Truth and Deceit
"Please. Not my back. The burns..."
"You're perfect, Alec."
Lips hungrily pressed against mine. Fingers trailed across my abdomen, igniting my entire body on fire. Passion blazed in my blood. My mouth was on his. My mouth was on his skin. His mouth was on me...
Hands on my hips, in my hair...
A flash of silver...
...the soft press of the mattress at my back as he hovered over me...
Blood. Hot and crimson with desire...
My fingers splayed across his hip...My fingers coiled around the knife...
Passion-fueled panting turned to labored gasps for air.
"What did I do? What did I do? What did I do? What did I do what did I do whatdidIdowhatdidIdo..."
No control...Darkness...Blood...A strangled cry...
Heat flooded through me, but no longer stemming from pleasure. My skin sizzled with fever. What fueled the fire was...rage.
"I hate you."
I was suddenly launched back into consciousness, breathing hard and sweating. When my vision cleared, I found myself staring into Magnus's yellow-green eyes. His hand reached up to touch my face and I recoiled.
"Ssh, Alec," Magnus whispered. "It's okay."
I cringed away when he reached for me again, but my body met a resistance. My attention was drawn to the silver bracelets cuffed over my wrists. My arms were spread wide, each shackle bound to a length of chains leading to opposite sides of the roof. I tugged against them and the chains clinked but held strong, securing me in the center of the floor.
"What the--" The words died on my lips as I struggled against my restraints, panicked.
"Alec!" Magnus took my face in both of his hands and angled my wide eyes towards his. "It's okay. Everything is all right."
"All right?" I cried, hysterical. "Nothing about this is all right! I'm in chains!"
Magnus dropped his hands and looked away. "We had to."
I stilled. "You did this? Why?"
Jace stepped into my field of vision, his expression solemn. "It was for our protection, Alec."
I couldn't help but notice the wide berth my parabatai had given me. Something flickered in his golden eyes. Was that...fear?
"Your protection?" I blinked. "What-- I don't understand."
"What do you remember about last night, Alec?" Magnus asked.
"If this is some kind of joke, it's not funny."
"What," Magnus said, his voice firm, "do you remember about last night?"
My eyes dropped to the floor as I dug through my memories, scouring for the events of the night before. The recollections flickered, some clear as crystalline water, others murky. It was a challenge to decipher which images were real and which ones were fashioned from my subconscious.
"We were--" I hesitated, a flush creeping up my cheeks as I caught Jace's gaze from across the room.
"Hey." Magnus blocked my view of my parabatai. "It's just you and me. What do you remember?"
I shifted, uncomfortable. "We were...you know, and I told you not to touch my back."
"What happened next?"
"I don't know. Everything is hazy."
Magnus cupped my cheek and said gently, "Try harder, Alec."
I closed my eyes, surrendering myself to my memories. Images of Magnus danced in my mind. The feel of his hands against my skin lingered. The curve of his muscles was carved into my brain; it was as though I could trace them without actually touching him. The taste of him was exquisite, the flavor of forbidden fruit.
A thick cloud hung over my reminiscence. I could still see Magnus, but it was like looking at him through a window covered in smudges and smears. My hands no longer moved at my own accord; there was no warmth of his flesh under my fingertips. My thoughts were travelling a mile a minute, yet I was not thinking at all. I could not stop myself, but a twisted shadow in my mind did not want to stop. I became hollow, a shell manipulated by possession.
My vision sharpened, as if I had passed through the grubby window. Magnus was looking up at me, his mouth open in a silent cry and his eyes wide and teary, filled with incredulity and pain. As his hands fell away, so did any warmth that flowed through me. I had gone from standing under the blazing sun in the peak of summer to being dunked in a frozen lake in the middle of winter. The chill bit at my bones as my eyes fell on the knife protruding from Magnus's stomach.
My sight flickered. Clear. Blurry. My emotions alternated. Ecstasy. Rage. Perplexity. Trepidation. Screams rammed against my skull; not even my hands clamped over my ears could drown them out. I was lost inside myself, unable to discern what was real and what wasn't.
"I--I must have fallen asleep."
"Why do you say that?" Magnus whispered.
"Everything is blurry. I'm only catching glimpses." I opened my eyes. "I had a dream that I hurt you. Well, it was me...but it wasn't. I couldn't control myself. There was something else inside of me, something angry. It moved my hands, it spoke with my voice...it kissed you."
Magnus's brow furrowed. "Alec, do you remember going to get a glass of water?"
I thought deeply. "Yeah. I put the empty glass in the sink and I looked at the cutlery drawer. The next thing I knew I was walking back into the bedroom."
Magnus nodded and offered a smile that did not reach his eyes. "All right. That's enough."
When he took a step back I pulled at the chains. "Wait! Where are you going?"
"I'm just stepping out to speak with Jace. I'll be right back," he promised.
"Magnus, take the chains off. Please."
The warlock's eyes glistened, his face lined with misery and hurt. "I can't."
"Magnus..." I choked, as if he'd backhanded me.
He pressed his lips against my forehead and held them there, his fingers at the back of my neck. All too soon, he turned away and strode towards the door, Jace in tow. I called out to him desperately, but my words bounced off his back and he walked out without a single glance over his shoulder.
I released a cry of frustration and wrenched against the chains. My wrists and shoulders screamed in protest. I pulled harder, the pain bringing tears to my eyes. I let them slide down my cheeks, matching the blood weeping from my wrists where the shackles chafed my skin. The chain links clinked against each other, a taunting laugh. I screamed.
My body stilled. My ears strained in the silence, trying to listen above the rapid thumping of my heart. The room was empty of any furniture; it was impossible for anyone to be hiding. I glanced over my shoulders, twisting my body as far as my restraints would allow me. I was alone.
I stiffened, the hairs on the back of my neck rising. I know that voice... My eyes slammed shut. You're going crazy. You're imagining things.
"I know you can hear me." His voice in my head was as clear as if he was standing at my side.
My eyes widened. "Sebastian?"
A chuckle echoed inside my head. "I've missed the sound of your voice, Alec. How are you?"
I nervously scanned the room again. "Where--How--?"
"As much as I wish I was in the room with you, your little warlock took extra care to keep me out," Sebastian spat.
"This isn't real," I whispered.
"I beg to differ."
"How am I hearing your voice?"
I could hear the smirk in Sebastian's snide remark, "You're not the only one with a warlock wrapped around his finger."
I opened my mouth to call for Magnus, but Sebastian cut me off.
"How have you been holding up, Alec?"
"Oh, come now," Sebastian chided. "We had so much fun together. How could you forget? When was the last time you got some sleep?"
"Get the hell out of my head, you deranged bastard!"
"How did you get those scars, Alec? What clever little story did your boy toy and pathetic excuse for a Shadowhunter come up with?"
I hesitated, my blood chilling.
"I knew it," Sebastian said triumphantly. "Your friends have been naughty."
"What are you talking about?" I demanded. "I got my scars from a demon."
"How about your broken leg?"
"I fell down some stairs." I blinked and cursed at myself inwardly for answering so quickly.
Sebastian laughed. "Classic."
I gritted my teeth. "I don't have to listen to you. You're a murderer and a manipulative son of a bitch."
"That may be," he said, "but admit it, Alec. You want to hear what I have to say."
"No, I don't." My voice wavered.
"Your friends have been keeping secrets from you. Are you aware that Magnus has blocked your memories?"
My eyes darted to the door. "He would never."
"Tell me what I did to you, Alec."
I recoiled from his words. "What?"
"Tell me how I tortured you until you begged for death. Tell me how I locked you inside a box and slowly filled it with water. Tell me how I cut you open, had you beaten, had you injected with demon blood."
Bile crept up my throat. "You're lying."
"I burned you twice on your back. Once on your shoulder blade and once farther down. I can still hear your screams, Alec. Like music to my ears."
"Shut up!" I cried, my thoughts whirling in a tornado of truth and deceit.
"Tell me, Alec, how are you faring? Any bursts of uncontrollable rage lately? Do you find yourself tuning in and out of reality?"
My heart skipped a beat. "How do you know about that?"
"Oh, I'm well aware of the side effects of the demon blood I injected you with."
Despite the chill I felt, my body broke out in sweat. I tugged against the chains again.
"Magnus thinks you're weak," Sebastian went on. "Hence the reason he put that block in your mind. You're anything but weak, Alec. And you're going to become much stronger. You will prove Magnus and Jace wrong, and it's a lesson they won't soon forget."
Something in his voice stabbed fear through me. "What the hell are you planning?"
"Every second that ticks by, your control over your own body and mind will slip farther away. As your control fades, your anger will escalate. Of course, all that rage will have to be unleashed."
"I'll never let that happen."
"That is not your choice," Sebastian growled. "And when it does happen, you're going to do something for me, Alec."
My legs trembled, threatening to give out beneath me. I wrapped my fingers around the chains and clenched them until my knuckles turned white. I already knew what he was going to say.
"Yes. You are going to kill Jace Herondale and Magnus Bane."