Arms full with one of his quivers, Alec pushes the door open to Magnus’s apothecary. The bundle in his arms is a little unwieldy but this particular quiver wasn’t for going out in the field-- it was more of a collective place to rest all of his arrows, no matter if they were for demons, vampires, or just practice.
Dumping them next to Magnus’s desk, Alec rearranges the few books Magnus has sprawled out across the surface-- carefully marking what page his boyfriend had been on. Nodding a little to himself, he turns to the rows and rows of supplies that take up Magnus’s walls and the freestanding, open storage cabinets.
When he’d first asked Magnus if he could browse a little, maybe use a few of his ingredients, his boyfriend had been amused if nonplussed.
Go ahead, darling, he’d said. Just don’t blow yourself up.
Alec huffs out a laugh as he remembers the exchange. Magnus hadn’t asked too many questions and distantly Alec wonders if maybe he didn’t think that Alec was just asking out of curiosity, not really planning on making use of the apothecary that could be as personal to a warlock as their bedroom.
If Magnus had said no, Alec would’ve kept doing this at the Institute. He can’t pretend, though, that he isn’t happy to spend a quiet afternoon away from everyone while still being productive.
As he looks over the rows and rows of shelves, Alec picks out half a dozen ingredients. His search takes considerably longer than anticipated, however, as Alec lets himself be distracted by things he never wanted to see in a jar-- things he didn’t even know could be in a jar, for that matter.
Moon tears. Lizard nails. Hemlock.
Giving that a wide berth, Alec’s just turned his back when he freezes, reconsidering with a tilt of his head. Slowly, he turns back and grabs the vial of distilled poison.
Satisfied that he has everything he needs, Alec brings it back to Magnus’s desk before he’s off again, this time to the window seat. There are a dozen cauldrons in the storage space underneath and he grabs three cylindrical units.
Setting them up in a semi circle around his ingredients, Alec grabs the large quiver and lays it on the chair so that it can lean against the back. He takes the first arrow out-- with its sterling silver head-- as he slips his stele out of his pocket.
He spends the next hour refreshing the runes on the shafts. As always, it’s calming and Alec loses himself in the routine of it, his eyes trailing the glowing runes that signal swiftness and accuracy.
With each arrow he’d runed, Alec had placed it in a designated pile. There was one for almost every downworlder species as well as a few other categories besides. Once he’s finished with this first part, Alec takes the cauldron to this right and etches a few runes across it, watching as they light up against the black cast-iron and settle into place. In tune with the cauldron, Alec feels it hum against his palm, vibrating with angelic power.
Reaching for a jar of Wolfsbane, Alec pours a spoonful of the coarsely ground plant into the base. To that, he adds a few drops of ketamine. Alec watches as the runes heat up slowly, turning from dull gray to a silver blue as the contents heat up, slowly disintegrating into a pool of liquid.
Once everything is completely dissolved and the mixture has faded into a dull green, Alec takes the first arrow, submerging it into the cauldron. He holds the head and most of the shaft in the liquid for a few seconds before slowly pulling it out. He watches as the green sludge disappears into the arrow, as though melting under the surface.
The first arrow done, Alec sets it aside. From all appearances, it looks like the same arrow that it was before Alec dipped it into the poison. It’s even safe to touch with bare fingers. However, when it impales a rogue or feral werewolf, the painful serum will drip into the wolf’s body, acting as a paralysis as it enters the bloodstream.
It’s effective as hell even if it is a laborious process.
So, Alec finishes the silver arrows before moving onto the wood ones carved for vampires. It’s wood from the white elm tree, each arrow devastating for its sharpness, the way it's built to splinter in the chest cavity.
He works for a few hours, steadily going through the different types of arrows. He doesn’t do anything to the practice arrows that are in a variety of materials-- those go back in the quiver once he’s done runing them-- and they’re only a select few anyway, for Alec often likes to practice archery without using any runes. Nothing but his skill and sight leading the arrow to its dead center.
He’s just gathering the last few ingredients he needs to the last batch when he hears footsteps approaching the apothecary. Alec doesn’t look up, though, too intent on uncorking the stopper for the Botulinum vial.
“What are you doing, Alexander?” Magnus’s voice is bemused though there’s also a fair amount of skepticism in his tone. Alec doesn’t look up as he replies, using a miniature stopper to draw a dozen drops from the vial, pouring it into the third cauldron one drop at a time.
“I’m working,” he says easily, retracing the fireproof rune on the side. This particular mixture could be a little volcanic as the acid ate away at the other ingredients.
“And what are you working on,” Magnus asks, and Alec hears him step closer. Looking up, he sees his boyfriend eyeing the desk warily as if expecting something to jump out at him.
“I’m reinforcing my arrows,” Alec answers absently, reaching for a quarter brick of Adamas. It’s in a raw form that can be found in most weapon’s master workshops. Alec kept a personal stash, though, for just this ritual. The Adamas, when in brick form, was purer than anything else that could be found outside of the Iron City.
Coming over to his side, Magnus peers over his shoulder, down at the cauldron that was bubbling ominously. It was a slow simmer as the Adamas melted into liquid light, coiling around the drops of venom, the top of the mixture foaming lightly.
Magnus watches silently as Alec grabs an Adamas-tipped arrow and dips it into the solvent. There’s a low hiss but when Alec slowly drags the arrow out, it shines cleanly.
Seeing Magnus’s mouth part, Alec speaks into the silence first. “The Adamas in the cauldron binds to the Adamas that makes the arrow head. It’s a cleaner layer of film, then, and virtually undetectable until it collides with demon flesh.”
“Fascinating,” Magnus mutters. He looks at the arrow in Alec’s hand before making a show of studying the neat piles over the desk. “You’ve been at this awhile,” he asks dryly.
Alec nods. “The afternoon,” he confirms. “It’s soothing, runing the arrows, cleaning them if need be before coating them in a mixture.”
“I think you mean potion, darling.” Before Alec can protest, Magnus is continuing, “You’re using magic-- your runes that run on angelic power-- and ingredients, most of which seem to be from my apothecary.”
“You had everything I needed,” Alec says defensively. “It’s more convenient than going to the apothecary shop in Queens.”
Magnus waves that away. “I told you that you could use this room and I meant it, even if I never dreamed you’d actually be able to make your way around everything.”
“What did you think I wanted in here for?”
Shrugging, Magnus merely offers, “I thought you were being your usual lovely self and just wanted to learn more about this side of me.”
Alec puts down the arrow before sharply backing away whenever Magnus makes to move closer. Holding his hands up, Alec just jerks his head to the sink in the corner and his boyfriend rocks back on his heels with a quiet, “Ah.”
Heading over to the corner of the apothecary to wash his hands, Alec calls out over his shoulder, “Okay, so maybe potion does make sense for what I was doing.”
“I’m telling you, darling, based on the little I just walked in on, you would've made a very clever warlock, indeed.” Carefully, he raises an arrow with a faint orange tinge up to eye level, studying it curiously. “How did you even start doing this? I thought most shadowhunters just cleaned their weapons on their pants leg before heading off to the next job.”
Drying his hands on a towel, Alec turns back and walks back over the desk, flipping the towel on his shoulder in a haphazard manner that does not make Magnus find the man in front of him even more attractive than usual.
Alec slides his arms around Magnus’s waist, pulling him close before replying, “I was fifteen or so when I was out on a mission. I was fighting a Dormai demon and my arrow went right where the equivalent of their jugular would be. However, the damned things heal so fast that before I could send a kill shot or even move closer for combat, it had pulled the arrow out of its thigh and sealed the wound. I barely made it out of that fight-- and I didn’t do so unscathed.”
He winces. “I broke four ribs and had a gash on my arm that ended up with a nasty infection. I was in the infirmary for two days following that particular assignment.”
With a small noise of sympathy, Magnus pulls him closer, laying a kiss on his waiting mouth.
“Poor baby,” his boyfriend mutters before smiling and arching a brow. “Let me guess,” he says dryly. “You spent the entire two days brainstorming.”
“What else was I supposed to do,” Alec asks reasonably. “I actually watched a documentary on these frogs in South America that can kill a man with, like, a microgram of poison. It got me thinking that I could do something similar with the demons.”
“How Isabelle-esque of you,” Magnus teases.
“Hey, I scored top of my class at the Academy in combat strategy.”
“Oh, I had no doubts, Alexander,” Magnus primly retorts.
Alec clearly sees him biting back laughter but just huffs out a breath, letting his arms tighten around his boyfriend before continuing his explanation.
“Anyway, I needed something that could act as both a paralysis and was painful as shit. I tested a few different formulas but I landed on the one I use now without too much trouble and I’ve been using it ever since. I do this about once a month, depending on my patrol schedule.”
Magnus listens intently to Alec and he can see his boyfriend’s mind moving as fast as lightning behind those wonderful eyes he loves so much. It only takes a second for Magnus’s eyes to dart to the neat piles littering the desk surface.
“What are all of these other ones, then?”
Grimacing a little, Alec bites his lip as he considers Magnus. He’ll tell his boyfriend the truth because anything else would be blasphemy but he has to admit that he’s worried about his reaction.
“Those are specialized formulas for certain groups of downworlders.”
Instead of recoiling like Alec had expected, Magnus keeps his thoughtful expression. “That’s damned near ingenious, Alec. Have other shadowhunters adopted this practice?”
Alec shrugs. “Not really,” he answers. “We usually just maintain our runes on our weapons. Most shadowhunters think anything more than that is unnecessary. Angelic power is all we should need, after all,” he ends sardonically. “Angel forbid we try to augment that power and give ourselves another advantage over an enemy.”
“Well,” Magnus says, pausing for a moment to pull Alec down for a kiss. “How lucky I am, then, that you have such a wonderful mind and that you aren’t afraid to try new things.”
“It’s common sense,” Alec tries to argue but Magnus hushes him before he can say anything else.
“Maybe it is a natural trail of thought to follow,” Magnus allows, “But that doesn’t mean you had to research and put in the leg work to fortify your arrows. Watching you make a potion, realizing its purpose, was fascinating, darling. You seemed so intent on the cauldron, so meticulous in your measurements.” His lips quirk. “It was like you were in your own little world and I was fortunate enough to see it.”
Alec smiles a little, shifting his hands so that they rest low on Magnus’s back. “I’m nothing compared to you,” he says. “I could watch you work in here for hours.”
Laughing, Magnus lays his hands on Alec’s chest and Alec doesn’t try to stop himself from leaning into the touch. “And you have,” he says. He waves behind him. “That’s the whole reason I brought a chair in here. Now that I know you can find your way around here, though, I might put you to work.”
“Oh yeah,” Alec asks softly, grinning.
“Yeah,” Magnus breathes and Alec can’t resist anymore.
He pulls Magnus closer and their kiss this time is soft but lingering. It’s his favorite way to end a workday, coming home to Magnus and kissing him. It’s a start to their time and he never tires of this little ritual.
When he pulls away, Alec doesn’t open his eyes immediately. Instead, he seeps into the quiet that’s settled over the room, the easy contentment. When he does open his eyes, however, it’s to see Magnus already looking at him.
Or, rather, he’s studying him, eyes flitting across Alec’s face like he’s trying to solve a puzzle. “You’re always surprising me, aren’t you?”
It’s a question that’s become a sort of joke to them but it’s yet another little thing that makes Alec feel like he’s sitting in front of a hearth, golden fire lapping over him and warming his bones.
“In good ways I hope?”
“Oh, the very best,” Magnus assures him.
Alec laughs and lets himself be pulled closer. Work’s forgotten in favor of much more interesting ways to pass the time and if Magnus finds a sock under his desk the next afternoon, than no one has to know why but him.