Le nuove storie sono in alto.

Personaggi: Alec Lightwood, Magnus Bane, Jia Penhollow
Serie: City of Hidden Houses
Genere: Intrsopective, Romance
Avvisi: Slash
Rating: PG-13
Note: -
Prompt: -

Riassunto: Jia's main concern is to find Sebastian, who apparently disappeared into thin air after killing the Seelie Queen. She seems convinced that Alec knows where to find him and she keeps dropping hints every time they talk. But the only thing Alec knows is that Sebastian and Jace are together, although the reason why still escapes him. Magnus, on the other hand, would rather not get involved, and yet he is.

“Of course, ma'am. I'll let you know as soon as I've got the information,” Alec says.

Jia Penhallow's image flickers midair for a moment and then the call ends. Communications between Idris and the outside world have been closed during the Seelie War and they have not been completely restored yet. So the Council enforced a protocol to keep in contact with the Institutes while the situation is still so uncertain. These two calls a day from the Consul are really getting on Alec's nerves, especially when he's got nothing to say to her.

Jia is a good person and she's a Lightwood's family friend – Alec has known her since forever – but, apparently, being appointed Consul makes you change the way you think. She's not acting like herself, but as any Consul would, which is both annoying and frustrating. There must be a lesson about power to learn here, Alec is just not sure which one it is.

A couple of years after the Dark War, full of resentment for the unnecessary hard way they were punished, the Fairies arose, moving war against the Nephilim. They should have been unarmed, as the Council had disposed, but they had managed to ally with the Wild Hunt, that historically had never taken sides before, and showed up heavily armed. The Clave was caught off guard, stupidly as it may seem.

Or at least, that part of the Clave that had agreed with the Fairies' punishment set by the Council was caught off guard. Magnus had always known that that was gonna happen, and consequently Alec knew that too. They and a few others had tried to warn the Council, but nobody listened to them. The result was almost fatal for the Nephilim race. The Fairies were restless, angry and seeking revenge. It was clear from the start that the Nephilim were outnumbered, even with the help of the Downworlders – which didn't come instantly nor cheap.

Then everything changed when Clary decided she had the perfect idea to end the war, except that she didn't and the Seelie Queen ended her. Eventually, the war did ended because of Clary's action, but only because her psycho brother, Sebastian, broke out of prison to avenge his sister by killing the Queen. Left without a leader, the Fairies scattered and the Hunt lost interest in the conflict altogether.

Now, they are counting the deaths – every day the number is higher – and trying to bring everything back to normality, if such a thing exists anymore. Jia is currently bearing on her shoulders the weight of an entire nation thrown on its knees and the pain of seeing her own daughter following her half-fairy love in exile, with no hope of having her back ever again since now more than ever people don't want to hear about Fairies.

So, of course finding Sebastian is of utmost importance to her. It would show the people of Idris that the Council is still in control of something, that Shadowhunters are not the lost, defeated people that they look right now. Not only this has been another bitter victory, but it was gained with the help of a mortal enemy escaped from Idris' prison. Bringing Sebastian back to at least talk to him about what happened is the least Jia can do to regain that respect that she has lost during the war.

The Council is actively searching for Sebastian. Those few men and women Jia could spare are looking for him night and day everywhere, but his traces seem to have vanished the same night he escaped from prison. Basically, the only thing they know is that he's no longer in his cell. Jia's convinced that if they are ever gonna find him, it will be because she manages to get the information on Sebastian's whereabouts from someone who actually knows where he is, namely his brother or anyone close to him, really.

Jia never said the actual words, but it's clear in the way she phrases her questions – as if they both knew Alec knows something – and in the way she looks at him. She's acting like she's doing him a favor, because their families are friends, not to openly demanding some form of collaboration from him. Alec wonders how long before she says they're gonna use Maellartach on all of them. He feels like they're being spared the third grade just because accusing Nephilim to lie against their own people right now would not exactly help the stay unite, stay strong campaign they're trying to pursue among the few hundreds of them who survived.
But the truth is, no matter how many times he tells her that he has no idea where the guy is, no matter the fact that in these past three years none of them have ever talked with Sebastian in prison, she won't fully believe him because once you're friends with a Morgenstern – not mentioning being parabatai with one – then you're automatically in cahoots with any other Morgenstern ever existed, especially those related to Valentine. The fact that Alec strongly suspects – namely, he's sure – that Jace knows where his brother is is irrelevant and Jia doesn't need to know that. It would only reenforce the Council's prejudice about them all. Also Jace would disappear into thin air the moment he knows they are searching for him, possibly together with Sebastian, and that's the last thing Alec needs right now.

What he needs instead is a shower, possibly two. And he needs to eat something, since he doesn't even remember when was the last time he had any meal at all. He's about to open the door of his office when the door opens on its own and suddenly Magnus is there, in a sparkly green suit that makes him brighter than the witchlights in the hall.

“You're blinding,” Alec comments, totally unfazed by Magnus's sudden apparition. At the beginning it was upsetting, he never knew when and where he was going to find his husband. Now he just assumes he is somewhere in the Institute even when he's not. It's easier that way.

“Oh, thank you, love.” Magnus smiles. “I just adore this suit.”

“No, I mean literally. You're making me blind,” Alec says, looking away. He starts walking down the hall, knowing that Magnus is going to follow him. “Where did you find that thing?”

“This thing, as you describe it in so many vivid words, is a unique piece made especially for me by a well known fashion designer. This is the only piece existent in the whole mundane world.”

“I don't have any trouble believing that,” Alec says. “Are you coming straight from Idris?”

“Yes, I had to water the plants.”

Alec glares at him. There's something exhausting in Magnus's constant need for sarcasm. He loves him for that too, but sometimes it's hard not to kill him. “Any news?”

“Unfortunately no,” Magnus answers. “Since the war is over, Alicante is a fairly boring place. Safe, now, but boring.”

“What went on in the last Council meeting? Actually, when was the last one?”

Magnus sighs. “Yesterday. They're having one every forty-eight hours now. I think they're trying a quantity over quality approach since the other way around wasn't working. The point is, nobody trusts anybody now and everybody is trying to take advantage of the situation. Vampires are imputing their many deaths to lack of protection by the werewolves. Maia's doing her best not to react, but she too thinks the vampires didn't do enough. In all this, the Nephilim only care about rebuilding Alicante and literally nobody wants to hear about opening a communication channel with the Seelie Court which, frankly, shows how shortsighted and unable to learn from your errors your people are. In two weeks we didn't take any decision. Nobody agrees with anyone on anything.”

“Great,” Alec says. Sarcasm seems a good choice now. “That's exactly what we need right now.”

“I don't know, I was thinking about maybe a bath and dinner. Racial hatred and inability to rule a nation never fed anyone.”

Alec sighs. “I do really need a bath,” he whines.

Magnus nods. “You do. You look like a train just run over you,” Magnus says with a disconsolate sigh. “What has this place done to you, baby?”

“Thanks, Magnus. I really needed to hear that,” Alec frowns. “Are you gonna always love me like that? Because all these compliments are starting to be a little overwhelming.”

Magnus chuckles and pulls him closer. “It was an affectionate, worried remark,” he says, leaving a tender kiss on his husband's neck. “Every time I come back here, which is awfully not enough, you're skinnier and skinnier. I'm worried that at some point, I'll knock at the door and only your clothes will answer.”

“Speaking of which, I'm actually surprised Jace bothered to come out of his room to open the door for you,” Alec says. The Institute is programmed to let Shadowhunters in and keep everyone else out, so there must always be someone ready to let his husband in. He stills has to figure out a way for Magnus to come and go as he pleases. Creating a portal every time he wants to come to the Institute would be easy, but they're trying not to give the Council more reasons to hate them. “He lives walled-up in there.”

“About that,” Magnus clears his throat. The vagueness in his voice instantly alerts Alec. He is a warrior and he's also a nervous person, so when he senses a change of any kind he's naturally ready to react to whatever is about to happen. Magnus feels him tense under his fingers.

“What?” Alec asks, and then suddenly he realizes the only possible reason behind Magnus's caution. “Magnus, did Jace open the door for you?”

Magnus scratches the back of his neck. “Not technically,” he says slowly. “But from a certain point of view, if you take genetic into great consideration and maybe squint your eyes, it was Jace who opened the door for me.”

Alec glared at him even more. “Magnus, did or did not Jace open the door for you?”

“No, he didn't,” Magnus sighs. Some things he can hide his husband, some things just pour out of him without control. He really hopes that certain events that definitely fall into the first category don't decide to suddenly be part of the other. “It was Thomas. It looks like his father is gone again.”

“Thomas?” Alec looks appalled as he stops right in the middle of the hall, the face of someone who's aware that a very bad thing happened and he did nothing to prevent it. Anger is something he deals with everyday, but he doesn't work well with fear. Shadowhunters are never afraid. And yet, Alec is constantly scared as far as Thomas' safety is concerned. Alec is as protective with that kid as Jace is willing to raise him a daredevil like he was. “By the Angel, it could have been anyone! Anyone, Magnus!”

“Who? This place looks abandoned to mundane eyes.”

“Well, it's not mundanes I'm worried about.”

“Are you worrying about Downworlders now, Alexander?” Magnus asks, arching an eyebrow.

Alec rolls his eyes. “Well, not every Downworlder is you, Magnus,” he says. “But fairies were killing Nephilim up to two days ago. So, yes, I worry about Downworlders. And demons. And a fugitive psychopath who also happens to be the kid's uncle.”

“Sebastian would never show up like that,” Magnus comments.

“Right! 'Cause he'd rather have Jace come to him, apparently!” Alec snaps and then he takes a deep breath, hiding his face in his hands for a moment. “I'm gonna kill him.”

Magnus has a certain experience with Shadowhunters suddenly unable to deal with what's happening to them, but Alex is a completely different matter. One thing is helping someone that you know and you care for, but whose life ultimately doesn't really affect yours. Another is wanting to help the man you love and be scared to do or say the wrong thing because you don't have any idea of how the problem should be solved.

Sometimes Magnus looks at his husband and he realizes that Alec's problems are not emotional anymore. He is an introvert, he doesn't share easily, but he learned how to deal with his own feelings without letting them rule him completely. Probably his journey to accept himself in the past years helped him with that, but the problems he has now are practical problems. There are people he must answer to. He has decisions to make. Other people's lives to organize. And, most of all, he has something to prove to the Council. He must – and that's imperative – come out of this trial period as Head of the Institute with something to show for himself. And now everything is either not working or falling apart around him.

A simple Don't worry, everything's gonna be okay isn't enough. He needs practical solutions, and Magnus doesn't always know how to advise him. He knows the Law, he knows the Nephilim system, but he is not a Shadowhunter and he can't really think like one. Warlocks are lonely creatures. They recognize themselves as a group enough to want a representative, but they're not a people like the Nephilim, they don't have packs like the werewolves or the vampires, and they value too much their human side to consider themselves a different species entirely like the faeries do. They stick together but they ultimately live apart. So, Magnus can see how much Alec needs the approval of his community, how strong the Clave's judgment weighs on his every decision, but it doesn't come natural to him to take it into consideration while trying to find a solution to a certain problem. Sometimes he suggests something to Alec and his husband tries his best not to show his frustration as he explains how he doesn't want to do something that would certainly work just because that's not what Shadowhunters do, Magnus.

Magnus can't help him as much as he would like and that hurts, especially when he sees that sometimes Alec is utterly, painfully alone in this. “Listen,” he sighs, as he tries to find the right words to say without upsetting his husband. Alec's got the tendency to face all his problems at once, and more often than not that ends in him being overwhelmed by them. “Let's try and focus on the problems we really have. Something could have happened to Thomas, but it didn't.” Alec opens his mouth, ready to protest, but Magnus keeps talking. “And I promise you I will come up with something to protect him in case he should take a step out of this place without one of us.”

Alec's face doesn't exactly relax – Magnus is pretty sure last time he saw his relaxed face was a long time ago, before the war and possibly before they were even married – but his expression softens a little, and Magnus is willing to consider that a satisfying victory for the moment. "Fine," Alec nods. "But where is he now?"

"Who?" Magnus blinks.

"Thomas," Alec frowns. "Thomas, Magnus. Where is our nephew?"

"Oh! He's back in his room," Magnus says right away. Part of his brain was already making up some credible half-lie on Jace's whereabouts. "I took care of that."

Alec frowns even more.

"Totally in a non-criminal way. In a loving, caring uncle way," Magnus hastily explains. And then he frowns at himself too. "And I don't know why but it ended up sounding even worse."

Alec closes his eyes and sighs. He looks on the verge of screaming or dropping everything and living the rest of his life as a stripper. Magnus might have just imagined this last part, tho. "Listen," the warlock says, wrapping his husband in his arms and kissing the top of his head. "The kid is alright. Why don't you go take that bath while I fix something for dinner? And, please, don't mistake this for a suggestion. It is an order. So, you'd better go if you don't want me to unleash my unearthly powers and open the gate of hell just to show my wrath," he concludes, gently pushing Alec in the general direction of the bathroom. "You don't know what opening the gate of hell entails. It's an honest-to-God messy affair, and it's too late for that kind of black magic. Chop chop!"

Alec can't help but laugh as he walks away, the sound of his husband clapping hands echoing in the hall.


Warlocks – as the members of any other species – are all different from each other.
Some of them are good at math, others like to take care of people and have prominent positions in the mundane world as doctors and nurses, some others are very very good at acting and have made some of the most famous movies in the history of cinema. So, Magnus is sure that among the hundreds of warlocks roaming the world at the current time – some of which the Council is ignorant about – there must be one warlock well-versed in the culinary arts. That warlock is most certainly not him, tho. So when he said he was going to fix something for dinner, what he really meant was that he was going to summon something edible from some of the best restaurants around the city. He knows that, Alec knows that, anybody whoever had a meal at his house knows that. It is known, as they say.
So, when Alec comes back from his shower, he doesn't expect nothing different from the display of food he finds on the table.

"I didn't know what you wanted," Magnus says with a smile. "So I brought everything. We have some Chinese, Thai, and Japanese. Some burgers. Pizza. Real Italian food from an Italian restaurant in Italy. Mexican. French. Do you like snails? They say they're edible, but I have trust issues with the French. And I think there must be some Indian food as well somewhere."

"I think this will be enough, Magnus. Thanks," Alec sits down. He doesn't feel better, but at least now he's hungry, which must count as an improvement.

They eat in silence for a while. Magnus tries to find some topic not-related to Idris, the Council or the Nephilim world, but he soon finds out that's a pretty impossible task. As a matter of fact, now everything it's either Idris, the Council or the Nephilim for a Shadowhunter. And somehow he feels that Alec would not be interested in discussing the life and work of last decade's mundane entertainers. The documentary he saw was pretty good, tho. So, he waits for Alec to start a conversation, and of course Alec does that by asking the only question Magnus would have gladly avoided for another million years.

"Why do you think Jace keeps going to him?" He asks, vaguely considering the spoonful of Cantonese fried rice. "I mean, what's the point?

Magnus knows he's got two options. He can try very hard to avoid the question – maybe even employing some fireworks – or he can do the right thing and tell the truth. The fireworks are red, blue and green. They are tiny and they just magically explode in colorful and visually stunning micro-designs right at the center of the table. They are a little masterpiece, really, but when he looks up at his husband with a sweet smile full of promises and plans for later on that night, Alec welcomes him with his trademarked look of disappointment.

"You are avoiding the question."

Magnus really hopes to hear a question mark at the end of that sentence, but there's undoubtedly only a period. Magnus hates periods, they bring with them that sense of inescapable inevitability that always makes him uncomfortable. Even when he's not risking to sleep on the couch, let alone when he is.

"Now I know the reason why Jace keeps going to Sebastian must be serious," Alec continues, his ice blue eyes so cold they could freeze Magnus's lasagna.

"I wouldn't call them serious reasons," Magnus manages to say. "It's more of a grief therapy with some gradients of queer loving involved."

"What?" Alec frowns.

Magnus sighs and with a simple flick of his fingers he makes the fireworks disappear. "Clary's death hit them both badly."

"No doubts Jace is devastated," Alec agrees. "But I hope Sebastian is not even trying to pass off his perverted obsession for his sister as love, because that's ridiculous. May I remind you that he was ready to trap her in Hell forever?"

They don't talk much about what happened in that place. As it was to be expected, they all came back from Hell a little bit traumatized, and after what they have lost in there – or what they have been reminded of, as in Alec and Magnus's case – they don't like to remember that particular moment. They get all sad for one thing or another, and Simon's sacrifice and loss manage to be unbearable sometimes because his return to the mundane world is lined with their inevitable sense of guilt.

"You're not being fair to him," Magnus says, sweetly. "He was a completely different person during the Dark War. In fact, he wasn't even Sebastian or Jonathan or whoever he was supposed to be. He was the person the demon blood had shaped him into. He had a different moral, a distorted sense of reality and, most of all, of love. I think he actually loved Clary, but he was not equipped to deal with the feeling, he had no guidelines to follow on that matter. His father's education had no room for feelings, and the only brother he had know up to that moment stole, in his eyes, the only form of love he had ever received."

"Are you justifying him?" There's anger in Alec's voice. And also a pinch of disbelief. But mostly anger. Definitely anger.

"No, I'm just putting things in perspective," Magnus says. "What Sebastian did before and during the Dark War were horrible things, but Clary burned away the person who did them. And whether we like it or not, what's left after that it's a new person. We can't judge what he will do or feel from now on as we would have done in the past. It's simply not fair, and it nullifies the cleansing power of the heavenly fire. If the fire is said to cleanse, then he's cleansed."

"Fine," Alec conceeds. He's not quite there yet, but at least he recognizes he doesn't have any arguments to respond with, so he moves on. "This still doesn't explain why Jace needs to go to him so often. If he needs to mourn Clary, we all knew her better than Sebastian!"

"Yes, but the way those two deal with grief doesn't agree with our married life," Magnus finally says. He looks up, hoping that the meaningful look in his eyes can deliver what's still unsaid in a satisfactory way.

Alec looks back at him and his brain seems to move twice as faster as it normally does, Magnus can almost hear the little gears spin in that pretty head. "You're not trying to say that..." Decency and, most of all, incredulity, prevent him from going on.

Magnus is really sorry to be harbinger of such news. He knows his husband is not equipped to deal with the notion of Jace messing around with another boy. A boy who's not him. A boy who was a psychopath partially responsible for the genocide of his race. But it comes for him the moment to face the truth, and it's better if he knows it from his husband than from the two lovebirds.

But Alec is not ready. He's so not ready that he blatantly ignores the honesty on Magnus's face – and he can detect it, since he has become very good at telling truths from lies as far as his loving husband is concerned – and decides to interpret the whole situation as something more suitable for his mental health. "Please, don't be silly!" He says, cleaning his mouth with a napkin and arranging it back on his lap like an old English lady from the turn of the century. And with that, Magnus understands his husband won't discuss the topic further, at least not for the next few weeks. "I just wish he spent more time at the Institute, that's all. It's already hard enough as it is without him running around with psychopaths. I have to keep lying to Jia, who must suspect that I'm lying anyway, and that won't look good when I'm going to formally apply as head of this Institute. Besides, I have much bigger problems with the Council right now. I can't worry for him too."

"What are we talking about exactly?" Magnus asks, sipping his wine. "The current reckless politics against the Fairies, which will surely lead to yet another war? The pointless meetings of this New Council, which won't lead to anything instead? Or the fact that the demonic presence has been constantly increasing in the past few weeks and we're doing literally nothing to stop it?"

Alec can sense the sarcasm and the anger towards the Nephilim in his husband's voice, but he can't really argue with what he said. They are so self-absorbed right now that they don't care about anything else but themselves. They have their reasons, of course, but as the Angel-appointed defenders of the Shadow and Mundane Worlds, they cannot use their most recent debacle as an excuse not to do their job. They can't call in sick to work, so to speak.

"As a matter of fact," Alec answers with a sigh,"it's a little bit of everything. Even if we wanted to take action, we simply don't have the people. With all the Shadowhunters killed between the two last wars our number are dangerously low."

"They don't talk about that while we are there," Magnus informs him. All the Downworlders representatives in the New Council know that the Nephilim still keep their stuff to themselves, but the Downworlders do the same, so they can't really protest, can they? "What kind of numbers are we talking about?"

"The official census will be conducted in the next few weeks, but the number is said to be below a couple of thousands people," Alec answers in a low, preoccupied voice. "We hardly have enough people to defend ourselves, let alone others."

"That's why the Consul doesn't say anything."

"The Clave is keeping it a secret," Alec continues, knowing that he's breaking the Law by saying this to his husband. But the guidelines about secrecy in a mixed marriage are very vague – that's because Shadowhunters don't like to take into consideration the possibility of things that disgust them, so they rather ignore something than regulate it properly – and Alec can take advantage of the loopholes. "The Shadow World knows we lost a lot of people, they just don't know how many. It's better this way, really. If someone decided to attack, we'd be done."

Magnus lets it sink for a minute. The whole of the Nephilim is now reduced to a handful of them. He doesn't remember a time when their number has been so low, and he has a lot of years to remember. It is indeed a tragic situation, not the easiest period to lead a Country. He doesn't envy Jia Penhallow, nor Alec, whose dream is taking him on the same path. "And what are they planning to do?"

"No official plans yet," Alec answers. "But we can't just recruit trained soldiers, it doesn't work like that. They would be too old to ascend. And even if we had people young enough to be trained for ascension, we're short on trainers. It's a really tight spot. But even before soldiers, we need children. We're gonna be extinct soon if we don't do something. I don't really know how they're gonna pull this off."

"By making babies, I assume," Magnus comments. "It's also a quite pleasant activity."

Alec sighs. "Please, don't make fun of this."

"But I'm not!" Magnus insists. "Actually, we should go and give our contribution right away, possibly several times."

"Our contribution would be pointless," Alec says, but his smile is proof enough that he has already given in to his husband's humor. "Our pleasant activity would not help."

"It would surely help us," Magnus says, and Alec can't help but laugh. "Plus, magic works in mysterious ways."

"Oh, you're convinced you can make babies with me, now?" Alec chuckles.

Magnus points a finger at him. "Don't put limitations to my magic, angel boy," he says. "I was able to make you laugh, wasn't I?"

"Well, that's because you're silly, not because you're magical," Alec says.

"It's one and the same," Magnus nods, solemnly. Then, he stands up, walks around the table and helps Alec up too. "Now, come. I want to show you the procedure that will save you people from extinction."

Alec sighs, but follows him nonetheless. "You know, if people really knew the stupid things that you say half the time, they would never let you in the Council."

"That is why we will keep it a secret," Magnus says, opening the door of their bedroom for him. "Let's shade this marriage in secrecy, lies and possibly good ol' perversion, like everybody already thinks it is. Being shady makes us cool."

When the bedroom door closes, Alec is still laughing so hard that he can't breathe. Sometimes his life is hard, but Magnus definitely makes it easier to bear it. And that's, at the moment, it's all he really needs.