Alec opened his eyes, wincing at the strong light in the infirmary. Something was wrong, his entire body felt like it was being burned from the inside out. Poison. He could feel his mouth moving, but no sound was coming out. His body was thrashing, but Alec was someplace else, someplace detached from the pain. He could feel it, distantly, but it didn't seem to really affect him.
His family hovered around him, Jace and Izzy looking angry, Maryse and Robert looking concerned, and Clary looking frantic. When had she become part of his family, he thought distantly. It seemed perfectly right that she would be with his family, keeping a worried vigil while he was sick.
Something occurred to him. Thirsty, he was thirsty. His mind slowly migrated back to meet his body, to take control of the actions. Pain surged through him but he pushed on. "Water," he croaked quietly. They didn't hear him. He tried to raise his voice. "Water," he tried again. This time Clary's eyes lit up as he spoke. She nodded towards him and turned to pour a glass.
"Clary, what are you doing?" Jace asked, looking up. He'd been studying his hands with a scowl set across his face.
"Alec asked for water," Clary answered, returning and tilting the cup to meet Alec's mouth when it became evident he couldn't do it himself.
They all stared down at him for a second before Maryse started to ask questions, normal, motherly things like were there enough blankets, and was he hungry, it wouldn't take much to make him something. Alec tried to answer, but now that his thirst was assuaged his mind had returned to its distant outpost. He could hear them discussing what they should do.
"There's only one thing to do," Izzy said with an angry toss of her head. "We've got to call Magnus!" Alec tried to shake his head. He'd finally stopped calling the warlock –more to protect his phone from Jace than anything else- and he wasn't sure he could stand seeing the warlock and having him leave again. Or having him not come at all.
"How do we know he'd even come?" Jace demanded, putting Alec's worst fear into words. "He didn't answer last time I called, what makes you think he'd answer this time?"
His parabatai had called Magnus? This was news, and it was enough to bring Alec's mind into focus. "Don't," he whispered. This time, it was Izzy who heard him. She laid a cool hand on his forehead; he hadn't realized how hot, burning, searing hot he was until that moment.
"Ok, Alec. We won't call him if you don't want us to." What nobody but Alec seemed to have noticed is that Clary had fired off a text message with a distinctly furtive glance at the others. Alec fixed a glare at her, but Clary met his gaze evenly, without shame.
A few moments later, Maryse left the room. The bell must have rang, and Alec had missed it. Things were becoming more and more fuzzy the longer he was awake, and by the time Maryse had returned, he was completely unconscious.
Magnus's heart had nearly stopped when his phone had buzzed. It was from Clary. He almost didn't open it, but she was the one of Alec's friends and family that hadn't bombarded him these past weeks. He opened the message, and his blood ran cold in his veins.
Alec is dying. Come quick.
Without another thought he turned down the street towards the Institute. Thank whatever higher power there was that he had been in the area. He rang the bell once, twice, three times in his impatience. Maryse opened the door with first a harried, then shocked face.
"Magnus," she said coolly, trying to contain herself. "What brings you here?"
The warlock ignored her, pushing her out of the way as he half-ran up the stairs to where he knew Alec would be- the infirmary. He threw open the door. Robert Lightwood was at the foot of the bed, and he tried to have Magnus leave, but Magnus stubbornly ignored him until Maryse arrived to silence her husband and remove him from the room.
Isabelle and Jace glared daggers at Magnus, but he couldn't care less. His entire world had narrowed in onto the boy in the bed. Sweat shone thick across his face, plastering those dark curls against his forehead. His skin had an unhealthy pallor, and his muscles, so lean and strong, kept twitching and moving restlessly under the thin sheet.
Someone laid a hand on his arm. He looked away form Alec, startled, and found Clary looking at him. "We don't know what happened to him. He just came home one night from a walk like this. He was delirious; he couldn't say where he'd been or what had attacked him. His wounds have healed up, but the fever…" she trailed off into silence. Magnus could easily finish the sentence. The fever was killing him.
Clary saw his face. She grabbed Jace by the hand and tapped Isabelle on the shoulder. "Let's give them a moment," Clary insisted, half-dragging them both out the door. Magnus felt a surge of gratitude to the small redhead. So intuitive for someone so young.
He sat in the chair closest to Alec's head. Tenderly, he brushed the curls back, and sponged cool water across the Shadowhunter's forehead. He took the boy's hand in both of his. No matter how many years he'd lived, he still couldn't understand death. Perhaps it was something only mortality could teach.
Before he knew it, he was whispering softly to Alec, apologizing for everything, begging him to open his eyes and tell him what had happened. There was only so much the warlock could do if he didn't know what the poison was. Tears started to fall, swift and silent, but startling. Magnus could count on one hand the times a mortal had made him cry.
The tears quickly escalated to body-wracking sobs, and he pressed Alec's limp hand to his cheek. He called to a God he didn't believe in to save his love, to help him somehow, but no answer came. Magnus remembered with a painful vividness every moment he'd spent with Alec, from the party where they'd first met to their first kiss, to watching Alec's wonder as they travelled, right up until the day he'd ended things. Just thinking about it tore at his heart. How could he have acted so cruelly? Had the situation been reversed, had Alec been the one immortal and Magnus to one doomed to die, would Magnus really have chosen differently?
He didn't know. And now, now those moments were gone forever. It was too late to grant Alec immortality, his sickness was too far progressed. Why, why hadn't he just gone ahead with the spell, just listened to what Alec was saying for once? Why had he instead let his foolishness overcome his, his anger overshadow his love? This pain he deserved, but why should Alec have to suffer too?
"I'm sorry," he whispered to a boy who couldn't hear him. "I'm so, so sorry." He prayed for a miracle, but what hope could a half-demon have of a miracle?
The hand he clutched squeezed back.
Alec pressed himself up on a shaking arm, and was immediately pushed back against the headboard by Magnus's body. Arms flung around his neck pulled him close to the familiar sandalwood scent, the first thing that had alerted him to the warlock's presence. Once he'd caught it, he'd dragged himself back to his body, just in time to hear Magnus's pleas.
His arms went around the warlock without his consent, finding their old home at the small of Magnus's back.
"Alexander Lightwood, don't you ever do that again!" Magnus whispered angrily, staring Alec in the face. His voice sounded furious, but his eyes betrayed his relief. "I thought you were gone," Magnus concluded, pulling Alec into an embrace.
"Never without saying goodbye," Alec answered, burying his face in the warlock's neck. He was surprised at how weak his voice sounded in his ears, and noticed how Magnus's forehead wrinkled with worry.
"I hate goodbyes," was all Magnus said, pressing a kiss to Alec's forehead. He pulled back and sat down again, but this time on the edge of the bed, his body still near enough that Alec could feel its heat. Alec was suddenly chilled to the bone, freezing cold, and he curled towards Magnus's warmth. "Now, Alexander," Magnus said, his voice going serious, "what happened?"
Alec tried to remember, relaying pieces of his fight with a demon he hadn't recognized. Magnus, on the other hand, knew the description. He nodded quickly, and rushed to the door to call in Izzy, Jace and Clary, who swarmed in.
"He's going to need a day or so, but I should be able to help him," Magnus said. "His blood will fight it off, but he needs to keep up his strength. Clary, go to the supermarket, look for high protein. Jace, go with her, make sure she doesn't run into trouble. Isabelle…" Magnus fell silent and looked to Alec. They both knew Izzy couldn't cook, but they couldn't exactly have her with them. There were some things they needed to hash out.
"Have you called Simon?" Alec asked. Izzy nodded. "Go see him, ok? I'll be alright." Izzy smiled tentatively, and flew out of the room after Jace and Clary. Magnus resumed his seat on the edge of the bed, placing his face in his hands. Alec couldn't help it, he moved so that they sat next to each other and wrapped an arm around the warlock. "Am I… will I really be okay?"
Magnus heaved a sigh. "You should be," he said, sounding exhausted. Alec realized suddenly why the past few minutes he'd been feeling so much stronger, so much healthier. He pulled back with a scowl.
"You ass, you've been giving me your strength!" Alec exclaimed. He didn't know why he was so angry about it, but he was. "You don't owe me anything Magnus. If I'm going to be okay, you can go now." His voice had flattened out, sounding monotone and deadened.
"No, Alec, I can't," Magnus said, with an air of defeat about him. Alec leaned forward unconsciously, confused but intrigued. "I can't leave you, not now, not ever. I refuse to go through that kind of fear again."
Alec stuttered, trying to say something, but he couldn't think of any words that would sum up how he felt. He just laid a hand on Magnus's cheek. "So, are you saying you want to give us another shot?" he asked shyly, biting his lip.
Magnus gave a relieved laugh. "Yes, Alexander, that's what I'm saying." The warlock smiled gently, and kissed Alec carefully, seeming to remember more than Alec did that he was still recovering.
The infirmary door banged open and Jace hustled in, followed quickly by Clary. "Well, that went better than planned," Clary said with a small smile, looking at the couple. Alec only laughed, and after a moment everyone joined in. Magnus tousled Alec's hair playfully.
Jace was the only who looked confused. Alec only smiled at his parabatai, too happy in his health and his love to really want to explain it. Clary would take care of it later, he was sure. For now, everything was as it should be, with a few exceptions.
"Ok, everybody out!" Magnus said imperiously. "I have very important business to attend to." He winked broadly at Alec, who turned scarlet. Clary and Jace only laughed and left the room, leaving the food they'd purchased behind, should the pair get hungry later on.
Magnus turned to Alec. "Do you need help getting up, or shall I join you in bed?" he asked with an evil sparkle in his eye.
"As if you need to ask," Alec replied, the last of his sense deserting him the moment Magnus had lain down next to him and pressed his lips to Alec's. Magnus hummed lightly.
"Good point," he half-growled, and then everything else faded away until it was just the two of them.