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Old Pain

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Hi all

Welcome to the sequel to Cold Pain.

I can't say you HAVE to read the first one but it will help you contextualise what is going on in this story.

I hope you enjoy and, as always, comments and theories are welcome!

Chapter Text

Once he was cleared by the guards at the walled gate he drove his jeep through and up the dusty road across the compound, one elbow perched on the open window while the other gripped the wheel loosely.

He slowed to let three young children, two girls and a boy, chasing a football across the road, squealing in delight at their game but still pausing to give the man a wave. 

He smiled broadly and waved back, unable to resist reaching across the car to the glovebox, grabbing a small handful of sweets and throwing them out the window as he passed them.  Laughing into the rear-view mirror as their giggles grew louder, grabbing the treats from the dirt, their wrappers glinting like jewels in the bright sunlight.

He turned his attention back to the road and kept going, a dread filling his stomach at the prospect of the conversation to come.  Ignoring the workers he passed, he headed straight up to the decadent house at the very end, deciding it was better to get this over with, ‘eat the frog’ his mother would always say and his thoughts of her drew another smile to his lips, this one soft at the memories of his long-departed parent.

The road curved slightly at the end as he drew level with the house, allowing him to park next to the wall.  He turned the engine off and jumped out, leaving the keys in the ignition and the windows down.  It was unlikely to make much of a difference in this heat, but even one degree lower than it was directly beneath that sun was welcome.

He grabbed his cap from the back seat and pulled it onto his head, protecting his scalp from sunburn, something his white hair had never done well alone.  He straightened his khaki green shirt, peeling it away from where it was stuck to his back with sweat and then bent over to brush the wrinkles from his tan, linen pants.  Once he was as satisfied with his appearance as he could be considering the circumstance, he straightened up and walked the short distance along the sandstone wall, around the corner and jogged up the three wide steps to the tiled alcove which led to the front door.

There was already a guard waiting with the door open and he simply inclined his head in greeting, allowing him in without a word, having been warned by the guard at the front gate.  As soon as he stepped over the threshold he was slapped in the face by cool air, the hum of the air conditioning a welcome sound.

The guard closed the door behind him as he pulled off his sunglasses and cap, tucking them both into the pockets of his pants.  He continued walking, his boat shoes soundless on the tiles and up the stairs, his hand running up the cast iron handrail as he went. 

When he got to the second floor, he turned in the direction of the office, knowing that was where she would be at this time, likely waiting for him as the gate would have also notified her.  It took him less than 10 seconds to reach it and, with his position in the company, he didn’t need to knock, so he pushed the handle down and walked in, head held high with confidence.

Her office was as decadent as the rest of the house.  Rich red, green and royal blue tiles halfway up the walls, the upper half painted a burnt orange.  The floor was also tiled, it made cleaning the perpetual dust easier, though these were larger tiles, an orange frame with a white circle in the centre and each one decorated with what looked like dragons of varying types and colours.

To the right were floor to ceiling windows, open, as were the doors leading to a shaded balcony.  Opposite the door were more ceiling to floor windows those these, facing the sun, had their blinds down.  This was likely because her desk sat in front of them and she was sat, staring at her Mac thoughtfully, ignoring his arrival completely.

He turned to his left and went through the door, closing it behind him, using the toilet to empty his bladder and then the sink to wash up before heading back out. 

When he did, she was now speaking into her computer animatedly and, having flipped her long black hair back he spotted the air pods in her ears.

‘Zoom call’ he thought to himself and, judging by her tone and with the speed she was speaking French in, she was not happy about something.  He dropped into one of the armchairs opposite her and, even though he didn’t speak a lick of French, he kept his face turned, gazing out the balcony doors as a show of respect more than anything else.  He crossed his leg over the other and linked the fingers of his hands together then rested them on his knee.  Patience he had an abundance of, and it also enabled him to ponder a little longer what words he should use to deliver the news.

He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t actually notice when she ended her call, and sat for a moment, her dark brown eyes considering him, sipping her whiskey from a crystal tumbler.

“Well…” she said after swallowing the brown liquid down and licking her full lips that had been painted a rust colour, almost resembling dried blood.  Her voice was soft and had a husky timber to it, a bedroom voice that had made many a man fall, both figuratively and metaphorically.

He turned to look at her, meeting her eyes with his own blue, his face impassive.

“Welcome, but I feel as though you are baring bad news?” she asked as she lent back in her leather, high backed chair, her arms resting on the armrests, one hand swirling her drink.

He drew in a confident breath, “Jonathan is dead” he said, his voice even and calm.

The only outwardly sign that she had even heard his was when her hand had stilled.  Then her eyes flicked to look out the balcony door and she ran her tongue over her teeth behind closed lips.  Finally, she stood, placing the glass gently on the table as she made her way to the dresser beside the door to the bathroom, the top cluttered with pictures of herself and her son.  She picked up her favourite one and ran her fingers slowly over his face.

“When?” she asked.

“We’re not sure yet, the M.E. may not be able to tell for sure” he answered, he’d always been honest with her and that wasn’t going to stop know.

“How?”

“Shot in the head” he replied.  “He was then left in an abandoned warehouse, freezing conditions, it’s why they’re having trouble with the actual time of death”.

“Who?” there was a slight hitch in her voice on that word, the only sign so far of her loss.

“Sebastian Verlac”.

Her fingers froze and she slowly spun on her heel to face him, their eye meeting.  “How can that be?  They were friends?”.

“It appears that Sebastian was… not what we thought” he chose his words carefully here.  “He had developed something of an infatuation and, once he was able to gain control of your son’s money and resources, he was deemed to be a loose end”.

She was quiet for a moment, then tilted her head to the left, her silken hair falling across her shoulders.  “Explain” she demanded.

He sighed, “Sebastian had fallen in love, Jonathan had almost killed this… man, and he was looking to avenge what was done to him, along with winning his heart.  Apparently that backfired massively and Sebastian is now in Wrangle Island awaiting his trial”.

She drew her free hand to the base of her long neck and stroked at the pale white skin there at the same time as she whispered something so quietly, he didn’t quite catch what she had said.

He lent forward with a frown on his brow.  “Ma’ma?” he asked for clarification.

“Alexander Lightwood” she said, still a whisper but now loud enough for him to hear.

He was surprised and he didn’t feel the need to hide it.  “Yes, how did…”.

“So, you’re telling me that my son was killed by his old friend because of an obsession with the detective that is responsible for the love of my life rotting behind bars?” she spoke slowly, annunciating every word.

He thought for a moment, then nodded.  He felt it was an emotive take on the situation though it cannot be denied that it was true.

She returned to her chair, taking her picture with her so she could place it in pride of place on her desk, looking straight at her.  She lent back and drummed her long fingernails on the dark wood while she contemplated her options.

He waited patiently, she had choices to make and he had seen the look on her face before.  She was running through each one methodically, looking for the one that would bring her the most satisfaction.

Finally, she had made her decision, a soft smile on her lips.

“I want Sebastian dead” she stated simply.  “And I want Lightwood to wish he was”.

He frowned at her again.

“I have something I need to take care of in France.  A… disloyal employee” she explained further.  “Go to New York and ensure that Sebastian doesn’t see Christmas.  Then… take what Lightwood loves most, I want him broken when I arrive to finish him off”.

He stood, having received his orders there was no reason for him to stay and, to be entirely honest with himself, he was actually looking forward to New York in November, it would be a welcome respite from the unbearable heat in Edom.

He was almost at the door when she called to him again.

“And Malcolm…” she waited for him to turn around, “…make sure he really does suffer”.

“Of course,” he replied, “You know me Lilith, have I ever let you down?”.

Lilith watched him leave, a slight smile on her lips.  She would travel to France and clean up her problem there.  By then Lightwood should be in mourning and he wouldn’t put up much of a fight when she arrived for end things for good.  He had taken the two she loved most, she wanted him to know what it was like.

Picking up her cell from her desk she navigated to the video files and pulled up her favourite.  She started it and then slid the bar to the clip that brought her unparalleled joy.

The sound of screaming filled the air, along with the noise of her baby boys delighted giggle.  She couldn’t see Jonathan in the clip as he held the camera, but every word he uttered and every sound he sighed as he watched his mother slice deeply into the flesh above Lightwoods shoulder blades, the blood running free down the swoop of his back and his ass, long thighs and strong calf’s to eventually drip off the back of his ankles.

Her eyes sparkled in the same way that they had that day, when she looked back at the camera, exclaiming with delight how the young man, despite the excruciating pain, hadn’t passed out on the first cut.  She remembered the pleasure she got from knowing he would be conscious for the second cut and, when she explained this to Jonathan they had laughed together, their laughs so similar it warmed her heart.

She licked her lips, feeling that heart beating in her chest and a thin layer of sweat on her brow as her arousal grew.

“See you soon angel, we can finish what we started” she whispered softly as Alec’s beaten and bruised face came on screen.

Chapter Text

Luke sighed and took a slug of his coffee-flavoured sludge, winced and then placed it further away from him on his desk.  Reviewing case files was never his favourite task, but it was requirement for his role as captain.  Thankfully he had good people working for him, who he would trust to run and close their cases without him looking over their shoulders if he could. 

Then his eyes landed on one file in particular and he revised his original though, he had mostly good people working for him.  He picked the file up and opened it, reading through what had been done so far to find the killer of a 47 year old ER doctor who was found dead in an illegal clinic downtown.

He’d received some additional funding for his department, which had allowed him to bring on board a new Lead Detective (new role title) and standard Detective.  He had formed a new homicide team and that had allowed him to allocate his two floating detectives to form a new team under he new Lead.

He had been impressed with the new lead from the moment he arrived.  He came with excellent knowledge and experience as well as a clean record.  He had slotted into the department overall, was popular with his colleagues and respected by his superiors.

Unfortunately the two floating detectives happened to be Raj and Victor, whose reputation proceeded them and it wasn’t exactly good.  They had their strengths, which was why they were still employed but their didn’t hide their bigotry, with neither peers nor the public.  They had the highest number of complaints individually, but with the crime rate rising and detective numbers dropping… they did just enough to stay in position.

Judging from the file they were making steady progress in their investigation, Raj and Victor following their lead, but they would need a fourth team member and he needed to look at the applicants the scrape some time together to interview.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by a firm knock on his open door and he looked up to see Robert Lightwood waiting patiently to be invited in.

“Commissioner” he greeted, closing the folder and sitting back in his chair.

Robert opened his mouth to reply when the high pitched whirring of a drill cut through the air, making both men cringe until it finished.

“Is that supposed to go on for much longer?” Robert asked as he stepped into Luke’s office, sliding his hands into his pant pockets.

“Hopefully not” he sighed, feeling a headache starting.  “But they are behind”.

“Hum” he rolled his eyes and Luke saw Alec clear as day in the gesture, causing a pinch in his heart.

“But I’m guessing our renovations are not what you’re here for?” Luke prompted.

“No” he paused.  “I wanted to talk to you about Alec…”.

Luke shifted uncomfortably.  He knew Robert was trying to repair their practically non-existent relationship, it was little almost too late and Luke wouldn’t interfere with it, but he had no desire to speak about Alec when he wasn’t here.

“I’m not very comfortable…” he started.

Robert removed one of his hands from his pocket to wave his concern away.  “it’s work related” he reassured.  “He has declined his invitation to the award ceremony… but…” he was hesitant but Luke waited him out.  “Alec will be receiving an MPD of exceptional merit and his team will be receiving a unit citation”.

Luke sat up straight, his eyebrows raised, “Holy shit!”.

“Quite” Robert agreed.  “However, we need to try and get him there without giving away the surprise.  And…” he swallowed thickly, “…you would know better than I how to do that”.

‘Wow’ he thought, ‘that must have been hard’.  Luke had replaced Robert in the lives of his family in every way possible, and they both knew it.  It had been the cause of tension between them since they had known one another and with Roberts pride, Luke thought it would never change.

Now, here was that same man, admitting that Luke knew his son better than he did and asking for his help instead of bulldozing his way blindly into Alec’s life. 

Luke cleared his throat when he saw the bemused look on Roberts face, realising he had been quiet for some time now,  “If you want Alec to do anything, even stand up in front of a room full of brass and accept an award he will definitely argue if he deserves it or not, there is only one way you can do it”.

“How?” Robert asked with enthusiasm.

“Get Magnus to ask him to do it” Luke smiled.

Robert gave a silent ‘Oh’ and looked immediately uncomfortable, still not entirely onboard with Alec’s sexuality and the man he had given his heart to.

“I’ll handle it” Luke announced, knowing that if he left it to Robert it was likely to go horribly wrong.

“When are they back?” he asked.

“They fly back in the day before, it’ll be close but I’ll call Magnus…” he checked the time and calculated the difference, “… tonight and he can lay the ground work”.

Robert nodded stiffly, “Mayor Herondale will be pleased, Will is also attending and I know he’ll be happy to see Alec again”.

“Do I take it we have the mayor to thank for our ‘improvements’” Luke said it with a tone that suggested the work being done was in no way an improvement to the working conditions yet.

“She was grateful” Robert clarified, “and making changes helps her cope with anxiety, with the court case coming up…” he drifted off, staring into the near distance.

“Have they set a date yet?” Luke asked.

“No, but with the sheer volume of cases, it won’t be consecutive dates” he informed the captain reluctantly.

Luke rubbed his head, feeling powerless.  He knew it was a seven day trial, he’d seen the witness lists as he’d had to make sure his officers were available for their testimonies.  If the dates had been consecutive it could have been over in a week.  But now it could be dragged out for how knew how long, and Alec in particular had to testify twice, once as an officer and once as a victim.  All the while everyone was all too aware the year anniversary of his abduction was fast approaching.

Of course, Alec being Alec was insisting he was fine and Luke could almost believe it.  But none of his siblings had been fooled and then Magnus whisked Alec away for a vacation encompassing Indonesia, China and Japan, confirming his suspicions that he wasn’t fine at all.

“Do they know the dates yet?” Luke hoped they could at least tell Alec when it would be over.

But Robert shook his head, “No, the dates are still being booked with the court.  At least Ragnor Fell is prosecuting this one…”.

Luke raised his eyebrows, “The actual DA? How did that happen?  I know Aline can’t possibly but there are other ADAs”.

“He wanted to handle this one personally, was determined”, he looked around the office once, nodded and then headed to the door.  He paused on the threshold to glance back.  “You’ll let me know?”.

Luke nodded at him and then he was gone.  Luke gazed at his empty doorway for a long moment thinking about Robert’s desire to get closer to his son.  Someone needed to make it crystal clear to him that unless he accepted Magnus, Alec was never going to accept his father back into his life.

 

*****

 

Magnus wasn’t entirely sure what had woken him, but he came to slowly.  Fully awake but reluctant to open his eyes, he took a moment to slowly stretch out his muscles.  He ached in every good way possible which wasn’t a surprise after the particularly athletic activities he had partaken in with Alec just a few hours before. 

His mind flashed back to Alec pressing him into the mattress, moving inside him, while they chased their bliss, eyes locked and moaning in tandem until they both crested.  He felt the familiar heat spark in the pit of his stomach, and he tried to rein in his thoughts, but it was already too late and, keeping his eyes closed, he rolled over and reached out with his hand, only to find his lover was missing from their bed.

At the same time there was a bright flash of light with a loud rumble of thunder, and he quickly realised what had woken him, the noise of heavy rain rushing against the windows also registering.

He finally opened his eyes and they immediately found Alec in the gloom. 

He was out of bed, stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows of their hotel room, arms crossed, and forearms pressed against the glass while his forehead rested on them.  He was leaning forward against the pane, the closest leg to Magnus bent at the knee and, as he was still completely naked, his thigh was all that protected his modesty. 

Not that he needed to with Magnus.  They had grown comfortable in each others presence and Alec was no longer as shy in terms of his body, happy to be naked under Magnus’ scrutiny.  And Magnus was unashamed with how often he wanted to scrutinise his young boyfriend.

He slowly pulled himself up the bed until he could lean against the pillows and headboard, a thin sheet pooling at his waist, beneath which he was also naked.  He bent one leg, resting his arm casually on the raised knee, while his other relaxed against the mattress, then he stayed silent.  He knew Alec was aware he was awake, but he waited for him to speak, also aware that the nightmares were becoming more prevalent still.

Because they hadn’t closed the blinds, and the view from their 23rd floor hotel room overlooked the bright lights of the Tokyo skyline, and specifically the tower.  It gave them enough light that Magnus could see Alec’s eyes were squeezed closed.  Whatever had woken him had disturbed him and Magnus’ heart ached a little for the man he loved.

Finally, Alec moved, just a simple tilt of his head, leaning his temple on his arms instead of his forehead, and those beautiful eyes opened, shinning as they settled on Magnus across the room on the bed.

“This isn’t working” Alec whispered oh so softly, the sadness in his eyes unmistakable.

Magnus cocked his head slightly to the side, his face sympathetic, “I know” he replied in the same gentle tone.

Alec’s eyes ran down his boyfriend’s bare chest, the toned muscle and caramel skin, it’s smoothness only slightly marred by the marks Alec’s lips and teeth had left earlier in the night.

He uncrossed his arms, pressing his palms against the cool glass and pushed himself away, turning and heading towards the bed.  Magnus watched him and quickly realised what he was intending when he bypassed his side to come around to Magnus’.

Magnus pulled the sheet away from himself as Alec reached him, allowing him to crawl into the bed and settle between his legs, his head resting on his stomach, his arms wrapping around Magnus’ waist.

As soon as he was settled Magnus drew the sheet back over them both, then rested one of his hands on Alec’s shoulder while the other gently stroked over the soft skin on his back, trying to sooth the tension that was clear beneath his porcelain skin.

“I’m sorry” Alec said, his lips brushing across Magnus’ skin as they formed the words.

Magnus released his shoulder and ran his fingers through Alec’s hair, smiling at the puff of air he felt when the young man sighed.  “You don’t need to be sorry sayang”.

“I’m ruining our holiday” he pointed out.

“Not possible” he reassured, his fingernails trailing over Alec’s scalp.  “I love you” he added, feeling a wave of the emotion sweep through him.

“You’d better” was Alec’s response as his body melted into Magnus’ arms.

Magnus smiled at the familiar response.  He couldn’t remember when or how it had started but it had become their reply when the other one spoke of their feelings.  It worked for them, having more meaning than simply repeating the same words back.  It spoke of how secure they were in their relationship, how sure they were of the other’s feelings and every time they exchanged the phrase the love and happiness between them was clear.

They fell into silence, and it wasn’t long before Magnus heard Alec’s breaths change to the slower, steadier pattern that indicated he had found some peace in sleep, despite the storm that continued to rage outside.  Being very careful not to move suddenly, he leant to his left just enough to reach his phone and, quickly flicking through his contacts he found the person he wanted, dialling without calculating the time difference, knowing they would answer regardless.

“Magnus?” a familiar voice spoke up, sounding a little groggy.  “Is everything okay?”.

“Somewhat” he whispered, again doing everything he could to ensure Alec stayed asleep.  “I need a favour Ollie”.

“Of course,” she sounded fully awake now and he heard a drawer open then close as she likely located a pad and pen.

“Alec and I need to return home early” he explained, “Preferably, we would like to leave Tokyo tomorrow at the first opportunity”.

Ollie was quiet for a moment, “Magnus, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get you a flight…”.

“Don’t bother looking for a flight” he instructed, “Just charter us a plane, I’m not bothered with the price”.

She drew in a breath, well aware of the cost but it was Magnus’ money, and he could afford it.  “I’ll get onto it now and will email you the details as soon as I have everything confirmed.  Will you want a car as well?”.

“Yes, please darling” he confirmed, “Everything to make the trip back as comfortable as possible”.

“I’m sorry that you haven’t enjoyed the trip…”.

“On the contrary…” he looked down at the beauty that slept in his arms, “…the trip was perfect, you out did yourself again.  It’s an unrelated matter and we need to be around family”.

“I understand Magnus, I’ll have everything sorted and ensure you both get home promptly and safely” she promised.

“Thank you, Ollie,” and he hung up. 

Ollie Wilson had been his travel agent for years now and she was exceptional.  She was also on hand 24/7 and he paid her well for the excellent service she had provided him, sometimes quite literally saving his ass by getting him out of countries in last minute evacuations.

He placed his phone back onto the bedside table, his lean disturbing Alec enough that he snuggled harder into his boyfriend’s body, murmuring something unintelligible, but not waking.  Magnus let out a light chuckle, then lent his head back against the cushioned headboard and closed his eyes, knowing he would be able to sleep in this position as he had done so before.

 

*****

 

When Alec next woke it was gently, and he was relieved he’d not been jolted awake by another nightmare.  He’d hoped he’d been able to hide this from Magnus, but their short conversation last night confirmed he hadn’t fooled him, likely not for one moment.

He found himself on his side, facing the windows where the view was distorted from the rain pummelling against the glass.  The storm last night had been hypnotising, a backdrop to the city lights and he had been mesmerized.  It was a welcome reprieve as it kept his mind off the dreams, then he’d heard Magnus moving in their bed and he’d sought his comfort and warmth.

Reminded of his lover he rolled onto his back, letting his arm reach out to look for him but found his side of the bed empty and cold, he’d been gone a while.

Alec sat up, eyes half closed and mouth pouting with hair dishevelled and looked around the bedroom but could see nothing out of place, nor his elusive boyfriend.

He decided to go in search of him further into the suite and slipped out of the bed, grabbing his boxer-briefs from where they had been discarded the evening before and pulling them back on.  Then, with a stretch and a yawn he headed for the bedroom door that would lead into the main room.

He saw Magnus as soon as he stepped through, his eyes always drawn in his direction even though he wasn’t always aware it was happening.  The sight stopped him in his tracks, and he took a moment to take in the vision before him.

Magnus was stood in front of the large fireplace, his back to the bedroom door and, therefore, Alec, and he was studying the two suitcases that were laid open on the couch in front of him.  The couch behind him slightly obscured Alec’s view, but not enough to stop him from looking.

Magnus had chosen to pull on Alec’s sweatshirt, and only his sweatshirt.  It was too long on the slightly shorter man but was tight across his impressive shoulders and biceps.  What was making Alec’s mouth water was Magnus’ strong, bare legs beneath the sweatshirt, the hem of which stopped high on his thigh.  Magnus was always attractive, but Magnus like this… all morning soft, half naked in Alec’s clothes drove Alec to distraction.

He wanted to walk over, grab him around the waist and breath him in but if he found he still smelled of the night before, like clean sweat, sandalwood and sex, Alec wasn’t sure he would be able to restrain himself and, no matter how good his lover looked, he was also intrigued by what he was up to.

“I promise not to bite… a lot” he called out and Alec’s eyes snapped up from those gorgeous legs to see Magnus peering at him over his shoulder.  “Morning love” he said with a smile.

Alec pouted heavier and started to make his way over, “You weren’t in bed” he bemoaned as he reached his back and decided to go with the fantasy, wrapping his arms tightly around him, pressing his front to Magnus’ back and kissing his neck, managing to not lick him as well because, ‘fuck’ he did still smell of last nights sex.

Magnus hummed in pleasure and lent back into Alec’s arms, wrapping his own over his young lover’s and closing his eyes as he dipped his head back onto Alec’s shoulder, giving him more access to his long neck.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his voice muffled against Magnus’ skin.

“Packing” he replied, distracted by the shivers running up and down his spine.

Alec lifted his head in surprise and Magnus let out an actual whine at the loss of contact.  “Packing?” he asked, “We only just got here?”.

Magnus started to turn in his arms, so Alec eased his hold a little, giving him the room to move.  Magnus’ arms went around the back of Alec’s neck and he drew him down into a kiss, coming up on his tiptoes to meet him halfway.

Alec allowed him the distraction for a moment, then pulled away.  “Magnus?”.

The older man sighed, dropping back down so his feet were flat.  “I called Ollie” he admitted, “We’re flying home today”.

A number of emotions went across Alec’s face, including confusion, excitement, anticipation and then guilt.  He knew how much Magnus had looked forward to this trip, all of the planning he had done so he could show Alec some of his favourite places and now… Alec had spoiled things.

“Hey” Magnus knew where his mind was going, and he tugged at the short hairs on the nape of Alec’s neck to pull him out of his reverie before he spiralled.  “It’s okay, I want to be home too”.

“You love Tokyo, you wanted me to see your favourite places” he argued.

“My favourite place is with you, it doesn’t matter where in the world we are” his smile broadened.

“That’s a good point” he whispered,” Mine too”.

“I know” Magnus agreed as their lips met again in a longer, deeper kiss.

Alec ran his hands slowly down his back, over the curve of his pert ass to the back of his thighs where his fingers snuck under the hem of his sweatshirt, and he let his hands start to move back up.  That was when he realised Magnus really was only wearing his sweatshirt and his hands were running over Magnus’ bare ass, skin as smooth as silk.

“Fuuckkk” Alec tore his mouth from Magnus’ and breathed out the curse as his libido and cock both rose suddenly.  “What time do we need to be ready to go?” he asked, completely breathless, hands squeezing his boyfriend’s ass.

“We have time” Magnus whispered against his lips and, as he felt Alec’s arms tense, he moved in time with him, jumping softly and wrapping his legs around his waist, Alec supporting him still gripping his ass.

When he turned and started back towards the bedroom Magnus decided he couldn’t wait and attacked his mouth with renewed vigour, Alec stumbling over the rug and trying to navigate to the bedroom by memory.  He managed with minimum injuries, stubbing his toe on the leg of a chair once and knocking his hip on a dresser just before he made it through the bedroom door.

Magnus’ pillage of his mouth had deepened and dirtied, all tongue and sucking and Alec’s head was starting to spin.  Thankfully his knees met the edge of the bed and Magnus found himself dumped unceremoniously on his back in the middle of the mattress.

He let out a squeak then he propped himself up on his elbows, the sound turning into a guttural moan as he watched Alec strip off his briefs and immediately crawl over him, his member already standing tall and proud.

“You really shouldn’t wear my clothes” Alec growled at him.

“I regret nothing” Magnus managed before Alec’s mouth was back on his and they both fell into oblivion together.

 

*****

 

Waking up for the third time that day already, he immediately knew that Magnus wasn’t in bed anymore because he could hear the shower running.  However, it turned off before he could actually get out of the bed so he resigned himself to showering alone in a few moments.

He picked up his phone and checked the time, his eyes widening and he scrabbled with the sheets, his long legs tangled, “Magnus!”

Magnus opened the bathroom door and leaned out, his toothbrush hanging out of his mouth and a confused frown on his face.

“What time is our flight again?” he asked, if he remembered correctly they were already too late to get there for check in.

Magnus pulled the toothbrush out and went back into the bathroom to spit out the paste, returning a split second later.  “We have plenty of time darling…”.

“Magnus” he stood up and headed over to him, ignoring the quick up and down Magnus gave him and slid past the older man into the bathroom.  “We missed check in” he pointed out as he pulled open the door to the shower.

“Ah” Magnus paused, then lent his towel covered hip onto the porcelain of the sink he was using.  “I may have not been entirely clear about out trip home…”.

Alec had stepped into the shower and turned it on, but stuck his head back out the door, his face suspicious, “What do you mean?”.

“Ollie couldn’t get us a commercial flight so I hired a private plane” he braced himself for Alec’s response, knowing how Alec felt about him spending his money on him.

Alec stared at him, silent and unmoving.

Magnus waited.

“You hired a plane” he repeated calmly.

Magnus smiled tentatively, “Just a small one” he held his hand up with his forefinger and thumb a short distance apart.

“Wha… how… I’m…” Alec stuttered.

“Darling, you really should shower, you’re currently wasting water” Magnus pointed out, hoping to change the subject.  But Alec, and his damned practicality, just turned the shower off.

“I agreed to this trip as long as we shared the costs 50/50, but I can’t cover half of a private plane” he argued.

“It’s my treat…”.

“You know how I feel about you’re ‘treats’ Magnus”.

Magnus looked closely at Alec’s face and, though he was trying his best to hide it, he was distressed at the inability to share the bill for their trip home.  He moved the short distance to the other side of the room and cupped Alec’s cheek gently, running a thumb over his cheekbone.

“I love you Alexander, if I can’t send my money on you who will I spend it on?  And it is my right to take care of you in anyway I can, just like one day you may need to take care of me” he explained.  “Let me do this, hum?”.

Alec sighed but the distress in his face became resignation.  “Okay, thank you”.

Magnus smiled, then placed a firm kiss on his lips before turning and going back to the sink.  “Beside, a private plane is the best chance I have of getting you to join the mile-high club with me”.

And Alec very nearly slid over on the wet shower floor.

Chapter Text

Lydia pulled up just outside the police line, cruisers still in place but their lights were off now.  When she got the call from Andrew she had already been on her way into the precinct so she had diverted here immediately.  He was meeting her here, along with Maia and they were early enough that the M.E. and forensics were still on scene and working.

The morning was fresh but bright with a clear cloudless sky and despite the temperature she had her sunglasses on to protect against the glare.

When she stepped out of the car she looked around at the neighbourhood.  It was a quiet suburb, homes on individual plots with driveways that led to picturesque garages decorated with blue tiled pitch roofs and cladding painted dark grey.  The area was clean, neat and she could even hear birds as opposed to the normal traffic noise from the city.  She took a deep breath of cool, fresh air and, as wonderful as it was in that moment, she was convinced she would die of boredom in the suburbs.

She locked her car and headed for check-in point, giving her name, rank and badge number to the officer who was keeping a record of the scene.  As soon as she was through she took a direct line through the officers on scene who were speaking with the home owners, both looking distressed, still dressed in their pyjamas, now unable to go back to their home. 

There were paramedics just packing up, having attended to the homeowners there was nothing left for them to do, it was the coroners job to transport the victims body, not theirs.

She stopped at the forensics van, where Bat was already on the computer and he was also managing the forensic suits.  He handed her one and, after pulling off her sunglasses and dropping them in her pocket, she stepped into the white onesie, pulling it onto her shoulders and straightening it before zipping it up from crotch to neck.  Next she pulled on the blue plastic shoe covers, fitting them smoothly over her black Doc Martens and finishing up with the blue cap, tucking her hair inside carefully and snapping on gloves.

Once protected from contaminating the scene, she stepped off the sidewalk and onto the tarmacked driveway, a small white boarder separating it from a neat lawn on the left and bedding on the right that held some saplings and foliage.  As she moved further up, the garage ahead of her with an additional space on the left, she glanced to her right to look at the house where Simon and Jordan, dressed in the same gear, could be seen working their way around the outside of the property to see if anyone entered the house without the owners knowledge.

In front of the garage, a black Ford sedan was parked, relatively new but mostly nondescript.  The only thing that made it unique were the blood splatters over the windshield and drivers window.  The drivers door was actually open and Andrew was peering inside, Maia by his side with her notepad open, taking notes.

Maia had taken her detectives exam and passed with a respectable score.  Luke had snapped her up immediately, impressed with the work she had done on the Verlac case earlier in the year.  She had been keen to return to homicide and was over the moon when Luke actually gave her Verlac’s old job under Alec.  She had fit in instantly, as though she had always been there and she had adjusted to her new role quickly.  The same could not be said for Jace adjusting to his new partners.  He was on this sixth and that didn’t seem to be going too well either, if the rumours were to be believed.

Andrew stepped back as she neared, lowering the mask he had been holding over his face so he didn’t breath onto the body, giving her the space she would need to have a look herself.

“Morning” she greeted solemnly.

“You okay?” Andrew asked, likely noticing the black bags under her eyes.

She nodded with a soft smile, “Yes, just very much looking forward to our industrious leader’s return”.

Lydia had been asked to step into Alec’s shoes while he took his vacation.  She was the longest serving detective on the team, more than capable, and highly qualified.  She had accepted for only one reason… their boss needed a break. 

Alec had only taken 5 days after they had arrested Sebastian and then had been back at his desk, though regular visits from Magnus with food at lunch time, dinner on late nights and one occasion where he had arrived at a crime scene as a passenger in a sandwich van (to this day no one knows if he actually knew the guy or had just commandeered him from the street) when Alec had refused to leave.  Mind you, everyone there had benefitted on that day, even the press and onlookers.  The owner had left when his stock had run out, looking much happier than Alec had.

After that Luke had insisted Alec take another 10 days to help Magnus recover from his trauma and find a way to let Alec out of his sight.  Apparently moving in together was the answer and he calmed down… marginally.  He still ensured food was provided but this time in the form of packed lunches or deliveries and the funding required for the team’s favourite coffee truck to open an actual coffee house closer than their original location.  Java Jones had quickly become exceedingly popular with the whole precinct and had already expanded once.

“Humm” Andrew responded.  “When’s he back?”

“Six days, 12 hours and… 37 minutes” she replied with a grin.

“That’s not true” Maia said with doubt.

Lydia looked at her, “Are you sure?”.

Andrew handed her a new mask as Maia glanced at the time and then looked skyward while she started calculating.

Lydia threw Andrew a look, knowing Maia was going to come up empty because she’d pulled the numbers straight out of her ass.  But where was the joy in the job if you couldn’t tease the newbie.

She held the mask over her own mouth and nose then lent into the car, nodding to Nath, the M.E. who was leaning in from the passenger side to take a look at one of the wounds in particular.  Lydia frown for a moment, trying to work out what they were looking at.  When it click she drew in a quick breath and grimaced before straightening back up.

“Oh yeah” Andrew agreed, looking mightily uncomfortable himself.

“Pre or post mortem?” Lydia called in to Nath.

“Not sure yet, I’ll be able to tell you once I have him back to the lab” they answered, then grabbed a baggie from their case and held it up, “but whoever did it, left it behind”.

Lydia felt a little queasy as she looked at the man’s penis in the plastic bag, she really hoped it had been removed post-mortem.

“I can tell you…” Nath continued, “…he was killed by a bullet wound to the temple.  Anything else will need to wait until I’ve done the full autopsy”.

“Rough time of death?” she almost begged.

Nath was new as the lead M.E. as they were covering Izzy’s maternity leave and, though exceptionally good at their job, they lacked the confidence in the field to make preliminary judgements.  It would come with time, Izzy was not easy to replace, but every cop liked to know a little before they started out on witness statements.

“To be honest…” Nath was battling their reluctance, “I would say not that long before he was discovered at 7:30am by the Thompson’s”.

Lydia smiled, “Thanks Nath” and she turned back to her colleagues.  “Okay, what do we know so far?”.

Maia stepped up eagerly, “The homeowners are Mr Frank Thompson and Mrs Sadie Thompson.  Mr Thompson came out this morning to fetch in the post and his paper, finding the car on the drive.  The victim, Mr Carlos Pedroso, was due at the property to meet with him at 8:00am, he’s a realtor and they were employing him to sell their home”.

“So he was expected?” Lydia asked and Maia nodded.

“Right”.  She saw that Simon and Jordan were still busy so she decided to speak with the Thompson’s first.  “Let’s go and have a chat with them.  Maia…” she looked at the junior detective, “can you hover over Simon so we can try and get them back in their house as soon as possible please.  If no one entered their property we don’t need to keep it cordoned off as part of the scene”.

“Sure thing” and she bounced off enthusiastically, Andrew and Lydia watching her go.

“It took me 14 months when I first made detective to loose my bounce” Andrew muttered as they turned away and headed back down the softly slopped driveway.

Lydia snorted, “After my time in the services I never had one”.

Once the reached the end of the drive they pulled off their caps and unzipped their suits, trying to make themselves less disturbing to look at.  The Thompson’s had been sat in one of the cruisers, blankets over their shoulders.  One was in the rear passenger side and the other, Frank, was in the front passenger side, both sat sideways on so their feet were on the sidewalk.

“Mr and Mrs Thompson, I’m Detective Branwell, this is my colleague Detective Underhill” she spoke gently but clearly.  They obviously weren’t in shock otherwise they would be doing this at the hospital, but she wanted to ensure she didn’t add any stress.

Frank stood up and, gripping both edges of his blanket with one hand, he held out the other to shake hers.  “Call me Frank ma’am”.

He was mid-forties, average height but in relatively good shape and the way he stood was familiar to Lydia, he had clearly worked in the at least one branch of the services.  She shook his hand, it was a firm strong shake and her suspicion was sealed.

“Frank…” Lydia looked towards his wife but she huddled into the blanket further, nodding a greeting but not wanting to engage, clearly happy for her husband to do the talking.  “You found Mr Pedrosa?”.

He nodded grimly.  “Yes.  I’d arranged the appointment two days ago, asked him to be prompt, it needed to be early as I have to get back to base today”.

“What base is that sir?” she asked.

He looked at her more closely.  “Fort Drum.  You served?”.

She nodded, “MPs, and two tours in Edom”.

His eyebrows twitch.  “Good for you” his voice was laced with respect.

“Can you take us through what happened?” Lydia asked.

“Came out to get my paper and saw his car in the drive.  Was impressed, he’d been nice and early, though I wasn’t planning on so early he caught me in my civies” he glanced down at his feet and the navy blue cord slippers he had on.  “Still, I did ask.  So I headed over to tell him to come on in and I saw the blood on the window”.  He looked apologetic then, “I opened the door, probably shouldn’t have but at that point… well…”.

Andrew nodded in understanding.  “You didn’t know whether he was alive or not”.

“Quite right, didn’t want to delay any first aid if possible… but he was a goner.  Seemed a nice kid too, damn waste” he shook his head.

“Did you see anything at all?” she asked.

Frank shook his head, “Sorry ma’am.  Didn’t hear anything either, neither did Sadie” he glanced at his wife then back to Lydia.  “Any chance I can get her back in the house?  She’s had a touch of the flu and needs to get back to bed”.

“We’re just hurrying along the forensics team…” Lydia looked at Andrew and he nodded, heading back the way they had come to get an update from Maia.  “As long as there’s no evidence someone got into your house we can take it out of the crime scene area for you both”.

“Thank you Detective”.

She nodded at him then moved over to crouch in front of his wife.  “How are you doing Sadie?”.

She smiled wearily, “Been a bad day all round and it’s not even breakfast yet”.

A hint of smile touched Lydia’s lips at that.  “Anything you need until we can get you back inside?”.

“Ah, thanks honey but I’m a tough old bird.  Have to be to be married to this old goat” she jerked her head at her husband who smile fondly at her.  “The paramedics gave me a vitamin booster, that’s helping me out a lot”.

“Okay” Lydia nodded and straightened up.  “Let me know if anything changes though”.

“You do what you need to do and take as long as you need, give that man’s family some peace” Sadie replied.

“Will do ma’am” she promised.

 

*****

 

Andrew drew closer to Maia and Simon, Jordan was just packing away his gear, Simon already holding his case and ready to go.

“Nothing other than the homeowner, and externally what looks like a lot of animal tracks but nothing that indicates we need to go through the house” Simon was just explaining to Maia as he arrived.

Maia looked up at him, disappointment on her face tinged with a little annoyance but he smiled at her.  “Relax,” he reassured, “I’m not checking up on you.  Turns out the wife has flu so we want to get them back in quicker than as soon as possible”.

She did relax, having been worried she had taken too long, or they just hadn’t trusted her to do the task.  “So?” she asked Simon.

He grinned and pulled off his cap, “I am formally opening the home to the residents” he spoke in an official tone, the new detective wanting things to be by the book and blatantly clear. 

Andrew’s smile broadened, “Go tell the Thompson’s” he asked Maia, “They’ll be very happy to hear it”.

She rushed off again and this time Simon commented.  “It’ll be a shame to see that skip in her step disappear”.

“What have you got in the pool?” Andrew asked.

“Oh she’s tough, I went with 18 months” he replied.

“I got 13 months” Jordan said as he joined them, “No way she beats Luke”.

“Does he still hold the record?” Simon asked.

Andrew chortled, “17 months”.

“What about Alec?” Jordan frowned.

“Same as Lydia” Andrew replied as they started back down the driveway at a more leisurely pace.  “Never had one”.

“When are they back anyway?” Jordan shifted his heavy case from one hand to the other, trying to get comfortable since he had somehow manged to take a chunk out of the protective rubber covering the handle.

“Friday” Andrew and Simon both said spoke in unison.

They reached the end of the driveway, Simon and Jordan breaking off to join Bat in the forensics’ van.  They would wait for the body to be taken and head back in to go through the rest of the car. 

Andrew headed for Lydia as Maia escorted the Thompson’s back up to their home, explaining what had been done so they would know what had been disturbed.

“Anything extra?” he asked.

Lydia shook her head and looked around the street, people had started coming out onto the lawns, one couple even setting up lawn chairs, coffees in hand.  It wouldn’t be long before the press were here and she at least wanted the body out of here before they did.  Looking back down the road she was relieved to see the coroners van approaching as if responding to her wish.

She turned back to Andrew, Maia joining them again.  “Okay, each grab a uniform and let’s start knocking on doors”.

“Perimeter?” Maia asked.

“Two streets over in all directions” Lydia said, knowing this was going to take a long time, possible at least two days to catch everyone, but she didn’t want to miss anything.  Everything needed to be right for when Alec got back.

 

*****

 

Magnus pushed open the door and stepped in far enough for Alec to come in behind him, dragging both their suitcases with him.  He closed his eyes, breathing the smell of home deeply into his lungs as he heard Alec close the door behind them.

Alec slumped tiredly with his back against the door and Magnus spun on a heel to face him, a wide grin on his face.  “Home at last”.

Alec smiled, “You actually look happier than when we were on vacation” he chuckled.

“Well…” his smile turned suggestive and he raised an eyebrow, “It was a delightful flight home” and he slinked towards his boyfriend, plastering their front’s together and wrapping his arms wound his neck.  “Welcome to the club” he whispered in Alec’s ear before giving his earlobe a soft suck.

Alec’s arms went around the older man’s waist as he shivered from the contact, gazing at him lovingly when he tilted his head back a little and their eyes met.

“Before this goes any further…” Magnus said, pushing thoughts of the planes leather couch into a safe corner of his mind, “dinner?”.

Alec sighed, “Yes”.

It was evening by the time they had made it through the airport and their car had whisked them back to their loft in Brooklyn as fast as possible through the traffic.

“What would you like darling?” Magnus asked, sliding his hands down Alec’s chest, one continuing down his arm and taking the handle of the suitcase he still had hold of.

“Breakfast” he said without hesitation.

Magnus laughed, “Of course”.

“I’ll cook…”.

“Oh no my love” Magnus stepped back and grabbed the second case as well.  “You need to deal with that…” he turned and started to drag the cases down the hallway to their bedroom.

Alec straightened up and frowned after him, “What do you mean?” he called before suddenly hearing footsteps on the cast iron staircase to the upper level.

Alec had just moved into the entrance hall when he spotted Max making a beeline for him at quite the speed, then launching himself into his older brothers arms. 

“Ooff” Alec got the air knocked out of him, then wrapped his brother up and squeezed him tight, dipping his head down and burying his nose in his hair.  “Hey buddy”.

“You’re home early!” Max exclaimed happily, though his voice was muffled against Alec’s coat.

“Yeah” Alec replied, slowly coaxing him to step back. 

Max had always been a big hugger when it came to Alec, and Alec had, surprisingly, always accommodated it, despite not being very tactile himself.  That was until Magnus came along of course.

“We missed you guys” Alec finally got him to let go and Max grinned up at him.  “What are you doing here anyway?”.

The sliding doors from the lounge and into the kitchen opened, Magnus stepping through so Max and Alec joined him further in to the loft.

“Maximillian has been making use of the library” Magnus explained as he started looking under every item of furniture that stood at least 3 inches off the ground.

Max watched him, bemused. 

“Why are you using the library?” Alec asked as though Magnus’ behaviour was entirely normal.

“I ran out of Enochian runes in the book you gave me so I needed a bigger resource to find the right ones for your new scars” Max explained, still watching Magnus who was now on his hands and knees, peering under the dresser.

Alec felt a twinge in his gut at Max’s words.  He knew Max was trying to decide on new tattoos as the scars left by Jonathan’s attack could now be covered.  But still the reminder that it would be a year in a matter of days pulled some unpleasant memories closer to the surface again. 

He glanced at Magnus, who looked away quickly as though he wasn’t watching closely for Alec’s reaction.  Instead of commenting, he crawled towards the drapes that covered the windows and started to shake them out.

“What is he…” Max’s question was interrupted when Chairman shot out from behind the curtain Magnus was adjusting vigorously to his owner’s delight.

“Ah!  There you are Chairman” he knelt up, hands on his hips and looked around.  “Now, where would…” he tilted his head up to look at the bookcase on the other side of the room, seeing a long, grey fluffy tail hanging down from the top shelf, twitching irritably.  “Church!”.

Magnus stood and headed over to their other cat, whom Magnus had rescued from the abandoned bar when they were looking for Sebastian’s final victim.  Church, as Magnus had named him (explaining he had been found in one of Magnus’ houses of worship, wineries being the other), was surprisingly ungrateful for the life of luxury he now lived, demonstrated clearly by the hiss Magnus received as he neared him.

“Oh hush” Magnus scolded, but moved away and decided to settle for a brief snuggle from Chairman before he jumped back out of his arms and stalked off with his tail in the air.  Clearly happy to see them back but not quite ready to forgive them for going away in the first place.

“Have you found what you’re looking for Maximillian?” Magnus asked, dusting the cat hairs from his coat, then pulling open the buttons and slipping it off his shoulders.

“Yes, but there are two that I can’t decide between so I wanted you to choose” Max said as he wrapped his arms around Magnus’ waist and hugged him.

Magnus hugged him back, “If Alec is okay with that?”.

Alec smiled, “I’m okay with that”.

“Great” Max grabbed Magnus’ hand.  “Come look now cause mom will be here to pick me up in a minute and Alec isn’t actually allowed to see them until they’re finished”.

Magnus looked at Alec apologetically as he was dragged off but Alec’s heart was warmed at how close Magnus and Max had become.  He shook his head as the two disappeared up the stairs then, stripping out of his own coat, he headed for the kitchen, giving Church a wide berth as he passed the bookcase.

Once there he started the coffee machine, then immediately turned it off in favour of tea, so he filled and switched on the kettle instead.

While he was waiting for that to boil he pulled out the ingredients to make pancakes, thankful that Maryse had been keeping the fridge contents fresh whenever she fed the cats for them.  She had even left one of her vegetable lasagnes in there and his mouth watered at the thought of having it for lunch the next day.

He set up the missing bowl next to the kettle and was about to start when there was a knock on the front door.

Judging from Max’s earlier comments he knew who it would be and his smile was growing as he headed for the door, swinging it open and grinning at the look of shock on his mother’s face.

“Alec?” she huffed out breathlessly and then stepped froward to wrap him in a hug that only a mother could give.

“Hi mom” he greeted her, leaning his face down and resting it on her shoulder.

She pulled away and held him at arms length by the biceps, then sighed happily.  “You look well, you have a tan” she teased.

Alec laughed, “Indonesia was hot”.

“It suits you baby” her eyes twinkled,  pleased to see him look rested and with some healthy colour to his complexion.  Then her eyes went wide, “Oh wow, what does Magnus look like?”.

Alec’s cheeks flushed pink.  “Wow is about the right word”.

Maryse laughed and he guided her in further so he could shut the door, then nodded towards the kitchen.  “He’s upstairs with Max, they’re conspiring over my next set of tattoos”.

His mothers mood dampened a little.  She loved the agreement her youngest had with her eldest, it helped both Max and Alec cope with what trauma had done to his body.  “I wish you didn’t have to get them in ‘sets’” she spoke softly as she followed Alec through the loft.  “Perhaps we try extra hard for these to be your last ones?”.

Alec glanced at her as he headed back to his mixing bowl.  “I can promise to try”.

“I suppose that will have to do” she gave in reluctantly.  Sitting down at the table, crossing her leg over the other knee she watched him silently for a moment.

He did look well.  His usually porcelain skin had a hint of honey notes where the sun had kissed him and there was some relaxation in his stance.  But as she looked closer at his shoulders there was a tenseness there, it was slight, but it was there.

“Why did you cut your trip short?” she asked, and saw the immediate pinch of his shoulder blades.

“Just… missing family”, he smiled tentatively at her, checking to see if she was fooled.  Of course she wasn’t, but she let it go and he was grateful.

“How are you feeling?” she asked cautiously.  “About the trial?”.

Alec was satisfied with the batter so he collected a pan and, adding a little butter, he started to heat it on the stove next to the kettle.  “Okay, I’ve done my fair share of testifying” he pointed out, going for humour but missing the mark.  “Will you tell Max now?”.

Maryse, Luke, Alec and Magnus had discussed their trip before they left as Alec was refusing to leave New York.  With the trial looming he wanted to be close to support his little brother and, therefore, Maryse and Luke had decided they would only tell Max the actual date the trial would start when they returned from their trip.  Alec hadn’t been sure initially, his brother was smart so he would know when it was coming, Ragnor would have to do trial prep with him.

But Luke had been adamant he would be able to talk his way around the actual date so, after a reassuring conversation with Ragnor as well, Alec had relented.

Now though, it would soon be the time to let him know, and his brother had been so happy this evening that Alec was full of sorrow at the thought of pulling the ground from beneath his feet.

“Yes, now that you’re back we will.  But not this very moment” she smiled at her eldest and he smiled back, then nodded and started pouring batter into the pan.

The kettle whistled and Maryse stood, making her way over to take it off the heat, Magnus was insistent the kettle be boiled on the lowest heat, not caring that it took ten times as long to get there, because it made the water ‘sweeter’.  She located the tea pot and filled it with the water only then took it over to the table, placing it down gently before returning to the cupboard to take out two cups.

“Mom, you need four…”.

“Oh no sweetie” she laughed lightly.  “As soon as Max and Magnus returned I will be taking your brother home.  You two should have an evening by yourselves to settle back in”.

At that they heard footsteps, one set moving with cat like grace and one thundering through the loft at their usual speed.

Max burst into the kitchen, “We decided!” he exclaimed at Alec, then spotted Maryse.  “Hey mom!”.

“Calm down Max” she tried but she couldn’t keep the amusement off her face.

Before Magnus could catch up with Max, Alec heard his cell go off and he answered it, sounding surprised but he was still too far away for Alec hear what was being said.

“Magnus is happy with your choices?” Alec asked.

Max nodded, looking over his shoulder where he could see Magnus through the doors, a slight frown on his face.  “He said it was up to me as it always is, he’ll be happy with how you look with any of them”.

Alec’s cheeks blushed again but he was saved from further comment when Magnus finally arrived in the kitchen, holding up his cell towards Alec.

“It’s Luke” he announced and, when he reached Alec and handed his cell over, he then placed his hands on Max’s shoulders from behind.

“Maximillian, I believe we have a gift for you… perhaps you would like to come with me to dig it out of your brother’s suitcase?”.

“Sure” he let Magnus walk past him, the older man blowing a kiss in Maryse direction as he passed her, then Max followed, “But I am going nowhere near his dirty underwear” they heard him warn as they disappeared out of the room.

Alec looked worriedly at Maryse when he pressed the phone to his ear but she looked clueless and shook her head slowly, whatever it was, she didn’t know about it yet.

“Hey Luke” he said.

“Hey son” he greeted warmly, but there was something beneath his tone.  “Glad to have you back”.

“Most people have been surprised we’re back?” he said it as a question, Luke would know what he was asking.

“Yeah, I was going to have to ask you to cut your trip short anyway” he drew in a deep breath.  “They pulled the trial forward, it starts on Tuesday”.

The spatula dropped from Alec’s hand and any colour he had gained in his face slipped away at the thought of having to face Sebastian Verlac in two days time.

Chapter Text

“Alec?” heard Luke through the phone.

“Alec?” and Maryse as she moved over to his side.

He shook himself out of it quickly, knowing Max was just a room away.  He couldn’t do this, he had to be strong and it was an embarrassment that he was struggling again, he was an embarrassment…  He forced his thoughts down, burying them deep in the same place as the dreams that had been haunting him.

“I heard” he said, holding a palm up to Maryse to indicate that he was fine.  She gave him a little more room but didn’t go far.  “I’ll be there”.

“It’s Will and Mattius on day one, you don’t need to be there” Luke reminded him, Alec could hear the protective instinct in his surrogate father’s voice.

“I do” he argued but with no heat.  “I promised to be there for Will”.

His thoughts wandered to the young man who had woken from his coma after six weeks.  It had been a long road to recovery after damage was discovered affecting his mobility.  The doctors had advised that he should be able to regain his ability to use his motor functions fully but he would need to work hard.  As of now he was able to move around at home, but long distances still required the use of a wheelchair.  Alec had visited him several times, both at home and during physio, they had built a friendship of sorts and Will had asked for his support on the day he would testify.  Alec had, of course, promised to be there.

“I’ll coordinate with Ragnor, but thanks for letting me know” he said quietly.

“Anyone would think you had a sixth sense, coming home early” Luke tried to lighten the mood.

“Not me…” and then he thought about how he’d been hiding his fears but Magnus had seen them anyway.  “But maybe Magnus does”.

“Magnus does what?” Max asked as he came in, carrying the Barong mask in both hands, a huge grin on his face.

“What’s that hun?” Maryse asked, attempting to distract her youngest but smiling a little too brightly and Max immediately looked suspicious, but decided he wouldn’t push it.

“Umm, thanks Luke.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow?” Alec said, trying to be nonchalant as Max watched him.

“Speak then kiddo” and Luke hung up.

Max handed his mother the mask for her to look at, letting her take it over to the table so she could put it down and he would be free to try and silently intimidate his brother solely with his eyes and eyebrows.  He hadn’t quite mastered the skill in the same way as Alec had.

“So…” Alec cleared his throat and his eyes flicked between Max and Magnus.  “You’ve picked the runes?”.  ‘You can do this’ he thought, ‘just relax’.

Magnus was watching him cautiously, though he played along.  “We have indeed.  Runes have been selected and agreed”.

Max turned back to Alec and grinned widely.

Alec narrowed his eyes and looked at his boyfriend again, who now looked a little too smug for his liking.  “Why do I feel like I am going to regret letting this…” he indicated to the pairing before him with Magnus’ cell, “…happen?”.

“Don’t be concerned Alexander” Magnus reassured as he headed for the cabinet to fetch his teas, picking up the spatula from the floor and dropping it into the sink as he passed, flashing Alec a knowing look.  “They are as beautiful as you”.

“It’s not the aesthetics I’m worried about”, he mumbled, “It’s what they mean.  Judging by the looks on your faces, at least one of them must have a double entendre”.

Magnus had his little wooden box of teas and, as he passed Alec again, he let a hand slid across his stomach.  “All will be fine my love.  Your pancake is burning”.

“Shit”, Alec spun around, grabbing another spatula out of the drawer and lifted the pan.  He inspected his first attempt, deciding it was unsalvageable and taking the four steps needed to scrape it into the trash can.

Magnus sat down at the table and selected suitable teas for him and Alec then proceeded to make their drinks.  “Maryse, you don’t have a cup?” he stated.

“Oh, I need to get Max home Magnus, and I am sure you two are exhausted” she explained kindly.

“It was quite the trip home” Magnus agreed as he sipped his tea carefully.  “Some parts were especially exhausting”.

Alec choked on his own spit but recovered quickly and threw Magnus a pointed look, his wide eyes indicating to Max.

Magnus just grinned back wickedly.

“Oh” Max suddenly said, “I have news!!”.

“Oh” Maryse followed her son.  “Yes he does” and the pride on her face was clear.

“What’s going on?” Alec decided not to start cooking another pancake just yet.

“MIT have invited me to complete short program with them where they’ll let me experience a taster of all their qualifications on offer” Max grinned, all of his teeth on display.

“Wh…” Alec started, stopped, then huffed.  “Max, that’s amazing!”.

“Congratulations Maximillian” Magnus praised him.  “You deserve it”.

He shrugged.  “They’re only doing it because I still haven’t decided if I want to go there yet and they want to convince me it’s the best place”.

“When will you leave?” Alec felt a twinge of sadness along with the abundance of happiness in his heart at the thought of his youngest brother moving to Boston.

“Well, they said this one I can do remotely as long as I can get the right set up at home.  They’re sending me specifications of everything I need and mom said it would be okay”.  Max also seemed relieved that he wouldn’t have to move away from his home and family just yet.

“We should celebrate” Magnus suggested enthusiastically.

Maryse looked guilty.  “Actually…”.

“Mom wanted me to have party, but I don’t want to have it at home cause it’s stuffy there and I want to have it somewhere cool” Max explained, looking a little nervous. “Soooo, I was hoping that maybe I could have it here…”.

“An excellent idea Maximillian, what do you have planned?” Magnus immediately jumped on the idea, not a single hesitation and Alec swelled with love for him.

“Magnus, you don’t have to…” he started, wanting to reassure Magnus that if he really didn’t want Max’s friends invading their home he didn’t have to.

“Shush Alexander”, he gave him a mock glare, “Didn’t you hear, I’m ‘cool’”.

“What I heard was, the loft is cool” Alec corrected which just earned him another hush before Magnus turned back to the youngest Lightwood.

“So, what theme are we going with?” he asked, leaning forward eagerly.

“Ummm” Max looked at Maryse, unsure.

“Maybe Magnus could make some recommendations?” she encouraged him gently.

Max looked to Magnus who grinned broadly.  “It’s one of my favourite things to do.  I once threw a party at the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.  Though that wasn’t so much a party as it was an illegal rave, we weren’t technically supposed to be there…”.

“Magnus!” both Maryse and Alec interrupted him before he got any further in front of Max.

They startled him out of his thoughts.  “Right, of course.  Maximillian, we will meet and plot together to come up with the perfect theme.  Have a think and we can discuss again tomorrow, you need to consider decorations, entertainment, drinks, catering and of course your guest list”.

Max looked panicked and Alec laughed.  “Max, just let Magnus do what he wants.  You won’t feel confused or overwhelmed and it will be awesome”.

Magnus preened under the complement, “Why thank you darling”.

“Okay” Maryse stood up, “On that note, I think we will leave you boys to it”.

Max picked up his mask, “Thank you again for my gift Magnus”.

“Oh you thanked me when you saw it Max, no need for a second one” he reassured the youngster.

“Thanks Alec” he turned to his brother.  “I love it!”.

“Did Magnus tell you about the mythology…”.

“Oh I already know it” Max admitted and Alec rolled his eyes, mumbling ‘of course you do’ under his breath which put a smirk on Max’s face.

“Come on” Maryse poked her son in the side and he started to move towards the front door.  Magnus went to stand but Maryse put a hand on his shoulder to keep him in place.  “Stay, relax and have your dinner” she lent down and kissed his cheek, whispering in his ear, “Thank you Magnus, he looks so well”.

Magnus winked at her as she straightened up and she smiled back before going over to Alec and kissing his cheek as well.  “I love you baby”.

“Love you too mom” he replied and then watched her leave, hearing the door close behind them before he turned to Magnus who looked worried again.

“Do you want to talk about Luke’s call?” he asked softly.

Alec sighed then shook his head and turned back to his batter.  “Not tonight, it can wait until tomorrow”.

Magnus was concerned when he had returned to the kitchen and found the spatula on the floor, Alec breathing fast and his face pale.  He had gathered himself together quickly but Magnus knew that was for Max’s benefit and the feelings were still there, bubbling under the surface.

But, he let it go for now as Alec had requested.  So instead he turned his thoughts to his own conversation with Luke and how he could get Alec to that award ceremony.

 

*****

 

The next morning Lydia, Andrew and Maia met in the small room that had been assigned to Luke’s homicide team one, which Alec was leading.

The renovations were still going on and the whole place was a mess of open ceilings, plastics tarps, hanging wires, free standing flood lights and step ladders as well as a perpetual covering of plaster dust on everything.  All of which was annoying enough but adding in the noise of drilling, nailing and the clattering of materials with a continuous smell of wet paint and new carpet in the air and Lydia was not finding it a conducive environment for concentration.

Thankfully two rooms on their floor had been finished and Luke had snapped them up for his two homicide teams.

The new floor design had changed the open plan office to closed rooms for each team.  Those rooms had been furnished with two computer stations which were connected to large smartboards and they had also been provided with new meeting tables and ergonomic chairs, as well as coffee stations.

The money injection had been supported ferociously by Mayor Herondale and, though the press were not fooled for a moment, she was insisting the changes were needed because there had been too many leaks to the press relating to ongoing investigations.  The access to all the rooms would be secured with key card locks and only those working on the cases being handled by the team would be able to gain entry.  Simon, having been cleared of any wrong doing in the Verlac investigation, had been asked to build the system and so far it had been a success.  The parts that had gone active so far had reduced leaks considerably.

Right now, Lydia was making coffees while Andrew and Maia started putting the details of their most recent case up on the board.  She was waiting for the water to boil and listening half-heartedly to her two colleagues discussion when there was a knock on the window in their door and she turned to see Jace grinning in at them.

Lydia smiled and opened the door to let him in.

“Morning” he greeted happily as he walked in, swinging his bike helmet in one hand, and Maia took the moment to walk over and give her old partner a hug.

“Hey” she pulled back with a smile on her face.  “How you doing?” she looked him up and down and saw he was in civilian clothes.  “You’re not on shift today?”.

He shrugged, “Luke called me in, wants to talk to me about something”.

“How’s the new partner going?” Lydia asked, her voice laced with humour.

Jace groaned, “God he’s annoying” he moaned as he dropped into a chair.

“This is what?” Andrew asked, pausing mid-type on his computer in order to think, “The fourth one?”.

“Sixth” Jace corrected.

Maia snorted, “See what I had to put up with” she spoke smugly.  “Five officers have asked to be reassigned to new partners…”.

“Toughened you up for the next step in your career” he pointed out.

Lydia picked up the jug of coffee and looked at Jace but he shook his head.

“Thanks, but I have to see Luke in five minutes, then I’m out of here” he explained, his eyes glinting.

“Ah,” Maia chuckled, “Hot date with a hot red-head by any chance”.

His grin widened.  “Not exactly a date, I’m helping her and Meliorn move some heavy stands around the gallery for some exhibition”.

Before Lydia could ask anything further, she had been to a number of exhibits at the Fray’s gallery and enjoyed every one of them, there was a beep indicating the door had unlocked and Luke stuck his head in.

“Quit distracting my team Jace” he said good-naturedly, “Come on, I need to talk to you”. 

He swung the door wider as Jace stood, the younger man waved to say goodbye to the team and then followed his father figure all the way to the captains office.

Jace hadn’t really thought too much about what Luke may want to talk to him about, until the man closed his office door, something he only did when a serious conversation was needed.

Jace took one of the seats in front of Luke’s desk, placing his helmet down on the other then waited for Luke to settle in his own chair.

“Okay, couple of things…”.

“Am I in the shit for something?” he blurted out, interrupting.

Luke looked surprised, then grinned.  “Guilty conscience son?”.

Jace blushed, “No” he denied as a mumble while he looked at his feet.

“I’ll do good, bad, good then” he said and lent forward, his elbows resting on the table.  “Alec and Magnus are home early, they got in yesterday evening”.

Jace looked up, eyes wide and a broad smile on his face, “Oh cool!” he wouldn’t deny how much he had missed his brother.  But then he frowned, “Wait, why?”.

“I don’t actually know… but it was fortuitous” he cleared his throat.  “Verlac’s trial has been brought forward, it starts tomorrow”.

Jace’s face darkened, “Well, I guess the sooner it starts the sooner the fucker gets what he deserves”.

Luke nodded, “We all know the timing isn’t great.  Verlac’s trail is going to overlap the year anniversary of Alec’s abduction… we need to keep a close eye on how Alec is doing…”.

“I fully intend to” Jace reassured with determination.

“And that brings me to point three, the final bit of good news”.

Jace raised an eyebrow.

“We have a detective’s spot open and I know you have been considering the move since Maia made it and you’ve had trouble… breaking in a new partner”.

“That’s the nice way of putting it” Jace retorted.

“I spoke with the brass, quite frankly the applicants that I’ve had leave a lot to be desired and you did some great work on the Verlac case…”.

Jace’s face started to look suspicious.

“I know you haven’t made a firm decision, and you haven’t taken your detectives exams, but I’ve had permission to take you on as a secondment into the junior detective role, open ended.  You’ll be under our new lead and it’ll be an opportunity to get more practical experience and knowledge for when you do take the exams… if you decide to take the exams” he corrected.

Jace took a deep breath.  It was a great opportunity, he’d be able to learn on the job which was always easier for him than from studying books.  Clary had been encouraging him to move up as well, not to  mention the salary bump would help them out with the apartment.

“And, you’d be closer to Alec than you would be in uniform” Luke added.

Jace snorted, Luke sure did know him well.  “Okay” he agreed, “When do I start?”.

“You were back on shift tomorrow morning, that works for us too” he suggested.

Jace stood, reaching for his helmet.  “Can I tell Alec?”.

“Sure thing”, Luke stood and held his hand out, Jace paused for a moment but then shook it.  “And this isn’t nepotism Jace, you earned this.  It was a suggestion from higher up that I supported wholeheartedly”.

The blonde hadn’t even realised he had been worried about that, but Luke’s words had eased the squirm that was in his gut and given his confidence a boost.

“Thanks Luke” he replied quietly, letting his hand drop.  “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

“Stop in with Simon first. He’ll get your key card for the department sorted then be here at 8:00am and I’ll introduce you to the team”.

Jace gave him a casual salute to indicate he understood as he opened the door and headed back out, already pulling his cell from his inside jacket pocket.

 

*****

 

Alec had to close his eyes, letting his head drop back against the headboard of their bed, and hold his breath as Magnus, knees gripping his hips, slowly sank down onto him.  Alec had to steel himself, trying to keep his mind clear of any thought that would add to the pure bliss he felt as he was enveloped in Magnus’ silken heat.

Once Magnus had settled in his lap and Alec had bottomed out, he let his breath out with a filthy groan and Magnus’ laugh had him lifting his head back up, meeting golden eyes whose pupils were blown wide. 

“I thought we’d managed to take the edge off earlier sayang” he whispered as he linked his arms around Alec’s neck, taking a moment to adjust to his boyfriend’s generous appendage.

Alec kissed him softly, his own hands sliding around Magnus’ waist and then down to his ass, both squeezing a cheek each.

“I don’t know if we can call what you did with your mouth ‘taking the edge off’” he replied, his voice rough even to his ears.  “We’ll be lucky if I last much longer”.

“Humm” Magnus rubbed their noses together, “You aren’t the one with a perfect cock pressed against his prostrate love”, then he gave his hips a gentle roll to see if he was ready.

“Fuck Magnus” Alec groaned out, not sure if it was in relation to his movements or his words.  “You’re perfect”.

“So you say” he replied, then lent in and clamp his mouth over Alec’s in a deep, filthy kiss that was all tongue.

At the same time, he started rolling his hips, picking up pace as he moved, Alec’s frenulum sawing over his prostrate and encouraging him up to a bruising tempo.

Alec was seeing stars in seconds, feeling the heat and tightness in his stomach, the tingling up his spine and down to his toes.  He pulled away from the kiss, needing air and Magnus didn’t seem to object, breaths coming in heavy pants.

Magnus hands locked together behind Alec’s neck, using it as an anchor as he chased his climax.  Alec watched the lines of his face as he climbed.  Magnus’ eyes closed, lashes fluttering against his cheeks which were flushed pink.  The sweat glistening on his brow which held a frown of concentration, his full, pink, rose bud lips parted in a silent ‘oh’.

‘Fuck’ he thought as he moved in tandem with his boyfriend, gripping hold of his lover and hanging on tightly, ‘he’s beautiful’

Of course, Magnus was always beautiful, but never more so than when he was in throes of passion and Alec was struggling not to fall over the edge.

“Magnus…” he whispered out a warning.

“I know” Magnus replied, sounding equally as affected.  He rocked harder and faster again, his hips snapping backwards, drawing Alec out to the tip, then thrusting forward again, driving him deep into his body.

Alec opened his mouth to warn again but all that came out was a moan.

“Stay with me” Magnus demanded, his voice strained.

Alec watched him for the familiar signs on his face, one hand moving from his boyfriends ass to slid around and across the firm plane of his stomach, reaching between Magnus’ thighs… and then he could have cried when his cell, charging on the bedside table, went off.

“Fuck!” Magnus swore, his rhythm stuttering.

“Ignore it” Alec ordered desperately, his other hand skimming up the sweep of Magnus’ back, over his neck and into his hair.

He didn’t stop, but he did slow for a moment, “You’re a cop Alec, it could be important…” Magnus panted the words out and although he had a point, he didn’t actually mean it.

“I don’t care” Alec said quickly then pulled Magnus down into another kiss, making him forget all about the phone call.  It rang out to voicemail and Magnus found his rhythm again, Alec groaning into his mouth each time he slid back in, Magnus body gripping him tightly.

“Okay” Magnus muttered deliriously, “right there…”.

Alec could see the focus back on Magnus face and it pushed his own arousal higher, he felt his balls draw up and, his hand finding Magnus’ cock again, he gripped him firmly, panting ‘yes’ out on every heaved breath as he started to move his hand up and down his lover’s length.

“There, there…” Magnus continued, a stream of words that Alec heard but was no longer present enough to process as he felt himself start to tip over the edge.

Then his fucking cell went off again.

“Fuck’s sake!” Magnus yelled in frustration and raised himself off of Alec, flinging himself down on his back beside him.

“Shit!” Alec snapped in fury, bereft at the loss of Magnus and a missed orgasm.  He lent over and snatched his cell off the side, sliding the screen to answer it and snapping, “What!” be bellowed breathlessly.

His eyes found Magnus, laid beside him in all his naked glory, one arm above his head, the other one laid across his stomach as he tried to get his breath back.  He wasn’t even listening to the voice in his ear.

“What?” he said again, an annoyed frown on his face as Magnus sat up, slipped off the bed and grabbed his silk robe, pulling it on as he walked towards the door.

“I said” Jace’s voice rang out, sounding a little too smug for his liking, “Am I interrupting?”.

“Jace?” Alec said it as though he didn’t quite comprehend why his brother was calling him.

Magnus heard the name and froze, then turned slowly and, with a devious look on his face, he started back toward the bed, stripping out of his robe again as he moved.

“The one and only.  What are you doing?” the blonde asked.

Alec stared at Magnus who was now almost back to the bed, directly at his side and Alec couldn’t tear his eyes away from his naked boyfriend who was still shimmering with sweat.

“I’m in the gym” even he was surprised his brain was functioning enough to come out with that coherent lie, and Magnus’ raised eyebrow seemed to agree.

"Sure” his brother didn’t sound convinced.  “On your day off you use the gym?”.

“As you know it’s my day off, why the fuck are you calling me?” he snapped, watching with apprehension as Magnus crawled onto the bed and knelt between Alec’s legs.

“I was just with Luke, he said you and Magnus were back.  He’s given me an opportunity to work in homicide and, as I’ve been thinking abut taking the detective exams…” he paused when he heard Alec’s sharp intake of breath.  “Alright,” he was a little insulted, “its not that big a shock!”.

Alec stared at Magnus who had just swallowed him down in one go and hadn’t even realised he made a noise until Jace passed comment.

“What?” he gulped hard and then clamped his eyes closed because it must have given Magnus ideas and he did the same thing again.

“The detective’s exams, I’m going to take them.  Will you help me?” his brother repeated.

“This couldn’t wait until tomorrow?” Alec’s head hit the headboard hard as Magnus started to bob up and down his length and he was sure his voice had gone up an octave.

“It can, I just didn’t realise you were so dedicated to your training schedule” his brother snarked.

“Get to the point Jace!” Alec actually growled as he struggled to stay composed while Magnus was trying to suck his brain out through his cock.

“I’ve been seconded to the new guys team, I’m starting in homicide tomorrow” Jace explained.

“Okay, congratulations.  I’ll call you later. Bye!” and he hung up before letting out a guttural moan as Magnus tongue circled his head.  He flung his phone on the floor, grabbed Magnus by the biceps and pulled him up into a bruising kiss.

Magnus couldn’t help but laugh against his lips and Alec shook his head.

“You’re a menace Magnus Bane” he whispered, then wrapped his arm around his waist and spun them so he was laid over the top of the older man, pressing him into the mattress. 

“Now, you’ll take your punishment” and, using a hand to quickly line himself up, he pushed back into Magnus, watching as he melted down into the pillows, eyes rolling back into his head as he hissed out a feverish ‘yessssss’.

Chapter Text

Three hours later, Alec and Magnus found themselves, my some miracle, dressed and, coffees in hand, on their way up the steps to the precinct, their spare hands linked tightly together.

They had been walking in a comfortable silence since they had left the coffee shop, enjoying the mid-day sun and that unavoidable smugness that came from watching people bustle around you to and from work while they were able to stroll leisurely to their meeting with Ragnor and Luke.

Magnus had called Ragnor first thing that morning, before Alec had even woken.  Despite what Alec had said last night about the call with Luke, he knew something had happened and the one thing monopolising Alec’s mind right now was Sebastian’s trial.

Luke had already called Ragnor and updated him that the couple had come back from their vacation early, so he had already been up and trying to calculate a suitable time to attempt a call himself.

Instead he had been pleasantly surprised to get the call from Magnus.

 

~~~~~

 

“My dear boy” he exclaimed warmly when he picked up the call, “How was the vacation?”.

  “Wonderful” Magnus replied honestly, because it had been.  They’d taken a week in Indonesia and he had been able to show Alec his home town, close to the sea giving them the benefit of renting a secluded holiday home with it’s own private beach.  He’d imagined Alec stretched out on the sand many times during the planning, but it turned out he’d grossly underestimated the Adonis that was Alec Lightwood.  Because Alec sunbathing on the beach was a vision… but Alec swimming naked was exquisite.

 “Magnus!” Ragnor snapped.

“Sorry Ragnor, I drifted off for a moment then” he shook his head a little as he checked the date on the eggs in the refrigerator.

“I asked why you came home early?” he repeated, taking an educated guess at where Magnus’ mind likely was.

Magnus straightened up, forgetting about eggs and instead, moved into the lounge so he was a little further away from the bedroom, just in case.

"The trial has been praying on Alec’s mind.  As it was getting closer he was finding it harder to focus on the vacation and… trying to push it back was only forcing the anxiety forward as nightmares”  Magnus explained.  “He was trying to hide it from me…”.

“Of course he was” Ragnor said, sympathetically.

“But…” Magnus sighed.  “Being away from home, from his family… he needs us all to be his support network, sooner than we thought.  So we came home”. 

Magnus felt a little guilty telling Ragnor this, though he knew deep down Alec would understand.  Magnus needed support from his friends in order to be able to help Alec.

“Well, it seems your timing is as impeccable as always” he pointed out.  “We’ve brought the trial forward, it starts on Tuesday with opening statements, then Will and Mattius will testify”.

“When does Alec need to give his first testimony?” Magnus asked, checking over his shoulder to ensure that Alec wasn’t up yet.

“Wednesday”.

Magnus hissed in a breath, that was short notice for Alec to adjust.

Ragnor guessed.  “Come in the precinct at 1:00pm, we’ll have lunch and go through the new timeline.  I’ll be in Luke’s office and we can make sure Alec knows exactly what to expect.  I’ll go through the full witness list as well”.

“Okay” Magnus felt a small amount of relief, it would give Alec a modicum of control and Magnus knew that would go some ways to helping with his anxiety.  “Thank you Ragnor”.

“I’ll see you 1:00pm” and he hung up.

 

~~~~~

 

That was how they found themselves heading up the steps to the precinct, hand in hand.  And that was how Magnus could feel Alec’s hesitation the closer they got to the doors.

Magnus stopped and turned to face his boyfriend, one step up from where Alec had halted which actually put him slightly taller than Alec for once.

“You okay?” he asked him softly, aware there were people moving around them.

Alec cleared his throat.  “Yeah, I’m fine”.

Magnus smiled sadly, “See, that tone tells me you mean you are ‘Lightwood fine’ which in normal people terms means, you are not fine at all”.

He huffed out a laugh/sigh and averted his eyes, looking to Magnus left.  “I’m… I just thought I would have more time to prepare before seeing him again”.

Magnus let go of Alec’s hand in favour of running his fingers through his hair, watching as Alec’s eyes fluttered closed at his touch.

“I wish you didn’t have to do this love” he soothed as best he could.

“I got his confession” Alec opened his eyes and looked up at Magnus.  “We shouldn’t have to have a trial at all”.

“His attorney made some low moves, but a judge sided with him” Magnus’ heart felt heavy, he really had hoped that Alec’s efforts, despite feeling the affects of the attack on him and a yin fen overdose, would have been enough for Sebastian to plead guilty and be sentenced quickly.

But Lorenzo had failed to file the forms stating Alec was fit for duty, rendering the interview inadmissible because, as Pangborn had argued, it had been conducted by a civilian, not a serving officer.

Alec looked up at the building, his heart thudding in his chest.  He felt rung out, if it wasn’t Sebastian on his mind it was Jonathan and if it wasn’t him it was Valentine…  He took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out slowly through his mouth.

Magnus lent forward, sliding his hand around Alec’s shoulders and pressing his lips softly against his forehead.  “He’s not going to get away with this my love” he whispered, his lips brushing Alec’s skin.

Alec closed his eyes again, focusing on the brush of Magnus’ silken lips as he spoke, then the firm press of the kiss he gave him in the same spot and took another deep breath, this time taking in the smell of sandalwood.

“Okay” he said as Magnus drew back again.  “Let’s go a see what Ragnor and Luke have to say”.

 

*****

 

She sat outside the small café, sipping her espresso and enjoying the entertainment of people moving around her, going about their lives.  There were couples heading out to an early dinner, individuals making their way home from work, a woman utilising both her hands holding on to two small boys and the never ending stream of tourists, mostly happy though she couldn’t help but smirk at the young couple engaged in a very public argument about how to get to a street that was 300yrds behind them.

She was disturbed from her thoughts when her cell rang and, when she saw it was Malcolm, she picked it up immediately.

She had been ignoring all other calls and she knew she was neglecting her business.  But she was in mourning for her son and, as far as she was concerned, her staff were entitled to compassionate leave and so was she.  They just differed on the therapy they chose to partake in.

“Malcolm” she greeted warmly.

“Ma’am” he replied.  “How is your trip?”.

She took in a deep breath, the screams from this morning still echoing in her ears and a smile spread across her face.  “Satisfying” she replied.

“I’ve made contact with all parties” he informed her.  “I’m going to be collecting the goods later today and I have a meeting arranged at the property this week.  I need two associates to help me deliver everything so they are in the right location”.

“Will two be enough?” she asked as she sipped her coffee again.  “I want this to go smoothly, there is no room for error”.  It was a warning as much as an order.

It was also unnecessary, he knew the consequences for failure, he’d dealt out enough of the ordered punishments himself.

“Two will be more than enough” he said with confidence.

She licked her lips.  To any outsider she just a customer enjoying the remnants of the last sip of coffee.  But anyone who knew the woman, and what she was discussing with her second in command, they would know she was trying to taste the blood that was anticipated if their plan worked the way it should.

“I’ll send you some names” she promised.

“Ma’am” and he was gone.

She used her phone, accessing her secure server and selecting two of their freelancers that were based in New York, ensuring they had the required skills for the job at hand.  Once she had made her selections she sent their details to Malcolm and notified the two men to expect him in the next few days.

With that done she locked her phone and dropped it into her bag then waved over the waiter, she suddenly felt like celebrating with a liqueur and Babas au Rhum.

 

*****

 

Maia followed Andrew as they approached the five story, red brick, corner building, weaving their way through the busy crowds that were passing by on the sidewalk that was paved with dirty and cracked paving slabs.

The streets that intersected to put this building on a corner were busy and the sound of honking, shouts and revving engines only marginally drowned out the raucous noise made by pedestrians, no small amount appearing to be intoxicated.

The building’s entrance was directly on the corner, the wall flat with a single door set into it, a weathered canopy the only protection from the elements.  Both the left and right side ran parallel, widening the further back, meaning the back of the building was actually five times wider than the front.  Above the front door single windows went all the way up to the fifth floor, showing a winding staircase.

It looked like a sleazy motel, and Andrew knew that it actually had once been exactly that.  Now though it had been retained by a charity and was a halfway house for recently released prisoners looking for a roof over their hedge while they settle back into civilian life.

It was run by a particularly formidable nun, Sister Delores, who Andrew had met while he had been seconded to the special victims unit after Verlac’s arrest and while the internal case review was ongoing.  She not only worked with ex-convicts but she arranged for and assisted with medical aid for the sex workers in the area.

She was afraid of no one, believed everyone deserved a chance but took no nonsense.  She was also a black belt in Wing Chun.  Andrew liked her.

He used the buzzer at the door and made sure both himself and Maia could be seen by the camera, the pair of them holding up their badges so they could be easily identified.

He heard the door click and pulled it open, letting Maia go through first before following after her and closing it securely.

“Well as I live and breath…” a deep husky voice rang out, laced with amusement.

Andrew grinned at Delores as she headed towards them.

She was a 5’ 11”, mid 30’s, Irish/American with pale skin, brown eyes, auburn hair cut in a pixie crop and a voice better suited to a sex line worker.  She was dressed in blue jeans that were tucked into combat boots, a white blouse with a knitted grey tank top adding warmth to her core.  She wore her glasses on a chain around her neck and Andrew loved every one of her contradictory fashion choices.

“Detective Underhill” she held out her hand once she had reached them and Andrew shook it warmly.  “I thought we’d parted ways?”.

“Good to see you Sister…”.

“Call me that a second time and I’ll slap you upside your head… again” her eyes twinkled as she teased him.

“Delores” he corrected.  “Maia, this is the indomitable Sister Delores.  Delores, this is Detective Maia Roberts”.

Delores shook Maia’s hand and, as a martial arts aficionado herself, even she was surprised by the strength of the Sister’s grip.

“Good to meet you Maia, though not to see you” she turned to Andrew, “I rarely get a visit from the police that doesn’t bring bad news?” she explained further.

Andrew nodded at Maia, encouraging her to take the lead.

“We’d like to speak with Mr Ricky Pedrosa, we need to deliver a death notification and also ask him a few questions” she explained.

Delores’ eyes showed the sorrow as she took in Maia’s news and she sighed heavily.  “His brother?”.

Maia looked surprised, “Yes” she confirmed.

“Any reason you went straight to his brother?” Andrew asked, wondering if she knew something about the brother’s life.

“Not really” she explained and started to turn back to the door she had come through, jerking her head to indicate they should follow her.  “Most of Ricky’s family are still in Mexico, I only know of the brother being in New York.  Quite the business man from what Ricky has told me”.

She used a card to get through the secure door and it opened out into a lobby.  There was a single elevator to the left and the steps leading up and back towards the entrance wall to the right.  There was a small, curved desk in the far left corner where a black man in roughly his mid to late twenties sat, white shirt slightly wrinkled and his tie off centre.

He smiled warmly, showing yellow teeth, several of which were broken, and stuck his hand out.  “Good afternoon officers” he said cheerfully.

Andrew shook his hand warmly, Maia following his example.

“Welcome to our home.  I’m Del, can I help at all?” he spoke chirpily, clearly putting recently learnt customer service skills into practice.

“Thanks Del” Delores gave him a smile and it was full of motherly pride.  “Can you run up and ask Ricky to come down to my office please?”.

“Sure thing D” he said with enthusiasm and dashed off towards the stairs.

Delores took up walking again, Andrew and Maia following her through double doors, turning right immediately and, three steps later she was pulling a key chain from out of her pocket and using one to open a door.

“Del has been taking just about every course we offer here, determined to stay off crack and get back on the straight and narrow” she was explaining as she moved.  “He wanted some work experience to put on his resumé and I said he could do some hours on reception”.

“Some positive steps” Andrew remarked as he took in the small but neatly maintained office.

Delores slid behind the desk and nodded to one of the two chairs but both Maia and Andrew declined, feeling it was more respectful to be standing when this kind of news was delivered.

“Do you know if they were close?” Maia asked while they waited, Andrew letting her go with it.

“Close enough for Carlos to have visited a few times and he’d also come by every Friday to take him out for the evening.  Always had him back for curfew…”

She stopped as there was a knock on the door and, when she called out to come in, a slightly older and much slimmer, version of the man they had seen the day before came in.

“You wanted to see me D?” Ricky asked.

“Have a seat Ricky” she said and her eyes followed him as he took the chair furthest away from the two detectives.  “This is Detective Underhill and Detective Roberts, they’d like to talk to you”.

He nodded and turned to the pair, Maia taking a step forward.

“Mr Pedrosa…”.

“Ricky” he corrected gruffly, “Otherwise I’m looking over my shoulder for my father.  And no one wants him here, trust me”.

Maia nodded.  “Ricky.  I’m sorry to have to advise you, but your brother, Carlos, died this morning and we are investigating his death as a homicide”.

Ricky watched her carefully for a quiet moment.  Maia waited him out, she’d had her formal training for notifying surviving relatives as well as having asked her colleagues extensively for their experiences.  Some were sad, some were violent, some were emotionless, some happy and there was even the damn right bizarre (though no one was actually able to catch the Llama so she wasn’t entirely sure how they could prove it happened).

Ricky appeared to be one of the emotionless.  “Well, I wasn’t expecting that” he said finally.  “You did good though kid, that was nicely delivered” he praised.

Maia opened her mouth, realised she had no idea what to say next so closed it and looked at Andrew.

He stepped in smoothly, now sitting in the chair opposite Ricky so he could speak with him on the same level.

“Were you and Carlos close?” he asked.

“Not so much growing up” he answered honestly.  “There was ten years between us so, by the time he was old enough to want to spend time with me, I was of an age when it wasn’t cool to have your little brother hanging around.  Then I got in with the wrong kinds of people and I… well, I spent a lot of time in and out of the joint”.

“When did you reconnect?” Maia asked.

“Bout 12 years ago” he said, a frown on his face.  “He came to visit me, talked about his job and all his plans.  Said he valued family, wanted to help out when I finally got out.  Visited me every week after that, even when he had flu and emptied his lunch all over the floor…” he laughed at the memory.

“Delores said he held true to his word, he’s been by to visit and you would spend Fridays with him?” Andrew took up the interview again.

Ricky nodded.  “Yeah, Friday was the day he’d visit me on Wrangle Island, liked a routine did Carlos”.

“Did you even meet any of his friends?” Andrew asked.

He shook his head, “Nah, he kept it me and him.  He talked a lot on the phone with his partner though, he might know more”.

“A colleague is following up with him” Maia assured him.

“Where would you and your brother go?” Andrew asked.

“Huh?” Ricky asked.

Andrew didn’t miss that and, judging from the look on Delores face, neither did she.

“You said you and your brother spent every Friday evening together.  Where?” he pressed.

Ricky paused just log enough to confirm to Andrew that they needed to check up on this story.  “Devil’s Tavern” he eventually supplied.

“Bit of a dive” Andrew pointed out, “You weren’t worried about getting mixed up in something that could have violated your parole?”

Ricky shrugged, “We went for the pool tables, kept well away from the actual bar”.

Maia looked at Andrew, she could see he was processing the details but only because she knew him.  Ricky looked confident, too confident and Maia realised it was because he was hiding something and he thought he’d gotten away with it.

“Thanks Ricky” Andrew said with a smile.  “We’ll come back if we need anything else and, again, sorry for your loss”.

Ricky stood up, nodded at Delores and made his escape, trying too hard not to rush off.

When he was gone Maia looked at Andrew, a questioning frown on her face.  “He’s hiding something” she said.

Andrew lent back in the chair and looked up at her.  “Yes he is.  Why do you think I didn’t push any further?”.

She thought about it but shook her head, she wanted to know now what was being hidden.  “I don’t know” she admitted.

“He’s been in the system, he knows how we work.  We won’t get it out of him today” Andrew explained.  “But, we can follow up at the bar and look into Carlos’ life a little more so the next time we speak with Ricky we have some leverage to get it out of him”.

Maia sighed, looking crestfallen.

Andrew smiled kindly, “Don’t kick yourself Maia, I didn’t know it when I first started here either”.

She nodded, “Who taught you?”

“Who’d you think?” and he grinned wider.

 

*****

 

“Alec!” Ragnor greeted him warmly as Alec stepped into Luke’s office and the young man couldn’t help but smile.  “Welcome back”.

“Thanks Ragnor” he took a step to his left and made room for Magnus to come in behind him then closed the door.

Magnus swept into the room and sat in the chair opposite Luke, his back to the door as Ragnor was in the other one.  Alec walked to the other side of the room, turned and lent his ass against the windowsill.  Magnus knew it was his favourite spot which was why he had taken the chair without a second thought.  From his spot Alec could see the whole room and the door, it put his anxiety at ease.

“So…” Ragnor looked to his left to meet Alec’s eyes.  “What do you think of Indonesia?”.

Alec had been sipping his coffee and he lowered the cup to show the smile on his face.  “It’s a beautiful country.  The people, the food, the speed of life…” his eyes strayed to Magnus, “everything was… magical”.

Ragnor gave his old friend side eye.  “Sounds like it was worthwhile break”,

“I was tempted to suggest we stay forever” Magnus winked at Alec.  “Especially with those beaches, white sand and clear water…” he sighed and Alec knew damn well he wasn’t thinking about the scenery… well, not that scenery anyway.

Alec’s smile was soft and, if Magnus had asked him to stay, he would have been sorely tempted to say yes.

Magnus sighed dramatically though, wanting to change the subject as he was feeling a temperature rise.  He was starting to seriously worry that something may have happened to his libido, ‘is this how sex addict feel?’ he thought.

“But, alas, real life calls” and he looked at Ragnor, his eyes asking him to go easy on Alec.  They’d known each other long enough for Ragnor to read him like a book and he gave Magnus an almost imperceptible nod.

“There has been a shuffle of positions with several of the Judges… I’m not at liberty to disclose why” he added quickly when Luke opened his mouth.  “But it means that a number of cases needed to be pushed back”.

Magnus was looking at Ragnor but he could see Alec clearly in his peripheral and he was watching every reaction closely.  It’s why he saw the look of dread that flash across his eyes at the thought he may have had to wait even longer to see Sebastian face justice for what he had done to Max.

“I wasn’t going to let that happen with Verlac’s though.  I scoured through the schedule and managed to get the days booked in but they won’t be consecutive and day one will be tomorrow”.  He looked at Alec, “I’m sorry Alec, I didn’t mean to spring it on you but it was this or we could be looking at another 3-6 months…”.

“It’s okay Ragnor” Alec reassured calmly.  “You did the right thing, thank you”.

He nodded his acceptance of the gratitude and reached down to grab his briefcase, pulling out three copies of the schedule and handing them out to Magnus, Luke and Alec.

“This week we start on day one with the opening statements, then Will Herondale will testify and following him will be Mattius Gonzales” he turned to Alec again.  “Will tells me you have promised to be there to support him, but you can’t be in the actual court because you won’t have testified yet…”.

Alec was nodding his understanding.  “I’ve told him I’ll be outside for him the whole time” he explained, finishing his coffee and throwing the cup with pinpoint accuracy into Luke’s trashcan with barely a glance to line up his shot.

Magnus felt a heat low in his belly, ‘pull yourself together man’ he scolded himself.

“That’s going to be a long day for you” Luke said as he was studying the schedule carefully.

“I have a book” Alec said and looked as innocent as possible when Luke glanced up at him.

“Mattius will be after the lunch break, I’ll know the timings better for you on the day…”.

“Mattius has specifically asked for me not to be there” Alec informed the DA.  “It’s an additional reminder of something he is keen to forget so I’ll be leaving the court house when Will is done”.

Ragnor looked at Magnus in surprise, then back at Alec who just shrugged at him.  “It happens, there’s no offence meant.  I can kind of understand where he’s coming from, especially as it was actually Lydia and Andrew’s team who found him”.

“Ah, yes” Ragnor acquiesced and sent Magnus a sympathetic smile, remembering how distraught his friend had been while they waited for news of Alec’s condition in the hospital.

“Day two will be Wednesday…” he carried on.  “That will include your testimony as well as Max and Miss Belcourt”.

Alec flinched at her name, his eyes narrowing.

“I have set the order as Max and yourself in the morning, then Miss Belcourt after the lunch break”. 

Everyone there knew exactly why Ragnor had done this.  It meant that Max wasn’t waiting all day to give his testimony and Alec could be there for his younger brother as well as being able to leave the court house as soon as he had given his own testimony.  No one needed to run into Camille.

“Day three will be Friday where we’re going to round off the week with the witnesses who found Henri and Adam’s bodies” he paused, “Then we go into the next week but we can catch up before then, I think this is enough to consider for now?”.

Luke nodded.  He had all he needed in terms of the department, he would be able to work around his officers testimonies.  But that was the last thing on his mind right now, what he was most concerned with is that he had two sons that needed to give their testimonies as Verlac’s victims.  Wednesday was not going to be a good day.

He put the paper down and, elbows on the table, he steepled his fingers together.  “We’re talking to Max this afternoon… Maryse and I”.

Alec straightened up, standing away from the wall and looked at Magnus.  The older man smiled at him and nodded once in understanding of the silent question.

“I can be there” he told Luke and his surrogate father smiled.

“Thanks Alec, that’ll help Max a lot”.

Well’, Magnus thought, ‘you were going to have to be apart again at some point’.

At that moment there was a knock on the door and all eyes turned in that direction.

Luke saw his new lead detective hovering outside and he waved him in.  They’d come to a natural stopping point anyway and it was a good opportunity to introduce Alec to his knew colleague.  He had an unwelcome flash back to the last time Alec had returned to work and been introduced to a new colleague, thankfully this time was very different.

The door opened and a blonde man with dark green eyes took one step in, the door covering half of his body.

“Sorry to interrupt Luke but…” his eyes settled on Magnus and widened comically.  “Magnus?”, a strong British accent ringing out through the room.

Magnus face mirrored the new comers expression.  “Woolsey?”.

Chapter Text

Woolsey’s face broke out into a grin and he stepped into the room fully, Magnus raising from his chair to shake his hand.

“I cannot believe you of all people…” he said with a laugh, taking Magnus’ offered his hand in both of his and squeezing them affectionately.

Alec’s eyes narrowed thinking it was a little too affectionately.

“What are you doing here old chap?” he asked, finally letting go of Magnus.

“Less of the old thank you Woolsey, I’m younger than you” he smiled back and gave a soft chortle then looked at Alec over his shoulder.  “I’m with Alexander”.

Woolsey finally looked at the other two men in the room, skimming over Ragnor as he knew him already, as well as not liking the suspicious glare that was being thrown him way by the DA.

Alec met Woolsey’s gaze, his face blank and you’d have been a fool not to feel some of the tension in the room.

Luke, angels bless him, was the one to step up to the plate.  “Woolsey Scott, this is Alexander Lightwood.  Alec, Woolsey Scott our new lead detective for team two”.

“Ah, that Alec” Woolsey stepped closer, holding his hand out.  “I’ve fantastic things, it’s good to meet you at last”.

Alec’s face didn’t give anything away.  He looked down at Woolsey’s hand, over to Magnus and then back to Woolsey’s face.  Then he took the man’s hand and shook it briefly.  “Nice to meet you”.

“You’re working with Magnus?” he asked, tilting his head to the side a little.

“No” Alec replied bluntly.

Magnus suppressed a laugh, he did love his grumpy, slightly overprotective, boyfriend.  “No Woolsey, I mean ‘with’ in the biblical sense”.

The new comer startled, “Oh!” and he flushed pink, “Apologies, I misunderstood”.

A change of subject was definitely needed, preferably before Alec’s eyes set alight to Woolsey’s hair.  Luke stepped in again, really earning his stripes today.

“Did you need me Woolsey?”.

The man turned to his captain and sighed, his shoulders sagging a little.  “Just a little ‘personnel’ issue that I need to advise you about”.

Luke looked skyward, his hands on his hips, “Which idiot this time?”.

“Raj”, Woolsey advised.

Luke pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I think we’ll leave you to it”.  Ragnor stood, gathering his briefcase from the floor and his coat from the back of the chair, pointedly ignoring Woolsey completely.

“Wait for me outside?” Luke asked Alec and he nodded before following Ragnor and Magnus out of the door, closing behind them.

Ragnor shoved his briefcase at Magnus, letting go of the handle without warning though Magnus still managed to catch it gracefully.

“Right” he said.  “Alec, I’ll see you tomorrow.  Call me if you need anything, at anytime” he said it very seriously, his brown eyes boring into Alec’s hazel ones.

Alec nodded, “Will do” he promised even though every man there knew damn well he wouldn’t.

Magnus handed the briefcase back when Ragnor had pulled on his coat and with a flourish of his hand Ragnor was away and out of sight.

Magnus spun on his heel to face Alec with a tentative smile.

“Woolsey?” his young boyfriend asked with one eyebrow raised.

“Humm”  Magnus was thinking how to put this.

“Ex?” Alec asked.

“Yes”.

“Were you in love with him?”.

Magnus snorted, “Good grief no” and then he realised how callous that sounded.  “It was during my ‘lost years’ and it was a two, maybe three month physical… thing.  I did consider him a friend, before and after”.

“What happened?” Alec asked.

Magnus shrugged and stepped closer to him, their bodies barely an inch apart.  “Some people you just grow apart from.  What you have isn’t strong enough to last”.

Alec looked down at him, his eyes searching for something in Magnus’.  Whatever he was looking for he must have seen it as he relaxed and smiled.

Magnus smiled back.

“I’ll get a ride from Luke”, Alec changed the subject.  “I’m sorry we won’t get to spend the day together like we planned”.

Magnus’ hands rested on Alec’s waist.  “Pish.  Max needs you. Beside, I can catch up with Raphael on the renovations at Pandemonium.  I do need to check that he hasn’t managed to chase off my contractors”.

“We’ll do dinner?” Alec asked, subconsciously leaning towards Magnus’ lips.

“Of course darling.  Shall I pick you up?” his eyes flicking from Alec’s down to his lips and back up again.

“No” he replied.  “You go home when you’re done, I’ll get a cab back”.

“Okay” Magnus breathed before their lips finally met in a chaste but lingering kiss.

When they drew back Alec’s face was calmer again.  “I love you”.

Magnus grinned, “You’d better” and with a squeeze of his hands that had still been on Alec’s waist, he moved away, turned and headed for the elevator.

Alec watched him go, knowing Magnus was deliberately swaying his hips to draw Alec’s eyes down.  The younger man let out a soft sigh and subconsciously licked his lips.  After almost four weeks of vacation, doing everything together, they had come back with an even stronger relationship but Alec was going to have to ween himself off the drug that was Magnus Bane.  He’d liked having him close, being able to turn and see him there.  He’d felt safe, truly and completely safe for the first time in a long time and he liked that sense of serenity that came with it.

“I missed that” Lydia said from beside him and he startled, not even realising that she was there.

“Hey Branwell” he grinned at her.  “Missed what?”.

“That dopey look on your face” she teased.

Alec snorted and then turned to hug her.  “How’s it going?” he asked, knowing she had been reticent about standing in for him while he was away, even though he knew she would excel at it.

“Please come back” she whined without hesitation.

He laughed, “Come on Lydia, you dealt with worse in the service”.

She hummed, “True…” then a wicked look passed across her face as she looked in the window of Luke’s door and saw Woolsey gesticulating wildly, his face red.  “And at least I don’t have Raj or Victor to deal with”.

Alec followed her line of sight and took a moment to look over the man who had, at one time, held Magnus attention, if not his heart.

He was shorter than Alec, though most people were, but lean in the same way.  He’d dressed in a charcoal suit but he’d discarded his blazer at some point and had his shirt sleeves turned up to his elbows.  The maroon tie was clearly silk and it had a fine grey pinstripe in it, complementing the colour of his pants.  Alec wondered if the blazer had a matching pocket square.

His blonde hair was longer and swept up and back from his face, then down the back of his head, ending just below his collar.  It looked smooth and judging from the colour of his eyebrows and lashes, he was a natural blonde.

Alec turned back to Lydia who was watching him with interest.

“What?” he asked, cheeks flushed a little pink.

“You’re way too obsessed with Magnus to be interested in him romantically…” she narrowed her eyes, “So what’s going on?”.

Alec rolled his eyes.  “Come on, show me this all singing, all dancing office”.

“You just want to try out of coffee machine” she mumbled as they made their way back to the chaos of the main room.

“I do have an empty hand Lydia.  Besides, you can catch me up on the cases too” he offered.

“Fine, but don’t you dare tell Magnus I did, he’ll kill me”.

When they reached their office door, Lydia used her key card to open it and they both headed inside, finding Maia and Andrew just stripping out of their coats, the coffee machine already on and working on a  new pot.

“Hey Alec” Maia said happily and they exchanged a fist bump as she walked past to attend to drinks for everyone.

“Boss” Andrew said with a grin as they had shared a one armed hug and back pat.

“You three look good” Alec said proudly, looking at them carefully as well as how organised the room was.  His eyes were drawn to the smartboard, reading over the details they had so far on the newest case.

He raised his eyebrows as he felt Maia shove a mug into his hand.  “They cut his dick off?”.

“Yep” Andrew confirmed.  “Nath put it in a baggy and everything”.

Alec wrinkled his nose and winced at the same time.

“We’re waiting to hear whether it was pre or post mortem” he advised as he booted up one of the computers.

“Here’s to hoping for good news” Alec muttered and took a gulp of coffee.

“What did you guys get from the brother?” Lydia asked and watched as Andrew gave Maia the nod to answer the question.

“So, he didn’t really have anything to offer in terms of why he had been killed or any suspects.  He said they spent every Friday together but when Andrew asked what they did he got a bit… cagey.  He named a bar, pretty much a dive.  We’re going to head out there later today to see if anyone remembers Carlos, see what comes out of that before speaking to Ricky again”.

Lydia smiled and looked at Alec who gave Maia a nod, she’d done well.  That was high praise from their lead detective and she felt a surge of warmth in her chest.

“Okay, write it up” Lydia asked, “Then we’re heading back out to finish canvassing the neighbourhood.  Tomorrow we’ll be going through them to see if we can find anything as well as CCTV from the area, we can run the vehicles.  I’ve got a number for the business partner so we’ll see he can tell us”.

“How come special victims haven’t come after this one?” Alec asked Lydia with interest.

“They did” she explained, “but other than his dick there are no other indications that this may have been a sex crime.  I told them we caught it so we’re keeping it… Luke backed me against their captain”.

Alec laughed softly, “Good for you”.

“Seriously though Alec…” Lydia sat down at the table and he joined her.  “When are you coming back?”.

Alec sighed.  Technically he had another week left on his leave but with Sebastian’s trial starting immediately it wasn’t going to be a restful time, and he prefer not to use any more personal days he’d saved up unnecessarily.  But it was a decision for him and Magnus to make together.

“I’m not sure Lydia, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do” he promised.  “You heard about the trial?” he asked her.

She shook her head and when her eyes glanced over his shoulder he guessed that the other two were listening too.

“We heard there were issues in terms of judges, but at the moment everyone is staying pretty tight lipped about what exactly is going on…”.

Alec nodded, “It’s delayed a number of cases, but Ragnor has been able to move the trial for Sebastian forward.  It starts with Will and Mattius tomorrow, then Max, me and Camille on Wednesday”.

Andrew gave a low whistle.  “That’s…”.

“Yeah” Alec agreed, “Quicker than we thought”.

“You okay?” Lydia asked.

He gave her a smile, though he wasn’t convinced she was fooled, “I’m always okay Branwell”.

There was a light tap on the door and he looked up to see Luke crooking his finger at him, the universal signal for ‘come here’.

“I gotta go” he gulped down the last of his coffee and dropped the empty cup in the recycler as he passed.  Pausing in the doorway he looked at Lydia, “Call me, if you need anything”.

She smiled and nodded, “Sure thing Alec”.

 

*****

 

“Good afternoon Sir” the young lady greeted him warmly with a broad smile showing two rows of perfectly formed, bright white teeth.  Her blonde hair was pinned back into a neat bun and she wore plain, stud earrings.

The makeup on her face was simple, giving a natural glow to her pale skin.  Her uniform, a white, high neck, fitted shirt, a slim black tie, black, straight leg pants and a white, square apron was spotless with not a wrinkle in sight.

It calmed his OCD and he found himself smiling back.

“Good afternoon, Miss?” he said the final word as a question, wanting to make sure the term wasn’t offensive, satisfied when she inclined her head in a single nod to acknowledge the term was acceptable.

“How may I help you?” she asked.

“I have a table booked, for tea” he informed her.  “Three people, under the name of Mr Fade”.

She raised her hand, removing a cell from the pocket in her apron and tapped the screen.  “Of course Mr Fade, your guests are yet to arrive but if you would follow me I’ll take you through to the Star Lounge”. 

She started on her way, an almost carbon copy employee appearing from nowhere to take over her position at the stewards stand, ready for the next customer. 

They made their way through the tables and other patrons, the standard lounges filled to the brim with various groups of individuals.  Tea at the Ritz was always popular, it was certainly one of his favourite spots and he indulged his whim as often as possible.  He could see at least one bachelorette party as well as what was likely a baby shower, judging from the tacky decorations both groups had dragged in with them.  He wondered for a moment if the Ritz was lowering its standards but then his guide opened one of the double doors, tall heavy walnut wood that was shinning from the polish, and they stepped into the Star Lounge.

He took in a deep breath, heaving in the scent of antique wood, suede and expensive whiskey.  The only thing missing was the smoky undertones from cigars and he silently cursed the smoking ban for the fifth time that week.

The stewardess led him over to a circular table that had three, high back chairs set around it.  The table was vanished pine with cherry wood inlay creating a pattern of swirls set between two rings.  The chairs were covered with forest green suede, a cherry wood frame and brass fixings.  It was exquisite and he felt relaxed at home.

She drew a chair out for him and he thanked her gracefully, taking the seat offered.  She asked him if he would like anything while he waited and he asked for a pot of earl grey tea.  She nodded her head again and then advised she would bring his guests to him as soon as they arrived.

He checked his watch as she walked away, noting he was exactly 30 minutes early as always.  If they were not at least 10 minutes early for their meeting he would not be using them for this job.  In his opinion if you were on time for a meeting, you were late and that wouldn’t be tolerated.  Lilith had been very clear and this job needed to go without a hitch.

A tea pot arrived with a cup and saucer, milk pot and sugar cubs in a bowl, silver utensils.  He nodded his thanks to his waiter and then poured his first cup, adding his milk and one cube of sugar, stirring the drink five times.  Once he was satisfied he lifted it to his lips and settled in to wait for his companions.

 

*****

 

The trip to what was affectionately known as Lightwood Manor from the station wasn’t long and Luke kept the conversation as far away from the trial as he could.  He asked about the trip Alec and Magnus had taken, interested in hearing about Magnus’ mother’s home town.  Alec was able to talk about the beautiful weather, the incredible scenery, the welcoming locals and exquisite foods. 

Alec had also talked about their time in China and Japan, though not with the same vivid detail, it was clear he had enjoyed their visit to Magnus’ home country the most. 

Had Luke voiced his thoughts to Alec he would have agreed with him, he felt closer to Magnus for the experience.  They had been together for almost a year and Magnus had slotted into Alec’s life seamlessly but, while Alec had done the same with Magnus current life, meeting and befriending the three most important people to his boyfriend, he still knew very little about his boyfriends biological family, nor his early years.  When he thought about Magnus’ reluctance to talk about that time Alec couldn’t help but feel insecure, worrying it was a way of Magnus keeping some distance between them.  When they first met he had mentioned in passing that he was technically descended from Edom’s royal line, but he had evaded any further questions about his father since.

It felt like a secret between them and sometimes Alec was aware of it like a physical gap he couldn’t quite bridge.  All he could do was dig in his nails and hold on, hoping that one day Magnus would feel safe enough to tell him everything.

Before he knew it, Luke was pulling up outside his family home and Alec released his seatbelt then slipped out of the unmarked saloon into a light rain which had just started.  They walked up the stairs to the brownstone together, Luke locking the car on the way and Alec used his own key to open the front door.

Once inside, coats were removed and hung up in the hallway closet then Luke immediately made for the stairs.

“I’m going to grab some drinks” Alec advised as he went for the kitchen.

Luke nodded, “Maryse said they’ll be on the third floor, in the sun house off the dinning room”

Alec gave him a casual nod, “Do you want anything?” he asked.

“Grab me a beer, I’m not likely to be going back on duty after this” he answered then continued on his way up to the floor where his partner and her youngest son waited for them.

Alec went straight over to the refrigerator and grabbed a beer for Luke and bottles of water for himself and Max.  For his mother he poured a large glass of her favourite white and, with the water bottles tucked under his arm, he followed the same path Luke took up to the third floor.

The sun house was a small room off the dinning room and it earned it’s name because it had been built with floor to ceiling windows as well as skylights in the ceiling.  His family loved it on a sunny day, opening the windows to let the breeze blow through.  Maryse had put a personal touch on the room with deep couches that could be curled up on, plants that thrived in the sun light and an entertainment system so Max could watch his movies there.

Alec, however, loved the same room but in the rain.  He would take a favourite book there, sink into one of the couches with just a lamp on to fight the gloom and drift off into the imaginative world he was reading about, taking him away from the struggles of his teenage reality.  Both before and after his father had discovered his sexuality.

As he approached the door he could hear Luke greeting Maryse, and telling her that he was just getting drinks.

When Alec crossed the threshold he gave his mom a wide smile and picked up his pace so he could pass her the wine before she unfolded herself from the armchair she was sat in, not wanting to make her get up.

“How are you sweetheart?” she asked as she took the wine glass and watched him pass the beer to Luke who had perched on the arm of her chair.

“I’m okay mom” he reassured, knowing what she was referring to, but right now they were here for Max, not him.  He would be fine.

“Where’s Max?” Luke asked.

Maryse sighed, “Up in his room” she explained, “Some of the equipment he needs for the MIT program has arrived and he’s been busy setting it up”.  She looked between the two men, “Do we have to do this today?”.

“He needs to testify the day after tomorrow mom” Alec reasoned gently, “Even if we tell him today it’s not much time for him to get used to the idea”.

“Alec’s right Maryse” Luke spoke softly, his hand finding her arm and his thumb stroking over her soft skin.  “If we tell him tomorrow we could be causing him to panic”.

She nodded and pulled her phone from her pocket, sending her youngest a text then waiting.  She knew she wouldn’t have to wait for long and when her phone pinged a sad smile touched her full lips.  “He’s on his way”.

Alec raised his eyebrows in surprise, standing the bottles of water on the end table between the armchair that Maryse was sat in and the couch where he intended to sit once Max arrived.

Luke snorted, “What did you tell him?  That was a much quicker than normal response”.

“I told him Alec was here” her eyes sparkled when she looked at the smile on her eldest’s face.  There had always been a special bond between her oldest and youngest, likely brought on from the amount of babysitting Alec had done when she had returned to work full time soon after Max’s birth.  There were still times when she thought Max felt Alec was more of a father than a brother.

It really was just a matter of moments before they heard Max’s feet thundering down the stairs from his bedroom that was on the fourth floor.

Alec turned and took a strong stance, waiting for his brother to bolt right into him and, just as he expected, when Max did he was able to keep his balance.

“Where’s Magnus?” he asked as soon as he was done with his greeting.

“He has a meeting about Pandemonium” Alec explained as he sat down, Max climbing onto the couch beside him.  “You done setting up your lair?”.

Max laughed, “If I could have gotten everything in matte black I could have gone for the Batcave look but mom…” he drawled out her title as he threw her a heatless glare.  “…said it was an unnecessary expense”.

“Sensible woman” Luke muttered then took a swig from his bottle.

Max turned his glare on Luke next, but it meant as much as when he was glaring at his mother.

“Why are you here anyway?” Max asked, “I thought you and Magnus would still be in vacation mode…” his eyes widened, “Oooohhhh, are you back at work?  Does Magnus know?”.

Alec sighed, his brother could be exhausting.  “No Max, I’m not back at work but if I do go back early it would be after a discussion with Magnus”.

He wrinkled his nose, “God you two are sickening with this whole ‘togetherness’” he put it in air quotes.

Alec let out an amused huff, “That’s kind of what every relationship is”.

“Tell Jace that, he seems to get his orders and follow them blindly” he snarked. 

The dynamic between Jace and Clary hadn’t gone unnoticed by just about everyone that knew Jace well.  It was not like him to be so submissive in a relationship, usually he was the one calling the shots.  But Alec kept his mouth shut most of the time because he did seem to be genuinely happy.

“I won’t tell him you said that…”

“I don’t care” Max said definitely, “I told him the same myself.  I even got a whip sound affect that I put on his phone as a text announcement for Clary’s number.  He hasn’t figured out how to change it yet”.

Alec really did have to bite back a laugh at that bit of news.

Luke looked worriedly at Maryse, “Are we sure we want him to do this program?”.

“Hopefully it’ll teach him some ethics” Maryse patted Luke’s knee, trying to assuage his concerns about Max’s hacking abilities.

“Sooo, why are you here?” Max went back to his original question.

Alec took a deep breath and looked at Luke, suddenly unsure how to open the conversation.

“Okay kiddo” Luke cleared his throat.  “There’s been some changes at the courthouse and it might have led to Verlac’s trial being put back… maybe as much as six months”.

Max’s mood had quietened significantly, but he was listening intently and his actual feelings were unreadable.

“But…” Alec took up the story, “…you know Ragnor is a good friend of Magnus’ and he fixed it so that we wouldn’t have to wait even longer to see S…” he stuttered on the name, and no one in the room missed it but he ploughed on anyway.  “For him face justice.  But it means that it’s going to start soon.  We’re going to need to testify sooner”.

Max sat on the information for a moment, thinking it over silently, before looking at Alec.  “How soon is sooner?”

“The day after tomorrow” Alec answered.

Max looked down at his hands, which he was wringing together nervously in his lap.

They waited him out.

“Do I have to go in on my own?” he asked, his voice small and it tugged at Alec’s heart.

“No baby” Maryse said immediately, “I’ll be with you when you go in, I’ll be in the court the whole time you’re on the stand and I’ll bring you back out when you’re done” she promised.

Max’s lips twitched into a smile but then he looked at Alec.  “Can you come too?”.

“I can’t be in the court until I’ve given my testimony” he explained honestly.  “But I’m going to be there with you before you go in and I’ll see you outside when you’re done.  Mom can then bring you straight home”.

Max was frowning now, looking unsure and more than a little worried.

“Max?” Luke asked, “What do you want to ask?”.

“When are you testifying?” he asked his big brother.

“The court will take a short break when you’ve finished and then I’ll go in after you” Alec answered him.

“Who will be there for you if mom takes me straight home?”.

Alec smiled kindly at his thoughtfulness.  “Magnus will be there for me Max, I’ll be fine”.

“That’s it!” he exclaimed, “Just Magnus? I mean, I know he’s Magnus, but still… we should all be there for you.  That’s the rule”.

Alec was surprised he’d remembered.  It was a few days after Alec had ‘fallen down steps in central park’.  Maryse had to have a late meeting as she was trying to get things ready to sell her practice and he’d had a bad day, though he couldn’t tell his siblings exactly why.

So, all three of them had crawled into his bed, snacks in hand and bad movies on Amazon Prime.  They’d all agreed one rule, they’d always be there when one of them was in trouble.  Rule number one and they’d stuck to it as often as they could.

Max was clearly playing that card now.

“Everyone has their own things to do buddy” Alec tried to get him to understand.  “Izzy has Laila… and Simon” he added, trying to lighten the mood.  “Jace will be working, so will Luke.  And mom will be with you…”.

“Then I’m not leaving” he said.

“Max…” Maryse tried to reason with him.  “It’s better that we come…”.

“It’s not better for Alec” he pointed out then crossed his arms defiantly.  “I’m staying until Alec has done his testimony.  We can wait outside, will Magnus go in with you?”

Alec nodded, not trusting his voice to speak.

Maryse looked at Luke, who nodded his support and then she turned back to Max.  “Okay.  We’ll wait outside and then we can all leave together when you’re both done.  Agreed?”  She looked between both her sons.

“Max…” Alec drew his brother attention back to him.  “You don’t have to do this you know…”.

“You looked out for me my whole life, now I can look out for you” he said earnestly.

“If I’d looked out for you, you’d never have been there in the first place”.  There was a twinge of anger in Alec’s voice, anger at himself that Sebastian had been able to grab his brother in the first place.

“That wasn’t your fault” he said firmly and his maturity shone through, despite his young age Alec was always surprised when he sounded so old at times.

Alec sighed heavily and Max grinned, knowing that meant that Alec had given in.

“Okay buddy, thank you” and, much to Max’s annoyance, he ruffled his hair.

Chapter Text

His guests were 10 minutes early, so right on time.  He deliberately looked at his watch as they approached and noticed the smug look on the shorter man’s face.  He wondered if Lilith had warned them, it was highly likely.  She didn’t want any delays with the job and if they’d been late he would have insisted on sourcing new help.

 

The same stewardess saw them to their seats and he ordered the luxury tea for three.  The two men threw looks at one another but Malcolm ignored it.  He was used to it.  The stereotype in his industry was bar, booze and loud music.  So he liked a refined atmosphere, finger cakes and cucumber sandwiches, sue him.

 

He looked both men over as they waited silently for their food and drinks to arrive.  One was average height, light brown hair and  muddy eyes but otherwise, nondescript.  The other, slightly taller but not enough to stand out, had hair a darker brown and wore it in a pony tail, low at the nape of his neck.  His eyes were brown as well, but he could see flecks of green. 

Neither had any visible body art or piercings, when they had walked in and there didn’t seem to be anything unusual about the way they moved.  Put them in everyday clothes and they would be invisible amongst the crowd, seen and immediately forgotten.

They were perfect.

The cake tier arrived with their food, and each man was provided with a tea pot each, Malcolm’s original one being removed in favour of a fresh blend.

He waited for them to be alone, then shook his napkin out and placed it delicately over his knee.  He pulled out two brown envelopes from his inner pocket and pushed them over the table, one to each man.

“Your name’s” he explained, looking at brown eyes first “Are Edwin Bloodowl…” then he looked at green eyes, “…and Brad Silverbrook”.

They looked at each other, green eyes, now Brad, opened his mouth to respond but Malcolm held up his hand to silence him.

“I’m not interested in your opinions, you just need to do as your told, efficiently and effectively.  Then you can take the other half of your fee and disappear” he looked pointedly at both of them.  “Agreed?”.

The two men nodded.

“Excellent”.  He pulled out his phone and using the APP sent the first half of their payment into their selected accounts.  Then he sent them both an email.

“You have full details of the situation in the emails I have sent, including some background to your identities.  You will be needed for one days work to deliver a number of packages and possibly a meeting on a later date, depending the outcome of the first task”.

“When will we know?” brown eyes, now Edwin, asked, checking his phone and likely his bank account.

“Straight after the meeting”, he answered, selecting several small sandwiches from the tiers in the centre of the table.

“Will the money change?” Brad asked.

Malcolm looked at him calmly, “You won’t get any less if you’re not required for the second part of the job”, his reply making it clear they had been paid for both elements, so if they only had to complete one they were coming out of it with a bonus.

The two men looked at each other, then back to Malcom and nodded their affirmative.

“Good, then please enjoy the food” and he watched the two men fill their plates with the pretty cakes and delicate sandwiches, hoping to, at the very least, impart some culture on them before they went their separate ways.

 

*****

 

Alec was thankful when he finally got back to the loft, his shoulders and neck aching from holding himself so tensely.   Max had taken the news so well and Alec was both proud at how strong his brother was and ashamed to admit he was struggling with the thought of seeing Sebastian again.

He paused outside the doors to his and Magnus’ home, rolled his shoulders and pushed thoughts of the criminal away, he didn’t want to bring them into his and Magnus’ sanctuary with him.

It took a bit longer than the last time he’d had to do it, which had been longer than the time before that.  He held on to the thought that soon the trial would be over and it would just be a matter of many years Sebastian was sentence to.  There was no possible way, with all of the evidence against him, as well as his two surviving victims able to identify him, that he wouldn’t be found guilty of at least some of the charges against him.  He would be receiving jail time, the question was how much.

He used the electronic fob (Magnus had upgraded the security when Alec moved in) to open the doors and stepped in, closing them softly behind him at the same time as dropping his keys into the bowl on the dresser. 

As he stripped off his coat his eyes drifted into the loft, through the open doors into the lounge and his actions slowed as he took in the sight.

The couch had been pushed back to make room for a pile of blankets and cushions that littered the floor in front of the coffee table.  The television, which was usually hidden behind a painting which could be raised up, was exposed and a familiar movie queued up.

He hung his coat in the closet next to the door and started to head into the lounge when Magnus appeared from the kitchen, carrying takeout from what looked to be Alec’s favourite Chinese.

“Alexander!” he exclaimed, “welcome home”, he diverted away from the nest he had created to press a welcoming kiss to Alec’s lips before placing the food on the coffee table.  Then he was straightening up and heading back out to the kitchen again.

“Magnus…” Alec asked, looking around a little bemused.  “What’s going on?”.

Magnus reappeared, this time with a bottle of Alec’s favourite red wine and two glasses.  “Nothing my love” he smiled sweetly, putting the final touches down next to the food.  “Can’t I spoil you for no reason?”.

Alec narrowed his eyes, “This is a lot of spoiling?”.

“Well you deserve it…”.

“Magnus?” Alec said, his voice low with a hint of a warning.

Magnus caved in, “I told Izzy she and Laila could stay here for a while”.

Alec froze for a moment in order to process what he had just heard.  When he finally spoke it was slowly and he waved his right hand, palm facing out, to emphasis his words.

“I am of course more than happy for Izzy and Laila to stay if they need to” he said, “But I’m concerned as to why Izzy feels the need for her and her daughter to be away from home… and her husband”.  An idea came to mind and a thunderous look passed across his face.  “Do I need to shoot Simon?” he demanded.

Magnus snorted and made his way over to Alec, “Good grief no, that boy adores them both.  He simply has to go to a residential course in Vegas for a while and, with Laila developing some croupe I thought it would be nice that Izzy had some help while he was gone”.

“Oh, okay.  That’s sweet of you” he kissed his boyfriend chastely on the lips.

“Well, it’s a sacrifice, but I’ll cope” he teased.

“And it has nothing to do with the uncle/niece matching outfits you’ve been stocking up on?” Alec pointed out as Magnus turned and made his way back towards the lounge.

“I could get extra uncle outfits in your size you know” he threw over his shoulder as he sank down onto the blankets, his back to the couch and tucking a particularly plush cushion between them for added comfort.

“No you couldn’t” Alec said defiantly as he followed him, sitting close by.  “So what are we watching?”.

“The Great Gatsby” Magnus announced with a flourish and picked up the remote.

Alec looked at him, cheeks flushed and with suspicious eyes.  “We’ve never made it all the way through this movie Magnus”.

“Really?” he said innocently, having started the movie and was adjusting the sound on the opening credits, still staring at the television.  “Is that this movie?”.

“Yes” Alec answered, now sure something was going on.  “You know full well it’s this one”.

He placed the remote on the coffee table and snuggled into his boyfriends side, head on his shoulder before peering up at him through his thick, black lashes. 

“Well, detective.  You’ll just have to keep your hands to yourself” and Alec was sure Magnus’ voice had dropped an octave.  “Now pour us some wine, let’s eat and relax”.

Alec watched him carefully for a moment more, then decided that he would find out eventually so he may as well enjoy the food, the wine and, with a bit of luck, they would miss most of the movie again.  The nest Magnus had made really was very cosy.

Alec lent forward to grasp the bottle of red and the corkscrew, Magnus sitting up straight to let him move.  Once the wine had been poured he handed a glass to Magnus, who took it gratefully, blowing him a kiss, while Alec went back to the coffee table to plate up their takeaway before settling back against the couch and passing Magnus’ food to him before taking his own.

“How did it go with Raphael?” he asked before taking a bite of his chicken.

“Ah” Magnus replied between sips of wine.  “He has done a wonderful job and, apart from one small hiccup which I intend on addressing early tomorrow, all should be well for our soft opening next week”.

Alec couldn’t help but smile at the obvious excitement on his boyfriends face.

“The light fixtures will be fitted next week, we delayed them as there seemed to be a lot of contractors wandering around with materials and ladders, which doesn’t mix well with the delicate glass designs I choose.  All of the art for the walls has arrived and is being safely stored with dear Biscuit until we’re ready to take delivery, I think it’s best for that to come in the very day before the opening…”.

He paused to scoop up some of his rice with the chopsticks in his hand and Alec sat quietly waiting, delighting in watching the man he loved talk about his newest project, one that was breathing new life into the club he treasured.

Another sip of wine and he was off again.  “The final floor has been laid in the private room…” he looked at Alec and sighed dreamily, “…it looks wonderful Alec, you must come a see for your self”.

Magnus knew how Alec felt about clubs, but he also knew he would do anything for him.  The soft opening for the newly refurbished club happened to coincide with Simon’s birthday and they had already decided on attending so were able to combine the two events.

But he also made a mental note to visit the club with Magnus in the day before opening night, perhaps he could help when the paintings needed to be hanged.

“And…” Magnus said with excitement, grasping Alec’s arm and the younger man almost sloshed his red wine over the blanket he was sat on.  “…the fire marshal’s report has come in awarding up a capacity of 3,000 over all three floors”.

Alec recovered his wine successfully then took a gulp so he didn’t have any future close calls.  “What’s the hiccup?  Because the rest of that sounds good”.

Magnus gave a little growl in the back of his throat, a frown touching his brow and he slouched a little lower in his seat.  “The glass wear has been delayed”.

Alec almost choked on his own rice, then looked at Magnus wide eyed.  “You call that a hiccup?  You can’t open a nightclub without something to put the drinks into!”.

Magnus was smiling at him fondly, touched by how outraged he was on Magnus’ behalf.  “It’s alright darling, I have already put some time aside to yell at a few suppliers tomorrow.  All will be fine”.

Alec stared at him for a moment while he calmly went back to his dinner, sipping his wine and watching the start of the film play out on the screen in front of them.

“How are you so calm?” he asked suddenly.

Magnus looked back at him, “This is a common occurrence in the hospitality industry my love, I know all will be fine because it always is.  With some calls to the right people I’ll have my glass wear in time” he winked at his younger lover, “trust me”.

Alec shook his head, but smiled at how in control Magnus was when he knew he would be a ball of nerves.  Hell, he was a ball of nerves and it wasn’t even his club.

“As much as I can talk for hours about my plans for the club…” the next time he looked at Alec his face was serious.  “How did it go with Maximillian?”.

Alec sobered a little at the questions, taking a sip of wine and staring at his half empty plate.  “He was… blindsided, you could tell because he went really quiet”.

“I think everyone was blindsided about the court case coming forward” Magnus said softly, which was his way of telling Alec it was okay if he was feeling the same way.

Alec didn’t raise his eyes, not sure he could look at him.  “But, he was more concerned about who was going to be there to support me after my testimony”.

“I assume you told him that I would be there?” Magnus put his plate on the coffee table and used his now free hand to stroke over Alec’s thigh.  It was a comforting gesture and Alec was thankful for it, even though he couldn’t voice that right this minute.

“Absolutely, but he seemed to think you may not be enough…” and this time he did look up so he could see Magnus’ reaction.  He wasn’t disappointed by the mock horror he displayed, which managed to squeeze a laugh from him.

“So I assume our young genius intends to stay after his testimony to wait for you?”

“Yes, he was quite defiant”

Magnus chuckled, “I can imagine”.

Alec, having lost his appetite, slid his plate onto the table, Magnus not missing exactly how much food was left on there, but he kept his wine, sipping it slowly.

“How are you feeling abut this sayang?” Magnus asked carefully, knowing the was a subject he had to approach with trepidation.

Alec sighed, raking a hand through his hair, then dropping his head back onto the couch’s seat cushion.  “I don’t know Magnus” he answered, “all I know is I don’t want to talk about it right now”.

Magnus wasn’t satisfied with the response.  Alec was burying his worries again and, with Tessa still on maternity leave, he’d chosen to forego therapy instead of seeing Jem instead.  But he also wasn’t talking to Magnus.  He’d hoped that would change after their short conversation in Tokyo, but Alec was deflecting again.

He’d obviously been too quiet for too long, as Alec lifted his head and his hand.  He cupped Magnus’ chin and turned his head to face him, making sure their eyes were locked.

“I’m okay” he said, feeling the pang of guilt at lying directly to Magnus’ face, but he had enough on his mind without worrying about Alec as well.  “As long as you’re there with me, I know it will be fine”.

Magnus smiled, not believing him for one moment but right now, an argument would make things worse.  So he let Alec lie to him, it was something he could monitor though and he would step in if things escalated anywhere near the stage they’d been at when they’d first met.

“Okay” he whispered and, before he could say anything else, Alec’s lips were on his.  The kiss was soft and slow at first but it grew with heat quickly, wine glasses being shoved onto the coffee table as bodies shifted.  When clothes started to come off and be discarded throughout the room it became clear that they would indeed miss the rest of the film again.

 

*****

 

Malcolm strolled leisurely through the park, the rain pattering against his umbrella, the cool air welcome against his skin.  He enjoyed an evening walk and made sure to have one at every possible opportunity.  Granted there had been times when a walk would have been lethal, he’d been happy to skip the luxury on those occasions.  But back in New York, autumn heading quickly into winter, cold nights setting in, he couldn’t resist the pull of the park and he’d been walking deeper into the maze of trails through the woodlands.

His mind was on the job that was well in motion now.  When Lilith had sent him to New York his orders for Verlac had been simple, he needed to die.  That task had then been delayed when they discovered his trial had been pulled forward so he would be moving back and forth from Wrangle Island for the time being.  So he’d put that part on hold.

The second part was to ensure Alec Lightwood wished he was dead, and the easiest way of doing that was to take away what he loved most.  He’d researched his family and had a multitude of possible targets, not one of them meaning more than the other.  But to dispense with a whole family would have been far too much heat, even for his boss.

Then he’d come across the boyfriend.  Relatively new, having met on the Verlac case, yet already living together.  It wasn’t difficult to decide he was the better target and the plan had come together with relative ease after that.

His cell rang and he answered it promptly.  “Fade”.

“I’ve had to make arrangements to return to Edom” Lilith informed him, dispensing with any greetings or familiarities, they’d worked together long enough not to need them.

“Do you need me to delay the job?” he asked.

“No” she replied.  “We’ve already delayed Verlac’s.  Keep to the timeline you have already set out, it just means Lightwood will have to be miserable for a little longer until I can get there to finish the job in full”.

“I’ll update you after the meeting” he promised and she ended the call without a goodbye.

He slipped his cell back into his pocket then pulled out his nightstick.  He flicked it out, dropped his umbrella to the ground, spun on his heel and struck out at the man behind him.

The metal pole clashed with the mans hand to knock the knife away, he brought it across his jaw on the back swing and finished him off with another strike across the temple.

The attack had been carried out in a split second and Malcolm watched as the man slumped to the floor on the secluded trail.  He slid the nightstick back down to size and pocketed it, then bent over to check his would-be muggers pulse.

He was alive.

Malcolm picked his umbrella back up, raising it above his head and strolled on, whistling to himself as he felt the euphoria and adrenaline from the encounter.  He smiled, it had been a very nice walk.

 

*****

 

Alec stretched his long body languidly, laid on his front with both his arms up and stuffed under the cushion that his head rested on.  His head was turned to the left, eyes on the television screen though he wasn’t really paying much attention to the movie, Magnus was being too distracting.

His boyfriend was laid to his right, on his side with his head propped up on his hand, elbow resting on his own pillow.  He was also staring at the screen where the movie was playing but the fingers of his free hand were tracing soft circles up and down Alec’s back and side, sending waves of warmth through the younger man’s body.

“Magnus…” Alec smiled, his voice laced with amusement when he felt fingers across his shoulder blades and lips on the back of his neck.  “We already had to re-start the movie once, are you really trying to start round two?”.

Magnus chuckled, “Maybe”, he said before pressing another kiss to Alec’s skin, this time at the top of his spine.

Alec turned his head to look in his direction instead, his eyes meeting Magnus’ golden orbs but they didn’t speak, instead Magnus continued his gently ministrations and Alec felt him starting to trace the two scars on his back, the work of Jonathan Morgenstern’s mother.

“Soon you’ll have new tattoos here…” he kissed one scar, open mouthed and tenderly, “…and here” doing the same to the other and Alec felt a shiver vibrate through him, his cock giving an interested twitch.

“Would you rather I didn’t have them?” Alec asked and Magnus was surprised by the question.

He raised his hand and brushed away that unruly curl that was forever falling into Alec’s eyes.  “Do you not want them love?”.

“You’re the one that’ll be looking at them, far more than me”.  He caught Magnus’ salacious grin and then blushed pink at the double meaning of his words.

Magnus laughed, “Darling, you are adorable” his hand went back to trailing slowly down his spine.  “With all that we just did and you still blush at a miss-worded sentence?”.

Alec closed his eyes and delighted in the relaxing feel of the older man’s fingers, they moved lower over the dip of his spine, tickling at the dimples just above the curve of his ass then moving back up again.

“Answer me love” Magnus whispered right next to his ear.  “Do you not want them?”.

Alec peeked between his lashes, “I want you to like looking at me” he whispered back shyly.

Magnus’ smile softened, “I love looking at you, you’re all I ever want to look at.  But it makes no difference to me whether you have the tattoos or not.  I adore every inch of you, tattooed or not”.

Alec’s flush darkened and his eyes dilated.  Lifting his head their lips met for a slow, deep, open mouthed kiss.

Magnus drew away first, but didn’t go far.  “If we’re going to do this, we’ll need to switch.  As much as I enjoy making love to you, that was quite a vigorous session to follow with an encore so soon”.

Alec breathed out a soft laugh and laid his head back down, “I get the feeling you are trying to cause a distraction.  Or put me into such a delirious state that I’ll agree to anything?”.

“Humm” Magnus narrowed his eyes as he cupped Alec’s jaw, running the pad of his thumb across his silky cheek.  “I have the same feeling about you…?”.

This time Alec laughed out loud, then rolled onto his back and freeing his arms so he could take Magnus’ hand in one and kiss the palm.

“Okay, let’s just both come out with it.  Agreed?”.

Magnus nodded firmly, but with an amused smile.  “Agreed”.

“I want to go back to work” Alec said.

“I want to go to the awards ceremony” Magnus admitted straight afterwards.

They stared at one another for a moment, taking in what the other had said and thinking, each considering what the other wanted.

“Why do you want to go back to work Alexander?” Magnus asked with curiosity.

Alec sighed heavily.  “I have loved every moment of our vacation, every moment with you…” his hazel eyes stared up at the ceiling.  “But… with the trial I need something to keep my mind distracted”.  He tilted his head to the side so he could look at his lover, “I hope you understand?”.

Magnus lowered his head, letting go of Alec’s hand and resting his on his chest, his fingers brushing through the soft, dark hair, and he kissed him again.

“Of course I understand” he said when he pulled back.  “And I’ll support you in whatever you want to do.  But I will miss you” and he winked.

Alec’s full lips stretched into a smile, he licked the lower one briefly.  “So… how do you know about the award ceremony?”.

“I think…” Magnus shifted his position on the blankets and laid down on his back next to Alec, “…the question is why you didn’t tell me about the ceremony?”.

“They have them every year, I’ve never been to any of them” he said with simplicity.

“But it’s at the Plaza Alexander” Magnus whined, “my very favourite hotel” he turned his head to look at Alec, “We could get a suite” and he wiggled his eyebrows.

Alec snorted, “Magnus, the awards are on Saturday, there is no way they’ll have a suite available and even if they did, we live in New York.  We don’t need a suite…” he trailed off when he saw the look of mock outrage on Magnus’ face.

“The Plaza will always have a suite for me” he informed is boyfriend indignantly.

Alec sighed with resignation, “Alright, we’ll go…” and he couldn’t help but grin at the look of joy on Magnus’ face.  “But I refuse to enjoy it” he added.

Magnus crept forward and rubbed the tip of their noses together.

“Okay,” Alec corrected, “I’ll enjoy the moments we have alone, but the rest of it will suck”.

He rolled back again, “I would expect nothing less my darling.  Now…” he jumped up with enthusiasm and grace, holding his hand down to help Alec up as well.  “…let’s retire to the bedroom and return to our earlier discussion about switching” and he promptly guided him to the bedroom, hands still clasped together, the movie forgotten again.

Chapter Text

You couldn’t deny that it was a beautiful building, regardless of what happened within.  Built in the early 1920’s from granite and decorated with a colonnade spanning the entire width of the front.  Ten pillars held up an elaborate triangular pediment, figures depicting historical upholders of the law carved within and topped with three statues representing Law, Truth and Equity.

Two sets of steps led up to the large wooden, ornate doors, made of grey stone to match the building and in between both steps a large statue of Lady Justice sculpted in marble and easily 25ft high.  She was imposing, if just for the fear that she might fall on you, let alone what she symbolised.

Alec had one eye on her as he passed a shiver running up his spine just as a strong wind blustered through the courtyard and he felt Magnus’ hand tighten on his, he hoped Magnus thought the shiver was related to the weather as opposed to the reason they were here.

He’d been awake most of the night and had taken himself to the balcony so that he didn’t disturb Magnus who had been able sleep.  It had been cold, the weather turning slowly from autumn to winter and it was bringing back other memories.  He was grateful that he didn’t have to wait longer to put Verlac behind him for good, but he did wish it hadn’t coincided with a year since he had been abducted. 

He stood at the balcony wall, elbows resting on the top making him bend at the waist because of his height.  Looking out of the view, the lights from buildings, commercial and residential as well as the all encompassing Brooklyn Bridge, he felt like he was balancing on the precipice and just one more thing would tip him over… then he would drown.

He’s snuck back in just as the sun started to rise, Magnus was still in bed though he’d obviously looked for Alec in his sleep as he was sprawled across to his side, arms reaching out.  He watched him for a long moment, the rosy glow to his cheeks, his lips slightly parted and soft breaths escaping almost soundlessly.  As tempted as he had been to re-join him he knew he was likely freezing from his night in the fresh air, so instead he took himself to the bathroom for a long, hot shower.

When Magnus had risen he’d found him in the kitchen making breakfast.  It was early for Magnus, particularly when he was working at Pandemonium where he, at times, needed to start late in the evening and would finish in the early hours of the morning.  They weren’t regular hours, not with the sheer number of businesses Magnus’ owned, but it had been more frequent before their vacation due to the renovations.

He’d been quiet, which he usually was until he’d had at least one coffee, though Alec couldn’t help but feel Magnus wanted to say something.  There was something in his glances, deep behind his eyes and Alec couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.  He knew there was concern about the trial and about the anniversary, but Alec had become familiar with those looks.  This was something different.

Sayang?” he heard Magnus call for him and realise that, at some point during his thoughts he had come to a stop just after the top step and was staring at the doors.

Alec gave him a slight smile, just a twitch of the corners of his lips.  It had the opposite affect that he’d desired, Magnus’ frown deepening.

“You won’t see him today” the older man reminded him.  “You can’t go into the court room and he will be taken in through the holding cells…”.

Alec took a deep breath and nodded.  He knew this, of course he did.  And Magnus knew he knew it, his words were there as a prompt and it did help.

“You’re right, let’s go” he spoke with as much confidence he could muster and started back in the direction of the doors, walking through the double doors which were propped open and then pushing through the revolving doors that had been built inside for more convenient access.  Considering the number of people milling around for various trials it wasn’t surprising the large double doors had become inconvenient.

Once inside Alec continued across the marble floor, knowing exactly where to go, Magnus half a step behind him.  He’d given testimony countless times as an officer so when Ragnor had sent over the court room number he had immediately known where they would need to go.

He moved confidently to the staircase in the centre of the lobby, itself made of marble as well, making the inside of the building as equally impressive as the outside.  The stairs were built in two parts, going straight up half the height and then splitting off to the right and left to reach the mezzanine that ran around the whole lobby.

Magnus followed his boyfriend as he strode up the stairs, turning right on the small landing and then, on reaching the mezzanine, he weaved through the people to take a corridor just to their left.  Magnus counted doors and they were three courtrooms down from the main entrance on the left, the doors already open for people to file in.  Alec moved past them where there was a bench against the wall that they could wait on for Will to arrive.

Magnus sunk down onto the seat, crossing his leg over the other, perching his coffee on his knee, using the pretence of people watching to keep an eye on Alec. 

He’d known the moment Alec had left their bed in the night and he’d waited, initially thinking he may have been going for a drink as he’d bypassed the bathroom.  But 30 minutes later he had gone in search and found him out on the balcony, wide awake and clearly in deep contemplation.  He debated calling him in, it was cold and Alec had been in his lounge pants and t-shirt only.  But if he had something to work through then he wanted to give him that time to do it, knowing they needed to be at the court house the next morning so Alec could support Will. 

So, instead he had waited in the doorway between the lounge and the kitchen, keeping a close eye on his boyfriend until he started to move.  Magnus had the time to get back to bed before Alec had returned and, this time, he had feigned sleep until Alec closed the bathroom door.  He would allow him this for now, but he couldn’t let it become a pattern and Alec’s health suffer.

Right now Alec looked jittery, it could be lack of sleep, anxiety or caffeine, but it was more likely a mix of all three.

“So, when will they be here?” he asked, looking at his watch.

“They’re likely already here” Alec answered, glancing down the hallway further.  “Ragnor will have him in one of the offices to go through some last minute prep, the DAs tend to reserve one permanently”.

“Is that where we’ll be tomorrow?”.  When Alec turned to look down the hallway and Magnus saw his shoulders tense at the reminder that he would have to testify as a victim tomorrow.  He’d never done that before, he’d always been the investigating officer on the stand.

Samuel Blackwell, the ex-boyfriend who had sexually assaulted him while he served overseas in the military had never faced charges for his crimes.  Jonathan Morgenstern, who had abducted and tortured Alec almost a year ago, had been killed by Sebastian Verlac before he could be arrested.  So Alec had never had to testify in terms of what had happened to him.  This time he would have to and for someone as private as Alec it was going to be difficult.

“Yes” he answered stiffly, then seemed to realise how testy he had sounded so he spun around and sat down next to Magnus.  “I’m sorry… I’m…”.

Magnus dropped his free had onto Alec’s knee and squeezed affectionately.  “It’s alright Alexander.  But you know you can tell me anything, at any time?”.

Alec opened his mouth to respond when they were interrupted by a call.

“Alec!”.

Alec turned and Magnus lent forward to look around his boyfriend and they both saw Will Herondale heading their way in his wheelchair, Ragnor and Mayor Herondale desperately trying to keep up with the young man.

They both stood as Will came level with them and he and Alec fist bumped, Magnus noticing the genuine grin on Alec’s face.

“You’re getting faster in that” he commented.

“Yeah, the track work is helping” he answered, returning Alec’s smile.  “My legs haven’t been quite as responsive as my arms, but they’ll get there.  And I joined a basketball team”.

Alec chuckled, “Sounds like you’re training hard”.

“Well, with mom and gram insistent that I’m not ready to return to work, I gotta fill my time somehow”.  Will had been flicking his eyes from Alec to Magnus as he spoke and Alec finally realised they had never actually met.

“Will, this is Magnus…”.

“Hey!” He said, giving Magnus an even broader smile and holding out his hand.  “You know, he never shuts up about you?”.

Alec groaned as Magnus’ face lit up, “Don’t tell him that…” he protested.

“Really?” Magnus said, shaking Will’s hand enthusiastically.  “We may have to have coffee Mr Herondale, I’d like to know exactly what he’s been saying…”.

“That…” Alec said quickly, “…is not happening”.

Will chortled, taking great pleasure in making Alec uncomfortable.

Magnus could see the embarrassment on his lovers face, the cringe in his jaw, the flush in his cheeks and the uneasy smile on his lips.  It was a welcome sight after all the tension that had been there the last few days and Magnus could have hugged Will for it all.

“Alec” Ragnor said in greeting, slightly breathless from his dash from the office they had been using.  “And Magnus, good to see you both”.

“Detective Lightwood” Mayor Herondale also reached them at the same time.  “I trust you are well?”.

Alec nodded respectfully, “Ma’am.  I am, thank you”.

She looked to Magnus, though her body language was stiff.  “And Mr Bane”.

“Mayor Herondale” he nodded solemnly.  He knew she was uncomfortable with him, whether it was his sexuality or his general appearance he didn’t know.  Though with the revelation that Will was bisexual, she’d had to address some of her more… bigoted ideals.  Either way he took great delight in ensuring she couldn’t ignore him whenever they crossed paths.

She turned to Will and placed a hand on his shoulder, “I’ll see you in there William”.

“Sure thing Gram” he answered and grinned when she winced at the familiar term being used within earshot of this particular audience.

She nodded to everyone else and headed into the court room, the stewards closing the doors behind her as they had reached 8:45am and were preparing to start on time for 9:00am.

The corridors had become quieter as the doors started to close off, leaving only the individuals giving testimony first waiting outside.

“Okay…” Ragnor addressed Will, “you know what to do, if you need a break or a drink just ask and keep your eyes on the jury, not the defendant”

Will snorted, “Defendant, as if they have any kind of defence” and, with his grandmother gone, there was a crack in the armour he had been wearing.

Ragnor hesitated, wanting to address Will’s reaction, but he had to get inside.  Being late was a sure fire way to piss off the judge and even though this was technically a slam dunk, he wasn’t going to treat it as such.  He had a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor and it wasn’t unwarranted, as Verlac and his attorney were about to find out.

“I have to go in now Will” he said, “So I’m going to leave you in Alec’s capable hands and the steward will come out to collect you once opening statements have been done and I’ve called my first ‘witness’”.

Will nodded and cleared his throat, trying to sound confident, “Got it”.

Ragnor patted his shoulder, “Good lad” and, casting Alec a knowing look, he walked past them, opening the doors into the court and allowing it to swing shut with a echoing thud.

Alec crouched down in front of Will,  putting him slightly lower than Will’s eye level so he had to look up at him.  “You got this Will” he said, his voice firm and encouraging.  “You know what happened, the evidence supports everything you have to say and Ragnor will take care of you”.

“I just…” he spoke quietly, Magnus moving a few steps away to give them some privacy.  “I don’t want to look at him… I still have dreams where I see him and in them he managed… he did what he had planned to do…”.

He was looking down at his hands in his lap, clutching them together. Alec put one of his large hands over both of Wills and squeezed.

“I know” he replied, “I do to”.

Will looked up at him in surprise, “You do?”.

Alec’s smile was sad, “Yeah, it might not help to know this but it’s normal to have thoughts like that.  Your mind is trying to process what happened to you but it’s also trying to deal with your fears on what could have happened…”.

Magnus had given them some privacy and while he couldn’t make out what Will was saying, he could understand Alec as if he was stood right beside him.  He was so tuned in to the sound of Alec’s voice that he could understand a whisper from across the room at this point.  And what he heard gave him an insight into what sort of dreams may be plaguing him.

“How are things with Dr Carstairs?” Alec asked.  He’d gotten to know Will in the hospital, his first visit just days after the young man had woken up from his coma.  He’d found his to be very like Jace and they formed a friendship quickly.  So when Will had mentioned wanting to see a therapist, Magnus’ friend, who had helped Jace through some darker months, immediately came to mind.

Will nodded.  “Good, he’s cool”.  Will looked up and his breaths seemed to even out, “Easy to talk to, you know?”.

“His wife helped me out of some tough times” Alec admitted.

“I didn’t know you’d seen a therapist” Will commented, resting his hands on his wheels and rocking his chair minutely back and forth.  It was a nervous tick he had developed, but Alec had been seeing it less and less which was encouraging. 

Alec nodded, his legs starting to cramp from the crouch he was in but he pushed through it.  “Yeah, I wasn’t doing very well after my abduction, and was a bit lost.  But someone helped me find my way, and that included an introduction to a fantastic doctor”.

“You seem pretty tough” Will said, averting his eyes and looking at Magnus, guessing he was the one that had aided Alec so much.

“Everyone needs help at times Will, that doesn’t make you weak” Alec pointed out softly.

Will snorted, “Yeah, I guess”.  Then he gave a heavy sigh and glared at the doors.  “How long do opening statements take?”.

“Well…” Alec stood again, now that the subject had changed to something much less sensitive.  “It’s not just opening statements.  They’ll bring the judge in as well as the jury, then the defence and the prosecution will go through their statements.  It’ll give Ragnor an idea on what Pangborn’s game plan is, though it beats me what he thinks he’ll be able to do”.

“How do you defend someone like that?”.

“In my experience…” Magnus re-joined the conversation, “…the money to be earned helps with the need for flexible ethics”.

Will looked at him, his eyes had that same discerning intensity as Alec’s and Magnus could see even more similarities between the two’s appearance.

“You were in the FBI right?” he asked.

“Humm” he responded as he linked his arm through Alec’s.  “He has been talking about me hasn’t he”.

Will grinned again and Alec blushed, “He sure has.  Can I ask you a question?”.

“Ask away” Magnus said, “I’ll answer if I can, legally”.

“Did you ever catch anyone where you thought it was a slam dunk and they got off?”.

Magnus felt Alec tense almost imperceptibly, and he saw the worry lines on Will’s face.  It was tempting to reassure, to pretend that all would be well, but Magnus went with the truth.

“Not necessarily ‘got off’” he spoke carefully.  “There were some where a defence of ‘mental defect’ was successful.  Their sentence was served in a secure hospital rather than a prison, but they still served their time.  There have been some, a very small number, who were unsuccessfully prosecuted.  Whether it was procedural error or the jury being convinced of ‘reasonable doubt’… but it has been known to happen”.

Will looked at him carefully, almost as though he was looking for signs of dishonesty.

“I can say with complete conviction though that there will be no procedural error here, not with the investigation…” he looked at Alec proudly, “…nor with the DA”.

Will nodded, “Thanks Magnus”.

“I’m sorry that I couldn’t be entirely reassuring”

“You were honest” he replied, “Too many people have tried to reassure with promises they can’t keep.  I’d rather be prepared for the worst, it can only go up from there right?”.

Magnus smiled, he could see why Alec liked him.  “Right”.

The door to the court room opened and a steward stepped out.  “Mr Herondale?” he asked.

Will nodded, glancing one final time at Alec, who nodded firmly. 

“Do you need assistance?” The steward asked, eyeing Will’s chair.

“No thanks” he said, gripping the wheel rails and pushing forward.  “I got this” and he headed through the door that was being held open for him.

Alec watched him go, feeling helpless knowing he couldn’t step through those doors and protect him from what he had to do.  If he felt this bad today he had no idea how he was going to cope when it was Max going in there the next day.

“Alec…” Magnus started but Alec pulled away from him.

“I’m gonna call Luke, let him know I’m going to be in after Will has testified” he was already pulling his cell out of his pocket.

Magnus watched him walk further away down the corridor, pressing the phone against his ear and he couldn’t help but sigh.  He didn’t know how to get through this time.  It had been easier when they had first met, but now… their relationship had developed to a point where Alec was trying to protect Magnus and he was slipping into bad habits, burying his feelings.

He was so engrossed in his feelings that he didn’t hear anyone approaching him until they were practically at his side, despite the click of their heels.

“Izzy!” he spun and grinned broadly at her, hiding his worries for her brother because it was clear on her face that she had her own.  Instead he bent over the Ickle Bubba pushchair that he and Alec had purchased just in time for the birth. 

Grinning up at him around a small fist that was jammed into her mouth, big brown eyes blinking up and droll dripping off her chin, was Laila Helen Lightwood-Lewis.

“And how’s my tough little cookie doing this morning?” he asked as he reached in, sliding one hand behind her head and another behind her lower back before lifting her out and perching her on his hip.

“I’m fine Magnus” Izzy said with an amused smirk.

“So sorry my dear” and he lent over to kiss her cheek.  “How are you as well?”.

“I am fine” she said though Magnus wasn’t entirely convinced, considering how tired she sounded.  She was lifting a muslin cloth to dab at the droll.  “And you know Simon hates the nickname cookie, he says it sounds like a porn star”.

“Biscuit doesn’t seem to mind, that’s just a British cookie after all” Magnus said, talking to Laila who used her free hand to make a grab for his necklaces.

“I don’t think that explanation will satisfy her daddy” she pointed out, smiling fondly at the two of them.

“Oh, Sylvester will be fine…” he caught Izzy narrowed eyes, and sighed dramatically.  “Fine, how about TC then?”.

“TC standing for…?” Izzy asked.

“Tough Cookie of course” and Magnus grinned when Laila pulled her tiny hand from her mouth with a ‘pop’ and immediately reached for his ear cuff.

Izzy rolled her eyes but chuckled none-the-less.  “I think we can swing that”.

“Izzy!” Alec called, a genuine smile on his face as he returned from his call and wrapped his sister in a tight hug.

“Hey Alec” she said, closing her eyes and sagging into him.  When he went to move she squeezed tighter, “No, stay right there and I’ll be able to get at least 5 minutes sleep…”.

He laughed and the jiggling disturbed her comfort so she drew back with an annoyed frown.  “I hear you’re moving in with us?” his eyes drifted to his boyfriend who had started walking and cooing to Laila, a small dance of their own happening as she tried to capture his jewellery and he dodged her gracefully, pulling giggles from the three month old.

Izzy watched her brother, then her daughter with Magnus and back to Alec again.

“Yes, thank you so much.  I didn’t ask Alec, I was just…” she started to explain.

“Izzy” he interrupted, looking back to her.  “It’s fine, you and Laila are more than welcome.  Not so much Simon cause he talks too much…” his comment was cut off when she gave him a firm backhand to the sternum.

“He’s good with her huh?” she nodded at Magnus.

“He had plenty of practice with Madzie when she was little”.  Alec tried to sound nonchalant but even he had to admit, if he had ovaries, the sight before him would have brought on a spontaneous ovulation.

“Be nice for Laila to have cousins…” she teased.

Alec almost swallowed his tongue.  “Izzy” his tone was warning, especially as he saw Magnus heading back towards them.

“So, when is Scott heading off on his course?” Magnus asked as he reached them, then turned and started walking away again.

“He’s in the office today but going straight to the airport after work” she answered. 

“Well…” he called over his shoulder, “I will be home all day today so you are welcome at any time.  Just let me know when you’re in the parking lot and I will come and assist you with your bags”.

Izzy looked at Alec, “You won’t be home?” she asked, eyebrows raised.

He shifted uncomfortably on his feet.  “I’m going back to work after Will has finished his testimony”.

“Alec…” she said softly.

“I’m fine, Izzy” he said, a little too quickly.

“You should take the time…”.

“To sit and stew over everything” he gave her a grin but there was no mirth in it.  “If I work it’ll keep my mind busy”.

She nodded slowly, at least able to understand that as it seemed to be a family trait.  “Magnus told me about the date changes for the trial” she spoke softly, treading carefully and watching his face for familiar warning signs.  “He said you need to testify tomorrow?”.

Alec turned away from her and watched after Magnus, who was just turning again to come back, Laila seemed to have calmed down some, her eyes drooping.

“Yeah, Max as well.  He’s first on the list”

Izzy watched him grinding his jaw and she was sure he didn’t even realise he was doing it.  “I’d like to be here?” she asked.

“I think you have enough on your plate right now” he lowered his voice as Magnus approached with a quickly tiring Laila in his arms, carefully depositing her back in her pushchair and tucking her blanket in around her.

“There you go TC” he whispered, smiling down at her with twinkling eyes and Alec felt his stomach clench as hopes for their future ran through his mind.

Instead he looked back to Izzy and mouthed ‘TC?’, a frown on his face.

“Tough Cookie” she replied as quietly as possible, watching Magnus with a hand spread on her daughters belly, rubbing it in circles almost imperceptibly as she drifted off to sleep.  “Simon doesn’t want him to call her cookie…”.

“It does sound like a stripper” Alec whispered.

“He said porn star” Izzy replied.

Alec raised his eyebrows and inclined his head in a ‘I can see that’ gesture, still watching his boyfriend working his magic fingers on the grizzly little girl.

“Are you sure she has croupe?” Alec was starting to reconsider, considering how peaceful she currently looked.

Izzy snorted, “Apparently only when at home”.

Magnus straightened up when he started to hear little snores, his eyes delighted.  “She sounds just like you Alexander”.

Alec rolled his eyes, “I don’t snore Magnus”.

The older man looked at Izzy, “One night I shall record him and then he won’t be able to deny it any longer”.

Chapter Text

Izzy had taken full advantage of Magnus’ skills and scurried off home to try and get some sleep while Laila was still under, though Alec wasn’t entirely convinced that it was going to work.  After all, she had to get Laila into the car and back out of the car at the other end.

But, she had seemed confident and he could only admire her plucky determination, though he was unsurprised when he received a text message from her as he snuck in the side door of the precinct, which was predominately emojis of a baby girl followed up with expletives.

Laila had been trouble from the moment the contractions started and it wasn’t a surprise at all as, despite some killer headaches when she first fell pregnant, Izzy had a relatively smooth pregnancy.

Well that all stopped when she woke at 2:00am on a Friday night, water broken and contractions already 15 minutes apart, her husband having been called in on a ‘forensic’ emergency (whatever the hell that is) and his proxy was fast sleep on the couch with his boyfriend wrapped tightly around him.

 

~~~~~

 

Alec had heard the screech immediately, likely only half of his brain asleep as the other half had been worrying about Izzy as each day past her due date finished with no signs of the baby’s arrival.

Sitting bolt upright he’d inadvertently flung Magnus to the floor with a loud thud, having to step over him as he groaned, firing apologies over his shoulder as he had bolted up the stairs to his sister’s bedroom. 

He’d discovered Izzy sat on the edge of the bed, breathing through a contraction, pyjama bottoms soaking wet and a glare on her face.

"Why!” she yelled, “Why, on the one night when Simon isn’t here does she suddenly decide it’s time to make her entrance!”.

Alec shrugged as he grabbed clean sweats from a draw and threw them in her general direction, then turned around to give her privacy.  “You’re her mom Iz, she’s got your genes too” he muttered, as thought that explained everything.

“Not helping Alec” she growled and he listened to the rustling, waiting for her to grunt permission for him to turn back around.

" Where’s your bag?” he asked, eyes scouring the room trying to see something that was obviously what she needed to take to the hospital with her.

" Already in the car” she answered, reaching an arm out and making grabby hands at him.  He sped over and, with one hand on her elbow and his other arm around her back, he helped her stand just as Magnus arrived in the doorway, rubbing his coccyx.

“How far apart are the contractions?” he asked a little breathlessly, holding his phone up as though this was an explanation for his question.

“Around 15 minutes”, Izzy said as she let Alec guide her across the room, Magnus stepping back out of the way as they reached the door, crossed the threshold and started down the stairs.

Alec could hear Magnus following them down and, in the silence of the house, he could hear the ringing of a phone.

“Simon” he said as the ringing ended and Alec heard a distant voice.  “Darling Isabelle has gone into labour…” there was more mumbling.  “No, I don’t think it’s braxton hicks…” he tilted the phone away from his lips to speak to Izzy.  “Simon is wondering if it’s…”.

“My fucking water broke Magnus!” Izzy yelled over her shoulder, Alec throwing him an apologetic grimace at the same time.

Magnus waved it off and repositioned the phone.  “She seems quite sure this is the real thing Simon.  Apparently her water has broken, we’re on our way to the car…” more mumbling, though the pitch seemed to have risen considerably.  “We’ll see you there” Magnus finished the call.

“He’s on his way to the hospital now”.

Alec had gotten Izzy to one of the dinning chairs and helped lower her onto it before racing over to the closet to fetch her coat and sneakers.  Magnus busied himself getting his and Alec’s belongings together.

“Darling…” he addressed Alec as he was helping his sister into what he was almost sure was Simon’s jacket but, reading the room, he chose not to point this out.  “Where’s her bag?”.

“In the car!” both Alec and Izzy shouted in matching levels of distress.

“Alright” he said and, dashing into the kitchen, he opened the cabinet and grabbed the key for Izzy’s car from the hooks on the inside of the door.

By the time he was back in the lounge Alec had Izzy dressed in what was likely the least coordinated outfit she’d worn in her whole life, quite possibly even the day of her own birth, and they were heading for the front door.

Magnus followed closely behind, closing and locking the front door, dashing past them to then open the doors to the car where Izzy crawled into the back seat, grabbing Alec by the scruff of the neck and dragging him in with her.

Magnus hesitated for a second, wondering if he should do something to save his boyfriend but then Izzy screamed at the same time as clenching and breathing (Magnus had no idea how all those things happened at once) so he slammed the door, abandoning Alec to his fate, and raced around to the drivers seat.

The drive over wasn’t comfortable for anyone involved and Magnus had never been prouder of himself than when he pulled up at the entrance with his hearing in tact, not a scratch on the car and no police tail.

He dove out, circled the car and opened the back door, watching Alec scrabble out, hair dishevelled, buttons missing from the top of his Henley and a worryingly haunted look in his eyes.

“She needs a wheelchair” he babbled out as he turned to help his sister out of the back seat, and Magnus headed off, always the helpful boyfriend, returning with a nurse as well as a chair just as Alec straightened up and turned.  His eyes clocked the nurse and then he looked at Magnus as though he had hung the moon and the stars.

“Mrs Lightwood-Lewis…” the nurse said as she helped Alec guide her into the chair.  “Let’s get you in and set up in your room.  When was your last contraction…”.

Alec and Magnus both stood still and watched as the nurse pushed her in, shell shocked.  They were jolted out of their daze when Izzy screamed ‘Alec!’ as she went through the double doors and into the building.

They looked at one another, Alec in panic and Magnus in sympathy.

“Go” the older man said, “I’ll park the car…” he was talking as he moved to the trunk and grabbed Izzy’s bag out, thrusting it into Alec’s arms.  “…and be right with you”.

Alec nodded, eyes wide and face pale.  “Bring coffee” he ordered quietly and then Magnus watched him turn and hurry after his sister’s shouts.

Magnus had done his duty faithfully.  He’d parked the car and then purchased coffee in the café on the ground floor.  By then Alec had text him to advise him the floor and room number, also informing him that Simon had arrived and Izzy’s contractions were now less than 5 minutes apart.

When Magnus reached the floor he found Alec sat on chairs just outside the room, jigging both of his legs nervously while he stared at the noticeboard opposite him.  He walked across his eyeline, disturbing Alec from his thoughts so his younger boyfriend looked at him as he handed him his coffee.

“You okay?” Magnus asked, a little worried about the look on Alec’s face.

Alec took the coffee, but continued to stare at Magnus for a moment before finally admitting.  “I’m really glad I’m gay”.

Magnus promptly snorted his own coffee out of his nose, thankful he’d had a lot of milk which took the temperature down enough that he didn’t scold his nostrils.

Before he could respond any further the door to Izzy’s room burst open and Simon appeared, eyes bright and huge grin on his face.

“Alec, we need you” he said enthusiastically.

“What?!” Alec looked horrified.

“Iz needs someone to hold her hand but she wants me to film the actual birth so she told me to get you” he was waving his phone around to emphasis his words.

“But…” Alec looked at Magnus for help, then glared when all Magnus could do was flap his mouth silently, doing his best impersonation of a fish.

“Come on dude!” Simon was still grinning as though it was perfectly normal to demand a brothers attendance when his sister gives birth.

“What… I can’t…” Alec argued, trying to think of a way to say what he was thinking.

Simon finally noticed his hesitance, “What’s wrong?”.

“Well, that’s a bit more than I want to see of my sister!” Alec finally got out.

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood!” he heard his sister yell from inside the room, clearly she had been able to hear everything being said.  “Grow a pair and get your fucking ass in here right now!”.

Simon looked panicked then and started to wave his free hand in a ‘come on’ gesture.

Alec took one more look at Magnus, who opened his mouth, paused and closed it again, before he groaned and stood up, following Simon back inside, resigned to the task at hand.

Thankfully Laila had arrived speedily and he was able to scarper as quickly as possible, Izzy and Simon distracted by their first moments with their baby girl.  Despite the trauma of witnessing the whole thing, Alec did take a moment at the door to look back and take in the view of his sister’s little family.  It brought a smile to his lips.

 

~~~~~

 

He had to chuckle to himself as he slid his phone back into his pocket, winding his way through the corridors until he reached the M.E.s office where he had agreed to meet Lydia.  Regardless of the urgency the whole event had been carried out in, it was a fond memory.

When he pushed through the doors into autopsy Lydia was already there, not that he doubted she wouldn’t be, with Nath and chatting casually over the body that was covered with a sheet between them, her back to the door.

Nath saw him first and they smiled, then gave a small wave in greeting, which made Lydia turn, her eyes brightening at the sight of her lead detective and friend.

“Hey!” she welcomed him warmly.  “Welcome back, don’t ever go away again”.

Alec smiled, “I don’t think I can promise that, Magnus is already planning our next vacation”.

She groaned, “I knew you settling down would be a bad thing.  You never took vacations when you were single”.

He couldn’t help but chuckle at her words, knowing she didn’t actually mean any of it.  “This our guy?”.

Nath nodded in confirmation.  “Just finished up, I’ll get the report done now and email it over to you but basically he was in good health.  Cause of death was as suspected, bullet to the left temple and death would have been instantaneous.  The bullet was embedded in the door frame, Simon and his team are working on it.  Time of death was between 5:00am and 7:00am.  His penis was cut off…”

Alec make a gurgled choked sound at the thought of it.

“…post -mortem…”

They all paused for a collective sigh of relief.

“…and I found traces of lipstick on the exterior and ejaculate remnant in the interior”.

Alec look at Lydia, who looked back at him, then they both looked at Nath again. 

“He had sex that morning, not long before he was killed” they explained.

“Huh” Alec said.  “In the car?”.

Nath shrugged, “I can’t answer that for sure, forensics will be able to but there was no ejaculate on the rest of his body”.

Alec paused for a moment, then asked, “Any saliva trace on it?”.

“Taken the swabs and sent to forensics” Nath advised.

“Anything else we should know?” he asked and Lydia hid her smile at how easily he had slid straight back into his role.

“That’s all I have, like I said, pretty good health and the shot would have killed him instantly”.

“Okay” Alec smiled at them, “Thanks Nath”.

“Good to have you back Alec” they added then headed off to the bank of computer’s, likely to fill out the report which would be heading his way soon.

Alec turned to Lydia, “So…?”.

She smiled widely, “Let’s get some more coffee and Maia can take you through everything so far”.

They started walking, making their way out of autopsy and turned for the elevator.

“How’s she getting on?” he asked, not having worked with her for a long period before he took his leave.  What he had seen had impressed him and he was sure her performance had only strengthened since he had been away.

“She’s great” Lydia replied.  “Smart, driven, dedicated and like a dog with a bone”.

“But?” he prompted as they called the elevator and then stepped into the carriage when it arrived.

“Trying to run before she can walk and gets frustrated when she can’t do something, which can have her losing concentration.  Stickler for everything as per procedure so doesn’t know when to push forensics or the M.E. yet”.

“Well the good news is, all of that can be trained out of or into her” he commented.

“She fit right in though” Lydia added.

“You know Jace started today?” he looked down at her, catching her look of surprise.

“Really?” her eyes shot up in surprise.  “I didn’t know he had taken his exams?”.

“He hasn’t” Alec corrected, “He’s been seconded to Scott’s team, I’m not sure of the reasons why.  He called at an inopportune moment”.

Lydia snorted, “Yeah, he has a habit of doing that”.

The elevator arrived on their floor and they stepped out, immediately having to avoid two workmen who were wrestling what looked like an air-conditioning unit through the corridor.

“I will be glad when all of this is over” Lydia muttered once they had been able to squeeze past and, after a short walk, Lydia let them both into their allocated room with her key card.

“It’s supposed to be improvements” he peered out the doors windows at what he could see going on in the rest of the floor while Lydia started up the coffee machine.

“When it’s done it had better be” she retorted.

Alec stepped further into the room, taking a moment to have a look around.  “Where is everyone?” he asked.

“Andrew ran out to get us some lunch and I sent Maia down to Simon to get your key card.  She should be back up any minute”.

He ran his finger tips over the desk, his eyes on the new smartboard that was displaying the information gathered so far on the Pedrosa case.

“So…” he tried for a casual tone though he wasn’t sure if he managed to pull it off.  “What’s the new guy like?”.

“Woolsey?” she said it as though there was another new guy.  “From what I’ve heard pretty good.  He came from Chicago, had a average closure rate in their organised crime division”.

Alec nodded slowly, avoiding her eyes.  “Any idea why he came to New York?”.

“I haven’t really had the chance to speak with him” she said honestly, pouring out the coffees.  “I assumed he wanted to move into homicide”.

“He sounds British”, he commented.

“Yeah, that I do know is correct” she held out his coffee and he took it with a grateful nod.  “Any particular reason for the interest?”.

Alec shrugged, ‘because he’s my boyfriends ex and I want to know what he’s doing here’.  “Just want to know who’s joining the department” he lied, “The last guy didn’t work out too well”.

Lydia’s face softened.  “How did it go this morning?”.

He sighed and sat down at the table.  “Will looked rung out when he came out of that court room.  He said it was okay, Verlac’s lawyer didn’t have much to ask, went along the route that it was all consensual.  He suggested he hit him too hard and panicked so he left him in the basement”.

“Tied to a mattress?”.

“Ragnor redirected and put it straight”.  A small smile touched Alec’s lips when he thought of Ragnor’s praise for Will and how well he had held up.

“When do you have to testify?” she asked softly.

He swallowed, a lump catching in his throat.  “Tomorrow morning, me and Max” he answered in a tone that suggested it was all he was going to say on the matter.

Thankfully Maia arrived, bouncing in the door with a grin on her face.  “Lightwood, good to have you back!” she exclaimed as she threw a key card in his direction which he caught with ease.  “Did I see Wayland up here in civies this morning?”.

“Yeah.  I need to talk to him, do you know where he is?” he asked, suddenly feeling guilty that he hadn’t followed up with his adopted brother about his news.

“Out with Scott at the moment, they’re working on some doctor who was killed in an illegal clinic” she explained as she dropped down into a chair next to him after accepting a coffee from Lydia.

“Right” Alec filed that away, fully intending on asking Jace about Woolsey at the first available opportunity.  Preferably when Izzy wasn’t around, she’d see right through him.

“Might be worth taking him for a drink later” she suggested, then explained further when Alec lifted an eyebrow at her.  “His team consists of Raj and Aldertree”.

Alec visibly winced at the thought of working with those two bigots.

“Not sure what the captain was thinking with that grouping” Lydia muttered into her mug.

“Maybe he was hoping Jace would rub off on them” Alec replied.

“I’m sure he will” Maia agreed, “Just not in the way he’s thinking”.

The door burst open then and Alec flinched, then scolded himself internally when he saw Andrew come in, carrying two takeout bags from Java Jones.

“Good to see you Alec” he welcomed as he dropped the bags on the table and headed for the coffee machine, Lydia moving out of his way so she could start unpacking the sandwiches he been sent for.

Alec watched his favourite being placed in front of him and a warm feeling spread through him.  “Thanks” he said quietly to Lydia and she threw him a wink before taking a seat on his other side and passing Maia and Andrew, once he had sat, their food as well.

There was some small talk between bites of food.  Alec shared some details of his vacation, focused on Indonesia.  Maia talked about how she was feeling about her new role, and also shared what specifically had happened to the two partners Jace had  burnt through while Alec had been away.  Andrew revealed he and Stephen were moving to a bigger home and Lydia, much to Alec’s amazement but pleasure, was dating.

“Lydia, you’ve known him years” Andrew argued, “If he was new I could understand your reluctance to let us meet him, but you must have been telling him about us for ages now”.

“I have” she agreed, “which is why he doesn’t want to meet you”.

Alec laughed lowly at the indignant look on Andrew’s face, then he screwed up the paper from his sandwich and threw it straight into the trashcan.

He did a quick visual check, making sure his team had eaten and drunk before he took a deep breath, feeling like he was diving back in.

“Okay, so who get’s to bring me up to date?” he asked.

Lydia nodded and Maia, who jumped up with enthusiasm and stood by the smartboard.

“Carlos Pedrosa was found by Frank Thompson at 7:30am, already deceased from what appeared to be a bullet wound to his left temple and his penis was found in his lap.  We’re still waiting on forensics, they processed the vehicle interior and exterior, the driveway and the outside of the home…” as she spoke she was able to open files on the smartboard which included the victim’s picture, the location and crime scene photos that have been logged already.

“Andrew and I completed the death notification.  His only relative was an older brother, Ricky Pedrosa,  who’s not long out of prison.  They had a close relationship, Ricky said they spent every Friday together playing pool in Devil’s Tavern”.

Alec narrowed his eyes at her tone.  “But?”.

“He was… off”.

Alec looked between her and Andrew, then back again, remembering they had mentioned this same thing the day before.  “In what way?”.

“Not sure.  I couldn’t tell if he was hiding something or outright lying” she answered.  “Andrew advised me that we should wait until we have some leverage before we speak to him again”.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, knowing exactly what his next step would be but wanting Maia to figure it through herself.

She took a deep breath, feeling the pinch of three experienced detectives watching her.  “I want to take a trip down to Devils Tavern and see if any regulars or the staff recognise either of the brothers”.

“Why?” Alec asked kindly, no challenge or trickery in the question.

“I want to know if they are there every Friday and I want to know what they are doing there.  Ricky claims they are playing pool, but I’m not so sure”.

“What do you suspect?” he pushed further, twisting his coffee mug on the table.

Maia hesitated, thinking about what Alec would ask.  “I want to know if they met anyone there”.

Alec smiled at her, “You and Andrew run with it”.

Her eyes brightened and she looked at Andrew who gave her a nod.  “Okay”.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“Yes” Maia said.  “Lydia has spoken with the business partner…” and she looked to Lydia to take over the conversation as she had yet to file her report.

“The business partner is Tim Dearborn…” she continued.  “He was pretty upset, but he confirmed why Carlos was at the property.  He’s agreed to meet us at another property tomorrow…” she glanced at Alec, “…afternoon?” she said the final word as a question.

Alec nodded that he would be able to do that.

“He did say that there had been some past complaints from customers they had lost.  He’s emailed them over to me so we just need to give them a call.  He also gave me the ex-boyfriends name, Lowell Willemse.  I was able to get hold of him last night and he said that Carlos was bisexual and they’d separated because he had met someone knew.  All he could tell me was the new flame is a woman”.

“How did he sound?” he asked Lydia, taking a gulp of coffee.

“Upset, about the break up and even more so about Carlos’ death” she chewed her bottom lip and tapped her nails on the desk top thoughtfully.  “I didn’t get the impression he could be a suspect but he said his flatmate can confirm he was home all that morning.  I need to call him today to confirm”.

“Okay, is that everything?” he did a doublecheck.

“I’ve been looking through very limited CCTV and we have some vehicles to follow up on.  It’s a residential area so there aren’t many cameras but there are some traffic cameras and they’re sending over any captures they got” Andrew offered.

“How are we on the warrant for him home address?” Alec asked.

“Shit” Lydia swore and whipped her phone out, “Aline called…”.

Alec’s heart jumped briefly at her name, someone he called friend, someone who had also suffered during the fallout from Sebastian’s actions.  He hadn’t really spoken to her though he had heard she was suspended pending investigation, then reinstated when she was found to be completely innocent of any involvement.  Alec hadn’t thought for one moment that she had been involved but he also hadn’t spoken with her since her suspension, not entirely sure what he would say.

He knew that a conversation was well overdue so he cleared his throat.

“I’ll call her” he told Lydia, who gave him an understanding nod.

Chapter Text

Alec chose to step out of the room to make the call, wanting to have some level of privacy.  He headed for the gents washroom and, checking the stalls to ensure he was alone, he lent his ass against one of the sinks and placed a call to Aline.

She answered halfway through the third ring, her voice was hesitant when she said, “Alec?”.

He took a deep breath, “Hi Aline”.

There were a few, long seconds of silence before she spoke again.  “Hi”.

He looked down at his feet as he shuffled them awkwardly.  “How… how have you been?”.

She snorted, “You’re worried about how I have been?” her voice incredulous.  “You haven’t changed a bit Alec, what does it take for you to put yourself first?”.

And that brought a genuine smile to his lips.  “I’m fine Aline”.

The ADA sighed, “Me to”.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch…”.

“You really don’t have to be sorry Alec” her voice had gone soft now.  “I understand why it was difficult”.

“I never thought you had any involvement, I just…” he raked a hand through his hair, “It just felt too close”.

“I know” Aline reassured her.

“How’s Helen?” he asked, trying to change the subject.

“She’s great.  She’s changed roles again and working in the surgical suite.  She’s made an impression on Dr Loss who regularly selects her whenever she is performing surgery”.

“That’s great, I’m really happy for her”.  He truly meant that, Cat was the best surgeon in New York and for her to select Helen was quite the compliment.

There was a stutter in the conversation again, this time Aline changed the subject.

“So, are you calling to break the ice or is there something I can do for you, professionally?”.

“Uh, yeah” he said.  “You called Lydia about the warrant for Carlos Pedrosa…”.

“Oh, yes” she said, “there’s been a delay.  This issue with the judges is causing havoc but I can get it to you later today.  Is that going to be okay?”.

“Of course” he answered.

Another pause, then he heard her take a deep breath.  “Ragnor said that he’d been able to stop Sebastian’s trial being delayed”.

Alec looked down at his feet again.  “Yeah, it started today”.

“when do you…”

“Tomorrow morning” he interrupted, his tone probably a little harsher than he meant to be.

Another deep breath.  “Alec, I’m really sorry but… I have been subpoenaed to testify for the defense.  I’ve tried to get out of it but…”.

He sighed, his stomach knotting with dread, but he swallowed it away.  “It’s okay Aline, I understand”.

“Okay” her voice cracked and she took a moment to steady herself.  “Maybe, when this is all done, you and Magnus could… would you like to have dinner with Helen and I?”.

“Yeah” and he was surprised himself that his answer was so fast.  Talking to her today he realised how much he had missed his friend.  “That would be good”.

This time her sigh was filled with relief, “Great, I’ll let Helen know.  And I’ll get you that warrant so you can get into the apartment”.

The door to the washroom opened and he looked up to see Woolsey walk in, pausing in the doorway when he noticed Alec.

“Thanks Aline” he said, listening to her say goodbye and ending the call, stuffing the phone in the pocket of his pants.

“Hi” Woolsey said as he headed for one of the urinals.

Alec turned around to face the sink, twisting on the taps and taking a moment to wash his hands.  “Hi”.

“So, I hear Jace is your brother?” the blonde commented.

Alec rinsed the soap from his hands and moved across to the paper towel dispenser, grabbing a handful before attempting to dry his hands as quickly as possible.

“Yeah” he answered shortly.

Woolsey appeared at the sink next to him.  “He’s got some talent.  Needs a little polishing off but he could go a long way.  Has he told you when he intends to sit the actual detective’s exams?”.

“No” Alec dropped the towels into the trashcan and turned to face the new lead detective, not hiding the fact that he was sizing him up.  “You moved here from Chicago”.

Woolsey tried to hide the smile on his lips but didn’t do too good a job.  “Checking up on the new guy huh?”.

Alec shrugged casually, but didn’t say anything.

“Yeah” he answered, reaching to Alec’s side to grab his own paper towels.  “I’ve lived here before, some of my happiest memories are here…” he avoided Alec’s eyes.  “And I’ve wanted to make the move to homicide for a while”.

“Chicago not have a homicide role for you?” he suggested, crossing his arms over his chest.

Woolsey dumped his paper towels, then stood in front of the mirror to adjust his hair, “Not any time soon, so I took a chance”.

“Hum” Alec pushed away from the wall and headed for the door, but was stopped on the threshold by Woolsey next statement.

“You caught Valentine, right?” he studied Alec’s face carefully when he spoke and it made the younger man a little uneasy.  “The first time that is”.

“Yeah” he could feel himself bristling, not sure where the conversation was going.

“You didn’t want a second go at it?”  Woolsey asked, something challenging in his smile.

“The FBI is handling it this time” Alec explained, “As it was an escape from federal prison”.

“Oh, I thought they were looking for local support as well” he looked back into the mirror, adjusting his tie and smoothing out his shirt.  “Maybe I was mistaken”.

Alec did know that the FBI agents looking for Valentine were convinced he was still in New York, and they had indeed selected officers and detectives from precincts throughout the city to aid in the investigation.  But he hadn’t been approached and there had been no explanation as to why.  Though he suspected it had to do with his experiences at the hands of his son and what Sebastian’s did to Jonathan in vengeance on behalf of Alec.

“You weren’t mistaken” he replied.  “I wasn’t asked”.

Woolsey feigned surprise, he was either an atrocious actor or he didn’t care if Alec knew how insincere he was being.  “I’m sorry to hear that”.

“I’m not”, he stated quickly, then decided to put an end to the conversation.  “Good luck with your murdered doctor”.

Woolsey smiled a little too sweetly, “Thanks”.

Alec let the door swing closed and wandered back to their room, narrowly avoiding getting covered in paint when one of the workmen dropped his brush as he passed.  He waved off the man’s apology, knowing he was just as much to blame as he had been lost to his thoughts.  Something about Woolsey was rubbing him up the wrong way and he couldn’t quite get a grip on their interaction.  He was usually a good judge of character, Sebastian not withstanding and he didn’t want to believe that it might be his history with Magnus that was affecting him.  But the other option was that he was losing his touch and as that thought entered his head he felt a wave of self-doubt shoot through him.

When he walked back into their office he found Lydia on her cell and judging from her side of the conversation she was confirming the ex-boyfriends alibi.

He could see Andrew was in the system and downloading footage that had been allocated to them from the traffic division, likely any captures from various cameras in the area. 

It was Maia that seemed interested in his return as she headed over to him from where she had been watching Andrew over his shoulder.

“Alec, can I ask you something?”.

“Sure” he encouraged her as he switched the coffee machine on.

“I was thinking I could call the brother, Ricky, and see if he knows anything about a girlfriend?” her tone said she wasn’t entirely sure if it was worth while.

Alec smiled at her, “Go for it.  It’s best to do that now before you challenge him about his story, cause he likely won’t be cooperative after”.

She beamed back at him, “Okay, thanks” and then bounced over to the computer banks, looking up the number for the half-way house to make the call.

Lydia appeared at his side, both of them watching her move.  “What month did you get in the pool?” he asked her.

“Nine months” she replied, “You?”.

“Six months” he replied, “Magnus has eleven months”.

“So,” Lydia changed the subject.  “The ex’s alibi stands.  Flatmate confirms he was in and even said they were sending over the CCTV footage from the building manager for the night.  Apparently it shows him coming home the night before and going to work in the morning.  I’ll get Maia to confirm it but I think that’s a dead end”.

“Sounds like it to me but at least we’ve tied it off” he poured them both coffee then looked at her.  “Did we get the list of customers that complained about him yet?.

Lydia nodded, using her phone one-handed to send over the email to his address.

“Okay” he pulled up the email and took his coffee over to the desk in the centre of the room.  “Let’s give them all a call”.

She joined him, having located a pad and pen for each of them to take notes on.  “There’s 13 in total.  You start at the top and I’ll start at the bottom, race you to the middle?”.

“Sounds like a plan to me” he replied, readjusting the pad, grabbing the pen and coping down the first number to call.

 

*****

 

When he’d walked into the court he had been surprised to see Lightwood leaving the building.  He was walking with a young man in a wheelchair and Malcolm realised, belatedly, that it was Will Herondale.  The Mayor was also with them, though she looked decidedly uncomfortable and he suspected it was due to the other man who was talking animatedly at her.  And it was most definitely ‘at’ her because she was barely acknowledging him.  He seemed to be enjoying himself considerably and Malcolm found himself even more intrigued by Magnus Bane.  He wondered if he would have liked him, but his fate was sealed so there was no point musing on what could never come to pass.

He skirted around them, merging into the crowd and made his way up to the court room.  The doors had been propped open the lunch break though spectators were still allowed to come and go.  He headed through and took a moment to take in the room. 

It was one of the more standard rooms, not the grander rooms that were on the ground floor.  The walls were painted white but there was coving of warm oak that ran around the whole room.  There were also decorative columns running up the walls from the panelling that rose about a meter up from the skirting.  All in the same wood.

The judges bench, flags on either side of the chair, was against the wall directly opposite the main door, and there were two single doors either side of.  One would let the jury in, this one to the left of the judge and the one on the right would be where the judge and the stenographer would appear from.

In front of the bench, and fenced off from where those testifying, supportive family and friends as well as the press sat, were two desks both with two chairs behind them.  The one on the left would be where Verlac sat with his lawyer, the one on the right would be the prosecutor and, if he had one, a second-chair.

He moved across the room, ignoring the worn, sickly yellow carpet, to sit in the far back, right corner so, when he twisted slightly on his chair, he could see the door that was set in the left hand wall which is where Verlac would be escorted in and out of and he would also have a good view of Verlac throughout the trial.

This was the perfect spot, he wasn’t here for the trial.  In fact, he had very little interest in who was testifying.  He was here to get a feel for Verlac, make sure he knew exactly what he looked like and, with the right timing, look into his eyes.  He wanted to make sure that his ending was planned right and that it was a fitting end to the young man’s story.

He checked his watch and sure enough he was 30 minutes early, court would start after lunch so he settled into his seat and took out his phone, deciding to send some emails and confirm the delivery of some important goods while he waited.

 

*****

 

Alec used his phone to check the time as he stepped into the elevator and wondered how the hell it was already 7:40pm.

The team had spent the afternoon on their respective tasks, Andrew and Maia coming to a dead end with the vehicles in the area, all legal and accounted for.  Maia had called Ricky and he had also denied any knowledge of a new girlfriend and, judging from his response, he was also not aware that his bother had been bisexual.

He and Lydia had worked their way through the list of 13 complaints, Lydia beating him to the final call.  It had brought up some still angry people, and there was a theme of damage to properties while they were empty and in the hands of Carlos to sell.  But, overall, there didn’t seem to be anyone angry enough to commit murder. 

Still, Alec had insisted on running each name through the system, as well as looking at relatives and known associates.  But again, there were very few leads and nothing violent.  They closed it off as another dead end.

By this point they were into the early evening and he had let Lydia, Maia and Andrew go while he stayed to read up on their case in more detail, still feeling like he was behind.  He’d also hung back as he was hoping to run into Jace, but it looked as though his brother had gone home without returning to the office.  Alec had fired off a text to him to ask him how it had gone but by the time he shut down the computer and grabbed his coat he still hadn’t heard back.

Now he was looking at his phone as the elevator rose up to the penthouse, finally almost home.  He flinched when he phone suddenly rang and he almost dropped it as it vibrated violently at the edge of his palm.  He tightened his grip and answered it with the slide of his thumb, seeing the caller was Andrew.

“Andrew, aren’t you supposed to be home?” he asked before even greeting him.

Andrew chuckled, “Where are you?” he asked pointedly.

“About to walk into out loft” he replied, pleased with himself that he was actually being truthfully.

“How many hours after you told us to go?” he shot back good naturedly.

Alec grunted, “Okay, point taken” he acquiesced.

“Maia and I are heading out to Devils Tavern” he explained, “We’re going to ask a few questions, show their photo’s around”.

“You want some extra hands?” he asked.  Devils Tavern wasn’t the most salubrious of bars, but it also wasn’t known to be overly violent.  He wasn’t concerned about their safety, but he wanted to make sure they felt comfortable with the task as well.

"Nah” Andrew dismissed the suggestion casually, “I’ve actually been there a number of times with Stephen, they really do have good pool tables”.

Alec huffed a breath out, a smile on his lips.  “Okay,  Lydia’s in charge in the morning as I have court so I’ll see you in the afternoon.  But let me know if anything… pertinent comes up”.

Andrew read between the lines, ‘if it all kicks off you need to call me’“Sure thing boss”.

He ended the call as the doors slid open to the foyer and he stepped out as he dropped the phone back into his pocket, his eyes on the black wood doors that led into their home.  Inside was the love of his life and he felt the familiar butterflies within when he thought of Magnus.  Although this time his sister and niece were also waiting inside.

He opened the doors quietly, not sure where Izzy would have Laila and whether she would be awake or asleep.  And with her current bouts of croupe he was seriously worried his sister would actually kill him if he woke her from a nap.

Stepping in he realised he needn’t have worried and he closed the door behind him, pulling his jacket off and hanging it in the closet.  There was music playing softly, a jazz album that Magnus was fond of when he cooked and he could smell the aromatic results of his boyfriends culinary skills.

With that knowledge in mind he made his way through the lounge to the double doors that had been left open and led into the kitchen, stopping in surprise at the sight in front of him.

Maryse was sat at the table, attempting to feed Laila who was sat on her lap but far too alert, her eyes trying to follow each and every person that was milling around. 

Magnus was, as suspected, stood at the hob with several varying pots and pans on the go but currently slapping Izzy’s hands away as she tried to assist him, a jar of some kind of spice in the hand he was attempting to redirect.

Jace had his head in the fridge, passing bottles of beer back to Clary and Max, who had been keeping a careful eye on Maryse to see if she noticed what he was up to.

“Put it back Max” Alec said over the music, jolting everyone into the realisation that he was home.

Max whipped round, a bright smile on his face which then turned into a frown when he had to hand the beer over to Clary with a sulky sigh.

“Darling!” Magnus exclaimed, a bright smile on his face and his eyes sparking, though Alec wasn’t entirely sure if that was from pleasure or the glitter that had been applied.  “Please take your sister far away from the food” he finished,

Alec headed straight for the two of them, slipping an arm around Izzy’s waist at the same time as pressing a firm, chaste kiss to Magnus lips.

“Hi” he murmured against them.

“Hi” Magnus replied softly.

Then, with a intake of air, he turned to his sister.  “Please leave Magnus alone Izzy, we all know what will happened if you get involved and I am actually pretty hungry.  I’d like to not have to wait for takeaway to replace the damaged goods”.

She huffed indignantly as Alec guided her towards the table, letting her choose her own seat while he kissed his mothers cheek.

“Hey mom” he greeted her.

“Hi sweetie” she said, glancing up from monitoring Laila’s feeding.  “How was work?”.

Alec shrugged as he stroked his hand gently over his nieces’ head.  She responded by opening her mouth and burping around the teat of her bottle.  Alec rolled his eyes with amusement then turned when he felt a firm hand on his shoulder.

Jace had him in a hug before he could say anything, letting him go after a bruising squeeze.  “It is good to have you home buddy” he grinned, mismatched eyes full of happiness.

“Thanks” Alec said, “How was your first day?”.

“Pretty damn good actually” he said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans.  “Raj and Victor are still dicks…”

“Jace!” Maryse scolded, eyes looking meaningfully at Laila.

“…but that just means they get stuck on the majority of desk duty and administrative tasks while I get to go out in the field”, he carried on, blatantly ignoring the scolding, likely thinking it was completely unnecessary as Laila was barely laughing, let alone learning language.

Alec took a glance over his shoulder and saw Magnus’ focus was back on the food he was monitoring, so Alec went back to his brother.  “I’d like to hear what you think of the new guy” he said, “but not now”.

Jace frowned at him, “Why, what’s up?”.

Alec waved away the question.  “We’ll talk tomorrow”.

“Okay” Jace drew out the word, a suspicious look on his face.  “But you’re being weird”.

“Alec’s always been weird” Max said as he passed by on his way to sit at the table.

And before Alec could respond he saw a beer being held out to him, a dainty hand wrapped around the frosted bottle.  He followed the arm up and looked into murky green eyes to see Clary smiling at him.

“Hey Clary” he said in greeting and took the bottle gratefully.

“How was your vacation?” she asked, wrapping her arm through Jace’s and leaning against his side.

Alec’s smile widened as he thought of the time he and Magnus had been able to spend alone together.  But then he looked around the room, knowing what Magnus had done and why, his heart swelling even more and he realised the older man had made the right decision when he had brought them home.

He needed his family.

“It was great” his eyes drifted over to Magnus who was starting to pull dishes out of the cabinets.  “Listen, you guys sit, I’m gonna…” and he waved his hand in his boyfriends direction.

Clary nodded and she and Jace moved over to the table as well, joining Maryse, Izzy, Laila and Max while Alec headed in the opposite direction.

When he reached Magnus’ side he placed a hand on the small of his back, fingers spread so he could touch as much of him as possible.

“What can I do?” he asked, placing the beer on the countertop.

Magnus turned, handing him a stack of plates.  “You, my love, can set the table for me”.

Alec looked down into the golden eyes, he risked a glance at the table on the opposite side of the room where the noise was ramping up quickly, then when he came back Magnus was still smiling but there were worry lines around his eyes.  And that just wouldn’t do, so Alec kissed him again, his lips lingering a little longer this time.

“Thank you” he whispered when they parted again.  “For doing this”.

Magnus ran a hand down Alec’s arm, then squeezed his wrist, thumb rubbing over his pulse point.  “You are very welcome sayang.  But never fear, it is just Izzy and Laila who are staying the night”.

Alec laughed then moved away as Magnus released him.  He wasn’t wrong, their support this evening was perfect, but a sleepover with all of them would likely have driven him over the edge.

He joined his family, setting out the plates and then returning to the kitchen to fetch the cutlery.  Izzy was allowed to assist in gathering everyone’s preferred drinks and by the time the table was straight and everyone was comfortable Magnus was bringing over the first dishes, having gone with Indian food for the evening.

With the dishes served Alec and Magnus settled at the table beside one another, Maryse jumping in immediately with question after question about their vacation.  Magnus answered each one diligently and with animated detail, regaling tales of his mother’s homeland with obvious fondness and delight.  Alec added in his perspective, but he was also mesmerised by his boyfriends face, watching him with a lopsided grin on his own.  He had realised how much the vacation meant to himself, but this was the first time he knew it had meant a great deal to Magnus as well.  He had assumed it was an opportunity for Magnus to revisit places he had enjoyed before, but it became clear it was actually his chance to show Alec experiences that had made him who he was.  It eased the sting of Magnus reluctance to talk about his earlier years just a little.

By the time dinner was done there wasn’t a bite left and Laila was making it known, clearly and loudly, that she felt it was time for bed.  Maryse stepped up to the plate, thrilled with the opportunity to take her granddaughter through her nightly routine and Izzy was more than happy for her to take over, Magnus almost loosing his hand as he passed Izzy a glass of wine.

As soon as the initial grizzles had started, Max, Jace and Clary disappeared into the lounge and, by the level of noise floating in from there, Max had broken out his Nintendo Switches and a tournament had been hastily organised.  When he found out, Simon would not be happy he missed it.

That turned out to be an hour later when he called, Izzy delighting in letting him know what he was missing by taking him around the loft where he could witness each group hard at their chosen tasks, though Alec wasn’t sure how he and Magnus drew the short straw in clearing up.

With the dishwasher full and all surfaces cleaned down, Magnus and Alec joined his siblings in the lounge, Maryse arriving a few minutes later, everyone in time to see Jace get his ass kicked by Clary, who then also proceeded to give Max a run for his money, only to be beaten in the very final race.  For the first time ever the youngest Lightwood had looked honestly concerned that he might lose, and that switched to quiet admiration for Clary that she had challenged him.  He happily declared that she could stand in for Simon at any and all future events, bringing a blush to both Clary and Jace’s cheeks at what Max was implying, whether he meant to or not.

Finally, around 9:30m, their visitors had left and Izzy had retired to the spare room where her daughter was also sleeping.  Alec had helped her take her final bag into her room with her, taking the opportunity while Izzy stepped into the bathroom to change, to bend over the travel cot and kiss his niece on the forehead.  She wriggled in her sleep, clenched and let out an all mighty fart, forcing Alec to slap a hand over his mouth, desperately trying to keep in the laugh that was trying to force its way out.

This was how Izzy found him when she came back out of the bathroom in shorts and a t-shirt, her head swept up into a messy bun and face make-up free.

She paused when she saw Alec from behind gazing down into the cot with his shoulders shaking.

She frowned at him suspiciously, “What’s going on?”.

He looked over his shoulder at her, watching her come towards him.  “Nothing, she’s just so much like you”.

Izzy lent into his side and looked down at her little girl.  She was still amazed at the wave of love that would flow through her when she looked at her daughter, a perfect little mix of her and Simon.  She knew when her family looked at Laila they saw the dark hair, which had just grown thicker and longer from the tufts she had already had when she born, her dark brown eyes framed with long lashes and her pale skin.  But Izzy could see Simon’s nose, his heavy eyebrows and slim lips.

“I don’t know, she looks a lot like Simon too” she defended her husband’s genes, reaching into the cot and stroking Laila’s cheek softly with her finger.

When she withdrew her hand and looked back up at her big brother she could see the smirk on his face.  She narrowed her eyes at him, “She farted didn’t she?”.

He snorted in amusement at the look on her face.

She rolled her eyes, stood on tiptoe to kiss him on the cheek then slapped him on the arm.  “Get out of here, go see to that thoughtful man of yours, who, incidentally…” she added in a different tone, “…is an excellent cook”.

Alec planted a kiss on the top of her head, managing to find it amongst the hair she had piled high.  “Night Iz”.

“Night hermano” and she watched him leave, her heart heavy knowing what he had to do the following day.  But with a splutter and a coo she didn’t have long to turn it over in her mind, looking down again to see her daughters dark eyes staring up at her and her face starting to wrinkle. Face reddening as Izzy reach for her.

Alec didn’t immediately seek out Magnus, instead taking the time to go through the loft, both levels, and check all the doors and windows were appropriately secured.  It was a habit he had quickly developed after staying the night regularly and discovering Magnus’ penchant for opening doors and windows all over the place then abandoning them that way.

Granted, they were in the penthouse on the top floor, which was 10 floors up, so an intruder would have to be very committed.  But with Valentine still on the loose, along with what Alec does for a living and what Magnus used to do, he refused to risk anything.  Even more so now that his sister and niece were also with them.

By the time he was satisfied and stepped into their bedroom Magnus was sat at his vanity, wearing his black silk robe and matching pyjama bottoms, removing his jewellery and storing it away safely.

“How are our guests darling?” he asked, watching Alec move around the bedroom in his mirror, a gentle smile on his lips.  “All settled in?”.

“Yeah…” he answered, not looking up as he was plugging his cell into the charger on his side of the bed.  “Laila was fast sleep already”.

Magnus finished with his rings, closing the ornate silver jewellery box, and moved onto his earrings.  “And are we all secure for the night?”.

Alec glanced at him from over his shoulder, the question coming just as he was checking the windows to their bedroom.  “Yes, everything is closed and locked up”.

Magnus’ smile widened and he let his eyes drift away from Alec’s reflection back to his own, removing his final cuff before drawing his necklaces over his head and hanging them on the jewellery tree to the right of the table.

He drew out his make up wipes and pretended to be focused on cleaning while he was really keep a close eye on his boyfriend while he moved across the room behind him, pulling his shirt over his head as he made his way to the walk-in closet.  Aside from the obvious opportunity of seeing his boyfriend strip he was also looking for signs of tension.  He’d hoped that having the Lightwood clan over for dinner would have helped and it certainly seemed to have the desired affect. 

But now everyone had left and the loft was quiet, he and Alec wrapped up in the intimate cocoon of their bedroom.  Magnus had plenty of tricks up his sleeve that he was more than willing to use with Alec for either relaxation or distraction, both innocent and smutty.  But once his lover was asleep there was nothing he could do, and he would be alone to battle against his subconscious.  It left Magnus feeling powerless and that frightened him.

He realised he had stalled in his makeup removal and, as Alec reappeared from the closet wearing nothing but a fluffy white towel wrapped low on his hips, he quickly went back to his task.  Not quick enough though judging from the smirk on Alec’s face.

“You’re thinking too loud” he said, changing direction and heading for his boyfriend, stopping directly behind where Magnus was sat. 

Magnus spun on the stool he was perched on, wrapping his arms loosely around the back of Alec’s thighs and tilting his face up to look into the hazel doe eyes he had come to love so much. 

“And just what did you hear?” he teased.

Alec looked down at him, running a hand through his hair slowly, careful not to get caught in the product.  “You, worrying”.

“Humm” Magnus agreed.  “Though, I will admit there was a fair amount of lechery in there as well” and he smoother his hands up, over the top of the towel, to squeeze both of Alec’s ass cheeks.

Alec let out an amused huff, “I figured that went without saying, it is the base norm”.

Magnus smiled and Alec lent down for a chaste kiss on the lips.  When he pulled away it was just a few inches to begin with.  “Thank you, for everything.  For letting Izzy stay and for rallying the Lightwoods, it did exactly what you were planning”.

The older man cupped his cheek, stretched up for another chaste kiss then released him again, Alec straightening up and heading back into the bathroom, leaving the door open.

Seconds later Magnus heard the shower start.  He looked at his make up wipes, the open door to the bathroom and back again before making a decision.  Abandoning his vanity he took a brisk walk to the bathroom, stripping out of his robe and pants before he’d even crossed the threshold.

Chapter Text

Izzy woke up with a start and then her natural instinct kicked in and she froze, listening intently into the dark.  She could hear the soft tick of the clock and the tiniest of snores coming from the travel cot on the other side of the room.

She let out the breath she had been holding slowly, thankful that it wasn’t Laila that had woken her.

Drawing back the quilt she slid out of bed and tiptoed over to her daughter.  Peering into the cot, she could see that Laila remained flat on her back, arms stretch above her head looking snug in her sleep onesie.

She took a moment to gaze at the tiny terror who, when awake, could rattle the glass in windows but asleep she looked like a raven haired angel.  Laila’s little mouth dropped open and she licked her lips, suckled in her sleep then clamped her mouth shut again.

Izzy’s smile widened but she didn’t dare reach in, no matter how much she wanted to, through fear of waking the little girl.  Her croup had calmed some but it was still hit and miss on whether she had a good sleep or not.

Realising she herself was both thirsty and a little hungry, she picked up the baby monitor and crept out of the room, leaving the door ajar rather than close it completely.  As an added precaution she kept her movements stealthy until she reached the doors for the lounge and, with one last listen to the monitor she stepped in, immediately aware of the change in temperature against her bare arms and legs.

Her eyes were drawn to the doors to the balcony, both open wide, the curtains blowing softly in the breeze.  With a frown on her face she crept over and as she came level with the entrance she could see Alec, in his boxer-briefs and a t-shirt, standing against the balcony railing, hands on the metal bar that topped the wall, staring out over the city.

She took a determined step forward and opened her mouth to speak when she a heard a noise to her right and realised it was someone clearing their throat very softly so not to disturb her brother.

Izzy turned to the noise and she saw Magnus, lent against the doorframe into the kitchen, hidden away in the shadows and beckoning her over with a curl of his index finger.

She went over slowly, sticking to the shadows herself, assuming that Magnus didn’t want her to disturb Alec, though she was worried about his health as he stood out in the cold.

“Magnus?” she whispered when she reached him, turning to stand beside him so she could still watch Alec.  “What’s he doing?”.

“He’s been having nightmares again” Magnus whispered back.  “It’s usually the same, he’s back in that building with Sebastian but no one comes for him.  It seems to then muddle in with what Samuel and Jonathan’s mother did to him…”.

She looked at him with concerned eyes, “What did Jonathan’s mother do to him?” she hissed.

‘Fuck’ Magnus thought, worry was clouding his mind.  “I’m sorry Izzy, I misspoke…”.

She pinched his arm and he clamped his mouth shut so his yelp didn’t startle Alec.  “What did she do?” Izzy growled under her breath.

“She touched him inappropriately while he was chained up” he sighed, “Please keep this to yourself, I didn’t mean to betray his trust…”.

Her eyes were wet but she nodded and looked back towards Alec, who was still unmoving on the balcony.  “How long has this been going on?”.

“The nightmares started before we went on vacation, it was one of the deciding reasons we went.  I hoped that some space between Alexander and New York would allow his mind to rest” he sighed sadly.  “It didn’t work”.

“That’s why you came back early” Izzy stated, her eyes still gazing out the doors, Magnus’ looking the same way.

“Humm” he replied in confirmation.

“And how long has he been doing… this?” she waved a hand in his general direction.

“If he has a nightmare this is where he always ends up, no matter the weather” Magnus explained.  “I think the memory of being in that enclosed room has him seeking fresh air, the outside…”.

“He’s going to catch his death if he stays out there much longer” she pointed out, “And the weather will only get colder”.

“I know my dear” he smiled reassuringly.  “I’m keeping a close eye on things and I will fetch him in.  But if I do it too soon he won’t sleep at all”.

Izzy squeezed his arm affectionately this time, “Can Tessa help?”.

“She will, as soon as Alec asks for her” he looked down at another Lightwood who had become important to him.  “Pushing him when he’s not ready will only do more damage and, at the moment, he’s convinced that once the trial is done everything will be alright”.

“What do you think?”, she asked.

“I think that nothing will be alright while Valentine remains unaccounted for”, he replied, his eyes finding Alec again and he decided that he’d been out in the cold long enough.  “Will you excuse me Isabelle?”.

She nodded, and continued on her way to the kitchen while Magnus crossed the lounge and stepped out onto the balcony, making sure his slippers sounded louder than normal, giving Alec a warning that he was no longer alone.

The air was fresh, though that turned out to be the least of his worries, because as soon as he was outside he felt the beginnings of a drizzling rain.

He saw Alec move almost imperceptibly, an acknowledgement that he knew Magnus was there, so he felt confident enough to cross the full distance between them, stopping at his boyfriends side.

“Hey” he said very quietly.

Alec shuffled his feet as though they had gone numb and, when Magnus looked down and saw he was barefoot, he realised they likely were.

“How long have you been watching me?”, Alec asked morosely.

“Since you came out here” he replied honestly, looking out over the view instead of staring at the young man beside him.

“I’m sorry I woke you” he moved his hand, placing it over the top of Magnus’ who had placed his own next to Alec’s when he’d arrived.

Magnus turned his hand over, entwining their fingers together, “No love…” he sooths, “…you don’t have to be sorry for waking me”.

Alec finally looks at him.  “I thought it might have worked”.

“Me too” Magnus agreed.  “I’m sorry it didn’t”.

Alec chuckled humourlessly, “And that’s something you don’t have to be sorry for.  It’s not your fault that I can’t shake this fucking… thing… off”.

His voice had grown angry as he spoke and Magnus was a little shocked.  He’d known he was plagued by memories, both old and new but he hadn’t considered that Alec would be angry with himself.

“You don’t really think this is something you should be able to ‘shake off’ do you?” he turned to the side, leaning his elbow on the balcony wall.

Alec looked up, stretching his neck as though his throat was tight and grimacing.  “Yes… no… I don’t know Magnus.  I can barely…” his sentence trailed off as he struggled to put his thoughts into words.

Magnus waited patiently, watching his boyfriends face, the subtle movements that gave away the fight he was having to calm the chaos that was whirling in his mind.

“Three times” he eventually whispered, looking down at their hands, still clasped together, “Three times I have been sexually assaulted.  At some point it must be some fault of mine…”.

“No” Magnus said firmly.

“… some weakness I’m putting out there” Alec continued as though Magnus hadn’t spoken.

“Alec, I need you to listen to me”.  Magnus’ voice was loving, but with a sternness that meant there was no arguing with him.  “There is no scenario where sexual assault is ever the victims fault”.

“Then why has it happened so many times?”.

Magnus sighed sadly, “None of your attacks were in anyway connected.  They were individual events, two of which you were in impossible situations”.

Alec turned to face him, and Magnus was pleased when he also took a step closer, seeking both warmth and comfort.  “It feels like I should have been able to… defend myself”.

Magnus raised his free hand slowly, watching for Alec’s response to make sure his touch would be welcomed and he was relieved when he was able to cup his cheek, running his thumb gently over his cheekbone.

“How could you have?” he asked, “You were restrained two of the three times”.

Alec closed his eyes and lent into Magnus touch.  “Not the first time” he pointed out.

“How could you have known someone you trusted, someone who claimed to love you, would do something like that?” Magnus took the half-step closer, his front brushing against Alec’s and the younger man lent forward, gravitating towards him.

“I… maybe… I’m…” his brow was creased in concentration, trying to make sense of his thoughts and feelings.

“Alexander…” Magnus spoke kindly this time, his voice full of compassion.  “You would never imply that it was the victim’s fault if you were the investigating officer.  You’re holding yourself to an impossible standard”.

His eyes popped open and he gazed at his boyfriend.

“Come in out of the cold my love” Magnus asked softly.

Alec nodded and Magnus dropped his hand from his boyfriends face, using the other that was still holding on to Alec tightly, to lead him back inside. 

With the doors to the balcony closed and locked Magnus ordered Alec back to bed while he went to the kitchen, brewing some tea to help with anxiety and for the basic warmth it would provide.  Izzy was nowhere to be seen so Magnus assumed she had either gone back to bed or she had at least loitered in the shadows to ensure Magnus had actually been able to bring Alec in.

With two mugs full he hurried to join Alec in their bedroom, finding the younger man had changed into sleep pants and a new t-shirt, using a towel to rough dry his hair and was just settling onto their bed, pulling the thicker comforter up to his waist.

“Warmer?” Magnus asked as he padded over to Alec’s side and handed him one of the mugs.

Alec lent his back against the headboard, taking a long sip from the mug and then lent his head back against the wall, closing his eyes and sighing contently.

Magnus, instead of moving around the bed to his own side, sat down on the edge of the bed next to Alec’s thigh.  He turned to face his boyfriend, curling his right leg up onto the bed and leaving the other hanging off, toes brushing the thick carpet.

He let out a small chuckle at Alec’s response, taking a sip of his own tea.  “I shall take that as a yes”.

“My feet are cold” he whined petulantly, his lips pouting.

His change in attitude was half amusing and half concerning.  He was avoiding talking about his thoughts any further, but it warmed Magnus’ heart to see trying to be cute.

“You’re deflecting Alexander…” he said with a teasing tone, “and as adorable as you are, I am not falling for it”.

Alec threw him a heatless glare, then sighed.  “I know Magnus.  I’m sorry”.

Magnus rested his hand on his knee and squeezed gently.  “You don’t have to say you’re sorry love.  But I want you to talk to me, you don’t have to carry this all alone”.

Alec tilted his head to the side, still leaning back against the wall.  “I feel like you’ve given enough.  I was a mess when you first met me, you shouldn’t have to do all of this again”.

“With your job and my… employment history… there’s always going to be something.  I’ve said it before I will keep saying it until you believe me, we’re a team, don’t push me away when things get tough”.

Alec slid his hand over Magnus’ and Magnus turned his so they could entwine their fingers together again.  “Okay” he agreed, “But right now I think we need to sleep”.

Magnus tilted his head to the side, “Will you?”.

Alec’s smile was sad, “I can try”.

Magnus placed his now empty mug on the bedside table, standing up and stepping closer to Alec to do it.  He then took Alec’s mostly empty mug and put it on the table beside his own.

“Then I’ll sit up with you until you do sleep” and he pressed his lips to Alec’s forehead in a firm, loving kiss.

 

*****

 

When Andrew had pulled up outside the modern apartment block, Lydia in the passenger seat, and spotted Maia and Jordan already waiting on the sidewalk for them.

“Humm” Lydia commented softly and Andrew threw her a knowing grin.  They had arrived early, even though Andrew had picked Lydia up.  But it seemed Maia and Jordan had travelled into the precinct, met up, collected a forensics van and driven here even earlier.  Unless they hadn’t travelled in from different apartments, especially as Maia’s was much closer to the precinct than the Jordan’s.

They both stepped out, slamming their doors in unison and walked over to meet their colleagues.  As Andrew walked he couldn’t help but gaze up at the apartment block towering above him.

It had been completed just 18 months ago and had been celebrated as architectural genius and a ‘diamond in the rough’ by the press.  Andrew just agreed that ‘rough’ was the most accurate word for it.

The architect had clearly gone for a design that was wacky and as ‘out of the norm’ as possible and the building, that had locally become known as the City of Glass, was a hideous construction consisting of 40 floors of metal and glass, irregularly placed balconies and four penthouses stuck on top.  Andrew thought it looked like a glass cactus with mismatched Lego blocks balanced precariously on it’s head.

It stuck out like a sore thumb already, include the old 10-15 floor sand stone and brick apartment buildings that surrounded it… quite frankly it ruined the aesthetics of the skyline here and Andrew was convinced some money had changed hands for the designs to have been granted permission.

“Do you know what apartments here go for?” Maia asked as she followed Andrew’s gaze, shielding her eyes as the sun suddenly poked through a cloud, the reflection dazzling.

Andrew shrugged but Lydia was already on her phone and they heard her snort.  “Smallest apartment available is a cool half-mil”.    

Maia looked at her, “And our victim lives here?”.

“There’s a lot of money in real estate” Jordan commented, juggling his equipment uncomfortably and flicking his head to try and get the loose strands, which had fallen free from his ponytail, out of his eyes.

Maia looked doubtful, eyes still on the structure above her.  “But that much?”.

Lydia made her way to the intercom system and pressed the call button for the building custodian, waiting patiently for a response.

Andrew looked at Maia and Jordan, “Let’s see what we find in his apartment, it might give us a lead on his murder and his income”.

The three of them made their way to Lydia’s side just as the custodian arrived, a small women in a neatly tailored navy skirt suit, black, low healed pumps, a white blouse and a red cravat.  Maia thought she looked more like an air steward than a building custodian but she had listened to Lydia’s explanation, studied the warrant and placed a call to the owner’s lawyer who, after Lydia had forwarded the warrant, had given the go ahead for them to access the building and their victim’s apartment.  Not that he could have refused, but Lydia was happy enough for it to take a little longer and not have to arrest anyone nor break any doors down to execute their search.

The custodian, Amy, had walked them to the elevators and they had gone up to the 5th floor.  Carlos’ apartment door was just to the right of the elevator when they stepped out and Amy used a master key card to open his door, explaining all of the apartments had electronic entry.  She stepped in with them to deactivate the alarm as well as explaining the computer system that controlled most of the apartment’s facilities, the three detectives left that for Jordan to deal with.  Thankfully he was familiar with the controls and Amy was able to leave them to their search, advising that when they left the alarm would reactivate and the door would lock automatically behind them.

For a moment the small team stood silent and still, eyes taking in their surroundings.  ‘Small’ apartment was probably an understatement, minute was more accurate.  Jordan was still stood by the front door, Maia had stepped to the left, standing in the archway that was the entrance to a short corridor into a open plan bedroom.  In fact, the bedroom was a double bed leading off to the left, cupboards and shelving built around it meaning you could only access it by crawling in from one side, the other side flush against the wall to the hallway outside the apartment, the top and bottom of the bed up against the wooden edges of closet space.  The opposite end of the corridor was a bathroom and the opposite wall of the corridor separated it from the kitchen, which is where Andrew and Lydia had moved into when they first entered. 

Again, the rest of the apartment was completely open plan.  The main kitchen appliances and cupboards along the back wall, a breakfast bar separating it from the lounge and dinning area that boasted floor to ceiling glass windows.  The whole place was white and silver, with hints of black in the finishes and furnishings.  It was clean, tidy and completely impersonal.  It looked like an apartment mock-up rather than the home of a man in his 30s.

“He’s…” Andrew started.

“Boring?” Maia suggested.

“Dull?” Jordan offered as he moved into the kitchen to set his equipment down on the kitchen floor and then pulled out his camera to start taking scene photos.

“Secretive” Lydia decided as she moved into the lounge, looking at anything that resembled personal belongs.  There were no photo’s in frames, no books or magazines, no ornaments that suggested sentimentality because they didn’t quite fit their surroundings, no DVDs nor anything for comfort like a blanket.  “There is nothing of himself left out here for anyone to see”.

“I’ll take a look in the bedroom and bathroom” Andrew offered as he snapped on his clothes.

“Call me for photo’s before you pick anything up” Jordan reminded him without pausing from his task of photographing the whole apartment.

Andrew didn’t respond, there was no need to as it was a simple reminder of protocol, so he wandered off to look around the other section of the apartment.

“A half-mil for this” Maia murmured as she too pulled on gloves before opening the kitchen cupboards for Jordan to photograph.

“At this level you’re not even paying for the view” Lydia agreed as she stood by the windows, looking out at the back of the older and more traditional apartments that surrounded the new building.  She noticed a young couple, planting flowers in baskets on their balcony and it crossed her mind that they might be able to see in.  She pulled out her cell and used the notes APP to get uniform to canvas the buildings with a line of sight in, just in case.  She’d learnt to think about nosey neighbours from Alec, and it had paid off several times on cases they had worked together in the past.

When her thoughts returned to her lead detective and friend her stomach twisted with worry again.  She hadn’t slept easy that night, knowing what was happening today.  She glanced at the clock on the wall, a generic black plastic with white numbers and hands, seeing it wouldn’t be long before they would have to go in.

Maia had noticed Lydia clock watching as she was closing the last cupboard door for Jordan.  He made his way out of the kitchen area and she started to look through the kitchen drawers.  “They start at 9:00 right?” she asked as she ran her eyes over the contents of the cutlery drawer, then carefully ran her hands over the inside of the drawers structure to make sure nothing was hidden.

“Yeah” Lydia answered, shaking herself out of it and then beginning to carefully pull the cushions from the couch, checking nothing was hidden within it.

“Seems wrong” Maia commented, closing one drawer and moving onto the next.

“What?” Lydia asked, though staying focused on her own search.

“Us, not being there for him.  For them” she corrected, remembering that Max would also be testifying today.

“I know, but that’s looking at it from our point of view” she glanced at Maia and gave a small smile at the frown on her face.  “You have to look at it from Alec’s point of view, which isn’t the same as ours.  The best thing we can do to support him is work the case so that nothing falls through the gaps or gets delayed.  Knowing we’re doing this will put him at ease”.

Maia’s frown faded away and she nodded slowly in understanding.  “Lightwoods are weird”.

Lydia chuckled quietly, unable to deny that.

“So are Waylands” Maia added, moving on to the last drawer, the bottom, deeper one that held pots and pans.

“Yeah” she agreed.  “Mind you, the only Wayland we know was raised as a Lightwood so it’s no surprise really”.

“I guess we’ll find out how it went tomorrow” Maia closed the final drawer, shaking her head as Lydia looked at her to confirm she had come up empty.  “Even the cooking equipment looks like it’s never been used”.

Lydia sighed, putting the cushions back.  “We’ll find out this afternoon” she said, referring to Maia’s first statement.  “Alec’s coming to meet with the business partner this afternoon”.

“You’re not serious” Maia exclaimed.  “He’s coming in after court?”.

Lydia nodded, moving over to the dresser and checking the drawers.

“He can’t take the afternoon to at least try and… and…”, Maia didn’t really know how to finish that sentence and Lydia gave an amused huff.

“I imagine that is why he decided to work” she pointed out.  “He likely doesn’t even know what he’s going to need, but he knows he can work”.

Maia thought about that for a moment, trying to put herself in his shoes but she quickly realised there was no way she could understand what he had been through and no way of knowing what she would want to do in his position.

“I can’t imagine Magnus was happy about that” she commented.

Lydia smiled again, this time to herself.  “Oh, I fully expect to see Magnus this afternoon as well”, remembering with amusement how he hadn’t wanted to let Alec out his sight when Alec had returned to work after Sebastian’s arrest.

Maia sighed wistfully, “I really liked the time he brought the catering van to that crime scene”.

“Humm” Lydia agreed, “the coffee was amazing”.

They spent three hours at the apartment, searching everything they could and Jordan photographing the scene from every angle before finally calling it a day.  They found nothing to indicate who the new girlfriend might be, but then they found nothing that indicated Carols even lived there.  Lydia had initially considered this could mean they found nothing suspicious, but in fact the lack of… anything was suspicious in itself.  She found herself wondering if someone had emptied the apartment before they had arrived.

Coming back to the precinct, Jordan went to forensics to upload the photographs he had taken while the three detectives returned to their office.  They passed Jace and Woolsey heading out as they came down the corridor from the elevator, Maia sparing the fives seconds to give her ex-partner a high-five as they passed, Woolsey jolting in surprise at the action but not commenting.

Back in their room and coffee flowing they set to writing up reports, Maia and Andrew having to file their report from the trip they had made to the bar the night before as well as the search of Carlos’ apartment.  Halfway through Luke wandered in, asking for an update, though clearly actually needing a distraction judging by the amount of times he looked at the clock.

Nobody was fooling anyone, there was one thing on all their minds and it wasn’t going to go away until the afternoon.

Chapter Text

Magnus sat at the table, one hand wrapped around his coffee cup, the other was rested on his crossed knee, his fingers tapping against his pants absentmindedly, while he watched Alec carefully.

He stood in the far left corner of the room, his back against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.  He had every reason to be uncomfortable and the clear signs of defence he was putting out demonstrated how he was feeling.

They were up early, not really having slept since their conversation on the balcony, and Magnus had made breakfast while Alec showered.  When he came out to the kitchen Magnus left him to stare blankly at his plate, pushing his eggs around with his fork while he went to shower himself.

When he stepped under the water he felt strange, almost lonely.  When they moved in together, if they were both rising in the early morning, they had quickly taken to showering together and the shower seemed too large and empty without him.  But Magnus had made the conscious decision to skip showering with him today to try and slow him down.  Alec was jittery and running on nervous energy, firing through his morning routine as though he had consumed ten espressos.  All it would accomplish would be them being at the court house so early they would be left waiting for it to open.  It would be better for Alec to be here, in the warmth, for as long as possible.

Once he was thoroughly drenched, Magnus reached for the shower gel and as he grasped it a memory came to mind that brought a smile to his lips…

 

~~~~~

 

“Izzy…” Alec walked up to Magnus’… their bed and whipped his briefs out of his sister’s hands.  “Can you please just go and sit down.  I do not need help unpacking my underwear!”.

She huffed and wandered over to the armchair in the corner of the room, sitting almost as gracefully as Magnus would, though in fairness she was hindered by her expanding belly.  “This would go faster with two” she pointed out, taking a moment to study her manicure.

“I have hardly any stuff” he deadpanned, “It’s not going to take long at all”.

He tipped his clothes out of the duffle onto the bed and started to rifle through them. 

Magnus had purchased him his very own dresser which stood against the wall between the walk-in closet and the bathroom doors.  He had also cleared as much space as possible in the closet, so Alec had room to hang clothes up, but all Alec had needed to put in there were two suits, his dress uniform and five other shirts.  Magnus had been horrified at his lack of formal wear, but had restrained himself, for now.

Alec was now sorting through the pile of clothes on ‘their’ bed, his stomach doing a little flip of joy at the thought again, putting t-shirts to one side, underwear to another, sweats in another and then his jeans in a final pile.

“Sooooo” Izzy said, leaning forward, “Magnus brought a catering van to a crime scene?”.

Alec rolled his eyes, even thought she couldn’t see him.  “I take it the whole precinct is talking about it”.

Izzy waited, but when he didn’t offer anymore, she pulled the small cushion from behind her back and threw it at his.

Alec glanced over his shoulder at her.

“Can he keep doing it, at least when I’m the M.E.” she asked hopefully.

“No Izzy, he cannot” he turned back, now starting to fold his clothes ready for the drawers.

“Why not?” she whined with pouty lips.

“Boundaries Izzy” was all he replied, and she chuckled in delight at his obvious embarrassment at his boyfriends attempts to take care of him, his very public attempts. She wondered how that conversation had gone even though it ended positively, with the decision made that Alec would move in.

“How are we getting on darling?” Magnus asked as he swept into the room from the walk in closet where he had been sorting his own clothes while listening in to his boyfriend and his sister.

“Just need to fold these away and I’m done” Alec replied, smiling as Magnus approached him.

Magnus kissed him sweetly on the lips before throwing a wink to Izzy.  “Excellent” he said, “Then we’ll be ready to discuss dinner”.

“Jace and Clary are on their way” Izzy called after Magnus as he headed into the bathroom.

While Alec was moving into Magnus’, Clary was moving into their old apartment with Jace.  They had insisted it was practical as Jace was concerned about the rent on his salary.  Alec thought it wasn’t the most romantic reason, but he knew if he voiced that then he’d never hear the end of it from his siblings, so he kept schtum.

He was about to asked Izzy what she fancied for dinner when they heard some clattering in the bathroom and Magnus’ voice.

“What the fuck!” he cried out.

Alec and Izzy looked at one another with concern but before they could move Magnus walked back out of the bathroom, holding up both hands, one gripped Alec’s two-in-one shampoo and conditioned and his bar of standard soap in the other.

“What the fuck are these?” he asked, a deep frown on his face.

Alec blinked in confusion for a moment before answering.  “My toiletries?” his inflection going up at the end as though it were a question.

“No” Magnus said firmly.  “Absolutely not” and he walked to his dressing table then flung them down with some force into the trashcan there.

“Magnus!” Alec exclaimed.  “What…”.

“I have to draw the line somewhere Alexander, and those…” he indicated to the trashcan as though it were full of dead rats, “…are not welcome anywhere in our home”.  Then he turned on his heel and flounced out of the bedroom, leaving Alec to stare after him dumbstruck.

“He has a point” Izzy spoke up , studying her nail varnish intently

 

~~~~~

 

Magnus allowed himself a huffed chuckle at how indignant Alec had been when he refused to accept his wash products.  It had taken him weeks to get Alec to use products suited to his skin and months to get him to stop complaining about it.  Only once had he located contraband and it had been quickly dispensed with.

And now he found himself taking a longer than normal shower, extending it further by using a chia seed deep conditioner that had to stay in for 5 minutes.  Once done under the spray he stepped out and headed for his sink to go through his full skin cleanse, tone and moisturising sequence.  Then came tooth brushing and flossing, all with extra attention to detail. 

When he finally stepped out of their bathroom he’d managed to waste 45 minutes and he still had to dry and style his hair, put on his make up and select his jewellery to match his outfit. 

By the time he was ready and he stepped out into the kitchen, Alec, still pushing his egg around his plate, looked up and froze, staring with wide eyes.

Magnus smile nervously, “What?”.

“What are you wearing?” Alec asked slowly, not quite believing what he was looking at.

Magnus glanced down at himself, suddenly unsure.  He had selected a three piece suite of charcoal grey, a black shirt beneath the waist coat and a black tie.  He accentuated it with simple silver pieces.  Studs in his ears, just his M and B rings and then obsidian cufflinks.  He’d kept his make up natural and his hair in a low quiff instead of his trademark faux-hawk, even stripping out the red streak he’d had since their vacation.

“This is a very expensive suit Alexander, fresh off the autumn line from Alexander McQueen” he pointed out, a little defensive as the look on Alec’s face made him suddenly self-conscious.

“Where’s…” Alec stuttered a little, “where’s your sparkle?”.

Magnus instantly relaxed, his heart warming at his boyfriends words.  “I thought I should tone it down a bit, for court” he explained quietly.

Alec stood up and made his way over to him, taking his hands in his and running his thumbs over Magnus’ pulse point.  “I need my Magnus there…” he whispered, “…in all his shinning glory”.

The older man looked up at him with a soft smile on his face, “I should go change then?”.

Alec nodded, “Please?”.

Magnus nodded and Alec leaned down to kiss him, a soft press of the lips.  “In that case, I’ll be right back”.

And he was, this time dressed in black, slim leg pants, a silver line running down the outside of both legs which were tucked into his combat boots that Magnus had left unlaced.  He had a light blue high-collared button up with swirls embroidered in black, tucked into his waist band and secured with a black leather belt and shinning buckle.  He’d selected four necklaces, added his cobweb ear cuff, a blue streak in his hair, now styled with the faux-hawk, and every finger showcased a decorative ring.  But most importantly, glitter dusted his cheekbones, accentuating them.

Alec watched him walk through back into the kitchen as he was pulling on the final touch, a royal blue, waist length jacket that was covered in silver rhinestones and his breath caught in his throat.  His boyfriend was beautiful.

Magnus smirked, knowing the look that had crossed Alec’s face.  “Better?”.

Alec sighed, “Much”. 

Alec had actually seemed to relax a little at that point, but now, as he stood in the corner of the room, his jitters were back, his eyes wide and his shoulders tense.

“Darling…” Magnus spoke kindly, “do you want something to drink? Perhaps some water?”.

Alec shook his head, “No, I’m okay”.

Magnus was about to respond when the door swung in and Ragnor appeared, follow closely by Max and Maryse.

Alec sped forward and wrapped his arms around his brother, who looked pale, sweaty and exhausted.  Max in turn squeezed him back, his hands fisting in the back of Alec’s suit jacket.

The brothers stayed that way, silently reassuring one another.

Magnus stood and approached Maryse and Ragnor who, on closing the door, had moved to stand on his side of the room to give Alec and Max some semblance of space.

“How did it go?” Magnus asked them both.

Maryse gave him a soft smile, but turned to watch her two sons, deciding that Ragnor would be better suited to answering that question.

“Max was fantastic” Ragnor replied, placing his briefcase down on the table and grabbing Magnus’ coffee, taking a long gulp and ignoring his friends glare.  “He spoke with confidence, explained all the details and talked to the jury.  They adored him and sympathised with him, he couldn’t have done better”.

“And Pangborn?” Magnus asked, knowing the sleaze that was defending Sebastian had no reservations about bullying or intimidating a young man.

“He was taking the line that there was no doubt Sebastian had abducted Max but he wants the jury to believe it was a misguided act of heartbreak when Alec refused his advances and the head injury was an accident” Ragnor explained between further mouthfuls of coffee.

Magnus was aware that Alec had turned his head and was looking their way, listening in to Ragnor’s recount of the events from the morning in court.

“But Max is one tough young man…” he continued, “Even stared Pangborn down once, looked at him like he was the biggest idiot that ever existed.  I had to force myself not to laugh when Pangborn backed off, and I did laugh when Pangborn then went off on a rant and before I could object Max asked if he was actually going to ask him a question.  Even the judge was struggling at that point”.

Magnus looked at Alec again, seeing him tighten his grip on his little brother and whispered, “I’m so proud of you” in his ear.

He turned to Maryse and touched her arm very softly and when she looked at him he saw her deep brown eyes were glistening wet.

“How are you holding up?” he asked her.

She smiled at him and patted his hand, “I’m fine Magnus” she reassured.

Magnus almost scoffed, finally realising where Alec and his siblings had learnt the phrase that they all thought hide a multitude of sins from everyone.  Strangers and acquaintances may be fooled, but he never was when Alec said it and he wasn’t this time when he heard the same thing from Maryse.

“Maybe you and Max should go home?” Alec suggested and before he’d even finished his sentence Max had pulled out of his arms and was glaring up at him.

“No way” he exclaimed, “We’re staying here for you”.

“Max…” Alec started with a sigh and reached out to run his fingers through his brother’s hair but Max dodged him quickly.

“No” he snapped, a frown on his usually soft face.  “We are staying to support you, so stop trying to send us away you ass”.

“Max!” Maryse warned.

But Alec let out a chuckle before giving in, “Okay, thank you”.

“Well…” Ragnor said firmly, “as that has been decided I would suggest that you, young man…” he looked at Max, “…take your mother to get a drink and a snack.  I have to do last minute prep with Alec which you shouldn’t be here for”.

Max narrowed his eyes at the DA.  “Is that cause it’s the rules or because you’re trying to protect me?”.

“The rules” Ragnor replied with the best look of innocence Magnus had ever seen him pull off.

“Fine” the young man huffed and headed for the door.

Maryse took a moment to approach Alec, hug him and kiss his cheek.  “We’ll see you in there, and remember, we love you”.

Alec swallowed thickly and attempted a smile of confidence though it turned out as more of a grimace.  “I love you too mom”.

She gave his arm a final squeeze then followed Max, who had paused at the door to wait for her, to locate a coffee shop.

Ragnor immediately turned to Alec, “Have a seat Alec” he said, taking a seat himself.

“I’d rather stand” Alec said, though not to be argumentative.  “I’ll be sitting for a while once we get in there.  If you don’t mind…”.

Ragnor shook his head, holding Magnus’ coffee cup out to him so he could have it back.  “Not at all.  I don’t have a huge amount to go through with you, you’ve given evidence at trial countless times so you know how to do it, you know how to relate to a jury and how to make sure you use generic terms, no technical jargon that is going to confuse people”.

Magnus took his coffee cup back, only to discover it was completely empty so he threw Ragnor another glare and dropped it in the trashcan.  He then watched as Alec nodded along to Ragnor’s words, concentrating on the guidance he was being offered.

“But Alec…” Ragnor’s tone suddenly changed to a mix of sympathy and compassion.  “Here’s where it’s a little different when you’re testifying as a victim.  Let them see your emotions, don’t be worried about them coming through.  It will help the jury see the affect that this crime has had on you and it’s good that if they do…” he paused for a moment, watching Alec closely, “Do you understand what I am saying?”.

Alec sighed, stuffing his hands in his pant pockets.  “I shouldn’t fight any natural reactions that come up while I tell my story”.

“I know it’s hard for you” Ragnor added.  “Your natural instinct is to keep those things private, but it will help secure a conviction…”.

“I just want this over and Sebastian behind bars” Alec looked down at his feet.  “I’ll do what I need to”.

“Thank you Alec” Ragnor smiled then checked the time.  “I’m going to head back in to set up.  You know where you’re going so you don’t need me to escort you.  You’re both welcome to stay here until the doors close but then you’ll need to be outside the court room for the steward to bring you in”.

Alec nodded his understanding and Ragnor stood, grabbing his briefcase as he moved to the door and gave Magnus a firm nod as he passed him.

When they were finally alone again Magnus didn’t move towards Alec this time, his boyfriend was staring at the wall, lost in his thoughts and Magnus decided he should let him go through his processes.  He had actually remained that way until they started to hear doors banging closed and Magnus had crossed the room, touching Alec’s elbow to get his attention.

Alec tried to smile again, and again it didn’t quite hit the mark, but he took Magnus’s hand and they headed out the door to the court room.

It was only when he and Magnus were stood alone outside of the court room door that he let his façade drop enough for Magnus to see he needed some last moments of comfort.  He stepped closer to his boyfriend, running his hands down the front of his suit in the guise of smoothing out the wrinkles.

Alec put his hands on his waist and closed his eyes, letting himself feel Magnus touch and breathing in his scent, sandalwood and spice, musk from his cologne and just Magnus himself.  It was a familiar smell and it brought to mind all of his favourite things as well as their home… it always meant one thing to him.  Safety.  Whether it was in their loft or just in this man’s arms, he knew he would be able to do this.

“I love you” Magnus murmured next to his ear, “If you need strength just look at me, I will not take my eyes off you, not for one moment”. 

Alec swallowed thickly, feeling a sting in his throat as he did.  When Magnus drew his head back he didn’t go far, leaning his forehead against Alec’s, his hands coming to a rest on his hips and Alec took the opportunity to wrap his arms around the older man, pressing their bodies together knowing it would have the desired effect, Magnus scent would linger on his own suit and he would be able to use that to help him while he sat alone in the witness box.

They stayed that way until the steward came to get Alec, it wasn’t long enough but he doubted any amount of time would be and when Magnus stepped back fully he immediately missed his warmth.

But he gathered himself quickly, squaring his shoulders and lifting his chin, nodding to the steward that he was ready. 

As he followed the steward through the doors he felt Magnus hand on the small of his back as he walked beside him, on the left which put him between Alec and Sebastian.  Alec didn’t know if it was deliberate or subconscious, but either way he was grateful.

The steward walked them down the aisle towards the small wooden gate that only he and Alec could go through, Magnus would have to stay in the audience.  Alec felt the weight of the sheer number of eyes on him but he zoned them out, only seeing the stewards back and, just before Magnus had to leave him, he saw his mom and Max, in the front row just behind where Ragnor was stood, waiting for him.

The steward pushed the gate and walked through, holding it open for Alec and, feeling the loss of Magnus’ hand, he continued forward, the gate swinging closed behind him.  The steward walked him across the floor and then held out his hand to indicate he should step into the witness box.  Once he was there he was sworn in by the same man, who then whispered for him to take a seat.

He finally allowed himself to look out over the people in the room, focusing on the individuals sat behind Ragnor.  He had the strangest thought that it was almost like a wedding where the guests picked the side they sat depending on who they were there to support.  He purposely avoided looking to his right, keeping the people there so far in his peripheral vision that they were barely humanoid shapes.

Instead he looked for Magnus and, as promised, those golden eyes were staring straight at him, a smile on his lips that told Alec all he needed to know.  He took in a breath and let it out slowly, letting his eyes drift over to Ragnor who was moving towards him.

“Mr Lightwood” he started.  “I need to remind the court that although you are a detective and will be testifying later as to your role in the investigation, this testimony relates to the defendant’s crimes against you”.

“Yes” Alec replied calmly, taking a quick glance at the jury, 12 diverse people who were watching him carefully, their full attention on what was about to be revealed.  It was unnerving though at least they were taking their role seriously.

“You were attacked on two occasions, correct?” he asked.

Alec nodded, “Yes”.

“And are you able to identify the person who attacked you?”, Ragnor got straight to the identification as he had promised Alec he would.  It was the only time Alec would need to look in Verlac’s direction.

“I am” he replied.

“And is that person in court today?”

Alec nodded, “Yes, he is”.

“Can you identify him for the court please?”

Alec took a look at Magnus, who gave him an almost imperceptible nod, then he turned his head and looked to the defendant’s table, where Sebastian sat with his attorney, Emil Pangborn.

“Sebastian Verlac” he replied, pointing at the young man who watched him back, face expressionless but there was something in his eyes, as though he was trying to communicate something.  Alec looked away, back to warmer eyes, ones that said ‘I love you’ without even trying.

He’d tried to do a cursory glance, to focus on the middle distance rather than actually look at the man who had attacked him.  But he was a cop and it was inherent behaviour to take in the details automatically.  So, even though his eyes had turned away, his brain had already started to process what he had seen.

Sebastian was much thinner than the last time Alec had seen him, almost gaunt, and his hair had been cropped right back.  With the length gone he had lost the sun-bleached blonde and he looked more sandy brown now, which only made his sky blue eyes stand out even more.  He wore a navy suit, well tailored so he looked neat but not so it looked expensive, with a simple white button up and his tie was a grey and navy checked pattern.  He looked tired, and he held himself tensely, pouring all of his focus Alec’s way, he watched him with rapt attention.

“Thank you Mr Lightwood” Ragnor said with feeling.  There was a gentle frown on his face and when Alec gave his head a small shake he seemed to realise what the problem was, so he stepped to the side, deliberately putting himself in place to block Alec’s view of Sebastian, but also the blonde’s view of Alec as well.

“Some of what we are going to discuss may be difficult for you to revisit.  I want you to ask if you need a break, or if you would like a drink.  Do you understand”.

Alec nodded again, “I understand”.

“I’d like you to start with the first attack…”.

Ragnor gave him a level of freedom with his testimony, knowing he was used to speaking in court as a police officer.  Although it wasn’t entirely the same, it did mean that Alec knew what details were important, meaning Ragnor had to ask very few questions, and the younger man was able to use terminology that the jury would understand.

Alec started with the reason why the team where searching the derelict buildings in the first place.  He had broken the teams up and talked them through the discovery of the staircase at the back of the building  He explained why he chose the division of the team and that he and Sebastian had made their way down to investigate the basement.  He went through the decision to move up the back stairs, reporting their arrival in the alley to the rest of the team across the radios and then why he had decided to search the building that wasn’t covered in the warrant and what had been discovered there.

He took a moment, his confidence wavering and he looked to Magnus who was watching him, eyes alert and, Alec suddenly noticed, one arm resting across Max’s shoulders, his hand hanging down and holding tightly to Maryse’s where she had raised her hand to meet his, seeking comfort for herself.

“Would you like a moment Alec?” Ragnor asked, his concern palpable as he slipped into the nickname he used for his best friend’s boyfriend.

“No” he cleared his throat and looked back to the older man who smiled at him reassuringly.  With another deep breath he continued.

His voice was confident again, explaining that it was after the discovery of Jonathan’s body that Sebastian had blown yin fen into his face, with the drug being inhaled through both his nose and his mouth, as well as settling into his eyes.

He detailed how he quickly became dizzy and nauseated, his reactions slowing and he was unable to judge his surroundings.  He had realised what Sebastian had done and, even though he was struggling to see through the sting of the drugs in his eyes, he had stumbled towards the light which he guessed was the door they had just come through.  He had just reached it when he felt a hand between his shoulder blades and with very little effort he was shoved to the floor, unable to keep his balance or get his hands out to catch himself before hitting the ground.

He told of the taunting he had received from Sebastian, how he had asked Sebastian what he was doing and that he had continued to taunt him in response.  He explained that he had managed to get back to his feet and was backing away, trying to get his service weapon out to defend himself.  He talked about how he was worried he wouldn’t be able to aim with the drugs in his system but he was hoping to at least be able to alert the rest of the team.

He told the room that he’d asked Sebastian if it was him who had done everything and he’d confirmed.  At that point there was an objection from Pangborn, insisting that the question was so vague it couldn’t be entered into testimony that his client was admitting to other crimes.  Ragnor argued that it could be admitted as an ‘excited utterance’ but the judge sustained the objection and the jury were instructed to disregard that part of his testimony.

That was the first loss in the case that morning, Ragnor hoped it would be the last.

Chapter Text

Though annoyed Ragnor hide it well and asked Alec to continue where he had been interrupted, throwing Pangborn a dramatic glare as he did.

Alec explained how he had finally been able to get his weapon from its holster only to have his knocked from his hand, how he’d heard the snap of his bone and he’d fallen back to the floor again, his head striking the ground with such force he almost lost consciousness.  When he was fully aware again Sebastian was sat over him, knelt either side of his hips and leaning down so close he could feel his breath on his face.

Alec’s voice wavered for a moment and he cleared his throat again.  He looked at Magnus and saw a hint of concern in his eyes, his body tense as though he was fighting the instinct to get up and go to his boyfriend to give comfort.

“Would you like a drink Alec?” Ragnor asked and when Alec looked at him, giving him the smallest of nods Ragnor glanced over his shoulder at the steward who poured out a fresh glass from the jug on the prosecutors table and brought it to the witness box.

Ragnor gave him a moment to take a few sips, then Alec placed it on the small shelf in front of him in case he needed the rest later.

“Are you able to continue?” Ragnor asked him gently.

Alec nodded, picking up his story from the same point.  He said they had talked, but he wasn’t able to disclose of what because of the previous objection.  He did explain that Sebastian had professed his love for him, had claimed they had a destiny together.  He’d used that distraction to try and throw the man off his body and he had managed, leading to Sebastian dropping his own gun.  Alec told how he had been able to kick it out of Sebastian reach just in time before Sebastian was back on him again, this time sitting on his stomach and pinning him down so firmly he struggled to breath.

He said that Sebastian had started to taunt him again, his lips touching his skin, his fingers at the collar of his shirt, exposing his throat.  He explained that it was then he felt the knife against is skin as Sebastian started to cut through his clothes, making him panic but the drug was also making him weaker by the moment. 

Alec took a deep breath and let it out, telling the room how Sebastian had uncovered marks that Alec’s boyfriend had left on his collarbone and had become enraged.   Alec had tried to use it as a way of stalling and it had worked for a time until Sebastian became so angry he had brought the knife down hard, trying to stab him in the chest.  He told of how he had used his good arm to knock his aim off and slow his downward force, using everything he had left to try and hold Sebastian back.

He explained that they had fought that way for what felt like an age but the knife had eventually pierced his skin and, with Sebastian leaning all of his weight behind it, the blade had slowly slid into his body.  He said he’d asked Sebastian to stop but the knife kept going, feeling it move through his muscle and bloody flowing freely over his chest, soaking into his clothes.  He told them that Sebastian had said his boyfriend couldn’t have him and it was at that moment that he heard his name shouted as well as a gun shot, Sebastian’s weight disappearing off of him and, in the next moment his team member was by his side.

“That was when you were taken to the hospital?” Ragnor asked as Alec stopped talking.

Alec nodded, taking another sip of his water.  “I don’t remember a great deal from that point to when I woke up after surgery”.

“Thank you Alec” Ragnor said, studying him carefully with his eyes then glancing at the time, then to the judge.

The judge also looked at the time and then turned to Alec.  “Mr Lightwood, would you like to take a break before continuing with the rest of your testimony?”.

“No, thank you ma’am but I would prefer to carry on” he answered with confidence, looking directly at the judge.

The woman turned back to Ragnor and nodded, satisfied with the witness’s response.

“I want to talk about the second time you were attacked…” Ragnor began.

Alec nodded his understanding.  “I had gone home from the hospital, I was immediately out on leave because of my injuries.  I was supposed to rest but I received a call from Mr Verlac.  He wanted me to meet with him, initially I refused… that’s when he told me that he had my younger brother, Max”.

“How could you be sure he really had him?” Ragnor asked, helping Alec along, knowing this was the tougher part of his testimony.

Alec swallowed, already his throat feeling dry.  “Because he had Max speak to me, I’d know his voice anywhere”.

“What did you do when you realised he had Max?” Ragnor continued, prompting Alec on the important parts of his narrative.

“I asked him where he wanted to meet” Alec answered honestly.

Ragnor looked at the jury, “That was a risk wasn’t it?” he was playing the game, getting the jury to understand why Alec made the choices he was about to disclose to them.

Alec gave a shallow shrug of his shoulders.  “He had my little brother, I would have done anything he asked to keep Max safe”.

Ragnor turned back to look at Alec, placing his elbow in the edge of the witness box and leaning on it, still in a position to block Alec’s view of Sebastian, though he could now see his lawyer.

“So, Mr Verlac gave you an address to meet him at?”.

Alec shook his head.  “He gave me an address, but when I got there he had me change cars and he also left a phone for me to use, telling me to smash my own”.

“Really?” Ragnor feigned interest.  “That sounds very well planned… practically premeditated…”.

“OBJECTION!” Pangborn yelled as he sprung to his feet.  “Counsel is testifying…”.

“Calm down Pangborn” Ragnor drawled, glaring over his shoulder at him.  “I withdraw the comment”.

The other man sat down, a scowl on his face and Alec turned back to Ragnor.

“Now, you weren’t alone on your journey were you?” Ragnor restarted the narrative for Alec to pick it back up.

“No, Mr Bane, Officer Wayland and Mr Lightwood-Lewis were following me” he answered.

“Why them?” he asked, “Why not call the abduction in, surely that is the correct police procedure?”.

Alec nodded, “I… we were afraid of what he would do to Max if he realised we had reported what was happening.  We didn’t know if he had cameras at the sites where I had to trade cars and phones… it was too dangerous”.

“You said cars.  How many times did he have you changing cars?” Ragnor led Alec where he needed him to go.

“Twice.  From the first car switch he had me drive to a second location and change cars and phones again.  Then he gave me a general location to travel to, he told me to call him when I was there and he would talk me in once I was closer”.

Ragnor nodded, his eyes scanning over the jury again.  “So, you followed the instructions?”.

“Yes.  Even with the directions it was hard to find because it was so overgrown, but eventually I arrived at Renwicks.  He was waiting for me in the parking lot”.

“What happened then Alec?” Ragnor’s voice was gentle.

“I parked the car and got out, just wanting to get to Max.  But Sebastian told me to take off my coat and sweatshirt so he could check if I was carrying a weapon.  He also had me take off my sneakers and lift my pant legs.  Once he was satisfied I wasn’t carrying a hidden weapon he let me put my sneakers on but told me to leave my coat and sweatshirt on the floor”.

Ragnor raised an eyebrow and threw the jury a shocked look.  “So what did that leave you wearing?”.

“Sweatpants and a t-shirt” he replied.

“Wasn’t it 20 degrees that night?”.

Alec nodded, “Yes, a storm was coming in so there was heavy snowfall as well”.

Ragnor mock shivered…

“Judge!” Pangbourn exclaimed in annoyance.

“Mr Fell” the judge eyed him over the top of her glasses, “You know better” though her tone indicated the scolding was half-hearted.

Ragnor inclined his head politely.  “Judge, my apologies.  I’ll tone down the theatrics”.

The judge smiled at him, then pushed her glasses back up her nose and nodded for him to continue.

“What happened then Alec?”.

“He told me to head into the building, he wanted me to walk ahead of him.  So I did as he ordered, I just wanted to see Max.  We crossed the bridge and I got a better look at the building…” he paused here because he knew what Ragnor wanted him to say.

They had talked extensively about his testimony and he was even more skilled than Tessa at getting Alec to talk.  He had admitted to Ragnor how dark his thoughts had been at this point and the DA had asked Alec to share this, explaining it would help the jury to understand how threatening Sebastian was. 

Alec had, naturally, objected but Ragnor had pointed out that Sebastian was going to play on his appearance.  He was shorter than Alec, as well as a smaller frame.  His time at Wrangle Island had left him lighter and with less muscle tone, he looked weaker and Pangborn would use this to suggest you could have overcome him had he wanted to.  If Alec explained his frame of mind they would have a better understanding on why he was being so compliant.

Alec was annoyed that his brother’s life being in danger wasn’t enough for them, but he had eventually agreed.  The problem was, he hadn’t found a way to talk to Magnus about this ahead of time, which meant his partner had no idea what he had been thinking when he walked into that building.

And this wasn’t the only difficult revelation he had to give to an unsuspecting Magnus.

“Alec?” Ragnor prompted.

He realised he had been quiet for too long and the whole room was studying him closely.  His eyes looked for Magnus and found him, as he promised, looking at him with concern clear on his face.

“Alec?” Ragnor said again and Alec inhaled deeply.

“Sorry” he looked back at the DA who was smiling, trying to be reassuring.

“It’s alright Alec, I can only imagine how difficult this is for you.  Can you tell me what you were thinking?” he helped him along.

“OBJECTION!” Pangborn was up on his feet in outrage again.  “This witness’s thoughts cannot be verified as accurate, he could say, quite literally, anything”.

“Your honour” Ragnor straightened up and looked at the judge.  “While Mr Lightwood is testifying as a witness, he is a decorated detective of the NYPD…”.

“That has nothing to do with this…” Pangborn argued loudly.

“…and he has been sworn in.  His record is clean and there is nothing to cast doubt on his integrity.  His ‘thoughts’ are relevant however, as they go to the witness’s state of mind at the time and why Mr Verlac was able to manipulate him with threats against his brother”.

The judge looked between the two lawyers, considering her verdict, then called.  “Overruled…” before looking at Alec, “You may answer Mr Lightwood”.

He felt a little disappointment, if she had sustained the objection he wouldn’t have to talk about this.  As it was, now he had to.

Alec took another glance at his three loved ones sat in the front row, watching him carefully.  Then he took another deep breath and said, “I was convinced I was going to die there”.

There was small gasp from one of the jurors and Ragnor had to keep from smiling, it just wouldn’t be right to show his satisfaction.

Alec risked a glance back to his family and saw his mother had a hand over her mouth, Max’s eyes were as wide as saucers and Magnus… looked sad.  It pinched his heart.

“Why, when you knew your friends were following you?” Ragnor again prodded him in the direction he needed.

“I was sure with the car and phone changes that they would have lost track of me.  And I didn’t know how I could get both myself and Max out of there.  My plan was to detain Sebastian while Max got away, I just didn’t know how to do that safely”.

Ragnor nodded to himself.  “Thank you for sharing that Alec, I’m sure it was hard to admit something so personal in a public forum”.

Alec picked up his glass and took another sip of his water, the cool liquid soothing his throat and it gave his hands something to do.

“How did you get in the building Alec?” Ragnor asked once he’d watched him compose himself.

“Mr Verlac had a key”, he explained.  “Once we were inside he locked the door again and he directed me through the building to some rooms that were in the centre.  They had power, I thought I could hear a generator but I didn’t actually see one”.

“What else did you see in those rooms?” Ragnor went back to leaning on the witness box.

“There was a laboratory, with two other rooms leading off from it.  Both of those doors were closed, it was then that Mr Verlac promised me again that Max wouldn’t be hurt as long as I ‘behaved’”.

“And you believed him?” Ragnor asked though the question wasn’t derogatory at all.

Alec nodded, “With what he was suspected of already… I believed he wouldn’t think twice about hurting Max… or worse”.  He drew in a ragged breath, “I just wanted to see Max and I asked Mr Verlac where he was.  He opened the door to one of the rooms and Max was inside, secured to an office chair by the wrists and ankles with zip ties.  He was gagged as well”.

“How was Max at this point?”.

Alec looked down at his hands which were fisting in the fabric of his pants.  “He looked scared, his wrists were sore from the plastic binds but otherwise he was unharmed”.

“So, doing as he asked kept Max safe.  Just as you thought it would?”.

Alec looked up at the DA again, “Yes”.

“What happened next?” Ragnor encouraged him.

“I was allowed to talk to Max, he was afraid that Mr Verlac wasn’t going to let either of us go.  I asked Verlac but he said he had a plan.  He said he’d arranged for transport to get himself and I away but we wouldn’t leave until the following night.  So all three of us would be staying there until Verlac took me with him, leaving Max behind.  He promised he would then call the authorities to let them know where Max was once we were away”.

Ragnor had been nodding along with the story as Alec told it.  Now he asked, “Did you believe him?”.

Alec glanced Max’s way, seeing his light brown eyes staring intently at Alec.  “Not for one moment.  I was almost sure he was going to kill Max, if not both of us”.

“That must have been frightening?” the DA asked softly.

“I was afraid for Max” Alec answered honestly.  “I asked Mr Verlac what we were supposed to do until the following night and he said…” he dragged in another shaky breath.  “He said we would ‘enjoy each other’”.

Ragnor frowned, all part of the act as he knew what was coming.  “What do you think he meant by that?”.

Alec squirmed uncomfortably, his hands released his pant legs and he took to squeezing them shut tightly into fists, rubbing his knuckles hard on his thighs.

“I think… he wanted to have sex with me”.  He had seriously been expecting an objection from Pangborn but the man remained quiet and seated, though he was watching Alec very closely.

“Was it just what he said that made you think this?” Ragnor asked.

Alec shook his head, his hands squeezing harder.  “He told me to sit down on the bed, he told me to use the cuff he’d set up already.  It was attached to the bedframe and once I had it on I couldn’t move form the bed”.

“Why did you put it on Alec?” Ragnor wanted him to clarify this point as he had missed it out. 

“He was stood next to Max and he had his gun held against him.  I was… afraid that if I didn’t do what he wanted he was going to kill Max”.  He cringed inwardly as he felt as though he was blaming Max, that if he hadn’t been worried about his life he wouldn’t have been so vulnerable.  But one look at Max’s face and he could see that wasn’t how Max saw it.

“What happened once you were restrained Alec?”.

“He… Mr Verlac…” he corrected himself so that it was clear who he was talking about.  “put the gun down and he… he wanted to make us dinner.  I… I told him that we didn’t want to eat with him.  He said he wanted us to have a nice evening together, as if we were on a date.  I told him I wasn’t there by choice, I was only there because he had taken my little brother…”.

“How did Mr Verlac feel about that?”.

“He was angry” Alec explained, “I also told him that I wasn’t consenting to anything.  That got him really angry and he swept the food and kitchen utensils onto the floor.  It scared Max and… I was worried I might have pushed him too far”.

“Did you?” Ragnor cocked his head as he looked at Alec.

Alec nodded, looking down at his lap again.  “He fetched the gun from where we had left it and he ordered me to stand up…”.  He reached out to pick up the glass but as soon as he started to lift it he saw his hands were shaking so he placed it back down, not wanting the court room of mostly strangers to see his reaction.

“Alec?” Ragnor pushed again, as kindly as he could.

“He told me to take off my clothes.  Max was upset and Mr Verlac threatened him again, I told Max it would be okay, I told him not to struggle against his binds because he was hurting himself.  I told him to close his eyes, that everything would be fine and that he would be okay”.  Alec glanced up at Magnus to see him wiping a tear away before it could really escape from his eye.

“What then?”.

“When Max was calmed, I did as I was told.  My t-shirt got caught by the cuff so Mr Verlac… he had a knife that he used to cut it off…”.

“He had a knife as well as a gun?” Ragnor deliberately asked him to reiterate the point so the jurors were completely clear.

Alec nodded, “Yes”.

“Did he back away again?”.

“No” Alec looked down again, back to fisting his hands tightly, knowing they were getting to the part he dreaded, the other admission he was going to have to make that he wished he’d had the courage to talk to Magnus about before.  “He… breathed me in and looked over me… my body.  He said he thought I was something special and he licked up the side of my neck”.

“That must have been a shock?”.

Alec swallowed and nodded.  “Yeah, I made a mistake… I didn’t mean to but it… he caught me off guard and I made a noise of disgust before pulling away.  It disturbed Max and he opened his eyes, shouting at Mr Verlac to leave me alone.  They argued, I couldn’t get Max to stop… Mr Verlac was getting angrier and angrier and I just wanted to protect Max…” he stopped for a moment to breathe, realising he was in danger of babbling.

When he started up again he was calmer.  “They kept fighting until Sebastian went over and hit him on the head, hard, with the gun.  Max slumped over… he wouldn’t answer me when I called him and then Mr Verlac just wheeled him out of the room.  He wouldn’t tell me if he was okay and he wouldn’t tell me where he was taking him”.

“I’m sure that was terrifying” Ragnor said with sympathy.

“I didn’t know if he was alive, he hit him really hard.  But, I had to think he was still alive.  I couldn’t risk doing anything that might make things worse” Alec explained.

“What happened next Alec?”.

“Mr Verlac came back.  He took off his jacket, but I was angry and I told him to stay away from me.  That’s when he told me Max was alive, but if I wanted him to stay that way I’d do as I was told”.

“And what did he want you to do?” Ragnor pushed for the details that the jury needed to know.

“He wanted to start where we left off, so…” he looked at Magnus.  Here it was, the part he hadn’t told him and he was afraid of how he would react.

Alec reached for the glass again, this time too desperate for a drink to care that his hands were shaking.  He managed a sip but when he put the glass down he saw smudges of red on the outside of the glass.  He looked at his palm and found the moon shaped slices in his skin which were oozing blood.  He’d squeezed his hands so tightly his nails had cut into his palms.

“Alec?” he heard Ragnor call his name and he looked back up at him.  “Are you alright to continue?”.

“I need a tissue” he whispered.

Ragnor glanced at his hand, then quickly reached into his own pocket and drew out a clean handkerchief, Alec pressing it to his wounds as soon as he received it.

“Thank you” he whispered and Ragnor nodded.

“Are you okay to continue now?” he asked again.

He looked at Magnus, and his boyfriend was looking back at him with confusion, as though he sensed Alec’s anxiety about what he had to say next, also sensing that it was about more than what Alec had told him already.

“When Mr Verlac got back after he told me Max was still alive but he would kill him if I didn’t do as he said… I… I agreed to have sex with him.  I said we should just get it over with…”.  He had been looking at Ragnor but his eyes drifted over his shoulder to Sebastian’s lawyer and he saw the sly smile on Pangborn’s face.  It turned his blood to ice.

“But what I said… it upset him” he finished.

“Why did it upset him Alec?”.

“He said it wasn’t what he imagined.  I told him it wouldn’t be anything else, I told him that I may have said yes but it would still be rape…” Alec’s voice waivered so he paused, taking another sip of water, Magnus noticing Ragnor’s handkerchief wrapped around his hand.

“How did he take that?” Ragnor queried.

“He was angry.  He realised I wasn’t going to… I wasn’t going to be actively involved in what he wanted to do.  That’s when he decided that a shot of yin fen might make me more… receptive and complaint”.

“But, you already had yin fen in your system from Verlac’s earlier attack on you.  Wasn’t it dangerous to take more?” Ragnor laced his voice with feigned horror, again playing it up for the jury.

“I don’t think he cared at that point” Alec replied.  He was avoiding Magnus eyes, he knew he was.  He didn’t know how he had taken the news that Alec had agreed to have sex with Sebastian, even though he and Magnus were together.  He was afraid that if he looked at him now and saw anger or disappointment it would break him.

“How did he give you the yin fen?” Ragnor drew him out of his thoughts.

“It was a syringe.  I didn’t want to take it, I told him that.  He said if I didn’t take it he would ‘walk down the hall, cut Max’s head off and bring it back to me’”.

There were several gasps at that, and he recognised one as his mothers.

“I couldn’t risk it… so I took the injection”.  He took a deep breath.  “It worked quickly… everything from then is just flashes…”.

“Can you tell us what you do remember?” Ragnor prompted him carefully, recognising the signs of stress.

“I had stood up when I was trying to stop him hurting Max, but when the drug hit me… I sat back down on the bed, I couldn’t stand anymore.  I felt a hand on my cheek, a thumb rubbing over my skin there… then hands on my shoulders, pushing me to lay down on my stomach.  Then someone was straddling my hips, hands on my back and kissing the base of my neck… I remember fingers pulling at my underwear… then suddenly they were gone, and so was the weight on the back of me”.

“That’s when Mr Bane arrived and was able to get Mr Verlac off of you?” Ragnor clarified.

Alec nodded.  “That’s what I was told, I don’t remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital”.

Chapter Text

“Thank you Alec” Ragnor smiled at him, but his eyes were concerned and he gave a meaningful look at the judge.

She caught it and turned in her seat to look at down at Alec.  “Mr Lightwood, would you like a short break before Mr Pangborn’s cross examination of your testimony?”.

Alec cleared his throat and looked at Pangborn who, since Alec’s revelation, looked a little too pleased with himself.  Alec knew he had given him a way to argue consent had been given.  He didn’t know if it would have much affect on Sebastian’s charges, even if the jury agreed it couldn’t be classed as sexual assault and attempted rape, with all of the other charges he was facing it would be a hollow victory.  But one that, Alec was surprised to find, would greatly upset him.

“Mr Lightwood?” the judged prompted him and he realised he had drifted off into his thoughts.

“No, your honor” he said and looked up at her.  “Thank you but I would like to finish”.

She studied him for a moment, then nodded once and looked at Ragnor with expectation.

Ragnor tapped his nails on the edge of the witness box for a moment, clearly not happy with Alec’s decision but ultimately deciding to respect it.

“No more questions” he told the judge and then walked back to his table, sitting next to his assistant while Alec turned to face Pangborn.

His face had gone from sly to predatory and he started to stand, but was stopped when Sebastian’s hand gripped his arm tightly.

“No” the blonde whispered, not taking his eyes off Alec.

“Mr Verlac” Pangborn spoke as though he was defending a child, “I need to cross examine Mr Lightwood…”.

“No” he said, his voice loud enough for those at the front of the court to hear.

“I need to act in your defence Sebastian” Pangborn hissed.  “You are tying my hands…”.

“Leave him be” Sebastian finally turned to look his lawyer in the eye, “Or I will fire you and defend myself.  Our mutual friend would not be happy with that…”.

Pangborn swallowed thickly, but seemed to understand and nodded.  Sebastian released his arm and let the man stand.

He took a deep breath, straightening his suit jacket at the same time.  “We have no questions for this witness” he informed the court, then sat again, ignoring the excited muttering that swept through the crowd.

The judge looked at him as though he had grown an extra head, but didn’t feel the need to argue with him.  Instead, she thumped her gavel twice to quieten the room before speaking again.

“In that case, we’re in recess for lunch.  Court will re-start at 2:00pm when the prosecution can call their next witness…” she turned back to Alec.  “You may step down Mr Lightwood”.

Alec nodded and stepped out of the witness box, heading for the gate in the fence, blocking as much from his peripheral vision as he could.  He reached out to push the gate, only to find it already opening and he looked up into golden eyes that watched him with concern.

He stepped through and Magnus let the gate swing shut, putting himself on Alec’s right this time which again placed him between his boyfriend and Verlac.  With a hand on the small of his back for support he led Alec down the isle and through the door at the back of the court that the steward had held open.  But he didn’t stop there.  Magnus continued to guide him, while he was in somewhat of a daze, all the way back to the small office they had waited in that morning and onto a chair at the table.

At some point a hot coffee was put in front of him but he didn’t know who had done it, the voices around him merging into a low buzz as his mind went over everything he had said, analysing whether he had done enough and starting to pick holes in his testimony.

“Hey” a familiar voice said firmly, and he felt a hand over the top of his as he rested it flat on the table.  He looked at that hand, the golden, caramel skin, the rings on the fingers and the bracelets around the slim wrist and decided he didn’t want it to ever let go.

Alec’s eyes wandered over the impressive arm, across the broad shoulders, up the long neck and he finally found Magnus’ face.  And his face was full of love, respect and admiration.  There was no anger or disgust as he had feared.

“I’m so sorry”, he whispered.

A frown creased Magnus’ beautiful face as he looked at his younger boyfriend with confusion.  “What for love?”.

“For agreeing to have sex with Sebastian” he replied, his voice laced with sadness and tears welling in his eyes.

Realisation of what Alec was thinking hit Magnus like a truck and his face went from confused to horrified in a split second.  He cupped Alec’s cheek with his other hand and, tenderly, moved his head so the younger man had to look at him.

“What you did you had to do to take care of Max” he spoke quietly but pronounced each word clearly, ensuring Alec heard and understood what he was saying.  “That was not consent, nor was it cheating.  Do you understand sayang?”.

Alec sniffed, but nodded and Magnus tilted his head down slightly so he could press a kiss to his forehead before whispering against his skin, “I love you”.

The detective gave out a huffed laughed, “You’d better” he whispered back and he could feel Magnus lips brush his skin as he smiled at the response before pulling back completely.

Alec looked around the room and was shocked to see they were alone.  “Where is everyone?”.

“Ragnor has escorted Maryse and Max to the restaurant, they intend to bring back some food.  Though from what I remember of Ragnor complaints we may not want to eat it” Magnus answered him.

“I don’t think I can eat right now anyway” he admitted, his stomach feeling hollow, but it wasn’t the type of void that food was going to fill.

“Will you try?” Magnus asked carefully, “For me?”.

Alec looked at him, his eyes flicking from his boyfriends, down to his lips and back up again.  “If you do something for me?”.

“Humm?” the inflection of his hum raised at the end as though it was a question, though he already had an idea of what Alec wanted.

“Kiss me?” he asked, “Like only you kiss me.  I want to remember that, not what I had to talk about today” he explained softly.

“That…” Magnus said as he lent in, “…is something I can, and am always very happy, to do”.

Alec closed his eyes as Magnus soft, plump lips brushed against his, then pressed closer and Alec responded.  Their lips slotted together like puzzle pieces meant to be side by side and Alec could smell the familiar cherry chap stick that his boyfriend favoured.  Their lips rolled together and when Magnus pressed forward again, his tongue drew across Alec’s lips, asking and Alec answered, parting his lips so Magnus could deepen the kiss.  He felt the older man’s hands running up his arms, one stopping to hold his bicep firmly, the other continuing up into the shorter hair at the back of his head, gently tilting it so Magnus could press impossibly closer, his tongue sliding against Alec’s and Alec let out a soft moan, his own hands circling Magnus’ waist and finding he could nothing but hold on for the ride.  It was exactly what he needed and he felt the shivers down his back, the heat low in his stomach…

“Oh for the love of…” Ragnor sighed, exasperated.  “Put the poor boy down Magnus, don’t you think he’s been through enough today”.

Magnus drew away with a final wet suck of Alec’s lower lip, making a noise that was positively obscene considering where they were, and he looked exceedingly proud of himself when he saw Alec’s dilated pupils, flushed cheeks and kiss swollen lips.

“Something like that?” he whispered for Alec’s ears only, ignoring Ragnor’s words and his presence entirely.

“Umm humm”, was all Alec could manage as he licked his own lips, tasting the cherry this time.

Magnus smirked back, not looking away from Alec.

Ragnor stepped further in and dropped his briefcase onto the table with a thud, catching Alec’s attention, to Magnus’ annoyance and he stared at his friend with narrowed eyes.

“Well,” Ragnor began as he sat opposite the couple.  “I know what you’re like Alec, so I’ll say this once.  You did stupendously, well done”.

Alec opened his mouth to argue the point when Max blustered into the room, his eyes spotting his brother immediately, and he rushed over to envelop him in a hug.  Alec was so stunned by the gesture, typically it was Alec hugging him, that he couldn’t speak.

Max pulled his head back from his oldest brother’s shoulder so he could look him in the eye.  “Thank you, I… I didn’t know what you… what you were going to do to keep me safe…”.

Alec saw his brother’s wet eyes and he was able to move, hugging him back.  “It’s okay Max, Magnus and Jace got there before anything happened to me…”.

“You’re definition of ‘anything happening to you’ is very different to mine” Maryse said as she joined them at a more sedate rate than her youngest, carrying some prepacked sandwiches in her hands.

She sounded angry but Alec knew it wasn’t at him, it was at what Sebastian had done, what he had put her sons through.  Max stepped away, taking a seat the other side of Alec and Maryse held out two sandwiches, one for him and one for Magnus.  He took both, handing the chicken salad to Magnus and taking the roast beef and mustard for himself.

She then handed Max his and went to join Ragnor on the other side of the table, Alec didn’t miss the fact that she didn’t have any food for herself.

He looked at his own sandwich, glanced at Magnus who grimaced as he eyed his own, then ripped open the packet and, with some trepidation, he took a reasonable mouthful.  It wasn’t all that bad, and he gave Magnus a shallow shrug of his shoulders and the other man took it as a sign he could at least trust the food not to poison him.

Alec glanced at his brother and saw that he had already devoured his sandwich in full and was licking in fingers.

Max looked at him, eyes wide, mid-finger lick. 

“What?” he asked.  “Stress makes me hungry, your lucky mom found the chocolate bar I had, otherwise I would have been eating during court”.

Alec snorted in amusement, surprising even himself.

Magnus raised his eyebrows at the noise, happy to hear it after the morning they’d all needed to endure.  He was about to speak when a cell vibrated in Maryse bag and she pulled it out with a frown, realising it was Alec’s and she handed it over.

Alec had forgotten he had given her his cell for safe keeping just before court and he took it back, seeing it was Lydia who was calling.

Magnus also saw and couldn’t help but frown.  He knew Alec had intended on returning to work that afternoon but he had hoped he would have a change of mind after giving his testimony, that he would perhaps realise he needed to take some time to process the memories his testimony will have undoubtedly dug up.

“Lydia?” he answered the call as soon as his cell was back in his hands.

“Alec” she answered, “How did it go?”.

“Fine, we’re all done.  What time are we meeting with Carlos’ partner?” he answered her but transitioned straight into a new topic, signalling that he didn’t want to linger on his morning.

“2:00pm, he has sent the address.  Apparently it’s a property that Carlos was in the process of selling and he needs to meet a client there so he wanted to meet us there as well”, she explained.

“Okay, text me the address and I’ll meet you there” he promised before hanging up.

As soon as he slipped his cell back into his pocket he clocked the faces looking at him with varying degrees of disbelief.  Instead of addressing it, he decided to ignore it and turned to Magnus.

“I’ll get a cab…”.  They had come in one car that morning, Magnus not wanting him to drive and certainly not prepared to let him go alone in a cab, so Magnus had driven them in the Porsche.

“There’s no need”, Magnus waved his suggestion away.  “I have the day so I can take you there”.

“Magnus, you don’t need to do that…” he started.

“I know I, I want to” and he threw his boyfriend a wink before turning is attention back to his sandwich.

“Alec”, Maryse said, about to suggest that going home would likely be the better option.  But she saw the look in his eyes and knew it from old.  Her son needed a distraction and work would do that better than anything else.

“Eat your sandwich” she said instead, seeing he had still only had the one mouthful.

He looked down at his sandwich and was going to attempt a second bite, but when the smell reached his nose his stomach clenched and he put the food back down.

“I’ll be right back” he mumbled, “I need to use the rest room”.

Alec didn’t wait for anyone to comment.  He abandoned his lunch and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.

The corridor outside was buzzing with activity, some courts heading to lunch, others just coming back, some finishing up and some switching over to the hear the next case.  He saw lawyers from both ends of the spectrum, defence attorney’s in high priced suits and leather briefcases, practically carbon copies of Pangborn, strolling the halls, some the clients by their sides, some on phones looking stressed.  There were public defenders, carrying piles of paperwork and files, some being followed by multiple people, many of them on calls, multitasking their likely massive caseloads.  He also saw prosecutors, both looking harried and satisfied depending on the results of the cases their were trying.

And amongst these there were judges, stenographers, court security as well as a vast number of friends, family and petty criminals, all in their own worlds as they tried to cope the best they could for whatever reason they were there on that day.

Someone, he couldn’t remember who, had told him once that there was comfort in share misery.  And looking around at the people today, many faces of misery, some in tears, he finally understood that saying.  He didn’t feel so alone.  Which of course was ridiculous as he worked with people just like this everyday, victims and perpetrators of crime.  And he’d been the victim enough times, too many for his liking.

He pushed his way into the rest room, ignoring the various other men milling around and going about their business, heading straight for an empty stall, slamming and locking the door, flicking the toilet lid down and sitting, making use of the breathing exercises Izzy had taught him in his teens to try and bring his heart rate down and sooth his rolling stomach.  He knew it was the start of a panic attack and the last thing he needed was for his family to see him like this, and certainly not anyone from his team.

He felt the sweat start to trickle down his spine and he pulled off his suit jacket, laying it across is lap, trying to cool down.  He drew in a breath to the count of five, then released it again to the same count.  He did this over and over until his heart beat had slowed, he had stopped sweating and he did actually feel the need to pee.

So he stood, redressed and used the cubical for its given purpose before heading out to the sinks, where he found Emil Pangborn waiting.

“Mr Lightwood” he smiled, flashing pearly white teeth.  “You were in there quite a while, with some very strange noises, are you unwell?” he feigned concern.

Alec glared at him, then went about his business washing his hands, turning his eyes to himself in the mirror, trying to phase out both the lawyer and the other people using the facilities.

“Let me ask you something…” he stops at the sink next to Alec, leaning his ass against the porcelain and crossing his arms over his chest, tilting back at the hips just a little so he could look directly into Alec’s face.  “Why does Verlac give you a pass?”.

Alec’s eyes flick to his but otherwise he ignores him.

“I mean…” he carries on, his voice laced with curiosity.  “He couldn’t have cared less when I questioned Will and Mattius.  Hell, he wasn’t even bother when I laid into your brother…” he paused for dramatic affect. 

Alec had no idea what he was hoping for, whether he was trying to initiate some kind of angry response or just wind him up.  Either way he rinsed the soap from his hands and headed for the paper towels without a word.

“And yet, you give me a perfect opening to argue consent and he won’t let me cross examine you” he finished, not having moved from his original position.

Alec dumped his wet towels into the trash and looked at Pangborn.  “You shouldn’t be talking to me”.

He smiled again, it definitely reminded Alec of a shark. 

“What’s your secret Lightwood?” he asked,  “You’ve got 'em chasing after you.  Jonathan Morgenstern, Sebastian Verlac… and Magnus Bane.  You picked the right one of course, they don’t come much richer…”.

Alec took a step towards the man but stopped when he saw the look of satisfaction in his eyes.  He took a deep breath and let the comment go.  He looked the man up and down, at the expensive suit, the neat grooming, the shinny shoes… appearances mattered to him.

“What’s your success rate Pangborn?” he asked, shoving his hands into his pockets.  “I mean, straight guilty, not guilty verdicts?”.

The lawyer’s smile faded and his body tensed.

“Because that’s how you measure yourself right?” Alec continued.  “And a high profile case like this?” he shook his head, mocking him.  “It’s going to stay with you… your whole career”.

Pangborn looked pissed now.

Alec took another step towards him.  “I know…” he said quietly, “…that you are Valentine’s go to guy.  If I find out that you are aiding and abetting a criminal….” He sucked in a breath through his teeth at the same time as shaking his head again.  “There’s no coming back from that”.

Pangborn swallowed, gave a final glower, then shoved past the detective and out the door.

Alec let him go, wondering if he had kicked a hornets nest.  He wasn’t involved in the search for Valentine and he had no doubt that Pangborn would be reporting back at the first opportunity.  He should probably tell the lead agent heading the investigation, just in case.

Having given it a few minutes for Pangborn to make his escape, Alec headed back out of the washroom and back to the meeting room, passing different yet similar people in the halls.

He had to pass their allocated court room and as his eyes drifted inside he saw a familiar figure stood in the middle of the aisle.  She was carrying a camel skin coat with what looked like a fur collar draped over her arm and wearing a well tailored, tight red skirt suit with black pumps so high Izzy would have been reluctantly impressed.

She turned on one of those heels and caught his eye, giving him a toothy smile full of what looked like confidence but what he knew to be arrogance.

He ignored Camille and the irritation it caused that she could face this whole thing with a smug look on her face, picking up the pace to get back to their meeting room.

When he came in Max had stolen his chair so he and Magnus could look at something on his cell while Maryse was in conversation with Ragnor about the prosecution strategy and Ragnor seemed thrilled to be getting some free insight into how a talented defence attorney might tackle the case.

He closed the door a little louder than he probably should, all eyes turning to him.  He decided not to mention his encounter with Pangborn, instead just looking at Magnus.

“We should go” he said, “I don’t want to be late meeting Lydia”.

His brow furrowed for a split second, knowing there was something else but letting Alec have this.  He turned to Max and smiled, “We’ll see you soon Maximillian, don’t forget to book that appointment for Alec”.

Max smiled at him and nodded eagerly, “Sure thing”.  They both stood and hugged before Max walked to Alec’s side and hugged him too.

Alec held his little brother tightly and kissed the top of his head.  It was a testament to the kind of day the brothers had had when Max let him without complaint.  Alec caught his mother’s eyes and mouthed ‘call me’, she nodded back, knowing what he meant.

They had agreed that Max should see Jem and when they broached the subject Max was surprisingly compliant.  He’d been seeing him weekly at first and had it down to monthly but, with the trial pending, Alec and Maryse had spoken about whether he should go more often.  Alec had been insistent they ask Max, giving him control over his therapy, and Max had wanted to stay the same, but agreed to revisit the subject after he had given his testimony.  Maryse would keep a close eye on him and call Alec if they needed to get him an emergency appointment.

By the time Magnus had said good bye to Ragnor and then Maryse, with some whispered words that Alec couldn’t quite catch, they were finally out of the room and heading for the staircase but Alec took Magnus by the elbow and guided him gently towards the side of the room, out of the flow through of people rushing through their own lives.

“So you are going to tell me what is going on?” Magnus’ tone was light, trying to offset the look on Alec’s face.

“We have to go past the court room to get to the stairs, Camille is in there” he told him in a low voice.

Magnus turned to look in that direction and a shadow passed briefly over his face.  “No, she isn’t”.

“Mags!” Camille exclaimed as she sauntered in their direction, swaying her hips provocatively and attracting as much attention as possible.  Beside her was young man in an expensive electric blue suit with a pastel yellow shirt, open three buttons down.

Magnus gritted his teeth and turned to face her, his hand automatically reaching for Alec’s, who held onto his tightly.

“Camille” he said calmly.  “You’re early”.

“Yes, I was hoping to get a feel for the court room” she flashed her teeth, practically glowing behind the dark red lipstick she had applied generously.  “And of course, I’m covering the story for the new publication I’m working for.  This is my colleague Charlie, he’s been sitting in on the testimonies that I haven’t been able to”.

Alec looked the man over, trying to think as to whether he had noticed him in the court room while he was giving his testimony.  He didn’t think so but he couldn’t be sure as he’d tried to pay very little attention to anyone but Magnus, Ragnor and his family.  He glanced at Magnus and could tell from the glare he was throwing at the man he had been there and Magnus was not amused.

“He tells me…” Camille approached Alec, finger out and the lengthy nail of her index finger tapped at the centre of his chest, “…a very interesting tale from your testimony Detective Lightwood, care to go on record”.

“Touch him again and I’ll have you arrested for harassment” Magnus snapped, restraining himself from slapping her hand away from his boyfriend.

Camille rolled her eyes and took a step back.  “Ugh” she moaned out in annoyance.  “You never could share your toys could you Mags”.

“Okay, we’re leaving” Alec said and both he and Magnus walked away, still hand in hand.

“Let me know when you’re ready to talk Lightwood” Camille called after him.  “It would make an interesting article to have both our perspectives”.

“She never fucking learns” Magnus hissed angrily as they walked away.

Chapter Text

Settling back into his chair he crossed one leg over the other and draped his tissue napkin over his knee before twisting the cardboard food basket that sat on the table in front of him to a more satisfactory angle for eating.

Once he was happy he gave his surroundings a cursory glance, out of habit more than anything, to make sure there was nothing he had missed that he should be aware of. 

“It’s fucking freezing” a small voice said next to him and he turned to look at the young boy sat beside him with his own basket of food.

He raised an eyebrow behind his sunglasses and peered down at the 7-year-old.

“I doubt your father let you use language like that, and I’m sure as shit your mom doesn’t let you” he commented calmly.

“Yeah well, neither of them are here” he grabbed a fry and nibbled down the full length like a rabbit then grinned up at the older man, a gap in his teeth on the bottom row.

“You lost a tooth” Malcolm pointed out.

He shrugged his slender shoulders, eyes focusing back on his food.  “I’ve lost a few now, mom gives me $5 for every one”.

“Don’t you mean the tooth fairy gave you $5?” he asked.

The kid snorted, “I’m seven Uncle Mal”.

Malcolm looked back out over the view, feeling the wind ruffle the hair that was sticking out beneath his woollen hat.  “Good point” he agreed.

They were silent for a moment, the only noise was the occasional squawk from a seagull, the low murmur of other patrons (those these were few and far between) and the young man beside him sucking his drink up through his straw.

“You know…” Malcolm was the first to speak up, “…in my day I got 10 cents per tooth”.

“That’s cause you’re fucking old” the boy replied without pause.

“Okay Trey, cool it with the swear words” he scolded half heartedly.  “If you go back home and start using that language your mom will never let me see you again”.

Trey rolled his deep brown eyes.  “Whatever” he mumbled, picking up the ketchup bottle and spreading a liberal amount over his hotdog.

“Seriously, where’d you hear that?” Malcolm looked back at Trey, lifting his sunglasses up so he could focus on the young boy properly.

“Dad said it all the time when he was on the phone in the garage”, he was dipping fries in the ketchup on the hotdog now, leaving little trails in the red sauce.  “Why’d he only talk to work people in the garage?” he asked, squinting up at his uncle.

“Cause if he didn’t people would listen in” Malcom pointed out.

“Didn’t work then did it”.

“Another good point” he had to agree as he lowered his glasses and picked up his slushy.

Trey watched him with curiosity as he took a gulp of the frozen drink.

“How’d you drink that when it’s so cold?”.

“It’s not that cold” Malcolm pointed out, remember a job he and Trey’s father did in Canada once.  It had cost his colleague two toes.

“It’s winter” Trey said.

“Technically, it’s still autumn” Malcolm retorted.

Trey stared at him as though he was an asshole.  Malcolm decided he was probably thinking he was an asshole and the only reason he hadn’t said it was because he’d already been told not to swear.

“I spend the majority of my life in countries so hot you forget that you’re not actually supposed to spend 24/7 thirsty and covered in sweat.  This…” he shook his cup at his young dinner companion, “…is a luxury”.

“Did my dad like them too?” Trey asked.

Malcolm nodded, taking a second to check the time on this phone which was laid on the table next to his food.  Hi associate was bordering on late and he looked around at the people walking, hoping he would at least see her approaching from the distance.

“I like raspberry, he liked the cherry” Malcolm replied.  He couldn’t see anyone who fitted the description so he turned his attention out to the scenery again, the grey colour of the sea almost merging into the grey of the skies. 

The sun was still out, low and bright in the sky, but there were clouds gathering.  It wasn’t raining yet but it wouldn’t be long and he wanted to be back at his hotel before that happened.

He realised Trey had been quiet and he looked back to the boy, seeing his whole demeaner had changed,  His shoulder were hunched, his hands in his lap and his head hung down.

“What’s wrong Trey?” he asked, feigning concern.

“I miss dad” he whispered.

Malcolm nodded, even though Trey wasn’t looking at him.  “Me too”.

“When he worked with you he always came home.  I think if he had worked with you this time he would have come home again” he blinked up at Malcolm with his big brown eyes, wet with unshed tears.

Malcolm considered what to say to the boy, especially as he actually wasn’t wrong.  If his father hadn’t worked for a competitor that summer, Lilith wouldn’t have ordered his contract terminated and Malcolm wouldn’t have had to shoot him in the head and bury him where his body wouldn’t be found.  Lilith didn’t tolerate disloyalty, everyone in the organisation knew that.

“It’s the danger of the work we do Trey” Malcolm looked down at him.  “He told you that much right?”.

Trey nodded slowly.

“You have friends who have family in the military?” he asked.

He nodded, “My best friends dad, he was hurt and doesn’t have to go back.  And his uncle died two years ago”.

“And they miss him right?”

“Yeah” he squints up at him again.

“It’s okay to miss him, that’s normal” he glances around again and his eyes land on a young women coming towards him.  One hand was gripping the handle of the backpack over her shoulder and the other a young girl, perhaps a few years younger than Trey.  He had no idea though, he had no desire to have children and was clueless when it came to estimating their ages.

“Mom says he’s in a better place” Trey went back to his fries.  “Do you think that’s true?”.

Malcolm thought about that for a moment, his eyes watching the approach of the young women who was now watching him back with equal intensity.

“I don’t know” he relied honestly, knowing he should have comforting words for the son of his former colleague, but lacking the motivation right now to think up the appropriate response.  “Can’t be any worse than here though right?”.

Trey seemed to think this over as he chewed the latest fry thoroughly.  “I guess, life sucks”.

Malcolm glanced at him with slight frown.  That was surprisingly astute for a 7-year-old and he wondered if that was one of those trigger signs his therapist was always going on about.  He pushed it to the back of his mind when the woman dropped down into the seat beside him, setting the Mandalorian backpack on the floor between them.

“Got a spare chip?” she asked in a heavy London accent.

He pushed his food towards her, “I’m not sure how hot they are still”.

She grabbed a few fries between her fingers, dipped her head back and shoved them in her mouth.  “Don’t matter to me, chips go cold petty quick in London as well”.

Malcolm watched her with mild disgust, talking around a mouth full of chewed fries.

“Who’s this?” she asked, nodding at Trey who, he was a little proud to see, was glaring at her.

“Who’s that?” he countered at the young girl who had sat in the only other spare seat at their table.

“My kid” she replied, making no move to share her food, despite how keenly her daughter looked at it.

He narrowed his eyes at her, then shoved the basket of food over to the other child so she could have her fill.  She smiled up at him shyly, he ignored it.

Her mother sighed.  “Fine.  Do you have the money?”

Her tone suggested she was bored with the question, likely asking the same thing to every customer she delivered to all day, every day.

He used his foot to kick exactly the same Mandalorian backpack across to her, which she reached down to collect.  Once in her lap she opened the very top and stuck her hands into the gap to check the money was all present and correct.

Once done she left that one there and very carefully slid the backpack she had come with over to him.  He too picked it up, opened the very top and peered inside.

“Instructions?” he asked bluntly.

“Emailed to the address as you requested” she replied, closing the bag.

“Excellent” he looked at Trey, who knew the look and he picked up his basket of food and stood at the same time as Malcolm closed the bag and pulled it up onto his shoulder.

“The usual business terms apply” he looked at her daughter who was happily chewing away on a surprisingly large bite of hotdog.

He turned back to the woman.  “If I have received faulty goods I will be bringing them back in person and terminating the control with all those involved.  Am I clear?”.

She nodded, still looking bored.  “The boss will of course require proof that faulty goods were to blame.  We can’t be held responsible for the competence, or lack thereof, of the end user”.

Malcolm nodded firmly once, it was the standard deal and it was fair.  He looked at Trey and jerked his head towards the parking lot, the young man following him obediently as they headed back to their vehicle.

“Are you doing a job soon?” Trey asked as he walked next to his uncle.

“Yeah” he answered truthfully.

“You’ll come home, right?” he asked, worry clear in his voice.

Malcolm smiled down at the young man.  “I’ve seen the customers for this job, it’ll be smooth sailing”, his mind on the detective and his boyfriend, seeing very little threat to his plans.

 

*****

 

Magnus pulled up in the quiet street directly outside the address Lydia had text.  There was no sign of her car as yet so they waited for her arrival, Alec taking the opportunity to study the home and the neighbourhood.

They were individual plots, far enough away from their neighbours to be private but not so far they were secluded.  There was a generous front garden that was mostly all lawn, a paved pathway leading up to the raised front door and a driveway that led to a double garage. The raised front door had four steps leading up to it and the main house had a red brick chimney built onto the external wall.

The house itself was all red brick on the ground floor and white cladding on the first floor.  There was a small extension to the left, just a lower floor and a white dormer window in the roof of grey slate.  The double garage also had a dormer window in the pitch roof which led Alec to believe a room had been added there as well.

It looked nice, and he could see people moving around the ground floor through the windows.  He frowned to himself as there were no cars in the driveway and he was sure Lydia had said the property was empty, but then the partner they were meeting could have used the garage for his vehicle, so he brushed it aside.

“Alec?” Magnus said.

“Hum?” Alec turned back to him, realising he had likely said his name a number of times before finally using the rarely used shortened version that the rest of his loved ones did.

Magnus was holding his coffee out to him.  They’d used a drive-thru on the way and Magnus had consumed his practically immediately, grumbling something about the dreadful coffee at the court house but Alec had left his in the holder, not entirely convinced that he could stomach it yet.

“Please drink something?” he asked softly, his eyes worried.

Alec took it just as he heard a car and, glancing in the rear view mirror he saw a familiar saloon pull up gracefully behind them.

He popped the cup back in the holder with a sheepish smile to Magnus’ frown, then stepped out to meet Lydia who was also exiting her car.

“Delivered in style I see” she commented with a grin as she came closer.

Alec blushed, still not overly comfortable with Magnus’ wealth, particularly when he used it on Alec, whether directly or indirectly.

“It’s just a car” he pointed out.

“Hum” she nodded, sticking her hands in her pockets.  “But… what about the private plane though?” she teased.

“Jace” Alec practically growled.

Lydia laughed, “You don’t get detecting points for connecting the bloody obvious”.

“Who are we meeting?” he changed the subject quickly, reminding himself to dig out the picture of Jace when he got his braces stuck in the net curtain when he was 12 trying to ogle the next-door neighbours granddaughter.

“Tim Dearborn” she replied immediately.  “He’s looking in on the property because there was an appointment in Carlo’s diary, though he’d apparently only put initials”.

Alec frowned, “Why initials?”

She shrugged.  “Dearborn said it was unusual, normally appointments had the full details of the perspective buyer”.

“Well, it looks like they’re here already” he said, nodding at the movement they could see through one of the larger, ground floor windows.  “I’ll tell Magnus he can meet me at home, then we’ll go in”.

Alec sauntered back to the car and instead of opening the door he leaned in the window that Magnus had lowered.

“I heard” he said, “I’ll wait”.

The younger man looked at him in surprise, “I’ll need to go back to the precinct after this to write up the report and catch up on what happened this morning.  Lydia can take me”.

“No need darling” he argued, “I’m enjoying driving you around, brings back some found memories of how we first met… we could even stop at a diner later and get breakfast for dinner?”.

Alec gave a soft smile at one of his very favourite memories from when he and Magnus had spent the first evening together on the same day Magnus had come to work with them.

“Two cars is not environmentally friendly” he pointed out.

“You could always let Lydia go home from here…” he suggested, “that would be better for the environment and for her mental wellbeing”.

“Oh, right” he said sarcastically, “It’s her mental wellbeing that’s fuelling this urge to be my taxi?”.

Magnus sniffed indignantly, “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean Alexander” he said with his nose in the air.

“Humm” Alec gave him a knowing grin.  “I don’t know how long we’ll be” he warned.

Magnus pulled his cell out of his pocket, already flicking through his emails.  “I would wait for you forever my love” he said absentmindedly, not even looking at his boyfriend now.

Alec chuckled quietly at his boyfriend’s behaviour, knowing exactly what he was doing.

“Now bugger off” the older man finished then pressed the button to raise the window, still without look at him.

Alec stepped away, meeting Lydia on the sidewalk.

“He’s not leaving?” she asked as she peered in and waved back when Magnus glanced up from his cell to greet her.

“He suggests that you go home from here for an early finish and he’ll take me into the precinct so I can write up the report and catch up with Andrew and Maia”.

They started walking up the pathway to the door, the solar lights that lined the path’s boarder had started to glow in the early evening gloom.

“Not that I’m going to argue against the early finish but…” she peered up at Alec, “…is he going to start turning up to crime scene’s with caterers again?”.

Alec snorted, “Don’t worry, I don’t think we’re at that point yet” he reassured.

She sighed, “That’s a shame, the department put together a wish a list of desired cuisines.  I can send it to you just in case?”.

“Fuck off Branwell” he replied and she laughed.

By then they had reached the steps, Alec taking them two at a time and Lydia individually, stopping one step down from the lead detective as he rang the bell.

They waited quietly and it was a matter of seconds before the door swung inwards, revealing a well dressed young woman in a pink tailored bodycon dress and nude heels.  She was blonde, hair hanging down to her waist in curls, make up subtle but expertly applied and expensive jewellery hung from her ears, neck and wrists.

Her blue eyes flicked from Alec to Lydia and then to Magnus, sat in the Porsche at the end of the drive.  From her angle she couldn’t see Lydia’s police issue saloon which may have added to the mistaken identity.

“Well…” she drawled with a southern accent that Alec couldn’t quite place.  “…aren’t you the handsome pair”.

She stepped aside and waved the manicured hand that wasn’t gripping the door, to indicate that they should come in.

Alec looked over his shoulder at Lydia, a raise eyebrow but she shrugged again and they both headed into the house silently.

“I’m Agnes” the woman said, “As I’m sure you guessed.  Please come through…”.

Her smile was welcoming and she took them through into the lounge where there were three other young women and two young men, all dressed well though not as expensively as Agnes, and all sipping on flutes of champagne

When Alec and Lydia walked in they stopped their various conversations and turned bored faces to look at the newcomers, their expressions turning to mild interest as they looked them over.

“So, your deposit cleared which allows you to select from our couples bronze service” Agnes continued, holding a card out to Alec though he had no idea where she pulled it from.

Alec looked down at it, able to hide the look of shock on his face but not the blush that hit his cheeks.

“Prices here are for couples, though the bronze service only buys you one companion.  You can choose today who that is from my friends here…” her eyes flicked over Alec again, taking in his neck tattoo, “…or myself if it pleases?”.

Lydia spluttered and turned it into a cough, trying very hard not to smirk as Alec’s blush deepened.

He cleared his throat to help find his voice and looked up at what he realised now was the host.  “So, how many acts can we choose from the menu?”.

Agnes’ eyes sparkled, “Well, you have pre-paid for one from starters, main and desert.  That’s all covered in your deposit but you can pay separately today for anything extra you would like.  Other than an additional companion of course.  If you want to switch companion’s you’ll need to upgrade to the silver service, if you want more than one companion you’ll have to upgrade to the gold service”.

Alec looked at Lydia and they had a conversation with their eyes before they both started to unbutton their coats.

Agnes eyes widened with anticipation and a split second later with horror when Alec opened his coat to reveal his police shield hung around his neck.

“Fuck!” she exclaimed.

“I think you may have mistaken us for someone else” Alec explained.

Agnes tensed, looking ready to bolt and the others in the room looked about ready to follow so he put up both if his hands to show he meant no harm.

“Relax” he spoke kindly, Lydia following his lead.  “We’re not vice so not here for you.  In fact, we have no idea what is going on right now”.

Agnes’ eyes were still darting around the room, locking with her ‘colleagues’ who had started inching towards the doors at the back of the room.

“Look…” Alec said, dropping the menu on to the coffee table.  “We’re came here to meet with Carlos’ business partner, Tim Dearborn.  He said Carlos had a viewing booked here today so he needed to cover it…”.

“Why? Agnes asked, a frown on her face.

“Because Carlos was murdered Sunday morning, so Mr Dearborn is covering his appointments” Alec explained.

“Carlos is dead?” Agnes whispered in shock, the others in the room mimicking her in their own way, one even dropping her glass, the noise startling Alec somewhat.

His eyes flicked around the room and when they came back to the host he saw her hand had come up to cover her mouth and she was physically shaking.

He placed a hand gently on her elbow and guided her to the couch so she could sit then turned to Lydia.  “Can you grab some water from the kitchen?” he asked.

“I’ll help” one of the other women said, slapping the arm of the stocky brunette that was stood with her.

“Thank you…?” he said it as a question, looking at the pair.

“Susie” the strawberry blonde said as she passed.

“Rick” said the guy as he follow her.

Alec nodded, then perched on the coffee table in front of Agnes.  “Okay Agnes, what’s going on?”.

She looked at him with glassy eyes, clearly upset, but clamped her mouth shut.

Ales sighed.  “Look, I’m not interested in busting you.  I just need to know what’s going on and whether it’s got anything to do with his murder”.

Agnes looked at the other man, a blonde that was tall and slender.  Alec saw him nod to her and when she turned back she looked resigned.

“My brother and I have been escorts since we were 15…” she waved a hand towards the man who was already walking over to join them.  “…but we got sick of giving most of our earnings over to the business owners.  We were complaining about it over drinks after a particularly… degrading night.  We started talking about how great it would be if we could start up our own business and how we wanted it to be safe for our companions… he was sat at the next table, bought us a drink and by the end of the night the idea was ready to try out”.

“He suggested using the empty properties he was selling for you to use and he got a cut of the profits?” Alec clarified.

She nodded.  “A reasonable cut” she stressed.  “He was never greedy and he never took liberties, even made his brother pay every time he brought him on Friday night”.

Alec’s mind whirled as he started to connect things.  “And there was occasional damage to some of the properties…?”.

“Yeah” the man answered from where he had sat beside his sister.  “Avery” he said and stuck out his hand for Alec to shake.

Alec did, nodding to him at the same time as Lydia, Susie and Rick came back with enough glasses of water for everyone, except that several had gone for extra helpings of champagne instead.

“Anyone who might want to hurt him?” Alec asked.

Everyone looked at each other, shaking heads or shrugging until Agnes and Avery looked back to Alec.  “No one here” Agnes said.

“We’ve never been treated so well and been able to earn as much than when working with Carlos.  None of us had reason to hurt him.  I have no idea what we’re going to do now…”.

“I would strongly recommend not musing on that in front of us” Alec pointed out.

Avery shut his mouth with a click of teeth and nodded.

“What about your old employers?” he suggested, “They would have lost out on the money you would have earnt them?”.

Agnes shook her head, “We’ve been doing this for two years now.  If it was any of them they would have come for us a long time ago”.

Alec nodded.

“Have you encroached on anyone else’s turf?” Lydia asked.

Agnes shrugged, “No idea.  Maybe?  I don’t know how we would know that”.

Alec pondered on that for a moment and was jerked out of his thoughts by a new voice from the hallway.

“What the fuck is going on!” the man exclaimed loudly.

Chapter Text

Alec twisted at the waist to look at the newcomer and Lydia turned around, her hand instinctively going for the gun at her hip.

“Mr Dearborn?” Alec hazarded a guess.

He nodded, though he looked furious.  “What the fuck are you all doing in this house!?”.

Lydia dropped her arms and stepped towards him, making sure her badge was fully on display.  “Calm down Mr Dearborn…” she asked, “…I’m Detective Branwell, we spoke on the phone?...” she placed a hand on his elbow and led him into the kitchen, away from the group in the lounge, her voice trailing off as she got further away.

Alec turned back to Agnes and Avery.  “Okay, I need to know all the addresses that you have hosted from…”.

He trailed off as Avery gave a small laugh.

“You’re very polite considering what we do and what you do” he explained when Alec looked at him.

“I don’t judge” he explained, “I just want to catch whoever killed Carlos”.

Agnes looked at Avery briefly then back to Alec.  “So do we”.

Avery pulled his phone out.  “What’s your email?” he asked,

Alec pulled out one of cards from his pocket and handed it over, Avery taking it and then this thumbs started moving over his screen.

“Agnes…” Alec turned back to his sister as Avery worked, “…did Carlos have a girlfriend?”.

She nodded, “Yeah, he’d just met someone new.  He was pretty smitten by all accounts, couldn’t stop smiling”.

Alec contained his excitement.  “Did he tell you who she was?”.

Agnes shook her head.  “I got the feeling it had to be a big secret for some reason.  I know he met her through work, actual work I mean.  He was looking for a new property for her”.

The detective nodded, tucking that information away in order to ask Carlos’ partner later.  His phone pinged and he checked it, seeing an email from Avery with a spreadsheet attached.  Opening it he could see some very well organised records and he threw Avery an impressed look.

He shrugged, “I did Business and Economics before this took off”.

“Okay” Alec stood.  “I take it you have cars?”.

They all nodded and Agnes confirmed, “In the garage”.

“I need your names and contacts numbers just in case I need anything else.  I need you to be responsive, okay?” he said firmly, trusting them not to disappear.

Agnes nodded eagerly and then wavered her colleagues and brother towards the front door, intending on avoiding the kitchen entrance to the garage because of Dearborn.  She hung back for a moment, her own cell out in her hands, flying over the screen and Alec got another email.

Turns out this one as ‘employment’ files which include contact details and photographs of everyone that was on the premises.

This time Alec gave her a look.

She grinned, “I was doing HR” was her explanation with a one shoulder shrug.  “So…” she said, her tone suddenly teasing, “I know you’re a cop but… what’s the chance you might…”.

“That’s my boyfriend out there in the Porsche” he interrupted her.

She mouthed a silent ‘ah’, stepped away but then hesitated.  “Any chance you’re bi?”.

He shook his head, but smiled anyway.

She sighed wistfully, “Such a shame” and had she left it there everything would have been fine.  But she gave one last drag over his body with her blue eyes and it triggered something in the back of his mind.  Similar blue eyes, running up and down the length of his bare skin…

As she walked away he felt his stomach clench and he broke out into a cold sweat.  He reached for a glass of water and took some hesitant sips, closing his eyes and doing his utmost to picture Magnus.

Magnus in their kitchen cooking dinner; Magnus coming out of the shower, hair wet, just a towel wrapped around his hips; Magnus singing karaoke, badly, with Madzie in their lounge; Magnus making cocktails at the bar; Magnus on the balcony, sprawled on the sun lounger in nothing but skin tight swim shorts…

His stomach settle, his heart slowed and blue eyes were pushed away, replaced by warm, golden orbs.  He knew it had taken a while, and he knew that should worry him but he convinced himself if was because he’d had to see Sebastian this morning.  Once he had testified as the investigating officer he could put everything behind him and focus on the future.  Everything would be okay.

“Alec?” Lydia’s soft voice pulled him out of his reverie and he turned, forcing a smile on his face.

“Yeah, I’m coming” and he followed her into the kitchen where she had made a pot of coffee, three mugs set up on the island, Tim Dearborn sat on one stool looking dishevelled, stressed and upset as he leaned over the mug in front of him.

Alec and Lydia sat on stools on the opposite side and waited, Lydia picking up her mug to sip at it and Alec simply wrapping his hand around his for the warmth.

“He was really using the empty properties for hookers?” Tim asked as he raised his head to look at the two detectives.

“It appears so” Alec replied, though he prickled at the derogatory language.

“Shit” Tim raked a hand through his short, light brown hair.  “If this gets out… I can kiss goodbye to the business” he mumbled.

“We haven’t arrested the…” Alec started but was interrupted.

“Why the fuck not!” he exclaimed angrily, “What they are doing was illegal!”.

“If we arrest them, the press will be all over it” Alec pointed out, pulling the most sever face he had in his arsenal.

It had the desired affect, Tim paled and the fight went out of him.  “Of course, right.  Thank you”.

Alec didn’t tell him that he didn’t do it for him.

“What can you tell us about Carlos?” Alec asked.

“I sure as hell didn’t know about this!” he said defensively.

“I understand that…” Alec said, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache fast approaching.  “I mean, what can you tell us about him?”.

Knowing the police didn’t suspect him of being involved with the escort service he calmed down.  “Okay.  Well, ex-con brother.  He just broke up with his boyfriend, said he’d met someone new…” he looked at Alec again, “…I don’t know who though.  He never said, just talked about some woman…”.

“Yeah, we have it on good authority he was sourcing a new property for her.  We’re going to need your customer list so we can contact them” Alec started to turn the mug on the Island.

“Wh…” he looked between the two detectives.  “I can’t just hand over our customer list, that’s private information”.

Lydia sighed and pulled out her phone, sending an email to Maia and asking her to get a warrant for the customer list completed and over to Aline.

“We’ll get a warrant” Alec informed him politely, “That will protect you legally”.

“What about professionally! We have some single women but most are married… how’s it going to look to their husbands if your asking about their wives possibly screwing my dead business partner!”.

His panic was rising again and his pitch going up.

“Mr Dearborn” Alec spoke firmly, starting to feel dizzy with the constant mood changes the man before him was exhibiting.  “Please, we know how to be discreet.  We will ask any wives directly, keeping the husbands out of it completely”.

“Anything else?” Lydia asked as she put her phone away.

Tim shrugged.  “Not really.  He always seemed pretty vanilla… guess I suck at reading people”.

“How did you two meet?” Alec asked.

“This is a second career for both of us” he explained.  “We met at a residential business course that helped you find your true calling.  We both got real estate and didn’t have the start up money for our own businesses so we pooled our money and set up in partnership”.

“How long ago?” the detective asked.

“Seven years ago” he answered.

“And what we he doing before?” Alec probed.

Tim shrugged, “Some bog standard office job down town, charitable organisation or something”.

“What happened two years ago?  Maybe the business needed money?” he suggested.

Tim shook his head.  “We only ever wanted to make just enough to get by.  The housing market isn’t always stable but we’ve managed to stay in the black”.

“You did the accounts?” Alec narrowed his eyes, wondering if Tim knew what was going on.

But he nodded this time, “Yeah, Carlos was shit with records but good with the people.  We played to our strengths in the business.  I knew about every single penny going in and out of the business.  Whatever he was using the money for it wasn’t that”.

Lydia looked up suddenly.  “Where did he live?”.

Alec looked at her surprised, knowing she had executed the warrant on his home address that same morning.

“City of Glass” he replied, “He rented an apartment on the cheap from an old friend”.

Lydia nodded, but didn’t comment further.  Alec knew he would hear about it later so he didn’t ask for more while they were in front of a witness.

“Okay” he stood, abandoning his coffee untouched.  “That’s all we need for now…” he took another card out of his pocket and slid is across to the other man.  “If you do remember anything that might be relevant let us know and we’ll be in touch with the warrant for your customer list.  It might save a bit of time to get it ready”.

Tim picked up his card, looked at it then shoved it into his pocket, looking exceptionally miserable about the whole situation.  Alec felt some sympathy for the man whose life had imploded twice this week.

“Good evening Mr Dearborn” Lydia said as she slipped off her stool and joined Alec as they headed out of the house and back down the pathway.

“You want that early finish?” Alec said in all seriousness as they reached Magnus’ car.

“I’ll see you back at the precinct” she smiled at him, pulling her key from her coat pocket and heading for her car.

Alec jumped into the passenger seat as Magnus finished off a reply on his email.

“Did I just see a number of well dressed adult workers pilling into cars and dashing out of here a little panicked?” he asked without looking away from his cell.

“You certainly did” Alec confirmed as he pulled his seatbelt around him.

“And the lack of handcuffs was all your doing I would presume?” he dropped his phone into his pocket and took hold of the steering wheel while starting the car and throwing Alec a knowing smirk.

“They were very… helpful in regards to our enquiries” he teased.

“I would imagine they were, being ‘helpful’ is part of their job description” he grinned and winked before putting the car into drive and pulling away.

“Tim Dearborn wasn’t impressed” Alec added.  “He had no idea it was a service their business was offering”.

 

*****

 

“Okay!” Jordan exclaimed as he sat back in the chair and watched commands scrawl through on the computer, both his hands up, palms out as though he was being held hostage.

Which, considering how much Simon’s computer seemed to hate him, he technically was.

“Don’t break it again” Simon sighed in exasperation.  “I can’t keep sneaking out of the seminars to fix what you mess up”.

“Why is your computer so fucking sensitive dude?” he complained.

“It’s not sensitive, you just need to treat her right…” he froze mid sentence, realising what he had said.

“Her?” Jordan’s grin spread wide across his face.  “Your computer is a girl?”.

“Yes…” he relented, “my computer is female”.

He snorted, “Why?”.

“Because I built it myself and it’s bad ass… of course it’s a girl.  Have you met my wife?” he pointed out.

Jordan seemed to think that over for a moment the nodded to himself, “And Maia…”.

“Mrs Lightwood…” Simon added.

“Oooh, Lydia” Jordan couldn’t believe he’s forgotten her.

“Cat…”

“Who’s Cat?” Jordan frowned.

“She’s Magnus friend” he explained, knowing they had met on several occasions now.

“Nope, not ringing a bell”.

“Surgeon, saved Alec like… twice now” Simon carried on describing her.

“Oh yeah.  Fuck, she definitely makes the list”.

“Aline and Helen” Simon carried on.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be making a list?” Jordan suggested.

“You’re probably right…” Simon agreed.

There was a pause for a moment, then…

“So what’s your computer called?” Jordan asked and Simon promptly hung up.

Jordan sniggered to himself and stood up, moving away from the computer to let it reboot and get coffee from the small kitchen in the corner of the forensics lab.

He’d just made himself a satisfactory latte from a packet mix and taken a sip when Andrew appeared in the doorway.

“Hey” he greeted the blonde.

Andrew nodded, a curl falling over his eye and he pushed it back quickly.  “Any chance of our forensics?”.

Jordan headed towards him and Andrew stepped aside so he could leave the kitchen and head to his own computer.

“Okay, so all the photo’s from the apartment have been uploaded and I’ve accessed everything on his phone.  It looks pretty standard but the work files are all password protected and I’d need a separate warrant to get them as there’s a business partner.  The bullet is being run through the database but I warn you, it sustained damage when it embedded in the frame of the car”.

Andrew nodded, taking notes in his book.  “Alec and Lydia are on their way back and we’re going to do an info dump session to see what we have so far, I’ll bring it up”.

“Cool” he headed back over to Simon’s computer which was finally ready to go and, after a few clicks (executed extremely respectfully), Jordan was able to open the results from the swabs taken by the M.E.

“So, there was lipstick on the penis which we have identified as a particular brand…” he scrolled through the report.  “Tom Ford Soleil Neige Lip Balm Paradiso.  But, no saliva present”.

“Anything else?” Andrew asked.

“I’ll send up the whole report, including the clothes and the car but there’s nothing out of the ordinary as far as I can see”, he looked at Andrew.  “But I’m not a cop.  I will say, there was no ejaculate anywhere, not in the car, nor on the clothes…”.

Andrew nodded, “Put that with no saliva it’s likely been done to throw us off”.

“Sorry I can’t be much more help” Jordan said with feeling.

“You still might have” Andrew slapped him on the shoulder.  “Email it all up to the team.  Thanks Jordan”.

“Do I still need to also print it all for Captain Garroway?” Jordan called after the blonde and took the hand wave he got as the other man walked out as an affirmative.

“Jesus” he grumbled to himself.  “Join the 21st Century!”.

 

*****

 

They arrived back at the precinct within minutes of one another, all three piling into the elevator, a, little nervous that a brand new, still packaged, smart screen seemed to be traveling up and down aimlessly and unattended in the carriage.

“That’s going to get pinched” Magnus commented, his eyes on his phone as he lent one shoulder against the wall of the elevator.

Lydia have him an incredulous look, “We’re in a police station” she pointed out.

He shrugged without looking up.  “My point still stands”.

“How would they even…” she took a breath.  “You know what, never mind”.

Alec simply smiled fondly at his boyfriend.

“Oh!” Magnus suddenly said, then the pattern his thumbs were making on his cell changed.  “I completely forgot darling.  A car arrived, took one look at me and scarpered pretty quick while you were inside the house…”.  Alec’s phone dinged, “I took a picture”.

Alec withdrew his phone and opened the picture Magnus had just sent him to see a modern Ford, no more than a few years old, licence plate on full display and a couple in the front seats.

“Thanks” he said, “I have a feeling this is who we were mistaken for.  Maia and Andrew can follow up with them tomorrow and see what they have to say”.

The elevator slowed to a stop and Alec took a quick second to plant a kiss to Magnus’ temple, the older man smiling down at his phone, before they all filtered out into the hallway.

Turning left they went straight for their office, only to spot Woolsey and Jace heading to their office from the other end of the floor.

“Alec!” Jace called out, looking a mix of worried and angry.  “What the fuck, I’ve been trying to call you all afternoon!”.

Alec blinked at him, then checked his phone which was still in his hand, actually paying attention to his notifications to see he did indeed have many, many missed calls and messages from both Jace and Izzy.

“Shit” he mumbled, “Sorry Jace… we went straight to interview a witness, it turned into a whole thing…”.

Jace looked at Woolsey, “Can I speak with my brother for a…”.

Woolsey smiled a million watt smile, Alec decided he hated it, and nodded.  “Of course, take your time and we’ll catch up before you leave for the evening”.

Alec opened their office with his key card and found it was empty so he held the door for Jace to come in after him.  When he closed it, a split second after he turned around, he found himself enveloped in a tight hug, a mop of blonde hair tickling his nose.

“Jace…” his voice was strained as Jace squeezed him.  “…I’m fine”.

He let him go then punched his shoulder, “That was from Izzy”.

The younger brother walked over to the desk, tugging his phone out of his pocket and placing a video call that was instantly answered by Izzy.

“Did you find him!” she demanded immediately.

“Yeah” Jace replied, “he just got back to the precinct”.  

Jace propped the phone up against a coffee mug that was half full of dark brown sludge so that she could see the two of them as they took seats at the table.  At the same time they could see her propping her phone up against something in Magnus’ kitchen so she had her hands free to feed Laila.

“You were supposed to answer the phone Alec” she scolded him, trying to coax Laila into taking the bottle.

“I’m sorry, we went straight to interview a witness and… well let’s just say it wasn’t straight forward and I lost track of time”.

She peered at her phone, clearly studying his appearance.  “You look terrible.  You’re too pale, you have dark circles under your eyes and your lips are chapped, have you had anything to eat today?”.

Alec pinched his nose again, his headache returning with a vengeance.  “Izzy…”.

“Have you?” she said again firmly.

“I had a sandwich at lunch” he informed her.

“You had a bite of a sandwich at lunch” she corrected, “Mom answers her phone” she explained when she saw the look on his face.

“I’m just not hungry today… I’ll have some dinner later.  Magnus and I will bring something home, okay?” he tried to placate her.

“And what about drink?” she ignored his suggestion entirely.

Alec looked at Jace, “Are you gonna say anything?”.

Jace had sat back in his seat, one ankle resting on the other leg’s knee and his arms cross over his chest, not looking even remotely sympathetic.

“Nope, you brought it on yourself buddy”.

Alec took a deep, what he hoped was, calming breath.  “I will have a coffee right now”.

“And then you’re coming home, right?” she asked.

“No” he replied, “I have an info dump to run”.

“You have an hour then I’m calling Magnus” she snapped.  “Jace…” he jolted to attention.  “Make sure he drinks something”.

“Will do” and she hung up.

Jace left his phone there for a moment and made his way over to the coffee machine.  “I know she didn’t ask, but how did it go?”.

Alec watched as he poured them both a coffee.  “It was… weird”.

Jace looked over his shoulder while he grabbed blindly for sugar packets, “What do you mean?”.

“I did my part…” he explained.  “I answered all of Ragnor’s questions and then Pangborn was going to start the cross but Sebastian stopped him”.

Jace finished tipping four sugar packets into his own coffee and was then pouring in creamer.  “He what?”.

Alec shrugged as his brother walked back towards him.  “Put his hand on Pangborn’s arm and told him if he cross examined me he’d be fired.  Pangborn announced he didn’t have any questions and sat down”.

Jace put Alec’s mug in front of him and nodded at it firmly, his body language saying ‘drink’ so Alec did, taking a gulp of the hot, black coffee.

“Yeah…” Jace took some steps backwards and leaned with his back against the wall next to the door, crossing one ankle over the other.  “That is very weird”.

“It was like…” Alec sighed and pushed his coffee away a little.  “It was like he didn’t want to upset me”.

“It’s the least he can do” Jace mumbled.  “Forget about it, you’re never going to understand how his mind works…” he shivered, “who’d want to even try and understand”.

“It’s going to bother me” he admitted.

“You want to go and ask him?” he challenged.

“No” Alec spoke firmly and quickly.  He’d faced Valentine earlier in the year, he had no desire for a repeat performance with Sebastian.  “No, I really don’t”.

“So let it go” Jace spoke softer this time, with some understanding.  “It was likely a final attempt to fuck with you.  I don’t know why he’s even bothering, there’s no way he escapes all of the charges”.

“I know” he agreed.

“He’s going to prison regardless, just a matter of how long for”.  Jace stretched his neck and rolled his shoulders.  “How was Max?  Mom said he was okay but I figure she’ll tell us anything so we don’t worry”.

“I couldn’t be in there because I hadn’t testified yet.  But mom and Ragnor said he did a great job, even sassed Pangborn…” he grinned when Jace laughed, “…I’d have paid money to see that”.

“There has got to have been press in there, maybe they’ll report it word for word and we can read about it tomorrow…” he trailed off as he saw the look on Alec’s face sour.  “What?”.

“Camille was there” he said.

Jace frowned in confusion.  “She was supposed to be there, wasn’t she testifying in the afternoon?”.

Alec nodded, “Turns out though, she has a new job with a reasonably reputable publication.  She’s writing her own perspective about the case, a colleague was there with her for any of the session’s she can’t sit in on”.

“You have got to be kidding me” he said in disbelief.  “Any normal person would want to testify and put it behind them”.

“I think we can agree she is not a ‘normal’ person…”.

“No, she’s a blood sucking… leech” his brother grumbled before swigging his coffee.

“Jace” Alec mock scolded, “That’s unfair.  Leeches are useful members of society, they’re being used in medicine again for blood thinning”.

Jace snorted, his lips still on his coffee mug, spluttering the drink over the edge and onto the floor.

“Hey!” Alec continued the light banter, “Go wreck your own carpet, this is brand new!”.

They took a moment to laugh together, away from some of the pressures surrounding their lives.  Alec sometimes wondered how they were able to enjoy moments with the jobs they did, but he knew if they didn’t they really wouldn’t be able to cope.

That thought brought a pretty red head to mind and he looked at Jace.  “Isn’t Clary testifying on Friday?” he asked.

Jace nodded, “I took the day off so I could be there, Jocelyn will be there as well” he advised as he turned and gazed out the window in the door, watching Lydia, Woolsey and Magnus interact.

Magnus said something he couldn’t hear and Woolsey laughed, placing a hand on his arm and stroking it down lightly.  It was brief, but Jace narrowed his eyes.

“What’s the deal with Woolsey putting his hands on Magnus?” he asked.

Alec took a second to register what Jace had said before he felt a wave of anger, “He fucking what…” and he surged to his feet.

Before he had even straightened up his head swam, spots of white appeared in front of his eyes, spreading until he couldn’t see anything else.  By the time he hit the floor he was already unconscious, only vaguely aware of someone shouting his name but they sounded very, very far away.

Chapter Text

When Alec had fallen it had been on his side, one arm trapped beneath him while the other laid limply, elbow bent, palm on the floor.  His lower leg was straight, the upper bent slightly at the knee and it really did look as though he had fallen asleep on the office floor.

Jace had flung his mug aside and tried to catch his brother, who was actually falling face first, and it was his failed attempt that had put the twist in his fall so he landed as he did.  Jace took it as a win.

He landed heavily on his knees beside his sibling, a hand on his shoulder and shook his gently.  “Alec?”, his voice sounded panicked even to him.

At the same time he was banging on the door with his other hand, just about able to reach and finally it opened.

“What… shit, Alec!” he heard Lydia exclaim, “Magnus…”.

In a blur of movement Jace felt more than saw, Magnus had stepped over Alec and crouch in front of his chest, aligning his head with his boyfriends.

“Get Luke” Jace ordered Lydia who dashed off without argument.

“Alec?” Magnus said softly, checking his pulse and breathing immediately he was satisfied that it was likely a fainting from lack of food and drink.  He pushed his anger at himself away, he should have monitored him more closely, forced him to eat and drink more, but now wasn’t the time.

“Magnus?” Woolsey asked, “Can I help?”.

Magnus shook his head, but didn’t look at his old friend.

“Jace…” he said, “Help me roll him gently onto his back and we need to raise his feet”.

“Is he okay?” Jace asked as he did what Magnus had instructed, not finding it easy to manoeuvre Alec as a deadweight, his limbs were a ridiculous length and solid muscle.

“I think he will be…” Magnus turned Alec’s head, then checked it for any obvious bumps.  He heard shuffling and glanced towards Alec’s feet to see Jace had taken his jacket off and was rolling it up, then placing it gently under the unconscious man’s heels.

Magnus turned his attention back to Alec’s face, gently combing his hair back with his fingers and watching his eyelids for signs of waking.

“Come on love…” he whispered, “…come back to me”.

There were footsteps again and Luke appeared in the doorway, pausing for a moment, then stepping in carefully to crouch at the top of Alec’s head.

“What happened?” Luke asked, cell in hand and looking ready to call an ambulance.

“He stood up too quick…” Jace’s eyes flicked to Woolsey then to Magnus, who didn’t miss the look, “… and just keeled over”.

“He’s barely eaten all day” Magnus muttered, “I don’t think he’s had a lot to drink as well”.

“Maybe he should go to the hospital?”  Woolsey suggested, “He doesn’t seem like a fainter”.

“He’ll be fine” Magnus defended, his eyes still on Alec’s face which was regaining colour, a slight blush across his cheeks and his eyelids began to flutter.

“Alec?” he murmured, leaning close to the younger man.  “Wake up darling”.

Alec took in a deep breath through his nose, stretching his neck like he did each morning when he woke and then finally blinking his eyes open, squinting under the harsh lights of the office.

“Hey” Magnus spoke softly, cupping his cheek, running his thumb over the soft skin beneath one eye.

“Magnus?” Alec crocked with obvious confusion as he started to try and get up.

“No…” a deep voice said from above his head, two hands pressing gently down on his shoulders.

Alec tipped his chin up, his eyes rolling in the same direction as panic settled in at the restraint but it dissipated quickly when he saw Luke’s kind brown eyes staring down at him, full of concern.

He relaxed back against the floor and chose to look back at Magnus instead.

“Just lay still for a moment darling” Magnus’ hand slid down his cheek, over his neck and onto his chest where he let it rest, warmth seeping through Alec’s thin shirt and onto his skin.  He found it both comforting and grounding, suddenly realising he was dizzy.

“You got up too quick” Jace explained from his right and Alec turned to him, seeing his jacket was off and then feeing his feet had been propped up.

“Did I faint?” he said incredulously, a tinge of pink across his cheeks and Magnus guessed it was embarrassment.

“We could say you collapsed from an over whelming surge of testosterone?” Magnus suggested cheekily.

Alec rolled his eyes and held out his hand, “Help me up?”.

Magnus had smiled as soon as he saw the eye roll, it was a gesture that was just so very ‘Alec’ that he was clearly back in the right headspace, at least for the moment.  So he did as he was asked, taking hold of Alec’s hands and, as Luke let him go, rising from the floor at the same time, though with 10 times the elegance that Alec did.

Alec, in fact waivered a little once he was upright, but Magnus place a hand on the small of his back and one on his belly to help his find his balance.

“Okay?” He asked worriedly when Alec finally seemed able to hold himself straight.

The younger man nodded, “Yeah, thanks”.

“Good” his face morphed quickly into something sterner.  “Now sit down and blondie here is going to make himself useful and fetch you some orange juice from the kitchen and his cookies which I know full well he has hidden away on this floor somewhere…” he gave Jace a firm stare until realisation dawned over his face and he jumped up and dashed off.

“…and you’re going to sit there, drink the juice and eat the cookies” Magnus finished, watching as Alec sunk down into the chair.

“Magnus…”

The older man held up his hand, silencing Alec immediately.  “That’s option one.  Option two is a trip to the hospital.  Your choice”.

Alec stared at his boyfriend for a moment, stood with his hands on his hips, an annoyed furrow in his brow and his lips pursed so hard there was a thin line in place of his normal plump, cupids bow.

“Orange juice and cookies” he mumbled, avoiding Lydia and Luke as he knew he’d get no support from them. 

Magnus nodded in satisfaction and finally took his eyes off his boyfriend to notice that Woolsey had been watching the scene before him quite closely.

“Apologies Woolsey, perhaps we could catch up another time…”.

“Of course” he said quickly, a look of concern in his own eyes.  “You know… maybe he should see a doctor…?”.

“His sister is a doctor” Magnus replied, “She’s staying with us for a short time…” he turned back to Alec who was watching their interaction with interest.  “I’m sure she’ll check you over”.

He nodded slowly.

Woolsey’s green eyes moved between the two men then nodded.  “Another time Magnus” and he turned, heading back to his own office.

Magnus turned back to Alec and then sat down next to him.  “You didn’t eat or drink enough today darling.  It’s my fault, I should have kept a better eye on you…”.

“It’s not your fault Magnus” he argued, “I wasn’t paying attention…”.

“You two can argue about it later” Luke pipped up, “Although I will point out that Alec is an adult”.

Both Magnus and Alec glared in his direction and he had to force down the smile that threatened to annoy them even more.

“Here!” Jace burst back into the room proudly clutching a glass, a carton of orange juice and two-thirds of a packet of cookies then placed the in front of Alec.

“Oh good lad blondie!” Magnus smiled, “You get more and more like a golden retriever every day”.

This time it was Magnus’ turn to receive the glare.

“Eat, drink and then home” Luke said as he also took a seat at the table, choosing a position next to Magnus so Jace could sit beside Alec.

Lydia busied herself with the coffee machine, well aware they were still waiting for both Andrew and Maia to get back.

Alec picked up a cookie and started to nibble at it unenthusiastically.  “We can’t go home yet…” he said between bites.  “We have to do an information dump…”.

Magnus slapped a hand on the table, making everyone jump.

“I’ll do that with the team Alec” Luke advised, “And I’ll cover for you tomorrow, you’re not coming in”.

Alec looked to argue the point but then heard Magnus’ nails tapping on the table as he drummed his fingers, something he did when he was frustrated.

Alec was dedicated to his job.  He felt a sense of responsibility when someone lost their life and a desire to hunt down the person responsible.  He put it before everything, including his own health as the last few days had demonstrated.  But the last few days had also put a strain on Magnus, a man who loved him and put his first at all times.  He couldn’t, and wouldn’t put his job before his boyfriend’s health and it took this moment to realise that, right now he was hurting Magnus too.

“Okay” he said quietly and Magnus blinked at him in surprise, expecting a longer and lounder argument.  “I’ll eat some of these, have a glass of orange juice and then… we’ll go home”.

Magnus slid the hand that he had been drumming with across the table and placed it over Alec’s free one, squeezing it softly.

“Thank you” he whispered and when he drew his hand back he grabbed the carton of juice and poured a full glass.

“While I am in full support of Alec getting out of here as soon as possible…” Lydia said as she started placing coffee’s in front of people, mumbling a ‘don’t get used to it’ under her breath to Jace.  “…we do need him to feed back on his interview with the… service providers we found in the home while I was calming Mr Dearborn down”.

Luke raised his eyebrows and lent forward.  “Service providers?”.

Alec took a swig of juice and licked his lips.   “It appears Carlos had a side gig.  He was allowing a group of sex workers the use of his empty properties for a cut of the profits.  A reasonable cut, they were very careful to point that out”.

“Seriously?” came Andrew’s voice from the doorway.

All faces turned his way as he walked in and sat down.

“Yeah…” Alec watched Lydia head back to the coffee machine.  “It appears that he was also taking his brother to their location every Friday”.

Andrew immediately linked it to the brothers suspicious behaviour when he and Maia had interviewed him.  “Could they have something to do…”.

He drifted off as Alec was already shaking his head.  “I don’t think so, they were genuinely upset to hear he was dead.  And he treated them with respect, gave them good homes to use, never took more than agreed and even made his brother pay for their… services”.

A soft smile touched Magnus’ lips at Alec’s conscious attempt to talk about their work respectfully.

“The death seemed to have a sexual nature to it” Luke said, “Maybe not them but someone else in the industry…?”

“Ah” Andrew spoke up.  “I just spoke to Jordan.  While there was lipstick on his penis, there was no saliva.  There was also no trace of ejaculate in the car nor on his clothes or person.  Most likely conclusion is it was made to look like a sex crime…”

“But an execution is actually a closer explanation” Alec finished, musing as he nibbled on, by Magnus’ count, his third cookie.

“Why does it feel like we have more information but we know less?” Lydia asked.

“How did the apartment search go?” Alec asked, unable to help himself.

“Uh ah” Magnus held up a finger, “Do not answer that Lydia.  Alec is going to finished his report and then we are going.  No other questions, no further discussion, he can catch up on Friday”.

Alec rolled his eyes, but he had promised.  He took another large gulp of the juice and carried on.  “He emailed me the addresses of all the homes they used for their business, you’ll need to speak with the previous and current owner just in case one of them found out and took extreme exception.  We’ve seen people killed for less”.

The door opened and Maia arrived, arms full of bags of food.  “Hey Alec!” she immediately greeted her boss and friend.  “How…” that was as far as she got before she read the room.  “Okay” she drew the word out slowly and then moved across the room to the other side of the table and started unpacking the dinner order she had collected.

“I asked if they knew about a girlfriend, Agnes said he’d just met someone new but didn’t want to talk about it, she felt it was a secret for some reason.  But she did say he was sourcing a new property for her, we asked Dearborn for a customer list but he refused without a warrant…” he looked at Maia.

She nodded enthusiastically, “Request written and over to Aline.  She’s going to have it to us tomorrow”.

“Thanks” he smiled warmly, quickly realising she as efficient and dedicated as Lydia had told him.

“I have contact details for the individuals who were there.  But it’s as witnesses in case we need to contact them again, they’re not under arrest…” he eyed Luke, trying to judge his reaction at Alec’s decision which was outside of procedure.

Luke simply looked back at him calmly and Alec knew that was him accepting his choice.

“So let’s keep that part quiet, Vice don’t need to hear about them”.

There were various indications of agreement from around the table, even from Jace who technically didn’t even need to be here.  Magnus studied the blonde, who hadn’t yet taken his intense gaze off of his brother, as he in turn studied his brother, looking at every movement of his face, both deliberate and unconscious.  Magnus felt a stab of sympathy as he remembered how close the two were, what Alec had been through Jace had too, but as a spectator with very little power.  Moments like this were likely an unwelcome reminder of some dark times for the young man.  Watching someone you loved teeter on the edge of death was incredibly traumatic, even if they did survive.

Alec took out his phone as he finished talking and forwarded the two emails from Agnes and Avery to Lydia for her to work through, as well as the photo of the customer’s vehicle that Magnus had captured while he was outside.

“You’ll also need to speak with the customers he was working on locating properties for” Alec said as he looked up again.  “Try to be discreet and speak with them separately.  Everyone has said ‘girlfriend’ but if it was a secret, and we know Carlos is bi, he could have been seeing a new man but telling people it was a woman for extra protection”.

Alec trailed off again, finishing off his juice.

“Is that everything darling?” Magnus asked pointedly.

The younger man nodded, “Yeah.  That’s when they left and I joined Lydia to speak with Dearborn so she knows the rest”.

“Excellent” Magnus stood, “Then we’ll go home”.

Alec suppressed a sigh, the report he had given had set a fire inside his chest and he wanted to stay for the rest of the meeting.  But he had made Magnus a promise and he would not break it.

So he stood, surprised that he did actually feel better from the snack he had eaten and drunk, but hesitated, “And someone needs to follow up on the customer’s that arrived and the scene…” Magnus took his hand and started to lead him to the door as Alec kept talking. 

“It’s probably worth still going to the Devils Tavern on Friday just in case…” his voice grew louder as Magnus got him just across the threshold. “but be careful, if you need me call…”.

“Luke!” Magnus finished for him as he tugged him away from the door, letting it swing closed, and down the corridor to the elevator.

Magnus didn’t look at his boyfriend again until they were waiting for the elevator to arrive, not wanting to see the anger that he thought would be there.  But when he did he saw a soft fondness on his face.

“Thank you” he said simply.

“Well…” the older man replied somewhat cheekily.  “We both know you weren’t going to step away willingly once you got started”.

Alec flash him a tired grin and them turned as the elevator arrived and the doors slid open.

They were faced with a very confused looking workman who was rubbing the back of his head and staring at the spot where the smart screen had been propped against the wall.

He looked up at them as they paused in the doorway.  “Either of you seen a smart screen?” he asked.

Magnus smirked, “Called it” he told Alec, his eyes on the same empty space as the workman had been looking at.

“That you did” Alec agreed with a heavy sigh and they both stepped all the way in, letting the doors close behind them.

 

*****

 

Jace watched after his brother as Magnus had pulled him from the room, knowing it was best that he left and got some rest, but it didn’t stop him worrying.

“Jace?” Luke’s voice was gentle and understanding.  “I can talk to Woolsey, we can get you some time..”

He was already shaking his head.  “I’m good” he said, “I have Friday anyway…”.

“That’s to support Clary, it’s not going to be restful day” his surrogate father pointed out.

Jace gave his trademark grin, “You know me, I bounce back quick”.

“I do know you…” Luke’s eyes were piercing and he didn’t need to finish the sentence for Jace to hear the ‘so don’t try and fool me son’.

He gave Luke a firm nod, communicating that he understood and would come to him if he needed to.

“Does anyone know how it went this morning?” Andrew finally asked the question that they all had wanted to.

Luke looked at Jace again, “I only know what Maryse told me…”.

Jace shrugged, “He went through the testimony of what happened on both attacks.  He said that Sebastian had refused to let his attorney cross examine Alec…”

“Seriously?” Maia frowned as she started opening cartons of Chinese dishes.

Jace nodded and Luke did at the same time, confirming Maryse had told him the same thing. 

“I’m not sure why, but Alec can’t stop wondering about it… I don’t want him to do something stupid”.

“Like what?” Andrew asked him.

“Like try and talk to Sebastian when the trial is over” Jace suggested.

“You think he will?”  Maia started having out cardboard plates and the chopsticks that had come with the order.

Jace shrugged, “Alec says not but we all know what he gets like when something nags at him”.

“Makes him a good detective” Andrew pointed out.

“And shit at looking after himself” Lydia muttered, “It was no different when he was in the service”.

“Okay” Luke said in an authoritative tone.  “That we keep an eye on, let Magnus know what he said too…”

Jace looked uncomfortable.

“What?” Luke asked.

“It feels like he told me that in confidence” Jace pointed out.

“Normally I’d agree with you Jace, and you’d be the best person to keep an eye out.  But Magnus spends more time with him now than you, he’s more likely to know if that thought is crossing his mind” Luke explained, trying to be as kind as possible.

Jace’s face pinched though he couldn’t deny it.  What with Alec moving in with Magnus and he moving in with Clary, they were trying to find a new rhythm to their relationship but with one being stoic and stubborn and the other cocky and guarded, it was slow going.

He finally nodded, though stiffly, then went for a change of subject.  “They ran into Camille…”.

Everyone, in various stages of eating or selecting their food groaned.

“Apparently she’s working for a new publication and is writing a piece from the first person perspective about the case.  She asked Alec for an interview…”.

Lydia chocked on her orange chicken.

Luke just stared in disbelief.

Andrew and Maia shared a look.

“Yeah…” Jace said, “…that’s what I thought too”.

“How did Max fair?” Lydia asked, handing Luke the Sichuan pork.

“Oh as you’d expect” he replied, using his chopsticks to dish out a serving then passing it on Andrew.  “He answered what he was asked and sassed Pangborn.  It was tough, he was a little shaken but it’s done.  We just need to keep an eye on him”.

“He’s a tough kid” Lydia added, admiration clear in her voice.

Luke chuckled, “They all are” and he threw a pointed look at Jace, pride clear in his eyes at the children he had taken as his own.

Jace afforded him a soft smile.

“Okay, back to the case” Luke brought them back on track.

“Right” Lydia dropped a dumpling onto her plate and then looked at Andrew.  “Forensics?”.

“The only other things than what I already said was his phone had a lot of contacts.  The only ones we recognise is the brother and the business partner.  There are work files but they are password protected and because there is a business partner we need a warrant to access them, Jordan is working on it.  He’s also running the bullet through the database, but there was some damage to the surface”.

“When we get the customer list we should be able to see which of the other contacts are customers and which we need to follow up with separately” Luke said.  “Maia, you asked for the warrant on the customer list, do you want to take that?”.

She nodded, making herself a note in her pad.

“Lydia, how was the apartment search?”.

“Weird” she answered around half a dumpling, then swallowed and carried on.  “It wasn’t empty but it looked barely lived in”.

Luke frowned, “What do you mean?”.

“Maia found utensils and other equipment in the kitchen but it looked unused.  I found nothing personal in the lounge.  There was furniture and electronics, but… no books, DVDs, ornaments, pictures…” she explained.  “And Andrew found toiletries in the bathroom, medicine in the cupboard, clothes in the closets and drawers… but it all looked unused”.

Luke was nodding as she explained, “Neighbourhood sweep?” he asked.

Lydia shook her head.  “Nothing out of the ordinary”.

Lydia’s phone went off and she picked it up from the table, opened the text and rolled her eyes.

“What?” Andrew asked.

“It’s Alec” she shook her head in exasperation of her friends inability to rest.  “He wants us to get a list of the visitors to the apartment going back at least 6 months…” she smiled in amusement at the end of the message.  “Then there are a load of random letters.  I get the feeling Alec has had his phone confiscated”.

Luke snorted in amusement, he could actually see that interaction clear in his mind.  He could even imagine Magnus throwing his phone out of a moving vehicle if it hadn’t been a police issue one.

“We’ll need a warrant for that…” Luke said.

“I’ll do that” Maia piped up quickly, adding it to her list.

“Right, thanks Maia” he looked at Lydia.  “You and Andrew can ring round the old and new owners of the properties used for extra curricular activities.  Then, when we get the customer list we’ll separate it out, go in pairs and start working our way around them”.

Lydia and Andrew nodded.

Jace had been silent through the whole exchange, his mind elsewhere and, with the division of work complete, Luke turned his attention back to him.

“While we’re here, how about an update on your doctor?” he asked.

Jace jumped a little at suddenly being addressed, his eyes refocusing on Luke from where he had been staring into the middle distance.

“Right” he cleared his throat.  “Colleagues all said the same thing, quiet and a bit aloof.  He didn’t attend any of the social events and wasn’t interested in forwarding his career.  They all said he just wanted to be the best ER doctor he could be, was particularly good with kids and teens as well as the patients that had trouble with alcohol and drugs… makes sense why he was found in the illegal clinic”.

“Sounds like he tried to do a lot of good” Luke commented.

Jace nodded.  “The parents were travelling abroad when it happened, they arrive back tomorrow so that’s the next step”.

“Keep Raj and Aldetree in the office will you?”.

Jace smiled and this time it was genuine and unhindered, all teeth and sparkling eyes, “I’ll pass your suggestion on to Scott” he promised.

“Thanks Jace” he said as a way of dismissal, letting him escape back to his own room which the young man did with a casually waved goodbye to everyone else.

Luke also stood, “Have your dinner, reports filed and then go home” he told the team before leaving for the stacks of work in his own  office, taking his plate of food with him.

Chapter Text

Magnus used his key fob to open the door to their loft, but instead of stepping straight in he moved to the side, guiding Alec in ahead of him, them making sure the door was secured behind them, immediately noting that Izzy must be putting Laila down for the night as the apartment was empty of noise and the alarm wasn’t set.

When he looked up Alec was already wandering down the hallway in the direction of their bedroom, his whole posture was screaming exhaustion.

“Alec?” Magnus called softly after him, making him stop but not turn around.  “You should eat darling, you haven’t had much still”.

Alec turned his head to the side so he could see Magnus out of the corner of his eye.  “I’m too tired Magnus, I just want to sleep”.

Normally those words would have been music to Magnus’ ears but right now he was more concerned about his lack of food, especially considering what had happened earlier.

“I know love” he replied, taking a step towards him.  “Maybe just some soup, I’ll make you a mug and you could drink it before you go to sleep?”.

Alec hesitated, the hand that Magnus could see was fidgeting with the hem of his suit jacket. 

“Please?” he asked again, “for me?”.

The younger man sighed, but it was with affection rather than annoyance.  “Okay”.

Magnus felt some of his own tension slip away and he smiled, “Okay.  You go get changed and I’ll bring it into you”.

Magnus watched him go, his heart breaking at how his normally confident boyfriend moved, it was as though he barely had the strength to lift his feet.  He waited until he was around the corner and out of sight before he headed for the kitchen.  Once there, he went straight to the freezer and picked out one of the soups he had made a while ago and had frozen for this specific reason. 

As the owner of his own businesses he had a great deal of flexibility in the hours he worked, and it meant he had been able to ensure he had a regular afternoon coffee date every Wednesday with Maryse at her bookstore.  They had a built a close relationship and, though he was careful not to betray Alec’s trust in him, he had asked Maryse for advice in caring for her eldest son when symptoms of stress had started to show.

Maryse had told him that Alec, when stressed, frightened or unwell, lost his appetite, sometimes for days.  He would become weak, suffer dizzy spells and lose weight fast.  When he had come home from the hospital she had only been able to get him to drink so she had started with watery broths and had worked her way up to soups.  She had even shared his favourite recipes and Magnus had made sure there was stock in the freezer just in case.

Right now he was so grateful for her advice that he was wondering how big a diamond he could locate on short notice.  He pulled out a simple chicken broth, knowing it would have enough flavour to be pleasant but not so much it could irritate his stomach, and set about defrosting it, then heating it up in the microwave.  He would typically have preferred to do this in a pan on the hob, but speed was of the essence and he had a mug full of hot broth 20 minutes later.

He thought he’d actually been pretty quick, but as he stepped into their bedroom his eyes followed the trail of clothes to the bed and Alec, in just his boxer-briefs, face down on top of the covers and, judging by the way his back moved up and down steadily, already fast asleep.

Magnus sighed and headed across the room, stopping on Alec’s side of the bed, placing the mug down on the bedside table. 

It seemed as though Alec was able to sense him, turning his head to the side so it faced the older man despite the fact that he remained asleep.

Magnus took a moment to study Alec’s face, which for the first time that day looked more at ease, almost relaxed.  Reaching out his fingers he very carefully brushed that one stubborn curl from his forehead, making sure he didn’t touch his skin, not wanting to risk disturbing him.  He saw Alec wrinkle his nose a little, then give a soft snuffle, his eyes moving beneath his eyelids making his long lashes flutter against his cheeks.

Magnus felt his chest ache as he smiled down at the young man who had become his whole world.

“I love you sayang” he whispered, “I don’t think you realise just how much and I don’t know how to make you see it”.

It was at that moment that he head soft steps coming to a halt in the open doorway.  He knew who it was without looking, there was only one person it could be.

“Magnus?” Izzy called quietly.

“He’s sleeping” he replied at an equal volume, not looking up though as he wasn’t ready to turn his eyes away from the sight before him.

“Is he…?” she didn’t finish the sentence, not really sure what word to use.

Magnus sighed and took a reluctant step back, gripping the comforter that was folded at the end of the bed and drawing it up over Alec to the middle of his back.  He picked up the mug of broth again and, with one last glance to check his sleeping lover, he headed back out of the bedroom, sliding the door closed then turned to Izzy who had waited for him in the hallway.

He looked at the mug, then at Izzy.  “Would you like some chicken broth my dear?  It’s best that it doesn’t go to waste, it’s your mother’s recipe”.

Her eyes lit up, though she bite her lip with reluctance.  “Isn’t it for Alec?”.

“Originally, though it can’t be reheated again so please do take it if you are hungry.  I have plenty more in the freezer so can heat up more when he wakes”.

“Oh, then I will definitely take advantage” she said, taking the mug with a smile.  “Thank you Magnus”.

“You’re quite welcome” he replied with a smile, “Now, let’s retire to the lounge, grab some suitable drinks, heavy on the liquor, and I’ll catch you up on the, frankly, horrific details”.

Izzy gave him a sympathetic look, then linked her free arm through his and they headed back across the loft together, both hoping their sleeping loved ones, Alec and Laila, would give them some time to talk.

 

*****

 

He was sure he wouldn’t be able to sleep.  Even though the day had been stressful for him as well, he had been determined to stay away and watch over Alec, still unsure what effect giving testimony would have on him.

The problem was, his body didn’t get the message his mind was sending and, not long after his head hit the pillow, he was deep in a dreamless sleep.

Which was why he was so confused and disorientated when he woke to find the ground moving beneath him.

‘No’ he thought, ‘Not the ground, it’s the mattress’.

He took in a deep breath through his nose and slowly opened his eyes, blinking away the dryness.  He found himself laid on his left side, so close to his edge of their bed that his bottom arm, which was stretched out straight, was hanging over the edge.

He was about to stretch, trying to make an attempt to come back to full consciousness when he heard a whimper in the darkness.  He stilled, trying to work out what was happening, his mind thinking that he could hear Laila.

“Stop…” begged a terrified voice, so quiet he wasn’t entirely sure he had heard something.

“Don’t do this… I don’t want this…” the voice continued.

Magnus rolled, flopping onto his back, his eyes on the ceiling as he tried to focus his thoughts, when the voice became more desperate.

There was another whimper, this was pained, followed by pained grunts forced out rhythmically through gritted teeth.

“Stop…” the voice cried out, much louder, “get off me!  I don’t want you… please…”.

Magnus suddenly jolted and sat bolt upright, now fully awake and registering that it was Alec’s voice.

He looked across the bed and saw Alec, still on his front but with the comforter kicked off, fists clutching at the sheet beneath him, his body rigid and shaking as he cried out desperately for someone to stop doing something to him.

Magnus felt sick, he could imagine what was happening in Alec’s dreams and he needed to wake him up, carefully but quickly.

He rolled towards his boyfriend, coming up on his knees at the same time so he could crawl the last of the distance between them.  He was desperate to get to him, to bring him out of his nightmare, which was why he wasn’t quite thinking straight as he lent over Alec’s back, supporting himself on one hand while his other reach across and gently gripped Alec’s shoulder.

Alec’s eyes snapped open.

 

~~~~~

 

Alec was face down on the cot, both his wrists secured to the frame by handcuffs, giving him very little room to move.  He was sure he had broken his arm but he couldn’t remember where the cast had gone.

He felt the bed dip behind him, cold fingers running across his sweat slicked back and it sent a shiver of fear through him.  He knew that touch wasn’t Magnus’.   His head was already on its side and he twisted his neck as far as it would go, pushing so hard to look out of the corner of his eye he was actually causing himself pain.

Something in his mind told him not to look, but he had to see who was there.

He saw blonde hair, blue eyes and sun kissed skin.

‘Sebastian’ he realised and his stomach dropped as he started to tug at his restraints in desperation, only to hear the man behind him laugh just before he pressed his lips to the nape of Alec’s neck.

“No” Alec said, tears falling and his voice wavering.

“You said I could” Sebastian whispered back between open mouth kisses as he slowly made his way down his spine.

“No” Alec squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head vehemently.  “No, I didn’t…”.

“Yes” Sebastian breathed out, his breath caressing Alec’s skin and he tried to twist away, pressing his stomach into the thin mattress beneath him, arching his back down and away.  “You said I could”.

“I don’t… I changed my mind” he sobbed, feeling the pain in his wrists from where the metal cuffs were cutting into his skin and the familiar sensation of warm blood running over his skin.

Sebastian’s kisses had reached the small of his back and his fingers dipped into the waistband of his boxer-briefs.

“That’s not how this works amour” he explained, sitting up as his fingers gripped Alec’s underwear firmly.  “You must want to, deep down.  Otherwise why would you have given up so easily, why would you have agreed to give yourself to me so quickly?”.

“Because…” Alec tried to remember.  He had said ‘yes’, he had agreed to let Sebastian use his body but there had been a reason why.  He just couldn’t remember it.

Sebastian started to draw his underwear down, slowly exposing his ass and continuing down his long legs, his lips leaving occasional kisses down his body as he forced him completely bare.

Alec, for a single, split second had felt hope.  He was sure, just as Sebastian had gripped his boxer-briefs, that someone would save him.  Someone was expected.

But someone didn’t come.

Sebastian moved back up his body, the underwear he had removed discarded thoughtlessly on the floor, and pressed the full length of his body against Alec’s.

Alec could feel the other mans naked skin against him, his arousal pressing between his ass cheeks and he whimpered in distress, doubling his efforts to get his hands free.

“Stop…” he begged, hearing the terror in his own voice.

He felt Sebastian shift and a knee was forced hard against the back of his thighs, pressing its way down between them.  He used all his strength to try and keep his legs sealed together but it wasn’t enough, and eventually Sebastian’s knee came to rest on the mattress.  Once he had Alec’s legs parted, he moved his other leg, the foot hooking around Alec’s knee and pulled outward, widening the gap enough for him to settle his hips between them.

“Don’t do this… I don’t want this…” Alec continued to try and avoid what he had started to believe was inevitable.

Sebastian ran a hand down Alec’s back, using it to spread his ass cheeks, giving him access to carry out his deepest desire.  “No mon amour, it’s what we both want” Sebastian said and, without further warning, he forced himself onto Alec’s body.

Alec cried out in pain, fear and humiliation, tears streaming down his face.  With every thrust the pain worsened, he grit his teeth to try and quieten each yelp which tried to escape every time Sebastian forced his way in again.  He wanted to stay silent, he wanted to disappear somewhere else and pretend it wasn’t happening,  he just wanted it to end.

“Stop…” he cried out, much louder this time, trying to get Sebastian to understand that what he was doing was wrong.  “Get off me!  I don’t want you… please…”.

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder, someone leaning over him and suddenly his own hands were free, which meant he was free.

He brought his left elbow up and back fast, striking the shadow behind him as hard as he could in the face, aiming to break his nose.  He felt it connect, heard the cry of pain and felt them fall away from the force of the blow.

Alec refused to waste anytime and he immediately scrabbled off the bed, falling from the edge straight onto his side knocking the wind from him but he kept moving, crawling in a panic away from his attacker, having to pick a random direction as he couldn’t orientate himself in the pitch black of the room.

He didn’t get far, running into material hanging on the wall.  He tried to push it away, hoping it was covering a doorway but when he finally manage to get it aside he found only leaded glass, cold to the touch.

For a moment he was confused, he was sure there were no windows in the room Sebastian had taken him to, but his thoughts were interrupted when there was a blinding flash of light…

 

~~~~~

 

Everything happened faster than Magnus’ brain could follow.  Alec’s eyes snapped open and then Magnus was falling backward onto the bed, only feeling the pain in his nose once he had landed.  His hands shot to his face, immediately wincing as a sharp pain stabbed through him when his fingers touched his nose.  He pulled them back, feeling the thick, hot fluid on his finger tips and running down over his lips and chin.

‘Fuck’ he thought, for two very specific reasons.  The first was seeing Alec part crawling and part crab walking when an arm gave way and he fell to the side, across the bedroom floor towards the windows, sobbing in fear.  The other was that his nose might be broken.

Ignoring the second, he leapt off his side of the bed and ran to the light switch, flicking on the overhead so they could both see the room, and each other clearly.

When he turned he saw Alec curling in on himself, almost as though he was trying to shield his whole body from the light itself and that was when Magnus realised he was likely still caught in a night terror.

He gently wiped his forearm under his nose, hoping the bleeding would clot itself, and then walked slowly towards his boyfriend, arms out to the side, hands flat, palms outward and fingers spread, trying to look as non-threatening as possible.

“Alec” he spoke firmly rather than loudly, not wanting to frighten the younger man further.  “Alec, can you hear me?”.

There was no response.  Alec remained curled in a tight ball, shaking and giving out muffled cries because his head was buried against his knees.

“Alec…” he said again as he drew closer, sinking down onto his knees.  “Alec, please listen to me, you’re safe.  It’s Magnus and you’re at home, in our bedroom”.

He heard the door slide open with force behind him, the noise startling Alec who suddenly lifted his head, staring wide eyed at Magnus.

“What’s going…” Izzy demanded as she burst into the room, her eyes quickly finding the two men.  “Shit, Alec…”

Magnus glanced over his shoulder at her, throwing her a glare and shushing her, only for him to see her eyes widen.

“Fuck Magnus, your nose!” she took a step forward.  “What happened?!”.

He held up his hand, indicating that she should stay where she was and he was thankful that she understood.  “Alec’s having a night terror…” he explained, turning back to the younger man, meeting his eyes.

“Oh Alec… but… your nose Magnus…”.  She was terrified for her brother, but the blood that had run down Magnus’ lips, off his chin and dripped onto his chest was a relatively gruesome sight and the doctor in her was torn between what to address first.

“My nose is the least of my worries right now”, he said, not taking his eyes off Alec now that his boyfriend seemed to have at least seen him at last.

He crawled a little closer, watching very carefully for any sign from Alec but he remained dead still, having controlled the sobs now but the tears still flowed down his face.

“Alexander” he said softly, “Can you hear me?  It’s Magnus” and he took another step. Almost at arms length away now.

“What can I do?” Izzy whispered.

“You’re not going to like this, but I need you to leave” he said calmly.

“You are fucking joking…” she hissed angrily.

“Izzy please” he spoke with authority and his voice took her back to when he was giving orders to make sure Alec was safe when he went after Max.  “The more people here when he comes out of this the worse he is going to feel, especially if you see him like this”.

She was torn again.  She knew Magnus only did what was best for Alec but the thought of leaving her brother when he looked so vulnerable made her feel physically sick.

“Magnus…”.

“Please Izzy” he repeated, “I will look after him, I promise”.

He still hadn’t looked at her, but he heard the sigh, her soft steps on the carpet and then the bedroom door sliding shut again.

“Okay love” he smiled at Alec, “It’s just us.  Alexander, can you talk to me, please?”.

He saw Alec swallow, his hazel eyes flicking over Magnus’ face with a confused frown.

“Come on sayang, come back to me” he whispered and another step forward, still on his knees, got him within arms length.  “It’s Magnus…”.

“Magnus” Alec whispered out on an exhale.

Hope blossomed in the older man’s chest.  “Yes love, do you know where you are?”.

Alec’s posture, the tight ball he had been curled into, started to loosen some and his eyes flicked further afield from Magnus’ face to take in his surroundings.

“You’re home Alexander” he explained gently.  “You’re safe, it was a dream”.

He was turning his head now, his arms sliding from where they had been wrapped around his knees, to place his palms on the thick carpet, fingers pressing into the pile.  His took in their bed, the open door into the bathroom, his dresser next to it.

“Home” he said quietly, the word escaping his pale lips just before his eyes came back to Magnus face… and then his eyes went wide and the colour from his cheeks drained away leaving him ghostly.

“Magnus, you’re bleeding!” he lent towards the older man, “What happened…” his arm reached out to investigate when he suddenly froze again, memories coming back in a flood.

Magnus’ stomach clenched, he knew what was coming.  “Alec, no…” he shook his head slowly, keeping the smile on his lips.

“I did that” Alec whispered in horror, the hand he was reaching out with snapping back, Alec gripping it with the other and pressing it into his chest as though it might hurt Magnus again, of its own accord.

“No Alec…”, Magnus argued kindly.

“Yes I did…” he looked at the bed, “I thought… I thought you were… someone else” as he spoke his voice filled with horror at what he had done.  “I hurt you…”.

“No” Magnus snapped, his face firm but his eyes full of love.  He hadn’t wanted to be harsh in any way but Alec was spiralling and he needed to make him understand.  Alec flinched, but it had the desired affect as he stopped talking and turned back to the older man with a look on his face that was part misery and part guilt.

“This was an accident” Magnus crept closer, thankful that Alec didn’t move away or flinch.  He was able to manoeuvre around to sit next to his boyfriend.  “I was half asleep when I tried to wake you, I didn’t think and I shouldn’t have lent over you…”.

Alec reach for him again, his fingers tracing across Magnus’ jaw and coming away red.  “I’m sorry…”.

“Hey” Magnus took his hand and held it tenderly in his own, “You don’t have to say sorry.  I told you, this wasn’t your fault”.

“But…”.

“Alec, no” he whispered and brought his hand up, kissing it.  “I’m okay.  I need to make sure you are?”.

Magnus noticed that Alec had started to tremble again and he knew it was the adrenaline wearing off, leaving him likely more exhausted than he had originally been, and cold as he had pushed their drapes aside, his bare back was pressed against the window glass.

“I…”, he stuttered, looking confused.

“Can I help you up?” Magnus asked, “We need to get you somewhere comfortable and warm”.

Alec only hesitated briefly, though Magnus wasn’t insulted.  He must have had lingering fear from the dream.  Magnus knew they would have to talk it through but he also knew Alec wasn’t ready to do so yet.  He worried that he wouldn’t be ready for a while still.

When Alec did nod his agreement, Magnus put his arms around him loosely, enough give in his embrace so Alec knew he could pull away if he needed to.

Once Alec was stood, all be it on unsteady legs, he guided him slowly back to their bed, paying close attention for signs that Alec wouldn’t want to be there.

Thankfully he didn’t see any and Magnus was able to get him sat on his side of the bed, having seen that Alec’s side was damp with sweat.

Alec couldn’t keep his eyes off Magnus face, the drying blood on his lips and chin, even on his chest from where it had dripped down.  ‘I did that’ he thought, sorrow welling inside of him, ‘I drew Magnus’ blood’.

“Stop Alec” Magnus said softly, as though he could read his mind.  He cupped the younger man’s cheek with his hand, Alec’s eye fluttering closed as he lent into the welcome touch.

He tried to use Magnus’ had as an anchor point while his eyes were closed, hoping not to flash back to the dream that was still haunting him.  It worked for less than a minute before his eyes sprung open again and he inhaled sharply.

“What happened love?” he asked.

And Alec knew he was trying to help but asking that just as he was bombarded with snippets from his dream made everything more visceral.  He stomach clenched and he could feel his mouth start to water as he remembered Sebastian’s touch, the feeling of him inside...

He sprang up, using an arm to move Magnus aside his other hand clamp over his mouth, then made a run for the bathroom.  He reached the toilet just in time to empty the contents of his stomach. 

Chapter Text

Magnus followed close behind him, but slowed as he crossed the threshold, letting Alec do what he needed to.  He caught a glance at himself in the mirror and was startled to see the blood smeared across his lips, chin and jaw from when he swiped his arm across his face. Bruising already forming under his left eye.  He took the second to use the sink, get a handful of cold water and, with a quick scrub down cleared what he could, using a towel to remove most of the rest. 

He flung the towel in the direction of the laundry hamper and then grabbed Alec’s white, light cotton robe from the back of the door.

The whole process took less than 20 seconds and then he reached Alec’s side, his boyfriends retching was slowing and he was trying to spit the taste from his mouth between heaves, the muscles in his back rippling every time a contraction overtook him, skin glistening with a sheen of cold sweat.

Magnus slid down the wall to sit on the floor to Alec’s left, his legs bent at the knee, feet planted flat on the floor and he waited.

Alec finally started to recover, the retching stopped and was replaced with coughing and throat clearing as Alec tried to sooth the burning feeling.  He was still knelt in front of the toilet, his right arm laid across the bowl, supporting Alec’s forehead as he faced down into the water beneath him.   As his breaths calmed Magnus noticed the trembling started again, no longer running on adrenaline and with his body empty of any kind of fuel he was loosing body heat, fast.

“Alexander” he spoke softly, not wanting his voice to echo loudly in the bathroom.  “I’m going to drape your robe over your shoulders, just to keep you warm.  Is that okay love?”.

Alec rolled his forehead on his arm, turning it to the side so he could look at the older man and Magnus took in the tear streaked cheeks that were also flushed pink while the rest of his skin was paler than usual.  He gave an almost imperceptible nod of his head, granting Magnus the permission he needed.

He moved slowly, recognising that even though Alec knew what he intended to do, it didn’t mean he wasn’t still feeling skittish.  Thankfully he had sat close enough that he just needed to lean forward a little, letting the robe fall open, then settling the shoulders into place on his boyfriend’s body. 

Once he was satisfied it was in place and secure enough to stay, he sat back against the wall, giving Alec the room to move as he wished.  He stayed where he was, watching Magnus with a look in his eyes the other man couldn’t quite decipher.

“We should get you somewhere warmer” Magnus commented eventually, “Maybe you could drink some tea?”.

Alec shook his head slowly, still watching him.  Magnus waited patiently, resting his wrists on his raised knees and letting his hands hang loose.

They stayed like that for what felt like an age, though was likely just a few minutes, and then Alec’s eyelids started to droop. 

As much as Magnus wanted him to sleep, and hoped he could do so soundly, this wasn’t the place.

Sayang?” he whispered.

Alec took in a loud gulp of air through his nose and sat back on his heels, closing the toilet lid and pulling the flush.  He paused for a moment, staring at the wall behind the cistern, waiting for the room to quieten again before turning his head in Magnus’ direction..

“Alexander…” Magnus tried again.

“I’m sorry” Alec mumbled, staring at the wall above Magnus’ head.

“You have nothing to be sorry for my love” the older man reassured.

“Your face is going to bruise”, he pointed out miserably.

“Bruising heals” he took a chance, moving one of his hands up so he could run his hands through Alec’s hair, tucking some loose strands behind his ear and finding it damp with sweat.  “And until then we know what a master I am with concealer”.

“It’s not funny Magnus” Alec scolded, finally looking at him, a gentle frown on his face.

“It’s also not as serious as you think darling” Magnus retorted kindly.  “It was an accident, there was no malicious intent towards me…”.

“Of course not… I would never…” he argued, almost indignantly.

Magnus smiled at him, “I know you wouldn’t”.

Alec reached out to him, this thumb brushing across his cheek, “God, it looks bad…”.

Magnus took his hand and squeezed it affectionately.  “Stop looking at it” he said with some amusement.

“It’s your face Magnus” Alec said, a hint of sarcasm in his tone.  “I’m always looking at it…”.

“Unless I’m walking away, then you’re looking at my ass” he winked, Alec’s frown went deeper.

“Magnus…” he sounded exasperated.

“We need to get you warm” the older man interrupted, not having missed Alec’s teeth were starting to chatter as his shivering escalated.

Alec seemed to notice he was in fact cold and, gently pulling his hand from Magnus’ grasp he slid them through his robe and tied the belt to close it.

Magnus stood and help his hand out again which Alec looked dubiously at.  “Sitting on the bathroom floor isn’t going to do either of us any good” Magnus pointed out.  “So, we can either go to bed and talk about what just happened, or we can go and drink tea in the kitchen.  It’s entirely up to you?”.

“Can we just go to bed and not talk about it?” he asked as he looked up at his boyfriend.

Magus’ face softened.  “If you’re not ready to talk about it yet then I’ll respect that.  But you can’t go on like this Alec…”.

“It’s just because of the trial Magnus” Alec took his hand and let Magnus balance him while he stood on wobbly legs.  “Once it’s out of the way I’ll be fine”.

“Humm” was the other man’s response, his tone telling Alec he wasn’t even remotely convinced.

Alec looked at him, considering.

“Tea in the kitchen” he decided, not ready to return to their bed.

Magnus nodded once and, still holding onto his hand as though he was afraid he might bolt, he walked him out of the bathroom, through their bedroom and into the kitchen.

Where they found Izzy, sat at the breakfast bar, sipping at her own mug of tea.

“Izzy?” Alec asked, “What are you doing up?”.

Magnus let go of him so he could join his sister at the bar while he turned his attention to the kettle, Izzy having already brought his box of teas out from the pantry.

Izzy opened her mouth, not immediately speaking as though she couldn’t decide whether to tell the truth or lie.

Her hesitation only told Alec exactly why she was up.  “You heard?”.

She nodded, her dark eyes looking worried.  “Are you okay?”.

Alec snorted, “I’m fine” he replied and then looked at Magnus’, who had his back to them while he waited for the kettle and fussed with a teapot and mugs.  “But… I…”.

“Alec” Magnus sighed as he turned, place his back against the counter and gripped the edge with both hands.  “Please, you have to stop”.

Izzy looked between the pair of them, then placed her mug on the counter and stood, moving over to Magnus.

“Let me look” she said, peering up into his face.

Magnus straightened up, dropping his hands to his sides and nodded, allowing her to check his face.

Izzy’s raised her hands, her fingers grazing over his face with practiced movements, pressing and prodding enough to test the delicate bones but not to cause too much pain.  There were a few sharp twinges, but Magnus bit them back, well aware of how closely Alec was watching for any reaction.

“I don’t think anything is broken…” she said as she moved away, heading back to her brother.  “It looks more like a glancing blow to me”.

She sat back down sideways in her seat so she could look at her older brother.  “How is it that Magnus has the bruised face, but you look worse than him?”.

Alec looked shocked and turned to Magnus, who simply raised an eyebrow in a ‘she has a point’ gesture.  Realising he was not going to get any help from him, he put an elbow on the counter and rubbed his forehead with his hand.

“It was a bad dream…” he explained, “I didn’t realise I had woken up and I…” he gestured towards Magnus with his free hand.  “Hurt Magnus”.

Izzy looked at the older man but he shook his head.

“Magnus doesn’t seem very hurt” she commented, picking up her mug and sipping it.

This time he looked at the pair of them in disbelief.  “His fucking face was bleeding Izzy, look at the bruises!”.

“Do you remember when I was… what 10… maybe 11?” she squinted, trying to remember specifics.  “You were out to dinner with mom and dad and the Fitzpatrick’s, they were lining you up to date their daughter…”.

Alec stared at her open mouthed wondering if he had missed an entire chunk of the conversation, coming back to consciousness at a different point and entirely different subject.

Magnus just snorted at the thought of Alec dating a women and, with the kettle starting to whistle, he took it off the hob and poured the water into the tea pot.

“…Jace had put on that film… The Strangers.  Fuck me that was an awful film” she gave a little shudder at the memory.  “When you got home I was in your bed, Jace begging me not to tell mom and dad what we’d watched but there was no way I was sleeping that night”.

Alec finally remembered the story, even though he wasn’t sure where it was going.  “You and Jace slept in with me that night”.

She nodded, a tiny smile on her lips.  “That film was scary because there wasn’t a reason for what they did.  They simply wanted to terrorise and kill that couple and there was no way I was going to sleep.  But you made me feel safe…”.

‘Ah’ he thought, suddenly getting the point.

“But I had this horrible nightmare and I kicked you in the balls…”.

Magnus dropped the mugs he had just picked up back onto the counter with a clatter and looked over his shoulder at the siblings.

Izzy caught his look.  “In my sleep” she explained.

“I’m kind of glad it was my nose” he commented before picking up the mugs again, then the tea pot and turned to set them down on the breakfast bar before sitting opposite Alec.

“It’s not the same Iz…” Alec said quietly as he watched Magnus going through the teas, selecting the one he thought would be best for them.  It had always fascinated him, Magnus always seemed to know the best flavours that would help his mood and he hadn’t made a misstep yet.

“Yes, it is.  I had a nightmare and when you tried to wake me I attacked because I thought I was still there, it was so real” she argued firmly.  “And what did you say…”.

“Not a lot for a while” he mumbled and Magnus gave a quiet titter.

“Don’t be petulant” she snipped as she backhanded him across the bicep.  “You told me it was okay, that it wasn’t my fault…”.

“Because it wasn’t” he reassured her.

“Then why is this yours?” she asked, waving a hand in the direction of Magnus.

“Because…” he looked at his boyfriend and his stomach turned at the bruising and the remaining dried blood.  “I’m an adult Iz, I have self-control”.

“Rubbish” she retorted.  “Nightmares are bad enough, but night terrors…” she shook her head, “You’re holding yourself to an impossible standard”.

Magnus paused for a split second as he flicked through the teas, remembering back to when he had said those exact words to Alec just the night before.  Alec looked at him, just a quick flash of his eyes but Magnus knew he was thinking the same.

“Who did you think Magnus was?” she asked bluntly.

Alec immediately looked away, to the other end of the room and out of the window.  It was raining again, but it sounded louder then normal when it hit the glass.  He wondered if there was sleet in there as well.

Magnus gave her a pointed look, which she returned with equal intensity, saying ‘stop coddling him’.

“It doesn’t matter” he said without turning back.

Magnus gave Izzy a ‘stop it’ scowl.

She narrowed her eyes and ignored it, kicking at Alec’s shin.  “Hey?”.

“Leave it alone Izzy” he snapped, this time glaring at her.

“You can’t keep everything bottled up” she argued back, “If you do it’ll eventually explode out…”.

Magnus was watching his boyfriend carefully and he saw as Alec’s jaw tensed and his hands curled into fists so tightly they started to tremble.

“Isabelle” he said, quietly but firmly.  “That’s enough”.

She turned to him, “You know as well as I do…”.

“Enough” he said, a little louder and a little firmer.

She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly through her nose.  “Okay” she acquiesced before turning back to her brother.  “But you are going to have to face this at some point”.

Izzy slipped off her stool, kissed her brothers cheek and gave Magnus an apologetic smile before padding off to bed.

Magnus had found the tea he was looking for and put two bags into the teapot, swirling the water to help it mix for a few moments before pouring it out into their mugs and sliding one over to Alec who took it gratefully, wrapping both his hands around it.

“Thank you” the young man whispered before taking sip.

“She’s not wrong love” Magnus said as he brought his own mug up to his lips.

“I know” he whispered, looking down into his mug.

Magnus reached his hand across the table, Alec’s eyes tilting up to see it and his own hand meeting it half way, turning his palm and relishing in the warmth that came from Magnus’ grip.

They stayed that way, drinking their tea in silence, the only noise the fast tapping of rain on the windows.  At some point they heard the sounds of Laila waking but she settled quickly and Izzy didn’t appear for a bottle so Magnus guessed it must have been for a diaper change.

It brought him out of his reverie though and he refocused on Alec who was twisting his mostly empty mug in circles on the counter.

“Spend the day with me sayang” he suggested suddenly.

Alec’s hand froze and he looked up.  “You have a meeting though?”.

“In the early evening” he informed him.  “In the morning I’m having brunch at Catarina’s with her and Madzie.  I know they would both like to see you”.

The thought of brunch with Cat and Madzie brought the hint of a smile to his lips, “It would be nice to see them too”.

“So you’ll come?” he asked.

“What about your meeting?” Alec pointed out.

“My office is big enough for the both of us” Magnus smiled.  “Or you can look round the club while my associates are there”. 

Alec looked at him, his eyes flicking across his face.  “Will you let Cat check your face?”.

“Alexander, your sister checked me over”.

“And I love Izzy, she is very talented but she works with the deceased” he deadpanned.  “Cat works with live patients and is a surgeon.  She’ll also want to know what happened so if you explain it first and let her check you she may be less likely to kill me”.

Magnus laughed softly, giving Alec’s hand a quick squeeze and was delighted when he returned the gesture.

“Do you want more tea?” Magnus asked.

Alec chewed his lip, then glanced at the time.  “I’d like to go to bed…”.

Magnus’ smile broadened, “Me too” he agreed.

 

*****

 

Jace and Woolsey left the precinct two hours before their early afternoon appointment with Glen Gladstone’s parents.  They had a water front home on Hempstead Lake and Woolsey, not a New Yorker, had planned to leave an hour for travel and Jace had quickly pointed out the road conditions could change quickly on their way out of the city, especially on rainy days like it was.  He had suggested they give themselves two hours, they could always sit in the car at the other end but it wouldn’t be right to be late.

Woolsey had agreed, and been grateful to Jace for speaking up.  So they had left Raj and Aldetree going through CCTV and witness statements from the illegal clinic users they had been able to trace, while they piled into an unmarked saloon with Woolsey driving.

Their first stop was coffee, using a drive through Starbucks, then they were on the road to their destination just as the rain got heavier.

“I hear Alec has the day off, how’s he doing?  It was quite the tumble he took yesterday” Woolsey asked as he studied the roads carefully.

Jace looked at him for a moment, his miss-matched eyes narrowed.  “What’s with you and Magnus?” he blurted out instead of answering the question that had been asked.

Woolsey glanced at him, a subtle smile on his lips that Jace couldn’t read.  “That obvious huh?”.

He sounded pleased that Jace had noticed something and it irritated the younger man.  “From your side, Magnus seems… indifferent” he replied, hoping the remark would provoke the man.

Woolsey laughed and it annoyed Jace even more.  “Magnus and I are old… friends.  We were, at one time, friends with benefits”.

Jace wasn’t surprised, he had thought it was something along the lines of a close relationship of some kind.

“But Magnus… he’s something of a free soul and he wasn’t interested in something serious” he replied, back to watching the road studiously.  “We went our separate ways…”.

“How long ago was this?” Jace asked, intrigued.

“Oh, long before he even joined the FBI.  Something of which I was very surprised by, I never would have bet on Magnus passing that background check”.

“Why?” Jace asked.

“Well… how to put it…” he pulled up at a stop sign, checked and then pulled away again, the wipers going at full speed but vision was still poor.  “If you can take it, snort it or inject it Magnus had done it.  Alcohol was his breakfast of choice and partners were many and usually overlapped…” he drifted off into his thoughts.

Jace was worried they were inappropriate so he continued with his questions, knowing he was probably overstepping a line into Magnus privacy.  “That’s not a Magnus that I recognise” he said, turning away from his boss and looking out of his window.

Woolsey snorted, “Then you know how I felt when I bumped into him again.  And seeing him with Alec yesterday…” he trailed off again.

“What?” Jace prompted.

“I‘ve never seen him… like that” there was something sad in his voice.

“Like what?” Jace said again.

“Like his whole world was wrapped up in one person” he answered, swallowing thickly, tapping his fingers on the wheel to a beat that Jace couldn’t hear.

Jace felt himself becoming protective of his brother, especially when he realised what it was in Woolsey’s voice that was bothering him.

“You’re jealous” he said with surprise.

Woolsey glanced at him but his eyes went straight back to the road.  “That’s a horrible word, I prefer envious” he remarked quietly.

Jace waited for a moment to see if he would explain further, before speaking again when the other man didn’t.

“So you are?” Jace watched him glance his way again.  “Envious I mean?”.

“I suppose I am, I hadn’t really thought about it until now.  I was in love with Magnus, I would have given him everything but it was just a passing fling for him, a physical relationship that suited him at the time.  It took me a long time to get over him and the one thing that did it was accepting him for who he was… who I knew him to be”

They had to stop for lights but slowly they were making their way out of the busier streets at the same time as the rain started to ease off again.

Woolsey went quiet again as he navigated a particularly awkward junction, getting through the traffic before speaking again. 

“And now I find him again and he’s… a successful business man, clearly clean and in a committed relationship with a NYPD detective.  Not to mention he also joined the FBI”.

Jace frowned at him.  “Why is it such a surprise that he’s dating a cop and that he worked for the FBI?”.

Woolsey laughed again, but this time there seemed to be a little sadness in there.  “I spent almost a year doing illegal things with Magnus.  I would never have thought he would so very honest”.

“Do I need to point out the irony of what you just said, detective” Jace remarked with sarcasm.

“Ah, but I was a follower” he explained, “I didn’t have an original idea in my head, that was all Magnus’ doing…”.

“You were an adult…” Jace snapped, irritation flaring within him again.

“Oh I know” Woolsey defended.  “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Magnus for my lifestyle back then.  I’m just saying this wasn’t such a change for me, but for Magnus… it’s like he is living an entirely different lifetime”.

Jace mulled over what his boss had said, wondering if he needed to be concerned about Alec and his relationship.  Was Magnus playing at being domesticated, would he revert back to his old ways and break Alec’s heart.  It didn’t take long for him to give a physical shake of his head.  ‘No’ he thought, Magnus’ love was bright and clear and there for everyone to see.  The Magnus Woolsey was talking about was so long ago, Jace knew in his heart that this Magnus, the one they had always known, was the real one.  Whatever he had been dealing with back then had no baring on who he was now.

“He and Alec, they’re the real deal” he said but with kindness in his voice.

Woolsey looked at his junior detective.  “I know”.

“What are your intentions?” he asked, not expecting the man to be honest but feeling he needed to ask.

“No need for the shovel talk Jace” he reassured.  “Though it takes some balls to confront your boss this way”.

“Takes some balls to admit what you just did…” Jace retorted.  “About your past, about your feelings.  Thought I should be just as honest as you”.

Woolsey smiled at him, “Okay”.

“Okay” though Jace felt anything but okay.  He didn’t miss that Woolsey hadn’t answered his question about what his intentions were.  It was something he would be keeping a very close watch on.

“So…” Woolsey finally hit the highway and they were able to make some good time.  “What do we want to ask the parents?”.

Jace sighed, the pulled out his phone so he could look through the file.  “We want to know about his friends, especially as he didn’t seem to do any socialising at work.  What got him involved in the illegal clinic, if they can shed any light on it…”

For the rest of the trip they discussed the case that they were investigating.  It had been a particularly gruesome end to the young mans life, found in the store room of the illegal clinic he worked in with his throat cut, the scalpel that had done the damage left at the scene.

The M.E. had confirmed that his throat had been cut from behind by someone who was slightly shorter and right handed.  There were no defensive marks and very little sign of any struggle so they were thinking he either knew his killer or was completely surprised, which was less likely considering how busy the clinic had been at the time.

There had been evidence he was taking supplies from the hospital he worked in to stock the clinic, as had all the doctors volunteering there.  But that would likely have gotten him fired, rather than killed.  So they were still focusing on leads through the clinic itself and hoping that his parents could shed some light on his personal life which seemed to be a mystery.

Even his apartment was relatively spartan, seeming he spent all of his time in one hospital or another leaving him little to no time for unpacking, let alone building a home.  Jace was frustrated, in patrol his work was short bursts of tasks and then they had accomplished what they had been tasked to do.  Being a detective was prolonged periods of no progress and then sudden moments of hope and small amounts of success.  He still wasn’t convinced he was cut out for it.

Chapter Text

Catarina’s flat was the ground floor of a converted brownstone which afforded her a small garden out the back.  She buzzed them in the main door and then walked past the stairs to the white Tudor door with a doormat that read ‘Keys, Purse, Cell, Stethoscope’ and was turned so the person exiting could read it.

Magnus grinned down at it, as he did every time he saw the gift he had bought his friend was still in use.  He looked at Alec, who rolled his eyes and pressed his index finger on the doorbell.

“Will you ever get tired of that?” he asked in exasperation.

“Nope” Magnus replied popping the ‘p’ before turning back to wait patiently for Cat to answer the door, missing Alec’s fond smile.

They heard light footsteps on the wooden floors and then the door was flung open, “Magn…” she trailed off, her joy turning to horror when she saw Magnus’ face and Alec’s stomach dropped like a lead balloon.  “What the fuck happened to you!” she demanded, suddenly a mix of concern and anger.

“It was a singularly focus carrier pigeon, seems I inadvertently crossed it’s path mid-message delivery and, well…” he used a hand to indicate his bruised eye and cheek, along with his swollen nose.

She stared open mouthed for a few seconds, then stepped aside, knowing full well Magnus was lying but she wanted to get him in and sat down so she could have a look.  Alec’s look of bemusement at his boyfriend’s comment, tinged with guilt was also a clue.

“You…” she pointed at Magnus, “in the kitchen.  And you…” then it was Alec’s turn, “distract Madzie, I don’t want her seeing Magnus like this without a warning”.

Alec nodded, already looking incredibly guilty.  “Where’s…”.

“Her bedroom, apparently she is half-way through a homemade birthday card for Magnus…”.

“Awww” he said as he was already halfway to the kitchen.

“…and it’s going to be ‘epic’” she used her fingers as quotation marks.  “Which I assume to mean I will be hoovering up glitter for the next three months”.

Alec nodded and wandered into the apartment, knowing the way to Madzie’s room after many a babysitting gig with Magnus.

Cat closed the door and followed Magnus to the kitchen, where she also happened to store her doctors bag and an extensive medical kit.  Both of which she got out of the pantry and placed on the kitchen table before standing in front of the chair her friend had selected to sit in.

She sighed as she studied his face, her hands behind her back for now.

“What really happened Magnus?”.

He sighed dejectedly.  “Alec was… stuck in a night terror and I was…” he shook his head slightly.  “I was half asleep and stupidly leaned across his back to wake him… I got an elbow to the face for my efforts”.

Cat winced, finally bringing her hands round to test some of the delicate bones where the bruising had formed.

“That must have been a hell of a shot” she muttered.

“Actually, we figured it was likely a glancing blow” he explained.  “Darling Isabelle had a look last night when it happened and she didn’t think anything was broken…”.

“She was right” Cat said, “I’d hate to see the result of a full blow”.

Magnus wiggled his eyebrows at her and she slapped his bicep playfully, “I see it’s not done your smutty mind any harm”.

“I can’t help it, it’s the side affect of having an exceptionally hot boyfriend”.

“Humm” was her response as she straightened up.  “Well, there isn’t much that can be done.  Use a cold pack to reduce the swelling on your nose, once that’s gone switch to a heat back to encourage blood flow which will help get rid of the bruising”.

He sighed, this time dramatically.  “When will I be beautiful again?”.

“You’re always beautiful Magnus…” she put her medical kit and doctors bag away as there was no use for them.  Then she made her way over to start laying the table for brunch.

“You know what I mean…” he stood up to help her, taking over the crockery and cutlery while she fetched numerous pastries she had bought from the baker around the corner, plating them up before then moving on the cut various fruits.

“The bruising should be gone in around two weeks” she advised, handling the knife deftly as an apple bit the dust quickly and efficiently.

“My dear…” he turned to look at her.  “I have an award ceremony to attend this Saturday and a party for Maximillian next Friday…”.

She looked at him with an eyebrow raised.

He immediately pulled out two invitations from his jacket pocket, “Courtesy of young Master Lightwood, for you and Madzie”.

Cat grinned, not really thinking for one moment they wouldn’t be invited.  “What’s the party for?”.

“It appears he is being wooed by MIT…”.

“You know that kid will either be our saviour or our destruction, don’t you” Cat commented light-heartedly. 

“I’m going for the former…” he answered, moving around his close friend’s kitchen as though he lived there, getting eggs from the refrigerator and a pan from the drawer before ending his journey at the hob.  “He’s too sweet for the latter, and his siblings would never allow it”.

She laughed lightly, grabbing the yoghurt from the refrigerator to drop it on the table and then, leaving Magnus to cook the eggs ‘a-la-bane’ she went to fetch Alec and her daughter.

As she pushed the bedroom door open slowly she realised she was wrong, it would take her six months to hoover up the glitter.

Alec was trying his best to shield himself with Madzie’s tiny painting apron, which barely covered his stomach, while Madzie skipped around a huge piece of card, folded in two, throwing glitter onto it as though she was a flower girl at a wedding and the shining dust was confetti.

“Madzie…” Cat interrupted, bring her daughter to an immediately halt.  “What did I say about the use of glitter?”.

The young girl tucked her hands behind her back and shuffled her feet, her head hung low.  “That it should be done responsibly, slowly and mefodocallie”.

She raised her head, her big brown eyes blinking at Alec.

“Methodically” he whispered.

“Mefidicollie” she corrected to her mother with a big smile.

Cal smiled back, “Close enough.  Come, sit for a moment” she said as she pointed at the small craft table and chairs in the corner.  It had originally been pink but Madzie and Magnus had painted it with forest green camouflage then added diamante gems for ‘pizzazz’.

“Okay…” Cat perched on the other chair opposite her daughter.  “Uncle Magnus is cooking eggs…”

“Yay!” and she started to jump up but Cat put a hand gently on her arm to hold her in place for a moment.

“But…” she moved her head into Mazie’s eyeline to make sure she was listening to her.  “He’s had a little accident and his face is a bit bruised and swollen”.

She frowned, “Ouch, what did he do?”

“I’ll let him tell you sweetheart.  But be nice, and don’t be worried because he will be just fine in a few weeks”.

“Okay” she announced with the complete unconcern only a child could display, then she was up, grabbing her silver wand with the star on the end, and raced out to door.

Cat stood and turned to face a worried looking Alec.  She took the three steps over to him and wrapped him in a tight hug.

He froze in surprise for a moment, then hugged her back, pressing his nose into her shoulder.

“Are you okay?” she asked softly, rubbing a small circle into his back.

Alec lifted his head and gently drew out of her arms, taking a step back.  “Is he okay?”.

She rolled her eyes, “He was making jokes about blowjobs, what do you think?”.

Alec make a strange squawk noise as he swallow and his face flushed pink.

She chuckled and gave his bicep a squeeze.  “He’s fine.  Nothing is broken, Isabelle was right.  I’ve told him what to do about the swelling and the bruising to help speed things along, but in about two weeks you won’t even know it happened”.

“I’m so sorry Cat…” he started.

“Nope” she interrupted before he would even get going.  “Nothing to be sorry for, it was obviously an accident”.

Alec sighed and raked a hand through his hair.  “That’s what Magnus keeps saying”.

“Then believe him” she stated firmly.  “Now come on, lets get some of this food eaten”.

They made their way back to kitchen, following a trail of glitter that made Cat groan, discovering that Madzie was already stood on a chair waving her wand over the table as she and Magnus sang a song about a faerie named Mary and, incidentally, dropping glitter all over their food.

Cat was quick to reassure all that she had actually purchased edible glitter this time round as Madzie repeatedly spread the stuff all over the apartment and Magnus immediately demanded to know where she had bought it from.  Alec didn’t have the nerve to ask why he needed to know, not in front of polite company at least.

He finished cooking the eggs and they all sat down to a civilised brunch, as civilised as you can get with a six-year-old and Magnus, leaving it up to Cat and Alec to be the adults.  Madzie did in fact ask how Magnus had hurt his face and he rehashed the pigeon story, though with further embellishment (apparently the bird was on a vital mission for homeland security this time), and she had giggled but not asked anything further, too interested in her chocolate croissant.

Cat has spoken a little about work, she sung her praises about Helen, Aline’s wife, and how invaluable she was when Cat operated.  She also talked a little about some research she was doing into the healing properties of lasers, but she lost every other person at the table very quickly so instead she asked about the award ceremony.

Alec had grumbled about ‘being made to go’ as Magnus eagerly informed Cat that he had already booked them a suite at the hotel, a pamper afternoon for himself and Isabelle (because he knew Alec would rather chew his right arm off than have a manicure, let alone a massage, facial and pedicure as well) and they would be attending a fitting after brunch for their new suits.

Alec had zoned out during Magnus monologue, playing a hand trapping game with Madzie, but his ears pricked up at Magnus’ last announcement.

“Wait…” his head shot up, “What?”.

Magnus smiled at him.  “We’re going to see Alexi darling.  He has our new suits and he wants to do the alterations before Saturday”.

Alec frowned.  “What new suits?”.

“The ones I ordered” he replied as though Alec was an idiot.

“But… I don’t need a new suit”, the younger man was very confused now.  They’d had new suits for Laila’s naming ceremony just two months ago.

“We most certainly do”, Magnus argued, indignantly.  “This is an award ceremony Alexander.  What were you intending to wear, Laila’s naming ceremony suit?”

He tittered a little at the suggestion but when he saw the look on Alec’s face the laughter died away quickly.

“Oh my god” he explained.  “You were going to wear that suit!”.

“It’s a nice suit” Alec defended.

“It’s grey…” Magnus pointed out.

“I know?” Alec said it as though it was a question because he really didn’t know where Magnus was going with the remark.

“Light grey” he clarified.

Alec looked at Cat for help but she only shrugged her shoulders, clearly as clueless as he.

“It’s an afternoon suit Alexander” Magnus sighed sadly, “You can’t wear an afternoon suit to an evening award ceremony”.

Alec rubbed a hand across his forehead, “This is an excuse for you to shop”.

“Absolutely” he answered with no shame whatsoever.  “And you are going to look highly fu…”.

“Magnus!” Alec and Cat shouted, flicking their eyes at Madzie.

“…fashionable” he finished, correcting himself just in time.

“Magnus…” Alec started to argue but Cat patted his arm.

“There’s no point sweetie, just go with it” she said knowingly but demonstrating sympathy for the young man all the same.

 

 

And that was how he ended up being pulled into Alexi’s store, Refined, by Magnus who had a tight grip of his hand as though he thought he might just make a run for it at any moment.

Alec had been dragged here the last time as well, so Magnus could have his suit tailored for Laila’s special day, it seemed to be becoming a theme.

It wasn’t that Alec disliked the store, it was actually welcoming.  Pine floors, covered generously with grey rugs and black shelving of various types covered every wall to display suits from various designers, hats, shoes, pocket squares, socks, ties, belts and various items of jewellery.  The lighting was soft and you were always offered a drink, hot, cold, soft or alcoholic, in order to put the customer at ease.

He didn’t dislike Alexi either.  The man was welcoming and respectful and, while his hands were on you as he measured and pinned, he was always talking to you, distracting you from the closeness of his work.  It actually put Alec at ease and he felt safe enough to allow the man to work.

No, what he disliked was Magnus spending his money on him.  He had no objection to Magnus picking his formal clothes, he had no idea what was suitable.  But the clothes Magnus picked were high end and very expensive, his own suits were evidence of this.  Izzy had walked through their closet once while Alec was moving in and she told him that Magnus didn’t have a single suit under at least a $1000, and those were the cheaper ones.

As they pushed through the door the bell rang out once, then a second time as the door closed behind them and, as though by magic, Alexi appeared.  His arms were wide, a broad grin on his face as he walked towards them.

“My darling Magnus!” he exclaimed happily.

“Alexi” Magnus smiled, as equally happy to see the other man and hugging him loosely.

When they drew apart Alexi studied his face, “Dare I ask?”.

“I came a cropper of a rouge soccer ball kicked by a surprisingly aggressive 5-year-old in central park” Magnus explained, ignoring Alec’s second look of bemusement that day at the new story he had concocted.

“Delinquent” Alexi muttered before turning to Alec.  “And Alec, how are you?  I hope you are as excited as Magnus about this awards ceremony?”.

“No one is as excited as Magnus about this award ceremony, I can assure you” he grumbled.

Alexi looked at Magnus with a glint in his eye, “So sassy”.

Magnus let out a slow breath of adoration, his eyes on his boyfriend.  “I know”.

“Well,” the store owner clapped his hands once, “I have you set up in the double fitting room, let’s have a look at these suits on you and we can see what nipping and tucking is needed”.

Alexi went on ahead and Alec went to follow when Magnus stopped him with a soft hand on his chest.  “All teasing aside my love, are you okay with this?  If not, your suit will look divine on you without any alterations”.

Alec felt a wave of love at the concern his boyfriend showed him.  He was nervous, the memories still raw from the testimony he had given yesterday but he also knew how much Magnus loved these times they could spend together, and he could spoil Alec.  He couldn’t take that away from him, these past few days had been hard on him as well.

“Teasing aside…” he repeated Magnus’ words back to him, “I’m okay” and he leaned down to press a chaste but tender kiss to his boyfriends lips.

“I love you” Magnus said quietly.

Alec smiled, “You’d better”.

Magnus laughed with delight and took his younger boyfriend’s hand again, tugging him over to the door Alexi had disappeared through.

Inside the fitting room was a generous size, the colour scheme the same.  The wall opposite them was split in half, a wall to ceiling mirror set between two open cubicles where the users could have a modicum of privacy to change if they chose and they could also hang the clothes they had arrived in.

Either side of the cubicles was a slim open closet that had a section to hang a suite as well as shelving for shoes, ties, pocket squares, socks and a selection of belts and cufflinks to try.  The rest of the walls were covered in mirrors.

In the centre of the room was a fitting platform and a small stool on wheels for Alexi to use once they were ready.

“Who would like to go first?” Alexi asked, just as there was a knock at the door.  “Come in!” he called out, seeing as his customers were still fully clothed.

A young man walked in carrying a tray with two drinks, one a martini and one a mug of coffee.  “Thank you Sampson”.

Sampson nodded politely and slid the tray on the top of the slim tall-boy by the door where Alexi stored all his tailoring materials, equipment and resources.

Once he was gone the owner turned back to the couple again, only to see Magnus starting to strip out of his clothes as he walked towards the cubicle on the right.

Magnus was exceptionally confident in relation to his body, it was something that Alec loved about him, and he had every reason to be so.  Alec couldn’t help but watch as Magnus slipped his shirt off his broad shoulders, how the muscles in his back moved as he did, and then opening his pants and pulling them because they were so tight they didn’t just fall off, from this shapely legs.  By the time he was stood in his bright red hip-briefs, hands on said hips, caramel skin glowing in the soft light, and watching Alexi unzipping the garment bag that held his suit, Alec was hot under the collar, his heart thudding in his chest and his mouth had gone dry.

He went to get his coffee because if he didn’t stop looking at his boyfriend he was going to have to do a suit fitting while sporting a semi.  And then they would never be able to come back here again.

“So…” Alexi spoke as he handed Magnus a crisp white shirt, giving him the moment to slip it on.  “As we discussed it’s the Valentino and I have brought in the bronze tie and pocket square you requested.  The waist coat, pant and jacket buttons are gold and we have found the exact same design as cufflinks so you can take the theme all the way through if you wish…”.

Magnus just looked at him.

“Of course you wish” he laughed and removed the pants carefully from the bag, handing them to Magnus and he stepped into them, zipping and buttoning quickly then tucking in his shirt.

Alexi handed him shoes, “We have the Louboutin, Greggo flat calf patine as you requested”.  Magnus took them and slipped his feet in, looking down to admire them, then looked up at Alexi and nodded.

“Step up to the platform and we’ll have a looked at the pants first” Alexi waved his hand and Magnus followed the gesture, standing on the platform and having a look at the shirt and pants in the mirror from all angles.  Alexi pulled the sleeve of his own jacket up, exposing the pin cushion he had strapped to his wrist, poised ready for use at any given moment.

“Darling…” Magnus called out to get Alec’s attention.  “Would you bring me my martini please?”.

Alec swallowed and then picked up the glass, this time focusing his eyes on Magnus because, right now, practically every mirrored surface was displaying a reflection of the most beautiful, round, pert ass he had ever laid eyes on.

And judging by the smirk on Magnus’ face he knew damn well what Alec was thinking.  “Thank you my love” he practically purred as Alec handed his glass up to him.

Alexi was already doing his thing.  “We need to bring it in at the hips a little, but the thighs  and calves are a good fit.  The cuffs need to come up just a hair so they brush the shoes… what do you think?” he asked after he had placed the required pins.

Magnus had watched Alexi as he demonstrated what he wanted to do with each point, sipping his drink with his arms crossed over his chest, his biceps pulling against the fabric of his shirt.

“Sounds perfect Alexi” he agreed.

“Wonderful” he stood, having used the stool to demonstrate the pant cuffs, then headed over to the garment bag, pulling out a waist coat then bringing it back.

Magnus stepped down from the platform and handed his glass to Alec, who seemed to have become the assistant, then took the waist coat and slipped his arms through, buttoning it expertly.

Alexi stood back, studying the picture it made from a little further back.  Alec did the same, trying to see if he noticed the same thing, but to him Magnus looked perfect as it was.

“Again, needs to come in a little in the waist” he tapped his forefinger on his chin thoughtfully.  “Turn” he commanded and Magnus did a slow, graceful spin.  “Yes… you’re doing your yoga again”.

Magnus smiled, “I never stopped.  But I have been doing it more often again.  It’s excellent for relaxation and focusing the mind”.

“Humm” Alexi said as he finished pinning the item then went back to the garment bag for the third and final time.  He came back with the jacket and Magnus threw it on like an expert, moving as though his clothes didn’t currently contain numerous sharp pins.

Alexi assisted him in smoothing it out and immediately they both grimaced at the length of the sleeves, Alexi quickly pinning them up. 

“The shoulders look beautiful…” Alexi murmured, “Button the jacket darling”.

Magnus did as he asked and Alexi went about pinching in the waist and pinning it.  Once he was done the two men studied the suit from various angles, Magnus spinning and posing to command to ensure it moved well and fitted appropriately.

Alec was mesmerised, and he decided that this had been the right idea and Magnus absolutely did need that suit.

It was copper, slim line and reflected the light enough to look like it glowed.  The buttons were in fact gold and the jacket lapels were made of silk in the same colour.  They looked soft and shined, and Alec wanted to grab them and drag Magnus into a kiss.

He watched as Alexi gave Magnus the bronze pocket square which Magnus arranged in his jacket, then the bronze tie which Magnus opened the waist coat momentarily to put on.

Finally we had the whole outfit on and Alec lost his breath.

“What do you think love?” Magnus asked.

“nughgh” Alec said, the most intelligent response he could manage.

Magnus grinned at Alexi who had raised an eyebrow.

“I think it has the desired affect?” the shop owner commented.

Magnus nodded, his eyes not leaving Alec’s.  “Absolutely”.

“Why don’t you change back out of this and then you can assist Alec with his own suit” Alexi suggested.  “I have accidently left the tie, pocket square and shoes you selected for him out the back”.

Alec watched Alexi go, deciding it was best not to ogle Magnus as he changed again, knowing that Alexi didn’t ‘forget’ anything, ever.  He’d done it so Alec could change in comfort and the young man was sure it had been pre-arranged by Magnus.  He felt another wave of love for the older man.

“Darling?”.

Magnus’ voice brought him out of his thoughts and he found he was fully dressed, save for his outer coat.

Alec smiled and offered him his martini.  Magnus took it and finished the drink, then put the glass back down on the tray next to Alec’s coffee mug which had been half drunk.

“Shall we?” he said with a teasing tone.

Alec rolled his eyes and headed over to the cubicle on the left, stripping off his own clothes as Magnus opened the garment bag and handed him the pants first.

They were also slim fit and midnight blue, Alec immediately liked the colour.  Magnus gave him a white shirt which he pulled on, then the suits matching jacket.  Alec was thankful Magnus had selected a two piece, he wasn’t fond of a three piece as it made him feel constricted.  But this suit he liked and he found he could move quite freely in it.

“It’s a Dior”, Magnus explained as he smoothed the front down before moving onto the sleeves.  “I saw the colour and I couldn’t resist”.

Magnus took his hand and gently drew him out into the room so he could see himself.

“Do you see yourself as I see you?” Magnus asked him as he looked at Alec in the mirrors.  “You look beautiful.  Tall and lean, the colour makes your eyes stand out and you will be the most breath taking man in that room”.

As he spoke he had wrapped both his arms around one of Alec’s and then lent his head on his shoulder, his eyes flicking all over Alec.

“No Magnus, that title will always go to you” he whispered back.

The door opened then and Alexi came back in, his eyes seeing Alec and he gave a gentle squeal of excitement.

“Oh, good choice Magnus” he praised and held out the shoe box that had a tie and pocket square resting on the top.

Magnus took them and placed the box on the platform, then fitted Alec with the electric blue tie that also sported copper and bronze flowers, the pocket square matching exactly.

“The shoes are Baker McClean…” Magnus explained as he picked them out of the box, “I know you don’t like Louboutin’s.  They’re the cedar calf and blue suede brogues…”.

Magnus placed them on the floor and, when Alec stepped into them, he laced them for him then, holding his hand again, this time so he could balance, he got him to step up onto the platform.  Alec looked over himself in the mirror, he did like to suit and he also realised that the colours Magnus had selected in the tie, pocket square and shoes complimented his own suit.  It meant they were comfortable in clothes that suited their own tastes, but it still sent the message that they were very much a pair.  Alec liked that very much.

Alexi watched the pair interact, fondness in his eyes.  He had known Magnus for many years and he had brought a number of partners here.  But none had been like Alec, and none had received the same level of care, love and attention that Magnus bestowed upon this young detective.  He could see an order for some very special suits in the near future.

Once Alec was balanced and holding himself comfortably, Alexi approached to start pinning the required adjustments.  He noticed Magnus stayed close to his side, teasing him with the names of the dances he intended on making him do after the dinner and awards had been finished.  Alec blushed and tried to reason with him but it just encouraged Magnus further.

And before he even realised it, Alec’s suit had been adjusted and Alexi disappeared again on the pretence of checking on more drinks so Alec could change back into his street clothes.

 “So…” Magnus slinked towards him once Alec was redressed.  “What do you think?”.

“I think you shouldn’t be spending the money on me…” he pointed out, slipping his arm around his waist and pulling him in close.  “But thank you”.

Magnus went up on tiptoe and kissed him, sucking on his bottom lip briefly before pulling away.  “Thank me later” he whispered in his ear just before Alexi returned with the second round of drinks.

Chapter Text

When they pulled up on Lake Drive it was next to the opening for a long driveway, paved with white stone, that swept up and over the crest of a hill.  The house, situated the other side, couldn’t actually be seen from the road at all.

They’d arrived with 20 minutes to spare in the end, so they were pausing for five minutes here and then Woolsey was going to drive up to the property.

“So we know what information we want from them…” Jace said as he stared up the drive, “…but what do we say when they ask us for information?”.

Woolsey nodded, indicating it was a good question.  “We want to be respectful, but at the same time, of course they are going to want to know what happened to their son.  When I did the death notification over the phone they didn’t seem to know the name of the clinic, though they did state the hospital he was working at.  It’s likely they have no idea the clinic was illegal, but a cursory search on the internet will show there is no registered clinic of that name in New York…”.

“So they’ll know it was illegal” Jace commented.

“Yes, so we have to politely ask them to refrain from speaking to the press.  We want to hold details back just in case and… we need to be very careful in telling them about the cause of death” the experienced detective informed him.

“I was thinking victim of a knife crime?” Jace suggested.

Woolsey mulled it over, “Not bad, but let’s not offer it.  If they really push for the specifics, or ask outright, then that’s what we’ll say”.

Jace nodded his understanding.

“And if they keep pushing for details we can always fall back on being unable to talk about an ongoing investigation” he added.

Jace nodded again.

“Are you okay?” Woolsey asked, dipping his head a little to look Jace in the eye.

“Yeah, I’ve done death notifications before.  But this is the first time I’m the detective on the case… I feel like they will ask me a lot more questions than a family member ever asks the guy in a uniform”.

Woolsey shrugged, “Not necessarily, the situations don’t change, just your perception because you’re in a new role.  If you get asked anything where you feel out of your depth just give me a look and I’ll take it from there.  Okay?”.

“Yeah.  Got it” he confirmed.

Woolsey started up the car and, with a glance in the mirror to make sure the road was clear, he pulled forward and made the turn slowly into the drive.

He drove at a respectful speed, knowing they had the time and not wanting to made a bad impression.  It was a relatively short time before they were cresting over the hill and starting down into a small valley, catching the first glimpse of the house that was set back from the lake but definitely close enough to enjoy a spectacular view.

The house itself was modern, two stories and every wall made of large paned glass windows, the frames metal with the sections that weren’t windows made of light wood cladding.

They were actually approaching the rear of the house, until the last moment when the drive swept around the building and they pulled up at the front, which faced the lake. 

Woolsey parked next to flower beds in which grew what looked like purple and grey grasses, spot lights hidden amongst them and pointing to the property. 

As they stepped out and headed for the door, following the drive for 20 yards before it curved round to the left, turning into a pathway that was walled down either side with white bricks.  They walked up three wide steps and approached the front doors which were all glass in the same way as the windows.

Despite a clear view inside, they couldn’t actually see anyone moving around, though lights were on, but there was also no car in the drive other than theirs.

Woolsey nodded at the doorbell, which Jace had stopped closer to, so the younger man rang it and they waited.

“Imagine having the money for all this” Jace murmured as he glanced over his shoulder at the view.

Woolsey looked at him with no small amount of amusement.  “Didn’t you grow up with money?”.

Jace turned back to the house, avoiding his lead detectives eyes.  “Not the first ten years of my life” he admitted.

Woolsey was about to comment when he saw Jace’s eye widen with surprise.

“Shit” he whispered, physically straightening up.  “They have an actual butler”.

Woolsey looked in the same direction and sure enough there was a man heading to the front door, black suit, long tailed jacket, straight back and white gloves.  The whole image was spot on perfect and Woolsey’s eyes widened as he took it in as well.

The man opened the door and waited, watching them expectantly.

Woolsey pulled his badge out of his pocket, Jace pulling the zip of his jacket down so he could drag out his own badge where it was hung around his neck.

“Detective Scott and Detective Wayland” Woolsey introduced the two.  “We should be expected?”.

“Of course, do come in” he said and stepped aside.

The two men walked in and waited while he closed the door.  When he looked pointedly at their shoes and then at the large doormat they were all stood on they took the hint and made a show of wiping the bottom of their shoes.

Once he was satisfied he indicated they could stop with a stiff head tilt and then started to walk further into the house.

“Follow me please” he called over his shoulder and, feeling they had just been commanded by a school teacher, they obeyed immediately.

He led them into the property to a lounge at the rear and, as they walked in the room opened out into a massive space.  There was no second floor above this part of the house, the high ceiling giving the room an airy feel and the two rows of windows let in a huge amount of light. 

The floor was paved with solid grey tiles and the wall to their left which was one of the few without windows, was tiled with grey and white marble, a fireplace build into the wall with logs already burning.  On the floor was a large white rug with patterned black swirls, seating surrounding three edges of it.  A long, white leather four seater couch opposite the fire, two white leather armchairs on one edge and two white leather high back chairs along the other.  In the middle of the rug was a solid black metal coffee table and the couch had black and grey cushions softening the appearance.

“Gentlemen”  Jeeves said, “Please have a seat, Mr and Mrs Gladstone will be with you shortly” and then he was away without another word.

“Maude and Thomas” Woolsey reminded him quietly, “But Mr and Mrs Gladstone until they offer”.

Jace nodded his understanding, even though Alec had taught him that little nugget years ago.  “I am not sitting on these chairs…”.

“Me either, I’m worried I’ll get them dirty” Woolsey added.

They caught the distant click of shoes on the tiled floors and composed themselves again, their mood matching the topic for discussion and then they waited for their young victims parents to arrive.

 

*****

 

Magnus pushed through the double doors, holding on to one so it didn’t close on Alec as he followed close behind.  The doors led into the foyer and Magnus greeted the very tall and impressively wide security manager that was sat on a tall stool next to the cashiers reading a worn Mills & Boon novel.

He looked up when he heard the doors, initially putting an intimidating frown on his face, but as soon as he saw Magnus and Alec he broke out into a welcoming grin.

“Magnus” he stood up, dropping his book onto the counter, then looking over his bosses face carefully.  He caught the look in Magnus eye and chose to ignore the bruises.  “Raphael is already here, said he’d wait in your office”.

“Thank you Pika” he said warmly back at his employee, a slight nod in thanks for understanding and respecting his wishes.

Pika turned to Alec and grinned, “Good to see you too Mr Lightwood…”.

“Alec, please” he asked as he shook the mans hand.

“I’m surprised he got you in here again” he joked, knowing Alec wasn’t much of a clubber or a drinker.

Alec smiled, “It’s not so bad when it’s empty.  And Magnus has talked a lot about the work he’s had done, I really want to see it”.

“Well, enjoy” Pika said, taking his spot back on the stool to keep and eye on the doors.  “It’s pretty impressive in there”.

Alec walked past him and found Magnus waiting at the next set of doors, a soft smile on his face.  He didn’t say anything though, just continued on when Alec caught up, making his way across the floor to the stairs, talking to the all the contractors by name as he passed them.  They dodged a few who were manoeuvring tables and chairs into place, cringed at the sound of drills being used while lighting went up and had to circumnavigate several workers who were up ladders, fiddling with the ceiling lights for the final touches.

They went up three floors to reach the fourth level and crossed the mezzanine to slip through a black leather door that was labelled for staff only.  Inside there was a short corridor, staff toilets to the left and a kitchen/lounge to the right.  The door at the far end said ‘owner’s office’ and stood ajar.

When they pushed through Alec was immediately aware that Raphael had looked up to greet them and instantly noticed the bruising on his friends face.

Que carajo!” he exclaimed with fury, “Who did that to you?!”.

“Calm down Raph” Magnus replied evenly, heading for his desk to the right of the large room.  “It was an accident”.

Raphael’s dark eyes glared at Alec and then looked back to Magnus.  “What kind of accident?”.

“I was accosted by an overly enthusiastic fragrance spritzer in Bloomingdales” Magnus lied, sitting down in his chair and crossing one leg over the other.

Alec stared at him open mouthed, not quite sure where his stories came from but they were slowly becoming more and more ridiculous.

Raphael looked between the two men, knowing something had happened but putting his trust into his friend, at least while Alec was in the room. 

Idiota” he hissed at Magnus, “Have you at least had it looked at by a doctor?”.

Magnus rolled his eyes, “Two actually, nothing is broken and the bruising will be gone in a matter of weeks”.

“What are you going to tell our associates when they arrive?” he pointed out.

“Plastic surgery recovery” Magnus shot back.

Raphael shook his head, “I take it you want coffee?” he asked, changing the subject.

“Only if you intend on making Alec one too?” he smiled sweetly.

Dios ayúdame” he muttered as he walked out of the office.

“You know creating stories just makes it seem even worse” Alec pointed out as he looked around the newly decorated office.  “Raphael already hates me, you’re not helping that change”.

“Oh pish” Magnus waved him off.  “Raph doesn’t hate you, he’s just protective.  I will admit he has gone a little over the top with it, but you can blame Camille for that”.

Alec snorted, his eyes seeing the small bar in the right corner, opposite Magnus desk which sat in front of windows across the entire back wall, opposite the door they had come in, sporting an impressive view of the cityscape. 

In the left corner there was a C shaped, black leather couch which curved around a black wood coffee table that sported gold trimmings.  The couch had burgundy and gold cushions scattered to add comfort and warmth to the seating area, the drapes of the same burgundy were heavy and looked almost velvety in texture.

The floor was dark wood and had been lacquered to a high shine, the only rug sat in front of Magnus large desk, two arm chairs in front of him where any visitors would sit comfortably.  And the whole office was lit by a set of three large hanging lanterns in the middle of the room that gave out a soft yellow glow.

“Magnus…” he had moved into the centre of the room and turned in a circle to take in the whole office,  “this place looks amazing”.

Magnus smiled proudly, “Thank you darling”.

“It’s bigger than before, right?” he commented, his brow furrowed as he tried to remember the setup of his boyfriends old office though he had only glimpsed inside it once.

“Yes, though in my defence it has nothing to do with ego” he teased.  “I wanted to have a place where, should you be here and need somewhere to escape to, you would still be able to sit in comfort, enjoy a few drinks and listen to the music if you wished”.

Alec looked at him in astonishment, “You changed your office… for me?”.

“Well,” his grin widened.  “I wanted an upgrade, but I designed it with you in mind”.

“Magnus…” Alec’s voice was almost breathless, “That’s… no one… I don’t know what to say”.

“You don’t have to say anything love, it’s entirely selfish” his eyes twinkled, “I’m hoping now you know this is here you’ll come by more often”.

Alec grinned at him.  “I can certainly be tempted”.

“Hum” Magnus stood and slinked his way over to his younger boyfriend.  “Of course, you’re joining us for the soft opening and Santana’s birthday”.

“I am” Alec tilted his head down as Magnus pressed himself against his front, his eyes studying his boyfriends to try and see where he was going with this.

“Do you remember…” Magnus trailed his forefinger down Alec’s chest slowly, “…what we did when you moved into the loft?”.

“Unpacked?” he suggested unhelpfully and then drew in a quick breath when Magnus teasingly tweaked a nipple.

“What we did in every room when you moved in?” He looked up at the younger man through long, black lashes and Alec felt a heat stir low in his belly.

“I remember” he smiled shyly, a pink flush grazing his cheekbones.  “You want to do that… here?”.

“Umm hum” Magnus confirmed, his hands sliding around Alec’s waist and pressing them together.  Alec ran his hands down the curve of Magnus back, bringing them rest at the top of his ass.

“We could do that” he pressed his lips to Magnus’, just a soft peck.  “It might be a nice way for the two of us to celebrate the opening” another peck.

Magnus opened his mouth to reply at the same time as Alec realised what he had said.

“Don’t…” and he kissed him, longer and deeper to avoid the predictably lewd remark that had been on the tip of Magnus’ tongue.

Neither of them heard the door open again.

Por el amor de Dios” Raphael muttered, “Can you two just not, please?”.

Magnus drew back, reluctantly, his hands dropping to his sides at the same time as Alec’s.  “We’ll pick this back up at home” he whispered with a wink before turning to his friend.

“Ah,” he took the coffee that was offered out to him, as did Alec, not missing the fact that Raphael wouldn’t look at him.  “Thank you dear” and he took it back to his desk while Alec headed for the couch and flopped down, getting comfortable against the cushions.

“Is he staying for the meeting?” Raphael asked grumpily, sitting in one of the armchairs opposite Magnus.

“He…” Magnus said, not looking at his business manager but focusing on booting up his Mac, “…can answer for himself, all you have to do is ask him”.

Alec rolled his eyes, ‘not helping Magnus’ he thought as he pulled out his phone, which had be returned to him after the fitting when he promised not to work and advising Magnus that he had arranged to play an online game with Max while Magnus was having his meeting.

“I’ll be here…” Alec answered, not wanting to force Raphael to actually ask him again.  “…but pretend I’m not”.  He pulled Air Pods out of his other pocket, sticking them in his ears and then opened the APP to meet Max online.

“There” Magnus smiled at Raphael, “Happy?”.

“Satisfied would be a better description, and now you can tell me what the hell happened to your face” he sat back, crossing his arms over his chest and placing one ankle on the opposite knee.

“Raphael, it was an accident” he reassured.

“But it was Alec?” he asked, an eyebrow raised.

Magnus sighed and slumped back on his seat, “Yes, though I am not prepared to reveal the details.  It was an accident…” he repeated firmly, “…and you will have to trust me”.

“How can I be sure, after Camille…”

“Camille…” Magnus interrupted him, prickling at the mention of his ex’s name, “…was a completely different situation Raphael and I would thank you not to compare the two of them, it is a disservice to Alexander”.

“The ending is the same, you are hurt” he pointed out.

“And I won’t forgive myself”, Alec piped up, one ear bud between his fingers.  He waved it in their direction, “Not noise cancelling and Max isn’t online yet”.

Raphael held his gaze, unapologetic.  “Whether you forgive yourself or not is immaterial.  You still did that…” he pointed at Magnus’ face, “…to someone I consider a father”.

Alec nodded, “I understand, and Magnus is lucky to have you looking out for him.  But I would never, consciously hurt him, I swear.  I was… it was a tough day and I suffered a night terror.  The first one I’ve had in a long time” his eyes drifted over to Magnus who was smiling at him softly.  “I didn’t know it was Magnus, I was stuck in the dream and I lashed out, thinking he was…”.

“Alec”, Magnus said softly to stop him before he had to recount another horror.  He turned to look at Raphael.  “Does that satisfy you?”.

Raphael sniffed at Alec and turned back to Magnus.  “Somewhat”.

Magnus groaned, “Raphael…”.

“It’s okay Magnus” Alec soothed, “He should question it, and he should be angry with me.  I’m angry with myself”.

“You have enough to deal with right now” Magnus reminded him.  “This…” he waved a palm in front of his face, “…is nothing”.

“It’s not nothing…” Alec started to argue again, the guilt creeping in again.

“We are not having this conversation again, let’s fast forward to the end.  You won’t forgive yourself, even though there is nothing to forgive.  So I give you my forgiveness” he said, his eyes completely serious and the smallest amount of irritation.  “Now hush and go back to your game” he ended on a light-hearted tease, and winked again before going back to Raphael.

“Okay, is there anything new I need to know about before Mr Waysmith arrives?” Magnus asked.

“He’s bringing two of his contractors with him” Raphael advised.  “He asked if they could have a look round, wanting to make sure they get the brand right in the two locations.  They want to take some photographs and measurements as well”.

Magnus was nodding as he pulled up his emails at the same time.  “Can you take then around while I meet with Mr Waysmith?” he asked, “I’d rather we didn’t have the meeting and then have to show then around”.

“Keen to get home are we?” Raphael asked, his voice cool.

“Dinner reservations” Magnus smiled at him sweetly which just seemed to irritate Raphael even more but he kept his opinion to himself this time.

“Yes, I will show his contractors around while you go over the timeline with Mr Waysmith.  Which location are you hoping to open first?” Raphael took out his phone to take notes from the meeting, as he did for every one they had.

“London”, Magnus replied instantly.  “We have plenty of give in the timeline for unexpected delays and we can still be open for dear Ragnor’s 50th birthday next year” Magnus announced, clearly very pleased with himself.

“You could have the Paris location open in time for fashion week next year” Raphael said sounding unamused.  “But you decide to open London first because it’s Ragnor’s birthday?”

“Yes” Magnus confirmed.

“Why?”

“Because Ragnor would like to spend his birthday back home in London, and we will be surprising him with a party at the new club” Magnus explained.

“He’ll hate it” Raphael pointed out.

“That’s why I’m doing it” Magnus admitted as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Your making a business decision based on your desire to irritate the man who took you in and straightened you out?” Raphael continued, sounding a little worried for Magnus’ sanity.

Magnus’ eyes flicked over to Alec briefly, well aware that Raphael had just alluded to a part of his past he had not yet shared with his young boyfriend.  But said boyfriend seemed to be well engrossed in his phone, murmuring quietly to his brother that had obviously now joined him online.

Magnus watched him for a moment, how his body had relaxed against the cushions on the couch, the easy smile as he teased and goaded his brother.  By the snippets Magnus could catch they seemed to be playing the military hunt and kill game.  Magnus could only assume that Max was on Alec’s team because that was probably the only type of game Max couldn’t beat his big brother at.

When he looked back to Raphael the younger man seemed to realise he had misspoken and looked decidedly sheepish.

“Apologies Magnus…”.

Magnus waved his hand, dismissing the words.  “It’s one of many things I should have told Alexander, but just never seem to find the right time”.

Raphael sighed, “As much as it pains me to say, you really should let him know”.

Magnus nodded sombrely, “And yet, when I do, it could all change”.

“Why?”.

“It always has in the past” Magnus reminded him sadly.

Another sigh, “As you said, you cannot compare him to the others”.

Magnus smirked at his friend, “Why Raphael, did you just speak kindly of Alec?”.

Raphael groaned, “Not deliberately”.

 

*****

 

“May we offer you something to drink?” Mrs Gladstone said as she sat down on one of the armchairs, back straight, one leg crossed over her other knee, her hands clasped together and resting in her lap.  The white two piece suit she wore would have had her disappearing into the leather of the chair if it wasn’t for her blood red blouse and shoes.

Both Jace and Woolsey shook their heads, Woolsey actually answering for the both of them.

“No, thank you Mrs Gladstone”.

She nodded her head firmly, black hair neatly tucked away in a bun at the nape of her neck.

“You can sit” her husband informed them, himself perched on one end of the couch, tapping a cigarette out of a packet.  When he noticed he was being watched he smiled apologetically.  “Sorry.  It’s an awful habit I know…”.

“Disgusting” his wife spat with just enough volume that they could all hear.

“…but the murder of one’s son tends to cause quite a bit of stress.  Can I really be blamed for falling back onto bad habits?”.

Jace looked between the two, realising that they had taken seats some distance apart.  He had heard that marriages didn’t always survive the loss of a child, though he thought this related to young children, not adults.  But then thinking of Maryse’s pain when Alec… he pushed the thoughts away.  Clearly it didn’t matter how old they were, your children were always your children.

Neither Jace nor Woolsey actually acknowledged his words, whether they agreed with him or his wife, either decision was going to piss off the other so it was best to keep quiet.

“What can we do for you detectives?” Mrs Gladstone asked, breaking the stalemate.

“We were hoping you could help us get to know your son a little better” Woolsey started, “His colleagues speak very highly of him but say he didn’t mix with them socially… he seemed to focus solely on work”.

“Which colleagues?” Mrs Gladstone asked.  “The ones at the hospital where he worked, or the ones in this clinic that he chose to keep a secret?”.

Jace thought she sounded pissed about that, he wondered why.

Woolsey wasn’t phased by her tone though.  “Both actually”.

“He didn’t mix much” Mr Gladstone remarked, puffing on his cigarette and staring into the fire.  “He was a happy little boy, always running around with the children of the neighbourhood.  But then…”.

“Thomas” Mrs Gladstone snapped.

Woolsey looked at her, eyes slightly narrowed.

She met his stare, unflinching.  “He spent some time in the hospital when he was 10.  It…changed him…”.

Mr Gladstone snorted but she ignored him.

“He became withdrawn, focused on his studies.  It paid off, we were very proud when he graduated medical school”.

“Why was he in the hospital?” Woolsey asked.

Her dark brown eyes looked almost black in the light, he could see the flames from the fire reflecting in them.  “That is personal, and has no bearing on his death”.

“With all due respect…” Woolsey said calmly.  “That’s for us to decide”.

“He had an accident, in one of the boat houses” she replied.  “No one was to blame”.

Woolsey inclined his head in thanks and acceptance that this was likely unrelated.

“Did he have any friends?” Woolsey continued, trying to get some sense of the man they were seeking justice for.  “Maybe a partner?”.

She shook her head, “He had his work.  He was very committed”.

Woolsey felt he was running out of questions, there didn’t seem to be anything they could give him that would provide them with a lead, or even a direction to look in.

“Is there anything you can tell us?” he asked finally.

“Is there anything you can tell us?” Mrs Gladstone asked, though her tone was slightly different.

“What would you like to know?” the lead detective asked.

“How did our son die?” she demanded.

“He was the victim of a knife crime” Woolsey replied, using Jace’s suggested explanation.

“In that god awful clinic” she stated.

Woolsey nodded, “Do you know why he was working there?”.

“I didn’t even know he was working there” she glared over at her husband, a look that Woolsey didn’t miss.

“Mr Gladstone?” he asked.

“He said he wanted to reach out to a more… diverse community” he replied, still staring into the fire.

Mrs Gladstone tsked.  “I have no idea why he suddenly had a desire to help those people”.

Jace looked at Woolsey, who turned back to her.  “Those people?” he asked.

She straightened her back further.  “Gays and the rest of those… sorts”.

“I believe ‘they’ belong to the LGBTQ+ community” he corrected coolly and Mr Gladstone sniggered quietly at his wife’s obvious discomfort.

“I think we’re done” she said, standing.

As she did so the butler miraculously appeared and stood to the side of the door they had come in, a clear ‘I’ll see you out’ message.

They started to walk out but Jace paused as he came level with her.  “May I ask, when was the last time you saw your son Mrs Gladstone?”.

“He had dinner with us every Sunday” she answered.  “But we he also attended a benefit with us the Thursday before he…” she trailed off and he saw her eyes were wet.

He gave her a sympathetic smile, “I’m sorry for your loss Mrs Gladstone”.

She looked at him with surprise and for a brief moment her face softened.  “Thank you detective”.

Chapter Text

Alec finally said goodbye to Max when he heard their mom screaming at him for the fifth time to get off the game and come down for his dinner, and he could practically hear the eyeroll in Max’s voice as he said his goodbyes.

He pulled the AirPods out and put them in his pocket, opening his Kindle APP and selecting one of his favourite books to read.  His thumb had hovered over his email APP but he’d made Magnus a promise, so he bypassed it and went straight for his books.

Flicking through the titles he decided he was looking for some escapism, something that was completely different from everyday life.  When he got to Lord of the Rings he couldn’t resist and opened it up, settling in for a long read while tuning out Magnus and Raphael who were discussing the finer points of their timelines in both London and Paris.

It was an hour later when Raphael’s cell rang and when he answered, it was Pika advising him that their guests had arrived.

Raphael told the security manager that he would be down to collect them momentarily and then slipped his cell back away.

Magnus stood and started to straighten out his suit, undoing the steps he had taken to make himself comfortable while they waited.  He rolled the sleeves of his lavender shirt back down and secured them at his wrists with his cufflinks.  He did up the top button on his shirt as he headed for a door next to the couch that led into his private washroom.

Once inside he straightened his tie, checked his make up (which was still on point, no surprise there) and gave his hands a thorough wash.  Back out in the main office he grabbed his suit jacket from the back of his chair and swung it across his back, sliding his arms in and buttoning it, then taking a moment to smooth it down.

It was at that point he realised he was being watched.

He smirked at Alec, “Can I help you detective?”.

“Maybe later”, Alec mused, a smirk on his own lips.

Magnus raised an eyebrow, both surprised and delighted with his boyfriends flirt.  “I believe that was a verbal contract” he warned.

Alec snorted, “Like I’d actually go back on a promise”.

The older man beamed at him.  “Well, we have dinner reservations after this… and your sister is staying with us…”.

“Not in our bedroom Magnus” he rolled his eyes and Magnus felt actual, real life joy at the glimpses of a less stressed Alec that were peeking through.

“Thankfully” he muttered.  “So, how do I look?”.

“Professional” he answered, running his eyes up and down Magnus’ body.  “Beautiful”.

Magnus preened and then blew Alec a kiss from his side of the room.  “Thank you darling”.

Alec stood from the couch and stretched, then wandered over to the bar to collect a bottle of water.  He waved it in Magnus’ direction but he shook his head.

“I’ll wait for my guests” he explained.

Alec nodded and wandered back to the couch, opening the bottle and taking a swig.  When he sat down this time he sat on the edge, intending on standing to greet Magnus’ new project manager when he arrived.

“You don’t have to stay” Magnus reminded him.  “You are welcome to roam around freely, I’m sure Pika would like to go through some of the new security details with you?”.

Alec’s lips twitched up at the corners but it couldn’t be classed as a smile exactly.  “I think I’ll come by another day for that.  I’m actually enjoying the break from thinking about threats”.

Magnus gave him an understanding smile.

“Unless…” Alec suddenly said, his eyes wide, “…you’d rather I make myself scarce?”.

“Absolutely not” he retorted in a tone that implied Alec was an idiot.  “Not now and not ever”.

Alec gave him that lopsided grin and as he nodded his head in understanding that unruly curl of raven head fell across his forehead and Magnus felt his heart jump.

“Then I will say hi, but otherwise I will sit right here and read” he promised.

“I love you” Magnus said suddenly and, as far as Alec could tell, for absolutely no reason.

“You’d better” the younger man replied, his grin widening.  “Because I love you as well”.

Magnus was about to respond when the door opened and Raphael returned with three men following him so Alec stood up again, placing his water bottle on the coffee table, leaving his hands free.

“Magnus…” Raphael stood to the side so Magnus could approach the newcomers.  “…this is Mr Waysmith…”

“Lucas” he corrected as Magnus and he shook.

“…and his contractors from London and Paris.  Mr Bloodowl and Mr Silverbrook” he finished as the other two men stepped forwards.

“Ed” one of them said as he gripped Magnus hand firmly.

“Brad” said the other, his grip slightly lighter than the first.

“Good to meet you all at last” Magnus smiled his professional but welcoming smile and then turned to indicate Alec should step forward.  “This is Alec Lightwood, my boyfriend” he introduced with no small amount of pride.

Lucas seemed surprised but didn’t hesitate to shake his hand.  “I was unaware that your boyfriend worked for you as well?”.

“Oh, no” Magnus corrected, “Alec is a detective with the NYPD…” again there was that pride in his voice, “…he’s here in advance of our dinner reservations”.

“Ah” the project manager said.  “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you”.

Alec nodded at him, having finished shaking the contractors hands.  “You too”.

“I am going to show Mr Bloodowl and Mr Silverbrook around the building” Raphael confirmed, “They have a few specific things they would like to see.  I’ll bring them back the moment they have finished”.

Magnus nodded and smiled at his manager, then watched as the three left the room before turning back to Lucas.  “Drink?” he asked.

“Water” he said, “Carbonated if you have it?”.

“Absolutely” and he headed over to the bar.

Alec returned to his place on the couch and picked up his phone so he could continue with his book, but it wasn’t long before curiosity got the better of him and he covertly surveyed the man that Magnus was meeting.

He was neat, his charcoal two piece suit was mid-range (when the hell did he learn to recognise that!) but creaseless and well fitted.  His white shirt was classic and the black tie with grey stripes matched his overall image.  It screamed ‘bland businessman’ but Alec also noticed a couple of other details.  His shoes were polished to a high shine, he stood with a rigid spine, shoulders squared and chin up, not to mention the neatly trimmed, snow white hair.  To Alec it screamed military background and he found himself wondering what brought Lucas Waysmith to project management.

His cell pinged with a message and he shook his head, pushing his musings away to open the text.  It was Max sending him a picture of their mom who looked like she was midway through a scolding, likely about him using his phone at the dinner table.  So Max being Max used it again to take the picture just to wind her up a little more.

He chuckled softly to himself, sent Max a message to tell him to put his phone away and not tease their mom then went back to his book, phasing out the meeting that was happening around him.

 

*****

 

At some point Alec had obviously won his phone back from Magnus because he had sent a message to ask how things were going. 

Lydia had ignored it.  She also ignored the next three but on the final one she text back saying that if he didn’t quit it and rest she would forward all of his messages to Magnus and get his phone confiscated again.  She couldn’t repeat what he had text back, but his emoji game was on point for once.

She was just slipping her cell back into her pocket when Maia came through the door, a bag from Java Jones in her hand.

“Please tell me there is a meatball sub in there” Lydia asked, desperation in her eyes.

Maia stuck her hand inside and pulled out the foil package and threw it across the table where is was caught by Lydia, her face brightening immediately.

“I also got Andrew the ham, cheese and mustard” she said as she sat down and pulled out her own Reuben.  “Slow day equals crappy food”.

“I take it your day was no better than mine and Luke’s?” she asked, unwrapping her sub.

Maia was working on her own sub in synch with the deputy lead.  “I spoke to the couple who were originally there for the extracurricular services.  They were approached by Agnes in a swingers club, she noticed that Mr Luxford looked very nervous by the crowd so spoke to them about their service offer.  Turns out he had never swung before but Mrs Luxford had, they decided it might ease him into it so booked a session”.

Lydia finished chewing and swallowing her first bite, looking up when Andrew came in, letting the door swing shut behind him.

“I take it there’s nothing suspicious about them?” she asked.

Maia shook her head, “No, clean as a whistle.  Genuinely terrified when we turned up on their doorstep then immensely relieved when we didn’t arrest them”.

Lydia looked at Andrew as he retrieved the final sub from the bag.  “City of Glass want a warrant before they will give us the list of entrants to Carlos’ apartment” he explained, “I’ve sent the request to Aline”.

She sighed, “I suppose we really should have predicted that” she muttered.

“Andrew and I also worked our way around ten customers, managing to speak with six of them, we have messages in with the others to call us” Maia explained.  “Again, nothing of note”.

“Luke and I had about the same results, though we managed to speak to five” Lydia advised them.  “That leaves us a total of nine calling us back and 25 to get through tomorrow and Saturday…”.

“Morning” Andrew finished her sentence for her around a mouthful of his sub.  “We have the award ceremony in the evening”.

Lydia and Maia groaned in unison.

Andrew looked at the pair of them, a soft smile on his lips.  “Come on ladies.  Black tie event, standing up in front of the brass, politicians and the mayor… what’s not to look forward to”.

Lydia snorted at him.  “You’re not the one that has to squeeze themselves into a 10 year old Dior, 4-inch heels and address both make-up and hair after spending a day flatfooting it around this polluted city.  No amount of showering and perfume is going to cover up that smell”.

“Hey, I’ll be working too” Andrew pointed out with mock indignation.

“You will also be able to wear a suit” she pointed out, just managing to get her sub over the packaging before she lost half a meatball and a blob of sauce down her shirt.

“I’m wearing a suit” Maia pointed out, opening her sub and picking out the tomato.

Lydia looked at her in surprise.  “Really?”.

She shrugged, “Just let them try and refuse me entry.  Jordan and I have matching tuxes, we rented them from his uncle’s, sister-in-law’s, cousin’s place… or something like that.  I don’t know, I gave up listening”.

“Stephen coming?” Lydia asked Andrew.

Andrew nodded, “Yep, with this whole moving house thing…” he shook his head.  “We need a night off”.

“You bringing him?” Maia asked Lydia with a teasing smirk.

She rolled her eyes.  “Yes, I am bringing Julian”.

Andrew and Maia exchanged a high-five, earning them a vicious glare but deciding it was completely worth it.

“Do we know who else is attending?” Andrew asked.

“Jace is bringing Clary” Maia immediately confirmed her ex-partner had agreed to go.

“Simon’s still in Vegas” Andrew confirmed, “But Izzy said she’d be there, apparently with a plus one but she’s keeping their identify quiet”.

“Hum” Lydia responded, “Intriguing.  Luke and Maryse will be there”.

“Are we taking bets on whether Alec actually turns up?” Maia asked.

Lydia and Andrew stared at her.

“Right…” she nodded, “The Plaza, dinner, dancing… no way Magnus is missing that”.

 

*****

 

They slipped out of the car, closing their doors and by the time they had met in front of the hood, Magnus had locked it. 

The ground was wet and puddled, the rain coming in showers that had been on and off all day, which was why Magnus currently had the curved handle of a large black umbrella hung over his lower arm.  With his other hand he reached out to Alec, who took it with a smile and then Magnus led them away from the parking lot with a purpose.

“Are you going to tell me where we’re going?” Alec asked with some trepidation, having experienced Magnus’ surprises before, their results were… mixed to say the least.

“Nope” and he popped the ‘p’ deliberately, throwing a grin to the younger man as they joined the sidewalk.

Alec was familiar with the area, it was still Brooklyn after all, but he couldn’t remember Magnus having brought him here before.  He’d been promised dinner so he knew they were heading for a restaurant, and Magnus had promised he would make the dinning experience comfortable for him, but he didn’t have any favourite eateries in this locale.

The sidewalk wasn’t particularly busy, and they passed various smaller stores selling various goods, many of them clothing, jewellery, shoes, skin care and gift related.  He didn’t see any groceries, banks or offices in the area.  And definitely no restaurants.

“You’re up to something” he said, breaking the comfortable silence that had fallen as he surveyed his surroundings.

Magnus looked at him with mock shock, pressing a hand to his chest.  “Aku?” he said in Indonesian.

“Yes” Alec replied, “Anda”.

And Magnus beamed in delight when Alec used his homeland language.  “I admit nothing”.

“Considering how much you hate surprises, you sure do pull enough of them” Alec pointed out good naturedly.

Magnus simply smiled enigmatically and then, with a gentle tug, pulled Alec down a dimly lit side street.  Halfway down he changed direction again, and they crossed the narrow road, heading for a large building that was two stories and made of old, brown brick.  The ground floor had a large door, between grey pillars that held up a flat, black canopy.  The canopy also served as the building’s sign and he realised they were heading for the Midnight Theatre.

The Midnight Theatre had been built over 150 years ago and was converted into a single screen cinema in the early 1900’s.  It went through several upgrades before being closed down, loosing money and unable to keep up with the multiplexes.  Then, two years ago, brothers had purchased the building and, while keeping as many of the original features as possible they had turned it into a dinning/movie experience.  It quickly became very popular.

He had wanted to try it, had even mentioned it months ago to Magnus but they had both been so engrossed in work and getting ready to go away that it had slipped their mind.  Well, Alec’s mind.  Magnus had clearly been making plans, though exactly when Alec had no idea.

Now though, he had mixed feelings.  He had wanted somewhere quiet with Magnus, somewhere they couldn’t be surrounded by the hum of other couples or groups.  So as eager as he was to try, he still felt his chest tighten with anxiety.

Magnus glanced at him just then and Alec was sure he had sensed something, so he put on his best smile and pushed through it, not willing to disappoint Magnus after everything he had done for him.

Magnus smiled back and then led him in through the doors where they were greeted by what Alec assumed was one of the brothers.

“Mr Bane!” he smiled broadly and held out his hand, Magnus shaking it with the umbrella still hanging off his arm.  “Oh, let me take that” the man said with a smile.

“Please, call me Magnus.  And this is Alec” he replied as he let the man take the umbrella then he stripped out of his coat, Alec following his lead.

“Magnus” he bowed his head respectfully and took their coats.  “I am James Snowstride” he introduced himself.

“Ah, we spoke on the phone” Magnus identified him as the brother he had spoken with.

“Yes” he continued to speak with Magnus as he stored their coats and the umbrella in the closet.  When he was done he walked to the front doors and closed them against what appeared to be another rain shower starting.  “My brother prefers to stay in the back office, but I do love to meet the customers”.

Alec watched the exchange, eyes slightly narrowed as he was sure something was going on.  The man… James, may be a people person but he was being very attentive at the moment.

“Please” he said suddenly, indicating to the double doors into the theatre, “Follow me”.

Alec suddenly felt Magnus’ hand taking his, his warm, soft skin sliding against Alec’s callused palms and he looked at his older boyfriend then gave him a soft, ‘I’m okay’ smile as Magnus seemed to look a little concerned.

He nodded and they followed their guide into the main room and, as soon as they were through the door, two things came to Alec’s attention at the same time.

The first was how beautiful the room was.  They had kept the ornate ceiling, the decorative mouldings and wall panelling.  Chandeliers hung low and there were soft lamps on the tables, giving the place a warmth that was welcoming.

The chairs and tables weren’t actually traditional for a restaurant.  There were red velvet armchairs that were arranged in sets of two, the table placed between them so you actually faced forward, toward the screen while the table for your food was to your left or right, depending on which chair you sat in.  For added comfort, each chair had a square footstool of the same red velvet that could be moved to suit the customer.  And they had stripped out a third of the seating, allowing for comfortable dinning where you weren’t sat right next to strangers.

The second thing he noticed was that the place was empty.  They appeared to be the only customers there and Alec started to wonder if they were too early or too late.

“We have set the table for the central location” James explained as he weaved his way through the empty seats, Magnus leading Alec after him.  “It’s in the centre of the screen as well as the room so you won’t be too close when the film starts”.

James stopped next to the only table that had place settings and a jug of water with glasses then waited for them to sit before pulling the menu’s from a pocket in the back of the armchairs and handing one to each. 

“I will give you a few moments to decide what you would like to eat.  May I fetch you drinks in the meantime?”

“Martini please, dirty with three olives” Magnus asked, taking the menu.

“Any bottled IPA please” Alec replied, still looking around and wondering why they seemed to be alone.

“I’ll be back in a moment” and he rushed off to fetch their drinks.

Alec watched after him, trying to peer out into the lobby when he went through the door to see if there was anyone out there.  When he turned back to Magnus he saw him, elbow on the table, chin in his hand and amused smile on his lips.

“What have you done?” he asked suspiciously.

“Sooooo…” he drew out the word, well aware he was about to be in trouble.  “…I may have reserved the whole restaurant”.

Alec stared at him.

Magnus waited.

Alec continued to stare.

Magnus lifted his head from his hand, starting to worry.

Alec opened his mouth, then closed it again without saying anything.

Magnus sat up and licked his lips, “Are you okay love?”.

“You reserved the whole restaurant?” he repeated quietly.

“Yes” and he winced, still waiting for the scolding.

“Why?” Alec asked, still relatively calm.

Magnus sighed softly, “Because you’ve wanted to come here and I wanted to bring you today.  I thought it would be a nice ending to a day together but I also know how busy it gets and, after the fitting, I didn’t think you would want to be surrounded by strangers so…”

He was cut off mid-babble when Alec lent over the table and pressed a firm kiss to his lips, sliding a hand into the short hair at the nape of his neck.

Magnus leaned into the kiss, parting his lips so he could nip at Alec’s bottom one and then Alec drew away with a shy smile.

“Thank you” he said, eyes glistening but Magnus couldn’t tell if it was the lights or unshed tears.  “For the whole day.  It was perfect and… I needed this”.

“You also deserve this” Magnus told him, sliding his hand over the table and placing it on top of his boyfriends.

James arrived back with their drinks but they kept a hold of one another, asking for a little longer to look though the menu.  James smiled and headed away again, promising to return again shortly.

Alec took his eyes off Magnus long enough to look at the menu and was delighted to see a range of burgers, hot dogs, fries, pizzas and subs.  He looked through carefully and made his selection, looking up expecting to find Magnus still browsing, but he was sipping his drink and watching Alec carefully.

“Are you not eating?” he asked, completely baffled.

“Of course” he answered with amusement, “but I looked at the menu earlier when I called…”.

“Wait” Alec held up a hand, palm out.  “You arranged all of this today?”.

“Umm hum” he replied, taking another sip.

“But…” he looked around again.  “what about the people who had reservations already?”.

“Ah, well.  I made it worth the Snowstride brothers while and have also provided reimbursement so they can offer vouchers to the patrons who were cancelled”.

Alec’s mouth was open again.

Magnus smiled at him over the edge of his glass.

“Magnus… they might have been celebrating something special” he protested.

“I don’t care” Magnus replied without pause and then he continued quickly when Alec looked shocked.  “I normally would care, of course.  But not today” he said, his tone going serious.  “Today is for you, and you are more important than anyone else”.

Alec felt a squeeze in his chest and this time it had nothing to do with anxiety but everything to do with the love he felt for the perfect man in front of him.  He did still feel a little guilty for those that’d had to change their plans quickly, but it was marginal and he tucked it away so he could ignore it.

“We will talk about the amount of money you must have gone through today” Alec said softly, well aware of footsteps heading in their direction.

“As I have said before Alexander, if I cannot spend it on you who will I spend it on” and he winked.

“Gentlemen” James announced himself.  “Are you ready to order?”.

“Yes, thank you James” Magnus said, finally looking away from Alec.  “I’ll have the beef patty on the brioche bun with peppers, avocado and gorgonzola”.

“I’d also like the beef patty in the brioche bun but with the bacon, cheddar and smoked onion please” Alec ordered.

“Excellent” James said, not taking any notes on their order.  “All of the burgers some with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato, as well as fries of course”,

Magnus nodded as James took the menu’s back, “I’ll take another martini as well please James”.

The man bowed his head again and then hurried away, leaving them in peace while they waited for their food.

“So…” Alec looked at the screen.  “How does this work?  Burgers and fries will be a bit messy in the dark?”

“The movies comes after the food darling” he placed his drink on the table.

“And the movie is…?” he asked.

Magnus eyes sparkled, “It Happened One Night” he answered and Alec’s laugh was music to his ears, especially as it was a full bellied one.

“I have been wanting to watch this with you for so long…” Magnus said.

“I’m aware” Alec added, still amused.

“…and low and behold, they had it available” Magnus continued as though he hadn’t spoken.

“Okay” Alec picked up his own drink and took a swig from the bottle.  “I guess you’ve waited long enough to watch this together”.

“I promise you’ll love it” he reassured.

“Magnus, I’ll love it because you love it” he vowed.

Magnus sighed with contentment.  “Alexander, I have had a wonderful day with you today.  I miss being able to spend so much time together”.

Alec chuckled again, “We just got back from vacation Magnus”.

“And I miss it already”

Alec took another swig and thought about what Magnus was saying, then he broke out into a smile.  “Yeah, me too”.

Chapter Text

When they’d arrived at the location it was in the darkness just before dawn and Lilith’s driver had, as instructed, hung back on the hillside overlooking the small town that was built in the valley.  She sat in the back seat, next to one of her minders, focused on her emails while the rest of the raiding party carried on down the slope to the village and located the property in question.

As she opened an email from Malcolm advising that he had received delivery of the package and would be attending the meeting that very day.  She read through what his plans were for the meeting, ignoring the distant booms as their first team breached the building, the pops of the following gun shots and some of the louder shouts that were carried in their direction by the wind. 

It was the latter that quickly got annoying.  She thought she had chosen a location far enough away that the voices wouldn’t heard, it was grating on her nerves and she was about to instruct her driver to back up when all noise was cancelled out by a large explosion.

She looked out of the window as the horizon lit up with whites, yellows and reds of the blast and the proceeding fire from below.

“For fuck sake…” she groaned with irritation.  “They were told to be subtle, covert.  Who the fuck brought explosives?!”.

She looked at the man beside her as though he would have the answer, but he just shrugged.

“So find out!” she yelled and he immediately jumped out of the car, pulling his cell out as he did.  “Je travaille avec des idiots” she mumbled under her breath, turning back to look out of her own window.

The sun had breached the mountains now, soaking the valley with early morning light and she started to get a glimpse of the mayhem below them.  She could see that the main section of the property they had raided had collapsed in on itself, leaving the smaller boarder buildings standing.  She could see locals from the surrounding properties running away from the men that were dressed in black tactical gear.  A third of her men were setting up a perimeter, trying to catch those who were leaving and check their identities, a third were helping those they could out of the building and the final third… well she assumed they were underneath the rubble.

The door opposite her opened and she faced her minder as he bent down to look in, cell still in his hand.  “The explosion was from inside the building.  Alter One says it definitely wasn’t us, he thinks one of the team may have triggered a trap”.

She sighed and jerked her head, indicating he should get back inside.  He followed her orders and before he could get his belt around him she tapped her driver on the shoulder and he started down the hill to meet up with whoever she had left.

As they followed the road down the town fell out of view so she turned her attention to the mountains in the east, the sun slowly climbing higher and higher, bringing out the reds and oranges in the dirt that covered the valley floor and made up the rock that formed the mountains.

Many found her homeland bleak and stifling, but she found that no matter where she travelled or how luxurious  the places she visited were, she always missed home.  Some may think of Edom as a hellish landscape but to her it was where she felt most powerful.  And once she found and dealt with the last of the royal bloodline, no one would be able to say that she didn’t belong here.

They finally came around the edge of the hillside and drove through the gate that was hanging off its hinges before her driver slowed to a stop, one of the men in black, gun hanging from his shoulder, waved them to the side so he could walk around to speak with her through the window.

She lowered it, putting her sunglasses on at the same time, the light not an issue but the dust still floating around in the air was.

“Definitely a trap” he explained, “We found similar ones in the buildings on the property boarder”.

“Was it a set up?” she asked, her thoughts going back to the man and his wife that were locked up in their own compound, whose stuttered words had led them here in the first place.

Alter One shook his head.  “I don’t think so.  The place is deserted and from the state of the inside I’d say for a while.  The neighbours said they haven’t seen any occupants for a good few months but there were people living here, we have sightings… suggested.  Though the description isn’t exact”.

She took a deep calming breath and face forward.  “So, we have no leads?”.

“We’ll get in there, go through what we do recover, talk to the neighbours in more detail, and I’ll have a final answer for you.  But I’m not hopeful, they usually cover their tracks thoroughly and I don’t see why it would be any different here”.

She nodded.  “Fine, get on with it”.

“Do you want a report on who we lost?” he asked.

Lilith looked at him again, “Why?” she asked coolly.

He shrugged, “So we know who we need to replace”.

She thought about that for a moment, wondering if she was supposed to care that people had died.  She decided that she probably should care as a leader, but the only time she had ever felt a loss was when Malcolm had delivered the news that her son was dead.

“Just a number” she replied and then closed her window, tapping her driver on the shoulder again to indicate she was ready to go.

He executed a smooth 180O and started the 3 hour journey back to their home compound.  The trip gave her time to think about her next move, knowing the longer it took to find him the more likely it would be that she’d start to lose grip on the power she had gained.  She had been looking for them all since the war began and had found all bar one, the one final thorn in her side and once he was gone there would be nothing to stop her laying claim to the whole of Edom. 

Sighing to herself she used her cell to fire off a message to Malcolm, advising him she had concluded her business in Edom and would be making preparations to meet him in New York some time the following week.

 

*****

 

Alec let his head fall back against the mattress, closing his eyes and just letting himself feel.  He felt the satin sheets beneath him, the sweat trickling down his temples and neck.  He felt the cool breeze fluttering over his naked skin from the vented window and, by contrast, he even felt the heat from the candles on the bedside table close to his head.

But what he felt most was Magnus, and in so many different ways.  He felt his lips on this neck, sucking marks over the tattoo that he so loved.  His hands, one gripping Alec’s own, fingers entwined and holding it firmly against the mattress, while the other ran ringed fingers through Alec’s tousled locks.  He felt Magnus’ chest and stomach, pressing down just enough to pin Alec to their bed, but not enough that Alec felt restricted.  And he felt his lover, rocking slowly between his legs, moving in and out of him in a rhythm that was keeping Alec teetering on the edge of oblivion.

When they had returned home after dinner and the movie, it had been late and a note from Izzy had advised them she had gone to bed early with Laila, who’d had a particularly restless day, but she had left food in the oven for them.  They were immensely grateful they had eaten out.

They had showered together, keeping it functional so Magnus could judge what Alec needed.  And when they stepped out, Magnus had felt he could confidently suggest a massage to help Alec relax, the goal was aiding him to sleep better that night.  Alec had accepted, knowing Magnus’ hands had worked magic in the past and he hoped they would work it again. 

It had all started so innocently, but the massage had quickly turned into heavy petting, which had crossed the fine line into foreplay and then, at Alec’s request, Magnus had prepped him slowly and lovingly, still carefully studying his reactions.  He’d driven Alec to the edge once with just his fingers and his mouth, and now he was slowly trying to push Alec into the sweetest kind of insanity he had ever experienced.

“Magnus…” he whispered breathlessly.

“Humm” the older man responded, lips still pressed against Alec’s neck, his hips curling around Alec as he slid inside of him, pressing deep and dragging over his prostrate.

Alec let out a jagged breath at the feeling, then tried to collect his thoughts again, “Will you… I need…” he couldn’t think as every drag in and out of him pulled his body tighter each time.  And the gasping moans that escaped Magnus every time he pushed in were encouraging him closer and closer to his climax.

Magnus lifted his head up, rubbing his nose along the side of Alec’s as he watched his eyes open, seeing very little hazel because his pupils were so widely dilated.

“Tell me sayang, what do you need?” he asked softly.

“Will you… move harder” he asked, his voice desperate.

“No love” he replied, lips brushing against his ear, “Not this time”.

Alec whined with frustration, “Why not?”.

Magnus’ eyes returned to Alec’s, his lips brushing over his boyfriends as he answered him.  “Because I love you” he told him tenderly.

Alec moaned and squeezed his eyes shut, tears escaping from the corners and running down his temples, into his hair.

Magnus’ rhythm stuttered to a stop, “Alec?” he asked worriedly, his own voice laced with concern suddenly.

“It’s happy tears” the younger man reassured, his voice hoarse, “I’m happy, don’t stop” he begged.

“Alexander…” Magnus started to draw away but Alec wrapped his long legs around his waist, pushing his heels down onto the small of Magnus’ back to push him closer again.

Alec’s free hand came up to cup Magnus’ cheek and he opened his eyes again.  “I’m good, don’t stop” he whispered, his voice determined.

Magnus dropped his head closer and kissed him, deeply, all tongue and teeth and Alec moaned into his mouth, rocking his hips up as Magnus’ moved his down.  Their bodies danced together, the heat building again and Magnus had to tear himself away from the kiss so he could pull in a deep breath.  He released Alec’s other hand so he could use both of his own to support himself, his rhythm gathering pace.

Magnus looked down at his boyfriend in wonder.  His hair stuck to his forehead that glistened with sweat, his eyes closed again, thick, black lashes resting against cheekbones that were flushed pink.  Red, kiss swollen lips that were slightly parted, letting out small grunts on every breath Magnus pressed out of him each time he drove himself inside.  Alec looked like sin incarnate and Magnus didn’t think he could hold on much longer.

Alec felt himself nearing the edge quickly and he slid his hand onto the gap between them, wrapping his fingers around himself and stroking in time with his lovers thrusts.  His other hand went to Magnus’ ass, using what little strength he had left to encourage Magnus to move deeper.

“Fuck…” Magnus breathed out in a strained voice, propping himself up higher so he could watch Alec work himself, “Fuck Alec, you’re beautiful…”.

“Magnus…” he uttered his boyfriends name as he reached the edge and then fell, his stomach clenched as each wave of his orgasm rolled through him.  As he gave himself over to the pleasure he was aware that Magnus’ thrusts had become erratic until, with a groan that vibrated through the older man’s chest, he gave a two final, deep, firm thrusts as he let his own pleasure go, filling Alec with his release.

Alec’s hands flopped down weakly to the bed, his legs following close behind, just as Magnus’ strength failed him and he collapsed down on top of his young lover.  Both men were heaving for breath, bodies slick with sweat and exhausted beyond the ability for anything other than happy huffs and sloppy kisses.

Alec actually thought he had dozed for a while, only being brought back to reality when he felt Magnus start to move, slipping out of him and his weight and warmth lifting from his body.

“Ugh” Alec complained tiredly, “Where are you going?”.

Magnus chuckled softly as he crawled backwards, kissing Alec’s inner thigh as he continued to move away.  “I’m going to get a cloth love, I’ll be right back” he promised in a whisper.

With Magnus gone Alec stretched out his legs, groaning a little at the stiffness in his hips but delighting in the aches and the leftover tingling heat on his skin. 

Magnus was true to his word, returning with a warm cloth and tenderly running it over Alec’s chest and belly before dispensing of it in the hamper. 

Alec felt the bed dip as Magnus came back the second time and, with very little coaxing, he was able to manoeuvre the younger man up to the pillows and then covered them both with the quilt, encouraging Alec to curl into him so he could warp his arms around him.

Alec had barely opened his eyes as Magnus had cleaned him then pulled him into his arms to sleep.  He was pliant, relaxed, happy and utterly satiated.  Sleep was beckoning but he mustered the energy for one last, very important thing.

“I love you Magnus” he muttered into his boyfriends chest.

“You’d better” Magnus replied, smiling broadly and pressing a kiss into Alec’s raven curls, knowing the younger man was asleep before he’d finished the second word.  With that knowledge he closed his own eyes and let sleep take him, feeling that tonight, they both might get some of the rest that they desperately needed.

 

*****

 

He stood before the mirror and straightened his tie until he was satisfied with his appearance.  With that done he looked down at the top of the dresser, picking up his watch and putting it on, clicking the latch into place before readjusting his cuff over it.

He was about to move away when he heard and knock on his door and, checking the time on the wall clock he decided it was likely his breakfast so he headed across his hotel room and opened it, only to be faced with Bloodowl and Silverbrook.

They were 30 minutes early, perhaps he was having a positive influence.

“Come in” he said and stepped aside, “Have a seat.  I am expecting breakfast, would you like some also?”.

Bloodowl and Silverbrook looked at each other briefly then him and nodded.

He walked to the desk that was beneath the wall mounted television, opened a drawer and pulled out the menu, handing it over to Bloodowl so they could decide what  they wanted.

Ten minutes later he was adding an egg sandwich with manchego, sprouts, sriracha and bacon and eggs en cocotte with brioche toast and bacon to his original breakfast order of red onion and smoked salmon bagel with poached eggs over lentils and quinoa.

While he was calling in the order Bloodowl and Silverbrook took seats in the lounge area of his suite, one in an armchair and one on the two seater couch, waiting for him to join them.  They were silent, small talk wasn’t something any man in that room was either good at nor saw the need for.  They were here to receive details of the next step in the plan and that was it.

Malcolm was about to sit in the other chair when he cell went off.  He checked the caller ID and saw who it was, holding a finger up to his visitors to indicate that he needed a few moments.

As the weather was relatively dry he stepped out on his balcony to answer the call.

“Ma’am” he said.

“I’ll be arriving Thursday” Lilith advised him.  “Is the plan in place?”.

“One is” he replied.  “We have what we need and our two associates are here now.  I’ll be giving them the final details of the plan”.

“And the other?” she asked.

Malcolm paused, he still hadn’t decided how he was going to implement her wishes.  “Not yet” he informed her, reluctantly.

She was silent for a moment and he knew that she wasn’t considering what she wanted to say like he had.  She was quiet because she was angry.

“Why?” she practically growled.

“The trial is ongoing and he is being moved back and forth from the prison to the holding cells in the court.  There is no regularity that allows a plan to be put into place” he explained, “But, as soon as the trial is done… I’ll be able to put something together for you”.

There was another silence, then she sighed.  “And how do we know he will go to prison?”.

“I’ve been at the trial” he replied, looking out over the view.  “It’s not about ‘will he’ but more about ‘for how long’”.

“Okay.  Perhaps you’ll have a better update when I arrive”.

It wasn’t a hope, he was being told he’d better have something.  “Of course ma’am” he confirmed and then she hung up.

He slipped his cell back into his suit pocket and took in a long breath of fresh air, exhaling slowly before he returned to his visitors to find them laying the breakfast dishes out onto the dinning table.

He sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side to the two Bloodowl and Silverbrook had chosen and picked up his knife and fork.

“So,” he said as he cut into his poached egg, “now that we have all we need I can give you the timeline for the final elements…”

 

*****

 

The first thing he noticed when he woke up was that he was trapped beneath a solid, warm body and he had never been happier.

They’d fallen asleep laid on their sides, arms wrapped around each other and it appeared they’d barely moved throughout the night.  At some point Magnus had fallen onto his back, taking Alec with him and now he had Alec’s face pressed into his chest so tightly he could feel his eyelashes tickling his skin and his lips brushing against him as gentle puffs of air escaped his boyfriend.

Alec’s entire torso was stretched out down Magnus’ body and he had also thrown his right leg over Magnus’ thighs, effectively caging him in and pinning him in place.

Magnus started to tense in an attempt to see what movement he could get away with, but he didn’t get very far.

“No” Alec complained, his voice muffled as he turned his face even further into Magnus’ pecs.  “Don’t move”.

Magnus chuckled, feeling Alec’s arm squeeze him tighter.  He brought his own hand up and danced his fingers lightly down his younger boyfriend’s spine, ending at the top of his ass before heading back up slowly.

“I am going to need to visit the bathroom love” he tried to reason with amusement.

“Pillows don’t need to pee” Alec mumbled.

“Human ones do” Magnus pointed out.

Alec sighed, then groaned as he rolled off the older man, ending up on his own back next to him.

Magnus turned towards him and, propping himself up on his elbow, he slowly moved his head over his boyfriend’s face so he could peer down at him.

Alec opened one eye so he could see Magnus grinning down at him.

“Good morning” he greeted.

Alec grunted, pouting and closed his eye again.  “Go pee so I can have you back”.

Magnus laughed, planted a firm kiss on Alec’s lips and then slipped out of the bed, hurrying into the bathroom.  And if Alec opened his eye again to watch his boyfriend in all his naked glory, well that was entirely his right to do so.

He dozed for a few moments more while he was alone, his body clock telling him it wouldn’t be long before his alarm went off and he would need to get up.  He wanted to enjoy every remaining moment in their warm bed and the quiet of their bedroom before he headed back to work.

The bed dipped and he rolled back towards Magnus as the older man settled into bed on his side, facing his young lover.  Their arms went around each other, noses touching and Alec breathed in deeply, smelling sandalwood.

“Are you absolutely sure you should go back to work today?” Magnus asked as Alec’s hands started to wander, one on his chest, the other on his side, tickling over his ribs.

“I’ve taken a lot of time off recently…” the younger man pointed out with a small smile.

“Hum” Magnus tilted his head a little so that he could move just that little bit closer, his lips brushing over Alec’s softly as he spoke.  “Are you sure?” he asked, his hands doing their own wandering, one down the firm plain of Alec’s lower stomach, his other over an ass cheek.

Alec closed his eyes and squirmed a little as Magnus hands arrived in more sensitive areas, a gentle moan escaping him.   “When’s the alarm going to go off…” he whispered.

Magnus pressed his lips against Alec’s for a brief kiss, “We have time…”.

His words were broken off by a persistent grizzling that got louder, at first because it came closer in proximity but then because it’s owner became unhappier.

Alec sighed, learning his head back a little.  “Okay, that’s a lot more effective than my phone”.

“But no less annoying” Magnus huffed as he flopped onto his back in resignation.

Alec turned his head to look at him, grinning mischievously.  “You invited them” he pointed out.

Magnus stretched his hands out straight above his head, his taut stomach making Alec’s mouth water.  “It was a wonderful idea until my sex life was interrupted”.

Alec raised an eyebrow, “Your sex life…?”.

Magnus froze for a split second then smiled at him, “Our sex life?”.

The younger man snorted and, as punishment, decided to get out of bed by climbing over his boyfriend, forcing a whine of misery out of him as he attempted to cup his ass and his hands were unceremoniously batted away.

“You’d better not have a sex life separate from me” Alec warned as he headed into the bathroom.

Magnus had propped himself up on his elbows to watch Alec and that delicious ass cross the room before he surveyed every muscle in his own body.  He didn’t need to think about it, he absolutely did not need, nor want, a sex life separate from Alec.  Hadn’t since the first moment he had met the detective almost a year ago and, with that pleasing knowledge, he slipped out of bed, grabbing his silk robe on the way, and joined him in their bathroom.

Alec was already in the shower and Magnus stopped at his sink, giving his hands and face a thorough wash then brushing his teeth.  When he was done he towelled off, and if he did take an extra few seconds to ogle Alec while he showered then it was his secret, then headed out to the kitchen.

He found a harassed and very tired Izzy, with a screaming and coughing Laila perched on her hip and secured in place with one arm while her other hand wrestled with the medicine the paediatrician had recommended.

“Isabelle…” he spoke loud enough so she could hear him above her daughter, and Izzy turned just in time to see Magnus pluck the little sound machine out of her arms and place her on his own hip.

“Thank you Magnus” she breathed out and was able to wrestle with the medicine bottle and dropper with both hands.

“Good morning TC” he cooed, smiling despite the sound waves disturbing his already tousled hair.  “Did you have a bad night?”.

Izzy sighed, her exhaustion clear.  “She had a bad everything… yesterday, night, morning…”.  She finally got the bottle open and filled the dropper, then added a dosage to Laila’s morning bottle before turning to see Magnus on the other side of the kitchen, jigging her daughter and managing to reduce the volume of the sobs.

“How the fuck do you do it?” she demanded irritably.

“It’s because I am someone different” he answered her but in the same, soft voice he used for Laila and kept his eyes on the baby girl.  “You’re mommy, she knows she can make you miserable and you’ll still love her.  Me she needs to impress…”.

Izzy snorted, sounding remarkably like the eldest Lightwood sibling.  “Like you don’t think everything she does is amazing”.

“I will admit, it was quite an impressive booger-bubble yesterday…” he mused as he headed back to Izzy.

She placed the bottle onto the side and reached out her hands to take her daughter back, but Magnus dodged her and snatched up the bottle instead.

“Go back to bed darling, I’ve got this” he reassured, already encouraging Laila to latch onto her morning bottle.  He smiled with amusement as Laila glared at him, eyes wet, cheeks flushed red and nose gummy… he raised an eyebrow and she decided that she was hungry so parted her plump lips.

“I could stab you right now” Izzy complained, plopping down into the seat next to him and watching as her daughter took her feed.

Magnus simply chuckled and watched his ward diligently, making sure she was eating and in no danger of chocking or coughing.

Izzy rested her head on Magnus shoulder and closer her eyes.  “How did Alec do?” she asked.

“I think we can safely say he enjoyed his day off and ended it as relaxed as anyone can ever possibly be” Magnus informed her.

If her eyes were open she would have rolled them.  “I don’t need sordid details, but what did you two do?”.

“Brunch with Cat and Madzie, suit fittings and, after a meeting I had to attend at the club, dinner at the Midnight Theatre” he gave her the cliff notes, avoiding the intimacies.

“Hum” she muttered tiredly.  “Sounds nice”.

“It was” Alec said as he appeared, hair still damp but fully dressed in a dark green military sweater, black skinny jeans tucked into combat boots, his badge hanging from his neck and his gun on his hip.

He headed for the small group that were sat so close, kissing all three (Magnus on the lips, Izzy on the cheek and Laila on the forehead) then went straight for the coffee machine.

Izzy picked her head up and watched him.  “Are you sure you should be going in?” she asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“My sentiments exactly”  Magnus added.

While the coffee machine was working he stuffed four slices of bread into the toaster.  “Yes.  We have some boring house calls to make…”.

“I think you need to revisit the suggestion that house visits are ‘boring’…” Magnus spoke up, “Especially what happened after the last one you did”.

“…and I cannot leave the foot work to the team” he carried on as though Magnus hadn’t spoken.  “I will eat and drink suitably throughout the day, I swear”.

She looked at Magnus, who looked back at her.

“Do you believe him?” she asked.

“I believe he will try” he answered.

“Hey!” Alec exclaimed at his boyfriends betrayal.

“Darling, you will be the first to admit that if you get the slightest whiff of a lead the last thing you will be thinking of is three-square meals and 3 litres of water” he justified.

He opened his mouth to argue further but then closed it, realising Magnus had a point.

“However, I have enlisted Luke to nag you when you are in the office and Lydia when you are out”.  He hadn’t taken his eyes off Laila and was quick to see her eyes drooping so he drew the bottle away and then manoeuvred her onto his shoulder so he could burp her.

Alec was still working out if he should be annoyed about Magnus’ admission when he caught Izzy yawning so wide he was sure he heard her jaw crack.

“Izzy…” he sighed, “Go to bed”.

“That’s what I said 20 minutes ago” Magnus announced.

“I can’t just ditch Magnus with Laila and sleep the day…”

“Pish” he said firmly, still patting and rubbing at Laila’s back.  “That’s why you came here.  We said we’d help so let us help.  I’m home today, party planning with Max.  He’s going to be over at 11:00am so there will be plenty of us to look after her”.

Laila finally burped, and it was impressive.

Izzy looked between her brother and Magnus, “Are you sure…”.

“Go!” they both exclaimed at the same time and, not waiting for a third instruction, Izzy scuttled off to her bedroom eagerly.

Chapter Text

It turned out that Alec wasn’t that far off the mark.  When he arrived that morning the team met and, after Andrew presented him with a breakfast burrito homemade by Stephen, each one took them through what they had covered the day before.

Maia had confirmed that the couple using the escort services were a dead end and they were expecting a warrant to arrive that day in order to get the access logs from Carlo’s apartment.  She asked Alec if she should chase Aline but he shook his head as he devoured his breakfast surprisingly eagerly, flashing Andrew a grateful smile, knowing that Aline would be on it and it would arrive imminently.

Lydia explained that they had made their way through 20 customers, crossing 11 off the list of potential suspects and waiting on nine call backs.  It left them 25 to get through over Friday and Saturday, knowing they would have to finish early evening at the latest in order to get to the award ceremony.

Alec teamed Andrew and Lydia up, telling them to pick the ten customers they wanted and then turned to Maia, seeing a split second look of panic on her face at the thought of working the day with Alec before she blinked it away.  He told her to pick their ten as well, she and Andrew working to get the customers into some kind of logical, geographical areas so that they could get through as many as possible.

On Thursday they had given Lydia and Maia’s numbers for any call backs, so Andrew and Alec drove (Andrew is an unmarked sedan, Alec in his Mustang) so they could take messages as customers got back to them.

Both pairs worked their way through diligently, and Maia had insisted on a lunch break because of her ‘glucose’ issues.  Alec wasn’t fooled for a second but it worked in his favour as, not long after they had given their order to the diner waitress Jace was calling him.

He’d taken the day to support Clary who was testifying, along with Meliorn as well as two other witnesses, Griffin and Heidi.  Jace had only stayed for the morning, which was Clary and Meliorn, recounting what had happened, Ragnor drawing out the vital information and defending them with objection after objection when Pangborn’s plan seemed to be suggesting they had tampered with the body they had found.

Alec rolled his eyes but decided not to comment, instead asking how Clary was doing.  Jace sounded proud, she’d held her ground against the onslaught of questions and, when Pangborn had tried to confuse her, she was consistent with the events from her story.  Even going so far as to tell Pangborn to stop asking the same questions because her answer was never going to be different.  Alec let out a bold laugh at that, imagining the tiny red head belittling the $1000 an hour lawyer.  He ended the call asking if they needed anything, Jace thanked him but declined.  So Alec wished them a good evening and confirmed he would see them at the awards on Saturday.

As their food arrived he had just finished recounting what Jace had said for Maia and then they ate quickly so they could get back to their list.  By the end of Friday they had only three of the original nine call backs still to come in, but another 11 from the 20 customers they had visited that day.  Finally, Alec had done a face time catch up from his phone to Andrew’s, both pairs still at their last locations and told them to go home rather than bringing them back to the station.

Alec dropped Maia off and headed for home himself, finding Max was still there with a look of what could only be described as confused exhaustion while Magnus prattled on about the pros and cons of a DJ versus a band. 

As soon as Alec walked in the door Max turned his big, light brown eyes towards him and, using the last of his energy, launched himself off the couch, across the lounge and entrance hall, straight into Alec’s arms with a hastily whispered ‘save me’.

Alec hugged him and laughed, telling him to call Maryse to come and fetch him, ignoring the look of betrayal Magnus threw his way.  His boyfriend was quickly placated with a firm kiss and reassurance that Alec would assist with any final decision, Max confirming he was more than happy for Alec to choose the last details.

Izzy joined them, baby monitor in hand, at that point and also offered her services, saying that Alec couldn’t finish party planning with Magnus and cook dinner… duties were very quickly redistributed and Izzy found herself party planning with Magnus while Alec cooked, Max hiding in the kitchen with him.

Max didn’t stay for dinner, meeting Maryse curb side after being walked down by Alec, and being promised a McDonalds on the way home.  When Alec returned to the loft the three of them settled down to dinner, Laila having finally dropped off to sleep and Izzy looking far more refreshed since her break.  Alec was well aware that Magnus was watching his food intake from the corner of his eyes, but he didn’t pull him up on it knowing it likely eased his worries, especially as he managed to consumed a large bowl of bolognaise.

The evening consisted of Alec reading up on the reports from the case while Izzy and Magnus shot through the final details for Max’s celebration, the pair of them two peas in a pod when it came to all things celebration related.  Alec actually got lost in his reading right up until Izzy let out an eardrum piercing screech which physically jolted him in his seat.  She was apologetic but still couldn’t hide her glee as Magnus had just informed her he’d arranged for Simon’s sister, Rebecca, to take Laila all day on Saturday and he had booked them massages, facials, manicures and pedicures for the afternoon.  He had also assured her that she was more then welcome to finish getting ready for the awards in their suite, at which news she looked to Alec for confirmation and he nodded, a soft smile on his lips.

Izzy eventually retired and then Magnus promptly dragged Alec off the sofa and to bed, the day they had spent together still in effect, both of them sleeping soundly through the night, not a nightmare in sight.

Alec and Magnus had very different mornings that Saturday.  Magnus booking into their suite along with Izzy and Laila, meeting Rebecca who stayed for brunch before stealing her niece away promising Izzy she would call if her croupe worsened, no matter what the time, day or night.   And with Laila gone he and Izzy prepared themselves for an afternoon of pampering. 

By contrast, Alec was in the car with Lydia visiting the last five customers, all commercial as they had grouped them together.  The closest he came to papering was the bran-muffin that Lydia had handed him once she had climbed into Alec’s car, claiming she had made too many and they needed eating before they went off.  Alec asked how long Magnus had enlisted them for, she claimed complete ignorance to the suggestion.

So, instead of dwelling on it, he focused on getting through the list as efficiently as he could.  And while some were not necessarily the cleanest of organisations, there was nothing glaringly obvious that could lead to murder.  Taking a speedy lunch of fast food in the drive through car park before they eventually ended the day in the early evening with two employee lists to check for criminal records, a threat of a complaint being logged when Alec gave an obvious eyeroll to one restaurant chain CEO who tried to name drop the mayor and a tense standoff with the owner of an import company until he thought better of it after a whispered word from one of his men, eventually explaining that they were looking to expand and with the final company being a perfectly legitimate nursery looking to open a new location.

Alec dropped Lydia off at home, taking a moment in the car outside her house to text Maia and Andrew, who had been in the office trying to run down the last of the call backs, that they should write up their reports from home the next day with no deadline given.  If the evening went well there would likely be hangovers, if the evening went badly the hangovers would likely be worse.

With that done he checked traffic and realised he was cutting it close to get the hotel.  He fired off a text to Magnus with his current ETA and then got back on the road immediately, so he wasn’t wasting anytime and so he had a good excuse for not answering the call Magnus immediately placed, likely with plans to politely suggest he use get he ass there, speed limits be damned.

 

*****

 

“What do think about these names?” Bloodowl asked, staring out the rain speckled window as the thinning crowds passed by, the day time shoppers and workers changing over to the night time drinkers and socialisers.

Silverbrook looked up from where he was rummaging amongst the equipment they had stored in the footwell of the passengers sheet.  “What do you have against the names?” he asked.

He shrugged, still keeping and eye on the building they had been sent to, where the job was.  “We’re supposed to blend in, that’s a top 10 rule for our job.  The names are… unusual”.

“The customer gets to choose, the middleman tells us before we’re sent.  It’s a protection, the customer never knows our real names” Silverbrook pointed out.

“Yeah… I get that” he risked a glance, not that anyone was likely to slip away from the building in seconds.  “I just wish the middle ‘woman’…” he emphasised the word, knowing she’d be pissed if she knew they were referring to her as a man, “…had vetoed them and gone with Smith and Jones”.

Silverbrook snorted, “That would be more conspicuous than Bloodowl and Silverbrook”, he went back to trying to dig out the binoculars.  “Anyway, we have more important things to focus on”.

“Like what?” Bloodowl said.

“Like… doing the job” he made a soft noise when he found what he was looking for and sat back up in his seat, binoculars tight in his grip.

They were silent for a moment, gazing at the building they had parked outside, the street wide enough and with enough parked vehicles for them to be inconspicuous, particularly with the blackened windows common with the BMW they had been provided with.

It was Silverbrook was who broke the silence first.  “What floor is the target on?”.

“Top floor”, Bloodowl replied.

“The loft?” he asked.

“Yeah, security is pretty tight, but not impenetrable.  Especially when you use the side entrance for deliveries and trash” the other man explained.

Silverbrook pondered that for a moment and then his mind went back to their meeting on the Thursday.  “Did you expect Lightwood to be there?”.

“No, don’t think Fade did either”

“What did you think?”

Bloodowl looked at his partner.  “About Lightwood?”

Silverbrook nodded.

He shrugged, “Does it matter?  It’s not him we need to deal with” and he went back to his surveillance.

“I looked into him” Silverbrook admitted.

“Why?”.

“Curiosity.  You’re not the least bit interested in what he did to deserve this kind of treatment?”.

Bloodowl snorted.  “No, I’m just interested in the pay cheque”.  He looked his partner up and down with narrowed eyes.  “You never cared before, why now?”.

“All the other jobs we’ve done have been straight contract terminations” he explained, “I have no issue with that.  This job… feels a little like torture…”.

“Look, we aren’t doing the torture.  We’re doing our job and Lightwood’ll torture himself… it’s a feelings thing”.

Silverbrook grunted a response, not sure he was fully convinced but money was always good motivator and they wouldn’t actually have to stick around for the final stage of the plan.

There was silence again, the rain getting harder against the windshield which was making it harder to see outside.  They couldn’t use the wipers as that would likely draw attention from the more observant passer by, it was going to be a risk using the binoculars as it was.  The only saving grace was that they’d been asked to do the job in the early hours of the morning, so hopefully those remaining on the streets would be so engrossed in their own revelries or too drunk to notice them.

“You’re seriously okay with the names?” Bloodowl suddenly blurted out and Silverbrook rolled his eyes.

 

*****

 

Alec knew full well he had never been to the Plaza, he only knew it’s reputation and that it was the kind of hotel that even some celebrities couldn’t afford to stay in.  But even this knowledge didn’t prepare him for the sheer opulence he was faced with when he stepped out of the revolving door and into the lobby.

He wasn’t sure he had ever seen so much marble in one place, other than were it was… mined… cut… dug up… he had no idea where marble came from.  But he thought that most of it must be here.

The floors was a base colour of cream marble, with intricate patterns of gold, bronze and copper colours that gave the impression there were rugs laid out.  There was a high shine and, considering the rain coming down outside, he should probably have wiped his feet a little more thoroughly before he started across it towards the reception, halfway down the lobby on the left.

It was actually relatively busy, with various individuals dressed in what appeared to be their choice in evening finery or guests still arriving to check in.  There was a low hum of conversation that only happened in high society locations, everyone far to well mannered to raise their voice.  He took a cursory glance and couldn’t see anyone he recognised, though some were likely here for same event, considering the time.  The second consideration about the time, was Magnus was not going to be happy, the number of missed calls in the last hour could attest to that.

He tore his eyes away from the people to take in the walls as he walked, wide columns of raw marble, light grey in base and dark grey mottles through the stone.  In between each one the wall was tiled with more marble, but back to cream with bronze and gold patterns that complimented the floor.

Just as he came level with the reception desk he had to skirt around two high back chairs with a low table between them and then an oblong coffee table with a array of vases and bouquets as well as the other people milling around waiting to be served.  He attracted a number of curious glances, well aware that with his combat boots, black skinny jeans, dark green jumper and black leather jacket he stuck out like a sore thumb.  He had made a conscious effort to ensure his gun and his badge were well hidden, but he was starting to think he would be better received if he did have at least his badge on display.

He joined the queue and was seriously considering calling Magnus when he was finally called forward by a friendly looking young lady in a crisp white blouse under a simple navy jacket.

“May I help you?” she asked.

Alec smiled back, ignoring the dirty look he was receiving rom the older man stood at the back of the reception, likely the manager.

“Yeah, my boyfriend checked in earlier and said he would leave my key card with reception…” he drifted off.

“What would the name be please sir?” she asked, starting to tap on her computer already.

“His is Magnus Bane, I’m Alexander Lightwood” he replied, very aware of the older man’s sudden change in stance and interest.

“Oh, of course!” she exclaimed, not even needing the computer now and Alec wasn’t the least bit surprised, Magnus tended to make an impression wherever he went.  She headed over to the a shelf along the back wall and picked up a cream envelope, coming back with it promptly and holding it out to him.

He smiled and took it, about to walk away when she spoke again.

“Enjoy your event as well as your stay Mr Lightwood” she said.  “If you need assistance with anything, just give reception a call, I’ll be here all night.  Just ask for Ruth”.

He nodded his thanks and headed for the elevators, four of which were located directly opposite the desk he had just left.  He’d barely reached them when the golden doors slid open and, once the three people piled out he stepped in and, shouldn’t have been but was, surprised by the attendant smiling at him.

“Floor sir?” she asked pleasantly.

“Uh…” he opened the envelope and looked at the black key card.

“That’s the 15th sir” she said immediately and, before he could press the button she used a key on the elevator controls.

Alec raised an eyebrow and wondered just how much Magnus had splurged on their room.  “Does a hotel need this much security?” he asked.

The attendant looked surprised to be acknowledge, a soft smile touching her lips.  “Some customers… ‘require’ it” she answered diplomatically.

He nodded in understanding, his cop mind immediately wondering how many criminals they were going to be sleeping in the vicinity of tonight.

The elevator gave a ding when it arrived on his floor, the attendant pressing the ‘hold’ button to ensure the doors didn’t close.

“Your suite is the third door to the right” she explained helpfully.  “Have a wonderful stay sir”.

He felt distinctly uncomfortable with the formal terms being thrown around so much.  “It’s Alec” he offered before he left the carriage.

She smiled again, “Jenny” she introduced herself.

“Thank you Jenny” he gave her a grin and then stepped out, turning right and heading down the corridor that was carpeted in white, small square tables set against both sides, halfway between each door, more vases with fresh bouquets displayed.  He decided that they were likely their florists only customer.

He heard the doors to the elevator sliding closed again just as he reached the door, using his key card to unlock it and stepping inside, letting the door close softly behind him.  He stood for a moment, stunned for the second time that evening.

There was a short wall to his right, the room open to his left where there was a circular, glass dinning table and four, grey, rollback chairs spaced evenly around it, another vase of flowers displayed in the middle.  His gaze then took in the staircase against the left wall and realised their ‘suite’ was two floors, the mezzanine likely the bedroom.  Straight ahead he saw doors to the balcony, only just able to make it out through the rain on the windows.  He could see the edge of a coffee table poking out from around the wall to the right… and suddenly Magnus came into view, peering round at him before stepping fully into his field of vision.

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood” he stated, a touch of annoyance in his tone.  “Ignoring calls, seriously?” he scolded, one arm crossed over his chest, hand tucked beneath the other bicep, that arm holding his glass of champagne in sipping range.

Alec stared.

Magnus was barefoot and wearing his ankle length, black silk robe that had red dragons stitched into a patten that gave the impression they were coiled around the wearer.  It was Alec’s favourite on his boyfriend.  And, on top of that, his make up and hair was already done.  He had chosen a high quiff, swept to his right with blonde streaks and golden glitter shinning throughout.  His makeup, gold and bronze eyeshadow, black kohl liner highlighted with copper glitter that also touched his cheekbones and his lips shone with a gloss that emphasised their natural pink hew.  He literally glowed in the light and looked ethereal, his beauty forcing Alec breathless.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Magnus continued.  “While I am more than happy to arrive late and make a spectacular entrance, I am well aware that would be a nightmare for you so went to great lengths to ensure we could arrive at a perfect moment, not too soon to be the first and not too late to…” he paused, seeming to realise he wasn’t actually being listened to.

He squinted and took a step forward, “Alec?  Are you…”.

Alec finally breathed out.  “You look… fucking hell Magnus, do we have to go to the ceremony?”.

Magnus’ face went from annoyed concern to surprise to something more salacious, a smirk touching his lips and his shoulders starting to swing subtly while his arms unwound, his free hand playing with the golden tiger cuff on his ear.

“Hum” he responded, “Just for that… you’re forgiven”.

Alec found the coordination to stride over to him, his hands sliding around Magnus waist and pulling him flush against him while lowering his lips to his boyfriend for a kiss…

“Woah!” Izzy exclaimed from somewhere to his right, “Baby sister in the room!”.

“And brother-in-law!” he heard Simon’s slightly tinny voice.

He jumped back from Magnus in surprise, his cheeks flushed pink.

“Hush you two” Magnus ordered them, looking mightily disappointed at missing out on his greeting.

Alec turned to see his sister stood at the bar that was set into the wall he had just walked past, holding her phone up so Simon, who was on facetime, could see what was happening.

“I forgot you were going to be here” he mumbled as Magnus leaned into his side, Alec slinking one arm back around his waist automatically.

Izzy grinned, “Don’t mind me, I think you two are adorable”.

“Mind me!” Simon yelled, looking panic stricken.  “I don’t need to see this, Izzy turn me back round!”.

“Quiet Seamus” Magnus commanded, “You don’t get a vote as you’re not even here”.

Izzy laughed, turning her husband back around to blow him a kiss and promising to facetime him again during the nights events.  It was then that Alec took a good look at his sister, who did, in fact, look well rested.  Not to mention stunning.

She had styled her long black hair into a plait across the back of her head, the remaining length tumbling over her right shoulder.  Her makeup was natural, though she wore her trademark bright red lipstick, making her full lips stand out even more.  Her knee length, red dress fit like a second skin, her right shoulder bare and the left shoulder had an open sleeve, falling almost like a small cloak down her arm.  She had chosen to forego a necklace, but had diamonds dangling from her ears, 10 stones lined up in a row hanging from each ear as well as the matching tennis bracelet around her right wrist.  He knew the set, it was a gift from their mom for her 21st birthday and had been dear to her ever since.  On her feet were 4-inch stilettos, the red straps that made up the shoe extended up to her midcalf.

“You look beautiful” Alec told his sister.

She smiled as she slipped her phone into her clutch and picked up her glass.  “Thank you hermano”.

“And on that note” Magnus leaned back a little so he could look into his boyfriends face.  “Go…” he jerked his head towards the stairs.  “Everything is laid out for you darling, I’ll be up in a moment to put on my suit”.

“Uh…” Izzy raised a finger, “…maybe you should go get dressed once Alec is back down here.  I have a feeling we may be very late if you’re both up there together”.

Alec had started walking to the stairs and Magnus glanced back at him, his eyes finding their way to his ass as he started to climb the stairs.  He imagined his younger boyfriend moving in the same way dressed in the suit he had chosen for him...

“Yes” Magnus agreed.  “You’re probably right”.

Chapter Text

Turns out she was right.

Izzy and Magnus shared a second glass of champagne, both of them able to hear the shower going upstairs as Alec started to get ready.  They discussed the ceremony and the order in which the awards were to be given.  As there were other emergency responder recipients here as well, including medical professionals and fire and rescue, they knew that the law enforcement awards were later in the evening.

Izzy had asked, very quietly, what Magnus actually knew and, with Alec’s personal award the final one of the evening, they would have to find ways to keep him from sneaking away as soon as they had received the team award.

She pointed out that Magnus could just refuse to sleep with him and then Alec would have no reason to sneak off back to their room.

Magnus quickly, and rather proudly, pointed out that Alec would never believe he didn’t want to have sex with him, Izzy nodding sagely to show she understood the truth of that statement.

They heard the shower shut off and footsteps moving around the mezzanine, so they changed the conversation to the menu, until Magnus checked the time and announced that he really would have to start getting dressed.

Izzy eyed him suspiciously, reminding him that she would be downstairs the whole time and didn’t need to be traumatised by the sound of her brother’s sex noises.

Magnus just waved absently at her as he made his way up the stairs and found Alec, towel wrapped low around his hips, droplets of water sliding down his Adonis belt, trying to make some sense of his hair in the vanity’s mirror.

Alec spotted him and sighed, the pout on his lips asking him to help with the mess of raven curls which wouldn’t behave.  Magnus, swallowing thickly, pushed aside that tingle low in his belly, then sauntered over and focused on styling it, using the smallest amount of gel for a final few errant locks.

He took a step back to admire his work, nodded once in satisfaction as Alec turned to check it in the mirror while Magnus gave him a playful slap on the ass and told him to get his suit on, ignoring the shout of outrage from Izzy downstairs to advise she had heard what he’d done.

Both Alec and Magnus had their pants on when they heard a cell ringing downstairs and Izzy advised them that her date had arrived so she would need to go and meet him.  She still wouldn’t reveal who the mysterious man was but warned them again not to be late as she headed for the door.  She pulled it open, shouting up the stairs to remind Magnus that he had agreed to be on ‘boob’ patrol that night, just as a older couple walked past on their way to their own room.  Izzy ignored their glares and added a last warning about keeping their hands off each other so they wouldn’t be late.

Alec gave Magnus a look, one eyebrow raised, at Izzy’s comment, Magnus explaining that her dress was a little risqué on the right, her modesty protected by a strip of boob tape.  Magnus had promised to ensure she didn’t suffer a malfunction and if she did he had sworn he would… Alec had stopped him there, not needing to know how his boyfriend intended to assist his sister with an exposed breast.  Instead he chose to focus on getting his shirt on while ignoring the look in Magnus’ eye.

Eventually they had to agree to get ready on opposite sides of the bed, when there had been a little too much skin on skin contact as they passed one another, leading to relatively heavy petting and Magnus having to be the mature one, calling an end to it just before Alec got his pants back open.  He cursed himself for his willpower, knowing he was missing out on one of Alec’s million dollar blowjobs and made the younger man promise he’d deliver on the promise later.

Alec had promised then given that lopsided smirk and Magnus knew exactly what that meant.  Because Magnus had made a mistake, he didn’t specify when ‘later’ was and there was a very real danger, once Alec had a few drinks  in him, that ‘later’ could very well materialise during the awards on a well timed break to the washroom.

Thankfully they were able to make it downstairs into the lobby in good time, slightly later than anticipated but not so much it was obvious to those they had arranged to meet there.

Jace was waiting just outside the double doors that led into the ballroom, Clary on his arm.  He wore his black tux with a black shirt and tie, setting off a startling contrast with his blonde hair while Clary wore a floor length, forest green gown with spaghetti straps on her shoulders and additional off the shoulder sleeves that draped elegantly to her elbows.  She looked beautiful, the simple design complimented by her hair styled in ringlets that hung around her face.

Next to them was Lydia in her blue, off the shoulder Dior.  The bodice was a complicated lace design, ending at the waist with a simple silk bow, the skirt A-line and ending at her ankles, simple silver pumps on her feet with a modest heel.  Next to her was Julian Blackthorn, a distant cousin of Aline’s wife Helen’s, whom Lydia was currently dating, wearing a blue tux with back trim and a dark blue bow tie.  His sandy hair and blue eyes were a match to Lydia and they looked a striking couple, Alec happy to see her so at ease for once.

The four of them were talking animatedly with Andrew and Stephen, both in tuxes themselves.  Andrew had chosen a blue one very similar to Julian’s while Stephen had gone for a traditional black.  Both had white shirts and their bow ties matched the colour of each other’s clothes.

As Alec and Magnus, hand in hand, neared the group it was Jace who noticed them first, eyebrows shooting up and letting out an uncouth wolf-whistle which drew too many glares from other occupants of the hotel lobby.  Alec glared at his brother, unappreciative of the additional attention drawn to them while Magnus glowed under the scrutiny.

Lydia smiled broadly at the couple as they joined them, and stepped in to kiss Alec’s cheek.

“Don’t you two look the perfect pair” she whispered, allowing only Alec and Magnus to hear.

“It’s all Magnus’ doing” Alec explained, cheeks pink with a shy flush.

Magnus patted his boyfriends arm kindly, “You don’t have to tell everyone my love…” his eyes glittered mischievously up at him, “…they know”.

Alec huffed a laugh out but couldn’t deny he was right, his friends knew that without Magnus he would be in his jeans and a functional shirt… if he had turned up at all.

Hands were shook and Clary received a kiss to the cheek from both Alec and Magnus before the group decided to head into the ballroom, Andrew explaining that Maia and Jordan had already gone in to find their table.

Luke had advise them the tables were set out in tens, which meant that Alec, Magnus, Jace, Clary, Izzy and her date, Lydia, Julian, Andrew, Stephen, Maia and Jordan would all be on one table.  Luke and Maryse had the delight of joining the mayor on hers.  He had been vague on who else they would have to sit with though Alec had guessed that Robert and Annemarie would also be there.  It wasn’t a table he was particularly interested in being anywhere near.

When they stepped into the ballroom there was a mix of reactions.  The majority of the group were mesmerised by the decadence of the room and the layout of tables.  However there were two very different reactions that set two individuals apart from the rest of them.

The room itself was large, football field large with decorative columns that held up curved mouldings that smoothed the wall into the ceiling.  The decorations where gold and bronze again, set off with the same marble which tiled the floors and the walls.  The stage had been built into the very far side from the door and it consisted of a podium in the centre where the mayor, commissioner and the senator would be handing out the awards to the recipients.  There were heavy, cream curtains tied back at either side and in the middle, attached to the ceiling were large stage lights, giving the stage a pink glow which set it apart from the yellow lights were the attendees would dine.  Either side of the stage were large screens, a camera on the ballroom floor in front of the stage set up to project the image of everyone up on the stage to those unfortunate enough to be sat at the very back of the room.

Each table was in fact set for 10, an elegant white table cloth with matching napkins for each of the gold place settings.  The central decoration was a design of flowers and candles, causing delicate patterns to be cast on the tables, dancing as each flame flickered.  The chairs were high backed, a bronze cushioned seat and the frame painted gold.

The whole affect was welcoming but Alec remained horrified at the stage he was now realising he was going to have to climb up on in order to receive the award.  The only saving grace that was keeping him here was that he wouldn’t be alone and his team would be with him.  He was already plotting in his head how he could convince Lydia to say a few words instead of him.

In contrast Magnus was unphased by his surroundings, having attended many high society events this was nothing new or surprising.  He took advantages of his indifference to his surroundings to try and locate their missing dinning guests who were already in the room.  His eyes quickly found the raven haired beauty in a red dress that had left them less than an hour ago, her date by her side and when Magnus realised who it was his grin broadened even more.

He squeezed Alec’s hand to gain his attention, “I do believe out table is over there…”.

Alec followed his line of sight and his hazel eyes landed on a familiar light brown pair, the owner of which was staring back at him with delight written clearly across his face.

Max Lightwood looked adorable and incredibly uncomfortable.  Standing just a little taller than his sister and wearing a black velvet tuxedo jacket that had grey silk lapels, a black waist coat and dress pants, white shirt and grey bow tie, he fit right in with the other guests moving around him.  Maryse had managed to tame his, equal to Alec’s, unruly hair into a smooth side parting and he had never looked neater.

Alec’s grin stretched his own face, his nerves slipping away, and his long legs hurried across the room, leading Magnus by the hand and the rest of their group following.

“Max?” Alec said once he had reached his youngest sibling, pulling him into a tight embrace and ignoring his brother’s muffled complaint.

Izzy laughed at Max’s annoyance and then turned to greet the others as they arrived at the table.

Alec released his bother and looked down at him fondly.  “Did Izzy ask or did you nag her?”.

“A little of both” he replied honestly.  “I wanted to see you get your award… cause you’ve never actually agreed to attend before”.

Magnus looked at Alec, a slight crease in his brow.  “How many times have you failed to collect an award you have been given?”.

Alec looked uncomfortable and avoided his boyfriends eyes.  “Where’s mom Max?”.

Max ignored him completely and turned to Magnus.  “Twelve”.

Magnus sucked in a shocked breath, his head whipping back to look up at Alec.  “You have twelve awards and you didn’t collect any of them personally?!”.

Alec gave him an unimpressed look, “Does this seem like my kind of thing?”.

“There’s mom” Jace exclaimed, pointing back across the room, and Alec wanted to squeeze him in thanks for the change of subject.

They turned to see Maryse moving towards them, gliding across the floor with all of the grace and poise of a dancer.

She wore a black silk gown, one shoulder bare with a sheer black stole wrapped around her upper arms.  The gown itself was straight hugging her hourglass figure perfectly, a small trail following at her heels.  She clasped a small back bag in one hand, her other arm was looped through Luke’s who stood proudly at her side, a toothy grin on his face as he looked down at the elegant woman on his arm. 

Maryse’s black hair was pinned up in a soft, but intricate bun at the back of her head and her make up was subtle except for her full lips that had been painted red and wore a loving smile as she took in her four children and their partners.

As she neared, Alec, Jace, Izzy and Max all stepped forward to greet her with warm hugs and loving kisses to cheeks, Izzy and Maryse having to wipe away the marks their lip rouge left on everyone.

When she had greeted them all she stepped back to Luke’s side, his arm going around her and surveyed her children with unmistakable pride in damp eyes.

“Look at you all” she whispered.

Izzy tried hard to control her quivering chin.  “Look at you two!”.

It couldn’t be denied that their mother and, for all intents and purposes, their step-father made a handsome pair.  Maryse in her finest was aways a picture but Luke, dressed in a black tuxedo that seemed to shimmer in the ballroom lights, a crisp white shirt and black bow tie, was drawing many an eye and all of them complimentary.

“How are you feeling kiddo?” his deep voice was warm, his eyes showing a parental concern that Alec’s own father’s never had.

Alec nodded stiffly.  They knew he hated this, they knew he was nervous so Luke’s question was worded perfectly.  He was not going to be okay with this level of attention, but he could manage it with the people that were here tonight.

“Luke made sure you were all on a table together…” Maryse explained.

Luke had started to look around and, judging by the amused roll of his eyes, he had found what he was looking for.  “I see you’re all starting early?”.

The four Lightwoods, even if one was technically a Wayland, turned back to the table to see that Maia and Jordan had arrived, clearly from the bar judging from the tray each of them held, containing various drinks that seemed to account for all of their favourites.

“Ooohhh” Max said with interest and trotted back to the table, living in hope that he might get a beer.

“Watch him please…” Maryse suddenly realised she was looking at Izzy and Jace, turning pointedly to Alec instead, “…Alec?”.

Alec gave a chuckle at the look of outrage Jace and Izzy gave each other.  “Of course mom” he promised.

“Right…” she shifted to business mode and looked at Luke.  “We should probably join our table…”.

Luke groaned, then caught the stern look Maryse threw at him.  “Sure thing hun” and he plastered a fake smile on his face, offering her his arm again.

Maryse rolled her eyes fondly at the man and then allowed him to led her back to their table, a final promise to come back to her children at the break after the meal and before the awards.

The three turned back to the table and joined their dates as they started to take their seats, complimenting Maia and Jordan on their matching tuxes of black dress pants, white jackets with black silk lapels, black shirts and bow ties and thanking them for fetching the first round.

Alec took a sip from his bottle of IPA and looked around the table as his team and family chatted amongst themselves, catching up on personal events that were, for tonight at least, far more important than the case that they all pushed to the back of their minds.

Lydia was introducing Julian to everyone, the kind of smile on her face that Alec hadn’t seen since she had lost her first love in Edom.  Izzy was gushing about her daughter, phone out and flicking through a billion pictures at such a rate her spectators could barely register one before she was on to the next.

Stephen and Andrew talked about their new home and their plans to decorate to Jace and Clary, who were themselves in the middle of renovations to the apartment Alec used to share with his brother.  While Max was harassing Jordan about his forensics work and Maia encouraged the youngest Lightwood to ask about the most gruesome of cases her boyfriend had worked on.

As he surveyed them he felt a warm hand slid across his thigh searching for his hand, which he gave up willingly.

“Now that is a look I have missed” Magnus whispered in his ear, hot breath ghosting across his neck.

Alec turned to him, a soft smile on his lips.  “What?” he asked softly.

“Quiet contentment” Magnus replied, his golden eyes flicking over Alec’s relaxed features.

“I’m always content with you” Alec replied with that blunt honesty that he saved for the ones he loved most.

A heat surged through Magnus’ chest, “I know love, but it’s nice to see it in a group setting…”.

Alec pressed a chaste kiss to his boyfriends lips, breathing in his scent through his nose and it left him just a little giddy.  Instead of pulling away he moved his own lips to Magnus’ ear so he could whisper back to him.

“I love you”.

When he leaned back Magnus had that smile on his lips, the one that conveyed to Alec a multitude of feelings that the older man couldn’t always put into words, no matter how eloquent he was.  But he didn’t need to, because Alec knew and felt each and every one of them in all that Magnus did for him.  From the smallest gesture to the biggest surprise and Alec knew he could never be without this man again.

“Oh shit” Jace’s mumbled warning was all Alec got, his attention so focused on his lover, before an unexpected voice spoke behind him.

“Alec…”.

Alec swallowed hard, tearing his eyes away from the gorgeous man at his side, he turned in his chair to see his father behind him, Annemarie stood stiffly at his side and trying not to actually look at anyone in the group.

“Father” he said as he pushed his chair out and stood.

Robert held his hand out and, after a split second pause, Alec shook it.  It felt ridiculous, not just because this man was supposed to be his father but also because Robert had promised to try and this was the best he could do.  It hadn’t escaped Alec’s notice that neither his father nor his partner had acknowledge Magnus.

“Could we speak?” Robert asked, turning to the side and indicating with a lean of his head that he meant to speak away from the others.

Alec looked at the table, all eyes were on the pair, some of them with barely concealed hostility judging from a certain pair of mis-matched eyes set in a clenched face.

“Of course” Alec agreed, then deliberately looked at his partner.  “Magnus” he said as he held out his hand, clearly giving his boyfriend the message that he wanted him to come as well.

Magnus placed his napkin back on the table with grace and stood, taking Alec’s hand and following him past his father towards a quieter part of the ballroom at the back wall where the majority of tables were still empty.

When the couple turned to face the commissioner they found he was now alone, Annemarie having decided to leave him to speak with his son and partner, returning to the table they had been allocated.

“How are you?” Robert asked Alec, drawing the detective’s attention back again.  “I heard what happened… after…”.

“I’m fine” Alec snapped, possibly a little more harshly than he had intended.  Robert had offered to be at the court when he testified, but Alec had declined, explaining that with Magnus there he had all the support he needed.  It was true as well as being a not so subtle dig.

Robert nodded, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his pants.  “You took Thursday off…?”.

“Yes” he replied, his hand tightening in Magnus’.  “I… needed to clear my head”.

“Well, you look good for it” his father said.

“I wouldn’t if it wasn’t for Magnus” Alec stated, his eyes not leaving his fathers.

Finally, Robert turned to Magnus who had been watching the interaction quietly, taking Alec’s led.  Now he looked at the Lightwood patriarch with a steady gaze.

Robert cleared his throat and held his hand out to Magnus.  “Thank you Magnus, for taking care of him”.

Magnus’ eyebrows twitched as he tried to hide his surprise, but he used his free hand to shake Robert’s and smiled.  “No thanks needed commissioner, it’s what you do when you love someone”.

Alec studied his father’s face carefully as Magnus spoke and he didn’t see the man’s lips curl in disgust as he had come to expect when anything alluded to Alec’s sexuality.  But his face certainly didn’t convey acceptance either.

Robert dropped Magnus’ hand, his own returning to his pocket again, and he gave one firm nod.  “Well, enjoy the meal.  There will be a break before the awards and I would like to speak with you again, if that’s alright?”.

Alec glanced at Magnus who gave him an encouraging smile, so he nodded to his father.  “I’ll speak with you then”.

After another stiff nod his father was walking away, leaving the two men alone.

“That was…” Magnus fished around for the right words.

“Awkward, uncomfortable, painful, difficult, unpleasant…” Alec suggested and Magnus couldn’t help but chuckle softly.

“I was going to suggest surprising, though that is not to say that you aren’t right as well…”.

Alec looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

Magnus shrugged, “He shook my hand and thanked me”.

“You say it as though he gave his blessing for us to marry” Alec grunted and started back to the table, seeing that all eyes were still on them.

“Do I need to ask his permission to marry you before I propose?” Magnus teased.

“Fuck no” Alec exclaimed, earning him a huff from an young woman in an overly tight sequined dress and gaudy chocker around her neck.

Magnus simply giggled and waited.

Alec stumbled to a stop hallway back to the table.  “Wait, are you planning to propose?”.

Magnus’ smirk was sly, his eyes narrowed.  “Now what makes you think I would answer that question honestly?” and he released Alec’s hand, sauntering the rest of the way back to the table with his hips swaying provocatively.

Alec raised his eyes to the heavens and whispered a silent prayer for this night to go smoothly and quickly because they had a bed very close by which he fully intended on making the most of.

 

*****

 

For a hotel as exclusive as the Plaza, you would assume the security would be high and attentive but actually, as long as you looked like you belonged, you could pretty much go anywhere and you were ignored.  Complacency, something that 99% of failures could be traced back to.

He straightened his overcoat and walked though the lobby with purpose, his trilby pulled low on his head.  The CCTV had been taken care of earlier in the day but he didn’t want to take the chance, and the rain outside afforded him the prefect reason to be wearing the hat.

As he approached the elevators he pulled the key card from his pocket, the attendant already noticing it and giving the man a broad smile.  He returned the greeting and asked for his floor, his attendant eager to help, not realising the key card he held was a duplicate of the master key card and gave him access to any room he wanted.

Of course there was only one room that he needed and he stepped off the elevator with the confidence of a man who was supposed to be there, reaching the target room and opening the door then sipping inside with ease.

He allowed it to close behind him as he stood and surveyed his surroundings, taking in the high quality suite while the sound of the rain beat against the glass doors leading to the balcony.  Now that he was here, all he had to do was wait so he made his way over to the bar and poured himself a drink, allowing himself just the one so that his head remained clear, before he took a seat in the armchair which couldn’t be seen from the door and settled in, a satisfied smile on his lips as he felt the anticipation tingling in his stomach.

Chapter Text

The lights finally dimmed down and the side doors opened, letting in a stream of waiters dressed in all black each of them carrying a small pile of menus.  They had clearly been allocated a table each and when a young lady approached their table she handed out the menus while introducing herself as Cora and advising she would be their server for the night.

Alec took his menu and looked at the options for the three courses on offer, happy that he would eat almost anything but also pleased to see that there was a variety that could cater for most palettes.

 

Appetizers

Sauteed sea scallops

Butternut hummus

Mandarin chicken wonton cups

 

Main

Chilean sea bass

Lothian beef, braised truffle barely and Scottish girolles

Saffron risotto with forest mushrooms

 

Desert

Panna Cotta with berries, whipped cream and apricot ice cream

Prune and tokaji parfait, white chocolate ganache and mascarpone ice cream

Strawberry sorbet with pistachio moose and fresh raspberries

 

With so many options it actually took a long time for each person to decide, and Cora had diligently written down the slight variations to each dish that some requested.  Alec and Magnus, both having a wide variety of food that they enjoyed, stuck to their typical method of ordering different dishes from each course so they could share and experience double the amount of food between them.

With everyone’s order secured Cora gave them her bright smile and advised she would deliver it to the kitchens and then return to take an order for drinks, having noted that several of them were running low.  This instantly endeared her to the whole table, relieved that they wouldn’t have to get up and fetch their own, although Alec could already see Max trying to sit taller in his chair as though he was hoping that would enable him to order a beer. 

Izzy had also caught the gesture and when Cora returned, asking Max what his drink order was, she answered with ‘coke’ before their younger brother could even respond.  Max gave her such a glare that Alec wondered if he should be worried about Izzy’s online records, particularly with the new knowledge Max was getting from his MIT program.

After a couple more rounds everyone started to unwind and at their table it was easy to believe they were in a small, protected bubble where everyone understood and accepted each other.  Alec actually relaxed, even though he was watching Max with his sticky fingers and had only intercepted two attempts to obtain alcohol, he found himself pushing away his worries, the weight lifting from his shoulders and joining in with the banter from his colleagues and family.

By the end of the first course Izzy had already facetimed with Simon once, giving him the opportunity to speak with everyone at the table, although Alec couldn’t help but keep his interaction to a brief hello while he held back a laugh at Simon’s look of indignation because Magnus had called him Sidney, passing him quickly on to Lydia who was sat to his left, ignoring the muttered ‘It’s been practically a year’ from his brother-in-law.

The food was high quality and well made, though a little light on the portions as far as Max and Jace were concerned.  Alec wasn’t entirely sure what they were complaining about, only able to consume a quarter of his plate on each course, but he did admit to himself it could be due to his recent appetite issues and the fact that he was also eating from Magnus plate.  Magnus had spoken favourably of the choices available so Alec guessed that the chef must have been at the top of his field, though he still found himself craving a bacon burger and, judging from the grin Magnus flashed his way, his boyfriend knew exactly what he was thinking.

In fact, on the whole, Alec had almost been able to forget that he was there to accept an award with his team.  He had certainly forgotten that he needed to say a few words when it happened.  That was, until the break came between the ceremony and the awards and he and Magnus were speaking with Will Herondale who they now knew had accompanied his grandmother to the event.

“You didn’t seriously think I would miss this!” he laughed as Alec expressed his bemusement that he was attending, knowing he hated these high society events as much as the detective did.

Alec ginned down at him, “You had to put a tux on Will”.

“True” he agreed with a nod of his head, rocking his chair backwards and forwards again, “And I have to tolerate all of these ars…” he paused when he caught the eye of a tech giant that was a generous donator to his mother’s campaigns.  “Aristocrats”.

Magnus snorted into his martini and Alec rolled his eyes.  “No one is going to believe you were going to say aristocrats”.

“Yeah” Will said sheepishly, “I’m pretty sure that word hasn’t been used since the Disney movie…”.

Alec frowned in confusion and looked at Magnus who just shook his head.  “I’m not taking you through the Disney movies again darling.  You can ask Madzie next time you see her”.

“Oh hey” Will suddenly remembered, “Your mom said Max is doing a taster course with MIT?”.

Alec nodded and looked around the room, knowing that he and Will had also formed a friendship during his recovery.  Max had accompanied Alec to one of Will’s physiotherapy sessions and they had bonded over the legalities of hacking and online security, Will’s specialism in the law.

“Yeah…” he looked around for his younger brother and saw him still sat at their table under the watchful eye of Izzy who was also trying to flatten his hair after the young man had ruffled it during dinner.

“I’d love to speak to him about it…?” Will asked, eyes hopeful.

Alec gave a small frown and a soft smile at his lack of confidence, “Sure, he’d love to see you.  He’s at our table if you want to go over?”.

Will nodded, “Excellent…” he started to wheel around Alec and Magnus but paused and glanced back, “And can’t wait to hear your speech!”.

Alec’s stomach dropped and he looked wide eyed at Magnus as Will hurried away.

Magnus lowered his glass, “What’s wrong love?” he asked.

“I made some notes, just a few sentences but left it in my coat…”

“Okay” Magnus put a hand on his arm, his thumb rubbing gentle circles as he saw the beginnings of panic on his young boyfriends face.  “We can…”.

“Alec!”

They both turned to see Luke heading their way with another man, about the same age as their captain, dressed in his fire chiefs uniform.

Alec looked at Magnus again, his face paling.

Magnus smiled reassuringly.  “Calm down sayang.  You speak with Luke and I’ll pop back to our room and fetch your notes”.

Alec let out the breath he had been holding, “Thank you Magnus”.

The older man stood on tiptoe and pressed a kiss to his lips, handing him his glass as he lowered himself back down.  “Thank me later” he said with a wink before Luke joined them.

“Alec, Magnus…” Luke greeted, “I’d like you to meet Elliot Dwyer, Fire and Rescue Chief”.

Alec turned to the man as Luke continued with his introduction.  The man that Luke was with was around the same height as them, which put him at 6’ at the very least.  He had broad shoulders and a short, stout neck which seemed to suggest he had spent many hours carrying heavy equipment and, most likely given his profession, people.  His salt and pepper hair had likely been dark at one time, and he had a thick moustache beneath his nose which gave him a regal appearance.

“Elliot, this is my partner’s eldest, Alec Lightwood and his boyfriend Magnus Bane” Luke finished.

The three men shook hands, Alec unable to help the comparison between Luke’s interaction with him and his own father’s.  Luke had no issues in introducing Magnus as his boyfriend to someone he obviously respected.  Robert could barely speak more than one sentence and his own partner still hadn’t met Magnus.

“Alec, Magnus” Elliott smiled warmly at them both.  “It’s good to meet you”.

“And you sir” Alec replied.

“Chief Dwyer…” Magnus began.

“Elliott, please” the older man corrected.

Magnus nodded politely, “Elliott.  While it is a pleasure to meet you, I must dash off on an important task.  It would be nice to speak with you later?”.

The man smiled, stretching out his greying moustache and nodded.  “Absolutely”.

Alec gave Magnus a kiss to the cheek, followed by another whispered thank you and then the older man headed off out of the ballroom and towards the elevators, Alec turning his attention back to the two men who had come to speak with him.

“Elliott has wanted to meet you for a while…” Luke continued.  “Just one of those things that gets pushed to the back burner and I never really got around to asking you…”.

“I’ve been nagging him every poker night” Elliott said with amusement, “Though they are monthly now, rather than weekly so I can see how he would easily forget.  Particularly with his age affected memory…”

“You’re older than me!” the police captain pointed out, bordering on outrage.

“Yeah, but I’ve accepted it” he teased, “It’s too much fun to see your reaction”.

Alec smiled at their banter, it bringing to mind his own team and friends.  He suddenly realised that this was a close friend of Luke’s, someone he had grown with while they both worked in their respective fields.  He felt honoured to be introduced to the man.

Elliott turned back to Alec, “I wanted to thank you actually…”.

Alec raised his eyebrows in surprise.  “Thank me?”.

“You placed a call, some time ago now, about a club… Sin-Sister?”

Alec felt the familiar twinge of anxiety in his chest, thinking back to the location of the first body Sebastian had left in a filthy alley beside a disreputable nightclub.

“Yeah, their working practices and building were… questionable” he mused.

“To say the least” Elliott agreed.  “We followed up… they were about two days from a massive fire which, considering they over filled the place every night, could have been a massive incident”.

“Shit” Alec swore, “I didn’t realise it was that bad…”.

“You did the right thing.  We closed them down and, after some back and forth, they plead out to… well, several charges but they received prison sentences”.

Alec’s eyebrows had practically met his hairline.  “Wow, I didn’t realise…”.

“I understand, you were had your own cases going on” he was trying to be very careful with his words, clearly he had thought about what he wanted to say.  “It’s a deserved award Alec, I’m glad you’re here to receive it”.

Alec swallowed hard, a little uncomfortable and his mind back on the public speaking he was going to have to do.

“Thank you” he said graciously, pushing the rest of his issues away.

“Well…” Elliott smiled at Luke, “I’ll be heading back to the wife, see you back at the table?”.

Luke shook his hand and then turned back to Alec as his friend moved away.  “How are you doing with all of this?” he asked.

“Okay” Alec answered honestly now it was just the two of them.  “It’s having to say something when we are up there that’s the issue…”.

Luke nodded in understanding.  “Just keep it simple Alec, no one wants to sit through a lengthy speech so you’ll be a hero twice over if you keep it as short as possible”.

“I wrote out a few words, Magnus went to get them” he said with a shrug.

“Ah…” Luke grinned again, “the important task”.

“Yeah” he glanced over to where he could see Maryse speaking with Jace, Clary and the mayor.  “How’s mom doing at a table with Robert?”.

“She’s coping” he answered honestly.  “I think it helps she’s had compliments from everyone while Annemarie looks like she is sucking lemons…”.

Alec blurted out a laugh and then slapped a hand over his mouth, eyes wide again. 

Luke raised his eyebrows at him, “Why Alec, has the alcohol abought out your bitchy side?”.

Alec lowered his hand and shook his head, “A little.  I’m attempting to stay clear headed but I think Magnus has been replacing my drinks quicker than I’m noticing”.

“Man knows how to drink” Luke took a swig out of his own bottle, his tone full of respect. 

“Keeping up with him is a fools game though” Alec pointed out.  “I don’t actually know where he puts it but he doesn’t seem to actually get drunk”.

“Maybe he does but he’s just an exceptional actor” Luke suggested, before going for a change of subject.  “I saw Robert talking to you both earlier?”.

“Yeah, he was asking how I was after…” Alec waved his hand, deciding he didn’t want to rehash the last few days.  “Anyway, he managed to speak to Magnus and shake his hand.  So I guess that is some kind of… growth”.

Luke nodded, going serious for a moment.  “I know it doesn’t seem much Alec, but he’s trying”.

“Yeah, I guess” he said softly, wondering whether it would ever be enough.  “I just don’t know if I want him to.  I came to terms with his opinion and… well, you can’t really miss what you never had.  Now I have to decide whether I want him in my… our life”.

“What’s your heart telling you son?” Luke asked kindly.

Alec let out a heavy sigh.  “When he refused to acknowledge Magnus it was easy.  We come as a package, if he wants a relationship with me he has to accept Magnus.  He struggled with that, even after saying he would try.  Tonight is the first time they have spoken since Magnus and I have been together and… well that’s just made everything even more confusing…”.

“And what does Magnus say?”

Alec smiled down at the martini glass in his hand, “You know Magnus, huge heart right there on his sleeve.  Of course he thinks I should give him a chance, even before Robert acknowledged him”.

“Do you want my opinion?” the older man asked cautiously.

Alec looked up, holding Luke’s gaze with confidence.  “Always”.

“Give him the chance he has asked for” he suggested.  “Yes, he may disappoint you and, if he does, it’ll likely hurt. But you won’t be left wondering for the rest of your life.  And there is always the possibility that it might work out”.

“Do you believe that?” he asked his father figure.

Luke mulled that over for a moment before nodding almost imperceptibly.  “I think that anything is possible when people want it enough.  And forgiveness can heal deep wounds”.

It was Alec’s time to think about the words that had been spoken before eventually responding.

“Maybe” he whispered.

“Oh, hang on…” Luke suddenly muttered into the neck of his bottle, with a complete change of tone  “…incoming”.

Alec glanced over his shoulder to see the mayor heading for them, determination in her steps and a grimace on her face.  Her whole demeaner was softened slightly by the sequined gown she wore but her stiff back and squared shoulders gave away that, even though she may be at an awards ceremony, this was still all business for her.

“Detective Lightwood” she said as soon as she reached them.

“Mayor Herondale” he greeted.

“I was wondering if I could impose on you for a favour?”.

Alec glanced at Luke, who shrugged, then looked back at the mayor to nod his acceptance.

“It appears that Robert misplaced his speech, he has to give one at the start of the awards.  He went to collect his notes and is running a little late. Perhaps you could check on him… maybe get him down here so we don’t have to start late?”.

Alec held back his sigh and nodded again, even managing a small smile.  “Of course, do you have his room number?”.

He really hoped that it wasn’t a case of like father like son, what were the chances they would both forget their speeches on the same night.

 

*****

 

Jace wasn’t sure whether he should be insulted or not.  Though he did find his girlfriends independence highly attractive, at times it left him feeling a little at a loss on what to do to be the chivalrous partner.  He took himself over to the bar and lent both elbows on it, waiting for his turn when someone arrived beside him, standing a little close to be a stranger.

He turned his head and his mismatched eyes landed on his sister, her wide, slightly intoxicated smile making him grin.  At one time Isabelle could have, and had, drunk him under the table.  But with motherhood came responsibility, and with that came little time to keep up your tolerance.

“Hey Izzy” he greeted her warmly, “where’s your date?”.

She giggled, turning her back to bar and leaning against it so she could look out over the crowd milling around the tables while they waited for the award part of the evening to start. 

“He has collared Jordan who is revealing some of the finer points of forensics that mom banned Simon from sharing” she explained.

Jace followed her gaze and saw Maia, Jordan and Max sat in a corner, huddled together secretively though even his could see Max’s wide eyes full of fascination.

“Jordan does know if Maryse finds out about this she’ll kill him” Jace commented.

Izzy snorted and turned back around, trying to gain the eye of one of the bar staff.  “You know Max, he can be quite persistent…”.

“What did he offer Jordan?” the blonde asked, under no illusions of how Max typically gets his own way.  He’d taught his younger brother most of his skills after all.

“Some techno-equipment thingy” she answered, beaming at the bartender now heading their way.  “Anyway, where’s your date?”.

Jace groaned, raking a hand through the lengthy hair above his undercut.  “She popped back to our room to address an unexpected female… event”.

Izzy stared at him for a moment.  “Jace, if your old enough and mature enough to have sex, your old enough and mature enough to say ‘menstruation’”.

“Eww” he frowned at his sister, and his cheeks flushed pink when the bartender stopped in front of them on the most inopportune part of that sentence.

The brunette rolled her eyes and decided to focus on their drinks order, knowing what everyone would be having and doubling up, guessing that the bar would be closed once the award ceremony started.  As the bartender busied himself with her order she went back to talking with her brother.

“She needs to be quick, I think they’re starting soon”.

Jace smiled knowingly.  “She’s got time.  Robert’s opening the awards with a speech, which he left in his room.  He went to go get it but is taking his sweet time so the mayor sent Alec up to fetch him”.

Izzy frowned at the thought, knowing their eldest brother probably wasn’t the best selection as he refused to be receptive to Roberts attempts at reconciliation until their father accepted Magnus, unconditionally.  “Why Alec?”.

“Convenience, he was stood right there talking to Luke when she found out” he explained, grabbing one of the bottles of IPA the barman had put down and taking a swig.

“Weren’t you talking to her at the time?” she pointed out.

“Yes, but I am ‘irresponsible’” he repeated, “And that is the nicest word she has used to describe me”.

“Annemarie’s here isn’t she” Izzy continued, “Why couldn’t she go?”.

“Last time I saw her she was cozying up to the chair of the cosmopolitan club, mom said something about her wanting to be involved in the New Year’s event planning…”.

“Bit late for that” Izzy laughed, knowing they start planning that event back in May because Maryse had often been asked to contribute.

“I think she is starting early hoping to be selected next year” he offered.

“Is she trying to compete with mom?” she mused, picking up her own drink and taking a sip.  The bartender placed the last drinks down and Izzy smiled, advising him it was on the ‘Lightwood’ tab, knowing full well that was her father’s, not Maryse’s.

Jace’s phone started to vibrate in his pocket and he pulled it out, see it was Clary calling.  “She is, I think mom is oblivious…” he swiped to answer and pressed the phone against his ear.  “Hey babe, you okay…”.

Izzy almost spat out her drinking, able to hear the pitch of Clary’s voice from the other side of her brother in a relatively loud bar.

Jace frowned, standing straight, “What?  Clary, slow down… I don’t understand… what about Alec?” he listened intently, his breath quickening with every word, his face paling.

Izzy watched the whole thing, her heart starting to race as Jace went from his usual fun loving, slightly arrogant, social self to the Jace she saw too often a year ago.

“What’s wrong with Alec?!” she demanded, slamming her drink down on the bar, suddenly very sober.

Jace help up a hand and flashed her an annoyed look as he tried to listen, “No, don’t go in there… I’m on my way…” he took off from the bar, ignoring Izzy’s shout of his name from behind, weaving quickly through the crowd, his mismatched eyes searching desperately for… Luke!

He picked up the pace, giving commentary to Clary as he did, trying to keep her calm.

 

*****

 

He left the hotel in the same way he had arrived, moving as though he belonged there, his overcoat hiding the blood that had covered him when he’d used the knife.  He’d thought about what he wanted to use when he planned the first step in his plan.  He had weighed the pros and cons but eventually it came down to self-satisfaction and feeling the knife slid through flesh like it was moving through butter, it had been too delectable to pass up.

Even now, as he rode down in the elevator, he felt a shiver down his spine at the memory of how his victim had crumpled, the warm spray as it soaked into his own clothes and the rattling breaths that were music to his ears.

The message he had left hadn’t been part of the plan though, the desire to leave a calling card on the wall in his victims blood had seemed contrite but he couldn’t resist it as soon as the thought was in his head.  So he had dipped his finger in the blood to impart his thought onto the pristine wall.  He’d had to go back and forth a few times, watched by the man who lay injured on the floor but he ignored him and made sure his task was done.

When he reached the ground floor he side stepped the guests waiting to enter the elevator and then made his way back out the revolving doors and down the steps to the sidewalk.  The air was fresh, the rain still falling persistently and he lifted his collar to keep the chill from his neck before sliding his hands into his pockets and strolling away, disappearing into the crowds surrounding him.

 

*****

 

The drive away from the building was smooth, very little traffic on the roads this time of night left their journey unhindered.  They had stopped for coffee at a drive through and were now well on their way to the address they had been given.

When his cell rang Bloodowl answered it promptly.

“Is it done?” he asked.

“Yes” he replied, knowing the man well enough now that he just wanted short and succinct answers to any questions he asked.

“And did you encounter any problems?” there was a hint of a warning in his tone, one that suggested serious consequences if they had.

“No, everything went smoothly and we’re on our way to the address now” Bloodowl advised.

“I’ll meet you there” his caller promised.  “We can discuss the next steps”.

Bloodowl hung up and looked at his colleague who was focused on driving safely through the rain, the last thing they wanted was to be pulled up by the police.

“Did he get it done?” Silverbrook asked.

“He didn’t say” he replied, “But considering his tone, I would assume so”.

Chapter Text

Luke snorted into his drink and Magnus stared at Maryse, utterly dumbfounded for a moment before finally collecting himself back together. 

“Seriously?” he asked, “That’s how he got the limp?”.

“Umm humm” Maryse said around the edge of her own wineglass, eyes twinkling with mischief.

“What about the twitch?” he asked under his breath.

Maryse opened her mouth to reply when Luke cleared his throat.

“Perhaps this isn’t the best time…” he tried to reason.

Magnus looked at him briefly, nodding once.  “Quite right Luke, time and place after all”.  He turned to Maryse and winked at her, “You and I will talk on Wednesday”.

Luke sighed in exasperation.  Magnus had originally stopped by on his return to the ballroom looking for Alec and had stayed for gossip with Maryse when Luke had explained the mayor had sent him to fetch his father.  The pair of them together and tipsy was like having a pair of over-keen snitches trying to out do each other.  Utterly uncontrollable and highly likely to land him in deep shit. 

“Can you two…” he started to scold but was cut off when someone grabbed his elbow so hard his drink sloshed onto the floor.  “What the hell…”.  This time he was cut off when he turned and saw a panicked Jace staring up at him.

“We have to go” he announced.

“What?” Luke frowned, starting to worry.  “Jace…”.

“You…” then he seemed to notice Magnus, “…and Magnus.  You need to come with me now”.

“What’s going on Jace?” Maryse asked, a worried frown on her brow.

Her adopted son swallowed hard, but ignored her question and looked at his surrogate father with pleading eyes.  “Please, now!”.

“Okay” Luke relented, keeping his tone soft and handed his drink to Maryse.  “We’ll come…” he looked at Magnus whose eyes seemed to be searching the crowd, clearly concerned this was Alec related but hoping he would see his boyfriend somewhere safe and sound.

Jace turned, secure in the knowledge that the two men would follow him, and headed for the doors that led back into the lobby.

Magnus was the first to move, dropping his glass so unceremoniously on a table as he passed that it tipped and split immediately.  He ignored the indignant cries that came from the tables occupants, and what he thought was Izzy calling his name from somewhere, his eyes focus solely on Jace’s back.

Luke gave Maryse’s arm a reassuring squeeze, promising he would call her as soon as he knew what was going on and asking her to keep the rest of their group in the ballroom just in case.  He was no fool, Jace was not easily panicked and the last time he had seen him this way… it didn’t bare thinking about. 

He raced after his son and another young man who had become like family to him, catching them up at the elevators.  They jumped in one together, Jace snapping for his floor to the attendant who, despite the blonde’s tone, managed to stay composed.

“Jace…” Luke started to demand, his tone firmer this time, wanting an explanation.

He held up his cell, “Clary… she had to… she needed to go to our room and… and Alec had to go to cause Robert forgot his speech and the mayor…”.

Magnus reached the end of his patience, grabbing Jace by his biceps and giving him a reasonably sharp shake.  “Where’s is Alec?” he demanded in an almost snarl.

“Clary found him, he’s sat in the corridor.  He’s… she said he’s covered in blood and she doesn’t know…”.

The attendant looked horrified, Luke lent forward and started jabbing at the floor button uselessly and Magnus felt like his world was tipping.

“Clary said he seems out of it…” Jace trailed off, turning his eyes to watch as the numbers moved up.

Thankfully the basic rooms were located on the lower floors so they didn’t wait long before the elevator dinged and the doors slid open.

“Should I call for the cops?” the attendant asked worriedly.

Luke whipped his badge out of his pocket as an explanation, “But you might want to alert the manager” he explained as he shot out after Magnus who had Jace hot on his heels.

They had to run down the length of the corridor, which turned left at the end and, with the help of adrenaline from sheer panic, Magnus was actually a hair faster than Jace as he skidded around the corner, unable to miss the sight before him.

Alec was sat on the floor, one leg stretched out, the other bent at the knee and his back lent against the hallway wall, next to a door that was cracked open, Clary couched opposite him, her lips moving as she murmured soft words that he didn’t seem to hear.  His boyfriend held his arms out in front of him, his palms up and was staring at them, almost with confusion.  They were covered in blood, as were the lower sleeves of his suit jacket and the front of his shirt.

With a vicious swear Magnus sped up, putting all of his energy into crossing the final yards before he finally dropped, painfully, to his knees at the younger man’s side.  In almost the same instance Jace reached Clary, drawing her to her feet and put his arm around her, even as his eyes searched Alec for any obvious injury.

“Alec?” Magnus said kindly, leaning into his boyfriends field of vision, noting his eyes did look glazed over.  “Can you hear me?”.

Alec looked at him, giving Magnus some momentary relief.

“What did I do?” Alec asked softly, his voice think with the same confusion Magnus had seen in his eyes already.

“That’s all he keeps saying”, Clary told them, Luke stepping over Alec’s legs, his attention on the cracked doorway as he could see that Alec and Clary were in good hands.

Magnus smiled at Alec, trying to keep his attention without touching him.  He wanted nothing more than to pull Alec into his arms but he knew if he had been attacked he couldn’t risk hurting hm further.  He did let his eyes wander for a moment though, trying to identify any injuries but he couldn’t see anything obvious so his eyes returned to Alec’s.

“Okay love…” he said, “I’m here.  We just need to wait for the paramedics…” clicked his fingers at Jace without breaking his eye contact with Alec.

Jace got the message and used his cell, which he realised was bizarrely still connected to Clary.  He hung up and placed a call to the 911 switchboard, giving his badge number and asking for paramedics to be sent to the hotel, giving the code for ‘officer injury’.

While this was happening Luke had used his finger, wrapped in the sleeve of his jacket to push the door open, having seen the trail of blood coming out from the doorway. 

Two steps in, that was all it took, for him to see Robert Lightwood, stretched out on his back, throat cut and the white carpet he laid on stained deep red from the blood that had poured from the wound. 

He restrained the expletive that had automatically risen, shifting into his captain role, eyes darting around the scene.  He saw a knife, abandoned on the floor and a heavy glass vase close to the door, blood on the base.  But the biggest concern were the words that had been painted in red on the wall, most likely in Robert’s blood.

 

‘You’re welcome Alec’

 

He heard movement behind him and quickly retraced his footsteps backwards, covering his hand with his jacket again and pulling the door closed.  He arrived back with the other four as Jace hung up from his call to paramedics and Luke turned to Magnus.

“Does he have a head wound?” he asked, thinking of the vase on the floor.

Magnus gave the older man a quick glance, but didn’t question him.  He turned back to the his young man and raised his hands slowly.

“Darling, can I check your head?” he asked him kindly, “You may have been hurt”.  ‘More like someone hurt you’ he thought to himself angrily, doing everything to keep the tone out of his voice.

Alec looked at him with a frown, “I… someone hit me… from behind…” he seemed to be starting to remember and, even though Magnus didn’t know what was in that room, he knew it was nothing good.

“Let me check sayang” he whispered.

Alec nodded, then seemed to wince and pale, but he tilted his head forward, closing his eyes against the nausea he was hit with.

Magnus didn’t actually need to poke around, the matted hair obvious and a deep cut visible even through Alec’s thick locks.

“Okay…” he rested a hand reassuringly on Alec’s shoulder, “…raise your head darling”.

Alec did as he was asked, leaning it back against the wall, but his eyes remained closed.

Magnus looked at Luke and nodded confirmation that he had a head injury.  He was about to ask what Luke had found when footsteps hurrying down the hallway had him looking over his shoulder and Luke springing into action.

The captain moved back the way they had come, intercepting the manager who had arrived with two security officers.  Magnus couldn’t hear what they were saying as Clary seemed to be giving Jace what for.

“No” she told him firmly, defiance in her eyes and her arms crossed.

“Babe, please” he asked, “if you’re in our room I know you’re safe…”.

“I found him Jace, you think I don’t realise you need to take care of Alec?  I’m fine” she snipped back.

Magnus found himself feeling all kinds of fondness for the red head while he kept his attention on Alec, who seemed to be struggling with memories even as they waited for help to come.

“I… I was supposed to get Robert…” he muttered.

“Shush darling”, Magnus played with the loose curls at his fringe, knowing it always soothed the younger man but also staying well away from the wound.

Luke was suddenly back, two security guards posted at the corner and the hotel manager nowhere in sight.  “The manager is going to coordinate the paramedics from the lobby.  I’m calling this in to the team on shift and I also need to call the mayor…”.

“What team?”, Jace asked, leaving his debate with Clary for the time being.

Luke looked at Jace, then to Magnus and sighed.  “Homicide”.

“What…” Jace stuttered for a moment, then made a lurch towards the doorway but Luke grabbed his arm and restrained him.

“No… do not contaminate the scene”, he warned, his tone firm and brokering no arguments.

“Is it Robert?”, he demanded.

Luke nodded, and Jace just didn’t know how to feel about that.

“What we need to do is focus on the job” Luke said, keeping his voice low.  “Scott’s team are on duty so they’ll catch this case. Which means you can’t be on that team anymore, call Maia and get her and Jordan up here, let’s just hope they haven’t had too much to drink”.

He watched Jace nod and pull out his cell again, while he used his to call Scott.  He filled him in with as much detail as he could, as briefly as he could and then Scott gave him an ETA of 30 minutes, asking him to keep the scene secure. 

When he ended the call he looked down at Alec, who, under Magnus’ care, seemed to be coming back to reality, and he didn’t want that to happen fully while he was still sat on the floor in the hallway.

“We can take Alec to mine and Jace’s room” Clary offered gently, almost unsure as to whether it was possible for Alec to leave the scene.

Luke looked at her in surprise, then down at Magnus who had heard and nodded.  He turned back to the red head and smiled.

“Okay, you and Magnus get him in there and sat down.  Do not let him get undressed, do not clean any of the blood away.  It sounds awful and… cruel, but we cannot risk being accused of tampering with evidence…”.

“Meaning what?!” Jace demanded, now off the phone and his attention back on the main group.

Luke gave a tired sigh.  “There are always, several… narratives when you first arrive at a scene.  Robert has been murdered, Alec is covered in his blood… Alec and Robert don’t get along…”.

“Are you fucking kidding me…” Jace hissed, momentarily distracted as he watched Magnus and Clary helping Alec to his feet, both getting smothered in his adoptive father’s blood as they did.

“It’s one interpretation Jace…”.

“Well, here’s another one for you…” the blonde almost snarled.  “Alec came up here to get him, as he was told to by the mayor.  He interrupted the killer who smacked him on the head and ran… Alec tried to give chase but because of a fucking head wound…” he was gesticulating to the space where Alec had been sat, his head lent against the wall which now sported a bloody smear.

Luke clasped Jace by the shoulders, and looked him straight in the eyes with an intensity that silenced the younger man.

“I know” he said firmly, “And I have no doubt that is what the evidence will say.  But we all have to go through the process… without any room for doubt”.

Jace swallowed and nodded.

“You good?” he asked.

Jace nodded again.  “Yeah.  Maia and Jordan on their way”.

Jace made a move to help Magnus and Clary who were heading further down the corridor to their room but Luke kept a grip on him.

“Hey, I need your help right now, Magnus and Clary have him.  Okay?”.

Jace took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “Okay” he agreed, somewhat reluctantly though.

“The manager’s sending up staff to clear this floor, but we’re lucky as most of them are guests to our event so we won’t have a huge number moving around the scene…”

“CCTV?” Jace immediately asked.

Luke sighed and pinched his nose.  “It’s been out since this morning, security and tech support have been working on it but… they haven’t gotten anywhere yet”.

“Well that’s convenient” Jace muttered.

They heard additional footsteps and looked up to see more security join the two that were guarding the corridor.

“Go deal with them” Luke told Jace as he opened his cell again and flicked through the names.  “I’m going to call the mayor… then Maryse”.

Jace nodded and went to speak with the hotel staff, a knot in him stomach that was quickly growing tighter.

 

*****

 

While Luke and Jace were dealing with the immediate fall out, Magnus was only interested in getting Alec sat down and receiving medical assistance.  The latter would have to wait, but Biscuit’s offer had been ideal and he found himself very grateful.

As soon as they were in the room Magnus led Alec over to the armchair in the corner and sat him down, bending over him to check him over again.

“Alec, do you know where you are?” he asked, aware he could see some dilation in his eyes which shouldn’t be there.

“Plaza” he mumbled, pressing the heel of his hand into him temple.  “My head hurts”.

“We think you were hit…” Clary said then looked at Magnus.  “Maybe I should get him some water?”.

Magnus shook his head, “Strong, hot coffee, no milk but very sweet” he asked before he headed over to their mini fridge, thankfully finding ice inside.

He pulled it out turned to his friend who was on her way to the bathroom with the kettle.  “Biscuit, do you have a scarf…”

“Yes” she called out, “in my case Magnus, bottom of the closet”.

Magnus dug it out quickly, wrapping it around the bag of ice as he made his way back to Alec, perching on the arm of the chair and placing the icepack gently against the back of Alec’s head.

Alec winced, scrunching his eyes up against the sharp pain he felt.

“I’m sorry love” Magnus whispered.  “It will help soon, I promise”.

“What happened?” Alec asked, still confused.

Clary came back with a hot coffee and held it out to him.  “Alec, you should drink this…”.

He cracked an eye, took the mug and, with a half hearted smile of thanks, closed his eye again, choosing to drink from the mug blind.  Magnus decided this was likely a bonus as Alec seemed to have forgotten the fact that he was covered in blood… his father’s blood.

He took a swig, making a face at the amount of sugar that was in the drink, then carried on anyway.  In between gulps he tried to put together what had happened.

“I… I was sent to do something…” he tried to explain.

“Hush” Magnus tried to sooth, giving Clary a worried look.  “Try not to think, the paramedics will be here soon”.

“But it was important…” he took a deep breath in through his nose and then let it out slowly through his mouth.  “The mayor asked me”.

His eyes snapped open and he looked at Magnus.

“Alexander…” he begged, “…please.  Just rest”.

“No… she… shit, I had to get Robert.  He went to get his speech and hadn’t come back…”.

That’s when the memory returned, Magnus saw it in every line of his boyfriends face, every shadow and the way what little colour was left just drained away, leaving his pallor almost grey.  With his free hand he lifted trembling fingers to his lips, resting them there very lightly.

“Robert…” his other hand seemed to weaken and the coffee started to tip, but Clary reacted quickly and managed to catch it before his split it into his lap.  “The door was open… I knocked and heard him… I thought I heard him… call me in…”.

His eyes fell to the hand on his lips and he pulled it away as though it had given him an electric shock, the trembling escalating to shaking.

“He was on the floor… there was so much blood…” his voice was a whisper and he was staring into the middle distance.  “I tried to… I tried to stop the bleeding, and…”.

“Alec please” Magnus wanted to keep him from panicking, they had to keep him as still as possible so not to be suspected of tampering with evidence.

But Alec wasn’t listening, he was running through what had happened and he couldn’t stop until he had it all out.  “There was someone else there…”.

He tried to stand but Magnus used his free hand on Alec’s nearest shoulder to keep him pressed down, “You have to stay still sayang…”.

“We have to find them!” he looked a mix of desperate to catch the person who had killed his father and hurt that Magnus would try and stop him.

“They are long gone love” he reasoned.  “They hit you on the head, you were unconscious.  Clary found you in the hallway…”.

“I let them get away” his said quietly, clearly horrified.

Magnus shook his head and smiled down at him kindly, “No, you were in the hallway…” he repeated, “…you took a hell of a whack to the head and you still tried to go after them”.

“But I failed…” he admitted.

“Most couldn’t have made it that far” Magnus felt sure he could move his hand from Alec’s shoulder, and he went back to carding his fingers through his hair while his other hand still held the ice pack in place.

Alec went silent then, seeming to drift back into his thoughts.  He occasionally rubbed his hands on his pants, trying to get as much of the blood off as he could.  Magnus wondered if he should stop him for the sake of evidence but he figured whether the blood was on his hands or his clothes, forensics would still be able to get a sample and analyse it, so his left his boyfriend to it.

All three of them were unsure how long they had been gathered in the corner of the room for when they suddenly heard a disturbance outside, including raised voices.

“We are police, let us through…” a female voice demanded.

A murmured response came.

“I don’t give a shit who you are, let us past…” there was a pause, “See this?  It’s a police badge…”.

Another grumble came from the person arguing back.

“Because I was at the ceremony…” the voice cut off and they heard some footfalls. Then, in an angry growl, “If you value the use of your hand you’d better take it the fuck off me right now”.

Alec gave a small, almost hysterical snort, “Lydia”.

Then they heard Luke, yelling at whoever was trying to stop Lydia getting to her partner to let her go through and a second later there was banging on the door.

Clary rushed to open it and no sooner was it cracked open than the blonde bolted in, almost knocking Clary into the wall as the door pushed back, Maia and Andrew hot on her heels.

“Fuck…” she dropped to her knees in front of Alec, peering up into his misty eyes.  “What do you need?”.

Alec swallowed thickly, “Find out who did it” he croaked.

She looked at Magnus, then back to Alec, nodded once and was on her feet and back out to the hallway, ordering Andrew and Maia with her.  The whole interaction lasting no more than a minute in total yet Alec seemed… less tense knowing his team was doing what he asked.

They were silent again for a few moments, this time Clary broke it.

“Do you want more coffee Alec?” she asked quietly.

Magnus couldn’t tell if her tone was because of Alec’s head injury or because of the overall situation, either way he appreciated her effort.

Alec opened his mouth the answer when the door burst open again, this time Jace was the culprit and he headed straight over to Alec, letting the door swing shut of its own accord.

“Alec…” he said, worry tainting his voice.

“I’m okay Jace” he replied with a weak smile.

“Like hell you are” he leaned around to look at the back of his brother’s head, Magnus pulling the icepack away for a moment to let him assess the wound before returning it gently to its original position.

“Don’t they need you…” but Alec’s question trailed off when Jace shook his head.

“Woolsey’s here with Raj and Aldetree, I can’t work the case because…” he stopped, taking a breath.  “Luke is switching me and Maia.  Bat came with some forensic techs…”.

Alec suddenly looked panic stricken, “Max… Izzy…” he looked at Jace, eyes wide.  “Mom…”.

“Luke called mom” he said kindly.  “She’s told Max and Izzy and she’s taking them home.  Izzy called Simon and he’s getting the next flight out of Vegas”.

“Annemarie?” Alec asked quietly.

“Luke went down and spoke to her face to face” he grimaced.  “Uniform’s taken her to the station and, apparently, her daughter is going to meet her there”.

“I didn’t know she had a daughter…” Alec muttered sadly.  “I feel like I should have known that… why didn’t I know that…”.

Jace looked worriedly at Magnus.  Magnus’ lips twitched in a small smile then he shook his head almost imperceptibly but Jace understood the message, ‘head injury’.

“Any idea what Woolsey is thinking? Magnus asked Jace as Alec went quiet again, retreating into his thoughts.

Jace started to pace, and that made Magnus suspicious, his eyes narrowing.  “I don’t know, but he wants to interview Alec…”.

“That makes sense” Magnus pointed out.  “He was first on the scene…”.

Jace gave him a look that said ‘wake up Magnus’ but carried on pacing, Clary’s green eyes watching the exchange with earnest.

“Under caution” he added.

Suspicion went to anger, “He doesn’t seriously think…”.

“I don’t know what he thinks Magnus” Jace snapped, the stress of the situation getting the better of him.  “I barely know the man… but apparently you know him really well.  Maybe you should give us some insight into what he might be thinking!”.

Magnus stiffened at Jace’s outburst, realising that either Woolsey had spoken to the young man about their past, or Jace had asked.  Either way he wasn’t impressed, but that discussion was for another time.

“I will let that go blondie, considering the gravity of the situation…” he was cut off when there was another knock on the door and Magnus seriously hoped that this time it was the paramedics.

Chapter Text

Clary went to answer it again, happy to have something she could do that would get her away from the awkward atmosphere.

When she opened it Woolsey and Aldetree stood in the doorway.

“Miss Fray?” Woolsey asked.

She nodded.

“I’m…”

“We know who you are Woolsey” Magnus called from across the room, “Both of you.  Come in and say what you want to say”.

Clary stepped back and allowed the two men in, closing the door softly behind them and then going to sit on the edge of the bed, Jace joining her with a sullen expression on his face.

“Always direct Magnus, somethings never change” he remarked though his face was mirthless.

Magnus just levelled him with an impassive stare, refusing to respond.

Woolsey’s cheek twitched and Magnus recognised the tell.  It was Woolsey forcing a smile down and, right now, he wanted to slap it off his face.

“Alec” the other lead detective turned his attention away from his ex.  “Can you tell me what happened…”.

“He has a head injury” Magnus immediately intercepted.  “He needs to be checked by paramedics, and should be going to the hospital”.

Woolsey nodded in agreement.  “They’re on their way… but I am sure Alec can give us a preliminary run down of what happened in his father’s room…”.

“That is not procedure” Magnus pointed out stubbornly.  “With a head injury, anything he says now could be confused…”.

“Perhaps we should speak with Alec alone?” Aldetree suggested.

“Perhaps you should fuck off” Magnus snapped, his irritation interfering with his usual eloquence.

“Magnus…” Woolsey said, a soft warning in his tone.

“No” he turned his anger back to him.  “Anything Alec says right now cannot be used in the record.  You should not be talking to him until he’s had an assessment to see whether he is fit to be interviewed”.

“You sound like you’re protecting a suspect” Woolsey frowned, clearly annoyed that Magnus was blocking him from speaking with the first person on the scene, and that he was right.

Magnus’ jaw flexed as he ground his teeth.  “I’m protecting a witness who is impaired…”.

“And happens to be your boyfriend” Woolsey argued back.

“As well as a decorated officer” Magnus snapped.

“PLEASE!” Alec blurted out, fingers rubbing hard across his forehead.  “Magnus, it’s okay” he turned his hazel eyes up to his boyfriend and tried the best smile his could muster.

Magnus didn’t find it particularly reassuring, but he respected Alec’s decision and gave him a firm nod, promising to keep his objections to himself.  He glared at Woolsey, “You have until the paramedics arrive, because you are not delaying his treatment”.

Alec looked back at Woolsey and took a deep breath.  “Mayor Herondale asked me to see what was taking Robert so long.  He’d forgotten his speech and the awards ceremony couldn’t start without him because he was opening it…”.

“Why you?” Woolsey asked.  “His partner is here isn’t she?”.

Alec shrugged, “You’ll have to ask the mayor, but I think it’s because she saw me first.  Anyway, I came up and the door was open, I called out and he… I thought it was him, calling me in…”.

“You don’t know your own father’s voice?” Aldetree said, speaking down his nose at Alec.

“We rarely speak and he didn’t actually say anything, it was more of a grunt.  So I pushed the door open and went in… that’s when I found him…”.

There was more knocking on the door and Clary jumped up again.

“Was he already dead?” Woolsey asked, somewhat brusquely.

Alec opened his mouth to answer but stopped when he saw two paramedics heading his way, both manoeuvring a stretcher that had equipment stacked on top of it.

“Mr Lightwood?” the one up front asked, a middle-aged, balding man with a kind smile.

“Yes” Magnus replied eagerly, giving Woolsey a pointed look.

The lead detective looked like he was chewing a wasp but relented.  “We’ll wait outside until you’re ready…”.

“No sir” Mr Kind-Smile said.  “We’ve had a brief run down of Mr Lightwoods history with head injuries and he needs to go in to be checked by a doctor.  We’ll be taking him to the hospital”.

Magnus decided he owed Luke a very expensive bottle of scotch.

“We need to interview him…” Woolsey argued.

“You can negotiate that with Mr Lightwood once he has been released from the hospital” he explained, somehow patiently but with a tone suggesting Woolsey was an asshole.

He swung the stretcher around, very nearly taking out Aldetree’s ankles in the process and causing the man to take several steps backwards.

“Now…” he started pulling the bags and equipment off the stretcher, turning his full attention to his patient “…we just need you to pop up onto the stretcher, we’ll take your vitals and then we’ll be on our way”.

He was speaking to Alec as though the two detectives had already left the room, which gave them very little choice but to do just that and Magnus decided he may need to buy two of those bottles of scotch.

“Alec, you need to come to the precinct as soon as you’re released to give your official statement” Woolsey informed him, speaking over the paramedics as they continued to work while ignoring him completely.

Alec nodded wearily, getting to his feet with Magnus’ help and climbing onto the stretcher.  “I’ll text you when we’re on our way” he promised.

Magnus and Woolsey both caught the use of ‘we’ though they had very different reactions to Alec’s confirmation that Magnus would be there too.

 

*****

 

When Woolsey and Aldetree made it back into the hallway they immediately retraced their steps back to the commissioners room.  A proper cordon had been put in place, stopping anyone from passing the room on the way to the elevators.  It meant that the paramedics would have to wheel Alec the long way round but it was a small price to pay in order to keep the scene secure.

They signed in with the officer who then gave them forensic packets and they put on the overalls, gloves and foot covers, pulling up the their hoods as they went to meet with the M.E. who was bent over Robert Lightwood, examining his neck wound closely.

“Nath” Woolsey greeted.

They looked up briefly and nodded in greeting, but quickly went back to their work.

Woolsey took in the scene which consisted of Bat from forensics and two of his technicians.  Jordan had wanted to help but he had been drinking that night and they couldn’t risk it, so he had returned downstairs.  Right now Bat was taking photo’s, he had been documenting the whole room but at this very moment he was in front of the message that had been written in Robert’s blood.  Woolsey thought he probably shouldn’t assume and he would wait for the forensic results, but he doubted a killer would have brought paint to the scene. 

He didn’t actually think that Alec had done this, aside from the man being terminally decent, he wasn’t stupid enough to be something like this when he had been sent up to the room.

But, he was still a witness and what was galling to Woolsey was the nepotism in the department.  He wasn’t a fool, he knows someone told the paramedics about Alec’s medical history and he suspected Luke.  He had to admit he was intrigued, he’d have to find out what had happened as people seemed to tiptoe around the young detective, despite him showing himself as a capable and impressive police officer.  The man had caught Valentine for gods sake!

Okay, he’d heard about the fiasco with Verlac and he knew the case was being tried at the moment but he wasn’t privy to all of the details.  He had heard that there had been an infatuation with Lightwood, to the point where Verlac had abducted the younger sibling.

Aldetree and Raj had been, less than complimentary, but he had quickly realised the pair were homophobic assholes so had disregarded their comments.  Aside from one point, that people went out of their way to protect Alec but that wasn’t going to happen in his investigation.  It would be done by the book and he would be treated as any other witness, regardless of who he was and who he knew.

He heard a throat being cleared and was torn from his musings to see Nath stood at his side.

“Apologies Nath…” Woolsey smiled, “My mind had run away with me”.

They nodded in understanding, “I’ve finished, forensics have also done what they need to with the commissioner… he can be removed from the scene now and I’ve called up the staff from the morgue.  They’ll be here shortly”.

“Do you have anything you can tell me now?” he asked.

“I can’t see any other injuries aside from his throat so it’s a good bet that was the cause of death.  Looks like the cut was left to right, so you want someone right handed.  But that’s it for now and it all needs to be confirmed in the official report”, Nath warned.

Woolsey nodded, “Thanks Nath” and then he stepped back, allowing them to move past him and out of the room so they could return to the precinct and prepare for the autopsy.

Most likely the most important autopsy they would ever have to do.

 

*****

 

The ER was busy so Alec was surprised when they were able to allocate a cubical to him, the paramedics wheeling him straight into it on the stretcher.  They had originally wanted to lift him across, but with a well timed glare they took a step back and let Alec scoot himself over to the hospital bed, Magnus watching him carefully, knowing he needed some control right now.

Once Alec was settled on the new bed, the paramedics focused on running through their test results with the doctor while a nurse approached Alec in order to attach several devices to him so they could monitor him themselves.  Alec eyed her suspiciously but allowed her to do her job, watching every move she made carefully.

Magnus had one eye on Alec, trying to monitor his reactions to having a stranger’s hands on him, while also trying to listen to what the doctor was discussing with her staff.  It was no surprise that the word ‘concussion’ was being used frequently, but what worried Magnus was the doctors insistence that he would need a CT scan because of this past head injuries.

Eventually the nurse finished with Alec and he had ended up sat cross legged in the middle of the bed, a sensor attached to one finger of this left hand, his bloody shirt open to the bottom of his breast bone from when she had listened to his heart and his lungs.

He looked pale and forlorn, his eyes red, the lids half closed with exhaustion but he was still diligently holding the makeshift icepack to the back of his head, even though it was now more of a bag of water rather than ice.

Magnus had stepped out of the way so the doctor could check the head wound properly.  She was careful and tender, respectful of Alec’s personal space which he could only assume the paramedics had advised her about after their experience in the ambulance.  She sent the nurse off to fetch some items and, when she had returned they had worked together to clean the wound.  Thankfully she had actually been pleased once she could see clearly, announcing that the wound wasn’t as bad as it had seemed but it would need stitching.

Alec simply sighed, resigned to that fact as soon as he realised he was bleeding from a cut.  The nurse had fetched a suture kit and he had held still while the doctor completed the process.  Magnus had taken his hand though, considering Alec’s response, it was more for his own benefit than his boyfriends.  Three stitches later and the doctor spread antibacterial cream then placed a bandage over the area, thankfully without having to shave any hair away.

Next the doctor explained that the nurse would be back with a proper icepack for him and they would also arrange for an orderly to take him to CT as soon as possible.  She suggested a hospital gown for him to change into but Alec shook his head, instantly regretting it when he felt a wave of nausea and a sweat breaking out on his brow.  With deep breaths he was able to avoid throwing up, narrowly, and he found himself being handed a cardboard basin at the same time as a new icepack, just in case.

Finally, after what felt like an age, he and Magnus were alone and the first thing that Magnus did was draw the curtain across the front of Alec’s cubical, giving him the privacy he knew he would want.  As he turned and made his way back to his younger boyfriend he stripped out of his own suit jacket, now stained with blood that had transferred to him from Alec’s own clothes.

He dropped it in the chair and, taking the icepack that Alec had been staring at from his hands, he sat on the edge of the bed, just behind the detective, and held it against his head wound.

Alec flinched initially, but gritted his teeth and waited for the cold to do its job and numb the area.

“I’m sorry love” Magnus apologised, seeing the hinge of Alec’s jaw flex.

“It’s okay” Alec replied, “Thank you”.

“For holding an icepack?” he asked.

Alec turned his head to the side, looking at his boyfriend out of the corner of his eye.  “For everything”.

Magnus smiled at him, “I haven’t done anything, yet”.

Alec swallowed, “Scott thinks I did this”.

He didn’t ask it as a question, he had already decided what his colleague was suspecting because it was what he would suspect in his position.

“You and I both know that is not what happened, as does everyone else who knows you” Magnus reassured.  “The evidence will show what happened”.

Alec looked down at himself, at the beautiful suit that Magnus had bought for him which was now soaked in his father’s blood.  He felt a wave of loss flow through him, bringing a sting to his eyes, and he struggled to understand it.  His father and he had been estranged for so long, he had few memories of him from before he was 17 and Robert had discovered him kissing his then boyfriend.  He had even fewer memories of Robert as a father even before then.  He had always been a police officer first and foremost, a captain when Alec was a baby and working his way up to commissioner quickly.  There had been no time for kind words, only obedience and discipline.

So why did it feel as though there was a hole in his chest, an emptiness that was so cold it was sending a shiver down his spine.

Magnus must have seen it because he shifted closer on the bed, sliding an arm around Alec’s waist and easing him back until he was pressed against his front, instantly feeling the warmth from the older man’s body seeping into his skin.  Alec closed his eyes and focused on the heartbeat he could feel against his back, the rise and fall of Magnus’ chest as he breathed, all of it helping to ground him.

“Is this okay?” Magnus asked softly, well aware of what happened the last time he approached Alec from behind.

“Yeah” Alec assured him though his voice was scratchy.

They sat in silence for a moment and Magnus took the time to run through the nights events, focusing on Woolsey’s attitude towards his colleague.  He wasn’t vain enough to believe his suspicions were simply because Alec was Magnus’ chosen partner, but he couldn’t help but wondering if the resentment was an underlying factor.

He was still mulling this over, feeling a hint of regret in how he had conducted his relationship with Woolsey, even though he had been nothing but honest with the man, when Alec suddenly sat bolt upright, pulling out of his grip and away from the ice pack.

He opened his mouth to speak and then promptly bent over to vomit into the basin he had been provided.  Magnus cringed, using his free hand to rub small circles onto Alec’s back and waited it out.  Their earlier meal was clearly not as pleasant coming up as it had been going down.

After some coughing and spluttering Alec finally drew in a deep breath and straightened up again, eyes searching for something.  Magnus took a guess and yanked several tissues from the box that was on the bedside table, handing them to his boyfriend who gave him a small smile as a thank you and them blew his nose.

“You need to move slowly love” Magnus advised kindly, “I don’t think there is any doubt you at least have a concussion”.

Alec dropped the tissues into the basin and rubbed the sweat from his forehead.  “Yeah”.

Magnus ran his fingers through his hairs from behind, then gently laid the ice pack against his head again.  “What did you remember?”.

“I have to call… I need to check on Izzy and Max… and Jace.  Where did they go?” Alec asked, his voice quickening as he started to worry about his siblings.

Magnus held in his sigh, “Alec…”.

“I need to make sure they’re okay Magnus” Alec tensed, ready to get off the bed but Magnus gripped his arm.

“Stop” he said firmly and waited for Alec to look at him.  “You are in no condition to be moving around.  Jace is with Clary, and Izzy and Max have Maryse… they are safe and with people who care…”.

His lecture was cut off when the curtain was flung back and a familiar face dived through, blonde hair being wiped from her eyes in her haste to get to them.

Alec frowned, “Helen?” he said.

She took on a gulp of air, clearly having run from wherever she had come from.  “Hey… Izzy called… Cat… we were going… into surgery… she let me out… to come… check” she said between gulps, trying to get her breath back.

Magnus lent over and grabbed his jacket from the chair, then nodded at it to her.  Helen took the steps over and gratefully sunk down.

“Thanks” she said still breathless, “I need to do some cardio”.  Though even as she spoke she was logging into the tablet she held in her hands and accessing Alec’s records.

“Doesn’t Cat need you?” Alec asked, not wanting to be a bother and Magnus had to refrain from rolling his eyes at Alec’s complete lack of self-care.

“There are other nurses, she wanted me to check on you…” Helen looked up at him, her green eyes worried.  “Izzy said…”.

“Robert’s dead” Alec relied and looked away, down into his lap then grimaced at the sight of the basin.

Helen noticed and stood again, taking the basin and  leaning out the curtain, mumbling to someone passing that they couldn’t see.  Once she leaned back in she was holding a new basin which she placed on Alec’s lap.

When she returned to the tablet his file had obviously loaded.  “There’s not much here you don’t know” she explained.  “They have you down as a likely concussion, but want a CT scan before they determine how serious it is… if your vomiting then it’s more than just mild…”.

“It’s only when I move too fast” Alec said, as though that meant the symptom could be discredited.

“Oh well, that’s okay then” Helen snarked at him sarcastically.

Magnus looked shocked for a moment but it eased quickly when Alec actually let out a soft chuckle.  “I see your bedside manner hasn’t changed much since I was in the ICU” the younger man commented.

“My bedside manner is fine Lightwood, it’s my tolerance to your bullshit that remains low” she replied, shutting down the tablet.

“I like you Helen” Magnus said, a grin on his face.  “Can you always be his nurse?”.

“The frequency with which he is in here he needs a personal service” she muttered back.

The curtain was drawn back suddenly, making them all jump and they found an unfamiliar face stood at the opening of Alec’s cubical dressed in the forensics unit uniform and carrying a large case.

“Ummm, Mr Lightwood?” he asked cautiously.

Alec raised a hand, as though it wasn’t clear which one he was.

“Detective Scott sent me to collect your clothes and samples…” he already looked apologetic with a tinge of fear and Magnus guessed that Alec’s reputation proceeded him.

Helen looked between the couple and the forensic technician before heading out of the cubical, “I’ll get you some scrubs that you can change into” she offered, knowing how Alec felt about patient gowns.

Alec sighed, “Okay…” and waved the young man in.

“I’m Gavin” he introduced himself as he drew back the curtain.

It made the space seem smaller and Magnus saw the way Alec tensed, leaning back a little from the man as he passed them to place his case on the chair beside the bed.

“So, I need to bag up all of your clothes and we’ll need your shoes as well…” the technician was explaining as he opened his case and started pulling out evidence bags to use.  “Then I’ll need to take hair samples as well as trace from your hands and from under your fingernails…” he turned back around and looked at Magnus.

“We should do this alone, to avoid any contamination…”.

“No” Magnus answered immediately, before Alec even registered what was being suggested.

“Ummm, it is protocol…”.

“No” Magnus repeated coolly, “So quit asking”.

Gavin’s shoulders sagged but he relented with a nod and a nervous swallow.  “Okay, so we can start with your jacket…”.

Alec started to slip it off, Magnus taking a step back so he at least wasn’t touching Alec anymore than he already had.  Gavin shook out a bag and held it open for Alec to roll his jacket up and drop it into.  Once it was inside the technician sealed the bag and used a sharpie to write in the details across the seal.

Next Alec pulled off his tie, dropping into a bag and then his shirt came off and went into a separate one.  Gavin’s eyes caught sight of the scars that littered Alec’s torso but he quickly looked away after noticing Magnus’ glare.

Alec’s fingers were fumbling with his belt, clearly uncomfortable, but he slipped off the bed and took off his pants anyway, knowing it needed to be done, kicking off his shoes at the same time.

Gavin bagged them all up and then glanced at Alec’s boxer-briefs.

“Not a fucking chance” Magnus practically growled at the technician.  He was pulling the blanket from the bed and then draped it around his boyfriend, giving him both protection from the cold and from strangers eyes.

“We don’t need them…” Gavin hastily replied, “They didn’t have any blood on them so…”.

Magnus gave him a look that suggested he wasn’t getting them even if they’d had blood on them, rules be damned.

They heard a throat being cleared on the other side of the curtain and Helen spoke up.

“May I come in Alec?” she asked respectfully.

“Yeah” he said tiredly.

When she came through the curtain she was carrying scrubs for him and she laid them on the bottom of the bed with a kind smile.

“I found green ones this time, you’ll have the full set soon”.

“Somehow I can’t see him ever agreeing to walk out of here in scrubs from pediatrics” Magnus remarked, lightening the thick atmosphere.

“Who’s jacket is this?” Gavin asked, holding up Magnus’ stained garment.

“Mine” Magnus replied, “If you need it take it, it’s transfer from when I gave Alec some assistance”.

Gavin nodded and used another evidence bag to drop the last piece of evidence away and then closed his evidence case again.

“Okay…” he turned back to the case and retrieved a smaller bag and tweezers.  “I just need some hair…”.

Alec nodded and bowed his head, barely registering the tug and slight sting when each hair was pulled from his scalp.

Sealed and stored in his case Gavin turned back, this time with special tape to retrieve trace from his skin.  “If you could hold out your hands…”.

Alec followed the instructions silently, his eyes avoiding his hands that were still stained red from when he had tried to help his father.  Gavin was careful, but swift, trying not to prolong the task.  He sealed up the tape and then came back a final time with two small pots and a nail cleaner.  What little was under Alec’s short nails was stored safely, one pot for each hand and then Gavin was able to pack up. 

“Thank you Mr Lightwood, and apologies…” he clearly felt bad at leaving the man with scrubs and no shoes.

Alec simply nodded, “It’s fine”.

Gavin gave small smiles to both Magnus and Helen before leaving the cubical, Helen making sure the cubical curtain was closed securely so Alec could slip the blanket off his shoulders and pull on the scrubs, all be it reluctantly. 

Magnus watched him with a heavy heart and the pulled his cell phone from his pocket, sending a text to Raphael with instructions to bring clothes to the hospital for Alec.  He ignored the man’s snarky reply, simply suggesting where he could find suitable attire as Magnus fully intended on taking Alec straight home as soon as possible.

When he turned his attention back to Alec he had returned to sitting cross legged in the middle of the bed though there was a tremble in his limbs so Magnus set the blanket over his shoulders again.

Helen noticed and checked her tablet again.  “It shouldn’t be too much longer.  Once we get the CT scan we’ll get the doctor to take a look and, hopefully, get you discharged and home”.

Alec smiled wearily, “I have to give my statement at the precinct after this” he told her.

Helen looked at Magnus, her eyes seeming to ask whether this could be delayed but Magnus slight shake of his head was answer enough.

“I’ve asked Raphael to bring some clothes and shoes for you love…”

Alec groaned, “He’s going to really appreciate that”.

Magnus let out an amused huff but otherwise ignored the comment, “…and we’ll go home once you have given your statement”.

“What about our things at the hotel?” Alec remembered and looked at his boyfriend.

Magnus brushed the hair from his brow.  “I’ll figure it out later” he promised with a confident smile.

Chapter Text

Finally a porter came by and was able to transport Alec to CT.  Magnus wasn’t allowed to go but Helen stayed by his side for the test and by the time they got back to his cubical Raphael was waiting with Magnus, a bag of clothes and shoes for Alec to change into.

Helen had noticed his reluctance and offered him the use of the staff showers which he had jumped at, though she refused to let him go alone, not with a concussion diagnosis pending.  Magnus had accompanied him, sitting patiently on the bench between the lockers while Alec stepped into one of the stalls, thankful for the opportunity to get the blood, literally, off of his hands.  He had done his best with his hair while also trying to ensure his wound stayed dry and while his head didn’t feel much cleaner, the rest of him did feel a little bit more human again.

By the time he had finished and toweled off, Magnus had arranged his clothes and he was able to dress in familiar materials, giving him a feeling of some kind of normalcy.  Slimline combats pants in black, white tank over which he pulled on the grey Henley and then shoved his feet into his second favourite pair of boots.  Raphael had also brought his dark green bomber jacket and he pulled that on as well, feeling the chill of the large locker room.

Once back in the cubical the doctor arrived minutes later with the thankful news that the CT had shown nothing of concern so she went through a set of neurological tests to see whether there had been an affect on his motor functions.  It was all too familiar to Alec, having gone through regular checks when he was recovering from his injuries.  He knew what she has going to ask him to do before she actually did it, which likely gave him a better outcome that he would have received otherwise.

To finish the exam she tested his reaction to light, his balance and strength as well as his hearing and was altogether satisfied to diagnose a moderate concussion.  She told him that he would need physical and mental rest for the next 48 hours with the advise to take Tylenol if pain relief is needed.

The thought of mental rest in the next 48 hours was laughable, considering he still had to give his statement and face his family since his father’s murder.  But he wasn’t about to tell the doctor that through fear of being admitted for observation.  He pointedly ignored the look on Magnus’ face as the doctor made arrangements for him to be discharged.

With the paperwork signed Alec did as he had promised, sending Woolsey a text to let him know they were on their way back to the station.  He also checked his messages and found that Jace and Clary had also been dragged in to the precinct to give their own statements, he updated them to let them know he had been discharged and would see them there.

Raphael had stuck around and he offered his services.  The three men piled into his Mercedes Benz CLA, Alec making a point to open the front passenger door for Magnus and then taking the back seat for himself.  It allowed Alec to call his mother and ask after Izzy and Max.  Maryse herself was shaken by the events and Alec felt a wave of guilt that he had dismissed her feelings without a thought.  She had loved the man at one time, she’d had three children with him.  And while he had disappointed her in more ways than one there was still a history there.  She had ,of course, told him not to worry, Izzy was with Max who had finally dropped off to sleep and Alec told her not to disturb them, promising to call again later.

When they arrived at the precinct Alec had directed Raphael to the underground parking lot, giving him the access code which he could enter from the drivers seat.  Magnus had insisted he go home and that they could take a cab when they were done.  But his manager had refused and said he would wait.  He tried to look less than pleased considering it was now the early hours of Sunday morning, but even Alec could see the underlying concern in the young man’s eyes.

With sincere thanks, Alec and Magnus then made their way up to the first floor where Woolsey had advised that Aldetree was waiting in the lobby for them.

“Lightwood” he greet coolly then cast Magnus a stern glare.  “You need to wait here”.

“Where will I be giving my statement?” Alec asked him, immediately slipping into work mode with his back straight and his shoulders squared.

“Where we interview all suspects…” Aldetree smirked, “…sorry, witnesses”.

Alec didn’t rise to the bait.  “Then Magnus can wait in the seats outside of the interview rooms”.

“That’s for lawyers Lightwood…”.

“And the partners or family of cops when they are being interviewed” the younger man reminded him.

It wasn’t strictly protocol, more of an unwritten rule that when a cop was brought in as a witness any loved ones accompanying them could wait somewhere more private than the lobby.  It kept them away from prying eyes and, more importantly, possible reporters. 

Every cop knew it, Aldetree included.

“He’s not family…”.

This time Alec did loose his temper and took a step towards the other detective, who automatically stepped back, his smile slipping immediately.

“Fine” he grumbled and then led the way, using a key card to access the interview wing through the staff entry.

The interview rooms where built in a square, surrounding a central room which, when accessed through the secure doors, was a viewing point through the two-way mirrors.  Each room was set up the same way and, though they were different to the interrogation rooms for perps, they were still uncomfortable and designed to keep people unsteady.  With plain white walls, grey floor tiles and a single, cheap desk of plywood covered in grey vinyl.  Tacky, black plastic chairs made sure your ass went numb within the first 15 minutes and, with the desk’s edge pushed right up against the two-way mirror, you were left with the feeling that you were being watched, whether there was someone back there or not.

Alec and Magnus followed Aldetree though the corridors silently and eventually reached one of the waiting areas on the right, directly opposite the interview rooms to their left.  It was a simple square which was cordoned off from the corridor with a waist height, glass patrician, cushioned chairs set against the three walls and a water cooler in the two back corners.  They discovered Clary, now back in day to day clothes and looking exhausted, sat in one of the chairs at the back of the section, she gave them a small, limp wave when she spotted them too.

Aldetree had stopped outside interview room seven, the door cracked open and his foot tapping impatiently.

Alec ignored him, but wasn’t foolish enough to try and approach Clary before he had been interviewed.  Instead he turned to Magnus and gave him his most reassuring smile.

“I’ll get this done and then…”.

“We go home” Magnus finished, taking both of Alec’s hands in his and squeezing them tightly.  “Remember what the doctor said”.

Alec gave a slow nod of his head, still feeling the nausea and not wanting to move too fast.  “Okay”.

Magnus smiled and then released him, watching him turn and walk away, following Aldetree into the interview room.  Once the door was closed Magnus moved over to Clary who had been watching them with wide eyes.

“Hey Biscuit” he smiled as he sank down into the chair beside her.  “How are you doing?”.

Clary hugged her bag against herself, her leg jerking nervously.  “This can’t be normal Magnus.  I mean… I find a body last year and now…”.

Magnus gripped one of her hands, prising it away from the handle of her bag.  “Unfortunately, you fell in love with a cop”.

She huffed out an unamused laugh, “Yeah, I hope it doesn’t become an annual event though”.

Magnus couldn’t help but laugh softly at that.  “Where is blondie anyway?”.

“He’s being interview by Raj and some guy called Rey?” she nodded towards a door further down the corridor but looked quickly back at Magnus when he let out a groan.

“What?” she asked.

“Lorenzo Rey, Internal Affairs” he explained, “Let’s just say our paths have crossed many times, all of them memorable, none of them pleasant”.

“Why would they need Jace to be interviewed by Internal Affairs?” she asked with a frown.  “Do they think he did something?”.

“No” Magnus reassured her with a pat to the back of her hand.  “I suspect it’s because Woolsey wants to make sure the interviews are clean… Luke, Maia, Lydia, Andrew… they’re all too close to Alec and Jace to be a part of them”.

It seemed to ease the red head’s worries and she lent her shoulder against his, resting her head down.  “This sucks”.

“It sure does Biscuit” he agreed, settling his own weight against her, preparing for a long wait.

 

*****

 

Alec walked into the interview room, Aldetree stood to the side holding the door and he closed it as soon as Alec cleared the threshold. 

Woolsey was already sat at the table, reading through a file in front of him which Alec could only assume was the preliminary findings as he doubted forensics were even done gathering evidence and the autopsy wouldn’t have even started yet.

Alec took a seat on the opposite side of the table, the side the perpetrators typically sat, and rested his forearms on the wood as Aldetree sat down next to his lead detective.

There was a moment of silence, Alec not really sure why Woolsey was bothering as they both knew all of the tricks used to put interviewees on the back foot.  So he waited patiently, taking the opportunity to go through the events in his own mind as he could recall them.

“First…” Woolsey suddenly spoke up, actually making Aldetree flinch rather than Alec, “…I’d like to offer my condolences.  I’m very sorry for your loss”.

Alec looked at him impassively.  “Thank you”.

The older man nodded, “Do you want your union representative with you for this interview?”.

“Are you arresting me for something?” Alec challenged.

Woolsey looked at him carefully, as though he was trying to figure something out about the younger man.  “No”

“Then no” Alec replied. 

“Okay, can you run me through what led you to go looking for your father?” Woolsey asked.

“I was talking with Luke, he’d just introduced me to Elliott Dwyer, Fire and Rescue Chief, when Mayor Herondale came over.  She explained that Robert had forgotten his speech and had gone to fetch a copy from his room but hadn’t come back which was delaying the start of the ceremony so she asked if I could go and hurry him up”.

“Why not ask his partner…” Woolsey checked his notes, “Annemarie Highsmith?”.

“Like I said earlier,” Alec replied, “You’ll have to ask her”.

Woolsey’s lips twitched in an attempt at a smile, “Carry on…”.

“She gave me the room number and I went up fetch him.  When I got to the room the door was closed but not latched…” he frowned a little as he tried to remember the events, his head still a little fuzzy.  “I knocked, called out for him and I heard a grunt so I went in…”.

“Yeah…” Woolsey interrupted again.  “You said that earlier.  What made you think the ‘grunt’ was an invitation to walk in?”.

“It sounded like a positive grunt” Alec snarked.

Aldetree wasn’t able to hold back a snort, “A ‘positive’ grunt” he seemed to mock.

Alec turned his head to him slowly, “Uh huh” he grunted an affirmative, the sarcasm not missed by either of the interviewing detectives.

“So you went in…” Woolsey decided to get them back on track.

“It was only a couple of steps before I saw Robert…” Alec paused to swallow.  “I dropped to his side, tried to stop the bleeding.  That must have been how I got covered in blood…” he frowned as he tried to remember, “I think I tried to get my phone…”.

“You think?” Woolsey prompted when Alec faltered.

“I was hit then… from behind.  I know I thought to get my phone to call for help but I don’t think I actually did it before I was hit” he brought his hands up and rubbed at his temples, his headache intensifying.

“What then?” Woolsey continued, dispassionately.

“It’s not… I don’t really remember.  I remember a shadow… it went out the door and I tried to follow but I tripped… or maybe fell…”.

“Which is it?” Aldetree asked, “Tripped or fell?”.

Alec shook his head, “I don’t know… I just know that I was sat on the floor and then Clary was there” he took a deep breath.  “Then Magnus and Jace were there…”.

Woolsey tapped his fingers on the file and watched Alec steadily, mulling over what he had told him.  Then he pulled an A4 photo print from his folder and pushed it across the table to his colleague.

“What can you tell me about this?” he asked.

Alec looked down at the photo, seeing the words ‘You’re welcome Alec’ written in red across a bare white wall.  His head throbbed, his stomach rolled and his mouth went dry.

“What is this?” he asked in a whisper.

“We wondered if you could tell us?” Woolsey asked.

Alec rubbed a hand over his brow, “I don’t… where was this?”.

“On the wall in your father’s room” Aldetree replied.

Alec swallowed again, tried to clear his throat.  “No,  I mean… I didn’t see this”.

“It’s pretty obvious…”

“Not as obvious as my dad laid on the floor with his throat slit” Alec snapped at Aldetree.

“Oh, so now he’s your dad” the man snapped back.

“What does that mean?” Alec challenged.

“One minute he’s Robert, then he’s the commissioner… but when you’re in trouble suddenly he’s your dad…” Aldetree tilted his head, his eyes narrow, looking sceptical.

“Whatever feelings I had for the man at any given time and whatever I chose to call him because of those feelings, doesn’t negate the fact that he was my dad…”

“You’ve been estranged for some time” Aldetree continued.  “Have… had something of a volatile relationship”.

Alec stared at him blankly.

“Last year someone graffitied his home… with the words ‘gay basher’” he continued.

Alec continued to stare, fully aware that Woolsey was watching him carefully.

“Some believe that was you” Aldetree waited but started to get annoyed when Alec remained silent.  “So, nothing to say?”.

“You haven’t asked me a question” Alec pointed out calmly.

“For fuck sake…” Aldetree hissed, “Did you deface your father’s home last year?!”.

“No” Alec replied honestly.  “And what’s your evidence for even asking that?  Because I’m gay?  So are a lot of other people”.

Aldetree tensed, his back straightening, about to snap back when Woolsey but a hand on his shoulder.  “Why don’t you get Alec a coffee?” he asked his team member, “He looks like he could do with one”.

The detective snorted at his boss, glared at Alec, but then headed out of the interview room, leaving the two lead detectives alone.

“Alec…” Woolsey said, leaning forward, “…we both know you had nothing to do with your father’s death.  But do you remember anything about the person that was there?”.

Alec huffed in annoyance and sat back in his own chair.  “If you know that, what’s with Aldetree and his questions?”.

The blonde grinned, “Let’s just say I wanted to be absolutely sure.  You’re not stupid enough to kill your father when you had been sent up to him by the mayor… but there was always the chance he made you angry enough…”.

“So where’s the knife?” Alec asked.  “Were their signs of a struggle…?”.

“I know how to do my job Alec” Woolsey lost some of the politeness from his tone.

“So do it” Alec snapped.  “I told you what I know… I’m guessing by the look on Clary’s face that you’ve spoken to her.  And Jace’s lack of attendance at her side says you have him in already”.

He nodded, “We have.  We just need Magnus in now”.

Alec’s face gave a complicated twitch and he felt his defences go up.  “Shouldn’t someone else interview him?”.

“Hum” Woolsey sat back, the fingers of his right hand tapping at the tabletop again.  “He told you about us then”.

“Why would you presume he wouldn’t?” Alec asked.

“We know very different Magnus’” he replied.

“That’s your loss” Alec shot back, annoyed at the suggestion Woolsey was making.

“So it seems” Woolsey said quietly.

Alec watched at him, studied his face and wondered about the implication behind the comment.

“This message…” Woolsey suddenly said, louder and back to being all business.  “…do you have any idea who could be behind this?”.

Alec shook his head, “No… I don’t”.

“Who would think they were doing you a favour by killing your father?”

“No idea Scott” Alec answered honestly.  “I don’t make a habit of befriending people that would think this is acceptable”.

“What about criminals… people you’ve busted or… maybe let it slid?” Woolsey suggested.

“Again, not in the habit” he repeated.  “I can’t see anyone I have busted wanting to do me a ‘favour’ as you put it”.

“Anyone your dad pissed off…?”.

“No…” Alec stuttered to a stop, his mind racing and his heartbeat not far behind.  ‘No way’ he thought, ‘no fucking way’…

Woolsey’s eyes narrowed and he peered at Alec, “What?”.

Alec looked at him, schooling his features as quickly as he could, “What?”.

“What were you just thinking?” he demanded.

‘Could it have been?’ Alec thought as he looked at Woolsey, ‘After all of this time, could it be?  And if it is, why now and why Robert?’.

“Alec…?” Woolsey prompted again.

“Valentine” he blurted out.

“Morgenstern?” Woolsey said, a look of shock on his face.

Alec nodded.  “He started on the force with my dad, they had some of the same… ideals.  But dad distanced himself from Morgenstern when he started to work his way up the ranks…”.

“And then you arrested Valentine…” Woolsey stated.  “Why now?”.

Alec shook his head, “I don’t know, but Valentine doesn’t do anything without a plan and at least five back up plans.  If this is him, you need to tell the FBI Agent in charge of his investigation…”.

“You think we can’t handle this?” Woolsey asked.

“We don’t have to” Alec replied.  “He escaped federal prison, let the FBI catch him.  The man has no conscience, no remorse and you will never know what he’s thinking… if you’re looking one way it’s because that’s the way he wants you looking and he will have you second guessing so much you won’t know which way to turn.  Let the FBI deal with it”.

“You caught him” Woolsey challenge, a quick jut of his chin.

“My team caught him, I had help” Alec corrected.  “And it cost one of us his life and me…” his voice faltered.  “…my life was never the same again”.

Woolsey squinted at him, “What happened?”.

Alec shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  “Are we done?”.

Woolsey sighed.  “In terms your statement from tonight… yes”.

The young detective shot up out of his seat and headed for the door, pausing in the threshold to turn back to the detective.

“I’m serious Woolsey… hand it over if you can confirm it was Valentine”.

With the last word Alec walked away, closing the door behind him and almost walking into Aldetree who was returning with the mug of coffee he had been sent for.  Alec took it out of his hands with a ‘thanks’ and a smirk at the irritation on the man’s face, then turned to the waiting area to see Jace heading for him, Clary still sat on her chair and Magnus nowhere to be seen.

“Are you okay?” Jace asked, gripping his brother’s arms and studying his eyes closely.

“Yeah” Alec answered absentmindedly, “Where’s Magnus?”.

“He’s being interviewed by Raj and Lorenzo…”

Alec groaned at the IA officers name.

“…they took him in when they were done with me” he finished.  “How are you really?”.

“I’m okay Jace” he shook out of his grip.  “I just… I have a headache and I’m tired”.

Jace seemed satisfied and took a step back.  “What did he ask?”.

Alec sighed and headed towards Clary, who looked equally interested in what was happening and he didn’t want to have to go through this three times, knowing he would have to repeat it to Magnus later.

“How are you feeling?” she asked as he sat beside her, Jace sitting the other side.

“I’m fine” he said, before giving her a reassuring smile.

“So…” Jace prompted, literally sitting on the edge of his seat.

“All he wanted to know was why I was up there and what I saw.  They aren’t looking at me as a suspect, I wasn’t even cautioned”.  His mind went back to the message on the wall and, he may have his theory, but it wasn’t something he wanted to share with his family, nor Magnus.  He justified it with the belief that he may not even be right, so why worry them.

At that moment all three were startled by the door to interview room nine opening with a loud bang.  All three turned to see Lorenzo storm out, slamming it behind him and stalking away from them without so much as an acknowledgement.

Jace opened his mouth to speak when suddenly the door flung open again and Raj followed the IA detective, an annoyed stomp in his step.

Magnus leaned out of the doorway, peering after the two men, “Are we done?” he called after them.  “Guys?”

He was met with silence so, shrugging, he spun on his heel and, on spotting Alec, he grinned widely and hurried over.

Alec stood as he approached, his brow creased with concern.  “Are you okay?”.

“Fine darling” he said, gesturing with both hands loosely to indicate there really was nothing to worry about.  “I may have been a smidge unhelpful, but Lorenzo was being… well, Lorenzo so I couldn’t help myself”.

Alec smiled, knowing Magnus would have been honest and told them what he knew, but he’d clearly made sure Raj and Lorenzo had a hard time getting it out of him.

“What about you?” Magnus asked, his eyes serious again.

Alec shrugged.  “Woolsey just wanted to know why I went up there, what happened and what I could remember about the other person”.

Magnus nodded, “And you said?”.

“I can’t really remember another person at all.  Just a shadow, I couldn’t even tell whether it was male for female…” Alec trailed off for a moments, then took a deep breath, letting out slowly to combat the sickness he was still feeling.

The older man reached out and took his hand, his thumb rubbing gentle circles on the skin between his thumb and forefinger.  He had a feeling there was something that Alec wasn’t telling them, but right now, this very minute, he just wanted to get him home.

“We should go” Magnus said softly.  “All of us, we all need some rest”.

Jace nodded, taking Clary’s hand, “Have you spoken to Luke?” he asked his older brother.

Alec frowned, “No…?”.

“We’re on compassionate leave, at least two day” he told him.

“What about the case?” Alec asked, clearly not happy about being side lined, again.

“Alec…” Magnus spoke up, “You just lost your father… you have a head injury.  Maybe it’s not a bad thing to take some time”.

“I seem to be taking a lot of time recently” he argued, annoyance creeping in.  “I just need to get back to work…”

Magnus stepped closer, their chests almost touching and looked up into his boyfriends face, giving Alec no option but to look down at him.

“Please love…” he whispered.  “Let’s go home, get some sleep.  You can talk to Luke later but you need to get some rest”.

Alec swallowed, seeing the worry in Magnus’ eyes and, for the first time realising that Magnus was still in the remainder of his suit from the ceremony, still slightly stained.  He felt guilt wash through him, he’d been so selfishly fixated on himself he hadn’t thought that Magnus couldn’t be comfortable himself.

He relented, nodding and giving his boyfriend a smile.  “Okay”.

Magnus took his hand again and they started back the way they had come, following the corridor and turning to the right as they reached the end of their row of interview rooms.

What they hadn’t expected was to come face to face with Annemarie, Alec, who had been leading the four of them out, almost bumping into her.

Her eyes, wet and red, went wide when she saw him, her jaw tightening and her chin quivered.  There was another women by her side, judging from the similarities between their features, Alec guessed it was her daughter.

He opened his mouth, closed it, then took a breath in and went to speak, “Ms Highsmith…”.

His sentence was broken off by the stinging slap to the side of his face, wrenching his head to the right.  It was painful as any slap would be and, because of the concussion, it did manage to knock Alec off centre enough for him to stumble against Magnus, who immediately caught him with an arm around his waist, a look of shock on his own face.

“What the fuck!” Jace exclaimed angrily and shot forward, putting himself in front of Alec at the same time as Annemarie’s daughter put an arm across her mothers chest and drew her back.

“You…” Annemarie seethed angrily.  “This is all your fault!”.

Alec found his footing and straightened up, looking at her with sympathy, his cheek already reddening.

The older woman looked him up and down with disgust, her eyes pausing on Magnus’ arm around his waist and it seemed to stoke her anger further.

“I saw it…” she hissed, struggling against her daughters restraint.  “Someone did this for you… if he hadn’t…” she shook her head, tears starting to fall.  “I told him, I told him to stay away from you and your type”.

“Mom” her daughter warned, looking back over her shoulder to see the officer, who was clearly supposed to be escorting them, hurrying over and away from a colleague he had been talking with.

“I wish you’d died” she spat at him, “I wish they’d ripped you apart and left the pieces in that warehouse…”

“Woah” the officer arrived and took hold of her elbow.  “That’s enough…”.

“Get her the fuck out of her before I have her charged with assaulting a police officer” Jace snarled, his own hands in tight fists and shaking in the effort to restrain himself.

Magnus’ arm tightened around his boyfriend, giving both physical and emotional support.

“Ms Highsmith…” the officer started to guide her around the group with Annemarie’s daughters help.

“You should be ashamed!” she continued her verbal attack as they moved away.  “He wouldn’t be dead if it wasn’t for you!”.

“Alec…” Magnus started quietly but the younger man pulled out of his arms and started walking towards the exit.

“Let’s just go” he said, his voice devoid of any emotion. 

He knew.  He knew it wasn’t his fault, that the person to blame was the one who had wielded the knife, whether that was Valentine or not.  But the writing left behind was designed to send a message and he needed to figure out what that was. 

Chapter Text

Getting back to the loft was a blur, though he was aware he was back in Raphael’s car.  He thought the journey would take longer than it did, what with the man’s tendency to like a 85 year old, near-sighted passivist.

Alec’s mind was a buzz, thoughts firing through it so fast that it was likely worsening the headache that had been persistent since his run in with Robert’s murderer.  He would have started to worry if the CT scan hadn’t confirmed his brain and his skull were miraculously unharmed in the attack so he pushed away the pain, forcing it to the back of his mind so he could consider what he had learned.

‘You’re welcome Alec’.

Just what the fuck did that mean. 

Annemarie had said someone had done it for him, which couldn’t mean Valentine.  He’d been the one, leading a team, that caught the man and put him behind bars.  Aside from that small fact, Valentine had made his aberration of anyone identifying as LGBTQ+ very clear, even before his crimes had been revealed.

But, on the other side of the coin, he could see Valentine doing this out of revenge for Roberts abandonment all those years ago and then leaving a message as a misdirection, keeping the authorities looking one way while he was working at something even more horrific just out of sight.

And if he could fuck with Alec’s life at the same time, well that would just be the icing on the cake for a twisted mind Like Valentine.

“Alec?” he heard a voice, speaking softly at his side and it shook him gently from his thoughts.

He turned to Magnus who had that worried crease to his brow again and Alec couldn’t understand why until he realised they were stood just inside the front door of the loft, and he’d no idea how they had gotten here.

“Sorry” he croaked, then cleared his throat.  “I was miles away”.

Magnus smile was small, “Quite.  I asked if you were hungry?”.

Well that question alone sent a wave of nausea through him so he was guessing food wouldn’t be a good idea right now. 

“No, thank you Magnus” he smiled back but knew it wouldn’t fool him.  “I’m not hungry, I just want to sit quietly for a moment”.

“What Annemarie said…” Magnus spoke cautiously, “…you know it wasn’t true?”.

Alec nodded, but evaded his boyfriend’s eyes by taking that moment to pull his coat off and hang it in the hallway closet, kicking his shoes off and dropping them in the bottom of the same place.

“I know” he replied.

“Hum” Magnus didn’t sound even remotely convinced.  “Well, I am going to shower and change… we’ll see if maybe you’re hungry then”.

Alec watched him go, feeling guilty again.  He didn’t want to hide things from him, he wanted to talk through what was going on in his head but it was just too much to put on him.  Magnus was already filled with worry about the trial and what it was doing to Alec, with this added weight… Magnus had his own work to focus on and he couldn’t… wouldn’t draw more of his attention away from it.

He wandered across the entrance room and into the lounge, the early morning sunlight peeking through the rain clouds and casting a warm glow throughout the room.  It was a stark contrast to the cold in Alec’s bones and he chose the corner of the couch that was in direct sunlight, hoping it would help.

He tried to remember where his thoughts were before they had arrived home and of course that brought Valentine back to mind.

It had been a year… they had been following a trail of dead bodies, some of them not even attributed to Valentine until after he had been caught.  The man had always been two steps ahead of them and, while they had regularly delayed his plans by finding his hiding places, they had never quite figured out what he was doing.  They had uncovered laboratories and many of his victims had strange drugs in their systems, including various concoctions of yin fen.  And when finally they had caught up with him… despite Starkweather’s best efforts, efforts that had cost him his life, an arrest had been made.

Yet, even with the offer of a reduced sentence, he had still refused to reveal what exactly he had been intending to do.

Now he was back on the loose and likely picking up where he left off.  Alec didn’t deny he and his team would likely have been a valuable source of information and assistance to the current investigation.  They had been interviewed for their thoughts and opinions that may have been omitted from the official files but this very little, thanks to diligent record keeping.

And once those initial interviews had been completed they were told, explicitly, by the agent in charge, Dorothea Collins, that their services were not needed and they should focus on their own cases.  A polite way of telling them to stay out of the FBIs way.

If Valentine had been it, he would have left it alone.  But then his son came after him and, surprising everyone involved, he had survived.  But he had to admit, once he was back on his feet, that he, or any of his loved ones could still be in danger.  So when Valentine escaped he’d started to look, just to see if he could find any of the familiar patterns that had led him to Valentine in the first place.  He’d asked a colleague in the drug squad to keep an eye on shipments seized, wanting to know if any of the familiar drugs were coming in to New York again.  Nothing had come up yet, but that could just mean it hadn’t been intercepted.

He knew it hadn’t been confirmed.  He didn’t know if this really was Valentine or something completely unrelated, only forensics would tell them that and only if Valentine wanted them to know.  He would just have to wait.

In the meantime he took out his phone and opened his notes APP, making some scribbled thoughts and possible routes to follow up with, preparing for the worst to happen.  He had no desire to go up against Valentine again, but he wasn’t going to back down when other people were in danger.

“Alec?”

He heard his name again and looked up to see Magnus stood in the doorway.  He was dressed again, this time in what passed as ‘dress down’ for his boyfriend.  Black skinny black jeans that looked painted on and were tucked into Belstaff boots which came up to his mid-calf.  He wore a blue button up shirt with embroidered swirls over which he had pulled on one of his favourite grey waistcoats, slimline which displayed his broad shoulders and slim waist in the best possible ways.

Alec gave himself a quick shake as he must have been lost in the vision for some time, Magnus had not only showered and dressed, but he’d also styled his hair and reapplied his make up.  Granted, it was subtle, what he called the ‘at home’ look, but it still took him some time.

“Are you hungry yet?” Magnus was clearly repeating his question, the worry on his face increasing with the way Alec kept zoning out.

“No, I’m fine” he answered, looking back at his phone to add more detail to his notes.

“I’ve been getting washed up for over an hour Alexander.  Have you at least had a drink?” he asked, stepping into the room and casting his eyes around, trying to locate at least a glass of water.

“Not yet” he replied dismissively, “I’ll get something in a moment”.

“What are you actually doing?” Magnus continued.

Alec felt a prickle of annoyance as each question interrupted his thought process and he was struggling to remember where he was each time.

“I’m just making some notes…”.

“About what?”.

A soft sigh escaped, “Things I need to remember to follow up on…”.

“This isn’t your case Alec” Magnus said, a little firmer than he had likely intended.  “And you’re supposed to be resting…”.

“I am resting Magnus” his voice was louder in his response and this time he looked at his boyfriend with irritation in his eyes.  “Look, I am sat… in a sunbeam of all things.  I am relaxing…”.

“You don’t sound very relaxed” Magnus pointed out.

“That’s because I have to keep answering questions when I am trying to focus on…” he stopped before he gave away more than he was willing to.  He was determined not to burden Magnus with this and his fucking concussion wasn’t helping him think straight.

“Well, if what you are doing is so important, maybe I can help?” the older man suggested, biting back his own irritated retort.  They were tired, both of them.  They needed their rest but if Alec had to get this out of his system before he was able to then Magnus would ignore his short temper and try to aid him.

“I can do this myself Magnus…” He grumbled, looking down at this phone.  “It is my job”.

“I know that Alec, but perhaps I can assist with what you are trying to do… some free FBI experience if you will?” he suggested.

He wasn’t wrong.  In fact he was right, because knowing what the FBI was thinking in terms of their hunt for Valentine would be invaluable.  But instead of being the mature adult and taking him up on the offer, all it did was irritate Alec even more.  Because the more Magnus asked, the more he was going to guess and then Alec would eventually have to tell him… no, that just wasn’t an option.

“No” he snapped, “I just need some peace and quiet so I can think.  Perhaps you can give me that?”.

Magnus eyes darkened, “I do remember the doctor saying that your rest should be both physical and mental.  Perhaps you should just put your phone away…”.

“I remember what the doctor said Magnus” he voice was on the verge of shouting now.  “And I can decide when I need to rest, I am not a child”.

Magnus flexed his jaw.  “Then stop behaving like one” he snipped back.  “You’re hiding something, I am not a fool Alexander…”.

Alec locked his phone and threw it down onto the coffee table.  “Fine, done.  Happy?!”.

“Ecstatic” Magnus answered sarcastically.  “Because flinging your phone down makes the fact that you won’t talk to me all the better”.

“You’re one to talk” Alec challenged.

Magnus looked surprised, “Just what does that mean?”.

“I mean Woolsey.  You say he’s an ex and there is nothing more to it than that.  Yet he delighted in telling me that you are a very different person now than you were then.  So what’s the big difference Magnus, cause I know fuck all about your life.  Why is that?”.

Magnus swallowed and looked away, then held up the index finger of his right hand.  “I am going out.  I need to collect our things from the Plaza and pay the bill.  So I am going to do that before this escalates any further”.

He walked to the closet in the entrance hall and retrieved his silver overcoat, the one with the tails and brushed steel buttons that he was wearing when they had first met.  Then he picked a set of keys from the drawer and opened the front door, pausing on the threshold.

“I love you” he said gruffly without actually looking back at his boyfriend.

“I love you too” Alec snapped angrily, even though he did finch a little when Magnus slammed the door behind him.

Alec stared out of the window for a moment, then rubbed a hand across both his eyes.  He realised immediately that this was not his finest moment.  That he had just picked a fight with the man he loved under the guise that he was protecting him, only to hurt his feelings in a worse way.

“FUCK!” he shouted into the empty loft, startling Church enough that it earned him a hiss from the top of the bookshelf.  Chairman, far more intelligent of the two, had long since evacuated the room.

Why hadn’t he just had something to eat and gone to bed.  Why had he let his thoughts run away with him, why had he brought Valentine fucking Morgenstern into their loft.

“Because you’re a fuck-up Alec” he scolded himself.  “Because you’re pathetic and you haven’t been able to get your shit together for a fucking year!”.

He jumped up from the couch and stomped into the bedroom.  He needed to hit something, to destroy something.  So he quickly changed into his workout clothes and headed for the gym. 

He was already swinging at the punch bag before he remembered that he hadn’t brought his gloves up with him.  He debated going back downstairs for them but decided the sting in his knuckles was actually helping to ground him, to work through the anger he was feeling about being wholly inadequate for Magnus, so he carried on as he was. 

He didn’t intend to keep going for long anyway, he was supposed to be resting after all.

 

*****

 

He wasn’t going to deny that he was pissed off, it’s why he took the Maserati GranCabrio.  It isn’t the most practical car for driving through New York, much better suited to being opened up on the highway or through the countryside.  Something he and Alec had enjoyed considerably during the summer. Cruising with the roof down, sun glinting off the jet black, sleek body of the car and Alec looking particularly delicious in black tanks, sunglasses on and hair ruffled by the wind.  The there was that one particular evening when they’d parked in a deserted lane… for a police officers Alec was surprising keen to bend the public decency rules that day.

Magnus pushed the memories aside though, because he fully intended on stay pissed.  How had it gone from him wanting to take some of the weight from his boyfriend’s shoulders to an attack on Magnus’ past?

‘You know how’ he thought.  ‘Because you frequently scold him for keeping things bottled up but never share anything with him yourself’.

He navigated the streets expertly, arriving promptly at the Plaza, unsurprised to see the police trying to control a large amount of press at the doors.  He’d called ahead to the manager who had ensure he would be able to gain entry by presenting his ID to the officers on the door.  The manager was true to his word and Magnus made his way quickly to reception.

They had kindly packed their case, having very little in the way of clothes and with both Magnus and Alec being relatively organised there wasn’t actually much to gather together.

Magnus settled the bill and, taking their bag and, with a final thank you he made his way back out through the circus, keeping his head low and hoping not to attract too much attention.  He hadn’t actually checked any new sites so wasn’t sure what stories were circulating as yet, nor what pictures had been included and, even dressed down, he tended to stand out in a crowd.

He made it back to the car and back to the parking lot beneath their building, the whole task taking just under two hours.  It was enough for him to cool down, his anger to dissipate and trust himself to have a reasonable conversation with Alec when he got back.

His new sense of zen went right out the window when he pulled into his parking space and spotted a familiar yet unwelcome individual lent far too comfortably against his Audi.

Magnus stepped out of the Maserati, took the moment to walk around to the other side and retrieve their bag from before locking the car and sauntering towards the elevator to the lobby, all the while ignoring his uninvited visitor. 

Unfortunately his path took him right past her.

“Magnus” she whined in that low, sultry voice that she still thought worked on him.  “I’m glad to see you’re okay.  People close to that toy of yours don’t seem to fare too well”.

“Go away Camille” he said coolly.

She chose to ignore his comment and fell into step next to him, the click of her heels echoing through the parking lot.

“Maggie my love, don’t be like that” she smiled, “I’m concerned for your welfare.  Rumour has it, your current dalliance was the one who found his father…”.

“How did you even get in here?” he asked, annoyance creeping back in but at least this time it was directed at a worthy recipient.

“Well, I used to live here…”.

“You never lived here” he corrected quickly.  “You visited the outstayed your welcome”.

She chuckled.  “You really need to let this anger go darling, it’s not good for your health”.

Magnus stopped in front of the elevator and pressed the call button, waiting patiently while staring at the numbers on the display screen above the doors.

“What do you want Camille?” Magnus asked, because she wasn’t going to go away until she’d asked and he was already sick of listening to her.

“I want an exclusive” she said, “With Lightwood, you can even hold his hand if you must”.

“In exchange for what?” he asked, finally looking at her, his head tilted to the side almost as though he was curious.

Her smile widened, all sharp teeth and red lips.  “It’s that, or I’ll write a background piece on both of you.  Poor little gay son, lost the father that hated him before they would reconcile.  And the little lost Prince, unwanted by his own family…”.

“Do you ever learn Camille?” he asked, the elevator arriving.  He stepped in and, much to his chagrin, she followed him.  He pressed the button for the floor he wanted and the door closed again.

“You don’t know the whole story, and one lie… one inaccuracy in anything you write and I will have you back in court for defamation faster than you can flutter your lashes” he warned, his voice deadly.

The doors opened at the same time as the smirk was wiped off Camille’s face.  Magnus stepped out and waved the doorman over.

“Charles…” he said, nodding at Camille.  “Please remove this… woman from the premises.  She was somehow able to get into the parking lot, perhaps we can update the entrance codes as well”.

“Of course Mr Bane” Charles looked down at Camille.  “This way ma’am” he said politely, but firmly, a tone that left no room for argument.

Camille took a second to throw a glare Magnus’ way.  “Someone is going to write about it Magnus.  Don’t say I didn’t give you the opportunity to get your side out there first”.

“Goodbye Camille” he said, stepping back into the elevator and pressing the button for the penthouse floor, watching the back of Camille as she was escorted out of the building just as the door’s drew closed again.

He let out a heavy sigh as the carriage started up, his thoughts returning to Alec and wondering whether he would be ready to talk.  He had peace for just a few seconds before his cell was ringing.

He debated ignoring it, but with recent events decided it wasn’t a good idea.  When he looked at the caller he was glad he had checked, a small smile on his lips.

“Isabelle?” he greeted after picking up the call.

“Hi Magnus” she replied, sounding tired.  “How are you?”.

“I think it’s more important I ask how you are my dear?”.

“Maybe…” she said quietly.  “But I’m not sure how to answer that just yet”.

“I understand.  And I am sorry Isabelle” he told her with sympathy.  Robert had been closest to his daughter, she had been the apple of his eye and although Isabelle had stood by Alec this must have been hard on her.

“Thank you Magnus” she replied, “Umm, are you home?”.

“Just getting there darling”.  The elevator dinged and he stepped out into the outer hallway, heading immediately for the front doors of their home.

“Simon and I, we wanted to come and pick up mine and Laila’s things.  If that’s okay with you… and Alec?” she asked.

“Of course, you know you are always welcome here” he was rifling in his pockets, his cell pressed between his cheek and shoulder.

“How is Alec?” her voice sounded thick with concern.  “Jace called… he told us what happened with Annemarie…”.

“Hum” Magnus finally pulled out the key.  “He’s… claiming to be fine”.

She snorted at that, knowing exactly what that meant.

“We… had an argument” Magnus admitted.  “Things were said…”.

Isabelle was quiet for a moment.  “It’ll be okay”.

He smiled, “I know”.

“Maybe we should come by another time…” she started to offer.

“No, I’m sure it will be fine” he reassured, unlocking the door.

“I tried to call Alec but he wasn’t picking up” she told him.

Magnus’ hand paused on the doorhandle, thinking about what she had said.  He could be sleeping, but that wasn’t likely.

“He was resting on the couch when I felt, I’m sure he just sleeping” Magnus lied.  “How long will you be my dear?”.

“About 30 minutes?” she estimated.

“I’ll see you then darling” and he hung up, pushing through the door and immediately finding the entrance hall and lounge empty.

He closed the door and moved towards their bedroom, peering into the kitchen as he passed but finding it just as deserted. 

In their bedroom he placed their bag on one of the armchairs in the corner at the same time as he noticed that Alec had clearly changed out of his clothes, leaving his original ones on the bed.

Magnus knew then exactly where he could find his boyfriend… the one that was supposed to be resting.  He sighed and headed back through the loft, making his way up the stairs towards the gym.

The gym had originally been solely a meditative space with a treadmill as Magnus had predominantly run for stamina but chosen yoga for strength.  But when Alec moved in he had renovated several of the rooms to ensure his boyfriend had everything he needed to make him feel at home.

Magnus had still wanted to keep it for his needs as well, so he had chosen a natural look.  There were floor to ceiling windows along one wall, letting in a great deal of natural light, the walls had been stripped back to their natural red brick and the prefab ceiling pulled down, exposing the wooden beams.  The floorboards were sanded down so smooth it was safe to walk in bare feet, even though there had been matting laid in two sections, one for his meditation and a bigger area for when Jace was over for ‘training’.  ‘Training’ being code for he and Alec trying to beat the shit out of each other.

Then he’d filled it with equipment that Izzy had selected and included a dip station, bench press, pull up station, abdominal bench, treadmill, spin bike and both a hanging punch bag and freestanding bag.  He was quite pleased with the results, but right now, as he neared the doorway and could already hear the rhythmic thudding of fists hitting one of the bags, he was starting to wish he hadn’t done it.

Sliding back one of the two doors he slipped quietly into the room, eyes immediately on Alec as he pummelled away at the hanging bag, his grey, loose tank already soaked with sweat.

Any other day it would have been a sight to behold and Magnus would likely have taken a picture to preserve the moment.  But right now all he could focus on was Alec’s bare hands and what appeared to be very bloodied knuckles.

“Alexander” he called softly as he walked towards him.

Alec heard him, he’d likely known he was there the moment the door started to move.  He gripped the bag, one arm around it and lent his head against it, body tipped forward as he heaved in air to try and catch his breath.

Magnus continued to his side and, taking hold of his free hand that was hanging by his thigh, careful to avoid his split skin, he gently tugged him away from the bag and over to the bench.

Once he was sat Magnus retrieved the medical kit from the shelving and returned to his boyfriend, kneeling on the floor in front of him.

“Let me see” he said and Alec held out his shaking hands, palm down so Magnus could check the damage.

“Magnus…” Alec whispered.

The older man lent to the side and opened the kit, finding alcohol wipes first.  “Hum?”.

“I’m sorry” Alec continued, looking down at his sneakers.  “I was out of line.  You do so much for me… I shouldn’t have said those things”.

Magnus put an index finger under his boyfriend’s chin and gently forced him to raise his head.  “I’m sorry too Alexander.  I didn’t mean to push”.

Alec shook his head, “No, you were just trying to help… I just.  I can’t get it straight in my own head so I don’t know what you can do to help right now”.

“Then let’s agree that when you know, you will ask me?” Magnus requested, knowing that Alec was bottling again but also understanding that pushing him was not going to help.  He did make a mental note to call Tessa.  He couldn’t force Alec to see her but he could ask her advise on what he could do to help him in the meantime.

Alec smiled weakly and nodded.  “I love you”.

Magnus’ smile turned into a smirk, “You’d better”.

The younger man huffed out a laugh, then winced immediately as Magnus wiped gently over his knuckles with a wipe.

“However, can we at least agree right now that this sort of behaviour doesn’t work and is not classed as ‘resting’ in any way, shape or form” he scolded.

Alec sighed, “Yes, we can agree on that”.

“Good… because your sister is on her way and she is not going to be happy about this”,

Alec closed his eyes again, “Shit”.

Chapter Text

It was still another 30 minutes after Magnus had dressed Alec’s knuckles and they’d made it downstairs, Alec changing out of his sweats and Magnus brewed coffee, predicting it would be needed not only for his boyfriend but for their visitors as well.

 

When the door chime sounded Magnus had been on his way into the lounge where Alec had settled himself with his first mug, so he redirected and pulled open the door instead.

Izzy walk in, straight past Magnus without a word, meeting Alec halfway across the lounge and fell into his arms.  As he wrapped around her, squeezing tightly, she pressed her face into his chest, hands fisted into his sweatshirt, and sobbed.

In the time it took for Izzy to find her safe place to break down, Simon stepped through the door with Laila in his arms, looking pale and tired himself.

“Hey Magnus” he greeted quietly as the older man closed the door.

“Simon” he greeted back.  “How are you doing?”.

“This is… I just can’t believe it’s happening” he whispered, using his free hand to push his glasses back up on his nose.

Magnus wasn’t really sure how to respond to that, and he’d been there when it happened.

“How’s Alec?” Simon whispered, watching his wife and her brother as they consoled each other.

Magnus gave a sad smile as his only response.  “I’ll help you pack Laila and Izzy’s things” he said, and they followed the hallway to the spare room instead of cutting through the lounge, giving the siblings their privacy.

When they reached the spare room one thing struck Magnus immediately… Izzy was not as organised as her brother.  It looked like a whirl wind had blown through a Macy’s and Lullaby Baby’s and landed directly in their spare room. 

Magnus turned to Simon who shrugged and handed him Laila, who stared wide eyed at her un-official uncle, trying to make out if his mood was as different as everyone else’s.

“There’s order within the chaos” Simon explained, getting on his knees to grab the suitcase Izzy had stored beneath the bed.  “You just have to know what you’re looking for”.

And he was right.  It didn’t actually take him that long to get the clothes and toiletries for both his girls packed up before starting to dismantle the travel cot.  While this was going on Magnus did his due diligence and entertained TC, bringing a smile back to her lips with the use of different voices and jokes of dubious content which, had she been able to understand, would have been wholly inappropriate.  Simon found 70% of them funny, 20% shocking his sensibilities and 10% of them he was sure were not physically possible.  He made a note to ask Izzy about those later.

Finally the travel cot was packed away in its bag so Magnus and Laila led Simon, who had the cot slung over one shoulder and was wheeling the case with his other hand, back into the lounge to find that both Alec and Izzy had relocated to the kitchen.

When the joined their partners Alec was pouring coffee into four mugs while Izzy blew her nose into a napkin, eyes red and mascara running, while still managing to scold her brother.

“…saying how does hurting yourself help?”.

“I’m not hurting myself Izzy” his voice exacerbated.  “I just forgot my gloves”.

“It’s still self-harm Alec” she snapped.

He turned to her, wide eyed in shock.  “No it isn’t, I would never…”.

“But you are” she spoke softer, “It may not be as drastic as some methods, but you’re hurting yourself with the hope that the physical pain will take away the…” she trailed off as she noticed Magnus and Simon coming in through the doorway.

Simon dropped the bags onto the kitchen floor and took Laila back from Magnus when he held his daughter out to him.  The older man then rushed off into another part of the loft, coming back just as Alec finished with the coffees and he handed Izzy his makeup wipes and a mirror.

“Thanks Magnus” she said with a grateful smile and went straight to fixing her eyes while Alec sombrely dealt out the coffee mugs as they all took a seat around the island.

Alec sat to Magnus’ left, Simon on the end of the island to his left, and took the opportunity to grab Laila from his brother-in-law.  Sitting her in his lap, her back and head against his chest so she could watch the goings on around her.  He knew it would keep her peaceful for at least long enough for them to talk.  It was even more likely when Magnus took off one of his beaded necklaces and handed it over to her to play with.

“How did it go with Woolsey?” Izzy asked, eyes focused on her reflection.

Alec kept his own eyes down, monitoring how much of Magnus’ necklace had disappeared into Laila’s mouth along with one tiny fist.

“About as well as you would imagine” he replied quietly.  “There wasn’t a whole lot that I could say.  I remembered most of what happened but…” he sighed heavily.  “Whoever it was hit me from behind and… I didn’t really see anything, not even once I was out in the hallway”.

“Nath said they would send me the autopsy report” she added, still focused on tidying her face.

“Yeah, Bat said he’ll send me the forensics as well…” Simon advised.

Magnus looked at Alec, who seemed to be ignoring them in favour of watching over his niece.  He was clearly reluctant to add his own thoughts and Magnus wasn’t quite sure what to make of it yet.  If it had been one of his siblings, Angel forbid, Alec would have been all over the investigation, protocol be damned.  But this was his father, his estranged father.  And while he was sure Alec cared and wanted whoever did this punished, perhaps he wasn’t willing to risk his career to bring that person to justice.  Or, he really was hiding something from them.

Izzy seemed to notice her older brother’s silence and placed the mirror carefully on the tabletop.  “Alec?”.

He finally looked up, though he didn’t actually meet anyone’s eyes.  “What?”.

Izzy looked at Simon, “Did you hear what we said?”.

“Yes” he replied bluntly and then looked back down at Laila who had tipped her head back and was watching him with her big brown eyes.

“Soooo?” Izzy drew the word out, trying to get Alec to engage further in the conversation.

“So,” he repeated, “…we need to let Woolsey do his thing”.

Izzy’s mouth dropped open in disbelief and Simon shifted uncomfortably on his stool, seeing this heading for an argument.

“Are you serious?” she asked, a warning clear in her tone.

“Yes Iz” he answered firmly.  “I am very serious.  We cannot be involved in the case.  When Woolsey catches this person we cannot risk giving the defence any opportunities”.

“We went guns blazing after Max” she pointed out.

Alec’s cheeks flushed pink, “And look where it got us…”.

“With Max and you alive” she replied, anger creeping in.

“I am well aware of the outcome” he replied, breath quickening and forcing memories back again.  “What I mean is, we had a confession which was thrown out and now…” he faltered and then looked at Magnus wide eyed.  “Shit, you’re testifying tomorrow”.

Magnus smiled and reached out to brush that familiar curl out of his boyfriend’s eyes, “All three of us are darling”.

“I’m sorry Magnus…I forgot…” he looked admonished and it made Magnus chuckle softly.

“I think that is understandable my love…” he soothed.

“Don’t change the subject” Izzy snapped.

Alec sighed and turned back to her.  “The point is, Izzy, we had a confession and it was thrown out because the rules weren’t followed.  Now we all have to go through a trial, something I would have done anything to see that Max didn’t have to do”.

The mention of what Max had needed to do calmed her fury and her shoulders sagged.

“We let Woolsey run his investigation.  Luke will keep an eye on it and if he’s not up to it… well that’s up to Luke to deal with”.  He was deliberately avoiding Magnus’ eye as he spoke of his ex, not wanting to spark memories of his earlier remarks.

“We can’t just sit here and do nothing” she grumbled.

“We aren’t” Alec continued.  “We’ll cooperate with whatever Woolsey needs.  That’s how we help”.

“But…” Izzy started again.

“Perhaps we should have an early lunch” Magnus suggested, interrupting Izzy before the argument picked up again.  “I could order in?  There is a new Cuban restaurant that delivers, we have been wanting to try their sandwiches”.

“Sounds good to me” Simon jumped into the conversation cheerfully, always the peacemaker and very uncomfortable with confrontation.

Alec looked at Magnus, a small smile on his lips and he nodded.  “That would be great”.

“Fabulous” and he retrieved his cell from his pocket, opening the restaurants APP to place an order selecting a variety of their menu which would please every one.

Magnus knew he hadn’t actually subverted anything, just delayed an inevitable argument between Alec and Izzy.  He was also likely giving Izzy the opportunity to get Jace onboard with her desire to see justice done.  He wondered if he should discuss his thoughts with Alec, but then decided against it.  His boyfriend knew his siblings and he knew how to deal with them, stepping in would only give Alec something else to worry about.

While they waited for the food Simon took up a narrative about his trip to Vegas and the new forensics techniques he had discovered, his excitement was inescapable and infectious, each person drawn into the new methods and equipment available.  Simon had a budget that he controlled, he now just needed to decide on which would be the best investment for his own lab.

Izzy prepared a bottle for Laila who took it greedily and then fussed for sleep.  With the cot dismantled Magnus suggested she lay her daughter down on his and Alec’s bed, surrounding her with pillows to keep her safe.  The little girl fell quickly to sleep and Izzy came back just as Alec and Magnus were plating up the food and scattering it on the island so everyone could dip into the different sandwiches. 

During the meal the conversation turned to the soft opening of Pandemonium which was also Simon’s birthday drinks.  Magnus had asked if they still wanted to attend and all three were adamant that, despite recent events, they would be there to support him.  Izzy had asked about his other locations and Magnus happily discussed the meeting he’d recently attended and his decision to open the London location first.

When everyone had eaten their fill Alec had spent some time packing up the leftovers and storing them in the fridge while Izzy fetched Laila and Simon rebalanced the bag and cot they had come to collect.  When the couples parted Alec was quiet again, and while he hugged his sister, kissing the top of her head, he avoided her eyes.

When Magnus finally closed the door his younger boyfriend sighed, rubbing at the back of his neck.  He was tired, weary to the bone and he just wanted to sleep.

“Is there anything you need darling?” Magnus asked him quietly, seeing the exhaustion on his boyfriends face.

Alec smiled softly again, “No, thank you.  I just need some sleep…”.

“Okay” Magnus agreed, “I have some work I need to do so I’ll be in my office if you do need anything…”.

Alec’s cell rang before Magnus could finish and Alec could respond.  So, both still stood in the hallway, Alec picked up the call.

“Jace?” he said in welcome.

 

*****

 

When Alec and Magnus arrived at the scene they had to park two streets over, Alec using his police pass to ensure the Porsche wasn’t ticketed or towed.

The gallery itself was located on East 76th in the Upper East Side.  It was a business that Magnus’ father had left him and he’d been happy to keep as part of his portfolio though Jocelyn managed the day to day details.  The Celestial Canvas was in one building and the first three floors were dedicated to showing and selling the art work of various artists from all walks of life and who expressed themselves in a vast array of art forms.  The forth floor was separated into four studios where Clary and other artists ran classes covering painting skills, sculpture, illustration and sketching.  The fifth floor was Jocelyn’s home, a two bedroom loft apartment where she had resided since Clary had been a baby.

From the outside the building was made of white sandstone with floor to ceiling windows separated with pillars of white, each floor separated from the other with decorative mouldings.  In each window they displayed prints of the paintings they were currently selling, an excellent way to advertise their products without risking sun damage to the actual artwork.

The couple walked briskly to the gallery and Alec found he needed to pull his jacket closer around him.  The weather was turning, moving from autumn to winter and, while he used to love the snow, the cold just reminded him of an anniversary creeping ever closer.  He felt his heart beating hard in his chest and the rise in blood pressure made his head thump harder.  He took in a deep breath as quietly as he could and let it out through his mouth.

“Alec…” Magnus started, looked sideways at his boyfriend but didn’t finish his sentence.  There was nothing he could say that was going to stop Alec getting to his brother, all Magnus could do right now was tag along and keep as close an eye on him as he could.

Turning a corner the first thing they noticed was the blue and red lights still flashing on three patrol cars and one ambulance.  There was also an unmarked sedan and Alec guessed that detectives were already here and in control of the scene.

Moving along the sidewalk they had to pass the ambulance in order to reach the Gallery door and, just as they came level with the doors at the back end, Alec was startled by a hand grabbing a tight hold of his arm.

He pivoted quickly on the heel of his foot, ready to pull away and strike out with his other hand when his eyes fell on a distressed Jace.

His hair was rumpled and there were soot smudges on one cheek and his forehead, his eyes where ringed in red and bloodshot, his mouth held in a thin grimace.

“Jace…” Alec pulled him into a hug and, with his head over the younger man’s should he say Clary sat in the back of the ambulance, a blanket over her shoulders as a paramedic held a mask to her nose and mouth, helping her to slow her breathing.

When Jace pulled back from his brother he half turned and spoke firmly to Clary, “I’ll be back babe, okay?”.

She nodded at him, her green eyes wet with tears and Alec wasn’t sure if she had been crying or if it was due to the panic attack she was obviously recovering from.

“The fire’s out” Jace said as he took a gentler grip on Alec’s arm and guided him to the gallery door, Magnus following closely.  “It looks like it was focused in the bedrooms but the rest of the loft is wrecked with smoke and water damage…”.

“Jace…” Alec took a grip on the blonde, shaking his arm loose.  “Slow down… what’s going on?”.

He took a deep breath, seeing his breath in the air when he let it out and realising how cold it was.  “We can talk inside…”.

He pushed through the door into the gallery’s ground floor and Alec was surprised that it hadn’t been cordoned off as part of the crime scene. 

Having been here before to help with the background preparation for a number of shows he knew that there were actually several ways into the loft that Jocelyn live in and Clary had called home before she moved in with Jace.

There was an back entrance that was used for trash and deliveries, which went straight up to the loft on the top floor via stairs and had a doorway into each of the four levels of the gallery.  These door’s doubled as fire exits, but the entrance to the Fray home was secured and alarmed so customers couldn’t mistakenly access their private rooms.

There was also a doorway straight from the street which led to both another stairwell and an elevator which was able to cater for their customers that had pre-agreed appointments.  Then, finally, there was the revolving door that led straight into the Gallery from the street, for any walk in visitors or customers.

This was the door that Jace had taken them in, moving passed the reception desk and into the open floor at the back where their current exhibits were displayed.

“Should we be in here?” Magnus asked, clearly having the same thoughts as Alec.

“Yeah, it’s fine” Jace replied, still twitchy.  “They’ve confirmed they used the back entrance so everyone…” as he spoke a forensics officer came through the door at the back of the room, followed by a uniformed officer.

“Hey…” he glared, “who the hell are these two Wayland!?”.

Alec pulled out his badge for the officer to look at when he reached them.  “Detective Lightwood, Homicide”.

“Nobody’s dead” he remarked, glaring at Magnus next.  “And who’s this?”.

Magnus gave his brightest smile, “Magnus Bane…” he introduced himself.  “Gallery owner”.

“Oh!” The officer seemed to relax.  “Detectives Youngblood and Bellefluer will want to talk to you…” he stepped away and started talking into his radio.

“Looks like you’re more welcome than me” Alec mumbled to him under his breath.

“Look…” Jace spoke up to draw their attention back to him.  “Clary got a call from the emergency services to say they were attending a fire here.  We got over as soon as we could and by the time we arrived they had the blaze under control, and they’d also confirmed that no one was in the loft”.

“Okay…” Alec frowned, “That seems like it would be a good thing?”.

“Clary still couldn’t reach Jocelyn though and they have this… tracking APP thing, which said Jocelyn’s cell went off in the early hours of the morning” Jace answered.

Alec looked at Magnus then back to his brother.  “Maybe she went out…”.

Jace was already shaking his head.  “No, Clary… she used the inner stairs to get up to the loft and saw that… it’s a mess Alec.  And I don’t mean ‘there was a fire’ mess, I mean someone trashed the place.  I think they set the fire to try and cover their tracks”.

“She went up there…” Alec repeated in disbelief, “While they were still fighting the fire…”.

“Yeah…” he said, almost irritably, “…but that’s not the point Alec, and I got her back down here.  She’d taken a lungful of smoke though and… she started to panic”.

“Jace!” Clary called out to him as she came into the gallery and hurried to join them.  “Did you tell him?”.

Alec looked at her, “Hey, are you okay?  Maybe you should stay with the paramedics…”.

She was already shaking her head.  “No, I need to find my mom.  I want to get back up to the loft…”.

“Clary, it’s a crime scene.  Not to mention it is also unsafe… we need to wait for fire and rescue to confirm it’s structurally sound before even the police can get in there…”.

“But you can get me in, right?” she asked, eyes full of hope.

Alec looked at Jace who didn’t meet his eyes, then sighed as he turned back to Clary.  “No Clary, I can’t.  This isn’t my case and, even if it were… you’re a civilian”.

“So is Magnus” she pointed out.

“And he’s not going up there either” Alec shot back then took a calming breath again, his headache was getting worse.  “Look, I know Joshua Youngblood, I came through the academy with him and worked with him in patrol for a while.  I’ll see what I can find out… but you can’t go up there Clary”.

She huffed angrily and looked at her boyfriend.  “Jace?”.

He finally looked at Alec, before turning back to her.  “I said we could ask him, but if he can’t get you in there…”.

“Great!” she snapped and spun on her heel, heading back out the way she had come.

“Clary…” he called after her, “Where are you going?”.

“To talk to the fire captain, maybe he’ll do something to help me” she called out, not even looking back at them and striding through the revolving door back into the night.

“Go make sure she doesn’t piss anyone off” Alec told Jace as he pulled his cell out of his pocket.

Jace hurried after her as Magnus turned to Alec, watching him flicking through his contacts.

“Well, she’s quite the spitfire isn’t she” he commented.

Alec rolled his eyes as he moved the phone up to his ear, “That’s not necessarily the word I would use…” he looked away from Magnus as the call was picked up.

“Luke?” he said and waited for the response.  “Yeah, I’m fine… no it’s not about that.  I’m at the gallery… there’s been a fire and Clary thinks her mom is missing…” he frowned, listening to his captain respond.  “No, no one called me…”

He looked at Magnus, worry lining his face.

“Okay… yeah, he’s with me” he was listening again and Magnus found himself trying to strain his hearing in the hope he would get come indication of what they were discussing.

“When?” he paused.  “Alright, all of us?... yeah, see you then” and he hung up, staring down at his cell for a moment.

Magnus tilted his head, trying to put his face in Alec’s line of sight.  “Alec?”.

“Luke asked us to meet him at the precinct in an hour, he asked if Woolsey had called me”.  He dropped his cell back into his pocket and sighed.

“Who needs to go?” Magnus asked.

“Hum?” Alec asked, looking confused, as though he hadn’t really been listening.

“You asked Luke if ‘all of us’ needed to go?” Magnus reminded him.

“Oh, yeah.  You, me, Jace and Clary” he explained.

“Lightwood!”

He heard his name called from the back of the gallery and they both turned to see two men walking toward them.  One, a young man of Asian heritage, was about the same age as Alec and the other, a man with dark skin and striking blue eyes, was perhaps a few years older.

Alec grinned at the younger man as he approached and they shook hands once they were in reach of each other.  “Hey Joshua, how are you?”.

“Better than you, you look like shit” Joshua Youngblood remarked with a frown.  “Is the trial going badly?”.

Joshua had been one of the first of his old colleagues to check in with him when he returned to work after they had arrested Sebastian.  They had spoken a little about what Alec had gone through, though he had  left out the specifics.  He knew the trial had started, it was already being reported in the papers, which meant he also likely now knew about what exactly had occurred when Alec went after Max.

“I didn’t think it was ever going to go smoothly” Alec deflected.  “Anything you can tell me about what’s happened here?”.

He frowned, “What’s your interest?  Chancy called to say the building owner was down here…”.

“Uh, yeah” Alec put his hand on the small of Magnus’ back and gently drew him forward a step so they were stood level with one another.  “Joshua, this is Magnus Bane, the gallery owner and my boyfriend.  Magnus, this is Joshua Youngblood”.

Magnus held out his hand and Joshua shook it warmly.  “Hey, I’ve heard good things about you”.

Magnus smirked, “And I you.  Thank you, for reaching out to Alec”.

Joshua nodded once to acknowledge the thanks, then jerked his thumb to the other man.  “This is my partner Theo Bellefluer”.

Alec and Magnus shook the other man’s hand.

“So, you’re dating the owner?” Joshua asked.

“And Jace is dating Jocelyn Fray’s daughter, Clary” Alec added.

Joshua  mouth a silent ‘Oh’ and glanced at his partner.  “She’s quite… determined.  We nearly had to arrest her…”.

Alec groaned, “Please don’t, we won’t hear the end of it”.  He shuffled his feet, “Anything you can tell me though?”.

“Well, us being here tells you we’re treating this as a missing person’s.  There is evidence of a struggle and the fire was definitely set on purpose, the accelerant is obvious even to an untrained nose.  We have patrol out knocking on doors and once the fire captain clears the loft we’ll get forensics in there”.

Alec took a deep breath, “What’s the chance of letting Clary in there when it’s safe and forensics have done what they need to?  She might see something out of place that you wouldn’t notice… we can get forensics to escort her…”.

Joshua took a deep breath, catching his partner’s eye again and the look on their faces told Magnus what a big ask this was.

“I don’t know Alec…” he started.

“Come on Josh…” Alec said, his lips quirked up at one corner.  “Do we need to talk about Shelly?”.

He immediately groaned, “Really?  You’re calling that in for this?”.

Alec shrugged, “Clary’s important to Jace”.

He sighed heavily, looked at his partner who gave him a shrug.  Clearly he knew all about Shelly and what Alec had done for his partner.

“Fine, but not until the fire captain say’s it’s safe and I’ll ask Bat to take her through the floor… but she touches nothing” he warned seriously.

Alec glanced at Magnus, “Uh, how would you feel about me taking her though the floor then?  If you want her to keep her hands to herself, Bat may not be the one who can police that”.

“Okay, you take her… after forensics are done though”.

Alec held his hand out and Josh grabbed it, then he drew him in for a one-armed shoulder hug.  “We have to get back to the precinct right now, you’ll text when we can come back?” he asked as they drew apart.

Josh nodded, “Sure, and you’ll forget all about Shelly… right?”

Alec snorted, “Gladly”.

“Before you go…” Theo spoke up, “We’d like to ask Magnus some questions about the buildings security systems…”.

Magnus placed his hand on Alec’s arm, “Why don’t you go and give Clary the good news before she does get herself arrested, I’ll meet you outside when the detectives are done with me”.

Alec nodded, pressing a chaste kiss to his boyfriends lips before he headed back out onto the sidewalk, making an immediate beeline for the fire truck and the raised voices, groaning internally as the pounding in his head ratcheted up again.

Chapter Text

When he stepped around the fire truck he spotted Clary in a heated argument with the fire chief and Jace attempting to calm her down.  He also saw the patrol men to his right watching closely, then one of them started to head over, his hand reaching for the handcuffs on his belt.

Alec recognised him and he moved to intercept.

“Duncan?” he announced himself and the officer looked up at him in surprise.

“Hey Alec” he greeted, one eye still on the red head giving the fire chief a hard time.  “What’s homicide doing here?”.

“I’m not here professionally…” he started to explain but then saw the look of recognition in Duncan’s eyes as he spotted Jace tugging on Clary’s arm and trying to move her back a few steps.

“Ah” he said.

“Yeah… look, can you let me deal with…” he looked over at his brother who looked torn between keeping Clary from trouble but also letting her get her own way.

“She’s causing a disturbance Alec, he’s supposed to be monitoring the scene and keeping his team safe while they try and help her” he pointed out, not amused by the young woman’s behaviour.

Alec sighed, he couldn’t exactly disagree with the man.  “Look, you’re hoping to take the detectives exam next window right?”.

Duncan gave him a curious look.  “Yeah?”.

“So, how about whenever we need someone from patrol I make sure you’re assigned to my unit.  It’ll give you the experience you need… see how the knowledge you’re reading up on is put to use in the field?” Alec bargained.

Duncan mulled that over and returned a counter offer.  “And 30 hours of tutoring?”.

“10 hours” Alec suggested.

“20 hours” Duncan argued, “She looks about ready to take a swing at the guy”.

Alec nodded.  “Okay, 20 hours and I’ll have you assigned as patrol support to our cases up until you take the exam?”.

Duncan grinned happily.  “Done” and put his cuffs back onto his belt then headed back the way he had come, joining his partner.

When the hell Alec was going to fit in 20 hours of tutoring he had no idea, maybe he could make it group sessions with Jace as well.  He pushed the concern to the side for a moment and hurried over to the fire chief.

“Chief…” he interrupted ignoring Clary completely for the moment.  “They need you on the scene”.

He looked at Alec gratefully and moved away without a backwards glance.

“Hey” Clary yelled after him, “I’m talking to you!”.

“Enough Clary” Alec hissed, stepping into her line of sight.  “All you’re going to do is get yourself arrested.  The detectives in charge have said they’ll let you have access as soon as the building is safe and forensics have been through it.  I’ll take you up there…”.

“Oh, after forensics” she snipped sarcastically.  “They’ll disturb everything, they might even take something that could help us”.

He looked at her in disbelief for a moment, then glanced at Jace who just stood silently with his arms crossed over his chest.

Alec shook his head and counted to 10 silently.  “That’s the best we can do if you want to take a look around.  Right now Magnus is speaking with the detectives about the security arrangements for the building and we need to get to the precinct”.

“Why?” she demanded with angry eyes.

“Because you need to give your statements and because Luke has told us to get in there” he replied sternly.

“And what about my mom?” Clary snapped.  “I’m just supposed to hang around the precinct while she’s in trouble?”.

“You don’t actually know that she is in trouble” Alec reminded her.  “Let the police do their investigating and your statement will help with that”.

“Clary” Jace finally spoke up.  “We do need to give them our statements.  You need to tell them what you know about your mom’s last movements so they can figure out a timeframe.  The sooner that happens, they can figure out what is going on”.

She glared between the two men before sighing reluctantly, “Fine, let’s go then”.

Alec pulled the keys for the Porsche out of his pocket and gave them to Jace then told him where the car was parked.  “Go wait in the car, we’ll be there when Magnus is done with the detectives”.

Jace took the keys and led Clary off in the direction of the car while Alec headed back to the Gallery, going back inside where Magnus had just finished explaining how the security worked and who had codes to get through the respective doors.

“…not that we can see, but forensics can take a look now that we have your permission.  They’ll do a systems analysis so we can see what access has been used” Bellefluer explained, putting away his notepad then shaking Magnus’ hand.  “And thanks, for not making us get a warrant”.

“I just want to make sure Jocelyn is alright” Magnus explained, spotting Alec approaching out of the corner of his eye.  “Do you need me for anything else?”.

Joshua shook his head, “Not right now.  We need to get Jace and Clary’s statements, we want to know when they last saw Jocelyn”.

“They’re waiting in our car, Luke’s asked us back to the precinct…”.

“Okay, we can do it there” Joshua advised.  “We have a few things to finish up here and we’ll let you know when forensics are done so you can take Miss Fray up there”.

Alec smiled, “Thanks Josh”.

The couple said their goodbyes and left the gallery, Magnus explaining that they hadn’t found any forced entry so wanted to know how the security systems worked for each of the entrances and a list of who had access to what.  Magnus had provided him the details for staff other than Jocelyn, which included Clary, Meliorn and several of the tutors running classes.

When they got back to the car Alec slide behind the drivers seat and threw Jace into the back seat with a sulking Clary so Magnus could climb into the front.  During the drive Magnus spent the time sending the gallery staff messages to advise them the police would be in contact with a brief description on why.

Alec, at the same time as navigating busy New York streets, spoke to Clary about what was going to happen when she was interviewed.  He wanted to prepare her so she knew what to expect but to also give her time to really think about her answers and make sure they were accurate.  He told her to think about the last time she saw her mom as well as the last time she had heard from her, just in case they were different, and what they had been talking about.  He told her to think about what had been going on in her mom’s life, the people she talked about, where she had been, who had visited her and who she had been to see.  He told her that the detectives would want a copy of her mom’s communications from her phone as well as the data from the APP they used to track one another.  He also told her to get a list of contacts together, people that the detectives would need to talk to.

Throughout the whole speech Clary didn’t say a word.  She stared out the passenger window, her arms crossed over her chest and a look of annoyance not quite covering the underlying fear that was also there.

Alec had no idea of course, he was too focused on the traffic around them.  But Magnus had been watching her in the rear view mirror, feeling sympathy for the young women as well as his own concern regrading Jocelyn’s whereabouts.

He had actually know the Fray’s since Clary was six years old.  His father had contacted him in his early teens, his real father that was.  Finding out about his parentage was what had sent him off the rails in the first place and it wasn’t until a near death experience, Ragnor saving his life, that he had attempted to get his shit together.  He relapsed twice but eventually, with the help of Ragnor, Cat and Raphael, he had gotten his life back on track, but by then his father had fallen off the map, leaving a old legal associate of Ragnor’s in control of his businesses.

He’d tried to get Magnus interested in his father’s portfolio, suggested that Asmodeus would be pleased to see his only son running his businesses when he returned.  But Magnus had spent so many years doing wrong that he wanted to put some of it right.  So, he had focused on his studies and eventually caught the eye of the FBI.  At that point his father’s lawyer had cut all ties with him, but he knew where the businesses were and had met the people who kept them running, including the Fray’s.

Jocelyn had been worried about some of the artwork coming through the gallery and she had approached Magnus.  He didn’t actually work for the white collar division but he dedicated his free time to visiting the gallery and talking loudly about his work when suspicious customers were around.  Very soon they disappeared, but he had built a relationship with the two women which had continued even when he’d had his father declared dead and taken control of his business, firing the original lawyer but keeping on the good people who worked hard to keep everything afloat.

That’s why he knew that her attitude, while irritating, was her defence.  She had only ever known her mother and to have her missing must have been terrifying for the young woman.  He just hoped she would see that Alec was trying to help.

“Magnus?” he heard Alec call softly from his side and when he turned to look at him he found they were in the precinct parking lot, Jace and Clary already out of the car and waiting for the other two men to join them.

“Are you okay?” Alec asked.

“Yes darling” he cleared his throat softly.  “I just got a little lost in my thoughts”.

Alec reached across the front seats and took Magnus’ hand.  “I know Jocelyn is a friend, I’m sorry”.

Magnus smiled, “Thank you Alexander”.

With his free hand Alec reached across to cup Magnus cheek, running his thumb over the soft skin beneath his eye.  He looked tired, almost as tired as Alec felt.

He was about to speak again when there was a firm knock on his window and he drew away from his boyfriend so he could look around.

Clary stood outside his door, a serious look on her face.  “Are we going up or not?”.

Alec bit down the retort he had on the tip of his tongue, reminding himself that she was stressed and worried.

Taking the key from the ignition he looked at Magnus who gave him a sympathetic smile and then they both climbed out of the car together.

 

*****

 

Luke paced restlessly back and forth across his office, one eye on the clock and his other gripping his cell tightly in his hand. 

The preliminary forensics had been done, and Jordan had made sure he got a copy before his sent it to Woolsey.  Luke had asked him to hold off and explained he would go through it with the lead detective that day.

But when he’d found out about Jocelyn… there was only one person he wanted to call and now he was waiting for them to arrive.

He tore his eyes from the clock and looked at the manilla file on his desk, it drew him in and he brushed his fingers over the card, jumping when the door to his office was opened.

“Hey hun” Maryse said warmly, but he could still hear how tired she had been.  Max wasn’t sleeping well, with the trial and Robert’s death.  He had agreed to see Jem and they had an appointment booked for that Thursday.  Max’s party was on Friday and they hadn’t broached the subject with him yet, and whether he would want to go ahead with it.

Luke looked up and gave her a tight smile.

Her face dropped immediately, knowing her partner and realising now he had called her in for some really bad news.

“What’s going on?” she asked as she pulled off her gloves then started to unbutton her coat.

Luke drew out one of the chairs opposite his desk for her and then he sat himself in the other one once she had joined him.  Then, with a sigh, he placed a hand flat on the file that sat at the edge of his desk.

“This is the preliminary forensics from Robert’s room” he explained, getting straight to the point as he knew that Maryse would appreciate that and could handle it.  “The knife had been left at the scene, and they also found a glass from the bar.  Both had Valentine Morgenstern’s finger prints on them, the glass also had his DNA, take from traces of his saliva”.

Maryse covered her mouth with a hand as though she was trying to stop herself from speaking.  Her eyes darted around the room and Luke recognised the news had triggered her flight or fight response.  But it was mere seconds before she gained back her composure, just as he knew it would be.

“Valentine killed Robert?” she asked calmly, just to make sure she was understanding exactly what he was saying.

Luke nodded, “It seems that way.  They still have a lot to process but it doesn’t look as though anyone else was in the room”.

“So, he’s back” she muttered.

“Yeah” Luke answered.

“In New York” her eyes suddenly hardened.  “You know what it is in three days?” she asked uselessly, because of course he knew what Wednesday was.

“I know Maryse” he answered, his voice low.

She stood up and took up the same pacing route he had been using earlier, her hands on her hips.  “Do we tell him?” she asked, before immediately answering her own question.  “Of course we do, we have to tell him”.

“I’ve called Alec in” Luke told her, “But there’s something else…”.

She stopped and just stared at him expectantly.

“Jocelyn Fray, it looks like she was abducted last night” he said.

“Shit!” was Maryse’s only response.

 

*****

 

Valentine sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.  “Tell about this fire again?”.

Bloodowl tried to ignore the noise coming from the small bathroom in the corner and focused on the man in front of him.

“She didn’t make it easy” he explained, “Actually put up a pretty good fight, she cut Silverbrook and by the time we got her secured… well there was blood all over the bedroom.  We set fire to it so we didn’t leave any evidence behind”.

He dropped his hand to the table top and drummed his fingers against the wood.  He was sick of wood, sick of nature, sick of this fucking place.

“I suppose it was better than the alternative” he mumbled, then frowned when they heard more retching coming from the bathroom.  “What the hell is wrong with him?”.

“He gets seasick” Bloodowl replied.

Valentine stared at him.  “Seasick?”.

“The trip over the lake…” Bloodowl explained pointlessly.

“Yeah, I get what made him sick today.  I just find it hard to believe a merc for hire suffers seasickness” he replied sarcastically.

“Well, he normally takes pills” he replied.

Valentine stared at him for a moment.

“He didn’t have any for this job” Bloodowl carried on into the uncomfortable silence.  “We didn’t know the only way you could get here was across the lake”.

The door at the back opened and Silverbrook appeared, looking pale and sweaty.  Valentine used the disturbance to get up and walk across the cabin to the desk.  He opened the drawer and pulled out an envelope which he passed over to Bloodowl when he returned to the table.

Bloodowl opened the envelop and flicked through the money, then lifted his head with a glare.  “This is only half”.

“Well, since you left blood evidence all over the scene, you’ve only done half the job” he replied, voice taking on a threatening tone.  “Now, I suggest you get your asses back to the scene and check you haven’t been compromised”.

Silverbrook wiped the sweat from his brow, “How the fuck are we supposed to do that? Cops will be crawling all over that place…”.

“Well that’s not my problem” Valentine said, dark eyes turning on the other man.  “You caused the issue, you fix it”.

Bloodowl handed the envelop over the his partner, who stuffed it inside his jacket, already trying to decide how they were going to find out what forensics had been found.

Valentine nodded, “Oh, and if in need you again, I’ll be in touch”.

The two men took that as a clear message to get out and they left promptly, even though Silverbrook wasn’t looking forward to the trip back across the lake.  It might only be just over a mile, but it was enough to upset his body’s equilibrium and he knew he wasn’t done vomiting today.

Valentine watched them through the window as they made their way across the grass, past the old campfire, weaving between the surrounding benches, on to the small dock and then jumped back into the motorboat they had used.

Once they were a distant spec on the lake he turned around and headed to the back of the cabin, moving up the wooden stairs to the second floor where the bedroom was located.

Jocelyn lay in the centre of the bed, the sedatives still in affect keeping her in a deep sleep.  He sat next to her, brushing her hair back from her forehead.

“I missed you my love” he said.  “I should be angry with you, keeping Clarissa from me.  But, we’ll all be back together soon, as a family”.

He retrieved his cell from his pocket and opened the picture he had been sent.  It was from the summer, what looked to be a picnic in central park.  Jocelyn was sat on a blanket, Clarissa beside her, both of them looking up into the camera and smiling.

Soon they would have more pictures, only this time all of his family would be together.

 

*****

 

“I seriously cannot believe we are back here again” Clary complained as she took the cup of coffee from Magnus and gulped down a mouthful.

Alec was handing a cup to Jace at the same time and ignored the lack of a thank you.

When they had arrived Luke had asked them to head for the small conference room on the second floor, explaining that he would meet them there.  Jace and Clary had gone ahead while Alec and Magnus took the opportunity to dash over to Java Jones and grab them all large coffees.  Right now, it felt like caffeine was the only thing that was going to get them through.

Magnus had actually suggested that they go home after they had spoken with Luke, it wasn’t them that Bellefluer and Youngblood wanted to interview but, as he predicted, Alec couldn’t leave Jace and he had promised to walk Clary through her mom’s loft as soon as they were granted entry.

“At least you’re not in a crappy little interview room Biscuit” Magnus pointed out as he sank down into one of the padded, high back chairs.

She sighed and stood up, going over to the door to peer out of the window, hoping to see the two detectives on their way.

Alec took a seat next to Magnus, scooting his chair a little closer than it had originally been placed so that he could reach for his hand.  Magnus wasn’t sure for whose comfort he did it, but either way he was grateful for the touch.

“Oh, it’s Luke” Clary suddenly announced, then with a confused tone she added, “why is your mom with him?”.

Alec’s head snapped up, “Mom?”.

Clary stepped back from the door just as Luke opened it and stepped through with Maryse close behind him, pulling the door shut once they were both in the room.

Alec looked at Jace in confusion, but he turned his mouth down, shook his head and shrugged in a ‘I have no idea’ gesture.

“Mom, are you okay?” Alec asked as he released Magnus’ hand and started to stand.

But Maryse was quick across the room, putting a hand on his shoulder to keep him in his seat while she sat in the empty chair beside him.

“It’s okay sweetie” she said, taking his hand and squeezing it with a tense smile on her face.

Alec’s heartrate started to spike, something bad was happening.

“Alec…” Luke started.

“Do you have any news on my mom?” Clary interrupted, clearly as confused as everyone else as to what was happening.

“Have a seat Clary, we’ll get to that” Luke asked patiently.

“But…”.  Before she could get going, Jace took hold of her elbow and pulled her down into a chair beside him.  He had read the room and, just like Alec, realised something was very wrong.

Luke dropped a file onto the table then placed both of his hands on the back of the chair he was stood behind, taking a deep breath in order to centre himself.

“Jordan sent me the preliminary forensic results from Robert’s room…” he started, looking directly at Alec.  “He’s confirmed that the knife used and the glass they found from the bar have Valentine’s finger prints on them, glass also had his saliva and they got a DNA match from it”.

Alec stared at his captain, processing what he’d said.  He felt Maryse squeeze his hand even tighter, Magnus’ hand on his other arm and Jace’s whispered expletive but it all seemed muted, like he was moving through molasses and wasn’t quite connected to what was going on around him.

He’d already been counting the days down until Wednesday, unsure of exactly how he would feel when the day arrived.  Technically it wasn’t Valentine that had taken him, who had inflicted the damage that had been done to his body, who had nearly taken his life.  But it wasn’t good that the man had suddenly come out of the woodwork just before the anniversary.  Was he here to exact some kind of revenge? Alec knew first hand that the man wasn’t close to his son, could barely stand him.  But that didn’t mean he wasn’t angry that he’d been killed and, even though Alec may not have done the actual killing, it was Valentine’s type of mind that would blame him for Sebastian’s actions.

“Alec!” Magnus said firmly and it was just about the only thing that snapped him out of his thoughts.  Because Magnus, using that nickname and in that tone, meant he was really worried.

Alec turned to him, eyes still slightly unfocused, but locked onto his boyfriend none-the-less.

Magnus let out a small breath of relief, “There you are” and he slipped a hand around the back of his boyfriends neck, trying to ground him further.  “Are you okay?”.

The younger man put on his best smile, “Of course” he replied and turned back to Luke.  “Does Woolsey know yet?”.

Luke gave Maryse a bemused glance.  “Not yet.  I wanted to tell you first…”.

“But he’s the lead detective” Alec pointed out, trying to keep his breathing even.  “He really needs to know”.

Luke nodded, shifting uncomfortably on his feet, Alec’s reaction was disturbing him.  It was as though he didn’t understand they were concerned for his safety, or he was ignoring the threat.  “I’m going to tell him next.  I just wanted to tell you because of… what’s coming up”.

Alec rolled his neck a little, hearing a quiet crack as his bones stretched and withdrew his hand from his mother’s grasp.  “I appreciate that, but I’m good.  What happened last year wasn’t Valentine, so… I’m okay”.

It was written all over Maryse’s face.  Leaning back in her chair she was able to catch Magnus’ eye behind her eldest’s back and she saw the same worried expression there.

“Alec” Jace spoke up, “It’s okay if you’re…”

Alec glared at him, “I said I’m fine” he snapped then swallowed hard, trying to compose himself.  “Are you going to share the forensics with the FBI team working his case?”.

Luke nodded, “I’ll be making sure that Woolsey does, yes.  They may want to talk to you because of the message…”.

“He has my number…” Alec interrupted before Luke gave too much away.  Magnus didn’t know about the message and he hoped to keep it that way, “…he can call if he needs anything more than my original statement, but there isn’t much else I can add”.

“Alec, man… you’re being weird” Jace accused, “This is Valentine… the last time he was in New York…”.

“We caught him” Alec pointed out.  “And I’m sure Woolsey is more than capable of doing the same”.

“Wha..” Jace looked stunned by his brother’s attitude and he turned to Luke for what he thought might be some help in understanding what was going on.

“Was there anything else?” Alec asked Luke in his best impersonation of someone who was calm and collected, whilst not feeling even remotely so.

He sighed, pulled out the chair he had been leaning on and sat down.  “Yeah…” this time his focus was on Clary.  “I’m was sorry to hear about your mom Clary”.

“Thank you” she said, her tone giving away how unsure she was of what was coming next.

“I’ve…” Luke glanced at Maryse, “…we’ve known Jocelyn for a long time, before you were even born” he explained.

This made Clary frown, “She never said…”.

Alec and Jace also shared a surprised look and Magnus realised this was clearly news to them too.

Luke smiled sadly.  “We had to cut ties with her, for her safety… and yours.  I don’t know how much your mom told you about your father.  But she made me promise that, if I ever needed to,  I would be honest with you”.

Clary looked at Jace, who, if it was even possible, looked even more worried now.

“Your father was… not a good man.  Those are details that your mom should tell you, it’s not my place to.  But I can say that she left him when she found out that she was pregnant with you, she wanted to protect you.  So she came to me and I helped to get her into a home for women with abusive partners… from there she changed her name and found herself, and you, a new life”.  He took a deep breath, “The reason I’m telling you all of this is because… I think it may be your father who has taken Jocelyn”.

“But why would he… after all of this time?” she asked.  “I don’t understand…”.

“Clary…” he said sadly, “Your father is Valentine Morgenstern”.

Chapter Text

Clary could feel everyone’s eyes on her, waiting with bated breath for her response.  The problem was, she didn’t actually know how to respond.

She knew about Valentine Morgenstern the same way as most other people.  She had followed his crimes in the news, heard about his eventual arrest and his trial.  She’d even recognised Alec’s name when his abduction had been in the papers, and when he was the one in charge of the case she’d been involved with.

Now she was being told that one of the most notorious killers in New York history, a bigot of the highest order, was actually her father.  Someone her mother had once loved… it didn’t make sense.

She jerked as she laughed in disbelief.  “No, that’s not right.  My dad’s Jonathan Clarke.  He was in the army and died overseas before I was born…”.

“That’s the story that Jocelyn told everyone” Maryse finally spoke up, her voice gentle.  “She needed to keep you safe…”.

“Safe from what?!” Clary snapped.  “From knowing who I really am?  She lied to me… my whole life!”.

“Clary, calm down” Luke said, his low voice soothing.  “Valentine had a network of informants and crooked cops that were loyal to him.  We don’t even know now if we got everyone who was involved with him”.

Clary looked from the captain to Maryse and then to Jace.  “Did you know?” she asked the blonde in an accusatory tone.

He shook his head vehemently, “No, this is the first I’m hearing of it”.

Next she turned to Magnus and Alec, “What about you two?”.

Alec shook his head, though a little more calmly than his brother.

Magnus had a different response.  “I didn’t know the specifics, but she did tell me that she’d had a different life before.  She’d left it behind to keep you safe”.

“When did she tell you that?” Clary demanded.

“Around five years ago” he answered honestly.

“And you didn’t think to tell me!” she yelled at him, slapping the palms of her hands down onto the table top in frustration.

Alec’s brow furrowed down, his eyes narrowing as he glared at her, “Hey…” he waited until she looked at him, “This isn’t on Magnus”.

Magnus lent forward in his chair, “It wasn’t my secret to tell Biscuit” his voice was soft, sympathetic to what she was going through.

She sighed and flopped back in her chair, “So… let me get this right.  Valentine Morgenstern is my father, and you…” she looked at Luke, “…think he may have taken her?”.

He nodded, “Yes.  I’ve called Bellefluer and Youngblood in to speak with them about my suspicions.  We need to meet them downstairs, they said they were bringing in a suspect who may have helped Valentine on getting access to the building”.

Clary’s eye widened, “Who?  I want to talk to them…” and she shot out of her seat.

“Woah” Luke stood also, holding his hands up, palms out.  “That is not happening Clary…”.

“Why not?” she asked, green eyes flashing angrily.

“Because you’re not a cop” Alec spoke up, standing himself.

She turned her glare on him instead.  “It’s my mom that’s missing…” she argued, “…I have a right to see who was responsible!”.

“Alec…” Jace spoke up softly, his eyes pleading.

Alec sighed, already knowing he was going to have to find some compromise.  “You can’t speak to them… but…” he said forcefully when Jace opened his mouth to argue again.  “I can take you to the observation room that looks down into the custody suite, you can see who it is when they bring them in”.

“What about talking to them?” she asked crossing her arms definitely.

Alec’s face went stern, remember what had happened when he’d gained a confession from Sebastian, but it had been as a civilian because of Rey’s incompetence. 

“You’re not speaking with them Clary” his voice was harsh, but he was loosing patience with her inability to understand police procedures.  “That can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.  We are not risking it”.

Jace and Magnus looked between their partners, two polar opposites in both appearance and nature, that were currently engaged in a stand off, both of them wondering who was going to step in and put a stop to it.

“Okay, enough you two” Luke was the one to speak up.  “Clary, Alec is overstepping by letting you in to the observation room, be grateful he’s doing that”.

Her shoulders slumped a little, realising she wasn’t going to get her way.  “Fine, where is it?”.

Alec turned to Jace, “Do you want to take her there, I’ll be with you in a minute”.

Jace nodded and took Clary’s hand, giving her his trademark grin and leading her from the room, leaving just Luke, Maryse, Alec and Magnus.

Maryse was about to speak when Alec turned to Magnus instead.  “Why don’t you go home” he suggested to his boyfriend.  “You’re just going to be waiting around in uncomfortable chairs here, and you need some rest for tomorrow…”.

“Alec…” Magnus wrapped his hands around his upped arms, squeezing gently.  “I don’t want to leave you here alone…”.

The younger man smiles then dipped his head down to lean his forehead against Magnus’, “I’ll be fine, I promise.  I’ll get Clary a look at this person, see what she thinks.  She can do her interview with the detectives and then hopefully we’ll be able to have a look in the loft…”.

“Wait” Luke spoke up, “What?”.

“You didn’t hear that” Alec said, without moving from where he was pressed against Magnus.

“You need rest too” Magnus argued, “And that was doctor’s orders”.

“I will” he promised, “I’ll be home right after and we’ll have dinner…”.

Magnus sighed, “Okay.  But straight home, and call me if you get dizzy or sick…”

Alec cut him off with a chaste kiss, well aware that his mother was in the room.  “I promise” he whispered once he drew back.

“You should take the car…” Magnus told him and before Alec could argue Maryse spoke up again.

“I’ll take Magnus home” she offered.

“Thank you Maryse” Magnus smiled at her, looked back at Alec once and kissed him again.  “I’ll see you later love”.

Alec watched him go before turning to Luke.  “I called in a favour with Youngblood so Clary can have a look through the loft once it is declared safe and forensics are done.  She said she might see something that can help… its worth a try”.

Luke nodded, “You’re right, I didn’t hear that”.

Alec smiled tiredly, “I’m gonna go…” he waved his hand in the direction of the door.

Luke’s voice stopped him before he could actually step out, “Alec… be careful”.

He nodded, not entirely sure how he was going to do that, then hurried off to meet back up with Jace and Clary.

 

*****

 

Jace was sat on the front bench, arms lent casually against the bar which was bolted to the wall and ran underneath the windows which looked down onto the custody suite.  Alec was stood at his left, arms crossed over his chest, his left shoulder lent against the glass and he leaned casually and watched Clary pacing back and forth on the other side of his brother.

“Clary…” Jace finally spoke up, “Seriously, sit down”.

“I can’t” she explained, “I want to see who this is”.

 

“You will from here” Alec pointed out, “Pacing is just going to wear you out and we still need to take a look through your mom’s loft”.

“I don’t think anything is going to wear me out” she replied, staring down out of the windows.  “Did they say what time they would be here?”.

Alec checked his watch, “Any minute”.

She went silent again, keeping her eyes down on the suite below.  The area was actually separated into 10 custody desks, each with their own separate door so that up to 10 arrestees could be processed at the same time.  Four others were currently in use but she wasn’t paying any attention to anyone else, her eyes scanning over each of the other doors, waiting for one of them to open.

Finally she saw one of the custody officers shift a little, looking like he pressed a button underneath his desk and then the door opposite his opened.

She recognised Youngblood who was first in the doorway holding it open while Bellefluer stepped though, guiding a young man by the elbow.

“What the hell!” Clary explained, her head whipping around to look at Alec though he looked as surprised as she did.  “They arrested Meliorn!”.

‘Shit’ Alec thought, not only about the fact that Meliorn could be in trouble but his arrest could also have an impact on his testimony in Sebastian’s trial.

“Meliorn wouldn’t hurt my mom…” she yelled, “he wouldn’t hurt anyone!”.

“They must have a reason for arresting him…” Alec mused quietly as he watched Youngblood talking to the custody officer and Bellefluer had obviously instructed Meliorn to empty his pockets, the young man was doing as he had been told.  There was the obvious, cell phone, wallet, keys, tissues, what looked like some random coloured chalks and…

“Shit” this time he said it out loud.

“What?” Jace asked, leaning further forward to try and get a better look.

“He’s got a bag of powder” Alec turned his eyes to the officers, trying to gauge their reactions.

Clary sighed, “Meliorn… he was a yin fen addict…”.

Alec looked at her, “Was? Or is?”.

“He’s been… unreliable for a few weeks.  I was worried he may have relapsed” she explained.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt now” the older brother muttered as he saw Bellefluer, Youngblood and the custody officer discussing and logging in the bag of powder.

“Well…” Clary stuttered, “…we have to help him.  There is no way he did anything to hurt my mom, but he’s on probation…”.

Jace groaned, “Even if he’s cleared of any wrong doing in Jocelyn’s disappearance, those drugs are enough to send him back to prison”.

“He’s not a bad guy…” Clary pleaded, first at Jace but when he looked helpless she turned back to Alec.  “He’s… it’s the drugs and… his mom if a narcissistic nightmare”.

Alec looked at her, his arms dropping to his side.  “I don’t know what you expect me to do Clary, he’s in possession of a schedule 1 drug…”.

“Do something!” she rose her voice and Jace looked at Alec for help.  “He doesn’t deserve this”.

Alec ran a hand through his hair, closing his eyes against the volume of her voice as it drove a sharp pain through his skull.  He pushed the pain away and thought about what was happening, how Meliorn’s arrest would work.

Having met the man he doubted he had anything to do with Jocelyn’s disappearance, anything direct anyway.  If he was back on the drugs he may have inadvertently let something slip or, angel forbid, done something in exchange for a dose.  If he was cleared of any wrong doing his case would likely be referred to the drugs squad.  From there, if he was holding under 25g he would receive a fine and be released.  But with probation… if the drugs squad went forward with the case then he would end up back in prison.

“Alec!” Clary snapped.

Alec looked glanced out the window to see that Youngblood and Bellefluer were finishing up, another custody officer escorting a handcuffed Meliorn towards the doorway, taking him to the holding cells.  He turned to Jace.

“Stay with Clary…” and then he turned on his heel and left, ignoring Clary’s frustrated shout at his back.

 

*****

 

Luke dropped the file down onto the desk in front of Woolsey and he immediately pulled it towards him. 

Maia was stood at the coffee machine, a mug in one hand and the jug of coffee in the other.  She had forgotten all about the pouring once Luke had told the team what forensics had uncovered.  Raj and Aldetree, both sat at the table with their lead detective, were eyeing each other nervously.

Woolsey read silently through the results, twice, before he placed the paperwork back down and looked at his captain.

“You need to call the FBI agent in charge of Morgenstern’s task force, Dorothea Collins” Luke advised him, his tone making it clear there was no room for argument.  “The results are already on their way to her, I have asked her to work with you on this as it is your case, but she will take the lead”.

Woolsey looked up at him, studying him for any underlying deceit.  He knew it was procedure, and the FBI were bound to get the lead on this.  He had no intention of fighting them as long as he and his team… he glanced at Raj and Aldetree, refraining from rolling his eyes, could remain on the case.

But Alec’s words echoed in his ears as well and he wondered how seriously he needed to take the warning.  He could, if he so wished, relinquish the entire case to the FBI.  He and his team could wash their hands of Valentine entirely and give their attention back to their current open case load.

Eventually Woolsey nodded, “I’ll call her now”.

“Good” he looked around the room briefly.  “They’ll want to set up here, I’ll get you a conference room reserved”.

“Thanks Luke” Woolsey replied.

Luke looked at him, his gaze steady.  Then he nodded, seeming to make a decision, knocked his knuckles on the table top twice then left.  As soon as the door closed behind him Raj spoke up.

“You have got to be kidding” he said, a hint of fear in his voice.  “Fucking Valentine!”.

Aldetree was shaking his head, “This is not good”.

Woolsey looked around at his team, seeing various looks that ranged from concern to flat out fear.  He could make his choice, he could make the choice for his team as well.  But was it fair to without all of the information.

“You three go out and get something to eat” he ordered, “Take an hour at least and… have a think about what you want your future on this case to be”.

Raj and Aldetree were up and out of the room so fast they almost knocked over Maia who was putting her mug and coffee jug back down.  She grabbed her coat, paused as though she wanted to say something, but then changed her mind and left the room as well.

Woolsey looked at his cell which was sat on his desk, then he looked at the computer bank behind him.  He tapped his fingernails on the table top, thinking about what Lightwood had said during his interview. 

After they had spoken Woolsey had read up on Lightwood’s investigation into Valentine’s crimes.  They hadn’t originally known it was Valentine, he’d still been a serving officer when they had begun, but when they had discovered him he’d gone on the run, slipping seamlessly into the New York underworld.  The investigation was a feat of brilliance and Alec had led them to success.

But the man had also claimed that his life had never been the same again.  Woolsey had discovered that he’d lost his partner and mentor during the investigation, Valentine killing Hodge Starkweather in the final showdown.  But, other than bumps, scrapes ad bruises, he couldn’t see how the investigation could have had that much affect on the young detective.

He abandoned his cell on the desk and moved over to one of the computer stations, logging in and bringing up the search page for the case files database.  This time though, instead of looking up Lightwoods cases, he input his colleagues name into the witnesses field.  This didn’t bring back anything noteworthy. 

Next up he tried his name in the victims field.  He found Sebastian Verlac’s case file, but he was familiar with that through the current court case and news feeds. 

There was another case though, just a few days shy of a year ago.  He hovered the mouse over it for a while, contemplating whether this could be considered a breach of privacy.  But ultimately, if he and his team were going to be working to find Valentine, they deserved to have of the information.

He double clicked on the case file to open it and settled in for a long read… he decided to start with the attached images.

 

*****

 

The drugs squad were the only team that had offices in the basement.  Though where forensics and the medical examiner took up most of the floor, their open plan room was based along the back.  It gave the officers and detectives some anonymity when they were moving in and out of the building, or just working from the office. 

Alec was actually halfway across the room, having greeted serval detectives and officers that he knew as he passed them, before a familiar voice piped up, playing up their undercover persona for all to hear.

“Ohhhhhhhh!” came a loud exclamation and Alec’s cheeks flushed pink as more people turned to see who the detective was shouting at.

“As I live and breath…” the voice continued as he got closer, weaving his way though the desks, other detectives and administrative staff that were milling around.  “Take in the beauty bitches, we have a celebrity in the house!”.

He threw a heatless glare in her direction, indicating with an index finger to his lips for her to keep her voice down until, finally, he reached the woman he had some to see, receiving a slapping hand grasp before being pulled into a vice like hug.

“Hey Gina” he greeted her warmly.

“Lightwood” she replied, perching her ass on the edge of another detectives desk, and judging from the glare on his face he didn’t appreciate it.

“Do you mind Ravenscar” he hissed at her.

“Not at all” she replied, not even looking at him.  “if you don’t like it you can call your mommy”.

The man sighed with a shake of his head, grabbed his mug and headed away from the pair.

“Winning friends everywhere you go still” Alec commented.

“Fuck him” she replied.  “Never done a day undercover in his life.  When he gets his ass off the chair and into the streets, then I’ll smile at him”.

Alec chuckled and took in his old friend.  Her long, shinning black hair was pulled back into a high pony tail, the end of which just brushed the base of her neck. And she had a red scarf tied high around her brow.  Her caramel skin, so like the colour of Magnus’, was paler than usual, though the last time he had seen her was after an undercover op where she was living on the streets at the height of summer.  Her eyes were so dark they were almost black but shone with an intelligence and fierceness that he respected and admired.  She was in V-neck tee, the scar across her chest clear for all to see, under a worn leather jacket that was two sizes too big, loose grey combats with black chuck tailors on her feet and a shoulder holster that held her service weapon and a stun gun.

“How are you G?” he asked, perching on the edge of the empty desk opposite her.

She grinned and he saw she was missing two of her teeth, the right central and lateral incisor.  “I’m great, how are you?”.  She reached out and grabbed the open zips of his jacket, tugging gently at both sides.  “I heard you took a vacation?”.

He blushed harder, dropping his eyes to his feet, “Yeah, we did”.

“Ah, you and Magnus huh?” she lent back again and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Fuck-cation then?”.

He looked back up and rolled his eyes but all it did was make her laugh louder.

“What happened to your teeth?” he asked.

She gave him a nonchalant, one-shouldered shrug.  “Little Petey down at the Hardtail thought he’d grown up enough to be Big Petey”.

Alec grimaced, “Is he okay?”.

She waved his concern away.  “Doctor says he’ll be fine.  We can take him to trial in 6-8 weeks”.  She looked at him carefully.  “But, you aren’t here to see how I am”.

He sighed, “No…”.

“You calling in that favour?” she asked with a lopsided grin, subconsciously running a finger across her scar.

Alec nodded, keeping his eyes on hers.  “There’s a guy that’s just come in, he was holding yin fen…”.

She pushed away from the desk and crossed the room, slumping into the chair at what looked like a dumping ground for the whole departments lunch waste, but turned out to be her own workstation. 

Alec stood at parade rest behind her and watched as she logged into the system.

“Name?” she asked, opening a drawer to her right and pulling out a long piece of beef jerky, sticking the end into her mouth.

“Meliorn Bellerose” he replied.

She typed with one hand while she chewed on the tough meat and brought up his booking form.  “Okay, this says that he was holding 29g of yin fen”.

“He’s on parole” Alec explained.

She swiveled in her chair and looked up at him.  “Then he’s going back to prison”.

Alec looked at her, “That’s what I want to avoid.  He wasn’t actually arrested for the drugs, they found them on him in the custody suite”.

Gina frowned at that news.  “What’s he been arrested for?”.

“Suspect in an abduction case…”

“This had better not be a kid…” her eyes going impossibly darker.

“The fuck do you think I am!” he exclaimed angrily.

She held up her free hand, palm up.  “You’re right, apologies stormy”.

He ignored the use of her nickname for him.  “A woman has been abducted, the detectives think he may have let in the perps… maybe gave away his code…”.

She tilted his head and gave him a narrowed eye stare.  “What’d you think?”.

“I think he’s a lost kid that may have done something under the influence of drugs.  But he’s a good kid and going to prison isn’t going to help him”.

Gina looked over her shoulder at the computer and checked Meliorn’s personal data.  “You know he’s older than you right?”.

Alec frowned, “What’s that…”.

“You called him a kid” she turned back to him with an amused smirk.

“I feel older” he deadpanned.

“You act it too”.

He sighed “Gina…”.

“Alright, alright” she spun back around again, made an edit on Meliorn’s file then opened the bottom drawer of her desk. From here she pulled out $20 and a receipt then spun back to him, holding both items out.

“I logged him as a CI for me…” she explained.  “When he get’s released by missing person’s give him the $20 and have him fill out the receipt.  Take a photo and email it to me so I can claim it.  In the meantime, when they call us, which they will, it’ll come to me and I’ll let him off with a fine.  29g is close enough to the 25g for personal use to get away with it”.

Alec took the items and stuffed them in his pocket, “G, I would kiss you if I didn’t know you’d punch me”.

She nodded.  “Damn right I would, you save those pretty pink lips for that gorgeous man of yours”.  Her black eyes appraised him again, before she spoke in a lower, more serious tone.  “You doing okay?”.

He nodded, “Yeah Gina.  I’m good”.

“You look like shit” she pointed out, all teasing gone.  “I know he was an ass but…”.

“Really…” Alec interrupted her.  “I’m dealing with it”.

Gina nodded, letting it go.  “Rumour has it Valentine’s poked his head up again”.

“Not my case this time” he informed her.  “Look, thanks for this…” he waved the money and receipt.  “We can say the favour has been paid”.

Her face softened, “No, nowhere even close”.

Alec smiled at her and, despite his earlier words, lent down quick to press a kiss against her cheek then dodged out of her reach as she took a half-hearted swing at him.

“Thanks Gina” he called back with a grin as he made his way back out of the department.

“Whatever” she yelled back, “I’d better get an invite to that wedding Lightwood!”.

He found the grin she had put on his face lasted for a little longer than he expected and he didn’t know if it was catching up with his old friend or if was what she had inferred with her last comment.

Chapter Text

Alec had his hand on the door that led back into the lobby when his cell went off.  He stepped to the side so he wasn’t blocking the doorway and picked up the call.

“Lightwood?” he said, not having the number programmed in.

“Alec, it’s Josh” Youngblood identified himself.

“Hey” Alec replied.

“So, we’ve brought in Meliorn Bellerose” he explained, sounding a little nervous.  “And his record says that he’s a witness in Verlac’s trial?”.

“Yeah” Alec confirmed.  “He found one of the bodies along with Clary Fray”.

Youngblood sighed.  He was a seasoned detective, he knew this arrest could taint him as a reliable witness but, as Clary was also there, Alec wasn’t particularly worried about that.

“We’re going to talk to him now…” the other detective was hesitant.  “He’s… he had yin fen on him.  We had to log it into the system but I think he may be starting to feel the affects of withdrawal…”.

“If it’s the early stages, give him sugar” Alec advised, “That should keep him clear headed enough to answer your questions”.

“Okay” Joshua acknowledged.  “Look, even if we can clear him for any wrong doing in Jocelyn Fray’s disappearance, we’re still going to have to refer him to the drug squad…”.

“I get it” Alec interrupted, not wanting to give away that he knew this already, and certainly not likely to reveal what he had been doing in the meantime.

“Sorry man” he said genuinely.  “In regards to your other request… Bat’s leading a team of forensics through Fray’s loft now, he said he’ll text you when he’s done and you can take her out there”.

“Thanks Josh, for everything” Alec knew he was taking a risk, especially if Clary ended up hurt or Josh’s captain got wind of what he’d allowed.

“Just keep an eye on her” he warned.  “She seems like a pain in the ass, even if it’s cause she cares about her mom”.

Alec couldn’t help but chuckle.  He’d found Clary abrasive and demanding from the minute they had met, and it didn’t help that Jace seemed to drop 70 IQ points the minute he was near her.  But they had developed a closer relationship as time moved one, which had been important to him as Jace clearly loved her.

But for last few hours, she had started to grate on his nerves again and with his head still pounding his patience was at an all time low.

“Will do Josh” he promised.  “Thanks again” and he ended the call.

Alec checked the time and realised it was well into the evening now and he wasn’t likely to get home for dinner with Magnus.  As he knew he has some time now he called his boyfriend, feeling guilty when Magnus picked up immediately as though he had been waiting for his call.

“Darling” he greeted him enthusiastically.

“Hi” Alec breathed out, realising how good it felt just to hear his voice.

“Are you okay?” Magnus immediately noticed and Alec could almost hear the frown in his voice.  “What’s happened?”.

“Their suspect is Meliorn” he revealed and he heard the sharp intake of breath.

“That’s ridiculous Alexander, he wouldn’t hurt a soul” he argued gently.  “The man can’t even swat a fly!”.

“I know” Alec reassured him.  “But when he came in he had yin fen on him…”

“Oh no” whispered, “Clary said she was worried…”.

“Even if he is cleared by missing persons, they’ll refer his case to the drug squad.  I’ve spoken to Gina and she has logged him as one of her CIs.  She’s going to make sure he gets a fine but otherwise he’ll be free to go”.

Magnus was quiet for a moment, before finally saying, “Do I tell you enough that I love you?”.

Alec smiled softy and looked down at his feet, well aware that he was in a busy corridor.  “More than enough” he answered.

“Thank you, for looking out for him.  Prison it… it would have broken him” Magnus said honestly.  “It must have cost you something?”.

“Gina already owed me” he promised, “I just called in the favour”.

“Still, thank you my love” he repeated, his feelings clear in his tone.

“So, hang on to that thought…” Alec was outwardly cringing now.

Magnus sighed, this time sadly, “You’re not going to make it to dinner?”.

“I’m sorry” he said sincerely.  “I want to… I promised Clary I would take her through her mom’s loft and forensics haven’t finished yet.  As well as Clary and Jace needing to be interviewed”.

“I understand, I started cooking so I will put a plate in the refrigerator for you” he promised.  “But please make sure you eat something before now and getting home?”.

Alec lifted his head again and looked at the three large machines, flat against the wall further down the corridor.

“I am looking at vending machines right now” he said as though it meant something.

“I have seen those machines Alexander” Magnus’ voice was thick with disapproval.  “They do not contain food”.

Alec chuckled, “I’ll stop on my way to Jocelyn’s loft”.

“Is that a promise?” he asked.

“I promise”.

“How’s your headache?” the older man changed the topic suddenly.

Alec wasn’t surprised Magnus had guessed his head was still hurting him, considering he hadn’t had any of the rest the doctor had told him to take.

“Manageable” he replied honestly.

“Take some Tylenol Alexander” he instructed.  “I really don’t want you walking through a loft with fire damage unless you’re able to concentrate properly”.

“I will… Izzy has some in her office.  I’ll do a detour now, okay?”.

“Okay, and call if you need me” he told him.

“I love you” Alec told him, not caring about the glances he received because of the smile on his face. He was well aware of his reputation amongst officers he hadn’t worked with.  They probably doubted he was even capable of anything other than a frown.

“You’d better” and he could definitely hear the smile on his boyfriend’s lips.  “I’ll see you later darling”.

Alec hung up and slipped the cell into his pocket then glanced at the vending machines.  He couldn’t deny that Magnus was right, there wasn’t single nutrient in anything sold there.   So instead of wasting his money and before meeting up with Jace and Clary again he did take that promised detour to his sister’s office, knowing full well she would have the pain killers he needed as well as water and, most likely, granola bars that would still be in date.

 

*****

 

When Alec had left them Jace had talked Clary into heading back to the lobby so that they could wait for Youngblood and Bellefleur to call them in for their own interviews.  It didn’t actually take too long as they were first on the list once they had Meliorn processed and before they would be able speak with him as they had to wait for the court appointment lawyer.

The two detectives did the interviews simultaneously though in different rooms, only wanting to know when they had last seen Jocelyn and what they had done.  Jace was out of his interview first, not having seen her for over a week. Clary’s interview took that much longer as Youngblood had asked her the exact questions that Alec had prepared her for.  He’d called Jordan in from forensics to take a copy of her cell phone messages from her mother, as well as her mother’s actual call number, explaining that they hadn’t found hers at the scene.

By the time Clary had re-emerged she looked more frustrated than when she had gone in so Jace, pulling her into a hug, suggested that they should go home and wait there for news.

“I can’t leave Jace” Clary pleaded, big green eyes wide.  “We need to help Meliorn…”.

Jace sighed, “Okay.  We’ll get some coffee from patrol’s canteen, sit down and see what our options are”.

When he released her he took her hand instead and started leading her through the precinct, winding through the corridors until they got to the back section of the ground floor, the whole area reserved for patrol.  There was a section that was for basic vehicle maintenance and repairs, both female and male locker rooms and showers, a small dormitory which held 10 bunks, five briefing rooms and a canteen.

The shifts were changing over so it was actually busy with people coming and going, Jace pausing to greet a number of them along with greetings that included high-fives and fist bumps.  Clary watched his interactions with interest, getting introduced to several officers he was clearly closer with.  She saw the ease with which people spoke to him, the obvious pleasure in people’s eyes when they saw him.  He was clearly a popular member of the force and she wondered why he wanted to move out of patrol to be a detective.

When they finally reached the canteen Clary took a seat at a table for four and waited while Jace went to get them some coffee, coming back with some sandwiches as well.

For a moment they ate and drank in silence, Clary going over what had happened in her mind and finding hard to believe this wasn’t all a dream… or a nightmare.

Her father was Valentine Morgenstern.

He had likely taken her mother.

'Does he want me too?’ she thought.  ‘Does he even know about me?’ she wondered as she remembered Luke telling her Jocelyn had left Valentine when she found out she was pregnant.

Then she had a different, more terrifying thought.

Jace must have seen something in her face as he put his coffee cup down and looked at her worriedly.  “Clary, are you okay?” he asked.

“Jonathan Morgenstern…” she whispered as she looked at him with wide eyes.

“He’s dead Clary” he reassured as he reached across the table and put his hand over hers.  “Remember, Verlac killed him”.

She nodded, swallowing hard as her mouth had gone dry.  “But who was his mom?”.

Jace suddenly realised what she was thinking.  He opened his mouth to reply when suddenly his cell went off.  Fishing it out of his jacket pocket he didn’t recognise the number so he answered it quickly, keeping a firm hold of his girlfriends hand.

“Wayland” he announced himself.

“Officer Wayland…” the voice was slightly familiar.  “It’s Josh Youngblood…”.

“Oh hey Josh” he said his name deliberately so Clary would know who was calling.

“Look, we’re done with Meliorn” he told him.  “We had to refer the drug evidence to the drug squad but… fuck knows how… they cited him a fine and he’s free to go.  They’re processing him out now so you can meet him in the lobby if you want to”.

“Shit” his eyebrows shot up in surprise but the smile on his face told Clary it was good news.  “Thanks man!”.

“I didn’t do anything” he said.  “I’d have put bets on him being back in Wrangle Island by lunchtime tomorrow”.

“Well, thanks for letting us know” he said instead.

“Take care” Josh told him just before ending the call.

“What?” Clary asked immediately.

Jace shook his head in happy disbelief.  “Meliorn is free to go, they’re processing him now.  We can meet him in the lobby”.

“Oh my god” she laughed happily, “That’s great, come on!”.

They both jumped up and headed quickly for the door, the remainder of their sandwiches and coffees forgotten in the haste to get to their friend.

 

*****

 

With a couple of granola bars inside of him and sipping from the bottle of water he had stolen to take two Tylenol, Alec jogged up the stairs to the first floor, having gotten a text from Jace explaining that Meliorn was being released and they were meeting him there.

He was at the halfway point when his cell went off again and he stopped to answer it. 

“Lightwood”

“Alec, it’s Bat” he introduced himself.

“I know Bat” he smiled, “I have your number programmed”.

“Ah, yeah” he sounded a little embarrassed.  “Well, we’re just wrapping up here.  The place is… less safe than we thought but the fire captain talked me though the secure areas.  I’m going to hang on here and wait for you, but you can bring Clary over when you’re ready”.

“Thanks Bat, I’m gonna get her and come over now so you’re not waiting around” he explained, back on the move again and jogging up the final set of stairs.

“See you soon” he said before hanging up.

Alec came through the doorway onto the ground floor and, taking a few corridors he pushed out into the lobby, immediately seeing Clary wrapped around Meliorn who looked a little worse for wear and as he neared the pair he saw it was worse than his first thoughts.  Meliorn was sweating and visibly shaking, clearly coming down hard.

Clary pulled back when she heard footsteps and turned to Alec.

“They let him off!” she told Alec, a grin on her face.  “Isn’t it great?”.

Alec smiled, “Yeah” he responded then immediately turned his attention to Clary’s friend.  “How you doing Meliorn?”.

“I’m okay…” he managed to get out even with his trembling jaw.  “They thought I’d given someone the code but… I had it written on a piece of paper in my wallet but I got mugged a few days ago…” he looked guiltily at Clary.  “I was making a buy and…”.

She rubbed her hands up and down his arms.  “It’s okay Meliorn, this wasn’t your fault”.

“Did you report the mugging?” Alec asked, his brow creased as his mind processed what he was saying.

“Alec…” Clary glared at him.

“It’s okay” Meliorn defended the detective.  “No, I didn’t want anyone to know where I was there…”.

“Where were you?” he asked.

“Hell Ruelle” he whispered, clearly ashamed.

Alec nodded, knowing he had some contacts there and he could ask around.

“Leave him alone Alec” Clary insisted firmly.  “They’ve cleared him of any wrong doing, just because you don’t believe him…”.

“That’s not what I meant” he defended himself.  He was in no way accusing Meliorn of lying, he wanted to follow up on the mugging to see if anyone saw it and could identify the person who did it.

“Look, can we not argue” Jace jumped in.  “We’re all tired and… now Meliorn is going to be alright let’s all go home…”.

“Well first…” Alec interrupted him, “I need a word with him.  In private”.

Clary bristled immediately.  “He doesn’t need a lecture right now Alec…”.

Alec ignored her and took a gentle hold of Meliorn’s arm, leading him over to the corner of the reception desk which, because of the hour, was relatively quiet.

He pulled the $20 and the receipt out of his pocket.  “I have a friend in the drug squad.  She logged you as a CI and this is your payment…” he saw the look of fear on Meliorn’s face.  “It’s okay, she’s not expecting you to actually be a CI.  You need to fill out the receipt so she can claim it, that way her decision to release you with a fine will make sense…”.

Meliorn wiped his wet nose on his sleeve and shuffled his feet.  “You did this?”.

“It’s between you and me” Alec said, his voice firm.  “Do you understand?  I don’t want to risk trouble for my friend…”.

He nodded enthusiastically.  “I get it… thanks man”.

Alec watched as, with a shaking hand and a pen borrowed from the receptionist, he filled out the receip and slipped the $20 into his pocket.  Alec sent a photo of the receipt to Gina and then walked Meliorn back to a glaring Clary.

“Meliorn needs to go to the hospital, not home” he said, still annoyed and it was clear in his voice. 

“I’ll be fine” the man said quietly, his voice unsteady.

“You’re not Meliorn” he said kindly.  “And you’re only going to get worse over the next 12 hours.  You need to be under medical care”.

Clary looked at her friend and knew that Alec was right.  She also knew that Meliorn would need rehab again.  The hospital would be able to care for him while he got the drugs out of his system and then they could refer him into a program.

“He’s right Mel” she agreed.  “You need to go.  I can come with you…”.

“No you can’t” Alec said, “Bat called, we need to meet him at your mom’s loft so you can take a look”.

She looked torn between wanting to check her old home but also wanting to support her friend.  “Can we go to the loft after we get Meliorn admitted?”.

Alec shook his head.  “We don’t know how long that will take and Bat is waiting for us.  It’s not fair to leave him there all night when he’s doing you a favour”.  He emphasised the ‘you’, trying to get Clary to consider the other people affected by her demands.

“I’ll take Meliorn to the hospital” Jace said.  “Get him checked in and ask about a program…”.

“You’ll text me right?” Clary asked, “I need to know he’s okay?”.

Jace nodded, giving her a chaste kiss, “Sure…” then he turned to Meliorn.  “Come on, we’ll get a cab.  You going to be okay?”.  The last thing Jace wanted was a bill because Meliorn had thrown up in the back of a cab.

But the man nodded, although pale and sweaty, looking determined to make it.

Jace turned to his brother next, “Take car of her” he asked in earnest.

“I will” he agreed.  “I’ll drop her home afterwards”.

The blonde hugged his brother briefly, before taking Meliorn’s arm and guiding him out the front of the precinct.

Clary watched after them until they were out of sight, then turned to Alec.

“Okay, let’s go” and she strode off towards the elevators that they had used to come up from the parking lot. 

Alec couldn’t resist an eyeroll, then followed close behind her.  He was going to have to escort her through the loft that had been made dangerous from fire damage.  He just hoped her inability to do as he asked wasn’t going to get either of them hurt… or worse.

 

*****

 

Bloodowl pulled up to the sidewalk and switched off the engine.  He had chosen the street that gave them a view of the forensics van, though they could also see the main door into the building. 

It looked as though the fire and rescue crew were packing up, and judging by the lack of smoke coming from the smashed windows in the loft, the fire was out.  Which meant forensics were in and they’d arrived back in time to see what they discovered.

“How the hell are we going to do this?” Silverbrook complained.  “It’s not like we can stroll up there and say ‘hey guys, what ’cha find?’”.

Bloodowl smirked, then twisted in his seat to reach the equipment bag he had slung in the back seat before they left Valentine.  “Don’t worry, I have just the thing…”.

Silverbrook watched as he unzipped the bag and drew out a black, wand shaped devise. 

“What the fuck is that?” he asked with a frown.

“This…” Bloodowl said proudly, “Is the Rode NTG5.  It has a directional mic, accurate up to one mile, compatible with the I-phone and has superior performance in adverse environments” he finished with a grin.

Silverbrook stared at him.

“We’re gonna record the conversations that forensics have with anyone and see what they say.  These guys always talk at the scene cause the detectives never want to wait for the formal report” he explained.

“That doesn’t guarantee that we’re gonna hear what we want to” he pointed out.

“I know” he agreed, “But we’ll start with this.  If we don’t find out what we need, I know a computer guy that should be able to hack into forensics”.

Silverbrook rolled his eyes, “Why aren’t we just grabbing the forensics guy”.

“Because…” Bloodowl’s tone suggested he was working with a moron, “…we don’t want to be identified…” he saw a look in his partner’s eyes, quickly adding, “…and we don’t need another body to get rid of”.

Silverbrook sighed, “Fine, we’ll see what this turns up”.

Bloodowl set up the mic, connecting it to the battery pack he also drew out of his equipment bag, then hooking it up to his cell and instantly voices flooded through the speaker.  He hit record on the voice memos APP then smirked at Silverbrook.

He rolled his eyes, “Nerd”.

Bloodowl laughed, “You know that’s not actually an insult, right?”.

 

*****

 

Bat pulled down the tape that was covering the front door, a roll already in his pocket so he could replace it once they were gone, then he unlocked the padlock that had been added to secure the door after the fire department had broken in.

Pushing open the now rickety door he stepped inside and held it open so that Alec and Clary could join him, before then pushing it closed.

“Okay” he said, dropping the padlock into his other pocket.  “Stick to the centre of the loft, the fire crept along the walls so the floors are weaker there.  They reported that the fire started in the main bedroom…”.

“Wait, that was my room” Clary said.  “Why would they want to burn my things?”.

Bat glanced at Alec.  “We thought it was your mom’s room, being the master?”.

Clary shook her head.  “She gave me the larger room so I could use half of it as my studio” she explained, “She had the dinning area for hers”.

“Did the detectives ask you about that?” Alec asked her as he peered as far into the loft as his flashlight allowed.

“No” she replied, digging into her purse and pulling out a small flashlight of her own.  Alec threw her a look and she shrugged, “What? Jace says I should be prepared”.

Alec have his lopsided smile, “Glad he’s rubbing off on you.  But please tell me you do not have a gun in there?”.

“God no” she grinned at him.  “I don’t think someone of my temperament should have a gun”.

“Can’t argue with that” he teased back.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Clary asked, “How are we going to let the detective know when we aren’t supposed to be here?”.

“I’ll tell Youngblood” Alec informed her.  “But, was it still all of your things?  Could your mom have been using it for herself since you moved in with Jace?”.

“Maybe” she said, though she didn’t sound wholly confident.  “But I left a lot here cause there isn’t a good place to use as a studio at home”.

Alec sighed, “Okay.  Bat, after you”.

Bat used his own flashlight and took them through the loft slowly, insisting they stepped where he did and nowhere else.  To Alec’s relief Clary seemed to understand the importance and did as she was told, though when they got to the bedrooms at the back she did push to have a look in her old room. 

Bat told her emphatically no.  The fire had started there so it was the area with the most damage and was not safe to enter.  Alec had tested the floor leading up to the doorway though and when he was satisfied it would hold his weight, he allowed her to peer in while he had a tight rip on her hand just in case.

When they had fallen back to stronger flooring he asked if she had seen anything obvious, but he could tell by the sadness in her eyes that nothing seemed to stand out and she was overwhelmed by the damage to her mom’s home.

She took another looked as they made their way back to the front door, but still nothing jumped out and they left the loft, Bat sealing it up again behind them.

Back on the sidewalk he couldn’t resist pulling his brother’s girlfriend into a gentle hug, understanding how traumatic this had been for her and, for the first time among all the victims he had dealt with in similar pain, it was appropriate for him to offer this level of comfort.

She drew away slowly, hiding the quick wipe of her eyes to get rid of the tears.

“Thank you Alec,” she said quietly.  “For helping me…” she looked at the forensics officer, “…and you Bat”.

The young man smiled sadly at her, “No problems.  I’m sorry about your mom Clary, I hope they find her quickly”.

Clary sniffed, though it could easily have been the cold air irritating her nasal passage.  “Me too” she agreed.

Alec sighed, taking pity on her.  He turned to Bat, “Look, I know this isn’t our case, but did you get anything of significance from the scene… anything at all that might lead to identifying who was responsible?”.

Bat glanced at Clary, clearly reluctant to speak in front of a civilian.

“Clary, can you wait by the car?” he asked.

“No, I need to hear…” she started to argue.

“Go and wait by the car” he said firmly.  “I will be right there” and he gave her a pointed glare, eyes wide, trying to communicate silently that he would update her when they were done.

She looked between the two men, seeming to get the point and, hiking her satchel up on her shoulder she wandered away from them.

“I know you’re just going to tell her” Bat pointed out with some amusement.

“Yeah” he rubbed the back of his neck.  “She doesn’t make subterfuge easy.  And if I tell her, you’re not risking anything”.

“We’ve barely got anything.  They must have worn gloves to get in, no prints anywhere.  And the fire likely destroyed anything else.  Surfaces covered in soot and water… forensically, we have nothing”.

The detective sighed, “Okay, thanks Bat”.

Bat gave Alec a thin lipped smile and a friendly pat to the shoulder then said his goodbyes, heading to the red Beetle that was parked further down the street.

“Come on Fray” Alec said, pulling the car keys from his pocket.  “We need to get you home”.

She nodded and moved over to the car, getting in quickly once Alec had unlocked it.  By the time Alec had walked around and jumped into the drivers seat she had pulled out her cell and was checking her messages.

“Jace text, Meliorn managed to get the last bed in an inpatient rehab program” she informed him.  “He’s going tomorrow once the initial detox has been done at the hospital”.

“Is Jace still there?” Alec asked, not sure if he wanted to drop her home and leave her there alone.

But she shook her head, “He said he wasn’t allowed to stay, something about it being important that addicts take the first steps themselves to show their commitment.  He’s already home”.

Alec started the engine, “Home it is then…”.  But as he was about to put the car into drive his cell went off and, glancing at the caller ID, it was Luke.

He picked up the call.

“Hey Luke, is Max okay?”.

“Max is fine Alec” Luke said, easing his worries immediately.  “Look, I know I put you and Jace on compassionate leave but… we’ve got a body out on the docks and it needs to go to your team.  Problem is Jace is helping a friend at the hospital, Lydia has this evening off for a date and…”.

“You can’t send Andrew alone” he finished.

“I’m sure Lydia will cover if I call her…”

“No” Alec interrupted quickly.  “I didn’t want the leave anyway and… she deserves the time.  Send me the details, I need to drop Clary home first and then I’ll meet Andrew there”.

“Thanks Alec” Luke said before hanging up.

He put his cell away and then caught Clary’s look.

“What?” he asked.

“Should you really be working?” she pointed out.  “Head injury”.

He gave a bemused chuckle, “Says the girl who insisted on looking around a crime scene”.

“Hey” she held up both her hands, palms facing him, “I was happy to go alone…”.

“Yeah” he said sarcastically, “Like that was going to happen.  Seat belt” he told her.

She rolled her eyes but  put it on as Alec pulled away, both oblivious to the additional pictures that had been taken of them all.

Chapter Text

She unclipped the seatbelt and flipped down the sun visor, checking her makeup.  She didn’t actually see any patrol officers guarding the scene and her contact in the NYPD had told her they had sealed the loft once forensics had done their sweep.  But that didn’t mean she shouldn’t be prepared to flirt her way out of a tricky situation.

Charlie frowned at her from the drivers seat.  “Why are you so interested in this anyway.  From what we understand it’s just a house fire, no bodies…”.

“That gallery…” she pointed at the building, “…is owned by Magnus Bane.  It’s run by Jocelyn Fray and her daughter, who happens to be dating Jace Wayland”.

His frown deepened, “So?”.

“Jace Wayland is the adopted brother of Alexander Lightwood…”.

He mouthed a silent ‘Oh’, “Magnus’ boyfriend”.

“His current squeeze” she corrected snottily.  “He’ll be bored soon enough, especially with the amount of trouble he comes with”.

“What do you mean?” he asked. 

She looked at him in disbelief, “Are you serious?  How are you a reporter?”.

“I worked the stories I was given, this is the first job I’ve had where I’ve been able to find and follow up on the stories I pick myself” he replied, somewhat coolly.

“’We’ pick” she corrected.  “Alec Lightwood was the detective in charge of the investigation that caught Valentine the first time around.  And because of that he was targeted by the son, who turned out to be equally as nuts and nearly killed him”.

Charlie swore softly.

“That’s not all” she continued.  “Earlier this year, a new team member turned out to be a serial killer, obsessed with Lightwood and abducted his little brother”.

Charlie stared at her in disbelief, eyes wide and brows down.

“See” she gave him a smile that was cold enough to send a chill down his spine.  “More trouble than he’s worth”.

He watched her for a moment, “I still don’t get why you’re so interested?”.

He didn’t get an answer because at that moment three individuals came out of the door leading to the main stairs and elevator for the building.

“Get the camera!” she demanded, slapping Charlie’s arm with the back of her hand.

He moved without question, realising from her reaction that this might be something good.  He’d already had the long range lens attached and, holding the digital camera up, he started snapping shots of the three talking, then making their way into the building.

As he did his work Camille was back on her phone, scrolling through Instagram, running through the people she was following through her pseudo account.

“Hah!” she exclaimed, holding her cell up so Charlie, who paused for a moment, the woman having dropped behind a white Porsche Macan while the two men talked.

He squinted at the picture, but he could clearly see the young red head draped over a blonde man, both grinning at the camera.

“That…” Camille said, locking her phone again.  “Is Alec Lightwood and Clary Fray, coming out of a building that has been sealed by the police department”.

Charlie looked back at the building, “What the hell is going on?”.

“I don’t know” she answered smugly.  “But I think we should find out”.

 

*****

 

Silverbrook looked at Bloodowl and huffed his disbelief.  “I cannot believe that worked” he muttered as he watched the forensics officer head over to his car, and the detective join the red head by the Porsche.  He looked at his partner but he was focused on his cell, flicking through the pictures they had been sent by Valentine.

Suddenly he stopped and held the cell up so Silverbrook could look at the image, a picture of Jocelyn Fray with a younger version of herself, red hair more of a honey tone but they were clearly related.

“That was the daughter” Silverbrook said unnecessarily.

Bloodowl nodded, “With Alec Lightwood”.

“Great” he groaned.  “We can’t have a cross over in our jobs, I’m pretty sure neither Morgenstern or Fade would think twice about killing us if we fuck either of these jobs up”.

“So we get rid of one” Bloodowl said.

“How?” Silverbrook looked at him with doubt.

“Valentine wanted us to make sure we hadn’t left any evidence behind” Bloodowl explained.  “We can call him and tell him we didn’t, we even have proof if he wants it.  And we tell him that his daughter is with Alec Lightwood…”.

“You’re kidding right?” Silverbrook explained.  “That’s a sure fire way to get our jobs to crossover”.

“No, he doesn’t want Lightwood.  He’s wants his daughter and if we give him a lead on her…”

Silverbrook was nodding.  “Maybe he’ll go after her”.

“Which is a new job that he’d have to hire us for through the agent” Bloodowl smiled.  “And we can say no”.

“Okay” his partner agreed.  “Call him”.

Bloodowl flicked through his contacts and made the call, waiting patiently for it to be picked up.  He had started to think it was going to go straight to voicemail but eventually it connected.

“Who said you could call me?” Valentine practically snarled down the phone.

“We’re calling to advise there were no forensics left behind, confirmation directly from the forensics officer in charge” Bloodowl told him, voice calm.  “Jobs done, we’re closing the contract”.

“I still don’t know why you’re calling?” he said impatiently.

“We’ve just seen Jocelyn’s daughter leaving the loft with Alexander Lightwood” he informed him.

There was silence for a long moment, all he could hear was Valentine’s breaths as he mulled over the information he had been given.

“You’re sure it was her?” he finally asked.

“Positive, confirmed it against one of the pictures you sent me” he replied.

“Okay…” he gave a chuckle but it was empty of any emotion.  “I’m due a conversation with Alec soon… I’ll see what he has to say about my daughter”.

Bloodowl pulled his cell from his ear when Valentine hung up without another word and looked at his partner.

“Are we good?” Silverbrook asked.

Bloodowl nodded, “We’re good”.

“Thank fuck for that” he sighed.

 

*****

 

Alec dropped Clary curb side but watched her as she went into the building, the door secure behind her, already dialling his brother’s cell.

“Alec?” Jace sounded worried.

“Hey, I’ve just dropped Clary off…” he peered in through the glass doors.  “She’s just stepping into the elevator now”.

His younger brother sighed, “Thanks buddy.  Is she okay?”.

“About as okay as you’d expect” he replied, seeing Clary alone in the elevator as the doors slid shut.

He could hear rustling, a door opening, and he guessed Jace was heading to the elevator to meet her on their floor.

“What does your gut say?” the blonde asked, knowing his brother’s instincts had always been better than his, it’s what had made him a good cop.

Alec paused for a moment, took a breath.  “Knowing what we know now… about her ex.  I think she’s in trouble”.

“Yeah” Jace agreed quietly.

“But we cannot interfere Jace” Alec said, his voice serious.  “All we’ll do it make things worse and you know as well as I do how unpredictable Valentine can be.  He must be pissed Jocelyn hid Clary from him”.

“Do you think she’s in danger?” he asked, worry clear in his tone.

Alec paused again, choosing his words carefully.   “I think she could be, keep an eye on her.  The gallery is going to closed so she’ll be at a loose end…”.

“I could ask for more time off…” he suggested, “Keep an eye on her”.

Alec rolled his eye, “It might be a good idea… unless you can convince Youngblood or Bellefluer to allocate protection”.

“You think it’s worth talking to them?” he asked and Alec heard the ‘ding’ as the elevator arrived.

“It’s worth the conversation, knowing Valentine” he said, hearing Clary in the background and Jace whispering that it was Alec.

“Okay” he said, “She’s here…”.

“Have a good evening and Jace…” he faltered for a moment, letting himself feel his own worry.  “…be careful”.

“Sure” he replied before hanging up and Alec realised how worried his brother really was because he didn’t give his usual cocky response.

He gave a heavy sigh and before putting his cell away he opened the email Luke had sent him, focusing on the address first, knowing he could get an update once he got to the scene.  It turned out to be a small port in the New York harbor so Alec didn’t bother using his map APP for directions, already knowing the way.

It was a long drive, with typical New York traffic which was made worse by a number of roadworks on his journey.  But he finally pulled into the parking lot for the port that Luke had given him, finding a free space and then securing the car before heading for the blue and red flashing lights for the second time that day.

It wasn’t a long walk and, after checking in at the perimeter control point and being issued his forensics pack, he dressed in the protective gear quickly then set about finding Andrew.

The scene was being well controlled, uniform were watching the various entrances into the crime scene to keep away prying eyes as well as reporters.  As he walked towards to dock, lit up with the floodlamps already there as well as additional lamps that must have been set up by forensics, he felt the wetness in the air, the spray coming off the water with the wind that always blew harder down by the water.  He shivered, and made a mental note to start using his winter coat again as his lighter jackets just weren’t enough anymore.

The long dock went some 500yrds out into the harbor and then spread out into an L-shaped platform which curved around two cranes.  Next to the L-shaped platform there was a smaller square platform again, connected by a thin bridge, clearly for pedestrian access as it was only one-person wide.  He could see several officers on that platform, which was connected to the land by another dock, holding back curious dock workers.

The L-shaped section had roughly nine containers, eight stacked two high and one on its own.  They were of varying colours and at different stages of oxidisation, some with a number of large patches of rust beneath peeling paint.

He neared the end of the dock and had to show his ID and sign in again in order to step onto the platform, from there he was directed by uniform around the last of the containers stacked two high.  The single one had been set a little further back than the others, creating a little cubby between the side of the two high ones and the end of the single. 

And that was where the forensic tent had been set up to protect the body from the elements.  It was also where Andrew was stood, talking with Simon, both in full forensic gear as well.

“Hey” he announced his arrival, keeping his voice low as an automatic sign of respect even though it was highly unlikely any of the workers would be able to hear them over the noise of the wind, the waters below and the rhythmic clanking from the platforms and cranes as they swayed with the tide.

“Alec…” Andrew’s blue eyes met his and he saw the empathy there.  “You up for this?”.

“Yeah” he reassured.

“Okay” the man said, all business again.  Alec smiled behind his mask, grateful that his team at least took him at his word. 

“I haven’t read the file, take me through it” he asked.

“We have a female, early to mid thirties, victim of a stabbing” Andrew was reading from his notes.  “She was discovered by one of the dock workers, he’s on his way to the hospital…”  Andrew caught Alec’s raised eyebrow, “Came as quite a shock, not surprising really, she’s a hell of a mess.  He stumbled off the platform but luckily didn’t hurt himself much more than bumps and bruises.  Pulled himself out of the drink and called it in”.

Alec cringed, knowing exactly what an unexpected dunk in the water felt like. 

“Nath is in there now” Simon advised, bringing himself to Alec’s attention.

“Surely they haven’t called you in already?” he said, concern for his sister, home alone with their baby.

“No” Simon replied, “I volunteered.  Izzy felt I was hovering too much, so she said I could either get out of the house and go to work, or get thrown out and go to the hospital”.

Alec nodded with understanding, “Wise choice” he praised his brother-in-law.  “Have you been in there yet?” he asked the forensic specialist, nodding his head at the tent.

Simon nodded back, “Yes, it’s… bloody”.

Alec turned back to Andrew.  “Do we have an ID yet?”.

Andrew shook his head, “Looks like there’s a purse but it’s caught under the body at the moment.  Simon’s going to go in for it once Nath says the body can be moved”.

“Okay” Alec took a calming breath and then started towards the tent flaps, pushing through carefully so not to accidently disturb any of the scene.

The woman was slumped with her head and neck against the single contained, one leg stretched out, the other bent at the knee and tucked beneath the other, both arms straight at her sides.  She wore a pink skirt suit with a white blouse beneath.  Her flesh coloured pantyhose gave her pale skin a light tan but they were torn and speckled with blood spray.  Her nude pumps had been recently scuffed up and one laid several feet from her body.  A bloody mess was an accurate description, a plume of blood had spread across the ground beneath her.

He ran his eyes over her hands, her nails impeccable and he noticed an expensive watch on her wrist as well as several rings on her wedding finger.  He crouched down, conscious of not getting in the Nath’s way, to study her face which, beneath the bloody stains, had artfully applied makeup and her hair was clearly well maintained with highlights giving her light brown hair a honey accent.

Having taken in her appearance he doubted she was a sex worker, but he delayed his judgement, not wanting to cross off any potential leads because of an incorrect assumption.  He stood up again and ran his eyes over her wounds, which were numerous.

“Nath…” he asked softly, “Anything preliminary for me?”.

Nath looked up at him and sighed.  “Stab wound into the armpit, likely the cause of death, it’s gone straight into her heart”.

Alec frowned, “So what’s with the blood all over her stomach?”.

“That, is five additional stab wounds into her lower abdomen” Nath explained.  “I can’t tell here exactly what was inflicted first and which were pre or post mortem.  I can tell you there was some force behind the strikes, the hilt of the knife has bruised the skin around some of the injuries”.

“So someone was pissed” Alec muttered.  “But a stab wound under the arm pit… that’s not your heat of the moment wound.  That’s more like someone who knows how to kill”.

The M.E. stood, picking their equipment bag up at the same time.  “I’ve done everything I can here, I’ll have more for you after the autopsy which I have booked for early afternoon tomorrow” they advised, then looked back down at the victim.  “If you call Simon in I’ll help him get the purse from behind her and you can take a look for the ID”.

“Thanks Nath” he said then headed back out of the tent, waving Simon over.

“Nath’s gonna help you move the body so you can get the purse out.  Hopefully there’ll be some ID in there” Alec explained.

“Okay” Simon replied and passed the detective so he could join the M.E. in the tent.

Andrew came to stand beside his lead detective again.  “What do you want to do?”.

Alec looked around them, ignoring the darkness over the water and focusing on the docks around them.  The workers milling around now they had no access to their work stations, the buildings surrounding them back on land that housed the business that brought goods into New York.

“There’s no way we can take a picture of her to show around, we don’t need to traumatise anymore workers” Alec mused aloud.  “But we can see if there is ID and show that picture around, if there is no ID we’ll ask around using a verbal description”.

“That’s if she is even supposed to be here” Andrew pointed out.

Alec shrugged, “Gotta start somewhere”.

Andrew followed his gaze, absorbing the vastness of their search area.

“You ever get the feeling you’re about to have a long night?” the blonde said.

Alec let out a resigned sigh, “All the time”.

 

*****

 

Alec closed the door quietly behind him and took a moment to lean his back against it.  Letting his eyes fall shut he breathed in the mixed scents of home hoping it would help him unwind and shake some of the tension from his muscles before he had to face Magnus.

It was gone midnight and he’d wanted to be home at a reasonable time so they could have dinner and an early night.  They needed to be in court all day and even though his boyfriend had told him he didn’t need to accompany him, there was no way he was letting Magnus go to court without his support.

As he rested against their front door he took in the loft which was dark and quiet.  The hallway lamps had been left on but everything else was off.  He was so tired that it would have been easy to retire to their bedroom straight away, but he had to do the security checks, now more than ever.

So he made sure the front door was locked and he forced his feet into action, heading to the cast iron staircase that led to the upper level.  It took him 30 minutes to go through that floor and check the doors and windows before he headed back down the stairs and went through the same checks.

Satisfied that everything was closed and locked, he returned to the front door and set the alarm before he headed to Magnus’ office, which now also had a small desk off to the side that he could use when he was working from home.

They hadn’t found an ID in the women’s purse, it had been cleared out, likely by the person who had killed her.  So they had sent out a message to all of the officers working the scene with as good a description as they could get, which included a raised mole on the back of her neck which Nath had found when they and Simon had turned her to get the purse.

With the information out, Alec and Andrew had also set about canvassing, focussing on the businesses that were open at that time but no one seemed to have any idea who she was.

He’d eventually left the scene, sending Andrew home as well when the victim had been removed to the morgue, both forensics and the M.E. had all left and the shift change for patrol happened, their sergeant in charge taking control of the canvassing.

Alec wanted to log in to see if their continued work had led to anything as yet, but the main update he was hoping for was from missing persons.  He’d sent them a description to ask them to match it with the reports that had come in.  He knew it was a longshot that he would have heard back as yet, it had only been just over an hour to get home, but he wouldn’t sleep unless he checked.

He was right, he hadn’t heard back yet and there were no new leads from the canvassing.  So he shut down his laptop and felt that he could finally head to bed. 

When he reach the bedroom he found he door had been left ajar and he just needed to slide it a few more inches so he could slip through sideways and then he closed it softly, trying to make as little noise as possible.

The light was low, the single lamp on the bedside table still on, and Magnus was laid on his side in bed, quilt settled around his waist, his torso bare, both arms outstretched towards the centre of the bed, one resting over his tablet.  Judging from the slow rise and fall of his chest and the quiet breaths the only sound in the room, Alec could tell that he was fast asleep even though he had clearly been trying to wait up.

Alec tugged off his boots and then crept over to the closet, setting them quietly down on the carpeted floor before stripping down to his boxer-briefs and returning to his boyfriends side.  He looked down at Magnus, his hair soft and loose, face free of makeup and it brought a smile to his lips and some of the tightness in his chest eased.

Reaching over he carefully slid the tablet from under his hand, the movement reactivating the screen and Alec let out a soft snort at the new wallpaper.  It was a picture of him from their vacation and he remembered the day clearly.  They’d spent the morning at the fish markets and come back to the beach house where they had taken a swim in the ocean then laid out on the sun loungers to dry.

Alec had fallen asleep, one hand pressed to his lower belly, fingers splayed, the tips tucked into the waist band of his boardshorts, the other arm bent up over his head.  Magnus must have taken a picture of him when he had just dropped off because his hair was still wet, and there were droplets of water on his skin.  Shaking his head, a soft smile on his lips, he turned off the screen and set the tablet on the bedside table then switched off the lap.

After a speedy and practically silent visit to the bathroom, he crept around the bed and gently pulled back the quilt from his side then slipped beneath the covers, trying to disturb the mattress as little as possible.

He failed miserably.

“Alec?” Magnus murmured as he lifted his head slightly from the pillow and peered into the darkness through half closed eyes.

“Yeah” Alec whispered back then shuffled closer, into the arms that were already reaching for him.  “Go back to sleep”.

“What time is it?” the older man asked, dropping his head back to the pillow, eyes closed again, as he felt Alec lean his head on his lower arm and he rested his upper arm over his younger boyfriends waist.

“Late” he answered vaguely.

“Humm” Magnus mumbled, Alec so close he could feel his breath against his cheek.  “Late… or early?” he asked.

Alec smiled, even though his boyfriend wasn’t actually looking at him.  “Early-ish”.

“You’re avoiding the inevitable Alexander” he warned without heat.

This time he laughed softly and reached out with a hand, sliding it around his boyfriends neck and letting his thumb brush over his cheek.

“Sleep” Alec ordered again.

“How did it go with Clary?” he asked, ignoring Alec’s demand but not making any attempt to move or open his eyes.

“Magnus, sleep” he said again, this time pressing a kiss to his lips.

“You can’t have been with her all this time…” another kiss cut off what he was about to ask and when Alec pulled back he was smiling.  “Okay, sleep” and he sighed, somewhat content now that Alec was home.

Alec took in a deep, steadying breath, then turned in Magnus’ arms so that his back was to the older man’s chest.

When Magnus realised what he had done he did lift his head up, suddenly awake, so he could look over his boyfriend’s shoulder, studying his face carefully.  “Are you sure you’re okay like this?” he asked quietly.

Alec swallowed the lump in his throat and pushed away the memories from his dreams.  The problem was, despite being the taller of the two, taking up the position of ‘little spoon’ at night had always made him feel safe and relaxed.  Magnus’ arms were the one place where he could be sure he would have a restful nights sleep.  And he refused to let the confusion in his mind, dragged up by the case, ruin that for him.  For them.

“Yes” he whispered back and as soon as the word was out of his mouth Magnus’ arm had pulled him tighter against him, his hand sliding up to come to rest on his chest, feeling the soft hair there and taking a moment to run his fingertips over it.

Alec closed his eyes at the same time as Magnus pressed a kiss to his bare shoulder, then settled his own head back on the pillow, both of them all too aware that tomorrow was going to be another stressful day.

Chapter Text

Ragnor smiled at his friend, “Thank you Magnus…”, then he turned to Pangborn, “Your witness”.

Before even acknowledging Pangborn, Magnus took a glance into the audience to check on Alec.  He was sat between Isabelle and Simon, who had both already testified, and Simon was currently doing an excellent job of blocking the line of sight between his boyfriend and Sebastian.

Magnus hadn’t wanted Alec to come but he had insisted.  He understood why, he wanted to be a support in the same way that Magnus had been.  But the difference was that Magnus had no qualms about facing Sebastian while the sight of the man by Alec risked further night terrors.

But Alec was adamant and, well, there wasn’t much Magnus wouldn’t grant the younger man, so he had acquiesced.  They had arrived in the early morning, finding out that Ragnor would be calling Izzy and Simon first so they had camped out in Ragnor’s prep room together. 

Magnus knew exactly why Ragnor had done it this way.  If Magnus had testified first Alec would have been forced to sit in the audience alone.  With this order, because Izzy and Simon had already testified, they could sit with him and act as the buffer he needed. 

And it had been needed as Sebastian had been trying to catch glimpses of Alec throughout Magnus’ testimony.  It was grating on his nerves but he was keeping his emotions in check, not prepared to risk a mistrial even if he did want to rip the man’s head off.

“Magnus…” Pangborn was suddenly in front of him, drawing his attention back.

“Mr Bane”, he corrected calmly, dispassionate eyes fixing on the other lawyer.

Pangborn sucked his teeth for a moment, then dipped his head in an accepting motion.  “Mr Bane…” he smiled, “…that was quite a detailed account of your work on the case”.

“I do detailed work”, he replied.

“Humm” he stuffed his hands in his pant pockets.  “There are just a few more… details… I want to clear up”.

Magnus waited quietly.

“How long had you been working with Detective Lightwood before you starting sleeping with him?”.

“OBJECTION!” Ragnor shouted as he jumped to his feet.  “Relevance!”.

“Well…” Pangborn played up his innocence.  “We’ve heard all this testimony about the detective’s good character… I have the right to continue to investigate that”.

The Judge nodded, “Overruled”.

Pangborn turned back to Magnus.  “So?  How long before your relationship turned sexual in nature?”.

Magnus took a calming breath, furious at having to answer.  His eyes found Alec’s and he could see the concern in them, the deep blush of embarrassment at having his sex life discussed in public.  He watched as Izzy took hold of her brother’s hand and squeezed it, while Simon was sending his most ferocious glare to the back of Pangborn’s head, bless him.

Magnus turned his eyes back to Sebastian’s lawyer, “Ten days”.

The man’s eyebrows shot up, “Wow, that’s fast!”.

He knew what Pangborn was trying to imply, his eyes narrowed and he smiled thinly, “Not in my past experience” and he ignored the soft chuckle that went through the court, including some of the jury members.

The lawyer’s eyes twitched, a small tell of the irritation he was feeling.  “Of course, you aren’t the first colleague that Detective Lightwood has jumped into bed with…”.

“OBJECTION!” Ragnor jumped up again, “Outside of the witnesses scope”.

“Sustained” the Judge agreed without a pause.

Pangborn paused, thinking about where he could go with his questioning.  “We have heard testimony from a number of witnesses in this case.  Including from your long-term partner, Camille Belcourt”.

“No” Magnus interrupted.

“I’m sorry?” the lawyer looked surprised.

“She isn’t a long-term partner of mine.  She is a past fling, ancient history”, he corrected.

“Really?”.  Magnus was getting sick of his bad acting.  “Because she was very explicit of her involvement with you and how she got mixed up in the case.  It was after an interview with Samuel Blackwell…”.

“OBJECTION!” Ragnor yelled, this time with clear anger in his voice.

Pangborn looked at the Judge.  “Miss Belcourt introduced the previous relationship and it’s part of the same line of questioning that goes to the detectives character”.

The Judge was trying her best to be unbiased, “Sustained”.

Pangborn turned back to Magnus.  “Were you aware of the relationship between Detective Lightwood and Samuel Blackwell”.

“No, but I am aware of a relationship between First Lieutenant Lightwood and Captain Blackwell” he replied coolly.

“I don’t understand the difference” he frowned.

“I’m not surprised” Magnus insulted him subtly.  “It’s the difference of about five years.  The relationship you are referring to was when they were both serving overseas”.

Pangborn was grinding his jaw now, Magnus having severed the link between Alec and Samuel’s relationship and the case.

“Still…” he decided to continue anyway.  “Two affairs with two colleagues.  Is it any surprise that my client was under the impression that Detective Lightwood was interested in relations with him as well?”.

“Quite the surprise actually, considering Detective Lightwood showed no romantic interest in your client at any point” and Magnus looked pointedly at the blonde who was sat at the defence table.

Sebastian cold eyes glared at him for a moment then turned away and stared at the wall behind the Judge.

“And you were witness to every single interaction between the two?” Pangborn remarked sarcastically.

“No, but I was witness to the sexual assault and attempted rape that your client perpetrated on Detective Lightwood” Magnus deliberately elaborated on his answer, much to Pangborn’s fury.

“Judge, please instruct the witness to answer the questions asked?” he snapped.

“I believe he did just that Mr Pangborn” she replied professionally.

Pangborn turned back to Magnus with a harsh glare, only to find him smiling at him with amusement.  “Yes or no will suffice moving forward Mr Bane.  Do you understand?”.

“Yes” Magnus answered with an obtuse tone.

“Were you witness to every interaction between my client and Detective Lightwood?” he restarted, wanting to clarify his point and ensure it wasn’t forgotten by the jury.

“No” Magnus confirmed.

“So you cannot say for certain that no romantic interactions occurred?”.

“Yes”, Magnus replied.

Pangborn stuttered to a stop, thrown off by Magnus’ unexpected response.  “What?”.

“Yes”, he repeated.

The lawyer frowned.  “I don’t understand?”.

Magnus sighed dramatically, “Again?  Perhaps I could use more than ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to answer?”.

“Fine”, he almost growled.

“I can be sure that no romantic interactions occurred because Detective Lightwood has assured me that they didn’t”, Magnus explained.  “He would not lie to me”.

“You cannot be 100% sure…”.

“Yes I can Mr Pangborn, and I am under oath so I cannot lie” he interrupted smoothly. 

“This isn’t about your opinion…”, he snapped.

“No, it is what I know to be true.  And I know that Detective Lightwood spoke the truth when he told me he had no interactions with Sebastian Verlac outside of instructions for work that fell directly within both of their job roles”  Magnus sat back in his chair and watched the man steadily, seeing his jaw twitch as he ground his teeth.

“No further questions”, Pangborn finally blurted out, clearly deciding that cross examining Magnus was a liability to his case and he couldn’t twist his words to help his client.

Magnus looked innocently up at the Judge, who peered down at him over her glasses.  “You may step down Mr Bane”.

Magnus nodded, moving gracefully out of the witness box and walking with confidence to join Alec in the spectator’s seats, Simon shifting a seat over so Magnus could slip past him and sit beside his boyfriend.  As soon as he sat he took hold of Alec’s hand and squeezed it tightly, his younger boyfriend giving him a stoic, but thankful look before they both turned back to what the judge was saying.

“…recess until Thursday morning.  Bailiff, take the defendant back to the cells for transport and the jury is dismissed for the day”, the judged finished before striking her gavel and standing to leave the court herself.

The other attendees started to gather their belongings and leave, but Magnus’ eyes were on Alec who watched Sebastian’s back disappear through the door that led to the holding cells.  As soon as the door was closed the younger man let out a long breath, his shoulders relaxing.

“You okay?” he asked.

Alec nodded, “Yeah”.

Magnus doubted it, but he knew this was not the place to push.  So he watched Ragnor packing up his  papers before coming through the gate to join them in the observation seats.

“What do you say we head back to my prep room” Ragnor suggested quietly.  “We can all grab a water and decompress…”.

“That sounds perfect Ragnor” Magnus answered, not taking his eyes off his boyfriend.

Alec watched as Simon stood and started out of the courtroom so that Magnus could also move out of the room, Izzy and Ragnor following them.

It was a matter of moments before they were in the room and the second the door closed Izzy exploded.

“Fucking Camille!” she yelled, throwing her purse down onto the table.

“Izzy” Alec spoke softly, “It’s okay…”.

“It’s not okay”, she snapped, “That bitc… she’s introduced things just to try and make you look bad.  She might as well be helping the defence”.

“Considering Magnus’ responses…” Ragnor pointed out.  “…I think the defence’s strategy was damaged.  I know what Camille said, I cross examined her and the ground Pangborn thinks he gained today I can clarify with the jury through the testimonies of the rest of the team”.

Magnus handed Alec the glass of water he had poured from the jug on the table, giving him a sympathetic smile as the younger man winced at his sister’s display.

“I am sorry about Camille”, Magnus told Alec as he sat beside him.

Alec swallowed the gulp of water he had taken then smiled, “You don’t have to apologise, you were fantastic.  I think Pangborn seriously regrets taking the opportunity to cross examine you”.

Magnus preened slightly under his praise.  “All I had to do is tell the truth darling”.

“You really have that much faith in me?”, Alec asked quietly, his hazel eyes blinking at his boyfriend.

The older man took his free hand and pulled it into his lap.  “That and more my love”.

“…back in court on Thursday and it’s Jace, Maia and Luke who are testifying” Ragnor was telling Simon and Izzy.

“And when does Alec testify as a detective?” Izzy asked.

“Friday” the prosecutor replied.

Izzy looked at her brother.  “You okay hermano?”.

“I’m fine Izzy”, he replied and he found he actually was, other than the persistent headache which he was starting to become familiar with.  He wasn’t looking forward to attempting sleep later, but he felt well enough to head into work.

Simon was checking his cell after turning it back on and his messages started to come through.

“Hun…” he addressed Izzy, “Maryse said Laila is unsettled…”.

Izzy nodded, but still looked at her brother.

“Go get your daughter Iz”, Alec told her with a smile on his face.  “She needs to be at home with her mom”.

His little sister sighed, navigated around the table to plant a kiss on the top of his head along with slapping one on Magnus’ cheek as well, before she grabbed her purse again.

She and Simon were about to leave when she stopped with her hand on the doorhandle.

“Max spoke to me yesterday…” she started, gaining Alec and Magnus’ full attention immediately.  “…he’s going to call you tonight, about the party on Friday”.

“He wants to cancel?” Magnus asked.  “We hadn’t asked him about it as we didn’t want to put too much pressure on him”.

Izzy smile, “You know that kid, tough as nails.  He wants to have the party, says dad had thought it was a good idea… he told Max he should celebrate because it was an accomplishment that he should be proud of”.

“I’m glad he’s going to go ahead with it”, Magnus confirmed.

“He wants to check you two are okay with it though, seeing as you’re hosting” she explained.

Alec looked at Magnus at the same time as his older boyfriend looked at him, a silent message passing between their eyes.

Alec looked back to Izzy, “We’re okay with it”.

“See you Friday then” she smiled and blew them a kiss, then Simon followed her out of the room.

Ragnor sat opposite Magnus and waited, knowing his old friend would have questions.

“Now it’s just us…” he asked, “…was any damage done today?”.

Ragnor waved him off casually, “No.  Camille managed to look like a bitter ex even before I cross examined her.  I am confident the jury wasn’t taking anything Pangborn said as accurate, and you put the story into perspective beautifully”.

“Excellent” Magnus said gleefully then went about turning his own cell phone back on at the same time as Alec started to fiddle with his own.

It turned out that Magnus had more messages than Alec, which was highly unusual, including missed calls from Raphael in the double digits and a voicemail.  He called into his mailbox and listened to the message his manager had left, his face screwing up as the seconds ticked by until he hung up half way through.

“Are you okay?” Alec asked, surprise evident on his face.

“It appears Raphael is a little worked up about something” he slipped his cell back in his pocket.  “I should probably go and see what the problem is”.

“Did he not say?” Alec asked, both of them standing.

“Oh you know I stop listening once Raph’s voice hits a certain pitch” the older man said absentmindedly.  “Do you mind if I drop you at the precinct, I’ll need the car to get to Raph’s?”

“Of course not” Alec reassured, “I can get dropped home when I’m done”.

Magnus’ eyes flicked over his boyfriends face for a moment.  “Be careful, and look after yourself.  Okay?”.

Alec smiled and pressed a firm kiss to the older man’s forehead.  “Always”.

 

*****

 

He settled himself down on the bench opposite the enclosure, crossing one leg over the other and resting his coffee on his knee, gripping it with both gloved hands, the warmth helping keep away the cold.  The weather had really turned in the last few days and he could almost smell the first snow in the air.

He sighed and looked across at the bears, “You’ll be happy about that” he mumbled to himself, watching one of the adult bears slip with grace into the pool.

“Polar bears” Silverbrook said as he took a seat next to the man.  “Really?”.

“Did you know that polar bears are not only cannibals but they are also the only animal that actively hunts humans” Fade turned to the merc.  “Only 0.02% of the hunts they do, animal or human, are successful but they keep trying.  Over and over again”.  He turned back to the animals, “It’d be nice to see them in their natural environment”.

“Pretty fucking cute though” he commented.

“There is also some evidence that they hunt for pleasure” he added.

Silverbrook looked back at the bears, their white fur, their grace in the water, their parental instincts to care for their cubs.  “Well that seems terrifying”.

“Anyway,” Fade changed the subject.  “Is everything in position?” he asked, one eye on the animals, the other on the thin crowd surrounding them, very few people wanting to wander the Zoo in this temperature.

“Yes” he replied.

Fade looked at him.  “You’re sure?”.

Silverbrook turned to the man beside him.  “Yes” he said, slight irritation entering his voice at their work being questioned.

The older man watched him carefully and silently, for long enough that Silverbrook started to wonder if something else was going on.

“You followed the instructions carefully, you took your time… nothing was rushed?” he finally asked.

“We know how to do this” he said gruffly.  “Everything was done as instructed”.

Fade turned away, not wholly satisfied but it was too late to check.  “Your employer is arriving on Thursday, she’ll be stateside for the event.  You had better hope this goes off without a hitch”.

“The job is all squared away” he reassured.

Fade nodded, “Good.  Then once we have a confirmed kill you’ll get the rest of your money”.

Silverbrook took it as the dismissal that it was, standing up and walking his way, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he moved.  He didn’t see Malcolm watching his retreating back until he was out of sight nor him removing his cell to fire off an email confirming to Lilith that the job was all go.

Once the email was confirmed as sent he took another look at the predators that he respected so much, before standing and dumping the now cold coffee into the trashcan by the bench before heading in the opposite direction, leaving the zoo by a different exit.

 

*****

 

Alec had Magnus drop him outside Java Jones and he picked up four coffees tailored for his team, which now included Jace as Maia had been switched to Woolsey’s team.  He wasn’t actually sure if he would find Jace in, he hadn’t heard from him so he didn’t know if he had managed to score protection for her, or if he was doing it unofficially himself. 

He got his answer when he arrived in their office and found Andrew on the phone and Lydia speaking with Luke, both of them looking up when he arrived.

“Hey” Luke greeted warmly, “How did it go?”.

Alec snorted, not really wanting to go through it.  “Pretty much how you would expect.  Pangborn went after their records and qualifications, trying to make them out as incompetent”.

“You think the jury will buy it?” Lydia asked.

“I don’t know.  You know what jury’s are like, a diverse mix of individuals… some will, some won’t” Alec mused as he put the coffees on the table, Andrew grabbing his gratefully while he muttered into his cell.

“How about Magnus’ testimony?” Luke asked.

Alec avoided his eyes, choosing to look over their board instead, now with two active cases being tracked.  “He held his ground, made a mess of Pangborn’s plan.  Ragnor thinks he did some damage to the defence”.

“Well that’s good” Lydia said, taking her own coffee, but sending a look to Luke, her captain nodding back to confirm he had seen it too,

“Anything you want to talk about?” Luke asked, perching himself on the edge of the table and crossing his arms over his chest.

Alec turned back around, “Yeah, I need a rundown on where we are.  What’s happened with Pedroso’s case while I was off and what’s come back from last nights victim?”.

Andrew was just finishing his call, scribbling some notes down while he sipped his coffee.  Lydia took another glance at Luke before taking a seat at the table.

“Okay…” Luke relented, “Lydia and Andrew will bring you up to speed.  Jace has taken some leave… it’s down as compassionate”, he looked pointed at Alec, “So he won’t be doing any police work while he’s off will he, because he won’t be covered by insurance for injury or damage to property”.

Alec took a deep breath, “He’s just taking some time, for himself and to be with Clary”. 

“Uh huh” Luke said, completely unconvinced.

While Alec was an excellent liar and exaggerator for his job, when it came to his loved ones he was as transparent as a window.  This was a mix of the two so he hadn’t been entirely convincing but Luke wasn’t sure what Alec was hiding.  And if he was honest with himself, Alec wasn’t sure he was lying, for all he knew Jace and Clary would spend some time together at home, maybe have a few daytime dates, they could even spend some time with Maryse and Max or Izzy and Laia.

‘And hell might freeze over’ he thought, surprised by the irritation he felt at the same time.

The two men stared at each other for a long moment, long enough for Lydia and Andrew to start to fidget uncomfortably.

“You call me if you need me” Luke said as he pushed away from the table, grabbed the spare coffee and headed out of their office, door swinging shut behind him.

Alec knew what Luke had meant, ‘you call me if you need me’ actually means, ‘you call me when Jace does something stupid because Clary made him’.

“Okay” he said aloud, “Pedroso?” and he peeled off his coat then sat down at the table.

“We have had call backs from all of the customers” Andrew spoke up, “but nothing obvious in terms of homicidal behaviour or intent”.

“But, one of the businesses had some loose connections to gang behaviour” Lydia continued.

Alec frowned, waiting for more.

“Import company” She explained, “Danny McMannas runs it as a family business but he has distant cousins in the O'Mooney gang”.

“And there were some hits on the employee list from the body shop” Andrew took up the narrative again.  “From petty theft up to vehicle theft, but nothing with any violence”.

“We still need to look into them, but we can ask for patrol to do the leg work” he looked at Lydia, “Can you make sure Officer Sol Duncan and his partner are allocated”.

She nodded, not questioning the request and taking down notes.  “Sure”.

“What about our victim last night?” he moved onto their next case.

“I just got off the phone with Nath” Andrew spoke up, something disturbing in her eyes.  “They’re sending up the report any minute but… they found traces of semen so are running the DNA to see if they get any hits”.

“Could be a rape?” Lydia commented.

“Or an angry partner, might explain the abdominal wounds” Alec suggested.  “What are we doing to identify her?”.

“Prints and DNA is being run as we speak” Andrew explained.  “And, once she was cleaned up, Nath sent a picture to missing persons so…”.

“She might have been reported” Lydia finished.

“So, in the meantime we read up on the statements from the canvas” Alec told them, “and we need to look into the CCTV…”.

“Already got it downloading” Andrew advised, “And we’ve called round the surrounding businesses to get private footage.  None of them have blocked us on it…”.

“Which suggests none of them have anything to hide and really don’t know her” Alec finished.  “We need to know who she is, what she was doing by the docks and how she got there…”.

All three of their cells pinged to indicate they had received an email and Alec was first to retrieve his, opening an email from forensics.

Alec sat up straighter as he read, “We got an ID through fingerprints, DUI from two years ago.  Helen Scott…” as he spoke Andrew had turned to one of the computers and started to input the new information into the file and displayed on the smartboard.  “Thirty-two, married…” he paused as his eyes landed on the husbands name, “…to Danny MacMannus”.

“Seriously?!” Andrew exclaimed, “From the import company?”.

“Our cases are connected?” Lydia sounded as bemused as Alec felt.

He immediately went through his call list, selecting the person he needed.

“Jordan?” he said when the call was answered.  “Yeah, we just got the email from forensics.  Can you put a rush on the DNA from semen found in Helen Scott, see if it matches Carlos Pedroso?... great, thanks”.

Lydia looked at him, “You think Helen is the new girlfriend?”.

“We know Carlos had a new partner, who was female, but was keeping it quiet.  We already thought it could be a wife or a partner to one of his customers.  Then we find Helen Scott’s been killed and she’s married to one of the customers” Alec mused aloud.

“Talk to the husband?” Lydia asked.

Alec nodded, “Talk to the husband.  Andrew, you okay with CCTV?”.

Andrew nodded eagerly, “I’ve got it”.

Alec stood, “You’re driving Branwell…”.

“Where’s your car?” she asked with a frown as she stood and pulled on her overcoat.

“Magnus dropped me off, we only took one car to the courthouse” he said.

Lydia looked at him, annoyed.  “That car is the only reason I like partnering with you”.

“My heart bleeds for you Branwell” he replied, sarcastically.  “Get us a car, I’ll meet you in the parking lot” and he opened the door, holding it for her to head right for the elevators while he moved left for the washroom.

As soon as he was inside he went straight for the sinks, splashing water on his face before supporting himself with his hands on the edge of the bowl and stared at himself in the mirror.

Even to him he looked pale, the black halfmoons below his eyes only emphasising the pallor of his skin.  Turning his face from side to side he was almost sure his cheekbones were more prominent, which meant he was loosing weight.  He dropped his head, hanging it over the porcelain, letting the final drops of water fall from his face.

He drew in a breath, exhaled slowly, then he repeated it four more times, hoping that with each one would quiet his mind because he really couldn’t go and do a death notification then accuse the man’s dead wife of sleeping with their realtor and not be focused.  Especially when that man has links to a crime family.

“Okay Lightwood” he whispered to himself.  “Camille fucked you, big surprise.  Blackwell and Magnus are in no way the same thing…” he looked up into the mirror and swallowed thickly.  “Blackwell… was a fling in your youth… Magnus is…” he thought of his boyfriend, a smile twitching at his lips automatically, “…everything”.

That calmed some of the thoughts, the louder ones from today.  But the buzzing in the background, the flashes of his father, the tight chest when he thought of Morgenstern, the spike in his temperature, drawing a sweat when a certain date came to mind.  It was all still there and when he catalogued it his heart rate spiked, adrenaline rushed and he felt his fight or flight response.  And it was happening over and over all day, every day.  He knew he needed to do something to get control of his physiological responses before he reached his breaking point.

The door opened and he looked up to see Raj, frozen on the doorway looking uncertain if he should continue in now that he had discovered Alec inside.

Alec rolled his eyes and stood straight, reaching for a paper napkin.  “I’m just leaving Raj…” he drawled, “…bathroom will be nice and safe for you”.

Raj glared, whether it was at Alec’s implication or the fact he had been caught out, Alec didn’t know and didn’t care.  The lead detective threw the napkin into the trashcan and pushed through the door just as Raj moved further into the washroom.

As annoyed as Alec felt, he pushed it away and focused on the case, running over the facts that they had so far and how he was going to break the news to a possibly grieving husband.

Chapter Text

Networked Freighting was located on a neighbouring dock, older and in slightly worse condition that where Helen Scott had been found.  The building they were located in was a large, red brick building, two levels high and was situated on a section of the land that reached out into the bay, built up on sides with large grey rocks and, at the very point, was a platform that the ships could dock at.

The lower level was clearly the warehouse, demonstrated with the roller doors where vehicles could drive in and out of to collect or deliver goods.  At the south end of the building, which was just a few yards from the water, there was a crane built in, rising up from the roof which would allow the company to take containers straight off the ship and drop down into the warehouse.

The upper level, with the smaller windows, was likely the offices and was accessed by an external staircase, which Alec and Lydia were heading for now.

“You look tired” Lydia commented as she started taking the steps, aware of the two guys that were stood on the platform watching them, one already talking into his radio.

Alec followed her up, at a respectable distance, well aware of how weary he felt while he climbed the stairs.  “Yeah,” he answered, “a lot on my mind I guess”.

“You can ask for help Alec” she commented as she reached the stop, hand on the door to go in.

“I know” he replied.  “Cause everyone keeps telling me”.

Lydia gave him her unimpressed stare, then stepped through the doorway and into the reception, Alec closing the door against the cold once he had joined her.

It was a simple reception, a small desk straight ahead, pressed up against the wall to the right with a single door in the wall behind it to the left.  Against the wall to the right was a low coffee table with flyers promoting the business fanned out on top and, in the corner of the room beside the doorway was a fake potted plant, which looked like a rubber plant.  To their left were three, simple chairs for customers to wait in but Alec was focused on the receptionist.

He opened his mouth to greet him but the young man spoke before he could.

“Detectives” he said, “Mr MacMannas will be with you in just a moment, would either of you like a drink?”.

Lydia smiled at his politeness.  “Are we that obvious?”.

“Oh, no.  I was here for the last visit” he answered, still smiling warmly.

“We’re fine” Alec confirmed just as the door behind the young man opened and Mr MacMannas stood in the threshold.

“It’s fine Teddy” he dismissed his staff member’s efforts, not unkindly, and the young man sat back down behind his desk.  “Come through” he told the two detectives and stepped back into the gloomy hallway behind him.

Alec went through first, opening his coat for two reasons.  One because of the warmth of the office and the other so his weapon could be reached if need be.  He could hear Lydia doing the same as she followed him.

MacMannas led then down a short corridor, footsteps somewhat muffled by the cheap carpet underfoot, until he suddenly gripped a doorhandle on his left, opening and moving inside in one swift motion.

It was the same office Alec had spoken to him in the last time they had visited, he knew what was inside and it was a functional office, no frills, just a small room with a desk that had two chairs in front of it.

MacMannas had already made his way around it and sat down in his chair, his laptop in front of him, by the time Lydia had come in and shut the door.

“I’m guessing this is about my employee list?” he commented defensively, his face blank and doing his best not to give anything away.

“No Mr MacMannas” Alec stood in front of the man, just behind one of the chairs and Lydia took up a position next to him.  “I regret to inform you that your wife’s body was found last night.  I’m afraid she’s dead”.  His voice was empathetic, but clear and he enunciated his words clearly so there was no mistake, just like they had been trained to do and what experience had also taught him.

MacMannas drummed his fingers on the table top, watching the both of them carefully.

“You guys want that coffee now?” he finally said, in the same tone he had used before.

Alec felt Lydia’s eyes on him, but he maintained his calm.  “No, thank you”.

MacMannas looked at Lydia expectantly.

“Uhhh…” she stuttered a bit.  “No… but thank you, also”.

“Mr MacMannas…” Alec started but stopped when the man waved at him.

“Dead or killed?” he asked.

Alec appraised him for a moment, then made a decision.  “Killed” he replied honestly.  “She was stabbed, her body was found on the next port over”.

At that he did raise an eyebrow.

“Can you tell us when you last saw your wife?” he asked.

“Three weeks ago when I threw her out” he answered, putting his elbows on the desk and leaning onto them.  “Serial cheat”.

“You must be angry about that?” he asked.

MacMannas smiled, “The first five times it happened… but once we hit double digits… eh, you end up with separate lives”.

“Why kick her out this time?” Lydia asked.

He looked at her and laughed humourlessly.  “She was seeing someone else?”.

Alec glanced at Lydia and saw the surprise on her face.

“My apologies” she said, “I thought you knew”.

“Knew… no” he said, “Surprised… also no”.

“So why did you throw her out?” Alec asked.

“Because, she downloaded my customer list” he answered.  “I had the feeling she was up to something.  She ran the warehouse here, don’t get me wrong she was damn good at it.  But she had no reason to access the customer list unless she was thinking of setting up herself”.

“And how angry were you about that?” he asked.

MacMannas smiled, “She didn’t get it.  She was out of the house that night and all her security passes for here cancelled.  And her behaviour was caught on camera, bye bye alimony.  I was deliriously happy”.

Alec opened his mouth but didn’t get any further.

“But, if it makes you happy… I had to cover her shift overnight in the warehouse because our new employee doesn’t start until next week.  CCTV of me here… all night” he explained.

“Can you send it to this address?” Alec asked as he pulled his card out of his pocket and handed it over to him.

“No problem” he replied as he took it, his other hand already reaching for his cell.

“Where did your wife go?” Lydia asked, “After you threw her out?”.

He shrugged.  “No idea.  We don’t have children so frankly, I have no reason to know. She not living with the new boyfriend?”.

“Not that we can tell” she replied.  “Could she have gone to stay with family?”.

“No” MacMannas replied, “She doesn’t have any.  Grew up in the foster system, never stayed in one place long enough to build relationships with the other kids or any of the adults.  Made her tough as nails but… well, she looked after number one”.

“Speaking of family though… “ Alec drew his attention back, “We need to ask about your cousins?”.

“You’d be pretty shit at your job if you didn’t…” he said as he looked down at his phone to send a message.  “And, my officer manager told me who you were the last time you were here…” he looked up, placing his phone on his desk.  “…assured me you are not shit at your job”.

Alec stared at him, eyes slightly narrowed.

“I didn’t recognise your name right away…” he admitted.  “What can I say, they’re my cousins.  I worked hard to make sure my business was clean… kept them away from it.  To be honest, we’re too small to be any use to them anyway.  We can’t processes the volume of ‘goods’ they bring in but your guys are welcome to open every container, crate and box in here”.

Alec nodded, “We’ll get a warrant and forensics will be in today” he promised.

“So,” Lydia changed the direction of the questioning.  “If it wasn’t you…”.

“Guy she was sleeping with?” he suggested wily.

Alec’s lips twitched in a small smile, “That’s something we’re already following up on”.

MacMannas sat back in his chair and sighed.  “We had a few complaints from customers… damaged products.  Normally my officer manager handles them but on three occasions these customers turned up on the premises and Helen… she could be… confrontational.  Issues escalated and nearly came to blows.  The customers had to be escorted off the premises”.

“Can you send us those records as well?” Alec asked.  “And, we also need alibi’s for those employees you were referring to earlier”.

MacMannas smiled, “See, not shit” he stated.  “I can call them up now”.

“We haven’t told them who they are” Lydia pointed out.

“He knows which ones” Alec replied.  “And, we’ll take those coffees now… please”.

The owner laughed as he picked up his cell again, “Not shit” he muttered before placing the first call.

 

*****

 

Three hours later Alec and Lydia were wandering into an Applejack diner and grabbing the booth furthest from the door.  It was relatively busy, so they had time to decide on their order before they’d been approached by a frazzled waiter.

They waved off her apologies and placed their order, she came back quickly with the coffee and threw a wink at Lydia before she was off again.

“You’re gonna get a cell number on the receipt” he told his partner.

“What makes you think I’m paying” she shot back, eyeing him over the rim of her coffee.

“Because if I’m about to sit through a lecture, I am not picking up the cheque as well” he shot back.

She put her drink down softly on the table, smiling.  “Okay, you’re right.  I can’t put you through both… I’ll pay for diner”.

He squinted at her, sucking on his teeth for a moment.  “If you’re offering only one, I’ll take the bill”.

“Why am I not surprised” she smirked at him, “But the decision has been made” she sighed with mock reluctance.

“Fine” he sighed, “Get on with then, I want this over before the food gets here.  The last thing I need is indigestion”.

“When did you last sleep through the night?” she asked.

“Thursday” he replied quickly, remembering the day that he had spent with Magnus, a slight blush touching his cheeks when he thought back to their night as well.

Lydia rolled her eyes, “Was it rest… or did you just get worn out?” she teased.

He huffed, looking away from his friend and out over the diner, “It can be both” he teased back.

“Ewww” she complained.  “Too far Lightwood I don’t need that picture in my head…” she fake gagged, “It’s like finding out about your brother’s sex life”.

“Well, I know how that feels” he agreed, blocking old and very disturbing memories of Jace, the most indiscreet lothario in history.  “I will behave”.

“So will I” and they sealed their agreement with a fist bump over the table.

They paused, enjoying their drinks and the diner around them, the low murmur of different patrons as they enjoyed their meals and the company they were with, the familiar smells of different culinary delights and low level music playing over surprisingly high quality speakers.

“Okay” Lydia suddenly said, causing Alec to flinch some of his coffee onto the tabletop.  “No more delays… incoming lecture”.

Alec took a deep breath, rolled his neck and sat with his back straight and shoulders square.

“No one…” she started, “no one could cope with what you are going through right now on their own.  You just lost your father, the biggest catch of your career escaped, you’re reliving what happened with Verlac and on Wednesday it will be a year since…”.

“I know what Wednesday is” he interrupted.

“…you were abducted” she carried on, ignoring him.  “Held for three days and very nearly died… did die, three times at least”.

He swallowed, “I told you I know what Wednesday is” he mumbled, a chill settling into his bones as he thought back to those days.

“Have you spoken to Tessa?” Lydia asked.

“She’s on maternity still” he replied, now staring down into his black coffee.

“She also said that you’re the one client she would see if you needed her” she reminded him.

“I don’t need it Lydia…” he argued.

“Everyone can see that you do Lightwood, everyone but you” her voice firm.

He looked up at her, sitting back against the bench.  “Everyone is talking about this anniversary as if it is something I’m worried about” he explained, “But, it’s a celebration.  I’m alive, a year later despite Jonathan Morgenstern doing his best to make sure I didn’t get out of that warehouse… and he’s the one in the ground”.

Lydia studied his eyes.  He had a point, it was something to celebrate, but she knew her friend and when she had listed what he had going on, the anniversary was the one thing he had interrupted her on… there was definitely something about Wednesday that was eating at him.

“You’re not fooling me Lightwood” she replied, “And you’re not fooling Magnus”.

At the mention of Magnus he felt himself shut down, his face going blank but Lydia saw it.

“Don’t do that” she demanded.  “He loves you… I love you.  You have a family that loves you…”.

“I know” he snapped, probably a little angrier than he meant to.  “I have a lot of loved ones, people I am responsible for… that I need to keep safe”.

She peered at him, “What aren’t you telling me?”.

He took in another deep breath and let it out slowly, calming his heart which was starting to race.  “Clary’s mom is missing”.

Lydia’s eyebrows shot up, “Shit, when?”.

“Saturday night, Sunday morning” he answered.  “Missing persons are handling it but there is some evidence that she has been taken rather than left”.

Lydia fell back against her own bench.  “Fuck” she said quietly.

“We need to be there for her” he told his old friend.  “She’s not a cop, she is not equipped to deal with this but she has been around Jace for a year and has just enough knowledge…”.

“To make stupid decisions?” Lydia suggested, trying to lighten the atmosphere for a moment.

He huffed a laugh, hoping the heat was off him for at least a moment.  “Or at least encourage Jace to make stupid decisions”.

“Humm” she watched him again.  “Nice try, but that just puts something else on your plate”.

He shook his dead, “No, it gives me something else to focus on.  The trial… is.. awful… its completely different when you’re the victim.  Valentine is not my problem and my dad…” he paused, really thinking about it.  “I don’t know how to feel about that right now… so I can work and I can help Clary.  Because those are things I can affect”.

The waitress arrived with their food, and left a little disconcerted when all they did was stare at each other while she placed their dishes out and only mumbled a thank you each when she left.

“I don’t need indigestion” he finally reminded.

“Will you see Tessa?” she asked stubbornly.

He sighed again, “I will arrange an appointment… around baby dates and mommy yoga”.

She chuckled, “I will ask Magnus to spy on you”

“He’d never agree” Alec replied confidently.

Lydia laughed, then looked down at her food.  “Hello there beautiful” she said.

Alec paused, his sandwich halfway to his mouth.  “Don’t start that again, it’s still weird”.

“It’s only when I am starving” she reminded him and picked up her cutlery, about to dig in when her cell went off, forcing a frustrated groan from her.

Alec held his free hand out and she took the offer, sliding her cell across the tabletop to him.

“Andrew” he greeted, already having seen the caller ID.

“Hey Alec” he replied, not phased that he had answered Lydia’s call.  “I’ve been through the CCTV and the vehicles all check out.  They’re either the victims, which we recovered on the scene, or workers on the site.  We have three rentals and I have applied for the warrant as the companies aren’t cooperating without one.  I’ve also tracked Helen as she headed onto the dock before she disappeared into the containers.  I can’t see anyone else until the worker that found her arrived for his shift”.

Alec let out a sigh.  “Okay, call it a night Andrew.  You’ve done enough staring at screens for a week, get some rest and we’ll see you tomorrow”.

“Are you guys calling it a night?” he asked.

“Yeah, we’ll write up the reports first thing” Alec decided, calculating that it would be early evening before he and Lydia even got back to the precinct, with their report likely taking up to at least two hours to get finished.

“Okay” Andrew seemed satisfied with the response.  “See you tomorrow”.

Alec wished him a good evening then placed Lydia’s cell back on the table next to her, seeing her shovelling another three fries into her mouth and chewing them with a satisfied grin on her lips.

“Enjoying that?” he asked with no small amount of amusement.

“Do you know, this is my absolute favourite” she explained.  “It’s all I thought about every time I was away.  I almost got to the point where I was going to ask my mom to send some…”.

Alec cringed at the thought of that, and the state of the package when it arrived.

She closed her eyes, “When I retire, I’m going to buy a franchise… and eat all of the stock then sell it on”.

“An excellent use of pension money” Alec agreed, “Are you sharing or will it just be you at this last supper?”.

She opened her blue eyes, giving them a mischievous squint.  “Magnus can come”.

“Traitor” he teased as she stuffed another handful of fries in her mouth.  He was hit with a sudden desire to confess and he mulled over whether it was a betrayal of trust… “Woolsey is an ex of Magnus’” he suddenly blurted out.

Lydia chocked on her food, eyes watering by the time she got it swallowed and then she gulped her lukewarm coffee to try and ease the coughing.  The waitress appeared with a glass of water and a sympathetic smile.  Lydia thanked her and sipped it slowly, waiting for her to get far enough away before she spoke.

“How long ago?” she asked.

Alec shrugged, “I don’t really know.  Magnus doesn’t really talk about his past and Woolsey has only hinted about them and what they meant to each other…” he took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “He says Magnus was a completely different person back then…”.

She sat back as she chewed her latest mouthful as well as processing his words.  “Didn’t you say Magnus was a prince?”.

“His dad… Magnus called him his biological father… is a prince in Edom’s royal family” Alec explained.

Lydia cringed, “If he’s still alive.  Weren’t most of them killed off years ago during the military coup?”

“Yeah, that was before you and me were even born” he thought back to the history he was given before he started his first tour in the country.  “Asmodeus Loi is supposed to be the last of the family alive”.

“Except for Magnus” she pointed out. 

“He was never in any of the intel, I don’t think they even know about him” Alec told her.

“So how does he know?” Lydia asked.

“No idea” Alec replied, feeling a little resentful.  “Not something he has spoken to me about since that day”.

She nodded slowly, turning things over in her mind while she gazed out of the window into the darkness, noticing it had started to sleet again, though now there was more snow than rain.

“Are you worried…” she started to ask.

“God no!” Alec exclaimed.  “I know he loves me, and I love him.  This, ‘other Magnus’ he talked about… we know the real one”.

“But?” she prompted.

“But…” he thought about his words.  “I wish Magnus would tell me about those years.  I feel like Woolsey has a part of him that I’m not allowed.  I know…” he said, laying things out logically, “…that I am not entitled to his past.  I’m not ‘entitled’ to anything that Magnus doesn’t want to give me…”.

“But Woolsey talking about it is…”.

“Getting on my fucking nerves” he almost growled, surprised by how angry he was.

Lydia laughed softly.  “Yeah, it’d probably piss me off too.  Have you tried to tell Magnus how this is making you feel?”.

He gave her his best deadpan stare.

“Jesus Alec” she sighed, “if you can’t talk to him…”.

“I can talk to him” he corrected.  “It’s just we all have enough to deal with right now… and he’s got the club opening as well as trying to get the London location off the ground…”.

“You’re making excuses” she told him bluntly.  “Magnus will be so upset if he finds out how you’re feeling about Woolsey… about everything…”.

“Lydia, for the last time, the rest is under control” he snapped, “But Woolsey I have to work with”.

“Do you want me to ask forensics to put all his work to the bottom of the list?” she gave him a conspirative wink.

Alec’s lips moved slowly into that lopsided smile, “No.  He’s working on Robert’s murder”.

“Well, we’ll let him solve that one” she agreed softly.  “And, Magnus will talk to you… eventually.  You know he will”.

“Humm” was his only response before he turned back to his meal.

They finished the rest of their time mostly in silence, Lydia cleared her plate and Alec managed half of his.  Lydia paid the bill, as promised, while Alec took the opportunity to use the rest room.  He managed to get in a cubical before panic washed over him, his mind going back to the list of problems that Lydia had laid out, each one being dragged to the forefront of his mind.  The food he had eaten made a reappearance, and at some point he stripped out of his jumper and tee, dropping them on the floor as he tried to cool his skin.  He only realised what he had done when he managed to get control of his breathing and became aware of his surroundings again.

He used the toilet tissue to wipe away the remaining sweat from his body, starting to shiver as his temperature plummeted, redressed and, taking a few moments to wash his hands and face, he made his way back to their booth.

Lydia was just standing and he was relived to find he hadn’t been as long as he had thought, though the loss of time did have him worried.  Lydia either didn’t notice or decided she had lectured him enough, so she just tucked the receipt in her pocket, which did in fact have a cell number on it, Alec grabbed his coat from the bench next to him and then they wandered out to the unmarked.

Lydia drove steadily through the traffic towards Brooklyn and, halfway there, they both received an alert on their phone.  They recognised the tone as a force wide message so Alec retrieved his cell from his pocket and opened it to find that Jia Penhallow had been named as the interim commissioner.  She would carry out the duties until the mayor selected the most suitable applicant for the roll.

Alec and Lydia agreed it was likely to be Jia anyway, but they had to go through the process.  Alec felt odd about the news, a mix of emotions that threatened to swamp him again. So he put his cell away and turned on the radio to a volume that was bordering on obnoxious.  Lydia didn’t say a word.

 

*****

 

Arriving home this time was very different to the night before and it reminded him that he should try to come home early more often.

The loft was lit up in warm, yellow light and even from the entryway he could see the flicking from a fire that Magnus must have built.  There was soft music playing, a sweet female voice singing about a childhood spent on an orchard and the first love she met there.  He didn’t know who the artist was but knowing Magnus it certainly wasn’t modern.

He could smell fruity notes of what he knew was Magnus favourite pasta dish and, as good as it he knew it to be, his stomach turned over at the thought of food.  He found himself thankful that Magnus hadn’t cooked one of his favourites.

He pulled off his coat and kicked off his boots, putting them both away in the hallway closet before walking further into the lounge, his eyes finding Magnus next to the bar, pulling the ingredients together for a martini with one hand while he was fiddling with his cell in the other.

Alec lent against the doorframe, trying for nonchalant ogling but likely pulling off something closer to extreme exhaustion, then cleared his throat.

Magnus looked up and his face melted into a smile that met even his eyes, “Alexander!  You read my  mind, I was just about to call you”.

Alec grinned as Magnus met him in the doorway, both hands free and resting them on Alec’s chest while he leaned in for a ‘hello’ kiss.

Suddenly the diner bathroom flashed behind Alec’s closed eyes and he jerked his head back out of Magnus lips’ reach.

Magnus’ eyes sprang open, a confused look in them, “Alec?”.

“Umm…” he stalled as he tried to think, not wanting to say ‘I cant kiss you right now cause I threw up’.  “Lydia… we stopped… food… it was… bad…” he started to back away, jerking his thumb over his shoulder towards their bedroom.  “Awful taste… so, ummmm… hold that thought.  I’m gonna shower, brush my teeth and be back to collect”.

The older man watched him spin unsteadily on his heel, then pause and look back over his shoulder. 

“You should go ahead and eat, even though the food was bad I’m full” and then he dashed off out of sight.

Magnus’ face went from confusion to suspicion.  He sighed and pulled his cell from his pocket again, this time he dialled Tessa.

Chapter Text

Alec wasn’t entirely sure how much time had passed when he finally climbed out of the scolding shower.  After years in the military, particularly serving overseas where showers were a luxury and hot ones a miracle, he’d always seen them as functional… get in, do what needed to be done, get out.

But when he’d met Magnus he’d been introduced to the comfort they could bring, to sore muscles, aching hearts and busy minds, as well as the obvious benefits of a shower that had room for two.

So he had started to take longer showers of hotter temperatures and today, well today had been about easing a very busy mind as well as weary muscles and he hadn’t stepped out until he felt somewhat more human and a little more in control.

He returned to the bedroom with a towel wrapped low on his hips, hair still dripping water onto his shoulders which then rolled down his back and chest, with his clothes bundled up in one hand.  His hamper was in the corner of the closet and he opened it to see it was full, not realising it had been so long since he’d done his laundry.  He stuffed his clothes, still damp from the panic attack in the diner, in there, shoving it all down hard so he could at least get the lid shut and made a mental note to put a load on in the morning.

Next he padded over to his dresser and started to rifle through, selecting simple black boxer-briefs and grey sweats, pulling them on as soon as he’d towelled dry.  He already knew he was running low on tees and sweatshirts judging from how full his hamper was so he went straight for the bottom drawer, knowing one his oldest but soft sweatshirts would be in there.

He crouched down and started pulling and pushing at the other items in there until his eyes landed on the faded navy colour he was looking for, grabbing it and yanking it out, a plastic bag coming with it, dropping to the floor with a muffled rattle.

Alec froze and stared at it for a moment, knowing exactly what was in there but unable to remember putting it there, or even why he had kept it.

He sat down on the floor, legs crossed, then pulled on the navy NYPD sweatshirt.  It was wear and wash soft against his skin, the cuffs and hem fraying, but it felt so comfortable and smelt of home causing a wave of nostalgia to course through him.  It reminded him of a time long before he’d even heard of the name Morgenstern.  A time when, he may have already been damaged by Blackwell, but before he was broken completely. 

The air felt thin and his breaths started to heave, his eyes stinging with tears and he pinched at them with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand.

“Pull yourself together” he whispered to himself, sniffing and taking in a wobbly breath before letting it out slowly.

Opening his eyes again he looked at the bag, reaching out with a trembling hand, hesitating, then grabbing it and peering inside.  The small amber bottles with the white plastic lids, so familiar to him a year ago, now looked almost alien.  He’d never touched the pills that Dr Munroe had prescribed for him.  He’d hated medication since he’d had to be so heavily medicated while he was recovering from the injuries inflicted by Jonathan Morgenstern and then Tessa had helped him without the need for chemical assistance.

Reaching in he took a handful of the different prescriptions out, rolling them around in his hands to read the labels.  He’d been prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, lethargy and PTSD, each pill bottle with detailed advise on when and how to take each pill.

He thought back to how tired he had been when they had gone to speak to their victims husband.  The visit had actually gone well, with all parties they had spoken to being cooperative.  It could have been very different and he started to wonder, could he have backed up Lydia if it had?

Then the panic attack in the diner, along with the other symptoms he had been having.  He’d pushed dealing with the anniversary to the back of his mind, trying to get through the trial and promising himself that he would deal with it afterwards.  Then Robert had been murdered and he’d pushed that back there as well, again promising he would deal with that later.  Now Valentine was back, not only being his father’s killer, but abducting his brother’s girlfriend’s mother…

Maybe, just for a short while, he could try the medications.  He had been prescribed them once, by a doctor, based on the same problems he was experiencing now.  He could take the ones for anxiety, the bottle said one a day and another as needed.  That was probably all he would need to help calm his mind and body.  It might even help his sleep to rejuvenate him more than taking actual sleeping pills would.

A loud clatter from the kitchen shook him from his thoughts and he stuffed the pill bottles back into the plastic bag, pausing over the bottle of anxiety medication.  He chewed his bottom lip, trying to decide, then put the single bottle into his pocket, rolled the plastic bag up and stuffed into away under the clothes in his bottom drawer, shoving it closed.

Standing back up he straightened his sweatshirt, subconsciously pulling it down over the pockets of his sweatpants, then headed out to see what the noise had been in the kitchen.

He found it empty when he arrived, but Magnus had rinsed his dish though left it in the sink, which is what he attributed to the noise.  He took a moment to move the dish into the washer, then headed further into the loft, finding Magnus in the lounge, curled into the corner of the coach and flicking through the channels on the flatscreen.

The older man looked up at Alec as he rounded the end of the couch, giving him a soft smile as he sunk down onto the cushions beside him.

“Hey” he said.

“Hi” Alec replied, turning his head to meet his soft kiss, their lips lingering together longer than a typical ‘hello’ would.

When they did part Magnus’ eyes flicked over his face.  “Feel better?”.

Alec sat back and his eyes fell on the bottle of red wine that was open on the coffee table, Magnus’ glass half drunk and another glass ready.  He lent forward again and topped up Magnus’ glass before pouring his own.  Then he picked them up and sat back again, handing his boyfriend his glass back.

“Thank you darling” his smile widening.

“Jia Penhallow has been appointed as the interim commissioner” he announced, taking a sip of his wine.

Magnus’ smile faded, “Well, we knew they’d have to have one… how do you feel about that?”.

“Verlac’s aunt as commissioner…?” he mock asked, dropping his head back onto the couch and tilting it to look at his boyfriend.  “Awesome”.

The older man gave him an admonishing look, “Alec”.

He sighed, “I’ve never worked with her, but Luke speaks well of her.  Favours the firm but fair leadership…”

“Sounds familiar” Magnus mumbled over the rim of his wineglass.  Alec ignored him.

“…and had good results in Boston”.

“But?” he asked, gently probing, knowing there was something more and hoping that he would be able to get Alec talking.

Alec mulled his boyfriends question over in his mind, wondering himself what bothered him so much about the speed with which his father had been so easily replaced…

Magnus’ phone alert went off, signalling the front desk downstairs were calling up.  His jaw clenched with irritation, but he pushed it back so it wasn’t in his voice when he responded.

Alec turned his head again, back to staring at the ceiling, while Magnus drew his phone out and clicked on the notification to answer the call.

The APP was designed to bring up an real-time video footage of anyone who was at the desk but the only person they would hear was who was working the reception at the time.

“Hi Magnus…” Ruby said cheerfully.

Magnus wanted to smile at her ever optimistic and energetic personality, something that had endeared her to him as soon as he had interviewed her nine months ago.  Unfortunately the sight of two familiar faces put an instant dampener on his mood.

“Hi Ruby” he replied, watching Alec out of the corner of his eye.

“We have two unannounced guests who would like to visit with Alec this evening.  An Agent Dorothea Collins and Detective Woolsey Scott?” Ruby advised.

Alec lifted his head and turned to Magnus, but his face was blank.

“They said it’s in relation to an open investigation, but can’t say anymore then that” she explained.

“Hold on Ruby” Magnus asked politely and then muted the APP before turning to Alec, waiting for his response.

Alec started at him, his mind racing.  This has to be related to Valentine, Agent Collins was the agent in charge and Scott had just received confirmation from forensics that Valentine had killed Robert.  But there were two things bothering him.  The first was that they wanted to talk about the message on the wall, a message he still hadn’t told Magnus about.

And secondly, did he really want to invite two of Magnus’ ex’s into his home.  Especially as Magnus hadn’t actually told him about Dorothea.  That piece of his past had been revealed by Camille and he’d never told Magnus what she had said.

“I can tell them to call you tomorrow Alexander” Magnus said softly, “You don’t have to speak with them here…”.

“No” he said quickly, deciding he just wanted this out of the way.  “I just… they might need to speak with me alone.  I can go down and meet them in the lobby?”.

“You’ll do not such thing” Magnus said firmly.  “It’s getting colder and you just relaxed.  I can always find something to do somewhere else in the loft.  But only if you want to talk to them love?”.

Alec nodded, “Yeah, it’s fine” and finished the remainder of his wine as Magnus went back to his cell.

“Send them up Ruby” he asked her then swiped off the APP.

“I am going to put coffee on” Alec said as he stood, taking his empty glass with him, padding barefoot into the kitchen.

“Is coffee a good idea?” Magnus called after him.

“I’m not drinking it” he called back, already pulling Magnus’ teas from the pantry once the coffee machine had started.

He lent the heels of his hands on the counter, shoulders hunch upwards, and stared at the wall cabinet in front of him, not really seeing it.  He thought about what they could be here for and, even though he knew he was getting ahead of himself, he started to wonder about his response if they asked him to join the investigation.  Jonathan Morgenstern wasn’t going to come after him again.  And did they know about Clary? Luke hadn’t mentioned if he was intending on sharing that news with anyone else, and it certainly wasn’t his place to do it.

He pulled his cell from his pocket and sent a text to his surrogate father, asking him if he had spoken to the FBI about Clary’s parentage and advising them that Valentine could have been the one responsible for Jocelyn’s abduction.

He heard the door chime and Magnus’ steps as he went to answer it, low voices as he greeted the two officers and the door closing again.  He took a deep breath and walked the few steps to stand in the threshold between the kitchen and the lounge.

Magnus had his back to Alec, so he could see Dorothea studying his face.

“Quit joking Magnus” she said, her tone serious.  “Who did that to you?”.

Alec’s stomach fell.  Of course the bruising on Magnus’ face was till prominent, though healing.  He’d successfully covered it with make-up for the awards but whenever they were home he stripped the concealer off and used a heating pack as advised by Cat.

The guilt must have shown on his face as her eyes flicked over to him and the concerned frown turned to angry eyes.

“Magnus…” she said, her voice low.

“It’s not what you’re thinking Dot” he said kindly.

“It sure looks like it” she argued.

“It’s not” he replied.  “Now, may I take your coats?”.

She opened her mouth to argue, then closed it again at the glare she received.  But Alec could tell it wasn’t the end of the questions, she was just intending on asking them when Alec wasn’t there.

Woolsey spotted him and, although having similar thoughts, he decided to get the visit back on track

“Alec” he said his name in greeting, nodding his head.

Magnus immediately turned on his heel and gave his younger boyfriend a smile, “I’ll leave you three to it…”.

“We don’t need to banish you” Dorothea said with a wide smile.  “In fact, Magnus, your input would always be welcome”.

Magnus looked between the visitors and his boyfriend, Alec giving him a stiff smile and nod.

“Coffee?” Alec asked.

“Please” Dorothea answered coolly.

Woolsey was nodding, “White, two sugars” he answered.

“Black, four sugars” Dorothea asked and Magnus cringed.

“Really?” he said, “Still?”.

“You know me Magnus” she laughed, brushing her hand down his arm, “Only during an investigation”.

Alec swallowed, Camille’s words coming back to him as though she was speaking in his ear.  He works closely with someone pretty and falls for them’.  His eyes followed the movement of her hand until he then looked up and saw Magnus watching him, a soft frown on his brow.

“What?” the younger man asked, realising he had missed something.

“Do you need any help?” Magnus asked again, “With the drinks?”.

Alec shook his head, “No… do you want tea?” he asked.

“Please love” he answered, his eyes sparkling.

Alec turned, heading back to the coffee machine which had brewed enough for the two requested drinks.  He put them together then made him and Magnus their favourite evening teas before arranging all of the mugs on a tray and taking them through to the lounge.

Magnus had dropped back down into the corner of the couch while Dorothea and Woolsey had each taken one of the two armchairs that were placed to the left of the main seat.

Alec took the tray over and they retrieved their own mugs before he turned around and set the tray on the coffee table, next to the open bottle of wine and Magnus’ glass.  He took his and Magnus mugs, then sat down beside his boyfriend, passing him his own mug which he took with a grateful smile.

“We’re sorry to disturb your evening” Dorothea said, turning the mug around in her cold hands.  “We just wanted to speak with you about a few things in relation to the Morgenstern case”.

Alec remained silent, watching them as he sipped his tea.

Dorothea’s eyes flicked to Magnus for the briefest of moments before returning to the younger man.  “I met with Detective Scott about the forensics results from your fathers murder.  In confirming that Valentine was the only occupant of the room aside from commissioner Lightwood and his partner, we’re moving our base of operations to your precinct and integrating your father’s homicide.  Detective Scott and his team will be assisting us…”.

Alec’s phone went off, indicating a text, and he dug it out of his pocket to check the notification.  It was Luke, advising he had arranged for Clary to come into the station and meet with Youngblood, Bellefluer and Agent Collins the next morning.

He slipped his phone away again and turned his attention back to their visitors, seeing they were waiting for a response.

“I’m not sure what you need from me?” he answered honestly.  “I’ve given my statement about the night I found Robert.  I’ve spoken with your agents about my team’s original investigation and you have access to all of the files… what else so you need?”.

Dorothea looked at Woolsey, who lent forward with his elbows on his knees, linking his hands together.  “You said something to me, something that got me thinking.  You told me that I should hand the investigation off to the FBI, that you may have caught Valentine but the cost was high…”.

Alec tensed and, judging from the way Magnus’ attention snapped to him, he noticed it as well.

“I wasn’t aware of… what happened to you” he said carefully.  “I’m sorry…”.

“Did you read my file?” Alec asked with a calmness his heart wasn’t in agreement with.

Woolsey maintained his eye contact, “Yes” he said with confidence,

Magnus sat up a little straighter.

Alec chewed that over for a moment, his eyes on the floor while everyone else sat in a tense silence.

“Did you look through the evidence?” he asked, his voice growing colder.

“We both have” Dorothea spoke up.

Alec’s eyes, growing darker, looked at her and then back to Woolsey.  “And the photos?  Of my injuries”.

They both nodded.

His face flushed instantly, skin burning both with rage and shame.  The case was over, Jonathan Morgenstern was dead but it still seemed to never end.  Those photographs documented everything that had been done to him.  They laid him bare both physically and metaphorically, every inch of his naked form exposed and documented.  Subconsciously he drew his knees up, putting his heels onto the couch cushion, wrapping his arms around his shins, drawing into himself with the embarrassment of what they had seen.

“What the actual fuck!” Magnus shouted, slamming his mug onto the coffee table, the liquid slopping over onto the wood.

“Magnus…” Dorothea started, voice gentle.

“No, Dot!” he snapped angrily.  “What the fuck were you two doing looking at that file?”.

“We have every right to look at previous cases for possible leads” Dorothea explained, “You know that…”.

“Yeah” he turned his glare on his old colleague.  “But I also know that, as a courtesy to a fellow law enforcement officer, you could have… and should have… spoken to him first.  There are pictures that… you didn’t need to look at them all!”.

He was sat on the edge of the couch now, body almost vibrating with anger at the violation he knew Alec was feeling right now.

“Magnus, calm down” Dorothea instructed.

“Oh no” he rose steadily to his feet, stepping around Alec and moving towards them.  “No, you do not use our friendship like that.  Why didn’t you call him Dorothea?”.

Her professional mask went up.  “Because we’ve received an accusation that Alec withheld information from his abduction”.

There was silence.

Magnus remained standing, glaring at the two of them.  Alec sat on the couch with his hands round his knees, tea held firmly in one, the liquid growing cold.

“The same person has also accused you of withholding information about your father’s death” she added, a little more softly.

“Who?” Magnus snapped, even though he knew they couldn’t legally reveal their name.  Turns out they didn’t need to.

“Annemarie” Alec whispered.

Magnus turned to him, not quite catching what was said.  “Who?”.

“Annemarie” he said, a little louder and with a little more confidence.  “Dad’s partner”.

The older man sat down again, but this time on the other side of his boyfriend, subconsciously putting himself between the younger man and their visitors.  He placed his hand on Alec’s arm, wanting to help ground him.

“What makes you say that Alec?” Dorothea asked.

He turned his hazel eyes to her.  “She… accused me herself.  She said it was my fault and that ‘one of my lot’ did it…”.

“For you” Woolsey finished when Alec faltered.

Alec swallowed, then nodded.  “And… dad would have confided in her.  About… what happened… to me”.

“So you did withhold information?” Dorothea asked.

He sighed, running his free hand through his hair.  “Not exactly…”.

“Alec” Magnus said softly.  “You don’t have to do this now… here, like this”.

Alec turned to him and smiled, taking his hand and interlacing their fingers.  “It’s okay Magnus” he said before he turned back to the detective and agent.  “I didn’t withhold anything about the abduction…at the time.  I’d had a sever head injury and with the other trauma… I didn’t remember a lot of what happened while I was in that warehouse.  Bits and pieces would flash through occasionally, but nothing substantial”.

He paused, looking at Magnus again for some strength.  “When we were investigating Verlac’s crimes, we had forensic evidence that Jonathan Morgenstern could have been the killer but we couldn’t get a lead on him.  So, we went to speak to Valentine Morgenstern…”.

“This is all in your case file Alec” Woolsey interrupted.

“Let him speak Woolsey” Magnus told him, eyes flashing dangerously.

“Morgenstern said he would give us a lead, on the condition I recounted what had happened to me and brought him the pictures of my injuries to show him.  Only, I couldn’t remember anything, so…”.

“I asked Tessa to help him” Magnus jumped in when Alec drifted off again and he realised that Dorothea knew the name.

“She helped me recall the memories that my mind had buried.  And in there was the memory that it wasn’t just Jonathan Morgenstern who was there with me.  His mother was there as well”.

“Jonathan Morgenstern’s mother?” Dorothea reiterated, just to make sure she understood.

Alec nodded.  “Yes”.

“Fucking hell Alec” Woolsey swore, “Why didn’t you tell anyone about this when Valentine escaped.  This could be a lead!”.

He looked at his colleague, giving him an annoyed huff.  “Do you really think I don’t know that?” he snapped.  “But all I know is dark eyes, dark hair and red lips”.

The new lead detective’s shoulders sagged.

Dorothea, who had been ramping up to give him her own bollocking, also calmed.  “Anything else at all?”.

He shook his head, “No, that’s it.  And no one has looked harder into Valentine’s past more than me.  When I went back to speak to him he… inferred that there was no relationship.  She was… to him, just a physical fling.  He admitted that Jonathan was a disappointment to him… he didn’t even seem to like him”.

“And you’re father’s death?” Woolsey asked.

“I’ve already told you everything” he replied.

“Actually told us everything, or what you think we need to know” Woolsey responded sarcastically.

“Fuck you Woolsey” Magnus snapped.

“It’s a justified question Magnus, there is a pattern” his ex shot back.

“Okay, everybody calms down” Dorothea ordered.

“You don’t get to come into our home and treat Alec like he is suspected of something” Magnus told them, though his voice was calmer.

“You know everything I know” Alec told them.