a while, about his treatments and medical plans. When they left Lily’s, Lydia had hugged him tightly and made him swear to call her if anything happened. Once Alec got home he realized that he didn’t have anyone to go with him tomorrow. He didn’t really have a lot of friends outside of his family besides Lydia.
It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in his head, and with a groan Alec pulled out his phone and called the only person he could think of in a time like this.
Chapter 7: *SPOILERS*
I’m going to give some ending hints here so if you don’t want any spoilers click away now! :)
I have written this out once before but deleted it because I know some people are super against spoilers, so I decided to warn you first before I ruin anything.
So when I originally started out this out I honestly was not sure where I was going to take this. Did I want Alec to die or did I want a happy ending? I decided to just start it and see where it took me. I know a lot of you are not okay with that as much as I am. So I decided after I finished the first couple of chapters to have two separate endings.
Sometimes I am in the mood to sit down and cry and sometimes I want to just be happy.
So one ending will be where Alec lives, and then I will have an alternate ending that’s much more sad. That way, you can decide where you want this to go.
I WILL GIVE WARNINGS BEFORE THE SAD ONE. Don’t worry guys, I won’t spring a death on you without letting you know first.
Thanks for reading! I love all of your comments and I hope you continue to enjoy reading!
When Alec called Simon Lewis, he almost hoped he wouldn’t answer, but God had a fucked up sense of humor Alec learned, and he answered immediately. Simon, of course, agreed to meeting Alec at the hospital, and then giving him a ride home. His doctor had suggested wearing something comfortable, so Alec wore a plain black sweater and sneakers.
He had already talked to Magnus in the morning, trying to sound confident so Magnus wouldn’t feel guilty for not going with him. Alec did want him there with him, something he would never admit to Magnus. He wanted to hold his hand, and cry with him when he got too scared, and joke with him to lighten the mood. He wanted to soak in Magnus’s comfort, use his strength. That was selfish, Alec reminded himself, Magnus has a life and a career he has worked hard for. He didn’t need Alec to hold him back.
He took a taxi to the hospital, the cab driver was appropriately rude, not engaging in conversation at all. Which was fine by Alec, he needed some time alone, to enjoy his last few minutes as a normal, healthy, man. He brought his bag, filled with paperwork from work, his laptop, chargers, and headphones, mostly to block Simon out, just in case he got too chatty.
When the taxi pulled up to the hospital, Alec began to get nervous. This was really happening. He could see Simon waiting at a bench near the entrance, he also had a bag with him, Alec hoped that meant he would sit quietly with his own distractions. He paid the driver, earning a brusque thank you, and hopped out. Simon waved at him and met him at the door.
“Hey, man. I have to admit, I was surprised you called. I’m glad you did, don’t take it the wrong way or anything. Just surprised. Nice surprise.” Simon rambled. I wish Magnus was here. Magnus didn’t talk so much, well he did, Alec amended, it’s just Magnus was interesting and charming. Simon was just too… Simon.
“I was okay coming by myself, but Magnus said no.” He said as they started to walk in. Alec hoped one day he would get used to the cold dread that accompanied him into the hospital.
“Oh, that’s great that you told him! I know that was rough for you, but you’ll see. This is not a fight won alone.”
Alec had been hearing phrases like that a lot lately. “Is there a booklet they give out with speeches like that out? I swear, that’s all I’ve heard since getting diagnosed.”
Simon laughed even though Alec meant to offend him. “I’m sorry, man. I should know better. When I had cancer, I swear all anyone wanted to do was comfort me. I was glad they were there, I just wish they weren’t always there, if you know what I mean.”
Alec chose not to respond, regretting bringing Simon already, and they still had a whole day left.
They were missing a cake. How can someone lose a cake? Magnus had called the bakery multiple times but no one was answering, and Magnus refused to tell the bride. Stephanie Callagan was… one of a kind. Magnus was used to demanding brides, or nervous brides, had even had a few mean ones. But he had never had a full on, demon straight from hell bride. She was just lucky she found a man dumb enough to submit himself to hellfire for the rest of their lives. Or at least until their divorce.
Everything else was in place for his high maintenance bride. The venue was at a vineyard with rolling hills. The ceremony would take place outside, where after their kiss doves would be released. Inside, they were setting up for the reception. The linens were a crisp white with pink roses as the centerpieces. Fairy lights hung on the walls, making the room look romantic and inviting. The most important decoration was the groom, and surprisingly he was still here. He was largely uninterested in the planning, letting his bride make all the decisions. He was more interested in his bachelor party than the actual wedding. A perfect couple, really.
All Magnus had to do was find this fucking cake, and then he could sneak out and go home to Alec.
Not for the first time, Magnus’s chest twisted painfully. He shouldn’t be here, he should be with Alec. Magnus checked his phone religiously, waiting for any updates. He had sent several messages to him, as well as called him this morning, but Alec had been slow to responding. Magnus knew today would be busy, and that Alec probably hadn’t had time yet to text back, but Magnus’s skin still crawled with impatience.
I don’t have to just text Alec, I could text Lydia.
Surely, Lydia would answer, especially if she was just waiting for Alec. Magnus pulled out his phone and dialed Lydia’s number.
“Hey, Magnus! What’s up?” Magnus felt a rush of relief, finally he could get some answers.
“Lydia, I was just calling to check on Alec. He hasn’t been texting me back, and I was getting worried.”
“Oh, I am so sorry Magnus! He told me yesterday, I’m honestly still in shock about the whole thing. But this is Alec, I am sure that just out of stubborness alone he can pull through.” Magnus appreciated the sentiment but that’s not why he called.
“I know, but have you heard anything from the doctor’s yet? Alec told me it would be a while before he would be actually starting chemo, and that they did all these tests beforehand, but what is going on?” A caterer came up to talk to him, but seemed to pale and scatter at the word “chemo”. If he had to scare everyone like that to get to Alec, Magnus figured it would be worth it.
“Uh, no. I haven’t really talked to Alec all day. I sent him a text earlier for good luck, but the reception is pretty spotty in Rhode Island.”
Shock coursed through Magnus, and made his whole body freeze up and spasm. “ What? Alec told me yesterday that you would be taking him today.”
“Magnus, Alec never said anything to me about that. Of course I would have if I had known.”
Alec lied to Magnus. Again. Getting stabbed would hurt less than this blow. How could Alec do this to him? He knew how important this was to Magnus, how completely unwilling Magnus was to leave. The only reason he reluctantly agreed to go, was because he trusted Lydia. He trusted Alec.
“I need to go Lydia, I’m sorry.” He needed to go, he needed to leave this wedding and go to Alec. To shake him and demand to know why he would do this to him. He dialed Alec’s number again, praying he would pick up. Getting his voicemail, Magnus cussed.
He winced when he heard Stephanie’s voice. Turning, he saw her in her dressing robe with her hair and makeup done. She was a truly stunning woman with her alabaster skin, and honey colored hair. Then she opened her mouth and ruined all illusions of beauty.
“Magnus, I just went to put on my dress and it’s not the right one!”
Magnus frowned, he picked up the dress yesterday and looked it over to ensure it was perfect. “What do you mean? I picked up the dress and it was exactly the dress you ordered.” He knew this dress down to the very stitching. An ivory off the shoulder ball gown, with Swarovski crystals on every square inch. It was entirely too much, and exactly how his bride liked it.
“I wanted it in white! Not ivory!” Her face was turning an alarming shade of purple.
“We talked about this. Very few designers make a true white dress. It washes you out in photos. When you got the dress you said that would be okay.” Magnus rubbed his temples and sighed.
“I can’t walk down the aisle like that!” She was starting to hysterical, as if anything could be done about it now. She was supposed to be getting married in an hour, guests had already started to line up.
“Nothing can be done now. If you want me to make a gown out of the linens I suppose I can give it a try.” Magnus bit out sarcastically. He knew he needed to calm down, but he couldn’t help himself. Didn’t she realize there were worse things happening today? His love lied to him. Why should Magnus care about a stupid wedding for a horrible person?
“You came highly recommended, and you told me that you could make my dream wedding happen! This is not my dream!” She screeched out.
Magnus finally snapped, “The dream isn’t about the dress or the venue! It’s about the person you are marrying, and celebrating that! And my dream is in a hospital right now, and I have no idea what is happening! So you are going to shut up, put on the fucking gown, and be happy about the fact that for some reason this man decided to marry you!”
“I get it, it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. But you know who is going to notice? No one! No one is going to remember the color of your gown or what flavor the cake was. But they will remember the look your groom gives you as you walk down the aisle, or how your dad cried when he gave you away at the altar. Those are the moments people go to weddings for. So you have two options, where the gorgeous dress you bought- and agreed to- or you can cancel the whole wedding. Your choice.” Magnus was impressed with his little tirade. It also helped decompress a little bit. But only a little bit.
The bride seemed to deflate, “I’ll put on the gown.” she said dejectedly.
“Stellar choice! Now, as I said, my fiancé is in the hospital, so I am going to head out.”
“You can’t go! What if something goes wrong?” She exclaimed.
As if that would stop him from leaving. The devil himself could crash the wedding and Magnus would still find a way to leave. Suddenly Magnus remembered the cake. That goddamn cake.
Magnus sighed, “Let me make a few calls. Go get dressed and pull yourself together.”
As she hastily made her exit, Magnus pulled out his phone again, seeing a text from Alec.
All checked in. They are going to be putting the IV in soon!
He quickly called Alec, hoping for Alec’s sake he answered.
“Hey, babe. I’m fine.” He sounded fine, almost cheerful. When did it get to be so easy for him to lie to Magnus?
“That’s great! Something funny just happened.”
“Did Bridezilla become a runaway bride? Or did the groom come to his senses?”
Magnus gave a tight laugh, “Ah, no. I just got off the phone with Lydia, actually. She told me she wasn’t with you today. Which is hilarious, because you told me she would be with you today.” Magnus could never resist an opportunity to be petty. There was a long pause, Alec didn’t know what to say. What lies to tell him.
“Lydia is not with me today. John came up for the weekend. But I swear, I did not come alone. I brought Simon with me.”
“Who the hell is Simon?”
“The guy who leads the support group. I figured since he has already done all this and is technically a counselor, he’d be okay to bring. I’m sorry, I didn’t want to lie to you.”
Simon probably was a good choice to bring, probably an even better choice than Magnus. That wasn’t the point though. “Alexander Gideon Lightwood, when I get home you and I are going to have a serious talk. I have to be able to trust you, or else I am going to go completely insane. Now, I am going to find a wedding cake, and then I’m coming home.”
“No! I’m not listening to it again. I’m coming home. That’s final. I trusted you and you blew it. You knew how hard it was for me to leave.” Rage was starting to fill his body, and embarrassingly tears began to leak from his eyes. Alec’s deception hurt far more deeply than expected. Why didn’t he think Magnus didn’t need to be involved with these decisions?
“I’m sorry.” Alec whimpered.
“I know, Alexander. I love you, and I’ll see you soon, darling.”
“I love you too.”
Hanging up, Magnus began to feel a little ashamed. Today was a tough day, and even though his anger was justified, he should have waited until he could discuss it in person. He knew Alec, he’d start to blame himself for every little mistake.
As if the world had decided Magnus had suffered enough, the bakers pulled in with the cake. It was enough for Magnus to decide this wedding was a success, and that it was time to leave before karma decided to fuck him over again.
Alec stared at the phone in silence, guilt bubbled inside him. He didn’t mean to hurt Magnus, he just didn’t want him to throw away his whole life.
“Everything okay?” Simon asked.
Simon had been surprisingly amazing about today, being supportive when needed, but also knowing when to lay low. The nurses had drawn blood, gotten his weight and height, and asked many questions, then they had to wait for an hour until they got his dosage correct. It wasn’t as bad as Alec thought it would be, it was mostly just time consuming. Finally, after an hour and a half, the nurse pulled Alec back into the room where they would be giving him his dose. Alec had been seated in a large, mint green pleather recliner. There was a TV on the wall in the front of the room, flipped to the news channel, there were other patients in the room, divided by curtains. The man seated next to Alec didn’t have his curtain shut, but it didn’t seem like he cared given the fact he was fast asleep, drooling peacefully in his own mint green recliner.
Simon had pulled up a chair next to him and had gotten out his laptop and headphones, he had been quiet so far, occasionally laughing with the nurses and other patients. Alec grudgingly decided he liked Simon. He was tolerable.
“I didn’t tell Magnus you were coming today, he thought my friend Lydia was. He called her and found out she wasn’t with me. He thought I lied to him and went alone.”
“Well, why didn’t you tell him?”
“Because he had to leave for work and I didn’t want him to feel pressured into staying.”
“Kind of sounds like he was pressured into leaving.”
Alec glared at Simon and Simon started to back track. “Look, I’ve been there. Wanting people to keep living their lives even after you can’t, but I’m sure Magnus would much rather be sitting here with you today, more than anything else.”
The nurse stopped by with a bag of clear liquid, a bright yellow sticker on the top read, “Chemotherapy”.
“Okay, Alec, I am just going to fit the IV in now, and then we will be good to go. Do you need anything before we get started?”
Simon had brought multiple bottles of water for Alec, saying that he will need to stay hydrated, he had also brought a variety of snacks to eat. It was thoughtful and it made Alec slightly embarrassed to have a stranger take care of him like this.
“No, I’m okay.”
Alec couldn’t help but want Magnus with him, he missed him. Maybe he should have let Magnus come today, it was what they both had wanted. So why was Alec pushing him away?
He thought that over as the nurse hooked him to the IV, and together they watched the fluid run down the tube and into his arm, officially starting his journey. It didn’t scare him like he thought it would. Looking around the room he saw a distinctive relationship between the patients and with the nurses. Everyone knew each other, and had watched the ups and downs. The nurses looked at them with fondness, they too cared about them. He realized that the dread he felt walking in had nothing to do with the hospital, or the treatments. It was everything that happened after.
When the nurse walked away, Alec looked over at Simon. He looked pensive, “Are you okay?”
For the first time, he could honestly say yes.
The drive from Albany to New York City, took approximately two and a half hours. Magnus made it in an hour and forty-five minutes. He was anxious to get back, he just wanted to make sure Alec was okay with his own eyes. Not letting himself be convinced with the lies Alec tried to sell him on. His eye caught his engagement ring on his hand, and his eyes began to burn. What if he never got the chance to marry him?
Before he met Alexander, Magnus could admit he was a bit of a mess. His life had always been a game of survival, one he never realized he was tired of playing until Alec.
When Magnus was ten, he found his mother dead, wrists painted red. He was placed in foster care, moving from home to home before ever getting settled. Some foster parents were nice, treating him with respect and tenderness, others were dismissive. He had made his family with his friends, Catarina and Ragnor, and for that he was grateful.
He had plenty of past lovers, one night stands, quick flames that burned out quickly. George, Imasu, Etta, Axel, Woolsey. All lovely people, and who he only wished the best for. Camille though, Camille still made cold shivers run down his spine. He was in love with her, a childish sort of love that bordered on obsession. He would have done anything for her, been anyone for her. He was grateful he learned his lesson, painfully, but a lesson learned just the same.
It wasn’t until he met Alexander that he realized everything his life could be.
Actually, it wasn’t right after they met, it was on their fourth date. They had a dinner plans at The Institute, a high end restaurant that you needed to make a reservation for weeks in advance. They agreed to meet at the restaurant, and Magnus got there a little bit late, not wanting to seem too eager. He was miffed to find that Alec was not there yet, so he waited at their table munching on the breadsticks, and sipping a martini.
Time dragged on, and Alec still had yet to arrive, it was with a somber realization that Magnus had been stood up. Not for the first time, and would hardly be the last, but he had thought it would be different with the beautiful man. Then Magnus had looked up, and saw Alec completely disheveled, soaked from rain, holding a pathetically crumpled bouquet of flowers. Magnus was struck with a glowing feeling of affection, and knew that one day, this man would hold his heart.
Pulling into the parking ramp of their apartment, Magnus rushed inside, leaving his bags in the car. He tried to catch his breath in the elevator, not out of exertion, just from pure need to see his fiancé. Unlocking the door, Magnus saw Alec asleep on the couch. Alec was not usually one for naps, which made Magnus worry. He quietly walked over to the couch and stroked Alec’s forehead, causing him groggily wake up.
“Hello, love.” Magus sat down and pulled Alec’s head to rest on his lap.
“I thought you would be home later.”
Magnus continued to rub Alec’s head, receiving a content sigh.
“I didn’t want to be away any longer. I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”
“You’re here now. That’s what matters.”
Standing in the kitchen with his fiance, making a family supper on a Sunday evening should feel comforting and domestic. He and Magnus had done this numerous times before, turned up the radio and sang to whatever is on, even if they didn’t know the song. Magnus would dance while he cooked, splattering sauce on the walls as he spun around, Alec would follow behind and clean whatever mess he made. Passionate, Alexander. I am passionate about cooking, not messy, Magnus would say.
Yet, today there was a mutual sense of unease. Magnus was still upset with Alec about Friday, they had yet to sit down and talk about it, and they were both nervous about tonight’s dinner. Magnus had gone all out, roasted rack of lamb with a mint pesto sauce, served with garlic herb potatoes and glazed carrots. He had even gone to the bakery and gotten them a cheesecake for dessert. A decadent dinner, served with amazing wine, and great company.
It felt like his last dinner before his execution.
He had talked to Simon on Friday about what he should say to his family, he had shrugged and said, “How about the truth?” Simon was an idiot, and Alec had told him so. How could he soften the blow? How could he protect them? “You can’t, it’s out of your control now.” It seemed like everything was out of his control now.
Alec was helping Magnus set the table, though he knew Magnus would redo the whole thing after him, apparently he didn’t have an eye for design, when there was a knock on the door. He knew it was his mother’s, the knock was light but precise, and he tensed. Magnus reached over to him and stroked his cheek, “I am right here, darling, I won’t leave your side all night. We will do this together, okay?” Alec thinks he nodded before walking to the front door.
“My boys!” Maryse exclaimed before hugging them both. His mother had always adored Magnus, it was hard not to, she had quickly taken him under her wing and claimed him as her son. He was nervous when first introducing Magnus to his mom, she had not approved of the first man Alec brought home. Oliver was a nice enough man, polite, smart, and had majored in law. He had thought that Oliver would be exactly what his mother would appreciate. Yet, when Alec had asked her what she thought she gave Alec a small smile and a shrug. After they had broken up he asked her why she didn’t like him. “It’s not that I didn’t like him, he was a fine young man, who I am sure will do great things in life. I guess I just wanted to see you be with someone who made you glow.”
Maryse and Magnus, however, hit it off immediately. Talking and laughing over dinner as if they had known each other for years, Alec almost felt like a third wheel to them. After dinner, Alec had walked her home, when they were saying their goodbyes Maryse had patted his cheek and said, “You’re glowing.”
“Magnus, dinner smells wonderful! Is anyone else here yet?”
“Not yet, let’s start out with some cocktails, hm?” Magnus said, linking his arm with Maryse and pulling her to the drink cart. That was Alec’s idea, loosen everyone up with alcohol first. While Magnus was making drinks, Izzy walked in, without knocking.
“Hey, Alec. What’s on the menu for tonight? I’m starving.” She walked straight into the kitchen only pausing to kiss Magnus on the cheek. It warmed his heart, and Alec basked in the feeling, his luck could not be denied with his family. Slowly, they congregated to the balcony, making themselves comfortable on the padded patio chairs while they waited for Jace and Clary. Izzy talked about the cadavers she worked on this week, making Alec feel a little queasy, but Maryse was fascinated. As a prosecutor, Maryse was used to the ugly side of humanity. Magnus just nodded and played with his glass, making his nerves obvious, though he tried to play it off.
“Hey, everybody! Sorry we’re late!” They heard Jace call out, Clary laughing behind him. If there were any two people more right for each other, second to him and Magnus of course, it was Jace and Clary. They were both headstrong, and fierce in their devotion. Jace met Clary through Magnus, and from that first meeting Jace was thoroughly ruined. The tough policeman that Alec knew, turned into the biggest sap around her, writing songs for her on his piano, bringing her flowers, highlighting poems in books that reminded him of her. She brought a softer side in him, even though Alec teased him relentlessly about it, he was grateful for the redhead scrap.
“Finally! It has been torture to sit here and wait while a perfectly cooked rack of lamb sat there waiting for me!” Izzy exclaimed.
Jace scowled, “Who said you had to wait?”
“I’m sorry, Iz. It’s my fault, I lost track of time at the studio.” Clary said contritely. While Clary had a day job as a wedding planner, her passion was art. She would work all year on a new collection and then at the beginning of the year she would hold an art show. “It’s a good way to start my year. Also, it gives Magnus and I an excuse to throw a party.”
Izzy reached over and hugged her, “I guess I can forgive you. You are my favorite sibling after all.” Magnus gave her a mock glare, “Well, then I guess you won’t be having any dinner from my table tonight.”
Izzy laughed, “Okay, you win.”
“Let’s get a move on! I’m starving! I have been eating light all day waiting for tonight.” Jace complained.
“Jace, manners!” Maryse scolded.
Jace rolled his eyes, “Let’s get a move on, please. ” he said with exaggerated patience.
“By all means, let’s eat!” Magnus said. Passing Alec he gave his arm a light squeeze. They planned it beforehand, stuff them with food and alcohol, and then over dessert they would tell them. Izzy was already pleasantly buzzed, but Maryse was working her glass slowly. Magnus had forbidden Alec from drinking at all tonight despite his protests.
“Magnus, the doctor said I am fine having small amounts of alcohol here and there.” Magnus had just glared at him, “How would I know? I wasn’t there.”
That had effectively shut Alec up, and he decided to resign himself to water for the rest of the night. A small price to pay, he reminded himself.
Alec sat himself beside Magnus, and tried to find the meal appetizing. Conversation flowed easily between everyone, no one hardly noticed Alec’s silence.
“Did I tell you that I ran into Lorenzo the other day at the supermarket, Magnus?” Clary said.
“No, was he still his charming self?”
“Worse! I was standing behind him in line for the registers, and I tried to say hello, but he just nodded at me and made a disgusted look at my basket. Apparently, frozen chicken nuggets does not measure up to His Highness” Clary snickered.
“The Robinson’s are using him for their wedding, and I tried so hard to convince them otherwise.”
“Is his food bad?” Maryse asked.
“No, it’s delicious! It’s him that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.” Magnus replied.
“I saw he was wearing a wedding ring though, can you imagine what his wife is like? She is probably a saint to be able to put up with him.”
“Husband.” Magnus corrected.
Clary gaped at him, “How do you know? Have you met him?”
“Not at all. He has never even mentioned anything about his personal life. But, we were working a wedding down at The Plaza, and the groom was gorgeous. Like, male model gorgeous, and Lorenzo looked a little flustered talking to him.”
“You, of course, had no problem talking to the gorgeous man.” Alec interrupted.
“How could I? I have had so much practice with you.” Everyone laughed at that, while Alec just blushed.
Sitting here, Alec found himself in his own personal heaven, and he longed for time to stand still, so he could live in this forever. Time was not on his side however, literally, and soon they were cutting up the cake for dessert. Magnus reached under the table and gripped Alec’s knee, looking over he saw that Magnus looked paler than normal. He had to do this, there wasn’t any time left to not. But how could he?
It’s out of your control now.
Alec resented the fact that it was Simon now, acting as his damn shoulder angel, urging him on to tell the truth.
He cleared his throat, “Actually, I have something I need to tell you guys.” Under the table Magnus gripped him tighter. Immediately, everyone became serious, the room got quiet and the air got colder.
“What’s wrong?” Izzy said, on edge. Jace sat beside her and stared intently at Alec.
“I have been having some… health issues.” Alec started, after that he was lost. Just say it!
“What kind of health issues?” Jace asked. Alec looked at Magnus, he was staring at the table but Alec could see the tears forming, that did not go unnoticed by everyone at the table.
“Magnus?” Clary reached over and put her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s bad, isn’t it? What is it?” Izzy questioned. She had an analytical brain, paired with her medical knowledge, Alec could practically see her trying to diagnose him.
“I’ve been having headaches, some blurred vision, I thought I just maybe had chronic pain, and that once I got pain pills it’d be solved. They found a tumor though, and now I have to go through chemotherapy.” Alec looked at the painting on the wall, an abstract piece that frankly, Alec thought was ugly.
Izzy leaped from the table and glared at Alec, “No, that can’t be right. They made a mistake. Have you gotten a second opinion?” Magnus perked up at that, latching on to any kind of hope at a misdiagnosis.
“I saw the tumor with my own eyes, Iz.”
“Let me see.” She demanded.
“I don’t have it with me, but I’m sure maybe I could get a hold of my doctor and email it to you.”
“Who's your doctor? I want to talk to him.” She pulled out her phone and waited expectantly for Alec.
“Wait a damn minute here. You have cancer?” Jace said, finally lurching out of his shock.
“Yeah, I do. I don’t think it will be too bad though, I had my first dose of chemo on Friday, and I was a little tired after that, but I feel fine.”
Izzy began to cuss at Alec while had Jace got up and got in Alec’s face, “You have already started chemo and you didn’t think to fucking tell us! What the hell!”
“I wanted to wait until we were all together.”
“So you’re saying you couldn’t have planned dinner for a few days earlier?” Alec could see the tears down Jace’s face before he wiped them away.
“I haven’t really done anything right since I found out.” Alec admitted.
“So where were you in all of this? If you knew Alec was being a fucking idiot, why didn’t you tell us?” Jace raged at Magnus. That is where Alec crossed the line, standing up he shoved Jace away.
“It’s not his fault! I didn’t even tell him right away!”
Jace shoved him back, “What, so you weren’t going to tell any of us?” Clary started to shout at them and tried to get in between them.
“Would it have felt any better knowing I was dying a week ago?” Alec snarled.
Again, the room fell silent. Alec was really beginning to hate silence.
“Dying? You’re dying?” Izzy gasped, she clutched her chest and began to sob. Clary rushed over and hugged her close. Jace stared at him as if he saw a ghost. Maybe one day.
“How long do you have?” Jace choked out. That was a question not even Magnus had dared to ask.
“Long enough, I won’t be dead next month.” Alec hesitated. Suddenly, he felt someone grab his hand. Turning, he saw Magnus, his beautiful Magnus, crumbled and crying, with a haunted look in his eyes. “How long, Alexander?”
“I don’t know, maybe a couple of years. Five at the most, if it doesn’t spread. We have plenty of time.” Alec tried to soothe him, and himself. Was there enough time? Was there ever enough time?
Looking around at the faces he loved most, he realized that his mother wasn’t there. He gave a questioning look to Magnus, and he pointed out to the balcony. At some point, she had moved outside. He took a deep breath and walked out, his mother did not look back at him, instead she seemed to be taking in the skyline. Walking closer though, he could hear her shuddering breaths.
Maryse Lightwood did not cry. Alec could think of a handful of times where he has seen his mother fall apart, when his grandmother died, when his father died, and when he got lost at an amusement park as a kid. It had been a long, hot day at Adventureland, and Alec had wanted to go on the log ride to cool down. Izzy wasn’t tall enough to ride yet, so Maryse had refused. Alec was frustrated that they had to do little kid things for Izzy, so he decided to break away and go on the log ride by himself. He had waited in line, and stuck close to another family. It wasn’t until he got on with them and the ride started to go forward, did they realize that some random kid had snuck on with them.
Alec still remembers that ride, how proud and grown up he felt for being able to do it by himself. But once he got off, he couldn’t find his mom. The parents he had latched to, tried to help him find her, and had taken him to the security office so they could call for her over the intercom. She was already at the office though, sobbing and screaming at the security guards.
“Ma’am, we will find your son.”
“What if he was taken? My boy needs his mother! I need my boy!”
Alec had never forgotten the shame he felt for running away, and how small he felt watching his mom cry over him. Looking at his mother now, he felt like that little boy again, scared and alone.
“Mom?” He said quietly, not wanting to startle her.
Maryse just shook her head and cried harder, refusing to look at Alec.
“Mom, I’m sorry, I should have told you sooner.” His voice cracked. Making your mother cry always made your guts twisted. He prayed to God to spare his mother this pain, you can do anything you want to me, but please let her be.
“That doesn’t matter to me, Alec. What matters to me is you.”
Alec hugged her, and he could smell her perfume, a comforting smell of vanilla.
“Oh, Alec!” she sobbed, and hugged him like he was her lifeline. He was struck again with another memory.
“Alexander Gideon Lightwood, don’t you ever scare me like that again!”
Alec couldn't even be embarrassed about being yelled at in front of the security guards, there was no room inside him for anything else but guilt, even Izzy was crying.
“I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“Don’t ever leave me again! Do you understand?”
“I won’t leave you.”
Alec had been determined to be strong, to not burden others with his pain. He realized though that this wasn’t just his pain, and as much as he could try to protect them, this was something they would have to endure together, because he could not do it alone. Maybe tomorrow, or next week when the wound wasn’t so raw, Alec could handle himself better, but for right now he was just a boy, who needed his mom.
“Don’t worry, mom. I won’t leave you.” And together, they cried.
Okay, how are we feeling? I'll admit I teared up a bit when writing about Maryse. I always wanted to see more mother son moments between the two, so that is one thing I wanted to add in this story. Let me know what you think! I always love hearing from you guys.
Going to work on Monday was much harder than Magnus expected it to be, how could he pretend everything was the same when his whole life shifted? There was now that invisible timer weighing over his head, counting down each second he had with his love. He had not even considered asking Alec how long they thought he had, had not even wanted to acknowledge that there might be a time where he would not have Alec by his side. Now, it was all he could think about.
Picking out color schemes seemed like a waste of time, taste testing different cakes was offensive, and pretending to be happy for the newly engaged couples was blasphemous. He wasn’t focused enough, and he didn’t care enough. Why should he care about a gorgeous twenty thousand dollar wedding? It was all superficial anyway, didn’t these people understand that? Having a five tiered cake won’t save your relationship. Heavenly smelling flowers wouldn’t stop them leaving you. Having a destination wedding wouldn’t make sure you would never be alone again.
He couldn’t concentrate today, he stared at the same budget from his clients for what felt like hours and couldn’t make sense of it. “Magnus?” Looking up, he saw Clary tentatively waiting in the doorway to his office. He tried to smile but even he could feel that it was worn. “Come in, biscuit.”
“Hey, I didn’t get a chance to really talk to you last night, I’m really sorry about Alec.”
“Me too.” He would take Alec’s place in a heartbeat if he could. “Speaking of Alec, I am going to need to spend more time away from the office now, and I won’t be going to any weddings outside of the city.”
“No, of course. Take any time you need, I can handle it. Plus, since Dot got hired we will have extra help.” Clary’s voice was kind, and it made Magnus hurt, he didn’t need anyone’s kindness, he needed a miracle. Some cure that would wipe away all of Alec’s disease, all of the pain. Something that could mend the fissure is his soul, to turn back time and replay all of the small moments he took for granted. He would never again be frustrated by the way Alec leaves his shoes in the hall, or how he would leave crumbs on the bed. Someday he might live in a world where his bed would be pristine, and he would never trip on his way through the door. What a lonely world that would be. Magnus cleared his throat to try to clear his constricting throat, but it didn’t help.
“Do you want to talk about it at all?”
“I don’t really know what to say. Complaining about it seems selfish when it is Alexander who is sick. How is Jace and Isabelle doing?”
“Well Izzy spent the night with us, she didn’t want to be alone. I could hear her crying through the walls, but eventually she fell asleep. Jace has just completely shut down though, says he doesn’t want to talk about it”
Magnus just nodded, he knew Jace was more reserved than even Alec when it came to emotions.
“Are you okay?” Clary asked.
“No, I’m not. Alec doesn’t seem to want to keep me in the loop in all of this either. He keeps trying to hide things, or try to sugar coat it. He isn’t being completely honest with me. For the first time in our relationship I don’t trust him to tell me the truth. On Friday I was in Albany, and the only reason I went is because he assured me Lydia would be going with him. I know Lydia, and I know that she would take care of him. He didn’t take her though, he took some stranger that I have never even met and didn’t tell me. So when I called Lydia to see how he was doing, she told me that Alec never even asked her!” It felt good to rant about it with someone, to finally let the anger pour out.
“Well, did Alec trust this person going with him?”
“I guess, he is the counselor for this support group he joined. Logically, I know that was a wise choice. I guess this Simon guy has had cancer himself, I know that he will be able to relate with Alec in a way I can’t.”
“Ah, I see. Then why does it bother you so much? I mean, I can see why it would be frustrating, but it’s not like there wasn’t someone there for him. Maybe that’s what he needed, someone who knew the process in and out, instead of someone who was just as scared as he was.”
Magnus gave her a wounded look. Why couldn’t Alec need him though? He was Alec’s partner, and he should be able to lean on him in times of trouble. Sure, he didn’t know what was going on, but he could learn. He had already ordered several books on Amazon about cancer, and even went out and bought a special binder with a calendar inside. That way he could sort out any paperwork, store brochures or care packets, and write down all of his appointments to keep track.
“Or is that what’s really bothering you? The fact that Alec went to someone else and not you?”
Magnus sighed, he couldn’t deny Clary knew him well. He was jealous, and hurt, and angry. To his embarrassment, he almost felt abandoned.
“That’s part of it, I suppose. Only a small part though. I just want Alec to let me take care of him. Every time I try he blows me off.”
Clary walks over to him and sits on the arm of his plush chair, and wraps her arms around his shoulder.
“Magnus, who drives him to his appointments doesn’t matter. Who he chooses to let comfort him from time to time doesn’t matter either. Because it’s going to be you for the big stuff. You are the one that is going to be holding him up when it’s too heavy for him, you will be the one to clean him up when he gets sick, and you will be the one to love him the whole way through it.”
Magnus leaned into Clary, and tried to convince himself that she was right.
Magnus had decided to take the rest of the day off, it wasn’t like he was going to get much work done anyway. Everyone understood and gave him a pitying look on his way out. He wanted to be home, and he needed to talk to Alec about Friday. Was he jealous? Did he really have any right to be angry?
Walking into his place he tripped over Alec’s shoes, and let out a sigh. Okay, maybe he could still be a little frustrated with Alec, cancer or not.
“Alexander? Are you home, darling?” He called out.
“In here, babe!” Alec replied from their home office. He set out to the office, feeling apprehensive. Alec and him had gotten into plenty of arguments before, but none this personal. Why did Alec not want him to be there for him?
Magnus found Alec at his desk, hair a mess, with a tattered shirt and sweats. “You’re home early. Did you have a slow day?”
“I wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to head out.”
Alec frowned and stood up, placing his hand on Magnus’s forehead like he was checking for a fever. “You feel sick? Here, go lay down. I will make you some tea.” He kissed his forehead and nudged him into the direction of the bedroom. All at once the anger came pouring into his body.
“So you can take care of me but I am not allowed to take care of you?”
Alec paused, he seemed to think about his answer carefully, not wanting to upset Magnus further.
“Of course you can take care of me when I am sick.”
Magnus scoffed and walked into the kitchen, setting out his tea kettle he tried not to slam it onto the stove. He barely succeeded.
“Magnus, I'm sorry I didn’t tell you that I was taking Simon.”
“I’m not mad about Simon!” He shouted.
“Then what are you mad about?”
Magnus whirled around, enraged.
“For starters, let’s talk about how you didn’t even tell me to begin with that something was going on. I didn’t know you had MRI’s done, I didn’t know you were seeing a specialist, and I didn’t even know you have cancer until a week later. A week! I should have been the first person you told! I should have been with you the whole time! I should have been there on Friday, and you left me out of it. All of it. Alec, I’m going to be your husband soon, shouldn’t you know that you can depend on me? Instead, I am being lied to and treated like a child. Not your partner.”
Alec stared at him in shock, his hands fidgeting at his side. Magnus wasn’t done quite yet though.
“I can’t help but think about what else you are going to hide from me. If the doctors tell you there is nothing they can do, will I know?” Magnus couldn’t hide the tremor in his voice.
“You’re right. Okay? You’re right, that was all wrong of me. I am so sorry.” Alec slowly walked over to him, arms spread out, as if he wasn’t sure he had a right to hold Magnus. Magnus went into his arms and held on tightly. This is what he needed, what he had been needing all day.
“Why did you lie to me?”
“When I first went to the doctor, they told me it could be more serious than we thought. I knew that if I told you that, you would have freaked out. So I wanted to wait until we were sure about what was going on. I thought it was kinder that way, but I see now that it was underhanded. As for Friday, I wanted you there too, but I don’t want you to give up your whole life for me.”
Magnus pulled away from him and stared incredulously at Alec. “Alexander, you are my world. I love you more than anything else, more than my job, or prior commitments. More than myself. I already gave my life to you, there is nothing you could ask for that I wouldn’t do for you.”
“You say that now, but what about in a few months when the chemo really starts to make me sick, when you have to hear me moan about it all day. What about when I lose weight and lose my hair?”
“I want you to let me take care of you! I can’t let you die! ” Magnus shattered in that moment, and he let the pieces of his former self dissolve. He was no longer that Magnus, the one that would stay out late with friends, the one who could charm the most ill mannered, the vibrant happy go lucky Magnus. He was purely in survival mode now, and there was no doubt in his mind that Alec was a basic need of his life.
He could feel the hot tears run down his face, his vision was blurred and he couldn’t make out Alec’s face, but his body had stiffened. “I can’t. So I need to take care of you, in any way I can. You are my heart Alexander, and I don’t trust anyone else with it, so you are just going to have to deal with it.”
“Magnus,” Alec gently whispered, “if I made you feel that I didn’t want you with me I am so sorry. I guess a part of me doesn’t want you to have to see the ugly side in this. I don’t want to stop being the man you fell in love with, or have you see me as weak.”
“I can be strong enough for the both of us, you just have to trust me, darling.” Right now, Magnus didn’t feel strong, but he would find a way for Alec. There wasn’t any other choice.
Alec hugged him, whispering over and over how sorry he was. Though he was already forgiven, there truly wasn’t much he could do to topple himself of the pedestal Magnus had placed him on.
“How would you feel about ordering some Thai food, and lay in bed the rest of the day?”
Alec laughed, “We could finally finish watching our Harry Potter marathon without falling asleep.”
“Oh, I have no intention of sleeping tonight, darling.” Stroking his back he inched his hand lower, now that the tension was gone Magnus only felt a deep desire to be close to Alec. He could hear Alec’s breath hitch, he cleared his throat before responding.
“Yeah? I think I would be okay with that. I mean, you did say there was nothing I could ask that you wouldn’t do, I might have to take advantage of that.”
Magnus grinned wolfishly, “I also said that I would take care of you, and I will. Multiple times. In several positions.” Alec moaned softly, and Magnus beamed. He loved how responsive Alec was to him, he had never experienced anything like Alexander before. He knew he would never experience it again with anyone else. So Magnus led Alec into the bedroom, with every intention of making him fall apart under his fingertips, to make him sob and cry with pleasure. For healing purposes, of course...
“Now, who is going to start today’s discussion? Does anyone have anything they would like to talk about?” Simon always started these little sessions like that, leaving the whole meeting to be improvised. I never plan what we are going to do, you guys should talk about what you need to say, not what I want you to say, he had said. Alec had to admit Simon was growing on him, not in a way that made him his friend, more like mold growing on bread. He was a decent enough counselor, and that is a high praise for Alec considering his back history of completely denying any kind of mental or physical help.
“Well, Helen and I have an anniversary coming up, I was thinking about doing something special for her, but I wasn’t sure what. I don’t know if I really want to buy anything for her, just because she is the one working full time to support me. I don’t want to use her money to buy her a gift, you know?”
“Getting naked is free.” Meliorn leered.
Aline shrugged, “Our sex life is still thriving, if you really want to know. Just last night she did this thing with her tongue-”
“Okay! Any suggestions for Aline?” Simon interrupted.
“You could make her something. How are you at crocheting?” Maureen asked.
Aline groaned that, “No way, if I have to knit I will shove the needle into my throat.”
“Knitting and crocheting are not the same thing.”
“It’s close enough. Anyone else got anything?”
“Love coupons. I gave those to my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year and she loved them.” Alaric suggested.
Meliorn snickered, “Love coupons? If she said she loved them, she’s lying.” Alaric glared at him.
“My husband and I have a rule on special occasions, no talking about anything related to hospitals, sickness, and tragedy. It’s nice, we go on a walk, get ice cream, flirt with each other like we are newlyweds.” Andrew softly said. The love he had for his husband was written onto his face like poetry. Alec felt like he was intruding just to see it.
Aline smiled, “I like that. A cancer free day. It’s felt like forever since we have had just a normal day.”
“Maybe you could go back to where you had your first date too, get all dressed up and surprise her.” Maia suggested. Aline seemed to dim at that, though Alec didn’t know why, it seemed like a good idea.
“What’s wrong, Aline?” Simon asked.
“I like the idea of that, it’s just what if we do that and she realized how much I have changed? Even if she doesn’t, it’s hard to dress up and feel beautiful now.” Alec didn’t have much experience with that, but Maia and Maureen nodded along as if they understood exactly the problem.
“You could wear a wig. I can come over and do your hair and makeup, if you want?” Maia said.
Aline squealed, “Oh my god! Could you? That would be amazing! I want Helen to just drop dead when she sees me.” Maia laughed and nodded her head.
Interesting. Alec had to admit he had never really dressed for Magnus before. He had dressed nicer on dates, but he had never thought about what Magnus would like to see him in. He tried to think back on a specific time where Magnus was impressed with what he wore, or that he paid more attention to him. When he was shirtless he got a lot of attention from Magnus, or when he got back from the gym. Maybe he should try sometime, to dress up for Magnus, to let him know he put in effort for him. Maybe even seduce him a little, as humiliating as it sounds. Alec had never been great at seduction, Magnus always taking the lead. It’d be nice to see Magnus flustered for once, to see him unravel, he could tease him just as well as Magnus teased him. His face caught fire when he thought of the way Magnus teased him last night, the way he moaned in Alec’s ear…
“Alec?” Underhill interrupted his daydream, looking at him as if he were insane.
“I was saying that the meeting is over, but you seemed pretty spaced out.”
Alec was shocked to see only a couple people remained in the room, he had been too busy thinking about Magnus to even notice the meeting fly by.
“Oh, sorry about that. I was just thinking… about what to have for lunch. I’m pretty hungry.” You are dumb as fuck, you dumb fuck. Even Alec could hear the lie in his voice, but Underhill was kind enough not to read into it.
“Well, I was actually going out to get something, you can join if you want?”
“Yeah, thanks if you don’t mind.” Underhill seemed nice, and Alec didn’t really have a lot of friends that were his own friends. His group consisted of family and Magnus’s friends. Besides Lydia. She was practically family anyway.
“Great, my husband owns his own restaurant about six blocks away, I usually stop by after these meetings to say hello and snag free food. Honestly, half the reason I married him was for the food.”
As they walked together Alec realized how easy Underhill was to talk to. He was easy going and a great listener, speaking directly to Alec without the awkwardness most conversations with acquaintances go.
Walking into the restaurant however, Alec realized exactly who Underhill’s husband was.
“Lorenzo’s? Like Lorenzo Rey?”
Underhill smiled, “Yeah, do you know him?”
“Only by reputation.” Alec replied wryly. He couldn’t believe it! Finally, he could meet the guy that turned Magnus’s face purple with aggravation. Put a face to the name Magnus repeatedly cursed. He had to admit though, the restaurant was nice. It was casual, but upscale. Dark brick walls, with black tables metal chairs, Edison bulbs hung from the ceiling, and green ferns decorated the corners. It was exactly the kind of place Alec would enjoy.
They sat down at a small table near the corner, a waitress came around with menus.
“Hey, Andrew. Would you like your usual?”
“Yes, please. I think Alec might need a little bit more time though.” Alec nodded in confirmation. She smiled politely, and left to fill in Underhill’s order.
“So, what is Lorenzo’s reputation, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Oh, well I don’t know if he has ever mentioned my fiance, but his name is Magnus Bane.”
Underhill looked shocked for a second and then threw his head back in a boisterous laugh. “Magnus ‘Bane of my existence’, Magnus? Yeah, I have heard of him. God, Lorenzo comes home so pissed off on the days he sees Magnus. He says Magnus is too flamboyant and snarky.” Alec had to smile at that, because that was exactly how his Magnus was, and he wouldn’t change a single hair on him.
“Yeah, I get that. He says Lorenzo is too harsh, and arrogant.”
Underhill nodded, “He didn’t used to be like that. Believe or not he actually used to be way more relaxed than he is now. It’s just with me being sick, I think he is obsessed with me getting better that he doesn’t really notice how he is with people anymore.”
Would Magnus get like that? He liked to believe that Magnus could face anything with flair, but he had seen the way he had broken down. Alec wasn’t stupid, Magnus would move on if Alec died, but how bad would get before he did?
“I worry about Magnus.” Alec confessed. Alec looked down at the menu, scolding himself for opening up to Underhill, they weren’t that close.
Thankfully, the waitress came back and asked for Alec’s order, he quickly ordered the clam chowder and a Coke.
“Well, it’s normal to worry about them. I worry more about Lorenzo than I do about me, easily. He gets upset about that, saying that I am the one that’s sick, but a part of me…” he trailed off.
“Is grateful that it’s you that’s sick and not him?” Alec finished for him. He could understand that, he felt the same way. As Magnus fell apart in his arms, Alec couldn’t help but be relieved that Magnus wasn’t the one holding Alec together. When he saw the poison run into his veins, he thanked God it wasn’t Magnus sitting in that awful mint green recliner. Alec could face any pain or torture, as long as his loved ones were safe.
“Yes, exactly. It’s better for me that I am the one sick, and not him. Lorenzo, he is a rock. Nothing ever breaks him, and I know that if I don’t beat this, he will be okay. Maybe not right away, or even for a while, but one day. That’s all I can really hope for right now. That, and sex. That man has been holding out on me for months, and if he doesn’t do something about it I will explode.”
Alec had to laugh at that, this being the second time he has mentioned it, Alec could only guess how much he had actually thought about it.
“Well, you said he was just worried about you. I wouldn’t look too much into it.”
“Sure, but I didn’t join the freaking monastery. The last time him and I had sex was Christmas, and that’s only because he was so busy with his business that he forgot to get me an actual gift. What’s worse, is I finished too quickly, and he didn’t finish at all.”
“I can beat you on bad sex stories any day of the week so don’t try me.” Embarrassingly enough, this was when the waitress stopped by with their food, Alec’s face turned red as she winked at him, and Underhill just chuckled.
“Okay, the winner pays for lunch.”
Alec frowned, “You eat for free here anyway.”
“So the winner buys drinks later.”
“Deal. You first.”
“So, I was in tenth grade and after band practice, this guy and I started to make out in the supply closet of the band room. We both had braces though, and the bands got stuck together, and we had to call a teacher to come help us.”
“That’s horrifying. I can still beat it. Freshman year of college, I met this guy in my economics class and he asked me over to his dorm room for pizza and a movie. We had been studying all day for our final and I was pretty beat, but I said okay because I thought it was going to be a relaxed night. We ended up fooling around, but I fell asleep in the middle of it as I was giving him a hand job. Never hung out with him again.”
“I once had an allergic reaction to this self warming lube, and it burned so bad, but I thought that was what it was supposed to do, but I ended up getting a rash. Exactly where you think the rash was too.”
Alec liked this, being able to talk about other experiences with guys to someone, a gay man too. He had never had that before, someone who was like him. Even Magnus was bisexual and had experiences with women that made Alec queasy. This was the kind of guy talk that Jace always tried to have with him, but Alec was never comfortable enough to share. He didn’t even tell Jace when he lost his virginity, just because he was afraid Jace would be grossed out.
However, Underhill was winning this round, so Alec had to pull out the big guns. “When my high school girlfriend got naked in front of me the first time, I blurted out I was gay and she punched me in the face.”
Underhill gave an impressed low whistle, “You’re right, you suck at sex.”
Alec laughed, “I always seem to get it right with Magnus though, and even if I do mess up, it doesn’t feel bad. We just laugh and get better at it together.”
“I think that’s what I miss most, just being able to laugh with Lorenzo. He doesn’t do that much anymore.”
“Not much to laugh about with this.”
“No, I know. If I do die, I want our last moments together to be happy.” Underhill perked up, “Here he comes, act like we weren’t talking about how bad we are at sex, and that we don’t laugh. God, we sound boring as hell.”
“Andrew, I wasn’t expecting you to bring a guest. I knew you were here from your order, but I was surprised to find a second order on your ticket.” Lorenzo was handsome, Alec supposed, not at all his type, but not many men that weren’t Magnus was his type. He had a dark low ponytail, severe eyebrows, and a sharp jawline. His jaw clenched when he spoke, a clear sign of his constant anxiety.
“Yeah, this is Alec. He’s a new guy at Simon’s meetings, and I invited him to lunch. He is actually Magnus Bane’s partner. Funny, huh?”
“Ah, yes, Magnus. Well, it’s nice to meet you Alec. Give Magnus my regards.” He said with forced politeness.
“I will, thank you.”
“Andrew, are you sure you should be out and about so much? It’s almost two o’clock, shouldn’t you be at home?” Lorenzo tried to sound scolding, but Alec could hear the fear in his voice.
Underhill rolled his eyes, “I’m fine to have lunch with my friend. We were just finishing up, anyways.”
“The chowder was delicious, by the way.” Alec said as he reached into his back pocket for his wallet, but Lorenzo stopped him.
“Please, it’s on the house. Any friend of my husband’s is a friend of mine.” I gotta get Magnus to be Underhill’s friend then…
“What time will you be home?” Underhill asked.
“Late. My evening cook called in sick, so I’m covering for him.”
“But, I thought we were gonna have a movie night.”
“We can do that tomorrow night. Promise. I have to head back, but it was great meeting you Alec.” As he walked away Underhill glared at his back.
“Whatever. It’s not like this is the first time he’s skipped out on me.”
“Maybe you should invest in a pair of handcuffs, to pin him to the bed so he can’t. You know, consensually, and all that.”
“If a pair of handcuffs can save my marriage, I’m buying a dozen of them.” Underhill bitterly laughed.
Was this his future with Magnus? A life filled with sick days and broken promises? He hoped not, maybe he should buy a pair of handcuffs too. Just in case.
I have to admit, lately I have been feeling a little bit unmotivated, but this chapter was a lot of fun to write. Hope you enjoy!
“You know, you don’t have to be nervous. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.” Alec reassured him for the hundredth time. Today was another appointment for Alec’s infusion, and Magnus made sure to clear the whole day for it. He had been collecting the essentials to bring to the hospital throughout the week. A deck of playing cards, light blankets, a couple of pillows, a Kindle, both of their laptops, chargers, a pack of mints just in case Alec gets sick, and an extra pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt. Also in case Alec gets sick. Magnus had thought of every scenario and packed it neatly in a black duffel bag. Alec scoffed when he saw it, but Magnus wouldn’t let that deter him. He also made sure to bring Alec’s binder with copies of insurance cards, and medical records.
Magnus had enough surprises to last a lifetime, he refused to go in unprepared.
“I’m not nervous, I’m just organized. Can you think of anything I forgot?” Magnus went through the bag one more time, making sure he didn’t leave anything behind.
“We can’t take our whole apartment with us.”
“You underestimate my packing abilities.”
“Believe me, I am well aware of what you’re packing.” Alec leered.
Magnus stared at him in shock, “Was that an innuendo? Did my Alexander actually say that?”
Alec rolled his eyes, a look he perfected, and walked into the kitchen to fill up his water bottle again. Water! He forgot water bottles, and snacks. Magnus looked in their pantry, all he could find was stale crackers, cereal, and a questionable loaf of bread. “Do you think we have time to get snacks on the way there?”
“The hospital has a cafeteria, you can go buy some there. Magnus, you didn’t forget anything at all. This is your first day and you are already a professional. Even if we didn’t bring something, we will just remember to bring it next time. I’m gonna be there enough times to get it down to an exact science.”
Yes, that was true, it was hard for Magnus to imagine though. Their life would soon be constant trips to the hospital, grocery lists of medications, and emotional wear down. This wasn’t what Magnus thought was going to happen, but he couldn’t leave Alec even if he tried. Alexander was simply it for him, no moving forward or leaving him behind. Even if Magnus could somehow know five years ago that this is where they would end up, he wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“One vanilla latte, two cold brews, one iced latte, or wait, was it one cold brew and two iced lattes?” Magnus muttered to himself as he walked to the Brew House. He should have written it down, but he had wanted to impress his new boss. Being an assistant was humbling, but worth it. Or so he told himself. He would remember to treat his future assistants with far more respect, not that his boss wasn’t kind, but he preferred more communication with people than a simple, “I need you to go on a coffee run.”
He really should be grateful he even got this job, it was the one nice thing Camille ever did for him. Belcourt was up and coming in the fashion world, and while it wasn’t great use of his business degree, Magnus did always enjoy a good runway show. It didn’t really matter to him if this didn’t quite stick with him regardless, he wasn’t even sure what he truly wanted to do anyway, but at least this would be another name on his resume.
The comforting smell of coffee hit him as he opened the door, as well as a musky scent. Pine maybe? Standing in front of Magnus in line though was one of the most beautiful men Magnus had ever seen. Tall with wide shoulders that tapered down to a thin waist. Magnus could see the bulge of muscles through the dark green sweater, and if the body wasn’t perfect enough, his face was like Adonis himself. Was Magnus drooling? He quickly raised his hand to his mouth. Only slightly.
As they waited in line, Magnus thought of a way to start a conversation. Maybe he could drop his phone and the beautiful stranger would have to turn around to look, and if he were a gentleman, he might even reach down to pick it up for him. Maybe he could offer to buy his coffee, maybe he could make a witty pun to make him laugh. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Adonis had reached into his back pocket to pull out his phone, and with it a few dollars fell out. Perfect! He bent down and grabbed the cash, he cleared his throat. “Excuse me, you dropped this.” Tall, dark, and handsome turned around, “Oh, thanks.” Then turned right back around.
So not the love at first sight moment he was hoping for. Maybe he was straight? Magnus fervently prayed he wasn’t. He needed this. Even if this perfect specimen wasn’t his forever, it’d be nice just to get out there again. He had a few casual encounters since Camille, but nothing ever substantial. Just a few hot hellos and awkward goodbyes.
Magnus tried to think of any other way he could start a conversation with Angel Face, he needed to think quickly, they were coming up to the front of the line. Oh fuck it!
“You seem to have forgotten something.”
The man looked on the floor, searching, “Did I drop something else?” He had an adorable furrow in his eyebrow.
“No, it’s just, you forgot to get my number.” He froze, a beautiful shade of pink adorned his cheeks. He stuttered twice before he managed to get out, “You want me to ask you for your number?”
“Or if you’d prefer, I could ask you for yours.”
“Yeah, yeah. That would be- I mean, I can ask, or I guess you already did.” Oh Heavens! God really outdid himself on this man.
“Next!” The barista bellowed out. The beauty reluctantly turned and ordered his drink, “A large red-eye with one cream, please.” Magnus cringed at his order. He might as well just inject caffeine into his veins. Magnus reminded himself that maybe not everyone was perfect.
Magnus stepped up next and ordered, and then went to stand next to his mystery man. He was fidgeting with his hands, and seeming to have trouble making eye contact. Magnus didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, “Look, there’s no hard feelings if you’re not interested.”
“No! I mean, no, it’s just you’re very glamorous. I’m sorry! That’s not what I meant.” He looked down at the floor, probably wishing it would swallow him whole. Magnus chuckled, “Thank you, I think you’re very lovely as well. I’m Magnus, by the way.”
Magnus took a pen and wrote his number on Alec’s coffee cup, “Well, then Alec. I can’t wait to get to know you better.”
Magnus knew the story of every scar, he knew that Alec hated the cold but loved the look of winter, he knew that Alec didn’t like scary movies, and believed in ghosts. He knew his insecurities and fears, he knew his favorite songs, and could trace the patterns of freckles on his back with his eyes closed. Magnus has thought he knew every conceivable part of his beloved. Turns out, there were a few things he didn’t know about Alec.
Before today, Magnus couldn’t really tell you what Alec’s height and weight was, or what his blood type was. He had never given a thought to his white blood cell count. He didn’t know that Alec detested waiting rooms, and was embarrassed by the nurses fussing.
It wasn’t something he’d soon forget.
He’d also never forget the image of Alec hooked to an IV, surrounded by scrubs and smooth, bald heads.
“See? It’s not so bad. Now we just sit here and wait. I have to catch up on some things at work, but that shouldn’t take too long. Maybe after that I can kick your ass at a card game.” Alec joked.
“You are welcome to try.” Magnus pulled out their laptops, he did have quite a bit of work to do. Skipping out today wasn’t horrible, but it did mean extra stress for tomorrow. He had to admit this wasn’t as horrible as he was expecting. In a morbid way it almost felt… normal. Magnus wasn’t quite sure what exactly he expected. Perhaps a cold room with Alec strapped down, and the grim reaper in the corner watching. Magnus shivered at the thought.
Surprisingly, their time went by quickly. They both got some work done, played Crazy Eights, watched a movie together. They hadn’t had time to sit down and just be together for a while now. If it wasn’t for the IV, Magnus could almost believe they were just hanging out having a lazy day. He’d much prefer them at home on the couch or in bed, but Magnus wasn’t picky about his time with Alec.
“So, how are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling okay, this really isn’t that bad right now. I know it won’t always feel this way, but I’m okay.”
“This doesn’t scare you?” It scared Magnus, and he was just a bystander.
Alec chewed his lip as he thought about it, “Yes, and no. This part here isn’t what I’m scared of, but when I look at the big picture, I’m scared. But just sitting here with you, no. I think that group is really going to help too, I actually had lunch the other day with one of the members, his name is Andrew.” Alec suddenly perked up and smiled, “He’s married to Lorenzo.”
“ What? Lorenzo Rey? My nemesis?”
Alec gave him a sarcastic look, “I didn’t realize you hated him so much that he’s your nemesis. He’s food is actually pretty good. I only talked to him for a little bit, but he seemed nice enough.”
“You ate his food? And liked it? What happened to loyalty? Alexander, I am disappointed in you.”
Alec hummed but seemed lost in thought, “I think you and Lorenzo would actually get along.”
Magnus laughed, “Oh, darling, I didn’t realize one of the side effects of chemotherapy was delusion.” Magnus then froze, worried he had gone too far. Could they joke about this yet? With him in the hospital? Were they even allowed to? Thankfully, Alec laughed with him.
“No, really. You two have a lot in common. Two successful, driven men, who have thriving businesses, and sick loved ones. You have so much to bond over. I told Andrew who you were and apparently he rants about you to his husband too. But, Andrew said he used to be a really great guy, he’s just stressed about Andrew and I don’t think he knows how to process that.”
Damn it! Magnus did not want to feel any kind of sympathy for Lorenzo Rey. Nor did he want to be told any similarities he might have to the man. Unfortunately, Magnus could already feel himself thaw for him. How could he blame Lorenzo for being temperamental while his husband slowly dies? It had only been a few weeks with Alec, and Magnus could feel himself turn bitter towards the world. If his Alexander did die, Magnus could hardly imagine he would have any kindness left within himself, not when fate cruelly took the best thing in his life. He won’t die! Magnus had to remind himself.
“I will consider making a peace offering. Once. If he doesn’t take it then that’s on him.” Magnus hesitantly replied.
“You’re a good man, Magnus Bane.”
Once they left the hospital, Magnus felt lighter than he had in days. This wasn’t so difficult. They could do this. Magnus had fussed over Alec, reminding him to stay hydrated and tucking him into the blankets in bed. Alec complained, but Magnus knew he was pleased with the attention. A little pampering never hurt anyone. It wasn’t until later that night, when Magnus woke to the sound of Alec retching in the bathroom, did the cold fear possess his body again. He quickly got up and ran into the room, he saw Alec limply holding himself above the toilet, heaving.
“Go away!” He weakly cried out.
“Never.” Magnus grabbed a cloth from the towel rack and soaked it with cool water, he carefully blotted Alec’s forehead
“You don’t need to see-” Alec vomited again, his whole body shaking. Magnus rubbed his back, whispering words of comfort. He could see the tears forming in Alec’s eyes, from embarrassment or from discomfort, Magnus didn’t know. He pretended he didn’t see them, trying to let Alec keep some of his dignity. Alec took deep breaths, trying to control his nausea. After a few minutes he carefully got up, with help from Magnus, and went to the sink to rinse out his mouth. He gripped the sides of the sink, “Magnus, this is my life now.”
“Our life. You know I am going to be here every step of the way.”
Alec laughed bitterly, “What a wonderful life I can offer you.”
Magnus nodded, “I wouldn’t want any other. Do you feel better? Let’s go to bed, darling. Let me hold you, please.” He led Alec away from the sink and into bed. Alec rested his head on Magnus’s chest, while Magnus ran his fingers through his hair. Eventually, Magnus could hear Alec’s deep breaths, and knew he had fallen asleep. Magnus stayed awake though, counting each and every breath Alec took, and tried to think of little else. Tried not to think of sickness, and bald heads, or the smell of the disinfectant the hospital used.
Instead he tried to think that he was just a man, holding his tired love after a long day.
The rhythmic, consistent hits to the punching bag soothed Jace. This is what he knew best. Anger, control, pain. So much pain. The gym was usually pretty empty around this time, but Jace had chosen a private room where they taught kickboxing classes so he would be left alone.
His brother was dying. It wasn’t fair, what had Alec ever done to deserve that? From the moment Jace met Alec he knew that he was safe with him. That Alec would always be there for him, and Jace had always strived to be the same for Alec. Yet, here was something Jace couldn’t fight for him, something Jace couldn’t stop. Alec had been the very foundation of his life. What would happen when Alec was no longer there?
“Feeling better?” Jace looked up to see Izzy walk in, her hair was up in a ponytail, and her face was bare of any makeup. It was a shock to see, Izzy always looked glamorous.
“No. You?” What could possibly make them feel better?
“Not at all. Have you talked to him lately?” Jace went to the bench on the side of the room to grab his water bottle and chugged out of it.
Izzy crossed her arms and glared at him, “And why not?”
Jace ran his hands through his hair in frustration and tugged. He didn’t want to talk about Alec, he didn’t want to talk to Alec. He wanted to sit in here, hitting the bag, and making his body numb in exhaustion.
“Jace, you need to talk to him. You can’t just ignore him.”
“Leave it alone, Izzy.” He grabbed his bag and walked out of the room, Izzy following him the whole way.
“You can’t run away from me forever.” Izzy’s voice pecked annoyingly.
Jace got to the men's locker room and stuck his tongue out at her, “No, but I can sure try.”
Standing in the shower, he let the hot water relax him. He knew that Izzy would be waiting for him when he got out, but he could let her wait it out a bit. He didn’t need to be reminded by her to talk to Alec while they still could, that one day he wouldn’t be here. Jace’s chest convulsed at the thought and he grabbed the shower wall to keep himself upright.
One day Alec wouldn’t be here.
Oh, God. When Jace had thought of his future, Alec was always by his side. To think that Alec wouldn’t be standing as his best man at his wedding, or helping him put his future child’s crib together was unimaginable. Alec wouldn’t be his brother anymore, he would be a memory. Someone he used to know, a person who knew every secret and took them to his grave.
It wasn’t fucking fair!
Jace arrested so many horrible people in this world. Murderers, rapists, and other lowlife creeps, but they live out the rest of their lives, and sometimes get off with little punishment for their actions. But Alec, Alec who had done nothing but love and protected others, is going to die. Jace would do anything to spare Alec this pain, but yet he could only stand by and do nothing.
Jace wasn’t sure how long he stood in the shower, watching water go down the drain lost in his own thoughts, but eventually he found the will to get dressed and face Izzy. He found Izzy pacing the hallway leading to the exit, she glared when she saw him, Jace held his hands up in surrender. They sat in silence for a moment in the empty hallway, both of their minds on their brother.
Finally, with a broken voice Jace said, “What can we do?”
“I don’t know. I talked to Alec this morning and he said he was fine, but I figured he was lying so I called Magnus. He said Alec was doing great all day yesterday, but last night he got really sick and was throwing up. He is pretty tired today, Magnus made him promise to stay home and rest. Alec didn’t even argue with him, so I know he must feel like shit. Magnus had a couple of meetings today so he asked if I would go over and keep him company, and I wanted to see if you wanted to come.”
Jace felt cold and sick all over at the thought of seeing Alec. When would Alec stop looking like himself and more like a patient?
“I’m sorry, I can’t. Tell Alec to feel better soon for me though.” He tried to walk around Izzy, but she caught his sweatshirt and pulled him to a stop.
“Why are you being so difficult?” Izzy exclaimed.
Jace couldn’t have this conversation, not here, he turned back around and almost got to the door when Izzy said, “Alec would have come to see you if you were in his place. In fact, I don’t think anything would stop him.”
Damn it, Izzy. Jace looked back at her, her shoulders were squared but her eyes were glistening. Jace realized it wasn’t just him losing Alec, he hadn’t even thought of anyone else’s pain. Never thought to check in on Mom, or text Magnus, his only thought was of his loss, but Alec was so much more than his brother.
Jace weakly nodded, “Okay, Iz. I’ll go.”
“Shouldn’t we knock first?” Jace hissed.
“Why else would Alec give me a key if he didn’t want me using it?” Her logic was flawless, as usual.
The apartment was not at all the kind of place Jace imagined Alec living, but he always assumed Magnus was the interior designer, and Alec loved him enough to just let him have his fun. The wallpaper was a deep red, with dark furniture and brick walls, the rugs were lavish and colorful, and the multiple bookshelves filled with books, some in languages Jace couldn’t even decipher. But there were pieces of Alec scattered around, his favorite blanket draped on the back of the couch, his chipped mug sitting on the coffee table, pictures of family hung on the walls. It wasn’t the kind of place Jace imagined Alec, but he could feel the love within the home, and knew it was exactly where he was supposed to be.
Alec stumbled out of the bedroom, looking a bit pale, his eyebrows went up in surprise when he saw them. “Hey, guys. What’s up?”
Izzy smiled and gave him a hug, “Just dropping by, we had the day off and wanted to come see you.”
“That’s nice of you, I was just going to come in here to watch a movie or something. We could order a pizza if you’re hungry. Let me go get my phone and I can call it in.”
Izzy pushed him towards the couch, “I can call them, you sit down.”
Alec glared, “I’m not helpless, Iz.”
“Neither am I.”
Jace wasn’t even sure why Alec would fight Izzy on this, he would never win. Sick or not, Izzy would wrestle him to the ground to get her way.
Jace sat down next to Alec, feeling awkward. Alec never minded the silence so he grabbed the remote and turned on Netflix, not even seeming to notice the tension in Jace.
Or so Jace thought.
“You can relax, I’m not gonna keel over anytime soon.”
“I am relaxed.”
Alec let out a short chuckle, “Sure. I’m not going to force you to talk, Jace. I am honestly too tired to even try. So we can sit here and watch Netflix and eat pizza. Or if you’re too uncomfortable you don’t have to be here, I get it. I really do.” Jace could only see calm acceptance in Alec’s face, as if he were prepared for everyone to leave him.
Is that what he thought? That they would abandon him?
But isn’t that what you did already? You left him on his own because you were too selfish to see past yourself. A cruel voice said in his mind. All at once an epiphany hit him. He could leave right now, walk out the door and avoid Alec for as long as he wanted and he knew that Alec would still love him, that no matter what he did he would always be welcome to sit here by Alec. Jace wouldn’t be able to save Alec from dying, but he could show Alec how much he loved him, to let Alec know that no matter what he would never be alone. Wasn’t that what Jace was always meant to be to Alec?
“Shut up.” Jace finally said, he leaned back on the couch and stole the remote, he was always better at picking the movie. He could see Alec staring at him from the corner of his eye, and heard Alec whisper, “Thanks, Jace.” He only nodded once, too choked up to say anything else.
Izzy bounded in and launched herself onto the couch, cuddling up to Alec. “Pizza should be here in about half an hour. Thank you Jace, for paying.”
“I never gave you my card.”
“I stole it from your gym bag.”
Jace could feel Alec’s body shake from laughter, as he pulled Izzy’s hair playfully. For a moment, it felt like the world was right again, and for now that had to be enough.
One moment they were watching Friends and the next Jace woke to the front door closing. Alec and Izzy were asleep on the couch, Jace was sprawled uncomfortably on the love seat. Magnus walked in, stopping when he saw them.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you?”
Jace stretched out, “Yeah, but that’s okay. What time is it?”
Magnus looked at his watch, “Nearly eight. Did everything go okay today?”
“Yeah, we just ordered a pizza, and binge watched Netflix all day.”
Magnus hummed quietly and walked over to Alec on the sofa, gently stroking the hair out of his eyes. “Did he get sick at all?”
“Not while I was here, but he didn’t eat as much as usual.” Jace took note of every change he could find in Alec.
“Thank you for staying with him today. I couldn’t bear the thought of him being alone all day.”
“You don’t need to thank me. I actually didn’t want to come today at all, but Izzy convinced me. I’m glad she did.”
Magnus chuckled quietly, not wanting to wake up Alec, “Dear Isabelle is a formidable opponent.”
Jace hesitated, not wanting to step over any boundaries, “How do you do this? I could barely look him in the eye, and yet you live here with him every single day.”
“It’s simple, really. He’s my family, and the only future I want. This isn’t about me, I don’t care how badly it hurts for me if it means lightening this burden for him. I love him, so I stay. I want to stay.”
“Even if we lose him in the end?” Jace’s voice shook with effort to keep his voice down. He wanted to scream and yell at the injustice of it all.
Magnus continued to stoke Alec’s head, Alec sleepily murmured and rested his face in Magnus’s hand. For as soft as his touch was, Jace could see the rigidness in his body, his face was like stone, and there was a dangerous glint in his eyes.
“I won’t lose Alexander.”
Next up we take a look into Maryse's life.
Let me know what you think!
Thank you for all of the support on this story!
There was an unspoken rule about motherhood, an indisputable fact you needed to accept before you gaze on the face of your child, and that was that your heart would never remain intact. It bursts with love, swells with pride, tears with worry, and breaks in sorrow. So many emotions you never knew existed live within your heart, pounding on its walls with a ferocity that was as violent as it was tender. Motherhood was accepting the fact that you were no longer your own person, as a part of you lives within another. It lives in those moments when peanut butter sticky fingers hold your hand in comfort, or when an angel's face smiles at you with a baby tooth grin and says “I love you.”
It dies the moment you realize you will outlive your child.
Maryse Trueblood did not have an overly affectionate childhood, though she did remember hugging her parents on special occasions. When she married Robert they praised her for marrying intelligently, and that always bothered her. It wasn’t until she found out about Robert’s affairs did she realize why that did. She wasn’t in love with him, and she wished someone would have warned her beforehand. Her parents knew, yet they still approved of the match. Maryse could never regret marrying Robert, she had three beautiful children with him, even if one wasn’t biologically theirs, she just always wished she loved him the way she felt she was supposed to.
The way she loved another man before Robert.
“Ms Trueblood? Is there anything I can get for you before I head out?” Maryse looked up to see her new assistant standing in the doorway. He was still in law school and was bright but timid. Even standing before her he fidgeted and wouldn’t make eye contact. He needed to toughen up if he was ever going to last in a courtroom.
“No, Geoffrey, I am okay. Thank you. Have a good weekend.” She smiled slightly for his benefit, he must have been around the age of her Isabelle.
I’m getting soft. She had to admit that since learning of Alec’s diagnosis she had been…emotional. She got angry at a mother on the subway who was talking on her phone while her daughter was trying to show her a picture she drew in class. She cried at Macy’s when a toddler waved at her from his stroller. Hell, she cried when she passed the kids section and remembered when Alec fit into those tiny clothes.
An understandable reaction in her mind, though the sales clerk looked at her like she was insane.
Even now in her office, looking at the pictures she had on her desk made her tear up. Izzy holding a blue ribbon standing proudly at her science fair, Jace with a serious look the first time he put on his police uniform, and Alexander sprawled out on the living room floor surrounded by books.
Maryse sighed and brought out her cell phone, Magnus was great at keeping her updated. She was lucky if she got a text from Alec telling her he was fine. With no texts from either of the boys, she began to feel jittery and claustrophobic in her office. She needed to go on a walk, clear her head, it didn’t matter where she went she just needed to be away. Grabbing her purse she made a quick exit, trying not to make eye contact with anyone and encourage conversation.
The streets of New York were chaotic, with everyone trying to go home. Maryse had a lifetime of practice in these streets though, she knew how to elbow through people and make it look like an accident.
The weather seemed to match her mood with a cloudy day and a slight chill. It made her mood worse, however when it started to rain. Hurrying, Maryse ran into the first place she saw, which ended up being a little diner called Cleo’s. It was grubby and smelled like grease, but it would be fine enough to eat at until the rain cleared.
Sitting at a booth where the vinyl seats had seen better days, days that might have been fifty years ago, Maryse ordered a cup of tea while she looked at the menu. She couldn’t remember the last time she had a sloppy burger and salty fries, maybe that’s exactly what she needed.
“Maryse? Maryse Trueblood?”
She jolted her head up to see her past standing in front of her. The tall, dark, and handsome past.
“Lucian?” She hadn’t seen him since she was twenty, when he told her he couldn’t be with her anymore. It broke her heart at the time, a pain she thought she’d never get over, but she had known worse pain since then. It was hardly anything at all to her now.
“I haven’t seen you in years! How have you been?” He was still handsome, though he had bulked up quite a bit. God damn him he looked better now than he ever had. Maryse tried to pull herself out of her shock and gestured for him to sit down, the waitress came by with her tea and took both of their orders. Lucian eagerly gave him her order, it looked like he was going to be joining Maryse for dinner then. She tried not to notice the way the waitress smiled at him. It’s been years, get over it!
He looked at her expectantly and she realized she had never answered him. “I am doing well. I have three children, and I'm a partner at Alicante Firm as a prosecutor. Everything is going great.” Great might be a stretch, but Maryse would hardly open herself up to him. She didn’t know him anymore.
“I’m happy for you, Mar. I really am.” He smiled at her, it wasn’t the smile she always knew, the bright wide smile that made her knees weak. It was worn and tired, but content. Like the man itself she assumed.
“What about yourself? It’s funny running into you here.” Funny was also a stretch. Truthfully, she believed fate was having fun sharpening her knives and digging into where Maryse was most vulnerable. First Robert, then Alec, and now Luke. Could she catch a fucking break?
“Well, I come here often. My sister actually opened up this place years ago, and I’d hardly be a good brother if I didn’t come here and support her business.”
“Cleophas? I didn’t even realize she could cook.” Maryse distinctly remembers burnt Christmas cookies every year, and politely chewing through them, thinking that an actual brick might taste better.
Luke laughed, “Oh, she can’t, but she can hire people who do know how to cook. She was mostly in it for the hospitality part. She likes working the counter and talking to her regulars. She dropped out of Yale her third year in, I think a part of why she opened the place was as a fuck you to our parents. She ended up loving it though, and she’s been happy.”
“What about yourself? Last I heard you got accepted into medical school. Did you also drop out to spite your parents? What career did you choose? Birthday clown?”
“Close. Rodeo clown.” Maryse looked at him in shock until he chuckled.
“I’m kidding. I’m a neurologist now. I never really had the courage Cleo did to start a revolution.”
Neurologist. Suddenly Maryse hated him again, and his whole profession. People like him looked people like her son in the eyes and told them they were dying. Maryse came here to run away from her problems, but they seemed to be able to keep up with her just fine.
“I always did like Cleophas more.”
Luke raised an eyebrow, “Still mad at me? Come on, Mar. You know I did you a favor when we broke up, also that was years ago.”
“I’m not aware of any favors you did for me. Also, I’m not mad at you for something that happened that long ago. I moved on, I got married, I have a career I love, and children I love even more. My life ended up the way it was always meant to.”
“You mentioned you loved your career and your family, but not your husband.”
Maryse gave Luke a frigid glare, “Cleophas never asked me questions like that.”
“I wasn’t asking. You aren’t wearing a wedding ring, so I assume the marriage went sour?”
Luke had the decency to look slightly ashamed, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I never actually heard who you got married to at all, after our parents got into that fight we never really got the news of the Trueblood family.”
Their parents used to be business partners when they were growing up. In what, Maryse never really understood. They seemed to have their hands into everything, and had close connections to New York’s politicians. When Luke’s father accused Maryse’s father of embezzling money from them, everything fell apart. Most importantly, her relationship with Luke. She had snuck into Luke’s room one night, and they had talked about what they would do, for them at the time breaking up was never going to be an option. It made it that much more heartbreaking when Luke left her, it was embarrassing to her that she was the one who held on so long. Maybe it would have been better if she was the one who left him, but she had always known that she could never leave him if she had a choice.
“No, I imagine not. I married a man named Robert. He was kind enough, and my parents approved. A few years ago he was in a car accident in Vermont.” She left out the part where he was on a weekend getaway with his twenty something year old mistress. Her own children didn’t even know about the affair, and she intended to keep it that way. Robert was gone, and she would rather them keep their fond memories of him. Especially Izzy, she idolized him growing up and it would crush her to know. They were content now, and closer as a family than they had ever been before. She didn’t want to ruin that, and Alec needed their attention now more than ever.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
The waitress brought their food to their table, Luke had ordered a massive burger with curly fries, and Maryse a grilled chicken salad. Luke had given her a look when she ordered it, she used to be able to out eat him any day of the week.
“You know for a doctor, I thought you’d approve of my meal choice and not clogging up my arteries.”
“I’m a neurologist, not a cardiologist.”
“Ah.” She simply said while pouring on her salad dressing.
“Do you not approve of my line of work?”
“No, you worked very hard to get there I’m sure.”
“You seem tense when I mention it.”
“I’m fine.” She bit out. Luke leaned back at the heat in her voice. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you, Lucian.”
He stared at her pensively, as if she were a puzzle he was trying to piece together. Maryse wished him luck finding all of the pieces, even she wasn’t quite sure where they lay.
“Are you happy, Maryse?”
She jerked at the question as if it burned her. “Are you?”
“You always did that, tried your hardest not to talk about yourself. What’s the harm in confiding in me? We may leave this place and never see each other again, and if we haven’t crossed paths in all these years, we most likely never will again.”
For some reason that made Maryse ache inside, but it was dull compared to the other pain she carried with her. “My son has cancer. I just found out not too long ago, so if I seem a little angry with doctors, that’s why. There isn’t anything they can do for him, and it’s killing me.”
“Maryse…” He seemed to be lost for words, staring at her with wide eyed horror. “Maybe I can pull some strings for him, or get a hold of his records and look at them myself. I’m not an oncologist but I have some experience with this.”
“I imagine you’d have quite a bit of experience with this. It’s a brain tumor.”
Luke closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “I’m so sorry.”
Maryse shrugged, “No need to apologize.”
“If it makes you feel any better, it’s not easy for me either when I get patients like that. It’s not anything like what the family or patient go through, but believe me when I say that whoever is taking care of your son, truly cares for him as well.”
“Not like I do. I felt him kicking inside of me, I held him in my arms, and watched him grow up to be an amazing young man. No person alive could care for him the way I do. I’ve heard of parents losing their children, and I always wondered how they could even survive after that. If the world worked the way it was supposed to, I’d never even have to know. But, I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds in the same position my son is in.”
“Do you know what doctor he sees?”
“No, but he goes to the Methodist Hospital out near Brooklyn.”
Luke froze and for a split second Maryse saw panic in his eyes. She knew before she even opened her mouth the answer of her question.
“Lucian, is that where you work?”
He cleared his throat a couple of times before he managed out a feeble yes.
“I see. So I take it you just might know my son.”
“Legally, I can’t disclose that information. You should know that.” He was stalling.
“His name is Alexander Lightwood.” Maryse could see that Luke was trying so hard to keep his face impassive, but there were some things that Maryse would always know about him. The clench of his jaw and stillness in his body said everything she needed to know.
Luke was the one who diagnosed her son.
She tried to keep the tears at bay, but the harder she tried the more they flowed down. She held her hand over her mouth to keep in her wails.
“Maryse, whoever your son is seeing, I promise they are doing everything they can for him.” He reached out and put his hand over hers on the table. Fate had upgraded from knives to atomic bombs now it seemed. The only man she had ever truly loved gave her son his death sentence. It wasn’t his fault her son was dying, but he was easy enough to blame for now. That was how the first time in her life, Maryse got up and left Lucian Garroway.
I had so much fun writing this chapter! Now I'm sure most of you have noticed that Max Lightwood is not included in this story, and that is because a few chapters in I realized I had forgotten that character entirely. He had always been such a minor player for me, in the books and in the show. So in this story there is no Max. Sorry to all of the Max fans out there but he slipped my mind.
To say things went back to normal wouldn’t exactly be right, but it was close enough. Every morning when Magnus left for work after a quick-some not so quick-kiss, Alec would spend the day in their home office. Turns out his job really didn’t need him to be present to do ninety-five percent of what he does. Every Tuesday afternoon him and Lydia would still have lunch at Lily’s, and she was kind enough not to talk about his treatments or cancer. Wednesday’s were for the group meetings where all they would talk about was treatments and cancer.
Sunday was apparently now reserved for family meals, Alec never even invited them over, they just showed up with carry out and crashed on their couch. Magnus, of course welcomed them in, it wasn’t that Alec didn’t want them there, and he was used to impromptu visits from Izzy and Jace, but having his mom show up unannounced was new. There was also a new dynamic within their small family unit, it was subtle but Alec noticed. Now whenever he moved he could feel them move with him, as if they were watching his every move, as if they were preparing themselves to catch him if anything were to happen.
Magnus was the guiltiest of them all when it came to hovering. He checked in multiple times a day, and called him if he took too long to text back. He also wrote down all of Alec’s symptoms daily in that goddamn binder that he carried around like a bible. The other day Alec accidentally knocked over Magnus’s innumerable hygiene products in the shower and he came bursting into the bathroom and into the shower stall, fully clothed, to make sure Alec didn’t hurt himself. It took much longer than Alec felt necessary to calm Magnus down and reassure him he did not need an ambulance ride to the hospital.
Alec was going crazy. It was like no one trusted him to be able to take care of himself anymore, he wasn’t invalid, not yet anyway. He didn’t want to be angry at Magnus, he knew that if it were Magnus that was sick Alec would be acting the same way, but it was hard to remember sometimes that Magnus was taking this just as hard as he was.
Hearing his phone buzz, Alec pulled himself away from his desk and saw another text from Magnus. How are you feeling, darling?
Frustrated, annoyed, irritated. He sent a quick message back saying he was fine and then pulled up another number to text.
Still up for those drinks you owe me?
Andrew was already waiting for him at Hunter’s Moon when Alec got there, he seemed dejected, his shoulders stooped low and bags under his eyes. He was wearing a beanie today, so at first glance you would never know. Alec patted his shoulder as he sat down and Andrew gave him a forced smile.
“I hope you don’t mind that I started without you.”
“Not at all, I just needed to get out of the house today.” Alec got the bartender's attention and ordered a beer, Magnus would have his head later but it was worth it. Andrew didn’t say anything, he just stared at his glass.
Andrew took a deep breath, “Lorenzo and I had a fight last night. He cancelled on me again. Well, actually he didn’t cancel on me, he stood me up. He didn’t even have the decency to call me and let me know that he wouldn’t be home. So I sat around like an idiot trying to get a hold of him. He got home from the restaurant around midnight and he was upset that I was still awake, that I should be resting. Then I just started to yell at him, I don’t even remember everything I said to him, but he swore that he told me. I’m so tired of fighting with him.” He started to fidget with his wedding ring, moving it around his finger as if it weighed heavy on his hand.
“Have you thought of couple’s counseling?” At one point Jace and Clary had to have a few sessions, their pigheaded personalities getting the best of them, but they overcame that and they have never been better.
“I can’t even get Lorenzo to come home at a decent time, I doubt I’d be able to get him into a counselor’s office.”
“If he sees how much it means to you it might.” He meant the words to be encouraging, but they only seemed to enrage Andrew.
His face turned an alarming shade of red, “I shouldn’t have to tell him how to treat me! I shouldn’t have to sit down with him and tell him that our relationship means a lot to me, because he should be just as concerned about it as I am. Sure, he’s great at remembering my prescription refills, and he never minds holding my bucket when I’m sick, but I need more.”
As quickly as the anger came it left, “I can’t keep fighting for my marriage, I’m already fighting for my life.”
Alec was stunned, “You’ve never mentioned this in the group meetings.”
“Look, I don’t care who knows about my impending demise, but to admit that my marriage is failing…” Andrew shook his head, choked up.
Alec nodded his head, trying to think of what to say. He had never really had anything like that happen to him before. There had been petty jealousy, Magnus was very experienced, and there had been snide comments, but there was never anything so major that it threatened their life together. Alec had always considered themselves lucky, but now he wondered if they just hadn’t faced something bigger than they could handle before. Looking at Andrew, he wondered if he were looking at his future.
“So leave him.”
Andrew gaped at him in horror, “ What? No!”
Alec shrugged, “Why not? You said to me once that our lives are too short to stick around with someone who doesn’t love us. So if you really believe that your marriage is too far gone to save, why are you sticking around?”
“Lorenzo loves me, in his own way-” He sputtered.
“You also said you shouldn’t have to tell him how to treat you.”
“I just want to feel close to him again! Even at night when we go to bed it feels like there is a wall between us. We don’t even kiss anymore, or hold hands. It feels like I am living with a roommate and not my husband.”
“Have you told him that?”
Andrew shook his head, “I know he has a lot on his plate, and I don’t want him to feel like he’s failing me.”
“Isn’t he though? Maybe not intentionally, but there are needs that you have that he is not fulfilling. I can’t tell you what to do, but I know that if it were me in his position, I would want Magnus to tell me if he needs something from me. Isn’t that what it’s about having a partner?”
A lightbulb rang above Alec’s head, and while he didn’t rejoice in Andrew’s pain, it did give him a lot to think about in his own personal life. While he was sitting at home annoyed with Magnus’s hovering, Andrew was practically begging for attention from his husband. Alec didn’t appreciate all of Magnus’s scrutiny, but he knows that it all came from love, and he would much rather be fighting off his over protectiveness than his indifference. If he was being honest with himself, he could admit that a small part of him enjoyed it, of being loved that much by someone. As if Magnus could sense Alec’s thoughts, his phone buzzed with a message from him.
I can’t wait to see you tonight. <3
Alec smiled at the little heart he sent.
Can’t wait either. I miss you.
Looking up he saw Andrew watching him with a knowing smile.
Alec’s face heated up, “Yes.” Alec loved to talk about Magnus, but not in any deep way. He loved bragging about his successes, and retelling funny stories, but to sit down and talk about just how much he loved Magnus wasn’t something Alec did well, sometimes even telling Magnus was a struggle.
“I love you, Alexander.” It was the first time those words had ever been said to each other, and Magnus gazed at him with a wistful smile on his face. Alec was sure his face wasn’t nearly as beautiful, instead it probably looked like he was about to be sick.
“I lo- I feel the same.” Idiot!
Magnus only chuckled and held Alec’s hand tighter, “Don’t worry darling, I know. You tell me every day in your own way.”
Alec had gotten better at it, sometimes when he was feeling bold he bordered on sappy, but anyway he told Magnus he seemed to understand Alec perfectly.
“Back to Lorenzo though,” Alec started again, Andrew rolled his eyes.
“I’ll talk to him tonight if he deems me important enough to sit down with me.” he spat out bitterly. “Enough of this though, I owe you drinks so let’s drink.” Andrew held out his glass and clinked Alec’s with it. Alec took a sip of his drink and made a silent vow to make sure Andrew and Lorenzo had their happy ending.
The stumble into the apartment was probably not the best way to reassure Magnus, and the slur and glazed over eyes might actually give him a stroke. Alec was determined though to act as natural as possible, and he thought he was pulling it off pretty well.
“Alexander? Are you drunk right now?” So maybe his acting could use some work.
“Magnus! You’re home!” Alec floundered his way to the couch where Magnus was watching TV, Magnus frowned at him.
“When you said you were out with Andrew I didn’t realize you’d be out drinking. Sit down and let me get you some water.” Magnus got up and to Alec’s delight saw he was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants and black sleeveless shirt. His hair was damp from his shower and his face makeup free.
“God, you’re gorgeous. How’d you get so damn beautiful?” Alec lazily propped his head up on his hand, watching as Magnus filled a glass up from the sink, walking back to the couch Magnus seemed to be evaluating him.
“Was everything okay today? You’re not usually a drinker.” Alec pulled down Magnus on top of him after setting the water aside, and Magnus let out a startled laugh. Alec sloppily kissed him on the cheek.
“Andrew owed me drinks. We had a contest on who was worse at sex and I won. The coming out to Lydia story is sure to beat anyone.”
“Mm-hmm. Well, I’m glad you had fun today but are sure you should be drinking?” Magnus’s eyebrows crinkled with worry. A rush of affection filled Alec.
“Thank you. For caring about me. I know I can be a difficult patient, but thank you. I love you.”
Magnus looked touched, and a tinge of pink appeared on the tips of his ears. He just keeps raising the bar on being adorable.
“I love you!” Alec started to sing out, and Magnus put his hand over his mouth and shushed him, though he looked pleased.
“Oh Alexander, what am I going to do with you?”
“Just love me.” Alec sighed out, exhaustion from the day starting to take its toll. He leaned his head back and pulled Magnus closer to him.
Magnus’s eyes looked glassy as he replied, “I always will,”
Thank you so much for all of your support on this story! It makes it that much more fun writing it.
“Would you mind passing me the juice, Andrew?”
Andrew pretended not to hear him, munching on his eggs Benedict while reading the newspaper. Lorenzo sighed, he had hoped that after the other night the tension between them would ease away. He had even woken up early this morning to make them breakfast as an apology. He knew he had messed up the other night, but he could’ve swore that he had told Andrew that he was planning on working late. He had completely forgotten their plans, and while it was no excuse, couldn’t Andrew see how hard he was working for him? The more he worked, the more catering jobs he took, the more money he could bring in for treatments. There was a specialist in Atlanta he wanted to take Andrew to, but she wasn’t cheap.
“Andrew, I understand that you’re mad at me, but could you please talk to me?”
“Oh, you want to talk now? Great, let’s talk. I’m dying to, literally dying.”
Lorenzo flinched, his body starting to heat up in anger, “Stop that. You know I hate it when you joke about that.”
“It’s the truth though, and denying it doesn’t help either of us. You know the doctor told us there isn’t anything they can do. You know we are just waiting until the end.”
Lorenzo shook his head, “No, there is a specialist in Atlanta we can go to. Get a second opinion.”
“Then what happens? When she says I’m dying what will we do?”
We go to any hospital that might have an answer for us. Lorenzo didn’t say that though, he knew that it was far-fetched, even for him. He couldn’t help it, what was wrong with wanting to be thorough? It would destroy him to find out later that they could have been doing something to help Andrew, that there was a stone unturned that would uncover their cure.
Andrew chewed on his lip and rushed out the words, “I think we should go to a counselor.”
Lorenzo raised his eyebrows, “A counselor? You think you need a therapist? Are those group meetings not helping?” Of course, Andrew needed individualized sessions, that made sense. That group was probably all about accepting their lot in life, as if that was a normal thing to do. Andrew needed someone to help him keep fighting.
“No, Lorenzo. We need a therapist. Like, couple’s counseling. For our relationship.”
“What’s wrong with our relationship?” Lorenzo exclaimed incredulously.
Andrew seemed to sink in on himself, as if deflating against the pressure. “What we have between us right now is okay for you? It’s okay for you that we don’t kiss anymore? Or go on dates? Or that the last time we had sex was Christmas? You think it’s okay that we can’t even talk anymore?”
Lorenzo thought that over, surely the last time they were intimate wasn’t that long ago. They kissed all the time, didn’t they? He tried to remember the last time they held each other but came up empty. They cuddled at night, he was always waking up with Andrews limbs tangled in his own. Though, come to think of it, his arms had been painfully empty in the morning for quite some time. Why hadn’t he noticed that?
Andrew gave a sad shake of his head, “Oh Lorenzo, we have bigger problems than I thought.”
Lorenzo felt itchy all over, like there was a spot that he couldn’t quite scratch, and it had everything to do with his conversation with Andrew. They didn’t need a counselor, they were just going through a dry spell. Every couple had one, it didn’t mean they weren’t in love or they meant less to each other. On the contrary, he still loved Andrew with every fiber of his being, that had never wavered.
When it came to sex though, Lorenzo was terrified. He wouldn’t be able to bear it if he accidentally hurt him. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to, there had been many nights where he had just stared at Andrew, his body burning with lust. He didn’t want to push him though, or ask for more than Andrew was able to give. Andrew had always been a gracious and selfless lover, and he had never wanted him to feel guilty about not feeling up for it, or wanting to stop. Andrew walking into his life had been a gift, and he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.
As if their fight this morning wasn’t bad enough, he couldn’t go home tonight to discuss more with Andrew, he was catering a wedding tonight. He was usually always pleased to make a few thousand dollars in one night, but tonight it was a burden. He wanted to be at home, to prove to Andrew that their relationship wasn’t over, that it was still thriving. How could it not be thriving? In Lorenzo’s mind, Andrew was perfect for him in every way. How could a love like that ever cool?
To make matters worse, Magnus Bane was running this damn wedding. God, he was such an asshole. He hoped that Magnus wouldn’t want to sit down and bond over their shared experiences. Alec was a fine enough person, Andrew liked him immensely, but Lorenzo could only tolerate so much from the Bane household. Lorenzo watched him from across the room, he was talking to the bride’s mother, she threw her head back and laughed and touched his arm. How anyone thought Magnus’s bullshit was charming Lorenzo would never know.
He wasn’t sure how their...feud started but he couldn’t remember a time he did not despise Magnus Bane. The redhead that he worked with wasn’t horrible, a little entitled but not nearly as irritating as Magnus. Lorenzo never understood the point of large lavish weddings, it seemed like a waste of time and energy. Then again, the clients expensive tastes benefited his business, so who was he to complain. His own wedding with Andrew was at the courthouse, just the two of them. It was perfect. Though if Andrew had really pushed for a large wedding Lorenzo would have found a way to deal with that, but Andrew seemed happy just to be with him, to share that moment together. The memory of it hurt, badly. They were so happy, and now Andrew was falling out of love with him. Needing space, Lorenzo walked away from the buffet and told his line cook he was going to the restroom.
The bathroom was empty when he walked in, and he found a stall to lock himself in. He tried to hold in his gasping breaths. What if Andrew asked for a divorce? How many ways had he disappointed him? How long had he been thinking they were no longer compatible?
He heard someone walk in and Lorenzo stilled. He heard Magnus Bane’s voice float through the air. “Darling? Did you get sick again? I can be home in half an hour if you need me to come home.” Ah, Alec must have had an infusion recently, Andrew was always sick as a dog when he got home from them. He couldn’t hear Alec’s reply but Magnus responded with, “Don’t be stubborn. Call your mother, I know she’s free tonight because she asked me if I wanted her to watch you while I was at work.”
A long pause, “Maybe those weren’t the right words. I know you can take care of yourself, darling. I just want to make sure you aren’t stuck home alone going crazy. I don’t want you to feel abandoned. I’m here for your every need. Yes, of course. If you say so. I love you more. Goodbye, dearest.” Lorenzo heard Magnus sigh.
“Okay, Lorenzo. You can stop eavesdropping and come out.”
Bastard. He couldn’t even let a man wallow with his dignity. Still, he walked out and faced Bane. He hoped he looked more confident than he felt.
“Hello, Magnus. Alec not feeling well?” He tried to sound concerned but Magnus still bristled.
“Alexander is feeling under the weather, yes. What concern is it of yours?”
“Calm down, Bane. I’m not trying to goad you into anything. I know that whenever Andrew finishes a transfusion he doesn’t even get out of bed.”
Magnus seemed to relax a bit, “I’m sorry to hear about Andrew. Him and Alec seem to be getting along great. I haven’t met him yet but Alec only says good things.”
Of course, who would ever have anything bad to say about Andrew? He had a certain blunt charm and easy going laugh that was infectious. Lorenzo thanked every Saint that he was allowed to be his husband. Yet, he was ruining it. Somehow. Lorenzo wasn’t even sure how.
“Likewise. Are you planning on leaving soon?” Please leave. I can only bear you for so long.
“Right after the cake is cut. I don’t like for Alec to be left home alone for too long. You know how that goes. Alec finds it annoying, I’m sure Andrew does too if he’s anything like my love.”
“I don’t know what you mean, I work very long hours and hardly ever have time to be home.”
Magnus gave him an odd look, almost like pity. “What about Andrew? He doesn’t mind?”
Now it was Lorenzo’s turn to be defensive, “Our relationship is fine.”
Magnus just shrugged, “Every relationship is different I guess.” Magnus suddenly turned very serious, and Lorenzo was sure he wouldn’t like what he was going to say.
“How do you do it? I can’t stand it, being away from him. I never enjoyed it before the cancer, but I could rationalize it. Understand that we both have lives away from each other. Now it’s like if I’m not with him everything is going to fall apart. If he doesn’t make it-” Mangus shuddered, and took a deep breath, “If Alec...leaves me, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life knowing I missed out on time with him. Does it get easier?”
Lorenzo felt like he couldn’t breathe, he had never thought of it like that. He had never allowed himself to think that one day Andrew would be gone, he was always so sure that they would make it, and that every sacrifice he made would be worth it. A part of him, a selfish part that he wished he could eradicate, spent all his time at work because he couldn’t watch Andrew die. He couldn’t watch the healthy man he knew and loved slowly sink into nothing. There wasn’t a world or a time where Lorenzo thought that he wouldn’t spend the rest of his life with Andrew. What if Andrew died? Was this how he wanted to remember him? Alone and frustrated? If he did die all of his work would be for nothing, and the sacrifice he made would be much larger than he was willing to pay.
“No.” He finally responded. “It never gets easier.”
It was late by the time Lorenzo got home, finding a florist open this late at night was a lot harder to find than he had thought. He had chosen a bouquet of calla lily and lavender, a sweet but simple bundle. Just like Andrew. The apartment was dark and quiet, and he knew Andrew was asleep. He quietly marched his way into their bedroom, and saw Andrew bundled in a mound of blankets, chemotherapy had frequently made him chilly, his smooth head peeking out of the cocoon. He slowly drew the blanket down and took a long look at his husband, something he had not done in a while.
The purple underneath his eyes seemed far more prominent, Lorenzo ached with guilt at the thought of the stress he put Andrew through. His lips were slightly chapped but still the same full shape that never failed to stir him. He knew that if Andrew opened his eyes, they would still be the same shade of brown that reminded him of chocolate. When did he stop looking at Andrew like this? Why did he ever stop cataloging every detail to make up the most important face in his life?
He bent down and kissed his forehead, and Andrew stirred awake. “Lorenzo? What are you doing?”
Lorenzo pulled out the bouquet from behind his back, Andrew’s eyes went wide with surprise. A liquid honey warmth went through his veins, he had forgotten the joy of shocking him. “I wanted to apologize. You’re right, I haven’t been there for you the way I should have. I want to though, if you will still let me. I’ll go to a counselor if that is what it takes. I’ll cut back on my hours. I want to be your husband again.”
Andrew didn’t seem to know what to say, his mouth opening and closing like an adorable fish. When words seemed to fail him he reached up and gave a quick taste of a kiss on Lorenzo’s lips. That just wouldn’t do. Lorenzo pulled him tighter against him and deepened the kiss. Good lord how had he gone so long without this? It was beautiful. Andrew let out a raspy moan and then pulled away in embarrassment.
There wasn’t any embarrassment in Lorenzo though, all he could think about was Andrew, and how much he missed his delightful body working against his own. “Oh, Andrew, the things I want to do to you. Is this okay? We don’t have to do anything tonight, but I want to.”
“Yes, oh Lorenzo, please yes!”
They had a lot to talk about still, breaks in their hearts that needed to be repaired, but that could wait until tomorrow. Tonight, Lorenzo planned to show Andrew exactly how much he missed him, and hopefully he’d be sore enough to know throughout the next few days on how much Andrew missed him.
Just some fluff and nice feelings before I bring out the angst again. :) Lorenzo and Andrew was a couple I wished we got to see more of on the show, that one wedding scene was just not enough.
Alec woke up with a very warm body pressed against his and lips traveling down his neck, he had woken up this way many times before but it never failed to stir him. He let out a sigh of pure bliss and arched his neck, enjoying Magnus’s attention. “Good morning, darling.” Darling. He had never been a fan of pet names until Magnus came along, but Darling suited him just fine.
“Good morning.” He rasped out. He gave a quick glance at the clock and raised his eyebrow. “You’re going to be late if you don’t get a move on.” Magnus spent a solid hour on his hair and makeup alone in the morning.
Magnus smirked, “I could play hooky again. It would be unfair of me to leave you to keep this bed warm by yourself.”
“Absolutely not. Also, I have work to do myself so I’d appreciate it if you weren’t around distracting me.”
Magnus’s smirk turned absolutely feral, “Distract you how?” He pulled himself up and straddled his hips, “Like this?” He slowly dragged his hands under Alec shirt’s stroking his way up to Alec’s chest, “Or like this?”
Laughing Alec threw Magnus off of him and pinned him to the bed, “Most definitely like that.”
Magnus chuckled and then gave his signature pout, “I can’t help it, Alexander. I miss you during the day.”
“How about I come over this afternoon and we can have lunch together?”
“A wonderful idea! That should certainly keep me motivated.” Magnus gave him a quick kiss and then got up to get ready, his hips swaying purposefully.
You devil. Alec thought fondly.
Since he was running late, Magnus wasn’t able to do much for his makeup, leaving his face far more minimalist than his usual look. His hair was in a more casual swept away rather than the severe mohawk he strived for. He looked incredible. Even more amazing, he had decided to forgo his rings, except for his engagement ring. The amethyst stone sparkling on his bare hand. Alec felt a rush of pride, he had never been great at picking out what to get for Magnus. There had been several birthdays and holidays where Magnus wore a pained smile at a sweater or tie Alec had chosen for him, and he had politely but quickly returned the items and exchanged them for what he was really wanting. Yet Magnus seemed to love his ring, staring at it with a dazed smile when he thought Alec wasn’t watching.
“I will see you later for lunch, my love. I have a meeting with a venue owner at eleven but I’ll call you afterwards so we can meet up. Have a good day.” After a quick kiss Magnus was out the door, leaving a trail of cologne and glitter.
Alec sighed and stretched out his body, the need to get to work and the urge to stay in bed fighting. As a happy medium, he decided to start out by taking a shower, hoping the water would jolt him awake. Hopping out of bed, Alec felt a tingle beneath his skin, an overwhelming happiness that had settled in his bones, regardless of his current situation. He had new friends, a beautiful partner, his family was closer now than they ever had been. It was like the pieces of his old shattered life had fallen into a new order, it was messier and a little jagged, but whole.
The hot water was heaven against his skin, he let himself soak in the steam before grabbing his shampoo and working it into his hair. Scrubbing it in, Alec realized that it didn’t quite feel right. He looked at his hands and to his horror, he was holding chunks of his hair. His chest caved in and the breath was stolen from his lungs. He knew this was going to happen, had seen the smooth scalps of his friends, but for some reason it didn’t feel real. He quickly rinsed out his shampoo and got out of the shower. Wiping away the condensation on the mirror he looked at himself. Was it obvious yet?
He ran his hands through his hair again, looking for any bald spots. It was definitely far more thin than he had realized. On the side of his temple you could see the hairline falling back, you might not be able to notice if you weren’t looking closely but it was all Alec saw. He bit his lip to hold and tried to hold back his tears. It was really happening.
Alec felt almost numb, and he realized what he had to do. He was going to face this head on, and go all in. He couldn’t control that he was losing his hair, but he could control how. He knew Magnus kept a set of clippers on hand, and he rummaged through the drawers until he found them. He flipped the switch and it pulsed to life in his hands. He took a deep breath and aimed them at his scalp, but for some reason he couldn’t make himself do it. He slumped in defeat. This wasn’t even the hardest thing he had done, and yet it felt impossible. Alec groaned even as he dialled Simon’s number, realizing that he needed his help.
After several energetic knocks on his door, Alec opened it up to see Simon with his dorky grin and even dorkier shirt. Today it was a plain gray T-shirt with the NASA logo. “Hey, Alec. I came as quickly as I could. What’s up?” He was an okay guy, Alec relented.
“I need you to shave my head.”
Simon’s mouth popped open, his eyes wide. “Um, seriously?”
Alec reached up and pulled a chunk of his hair out. “It’s coming out, and I want it gone.”
Simon’s face morphed into calm understanding, “Righteous. Let’s do this.” Now it was Alec’s turn to be shocked.
“You’ll do it?”
He shrugged, “Yeah. It makes sense to me. You’re right, it is falling out. No reason to wait it out.” Simon took off his jacket and set it on the couch, when he looked back at Alec, there wasn’t any pity or sympathy. Just that calm, dorky grin. It was exactly what Alec needed. He figured that’s just how Simon was, an infinitely patient and roll with punches kind of guy. For a moment Alec envied him.
“Let’s get crack-a-lackin.” Moment gone. He was still an annoying dweeb, but useful one though.
Alec led him to the bathroom and handed Simon the clippers. He sat down on the stool he had set out before Simon’s arrival, he had positioned it away from the mirror. He didn’t want to watch this.
“If you don’t want this, let me know now.” The buzz of the clippers was far too loud, in Alec’s opinion.
“Just do it.”
Alec felt the first swipe of the blade on the back of his head, and tears sprang to his eyes. It was just hair, it would grow back, but it felt like so much more. People would know now when they looked at him that he was sick. They would stare at him, and thanked God that it wasn’t them that was going through that. Alec used to be like that too. Prayers could only do so much for a person though.
Simon seemed to notice Alec’s silent struggle and quietly said, “It’s okay to cry. I won’t tell anyone.” With that Alec let the tears fall, grabbing onto Simon’s hand for support while he cut his hair. No matter how tightly he held on Simon never complained, and he never let go.
Simon finished quickly, and then handed Alec a handheld mirror. With a small smile, he said “You still look like you.”
Looking into the mirror, Simon was only partly right. His eyes were swollen and red from crying, his cheeks pasty. However, not having any hair didn’t feel as strange as he thought it would. There was still the barest hint of fuzz on his scalp, the chemo would take care of the rest of it. He didn’t look sick though, he just looked...different. Vaguely he wondered what his family would think. Jace might make some crude joke, and Izzy would dramatically claim it didn’t suit him. Magnus might… oh shit. Mangus. The shock of this might send Magnus spiralling into a state of frenzy the likes of this world has never seen. For some reason, that made Alec crack a smile. Then laughter poured out of him, he doubled over, and held his stomach. Looking up he saw Simon laughing too.
“I look ridiculous!”
“Hey! I think I did a pretty decent job. Maybe if this counseling thing doesn’t work out I might take a shot at being a barber.”
“You could call this the ‘Cancer Cut’”
“The ‘Chemo Coiffure’” Alec started to double over again, he couldn’t remember the last time he had laughed this hard. He reached over a patted Simon’s shoulder.
“You’re alright, I guess.” Alec wouldn’t admit that today Simon had placed himself into a near and dear part of his heart.
Magnus was practically vibrating with anticipation, he had been floating all day through his meetings. He couldn’t wait to see Alec, and it had only been four and a half hours. Unfortunately, he had important things to do today, and his daydreams of Alec were distracting. Meeting up with the event planner at Gotham Hall took up a good portion of his day, and then he had to meet up with Vera Wang to discuss a custom gown that wasn’t sitting well with his client. Personally, Magnus thought the gown to be stunning, but the bride wanted it to be more of a Cinderella ball gown. She was going to look ridiculous, but far be it from Magnus to tell her that.
Finally, it was time for his lunch hour. He usually worked through his lunches, but for Alec an exception would always be made. They had made plans earlier to meet up at a French bistro near Magnus’s office, and Magnus practically jogged there in his eagerness to see Alec. They didn’t do lunch dates often, both of them always so busy to set aside the time.
He made it to the bistro a few minutes late, but he knew Alec would forgive him. Looking around he couldn’t make out Alec’s dark hair and broad shoulders. Was he running late as well? He was about to call him when he heard his name being called. In the back corner he saw Alec in a thick sweater and stocking cap. An unusual choice in attire for Alec, he was never one to wear hats. However, with his chemo he had been feeling far more chilly than usual. The air had a bite to it being that it was early fall, Magnus guessed he was just a little bit more cold. It was one secret blessing, Magnus thought privately, he adored the way Alec cuddled close to him at night, trying to keep himself warm with Magnus’s body heat.
He made his way over to Alec and kissed him before sitting down. “Hello, darling. Seeing you is the highlight of my day.”
Alec grinned, “I’m glad I could make your day better.”
Magnus smiled back and then looked down at their menu, trying to decide between blackened chicken or the roasted duck. Alec cleared his throat, catching Magnus’s attention. Looking up, he saw Alec try to say something, but then backed down. Alarm bells went off in his head. He knew Alec didn’t have any doctor appointments today, and he wasn’t aware of any additional tests or scans they had done.
“Darling? What happened?”
“So, I did something today. But I don’t want you to freak out.”
I’m going to freak out. Did Alec even know him? “I can’t promise that.”
Alec rolled his eyes, “It’s not a big deal.”
“Why don’t you let me decide.” It was a clear warning and they both knew it.
They were interrupted by the waitress, as she prattled on about the specials Magnus watched Alec, silently telling him this conversation was far from over. To get her to go away quickly he ordered two waters for the both of them and the first thing he saw on the menu. Alec just ordered a salad. As if sensing she was unwanted she scurried away.
Turning back to Alec he saw him reach for his cap, Magnus knew immediately what was happening. He couldn’t stop the small “ Oh.” that left his lips. That dark, thick hair that Magnus loved was gone. It was a strange sight to see, his Alec with no hair. He was still ungodly handsome, nothing could change that, but it was strange.
“When I was in the shower it started to fall off in clumps, so I decided to just take it all off. Is this okay?” Magnus realized with a dull sense of shock that Alec was insecure. He knew that Alec had insecurities, but not about his appearance. If Magnus took out all of the mirrors in their home Alec probably wouldn’t know. Seeing Alec brace himself as if for disdain made him ache. Alec could never be unattractive to him, even if he tried.
“Of course it’s okay, darling. We knew that you wouldn’t keep your hair, and honestly this might be a good thing. We can save money on shampoo now.”
Alec snorted, “Just leaves more money for your hair products.”
Magnus nodded stoically, “I appreciate your sacrifice.” Alec cracked a grin, then reached over to hold his hand.
“I look weird.”
“Oh, hush. There isn’t much you can do to diminish your handsomeness, you might have to resign yourself to the fact that you are hopelessly beautiful. Poor thing.”
Alec rolled his eyes and threw a breadstick at his face, “Suck up.”
“Sucking, you say? I do know quite a bit about that.”
Alec’s face turned a glorious shade of scarlet, and tried to ignore him by staring down at the tablecloth. Taking pity on Alec, he settled down.
“I mean it, you are still beautiful. It will take some getting used to, but I think I can appreciate the view with no effort.”
The shy grin that lit up Alec’s face was a sight to see, and once again Magnus marveled at the fact that this man was his. It didn’t seem real, he was too perfect. What Magnus did to deserve his place by Alec, he would never know. He wouldn’t ever question it though, he didn’t want karma to get any ideas about coming in between them. She had already done a doozy of a job trying. Magnus knew better though, he was made for Alec, and there would never be another for him.
If Alec left, he would just have to take Magnus with him.
I decided to not make this chapter so sad.
However, I am in the mood to read sad things, so if anyone has any good angsty stories I would love to hear them!
Thank you for your continued support!
Just to warn you, Alexander no longer has hair. He is very sensitive about this so please act natural the next time you see him.
Maryse had been staring at the text from Magnus for several minutes, debating on what to reply with, or if she even should. He had sent it in a group chat with Izzy and Jace, and there had been no answer from either of them yet. She settled on a simple ‘Thank you.’ and put her phone away. Turning back to her case file she was surprised to find that the words were blurred, the tears pooling in her eyes obstructing her view.
Alec not having hair did not matter much to her, nor did she imagine Alec cared much about how he looked. It wasn’t vanity that upset her, it was the tangible proof that her son was sick. For a while she was able to look at him and pretend that she would watch her son grow older, become a husband to his Magnus, and perhaps one day become a father. She no longer had that luxury, but in a twisted way she did not wish for luxury. She wished to suffer alongside her son, to suffer more if possible. To take his pain and absorb it within herself, to spare him.
A martyr and a mother live very similar lives.
“Ms Trueblood, there is a man here saying he has an appointment with you but I don’t see him on your schedule.” She heard Geoffrey say over the intercom on her desk. Maryse frowned, had she forgotten to write someone down? She grabbed her schedule and looked it over, but she could not recall a meeting.
She reached over and pressed the button, “Who is it?”
“Dr. Lucian Garroway.”
Luke? What did that bastard even want? Maryse scowled at the intercom, as if glaring hard enough could make Luke feel her wrath and leave.
“He must be mistaken. I know of no one by that name.”
Maryse sat back in her chair and crossed her arms, that might have been underhanded but she did not feel strong enough yet to face him.
“Hey! You can’t go in there!” The door to her office flew open and Luke stalked in, Geoffrey close behind.
“Maryse just listen to me for ten minutes and I swear I will never bother you again.” His gaze was intent, and for a moment it made her feel like that young woman who had felt butterflies when he walked into the room.
“I’m calling security.” Maryse had to respect the weakling, perhaps one day he would grow a spine and become a wonderful lawyer.
“Geoffrey, wait. Dr. Garroway may stay, and if he does not leave in ten minutes, go ahead and call security. For now though, please close the door behind you.” Geoffrey looked at her dubiously but nodded, closing the door on his way out.
Luke sat down in the chair in front of her desk, where several clients had sat before, pleading their case and begging for her to help them clear their names in front of a jury and judge. This felt no different.
“You have nine minutes and thirty seconds. Make this quick.”
“Are you honestly timing me, Mar?” The nickname made her bristle.
She glared, “Nine minutes and twenty seconds.”
“Look, I’m sorry. For it all. For what happened decades ago and for what happened months ago. You know that I would never purposely hurt you or your son. I swear I am doing everything I can for him. I have been sending his file all across the country, trying to find a surgeon who will operate on him. I really think it can be removed, but it’s going to need a very skilled surgeon with steady hands, and a shitload of waivers that they won’t be sued if they can’t do it successfully. I’ve been monitoring Alec’s case closely, and he seems to be responding well to the chemotherapy, and I really think that if we can slow the growth or even shrink it, he could be approved for surgery. You know how hospitals cover their ass, and right now he is a high risk patient, but we might be able to slip him through.”
Maryse looked out the window, trying hard not to be swayed by his handsome face and kind eyes. This was all good news, but it was a lot of if and maybe. She needed certainty, something to depend on.
“Isn’t it illegal for you to share this information with me? HIPAA and all that. I’m sure Alec can stir up quite the fuss if he found out you were here.”
“Yes. I could get in a lot of trouble for being here. Could probably even lose my job.”
“Then why even tell me this?”
Luke sighed, “I don’t even know. This is personal now.”
Maryse looked back at him, his hands were clasped loosely together in front of him, elbows leaning on his knees, and he was staring at the photos on her desk. Specifically the one of Alec, relaxed on the floor while reading. It must be odd, to see what patients were like when they weren’t fighting for their life.
Giving him a little piece of herself wouldn’t hurt now, would it? She had already lost so much, she doubted she had much of herself to lose.
“He was seventeen in that picture. There was a party happening that night, and Izzy and Jace had tried to convince him to go with them, but he was never one to go out much. So him and I ordered a pizza and read our favorite passages from books we were reading. It was the most fun we had together in a long time. I was just starting out as partner here and I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with them.” Maryse frowned, “I regret that now.”
Luke smiled her, “I’m sure you were there for them in all the ways that were important. Alec is a wonderful man, and though I haven’t met your other children, I know they must be special too.”
It was too personal now, he looked at her with warm familiarity. She couldn’t remember the last time he looked at her with glowing adoration, but she could remember the last time he looked down on her with pity and rejection. The night they broke up she had snuck into his house, determined to find out why he had been ignoring her for the last several days.
Maryse stood beneath the large sycamore tree outside Luke’s house, it sat right near the hallway window, she knew from experience it was approximately ten steps to the right and she would be in Luke’s bedroom. She had made the climb to his room several times before, and sneaking out early the next morning, but she stood frozen at the bottom of this tree, afraid to confront Luke. She could see the writing on the wall, knew that he was pulling away from her, something he had never done before.
Luke was the one to pursue her, the one to make her fall in love with him. They bonded over music bands and novels. Shared secrets over milkshakes at the diner and kisses at the drive in movie theater. He hated extra butter on his popcorn but always made sure the kernels were glistening in it to make her happy. He would sit on the couch and listen attentively as she ranted over debutantes and their stuffy mothers. He would hold her tightly when she felt crushed under the pressure from her parents, and made her feel like he would always love her as she was, not as what she could be.
Now her phone calls would go unanswered, and she was turned away at the door by their maid. By god, she would not be left like this! If he was going to leave her he would have to be man enough to look her in her eyes and let her down. She would no longer tolerate being loved by half measures, and being praised with conditions attached. Her fury settled under her skin, finding shelter in her tissue. She embraced the warmth of it, using it as her armor.
Taking a deep breath she began to climb, the bark rough and painful underneath her palms. She pushed herself onto the branch near the window and reached for the handle and quietly lifted it open. She was grateful the window wasn’t locked, and surprised that Luke hadn’t thought of her breaking into his house to speak with him. She giggled softly and wondered how her sanity had snapped like this for breaking and entering to be a normal occurrence for her.
As she walked down the hallway she could see light peeking out under the door to Luke’s room. She lightly knocked on his door and waited, reaching for the anger she felt earlier to save her. She was beginning to lose her courage. Luke opened the door, “Cleo, I said I’m fi-” he stopped as he saw it was his forgotten girlfriend instead of his sister. “Mar? What the hell are you doing here?” Looking out into the hallway to make sure she hadn’t been caught he pulled her into his room and shut the door.
“No, what the hell do you think you’re doing ignoring me like this?” She crossed her arms and stepped away from him.
“Look, I just need some time to think. Is that so wrong? If you haven’t noticed my parents hate your family right now.”
“I don’t care about that. I’m not dating your parents, I’m dating you.”
The cruel silence that followed told her that might not be the case.
He sighed and lifted his hands to rub his temples, as if fighting off a headache. Was she a pain to him now?
“We have to think this through, I don’t want my family to ruin your reputation just because of our relationship.”
“If you haven’t noticed my parents did a fine enough job doing that on their own, I doubt they need your parents to help with that.”
“Exactly! You are already looked down on just because of your name now, I can’t have my family fanning the flames.”
He wasn’t making any sense. “How would us breaking up fix anything? It would just prove to everyone that they’re right.”
He paced the length of his room trying to hold his temper, “Maryse, I can’t save you from this.”
“I don’t need to be saved!”
“Then what will happen? Hm? Have you thought about that at all? Your name is ruined! Are you going to marry someone wealthy to keep your family above water? That can’t be me, my family would cut me off completely. I would have nothing to offer for you.”
“I don’t need your fucking money! Have you ever thought about us just running away? We can make our own life, and eventually this will all pass. Some other big name family will fuck up and then no one will even pay attention to us.”
Luke was already shaking his head before she even finished, “The people here don’t forget, and they certainly do not forgive. The higher you are the harder you fall, and they will laugh the whole time as you hit the ground.”
“That’s why we will run away from here. I can transfer schools. Maybe go to UCLA or hell maybe even a community college! I don’t care where I am as long as I’m with you.” She reached for him and held his hands, trying to catch his eye. “Luke, can you honestly say you want to follow in your family’s footsteps? You complain all the time about your father and his plans for you. This is the perfect time to just leave it all behind.”
Luke bit his lip as he thought about it, “You don’t know how tempting that is, but where would we live? What about our future careers? What about our family? I don’t want to abandon them.”
“We can cross that bridge when we get there.”
He laughed harshly, “You always were the rebel, weren’t you?” He looked down at his feet, and shook his head. His shoulders started to shake and his hands were trembling in hers.
“Luke?” She whispered.
“Maryse, I can’t. I can’t let them bring you down because of me.” He cried.
If he would have slapped her it would have been less shocking. This wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
“You promised me.”
That was that. He wouldn’t bend for her and he refused to let her break for him. He was lost to her. The rage had cooled, leaving her defenseless and weak.
“Lucian, please, don’t do this.”
“Please don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
He walked to his door and opened it, leaving his words unspoken but vibrantly clear.
She followed him, feeling shaken and hurt. He was no longer hers. She looked at him again, trying to memorize every detail of his face. He wouldn’t even look her in the eye.
“You’re a coward, Lucian Garroway.”
Now years later he sat across from her. Begging for her to listen to him as if she owed a second of her time to him. Was it juvenile to still be crushed over her first heartbreak? Maybe. She couldn’t help how she felt though, and she had promised herself long ago that she would open herself up to every emotion. Even if she never let them know. People thought of her to be heartless and indifferent. It wasn’t that she felt nothing, she just decided to never let her emotions be used against her. Robert was like that. Blaming her for the affair as if she was the problem in their marriage. Using her insecurities to justify why he was falling out of love with her, why he might not have ever been in love with her.
She had moved on though, had persevered, and had tried to instill those qualities in her children. She didn’t need a great love in her life, as long as she had a home and children to care for she would never grow cold.
Luke was still staring at her, letting her come to him. A tactic he had perfected once before. That may have worked when she was a child, but she was different now.
She took a deep breath and looked at her watch. “Well you have six minutes left, but if that’s all you needed to say I think we can wrap this impromptu meeting up and go our separate ways.”
“Actually, if I still have six minutes left-”
“Five minutes and forty seconds.”
He glared, “If I still have time left, maybe we can talk a little bit more. I’m surprised to see you are going by your maiden name, I would have thought you would still be a Lightwood. I looked into Robert after we last spoke, and I heard rumors of an affair. Is that why you changed your name again?”
“Wow, is this how you talk to strangers now? ‘Nice to meet you, how did that failed marriage treat you?’”
“We are far from strangers.”
“We might as well be. I learned long ago that my name means little to those who matter. Whether I am Trueblood or I am a Lightwood I am still my own, and I am proud of what I have accomplished. I didn’t need you to do that either, so if this is some last ditch effort in redemption or forgiveness you can go fuck yourself.” She spit out at him.
What looked like pride shined in his eyes, and it was almost like before again.
He smiled softly, “I’m proud of you too, Mar.”
He had completely disarmed her once again, leaving her weightless under his gaze. He got up from his chair, “Look at that, right on time. I’ll see you around.”
Then he left. Again. Though it was completely irrational, and highly inappropriate, she was sad to see him go.
Hello there again! I have had writer's block for a while now, but I have my second wind and I am ready to get this rolling again.
Let me know what you think!
Chapter 19: QUESTIONS
Hey! So this isn't really an update about anything, I was mostly just asking for opinions you would like to share. I'm finding myself getting stuck, I have it in my head where I'd like to go but it's the stuff in between I am finding trouble with. Is there anything you would like to read more of? Any relationships you'd like to get more in depth with? Or any suggestions on how you think I can improve?
This might seem silly but I would love to hear from you!
Thank you to everyone who has been reading! This is the first time I've really set out to do this so it means so much to me to get such positive feedback!