Absolution. Chapter 2.
"She was just a kid." Alec murmured as they left the Johnson house. It was a typical house in the suburbs, all pastel paneling and a neat row of potted plants along the sides of the porch. Jace's beat up Impala looked out-of-place in the line of family sized SUVs, like a black smudge in a colorful fantasy. A few neighbors glanced at them from their windows or flower gardens before returning to their perfect, little worlds. Nothing bad ever happened to people living in this part of town. Alec slipped into the passenger side of Jace's car, dragging his seatbelt on with a weak tug.
Maureen's parents had been torn apart by the news. Her mother had collapsed into tears on her husband's shoulder, the father looking like the only thing keeping him from doing the same was the need to support his wife. It had brought back painful memories, seeing the two of them there. Alec remembered white lights, his mother and Isabelle crying and-he had struggled to composed himself as Jace explained the situation, as well as tried to get a few answers out of the distraught pair.
When did you last see her? Where?
They'd last seen her leaving for school the morning of the murder. The school had reported that Maureen had attended all of her classes before being let out at a little after 3pm. She hadn't returned home, meaning that there was an eleven hour gap until her murder around 1am. Too many things could have happened in that amount of time.
Was there anything worrying that she mentioned or that you noticed?
Maureen had been a regular girl, obsessed with older boys and with a speciality for calling a variety of rockstars her boyfriends. It had annoyed her father, but her mother thought it was endearing. And now she was gone forever.
"She was. That's why it's important that we catch whoever did it." Jace dug out his phone, looking at the screen. "I told Carstairs in Forensics to contact me if he finds something interesting while processing the evidence found at the crime scene. We'll go to the school on Monday and ask to speak with the victim's friends, see if they know why Maureen was in that part of town."
"Monday. Right." Alec answered quietly. Jace looked over at him curiously.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Alec responded, staring out of the passenger side window. Jace watched him for a moment longer before he turned his attention back to the road.
"Dr. Garroway is handling the autopsy, so we should be able to get the report soon." He said, earning a look of surprise from Alec.
"Maybe in an hour or two. I'm going to call him and ask when we get to the station. There's nothing else we can do at the moment anyways. Blackthorn's knocking on doors and gathering information around the neighborhood where the victim was killed, and Forensics needs time to work over everything. We're going to get the report from Dr. Garroway and then call it a night."
"Oh, okay." Alec mumbled, nodding his head dumbly. Jace glanced at him again, watching as Alec stared out into the street numbly.
"My girlfriend, Clary, wants to have dinner later." He said, changing the subject. "Somewhere pricey and out of my budget, but I've saved up some money." He sighed, though the smile on his face told Alec he wasn't that annoyed at the thought. "You should take a break as well. Go home, watch the game with your dad or whatever it is you do." Alec frowned, shaking his head.
"I'll go to the station afterwards and go through some of the cold cases." Jace turned to face him, his expression serious.
"Alec, you can't let yourself get caught up in all the death and murder that comes with our job. There aren't any outlets for us in this field. The only way we can get away is to go home and force ourselves to forget everything for a while."
"I know that, but still..." Alec trailed off, looking at Jace imploringly. The detective sighed, pulling into the lot at the station. The 23rd precinct looked like someone had mashed together a medieval castle and an apartment building into one. Alec had studied it dubiously the first time he'd entered it, but these days it was a home. A chaotic, loud one, full of fellow officers and criminals alike, but still home.
"Three cases. I want your reviews on them down on my table tomorrow and then for you to go home. And I'm telling Thrushcross to keep an eye on you when I leave." He said, climbing out of his car. Alec quickly followed, falling into step with Jace as they entered the station. They passed by the civilians and criminals, as well as a few frazzled officers, entering the deeper, maze-like part of the station known only to the police. Standing in front of the offices was a large desk, like a gateway into hell. Beyond that was a jungle of people, papers and desks, all moving chaotically to some infernal rhythm.
"Officer Lightwood?" Alec looked over to the secretary sitting at the main desk, taking in her haggard appearance with caution.
"...Yes, Ms. Lovelace?" He answered, walking over to the desk. The secretary, a younger, blonde-haired woman who couldn't be more than a high-school student, held up a notepad, purple ink scrawled across the bright yellow paper.
"There's a man who keeps calling. He's insisting that he needs to speak with you?" Alec paused, looking at the notepad and the timestamps. The person had called three times in the past hour alone. Alec couldn't read the woman's handwriting, but he already knew who she was referring to.
"What's his name?" He asked, just to make sure. He prayed he was wrong about his guess. Just as wrong as the fluttering in his stomach about the idea of someone clogging the stations' phone lines to flirt with him.
"Magnus Bane." She looked annoyed by the thought of him alone. "He's called several times now, but he won't let me take a message."
"Nine times in the past two hours." Alec paused, at a loss for words as he turned to look back at Jace. His partner gazed back at Alec, his expression a mix of curiosity and concern.
"Handle it. I'm going to call the M.E." Jace said, glancing over when the secretary's phone rang once again. The woman picked the phone up, sighing.
"Yes, hello, Mr. Bane." Ms. Lovelace caught Alec's gaze, effectively trapping the police officer with her stare alone. "He's right here." Alec bit his lip, before holding out a hand and taking the phone from the woman.
"Mr. Bane, why are you spamming the phone lines?" Alec asked lowly, feeling the ridiculous tingle of a blush spread across his cheeks as he stood there, the secretary eying him shrewdly.
"Alec, darling! How are you?" Magnus greeted, sounding remarkably cheerful for someone who had been calling for him so many times.
"What do you want?" Alec muttered, scratching at his jaw nervously, glancing over his shoulder to see Jace at his own desk, phone in hand.
"So mean. I kinda like that." Was Magnus' reply. Alec pressed a hand to his red cheeks, turning away from Lovelace and hunching his shoulders.
"What...do you want?" He repeated slowly, his annoyance building with every second.
"Dinner with you?" Magnus suggested innocently. Alec hissed in anger.
"I could have you charged with propositioning an officer." He threatened, rubbing the pads of his fingers against his eyes.
"Would you be the one processing me?" Magnus asked curiously, sounding throughly delighted with the idea. Alec slammed the phone back on the desk, ignoring the sour look from the secretary.
"Ignore any future calls." He said vehemently. Lovelace looked slightly sympathetic at this.
"Clingy ex-boyfriend?" She guessed. Alec stared back at her in horror.
"What? No!" He snapped, making his way back into the station, through the chaos of desks and people. His desk was a paper-covered slab of wood in the corner next to the noisier copier, meaning that he had to use Jace's phone for important phone calls. Alec made it to his desk, jumping in surprise when Jace reappeared to his right. The detective smacked a hand down on the pile of cold cases in the corner of his desk, Alec nearly falling out of his chair in response. Alec stared up at the Jace in shock. "What?"
"I finished the call. We need to head to St. Raziel's right now." Alec's head swiveled up. The hospital Magnus worked at?
"The police department's medical facility is there." Jace looked at him in a way that said 'someone else should have told you this before'. "It's where Dr. Garroway performed the autopsy on Maureen Johnson. Her parents are scheduled to pick her up in tomorrow afternoon and he wants us to come in and see the body before we lose it."
"He's already done?" Jace sent him a dry look.
"An autopsy only takes around a few hours, Alec."
"Oh, right. Let's go then."
"Dr. Garroway." Jace greeted as they entered the morgue. Alec looked around, taking in the stainless steel...everything, as well as the two people waiting for them in the room. One was an older man, with dark, gray-streaked hair. He was wearing a tired, yet pleasant expression, jeans and a plaid shirt underneath his white lab coat. The other person was a girl with dark skin and braided, brown hair. She was wearing jeans as well, and a t-shirt that read "I 'heart' anatomy." Only unlike most designs, the heart was anatomically correct, location and all. Alec looked away, feeling queasy.
"Jace," The older man stepped forward. "I told you to call me 'Luke'. You're dating my daughter after all." Alec turned to look at Jace in surprise, but Jace only grinned at Luke.
"To be fair, I was under the impression that I had to speak properly to you because I date your daughter." Luke chuckled at this, shaking his head.
"No, of course not. I wouldn't do that to you, not when you already have Jocelyn to worry about." Jace winced.
"And who's this?" Luke asked curiously, turning to Alec. Alec paused, looking at Jace, then Luke.
"Alec Lightwood. Jace is mentoring me. It's a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Garroway." Alec saw the recognition in Luke's eyes and he dropped his gaze to the ground. The floor was covered in tile, white and clean as well, a few drains dotting the floor. Why they were there Alec didn't want to know. He jumped when a heavy hand landed on his shoulder. He glanced up through his bangs to see that Luke was smiling at him.
"It's good to have you with us, Alec. Now come on, let's get this over with. Maia?" The girl across the room went to the back wall, lined with large containers. Alec inhaled lowly as she grabbed the handle on one of them.
"Knock, knock." She said crudely, pulling open the door. She reached into the darkness and rolled out a long, metal table. There was a small, white cloth spread over the victim's body, allowing Alec to only see her silhouette.
Jace and Luke began walking over, and Alec followed after a hesitant moment. There was a buzzing in his ears, and a voice in the back of mind that kept chanting no, no, no over and over again. It was like every 'no' was filling his lungs, ready to burst out into the air, along with everything else in the back of his mind. I shouldn't be here. A small voice whispered from the corner of his mind.
Keep it together. He said to it, clenching his fists together. Madeline had told him that he needed to take steps, but he had a feeling that this counted at jumping straight into the deep end. He found his place by Jace's side, watching steadily as Luke pulled down the cloth, revealing the face of Maureen Johnson.
Alec stared down at her silently. Her skin was pale, the blood washed off her face. Her hair had been combed through, and for a moment Alec wondered if she was merely sleeping, like she'd open her eyes any second and sit up and start crying for her parents. Then he saw the ugly stitches peeking out from underneath the sheet that covered her torso, the same marks underneath her bangs where they'd autopsied her brain. Then her long, brown hair became short and black, an ugly gash growing across her neck, the edges black and torn. The world began to twist and distort, until he was aware of a sharp pain in his knees, then darkness.
All the boy could do was cower behind the dumpster. He could hear fire crackling, the sirens and people shouting. He could smell the smoke, and feel the sweat and terror mixing on his skin.
It was the screaming that woke Alec up. It sounded like someone was being murdered, and the officer lunged to his right, to his bedside table where his gun was. Only he was met with empty air, and the pain in his throat told him that he was the one screaming. Then hands were on his arms and shoulders, pushing him back down against the sheets. Alec kicked out wildly, fighting blindly and shouting.
"Get OFF of me!" He yelled, over and over again, until he finally looked up at the people pinning him down, at their white scrub uniforms. Alec's eyes darted around until they fixed on a splash of color. He cringed when he recognized Magnus' face, letting himself go limp. The nurse smiled at him, and Alec had to marvel at him for a moment. While everyone else was wearing standard white nursing scrubs, Magnus' scrubs were a bright green with small, purple polka dots on them. His makeup matched, his eyelids a blend of sparkling purple and green. And he was still smiling at Alec, like the officer hadn't been yelling bloody murder half a second ago.
"How do I look?" Magnus asked curiously, sounding amused. Alec belatedly realized that the other nurses, two men and one woman, had backed away, while Magnus was merrily standing by Alec's side, a hand on his shoulder. Alec sat up quickly, taking inventory of himself. He was sitting on a sterile, white bed, in what was obviously an empty hospital room. There was nothing poking into him, and he was still wearing his uniform, though his shoes, belt and hat were gone. The walls and floor were pure white, a window to his left showed what looked like a small garden and the city beyond it, though he wasn't sure which part.
"Where am I?"
"One of the rooms in the main part of St. Raziel's. You gave us all quite the scare when you passed out in the morgue." Magnus supplied, waving away the other nurses and looking back to Alec.
"Oh." Alec mumbled, feeling blood rush to his face. He'd fainted on the job. "Where's Jace?" He asked, looking around.
"Your partner, Detective Wayland, said that he had to go talk important business with your Chief and left when he was sure you'd be safe and sound here." Magnus explained, pulling up a chair and sitting down next to Alec's bed, looking as though he was set to be there for a while. Alec looked at his scrubs dubiously.
"Don't you have to get back to work?" He asked. Magnus was still smiling, and Alec was beginning to wonder if it was entirely genuine, or just a well-practiced expression the nurse used with all of his patients.
"I'm On Call, actually. I was sitting at home watching reality TV when Catarina called me up. She told me that my favorite police officer had passed out in the morgue suddenly and that Dr. Garroway said I might be interested in checking up on him. And I was." Magnus' expression melted into concern. "The preliminary exam didn't show anything worrying, though you hit your head fairly hard. Detective Wayland said that it was your first autopsy and new officers sometimes pass out at the sight of their first body, but I can't help but worry Alec."
"It's not your job to worry about me." Alec replied uneasily. Magnus smiled, flashing white teeth.
"I'm a nurse, and you're my patient. So, yes, it is."
"Well, I'm leaving now so you don't have to worry much longer." Magnus didn't reply for a moment, speaking up only when Alec made to get out of bed.
"You saw Maureen's body that night, but you continued on with your job as if everything was fine. Why was the second time different?" Alec leaned away from him, remembering the stainless steel boxes and the way Maureen had been laid out on that table.
"It's all your fault!" The voice, dark and angry, shattered his already fragile resolve. Alec's fingers dug into the bed sheets and he worked on controlling his breathing. In-out, in-out, slower, he told himself.
"Alec? Are you sure you're okay?" Magnus asked lowly, reaching out to touch his hand. Alec jerked away quickly, taking in his uniform, Magnus, the room. He wasn't in the morgue anymore. He wasn't in that morgue anymore. "Alec, your line of work...it's incredibly stressful and demanding, if it's too much-"
"I can handle it." Alec rasped out. "I just don't like morgues. All of the bodies hiding away, it's creepy, okay?" Magnus nodded his head slowly, looking unconvinced.
"Alright, but if it's too much, you can come and talk to me about it. It's important to have a healthy outlet for stress, especially with the job you're in." Alec shook his head.
"I can't tell you the details of the case if that's what you're asking."
"I'm not asking for that. I'm just offering you some place to go when you don't think you have one." Magnus stood up, walking over to a table in the corner of the room. Alec saw a collection of his belongings; his hat, belt and the myriad of police accessories he had shoved into it. Magnus picked them up and brought them over to the police officer, setting them on the bed. Alec climbed out of bed, standing slowly and rubbing his head. It stung a little, but not too bad. He pulled his belt on, running his hands over each piece of gear; handcuffs, gun, flashlight-
"Where's my..." Magnus placed Alec's phone in his hand. The battered screen flashed up at him merrily.
"I put my number in there. Don't be afraid to call if you need anything. I also have unlimited texting, but I'd like to hear your voice." Magnus was getting flirty again, meaning that Alec was probably in the clear.
"That's...weird, putting your number in my phone like that." Alec mumbled, shoving his phone into the clip at his waist and stepping into his shoes.
"If you're trying to insult me, you'll have to try something better than 'weird'. I've gotten that one too many times over the course of my life." Magnus' waist beeped, and the nurse pulled out a small pager, frowning at it. "And the Mistress calls. I have to get to work."
"Gretel will show you the way out." Magnus told him, smiling reassuringly at the officer. "And my offer still stands, call me anytime, Officer Lightwood."
"What if you're working?"
"Then I'll get to you as soon as possible." Magnus promised. Alec couldn't help me feel a bit relieved by Magnus' confident tone. "Have a good day." Magnus added, before walking out of the room. With the nurse gone, the room was the sterile white it'd always been, only intensified. Alec was reminded of Maureen in the morgue, and one body that he never wanted to see ever again. He quickly turned for the door and left the room.
A/N: Nightmares and nurses in glittering armor, oh my. I wonder how bad things are going to get in the future?
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