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These Beautiful Love Games

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The last few weeks have been a lot of change in a short amount of time, but that Alec is in Magnus’ loft—with a blanket draped over his legs, a book in his lap, and a conjured glass of craft beer next to him—has swiftly become more normal than not.

Magnus flits around the loft, levitating jars and potions—returning them to their proper spots from the concoction he just finished creating for a client.

Alec shivers at the slip of sun-kissed skin at Magnus’ wrists and forearms, revealed when Magnus rolls his cuffs up to place a metal box on the top shelf in lieu of snapping it magically into place. His skin prickles when Magnus sweeps past him, leaving a wake of sweet herbs and unassailable authority trailing behind him. Alec aches to have all that power focused solely on him.

Instead of reaching out, though, he curls one hand around the edges of the book and sifts his fingertips over the yellowed pages. He brings the glass of beer to his lips with the other. He swallows both the bitter hops and the request building in his chest that he absolutely can’t vocalize.

The thing is, Alec doesn’t know how to ask to be touched.

He sets his beer aside and buries his nose back in the book instead of stammering to find the right words. This tome—a collection of poems by an ancient writer Hafiz—is a recent find in Magnus’ vast library. Alec has always had a fascination with poetry. With the gift to mold words into meaning with sweeping, clear certainty. Something his own lips will never be able to do. Until Magnus, he’s had to satisfy himself with brief trips to mundane bookshops. Where he can sit in a dusty corner, glamoured away from prying eyes, and spend even a few minutes indulging in reading for fun.

But now, his explorations of the world follow paths laid out on a vastly different map.

He spends hours here, and the books are only a part of the reason. Okay, not really a reason at all, but definitely a bonus. Especially on nights like tonight when he arrives to a Magnus who is entrenched in the mysterious daily duties as the High Warlock of Brooklyn. But there’s only so much…visual appreciation he can accomplish without tumbling over the line of leering—a fact Izzy likes to remind him of when he gets lost in the movement of Magnus’ hands, or lips, or eyes, or…fuck, well, anything. So he flips the pages to a random place and begins to read again.

I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious -

So kiss me.

Alec presses his finger into the words, as if he can soak their meaning into his skin with enough pressure. Allow this uncomplicated view of intimacy to run through his blood and forcibly evict the tangle of desire taken residence in his head after too many years of restraint and denial.

“I could use some fresh air. Join me for a drink?”

Magnus’ sudden pronouncement startles Alec into slamming the book shut, as if he’s been caught with his thoughts lingering above his head like a cartoon bubble in one of Max’s comic books.

The doors to the balcony sweep open with an effortless flick of Magnus’ wrist, and Magnus’ chest expands on a breath that seems to be clearing him out just as much as the wind flowing over the river pushes away the acrid hint of hellfire from the loft.

Alec folds the blanket Magnus placed over him, and rests the book on top. By a magic Alec is growing accustomed to, a glass appears in the hand not occupied with his beer—filled to the brim with a shimmering purple liquid. Alec takes a tentative sip of Magnus’ drink and splutters against the overwhelming burn of top-shelf vodka.

When he steps into the nighttime, Magnus is manifesting targeted rainstorms that drench the balcony’s greenery in summer rain, humming some melody that Simon or Clary would identify in seconds. One that Alec has no hope of ever guessing. But that doesn’t keep him from smiling.

All he can think about as he gazes at Magnus is that this is it. He’s caught the happy virus, and it indeed is remarkably, beautifully contagious.

“Kiss me?” he asks before he can overthink it.

The words taste just as sweet as the pastries he and Jace stole the first time Jace cajoled him into forgetting the rules and having a bit of fun.

The glamour slips from Magnus’ eyes. The golden vastness of a harvest moon illuminates the lines of Magnus’ mouth as he smiles.

Alec’s breath catches in his chest.

Magnus’ tongue darts out, wetting his lips. “You don’t have to ask me twice, Alexander. Frankly, you don’t have to ask me at all. Please feel free to indulge yourself whenever the moment feels right.”

Alec squelches the impulse to toss the drinks over the edge of the balcony—so his hands will be on Magnus that much faster—and places both glasses on a table that appears at his side in a pulse of blue light.

Even with his hands emptied, Alec grips the railing instead of Magnus’ hips, his arms bracketing Magnus in, and leans down.

The shape of Magnus’ mouth is familiar, as is the softness of his lips. There’s no urgency—not like their first kiss, there will never be another quite like that one—and Magnus is drawing back before Alec even has a chance to lose his breath.

“While your lips are an otherworldly delight, Alexander, I get the feeling your hands would be even more so.” The smirk that stretches across Magnus’ face leaves Alec stomach swooping as if he’s in freefall. “If you want to, of course.”

“I, uh….”

The heat of his cheeks is an inferno, his desire even more consuming. He lifts the edges of Magnus’ shirt, and seeks out skin. An insistent press of palm to back that coaxes Magnus’ body into his.

This time, Alec decides he may never need to breathe again.

Maybe this Hafiz guy has it right. He definitely knows more than Alec does.

It’s only one book in a collection that spills from room to room, and Magnus doesn’t even hesitate when Alec asks to take it home.

Those brittle, time-worn pages change everything....