@magnusbae HELLO! i have returned
mind & heart, body & soul - chapter 14
We’re worth it. The words repeat over and over in Alec’s head. Magnus’s sentiment stuns him. He could never have imagined Magnus would feel that way about him, about them, that all of the struggle and pain surrounding the circumstances of their marriage could actually be worth something, something more than political leverage or even friendship.
Alec can’t help but kiss him again, pulling Magnus down to meet his lips. This time, he really tries to focus on it, letting something other than panic and loss consume him. Magnus’s lips are soft, and taste just slightly of ash, and his body is strong and warm when Alec lets his hands drift down to his hips to pull him closer. Magnus hums against his mouth, fingers running through Alec’s hair.
It’s radiant, kissing him. Like being filled up with the sun.
Or maybe that’s just Magnus’s presence within him, the bond flooding him with warmth and satisfaction.
Magnus pulls away and rests his forehead against Alec’s. “We should probably, ah—” he has to pause to gather his thoughts— “get up off the floor.”
Alec pushes himself upright, carrying Magnus with him. Magnus stumbles to his feet and sits again on the edge of the bed, limbs trembling. Alec doesn’t know if he’s just tired from all the magic he used today or if he feels as shocked and overwhelmed as Alec does. He presses a warm, grounding hand to Alec’s collarbone.
“You know,” Magnus says, voice hushed, “I really enjoyed having you in my bed last night.”
“Is that your way of saying you don’t want me to leave?”
Magnus looks away, as if caught in a joke that came out more serious than he meant it.
“You really think I would just leave?” Alec asks.
“Well,” Magnus says, “there are Institutes to put in order, evil prisoners to interrogate, and so forth.”
Alec takes his hand and kisses it. “There are husbands to take care of, too.”
“More than one?” Magnus asks, and there’s a small twinkle back in his eye now. “How deceptive, Alexander.”
Alec really wants to kiss him again, but more than that he wants to get Magnus properly into bed. He stands up and shoves off his boots and pants, both of which are absolutely disastrous from the fight.
“Getting right to it, eh?” Magnus asks, gaze sparkling, and Alec steps forward, now only in his boxers, and kisses him.
“Shut up,” he murmurs against Magnus’s mouth. “Are you going to take your damn shoes off and get in bed now, or what?”
“Bossy,” Magnus says, but he does lean down to pull off his shoes, and his singed pants. He tugs at the edge of the sweater. “I’m keeping this.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that just belongs to you now.”
Magnus smiles, and climbs back up on the bed, pulling down the covers. Alec follows him, and it feels strange, and different, and momentous, to be actually under the covers in Magnus’s bed, a sharp contrast to their drunken sprawl the other night. It feels like change, like meaning.
“Your bed is comfortable,” he says, because he’s an idiot, as he gets situated on his side, looking across the sheets at Magnus.
Magnus just smiles and takes one of Alec’s hands, draping it over his own waist. “You’re comfortable.”
Alec takes that as a cue to tug him closer. He still feels a little hesitant about being in Magnus’s space, still feels like it’s not quite something they were meant to have, but Magnus just hums as Alec pulls him to his chest, hugging him tight. He’s solid and warm and Alec’s reminded viscerally of what almost happened at the Institute mere hours ago.
Alec thinks seeing Magnus’s vibrant, passionate self reduced to ash might just have destroyed him.
“Next time I tell you not to come to the Institute,” he whispers into Magnus’s hair, “please listen.”
Magnus must have been thinking along the same lines, because he doesn’t have to ask what Alec’s talking about. “No promises. I did take your note under advisement, though.”
“Magnus, if something happened to you—”
“I know, I know. It would cause a lot of trouble that we don’t want to have to—”
“No!” Alec’s tone is so sharp that Magnus pushes himself up onto his elbows to look at him. “I mean, yeah, it would, but I wasn’t talking about that. I feel like I just—” he runs a hand through Magnus’s hair— “like I just got you. For real. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you now. When you weren’t answering your phone, I— I couldn’t even think.”
Magnus smiles sadly and rests a hand on his chest. “Immortal, all-powerful Warlock, remember? You aren’t going to lose me. I’m right here.”
Alec pulls him down to kiss him again, tugging on Magnus’s hair. After the day they’ve had, he almost wants to pull Magnus into himself instead, wants to pull him close enough to protect him from the Circle and the Clave and suspicious Downworlders and Alec’s own family, anyone who might do him harm. But he’s sure that, come morning, Magnus will want to jump right back into work and dealing with Valentine.
That’s if the Clave lets the two of them anywhere near that situation, that is.
For now, he just tries to ignore it, and kisses Magnus, and when they pull apart, he says, “You’d better be.”
The next day, Alec wonders if things will be different when they walk back into the Institute holding hands, if anyone will notice. It feels different. It feels like it should be different, like there’s been a fundamental change in the nature of reality. But everyone in Ops seems too busy dealing with yesterday to notice them.
Part of him feels like he shouldn’t be holding Magnus’s hand so openly. He doesn’t want to give the Clave any ammunition against them that it doesn’t already have. But after yesterday, he just can’t bear to let go of Magnus.
“Are you certain I should be here?” Magnus asks quietly as they walk through the building, looking for Maryse. “I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
“If the Clave really wants our people to work together on this, they need to act like it,” Alec says. “We saw yesterday what happens when they don’t. As far as I’m concerned, the Downworld should be involved in whatever happens with Valentine. And besides, you’re the one who stopped him.”
“I don’t disagree,” Magnus says, “I only fear burning the one bridge you still—”
“Alec!” Maryse storms around the corner. She glances briefly at Magnus, as if wondering why he’s there, then back to Alec. “Where have you been?”
“I’m not sure if you noticed,” Alec says, “but Magnus stopped the Soul Sword from going off. So he was kind of my priority yesterday.”
Maryse crosses her arms. “Well, you were needed here. We have Valentine and several of his accomplices in custody.”
“Then lets go deal with him, instead of standing here arguing.”
Maryse grits her teeth, glancing again at Magnus. “Downworlders aren’t allowed in Clave interrogations.”
“I really don’t think you want to incense the Downworld any more on this issue.”
Maryse doesn’t response, just turns on her heel with a huff and walks away. Beside Alec, Magnus smirks.
They both follow Maryse down into the Institute’s basement. Magnus’s grip on Alec’s hand tightens as they descend, and Alec can feel the prickle of his nervousness in his chest. He doesn’t blame him. The bowels of the Institute are hostile to Downworlders at the best of times, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that Magnus nearly died in this building not twenty-four hours ago.
Alec squeezes his hand in reassurance. It means a lot that Magnus trusts him enough to even be here. Alec will fight their way out if he has to, to keep him safe, though he doesn’t think that’s what they’re in for today.
As they turn the corner into the cell block, Magnus’s grip grows tighter. Alec can feel his magic vibrating. He’s about to offer some vague verbal reassurance when Maryse stops abruptly in front of them.
“By the Angel…” she whispers.
Alec looks beyond her.
The farthest cell on the block, the one way down the hall, almost out of sight, is standing open. A Shadowhunter that Alec vaguely recognizes lies unconscious by the door. As Alec looks closer, he can see that the door’s not just open—the glass is cracked, the digital lock glowing green.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Magnus mutters.
“Um,” Alec says, “Mother?”
“Please, for the love of God, tell me you have the Soul Sword locked up somewhere else.”
They’ve reconvened in the Head’s office after collecting Jace and Izzy from Ops. Alec can feel Magnus’s anxiety ratcheting up higher and higher by the second, and they’re no closer to figuring out where Valentine’s gone or what to do next.
“Yes, of course,” Maryse snaps in response to Alec’s question. “It’s already been sent to Alicante.”
Alec’s not sure Alicante’s the safest place for it either, but at least it’s not here. The safest thing would probably be for the sword to be destroyed, but Alec’s not sure that’s actually possible.
“And do we have any leads on Valentine? I mean presumably he would go after it, right?” Jace asks.
“Before you go after him, I think you should take a close look at how Valentine even escaped in the first place,” Magnus says, arms crossed over his chest. “Institute cells are notoriously difficult to get out of. And then he walked out of the Institute without anyone stopping him or even getting picked up by the security cameras?”
“Just what are you implying, Warlock?” Maryse bites.
“I thought it was obvious,” Magnus says, gaze flat. “I think you should clean house, Maryse. Or this will only happen again.”
“The Institute can’t track down Valentine if it’s being torn apart from the inside.”
“Then get the Downworld to hunt him. I can assure you, they would love to help. You might even be able to get them to bring him in alive, if you ask very nicely.”
Maryse grits her teeth, and Alec briefly wonders if he’s going to have to stop her from trying to hit Magnus. Magnus usually isn’t so forthright with her, he normally lets Alec handle his own mother, but evidently this incident with the Soul Sword has pushed him past the edge of his patience.
“This is a Clave problem to handle,” Maryse says.
“And you’re doing a smashing job of handling it so far. I almost wonder if you even want Valentine stopped.”
Maryse almost growls, but Alec intervenes before she can say more. “Alright, enough. This is a waste of time. Mom, you should let the Downworld help with Valentine’s arrest. It affects them most, after all.”
“Alec’s right, mom,” Izzy says. “We have to handle this better than we already have.”
Maryse narrows her eyes, looking around amongst the four of them, and for a brief moment Alec thinks maybe they’ve swayed her. Then her gaze shutters.
“No,” she says, “and I better not see you out there”—this is directed at Alec—“you know what your job is.”
Then she turns on her heel and marches away.
Alec sighs, rubbing his forehead. Yeah, he thinks, just my job trying to hold a whole alliance together through a marriage you won’t do anything to support. Well, at least the marriage is going strong, even if the alliance isn’t.
With Maryse out of the room, some of the tension dissipates. Alec takes Magnus’s hand again and feels a tiny burst of happiness from him.
Izzy notices their clasped hands and smiles, though she doesn’t remark on it. “I’m sorry about her,” she says to Magnus. “We’ll see what we can find out about who in the Institute might be compromised. I imagine you’re going to tell the Downworld leaders about Valentine’s escape?”
Magnus nods. “If they haven’t heard already. News travels fast.”
“You should let them help chase him down, just make sure they don’t kill him,” Izzy says. “If they find him, call me and Jace and we’ll take him in as if we caught him. It’s not that I want to take credit from you, but—”
“The Clave won’t see it as credit, they’ll see it as interference. Yes, I understand.” Magnus scrubs a hand over his face. “I really thought— for a moment I thought we might finally be making progress. I thought our marriage might be a good sign. How naïve.”
“Hey.” Alec tugs on him until Magnus turns to look at him. “It’s not your fault for having hope. I still have hope in us, too. We’ll get there. We’ll make them see.”
Magnus smiles and runs a hand over Alec’s jaw. “Oh, I always have hope in you, Alexander.”
“Okay, if you two are gonna start making out, I’m going to leave and get some work done,” Jace says, but Alec can see that despite his ribbing he looks happy for them.
“You never get any work done, Jace,” Alec says.
Jace flips him off with a grin and bounces from the room, Izzy following with a wink thrown in Alec’s direction.
Alec watches them go. He’s honestly still a little worried about Jace, and how quickly he seems to have bounced back—or is pretending to have bounced back—from everything that went down with Valentine, but it’s not like any of them really have much time to dwell on it.
When they’re gone, he turns back to Magnus and kisses him, just because he can, because he’s allowed to do that now. He kisses him, and holds him close, and Magnus sinks into him.
“Kissing in the Head of the Institute’s office, Alexander?” Magnus teases when they pull apart. “How very scandalous.”
“I thought you liked a little scandal.”
“Oh, I do. It’s only a shame there aren’t any old Clave members here to give heart attacks to.”
Alec laughs. “Maybe next time.” He takes Magnus’s hand. “Come on. I think we have some work to do.”
“Work” ends up being a meeting with the local Downworld leaders to report on what they know about Valentine’s escape and the Soul Sword. It’s the first meeting of the sort that Alec’s been to, and the Downworlders honestly look a little uncomfortable to have him there, but Magnus had been insistent that they start trying to build real bridges where they can, since the Clave’s clearly not doing it. Perhaps it will smooth things out if they realize that there are at least a few Shadowhunters on their side.
Alec mostly stays quiet, confirming Magnus’s words when he needs to. None of the Downworlders seem surprised to hear that Valentine escaped—or was let go—their expressions are mostly resigned.
“And I guess they’re not doing anything about it, either,” Raphael says, crossing his arms.
“They’re trying to catch him, probably because Valentine running rampant makes the Clave look incredibly bad,” Magnus says. “But it won’t make a different if they don’t root out the Circle members within their own ranks first.”
“We can catch him,” Maia says. “If the Clave won’t handle Valentine properly, trust me, I will.”
Alec has no doubt what she means by that, and he’s not opposed to it, except— “You can’t kill him. The Clave will see it as an overstep, a breach of the Accords.”
“A breach of the Accords,” Maia scoffs. “Valentine still being alive is a breach of the Accords.”
Alec holds up his hands. “I didn’t say I agreed with them. But I don’t want you all getting arrested.”
“Might be worth it,” Maia muses.
After they’ve left, Magnus assures him that none of them are actually intending to track down and kill Valentine. Alec isn’t so sure about that, and can’t help but worry about it a bit. He doesn’t want to see what the Clave would do in retaliation. He doesn’t want Magnus to lose his friends. And he especially doesn’t want Magnus to get caught up in the blame.
“You are so up in your head, darling,” Magnus says, poking him in the cheek as he sets coffee on the table. They’re finally taking a moment to rest after their hectic day.
“And you’re not,” Alec says. “Aren’t you worried?”
“Of course. But I can’t control what Maia and Raphael and the others choose to do. I can only help them out of whatever situation they do get themselves into. I can’t honestly say that I wouldn’t be hunting down Valentine myself, if I weren’t sure that my involvement—given our… particular circumstances—would only make things worse for everyone.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Alec says.
“This is not the first time the Clave has put itself above what’s right,” Magnus continues as he finally sits down and takes a sip of his coffee, “and it won’t be the last. Perhaps it was a mistake to believe they truly wanted to improve. Probably, it was. But the Downworld always comes through somehow. We’ve fought for ourselves before, and we’ll fight again.”
There’s a layer of uncertainty rippling through the bond that belies some of Magnus’s words, but Alec doesn’t contradict him. “We’ll figure it out,” he says instead.
“I must admit,” Magnus continues, “when we first met I half-thought I would have to fight you, too. It’s incredibly comforting to me that that’s not the case.”
Alec takes his hands and holds them. He’s grateful that they’re on the same side, too. And he’s grateful for Magnus.
“Never,” he vows.
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