Alec woke suddenly, the disorientation from coming out of deep slumber making it hard for his brain to catch up to his body's actions. His hand had slipped under the bed to pull out his spare seraph blade and his heart was pounding in his chest. He stumbled to his feet, glaring into the darkness as if waiting for an attack.
His eyes burned from the sudden forced opening, and he scrunched them shut as he shook his head to clear the fuzziness.
The automatic response of a soldier was to prepare for attack when his body was having such a visceral reaction, but now that he was breathing evenly, he caught on that the panic running through his veins did not belong to him.
Magnus hadn't stirred yet, Alec's swift movements also graceful in nature so they didn't jostle him, and he slipped out of the room just as quietly in an attempt to keep it that way. He knew Magnus had drained a lot of magical energy earlier, and he wanted him to get the rest he deserved.
Taking a deep breath, trying not to let his anxiety overwhelm him, Alec speed-dialed Jace's number once he located his phone. He knew now who the emotional outburst belonged to.
Jace answered after a couple rings, and Alec let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"Hey." Alec replied, hovering awkwardly in the main living area of the loft, not really sure what he wanted to do with himself. "Everything okay? I felt… Well, are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Jace said, but it was missing its usual confidence, and Alec frowned.
"Jace… You may be able to hide what's going on from everyone else, but not from me. Please talk to me. Tell me what's going on."
He heard Jace exhale through his nose, but he didn't sound irritated. Just like he was gathering his strength.
"Look, it's not… it's not a big deal, okay? I just had a weird sort of… panic attack, I guess."
"Is this because of what happened at Lake Lyn?" Alec asked, making sure to keep his voice low so as not stir his sleeping boyfriend.
Alec felt a surge of relief mixed with defeat stem from their parabatai rune, and Alec knew this was about to be a much bigger conversation. Needing the cool air to clear his head, Alec stepped out onto the balcony. The rain catapulting from the clouds made the moisture stick to his skin and it helped calm his nerves.
"I know something more happened there. But I didn't want to press you in front of everyone else. Do you want to talk about it?"
Jace was quiet on the other end for the moment. "Just… don't blame her, okay? She… she was acting out of grief. She doesn't know enough about our world to know the consequences that might follow such a powerful thing…"
Clary. Although a constant pain in his side at times, he had grown to care for the redheaded girl, despite his better judgment. She had shown some outstanding strength and fit into the Shadowhunter role very quickly for someone who had grown up entirely mundane, and she became very important to the people he too cared for so it was inevitable that she be welcomed into his restrictive inner circle.
"What did she do?"
"When Valentine raised the Angel, he didn't get a chance to grant his wish. So Clary wished for me to come back to life."
The silence lingered between them, stretching on as Alec absorbed the impact of his confession.
"By the Angel." Alec breathed out, rubbing a hand over his furrowed brow. He knew he had felt Jace die. He felt the part of his soul coiled around the part of Jace's snap and die off in time with his brother. He saw the rune disappear from his skin. He lost the anchor that was the other Shadowhunter to his soul. He had had a part of Jace as a part of him for half of his life—the emptiness of being the sole inhabitant of his body was a crushing weight and he had felt it instantly.
Alec pushed aside his own feelings from earlier in the day, the utter despair he felt losing his parabatai, and focused on the living, breathing one he had on the phone.
"What's happening to you now?"
"I don't know. It's like…" He paused, searching for words to explain something indescribable. "It feels like there's something in my body trying to get out. Or take over. I don't know. I don't know how to even figure out what it is. I don't know anyone else who has come back from the dead and didn't end up demonic or worse."
Alec closed his eyes, leaning onto the railing with his forearms. "We'll figure this out, Jace. I promise. I'm not losing you again."
"I'm sorry. I can only imagine how you felt."
Alec shook his head, despite Jace not being able to see him. "It doesn't matter now. You're alive. We can handle everything else, together."
A calmness swept through his veins, and Alec smiled as he realized he had said the right thing. The relief and freedom from guilt made it clear that Jace had been itching to tell someone about everything, and that their conversation had been good for both of them.
"Thanks, Alec. I should let you go. Aren't you at Magnus'?"
Alec's brows came together. "How did you know?"
When he had asked Magnus to talk at the Hunter's Moon during the celebration party, he hadn't been sure how the conversation would go, so he hadn't told anyone where he was going since it may have been a quick exchange. But he was pleasantly surprised to find Magnus on the same page as him, eager to move forward and be better, as a couple again.
"I can feel you too, remember? You're always more relaxed when you're with him. That's why when you don't come to the Institute to sleep or when you're missing at any point, I don't worry. You feel more... at home when you're with him."
The corner of Alec's lips turned upwards. Magnus' place was home, but even more so was the man himself.
"But I don't think things in paradise are back to how they were yet. You've felt more jittery than usual the past few hours, and that's not like you. Ever."
Alec licked his lips, mulling over how to explain his feelings when he wasn't good at confronting them let alone confessing them. But with Jace, it was a little easier. Especially since he couldn't exactly hide much from him.
Long-time adolescent crush notwithstanding.
"I… I'm afraid I'm going to screw things up again." Alec admitted. "I'm just hyperaware of every move I make, everything I say… And all I can think is that the clock is just counting down until I ruin everything. Again."
He was glad Jace couldn't see him. The rain wasn't the only thing wetting his cheeks now, and he hated his tear ducts for betraying him. At least he had managed to keep his voice steady, even if Jace could probably feel the squeezing pain of his fear.
"Alec…" Jace's voice was gentle now. "You and Magnus love each other. You're meant to be together. And not everything is your fault—you had some difficult choices to make and so did he. What matters is that you choose each other now, and that you talk to each other. You shouldn't be bottling this anxiety—you should be telling him about it. Maybe he feels the same way."
"Well that's impossible to know with him since he's always trying to play it cool."
He meant for his voice to sound more irritated than it did.
Jace chuckled, clearly noting the affection in his voice. "Alec, talk to Magnus. Tell him how you're feeling. You know I'm not one for feelings and especially talking about them at length, but look, you two have something special. And if you and me talking right now proves anything, it's that sometimes it really does help getting everything out in the open, even if the unknown still hangs in the balance."
"You're right." Alec sighed.
"When am I not?"
Jace sounded much more like himself now at least, and Alec rolled his eyes. "I also hate you."
"Sure, sure. Tell that to my parabatai rune."
"Now I'm thinking I should've picked Izzy."
Jace laughed, a sound Alec hadn't realized until then that he hadn't heard in a while. "Go. Talk to your man. And you know I'm here for you when you need it."
"Right back at you. G'night."
The call ended and Alec slipped his phone into the waistband of his pajama pants.
He let the damp wind roll over him, eyes closed as he let the familiar sounds of the city soothe his overactive brain.
Alec turned around quickly to find Magnus hovering in the doorway, eyes watching him carefully.
He wondered how long he had been there.
"Hey. I hope I didn't wake you."
"You didn't. Is everything okay?"
Alec opened his mouth to say one thing but closed it as he realized he should be saying the opposite. Jace's advice nagged him, and he wondered how to approach the topic.
Magnus joined him on the terrace and reached out for his hand. Alec immediately intertwined their fingers, feeling himself calm instantly at his touch.
It was easy to forget everything when Magnus was nearby, but he knew he had to grow up and push through the awkwardness to get them to the place he wanted them to be. He didn't want to walk on eggshells anymore.
"Something's troubling you. Please tell me what I can do." Magnus told him, his free hand pushing back Alec's damp hair.
Alec exhaled. "Well, I woke up because Jace had some sort of weird panic attack. I just wanted to make sure he was okay. He's fine—it was just residual from everything that happened earlier."
Magnus nodded, but Alec pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Sorry. No. That's not entirely true." He sighed. "Jace told me that Clary was granted a wish from Raziel, and that it was to bring Jace back to life. And now he's having weird side effects; the consequences of such a powerful force touching him I guess."
Magnus' eyes were round. "Wow."
Alec nodded, but his eyes found the balcony floor, his strength wavering.
Magnus' hand stroking his cheek forced his gaze back to his boyfriend, and Alec found Magnus watching him warily.
"You know, when I said we shouldn't have secrets, I didn't mean you had to tell me everyone else's too. I'm glad you told me about Jace, it explains a lot and affects the future, but I don't want you to feel like I've trapped you in some sort of secret-bearing contract."
Alec looked away. He knew he needed to speak up, but he didn't know how to do so without messing things up or coming off the wrong way. Words had never been his strong suit. "Honestly, Magnus, I… I don't know how to act around you anymore. I'm so afraid I'm going to say the wrong thing, or do something stupid, and I'm going to upset you or even lose you all together all over again…"
It was his voice that betrayed him this time, trembling as he rambled on, and Magnus cupped his face in his hands, shushing him.
"Is this why you've been so quiet all night? I just assumed the day had wiped us both out."
Alec reached a hand up to cover one of Magnus' gently. "Look, I meant what I said tonight. I don't think I can live without you. And I have had to try recently, and it hurt. It hurt more than I knew it was possible to hurt. And I can't do it again. I nearly lost Jace today, a part of me, and Max nearly died after Jonathan's attack and if I was to lose you from my life… or try to go back to the way things have been since we've been apart…"
Magnus wrapped his arms around his waist, pulling Alec into a tight embrace. "I'm sorry for the way I treated you in our time apart. I had to put up so many walls to keep myself in check around you. I spent all of my energy when we were near each other trying to hold myself together, trying to act indifferent and cold and whatever it took to keep you at arm's length. If you came too close, if you were too soft with me… I know I would've broken. I'm sorry that hurting you to force you to be distant with me was the only way I could handle being near you. It wasn't fair. I know why you made the choices you did, but I still felt like I came second when I've always put you first."
Alec nodded, nuzzling his face into Magnus' shoulder. "I know. I know I hurt you, and I understand why you felt so betrayed. It ate at me constantly, keeping it from you, even if it wasn't for long. I tried to think like a leader, tried to put the Shadow World ahead of my own personal investments, but it wasn't fair of me either. You deserved to know. And I trust you. I just… as High Warlock of Brooklyn, I didn't want to put you in a position where you had to choose between your people and me. And, well, clearly that's what ended up happening regardless."
Magnus sighed as they pulled apart. "Well, it's clear we have some things we need to work on, both separately and together. Trust is important. And communication. But with that comes trusting that I'm still going to love you even if you do make a mistake or say the wrong thing."
Alec smiled, lips upturned just a little. "That goes both ways. Even though we both know I'm the usual culprit."
Magnus kissed him chastely. "I'm not perfect, Alexander."
Alec lit up at that, mischievous smile gracing his face. "I don't know…" he sing-songed, letting his eyes run the length of his boyfriend. "I beg to differ."
Magnus chuckled at the compliment, thinking he was clearly a bad influence on the Shadowhunter, and he wrapped his arms around Alec's waist. "What do you say we go to bed? After some sleep, I'm feeling a lot more energized..."
"Hmm… I think I can have you eating your words soon." Alec teased, brushing his lips along Magnus' neck and up behind his ear. As expected, Magnus shivered and pulled him closer.
"Well, look who's not playing fair…"
"Who said anything about fair?"
Magnus dragged him back to their bedroom, happy to make up for lost time.
And when Jace fell asleep later that night, he couldn't help but be eased into happier dreams, his parabatai rune emitting the soft, warm feeling of finally being home.