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Masters of War

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Alec and Magnus had liked each other for about an hour before they started hating each other. They had met for the first time at Magnus’ flat in Brooklyn. Jace had forced Alec to come with him to a party so that he could see Clary. At the time, what would blossom into a loving relationship was nothing but a crush. Jace had met the redhead he couldn’t stop talking about a week prior, in a small coffee shop in Brooklyn and he had not shut up about it since then. Alec would have never admitted it but he was kind of curious to see what she looked like and what was so special about her to make his adoptive brother so smitten already. Isabelle was coming too but unlike her older brother, no one had to drag her to go to a party. She was always willing.

So that was how Alec found himself lost into a crowd of too many people, having lost sight of both his brother and sister. He hated it, the proximity with so many people, the loud music, and yet the feeling of being utterly alone in the middle of it all. He almost couldn’t hide his sigh of relief when a hand caught his arm and he turned to find Jace looking at him.

“Come on!” he yelled to cover the music. “I want to introduce you!”

He followed him sheepishly, trying his best not to touch anyone while they were crossing the living room that had been turned into a dance floor. Finally, they stopped in front of a group of people laughing loudly. Isabelle was already here, a drink in her hand that Alec eyed suspiciously.

“There you are!” she exclaimed enthusiastically.

She was already drunk. He rolled his eyes and grabbed her drink, swallowing the whole thing before she could snatch it back.

“This is Clary!” Jace said before they could start arguing about it, pointing to the redhead girl. She was pretty with big laughing green eyes and a carefree smile that seemed as natural as breathing. She held her hand out and he shook it with a smile. There was something fierce about her, a strength evident in her posture.

“Nice to meet you”, she said and he returned the sentiment with a simple nod. “This is Simon, my best friend," she added, pointing to the browned-hair geeky guy next to her, “and this is Magnus, my – “

She cut herself off, as though she didn’t really know how to introduce him.

“I’m her guardian angel," Magnus helpfully filled in with a grin, holding out his hand too.

Alec shook it as well but couldn’t really listen to a word that came after that. Magnus was tall, slightly taller than himself which was uncommon enough to be noticed. Even in the dim lights that were supposed to make the place look like a nightclub, he could see his eyes, his unusual, amazing, beautiful eyes. He wouldn’t have been able to say if they were green or yellow so he decided with a mixture of both, and contrasted deeply with his glittery black hair. For a slight second, Alec had the flying thought that if he ever had to prove that magic actually existed, Magnus would be a perfect example. It was impossible to be that attractive without magic, he concluded to himself. He was grateful for the darkness when he felt the blush growing on his cheeks as Magnus caught him staring. He could see his lips moving but he couldn’t hear a word he was saying, too engrossed in his eyes. His lips were nice too, though.

“Alec! His name is Alec!” Isabelle obligingly put in, bringing him back to Earth.

“Lovely to meet you, Alec,” Magnus mused, obviously amused.

He didn’t answer, afraid he would stammer like he often did in front of too attractive men.

That was the last civilized conversation they ever had, Clary and Jace would often say jokingly. For from this day on, you could rarely have them both in the same room without them jumping at each other’s throat.

They went to sit on the couch and their odd little group stayed there for a long time, getting to know one another, laughing, talking, and somehow becoming friends.

.

They fought about everything.

They fought for the best seat when they went to a club or a bar. They fought about who their favorite Avenger was (Alec couldn’t understand how anyone could think Captain America was dull). They fought about what to eat when they were having a quiet night in all together, usually in Magnus’ flat. Alec was always there, because where Jace and Isabelle went, he went too but he always grumbled for hours before he actually tagged along. They fought about best ice cream flavors or their favorite season of the year. There was even a time that was never to talk about where they had argued for hours, in front of the eyes of their astounded friends, because Alec claimed that Romeo and Juliet were both really stupid while Magnus tried to explain to him why it was romantic. They still fought about it sometimes.

They even managed to fight about whether you were supposed to break spaghetti noodles in half before cooking them. Magnus had won that one.

But they also fought about serious topics that had settled their profound dislike of each other. Their first argument had been on the evening of their meeting. They had both been a little drunk but they remembered it vividly the next day and there was no sense of shame out of it, only an anger that could not be tamed.

It wasn’t really that Magnus had outed him per se but it sure felt that way at the time. They had been chatting together in a corner while Jace and Clary were dancing together a bit further and Simon and Isabelle were too busy having a shot contest to pay attention to them when a young woman with dark skin and curly wild hair came over, a shining grin illuminating her face. She had bended over, exposing her revealing cleavage to Alec who didn’t have a chance (or the choice) to look away.

“Hello handsome, wanna dance?” she had murmured.

Well, at least, she had tried very hard to make it sound like a seductive whisper but with the music still blasting in the apartment, it was actually quite loud. Alec had paled and held his breath for a second. He wasn’t used to being the center of attention, especially when Jace was in the room or when he was seating next to someone as charismatic as Magnus. He had been about to answer when he had been interrupted.

“Oh, darling," Magnus had said with a wink to the girl, “I really don’t think you’re his type, if you know what I mean.”

Deep down, Alec knew that Magnus had been trying to help. He hadn’t even pronounced the word gay but it was clearly implied. He had seen him struggling to form a proper rejection, something firm but not unkind so he had thought he could intervene and speak for Alec. That was his first mistake.

The second one was that he had just outed Alec. Alec, who was still trying to figure out a way to tell his family and friends that he was gay without being disowned by his parents. Alec, who was deeply ashamed of being what he was, because he had been raised with the idea that being what he was was abnormal at best, an abomination at worst. Alec, who was trying so hard to hide the truth, only to find out right this moment that he was doing a very poor job at it.

Of course, Magnus didn’t know that. For him, the flamboyant bisexual – he had come out to Alec, Jace and Isabelle in about the first ten minutes he had known them – his sexual orientation was uncomplicated and trouble-free. Alec knew very well he was being excessive but he had panicked at the idea of Jace overhearing – Isabelle already had an idea and had been dropping hints about it here and there. 

“I can speak for myself," he had snapped, “and who are you to say what my type is?” He had spat out the word as an insult and judging by the startled look on Magnus’ face, it had the required effect.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to presume,” he replied calmly.

“Yeah, well next time, just don’t. Just because you’d fuck anyone doesn’t mean everyone would,” Alec had answered coldly, regretting it almost instantly.

He knew he was being ridiculous, he just couldn’t stop himself. There was an irrational fear growing in him that if one more person knew about his secret, soon everyone would and he wasn’t ready. At the time, he didn’t know if he ever would be.

Magnus had narrowed his yellow-green eyes and Alec had understood right then that he had gone too far. There was something strange about seeing such a handsome face twist with anger. Suddenly, his eyes had lost their light and seemed almost black. He had squared his jaw, ran his tongue on his teeth and taken a deep breath but the anger had remained and, in that moment, he had looked much older than he truly was.

“Being closeted doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole, Alexander.”

This had resulted in a fight that had been both violent and absurd. In retrospect, Alec knew he had overreacted and that he had snapped at Magnus because he was scared but also because he was jealous, not that he would ever admit it. He was jealous of Magnus, who could be himself without pondering on the consequences, who could flirt with a boy (or a girl, he had been very clear about that) in front of his friends. Magnus, who was braver than Alec had ever been.

.

This had been the start of it all. Five years later, a lot had changed.

Alec had come out a year later and even if it had been very hard, especially with his parents, things had settled down eventually and his father had stopped looking at him as if he had grown a second head. Now, he just didn’t really look at him anymore. At all. It had been hard but he was grateful he had finally done it. Jace and Isabelle had been extremely supportive, which had softened the blow from his parents’ reluctance.

Simon and Isabelle had been dating for quite some time now and as long as his sister was happy, Alec didn’t care that the guy was the geekiest, most annoying person he had ever met – right after Magnus. He actually liked Simon, not that he would ever have voiced it aloud. Alec had also finished college and had started teaching that year, which he was very excited about.

Alec had naively thought that after being together for five years, Jace and Clary would have stopped being sickeningly in love. He had been wrong. They were always wrapped up in each other, always whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ear, always sneaking out during family dinners or nights out with friends to make out in a corner. Alec couldn’t have been happier for them.

“I can't believe you just said that! This is wrong on so many levels!” Magnus was yelling when Jace and Clary entered his apartment.

Much had changed in five years but some things never did.

They spared him a look. He was standing in his living room, pointing an accusatory finger at Alec, who was standing too, his blue eyes narrowed with anger. Simon was sitting on the couch, looking at them fighting with a small smile on his face, seemingly thoroughly enjoying himself. Clary wondered if he had already finished his popcorn. It was a joke between them. Whenever they were meeting and Alec and Magnus would both be there, they brought popcorn with them, knowing that they would be graced with a show sooner or later.

“What are they fighting about this time?” Jace inquired while taking off his jacket, revealing his tattooed arms. Clary caught herself staring, before turning her attention back to Simon.

“You’re full of shit!” Alec announced vehemently. “Gandalf the White is badass, he would totally win! He killed a freaking Balrog, for fuck’s sake!”

Alec didn’t swear much but when fighting with Magnus, he always had quite the filthy mouth.

“They are fighting about who would win in a fight between Gandalf and Dumbledore,” Simon informed them not even trying to disguise the hilarity in his voice.

“Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort was afraid of!” Magnus yelled back. “And he had the Elder Wand!”

Alec was about to answer but Jace interrupted them by clearing his throat.

“Not that this is not very interesting but we didn’t ask to meet you here so you could fight about Gandalf and Dumbledore,” he said calmly, before unhelpfully adding, “Gandalf would totally win anyway!”

“Ha-ha!” Alec exclaimed, turning a victorious look toward Magnus who seemed to be on the edge of exploding, “Told you.”

Before the fight could start again, Isabelle came into the room and made her way to the couch, sitting next to Simon who put an arm around her and pressed a kiss to her cheek.

“So,” she said in a stiff voice, abruptly cutting off all attempt at restarting the argument – Clary was very grateful – “why are we here? What’s the big news?”

Alec knew Jace was nothing if not a drama queen. Even when they were kids, he would make up impossibly complicated stories to justify to their parents whatever stupid thing he had done. He liked to establish a certain apprehension in an audience before he actually spoke. Alec could see in his smirk that that was exactly what he was going for today.

“So –“ he started, but was rudely interrupted by Clary who couldn’t help but yell excitingly, “We’re getting married!”, before shoving her hand in their faces, showing them the ring on her finger. “Sorry,” she added, turning to smile sheepishly at her fiancé.

Jace rolled his eyes and shrugged, an endeared smile on his lips.

Isabelle reacted first, jumping to her feet while shrieking excitedly, clapping her hands enthusiastically. She hugged Clary then threw herself at Jace to embrace him as well. Simon quickly did the same, and Alec and Magnus soon followed. The room was quickly filled with congratulations, laughter and pure joy.

Alec caught Magnus’ eyes while Isabelle was gushing over the ring, crowned by a beautiful emerald and Simon was trying to give the “you better treat her right” speech at Jace who couldn’t help but snort. They looked at each other quietly for a while, both smiling stupidly at their friends’ happiness and Alec couldn’t feel the slightest ounce of anger when Magnus winked at him without any mockery.

.

“I don’t approve,” Alec exclaimed when Jace picked up the phone.

“Hello Alec. I’m good, thank you, and yourself?”

“Marvelous,” Alec replied, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in his voice. “I just got a text from Magnus!”

“Wonderful,” Jace said on the same tone, “and how is that any of my concern? I don’t want to know if it was sexting. Like I really, really don’t want to know about your sex life!”

“M-My sex life? With M-Magnus?” Alec stammered, opening his free arm in an astonished gesture that Jace couldn’t see. “I have no sex life with Magnus! I can’t stand him!”

“Well, you know what they say about hate. Deep down, it’s just sexual frustration,” Jace snickered.

“No one says that!” Alec tried to think about how Jace could have drawn this conclusion but he had a terrible feeling about where this thread of thoughts would lead him so he shook his head, trying to clear his mind.

“Well, I do and you know I’m always right! Anyway, why were you calling me if not to tell me how much you want to ravish Magnus?”

Alec was too stunned to actually blush. “I don’t want to –“ he started but cut himself off, “Never mind. He texted me asking me to meet him this afternoon at Alton Lane to try on my suit for the wedding. Why is Magnus asking me to go with him to try on my suit?”

“Because he’s organizing the wedding. Which means he gets to pick your suit?” There was an almost bored edge in his tone that seemed to imply that Alec should have known that already.

“What?”

“Magnus is organizing the wedding,” Jace repeated matter-of-factly. “You know: flower arrangements, location, dresses, suits, stuff like that.”

“What didn’t you tell me before I agreed to be your best man?” Alec exclaimed. He really wished he could have traded his brother for a more thoughtful, less stubborn one. Also, preferably one who wasn’t getting married to one of Magnus’ friends.

“Would it have changed your answer?” He didn’t know if he was imagining it but Alec could have sworn it was hurt he heard in his brother’s voice.

He bit on his bottom lip, scratching at his brow nervously. “Of course not,” he sighed.

“Great!" Jace exclaimed cheerfully. "So stop whining and go try your suit on!”

He had totally been faking the hurt tone. Alec hated him.

“If it has any glitter on it, I’m going to slowly kill you," he warned him. "Then I will resuscitate you so I can kill you again.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Jace quipped and he could hear the smirk in his self-satisfied voice. “Gotta go, I’ll see you tonight?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Alec replied, still sulking.

“And Alec?”

“Yeah?”

“Behave!”

Alec’s reply was so crude that Jace burst into laughter before promptly hanging up. He was definitely going to kill him.

.

When he got to Alton Lane, Magnus was already there, slouched in one of the couches with a glass of champagne in his hand, somehow transpiring grace as he chatted with one of the tailor, a tall man with grey hair carefully combed on the side and black eyes. The man seemed charmed. Maybe Alec understood him a little bit.

Magnus was wearing tight black jeans that made him look even taller and a shirt with big white hearts all over it that Alec was pretty sure he had seen in the woman section of whatever store Isabelle had dragged him to last time he had gone shopping with her. His sleeves were pushed up and Alec caught himself staring at the veins of his forearms while Magnus was animatedly moving his hands like he always did when he was talking about something he was passionate about. There was a spark in his amber eyes too and he was smiling a smile that Alec had only ever seen addressed to him the first time he had met him when he was introducing himself.

Deep down, Alec knew Magnus wasn’t a bad person. He was actually very far from being a bad person.

In the five years he had known Magnus, he had learnt who he was, where he came from. He knew he had been adopted when he was eight because his biological parents had died in an earthquake, leaving him an orphan. The man who had adopted him, whose only thing he knew about was that his last name had been Bane, was very wealthy and Magnus had inherited everything when his adoptive father had died too when he was only seventeen.

That was about that time that Magnus had met Luke, Clary’s stepfather. He didn’t know what had happened exactly but Clary always said that Luke had helped Magnus when he had been crushed by the weight of too many losses and not enough happiness in his life. Alec couldn’t imagine Magnus being unhappy. He was always so joyful, his spirits lighting up the mood in any room he stepped in.

From what Alec knew, Magnus had felt the need to pay back for the help once he had started to feel better. Luke and Jocelyn, Clary’s mother, had refused his money so he had found another way to help them out when they went through rough times themselves, by buying some of Jocelyn’s paintings, paintings which still filled his apartment in Brooklyn. From then on, he had always been a part of their weird fabricated family. He wasn’t by blood but Alec knew that he was in every other way like a brother to Clary, just like Simon was. Alec knew better than anyone else that sharing the same blood didn’t necessarily mean being family and the Fray-Garroway-Bane family was a great example of it.

He knew Magnus had had a rough life, and coming from money didn’t mean he looked down on other people. He was always kind – well, not to Alec but Alec wasn’t exactly kind to him either – and thoughtful. He always had small attentions for the people he cared about, sometimes not so small if the necklace he had given Isabelle for her birthday was anything to go by. He was also braver than Alec thought he would be if he had endured what Magnus had had to endure.

Being so caring and loving was not a foolish thing to be, in Alec’s opinion, in a cruel world. Magnus saw the cruelty of the world but decided to be compassionate and kindhearted. There was a strength in him that Alec saw clearly, even hidden through layers of glitter and fancy clothes.

If he hadn’t been so damn infuriating, Alec would have liked to call him a friend.

“Alexander! Finally!”

Magnus’s voice shook him out of his thoughts. He blinked, focusing on the man in front of him.

“You’re late,” he admonished him, examining with a disapproving look the grey sweater he was wearing.

Alec rolled his eyes but stepped forward, stopping in front of the couch. The grey-haired man standing next to it held him a glass of champagne that he was almost tempted to knock back immediately.

“This is Charles,” Magnus said, “my tailor.”

Of course he had a tailor, Alec thought, rolling his eyes.

“Come, I’ve selected a suit for you, you should try it on.”

Alec didn’t reply but nodded, grabbing the suit and stepping into the fitting room. He had to admit it wasn’t as bad as he had expected it to be. It was a dark grey sharp-looking suit, slightly too tight for his broad shoulders but he was sure it was nothing Charles couldn’t make well-fitting. There was a navy blue tie as well and Alec found himself struggling to put it on so he just stepped out of the fitting room. Magnus raised from the couch, scanning him from head to toe with a critical eye. Alec suddenly felt very naked while the taller man circled him like a lion would his prey, scrutinizing every detail.

“Where’s the tie?” he simply inquired after a while.

Alec pointed to the fitting room and a second later, Magnus was in front of him, holding the demonic piece of cloth.

“I-I couldn’t –“

He didn’t finish his sentence, unwilling to admit to his nemesis that he couldn’t even put a freaking tie on.

Magnus rolled his eyes but stepped forward, sliding the fabric around Alec’s neck. He had never been that close to Magnus before, not since that first night when they had been leaning toward each other to talk until everything had turned messy. He didn’t have any other choice but to gaze straight at Magnus, who wasn’t looking at him but instead focusing on his fingers working expertly around his neck. It seemed to last forever but finally, Magnus stepped away and Alec felt himself release a breath he hadn’t known he had been holding. He hoped he hadn’t been too obvious about it.

“There,” Magnus said, unceremoniously manhandling Alec so that he was facing the mirror on their left. Alec had to admit he looked… well, quite handsome, he supposed. Magnus was still holding his shoulders and their eyes met in their reflection, oddly calm and relaxed, which were usually words that couldn’t apply when they were together in the same room.

Alec cleared his throat, fighting the urge to play with his sleeves, a nervous habit he had always been exempt from around Magnus because he was too annoyed to be edgy. That seemed to bring Magnus back from whatever dreamland he was in too because he finally stepped back, letting Charles approach so he could work his magic.

Of course, it had been too good to be true. Their suit-fitting trip had evidently ended with them arguing when Alec made a snarky comment about Magnus organizing the wedding because he didn’t have anything better to do with his days. It had been mean and completely gratuitous but it was more familiar than the drawn-out gazes and the quiet peace that the shop had enveloped them in.

“You are so infuriating!” Magnus exclaimed, dismissing Charles with a wave before he could witness bloodshed.

“Me? Have you met yourself?” Alec hissed back, turning around to face him. A needle jabbed his ankle but he didn’t flinch, refusing to give Magnus the satisfaction.

“Yes, I happen to be quite exquisite when I don’t have someone hurling insults at me constantly!” Magnus muttered back darkly. His startling eyes were full of anger and hurt. “I get it, Alexander –“

“Stop calling me Alexander!" he protested. "It’s Alec.”

“I get it, Alexander,” Magnus repeated viciously as if he hadn’t been interrupted, purposely putting accent on the word. “You hate me. Fine. But can you hate me quietly? Do you have to be jumping at my throat all the time? It’s getting exhausting.”

He did seem tired, Alec thought to himself, but not as if he hadn’t been sleeping properly, more like if he was caring a heavy weight on his shoulders and he was about to give up and faint. Alec was surprised to find himself firmly hostile to the idea of Magnus backing down from their regular altercations. He was so accustomed to them, it had become a part of his life, of himself.

“What exactly is your problem with me?” Magnus added more quietly, his amber eyes burning with anger.

Alec did not give himself the time to think about that one. “My problem with you?" he blurted out, exasperated. "Don’t act like I’m the only one at fault here! You’re not better than I am. You’re always fighting me on everything, even when you know damn well that I’m right. We both have a problem with each other. We’ve never liked each other and it’s probably never going to change. We see each other because we share the same friends! That’s it. I guess we’re just the kind of people who can’t get along with each other.”

“It’s more than that and you know it,” Magnus groaned in frustration and put his hands up to cover his face, releasing a deep sigh. “I get along with everyone –“

“Yeah, I’m well aware that you get along with everyone, Bane. We’re all well aware of it. I’m just not everyone.” There was poison in his voice that surprised even himself.

Magnus sighed again, opened his mouth to reply but seemed to think better of it and closed it again, keeping it shut. Instead, he just stood there, glaring at Alec who was scowling right back. The silence stretched for a while but none of them looked away, breathing hard. Finally, Magnus pinched his nose and closed his eyes, sliding a hand in his gravity-defying hair.

“Listen, Alec, we do have the same friends. And two of these friends are getting married. A wedding that, even if you hate it, I am organizing. I love Clary with all my heart and I want this day to be unforgettable for her and everyone present because it will be magical. I don’t want it to be unforgettable because the best man and the wedding planner killed each other during the ceremony.”

That would be unforgettable, Alec pondered to himself.

“I love Clary and I know you love Jace and you want this day to be perfect just as much as I do so could we please stop fighting for once and combine our efforts to make this wedding the best wedding ever?”

Alec took some time to take it all in and tried to ignore the hopeful spark he could see in Magnus’ green eyes – they were definitely green today. He knew Magnus was right, he knew it but he also felt that if he gave him the truce he was asking for, he would open a door that could come back smashing to his face full force.

“Okay,” he found himself saying, hating that he had to admit it. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

He wondered how long it would take before he regretted it.

.

It turned out it was one week but not for the reasons he had expected. It was Saturday and they usually all met up at Magnus’ on Saturdays to have lunch.

They were indeed having lunch but with the wedding coming, their lunch date had turned into a wedding planning date. Alec felt quite ambushed and, sparing a glance at Simon on his right, he could see he was not the only one. They were currently discussing seating arrangements and it was much more difficult than it ought to be. It turned out it wasn’t just Alec and Magnus, people tended to dislike each other quite frequently.

“So, if I put Raphael here,” Magnus was saying, pointing at one of the circles on the huge map he had drawn. At the top, it said in big purple glittery letters Clary and Jace’s wedding, then seating arrangements but it had been crossed out by Magnus himself and replaced with pain in the ass.

“You can’t,” Alec remarked. “He’s literally one table away from Alaric and they can’t stand each other.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Magnus acknowledged with a frown that, for once, had nothing to do with the blue-eyed man and everything to do with the conundrum at hand. “Thanks, Alec.”

Alec gave him a small smile and went to lean back on the map, trying to figure out where to sit Raphael when he realized something weird was happening. Magnus seemed to get the same feeling because he sensed him tense next to him. They both looked up at the same time, only to be met by the astonished faces of their friends.

Alec turned to look at Magnus and raised a questioning eyebrow that the other man answered by a confused shrug. He turned back to the muted group.

“What?” he finally snapped, starting to get uncomfortable with the staring.

Jace was the first one to recover the ability to speak. “What just happened?”

“What are you talking about?” Alec asked irritably.

“He means the two of you,” Isabelle added unhelpfully, gesturing between Magnus and him with a graceful wave.

“What about the two of us?” Magnus chimed in. “Can you all stop being so cryptic?”

“You just had a civilized conversation,” Clary finally beamed. She pointed at Magnus, “You thanked him,” and then turned to Alec, “and you smiled at him!”

On principle, Alec would have denied the whole thing, but he did have witnesses. It was not such a big deal anyway. Magnus and he had decided for a truce while the wedding was planned and they had both been holding their part. It was easier than Alec would have thought.

The silence seemed to stretch, even heavier than it had been before he had snapped when they had all suddenly been quiet. Alec felt like an insect under a microscope being scrutinized for his deepest secrets to be put to light. He hated it.

“Oh my God!” Izzy finally burst out. “I so won! Give me the money!”

That did nothing to appease Alec’s confusion. Nor did the fact that all of a sudden, Jace, Clary and Simon were grumbling and looking into their pockets for notes to put in Isabelle’s outstretched hand.

“Wait until I see Jocelyn and Luke! They totally owe me money too!” she marveled, holding the dollar bills with a triumphal smile.

“Okay, stop!” Alec exclaimed. “What is happening?”

“I won the bet!” his sister pointlessly answered, as if it was completely obvious that he should know what she was talking about.

“What bet?” Magnus and Alec exclaimed together, sharing a confused look because they turned back to their friends.

Jace tried to stop her, probably anticipating better than her what would happen next but he was too slow and Isabelle too excited to be stopped. “We bet on when you two would finally sleep together!” she giggled. She actually had the nerves to giggle.

“You did what?” Alec yelled, narrowing his blue eyes and that seemed to sober her up immediately.

Magnus stepped in before he could go on. He had been on the receiving end of that same look enough times to know Alec was about to start yelling for a long time and very loudly.

“Okay,” he said in the most neutral tone he could conjure, but his blood was boiling too. “First of all, we did not sleep together so you can give them their money back.”

Isabelle was about to protest but Jace, Clary and Simon were already snatching their money back and there was nothing she could do. She pouted but stopped when she glanced back at her brother, who was standing next to Magnus with his arms crossed, murder in his eyes.

“Secondly,” Magnus continued gravely, ignoring their childish behavior, “you have absolutely no right whatsoever to speculate about our personal lives.” He turned to Clary and Jace, pointing a warning finger at them. “How would you feel if we were to bet on how long your marriage is going to last?”

They didn’t answer but suddenly seemed to think that their shoes were very interesting, shifting from one foot to another.

“And finally,” he went on, “why would you bet on something like that? We can’t stand each other! Alec and I decided to make an effort for your wedding, because we want it to be perfect because we love you both,” Jace and Clary looked even more ashamed, “but it doesn’t mean that we suddenly adore each other. We are just being polite.”

“Oh please!” Simon snorted.

Alec and Magnus turned towards him in a same movement. He was glancing at them with deep brown eyes and he seemed anything but convinced by Magnus’ little speech. He pointed at the two of them but soon gave up whatever argument he was about to form when Alec stepped forward, still visibly on edge, a deep frown on his face. Simon just stared up at the ceiling and mumbled something like “oblivious idiots” and “sexual tension”, desperation lingering in his every movements.

It only served to make Alec tense even more.

He looked very disappointed, and when Jace tried to reach out to him, he stopped him with a burning glare, his blue eyes shining with untamed fury.

“We’re sorry about the bet,” Clary said eventually. “Really. We obviously didn’t think it through.”

Alec scoffed out a humorless chuckle. “Understatement of the year,” he snapped and paused for a second. “You know what?” he added coldly, pointing at the four of them. “Screw you. In fact, screw all of this,” he added gesturing toward the seating arrangements map. He grabbed his jacket and his helmet and got out of Magnus’ apartment, slamming the door behind him.

It was Jace who found him a couple of hours later, sitting on his favorite bench in Prospect Park, three blocks away from Magnus’ place. He didn't seem to be angry anymore so the blonde didn't hesitate when he sat next to him. Alec refused to acknowledge him.

Okay, so maybe he was still slightly angry.

“We’re really sorry,” Jace said genuinely.

Alec took a deep breath. “I know.”

And it was settled.

.

Alec had to admit that Charles had outdone himself. The suit was perfect, flawlessly hugging his shoulders and his waist. Magnus was looking at him from his spot on the couch and he could have sworn he had seen approval in his gaze.

“Looks perfect,” he simply said, still staring.

He stood up and went to fetch something from the browned-leather shoulder bag that he had discarded in a corner, taking a purple velvet box out of it. He threw it to Alec who caught it as gracefully as he could before opening it. The box held a pair of silver cufflinks, where the letters J and C were skillfully engraved. He raised an eyebrow, a question in his eyes as he looked back up at Magnus.

“The Magnus touch,” he explained with a smile, almost shy.

As much as it pained him to acknowledge it, Alec could only admit that Magnus had really put all of his heart in planning the wedding. It was not much of a surprise but Alec was amazed by the lengths of his thoughtfulness. He let Charles put the cufflinks on before turning back to the mirror. It was perfect.

“Thank you Magnus,” he said sincerely, finally finding his voice. The name sounded foreign on his tongue, he usually called him either by his last name or more colorful words. “For everything you’ve done for the wedding. It's all... great.”

He tried to ignore the surprised look on Magnus’ face, although he could understand it. They had never been on the best of terms and it was probably the first time that he complimented the other man without a hint of sarcasm in his voice. It surprised even himself.

“Well, I do love these two love-sick puppies,” Magnus said, dismissing the kind words with an exaggerated wave, but the fond look on his face made it sound more like a praise than a joke. “Now, stop being so nice or I’m going to start thinking you don’t hate me after all.”

Alec paused at that, turning back to face Magnus. There was a barely disguised vulnerability in his open expression, a glimpse of hope in his ever so green eyes. Alec had to hold his breath for a second. He had never seen that side of the man before.

“I don’t hate you,” he stated, as if it was not the big confession it actually was, trying to make it sound casual but failing miserably. “I’ve never hated you.”

“I know.”

Magnus’s smile was tight, but sincere.

.

Alec was drunk. Very, very drunk.

There was a week left before the wedding and it was Saturday so they had all gathered at Magnus’ apartment for lunch for the last “no one is married” meeting of the sort.

Tonight was Jace’s bachelor party while Clary’s own party was the next day. They had gone to a club in Manhattan where Magnus was a regular customer and that Jace particularly liked too. Alec hated it. The music was too loud, the sweaty bodies entangled together on the dance floor too numerous but it was his brother’s bachelor party so he was doing his best not to be grumpy about it.

Consequently, he had drunk pretty much anything he could get his hands on. It was working wonders. He was sitting on the couch in the private corner that Magnus had probably paid a fortune for, looking at the dance floor where Jace was happily swinging to the music, a drink in his hand and a big goofy smile on his face while he talked to Simon. To be quite fair, they were all very drunk, so Alec did not feel alone in his inebriety.

Next to him sat Jordan, Simon’s ex-roommate, who was like him not too fond of dancing. Jordan had become friends with all of them fairly quickly, he was easy-going and easy on the eyes, too, but that was probably Alec’s drunken mind speaking.

It occurred to Alec that he was actually trying to talk to him over the music but he couldn’t hear a word he was saying. He tilted his head toward him, making out a few words. Jordan was asking him to come with him outside for a while so he could smoke a cigarette. Alec rose to his feet as elegantly as he could. The world spun for a second and he grabbed Jordan’s arm to steady himself before releasing him, following him to the open door on the side of the club that lead to the smoking area.

Alec found himself almost nose to nose with Magnus, who was wearing one of his stars-patterned green shirts, glitter covering his eyes and hair. He grinned at Jordan, before grabbing one of his cigarettes, immediately lighting it, completely disregarding the browned-hair, black-eyed man he had been talking to a second ago. He released a cloud of smoke and swayed on his feet for a second, obviously as intoxicated as the rest of them before settling his blurry gaze on Alec.

“Alec, darling!” he exclaimed and Alec did his best to look as nonplussed as he could at the unusual pet name. “I was just talking about you with my great friend… Arthur?” He turned toward the man he had been talking to, a question evident in his eyes.

“Ben,” the man corrected, a barely covered hunger in his eyes as he eyed Magnus up and down. Alec felt an uneasy feeling in his chest, but discarded it as the alcohol running in his system.

“And what were you saying?” Alec asked Magnus, ignoring the other man. Jordan was observing the scene from the side, smoking his cigarette in silence.

“I was explaining Bob here that I was probably going to ban Chairman Meow from the apartment for a while because he’s obviously favoring you and I just can’t have that. It’s treason.”

“I’m not sure I know who Chairman Meow is, though. And it’s Ben,” the man put in, his lustful eyes never leaving Magnus.

“It’s his cat,” Alec answered coldly, finally turning to face the intruder. “And he’s not favoring me, it’s just that he hates everyone else.”

“So, do you want to go back to my place?” Ben promptly inquired, still looking only at Magnus, obviously continuing a conversation they had been having before Alec and Jordan had joined them. He had disappeared, Alec noticed, darting a glance at the spot where Jordan had been standing a minute ago.  

Magnus was about to answer but before he could, Alec found himself blurting out, “No, he doesn’t.”

There was nothing he could do to stop himself, the alcohol burning away any restraint he could have had. Magnus gaped at him, obviously as shocked as Alec was feeling himself. He shut his eyes, hoping he would wake up in his bed but when he opened them again, Magnus was still standing in front of him, his narrowed eyes blazing with fury.

“I can speak for myself, Alexander,” he spat bitterly and Alec found himself back five years ago, when he had been the one gritting these same words out.

He could understand now how Magnus had felt at the time. He suddenly felt very small, wishing he had shut up, cursing his big mouth for blurting words out without his brain's approval. At least, he told himself, the anger in Magnus' eyes was familiar. That, he could deal with. Much more than he could deal with the pet names, shy smiles and open glances he had had to handle lately. He could deal with Magnus’ anger much more than with the creeping feeling clutching in his chest when he had thought that he might accept this stranger’s offer.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to presume,” he replied on the same seething tone.

He turned around and went back into the club, ignoring the voice in his mind telling him he was acting like a coward. He didn’t want to go back to the table just yet, he needed a minute to calm himself so he just stepped into the corridor that lead to the bathrooms but before he could open the door, a hand grabbed his arm and he was spun around, facing these green eyes again.

“What is wrong with you?” Magnus hissed, and Alec could see the rage burning in his gaze, just as well as he could see the real confusion behind it and something else, something he didn’t dare to try to decipher.

“There’s nothing wrong with me!” Alec thundered back. “If you want to go back to a stranger’s place,” he spat out the word with a ferocity that surprised even him, “you’re welcome to do it! No one is stopping you!”

Magnus looked like he was about to explode.

“Oh my God!” he yelled, jamming a finger on Alec’s chest, forcing him to back off until his back hit the wall forcefully. “I can’t believe you! You can’t do this, Alec! You can’t snap at me at every occasion, making it very obvious that you can’t stand me and then act jealous when a man –“

“I’m not jealous!” Alec interrupted loudly, but he could hear the lie in his own voice. What was going on with him?

“Shut up!” Magnus roared, his voice thick with exasperation. “Shut up! You don’t have the excuse of being in the closet anymore, Alec! You can’t hide anymore! Five years ago, I could understand why you snapped at me. You were jealous, because I was out and you couldn’t figure out a way to actually come out to your family. I get that you were terrified and I was the best target for you to release some of that stress. But that was five fucking years ago and you don’t have that excuse anymore!”

Alec tried to speak, opened his mouth to do so, but Magnus stopped him, holding his hand up.

“Shut up!” he growled again. “I am not your punching bag, Alexander. You don’t have any valid reason to hate me. You never really had one. Now, that’s one thing. We both have been doing some growing up since we met but you always made it very clear that you despise me! So you can’t be angry at me for flirting with someone else. You have no right to be jealous.”

“I’m not jealous,” Alec repeated heatedly.

“You’re full of shit,” Magnus snickered, but there was no humor behind it.

“Fuck you,” Alec hissed and he stepped forward, detaching himself from the wall.

It was probably the alcohol still burning in his veins that gave him the courage to do what he did next. There was no other explanation.

He grabbed Magnus by the collar of his shirt, pulled him vigorously against him, crushing his own hand between their heavily breathing chests and crashed their mouths together. He had expected to be kicked or slapped or punched, but Magnus did none of that. He actually responded immediately, melting against Alec’s body, wrapping his arms around his neck and grabbing a handful of his hair, tugging on it almost painfully.

Soon, Alec was nibbling at Magnus’ bottom lip with insistence, demanding an entrance that Magnus greeted happily, parting his lips. The world was swaying around Alec, he felt dizzy but he knew it wasn’t the alcohol anymore, just the feeling of Magnus pressed against him, kissing him, his hands already exploring the naked skin under his shirt.

Alec had been kissed quite a few times in his life, by boys and girls. Well, it was one girl, Aline, one of his childhood friends, long before he had even tried to figure out his sexuality. Then, there had been a few boys, here and then, kissing him expertly or slowly or enough to make him crave for more.

This was a messy kiss that probably happened for the wrong reasons. But it was passionate and it was slowly burning away all the oxygen left in his chest. It was an intoxicated and intoxicating kiss and his whole body was suffocating with Magnus, Magnus’ hands, Magnus’ lips, Magnus’ smell. His entire world suddenly resolved around the man in his arms.

Alec had received quite a few kisses in his life. This one left all of the other ones behind.

It was definitely the alcohol that prevented him from feeling any shame when he actually moaned in Magnus’ mouth as his fingers slipped below his shirt to settle on his lower back and scratched the skin there. He could feel his lungs running out of oxygen but he never wanted to let go.

Reality came crashing back when Magnus was the one pulling back, breathing as hard as Alec was, which was definitely a comfort. He licked his lips and Alec couldn’t stop himself. He lunged forward and kissed him again. It was shorter this time but as passionate as the first one and much slower. They took their time, exploring each other’s mouth, a dance of lips and tongue that almost matched the loud music still filling the club.

This time, Alec was the one stepping back, taking a deep breath to fill his lungs with much needed oxygen. He released Magnus who was staring at him with a mixture of apprehension, fear, desire and something else he could not quite decipher.

Looking at him now, in the dim light of the club, Alec actually saw him for the first time. Magnus was twenty-seven, three years older than Alec, but he seemed to have stopped aging around twenty. His brown skin was shining with glitter, but also with the blush on his cheeks, obvious result of what they had been doing seconds ago. His dark hair was a mess but Alec imagined his wasn’t much better. He was beautiful, the most beautiful thing Alec had ever seen.

“Shit,” he murmured and Magnus’s expression changed, understanding before Alec even did where this was going. “Shit,” Alec repeated, and he didn’t give Magnus a chance to hold him back, turning around and making his way back to the table as quickly as he could. He stumbled on a stool on his way, but managed to keep his balance. Jace was slumped on the couch, drunkenly explaining to Jordan the reasons why Clary was marrying him.

“I mean, look at me, dude, I’m flawless,” he was saying. “Alec, tell him!”

Alec rolled his eyes but did not glorify that comment with an answer. He bended over to get his jacket but Jace stopped him, eyeing him suspiciously.

“What are you doing?” he asked and grabbed his arm, his breath heavy with whisky.

“I’m going home. I-I can’t be here right now,” Alec managed to reply, inhaling deeply. His heart was still furiously beating against his ribcage. It actually missed a beat when he looked up to see that Magnus had finally joined the rest of them, standing with Simon two steps away from the couch, features utterly composed and impassible, the only hint of what they had been doing in the slight rumple of his shirt.

“You can’t go,” Jace commanded with a finality that was not to be discussed. “It’s my bachelor party and you’re my best man, you have to be there in case I am too drunk to go home! And let me tell you, my dear brother, I am not drunk, I am hammered!”

Alec pondered on it for a second but he knew Jace was right. He couldn’t leave him alone in that state. He sighed and let go of his jacket, sitting next to his brother, who let out a victorious hoot. He spent the rest of the night carefully avoiding to look anywhere near Magnus.

.

The next morning, he woke up in his own bedroom, with Jace softly snoring next to him and a killer headache. It was not until he had his first coffee and a couple of aspirins that everything went back to him. He swore under his breath, his eyes widening as he remembered what had happened, and swore again when the memory of him running away from Magnus came clearly in his mind.

He was still staring into space, lost in deep thoughts when Jace came stumbling in the kitchen, yawning and rubbing his eyes. He was holding Alec’s phone.

“The ringtone woke me up,” he informed his brother. “Why is Magnus texting you?”

Alec quickly snatched the phone from his hand, reading the words, apprehension swirling in his stomach.

We need to talk.

It was much more terrifying than if he had written an entire novel to explain to Alec why he was an idiot.

“Trouble in paradise?" Jace smirked and Alec felt his blood boil for a second.

“Fuck off,” he replied, because he was a grown-up adult.

His adoptive brother actually seemed surprised at that, but did not comment on it, taking a seat in Alec’s tiny kitchen and pouring himself a much needed cup of coffee.

“Want to talk about it?” he asked, trying to make it sound casual, but Alec knew better.

“Nope.”

Jace did not say anything after that but there was a knowing look in his golden eyes.

.

Once Jace had left to go back to the apartment he shared with Clary, Alec went straight to the shower. The night before, they had both been too drunk to be bothered and had fallen into bed without any care for hygiene. Now, the shower was heavenly. The hot water was doing wonders for his tensed shoulders.

He closed his eyes, finally relaxing but as soon as he did, images from the night before came crashing back to him. Magnus’s lips moving with his, his hands in his hair and under his shirt, the way he had moaned in Alec’s mouth, the lust in his green eyes when they had pulled away and the hurt replacing it when he had realized Alec was going to run away. He wondered what Magnus had thought but it was actually quite obvious. Magnus was convinced that Alec hated him.

Alec did not hate Magnus. He never had and never could. He had been right when he had said that Alec had been jealous of him because he had been proudly out when they had first met. But he had also been scared, scared because he had immediately felt an attraction toward that beautiful, confident, glittery man, attraction like he had never felt before, a pull that had seemed almost magical at the time.

And even though they had been fighting all the time after that, Alec had never hated Magnus. On the contrary, he had been powerless to his own feelings developing, to the twinge in his heart whenever he saw Magnus for what he really was: thoughtful, kind, beautiful. He had never hated Magnus but he had been utterly, infinitely and completely terrified of him. He still was today.

There was something peculiar about Magnus, something that probably was the result of everything that had happened throughout his life. He was strong and yet, to Alec, he seemed so fragile. He was terrified of breaking him, but he was even more terrified that Magnus would absolutely shatter him, with no hope of ever getting back the pieces of himself that would end up scattered on the floor. He was terrified of the power Magnus held over him without even comprehending it.

“Shit,” Alec whispered to himself.

He was so screwed.

When he finally stepped out of the shower, his entire body was actually feeling much better but his mind was definitely not. He knew what he had to do, what he should do.

He should grab his jacket and drive his bike to Magnus’ apartment. He should face him and actually tell him the truth that petrified him, because Magnus deserved that much.

But he was not ready to do that.

With a deep breath, he grabbed his phone and sent a quick text to the man that had invaded his every thought. We will, I promise.

.

On the next Saturday, he still hadn’t gathered the courage to face Magnus but he had to face the fact that he did not have a choice anymore. Today was Jace and Clary’s wedding and of course Magnus was going to be there.

He almost turned around on his way to Simon’s at the idea of finally confronting him. Isabelle, Simon and he were taking the latter’s car to go to Luke’s farmhouse upstate where the wedding was taking place. He was fidgeting, pulling on the sleeves of his over worn sweater to nip at them nervously.

Isabelle sent him a glare through the rear-view mirror. “Stop doing that!” she ordered. “It’s Jace’s wedding, not yours! Why are you so nervous?”

“I’m not,” Alec lied.

He heard Simon snort in disbelief but chose to ignore him.

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Isabelle asked softly, in a tone that made him feel like it had actually been a while since he last talked to her. She turned around in her seat in the front to face him, a gentle smile on her red-painted lips.

He twisted his head toward the car’s window, watching New York City disappearing in the distance. The ride was at least two hours long, so he might as well make it count. And he really needed to get it out of his chest.

Alec took a deep breath. “Okay. Yes. I kissed Magnus,” he confessed in a breath. He was not expecting how relieved he suddenly felt, a weight lifting from his shoulders immediately.

“What?” Simon and Isabelle both cried out at the same time, their eyes widening comically.

“I kissed Magnus,” he repeated, even though he knew they had heard him perfectly. There was a soft music in the car, probably from Simon’s band but not loud enough to cover their voices. It felt even better to say it twice.

“What?” Isabelle shrieked again, a huge grin breaking her face. “When? Where? Was it good?”

He blushed at the memory. It had been exceptional, better than Alec could have ever imagined.

“Oh, that good, then?” his sister said playfully, catching the look on his face. His cheeks seemed to burn even more.

He cleared his throat, reminding himself that he wasn't a blushing teenager anymore. “Last week at the club, at Jace’s bachelor party,” he admitted, doing his best to appear composed.

“And you’re only telling us now?” she accused, narrowing her eyes at him.

“At least I’m telling you,” he offered to defend himself, sending her a sheepish smile.

“So that’s why you were both acting so weird!” Simon chimed in, never taking his eyes off the road. “Did you have sex in the club’s bathroom? Please tell me you didn’t. That bathroom was disgusting.”

“We didn’t have sex in the club’s bathroom,” Alec deadpanned, rolling his eyes. “We didn’t have sex at all.”

“What happened then?” Isabelle inquired. There was no mockery in her voice. Instead, it was gentle, genuinely interested.

“I-I panicked,” Alec sighed, pinching his nose. “I kissed him… twice. And then, I ran away and didn’t talk to him for the rest of the night.”

“Ouch,” Simon butted in once more. “Magnus must be devastated.” Isabelle actually punched him in the arm this time. “What?” he yelped, obviously blind to Alec’s internal struggles. “It’s true!”

“And you haven’t talk to him since then?” Isabelle asked, ignoring her boyfriend who was now rubbing his aching shoulder with a pout.

“No, I’ve been thinking,” Alec admitted sheepishly, “and it’s Magnus! And… I know it’s going to sound crazy but I think I might be… a little bit in love with him.”

He said the words very quickly. It was like ripping off a bandage. It was rushed, but it felt great to actually say it out loud. His confession was met with dead silence and he finally turned his head, catching his sister’s eyes.

“Oh, Alec,” she simply said, a fond, slightly exasperated look in her dark brown gaze.

All of a sudden, it all came back to him. How she had been dropping hints for ages, the way his friends always seemed to whisper to each other whenever Magnus and he were arguing, the infamous bet, Jace’s snarky comments whenever he mentioned the other man, Clary’s knowing smiles.

“You knew,” he whispered after a while. “You knew. Izzy, why didn’t you tell me?”

“To be fair, we thought you knew too,” Simon answered for her.

“Of course I didn’t know!” Alec snapped back. “I just figured it out this week.”

“Alec, you have to tell him,” Isabelle put in with a soft smile. “He loves you too, you know.”

Alec paled, a lump forming in his throat. He had been too busy trying to figure out his own feelings to think about Magnus’, and now he felt utterly selfish. He had kissed Magnus, and he had run away cowardly, without a care for his feelings. He didn’t know if Izzy was right but he did know one thing.

“I’m so screwed,” he blurted out loud, not for the first time that week.

.

The rest of the trip to the farmhouse had been fairly quiet on his part. He had been too lost in his own thoughts, trying to figure out what to do next to pay attention to the couple. They arrived there a little after noon and they all opened their eyes in wonder at the sight of the scenery.

Magnus really had outdone himself. It was like stepping into a movie. There were white flowers everywhere, from the porch to the altar that stood a few meters away from the lake in front of ten rows of chairs. It was all combined with cleverly put out lights, but the day was still young so they could only use their imagination to visualize what it would look like in the evening, when they would have dinner under the tent that rose on the hill above the house.

Jace was waiting for them on the porch, already in his suit, a ridiculously happy smile on his face. He hugged them – even Simon which was unusual enough to be noted.

“Go change,” he instructed Alec, showing him the stairs to the rooms. “Your suit is on the bed with my stuff. I need you so I can rehearse my vows afterwards.”

Alec nodded and took the stairs two at a time, easily finding the room Jace had mentioned. The suit Magnus had picked out for him laid on the bed, and he felt a pang in his heart at the memory of these quiet moments with Magnus, how they had managed not to yell at each other for once, how peaceful it had been.

He heaved out a deep sigh and took off his sweater and his t-shirt. He was about to do the same with his jeans when the door opened and Magnus barged in, a notebook in one hand and a pen in another. They both froze, staring at each other. Magnus let his eyes linger on his naked torso before he shook his head, focusing back on Alec’s blue gaze.

“Sorry,” he gasped before turning on his heels, stepping out of the room.

Alec did not let himself the time to think twice. “Magnus, wait!” he called out.

Magnus stopped abruptly and turned around. Alec grabbed the white shirt on the bed and put it on, buttoning it quickly.

“You don’t have to get dressed up for me,” Magnus chimed in, a coy smile on his lips, flirtatious and cold all at once. It disappeared as rapidly as it had appeared.

“We have to talk,” Alec said, almost desperately.

“Yeah, I told you that about a week ago and you pretended to be dead,” Magnus replied, before gazing down to the watch on his wrist. “You want to talk, talk but let me tell you that you have exactly four minutes before I have to check on the kitchen.”

“Fair enough,” Alec mumbled. “I deserve that.”

He took a step forward but stopped when Magnus crossed his arms, an expectant but bitter look on his handsome face.

“Listen, Magnus, I’m sorry, okay?” he eventually croaked out. “It’s all been a lot to take in and I’m terrible at handling this kind of situations –“

“No shit,” Magnus sneered acidly.

“I panicked, okay?” Alec almost shouted. “I panicked! This is all crazy to me! I was convinced I hated you and then I kiss you and… You must have felt it too, it was incredible. I-It was perfect. I needed some time for it to make sense.”

He closed his mouth and finally stepped back, going to sit on the bed. Magnus did not talk for what must have been a full minute and time seemed to have stopped, for the only purpose of driving Alec completely crazy. Finally, Magnus released a deep sigh and Alec looked up, meeting the shining green eyes.

“It’s not supposed to make sense, Alexander. It should be easy and evident and if it’s not, I’m not sure why we are having this conversation. I have to get back,” he added and he suddenly seemed so tired. He moved toward the door.

“Why do you have to be so stubborn?” Alec blurted, frustration thick in his voice.

That actually got his attention because Magnus came to an abrupt halt. “I beg your pardon? I am being stubborn?”

“Yes,” he replied with a finality that left no chance for the other man to defend himself. “You are the most stubborn person I have ever met. Look, I know you think it should be easy because it’s always been to you. You’ve been in love, you know what it feels like, you can recognize the signs. I’ve never been in love before and –“

“Wow, stop right there!” Magnus cut in, holding a hand up, eyes blown with shock. “You’re in love with me?”

“Yes. No,” Alec stuttered, then, louder, “I don’t know!” He took a deep breath, closing his eyes for a minute, focusing on nothing but the man in front of him. “I think so. But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. I don’t know! I’ve never been in love, I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like and it terrifies me. You terrify me.”

Magnus did not interrupt this time but Alec took his time. He knew he had to get it all out or he never would but he had never been good at sharing his feelings and this time was no exception. It was even harder with Magnus looking at him the way he was, his face completely closed off, expressionless, his arms crossed over his chest, his chin up in a defying posture.

“You’ve always scared me,” Alec sighed, stroking the nape of his neck in a nervous habit. “I might be realizing it only now but according to Izzy, my feelings for you aren't new. I think she’s right. I think I always knew that there was something special about you. That if I let you, you would break my heart. So it was easier to try to hate you.”

His confession was met with a deep silence. Magnus was looking straight at him and his face seemed to open slowly, carefully. With the sunlight coming through the window, Alec could see clearly the bits of yellow that sprinkled in the green of his eyes. He found himself wishing he could just take him in his arms and kiss him like he had the week before, forgetting about everything else. He did not.

Instead, he waited patiently for Magnus to answer, expecting his heart to be crushed indeed. Finally, Magnus bended over the bed and took hold of the navy blue tie that rested next to the suit jacket. He came to face Alec, fiddling with the piece of cloth, when the door opened noisily and Jace barged in, looking slightly out of breath.

“Magnus,” he exclaimed loudly but cut himself off when he took in the two of them. He curved a blond eyebrow. “Is everything alright?”

“Get out,” Magnus ordered with a tight voice, not even bothering to look his way, completely focused on Alec.

“Is it a we’re-going-to-have-sex get out or a we’re-going-to-kill-each-other get out? Because I’m not okay with either of these. I need you in the kitchen and I need Alec with me to rehearse my vows.”

Magnus finally turned to him, murder in his eyes. “It’s a 'if you don’t get out immediately, I will find a moment in the future where you’re the least expecting it and bring a duck into your house to let it slaughter you slowly' get out.”

“Fine,” Jace sighed. “But please hurry up, I’m freaking out here.”

“I’ll be down soon,” Magnus answered. “I just have to settle some things with your idiotic brother.”

Jace turned his gaze on Alec, who nodded to signify that everything was okay. He made an exaggerated salute and closed the door.

Magnus immediately went to lock it behind him and Alec felt his heart race in his chest. He could hear it in his own ears, and wondered if Magnus could too. He walked back to face him, a tender smile on his lips. It was a weird, foreign look to Alec.

“You’re right,” Magnus finally said. “I’ve been in love before and I’ve had my heart broken. It hurts, it really does but I don’t regret it because it’s part of who I am today. You’ve endured loss, Alexander, just like I have.” Alec knew he was referring to Max, the little brother he had lost too soon, but he did not dare to go further into that thought. “You had your heart broken, even if it was not by a lover. This is part of life. I can’t promise you I won’t ever break your heart, just like you can’t promise me the same. What I can promise you is that if it ever indeed happens, you’ll heal eventually. You’ll always heal, even if it seems impossible, even if you think you can’t. You’re stronger than you think you are.”

Magnus took a deep breath and raised his hands, sliding the tie around Alec’s neck and tying it expertly.

“I’m scared too, darling," he admitted in a low voice. "I hated it but it was clearly easier to fight with you than to give in to my other feelings for you. It’s always scary to abandon yourself to someone, to put your heart in their hands and trust them with it. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.”

Alec’s voice was only a whisper. “What if it’s a disaster?”

“Well, you can’t know that unless you try, can you?” Magnus asked with a small knowing smile.

Alec nodded and cupped the taller man’s face between his hands, looking straight into the deep yellow-green eyes.

“Can I?” he murmured.

Magnus only smirked and Alec slid his hand to cup his neck and leaned toward him, brushing their lips together. It was not exactly a kiss, but it was already an explosion of terrifyingly strong feelings. Alec took them all in and this time, he did not run away.

He actually pressed his lips against Magnus’, kissing him properly, putting everything he had in it. What had started as a soft, slow kiss quickly developed into a more passionate one and Alec felt the need to touch, to discover more, always more. He slipped his hands to Magnus’ hips, holding him firmly against his chest while letting his fingers explore the bare skin he could find there. Magnus moaned in his mouth and tugged lightly on his hair, nipping at his bottom lip. Alec felt his knees buckle and he was certain that if they hadn’t been locked into such a tight embrace, he would have felt faint. He let his hand wander to Magnus’ belt and hooked a finger through it, using the hold to bring him closer, kissing him even harder.

He wondered if every kiss with Magnus would feel like that, like it was the first time he was properly kissed.

Finally they stepped back, and Alec wanted more, wanted everything Magnus would give him but he restrained himself, and rolled back on his heels.

“Shit,” he breathed out when his ability to speak came back to him.

“Don’t you dare run away again!” Magnus warned through heavy pants, and Alec was glad to see him as breathless as himself.

“I won’t,” Alec whispered, sliding his hands around the taller man’s waist, bringing him back against his chest. “I won’t.”

He kissed him again slowly, passionately, but Magnus pulled back, sighing.

“I really have to go,” he whispered but Alec could see the reluctance on his face. “Jace is going to wreck havoc if he tries to take care of anything. And I have a feeling that this is going to get out of hands if we keep doing that.”

Alec would not have minded.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind,” he actually voiced out loud, in a rough tone that gave away how the kiss had affected him. He immediately blushed.

“Alec,” Magnus whined, biting his bottom lip. “Don’t do this to me.”

Alec smirked and went to kiss him again, a simple peck, before bringing his lips to his jaw, then lower to his neck, lightly nibbling on the sensitive skin there. Magnus moaned again.

“I’m not doing anything,” Alec said, in a tone that he hoped was seducing, the lie rolling off his tongue easily. “Just five more minutes.”

He could feel Magnus’ heart missing a beat where he was working on his pulse point.

“I hate you,” he simply replied and gasped when Alec moved to the other side of his neck.

“No, you don’t.”

“No,” Magnus echoed, panting, “I don’t.”

.

Jace was pacing in the kitchen, biting his nails anxiously when Alec found him a while later, dressed up in his fancy suit. Isabelle was standing next to him, looking absolutely gorgeous in a pale beige dress. It took one look at him for his brother to know.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe you chose my wedding day to finally have sex with Magnus!” Jace exclaimed sharply, reprimanding.

Alec felt his cheeks burn. “I did not!” he blurted out, biting his bottom lip to try to diminish the self-satisfied grin he knew he was bearing. 

Jace crossed his arms, Isabelle put her hands on her hips and they both raised an eyebrow in a perfect similar we-smell-bullshit manner. In that moment, there was no doubt that they had been raised together.

“Yeah, okay, I totally did!” Alec admitted, letting the love-sick smile take possession of his face.

Isabelle beamed, giggling happily while Jace growled, obvious dismay on his angelic features.

“Too much information! I wasn’t serious! God, I don’t want to know about your sex life! It’s like imagining Isabelle with Simon!” He faked a gag but there was a tiny smile on his lips that Alec knew meant that he was happy for him. “Argh!” he exclaimed dramatically. “Now I have horrible images in my mind!”

“Oh, I can assure you there was nothing horrible about it,” came a pompous voice behind Alec, making him blush again. Magnus strolled in and let his hand linger on Alec’s shoulder. There were a couple of red marks on his neck, just like the ones Alec was displaying himself.

“I’m going to have nightmares for the rest of my life,” Jace whispered to no one in particular.

“Oh, stop being such a drama queen!” Isabelle chimed in, rolling her eyes. Her smile was almost a match for Alec’s one. “We’re very happy for you both. Now Alec, go help him rehearse his freaking vows, he’s been getting on my nerves with it for an hour!”

Alec did, reluctantly stepping away from Magnus.

.

The ceremony was perfect and in the end, because Jace was Jace and he always did whatever he wanted to, he threw away his vows and improvised a speech that was actually much better than the written ones. He almost brought everyone to tears. Clary was beautiful and her dress was gorgeous but as far as Alec was concerned, she could have been wearing a hoodie and a pair of jeans, she would have been stunning anyway because she looked happier than he had ever seen her, her smile lighting up the entire place and obviously completely rocking Jace’s world. His adoptive brother had been unable to look away from her from the moment she had appeared, firmly holding Luke’s arm.

The night was starting to fall and Alec was standing outside the tent, watching as the sun began its descent behind the lake, bathing the scenery in pink and orange.

“Alexander.” He turned around, facing Magnus who smiled at him and slipped into his arms with disconcerting ease, as if they had been doing it for years.

“It was perfect,” Alec said quietly, afraid speaking too loudly would break the magic of the moment. “The ceremony, it was perfect. You’ve done an amazing job.”

“I know, I’m magnificent,” Magnus replied smugly, a teasing smile on his lips.

Alec snorted but didn’t dignify it with an answer, mostly because he knew it would just be sappy. He just held Magnus tighter and brought his lips to his in a shy kiss, so different from the ones they had shared before.

.

“I can’t believe you did that!” Alec yelled, anger dancing in his blue eyes.

“Alexander, you’re just being irrational!” Magnus hissed back through gritted teeth.

“Irrational? You threw away my favorite sweatshirt!”

He crossed his arms tightly on his chest, refusing to back down.

“There was a gigantic hole in it, you idiot!” Magnus rolled his eyes, his voice tight with irritation. “I know you don’t care about fashion but that doesn’t mean you have to dress like you’ve been in a fight with a wild beast. And you didn’t ask for it so I assumed you didn’t want it back!”

“I’ve been looking for it for weeks!” Alec growled back stubbornly. “I just didn’t know I had left it there! I keep losing my stuff coming and going from my place to yours!”

“Maybe you should move in with me then!” Magnus barked, balling his fists.

“Maybe I should!” Alec yelled back.

Dead silence followed his outburst. They stared at each other, both breathing hard, both holding their ground, refusing to back down or to admit how ridiculous they were being. Alec could feel it burning in his veins, a deep, pure, primary sense of craving.

“If you’re going to have angry make-up sex, please tell me so I can leave before I’m scarred for life,” Simon chimed in from his spot on the couch. Alec had completely forgotten he was there. There were having a Star Wars marathon, Isabelle being away for work, and they had starting arguing halfway through Attack of the Clones when Alec had asked Magnus if he had maybe left his brown sweater there.

“You should go,” Alec confirmed in a shaky voice, breathing heavily, still staring at Magnus with love and anger and lust in his darkening blue eyes.

He moved in the following week. They celebrated profusely. In every room of the flat.

.

“Psst… Alec!”

Alec stirred and opened his sleepy blue eyes, finding Magnus’ shadow in the darkness. He was lying in bed next to him, eyes wide open.

“What?” he asked groggily, voice heavy with exhaustion.

“I think I heard something,” Magnus whispered agitatedly.

“I’m sure it’s just the Chairman,” Alec grumbled, his eyes already drifting shut again.

“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” he replied, before turning to face his sleepy boyfriend.

The silence barely lasted a few second. “Psst… Alec!”

“What now?” Alec groaned, opening his eyes again. Magnus bore a teasing smile.

“Wanna have sex?” he asked, mischief evident in his voice.

“Did you wake me up pretending we were being robbed just so we could have sex?” Alec tried to sound annoyed but failed miserably, strikingly fond instead.

“Maybe,” Magnus retorted innocently.

Alec let out a deep sigh but he was grinning sappily. “You’re a child.”

“Would a child do that?” Magnus inquired teasingly, letting his hand go down Alec’s boxers.

“Shit,” Alec swore under his breath, grabbing his boyfriend’s shoulder to slam him against his chest. He came willingly.

“Such a filthy mouth,” Magnus taunted.

“Fuck you,” Alec whispered back, capturing his lips in a heated kiss.

“Gladly.”

.

Alec was lying on the couch reading a book, his head on Magnus’s lap, who was absentmindedly playing with his hair while watching one of the crappy TV shows he liked so much, when it suddenly struck him. He was happy, utterly happy, happier than he had ever been.

“Magnus?”

“Mhm?” He barely reacted, his gaze still fixed on the screen.

“I love you,” Alec confessed, his stomach twisting in the best possible way.

Magnus smiled and looked down at him. He still looked amazed every time Alec said the words, even after four years together.

“I love you too,” he said and it was the purest, easiest thing in the world.

“We should get married,” Alec blurted before he could stop himself.

Magnus froze and his mouth fell open, surprise evident on his handsome face.

“I mean, if you want to!” Alec quickly added, blushing lightly. There was something seriously wrong with him. “Please say something.”

“Well, there was no question there for me to answer,” Magnus deflected, a smirk twitching at the corner of his mouth.

Alec rolled his eyes. “Magnus Bane, will you marry me?” he asked sarcastically but even the annoyed tone could not hide the true anticipation.

“You know, people usually do that on their knees,” his boyfriend teased.

Alec could not hold back a deep sigh. “Oh my God, you’re really going to make me do it, aren’t you?” he exclaimed before rising from the couch.

“Well, you know how much I love when you’re on your knees,” Magnus quipped with a happy laugh.

Alec snorted but did put a knee down, taking hold of his boyfriend’s hands.

“Magnus Bane,” he said seriously, his face grave when he caught his green loving eyes, “I love you and I love you more everyday even though you’re a pain in my ass. And when we’ll be old and incontinent, I’ll still love you. I want you to keep annoying me for the rest of my life and if you’d let me, I’d be really glad and honored to call you my husband. Now, will you marry me?”

There were unshed tears in Magnus’ eyes but Alec was fairly certain it was a good thing. He cleared his throat, looking intensely at his boyfriend.

“You know, it’s probably the first time in history that someone proposes with insults,” he remarked.

“Magnus!” Alec growled irritably.

“Sorry, sorry,” he cackled. “Of course I’ll marry you. You’re an idiot but you’re my idiot.”

Alec rolled his eyes but let himself be pulled up, his lips crashing with his fiancé’s for what would become the best kiss of his life. They all were with Magnus.

.

“No! Absolutely not!”

“But Alexander –“

“Magnus, we are not going to ride horses to the altar!”

“You’re such a buzz kill! I hate you!”

“No, you don’t.”

“No, I don’t.”