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Squaring Off

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“He’s so big already, it’s unbelievable.”

Alex was currently running around the living room, an array of toys thrown all around him, and he kept reaaranging them in what was clearly a pattern in his mind, but only another mess to tidy up for Izzy.

She rolled her eyes at her son’s antics, and nodded to her mother-in-law. Shara Bane might not have really been Izzy’s family, but she had quickly become like a surrogate mother to her, and the only grandmother Alex had ever known after Elaine died suddenly a few months before his birth.

“Yes. It’s so crazy, it seems like yesterday I held him in my arms, so tiny and defenseless, and now he’s a force to be reckoned with.”

There wasn’t a day Isabelle wasn’t grateful for that fateful day over a year ago when Simon chose to attend a movie screening and noticed the creator’s name was Lightwood.

She was grateful not just because she got to have Alec again and she was, she really was, but also because she had never seen Alec as happy as he was as a mundane before, and because she had genuinely gained a whole, completely new family with that reunion.

She loved her nephews with all her heart, she got along with Magnus as if they had known each other all their lives and she was granted the miracle of giving her son grandparents in Magnus’ parents when her own refused to be part of her life.

She had gained so much that day and she never stopped thanking Raziel for it.

“You’ll see, my dear, soon he will be a young man with his own mind and you will miss those days and wonder how they passed so quickly. But it’ll be the most wonderful journey.”

“It already is.”

Izzy smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Shara, can I ask you for advice?”

“My dear Isabelle, you don’t have to ask. I’ll try to be as much help as I can.”

“Our parents will be coming back to New York soon.”

Mrs. Bane fell silent at the news, uncomfortable silence reigning over them.

“You haven’t seen them in a while, have you?”

“I haven’t seen them since Alec’s ‘death’.”

Shara gasped, stunned by that information and disbelieving.

“But that was almost ten years ago, Isabelle.”

“They moved to Idris a few weeks after that day and never came back. They sent congratulatory cards for Jace and I’s weddings but they weren’t there. They weren’t there for Alex’s birth. Not once.”

Shara opened her arms and allowed Izzy to fall into her embrace.

“I’m not sure why they are coming back, even. They never said so. All I got was a card informing me they’ll be back at The Institute in a week. Nothing more. I…” Izzy buries her face in Shara’s neck, feeling suddenly like a little girl. “I feel like by now I should just stop caring. But they are still my parents and I wish they at least pretended they were looking forward to seeing us.”

Shara was quiet for a while but when she finally spoke, she asked just the right question.

“And are you looking forward to seeing them?”

And Izzy had no idea if it was good or bad but when she replied, she spoke the truth.

“Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

***

Alec took the two cups of tea and put them on the table, sitting next to his mother-in-law and smiling at her.

“What did you want to talk about?”

“I was at Isabelle’s yesterday. Little Alex is so big already, I can’t believe how the time flies. But I talked with Isabelle and she shared some news with me. She said you already know but I thought I would like to talk about it.”

She looked at him with an open expression, compassion and hesitance shining in her eyes and Alec sighed, staring into his mug.

“I know Maryse and Robert will be back soon, at least for a while. But… I have no intention of seeking them out or letting them know, Mom.”

“Alexander, my dear… Are you sure?”

Alec hesitated. He wasn’t, not really. He knew he was being unfair. Yes, he and his parents never really got along, but they deserved to know he was alive. And yet, he couldn’t make himself do it. Couldn’t push himself through it all over again, especially knowing how much more difficult it would be this time.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to do this to them . Yes, he didn’t get along with his parents but they loved him and they mourned him for years. They must have made their peace with it. He didn’t want to open the wound again.

“Mom, I…” It suddenly struck him, the realisation. “That’s the thing, isn’t it? You know. I never really called Maryse Mom. She was always Mother or even Maryse once we got older. You’re more of a mother to me than she ever was in so many ways.”

And yes, it was the truth, if not the full truth, because even if Maryse wasn’t the best mother, she did love her children and Alec knew it. But Shara Bane was a smart woman too and above all, she was a mother herself, so she knew what was left unspoken and when to give up.

She didn’t say a word, instead allowing Alec to lean his head against her shoulder, and offering her son-in-law silent support as they sipped tea, waiting for Magnus to return from the park with the kids.

***

“Papa? Can we go feed the ducks?”

The boys were restless in the morning and since it was a warm, sunny day, Magnus took them to the park while Alec stayed behind to make dinner.

He made sure Max drank all his juice with the glamouring potion so it lasted long enough and got Rafe to stand still long enough to tie his shoes while Alec was being amused and unhelpful. They made their way down the familiar streets of the place Magnus had come to know as home and couldn’t ever imagine leaving again.

The sun was high and the temperature was frankly just a bit too high for Magnus but it meant it was a perfect day for the boys. They were both free to run around without jackets and Magnus didn’t have to stop them from splashing in the fountains.

And while Magnus allowed himself to relax at the bench watching his sunshines play, his phone rang, Jace informing him that he wanted to talk.

Soon enough Jace joined them in the park and they took a stroll down to the pond, which led to them being where they were at that very moment.

Rafael’s question about ducks.

“You allow your children around those monsters?”

They had known this day would come eventually and now that it had, Magnus was frankly rather disappointed Alec wasn’t here to witness it. Thankfully, Magnus had been holding his phone anyway, so Jace didn’t notice him shifting it slightly to get a better view as he put the camera on.

Rafael Lightwood-Bane was obsessed with ducks. It was clear long ago that there were two things he loved more than life and they were music and ducks.

It was once difficult for Alec. The weird duck obsession Rafael had reminded him of Jace back when he had thought they would never see each other again.

But then their family was reunited and Magnus had known it would happen sooner or later. Jace would discover Rafe’s obsession and if Alec couldn’t witness it, Magnus would have to film it for him.

“Ducks aren’t monsters, Uncle Jace! They are great animals! Did you know ducks can fly as fast as 100 miles per hour and they have three eyelids! And did you know only girl ducks can quack, uncle Jace? Boys can’t speak at all!”

Magnus burst out laughing, glad he was recording the whole thing as Jace’s expression turned into something between amazement and absolute fear.

“Why, Jace, they are just little, cute, fluffy birds, why won’t you go with your nephews? Of course you can feed the ducks, Rafe. Just make sure Max doesn’t fall into the water, huh?”

Magnus handed Rafael a bag of grains and he was ready for the boys to run off, but Max had another idea.

“Uncle Jace, will you feed ducks with us?”

It was then that it happened, the moment that Magnus was forever grateful would be caught on camera.

At Jace’s horrified expression Max, standing next to Raphael and sporting huge puppy eyes, turned to his uncle and decided to pull the ultimate argument out of his sleeve.

Max extended his cupped hands to Jace and conjured a fluffy yellow tiny duckling into his hands.

The video later became Magnus’ most valuable possession.

***

“Honey, we’re home!” Alec rolled his eyes at the joke that had run dry long ago and went to greet his husband, giving him a hello kiss and hugging his disgruntled looking brother who had apparently tagged along.

“What happened that has you looking so glum?”

Alec’s question was directed at Jace but Magnus answered him where he was getting Rafael out of his shoes and the shirt that had fallen victim to strawberry ice cream and was as a result no longer a pale green.

“There were ducks.”

Alec laughed, understanding suddenly and letting Jace walk past him with a glare before plopping down on the sofa in the living room and helping himself to the cookies on the coffee table, munching chocolate oats angrily.

“Hello, Jace.” The Shadowhunter looked up, surprised to find Mrs. Bane at the kitchen table, but smiling warmly at her. “Will you be staying for dinner?”

“I may. Did Alec make lasagne again?”

Mrs. Bane stood up, nodding and sat down next to Jace in the living room as Magnus and Alec went up to get rid of the mud and ice cream and make their kids look like kids again.

“How are you, Jace? You and Clary doing well?”

He smiled at the mention of his wife, still every inch the lovestruck teenager, even after all these years.

“We’re fine. Great, even. Actually… I came to talk to Alec and Magnus about something. I’ve been... Well, you know Clary has been offered a position training the teenage recruits at The Institute a few weeks ago and she took it and she’s loving it, and I was thinking… of maybe quitting fieldwork too. Moving to light duty, so we can both be out of danger, finally stop being Shadowhunters first and take time for each other.”

He looked at Shara, seeking her approval and advice with a desperate look in his eyes, and he was met with nothing but a warm smile. Shara Bane was a miracle of a woman, a true mother and a friend, always there for her son-in-law’s family too ever since they had met.

“You would probably have to speak to Alec about that, he definitely has the most tangible idea of what it’s like, but I think it’s a wonderful plan, Jace. You’ve protected the world enough, others can take care of it without you. Time to start thinking about yourself. I’m sure Clary would appreciate it too, not having to worry about you dying every time you go to work.”

Jace smiled at her, feeling assured in his choice. He would still have to talk to Alec but already knew what he wanted. And he just wanted some time and calm, and to get to live his life in peace, with Clary.

***

“No, Rafe, sit down. You know the bath is slippery, what if you fall over and hit your head?”

Alec went into the bathroom with clean clothes for the boys to find his husband had already somehow wrangled the kids into the bathtub. Max sitting calm and quiet for once, for some reason incredibly focused on the bubbles that covered the water, and Rafe sat down at his father’s scolding, allowing Magnus to wash his hair, which was also, for inexplicable reasons,  full of ice cream.

“I swear you two are the human personification of the saying that kids are either happy or clean.” Alec said, kneeling down next to Magnus and trying to wash Max’s head, earning himself a 4-year-old look full of hatred when he tried to lean his son’s head back from where it was bent over the bubbles in utmost focus.

“I’m busy, daddy! You can’t wash my hair now.”

Max’s voice was serious and left no room for argument, and Alec tried to hard not to burst out laughing, exchanging a pointed, amused look with Magnus and reminded himself he should probably at least attempt to do some parenting and scold Max for his behaviour.

But it was then that he realised the reason for his son’s focus, he noticed what was so special about the bubbles he kept staring at, biting his lip. His hands were gently cradling the water around them, and the bubbles were all moving around a bit, gently shimmering with different colours.

Alec nudged Magnus, silently prompting him to turn his attention to their younger child, who had clearly chosen to use the bath as an amazing opportunity to practice his magic.

Max was a powerful warlock but he was still young and his control so far was almost non-existent. But lately, Cat and Tessa were trying to help him stop the constant flow of magic and try to direct it the way he wanted.

When his magic tried to turn everything around him blue, they would encourage him to try and turn something red. It was difficult for him, but he was determined and clearly, whatever his magic was doing now, he was trying to contradict it again and if the concentrated, proud look on his face was anything to go by, he was doing fine.

“What spell are you practicing, Maxie?”

In the end, it was Rafe who spoke up, breaking the silence, but not his brother’s concentration, Max replying without even looking at him.

“It’s not a spell. Auntie Cat said to just try and make things happen and they will even without the funny words. She told me to try and focus real hard on what I want to do, instead of listening to my magic. My magic is trying to make a lot of colourful bubbles and make them fly around and burst them one by one, and it would be fun, but I wanna show my magic that I know better what I wanna do so I am making just a few bubbles and I want to make them stay forever, because it wants to burst them.”

Finishing his explanation, he finally looked up and as he was met with curious, loving eyes of his brother and fathers, all cheering for him and believing in him, it was as in something in him turned, something clicked.

Light lime green light with a gold hue gathered around his fingers as Max smiled and looked at the bubbles again, gently closing his hand around them and making the light flow through  them, before presenting the 3 bubbles to his family.

“Look, I did it! For you!”

Alec looked at the bubbles in awe, gently touching one and taking it, a blue one. Magnus reached for the purple one, Rafe claiming yellow. They were thin and soft, similar to glass, firm and unbreakable, but bending slightly under their fingers. Inside, a pale shimmering mist was making circles remnants of Max’s spell trapped inside.

“Blueberry, this is amazing! I am so proud of you.”

Magnus leaned in, kissing his blue son on the head, making him giggle and downcast his eyes in proud embarrassment.

“How about you let daddy wash your hair now while I dry Rafe and we can go down to see grandma and uncle Jace and eat the dinner daddy made, huh?”

Max nodded, letting Alec hand his bubble to Magnus, the man putting all three of them on the vanity until they were all dry and ready to reclaim them and keep them close at all times.

***

“Grandma, grandma, look what Maxie made for me!”

Rafe came running down the stairs, climbing into Shara’s lap and making her laugh as he proudly displayed his yellow bubble.

Max approached Jace, sitting on the sofa next to him as Magnus and Alec went to the kitchen to get food out.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a bubble for you, uncle Jace. It’s difficult to make them and I only managed 3, for daddy, papa and Rafe.”

He turned his huge, guilty blue eyes up and Jace wondered how did Magnus and Alec ever say no to those.

“It’s fine, buddy.” He ruffled his deep indigo curls and winked at him, making him smile. “I get it.”

Soon, everyone was seated at the table, devouring Alec’s famous lasagne, and talking.

“Boys, I almost forgot. I meant to invite you over for dinner. Me and dad redecorated a bit and it’s been ages since you’ve visited us, so we thought we could host a barbeque at the terrace for everyone on Friday afternoon. I asked Isabelle already and they’ll be coming. Magnus, are you boys free? Jace, you and Clary?”

“Yeah, I’m free, and Clary has a day off too, so we’ll be there.” Jace smiled and Magnus followed suit, also confirming their attendance, giving his mother a peck on the cheek.

It was a great day, and yet, as he closed the door after his mother-in-law and his brother, Alec fell into his husband’s embrace with a tired sigh.

Chapter Text

 

“They’re sleeping… Actually sleeping. Both of them.”

Alec laughed quietly as Magnus slipped under the cover with him, wrapping himself around Alec like an octopus.

“So what’s been eating you up all day? I could see you were tense but we were busy and there wasn’t time to talk.”

Alec sighed, turning to face his husband.

“My parents will be in town.”

“Oh.”

Magnus let out a soft sigh, cuddling Alec closer.

“How do you feel about it?”

“Honestly I don’t know. I’m all torn up and unsure of what to think myself. I… They weren’t good parents, you know? It feels more natural to call your mom “mom” than it would have ever felt with mine. Not that I ever did. She was always “mother” and later even “Maryse”, more a war commander than a mother. But at the same time… I loved her. And I know she loved me, even if she had no idea how to show affection. It’s just…”

“...you haven’t seen them in 10 years and they think you’re dead.” Magnus finished, his voice full of sympathy.

“Yeah.” Alec sighed.

“I told your mom I don’t want to see them. And I wasn’t lying. I’m not sure if I’m ready to face them and put them through it. They mourned me, they made their peace with it, probably, it’ll be like reopening an old wound. And yet, it’s not completely true. Because I also want to see them again. And I want them to know. Because they deserve to know.”

Magnus didn’t answer, putting his head on Alec’s chest and listening to his slightly fastened heartbeat, the two of them stayed like that for a while.

“I don’t know what to do, Magnus.”

Magnus lifted himself up on one elbow to look Alec in the eyes, his heart breaking at the emotion in them.

He opened his mouth, closed it again, choosing his words carefully.

“Do you know how long are they staying?”

“Izzy said they didn’t specify but at least few weeks.”

Magnus nodded, thinking for a moment.

“You have a while then, don’t you? From Izzy’s stories, they weren't exactly model parents during their time in Idris either, were they? But you don’t know the reason for that. Maybe something changed. Give it time, see how things progress, let Izzy and Jace gauge the territory. And then we will see.”

FInally, Alec smiled, his eyes crinkling beautifully. He lifted himself up, kissing Magnus.

“I married a wise man.”

For a moment, Magnus contemplated a clever retort, but in the end, he just rolled his eyes and lay down again, allowing them both to finally drift off.

***

“Izzy…”

“No.”

“Isabelle, my dear, my heart and soul, my queen…”

“Fuck off.”

Sighing, Simon gave up, resigning himself to the fact Izzy would never, not once in her life, allow herself to get dragged out of bed until she decided it was time herself.

He stood up, ducking Isabelle’s hands trying to drag him back down with her, and went to the kitchen, checking Alex’s room on the way and finding him sound asleep.

He chose to make use of the time he had before he would actually have to start breakfast, and decided to call Rebecca in London, since for once, he remembered at a time that managed to work fine in both timezones.

 

Simon hated timezones.

 

Rebecca hated Simon calling in the middle of the night.

His sister had found a British husband just after Simon was turned back into a mundane and started getting serious with Izzy, and she moved to the United Kingdom not long after. Simon visited her once, for the wedding, and then for the birth of her twins, James and Eve.

Rebecca came to the States for his wedding, and then to care for Elaine when cancer attacked her, being there for her death and holding Simon through it, staying in the US ‘til Alex’s birth, before finally coming back, to find her husband at wit’s end, juggling two kids who decided to abuse their mother’s absence.

Still on the phone with his sister, precariously holding the receiver between his cheek and shoulder, Simon started on the breakfast. He got around to boiling eggs when a disgruntled looking Izzy came into the kitchen, accepting a ready cup of coffee with gratitude and snatching Rebecca from Simon’s ear when she had finally woken up somewhat.

By the time Izzy was munching on her sandwich and talking with Rebecca, Alex woke up, calling for his parents and Simon had to go and take care of him. At this point, the radio was on already, and in the noise and chaos that suggested way more than 3 people lived there, Simon found himself smiling as he lifted his son from his cot.

Everything was perfect, like everyday.

***

"So... May I kindly ask for your attention, stranger?"

"Maybe you do, maybe you don't?"

Alec laughed as Magnus whisked him up and turned him around, holding him against his chest in a circle of his arms.

"So will you dance with me, husband?"

"Since you ask so kindly."

Magnus let him go, allowing him to take the lead as they danced the night away and ended up just gently swaying to the music when the upbeat rhythm gave in to a delicate melody. They opened the windows wide into the garden and neither thought to close them even now that the sky had turned dark and the rain finally fell.

They got lost in each other as if they were young and falling in love for the first time again. They curled around each other in a desperate embrace, too close, too tight, one soul in two bodies. They cherished the life they had together, their family, everything, but in moments like this, with kids at their grandparents, they got to take a sentimental trip to their university years and everything they had been through together.

The playlist stopped and they let each other go, Magnus held on to Alec's hand and led him to the terrace where, sheltered by the roof, they settled on the sofa and watched the earth get blessed by the long awaited rain.

"I can't believe our kids are already so big, Alec. When did that happen?"

"Somewhere in the last four years." Alec laughed. "I don't want to see how badly you'll freak out when they grow up completely. Rafe's already going to kindergarten."

"Don't remind me! He's still so small. So innocent. So not ready... Okay, so maybe I'm the one who's not ready."

Alec put his hands around Magnus' hands, guiding him down to lay against his chest and gently massaging his scalp.

"It's going to be okay, Magnus. It's time. He needs to meet other kids."

"Just... Let me have this last summer and freak out some so I have experience when it comes to Max in two years and I actually have a reason to be scared."

Alec sighed and kissed his head.

"We'll worry about that when it comes to it."

"You know... I saw a poster last time I took the boys to the park. About a dance class for kids in a youth centre around here. Maybe we could enroll Rafe there too? He's going to meet new kids anyway and it would be nice to have his endless energy and love for music directed somehow."

Alec hummed approvingly.

"You know... I think it may be a great idea."

And the rain kept falling, but they forgot all about it soon, and pushed the topic of the kids aside to make use of their absence instead.

It had been a decade since Alec left the Shadow World, and it had been the best decade of his life.

***

 

"By the Angel, that sofa is amazing! Magnus, we should get one."

 

Shara laughed, sitting down next to her son-in-law and handing him a cup of tea.

 

"And it was discounted too."

 

Magnus laughed from where he sprawled himself in the armchair, Max choosing to stay in his lap while Rafael was exploring the old reel-to-reel tape recorder with fascination under Peter's watchful eye.

 

"There is no price you can't change to fit your liking, mom."

 

"And why should there be? I'm just taking a chance, and if I'm usually successful, that only encourages me to keep doing it."

 

The doorbell interrupted the conversation and Magnus jumped to open the door to Jace and Clary.

 

"Evening, everyone."

 

Clary went to the kitchen to help herself to the kettle and prepare coffee for herself and Jace while her husband went straight to Rafe, freeing Peter from the boy, the man smiling gratefully at Jace as he went to start the grill.

 

It wasn't long till Simon and Izzy arrived, Alex already asleep and left home with a nanny, and soon everyone was happily chatting over potato salad and pork skewers.

 

Rafe and Max made the most of the time with their grandparents, running around and blissfully quickly exhausting themselves, dropping before the clock struck nine, and leaving the adults, barring drivers, to a bottle of red wine.

 

"We have to do this more often, my dears, you all work too hard, there's not enough chances to get altogether like a family."

 

Peter smiled, refilling Simon's glass and taking the empty plates to the kitchen.

 

"Definitely."

 

Magnus readily agreed with his father, helping with the clean up.

 

"Why not tomorrow then? At ours?" Alec suggested, nugging Clary's side. You still have some time off, guys, don't you? I know you do, Izzy."

 

"Sure, we can come!" She snuggled closer to Simon's side but kept checking her phone nervously, every inch of a stressed young mother.

 

Simon was usually even worse, but three glasses of wine helped him calm down. Still, after Clary and Jace and the Banes confirmed their attendance and a time was settled, Simon and Izzy chose to fled to their baby and Jace and Clary went with them.

 

Magnus and Alec strapped their boys in their car seats, the Banes watching from the doorway, since Mrs. Bane had a habit of walking around barefoot.

 

"Drive safely."

 

"It's not like I didn't drive this road a thousand times before."

 

"It's late!"

 

"Which means the roads will be empty. I'll text when we get home."

 

They said goodbye and with a kiss on the cheek finally left, happy smiles on their faces after a simple, relaxing family evening.

 

They really needed to do that more often.

 

***

 

"Jace, stop it."

 

It's been late, nearing midnight already, but working in the field messed their biological clocks years ago. The barbecue at Banes’ had them both still full of energy and restless, filled with warmth of family. Clary smiled at her sketchbook, Jace’s eyes shining with happiness from the drawing. She knew this was new to him, this content, happy life, having Alec back, the Banes and his nephews.

 

She was sitting up on the bed while Jace laid next to her, attempting to pose for a drawing but making silly faces when he thought she wasn't looking at him.

 

"Jace... Jace!"

 

She put her sketchbook aside in a swift motion and hit Jace in the face with her pillow. His gobsmacked expression was worth the ruined drawing.

 

"You... Oh, it's on, Mrs. Herondale!"

 

He attacked back with vicious precision and soon they were out of the bed, hitting each other with pillows like crazy, not just their ones, but decorative ones from the couch too. Before any of them noticed they were all ruined, lumpy and empty in places where the stuffing fell out.

 

"Shit."

 

Clary threw the useless pillow on the floor and went to the bedroom, Jace railing behind.

 

"See what you did? It's late and we can't get new pillows so we'll have to sleep without them just because you couldn't keep a straight face."

 

Jace tried to look apologetic, but failed miserably, laughing and kissing Clary instead, and they finally settled in to sleep, with Clary making use of Jace's chest for the lack of another pillow.

 

And as he drifted of to sleep, with Clary breathing into his neck and just the bare mattress under his head, Jace thought that the pillows were inconsequential, because his lie was perfect the way it was.

Chapter Text

"Hey, man."

Jace came in for a hug, making Alec smile unconsciously. His own parabatai rune might have been long gone, and Jace's faded on his hip but their bond was back to where it should be. They no longer had a weird magical link to keep them together, but they didn't need it. They were brothers.

"Hi. Feel free to come in and subject yourself to the little monsters. I'll move the car so Iz can pull in the driveway."

"Sure. I'm off to be the cool uncle. You have fun being the responsible adult."

Alec rolled his eyes but his smile betrayed him and Jace moved past him into the living room, only to be attacked by the monsters the moment his presence was noticed. Max actually rammed into his leg and Jace was really, really glad his horns had started to curl already or that would have hurt like hell.

"Hey, guys. I missed you."

Rafe grabbed Jace and dragged him over to the sofa, lurching into a tale about how he was about to go to kindergarten soon. Magnus came out of the kitchen, greeting Jace and snickering at the sight of his children explaining primary education to their uncle with a serious expression.

"So where's your better half, Blondie?"

"Clary was at Izzy's, so she's gonna tag along with them. I think she may be plotting to steal Alex."

Magnus laughed, fully understanding his sister-in-law's sentiment to children.

“I don't think Isabelle would be very impressed with that plan. Get your own, man.”

He chose to ignore the slight blush and uncomfortable silence on Jace's side, deciding the couple would tell their family when they were ready. Instead he lifted his younger son off Jace's head, and got up to open the door as the doorbell rang.

Soon the Lightwood-Bane house was full of people and laughter, the table filled with food everyone had brought despite Alec's reassurances that he and Magnus had the dinner under control.

It was a new table. The two of them had been looking to change the decor of the living room for a while and when they finally found the right furniture, they settled on ordering a huge expandable table instead of the standard one when they had realized somewhere along the way it had become a normal occurrence to host dinners for more than 10 people.

Somewhere along the way their family had become quite big, indeed.

Just today there were four Lightwood-Banes alone, Magnus' parents, Simon and Isabelle with Alex and Clary and Jace, and that wasn't counting the many times Jem and Tessa, Catarina or Raphael came over.

Eventually they managed to fit all the food on the table and sat down, Alex in a high chair and Max and Rafe on pillows, carefully monitored by their parents because they refused to abandon their grown-up spots.

“The duck is amazing, Magnus!”

“Thanks, mom, but Alec helped. He’s definitely the better cook between us.”

Alec blushed, desperately trying to swallow faster so he could answer without his mouth full, making Izzy laugh at him. He put his finger up in a gesture of halting, signaling he was about to speak until everyone was chuckling and giggling at him.

“Excuse me.” He finally said, putting the fork down. “All I did was remember to save the poor think from burning when Magnus completely forgot to take it out of the oven. And you have no right to laugh, Izzy. Or do we need to talk about your culinary abilities?”

Jace’s cough sounded suspiciously like “orlackthereof” and Izzy shot both her brothers deadly looks.

“I’ll have you know my food is no longer poisonous! You may only remember my foolish teenage experiments but I learned a lot from them.”

Simon smiled and put his hand on Isabelle’s, trying to calm his wife down before someone got hurt. Angry Izzy was a force to be reckoned with.

“She’s better. She really is. She can even make a mean pasta dish. I’m still the main cook in the house though.”

Izzy’s expression was priceless.

“Et tu, Brute?”

The dinner progressed in a friendly atmosphere, the talk light and the air filled with laughter as everyone put away their worries for a while to enjoy family time. The duck was soon gone, and so was the milky rice with strawberries that Clary made mostly thinking of the boys who didn’t appreciate the tangy meat.

Alex managed to get strawberries all over himself in the process, the whole thing immortalized in adorable pictures before Simon took it upon himself to get his son cleaned up and changed, since he had also fallen victim to a very fruity hug.

Thankfully, as parents of a very energetic one-year-old, Izzy and Simon knew to always have a change of clothes not just for their son.

Max and Rafe were more careful with the rice, but the little warlock “accidentally” levitated cola onto his brother and once he had to change Max demanded a star wars t-shirt instead of his current “dull” plain red one.

After dinner the party moved to the garden to enjoy the steaming hot summer day, the kids running around and enjoying themselves, the adults having given up on changing their grass-stained clothes again and just leaving them to their antics, only putting an end to it when Rafe showed Alex how to turn on the hose.

By the time the sun was setting everyone was dried but exhausted, the soft glow of solar lanterns the only light around and Alex and Max already dozing off.  Alec served the cheesecake and cider and wine took the table, and Rafael had his newest music obsession, a breakout artist called Alberto Rosende, play in the background.

“Sometimes I wonder how we all ended up here, don’t you?”

Alec groaned, looking at his brother from his place at Magnus’ side. Clearly the blonde must have already had one glass of wine too many.

“Don’t start getting philosophical, Jace.”

Mr. Bane laughed.

“Let him be, Alec. This may be entertaining.” Everyone perked up, curious how the conversation was going to progress when Peter Bane took a sip of his own wine and turned to Jace.

“Tell me, Jonathan. What do you mean by that?”

“I just… I’ve had like…” Everyone stifled their laughter as Jace started counting on his fingers, Clary patting his head where it rested on her chest. “…four different names, man!”

“Ah, yes, Jace, I heard about that. So what about that?”

Jace looked like a deer caught in the headlight, for a moment startled by the question.

“I don’t know. But I think Alec had a crush on me once.”

Everyone burst into loud laughter, Alec going red in the face and hiding in Magnus’ shoulder, his husband running his fingers through his hair in a soothing way.

“It’s not true!”

“Well, whatever man. I wouldn’t blame you if you did.”

“So, Jace, what does Alec’s hypothetical crush have to do with your numerous surnames and how it led us to this moment?” Peter stubbornly brought Jace’s question back, to everyone’s amusement.

“I don’t know.” Jace answered with dead serious expression. “I don’t know. Isn’t that the question?”

The group dissolved into absolutely hysterical laughter, and it was commonly decided that Jace’s glass was to be confiscated from him.

It was for the better.

***

It wasn’t long ‘til Clary said goodbye to everyone and took Jace home, Magnus’ parents choosing to go with them and leave their car at their son’s house, since they both had both been drinking. By the time clock struck eleven it was only the Lightwood-Banes and Lightwood-Lewises left, Max and Rafe put to bed and Alex sleeping soundly on the garden sofa.

“Let’s move to the grass.”

Magnus laughed and turned around on the sofa where Alec had already hijacked a blanket and was laying down in the middle of the lawn.

“You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Magnus called out after him, but made no move to stand up, instead refilling his and Simon’ glasses, Isabelle already having taken hers to join Alec.

“We’re having an outside slumber party slash picnic, you have fun being dull husbands on the sofa!”

Simon chuckled, putting the hand over his glass to signal he didn’t want wine but Magnus stopped him.

“Simon. Come on. We have a guest bedroom. There’s no sense driving back home this late at night, and it will be late by the time those two finish gossiping, so why don’t you just indulge?”

Simon smiled, and allowed himself a drink, shifting his son before he fell off and sat in front of his brother-in-law.

“So we’re dull husbands, huh?” He laughed and Magnus laughed with him.

“Seems so. But I don’t really mind being one.”

***

“I missed this, you know. I missed it for 9 years, thinking I would never get that again?”

“What?” Alec asked, but his throat was tight.

“This. You. Me. Being silly teenagers together, although you’re turning thirty next month, old prick.”

“Hey. No making fun of the old prick.” His face fell. “I’m sorry we lost so much time. I’m sorry you couldn’t know.”

“Alec. Come on. We talked about it. It’s okay. I… Maybe it’s wrong, but I’m actually glad it happened. It was for the better for you. You have a beautiful life, Alec.” She smiles at him and he can’t help but smile back. “But, I missed this.” She gestures between them and laughs. “Though I have to admit your lawn is way softer and comfier than the Institute’s rooftop.”

“I’m glad it happened to. I’m not glad for losing you for years, but I got you back and I’m glad I have Magnus.”

“We’re all glad you have Magnus, bro.”

Alec rolled his eyes and got lost in the sea of stars above him, hugging Izzy close and caressing her head like in the good old days, before he kissed her forehead, sighing, unable to ignore it anymore.

“So mom and dad are coming tomorrow?”

Izzy didn’t say anything but Alec could feel her nod slightly.

“Are you ready? How are you dealing with it? I mean, Jace isn’t dealing at all if how wasted he got is any indication…”

Izzy laughed, a quiet but sincere sound, and it made Alec smile with satisfaction.

“You always know what to say, you know, Alec? I… I’m fine. It’s not like I can avoid it. I’m not letting them get out of it easily, because they were shitty parents and didn’t even come here for Alex’s birth, but deep down, I really want to see them. I know they have a lot to repent for, but I want to see if they deserve a second chance.”

“Okay. I get you. Just remember you can always rely on me and Jace if something goes wrong.”

“Sure. Actually…” Izzy lifted herself up on her elbows and looked at her brother. “How do you feel about that? I mean. I know they think you’re dead but… you’re not.”

“I’m not.” He sighs and looks up at the stars. “I don’t know how I feel. I need time. Just… Just see why they’ve come first and I guess we’ll go from that?”

“I guess we’ll go from that.” Izzy laid back again, looking into the sky.

No matter the reason for their parents’ visit, they already had a pretty amazing family. It would be fine.

***

“Leave it.”

“Magnus…”

Leave it. ” Magnus tugged him away. “We can clean up in the morning. It’s a warm evening, it’s not gonna rain, and even if the wind breaks something, it’ll be worth you getting much needed rest.”

“Stop being logical, it’s too late for this. Shower?” Alec’s words were saying one thing, but his drooping eyes another.

“I don’t think so, darling. You go check on the boys and I draw us a bath. With sandalwood scented bubbles and more champagne.”

More alcohol might not have been a strictly good idea but neither of them had drank much and Alec was always sleepy after drinking, so Magnus figured it would be fine.

“Undress me.”

“My, my, Alexander, who knew you could be so forward.”

“You knew. We’ve been married for seven years now, Mags, you know I’m a perv.”

“Oh really.”

“Not really.” If he wasn’t so tired, Alec would have chuckled. “I’m just exhausted. Undress me, I can’t do it myself, you painted these jeans on me.”

“And I painted them better than even Leonardo da Vinci ever could. Mind you, he didn’t have such a pretty ass for a canvas.”

“Now who’s a perv?” Alec chuckled weakly as Magnus helped him get out of the ridiculously skinny jeans, boxers and socks going off by themselves in the process.

Alec took care of his button up by himself, Magnus quickly stripping too and getting rid of his jewelry, Alec somehow waking himself enough to help him take the makeup off, as minimal as it was on family days like this.

They filled the bath with a ludicrous amount of oils and bubble gel and threw in a glitter bath bomb just because, the tap turned to hottest and the whole bathroom steaming as they finally turned the flow off and sank into the water, squeezing in by curling close to each other.

Alec almost moaned as the warmth seeped into his bones, his body relaxing and melting into one with his husband’s. Magnus waited until Alec got himself together until he handed him the glass of champagne and the clinked their glasses in a toast.

“To years of nights as perfect as this.”

“To our kids never growing up. Please.” Magnus laughed and they drank, the pleasant buzz of alcohol relaxing them even further.

They left the empty glasses on the windowsill and sank further into the water, Magnus stifling his laughter when he had to basically hold Alec up, the man falling asleep in the water. He kissed him awake long enough to message tension and dirt out of his body with soapy hands and gently wash his hair before quickly washing himself and letting the water out.

He used the handshower to rinse the bubbles off them and made sure Alec didn’t trip over his own feet when getting out of the bath. He buried him in a towel before getting his own to dry himself but he was wrong in assuming Alec had already fallen asleep because after Magnus turned away for a moment he turned back to find Alec gone.

He peeked into the bedroom and chuckled when he found his husband already dry and in boxers, sprawled on top of the golden covers.

The silk set was a gift from Magnus for their 5 th anniversary, gold in honor of Nephilim color for marriage. They were Alec’s favorite.

He tried to gently coax Alec to move but it seemed impossible so instead he just tugged the covers from under Alec, rolling him over in the process and giggling at the displeased snore it produced, and slid under cocooning himself with Alec’s warmth like a furnace next to him.

Warm, comfortable and soft, he felt himself drift off quite quickly, with only one thought in the back of his mind.

May the boys sleep in this time.

Chapter Text

 

The boys did not sleep in.

 

But Magnus and Alec were still blissfully unaware of that when the former shadowhunter finally came out of the sweet confines of sleep with a groan sometime after eleven.

 

His head was pounding and something told him he had Izzy’s second bottle of rose to thank for that. Magnus was still snoring adorably next to him and Alec forced himself to get up, throwing on the first thing he noticed, which turned out to be Magnus’ silky robe from that business trip to Japan, with silver swirls all around it. It was insanely soft and comfy and Alec decided he was definitely going to steal it more often as he went to the boys’ rooms.

 

They were empty.

 

With a yawn Alec came down the stairs in search of his sons and some painkillers only to startle when he realized the kitchen wasn’t empty.

 

“Hi, Alec.”

 

Simon was definitely looking far too well for a man after a night of drinking. Alec hated him a bit for having more common sense in drinking than he had had.

 

“I made breakfast for you guys and I have hangover pills.”

 

Actually, scratch that. Simon was the best brother-in-law ever.

 

“Thanks.”

 

He gratefully swallowed the pill and dug into the tuna-celery salad Simon had made. He was really a much better cook than Izzy.

 

“Where are the boys?”

 

“Shara was here while you were still sleeping. She was going shopping and she asked if she could steal the boys away. She invited us over for that promised barbeque tonight, since it’s been a decade and all…”

 

Simon trailed off, looking gloomy, but Alec smiled.

 

“That’s a good plan. I mean… I know it’s been a painful day, but in a way, to me my life only really started back then.” He grabbed sugar to put it in his tea, changing the topic. “Izzy’s already at work?”

 

“Yeah… Your parents are coming in today. Clary and Jace came for her just before 7, but Clary promised me she’s going to make sure they don’t stay in any longer than noon, just so they see what’s the deal with your parents and then you can have anniversary Lightwood siblings bonding time. The BBQ is only at 5pm so you’ll have some time for yourself.”

 

Alec nodded gratefully, still unsure how he felt about the day. He was grateful he had left the Shadow World and found Magnus and his family, but almost a decade of his siblings being sure he was dead was not easy to forget.

 

“Sherlock. Hi. What are you making?”

 

Alec looked up to see his husband coming down the stairs all bleary eyed and confused.

 

“Where are our children, Alexander?”

 

“Simon sold them to your mom. We have an invitation for a BBQ this afternoon.”

 

“Oh. That’s sweet.” Magnus started slowly regaining some semblance of awareness as he drank his tea. “What are we doing then? You’re having Jace and Izzy over?”

 

“Yep.” Simon answered for Alec. “And I’m stealing you while they have bonding time because I need business tips.”

 

“Well, okay then. That’s gotta be fun. Where did you say the boys are, Alec?”

 

Alec snickered.

 

***

 

It was all very anticlimactic. The air didn't have a different feel to it and the atmosphere felt altogether normal. The library looked the way it always did, as if no time had passed.

 

Maryse and Robert Lightwood stepped out of the portal with a solemn look on their faces to find their children and a pretty redhead waiting for them in the library.

 

Briefly, Robert wondered who she was, until he realized from the way she stood next to Jace and her physical description that it had to be Clarissa Fray.

 

Jace’s wife.

 

His children were both married and he had a grandson, and yet here he was, the boy over a year old, but he still hadn’t met him.

 

They had fucked up badly.

 

He felt Maryse take his hand and gently squeezed in comfort, meeting Isabelle’s and Jace’s eyes with readiness.

 

“Izzy. Jace.”

 

Maryse’s voice was shaking and she felt like she had gone back a decade, just as scared, but far more ashamed.

 

“We’re sorry.”

 

“That’s a good start.” Jace said, sitting down on one of the sofas. “Why are you here?”

 

“It’s high time we came, isn’t it?”

 

Robert had never planned to make up or push forward excuses; no, he was ready to atone and work towards making things right for everything he'd done wrong.

 

“You could put it that way.” Jace had his arms crossed in a universal closed off position, glaring at their parents.

 

“You didn’t even come to our weddings.”

 

“Please, it’s not like you really wanted us there.”

 

Maryse wasn’t looking at them but it was clear she really meant it. Isabelle recoiled from her words, her father’s downcast expression confirming them. But she wasn’t going to feel sorry for them. She wasn’t going to forgive them just because they thought their children hated them.

 

Maybe she didn’t hate them, but they needed to win her love back.

 

By her side Jace had his head in his hands and Clary was looking shocked.

 

“As a matter of fact…” Izzy said with her throat tight, suddenly having had enough. “We would have very much liked you there.”

 

She stood up and left, Jace and Clary behind her, leaving Robert and Maryse in the library alone.

 

She wanted to try and she knew they wanted to try too, but this was going to be a lot harder than she had expected and she wasn’t ready to do this today.

 

“Isabelle!”

 

She stopped when she heard her father’s voice, choosing to give him one more chance.

 

“We came because it’s been 10 years and it’s high time we realized they’re not coming back.”

 

Not coming back.

 

“Good.”

 

It was Jace who answered when Izzy couldn’t find words, watching her parents’ retreat. She felt Clary hug her from the side and turned with tears welling in her eyes, going straight for the exit.

 

It didn’t matter.

 

It would wait.

 

If Robert and Maryse were here because they were ready to face their problems, then they would still be ready the next day.

 

It’d been 10 years and they had no time for their parents today. She and Jace needed Alec.

 

***

 

It was Simon who went to open the door, taking the crying Izzy into his arms as Jace and Clary trudged into the kitchen barefoot. He led her after them, but she shook his hand off, wiping the tears away and readily coming in to sit on a stool at the table, attacking some sandwiches and eyeing Alec with a weird look of affection and inspection...

 

"That... isn't yours?"

 

"What?"

 

Alec looked down at himself, confused.

 

"That's not a piece of clothing you would own, Alec. Did Magnus get it for you? It looks good."

 

Alec blushed as he realised what he had on. The silky robe was deep turquoise, with swirled pattern on the cuffs in tiny silver beads. It was the first thing he had grabbed from the hook on the door when he had gotten up.

 

"Hmm... You're right, dear Isabelle, that's mine." Magnus giggled, tugging Alec lightly by said robe to have his husband's head rest on his shoulder.

 

"Oh no, Magnus, you don't get to laugh at him, I recognize your shirt too!"

 

Magnus looked down at himself with confusion, realising he had a faded black t-shirt with "Totally straight" written on it in rainbow lettering under a picture of a unicorn. Vaguely he remembered it wasn't his shirt indeed, not initially, but he claimed it as his pyjamas a good few years ago, but Alec's shirts were always ridiculously soft cotton.

 

When he thought about it, he remembered Alec had worn that shirt all those years ago at uni. He hadn't realised it was that old.

 

"It was the shirt I bought you for your last birthday before... you know."

 

His smile weakened, but it wasn't as bad as Alec feared. But before he could answer, Jace huffed indignantly in Izzy's direction.

 

"You knew he was gay? I only found out when we found out he was alive, Iz!"

 

"I didn't know, exactly. I suspected, but he wouldn't tell me and I didn't want to ask. So I bought the shirt. Which he never wore or mentioned again so I wasn't sure..."

 

"Yes, well, it's not that shirt."

 

Alec's voice cut through the silence.

 

"I wasn't allowed to take any of my clothes or anything, really, but that shirt... meant a lot to me. So I ordered an identical one."

 

There was nothing but the sound of a clinking spoon in the silence as Simon stirred his tea, painfully awkward until Clary grabbed his hand and dragged him up.

 

"You know what, guys. I'm stealing Si for today. Have fun!"

 

She was out of the door before any of them noticed. Alec felt Magnus shift him away and move to stand up, already making his own excuses, but he squeezed his hand, tightly, not letting him go.

 

"No."

 

"It's special, Alec. I can leave you three to yourself."

 

"No." Alec said, quieter, softer, more desperate. "Stay."

 

And Magnus sat back down.

 

***

 

"So…. Are we? Giving them space or what? Why can't we stay there? Magnus is staying."

 

"Whether Magnus is staying is Alec's choice. They need sibling bonding time. They don't need us. Don't question it, Si, just trust me."

 

She patted him on the head comfortingly, the action that looked altogether weird considering Simon was a head taller than Clary, and he glared at her.

 

"Come on. We can use this chance to spend the day for some bonding too, I can't remember the last time it was just the two of us hanging out together. It'll be just like the old times!"

 

He raised an eyebrow in what he probably meant to be an unimpressed look, but his crinkling eyes betrayed him.

 

"Fine, Fray. Let's go to Taki's!"

 

"Let's not go to Taki's! We're going to mine, I have a mighty need to sprawl myself on the couch."

 

"Oh really? And where am I supposed to sit then?"

 

"On the floor!"

 

Clary laughed, getting into the car.

 

In the end, Simon did end up sitting on the floor, but by no choice other than his own. He remembered, with faint amusement, his physics teacher from high school, back before the whole supernatural mess started, who was always trying to stop him from sitting on the corridor floor during lunch time.

 

"What are we going to do then, Lewis?"

 

Clary hooked her chin over Simon's shoulder, peeking at the laptop he had open on the homesite, Tumblr.

 

"Dunno, watch a movie?"

 

"We are not watching Sharknado again."

 

"You're no fun, Fray."

 

He started scrolling through Tumblr absentmindedly while Clary mumbled about unsuccessful attempts to unsee that disaster of a movie.

 

Clary had no understanding of the good comedy value Z-class horrors had. He scrolled past a #TeamCap gifset - what was that even doing on his dash? He was a firm Tony fanboy.

 

"Wait!"

He froze, letting go of the laptop as he startled, only Clary's hand saving the poor thing from falling to the floor.

 

"Thanks."

 

He breathed in relief, settling the laptop back on his knees.

 

"Why did you yell?"

 

"I didn't yell. You zoned out. Scroll back some."

 

Simon did, moving past the #TeamCap gifset again and gagging mentally.

 

"Here! Look."

 

It was a text post.

 

Bro A gets in a fight with a family member. Bro B tries to comfort them with candy and YouTube videos.

 

"...brotpsmattertoo, awww, that's so cute, open that blog."

 

"Fine, but it's on you that I want candy now."

 

He said but abidingly clicked the link.

 

The blog loaded.

 

"BrOTP prompts! That's so awesome, Si, I thought those kind of things were only for OTPs!"

 

"What is your favorite BrOTP? Mine's probably Tony and Bruce. Does that have a broship name?"

 

"No idea."

 

Clary answered, eating candy and looking at the blog as Simom scrolled slowly.

 

"Hey! Where did you get that candy? Give it to me. Now. Your fav broship."

 

Clary reluctantly surrendered the candy, thinking for a moment.

 

"My BrOTP? Hm… I'd say Climon."

 

"Climon? What's a Climo--oh. Oh! Aww, we're my BrOTP too, Fray."

 

"So which one of us is bro A and bro B in this one?"

 

He stopped scrolling as Clary pointed at the prompt.

 

Bro A is deathly afraid of rats. Bro B’s cat comes in the room, having just killed one. What does Bro B do?

 

Simon shuddered.

 

"None of us is any bro. I'm the rat and Church is my killer. I hope you will organize my funeral."

 

"So little faith in me. I saved you in the end."

 

"No. Izzy and Jace did that. You got me in trouble in the first place."

 

Clary huffed, mock offended (it's not like she asked Simon to drink something suspicious, it was rule #1 of parties NOT to) but moved to another prompt.

 

Imagine bro A shaving Bro B’s head while he sleeps. How does Bro B get revenge?

 

"…don't get any ideas, Fray."

 

"…don't even think about it, Lewis!"

 

They looked at each other, shuddering.

 

"Let's just… agree to scroll on and forget this one exists."

 

"Deal."

 

Simon scrolled on, his hand moving back into the candy bag, only to find it empty. He eyed Clary, pretty sure it had still been at least half full a moment ago, but she just batted her eyelashes at him.

 

"Okay, look at this one! Clearly you're bro B."

 

Imagine Bro B is an artist. One day, Bro A accidentally opens Bro B’s sketchbook and finds it full of drawings of him.

 

"Well, yes and no. I'm the artist but if you think my sketchbook is full of you, Si, you'll be disappointed."

 

Clary laughed and Simon put on his best pained expression.

 

"Oh, Fray, you wound me. Who do you draw then?"

 

Clary raised an eyebrow at him.

 

"I’ll give you one shot."

 

"Well, I know it's Jace."

 

Clary smacked him with a decorative pillow, watching his surprise with satisfaction.

 

"Truly it's so shocking that a woman would draw her beloved husband. Wouldn't expect you to figure it out, Lewis."

 

He laughed, threw the pillow back at her, and scrolled on.

 

***

 

"I'm going to go change. You get the dishes."

 

"What? That's not fair!"

 

Magnus yelled after Alec but the latter had already disappeared up the stairs.

 

"We can clean up if you need to go up and change."

 

Izzy offered with a smile but Magnus winked at her.

 

"It's fine. I'm staying in this shirt, it's my favourite."

 

Jace laughed, shaking his head, as he started to gather the empty mugs and plates and put them in the dishwasher, Izzy putting remnants of the salad in the fridge. They did a quick job of cleaning up the kitchen and put the kettle on again.

 

"Tea, coffee?"

 

"Do you have Mint?" Izzy started to ransack the cupboards without waiting for Magnus' answer.

 

"I'll have Earl Grey." Jace smiled, glad for the casual, easy atmosphere. It felt good, to just sit down with a cup of tea instead of letting the reminder of Alec's not-death squash them. "It's kinda funny, you know? Everyone I know loves coffee, and it seems to be like, a coffee culture? Everyone in the world is coffee obsessed but almost everyone in our family drinks tea."

 

"Coffee is an abomination. We just know the right way." Magnus poured the water over the leaves and let the tea brew for a few minutes, grabbing a bag of dried cherries and another of mixed nuts and putting them in a bowl.

 

"Do you have rum?"

 

Magnus handed Jace the tray with a raised eyebrow.

 

"Oh course I have rum. This is a spiked tea kind of anniversary."

 

They settled on the sofa just when Alec came down the stairs, in a shirt that wasn't his either if the words "Blink if you want me" were anything to go by, and with Monopoly in his hand.

 

"We're playing Monopoly?"

 

Jace raised an amused eyebrow at his former parabatai as he settled next to the blonde, Magnus sprawled on another couch and Izzy in the armchair.

 

"Well, we're surely not talking about our feelings, so why not."

 

It lasted until Izzy snagged both Broadwalk and Park Place, about half a bottle of rum in, until it all crumbled.

 

"You always snag the best ones. Why do you always do that? You're a cheater."

 

"I'm not a cheater! That's pure skill."

 

"We didn't even play Monopoly for over a decade and you just snag everything like back when we were kids."

 

Iz looked at Jace with a weird expression, putting her bundle of cash down.

 

"Remember when Max last played with us? And after he died, we took the monopoly out and Alec crossed out Broadwalk and put Max Lightwood there. Most precious, but no longer with us. And after Alec died I crossed out Park Place and put him there, but we couldn't bring ourselves to ever play again."

 

Alec noticed how Jace shifted closer to him as Izzy spoke.

 

"I still have that board."

 

"I always played with the dog token, but Max lost it not long after we got the game."

 

Magnus eyed the three siblings who all looked ready to burst into tears and looked rather uncomfortable.

 

"Hey. New rule. It's not the 10th anniversary of Alec's death, it's the first anniversary of your reunion. And we need more rum in the tea."

 

Alec burst out laughing, leaning on Jace who started giggling himself. Izzy got up from her armchair to hug Magnus.

 

"You married an awesome guy, Alec."

 

"I know."

 

Magnus blushed like a teenager.

 

"Did mom... Did mom and dad come?"

 

"I thought we weren't talking about feelings?" Magnus hugged Izzy close and glared at his husband.

 

"Well, better get it out sooner than later, right?"

 

Jace sighed.

 

"They came... They said they're sorry and claimed they want to try and fix their mistakes. We told them it's a good start and went. They waited ten years, they can wait another day."

 

For some reason, Alec snorted, finding the concept funny. Maybe he shouldn't. Maybe he should consider his parents' feelings, and in a way he felt bad for that, but the mental picture of Robert and Maryse coming in only to be dismissed immediately was simply absurd.

 

"Well, if they said sorry then that's a start." He sighed, shifting to half lay down on Jace, who seemed unimpressed but accommodated his brother.

 

"Now get back to the game, I want all the railroads so I can at least attempt to kick Izzy's ass."

 

By the time the game ended the bottle of rum was completely empty and the teapot was refilled three times, the four of them abandoning drinking knowing very well they would still need to drive to get the kids in the evening.

 

"Let's watch a movie."

 

"You will just fall asleep, darling. You're a sleepy drunk, Alec, don't deny it."

 

Izzy laughed at Magnus' words, almost falling from the sofa.

 

"Remember your 16th birthday, Alec?"

 

Alec groaned. Despite his loud protests, Izzy told the story anyway, his husband of a traitor listening intently while looking Alec in the eyes.

 

But his traitor of a husband was also right.

 

It didn't matter that 10 years had passed since his "death". It mattered that for a year now his family had been beautifully complete. He hugged Jace tighter, laying his head on his shoulder, and listening to Izzy tarnish his good name.

 

***

 

"You're on time."

 

"Do you have to sound surprised, mom?"

 

Shara laughed, hugging her son and the straight line of lost ducklings the Lightwood siblings made behind him.

 

"You okay, darlings? How did things go with your parents?"

 

"Deflection?" Izzy's brow furrowed, unimpressed with herself.

 

"We told them we will deal with them tomorrow. For now they said sorry so... It's a start."

 

"Oh my dears. Get in, Clary texted, she and Simon will be late."

 

"I bet a tenner they're watching superhero movies!" Magnus shouted from the kitchen, already stuffing his face with corn on the cob, Rafael in his lap while Max sat next to them, colouring a book.

 

"No one's taking that bet when we all know you're right." Alec sat next to him, stealing his nephew from his father-in-law and taking him to the living room, Alex giggling hysterically all the way.

 

Indeed, not long after Clary and Simon arrived, Jace managed to tease his brother-in-law into revealing that they were finishing watching Now You See Me before coming. To everyone's surprise, it wasn't a superhero movie, but after Alec voiced that opinion it sent Simon, and surprisingly Mr. Bane, into a rant about how The Four Horsemen were definitely a super hero squad. Not to mention Mark Ruffalo was totally even more of a superhero in that movie than as Hulk.

 

Thankfully the superhero discussion died down after dinner, everyone happily sinking into the couch pillows, chairs or even, in Isabelle's case, sitting on the carpet, Alex using her to try and climb onto Simon who took the armchair.

 

The conversation turned into lazy everyday topics that were usually discussed over tea and coffee.

 

"Okay, guys, time for cake!" Shara interrupted the chatter, catching everyone's attention.

 

"Cake?" Whispers of curiosity followed her departure to the kitchen.

 

"I'll get the plates and forks!" Magnus ran after her and soon they were back, a beautifully decorated round cake with lit candles in her hands.

 

"Is that a birthday cake, dad?" Max looked at it with curiosity. "Who's birthday is it? Raph just had his birthday, didn't he?"

 

"He did, sweetie. Your papa has his birthday, but not until next week. I don't think I know who's birthday it is either, unfortunately, you have to ask your grandma."

 

But before Max could say anything, Shara laughed putting the cake on the table, and answering for him.

 

"It's your cake, my dear." She said, pointing to Alec who seemed confused.

 

"But my birthday isn’t until next month."

 

"It is. But this is not a birthday cake, it's your… well, it's a cake to celebrate you becoming a mundane, which led you to us, and to celebrate you reuniting with your siblings."

 

"So it's like a death cake?" Simon blurted out. "Because everyone thought you…" Jace clamped his hand over Simon's mouth before he could finish.

 

"Please stop talking, man. There are children here. Your child too."

 

Simon obediently fell silent as Mrs. Bane continued.

 

"I know it's a date that brings up different memories but I think, ultimately, it all turned out great. So let's just focus on the positive aspects. Like cake. Come on. Make a wish and blow out the candles."

 

Smiling, Alec closed his eyes, wishing that although his feelings were as conflicted as a decade ago, his parents' visit would end as well as his deruning had.

 

"What did you wish for?" Magnus asked, forever snooping.

 

"I can't tell you or it won't come true." He silenced his husband with a kiss and put pondering about the future aside in favour of the chocolate goodness.

 

Magnus definitely got his great cooking skills from his parents.

 

***

 

He caught her hand, gently bringing it to his chest, stilling the tremor. He took the cotton pad in his own hand, helping her clean off the make up armour, revealing the dark circles. Two cups of melissa were already waiting on the vanity, fresh and steaming, because he knew they would both need help falling asleep.

 

He binned the used pads and took his mug, going over to the bed, crawling under the covers and slowly sipping the tea waiting for her to join him.

 

"I really thought..." He heard her voice catch and waited, knowing that they both needed to get it out. "I thought that being their boss was more important for their protection, after Max. I felt like I failed him. And then Alec happened anyway and I felt like maybe... maybe it would be better to just leave them alone, because they were always such independent, amazing kids. But it wasn't a good idea, was it?"

 

She sat down next to him and leaned onto him, drinking her tea.

 

"I just felt... powerless. And I felt like I needed to escape before I accidentally made it all worse. I felt like they had people who supported them more than I ever could... And after that, it all just went too far. I think Alec hit me the worst. Because I couldn't believe it happened again . I think it was back then when I truly realised we were wrong. But I was afraid that it was me. That if we stayed, something would happen to Jace or Isabelle."

 

"I realised quickly that it was the wrong approach. That we should have been there to protect them instead. But by then I already... I had no idea how to come back. Even now, I'm still scared. I was an awful mother, Robert, I never wanted us to end that way."

 

He looked at her, and though even with her tear stained face, she was beautiful.

 

"We fucked up, Maryse. But maybe we should stop trying to fix it on our own because it only makes things worse, and finally ask our children to forgive us before we lose Jace and Isabelle too."

 

They weren't going to let that happen.

Chapter Text

 

Izzy knew this day would be trying the moment she was woken up by her alarm. Usually, Isabelle was really happy with her job. She didn't enjoy getting up with the sun to get to the Institute on time, but then again, who did? The job itself was fine, though. Isabelle loved Shadowhunting, but a desk position was okay with her.

 

Especially considering Izzy got to boss people around from behind that desk.

 

But today wasn't usual. Today, Isabelle was sure she would have a headache by the time she left work, and she wasn't wrong. She said hi to Jace on her way in, her brother already up and working (he belonged to the despicable category of morning people, but at least he knew to stay quiet until others wake up too, even back when they lived together) and got to work.

 

She got herself through the paperwork, debriefed with Raj after his team came back from teh hunt and accepted lunch when Jace handed it to her with a remark about not wanting his sister to give herself food poisoning. She ignored him and send a kissing emoji back at Simon when he texted her to know Peter came and stole Alex, having apparently already kidnapped Max and Rafe too.

 

She was grateful. She knew why the Banes were trying to give them space, knew the reason was the same she felt really uneasy despite the fact nothing happened today.

 

Oh well, not yet.

 

It was after they finished lunch, Jace and her chatting and pretending to forget their responsibilities. She was asking about Clary and Jace was telling her about how she was apparently at Lightwood-Banes because of something she needed from Alec, when a knock on the door interrupted them.

 

Izzy knew why she and Jace were more on edge today.

 

It was because no matter how hard they tried to ignore it, they couldn't shake off the constant awareness at the back of their mind, the knowledge that their parents are back, just a few rooms away, at the Institute.

 

"Can we come in?"

 

Robert stood in the doorway, Maryse behind him, looking unsure and avoiding eye contact. Jace nodded before Izzy could say anything, and they went in, closing the door behind themselves, trapping the four of them in a space that reeked of awkwardness a decade of separation forced them into.

 

But was it really about the last decade?

 

Suddenly Izzy felt the bitterness that was gathering in her all her life explode.

 

"We wanted to ask if you could come over for dinner..."  

 

Maryse didn't get to finish.

 

"You think a dinner can fix it? I get it, mom. I really do. You grieved. You were hurting. But so was I. So was Jace. And instead of being here for us, you just abandoned us. But it's more than that, isn't it? You were not quite... there since Max, yes, but it started long before that. You know what I remember from my childhood?"

 

She didn't get up. She was sitting in her chair, Jace across from her, and they were standing but she still felt as if she was towering over them.

 

"I remember when I was five and you were reading us fairy tales to sleep, dad. I remember when mom sang to me. And then she stopped and kept telling us we are too big for that. I remember how much I wanted one of you to read me a book but you just kept scolding me about why I'm not studying."

 

"I remember when I came here." Jace's words were quiet, but rang loud in the silence of the office. "And I remember when Alec and Iz would sneak into my bed and when you would kick them back into their rooms and close the door, leaving me with darkness and my fears, just a kiss on the forehead and a claim that I'm a "big boy" that I wasn't. I was a child."

 

"I remember when you were letting Max read manga while you kept scolding Alec and Jace that they shouldn't be interested in mundane books because they are a waste of time. I remember feeling truly beautiful in a dress I bought and you telling me it's "inappropriate" to wear something like this."

 

"I remember you standing there, dad, never really speaking up or denying when mom kept finding faults in our behaviour."

 

Jace stood up, signaling for Izzy to do the same.

 

"But what I don't remember... I don't remember you ever telling us you were proud of us. It's not just about the last decade. It's more than that. I don't know how do you want to fix that, but you better start thinking if you really want to. You can start by making yourself useful  for Raj while me and Iz go home early."

 

He walked out without a word, Izzy behind him, looking small despite her high heels and some light in her eyes gone. He helped her into her coat and walked with her to the car, driving towards the Lewis household.

 

"I'll call Clary to ask her to bring Magnus and Alec over."

 

Izzy just nodded.

 

***

 

"...and I guess Iz kinda exploded."

 

"Me?" Izzy threw her brother a murderous glare from where she was lying on the sofa with her head in Simon's lap. "I remember you eagerly joining me and being the one to dramatically walk out of the conversation!" She sighed. "Not that I mind. I needed to just get out of there."

 

Jace smirked at her but it was devoid of joy, more tired. He was sitting in the armchair, cocooned in a blanket with Clary wrapped around him like an octopus. Magnus and Alec were on the floor, the former sitting cross legged while the latter reclined next to him, propped on one elbow and picking at the threads from the carpet.

 

"Let's talk about something else?"

 

Alec didn't need to say more. It was obvious they never expected for Robert's and Maryse's arrival to go smoothly but the reality was taking a toll on them. They needed a break.

 

"Let's have a slumber party!" Magnus perked up, face bright and eyes shining with excitement. "Well, obviously not a slumber party, because we need to take the kids in the evening..."

 

"Actually, no, we don't."  

 

Magnus looked at Alec with a raised brow.

 

"Come on. Your parents will be overjoyed to keep them for the night and I think we all deserve one night of good sleep and to forget about everything."

 

"Well, you won't hear me complaining."

 

Magnus was out of the room to call his mother before anyone could stop him. Clary looked enthusiastic about the whole idea, eagerly jumping up and running out to the kitchen with a yell "The snacks are on me!" while Jace looked like he missed his human radiator.

 

"Does that mean I also have uncocoon myself? I'm warm here."

 

Alec laughed and stood up, sitting on the armrest of Jace's chair.

 

"Well, if you're warm..." He tugged on the blanket, chuckling as Jace viciously tugged back, successfully throwing Alec off balance and making him fall atop of his former parabatai.

 

"You're heavy, get off me!"

 

"Shouldn't have done this to yourself then! I'm quite comfy."

 

Izzy looked on with unshed tears in her eyes, happy to see her brothers back to the friendly, easy banter and tactileness that they shared back as teenagers. She missed it. She missed it for the last decade but she also missed it for the last year, that was all about relearning each other, finding out what people they have become and trying to find their balance back.

 

And they finally found it, falling into a comfortable routine. It was even better now than back before Alec's death, because now they had Simon and Clary and Magnus and that kind of squad was something Izzy never knew she could even dream of.

 

"Okay, guys, we are uncocooning you though, even if you're warm."

 

Jace gasped dramatically at Simon, clutching onto the blanket and Alec for life.

 

"How dare you?! Betrayal. You'll have to pray that blanket from my dead cold body."

 

"Even if I say we should use it to build a blanket fort?"

 

Izzy laughed as Jace immediately shed the blanket, dropping Alec onto the floor in the process.

 

Building blanket fort it was.

 

***

 

"You two seem so mismatched."

 

Magnus laughed as Izzy tried to get Simon to give her the remote control by beating him with a pillow, yelling about Marvel being inferior to Princess Bride.

 

"We are perfectly matched, thank you very much!"

 

Izzy gave the pillow up and hugged her husband close, protective over Magnus' words. He laughed.

 

"Oh, you are. You're just so different, I would have never saw it coming." He smiled, lost in thought. "Actually, how did that come to be? We weren't there for it, I want to know your love stories."

 

Clary smiled.

 

"That's a good one! Let's share proposal stories! I know Simon and Izzy's but you guys weren't there either, so you gotta share yours."

 

Alec rolled his eyes, but he didn't really mind. Those memories were ones he could relieve every day.

 

"Okay, but Iz goes first."

 

Izzy laughed, looking at Simon.

 

"Fine. Okay, but it wasn't..."

 

She laughed, and Simon groaned, already hiding away from embarrassment.

 

"So Simon was the one to propose..."

 

Clary grabbed a bag of popcorn, knowing the story and already anticipating the best parts.

 

"Actually, propose may be saying much, he actually blurted it out."

 

"What?"

 

Izzy ignored Alec and continued.

 

"We were laying in bed,  a very morning and he kept playing with my hair and not letting me sleep... And he just went 'Goddess, I wanna marry you' and then basically fell of the bed apologizing that he didn't mean to but he did mean to but he planned to do it differently."

 

She laughed, and it was full of joy.

 

"And then he took a ring box from the bedside drawer and went on one knee and didn't allow me to answer until he finished his speech. And then the idiot still had the audacity to be surprised that I said yes. But he's my idiot. And I repeated that yes at the altar."

 

Simon pulled Izzy into a passionate kiss.

 

"Okay, Clary, your turn." Iz smirked.

 

"Well, I think Jace will want to tell that one."

 

Jace blushed and avoided Alec's curious gaze.

 

"Well, actually... It was Clary who proposed."

 

Somehow, Alec wasn't surprised. Saddened, a bit, but happy more so, that she took that step to make Jace happy. He could see why Jace wouldn't have it in himself to propose. Jace's abusive childhood and the whole "to love is to destroy" bullshit ruined him enough before he found out Michael Wayland was really Valentine.

 

Jace was broken in so many ways, Alec knew that because he was glueing Jace together so often before he "died", and Jace didn't think he deserved love.

 

He could see Clary helped that considerably, knew Jace probably managed to overcome himself for her, was sure Jace believed Clary loved him.

 

But he also knew Jace would be too afraid that it was temporary. He knew Jace would be too afraid to ask to keep what he gained, too afraid to ask Clary because he would think he was "chaining her down" or convinced she "deserved better".

 

Jace would accept love but never ask to keep it forever, too used to all good things in life being fleeting.

 

"I just, I'd never have asked her myself, because why would I think she'd say yes." Jace tried to play it off as a joke but they all knew him to well. "But then she went on one knee and asked me... And how could I say no?"

 

"How could I ever say no to her in anything?"

 

Silence reigned after Jace's words as Clary hugged him close.

 

"Okay, it's Alec's turn."

 

Jace was desperate to turn the attention away from himself but also genuinely curious. He missed so much in his brother's life when he thought Alec was dead and it hurt more than the broken bond. He missed Alec, not just the connection. He didn't care about runic magic as long as Alec was here, alive and happy and with him.

 

"It was Magnus who proposed."

 

Alec looked at his husband and allowed him to tell the story.

 

"It was at uni. We were already living together because Alec didn't have anywhere else to stay... he conveniently forgot to mention it was because he was an exiled half-angel."

 

Alec chuckled and his his face in his hands in embarrassment.

 

"I was planning to propose for a while, I had this grand plan with post it notes and polaroid pictures and rose petals and I roped Alec's friend to help me compile a movie... I was trying to be sneaky about it."

 

"You weren't sneaky at all."

 

"I was very bad at being sneaky, yes... And because of that, Alec thought I'm hooking up with Lydia and that I want to break up with him."

 

Magnus's face flooded with red as the rest laughed.

 

"So when Alec told me.. I had to move my plan forward. I drove to buy rose petals in the middle of the night, roped Lydia into finishing the movie at 3am and proposed in the morning."

 

"It was cliche as fuck. And romantic. And I cried, and I told him that he sucks at being sneaky."

 

"But it doesn't matter. Because you said yes."

 

"I said yes."

 

"Awww, you're so disgustingly cute." Clary commented, but they ignored her.

 

Honestly, it was true. They were all a disgustingly cute bunch. Alec couldn't believe they all got so lucky, not just him but also his siblings, so find true love and happiness even in this fucked up world they lived in.

 

They were a cute and lucky bunch.

Chapter Text

Alec came to consciousness slowly, aware of his surroundings and the fact it was morning, but his eyes still refusing to cooperate. He nuzzled Magnus' neck, ever thankful their life choices allowed them to have this late mornings, the perk of being their own bosses.

 

"You will have to let me go eventually."

 

Alec groaned.

 

"You scratch."

 

He chose to complain, out of nowhere, ignoring his husband's statement. Magnus laughed.

 

"Alec, I'm not kidding, I need to come in to the office today."

 

With a sigh, Alec let him go, finally opening his eyes to Magnus' smile.

 

"Good morning."

 

"Morning. If you get up with me you can help me shave."

 

Suddenly, Alec didn't mind getting up at all.

 

***

 

"Don't let the boys destroy the house while I'm gone."

 

Alec handed Magnus his tie, his hand going up to caress a smooth cheek. This was definitely a good morning. Smiling, he pecked Magnus, earning a tiny chuckle. By the Angel, Magnus was beautiful.

 

"That was one time. And I don't have any work today, so I can give them my full attention and make sure nothing gets broken."

 

Magnus sighed and tied the knot, putting his jacket on.

 

"I will miss you."

 

"Likewise, but you need to work. Shoo you, you know you already have a lot more flexible hours being your own boss."

 

"Fine. See you later."

 

"See you later. You're staying with the kids in the afternoon."

 

"What?"

 

Magnus looked at Alec with mock indignation, but real curiosity as they came down the stairs after checking the boys were still asleep.

 

"I'm going to the new sports centre with Jace later."

 

"And you didn't ask me if I want to come with you?"

 

Magnus tied his shoes, put on the jacket and faced Alec with a challenging expression. Alec rolled his eyes.

 

"Sports centre, Magnus."

 

Magnus laughed.

 

"You're right. I hate sports. Okay, see you later."

 

And with a parting kiss, Alec locked the door behind his husband. Time to face the day and their two little monsters.

 

***

 

Isabelle scrolled mindlessly through the reports, not caring much about the details. The mission was a success, the demon nest was destroyed, no one was injured. The rest didn't matter to her. She printed the page and signed it, putting it into the right folder.

 

She liked paper copies. Technology was a blessing, but technology failed her before, especially with so much magic disturbances. She had one hard drive destroyed completely before with no way to retrieve the lost data and she kept analog copies of everything since then.

 

She sat back down, closing the system and preparing to leave, when she heard the knock on the door.

 

She gently put her bag down and looked at the door anxiously.

 

If this wasn't something urgent... Izzy just wanted to go back home to Simon and Alex.

 

"Come in."

 

She was surprised to see her father enter. For a moment, she considered dismissing him. Telling him she was just on her way out, asking him to come another day. But she quickly talked herself out of the idea. Her parents were home for a week and after a decade of absence she still didn't really talk to them.

 

"Isabelle. Do you have a moment?"

 

"Of course, dad." She was half surprised that the smile she offered him was genuine. "Come sit."

 

She sat back down behind her desk, Robert in front of her in the guest chair.

 

"You look beautiful, Izzy. You've grown into an amazing woman."

 

Izzy blushed, looking down at herself. Indeed, she changed a lot in the years her parents weren't there for. Gone was a girl who's first rule in dressing was sexappeal, replaced by a woman who still wore short dresses to parties but wore a suit to work.

 

She had a black jacket without lapels today with pale pink blouse underneath and black slacks. It was clothing she got used to with time, style that she learned to love and be proud of, but for her father it must have been new.

 

Not a bad new, and maybe not a better new, hopefully. Just a different new.

 

"Well, I guess I grew up." She smiled, but it was a bit forced. "What did you want to talk about?"

 

Robert's brow furrowed and he opened his mouth to say something before deciding against it. He stood up and went around the desk, turning her chair to the side and crouching in front of her. Her smile twitched in a smile unconsciously, the situation so reminiscent of when she was a girl and Robert would the same.

 

He took her hands in his and looked up at her.

 

"Izzy, I am sorry. I know it means nothing, but I am so sorry. I know you said we need to work on it and we will. I promise we will. I don't know how I can fix yet, I don't know if it can even be fixed, but I am not asking you to forget it. I am asking you to forgive us, Isabelle."

 

Izzy turned away, blinking the tears away and shaking her head.

 

"It's not about forgiveness, dad." She let his hands go and curls them into fists in her lap. "I've already forgiven you both. But we changed. And I need you prove me that you changed too."

 

Standing up, Robert caressed Izzy's head, putting a stray lock behind her ear.

 

"I promise I will never fail you like I did before, Isabelle."

 

She stood up and threw herself into his arms, suddenly uncaring about the past decade. She missed him, she missed him so much more than she pretended she did in the last ten years.

 

She pulled away and punched him in the shoulder.

 

"Where the fuck were you when I needed you, huh? Where the fuck were you for the past decade, dad..."

 

It was meant to be an accusation, but instead it came as a weak sigh, as Izzy slumped back into the chair.

 

"I was scared, Isabelle. I was scared and hurting, we both were, just like you. And after Max and then Alec too--"

 

Robert didn't notice Izzy's flinch at the mention of Alec.

 

"--I was just terrified for you and Jace. I was just paralysed by fear that it's somehow my fault. That I can't protect my children. Because if I couldn't save Max and Alec, what if something happened to you? And what if it was my fault? I didn't want to bring more pain on the two of you. We thought you would be better off without us. Safer away from us."

 

"We weren't."

 

"I know that now. So now we will be here for you, even if you don't want us anymore."

 

Izzy stood up again, taking her bag and putting it on her shoulder, looking at Robert.

 

"We do. I look forward to you being here, dad. Thank you for this, I'm going to home feeling a lot better now."

 

Robert hugged her one last time, whispering in her ear.

 

"Go get your men. And maybe if all goes well we can meet them one day."

 

"Hopefully."

 

Izzy went home exhausted, but with a genuine smile on her face.

 

***

 

"Hey."

 

"Hey, Jace. Come on in, I'll be ready in a minute."

 

"Izzy talked to you?"

 

Jace leaned against the wall while Alec went to get his bag and a jacket.

 

"The moment she got off the phone with you. She's still ranting to Magnus about something."

 

He grabbed the keys and followed Jace to the car.

 

"And what do you think? About what Izzy said?"

 

Jace eventually asked once they were on the road.

 

"I'm not sure myself. It feels good to know they want to try, that they mourned me, that they changed... But it still hurts, because I have no idea how they would react to finding out. Because what if I'm still not enough? What if they still can't accept that I'm gay?"

 

Alec sighed and Jace stayed silent, unsure what to say.

 

"But I'm glad they're trying. And I think you should let them try."

 

Jace shook his head.

 

"I don't know. I will let them try, but they need to earn their place as my parents back. And they're not getting anywhere near you until I'm sure I can allow it."

 

There was dark fire of determination and fierce protectiveness in Jace's eyes and despite the seriousness in the air, Alec smiled.

 

"Okay, so if we are fine with the parents thing... I mean, I wouldn't say fine. But at least not actively hostile." Alec jumped from his trampoline to Jace's one, knocking the blond on his ass and pinning him down. "Then care to tell me what's eating you?"

 

Jace groaned.

 

"You know, who would have thought jumping can be this much of an exercise. I think I need to go get something drink."

 

He tried to wiggle from under Alec but the taller man wouldn't let him.

 

"Jace." The blonde slumped down, giving up the escape. "Come on. I don't need the bond to see something is on your mind."

 

Jace smiled weakly.

 

"It's nothing, Alec. I know I suck at communication, self esteem, self love, mental health... basically a lot of thing normal people don't really think about -- no don't interrupt me -- but I got better. And you know it. And I'm fine. I'm thinking about something, but it's nothing you need to worry about just yet."

 

"Yet?"

 

Alec's brow furrowed and Jace laughed, but the brunette was pleased to see it was genuine.

 

"Alec, I promise this is nothing bad."

 

"Is this about you planning to quit fieldwork? Have you made your decision yet?"

 

"I... I'm not sure. I want to do it, but I don't know if I want to do this now already. I love being in the field. I love fighting. But I'm also tired, I guess. But that's not just it. Stop being snoopy and go bring the water."

 

Alec rolled his eyes and stood up, but instead of turning to get the water he went onto the platform and jumped at the trampoline Jace was laying on full force, catapulting his brother into the air.

 

"I hate you!"

 

The fact Jace was laughing ruined the message though. He went to grabbed his bottle tossing another to Alec.

 

"I'm not letting it go."

 

"Oh, by the Angel, stop this, stupid parabatai. I'm not telling you. Anyway, how are the boys? Rafe's starting kindergarten soon, isn't he?"

 

Alec narrowed his eyes at Jace, who looked altogether flustered, before his eyes widened in a realisation and he just offered the blonde a raised eyebrow and a smirk as he went to talk about his children.

 

***

 

Isabelle was laying face down on the couch, one hand hanging of and pushing the tiny cars on the floor as Alex made whooshing sounds. She felt guilty. She knew what it was like to be a parent now and she knew she would do everything for Alex...

 

She knew if she felt like herself and Simon were the ones posing danger to him they wouldn't hesitate to leave him in safer hands.

 

She didn't approve of her parents' decision. She approved even less of their choice to stay away so long, and she was completely disappointed in them for not coming for their weddings and to see Alex's birth.

 

But she wanted Alex to have grandparents. His real grandparents. Yes, the Banes were amazing and loved him with all his heart, but her own parents were alive, and she wanted to include them in her son's life.

 

"Hey, babe."

 

She felt a soft kiss on her forehead and smiled, twisting around to look at Simon and drag him in for a Spiderman upside down kiss.

 

"Hello."

 

"Are you okay?" His brow furrowed and she smiled, amazed at how well he could always read her.

 

"I talked to dad today. I don't think it's a good idea to keep holding those grudges. We've lost enough time and after we talked I know he and mom genuinely regret it. I think, maybe..." Simon didn't interrupt her, listening attentively. "I want to give them a chance to have a role in my life again. And I can't do it by avoiding them."

 

She paused, waiting for Simon's reaction and he smiled at her, stopping Alex from chewing on his toy car before turning back to her.

 

"I think you're wonderful for forgiving them and I think you're right. I get it. I'm a parent to. We fuck up, we make wrong decisions, but I'm sure in the end they really love you. They deserve a second chance."

 

Izzy smiled and felt her heart swell with affection, not saying a word, just kissing him in response.

 

"So how are going to do this? Baby steps?"

 

Izzy smirked and shook her head. Now this... this would be a good one.

 

"More like a leap into the unknown. I want them to come meet my baby."

 

***

 

"Raphael, my darling."

 

"I told you not to call me that."

 

"Yes, but that was before you died."

 

Magnus smirked, looking over where the boys were playing, miraculously not making a mess... yet.

 

"You have a lot to make up for, dear. So I'm going to call you what I want. Now!"

 

The excitement in Magnus' voice was enough for Raphael to know he probably wouldn't like this idea.

 

"It was my birthday a while ago, and Alec's is coming up, and we're old pricks turning 30, which is apparently a big deal and you know I don't need much of an excuse to organize a party."

 

Oh. That was not as bad as Raphael expected.

 

"So you're invited. Naturally."

 

"Naturally." His voice might have been mocking, but Raphael was smiling and he knew Magnus could hear it. "So when is it?"

 

"This Saturday. Are you coming alone or do you want to bring someone? I mean, you've been saying something about the aroace thing, but you can always bring a friend or..." Magnus sighed in frustration. "I'm a bisexual guy who loves make up married to a gay angel, why the fuck can't I speak about sexual and romantic orientation without being awkward? I'm so sorry, Raph. I should be a better friend."

 

Raphael laughed, amused and touched, and he knew if his heart was still beating he would be blushing. He looked over to the living room where Maia was going through some magazines after he excused himself to take the call.

 

"Yes. Right. A plus one. See, this is something we need to talk about."

 

A silence met him on the other side of the line and he knew Magnus was listening.

 

"I don't think I am aromantic."

 

It felt weird. Since high school Raphael got used to thinking about himself that way but life had to go and correct his ideas. He smiled weakly as Magnus' faint cursing.

 

"Fuck. I don't think this should be a conversation you are trusting me with on teh phone, I feel like I should be there for you in person, if you just give me an hour to sell the kids to someone and come over..."

 

"Magnus." He interrupted his best friend before he could go, smiling and feeling his heart swell, as inaccurate as the metaphor was, because damn, he missed Magnus, his crazy, dedicated, supportive Magnus.

 

"I don't think that's a good idea."

 

"Do you-- Oh wait. You... Ooooohhhhh." A whistle was deafening and painful through the phone and Raphael moved it away from his ear. "You are with someone, Raph!"

 

Magnus seemed quite sure of his discovery but he still waited for Raphael's confirmation. And well, it wasn't like Raphael could lie now, right? The cat was rather out of the bag.

 

"Okay. Fine. So looks like I'm demiromantic if Google is a trusted source, I am sure I really love Maia because my own feelings don't need a source to tell me it feels way too romantic for an aro, and I officially hate my nosy best friend."

 

"No, you don't. You love me."

 

Raphael sighed.

 

"We will be there and we'll bring two other people if it's fine?"

 

"Sure! The more the merrier. I am really looking forward to it, my darling, and expect me pestering you whole evening. Be there at 6! See ya!"

 

"Yeah, yeah. See you on Saturday. Go take care of your little monsters."

 

Raphael disconnected the call and smiled. He could be a real pain in the ass sometimes (all of the times) but Magnus was really the best friend one could ask for.

 

***

 

alec, magnus and the blonde streaks.

 

"Okay, they're asleep, their doors are locked, the door to our bedroom is locked and the door to the bathroom is locked... We can start now."

 

"You're making this into so much more than it is, Alexander, why would dying my hair be loud--"

 

He didn't finish his sentence, words drowning in the noisy clatter of him dropping the plastic bowl with dying brushes.

 

He glared at Alec's snicker as he went to gather them back up, a blush rising on his cheeks.

 

"That's why. I know you too well to expect something this messy will be quiet."

 

"Oh shush you." Magnus put the stuff in his hands on the vanity, sitting down in front of it with Alec standing behind.

 

He gingerly put the silicone cap on Magnus' hair and started getting strands from underneath it, getting them through the holes out in the open and giggling when his eyes met Magnus' in the mirror.

 

"Don't laugh, Alec! The path to perfection is a rocky one."

 

Alec snorted.

 

"You mean you need to look ridiculous before you look beautiful."

 

Magnus gasped in mock indignation.

 

"Ridiculously adorable, maybe."

 

"Yeah, that too." He kept gently pulling the fringe through the holes in the cap as Magnus mixed the dye. It wasn't the first time Alec helped Magnus put the highlights in, usually before parties or special occasions simply because it took time and patience, but he always loved it.

 

There was a certain sort of... intimacy, in the work.

 

He pulled the hair through the cap and took the gooey dye mixture from Magnus, applying it to the hair and sitting on the washing machine next to Magnus once he was done.

 

They talked softly about everything and nothing, mostly party preparations, as the mixture settled, and then Alec helped Magnus clean the strands and wiggle out of the cap without tugging painfully at the hair before they both stripped and Alec washed Magnus' hair in the bath.

 

Massaging Magnus' scalp with the man practically moaning beneath him after was definitely the best part of the hair dyeing process.

 

Once the highlights were done and the two of them clean and dry, they changed into nightwear and slid under the covers, Alec feeling suddenly unbearably sappy as he brushed a blonde fallen streak from Magnus' forehead.

 

"All prettied up now and ready to say goodbye to the twenties and become old?"

 

Magnus chuckled, nodding into the pillow.

 

"With you, my Alexander, I am ready for anything."

Chapter Text

Magnus smiled at Jace, letting him in and leaving the door unlocked. There were people pouring in constantly, so there was no use locking it when Isabelle would be there any time now and his parents texted they were on their way.

The living room was bursting already, Jem and Tessa talking to Catarina in the corner, the boys running around and Magnus’ friend Audrey, who always got along with Alec better, was standing with her boyfriend James by the window, the only two mundanes on the guest list. His mother and father were fussing in the kitchen, ever distrusting Magnus and Alec, even now that they were both turning thirty.

Raphael would be coming after dusk, his friends and a… girlfriend, that’s what Magnus assumed she was, coming with him. Two of their friends would be coming too, and Magnus was really excited about that. Getting to know Raph’s significant other and meeting more amazing people.

He put the flowers from Clary in one of the last vases on the table, thinking that he would have to start using mugs if any more bouquets came (and they would come). He had Alec join him, hugging and kissing with brother and sister-in-law, accepting the well wishes. They opened the gift together, a simple picture frame with three slots, and inside wedding pictures of them, Jace and Clary and Isabelle and Simon.

He felt breath catch in his lungs, and turned to see his mother behind them, smiling.

“Me and dad helped provide your picture. We thought Jace and Clary had a sweet idea.”

He looked up at the culprits and shook his head.

“Thank you, guys. It’s… amazing.”

“Me and Jace, we just thought… You may want to have some piece of it, the time we didn’t get to share, at least that way.”

“It’s… it’s very thoughtful of you. It’s great.” Jace could practically feel Alec’s gratitude in a way he hadn’t since over 10 years.

“Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.”

***

“Hello, dear. I’m Shara.”

“Lily.” She shook the elderly lady’s hand and smiled. Well, at least the lady seemed alderly to her, but at age of 27 most people seemed elderly to Lily. This must have been Mrs. Bane. Raphael mentioned her at some point.

“Are you enjoying the party?”

“I am.” She said, surprised at how true the words were. “It’s always good to meet new people and your son is a true soul of the party, Shara.”

The woman laughed, and Lily was glad she wasn’t mistaken.

“That he is, my Magnus. I heard you are friend with Raphael, my dear? I knew that boy well back when you were all in school, it’s so good to see he is alive and well.”

“Well, alive may not exactly be the right word…” Lily’s expression fell, gazing at Mrs. Bane to see her reaction, but the woman seemed unfazed.

“Oh, alive or undead, it’s same difference to me. He may not be breathing but he still walk and talks between us. Death didn’t change how grumpy he is either. I missed him. How did you two meet?”

“Me and his girlfriend are friends.” Lily pointed at the other side of the room where Maia was laughing with Bat and little Max. “Me, Maia and Bat are a bit like the golden trio from Harry Potter. Inseparable. We’ve been together since primary school, always there for each other when I thought I’m going crazy because I can see the Shadow World and when Bat and Maia got turned.You could say we come as a package deal.”

She chuckled and Shara did too, and Lily found herself feeling strangely comfortable here. Ahe and Bat came mostly for Maia’s comfort, the girl never feeling comfortable alone in new situations, considering her past. But unlike Bat, Lily didn’t connect with new people so easily.

“You seem to be glancing at that boy a lot, my dear. And teh golden trio had it’s own couple...” Shara nudged.

“Bat?” Lily laughed. “Oh, no! We… we did actually tried dating once. It really didn’t work out. I’m single. He’s single. We’re friends. It got awkward trying to pretend it’s something more.”

“Well, the way you look at him and Maia, I can see it’s more than any friendship. You remind me of Alec and his siblings. You’re family.”

Lily thought about it for a while, watching Bat chase Maia with a shot of questionably coloured lime green alcohol.

“Yeah… Yeah, I guess we are.”

***

“Raphael? Rapha! Raphael, man, I haven’t seen you in forever!”

Raphael grunted as Simon collided with him full force, squeezing what life was left in him after the turning out. He pretended to look disgruntled, but his own body betrayed him and a small smile made its way onto his face unconsciously at the sight of his ex-boyfriend.

He missed Simon.

It was hard to admit it, especially after teh break up, but even if Raphael was happy now with Maia and knew he and Simon weren’t meant to be romantically, he missed Simon as a friend, always cheerful, dorky and ready to fight the permanent rain cloud over Raphael’s head.

If Magnus was Raphael’s best friend, Simon felt like his annoying little brother… except his real brothers weren’t that annoying.

“Where have you been, Raphael?”

Simon threw himself on the sofa next to the vampire, who send Maia a pleading look across the room, only to receive a smirk in return. She gave a clear message she was enjoying it and wouldn’t be coming to his help anytime soon.

“Where have I been? At home. For a good few years, before I got my own apartment. It wasn’t me who disappeared suddenly. So maybe I should be asking where have you been?”

Simon’s face fell and he seemed to be slowly melting into the couch, blush painting his cheeks.

“Ah, yes, right… That’s a funny story, you know… I got mixed up in all the Shadow World mess too. Because turns out, Clary is a Shadowhunter! And turns out her biological father was a psycho, so we had to save the world and I got turned into a vampire too! But then I changed back into mundane but I wouldn’t recommend that because it involved a lot of dead people, a greater demon and memory loss, and somewhere along the way I fell in love and now I am married to the most gorgeous woman on Earth and I have a kid. And you totally need to meet them, Isabelle and Alex are wonderful people...”

Raphael listened intently, shaking his head in wonder. Leave it to Simon to get himself into the middle of the war. He probably wrote a book about it.

“...and now Magnus is helping me establish my own comic business, and I’ll be publishing stories inspired by my own life!”

Raphael couldn’t help it.

He laughed.

***

“Simon, Izzy is looking for… you.”

Clary stood in front of the sofa, looking between Simon and Raphael, tilting her head to teh side like a confused puppy. She raised an eyebrow before finally settling her gaze on the vampire and asking cautiously.

“Raphael?”

“Yes, Miss Fray?”

Raphael smirked. Their dynamics were always weird, his and Clary’s. They were colleagues, went to the same school and class, and Clary being Simon’s best friend and Raphael his boyfriend they had to interact. But truth be told, Simon was the only thing they had in common. Still. They could be called something like tentative friends or at least closer classmates.

Which meant that Clary wouldn’t have been as disconnected as most people were from Raphael’s death. And if the mix of emotions in her eyes was anything to go by, Simon didn’t tell her.

“It’s Mrs. Herondale. And… You were killed, Santiago.”

Raphael’s face fell and he chewed at his lip nervously, showing his fangs. Yes, this was rather awkward.

“But what’s more interesting here… You don’t look too surprised, Lewis.”

If Clary called Simon of all people by his last name, that meant things turned sour. Well, at least it looked  like the focus wouldn’t on him.

“I…”

“You knew.”

It wasn’t a question, and Simon was an awful liar. He wouldn’t be able to deny it even if it was.

“In my defence, we didn’t know about Shadow World at the time.” Simon was bolting across the room before Clary’s glare made him combust and the redhead laughed, falling into the spot Simon vacated.

“God, Raphael, I thought you were dead!”

The vampire found himself drawn into an unexpected hug, awkwardly patting Clary on teh back and pulling away.

“Well, I am… undead , technically.”

“A vampire. Listen, Raphael. I know we were never very close, but I just wanted to say… I’m glad you’re here, Raph. Have fun.”

She left him on the couch, flabbergasted but strangely touched, and went on a hunt for her best soon-to-be-dead friend.

“I wouldn’t want to be Simon right now.”

Raphael twisted around to see a blonde guy hover above him. He extended his hand and smiled at the vampire.

“Jace Herondale. This red viper’s husband. Sorry to be standing over you but I was sent on a mission by the other Rafael to get him a CD. Apparently he and Max are planning something. Alec didn’t seem too worried and Magnus seemed to actually be actively participating, so I agreed.”

Raphael raised an eyebrow.

“How is the fact Magnus is an active participant in this comforting to you? That only gets me more worried.”

He smiled when Jace laughed and kneeled on the couch, turning to the shelf full of music behind it.

“So what are we looking for?”

Jace smirked.

“That’s the best part. Apparently, love songs.”

***

The light went out, only to turn again after a second in a flurry of glittery colours, “Shut up and dance” blasting from the speakers. Bat laughed.

This is their idea of a love song?! After all the beautiful pieces we provided with Jace, they choose this ?!”

Raphael seemed slightly terrified by the prospect.

Bat grabbed his hand and dragged him towards Maia.

“Shut up and dance with her, you grump!”

He walked off in the direction of Lily who was already rocking the floor alone, and Raphael turned red at Maia’s extended hand, but took it.

From where he was dancing with Alec, Magnus smiled at the awkwardness leaving his oldest friend at the hand of a beautiful woman.

His baby grump Raphael was all grown up.

Rafael on the other hand… Well, it was good he fell onto Magnus and not the edge of the table. He laughed, bringing his disoriented son up, and dancing with him in his arms. It was safer.

***

Once Audrey and James went out, a huge light grey wolf went wandering between party guests.

Bat’s absolute love of his animal form and tendency to change whenever he could was frankly peculiar and confusing for someone who only got turned in his twenties, but everyone found it rather adorable.

Despite the tall beast with intimidating posture look, wolf Bat was just as fuzzy as human Bat. He kept lolling his head and nudging the kids gently and curling up on anyone who was near. He was more of an overgrown puppy than a werewolf.

And that was okay.

Despite being new to the group, Bat stolen all the attention quickly with his easy approach, contagious smile and positive energy. It didn’t take long until everyone felt as if they had known him for ages, and they were chatting like old friends.

Bat Velasquez was just too adorable for his own good.

He found his perch in Lily’s lap a while ago, purring as if he was a cat while she scratched behind his ears. They had this easy dynamic of people who knew each other forever, the two of them and Maia truly in sync, a squad like few others. Alec smiled looking at them, thinking about how much they reminded him of him, Jace and Izzy.

By now, the party moved into the garden, and Bat went out with it. The kids were loving his overgrown puppy form, and Bat turned and offered to carry them on their back. Now the was a wolf again, Alex on his back with Max and Rafe patiently waiting for their turn, Alec and Simon keeping a watchful eye on tiniest Lightwood in their bunch.

Magnus found his perch on the terrace steps, watching the scene with Raphael sitting at his side, Maia leaning against her boyfriend.

“You are sappy, my friend.”

Magnus turned to look at Raphael with a smirk.

“You know, darling, no matter how long it took you to realise what you want or form those romantic attachments, you did do it. And I’m sorry to break it to you, grumpy, but you’re just as sappy as me. And for the right reason, because you scored an amazing girl.”

Maia laughed and she and Magnus fist bumped each other while Raphael’s face flooded with pink, despite his body no longer pumping blood.

Raphael did find an amazing girl, and he was sappy, and Magnus smiled, because it looked good on his friend.

***

They got a set of beautiful glasses from Bat and Lily, a cake platter from Mr. and Mrs. Bane and James and Audrey gave them a set of classic movies. Jem and Tessa gifted them a magical protection amulet once the mundanes were gone, and Catarina a pair of silver necklaces with a crescent moon and a sun that fit into it.

“They fit together to form one and symbolise eternal love.”

She smiled as they put them on each other.

But Raphael kept stubbornly refusing to come forward with his and Maia’s gift. He said it is a truly best gift ever and as such deserves proper attention as a main attraction of the party. So even if Catarina shed the glamour long ago and Bat had already changed back between wolf and human several times, even if it was already dark outside and the party half moved into the garden, cheese and meats grilling and basking them all in delicious aromas… Raphael still insisted it wasn’t time yet.

Maia claimed he was overdramatic but found it amusing and refused to give any hints.

Magnus and Alec were crazy with curiosity.

By the time he finally declared he’s getting out to take the gift from the car and bring it in, it was getting late, even if the kids weren’t anywhere near willing to go to sleep just yet.

It was a truly ridiculously dramatic situation. Everyone was sat around the living room, Magnus and Alec on the floor in the middle, with the kids in their laps, eagerly waiting for Raphael to come in through the door.

The silence was heavy with anticipation.

No one knew what to expect when Raphael opened the door again and walked into the living room, but it surely wasn’t the white ball of fluff in his arms as he approached the Lightwood-Bane family, kneeling in front of them on the carpet and gently shifting the kitten from his arms into Max’ lap.

“Who is this little tyke, oh lord, its so tiny…”

Magnus cooed at the kitten and Alec’s eyes were wide with excitement and wonder.

He is your birthday present. I am leaving naming him to you, even if I know it will end in absolute disaster.”

Magnus smiled at his friend, full of joy and love, and Raphael ducked his head, going to join Maia on the sofa.

That night was one of the best nights in the Lightwood-Banes household. It marked the end of the boys' journey through the twenties, opening a new chapter in front of them: thirties, that would be filled with responsibility and trials, but they were ready for it.

because that night marked something incredible - yet another time their not-so-little family gained new members again - in Maia, Bat and Lily… and in a little ball of fluff who would come to be known as Chairman Meow.

 

Chapter Text

 

"Are you ready, honey?"

 

"I still need to take the casserole out of the oven but..."

 

"Iz."

 

She turned around to look at her husband, eyes wide behind her glasses.

 

"I didn't mean the casserole, Isabelle."

 

Simon smiled and took the kitchen cloth from her hand, putting it on teh table and hugging his wife.

 

"I'm having a nervous breakdown, Si."

 

He chuckled lightly, caressing he plaited hair. He loved that she didn't dress up at least, chose to face her parents the way she looks every day at home.

 

"I noticed, Iz. But I'm here. It's going to be alright. You said they're trying and I'm sure Alex is going to win them over in a blink of an eye."

 

He pulled away, putting his hands on her shoulders and looking her deep in the eye.

 

"I promise the moment it goes highwire, I will kick them out of the house myself, I swear. But it's going to be great, I know it."

 

"Thank you... The casserole, Simon!"

 

He laughed, and pushed her out of the kitchen.

 

"It's okay, I will deal with it. Go to Alex. We don't want to poison your parents, as bad as they were."

 

She gave him a stink eye, but didn't comment on it, obediently trudging to the living room to join her son. She was nervous. She was more nervous than she thought she would be, because frankly, she had no idea what her parents were like with children.

 

It was weird, downright bizarre, but she just didn't remember all that much from her childhood and Max was brought up in Idris. She wasn't sure what to expect from her parents meeting Alex, but she was still sure she wanted to do that.

 

Still, when the doorbell rang, she felt utterly and horribly unprepared as she took Alex onto her hip and went to open the door.

 

"Mum. Dad."

 

"Isabelle."

 

A decade might have passed but Izzy still could tell her parents' fake smiles from teh genuine ones and those ones were genuine. Robert's eyes were drinking Alex in with pure and unhidden wonder.

 

"Hello, little guy."

 

Alex giggled and extended his hand, jokingly shaking his grandfather's one. Robert looked like he won a lottery while Maryse seemed ready to burst out crying tears of joy.

 

"Come on in. We have a casserole fresh out of the oven, I bet you didn't eat anything at The Institute."

 

The dinner was less awkward than she thought it would be and she was impressed with her parents' attitude towards Simon. She was shocked to find out they seemed to actually like him. It felt different, the atmosphere, lighter, without the heavy air of The Institute and the memories trapped there. From the safe walls of her own home Izzy could see her mom and dad actually try.

 

Maryse helped her put the dishes in the dishwasher, and Izzy couldn't stop smiling.

 

***

 

"Alex? Alex." Alex ran to his grandfather, climbing into his lap and laying down on his chest, obediently curling up to sleep, his exhaustion betraying him. Izzy was drinking her tea, Maryse sitting in front of her and Robert next to her, Simon's hand on her back, and she felt like she was finally on teh right path.

 

"Alex..." Robert whispered, caressing a tiny head falling asleep on him. "Alexander."

 

Izzy nodded into her tea in a gesture her parents would see as grief but she knew to be guilt.

 

"We called him him Alec when he was little."

 

She could hear the last ten years of her life in the silence that fell.

 

"And why did you change it?"

 

She didn't answer.

 

***

 

"Did you know the new Jeep Compass premiered this year?"

 

Alec groaned.

 

"No."

 

"You don't even know my question yet. I'm just sitting here, innocent, just looking through my automotive magazine and sharing interesting bits with my husband and you just attack me like that, Alexander. I'm wounded."

 

Alec rolled his eyes at him and sat down opposite him, looking at him sweetly.

 

"Innocent? Oh, but you see, I know my husband. I can tell apart casual sharing of more interesting bits and the  I want a new car approach."

 

"Are are getting a new car?!" Max and Rafe ran into the kitchen with shining eyes and excited energy bursting out of them. Alec's eyes widened in fear at their expectant expressions and Magnus just smiled smugly.

 

Truly theirs father's sons, those two were.

 

"No. And be good when I take the old car that does not need to be replaced to my college reunion."

 

It was Magnus' turn to groan. Well, the game was on.

 

***

 

"Alec!" A tiny but fast object--human threw itself onto Alec, almost toppling the man over.

 

"Lydia!" He smiled at the blonde torpedo, hugging her tightly. "It's so good to see you. I can't believe we we didn't keep in touch despite staying in the city."

 

They quickly joined at the hip for the duration of the ceremonies the way they were joined at the hip during university.

 

Or at least their version of joined at the hip which at uni consisted mostly of Alec tolerating her presence and now meant sharing actual conversation. Alec enjoyed it, and didn't realise just how much he missed it. He owed so much to Lydia, his boyfriend's perfect proposal including.

 

"I married. His name was John. I was pregnant, he died, I miscarried... I went through a few very dark years in my life. But I'm okay now. I moved, I think we'll actually be living in the same neighbourhood now!"

 

Alec smiled, unsure how to reply to all the information Lydia told him in teh past hour as they sat hidden in a book of a campus cafe, the same Seelie smiling at Alec from behind the counter.

 

"I'm glad you're fine, Lydia. I'm glad you made it through but I have no doubt that if anyone can take whatever life throws at them it's you. Who knows, maybe you'll find love again."

 

Lydia sighed dreamily, propping her chin on her hands.

 

"I miss John but I think I'm ready for that. To enter the dating scene again. Maybe I will find the kind of love I had with John again." After a though, she smirked and added. "The kind of love you and Magnus have. How are you two? I haven't seen him since teh wedding!"

 

Alec blushed, the way he always did when someone brought up the early days of his relationship with Magnus. He still couldn't believe that the best thing in his life would have never happened if not for the tragedy the deruning was.

 

"Two kids and a cat and Magnus is bugging me for a new car. We've become that married couple."

 

"And you're loving it, admit it."

 

"Yeah... Yeah, I am. You have to come over sometime. You can tell my kids the embarrassing story of how you didn't get to sleep at night because you had to save my relationship."

 

Lydia laughed, loud and carefree, and Alec felt all warm. He missed this easy kind of friendship that brought once-strangers together. He missed Lydia.

 

And he missed filming...

 

***

 

The old Seat Leon is a car with history. It's a car that had seen a lot and been through a lot and sue him, but Alec loves it. It was the car that Alec drove Max around in when he couldn't sleep and only driving could calm him down, a weird but adorable quirk.

 

The old Seat Leon was the car he and Magnus might have had sex in one memorable night after a date.

 

The old Seat Leon was not that old but it had been regularly abused by two little boys, drove countless miles between their house and Magnus' work but also took them to different states for holidays and that one time on a roadtrip through teh whole country, following the famous Route 66.

 

And now good old Leon was misbehaving.

 

It was weird, because good old Leon wasn't actually old. Magnus and Alec got him barely four years ago, right before adopting Rafael. Good old Leon didn't need to be replaced yet.

 

But he didn't understand why else the car would be taking so slow to react?

 

Maybe good old Leon needs to go.

 

Somehow, it didn't occur to him that it could be his own reflexes, and it was only once he was back home and falling asleep that he noticed the strange anxiety once it started to ebb away....

 

***

 

"You've barely eaten anything. That's unlike you."

 

"I've been... stressed. I need to talk to you about something."

 

He decided to take Clary out on a date to a fancy restaurant, like they haven't gotten a chance to in a long while, but he forgot how nerves always kill his appetite.

 

"It's nothing bad, I hope?"

 

She chuckled, but it was humourless and fake, and Jace couldn't blame her considering all the shit he dragged her through in the past. Fact, getting possessed by your evil not brother or kidnapped by your abusive not father, or you know, dying, weren't exactly his fault but not exactly being forthcoming about it was.

 

He still hadn't told Alec about that last one. Some things were just better left unsaid.

 

"No, it's... How's work?"

 

Clary's eyes narrowed in suspicion and Jace felt himself blush.

 

"Are you trying to change the topic?"

 

He sighed and quickly bit the fry he's been holding, not realising he'd been drawing hearts in the garlic sauce.

 

"No, I swear, it's not it. I'm genuinely asking. It's related. I mean... You don't seem to miss fieldwork."

 

"I don't." She smiled. "I thought I would but I'm still getting exercise and the thrill of the fight, just without the demons and the danger. But..." It was a wild guess but Clary knew Jace well enough to sense what this was about. "...I guess that's not the kind of thrill that would be suitable for you."

 

He met her eyes briefly, brow furrowed and guilt in his eyes.

 

"Do you want to quick too, Jace?"

 

He leaned against his and wondered himself.

 

"I do. But the thing is... Not yet. I know I want to quit, leave fieldwork behind, leave the danger and uncertainty... And be able to start a normal family with you, where you don't have to worry if I come back home or if it's my dead body dragged back. But I can't do this until I know for sure, Clary. I need to be sure of someone who will take my place, I need to know what I want to do after I quit."

 

"And you don't."

 

"I don't. Not really. I know why I want to quit and what I want after, but now what I want to do. I don't know what other job is there for me, I've only ever been a soldier."

 

"Jace..."

 

This time when Clary smiled it was all soft angel and bright joy. Jace found himself drawn to her, leaning closer and letting their foreheads brush over the table.

 

"...I know you've  been through so much, angel, but I'm not worried about that. You're so much more than a soldier, Jace, and we're going to figure out what's your true calling, okay? Together."

 

"Together."

 

He let her lips brush his and felt himself melt.

 

He's learned a lot  in the past two decades, from being loved to loving himself. But he also learned that after everything he's been through he deserved that happiness. It took time to get where he was, without death breathing on his neck during everyday work, without half of his soul missing, without his childhood's ghost haunting him.

 

He had Clary now, and he had Alec back, and he was ready to find a new purpose for himself.

 

Chapter Text

I'm sorry to inform you, but with the amount if university workload I have, NaNoWriMo nearing and two other fanfiction projects that I am co-writing with a friend, combined with the fact the prolongued hiatus means I don't need to worry about finishing before the premiere, this fic is going on hiatus until the New Year. See you then!