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Brother, Let Me Be Your Shelter

Chapter Text

“Dean!” Sam’s voice was ragged and panicked over the snarl of the Impala’s engine. Dean’s calloused hand slammed against the steering wheel as he cursed under his breath, his eyes darting between each side mirror and the rearview. “They’re getting closer! We gotta figure something out!”

Dean mumbled “think” to himself repeatedly until he recognized his surroundings.

“Oh, come on.” He groused, ripping the wheel to the left. Sam complained absently as he slid slightly on the seat. Dean lead the Impala down a few familiar roads before skidding to a stop in front of the hulking ruins of a church.

“Uh, Dean?” Sam questioned, panic evident in his voice. “This isn’t exactly a good solution. Demons can still come into churches.”

“Just trust me, Sammy. Let’s go, move your ass.” Dean threw the door open and sprinted across the uneven cement steps in front of the church. His hand dug into the pocket of his canvas jacket until his fingers closed around piece of cool metal shaped like a pencil. When he withdrew it, the metal had lines cutting along the shaft of it and the top had what looked like a clear crystal attached.

Dean inhaled a sharp breath and began to draw the tip over his skin, ignoring Sam’s look of shock when stark, black lines began to rip across his skin with the look of burning embers in the wake of the crystal.

When he’d drawn what appeared to be an eye on the back of his right hand, he tucked the metal back into his pocket and pounded his flat palm against the door of the church.

“Open up, you son’s-a-bitches! There are demons out here, come on!” Silence answered him. He slammed his hand against the door again. “You owe me this! Open the damn door! Maryse! Robert!”

“Dean, where the hell are we? Who are you talking to?” Dean pointedly ignored Sam.

“You can’t just ignore your son! I’m a Lightwood and I am requesting access to the New York Institute! Let us in!”

“A Lightwood? What does that--.” Sam was cut off when, suddenly, the church shimmered around the edges like the feeling of waking from a dream and he was suddenly faced with a massive, intricate building that looked like it had been pulled from a painting. “Holy shit…”

Behind them, there was a roar of one of the demons that had been following them and both men spun on their heels, their guns lifting to their shoulders immediately. Dean didn’t flinch when the doors behind them opened and a shimmering whip cracked forward, the glowing strand of it wrapping around one of the two demons at the base of the stairs and tearing through its flesh until it disappeared in a plume of smoke. The other demon reared back with its gnarled teeth bared, but a silver arrow tore through his throat and he was gone as well.

Dean lowered his gun slowly, his green eyes surveying the area for more demons. He barely had a chance to relax when he heard a voice that he hadn’t in years, but one that was still all too familiar behind him.

“Dean?” It was all to easy to remember the voice squeaky with youth and excitement. He took a steadying breath and turned to face the man in front of him with a cocky smile.

“Hey, Alec.” He greeted casually, resting his sawed-off against his shoulder. “You got taller, little brother.”


“Dean, what are you…where have you been?” Alec stammered, raking his hands through his messy black hair. After being ushered inside the Institute, Alec had dragged them down the halls to the briefing room where Dean was now leaning against the table with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Around. Making my way through the country with Sammy, taking out demons that the Shadowhunters are missing.” Sam was staring between the two of them with his jaw hanging open with mild disbelief.

“It’s been….it’s been fifteen years, Dean. You didn’t call, you didn’t send a fire message. I thought you were dead.” Alec’s voice was tinged with anger as he spoke. Isabelle had been uncharacteristically silent through the exchange, but when Dean’s gaze caught hers, she automatically walked forward and pressed herself to him, her arms wrapping tightly around his waist. Dean’s arms went around her with a shuddered sigh, and he pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

“Hey, Iz.” He whispered, breathing in the scent of his sister and letting his eyes close briefly. “I missed you.” Izzy nodded slightly against his chest before she pulled back and slapped the same spot, making him flinch.

“Don’t run off again. You hear me?” Dean chuckled softly and nodded.

“Can’t get rid of me twice.” Alec was staring skeptically, his eyes narrowed, and laser focused on Dean. “I’m sorry I left, Alec. I should’ve told you before I went, but I knew that you’d want to come with me, and I couldn’t have taken care of you. Leaving was the best option. That’s not an excuse for not telling you, but it’s why I did what I did. And I’ve missed you guys ever since.”

Alec’s silence stretched between them for what seemed like an eternity before he stepped into the circle of Dean’s arms, leaning down slightly to hug his brother in a crushing embrace.

“Don’t go again. She couldn’t handle it.” Alec’s voice wasn’t loud enough for anyone else to hear, and Dean couldn’t help the clench in his chest when Alec added, “Neither could I.” When Alec pulled back, Dean cuffed him lightly on the chin with a suspiciously damp sounding chuckle.

“When did you get taller than me? I’m supposed to be the big brother. This is just rude. You and Sammy both. Brothers and adopted brothers are not supposed to outgrow their older siblings, that’s law.” Alec smirked and pulled a half shrug in response. “Speaking of adopted brothers…where’s Jace?” The question was laced with caution. Shadowhunters historically didn’t always live long and Dean was secretly concerned about seeing pain across Alec’s face.

“He’s with Clary, they’re on patrol.” Isabelle supplied. Dean raised an eyebrow curiously. “Oh! Right! You haven’t met Clary. You’ll love her, she’s great. And Magnus! You have to meet Magnus. He’s a warlock.”

“And my boyfriend.” Alec added softly, his gaze catching Dean’s with a heavy weight to it. Dean simply smiled.

“Well, then I have a Shovel Talk to have with this warlock, don’t I?”

“I’m sorry to break up this…reunion, but can someone please tell me what the hell is going on?” Sam interjected, throwing his hands up in exasperation.

“I, uh,” Dean scrubbed a hand over his face wearily before looking at Sam. “This is my family. My little brother, Alec, and my little sister, Isabelle. The Lightwoods.”

“What the hell do you mean your family? I’m your family…I’m your brother.” Dean nodded slowly.

“You are my brother. My adopted brother. Alec and Isabelle are blood.” Sam stared at him silently, obviously waiting for him to continue. “When I was fifteen, I ran away from my family. My father and mother were trying to convince me to do something that would have been catastrophic, so I left. Alec and Izzy were just kids. And Jace.”

“But you…I remember you being there my whole life. Dad has pictures of you when you were a kid.” Sam shook his head in disbelief.

“I worked with a warlock to put that in place. She helped me to make Dad think that I had been there forever. Both of you. I’m sorry that I never told you, Sammy, but you have to know that I would have told you if I could have. If I brought it up, the glamour would’ve worn off.”

“Glamour? What the hell does that mean? What’s happening?!” Sam was getting louder by the second and Dean reached out a hand to steady the other man. He couldn’t hide the flinch when Sam ripped his arm away and glared at Dean. He pointed at the mark on the back of Dean’s hand. “And that. What’s with the weird tattoo?”

“It’s not a tattoo. It’s a rune. Shadowhunters use them to enhance their natural abilities to be better, faster, and stronger.” Izzy supplied helpfully. At least Dean was sure that was the intention, instead it earned her a glare from Sam.

“A….Shadowhunter. What the hell does that even mean?”

“It’s a race. Humans mixed with Nephilim. They’re a race that was born to protect mundanes from the shadow world.” Alec replied.

“If you think that explains things, I have news for you.” Dean sighed loudly.

“Demons, warlocks, werewolves, vampires. Downworlders. That’s what they mean. We’re the race that keeps demons and their BFF’s from chowing down on the average Joes.”

“Mundanes? We? Dean, this isn’t you. You’re my brother. You’re a hunter.”

“I am. But, I’m also a Shadowhunter. And I’m also their brother. I know that this is probably hard to understand, but--.”

“It’s not hard to understand, Dean. Think about all the crazy shit that we’ve seen over the years. There’s not a whole hell of a lot that I would consider hard to understand.” Sam shook his head slightly before turning his gaze back on Dean. “I just don’t know why you didn’t tell me sooner.”

“It was to protect you. You gotta believe that, man. If you’d known about all this, about what I really am? You’d have been in danger. You and dad.”

“For once you’re speaking some sense.” Came a voice from the other side of the room and every head turned toward it. Dean froze, the tension in his shoulders obvious.

“Robert.” He croaked out, cursing the fact that his voice quivered.

“Robert, is it? I suppose that a decade and a half changes how you view a person, but the last time we spoke, I was ‘father’ to you still, Dean.” Robert walked closer, his arms behind his back when he began to circle Dean.

“Yeah, well. The last time we spoke wasn’t exactly high up on the good memory list, so you’ll forgive me if I tried to push aside the fact that we share blood.” Robert quirked a brow slowly.

“I see your mother’s personality still runs through you like wildfire.” As if on cue, Maryse Lightwood emerged from the same door her husband had and she stood stalk still, her eyes laser focused on Dean.

“Mom.” Dean breathed out, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides frantically. He wanted to run to her, to feel his mother’s arms around him again, but her ridged posture made his feet feel like cinder blocks.

“Do my eyes deceive me?” Maryse questioned softly, and he wished that he could read her tone better. He shook his head jerkily.

“No, I,” Dean cleared his throat and tried again. “No. I’m here.”

“Bold of you to return after abandoning your family the way you did.” Her words stung like a dagger in the gut, but the tears that she was obviously trying to contain gave him hope. “Come here.”

Dean’s feet were moving before he could convince himself that it was a bad idea, and he was stepping into Maryse’s open arms. He couldn’t remember the last time that she’d held him this way. Perhaps when he’d been sick as a very young child, but Maryse Lightwood was not quite the “warm and fuzzy” type of parent.

“I missed you.” He mumbled out where his face was pressed to her shoulder, his arms sliding around her and clutching the black fabric of her dress for all that he was worth. He inhaled the scent of patchouli and mint, the scent that he’d always associated with fleeting affection from his mother, and he had to swallow around the lump in his throat.

“Oh, my boy, I’ve missed you too.” Maryse’s voice was soft against Dean’s temple and her hands trailed his back a bit awkwardly. He clung to her, reluctant to let go after fifteen years without her.

“Maryse is hugging someone…who died? And who’s the giant?” Dean knew that voice, it had been the one that he had heard through the halls while its owner had chased Alec through the halls when they were “training”.

He straightened up and turned to face the doorway, keeping quiet and waiting for a response from the blonde man in front of him. Jace had grown into a tall, broad man (not that he could be surprised, it had been quite a while since he’d seen his adopted brother), but there was still a glint in his golden eyes and the quirked lips of a cocky smile that screamed Jace Wayland.

The sound of Jace’s gear bag hitting the floor echoed through the now silent room like a gunshot, startling the, admittedly adorable, redhead beside him. His boots thudded loudly as he strode toward Dean, who braced himself for a punch that was sure to knock him off his feet.

Instead, what he got was a bear hug of epic proportions and a snarled “fuck you for leaving, asshole” with a suspicious sniffle against his ear. Dean folded his arms around Jace equally as tight, not giving half a damn that he couldn’t breathe.

“Missed you too, pretty boy.” Dean chuckled, his chest warm with affection. He had his family back. His whole family.

Chapter Text

“A wendigo nest?! Are you serious?” Jace was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, and excited grin plastered to his face. “How’d you take them out?”

Dean sipped at the beer in his hand slowly, a grin playing on his lips as he did so. Once Maryse had gotten past the shock of seeing her son standing in front of her, she’d grilled him and Sam for a few hours before letting them go see his siblings. They’d all ended up in the library, which had always been his favorite room in the Institute, with drinks and a crackling fire behind them while they draped themselves over the couches.

“Flare guns.” Alec scoffed good-naturedly, his arms crossed over his chest. “What? You’d have done it differently?”

“Well, I mean. Yeah. Corner them in their nest and set fires at the entrances.”

“That would’ve worked, except that we were inside their nest and we had to get two victims out. Trust me, man, that would’ve been way easier. I’d have gotten torn up less.”

“I knew that you were out there doing something awesome. I used to tell Alec that all the time.” Jace’s voice had softened when he spoke again. Dean looked over at him and he was toying with his hands absently. “When, uh, when we were kids, I used to think about you a lot. I’d tell Alec all these insane stories about what I thought you were doing.” Hearing it was like a shot to the chest, even as a child Jace had been so sure of himself and wise beyond his years, so hearing this made Dean realize how much his leaving had affected his siblings.

“He was so convinced that you were off fighting dragons for a while that he used to carve dragons into anything he could to try to convince you to come back and fight them.” Dean felt his stomach clench again and he reached a hand out to settle on Jace’s knee, squeezing it lightly.

“I thought about you guys every day, you know. Every time we came back through New York I’d stand out front and stare at the Institute as long as I could. I wanted so damned bad to just…pound on the door, drag the three of you out, and take you with me. I wanted us to run and not look back.”

“Why didn’t you?” Izzy questioned,

“Because I knew that this is where you guys belonged. You three are born to be Shadowhunters, I couldn’t take that from you.”

“We’d have gone.” Dean lifted his gaze to Alec. “If you’d have asked, we’d have gone with you. You’re our brother.”

“I know, man. ‘Course I know that. That’s why I couldn’t ask you to. Besides,” He gestured with the beer bottle to where Sam was passed out on the larger couch, his hair hanging into his face and making him look younger. “He needed me too. He may not be my blood, but Sammy is my brother as much as any of you.”

“He seems like a good guy. Despite all of the things that you guys seemed to have gone through.” Jace sipped his own drink around the words, blessedly not pointing out the fact that he wasn’t Dean’s blood either.

“He is. Hell, he’s one of the best men that I’ve ever met. That’s the thing with mundanes; They can take so much….crap and just keep pushing like their entire world isn’t falling apart. It’s incredible.”

A comfortable silence fell over them all before Dean clapped a hand on his leg and stood. The sound made Sam jump awake and scowl at him.

“Well, now that we’re all significantly bummed, is my blade still here or did it get recycled?”


The weapons room looked and smelled exactly like he remembered, and Dean inhaled deeply with a smile.

“Home sweet home.” He smirked, turning in a circle with his arms outstretched. “Where’s Hodge? That dude never sleeps, so he has to be around here somewhere. Hodge! Where you at, ya old bastard?” There was a chuckle in Dean’s voice as he peered around the room, looking for his mentor eagerly. The smile fell from his face when he caught the look on Alec’s face. “…What?”

“Hodge, uh,” Alec’s hand came up to scratch at the back of his neck nervously. “He was working with The Circle still. He betrayed us. He’s dead.” Dean felt his shoulders droop.

“You’re fucking with me, right?” Silence. “You’re serious…but, he trained us. He made us Shadowhunters. How the hell…”

“I know, Dean, I know it’s hard to imagine, but he did. We were fighting Valentine and Hodge gave him the Mortal Cup to get out of here. He was only sticking around until he had the opportunity to break the curse that tied him to the Institute.”

“What a dick.” Dean grumbled. He caught Sam’s gaze and waved off the look of concern there.

Alec tapped part of the wall and a drawer full of weapons slowly slid free, catching Dean’s interest. All thoughts of Hodge quickly left his mind when he saw a silver handle that was so familiar to him his palm ached.

“Well, hello there, gorgeous. Did ya miss me?” His calloused fingers curled around the hilt of the blade and he leaned close to whisper the blade’s name in a rough voice. “Samael.” The blade practically howled as it flared to life and Dean reveled in the familiar vibration up his arm.

It was an intricate Seraph Blade with etched flames along the handle and runes littering the blade. Dean slashed the air a few times before spinning the blade in his hand comfortably.

“Looks like it remembers you.” Alec commented quietly. When Dean caught his brother’s gaze, Alec was grinning smugly. “Want to see if you still remember how it works?”

“Oh, man, I thought you’d never ask. Let’s see what you’ve got.” Dean took a few steps back onto the illuminated floor of the training room while Alec grabbed his own blade, whispering “Michael” to the blade so that it flared to life. “Step back, Sammy, this could get interesting.” Sam took an obedient step back until he was standing between Jace and Isabelle. Clary was standing on Jace’s other side, but she hadn’t really said much past an introduction, choosing instead to let the brothers get reacquainted.

“I’ll go easy on you until you regain your bearings.” Alec said graciously, tossing the blade between his hands a few times.

“No need to go soft on me, man. Bring it.” He felt a surge of adrenaline when he saw Alec’s predatory grin.

“If you say so, old man.” And with that, he lunged, his long arms bringing the blade forward in an attack. Dean dodged easily and side-stepped Alec’s swipe. He bounced on the balls of his feet a few times, one hand up defensively and the other clenched around his blade.

With a small grunt, Alec stepped forward again and Dean brought up his blade to block the attack. The metal sang out when they connected and Dean leaned into the contact, gritting his teeth.

“Gotten stronger, huh?” He ground out and eyed Alec. His brother chuckled, leaning his own weight into the blade.

“That’s what happens when you train all day.” Dean took the slight distraction as an opportunity to throw his body weight forward, pushing Alec back a few feet. His hand shot out to try to swipe Alec’s blade from him, but the movement left him vulnerable and he found himself on his back when Alec’s longer leg hooked under his own and knocked him to his back.

Dean barely had a moment to comprehend the new perspective of staring at the ceiling before Alec was on him, his Seraph blade raised over his head.

“Concede.” Alec growled out, obviously having fallen into his training mindset. Dean’s hand moved, lighting fast, and the point of his blade was pointed at the base of Alec’s throat.

“Don’t hesitate, little brother. Kill ‘em quick and kill ‘em clean. He who hesitates gets his throat cut.” Alec rolled his eyes and easily levered himself off of Dean, extending his hand to help the other man to his feet.

“Dean, I’ve never seen you do anything like that. That was…amazing.” Sam’s voice was soft with awe from the side of the floor. Dean turned to face him with a smug grin, and he rested his blade on his shoulder.

“Well, you know that I’m amazing already, Sammy. That’s not news.” Sam scowled at him.

“What kind of sword is that?”

“Seraph Blade.” Clary supplied helpfully, her voice cheerful.

“And what did you say when you picked it up?”

“Samael. It’s what I named the blade when Hodge…when I got it.”

“You’ve got to name the blade to make sure that it recognizes you. That’s the only way that they work.” Jace said, grabbing another one of the blades and holding it up to demonstrate that the metal was dull and dark in stark contrast to the shining blade of Dean’s.

“And you chose to name your blade after Lucifer…” Sam snorted softly before gesturing to Alec’s. “And yours?”

“Michael.” Sam busted out a genuine laugh in response to that, earning curious looks from the rest of the group. Dean waved them off, laughing himself.

“That’s a story for when I’m not dead on my feet. But, we’ll tell you all, I promise. For now, you guys got some spare beds where we can crash until morning?”

“Yeah, I’ll show you to the guest bunks. You guys can stay as long as you need. As long as you want.” The implication that Alec wanted them to stay as long as possible was heavy in his tone as he started out of the training room and brought them to the bunks. “Don’t sleep in too late, you know when breakfast starts, and you don’t wanna miss it.” Dean’s eyebrows shot up excitedly.

“Pancake day?” He questioned. Alec grinned.

“Pancake day.”


“You’re good at this stuff.” Sam’s voice was quiet in the dark of the dorm room. Dean held his breath, waiting to see if there was more. “I always just thought that you were a good hunter because you’d done it so long with dad, but…that’s not it, is it? It’s cause of…all this.”

“Yeah. Shadowhunters start training when they’re really young. I was hunting demons and taking on missions when I was ten. All the stuff that dad had me doing was child’s play, but it made him proud.” Dean turned onto his side and stared at Sam’s bunk despite the darkness. “Just because I didn’t actually grow up with dad doesn’t mean I didn’t love him and you. You know that, right?”

“I know, man, I know. I just…there’s the whole side of you that I had no clue about. Why’d you leave?”

“That’s…a long story. Dad and Robert aren’t really that different. It’s part of why I chose him. Familiarity and all that.” Sam hummed in understanding. “I’ll explain it all to you, Sam, I promise. Just. I need some time to process again. We’ll talk to them tomorrow about the gateway and see if they can help us with closing it. Maybe their warlock can do something that we can’t.”

“And you’re sure that we can trust them? I mean, you’ve been gone for almost two decades, Dean, and they just let you waltz back in like it was nothing. Anywhere else you’d still be running through questioning about where you’ve been for the last half of your life.”

“They’re my family, man, of course I can trust them. And you can trust me, so we’re all good. This is our best option right now, so we gotta take it.”

“Alright, alright. Just…be careful, okay? I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“Trust me.” **********

“I take it all back. I trust them implicitly.” Sam mumbled around a mouthful of pancake the next morning. He was hunched over the table and shoveling pancakes and strips of bacon into his mouth like he was starved. Alec snorted softly and sipped at his coffee.

“Hey, they’ll let you have more, don’t make yourself sick. Dean, are you not feeding the poor kid?” Jace questioned, chewing his bacon obnoxiously as he spoke.

“Homemade pancakes are better than shitty diner food.” Dean shrugged, swallowing down some of his own coffee. “And chew with your mouth closed, you animal.”

Jace stuck his tongue out to show the chewed food on it, to which Dean responded by flicking a stray piece of pancake off his plate to land solidly on Jace’s tongue. He threw his hands over his head in a “field goal” motion.

“It’s good!” Jace scrunched his face up but swallowed the food down anyway. Alec’s laugh was loud and carefree like Dean hadn’t heard in far too long.

“While I do love seeing all of my children together again, do try to maintain some semblance of composure.” Maryse’s voice had them all snapping to attention. Alec was out of his seat with his arms crossed behind his back before Dean could blink.

“Mother.” He greeted, nodding his head slightly in an aborted bow.

“You can relax, Alec, I’m only here to see how Dean and Sam are settling in.” A blush dusted Alec’s cheeks and he took his seat again.

“We’re good, Mom.” Dean smiled up at Maryse, leaning into her hand on his shoulder instinctively.

“That’s good to hear. When you’re finished eating, the Inquisitor will be arriving from Alicante soon and would like to speak to you. He has some questions.” Dean nodded with a soft sigh.

“I figured that was going to be happening sometime soon.”

“I tried to put it off as long as I could, but they knew that you’d arrived as soon as you entered the Institute.” He nodded slightly in response and stood, grabbing his tray off the table.

“Guess I better get this over with, hm?” Sam looked at Dean, a little panicked. “Sammy, you hang tight with Jace and Clary, they can show you around the Institute. Jace, try not to scare him too much, huh?”

“I’ll do what I can.” Jace shrugged in response.

“Alec, can you do me a favor and pull my car into the garage? I want to check her over when I’m done.” Alec gave Dean a mildly terrified look and stammered a few times. “…You can’t drive, can you?”

“I, uh, no.”

“Alright. When I’m done, I’ll pull her in, and you can come watch.” Dean took a steadying breath and gestured broadly with his free hand to Maryse. “Lead the way.”

Chapter Text

“Dean Lightwood.” The Inquisitor’s voice echoed through the large office that they’d commandeered. Dean lifted a hand in a sarcastic wave.

“At your service, Mister Inquisitor. What can I do for you?” The man in front of him tapped his pen absently on the notepad in his lap and watched Dean through narrowed eyes.

“I see your personality has not changed over the last fifteen years.”

“If that’s what you’re waiting for, you should lower your expectations, I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.”

“Well, why don’t we just get started, then. Shall we?” Dean waved a hand in a “go on” motion. “Let’s start with something easy. Tell me your name.” Dean raised a brow. “Confirmation is necessary.”

“Fine,” Dean sighed, his arms crossing over his chest. “My name is Dean W…Lightwood.”

“And you disappeared fifteen years ago, is that correct?”

“I left fifteen years ago, yes.”

“Talk to me about where you went, Dean. What’s been keeping you so preoccupied for all this time?” The Inquisitor leaned back in the chair, obviously attempting nonchalance but the rigid set of his shoulders made it obvious he wasn’t as relaxed as he seemed.

“I’ve been hunting monsters with the Winchesters. Traveling the country, picking off the creatures that the Institutes have been missing.” Dean added after a moment, “Oh! Stopped the apocalypse a few years back, figured you guys might’ve heard about that one. Big epic battle that was supposed to happen between Michael and Lucifer? No? Huh, figured the Nephilim would’ve known about that.”

“We did, in fact, know about that. We’ve been informed for a few years on what you’ve been doing.”

“I’m sorry, you’ve been ‘informed’? You guys have been spying on me?” Dean leaned forward, his brow furrowing and his jaw clenching slightly.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it spying, you let our operative in with very little resistance. Your need for a family has always been your Achille’s heel, hasn’t it, Dean? That’s how you ended up with this ragtag little family that you’ve collected.” He flipped through a few pages in the notebook. “The game designer. Mundane paranormal show hosts. Demons. The Head of a Coven, that one I found particularly interesting. Oh, and the angel. Castiel.”

“I’m gonna need you to clarify the cryptic bullshit you’re trying to pull and tell me what’s going on…”

“You don’t find it odd that an angel wouldn’t have been able to detect that you’re of Nephilim decent? Really? If that’s true, you’re not nearly as clever as we thought.” Dean’s jaw hung open and his hands clenched reflexively at his sides several times, but he made himself stay seated in the chair.

“Cas.” His voice was rough, even to his own ears, as he spoke around the flood of bile hanging on the back of his tongue. “Did he know that’s what he was doing? Or did you trick him into thinking that he was on some righteous mission like you did to me when I was a kid?’

“Castiel is one of the best warriors that Heaven has ever seen. He does what he’s asked without questions and without more explanation.” The Inquisitor cleared his throat softly and shifted forward to rest his elbows on the desk. “That is, until he let you influence his better judgement. You really do like to cause all of the trouble that you possibly can, don’t you?”

“I do what I can, I guess.” The Inquisitor simply raised an eyebrow curiously. “Look, man, do you have other questions or is this just turning into some intimidation tactic again? I know that’s kinda your schtick, but I’d really rather be spending some time with my siblings, so if we could move this along…I’d appreciate it.”

“Fair enough. Tell me how you ended up with the Winchesters.”

“John, the father, he had just lost his wife and had just his newborn son, Sam. Azazel had taken out Mary, his wife, and I knew that he’d seen it. John was starting to get a look into the downworld. He wasn’t going to be able to take out demons by himself, he wouldn’t have stood a chance. He needed me.” Dean swallowed around the knot that had begun to form in his throat. “He was looking for a replacement for his family, even if he didn’t realize it. I met with a warlock, and she helped me to convince him that I’d always been there; That I was his son. It was simple after that, mundanes believe what they want to believe so easily. I pretended to let him teach me to hunt demons, I helped him raise his son, and the rest is history.”

“Isn’t that clever of you. You were able to put off them not uncovering this for years, that’s quite impressive.”

“I’m a regular Vegas magician. Are we done here?” Dean questioned irritably and stood, brushing his hands on his jeans. “Like I said, I have things that I’d like to be doing.” The Inquisitor gave him a forced smile.

“We’re done for now, Mister Lightwood, but ensure that you aren’t unreachable. I will have more questions.”

“That’s definitely the most pretentious version of ‘don’t leave town’ that I’ve ever heard. But, thanks.”

Dean turned on his heel and was out the door before the Inquisitor had a chance the respond.


“What’s this?” Sam questioned, lifting what looked like a coiled metal bracelet from its spot on the weapons table. Izzy gave him an amused smile every time he picked up a new piece of weaponry.

“Electrum whip,” She explained, reaching a hand to touch the snake’s head. “Demons can’t handle coming into contact with electrum. Want to see how it works?” Sam nodded eagerly and handed the whip over. His eyes widened as he watched the snake uncoil and drape down into a long whip.

With a cocky grin, Izzy cracked the whip against the glowing floor, sparks flying where it struck. She lifted the whip again and the snake seemed to coil around her arm, settling into its rightful place.

“Woah, that’s incredible. I’ve seen a lot of weapons, but nothing like the things you guys have here.”

“Nephilim take great pride in the weapons that we craft. I’m the weapons master for our Institute.” Izzy’s chest puffed a bit as she said it and Sam chuckled.

“Well, then the Institute is obviously in good hands. You seem to know what you’re doing.”

“Well, glad to see that you two are getting along.” Dean spoke from the door, causing them both to turn to look at him.

“Hey!” Izzy crossed the room to stand in front of him eagerly. “That was quick. How’d it go?”

“It went about how you’d expect a meeting with the Inquisitor to go. He pulled his tough guy act, I called him out on it, he brushed it off and told me not to leave town.” He tucked his hands into his pockets and rocked back on his heels. “So, ya know, all in all pretty par for the course.”

“Have you spoken to Alec about it?”

“I tried to, but I couldn’t find him. He wasn’t in his room or the briefing room, so I figured I’d come see if maybe you had some idea where he might be?”

The grin when Izzy said ‘I may have one’ should have been Dean’s clue that the answer was going to be interesting.


“So, your brother is back after fifteen years. How are you doing with that?” Magnus was seated on the arm of an expensive looking chesterfield, his fingers running through Alec’s hair where the other man was leaning against his side.

“It’s…I don’t know. I missed him. I mean, I really, really missed him. Having him back is almost like he never left.” There was enough of a pause that Magnus piped in.


“But, I’m scared he’s going to leave again. I don’t want to get used to having him with us just for him to figure out whatever the problem he’s got going on, and then walk away again.”

“Have you told him this?” Alec shook his head, his hair tickling Magnus’ side through his shirt. The warlock sighed quietly. “Alexander, you have to tell him. Or, at least, you should. He’s your family and he deserves to know how his decisions impact you.”

“You’re probably right.” Alec sighed, tilting his head back to look up at Magnus from his perch on the couch.

“I am absolutely right.” Magnus grinned and leaned down to brush his lips over Alec’s responding pout. “Hm, and it’s a good thing we’ve realized that,” He spoke against Alec’s lips quietly. “We’ve got company.” Magnus pulled back just as a knock sounded on the door. He waved a hand toward it with a flourish and it swung inward, revealing Izzy, Sam and Dean.

Alec was shocked that he didn’t have the normal impulse to jump to his feet that he usually felt when his parents walked into the room with him and Magnus.

“You must be the brother that I’ve heard so much about,” Magnus extended his hand toward Dean with a warm smile. “I’m Magnus.” Dean clapped his hand into Magnus’.

“Ah, you’re the warlock my little brother is shacked up with.” He gave Magnus a thorough once over before his face broke into a smug grin. “It’s good to meet you, man. I was planning to give you the whole ‘hurt him and I’ll kill you’ talk, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that’s implied. Keep making my brother as happy as you do already, and you and I will be solid. I’ve got some stories about Alec when he was a little guy if you’re ever looking for blackmail.”

“Oh, do you? That’s very interesting. I think that you and I are going to get along quite well, Dean.” Alec let out a groan and let himself fall back against the sofa. “Don’t you worry, Alexander, we’ll keep the torture relatively mild.” Magnus turned toward Sam and held his hand out again. “And who might you be?”

“Sam. Winchester. I’m, uh…” Sam seemed to flounder for a moment. “Dean’s brother.”

“Such an interesting family tree.” Magnus chuckled softly. “Would anyone like a drink? I make a mean cocktail.”

“Whiskey is good for me.” Dean responded with a nod. Sam waved dismissively with a mutter “no, thanks”.

“Whiskey, coming up. You can all take a seat, make yourselves comfortable.” Dean plopped into one of the arm chairs opposite where Izzy did the same, and Sam dropped himself onto the other end of the couch. He jumped slightly when a sound came from beside the couch. Sam peered over the arm, reached down and was holding a small ball of fur when he lifted it again.

“Who’re you?” He cooed, cuddling the cat to his chest. Alec’s eyes widened when the cat purred louder and pressed himself against Sam.

“That’s Chairman Meow.” Magnus explained as he reentered the room, handing Dean a rocks glass with whiskey in it. He settled himself against Alec’s sight, visibly relaxing when Alec’s arm settled behind him only a bit awkwardly.

“Chairman…Meow?” Sam questioned. “That’s…actually pretty clever.” Magnus bowed his head sincerely.

“Why, thank you, Sam. I’m glad you appreciate my sense of humor. Not everyone is quite so quick on the uptake.” Sam beamed at the words, and Dean couldn’t help the soft chuckle.

“So, Magnus,” Dean reclined just a bit in his chair, draping one long arm over the back of it. “Tell me how you managed to get my painfully shy younger brother to come out of his shell enough to date a downworlder. And, as a follow up, how you both managed to make sure that Mom didn’t castrate him…she didn’t right?” Alec snorted a laugh that was quickly followed by clearing his throat when Magnus gave a halfhearted nudge to his ribs.

“No, Maryse didn’t castrate me. We did get close a few times, though, in the beginning. We met when Clary waltzed into their lives and started raising all kinds of hell for them. I had known her mother for years, but that’s another story. I met Alexander when they came to have me summon a memory demon. He was, as you said, painfully shy, but he came around eventually. It took some persuading.”

“And the world’s most dramatic entrance at Alec’s wedding.” Izzy added with an amused laugh. Dean’s eyes widened.

“You almost married another guy?”

“He almost married a woman.” Izzy corrected.

“You…almost married a woman? You? Alexander Lightwood? And a chick?” Dean watched Alec’s nod, hesitated to a moment, and then dissolved into hysterical laughter, tears beginning to well by the time he finally composed himself. “Oh, man, that’s good. That’s hilarious.”

“What exactly is so funny about that?” Alec questioned, his eyes narrowed at Dean.

“Dude, I’ve known you were gay since you were a kid. I don’t know how you managed to convince anyone else anything different. They obviously weren’t paying enough attention.”

“Yes, well, he had them convinced enough that Maryse and Robert both looked like they were about to pass out when he kissed me in the middle of the ceremony.”

“Wait, wait, wait. He kissed you? In the middle of his own wedding ceremony?” Magnus hummed in the affirmative, his fingers trailing absently through Alec’s hair.

“In the middle of the Institute.”

“Well, damn, Alec. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Oh, that wasn’t until a few months later.” Dean barked out a laugh around words that sounded something close to 'oh, I like him, Alec'.

Alec’s squawk of indignation echoed through the loft, and his cheeks were so red that Dean was almost certain that they could’ve set anything that touched them ablaze. All of that aside, Dean had never seen his brother happier, so he was pretty sure the embarrassment was worth it, if Alec’s hand resting on Magnus’ thigh was anything to judge by.

Chapter Text

“Alright, man, now don’t overthink this. It’s pretty simple.” Dean leaned over from the passenger’s seat to where Alec was white-knuckling the steering wheel. “Gas pedal is the long, thin guy on your right. Brake is the thick one to the left. Only push one at a time, and only use one of your feet. Clear?”

Alec nodded quickly, and it seemed to match the determined look on his face.

“Let’s do this.” He responded, his right hand going to pull the gear shift into drive. They’d brought the Impala to the open field that was concealed behind the Institute and set up a course of bright, orange cones for Alec to navigate through.

Alec eased his foot onto the gas and the Impala started to crawl forward slowly. Dean grinned to himself before patting Alec on the shoulder across the seat.

“Not bad, man. Give ‘er a little bit more.” Alec did so and they crept toward the first cone at a reasonable speed. “Okay, now that you’ve got the, try weaving through the cones. Think about how long the car is, okay?

“Got it,” Alec nodded confidently and began to maneuver through the course with an ease that Dean had expected. He had heard stories over the years, his little brother had turned into an incredibly shadowhunter, so he knew that Alec’s reflexes were above average. “How am I doing?”

“You’re doin’ great, man. You’re a natural. Few more lessons and we’ll have you cruising on the road in no time.” Alec smiled until something flashed on the dash and his eyes went wide. He instantly hit the brakes, sliding Dean forward on the seat until his head almost hit the dash. He barely managed to circumvent the disaster.

“Sorry!” Alec squawked in horror when he saw Dean’s near face plant. “Something happened.” He pointed at the dash. Dean looked over the gauges a few times before he chuckled.

“Ah, don’t worry, she just needs to have her oil changed.”

“Where do you have to take her to do that?” “I do all my own maintenance on her.” He paused while Alec shifted the car into park expertly. “Do you….you wouldn’t want to learn how to change her oil, would you?” His heart swelled when he saw his brother’s answering smile.

“Yeah! I mean…yes.” He looked a little sheepish about how overeager he sounded. “I’d love to.”

“Awesome. Let’s park it over by the gravel again, and we’ll get started, Bug.” Dean waited for the Impala to shift into gear and for Alec to start driving, but it didn’t happen. He waited a few more seconds before he swiveled his head to see what the issue was.

It wasn’t until Alec mouthed the word back at him that he realized what he’d said.



“C’mon, Bug!” Dean’s voice was thin with breathlessness as he darted down one of the long halls of the Institute. Behind him, he heard the featherlight sound of boots on the hall floor. Alec was coming around the corner at a dead run, his blue eyes fixed on Dean who swung his own green gaze back to where he was running. “You gotta run faster that than if you want to catch me!”

They were skidding around a corner when Dean skidded himself to a stop in front of a large figure.

“Dad,” He pushed out, his arms automatically going to cross behind him. Alec stopped beside him moments later and mirrored his stance. “What are you doing here? I thought you were spending the week in Idris?”

Robert Lightwood quirked a brow down at his oldest son before ruffling Alec’s hair and letting a smile crease his face.

“I was going to, but the meetings I had were moved, the head of the Barcelona Institute had to reschedule. Something about the running of the bulls gone awry. It sounded horribly unfortunate. So, I’m here.” He held his arms out in a half shrug, the grin widening. “And what, might I ask, are you two boys doing?”

“Bug and I are training,” Dean answered easily. “He said he could beat me in a race with the messy speed rune he drew, and I told him he crazy.”

“And? What’s the verdict?” Robert shifted his gaze to Alec.

“…Dean is faster.” Alec huffed with the air that only someone at the ripe age of almost four could muster.

“Which means?” Dean prompted, stepping closer to nudge his brother’s shoulder gently.

“That I need to keep practicing my runes so that I don’t get outrun by a demon.” Dean held out his hand for a low-five, which Alec provided enthusiastically. “Next week, we’re gonna work on my precision rune! Dean says if I’m good, I can try out his bow. Isn’t that cool, Dad?” Alec questioned, nearly bouncing on his toes with his hazel eyes locked on Robert’s.

“It sounds wonderful, Alexander.” Robert responded. Dean’s heart sank a little when he realized that he probably wasn’t the only one to notice Robert’s less than amused tone. “You may want to consider a more efficient weapon to bring into battle, son. The arrow is good for long range, but there’s a lot of room for error. Just think about it.” Robert tacked on, apparently not noticing the crushed look on Alec’s face. “I’m going to go find your mother. You two, get back to training.”

With that, he turned and walked off down the hallway, leaving Alec looking defeated at Dean’s elbow. Dean knelt beside him instinctively. His hands settled on Alec’s thin shoulders.

“Hey, man,” He kept his voice soft and even. Alec finally turned his gaze up to meet Dean’s. “Ignore him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. What do I use for my weapon?”

“Bow and arrow.” Alec absently scratched at his arm when he replied in that squeaky voice just above a whisper.

“Right, and do you think it slows me down?” Alec shook his head. “That’s right. Now, let’s go find you a bow and shoot some targets.”


“Shit, man, I,” Dean stammered, whishing more than anything he could physically back-peddle. “I didn’t even think before I said it. I know it’s probably not cool to use anymore.”

“No, it’s fine…I just…I guess I missed it a lot.” Alec grinned, tapping his palm on the steering wheel and avoiding Dean’s gaze. Dean smiled in response.

“Bug it is, then.” He was about to get out to start instructing on change his Baby’s oil when Jace peered out of the backdoor.

“Hey, we got news about your weird portal.” Dean leaned out of the car, shutting the door behind him as curiosity go the best of him. “We’re gonna need some serious magical firepower to take care of closing it. More than we have. Like, The Angel levels of power.”

Dean raised his hand briefly to get Jace and Alec’s attention.

“If it’s righteous angelic power that you’re looking for, I know a guy. He’s a little bit of a hardass, but I think you guys are gonna love him.”

“We’re willing to give anything a shot at this point.” Jace grumbled. Dean whipped his phone out with a flourish, dialed a few numbers while Alec looked on in shock.

“Cas,” He spoke brightly when the line finally picked up with a gravelly voice on the other end. “I got some folks I’d like you to meet. Get your butt here”

He snapped the phone shut with an air of finality that left no room to question him.

“You folks better strap in. You’re about to meet a guy that’s a real angel. He’s pretty badass. Great warrior. General in Heaven.”

Cas arrived a moment later, except....not in that effortless way of his, as if he'd just walked out of a portal, not as if he'd been scouring the Earth to figure out the latest crisis.

Unfortunately, he mis-read the landing, landed a few yards away and was being fished out of the pools in the garden outside the Institute. Dean could see the drenched trench coat through the window.

Dean sighed exasperatedly. Damned angels.

Chapter Text

“What’s the deal, man? Landing gear on the fritz?” Dean questioned, extending a towel toward Cas. The angel scowled at him from under his dripping, dark hair.

“Shadowhunter institutes tend to wreak havoc on angel navigation. It’s something to do with the runes and the glamours. A friend of mine and I were working on trying to figure it out, but we have not yet been successful. Brother Zachariah is still researching.” Alec raised a brow from beside Dean’s shoulder.

“Brother Zachariah? As in Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah? Jem?” Cas eyed him a bit curiously, his head tilting.

“Yes. Do you know him?”

“I’ve met him, Magnus knows him better than I do, but we’ve worked with him before.”

“Hmm. Interesting. I’m Castiel.” Alec extended his hand, but before he could return the introduction Cas was shaking his hand and adding on, “It’s nice to finally meet you, Alec.”

“How did you…” He stammered, his eyes widening slightly.

“You are rather famous among the angels, Mister Lightwood. I’ve heard stories.” Cas’ grin was teasing, but Alec didn’t question it. “There is a reason that I’ve been keeping an eye on your brother for all these years. The Lightwoods are important. Very important.”

“Well,” Dean cut in, clapping his hand onto Alec’s shoulder. “Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we need your help, Cas.”

“I thought as much. What can I do?”

“We’ve got a portal that needs to be closed, but it’s not something that we can do without a lot of angelic energy.” Jace cut in, his arms crossed over his chest as he leaned back against the table. “We need you to do it.”

“If you don’t mind, that is.” Alec chimed in, elbowing Jace in the side. Jace gave him a “what?” look, but Cas didn’t seem to notice it.

“I’ll need to see the portal.” Cas rubbed at the back of his neck lightly, his gaze flicking between Dean, Alec and Jace. He looked like he was about to speak again, but he didn’t have a chance before Isabelle and Clary walked into the room. His eyebrows climbed toward his hairline quickly. “Clarissa Fairchild.” He choked out on an exhale.

“I…I’m sorry, have we met?” Clary questioned, hesitating on the opposite side of the table.

“Not that you would recall, no. You were very young, I accompanied a warlock to assist with suppressing your memory.” He gestured broadly to the runes that marked her arms. “It seems that it is no longer suppressed, though.”

“You helped Magnus?” Clary questioned at the same time that Alec blurted out “You know Magnus?”

Cas nodded with a gentle smile at each of them.

“Magnus Bane has been a good friend to the angels. He’s helped us on several occasions, though I did not know that he was still helping shadowhunters.” Dean snorted a laugh beside him.

“More than ‘helping’ if you’re talking about Alec.”

“I had heard that, yes. It’s quite a point of news on Angel Radio.” Alec’s cheeks flushed immediately, and he ducked his head.

“I guess that’s enough torture for the moment, we really need to get some eyes on this portal, it’s been a colossal pain in the ass.”

“Of course,” Cas agreed, rubbing his palms together. “Take me to it. I will most likely need some assistance with closing it, however. Would one of you be so kind as to contact Magnus and let him know that we need him to meet us there?”

“I’ll give him a call,” Izzy supplied, pulling her phone out. “you guys go ahead, I’ll meet you there.” They nodded and headed toward where the portal was.


Cas’ dark hair ruffled with the swirling air that was coming from the portal as he surveyed it, his brow furrowed in concentration. Beside them, the crackle of a second portal opening was the only warning they got before Magnus and Izzy stepped into the air beside them.

Dean watched curiously as a smile broke across Cas’ face when Magnus held both of his hands out to the side in greeting.

“Castiel,” He cooed, stepping closer and pressed his forehead to Cas’. The angel’s hands came up to rest on the tops of Magnus’ arms, mirroring the grip that the warlock had on his own. “It’s been far too long, my friend. You don’t write, you don’t call.”

“You know I’ve been busy, Magnus. Someone has to keep an eye on the wayward Lightwood, don’t they? Father knows it hasn’t been an easy task.” If Dean didn’t know any better, he’d have said that Cas was joking with Magnus. He raised a skeptical brow.

“Excuse me,” He interjected. “Sorry to interrupt this little reunion but said wayward Lightwood can hear you.”

“Dean,” Cas responded, stepping back from Magnus and leveling an exasperated look at Dean. “You can’t honestly tell me that was not an accurate statement. We’ve averted more than one apocalypse in our time together. Contrary to ‘Winchester’ belief, that is not a common occurrence.” Magnus clapped his hands together gleeful in response.

“Oh, I see these boys have developed that sense of sarcasm that I knew you always had lurking inside. That’s so good to hear. I knew that you couldn’t truly be as much of a stick in the mud as you seemed.” Sam rolled his eyes in response. “See? There’s that attitude that he needed, Samuel. Good to see you again.”

“It’s Sam.” He huffed, but there was a distinct flush to his cheeks as he responded. Magnus simply shot him an over the top wink and placed a kiss on Alec’s cheek in passing.

“If you insist, Sam. Now, let’s see this portal.”

The portal was hulking, the edges seeming to warp and shift the air around them into the gaping maw of purple and blue that swirled together. Magnus hummed softly, snapped his fingers and extended his hands toward the portal when crackling blue sparks started to flow from them.

“The signature it’s giving off is not something I’ve felt before.” Cas commented, his eyes closed as his own glowing grace reached out to prod at the edges of the portal.

“Yeah, this is not a normal portal. How did you come across this?” Magnus questioned, his gaze turning to fix on Dean.

“We noticed that there was an influx of demonic sounding deaths in the area, showed up and found this.” Dean shrugged, tucking his hands into his pockets. “We didn’t know that it wasn’t something that mundanes were able to see.”

“Sam can see it.” Magnus commented, gesturing toward the man in question. Sam just nodded in confirmation.

“Sam has the sight. That’s part of the reason that I ended up with the Winchesters, I wanted to continue hunting demons and they were doing that. Even if they didn’t understand why.”

“So, how do we close it?” Alec questioned, his arms tucked behind his back in a relaxed stance. He was instinctively leaning close to Jace, his shoulder pressed to his parabatai’s, and he could feel the line of tension that was residing in him. He looked at Jace out of the corner of his eye and found the man staring a hole through the back of Castiel’s head.

“I’m not sure,” Cas responded, his hands falling to his sides. He let out a soft sigh of frustration. “It’s going to take some research to see what we need to do.”

“Can we just go through it? See what’s on the other side?” Dean suggested, his gaze flitting between Magnus and Cas. “I mean, we can do the research and maybe come up with some idea of how we can close it. Or…we can go right to the source and see where the hell all these demons are coming from before more of them pop up.”

“We need to let the Clave know if we’re planning to do this. And we’ll need weapons. There’s preparations that need to be made.” Alec’s voice was steady, not betraying the level of fear that was thrumming under his skin. Going through portals that Magnus opened was one thing. Walking through an unknown portal into a potentially demonic realm was another all-together.

“I can’t say I love the idea, but I can’t argue that it’s not effective.” Magnus reached a ringed hand up to run his thumb over his lower lip. “We’ll need to make sure that we take all of the necessary precautions. Who knows what we’re going to find on the other side of this thing? I have some things at the loft that may help us.”

“That settles it, then,” Dean clapped his hands and rubbed them together, the sound of his callouses scraping across one another seeming impossibly loud in the frightened silence that stretched between all of them. “Magnus, you get what you need to, we’ll grab some gear from The Institute. We’ll meet back here in twenty and we’ll go through this son of a bitch. Everybody good with that?” There was a chorus of quiet affirmatives and head nods.

“Go, team.” Jace mumbled as they all began to disperse to gather what was needed for the mission.


The group was standing in front of the portal again exactly twenty minutes later. The shadowhunters had gear strapped to their bodies, even Sam was shifting uncomfortably under the heavy leather gear and plucking at the straps absently.

“Quit squirming, Sammy. You’ll be grateful that you’ve got all that if we jump through this thing and there’s a shax demon staring us down.” Sam scowled and let his hands fall to his sides.

“It’s difficult to move in.”

“You get used to it, man. Trust me. I used to train in my gear so that I would be used to it when it came to actual missions, and it really wasn’t that different than training without it.” Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder before stepping forward and standing in front of the portal, shoulder to shoulder with Alec. “You ready for this, Bug?”

“I’m worried about what’s going to be on the other side of this.” He confessed, his gaze not straying from the swirling mist.

“Well, whatever the hell it is, we’re all right there with you. We can take out whatever this thing tries to dish out.” Alec didn’t flinch when Magnus’ hand slid into his, and Dean couldn’t help but smile. Physical affection had always seemed to catch Alec off guard, but with Magnus, it seemed like it was as easy as breathing.

"I know you're nervous and I won't lie and say that there aren't some rather serious risks that come along with something like this. But, depending on what we find in there...this could be historic. We have to do this. Are you with me, Alexander?" He questioned softly. Alec turned his gaze to Magnus and gave him a soft smile, nodding down at the other man before squeezing his hand lightly.

“As long as you’re coming, I’m good.”

“I’ll be right there with you. Let’s do this.” Castiel appeared at Magnus’ side, his eyes glowing dimly, Alec noted.

Alec inhaled, his chest expanding until he couldn’t pull in anymore air. He held his breath, held it until his cheeks hurt from the action, then finally released it as he stepped through the portal, Magnus and Cas on his left, and Dean to his right.

The moment he stepped through, it felt like all of the air had been ripped from his lungs. He couldn’t breathe…something was wrong, something was very wrong. He tried to scream, tried to call out to Magnus and to Dean to tell them, but the words wouldn’t come.

When they finally broke through the swirling, twisting, grasping hold of the portal and dropped into the most baron landscape he’d ever seen with bare, gnarled trees reaching up toward a sky that was as gray as ash and streaked with coal black clouds and massive, winged demons streaking across the sky. He heard Magnus suck in a breath to his left, and he tried so hard to ask what was wrong, but he couldn’t force the words out.

The next thing he knew, there was a darkness that was rushing at him like a train barreling down the tracks, his knees were wobbling weakly and he was crashing, face-first, into the gritty, unforvgiving ground of the horrific landscape that they had wandered into.


The first thing that Dean noticed was that he recognized the place that they’d stepped into. He’d spent more time here than he ever wanted to consider. Purgatory. They were in Purgatory. He wanted to make a snide comment to Cas about ending up back here again, but that was when he noticed something much more pressing.

Alec’s body was crumpled on the ground between himself and Magnus, and he wasn’t moving. At all.

“No, no, no,” Shards of stone and dirt sliced into Dean’s palms as he dropped to his knees and scrambled through the dust to get to the prone form in front of him. He choked on the taste of dirt and blood swirling around him and gathered the body into his arms. “No. C’mon, Alec, look at me.”

The world seemed to still around him, the sound of howling demons, screaming blades, and grunts of war fell away until the only thing echoing through his mind was the joyous giggles that could only come from a four year old boy that was running from his big brother and the battle cry of ‘can’t catch me, Bean!” through the Institute halls. “Please,” His voice was thin and his hand was shaking when he brought it up to smooth over Alec’s cheek. He ignored the trail of blood left in its wake. “Don’t go. Not now. C’mon, Bug, don’t do this to me.”

He cradled Alec to his chest and tried to shove away the thought that he couldn’t feel any soft breaths against him as he did so. There was no hitched gasps or stuttering of a heart in his brother’s chest. He gripped the back of Alec’s sweater, underneath his gear, until his knuckles were white and a feral scream tore from his throat, echoing across the baron landscape and gathering the attention of some of the others.

There was a crackle of electricity that snapped through the air and Magnus was on his knees beside Dean, his hands fluttering wild and restless above Alec’s body.

“Oh god, Alexander.” He breathed out, his hands moving to try to take him from Dean, who resisted for a moment before laying Alec flat on his back. Magnus sucked in a deep breath before holding his hands over him and administering, what looked like, a charge from defibrillator pads.

Alec’s body arched up of the ground in a violent jerk at the shock and Dean has to look away, his eyes squeezing shut.

“Did it work?” Magnus was silent as he rubbed his palms together quickly. “Damn it, Magnus, answer me!” Instead of answer, Magnus held his hands out again and delivered another shock with a murmured “come back to me, Alexander”. If there were wet tracks down his cheeks, Dean politely ignored them.

He was on his feet before he had a chance to think twice, his hand ripping the seraph blade from his belt as he snarled “Samael” and the blade screamed to life. Dust puffed up around his boots as he stepped, feeling as though he was walking toward the hoard of demon in slow motion.

The demons’ heads swiveled to look at him as he stopped in front of them, blade clenched in a furious fist. His roar of “come on, you fuckers!” rang out above the snarls of the demons as they hesitated, then lunged, blade outstretched and a feral scream ringing out from him.

Chapter Text

It was dark. So dark. And he couldn’t quite focus on the words that were being thrown at him, but he recognized the dulcet tones that were floating through his subconscious.

“Alexander, please,” That was Magnus. He knew that voice. “Please, don’t do this to me. I can’t do this without you. You’ve got to wake up.” His eyes fluttered and he groaned against the pain that scorched through his skull.

“Shit,” Alec huffed out and he squinted up at Magnus’ handsome face. “What happened?”

“Oh God, Alexander!” It took him a moment to realize that Magnus had tears streaking down his cheeks. He lifted one shaky hand to brush them away. “You passed out. You had us all a little worried. Can you sit up? We need to move.”

Alec slowly pushed himself into a sitting position, ignoring the wave of dizziness that overcame him. His eyes widened when he saw Dean walking toward them at a brisk pace, his face splattered with ichor that he was pawing away and wiping on the front of his spattered shirt.

“Bug,” He breathed, dropping to his knees beside Alec. His large hands swept over him quickly. “What the hell was that? Aren’t you used to going through portals?”

“I don’t know what happened, I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell you, but I just…couldn’t.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair before gesturing to Dean. “What happened to you? Is that ichor?”

“Uh, yeah, about that,” He looked around them at the bare trees. “I know where we are. Cas and I both do.”

“Where are we?” Magnus interjected, his brows furrowed.

“Purgatory. We’re in Purgatory.”


“Purgatory. As in ‘the place between death and the afterlife’ Purgatory?” Magnus’ voice sounded disbelieving. Dean shook his head slightly.

“More like ‘the place that demons go to after you take them out’ Purgatory. This isn’t exactly a great place for anyone with angel blood either, so we should get moving pretty damn quick.”

“Why?” Alec questioned as he tried to push himself to his knees. “And where are Sam, Izzy and Jace?”

“Leviathans. There are leviathans here, and they hunt down anything with angel blood.” Cas explained. Dean and Magnus looked around the landscape around them, seeming to realize for the first time that they were alone.

“I don’t know where the others are. Did they come through the portal?” Dean asked, turning his gaze to Cas. “They were right behind us, they should’ve come out right here, right?”

“Not necessarily,” Cas replied, running a hand over his face. “Portal magic can be tricky. It may have spit them out somewhere else in this plane.” Alec pushed a rough breath through his nostrils. “Then again, it’s possible that they’re in another plane all together.”

“Comforting.” Dean snapped, pushing himself to his feet, and extended his hand to Alec to help him up. It was a slow process, but they got him to his feet with only minimal swaying. “We’ve got to find them and figure out a way to get the hell out of here.”

“Hopefully sooner rather than later,” Magnus added, his eyes widening at an approaching shape on the edge of the trees. “What do those leviathans that you talked about look like? Do they look anything like that?”

“That…is exactly what they look like.” Dean ground out, his hand going to the seraph blade that was tucked into his weapons belt. He whispered the blade’s name and it screamed to life. “Wait until they get close and cut off the head. It’s the best way to kill them.”

“Got it.” Magnus and Alec responded in unison. Alec was drawing his bow just as Magnus snapped his fingers and blue magic began arching between them in crackling lines.

“And watch the teeth.” Cas amended, his own eyes beginning to glow blue with a charge of his grace and his angel blade dropped from his sleeve into his palm. Three more shadows joined the one that was lumbering and slinking toward them, and the men stood shoulder to shoulder, each of them clutching their respective weapons.

The first of the leviathans was on them before they knew it and Dean was surging forward with a feral snarl, his blade ripping through dripping black slime to separate the head from the creature in front of him. The leviathan staggered slightly before dropping to the ground.

Alec drew his bow, ignoring the tremor in one of his hands as he did so, and fired at one of the creatures to their left. He struck the creature in the head, it faltered slightly, but continued moving. His eyes widened and he quickly shouldered the bow to draw two seraph blades from his belt. He named them both, the monster’s teeth glinting like pearls in the glow of the blades. Alec swiveled them in his palms easily, his face sliding into a slow grin.

He moved with an easy, light grace as he danced around the leviathan, blades slashing to separate limbs from the torso until it was lurching toward him with spraying ichor from each shoulder. Driving the blade up through the creature’s lower jaw was oddly satisfying.

“Alexander, behind you!” He turned on his heel and saw a massive creature looming in front of him, its head opened like a hinge, a serpent like tongue waving wildly through the air.

Alec flinched at the sound of Magnus’ magic crackling in the air around him, it snaked around another leviathan as it got closer to Alec and Dean. The leviathan stopped walking just before the magic tightened like barbed wire, ripping the creature in half.

“Thanks, Magnus.” Dean breathed out, wiping at the ichor sprayed across his face.

He watched as Castiel’s hand closed over the face of a leviathan and a blinding glow flowed from the angel’s palm, scorching the creature as it cried out with a piercing scream before crumbling. He spun easily on his heels and sliced the angel blade in his hand cleanly through the head of the last leviathan, leaving it in a heap of black blood and twitching limbs.

“We need to move. Now.” His voice was gravely when he spoke, drawing the angel blade across his pant leg in slow drags to clean the shining silver. He turn his cobalt eyes skyward, searching the clouds around him momentarily.

“Night is going to fall soon. It happens quickly here. We’re going to need shelter.”

“You two seem to know a lot about this place.” Magnus commented, moving to stand beside Alec, subtly checking the shadowhunter over.

“Cas and I were…stuck here for a little while a few years back.” Dean responded as he tucked his seraph blade away.

“Alec, are you hurt?” Cas questioned. The three men turned to look at Alec who was staring back at them curiously and shaking his head.

“No, they didn’t touch me, why?” Cas gestured to his own nose and Alec felt the warmth then, sliding over his top lip. He lifted a hand and pawed at his face. It was coated in fresh blood when he pulled it away. “Shit.”

“There’s a cabin just through the woods here, if we’re where I think we are.” Dean commented, trying to push down the fear that he felt crawling up in his throat. “We should go and stay there for the night. We can figure out what the hell is going on with Alec when we get there.”

“What about Izzy, Jace and Sam? What if they’re here. We need to find them.” Alec protested, his arms crossing over his chest stubbornly. “I’m going to be fine.”

“You’re not.” Cas countered simply. He raised a hand with two fingers extended and pressed them to Alec’s forehead. A warmth spread through him and he felt the blood on his face seem to evaporate. “This is temporary. If we don’t find out what is truly wrong, it’s going to keep happening. Your siblings are going to be fine. They’re all capable shadowhunters, and Sam knows what he’s doing. You’ll have to trust them.”

That seemed to get through to him and he sighed, dropping his arms and nodding. The sky had begun to darken above them.

“You’re right, Cas. I’m sorry. Let’s get moving.” He gestured vaguely toward the forest in front of them. “Lead the way.” Dean’s hand settled between Alec’s shoulder blades like a calming weight as they watched Cas and Magnus start off toward the tree line, speaking to one another quietly.

“You good, man?” His voice was low enough that only Alec was able to hear him. He shrugged one shoulder slightly.

“I don’t know…there’s something…wrong. I just don’t know what it is.” He tried to hide that his voice cracked slightly on the word. “We gotta get home.”

“We will. I promise, I’m gonna get you outta here. All of us are getting home.” Dean’s hand moved to the back of Alec’s neck, squeezing affectionately. “C’mon. Let’s go find this cabin.”


The cabin that they came up on looked like something out of the mundane horror movies that Simon had made Alec sit through more than once. The roof was sagging like there was some invisible force pushing down on it, the shutters were hanging on for dear life, and there was moss clinging to the boards that made up the cabin.

“Quaint.” Magnus commented, his nose wrinkling at the scent of mildew and rotting wood.

“It’s better than waking up to a ravenor demon stuff its stinger up your nose. Hell, it's better than some of the no-tells that Sammy and I have stayed in before.” Dean replied, raising a hand to push the door open. It creaked like it hadn’t been open in years. “Looks like there’s no one home.” He stepped into the cabin, his green eyes swiveling from wall to wall. Alec fell into step behind him with the other two following them at a slower pace.

“Clear.” Alec said when he checked the two bedrooms that were at the back of the cabin. “It’s just us.”

“Good. Sit.” Magnus stated, shrugging out of the crimson jacket he’d been wearing and slinging it over the back of one of the weathered dining chairs. He was in the process of rolling the sleeves of his charcoal shirt up over his forearms when he noted that Alec hadn’t moved. “In case it was unclear, that wasn’t a request, Alexander. Sit down so we can figure out what’s happening with you.”

Alec sighed, but complied, dropping himself into one of the chairs. He didn’t realize how bone-tired he was until he did so, and he was fighting to keep his eyes open.

“This isn’t like anything I’ve seen happen in Purgatory before, but Alec is a unique case.” Cas commented, watching as Magnus snapped his fingers and waves of magic began to roll over Alec’s body slowly. Dean watched them for half a second before he was pacing between the front windows. The dim light that had been outside when they arrived had gone completely and it was pitch black.

“They’re moving out there still.” He grumbled, his eyes tracking darker shadows moving in the darkness. A piercing howl cut through the air and the group tensed. “And I guess we’ve got werewolves too.”

“I put up wards.” Magnus responded. “Around the cabin. We’re safe here until morning. I don’t know how long they’ll stay active, but we have them for now. Stop squirming, Alexander.”

“Sorry.” Alec mumbled, his gaze flicking up to Magnus. The warlock’s face was twisted in something that looked like fear. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t…I don’t know. It feels like demon poisoning, but that can’t be right. You weren’t bitten and you didn’t even interact with one of them when we came through the portal.”

“What do we do to fix that?” Dean questioned.

“We need to clean his blood. The demon poison is trying to turn him.” Magnus’ voice was barely above a whisper.

“And it will kill him. The angel blood in him will consider it an infection, it will attack it, and it will rip him apart from the inside out.”

“So, how the hell do we clean it, then?!” Dean snapped, trying to draw Magnus’ gaze back to his, but he was focused on not breaking eye contact with Alec, who was looking silently terrified. “Cas, you gotta know something. How do we fix this?”

“We need to give him a transfusion. We will have to completely circulate new blood into him.” Cas hesitated before continuing. “We’ll need to kill him to save him.”

“But,” Dean pawed at his face a few times then pointed at Cas, his hand shaking. “Sammy had demon blood, remember? We saved him.”

“That was demon blood, not demon poison, Dean. This is different. This is…more.”

“How the hell did this happen?” Cas came to rest his hands on Dean’s shoulders, trying to calm him.

“If I had to guess, it had something to do with the way that we came through the portal. Something must have hitched a ride in him and not left.”

“Like a possession?”

“Not quite.” Dean made an angry sound in the back of his throat and took an aggressive step closer.

“Stop being so fucking cryptic and talk to me, Cas. Is this going to kill him? How long do we have?”

“I don’t know, Dean.” Cas snapped finally, his hands moving from Dean’s shoulders to his face. “I don’t know, and I’m sorry that I don’t know. We could have days, we could have weeks. Possibly months. I don’t know.”

“Either way,” Magnus called over the sounds of their conversation. “It’s not going to be tonight. It’s not going to be tonight, and he needs rest. We need to sleep, all of us, so that we can get home and fix him. Come on, Alexander. Come to bed.” His voice was barely above a whisper as he helped Alec to his feet.

Dean watched them silently as they walked toward one of the bedrooms, a haunted look on Alec’s face and Magnus’ hand right between his shoulders as he murmured softly to him. The door closed lightly behind them, leaving Cas and Dean standing in the living room next to the god-awful plaid couch as if Dean’s whole world wasn’t being ripped apart again.

It took thirty seconds before the first choked sob came from Dean. Cas’ arms went around him without hesitation and Dean clung to him.

“I can’t lose him again, man. I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough, you’ve gotta…you’ve gotta help him. We gotta get home so that we can save him. Please.”

“We will, Dean. I swear that we will. Trust me.”

“I do.” He nodded against the familiar material of Cas’ trench coat. “I trust you.”

Chapter Text

“Alec!” Jace called for what seemed like the hundredth time. He had his hands cupped around his mouth as he did so. Night had fallen nearly an hour before and Sam was crouched over a fire that had barely begun to catch.

“You should be careful with the yelling.” He commented absently. “Purgatory at night is not the best time to draw attention to ourselves. They’re probably fine, but we should wait until morning to keep searching.” Jace sighed, his shoulders sagging slightly. He turned on his heel and tapped nervously at the spot just above his hip.

“Can you still feel him?” Izzy asked, gesturing to the spot where Jace was tapping. He hadn’t realized that he was touching his parabatai rune until she pointed at it.

“Yeah, but…I don’t know, it’s weird. Something is off about it. It doesn’t feel like Alec. I just don’t know what it is.” He dropped to sit beside the fire as the logs caught, and it flared brighter with each passing moment. Izzy was sitting beside Sam, leaning against him tiredly as she watched Jace settle in. He rested his arms on his bent knees, his hands dangling between them.

“It’s probably just being in this place that’s making it feel different. I’m sure Alec is alright. Besides, he has Dean, Castiel and Magnus. How much trouble can they really get into?” Sam and Jace both leveled a look at her. “…Oh god, they’re all going to die.”

“We’ll look for them at first light,” Sam said, stretching back to lay in the dirt. He crossed his arms behind his head. “For now, we should try to get some sleep. We’ll take shifts for watch.”

“I’ll go first.” Isabelle stretched her back as she moved to sit on the log that Jace was rolling to sit beside the fire. “I’ll wake you guys up in a couple hours. Get some sleep.” Jace flopped down onto his back with a bone-tired sigh. His arms crossed over his chest as he did so and his eyes closed, plunging him into sleep before he knew what had happened.


“Get up,” Isabelle’s frantic tone and her hands on his shoulders shook Jace out of his sleep with a start. He sat straight up, his forehead just barely missing her nose.

“There’s something in the trees.” She reached back and smacked Sam until he woke, rubbing sleep from his eyes and grabbing the pistol from beside him without a second thought.

They all let their eyes track along the tree line where branches were bending and cracking around, what appeared to be, some invisible force.

“What the hell?” Jace breathed out, his hand pawing for his seraph blade. Sam’s hand caught his wrist to stop him.

“Don’t. That’s not going to work with this.” Sam pushed himself slowly to his feet, his eyes locked on the movement in the trees.

“What? Seraphs blade work on everything. What is it?” Isabelle’s voice was right at his shoulder and Jace rose slowly.

“Hellhound.” He mumbled. Sam held up a hand to silence them before pointing slightly to a small trail across the clearing. “When I say so, we’re going to run to the trail, and you better not stop because they’re not going to.”

A bone-chilling howl broke the silence and a visible shudder ran up Jace’s spine. Fear curled hot and strong in his stomach.

“Run!” Sam’s voice was soon drowned out by the pounding of his boots on the sand. He heard the snarl of the hounds behind them and leaned his torso into his steps. Jace and Isabelle were right at his shoulders as he crossed the clearing and reached the small trail. He pushed the other two ahead of him, making sure to put himself between them and the hounds. “Keep going!”

He could feel the fetid breath of the hound on the backs of his legs, the hot breath brushed over his jeans with each step and he felt the acidic burn of fear on the back of his tongue. “What the hell are they doing here?!” Jace called out, sounding strained.

“This is basically hell, are you surprised?” Sam responded. He glanced around their shadowhutners’ shoulders. “Left! Go left!”

Jace followed the instruction and pounded down the left path, his arms pumping. The hounds howled, but Sam noted that they sounded further away. His eyes were darting around wildly until they landed on a crack in the massive rocks on either side of the trail.

“There,” He pointed toward the crack the looked just barely large enough to let them slip through it. “We can hide in there!” Jace and Isabelle slipped into the crack in the rock easily and, to Sam’s surprise, they seemed to disappear.

He squeezed himself into the space, hissing softly when the rock scraped over his high cheek bones. He’d nearly squeezed completely through the rock when he felt the cuff of his jeans catch and the fabric tore. The hound had just missed his leg, and he let out a heaved sigh of relief.

“That was close.” He mumbled.

“You’ve got to get a look at this.” Isabelle’s voice was full of wonder. Sam turned his head and he sucked in a surprised breath.

The cavern was massive, and the dripping walls were coated in what looked like bioluminescent algae. Jace reached a hand out to touch the glowing slime, but Sam swatted at it instinctively.

“Maybe we don’t touch the glowing otherworldly slime.” He chastised.

“…Good call.” Jace responded after a moment. “What is this place?” There were dark green vines moving in between the cracks of the rocks and there were butterflies flitting around the cavern. Sam noted that they weren’t normal colored butterflies, instead they were almost a neon green.

“It looks like a rave gone wrong.” Isabelle commented. Sam had to hand it to her, she wasn’t wrong. Everything did have something of a black light feel to it. “It almost looks like the Fairy Realm. Just…wrong. Somehow.”

“You’re right. That’s definitely wrong.” Jace pointed to where there was a small waterfall cascading down the rocks. At least they thought it was cascading down them. When they got closer to the water, there were a few things that they noticed.

First, the water wasn’t clear. It was deep crimson and thick like blood. Sam had a sick feeling in his stomach that it looked like blood because it was.

Second, it wasn’t cascading down the rocks. It was flowing upward.

“That’s…unique.” Sam wrinkled his nose, watching the droplets with rapt interest.

“Gravity works differently in this plane. You’d do well to remember that.” The voice behind them was soft and even with an almost melodic sound to it. The three spun to face it quickly, all of their hands going to their weapons automatically. “Relax. I mean you no harm. There is no need for you to draw your weapons.”

“No way…” Jace breathed out. Sam raised a brow curiously at him. “What the hell are you doing down here?” The man in front of them was clad in armor that looked as if it was fashioned from tree bark, and his hands rested on a walking stick that was carved from a knurled tree branch. He watched them through honey colored eyes, and Sam’s eyes traced the livid pink scar that went across the man’s cheek.

“Hello, Jace. Isabelle.” The smile that the man shot Isabelle made his pointed ears twitch slightly. He extended a delicate but calloused hand toward Sam. “I do not believe we’ve met before. I am Meliorn. Welcome to the dark realm of Fairy.”

Chapter Text

Alec woke with a violent retch that nearly threw him off the bed. His knuckles were white as he gripped the worn, soft blanket that had been thrown across the bed they’d found. His body heaved, his muscles contracting, as dark blood flowed from his lips and spattered onto the warped wooden floor.

“Alexander,” Magnus’ voice was soothing, but Alec could hear the panic that was hovering underneath the words. Alec sucked in ragged breaths through his nose when the agonizing pain in his stomach finally eased. “Alexander, look at me please.”

He lifted his gaze to Magnus, blinking slowly. His hands were shaking when he finally lifted them from the blanket. Magnus’ face was panicked.

“What? Magnus…what’s happening?” He mumbled, lifting a hand to wipe his mouth. He pointedly ignored the black blood that streaked his skin.

“Oh, my Alexander.” Magnus’ hands came up to cup his face gently. The warlock’s fingers were shaking against his skin. “Your eyes.”

“What’s wrong with my eyes? Am I okay?” He struggled to stand up off the bed, the frame creaking under his weight as he went, and he stared at himself in the cracked, dirty mirror. His stomach felt like it was plummeting to his feet.

Staring back at him was one of his normal, hazel eyes, and one…one of his irises was pure obsidian. His breath hitched quietly and he blinked a few times, trying to clear what had to be an illusion from his vision.


“What the fuck. No, seriously,” He spun on his heel when the blackness didn’t fade and stared at Magnus. “What…the fuck.”

“It’s the blood poisoning. If I had to guess, I would say that your Nephilim blood isn’t as potent here, and it’s struggling to fight off the poison. Your body is turning,” He paused, pushing himself to his feet and coming to stand in front of Alec. “Demonic. But I don’t know that that’s what this is. It looks familiar, but I can’t put my finger on why that is. I feel like I should know what’s happening”

“It’s going to kill me as soon as we leave this plane, isn’t it?” His voice was quiet as he spoke. His muscles relaxed just slightly when Magnus’ hands settled onto his shoulders.

“No.” The response was soft, but instantaneous. “We’re going to figure this out before we get out of here. I promise you that.” He leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Alec’s gently. “I’ve only just started living my life with you, Alexander Lightwood. You’re not getting rid of me this easily.” Alec gave a soft laugh as he bumped his nose against Magnus’ his arms winding around his waist.

“I wouldn’t dream of it. You’re going to be stuck with me for a long time.” The two of them clung to each other for what seemed like an eternity before Magnus finally pulled away with a sigh.

“We should go talk to your brother about this. Maybe he’ll have some ideas.” The rings on Magnus’ fingers tugged lightly at Alec’s hair as he ran them through the soft strands.


“I’m sorry, the dark realm of Fairy?” Sam questioned, pulling his hand back from Meliorn’s slowly. “What the hell is this place?”

Meliorn blinked slowly at him as he leaned his weight back onto the walking stick.

“I believe I was rather straightforward. It is like the realm of Fairy, however, it is dark. It is right in the name.” He spoke slowly as if he were explaining it to a child.

“…Yeah, I got that.” Sam rolled his eyes. “What is this place doing in Purgatory.”

“Come now, you must realize that dimensional planes are rather...fluid. A relative concept. This realm is not Purgatory, nor is it on the Mortal plane. The dark realm is everywhere and nowhere.”

“Are all fairies this literal, or are you just being a dick because you can?” The answering grin that Meliorn gave him was ethereally brilliant.

“That is the grand question, isn’t it?” He paused before waving a hand toward them to indicate that they should follow him. “Come. We are having quite the party, and you’ll won’t want to miss this.”

"We’re not going to come to some fairy party, Meliorn.” Isabelle interjected, holding her hand up.

“You have never had trouble with coming to fairy parties before, Miss Lightwood.” Sam noted the flush that crept up behind the runes on Isabelle’s skin curiously.

“That’s not the point. We’ve lost my brothers, and we’re not going to go dance through a field with fairies while Alec and Dean could be in danger.”

“Oh, do not worry yourself, Isabelle. Your brothers are safe. They’re in the cabin The Hunt has provided for them.” A bird began to sing loudly into the silence that filled the space between all of them.

“What exactly do you mean by that?” Jace’s tone was subarctic as he spoke and took a few steps toward Meliorn. The fairy’s hand dropped to the sword sheathed at his hip.

“I mean that The Wild Hunt has taken steps to ensure that they are not killed. Gwyn would be very displeased to lose such an opportunity to take on a valuable new addition. We do not often get men like Alec Lightwood in a vulnerable state.”

“What did you do to him?” Jace snarled, his hands balled into fists at his side.

“Oh, calm down, Herondale. He is not the first Shadowhunter that has been taken by The Hunt and he certainly will not be the last.” Meliorn tapped his lower lip gently with his index finger. “I am sure that you know at least one of our Shadowhunters.”

“He can’t join The Hunt. He has no fairy blood.” Sam commented. His eyebrows rose when he saw the others staring at him. He pulled a shrug. “What? I read.”

“Regardless, the dark realm has several side effects on the nephilim race. It is one of the most compelling reasons for us to operate here. Your dear brother is probably in the beginning stages of a rather difficult transition to a Hunter.” Meliorn tapped the mossy ground with his walking stick and a large pool of pale purple water slowly appeared behind him.

“This place is like the Wonka Factory.” Sam muttered in disbelief as he watched the water begin to swirl. Jace and Isabelle both looked at him in confusion, but before they could question the statement, several small creatures crawled from the water.

They were only two feet tall and their matted, blue hair was pasted to their purple skin damply. The creatures were rhythmically chanting something just barely above a whisper. Their small hands were clapping together, yellowed claws clicking in rhythm with the words, and their needle-sharp teeth glinted in the low light from the glowing slime.

“Those don’t look friendly.” Jace took a step backward, his hand resting on his seraph blade.

“No, no, they don’t. We should get going.” Isabelle gave Meliorn a false smile.

“Are you sure? I would really appreciate it if you stayed. It is rude to deny an offer from a fairy knight, as I am sure that you are aware.”

“We’ve really gotta get going. Go check on Alec and Dean, you know.” Meliorn waved a dismissive hand at the retreating group.

“If you run now, The Hunt will find you. Gwyn ap Nudd has lead The Hunt for eons and he is not going to let a rag tag group of Shadowhunters and a pathetic mundane stop him from taking who he wants.” There was a sharpness to his voice that Isabelle had not heard before and she had to work at not flinching. “You would all do well to remember that we have lived in this land for longer than you can even imagine. Do not tempt forces with power of which you do not comprehend.”

The three turned quickly and moved back toward the trail that they had come from, making sure not to hesitate and give Meliorn or the creatures the opportunity to stop them.

They’d reached the crack in the rocks before they knew it and were slipping out past the luminescent slime-covered rocks into the sticky night air. They all heaved a sigh of relief when there were no hellhounds waiting for them on the other side.

Sam ran his fingers through his hair in long pulls while Jace and Isabelle simply stared at one another.

“Does anyone want to tell me what the hell that was? What’s going to happen to Alec? They can’t really take him for The Wild Hunt, can they?”

“The fair folk aren’t exactly a ‘play by the rules’ race of downworlders. They’re going to take him, and we aren’t going to see Alec again if we don’t find him. Now.” Jace crossed his arms over his chest in a weak attempt to mask his nervousness.

“Well, I don’t know much about this shadowhunter business, but I know about the Winchester business. Let’s go find our brothers and make these fairy bastards sorry they ever fucked with us.” Jace’s slow smirk made Sam grin in return. He slapped his hand on top of Jace’s when he extended it.

“Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.” Isabelle chuckled a laugh and dropped her hand over Sam and Jace’s clasped ones.

“Well then. Let’s raise a little hell, boys.”

Chapter Text

Dean was on his feet as soon as Magnus and Alec stepped out of the room, his hair on end and his eyes blinking blearily with sleep. Alec noted that they were suspiciously red-rimmed, but he chose to ignore it.

“Something’s changing. I haven’t ever seen blood poisoning react this way before. Look at his eyes, Dean. Have you encountered something like this before?” Magnus commented, leading Alec to stand in front of Dean. He felt slightly calmer when he felt his brother’s hands settle onto his shoulders, and his muscles relaxed. That was until Dean’s own eyes widened at the site of Alec’s.

“No, that’s…this shouldn’t be happening.” Dean shook his head slightly and whirled to face Cas. “Why is this happening to him? I told Robert no, did he convince Alec to do it instead?” His voice was sharp and demanding as he spoke, causing Cas to visible flinch with each word.

“I don’t know, Dean, but we’re going to figure it out. He’ll be okay, we won’t let them take your brother. I swear that to you. Do you trust me?” Dean was cut off before he could tell Cas that he did, implicitly, trust him. “

I’m sorry, if you have some idea of what is going on with Alexander, I suggest that you start sharing with the class before I get,” Magnus clenched his fingers by his sides and blue magic crackled along them menacingly. “Antsy.”

“It’s,” Dean sighed and scrubbed his calloused fingers through his hair roughly. “The Hunt. The Hunt is coming for him.” Magnus sucked a breath through his teeth and Alec’s shattered eyes widened slightly.

“But…why? He’s made no deal with them, he has no Fae blood, either. They have no more claim to him than any other race of Downworlders.” Magnus supplied when Alec remained silent, his mouth hanging agape.

“I have no clue, it’s…why I left in the first place.” His voice was quiet as he spoke and that seemed to reignite Alec’s interest in the situation.

“What? The Wild Hunt made you leave? Why?” He dropped himself into one of the rickety chairs and looked up at his brother with a look that made him seem much younger than he was.

“Not directly, no.” Dean hedged. He noted that the whole room seemed to be holding their breath, waiting for him to continue. Even the age-warped walls of the cabin seemed to contract in anticipation around them. “Robert asked me to join the hunt when I was younger. He said that it would have been for the good of the family. I was considering it, too, I thought that if it was going to help you, Izzy and Jace to be safe, then I was all for it. But, then I saw a message that he’d gotten from Gwyn.”

“Gwyn, like…leader of The Hunt Gwyn?” Dean nodded in response to Magnus’ question.

“The same. His message to Dad mentioned that the bargain had been agreed on. The oldest Lightwood child for Dad’s induction as Inquisitor. He was trading me to The Hunt for the chance to become Inquisitor of the Clave. So I left, and I became a Winchester. I’m no longer the oldest “Lightwood”. Dad must’ve made the same deal for you, Alec. He signed you over to The Hunt, and they’re coming to collect.” Dean’s voice had begun to shake as he told the story, and his eyes were suspiciously glassy when he looked down at Alec. “I should’ve just gone, I shouldn’t have run away. If I had joined them, you wouldn’t be in this situation right now.”

Alec was on his feet with his arms around his brother in a crushing hug before anyone could speak. His words were spoken directly against Dean’s temple when he mumbled them repeatedly. It took a moment for Dean to realize what he was saying.

“It’s not your fault. I’m strong, I’ll be okay. I love you. It’s not your fault.”

The mantra coming from his younger brother should have been laughable, but the man that Alec had become was nothing if not the protector and it just caused Dean to crumple into him like paper in the hands of a giant. He balled his fists into the back of Alec’s shirt that was suspiciously damp with tears.

“I can’t let them take my family from me again.” He mumbled, ignoring the weight of Magnus and Cas’ gazes on them.

“They won’t take them all, Dean. Just me. And I’ll be okay. I’ll keep them safe. How long do I have?” Dean pulled back and stared at Alec for a moment.

“We’re not just going to hand you over, Alec. I didn’t tell you that story so you could become some stupid martyr because our father is an asshole. I told you so that we know what we’re up against here. And so that we can kick their asses.”

“Dean…we aren’t going to be able to take on the entire Wild Hunt. We haven’t even been able to find Izzy, Jace and Sam. How the hell are we supposed to do anything else?”

Dean opened his mouth to respond, but he was abruptly cut off when there was a pounding on the door. The four of them spun to face it, Dean and Alec with their hands on their weapons while Magnus and Cas stood ready with a burning glow between the two of them.

The pounding got progressively louder until the door burst open and three bodies spilled into the cabin, the door slamming shut behind them. The men started toward the pile of limbs but stopped short when they recognized blonde hair and gangly arms.

“Sam?” Dean questioned at the same time that Alec called out “Jace?!”

Three pairs of eyes blinked up at them from the floor before slowly beginning to untangle themselves.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m here too. Totally fine, not that anyone asked.” Izzy grumbled, standing and dusting herself off. When she looked up at Alec, she froze. “Your eyes. He wasn’t lying.”

“Faeries can’t lie, Iz.” Jace commented, stepping forward and bracing his gloved hands on either side of Alec’s face. “By the angel, Alec.”

“I know, it’s…The Hunt. Dad made a deal with Gwyn. The Hunt gets me, Dad gets to be Inquisitor.” Jace nodded knowingly.

“We talked to Meliorn.”

“Meliorn? What’s he doing in Purgatory?” Alec shook his head, his brow furrowed in confusion.

“That’s the thing,” Sam interjected, giving Alec a solemn look. “Only some of this plane is Purgatory. There are…rips, openings, gaps, whatever you want to call them, into the Dark Realm of Fairy. It’s insane. It’s like someone gave Willy Wonka free reign over making a nightmare scape, Dean.”

“How do you mean?”

“Glowing ooze, two-foot-tall purple goblin looking things with teeth-like needles, neon butterflies, pools of pissed off Kool Aid. It’s weird as hell.”

“…Fun.” Dean wrinkled his nose. “Well, none of that is going to matter, because they’re not taking Alec, and we’re going to get you guys the hell out of here.”

“What do you mean ‘you guys’?” Cas questioned, his eyes narrowing at Dean suspiciously.

“I mean that The Hunt needs someone. They need a Lightwood. The oldest Lightwood.” Alec stepped forward, his hand starting to extend toward him.

“Dean…” He started slowly, but he was cut off by a thundering knock at the door. They all froze, glancing at each other until the knock came again. Magnus raised a hand with a flourish and the door opened.

A hulking man stepped through the door and stared them all down in turn. His eyes were haunting with one of the irises was the dark color of ebony and the other was an arctic pale blue. His dark beard coated an irritatingly square jaw and a few pale scars covered his skin. He was draped in a dark brown deer hide and had fashioned plate armor strapped across his chest. His pointed ears twitched when he heard Izzy’s sharp intake of breath. There was no mistaking that Gwyn Ap Nudd of The Wild Hunter was standing in front of them, smelling of damp earth and crisp leaves.

“I assume that reaction means that you know why I am here.” His voice had the rough timber of wind tearing through a forest of leaf-stripped, dead trees.

“For me.” Alec responded, stepping forward despite the tremor and fear that was coursing through his body.

“Correct, Alexander. Your father made a deal many seasons ago. Your service in The Hunt for his service as Inquisitor. It is time for you to join our ranks and ride with The Hunt.” Alec glanced nervously out the still open door at the large gray horse that was pawing at the ground impatiently. Beside the stallion, there was a large red mare that had a saddle across her wide back.

“No.” It was Dean’s voice that broke the tense silence that stretched while Alec was watching the horses curiously. “That wasn’t the deal. Robert said that he would give you the oldest Lightwood, that’s not Alec!”

“Watch your tone with me, Winchester, or I will put you in the ground without a moment’s hesitation. Alexander is the eldest Lightwood boy. He belongs to The Hunt. He is ours by law. Come, Alexander.” Gwyn’s large hand closed around the top of Alec’s arm and he began to lead him outside by the strong grip.

Alec tried to struggle, he dug the heels of his boots into the warped floor, he reached out and clawed at the doorframe until the beds of his nails were bleeding, and he called out for Magnus and for Dean, despite how much of a child that he felt like. They were nearly to the two whinnying horses when the voice rang out.

“I am Dean. Thomas. Lightwood. I am the oldest Lightwood boy. If you do not take me for The Hunt, you have lied to my father. Would you really have the leader of The Wild Hunter exposed to be a liar?”

Gwyn seemed to consider this for a long moment before he released Alec. He shoved him back toward the group with a frustrated grunt and gestured toward Dean. He stepped forward, ignoring the weight of Sam and Cas’ gazes on him.

“I will take you in his place, Dean. Far be it from me to make myself out to be a liar.” Gwyn spat the word like it was venom before helping Dean up onto the red mare. He turned toward Alec just as he felt a burn starting in his eyes.

“I’ll come back to you again, Bug, I swear it.”

"Dean, please. Don't go with them, please, just...we'll figure it out." He was trying to focus on Alec's voice, he really was, but he just couldn't. The burning got more intense until he had to close his eyes against the pain. He threw his head back with a pained scream.

When he opened his eyes again, after the pain had passed, he looked at Alec. He couldn’t help but notice the look of terror on his brother’s face.

He blinked slowly down at the group, one of his eyes held onto their deep, green color, but the other was a stark, light silver. Gwyn gave him a slow, dark grin, followed by a hearty chuckle.

“Welcome to The Hunt, Dean Lightwood.”

With that, he kicked his heels into his steed’s sides and they were sprinting off in a rush of cold wind and the scent of atmosphere in his nose.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t until the echo of the thundering hooves and Alec’s screams left his ears that Dean took a moment to look around him. The rush of cool air across his face was breathtaking, he watched as the stars swirled around them and spared a passing moment to wonder how he was still breathing.

His hands were fisted in the horse’s mane under him so tightly that his knuckles were white. The horse didn’t seem to mind, however, and just leaned into the dash through the stars. In front of him, Gwyn didn’t even seem to be swaying with the movements of the horse under him. He was stoic and unmoving, a broad-shouldered statue as they started to descend a bit more rapidly than Dean was comfortable with.

Dean was about to protest the drop when he realized that it was intentional. There was a small encampment rushing toward them. Canvas tents were illuminated by blazing torches and they stood in a clearing in the trees like a beacon. The horses slowed and their hooves connected with the soft earth almost silently.

“Woah,” Dean muttered, the landing shifting him in his seat on the horse. He was sprawled on his back and blinking up at the night sky when the raucous laughter echoed around him.

“Gwyn, what on Earth have you brought back to us?” Came one of the voices. Gwyn’s large hand closed around Dean’s shoulder and had him on his feet effortlessly. He dusted himself off, fighting back a blush that threatened to creep up his neck.

“That is enough. This is Dean Lightwood.” A hush fell across the group in front of him. Dozens of bi-colored eyes stared at him in shock before murmurs began.

“What,” Dean murmured to Gwyn. “Been a while since they’ve seen a shadowhunter or something?” Gwyn’s bark of laughter and slap on his back almost knocked Dean off his feet.

“Oh, I do enjoy a good laugh.” Gwyn wiped a calloused finger under his eye to brush away a tear. “Do not fool yourself into thinking you are the first Nephilim among our ranks, boy. Down that way you’ll find another of your kind. Perhaps he can help you settle in.” Gwyn pointed toward a tent on the edge of the camp and started toward what the smell made Dean assume was the dining tent. He paused as he reached the entrance. “Lightwood, it would do you well to knock on that tent post first lest you catch an eyeful of something you cannot unsee.”

Another burst of laughter disappeared into the tent with Gwyn and Dean shook his head, starting toward the tent. He hovered outside it for a moment, listening to the soft laughs that came from the other side of the canvas.

When his knuckles rapped on the tent post the voices stopped. He waited a few seconds before the flap to the tent was drawn back and he was staring into a set of eyes, one of which was gold, the other the same blue as the deepest depths of the ocean that John had taken him to see once. He recalled seeing those eyes on a few occasions when he was much younger, and he sucked a breath in through his teeth.

“Mark Blackthorn.” Dean stated, it wasn’t a question just a statement of fact.

“Dean Lightwood. What are you doing here?” Mark squinted at him for a moment, surveying his face intently before his eyes widened in realization. “How…you’ve got no fairy blood, how can you be here?”

“Robert made a deal with some less than honorable folks that meant they got the oldest Lightwood boy for The Hunt, so,” He held his arms out to the side. “Here I am.” Dean peered around Mark to where another pair of eyes were staring at him intently. The black and silver colors of them were a bit disarming when he met their gaze. Dark blue, almost black hair fell across the almost porcelain perfect face that they were set in. “Who’s your friend, Mark?” Dean’s voice was cautious.

“This is Kieran.” Mark stepped to the side enough for Dean to see the other man. “A son of the Unseelie King.” Dean let out a low whistle, his eyebrows raised incredulously.

“Now, one of you care to tell me how a prince of the Unseelie Court ended up riding with The Hunt?”

“I would rather run naked through a field of rose bushes.” Kieran replied flatly. “Mark may know you, but I do not. You would do well to watch your questions until you have settled in, new blood.” The sharpness to Kieran’s words left no room for negotiation.

“We,” Mark stepped back in between them, looking concerned. “Should get you some proper clothing. Gwyn won’t tolerate the ones you’ve got. Come, I will show you where to go.” Mark gestured out the door, every tense line of his body practically screaming ‘please let this interaction be over’, and Dean couldn’t find it in him to torture the poor kid. He stepped back and nodded slightly.

“Lead the way, Hoss.” The two of them had started toward another tent when alarmed shouts drew their attention and had them sprinting back toward the tent that Gwyn had ducked into.

The scene that greeted them had Dean’s jaw dropping. There were two members of The Hunt with shields that appeared to be carved from trees held in front of them and spears at the sides of them. The men were yelling unintelligibly at a figure that was standing by the horses with hands up in a defensive pose.

The glow of the seraph marked bow and arrow was something that Dean would know anywhere.

“What in the hell is going on out here?” Boomed Gwyn, emerging from the tent with a stormy expression on his face. It softened when his eyes fell on the scene in front of them. “Well, it appears, Mister Lightwood,” Gwyn’s eyes turned toward Dean. “That you’ve got a stowaway. Unfortunately, as you’re both now in our camp, we aren’t going to be able to just let that go, now are we, boys?”

A roar of cheers came from around Dean that was almost deafening. His eyes darted to find Mark’s, who was looking at him apologetically. He leaned closer to Dean.

“If you think Gwyn is going to pass up the opportunity to possess two of Robert Lightwood’s boys for his Hunt, you’re mad.” Dean’s stomach felt like he’d swallowed a pound of lead.

He turned his gaze back toward the center of the circle, swallowing hard when Alec turned his head enough to catch Dean’s gaze.

He idly wondered if self-sacrificing stupidity was genetic.


“Alec, what the hell were you thinking?” Dean hissed, pacing the length of the tent that had been designated for him and Alec. His raked his hands through his hair, leaving it in utter disarray. Alec was sitting on the edge of the bed, his gaze not meeting Dean’s.

“They were taking you.” He said as if that was the most obvious thing in the world.

“We knew that was going to happen. It was either you or me, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them take you from them. What would Iz do without you? Or Jace? Magnus? They need you, Bug.”

”Well, I need you!” The silence between them was deafening as Dean stared at Alec. His brother had stood from the bed and was staring Dean down with so much conviction in his eyes that he couldn’t have continued arguing even if he’d wanted to. Alec’s voice was broken when he spoke again, “Please don’t make me lose you again, Dean. Please.”

It was instinctive to step forward and wrap his arms around Alec as tightly as possible, his face buried into Alec’s hair. The younger man clung to him like a lifeline and he tucked his head into Dean’s neck.

“Alright, man. Alright.”

“They’re going to get us out of here, anyway.” Alec pulled back as he spoke, giving Dean a lopsided smile as he did. “The others. They’re going to get us back.”

“Course they are. They’ve got Iz, Jace and Sammy. If any weirdass group was going to come up with some plan to get us back home, it’s gonna be those three.” Alec snorted a laugh and stepped back to drop back onto his bed. Dean looked down at the white linen shirt and black linen pants that Mark had found for him and shifted experimentally a few times. “Bright side, this might be my new style. Flowy.”

“Freeing.” Alec agreed, lifting the fabric away from his chest and letting it flutter back down slowly. “Guess these guys know what they’re doing in the way of comfort if nothing else.”

Dean flopped down onto his bed, his hands tucked behind his head. His stomach growled traitorously.

“Pretty sure we missed last call for chow.” Alec mumbled. He had his eyes closed when Dean looked over and it struck him suddenly just how young Alec still was. In the Institute, he was all authority and barked orders and it aged him, but here, in a tent among the trees and endless stretches of uninterrupted stars, he looked like the younger brother that he truly was. “I’m sure that if we asked, Mark could find us something?” Alec’s black eye popped open and Dean looked away quickly, shaking his head.

“We can wait until breakfast. Don’t really want to cause more of a ruckus on our first night than you already did.” He threw Alec an amused look at the squawk of protest that he got in return. “I know that I probably shouldn’t be, but,” He hesitated. “I’m really glad you’re here, Alec.”

“I’m glad I am, too. We’ll be home before you know it, then you and Sam can get your stuff moved in to the Institute.” The comment was offhanded, but it punched the air from Dean’s lungs and had him sitting up on his elbows. The only light in the tent was from the small woodstove in the center, but he could see Alec looking at him clearly. “I mean…if you guys want to?”

“You’d want Sammy and I to move in? To the Institute?”

“Of course.”

“Sam’s not a shadowhunter.” Alec pulled a one-shouldered shrug in response.

“There’ve been lots of people that weren’t shadowhunters. That’s what ascension is for.”

“Ascension.” Dean mulled the word around a few times before laying back on the surprisingly soft pillows. Maybe there was something to that idea. Alec’s soft snores filled the tent after a few moments and Dean was soon to follow after.


“Where the hell did Alec go?” Jace’s voice was unmistakably distressed. Sam watched him pace the cabin relentlessly. Magnus was gnawing at his painted thumbnail, nervous tension practically vibrated along his limbs.

“I’m pretty sure it’s obvious.” Izzy chimed in from where she was sitting on the table. Three pairs of eyes turned to look at her. “Alec went with Dean. He must’ve grabbed the horse before they could take off.”

“Could he survive that?” Jace questioned, looking at Magnus.

“As a shadowhunter, no.” Magnus started. Sam watched his hands drop to his sides to flutter nervously. “But, The Hunt changed him. You saw his eyes, they had already claimed him. He could’ve survived. He did. He had to have survived it.”

“So, how do we get them back?” He questioned, speaking for the first time since he’d watched his brother go.

“The Wild Hunt is notoriously difficult to track,” Magnus sighed, his arms crossing over his chest. “But, there are ways. A tracking spell. I placed it on one of the horses when they were young, the first time Gwyn visited me.” Sam nodded eagerly. “We can also go to the Los Angeles Institute. The Blackthorns may have some information that we need.”

“Jace and I will start tracking them. You take Izzy and go to LA.” Jace opened his mouth to protest, but Sam’s hand covered it, drawing a look of surprise. “If we want to get Dean and Alec back as soon as possible, we are going to need to divide and conquer. We may even need to find that douchebag that we met in the world’s worst funhouse.”

“Meliorn.” Izzy supplied.

“Right, Meliorn. Everyone good with that plan?” Silent nods from around him were the only answer he got. “Good. Then let’s get moving. Jace, grab anything we have here that we might need.” Jace took off to search the cabinets thoroughly and Sam turned toward Magnus who was walking toward him with his hands outstretched. He had a pendant between them. It was large and a glowing green.

“Take this. It will glow this way when you are headed in the correct direction and this part here,” he pointed to a small, spinning arrow in the center. “Will direct you. If you need me for anything, anything, you tell this pendant and I will be there.”

“Got it. You guys be safe. I mean it. I’m not explaining to Alec if anything happens to you.” Magnus gave a suspiciously damp sounding chuckle when Jace strode up with a pack slung over his shoulders.

“Let’s do this.” He clapped a hand onto Magnus’ shoulder before pulling Izzy into a hug. “We’ll be back before you know it.” Magnus looked between them both solemnly.

“Bring him home to me, boys. Bring them both home.”