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Not By Choice

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JUNE 16,2017

Alexander Lightwood-Bane was walking along the streets of Brooklyn, headed towards the Hunter's Moon in search of his daughter and friend. 

A lot had changed in the past few months, Max was a year old now and walking. He could say Dada and Papa and Magnus and Alec absolutely adored the little boy. 

Raphael and Simon were officially official and Simon had given up the extra room he had been using and had moved into Raphael's room. Alec had never seen his son so happy and had resigned himself to the fact that he would most likely eventually have to welcome Simon into the family as his son-in-law. 

Clary and Wesley were as good as ever, if not better. Alec was grateful that his old friend made his daughter so happy and Magnus had recently been saying that he was expecting Wesley to come to them sooner rather than later asking them for Clary's hand. It made Alec shudder every time, not because he didn't want Wesley and Clary to get married, but because he would have to admit that his daughter was a grown up.

Madzie had officially come out of her shell and had no problems telling Alec and Magnus exactly what she wanted. She was bold, colorful and absolutely perfect. She had recently tried saying the 'sophisticated' after hearing Raphael speaking to Simon and Clary and it was her new favorite word, despite the fact that she couldn't say it correctly.

Azazel and Alec had grown very close over the past couple of months and they were truly father and son, now. They spent time together, Azazel was trusted with their children from time to time and even got along with the other inhabitants of the household. 

Magnus was as perfect as ever, finally having calmed down after the drama that was their first four months of being together, they were very comfortable in their relationship and in parenthood and were still in their honeymoon phase seven months into their marriage. 

All-in-all, Alec's life had been amazing recently, if you didn't count the war. 

The Downworlders had declared war on the Clave and America had sided them, Lydia offering her full support to Alec. They have slowly been taking down Institutes all over the world, most of them surrendering peacefully, but the Buenos Aires Institute had not. His Parabatai - which he had become three months prior, a month after Alec had gotten his runes back - Jem Carstairs, had been assigned to take the Institute there down but had run into some difficulties, he and his wife, Tessa Gray, needed back up. 

Alec had immediately said that he would be on his way, kissed his husband and three of his children goodbye, much to Max's disappointment. Max had been very upset when he had realized that Alec was leaving, the little, blue, fourteen month old had screamed and flailed and hit Alec in the face with his little fists. Magnus had distracted and restrained the child, giving Alec a way out. 

Alec had left the house, out the front door and was going to make a portal towards the end of the driveway when he heard tapping on the front windows of the house. Alec turned to see his husband crouched behind their one-year-old who was staring out the window at him forlornly. His tiny hands were pressed against the glass and he let his forehead fall forward to press against it as well. Alec had smiled at his son and he blew a kiss to the both of them before portaling out to Brooklyn, heading to the Hunter's Moon to crash girl's night. 

He slipped into the bar and spotted the group of girls in the back corner near the pool table. Clary, Catarina, Isabelle, Lily, Maia, Lydia, Helen and Aline were laughing loudly with drinks in hand. He paused for a moment in the doorway and watched with a warm smile as his daughter grinned widely and laughed, head thrown back, eyes screwed shut, hand placed on her stomach as her shoulders shook with the force of her laughter. It always delighted him to see any of his children so happy and at ease. 

He shook himself slightly and made his way towards their table, he dodged several drunk and grabby people before he finally broke through the slight crowd and Lydia looked up and spotted him. She grinned widely and cheered, arms raised in the air.

"Alec!" She squealed, making not only the entire table, but most of the bar turn to look at who she was greeting. 

Alec smiled awkwardly, it most likely appeared to be a grimace as he still did not like attention being drawn to him. He waved at Lydia a little sarcastically and sauntered up to the table. "Hey, girls." He greeted, eyes sweeping across the table to look at each one of them. "Mind if I steal Clary and Lily for a moment?" 

He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket and relaxed his stance as he returned the smile that his daughter immediately directed up towards him. Lily rolled her eyes and climbed across her friends before fisting Alec's jacket in her hands to pull herself completely out of the booth. 

Alec steadied the vampire and then helped Clary stand from seat in the booth. "C'mon." Alec murmured, leading the two girls out of the bar and a few feet away from the door.

"Clary," Alec sighed, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I'm going away for a few days, Jem needs my help finishing the job in Buenos Aires. I came to say goodbye."

"A few days?" Clary blinked.

Alec nodded and pulled her into his arms. "I'll come back as soon as I possibly can." He said into her ear. "I promise you."

He pulled back and kissed her on the forehead. "Love you, Clare Bear." He murmured, pulling back to look her in the eyes. He marveled, not for the first time at how much she looked like him and Magnus and tried not to get lost in the thoughts that always surfaced when he allowed himself to look at Clary for too long. 

Alec had always believed that he could never have what he wanted. A husband, children of his own, but right here in front of him was a child of his own flesh and blood. His beautiful daughter made of him and Magnus, his husband. 

He studied her features on more than one occasion, looking for what she got from him; His nose, his lips, his curls, the dark color of her hair that came from both him and Magnus. And then he would look for what she got from his husband; the color of his skin, the color of his eyes, his face shape. Clary was the best of the both of them and Alec thought himself so lucky to have her, Magnus and the rest of their children.

"Love you too, Dad." Clary replied, gripping his forearm before letting go.

Alec turned to Lily. "Wanna go to Buenos Aires and see Jem?" He asked. "We thought you might be helpful with the Downworlders there."

Lily lit up like a Christmas tree. "Do I want to come with you on a bro-road-trip and rush to the aid of the gorgeous Jem-I'd-love-to-climb-'em-Carstairs?"

Alec opened his mouth to reply before sighing. "I'm going to take that as a yes."

"Duh." Lily laughed. 

"Jem's married, you know?" Alec asked as he gave Clary one last hug and sent her back inside the bar. 

Lily rolled her eyes but otherwise ignored him. Alec waved a hand and a portal appeared in front of them, swirling purple and distorting the air around it. Alec took Lily's hand and pulled her into it. 

They came out into the dark, it was quiet and there was nobody around. In a war you might have expected screaming and fires and all-around chaos, but it everything was just still. 

Lily shuddered and pulled her jacket tighter around her. While it was in the eighties in New York, it had to be in the low sixties here in Buenos Aires. Alec looked around and sighed, he didn't see Jem anywhere nearby, but he felt that his Parabatai was alright, if a little on edge. Deciding that finding Jem and Tessa was first priority, Alec nodded to Lily and led her towards the Institute. They were almost at the door when they heard shouting from behind them. 

"Alec!" Jem yelled. "Alec! Don't go in there!"

Alec squinted to see two figures running towards Lily and himself where they stood halfway up the stairs leading to the Institute. He could tell that the one nearest them was Jem and Tessa was following a few steps behind her husband.

Alec and Lily began to descend the steps and move towards the couple, Jem and Tessa slowed down as they noticed that their friends were listening to their pleas. Alec made it to the bottom of the stairs just as Jem reached them. He flew into Alec's arms and hugged him tightly, panting into the younger Warlock's ear as he caught his breath. 

"I'm so glad you are here." Jem told him as he pulled back and smiled at Lily. "Thank you for coming."

"What's the big problem that you couldn't tell me about over the phone?" Alec asked as Tessa came over and hugged him tightly as well. 

"We can't get into the Shadow Market." Jem sighed. "We need to get in there if we have any hope of taking over the Institute here, but they won't let anyone in except for you. They didn't even care that I'm your Parabatai. They want you."

Alec was stunned to say the least. He furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head in confusion. "Me?"

"You are the face of this revolution, Alec." Tessa told him. "It's not surprising that these people only trust you." 

Alec sighed and ran a hand over his face. "So," He said, placing his hands on his hips. "Where's the Shadow Market?"

--------------------------------------------------------------

The group of four arrived outside the Buenos Aires Shadow Market and Alec was taken aback by the appearance of it, barbed wire was hung on every plank and the wood and snarled loops of barbed wire made an impenetrable stretch of silver. There was a large, prison-like door in front of them and Alec spotted a werewolf's eyes shining behind the grille. 

"No Shadowhunters!" The werewolf snapped in Spanish.

Alec frowned and turned to look at the long line of Downworlders behind them, looking at him and Jem judgmentally.  

"I'm a Warlock, too." Alec told the man in Spanish. "My name is Alexander Lightwood-Bane. I hear I'm allowed in." 

"You could be lying." The werewolf replied. "Typical for Nephilim. Can you prove you are Alec Lightwood-Bane?"

Alec nodded sharply, holding his left hand up, his silver wedding band gleaming in the light of the moon.

The werewolf's eyes narrowed and he disappeared from the grille before another set of eyes took his place. She looked intently at the wedding band and murmured to him.

"The magic in your ring is strong." She told him. "Too strong, it comes from the very heart of hell."

Alec already knew that. Magnus had enchanted his ring with spell after spell right before their wedding, magic for protection, deflection, magic that guided his weapons, all the power that Magnus could possibly pour into his ring that could protect his husband, Magnus had done it. Everything that could act as Alec's armor and ensure that Alec would return home safe, to Magnus, to their children.

Alec nodded again. "I know where that power came from." He raised his voice so that everyone could hear. "My husband, Magnus Lightwood-Bane wove this enchantment for me."

To Alec's surprise, the gate opened and he and his friends were allowed entry. The werewolf guard led them through a tunnel that split in two, bowed to Alec which made him sputter and promptly left.

Lily cackled. "Did he just bow to you?" She asked incredulously. She then rounded him to stand in his line of sight and curtsied. "I didn't realise I was in the presence of royalty. Your Royal Highness Lightwood-Bane."

Alec scoffed and waved the vampire off. "Please don't."

Jem chuckled lightly and Tessa patted Alec's back. "Why don't we take a quick look around the market and ask some questions?" Tessa suggested.

"Sounds great." Alec quickly agreed, pulling his phone out of his pocket when it vibrated. 

MAGNUS 11:46 P.M.

Did you make it there safe?

ALEC 11:47 P.M.

Yes. Lily and I are with Jem and Tessa.

MAGNUS 11:49 P.M.

Please stay safe, darling. Text me every hour, I need to know that you're okay. 

ALEC 11:49 P.M.

I promise. I love you.

MAGNUS 11:49 P.M.

I love you too, my sweet love. Just make sure you come home to me.

ALEC 11:50 P.M.

Always.

"Let's drop by the faerie fruit gin stall!" Lily suggested, taking Alec by the arm and tugging him towards the stall in question.

"No." Alec said, tugging her to a stop as Jem and Tessa followed them silently.

"What would it hurt to have a little fun?" Lily asked. "Come on! We are on a bro-road-trip! Let's share some secrets. Who do you think is hot?"

"Lily." Alec rolled his eyes and asked a faerie selling bracelets about the Institute; she ran away. He sighed and looked back over his shoulder at Jem and Tessa before turning back to Lily. "Magnus is hot."

"Right." Lily said, disappointed at the lack of  juicy gossip. "Monogamous Bane." 

Alec went to defend his husband's honor when they noticed a lot of noise happening behind a nearby stall. Alec turned his head towards it, momentarily forgetting about what Lily had said. The orphans of the Buenos Aires exploded from behind one of the food stalls. There were kids everywhere, and Alec smiled softly as Downworld children of every kind all tried to get his attention. They were shouting out their names, arms raised in the air in the silent request to be held. 

Alec started emptying his pockets, wallet and backpack. Giving the children food, water, and money. Magnus had cast a spell on his wallet, making money constantly appear in there just in case of emergency. 

"I think that kid said his name is Raphael." Lily muttered in Alec's ear. Alec's eyes looked to the child that Lily was pointing at. 

While most of the children were all pressed up against each other, pushing the others out of the way to get a stranger's attention, the little boy Lily had pointed out had a large circle of space around him, like no one wanted to be near him. He had his head tilted back, looking up at Alec who towered over the tiny boy, his dark eyes were narrowed as he studied the man with a judgmental air about him.

Alec watched as Lily made her way through the crowd towards the boy and crouched down in front of him. She spoke to him for a few moments and Alec watched his eyebrows raise in surprised delight as she presumably spoke Spanish to him.

Lily soon turned and waved Alec over. He weaved his way through the crowd before he crouched down next to Lily, in front of the little boy.

"Alec," Lily said in Spanish. "This is Rafael, Rafael this is Alec."

Alec grinned. "Hello, Rafael."

"Are you a Shadowhunter?" The boy asked, eyes fixated on Alec's deflect rune that curved under his jaw. "Not like the ones at the Institute. A real Shadowhunter."

Alec nodded. "Yes, I am a Shadowhunter." He then held up his hand and let some magic flow between his fingers. "And a warlock."

Rafael's eyes lit up and he reached for Alec's hand. Alec moved his hand to be palm up and let Rafael prod the magic swirling there. 

"So pretty." Rafael wondered, tilting his head this way and that, examining the magic with complete and utter fascination. 

Alec smiled gently and sent some wisps of it up to tickle the boy's face before closing his hand into a fist.

"Rafael is five years old, has been living on the streets for two years, and is a Shadowhunter." Lily whispered to Alec in English. "He said that the werewolf woman that fed him sometimes, disappeared. He's all by himself."

Alec nodded. He knew instantly what he wanted to do. He and Magnus had been speaking at length about adopting another child, although they had been talking about a baby, Alec thought Rafael would be a perfect addition to their family. Of course, he would have to speak to his husband. For now, however, he wouldn't leave the child alone on the streets. He looked down at the boy's bare feet. 

"He needs shoes," Alec flicked his wrist and a pair of bright green sneakers appeared in his hand. He helped Rafael sit on his lap and then slipped the shoes on his dirty feet. Rafael kicked his feet lightly after Alec had tied the laces before looking up over his shoulder at the man that was holding him. His expression was blank but Alec liked to think that the boy looked pleased. 

Alec smiled at him and Rafael just looked back at him with the same blank expression. He nudged the boy off of his lap and stood up, Lily taking the cue to do the same and when Alec turned back to Rafael, the boy was already staring up at him like he was waiting for attention. As soon as Rafael had Alec's attention he lifted his arms in a familiar commanding gesture that had Alec scooping the boy into his arms before he could think twice about it. 

However familiar the gesture was, carrying this child was nothing like carrying either of Alec's young children. Whereas Madzie and Max had some meat on their bones, usually happy to be carried by their father, cuddling and leaning into his arms and chest, Rafael was thin and held himself stiffly and slightly away from Alec. 

"Carrying you mean the shoes were pointless." Alec told him. "But it's alright. You're safe now. I've got you." 

Rafael made eye contact with him. "Idiot." Rafael's small voice was clear in his ear. 

Alec frowned. He couldn't really tell whether or not the kid liked him. But at least he was safe now. Alec would make sure of that.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and looked down at the time before opening up his messages.

ALEC 1:03 A.M.

I love you

MAGNUS 1:05 A.M.

I love you, too, sayang.