Actions

Work Header

the world's a little brighter

Chapter Text

“Shit, sorry.”

Typical.

With a loud thud the carton box reaches the floor, and Alec can see the stack of books on top of it tip over like it’s happening in slow motion. The few at the top slide into the lobby, while a couple of lose papers land at Alec’s feet.

He doesn’t even look up, doesn’t want to see the stranger’s reaction. Instead, he shoves his phone into the pocket of his jeans – or tries to, at least. It’s the next thing that falls onto the floor – and kneels down to put the papers back onto the remaining pile of books, before awkwardly crawling to get the ones that slid away.

Which, of course, the stranger is already on his way to pick up, and so Alec is just kind of left there sitting on his knees in the middle of the lobby, looking up at a beautiful man who is smiling down at him. And because that isn’t awkward enough, Alec only realizes after a good twenty seconds of staring that the man is offering him his hand.

He grabs it so quickly he probably would’ve pulled the guy down with him, had he not been so strong.

“Sorry,” he says again.

“It’s okay.”

“No, it was my fault. I was… looking down at my phone and opening the door at the same time, and I just. You know. I shouldn’t even have been looking at my phone while walking in the first place. And then opening a door, it’s just… irresponsible.”

“I think that would be texting while driving, not texting while walking.”

“Right… but still.”

The guy chuckles and Alec shouldn’t feel as proud as he does. “I’m sure you can make it up to me somehow...”

“Alec.”

“Alec,” he repeats slowly. “I’m Magnus. I’d offer you my hand but you’ve been holding it for the past minute.”

Death would be nice right now. Alec quickly pulls back, letting out a nervous laugh. “Sorry, I’m a little tired, I think.” Okay. Get it together, Lightwood. Deep breaths. In. Out.

“Not a problem. Busy job?”

In. Out. There we go.

“Yes, actually,” Alec sighs. “I, eh… I would help you, with your stuff. To make it up to you. But I’m running late for said job.”

Magnus hums. “Are you free this weekend?”

Oh. “Um, I don’t know. Why?”

“Well, I was planning on painting the walls. I could use your help. If you want, of course.” He raises his eyebrows at Alec, before teasingly adding “not that you actually have a choice; you do owe me one.”

Alec smiles at that, narrowing his eyes at Magnus. “I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to paint the walls.”

“Are you saying I’m blackmailing you into commiting a felony with me?”

“Yes. Except that would be an infraction, not a felony. Unless you’re planning on murdering me with a paint brush.”

Magnus laughs loudly. “Ah, so you’re a cop then?”

“Ouch. Lawyer.”

Magnus inhales sharply through his teeth. “That’s about the most insulting thing you can say to a lawyer, isn’t it?”

Alec nods. “Pretty much. I’ve personally had worse, though, don’t worry.” The words leave his mouth before he can remind himself that he is Alec Lightwood and he does not share personal feelings stuff with anyone, especially not a guy he met five minutes ago. But here we are.

“And now I’m making you late for work…” Magnus sighs theatrically. “I guess that means we’re even then.”

Right. Work.

“I guess so.” Ask for his number. Or address. Last name. Anything. “See you around.” Or not. That works.

“Hey, Alec?”

“Yeah?”

“Your phone.”

“Oh, right. Thanks.”

***

“Oh, sorry.”

“You again.”

Alec awkwardly leans against the heavy front door to keep it open as Magnus takes a small step back. Yes, it’s the same door. “Me again.”

Magnus looks him up and down. “Only just getting back from work?” he asks.

Alec nods. “Early night, actually.”

“It’s seven-thirty,” Magnus says, frowning.

Alec isn’t sure why that makes him smile. “I usually get here around nine.”

“Oh. I didn’t know they made cops stay that late.”

Alec is about to correct him, but a teasing smile appears on Magnus’ lips, so he settles on rolling his eyes.

“Well, I was just going to grab dinner…” Magnus says slowly. “Would you want to come with? I don’t really know where to go and I got a feeling you haven’t eaten yet.”

Alec doesn’t know why saying yes feels like the easiest thing he’s ever done.

***

They end up getting street food, lamb kebab to be exact, with the idea of Alec showing Magnus around the neighborhood. They end up just walking back to their building, though, as it’s December and neither of them is really dressed like it.

They do get to talk. Alec tells Magnus a little bit about his job, and Magnus tells Alec the story about why he moved here.

“No way,” Alec says incredulously.

Magnus nods and opens the door where the two of them have bumped into each other not once, but twice now. “Yup. And she didn’t even try to deny it, either.”

“She sounds terrible.”

They sit down on one of the big, fluffy couches in the lobby, finishing the last bites of their food.

“I needed a fresh start after all that. Plus we lived together, so I needed to move anyway. Thought I might as well go to New York, like I’ve always wanted.” Alec hums. “Most of my friends live here, too. So really, it’s a win-win-win-win.”

Alec chuckles. “Lot of wins.”

Magnus smiles and throws his napkin in the bin next to the couch. “Got away from Camille;” he counts on his fingers, “moved to New York; will see my friends more; and befriended a cop-“ “Lawyer.” “-whom I might need, because I definitely am going to be painting my apartment.”

***

“That, Alexander, is absolutely terrible. I can’t believe I’m allowing this.”

Somewhere during dinner Magnus convinced Alec to help paint his walls anyway. And if Alec said yes because he wanted to spend some more time with Magnus, and not because it would be ‘good for his soul to get his hands dirty’, no one has to know.

“What are you talking about? It’s perfect. And I’m pretty sure I’m the one ‘allowing’ this.”

“Whatever, officer.” He continues before Alec can protest. “The problem is that it’s perfect. I told you to be messy. You’re not being messy.”

Alec scoffs. “I’m messy.”

“You’re not.”

“Well…” Alec lets out a frustrated huff. “Maybe I don’t want to be messy.”

Magnus purses his lips. “Look at it this way: the ombre won’t look nice if we don’t make it messy. So in order for it not to be messy, we need to be messy.”

Alec sighs. He hates that that makes sense. “Alright.”

“Case closed?”

“Case closed.”

***

Magnus takes his phone out of his pocket, ignoring the thirty missed calls and messages in favor of going to spotify to put some Bruno Mars on.

And this might just be the most relaxing thing he’s done in days; painting the wall and dancing ridiculously to 24K Magic, making Alec laugh so hard he’s got tears in his eyes.

Once they’re about halfway done, Magnus goes to the kitchen to make some tea. He checks his phone as he waits for the water to start boiling. The missed calls are from Camille, while all of the messages are from his friends. It’s really just them telling him they’re happy he finally got away and moved closer; requests to meet up soon; a “let me know if u need anything <3” from Catarina, followed by an “i’m not helping you move, i’ve got a back injury” from Ragnor (who does not have a back injury. Inside joke); and of course an “I’ll be there around noon!” from Alec.

And Magnus feels good, he really does. He deletes the missed call messages and puts his phone back into his pocket.

“Drink break?” he asks as he walks out of the kitchen, two cups of tea in his hands.

Alec smiles softly and carefully puts his paint roller on a piece of plastic. He joins Magnus on the couch in the middle of the otherwise empty room, and Magnus gives him his cup.

“So,” Magnus says. “Tea over coffee, then?”

Alec shakes his head. “Coffee’s probably the reason I survived law school. But it’s for mornings and work days only.”

Magnus nods thoughtfully. “And here I was thinking you got through law school because you’re just that smart.”

Alec chuckles. “Unlikely.”

Magnus pulls his legs onto the couch and turns his body towards Alec, arm resting on the back cushion. “Movies or books?”

“Books.”

“Trick question. The answer should always be reality TV.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Let’s pretend I am.” He is.

Alec smiles and rolls his eyes.

“Favorite movie?”

Alec has to think about that. “Don’t have one.”

Magnus hums. “Last one you saw, then?” Ah. Alec blushes and looks away. “Well, now I have to know.”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“Fifty shades of embarrassing?”

Alec snorts. “Not that kind of embarrassing.” Magnus raises his eyebrows. “The Fault in our Stars,” Alec whispers, and Magnus gasps.

“Oh, that is embarrassing. I didn’t know cops were into that kind of stuff.”

“I wouldn’t know, I’m not a cop.”

“Right.”

“What about you? What do you do?”

“I’m a chemist.”

Alec’s eyebrows shoot up. “Really?”

“That hard to believe?” Magnus laughs.

“No, that’s not- My sister, she’s a chemist, too. And a biologist. Specialized in forensics.” Alec says proudly and studies Magnus’ face for a moment. “You two would get along,” he decides.

They sip on their tea while shooting questions back and forth.

“Chocolate, cookies or candy?”

“Why should I choose when I love them all?” He continues before Alec can answer. “That was a bi joke, I’m bisexual.”

“Oh. I’m just into… well, I like chocolate and cookies. But I’m only into guys.”

Magnus lets out an overdramatically relieved sigh. “Good, I was almost scared I befriended a straight person.”

Alec throws his head back laughing.

“It’s a metaphor, Alexander,” Magnus says once they’ve finished their tea, handing him his paint roller. “I’m giving you the paint brush but I’m not giving you the power to paint a dick on my face.”

Alec flicks it at him. “I will if you ever bring that up again.”

“Okay, I won’t,” Magnus promises. “Case closed?”

Alec rolls his eyes. “Case closed.”

“Maybe ‘case closed’ can be our ‘always’.”

And that’s how Magnus ends up with his back against the wet wall, laughing uncontrollably while Alec dips his finger in some purple paint to draw a dick on his cheek.

***

“I should go.”

“It’s only 11.”

“I still gotta walk back.”

“We live in the same building.”

“We live on opposite sides of the same building.”

Magnus thinks about that for a moment. “Alright.” Alec smiles softly at him as he stands up from the couch. And Magnus just… “At least let me walk you back?”

“We live in the same building.”

“We live on opposite sides of the same building,” Magnus mimics.

Alec chuckles and looks at Magnus thoughtfully, lip between his teeth. And then he offers Magnus a hand. “Okay.”

And no, Magnus absolutely does not walk around smiling the entire night because of that.

***

“Fancy meeting you here.”

A familiar voice on the other side of the lobby snaps Alec out of his thoughts. Magnus steps out of the elevator and a grin immediately grows on Alec’s lips. It’s 7am. He never smiles at 7am.

“Good morning.”

“It is now,” Magnus smiles. “Off to work already?”

“Breakfast,” he corrects. “With the sister.”

“The science sister?”

Alec chuckles as they meet in the middle of the lobby. “The one and only. You?”

“Just checking my mail.” He nods at the mailboxes behind Alec.

“You’ve been here for four days.”

“Exactly, my mailbox must be exploding by now.”

Alec snorts. “I’m sure it is.” There isn’t really much left to say, and Isabelle really is waiting for him, but for some reason he doesn’t want the conversation to be over yet. So... “You working today?”

“I sure am. First day.”

Alec hums. “What time do you get off?”

“Oh, you could get me off at any time.”

He- Oh. Oh. Alec almost wishes he didn’t get it, because he can feel his face getting red. Fifty shades of red. But the sound of Magnus’ laughter makes it worth it, and it makes him laugh too. “Alright, time to go,” he says, shaking his head.

“Noooo, Alec, I was kidding, don’t leave me,” Magnus laughs as Alec walks towards the door.

“You know, I was gonna offer to buy you dinner to celebrate, but…” Alec yells over his shoulder as he walks out, shooting Magnus a what-can-you-do face.

He only notices how fast his heart is beating when the door closes behind him. He’s never had this before, not really. He has friends, of course. Friends he jokes around with, too. But he’s never felt this comfortable around someone this quickly.

When he reaches the breakfast cafe, he’s still grinning. Apparently. That’s what Izzy tells him.

“Alec Gideon Lightwood, smiling? Before 10am?” Izzy gasps dramatically as he sits down across from her. “Interesting. Very, very interesting.”

Alec rolls his eyes at her and takes of his jacket. And then he makes the mistake of putting his phone on top of Izzy’s with the screen up.

And you’re getting texts?” She teasingly reaches out to grab the phone, but Alec slaps her hand away and takes it himself.

Magnus: I “Get Off” at 5 ;)

Magnus: But u cops apparently dont get home until 9 or so ive been told and i cant wait that long im already craving dinner and its only 7:30am

Magnus: But if u insist we could do drinks?

Alec tries to hide his smile, he honestly does. But he’s not very good at it, and even if he was, it wouldn’t get past Izzy.

“So,” she says. “Boyfriend?”

Alec rolls his eyes. “Friend who is a boy.”

“Right. Do I know him?”

Alec: work tomorrow. tea drinks?

“Hm?”

“Do I know him?”

Alec shakes his head. “He moved here last week. Lives in my building.”

“You made a friend in a week?” Izzy practically yells. And Alec wants to glare at her, but then she asks what he’s like and all Alec can do is smile.

“He’s nice. Really funny. He… Well, he makes me smile, apparently. And he’s a chemist, who dresses…” He makes a vague gesture. “…fasionably, I guess. So… you’d like him.”

“Alec,” Izzy sighs, dreamingly, “either marry him or let me marry him.”

“You have a girlfriend.”

“Well, that only leaves one option, doesn’t it?”

Alec rolls his eyes. Again. “I’m gonna get food.”

***

First days are… first days. Magnus doesn’t really have a problem with the social aspect of it. But both hospitals and labs are not too hard to get lost in, and of course his new work place is a lab in a hospital. It’s nice enough, though. The people are great and he gets to do what he loves.

Still, it’s good to be home.

Home.

Home is a vague concept, really. He lived with Camille for almost a year, and that never felt like home. But this unfinished apartment does. Maybe it’s the smell of the old couch his foster parents let him have when he moved out. Or maybe it’s Catarina humming in the kitchen as she’s cooking him dinner. Or just the idea that he has his friends this close. And a new friend in this very building.

Whatever it is, it’s nice to finally have.

“The lasagna is in the oven. I repeat: the lasagna is in the oven.”

“Roger that.”

Catarina drops onto the opposite side of the couch, swinging her legs on top of Magnus’.

“I’ve missed your lasagna,” Magnus sighs.

“Aw, I thought you were gonna say you missed me.”

“Embarrassing.” Catarina snorts. “Really, though, I have missed you. Thank you for everything.”

“I was gonna cook anyway, might as well do it here,” Cat shrugs, being the selfless angel that she is.

“Not just that,” Magnus says. “Telling me about the job, putting in a good word for me-“ “You didn’t need it with your resume.” “-showing me around today. I know you’re a busy woman, I appreciate it.”

Catarina is quiet for a second, before softly kicking Magnus’ thigh. “When did you get all soft, Magnus Bane?” She studies Magnus’ face, eyes narrow, and then gasps. “You’re in love, aren’t you.”

“Yes,” Magnus plays along. “With your lasagna.”

“Better than Camille.”

Magnus chuckles. “I’ll drink to that.”

***

It’s exactly 9pm when Alec knocks on Magnus’ door. There’s voices and laughter coming from inside, and Alec internally yells at himself for not texting first.

But then the door opens and all is forgotten.

“Alexander, hey,” Magnus smiles. “My friend Catarina was just leaving.”

A woman, Catarina, emerges from somewhere behind the door, throwing a scarf around her neck. “Alexander, nice to meet you. Careful with Magnus tonight,” she laughs as she puts her hand on his shoulder and leans in. “Red wine makes him very cuddly,” she stage whispers.

“And it makes you overshare,” Magnus retorts, pulling her away from Alec to wrap his arms around her. “See you tomorrow?”

“Nope, night shift. You’re on your own, Bane.”

Magnus makes a face at her, but she just chuckles and walks out. “Good night, boys.”

They share a look before Magnus steps back so Alec can come in.

Alec gets rid of his jacket as Magnus walks to the kitchen, probably to make some tea. Alec awkwardly stands in the hallway, trying to decide whether to sit down on the couch or join Magnus in the kitchen.

He goes with the latter.

“So, first day,” he starts, leaning against the empty door frame. “How was it?”

Magnus turns around and hops onto the countertop. He slowly looks Alec up and down. And Alec being Alec, he awkwardly clears his throat.

“Oh, it was fine. Nothing interesting, not yet.”

Alec somehow doubts that. And his doubts are confirmed when Magnus proceeds to colorfully talk about some of the things that happened. Alec only understands about half of the terms he hears, but something in the way Magnus speaks makes it feel like he was there himself.

They move to the couch once the tea is ready, and Alec hates to admit he’s kind of disappointed when Magnus sits about half a couch away from him, unlike his friend implied he would. Which is weird. Because Alec is not a cuddly person. Especially not with people he’s only known for a few days. But maybe that’s the thing; it feels like they’ve known each other for years.

“Earth to Alec…?”

“Hm?”

Magnus turns his body 90 degrees and nudges Alec’s outer thigh with his feet before dropping them on the couch. “I was saying it took me half an hour last night to get that drawing of yours off my face.”

Alec laughs softly. “My best work.”

Magnus looks at him quietly for a moment, lips pursed. “Tired?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

But Magnus just smiles. Of course he does. “I can imagine. Being a cop must be pretty exhausting.”

Alec rolls his eyes and lets his head fall back, making a noise he’s not sure is a laugh or a groan. “You know, I’m never gonna help you with any legal matters if you keep doing that.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

They gasp at the same time, eyes growing wide at the reference. “NO!”

“Draw a dick on your own face!”

And then they’re both laughing uncontrollably until Alec doesn’t even remember what the word tired means.

***

“Are you stalking me, Alexander?”

It’s Thursday, and also the fifth morning Magnus and Alec cross paths in the lobby. The fourth one in a row.

Which wouldn’t be too weird if they both just headed out at the same time every day. But that isn’t the case.

Tuesday, it happened at 8:30, meaning Magnus was early and Alec late.

Wednesday, they both walked into the lobby in workout clothes at 6:15. And just went on a run together, because why not?

And today, Thursday, they’re both standing in front of their mailboxes at 7:30. Alec at number 006 and Magnus at 502.

“Yes,” Alec deadpans as he unlocks the mailbox and takes out a few envelopes. He makes a face at one of them and throws it back in.

“Parents?”

“Yeah, like they know where I live,” Alec snorts, taking a quick look at the rest of the mail.

Magnus locks his own mailbox. “You guys aren’t close?” He slowly starts walking towards Alec. They’re each on one end of the long wall, just as their apartments are on each side of the building.

“Emotionally? No. Geographically? Wouldn’t know,” Alec answers and stacks the envelopes up. “I don’t know where they live either.”

Magnus hums, deciding not to ask more just yet, and leans against the mailboxes next to Alec’s. Alec locks his and then looks at Magnus with a small smile.

“I, eh… I was wondering if you wanted to watch a movie? Maybe?” he blurts out. “Like, tonight?”

Cute. “I thought you said you didn’t like movies.”

Alec breathes out a chuckle. “I said I prefer books.” And then Magnus can see his face fall. “But if you don’t-“

Magnus quickly lifts his hand, putting his finger in front of Alec’s lips to shush him. Of course he wants. “Your place at nine? I’ll bring leftovers.”

Alec smiles brightly, eyes sparkling with something – wonder? – and if Magnus considers it the most beautiful thing he’s seen in a long time, no one has to know.

Alec chuckles softly when Magnus drops his hand. “Right. Yeah. Well, I… Work. I gotta… go to work.”

Magnus grins at him amusedly. “Have fun.”

“Probably won’t.”

“Not with that attitude.”

Alec rolls his eyes fondly and walks away.

“Go get the bad guys, Alexander.”

“Still a lawyer,” he yells over his shoulder, grin on his face. “Case closed.”

***

“You can’t just steal my client.”

“The firm’s client, Lightwood,” Aldertree interrupts. Because of course that’s when he decides to walk into Alec and Aline’s shared office.

Alec leans back in his chair, nodding apologetically.

“I brought them in,” he hisses as soon as their boss leaves.

Aline smiles softly, unbothered. “And Aldertree asked me to handle it.”

“Did you flirt with him?”

“You know I’m a lesbian.”

“Exactly my point. Gay solidarity, Aline.”

Aline rolls her eyes fondly. “I’m sure you’ll be fine, white boy. And weren’t you complaining about how busy you are, anyway?”

Alec sighs in defeat. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Thank you.”

“That’s better.”

“Get me some coffee?”

Aline laughs. “You’re terrible.”

“Or did I just see Helen walk into the break room and am I giving you an excuse to go flirt with her?”

Aline stands up and grins at him, snatching his cup from his desk. “Gay solidarity.”

“Gay solidarity.”

She comes back empty handed.

“She smiled at me and I panicked and started cleaning the cup and then it was just too awkward to make coffee, I don’t know.”

Alec shoots her a look. Not that he was planning on drinking another cup, as it’s 8pm already, but still.

Aline smiles innocently at him and sits back down. “Dinner?”

Alec shakes his head, the corner of his lips turning up when he remembers. “I got plans.”

“No,” Aline gasps excitedly. “A date? I never thought I’d see the day.”

Alec glares at her. “Thanks. And it’s just a friend.”

“A friend who makes you smile.”

“You make me smile.”

“Aw, Alec.”

“Not the point.”

“Have fun,” Aline yells half an hour later.

“I will. Don’t stay too late.”

***

And of course, Alec walks throught the front door just as Magnus steps out of the elevator and into the lobby.

Alec hasn’t seen him yet, though. He’s on his phone and stops two steps away from the door. He has a small smile on his face, and Magnus wishes he knew the reason.

His own phone dings just when Alec looks up.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“I just texted you.”

Oh. Magnus grins and starts walking towards Alec’s corridor when Alec does. “So that’s why you were smiling at your phone?”

Alec opens his mouth and then closes it, a blush spreading on his cheeks.

Apartment 006 is behind the second to last door in the corridor. Magnus hasn’t been inside yet, but he’s walked Alec there before.

It’s basically the same apartment as Magnus’, except the walls are still white and Magnus has a lot more furniture and a lot more color. It looks good, though. Minimalistic, very stylish.

Alec takes his shoes off, and Magnus does the same, even though Alec tells him he doesn’t have to. He finds the kitchen on his own as Alec takes off his scarf and jacket, and drops the bag of chicken nasi goreng on the counter.

“This is so weird,” he says when Alec walks in on him going through the cupboards to find plates. “It’s like I’m in my own apartment and someone broke in and replaced all my kitchenware and wineglasses.”

He hears Alec chuckle behind him and then they’re shoulder to shoulder and Alec’s pulling two plates out of the only cupboard Magnus hasn’t looked in. He puts them next to each other on the counter and smiles at Magnus, before reaching into one of the drawers to take out two knives, two forks and two spoons.

“You want something to drink?” he asks as Magnus plates up.

“Plain vodka.”

Alec sucks in a sharp breath. “Rough day?”

“No, I just like vodka.”

Alec chuckles. “Well, I’ve got wine…” he says, and opens the fridge. “And orange juice. And, you know, water, tea, coffee.”

Magnus hums. “Depends on what type of wine you have.”

The dry white will do, Magnus tells him, and they move to the black couch in the living room.

And then there’s the endless what-to-watch debate. By the time they settle on The Incredibles (“We’re not watching a kids movie.” “I got you dinner.” “You ordered in.” “Alexander, it would be incredibly unwise to deprive yourself of this masterpiece.” “Fine.” “Was it the pun that did it?” “No.” “Liar.”), both their plates are empty and they’re halfway through the bottle of wine.

Alec has a huge couch, but it’s not very comfortable, so Magnus tests out a few movie-watching positions as Alec tries to get his Netflix to work.

“Your couch is terrible. How do you nap on this?” he asks, lying on his stomack on the chaise longue with his face to the TV.

“I don’t.” Alec looks at him over his shoulder and smiles. “I can get some pillows and a blanket?”

“Please.”

Alec disappears into his bedroom, and Magnus quickly checks his phone for whatever text Alec sent him earlier.

Alec: i’m home. just gotta put my badge and gun away and then i’m ready :)

Magnus bites his lip, smiling. And then the TV screen stops loading.

“It’s working! And starting!”

Alec comes back in just as the PIXAR lamp hops over the screen, his arms wrapped around two bed pillows and blanket – that he trips over. He throws the blanket and one of the pillows at Magnus, and Magnus settles into the corner of the chaise longue, with the blanket up to his waist.

Alec is still standing next to the couch, though, and Magnus raises his eyebrows at the helpless look on his face. But Alec is looking at the blanket, not him.

“Aw, just get in here.” Magnus nuzzles deeper into the corner to make room and holds the blanket up.

Alec takes a tentative step forward. “You sure?”

“Yes. Case closed,” Magnus smiles. “Unless you don’t want to.”

“No!” Alec says so quickly Magnus can’t help but chuckle. “I do. Want to. Yeah. I’ll just…” He puts his pillow next to Magnus’, but looks at Magnus again before sitting down, only moving when he nods at him.

There’s enough room for them not to be touching, but Magnus leans into Alec for just a second to tease him. “Now we can cuddle,” he says cheerfully.

Alec turns his face to him, and the second they make eye contact they both start laughing. Alec shoves Magnus’ shoulder away with his, but just when Magnus thinks maybe he shouldn’t have done what he did, Alec shifts so their bodies are touching from shoulder to toe.

***

Magnus wakes up to the distant sound of an alarm that is definitely not his and someone softly breathing next to him.

Alec.

Magnus slowly opens his eyes, making sure he doesn’t move so much he wakes him up. A smile immediately appears on his lips. Alec’s cheek is resting against Magnus’ shoulder, and he has his left arm losely wrapped around Magnus’ right one, his fingers on Magnus’ wrist.

Magnus can’t leave without waking Alec up. And honestly, he doesn’t really want to, either.

“Alec,” he says softly. And then again, carefully moving the shoulder Alec’s sleeping against. “Alexander.” He nudges Alec’s foot with his.

Alec starts smiling before his eyes open.

“There he is,” Magnus cheers softly. “Good morning.”

“Morning,” Alec whispers, and opens his eyes. He groans then, untangling their arms so he can stretch. “Shit, what time is it?”

“I don’t know,” Magnus whispers back.

And then they look at each other, eyes wide, and burst into laughter. Or maybe it’s more giggling.

“I can’t believe we fell asleep.” Magnus isn’t sure if Alec’s blushing or his cheek is red because it was pressed against his shoulder. Either way, it makes him smile.

They find Alec’s phone somewhere between their pillows.

“6:15,” Alec says, when they’re both sitting upright. His voice is sleepy and hoarse, and when he looks at Magnus again, he has the kind of smile on his face that tells Magnus he never really does things like this. It’s disbelieve, almost, but in a good way. Like he’s pleasantly surprised. “Do you, eh… What do you want? Morning routine wise, I mean.”

“Well, I do live in this building,” Magnus teases.

“On the opposite side of this building,” Alec counters. “I mean. You know, I can make breakfast. If you want. And we should probably shower. Not… together, obviously, but the both of us, I mean. Of course. But you can stay, if you want. Or not.”

And while Magnus kind of feels like he wouldn’t mind staying forever, he does really need his own toiletry and a change of clothes. “I’m not saying no to breakfast, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“Wouldn’t have offered if I did.”

“Great. I could use some energy before my three hour trip to 502.”

***

“Alec Gideon Lightwood,” Aline gasps when he walks into their office. “I can’t believe I’m getting to witness this with my own two eyes.”

Alec raises an eyebrow at her. “What?”

“Don’t. I know a walk of shame when I see one, mister.”

Alec snorts and puts his suitcase under his desk. “Not an expert, but I don’t think the walk of shame is walking into your office, fully showered and in a fresh suit.”

“So, was it nice to finally…” Aline lowers her voice before continuing, “get laid?”

Alec shoots her a look. “That question assumes facts not in evidence,” he deadpans. “And I didn’t. We’re friends. We fell asleep on the couch with some kind of animated superhero movie playing.” He knows damn well it’s The Incredibles. Aline doesn’t have to know he knows.

She presses her hand to her chest, face pouty, as if she could start awwwing at any moment. “That,” she sighs, “is really cute.”

“We’re friends,” Alec insists.

At least he hopes they are. Maybe Magnus thinks he’s clingy. Or weird. Or both. Now’s probably not the time to worry about that, though. But he’s still going to.

Just when he’s convinced himself Magnus actually hates him and he should move to Canada, his phone buzzes.

Magnus: While sleeping with u was really nice i must say im a little sore ;)

Alec: you’re shameless. some of us are at work magnus.

Magnus: Both of us are at work alexander

Magnus: I thought youd enjoy some sexting while solving crimes but im guessing i was wrong

Alec: ah yes, that kids movie really did it for me.

Magnus: U misspelled oscar-worthy action-comedy babe. Its ok it happens

Magnus: Not a kink ive had to work with before but im willing to try new things with u

Alec: jokes aside, last night was fun.

Magnus: Will u just admit the incredibles is a masterpiece

Alec: no

Magnus: Alright well we cant all have good taste i guess

Alec: odd thing to say after we slept together ;)

Magnus: Alexander!!!! I am at work u animal

Magnus: I cant believe ur making sex jokes i feel like a proud father

Alec: speaking of odd things to say after we slept together…

“Jesus, Alec.”

“Hm?”

Aline smirks at him as he slowly puts his phone back into his pocket. “You come in half an hour later than usual, sit down, and take out your private phone for the next ten minutes?” Alec rolls his eyes. “I like it.”

***

Saturday morning, Alec doesn’t have an excuse to be in the lobby.

So he makes one up.

He has some reading he wants to get done, and the lighting in the lobby just… happens to be better. Yup.

He could just text Magnus if he wants to get lunch. And it’s not like he doens’t feel comfortable enough to do so – which is kind of a thing, really, cause it took him about three months to get comfortable enough with Aline to ask if she wanted coffee – so he isn’t sure why he spends his morning sitting in on an annoyingly fluffy couch in the lobby, glancing at the elevator after every three sentences he reads.

It’s 11:15 when Magnus comes down, and Alec almost misses him because he didn’t want to get his hopes up when he heard the elevator doors open. And then there’s the fact Magnus is wearing sweatpants – nice ones, but still – and sunglasses. And doesn’t greet Alec.

“Hey,” Alec says before Magnus can get to the door.

Magnus turns around. “Alexander! Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes. Literally.” He makes his way the couch and sits down on the armrest. And something just isn’t right.

“You okay?” Alec asks, stacking the papers and putting them on the cushion next to him.

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be.”

“Well, you’re wearing… that.”

“Says you?” Magnus retorts. “Maybe this is just what I look like on weekends.”

“Alright.” It’s not, though. Alright, that is. “Where are you going?”

Magnus sighs. “To get a hangover cure. All out of eggs and bacon.” He tries to sound cheerful, Alec can tell. It’s not working.

He purses his lips. “I can make you some,” he offers tentatively. “Unless you want to be alone.”

Magnus clenches his jaw and says nothing for a few seconds. And he just looks so… drained. Even with the sunglasses on it shows. “I really don’t,” he says softly.

***

When Alec made him breakfast yesterday, Magnus talked on and on. About his new job; his friends; his Christmas plans. Now he’s sitting quietly at the table, toying with his sunglasses and staring at the wall. Alec leans against the counter, waiting for the eggs to congeal and the bacon to turn crispy. He lets his eyes roam from Magnus’ knotted eyebrows to his clenched jaw, and then to his slumped shoulders.

“Magnus,” he tries again, gently. “What’s wrong?”

Magnus looks down at where his hands are playing with his glasses, the corners of his lips turning down. He takes a deep breath, and then another one, opening and closing his mouth a few times before he starts talking. “Last night,” he starts. “It didn’t exactly go as planned.”

Alec studies him. “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine.”

Alec nods thoughtfully, and narrows his eyes. “Are you?”

Magnus glances up at him. “I don’t know,” he admits. “I will be.”

Alec offers him a small smile and turns back to the scrambled eggs, figuring Magnus will talk if and when he wants to.

He does. “I went out with my friends. And I drank a lot – like… a lot. And I don’t… remember exactly what happened, but I lost them and suddenly Camille’s standing in front of me.”

“Terrible ex Camille?”

“Yeah. And she doesn’t even live in New York, so what are the odds? And it’s not like I don’t know I’m too good for her, or that I miss her, or… But I thought maybe it’s a sign that she’s exactly what I deserve. That she’s the best I can do. And I don’t really think that, that’s not me, but…”

“…But she makes you feel like it is,” Alec fills in. Like his parents made him feel as if he wasn’t good enough. It’s been four years since he last saw them and he’s still trying to unlearn that. With Camille it’s only been two weeks.

“Yeah,” Magnus breathes and lifts his shoulders in a shrug. “Nothing happened, she just said some things. But yeah.”

Alec wants to say something. He wants to say a lot of somethings. But he’s not sure how, or even what to say, and he’s been told he’s not very good at this, so maybe just keeping his mouth shut is the most helpful thing he can do.

So he just nods.

But then that doesn’t feel right either. “I know you said…“ he starts, making a vague gesture when he can’t really find the words. “But you really do deserve better than her. I know she made you doubt that, but… you’re, you know, you. And you deserve better than someone who makes you want to cry after you talk to them.”

Magnus breathes out a chuckle, finally, and looks up at Alec. “I know.”

“Yeah, you said that. But as your attorney I’m obligated to remind you.”

And then, for the first time that morning, Alec sees a genuine smile on Magnus’ lips that makes the corners of his eyes crinkle. He leans back in his chair and takes a deep breath.

Alec doesn’t realize how long he’s been staring until Magnus’ head snaps his way with an alarmed look on his face. “Is something burning?”

The answer to that – of course – is yes, as it usually is. But the eggs are fine, and Alec manages to save most of the bacon.

“You should probably stop inviting me to breakfast before I forget how to make toast,” Magnus comments after finishing his food, and sips his coffee.

“Or you could stop saying yes,” Alec jokes.

“As if I could say no to your delicious meat, Alexander.”

***

By the time Christmas comes around two weeks later, meeting in the lobby every morning on work days has become routine; dinner-and-movie-Thursday (including the falling asleep on the couch part) has its own spot in both of their schedules and the making-each-other-breakfast score is at a 2-2 tie.

“You know what I just realized?” Magnus asks, walking into Alec’s livingroom. “We haven’t gone two days without seeing each other since we met.” It’s Saturday morning on Christmas eve, and Magnus and his bright purple suitcase are hanging out in Alec’s apartment, waiting to get picked up by Catarina.

Alec looks up from his book. “You realized that while you were using the bathroom?”

“No, I realized it last night,” Magnus retorts, dropping down on the couch. Alec’s sitting with his back against the armrest of the chaise longue and his legs in front of him on the couch. Magnus mirrors him, putting his legs on top of Alec’s. “Which is why I decided to step by. So you wouldn’t have to miss me for two whole days.”

“Maybe I can’t wait to finally get a break,” Alec jokes, and Magnus kicks the book out of his hands, sending it flying to the floor. “Hey!”

“You’re the worst; I can’t wait to get a break from you, either.”

Alec snorts and reaches for his book, but he puts it next to him, closed, instead of continuing. He stares at Magnus for a few seconds, biting the inside of his lip.

It makes Magnus kind of nervous. “What?”

Alec looks away. “I know that was a joke, that we were joking around. That’s not-“ He lets out a sigh. “But I’ve been meaning to ask. You do like me, right?” Magnus raises his eyebrows in surprise. “Like, you want to be friends with me, I mean.”

Magnus huffs. “Alec, I was kidding-“

“No, I know,” Alec interrupts. “That’s not why I’m asking.”

“Why are you asking?”

“Because,” Alec sighs, “I really like being friends with you and I just… if I’m too much I want to know. I don’t want to… you know. I- Just… forget it, sorry-”

“Alec,” Magnus stops him. He quickly stands up and moves to sit next to Alec, nudging him to make some room. They sit like they do on movie nights, the only difference being they’re turned 90 degrees, their legs on the couch instead of the chaise longue. Magnus nudges Alec’s shoulder with his to make him look him in the eyes. “I absolutely, one hundred percent love being friends with you, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of you.” Alec is about to object, but Magnus shushes him. “But, if I ever do, I’ll tell you. If you promise to tell me, too.”

Beneath his furrowed eyebrows, Alec’s eyes unfocussedly look from Magnus’ left eye to his right and back. “I don’t think you’re possible to get tired of.”

Magnus is so taken aback, he almost doesn’t realize he’s tearing up. If Alec notices, he doesn’t comment on it. “Just promise it, you sap,” Magnus chuckles, turning his head so he can blink the tears away without it being obvious. Pretending that isn’t possibly the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to him.

“Alright,” Alec says, and Magnus can hear the warm smile in his voice. “I promise.”

“Case closed?”

“Case closed.”

***

Due to Christmas traffic, the usual fifteen minute drive to Izzy’s apartment takes a good 45 minutes. It doesn’t bother Alec, though. Not really. He loves his siblings, but an extra thirty minutes of privacy – semi-privacy – never hurt anyone.

“Alec, thank God you’re here. Izzy said she’d start cooking if you didn’t get here before two.”

“Haven’t we been through enough?”

Jace snorts and wraps his arms around his brother. “Missed you, man.”

“Yeah yeah,” Alec pats him on the back. “Missed you, too.”

“Now get in before she gets to the kitchen.”

They do find her in the kitchen, making three hot chocolates. Because for some reason, she makes the best hot chocolate in the entire world. Or at least out of the three of them.

Alec plants a kiss on her cheek and steals a marshmallow. “Hey Iz.” She smiles at him, slapping his hand away when he tries to take another one.

“Guess what Jace brought.”

“Any of the Home Alone movies?”

“No.”

“I did.”

“Not what I meant.”

“He brought a book.” Alec gasps. “And not just any book. Harry Potter.”

Alec gasps again. “Jace can read?”

Jace sticks his tongue out. “Simon gave it to me. I’m reading it as his Christmas present.”

“Your Christmas present to Simon is reading the book he gave you?”

Jace narrows his eyes. “You didn’t get him anything last year.”

“Hey, that’s not fair. I didn’t roll my eyes at him for a whole month. Which is what he asked for.”

“You rolled his eyes when he thanked you.”

“The month hadn’t started yet.”

Isabelle sighs and puts the mugs on the dinner table. “Can you guys just admit I’m the only one here who actually gives good gifts?”

Jace hums. “Well, you did get Alec that book on gay sex once.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, that was me agreeing with you.”

Alec rolls his eyes. “Alright, I’m gonna start dinner.”

***

The first-one-to-touch-their-phone-does-the-dishes rule apparently doesn’t work when you’re with five people who can easily go a day without it, so Cat and Luke end up volunteering while Raphael, Ragnor and Magnus take care of the board games and alcohol.

“You’re just voting for scrabble because that’s the only one you stand a chance at,” Magnus retorts twenty minutes later.

“And when would we even drink?” Catarina adds. “Every time someone gets a triple word score?”

They eventually settle for Monopoly, under Ragnor’s silent glare. “You’re all awful.”

***

Magnus: Merry christmas alexander

Alec: merry christmas! :)

Magnus: Do u miss me yet

Alec: we saw each other 12 hours ago…

Magnus: Aww ur counting

Alec: …

Magnus: <3

Alec: you having fun?

Magnus: Yes but itd be more fun w u here

Alec: thought you wanted a break?!

Magnus: Never babe <3

Alec: :p

Alec: what are you guys doing?

Magnus: Playing drunk monopoly

Alec: are you drunk?

Magnus: No. Winning and offended ud even ask

Alec: shouldn’t you be minding the game?

Magnus: Bathroom break alejandro

Alec: call me that again and i’ll block your number.

Magnus: As if u could live without me

Alec: i love a challenge

Magnus: Noooo

Magnus: :’(

Magnus: Alexander

Magnus: Youre the worst

Magnus: Luke knows ur sister

Magnus: And u

Magnus: I cant believe ur making me go to sleep without a good night text i thought wd were closer than that alexander :(

Alec: was watching a movie and fell asleep – like one does. how about a good morning text?

Alec: good morning :)

Alec: and i know a lot of lukes…

Magnus: Good morning sunshine

Magnus: Luke garroway?

Alec: my favorite luke!

Magnus: Ill tell him u said that

Alec: please don’t.

Magnus: Just did. He says ur his favorite alec but not his favorite lightwood

Alec: harsh.

Magnus: Well u do have tough competition

Alec: ok well you can go to izzy next time you want breakfast.

Magnus: Didnt u tell me her food is ‘poisonous but not poisonous enough for the sweet release of death’?

Alec: i think it was more along the lines of ‘it makes you think you’re dying until you’re disappointed you’re not’.

Magnus: Wow ud wish that upon me??

Alec: you said i’m not your favorite lightwood

Alec: i’m the only lightwood you’ve met

Magnus: Hey now hey now i didnt say that i said u have tough competition

Magnus: Though u should be grateful i even consider it a competition when theres a bisexual fashion loving science nerd lightwood

Alec: noted :(

Magnus: It does say a lot that ur still my favorite

Alec: noted :)

Alec: hey

Magnus: U miss me dont u

Alec: no

Alec: yes

Alec: izzy’s girlfriend maia’s here and simon is too and he and jace have this whole thing going on where they pretend to be a couple when they actually aren’t but still manage to make me feel like a fifth wheel.

Magnus: Im sorry

Magnus: Thats not what christmas should feel like

Alec: it’s ok it’s not like they’re actively leaving me out but…

Magnus: But u still feel left out

Alec: yeah…

Magnus: For what its worth i miss u too

Magnus: Thats it monday were gonna watch movies all day on that shitty couch of yours

Alec: sounds like a plan.

***

The first time they hug is when Alec gets back that Monday.

Magnus is just about to sit down in the lobby, when the doors open and Alec walks in. He drops his bag as he makes his way to Magnus, and wraps his arms around him.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

Their voices are soft and Alec’s is a little hoarse and Magnus presses his face into the woolen scarf around Alec’s neck.

“I missed you,” Magnus says semi-jokingly.

“Missed you, too.”

They slowly pull back, and the second they make eye contact they burst into laughter.

“We’re gross,” Magnus says, faking disgust. “It was two days.”

“You loved it,” Alec beams.

“Loved those two days away from you, yeah.”

Alec snorts and turns around to pick up his bag. “Sure, let’s go with that.”

When they enter 006, Alec immediately disappears into his room, going in with his bag and coming out with the famous pillows and blanket. He dumps them on the couch and walks to the kitchen. Magnus puts the pillows next to each other and throws the blanket over the chaise longue, making it like a bed.

Alec comes back with a bowl of popcorn and sets it on the table, before dropping down onto the chaise longue with a loud groan. He spreads out on top of the blanket and closes his eyes.

Magnus chuckles. “I’m not gonna fit like that, big guy.”

“Tough,” Alec mutters, unable to hide his smile.

Magnus takes the edge of the blanket and pulls it up to roll Alec onto his side, climbing underneath it before Alec can stop him. Alec grunts and sits up, shooting him a glare before getting under the blanket, too.

Neither of them really thought about this apparently, cause they’re both lying on their sides instead of sitting up to watch a movie, and the remote is still on the coffee table.

But they both just lie there, lazily staring at each other. Alec looks tired, but less stressed than usual. His breathing is slow and steadying, and even though only their knees are touching, Magnus can feel his warmth.

“You’re gonna be asleep by the time we pick a movie,” Magnus whispers accusingly.

Alec chortles. “I’m gonna be asleep by the time you pick up the remote.”

Magnus shoots him a fond look. “The popcorn will get cold.”

“It already is,” Alec whispers with a lazy grin on his lips. “I bought it popped.”

“Then there’s no reason to stay awake,” Magnus smiles softly.

Alec purses his lips and looks at him thoughtfully. “You’re here.”

“And I’ll be here when you wake up.”

Alec stares at him for a few more seconds, as if he’s trying to make up his mind, and then his eyes flutter shut.

Magnus can feel his own eyelids get heavy as he lets his eyes roam over Alec’s face. He briefly wonders if Alec knows how beautiful he is. Magnus figures he doesn’t, which should be illegal. He should know.

“Alec,” Magnus whispers softly.

Alec doesn’t open his eyes. “Myeah?”

“You’re beautiful.” There.

But Alec doesn’t respond. Because he’s asleep. Magnus can’t help but feel disappointed.

But then Alec’s eyes snap open, a bewildered “what?” leaving his lips.

Magnus grins at him. “Nothing,” he whispers innocently.

And the way Alec looked half a minute ago doesn’t even begin to compare to how he looks right now, eyes open – literally and figuratively – and so full of something Magnus can’t even describe, the corners crinkling with the surprised smile on his face.

Magnus smiles brightly, satisfied with the reaction, and turns onto his other side.

He’s almost asleep when Alec nuzzles closer.

***

Alec has opened and closed his mouth so many times he’s afraid Magnus is gonna start noticing. Just say it.

They woke up about ten minutes ago and decided to order in an early dinner. And now Magnus is sitting on the couch with his feet in Alec’s lap, reading Alec’s book, and Alec wants to just say it like Magnus did before they fell asleep. But it’s hard. It shouldn’t be, because Magnus said it, and they’re friends, so it’s basically Alec’s duty to make sure Magnus knows. But it’s hard.

He takes a deep breath, in and out, and of course that makes Magnus look up and catch him staring because it wasn’t difficult enough already.

“Just spit it out, Alexander.”

You’re beautiful.” Great. That sounded more like a middle school comeback than a compliment. “I just mean- I just want you to know that. Because you- Well, you said it to me. And that’s not why I’m saying it, but that’s why I thought I should tell you, because I think you’re really beautiful and I want you to know that, even though I’m sure you already-“

And then there’s a finger against his lips. Alec didn’t notice Magnus shifting closer, but apparently he did, cause Alec’s thighs are trapped under Magnus’ legs and their faces are just inches apart when Magnus leans forward.

“Thank you, Alexander,” Magnus says genuinely, and Alec has to use every bit of strength in his body to keep his eyes from looking at Magnus’ smile. Instead of just making it easy for him, Magnus licks his lips and leans a little closer, and God, Alec is not that strong.

But he keeps getting closer. And closer. And closer and closer, and Alec doesn’t breathe until he feels Magnus’ lips against his cheek.

And then, just like that, Magnus swings his legs off Alec’s, stands up and walks to the kitchen.

“You’re welcome,” Alec breathes.

***

Friends kiss each other’s cheeks. He kisses Catarina’s cheek all the time. And Luke’s. And Ragnor’s, though he never does it back. And Raphael would probably never speak to him again if he even so much of thought about it.

But that’s not the point. The point is, friends can do cheek kisses. Of course they can. They just did. Magnus just did. In a completely platonic way to platonically thank him for his platonic compliment.

“Coffee or tea?” Magnus calls from the kitchen when he’s sure his voice will be steady. Even though he doesn’t really know how Alec’s coffee machine works. He’ll figure it out.

He hears Alec clear his throat. “Coffee.” And then footsteps. “Do you, um, know how the… thing works?”

“It’s a coffee machine, not the chicken-or-egg mystery,” Magnus assures him with his back to the door. “I’m sure I’ll manage.” Alec chuckles behind him and Magnus can’t keep himself from shooting him a smile over his shoulder. “I’m more than just a pretty face, Alexander.” He turns around and hops onto the counter.

Alec rolls his eyes. “Well, I brought you some popcorn, but if you’re just going to make fun of me…”

Magnus whines. “I would never,” he swears. “Popcorn?”

Alec narrows his eyes at him suspiciously and Magnus offers him an innocent smile. “Okay.”

Magnus watches him with raised eyebrows as he slowly makes his way to where Magnus is sitting on the counter. He stops two feet away, but when Magnus tries to grab some popcorn, Alec holds the bowl out of reach. “What’s the magic word?”

“Abracadabra?”

“Smartass.”

“Told you I was more than a pretty face. Now, popcorn, please?”

Alec nods slowly. “I’ll take your request into consideration.”

“You cops are useless,” Magnus sighs dramatically.

“Request denied.”

Alec moves to turn away, but before he gets the chance to, Magnus hooks his feet behind his thighs and pulls him in.

Which, in hindsight, maybe wasn’t the best idea, with all the lingering tension and the trying to convince himself this is all just platonic. Because now Alec’s standing in between his legs, staring at him with his lips parted and he’s close enough for Magnus to feel his breath.

And also close enough for Magnus to reach behind him and snatch the bowl of popcorn out of his hands.

Alec gapes at him as Magnus stuffs a handful of popcorn into his mouth and Magnus smirks victoriously.

“You-“ Alec starts helplessly. “Just- That’s cheating.”

“Oh?” Magnus teases. “How so?”

“You just are. Cheating.”

“All is fair in love and war, Alexander.”

Alec’s face breaks into a grin, and he pokes a finger in Magnus’ ribs. “Are you calling this love?”

“No,” Magnus smiles, leaning just a little bit closer. “I’m calling this war.”

The war ends up getting canceled, because Alec mentions Magnus still hasn’t made him coffee, and then the food arrives, and that’s that.

Alec puts the XXL pizza box on the coffee table and they agree they should at least watch one movie during their so-called movie day. But then binge-watching a show sounds more appealing and Magnus convinces Alec they should watch Brooklyn nine-nine. (“Because of the cop thing?” “Because it’s funny without being offensive. Get woke, Alec.”)

Watching the first few episodes while eating pizza, Magnus almost doesn’t have time to think about everything that happened earlier. Almost.

Sure, Magnus felt – feels – some kind of attraction to Alec. But that could be platonic. That voice in his head that kept urging Magnus to kiss him doesn’t have to mean anything. It could be self-sabotage, for all he knows. They’re friends, and it’s good. He feels comfortable and possibly better than he ever has before. No need to ruin that by doing something impulsive to mess it all up. Not this time.

Alec pauses the episode suddenly and turns his body to Magnus. “We never make jokes about your job.”

Magnus raises an eyebrow at him. “What?”

“Well, we have all these inside jokes about me being a lawyer-“

“I thought you were a cop?”

“Like that one. Why don’t we ever joke about yours?”

Magnus purses his lips. “Because I don't take my job home.”

Alec frowns. “You do, though,” he counters. “Not like physical chemistry… things and lab coats,” he says, making a vague hand gesture. “But I know you do a lot of reading and writing. And your co-workers call you with questions, right?”

“Your point?”

Alec shrugs. “I don’t know. I feel like we should talk about it more. If you want.”

“I talk about my job more than you do,” Magnus replies amusedly, pulling his legs onto the couch so he can face Alec properly.

“You talk about your days at work,” Alec says, “not your job. There’s a difference.”

“You want me to talk science to you?” Magnus asks fondly.

“Yeah.” Alec looks at him seriously. “It’s important to you, and you’re im- you’re my friend.”

And so Magnus tells him. He tells him how he works together with all types of other scientists to discover and develop drugs; how he mentors the people on his team; how his favorite thing about medical science is working with accidental discoveries (“What about… helping people?” They stare at each other for a few seconds, Magnus’ eyes growing wide at the realisation, and burst into laughter. “Yes, that’s what I meant, of course.”); how he sometimes gets to go to businesses and schools to give presentations and how those days are either the most fun or downright terrible, depending on the audience.

Alec listens to him with a smile playing on his lips, only taking his eyes of Magnus when he moves to grab a slice of pizza.

“You and my sister should meet,” Alec tells him after a while. “She would really love to talk about all this stuff with you. Not that I don’t,” he adds quickly. “But she can like, actually talk with you about it.”

Magnus hums. “I’d love to meet her.”

They sit in a comfortable silence for a few minutes, eating the last two slices.

“Do you maybe- Are you free this Friday?” Magnus looks up at him. “We – Izzy, Jace and I – we have this weird tradition, New Year’s Eve Eve. We just invite some people and get dinner and celebrate the year. Or whatever. You should come.”

Magnus feels a smile grow on his lips. “Well, I wouldn’t be me if I said no to a party.”

“Oh, it’s not really a party.”

“Sure sounds like one.”

“Do you want to come or not?”

Magnus chuckles. “Yes, I do.”

Alec smiles widely at him, eyes sparkling. “Great.”

***

During the fifteen minute taxi ride, Alec tells Magnus about everyone he knows will be there tonight. “My sister, obviously. Her girlfriend, Maia. She’s really cool. My brother – Jace – and his roommate Simon. They always pretend they’re dating, for some reason.”

“Oh, you’ve told me about them before.”

“Right. Aline, the girl I work with, will be there, I think. And Luke usually steps by, too. Luke Garroway.” Alec looks down at his hands and rubs them over his knees. When Magnus doesn’t say anything, he turns his face to him.

“What?” he asks, finding Magnus looking at him with a small smile.

“Why are you nervous?” Magnus asks softly, and Alec swallows.

It’s not like this is a stressful situation. Or at least it shouldn’t be; he’s just going to hang out with all the people he’s close to. But for some reason, he can’t stop thinking about everything that could go wrong.

There’s no point in lying to Magnus about it, he’d see right through him. “I just… What if you guys don’t get along as well as I keep saying you will? What if you don’t like them at all?”

What if they all act like their weird, usual, interfering selves and try to play match maker. They would. They definitely would, and it’d make things awkward and his entire friendship with Magnus would be ruined.

“Alec,” Magnus says seriously, leaning forward. “If that’s all you’re concerned about, I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m great with people,” he adds with a playful smile.

Alec breathes out a chuckle. “I know you are.”

“Alec,” Magnus repeats, placing his hand on Alec’s knee. Alec’s eyes find Magnus’ again, and seeing the soft smile on his lips, Alec feels like he can breathe again. “It’s just me.”

Alec wants to tell him there’s nothing “just” about him, but the taxi comes to a halt in front of Izzy’s apartment. He’s not sure if he would’ve said it, otherwise.

"This is Magnus," is the first thing he says when his sister opens the door.

"Ah," Izzy says, looking pleasantly surprised. "Alec didn't tell me he'd be bringing someone."

Alec raises an eyebrow at her. "You brought that Clara girl to my birthday dinner last year without telling me."

Izzy scoffs, but her eyes are fond. "I dated her for four months, you know it's Clary. And I didn't tell you because I met her on the way there."

"My point exactly. I've told you about Magnus. Now stop being rude, he's right here."

"Oh, no, please do go on, this is very amusing," Magnus laughs as he takes Izzy's hand. "I’m assuming you're the lovely sister?"

"And you're the friend he won't shut up about," Izzy beams.

"Izzy," Alec warns, but Magnus' surprised, genuine smile is worth the embarrassment.

"It’s so nice to finally meet you.” The sincerity in her voice warms Alec’s heart, and his worries are mostly forgotten. Of course they’ll get along.

Now he just needs them all to behave.

Izzy rushes Magnus into the livingroom as Alec hangs their jackets as fast as he can, as to not leave Magnus alone with the others already.

He finds him greeting Luke, a huge smile on both their faces.

“Long time no see,” Luke jokes.

“We’ve seen more of each other in the last seven days than we usually do in three months,” Magnus says.

Luke laughs loudly, and Alec finds himself smiling. “Well, now that you live in New York, we can finally make a habit out of it.”

“Definitely. There’s still a lot of catching up left to be done.”

Luke nods his head in agreement. “I was just on my way out, unfortunately, but we’ll text.”

He gives Magnus a quick hug, says good bye to Izzy, pats Alec on the shoulder on his way to the door, and then yells, “Bye Maia. No drinking and driving.”

“I know,” Maia’s voice sounds from the kitchen. “See you tomorrow.”

Magnus and Maia hit it off, of course, mostly due to their shared interest in making fun of Alec.

“He talks about you all the time,” Maia says in that Maia way of hers that makes you think she can’t possibly be exaggerating.

Magnus smirks at Alec and leans against the counter, next to Maia. “And what does he say?”

“Don’t believe anything she says,” Alec practically yells from behind the refridgerator door, almost spilling the juice he just poured Magnus.

“You know,” Maia continues. “Just how great you are and how much more he loves you than he loves the rest of us. I think he also mentioned something about you being really cute when you sleep and how he loves watchi-“

Alec throws the now empty plastic bottle at her. “Stop feeding him lies.”

“Oh, gladly,” Maia grins over her shoulder, before continuing to put snacks into bowls. “What he really said is that seeing you is his favorite part of-“

“I’m literally never talking to you again,” Alec says loudly, as if Magnus won’t hear the rest of the sentence then. If Maia had more, he’s saved by the bell. Literally. No way he’s leaving Magnus alone with both Maia and Izzy, though. Not that he doesn’t trust them, but he doesn’t trust them. He puts Magnus’ drink onto the dinner table. “Wanna come get that with me, Magnus?”

Magnus smiles amusedly at him as they walk out of the kitchen. “I’m your favorite part of the day?” he teases.

And Alec could easily say that Maia was lying. Magnus probably already thinks she was. But she wasn’t; not about the last part.

Instead he doesn’t say anything, just glances at Magnus before opening the door.

“Aline!”

“Hey Alec.” Aline gives him a quick hug before turning to Magnus. “And you must be the guy he’s always texting when he’s supposed to be working.”

“Et tu, Aline,” Alec mutters as the two shake hands.

When they get back into the apartment, Izzy and Maia have moved to the living room and are sitting on the left half of the big couch. Alec pulls Magnus with him to the smaller couch, and he wills himself not to feel disappointed when Magnus leaves some space between them. Aline kisses the girls’ cheeks and then sits down next to Alec.

“So,” Maia says as she grabs a handful of popcorn from the bowl on the coffee table. “Do you guys wanna hate-watch New Year’s Eve before or after dinner?”

By the time the doorbell rings again, they’ve decided after would be better, cause they can’t watch it sober and they shouldn’t drink too much on an empty stomach.

The food actually arrives before Jace and Simon do, which is surprising to exactly no one.

“You’re late, again,” Alec hears Maia say from the hallway when they finally show up.

They apologize in unison, Jace adding, “We were busy making out.”

Alec glances at Magnus in a that’s-Jace-and-Simon-for-you way, and Magnus smiles at him.

“I knew he was gonna say that,” Izzy says, beaming at Simon when he walks in.

“That’s because he always says that.” He sits down on the couch, but then he seems to notice Magnus and he stands back up again to shake his hand. “Simon.” He smiles at Alec and Aline before dropping himself back onto couch, feet in Izzy’s lap. Jace and Maia walk into the living room and Jace lets his eyes fall on Magnus. “Anyway. As always, he just lost his car keys.”

Jace scoffs. “Did not.” He slaps the back of Simon’s head as he walks past him to get to Alec – or Magnus, rather. He introduces himself as quickly as Simon did, winks at Alec, presses a kiss to Aline’s cheek, and sits down in Simon’s lap. Maia rolls her eyes at them and goes to her original spot next to Izzy.

Alec looks at Magnus, who shifts a little bit closer. And then at Izzy, who is studying the two of them. When Alec makes eye contact with her, she snaps out of it. “The fact that you’re even willing to get into a car with him amazes me,” she says to Simon. Jace moved, apparently, cause he’s now sitting between them, with Simon’s legs in his lap. “Especially with you being as afraid of dying as you are.”

Alec chuckles as Simon shoots her a look. “What? I’m not afraid of– Okay, I’m a little bit afraid of dying. But he’s not that bad of a driver, you know?”

Alec frowns and Maia raises an eyebrow at Simon. “I thought you two just pretended to be into each other, but you must really be blinded by feelings if you can say that with a straight face.”

“Hey, I’m not that bad,” Jace starts to protest.

“You almost killed me once,” Alec reminds him.

“But did you die?”

Alec tries to glare at him, but there’s no fire in it, cause he feels Magnus lean a little closer.

Jace and Simon start arguing over something Luke-related, but all Alec can focus on is the way Magnus’ shoulder shakes against his when he chuckles at whatever it is they’re saying.

***

During dinner they all put two and two together. That this Magnus is the Magnus Luke’s mentioned so many times, and Maia and Simon are the Maia and Simon Luke took under his wing when they had no other place to go.

“So many smart people here and none of us realized,” Simon sighs.

“Oh, no, I realized,” Izzy tells them. “I just thought the rest of you did, too. You people are pathetic.”

Magnus likes her. They’re gonna be getting along just fine.

The rest of dinner they – or the two of them, at least – spend talking about their jobs. Magnus learns Izzy is basically a genius, having earned both her degree in chemistry and in biology by the time she turned 23, which is her current age. Magnus doesn’t know how she did it, and also doesn’t know how she did it. She tells him how she used to be an intern at the forensic department Luke’s team works with, and that she met both Maia and Simon through him.

All the while Alec is looking at her with a proud smile on his face.

Once they’re done with dinner and have finished the third bottle of wine, it’s time to hate-watch New Year’s Eve. Which is a whole thing here, apparently.

The whole group starts moving, and without even a mention of some sort of plan, Maia and Aline start taking every bottle of alcohol they can find to the living room, where Jace and Simon are pushing the coffee table to the wall. Izzy’s gone God knows where and yells at Alec to hurry up. Only then Magnus realizes Alec is still sitting next to him, looking amusedly at the confusion on Magnus’ face. Then he stands up to help Izzy out and Magnus joins the others in the living room.

Alec and Izzy come back with a huge pile of blankets and pillows, and drop them between the big couch and the TV, where the coffee table was standing just two minutes ago.

“Couch or floor?”

“Hm?” He looks up at Alec.

“Do you want to sit on the couch or on the floor?” he repeats. The three girls are already cuddling up on the small couch with a blanket and each a cup in hand, while Simon and Jace are lying on top of a pile of pillows on the floor, two bottles of beer in reach.

“Couch.”

Alec collects two pillows and a blanket, and Magnus quickly makes them both a drink, before turning back to the couch.

And it’s a big couch, okay. As in, four people could sit there and be comfortable. But Alec put both the pillows in one corner and he’s sitting there with one arm on the backrest, and the space is simply made for Magnus. So he puts their cups on the small table next to the couch and sits down at Alec’s side.

They’re barely touching, though, as Magnus doesn’t know if Alec wants more than this when all his friends are around.

But then Alec moves his arm off the back of the couch and drapes it around Magnus’ shoulder, giving it a tug soft enough it doesn’t force Magnus to come closer, but lets him know he can.

And so he does.

Alec hums contently. “Wan’ a blanket?” he mumbles.

It’s lying next to Magnus, but instead of taking it, Magnus just nuzzles closer to Alec. “It’s warm enough.”

Alec huffs out a chuckle. “Yeah.”

So the game is to drink every time one of the characters says “New Year”, which basically just means they take a sip every five seconds until they forget about it.

When Alec stands up to refill their cups, Magnus moves into his corner spot and stretches his legs out onto the couch. Alec pouts at him and puts their cups on the table, before snatching one of the pillows and sitting down on the other side of the couch, mirroring Magnus.

Now Magnus is the one pouting.

Yes, they are grown men.

Alec just smiles at him and puts his legs in between Magnus’.

And no, Magnus does not feel a tug in his stomach when Alec’s feet brush against his thighs.

About an hour in, Simon calls for a bathroom break.

Magnus is about to get up too, but Simon and Jace race each other to the hallway, so he figures he might as well just wait here.

Alec nudges his thigh. “There’s another one. I’ll show you.”

They walk through what appears to be Izzy’s bedroom and Alec points at the second door it has. “Right there. Want me to, eh, wait here?”

“I think I’ll find my way back, thank you,” Magnus chuckles. But before Alec can leave, he says his name.

“Yeah?”

“Your friends are great. Nothing to worry about.”

Alec shoots him a smile.

When Magnus gets back to the livingroom, Aline and Izzy are checking their phones and there’s voices coming from the kitchen.

And Alec is lying flat on his back, taking up the entire couch. He grins up at Magnus, but Magnus decides to just take a page out of his book and sits down on the armrest by Alec’s feet. He makes a point out of looking at the paused screen instead of at Alec.

But then a foot pokes his hip and Alec mumbles a “c’mere” and, God, Magnus is only human. He looks.

“Not until you move,” he smiles, and Alec grunts. He sits up and pushes himself back into the corner, swinging his legs off the couch.

“I’ve moved.”

Magnus smirks at him and sits down at the exact opposite end.

It’s not what Alec wanted, obviously, and he lets out an unsatisfied groan.

“What?” Magnus asks innocently, raising an eyebrow at him.

“You know what.”

“I really don’t,” Magnus lies.

Alec loses his patience, and scoots into the spot next to Magnus, cuddling up to him.

Magnus catches Izzy and Aline looking, and while Aline at least pretends she wasn’t, Izzy just smiles at him. It’s not a smirk, nothing smug. An actual, genuine smile.

 

“So are you guys staying the night?” Izzy asks them once the movie’s over. Magnus looks at Alec, who turns his head to look back at him. Magnus can tell Alec’s tipsy just by the way he lets his eyes roam over Magnus’ face for a moment to long, licking his lips.

“Um, we weren’t planning to,” he says slowly. “’s getting kind of late, but if we leave now, we’ll be fine.”

“Hah,” Jace yells accusingly. “He just wants to get away before truth or dare. He wants a way out before Magnus learns all his dirty secrets.”

Alec groans. “Don’t you guys think we’re getting a little old-“

“Your complaining about family traditions is getting a little old, Alec,” Izzy shoots back. “This party is only just getting started, I’m sure Magnus agrees.”

“We usually just fall asleep on the floor, anyway. Enough room for one more,” says Simon.

“You guys will stay the night, right?”

Alec sighs and looks at Magnus again. His face is close enough Magnus could count his eyelashes. “Your call.”

Magnus shrugs. “I hear the party is only just getting started. Wouldn’t want to miss out on those secrets of yours.”

“Yes!” Izzy cheers.

While the others start yelling about how they’re gonna play truth or dare, Alec sits up straight and turns his body to Magnus. “’f you wanna leave at any point, just tell me and we’ll go home.”

Magnus smiles at him. “Of course.”

Alec stares at him for a few more seconds and then grins in a way he only does when he’s had a few drinks. He turns and leans back against Magnus’ chest.

“Okay, so,” Izzy says loudly, “you’re allowed to pass, but then you have to drink.”

“I thought we were taking our clothes off,” Jace says.

“You know what, I think that’s a great idea,” Simon agrees.

Izzy throws a handful of popcorn at the two of them, and Magnus can feel Alec’s shoulders shake against his chest.

He’s giggling.

And Magnus almost feels bad when the game really quickly turns into a game of embarrassing Alec. Almost.

“Alec, truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Kiss Magnus,” Jace says enthusiastically.

“I said truth, you asshole,” Alec laughs, sitting up to throw a pillow at his brother.

Magnus ignores the backflip his heart just did and laughs it off. When Alec sits back, he sits back against the couch.

Magnus isn’t disappointed. He’s not.

“Okay, okay,” Jace sighs. “Which person in this room would you like to kiss most?”

“I hate you,” Alec groans, but Magnus can see him smile before he hides his face in his hands.

“That’s not an answer,” Izzy taunts.

Alec drops his hands to shoot her a look. “Four of you are my sibling or a girl or both.”

“And two aren’t,” Aline adds with a smirk.

Simon nods sadly. “May the best man win, Magnus.”

Magnus chuckles lightly and looks at Alec. He’s leaning back, staring at his hands, a smile tugging at his lips. “Are you guys really gonna make me say it?”

“Yes.”

Alec sighs theatrically. Tipsy. “Magnus, obviously.”

So then that’s out there. It was already kind of out there, Magnus knows that, but now it’s out there.

“And now Magnus and I are gonna get some water. Simon take my turn.”

Half the reason Magnus gets up when Alec does is because the latter stands up so quickly he almost falls out of tipsy clumsiness. Magnus catches his arm and Alec mumbles a ‘thank you’.

“What kind of booby prize is that?” he hears Simon say as they walk to the kitchen.

Alec doesn’t actually get any water. Of course he doesn’t. He sits down on the edge of the table and smiles softly at Magnus. “I just- ‘m sorry about them.”

Magnus chuckles and steps closer, so Alec’s feet are on either side of his. “Don’t worry. I know you had a limited set of options.”

“That’s not-” Alec starts, but shakes his head. “I just… don’t want ‘em to ruin our friendship by being like that. Cause I really like being your friend.”

Magnus smiles. “And I like being yours. That’s all that matters, Alec.”

Alec nods slowly. “Yeah,” he breathes.

“And for the record,” Magnus adds before walking away, “I would’ve picked you, too.”

***

Waking up with Magnus is nothing new for Alec at this point. Waking up on top of him is. Well, half on top. He can feel Magnus’ heart beat against his cheek, and his left arm is draped over Magnus’ waist, while his left leg is hooked around both of Magnus’.

It’s… Well, it’s nice, but also kind of not very comfortable on this couch. And it’s almost impossible to move without waking Magnus up.

Or entirely impossible.

Magnus opens his eyes as Alec is hovering above him, trying to push himself up on his left hand and his right elbow.

It’s going fine until Magnus smiles and says “hi” in his raspy morning voice and Alec’s arm decides to give in.

Magnus groans at the sudden weight, but starts chuckling before Alec can apologize.

“Morning,” Alec mumbles. “I’m gonna try that again.”

At least he’s not lying on his own arm anymore and can actually get into a push up position. So that helps. Getting up without accidentally aligning their hips is a trickier task, but he manages.

“You get extra cuddly when you drink,” Magnus teases as he sits up. Alec sits down next to him as soon as there’s room.

“Apparently so,” Alec laughs softly. “Sorry.”

Magnus nudges their shoulders together. “I’ll consider forgiving you.”

The two of them are the last ones up, Alec realizes, only then noticing the sounds and laughter coming from the kitchen.

“Breakfast?”

Maia starts slow clapping when they walk in. It’s just the girls at the table, each a cup of coffee. “There they are. Even Jace was up before you guys.”

“Not just that,” Izzy says. “He and Simon already left. Had some kind of plans, apparently.”

Alec frowns. “They don’t have any other friends.”

“I know.”

Alec shakes his head and looks at Magnus. “Coffee?”

Magnus nods and sits down next to Aline as Alec turns on the coffee machine and grabs two mugs.

“Cozy, waking together, isn’t it?” Izzy asks. Of course she does.

“We’ve slept together before,” Alec says before his brain catches up with his mouth. His eyes widen and he makes a point of not looking away from the coffee machine. Maybe no one heard how that sounded.

But they did. Of course they did. Izzy is the first one to start laughing, and Maia yells, “too much information, Alec.” And Alec kind of hates them.

He only turns around when he can no longer avoid it, handing Magnus his mug and sitting down as the four of them grin amusedly at him.

 

Izzy invites Magnus along to some New Year’s eve party, but Magnus politely declines, telling them he already has plans. Alec is a little bit disappointed, but then he thinks that maybe it might be for the best. And then he isn’t sure why he thinks that.

They take a taxi back to Brooklyn and Magnus starts talking about how much he enjoyed last night and everything just feels a little too perfect. Because Magnus is there and Magnus has his hand on top of Alec’s and he’s smiling and telling Alec how much he likes his siblings and his friends and all Alec can think about is that Magnus is gonna grow tired of him soon enough or that Alec will do something to mess up their friendship, like fall in love with him. To just name an example.

***panic attack***

Magnus hugs him good bye and the second the elevator doors close, Alec’s throat starts to close up. His legs carry him to his apartment somehow and then he can’t get the fucking door open because his fucking hands are shaking and he doesn’t know where to steady himself cause he’s seeing in tunnel vision and when he finally gets the key in the lock he pulls it back out and he doesn’t know why he did that or why he can’t even open a fucking door or why this is happening when nothing is even wrong.

By the time the door opens, Alec is pretty sure they can hear him hyperventilating on the fifth floor. He walks in, grabbing at his forehead and his hair and his throat and he doesn’t know where to go or what to do or how to just pause everything. So he sits down in the middle of the hallway with his face buried in his knees and he’s making weird noises and they’re loud and they hurt his throat and the more he tries to control his breathing the faster it gets. And the room gets brighter and brighter and everything is so fucking loud but at the same time he can’t hear anything but the noises annoy him and his skin annoys him and he wants to just claw it off and he wants to scream but all that comes out of his mouth is some weird high pitched groan and for fucks sake he can’t even scream and his jaw is clenched so hard but not hard enough.

He needs to punch something or break something or hurt something or push or pull but he can’t move. But he can clench and unclench his jaw until it hurts and dig his nails into his skin until he feels like he can breathe again.

And then he’s sobbing and fuck he’s so fucking loud or maybe he isn’t, he’s not sure, but at least he’s breathing and his breaths are getting slower as he sobs and his fingers relax on top the painful marks and his jaw relaxes and he can breathe. He can breathe he can breathe he can breathe.

And then nothing. Then he scoots over to the wall so he can lean against it with his legs stretched out in front of him and stare at the other wall and feel nothing. His thoughts come and go and really, he doesn’t even need to breathe right now. He thinks about every single bad thing about himself. And then every single thing that he has fucked up. And every single thing he’s gonna fuck up in the future. He feels nothing. The wall has a stain. He should redo it next year. He’s not allowed to paint the walls. He’ll put white paint over this white paint and someone will notice and he’ll get in trouble because that’s just how it goes with him, isn’t it?

He stares and ticks the sides of his shoes together in a steady rhythm. Magnus likes his friends and his friends like him but Magnus’ friends will hate Alec. Magnus will realize how clingy and annoying he is. And boring.

He doesn’t feel anything.

His own friends hate him, he decides. And so do Izzy and Jace. Max wouldn’t even recognize him on the street. And he wouldn’t recognize Max either, because he’s how terrible of a brother he is. He’s selfish and he doesn’t deserve his siblings.

Now he’s crying again.

And then he’s back to nothing.

He should probably get ready.

So he does.

He fakes a smile when he meets Izzy at the party.

She frowns. Probably because she hates him. Possibly because she can see through his fake smile and knows something is wrong and she cares about him. Could be either, really.

Sometimes he feels better after he drinks but the thought of anything even coming near his mouth right now makes him want to throw up.

He lets someone kiss him at midnight.

When he gets home, he throws up.

 ***panic attack over***

 

The best part of waking up the next morning is those first few minutes where he doesn’t remember last night happened. And then he does remember, but he just… doesn’t really care. He’s annoyed with himself, that’s all.

He finds his phone somewhere on the ground. 11:14. 19 messages. He only opens Magnus’.

Magnus: HAPPY NEW YEAE!!!!! <3

Magnus: This seems liek a good moment to get cheesy dont mind if i do

Magnus: Im rly grateful i met u and i get to go into this year with u as my friend. Ur the best part of my days too ;) i hope u had a good nye and have an amazing new year .with me by your side of course!! <3

Alec tries to think like he did yesterday, so he won’t be surprised if Magnus stops wanting to be his friend eventually. No: when.

If.

Alec rolls his eyes at himself, and he isn’t sure if he’s rolling them at his now self or his yesterday self. The latter, he thinks.

He knows Izzy and Jace could never hate him. He doesn’t know why it’s so hard to believe sometimes. Even Maia doesn’t hate him, cause she laughs at his jokes every now and then. And people like Maia don’t laugh at your jokes if they hate you. Aline couldn’t possibly hate him, because she asked him to keep their shared office for another two years, even though the second desk in Helen’s office opened up.

So at least that part wasn’t true. Not that he’ll believe – or even remember – that the next time it happens.

Alec kind of just wants to stay in bed all day, but the noises his stomach is making are starting to annoy him, so he gets up to eat. If he still wants to go back to bed after, he can, he promises himself.

After he’s eaten he really just wants to see Magnus, though. So he goes for a quick shower and a change of clothes and then makes his way to the fifth floor. Apartment 502.

He knocks. And then knocks again. And again.

Just when he’s about to give up, the elevator doors open and Magnus steps out.

I know a walk of shame when I see one,” Aline’s words from weeks earlier sound in the back of Alec’s head. So does he, apparently.

“Alexander,” Magnus beams. He looks exhausted, but happily so. His arms fit perfectly around Alec and Alec hugs back like it’s easy. Maybe it is with Magnus.

“Happy new year,” Alec mumbles into the crook of his neck.

“Happy new year.”

“So did you, eh, have fun last night?” Alec asks as they walk inside.

Magnus sheds his coat. “I had fun. And then I, you know, had fun. Though I don’t really remember that part.”

Alec forces out a chuckle. “Okay, good. That’s, eh… good.”

Banging start of the new year.” Magnus walks to the kitchen and Alec follows him, awkwardly clearing his throat. “What about you? Did you have fun?” Magnus asks as he takes two mugs out of the cabinet.

Yes, I had an overwhelming panic attack, kissed some stranger at midnight and threw up. “Yeah.” He leans back against the table.

Magnus puts the mugs down and turns to Alec, his face almost sad as he steps closer to him. “Then what’s wrong?” he asks softly, putting his hand on Alec’s arm.

Alec swallows. He knows Magnus will see through him if he lies. The question is if it matters. “It doesn’t matter.”

“If it’s upsetting you, it matters.”

“It’s not-“ Alec sighs, looking up to try and find the words as if they’re sticking to the ceiling. “I just… kissed someone. Or someone kissed me, and…”

“And…?” Magnus prompts gently. “It was bad?”

“No, that’s not even… near the point.” Magnus’ hand falls from his arm when Alec moves to rub his hands over his face in frustration. “I just had a bad night. I guess. Forget it.” He moves away from Magnus though he doesn’t really know why, and apparently neither does Magnus.

“Alec, hey,” he says to make Alec stop and turn around, voice firm but gentle. “This isn’t how we do things.”

“What isn’t?”

“Pushing each other away.” Alec huffs. “You don’t have to tell me what happened; it’s your business and if you don’t want to tell me, don’t. But don’t act like I couldn’t possibly understand and you have to deal with everything by yourself.”

Alec chews on the inside of his cheek and stares at Magnus. He feels his face soften at the way Magnus is looking at him, though he can’t really put a name to it. “Yeah, sorry. You’re right.”

“I usually am,” Magnus smiles softly.

Alec rolls his eyes at him and moves back to the edge of the table. “I, eh. Well, I had a, um, panic attack, I guess. When I got home yesterday. And I usually do something kind of dumb after. Hence, the kiss.”

Magnus shrugs at him. He takes a few steps closer, but not too close. Not close enough. “Just a kiss, right?”

Alec breathes out a chuckle. “Yeah, no, not me. I don’t- I don’t just kiss people.”

Magnus tilts his head and studies him, lips pursed. “You okay now?”

“Yeah,” Alec says. “Yeah, it was just yesterday. And… Well, it just happens, sometimes.”

Magnus nods. “I know. I have them myself.” Alec raises his eyebrows in surprise. “Not as much as I used to, but still. So I get it. And if you want to talk-“ Alec starts to protest, but Magnus raises his hand, “-ever, I’m here. You know that, right?”

Alec lets out a deep breath. “Yeah. I know. Thank you. And I’m here for you. Emotional and legal matters,” he jokes carefully.

A smile slowly spreads on Magnus’ face until he’s beaming. “Case closed?”

“Case closed.”

***

It’s the first day of the new year and they probably shouldn’t spend it on Magnus’ couch, but they do. They are each curled up on one half of the couch, book in their laps, but Magnus doesn’t think either of them is actually reading. He knows he isn’t. He’s too tired for his eyes to focus.

“Magnus.”

He feels something against his foot, but he just keeps staring at the blurry page. A smile tugs on his lips when he feels Alec’s foot pokes his ankle. “Yes?”

“You are the best part of my day.”

Magnus smiles and glances up at Alec, smugly. “I know.” He looks back down at his book.

Alec says nothing for a few seconds and then kicks him in the shin. “I changed my mind, you’re the worst.”

Magnus hums amusedly. “You love me.”

Alec scoffs. “If you say so.”

Tearing his eyes away from Alec’s a second time is too hard. So he doesn’t. Alec smiles lazily at him for a few seconds before turning back to his book. Magnus can tell he’s not really reading, though.

He lets his eyes roam over Alec’s body. He’s huddled up against some pillows, a book he got from Magnus resting against his thighs. One of his knees is a little lower than the other one so his foot could touch Magnus’ – is still touching Magnus’. He’s stuck the toes of his other foot into the space between the two cushions.

“I just realized,” he starts suddenly. Magnus doesn’t care he catches him staring. “It’s been a month since we first met.”

Magnus smiles at the memory. “Feels like it’s been longer.”

“I know,” Alec says. “I’m really glad I bumped into you.”

Magnus stares at him for a few seconds and then just… starts laughing. “Oh god,” he chuckles. “You were so embarrassing.”

Alec bites his lip, probably to stop himself from smiling, and throws a pillow at Magnus. “And you’re mean. I was trying to be nice.”

And it was nice. But Magnus can’t stop himself from belly laughing. “You called yourself irresponsible for texting while you were walking.”

Alec hits him in the stomach with another pillow, but it only makes him laugh harder. “Shut up,” he groans, but Magnus can hear him trying to suppress his laughter.

Magnus calms down after a few moments. “Okay, okay, sorry,” he says, taking a few dramatically deep breaths and wiping the non-existent tears from under his eyes. He looks at Alec with his lip between his teeth to keep himself from laughing again. Alec is trying to look unimpressed, but he just looks amused. “You held my hand,” Magnus whispers, using every bit of strength he has not to burst into laughter again.

Alec tries to glare at him, but there’s no heat in it. “You should put ‘stop bullying Alec’ on your list of new year’s resolutions.”

“Sure. I never stick to them anyway.”

“Not with that attitute.”

“I’m just teasing you,” Magnus smiles, nudging Alec’s knee with his foot. “I like it when you hold my hand.”

Alec raises an eyebrow at him. “I never hold your hand.”

“Maybe you should.”

“Are you flirting with me?”

“Yes, you inspired me to stick to my ‘flirt with Alec’ resolution.”

Alec rolls his eyes, grinning. “Really? What else is on there?”

“Oh, the usual,” Magnus says. “Go to the gym more; eat healthier; embarrass Alec; work less…” Make sure I don’t mess up this friendship…

“I think you’ve embarrassed me enough for the next twelve months.”

“Hey, don’t sell yourself short. I couldn’t have done it without you,” Magnus says semi-seriously. “Like when you told the girls we’ve slept together befo-”

The same pillow hits his face and Magnus is belly laughing again and Alec’s standing up from the couch and walking away, but Magnus catches his hand. Alec glares at him but doesn’t move.

“Alexander,” Magnus says once he’s calmed down, and tugs on Alec’s hand as a ‘sit down’. He moves his legs so he can sit up on his knees, and Alec sits down in front of him, in the middle of the couch. “Hey,” Magnus says gently, squeezing his hand. “Forgive me?”

Alec glances at him, and Magnus can tell he’s fighting a smile. “No.”

“Please?” he asks, squeezing Alec’s hand again. He leans closer and tilts his head to get a better look at Alec’s face.

“You haven’t even apologized,” Alec deadpans.

“I’m very sorry.”

Alec raises an unimpressed eyebrow at him. “I know you can do better than that.” There’s a hint of a smirk on his lips.

And Magnus probably shouldn’t be looking at his lips while they’re inches apart.

“I do love a challenge.”

“Blow me away.”

Magnus grins at him. “You realize how that sounded, right?”

“I know how it sounded,” Alec says, not looking away from Magnus. “You’re not helping your case.”

“What would my lawyer advice me?”

“Your lawyer’s busy.”

Magnus hums thoughtfully, putting both his and Alec’s hand underneath his chin, elbow resting on his thigh. “Whatever could I do to make Alec Lightwood forgive me…” he says slowly. He moves his lips to Alec’s knuckles. “I’ll let you choose what we get for dinner.”

“I didn’t know I was staying for dinner.”

“I’ll let you stay for dinner,” Magnus says, lips brushing Alec’s hand.

Alec chuckles. Victory.

“And I’ll let you pick a movie,” he adds instead of suggesting they watch a movie.

“I didn’t know we were watching a movie,” Alec smiles amusedly.

“Well, I need a reason to cuddle you, don’t I?”

“You don’t.”

Magnus smiles against Alec’s skin. “Noted.” He presses a quick kiss to Alec’s hand before he can change his mind, and stands up. “Coffee or tea?”

***

The first time they fight – a Thursday night in January – Magnus has seen it coming for days. They both have a lot going on and they’re both easily irritated and it’s a dumb fight over a dumb thing but it’s a fight nonetheless.

“So that whole not pushing each other away thing only applies when it suits you? Is that it?”

“I’m just tired, Alec.”

“Of me?”

“No.” Magnus sighs in frustration. “God, not everything’s about you.”

Alec slams the door on his way out.

They ignore each other in the lobby the next morning, Alec looking as tired as Magnus feels. Alec doesn’t even so much as glance at him. And if that’s how he wants to play it, he better prepare to lose.

Of course, that night Alec knocks on Magnus’ door and when Magnus opens it, all they do is stare at each other until they both have to suppress a smile. He steps aside eventually, to let Alec in.

“I’m sorry,” Alec says once they’re seated on the couch. “That whole… fight, all of it, it was just… unnecessary. But to be fair, I think we were both kind of stressed.” He carefully takes Magnus’ hand in his. “Forgive me?”

“I’ll consider it,” Magnus sighs theatrically.

“As your attorney I’m advising you to forgive me.”

“Conflict of interest much?”

Alec smiles and Magnus kind of hates how happy it makes him.

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Alec tells him softly.

“I slept like a baby,” Magnus jokes.

Alec rolls his eyes. “Can I sleep here tonight?”

“You can sleep with me whenever you want.”

Alec blinks at him. “You’d make fun of me for saying something like that,” he says matter-of-factly.

Magnus chuckles. “Yeah, I would.”

“I changed my mind. I’m not sorry and I’m not sleeping here.” Alec stands up and tries to walk away, but Magnus grips his hand tighter, laughing.

He tugs softly, but Alec doesn’t sit back down so Magnus stands up instead, wrapping his arms around Alec’s neck. He brushes his lips from Alec’s cheek to his ear. “Sleep with me tonight, Alexander,” he teases, voice almost a whisper. He’s pretty sure Alec has stopped breathing. “Go to bed with me.”

Alec huffs out a shaky breath. “I-”

Magnus pulls away and smirks at him. “Yes, Alexander?”

Alec glares weakly. “I hate you.”

“Your mouth says ‘hate’, but your body says ‘love’.”

Alec’s cheeks flame up and he turns to walk away.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” Magnus assures him. “Alec?”

Alec turns around but hides his face in his hands. “What?”

“Please sleep in my bed with me tonight.”

Alec sighs and drops his hands. “Okay.”

Now listen. Magnus is a smart guy, okay? He’s not oblivious. He knows all this is way past platonic. That wanting to kiss Alec and cuddle with him and fix the little problem he created down there isn’t some kind of dude bro friend crush.

But he also knows that making a move would change things. Maybe for better, possibly for worse. And he’s all for taking risks, really. But he can’t risk their friendship.

And so when they’re in bed and Alec wraps an arm around his waist, plants a kiss on his cheek and buries his face in his neck, Magnus just takes a deep breath and lies still.

***

Waking up in Magnus’ bed feels new. Waking up in Magnus’ bed with Magnus feels surreal.

Maybe that’s why Alec feels comfortable slowly running his fingers up and down Magnus’ side.

Magnus is lying on his back. His eyes are closed, but the content smile on his lips suggests he’s awake.

Alec presses his face into Magnus’ shoulder and presses a soft kiss there. “Good morning.”

Magnus doesn’t respond, so Alec pushes himself up on his elbow to check if maybe he was wrong and Magnus is still asleep. But his smile has gotten wider and his eyelids – despite being shut – are fluttering a little.

“I know you’re awake, Magnus Bane,” Alec says softly. “Don’t make me tickle you.”

Magnus’ eyes snap open as he grabs Alec’s wrist and moves his hand away from his side in under half a second. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Wouldn’t I?”

“No.”

“Let go of me, then,” Alec challenges.

Magnus stares up at him and purses his lips thoughtfully. “Maybe I like holding your hand.”

“You’re holding my wrist.”

Magnus seems to consider that for a second and then slides his fingers down to Alec’s hand. “Now I’m not.”

Alec chuckles softly and looks down at where Magnus laces their fingers together and drops their hands on his stomach.

“Have you forgiven me yet?” Alec brushes his thumb along Magnus’.

“What do you think?”

“I think that question calls for speculation.”

Magnus rolls his eyes fondly. “Yes, I have forgiven you. And I’m sorry, too. I know you were asking it out of insecurity, not to make it about you.” He stares into Alec’s eyes and licks his lips. “I could never be tired of you, Alec.” Alec swallows. “I’m really glad I met you.”

Having Magnus look at him like that – with so much love in his eyes – while they’re holding hands in bed feels like a dream.

Maybe that’s why Alec leans in and softly pushes his lips against Magnus’.