Disclaimer: I do not own The Mortal Instruments or any of its beautiful, colorful characters. That honor belongs to Cassandra Clare. If I did own them, there'd be a hell of a lot more attention paid to Magnus and Alec's relationship, more warlocks, and there would be a way to get around Magnus's immortality. =/

Warnings: Rated T for language and sexual situations. This is a yaoi fanfiction, slash, boy love, whatever you wanna call it. So, if you don't like the idea of boy-on-boy relationships, then press the little back button on your Internet browser and go elsewhere. I do NOT want reviews bashing homosexuality, so do not read this story just to criticize gay love and waste my time. There are spoilers for all three Mortal Instruments books, plus a very slight spoiler for Clockwork Angel, but if you haven't read it, you won't even notice it. I'm just putting this in here so no one can bitch to me that I didn't give proper notice.

Inspirations: Though I'm a rock 'n' roll fan, specific songs from some of the more popular artists really grabbed my attention and provided me with inspiration for certain scenes and themes in this fanfiction. So you can thank Adam Lambert, Ke$ha, and Lady Gaga for inadvertently spurring me forward with writing this fanfic. lol. Also, the opening scene was inspired by the infamous corset scene from the amazing anime Kuroshitsuji =P

A/N: I've had Magnus and Alec on the brain pretty much since I started reading this series two years ago, but I've always been afraid of trying to capture Magnus's vibrant, eccentric personality and then failing miserably... which is still entirely possible, seeing as I lack Miss Clare's cleverness and sharp wit. This is not my first yaoi fic, but it is my first attempt at Malec. So enough with my banter and on with the fic. Enjoy!

Glitter Mixed With Rock 'n' Roll

"By the Angel, Magnus! That hurts!"

"I'm sorry. I'm being as gentle as I possibly can."

"You call this gentle?"

"As a matter of fact, I do. I'm trying to ease it out."

"Yeah, well, it feels like a slow, excruciating extraction my intestines every time you move to pull it out."

"I have to go slow, Alec. If I rush it and simply yank it out it'll only hurt you more and I don't want–"

"Ow, ow, OW! Goddammit, Magnus! You just shoved it in deeper!"

"See? This is what exactly I mean. Your impatience is making it that much worse for you. You keep squirming and all you're accomplishing is to drive it in farther. So stop moving."

"I'm trying, but it's kinda hard to lay still with this thing jamming into my gut!"

"Just bear with it a little while longer–"

"Oh, you wanna switch places with me then?"

"Not particularly..."

"Ha! See? You have no right to lecture me then! You wouldn't be any more comfortable if you were in my position... ngh... shit...!"

"Just because I don't want to 'switch places' doesn't mean I can't handle it. I've been where you are before and it didn't bother me. I have surprisingly high tolerance for pain."

"Higher than me? A Shadowhunter who was brought up on pain?"

"Apparently, seeing as that if I was – as you put it – in your position, I certainly wouldn't be whining as you are, darling."

"I'm not whining!"

"You just did, sweetheart. Really, I thought Nephilim were supposed to be strong..."

"This is different! If you had this thing shoved inside you, tearing up your internal organs–"

"So dramatic..."

"–You'd be complaining, too, high pain tolerance or not! Now get it out of me! I can't take it anymore!"

"Alec, what do you think I've been trying to do for the past five minutes?"

"Reaping sadistic pleasure out of watching me writhe in anguish?"

"Trust me, love, if I was aiming to make you thrash about like this, you'd be in ecstasy, not pain. And unfortunately, thanks to your stiffness, no amount of pleasure achieved by Magnus the Magnificent's magic fingers is going to override your discomfort."

"That's what I've been telling you since you threw me down on the bed so take it out already!"

"Honestly, Alec, I'm trying. Problem is that it's in so deep it's stuck."

"It's stuck? How the hell is it stuck?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because you're too tense like I've been telling you from the start!"

"Of course I'm tense! I'm in agony!"

"I know, Alec. A deaf man could've heard all your complaining and moaning. If you'd just listen to me and relax, your muscles will loosen their hold on it, and then I can ease it out. Right now you're clamped around it like a vice."

"O-okay, I'll try... Unnn... Ugh, no! Dammit, why are you wiggling it?"

"Because you tensed up again!"

"That's 'cause it hurt like a bitch!"

"Are you a Shadowhunter or not? Suck it up. This should be a splinter to you compared to all the other things that've pierced your body. Now, I'm gonna try again, so just relax and loosen up or I'll make you."


"On three. One... Two... Three!"

A hard tug, a blossom of pain, a spray of warm liquid, and it was out. Grunting from pain and exertion, sweat beading my skin, I collapsed against the pillows, gasping weakly for air.

With a loud clang, Magnus dropped the final bloodied Drevak spine into the metal pan with the others. The hot upwelling of blood oozed over my stomach from the raw, open wound, adding another layer of crimson to my blood crusted and hole riddled stomach.

Panting, sweaty, feverish and dizzy – a combined effect from the Drevak poison and the painful extraction of the spines – I cut my eyes over to Magnus, glaring.

However, the warlock was unaffected by the frosty glower. Flashing those sharp white teeth at me, he brushed back my damp hair with his long, ring-laden fingers and dropped a kiss to my sweaty brow. "Almost done," he promised gently, blue sparks leaping to his fingertips like static electricity as he leveled his palms over my wounds. "Aside from the tears, the whining and the cursing, you handled that well. Very mature and stoic."

My scowl deepened. I wanted to come back with something clever and witty like Jace would've, but the poison-induced fever and the peculiar feel of Magnus's healing magic against my skin were distracting me. Instead, I bit out defiantly, "I did not cry."

"You're right. My mistake. I meant to say you bitched and screamed like a menstruating woman." He shot me a pointed grin, his gold-green cat eyes shimmering in the light of his magic. "You can take your pick of which is worse; tears or male PMS."

Closing my eyes, my only response was to muttered, "Butcher..." under my breath. I wanted to say more, but wasn't sure what to say, so I opted for silence and let Magnus concentrate. Without conversation to sidetrack me, the whole of my consciousness focused on the strange power gliding over my stomach. Since my disastrous encounter with Abaddon, I'd been subjected to the curious sensation of a warlock's healing magic many times over, yet it never failed to amaze me. It was a contradiction; as cool and fluid as water, but as charged and volatile as lightning. A tingling cold numbed the pain of my wounds, yet heat seared through my veins like flowing magma, burning the demon toxins from my body. Odd as it was, there was a pleasant, almost soothing feel to his paradoxal magic, like those Icy Hot patches mundanes used on injuries.

Leaning back against the pillow, eyes still closed, I marveled as Magnus's lightning and glacier magic melted away the dizziness and the fever like a plastic toy held too long over a flame. In a matter of minutes, the infirmary stopped swaying like a ship caught in a typhoon, the heavy, leaden sensation lifted from my skull and my fever burned itself out like a guttering candle.

"All done," Magnus announced with a flourish of his bejeweled hands, blue sparks dying on his fingertips. While the warlock clacked off to the bathroom, I sat up slowly, cautiously. Dried blood cracked and flaked off my stomach as I moved. With the exception of fatigue weighting down my limbs, I felt like a new man; strong, alert, and agile as a Shadowhunter should be.

Glancing at the bathroom's half-open door, I stared at the warlock's face through the mirror as he washed his hands clean of my blood. Where would I be without Magnus? I thought to myself, snatching my stele up from the bedside table to etch an energy rune into my skin. The stinging burn was well-worth the sudden jolt of energy that shot through me like a caffeine injection. Between Abaddon, my dip into the East River and the final battle on Brocelind Plain, I would have died a hundred times over without him.

Just as I swung my legs over the side of the infirmary bed, the bathroom door swung open and Magnus strode out, a dripping washcloth in his hand. Neck craning to follow his path as he neared, I smiled at him. "I know this must be very tedious to you by now, but thank you for heali– what the hell are you doing?" I yelped, jerking back in surprise when he unsnapped my jeans and pressed the damp cloth low on my stomach. Cold, bloody water trickled down to soak the waistline of my jeans and boxers.

Magnus raised his cat eyes to me, one slim eyebrow arching, a sardonic smirk curving the corner of his lips. Holding up the washcloth, now stained scarlet with my blood, he quipped mischievously, "Isn't it obvious? I'm stripping you down so I can paint you head to toe in red and then dangle you from the ceiling like a Christmas ornament, preferably somewhere where your parents can see, and possibly with the words 'Magnus was here' signed across your–"

"Magnus!" I interrupted with a choked cry, color flooding my face.

With a dramatic roll of his eyes, he blew an amusedly exasperated breath between his blue-painted lips. "I was washing the blood off you, you idiot," he grunted, then with a sly smirk and a glittery wink, added, "Not that I wouldn't find my prior suggestion extremely humorous."

"Well I wouldn't," I countered hotly, snatching the washcloth out of his hands with a scowl. I knew I was still blushing; the mental image he'd burned into my brain was humiliating. "And not that I don't appreciate your caretaking, but I'll clean myself off. My parents are bound to return from their hunt soon; imagine what this would look like if they were to walk in. Just because they accept you as my boyfriend doesn't mean they'd be thrilled with that aspect of our relationship."

"Are you entertaining the notice that your parents might think I have less-than-pure-intentions kneeling in front of their half-naked son with his fly unzipped?" The warlock's eyes glittered impishly, his grin sharp-toothed and blindingly white.

"It would certainly look like that from their angle," I pointed out dryly, beating down the very vivid memory of the last time those lips had been in the vicinity of my lower stomach. Try as I might, I couldn't completely prevent the slight reddening of my cheeks. Hastily, I continued, "It'd look like that from any angle, as a matter of fact, whether it's my parents or Isabelle and Jace."

And just like that, the thought of Jace walking in on us like this chased the memory from my mind, draining the color from my face. The mere thought of the taunting and sneers I would have to endure was enough to turn my stomach alone. Embarrassed and jumpy at the notation, I quickly turned away, buttoning up my jeans hastily.

Normally, mentioning Jace in Magnus's presence soured the mood. This time, however, other than a faint pursing of his lips, he seemed unaffected by the blonde's appearance in our conversation. Undeterred, he continued in the same vein and with a sly smirk, said, "Speaking of angles, I must say this is one of my favorites... particularly when it's paired up with the aforementioned impure intentions. Fortunately for you, I don't think your delicate, shy constitution can hold up to something as kinky as sexual acts in even semi-public places. We'll save the right angles for behind closed doors."

When I blushed and stammered wordlessly, he stood gracefully, a soft, self-satisfied little laugh worming its way past his shimmering, sapphire lips. Frowning, I threw all my attention into mopping up the blood crusted on my stomach so I wouldn't focus on the warlock leaning casually against the wall opposite me. Yet despite my attempt to studiously ignore him, I could feel his blazing eyes burning a hole in my head. If he was disappointed, he didn't show it.

"By the way," Magnus said suddenly, lazily regarding his sparkling, dark blue nails, "you own me for this."

Pausing, I shifted my eyes from my almost-clean midsection to my boyfriend, frowning. "Don't tell me you're charging me?"

"I'm not, per say. At least not with money." Shoving his thumbs through his belt loops, he gazed blandly at me and deadpanned, "You do realize this is the twenty-third date that's been interrupted either by demons or Shadowhunter business, don't you? And–" he added, holding up a long, slender finger "–the eleventh time I've had to save your sorry – but cute – ass. I demand compensation for the lost time."

I scowled, dropping the bloodied towel into the pan of Drevak stings. "It's not like I asked that Drevak demon to jump us on our way to Taki's," I pointed out defensively, then, realizing what he'd said, glanced back at him incredulously. "Twenty-three times? You've been keeping track?"

Magnus's expression was dry. "Yes. After the first four times, even a deadbeat idiot with a quarter of my vast knowledge and intelligence would've noticed at pattern; an extremely tedious and tiring pattern. If I could, I'd spend every waking moment with you. But between my duties as High Warlock and yours as a Shadowhunter, our time together is already constrained to a strict schedule, particularly since–" He broke off suddenly, a shadow flickering behind his cat eyes.

Immediately, I felt my chest tighten. I didn't need him to finish his sentence to know what he'd been about to say:

"Particularly since our relationship can only last a few years at most..."

Even though I only heard the words in my head, it felt as if one of us had shouted out the bleak words, and the truth of them weighed on my heart as if it had been filled with lead. Not wanting to worsen the ache in my chest, I chose not to complete my boyfriend's unfinished sentence and make the ugly truth all the more real by voicing it. Besides, Magnus's eternal youth and my mortality was a subject neither of us liked to touch upon.

Steering the conversation out of those dreary, stormy waters, I mumbled lamely, "Well, we did get to spend time together... You've been extracting those spines and healing me for the past fifteen minutes..."

Magnus snorted, fond humor lighting his eyes, temporarily chasing away the darkness. Lips curling upward, he responded, "True, but I can think of a number of other activities I'd rather be doing with you when you're lying shirtless on a bed. All of which, I must add, are far more enjoyable for the both of us than yanking Drevak spines from you and wasting precious energy. So you'll excuse me if I want payment for my sacrifices."

For a moment longer, I stared at him, trying to decipher whether or not he was serious from his body language. As always, he was the picture of indifferent ease, leaning languidly against the wall, his long legs – sheathed in dark, torn jeans – crossed at the ankle. Silver bangles jingled at his thin wrists as he crossed his arms over his chest, partially covering the homemade blots of neon pink, orange and green splotched across his wife-beater like pixie vomit. Tilting his head slightly to the side, his chin held at a lofty angle, the glaring infirmary light caught the sparkling wink of the charcoal glitter crusting his eyes. To the casual observer, Magnus looked as he always did: bright, flashy, and haughty.

But I could pierce the illusion of the carefree laziness he wore in his expression, see through the distraction of his flamboyant fashion and makeup. Beneath the apathetic façade, I read his true emotions; I saw them in his narrowed eyes, the slight downward curve of his mouth, the jittery, agitated twitch in his long fingers.

Sighing softly to myself, I stood; the infirmary bed and my stiff, achy joints creaked in complaint as I did. Walking over to him slowly, I paused when I stood toe-to-toe with him, taking a moment to gaze up at his impressive height. It always struck me how tall Magnus was. I'd always prided myself with being the tallest of my siblings, but when I stood next to Magnus, I was barely eyelevel with his collarbone. Shyly, I stretched up on my toes and wrapped my arms around his neck; the rough, shimmering threads of the gold and silver scarf he wore scraped against my skin. Pressing myself closer to him, a blush rose in my cheeks as I grazed my lips across the sharp line of his jaw, whispering, "I'm sorry for inconveniencing you, Magnus. I intend to repay you in full... starting now."

Without hesitation, I bridged the gap between his mouth and mine; as it always did, my heart leapt in my chest when our lips brushed. Barely a second later, Magnus's frozen stance melted under my touch, and suddenly he was kissing me back, arms unfolding to cup my face in his warm hands. A pleasant shiver crawled down my spine when his tongue slid along mine and I gasped softly, heat flooding to my cheeks. At the noise, he detached a hand from my face and placed it on the small of my back, drawing me closer to his heat. His other hand wove into my hair, tugging my head back to better ravage my mouth with his lips, tongue and sharp teeth. All feeling abruptly evaporated from my legs and it was only the persistent pressure of Magnus's arm around my waist that kept my knees from buckling underneath me. With a needy groan, I shoved myself up against him, touching chest-to-chest, hip-to-hip, legs intertwined as the kiss burned hotter, our desire grew stronger and out touches roamed lower.

Breaking away from the kiss first, his breathing every bit as ragged and uneven as mine, Magnus dove for the crook of my shoulder, attacking it with his lips. With a half stifled moan, my head fell back, my body trembling as he kissed and nipped his way up my throat. My lips began forming cautionary words, but the half-hearted warning died in my throat when he sucked gently on my skin, and suddenly, I didn't care if he left marks on my skin as long as he just didn't stop.

"Magnus..." I moaned softly, shivering. My arms fell slack around his neck and my hands drifted downward, fingertips gliding over his clothed chest. A hard bite to the shoulder was his only response, and a half-choked cry emitted from my throat, only barely stifled. Sliding my hands under his splash-painted shirt, I dragged my palms over his navel-less stomach, relishing the feel of his warm, smooth, golden skin. No matter how many times I ran my fingers over the unbroken plane of his skin, I never tired of touching his stomach. When we were kissing, it was my hands' favorite perch.

Chuckling in response to my hands' gentle strokes on his belly, Magnus tilted my chin up with a slender finger and reclaimed my lips. The soft, wet heat of his mouth had me gripping his waist tightly for support, my fingers digging into his flesh as my body melted under the intensity of his kiss. I never wanted to stop, even if I forgot how to breathe, even if an Oni demon crashed through the infirmary windows, even if Valentine rose from the grave, even if...

"Am I interrupting something?" inquired a mischievously delighted and all-too-familiar female voice.

...Even if my little sister barged in on us.

Heat flooded my face like lava spewing from a volcano. Flustered, I hurriedly broke away from Magnus and retreated several steps from him, glaring at the infirmary door. Sure enough, there stood Isabelle, clothed in a dark green dress trimmed with gold and wearing an expression akin to Church's when he caught a rat. Her gold, electrum whip was coiled around her wrist.

Still blushing, I opened my mouth to offer some disjointed excuse, but Magnus beat me to the punch. "As a matter of fact, you are. So if you'll be a dear and close the door, Alec and I can continue with our very important meeting."

Isabelle snorted and pushed the door open wider, her knee high boots clunking against the floor as she strode defiantly into the infirmary. The forest green cloth I had taken to be a dress was really no more than an overly-long shirt on Isabelle, and my protective older brother side blanched at the sight of that much skin. The part of me that wasn't rooted to the spot in utter mortification wanted to grab the sheet from the nearest bed and throw it over her.

"As much as I'd like to let you two continue with your... uhh... meeting..." Isabelle drawled, coming to a halt in front of us, "I can't." To me, she said directly, "It seems Pandemonium is having demon problems again. In the past week, bodies have been piling up in the alleyway behind the club; five mundanes and three Downworlders, I think, all bearing signs of a demon attack. Jace is already suited up."

Beside me, I heard Magnus mutter agitatedly under his breath, "Gotta be kidding me... Second time today..."

Casting an apologetic glance at my boyfriend, I sighed, "Alright, just give me a moment to gear up. I'll meet you by the elevator."

Isabelle nodded and grinning impishly, warned, "Don't take too long, boys." With a coy wink and a flick of her jet-black hair, she vanished back through the door as abruptly as she came.

Heaving another woeful sigh, I took Magnus's hand in mine, weaving our fingers together, and led him out the door and down the hall.

"I'm really sorry about this," I apologized sincerely, peering pleadingly up at the tall warlock. "I'm starting to see what you mean about the constant interruptions... I'll make it up to you somehow, though. I promise."

Though I could tell he was still annoyed, when Magnus glanced down at me there was an amused, playful twinkle lighting his eyes. "Hmm..." he purred thoughtfully, green-gold fire dancing behind the vertical slits of his pupils, "are you choosing your retribution completely on your own or am I allowed to throw in a suggestion or two?"

I blushed at the hidden implications in his tone and opened my mouth to stammer a reply... only to mutely clamp it shut when we passed Max's room. Or rather, the empty bedroom that used to belong to Max. Even now, even after all this time, I could still imagine I felt a winter's chill emanating from the bedroom. Without Max's bubbly, exuberant energy to light the room, it was as dark and cold as the sunless recesses of outer space. Even now, a knife of pain stabbed at my heart, every bit as potent as it had been when I had knelt by my younger brother's still body, holding his cold hand in mine. If only I'd been more like Jace and saw through Sebastian's disguise, if only I hadn't left Max and Isabelle alone with him...

Magnus, no doubt reading the grief and guilt in my abrupt silence, extracted me from my morbid thoughts by suddenly interjecting, "In this case, however, I suppose I can forgive you since I am very seriously considering joining you in your little demon hunting excursion. Gives me an excuse to visit Pandemonium for the first time in a very, very long while. It'll be a nice change of pace to participate in a party that doesn't trash my apartment."

"Or leave unidentifiable leftovers in your refrigerator," I added, gratefully latching onto the blissful distraction his words offered me. "Whenever I stay over, I'm always afraid to touch any of the contents in the fridge since I can never tell what's wine, blood or some faerie cocktail that'll make me sprout bat wings if I drink it."

Smirking crookedly as we came to halt in front of my bedroom door, Magnus slid up behind me and wrapped his arms around my chest. "I think you'd look sexy with bat wings," he purred in my ear, his warm breath tickling the tiny hairs on my neck. "Just like a naughty little devil..."

Warmth flared in my cheeks, and I hastily twisted the doorknob, detangling myself from Magnus's arms to stumble gracelessly into my room, obviously flustered. Behind me, the warlock chuckled and said something to himself that sounded suspiciously like "too cute."

Scowling petulantly to hide my embarrassment, I sorted through the mass of clothes strewn about the floor, searching for my gear. While I gathered the tough leather armor into my arms, Magnus threw himself down on my bed, stretching out like a cat – albeit a cat that looked as if it had tipped over several cans of neon paint and glitter, and then proceeded to roll around in it.

"So what are you wearing to the club?" Magnus inquired conversationally, folding his hands behind his head and crossing one leg over the other. How he could lay comfortably with all that gel in his hair, I'd never know. "And why aren't you changing in here? It's not like I haven't seen you without clothes on."

I paused, one hand on the bathroom doorknob, the crook of my other arm stuffed with my gear. Frowning slightly at him, I explained, "I'm changing in here because otherwise you'd glean too much enjoyment from the free peep show and I don't have time to deal with the ensuing consequences of that enjoyment. And you should know we're not going to Pandemonium to dance or have fun. We're going to track down a demon, so I'm wearing my hunting gear."

There was a sudden mischievous gleam in his cat eyes that made me nervous. I didn't like his lopsided smirk either, the one that suggested he was hatching some villainous scheme. But before I could question it, Magnus purred slyly, "If not now, then will you put on a private show for me later?"

His laughter followed me into the bathroom even after I slammed the door closed, locking it tightly behind me.

Flustered, I determinedly ignored the mirror hanging over the sink as I changed into my hunting gear as fast as I could. I didn't want to see the embarrassing flood of color staining my cheeks. A few minutes later, dressed head-to-toe in my gear, the sting of freshly applied Marks slowly fading from my skin, I was back outside, staring at Magnus in dumbfounded amazement.

In the short span of time I'd been gone, he'd had a complete wardrobe make over. The spines of gelled and glittered black hair remained the same, but streaks of orange highlights had been added to the wicked-looking spikes. Instead of his graffiti-ed wife beater, he now had on a low-cut, plum satin shirt that bared the expanse of his honey-colored chest, over which he wore a metallic silver jacket that hugged his arms and was encrusted with belts and buckles. Sinfully tight black leather pants replaced his torn, dark jeans, and knee-high boots of swirling turquoise and silver with heels to rival Isabelle's had been added to the ensemble. The shimmering gold and silver scarf around his neck was gone, but he'd supplemented its absence with other accessories: a metallic, rainbow studded belt slung around his leather clad hips; a ruby stud in one ear and a slim fang dangling from the other; a crisscrossing array of silver chain necklaces, from one of which hung a cross. The blue lips and nails had been traded in for a clear, sparkly lipgloss and lime green nailpolish. His eyelids were a riot of green and gold, complimenting the color of his irises.

He looked as if he'd strolled through his wardrobe in the pitch dark and blindly selected whatever his hands landed on. And yet, even dressed as flamboyantly as he was, I still found him incredibly sexy.

However, I chose not to voice this, but instead grumbled as I passed, "Are you trying to compete with Isabelle to see whose boots are taller or are you just trying to rub it in that you're taller than me?"

"Both," Magnus responded with a wide feral grin.

Pursing my lips slightly, I drew down my bow and quiver from where they hung on the wall, slinging them over my shoulder. After shoving a few short daggers and a seraph blade I'd forgotten to return to the armory into my weapon's belt next to my stele, I whirled around and strode toward the door, instructing, "C'mon. Let's get this over with. The sooner we finish, the sooner I'll be able to spend time with you and keep my promise."

I was three feet from the door when I heard the snap and felt my limbs freeze solid, as if ice had crawled into my bones. Frowning, I tried to turn my head to look at Magnus, but I couldn't move my neck. I couldn't even blink. Magnus, however, saved me with the trouble of trying to strain my immobile neck by gliding into my field of vision.

"Wha–" I started to say, relieved he at least let me retain control over my mouth and speech, when he smoothly interrupted me, "Alec, darling, you know I love that you're the only gay man alive who doesn't care about clothes or fashion, but really, there is a limit. Luckily for you, I'm here to help with your party attire."

Suspiciously, I stared at him and asked warily, "Help how?"

My boyfriend didn't respond, only smiled impishly and snapped his bright fingers. A long black pencil appeared in his hand. I'd been in his room enough times to recognize it.

"Uhh, Magnus... What're you doing with that eyeliner?"

The warlock's grin widened as he closed in on me.

"Woah..." Jace broke off his heated conversation with Clary to stare at me in shocked amazement. The other three had gathered in front of the elevator, Jace and Clary in one pair, Isabelle standing slightly off to the side, chatting away on her phone. Shortly before my huffy entrance, Jace had been arguing against Clary's participation in the hunt while the redhead hotly insisted she needed experience. All conversation ceased as I stomped angrily down the hall; Isabelle numbly closed her phone with a sharp snap. Three pairs of wide, amazed eyes locked onto me. "What the hell happened to you?"

Dragging one sleeve across my eyeliner encrusted lids, I scowled crossly at my adoptive brother and deadpanned, "Magnus."

Unanimously, Jace and Isabelle burst out laughing, and Clary hid her amused smile behind a hand. My scowl deepened at their response. Turning to my reflection in the elevator's grates, I tried to scrub the stubborn black makeup from my face. My futile attempts only resulted in smudging the eyeliner into a raccoon-like mask and redoubling Jace's hilarity. If we weren't parabati, I would've shot him in the kneecap with an arrow.

"Why won't it come off?" I exploded, whirling around to face the others. Glaring at Jace – who was now leaning doubled over against the wall, tears of mirth streaming from his eyes – I snapped, "If you don't shut up, I swear by the Angel I'll throw you out the window!"

"It's probably waterproof," Isabelle giggled, grinning widely as she stopped in front of me, intently inspecting my blackened eyelids. "Good waterproof eyeliner doesn't usually wipe off as easily as that cheap crap they pass off as makeup. And knowing Magnus, his eyeliner probably goes for a hundred bucks per pencil, so you might be stuck with it. Besides, why are you trying to clean it off? All Magnus is trying to do is improve your dismal fashion sense."

"That was the intended goal, but unfortunately Alec didn't seem to appreciate my efforts," Magnus's voice sighed from behind me.

Scowling up at the towering, manically grinning warlock, I growled, "I've told you. I don't care about clothes or makeup or fashion!"

His laughter finally subsiding, Jace wiped the stray tears from his golden eyes as he glanced at my boyfriend. "You might as well abandon the effort, Magnus. No amount of magic in the world will ever make Alec voluntarily wear eyeliner or wear anything other than dark clothes."

Olivine irises winking mischievously as he stabbed the elevator's down button, its mechanisms whirring loudly, Magnus questioned mildly, "Is that a challenge? You forget, little Shadowhunter, I hold the Book of the White in my possession."

Jace's laughter echoed off the Institute's arched ceilings at my expression of unadulterated horror.

"Oh, stop tormenting him," Clary reprimanded, smacking Jace as the elevator screeched to a halt at our level, it gilded cage doors clacking open.

"Why am I the only one getting smacked?" the blonde demanded accusingly, piling into the elevator with the rest of us. "Isabelle was laughing, too."

"Because Izzy was at least trying to help," she pointed out as the barred doors closed behind us and the elevator bucked, descending downward with a loud hum. "You were laughing for the sake of being mean, and were just making things worse. As usual." Turning her back on Jace and completely ignoring his indignant, haughty glower, Clary dug around in one of the pockets of her mother's old Shadowhunter gear, and produced a tissue. "Here. Maybe this'll help." At my wary expression, she rolled her green eyes and promised, "It's clean. I swear."

"Thanks," I muttered, plucking the crumpled tissue from her hand. Using the elevator's reflective walls like a mirror, I ran the rough cotton under my black-stained eyelids. The tissue didn't – and couldn't – remove all the eyeliner, but it did help in reducing the vibrant, midnight black lines of makeup down to a dull, dark gray smudges clinging to my eyelashes. Through the walls' reflections, I caught Jace sniggering in amusement and Magnus pursing his lips, muttering under his breath something about "wasted art." I shot them both venomous glares through the reflective metal.

Crushing the dirtied tissue in my hand, I again thanked Clary, who responded with a rueful smile and a confession, "No, I should be thanking you. If it wasn't for you distracting Jace, I'd still be fighting with him about letting me come on this mission."

Jace immediately sobered up when this comment reached his ears, glaring irately at his girlfriend. Although I was slightly miffed by her gratitude for my plight, seeing the irritation on my brother's face brought me great satisfaction. So when the elevator doors opened up onto the ground floor of the Institute, I threw him a vengeful smirk as I strode past him down the long line of pews.

My triumph didn't last long. The minute our little group exited through the heavy doors and I saw the slender, familiar figure rising from its perch on the Institute steps, the grin slid from my face and my mood soured. Just as Clary's smile and playful wink elicited a frown from Jace, the obvious brightening of Isabelle's expression when she saw him did nothing to improve my rapidly curdling disposition. My eyes flicked down to the phone clenched in his hand.

Ahh, so that's who Isabelle was talking to.

Lifting my gaze, I felt my frown deepen at his expression. Wide, dark eyes roaming my face in half-amused, half-horrified surprise, Simon said dryly, "Well, I can see you either finally decided to act like a normal gay man or Magnus's fashion sense finally rubbed off on you."

"I wish," Magnus snorted in a long-suffering, oh-woe-is-me tone. He smiled fondly at me in response to my annoyed glare.

"Neither," I responded bitingly, and in my mounting irritation, snapped, "What're you doing here, vampire?"

Simon's expression darkened slightly, his lips thinning in anger.

"Oh, don't start that crap again," he warned at the same time Clary defensively piped in, "C'mon, Alec, don't be rude. Simon's our friend."

Pursing my lips, I chose not to mention how his growing closeness to Isabelle made me wary, especially considering her taste for dangerous and "exciting" men. And Simon, being a vampire, definitely fell into the dangerous category if not the "exciting" one, and therefore was not any particular friend of mine. Not to mention, I was still particularly sore about all the trouble he'd caused me and my family in the past – as both a mundane and a vampire.

Darting forward to entwine her arm with Simon's, Isabelle scowled vehemently at me, blue eyes blazing as she snapped, "Lay off, Alec. Not that it's any business of yours, but Simon and I were hanging out before the call for the demon came in. I don't demand answers out of your boyfriend when he stops by, so get over the Protective-Older-Brother complex and don't pull an Inquisitor act on mine."

Then, completely ignoring mine and Simon's identical expressions of shock, she flipped her long black hair with a huff and stomped off towards the subway, towing the still-dumbfounded vampire behind her. My only solace in the matter was that Simon was as genuinely flabbergasted as I was by Isabelle's claim that he was her boyfriend. I'd have to talk to her about that later...

A nearby laugh tore my eyes away from my sister's shrinking figure, and I turned to glance at Jace as he clapped me on the shoulder. "I'd say you pissed her off just a bit there, bro," he chided mockingly, shaking in his head the way a disappointed father would. I scowled at him. Thwacking me on the back one last time, he draped an arm over Clary's shoulders and pulled her with him as he started down the stairs, gesturing vaguely with his other hand as he called back at me, "And everyone says I'm the one with the temper and insensitivity."

Clary glanced over her shoulder at me for a moment as she and Jace trailed behind the now far-off Isabelle and Simon, but eventually turned away. I stared after the four of them in numb silence, my brain still struggling to catch up with the events and figure out how I suddenly became the bad guy.

Behind me, Magnus chuckled, and I felt his long fingers twine with mine. "You sure know how to clear a room, darling," he purred, his breath warm against my skin as he leaned down to kiss my cheek.

Glowering at him as we followed the others, I thought of how all of this started with a stupid eyeliner pencil and growled, "Yes. And it's entirely your fault."

The warlock merely flashed his sharp teeth at me.

Pandemonium was much the same as it'd been that fateful night when Isabelle, Jace and I first met Clary – an encounter I'd resented at first, but eventually came to appreciate; after all, Clary's appearance in our lives brought Magnus into mine. Just like it was back then, the lines were clogged with an assortment of mundanes and glamoured Downworlders, wearing anything from normal street wear, to sparkling, sequined club attire, to full-blow costumes more befitting of Halloween than your average Friday night. Inside, funky, electronic music with a female vocalist thumped through the darkened club like a pulsing heartbeat, the deep base throbbing in my ears. Blinding strobe lights and colored beams flashed so vibrantly and erratically it was enough to make a normal person epileptic. The sporadic lights illuminated the low, white cloud of dry ice creeping over the dance floor and the writhing, flailing bodies of the clubbers dancing in tight packed groups. The club was unbearably hot and steamy and reeked of sweat. Just standing in the doorway of the club made me want to run into the nearest back alley for peace and quiet.

Isabelle, however, looked very much as if she'd like nothing better than to join the throng of dancing bodies and Magnus was wearing an expression of orgasmic bliss, as if the party atmosphere was his own personal Eden. Sometimes I wondered if fashion and the night life gave Magnus more pleasure than sex did. The thought made me scowl.

The music changed then, a successive drumbeat pounding through the dingy floor and a deep, thrumming bass rattling in the core of my chest. A chorus of excited female screams temporarily rose above the male singer's voice, and the shadowed figures resuming their dancing with renewed vigor. Beside me, Magnus grinned. "Great song."

Frowning slightly, I listened to the throbbing beat, an unusual mix of rock, pop and electro. I didn't even have an inkling of what it song it was or who sang it. "What is it?"

"Something I can relate to very well," the warlock responded with a faint smile; there was a strangely sentimental, far off look in his eyes when he glanced down at me. "The song's called If I Had You. It's sung by Adam Lambert."

My frown deepened. "Who?"

"A guy every bit as flashy and glittery as Magnus," Simon muttered to himself, smirking when Clary snorted in amusement.

Jace ran a contemptuous eye over my boyfriend's flamboyant, colorful ensemble of leather, satin and metal, and scoffed disdainfully, "I highly doubt that."

"He is," Clary assured, humor still coloring her voice. "He likes guys, too."

Magnus looked affronted. "My style cannot be matched by anyone, least of all by a mundane, no matter how pretty he is or how similar our tastes in fashion are."

Tiring of a conversation I couldn't follow, I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get the words out, Isabelle interrupted, voice as swift and cutting as her electrum whip. "As much as I'd love to stand here and discuss pop culture with you all, we do have a demon to hunt down."

At this, Jace stiffened, all business now. "Alright, troops," he commanded seriously, sounding every bit like a military officer speaking to a bunch of trainees, "let's divide and conquer. Isabelle and Simon, you take the right side of the club, where the storage room we met Clary in is. Alec and Magnus, you two take the left half where the bathrooms are. Clary and I will take the center. If any of you locate the demon text the others and we'll come find you."

Nodding at each other, we broke off into our assigned pairs, Simon and Isabelle to the right, Clary and Jace down the middle, and Magnus and I to the left.

"Where should we start?" the warlock asked, moving close to peer over my shoulder as we waded into the packed, surging crowd.

"I'm not sure," I admitted, extracting my Sensor from my weapons belt by touch. I was too wary about lowering my head to search for it in case one of these flailing drunks elbowed me in the face in the midst of their dancing. "For now we'll let the Sensor do the work for us."

"Isn't that cheating?" Magnus questioned slyly, his warm breath ghosting over my neck. "You are a Shadowhunter after all. Shouldn't you track down the demon yourself without your little Nephilim vibrator?"

"It's not cheating," I protested defensively, dodging the whip of a girl's hair as she tossed her head back. Then Magnus's words registered in my head and with an embarrassed flush, I whirled around and snapped, "And it's not a vibrator! It's a device that picks up demonic frequencies and–"

"And vibrates like a sex toy when a demon is near," he interrupted with a pointed grin and a flash of his green-gold eyes.

Even more heat flooded my cheeks. "Stop saying that!" I hissed warningly, casting my eyes about the writhing bodies surrounding us, worried one of the many clubbers somehow heard him over the thrumming beat of the music.

"Stop blushing and I'll stop saying it," Magnus countered smartly, his white teeth reflecting the flashing pink and blue strobe lights. "I'm repeating it only to watch the adorable reddening of your cheeks."

Mortified, I turned away from Magnus with a scowl and instead focused my attention on muscling my way through the crowd, the Sensor held tightly in my hands. Behind me, I just barely heard the warlock's laugh, half-muffled by the chest-rattling base. Clearly, my flustered response amused him. I felt rather than saw him fall into step behind me, close enough that I should sense his body behind mine, but far enough where we weren't touching.

The deeper toward the center of the dance floor we moved, the denser the crowd became. A roiling mass of bodies pressed in on me at all sides, hot and sweaty and suffocating. Trying to maneuver through the dancers bumping and grinding against me, invading my personal space, was like trying to swim through a pool of molasses in the middle of January. Through the throng of dark, thrashing shapes, smoke and flashing lights, I saw Downworlders mingling with the mundies: a vampire woman sipping a thick red liquid from a tall glass, her ghost white face encircled by a halo of fire red hair; a warlock dancing with a werewolf girl, blue fire sparking from his taloned fingers; a green-skinned sprite, glamoured to invisibility like me and Magnus, amusing itself by poking and groping an unsuspecting human boy, giggling in shrill glee whenever the boy turned around, confusion on his face.

Whenever we passed one of the many Downworlders merged within the crowd of humans, the Sensor twitched in my hand like a living heart, reacting to the minute demonic energies they exuded. I frowned. The Sensor's jittery reactions kept me on edge, fingers twitching and ready to yank out a runed dagger at a second's notice. If this didn't let up soon I'd end up stabbing one of the innocent Downworlders or mundanes and land myself in a mountain of shit with the Clave.

Suddenly, the Sensor flared red-hot in my hand and pulsed with one short vibration, like a particularly large bee trapped in my fist. Before I could seize my dagger and whirl around, I felt warm breath on the back of my neck and heard Magnus's sultry voice, "Any luck?"

Biting back the reprimand forming on my tongue, I exhaled a long, trembling breath, willing my heartbeat to slow and the rush of adrenaline to fade. "No. Nothing yet," I responded, pausing in the middle of the dance floor, strobe lights, luminous eyes and sparks of electric blue fire flickering around us. "There are too many Downworlders here. Their demonic energies keep messing with the Sensor's readings." Here I paused and glanced back at my boyfriend. "Speaking of which, not that I don't like being close to you, but just now, I very nearly stabbed you on accident. Your proximity made the Sensor jump."

Magnus lifted a slender shoulder in a carefree shrug. "What can I say? I can't help it if your Nephilim vibrator likes me." A sly mischievous grin spread over his face. "It's not the only oblong object of yours that reacts to my nearness."

Despite the heat rising in my cheeks, I brushed away the comment with an irritable wave of my hand and insisted seriously, "I'm not kidding, Magnus. I don't want to mistake you for the demon and inadvertently hurt you. I promised I'd make up for all our interrupted dates later, but now is not the time. Just for now, please, just give me some space."

Even in the dark, I could see the warlock's eyes narrow into slits, nothing more than glowing shards of olivine. "You know," he began coolly, "On Brocelind Plain, you and I were a team, and I was helpful to you rather than a hindrance."

"Yes, but we were bound by the Alliance Rune then," I pointed out, motioning to the white scar standing out in stark contrast on the back of Magnus's golden hand, "and we knew clearly who the demons were. Now our enemy is unknown to us and our only clue as to who or where the demon is hiding is this little piece of plastic and metal in my hand, which is malfunctioning because it's reacting to your demon half. So, Magnus, please, back away."

A frustrated sigh pushed passed his glossed lips, and I felt his body heat retract from my back as he withdrew. "Fine."

"Thank y–" I started to say, only to cut myself off when I turned around and found myself alone in the middle of the crowd. Surprised, I glanced around, but didn't see even so much as a flicker of my colorful, rainbow and glitter encrusted boyfriend anywhere amid the thrashing clubbers. He had simply vanished, like the trash did when he snapped his fingers… or like my clothes when he was in a particularly impatient mood.

"Magnus?" I shouted pointlessly, fighting to be heard over the throbbing music. There was no answer. Spewing a steady stream of curses I knew Jace would've been proud of, I spun in a circle, searching for a man covered in glitter and orange highlights. I saw glitter on both females and males. I saw a variety of colored hair: boys with electric blue mohawks a full foot tall, girls with pink and purple extensions, red tips, green bangs. I saw mesh shirts, ball gowns, leather chaps, metallic jackets, corsets and bustiers. But I didn't see these strange fashions combined on one towering, thin, infuriating warlock male.

Frustrated, I threw my arms out, almost hitting a girl as she passed me, and shouted, "You stupid warlock, I didn't say to leave!"

The Downworld girl I'd nearly backhanded glanced over her shoulder at me. Black hair like an oil slick cascaded down her pale face and bare back, falling well to her thighs. Yet even that ridiculous amount of hair couldn't conceal her ruby irises, the glossy, ebony ram horns growing from her temples to coil around her pointed ears, or the long, devil-spade tail curling out from her tailbone, swaying back and forth in sultry, serpentine manner. Languidly raking her scarlet eyes over me, the warlock woman smirked. "Sorry, kid, but I don't do Shadowhunters... no matter how cute you may be."

Glaring coldly at her, I retorted, "You won't think I'm very cute when you find my dagger lodged in that oversized chest of yours. Now get lost; you weren't the warlock I was talking to."

She only grinned in response to my threat, flashing sharp white teeth at me before sauntering off, her voluptuous body and sinewy tail swaying like a pair of cobras. Downworlders and mundanes alike stared at her as she went by; I couldn't've cared less. My mind was occupied with more important concerns.

Irritated and worried sick, I began shoving my way through the crowd, hunting for both the demon and Magnus now. Keeping a firm grip on the Sensor, I battled my way through the crowd, jumping twitchily every time the device buzzed, anticipating a demon attack and whirling around only to find myself facing a vine-haired faerie or a werewolf in grunge. Turning away from the vampire boy who almost became the new sheath for my dagger, I whipped out my cell phone, thinking bitterly, Leave it up to Magnus to do exactly what I want and twist it in a way that distracts me more than when he was here.

Hitting the speed dial, I held the phone to my ear and waited, just barely able to hear the dial tone over the music. Then, suddenly, the tone cut off. Surprised, I glanced at the phone's screen; no signal.

"Shit," I cursed angrily, snapping it closed, only to flip it back open again and watch the cell coverage fluctuate between one bar and none. I glanced up and suddenly realized I was near the fringe of the dance floor where the clubbers were more widespread, like the thinning of a forest as it merged into grassland. Beyond the flickering, shadowy profiles, I caught sight of the bathroom doors, grimy metal with MEN and WOMEN spray-painted on their respective doors. Eager to escape the sardine-like packaging of the dance floor and regain my bearings, I hurried toward the doors, punching the speed dial again.

In my rush and preoccupation, I ran headlong into a particularly large, muscular and hairy werewolf. Jarred by the forceful impact, the Sensor flew from my hand and skidded across the floor, disappearing beneath a sea of stiletto-ed and booted feet.

"Woah, watch it there, little Shadowhunter," the werewolf chided, steadying me with one large hand.

"Sorry, sorry!" I called as I dove into the crowd, phone still glued to my ear as I frantically, futilely searched for the Sensor on the trash littered floor. But between the darkness, the forest of legs and the dry ice fog covering the floor, I'd've had better luck separating the different colored glitter flecks covering Magnus's bedroom into piles than finding my Sensor. Still, that didn't stop me from trying. Head bowed, frantically searching for the Sensor, I battled my way though the crowd, earning innumerous annoyed shouts, venomous glares and angry curses.

I had just dodged the elbow of a dancing girl when my phone signal cut off for the twentieth time. Uttering another breathless apology in tandem with an ugly curse, I stabbed the speed dial yet again as I pressed forward deeper into the dance floor, keeping my eyes peeled for my flamboyant boyfriend and any suspicious demon activity. In the midst of wondering how I was supposed to track down both Magnus and the demon, I all but walked into the person in front of me for the umpteenth time.

"Sor–" I automatically started to apologize, but cut myself off when I took the time to actually look at the man I nearly crashed into. I blinked in shock. "Magnus!"

The warlock turned around, blinking down at me with cool surprise. His phone was in his hand, lime green nails curled around the hard plastic. Lowering the phone from my ear, I opened my mouth to ask why his cell wasn't playing that obnoxious Alejandro ringtone he'd programmed to go off whenever I called – if he had no service or if he'd just silenced it – only to close it slowly when I got a good look at him.

He looked… different. The green and gold eyeshadow around his eyes looked darker, as if he'd gone to the bathroom and caked more on. However that didn't seem likely, since the charcoal, glitter eyeliner he wore was a solid, sharp black line around his lids without any signs of smudging at the edges, which I knew he preferred since it gave his makeup a more "lived-in" look. It rather looked like he'd mistaken a Sharpie marker for his eyeliner pencil. Even his eyeshadow was uneven, as if his impeccably steady hands were uncharacteristically shaky when he was reapplying it, and the glitter clinging to his orange-highlighted hair was thinner than I remembered. He was probably shedding glitter across the club like Church shed his winter coat on my bed sheets. And not only was his makeup a bit askew, but his outfit had changed, too. The leather pants, earrings and bangles remained, but the silver-turquoise boots, and the plum satin shirt and silver jacket had been replaced with dark dress shoes and the long, button-down gray coat he had worn at Brocelind Plain.

As I stared at him, a familiar emotion stirred within me, rising in my chest and setting my blood ablaze. Closing my phone and slipping it into my pocket, I glared at him and snapped angrily, "Where the hell did you go? Back home to Greenpoint to change?"

Magnus arched a slender eyebrow, frostily staring down at me. His green-gold eyes were unusually cold, like shards of crystallized acid; it looked like he was still mad at me for pushing him away. Finally, he responded, "No. A kelpie spilled his trout and seaweed smoothie all down the front of my shirt and on my shoes. So I snapped a clean pair of clothes from the apartment over here. I wasn't about to parade about with green-gray, clumpy fish guts all down my front and drying on my shoes." His voice was as sharp and frigid as icicles instead of its usual velvet timbre.

Pulling a face at the mental image, I brushed it off and continued hotly, my mind reeling, "Never mind that. Why did you vanish like that?"

Magnus's eyes flashed angrily, like a cat's would when light hits them at just the right angle. "You made it very clear that I was neither wanted nor needed. I only did what you asked."

"I said to give me some space so the Sensor wouldn't malfunction, not to pull a disappearing act on me!" I shouted angrily, throwing my hands up into the air in exasperation. My wild gesture almost smacked a mundane boy in the face; he shot me a venomous flare. "Dammit, Magnus! Why do you always do this?"

When the warlock didn't respond, merely staring down at me in icy silence, I sighed heavily. Taking a hesitant step forward to reduce the distance between us, I tentatively, shyly reached for his cold, ring-laden hand, silently weaving my pale fingers with his long, tanned ones. Magnus blinked in faint surprise. Although I was technically "out" I was still uncomfortable about making my sexuality known to those around me with personal displays of affection. Kissing Magnus in front of an entire army of Shadowhunters and Downworlders hadn't cured me of my insecurities. Simply, my love for him and my desperation to keep him by my side overrode my fear and drove me to my impulsive act, the easiest way I could think of to prove just how deeply I loved him and how to inform my parents of our relationship and my sexual orientation. I hadn't thought about it then, didn't brew over it; I knew what I had to do to keep Magnus, so I did. Isabelle was the one who inherited that particular brand of courage, not me; it was a once in a lifetime occasion, and so, I was still timid about announcing I was gay to the general population. However, here in Pandemonium, surrounded by multitudes of people, encased in darkness and aware of several other gay couples who were heavily making out, I had the courage to at least hold Magnus's his hand in public.

Hands twined at our sides, I stepped closer to him, our chests brushing softly against each other. Embarrassed, I gazed unseeingly at the long, golden column of his throat and confessed in a softer, gentler voice, "I'm sorry for snapping at you. It's just… you vanishing like that… it scared me. I was afraid something happened to you... that you ran into the demon or–"

"I've been around for a long time, Alexander Lightwood," Magnus interrupted coolly. "I've fought and killed many demons. One puny, interdimensional beastie terrorizing a club isn't going to get the better of me." His words were clipped and terse, but a faint smile touched his lips. It didn't quite melt the iciness in his eyes, but it softened his face and voice as he drew me closer, placing one cool hand on the small of my back. "But thank you for your concern."

I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard the forgiving tone of his voice, and passively allowed the warlock to pull me into him. Standing toe to toe, I tucked my head into the crook of his neck, but paused when noticed a strange odor tickled my nose. It wasn't his usual sandalwood and smoke aroma, but stank of rotting vegetation and dead fish.

"You smell like trout and seaweed smoothie," I mumbled, wrinkling my nose.

"Still?" Magnus sounded appalled. "And after I went to all that trouble changing my clothes?" With a heady, woeful sigh, he gently pushed me away from him, and in response, I lifted my gaze from the tantalizing, golden throat level with my eyes. Jerking his head of dense spines in the direction of the bathrooms, he asked, "Will you come with me while I wash this stench off?"

"But…" I trailed off, casting a worried glance over my shoulder, as if I could pick out Isabelle, Jace, Clary and Simon from the rest of the crowd. Uncertainty prickled my mind.

"Only for a minute," Magnus insisted, stroking my face with his cool hands, his voice as sweet and tempting as honey. "The others won't miss us for a lone minute and I doubt the demon will attack in our brief absence. Didn't you say being separated from me made you nervous?"

Magnus had once said to Jace, "Never doubt my weaseling abilities, Shadowhunter, for they are epic and memorable in their scope."

That they were.

Surrendering with a slight smile, I conceded, "Alright. As long as it's not one of your minutes and is the prescribed sixty seconds the world agrees upon as a 'minute'."

Magnus's grin was as wide and sharp as the Cheshire cat's as he grabbed by wrist, leading me toward the bathrooms. "I'll see what I can do."

Whereas I had to duck and dodge, kick, claw, bite and throw elbows to muscle my way through the crowd, the clubsters melted to the side for Magnus, like the Red Sea parting for Moses. I couldn't tell if his intimidating image made them scatter or if he used magic to push them away like two magnets with their polarities reversed. In the span of time it took for me to move one foot within the mob, Magnus had broken through the sea of dancers and was pushing open the streaked bathroom door.

The sudden assault of light from the naked bulbs overhead burned and stung my eyes. After being in darkness for so long, the bathroom's fluorescents had me cringing like a vampire in afternoon sun. Once I blinked back the stinging tears, I saw the bathroom looked very much like how I expected the rest of Pandemonium did during off hours. The floor was gray cement, smooth as stone but streaked with filth and spots of discoloration. Moisture seeped from the cracks in the ivory tile walls, black mold growing on the grout. The rows of white, porcelain sinks and urinals were chipped and cracked, the metal faucets and handles rusted and tarnished in places. The long mirror in front of the sinks was cloudy with a whitish, soapy film, streaked here and there with dirt and grime. Many of the doors on the green bathroom stalls were either missing or dangling limply from their hinges. Aside from Magnus and I, the only other person in the bathroom was a faerie male washing his hands.

Releasing my hand, Magnus glided over to the closest sink with a working faucet and twisted on the water, unbuttoning the first few clasps of his jacket. He wore no shirt underneath. Seating myself delicately on the lip of a seemingly intact sink, I unsheathed one of my daggers and twirled it idly between my fingers, counting back from sixty in my head as I watched him splash water on his neck.

Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight...

Crystalline drops of water crept down Magnus's flat, smooth chest, disappearing under the fabric of his jacket. He flicked his fingers and a bottle of cologne appeared suddenly in his hand. It was strong-smelling and unfamiliar.

Forty-one, forty, thirty-nine...

The faerie dried his hands with a short burst of fire and sidestepped Magnus, dodging the fine spray of mist as the warlock spritzed himself with cologne. He shot a wary glance at my dagger as he passed.

Twenty-five, twenty-four, twenty-three…

The bathroom door swung shut behind the faerie, leaving me and Magnus alone.

Eighteen, seventeen, sixteen...

Faster than I thought he could move, Magnus was in front of me, his cold fingers curling around my wrist like steel manacles. Startled, the dagger slipped from my fingers and clattered loudly to the floor. Green-gold eyes flittering with feral hunger, Magnus yanked me down off the sink and crushed me to his body.

"How was that?" he purred, pressing me tighter to him. The smell of the cologne was overpoweringly potent and sickly sweet, but the other stench had been successfully masked. "Done in under sixty seconds, and smelling fresh as a daisy."

"Impressive," I commended, my heart beating wildly in my chest at his sudden proximity. "But now time's up and we have to be getting back to the–"

With surprising dexterity, Magnus's long fingers unbuckled my quiver's shoulder strap. Like the dagger, it fell to the floor, scattering arrows everywhere and dislodging my bow to send it clunking woodenly against the cement, skidding several feet away.

"Leave them," he purred seductively, jerking my hips against his, stroking the back of his left hand over my cheek. His skin was smooth and gold and entirely unblemished. My heart leapt into my chest, adrenaline surging through my veins. "Let the other Shadowhunters hunt down the demon."

Frowning, I tried to step away from him, but found myself pinned to him, unable to break the steel cable of his arms encircling my waist. "Magnus, I can't just abandon my family and friends in the middle of a hunting excursion. They need me. I–"

"You've killed thousands of demons over the course of your lifetime. It won't hurt you or them if you sit this one out," the warlock insisted, steering me toward the stalls. "Besides, didn't you lose your Sensor? Without the key to locating the demon, what good can you do them?"

Kicking open the door to one of the few intact stalls, Magnus violently shoved me inside. Caught by surprise, I stumbled backwards, yet somehow managed to catch myself before the backs of my knees struck the toilet seat. Cat eyes glowing with green-gold fire in the darkness, Magnus stepped inside with me, closing the door behind him and sliding the blot home. The click of the lock echoed ominously in the stall's confined space.

"I am sick of waiting, Lightwood. I want my payment now. I want you now."

Magnus's hand shot forward, seizing me by the front of my shirt. Whipping me around, he slammed me back up against the stall wall with surprising strength, trapping my wrists over my head with one hand. The intensity of the blow knocked the air from my lungs, but before I could catch my breath, the warlock's lips were on mine, attacking my mouth with ravenous force. Gasping into the kiss, I felt my knees tremble under me, emotion surging through me.

The kiss was dark, hungry and frantic, nothing but lips, teeth and tongues. It was almost identical to the one we'd shared in Idiris, shortly before Magnus opened the portal to Brocelind Plain to meet Valentine's army and I'd suddenly realized that one or both of us might die. In response to this grim epiphany, I had yanked my boyfriend behind a pillar of Accords Hall and had kissed him with every ounce of emotion in my body, recognizing the very real possibility that I wouldn't get a second chance.

The difference between our kiss then and the one now was that Magnus was the one domineering it this time. And he wasn't being gentle about it, either. Magnus's free hand was fisted in my hair, so tightly I was sure he'd ripped more than a few strands out by the roots. His lips crashed with bruising force against mine, attacking my mouth as if he was starving. Our teeth slammed together, clicking and clanking like swords locked in a duel. I thought I tasted blood on his tongue, as if he'd split his lip or his gums. And with force in which he was kissing me and how savagely our teeth collided, it was entirely possible. A thin stream of warm saliva trickled down the corner of my mouth, but I was unable to stem the flow any more than I could fend off the warlock's lustful attack. Pinned between him and the stall, I was helpless and trapped, entirely in his control. As if to prove my unspoken thoughts, the warlock roughly bit my lower lip. This time I knew I tasted blood. My blood. My already rapid heartbeat quickened.

Magnus dove in to claim my mouth again, but I twisted my head away; his lips grazed my cheek instead.

"Stop..." I gasped roughly, my heart hammering away in my chest like a frightened jackrabbit as I tried to gather my scattered nerves.

The warlock withdrew slightly to peer into my face. His olivine eyes narrowed and burned brighter in the darkness. The grip on my wrists increased, as did the rush of adrenaline in my veins. For a moment, I felt as if I really was a jackrabbit, cornered and cowering up at a looming, hungry bobcat.

"Why?" The question came out as a purr; soft and seductive, but demanding and dangerous.

In a rush, I stammered out the first thing that came to mind: "D-didn't we talk about this already? We're in a public place... and way out of my comfort zone... Anyone could walk in and see us... Besides, the demon–"

"Can wait," Magnus cut in smoothly, the dangerous slant of his eyes dissipating. Pressing himself against me, he slid the side of his face against mine to whisper sensually in my ear, "Live a little. Who cares if we're caught? We'll give 'em a show they'll never forget."

I shuddered and clenched my eyes shut as he licked the shell of my ear, long and slow like a cat. Chuckling throatily at my response, his lips grazed the underside of my jaw as he moved to my neck, sharply nipping his way down my throat. When he reached my pulse point, he bit down hard, like a vampire. I jerked violently, breathing heavily. Encouraged, he latched himself onto the crook of my neck, sucking hard on my skin and making me shiver. There would undoubtedly be a mark later.

Suddenly, Magnus wedged a knee between my legs, grinding against me; I groaned, low and long.

"Magnus…" I moaned, heart thudding in my chest as I strained against the vice-like grip on my wrists. "Magnus, let me touch you…"

Almost immediately, the long fingers slackened and I dropped my hands to his shoulders, stroking across their length. Abandoning the now tender, bruised section of my neck, Magnus's lips crashed against mine, his tongue invading my mouth again. His hands slipped under the tough material of my shirt and around to my back, stroking my spine. With unusually steady fingers, I quickly unbuttoned the front of Magnus's long jacket, watching through half-lidded eyes as the fabric fell away on either side of his bare, golden chest. I pressed my hands to his flat chest, palms down and fingers splayed. Magnus shivered as I dragged my hands down the length of his torso, a low growl sounding at the back of his throat as he kissed me harder. His leg pressed harder against me as my hands glided across his stomach, tantalizing the smooth, unblemished skin there. Pain seared through me when his nails curled into my back like claws, raking long grooves into my flesh. I knew there would be scratch marks to accompany the hickey on my throat.

Abruptly, his hands disappeared from my back only to rematerialize on my belt that held both my weapons and the waistline of my pants securely around my hips. Feeling his long fingers fumbling with the buckle, I grabbed his wrist with one hand, stilling his movements. My other hand remained flat against his tummy.

"Magnus, wait…" I gasped softly, tightening my fingers around his thin wrist. The heel of my palm grazed the seraph blade shoved into one of the belt loops; it pulsed slightly in response to my touch.

Frustrated, impatient amber irises flicked up to my face, the emotion in them bordering on cold rage. Magnus glared at me, his eyes glowing and his vertical pupils dilating.

"What is now?" he snapped, his white teeth flashed in the darkness of the cramped stall. "Are you still nervous?"

Wordlessly, I tried to draw his fingers away from my belt, and my palm slid over my seraph blade. Annoyed by my resistance, Magnus jerked his wrist out of my grasp. The sudden movement jostled my hand, causing it bump against the angel knife and accidentally knock it from my belt. Quick as a cobra strike, I caught the knife with a flick of my wrist, and held it against my leg, so swift and subtle that the warlock didn't seem to notice.

"No," I whispered finally, gently but firmly pushing him against the stall door with the hand still on his torso. "It's not that." To prove it, I leaned in and kissed the column of his honeyed throat, trailing my lips up to his ear, as if I were about to whisper a secret. He shivered, his fingers twitching impatiently against my belt.

"Hurry up, Lightwood," he growled lowly, thumbing open the front of my pants. "I'm running out of patience. What is it?"

Stroking my hand across his belly, I casually flicked my thumb across the center, fingering the shallow depression of a navel.


The seraph blade shot out from the glowing hilt like lightning, and before he could react, I seized his shoulder and drove the gleaming blade straight though his stomach. Dark fluid exploded from around Barakiel's hilt, and an inhuman scream of pain erupted from his lips. Before the toxic blood could burn my hands, I shoved him away from me. Propelled backwards by my strength, the stall door burst open when he hit it and he fell onto the bathroom's filthy floor. Lit by the harsh bathroom lights, the ichor and putrid yellow acid spurting out from around Barakiel's hilt looked all the more gruesome than it had in the dim stall. Although his agonized shrieks were garbled by the dark blood bubbling up from his lips, the bathroom walls did nothing to muffle his screams, but amplified them as they echoed off the walls.

Breathless, weak-kneed, and shaking violently, I leaned against the stall for support, and expectantly watched the writhing, arching, screaming figure on the floor. Sure enough, a few seconds later, the twitching form in front of me began to flicker like an old home movie, wavering in and out of focus. One second, I saw the illusion of Magnus Bane, shrieking, thrashing and bleeding. The next, I saw the truth: a humanoid body with brown, scaly skin, like that of a lizard and bristly, needle-like black hair. Bulbous, insectile feelers protruded from his temples, rising over a pair of deep-set, acid green eyes that blazed form his skull like fireworks against a night sky. Its arms were similar to that of a praying mantis, ending in wickedly curved, sharp, scythe-like appendages that had split open the sleeves Magnus's jacket instead of hands. Likewise, clawed, reptilian feet had burst open the leather dress shoes, rendering them to little more than scraps of animals skin and rubber.

Gnashing its razor-sharp teeth, stained by the black blood gurgling from its too wide mouth, the Eidolon shifted back into the guise of my boyfriend. The demon flickered rapidly between Magnus's appearance and its true form, like a child flipping through a moving picture book, only with the image of two different people interspersed at every other page. Clearly, it was having difficulty maintaining its disguise during its death throes.

Just as the demon changed back into Magnus, the bathroom door suddenly sprang open. Expecting demonic backup, I yanked a dagger from my belt, whirling around as I raised it high… and stopped.

Instead of a group of additional Eidolon, I saw a shining seraph blade, a golden electrum whip and a crackle of blue lightning. Like me, Jace, Isabelle and the real Magnus – still decked out in his purple satin shirt, metallic jacket and silver-turquoise boots – all froze mid-action, blinking in surprised alarm at the dying Magnus look-alike at my feet. Behind them, I caught the glimpse of red curls and the pale complexion of a vampire, both trying to edge past the others to see.

Jace was the first to lower his weapon, his golden eyes wide as he stared down at the twitching demon-Magnus.

"What the f–" He cut himself off as the demon morphed back into its true form. His eyes lightened with understanding. Isabelle's whip fell slack in her grip as her jaw dropped, and – having wedged themselves under Magnus's arm – Clary gasped in alarm and Simon whistled lowly. Out of all of them, Magnus was the most shocked; his eyes were wide and his mouth slightly agape, staring between me and the demon.

Suddenly, the demon uttered a particularly loud shriek, pitched at such a high frequency that the mirror and lightbulbs shattered, plunging us into darkness. Our attention swung around to watch the demon's final moments, lit eerily by the glow of Barakiel's hilt in its chest. Arching off the ground, the demon folded in on itself like a piece of paper thrown into a fire, shrinking away until it vanished. Barakiel clanked against the floor, its light dousing when it landed in a puddle of dark blood, sizzling acid and what remained of Magnus's jacket and shoes. After the volume and magnitude of its screams, the bathroom felt unnaturally silent, even with the backbeat of the club music throbbing in the distance.

No one moved or spoke for several heartbeats. Then, the soft, white glow of witchlight filled the bathroom, and Jace's voice cut through the quiet, "Well, that was… interesting… I–"

For the second time that night, he interrupted himself when Magnus abruptly strode forward into the dark room, his long-legged pace slow and measured. The clack of his heeled boots echoed off the walls. Halting before the putrid mess, he looked between me and the stain on the floor, then back again. His expression was unreadable, guarded... empty.

With a sudden jolt of terror, I realized how this must've looked from his perspective. Here I was, still standing in the bathroom stall with my hair a mess, my lips bruised, a hickey on my throat, my clothes disheveled and my pants unbuttoned. My arrows, quiver and bow were strewn about the floor, and my knife had been impaled in a body that'd looked exactly like him. A number of concerns ran through me head. Would he consider this an act of me cheating on him? What if he thought I had really believed the demon was him? What if he thought the demon had angered me, and out of fury I'd stabbed it, believing it to be him? Or that I'd tried to fight him off for touching me in public? Did he think I was capable of killing him? That I could turn on him unexpectedly? Would he leave me out of fear for his life?

Practically choked with blind panic, more terror than I'd felt during my entire encounter with the Eidolon, I stumbled forward, my arm outstretched to touch him. "Magnus... I..."

The warlock snapped his fingers, and like a marionette on strings, the jacket leapt out of the ichor puddle and hung listlessly in front of him in midair. It was hopelessly stained, torn and dripping with ichor. A hole the size of a car tire had been burned through the back of it.

Turning toward me, I saw the first hint of emotion on his face since walking over: anger. My stomach clenched unpleasantly, sheer panic rising up to clog my throat.

Before I could stammer out some incoherent apology, Magnus growled, "Killing the demon is one thing, Alexander Lightwood, but really, did you have to decimate my jacket as well?"

"This," Magnus announced, spinning the laptop around to face me, "is Adam Lambert."

Pausing, I turned away from the mirror, holding the makeup-remover-saturated cottonball at a distance as I squinted at the computer screen. The man in the headshot had tan skin, hair as black as a raven's wing, and pale, blue-gray eyes expertly decorated with black eyeliner and metallic gray and lime eyeshadow that winged up at the corners.

Simon was right. He did look like the human version of Magnus... or at least as close as any mundane could get.

Shrugging carelessly, I turned back to the mirror. "You're still more attractive than him," I stated simply, dragging the damp cottonball under my eyes to remove the last clinging remnants of eyeliner I'd failed to wipe off earlier.

This statement seemed to please Magnus as he shut the laptop and moved it from his lap to the floor. "Of course I am," he stated with smug certainty, reclining lazily against the mountain of pillows he'd piled up at the head of his mattress. Chairman Meow lay curled up on his chest, and his long fingers were languidly stroking the feline's fluffy white head. The little cat purred, arching his back into his owner's touch. "None can compete with my magnificent self."

"Not even a particularly clever Eidolon demon," I murmured in agreement, partly to myself, partly for Magnus's benefit. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Magnus's reflection shift in the mirror, and inexorably, my eyes were drawn to him. His hair had been freed from its gel-hardened, spiky posture, and fell in a sleek sheet of black silk around his face. The orange highlights were gone, either washed out or removed with magic, but his hair still shimmered here and there with leftover glitter. Then again, Magnus was never really glitter free... and neither was I, for that matter, after spending any amount of time with the warlock. The charcoal and makeup around his eyes were gone, but even without it his amber-and-peridot irises were just as striking. He was bare-chested, the entire span of his honey-toned torso laid out for my eyes to feast upon, and his legs were sheathed in gold, satin harem pants. Lounging against his throne of pillows, the warlock looked like an Egyptian prince. My own black hair, blue eyes and pale skin didn't even compare to his otherworldly, regal beauty.

At my comment, however, his eyes narrowed dangerously, their color darkening as he remembered the night's events. After Magnus had finished lamenting over the destruction of his jacket, the others had surged forward, unleashing a horde of compliments and concerns on me. Jace and Simon had been particularly impressed with how I'd handled the Eidolon demon, Jace in particular that I'd done so without injury. Isabelle and Clary on the other hand, had expressed more concern about my physical welfare. No amount of protesting about lack of service in the club could get my sister off my back about for not immediately calling them and for handling it alone. All of them, however, had bombarded me with questions: How did I know the demon wasn't really Magnus? Why did the demon single me out? Why did I go into the bathroom alone with it? Why did it disguise itself as my boyfriend?

Briefly, I explained why I went to the bathroom with it: for privacy. Just like when Isabelle had lured the first Eidolon away from the crowd, I'd followed the demon so I could kill it without creating a scene. I decided to spare them the details of how I knew the demon's true identity, saying simply that my Sensor went wild when the demon approached. Only Magnus and Jace caught onto the lie – Jace's golden eyes narrowed and the warlock arched a slender eyebrow – but neither of them called me on it. I didn't mention my little make-out session with the demon, either: I figured I'd save them from the same nausea I was feeling remembering it. As to why the Eidolon singled me out and dressed the way it had, I feigned ignorance. No use worrying Isabelle for nothing. Magnus and I, however, had shared a secret look, silently agreeing to speak more on the matter when we were alone.

On our way out – since Isabelle was trying to hail a cab for Magnus since he was too busy sulking about his jacket, and Jace and Simon were arguing about his participation in these hunts – Clary had been left to explain how they found me. Apparently, Magnus had poofed himself to the bar for a drink after our argument, only to return to where we'd been directly after. But, as Clary had quoted, "the little twerp took me too seriously and ran off. He should know by now not to take me that seriously!" However, I had the distinct impression she'd been editing and that Magnus had used a more derogatory term than "twerp" to describe me. Clary went on to say that by the time Magnus had tracked me down, he saw me following after a man that could've passed for his twin. In a panic, he had immediately called Jace, who proceeded to contact Isabelle and Simon, which led to them breaking down the bathroom door.

By the time Clary had finished narrating, a cab was pulling up at the curb for Magnus, and the warlock, who up until that point had been completely silent, suddenly seized me and all but threw me into the taxi, proclaiming that I was spending the night with him.

Which brought me to where we were now: showered and dressed in the clean pair of black sweats and the dark blue sweater I kept here as sleepwear. Extracting Chairman Meow from his chest, he shooed the small kitten off his bed and motioned to me with the crook of one long finger. "Come here."

Casting one last look at myself in the electric blue vanity mirror, satisfied at my makeup-free reflection, I dropped the blackened cottonball into the overflowing garbage pail and crossed the floor to him. Magnus stared up at me as I came to a halt by the mattress, and with smooth, fluid grace, he reached up and yanked me down. I fell with a surprised yelp, the heels of my feet thunking painfully against the floorboards as I landed on the mattress and bounced. Annoyed, I glared at him as I rubbed the soles of my abused feet before planting them firmly on the ground, my knees bent up to my chest. I would've wrapped my arms around my legs and sat like that if Magnus hadn't pulled me against him, forcing me to recline against his torso like an overlong body pillow. Brushing the dark hair from my eyes, his expression was serious and intent when he asked, "So, tell me what really happened after I left."

Quickly, I summarized my encounter with the demon: about how I lost my Sensor, the demon "convincing" me to accompany it to the bathroom, my forced tryst with it in the bathroom stall, and how I killed it. When I spoke of the demon kissing me, I could've sworn I saw Magnus's eyes flare angrily.

When I finished, the warlock was shaking his head, sighing heavily, "Alec, why didn't you kill it the moment you two were in the bathroom? Why did you wait and give it an opening? An opening I am not at all that pleased about you going along with, by the way."

"I had no choice!" I protested defensively, scratching Chairman Meow's pink tuft ears when he padded softly over to me. "It's not like we were alone. There was a faerie in there with us. I couldn't very well kill the demon while it was wearing your skin. The faerie would've gone running to the Clave to tell them that I'd killed the High Warlock of Brooklyn in an unprovoked attack."

"Which would've been rendered null in void when they saw I was clearly alive and well," he argued, pursing his lips.

"Yes, but it would've caused a whole mess of trouble for both of us," I countered, watching Chairman Meow arch and wind around my hand, purring contently.

"Troubles with the Clave can be dealt with when wielded by expert hands such as mine," Magnus pointed out, wiggling a long-fingered hand at me. Bowing my head to hide my blush, I clamped down on the memory tickling the edge of my awareness. I knew full well what those expert hands were capable of. He continued hotly, "Compared to the danger you put yourself in, you should've just seized the opportunity when it appeared and let me deal with the Clave."

"I appreciate your concern, Magnus, but I think I proved tonight that I can take care of myself and handle difficult situations, despite what everyone thinks," I said grumpily, scowling in annoyance. I knew I wasn't as good of a fighter as Jace or Isabelle, but really, I wasn't just the backup crew anymore. I had participated in and survived the fight of Brocelind Plain; I was just as capable of either one of them now, and it irritated me that everyone kept forgetting my new found usefulness.

However, my frustration quickly drained away from me when I caught Magnus's angry glare. Blue sparks shot from his glittery fingertips like dancing fireflies as he growled lowly, "You call letting a demon practically rape you as handling it?"

I winced. Magnus didn't raise his voice, but the cold fury undercutting his tone was worse. "I didn't let it get that far," I assured him in a placating voice, hoping to sooth his frazzled nerves and – by extension – his anger. "And unfortunately, I had to play along. By the time the faerie left, I didn't have enough time to fling the dagger I'd been toying with at the demon before it was one me. I couldn't fight it's grip, so I had to make it drop its guard by pretending to enjoy it. If I hadn't fooled it with my apparent willingness, I never would've been able to grab my seraph blade."

Even as I reassured Magnus of my plan, I couldn't help but to recall how my heart leapt and pounded in fear throughout the course of my adventure. Recalling my mental countdown until the faerie left and I was free to attack, I had been so startled when the Eidolon suddenly grabbed me. In that moment, I'd been so sure it had discovered me, that it had realized I already knew what it really was and it was going to finish me off rather than keep messing with me. I hadn't realized it was continuing with its Magnus- charade until it shoved me into the stall. Fighting back my terror and my Shadowhunter instincts as they screamed at me to fight back whenever it touched me had almost been outside my abilities. And for a moment, when I had unwisely, fearfully protested its touch that first time, staring into the demon's narrowed, suspicious eyes, I thought for sure that was the end. If I hadn't mustered up the courage and quick insight to explain away my fear as feigned discomfort about sexual acts in a public place and continued the pretense of ignorance, I'd've been lying in a pool of my own blood. Fortunately, I had enough sense and self-perseveration instincts to not mention this to Magnus.

However, even without my personal testament to the danger I'd put myself in, the barely contained fury and anxiety did not lift from Magnus's face, nor did his narrowed eyes.

"You've been hanging out with Jace," he accused sharply, as if it was some heinous crime I was guilty of.

"Well, I do live with him..." I muttered under my breath.

The warlock pretended not to hear me, and continued on fervently, "He's passing his recklessness over to you, making you abandon your cautious tactics. Necessary or not, I stand by my previous argument and no amount of cajoling from you – no matter how pleasant – will sway my opinion otherwise."

The crease in his brow smoothed a fraction and he touched me on the cheek, his thumb rubbing warm circles into my skin. I could tell he was still mad, but his voice softened just enough to assure me he wasn't too pissed.

"You really scared me, you know... I truly thought the Eidolon had you fooled and helpless in its clutches."

Covering his hand with my own, I leaned into his touch, closing my eyes.

"I know. I'm sorry for worrying you..."

For a long while, we stayed as we were – Magnus reclining while I sat, our hands locked together on my cheek and Chairman Meow curled up in my lap like a fluffy white softball. Then, with a heavy sigh, Magnus dropped his hand to agitatedly rake his fingers through his hair.

"I still can't believe that demon actually tracked us down," he intoned quietly, his voice pensive. "Especially after all this time. I figured it would've forgotten."

Shaking my head, I said, "Demons don't forget. Unlike humans, they keep their promises and threats... or die trying."

Magnus's jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed, blue sparks dancing around his slender fingers. "I don't like it," he muttered darkly. "Nothing about this fills me with what you would call a warm and fuzzy feeling."

To this, I didn't respond, but silently agreed.

The majority of the battle on Brocelind Plain was a blur to me; a nightmarish blur of blood, monsters, arrows, death and blue lightning. Even if it had only lasted ten minutes in reality, living it had felt like an eternity. Looking back on it, I couldn't remember how many Shadowhunters and Downworlders I saw fall, how many types of demons there were – familiar and foreign – or even how many demons had perished beneath my bow and blades. For the most part, I could remember snippets: a tentacled body; a spider-leg the size of my entire body; a green face, gruesomely twisted and warped; a spined tail, barbed with a scorpion stinger.

There was, however, one particular group of demons I did remember amid the chaos. They were among the final demons Magnus and I fight before the battle ended. It would've been hard not to remember this family of Eidolon siblings since, not only had they ganged up on us, but they'd somehow wormed their way into our brains, delved into our personal memories. They had messed with our heads, transforming themselves into the people we cared most about, forcing me to fight and "kill" Isabelle, my parents, Jace... and Max. I didn't give them the chance to assume Magnus's form; I killed them too quickly to allow for that. As to what Magnus saw, I'd caught only fleeting glimpses: two boys, one with bat ears and wings, the other with shaggy brown hair and a lupine face; a mundane woman with black hair and blue eyes; a selkie male with short, silver hair and a muscular build; a vampiress with pale blond curls and emerald eyes.

Despite the mind games, Magnus and I fought on, each imbued with the other's abilities: me with the warlock's electric, euphoric power, Magnus with my agility and battle prowess. One by one, the Eidolon siblings fell beneath fire and arrows and steel. I held claim over most of the siblings' lives since Magnus had been preoccupied fending off the most powerful demon of the family, the one we assumed was the eldest on account of its strength. Not only was the eldest Eidolon's strength memorable, but so was its true form – snake skin, insect feelers and praying mantis, scythe arms.

By the time I had smote the last of its Eidolon siblings beneath my fire and arrows, the eldest was shrieking curses at me, furiously trying to dispatch Magnus so it could get to me. I had been just about ready to join up with my boyfriend so we could finish off the Eidolon together... and then Valentine died beneath Raziel's avenging light. With his control on the demon army shattered, the Eidolon had fled with the others, but not before swearing its revenge on us – me in particular – for the slaying of its kin...

A promise that had led to tonight's events at Pandemonium.

"What I don't understand," I began broodingly, stroking Chairman Meow's white and gray striped fur, "is why the Eidolon went to all that trouble to dress up as you. I mean, it's clearly obvious it was the one responsible for all those mundane and Downworlder deaths so it could lure me out of the Institute. But once it had me there, why didn't it just kill me outright? Why assume your form? And how did it even get your clothes?"

"The same way I can 'borrow' a full course meal of Caesar salad, ziti and chicken parmesan from that Italian restaurant, Bamonte's, down the street with the snap of a finger," Magnus explained, answering my second question first.

I frowned and mumbled peevishly under my breath, "And here I thought you actually made that dinner..."

Magnus merely smiled at me before his expression smoothed back into one of seriousness. "Warlocks get their magic from their demon parents, and whatever abilities we have is only half as powerful as what our demonic kin can muster up," he explained. "My ability summon whatever I happen to need with a finger snap is one many other powerful demons have, only they could transport a blue whale from the Aegean Sea to my apartment with the twitch of an eye. As long as you know what you're looking for and where it is, you can invoke it. I'm guessing our Eidolon friend had shared this ability and used it to conjure up the only thing he knew I wore – the Armani jacket you so kindly destroyed – as part of his disguise to fool you into thinking he was me.

"As to why he did it, I can only assume he wanted to toy with you before he killed you. It's entirely possible he wanted you to suffer as you died, tortured by the belief that I was the one who killed you," Magnus guessed darkly, distinct anger coloring his tone. "I would even go so far as to say that if it had succeeded in killing you, it would've stripped off your clothes and assumed your appearance to come after me next. The only reason you were its primary target was because you were the one who killed his siblings. I merely held him at bay."

This thought distressed me. I didn't like the idea of Magnus being targeted because of his relationship with me.

"By the way," Magnus began casually and yanked me forward, dislodging Chairman Meow from my lap with an angry hiss. With an expert tug, he swung my leg over his hips, effectively pulling me on top of him. Blushing, I stared down at him from my perch on his slender hips, and his eyes flicked up to my face, curious as a kitten. "If you lost the Sensor before you met up with the demon, how did you know it wasn't me?"

I blinked, not expecting this question. Timidly, I tried to move off Magnus, but his hands tightly gripped my thighs, pinning me to him. Well aware he wasn't about to let me move, I yielded to him; the warlock's half-lidded cat eyes winked with impish fire in response to my surrender. His grip softened, and his long hands stroked down the tops of my thighs in one lethargic, sensual motion. My legs trembled helplessly on either side of his lithe body.

To keep him from distracting me further, I hurriedly answered, "It wasn't too hard to figure out. Had he appeared in front of anyone else, they never would've thought twice about his identity. But I could pick out the subtle differences that separated him from you."

Magnus raised an eyebrow. "Subtle? I spend three hours once a day every day in front of a mirror just to make sure nothing about me is subtle."

"Yes, subtle. More shocking than the knowledge that that word is even in your vocabulary, there are some small details about you whose absence would be noticed by an intimate friend like me." He arched an eyebrow at "intimate friend," but I cut him off before he could comment. "Now shush, or do you not want to know what your subtleties are?"

Much to my surprise, Magnus actually clamped his mouth shut, smiling faintly. I honestly hadn't thought he would.

"Thank you," I praised, sitting back on my heels to take some weight off his gut. After a moment's pause to collect my thoughts, I said, "These aren't in any particular order, but the Eidolon talked just like you. It was all very convincing. It even mentioned me repaying you – or it – for all our lost dates; probably heard us arguing from wherever it was watching us. However, it made a few mistakes. For one, it kept calling me 'Lightwood' or by my full name, but never 'Alec.' Another one was that it knew I'd lost my Sensor, which you wouldn't have known since you weren't there. But its biggest mistake was a comment it made that was clearly based off assumption. It tried to brush off my abandoning the hunt by saying that I'd killed thousands of demons over my lifetime, which…"

"Which the real me would know that wasn't true," interjected Magnus, nodding his head.

I smiled. "Exactly. My overall total of slain demons can only be fit into the past few months, starting with the battle on Valentine's boat. I killed my first demon there. But the Eidolon, of course, didn't know that. He just assumed I, like every other Shadowhunter my age, had laid claim to countless demon lives. Only those close to me like you, Isabelle and Jace would know otherwise."

"That was very sloppy of him," he commented, his fingertips tracing distracting patterns on my thigh. "He didn't do his homework and gave himself away."

"It didn't," I countered quietly.

Magnus raised an eyebrow. "No?"

I shook my head. "No. I knew long before that that it wasn't you. His comment was just one sample out of my collection of supporting evidence." Stroking my hand across his neck, I explained. "Another clue was that it didn't smell anything like you. It carried a demon's scent of sulfur and dead things. It tried to explain it away by using the fictional story of the fish-and-seaweed smoothie a kelpie supposedly dumped on him."

Magnus smirked. "Well, that's to be expected. It took me at least ten years to concoct my hygiene products and I doubt some demon could imitate their scent in less than a few minutes."

I shook my head. "I'm not talking about your shampoo or body wash. I'm talking about you. You... you're..." I gestured vaguely, trying to describe it, and blushed when I came upon the right words. "You're like a flower, I guess. You have your own scent... You smell like your fire, your magic... like incense and smoke."

A sly little smirk began to creep over Magnus's face, but before he could call me out on my mortifying pronouncement, I quickly picked up his hand and continued, "Even its temperature was off. It was cold... tepid." Pressing his palm to my cheek, I felt his heat even as my own cheeks grew hot. "You're warm."

The smugness faded from Magnus's smile, gentling it. Whatever comment had been forming on his tongue seemed to have faded, and he was more than content to – for once – remain silent and let me talk. He stroked his thumb over my cheek, wordlessly offering me the encouragement needed to continue, his cat eyes warm.

With great reluctance, I withdrew his hand from my face, but didn't let go. Staring down at the long-fingered hand in my grip, I grazed my fingertips tenderly over the back of his hand, feeling the slightly raised flesh of the white, knot-like scar branded into his golden skin. Shyly, I traced the tip of my index finger over the remnants of the Alliance Rune, an eternal reminder of the time we had been joined as one. Eyes riveted to it, I knew if I held my left hand against his, our disconnected halves would come together to form a complete rune, like pieces of a puzzle.

"The demon was missing this important scar, too," I murmured, fixated on it. "I noticed its absence as soon as it reached up to touch me with its left hand."

Letting go of his hand, I shifted my gaze to his face and touched the corner of one olivine eye. "When he looked at me, his eyes were cold... cold, angry and hateful. I know I've frustrated and angered you to the verge of breathing fire, but never to a point where you would look at me like I was gum stuck to the bottom of your boots. No matter how much I piss you off, I know I can still find affection in your eyes. There was nothing in the demon's eyes – they were as empty as its soul. There was nothing resembling you in his eyes, no matter how much he looked like you."

Green-gold fire flared behind Magnus's vertical pupils, infusing his irises with the exact warmth that had been absent from the demon's gaze. Lowering my eyes from his eyes to his mouth, I touched his lower lip with my fingertips, remembering our first kiss: the electric jolt of the first touch, the soft press of his mouth against mine, the taste of his blueberry lipgloss. My fingers drifted away from his mouth to lightly rest along his jaw and I leaned forward, my face hovering over his. Despite his pose of calm coolness, I felt the increase of Magnus's breathing against my lips in short, quick bursts of air.

Touching my nose to his, I peered into his eyes and murmured, "Even the taste of its mouth was different than yours when it kissed me. It tasted like blood."

More out of a desire to banish the lingering aftertaste than a demonstration, I curled my fingers around his jaw and closed the distance between our lips. My stomach swooped the second our lips touched – so much different from the blind fear I felt when the Eidolon kissed me. Magnus responded immediately, fingers twining in my hair as his mouth opened to admit me. Our tongues twined, shooting heat between my legs, and the taste of sweet and spicy cinnamon mouthwash flooded my mouth. I groaned low in my throat, getting high off the taste, the sensations and the raw emotion. As much as I wanted to keep kissing him, to press my lips harder against his and lose my hands in the black silk sheets of his hair, I reluctantly withdrew.

The sight of Magnus's heaving, bare chest, hooded eyes and full, slight-kiss-bruised lips nearly undid my restrain. The warlock was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. But somehow I resisted the urge to lose myself in his touches and continued with my explanation.

"Another give away was the demon's height," I murmured, lowering my eyes to his throat so his wanton expression didn't completely unravel my fraying self-control. My eyes roved over the tantalizing expanse of Magnus's naked, slender torso, and on an impulse, I dragged my palm over his chest, caressing the length of his torso from collarbone to waist in one long stroke. A long hiss snaked through his teeth, and he arched slightly into my touch just like a cat. His eyelids fluttered closed with obvious bliss, and if I didn't know better, I'd've expected him to mewl. All the blood in my body surged downward, pooling in the pit of my gut. I swallowed thickly, futilely trying to collect my scattered thoughts and banish the mental image of Magnus arching beneath me.

Absently, I stroked my fingers along his narrow sides, stubbornly refusing to meet his half-lidded gaze of thinly disguised lust and impatience. In a faintly strangled, husky voice, I explained, "The demon knew you were tall, just not how tall. Normally, I stand eyelevel with your collarbone and have to stand on my tip toes just to get my arms around your neck. But with the demon I was eyelevel with its throat. I didn't have to crane my neck back to look at him when we stood close."

My hands stilled their idle caressing and settled on Magnus's narrow hips, my thumbs stroking circles into his golden skin. Surreptitiously, I shimmed backwards, as if I was shifting my weight to a more comfortable arrangement, I positioned myself to sit on Magnus's lap rather than his hips. I refused to meet the smoldering gaze burning a hole in my foreheads and cursed the flush rising in my face. Eyes still stubbornly downward, I pressed my hand to his flat, navel-less stomach. With heat still stinging my cheeks, I murmured, "But of all its mistakes, the demon's biggest goof was that it had a navel."

Then, before I could lose my nerve, the faint tingle in my cheeks bloomed into a full-blown blush as I bent over his stomach and gently kissed the spot where his bellybutton should've been. Reflexively, Magnus's stomach muscles contracted and rippled under my kiss, his hips jerking slightly as he sucked in a surprised breath.

I had barely withdrawn an inch from Magnus's stomach when the bedroom suddenly spun around me, and my back bounced against something soft. A hot weight settled on my hips. Half rising, expecting an attack, I had a fraction of second to register glowing olivine eyes above me before a pair of warm lips captured mine. The sudden attack had left me breathless and alert, and what little air I had left in my lungs was robbed by those sinful lips assaulting my mouth. Only when my body reacted to the sudden touch and my blood boiled under my skin did I finally realize what happened: Magnus had flipped us over and then proceeded to kiss me senseless.

Before I had enough time to recover from my shock and respond to my boyfriend's hot kisses, Magnus broke away. Hands braced on either side of my head, the warlock's body hovered parallel over mine, eclipsing the light of the bedroom and casting his face into shadow. From between the satin curtains of his dark hair and his shaded face, his eyes burned like amber-emerald fire.

"For a blushing virgin boy you are such a tease," Magnus growled, his voice rough and husky with desire.

Turning red in spite of myself, I mumbled embarrassedly, "I'm not a virgin anymore..."

A faint, sly smirk curled his lips. "No, yet you still act like it," he pointed out, then sat back on his heels with a sigh and agitatedly dragged a hand though his hair. "But you are the biggest tease I have ever known. And I've known a lot of teases over the course of my lifetime. What's worse is you don't even realize you're doing it."

Propping myself up on my elbows, fighting to ignore the friction the movement caused between our hips, I protested, "I'm not a tease! I was just telling you about all the Eidolon's mistakes in trying to perfect you."

"And demonstrating them," Magnus added smugly. Then his expression softened and he smiled affectionately at me, reaching out to touch my face. "However, I am impressed you were able to discern so many minor differences between me and the Eidolon. If you pay that much attention to the details, then you really must love me."

Blushing, I settled back against the pillows and mumbled, "Of course I love you..."

It still embarrassed me to say it out loud, but the expression of pure bliss on Magnus's face when I did was well worth the price of temporary mortification. Not that I could blame him. Between my fear and refusal to relinquish my affection for Jace and my constant denial of our relationship and my homosexuality, I'd put him through emotional hell. Hearing me confess my love for him had to be like a breath of air after being submerged underwater for too long.

Gazing up at Magnus, I drank in the beauty of his luminous eyes, his black silk hair, his honey-toned skin and the smooth, scar less expanse of his torso and lithe, feline body. I knew if I closed my eyes I would still see him in all his perfection, as if a stele had inked his image into my inner eyelids like a rune. Magnus's face had burned out the memory of Jace a long time ago. At first, back in the early days, I was frightened when I could no longer picture the exact angle of Jace's jaw or the precise shade of dark gold his eyes turned when he was angry or fighting. Even more terrifying was when my mental image of him suddenly developed spiky black hair or tan skin or slit pupils. I'd rebelled against Magnus's conquest of my heart and mind as long as I could, refusing to admit he already had my love. Even when he had completely blotted out Jace's face, it still took Clary's Adoration Rune to help me fully accept my feelings for the warlock. And that had lend me the courage to prove it, by kissing him in front of the whole Clave. Looking at him now, I couldn't imagine having ever loved another man. All I saw now was glitter, bold and crazy outfits... and Magnus.

"You know..." I began slowly, combing my finger through his hair, smooth and sleek as liquid silk, "despite all the clues I told you about, none of them really mattered in the end."

Magnus frowned slightly. "What do you mean?"

"I mean they were all of secondary importance. None of them actually told me the Eidolon wasn't you. Those hints were just further proof of what I already knew," I explained, curling my hand around his neck and drew him closer. "You know what really gave away the demon's identity?"

"Its ringtone was the Devil Went Down in Georgia and music from The Exorcist started playing when its head turned in a hundred-eight degree angle?" he guessed randomly.

Rolling my eyes with an exasperated shake of my head, I scoffed, "It was a little more subtle than that." Smiling, I cupped his cheek and murmured quietly, "His outfit and makeup didn't mesh well. His eyeshadow was too dark, to inexpertly applied, he wasn't wearing enough glitter, and you would rather die than wear an outfit as plain as his to a party, let alone a club, even if a kelpie did spill its smoothie on you." Smiling shyly up at his dumbfounded expression, I mumbled, "No one can pull off the glitter mixed with rock and roll look like you can, Magnus..."

For a heartbeat, the warlock only blinked down at me with wide eyes, seemingly in a state of shock. Then, a grin melted his face as laughter bubbled up from his throat, his eyes glittering warmly as he shook his head.

Suddenly feeling humiliated, heat flooded my face and I scowled up at him. "What? What'd I say–"

Long hands closed on either side of my burning face, holding it in place as Magnus touched his forehead to mine, his laughter hitting my lips in hot bursts of air. Gold eyes locked onto mine, warm and mirthful. Between laughs and slow, sweeping shakes of his head, he said, "You... You are the most..."

I never found out what exactly I was, since Magnus chose that moment to kiss me, his lips and body hot against mine. My rigid posture softened under the slow, loving, but no less passionate kiss, and I momentarily forgot to be embarrassed. The warlock was a master of changing the subject via distraction.

"Cheater..." I mumbled against his lips, to which he responded by kissing me harder, his laughter rumbling in his chest like the purr of an overly large cat.

When Magnus broke the kiss, leaving me flushed and breathless, he bumped my cheek with the tip of his nose, grinning, and murmured, "I love you."

Color warmed my cheeks, but before I could stammer out a response, the warlock braced himself above me on his elbows and said, "I also love how you 'borrowed' your little catch phrase from the lovely Lady Gaga. And here I thought you knew nothing of pop culture."

It took me a second to realize he was referring to my "glitter-mixed-with-rock'n'roll" comment and the song I'd heard it from.

"I don't," I confirmed. "I heard it one day while I was in Izzy's room. She was blaring the song. Although I found it obnoxious and felt some concern with the gusto in which she was singing along with it, I did pick up on that one particular line." I shrugged carelessly, averting my eyes embarrassedly. "It reminded me of you. That's all."

"Hmm…" Magnus intoned, trailing one slender finger down my throat. "Remind me to thank Isabelle for inadvertently lending you some culture."

Before I could protest to this, Magnus's eyes suddenly narrowed, his finger stilling on my neck. I was about to question him when the pressure of his fingertip increased. A dull, painful throb swelled up from the spot, as if he'd pushed on a tender bruise. But I hadn't sustained any injuries from my encounter with the Eidolon demon...

Then I remembered.

Glowering at the hickey like he had at Chairman Meow when he'd used the warlock's cyan and lime fur coat as a litterbox, Magnus growled, "That needs to go."

Sparks glowed at his fingertips, and I shivered when the blue membrane of his magic touched my neck, alternatively warm and cool. It was over in less than a second, and Magnus withdrew from my neck, apparently leaving it unmarked once more...

Only to immediately replace his fingers with his mouth. I gasped, my breath hitching in my throat. Shivering, I clutched at his shoulders, my blood racing through my veins as he sucked hard on my neck, his lips hot and wet. The dark tendrils of his silky hair tickled my neck.

Suddenly lifting his head from my throat, the warlock's hands were up under my sweater, drawing it over my head and off my arms before I could formulate a coherent response. It hit the floor somewhere next to me. The cool air of the apartment slid over my overheated bare chest, sending shivers through me... and the burning hands that slid over my torso did little to alleviate my trembling.

"Now..." Magnus purred in my ear, nibbling at the lobe as his hand trailed lower, ghosting over my stomach. "I think it's about time you kept your promise and compensated me for all those interruptions. All twenty-three of them. Starting right now."

That long-fingered hand dove under the waistband of my sweats, cutting off my retort with a gasping, pleasured moan.

It was nearly midday when I stumbled into the Institute, bleary-eyed and more than a little sore. Praying that no one was up – since Jace and Isabelle tended to sleep in on weekends – I hobbled into the kitchen in search of food. I'd left Magnus's with nothing more than a cup of coffee in my stomach, seeing as the contents of his fridge were questionable at best, and I hadn't been feeling particularly adventurous that morning. And after last night's... activities and compensations – all twenty-three lost dates worth – I was far too hungry and in too desperate a need to replenish my depleted energy to forgo breakfast.

I'd gotten as far as opening the refrigerator door and poking my head inside when an amused, drawling voice boomed, "Gooood morning, sunshine. Long night?"

I whirled around, smacking my head on the door. Cursing under my breath, I rubbed the abused spot and glared at the smirking blond figure perched on the counter.

"Why must you be so loud first thing in the morning?" I snarled angrily at Jace.

"Well, I figured I'd have to be loud in order for you to hear me," he said by way of explanation. Upon my confused expression, he grinned and clarified, "You know. After all the screaming and sex sounds of last night, I figured your ears would still be ringing." In complete obliviousness to my scandalized expression, he held out a plate to me and asked, "Cinnamon bun?"

Absolutely horrified, I could only gape at Jace for several minutes, all the color drained from my face. It returned much too quickly. Cheeks burning, I snatched one of the lumpy cinnamon rolls off the plate and snapped hastily, "I don't know what you're talking about..."

Jace's amber eyes glittered. "'Course you don't," he scoffed, then grinned when I took a huge bite out of the cinnamon roll to hide my embarrassment... and choked when the sickly sweetness and burnt flavor battered my tastebuds. "Isabelle made those, by the way."

With a barely concealed grimace, I forced myself to swallow, fighting the urge to run to the nearest garbage can. Glaring at my brother, I chucked the cinnamon bun at his head. He ducked and it hit the kitchen wall like a hockey puck against cement. And it wasn't the wall that made the noise, either.

"Asshole," I growled, striding past him and out into the hallway with as much grace as I could muster.

Jace laughed, leaning forward to peer out the kitchen door and watch me as I stomped down the hall. "You'd know all about assholes, now wouldn't you?" he called after me, wicked humor coloring his tone. "Must be why you're limping like–"

The gyrating squeal of the elevator doors closing shut drowned out his voice. Hitting the speed dial as the elevator shuddered and sank, I held my phone to my ear and waited. He picked up on the second ring.

"Miss me already, darling?"

"I'm coming back over," I said without preamble.

Magnus seemed to purr. "Jace?" he guessed, right as the elevator bucked and opened up to the ground floor.

"Yup," I growled, striding out of the elevator and through the row of dusty pews.

I could picture him nodding. Then, in a voice so soft and loving it made my knees buckle, Magnus said, "I'll be waiting."

Lost in a daydream about cat eyes, spiked hair and honeyed skin, I barely felt the elapse of time or the subway ride from Manhattan to Greenpoint. My thoughts carried me all the way up the stairs to Magnus's loft apartment. Only when I reached his door did I withdraw from my fantasy and return to reality. For once, reality was far better.

Magnus was waiting for me by the open door, dressed in a crimson vest, his gold mesh shirt and dark, torn jeans. When he saw me, he opened his arms wide and smiled. "Welcome home, love."

Home, I thought, my heart lurching as I stepped into his embrace, inhaling his sandalwood and smoke aroma, reveling in his warmth. Here, in Magnus's glitter encrusted arms, everything seemed so far away: the demon hunting, the memory of Max's death, even Magnus's immortality. In his arms, I didn't concern myself with the past or the future, but the here and the now; the warmth of his arms, the joy in my heart, the sense of belonging and the love we shared.

I'm home.

The door swung closed behind us as we cross the threshold, the lock sliding into place.

A/N: Whoo, that was fun =) So, just a few parting notes here. Since Alec isn't up on his pop culture, in case anyone was curious, the first song that's playing in Pandemonium is Take It Off by Ke$sha. The song totally made me think of Pandemonium. As for my Adam Lambert references, I couldn't resist. I'm not particularly a fan, and I've never even watched Idol, but I have seen pictures of him, and can't help but thinking that he – to an extent – shares Magnus's style. I know he's a favorite to portray Magnus, but he doesn't really fit my mental image; Miyavi is closer to how I picture Magnus, but I figured it would be more likely to hear Adam playing in a club than Miyavi, so he got suckered into my referencing. Plus his song totally made me jump up and scream "Oh, my God, Magnus!" when I first heard it. Also, I can easily picture Isabelle dancing around her room singing to Lady Gaga's Boys, Boys, Boys. It just fits her so well.

Well, I hope you all liked it. I worked really hard to get it right, especially since I tried something new, something I'm not good at: subtly. I tried to keep Alec's feelings and thoughts vague while dealing with the demon so I wouldn't give away the twist right away. Hope I did ok. Anyways, if you liked it, drop a review to let me know. And if you think I should up the rating, let me know that, too. Thank you all! ~Des