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Interlude

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Alec dove to the right, barely avoiding the Iblis demon’s lunge. His shoulder hit the street hard as he went down. He ignored the pain and rolled gracefully into a crouch, advancing on the demon before it could get its bearings. It spun around just as Alec drove his sereph blade into its chest the brief widening of its yellow eyes was as much shock as an Iblis demon could show. It crumbled to ash as Alec pulled his blade free.

“Stupid Iblis demons,” he muttered. He’d dispatched three exactly the same way – and yet the fourth fell perfectly into his trap.

“If there so stupid,” came a voice behind him, “what took you so long?”

Alec turned to find Magnus Bane, head warlock of Manhattan, leaning casually against a shop wall. His legs were crossed at the ankle and he juggled blue balls of fire. Alec looked around Cistern Square in surprise. There were no demons in sight 0 Iblis or otherwise. The wind caught a pile of ash and sent the demon’s remains flying.

“You killed them all?”

Magnus lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “There were only a dozen of them.”

“Only a-” Alec shook his head. “Remind me never to piss you off,” he told the warlock.

Magnus tossed the balls of flame into the air and, one by one, their lights blinked out. He strode toward Alec, his gray coat swirling around his legs.

“Are you saying, Alec Lightwood, that you are going to spend the rest of your life trying to make me happy?” He stared down at the younger man, his cat-like eyes full of mischief.

“No! I- What?” Alec floundered. Nervously, he took a step back – and another as Magnus continued to advance.

“You don’t want me to be happy?” the warlock asked, feigning a pout.

“I didn’t say that!”

Magnus grinned. “So, you do want me to be happy!”

Alec, who had been trained to spot a trap before he could write his own name, had walked right into Magnus’s trap. He rolled his eyes at the warlock but the corners of his mouth twitched into a smile.

“Of course, I do,” he said.

A battle as large as the one raging through the city was being fought within him. On one hand, hundreds of years of tradition; the other, Magnus’s easy smile and cat-like eyes. He’d promised Magnus that he’d introduce him to his family but… could he? Could he stand the look of disgust he’d face from his fellow Shadowhunters? Was he strong enough to break with tradition?

Magnus must have seen Alec’s resolve waiver because he said, “Oh, no you don’t,” and closed the distance between them.

At that moment, Alec didn’t think about whether his parents would approve. He didn’t care about the snide remarks he’d earn from the other Nephilim. His only thought was, Damn. Magnus must’ve spent a good part of those eight hundred years perfecting the art of kissing.

When the world spun from lack of air and the roar of blood in his ears was louder than the sound of battle, Magnus released Alec. Neither spoke immediately. They stared into each other’s eyes, lost in the magic of new love. After a moment, Magnus reached up to trace Alec’s swollen bottom lip.

Alec groaned at the touch. Acting on an impulse that was much more Jace than Alec, he let his tongue flick out to tease the older man’s finger. Magnus’s amazing eyes closed as he sucked in a hiss of breath. He caught Alec’s wrist and pulled him deeper into the alley’s shadows.

Magnus pressed Alec up against a wall, trapping him with his body. As one leg separated Alec’s thighs, Alec said, rather breathlessly, “I thought you wanted to meet my family?”

The warlock’s eyes were bright against the darkness. He blinked once and said, “If I live through this…”

Alec, always too literal, started to panic. His hands came up to shove at Magnus’s shoulders. “What do you mean? What’s wrong? Are we in danger?” Alec scanned the darkness for threats.

Magnus’s laughter filled the alley. “Oh, Alec,” he said. “You really will be the death of me. Here,” he said, catching the young man’s hand and pressing it to the hard ridge of his erection, “let me show you.”

“Oh,” Alec said, eyes growing wide. “Oh!”

Then, Magnus’s hands found their way up and under Alec’s shirt and family was the farthest thing from his mind. The whole of Alicante could have fallen around them and Alec wouldn’t have noticed…