Author's Note:This is dedicated to Bel, who has no idea how much I love talking to her and how much she helps me. Since I've missed your birthday by yonks, consider this an early Christmas present! This was actually a oneshot but, after it hit about page thirty, I figured I'd better split it into mini-chapters for easier reading. It's almost completely finished and as of now it looks like there'll be nine parts, seven of which are already complete. I'll upload a new part every Tuesday.
Summary: "Killing things, that I can do. You get in there – stab, shoot, burn, get out. Simple. But, dating... that I don't understand." Magnus/Alec, AU. For Bel.
Disclaimer: Mortal Instruments belongs to Cassandra Clare.
"We welcome our new brother, Magnus Bane, replacing Klaus as General of the Fourth District."
A short round of applause followed the announcement, a general hum of approval breaking out at the Warlock's name. Magnus soaked it in, his new position amidst the Council, the ultimate recognition of his skills, and allowed himself a small grin. It had been a long effort to reach this place, and damn, did he deserve it. The years of toil, being the lackey of inferior men, demeaned to running errands and, if he was very well behaved, possibly taking care of a minor Shadowhunter or two.
Well, no more of that. Now he ordered the lackeys around. Now he fought the big bad bosses. No longer was he forced to dwell in the poverty-riddled First District. Once the meeting drew to a close, he would be returning to his new home in the lap of luxury; silk sheets, plush carpets, ridiculously extravagant four-post bed, a complete symphony of rich colours, finally no more grey.
"Unfortunately, Magnus' joining us is bitter-sweet. As you all know, Klaus was lost to us as the Angel Children claimed the Seventh District," Dorian stated, jaw tightening and black eyes burning with barely suppressed rage. All present bowed their heads, the news old but no less agonizing for it.
Magnus' hands clenched into fists beneath the table. Although he had not exactly gotten along with Klaus, the man too stiff and boringly stoic, he had still been a fellow Warlock, and he had been felled by those monsters, the Shadowhunters.
"With that, the Angel Children have gained control of Districts Two, Three and Seven. They're encroaching upon the Ninth, so Ellis, have your men on alert until further instruction. They could attack at any moment. We cannot allow them any more victories. They've begun to allow the Mundanes access to the districts they have stolen from us." Dorian's voice was thick with disgust at the mere thought of the Mundanes contaminating what had previously been their land, and that disgust was shared by every person in the room.
There was more talk of land, battles to keep it and reclaim it, and Magnus couldn't help tuning out. Fascinating as it all was, it had very little to do with him. As of that day, his only concern was with the Fourth District, his District. The Shadowhunters would not be getting that one.
The meeting eventually drew to a welcome close, Magnus out of the room as fast as possible. Boring, boring, boring. If there was one thing he hadn't expected, it was that this war could be so mind-numbingly uninteresting. He was sure that was a contradiction.
Well, he'd rather be bored in luxury than overwhelmed in poverty.
"Honey, I'm home," Magnus called as he stepped out of the portal into his living room, cleaning himself of the sticky residue with a flick of his wrist. No sooner had the words left his mouth than a blur of white rocketed into the room, claws extended, teeth bared. It launched itself at his boots, attacking with a fury that could challenge the hounds of hell.
"Not the boots!" he admonished, bending down to scoop up the ravenous fluffball and raising it up to look him in the eye, "I don't see why you've got your panties in such a twist. There's plenty of food in your bowl."
Magnus' hand flicked behind his back.
If it were possible for a cat to look scathing, Chairman Meow mastered it in that moment. I saw that.
With a sigh, Magnus dropped onto the couch, still making the act look graceful despite his exhaustion. Portal or not, the trip from the Fourth District to the First was ridiculous, not so much long as it was thick. Like trying to tread water while wearing jeans.
He cuddled Chairman Meow to his chest, apparently forgiven for the inadvertent starving, the cat nestling closer.
He really wasn't looking forward to tomorrow. He was still debating not going to Klaus' funeral at all. Surely it would be awkward, trying to act genuinely devastated over his predecessor when it was fairly obvious to everyone that there had been no love lost between them, the only thing Magnus liked about the man being the job he'd now taken for himself.
"I suppose if I don't go I'll just look petty, and that's so unattractive," he murmured, running a finger along Chairman Meow's back. He purred his appreciation.
They sat like that for what could have been minutes, could have been hours, and Magnus was slowly nodding off. Then that almighty shrieking came. The cat heard it before him and it was the claws stabbing into his stomach that pulled him from that half-there-half-not stupor. He didn't have the chance to wonder what had alarmed the cat before it came. An ear-piercing wail, resonating from the speaker embedded in the wall, the warning siren.
Magnus leapt to his feet, Chairman Meow falling from his chest and scurrying under the couch to try and escape the awful noise.
"Shadowhunters." The word was a hiss, the yellow of his eyes overpowering the green as his power flared, the pupils narrowing into slits. He was out the door in a flash, stalking down the hall. It wasn't long before Raphael was at his side, keeping up with Magnus' long strides despite the difference in heights.
"They entered through the Western Gate – four or five of them, I'd say – judging from the sloppiness they can't be too experienced." Despite the situation, Raphael remained as impeccably calm as always, and it helped calm Magnus too.
"There's no need to mobilize just yet. Only attack if they attack; we can't be seen to be the instigators," Magnus ordered, "If they're as inexperienced as you say, they're only here to search. Either way, tread lightly–"
Raphael slowed to a stop. Magnus instinctively did the same, looking at his Commander in question.
"With all due respect," his tone spoke of anything but, "I must insist that you return to your room, General. The timing of this trespass makes clear their intentions – they're here to test the weak link."
"A weak link, am I?"
Raphael smirked, "They no doubt believe you are. Like you said, there's no need to mobilize, General. We can more than handle them. Besides, if they really are here to search, what's the first place they're going to look?"
Magnus was already half way back down the hall before Raphael had finished speaking. As loathe as he was to do as the facetious little bastard said, he did have a point.
A point proven correct, as Magnus slipped back inside his room to see a back turned to him, the intruder leafing through the papers on his desk like they had all the time in the world. He wasted no time, flexing his fingers and feeling the familiar thrum of energy pass through them. Without a word, he lifted his arm and flung a spell at the intruder's turned back, a ball of crackling electricity. The blaze of blue soared towards its target, the aim precise, and –
And hit the desk. The spell collided with the wood with a sizzle, leaving a gaping and singeing hole through the surface. A hole that should have been in the intruder's chest.
Magnus moved swiftly aside, the Shadowhunter's blade cutting through the air instead. The boy was quick, Magnus had to give him that, but he wasn't too slow himself. Within minutes, the air was smouldering as spells left his fingertips. Papers caught in the crossfire burned, books and glasses fell from shelves, the curtains were left in tatters as the Shadowhunter missed his mark.
It wasn't just the boy who couldn't land a hit, however. Now, Magnus wasn't particularly cocky – modesty was always good to have in your arsenal – but that wasn't to say he wasn't aware what a fantastic fighter he was. Not just anyone got appointed General, after all. He was exceptional, not a boast, simply a fact.
But damn it all if the boy wasn't putting him through his paces.
Every spell Magnus launched at him, the boy dodged. Every sly elbow Magnus tried to dig him with, the boy grabbed and knocked him off balance. Magnus even tried the usual baiting, Shadowhunters were recklessly proud after all, but no amount of insults to his Angelic prowess seemed to work. If he didn't have a reputation to uphold, Magnus would have gone for hair-pulling.
The fight crawled on with no sign of either of them gaining the upper-hand, only exhausting each other more and more. Soon, they were both panting, hair plastered to their faces and sweating like a paedophile in a playground.
Truth be told, Magnus was not so much annoyed as he was exhilarated. He should have been worried, the boy was just as likely to win this as he was, but he couldn't help it – this was fun. When was the last time he'd had a real fight? He'd been dithering about in the lower leagues for so long, playing errand boy and licking boots. When was the last time he'd actually been challenged, had to try and just barely scrape by each assault? He genuinely could not remember.
The fun wasn't destined to last, however. Magnus could feel his energy depleting, each spell lacking that spark a little more than the last, and the Shadowhunter was clearly exhausted too, breaths coming in sharp pants, his footwork getting clumsy and his lunges missing by more each time. They were at a stalemate, even getting weaker at the same rate, and Magnus wasn't sure how much more magic he could summon.
He needn't have worried. Rather than magic coming to his aide, his saviour came in the form of a blur of white launching itself at the Shadowhunter's face.
The boy had been so focused on Magnus that he hadn't registered the incoming attack at all, stumbling to the floor with a muffled yelp, his blade cluttering to the ground. Chairman Meow let out his fiercest battle cry, something along the lines of the sound you make when you stub your toe, and released a flurry of claws on his victim's face.
Magnus couldn't have asked for a more perfect opportunity. His opponent was on his back on the ground, his weapon just out of reach, exhausted and completely distracted by the thing mauling his face. It wouldn't even need to be a particularly powerful spell at this point. Hell, he could just put the boy to sleep and give him over to Dorian, a convenient little prisoner and fair payment for Klaus' murder.
The air crackled around Magnus' clenched hand, and –
And he just couldn't help it. He burst into laughter, slumping down to the floor, literally holding his stomach as the gasps had him bent double. He tried to stop, he really did, but for fuck's sake, an Angel Child was defeated by a goddamn kitten. If you couldn't laugh at that, there was just no hope for you.
He'd almost composed himself when he made the mistake of looking back up. The boy had dragged Chairman Meow off his face now, was holding the wriggling furball at arms length, his bright blue eyes looking at it like he'd never seen the likes before. The priceless expression coupled with the abundance of scratches littering his face set Magnus off again.
The boy's lips curled into an embarrassed grimace before he gave a snort of laughter too, shaking his head ruefully.
The laughter died down after a few minutes, but neither of them moved to resume their fight. It was plainly obvious to both that they were in no fit state to continue. Instead they just sat on the floor, catching their breaths and, in the boy's case, prodding at the angry red scratches.
The boy looked up and met Magnus' eyes, gave a little shrug and said, "Truce?"
Magnus couldn't even be bothered to sit up, "Truce," and because he couldn't help himself, "Looking for anything in particular while rooting through my delicates?"
The boy's cheeks blazed a red to match the cuts, "W-What? I was no where near those! I was only on your desk!"
Magnus chuckled again. "Relax, darling, I didn't mean literally... though, guilty conscience, perhaps?"
If possible, he turned an even brighter shade of red. Tomatoes would have been jealous. He was spared from answering when Chairman Meow got tired of being manhandled and sunk his teeth into the boy's hand. With a yelp, the boy released the cat, who scurried over to Magnus.
Shaking his injured hand as though trying to swat away an annoying fly, he glanced warily at the cat cuddling into Magnus' chest, "Good bodyguard you've got there."
Magnus grinned down at his impromptu protector, scratching that little spot behind his ear that made him purr like a revving engine.
"Don't like strangers, do you, babe?" He looked up at the Shadowhunter, still grinning lazily, "He gets jealous, y'see."
Magnus wasn't entirely sure why he was making small talk with the Shadowhunter. Sure, they were too shattered to try killing each other again, but that didn't mean they had to share pleasantries. It was bizarre how oddly comfortable the whole thing was. You'd think it'd be kind of awkward, chatting to the person who broke into your bedroom and tried to kill you. Hell, Magnus was a Downworlder. Awkward was the least of his concerns when associating with a Shadowhunter. But it wasn't, really. It hardly felt like he was talking to a Shadowhunter at all, the boy too easily-flustered, lacking the arrogance his kind usually carried, not looking at Magnus like he was an insect crawling across the boy's freshly cleaned floor, as was the norm.
Maybe that was the reason he asked, when the boy staggered to his feet shortly after and made for the window, "Hey. What's your name?"
And maybe the boy felt at least a little like Magnus had, because why else would he have answered, "Alexander Lightwood."