The first night Alec spent with Magnus, he hadn’t even realized he was spending it. He was just there to clean up, to help with Luke. He kept thinking to himself over and over again, I should go. There were things to be done at the Institute and Alec was the one to do them, but even so he couldn’t seem to make himself leave. He said it more than once, too, “I should go,” as if saying the words aloud would make them harder to argue with.
“You can if you want,” Magnus said finally, looking up at Alec from the chair he had settled into, gold glittering under his eyes. “But I would like it if you stayed.”
And stupidly, Alec did.
It was a long night and they were never exactly alone. Luke needed tending, or he was bored sitting in bed and wanted to chat; Clary and Jace were in and out, having lots of whispered conversations that irritated Alec though he tried to ignore them. No one was paying any attention at all to Alec, so Alec kept paying attention to Magnus.
Magnus was free with words and gestures in a way Alec couldn't quite comprehend. His hands waved expansively to elucidate whatever he was saying, face cycling through a million different expressions. He told Alec funny stories that had nothing to do with any of the very important things that were happening – an adventure with a pirate ship, a jewel thief he once met in Peru.
Alec couldn't look at him too long or he'd get stuck looking (there was a lot to look at, with Magnus) so he kept lowering his eyes, looking away, fighting his smiles. Every so often he couldn't suppress them and he'd catch Magnus' eye in time to find Magnus giving him the softest smile in return.
Another thing Alec couldn't comprehend was someone looking at him like that.
Alec thinks of that night again, later, when Jace is gone. Jace is gone, off with Valentine and in danger every second of it, but instead of doing anything valuable for the cause Alec is back in Magnus' apartment. He'd felt bad about going but Izzy had practically pushed him out the door; she could be difficult to argue with when she wanted to be.
"You're not going to get him back and end the war in one night," she said. "Take a break. I won't tell anyone you relaxed for thirty seconds."
So now Alec is here, settled on Magnus' couch with an ease that conceals his inner tension, and the strangest thing is that he's the one talking.
After all that business with Luke, Magnus called Alec not just once but several times. Late at night was good, that was when Alec was likeliest to pick up, though his voice was strained with exhaustion. Magnus could picture him with his shoulders slumped and his head bowed. It sounded private, Alec murmuring even though he was alone in his room, but he answered. He did answer.
Still, he never spoke much. Magnus would make fascinating small talk – he had always been told he was a delightful conversationalist, whatever Ragnor said – and update Alec on absolute nonsense from his life. Alec would uh-huh and really and once in a while, even laugh. The calls never exceeded five minutes. Magnus never really learned anything about Alec from them, but he felt like he was learning something all the same.
Tonight, Alec talks. There are conversations they need to have but tonight isn't the night for that. Instead, Alec talks about Jace while Magnus tries not to feel too hostile with jealousy. He reminds himself that Alec did kiss him; Alec did stay for another drink; Alec did answer.
It's natural for Alec to be so worried about Jace, and Magnus is touched that Alec would confide such things to him, speaking of the bond he can barely feel anymore. Magnus offers his little platitudes as the conversation wanders, opens up, and Alec tells him other things, stories about Jace and Isabelle when they were children, though the part Magnus is most interested in is the idea of small, rule-following Alec always tagging along with the troublemakers.
They sit on the couch, Alec looking straight ahead out at the room but Magnus sitting sideways so he can focus entirely on Alec. As Alec speaks, Magnus lets the pads of his fingers just barely tremble over the little triangle of chest revealed by the open collar of Alec's denim shirt. The tip of his middle finger dips into the hollow of Alec's throat before following his collarbone all the way up to his shoulder. Magnus has forgotten to listen, just for a minute, and he only realizes because Alec has stopped talking.
"I'm sorry," Magnus says, but he's not.
"It's okay," Alec tells him, his voice a little rough. One of his hands comes up to wrap gently around Magnus' neck and they shift, Magnus moving back as Alec moves forward. The way Alec holds him, leans over him – an arm slipping around Magnus' shoulders, his hand splayed on Magnus' throat – has Magnus feeling like some midcentury girl in the backseat of a car hoping her steady will pin her.
But he'll settle for a kiss.
Alec starts to become aware of certain things. Things like walking into the Ops Center and feeling the ripple that goes through the room as every person in it pauses, just for a second, in what they're doing. His mother only speaks to him when it directly involves Jace, and his father keeps making helpless expressions like his hands are tied. Alec begins to notice speculative looks on people's faces, open curiosity and sometimes more unpleasant emotions. He doesn't like being the center of attention. There's a reason he never was before.
Normally Alec wouldn't tell anyone about it, except maybe Izzy if she noticed it first, but he tells Magnus. Magnus studies him with sympathetic understanding and says, "The only way I've found to cope with unwanted attention is to court it before it has a chance to court me. When you make yourself the most outrageous thing in the room then you get to control why you're being looked at." He pauses. "But I imagine this is not a method that suits you, my dear."
"You sound like somebody's grandmother when you call me that," Alec tells him and Magnus looks briefly stunned before he laughs bright and loud.
Whatever ill attention the family name had been attracting has doubled. The gossip is snide and mean-spirited as gossip usually is, and Alec is embarrassed for the person he once was who would have agreed with it. Haven't you heard? The Lightwoods just love Downworlders. And it's so stupid. Every time he pushes up against it, the sarcasm and the contempt, Alec thinks of Magnus and realizes all over again how flatly stupid the world he was raised in can be.
Alec is starting to become aware of things that Izzy has already known for a long time.
He always thought he understood their mother. In her rigidity he saw strength and honor and an understanding of how the world worked. He thought he saw himself, the way he was supposed to be. But now he's learning that's not really the case.
Like when his mother comes into his room and drops a file onto his desk right on top of the paperwork he'd been filling out. Alec looks up at her, unimpressed. "I've seen this," he says, pushing it away dismissively. Magnus Bane, typed neatly along the tab of the folder. Alec remembers. Photographs, Magnus sepia toned in different hats and surrounded by similarly glamorous sorts. Alec gets it. He doesn't need the reminder.
"There's more there than your clearance level allows you," Maryse tells him. Alec is momentarily surprised but then it fades and he's not surprised at all. Breaking the rules just to prove a point, to show Alec how little he knows.
"I'm not reading it," he says. "If I want to know something about Magnus I can just ask him."
"Suit yourself," Maryse says with a shrug before she turns to go. She doesn't take the file with her. It sits there daring Alec to open it, to read through all of Magnus' previous exploits tinged by the Clave's disapproval. An itemized list intended to dim what she perceives as Alec's rose-colored glasses.
Izzy really has known the entire time.
When Alec shows up with the file, Magnus could not be more delighted. He immediately flings it open, fanning the pictures and typed statements and biographical information across his coffee table with a snap of his fingers.
"My God, where do they even get these pictures? The angles, the lighting – eeugh –" With a sound of utter disgust, Magnus plucks one photo up and holds it far away from himself. "I bet Ra–" He cuts himself off abruptly, which Magnus doesn't do often as he always has very interesting things to say, and his expression cycles through blunted shock, sadness, and resolve. His voice, when he continues, is much softer. "I bet Ragnor sent some in. He was always fiendishly jealous of how photogenic I am, and he certainly wasn't above such petty revenge."
He sets the folder aside, looking over at Alec. "I have better pictures than these," he adds.
It's a risk. But Alec brought this file in the first place so he was angling for something, and better it came from Magnus than Maryse.
Alec wets his lips. This understandably distracts Magnus for a moment. "Okay," Alec says. "Show me."
Magnus brings his hands up like he's conducting a silent symphony and in response drawers and cabinets fly open, countless papers and objects zooming over to converge on them. Some of the things are Ragnor's. Alec appears to be somewhat startled by it all.
"Let's start in the mid eighties," Magnus says, rummaging through a stack of photographs. "I had a fantastic haircut in nineteen eighty-five."
"Right." Alec tentatively begins to shuffle through things himself, but not a minute later he's dropping one glossy picture like it's on fire, eyes turning ceiling-ward and cheeks flaming. Magnus peers over to see what the fuss is about and presses his lips together to prevent a laugh, dropping a book over the offending photograph.
"Mapplethorpe was a dear friend, you understand, and very handy with a camera," Magnus says. "Absolutely fascinated with the Downworld."
"I…see," Alec says, strangled. "Do you still have the – no. That's not my business."
Magnus no longer possesses what he imagines Alec is referring to, but it might be in his best interest to reacquire it. "It can be," Magnus says, and winks at him for good measure.
Alec's resulting laugh, soft and restrained as it is, manages to disperse the tension for the moment. Together they look at this or that, Magnus relating stories and situations, Alec drinking it all in. But instead of relaxing Alec only seems to grow tenser, his shoulders tightening bit by bit until he's nearly hunched in his seat. Magnus wants to ask what's wrong but he doesn't really want the answer; he thinks he knows, anyway.
"There's so much of it," Alec says finally.
"Yes," Magnus says slowly. He sets down a letter written to him by a Swedish count he had all but forgotten. "I've been alive a long time."
Alec doesn't say anything.
Soft, Magnus says, "Don't think about eternity just yet. Though I am, of course, charmed that you're thinking about it at all –" It doesn't seem like Alec is quite able to take a joke yet, so Magnus returns to the matter at hand. "It's a cliché, but there really is only now. Forget before and after."
This does not reassure Alec.
"I think – I have to – uh, go," Alec starts, and that's bad, "I mean, I – I think I'm needed back at the Institute," which is worse, "Sorry, I –"
"Don't worry about it," Magnus says, and smiles through his trepidation.
Alec doesn't call Magnus for a few days. It's not –
It isn't –
It's just a lot.
Magnus had already lived a hundred lives before Alec was even born; nothing can change that, but it's still daunting. So much has already happened to Magnus, he's already found and lost so much, and who's to say Alec won't end up another person Magnus once loved who has been left behind in another century, a relic of time?
It's a lot to swallow.
Somewhere around day seven, Alec walks into the training room to find Magnus in conference with Clary. He tenses. The longer his standoffishness went on the harder it was to put an end to it so Alec just…didn't. He feels young and naïve suddenly. Stupid. He doesn't know how to do any of this.
Magnus is buttoned and ruffled and glittered to impenetrable perfection, and as soon as their eyes meet Alec can tell the walls are up. Clary excuses herself with a wide-eyed look of warning in Alec's direction that he ignores decisively and completely.
"I'm not surprised," Magnus says. For a second it feels like the worst thing he could say and it makes Alec defensive, gets his back up.
"Yeah, I guess not much surprises you after a few centuries," Alec says, spiky with attitude.
Magnus observes him impassively. "I understand. You're trying to figure out if I'm worth the trouble, and leaning towards not."
Alec blinks, momentarily taken aback. "That's not –"
"You don't know everything about me, that's true," Magnus continues. "And there are indeed…limitations to our relationship. I understand."
He doesn't look like he does, though; he looks more like Alec stabbed him in the heart.
Alec doesn't know what makes him say it. "When I'm gone, she'll still be here."
Magnus is lost, confusion creasing his brow. "She…?" But then it clicks. "I told you, that's all over, ancient history."
In his worst moments Alec thinks of Camille. It's not jealousy, it's envy. It's time.
When Alec doesn't say anything, Magnus adds, "All of that is such a long way off. You can't worry about it now."
Alec begs to differ. "Tell me," he says. "Someone you loved who you watched get old and die."
“Alexander,” Magnus says in that same gentle way he said it in the hallway. Alec does not need gentleness; he won’t break. He needs facts. "Even warlocks are not entirely immune to death."
Alec drops his gaze for a moment. "Someone you loved," he says again. "Tell me."
Magnus looks at him, inscrutable and cool. “If you're this interested, perhaps you can go read my file."
When he moves past Alec, they don't even touch.
"Don't you think you're overreacting?" Isabelle asks. Magnus knows the question is directed at him even though she isn't looking at him. Her steady gaze is focused on the threat they're dealing with at the moment – a sudden influx of Valentine's men. "He just freaked out a little."
It really isn't the time for small talk, but Magnus admires her ability to multitask. "We'll work it out in our own time, Isabelle."
She gives him a wry look over her shoulder that seems to say clock's ticking before two Circle members claim her attention. Magnus lifts a hand to help her out when he's quite suddenly tackled to the ground, breath knocked from him in a rush. His head hits concrete hard enough to stun him and in that quick moment, breathless with pain, he feels another heavy hit to his ribs and sees a shining blade lifted high above him.
His vision is still sparking as Magnus raises his hand to send the man flying, but before he can do anything a whirring sound zips through the cries and clangs of the surrounding melee. The man cries out, a spray of blood painting the front of Magnus' formerly very lovely brocade shirt, and then hits the ground. Alec is revealed in his place, standing there tall and imposing, his silhouette illuminated by the streetlights and bow in hand. An arrow protrudes from the man's shoulder.
"Are you fine?" Alec asks brusquely as he looks down at Magnus, still sprawled on the ground and casually bleeding from a head wound.
"Absolutely swooning," Magnus replies. "My hero." He pushes to his feet but is hit immediately by a dizzy spell, sucking in a harsh inhale that sends a bolt of pain through the bruised spot on his ribs. He wavers ever so slightly but luckily Clary rushes forward to catch his arm.
Alec looks at him, face unreadable, but soon enough there are other things to worry about.
Later, at the Institute, Magnus is exiting the infirmary (not that he even needed to visit it in the first place, acquiescing only because the girls had insisted) when he runs into Alec. Magnus can be needy even when he's trying to be arch and remote, so he can't help it that the first words that leave his mouth are, "Looking for me?"
Alec shifts his weight, shifts his gaze, and generally gives very little away. "How are you?"
"All healed," Magnus tells him, gesturing at his head. "Look, nary a bruise." He is who he is, he can't help it, so he lifts the hem of his shirt to show Alec his unblemished ribs. Alec's jaw clenches. "Good as new."
"Good," Alec says, succinct, and then he's right there, not even half a step away, and Magnus is being kissed as suddenly as he'd cracked his head earlier, the same starry pinpricks bursting behind his eyes. It's a hard kiss, Alec's hands fisted in the front of Magnus' blood-spattered shirt, pushing him roughly against the wall – which ends up being a door that opens under them, depositing them helpfully into one of the studies. With the slightest flutter of his fingers, Magnus slams the door shut after them and brings the lights up, because there isn't any part of this he wants to lose to dim lighting.
"Alexander," he breathes, before he can help it. His lips are stinging, still feeling the tug of Alec's teeth, the hard press of his mouth.
"The one thing you're supposed to do is not die," Alec tells him, voice tight with irritation, and he's kissing Magnus again, words forgotten.
Magnus isn't sure who this study belongs to, if anyone, but it looks like any other such room at the Institute that he's seen: a desk, a couch, a coffee table, a collection of leather-bound books. Alec angles him towards the desk, pushes and puts his mouth on Magnus and then slips his hands under Magnus' thighs to lift him up onto the desk's smooth, shining surface.
Alec is so tall – Magnus doesn't think he's ever had a lover so fantastically tall – that he can lean over Magnus on the desk with his feet still firmly planted. He has one hand flat on the desktop and the other around Magnus' waist, supporting the arch of his body. Magnus is absolutely lost in the kissing, dizzy with it, all buzzing limbs and pounding heart, the kind of all-consuming heartsickness that would feel like panic if it weren't also so good. He hasn't known anything this good in so long.
Magnus gives Alec a sudden shove back, holding him off with a gesture before bringing his hand to the top button of his shirt. He keeps his eyes on Alec as he plucks open each and every button, one by one down the line until the shirt falls open and hangs rakishly off his shoulders. Magnus leans onto one elbow and watches Alec watch him, drinking in the way Alec's gaze drags over his exposed skin. He relishes such directness of gaze from his ever-evasive Alec. There's a visible hitch in Alec's breath when he finds the small gold ring piercing Magnus' nipple; Magnus is glad they found that particular photograph.
While he's got Alec's attention, Magnus slides a hand down to unbuckle his belt, the sound of it metallic and indiscreet, noisy and obvious in the quiet. He leaves it at that before reclining back against the desk, waiting to see what Alec will do.
What Alec does is haul Magnus up into his arms and gather Magnus up against his chest like something utterly Harlequin. Magnus, thrilled, locks his arms and legs securely around Alec, clings to all that excessive height and kisses him breathlessly. Alec is far from steady as he maneuvers them toward the couch but he manages it, sitting so hard he almost drops them and leaving Magnus messily sprawled over him, which Magnus rather likes.
He wastes no time in dragging Alec's basic black t-shirt over his head and tossing it aside, then fixing his mouth on the strong curve of Alec's neck. His hands travel over Alec's skin greedily and Alec is almost rough in return – tugging on Magnus' hair, short nails scoring his skin, fingers finding the piercing again and again. Magnus has been hard since Alec pushed him onto the desk but all this desperate attention has him shifting in Alec's lap, hips rocking.
Alec's eyes are bright but steady, same as always; his determination cuts through the haze. If there is a tremor of hesitation in him, Magnus would never know. He can't seem to keep his mouth off Magnus' skin for longer than it takes to breathe. Alec's lips move along Magnus' collarbone and across the flat plane of his shoulder, over his bicep and down across his chest. His lips close over one nipple and Alec's teeth click against the metal. When he can't move any lower without dipping Magnus so far back that even his relative flexibility would be put to the test, Alec tips Magnus over onto the couch, flat on his back, and descends on him again.
Magnus is tempted to cultivate a new recklessness if the result is having Alec manhandle him so exquisitely.
They can't seem to fit on the small sofa together, legs slipping off and hitting the floor with a thump, hands flailing for a grip on the coarse upholstery. Alec continues to make his way down Magnus' body, methodical in his thoroughness as he drags slow openmouthed kisses over Magnus' skin, Magnus arching into the hot press of his tongue. His hands knead Alec's shoulders compulsively, run through his hair over and over until it's a mess.
Alec bites the slight dip of Magnus' waist, licks his hipbones, but when he gets down to the waistband of Magnus' pants he pauses – just the littlest fraction of a second, like perhaps he isn't sure exactly what to do now, but it's there. Magnus doesn't want Alec to feel forced to make a decision, nor does he want the momentum to falter; everything is sweet and hot and sudden, like it has to happen right away or it might never, so Magnus pulls Alec up by the hair for another kiss. He honestly doesn't care what they do or don't do. Touching Alec is enough. More than.
Magnus pushes up into the kiss until they finally do roll right off the couch, an instinctual flick of Magnus' fingers sending the coffee table skittering out of the way just in time. When they stop Alec is on top of him again, hips fitted snugly to Magnus', eyes closed and lips open. God, Magnus thinks, stunned yet again, god.
It happens like that – on the rug, clothes half off, hips rolling and working together. One of Magnus' arms is flung over his head, fingers interlocked with Alec's, and his other hand finds its way down the back of Alec's jeans. When Alec comes it's almost without sound, a hitching breath against Magnus' lips, his body contracting; it's so quiet, so internal. Then he keeps his eyes on Magnus' face, stroking his cheek and jaw and mouth until Magnus comes too – a great deal louder and with more hair tossing.
They roll apart, side by side on their backs. "Life-affirming," Magnus says. "It's so good to know you care."
Magnus is still catching his breath, eyes closed, when a touch to his cheek startles him. It's very tentative, Alec's thumb grazing his cheekbone. "Your eyes," Alec says. "They were different, when you, ah."
Magnus studies him, waiting once again for the other shoe to drop. "That's how they are," he says finally. He lets the glamour slip again and Alec pushes up onto his elbow to look properly, assessing, taking Magnus in as he is. Then Alec pulls him in and kisses him, open and artless. Magnus shudders harder than he did when he came, like the last shred of his self-preservation is splintering.
Alec could do anything to him now.
The next afternoon they go for coffee at a little mundane place by Magnus' loft. Alec is late, so when he gets there Magnus is already waiting, ensconced in a corner table with two cups in front of him. Even though he's alone it's like he's holding court, everyone in the shop orbiting around him; he's the focal point of the room whether he's trying to be or not. It's not because of how he looks or how he dresses (this is New York, after all), it's some other indefinable quality he has that other people lack. Magnus just stands out. He glitters.
"Hey," Alec says. He steps up behind the empty chair opposite Magnus and just stands there, doesn't make a move to sit yet.
Magnus looks up at him with an expression that Alec finds indecipherable but nevertheless…hot. "Alexander."
That seems like a good sign, good enough that Alec can finally sit and accept the coffee (black, with sugar) that Magnus already ordered for him.
Magnus smiles, a little curl of the corner of his mouth. "So far away?"
Alec swallows too hard and tries not to choke on his first sip of coffee. He gets up and takes the seat next to Magnus, squeezed in together on a small bench side by side. Alec has to put his arm around Magnus so they fit comfortably.
Alec feels a little bit like he's been flayed alive – not just now, but since yesterday. His skin is all over sensitive and shivery. He doesn't know how he's supposed to feel. Is he not a virgin now? Is this what not being a virgin feels like? Did that really count, coming in his jeans with Magnus underneath him urging him on? It feels like it counts, but Alec is constantly out of his depth in this arena.
"You're alright," Magnus says, soft and slow in Alec's ear. "You're alright."
"No, I know, I –" Alec can't keep his mind from the stupidity on his part that sparked the distance between them in the first place. "I didn't mean to freak out. Not now, the other day. After you showed me all your stuff. It was just… I was overwhelmed. I was stupid."
"No, you weren't," Magnus tells him firmly. "I am –" He pauses. "Perhaps a little defensive."
"With good reason," Alec says.
Magnus shrugs. "I could have said something. Given you a heads up, explained. I did not."
Alec is able to pick apart Magnus' expression a little more then. It's cool and imperious but underneath is something familiar, something vulnerable.
"It's new," Alec says.
"For both of us," Magnus agrees. And just like that the tight feeling in Alec's chest eases, because he knows it's true. His arm around Magnus relaxes. Alec is aware of all the looks Magnus is getting, the interested side eye and fluttered lashes, and Alec's jealousy is a sweet kind of jealousy, safe, because Magnus is only looking at him.
"The stuff everyone tells me about you," Alec says. "It's like I know it's true, but –"
"Do you?" Magnus interrupts. His lips quirk a little but don't quite form a smile. "Know it's true?" Alec doesn't respond outside of an expression that contains both a belligerent yes and a slightly queasy apology. He doesn't continue until Magnus prompts him. "You know it's true, but?"
Alec presses his lips together and looks everywhere but at Magnus, who laughs. He leans in until his smiling mouth is tucked against the side of Alec's neck. "You always look like you're fighting off a truth spell whenever you have to answer a simple question about your own feelings."
Alec huffs a little but tilts to meet his eyes, raising his own eyebrows. "It doesn't feel true," he offers finally.
Magnus' gaze falls to Alec's mouth with a heavy, full look that makes warmth bloom in Alec's chest. But then Magnus looks away, hand flailing for his drink (a frappuccino loaded up with syrup and whipped cream, of course), and he busies himself with a distracting sip. Alec wonders if it's out of deference to him, his newness and his supposed shyness. Don't worry, Alec wants to say. He just can't quite say it yet. You can kiss me any time you want.
Instead, Alec tips Magnus' face back towards him, enjoying the momentary flicker of surprise before Alec kisses him. He tastes like sugar. One of the funny things about Magnus is that he makes Alec feel like he can do things like this – share a kiss in the middle of a room of strangers.
As soon as they part, Magnus breathes, "Do you want to come back with me? To the loft?" There's something very bright in his eyes. Alec remembers those eyes as they really are, remembers Magnus' head thrown back against the rug as they flashed gold, and yeah. He wants to.
"Are we just going to do this all the time now?" he asks before he can help it. Magnus laughs, brighter and brighter.
"God willing," he says. His hand curls in the front of Alec's shirt and tugs.
The café isn’t far from the loft and they both take long, impatient strides so all told it must take five minutes to get from point A to point B. It feels like a blink, it feels like forever, with Alec's adrenaline going like he's on the hunt but his pulse skipping with nerves. It's crazy to feel so many things at once. Did he always, or is this new too?
Magnus begins to shed his layers as soon as they're through the doors of his building. There, a cashmere scarf looped over the bannister; there, a silk pocket square abandoned on the stairs. Alec scoops up every article absently, watching the shift of Magnus' back and shoulders ahead of him until they're at the door to the loft. Magnus is down two scarves, a belt, a vest, and a button down but somehow he still looks fully dressed to Alec. The layers are never ending, something out of a cartoon: Magnus takes off a shirt, is still wearing a shirt.
He turns to smile at Alec over his shoulder as he unlocks the door. They spill into the room, Alec leaning down to kiss Magnus, his hands hesitant and hopeful on Magnus' now-bare arms. Magnus is a great deal more sure as he divests Alec of clothing, and Alec likes it, seeing his clothes in Magnus' loft: his jacket draped on a chair, his t-shirt flung onto the rug. Magnus is down to just the one shirt now – or so it seems – so Alec peels it up and off, getting this flash in his head of Magnus on the desk unbuttoning his shirt slowly and letting it fall apart.
It makes Alec flustered, more flustered than he already is, his fingers ghosting over Magnus' skin, warm-toned and warm to the touch. Magnus' body is decorated with more jewelry than Alec ever knew could fit on one person: rings on every other finger, bracelets on his wrists and bicep, the piercing in his nipple, at least seven necklaces if not more, one of which goes all the way down to Magnus' waist where it connects to a thin chain looped around his hips. Obscene.
Magnus curls two fingers over the waistband of Alec's jeans. "Bed?"
Alec is parched. He has to swallow twice before he can reply with a sharp little nod, "Bed."
Magnus' bedroom is intimidatingly opulent. The lush bedding, the tapestries hanging on the wall, the vanity with enough pots and bottles to resemble nothing so much as Magnus' pantry of potion ingredients – it all conspires to look something like a romance novel. Alec never would have anticipated being laid across a bed in a room like this while a man who makes his skin prickle leans down to kiss his stomach.
Alec had thought, often, that he would never have this. Long before there was a Magnus who wanted to touch him, Alec had resigned himself to being untouched. It was an absent thought made worse by how casual it was, how easily he had accepted it. He would never have this. Even if he had married a woman, married Lydia, he hadn't thought of it in terms of sex or intimacy. It was a duty. He never thought he'd be here, doing this. He never thought he'd have the chance.
So he sits up, sinking into the soft mattress, and slides his hands over Magnus' jaw with a new reverence. Alec kisses him, gentle but determined, savoring the way Magnus' lips part for him so easily. Magnus smells like cologne, Alec doesn't know which one. Something dark and romantic, probably from one of the bottles clustered atop the dresser, dark glass bottles with metallic labels and elaborate stoppers. Cologne and oranges and sugar, crisp like someone put a match to it. Alec presses his mouth to Magnus' neck, breathes him in. When he pulls back, Magnus is giving him another of those very soft looks that make Alec's insides thrash.
"What do you want?" Magnus murmurs.
Alec doesn't know anything. "You."
Magnus touches his mouth, following the shape of it with a fingertip. "You're in luck, then."
Alec gets to work. He takes off Magnus' rings and necklaces and bracelets, unhooking each small clasp with care; he leaves the body chain, for reasons. He gets so frustrated with the unnecessarily complex fastenings of Magnus' leather pants that Magnus offers to do away with them by magic, but Alec wants the frustration. He wants to do everything with his hands.
For a person Alec had once thought of as ephemeral, Magnus is always shockingly solid under his hands, muscular, strong. The spot where Magnus had been injured was quickly and efficiently healed, so fast that Alec isn't sure it even had the chance to bruise. He remembers the sharp taste of his panic when it happened but it's fine, everyone is fine. Magnus is unbruised. He'll live forever.
Alec still doesn't really get why Magnus likes him so much when Magnus is so hot, so glam, has seen and done so much, but Alec is trying not to let the thought bother him now. It doesn't matter why.
"You don't have to," Magnus says when Alec hesitates for the second time in as many days, his mouth at the waistband of Magnus' boxer briefs (which are mesh, just in case Alec was tired of living), a black line that cuts across his hips.
"No, I want to." Magnus has no idea how badly Alec wants to. "It's just, I haven't – It probably won't be great." Alec raises an eyebrow to forestall any tender reassurances. "And don't tell me it will be. I've run the odds."
"Have you," Magnus muses, entertained. "Alright then, carry on. Give me a terrible blowjob. My expectations are appropriately lowered."
Alec flushes at the word but he only gives Magnus a terse, "Thank you," before putting his open mouth on the mesh. The temperature of Magnus' skin spikes as Alec drags his tongue over the fabric. Then he pulls the fabric away.
It takes some repositioning to figure out just how this will work. Alec finally finds himself on his knees next to the bed with Magnus splayed out before him, thighs caging Alec in. Alec rubs his hands slow over Magnus' legs, knee to hip, as he bends to press his lips to the flat plane of Magnus' stomach. That's all the preamble he allows either of them before taking Magnus into his mouth. They've been waiting so long for this – Alec has been waiting so long for this.
It's strange and uncomfortable and so hot that Alec's heart is racing. He trips himself up a few times trying to push harder but he can't help it, he wants it too much. He pulls off every so often to catch his breath, to ease the ache in his jaw and the rough catch in his throat, but he can only wait seconds before putting his mouth back on Magnus.
"God," Magnus groans, head and shoulders thrown back against the bed but body arching, gold chain glimmering in the low light. His fists clench on nothing, bringing the muscles of his arms into sharp relief. With every moan his body tenses, his handsome face all twisted, and Alec did that, all of it.
"What can I do?" Alec asks, voice lower and hoarser than he expected it to be, "What can I do to make you come?"
"If it ain't broke," Magnus says. He already looks spent, melting into the bed with his cheek turned against the duvet, eyes closed and breathing hard. Alec smiles a little, bites his lip.
"Hey," he says. "Look at me."
Magnus stirs with a breathy, contented noise, pushing up onto his elbows and looking down his impressive body at Alec, as hazy as if he had just woken from a dream. His eyes are his real ones, slit-pupiled. "Mm?"
His skin is buzzing too much to feel self-conscious; Alec feels bold instead, unembarrassed. "Keep looking," he says.
He wets his lips and starts again, letting his own eyes close but knowing Magnus' are still on him, watching Alec's mouth slide over him. His hand slips into Alec's hair, ruffling it, cradling the back of his neck. Touching his cheek, stroking his throat, gripping his shoulder.
"Alec," Magnus gasps, soft, "Alexander, I'm not sure you want to –"
But Alec wants all of it, every part.
Magnus keeps Alec until morning. He lets Alec sleep, of course, though Magnus himself is wired. He's still burning, riding high not only on the sex but on the entire afternoon – the look Alec gave him when he entered the coffee shop, this expression on his face that contained both shocking vulnerability and incredible warmth. But the sex too. It makes Magnus tender when he thinks of it, like a bruise.
In an effort to refrain from just gazing at Alec while his eyelashes flutter dreamily, Magnus gets up and sweeps through the loft, obsessively redecorating. Everything blue and silver, stars everywhere. Before the sun starts to rise he hears Alec stirring so he makes herbal tea with a snap of his fingers and brings it in on a silver tea tray. He had been hoping to catch Alec waking drowsily but of course he is already alert, sitting up in bed with the red sheets around his waist, back bowed. He scrubs a hand over his face and through his hair and then he smiles at Magnus.
He's really too much. Magnus can barely stand it.
Magnus sets the tea down and gets back into bed, reclining against the pillows before reaching up to smooth a hand over Alec's knobby spine. Alec leans back into him until he's sinking into the bed once again, though that edge of awareness does not dissipate. Ready for anything at any time, his Shadowhunter. "What were you doing?"
"Fussing." Magnus waves a vague hand. "Nervous energy."
Alec smiles again like he can't quite give up doing it. He leans into Magnus, who curls an arm around him. "I didn't know you got nervous."
Magnus laughs. "You have a lot to learn, then."
Alec grows a little serious then, solemn, which Magnus had not been trying to do. "Yeah. I do. I know." Before Magnus can assuage that particular insecurity, Alec says, "Tell me about him."
It isn't anything Magnus expected him to say, but at the same time he knows Alec doesn't mean some ex, or Robert Mapplethorpe or Freud or Michelangelo. He knows just who Alec means and he understands it, what Alec is asking. What he's offering by asking.
"Well, it's a pity you never got to meet him," Magnus begins flippantly. "The two of you would have gotten along swimmingly. Absolute sour grapes. How do I surround my effervescent self with the likes of all of you?"
Alec snorts, not offended by this. Magnus did not think he would be. "He was your best friend."
"One of the few people who really knew me," Magnus allows.
Alec pauses, awkward and shy, and says, "I'd like to."
Magnus looks at him, his lovely uncertain face. "There's a lot. Not all of it is pleasant."
Alec looks back steadily. "I know," he says. "No offense, but I've seen some pretty incriminating photos."
Alec's lips twitch ever so slightly, signaling his sarcasm, and Magnus laughs, head tipping back, laughs until Alec kisses him then laughs some more for good measure.
Then Magnus says, "You have absolutely no sense of humor, my god, Ragnor would have loved you."