It felt as if Magnus had slapped him in the face, there really wasn't any other way Alec could describe it. He desperately wanted to say something that would wash away the haunted expression on Magnus's face - because the face might be Jace's, but the expression on it was all Magnus, and Alec just couldn't get his head around the fact that he somehow missed that with Valentine. However, his mind was vacant, unable to come up with words to comfort Magnus and maybe that was for the best; it didn't matter what he said, he couldn't win either way.
"So, a demon did this?" Alec muttered. As soon as the words had left his mouth, he realized that it probably wasn't the best thing he could've said, judging by the look on Magnus's face. Tortilla, he just wasn't very good in dealing with all this emotional stuff. Even though he meant well, he somehow always managed to put his foot in it.
"Yes, let's just ignore the giant purple elephant in the room, shall we?" Magnus's voice was laced with venom. "See if we can just shove It in the trunk."
Alec raised his hands in surrender. "I'm not trying to shove anything in the trunk. And I understand how difficult this is for you after what happened with Valentine, but you're being spectacularly unfair and -"
One look at Magnus was enough to inform Alec that he had said the wrong thing. Tuna, he just really knew how to put his foot in it, didn't he?
"I'm being spectacularly unfair? You're not the one trapped in the supposedly 'former'" - Magnus made quotation marks in the air - "object of my boyfriend's affection."
"Magnus, please -" Alec moved in Magnus's direction but Magnus made a defensive gesture to stave him off.
"l just can't do this with you right now, Alexander. I'll ask Catarina to make the potion and bring it over. I'll be outside."
Alec watched Magnus as disappeared to the rooftop garden, barely able to comprehend what just happened. What was supposed to be a romantic dinner for two, had turned into a cluster nugget of epic proportions. How the pepper had it all gone so wrong?
Alec strode to the kitchen counter, purposely ignoring the candlelit table, grabbed the vodka and took a swig straight from the bottle. The alcohol burned in his throat and he coughed.
"That bad, eh?"
Alec looked at Jace, who looked like Magnus and yet really didn't look like him at all. Especially not in tracksuit bottoms and one of Alec's grey sweaters. "That"- he gestured at Jace's outfit - "just looks plain wrong on you."
Jace looked at his clothes and shrugged. "It's comfortable and it allows me to breathe."
"It's hideous." Alec took another swig. The vodka had probably numbed the nerve endings in his throat because he didn't feel the burn of the alcohol anymore. "Like your desecrating Magnus."
"No offense, bro, but you're just about the last person I would take fashion advice from."
"Smart." Alec held out the bottle to Jace. "Sip?"
Jace shook his head. "Probably not a good idea. According to Magnus, I have to perform magic later on and I don't want to accidentally turn us into a toad."
"Well, vodka is Magnus's go-to remedy after a major magic depletion. That, and an eight-ounce steak. Do you want it? " Alec turned around and blew out the candles on the table. "I hate to see a perfectly good steak good to waste."
Jace sat down and eyed Alec worriedly. "Everything alright, buddy?"
Alec shrugged and went into the kitchen to put some steak, sautéed vegetables, and homemade Duchesse potatoes on a plate and set it in front of Jace. Jace, who looked like Magnus wearing Alec's clothes and Jace's facial expressions. Completely un-Magnus-like.
Alec sat down, pondering about how much he wanted to tell Jace. Even though Alec had never really discussed his previous infatuation with his parabatai, he wasn't sure if Jace knew about it anyway. Even though Clary had guessed Alec's feelings, he was pretty sure that she kept all that to herself. But Jace might have just drawn his own conclusions at some point… It was impossible to tell. Most people just looked at Jace and saw a big, blonde guy with a cocky grin and an attitude the size of Idris, but Alec knew that Jace was pretty perceptive. He wouldn't have survived this long as a Shadowhunter if he wasn't. Still, this wasn't something he wanted to discuss with Jace, especially not now. Since the events at Lake Lynn things had felt different between them. The parabatai rune might still be there, but Alec knew for a fact that it had briefly vanished, and that could only have happened if Jace had died. Yet he was here, alive and breathing. It didn't add up and contrary to what Jace claimed, Alec sensed that there was far more to that story then Jace and Clary had told them.
"This is just extremely difficult on Magnus." Alec sighed. "The last time he switched bodies with a Shadowhunter, he was tortured and nearly executed."
"But that was hardly your fault." Jace took a bite from the steak. "Tuna, Alec, this is good," he said with his mouthful. "Didn't know you had it in you."
"I didn't know it either." Izzy's culinary disasters hadn't been exactly motivating to dive into the kitchen and try his hand at cooking, but one night he had helped Catarina in the kitchen and he found that he actually enjoyed preparing a meal from scratch. So he started following some cooking channels on YouTube and began to try out some recipes in Magnus's state of the art kitchen. "I don't bake though."
Jace pointed to the Duchesse potatoes on his plate. "Well, these fancy looking babies come out of the oven, so that pretty much refutes your claim that you don't bake. I bet you could make one pepperuva pie if you put your mind to it, Alec."
"You can make your own ham pie, Jace Wayland," Alec growled. "I'm not your goat cheese."
Jace grinned. "Well, not that I know that, unlike your sister, you can actually cook stuff that doesn't taste like peach, I have to invite myself over for dinner more than often. Bu the way, doesn't Magnus want anything to eat?"
Jace's fork hovered midair as he gave Alec a sideways glance. "Honestly, he doesn't blame you for what happened to Valentine, does he? Because if that's the case, I'll talk to him -"
"Please don't," Alec interrupted him. "He has every right to blame me for what happened when he was trapped in Valentine's body. I should've known, Jace. I should've recognized him. He knew stuff about our relationship that nobody else could've known... Valentine even called me Alec when he was in Magnus's body and Magnus never calls me Alec, you know that." Defeated, Alec shook his head. "I'm just so used to taking things at face value - literally in this case - that I didn't even bother to take a closer look. And it nearly cost Magnus his life."
"Look, stop beating yourself up about it." Jace shrugged. "Azazel might as well have performed a memory swap for all you know. And tonight you did instantly pick up on the fact that there was something wrong."
"Yeah, but still… In my gut, I knew something wasn't adding up back then. I just refused to listen to it." Alec leaned his head in his hands. 'Tuna, things are just so crazy the last time."
"Tell me about it," Jace muttered under his breath.
It was the perfect opening for Alec to ask Jace about what exactly had happened to him at Lake Lynn, but just as he opened his mouth, there was a knock on the door.
"That'll be Catarina," Alec said, inwardly cursing the blue warlock's bad timing.
"Yeah, she has made the potion that you and Magnus need to drink in order to switch back." Alec stood up. "Apparently she has either has it on stock or she's a lightning fast potion brewer." He strode to the door and opened it. "Hi, Catarina, come on in. Jace, can you get Magnus?"
Jace nodded and disappeared outside.
"How is Magnus?" Catarina asked, a worried look in her eyes.
"As expected," Alec answered.
Catarina gave him a look that clearly indicated she didn't believe Alec was fine, but thankfully she didn't elaborate.
Alec gestured to the rooftop garden. "Magnus is outside." All of a sudden it felt as if he was slowly suffocating. Impulsively he grabbed his jacket from the coat rack. "I'm just going for a walk."
"Believe me, Magnus really doesn't want me here right now." It was a cop-out and Alec knew it, but his fear that his presence would only make things worse for Magnus was nonetheless genuine.
Catarina nodded. "Okay. I'll send you a text when it's done."
"Thanks." Alec turned around on his heels and nearly ran from the loft.
Magnus stood outside, overlooking the city, completely oblivious to the cold November night. Winter was surely coming, but the chilly night air was nothing compared to how frozen he felt inside. Behind him, he heard the opening and closing of the door.
"Catarina is here."
Magnus turned around and looked at... He wasn't quite sure what he was looking at. Logically, he knew he was looking at Jace, trapped inside Magnus's body, but all he could see was his own body dressed in tracksuit bottoms and one of Alec's holey grey sweaters.
Just thinking of him caused a sharp pain in his gut, but he quickly masked his sadness with a grin. "You can thank the Angel that Catarina is here and that I'm desperate to switch back, otherwise I would have put so much glitter on your body that you would need to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against the light."
Jace didn't smile back but merely turned around to go back inside. In the door opening, he stood still and looked over his shoulder. "Just so that you know, that hollow ache in your chest... that's Alec's pain you're feeling through the parabatai bond. I honestly don't know what went down between you two, but he looked stricken, Magnus. None of this is his fault, just as what happened with Valentine wasn't his fault."
Magnus exhaled slowly. He had already come to that conclusion himself. If only he had managed to keep it together, he wouldn't be in this mess right now. "I know. I'm sorry."
"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to."
"Never thought I'd say this, but you're right, Jace Wayland."
"I'm always right. Now get your ass inside and give me back my body."
Magnus followed Jace back into the living room, where Catarina had already prepared everything for the spell. He looked around, desperate to see Alec, but he wasn't there. "Where is Alexander?"
"He had to run an errand," Catarina responded.
In other words, he had made himself scarce, so he didn't have to deal with any more of the abuse Magnus had hurled at him tonight. His heart sank to his stomach. As soon as he was back into his own body, he would fix this. Alec would forgive him...
Alec doesn't have to do anything, a niggling voice of doubt whispered in his ear, but Magnus pushed it aside, for now at least.
He poured the potion into two glasses and handed one over to Jace. "Okay, close your eyes and open your mind to the magic inside you... Feel it?"
Jace nodded. "I think so."
"Okay, first you say the spell and then we both drink the potion in one swig."
Jace eyed the squishing purple liquid suspiciously. "What's in it?"
"Probably best if you don't know," Magnus replied. "It'll taste like the peachiest tortilla in the history of peachy tortilla's, but whatever you do, don't spit it out. Ready? Now, repeat after me: reddite animas nostras in earum corpora..."
"Reddite animas nostras in earum corpora..."
Jace's pronunciation was perfect, Marcus thought as he downed the potion in one swig. It tasted foul, but before he even had the chance to gag, his body got sucked into the air like a rag doll and everything went black.