He couldn’t stop pacing the length of the loft’s kitchen, fingers wringing together nervously as he wore a track into the fluffy carpet Magnus had insisted needed to be placed right outside the threshold of the kitchen. Alec traversed the length of the kitchen, continued on into the living area across that carpet, and then pivoted and retraced his steps. Over and over and over again; a mindless journey with thoughts too heavy to keep still.
Alec’s wringing fingers found the solid metal of their wedding band, wrapped securely at the base of his ring finger. Tugging it free from the fixed position, stopping it below his second knuckle, Alec began twisting the band around his finger, smooth metal sliding over warm skin. It was a gesture Alec performed often, especially once he had first gotten the ring. Before this – before Magnus – Alec hadn’t worn jewelry. The weight of a sturdy ring on his finger was unfamiliar and mildly uncomfortable after too long. But because it was Magnus, because of what it meant, Alec continued to wear it happily. He became used to the weight of it, and felt naked – incomplete – whenever he had to take it off to wash the dishes or get in the shower. He also removed it to sleep, the press of it too strange to sleep with, but it was always within reach of their bed, put on first thing in the morning.
Despite the familiarity, the gesture of popping it loose and twisting it was even more familiar. A nervous habit, an anxious habit, and Alec was very much aware of just how unsettled he was right now.
Magnus had been out all night – something about a pressing meeting with other warlocks that apparently couldn’t wait until morning. Then again, Alec should have known better by now, because Downworlders seemed to operate on a clock fixated during the hours of darkness, unlike the mundanes. His husband – who had been halfway out the door – had also assured him that it wouldn’t take more than a couple hours.
These reminders do nothing to settle his racing pulse as the hands on the clock in the kitchen click towards eight in the morning and the device chimes cheerfully. The sun has long breached the horizon and spills warm light in through the large windows. If it weren’t halfway through December, Alec would open them up and let the curtains flutter in the breeze in a way he’s always found beautiful but never mentions out loud.
He’s thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong at this meeting, making it drag on for endless hours while Alec had been unable to fall asleep without Magnus’ comforting weight beside him in bed. He had tried at one point, but had lasted barely five minutes. They didn’t always cuddle up in one another’s space, but Alec was used to at least feeling the dip towards the other side of the mattress, playfully tussling for the sheets as they settled in, the soft, soothing and steady rhythm of Magnus’ breathing. It made nights more bearable, made falling asleep a little easier. Without any of that, Alec had flung the sheets aside quickly and fled the bedroom without a backward glance.
He hadn’t tried to go back to sleep since.
At exactly a quarter past eight in the morning, Alec hears the familiar click of the front door handle turning from where he’s just stepped onto the carpet outside the kitchen again. (That should have been his first clue to worry. Magnus always portals home.) Slipping his ring back into the snug position against the base of his finger, Alec diverts his path and turns his feet towards the front of the loft. Reprimand and worry are poised on his tongue, and promptly die there when he catches sight of his warlock.
Magnus leans his weight against the front door to get it to click back into place, a heavy, strained sigh escaping and sounding painful even from across the front room. Alec’s breath catches in his throat and he all but leaps over the coffee table to get to Magnus’ side faster. His hands catching gently at Magnus’ upper arms seem to startle the warlock, like he didn’t expect Alec to be awake this early.
Having Magnus looking up right at Alec is so much worse, because the cheerful sunlight from the windows illuminates just how dark the bruises blooming along Magnus’ jawline and cheekbone are. It makes Alec feel frozen with fear, feel burned with anger. His grip tightens minutely and he doesn’t miss the way Magnus flinches. Guilt pools in Alec’s gut and washes away the anger and fear momentarily, long enough for Alec to focus and find his voice without losing his mind.
“Magnus,” spoken on a breath, gently coaxes the warlock’s gaze up to his own. “What happened last night?”
Magnus sighs, leaning some of his weight off the door and into Alec’s sturdy grip. Exhaustion is obvious in every line of his posture, and the honesty of it leaves Alec’s unsettled pulse thumping erratically. If Magnus was simply just tired, Alec wouldn’t be as worried – could understand since his husband has been out all night. But the blossoming bruises and occasional wince leave Alec feeling distinctly ruffled and overly protective.
“I was caught off guard by a demon,” the warlock finally admits, dark colored human eyes drooping sleepily as he tries to remain focused. Alec feels his heart jump in his chest at Magnus’ admission. He’s quick to try and tug his husband further into the apartment, startled when Magnus pulls against him, resists, staying leaned up against the door.
“Dizzy,” is all Magnus offers, a soft mutter as his eyes slip closed and his head tips back to thud gently against the dark wood. Allowing Magnus to remain where he is, Alec presses a little closer, fingers still firmly wrapped around his husband’s upper arms, supportive and steady, as Alec scrutinizes the bruises marring his warlock’s face. The marks are already a deep purple and slightly swollen, meaning they’ve had time to sit and form since impact. This revelation does nothing to improve Alec’s mood.
He’s more considerate with the volume of his voice this time around, not that he was excessively loud to begin with.
“Magnus, I need details. How badly are you hurt?” If it turned out to be something that couldn’t wait to heal until Magnus had recovered enough magic, Alec would have to take him to a medic. Vivid memories of the last time that happened send an unpleasant shiver running down Alec’s spine and he sends a quick prayer to the Angels that it doesn’t happen once more. He didn’t think he could handle seeing Magnus laid up in a hospital bed again.
“It was after the meeting,” Magnus sighed after a few quiet moments, his eyes still shut. “We were in Brooklyn for the meeting, I went out back after everyone left, about to come home. Got jumped by the demon, took a while to weaken it. Got sloppy as my magic drained and hit my head after being thrown. I managed to banish it before blacking out.” Magnus paused here to take in a painful sounding breath, one hand drifting to his ribs subconsciously before he jerked his hand to a stop and sighed shortly, expression pinching with the action.
“Woke up with enough magic to portal here, but I missed and ended up in the hallway.”
Magnus’ sentences were unsettlingly short, voice strained with whatever pains the warlock was feeling and it only made the uneasiness in Alec’s gut knot ever tighter. Magnus had been lying in an alley in Brooklyn – unconscious, defenseless – all night. And Alec hadn’t known, hadn’t been able to go get him. That surge of protectiveness rose and rushed through Alec again and he once more tried to coax Magnus further into the apartment.
His husband stood up straight, taking his weight off the door and reluctantly started into the apartment. Alec remained at Magnus’ side, eyes wary and attentive. They were barely ten steps inside when the exhaustion clearly caught up with Magnus and the warlock’s knees buckled.
Alec was prepared, though, and moved to catch Magnus as carefully as possible, trying to avoid putting too much pressure on his husband’s ribs – that were clearly injured. The jostling still drew a pained whimper from the warlock’s lips, and though he hadn’t meant to make the pain worse, Alec hadn’t felt guilt like this since Magnus had cupped his cheeks in Maryse’s store and begged against Alec’s lips, “stay with me”.
Adjusting Magnus as carefully as possible, Alec got one arm under Magnus’ knees and the other secured around his back before hoisting his husband up bridal style and moving quickly to their bedroom. The sheets were still unmade, rumpled from Alec’s short attempt at sleep. He carefully deposited Magnus on the bed, placing him on Alec’s side since the sheets were already pulled back, and sat beside him on the mattress.
It’s as he is gently coaxing Magnus out of his tattered, dirty dress shirt that Alec thanks the Angel his parents forced him to take that first aid class before beginning fieldwork. It had seemed irrational – pointless – at the time, because they had iratze runes for healing. But Maryse had explained severely that certain wounds could not be healed right away, for various reasons, and knowing how to handle blood flow, check for broken bones, and do a basic patch up job in those cases could be the difference between saving and losing lives.
Alec has never been more grateful for his mother’s tact than in this moment.
Magnus’s torso is already bruising, angry and large and dark, but when he probes gentle fingers along the bruising, he finds no broken bones. Of course, that doesn’t make the little pained noises Magnus makes any less bearable, but it’s a small reassurance. That’s somehow, blessedly, the worst of it. His husband is covered in various other bumps, bruises, and scrapes, but none are life threatening or seem to be infected with demon energy. However, Alec is also suspicious of a concussion, and Magnus is too drowsy from being drained of his magic to make the diagnosis easy.
“Magnus,” Alec keeps his voice soft for his husband’s sake, but his tone is firm. “I’m going to let you sleep, but I’ll have to wake you up in about an hour. I don’t want to risk assuming you don’t have a concussion.”
Groaning, his husband makes a weak gesture that Alec takes as an acknowledgement, before appearing to fall asleep within the next few minutes. Alec stays at his side, soaking in the sight of Magnus – bruised and beaten as he is – lying rather peacefully in bed. He can’t help but think bitterly that this is where Magnus should have been all night. Not some dirty alleyway in Brooklyn.
Sighing eventually, Alec gets up and meanders into their bathroom. They unfortunately have a designated bowl for filling with water and a clean rag draped over the rim of said bowl for just this type of situation. Between all the curses, demon wounds, and stalled healing spells they experience throughout their adventures, the presence of this damn bowl has become a fixture in their hectic lives. For one reason or another, it makes an appearance at least three times a month – and that’s being optimistic. Whether it is for one of them, or one of their friends, it has now been dubbed The Water Bowl.
Jace had wanted to name it something flashier, but Alec had protested. He insisted that giving it a proper name would only amplify their attachment and need for it. Names held power after all, so to Alec, naming it The Water Bowl held the same power as naming one’s dog, Dog. It belied supposed attachment, but unfortunately revealed that attachment existed regardless.
Taking the bowl out from beneath the faucet, carrying it carefully back into the bedroom as water sloshed precariously at the lip, Alec set himself up carefully at Magnus’ side. Taking up the sodden cloth, Alec began the gentle, meticulous task of removing the dirt caked to his husband’s skin, being especially careful over bruises and scrapes. Magnus could always take a proper shower later, but for now this would have to do. It wasn’t like Alec minded the task anyway.
He was just beginning to tackle wiping down Magnus’ chest, barely even dragging the cloth over the massive bruises, when the warlock’s eyes fluttered, a sharp inhale accompanying the action. Pulling back the cloth abruptly, fearing he had hurt Magnus even more, Alec watched his husband’s face intently. It took a few lagging, endless heartbeats, but eventually Magnus opened his eyes, focus roaming across the ceiling before falling sideways and finding Alec.
“Oh, there you are.”
Alec choked on his relief and managed a quiet, strangled, “yeah.”
Magnus’ brow furrowed as he sighed, clearly feeling the ache in his ribs. His hand closest to Alec lifted from the golden silk sheets and Alec was quick to abandon the cloth in The Water Bowl so he could clasp Magnus’ hand, their wedding bands clicking in the soft silence of the room as they clashed between interwoven fingers.
Alec wanted to say – to ask – so much, but he didn’t know what was okay in this moment, what he could manage through the worry and relief. So he settled with:
“How are you feeling?” Spoken softly, and whispering, I was so worried.
“Like hell, honestly,” came Magnus’ weary reply. I know, I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.
Exhaling shakily, Alec gave Magnus’ hand a gentle squeeze before slipping his fingers free from his husband’s. Reaching for the cloth again, Magnus made a tiny gesture, catching Alec’s attention before shaking his head a little. Alec’s lips parted on a question, but then Magnus’ fingers were glowing a faint blue before Alec could stop him. The glow was gone almost as soon as it had appeared, leaving Alec to shoot a glare his husband’s way.
“I’m fine,” Alec couldn’t help the scoff that interrupted Magnus’ reassurances. “I didn’t drain myself again, just healed my concussion so I can sleep and think properly.”
Huffing, Alec stood, moving The Water Bowl away from the bedside before returning to Magnus’ side. By then, his husband had painfully and slowly shifted his way over towards the middle just enough that there was room for Alec to slide in and cuddle up to Magnus’ uninjured side.
With feigned reluctance, Alec sighed long-suffering and pointedly rolled his eyes, the effect ruined by the tiny smirk quirking at his lips. Truthfully, he was just barely repressing tremors of relief at having his husband finally home safe. A night spent up worrying himself to tatters was finally beginning to catch up, dragging at the dregs of Alec’s energy. Crawling into bed beside Magnus, wrapping him up in a careful hold, they settled comfortably into the cool sheets and Alec let the steady – if slightly shallow – rhythm of Magnus’ breathing ease his frayed nerves.
Magnus nestled his head against Alec’s shirt, likely listening to the steady thud of Alec’s heartbeat as his fingers picked lazily, idly at Alec’s t-shirt. The rest of his wounds could wait until later, and even though the rest of the world was getting up, Magnus and Alec were quite content with falling asleep, tangled carefully together among silk sheets awash with golden sunlight.