Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay, but this week's chapter ended up taking a while to type and edit, in part because it's so long, but also because it deals with an incident that I just made up; I have no idea if we're going to see something like this in the next TMI book or not, but I thought that a battle like this seemed at least vaguely plausible. (Also, depending on what you read, my descriptions of wendigo aren't totally accurate here. Sorry, I'm not a Monstrumologist. :)) Since "City of Heavenly Fire" doesn't come out until 2014, I thought I'd write this coda chapter as a way of showing the kind of scenario where, I think, Magnus and Alec might finally get back together. No lemon, sorry, but though I'm going to mark this story as complete after posting this, I plan to add one more lemony chapter in the near future….:) (Probably not until December though—I've got a lot of plans for other fic in November…)
For now though, thank you so much for reading "You and I" (I recommend songs of the same title by Queen and Wilco), and I hope you enjoy this sort-of-last chapter. When CoHF finally comes out though, I reserve the right to ignore this coda and write more mostly-canon fic about Magnus and Alec. Anyway, thanks as always for your reviews, and I'll see you later! :)
Disclaimer: Cassandra Clare is the author of "The Mortal Instruments," and she suggested in a tweet that she might write some standalone stories about Magnus. Yes, please. PLEASE!
Coda: You and I, Chapter Thirty-Five
Everywhere Alec looked, buildings were burning, people were screaming, and demons were tearing through the streets. So much blood and death; how many more lives would Sebastian's insane machinations claim before they could finally stop him? Alec tried not to think as he raced through the city, picking off demons where he could and relishing every time he struck one with an arrow or split a foul creature with his sword, because every time, he pictured his brother's killer. How were they ever going to stop that bastard?
It had been just a few hours since Sebastian had released a horde of demons in New York, and already, the city was in chaos. Alec had been taking a walk when it all started (since losing Magnus, he'd discovered that, as a coping mechanism, taking long walks was slightly preferable to drinking too much or laying in bed, wracked by misery). Now, he was gradually making his way toward the Institute. After a frantic call from Izzy, he'd agreed to get there as soon as he could, but now, as he passed Central Park, it was clear that that was going to be a lot easier said than done.
Suddenly, a horrible shrieking filled the air, and Alec covered his ears against the noise. He thought he recognized the sound from descriptions in books, but he could be wrong—he hoped that he was wrong in his assessment of the sound. Then he heard a horrible scream, abruptly silenced, and then a terrible sucking sound filled the park. Cursing, Alec ran toward the noise. It was a wendigo, a demon that liked nothing more than to feast on living flesh. But then, as he approached the shrieking creature, a man-sized tangle of wings and loose skin on a skeletal frame, currently huddled over several desiccated corpses, the sight of blue sparks brought him up short.
Magnus, who must have been heading toward the Institute too, was shooting spells at the wendigo, who immediately turned to face its new, more interesting prey.
"No!" Alec shouted, firing an arrow at the thing. The wendigo was so fast and so thin that Alec's shot sailed harmlessly past, not even nicking the skeletal monster. Alec realized with horror how tired he was—Magnus too would be drained from fighting demons ever since he'd left his apartment. He might not have the strength to face a wendigo now—Alec wasn't sure that he did either. But they would have to try.
"Magnus!" Alec shouted, and as Magnus turned to face him, Alec was momentarily terrified—when Magnus looked at him, would there be hatred in his expression? Would he want or even accept his help now?
For a moment, Magnus simply looked surprised. Then he scowled, but not in an "I loathe you" sort of way. Really, Alec thought that the scowl was an exasperated one rather than an angry one; he'd had some experience with Magnus's scowls.
"Oh, you're here, are you? Lovely. Now my evening is complete."
Alec aimed another arrow at the wendigo while Magnus peppered the thing with magic. It squealed and retreated a few yards, but it made no move to flee. Its cavernous eyes watched them, the pupils huge and horrible as it stared, its mouth still dripping blood from its most recent human victim. Alec didn't know much about wendigos, except that you had to try and stop them as fast as you could, because paradoxically, the more they fed, the hungrier they became. And any creature, a demon in particular, was especially dangerous when it was hungry.
"We need to blind it," Alec said quickly. "It'll have a harder time catching and eating us if it can't see us. Aim for its eyes and—"
"I'll distract it, and you can shoot it," Magnus said decidedly. "If we can get it on the ground, get behind it and cut its head off. Otherwise, I'll try to manage a good blow through its chest, though it's going to take a lot of power to stop it that way..."
"Have you ever killed one of these before?" Alec demanded.
"Yes," Magnus said, glaring at him. "Have you?"
"No," Alec admitted. "I was just…checking to see that you had a reason for arguing."
Magnus raised his eyebrows. "You thought that I might just be arguing with you for the sake of arguing when there's a wendigo trying to kill us?"
"I just, I wasn't sure you'd even talk to me when we saw each other again, let alone argue with me about something, so I was just…surprised," Alec said defensively.
A very faint smile flashed across Magnus's face. "Alec…aim for its neck." Then he charged the wendigo.
"Wait, Magnus!" Alec cursed as Magnus moved forward, drawing the creature's attention with another shower of sparks. Taking a deep breath, Alec aimed an arrow at the creature's right eye, then growled when he missed. He just needed to hit it, weaken it enough so that Magnus would have a chance to strike without the creature dodging, but after missing another shot, Alec could see that the wendigo was just too fast, and now it was just a few feet from Magnus.
Clearly, it didn't like being hit by the sparks that sprang from the warlock's hands—it kept jerking back and shrieking in pain. But for a wendigo, hunger was everything, and Alec realized with horror that unless they killed this creature, it would never stop hunting them. Now that it had identified them as prey, no strategy would be too clever to escape it, no pain would be too great to stop it, or even delay it for long. They needed to deal it a killing blow, soon, before it killed them.
Arrows clearly weren't working, so Alec drew his sword and charged toward the creature's back. It was the sort of unexpected, rash move that could sometimes catch a demon off guard—demons often expected that their prey would be as cunning as they were, so any sudden, risky moves could confuse them. Not this demon though. It glanced away from Magnus just long enough to snap at Alec, and then one of its horrible clawed hands lashed out at Alec, sending him crashing into a tree.
Alec heard Magnus call his name, and Alec thought briefly, well, at least we're talking again. Then he stood up, took a deep breath, and ran at the wendigo again. At this point, Alec's strategy consisted of simply getting in a blow, just doing something to distract the demon long enough for Magnus to hit it with any spell that might actually hurt it. He aimed his sword at the creature, noting how its clawed hands reached for Magnus even as it turned its head toward the approaching sword, its teeth bared.
With a yell, Alec launched himself at the demon. Before, he'd been trying to avoid the teeth and claws—not this time. The wendigo shrieked when Alec's sword sank into its stomach, but getting that close meant that he was within easy reach of the creature's fangs. The wendigo, having new prey so close, turned away from Magnus and pounced on Alec, knocking him to the ground, where he slid on the blood-slick grass for several seconds before stopping, the wendigo poised to strike above him. Alec drew a dagger, the only weapon he had left, and stabbed the wendigo's arm as its claws dug painfully into his shoulders, pinning him to the ground, and then it lowered its head to sink its teeth into him.
"Alec!" Magnus shouted, and then Alec screamed when fangs pierced his chest. The pain was so shocking that a second cry died in his throat, and though Alec could already feel himself losing consciousness, his own blood soaking his clothes now, he felt a moment of exasperation. Magnus might have a shot at getting away now, he should run while he still had the chance…
The hideous pain burning through his chest was suddenly halted by a blinding flash of blue light. Then Alec closed his eyes.
Magnus dropped to his knees after incinerating the wendigo. This wasn't the first demon he'd killed that night, and because of the strength of the spell it had taken to blow such a monster to smithereens, Magnus knew that he wouldn't be killing anything else tonight. He barely had enough strength left to stand. Though he was shaking with exhaustion, he forced himself to his feet to go to Alec, who was bleeding profusely and unconscious, his face already horribly pale.
Cursing, Magnus lifted him up as gently as he could—he was still alive, but he wouldn't be for long unless Magnus could get the bleeding to stop. He knew that it would cost him precious energy, but obviously there was no way he was going to carry Alec all the way to the Institute or his apartment, and healing a blood-soaked Shadowhunter in Central Park during some kind of demon invasion was clearly a bad idea too, so he would need a portal. Working fast, he held Alec tightly and opened one—the shrieks of other demons were getting closer every second, drawn by the smell of blood, and Magnus knew he only had a moment to decide where they should go.
At the Institute, they'd have help from the Shadowhunters. But at his apartment, they wouldn't have an audience, which was exactly what they'd have at the Institute…a potentially hostile audience. (Later, Magnus would have to decide if he trusted all of the Shadowhunters currently in residence at the New York Institute.) If Magnus was going to talk to Alec, and he was determined to finally break the long silence between them, assuming they survived the next few minutes, he wanted to do that alone. So, as the portal sent them spinning toward his apartment, Magnus held onto Alec and swore at him under his breath.
"You stupid, stupid, nephilim," he muttered. "You can't be an untrustworthy ass sometimes and my knight in shining armor other times. Dammit, Alec…"
And then they were in the apartment. Magnus, feeling a little woozy, closed the portal and checked that the wards that protected his building still held. Outside, he could hear less demon activity—perhaps they were massing somewhere for a major assault. For a moment, Magnus felt guilty for not taking them to the Institute: it could be under siege at that very moment. But then, as he crouched beside Alec and struggled to heal his wounds, an even more unpleasant thought occurred to him: if he had taken them to the Institute, would he be treated as a friend, or as an enemy?
Not every Shadowhunter staying at the Institute was exactly a friend to Downworlders, and Magnus wondered, if he appeared suddenly in the courtyard of the Institute, Alec wounded and maybe dying in his arms, would some of the nephilim assume he was Alec's attacker? The Lightwoods at least wouldn't jump to such a ridiculous conclusion. But other Shadowhunters, when faced with a warlock looming over an injured Shadowhunter, might strike first and ask questions later.
Gradually, Alec's wounds began to close. Magnus was relieved, but he could feel himself weakening rapidly. Before he lost consciousness himself, he needed to bandage what was left of Alec's injuries and get him into a bed. Then he needed to contact the Institute to tell them what was going on before sleeping, possibly for several days.
As if the thought of nephilim had summoned them, Magnus heard Alec's phone buzz. Pulling it out of Alec's pocket, he checked to see who it was before answering. "Dearest Isabelle, this isn't really a great time. Your brother and I just fought a wendigo, and now he's bleeding all over my floor."
"WHAT?!" Isabelle shouted.
"Alec is bleeding all over my floor, not the wendigo," Magnus clarified. "It is dead, and now Alec and I are both fine, though your brother is going to need some rest, as his wounds were rather messy. And I'm going to need some sleep too, honestly, before either of us joins the fight again, because I'm about to collapse face-first into a pool of cooling blood. And I'm so exhausted, I might not even mind."
"Okay," Isabelle said slowly. "Well, at least Alec's okay. And at least you still have the energy to be snarky. And I guess your wards are holding, or I'd hear demons screaming in the background right now. So, you're really both okay for the time being?"
"Yes, so please don't worry," Magnus said, too tired to ask for an update on the demon army situation. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hang up before I really pass out."
"Okay," Isabelle said, sounding worried. "Be careful then, and have Alec call as soon as he wakes up, okay? We're all right here too, by the way, and thanks for asking. Everyone's trying to get ready for the battle—Sebastian's slowly getting all the demons together, as far as we can tell—the mundanes are explaining this whole mess as being some kind of natural disaster, I guess—a freak tornado or something—so at least they're staying off the streets, for now."
"Great, good, see you later then," Magnus said, ending the call. He was just too tired to talk or listen anymore. Chairman Meow padded into the room then, yawning as though he'd slept through the entirety of the demon incursion so far.
"Good, I'm going to need you here for moral support," Magnus said, lifting Alec as carefully as he could and beginning the long, difficult process of walking down the hall and carrying Alec to the bedroom. "You have…such an encouraging attitude."
Chairman Meow yawned again.
At several points during the trek to the end of the hallway, Magnus was tempted to just set Alec down and cover him with a blanket, but he decided that letting Alec sleep on the floor would be a bit much, even if he was still angry with him. Finally, Magnus got him into bed, then found a first aid kit in the bathroom (that was less tiring than summoning one from thin air). He bandaged Alec as best he could, and since his wounds were little more than scabs now, the sloppy job he'd done wouldn't matter—anyway, it wasn't the first time he'd put Alec to bed in such a state. Maybe if you dated a Shadowhunter, hasty first aid just came with the territory.
Belatedly, Magnus realized that he could have just stuck Alec in one of the guest rooms. Cursing, he climbing into bed anyway—he was exhausted, and he wasn't about to sleep anywhere but here, even if that meant waking up next to someone he wasn't sure if he wanted to kiss or throttle.
Of course, I'm so tired now that I'd probably be just as comfortable on the floor…Magnus thought wearily, pulling a blanket over himself and Alec, and almost immediately, he was asleep.
When Alec opened his eyes, his chest was sore, but he was pleasantly warm, and a familiar pair of yellow-green eyes were staring down at him.
"You know, I'm worried. We must both be masochists, because this happens entirely too often."
Alec stared. "What?"
"Waking up in this or a similar bed after being wounded in some battle," Magnus explained. "We're either masochists or just unlucky. Or we're just very, very stupid. I think that's the most likely explanation in both our cases, honestly."
"Oh," Alec said slowly, still not fully awake. "Uh…hi."
"Hi. We need to talk."
Alec blinked. "Um…okay. But what happened?"
"I blew up the wendigo, portalled us back here, healed you, reassured your sister, and then stupidly put you in my bed. And one of your wounds leaked a little, so now I'm never going to be able to get the blood stains out of this mattress."
Alec blinked again. "Aren't there…spells for that?"
"Yes, but it's easier to just make a new mattress materialize than to bother with cleaning one," Magnus said impatiently. "Anyway, Sebastian's demons are gathering, though it's taking a while. We've both been asleep for a few hours, and they're only just now really getting organized. I suppose they were just having too much fun killing and gorging themselves on mundanes to stop."
Alec felt slightly ill—Magnus's tone was flippant, but his expression was grim. "We need to go to the Institute."
"Yes, I just spoke to Isabelle about that," Magnus said, brandishing his phone. "They're expecting us within the hour, but before we go there, I need to say something, that something being that it was phenomenally stupid, throwing yourself at a wendigo like that. What exactly were you trying to accomplish?!"
"I just wanted to protect you!" Alec said defensively. "After—after what I did, I just thought…the least I could do was make sure you'd be okay."
Magnus's eyes narrowed. "Please tell me you're kidding."
Alec was silent for a moment. "You could still get away, you know. You don't have to die here with us, Magnus."
"This is my city too," Magnus said, his voice an angry whisper. "And I hardly see the point of your trying to protect me, Alec. It's a bit late for that, isn't it? The city's full of demons, and in any case, trying to shield me from danger now isn't going to make me forget about what you and Camille chatted about."
"I know!" Alec said quietly, closing his eyes. "I know. I know I can't make up for that. That's why I'm telling you to leave. It was a mistake, being with me. You can go somewhere else, start a new life…meet someone else."
"Really, Alexander," Magnus muttered, and Alec opened his eyes when he heard how uneven Magnus's voice sounded. "Over-protectiveness hardly suits your personality."
Alec shrugged. "Really? We both know how jealous I can get."
"Jealous, and selfish, and thoughtless," Magnus muttered.
"And you'd be better off far away from me," Alec whispered.
Magnus stared at him for a long moment, and then he grabbed Alec by the shoulders, pinning him to the bed, and kissed him hard. Alec was too shocked to even move. When Magnus was finished kissing, he drew back and glared down at Alec.
"This does not mean we are back together," Magnus said furiously. "This means that on the off chance that we survive the battle that's about to start, I will consider trying to find it in my heart to forgive you. But first, be honest: were you hoping for a chance like this, to save my life in a foolish attempt to win me back?"
"Yes," Alec admitted immediately. "I mean, I was hoping for a chance to help you when you really needed it—I didn't factor in the possibility of legions of hungry demons being involved though. And I will die for you, Magnus, if that'll keep you safe today, but if we live, I'm going to spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you. So, thank you, for considering forgiving me."
"At a future date, far, far in the future," Magnus said firmly.
"And have I mentioned how sorry I still am?" Alec whispered.
"Not today," Magnus said with a wry smile. "And for future reference, I think a daily apology will be more than sufficient. If you really want to make it up to me, life saving is a good start, but not if you injure yourself in the process and I have to all but knock myself out to heal you. So, today's efforts aren't going to count toward your total."
"Total?" Alec said blankly. "What, is there a point system here?"
"I'll have to think about that," Magnus said thoughtfully. "Certain activities might be worth more forgiveness points than others…"
Alec smiled for a moment, but then he really looked at Magnus uncertainly. "Do you think…I mean, someday, could you really—"
Magnus stared down at him, his expression somehow both sad and loving. "I'd die for you too, you know. That's why I said we're both stupid, Alec. I couldn't stop loving you, even when I'd decided that I should. I don't know if we'll even be alive this time tomorrow, let alone if, or when, I'll forgive you after that…but I do trust you with my life, however much of it is left now."
Alec swallowed hard. "I don't deserve your trust."
Magnus snorted. "The world would be in a sorrier state than it is if we all gave and got the trust and love we really deserve. You probably trust me more than you should too. But age and experience have taught me that it's usually worth taking a risk to get something you really want."
"Getting someone you want is even harder though," Alec whispered. "There's so many ways to screw up."
"But it's worth trying, if both parties can put forth the proper effort," Magnus said softly. "If both people can learn not to keep too many secrets…and to forgive each other, sometimes against their better judgment…well, who knows? Maybe we'll live long enough to try again."
"Try again…" Alec smiled then. "Magnus, when this is over…will you have dinner with me? And I promise right now not to kiss you until our third date—that's how long you're supposed to wait, right?"
Magnus sighed fondly. "Stupid nephilim." And this time, when Magnus kissed him, Alec kissed him back.