night was almost black tonight in New York. No stars were up at the sky, the
moon was hidden behind dark clouds.
A strange and unsettling night.
A night that heralded the upcoming evil.
Valentine was nervously tapping the arm of the chair he was sitting on. The library of the Institute was absorbed in silence. The only thing that could be heard was his tapping and the steady breathing of Sebastian.
"The hunters in Los Angeles won't help us," he scrambled the fire message that had come ten minutes before and threw it straight into the fireplace. "They don't want to get involved with our Downworlders, as they put it. Apparently we have more powerful Downworlders here in New York."
"I'm sure they meant Magnus Bane and Praetor Lupus," the black haired boy never raised his eyes from the demon book that he knew by heart already. "The rest of them are minor pawns. But Bane, he's the most powerful warlock now, since Fell is dead."
"So we shall kill Bane too."
"No," Sebastian closed the book. "He could be useful later. For now we must convince other Shadowhunters to help us. We have to show them that Downworlders are a threat."
"And how should we do it?" Morgenstern raised his left eyebrow in question. "You said it yourself, that Lightwoods aren't so keen on killing Downworlders. Weren't you the one who killed those two vampires last week?"
"Yes," he moved himself closer to the older man. "Because we have done it the wrong way since the beginning. Hurting Alec by Abbadon didn't do much. They didn't even believe that it was the warlock who summoned him, plus he was saved somehow. We need something stronger, bigger than that. Something that will affect not only the Lightwoods but all the Shadowhunters around the world. Something that will turn them against the whole Downworld. Something that will start the real war."
"What are you suggesting then?"
"What they need is an impulse," he explained. Sebastian's black eyes gleamed with evil.
"Yes, a very painful impulse."
The whole institute was quiet as the Shadowhunters were asleep. Their steady breaths were filling the sacred ground.
It was all peaceful.
A loud ringing went through the whole building, waking up all its residents in one second.
"Demon attack in Bronx!" Sebastian barged inside Alec's bedroom, the same moment Jace did. "You have to go!"
"I'll go for Izzy and Clary," Jace ran into the direction of his sister’s bedroom.
"Maryse and Robert are downstairs, waiting for you," Sebastian told Alec, when he came out of the bathroom, wearing his gear. "I'm staying with Max, because my leg is still injured from the last attack. I won't be much help in Bronx."
"Ok. Take care of my brother," the blue eyed man ran quickly downstairs and soon, all Shadowhunters ran in the direction of the attack.
"Oh, I will take care of him," Sebastian added with a smirk on his face. "I'll take care of him the best way I can."
Alec had never seen so many demons at one time. It was like a kaleidoscope of demons decided to show up in the Bronx tonight. Ilblises, spider-demons, Scorpios, Raums, Raveners, Kuris, even some Dahaks. And of course they were led by Abbadon, a demon that Alec had had a close encounter with before.
They split in pairs. Maryse and Robert, Izzy and Alec, Jace and Clary, and Valentine.
And so the fight began.
Knives, swords were spooning in Shadowhunters' hands, trying to kill the demons, though it wasn't an easy job. Valentine was ordering everyone, and surprisingly, his tactics worked well. It took a long time, but finally they managed to defeat most of the demons, before they vanished into the night.
And it was strange. They vanished just like that. There was something unsettling in the way that Abbadon looked in the direction which Valentine was standing in, before the Greater demon gathered his inferiors and vanished. Something was strange, like they were communicating, but without words.
And it made Alec a bit suspicious, especially when he remembered Magnus's words about not trusting Valentine.
The Institute was absorbed in silence when they returned before the sunrise. The atmosphere that hung in the air was disturbing. You could easily smell death here. Every sound of the old-wooden clock was echoing through the wall, making the surroundings even more horror-felt.
A salty, metallic scent came to the noses of the Shadowhunters. The familiar scent of blood. As if on a cue, all of them moved into the direction of the smell, straight to the old Sanctuary, the only unsacred ground in the Institute.
Just before Valentine opened the door, they heard a loud moan of pain from inside the place. They took their weapons in their hands and opened the door. But they didn't expect such a view.
Sebastian was sitting on the floor, holding his head with one hand. Around him there was a pool of red liquid – blood. Lots of it. His head was injured, same as his leg. But the blood on the ground didn't belong only to him.
Then they saw…
All Lightwoods' hearts stopped in one second, when Sebastian moved himself to the back of the room. Tears immediately started to run down their cheeks, as they dropped down to their knees on the ground.
There, on the cold ground of the Sanctuary, was laying little Max.
His body lay still, his eyes wide opened with fear painted inside of them. His chest wasn't raising and falling anymore.
In this moment it hit them hard.
Max was dead.
"What…" Robert couldn't even mutter a sentence, when he took his youngest, cold body into his arms, pressing it strongly to his chest.
Maryse was barely holding herself, kneeling next to him, caressing Max's face. Isabelle was shaking in Alec's arms. Jace was standing still, with his heart racing like crazy. And there was Alec, who felt as if his world crushed at once.
"My baby…" Maryse whispered through her tears. "My baby…"
"What happened?!" Jace glared at Sebastian, who now was leaning over Clary.
"I went to check on Max, because he has been awake like me since the alarm…" the boy was explaining, his voice was erratic, he was breathing heavily. "Then I heard something from downstairs. I thought that you came back, but the sound was coming from the Sanctuary. So I took the dagger from the weapons room and went to check it. And Max came after me. When I opened the door, I saw vampires, and I screamed at Max to run upstairs…but he wasn't fast enough… I had managed to defeat three before they knocked me out with a hit on my head…when I woke up, Max was already…"
"Vampires?" Valentine retorted.
"Yes, Raphael Santiago and his clan," he turned to the older man. "He said that we shouldn't have touched his warlock in the first place."
It was just one second, when all of it clicked inside Alec's head, and he launched himself on Valentine, knocking him down. His fist landed hard on the older man's jaw, almost breaking it.
"It's your fault!" he screamed, still punching the man. Jace recovered and tried to get him off of Valentine. "It's your fault! My brother is dead because of you! You killed the warlock! It's your entire fault!"
"No, Alexander. It's Raphael, who killed the young Max," Morgenstern was using his calm voice towards the raged boy. "And we should not let this go off."
Jace took Alec in his arms, rubbing his arms slowly, to comfort him a bit, as the blue eyed boy was hyperventilating. Clary was doing the same with Isabelle now, and Sebastian helped Valentine get up from the floor.
Alec's heart couldn't stop racing, for a moment he was afraid that it would jump out of his chest. He couldn't breathe properly, it was like his throat tightened, blocking the air to his lungs. His heart was shattering into million pieces now, when he looked at the cold body of his baby brother. His legs were about to give up, and if it weren't for Jace, he would have dropped down onto the floor.
A million thoughts ran through his mind at that second, but all he could think of was that he won't see his brother growing up, smiling again. He won't be able to hear his voice again, his laugh. His eyes won't ever shine in that amazing way in the sunlight, like they did before. He won't ever sneak into his bed anymore, when he had a nightmare.
He won't ever hear him saying 'I love you big brother'.
"We need to take Max to the Silent City," Valentine broke the silence filled with sobs. "He deserves a funeral, as a true Shadowhunter."
Red flames were brightening the Silent City. The whole family, plus the Morgensterns and Sebastian, were standing in the graveyard, not far from the family's tomb. They remained silent, only quiet tears and sobs were escaping them. Alec was holding Isabelle in his arms, as Jace was having his arm around Alec's frame. Maryse and Robert stood before them; the male Shadowhunter strongly held his wife, who was shaking the entire time.
Alec was numb for the most part of time; he couldn't let all of the emotions he felt out in that moment. He was feeling rage, pain, sorrow, helplessness. And it was killing him slowly.
It seemed like the worst nightmare for him, a nightmare that he couldn't wake up from. A nightmare that became real.
Within a second something snapped inside of Alec, and his body, mind, heart filled with nothing else than pure rage, and a desire to kill.
Kill Raphael Santiago and the entire clan of vampires. To kill those filthy Downworlders.
"I'm gonna kill them all," he whispered involuntarily.
"We will," Jace squeezed his forearm. "They will pay for our brother's death."
The sleep never came this dawn to Alec, instead he was shaking with tears on his bed. Alone, craving for some comfort. He didn't know what to do, what to think of about what happened. His heart ached, his mind was absorbed by rage, pain and longing.
Without thinking he got up and started to hit the wall. It was amazing for him, to feel the physical pain, and not only the mental one. He could finally let go all of those emotions that bolted inside of him from the moment when the Silent Brothers took Max's ashes to bury them with the rest of the Lightwood's family. With every next hit he remembered everything about his little brother.
How Maryse told him and Izzy that they going to have a new brother or sister. Izzy wanted to have a little sister so she could be best-friends with her. But Alec always wanted a brother. And when Maryse gave a birth to him, he was the one who named him, after their uncle. Two years later, Jace came into their family. And Alec had his full family, like he always wanted. He remembered how he took care of Max whenever Maryse and Robert were away. Or how he read books to him. He was like Hodge, always reading something. Deep down, Alec knew that Max wasn't the fighting-type Shadowhunter. He was too small and too thin. He could have not survived getting marked. So his parents pushed that along. He was nine years old and hadn't had have any mark yet. And now he was gone. He could never get his marks. Never fight with demons. Never find the love of his life, like Alec did. Not that he admitted it.
His both hands were almost broken, when he slid to the floor; back pressed to the wall, now covered with bloody stains; knees brought to his chest.
He didn't know how long he was sitting like that, before he felt that someone raised him and laid him down on the bed. A second later some arms were around him, and he was pressed to something really warm. The scent that surrounded him was familiar, sweet and intoxicating.
When he opened his eyes, he met the cat-like eyes filled with love and concern. Magnus was stroking his hair slowly, whispering sweet nothings to the hunter, soothing his back with one hand.
"Wha…doin…ere" Alec muttered through his sobs.
"I heard what happened, Clary called Simon, and Simon called me. I asked Jace to let me inside," he wiped the tears from Alec's face. "I had to come. I'm so sorry Alec, so sorry."
"You came… for me?" he had a hiccup now.
"I'll always come for you. No matter when it is, the middle of the night or the beginning of the day. I'll always come. I'll come, because you need me. I'll come because I love you. And I want to be there for you in happy moments or in sadness," he kissed Alec's forehead. "Be there to cheer you up, when you need it. Or to comfort you when you're crying. Be there to hold you at night, or to embrace you after a battle. To save you from your fears, or to heal your wounds. I want to hold you and tell you that I love you and I am always going to be there for you. Tell you that I'll never let you go. Tell you that I'm here for you, as long as you need me."
"I need you, now," the Shadowhunter pressed his face to Magnus' chest, gripping strongly his navy blue shirt. "And always."
"I'm here for you, my love."
"He didn't deserve it," Alec was whispering, but Magnus heard him perfectly. "He was just a boy, a little boy. An innocent boy…he shouldn't have killed him. He wanted Valentine not Max…he didn't have to…"
"Shhh," the warlock soothed again.
"I'm going to kill Raphael for it," for a moment Magnus's body stiff against Alec's, but the boy couldn't care less now that the vampire was his lover's friend. "He will die."
"Shhh…" Bane didn't comment it, but continued to soothe the boy, until Alec's body gave up and he fell asleep in his arms, exhausted from crying.
Magnus knew how Alec felt; he knew what is it like to lose someone really close to you. After all, Ragnor was his closest thing to family through centuries, like his brother. He knew how much it hurt, and he felt useless. He didn't want Alec to go through such pain. If he could, he'd take that pain on his shoulders, just to not see his little hunter hurt. He would do anything if he could lessen his pain, but there wasn't anything that he could do, but be there for him and comfort him the best way he could.
After he left the Institute, being careful not to be seen by any other Shadowhunter than Jace, Magnus went straight to the Hotel Dumort. He knew that now the vampires were in their morning rest, but at the moment he didn't care. He will wake the whole clan if he has to. The warlock needed to find out whether it was true.
And he dreaded it, because somewhere in his head, he could believe that Raphael, in his grieve and madness, could attack an innocent child, though he prayed to god and Angels for it not to be true. Otherwise the whole clan will be doomed, and there won't be anything that Magnus could do for Raphael.
It turned out that Raphael wasn't resting like his companions. He found him staring into the photos of him and Ragnor in his bedroom. His skin was strangely pale, paler than usual, eyes black, red dried tears on his cheeks.
"Please, tell me you didn't do it," he closed the door, and looked at the vampire. "Tell me you didn't do it."
"Tell me you didn't kill Max Lightwood," Raphael looked at him confused, when he closed the photo album, and placed it on his bed. "Tell me!"
"What in the Lilith's name are you talking about?!"
"Max Lightwood, a nine year old Shadowhunter was killed by vampires from your clan, and you were with them. They said that you killed him in revenge for Ragnor's death," Magnus breathed out, with erratic breaths. "Tell me you didn't do it!"
"I didn't touch any child. I'm not a monster," he stated, looking into Magnus's eyes. "Tell me, what did he look like," when Magnus didn't say a word, but his eyes showed silent questions, Raphael continued. "The dead child, was he drained?"
"No. There was a lot of blood around him, but he had two marks from fangs," Magnus sat down on the wooden chair in the corner of the room "That's what I've been told."
"We never leave our victim with blood in their system. Our victims are always drained; no matter the species," Santiago's voice was distant. "I didn't kill him, nor did any of my people."
"Then what happened? Who killed the boy?"
"And who was with him at the Institute?" Magnus tried to recall if Alec had said it to him.
"Some other boy, Sebastian his name is, injured. He couldn't go on a mission tonight…" for a moment they both were silent, eyeing each other. "There was a demon attack…do you think it was planned? That someone killed the boy and tried to put this on you and your people?"
"Yes," he ran his hand through his short hair. "The question is, who?"
"Whoever it was now is not the matter," Magnus said before he opened the door of Raphael's bedroom. "What matters is that the Shadowhunters believe it's you and your clan. And I know that you have to prepare yourself. They will come here, they will come for revenge."