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Hath No Fury

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Sixty hours.

That’s how long Alec had lain in the infirmary since they’d rushed him in after demons ambushed them during patrol. The horde outnumbered the four Shadowhunters at least three to one, with the full weight of their bloodlust falling onto Alec. Between the physical wounds and the poison corrupting his bloodstream, it was a miracle of Raziel’s own making that allowed Alec to survive long enough to be carried back to the Institute, much less the intensive hours of healing that followed.

Since before she’d picked up a single pen, Clary’s mind always turned to art to help her cope with panic or horror. In the chaos of the past day and a half, what stood out the most in Clary’s memories was how bright everything was: the seraph blade she used to cover Jace as he hauled Alec into a fireman’s carry; the harsh fluorescent lighting of the Institute; Alec’s own blood, which soaked through the field bandages no matter how many iratzes Izzy applied, dripping through the hallway like a macabre trail of breadcrumbs. 

Now the only color Alec had was in the deep, ugly wounds still crisscrossing his body; even his ink-black hair was mostly covered by bandages. Some of the lacerations were sickly green around their very edges, compliments of a poison too persistent for even Magnus’s magic to dispel immediately.

Speaking of... Magnus hadn’t moved from his spot since she last saw him. He’d stormed the infirmary barely a minute after they’d returned, clearing the room with a single command. Only Clary had been allowed to stay, to give Magnus some of her strength; it was the only reason she wasn’t out with Jace and Isabelle hunting down the monster behind this. One of Magnus’s hands held Alec’s so tightly that it had to be partly subconscious, while the other fluttered up and down the length of Alec’s body, mending and numbing and stabilizing everything he could. Alec was finally out of mortal danger, but the coma he was currently in was outside anyone’s control. Clary knew that Magnus’s fussing was just as much for his own benefit as it was for Alec’s.

He didn’t acknowledge her when she sat in the chair across from him on Alec’s other side. Neither of them talked for well over a minute, just stared at the constant (but still too slow) rise and fall of Alec’s chest.

“Jace called me,” Clary finally murmured. Magnus’s silence didn’t faze her; by now, everyone knew better than to expect Magnus to respond to anything besides questions about Alec’s present condition, or updates on his attackers. “They have a lead.”

Magnus hummed, wordlessly pressing her to get to the point. When Clary hesitated, he finally looked at her, annoyance warring with the exhaustion in his golden eyes. He hadn’t bothered to reapply the glamour after dragging Alec back from death’s doorstep. Knowing Magnus’s discomfort with showing his warlock mark around so many Shadowhunters, most would take it as a sign of how much Alec’s healing had taken out of him. Clary suspected that the real reason Magnus hadn’t bothered to maintain it was because his natural eyes made glaring much more effective when people tried to talk to him about things he deemed unnecessary.

“They’ve confirmed that it was a coordinated attack.” She looked back at the body on the bed; specifically, at the ringed hand squeezing Alec’s fingers with renewed vigor.

“Against Shadowhunters?”

Clary swallowed, bracing herself. “Against Alec.”

Magnus’s other hand froze somewhere above Alec’s torso.

“Probably because of his—” she gestured between them, “—with you.”

“…Give me the name.”

“Magnus—” Clary looked back up, and immediately wished she hadn’t. The cold, ancient fury that was rapidly settling into Magnus's skin made her flinch instinctively. She waited for a lightbulb to break, or the floor to start trembling, but nothing happened. Magnus had a tight rein on his magic, and that frightened Clary more than any outburst. She was abruptly reminded of how warlocks were born.

“Clarissa.” Magnus’s pupils were nothing more than a single thin, garrote-sharp line. “I will not ask again. Give me the name.

“Izzy and Jace are already tracking him down.” Clary didn’t even know why she was protesting. They both knew that Magnus could find the demons’ leader faster; he’d had decades to learn the underbelly New York better than any current Shadowhunter. By the Angel, it wasn’t like the demon was even worth protecting! Yet Magnus’s shift in demeanor still set off alarm bells in Clary’s head. His calm was too tightly controlled to not be unsettling. His eyes glowed too ferociously to not remind her that he carried Hell in his veins. Something deep within her, maybe an instinct all Nephilim had, recoiled, whispering demon and danger and—

Now, Clarissa.”

It felt like an act of self-preservation to answer him. The way Magnus’s lip curled suggested that he knew the demon personally, but Clary couldn’t force her voice or mind to ask him about it. Magnus raised Alec’s limp hand with the same methodical control he’d shown thus far, and pressed it to his lips for a long moment. He watched Alec, and Clary watched Magnus, and of the three of them, only the comatose one was actually breathing.

The snap of Magnus’s fingers split through the moment like the crack of a whip. Clary jumped, looking down at the orange bottle that had appeared in her hands.

“Give him that the minute he wakes up,” Magnus instructed. He placed Alec’s hand back on the sheets and stood up, striding toward the doors with militant purpose. “And then text me.”

A portal immediately opened, like the universe knew better than to keep Magnus Bane waiting for even the seconds it would take for him to call forth the magic himself. Before she could talk herself out of it, Clary asked, “What are you going to do?”

Magnus didn’t pause in his stride. “Remind the Void of exactly who I am.”


 Clary was halfway through a sketch of Luke when her phone buzzed against her thigh. When she pulled it out of her pocket, Jace’s picture lit up the screen.

“Did you find the demon?” she asked without preamble.

“We didn’t find anything.” Jace’s voice was a mixture of frustration and bewilderment; Clary could imagine him running his hand through his hair. “The directions we got were solid, but there’s just… nothing here.”

Clary frowned. “Then how do you know you went to the right place?”

“Because something obviously was. There’s ichor and ashes everywhere, and the ground just looks like a giant scorch mark. Izzy and I checked, it stretches across the whole damn block. The street’s torn apart, too. It’s like something came along and just dragged these things underground before wiping the whole place off the map. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but we still don’t know if the demon who put the hit on Alec was here when all of this went down.”

“Dragged them back to Hell, more like,” Clary muttered. “I don’t think it matters anymore, Jace.”

“What? Of course it does!”

“Magnus heard about why Alec was targeted,” Clary explained quietly. She mindlessly began sketching a pair of cat eyes on the corner of the page.

Jace was silent for several moments. Clary pictured him looking around, taking in the destruction with fresh eyes, a scene whose real horror laid in the implications. “Well… fuck.”

“Yeah.”

“Has he come back?”

“No. He left me with something to give Alec when he wakes up, some kind of potion. Told me to text him when Alec’s awake. That was…” She looked at the clock on her screen. “About two hours ago.”

“You think he’s still…?”

“Would you give anyone who attacked Alec a quick death?”

Jace’s answering laugh was unkind, but nothing compared to the unforgiving malevolence in the eyes beneath Clary’s pencil.

Chapter Text

Alec’s nose twitched, reacting to the sharp smell of antiseptic before the rest of him began to even consider waking. Like evening fires or old sweaters, the scent comforted Alec in some instinctual way. It meant that he wasn’t lying in the street, possibly in his own blood, or bound in some windowless room with Valentine lurking just outside the door. Antiseptic meant a medical center, which (hopefully) meant the infirmary at the Institute.

Home.

The rest of the world returned to Alec in increments. He identified the mattress under his back by its unique ability to be too hard and too soft, another staple of the Institute’s sick bay. Tight bandages encircled Alec’s arms and torso. When the unintelligible cadences of multiple voices washed over him, Alec deemed himself awake enough to attempt to move.

Fuck.

Bad idea. Easily one of the worst ideas Alec ever had in his life. It felt like his veins had been replaced with needles, like his bones had been waiting for an excuse to collapse in on themselves. It was a (quite unnecessary, in Alec’s opinion) vicious reminder of why Alec was waking up in the infirmary to begin with.

“Jace!”

Even through the pain, Alec recognized his parabatai’s arms hooking around him and straightening him up. Alec’s attempt to protest withered into the bastard child of a gurgle and groan. Something round and narrow poked itself through his lips.

“Alec, drink this. It’ll help.”

“Did he even tell you what it does?”

Even if Alec had similar reservations, the angle with which the bottle was held to his lips didn’t given him any choice but to obey. The potion fizzed against Alec’s tongue as he gulped it down. Relief spread through his body, and even brushed away the last cobwebs stretched across his coherency.

“I didn’t exactly get the chance to ask, Jace.”

“Right, right. I forgot.”

The color behind Alec’s eyelids dimmed; someone had turned down the lights. Alec hadn’t realized he was scowling against the glare until his muscles finally relaxed. His eyes blinked open to see Clary pulling a long-necked bottle away from him. Jace sat across from her on Alec’s right, his hands still curled around Alec’s shoulders. Izzy stepped away from the light switch, bypassing her chair beside Clary to pull Alec into her arms.

“You scared the hell out of us, big brother,” she whispered thickly. Her shoulders were trembling.

Alec focused all of his strength into placing his hands on Izzy’s lower back. Returning her hug was beyond him, so he compensated by stroking her hair, something Alec hadn’t done since Izzy was ten.

“I’ll try not to make it a habit.”

Izzy sniffed. “You’d better not.”

When it became clear that Izzy wasn’t letting go anytime soon, Jace cleared his throat. “Izzy, he didn’t survive this long for you to suffocate him to death.”

Izzy flipped him off without lifting her face from where it was pressed into Alec’s neck. He huffed in his best effort at laughter, and Izzy pressed a kiss to his deflect rune before pulling away. Despite his admonition, Jace immediately took her place, tugging Alec close enough to rest their foreheads together.

Peace smoothed the warrior from Jace’s expression. His fingers brushed the bandages around Alec’s skull. “You okay?”

Alec nodded, closing his eyes to breathe Jace in. It was his parabatai's embrace, more than the familiar surroundings, that assured Alec that he was safe. “Moving’s difficult,” he admitted when they parted.

“You did lose a lot of blood,” said Clary. She and Alec weren’t yet friendly enough for hugs, but the sight of her still sent a rush of affection through him. Even if she only came in to accompany Jace, it was nice to see someone outside the family watching over him. Clary pointed to the empty bottle. “Magnus did everything he could, but you’re still going to have to spend a few days on bedrest.”

Magnus.

Alec looked around the darkened room for any hint of color or sparkle. When it became clear that Magnus wasn’t there, Alec deflated against the pillows. He’d thought…What? sneered a voice in his head that sounded uncomfortably like his mother. That you’d wake up to find him sleeping at your bedside, holding your hand like some sort of mundane rom-com?

Of course not. They’d only been dating a few months. It was selfish of Alec to think that Magnus would put his life on hold to watch over Alec once there was nothing more to heal. Other people needed the High Warlock more urgently than his unconscious boyfriend. And that was okay.

It didn’t make it hurt any less, but it was okay.

“Oh! He told me to text him, hold on…” Clary pulled out her phone, thumbs flying across the screen. “He wanted to know the minute you woke up.”

“He could’ve known immediately if he’d been here.” The sentence wasn’t completely out of Alec’s mouth before his eyes were widening in mortification. That thought was never meant to leave his head; he was the head of the Institute, for God’s sake, not a sulking child! Alec pretended to inspect the already pristine bandage around his wrist, not squirming at the weighted silence around him. Alec knew they pitied him for his naivety, but that didn’t mean he wanted to actually see it.

“He was here,” Clary softly corrected him. “He didn’t leave your room for almost three days.”

Forgetting his embarrassment, Alec swung his head in her direction. “What?”

“It’s true.” Izzy pointed to the chair that Jace was occupying. “He hardly ever took his eyes off you. Clary and I had to gang up on him to make him eat something.”

That…did sound like Magnus. That kind of intensity. Magnus’s refusal to do anything by halves was one of Alec’s favorite things about him. So then why…?

“Where is he, then?”

It was like an invisible switch flipped. Suddenly none of them would look at him. Clary bit her lip while Jace and Izzy looked at each other in silent conversation. Worry settled cold and sharp in Alec’s stomach. He forced himself to sit up straighter, ignoring his body’s protestations.

“What happened?” he demanded.

Jace turned to meet Alec’s eyes. “Izzy and I found out why those demons attacked us. You were the target. A Greater Demon who had it out for Magnus decided the best way to get to him was by killing you.”

“And when Magnus found out, he…” Clary gesticulated, clearly trying to find the words. Alec glared at her. Sighing, Clary unlocked her phone again. “It’s just easier to show you.”

Not comforted by the wary looks on the others’ faces, Alec took the proffered phone and squinted down at the screen. His mouth dropped open.

“What the fuck…”

“It was like that when we got there,” said Izzy. “There’s more than one picture, by the way.”

Jace had sent Clary half a dozen pictures of things that used to be streets, buildings, and even an actual bus. Only a few walls were still standing. One of them was covered with enough ash to pass itself off as black paint; the only thing that gave away its true nature was the clear outline of a body in the center, easily twice as tall as Alec. He stared at it while only half-listening to how furious Magnus had been, how far the destruction spread, and the fact that no one had heard from Magnus since he’d left to do...this. What snapped Alec out of his shock wasn’t something he heard, however, but something he saw.

“Is this AM?”

Clary leaned forward to peer at the time. “Yeah?”

“It’s nighttime in the pictures.”

“I know.”

“So why the hell isn’t Magnus back yet?” Alec snapped. “It never occurred to any of you that he might not be able to come back?” He looked back at the picture of the decimated wall. What if the ruin wasn’t entirely Magnus’s doing? What if there’d been a fight—Magnus alone against a horde of demons?

Clary’s phone buzzed again. Like he could hear their conversation, Magnus’s name appeared on the top of the screen. His text was short: On my way.

…No.

No fucking way.

Had Magnus been…this whole time? All because Alec had been hurt?

“He said he was going to ‘remind the Void who I am’,” said Clary. “I don’t ever want to know what that means, but if he’s trying to discourage other demons from attacking you in the future, he’s probably going to be…um. Thorough.”

Whatever Alec had to say to that was cut off by a portal opening itself behind Izzy. 

Magnus’s eyes were locked onto Alec the minute he stepped out. He looked immaculate. His clothes were well-fitting and neat, his makeup was striking, and shades of violet streaked through his hair. He looked like he’d stepped out to get cocktails, not spend hours massacring several demons on Alec’s behalf.

“Alexander,” Magnus breathed. He started forward, but jerked to a stop when he saw how Alec was looking at him. Magnus’s eyes (gold, they were never gold when he visited the Institute) dropped to Clary’s phone, still clutched tightly in Alec’s hands, and Alec could see the moment he put two and two together.

Izzy looked between Alec and Magnus, then clapped her hands together. “You know what? I’m starving.” She hauled Jace to his feet and was dragging him towards the door before he’d even fully stood up. “I’m thinking donuts. You want donuts, guys? Of course you do. C’mon, Clary.”

With a sympathetic pat on the arm, Clary took her phone back and followed. Neither of them missed how she gave Magnus a wider berth than was necessary. Magnus’s shoulders slumped as he watched her go. The tips of his fingers were a light blue as he began rubbing them together. In fact, despite his pristine appearance, everything about Magnus’s body language was screaming that something wasn’t right. His back was too rigid, and he kept shifting his weight like he was burning off excess energy. His lips paled under the gloss when he pressed them together.

When Magnus turned back to Alec, the glamour was active once more. Alec knew he was trying to seem non-threatening, but the sight of Magnus’s false eyes only made Alec feel worse. It was just another barrier between them, walls upon walls that Alec could hear slamming around Magnus’s heart as he waited for what he probably assumed to be an inevitable rejection.

“Do you want me to leave?” Magnus asked quietly. The resignation threading itself through the syllables made Alec’s fist clench against the sheets. Magnus noticed it, because of course he did, and centuries painted themselves across the curve of his frown.

“No,” Alec answered, and meant it. “Unless you don’t want to be here.”

“I never wanted to be anywhere else.”

“Clary said you were awfully quick to run off to fix your reputation.” And that wasn’t fair, Alec knew it wasn’t fair, but Magnus couldn’t have walked into a demon’s lair just to defend Alec’s honor. It was such a ridiculous thing to imagine, so Alec didn’t.

“I wasn’t—” Magnus let out a frustrated huff, and dragged his hand through his hair. “None of this was about me, Alexander.”

Alec sighed, feeling like an asshole. “I know. I’m sorry. Just…” He patted the space beside him on the bed. “Come here?”

Magnus didn’t hesitate, but he sat on the chair Clary had vacated instead of joining Alec. It was the first time he’d ever done that. Normally Magnus was happy to oblige when Alec initiated any physical closeness. It occurred to him that Magnus might actually be afraid of Alec right then. This man with such ancient and terrible power was scared that Alec might send him away and never wish to see him again. All because he’d taken it upon himself to punish Alec’s would-be killers.

Before Alec could open his mouth, Magnus beat him to it. “If you’re looking for remorse, you won’t find it.” His voice was steady, but incredibly quiet. “I will never apologize for striking back against anyone who harms you."

“Magnus, I’m a Shadowhunter.  Demons are always going to attack us.”

“Believe me, darling, I am painfully aware of the danger you insist on placing yourself in.” Magnus looked like he’d been fed glass and told to smile. “And of my complete inability to prevent it.”

“Then why—”

Wisps of blue smoke traced the movement of Magnus’s hand through the air. “Because this attack had nothing to do with who you are. It was about who you are to me. Someone thought it was acceptable to settle their grudges against me by harming you.”

Magnus paused to close his eyes and breathe deeply for several seconds. Alec flinched when he realized that Magnus was trying hard not to present his anger as he had to Clary. Even the magic he’d been releasing in little bursts was Magnus’s way of channeling his emotions so Alec wouldn’t be spooked. Because he’d frightened Clary, and couldn’t bear for Alec to see him as something that dangerous.

 Alec swallowed when Magnus reopened his glamoured eyes. He didn’t want Magnus to hide himself from Alec. Magnus was so patient with him, weathering his frustrations and concerns and confusion—Alec wanted Magnus to feel safe enough to let the tables be turned.

“So you killed them,” he prompted.

Magnus set his jaw. “Yes.”

“Slowly?”

Magnus didn’t say anything right away, which was an answer in and of itself. “I put down the last one around five minutes ago.” He still wrapped neutrality around him in a way that Alec was quickly beginning to hate.

“When Clary texted you? That was hours after you left.”

“Six hours, forty-three minutes, eighteen seconds. I told him that I would stop only when you woke up.”

“What if I didn’t?” Despite his epiphany, Alec couldn’t help but shiver at the dissonance between the casualness in Magnus’s voice and the cruelty in his eyes.

“He asked me the same thing. I told him to use his imagination.”

“Magnus…”

The humorless, clinical twist of Magnus’s mouth was worse than if he’d outright smiled. “I certainly used mine.”

Alec dropped his head back and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. It was too much; he needed a moment to comprehend it all.  Someone like Magnus Bane thought that Alec was worth taking on a horde of demons single-handedly. Alec remembered how hard Magnus fought to contain Valak when they’d first met; the same Magnus who was willing to keep another Greater Demon alive and suffering for as long as it took Alec to wake—without any guarantee that Alec ever would.

Magnus played with the lace cuffs of his jacket. There was no life to his next words. It was like Magnus knew how the rest of the conversation would play out, and was just reading off the script.

“Alexander, you’re an angel in so many more ways than one. I am not.” Magnus spoke to his rings, unwilling—or unable—to make himself watch Alec’s reaction to what he was saying. “It’s something I’ve had to come to terms with, to accept in all its ugliness, because it is as much a part of me as your Nephilim heritage. Nothing is too vicious—too demonic—when it comes to protecting what is mine. And if I fail in that protection, I will gladly let entire worlds burn in punishment. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve long stopped fighting it.”

Magnus squared his shoulders. His head rose slowly, and finally, finally his cat eyes were back. “Tell me to go if the thought of that repulses you. You’ll never have to see me again if you don’t want to.”

Silence settled between them. Magnus’s frame seemed to bow under the weight of his confession, exhaustion and resolution beating against him like waves against stone. He was still standing, but Alec could see the erosion of past confrontations, of lovers and friends and family who looked at Magnus’s storm and chose to flee. It seemed like an insult to answer Magnus with anything less than the complete truth, so Alec turned the words over in his mind, refusing to flinch away from their implications.

He’d taken it as a fact of life for so long that it was Alec’s responsibility—as the oldest, as the leader—to bleed and sacrifice for the sake of his family and duty. No one had ever told him so explicitly before that Alec was their first priority. That a world without him in it was not one worth saving. When Alec’s heart shuddered in the face of Magnus’s unrepentant passion, it wasn’t with revulsion. There was fear, yes, but also, just a little bit of…well, awe. The strength that it took for Magnus to own everything that he was, even if it cost him so much, was unlike anything Alec had ever seen. The sheer enormity of Magnus’s heart felt like being loved by a supernova. Alec didn’t entirely understand it, but he sure as hell wasn’t about to run away from it.

Magnus was looking down at his sleeves again. Alec summoned all his energy to raise his arm; if his hand dropped onto Magnus’s head a little harder than he meant, Magnus didn’t look like he even noticed. He stared at Alec, his face naked with hope and terror and such damn tenderness that it made Alec’s eyes burn.

“It’s just hard to imagine that you’d do all of that for me,” he admitted, tangling his fingers through Magnus’s hair.

“You’d want to do the same if Isabelle was almost killed, wouldn’t you?” Magnus removed Alec’s hand and held it between both of his own. “Or Jace?”

“Of course I would. That’s not even a question.” Alec nodded at the empty chairs where his siblings had been. “They’re my family; I love them.”

Oh.

Feeling like he’d been punched in the stomach, Alec sucked in a noisy breath of air. He felt like he had when Magnus first appeared at Alec's wedding. I can't breathe.

Magnus kissed Alec’s knuckles. His lips formed a quiet reassurance against the bruised skin. “You don’t have to reciprocate it.”

“I don’t…” Alec licked his lips. “It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just…”

“Too much,” Magnus finished for him.

Alec had to turn away from the understanding in Magnus’s expression. He loved it, hated it, but most importantly, felt unworthy of it. Alec swallowed, trying to make the words work. “I could. I mean, I already care about you, more than I expected to. And I…I want to see it through. I want to see what it’ll grow into. You, um…” He glanced at Magnus, and his face grew hot. “You deserve that. Someone who can say it back.”

Magnus blinked at him. His lips parted in surprise before he began laughing, like he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. “You are a wonder, Alexander,” he whispered.

Alec tugged at Magnus’s hand, wanting very much to kiss him and not about to let a little thing like not being able to move stop him. Magnus leaned forward, raising his other hand to cup Alec’s jaw as he kissed him. It was incredibly gentle, their lips barely parted, but Alec shivered all the same. That someone capable of such unimaginable levels of destruction could also display love bright enough for Hell itself to notice…

Yeah. He could see himself falling in love with Magnus Bane.

“Magnus?” Alec murmured against his boyfriend’s mouth.

“Hm?”

“Get out of the fucking chair already.”

Magnus burst into laughter, louder and more joyful than before. “Alexander, what did the nice moment ever do to you? It’s dead now, poor thing.”

“And if you don’t get over here, it’ll have died in vain.”

Still giggling, Magnus crawled beside Alec on the bed. Alec wrapped his arms around Magnus’s middle and buried his nose into the crook of Magnus’s neck. Magnus curled around him, pulling Alec closer into his side so he could rest his cheek on Alec’s head. Alec yawned, his still-healing body refusing to do anything more strenuous than squeezing the fingers Magnus laced together.

“Rest, darling. I promise to be here when you wake up this time.”

Alec hummed. He stared at their joined hands as his eyelids began to droop. Just before sleep quieted his mind completely, something Magnus said earlier resurfaced in his memory.

“Or you,” he mumbled.

“‘Or me’ what, sweetheart?”

“I’d hunt down anyone who hurt you, too.” Alec yawned again, shimmying until he was comfortable. “You named Jace ‘n Izzy, but forgot you.”

After a moment, Alec felt Magnus pressing his face into his hair. “An oversight on my part,” he whispered. Was his voice shaking? Alec couldn’t tell. He was rapidly losing interest in anything requiring consciousness, anyway.

“Hmph. Like I’m gonna let you hog all the protecting to yourself.”