Pride Goeth

Disclaimer: The Mortal Instruments series belongs to Cassandra Clare, who, I might add, is evil.

Warnings: Nothing, really. Illness? You ought to expect that from me, though.

Notes: I intended this to be cute and fluffy, in order to counteract the horrible, horrible things that happen in CoLS (yeah, I read all the spoilers). I'm not sure how well that actually worked out, but it's cute and fluffy in some places, at least. xD

I apologize if there's any real crap in here - I started on Friday afternoon and nearly killed myself to get it finished before CoLS's release date (which England totally ignored. If you're English and read it already, I hope this helps your pain). I may go back and edit at some point, I may not. Try to enjoy it anyway.

"Next time you decide to bleed to death in my kitchen and you don't invite me, I'm going to burn your sketchbook."

Alec raised his head a fraction of an inch and squinted at the blurry figure crouched next to his legs. The room was dusky and shadowed, it being too early for the sun to rise, but he recognized the voice and the bright blue sparks leaping from finger to finger and the cloud of dark spikes silhouetted against the white fridge. "You –" The words stuck in his dry throat and he licked his lips, trying to draw some moisture into his mouth. "You will not."

"No, I won't," Magnus admitted. "I was just trying to get your attention. You weren't responding to anything I said."

Holding his head up was becoming too much of an effort, so Alec let it drop back against the tile. His entire body felt strange, like his muscles were water and his skin was ice, and none of it seemed to be his. Not an out-of-body experience, exactly, but close. He watched the blades on the ceiling fan spin in lazy circles for a moment, then wondered, "Why am I on the floor?"

"I was asleep, but I assume you collapsed. Because you're bleeding to death. In case you missed that part."

"Oh," Alec said. That sounded logical enough. It wasn't something he thought he'd do, but he couldn't tie his scattered thoughts into a coherent knot, so he didn't argue. How had he ended up in Magnus's kitchen, anyway? The last thing he could properly recall was Isabelle trying to beat Jace into a pulp using a plush Dalmatian. He didn't know where it came from – she'd gotten rid of most of her stuffed animals before she was eight. Before that, she had mostly used them to play 'Demon Attack' (during which they would inevitably become the victims of a gruesome demise) or would steal all of Alec's red paint to make them look like they'd been mauled. They'd had a lot of arguments over that, and she'd never replaced any of it –

A sudden, piercing pain arced across his cheekbone and the bridge of his nose. Alec jerked instinctively, eyes snapping open – when had he closed them? – just in time to see Magnus's hand move away, his fingers lit up like glowsticks. "Stay conscious!" Magnus demanded.

"Did you just shock me?" Alec said incredulously, trying to blink away the fireworks bursting in front of his eyes.

"Yes. I don't slap people, it's undignified. Stay awake."

"I am awake," Alec grumbled, then hissed as Magnus pressed his palm against his right thigh and the quiet ache he hadn't really noticed escalated straight up to a roar. "Ow, why are you groping me?"

"You're bleeding from the femoral artery," Magnus said impatiently, tightening his grip around what Alec now realized was probably a rather severe wound.

"Oh," Alec said again. He wished his brain was a little less murky. "I think I tried to fix that…" He had a vague recollection of drawing an iratze on his leg and finding it difficult since his hands were shaking. "It didn't work very well. I'm so dizzy."

"I know, darling. Try to stay awake. Tell me what happened."

That was a relatively gargantuan request, considering Alec couldn't stay on one train of thought for very long, but he gave it a shot anyway. Though thinking was difficult, it distracted him from the unsettling feeling of veins and muscles and skin gradually knitting back together beneath Magnus's hand. "There was a demon," he said. He remembered claws as long as his forearm, curved like scimitars, ripping through the flesh of his thigh like it was paper.

"You took it on by yourself?"

"I didn't have a choice, I was alone." He still had several large gaps in his memory, but now he could recall making the typically uneventful trip between the subway station and Magnus's apartment and getting jumped halfway there. "It doesn't matter, I killed it and came here and… I don't remember anything else."

"You walked here with a half-healed arterial bleed," Magnus deadpanned. "Why didn't you call me?"

"I was two blocks away," Alec protested. "I'm not an idiot."

"Exactly. You're too smart to be this dumb." Magnus took his bloodied hand away from Alec's leg and spun around on his knees, bending over so Alec could see nothing but his face. "You're about four pints shallow," he continued, more gently now. "I'll be back in a minute. Lay still, do you hear me? If I come back and you've moved even half an inch in any direction, I will kill you."

"After all that work?"

"After all that work," Magnus confirmed. "And don't pass out, either." His fingertips ghosted across Alec's forehead, and then he stood and swiftly left the kitchen. Alec waited until the vibrations from his footsteps faded away to close his eyes.

The first words out of Magnus's mouth upon his speedy return were unsuitable for mixed company, and before Alec could even open his mouth to reassure him, the warlock was on his knees next to him. "I'm conscious," he said quickly. "Please don't shock me again."

Magnus sighed. "Don't do that to me."

"Sorry. Watching the room move was making me sick."

There was a soft clink of glass against the tiled floor. "Listen, I'm going to prop your head up, all right? You need to drink this, you've lost far too much blood." Magnus slid an arm under Alec's shoulders and eased him up just enough to scoot over and settle him back down in his lap. Alec didn't resist, too tired to even open his eyes. Besides, he was terribly thirsty. Something cool pressed against his lips. "Drink."

Alec did so and promptly regretted it. Whatever was in the glass had a strange, spicy scent that wasn't unappealing, but the liquid itself was nauseatingly viscous and tasted horrid. One sip in, he had to turn his head away and quash the urge to gag before he could swallow. "That is disgusting," he choked.

"It's not that bad. You've had it before, anyway. Just drink it, it'll replenish your blood supply."

"I don't remember it being this disgusting," Alec muttered. Last time, he'd been able to take it without nearly retching, and it hadn't been like drinking half-solid Jell-O. The Angel only knew what Magnus actually put in it – warlocks used some of the most bizarre materials in their concoctions. He forced it down nevertheless.

Magnus set the empty glass aside and ran a hand through Alec's hair, leaning in to lightly kiss his cheek. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

"I think I'd throw up if it wouldn't take so much energy."

"Drama queen."

Alec scoffed weakly. "Look who's talking."

They stayed there on the kitchen floor for a while, Magnus stroking Alec's hair, Alec dozing. He eventually came back around to find that the sky outside had lightened significantly and the first rays of sunlight were spilling across the small table in front of the window. The cloying, overwhelming odor of copper hung in the room. "Am I covered in blood?"

"Hm?" Magnus sounded like he'd just woken up himself. "Yes, you are. You ought to shower, if you feel up to it – it's been almost an hour."

"Yeah, all right…." It took a bit of doing, but Alec managed to get to his feet and down the hall without wobbling too much. He took a thirty-second shower wherein he just stood still, one hand braced against the wall, letting the water wash the congealed blood away. Five minutes from the time he'd gotten up, he all but threw himself onto the bed and gathered the blankets to him as if they were more precious than gold. "I'm freezing," he explained when Magnus remarked on it.

"Blood loss," the warlock diagnosed, climbing in next to him and drawing the curtains closed with a mere flick of his finger.

"I know. I'm not stupid."

"God, you're cranky. Go to sleep."

Alec swatted him on the arm but curled into his embrace anyway. "Thank you," he murmured.

"You're welcome," Magnus replied, and then he started stroking Alec's hair again and Alec was out.

He had thought, perhaps naïvely, since he'd gotten his leg healed and drank Magnus's vile blood-replenishing potion, he would feel better after five or six hours of sleep. He woke and discovered he'd been wrong.

Magnus's side of the bed was empty except for the clothes Alec had been wearing yesterday, which were now free of blood. Alec wriggled out of his cocoon, sat up, and took his cell phone from the pocket of his jeans. Every single one of his muscles seemed to have frozen overnight, making it difficult and uncomfortable to move. The headache was just the cherry on the sundae. "How do I actually feel worse than I did earlier?" he complained to the cat snuggled into the gap between his and Magnus's pillows. Chairman Meow barely twitched an ear. "You're no help." He tugged on his jeans, forgoing his t-shirt in favor of a sweater, which was soft and warm against his skin. Tempted though he was to curl back up in bed and drift around in dreams for the rest of the day, it was 11:01 a.m., according to his phone, and his sleep schedule was messed up enough already.

Everything outside the bedroom smelled like coffee. Alec wrinkled his nose and padded down the hall. Normally, he loved coffee and drank far more of it than was healthy (he had a bit of a caffeine dependency), but today, the bitter scent was turning his stomach.

The kitchen floor had been cleaned, the puddle of cool, tacky blood he remembered lying in now just a memory. Magnus was seated at the table with a steaming mug in one hand and a half-unfurled scroll in the other, which he was staring at with an expression of deep concentration. "Good morning," he said distractedly.

"Morning." Alec bypassed the coffee in search of something that was less likely to make a return trip. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and sat across the table from Magnus, careful to avoid the scroll, which looked important even though the writing on it could have been Babylonian for all he knew. "What are you reading?"

"Yes," Magnus mumbled, brow furrowing.

"Okay." Talking to him right now would clearly be pointless. Alec moved a few pencils and a plate of toast out of the way to make room for his glass and picked up his sketchbook, which had been lying there for hours, easily accessed by vengeful warlocks. He flipped through it, but couldn't find any burn marks.

When he looked up again, Magnus was watching him over the top of the scroll, eyes bright with amusement. "I did tell you I wasn't actually going to set it on fire, didn't I?"

"I don't trust you," Alec said, which was blatantly untrue, but Magnus had a slightly alarming sense of humor sometimes.

"I said I was just trying to get your attention. You were conscious, but you wouldn't react to anything, and it was worrying me." Magnus gave the scroll another once-over, then sighed and started rerolling it. "Speaking of, are you feeling better?"

"I don't feel like passing out anymore."

"I suppose that constitutes 'better'." After draining the last of his coffee, Magnus eyed the plate of toast and pulled it closer. "There's more coffee in the pot, if you want some."

"I don't." Alec didn't even really want his juice, so he had no idea why he'd poured it. "But thanks."

Magnus's eyebrows disappeared into his hair, which hadn't yet been styled and was currently just a wild tangle speckled with glitter. He knew perfectly well that Alec had never turned down coffee in his life. "Are you sure you're all right?" he asked.

Alec shrugged. "I don't know," he said, propping his chin up on his hand and running a finger through the condensation on the window.

Magnus reached over and touched the back of his hand to Alec's forehead. "You're a little warm," he said. "Maybe you're coming down with something."

"Maybe your disgusting blood-replenishing drink poisoned me."

"I doubt that."

"I don't. That was the worst thing I've ever tasted, and I've eaten Izzy's cooking."

"Oh, let it go, Alec, it was a necessary evil." Magnus bit into a piece of toast and grimaced. "Why is this cold?"

"I think it was sitting there for a while," Alec said, closing his eyes. His headache was getting worse. He rubbed the bridge of his nose in an attempt to deaden the pain and added, "What were you reading?"

"That's a good question. 'Superstitious gibberish' would be my best bet. It made a lot more sense the other day."

"Were you drunk the other day?" Alec said shrewdly.

"Incidentally, I was…." Magnus mused. Alec jumped as suddenly Magnus's cool fingers were on his forehead again. "Hold still." The chill spread from his fingertips over Alec's entire face, which was quite an odd sensation, but it numbed the ache. When Magnus broke the contact an instant later, the throbbing in his head had dulled considerably.

"Thanks," he said, blinking the blur from his eyes. Magic always did weird things to his vision.

"Don't mention it. Watching you was giving me a headache." Magnus returned his attention to his breakfast, twirling a finger in a circle over the plate until the toast began emitting a thin haze of steam. "You can go back to bed, if you want."

"I'm not that tired… well, I am, but I really need to stop sleeping from seven a.m. to two in the afternoon. I'll stay up."

"Suit yourself," Magnus said. "And stop stealing my toast."

Alec just smiled innocently and crunched into the only piece that wasn't burnt around the edges.

Once the toast was demolished and the cat was fed, Magnus took his indecipherable scroll and disappeared into his 'workroom', the one place in the apartment that was more dangerous than his closet. It was a small, dusty room at the very end of the hallway, full of shelves that were crammed to the gills with old books and jars of unidentifiable, gross-looking things, some of which he'd put in the potion Alec had drank earlier. Alec didn't go in there very much unless he really needed something new to read or he smelled smoke. Everything was quiet down at that end of the apartment, though, so he stayed at the kitchen table and drew aimlessly for a while, occasionally fending off a playful cat. But all too soon his head started to hurt again and he had to rest it on his arm to ease the ache in his neck, and from there he didn't even realize he'd fallen asleep until he woke to Magnus shaking his shoulder.

"You need to be in bed," the warlock said, plucking the colored pencil from Alec's fingers.


"No buts. Up you get, or I'll shock you again."

"If you ever do that and I'm not dying, I will end you," Alec said, but he got up anyway and allowed Magnus to half-lead, half-drag him back to the bedroom and pour him onto the mattress. He then burrowed deep into the cave of blankets, where he was immediately joined by Chairman Meow.

"Well, don't you two look cozy." Magnus perched on the edge of the bed and started lacing up his shoes. "I have to go out for a bit and earn my keep – will you be okay?"

"Yeah," Alec yawned. Chairman Meow climbed on top of his stomach and settled there, contentedly kneading Alec's sweater. "I'm just going to sleep."

"All right. I might get dinner on the way back – I want Italian and I'm too –"

"– lazy to cook," Alec finished automatically. Magnus was actually a pretty good chef when he put his mind to it, but most of the time he couldn't be bothered. As he'd pointed out, though, Alec didn't even have to put his mind to it – his mother had drilled pretty much everything she knew into him, probably in the hopes that at least one of her children would be able to fend for themselves. He suspected she secretly regretted not using some of that time to teach Isabelle that there were some combinations of ingredients which just did not work, ever. So Alec ended up doing a lot of the cooking, which he didn't mind, because he enjoyed it when there wasn't anybody at his elbow insisting she be allowed to 'help'.

Magnus grinned. "You can read me like a book." He tucked the covers snugly around Alec and lovingly brushed a hand over his hair. "Call if you need me."

"I will." He closed his eyes and listened to the floorboards creak, the soft rustle of fabric as Magnus rummaged through the closet, and lastly, the sound of the front door closing.

He did his best to get some rest, but now that he was warm and comfortable, sleep eluded him. His headache had returned with reinforcements. As Magnus was a warlock who could cure his own ills with a snap of his fingers, he didn't keep normal things like aspirin in the house, so there was nothing Alec could do about that. He tossed and turned so much over the next few hours that Chairman Meow left in a huff, sick of being thrown about like a dinghy in a storm.

And, of course, when he finally began to doze off, something shattered.

Cursing under his breath, Alec shoved the blankets away and got up to make sure the cat hadn't killed himself. The door to Magnus's workroom, which was usually kept closed for this exact reason, was slightly ajar. He pushed it open to find Chairman Meow snuffling around a pile of funny-looking brown roots and quite a few shards of glass. "Get away from that, you're going to cut yourself." There was a row of jars, each labeled in Magnus's thin, spidery handwriting and filled with things Alec couldn't identify, along the edge of the desk, and a noticeable gap where the broken one had obviously resided. "Don't eat it, stupid, it might turn you purple, or into an elephant or something." He scooped Chairman Meow up before he could chow down on one of the roots and backed out of the room, making sure the door shut properly. Magnus could deal with the broken glass later.

He couldn't even start to fall asleep after that, so he sprawled out on the bed, watched the sun set over the water, and felt increasingly dreadful until Magnus came home around six o'clock. He'd brought dinner. He'd also brought a terrible mood.

"I guess it didn't go well?" Alec mumbled into the pillow.

"That," Magnus said, slamming the closet door much harder than was necessary, "is an understatement. Why does the hallway smell like witchroot?"

"I don't know." Alec wasn't even sure what witchroot was. He had a fuzzy memory of Hodge mentioning it years ago, but he either hadn't gone into detail or Alec had slept through that lesson. "But you didn't close the door to your workroom, I think, because the cat got in and broke a jar."

Magnus swore and stormed out of the room. Alec blearily watched him go and decided this was a good time to continue wallowing in his misery. And he did, for nearly half an hour before Magnus poked his head in and said, "I'm heating up dinner. Do you want any?"

"Um… probably." His stomach was empty and uneasy, but he hadn't eaten anything besides a piece of toast today, so he figured he'd risk it. "Yeah. I'll be there in a minute."

When he dragged himself back to the kitchen, he was immediately overcome with a sense of déjà vu – Magnus was sitting at the table once again, with the same scroll he'd been reading that morning, except now he glared at it like he was thinking of introducing it to a lighter. "You look worse than you did before," he said as Alec sat down.

"I bet." He didn't feel like talking and Magnus didn't seem to either, so Alec stuck his fork into his rigatoni and tried to eat. It was unusually difficult – the smell was unappetizing, everything tasted slightly off, and actually swallowing was a mountainous task. He gave up a third of the way into the meal when his stomach threatened to mutiny and leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes.

"Not hungry?"

Alec shook his head. "No. Sorry."

"It's fine. You really don't look well. That shade of white does not work on you." Magnus stabbed a noodle, scrutinized it, and popped it into his mouth. He had a weird habit of inspecting his food, like he thought it might do a trick if he looked closely enough. "You haven't been around anyone who's sick, have you?"

"I don't think so," Alec said, although he couldn't be sure. Jace in particular was the type to deny all accusations of illness right up until he was taken off life support. "I'm still not entirely convinced you didn't poison me this morning."

It was the wrong thing to say, especially considering the sort of temper Magnus was in. He stiffened, lips thinning, and said tightly, "Look, I can concoct a blood-replenishing potion in my sleep. I'll swear on anything you'd like that I didn't poison it."

Normally, Alec would have pointed out that he was joking, that he didn't think Magnus would ever intentionally harm him, but he felt feverish and nauseated and not really in a good mood himself. "How would you even know? Everything in your workroom looks exactly the same, you could have made it wrong."

"I didn't. And they don't all look the same, the differences are just subtle," Magnus insisted, maddeningly condescending.

"Right, because you always do everything right," Alec snapped. Magnus opened his mouth, but Alec cut him off, standing up and shoving in his chair with a bang. "And stop doing that!"

Derailed, Magnus blinked at him. "Doing what?"

"You don't have to talk down to me. Just because I don't have a few hundred years of experience doesn't make me a moron!"

"I wasn't –"

"You were, and you always do it, and you're so damn arrogant about it. You're always right, and I'm always wrong. Sometimes I wish you'd screw up just so you could be wrong for once!"

Magnus was staring. Alec scowled back, breathing deeply, clutching the back of the chair because he was so lightheaded he thought he'd fall if he let go. He wanted to keep yelling – it was nice to be listened to on occasion – but the bile rising in his throat was choking him. Instead, he concluded, "I'm going to be sick," and stumbled out of the room.

He barely made it to the bathroom before his dinner violently reappeared. When his stomach was empty, he drew his legs up and pressed his face into his knees, shivering despite the sweat beading his forehead. "All right," he muttered, "this sucks."

"I agree." Magnus had turned up, and Alec wasn't sure if that made things better or worse. Magnus seated himself behind him on the chilly tile and wrapped his arms around Alec's ribs. "Are you okay?"

"I'll survive."

"You always do." He rested his chin on Alec's shoulder and was silent for a long moment. "I'm sorry."

Alec shrugged and said, "It doesn't matter." He felt a little bad for blowing up like that – the way he bottled everything up until he exploded was not only unhealthy, but also the reason he couldn't have calm, levelheaded arguments with anyone.

"It does," Magnus persisted. "I am horribly condescending sometimes, and I shouldn't be. I just deal with a disproportionate number of idiots in my line of work, most of whom I have to talk down to, and I forget I don't have to do that with you."

Sighing, Alec leaned his head against Magnus's and closed his eyes. "It's annoying. But I still shouldn't have shouted at you."

"You're sick and I was being an asshole. I'm willing to let it go." Magnus gently unstuck Alec's sweaty hair from his face and asked, "Did you sleep at all while I was gone?"

"Not really… I almost did, but then Chairman Meow started destroying the house."

"I swear I'm going to turn him into a throw pillow."

That was funny, so Alec put in the effort to laugh, even though it made his stomach roil. "Jace used to say the same thing about my cat."

"Alec, given everything I've heard about your cat, I don't think she was actually a cat at all. I think she was a demon pretending. And you're starting to list," he said, nudging Alec upright before he fell over. "Do you want to go lay down?"

"Sure…." The room swam as he climbed to his feet, swaying drunkenly, but he didn't feel quite nauseous enough to vomit again, so he went back to bed. "You're still arrogant, though," he remembered to add as he crashed onto the mattress.

"I most certainly am not," Magnus said, layering half a dozen blankets over Alec, who continued to shiver but appreciated it all the same. "I am being absolutely modest when I say I am one-hundred-percent perfect. Do you need anything else?"

"No," Alec murmured, "unless you're willing to sit here and read to me." He liked being read to, although it didn't happen too often nowadays – he remembered both of his parents reading to him when he was very little, and then Hodge doing the same after they'd moved and everyone else was too busy. He'd figured it out himself around that point and had tried to read to Isabelle, but she never sat still long enough. Max had liked it. Thinking about Max was still too painful, so he pushed that train of thought off the tracks.

"Hellooo…." Magnus prodded his shoulder.

"What?" Alec said. "Sorry, I wasn't listening."

"I said, I can do that. Any requests?"

"Anything. I don't care. I'll probably fall asleep anyway."

"Something boring, then." Alec blinked and Magnus was suddenly holding a heavy old book that sent up a puff of dust when he opened it. The warlock settled against the wall, Alec rolled onto his stomach and threw an arm across Magnus's waist, and Magnus started reading.

He slept, at long last. Not a lot, not even enough to make him feel refreshed, but slipping in and out of consciousness while Magnus extolled the virtues of some Grecian witch he'd never heard of was better than nothing, and he actually started to feel a bit better. Unsurprisingly, that was too good to be true, and he jerked awake at about eleven o'clock and threw up in Magnus's lap without any warning.

"Lovely," was Magnus's response. "Thank you for sharing that with me."

By midnight, even the High Warlock of Sarcasm had stopped making clever remarks, since Alec was no longer in a position to appreciate them – he was huddled miserably on the cold bathroom floor, wondering how he could still be vomiting when he had absolutely nothing left inside of him. Magnus was trying to divert Alec's attention from his rebelling body by telling a long, convoluted story about a voodoo priestess in Baton Rouge that Alec suspected was made up on the spot. It didn't really seem to have a plot, and Magnus kept forgetting who he'd already killed off, but Alec was grateful nevertheless.

He stopped throwing up a little while after two a.m.. The nausea was immediately replaced by such excruciating stomach pains that he could do nothing more than scrunch into a little ball on the mattress and struggle for every breath and bite his lip until it bled so he wouldn't scream. He barely heard it when Magnus whispered, "God, Alec, you don't do anything by halves, do you?" Magnus had curled himself tightly around Alec and had been stroking his hair for over an hour, and usually that put Alec right to sleep but tonight it was useless. He felt like he was being ripped open from the inside out. At some point, he sank his teeth into the flesh at the base of his thumb just to distract himself, ignored Magnus telling him not to do that, and wished he could die.

Around five, he either fell asleep or just lost consciousness. Whichever it was, it helped, and when he woke a little later he was no longer praying for death.

The sky outside was concrete-gray and a fine mist enveloped Manhattan like a burial shroud. Alec watched a boat glide down the river through half-lidded eyes, entirely unwilling to move. He felt like he'd gone ten rounds with a Greater Demon and lost every one, but the pain in his stomach had faded to an uncomfortable yet mostly ignorable burn. That, he could live with. He turned over and came face to face with Magnus, who looked pale and drawn and was sound asleep, obviously worn out from staying awake with him for most of the night. Alec thought he had never loved him quite so much. He pulled the blanket up to cover Magnus's shoulders and slowly sat up. Everything still ached, he was dizzy and queasy and running a fever, but he got to the bathroom and back without falling on his face, which he considered a personal victory. Maybe he was past the worst of this.

"Alec, 's that you?" Magnus slurred as Alec clambered over him.

"No, it's the monster in the closet," Alec yawned.

"Mmm. You all right?"

"I'm passable." The blankets hadn't yet cooled off when he snuggled into them. "Did I ask you to eviscerate me last night?"

"Frequently. Around the eighth time, you told me you hated me when I said no."


Magnus grunted, turned his head the other way, and was asleep again in seconds. Alec picked up his phone and found a text message from his mother requesting that he make an appearance in the Institute before she had to go back to Alicante. He got that a lot – she seemed determined to guilt him into spending more time at home when she was around, because when she wasn't, he practically lived at Magnus's. He hadn't missed the fact that he was the only one of his siblings to receive this treatment, either, but Clary was almost always in the Institute these days and Simon couldn't actually come inside, so there was only so much she could do to Jace and Isabelle.

It was too early to even think about leaving. He stayed in bed and read while he waited for Magnus to wake up again. After about two hours, he dozed off himself, because Magnus apparently wasn't inclined to come around anytime soon.

All of a sudden, someone was whispering, "Hey," and he clawed his way back to consciousness to see a pair of green-gold eyes just inches away from his own.

"Hey yourself," Alec rasped, wincing as his throat burned. Stomach acid was not good for the esophagus. "What time is it?"

"Almost eleven. So much for normal sleeping hours, huh?" Alec managed a smile and Magnus kissed his hair. "You look terrible."

"Wow, that's romantic."

"It's true. But I love you anyway. See, I'm not just dating you for your looks." Magnus rolled onto his back and raked his hair off his face. "Dear Lord, I need a shower. And food. I don't suppose you're hungry."

Alec grimaced. "I'm not entirely sure I'll ever eat again, to be honest."

Magnus showered and ate, and Alec dry-heaved a few million times, but considering last night, it was like getting a mosquito bite after an amputation. He successfully caught another half-hour of sleep and woke to Magnus rubbing his back and talking very quietly into the phone. "Yes, and it can wait. …Then hire somebody else, I'm busy."

Alec waited until he'd ended the call to say, "Do you have somewhere else you need to be?"

"It's not important," Magnus said, running his hand up Alec's spine and twisting his fingers into his hair. Alec let him, for a moment, then sat up.

"My mother wants me home tonight. I could go back and you could… do whatever it is you're supposed to do."

"It's really not that important."

"Fine, then don't, but if I don't go home, my mom is going to kill me, and probably you for good measure." That wasn't entirely true – she'd leave him alone if he told her he was sick – but Magnus didn't need to know that.

"I look forward to the day when you can't threaten me with your mother anymore."

Alec raised his eyebrows. "Are you telling me that you're hoping she dies soon?"

Magnus opened his mouth, closed it, and shook his head. "That didn't come out quite the way I intended it to," he said. "Look, I'm not going to keep you here, but I don't know if you should really be up. I can't imagine you've forgotten that you were extremely ill earlier."

"I feel better now."

"'Better' is a subjective term." Magnus took Alec's hand and turned it so Alec could see the purple bruise circling the set of dark red teeth marks below his thumb. Then he touched Alec's lower lip where he'd nearly bitten though it. "That was terrifying, I'll have you know."

"I'm sorry," Alec said. "I'm just going to go straight home, all right? I'll even text you when I get there. And then I'll probably just sleep for the rest of the day."

"I'm not going to stop you," Magnus said. It couldn't be called explicit permission, but since Alec wasn't actually looking for permission, he carefully stood and wobbled into the bathroom to brush his teeth anyway. He emerged to see Magnus pulling on a jacket and wandered over to hug him.

"I'll be fine," he promised. "Relax. You're acting like my mother, and… I don't want to date my mother."

"Ouch. Right through the heart." Magnus wrapped his arms around him and touched his lips to the top of his head, then caught Alec's chin and angled his face upward to look him in the eyes. "Do something for me, will you?"

"What?" Alec asked warily. The last time those words had left Magnus's mouth… well, there had been handcuffs involved.

"Take a cab. I don't want you to pass out on the subway and get mugged or something."

"Magnus," Alec said, "I've gotten mugged once, when I was fourteen, and I broke the guy's fingers." Jace had been very proud of him for that. He'd never been mugged, of course, and neither had Isabelle – the two of them usually gave off an aura of 'fuck with me and I'll use your spine as a jump rope', so nobody ever bothered them. On the other hand, everyone always seemed very surprised to discover that Alec wasn't weak and vulnerable. It had driven him mad when he was younger, but eventually he'd come to realize that the ability to be consistently underestimated by his enemies was possibly the best weapon he could ever have. "And I'm not going to pass out on the subway."

"Get a cab anyway. It'll give me some peace of mind."

"I think you've lost a piece of your mind," Alec muttered, but he agreed to catch a taxi. Besides, cars made him less nauseous than the subway did.

They parted in front of the apartment, since Magnus had to go to Queens to pick up whatever job he'd originally turned down, and Alec took a cab into Manhattan. He watched the scenery flash by through unfocused eyes and, halfway home, thought that maybe he should've stayed at Magnus's instead. He was starting to feel very unwell again. And when they reached the Institute and he dug out his phone to let Magnus know he was home safe, he noticed something new – there were pale reddish blotches on his hands. "Oh, that's wonderful," he mumbled, paying the driver and climbing out. He didn't know what it was, but since it didn't itch or hurt he just pulled his sleeves down over his fingers to warm them and made his way to the elevator.

It was very quiet upstairs. Walking down the hallway proved to be a bit treacherous, since the floor was pitching and rolling like the deck of a boat and he had to keep a hand on the wall to steady himself. He made it to the library without incident, where his mother was sitting at the desk, reading through something Alec couldn't see. He couldn't see much of anything, now that he thought about it. His vision had started to tunnel. "Mom," he said, meaning to ask if there was any particular reason she'd wanted him home, but she held up a finger to pause him before he could. He decided sitting down might be a good idea and dropped into the chair in front of the desk.

And then someone was calling his name over and over, very close to his ears, and it was so damn annoying that he snapped, "What?" and opened his eyes. His mother was leaning over him, looking slightly panicked. That was odd – she never looked panicked, not even that time Isabelle fell off of a fire escape and fractured her skull. His vision wavered so badly it made him seasick, and he shut his eyes.

She slapped him. The resulting sting compelled him to reopen his eyes. "Do not black out again," she ordered, sounding so much like Magnus had yesterday that it was unnerving. He was dating a male version of his mother. God, he had the weirdest Oedipal complex ever. "Alec!"

"I'm listening," he forced out through uncooperative lips. He'd broken out in a cold sweat and his ears were ringing. "Why are you shouting at me?"

Maryse sighed and pressed her hand to his cheek, the same one she'd smacked a moment ago. "Because you'd passed out, and you were threatening to do it again. You're burning up. Why on earth did you come all the way here while you were sick?"

"You wanted me to," Alec reminded her.

Now she looked like she was considering hitting him a few more times. "If you had an ounce of common sense, you would have told me you weren't feeling well and I would have told you to stay where you were. Use your brain, I know you have one."

"Everyone thinks I'm an idiot these days," Alec complained, rubbing his eyes. He felt like he'd been run over by a steamroller, but the unnerving sensation of being about to lose consciousness had disappeared.

"I wonder why," Maryse said dryly. "As soon as you can stand up, you're going to bed."

Alec couldn't have protested if he wanted to. He had no energy left. He let her herd him down to his bedroom, said nothing as she took the books scattered across his bed and put them back in all the wrong places, gave her his jacket to hang up, and didn't remind her that he was eighteen years old when she tucked the covers around him the way she had when he was little. "I'll wake you for dinner," she said quietly, sweeping his hair out of his eyes with the lightest touch of her fingers.

"I'm not going to eat."

"I'll wake you anyway and you can decide then."

There was really no arguing with his mother. He buried his face in the pillow and fell asleep before she left the room.

It felt like just seconds later that someone began singing his name and jabbing him in the shoulder. "What do you want…" he groaned, swatting away the hand the next time it tried to poke him.

"Mom told me to wake you up," Isabelle said. "She said to ask if you were hungry, so, are you? You look like a corpse."

"Go away." He'd had enough of people commenting on his appearance. He was ill, he could look awful if he wanted to.

"You didn't answer my question. Hungry or no?"

"I'm going to be sick if I eat anything."

"I'll take that as a no," she said. She picked up a blanket that had fallen off the bed and draped it over him. "What'd you do to Mom? I asked her what was wrong with you and she said something about a terminal case of stupidity."

"I passed out in the library."

"Oh." Isabelle ruffled his hair affectionately and said, "Well, feel better, okay?"

"Mmm. I'm trying."

"I don't want to get sick," a third voice interrupted, "so you'll forgive me if I just blow get-well kisses from here, won't you?"

Alec untangled a hand from the covers and made a rather impolite gesture. Jace just laughed. "Could you strangle him for me?" Alec asked Isabelle.

"Sure. What's all over your hand?" Isabelle said, catching his arm before he pulled it back under the blankets. The blotchy red rash had started to creep up his wrist.

"I have no idea," Alec told her.

"Maybe you have demon pox," Jace suggested.

Alec rolled his eyes, tugged his hand out of Isabelle's grasp, and yanked the covers all the way up to his nose. "There's no such thing as demon pox, Jace."

"That's what you think," Jace said wisely, inspecting his fingernails. "I believe it spreads like an STD… can warlocks get those?"

"Seriously, make sure he dies," Alec said to Isabelle.

"My pleasure." She sounded like she meant that quite literally, and before Alec closed her eyes he saw her grin at Jace, all teeth and no mercy.

He thought he'd heard them leave, but a few minutes later someone touched his hair. "What?" he mumbled. There was no reply, and he cracked open an eye – nobody. Passing it off as a product of his fevered brain, he curled further into the blankets, shivering.

It soon happened a second time, still with no obvious source. He actually lifted his head now and glanced around the empty room. "I'm losing my mind," he decided, plopping the pillow over his head so any spooky ghosties creeping about wouldn't have a target. Maybe he was being haunted by Hodge. Isabelle had thought that he might come back to lurk in the library and yell at them for folding down the page corners of his books.

A floorboard groaned. Alec flung the pillow off, sat straight up, and was again greeted by no presence besides his own, but for an instant he'd had the most eerie sensation that someone was standing right next to his bed, watching him. He saw something move out of the corner of his eye and whipped around. Nothing, of course. There was no one else in his room.

He folded his legs beneath him and wrapped a quilt around his shoulders. "You're being stupid," he reminded himself. There was nothing that could get into the Institute to harm him – it, like every other Institute in the world, had basic wards built right into the walls that kept out demons and vampires and anything else that might be damned. He had an overactive imagination and that was all.

Then something cold stroked the back of his neck.

Alec yelled and jerked away so violently that he toppled over the edge of the mattress and cracked his head against the dresser. Stunned, his eyes watering, he rolled up onto his knees and backed against the wall. "Stop that!" he snapped into the darkness.

Though he could barely hear anything over his own rapid breathing, he could have sworn someone – or something – purred, "Why?"

That was the last straw. He was getting the hell out of here.

He shoved his boots on, unlaced and on the wrong feet, grabbed his satchel from where his mother had left it at the end of the bed, and threaded his arms through the sleeves of his jacket. There was the faintest giggle from somewhere in his room. "Whatever you are," Alec said, fumbling around behind him for the doorknob, "leave me alone."

The corridor was silent, but he still kept catching slight flickers of movement where there shouldn't have been movement. He walked very quickly, trying not to look at anything that seemed unnatural, his heart hammering schizophrenically against his ribs. He thought something might be follow him. When he passed the door to the dining room, he could hear his mother and Jace and Isabelle talking softly and the sound of cutlery clinking against plates. He gave brief thought to hiding in there, but they might think he'd gone around the bend and being labeled crazy wasn't too appealing, so he moved on. Magnus's apartment seemed like the best option. It was the safest place he could think of, and if anything pursued him all the way there, he could just lock it in the bedroom closet and it would never be seen or heard from again.

The chill that hit him when he stepped outside was almost enough to force him back in. It was very cold for late November, and his elevated temperature wasn't helping matters; nonetheless, he walked to the subway station, occasionally stumbling over his shoelaces.

Dinnertime traffic meant that Alec got the very last seat on the train into Brooklyn. The women on either side of him didn't look entirely happy about his presence. He huddled into the seat and drew his sleeves over his hands, wishing he'd thought to put on gloves. Normally, the subway was too warm for him, and the heat combined with the motion made him sick to his stomach, but the car felt like an igloo today. He gazed around hazily as the train rolled to a stop and half a dozen people exited, leaving bright trails of light behind them.

"Excuse me," the woman on his left said as she stood, smoothing down her skirt. He pulled his legs in to let her by, but not quite fast enough – her calf brushed against his jeans, and he watched in horror as her graying skin sloughed off to expose veins and muscle and sinew.

He wanted to scream. He wanted to crawl under the hard plastic seats and hide until the world made sense again. But instead he just curled himself into a ball, closed his eyes and kept them closed, counting the stops so he'd know when to get off. This had to be some kind of horrific nightmare brought on by the fever. "Wake up," he whispered to himself, twining his fingers into his hair. "Wake up, wake up, wake up…"

"Dude, are you okay?"

Alec jumped. A girl was standing in the aisle, staring at him. The flowers braided into her long, white-blonde hair were crawling with insects. "What?"

"Are you okay?" she repeated. "I mean, you're like… sitting here freaking out."

"I'm fine," he said, tracking the progress of a fat beetle as it scuttled around the curve of her ear and disappeared.

She looked unconvinced, but then another girl shouted, "Jane, come on!" and she scurried away. "God," her friend said, leaping off the train, "you're so slow. And stop talking to tweakers on the subway, that's how you end up murdered –" The doors closed, cutting her off.

The next stop, thankfully, was the station closest to Magnus's apartment, and Alec left without a backward glance, afraid of what he might see. He wrapped his arms around himself and stared at the ground. Putting one foot in front of the other was taking all of his concentration and he couldn't risk getting sidetracked and falling. The distance from the curb to the asphalt below looked immeasurable. If he plummeted down there, he would never be able to claw his way up, and he hadn't told anyone where he was going so nobody would ever find him.

He made it to Magnus's building, though navigating the stairs was a challenge, and it was with a sigh of pure relief that he let himself into the apartment. He felt better once inside – not entirely safe, but better. His bow was leaning against the wall amongst a pile of shoes. Alec picked it up, the smooth wood under his fingers comforting him, then slung the half-full quiver across his back.

There was a gap between a couch and the wall in the corner of the room. Alec wedged himself into it, pulled his knees up to his chest, and set his bow within arm's reach. It was a bit noisy there – the kitchen was at his back and he could hear the dishwasher running, the chimes in the window jingling softly, and the television playing somewhere further off – but with something solid on three sides and his bow at hand, he finally felt secure.

After what felt like a very long time, someone said, "Alec?" He peered over the arm of the couch to see Magnus holding a stack of books and looking at him very strangely. He was wearing a long, shimmery shirt that didn't seem to be quite real. Alec rather wanted to touch it and find out if it felt like water. "What are you doing? I thought you were staying home."

"I didn't like it there," Alec explained, huddling in on himself. "Something was skulking around in my bedroom."


"Can you come over here?" He needed to be held and comforted for a while. Everything was still much too bright and sharp and off-kilter for his liking.

"I'm not entirely sure I'd fit in there, honey." There was a series of quiet thumps as Magnus dumped the books onto the couch.

"Useless," Alec muttered. He rested his chin on his knees and scratched his fingers. "Some girl on the subway called me a 'tweaker'."

Magnus laughed. "I hate to break this to you, but you do look like you're having a bad trip right now."

"The next person who tells me I look sick is getting hit. Everyone just has to make a smart remark. I know I look terrible, you all don't have to keep reminding me."

Alec didn't see or hear Magnus move, but suddenly the warlock was crouched in front of him, gloved fingers under his chin, tilting his face up so their eyes met. He wasn't laughing anymore – in fact, he looked downright alarmed. "You're delirious."

"I am not," Alec said immediately, affronted. "When did you change clothes?"

"I got home ten seconds ago and found you curled up on the floor, having a semi-coherent conversation with an empty room. Your pupils are the size of quarters. Trust me, you're delirious."

A chill ran down Alec's spine. He leaned back, out of Magnus's reach. "I was talking to you a minute ago."

"You couldn't have been, I literally just came through the front door."

"If I'm delirious, then how do I know you're real?" Alec challenged.

"Alec, I promise I'm real. Try to relax, I'm going to help you, okay?"

Magnus reached towards Alec's face, perhaps to be reassuring, but before he could touch him, Alec flinched away so fast he banged his head against the wall. "Don't touch me!" If he actually was hallucinating, it was possible that none of this was real. He could have wandered into a nest of demons for all he knew. He sucked in a breath, dizzy, and said, "Don't. Don't touch me."

"All right," Magnus said, his voice low and gentle like he was trying not to spook a wild animal. "All right." He held up his hands and shifted a few inches to the side. "I'm not touching you, see?"

Alec scrunched himself further into the corner. "Where were you if you weren't here?"

"In Queens, Alec, remember? I had work to do. A lot of work, as it turned out."

He couldn't remember. Belatedly, he realized that Magnus (or whoever he was) had placed himself between Alec and his bow. "Move," Alec said, his breath coming fast and uneven.

"Alec –"

"Stop saying my name!" Alec shouted. He buried his face in his knees and rocked back and forth, raking through the muddled mess of his thoughts and coming up with nothing that supported Magnus's claim.

"Okay," Magnus agreed, but a moment later he said, "Alec, baby, stop that –" and grabbed Alec's wrists. Alec glanced up and noticed his fingers were bloody, and that he'd clawed most of the skin off of his knuckles. It didn't hurt. He felt strangely detached from his body. "Listen to me, I –" He cut himself off again and let go of one of Alec's hands, raising the other to eye level. Then he pushed up the sleeve of Alec's jacket, revealing that the blotchy rash on his hand stretched almost up to his elbow now. An expression of dawning horror spread across Magnus's face.

"Let go," Alec said. Magnus didn't seem to hear him. "Let go!" He kicked out and caught Magnus in the knee. The warlock cursed and dropped Alec's hand. "I told you not to touch me!"

"Alec," Magnus began, a thread of poorly-concealed anxiety in his tone, "I know you're not really 'here' right now, but –"

Alec kicked him again, and this time Magnus was distracted just long enough for him to lunge forward and seize his bow. He reached over his shoulder, feeling the feathered ends of his arrows glide between his fingers, and said, "Get away from me."

Magnus held his hands up again and slid a foot or so back. "Keep going," Alec instructed, inching forward. He needed a clear path to the door. He caught the faintest beginnings of blue sparks between Magnus's fingers and added, "If you magic me, I promise I will shoot you."

There was a sound off to his left and Alec slammed into the corner again, shivering all over, blinking sweat out of his eyes. Chairman Meow's head popped up over the side of the couch. He snuffled the fabric for a moment, then hopped up onto the arm, balancing gracefully as only a cat could. "Go away," Alec told him.

The fluffy little head tilted. The nose twitched. The mouth opened, and opened, and kept opening, and then his entire face split to reveal a head full of rot and spiders that spilled out of the gaping hole like blood.

That was when Alec started screaming. Or, he thought he started screaming, but he couldn't hear anymore so he might not have been making any sound at all. The spiders swarmed and skittered up his arms and legs and under his jacket and under his skin and there was a flash of light and when he opened his eyes, he was under a pile of warm, wildly-colored blankets on a familiar bed.

His first thought was that that had been the worst nightmare he'd ever had, even compared to the ones he'd had for almost five years about his parents disowning him. He was still shivering, his skin still crawling. When he went to rub his aching eyes, however, he saw the bite mark on his hand, torn knuckles, mostly-faded red splotches. No dream could do that.

He watched raindrops chase each other down the windows and took inventory of his body parts. Nothing was missing. His muscles throbbed with overexertion, he felt weak as a kitten, and he was still cold, but other than that, he appeared to be all right.

As he lay there, only partially awake and not thinking about anything in particular, Alec gradually became aware of an odd, almost rhythmic thunk-thunk-thunk he couldn't place. He sluggishly rolled over. Magnus was sitting on the edge of the mattress, his back to Alec, yanking a small knife from the wooden floor and then plunging it back in. Judging by the number of marks on the board, he'd been at it for some time.

"That can't be good for the floor."

Magnus started and dropped the knife. "Alec," he said, turning, relief written all over his face. "You're awake. How do you feel?"

"Like I've been fighting Abbadon again. You wouldn't believe how badly I ache."

"I believe it," Magnus said, caressing Alec's cheek with his thumb. "You still have a bit of a fever, but that should go down soon."

Alec nodded and folded an arm under his head, wincing as even that small movement hurt. "I'm sorry," he said. "I caused you a lot of trouble, didn't I? I've never gotten that sick before in my life."

Magnus grimaced. "You, um… weren't exactly sick."

"I beg to differ."

"You weren't," Magnus stressed, strangely insistent. He picked up the knife and stabbed the floorboard. "You were right all along, actually."

"You're going to have to be a little clearer than that. My brain is mud," Alec said.

Sighing, Magnus turned away again, but not before Alec spotted his forlorn expression. "Remember how you nearly bled to death and had to drink the potion I made for you the other night?"


"I… may have accidentally poisoned you."

Though Alec caught the words, they were rerouted straight into the 'bullshit' drawer of his mental filing cabinet and he couldn't really make any sense of them. "You what?"

"You heard me," Magnus said flatly. "I was in such a rush to finish it that I mixed up two ingredients – which, as you've noted, all generally look the same – and poured an extremely dangerous amount of witchroot down your throat. I ignored you when you said it tasted strange, I was too arrogant to listen to your suggestion that I'd made it incorrectly, and I didn't even know what I'd done until I saw that rash on your hands and realized you had the most beautifully textbook case of witchroot poisoning I've ever seen. Every symptom in perfect order. It was almost impressive except for the poisoning part."

Alec had absolutely no idea what to say to that. Magnus's shoulders were slumped, he sounded miserable and self-deprecating, and Alec didn't know what to do. He could deal with Magnus angry and happy and drunk and aroused and just about everything in between, but this was new to him. "Magnus," he finally said, "I was joking when I accused you of poisoning me."

"Not the point. I didn't even let myself consider that I might have made a mistake. Have you any idea how stupid of me that was?"

"It doesn't matter," Alec said reassuringly. "I'm assuming you fixed it, so I'm fine now, right?"

"That's not the point!" Magnus punctuated that statement by sinking his knife in the floor, right up to the hilt. "Do you know how long people with untreated witchroot poisoning live?"

"Um. No."

"Two days at best," Magnus informed him. "Delirium and hallucinations occur around thirty-six hours, coma by forty-two, then internal organs start shutting down and you're essentially a goner. Alec, you would have been dead in less than ten hours if I hadn't figured out what was wrong and gotten the antidote into you."

Now Alec was beginning to see why he was so upset. "So… would you feel better if I was mad at you?"


"Too bad." He was too tired to work up any anger, righteous or otherwise. Alec stretched an arm out to curl his fingers around Magnus's elbow. "How long are you going to beat yourself up over this?"

"Quite a while, I think," Magnus said. "Ten hours, Alec. Ten hours and I would have lost you, all because I was dreadfully conceited and wouldn't even consider the possibility that I had made a mistake."

Alec was quiet for a minute. He was used to comforting people – he'd soothed his sister when she was upset about one of her boyfriends dumping her, he'd let Max cuddle into bed with him when the younger boy had nightmares, he'd even subtly found ways to coax Jace from his sulks – so this shouldn't have been so hard for him. "Self-loathing does not look good on you."

"And arrogance is?"

"Yes," Alec said bluntly. "It drives me crazy sometimes, but I like it. I guess I'm attracted to ridiculous egos."

Magnus snorted. "That explains a lot." But he was smiling slightly, and he reached over and flicked a lock of Alec's hair out of his eyes. "You really shouldn't let this go so easily, you know."

"I have less regard for my own life than I do for other people's," Alec pointed out. Magnus's expression intimated that that might not have been the right response. "And I do stupid things all the time and you usually forgive me. I'm just returning the favor." That appeared to be a slightly better one. He thought about letting Magnus stroke his hair until he fell asleep, since he was so exhausted and run-down, but something occurred to him before he finalized the decision. "By the Angel, I didn't really threaten to shoot you last night, did I?"

"You did, but don't concern yourself with it, you were mentally elsewhere."

"Magnus, I threatened to shoot you! Why didn't you knock me out or something?"

"I did," Magnus said. "I didn't want to, because I was a little afraid you wouldn't ever wake up, but I did. I'd also been working all day and my magic was drained down to the dregs, I wasn't sure if I even could. You were hysterical, though, so I didn't have much of a choice. Don't worry about it." He looked at his pillow for a moment, contemplative, then pushed it aside and lay down with his head on Alec's chest.

"'Don't worry about it'," Alec repeated, picking a piece of green glitter out of Magnus's hair. "That's a little hypocritical of you, isn't it? Are you going to forgive yourself for accidentally poisoning me?"

"Not anytime soon."

Alec rolled his eyes. Leave it to Magnus to be unnecessarily stubborn. "Fine. Then maybe we can turn it into some kind of lesson. Next time you're being condescending and behaving like you know everything, I'll say, "Remember that time you poisoned me?" and you can shut up."

Magnus actually laughed this time. He turned his head, chin digging into Alec's chest, and said, "That's a fabulous idea."

"And," Alec continued mischievously, "if that doesn't work, I'll just casually mention this incident to my mother."

The look of terror that flashed over Magnus's face was worth absolutely everything that had happened in the last two days. "It'd be quicker for you to just kill me yourself."

"But then you wouldn't learn anything. I – oh, damn." Mentioning his mother had reminded Alec of something he'd only given fleeting thought towards last night. "I didn't tell anyone at home that I was leaving. She's going to murder me."

"No worries, I took care of it," Magnus said dismissively. "She called here in a bit of a panic, but I'd already gotten you in bed by then, so I told her you'd been slightly delirious, but you were sleeping and your fever was down. That was… what, eight o'clock? It's almost seven in the morning. You should probably call her yourself to let her know you're recovering. She said she was going to chop off your head and display it on a stake in front of the Institute if you ever do that to her again, by the way."

"She did not say that."

"It was implied. Oh, I meant to ask, why did you come all the way back here?"

"I was convinced my bedroom was haunted," Alec recalled. "I think I was already hallucinating by then. Everyone on the subway thought I was on drugs. Seriously, a girl called me a 'tweaker'."

Magnus shook his head and scooted up the bed so they were face-to-face. "Do you even know how much I love you?"

"I could guess," Alec said.

"You only think you could. I'd kiss you, but you haven't brushed your teeth in a while." He leaned his forehead against Alec's instead, eyes closed. Alec wound his arms around his neck and shut his own eyes, incalculably tired but not yet willing to succumb to sleep. "Really, though, I do love you. More than anything."

"I know. I love you too, when you're not being a jerk."

"Mm… 'pride comes before a fall', no?"


"Excuse me?"

"It's destruction," Alec corrected sleepily. "'Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall'. Everyone gets it wrong."

"Except for you, apparently," Magnus said affectionately. "How about that? That's twice that you've been right and I've been wrong."

"What day is it? The first, right? We should call it a holiday." Alec was quickly losing his hold on consciousness, and Magnus's hand carding through his hair wasn't making it any easier to stay awake. "'The Day Alec Was Right and Magnus Was Wrong'."

"Sounds good," Magnus said, kissing his cheek.

Alec was very nearly asleep when Magnus, obviously not expecting to be heard, murmured, "I'm going to throw a party to celebrate."

"No, you won't."


"Throw a party and I will sic my mother on you."

"I hate you a little bit."

"Love you too, Magnus."

FINITO. I swear I have never written anything so fast in my life. I'm the sort of person who takes three weeks to write a thousand words most of the time.

By the way, Everything has not been dropped, I just couldn't face writing a deathfic right now. It will be continued ASAP. :D Please review, my loves!