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Lightwood-Bane Slices of Life

Chapter Text

Shrieking, high-pitched laughter coming from the living room woke Magnus with a start. Blinking his eyes against the early morning light filtering through the window, he calmed at the sound of deep chuckles in response to the earlier shrieks. Realizing that Alec had woken up with Max and let him sleep in, Magnus settled back against the pillows. Scrubbing a hand against his face, he couldn’t help but smile at the sounds coming down from the hall.

Deciding that being separated from his Alexander and Blueberry while they were having fun just would not do, Magnus slid out of bed and slipped on an oriental silk robe before joining his men in the living room. He paused in the living room doorway to take in the sight of Alec and Max playing one of their favorite games. Alec stood with his legs braced shoulder-width apart with Max balanced in his arms, one hand firmly place around the 1 ½ year old’s bottom and the other gently supporting his head and neck, as Alec bent at the waist and gave Max Eskimo kisses only to haul him up against his chest and bounce him around. Both the Shadowhunter and the blue skinned warlock had matching grins on their faces when Alec feigned a look of surprise before dipping Blueberry again. Once he was upright against Alec again, Max let out a happy giggle.

Catching sight of his Papa against the door, Max squealed in a burst of babbles and waving of arms as a good morning greeting. Alec glanced over from kissing Max’s temple, a sly grin forming on his lips at the sight of his boyfriend. “Hey,” Alec chuckled, “did we wake you?”

With a smile, Magnus pushed off the doorway to stand next to his boyfriend and son. He slid an arm around Alec’s waist, taking a moment to appreciate the sight of the shirtless man in faded, dark sweatpants. Allowing his eyes to trail up Alec’s rune covered chest, a wry smile matched Alec’s cocked eyebrow.

“No better way to wake up, Darling,” he said, tilting his face up for a kiss. Alec obliged him and shifted Max on his hip. “And good morning to you, too,” he added, turning to Max and tickling the toddler’s stomach. Max giggled before turning into Alec’s neck. With a grin, he remained snuggled against his Daddy’s neck, but made a grabby hand for his Papa.

“Are you flirting with your Papa?" Alec joked, jostling Max on his hip. He received another round of laughter and babbling chatter in response. Magnus leaned into Max to give him his own round of Eskimo kisses, delighting in the scrunched up face of his son. Alec smiled at the sight. When Magnus straightened back up, Alec nodded to the kitchen. “Coffee’s still fresh if you want some.”

With a pleased groan, Magnus pressed a kiss against his boyfriend’s cheek before making his way to the kitchen. “You’re an angel, Darling.”

“Only half,” Alec called back in retort as he made his way to the breakfast nook to get Max situated in his high chair. Magnus passed a pouch of puréed fruit from the fridge to Alec as he drank from his coffee cup and slid into the dining chair next to him. Alec twisted off the pouch’s cap and gave it to Max, allowing the toddler to feed himself. Alec moved to get his own coffee cup as Magnus made faces at Max, switching between glamoured and unglamoured eyes, causing the toddler to bang on his high chair at his Papa. Alec rolled his eyes at his boyfriend’s antics, but slung an arm around the back of Magnus’ chair, allowing his hand to settle on the back of his boyfriend’s neck.

Resting his chin in the palm of his hand, Magnus turned to Alec, eyes still flashing between glamoured and unglamoured, and wiggled his eyebrows at his boyfriend. Alec snorted into his coffee cup and shook his head in disbelief. Yep, Magnus thought, leaning back into Alec’s hand idly stroking at his neck, no better way to wake up.

Chapter Text

The cry cut through the silence of the apartment. In the master bedroom, both parents groaned at the sound. Max Lightwood-Bane had been teething recently and left both of his fathers more sleep deprived than ever.

“I’ll get him,” Alec grumbled as he shifted out of bed. Setting his feet on the floor, Alec shook his head as if the action could shake away the last remnants of sleep. Magnus turned toward Alec’s back and lazily patted, more thumped, his back in thanks and encouragement. Letting his arm drop, Magnus flopped onto his stomach and curled back around his pillow. Pushing off the bed, Alec slipped into a pair of sweats that had been discarded on the floor before lumbering his way to Max’s bedroom.

Fumbling at the light switch, Alec had to blink for a moment or two before his eyes adjusted to the sight of small, blanket-swaddled limbs flailing at the air. Moving closer to Max’s crib, Alec leaned down to smooth away the angry furrows on Max’s forehead. “Hey Blueberry, what’s wrong? You hungry? New tooth?”

Alec leaned over to scoop Max into his arms and adjust him so he rested against Alec’s shoulder. Gently rocking Max, Alec kissed his son’s forehead as his cries slowly subsided to soft whimpers as he recognized his Daddy’s presence. Alec leaned his head back for a moment before running his forefinger over Max’s gums, checking for new teeth that may have emerged. Max gnawed on his finger, trying to relieve some of the pressure in his mouth. Not finding any evidence of new teeth, Alec pulled his finger out of Max’s mouth, wiping it off on his sweat pants.

“Doesn’t look like a new tooth. Guess you’re hungry, huh?” Alec chuckled, running his hand through Max’s thick, navy curls. He stopped when he noticed something sticky coming off on his fingers and pulled his hand back to look at it. Reddish, brown smears streaked his fingers. Blood.

“MAGNUS!” Alec called, not looking toward the door, but in fact checking Max for any sign of injury. A series of thumps were followed by running footfalls before Magnus slid into the nursery, cat eyes aglow and magic seeping from his palms ready to attack whatever had caused his Shadowhunter to call out to him. Not turning around to look at Magnus, Alec gestured to Max with a nod of his head, “He’s bleeding, but I can’t tell from where.”

Magnus allowed his magic to recede back into his body and moved closer to Alec’s side in order to perform his own inspection of his son. Deftly combing his fingers through Max’s hair, Magnus searched for the source of the bleeding. “Could Chairman Meow have accidently scratched him?” Alec asked above his head. The cat had become quite protective of the baby and had a habit of sleeping in Max’s crib at night.

Magnus shook his head in response. “No, Darling. Chairman Meow has been sleeping at the foot of the bed all night. We would have heard Max crying before now if this had been caused by the Chairman.”

Alec grunted in agreement as Magnus continued to search. There! Close to Max’s temple hidden in his hairline, there was a small sore, slightly scabbed over that had begun bleeding again. Checking on the other side, Magnus found a companion sore about the same size. Stepping back from Alec, he looked up worriedly as he said, “I’m calling Catarina.”

An emergency fire message and portal later, Max was being examined by Catarina as he sat in Magnus’ lap on the living room couch. Alec sat next to Magnus, holding up a teething ring to Max to help distract him from Catarina’s inspection. Catarina wore latex gloves and held a pen light in one hand as she used a cotton ball soaked with saline solution to help clean the area around the scab. Max let out a whine when she pressed the cotton ball against the wound. Both parents’ heads jerked up to Catarina at Max’s cry, but she simply shook her head. “I can definitely feel something underneath.”

Setting the cotton ball on the coffee table, Catarina shown her pen light closer to Max’s head. After a visual examination and some gentle probing, Catarina hummed to herself before moving to the other side of Max’s head to repeat the cleaning process. After a secondary cleaning and probing as well as some mild fussing from Max, she relaxed against the couch letting out a small chuckle. “Well Magnus, it looks like Max here is in the process of growing horns.”

Magnus and Alec looked at each other before looking back to her. “Horns?” Alec asked.

“Horns,” Catarina confirmed. She moved forward to take off her gloves and place them on the coffee table. “To be honest, I’m not surprised. Horns are made of bone. It would make sense that they would present around the same time as Max getting his baby teeth.”

Both men took a moment to process what Catarina had just told them. Max decided to let out a high pitched squeal, as if agreeing with her assessment. On autopilot, Alec wiped at the drool on the baby’s chin from him gurgling around the teething ring. The action seemed to help snap him back to reality. “So what do we do now?”

“Keep the area around where the horns are emerging cleaned twice a day,” Catarina remarked, “but don’t use hydrogen peroxide. It causes the wounds to heal over and anything caught in the cut can create an infection. It will cause him that much more pain when the horns have to push through the scabs as well.

“Treat this with the same care as an ear piercing. Something you should be well aware of, my friend,” Catarina added, flicking at Magnus’ ear. “In general, watch for any sign of infection around his horns. If you see anything, call me immediately.”

“Thank you,” said Magnus, voice deep with gratitude. Alec nodded his agreement next to him.

Glancing at the antique clock on the wall, Catarina grimaced at the late time - or early morning rather. Standing up, she began to collect her things. “If that’s all, I’m going to head on. Unfortunately, some of us have to report to the Emergency Room in a couple of hours.”

Magnus stood up as well, shifting Max against his hip. “Let me create a portal for you,” he said, gesturing to the foyer.

“Thank you. I’d appreciate it,” she replied, following him into the foyer. With a dramatic wave of his hand, a portal began taking shape. Turning back to her friend, she affectionately ruffled Max’s hair. Max made some noises of protest and snuggled closer to his Papa’s shoulder; he was quite done with people touching his head that night. Chuckling at Max’s antics, Catarina looked up at Magnus in amusement. “Really Magnus, you of all people should know the signs of horns growth. How many centuries have you been alive now?”

Magnus narrowed his eyes at her. “If it was any other warlock child, yes. But, he’s my son,” his voice hitched in awe, “My son… if anything were to happen to him, I’d- I’d-" Magnus shook his head as his voice failed him, thinking of the possibilities.

“I understand," she said, laying a comforting hand on Magnus’ shoulder. Magnus sighed and closed his eyes in relief as he nuzzled Max’s head. Catarina gripped Magnus’ shoulder for a moment before giving it a quick few pats. “I’ll see you soon, okay. And next time you have a parental panic attack,” she said as she stepped backwards into the portal, “call Tessa!”

Magnus rolled his eyes as he waved goodbye. Once Catarina passed through the portal, it blinked out of existence. He turned and made his way back to the living room to join Alec. Magnus chuckled at the sight of Alec half-asleep with his head lulled on the back of the couch. Not opening his eyes, Alec asked, “We’re not going back to bed, are we?”

Magnus glanced at the antique clock. “Hmm, as much as I’d hate to say it, it’s closer to the start of the day by this point. It would be almost useless to go back to sleep now. I think everyone has had too much excitement tonight. Isn’t that right, Blueberry?” cooed Magnus to the baby. Max stared at his Papa for a moment before a look of concentration came across his face. “Wait, I know that look. Don’t – ,“ Magnus broke off and clenched his mouth as he felt the weight underneath his hands grow and a well-known fragrance of a spoiled diaper filled the air. “Don’t poop while Papa’s holding you.”

Alec cracked an eye open to stare at the pair. Magnus stood there in the middle of the living room barefoot, wearing a neon pink Pandemonium crop top with a growing drool mark courtesy of Max, sweatpants Alec was pretty sure were his due to the way they slung low on Magnus’ hips to allow his red boxers to show, and hair in disarray falling in his face. A face that was staring in disbelief and slight disgust at the small blue-skinned baby he held. Max was dressed in a rubber duck-themed, footed one-piece pajama and was quickly growing more and more frustrated with his situation given the way his legs kept kicking at Magnus’ stomach.

Alec couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing at the sight, falling over on his side on the couch. Magnus turned to glare at his boyfriend.

“I’ll have you know I have summoned demons from some of the foulest smelling bogs of hell that don’t even have a hope of ever smelling as bad as YOUR son’s diapers.”

Alec had to take a moment to laugh at that thought before pulling himself together enough to say, “How about this – if you go change his diaper, I’ll make the coffee.”

“Thank you for that lovely choice,” retorted Magnus, voice dripping with sarcasm as he began to move down the hallway to Max’s bedroom. “Two sugars-“

“And milk!” Alec supplied as he made his way to the kitchen and the coffee pot. Alec took a moment to appreciate the murmur of Magnus telling their son tales of summoning bog demons before he went about the process of making coffee. There were worse ways to start the day he supposed.

Chapter Text

The New York Institute was buzzing with activity as the morning shift ended and Shadowhunters began to prepare for the afternoon shift. Alec, Jace, Izzy, and Lydia stood at the hologram table, mapping out demonic and rogue Downworlder activity assigning teams to deal with problems as needed.

“Raj and his team can take the Shax nest in the Waldorf Astoria, the parabatai team of Glenhollow and Mastlake can mediate the Seelies and mermaids in Central Park,” Lydia pointed to each landmark as she assigned teams. “Izzy, can you pair with Clary to handle the rogue werewolf attacks in Queens?” At Izzy’s nod, she continued, “Reach out Maia and Luke if need be. Alec and Jace, I need you to work with Lily regarding an incident of yin fen being distributed to mundanes.”

Alec stood arms akimbo, as he studied the map like pieces of a chess board. He didn’t need to look at Jace to confirm that he was fine with being included in the meeting with Lily. Running a hand over the stubble that grew quickly on his jaw, he pointed to a zone just south of the Waldorf Astoria. “Have a patrol here as well,” he added. “With the Waldorf Astoria closed for renovations, the shax demons may be hiding a larger rogue group of vampires or Ravenger demons. It’s best that Raj and his team have back up if need be.”

Lydia assessed the board and nodded. “Good point. I’ll make sure to have a team in the nearby area.”

Jace braced both hands on the table and nodded to Central Park. “Can Magnus help with the mediation? I know he has good relationships with the mermaids.”

“Can’t,” Alec replied. “Three reasons – one, he has clients most of the afternoon. Two, he’s watching Max this morning.”

“And three?” his parabatai asked.

“Three,” Alec retorted, ticking off with his fingers “you can’t afford him.”

Stifled snorts of laughter came from Izzy and Lydia, hidden behind hands over mouths and bitten lips. Jace glared unamused at a triumphant Alec, when Alec’s phone began to chirp from inside his pocket.

“This is Alec,” he answered, still lording over the fact he pulled one on Jace.

“Alexander!” Magnus’ voice did not hold his usual cheery disposition when talking with his boyfriend. Instead it was brisk urgency. “You have to get back to the loft immediately. It’s an emergency. I’ll have a portal waiting for you at the front of the Institute.”

“Magnus! An emergency? What’s going on?” Three heads turned to attention at Alec’s conversation, bodies priming to move quickly.

“Just hurry!” Magnus implored. “Max, wait, don’t do that-”

“Magnus? Magnus!” The line went dead in Alec’s ear. Taking a trembling breath, he gripped the phone in his hand. “I’ve got to go. Something’s wrong with Magnus.”

“I’m coming with you,” Jace stated.

“Me, too,” Izzy agreed, her whip already loosening on her wrist.

“Go,” Lydia nodded toward the Institute front doors. “I’ll reassign teams and make sure everything is covered.”

Alec nodded his thanks before stalking to the armory to grab his bow and quiver. Jace snatched a seraph blade off the wall at random and Izzy grabbed a stiletto to tuck into her boots. As a unit, they hurried out of the Institute to the portal waiting for them on the front lawn.

Alec cautiously stepped through the portal and into the foyer of the loft he shared with his boyfriend and son, bow notched against any would be enemies. Jace and Izzy stepped out behind him, both Shadowhunters fanning out, weapons at the ready.

Only to walk in on Magnus sitting on the living room floor with his legs sprawled in front of him, Max wobbly standing in between his Papa’s legs, surrounded by the child’s toys. Max was dressed in a monkey themed, gray onesie, using Magnus’ hands to help him balance as he reached for nearby toys. Magnus looked completely at home in a pair of well worn jeans - knees long since frayed away to allow the warlock’s legs to show through, an old gimme PRIDE shirt with the words Say Hi If You’re Bi printed in the colors of the bisexual flag, and his faux hawk French braided into a ponytail out of his face.…. and both of them completely safe from any immediate harm.

All three Shadowhunters scanned the room for hidden dangers before they would relax enough to put away their weapons.

“Magnus,” Alec said slowly, as he cautiously entered further into the room, “want to tell me how this is an emergency?”

Cat-eyes glimmered with glee from behind the baby. Magnus placed a hand on Max’s stomach and gently shook him to get his attention. “Look, Blueberry,” he cooed, pointing in Alec’s direction, “there’s Daddy. Say hi to Daddy.”

Max turned around to follow the direction of Magnus’ finger to focus on his father. A delighted babble and waving of his arms greeted Alec, but then Max used one unsteady leg after another, still using Magnus’ hands as a support, to toddle toward his father. Alec looked from his son to his boyfriend with a watery gasp, or maybe the gasp came from Izzy behind him, before crouching down closer to Max. Once Max had reached the end of Magnus’ arm span, the blue-skinned warlock waved a hand for his Daddy, but Alec remained a couple of feet away from him.

“Come here, Blueberry,” Alec encouraged when Max let out a frustrated whine. He motioned with both hands trying to entice Max away from Magnus. Max continued to reach for his father, but refused to leave Magnus’ support, growing more and more frustrated. “Come on, Max, you can do it.”

Suddenly, Alec felt a new weight in his hands and almost fumbled away the teething biscuit treat his boyfriend had summoned into his hands. Once he had a proper grip on the cookie, and had passed a silent message to his boyfriend to warn him next time, Alec used the bribe to draw Max further and further away from Magnus’ grip, until with uncoordinated steps he slowly made his way to his prize, falling into Alec’s lap in the end.

Alec pulled his son into a hug, but soon received a displeased whine from Max for withholding his treat. From behind him, Alec could hear his brother’s and sister’s cries of encouragement – “Max, my man!” from Jace and Izzy squeal of excitement that she had caught it all on video. Max had plopped himself into Alec’s lap, mouthing on the teething biscuit looking around at the commotion that surrounded him with mild interest. Alec’s hand came around to support Max by the stomach as he dropped a kiss on his head.

Alec looked over his son’s head at his boyfriend, who now half-laid, half-sprawled on the floor supported by his forearm. A grin split his face in half as he stared at their son enjoying his treat. “So this constitutes as an emergency?” Alec mused.

“But of course, darling,” Magnus purred. “To miss your son’s first steps would have been a travesty!”

Alec wanted to laugh along with the warlock, but something in him still harkened back to his earlier terror from when he first received Magnus’ phone call. By this point, Izzy and Jace had settled on either side of him, trying to convince their nephew to come to them instead the other sibling. Alec settled Max in the middle of the two, mumbling, “Give them one more reason to spoil you,” before standing and making his way over to his boyfriend. Holding out a hand to help him stand up, Alec nodded to the master bedroom. “Let’s talk.”

Realizing that something had bothered his boyfriend, Magnus quickly stood up and followed him to the bedroom, trusting Jace and Izzy to watch after Max. Leaving the door ajar just enough to hear in case either of Alec’s siblings needed help – but closed enough to give the parents privacy, Magnus turned to Alec suddenly worried. “Is everything alright, my love?”

Something in his comment broke a dam in Alec. Alec pulled Magnus into a desperate hug, releasing a trembling breath into his neck. Magnus, surprised by the fierceness of Alec’s grip, slowly brought his hands up and down Alec’s back, trying to soothe the Shadowhunter. After a moment or two, Alec took a deep breath and composed himself enough to face Magnus, who was searching his boyfriend’s face for what could have caused him to be like this.

“Mags,” Alec began, “please never do something like this again. As much as I loved being here for Max’s first steps, when you called and I couldn’t get a answer from you, I… I thought both of you were in trouble… or hurt. It… it terrified me.”

“Oh, Alexander,” Magnus whispered before cupping his face and peppering it with kisses. Leaning his forehead against his boyfriend’s, Magnus sighed, “I am so sorry. I didn’t even think. Max had.. he’d been using the coffee table to get around and almost fell and hit his head on it. I hung up so quickly in order to catch him.”

Alec let out a humorless chuckle having become well accustomed to the potential accidents Max could have since he had become more mobile. Hands darting out to keep soft heads from bumping into furniture had Magnus threatening to redecorate with foam furniture until Max was old enough to enter kindergarten at least once a week.

Magnus ran soothing hands up and down Alec's arms. “I really am sorry,” he continued to apologize. “I promise in the future not to claim it's an emergency unless it actually is one. Blood, demon attacks, and magical catastrophes included.”

“Thank you,” Alec whispered, leaning forward to catch Magnus’ lips.

About that time, Izzy tapped on the master door, Max on her hip. “Alec, as much as I'd hate to break this up, we’re still on the clock.”

Alec sighed and took a step back from his boyfriend. “Yeah, okay,” he acknowledged, running a hand over his face.

Magnus moved to pick up his son from his aunt and followed the Shadowhunters to the foyer. Seeing his parabatai leaning grumpily against the wall, Alec raised his eyebrow. “Max went to Izzy, didn't he?”

Izzy smiled with pride as Jace crossed his arms and grumbled, “She used her necklace to sway him.”

Izzy stuck out a hip. “It's not my fault Magnus taught him good taste,” she retorted, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

“Bribery and glittery things will get you everywhere in life, young Herondale,” Magnus remarked. “Especially with babies.”

Jace muttered something underneath his breath, but it was covered up by the sound of Alec clapping his hands for attention. “As Izzy mentioned, we are due back at the Institute. And Jace and I have paperwork to fill out before our meeting with Lily.” Turning to his boyfriend, he asked in a much softer tone, “Magnus, do you mind?”

“Not at all, darling,” Magnus replied, waving his hand to create a portal.

Jace and Izzy paused in front of the portal, waiting for Alec.
“Head on, I'll be right there.”

His siblings nodded and stepped through the portal. Alec stood next to Magnus and their son. “I love you both, so much,” he said, kissing Magnus and Max goodbye.

“I love you, too,” Magnus replied, squeezing Alec’s hand. “Be safe.”

Alec nodded, his face solemn. As he walked toward the portal, Magnus lifted Max's arm in wave goodbye. Alec smirked and gave his own wave of goodbye in return as he stepped through the portal.

Magnus took a deep breath and looked down at Max who had become fascinated with the lettering on his shirt. “Alright, Blueberry,” he said, “we need to have a gentlemen’s agreement between you and me. No more scaring Daddy.”

Max babbled and gestured to the floor.

“Yeah, I agree,” Magnus replied, kissing his son’s head before letting him down to crawl over to his toys.

Chapter Text

After a day of dealing with Clave officials, Alec Lightwood did not want to be greeted with the sounds of his son crying before he even reached the front door of the Brooklyn loft he shared with his boyfriend. Sighing, he opened the front door and put his gear away in the console table that was spelled to keep curious warlock babies from shiny seraph blades.

Following the sounds of Max’s cries to the living room, he saw his boyfriend sitting on the couch in cranberry jeans and a black shirt with glittery, silver font on it. Magnus stared at his phone and absently patting Max’s back as he stood between Magnus’ legs, using the couch to help him balance. “Yes, yes,” he consoled nonchalantly as Max cried louder into his tantrum, “it’s the end of the world. How dare I?”

“How dare you what?” asked Alec as he moved to sit next to Magnus.

“Alexander!” Looking up from his phone, a grin broke across Magnus’ face at the sight of his boyfriend. He leaned over to press a quick kiss to his boyfriend’s lips. “I would say welcome home, but someone hasn’t had the best of afternoons today,” he mentioned, nodding to Max. Max’s cries had decreased in volume, but the sniffling continued. Recognizing someone else who could console him besides his Papa, Max lifted his arms to his Daddy in a request to be held.

Alec lifted the crying toddler into his lap, allowing Max to seek refuge into his shoulder. Gently rubbing his back as the cries decreased to hiccups, he simply looked at Magnus in question. “So what brought this on?”

“Hmm,” Magnus said, looking up from where Max was curled into his Daddy. “Oh! He’s been trying to get into my ingredient supplies all afternoon and is quite put out that I wouldn’t let him play with them. More than anything,” he continued, passing a hand through Max’s hair, "I think he’s tired. He wouldn’t go down for his nap this afternoon.”

Alec hummed in agreement. He leaned back to swipe at his baby’s tear stained cheeks. “Hey Blueberry, what’s wrong? Is Papa not letting you be naughty?” Max gave a tired rub at his eyes before collapsing back against his father. “I’m going to take that as a yes.”

Magnus’ phone buzzed in his hands. Checking the message, he groaned. “Darling, I know you just got home, but could you handle Blueberry for the next few minutes? I have a client that is being absolutely asinine.”

“How about this? I’ll give Max his bath and get him ready for bed. After you finish with your client, call for takeout. I don’t feel like cooking after today.”

“Will the Italian place down the street do?” Magnus asked already turning back to his phone.

“Sounds perfect. Order a chicken carbonara for me,” Alec said standing up from the couch. He picked up one of Max’s toys from the coffee table and passed it to him.

Magnus made a sound of acknowledgement and rolled his eyes when a call came into his phone. He flashed the screen at Alec so he could see it was the client calling. “Inpatient bastard," the warlock muttered under his breath. Answering the call, he made his way into his work room, shutting the door behind him.

Alec set Max on the floor. “Come on, Blueberry,” he said in a cheerful voice, nodding to the hallway towards the bedrooms, "let’s go take a bath!”

Max waddled to the bathroom, toy held in both hands in front of him, as Alec followed at a slower pace. In the bathroom, Max headed for the small bucket of bath toys kept next to the tub and Alec tested the water before allowing the tub to begin to fill up. Crouching next to the tub, Alec undressed Max in-between the boy individually picking up toys and throwing them in the tub before turning to grin at his Daddy and repeat the process. Once he had stripped Max down to his diaper, Alec let him continue to throw toys into the bath tub while he prepared towels and a small pitcher of water. Once the tub was full, Alec quickly divested Max of his diaper before carefully lowering him into the bathtub.

Max went right for one of his favorite bath toys, a light up pirate ship, and sat down into the water as Alec kneeled next to the tub. As the pirate ship came into contact with the water, it would light up making Max coo and lift it up to show off to Alec, who would murmur the proper amount of amazement. As Alec began to shampoo Max’s hair, a mischievous grin stole across the little warlock’s face. Grabbing a plastic red cube in the hand not holding his pirate ship, Max raised both hands over his head with every intent on slamming the toys onto the water’s surface. Only for both of his hands to be caught in one of his father’s before they could reach the water.

“Don’t even think about it, Max,” Alec chided. “No splashing. Now lean back.” Alec released Max’s hands in order to tip the toddler’s head back to wash out the shampoo with the pitcher of water. The toddler shook his head to dislodge any extra water. Alec had to quickly dodge the resulting spray to remain dry. “Max.”

Max glanced up at the warning in his father's voice. Max grinned at his father's pointed look and resumed his dunking of his pirate ship. Alec sighed as he squirted baby wash into a washcloth, gently running it up and down Max's torso and arms.

"Come on, Blueberry, stand up," Alec grunted as he hauled Max up by the arm pits, "Gotta wash those legs."

Max squealed with laughter, stomping around in the water, while Alec kept a hand on his rib cage to help him balance. Catching first one foot and then the other to rub nail polished toes clean, Alec's lips twitched. "Did you and Papa play beauty parlor today?"

Max answered in another round of stomps and giggles. Alec shook his head and cupped water over the toddler to wash away lingering suds. Once deeming him thoroughly clean, Alec scooped Max up and placed him on the bath mat before wrapping him up in a fox-themed hooded towel. After draining the tub and rubbing Max dry, Alec wrapped him up to hitch him on his hip and headed to the nursery.

He laid Max on the changing table and quickly had him situated in a fresh diaper for the night. Once he was done, he placed Max on the floor to play for a bit as he dug through the dresser for pajamas and a zippered sleep blanket. With items in hand, he turned around to find he was missing the most important part - the baby.

Throwing the items in his hands over the bars of the crib, he called out for his son. "Max? Where'd you go, bud?"

He started checking underneath the crib when the sound of something be dragged across the floor from outside th nursery caught his attention. Alec made his way out to living room and had to sigh with displeasure as he found his son. Max was in the process of trying to push one of the sitting chairs by the chess table over to Magnus' ingredient cabinet. Alec allowed him to butt the chair against the cabinet before he snatched him up. "Gotcha!"

Max let out a disgruntled whine before trying to reach out to the cabinet again. "Uh-uh," Alec chided, as he pulled Max closer to his body. Turning the baby to face him, he tried to look the wiggling warlock in the eyes. "Is this what you've been doing to Papa all day?"

When Max tried one more time to lunge for the cabinet again, Alec gently bracketed him in both arms. Max let out a frustrated cry, pushing against Alec's shoulder. "I know, I know. Papa and I are mean for not letting you play with all the fun magical things." Alec brushed at Max's bangs, but was pushed away by a small blue fist. "One day, Blueberry. Maybe after you've passed your first century, so you and Papa don't give me a heart attack as you're trying to learn this stuff, hmm?"

A deep chuckle caught his attention. Magnus leaned against the doorway leading into his workroom. "I'm going to have to start him much earlier than that," Magnus mused. Pushing off the doorway, he sauntered over to his boyfriend and son. He ran a hand over Max's head, but the blue-skinned baby was still put out with both of his fathers and turned his face to look over Alec's shoulder. Chuckling, Magnus dropped a kiss on the back of his son's head before turning to give one to his boyfriend. Magnus nodded to the cabinet the two were blocking. "I actually need in there."

Alec stepped aside and grabbed the back of the chair to drag it back to the chess table.

"You know most warlocks start to access their magic around puberty?" Magnus asked rhetorically. "I'll have to work with Blueberry when his magic starts presenting."

"Training him with his magic, yes," Alec replied, "but teaching him potions and demon summoning can wait until after his first century."

"Oh?" Magnus' fingers danced over ingredient bottles. "And what will he being doing before then?"

"I'll be teaching him how to be a Shadowhunter, of course," Alec stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Magnus whirled around to glare at his boyfriend, who was now leaning against the back of the couch trying to get Max to look at him and not succeeding. "My baby is not going to grow up to be a Shadowhunter."

The fierceness of his voice caused Alec to look over. "Hmm? Of course, I'm not going to teach him how to use seraph blades," Alec said in an affronted tone, "but given how much my family spoils him and how often he's at the Institute, there's no way he's not going to learn how to fight. Plus," he added with a shoulder shrug, "I'd like to teach him archery one day as well."

Magnus sighed as he felt the fight leave him. "Fine, but no seraph blades," he wagged his finger as he turned back to double check he had everything he needed from the cabinet. Nodding to himself, he closed the door and physically locked it before casting a spelled for added Blueberry-proofing.

"No seraph blades," Alec promised drily. "Did you order dinner yet?"
Magnus nodded absently. "Should be here in 30 minutes."

"Great," Alec retorted cheerfully. Max began to fuss in his arms, small fists rubbing at his eyelids - a tell-tale sign of a sleepy baby.

"He ready to go down?" Magnus asked.

"Looks like it. I'm going to go get him changed into his pajamas." Alec jerked his head back toward the bedroom.

"Alright, I just need to put these in my workroom." He shook two bottles in his hand. "I'll make his bottle and join you."

"Sounds like a plan," Alec grunted as he stood up. Magnus ducked into his workroom while Alec made his way back to the nursery.

By the time Magnus joined them in the nursery, Max was in a fox themed, footed pajama onesie sitting in Alec's lap in a gliding rocker being read a bedtime story. Magnus smiled at the way the toddler would touch random pictures and follow along to the soothing sound of his Daddy's voice softly spoken into his ear. Standing next to the glider, the warlock passed a loving hand over navy locks and handed a bottle of warm milk to his son. Max settled back into the crook of Alec's arms, giggling around his bottle when Alec made funny voices for the characters in the story.

Once story time was over, Alec brushed a kiss on Max's temple and handed him over to Magnus, who was much better at getting a wiggling baby into the zippered sleep sack. Max fussed slightly at having his arms manipulated into the sleep sack, but was soon sleepily laying against his Papa.

Laying him down in the crib, Magnus brushed at the navy curls once more. "Selamat tidur, my Blueberry," he whispered before turning on a sleep noise machine and the mobile. Max waved his hands at his Papa's face, rewarded with kisses to his palms they were folded into navy fists. "Keep them for when you need them later."

Alec turned on the baby monitor and nightlight. Quietly, in order to allow their son the opportunity to fall asleep on his own, they turned out the lights and closed the door, leaving it open just a crack. Making their way to the living room, both men collapsed on the couch with matching groans and sighs.

Alec reached over to the side table where the receiving monitor was kept and turned it on. Gentle snuggles and sounds of Max babbling to himself came through, but nothing that gave way to alarm.

Magnus looked over at his boyfriend and patted his knee in companionable victory. "Another successful day."

Alec snorted and dropped his head on the back of the couch, his hand covering the one on his knee. When the buzzer signaled the arrival of their dinner a few minutes later, Alec popped up with grin.

A few exchanged pleasantries and bills later, Alec and Magnus were dividing take out boxes between them. Biting into his chicken carbonara with a pleased groan. "Now it's a successful day," Alec pointed with his fork to the take out box balanced against his check. Magnus rolled his eyes, digging into his own caprese salad.

Both parents settled into the couch, grateful to be home with their loved one after such a long day.

 

Chapter Text

“Wua-ahh!”

Jace looked over at his nephew in a mix of confusion and disbelief. The blue-skinned toddler was amusing himself by walking around in circles in the middle of the living room and flapping his arms. “Hey Max,” he broached carefully, “wanna repeat that?”

Max grinned up at his uncle on the coach and flapped his arms again. “Wua-ahh! Wua-ahh!”

As Max resumed his circling, Jace turned to his parabatai for a Max-anese translation. Alec glanced up from where he was preparing the weekly Lightwood-Bane family dinner. “He’s saying ‘quack’, Jace.”

The blonde Shadowhunter’s skin paled. “‘Quack’ as in duck-quack?” he whispered in a shaky voice.

“Yes, Jonathan,” Magnus added flatly, not glancing up from his cell phone from where he sat at the kitchen counter, “‘quack’ as in ducks. We took him to Central Park a couple of days ago to feed the ducks. His new favorite game is ‘Quack!’”

“Alec!” Jace bolted up from the couch in a panic. “You can’t let Max think ducks are okay!”

Both parents shot deadpanned looks at Jace before turning back to their previous activities.

Not finding any sympathy for his dilemma from his parabatai and his boyfriend, Jace turned to Max and kneeled in front of the young warlock. Stopping the boy’s circling by gently turning him to face his uncle, Jace implored, “No more ‘quack’. Ducks are mean, evil, vicious, demons that are out to bite people. Ducks are bad. So no more ‘quack’, okay Max?”

Max looked at his uncle, a sly grin forming on his face. Leaning into his uncle’s face, he yelled, “Wua-ahh!”

Jace stared at his nephew in horror. “No quack. Quack is bad. Ducks are demons and Daddy and me hunt demons remember.”

“Wua-ahh! Wua-ahh!”

“Alec! We need Magnus. Max has been possessed by a duck. See I told you they were evil!”

Magnus hitched an eyebrow at the entire situation. “My Blueberry is not possessed,” he retorted, turning back to the client email on his phone. “There is nothing to fix.”

“Jace,” Alec sighed, “relax. In two days, Max will be completely obsessed with something else.”

“No!” Jace cried, keeping a grinning quacking Max from routinely charging at him. “This is of the utmost importance!”

Both parents rolled their eyes and chose to ignore him. Later when Izzy and Clary arrived, they were greeted to Alec and Magnus casually conversing while Jace ran away in pure terror from a quacking, arm-flapping Max. Both girls stood dumbfounded for a moment before deciding to announce their presence, mutually deciding to ignore Jace's antics. Alec greeted his sister with a hug and a kiss to her temple, while Clary handed Magnus a bottle of wine to go with their meal that evening.

When Max passed by terrorizing his uncle, who was standing on the couch by this point, Alec scooped the duck-channeling toddler up. “Alright, all duckies and delusional parabatai,” he ignored Jace’s affronted tone, “need to get ready for dinner.”

“Isabelle, Biscuit, remind me to show you the video of Max and Alec feeding the ducks in Central Park,” Magnus added as he moved to help set the table. “The two are so sweet.”

“Awww,” Isabelle cooed. “No matter what, you have to send me that video. Mom and Dad will definitely want to see it.”

Alec groaned good naturedly at his sister’s tone as he set up Max in his high chair. Clary moved to the couch to coax her boyfriend down from his duck-free sanctuary. Wrapping his arms around her waist and half-hiding behind her, eyes narrowed at Alec, he grumbled into her shoulder, “I really hate ducks.”

Chapter Text

Two and a half year old Max Lightwood-Bane was a bundle of excitement one early Saturday morning. His family was going to the zoo that afternoon to celebrate his Uncle Jace’s birthday and he couldn’t wait to see all of the animals. He kept squirming in his booster chair throughout breakfast, eager to start the day. He moved to jump down from the dining chair when his Dad’s voice stopped him.

“Finish your breakfast, Max, before you go play.” Alec Lightwood-Bane stared at his son from where he was flipping pancakes at the stovetop. Max leaned back into his seat and stabbed a syrup-laden bite of pancakes into his mouth.

Next to him, his Papa chuckled around his coffee cup. “Excited to go to the zoo, Blueberry?” Magnus Lightwood-Bane ruffled his son’s navy blue locks and grinned when Max grinned goofily around the food in his mouth. He was quick to put a finger in front of Max’s mouth when he realized the boy was about to talk around the food he was chewing. “Do not talk with your mouth full.”

Max chewed for a couple more bites and then swallowed exaggeratedly. “Uh-huh. There’s birds with these big wings,” he stretched his arms wide, “and monkeys and really tall giraffes!” Max moved to stand up in his chair to demonstrate, but Magnus put a hand on his shoulder with a pointed glare. Understanding his Papa’s unspoken instructions, Max settled back in his chair before he continued, “And there’s penguins and goats that you can pet!”

“Goats that you can pet?” Alec reiterated Max’s excited tone as he turned off the stovetop. He joined Magnus and Max at the table and placed a stack of pancakes in the middle. As he started to load his own plate with pancakes, he asked, “Are you going to pet any today?”

“Uh-huh! Papa and Uncle Jace are gonna pet them with me!”

Alec raised an eyebrow at Magnus’ blanched face. “Papa’s gonna pet them with you?”

Magnus grimaced and closed his eyes as he drank more of his coffee for courage, but reluctantly nodded his head in agreement to his son’s wishes. Deciding he shouldn't suffer alone, Magnus pressed the issue. “And Daddy, is he going to be petting goats as well?”

“Uh-Uh! Daddy and Aunt Izzy and Clary hav’tta keep up with Uncle Jace and me and Simon.”

“I think it’ll be more like you, me, and Clary will be keeping up with Jace, Izzy, Simon, and Max,” Alec noted in a hushed tone, nudging his boyfriend underneath the table. Magnus made a sound of agreement before catching Alec’s foot with both of his. Alec didn’t stop the grin from forming on his lips.

Max began to twist around in his chair looking out towards the balcony windows. “When are we gonna go?”

Magnus glanced at the kitchen clock. “Not for a couple more hours, Blueberry. Can you turn back around and take a couple more bites of your breakfast?” He held up a fork with pancake and banana on it. Max absently ate the food offered to him, more interested in things happening away from the breakfast table. Once Magnus had gotten Max to eat at least half a banana and four more bites of pancakes, he asked, “All done?”

At the Max’s nod, Magnus picked him up and set him down. “Think you can go play in the living room while Daddy and I finish breakfast?” Max didn’t even bother to nod before racing off to the living room. Magnus sat back down with a sigh glancing over at his boyfriend. “He used to be so small and cute. Where did my baby go?”

Alec glanced up at the pout on his boyfriend’s face before resuming eating his breakfast. “He’s still small and cute,” he mumbled around his pancakes.

Magnus wrinkled his nose in disgust at his boyfriend. “What a lovely example you are for our son, Alexander.”

Alec rolled his eyes at the warlock’s comment. “Plus,” Alec added, “Max is always going to be our baby boy.”

“True,” Magnus sighed, placing his arm over the back of the chair and resting his chin on his wrist to watch Max as he dumped a bucket of building blocks onto the floor. There was something comforting in the sounds of Max placing blocks on each other and the scrap of Alec’s silverware against the plate. If Magnus could freeze a moment in time, it would be this one. A moment where his family was safe and happy and nothing could intrude into this little bubble they had created.

Turning back to Alec, he had to shake his head at his boyfriend’s bed head – a cowlick stood up straight on top of his head while another batch of hair was determined to defy gravity at his temple.

Draining the last of his coffee, Magnus moved to place his coffee cup in the sink. Sliding up behind Alec, he placed both hands on the Shadowhunter’s shoulders, brushing a kiss on his boyfriend’s temple. “I’m going to go take a shower and get ready.”

Alec made a noise of acknowledgement and Magnus patted his shoulder as he made his way to the master bedroom. Alec quickly finished his breakfast and put his dishes in the sink as well. Joining Max in the living room, he noticed the blue-skinned warlock had outlined areas of the carpet with the blocks, forming walls of some sort. “Hey, Blueberry,” Alec said as he sprawled on the floor next to him, “what are you building?”

“Zoo,” the boy said simply, not looking up from his creation. Pointing at random spots, he explained, “This is the where all the birds live and here is where the bears are and over there is the giraffes ‘cause they have big, long necks and you have to keep them away from the birds, so they don’t eat their homes.”

“Wow, very cool,” Alec said, a little amazed at the thought that went into the building of his son’s zoo. Pointing to where Max was still adding more blocks, he asked, “And what’s that supposed to be over there?”

“Goats!” Max turned to grin up at his Daddy. The boy’s smile was too much for Alec and he ruffled the navy locks affectionately. Max held up a wooden block to him, pointing next to an area he had been adding to. "You put that there.”

“Sure, Blueberry.”

The two continued to build onto the zoo, creating new habitats and animals to go in them. Alec glanced up at the clock and realized more time had passed then he realized. “Come on, Max, we’ve got to go get ready.”

With an excited gasp, Max raced back to his bedroom. Alec shook his head and looked at the blocks on the floor and determined they could wait until later that evening to be cleaned up. Making his way to his son’s bedroom, he found Max had already changed out of his pajamas and stood in his underwear, rummaging in the dresser where Magnus stored his clothes. “Max,” Alec called out to get the boy’s attention. When Max looked up, two different pants in his hands, Alec jerked a thumb toward the bathroom. “You need to brush your teeth first.”

Max threw the pants back into the dresser haphazardly and Alec had to wince as he knew Magnus wouldn’t like finding his hard work messed up. Following his son into the bathroom, he stood behind Max as he tottered on a step stool, wetting his toothbrush underneath the faucet. Helping him apply toothpaste, Alec reached around him to shut off the faucet as Max brushed his teeth. Once Alec had determined that all of his teeth were brushed to a pearly white, Max rinsed off his toothbrush and Alec filled up a cup for him to rinse his mouth out with. Teeth taken care of, they made their way back into the bedroom.

While Magnus loved to coordinate his son’s outfits, Alec found it amusing to watch Max create his own fashion statements. Today he decided that black cargo shorts needed to be paired with a neon green tank and a red open button-down shirt featuring his favorite cartoon character. Yellow socks with trains embroidered on them completed the outfit. Once dressed, Max turned around to present it his Dad.

“Looks great, Max,” Alec praised, patting him on the shoulder. “Let’s go show Papa, huh?”

Max practically preened under Alec’s praise and half ran, half slid across the apartment as he made his way to the master bedroom. Magnus was sitting at his vanity putting on his make-up, given he had already finished getting dressed in light jeans that hugged his legs and loose, lightweight shirt. Pausing in the middle of adding winged, red eyeliner to the top of his waterline to complement the gold eyeliner lining his bottom lashes, he winked at his boyfriend and son through the mirror as they made their way into the bedroom. With a practiced hand, he completed the wing of his eyeliner and then scooped up his son into a hug.

Blowing raspberries into Max’s neck to elicit giggles from him, mirth danced in Magnus’ eyes when looked up at Alec. “So Daddy allowed you to dress yourself today, hmm?”

Alec shrugged. “He likes it.” He leaned down to brush a kiss against Magnus’ cheek. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got him,” replied Magnus, squeezing Max a little tighter. Nuzzling Max’s neck again, he added in a gruff voice, “Nothing can escape the Papa Monster!”

Max giggled and squirmed in Magnus’ hold. Reaching his arms out to Alec, he whined, “Save me, Daddy! The Papa Monster’s got me!”

Bemused, Alec rolled his eyes and cupped Max’s cheeks, dropping a kiss on his forehead. “Sorry, Blueberry, you’re on your own. Daddy has to go take a shower.” Stepping back, Alec nodded to Magnus. “Papa Monster, I'll leave him to you.”

Magnus growled and hauled Max onto the vanity bench next to him as Alec grabbed clothes and a towel from the closet and made his way to the en suite bathroom.

“Alright, Blueberry,” Magnus asked, “what color lipstick should Papa wear today?”

Max carefully pondered the many tubes of colored gloss and lipstick that were stored in a raised, metal vanity tray, fingers tapping his lips. Looking up at Magnus and then back at the lipsticks and glosses, Max reached out and gave Magnus one.

“Bronze lip gloss? Excellent choice.”

While Magnus traced his lips with the lip gloss wand, Max amused himself with the different necklaces and rings that were laid out on the vanity, occasionally picking one up to view it up close. With a pop of his lips, Magnus turned his head this way and that, making sure his make-up was up to High Warlock standards. Satisfied with his make-up, he held out his hands to Max.

“Which rings should I wear today?” he asked, wriggling his fingers.

Max slid rings on and off Magnus’ fingers before deciding on a silver, oversized ring with the initials MB for his right hand and a band etched with geometric patterns for his left hand. Picking up a blue arrowhead wrapped in silver on a leather strap, Max held it up for Magnus to duck his head through. Fingering the arrowhead, Magnus turned to admire his appearance in the mirror, nodding with approval at his son’s choices.

Sliding off the bench, Magnus moved behind Max and let his magic dance between his fingers. “Ahh, Monsieur Maxwell,” he stated in an exaggerated French accent, threading his fingers through navy curls, “it is so nice of you to come to Chez Magnus, once more. And what are we doing today?” Magnus tapped Max’s cheek, turning the boy’s skin from blue to a light peach similar to Alec’s. “Are we going for vampire pale, ze sun-kissed Shadowhunter, or perhaps a daring chocolate undertone?” Running his finger up and down his son’s cheek like a gradient scale, Max’s skin changed from light peach to a dark olive similiar to Magnus’, then darker like Maia’s, and then darker still to match Catarina all before moving back to a lighter tone.

Max giggled in the mirror as his skin changed colors to match his Papa’s words. “Magically Max!”

“Ahh, Magically Max,” Magnus pretended to consider Max’s choice, as he glamoured Max’s skin to a pale tan, falling somewhere between his and Alec’s skin tone. “Very good choice, Monsieur. And for ze hair? Shall we be going blonde today to match ze man of ze honor?” With a ruffle of his head, Magnus had glamoured Max’s hair to match Jace’s undercut. Max wrinkled his nose and shook his head.

“Ach, non? Well zen, nerd chic is all the rage,” Magnus suggested as he turned Max’s hair to a mess of mousy, brown curls to match Simon’s. This caused Max to giggle, but once more shake his head no. “Oui, Oui, one such as yourself has the ability to pull off a much more dignified look.” With a wave of his hands, Max’s hair now matched Alec’s dark strands and bedhead from earlier.

Max wrapped his arms around his stomach and let out a round of giggles at the sight of his Dad’s hair on his head. By this point, Alec had come out of the bathroom in dark wash jeans and a black T-shirt, toweling off his damp hair. Seeing his boyfriend and son playing Chez Magnus, Alec tossed the towel in the clothes hamper and moved behind the two to glance at his reflection in the mirror over Magnus’ shoulder. Combing his fingers through his own damp locks to style them out of his eyes, he turned shocked eyes to Max’s hair.

“Och, non!” Alec proclaimed in an even worse French accent than Magnus’. “zis zimply will not do! More color! Everyone knows Monsieur Max’s color is blue.”

“Ahh, true,” retorted Magnus. And with a run of his hand, Max’s hair turned turn a dark, chestnut brown with a streak of his natural, navy blue standing out. Looking at Max in the mirror, he asked, “Does the Monsieur approve?”

“Oui, Oui!” replied Max, playing along.

Magnus grinned and then pulled out a jar of styling wax. Dipping his fingers into the wax, he began styling Max's hair to hide his horns. During this process, Max played with the red eyeliner Magnus had used earlier. Once Magnus deemed Max's horns sufficiently hidden, he crouched into front of him.

“Want to try some?” He asked, nodding to the eyeliner in Max's hands.

Max looked up at Alec, who had moved to sit on the side of the bed to text his siblings. “Can I?”

Alec glanced up from his cell phone at the two. “Just a little, Magnus.”

“Really, Alexander, it’s like you don't trust me!” huffed Magnus. Alec gave him a pointed look, choosing not to dignify that with an answer, and turned back to his phone. Magnus equally dismissed his boyfriend with a wave of his hand and then picked up the eyeliner from Max. “Close your eyes.”

Max did as instructed and lifted his face toward Magnus. Gently cupping his chin in his hand, Magnus tilted Max's head as needed and lightly dotted the corner of his eyes with the eyeliner. Barely there, but enough to give his eyes contrast. Leaning back, he proclaimed, “C'est magnifique!”

Max turned in the mirror to look and grinned. Alec came up behind him and looked as well. Patting Max's shoulder, he stated, “Looks good, Blueberry!” Turning to Magnus as he stood up from his crouch, he asked, “Ready?”

Magnus nodded, but Max grabbed his wrist. “Papa, wait!” Magnus looked down at his son. Using Magnus for balance, Max stood up on top of the vanity bench and tapped his fingers against Magnus’ cheek. “Pop!”

Magnus jerked his head back and blinked a couple of times, allowing his cat eyes to glamour to a dark brown. Smiling, he patted Max's cheek. “Thank you, Blueberry. I can't believe a forgot to glamour my eyes!”

Magnus winked at the smirk on Alec's lips. Helping Max jump off the bench, he looked around. “Everyone's ready then?”

Max pulled Magnus toward the door. “Come on, Papa! We gotta go to zoo!”

Alec and Magnus barely got Max to stay still long enough to put on his shoes before they were dragged out of the apartment by the excited warlock. As they walked toward the subway, Max held each of his fathers’ hands, swinging between the two.

“What are you looking forward to seeing the most, Max?” asked Magnus.

“Ducks!”

Magnus threw his head back and laughed, eyes crinkling with glee. Alec pressed his lips together to try to bite back the smile tugging at his lips, but his dimples deepened and shoulders shook with repressed laughter. His parabatai was truly in for an interesting birthday.

 

Chapter Text

Magnus was whistling as he made his way down the corridor of the Buenos Aires Institute toward the room his Alexander was staying in. It had been a long couple of weeks without Alec as he was acting as a Downworld liaison for the Clave. A rogue vampire uprising was causing extra stress for the Buenos Aires Institute, which was stretched thin already. Magnus was so proud of what Alec had accomplished as a Shadowhunter liaison to the Downworld, but at the moment he missed his boyfriend.

 

With a grin on his face and a tune on his lips, he sauntered into Alec’s bedroom. His cry of “Alexander!” halted on his tongue at the sight that met him. Not so unlike another bedroom suite door he had entered in three years prior, there stood Alec comforting a child in his arms with the afternoon sun creating an aura around them.

 

Alec looked up from dark brown curls to smile in relief at the sight of his boyfriend. “Magnus,” he breathed, “it's so good to see you.”

 

The child in Alec's arms didn't agree with Alec's heartfelt comment and turned his face into Alec's shoulder, facing away from Magnus. This caused him to expose his neck - a neck that looked pox marked from the bite marks that riddled it. Some were red with irritation, much more recent. Others had turned into white laced scars. Multiple vampires, routine feedings.

 

“It's good to see you, too, darling,” Magnus replied, cautiously moving into the room. He quickly assessed the child Alec was holding. Young, 5, 6 years old? Greatly malnourished, his muscles thin and height small for his age. Clothes a size too large and dingy from dirt and sweat. Dark brown hair hung in matted clumps due to either lack of washing, combing, or a combo of both. His dark tanned skin was indicative to the region, but the runes burned into his skin were not. Nephilim, but much too young of an age to normally receive them.

 

Magnus moved next to his boyfriend, but didn't touch him, deeply aware of how fragile the child in his arms was. “And who do we have here?” Magnus asked in a cheerful tone, similar to the one he used with Max when discussing cartoon characters.

 

“We’re not quite sure,” answered Alec softly. “He hasn't spoken since I found him in one of the rogue vampire nests we busted. No one here knows of any Shadowhunter couples that may have left an orphan. Or a Shadowhunter who would have abandoned the Shadow world.”

 

Alec moved to sit on the threadbare couch, the boy quickly clamouring to fit in the small space between Alec and the couch armrest. The boy returned to his hiding spot in the Alec’s neck, eyes tracking Magnus throughout the room. Alec sighed as Magnus moved to join him on the couch and shook out his arms before tucking the scared boy underneath his shoulder and draping the boy's legs over his lap; despite the boy’s small size, he was heavier than Max.

 

“He's become quite attached to me,” Alec sighed, running a hand up and down the boy’s back. “I was the first to find him. He saw my runes and ever since then…,” he nodded to his lap. “He won't even go to any of the other Shadowhunters in the Institute. But at the same time, he won't speak to anyone - even me.”

 

Magnus was careful not to make any sudden movements as he settled onto the couch. Shifting slowly to face his boyfriend and the skittish child in his arms, Magnus propped an arm against the back of the couch and rested his head on his hand. His other hand walked along the sofa’s cushions to tangle fingers with Alec's free hand. It surprised Magnus how desperate he could be for the Shadowhunter’s touch, even after a relatively short separation.

 

“Alexander,” Magnus approached gently.

 

“Hmm?” Alec turned from trying to comfort the child in his arms to his boyfriend.

 

“I must ask - have you been speaking to him in English or Spanish?”

 

“Spanish. Why?”

 

Magnus had to hid a smile in the crook of his arm, but that didn’t stop his shoulders from shaking with laughter. Taking a deep breath to compose himself, Magnus flashed a smile at his boyfriend. “Darling, as Isabelle says, your Spanish sucks.” Ignoring his boyfriend’s unimpressed look, Magnus turned to the small child still tracking his every move. “ Hola pequeño. Soy el novio de Alec, Magnus .”

 

The boy dove to hide behind Alec, shifting the Shadowhunter’s body to form a wall between him and Magnus. Alec bit his lips in mirth. “And my Spanish sucks, huh?”

 

Magnus chose ignore to Alec’s comment. Trying to catch the boy’s eyes, he spoke evenly trying not to scare him, “ Pequeño, ¿qué pasa? ¿Es porque dije que Alec y yo éramos novios?

 

This resulted in more panicked movements, the boy desperately shoving Alec in front of him to use him as a wall between him and Magnus. Magnus looked to Alec, clearly confused as to what he had said that would cause the boy to become so scared. Alec silently conveyed he had no clue either.

 

Alec turned around until his back was to Magnus and he could fully face the boy - who was currently pushing against Alec’s side with his feet, arching away from both men to the point he was almost about to fall over the couch arm. Alec hovered his hands over the boy’s shoulders, ready to catch him if need be, but not touching him. “Hey, hey, hey. Look at me,” Alec soothed. He waited until the boy’s movements had calmed down and had refocused his attention on Alec. “Magnus is… bueno .” He moved an arm back to pat somewhere near Magnus’ upper chest, his eyes never leaving the boy’s face. “ Bueno … uhm… Amigo. Magnus es bueno amigo .”

 

The boy stopped trying to escape, but his feet were still pressed against Alec's thighs, ready to launch himself at the slightest provocation. He anxiously glanced back and forth between the two men.

 

Vampiros .” The boy whipped his head to stare at Magnus’ comment. Gesturing at his own neck, Magnus continued, “ Vampiros. Te hacen daño .”

 

The boy slowly nodded, eyes never leaving Magnus.

 

¿Crees que soy un vampiro?

 

Again the boy slowly nodded, shifting to hide himself behind Alec. Magnus leaned back into the couch and sighed. Alec had been switching between the boy and warlock next to him trying to follow along with the conversation. At his boyfriend’s confused look, Magnus laid a hand against the back of Alec’s neck, thumb idly stroking the short hairs there.

 

“He thinks I’m a vampire,” Magnus explained. He yelped when the boy smacked his hand away from Alec protectively. Shaking his stinging hand, he glared at the little nephilim brat. Sighing, he took a moment to collect himself before speaking to the boy again. “ ¿Por qué crees que soy un vampiro?

 

The boy was still hiding behind Alec, barely peeking around the Shadowhunter’s shoulder to assess the other man in front of him. He was quiet for a long time, to the point that Magnus believed his question would go unanswered. When the boy did reply, his voice was barely a whisper that Magnus almost failed to catch. “... pequeño …”

 

Pequeño?

 

The boy slowly nodded and peeked out a little further from behind Alec. He lifted a hand to the bite marks on his neck before seeking refuge from behind Alec again.

 

“Did they - the vampiros ,” Magnus clarified, “did they call you pequeño when they bit you?” He motioned to his own neck, realizing he had spoken in English and the boy may not understand it.

 

Magnus saw the tuft of dark brown hair jerk up and down behind Alec’s shoulder. “ No soy un vampiro. ” Magnus waited until the boy peeked out in curiosity before allowing his cats eyes to show. “ Soy un hechicero .”

 

The boy gasped in awe before scrambling underneath Alec’s arms to crawl into Magnus’ lap. Alec barely had time to move one of his hands into position to be a stepping stone before something precious was trampled on. Magnus grunted at the force of the small child launching himself onto the warlock’s lap, dirty feet balancing on Magnus’ dark jean-encased thighs. Small fingers pulled at the skin of Magnus’ lower eyelids in order to put their faces nose-to-nose. He turned Magnus’ face this way and that, excited eyes examining the way Magnus’ pupils dilated in the changing light.

 

Magnus returned the favor, using the boy’s proximity to examine him for any additional scarring besides the ones on his neck. Not finding any, he took in the boy’s dark brown eyes, finding the inquisitive mind behind them absolutely delightful.

 

A chuckle behind the two had both of them looking over at Alec. “See? Not so scary, is he?”

 

The boy gave Alec a shrug, his fingers never leaving Magnus’ face. Turning back to Magnus, he asked inquisitively, “ Hechicero ?”

 

Magnus brought his hand up to the boy’s face, allowing his magic to form blue wisps around his fingers as he wiggled them at the boy. “ Hechicero .”

 

The boy grasped Magnus’ hand, trying to catch the blue wisps of magic. Magnus’ magic danced over the boy’s skin, leaving a cool, electric buzz in its wake. “ No hace daño .” The boy glanced up at Magnus with a smile. “ Cosquillas .”

 

Magnus nodded, shifting the boy more comfortably in his lap. “I’m not a hechicero who hurts people. I only hurt people that hurt others - like the vampires that attacked you,” he remarked softly in English, tracing a finger over the boy’s neck.

 

The boy shrugged Magnus’ finger away from his neck, skin still sensitive from all of the bite marks. A gurgling coming from the boy’s stomach had both men arching eyebrows in amusement.

 

Hambriento ?” asked Alec, hands mimicking eating food.

 

The boy nodded, rubbing his stomach hoping to quell the sounds coming from it. Magnus tapped his nose to gain his attention. When the boy stared wide-eyed up at him, Magnus pointed to the coffee table in front of them. “Watch,” he winked.

 

On the coffee table, blue swirls of magic began to swirl and form into three bowls of minestrone soup from the deli a couple blocks down from his and Alec’s Brooklyn loft, crusty baguettes from Magnus’ favorite French bakery, as well as a tray of sliced apples and pears, strawberries, grapes, and cubed mangos with a yogurt dip in the middle of the tray.  An awed gasp came from the child. Alec, however, sent Magnus a deadpanned look. “Magnus…”

 

“Don’t worry, Alexander. I left money in their registers.” Magnus leaned down to whisper conspiringly into the boy’s ear. “Alec hates it when I summon food without paying.” Feeling the boy tense up at how close he was to his neck, Magnus leaned back. Patting the boy on his back, he waved toward the coffee table. “ Come .”

 

Glancing at both men for approval, he slowly slid down off the couch to sit in front of the coffee table. Grasping one of the bowls by its sides, he brought it up to his mouth to drink directly from the bowl. Before either Magnus or Alec could stop him, he tried to quickly slurp down the soup. Hissing in pain at the soup burning his tongue, the boy jerked the bowl away from him. Alec was able to reach underneath the bowl to steady it as Magnus used his magic to stop any of the soup that had spilled out from further burning the boy. Magnus summoned a glass of ice water and handed it to the boy to help cool his mouth. The boy took a few sips before handing the glass back to Magnus.

 

Alec by that point had placed the bowl back on the coffee table and slid onto the floor next to the boy. Picking up a plastic spoon that lay next to the bowl, he removed it from its plastic wrapping and dipped it into the soup. “Helps if you use a spoon,” he explained, gently blowing on the soup to help cool it off. Lifting the spoon up the boy, he said, “Here, try it now.”

 

Keeping his eyes on Alec’s face, the boy brought his mouth around the spoon. Leaning away as he swallowed the soup, he considered for a moment before reaching for the spoon.

 

“Got it?” Alec asked carefully. The boy nodded, hands motioning for the spoon again. With a twitch of his lips, Alec handed the spoon over. Alec and Magnus watched anxiously as the boy repeated Alec’s process of dipping the spoon and blowing on it before putting it in his mouth. Both men visibly relaxed when the boy had repeated the process a couple of more times without any more painful burns, causing him to look up at the adults in confusion.

 

Deeming that the boy wasn’t going to hurt himself any more on the soup, Alec and Magnus delved into eating their own portions of soup and bread. The boy scooted the side of the coffee table to where he could watch both Magnus and Alec, wrapping an arm around his food to pull it to him protectively. Both adults kept an eye on the boy, but begin to chat about updates in their lives since they had last seen each other. While Magnus informed Alec of the adventures of the last Carstairs and her parabatai and the Los Angeles Institute, Alec told Magnus about the tracking the local vampire nests and dealing with other Shadowhunters that weren’t exactly welcoming of his sexuality or Downworlder connections.

 

Both were content just to be in the other’s presence after being apart. Alec stayed on the floor and rested against the couch and Magnus’ knee. Magnus ran a hand through Alec’s hair before tipping the Shadowhunter’s head back to drop a quick kiss on his lips. Satisfied with himself, Magnus leaned back against the couch and let his hand drop on Alec’s shoulder, who began to absentmindedly play with the rings on his fingers. The boy stared at them curiously in between bites of food and swiping fruit from the tray. While both men paid attention to his general activity, neither tried stopping him from eating his fill.

 

When door to the suite opened unannounced, the boy to scramble into Alec’s lap out of fright. Both Alec and Magnus turned to face the intruder, bodies tensing - ready to attack if need be, only to have Leandros Starklight, the head of the Buenos Aires Institute, enter the room. Leandros Starklight was tall and rapier-thin, his sandy brown hair paired with the disconcerting, dark brown eyes set in a narrow face gave the man hawkish features. To Alec, he resembled the stone gargoyles that guarded the old church - cold and unforgiving - and unconsciously pulled the boy in his lap closer to his chest.

 

Starklight took surveillance of the scene in front of him and sniffed in displeasure at the sight of Magnus. Dismissing the warlock in front of him, he turned to Alec. “Why is there a warlock in this room? I did not authorize for any warlocks to be invited to the Institute.”

 

“Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn,” Magnus introduced himself sardonically, “here at Alec Lightwood’s service.”

 

Starklight glared at Magnus before turning his attention back to Alec. “Lightwood, in the future be aware the Buenos Aires Institute has access to our own High Warlock. We will not be in need of your warlock.”

 

Magnus rolled his shoulders at being blatantly dismissed. His fingers began to drum out a rhythm on the armrest. “Aww, Alexander,” Magnus drolled, “he knows I’m your warlock. How quaint.”

 

Alec spared a glance at Magnus before turning back to Starklight. “Magnus has a name, Starklight. Either use it or refer to his title of High Warlock.”

 

Starklight cleared his throat, unused to having someone challenge his dictates. “I believe you were supposed to be finding out more about the boy’s past, Lightwood, not consorting with Downworlders.” He ignored the huff coming from Magnus. “Have you found out any more about the boy’s name or his family?”

 

Alec sucked his teeth at Starklight’s snide remark. “He hasn’t told us anything, yet. All we know is he dislikes the nickname pequeño .”

 

“I would have expected more out of you, Lightwood, given the rumors that you are so good with Downworlder children.”

 

Alec had to brace a hand against Magnus’ chest to stop him from retaliating against the obvious rebuke against their son, Max. Eyes not leaving Starklight, Alec squeezed Magnus’ knee in silent camaraderie. “If there is anything parenting a child with Magnus has taught me, children tend to respond to things around them much more positively when they are well fed.” Alec stroked the boy’s back when he realized the boy was practically shivering out fear of Starklight. “He had been eating just now, probably for the first time in days, before you scared him.”

 

“Food could have been procured for the boy from our kitchens at any given time,” Starklight retorted, waving away Alec’s concerns. “What is important is finding out which Shadowhunter family the boy comes from.”

 

Alec brought the boy closer to the front of his chest, allowing him to better keep a hold of him as he moved to straighten up. Hitching him on his waist, Alec turned to Magnus. “Magnus, can you take him? He needs a bath and I need to talk to Starklight.”

 

Magnus maintained a pointed look at the Institute Head as he stood up. “Of course, Alexander.” Magnus held his arms out for the boy. “Niño, hora del baño.”

 

At the sound of Magnus’ voice, the boy snuck a peek from Alec’s chest. Once he comprehended what Magnus was saying, he held his arms out, reaching for the warlock. In a well practiced move, Alec transferred the boy from his arms to Magnus’. A strange choking sound seemed to be coming from Starklight’s throat, as if the thought of a Nephilim child willingly going into the arms of a Downworlder was an affront to the Accords themselves.

 

Magnus raised a sculpted eyebrow at Starklight before moving toward the bathroom, his hands flourishing for the door to open and close behind him. Another wave of his hand has hot water pouring out of the tub’s faucet. Gently, he placed the boy to stand on the Spanish tile of the bathroom floor. Fingering the hem of the boy’s shirt, he gestured for it to come off. The boy clutched both hands to the front of his shirt and shook his head. “ Mio.

 

Lo sé ,” Magnus assured softly. He pointed to the closed lid of the toilet. “ Lo pondré allí mientras estás en el baño. Podrás verlo todo el tiempo.

 

Magnus, used to preparing Max for baths, reached to pull the boy’s shirt up again, but the boy shook his head negatively and took a step back. Magnus furrowed his brow in confusion, but before he could ask a question, the boy began removing his shirt and placing it reverently on the toilet lid. Deciding to give the boy some privacy, Magnus turned to the tub to test the water’s warmth and level. Finding it satisfactory, he summoned a variety of shampoos and conditioners as well as a bucket of bath toys similar to the ones Max had.

 

The boy, having removed all of his clothes except his underwear, came to stand beside Magnus, hesitantly leaning on him as he contemplated the bucket of toys. Magnus picked one up at random to show him before tossing it in the bathtub. The boy looked between the floating toy in the tub and the bucket. Staring up at Magnus, he pointed to the bucket and then himself. “ Mio?

 

Tuya ,” Magnus assured the boy. He nodded to the tub. “ ¿Quieres jugar con ellos?

 

The boy considered the bucket of toys before hesitantly nodding to Magnus. Magnus patted him on his back, urging him to pick out the the ones he wanted to play with. After a select few were chosen and tossed into the tub, the boy began to try to climb over the side of the tub only to be stopped by Magnus. Magnus had to chuckle at the boy’s impatient frown.

 

Tu ropa interior ,” Magnus explained, pulling at the side of the boy’s underwear. “ Todavía tienes que quitarte .”

 

The boy arched an eyebrow at Magnus, only to receive an equally arched eyebrow in return. He took off his underwear, placing them with the rest of his clothing, before clamouring into the tub, with a little help from Magnus. The boy was content to sit and submerge the bath toys in the water as Magnus began to wash away the dirt that had built up on his skin with a washcloth.

 

You know ,” Magnus mused aloud in Spanish, “ you remind me of an old friend of mine. A vampire by the name of Raphael Santiago.” The boy tensed at the mention the word vampire, but Magnus was quick to reassure . “Not all vampires are like the ones who fed on you.

 

You remind me of him, ” Magnus continued with a sigh. “ When I first met him, he didn’t trust anyone, much less himself. Raphael was a young man when he was turned into a vampire.  He was a good Catholic boy who was in the wrong location at the wrong time. For a long time, he thought he was a monster. However, he came to realize that being a vampire didn’t automatically make him a monster. With some help from yours truly, he learned to control his need for blood. He eventually became the leader of the New York City vampire clan and helped new vampires learn to control their urges, as well. Any vampire that acted like the vampires that fed on you, Raphael was quick to punish or stop, one way or another. He worked to make sure those around him were safe.

 

He... he was a true friend ,” Magnus muttered, as he became lost in memories. He shook the past out of his head in order to focus on the boy in front of him. Summoning a pitcher of warm water, he finger-combed the boy’s hair. “Tilt your head back.”

 

Once Magnus had sufficiently wetted the boy’s hair enough in order to clean it, he pumped some shampoo into his hands and began to massage the boy’s head playfully. The boy glanced up from playing with his toy. “ Tu amigo… ¿le pasó algo malo?

 

“Hmm?” Magnus looked up from where he was shampooing one stubborn clump of hair. “Unfortunately, .” The boy tilted his head in question. Magnus sighed as he continued to shampoo the boy’s hair. “ Raphael saved me at one point. In order to stand up to a man who was determined to destroy Shadowhunters and Downworlders alike, he traded his life for mine .”

 

Magnus reached over for the pitcher again, magically filling it with clean water. Placing a hand at the boy’s forehead to keep soapy water out of eyes, he washed the shampoo out of the boy’s hair. Turning to pump some conditioner into his hands, Magnus began to smooth it into the boy’s strands. “ Because of him, I now have Alec and our son, Max. And all those vampires he helped - now they help others, stopping those that would harm anyone .”

 

The boy gnawed on his lip in thought and nodded to himself once he had reached some internal conclusion. While the boy may not speak much, for Magnus it was interesting to watch the wheels turn in his head. He let the boy continue to play in the bath while the conditioner set in. The boy became fascinated with set of bobbing birds that would light up when they came in contact with the bath water.

 

Magnus found himself dealing with a squirming mass of limbs when it came time to wash out the conditioner. The boy kept moving his head away from the water cascading out of the pitcher in order to keep playing with the light-up birds. Muttering curses in dead languages under his breath, Magnus eventually managed to

get all of the conditioner washed out of the boy’s hair.

 

Deeming the boy officially clean, Magnus began to drain the tub of the bathwater, much to the boy’s disappointment. Magnus summoned a fluffy towel and began to dry the child off. Another wave of his hands and a set of pajamas and lightweight, child-sized robe appeared on the bathroom vanity countertop.

 

Magnus was in the process of combing out tangles in the boy's hair, who was fingering the robe and pajamas he was wearing in awestruck wonder, when raised voices began to drift in from the other room. Noticing the child was flinching every time the voices became particularly loud, Magnus patted the boy's shoulder reassuringly. “ Relax. Alexander is more than strong enough to take on Starklight. Neither he nor I will let anything happen to you.

 

The boy stared apprehensively at the bathroom door before glancing over his shoulder at Magnus with a small nod.

 

Determined to put the boy at ease somewhat, Magnus asked, “ Want to show Alec your favorite toy?

 

The boy hurried over to the side of the tub, reaching in for one of the discarded light-up birds. Clutching the bird in his hand, he cautiously made his way back into the suite, silently taking in the two Shadowhunters siding off against each other. He scurried behind Alec, arms wrapping around the Shadowhunter’s leg, with Magnus following at a leisurely pace.

 

Not breaking eye contact with the man in front of him, Alec reached behind him to left the boy up and settle him on his hip. Starklight’s lips tightened into a thin line when the boy tucked himself underneath Alec’s chin, obviously wary of the Institute Head.

 

“And you, Warlock Bane,” Starklight sneered Magnus’ title with contempt. “Did you find out any additional information from the child? A name perhaps?”

 

“It didn’t come up in our conversation,” Magnus responded flippantly. The Institute Head was beginning to get on the warlock’s last nerve.  

 

Starklight threw up his hands in frustration. “Does anyone in this room know the child’s name?” Alec and Magnus simply leveled twin judgemental looks at him. Starklight, not finding an answer from the pair, pointed a finger at the boy. “Do you know your name? ¿Sabes tu nombre?

 

The small movement of a head butting his chin had Alec tilting his back to look at the boy in his arms. “ ¿Tú lo haces? ¿Tu nombre?

 

The boy nodded once more. All of the adults in the room remained quiet to hear the boy’s answer.

 

My name is Rafael Santiago.

Chapter Text

“Max, No.”


The blue-skinned warlock looked up at Magnus with watery eyes, his bottom lip pushed out in a quivering pout. Max’s arms were currently filled with a very disgruntled Chairman Meow, the boy’s arms wrapped underneath the cat’s forelegs and half-carrying, half-dragging him toward the entryway of the loft.


“But Papa, Chairman Meow misses Daddy too!” Max lifted the cat as best as he could, trying to show his Papa how much the cat missed Alec.


“Mreow,” The Chairman let out a low grumble, displeased at his current predicament.


Magnus sighed and took The Chairman out of Max’s arms and cuddled the cat up against his chest, hand supporting his hind legs. “As much as I am sure the Chairman misses Alec, we can’t take him to visit Daddy with us.” Magnus walked over to the Chairman’s favorite sunny spot by the windows, depositing him on a cushioned bench. Magnus dolefully gave the Chairman a couple of pats on the head, before turning back to his son. “Chairman Meow is just going to have to wait until Alec gets back from Buenos Aires to see him again.”


“But it’s been forever!” Max whined, his shoulders slumped and arms flopping at his side.


“I know,” Magnus agreed gently, walking over the ruffle a hand through blue locks. Crouching in front of Max, he brushed away some of the tears that were threatening to spill over. “How about this? Why don’t you go to your room and choose some things that Aunt Izzy brought back from her trip to show Daddy?”


The thought of showing his Daddy all of his new treasures seemed to perk Max right back up. “Yeah!”


Magnus had to grin to himself at the small blue streak that was his son racing back to his room. Standing up with a groan, Magnus thought back on the past couple of weeks. Alec had been staying at the Buenos Aires Institute to watch over Rafael. The young Shadowhunter had imprinted on Alec, not willing to be separated from him more than the couple of hours it would take Alec to carry out local diplomatic Downworlder missions. Rafael was adjusting to life at the Institute, but Magnus had still received the occasional panicked call from Alec needing him to translate something in Spanish - either because Alec had screwed up a translation or simply because Rafael did not have a frame of reference for a word in English. While Rafael had never been formally taught English, he was quickly picking up English phrases from passing Shadowhunter conversations as well as listening in on Alec’s and Magnus’s conversations.

 

“It's not strange,” Magnus explained one night over a video call after Max and Rafael had gone to sleep in their respective time zones. “Buenos Aires is an international hub. He would have grown up hearing both languages spoken - Spanish obviously being the more prominent language. But English isn't completely foreign to him. He’s just now putting meaning to words he’s heard before.”

 

Alec sighed heavily, running a hand through already ruffled hair. “Which is great I know, but he still hasn't been able to tell us where he's from.”

 

Magnus worried his lip with his teeth as he stared at the laptop screen at the combination of exhaustion and exasperation that lined his boyfriend's face. It was rare that Magnus ever felt helpless as the High Warlock of Brooklyn, but being continents apart and unable to take his Shadowhunter into his arms and make everything better was definitely leaving him feeling helpless now. “Should I create a portal and come ov-”

 

“No!” Alec cut Magnus off sharply, hands raised as if he could stop the warlock from portaling through the laptop’s screen. “No,” he reiterated, this time a little more softly. “I need you with Max. I- I- I need to know Max is safe… with you. As much as I trust my siblings and parents when it comes to Max, there is no one - no one - on the face of this planet that he is safer with than you.”

 

Magnus felt his heart clench at the fierceness in Alec's voice. “Alexander…”

 

“Magnus, I... I…” Alec scrubbed both hands over his face as the words left him only to steeple his fingers over his mouth. “I can't shake it, Magnus. Max almost could have grown up like Rafael. If he had been left anywhere else…”

 

“But he wasn't,” Magnus interjected adamantly. “He has you and me, a home where he is loved and cared for. Honorary Downworlder aunts that would make people go missing should they make Blueberry cry. An extended family of Shadowhunters that would storm Edom itself if anything should happen to him.”

 

On the screen, Alec's shoulders sagged in relief, head shaking as he imagined his parabatai storming Edom as Magnus mentioned, flanked by Clary, his sister and parents, as well as Lily, Maia, and Catarina. Alec lifted his head to grace Magnus with a wry grin. Alec brought the hand with the Alliance rune etched into it to his lips and stated the only thing in his heart he knew to be true. “I love you, Magnus.”

 

Magnus had to blink back tears as he brought his matching Alliance rune to his lips. “And I you, my Alexander.”

 

The sound of Max’s running footsteps coming down the hallway brought Magnus back to the present. Seeing his son’s arms loaded with various items had Magnus arching an eyebrow in question, but Max only smiled back up at him. Shaking his head at his son’s precociousness, Magnus simply summoned a backpack for Max to dump all of his treasures in. Once the backpack was filled and situated on Max’s shoulders, Magnus dropping down onto one knee in front of him, hands resting on Max’s shoulders.

 

“Alright, Blueberry, do you remember the plan for the day?” Magnus asked.

 

“We’re going to the Bu-way-nos Air-rays,” Max sounded out, “so you can help Daddy.”

 

“Help Alexander with recovering Rafael’s memories,” Magnus clarified. “And while I am helping Rafael recover his memories, what are you supposed to be doing?”

 

“I get to play with Daddy!” Max beamed at the thought.

 

“And if Daddy and I are both busy?”

 

Max’s shoulders drooped dejectedly. “I’m suppos’d to stay inside the room.”

 

“And…?” Magnus drew out.

 

“And I’m not suppos’d to go exploring ‘round the In’tute,” Max mumbled, his plans foiled by his Papa’s forethought.

 

Magnus chuckled, dropping a kiss on Max’s head. Standing up, he held out his hand to his son. “Ready to go?”

 

Small, blue fingers wrapped around Magnus’ longer, ring-clasped fingers. Giving Max’s hand a slight squeeze, Magnus opened up a portal in the loft’s entryway. Max squealed with delight, tugging Magnus toward the portal. Magnus made sure to keep a solid grip on Max’s hand, lest the boy’s excitement cause him to inadvertently end up anywhere else besides Alec’s suite.

 

Both warlocks stepped out of the portal, Max with a slight jump to his step. His feet had barely touched the ground before he launched himself at Alec. “Daddy!”

 

Alec and Rafael had been staring out of the Institute windows at a local parade happening in the streets below them. Alec had turned around at the sound of a portal crackling open behind him, but still barely caught Max out of pure reflex. Bringing Max up close to his chest, Alec peppered growling kisses into Max’s neck and shoulder. His son’s delighted squeals brought a smile to the Shadowhunter’s face.

 

Alec pulled back far enough to bump noses with Max. “Is that my Blueberry?” Alec shifted his son so Max could wrap his legs around Alec’s side. “You’re a little heavy to be my Blueberry!”

 

“It’s me, Daddy!” Max waved Magnus over. “Papa! Tell Daddy it’s me!”

 

“I’m pretty sure it’s him, Alexander,” Magnus confirmed, walking over to finagle Max’s backpack off of his shoulders. Letting the backpack hang from his fingertips, Magnus explained, “He brought a lot of new treasures from his Aunt Izzy to show you.”

 

Alec ruefully rolled his eyes at his sister’s constant spoiling of her nephew. “If Papa says it’s you,” he sighed dramatically, “I guess it is you.”

 

Max giggled at his Daddy, when the silent boy in the window watching the entire exchange caught his attention. In a loud whisper, Max asked, “Daddy, who’s that?”

 

Alec glanced over at Rafael. Placing a hand on Rafael’s shoulder, Alec said, “Max, this is Rafael, the boy I’ve been helping. Can you say ‘ Hola ’?”

 

The two boys contemplated each other. Max was already not happy with this other boy, having been made to share his Daddy because of him. Rafael stared in shock at the Max’s blue skin and hair as well as his horns. Rafael had seen a lot of things while living on the streets, but nothing like the small boy in Alec’s arms.

 

“O-La” Max greeted quickly before tucking himself into his father’s shoulder. Alec lifted his chin out of habit to let Max’s horns find a place to settle before letting it rest on blue locks.

 

Sensing that that was all they were going to get out of Max at the moment, Magnus turned to greet Rafael as well. “ Hola, Rafael. ¿Ha sido así?”

 

Rafael tore his gaze away from Max to nod. Pointing at Magnus and then Max, he asked, “ ¿Hechicero?

 

,” Magnus replied. “ This is our son, Max. He’s a warlock, too.”

 

Rafael nodded his head slowly in understanding, slightly uneasy at meeting the blue-skinned newcomer. He looked back and forth between Max in Alec’s arms and Magnus. “ Tú eres ... esta es tu familia?

 

Magnus could see the cogs working in the young boy’s head, trying to categorize everyone and everything in his immediate surroundings. He opened his mouth to reply, but Max interjected. “Papa, why is he talking funny?”

 

“Rafael isn’t talking funny,” Alec chided. “Papa and Rafael are speaking in Spanish since it’s easier for Rafael to understand Spanish than English. And your Papa is really good at speaking in Spanish.”

 

“Thank you, Alexander,” Magnus replied, a soft smile forming at his boyfriend’s praise. Magnus turned to Max. “Blueberry, Spanish shouldn’t sound funny to you. You’ve heard Aunt Izzy and I speak it all the time.”

 

“Still sounds funny,” Max mumbled petulantly.

 

Magnus chose to ignore his son’s behavior for the moment. It seemed Max was developing his first taste of jealousy. Turning back to Rafael, Magnus replied gently, “ , this is my family.

 

Alec nodded to the couch, shepherding them to move away from the window where they could all sit more comfortably. Magnus passed off Max’s backpack to Alec as he got comfortable against an armrest, Max half-on, half-off his lap as he reached out for the backpack. Magnus took a seat on the opposite end of the couch, while Rafael looked between them before decided to take the empty space in the middle, obviously intrigued by Max riffling through his goodies to show his Dad.  

 

“Rafael?” Magnus broached gently. When the boy turned an expectant face up toward him, Magnus continued. “You do know what we are trying to do today, correct?

 

Rafael simply shrugged nonchalantly, his attention slowly drifting away from Magnus to Max and all of the items he was still pulling out of his backpack.

 

We want to reunite you with your family, if at all possible. So you can be with the people who love you.” There was a catch in Magnus’ voice when he spoke. “Do you remember your parents at all? Your mother? Your father?

 

The boy tilted his head in question, his face blank, before shrugging his shoulders. Not interested in the line of topic, he started to look around the room for something more interesting, eyes falling back to Max’s backpack.

 

Alec tried a different approach. Reaching over Max, Alec picked up Rafael’s hand, the one with the Voyance rune on it. Once he was sure he had Rafael’s attention, he asked in English, “Do you remember who gave you this?”

 

Rafael’s brow furrowed in thought before slowly shaking his head. A book slipped from Max’s lap onto the couch next to Rafael. Pulling his hand out of Alec’s grasp, Rafael picked up the children’s book, intrigued by the picture of three dogs in pirate hats on the cover. Max, realizing he was bereft of a book, looked around before seeing it in Rafael’s hands.

 

When Max saw his book in Rafael’s hands, his blue skin and eyes almost turning green with jealousy - Alec liked to say that Max was more like a fairy from J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” than a warlock at times; he was a very small creature and his body could only hold one emotion at a time.

 

“Mine, Mine, Mine!” shouted Max, hands slapping at Rafael’s face and sides to get him to release the book. Rafael brought the book up to block the barrage coming from the younger boy.

 

Alec stepped in, snatching Max’s hands in midair, pulling his son to his side. “Max!”

 

“It’s mine,” whined Max, turning blue eyes, watery with angry tears, at his father. Max pushed against Alec’s hold, legs kicking in Rafael’s direction. “He took it!”

 

Magnus turned Rafael toward him, checking the young Nephilim over. Once he was satisfied that the boy was more surprised than hurt, he turned to level his son with a look. “Max, stop that this instant.”

 

Max stopped kicking, but the pout he sent Magnus’s way was only rivaled by the glare coming from his eyes.

 

“Max Lightwood-Bane,” Magnus’s voice was firm and held no room for argument. “You know very well you are not supposed to act like that. Rafael did not take your book. He was looking at it when it fell off your lap. There was no need for you to hit him.”

 

“Apologize,” Alec demanded from above Max.

 

“Actually,” Magnus added with a raised finger, “you will apologize to Rafael in his native language. Repeat after me. ‘Siento haberte golpeado’ .”

 

Max opened his mouth to argue at the unfairness of the situation, but balked when faced with his parents’ expressions promised instant reprimand if he continued. Crossing his arms across his chest, he glared to the side and grumbled, “Say-in-toe ha-brr-tay gold-pee-a-dough.”

 

“Grumbling into the couch doesn’t count as an apology, Max,” Alec said as he turned his son to face Rafael again. “Do it again and this time say sorry like you mean it.”

 

Max huffed before leveling his gaze on the boy next to him, who was a little confused still. “Say-in-toe ha-brr-tay gold-pee-a-adough.”

 

Rafael looked at Max quizzingly before nodding and accepting his apology.

 

“Thank you, Max. That was a very good apology,” Magnus added. When Max reached to grab his book, Magnus stopped him. “However, it is always better to learn to share. Rafael can look at your book while I set up the spell circle. You can show Daddy everything else you brought with you.”

 

Max’s argument died in his throat at the flash of golden cat eyes and raised eyebrows daring him to continue. He instead decided to curl back sheepishly into his Dad’s side, sensing it would be a bad thing to continue to push his Papa’s boundaries any further. Alec hauled Max into his lap, picking up an item at random to ask him questions and refocusing the boy’s attention. Rafael begin to flip through the children’s book in front of him, running fingers over the drawings telling a story about a ship full of pirate puppies.

 

Magnus peered over Rafael’s shoulder as he flipped through the pages of the storybook based on one of Max’s favorite cartoons. The young boy delighted in watching the illustrations depict the pirate puppies, led by Captain Pirate Puppy Scalleywags, take on their enemy Captain Black Bark. Rafael’s fingers ran over the words narrating the story, making Magnus wonder exactly how much he could understand written English as well. Rafael was content to look over the book for a moment while Max chattered to Alec about everything that had happened to him since he had last seen the older Shadowhunter and Magnus saw no reason to push performing the memory spell just yet.

 

The trill of trumpets sounding from the street below had Rafael perking his head up. He tossed the book aside, ignoring Max’s whine about not treating it nicely, to rush over to the large windows he and Alec had been standing at earlier, pressing his face and hands against the window pane. Magnus followed at a more subdued pace, staring out to see a parade happening below. A band of musicians were playing along to the parade below as people danced along on the sidelines, a mix and swirl of bright colors and smiling faces. Alec brought Max over so he could stare out at the parade as well.

 

“He's been fascinated by this all morning,” Alec nodded to the parade below as he resettled Max to a safer hold in his arms. Next to the window, Rafael’s small body practically hummed with excited energy, swaying slightly with the dancers below. Magnus couldn’t help the fond expression that crossed his face.

 

Tell me, Rafael ,” Magnus said, snapping his fingers to allow the music below to drift throughout the room at a louder volume and holding out a hand to the boy, “ do you dance?

 

Rafael looked at the older warlock over his shoulder before glancing down out his outreached hand. With a bright grin, Rafael dashed over to grip Magnus’s hand, pulling the warlock into a spinning version of a dance. Magnus held out his other hand to help Rafe balance while the boy spun Magnus in something that resembled a whirling dervish more than a dance.

 

“I don’t think dancing counts as official Shadowhunter training,” Alec chuckled over the music. Nonetheless, he brought one of Max’s hands up and began to dance a simple sidestep with the boy in his arms. Max’s giggles joined the music in the room.

 

“Nonsense!” Magnus cried, pushing Rafe from him before pulling him back in. “Some of the best Shadowhunters I’ve known were excellent dancers.” He waggled his eyebrows in mock serious at Rafael. “ Dance lessons are an absolute must if one wishes to be among the best of the best when it comes to Shadowhunters.

 

“Then what does that make Uncle Jace, Papa?” Max asked coyly over his father’s shoulder.

 

“Not the best, Blueberry!” Magnus replied. Alec threw back his head and barked with laughter. His parabatai’s two left feet were legendary when it came to dancing, despite the blonde Shadowhunter’s insistence otherwise.

 

The four of them continued to dance around the room, Alec and Magnus occasionally switching partners. Both of the boys’ dancing styles were more a waving of arms, bouncing up and down, and a jerkingly swaying of hips more than anything that resembled any structured dance. Not that either man cared, happy enough to spend the moment dancing and playing around. Magnus spun Max toward Alec, arms spread out to catch Rafe as Alec spun him to his boyfriend.

 

“What is going on here!” came a thundering voice over the music.

 

All four turned to see Leandros Starklight coming into the room, face drawn into a scowl. Rafael ducked behind Magnus’s legs, putting the warlock between him and the Head of the Buenos Aires Institute. Max held up his hands for Alec to pick him up, instantly wary of the new man in the room. Magnus snapped his fingers to allow the music to die down.

 

“Lightwood!” Starklight barked. “I thought your warlock was supposed to be retrieving our young Shadowhunter’s memories. Not dancing around like fools.” He spared a glance at Max, pointing accusingly at the boy. “And what is an unauthorized warlock doing in the Institute? I understand that your...dealings with the Downworld are tolerated at the New York Institute, but such things will not abided here.”

 

“Watch your tone, Starklight,” Alec warned, his voice and eyes cold as steel, as he shifted Max on his hip. “My son is here because both my boyfriend and I are here.”

 

Leandros stepped in close to Alec. “Are you challenging me, Lightwood?”

 

“If you scare or insult my son again, I will be.”

 

“We were just about to begin the spell to recover Rafael’s memories,” Magnus interjected, trying to quell the tension between the two Shadowhunters as he sidled up next to Alec, a hand brushing his shoulder, “when we all became a little distracted by the parade. And since spells always work better when little boys filled with energy are able to stay still, I figured a little dance party would help our Mr. Santiago expel some of his extra energy.”

 

Starklight looked away from Alec to where Magnus’s other hand rested gently on Rafael’s head, who was still using the warlock as a shield. This seemed to rile Starklight up even more.

 

“Stop calling him that,” Starklight gritted. “Santiago is not a Shadowhunter name!”

 

When he felt ten small fingers dig deeper into his leg and the head underneath his hand tremble in fear, Magnus dropped all pretenses of niceties. “Santiago may not be a Shadowhunter name, but Lightwood is.”

 

“What?” snapped Starklight.

 

“What?” Alec repeated hesitantly, side-eyeing his boyfriend.

 

Magnus waved a hand reassuringly in Alec’s direction, his expression silently conveying for the other man to follow along. “Tell me, Starklight,” Magnus began, eyes level on the other man, “who among your Shadowhunters has stepped forward to help raise our young Rafael? Give me a name besides Alexander’s.”

 

Starklight sputtered a moment, mouth opening and closing as he racked his brain about his Institute’s Shadowhunter’s’ interactions with Rafael over the past couple of weeks. Finally he settled on an explanation. “The boy has refused to leave Lightwood’s side. My Shadowhunters haven’t even had the chance to really interact with the boy.”

 

Starklight gestured first to Rafael and then Alec, crossing his arms as if his rationalization for why his Shadowhunters hadn’t stepped forward made perfect sense.

 

Magnus’s smile was practically cruel as he looked the man up and down in contempt. “ Are you sure that any of them even tried?”

 

“Alexander,” Magnus said much more brightly, waving his arms to encompass the room as a whole, “did any of the other Shadowhunters ever approach you with the intent of possibly seeing if they might be a good fit to raise Rafael? Or even inquire about his well-being? Besides our Mr. Steelloom?”

 

“It’s Starklight!’

 

“I don’t care,” retorted Magnus. “Alexander?”

 

“None.” answered Alec. His voice was hard, having caught onto his boyfriend’s train of thought.

 

“So in light of this glaring blunder by you and your Institute, there is nothing stopping Alexander from adopting Rafael. In fact, given the circumstances, it seems he already has.”

 

“Fine,” Starklight bit off, looking at Alec’s nod of agreement, “so Lightwood’s adopted the boy.” Still displeased with Rafael hiding behind Magnus, he reached around Magnus to try and pull Rafael from out behind him. “Shadowhunters don’t hide behind warlocks.”

 

Magnus gripped Starklight’s wrist before he could grab Rafael, imbuing his magic and strength into his grip, cat-eyes glowing bright. “You forget, Starklight, any child of Alexander Lightwood’s is a child of mine. You will not touch my son.”

 

Magnus released Starklight, who stumbled back rubbing his wrist. “Filthy warlock! You think you can raise a child of the Nephilim?”

 

“Stop that! You’re mean!” Max yelled, batting his arms toward Starklight. “Stop being mean to my Papa!”

 

Alec slowly set Max on the ground, moving his son to stand behind him, never taking his eyes off of Starklight. “Magnus Bane is not a filthy warlock. He is the High Warlock of Brooklyn - a position well deserved of your respect - and more powerful than you will ever know. The Shadowhunters are indebted to him for his help during the war against Valentine.”

 

“Of course you would think that. You and your love of…,” Starklight sneered, scanning over the group, “...Downworlders.”

 

“I don’t like you,” yelled Max, head peeping out from behind Alec’s leg. Tugging at his father’s leg, he looked up at his father. In a full-blown, leg stomping tantrum, he exclaimed, “I don’t wanna be here. I want Chairman Meow! I want to go home! Right! Now!”

 

Everyone in the room paused when the air grew thick - not with tension from the arguing adults, but the electricity of magic forming. It raced along skin, causing hair to stand on end, only for it to centralize in the form of a small, white, fur-singed cat landing in between the Lightwood-Bane family and Starklight.

 

Max’s eyes lit up with glee. “CHAIRMAN!”

 

Realizing the boy’s gleeful screech could only mean more trouble for him, the cat darted off to hide in the suite. Max followed the cat in hot pursuit, Rafael trailing behind him. Both Alec and Magnus traded looks of shock and disbelief at what their son had just accomplished, while Starklight began ranting about unauthorized use of magic and breaking of the Accords.

 

With a shared rolling of their eyes, Magnus went off to catch Chairman while Alec grabbed Starklight by the collar of his shirt. Pushing Starklight out of the suite, Alec stopped at the doorway.

 

“Here’s the deal, Starklight,” Alec rattled off. “There’s been no breaking of the Accords. What you just saw was my son’s first demonstration of magic - a fluke. Magnus and I are going to catch Chairman, pack Rafael’s and my things, and then we - Magnus, Max, Rafael, and I - are portaling back to New York. You aren’t going to do anything to stop us.”

 

With a sarcastic parting grin, Alec unceremoniously shoved Starklight out of the suite and slammed the door in his face. Alec let out a deep sigh, shaking off the tension in his shoulders, before turning around to follow the commotion coming from the master bedroom. Magnus was kneeling on the floor next the bed with his back to the door, hissing as he pulled back the collar of his shirt to examine his shoulder. Max stood next to him with his hands clasped over his mouth, fingers failing to catch the giggles coming from the boy.

 

At Alec’s raised eyebrow, Max dropped his hands to explain. “Chairman Meow scratched Papa.”

 

Alec nodded. “Magnus, you alright?”

 

With a huff, Magnus used the bed to help leverage himself as he stood up. “Yes, Alexander, I’m fine.” Alec came over to pull back Magnus’s collar to get a look at the scratches himself. “Is Starklight gone?”

 

Wincing at the three angry welts beginning to form, Alec was glad to see the scratches were minor and had not given way to bleeding. “Yeah, he’s gone.” He looked his boyfriend in the eyes he loved so much. Sighing, he asked, “So, Rafael?”

 

“So, Rafael,” Magnus repeated with his own sigh, bringing his hands to rest on Alec’s hips. Suddenly tired from the day’s activities, Magnus leaned in for a quick kiss, needing the other man’s strength for what he was about to say. “I couldn’t do it Alexander. I couldn’t leave him here. Where he’s scared all of the time.”

 

Alec raked his hand through his hair a couple of times. “It’s a big responsibility. We- You could have talked to- with me about this.”

 

Magnus let his head fall back with a throaty laugh. “Be honest, Alexander.” Magnus bumped Alec’s hip. “We both knew that first day, that somehow, someway we weren’t leaving that little boy alone in this world.” At Alec’s disgruntled look, Magnus dropped a kiss on his lips. “Alexander, you got to choose Max. It’s my turn to choose.”

 

Alec snorted at Magnus’s comment, but still pulled his boyfriend in for a kiss. “Hmm, speaking of Rafael, where is he?” he asked looking around the room. He leveled his gazed on his now youngest son. “Max, do you know?”

 

Max simply pointed to the open bathroom door.

 

“And Chairman Meow?” Magnus asked.

 

Again, Max gestured to the bathroom.

 

Both men moved toward the bathroom, but stopped in the doorway at the sound of soft purring. Rafael was sitting against the wall next to the toilet that Chairman Meow was hiding behind. The cat was allowing the boy to softly stroke his forehead, his eyes closed and purring to himself.

 

Rafael turned to Alec and Magnus in the doorway with a soft smile. “He like me.”

Chapter Text

Magnus let out an exhausted sigh as he gently closed to door to Rafael’s bedroom behind him. The young nephilim was having a hard time adjusting to living in Brooklyn. The cars that fascinated him by day were too loud and bright in the night, creating shadow creatures on the walls. But even soundproofing spells and blackout curtains couldn’t keep the monsters in his head at bay during the night. Magnus had just gotten him to fall back asleep after a nightmare had caused him to wake up screaming. Memories more than nightmares, Magnus thought bitterly.  It was only the restorative powers of Chairman Meow curling up next to Rafael’s head on his pillow and purring a lullaby as Magnus went through the room and reinforced barriers to keep out the monsters in the night that allowed Rafael to relax enough to go back to bed.

Padding down the hallway to where he could hear Alec cleaning up in the kitchen, Magnus allowed himself to take comfort in watching Alec puttering around the kitchen, doing something as mundane as the dishes, dressed in sweatpants and a tattered, faded black sweater. Groaning to himself, Magnus rested his elbows on the kitchen counter, burying his face in his hands, fingers digging into his scalp.

Alec turned to look at Magnus over his shoulder. “Rafael go back to sleep?”

Magnus scrubbed his hands over his face before letting them to drop as he nodded. “Yeah,” he replied, his voice slightly hoarse. “How about Max?”

Rafael’s screams earlier had woken up the young warlock as well. Alec hummed in agreement as he wiped down the last dinner plate with a dishrag. “He’s down.” Alec tossed the dish rag over his shoulder as he put the plate on the drying rack. Leaning back against the sink, he crossed his arms as he gazed fondly at his boyfriend. “Did you know Max has a nickname for Rafael?”

Magnus quirked an eyebrow and shook his head.

“It’s Rafe,” Alec chuckled.

Magnus stared for a moment before letting out a low, slow chuckle of his own. “I’m sure that’s better than him saying ‘Rah-fae-el’ all of the time. When did you find this out?”

“Earlier tonight,” Alec jerked his head in the general direction of Max’s bedroom. When I was putting him back to bed, he asked if ‘Papa’s making Rafe’s dreams pretty again?’.”

“Hmm, I like that phrase,” Magnus mused as he propped his chin on his fist. “Make his dreams pretty again.”

Alec huffed at the dopey smile on the warlock’s face, rolling his eyes amusedly as he turned around the spray and wipe down the sink with the dish rag. He paused for a moment, licking his lips in thought, only to continue wiping out the sink, mentioning nonchalantly as possible, “Max thought that the reason Rafe screams at night is because his dreams aren't pretty. He didn't use the word ‘happy’, but ‘not pretty’.”

“He’s three, Alexander,” remarked Magnus. “Nightmares have been few and far between for him. It’s safe to say Max thinks of dreams in terms of pretty and not happy. It’s not anything I’d be worried about.” Magnus watched the muscles of Alec’s back slowly release the tension held in them. Drumming his nails on the countertop, he added, “Unfortunately for you, my dear Alexander, I need you to face one of your living nightmares.”

“And what’s that?” Alec asked.

“Going clothes shopping for the boys with me tomorrow,” Magnus replied.


“Come on, Jace! You've got to have something!” Alec hissed into his phone the next morning.

He was pacing back and forth in the living room, supposedly watching the boys while Magnus got ready, checking in with his parabatai to see if there had been any demonic activity that morning. He would deny to his dying day that he was asking, begging for Jace to give him an out from having to be dragged around shopping.

“Sorry. No can do, man,” came the not so secretly amused tone over the line. “It's been quiet around here all morning. Looks like you're just going to have to be Magnus’s pack mule today.”

Alec pulled his phone back to glare at the screen. “Listen here Jace Wayland, Morgenstern, Herondale, Lightwood, whatever the-” he paused mid-turn to see two sets of eyes blinking owlishly at him as they shoved spoonfuls of cereal into their mouths. More calmly he added, “-the name you go by. You are my parabatai. How many times have I covered for you? Just call and say you need me and you'll send Izzy to help with the boys. Izzy loves to shop! And I-”

Alec's tirade was cut off when he felt his phone being tugged out of his hands. Magnus stood behind him with a wry grin and a cocked eyebrow. Alec's phone dangled between the fingertips topped off with black nail polish. Magnus was dressed in a black silk brocade blazer, white button down left loose at the collar, and cranberry skinny jeans tucked into dark boots. Cranberry streaks accentuated his eyes and hair, leaving Alec dry-mouthed and flabbergasted.

“Alec is hanging up now,” Magnus said loud enough for Jace to hear. Which Alec was sure he could given the laughs coming through the receiver. Pressing the end call button, Magnus smirked at Alec. “Coward.”

Alec bristled at the playful insult, opening his mouth to defend himself only to let out a groan instead. “Come on, Magnus. Do you really need me there today?”

“Yes,” Magnus retorted sarcastically with a shake of his head as he returned Alec’s phone, “I really need you there today. As much as I know you love your hole-worn sweaters,” he wiggled a finger in the hole on Alec’s forearm for good measure, “some are on their last legs and need to be replaced.”

When Alec opened his mouth to rebuke to state of his wardrobe, Magnus stepped forward to place a finger against his lips, silencing his comment. Leaning in close to his boyfriend, he whispered conspiringly, “And I’ll have a better chance of getting Rafael to try on clothes if he sees you doing the same thing.”

“Can’t you just…,” Alec waved his hand in the air, a poor imitation of Magnus’s usual flair when casting spells.

Magnus leaned back abashed, cross his arms in front of his chest. “Why Alexander! For someone who was so adamant about teaching Max about not using magic for everything, you sure are willing to do so now.”

Alec rolled his eyes with a grimace at Magnus’s antics. Scratching at his eyebrows with a pained expression, he relented with a sigh. “You owe me.”

“Now, why don’t you go get ready, darling?” Magnus winked in reply. At Alec’s petulant look, he affectionately patted his Shadowhunter on the chest, brushing a kiss against his cheek. “Go on, Alexander. I’ll get the boys ready.”

By the time Alec was done getting ready, dressed in his typical dark jeans and black T-shirt, Magnus had both of the boys dressed and Max’s skin glamoured. Magnus was sitting on the couch with Rafael trying to get shoes on the boy’s feet. Alec had quickly learned in Buenos Aires that Rafael had an aversion to wearing shoes and wished Magnus well. Knowing Magnus would eventually win the battle of the shoes - as he refused to let Rafael out of the apartment without wearing any, Alec turned his attention to Max, whose hair was still blue.

Alec ruffled the blue hair as Max went about tightening the velcro straps of his sneakers. “Good job, bud. Are you waiting for Papa to do your hair?”

Max shook his head with a smile. “Uh-uh. Today it’s blue!”

Figuring that blue hair wouldn’t be too much of a give away of Max’s warlock status in the middle of Brooklyn, Alec decided to roll with it. When Magnus walked up to his side, dragging a reluctant Rafael between his legs, Alec asked, “Strollers or no?”

“Strollers,” Magnus agreed adamantly, blowing a lock of hair that had fallen out of place out of his eyes. Alec twisted the strand back into the warlock’s quaff with a fond grin. Magnus gave him a look of thanks as he juggled a squirming Rafael, who was quite determined to have his bones become liquid from how much he was trying to melt into the floor.

Magnus leaned down to whisper in Rafael’s ear. “ I know you don’t like it, but you have to wear shoes when going outside. It’s only for a couple of hours, I promise.

Magnus’s comment appeased Rafael only to the point of avoiding a full-blown tantrum. He was still petulant as Alec loaded him and Max into separate folding strollers he pulled out of a hallway closet, Magnus in the process of creating a portal. Rafael stared wide-eyed at the swirling mass of magic, still unused to seeing such things. Next to him, Max was chattering to Alec, completely unfazed.

“I figured Nordstrom would be best,” Magnus mentioned as he took charge of Rafael’s stroller. “Get things for the boys and you all under one roof.”

Alec nodded in agreement, happy that the day wouldn’t consist of multiple shops. Grabbing Max’s stroller, he linked arms with his boyfriend. “Well,” Alec quirked an eyebrow at Magnus, “lead the way.”

The family of four came out of the portal on a side street a couple of blocks away from the flagship store in Union Square. Rafael turned around to watch the portal blink out of existence with a gasp, Magnus shooting the boy a conspiring wink. As they made their way to Nordstrom, Magnus in the lead and Alec following behind as they made their way through the crowds, Rafal kept tucking himself further and further against the back of the stroller, eyes scanning the streets for any monsters that may attack. Even once they had left the crush of the crowds in the streets, Rafael still peered nervously out of the stroller at the strange, faceless, white creatures that stood still in such stiff poses in groups on and around tables and racks showcasing various clothes, more than he had seen in one place at any given time.

As Magnus steered them through the store toward the boys’ section, he chatted amicably with Alec about a game plan for the day. “Both boys need more cold weather gear - pants, long sleeve shirt, jackets, you know.” He waved a hand near his temple, as if he was checking off an invisible checklist. “They need to be measured for shoes, as I’m sure Max has hit another growth spurt.”

“Rafael will need some training boots and clothes as well,” Alec added.

“Play clothes,” Magnus rectified. “There’s no need to shove him into Shadowhunter training just yet.”

Alec snorted in disbelief. “You think Izzy and Jace aren’t going to try to train him at their first availability?”

“Ahh, yes, well…” Magnus mused as they turned into the boys’ section, turning his attention to the clothes hanging off the rack nearest to him, eyeing them critically.

Alec scanned through the clothing rack with bored intrigue, only to spot something that chilled him to the bone, thankful that Max hadn’t spotted it already. “Magnus!” Alec hissed under his breath, trying to get the warlock’s attention without alerting their son.

“What, Alexander?” Magnus replied nonplussed, looking up from where he had been deciding between two shirt designs.

Alec jerked his head to the display, mouthing, “Make it go away.”

Magnus looked around, grimacing when he saw the display, a bounty of brightly colored clothing. “I can’t,” he mouthed through gritted teeth, his eyes blown wide in frustration at the pair of women who had approached the display. “Too many mundanes.”

Right as Alec opened his mouth to respond, Max laid eyes on the display. “Pirate Puppy Scalleywags!” he squealed, kicking at the stroller in excitement. Alec sighed as he rolled the stroller closer to the display of clothes depicting Max’s favorite cartoon show. Magnus held up his forefinger, mouthing for Max to only get one item. Alec rolled his eyes in acknowledgement as Max unbuckled himself, jumping out of the stroller and making his way to the display.

Lifting a shirt at random, Max held it up to Alec. “Daddy, Daddy, look! Scalleywags!”

“I can see that,” Alec placated his son with exaggerated cheerfulness.

Max smiled up at him before rushing back to Magnus and Rafael, shoving the shirt into Rafael’s face. “Rafe, Rafe, look! It’s Pirate Puppy Scalleywags,” Max exclaimed, pointing to a sandy hair dog in a black pirate’s hat with a skull and crossbones on a ship deck, flanked by two other dogs. “And that’s First Paw Patches,” Max explained, pointing to a black and white spotted dog, wearing a red handkerchief tied around his head and black eyepatch, “and that’s Cabin Pup Toby,” pointing to a small, black and brown wiry terrier in a beaten up tri-fold hat with a green scarf tied around his neck. “They sail the high seas looking for treasure and fight the billanus-”

“Villainous,” Magnus corrected his son.

Max glared at his father unimpressed. Turning back to Rafael, he continued, “...and fight the bad guy, Black Bark.” Max leaned in close to whisper to Rafael, “He steals the treasure.”

Rafael slowly nodded as Max pulled back with a wide grin. Max held up the shirt for his Papa’s approval.

Magnus looked at the tag for the size and shook his head. “Wrong size,” he said, handing the shirt back to Max. “Go ask your Papa to see if they have this in a 4T.”

“4T,” Max repeated to himself. He turned and made his way back to Alec. “4T. 4T. 4T. 4T.”

Racing over to where Alec was, he bumped against his father’s legs and Alec’s hand came down to steady him against his back. Max held up the shirt. “Papa says I need this,” he scrunched his face in memory, “inna 4T.”

“Papa said,” Alec corrected, taking the shirt and returning it to the rack as he searched for the correct size. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Max scrunching his nose in displeasure. “Something the matter, Blueberry?”

“You and Papa don’t correct Rafe when he’s speaking,” Max observed.

“Yes, we do, Blueberry” Alec replied, walking his fingers over hangers. “You just don’t notice.”

“Don’t seem like you do,” Max pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.

“I promise we do,” Alec sighed. Pulling three different hangers off in the correct size, he held them out to Max. “Alright, Max, we’ve got three choices, but you can only have one. Papa’s orders.”

Max considered them before pointing to a red hoodie with Pirate Scalleywags on the front with the hood designed to look like his pirate hat.

“Great choice,” Alec confirmed, hooking the hoodie on the back of the stroller and putting the rest away. Max climbed back into the stroller, content to ride along for the moment.

“That child has blue hair!”

Both Alec and Max looked up at one of the mundane ladies from earlier. The middle aged woman was looking at Max aghast. Alec raised an eyebrow in her direction. “Yes, yes he does. Your point?”

“How could you do something like that to such a precious baby boy?” The woman ranted, as if couldn’t stand the sheer thought of a child having unnatural hair color. “What must your wife think?”

Alec rolled his eyes dramatically at the woman’s audacity. “Actually, my boyfriend thinks he did a pretty amazing job with Blueberry’s hair today.”

He failed to hide the smirk at the sound of her choking on air as he leaned over the stroller to ruffle Max’s hair. “Why I never!”

“I’m sure you have,” Alec quipped, steering the stroller away from her. “Say goodbye to the rude lady, Max.”

Max turned around in the stroller to wave at her. “Bye, rude lady!”

Magnus quirked an eyebrow at Alec when they made their way back over to him and Rafe. Alec shrugged in response, not really caring about any possibility of insulting the other woman. She had brought it on herself, in his opinion, for inserting herself where she didn’t belong. The exasperated look on Magnus’s face let him know that they would definitely be talking about this later, away from curious little ears.

Magnus turned to Rafe, holding up two shirts and eyeing them against the young Nephilim, who was glancing back and forth at the pieces as the moved closer and farther away from his face in confusion. Max was quickly growing antsy in his stroller and decided to climb out, moving to pull Rafe out of his as well. The two boys walked around the nearby clothes racks, both of their parents keeping a general watch on their movement, taking turns hiding in-between clothes and popping out to scare the other. Once Magnus had pulled enough clothes for the boys to try on to suit him, he and Alec wrangled them back into their strollers.

Alec had started to head to the fitting rooms when Magnus tugged the back of his shirt, pulling him to a stop. “Not so fast, mister. Don’t think you’re getting out of shopping for you, as well.”

Alec barely suppressed his groan as he redirected Max’s stroller toward the men’s department.


Alec pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh, Magnus pushing him toward the empty fitting rooms with a saucy grin and a little wave. Turning on his heel, the warlock made his way to where the boys were waiting.

Alec trudged toward the fitting rooms when something caught his eye. A quick glance showed a preoccupied Magnus as Max tried to show him something. Alec quickly checked the size of the item hanging on the reject rack, a maniacal grin tugging at his lips when they were in his size. Snagging it off the rack, he stuffed it underneath the clothes Magnus had plied him with earlier.

Magnus perked up when the sound  of the fitting room door opened a few minutes later, revealing Alec. Magnus’s eyes trailed down the Shadowhunter’s shoulders where the sweater hung just a little loosely, but could be fixed a size down, Magnus thought to himself, before continuing onto the pants Alec was wearing.

“Alexander!” Magnus cried in pure horror. “What are you wearing?”

“Hmm?” Alec looked up nonchalantly, before rechecking his reflection. “Oh, Izzy told me that acid wash jeans were all the rage. I saw a pair on the rack and thought I'd try them on.”

“Get out of those this instant!” Magnus was bug-eyed in the mirror.

“Magnus!” Alec mimicked Magnus’s shocked tone. “Not in front of the children.”

Magnus leveled his boyfriend with a glare. “As wonderful as you are, my darling, not even I could pull those off when those were originally in style.” He pointed to the fitting room door. “Next outfit.”

Alec chuckled to himself at the trick having gone off so well, but hurried to get out of the jeans all the same.

The rest of the outfits went fairly quickly, discussing fit, color, and comfort, before deciding on a couple of new sweaters, jeans, and a leather jacket for Alec. Rafael had been watching the entire time, Alec noted, picking up social cues from the way Magnus hovered around Alec with the reveal of each new outfit and the way Max would offer up simple critiques on whether or not he liked an outfit or overall just could not be bothered to care.

When it came time for the boys to try on clothes, Alec and Rafael were in one fitting room and Magnus and Max were in the other.

“I’m more interested in finding the correct size,” Magnus mentioned as he hung up clothes for Rafael to try on in the fitting room. “Preferably something he can grow into. I can work with everything else once I have that.”

Which left Alec having to convince Rafael that yes, he had to try on the clothes; yes, his current clothes could be kept safe in the corner and would be returned to him; and yes, you have to take off your shoes to try on clothes, which promptly had the young nephilim plopping down on the ground of the fitting room and yanking his shoes off with glee.

Alec grabbed the first outfit at random, a pair of dark jeans with an elastic waistband and a t-shirt that featured a fox design. The jeans were long enough and with enough room for growth and stood up to a bouncing Rafe, which had Alec cheering internally as it meant one less shopping trip, but the shirt ended up being too tight, causing Rafe to squirm uncomfortably. That one and any shirts of the same size were quickly moved to the discard pile. The process was repeated for each item of clothing, sometimes coming out for Magnus’s input, until Rafe had a nice pile of pants, shorts, t-shirts, and a couple of long-sleeve shirts as well. Alec made a mental note of any shirt that Rafe showed interest in, but were too small, specifically the fox shirt he kept coming back to and fingering.

Magnus poked his head into the dressing room. “Are you about done?”

Alec nodded, passing the size- and Rafe-approved clothes over to Magnus. “These work,” Alec mentioned. Turning back to Rafe, who had gotten back into his street clothes, Alec put his hands on his hips and said, “Alright, Rafael, time to put your shoes back on. Zapatos .”

Rafael stared at Alec in full betrayal, as if he had offered to have every single vampire in the state of New York over for dinner. Magnus, sensing the oncoming tantrum from the tensing of Rafael’s shoulders, intervened.

“He’s fine not wearing shoes at the moment, darling.” Once Rafael had made his way out of the dressing room and back into his stroller, Magnus leaned closer to whisper in Alec’s ear. “Shoes are the next item on the list.”


Magnus was three seconds away from praying to every god, goddess, demon, and angel he could name if they would just get Rafael to try on a pair of shoes without further body injury to himself. Currently, Rafael was laying on his back in the middle of the shoe department sales floor, screaming in frustration and tears, kicking at Magnus every time he tried to wrangle a new pair of shoe on his feet.

“Do not kick me.” Magnus’s voice was emphasized with calm authority as he rocked back  against his heels where they were folded underneath him, blowing a lock of hair out of his eyes in an equally frustrated breath as the boy in front of him. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he explained, “ Rafael , usted tiene que usar zapatos.

Rafael glared at the warlock in front of him, face red in anger. “ No quiero! Duele!

Magnus glanced around the shoe department, happy to see that everyone around him - mundanes and shopkeepers alike - were doing their best to turn their backs to the squalling boy in the middle of a full-blown tantrum. Taking the opportunity for what it was, Magnus snagged a box of red sneakers in Rafael’s size off the shelf, pulling the boy closer to him. Insuring that all of the mundanes where occupied elsewhere, the sneakers made their way onto Rafael’s feet with a twist of Magnus’s wrist. Another snap of his fingers had the laces tightening themselves. Magnus picked Rafael up underneath his armpits to stand him up.

“No. No. No!” Stomp. Flash.

Both boy and man stared down at the sneakers as Rafael repeated the action again. Stomp, flash. Stomp, flash. Stomp, flash. Rafael began to dance in place, fascinated by the red lights coming from out of his heels, as he stomped his feet in a circle.

Magia. Son zapatos mágicos. ” He spun on his heel just a tad too fast to face Magnus again, who was there with a bracing hand, a bright grin splitting the boy’s face into two. “ Soy un hechicero también!

Magnus chuckled quietly at that, ruffling Rafael’s hair. “And a fine one at that.”

Rafael moved to the center of the sales floor, jumping about, only to be quickly joined by Max, who had been trying on shoes with Alec. As the two boys amused themselves with their new shoes, Magnus flagged down a sales person, shoving the shoe boxes that the shoes the boys were currently wearing at the man.

“Give me these in the next three sizes up. These dress shoes in the next size up as well.” Magnus scanned the pile of discarded shoe boxes around them when Alec held up a pair of child-sized boots. “And those in the next four sizes up.”

The salesperson, who almost couldn’t see above the boxes towering in their arms, nodded. “Uh, I’ll have them waiting at the register for you.”

“Perfect,” replied Magnus, clapping his hands together as if to settle the matter.


Alec and Magnus collapsed on the living room couch, strollers and shopping bags magicked to their proper places. The tv in front of them was playing a Pirate Puppy Scalleywags episode with Max and Rafael acting out the pirate puppies requests.

Magnus leaned over to Alec and asked in a stage whisper, “Why can’t I drink when they watch this show?”

Alec groaned in mutual agreement at how often Max had forced them to watch/tortured them with his obsession for the show. “We don’t drink around the kids. We drink after they’ve gone to bed.”

Max, as if he knew his parents had been discussing him, raced over to the couch, pulling at Alec’s arms. “Daddy! Papa! Black Bark is gonna find the treasure before Scalleywags! We’s gotta stop him!”

Alec groaned goodnaturedly as his son dragged him in front of the TV set to act out Pirate Puppy Scalleywags’s orders. Looking over his shoulder, he hooked his finger at his boyfriend, demanding he join as well. Magnus hip-checked Alec as he came to stand next to him, fingers drifting across the Shadowhunter’s back.

When their sons were properly distracted by the TV, Magnus brushed his lips against the shell of Alec’s ear. “Are you sure I can’t get you that drink?”

Chapter Text

Alec was walking down the hallways of the Institute and going over the last details of a Clave meeting with Lindsey on his tablet. They confirmed a few minor technical support things before Alec thanked her and she headed on her way. Alec scrolled through information on the tablet screen as he entered his office. He was halfway to his desk before he realized he had a visitor. Magnus sat in one of the club chairs, slouched over as he rested forearms on knees and staring blankly at the decor of Alec’s office. A brightly colored napkin was held loosely between the warlock’s fingers.

Alec set his tablet on his desk before moving closer to his unmoving boyfriend. “Magnus?”

Magnus remained lost in his thoughts. So Alec repeated his name again, this time slightly louder, concern lacing through his voice as he came to crouch next to Magnus’s chair.

“Rafe doesn’t have a birthday,” eventually came the whispered reply.

“What?” Alec asked. “Magnus, what are you talking about?”

“Rafe doesn’t have a birthday,” Magnus repeated, still staring ahead blankly. “I was buying things for Max’s 4th birthday party and thinking about how Max is going to enjoy it and how much fun it’s going to be when we have one for Rafe, and…” Magnus’s voice trailed off as he glanced at the napkin in his hand, which Alec could now see was printed with brightly colored balloons spelling out Happy Birthday. Magnus turned to Alec with a broken look on face. “...and I realized Rafe doesn’t have a birthday.”

Alec reached up to cradle his boyfriend’s face with both hands, thumbs brushing the warlock’s cheeks gently. “Magnus, come on. You know that’s not true. Of course, Rafe has a birthday.”

Magnus squeezed Alec’s wrists before pulling them down. “I know he has a birthday realistically, but we don’t know when it is. Think, Alexander. During everything with Rafe’s adoption, do you ever remember him mentioning his birthday?”

Alec rocked back on his heels as he tried to think of any mention of Rafe’s birthday.

“Of course he doesn’t know when it is, Alexander,” came Magnus’s response to Alec’s continued silence as he racked his brain for information. “He was too young to remember his parents, much less when he was born.”

Magnus released Alec’s hands and began pacing back and forth across the office. “And we never decided a birthday for him. I mean what happens if we just choose a random date and he does know when his birthday is and just hasn’t told us? I mean we are still getting him to open up to us.” Magnus rambled off quickly, voice growing higher in panic and arms and hands punctuating points in the air. “And by Lilith, what if his birthday has already passed and here we are preparing a birthday party for Max and we didn’t have one for him and he thinks we love Max more than him?”

Alec leaned his back against the front of Magnus’s abandoned chair, watching his boyfriend pace back and forth across his office. Alec’s mind began to spiral as he worked through Magnus’s thought process. While Rafe had begun to open up to the two of them and Max, he still didn’t like talking about everything that happened to him in Buenos Aires. Something like his birth date could fall in those lines, but like Magnus said, he may have been too young to remember when his birthday was. Pushing off of the floor, he caught Magnus’s hand when he passed close.

“Magnus, Magnus,” Alec tried to get the warlock to look at him, guiding him close by his wrist, his other hand caressing his boyfriend’s face, “breathe for me, okay? We never really knew Max’s birthday either - we just made a rough estimate and threw a dart at a calendar. But we’re okay. Max doesn’t care when his birthday is; he just likes having a reason to get presents and cake. Maybe Rafe knows when his birthday is, maybe he doesn’t. If he doesn’t we’ll chose a day. As a family.”

Magnus closed his eyes and cradled Alec’s hand closer to his cheek. Inhaling deeply through his nose and exhaling with a sigh a few times, Magnus managed to steady his thoughts slightly. “Yes, Alexander, you’re right.”

Alec quirked an eyebrow at that. “I’m right? Can I get that in writing? Preferably in a document that’s magically protected?

Magnus rolled his eyes, nudging Alec’s hip. “On this, you are right. If Rafe knows when his birthday is, great. If not, it’s like you said, we’ll chose a day. As a family.”

A knock on the office door had both of them swerving their heads in its direction. Jace stood in the entryway, shadowed by Max and Rafe.

“Everything okay?” Jace asked his parabatai, brow furrowed at the two men.

Alec and Magnus separated with a clearing of throats, brushing at their outfits. “Um, yeah, everything’s good here, Jace.”

“Good, because I bring to you the Tumbling Champion of the World,” his hand hovered over Max’s head before moving to rest above Rafe’s head, “and the Cartwheel Champion of the World.”

“Of the World?” Magnus’s voice piqued with interest.

“Or at least the New York Institute,” Jace clarified with a shrug and wink.
“Yeah, Papa, I can do a front roll! Watch!” Max chirped excitedly. He braced both hands in front of him as he bent at the waist, allowing his knees to bend and his legs to follow the path of his head.

Parental reflex was the only thing that kept Max from coming out of the roll and landing in Alec’s arms rather than the coffee table in the middle of the room. Patting his son on his shoulder, Alec proclaimed, “Wow, Blueberry! You really are the Tumbling Master of the World.”

“Tumbling Champion!”

“Tumbling Champion,” Alec corrected himself.

Rafe raced into the room behind his brother, wrapping himself around Magnus’s legs with a grin. Magnus let out a small grunt from the young Shadowhunter slamming into his legs, but couldn’t help but return the smile, resting his hands on Rafe’s shoulders. “So do we get to see your cartwheel, Rafe?”

“Uh-uh. It can only be used in a fight. Uncle Jace said so.”

“Uncle Jace is very wise, then.” Magnus mouthed a thank you to Jace over Rafe’s head.

“What’s this?” Rafe asked, fingering the Happy Birthday napkin still in Magnus’s hand.

“Oh, Alec and I were discussing options for Max’s birthday party this weekend. Right, Alexander?” Magnus slightly pleaded for his partner to back him up.

Alec was busy wrangling a bouncing Max, who was chanting a mix of party and presents and cake. “Yeah, um… Max settle down for a moment! Actually, Rafe, Papa and I were wondering... with Max’s birthday coming up, when your birthday might be?”

Rafe simply shrugged in answer.

Magnus narrowed his eyes at the boy’s movements. “Was that a ‘I don’t know’ shrug or a ‘I don’t care’ shrug?”

Rafe saw no reason to clarify the meaning behind his shrug. Wrapping his fingers around the suspenders dangling from Magnus’s waist, he used them as a makeshift swing set as he leaned back to shoot a mischievous grin at Magnus.

“Come on, Rafe,” Magnus huffed as he ruffled his hair. “I need you to use your words.”

Rafe threw back his head. “Mooooooo! I’mma cow, Moo!”

“QUACK! QUACK!” Max honked as he quickly joined in on the game. Across the room, Jace shuddered slightly.

Both boys began to battle it out as to who could make the louder animal noises, leaving Alec to decide his office was beginning to sound a little too much like a barnyard. Raising his voice over the din, he said, “Cows and ducks aren’t allowed in the Institute. Only humans.”

“That’s right,” Jace agreed emphatically. “Ducks definitely aren’t allowed in the Institute!”

Max stuck his tongue out at his uncle before quacking at him.

“All barnyard animals must immediately see themselves to Lucien’s farm,” Magnus added. “Where they don’t get to have hot cocoa.”

“And absolutely don’t have birthday parties,” Alec remarked, tweaking Max’s nose.

Max’s blue eyes widen in pure dismay at the thought of not having a birthday party. “I’m not a duck. I’m a boy! I get a birthday because I’m a boy and I’m turning four.” Max stuck out a hand displaying all five fingers to prove he was turning four. Alec gently tucked his thumb in so his fingers now proudly displayed the correct number. Max turned to Rafe. “Rafe, you’s got to be a boy now so you’s can gets a birthday party! ‘Cause we’s gotta give you cake and so you’s can has presents. And everyone knows it’s your special day!”

Rafael by this point had leaned his back against Magnus’s legs, wrapping the warlock’s arms around his chest. Tipping his head back, he asked, “What does birthday mean?”

“It’s the anniversary of the day you were born. Cumpleaños,” Magnus answered.

Rafael sunk further against Magnus, suddenly shy about the entire situation. A trait, Magnus and Alec had come to learn, that he reverted to whenever he didn’t know or didn’t want to answer questions about his past.

“I don’t know. When’s yours?” he asked so softly Magnus almost didn’t hear him as he fiddling with the rings on Magnus’s fingers.

“Mine’s on December 8th,” Magnus replied. He didn’t want to mention that he had grown so old that he no longer bothered to remember the exact year.

“Mine’s in January,” Jace supplied, saluting with two fingers.

Rafael peered over Magnus’s arms to look at Alec.

“September 12th,” Alec said, “and Aunt Izzy’s is May 15th.”
Rafael worried his bottom lip between his teeth. “I don’t ‘member. I can… take?”

“Choose,” corrected Magnus, gently patting Rafael on the chest. “Of course, you can choose when you want your birthday to be.”

Rafael thought about it for a moment before perking up. “When, when Daddy took me home!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Max agreed, bouncing on his feet.

“When we took you home, Rafe? From Buenos Aires?” Alec thought back, looking over his shoulder at his desk calendar.

“Uh-Uh.” Rafe waited till Alec was looking at him again to point at the scars on his neck. “When you took me.”

Alec came over to crouch in front of him, searching his face. “The day I found you?” Rafael smiled brightly, glad his father found the words he didn’t know yet how to say. Alec had to blink back tears as he brought a shaky hand up to brush at Rafael’s curls. Sighing deeply, Alec couldn’t help it when his voice caught in his throat. “Yeah, um, that sounds like a great day to have a birthday.”

Magnus came down to crouch behind Rafael, one hand resting on the boy’s shoulders and the other on Alec’s knee, connecting the three of them. “I agree. That sounds like a great day for a birthday. After all, that was when Rafael Santiago Lightwood-Bane was born.”

“Yay! Rafe has a birthday!” Max let out a whoop and barrelled into the three of them as he wrapped his arms around Rafael’s neck, only to pull back slightly aghast after a moment. “Wait, this means you have to wait a whole year before you get birthday presents!”

Chapter Text

The ornate couch and chairs that normally made up the conversation pit in front of the High Warlock of Brooklyn’s balcony doors had been magically replaced by a set of wrestling mats, where Head of the New York Institute was running through grappling moves with his eldest son, while his youngest son cheered his brother on. Magnus dutifully kept watch over the trio from his favorite blue velvet armchair under the pretense of re-reading an old spell book.

“Come on, Rafe, hands up,” Alec reminded the nine year-old in front of him. He patted the base of Rafe’s elbow to bring his arms, and subsequently his hands, back up into the correct defensive position. Alec was crouched down in a lower fighting stance than normal to bring him to his son’s level. “Now, do you remember the grabs?”

Rafe nodded behind his raised fists, eyes flashing determinedly underneath dark brown curls. He shifted his weight to the balls of his feet and rolled his shoulders, ready for his Dad’s attack. Alec chuckled and shook his shoulders loose before braced his hands to attack.

Alec shot forward with an open-palm hit to Rafe’s chest, but the young Nephilim caught his father’s arm at the wrist with one hand at the base of the forearm with the other, stepping into Alec’s shoulder to push him to the ground. Alec brought his captured arm up and twisted his body to wrap Rafe in a headlock as they both fell, Alec on his back and Rafe with his head pinned against Alec’s stomach.

“Hey! No fair,” Rafe complained, when his dad proceeded to give him a noogie. “I had you!”

“Had being the operative word,” Alec retorted, releasing his son and sitting up. He picked up Rafe’s arm at the wrist. “You had the wrist grab right, but-” Alec wrapped his other hand around Rafe’s inner shoulder, “you were supposed to grab at the shoulder and then step into the drop.”

He demonstrated by pushing Rafe’s upper body back and forth until his son began to let his head fall back dramatically, complete with eye roll.

“Very cute, Rafe,” Alec stated dryly, tweaking the boy’s nose before dropping his arm. Alec rapped Rafe’s ankle with his knuckles. “Also, you need to keep your weight on your heels, not the balls of your feet. You’re easier to overbalance that way.”

Alec let out an oof when Max charged at his back, wrapping his arms around his father’s neck. Alec reached back to steady the warlock against his back.

“Yeah, Rafe,” Max parroted with a grin, “you’re easier to knock down that way!”

Rafe scrambled to his feet. “Whatever! Come on, Dad, let’s go again. I can get it this time.”

Alec shook his head and tapped Max on the back, jerking his head to the side of the mat. Max obeyed and both Nephilim moved back into fighting stance, only to be disrupted by the sound of a clock chime throughout the apartment.

Magnus quirked an eyebrow at the time and set his spellbook aside. “I’m afraid the rematch is going to have to wait till tomorrow,” he said as he made his way to the mat. He placed a hand on Rafe’s shoulder. “Bed time.”

Rafe shook his father’s hand off. “Later, Papa. I’ve got to learn this.”

Alec came out of his fighting stance to his full height, taking in the time. “Your Papa’s right, Rafe. Bed time.”

“Come on, just one more time!”

Magnus arched an eyebrow over their son’s head at his boyfriend. “You’re right, Rafe. You do have a lot to learn.”

“Huh?”

Rafe dropped his arms to turn in confusion toward Magnus, only to taken by surprise when Magnus wrapped one arm around Rafe’s shoulder and hooked his other arm under the boy’s knees. Magnus lifted the boy up to his chest as Rafe threw his head back with a groan, realizing he had been tricked.

“You still haven’t learned how to escape the Papa Monster,” Magnus proclaimed as he adjusted his hold.

Alec chuckled to himself at the sight of Magnus beaming down at Rafe while the boy glared back at him, Max giggling and dancing around Magnus’s legs, arms held up for his own turn at being held. Alec snuck up behind Max and snatched him up underneath the armpits and settled the blue-skinned warlock on his shoulders.

“Alright, boys,” Alec said, wincing slightly as small hands grabbed at his hair. “Like Papa says, time for bed.”

“Thank you, Alexander.” Magnus winked at him in gratitude before carrying their eldest son down the hallway to his bedroom. Alec followed, Max laughing at Rafe trying to escape their Papa’s hold.

Once both boys had been deposited in their own rooms and had been properly put to bed, Alec made his way back to the living room to dismantle the wrestling mats. He was surprised to see his boyfriend standing in the middle of the mats, having changed out of his normal silk tunic and pants for the yoga pants he normally wore when using tai chi to help harness his magic and a sleeveless gray zippered hoodie.

Alec walked over to greet him with a kiss before stepping back, gesturing to his clothes. “What this all about?”

“Well,” Magnus began, “it’s been awhile since I’ve had a sparring partner. And with the boys beginning to learn how to fight, I figured I might as well brush up on my hand-to-hand combat. And since everything is set up…”

Alec bit back a smile when Magnus waved a hand to the room at large, but let his eyes trail over the worn out tank and sweats he had been wearing while working with Rafe earlier. Shaking his head at his boyfriend’s eyebrow quirked in a challenge, Alec shook his head.

“Alright, let’s go,” Alec said, dropping into a fighting stance and curling his fingers in provocation.

 

Magnus grinned and dropped into his own fighting stance.

Chapter Text

Max tugged at the stubborn, lower drawer in Magnus’s work room, stuck in place over time and lack of use. The drawer refused to obey the young warlock’s command, causing him to grit his teeth and jerk the handles that much harder. After a few well-deserved hits and muttered insults, the drawer finally released with a groaning creak, toppling Max over with a solid force. The eight year-old warlock shook his head and leaned forward on his knees to peer at the drawer’s contents, only to let out a groan at the disarray.

“Seriously?” he asked the room at large, picking up random items in disbelief as he searched for the spell book his father had asked him to find. “This is ridiculous. How does he find anything in this mess?”

Max began rifling through everything - pushing tabletop candelabras out of the way, flipping through old journals, avoiding pricking himself on the occasional broach, and opening boxes to dig through their contents as well. As he set aside one of the old cardboard boxes that had turned out to be fruitless, he was surprised to find a keepsake box underneath it with his name written in calligraphy on top. He ignored the small piles of discarded items around him as he pulled the keepsake box into his lap. Carefully he removed the top of the box and set it aside, snickering amusedly to himself at the sight of his old, orange fox onesie. He lifted the folded garment, one of his first presents from his Aunt Izzy. Practically every member of his family had a copy of the photo of him wearing this outfit while being held in his Dad’s arms as he sat on a couch, his Papa trying to get Max’s attention with waving fingers over Alec’s shoulder.

Rolling his eyes at his Papa’s perchance to sentimentality, Max carefully refolded the onesie and set it on top of the box lid. An aged piece of paper, folded into small quarters, lay underneath the onesie. His brow furrowed, unable to recall what the paper held on it. Carefully unfolding it, he flipped it around and had to pause at the words scrawled on it.

‘Who could ever love it?’

Max traced his finger over the words feeling the indents of the dips and curls of the writing, twin pinpricks at the top corner of the paper, his mind turning the phrase over and over again in his head.

‘Who could ever love it?’

‘Who could ever love it?’

‘Who could ever love me?’ he realized.

He walked out of the workroom, the spell book long forgotten. Fingering the note, he made his way back to the living in a daze, barely registering his Dad and Rafe sitting on the couch going over runes, his Papa in his favorite velvet, blue armchair looking over an ancient scroll.

Hearing Max come back, Magnus sent him a grin. “Ah, Max! Did you find it?”

Max remained quiet as he settled into one of the surrounding armchairs. Magnus quirked an eyebrow at how quiet his usually exuberant child was being. Magnus took in his son’s appearance, face blank of emotion and turning a note over and over in his fingers. Alec had also taken note of Max’s silence, he and Magnus communicating silently to see if the other knew what was wrong with their son.

Eventually Magnus pressed cautiously, “Max?”

The worry in his Papi’s voice cued Rafe in that something was up with his brother. “Yo, hermano? Cat got your tongue?” When Max still remained quiet, Rafe continued to egg him on. “Did Papi get a perverted fire message from one of his clients again?”

Magnus shot a glare out of the corner of his eye at his oldest son, causing the young Shadowhunter to raise his hands and shoulders in apology. Rafe’s crude question finally got a reaction out of Max, the warlock reaching behind him for the throw pillow and launching at his brother’s face with a snarl. Rafe merely deflected the pillow into his father’s direction with a laugh, however Alec wasn’t finding his youngest son’s actions amusing.

“Whoa, Max!,” Alec snapped. “Where’s all this coming from?”

Max stopped glaring at Rafe to stare at Alec for a moment before turning his attention back to the note in his hands. Magnus straightened in his chair and set his paperwork aside, suddenly worried Max may have come across a piece of enchanted paper in his work room.

“Blueberry,” he stated, his voice laced with emphasis, “I need you to hand me that piece of paper.”

Max fingered the note as long as he could, but eventually handed over the note with tear filled eyes. Magnus reached out to gingerly take the note from his son, his magic racing over the paper trying to find any trace of enchantments or spells. Finding none, he turned the paper over to see what could have caused his son such distress. As the phrase jumped off the paper at him, he covered a sigh with a quivering hand, passing the note silently to Alec. As Alec read the note, Magnus got up to sit on the arm of Max’s chair, pulling him into his side.

“Oh, Blueberry,” Magnus sighed, dropping a kiss on the blue strands.

A broken whisper came from the circle of Magnus’s arms. “Was I really that unlovable as a baby?”

Magnus pulled back to cradle Max’s face in his hands. “Blueberry, no,” Magnus reassured, brushing falling tears off his son’s cheeks. “You were the sweetest baby. Everyone fell in love with you the moment they saw you.”

Alec dropped the note on the coffee table and went over to crouch in front of Max’s chair, taking both of his son’s hands into his. “Max, I have loved you from the moment you were laid in my arms. And as best as she could, so did your mother.”

Max turned in his Papa’s hold to look at his Dad, Magnus’s fingers carding through Max’s hair. Max swallowed thickly, his voice caught in his throat. “But the note…”

“I know,” Alec said, squeezing Max’s fingers. “But think about it, Max. You were only a couple of months old when you were left at the Academy - a place only known to a few mundanes, but somewhere your birth mother knew that you would have chance. She kept you safe,” Alec searched Max’s eyes to make sure he comprehended how important that was. “She kept you safe enough, long enough for you to be able to come home to us. And Papa and I are so thankful to her, because we can’t imagine our lives without you in it.”

“So I’m not unlovable?” Max asked in a tiny voice.

“You are when you leave your stinky socks all over the living room,” Rafe interjected. Although his jab was followed by a brotherly wink, both of his parents’ faces promised silent retribution. “But I mean, it’s kinda cool to have a little brother who can-”

“Can be a much more nicer individual than a clingy, smart-alec street rat from Buenos Aires?” Alec raised an eyebrow in question at oldest son just to get a cheeky grin in response. At Magnus’s huff of amusement, Alec looked over to see Max sticking his tongue out at his older brother, only for the boys to turn it into a battle of who could make the most disgusted face at the other.

Alec caught Magnus’s attention and rolled his eyes at their sons’ antics. “I swear Jace and I were never this bad.”

“You two were worse, darling,” Magnus replied, “if your sister’s stories are anything to go by.”

Rafe eventually made Max break face, laughing at the way his brother’s face began to rival a Picasso painting. Alec and Magnus let their son’s laughter roll over them, a sign that somehow everything would be alright.

As Max’s laughter died down, Magnus ruffled his hair. “Are we good now? Do you definitely feel loved?”

Max nodded at Magnus, the hesitant smile tugging at the corners of his lips still bringing out the dimples in his cheeks.

If for the rest of the night, Max chose to stay cuddled close to either Alec or Magnus, neither one was going to complain. Especially about something Max had begun to think he was too old to be doing any longer.

And much later that night, long after everyone had gone to bed, Rafe didn’t even open his eyes when he felt Max crawl into bed with him. He simply scooted over to give Max more room to stretch out and flopped onto his stomach, hands buried underneath his pillow.

“You ought to burn it,” Rafe whispered, turning his head toward his little brother.

Max settled onto his back and crossed his arms over the bed sheets. “Nah,” he replied. “It’s something from her. And like Dad said, she loved me enough.”

Rafe made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat before cracking open an eye. “Remember, you’re not an it. You’re my brother” he said, lightly tapping his knuckles against Max’s shoulder. “And I’ll punch anyone who says otherwise, birth mother or not.”

“Whatever you say, street rat,” Max chuckled, elbowing Rafe. Both boys gave each other conspiring grins before settling down to sleep for the night.

Chapter Text

“Oof! Get off me, you big, fat lunatic!” Max hollered at his older brother.

Rafe had decided to flop down on top of the blue-skinned teenager, who was lying on the couch watching TV. Max punched at his brother’s side, trying to get the Shadowhunter-in-training to stop squishing his stomach with his butt. Unfortunately for Max, Rafe was heavier than the warlock, allowing him to remain unmoved.

Rafe quickly trapped Max’s hands in between one of his and used his elbow to press into Max’s shoulder as an armrest. Max let out a groan of pain before pulling his knee up sharply to slam against Rafe’s side. Rafe grimaced in pain, but put up with his little brother’s battering to establish dominance of the couch.

“Seriously, hermano?” Rafe spit out through gritted teeth, hand held out to brace himself against Max’s continued knee attacks.

“I was here first! Go. sit. on. one. of. the. chairs.” Max twisted his midsection to bring his elbow up over Rafe’s arm trying to break his hold on the hands in his grip.

Rafe pushed Max’s head back toward the pillows, taking a knee to the shoulder once more and barely avoiding when Max tried to bite at his hands to get him to release his grip. “You can’t take up the entire freaking couch.”

“I can and I will!” Max crowed, rearing up to buck his brother off once and for all. Max managed to push Rafe off of him, but he refused to go down alone, pulling Max onto the floor with him. Both teenagers scrambled up through a barrage of thrown elbows and hands, determined to be the first to claim victory of the couch. Rafe was standing halfway up with a clear chance at victory when Max pulled him back down by the back of his shorts, causing Rafe to land on the vintage coffee table with a loud crack. Max hopped up on the couch to do a victory dance.

Rafe rubbed at pain radiating in his back, ready to launch another attack at his little brother when Magnus’s voice called out from his workroom. “That had better have not been my Louis XV table!”

Both boys scrambled to get off their respective pieces of furniture at the sound of Magnus’s footsteps coming down the hall. By the time Magnus strolled into the living room, both boys were standing in the middle of the room with wide-eyed, panic-ridden features.

Max, still in the early stages of puberty, had shot up in height and grown lanky this past summer, as his muscles hadn’t quite caught up with him yet. His horns had taken on an extra growth spurt as well, beginning to curl back over his head like ram horns. Shaggy blue hair had to constantly be swept out of blue eyes and Max’s cheeks were beginning to lose the last adorable chubbiness of childhood.

Rafe stood next to his brother, constantly shifting his weight, one hand rubbing the back of his neck in a nervous habit he had picked up from Alec. While Rafe had grown during his teenage years, he had not developed the height Max would. While to two boys currently stood at the same height, Max would one day quickly surpass his brother in height. Rafe, however, had developed more muscle bulk than his younger brother due to his Shadowhunter training, getting him ready to take on field assignments. In preparation for that, Rafe had taken to keeping a much shorter, neater hairstyle than his brother, following after Alec in that regard.

Magnus looked over his boys, surveying the damage to any furniture as well as the guilty looks that graced both of their faces. Sighing with a mix of parental disappointment, exasperation, and love, Magnus asked, “Who started it this time?”

Both boys held out fingers, accusing the other. “He started it!/It’s his fault!”

Magnus rubbed at the headache he could feel forming. “Okay, let’s start with oldest first. Rafe, would you care to explain?”

Rafe jerked a thumb in his brother’s direction. “He started it. He was splayed all over the couch and wouldn’t move over.”

Max’s jaw dropped, aghast at his brother’s comment. Magnus turned to the young warlock. “Max? Rebuttal?”

“He freaking sat on me!” Max appealed, pointing accusingly at Rafe. “Didn’t say anything, just sat on me. And muscle-head over here wouldn’t move no matter what I did or said.”

“I’ve been asking you to stop hogging the couch all morning, idiota!” Rafe said, waving his hand exasperatedly in Max’s direction.

“Rafe!” Magnus snapped.

“Doesn’t mean you can fricking sit on me!” Max argued. He looked his brother up and down before sneering, “Idiota.”

“Boys!” Magnus called for his sons’ attention once more. When the two continued to bicker and ignore him, Magnus deemed he had had enough. “Rafael Santiago! Max Michael!”

Both boys stopped mid-sentence to turn their attention back to their father. Full names were never good. Double full names meant deep trouble. Max and Rafe swallowed back any retort floating around in their throats and stood meekly before Magnus. The High Warlock of Brooklyn leveled a sharp look at both teenagers, the air around him practically crackling with restrained magic.

Magnus took a deep breath to compose himself before addressing his children. “I don’t really care who or how it started - the fighting has to stop. Or not happen here. I have clients coming within the hour. So either the two of you need to take this…” Magnus waved his hand between the two of them, “argument to the training room at the Institute for your Dad to supervise.” Both boys grimaced at the thought of additional training underneath their Dad, and subsequently Uncle Jace, that would take on a form of punishment more than practice. Pleased he had gotten the reaction he wanted, Magnus continued. “Or you can take my credit card and go do something outside of this apartment this afternoon.”

“Credit card,” replied his sons unanimously.

With a twist of his hand, Magnus’s credit card appeared between his forefinger and middle finger. He held it out to Rafe. “One hundred dollar limit and both of you have to be back by dinner time.” Rafe nodded and reached out for the credit card, but Magnus pulled it back at the last moment. “And we do not mention this to your father.”

Max and Rafe both nodded with conspiring grins. In a suddenly more pleasant mood, Magnus released the credit card to Rafe. “Very well then. Have a lovely afternoon, boys.”

With a whoop from Max, both teenagers raced for the front door. Chatter debating between going to the movies or getting Taki’s was cut off by the slamming of the front door. Relishing the momentary quiet of the loft, Magnus turned on his heel and headed back to his workroom. He still had things to complete before his next client showed up.

 

Chapter Text

Alec Lightwood was sitting at his desk at the Institute when his cell phone began to buzz. Seeing his son Rafe’s name light up the screen, he quickly answered. “Rafe.”

“Dad,” Rafe’s voice was slightly hushed, as if he didn’t want someone nearby to hear what he was saying. Alec could hear the background noise of NYC street traffic and murmur of pedestrians as they passed by his son unknowingly. “Dad, Max and I came across a pretty powerful warlock during our patrol, one we’re pretty sure isn’t supposed to be in New York. Maybe not even the country.”

“Do not engage with the warlock until Magnus and I get there,” Alec commanded, his voice resounding with the authority he had built up a little over a decade as the Head of the New York Institute. He began making his way to the weapons room to collect his bow and quiver. “Where are you now?”

“Just outside Taki’s,” Rafe replied.

“I’m calling Magnus now,” Alec continued, shifting his phone till it was cradled against his shoulder, using both hands to snatch his bow and quiver off the weapons wall. “Again, Rafe, wait for Magnus and I before engaging the warlock.”

“Okay, Dad.”

Alec ended the call and hit the speed dial for his husband’s number.

“Alexander!” came Magnus’s pleased voice on the other line. “I thought you’d be busy demon hunting.”

“Portal. Institute. Now.”

“Really, Alexander, is that anyway to ask for something?”

Alec rolled his eyes heavenward. “Rafe and Max encountered a rogue warlock on their patrol. A pretty powerful one from what they can tell - one that may not supposed to be in the country. And the longer the two of them-”

Alec stopped his tirade when the portal appeared in front of him, bypassing every ward. A couple of Shadowhunters startled at the appearance of the portal, but Alec didn’t have time to be concerned about petty things. Stepping through the portal, he came out in the middle of their shared loft, Magnus in the process of putting on a military style wool overcoat. By the time the coat settled on his shoulders, Magnus had put on his mantle of High Warlock of Brooklyn as well.

“Where are they?” Magnus asked briskly.

“Taki’s.”

Magnus nodded to the portal, placing a hand on Alec’s shoulder as they walked through it. They exited in an alley just outside of Taki’s. Alec cursed under his breath once he realized Rafe and Max had disobeyed his direct order. Neither of them were in sight. Both men began marching toward Taki’s, ready to obliterate the rogue warlock or their sons or both.

Magnus caught sight of Max facing them in the window of Taki’s first, the unglamoured warlock standing out like a blue beacon. Rafe was sitting next to him in the booth, arm slung over the back of it and laughing at the aforementioned warlock across the table. All Magnus could see was, what he presumed to be, the warlock’s head of tight, curly light brown hair.

Holding a hand out to stop Alec by his chest, Magnus nodded to Max and Rafe in the window. Alec’s need to destroy was momentarily replaced with relief at the image of his sons alive and safe before his brow furrowed in confusion. This was supposed to a dangerous, powerful warlock. So why were they laughing?

Magnus and Alec passed mutual looks of parental concern, resuming their way to the diner at a slower pace, but much more warily. Magnus slipped his hand into Alec’s bow hand, assuming the illusion of the two out on a date, as they entered the diner. Heading down the row of booths, Magnus paused at he saw his sons.

“Max, Rafe, what are the two of you doing here?” Magnus sounded comically surprised, as if his children hanging out in the Downworlder hot spot of New York was something to be surprised about.

The head of light brown curls turned around at the sound of Magnus’s voice. The curls were pulled back from the warlock’s face by a braid acting as a hairband, a dazzling white smile cutting across freckled light, brown skin, her signature scarf wound across her neck.

“Magnus!” Madzie greeted the High Warlock of Brooklyn happily as she pushed herself out of the booth.

“Sweet Pea!” This time Magnus’s shock was sincere as he wrapped the now adult warlock in his arms, lifting her off her feet and spinning her around as per their tradition.

Madzie giggled as she was passed off to Alec, having to stand on her tiptoes to reach the tall Shadowhunter’s neck. Alec leaned down into the hug, not picking the girl up, but enjoying having her in arms reach again. Glaring over Madzie’s shoulder at Rafe, he asked wryly, “Powerful warlock, huh?”

“Like you want to take on the warlock who overthrew a Shadowhunter Institute at the age of eight?” Rafe smirked back, gesturing to Madzie who had settled against Alec’s side, Alec’s arms wrapped around her shoulders. “And I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to be studying in France right now. Isn’t supposed to be, like, three A.M. in Paris right now?”

Madzie stuck her tongue out at Rafe, who returned it with equal measure, Max fondly mirroring the gesture as well. Magnus chuckled at the children, herding everyone into the booth. Magnus slid in first with Madzie climbing in behind him. Alec elbowed Rafe and Max to make room, sliding in on the edge.

“Come, I want to hear all about your adventures in France, Sweet Pea,” Magnus cajoled of the girl next to him.

Madzie segwayed into her stories with a smile. For the rest of the night, the patrons of Taki’s couldn’t help but smile wistfully at the laughing group of warlocks and Shadowhunters.