Actions

Work Header

Just Starting to Crawl

Chapter Text

Magnus wasn’t on the bridge, and Alec was worried. In the two years they’d served together on the USS Brooklyn, Magnus had never even been late. Alec was pretty sure his species couldn’t even get sick, so it couldn’t be that, but maybe an injury…

An hour into the shift Magnus was supposed to be working, a different communications officer came in and took his seat. Alec stared at her before walking around to where the science stations were along the back wall and approaching Isabelle.

She looked up as he came up behind her and smirked. “Something I can do for you, Commander?”

Alec shook his head, leaning against the console in front of her. “Do you know where Magnus is?”

“Are you asking me as my commanding officer, or as my brother?” Izzy’s face said she already knew the answer.

“Both, I guess. As the officer in command, I should know why my crew isn’t where they’re assigned.” He sighed. “But mostly I’m just curious.”

“Ah, and simple curiosity has had you glancing over your shoulder more than twenty times in the last hour?”

“Do you know, or don’t you?”

“I don’t,” Isabelle said with a knowing smile. “Why don’t you go and ask Lieutenant Brown—if she’s covering for him, she has to know something.”

“Thanks, Iz,” Alec said, pushing himself off the console and heading over to where the replacement communications officer was sitting. He didn’t know her personally, but she had always seemed a competent officer, and Alec approached her with the confidence of a commanding officer. “Lieutenant Brown. I don’t recall you being on the duty roster for today.”

The Terran girl looked up at him and flushed slightly. “No, sir. I’m covering for Commander Bane, sir.”

He nodded. “And why was Bane unable to report as scheduled?”

Maureen shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure, sir. He asked if I could cover for him since he would be unable to report. I didn’t ask a lot of questions, sir, sorry—I owed him for a shift I missed last month, anyway. Sir.”

Alec nodded at her again, and walked back over to the captain’s chair to sit. He was tempted to give Clary the conn and go to talk to Magnus right now, but he only had another two hours before Captain Garroway would be on duty, and he’d be able to move freely throughout the ship then. He could wait two hours. Certainly Magnus or CMO Loss would have reported if there were something  seriously wrong.

It was a good thing nothing too eventful happened during Alec’s shift, because he was horribly distracted the entire time.

 

“Captain on the Bridge,” Clary said, smiling at her stepfather.

Luke smiled at her and walked over to Alec. “I have the bridge.”

Alec stood up and gave the captain his chair, moving to stand beside it. He reported on the first few hours of the shift, and then asked for permission to leave the bridge.

Luke looked at him curiously, but nodded. “Granted, Commander, just be back before shift change.”

Alec smiled gratefully. “Thank you, sir.”

He had to stop himself from running as he headed for the turbolift. Originally he’d intended to head straight for Magnus’s quarters to confront him about his absence, but now that he’d had a few hours to think it occurred to him that he maybe should check with Catarina Loss to find out if there was anything medically wrong with him. As a good friend of Magnus’s and as the only other Lilian on the ship, she was sure to know, even if she hadn’t been the Chief Medical Officer.

“Ah, Commander Lightwood,” Doctor Loss said as he walked in. “I suppose I should have expected to see you in here this morning.”

Alec blinked at her. “You should have?”

“Let me guess—you want to know why Magnus wasn’t on shift this morning.” Her tone was far too knowing, considering how little Alec interacted with her.

“As his commanding officer, I have a right to know why he’s unable to work as scheduled,” Alec said stiffly.

“Mmm-hmm,” Doctor Loss said, in a way that would have been insubordination from anyone else. “Sure you do. Too bad I’m not going to tell you.”

“You aren’t?” Alec asked. “But you do know what’s wrong?”

She nodded. “I do. But I think he’d rather have the chance to tell you himself.”

“Is he okay?” Alec couldn’t keep the concern out of his voice, and he winced.

Catarina smiled. “There’s nothing physically wrong with him, if that’s what you’re asking. Go, talk to him, lord knows he’s just as much of an idiot as you are.”

“I’m fairly certain calling the First Officer an idiot is insubordination, no matter who you are.”

“Are you going to report me, First Officer?” Doctor Loss challenged, one eyebrow raised. When he didn’t respond, she nodded. “I thought so. Now get out of my office.”

Alec didn’t wait to be told again.

 

“Magnus, it’s me,” Alec said into the intercom outside Magnus’s door when he didn’t open it right away. “It’s Alec.”

The door swished open, and Alec walked in carefully, unsure what to expect. It was dark, and he couldn’t see anyone inside. “Magnus?”

“I’m here.” Magnus’s voice was small and muffled, coming from what seemed to be a pile of padds on the desk. As Alec’s eyes adjusted, he saw a figure slumped against the desk, head buried on his arms.

“Are you all right?” Alec asked, concerned.

Magnus lifted his head slightly. “Do I look all right?”

“Not really,” Alec said, stepping closer. “Is there anything I can do?”

Magnus shook his head. “Can I…? I think I could use a hug.”

“Of course.” Alec took another step forward, spreading his arms slightly. “Whatever you need.”

In one movement, Magnus pulled himself up from the desk and threw himself into Alec’s arms, burying his face in Alec’s neck. Alec brought his arms up around him, holding him close.

“What’s wrong, Magnus?” he asked gently when Magnus neither spoke nor made any movement. Not that Alec minded having him close like this. “What happened?”

Magnus shook his head against Alec’s neck and let out a strangled sob. Alec rubbed his back in what he hoped was a soothing fashion, trying to control his own panic. He and Magnus had been friends basically since they met, and he knew that aside from Catarina he was probably the closest person to Magnus on the ship, but none of that really prepared him for being cried on. Part of him was horrified that Magnus was upset enough to be breaking down like this in front of him; part of him was pleased that Magnus trusted him enough to let him in when he was like this, was willing to seek comfort from him. He wanted to be able to be there for Magnus, even if he knew he could never really give Magnus the love and support he deserved.

“It’s okay, Magnus, I’ve got you,” Alec murmured, leaning his head against Magnus’s. “It’s going to be okay.”

“It’s not,” Magnus said eventually, pulling back just enough to speak. “I don’t want to leave you, Alexander.”

“What? Why would you leave?”

Magnus sighed and stepped back, breaking Alec’s grip. “I think maybe this would be better to discuss sitting down.”

Alec nodded and followed him over to the bed, sitting down next to him when Magnus gestured for him to.

“I got a communique this morning,” Magnus said slowly, looking at his hands. Alec had never seen him like this, shaken and not at all put together. “From Lilia. I know I don’t talk about home much, and maybe I should have, but.” He took a deep breath. “There are things we don’t discuss with outworlders unless it’s absolutely necessary, and this is kind of related to one of those things, so I don’t think I would have mentioned it even if I did like to talk about Lilia. In fact, I think it might actually be illegal for me to tell you, an Idrian citizen, some of the details…”

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to,” Alec said gently.

Magnus shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself. “No, I want to tell you. I want you to know why I—well, why I do the next several things I do. I know we’ve gotten...close, and I don’t want you to think you don’t matter to me. God, Alec, I don’t want to leave you, please believe me.” He squeezed his eyes shut and turned away, taking a few deep breaths. Alec didn’t know what to do or say and so sat there, hands gripping his thighs, feeling utterly useless. Finally, Magnus blinked away a fresh set of tears and turned back to him. His voice, when he spoke, was detached and clinical. “As I’m sure you know, Lilians are a very long-lived species; I’m nearly four hundred of your years old, and still considered to be rather young. You also know that, as a corollary to this lifespan, most Lilians are effectively infertile. What you probably don’t know, since, as I said, we don’t share this with outworlders, is the process by which we do reproduce. Each...Clan, I suppose, has a...there’s not really a word for this in your language, but a King, I suppose, is the closest analogue. Like the Queen of a colony of insects, a Sire, I guess. And then every few hundred years a...I suppose the best word is female? A fertile female is born every few hundred years. They’re kept in the house of the Sire and granted every comfort; usually only at most three exist at a time, per clan. They have one child each every one hundred or so years. The children are placed with a mated couple of infertile society members who are of the Clan, who raise them in what you would recognize as a traditional family unit.

“During the Idrian War—the Lilian war, I suppose, to your people—when you were a mere infant, your parents and those that fought with them slaughtered the rest of my clan, including our Sire, and, we thought, all of our...mothers. The only ones who survived were those, like me, who were off-world at the time of the attacks. Of those, I am the oldest, and the one with a profession considered the least ‘necessary’ by my government.” Magnus took another deep breath. “It has been discovered that there was one mother who survived, and she was carrying the seed of our Sire. I’m being called home to care for the small one until they come of age. In twenty earth years.” Magnus closed his eyes again. “I never thought this would happen, Alexander, you have to know that. If things had progressed normally I wouldn’t have even been eligible to be a father for another three hundred years, and then it’s been more than twenty years since I was told it would never be possible. I can’t refuse, not when this is my only chance to raise a child, but I just—you have to know that if it didn’t absolutely have to be now…”

“Hey,” Alec said gently. “You don’t owe me anything. If this is what you have to do, this is what you have to do.”

“I asked Catarina if she’d help me raise the child here, on the Brooklyn—it’s unusual but not unheard of, for parents to take their small one with them if they work off planet. But she said she wasn’t ready for something like that—not that I am either, but I don’t have a choice. I can’t raise a child by myself on a spaceship—I wouldn’t be able to do my job, and I don’t think the Council would allow it even if I wanted to do that to the poor thing. So I’m going to have to go home, and find a partner, and do the domestic thing. Guess I’ll have to try Starfleet again in a different lifetime,” Magnus said, smiling weakly.

“Wait,” Alec said, thoughts racing. “Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying, here: you’re having a kid, or being given a kid to raise, whatever—you’re getting a baby. And you have to leave because you can’t raise the baby here alone.

“That’s more or less the gist, yes,” Magnus said.

“Why don’t we do it? Does the other parent have to be a Lilian? Because I love kids. I’m good with kids. Ask my sister, I basically raised my baby brother. And everybody says we make a great team.”

“Alec, you can’t be serious—you’re barely twenty-two, you’re the youngest First Officer in Starfleet, I can’t ask you to—our infants are basically the same as yours. Which means being up all night with a screaming baby and all the other awfulness that that entails.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a father, Magnus, and, well, it’s a dream I’d given up on too. I want to do this. If you don’t want to, just tell me, but if you’re worried that I’m just doing this out of some misguided sense of obligation, I’m not. I don’t want you to have to leave a job and a place and people that you love, that’s true, and I don’t want you to be resentful of what should be a wonderful opportunity. But I also really want to be a father, if you’ll let me help you.”

“Alexander,” Magnus said, and then threw his arms around Alec as he started crying again. “Of course I’ll let you, are you serious, oh my god, are you serious?” He sat back, eyes red-rimmed. “Are we really going to do this? We’ll need to get different quarters and there’s so much stuff and I’ll have to see if we can get the child brought to us or if we’ll have to go there—do you think Luke will let us reroute to Lilia? Or we could take a shuttle?”

“I’ll talk to the Captain about it. I have to get back to the bridge soon, anyway. Do you mind if I tell people?”

“No, tell whoever you want, they’ll all find out soon anyway. I’ll start working on finding family quarters for us, you see about getting transport and maybe a little leave? The child will be about six months old, but we’ll probably want some time with them…”

“I’m sure Captain Garroway will do what he can. He likes both of us, and even with this being so sudden, it’s not like we could have given him more notice.”

Magnus nodded. “I don’t know how to thank you, Alec—this is…”

“You don’t have to thank me,” Alec said, a grin spreading across his face. “We’re going to be dads.”

“We’re going to be dads.” Magnus grinned back, looking genuinely happy for the first time since Alec had walked into his room. “We're going to be dads.”

Alec was still grinning as he left the room.

 

“Captain?” Alec approached him immediately on reentering the bridge. “Could I have a word? In private?”

The captain looked up at him in concern. “Everything all right, Commander?”

Alec nodded tightly, aware that Izzy and Clary were both watching him. “Just something I need to discuss with you. It's…somewhat time sensitive.”

Luke nodded and stood, gesturing towards his ready room. “Fairchild, you have the conn.”

“Aye, sir,” Clary said, and Alec saw her giving him a curious look as they walked into her stepfather's office. Well, she'd find out soon enough.

“What's on your mind, Alec?” Luke asked, sitting at his desk. “Is this a personal matter or ship's business?”

Alec took the chair across from him, lacing his hands together in his lap. “Both, sir. Kind of. Um.” he took a breath, knowing that the captain would give him the time he needed to say what he needed to say. “Commander Bane and I are having a child.”

“I know I've told you there's paperwork you needed to fill out before you actually started sleeping with him, Alec! You know the protocol—we can waive some of it maybe since you didn't actively keep it a secret, but Jesus, I can't believe you'd put me into his position—”

“Captain!” Alec interrupted, squeezing his hands together. “I'm not sleeping with him, God, no, we're just good friends! Why does everyone think—never mind. No. I guess I phrased that poorly. Um. Commander Bane is having a child, and I've offered to take on the role of said child's other parent, since he's unattached.”

“You're not sleeping with him?” Luke said incredulously, then waved a hand. “Sorry, wrong part of that to focus on. Commander Bane is having a child? By himself? While attached only to you, who are not having sex with him?”

“You know the Lilians have always kept their reproductive practices a secret,” Alec said, trying to hide how flustered Luke's assumptions had made him. “I don't think it's my place to explain fully. Suffice it to say, Magnus is unexpectedly about to become the legal guardian of a Lilian infant. He wasn't on shift today because he was making arrangements regarding the child's care. We'll need to go to Lilia as soon as possible;  if we could reroute there, it would be ideal, but he and I can take a shuttle if we need to. And we'd like to take paternity leave, but I understand that this is a sudden request and there are channels we should have taken…”

Luke still looked shocked, but he wasn't captain for nothing. “A reroute should be fine, I just got orders to head to that sector anyway—some Admiral needs a ride to his next engagement, and he's been on Talto trying to negotiate a ceasefire. As for the leave, I'll see what I can do. You're right that it's a little late to submit for paternity leave, but I should be able to get you a few weeks off, at least. Is there anything else you need? Fatherly advice?”

Alec smiled. “I may have to take you up on that, sir. Thank you.”

“Do you want to tell the bridge crew, or shall I?”

“I think my sister will kill me if she hears this from anyone but me. Shall I just make an announcement when we go back out there? Or do you want to call a meeting?”

“I think just saying it to everyone on shift should do for now. It's big news for you, but hardly relevant to the rest of the crew.” Luke stood and came around the desk, clapping Alec on the shoulder. “Congratulations, son.”

“Thank you, sir.”

 

Izzy hugged him. He really should have expected it.

“I'm so happy for you, big brother! Why didn't you tell me?” she said, stepping back and smacking his arm.

Alec looked down at her in confusion. “I just found out, Iz, you know I didn't know this morning.”

“Not the baby, Alec, Magnus! Why didn't you tell me you were finally actually dating?”

Alec looked around at the rest of the bridge crew, who were pretending to work while obviously listening in, and spoke as firmly as he could. “We aren't dating.”

“Wait, you're not?” Ensign Kyle asked incredulously. Alec wondered what this helmsman he barely knew was doing speculating on his love life, and apparently the ensign wondered the same, slapping his hand over his mouth. “Sorry, sir.”

“No, Ensign, I'm glad you spoke up,” Alec said, trying to keep the threat out of his voice. From the way Kyle cringed, he hadn't succeeded. “Lieutenant Commander Bane and I are not and have never been in a romantic relationship. We are good friends. We are going to be raising this child together so that Bane does not have to choose between his service and his child, and we will be doing so as friends.” If he said it firmly enough, maybe he could ignore the twist in his gut that said it was a lie. “Does anyone else have any questions?”

Everyone except Isabelle and Captain Garroway looked away. Izzy looked sad, and Luke looked amused. Alec found he couldn’t take even one more minute of it.

“Then I’m going to go make preparations for my child’s arrival. With my friend.” Alec stalked to the turbolift.

As the door shushed closed, he banged his head gently against it. What had he gotten himself into? What was he thinking? It was only going to take three days to get to Lilia, and then he was going to be the father of a six month-old baby. A baby. Magnus’s baby. Of course everyone thought they were a couple—why else would they be having a child together? But they weren’t a couple. Despite the...feelings...that Alec may or may not have had, it just wasn’t possible. Magnus was a Lilian—the fact that they could even be friends was a miracle, given the history of violence between their planets. Alec’s own parents had fought in the last war against them less than twenty years ago. There was no way Magnus would want to be with the descendent of the people who literally committed genocide against his Clan. And it wasn’t like Alec cared what his parents thought, but...he knew he was gay, had for years, but his life was easier if he wasn’t loud about it. Since he didn’t really intend to date anyone, ever, there was no point in bringing it up. People could think what they wanted. He just wished...well, it didn’t matter. He was going to raise this baby with Magnus, and if sometime before the child was grown Magnus wanted to move on and find a real life partner, he would be happy for him. It would hurt like hell, but he’d be happy. Because Magnus deserved to love and be loved by someone. Just...not him.

Chapter Text

Magnus wasn’t sure he’d ever done anything as ridiculously rash as agreeing to let Alec raise a child with him. No, he was sure he'd never done anything as rash. The list of reasons not to escalate their relationship was long even before taking into consideration the needs of a Lilian child, and with that...Magnus should never have agreed. And yet.

It was that “and yet” that he kept coming back to in the hours since Alec had agreed to raise the small one with him. Alec was an Idrian, a race that had been at war on and off with the Lilians for generations, and yet he never treated Magnus any differently than any other member of the crew. Alec was his commanding officer, and yet he never treated Magnus as anything other than an equal. Alec was clearly struggling to reconcile his identity with the beliefs of his people, and yet he never judged or criticized anyone else for their self-expression.

The problem with Alec, Magnus realized, was that while he was on paper the absolute worst choice for a life partner, in reality he had all the traits Magnus found most admirable. So maybe deciding to raise a child together was a big step, but Magnus couldn't bring himself to regret it. He wanted to stay with Alec—had been surprised by the force of that desire—and this not only ensured that in the short term, but much longer term as well.

Cat had laughed when he'd told her about Alec's solution, and had been far less surprised than he would have liked.

“I wondered which of you would come up with that brilliant idea,” she'd said.

“Then why didn't you suggest it?”

“I wasn't going to volunteer the kid for diaper duty! If he wants to be vomited on regularly, that's his decision. Although if you hadn't sworn me to secrecy, I might have suggested it to him when he burst in here in a panic asking me if you were dying. He couldn't even wait until the end of his shift to find out if you were still in one piece.” She'd sounded incredulous.

“He certainly does seem to care, doesn't he?”

“Magnus.” Catarina had sighed. “He's an Idrian. You know they don't fall in love the way we do—I'm not even sure they can fall in love. He's not worth handing your heart to, no matter how apparently caring.”

“It's a little late for that advice, my friend, but I appreciate it nonetheless,” he'd told her.

They'd moved on with the conversation, and eventually he'd found himself where he was now, sitting at his desk filling out all kinds of paperwork, thinking about the real reason it was a terrible-but-wonderful idea to raise a child with Alec: that he was hopelessly in love with him.

The door chimed, and Magnus shot upright. “Come!”

Alec came in, looking sheepish. “Hey, I didn’t know if—well, I figured we probably had more to discuss.”

Magnus smiled, gesturing to his other chair. “I’d say we definitely do. How’d it go with the captain?”

Alec shrugged, sighing and slapping his hands on his legs as he sat down. “Well, it could have been worse. The reroute wasn’t a problem, we should be there in about three days. He said he’d work on the leave, and that he was happy to offer any fatherly advice we might need.”

Magnus snorted. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“Well, he also yelled at me about fraternization regs, and I had to tell the entire bridge crew, who apparently all thought we’d been dating and this was some kind of love child, so, that was less fun. And then Jace caught me as I was coming back here and demanded I tell him everything, because of course Izzy couldn’t keep from sending him a message immediately.” Alec sighed again, rubbing his temples. “Sorry if my family is weird to you over the next few weeks, they’re convinced we’re in love and just keeping it a secret for some reason.”

Magnus forced a laugh. “I think I can handle them, darling.”

“Yeah,” Alec sighed. “Sorry, I know you’ve had a more stressful day than I have. What’ve you got?”

“I think I’ve gotten most of the paperwork filled out for taking our child on board with us, though you’ll need to sign a couple things,” Magnus said, handing him a padd and a stylus. “And I’ve gotten approval from the Council to let us raise the baby here. While they aren’t pleased that you’re an Idrian, there was no legitimate reason for them to deny us. This”—he handed Alec another padd—“is the birth certificate, you’ll need to sign on the other line and then little Max will be ours.”

Alec blinked down at the padd. “I get to be on the birth certificate? As his father? And it’s a boy? And his name is Max?”

“You’re going to be just as much his father as I am. Since, in effect, all our young are what you would consider adopted, traditionally we simply put the names of both guardians on the documentation. What’s the point otherwise?”

Alec shrugged. “I guess I just thought...I don’t know. You’re right, of course. It’s just a big thing.”

Magnus nodded. He’d been feeling the same way all afternoon. “It is. And yes, it’s a boy. I know your brother’s name is Max, and it’s not unheard of for us to change it if we wanted to, but generally the mother selects the name.”

“No, Max is fine! I kind of like it, really. My brother would love to think I named my kid after him, even if I didn’t really.” Alec signed, and set the padds back on the desk. “What about quarters?”

“Ah, well, you know, there aren’t a lot of three bedroom suites on board, and unfortunately all of them are currently assigned. But we can do two bedrooms, right? We can just get two small beds and put them in our room?” Magnus hoped his voice didn’t sound too strained.

Alec nodded. “Yeah, of course. That will probably make things a little easier, really. That way you’ll know I’ve gotten up if he starts crying in the middle of the night or whatever. Or the other way around.”

Magnus nodded, relieved. “Exactly. God, Alec, I’m so glad it’s you I’m doing this with. I don’t know what I’d do otherwise.”

Alec smiled, shaking his head. “I’m always going to have your back, Magnus, don’t worry. Now, what else do we need to do? What about a crib and things?”

“I’ve got just about everything set up—aside from toys and clothes, anyway. I mean, I’ve got some of those, but the way infants grow, you know, and I wanted to give you a chance to look through the replicator catalogue and see if there was anything you thought we should get.”

“I’m sure whatever you’ve picked out is fine, Magnus, he’s your son.”

“He’s just as much your son as he is mine,” Magnus said, nodding to the padd with the birth documents on it. “You signed and everything. He may have my Clan name, but he’s ours. And that means you get as much say in all of this as I do.”

“I can’t believe we’re going to have a baby. In three days.”

“Me neither,” Magnus said, letting himself smile. “But I’m finally starting to get excited. We’re going to have a baby, Alexander. You and me. A child.”

“I know,” Alec said, smiling back. “I can’t believe it. I never thought anything like this would happen for me, with anyone, but now—I’m going to be a dad. With you.” His face flushed slightly, and he looked down at his hands. “I just—I can’t believe it.”

Magnus reached out and touched the back of Alec’s hand. “You’re going to be a wonderful father, Alec.”

“If you say so.” Alec shook his head, looking up to meet Magnus’s eyes. “You’re going to be better.” He turned his hand over, and surprised Magnus by taking his hand and gripping it tightly. “Who am I kidding? We’re gonna be great.”

Magnus laughed, squeezing Alec’s hand. “So, we have three days, you said. Do you want to start moving stuff over tomorrow?”

“Sounds good. Captain Garroway said we could have the next week and a half off for sure, and then he’d get back to us, so we’ll have the time. We’ll probably think of a bunch more things we need while we’re getting everything arranged, so better to do that early and have time to get them so there’s less scrambling last minute.”

Magnus nodded. “Then I guess I’ll see you tomorrow? 0900? We can check out our new home.”

“Great.” Alec smiled and squeezed his hand again before standing up. “See you tomorrow, Magnus.”

Magnus watched him leave, trying to control the pounding of his heart, and wondered how he was going to handle waking up next to this man every day for the foreseeable future without combusting.

Chapter Text

Alec couldn't get himself to hold still. He and Magnus were in a shuttle, waiting for clearance to enter the atmosphere above Lilia. Waiting to go down to the surface and pick up their son.

“Your nerves are shaking the whole shuttle, darling,” Magnus said, looking at Alec's jiggling leg.

“Sorry,” Alec said, although he knew it wasn't true. The stabilizers were designed to combat atmospheric interference, they could deal with his jitters. “It's just—this is really happening.”

“It is terrifying, isn't it? I keep thinking about all the things that could go wrong.”

“What if he doesn't like us? What if we're terrible parents? What if we drop him?”

“Exactly.” Magnus laughed tightly. “He's going to be so tiny and so totally dependent on us.”

“I know!” Alec took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. “I'm excited and scared. I mean, rationally, we're going to be fine. Everybody and their mother—literally, everyone including Clary's mother—has offered to help out when and if we need it, and it's not like we aren't at least as competent as every other set of first time parents. I just can't get myself to internalize that.”

“From the reading I've been doing, a little anxiety is fairly normal, especially in instances in which there hasn't been adequate time to prepare.”

Alec laughed. “Are you saying three days might not have been the ideal amount of warning?”

Magnus smacked him in the shoulder. “It's not like I had any more warning than you, you know. I just have more practice managing nerves.”

“So you are nervous?”

“Of course I'm nervous, Alec, are you joking? I'm about to—”

“Your shuttle has been cleared for entry,” a booming computerized voice interrupted. “Please proceed to landing pad at your convenience.”

Alec looked over at Magnus to see him looking back at him. “Are you ready?”

Magnus nodded. “Let's do this.”

 

Alec had never been to Lilia before, and he hadn't really known what to expect. They'd landed outside one of the Council buildings—since Magnus belonged to a Clan with no Sire, there was no longer a Clan house for the child to be kept at, so the Council had agreed to meet them with Max in the capital city. Magnus lead the way through the complex of ornate buildings, entering a small hall and pausing in front of an engraved door.

“This is it,” Magnus said, taking a deep breath. “No turning back.”

Impulsively, Alec reached out to take Magnus's hand, holding it tightly. “I'm ready.”

Magnus looked down at their joined hands and smiled, pushing the door open with his free hand. The room on the other side was clearly some kind of office, but not like one Alec had ever seen. Bookshelves lining the walls went up at least twenty feet, and the desk looked like it might have been floating. Sitting in an odd-shaped chair was a male Lilian, and in front of him was a covered bassinet.

“Ah, Magnus!” the man said, getting to his feet. “Good to see you under such happy circumstances! How long has it been? Fifty, sixty years?”

Magnus grinned. “Ragnor! I should have known they'd send you. What have you been up to?”

“Oh, you know, this and that.” Ragnor waved a hand dismissively, eyes focused on Alec. “I can see why you'd ignore a little thing like genocide for this tall drink of water, though, goodness me. I didn't know Idrians came that perfect.”

Alec felt blood rush to his face. “Uh, we're not—”

Magnus squeezed the hand he was still holding, and Alec clicked his mouth closed. Magnus smiled sweetly at Ragnor. “He's got his own set of flaws, my friend. Just none of them physical. Now, can we see our baby?”

Ragnor gave them a grin full of teeth. “That is what you're here for, isn't it?” he gestured to the bassinet. “Come see for yourselves.”

Magnus pulled Alec forward, going to lean over the bassinet. He let go of Alec's hand and carefully drew back the covers, revealing a small blue face that blinked up at them with wide eyes. “Hello, Max,” he said gently.

The baby blinked and began to make a quiet mewling noise. Magnus looked at Alec, panic in his eyes, and Alec did the only thing he could think of—he reached into the little basket and lifted Max out, cradling him carefully in his arms.

“Shh, baby, it's okay, we're going to take care of you now,” he murmured, rocking slightly. To everyone's surprise, Max quieted almost immediately, staring up at Alec like he was the most fascinating thing in the universe. Alec stared back. He felt something settle in his chest, around his heart, and he suddenly realized what people meant when they said they bonded with their children instantly. It was like Max was a piece of himself he hadn't known he'd been missing. “Oh,” he said, overwhelmed.

Max closed his eyes and let out a tiny sigh, snuggling as best he could into Alec's chest, and Alec thought his heart had never felt so full. He looked up at Magnus, who was staring at the two of them with the same overwhelming awestruck love in his eyes.

“He likes you,” Magnus said softly.

“I love him,” Alec said hoarsely, surprised to find his eyes filling with tears.

Magnus stepped closer, putting a hand on Alec's shoulder. “He's your son, Alexander, of course you love him.”

Alec gave a watery laugh. “Yeah, I mean, of course. I just didn't expect it to be so sudden. Or so much.

“Can I hold him?” Magnus asked.

Alec nodded, carefully transferring Max to Magnus's arms. “He's beautiful, isn't he?”

“He's a lovely shade of blue,” Magnus agreed, smiling softly down at the baby in his arms. Max had opened his eyes again, and was staring at one of Magnus's glittering earrings. “Does he have any other Marks?”

Alec tore his gaze away from Magnus to look at Ragnor, who seemed amused. “No,” Ragnor said. “He's just blue, for now. Although you know some Marks don't develop until they're a little older.”

“Yeah,” Magnus said, still staring down at their baby. “Is there anything more you need from us before we take him home?”

“You signed everything before you got here, and you have access to his medical records. He doesn't have much in the way of personal effects, but what there is is in that case.” Ragnor pointed to a small suitcase by the door. “The sooner you get out of here, the sooner we all get home, so there's no need to linger.”

Alec picked up the case and turned back to make sure Magnus had Max. Magnus smiled at him, tucking Max's blanket more tightly around him and moving to the door.

“Lovely seeing you, Ragnor,” Magnus called over his shoulder as he walked out.

“Just get that Idrian out of here,” Ragnor called back as they left.

Magnus smiled apologetically at Alec, shrugging as best he could while holding a baby. Alec smiled back and shook his head. It wasn't like he'd expected anything less. If Magnus or Max ever came to Idris it would be much worse than those mild digs.

They got in the shuttle and Alec started the engines. “Have you got him?”

Magnus nodded. “Yeah, we're good. He's really something else, isn't he?”

Alec nodded, taking off and preparing the shuttle to exit the atmosphere. “He's more than I imagined. I held him and just—wow.”

“I know what you mean,” Magnus said. He was staring down at Max, a soft smile playing around his mouth. “I'm so glad you exist, baby. We didn't know what we were missing.”

Alec laughed softly, shaking his head. They were on autopilot back to the Brooklyn, so he turned and held out his arms. “May I?”

Magnus beamed at him, shifting Max into his arms. Max closed his eyes and let out a contented noise as Alec settled him against his chest.

“He really does like you,” Magnus said, eyes soft.

“Well, to be fair, he doesn't know about the history of violence between our peoples,” Alec said wryly.

Magnus winced. “I'm sorry Ragnor was rude about it. You know I wouldn't have agreed to this if I didn't know you disagreed with the reasoning behind the war.”

“Why didn't you want me to tell him we weren't together?” Alec kept his voice neutral, looking down at the baby in his arms.

“It's easier this way.” Magnus sighed. “I told you the Council wasn't pleased about you being little Max's father—well, how do you think they would have looked at just a random Idrian having partial custody of him? I told them you were my partner—which you are, you can't really dispute that—and if they interpreted that romantically, that's not my place to correct.”

“I guess it doesn't really matter.” Alec couldn't bring himself to be upset about anything at the moment, not while staring down at his tiny son. “I could get used to being your partner.”

Magnus beamed. “Good, because you don't get to back out of this now. He's already yours.”

Alec shook his head, smiling and looking down at little Max, who seemed to have fallen asleep in his arms. “I still can't believe it. He's ours.

“Got our names on the birth certificate and everything,” Magnus said warmly, and then grinned. “You are officially the father of my child.”

Alec rolled his eyes, ignoring the warm feeling that gave him. “If that's how you're saying it to everyone, no wonder they all think we're having sex.”

“People are crude. That doesn't make it less true.”

“It's just as true in the reverse, then. You're the father of my child.” Alec smiled, and then groaned. “God, what are my parents going to say?”

“You don't have to tell them.” Magnus looked vaguely uncomfortable.

Alec shook his head. “I wouldn't keep something like this from them, it would be worse in the long run. And I have to tell Max—my brother Max, obviously. And he's only 13, he still lives with them, it wouldn't be fair to ask him to keep it secret.”

“You're not worried they might do something to jeopardize your position, or Max—our Max—'s safety?”

“I'd like to see them try. You know Captain Garroway knows them, he'd never let them get away with any ‘Fleet nonsense. And I would never let anyone hurt our son,” Alec said fiercely. His mouth quirked up on mine side. “I like that, though. ‘Our Max’, ‘our son’. He is ours, isn't he?”

The uneasy expression cleared from Magnus's face, and he smiled. “He really is.”

They docked in the shuttlebay without incident, heading back to their new quarters together. They'd been moving in over the last few days, but tonight was the first night they'd actually be sleeping there. Their first night together as a family.

Alec laid Max (who was still sleeping) down in his new crib and turned to Magnus with an uncertain smile. “So far, so good, right?”

Magnus nodded, dropping Max's bag and stepping closer. “I really want to hug you right now.”

“You can,” Alec said, opening his arms. “You don't have to ask.”

Magnus stepped into his arms, wrapping his arms around him. “I'm trying to be respectful of your boundaries,” he said into Alec's shoulder.

Alec smiled even though he knew Magnus couldn't see it. “I don't have a lot of boundaries when it comes to you.”

“Don't tempt me, darling,” Magnus said, stepping away from him. He moved over to their son's crib, looking down at the sleeping infant. Alec came up behind him and rested a hand on his shoulder. Magnus looked at him and smiled, leaning a little against him. “I am glad it's you I'm doing this with,” he said softly. “Thank you, Alec.”

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity,” Alec said sincerely. Magnus had no need to thank him. It was Alec who'd had the most to lose when he made the offer. The chance to have a family with the man he lo—cared for, even if it wasn't quite the way he would've...anyway, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Magnus was going to have had this baby with or without him, and Alec knew there were millions of better qualified potential coparents in the galaxy.

Magnus just shook his head, raising his hand to cover the one Alec still had on his shoulder. They stood there together for a long moment, just staring at their baby.

“He's going to be hungry when he wakes up,” Alec said eventually. “And we probably shouldn't let him sleep all day or we'll never get any sleep tonight.”

“According to the research I've been doing, he should be old enough to sleep through the night,  at least mostly,” Magnus said.

“Yeah, but he's also adjusting to a ten hour time difference. I say we wake him if he's still asleep in an hour.”

“We'll see. I think you'll look at him and decide he's too adorable to disturb.”

“We'll see if you still think he's adorable when he's screaming his head off at two in the morning and you have to be the one to get him a bottle because you didn't listen to me now.”

Magnus turned to face him, rolling his eyes. “You're going to be an absolute menace, aren't you?”

“Too bad you already said you were happy to have me be your coparent.” Alec grinned.

Magnus sighed, shaking his head. “I guess I'm stuck with you.”

There was a chime as someone requested entry. Alec glanced at Magnus, who shrugged. Alec went back out into the main room and said, “Come!”

Izzy burst in the door, grinning like a loon. “Well?” she asked. “Is he here? Is he the most beautiful baby you've ever seen?”

“Keep your voice down, Iz, he's asleep!” Alec chastised.

“Not anymore!” Magnus called from the bedroom as a small wail started. “Shhh, baby, we'll get you food in just a minute. Alec!”

Alec gave Izzy a look and then ran into Max's room, where Magnus was holding the crying baby and trying to rock him, looking completely out of his depth. “What can I do?”

“Would you get him a bottle? Please?”

Alec nodded, heading back into the common room where the replicator was, ordering Lilian formula and ignoring Isabelle, who was sitting on the couch looking awkward. Or, well, as awkward as Izzy got. He grabbed the bottle and went back into the bedroom, passing it to Magnus. Max reached toward the bottle with his little hands and started sucking eagerly when Magnus placed it in his mouth.

“Thank god,” Magnus said. “Sorry I panicked.”

“I left you alone for three seconds and the baby started crying, I think you get a pass on panicking. The first time.”

Magnus smiled at him, bouncing Max gently. “Do I get to blame your sister this time and use my free pass later?”

“Sure,” Alec said, smiling back. “I think she wants to meet the little guy.”

Magnus nodded and set the empty bottle in the recycler. “I'm not surprised. I figured we'd be getting some visitors in the next couple days, although I did hope most of them would be polite enough to wait until we'd been back with Max for at least an hour.”

“I'm just grateful it's only Izzy, and not Captain Garroway or something.” Alec couldn't say he was that surprised, honestly. It wasn't like Izzy hadn't known when they were going to get him, and of course she'd want to see the baby immediately.

“Luke did say he'd stop by later just to see how we were doing. But since he asked, I could ask him not to come before 1600,” Magnus said with a pointed glance toward the living room. “Which won't be for a few hours yet. Time enough for us to have gotten through the first few parenting scares.”

“Yeah,” Alec smiled and shook his head, leaning over the baby in Magnus's arms. “Well? Do you want to meet your aunt, Max?”

Max babbled at him happily, and Alec grinned, looking up at Magnus to find him smiling at the baby with such fondness that it made Alec's heart clench. Alec closed his eyes in a slow blink, straightening, and led the way to the living room.

Izzy shot to her feet the moment the door slid open. “Do I get to see him now?”

“Unless you're suddenly struck blind,” Alec said.

Magnus stepped toward her, Max held securely in his arms. “Isabelle, I'd like you to meet Max Bane.”

She came forward and looked down into Max's little blue face. She held a hand out towards him cautiously, moving it closer when he reached toward it. He grabbed her little finger in his tiny fist and waved it in triumph, and Alec saw his normally fierce sister melt. “Aren't you the cutest little blue baby in the galaxy,” Izzy murmured, leaning closer. “Yes you are!”

Max burbled happily, smiling up at her and waving her finger some more. Magnus was smiling stupidly, and Alec was pretty sure his face looked about the same. This felt right in a way that nothing had in a long time, standing next to Magnus and their son, his sister smiling and making the baby laugh. Add his brothers to the room and that would be all the family Alec needed.

Ignoring the tiny voice that said Magnus wasn't really family, Alec spoke to Izzy, “He seems to like you.”

“I think he has a thing for Lightwoods,” Magnus grumbled.

“Then he has excellent taste,” Izzy said. “He's such a pretty baby, isn't he? Look at those eyes.”

“He's going to be a knockout like his father,” Magnus said.

“I assume you're talking about yourself,” Alec said, feeling his cheeks warm.

Magnus rolled his eyes. “Well, darling, if you insist, I suppose I'll take the compliment.”

“You two are ridiculous,” Izzy said, looking up from Max to give Alec a pointed glare. “But you have a cute baby, so I guess I'll have to tough it out.”

“Wow, Iz, that's pretty low.” Alec said. “Besmirching me, your favorite brother, in front of my impressionable son.”

“Just calling it like I see it,” Isabelle said, grinning. “And who says you're my favorite brother?”

“You did! I have the ‘number one brother’ mug to prove it!”

“I was eleven! Maybe things have changed.”

Max whined, clearly unhappy about the raised voices, and let go of Izzy's hand to flail unhappily.

“Shh, sweetheart,” Magnus said, stepping away from Isabelle and leaning down over the baby. “It's okay. Daddy and his sister aren't really fighting, they just get loud.”

“Daddy?” Izzy asked, raising an eyebrow and looking between them.

“We decided I'd be Dad and Magnus would be Papa,” Alec explained.

“That's adorable,” Izzy said.

Max had calmed down, distracted, and was now trying to grab Magnus's ear. Magnus winced as he pulled on an earring and straightened up so they were out of reach.

“Can I hold him?” Isabelle asked.

Magnus exchanged a glance with Alec before nodding. “Sure. Just make sure you support him.”

“I have held a baby or two before, I think I'll be okay.” She held out her arms, and Magnus carefully placed Max in them. Izzy beamed down at him. “Hey, buddy.”

Max patted her on the cheek and babbled back, looking perfectly happy in her arms.

“By the angel,” she said, sounding awed

“That was pretty much Alec's reaction to holding him, too,” Magnus said.

“And it wasn't yours?” Alec countered.

“I may have been somewhat awed,” he admitted. “But at least I didn't burst into tears.”

“I'm not crying,” Izzy said.

“No, but your brother was.”

Izzy laughed. “Why am I not surprised? He always was the sappy one.”

“We'll see how you do when you hold your own child for the first time,” Alec said. “It was a big moment for me.”

“I think I might leave the babies to you boys and just be the cool aunt who plays with them and gets to hand them back when they get fussy.”

“And I'm sure you wouldn't want to ruin that perfect figure,” Magnus said, looking her up and down.

Alec smacked him on the shoulder. “That's my little sister you're talking about.”

Izzy raises her eyebrows at him. “So he's not allowed to find me attractive? I thought you were ‘just friends’?”

“We are,” Alec said, for what felt like the millionth time. “Friends aren't supposed to flirt with their friend's little sister right in front of them. It's weird.”

“Sorry, darling,” Magnus said. “I swear I flirt in jest. Not that you aren't beautiful, Isabelle.”

Izzy shook her head. “I know I'm gorgeous, don't worry. As lovely as you are, I'm not interested, even if you were. I've got my sights set elsewhere.”

“And how are things going with the lovely Lieutenant Fairchild?” Magnus asked, feigning innocence.

Izzy, to Alec's surprise, blushed. “They're going.”

“You didn't tell me you were dating Clary,” Alec said, a little hurt.

“I'm not! Not really. Not yet, anyway,” Izzy said, suddenly very focused on the baby in her arms. “And it's not like you talk to me about your love life.”

“That's because I don't have a love life, Iz, we've been through this.”

“Whatever,” she said, and then sighed. “Well, I'm supposed to be working, so I'd probably better get back to the bridge. Lovely to meet you, Max, I hope we get lots more time together in the future.”

Alec took Max from her, and she squeezed his arm supportively before taking off. Max stared after her for a second before turning and burying his face into Alec's chest.

“Hey, buddy, are you okay?” Alec asked.

“He's probably tired,” Magnus said, coming closer and touching Max's face gently. “The poor thing has had an awful lot of upheaval in one day. Let's let him sleep, at least until Luke gets here.”

“Yeah, okay. I really just wanted to make sure he got to eat before it got too late.”

They went back into Max's room and Alec laid him down. Max made a half-hearted grab for Alec's face, but he yawned immediately after, and in a few minutes his eyelids had slid closed as he fell asleep.

“So far, so good, right?” Magnus said as they went back into the common room.

Alec nodded, collapsing onto the couch. “He hasn't done much but sleep, so far.”

Magnus sat next to him, leaning against his side. “True.”

Alec folded an arm around Magnus's shoulders, letting him rest more heavily against him and taking comfort in the proximity. Magnus shifted to throw his arm over Alec, and they sat there cuddled together for a long time.

 

By the time Luke arrived, Max had woken up and been changed, fed, and burped. The three of them were sitting together on the couch as Alec read aloud to Max when the door chimed and the captain came in.

“Well, don't you make a cozy little family,” Luke said, smiling broadly. “How is he?”

Magnus stood, picking Max up off Alec's lap and going to show him to the captain. “He's perfectly healthy and perfectly cute, of course.”

Luke smiled down at the baby in Magnus's arms, waving the fingers of the hand that wasn't holding a stack of padds. Max giggled, and Alec came over to stand at Magnus's side so he could admire him. Admire Max, that is.

“I wouldn't expect anything less. He is your son, after all.”

Magnus grinned. “He is at that.”

“I'm still having trouble with the idea that he's ours,” Alec said. “A week ago we didn't even know he existed, and now we have a son.

“Still feels a little like you might wake up out of a dream, right?” Luke smiled and shook his head. “I can't imagine what that must be like, but I do remember the first time Clary called me ‘dad’ instead of Uncle Luke, and I imagine it must be some of the same feeling.”

“Yeah, it's—it's really something else, isn't it? I didn't expect to get so attached so quickly.”

“By ‘attached quickly’ he means, of course, that he picked Max up and immediately started crying because he loved him so much,” Magnus said, and Luke laughed.

“You're never going to let me live that down, are you?” Alec turned to look at Luke. “I have an emotional bonding moment with our child, and he teases me about it all day, as if he wasn't equally choked with emotion at the time.”

“See, I, unlike you, did not burst into tears. And therefore I, unlike you, get to make fun of you for it.”

Luke shook his head, grinning in amusement. “I think I have to give Magnus this one, Alec. Not that there's anything wrong with being emotional, of course. Lord knows Clary has brought me to tears often enough.”

“I thought it was sweet,” Magnus added.

Alec's face got hot, and he looked down. “Yeah, well, you know.”

“So,” Luke said. “How's it going so far?”

Alec smiled, grateful for the subject change. “Actually surprisingly okay. He's a remarkably calm little guy, especially given such a big change.”

“He seems to have attached himself to us pretty much right away,” Magnus said. “Which I've read is fairly normal with Lilian infants, but I wasn't sure how that would translate to Alec, since he's not Lilian. But, if anything, he seems to like Alec more.”

“Is that jealousy I hear?” Luke joked.

Magnus smiled and shook his head. “Maybe. But I'm sure I'll win him over with time.”

Luke nodded. “I'm glad it's going smoothly.”

“For now,” Alec said. “I still can't help but think about all the ways this could go wrong.”

“And now you're talking like a parent,” Luke said fondly. “I'm afraid that doesn't go away, no matter how old they get.” He shook his head. “You're doing just fine.”

“We've only had him for four hours,” Magnus pointed out. “And most of that time he's been asleep. I think we'd have had to try to mess something up.”

“He's not asleep now,” Luke said, and as if to illustrate that point, Max flailed his arms. “And he's not crying or acting upset, so you must be doing something right.”

“I guess,” Alec said.

“Am I the first person to come and visit?” Luke asked.

“No, Isabelle stopped by on her lunch break,” Magnus said. “She wanted to get the first look at her new nephew, I think.”

“And Jace said he'd be by this evening, because unlike Izzy he understood that we might want a few hours to adjust before people descended on us.”

“They are your family,” Luke said. “I can understand why they'd be eager to meet the newest addition to the crew.”

“I'm glad they want to be involved,” Magnus said, looking up at Alec. “It's good for our little blueberry to have more family than just the two of us.”

“And speaking of you all being family, I brought some more paperwork for you to fill out.” Luke said, holding a padd out to Alec.

Alec took it from him, stopping when he recognized the form. “Luke, I told you, we aren't—”

Luke held up a hand to stop him. “Look. I don't care if you are or if you aren't. You can swear to me that you're both aromantic asexuals if you want to. But the fact remains that you're his commanding officer, Alec, and the two of you are living together and raising a child together. The purpose of the regulations is to prevent individuals from abusing their influence over each other—which, given the circumstances, you can't deny you have. I don't know what you guys are calling this, but I don't want it coming back to bite anyone in the ass later.” His expression softened. “Look, it's just a form. Filling it out doesn't mean you're suddenly required to change anything, or be in an exclusive relationship, or anything at all. It means when some admiral starts breathing down my neck about my first officer having a child with the chief of communications, I have some paperwork that saves you both from a court martial.”

“It can't hurt to fill it out, can it?” Magnus asked quietly, bumping Alec's arm with his shoulder. “Luke's right, it won't change anything. And it saves us from having to explain over and over again that we aren't Max's biological parents. I know you're...not comfortable with homosexuality, but honestly, it's what people are thinking anyway.”

“I don't have a problem with homosexuality,” Alec said, although that was where some of his hesitation was coming from, if not, perhaps, in the way Magnus was thinking. “It just feels dishonest.”

“Look,” Luke said. “The form doesn't say you are in a relationship. In fact, you're supposed to fill it out before you get into a relationship. It just says that if you were in a relationship, you would both be aware of your influences over each other and that you would swear to put the interests of the Fleet first. That's all. If it helps you to think of that as hypothetical, that's up to you.”

Alec sighed. “Fine, you're right. Sorry.”

“If you're worried about this getting back to your parents…” Luke said, watching Alec sign.

“No, Magnus is right, it's what they'll think anyway.” He rolled his eyes, setting the padd down and going to take Max from Magnus. “At least they can't cry at me about how I'm not giving them any grandchildren.”

Magnus snorted, signing the form and handing it back to Luke. “I'm still not sure how pleased they'll be about the fact that said grandchild is Lilian.”

Luke looked between the two of them sympathetically. “Well, if you do need any help with them, you know Jocelyn and I are always here for you.”

“Thanks, Luke. That means a lot,” Alec said sincerely.

“Well, I won't take any more of your time,” Luke said, clapping Alec on the shoulder and nodding to both Magnus and Max. “Lovely to meet the little man, best of luck to you both. You make sure to let us know if you need anything—anything at all. I remember when Clary was this age…” He shook his head. “Well, you'll see.”

“Thank you,” Magnus said. “For everything.”

“You're going to be great at this, don't worry,” Luke said, smiling as he left them alone.

Chapter Text

When Jace came in late that evening, the first thing he did was fold Alec into a hug. “Bro, I'm so happy for you.”

Alec hugged him back tightly. “Thanks.”

Jace stepped back, looking around eagerly. “So? Where's the little guy? I'm sorry I couldn't come by earlier, we were picking up this ridiculous ambassador and every message had to be translated through Taltan because of their security screens and since our regular head translator was off having a baby, I had to do the whole thing myself. I hate Taltan.”

“So sorry I put my son before your desire to not do your job,” Magnus said cheekily, coming out of Max's room. “And he's out like a light, so if you want to see him, please do so quietly.”

“Izzy woke him up earlier,” Alec explained. “It wasn't very fun for Magnus.”

“You left me alone with him and he started screaming!” Magnus said emphatically, and then clapped a hand over his mouth. “Shit,” he added more quietly.

They all stood silently, waiting to hear a cry, but thankfully Max didn't wake up.

Alec let out a breath. “You want to see him?”

“I promise to be quiet,” Jace said, nodding.

Alec led him into Max's room, leaning over the crib to look down at his sleeping son. Jocelyn had given them a small stuffed bear, and Max was cuddled up to it, his tiny blue hand wrapped around the bear's black ear. Alec was definitely going to save the footage of this.

Jace came to stand beside him, one hand on Alec's shoulder and one on the side of the crib. “He's blue,” he said in surprise, voice low so as not to disturb him.

“Doctor Loss is blue, too,” Alec pointed out, equally quietly.

“I know, I just—I guess I figured he'd look more like Magnus.”

“Apparently that's not how Lilian genetics work. Magnus says it's possible he'll grow wings or horns as he gets older.”

“Can you imagine having a kid who could fly? That would be pretty awesome,” Jace said.

“Until he gets up somewhere where we can't get him down. Or falls. Or flies off and gets lost, or stuck, or—”

“I get it, there would be drawbacks. But I still think it'd be badass.”

“Then you can have a kid with that Seelie you've been eyeing, I've heard wings are pretty common for them.”

“Meliorn? I wouldn't say I'm eyeing him, exactly, not that I'd say no if he offered,” Jace said, sounding surprised that Alec would bring it up. “Anyway, I'm not intending to pop any tiny living beings out my vagina, thank you. Maybe I'll adopt a winged baby though—I'll let you tell me how bad it is, first.”

“I hope to have no information on winged toddlers to provide you,” Alec said, “but I'll let you know how the fatherhood thing goes.”

“I can't believe you're a dad, dude. Like, that's your baby.”

“I know,” Alec said. “I can't believe it either. What am I supposed to tell Mom and Dad?”

“I have no clue.” Jace shook his head. “They're gonna be pissed, though. And his name is Max.”

“I know,” Alec groaned. “But I can't just not tell them. I mean, he's my son. He's their grandson, even if that disgusts them.”

“Then just tell them. There's not a lot they can do to us out here. If they never want to see him, that's their loss.”

Alec nodded. “Would you—would you be with me? When I talk to them?”

“Of course, Alec, I'm happy to. You know I'll support you no matter what, right?” Jace squeezed his shoulder and stepped away from the crib. “Should we just get it over with? You know the longer you wait the more upset they'll be.”

“And the more I'll build it up in my head.” Alec followed him out into the common room, looking to Magnus sitting on the couch. “We're going to tell our parents about Max.”

Magnus raised an eyebrow. “Right now? Are you sure?”

Alec nodded. “I'd rather do it now than later, and I am going to do it. They're my parents, Magnus.”

Magnus sighed. “I know.”

“I swear to you that I would never ever let anyone do anything to hurt him, Magnus,” Alec said earnestly. “If they're rude to me, that's one thing, but if they ever did anything to threaten Max's safety, or yours, I wouldn't hesitate to take the steps necessary to stop them.”

“And as much as they can be dicks, they're still people,” Jace said. “They've done a lot of shitty things, but I really don't think they'd deliberately hurt Alec's baby.”

“I know,” Magnus said again. “I still don't like it, but go ahead.” He stood up. “I'll be in our room if you need me,” he added as he passed Alec.

Alec nodded, watching as the door to their room shut behind him, and then walked over to the screen on the desk to make the call.

“‘Our room’?” Jace asked, with a raised eyebrow.

“Shut up,” Alec muttered.

Jace raised his hands in surrender, coming to stand behind Alec so he'd be in the picture too. “Are you ready?”

“As I'll ever be, I guess.” Alec took a deep breath, and then pressed the buttons to make the call, holding his breath while it connected.

“Alexander!” His father's face filled the viewscreen, a surprised smile on his face. “And Jace! To what do we owe this pleasure?”

Alec did his best to smile back, although he felt sick to his stomach. “Is Mom around? I...have something I need to tell you guys, and I think it'd be easier to do just once. Max, too, if he's there.”

“Is everything all right?” Robert's voice was instantly concerned.

“Yeah, no, we're all fine! It's, um, it's good news. I think.”

Robert looked at both of them skeptically, but nodded. “I'll be right back.”

They heard him calling for Maryse and Max from off-screen. Jace squeezed Alec's shoulder gently. “You okay?” he asked under his breath.

Alec nodded as Robert appeared back on the viewscreen.

“They're on their way,” he said.

“Good,” Alec said, anxiety making his voice higher than it normally would be. He was grateful for the anchoring weight of Jace's hand on his shoulder and the knowledge that Magnus was just on the other side of a door.

Maryse's dark head appeared in the frame. “What's going on, Alec?”

“Is Max coming?” Alec hesitated.

“I'm here,” his little brother said, popping into the corner of the frame. “Dad said you had news?”

Alec took a deep breath and let it out. They were just his parents and baby brother. It wasn't that big of a deal. He felt Jace squeeze his shoulder again and he focused on that, ignoring the way his pulse was beating in his throat. “Well,” he said. “Um. So.” He shook his head, taking another breath. “Mom, Dad, Max, I'm calling because I've gotten a wonderful opportunity and decided to embrace it.”

His mother nodded encouragingly, Max looked confused, and his dad looked suspicious. Alec just didn't know how to say it.

“One of my friends on the ship recently found out they were going to have a child,” he said after a pause. “And since they didn't have a partner with whom to raise them, I've volunteered to be the child's other father. I have a son,” he said more firmly. “His name is Max, just like yours, Max. He's a six month old Lilian child, and he's mine as of today.”

His family stood frozen in shock on the other side of the viewscreen before exploding into noise.

Maryse said, “His other father?”

At the same time as Robert said, “A Lilian? Is this ‘friend’ a Lilian too?”

At the same time as Max said, “Max? Like me? You named him after me?”

“Yes, his other father is a male Lilian, and, well, Max, we didn't really get to pick the name but we did like that it was the same as yours. I hoped you'd appreciate it.”

Max nodded, smiling, but Robert and Maryse were less enthused.

“I don't understand any of this,” Robert said.

“I can't believe you'd give your brother's name to a Lilian,” Maryse said

“I told you, we didn't pick the name,” Alec said. “That's not how Lilians do that. And if I had, so what? You have a problem with me naming my son after my brother?”

“Your son? You're telling me you've been fucking some Lilian whore and just decided not to tell us that she'd gotten pregnant?”

“Hey, now,” Jace said.

Alec closed his eyes and took a breath through his nose. “I didn't get anyone pregnant. I really can't get into the specifics, but Magnus, my friend and coparent, is a man, and this is our baby by Lilian law. We only found out about him three days ago, and I'm sorry if giving you guys a call so you could shout transphobic, homophobic, and racist comments at me wasn't my first priority. I had other things on my mind, like, I don't know, preparing to be a father in three days. I called you as soon as everything was settled.”

“How can you say that? You know we've always been supportive of your brother's transition—” Maryse started.

“Yeah, and you just said ‘she’ when he'd made it clear we were talking about a man because you assumed he meant a person with a uterus,” Jace said, venom in his tone. “So you can shove it, honestly.”

“Honey, we'd never say anything like that about you,” she said.

Jace raised his eyebrows. “Is that supposed to make me feel better? ‘Oh, people like you are invalid, but you, we love you, so we'll pretend to be less hateful’. Hang up on them, Alec, we don't need to hear this nonsense.”

“Wait,” Robert said, glaring at his wife. “We're sorry for reacting so strongly. We just need some time to get used to the idea…”

“What idea?” Alec demanded. “The idea that you have a grandchild? Because that's the only thing that should take some adjustment. I'm sorry, Max, but I can't listen to any more of this.” Alec cut the connection, breathing hard. “Are you okay?” he asked Jace, turning around.

“Yeah,”Jace said, shaking his head. “God, though, Angels, what the actual fuck.”

“I know, God, I did not realize they were going to be that bad or I wouldn't have asked you to stay with me.”

“Are you kidding me?” Jace said incredulously. “And make you sit through that alone? No fucking way, dude.”

“Well, at least it's done now,” Alec said. “They know, for better or for worse.”

Alec's personal padd chimed with a message, and he picked it up to read it. “Max says he's ‘super happy’ for me and he loves the name. And that he's sorry about Mom and Dad, but he'll ‘work on them’.”

“He shouldn't have to,” Jace said. “God, I wish we could take him with us.”

“Me too,” Alec said, tapping out a reply telling Max they loved him and not to worry too much about correcting their parents. “I can't imagine living with them without you and Izzy.”

“He'll be all right,” Jace said confidently. “He's a good kid, and we may not be there with him physically, but he's got all of us to look up to when they try to fill his head with hateful nonsense.”

“I can't imagine being that awful to my child, no matter what he ever does.” Alec set the padd down and stood up, needing to move to get the anger out of his system.

“Then you're already a step ahead of them.” Jace sighed. “Look, I know that wasn't...great. But look on the bright side—you've got a beautiful kid and an amazing partner and you've got all the rest of us who love you, here, and the only people who should love you but don't seem to are hundreds of lightyears away.”

“I love you, you know that, right?”

Jace smiled and pulled him into a hug. “I love you too, brother. You're gonna be such a great dad.”

Alec nodded, swallowing his uncertainty, and stepped back. “It's getting late,” he said. “And we're both going to have long days tomorrow.”

“You're right, not that it'll be easy to sleep tonight.” Jace sighed. “Goodnight, Dad.”

Alec rolled his eyes, half shoving him out the door. “Goodnight, my brother.”

The door slid closed and Alec leaned against it, gathering his courage to face Magnus after that awful conversation. In all the excitement of the day, he'd nearly forgotten that they were going to have to share a room, but now that reality loomed in front of him as another nigh insurmountable obstacle.

He knocked on the door to the bedroom. “Magnus?”

“Come in!”

Alec opened the door to find Magnus already dressed for bed, make up gone, sitting on the edge of his bed reading from his padd. “Uh, so Jace left.”

Magnus looked up, setting the padd down on the table between their beds. “I figured. How bad was it?”

“Worse than I expected,” Alec admitted, sitting on his own bed facing Magnus. The room hadn't really been designed for two beds, so there wasn't much space between them—he could reach out and touch Magnus's bed without even leaning forward much. Lying down he wouldn't even have to stretch to touch him, which was not a train of thought he needed to be following right now. “They made some pretty awful comments. But they didn't threaten us, or anything. They were just pretty angry and disgusted.”

“Ah, ‘just’ angry and disgusted, how lovely,” Magnus said sarcastically.

“They also were pretty awful to Jace, and he was just standing there. I don't think they meant to be, but that's...kind of worse.” Alec shook his head. “But they know now. And Max says he's proud to share a name with our son.”

“That's good,” Magnus allowed. “Alexander...I am sorry about your parents. I know we were never going to get along, but I wish they were there to support you.”

“Me too,” Alec said. He stood and walked over to the closet, pulling out pajamas. “But it doesn't change anything. I've got all the family I need right here on the Brooklyn, and so does Max.”

He took his pajamas to the bathroom to wash up and change for bed. Today had been ridiculously long and emotional, and, like Jace had said, no matter how tired he was, it was going to be hard to get any sleep tonight.

When he got back to the bedroom, Magnus was lying down, already under the covers, with the lights at 50%. “Feel free to turn the lights back up if you need them.”

“No, I'm fine,” Alec said, tossing his clothes in the hamper in the closet and climbing into his own bed. “Computer, lights to 5%.” The room darkened almost completely, leaving just enough light for Alec to be able to make out Magnus's outline as he rolled over. “Is that too much light for you?”

“It's fine,” Magnus said. He rolled over again, facing Alec, and then sighed. “This is weird.”

Alec laughed. “Yeah, a little. Like, are we supposed to talk? I've never shared a room before except when we were on vacation, but Mom was always getting on Izzy and Jace's case for staying up talking when they shared a room as kids.”

“We can talk if you want to. I know it's late, but I don't think I'll be able to sleep for awhile.”

“Me neither.” Alec sighed, thinking about the conversation he'd just had with his parents. “Do you think—nevermind.”

“No, what is it?” He heard more than saw Magnus shift toward him.

“I just can't help thinking about my parents,” Alec said. “Do you think they'll ever forgive me? Not that I did anything wrong, but…”

“Oh, Alexander,” Magnus said, reaching a hand out toward him. Alec took it in his, and they let their hands hang linked between their beds. They were so close that it wasn't uncomfortable, just reassuring. “I wish I could tell you that they would. I wish you had parents who were good enough to love you for doing such a good and selfless thing instead of hating you for being kind to someone from another planet.”

Alec squeezed his hand. “You make me sound like such a saint. I'm getting something out of this too, you know.”

“Yeah, a too-small bed in a shared room and a ton of extra responsibility. With the added bonus probable piercing cries in the middle of the night.”

Alec rolled his eyes, although it was probably too dark for Magnus to see it. “You make the prospect of fatherhood sound so lovely.”

“He is awfully precious, isn't he?” Magnus said fondly. “I know I've been teasing you about it all day, but that imprinting rush is really something else.”

“So it was something more than just me being sappy!”

Magnus grinned, teeth shining white in the darkness. “It's actually a mild telepathic bond. It's how our children know who their parents are, when they don't meet them at birth.”

“How does it work?” Maybe he should have been concerned, but mostly Alec was relieved that there was an actual explanation for that sudden rush of emotion.

“No one's really sure. Sometimes it doesn't happen; sometimes it happens later. The going theory is that the baby recognizes your intent to care for it, and it releases a flood of pheromones that help create a bond between parent and child. I wasn't kidding when I said I was surprised it worked so well on you, though—there haven't been many Lilian children raised from infancy by outworlders, and as far as I'm aware you're the first Idrian.”

“Really? The first ever?”

“Well, our planets have only been in contact for the last five hundred years, most of that time has been spent at war with each other, and only one or two children are born in any given year, so I don't really know when you thought it would have happened before.”

“That's still so strange for me to think about. I mean, it makes sense, since you guys live to be like 2000 or whatever, but it's really weird to think that none of you grew up with siblings. Like, you know, Izzy and Jace and Clary were all born the same year, and they're all Idrian. And that's more Idrians born in the same year on our crew than the total number of Lilians born in a year.”

“It is interesting,” Magnus agreed. “I've often wondered why we evolved in such similar but radically different ways. Why my people would be so long-lived compared to yours.”

“I think it's probably too late for me to contemplate the cosmos in quite that way.” Alec yawned. “We really should try to sleep.”

“You're right,” Magnus said, squeezing Alec's hand once before taking his arm back and tucking it under the blanket. “Who knows how long we have before the small one needs attention, after all.”

Alec slid his own newly released arm under his pillow and sighed. “Yeah. Goodnight, Magnus.”

“Goodnight, Alexander.”

Despite his anxiety, Alec fell asleep as soon as he closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

The third morning after bringing Max home, Magnus woke to the sound of the door chime being pressed repeatedly.

“Who could that be?” Alec asked, blinking sleepily as he sat up.

“I'm going to kill them, so I really hope it isn't one of your siblings,” Magnus said.

“I'll go find out what they want.” Alec stood and stretched, t-shirt riding up over the sweatpants he slept in.

Magnus watched him walk out the door, sighing to himself before getting out of bed and heading to the bathroom to make himself presentable. No matter who was visiting, they weren't going to be going back to sleep any time soon.

There were still voices coming from the common room once he was dressed, so clearly Alec hadn't been able to get rid of whoever had decided 0630 was an acceptable time to come calling on two people on leave. Magnus took a breath, checked his reflection once more in the mirror, and went out to face the day.

Alec was standing in the middle of the living area, facing Magnus over the back of the couch where two men were sitting. He looked frustrated, arms crossed over his chest, but his face lit up when he saw Magnus. “Magnus! I thought maybe you'd gone back to sleep. This man”—he waved a hand at one of the people on the couch—“is trying to convince me that he's your brother, even though I know for a fact that you don't have any siblings and he's Nosferan. I can't actually kick him out of our quarters because he's an admiral, but I'd appreciate it if you got whatever this is straightened out.”

Magnus walked quickly around the couch, staring in shock at the man Alec had indicated. “Raphael? What are you doing here?”

Raphael rolled his eyes. “Diplomatic nonsense as usual, of course. I only just found out you were assigned to this vessel, and I have to say, I'm quite hurt you didn't tell me you'd decided to shack up with an Idrian after all the grief you gave me about Simon here.”

“I'm not required to share every detail of my personal life with you just because I saved your life once,” Magnus said defensively. “And we are not ‘shacking up’. Alec is just helping me raise my child.”

“Your child?” Raphael leaned forward in interest. “But you Clan was destroyed, how can you—and how could you not tell me about your child?

“I was going to! We've only had him for three days, okay, give me a break, you haven't called in more than a year, I'm allowed to take three days before telling you I had a son with an Idrian.” Magnus rolled his eyes. “And it's nice to see you, Stephen, have you had a chance to see Clary while you're here?”

“It's, uh, Simon. But you know that,” Simon said. “And, yeah, it's been great getting to see her. It's such a coincidence that we ended up on a ship with both of you guys.”

“Okay, I'm confused,” Alec said, uncrossing his arms and stepping forward. “You”—he pointed at Simon—“know Clary? And you”—he gestured between Magnus and Raphael—“are close somehow?”

“Clary and I grew up together on Earth,” Simon said. “I'm only a quarter Nosferan, which is why Magnus was weird about me dating Raph at first.”

“That is not at all why!” Magnus said. “I was ‘weird’ about it because you were barely eighteen and he's 85! And you were working for him!”

“Like I told you,” Raphael said to Alec, “Magnus is like a brother to me. I've known him nearly all my life.”

“I saved his life when he was fifteen,” Magnus explained, looking at Alec. “He stayed with me for awhile, and we've kept in touch ever since. Other than you and Max, he's the closest thing I have to family.”

“Max is your son?” Raphael asked.

Magnus nodded. “Yes, he's our little boy.” He smiled, then frowned. “Who will be waking up any minute wanting breakfast, actually. I'm surprised he didn't wake up to all that racket you were making earlier.”

“I'll go check on him,” Alec said. “You guys catch up, or whatever.”

Raphael raised an eyebrow as the door to Max's bedroom closed behind Alec. “He's very protective of you.”

Magnus shrugged. “That's just Alec. He's like that about the whole crew, really. It's a constant battle to convince him that he doesn't need to check up on everyone every day when we're supposed to be on leave.”

Raphael didn't look entirely convinced, but he nodded. “That's a good kind of man to have a child with.”

Magnus narrowed his eyes at his friend. “That almost sounded like you approve.”

Raphael shrugged, grinning. “I wouldn't go that far.”

“Clary likes him,” Simon said. “That's good enough for me. Not that, you know, my opinion matters in this context.”

“It matters to me,” Raphael said. “And if you say you approve, then I will consider not using my position to find a way to get him transferred somewhere...unpleasant.”

Magnus rolled his eyes. “Please don't. I'd really rather not deal with intergalactic split custody.”

“How did that happen, anyway?” Raphael asked.

“One of our Clan Mothers escaped the massacre in secret. I didn't get all the details, just the results, which took the form of a small blue baby.”

“And where does tall dark and handsome factor in?” Raphael raised an eyebrow.

Magnus sighed, folding his arms over his chest defensively. “He's my best friend. When we found out about Max, he offered to raise him with me so I wouldn't have to leave the Brooklyn.

“Your ‘best friend’,” Raphael said flatly.

“Raph,” Simon said, putting a hand on his boyfriend's arm.

Raphael sighed. “Fine, Simon, but, Magnus, really? Are you twelve?”

The door to Max's room opened, and Alec came out, holding the baby, who was awake and mewling in distress.

“Sorry, he was hungry,” he said as he passed through on the way to the replicator.

“No, I'm sorry for not helping,” Magnus said, following him. “Let me do that.” He reached around Alec to punch the code in the replicator.

“I had it, Magnus, you didn't have to stop talking to your friends.” Alec took the bottle and offered it to Max, who sucked at it eagerly. “I can take care of him on my own for a few minutes.”

“And I don't doubt that, darling, but you shouldn't have to, just because my ‘friends’ don't know how to visit people at normal hours of the day.”

“To be fair,” Simon said, “We didn't actually know you had a baby. Or a—whatever he is.” He gestured at Alec.

“Partner, friend, and coparent all work,” Alec said.

“Yes, Magnus, we didn't know you had a friend,” Raphael said, grinning. “Poor Magnus out in space with no friends.”

“Shut up,” Magnus said. “You know perfectly well what he meant, and if you're going to be rude you're welcome to leave.”

“Can we meet Max first?” Simon asked. “Since we're here, and he's awake now?”

Magnus sighed. At this point, he thought he'd give anything for a cup of coffee and another half hour of sleep. Or just the coffee and an hour sitting down. But he couldn't deny that it was nice to see Raphael again, even terribly early in the morning, and it would be silly to make them leave now just because Raphael might make some kind of snide comment about Alec. “Sure, I guess.”

Alec nodded and handed Magnus the empty bottle to throw away, stepping into the living area. “Max, this is Raphael and his boyfriend Simon, Papa's friends. Raphael, Simon, this is Max.”

Magnus hurried over to stand beside him, watching as Max peered out at the two strangers.

“Hi, Max,” Simon said, waving at the baby before looking up at Magnus and Alec. “He's beautiful.”

“He looks like an infant,” Raphael said, although his tone wasn't as biting as it normally was. He stared at the baby for another moment before standing and walking forward, holding a finger out for Max to grab. Max was happy to do so. “Eres el más lindo del universo.”

“You know everyone in the room could understand you, right?” Alec said.

Raphael glared. “It means something different on Nosferus.”

Magnus snorted. “Nope, I'm pretty sure you called our son the cutest in the universe no matter what planet we're on.”

“I don't have to listen to this,” Raphael said. He pulled his hand out of Max's grip. “Simon, we're leaving. We have a meeting to attend.”

“In an hour,” Simon said, but he stood up anyway. “Sorry for bothering you guys so early. And nice to meet you, Alec, and you, Max.”

“You too,” Alec said, watching them go.

“I am so impossibly sorry,” Magnus said once the door had closed behind them.

Alec shook his head. “You didn't know, it's not your fault.”

“I didn't even know Raphael was in this sector.”

“The mission to Talto was kept pretty well under wraps,” Alec said. “I don't even know exactly what was being negotiated. How in heaven is he a diplomat?”

Magnus laughed. “I think he wonders the same thing. But he's actually very good at it, when he needs to be. That's just our relationship, really. Actually, that was pretty tame for our relationship. Simon's mellowed him some.”

Alec raised his eyebrows. “If that was tame, I'm not sure I want to see what it was like before he met Simon.”

“He loves me, he just has an unusual way of showing it, I suppose.” Magnus shook his head. His relationship with Raphael had baffled many an outsider. “I am glad he got to meet Max, though. How long are they with us?”

“Another week, I think, although I know his schedule was pretty full. I imagine that's why they decided to bother us at 0630.”

“To tell you the truth, if it had been just me, I wouldn't have minded.”

“Yeah, you've always been an early riser.” Alec shook his head fondly, looking down at Max. “You've really messed up our sleep schedules, buddy.”

“Well, him and you wanting to stay up talking for hours.” Magnus came up and slid an arm around Alec's waist, leaning against him and looking at Max. “Not that I resent either of you, of course.”

“You can always tell me to shut up and let you sleep, you know.”

“And miss out on your half-asleep musings? Never. You're so open at night.” Magnus reached around with his free hand to play with Max's fingers, thinking that he'd gladly give up sleep altogether if it meant he could hold Alec's hand and listen to him talk all night.

“So are you,” Alec said. “I like it. It's like, after the lights are turned down, we have to be more honest. Or something.”

Magnus nodded. “Yeah.” He sighed, leaning more heavily against Alec's side. “Can we sit down? I bet Max would appreciate it if you read to him.”

“You just want me to read to him so you can fall asleep on me,” Alec said, but he walked over to the couch anyway.

“Guilty as charged.” Magnus curled into Alec's side and smiled down at Max, letting his eyes close as Alec began to read.

 

The rest of the two weeks they'd managed to get off passed quickly, days and nights settling into a surprisingly easy routine. Magnus got used to Alec's face being the last thing he saw at night and the first thing he saw in the morning, adjusted to half-asleep arguments about whose turn it was to attend to Max, came to rely on the cup of coffee Alec always brought him while he was doing his makeup in the morning. During the day, the three of them spent nearly all their time together, aside from Max's naps—which more often than not were Magnus and Alec's naps as well. They fell asleep on the couch together so many times that it stopped being strange to wake up tangled together, legs twisted uncomfortably to make room for Alec's tall frame on the too-small sofa.

If the days were easy, filled with comfortable intimacy and the warm and constant presence of Alec at his side, the nights were torture. Magnus would wake up in the dim (not truly dark to his slit-pupiled eyes) room and watch Alec sleep, lying not three feet away from him yet impossibly, unreachably far, and wonder how he could simultaneously have everything he ever wanted and yet still want that much more. Twice Alec fell asleep in the middle of a conversation, still holding Magnus's hand, and both times Magnus stayed awake as long as he could, fighting his drooping eyelids just to have one more minute where he could pretend that Alec was his, that uncrossable oceans of time and difference didn't stretch between them, that he could have this sweet and loving man at his side for eternity. That Alec could love him the way he loved Alec.

Some nights he could barely force himself to stay in his own bed, not reach across the space between them and just touch him, nights when Alec seemed impossibly far away and he would have given anything for the simple reassurance that he was there. He never did it. It would be crossing a line he wasn't ready to breach. Instead he'd close his eyes and let the even sound of Alec's breathing ease him back to sleep, to wake up to another day when he could pretend.

Chapter Text

Since they couldn't get full paternity leave, the captain had arranged to let Alec and Magnus work part time without overlapping shifts for the first few months. That way they still got time with Max without Luke having to find replacements for them. In theory, it was a great plan—they both got time with Max, they didn't have to leave him with child care, and they were less in each other's way. In practice, Alec hated it. He'd gotten so used to spending basically all of every day with Magnus, and now they were seeing each other almost less than they had before Max. They saw each other in the morning, briefly, before one of them headed off to their shift and the other went to take care of Max, and then at lunch to switch places, and then for just a few hours in the evening before they had to go to bed to do the whole thing again the next day.

Even Max hated it—whenever Magnus was working, he would whine at Alec in the way they'd learned meant he wanted the other parent, and then when Magnus didn't materialize, he would cry and cry and cry, inconsolably, no matter what Alec did. Eventually he'd exhaust himself crying and fall asleep for a few hours, then wake up to do it all again. Alec would have felt inadequate and unwanted, except that Magnus was having the exact same issue when Alec was working. They couldn't figure out what to do to calm him down, and it was making life hell for all three of them.

“Can I have a word with you, Commander?” Captain Garroway asked, about a week after they went back to work.

“Of course, sir, what do you need?” Alec asked, standing.

Luke smiled and shook his head. “In my ready room.”

Alec followed him, nearly too tired to be curious. “What's wrong, sir?”

“Take a seat, Alec, nothing's wrong.” Luke sighed. “I'm worried about you, son. Both of you look dead on your feet. I know I said I couldn't give you more time off, but if you need shorter shifts…”

“Is it that obvious?” Alec said, dropping into the chair across from Luke. “Max has been having trouble with both of us being gone so much. We're figuring it out, but, well, you know how it goes.”

Luke nodded. “I do. I can't imagine what Clary would have been like if Jocelyn and I had both been working when she was that age.”

“And it's different, with Lilian children, since they form a bond—not just an emotional bond, a chemical, empathic bond—with their guardians. He's too little to understand why that bond suddenly weakens when one of us is gone. Especially since the first two weeks he was here, we were always right with him.”

“Is there anything that can be done for that? Something Magnus or Dr. Loss could do?”

Alec shrugged. “They've been trying. It's getting better. Yesterday he calmed down after I sat with him for a while, and Magnus said he was okay most of the time with him, too. It's just—been a long week.”

Luke nodded. “Let me know if there's anything I can do, for either of you. If you need to leave early, or come in late, we all understand. I can't officially give you more leave, but I know you both need time with your son, and time to sleep.”

“We also need to do our jobs,” Alec said. “I appreciate that you sympathize, but we're already taking as much time as could possibly be considered reasonable, and we're going to have to make it work.”

“As much as I appreciate your dedication to your duty, Alec, you don't do me much good if you're too tired to think. I'd rather have two good officers, some of the time, than two barely functional officers, more of the time. Take the rest of your shift off and take a nap.”

“I'm fine, sir, I can—”

“That wasn't a request,” Luke said firmly, standing. “Go home. Be with your family. And take a nap.”

“Fine,” Alec said. “Thank you, sir.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Luke waved a hand. “Just do me a favor and remember that you need to take care of yourselves and not just the baby.”

 

When Alec made it back to his quarters, he was surprised to see both the common room and Max's room empty. He went into their bedroom, not sure what to expect, and was even more surprised to see Magnus curled up on his—Alec's—bed, apparently asleep.

“Magnus?” he said gently, not really alarmed yet, just confused. When Magnus didn't respond, he touched his shoulder lightly. “Magnus.”

Magnus opened his eyes slowly, blinking. “‘Lec?”

“Where's Max, Magnus?”

Magnus blinked again, eyes coming into better focus. “Isabelle. It's her day off. She said I should sleep and she'd take him so I did.” He smiled softly. “You should sleep too. Don't know how to take naps without you.”

Alec laughed softly. “You're on my bed.”

Magnus shifted over so his back was against the wall. “There's room.”

“Why are you on my bed?”

Magnus's eyes had slid closed again. “Smells like you. Don't know how to nap without you.”

Alec was too tired to argue with that. He took better naps with Magnus, too. And Luke had sent him home specifically to sleep. He sighed and laid down in the space Magnus had left for him. Magnus immediately snuggled into his side, arm wrapped around his waist and head pillowed against his chest. Magnus made a contented noise as Alec drew the blanket up over them and ordered the lights back down to 5%. He curled his own arm around Magnus and was asleep almost instantly.

He woke up to Magnus trying to crawl over him.

“Sorry!” Magnus said when he saw Alec's eyes open. “I'm on shift in fifteen minutes, I have to go. Go back to sleep.”

“Luke'll understand. He ordered me to take a nap.” Alec just didn't want him to leave. The bed was so warm with him there.

“Is that why you were home so early?” Magnus smiled. “I have to go, sweetheart. Don't leave Max with Izzy all day.” He wriggled the rest of the way out of bed and leaned down to press a kiss to Alec's forehead. “Go back to sleep, Alexander.”

Alec must have done so, because the next thing he knew he was waking up again. It was late afternoon by the ship's clock—Magnus would be getting off shift in an hour. He'd slept for more than five hours, and he still felt tired.

God, he'd come home and found Magnus in his bed. And they'd just. Slept. Together. Sure, they'd fallen asleep on the couch together plenty of times, and Magnus didn't make a secret how much he loved to cuddle, but there was a difference between doing that on the couch and doing it on his bed. Magnus had been in his bed. And he thought he remembered Magnus kissing him on the forehead as he left, but he'd been mostly asleep then anyway. Maybe he'd imagined that. But this was...dangerous. This was getting close to a line Alec knew he wouldn't be able to step back from. Not that he was sure he could step back now, even though he knew he needed to.

It was just so easy to think this was something more than what it was. Magnus had told him once, towards the beginning of their friendship, that he wasn't always very comfortable with physical contact, except with people he really trusted. And that when he did trust you, he could be kind of clingy—because he loved physical affection, but he didn't accept it from many people. Prior to Max's arrival, that had mostly translated to the occasional hug and lots of light, hand on the shoulder type touches. Since they'd started living together, that had obviously escalated. Partly, Alec assumed, because they were simply together more often, and partly because Magnus was trying to steady himself in an unsettling situation. Alec was more than happy to be his anchor. But. He had limits to his own self-control, and while obviously Magnus wasn't thinking of it as anything other than innocent—well, Alec couldn't help it if his mind got away from him. And since he couldn't do that with Magnus, he'd have to find a way to make sure nothing like this happened again. Even if he'd loved it. Even if he knew it had helped Magnus. Even if he wanted it to happen all the time.

 

By the time Magnus got home, Alec had calmed himself down and gone to pick up Max from Izzy's quarters. She hadn't commented on how late it was, just reminded him that she was happy to babysit whenever they needed, as long as she was off shift.

“How's the little monster doing?” Magnus asked, sitting on the couch beside Alec and looking down at Max, who was sitting on his lap. “Were you good for your Aunt Izzy?”

Max babbled back, knowing he was being addressed, and Magnus grinned, offering Max his little finger to hold.

“Apparently he actually was,” Alec said. “She said he barely cried, and only when he needed something. She said we were welcome to leave him with her whenever we need to.”

“That's a miracle,” Magnus said, slumping against him.

Alec put an arm around his shoulders to draw him closer before he remembered he was supposed to be discouraging this. Well, he couldn't move now, that would be obvious and probably hurt Magnus's feelings. “We should have sent him to her sooner. I swear she must be some kind of baby charmer.”

“I feel like that nap we took saved my life,” Magnus said in agreement. “Sorry about that, by the way. I just—”

“It's fine,” Alec heard himself say, as if he hadn't agonized about it earlier. He couldn't let Magnus feel guilty about it when it was Alec who should be ashamed. Here was his friend who had just been seeking out comfort from him, and his brain had to twist it into something else entirely. “I mean, it was...different. But if it's what you need, I don't mind.”

“What do you need, Alec?” Magnus asked seriously, looking up at his face. “You're always trying so hard to make sure I have what I need, but what about you? How can I make this better for you?”

I need you, Alec thought. Just like this, for the rest of my life. “I have everything I need,” he said. “I have you and Max and Jace and Izzy. I don't need anything more.” He forced a laugh. “Except maybe more sleep.”

Magnus smiled, but his eyes were sad as he looked down at Max, and Alec wondered what he'd managed to say wrong this time. Instead of asking, he tightened his arm around Magnus and pressed a kiss into his hair. Magnus didn't ask about that, either.

 

The next few weeks passed in a blur of work and Max and sleep. Max was seven and a half months old now, and had learned how to scoot himself across the floor with alarming speed, driving both of his parents to distraction trying to keep track of him and make sure he didn't get into anything he shouldn't. Izzy, good to her word, had been taking care of him whenever they needed a break, and Jace had stepped up on that front as well, which meant that Alec and Magnus were actually getting something approaching enough rest—and some time to themselves—although with stepping up to five hour shifts, and Max's newfound mobility, they were still constantly tired.

Today had been particularly awful: Max had woken up at 0500 and demanded attention, and by the time he'd gotten him calmed down, Alec hadn't had time to get back to sleep before his shift at 0700. And then, of course, he'd had to lead an away mission to what was supposed to be a perfectly benign planet, only to end up with three security officers needing emergency evac as they got severe chemical burns from some kind of spitting feathered creature that had chased them for nearly two miles through the jungle before they got far enough away to stop for a beam out. And then he'd had to debrief the team and give a lecture to the poor kid at the science station who'd managed to miss the poisonous predatory fauna in their sensor scan. By the time he got home he was already exhausted, and then of course Max had wanted to play instead of going down for his nap so he hadn't even gotten to talk to Magnus beyond a few perfunctory sentences.

He had finally gotten Max to settle enough to sit and be read to on the couch when the door chimed.

“Come,” he called, too done to care who was visiting. The sooner they came in, the sooner they would leave.

“So,” Izzy said without preamble, walking in and dropping next to Alec on the couch, “I kissed Clary.”

Alec set down the book he'd been reading from. “And how did that go for you?”

“She kissed me back,” Izzy said, grinning. “We're going to the conservatory together tomorrow at lunch. She said she'd been trying to get up the nerve to ask me out for awhile.”

“Then I'm happy for you, and I wish you both the best of luck.” Alec looked down at Max, who was waving at Izzy and making little bababa noises. So much for him settling down.

“That's all?” she asked, scooping her nephew into her lap and letting him play with her hand. “No reaction?”

“What did you expect? Screams and panic? I already knew you liked her.”

“Yeah, but”—Izzy waved her free hand—“she's a girl.

“I'd noticed,” Alec said, unable to control a small amused smile.

“And that doesn't bother you?”

“Should it? That wasn't a real surprise either, Iz, I have to say.”

“But if you don't care then why aren't you dating Magnus?”

“Is that what you think? That I'm not dating Magnus because I don't want to admit that I'm gay?” Alec looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “Izzy, everyone already pretty much knows that I'm gay. I don't think whether or not Magnus and I are actually fucking has any bearing on the assumptions people make about us, and I guess maybe at first that bothered me, but at this point it is what it is.”

“So you do admit that you're gay,” Izzy said slowly.

“I don't know that I've ever said it aloud in so many words before, but yes.”

“Then why aren't you dating Magnus?”

“Because our relationship is complicated enough as it is, Izzy!” Alec said, exasperated. “I love him too much to risk fucking it up like that. And think what it would do to Max if we broke up? I know we don't have a…conventional friendship, but it works for us.”

“And when he gets tired of waiting for you and falls in love with someone else?”

Alec shook his head, ignoring the way that resonated with his deepest fears. “He doesn't owe me anything. If he wants to find a real lover he's more than welcome to.”

“And what happens to Max in that scenario?” Izzy said, giving the child a pointed glance. The boy had fallen silent and was holding onto her thumb with a firm grip.

“He's just as much my son as he is Magnus's,” Alec said, refusing to let himself get upset about this in front of Izzy. “I'm on the birth certificate and everything. If he ever found someone else he wanted to—to live with, I'm sure we'd work out custody the same as everyone else who doesn't live with their child's other parent.”

“Alec…”

“I'm done talking about this, Isabelle. Magnus and I are happy the way we are, and I'm sure we'd both appreciate it if you'd stop pestering us. I'm glad things are working out with you and Clary, but not everybody gets the same kind of happy ending.”

Izzy looked up at him with sympathy in her eyes and nodded. “Okay, big brother. I'm going to take Max for awhile, have Magnus come get him when he gets back.”

“Okay,” Alec said, unable to bring himself to thank her.

He heard the door slide shut behind her, and only then did he let himself cry.

 

When Magnus came in a few hours later, Alec was curled up on the couch with a blanket over him, trying to read a book. He'd checked his face in the mirror when he got up to get the blanket, so he knew he didn't look too bad, but Magnus had an uncanny knack for telling when he was upset, so he didn't do more than glance up at him.

“Where's Max?” Magnus asked.

“Izzy offered to take him for a bit. I wasn't feeling too well.”

“Are you all right?” The couch dipped as Magnus sat down by his feet. “Have you talked to Catarina?”

“I'm fine,” Alec said, stretching out his legs so his feet were pressed against Magnus's thigh. See? He was fine. They were fine. Everything was fine. “I was just tired.”

“It's been a long month,” Magnus agreed. “Even working partial shifts is a lot, isn't it?”

Alec nodded. He was so tired. It was always harder when he was tired. “It's been hard adjusting. Going from being with the two of you all the time to never even working the same shift...”

“Are you saying you miss me?” Magnus teased.

“Are you saying you don't miss me?” Alec set the book down, turning so he was leaning against Magnus instead of the arm of the couch.

Magnus pulled the blanket over both of them, tucking his arm around Alec's shoulders. “No, I'd never say that.”

“Good,” Alec said, nuzzling into Magnus's chest. “Don't go,” he said softly.

Magnus's arm tightened around him. “I'm not going anywhere, Alexander.”

“Promise me,” Alec said into the fabric of Magnus's shirt. “Promise me you won't leave me.”

“That's hardly fair,” Magnus said, tracing the back of Alec's hand with one finger. “Since you can't promise me the same.”

“I would if I could,” Alec said, lifting his head to look Magnus in the face. This was it, really, the reason he knew they couldn't ever be more than this. “I would stay with you forever if I could.”

“I know,” Magnus said softly, reaching up to brush Alec's hair out of his face. His hand lingered on Alec's cheek, cupping it gently. “I love you,” he said. “That's the best promise I can make.”

Alec felt his eyes fill with tears. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I'm sorry I'm too selfish to let you leave. I'm sorry I love you too.”

Magnus's eyes were wet too, and he was blinking too much. “Alec,” he said, “Alec, I love you.”

“I know,” Alec said. “I love you too.”

“No, you beautiful, beautiful idiot, I love you, as in, I am in love with you. As in, I really, really want to kiss you right now.”

“Why don't you?” Alec asked, heart racing. “I told you you didn't have to ask.”

“Because I'm a little concerned about the fact that you're currently crying on my shirt because you're going to die before me, and it really seems like maybe we should discuss that fact, and also maybe talk about the rest of this, as well as what brought this on in the first place, and as much as I'd love to change the nature of our relationship it does concern me that you've been so against—”

Alec leaned forward and kissed him, gently, just a press of lips—at first, and then Magnus was surging forward, pressing him back against the arm of the couch again and crawling on top of him to better the angle and oh. That was what kissing was supposed to be like, that press of lips and teeth and tongue and Magnus just right there against him as he licked into his mouth and god he'd never felt anything like this, never wanted it to stop, thought maybe if he could stay just like this for all eternity he would be content except oh that was even better and he didn't know how he could have lived without knowing what this felt like, what it felt like to taste Magnus on his tongue and gasp for breath against his mouth and he was crying again, or maybe Magnus was, but he tasted salt on his lips and it was all so good and so overwhelming and Magnus loved him and maybe it was going to be okay that he loved Magnus too but maybe it wasn't and maybe this kiss would be the only one they had—the only one Alec ever had—but that was all right, that was fine, that was worth it for just right now and god he'd just ruined everything hadn't he but—Alec broke away with a sob, burying his face in Magnus's neck.

“Hey, Alec, shh, it's okay,” Magnus said, running his hand gently up and down Alec's side. “Shh, sweetheart, I'm not going anywhere.”

Alec gave a watery chuckle. “You sound just like you do when you're talking to Max.”

“It is sort of my default for soothing someone I love who's sobbing uncontrollably.”

“Sorry,” Alec said, sitting back and wiping at his eyes. “God, I'm so sorry. I kiss you and then cry all over you, that's not how I would have wanted to do that.”

Magnus smiled. “If you're lucky, I might let you try again.”

“Yeah?” Alec gave a tentative smile. “Even though I'm…” he made a vague gesture.

“Alexander, I want you to listen to me. I have been in love with you for nearly two years, and despite both of our best efforts, that hasn't changed. It isn't going to change. Not if you cry every time you kiss me. Not if you never kiss me again. Not if you decide to move into different quarters and have your sister be an intermediary so we never have to see each other again.”

“And when I die?”

“Well, hopefully that won't be for quite a few years, but no, not even then. It will fade with time, but, Alec, I will never stop loving you.”

“I love you too,” Alec said, and then wanted to hit himself. “I mean, I said that before. And it seems inadequate. But. I love you too. And I'm never going to stop, either. I—you know I'm not as good with words as you are, but Magnus, I don't know where I would be without you. I can't imagine a future without you. You and Max are my family and I want to spend every day I have left showing the two of you how much I care.”

Magnus smiled and leaned their foreheads together. “I could get used to that.”

“So...does this mean we are dating?”

“I think we're past the stage of plausible deniability, yes. Although I feel like ‘dating’ is an odd word, given that we already have a child together and have been living together for over a month.”

“You said ‘partner’ before,” Alec said, feeling his lips curve into an involuntary smile. “We could just change it from platonic partner to romantic partner.”

“I like the sound of that,” Magnus said, and kissed him again.

Chapter Text

“We are such idiots,” Magnus said. They had pushed their beds together and were lying curled together under the covers. “We could have been doing this ages ago.”

“Technically, we were doing this a month ago. Just in a smaller bed with more guilt.”

“Ah, yes, the real reason you wanted to date me: having a bed large enough for your ridiculously long legs.” Magnus wrapped one of his own legs around Alec's and snuggled closer. “I'll take it if it means I get to steal your body heat.”

“If warmth was all you wanted, you could have adjusted the temperature whenever you felt like it.”

“And lost my excuse to wrap myself around you? Never.” Magnus pressed a kiss into Alec's neck where it was lying conveniently within reach. “I don't know why you're so warm, but I'm pretty sure it's why Max likes you better.”

Alec nuzzled his face into Magnus's hair, breathing out a sigh as he arched his neck, freeing it for more kisses, which Magnus was happy to provide. “I'm pretty sure he doesn't actually prefer me,” Alec said. “He just picks up how anxious you are when he's crying and that makes it worse.” His breath hitched as Magnus sucked behind his ear. “You have to—have to stay calm when you're holding him.”

Magnus pulled back with a smirk. “Are we really talking about how to calm a baby right now?”

Alec widened his eyes in a play of innocence. “Did you have something else in mind?”

“I was thinking about some things,” Magnus said teasingly, and then sobered. “In all seriousness, what's your plan for right now? I know you have to be exhausted.”

Alec sighed tiredly. “I am. Sorry. I don't think I'm up to much more than just this right now. And…” He hesitated. “Never mind.”

Magnus pushed himself up so he could see Alec's face. “No, not never mind. What is it?”

Alec was looking anywhere but at his eyes. “It's just—I've never done this before. I've never dated anyone, I've never...had sex with anyone. I'd never even kissed anyone until today.” He took a breath. “I just—I don't know what I'm doing, here.”

Magnus leaned forward and kissed him, just a soft press of lips, there and then gone. “That's all right. That's why I asked. We can do this as slowly as you'd like, Alexander, don't worry.”

“It's not that I don't want to, exactly, it's just…”

“Shhh,” Magnus said, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “It's fine. I understand. I'm not hurt or feeling unwanted.” He smiled. “Have you seen me? I know you want me. But I get not wanting to rush into the physical side of things when we have so much else to work out. We can try other things when you're ready. When we aren't exhausted both mentally and physically.”

Alec let out a huff of laughter. “That'll be a while, then, if the tiny terror has his way.”

Magnus rolled his eyes. “I think we can make it work. Something tells me your sister wouldn't mind extra babysitting if it was for a good cause.”

“Are you asking me to ask my sister to babysit so we can have sex?”

“Well, maybe don't phrase it quite like that. But you know she'll be happy for you, don't you?”

“This is the outcome she and Jace have both been rooting for since I first met you, honestly. I think they had a bet running on when and how it would happen.” Alec sighed in fond exasperation. “Thanks for not telling her when we went to pick up Max, by the way. I will, I just. Well, everyone already thinks we're together, but I kind of want to keep you to myself. For just a few days, until we get used to it.”

“Whether or not to tell your family is entirely up to you, my dear.” Magnus laid his head back down on Alec's chest. “I'd like to tell Cat, though, if it's all right with you. And Raph and Simon.”

“As long as Simon promises not to tell Clary before we do, that's fine. God, Luke's going to be smug, isn't he?”

“At least we've already filled out the necessary paperwork.”

“True.”

Magnus closed his eyes, letting himself relax as sleep pulled at him, listening to the steady beat of Alec's heart.

“Are you still awake?” Alec asked after a long moment, just as Magnus was starting to fall asleep.

“Mmm?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”