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Good Our Whole Lives

Chapter Text

part one

we’re good guys but we can’t be good every night
we’re good guys but we can’t be good our whole lives


Everyone comes to Pandemonium.

That is, of course, what Magnus made it for. Mundane or Downworlder, vampire or werewolf. Everyone is welcome at Pandemonium.

That includes the street girls and rent boys, as long as no drugs pass between anyone out in the open. Magnus would never dream of depriving them of such a fertile hunting ground.

They say that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, and it’s just as true for the Downworld as the mundane one. Pandemonium sees a rotating crew of Seelies, vampires, even the occasional lone wolf prowling for tricks and taking them to the back alley, or sometimes, if they’re lucky, a nearby motel.

But this is the first time Magnus has ever heard of a nephilim hustling his crowd.

“Show me,” Magnus tells Elias, who has just whispered this tidbit in his ear. They’re on the balcony, the dance floor spread below them like it’s Magnus’ sovereign kingdom. Which, in a way, it is. Elias glaces over the writhing bodies for a moment, then points.

“Who are you,” Magnus breathes without thinking. Obviously, he is a nephilim. Taller than most of the people around him, with a shock of dark hair. His dark runes over the pale skin of his arms and neck and a little bit of his chest are all put on very attractive display by his tight black tank top. His body rolls and writhes to the beat of the song, and it may look like he’s lost in the music, but there’s a little bit of invitation there. A subtle tilt of his head that says, this is only a preview, if you can pay.

A very attractive display indeed.

Even as Magnus watches, a man steps into the nephilim’s space, crowding against his back. The man is almost as tall as the nephilim, and his skin paler. Vampire, Magnus notes. The vampire leans down and says something into the nephilim’s ear, tries to hang on to the nephilim’s hips, but the nephilim evades his touch, all while making it seem like it’s just part of his dance. The nephilim tilts his head back and says something to the vampire. The vampire pauses, then nods, then they’re both moving to the back door that Magnus knows leads to the alley.

“Hmmm,” Magnus says.

There have been nephilim prostitutes before, though admittedly even in Magnus’ long life, he’s only heard of a few. But they were, inevitably, nephilim that had been stripped of their runes and cast out by the Clave, forced to make their way in a mundane world where their skills were mostly useless and they understood little.

But this boy is clearly not de-runed.

Curiouser and curiouser, as a dear friend of Magnus’ once said. Magnus leans against the railing and looks down without really seeing much of anything, lost in thought.

Some time later, he notices the boy again, slipping out of the back hallway and onto the dance floor. Magnus is pushing off of the railing and heading down the stairs before consciously making the decision to move. He loses sight of him briefly when he steps off the stairs and into the crush of bodies that is Pandemonium’s dance floor. But he moves unerringly in the direction he last saw the boy and, using his own not-inconsiderable height, finally sees him.

The nephilim is even more impressive up close: really quite tall, and lean but with well-defined muscle. A faint sheen of sweat reflects the lights and makes him almost glow. His hair is tousled like people have been running their hands through it - which is probably the case, but the effect is sexy rather than off-putting.

Magnus reaches out and brushes the boy’s elbow. His head whips around and his body follows.

When he sees Magnus, he smiles.

Not a practiced come-hither smile, but a broad, genuine-looking, almost goofy smile. It disarms Magnus enough that he doesn’t stop the boy when he steps close and rolls his hips. But the large black rune on his neck catches Magnus’ eye, and he remembers that he isn’t here to dance.

“Come with me,” he tells the boy. His smile flickers, then fades, his face settling into wariness. Magnus feels a second of inexplicable disappointment, but dismisses it. He turns and walks off the dance floor, the nephilim close on his heels.

He takes him to his office. Once inside, Magnus leans against the edge of his desk and crosses his arms, regarding the boy. The boy slouches back near the door, as if he might run out at any moment. But the insouciance doesn’t come naturally. He’s clearly uncomfortable - probably thinking he’s about to get kicked out - and he’d rather be standing at attention. Such a Shadowhunter, Magnus thinks.

“How much?” Magnus asks, then presses his lips together because that wasn’t what he meant to ask at all.

The boy’s eyes widen slightly, then he settles deeper into his slouch. “Mouth?” he drawls, “or ass?”

It’s a good question, and one that sets off a delightful display of images in Magnus’ mind. The boy would look very fetching bent over the desk.

Or this is the moment that Magnus could bring this all back under control and ask the nephilim the question he brought him here to ask.

He says, “mouth.”

The boy’s eyes flick around the room for barely a second before he brings them back to Magnus. “A hundred. Cash.”

Good boy. He’s taken in the obvious wealth displayed in Magnus’ office and adjusted his price accordingly. Magnus approves on general principle. Holding the boy’s gaze, Magnus snaps his fingers, and a crisp one hundred dollar bill appears in a crackle of blue magic.

The boy smiles again. Not the broad, happy smile from earlier, but a smirk. He slinks up to Magnus, crowding in close, closer than necessary, and plucks the bill from his fingers. Then he slides to his knees. Slowly, making sure his body comes in contact with Magnus’ in all the right places.

He makes quick work of Magnus’ belt and buttons and doesn’t bother pulling the pants past Magnus’ thighs before leaning in and swallowing Magnus to the root.

Magnus chokes out an involuntary groan, then bites down hard on his bottom lip to forestall any other noises. It’s harder than he thought, because this nephilim proceeds to give him the best blowjob he’s had in probably decades. He sucks like a Hoover, knows how to use his tongue, and has no gag reflex as far as Magnus can tell. Magnus is very close to embarrassing himself, so he slides a hand into the boy’s hair and tugs just a little to give himself something else to focus on.

The boy slows and looks up at Magnus through his lashes. He slides his mouth down Magnus’ dick again and stops, looking at Magnus, like he’s waiting for something. It’s an obscene picture: Magnus’ hand in the boy’s hair, his mouth stretched around Magnus’s cock, and those eyes, which Magnus now notices are a particularly pretty shade of hazel, looking up at Magnus, telling him he can take what he wants.

This boy is good.

Magnus gives a shallow thrust of his hips, and the boy’s eyes flutter shut. He makes a soft huff of satisfaction when Magnus thrusts his hips again, a little deeper this time. That’s all it takes to make Magnus lose any sense of control. He fucks into the boy’s mouth, and the boy just opens his throat and takes it.

Magnus tugs on the boy’s hair, just enough to keep him in place and the boy doesn’t fight it. He’s so close and he doesn’t want it to end yet, so he slows his thrusts and loosens his grip on the boy’s head. He stops with his cock most of the way down the nephilim’s throat and looks down.

The nephilim is looking back up at him; his eyes are watering slightly, and his lips are shiny and red. Looking straight at Magnus, he swallows around his cock.

“Fuck!” The half groan, half shout feels pulled out of Magnus against his will. When the boy swallows again, his vision goes white, and he comes down the nephilim’s throat.

By the time Magnus catches his breath and can stop leaning on his desk for support that his legs won’t give him, the nephilim is on his feet, hovering halfway between the desk and the door. With what little brain function is left to him, Magnus summons a bottle of water and holds it out to the boy.

The boy takes it warily, without brushing any of his skin against Magnus’.

“Is that all?” the boys asks. His voice is rough and his lips swollen. Magnus wants to take him home and defile him on every surface of his lair, wants to lay him open and make him moan Magnus’ name. He wants to destroy this boy.

“Yes,” Magnus says. “That’s all.”

The door is closing before Magnus is even finished speaking.

The nephilim is gone.

Magnus doesn’t see the nephilim for over a week.

Business keeps him away from Pandemonium for several nights. On the nights he is there, he doesn’t see that dark hair, pale skin, runed-up skin.

Not that he’s looking, particularly.

It’s just he’s had some dreams. He can’t remember the specifics, but he wakes up sweaty and achingly hard. On those mornings, when he reaches down beneath the covers, he barely has time to picture hazel eyes under thick black lashes before his orgasm hits him.

Clearly, something needs to be done, so Magnus makes himself a cocktail and calls Ragnor.

Ragnor doesn’t pick up, so Magnus hangs up and tries again. And again.

The fifth time, Ragnor picks up and says, “I’m very busy and important, you know.”

“No you’re not,” Magnus says. “You were just ignoring me.”

“Hmm, true,” Ragnor says.

With that out of the way, they have a very pleasant chat. Ragnor rambles on about his current research for some time. Magnus tells stories about his stupid clients, because he knows those are the ones that Ragnor likes best. He makes himself another cocktail.

“Alright,” Ragnor says eventually. “I’ve let you go on about nothing for as long as I’m able, but I really am very busy, so why don’t you just say what you called to say?”

“What? A man can’t just call an old friend for a chat?” Magnus pouts.

“He can, I suppose,” Ragnor says. “But you don’t. Out with it, Magnus, or I’ll hang up right now.”

“Fine, fine,” Magnus says, then pauses because he’s not exactly sure what to say. He takes a sip of his drink. “I’m thinking of taking on a companion,” is what he says finally.

“Oh?” Ragnor replies. “I thought you were still in one of your ‘love doesn’t exist, I will be alone forever’ phases. Well, I’m glad you’ve moved on, it was very tiresome.”

“It was not!” Magnus says. “And I still am! And it doesn’t!” Before Ragnor can retort, Magnus huffs, “I meant a professional.”

“Oh, Magnus, really? Remember what happened with Antonio?”

True, after three weeks Antonio had absconded with everything valuable in Magnus’ flat in Rome, never to be heard from again. Luckily, Magnus’ flat in Rome had held very little of his overall fortune.

“I was thinking more of Mariette,” Magnus says.

Magnus had plucked Mariette out of a Montmartre brothel, and she had stayed on as Magnus’ companion for four years, when she took the money she had carefully saved and opened her own brothel, which was a rousing success until her death. Though they had never loved one another, they became very close, and of course, the sex was always fantastic.

“Hmm,” Ragnor says, “but how can you be sure that this one won’t rob you blind?”

Magnus can’t, really, but, “He’s a Shadowhunter,” he says, because sometimes he really doesn’t think before he speaks.


“Well, a nephilim. I don’t think he’d be turning tricks out of my club if he was still in the Clave’s good graces.”

“He’s an exile?”

“No, still got his runes. So he’s either on the run or…”


“I don’t know,” Magnus says. “But I’m … intrigued.”

“All gods save the shadow world from Magnus Bane when he’s intrigued,” Ragnor snaps. “Magnus, I do believe this might be the stupidest idea you have ever had. Weren’t you the one, just last year, who spent two hours complaining about Shadowhunters overreaching in your city and how much you hated them?”

“They were. And I do.”

“And yet you propose to bring one into your home. What could possibly make you think this is a good idea?”

“He sucks cock like a dream,” Magnus says truthfully. He doesn’t say I think I dreamed about his smile last night, which is also true, but far more embarrassing.

“Magnus,” Ragnor hisses.

“You asked,” Magus says.

“I’m sorry I did,” Ragnor says. “Well, I would beg you to reconsider, but I know that you never listen to a word I say. Do try to be careful, Magnus.”

“Of course,” Magnus says. Because this is careful. A financial transaction, where all parties know what to expect and no one gets in too deep. It will keep Magnus’ heart safe while satisfying his body.

“Liar,” Ragnor sighs, and hangs up.

Magnus feels better having made a decision, so the next night he dresses carefully and heads to Pandemonium.

He brushes off his entourage upon arrival and heads to the balcony. The crowds part until he has a spot on the railing and can see most of the club. He knows - he always knows - the kind of picture he makes. Tonight he’s dressed in a deep blue shirt open almost to his navel, tight black pants that make his ass look fantastic, and black boots, and lined his eyes with black and gold.

He summons a drink and waits.

A little over an hour later he sees a flash of a rune-covered shoulder on the dance floor and smiles. He banishes his drink and makes his way downstairs.

By the time he finds the nephilim again, he’s already chatting up a dangerous-looking vampire with impressive biceps. Well, that won’t do. Magnus is not in the mood to wait tonight. He slides up behind the nephilim and lightly holds onto his waist, giving him time to dance away. When he doesn’t, Magnus rolls his hips to the beat. The nephilim grinds back and lets his head fall backward to Magnus’s shoulder. Magnus smirks at the vampire’s scowl.

“I believe I can make you a better offer,” Magnus says into the nephilim’s ear.

If the nephilim replies, Magnus can’t hear it, but he lets Magnus lead him away from the vampire and the dance floor and back to his office.

When the door closes, Magnus is suddenly pressed back against it, the nephilim on his knees, fingers hovering over the fastenings of Magnus’ pants.

“Is this my better offer?” the nephilim asks.

“Yesss,” Magnus hisses out, involuntarily, and then, remembering, says, “Wait, no.”

The nephilim sits back on his heels and looks up at Magnus. “Ass instead?” he asks.

Fuck yes, Magnus thinks, and then also, wait. “Eventually, yes,” Magnus says. “But I have another matter I’d like to discuss with you first.”

The nephilim’s face goes even blanker, if that’s possible. He stands, warily, and crosses his arms. He’s clearly going for nonchalance, but his whole demeanor suggests he’s just waiting for a blow.

Magnus is uncomfortably aware that he could fuck this up right now, and uncomfortable with how much he doesn’t want that.

“I’d like to offer you a contract.”

The nephilim blinks, but doesn’t look any less wary.

“You would stay with me and offer your services to me exclusively, when I want them. The compensation would be … generous.” Magnus snaps his fingers and a large envelope appears in his hands. He hands it to the nephilim. The nephilim’s eyes widen when he opens it and looks inside before he forces his face to blankness again.

“Payment would be weekly,” Magnus says.

The nephilim’s eyes widen again. “Wee-” he says, then cuts himself off. “And my obligations outside of my … normal services?”

Magnus shrugs. “Accompanying me to various social functions every so often. Nothing that would put you in danger. Certainly nothing as dangerous as taking vampires to back alleys.”

“I can take care of myself,” the nephilim says. As he does, the handle of a seraph dagger appears in his hand. He twirls it lazily twice before it disappears to wherever he’s hiding it.

“Of course you can, darling,” Magnus says, trying to tamp down on the effect that little display had on him. “My company will be quite dull in comparison, I’m sure.”

He catches a flash of a smile on the nephilim’s lips before his expression shuts down again.

“And terms for ending the contract?” the nephilim asks.

“At either party’s discretion, at any time,” Magnus says. “I’m not in the habit of keeping people against their will, Shadowhunter.” He says it mildly. The boy should be careful, after all.

The nephilim doesn’t flinch. He looks at Magnus, then back down at the envelope in his hand.

“Yeah,” he says. “Okay.”

Magnus doesn’t bother stopping his smile. “Then shall we go back to my loft? I can draw up the contract and we can … celebrate our new business arrangement.”

The nephilim snorts, but his shoulders lose some of their tension. He folds the envelope carefully and tucks it into his back pocket. He steps closer to Magnus. “Lead the way.”

He really is quite deliciously tall up close. Magnus congratulates himself on once again finding a diamond in the rough.

“I’m Magnus Bane, by the way,” he says.

The nephilim huffs. “I know that,” he says.

“But I don’t know your name, darling.”

The nephilim opens his mouth, then closes it again. “Alec,” he says after a moment. “My name is Alec.”

Alec prowls around the main room of the loft like a feral cat while Magnus draws up the contract.

Magnus has always been partial to cats.

The contract is short, but Alec takes it and reads every word before signing it. Magnus watches him as he reads, noting the way that when he’s not paying attention his spine straightens and his muscles shift from a rent boy’s ‘fuck you’ to a soldier’s parade rest. Magnus wonders again what Alec’s story is, but then reminds himself that he doesn’t want to get involved in Shadowhunter business. The beauty of this arrangement is that Alec probably also does not want to get involved in Shadowhunter business.

Finally Alec signs (his handwriting is neat and precise, the signature just says ‘Alec’) and Magnus snaps his fingers to bind the contract and file it away.

Alec’s posture is back to a lazy invitation, and he smiles, slow and filthy. “Well,” he says, “I’m all yours now. What are you going to do with me?”

Oh, so many things. Alec has no idea.

Magnus backs Alec up against a convenient column, feels all that hard muscle against his chest, and kisses him. It’s a slow kiss, but a dirty one. Because Magnus is going to take his time with this nephilim, and now he has all the time to take. Alec makes a noise of surprise, but opens his mouth and kisses back, more tentative than Magnus was expecting. But there’s no way Magnus is going to deprive himself of that mouth, so he kisses and he licks and sucks on Alec’s tongue until Alec is making low noises in this throat, barely audible but enough to make Magnus that much harder. He presses one thigh between Alec’s legs, and feels relief at the growing hardness there. There are some people for whom this business can never be pleasure, and while Magnus certainly understands, this arrangement wouldn’t last very long if Alec was one of them.

Alec grinds down on Magnus’ thigh and Magnus forgets to think, moaning into Alec’s mouth. Alec nips at his bottom lip, and Magnus has to break the kiss to breathe harsh breaths into Alec’s neck. He bites down on the center of the rune there in retaliation and Alec’s hips buck, his hands reach out and grab at Magnus’ hips.

Magnus licks over the bite mark. “Why don’t we continue in my bedroom, angel?”

“Whatever you want, Magnus,” Alec says and lust unspools in Magnus’ gut, a dark possessive lust that Magnus normally tries to ignore, but having a nephilim, here and his and saying that makes it flare up and take over.

He jerks away from Alec and closes a hand over his wrist. He drags him none too gently down the hall and to his bedroom before pushing him inside. The lamps flare and then die down as Magnus loses control for a second. Alec, unfazed by the rough handling or the uncontrolled magic, reaches down and pulls his tank top over his head.

Magnus’ mouth goes dry at the sight, and he’s suddenly completely sure that despite the ludicrous amount of money he’s paying Alec, he’s getting a deal.

“The rest of it too,” Magnus says. He barely recognizes his own voice. Alec keeps his eyes on Magnus while he kicks off his shoes, drops his dagger, a stele, and a cheap cell phone on the bedside table, and starts on his pants. He’s not exactly making a show of it, but he won’t stop looking at Magnus, and that’s all the show Magnus needs. When Alec’s pants are in a pile on the floor, Magnus banishes his own clothes with a wave of his hand. He takes one second to savor the appreciative up and down that Alec gives him, before he advances on Alec.

“On the bed, angel,” Magnus says.

He meant to take this slow, he really did, but fuck it. He has time enough for slow. Hell, he could go slow later tonight. He needs to be inside this boy right this minute.

Alec crawls onto the bed and Magnus follows, pressing him down into the duvet. He runs his hand over Alec’s back, devouring the runes and the scars with his eyes before he reaches Alec’s ass and squeezes.

“Yeah,” Alec says, tilting his hips up. “Magnus, fuck me.”

A part of Magnus knows that Alec is just saying what Magnus wants to hear, but the knowledge isn’t enough to make Alec begging to be fucked any less hot. He summons lube with a curse and coats his fingers, pressing two into Alec right away.

Alec doesn’t seem to mind. He breathes out and takes it, moaning softly into the pillows.

“That’s it,” Magnus murmurs. He presses deeper and crooks his fingers, finding Alec’s prostate but not giving him much time to enjoy it before he pulls back and adds a third finger. Alec takes the third just as easily as the first two. He lifts his hips and gets his knees under him so he can push back against Magnus’ fingers.

And Magnus can’t be expected to resist that any longer, so he summons a box of condoms from the drug store around the corner. He unfortunately has to remove his fingers to get the condom on, but he also gets to watch Alec push his ass back as if searching for the fingers again, his hole shiny with lube. Fuck.

He pulls Alec onto his hands and knees and takes his hips into his hands. He presses into Alec steadily, watches him breathe and relax his muscles in order take Magnus smoothly. Alec’s precise control over his body is almost as much of a turn-on as the tight heat heat surrounding Magnus’ cock. Then he bottoms out, all the way inside of Alec, and that’s all he can think about.

“Oh, angel,” Magnus breathes. “You’re so tight for me. So good.”

Alec groans low and pushes back against Magnus. “Fuck, Magnus.” He turns his head to look at Magnus over his shoulder - fuck, his eyes - and says, “fuck me already.”

Magnus can hardly refuse an offer like that. He pulls back and thrusts hard. “Ah!” Alec gasps, and Magnus loses the sight of his eyes as his head drops to hang between his shoulders.

Magnus couldn’t stop fucking Alec now for anything, his hips snapping forward without any input from his brain at all, his mouth uttering filthy commands, endearments, curses, he doesn’t know. Alec moves against him perfectly, taking his cock and pushing back and moaning. What little control Magnus has left he uses to reach around for Alec’s cock, pumping him only a few times before Alec moans out, “Magnus, fuck, gonna-” and comes. The way he tightens around Magnus when he does sends Magnus right over the edge after him with a drawn-out groan ripped from somewhere deep in his throat.

The lamps flare again, the walls flash to a deep red color before changing back, and the carpet is replaced completely.

Magnus manages to hold himself up long enough to pull out of Alec and dispose of the condom before he collapses onto the bed.

Alec is still on his hands and knees, panting, and Magnus realizes it’s because the duvet below him is a mess of come and sweat.

“Let me just-” Magnus says, and the mess is cleared away, a new duvet cover in place. But instead of laying down, Alec sits up.

“I’m just gonna … go clean up,” Alec says, and disappears into the bathroom almost before Magnus’ sex-addled mind can register him moving.

Magnus, tactile by nature, has always been a post-orgasm cuddler, but some distance is to be expected in an arrangement of this nature. Besides, he thinks, it’s only the first night. Alec has plenty of time to get comfortable.

When Alec walks out of the bathroom, still gloriously naked, he stands by the foot of the bed. It’s the first time Magnus has seen him look openly unsure.

“Where do you…” Alec says. “Um, do you want me to sleep here, or…”

“Would you rather a guest room?” Magnus asks. It’s not ideal, but he doesn’t want to make Alec uncomfortable.

“No, it’s just. I -” He cuts himself off and looks down, his face displaying deep irritation, though at himself or Magnus, Magnus can’t tell. “I don’t usually…”

Suddenly, Magnus understands. Alec’s the kind of rent boy for whom back alleys and by-the-hour motels are standard. Of all the things he’s done (and Magnus really really wants to find out what he’s done, over and over again), he’s probably never actually slept with a client.

“Well,” Magnus says, “if you’re more comfortable in a guest room, I would be happy to prepare one for you. But my preference is that you sleep here, in my bed.”

The irritation clears from Alec’s face, and he nods. He slips under the covers and settles onto his back. His muscles are still tight with tension, but he’s here and not running, so Magnus figures that’s a good start.

Magnus is wrung out. He snuggles into his pillow and falls asleep immediately.

Chapter Text

When Magnus wakes up the bed is empty, but the loft smells like coffee.

Worth. Every. Penny, Magnus thinks smugly. He shrugs into a robe and heads to the kitchen.

Alec is at the breakfast bar, wearing the same clothes he was wearing last night, nursing a cup of coffee.

“You figured out my coffee machine,” Magnus says. “You really are an angel.”

One side of Alec’s lips quirks up. “It wasn’t that hard. But you don’t have any milk or anything.”

Right. Magnus supposes he’ll have to start keeping food around the loft again. He forgets sometimes that not everyone can just summon what they need. He takes a sip of coffee and sighs in pleasure. Not that he’d ever admit it, but he’s been using magic to get the damned machine to work since he bought it. This tastes way better.

“Hmmm, grocery shopping on the agenda for today then,” Magnus says.

“I also I thought I could, um,” Alec stops and looks down at his mug. “My stuff? It’s all at the place I was staying before. I’d like to go get it.”

“Of course,” Magnus says. “Alec, you’re free to come and go as you like. Let me just …” he closes his eyes and concentrates on his wards, introducing them to Alec and making sure they know he’s welcome. “There. The wards are set to let you in.” He snaps his fingers and a key appears next to Alec’s mug. “And there’s your key. Do you want me to portal you there?”

Alec immediately shakes his head. “No. It’s not … it’s not a nice place. And my roommates are all mundanes.”

“Okay,” Magnus says. “I have a client this morning, but as I said, come and go as you like. I’ll add some space for your clothes.”

Alec shrugs. “I don’t have much, so it’s not a big deal.”

Magnus sips at his coffee happily, his mind already on his client.

Alec wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t have much.

When he gets back to the loft in the late afternoon, his only additions are a jacket and a well-worn canvas backpack.

Magnus had spent the time between his client and Alec’s return making improvements to the loft. He always did love redecorating. Groceries were ordered and delivered, his bar restocked from his personal warehouses. He had conjured Alec a closet and a dresser and then when that seemed insufficient he had added another room to the loft just so Alec can have a place of his own.

But Alec’s meager belongings -- another pair of jeans, a few t-shirts, and two small hardcover books -- don’t even take up one drawer.

“Well, we’re just going to have to go shopping,” Magnus declares.

Alec’s eyes widen. “That’s not necessary. Even at the -- even before I left home I didn’t need much. This is fine.”

It’s a little slip -- a tantalizing glimpse into Alec’s past that still intrigues Magnus more than is polite -- but it’s not enough to deter Magnus from his goal, namely, clothes.

“Nonsense, darling,” he says. “You’ll need outfits for dinner and parties, clothes for the club, a good suit just in case, obviously, not to mention something for when it starts to get cold.”

Alec is looking at him, increasingly horrified, but the thought of dressing Alec up is too fun. And besides, the sight of those empty drawers and Alec insisting that these few rough possessions are enough for him makes Magnus sad and uncomfortable in a way he doesn’t want to examine. So he babbles about cuts and colors and which designers he thinks Alec will look best in until Alec loses his patience, shoves him up against the door to the closet, drops to his knees, and sucks his cock until Magnus can’t speak anymore.

As distractions go, it’s a good one.

When Magnus is sated and his legs feel like jelly he looks around at his surroundings again and frowns.

“I don’t know if I like this metaphor,” he tells Alec. Alec wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and looks around at the empty shelves and hangers.

“I don’t think either of us have to worry about being stuck in closets anymore,” he says.

To Alec’s visible dismay, Magnus is completely serious about shopping. He clears his schedule for the next day and calls the only man he trusts other than himself in matters of fashion.

Cillian owns a very exclusive and upscale boutique in Manhattan. He also happens to be a quarter Seelie on his mother’s side, and willing to drop all of his other appointments to answer Magnus’ distress call.

Magnus portals them into a room in the back of the boutique specifically for that purpose. Magnus isn’t Cillian’s only warlock client.

“This really isn’t necessary,” Alec tries again, looking around at the tasteful and expensive decorations.

“Alec,” Magnus says. “Not only is it necessary, it is going to be my complete pleasure.”

Alec shuts his mouth on whatever he was going to say next, and it’s just as well, because Cillian steps into the room right then.

“Magnus,” he says, kissing Magnus on each cheek. “So good to see you. What fashion emergency could you possibly have?”

“Cillian, you’re a lifesaver,” Magnus says as he steps back. “This is Alec.”

“Hey,” Alec says. He’s tucked his hands in the back pockets of his jeans, and he’s slouching in a calculated way that draws attention to his abs and crotch. He looks like a prostitute, and he’s doing it on purpose. But if he’s hoping to faze Cillian, he’ll be disappointed.

“Oh my,” Cillian murmurs. He paces in a slow circle around Alec, measuring him with his eyes. Alec pretends not to care while clearly being aware of where Cillian is at all times. “What does he need?” Cillian asks when he’s circled back to Magnus.

“Everything,” Magnus says.

Cillian’s eyes gleam.

Four hours later Magnus and Cillian are arguing over cuts of suit jackets while Cillian’s assistants rush around trying to keep up with Cillian’s orders. It’s only when Magnus runs out of steam articulating his point about buttons that he realizes that Alec has been in the dressing room for far too long.

Cillian must realize it as well because he raises an eyebrow at Magnus.

“I’ll just go check on Alec,” Magnus says, and sweeps off down the short hallway to the dressing room.

“Alec?” He knocks on the door and opens it when he hears a soft sound of assent. Alec is sprawled on the richly upholstered bench inside, his head tilted back against the wall and his eyes closed. His legs are spread in front of him and he’s wearing only the slacks he was supposed to be trying on which are unbuttoned and sagging around his hips.

“Sorry,” Alec says without opening his eyes. “I just needed a little break. I’ll be out in a minute.”

Magnus feels a moment of guilt. Not everyone has his incredible shopping stamina. Alec looks exhausted.

“Actually, I was just thinking, I’m getting a little hungry. How about we stop for the day and go get some lunch?”

Alec cracks his eyes open without lifting his head. “Really?”

“One cannot make good fashion choices on an empty stomach, darling,” Magnus says.

Alec smirks and lifts his head from the wall. “Well in that case,” he says.

Magnus swallows around a suddenly dry throat. There’s Alec all long-legged and shirtless and smirking and and he’s so hot. And Magnus remembers that he can have that and so he steps forward and folds gracefully to his knees between Alec’s thighs.

“You’ve been very patient today,” he tells Alec. Alec’s eyes widen a little and his tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip.

“I have,” he says.

“You deserve a reward,” Mangus continues.

“Uh huh,” Alec says. He’s already lifting his hips when Magnus reaches up to pull the slacks down.

He’s seen Alec’s cock before, obviously. Touched it. But he hasn’t really had a chance to focus on it, having been incredibly distracted by Alec’s mouth and ass. And who can blame him, really? But he’s clearly been missing out, because Alec’s cock is amazing. It’s also growing harder by the second and Magnus wants nothing more than to taste it. He leans forward and licks around the head.

Alec makes a stifled sound and when Magnus looks up, it’s to see that Alec has pressed his fist against his mouth. Magnus wants Alec’s sounds -- his moans and gasps and curses. He wants to hear what Alec sounds like when he really and truly falls apart with pleasure.

But they are in Cillian’s dressing room. Not that Cillian would ever interrupt them or bring it up. He’s far too well-paid for that. But there will be other opportunities for Magnus to take Alec apart with his mouth, and right now, he doesn’t want his mouth to leave Alec’s cock for even a second.

He slides his mouth down and down and down, then swallows. Alec’s hips twitch like he wants to thrust, but he’s controlling himself. Magnus doesn’t want Alec to control himself. He goes to work on making Alec lose control. Alec may be a professional, but Magnus has had centuries of practice.

Alec’s free hand flutters around Magnus’ head, lightly touching his hair, his ear, his cheek before he clenches it into a fist and presses it into the bench.

Before long Alec can’t stop the twitches of his hips and he’s groaning continuously into his fist.

“Magnus,” the word is muffled, Alec’s voice rough. “Gonna-”

That’s all the warning Magnus gets before Alec shoots down his throat.

He swallows it all, greedy for it, and when he finally leans back he looks up to see Alec looking debauched and glorious, his eyes closed and chest heaving. Magnus smiles smugly to himself.

“I’ll finish up with Cillian while you get dressed,” Magnus says as he stands. “Take your time.”

Alec’s eyes pop open. “What about you?” Alec waves his hand in the direction of Magnus’ pants and the bulge of his half erect cock.

“Oh, I’ll get mine later. You can count on that.”

Magnus and Cillian are still discussing colors and tailoring when Alec reappears. He listens to their conversation for all of two seconds before hurrying away, pretending to be very interested in some of the clothes on display at the front of the store.

Magnus wants to get some color into Alec’s wardrobe, but he had looked so uncomfortable in the jewel and pastel tones that in the end Cillian and Magnus decide they’d best stick with mostly black, with some navy and forest green thrown in. Magnus does insist on a few burgundy pieces, knowing it’s unlikely that Alec will ever wear them.

They’re making arrangements for delivery when Magnus notices Cillian looking at something over Magnus’ shoulder. He turns and sees Alec rubbing the sleeve of a cashmere sweater between his fingers looking quietly amazed at its softness. Magnus’ heart breaks a little. If he knows Shadowhunters -- and he does, for the most part -- there was little room for softness in Alec’s life even before he started turning tricks. He turns back to Cillian who just nods, and Magnus knows that the sweater will be added to his order in three colors.

By the time the arrangements are done, Alec is staring out the front windows looking bored.

“Well, despite a high protein snack earlier, I’m starving,” Magnus says. “Lunch?”

Alec rolls his eyes, but he smiles too, and Magnus walks out of the Cillian’s satisfied.

Sex is like swimming in that you probably shouldn’t do it with an overly full stomach. Which is why instead of portalling directly back to his loft after lunch and ravishing Alec like he’s been imagining for hours, Magnus suggests they walk for a while.

Alec, Magnus is learning, is not talkative by nature. That’s okay, because Magnus can keep up a conversation by himself if needed. Alec does, however, listen very intently, albeit with a fair amount of eye-rolling and snorting. Which is why, in the middle of an only slightly exaggerated story about the time he had to chase a rogue Seelie through a Victorian laundry house, Magnus notices his attention wander.

When Magnus looks for what could possibly more interesting than him, he sees they’re passing a huge Nike store. The first time Alec’s shown an interest in clothes other than removing them and it’s for sweatpants of all things. Not that Alec wouldn’t look fantastic in the sweatpants. And he must work out for muscles like that. Of course, Magnus realizes, as a Shadowhunter working out was kind of his job. At least, it was before hooking.

“Come on,” Magnus say before he’s even aware of making the decision.

“Huh?” Alec says.

“Can’t try on running shoes from out here, darling.”

Magnus knows he’s made the right choice because Alec doesn’t even protest that he doesn’t need running shoes.

By the time Alec’s actually trying on the running shoes, Magnus has filled the extra room back at the loft with equipment he remembers from the last time he visited the New York Institute. The effort is enough to make him a little dizzy, but, he thinks as he watches Alec smile in satisfaction at a pair of well fitting athletic shoes, it’s totally worth it.

Magnus has clients, and duties as High Warlock, and business interests, and the combination of those keeps him busy. In his free moments he has Alec.

Alec has nothing but free moments, which he mostly uses to work out, except he calls it training. Training means Alec being shirtless and sweaty, so Magnus approves of training.

He approves so much that first time he walks in on the end of one of Alec’s work outs to see Alec sweaty and shirtless, in those sweatpants that caught his eye at the Nike store, hands wrapped for all the punching he’s doing, Magnus is struck completely speechless and he ends up fucking Alec against the wall until both their knees give out and they tumble onto the floor. He lays there, his whole body still sparking from his orgasm, catching his breath. Alec starts laughing.

It’s a genuine laugh, happy and carefree, and Magnus hasn’t seen Alec look happy and carefree except for that one time, weeks ago now. The sound makes him feel light and warm in a way that has nothing to do with his orgasm.

“What?” he asks, managing to turn over onto his side.

“I just…” Alec is still smiling when he looks at Magnus. “I was thinking that this was a really strange way to fulfill one of my top adolescent fantasies.”

He can’t be much past adolescence now, but Shadowhunters grow up quick, and whores grow up quicker. Still, Magnus likes thinking about young Alec, going about his Shadowhunter training all while hoping for someone to come along and ravish him.

“Did you get fucked up against a wall in your fantasy?” Magnus asks.

“No, across a bench. But we don’t have one here.”

“I can fix that,” Magnus say immediately and Alec laughs again. Magnus scoots closer until he’s plastered up against Alec’s side and props his head on his elbow. “Any other adolescent fantasies you want to tell me about?” He trails one finger across Alec’s collarbone. “I’d be happy to make them all come true.”

Alec lifts himself up until he can reach Magnus’ mouth and kisses him, deep and slow.

“I’ll let you know,” he says against Magnus’ mouth.

Alec also goes out sometimes, mostly when Magnus is working during the day.. Magnus wants to know where he goes, but he doesn’t ask because he is aware that there are parts of Alec he can’t pay for, no matter how much he wants them.

When Magnus has clients at night, Alec always leaves, often for hours and hours. At first Magnus thought he might be going back to his old haunts, or, wildly, that he’d developed an addiction to some mundane drug and managed to hide it from Magnus, but then one night he shows back up at the loft with his jacket covered in demon ichor and Magnus realizes he is going back to his old haunts. His old old haunts.

“Put it on the chair,” Magnus says, pointing to a chair at the kitchen table. “I’ll get it cleaned.” He methodically checks Alec for injuries and glares when he sees a huge raw scrape down Alec’s arm.

“You know this isn’t your job anymore, right?” Magnus snaps, waving his hand over the scrape to disinfect it. Alec flinches. Magnus is going to have nightmares about Alec taking on demons by himself armed only with a seraph dagger.

“I’m not - Magnus, it’s fine,” Alec says. Magnus runs his hand over Alec’s arm, healing the scrape.

“Anywhere else?” he asks.

“No,” Alec says. “I wasn’t -” He stops, sighs, and starts again. “I didn’t go out looking for demons to kill, okay? But it is still my job. There are people I have to protect, even if they - even if I’m not a Shadowhunter anymore.”

Magnus often wonders what the hell could have happened to Alec that he ended up in the streets sucking cock to survive. This is the first time he’s wondered what -- and who -- Alec left behind. But if Alec wanted him to know, he wouldn’t be censoring himself.

“Alec, you are still a Shadowhunter,” Magnus tells him. Alec looks away. “No matter what happens the blood of angels still runs through your veins.”

“It’s not about blood, Magnus. I don’t give a shit about blood.”

“No, it’s about you going out there protecting people with no backup and inadequate weaponry. That bravery is what makes you a Shadowhunter.”

Alec still won’t look at him. “Do you want me stop?”

“No,” Magnus says, and Alec is so surprised he finally looks at Magnus. “I can’t stop you from being a Shadowhunter, and I wouldn’t if I could. Just,” he sighs. “Be careful, okay?”

“Okay,” Alec says, and Magnus can finally lean over and kiss him. Alec accepts the kiss and tugs on Magnus until he drops onto Alec’s lap, and that’s how Magnus learns that killing demons gets Alec worked up.

Alec likes books and he uses Magnus’ library a lot, but he completely ignores the TV until Magnus asks him about it and he admits that he’s never had one so he doesn’t know how to use it and wouldn’t know what to watch even if he did.

Magnus is outraged, loudly, at Shadowhunters and their snobby “traditions” and inability to recognize something has value unless it helps them oppress downworlders.

Alec listens patiently while Magnus rants, and then, when Magnus pauses to take a breath says, “So, are you gonna show me something or what?”

Which is how they end up watching TV before bed most nights while Magnus tries to figure out what Alec likes. It turns out Alec like adventure stories, and Sci-fi, and documentaries, and hates romcoms, and reality competition shows, and any comedy that makes him embarrassed for the characters. It’s pretty easy to tell if Alec doesn’t like something or thinks it’s boring because he’ll just decide he wants to have sex instead. Magnus is 100% okay with that.

On this particular night, however, Alec is engrossed in a documentary about some sort of tragic sea voyage and Magnus isn’t bored per se, but he can think of something he rather be doing.

He slides his hand into Alec’s lap, and when he has Alec’s attention, he slides to the floor between his legs. He takes his time, licking and tasting, and bringing Alec to the edge twice and not letting him come, until Alec is cursing and panting and begging. When he thinks Alec’s begged enough, he reaches up and pushes two fingers into his mouth. Alec groans around them and sucks enthusiastically. And when they’re good and wet Magnus Magnus takes them from Alec’s mouth and presses them to Alec’s ass.

Alec whines and bucks his hips, until Magnus holds them down with his free hand.

“Magnus, fuck, please, I gotta--” Alec babbles, and Magnus doesn’t pull back this time. Alec writhes, held between Magnus’ fingers and his mouth and finally comes with a shout. It’s filthy and hot and Magnus is so hard he’s aching and he wastes no time undoing his own pants and taking himself in hand. It only takes a few pumps before he’s overwhelmed and he slumps against Alec’s legs.

When he looks up, Alec is looking down at him, biting his lip. It’s a very biteable lip, so Magnus cleans up the mess with a snap and climbs into Alec’s lap to kiss him.

“You really like that don’t you?” Alec asks when they pull apart. It should sound smug, and it almost does. But something about the tone sets alarm bells ringing in Magnus’ brain. Magnus sits back and studies Alec’s face. It’s not the confident, smirky Alec he’s used to. Something’s off.

“I do,” Magnus says slowly, his mind racing. “Do you not like giving -”

Magnus has lost count of the number of blowjobs Alec has given him since the first one. Does he really not enjoy it? Wouldn’t Magnus know? Of course not, Magnus berates himself. Because you’re paying him obscene amounts of money to blow you whenever you want and pretend to like it. And Alec is very very good at his job.

Magnus feels sick.

But before Magnus can truly start panicking, Alec snorts. “Of course I do,” he says, so dismissive that it calms Magnus immediately. “Just, you know, most johns don’t -- didn’t want to pay to...”

Magnus inwardly recoils from the term and then makes himself stop. That’s what he is. That’s what Alec’s life is. Magnus can pretty it up in his own head thinking about Alec’s “clients” and he supposes that makes him feel better, but it’s not the whole truth. Alec isn’t like Magnus, taking clients who are sometimes annoying but never violent. Alec isn’t even like Mariette, whose gentlemen were generally wealthy and who at least had the protection of the house. Who at least had a bed to do her work on. Alec doesn’t have clients, he has johns, and he has back alleys and club bathrooms and skeezy motels. And sure, Magnus is offering him more than that, but Magnus is still paying.

“Well, they were missing out,” Magnus says, throat tight. Alec gives him a crooked smile and tugs him closer.

“If you say say so.”

Magnus tries to drown his uncomfortable thoughts in Alec’s lips, but only sort of succeeds.

Chapter Text

When his clients slow down a little, Magnus looks around and realizes he’s barely left his loft for non-business reasons in almost a month. Well, why would he, when Alec is here? But a Warlock cannot live by sex and takeout alone, and really what fun is it if he can’t show Alec off? So he decides they need a night out on the town.

“What kind of night on the town?” Alec asks when Magnus makes his announcement. He’s on the couch with a book from Magnus’ library and his bare feet resting on the coffee table. He’s not trying to look alluring, but nonetheless Magnus is still tempted to call off going out just so he can climb into Alec’s lap and spend the whole night without their clothes.

“A casual one,” Magnus says. As much as he’d like to see Alec in the suit Cillian delivered, it can wait for another night. For tonight Magnus is thinking something lowkey, maybe Ethiopian.

Alec ends up choosing black jeans, a burgundy henley that clings in all the right places, and the black leather jacket that Magnus bought him to replace the jacket that is still stained by demon ichor despite repeated magical cleanings and hanging over the back of a chair in the kitchen. Alec seems reluctant to part with it, so it's become a fixture on the chair, and it makes Magnus smile when he catches glimpses of it out of the corner of his eye. It’s a tangible reminder that Alec is here, and every time Magnus decides to move it to the closet or the bedroom, he instead ends up attempting a new stain-lifting spell and leaving it where it is.

Magnus lets his eyes wander over Alec’s body, and for the hundredth time this month congratulates himself on his impeccable taste.

“I thought we were going out,” Alec says, raising an eyebrow.

“We are, darling.”

“Not if you keep looking at me like that,” Alec says, voice low. It makes Magnus’ fingers tingle with lust and he steps forward, intending to show Alec that he can do more than look, then stops himself and steps back.

“You’re not getting out of it,” Magnus says, and Alec rolls his eyes.

Alec does enjoy the Ethiopian food though, and Magnus enjoys watching his fingers bring bits of injera to his mouth and the way his tongue curls around them. It’s almost enough for Magnus to portal them back to the loft immediately, but he promised a night out on the town and it wouldn’t be a proper date if -- Magnus makes himself stop that line of thought. It’s not a proper date anyway.

Still, he takes them to Hunter’s Moon, because he hasn’t seen Maia in forever and it seems like the kind of place that Alec would genuinely enjoy.

Maia is happy to see him, but looks at Alec warily. She’s not the biggest fan of Shadowhunters. Alec looks back, also warily, and the staring contest might have lasted all night, but Magnus breaks in.

“Maia, this is Alec. Alec, Maia. She’s the best bartender in the city.” The praise makes Maia smile.

“And you’re my best tipper. So what can I get for you guys?”

“Oh, my usual,” Magnus says. “Alec?”

“Just a beer, please,” Alec says. “Whatever you recommend on tap.”

Alec’s manners ease Maia’s wariness a bit, but Magnus decides he doesn’t want to push it. Once they have their drinks he wanders back to the pool tables.

“Do you play?” he asks Alec. Alec shrugs and sips his beer.

“A little,” he says.

Magnus grins and racks a game.

“You can break,” he says generously. He’s already imagining leaning over Alec’s back, helping him set up a shot, whispering innuendo disguised as advice in his ear.

Alec chalks up his cue, then proceeds to clear the table before Magnus gets a single turn.

“You…” Magnus says, “you hustler, you!”

Alec raises an eyebrow as if to say duh.

Pool hustler,” Magnus clarifies. “You said you only play a little!”

Alec looks down and pink tinges his cheeks. Magnus has seen Alec do and say a lot of filthy things, but he’s never seen him blush about it and he finds himself fascinated.

“Uh, habit, I guess,” Alec says. “When I first left the -- when I first left home, I made money this way. I’ve always been good with angles and stuff.”

“Well, rematch then,” Magnus says. “And I’m not giving you any more advantages.”

They’re tied two games to two when Magnus goes to the bar to refill their drinks.

“So,” Maia says while she pours his martini, “a Shadowhunter?”

“Alec’s not really like other nephilim,” Magnus says. “And we’re enjoying each other’s company.”

Which isn’t even a euphemism, though Maia seems to take it that way. But the truth is that it’s probably been decades since Magnus has had such a good time. Alec is competitive without being a sore loser, and over the pool table he laughs and he throws out mild trash talk and sometimes tries to distract Magnus with sexual innuendo. It’s fun. Magnus can’t remember the last time he’s had fun like this.

Alec wins their tie breaker by licking his lips and distracting Magnus at a crucial moment. Magnus is still complaining about cheating when they walk out of Hunter’s Moon.

“Hey,” Alec says, “hustler here. Nobody said anything about playing fair.”

Magnus could just portal them to the loft, but he’s enjoying the anticipation that’s been simmering under his skin all night. He decides to prolong it by walking back.

They’re a block from the loft, crossing the mouth of a dark alley when a loud clang makes them both pause. It’s followed by a skittering sound that makes the hairs on the back of Magnus’ neck stand up. Alec takes half a step forward and throws an arm across Magnus’ chest, keeping him back. With his other hand he reaches up over his shoulder as if expecting to find something there, then, just as quick, he reaches for his seraph dagger.

It lights up in his hand, making his face glow eerily from below.

“Stay here,” he tells Magnus and darts into the alley.

“Alec, no!” Magnus calls magic into his hands and runs after him.

By the time he can see what’s happening, it’s already too late to interfere. Alec and the shax demon are too close for Magnus to get a clean shot.

Fear settles deep in Magnus’ chest even as he keeps his hands raised and his magic ready. Alec only has a dagger, not even a sword. The shax has a longer reach with its stinger than he does. But Alec doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. He ducks and turns out of the demon’s reach, and when it skitters up a wall and jumps for him, it meets his foot, kicking it back into the wall. It doesn’t even hit the ground before Alec lunges in with his dagger. In seconds the demon is nothing but ash and Alec isn’t even breathing that hard.

Magnus is dizzy with unreleased adrenaline and magic, but Alec is okay. Alec is more than okay. Alec is fucking amazing.

Alec stalks up to him. “Are you okay?” he asks.

“I’m fine. Are you?”

Alec just nods, his eyes darting around. He reaches out and closes a hand around Magnus’ upper arm. “Let’s get back home before any more show up.”

Even one shouldn’t be able to get this close to his lair, and at some point when his heart stops trying to beat out of his chest he’ll have to investigate that. But right now … the demon is dead and gone, but the fear still lingers. Not for himself. He could have taken out a shax before it got within five feet of him. But Alec …

Alec is hustling them back to his building, his eyes steely and his dagger still in his hand. For the first time since Magnus met him, he is every inch the Shadowhunter.

He doesn’t relax until they’re inside the loft with the door locked.

“You’re sure you’re okay?” he asks, his eyes running up and down Magnus like he’s checking for injuries.

“Alec, it didn’t even get near me. Did it scratch you at all? The venom could -”

“No, I’m good.”

Magnus finally lets the last of his fear go.

“Is it -” Alec starts, but whatever he’s going to say, Magnus doesn’t let him finish. He backs him up against the door and kisses him hard. Alec grabs onto Magnus’ hips and pulls him in close, kissing back just as hard.

The lack of fear has left Magnus with a strange euphoria and an urgent need to get as close to Alec as possible. He presses in, his hands on the door by Alec’s head, and he thinks he could have died and also he was so fucking hot.

Alec pulls back and then Magnus is spinning because Alec just reversed their positions and now Magnus is being pressed back against the door, and Alec is biting at his jaw, his hard thigh between Magnus’ legs.

Magnus groans and sinks his hands into Alec’s hair. This. This is exactly what he wants. Alec on top of him and all around him. The real solid weight of Alec, anchoring Magnus.

“Alec,” he groans out when Alec nips at a sensitive spot on his collarbone, “I need…”

Alec drags his open mouth up Magnus’ throat to his ear. He sucks on the lobe gently before biting down and Magnus cries out.

“What do you need, Magnus?” Alec whispers. He presses up with his thigh and Magnus can’t help but grind down on it

“Fu - Fuck,” Magnus says and grinds down again. Alec kisses him again, his fingers making short work of the buttons of Magnus’ vest and then shirt. Alec’s thumb rubs over a nipple and Magnus whines wordlessly. Alec rests his forehead against Magnus’.

“Tell me what you need,” he says.

“I need you,” Magnus says, pulling Alec close so he can reach his lips. “I need you inside me.”

Alec freezes for a second, then he kisses Magnus, tongue and teeth and lips and Magnus loves every second of it. Alec pushes Magnus’ shirt off his shoulders, then hooks his fingers into Magnus’ belt loops. He steps backwards, breaking off their kiss and leaving Magnus feeling cold. Magnus sways forward, trying to keep them in contact, and Alec takes another step back, tugging on Magnus’ belt loops.

Magnus follows Alec through the loft like that until Alec pushes him into the bedroom and finally finally kisses him again. Magnus wraps his arms around Alec’s neck and pushes closer, searching for the friction he needs.

Alec pulls back. “Magnus,” he says.

Magnus opens his eyes to see that all the lamps are pulsing. He tamps down on his magic. “Sorry,” he says.

“Don’t be-” Alec kisses him again, unbuttoning Magnus’ pants at the same time and pushing him back toward the bed. By the Angel, Magnus loves a man who’s coordinated. “Don’t be sorry,” Alec says against his lips. “It’s hot. You’re so--”

But Alec never tells Magnus what he is. Instead Alec pushes Magnus’ pants over his hips, then crouches down to take off his shoes and throw his pants over his shoulder. Magnus could do this all with magic, but then he would miss out on Alec’s deft fingers, and his big hands running back up Magnus’ legs, cupping Magnus’ hips and manhandling Magnus into turning around and bending over the edge of the bed.

Magnus is about to summon lube, but Alec parts Magnus’ cheeks, leans in, and licks his hole.

Magnus keens. He grips the duvet so hard he’s surprised it doesn’t rip and watches it change from red to purple to green and back again. Across the room, a light bulb dies in a shower of sparks.

“Fuck! Shit! Alec!”

Alec licks around Magnus’ rim, then pushes his tongue inside.

Magnus doesn’t even know what he’s saying anymore, he just knows that sounds are coming out of his mouth and it doesn’t matter because Alec is taking him apart with his tongue. Another light bulb sparks and dies. Magnus barely even notices.

“I can’t, Alec, I can’t, I-”

With one last lick Alec pulls away and stands, draping himself over Magnus’ back.

“You’re okay,” Alec says into his ear. “I’ve got you.”

Magnus cranes his head around for a sloppy, off-center kiss.

“Come on,” Alec says. “Up.”

Magnus crawls onto the bed at Alec’s urging. He feels the dip in the mattress as Alec climbs up behind him, then Alec’s hand runs over his side down to his ass. He rests his thumb on Magnus’ entrance, not pushing at all, only rubbing gently. It drives Magnus insane. He pushes back against Alec’s thumb, trying to get pressure where he needs it, but Alec moves with him, keeping his touch light.


“I know,” Alec says. “Lube, Magnus.”

Magnus can barely concentrate long enough to summon lube and condoms from the bathroom and they tumble onto the bed next to Alec’s knee.

At the first press of Alec’s slick finger, Magnus groans, loud and low. “More,” he says.

“Patience,” Alec says.

Fuck patience, Magnus thinks, but doesn’t get a chance to say it because Alec is pressing another finger in and the stretch is so good Magnus forgets he had any complaints.

Alec opens him slowly, tortuously, pressing against his prostate until Magnus is cursing and begging.

Angel, just fuck me, please.”

And when Alec is finally, finally, pushing into him, slowly but steadily, Magnus nearly sobs with how good it feels. He hasn’t felt this is so long, this connection. It’s not just being filled, it’s being fulfilled. Like there’s a circuit that’s finally connecting inside of him and causing his whole body and soul to spark.

“Yes,” he hisses as Alec comes to rest fully inside him.

Alec stills for a long second. “Magnus,” he says, his voice rough. Then he gives a small thrust and Magnus sees stars.

“Oh fuck,” he chokes out. He leans forward to rest his head on the duvet and squeezes his eyes shut. He can’t coordinate holding himself up while Alec is moving inside him, shallow thrusts becoming deeper and harder.

Alec leans forward, close over Magnus’ back and wraps one arm around Magnus’ chest. Then he pulls him back, against his chest as he sits up on his knees. Magnus is splayed across his lap and Alec is holding him across his chest and belly. He thrusts up, short and hard and after a few minutes Magnus can’t help himself, he reaches for his cock.

“Yeah,” Alec says into his neck. “Jerk yourself off. Fuck, Magnus. Wanna see you come.” He bites down on Magnus’ shoulder and and suddenly Magnus is there yelling and spilling over his hand and all the rest of the light bulbs flare and explode, leaving them in darkness.

Magnus feels like he’s floating. He’s vaguely aware of Alec shouting his own orgasm, of being gently laid down and covered with the duvet, then Alec’s arms hugging him close, and the faint brush of lips against his hair.

There’s something he wants to say, but his brain can’t quite put together the words. He tries to concentrate, because it feels important, but he falls asleep before he can manage it.

Magnus blinks his eyes open to the yellow of early morning sun on his bedroom walls. He’s sore in the best way possible and deliciously warm. His back is pressed against Alec’s broad chest, Alec’s arm is draped around his waist, and Alec’s head is tucked into the crook of his neck, soft breaths puffing over his skin.

He closes his eyes and lets himself relax even further into Alec’s embrace. Alec’s arm tightens on his waist but his breathing doesn’t falter. He’s still fast asleep. Magnus smiles. He loves him so --

Magnus opens his eyes.

Fuck. Shit.

Alec murmurs sleepily at the way Magnus’ body has tensed up and Magnus makes himself relax again.

They haven’t done this before. Magnus just assumed that Alec wasn’t really a cuddler and let it go. Alec is usually awake before he is anyway. But this … this makes Magnus feel safe and warm and happy in a way that he thought he wasn’t capable of anymore.

Because he’s in love with Alec.

And, he is forced to admit to himself as he looks back over the the past six weeks, it’s not new. He started this as a way to guard his heart and not only has it backfired completely, it was doomed to fail from the beginning. He’s been lying to himself since the very first moment he saw Alec at Pandemonium.

And now here he is, in love with a nephilim, of all people, and one he’s paying to be here. He’s going to get his heart broken and it is entirely his own fault.

Behind him, Alec shifts a little. “Magnus?” he slurs into Magnus’ neck. Magnus reaches back and pets his hair.

“Go back to sleep, angel. It’s early.”

“Mmm,” Alec hums. He pulls Magnus closer, mouths a sloppy kiss on his shoulder, and falls back into sleep.

Magnus is so, so screwed.

He closes his eyes and thinks about how much Ragnor is going to laugh at him.


because father i have sinned and i wanna do it all again eventually

Chapter Text

part two

it’s been getting so the hardest part is trying to
talk some sense into our sparkling hearts

When Alec walks into the kitchen later that morning, Magnus is sitting at the breakfast bar staring down at a cup of coffee. He used magic to get the coffee machine work, but it just doesn’t taste as good as when Alec makes it. It feels like some sort of metaphor and Magnus doesn’t need the reminder.

“You’re up early,” Alec remarks.

“You slept late, darling,” Magnus counters. He looks up at Alec. He thought he was prepared, but the sight of Alec, shirtless and in loose sweatpants hanging low on hips with the most adorable bedhead, still steals his breath away. Magnus is an idiot. Alec doesn’t look any different now than he did yesterday morning. Only Magnus has changed.

“I guess you kinda wore me out,” Alec smirks. He steps up behind Magnus and slides his arms around his shoulders, leans down and kisses Magnus’ neck. Magnus tilts his head to give Alec better access and tries ignore the way his heart wants to beat out of his chest at this small gesture of affection.

He wonders how much of this is real, and how much is just Alec doing his job: figuring out what Magnus likes and giving it to him, because Magnus is paying him.

“Magnus? What’s wrong?” Alec moves so that he can look Magnus in the eye, figure out what made Magnus tense up. Alec is very, very good at his job. Magnus searches Alec’s face for any sign that he might not want to give Magnus this affection. All he sees is concern and a little bit of self doubt.

He thinks about this morning. Alec was sleeping, so he must have been really okay with it. And he was genuinely concerned about Magnus’ safety last night. Alec may not return his feelings but -- they have a good relationship. Almost a friendship, if anything so unequal could be called that.

Ignoring the sinking suspicion that he’s fooling himself again, Magnus answers.

“I was thinking about the demon last night.” It’s not even a lie. It’s what he was thinking about before Alec woke up. “It shouldn’t have been able to get so close to my lair.”

Just like that, Alec is all business. His brow furrows and he drops onto the stool next to Magnus. “What does that mean?”

“I have low-level wards up for a 5-block radius around the loft. A demon can’t enter this realm within them, and one shouldn’t be able to just wander past them.”

“So you think someone left it there deliberately?”

Magnus shrugs. “The wards could have fritzed for a second, though that’s never happened before. It could have piggybacked on someone else crossing the wards. Or…”


“If someone opened a portal within my wards and sent the demon through, it could bypass the outer wards.”

“A shax demon by itself is already pretty suspicious,” Alec points out and Magnus nods.

“I’ll strengthen the wards today, but that won’t stop any from being portalled in.”

Alec taps his fingers against the counter. “Do you think another warlock is targeting you?”

It’s like watching a completely different Alec. Despite his bed-rumpled state, his back is straight, his shoulders held confidently as he works through the problem. He’s calm and determined while also giving the sense of being ready to go and punish the perpetrator at the first opportunity.

How the fuck did you end up turning tricks in my club?

It’s not the first time Magnus has wondered, but it’s the first time he’s realized how … off it is. Between last night and this morning it’s clear that Alec is not just a Shadowhunter -- he’s an incredibly gifted Shadowhunter and one used to leadership. Whatever happened that put Alec on the streets, it can’t be good.

“It could be,” Magnus says. “But there are plenty of warlocks who would take payment for that kind of job without a thought. Though, honestly, if they thought one little shax demon is all it would take, they are in for a very rude awakening.”

“Maybe they didn’t think the demon would kill you,” Alec says slowly. “Maybe they were just seeing if they could do it. Maybe they wanted to know what you would do.”

That’s an infinitely more chilling thought, and suggests that Magnus should expect another attack in the future. The thought clearly also occurs to Alec because his expression hardens.

“We need to figure out who’s doing this.”

Magnus’ heart thrills at the protectiveness in Alec’s voice and the way he says we. And on the heels of that it says, you can’t keep him. Alec doesn’t belong here. He’s wasted here, in Magnus’ loft, training hours a day for job he no longer has, a purpose he no longer fulfills. He belongs in an Institute, fighting demons and protecting people. Magnus pushes that thought to the side. Until Magnus figures out why Alec left in the first place, he can’t say he’d be better off. Until then, Alec is here, with Magnus, and apparently he wants to keep Magnus safe.

“I’m sorry to say that when you’ve lived as long as I have, the possibilities for people who want to do you harm grow quite long,” Magnus says.

Alec frowns. “Then we need a way to narrow down the options. We shouldn’t just wait for them to try again.”

“Agreed. How would you feel about a trip to Pandemonium tonight? I’ve been absent a bit too long, I’m afraid, and if there’s any information floating around about someone targeting me, that’s where we’ll find it.”

“Is this really about information gathering or just an excuse to go clubbing?” Alec asks.

“It can’t be both?”

Alec flashes a grin, a slightly feral one with too many teeth. He slips off his stool and steps in between Magnus’ legs, leans into him and rests his forearms on Magnus’ shoulders. “You wanna show me off to all those people that had me before? Rub it in their faces that they can’t touch me anymore?”

“God yes,” Magnus says, and closes his eyes against the truth of it.

“All yours now,” Alec says against his cheek. “Only yours.”

And Magnus nods because he wishes it was true.

Magnus could portal directly into his office at Pandemonium, but he never does. Making an entrance is half the fun, after all.

They are, Magnus thinks smugly as he and Alec walk down the alley to the door, making quite the entrance.

Alec has -- of course -- chosen to wear all black. Black jeans, black boots, and a black t-shirt with a deep v-neck. The simplicity of the outfit just highlights Alec’s body: his toned muscles, dark runes. He even allowed Magnus to smudge the corners of his eyes with black eyeliner before leaving the loft.

The idea of dressing to match is no longer in style, but Magnus doesn’t care. He’s always used clothing to express himself. He’s in black as well, with silver accents. The cut of his clothes are slim, showing off his own body rather than hiding it. His style doesn’t run to simplicity like Alec’s, but together they look exquisite and deadly. There are three people in the world who would understand the statement Magnus is making tonight. Thankfully, two of them aren’t even on the continent and he highly doubts Raphael will choose tonight to show up at Pandemonium.

Once inside, Alec leans in close to be heard over the music. “I can check with people I know, see what I’ve missed if you want to check with--”

“Later,” Magnus says with a wave of his hand. “Dancing first, then business.”

Alec glares. “Magnus, you’re in danger. Be serious.”

“I’m always serious about dancing,” Magnus replies and tugs Alec to the dance floor. Alec rolls his eyes but he plays along when Magnus starts dancing. Alec falls into rhythm with Magnus, staying close and letting him take the lead in a dance that’s really more like foreplay than the dancing Magnus has done most of his life. Not that Magnus is complaining.

Magnus can feel people watching them. Because Magnus is the High Warlock. Because he’s with a Shadowhunter. Because he’s with the nephilim rent boy. Because they’re both exceptionally attractive. Good. Let them stare. Let them see that Alec is off limits and under his protection.

If Alec notices the stares, he doesn’t let on. He ducks down and nips at Magnus’ neck, then licks and sucks at the spot until Magnus has to bite back a moan.

“I thought you wanted to be serious,” Magnus says into Alec’s ear.

“I’m told that dancing is very serious business,” Alec says and twists his hips so they brush against Magnus.’ Magnus doesn’t bother holding back his moan this time.

“Behave,” he tells Alec.

He can barely hear Alec’s low laugh. “Or what?”

“I’m sorry to say--” Alec bites at his earlobe and Magnus gasps. “--I may be forced to report you to the owner.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.” Magnus tilts his head back as Alec starts kissing his way down his neck.

“Well I wouldn’t want to get into trouble with the owner,” Alec says into Magnus’ skin and then abruptly pulls back and puts a few inches of space between their bodies. He smirks when Magnus sways forward trying to connect them again. “Behave.”

Magnus growls and grabs a handful of Alec’s t-shirt, pulling him back so he can kiss him, hard and dirty. When he lets go and steps back, Alec’s pupils are blown and his mouth slack. He narrows his eyes at Magnus when he notices him grinning.

Magnus pulls him back, but not too close. “We’ll never get any information if I drag you back home to bed.”

“If you say so,” Alec says and falls back into rhythm -- without the extracurriculars this time.

Magnus keeps them on the floor for two more songs before he figures it’s time to get to work. Alec melts away into the crowd to find his fellow street rats. Magnus knows he doesn’t have to worry, that Alec can take care of himself, but that doesn’t stop him. He doesn’t let it show on his face though as he ascends to the VIP area where he can look out on his club and let the information come to him.

He really was away from Pandemonium for too long. Almost immediately a young warlock approaches him and tells him about a break-in at his lair. He hears several similar stories over the next hour. Thefts, break-ins, demons, disappearances. It’s not just Magnus, someone is targeting all of the warlocks in New York.

Unease fills Magnus. There are very few beings powerful enough to pull off coordinated attacks like this. Even fewer who would want to. He hasn’t heard of anything like it 20 years. Not since --

A flash a bright red hair across the room catches his attention. It niggles at the back of his mind, almost familiar, but before he can place it, he notices the two men standing by the bar, out of place in their suits and sunglasses. He’s out of his seat and on his way over before he fully registers the circle runes on their necks.

“Circle members aren’t welcome in my club,” he states.

“No worries, warlock,” one of them says. “It’s all ancient history.”

“Really? To me it’s like the blink of an eye.” He lets the glamour fall from his eyes and reaches out with his magic until one of the circle members starts choking. The other starts forward but is stopped by the glow of a seraph dagger against his neck.

“He said leave,” Alec growls.

When it’s no longer two against one the Circle members waste no time in scurrying to the door.

Alec reaches out and grabs Magnus’ wrist while he scans the area around them. “We need to go. Now.”

“Alec, what--”

“There are Shadowhunters from the Institute going after a pack of Ravener demons in the back room,” Alec says. It’s obvious which one of those scares Alec more, and Magnus knows he’s not afraid of demons.

“We can portal from my office,” Magnus says. Alec nods tightly and motions for Magnus to precede him.

When they get to his office, Alec closes the door and leans back against it, eyes closed. Magnus heads straight to his desk for a piece of parchment. If Circle members are getting bold enough to show their faces at his club, there are two people who need to know.

“Just let me send off this message, angel, and then we’ll go home,” Magnus says. Alec doesn’t say anything, and when Magnus sends the message to Dot and looks up he sees that Alec’s attention is elsewhere. His expression is strange, his gaze hazy, and one hand is pressed to a spot right above his left hip.

Magnus would say he knows Alec’s body pretty well by now, and he’s certain there’s a rune there. He tries to remember what it is, but it wasn’t one he recognized off the top of his head.

“Alec,” he says.

Alec’s eyes refocus and he snatches his hand away from his hip. For a second he looks lost and incredibly young before he schools his expression to blankness again. “Ready?” he asks.

Magnus wants to ask, but Alec clearly doesn’t want to talk about it, so Magnus opens a portal.


Magnus waits until Alec falls asleep.

He’s using Magnus’ shoulder as a pillow, snoring softly and Magnus almost decides to let it go because Alec is just too adorable for words and he doesn’t want to move.

But he needs to know.

He eases out from underneath Alec and pulls on a robe. In the library he lights a single lamp and summons a small plain book from the top corner of an out of the way shelf.

If the Clave knew he had this, he’d be arrested. They’re greedy with their knowledge, their angelic powers.

Good thing they don’t know he has it, then.

He pages through, studying each page and then moving on. Each page is a drawing of a rune. Magnus has kept this book for almost as long as he’s been alive, noting each rune he learned no matter how common or obscure. Just in case.

He stops when he sees the rune he’s newly memorized from Alec’s hip.


It’s a parabatai rune.

Alec has a parabatai.

Magnus stares at the page. That feeling of wrongness about Alec’s situation is back and worse than ever. Magnus has known parabatai before. The idea that Alec would have left his willingly is … unthinkable.

What happened to you?

Magnus closes the book and banishes it back to it’s place on the shelf.

He has to figure out what’s going on. He doesn’t think he’ll get many answers out of Alec, so he’ll just have to find out on his own.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

With the Circle hunting warlocks and mundanes being murdered for their blood, Magnus barely has time to think, let alone conduct a secret investigation.

And it would help if Magnus had a place to start.

He’s assuming Alec is from the New York Institute, from his accent, and because he still has people he wants to protect here, probably including his parabatai. But that’s about the only thing he’s sure of. The truth is that he doesn’t even know if Alec is his real name.

The thought hurts like a punch to the stomach, but Magnus has to acknowledge the possibility. Alec had no reason to trust him when they first met. If he’s really hiding from other Shadowhunters, he probably wouldn’t go around using his real name.

So Magnus is at something of an impasse when he finally gets a night free from clients and his responsibilities to other warlocks. It’s been a long, stressful, horrid week and all Magnus wants to do is curl up on the couch with his -- well, with Alec.

They’ve been working their way through Firefly and by the second episode Alec has sprawled across the couch, his head in Magnus’ lap. Magnus twists his fingers gently through Alec’s hair and tries not to think too hard about it. He’s enjoying it, it feels good, and Alec seems relaxed too. If Magnus tenses up thinking too much he’ll ruin it for both of them.

Magnus runs a finger lightly around the shell of Alec’s ear and Alec hums appreciatively and rubs his cheek on Magnus’ thigh. The gesture is remarkably cat-like and Magnus can’t help the smile that blooms on his face as he looks down at Alec. He wonders if Alec had a cat growing up -- in Idris maybe. The thought makes the smile slide of of Magnus’ face. He slides his hand back into Alec’s hair.

“Is Alec your real name?”

Fuck. He didn’t mean to say that out loud.

Alec jerks and rolls so that he’s looking up at Magnus. Magnus’ hand is dislodged from his hair. “What?”

“Sorry. You don’t have to tell me.” Magnus’ hands flutter around Alec’s head before he clenches them at his side. “Sorry, let’s just watch.” But Alec sits up and Magnus desperately wishes he had just kept his mouth shut.

“It’s Alexander, actually, but nobody calls me that.”

“Alexander,” Magnus says, trying the word out in his mouth. He likes the way it rolls off of his tongue. Alec is looking at him with an expression Magnus can’t interpret.


Because I want every little piece of you that you are willing to give me, Magnus doesn’t say. I want something about this to be real.

“Just, you’ve been a little jumpy since we almost ran into those Shadowhunters last week. I wondered if you were using your real name if you were that worried about them.”

Alec presses his lips together and looks off into the distance for a moment. “I wasn’t,” he says finally. “You’re right, after I left, I used a different name to make it harder to find me. If anyone--” He stops and presses his lips together again, as if to stop the words from coming out. He’s rubbing his thumb along the palm of his hand, over a faint scar there. “But when you -- I figured, you know, if I was going to be living here, then it would be easier if you knew my real name. And you,” he looks back up at Magnus and smiles a little, though it’s not a particularly happy smile. “You have a bit of a reputation about Shadowhunters. I figured you wouldn’t sell me out to them.”

“Of course not!” Magnus says. Alec’s smile turns slightly more genuine. “You can tell me, you know,” Magnus says. Alec blinks at him. “You don’t have to. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, but if you ever want to tell me about why you left, you can.”

Alec’s gaze shifts back to his lap. “Thanks. But I--”

“Like I said, you don’t have to.” Magnus reaches out and draws Alec down so he’s laying in his lap again. “Let’s just watch for now.”

Alec settles and curls a hand around Magnus’ thigh. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

Magnus doesn’t get home until well after dark the next night. The kitchen and living room are empty but he can hear the faint thud of fists against a punching bag coming from Alec’s room.

Mmm, post-workout Alec, Magnus thinks as he makes his way through the loft. He’s not disappointed when he reaches Alec’s room. There’s nothing ever disappointing about Alec without his shirt on.

“Alexander,” he says from the doorway, trying it out. He likes it. Likes the way it feels in his mouth. Likes the way it reminds him of the trust Alec’s put in him. Likes the small, strange smile it puts on Alec’s face.

“Hey,” Alec says, catching hold of the punching bag to keep it still.

“Almost done?” Magnus leans against the doorjamb. He doesn’t want to interrupt Alec’s training he just … really wants to interrupt Alec’s training.

“I can be done,” Alec says. He lets go of the punching bag and walks to Magnus, hips loose and eyes intent. Magnus is really enjoying this new take control Alec. A lot. Alec’s hand brushes along his jaw and curls around his ear to cradle the back of his head and pull him closer. Magnus closes his eyes, tilting his face up in anticipation of Alec’s kiss --

Banging on the front door makes Alec freeze. Magnus sighs. He wants to ignore it, but there are too many warlocks in need of his help right now.

“I’ll try and make it quick,” Magnus whispers against Alec’s lips.

“Don’t take too long, or I’ll start without you,” Alec says. He nips quickly at Magnus’ lips and steps back. Magnus swallows his groan.

He turns and heads to the door before he can change his mind.

“This better be--” he barks as he swings the door open, “--good,” he finishes, purely on momentum. He stares at the woman in front of him, too surprised to shut the door in her face.

“Really, Magnus,” Camille says as she breezes into his loft, “is that any way to greet an old friend?”

Magnus isn’t stupid. He knows Camille has been in New York for decades, but that’s the beauty of New York: it’s the perfect place to keep up a 138 years streak of avoiding someone you don’t want to see. And now it’s ruined.

“What do you want, Camille?”

“Maybe I just wanted to see you, my love,” Camille says. “It’s been too long.”

“It hasn’t,” Magnus says flatly. “And we both know you came here for something, so just tell me what it is so you can leave.”

Camille pouts. Once, Magnus would have moved the world at the sight of it. Now, he just wants her out of his loft. “Fine. I need a Writ of Transmutation.”

Magnus raises his eyebrows but doesn’t move to comply with her request. “You’ve turned someone. And you expect me to believe it was by their decision?”

“My love, the poor little caramel was aching for me. Don’t be jealous, not after all these years.”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “I don’t care what you do anymore, Camille, and I haven’t for over a hundred years.” Camille opens her mouth to speak and Magnus interrupts her. “Unless you’re breaking the Accords.”

Her smile shatters and she glares at him. “Since when do you care about the Accords? Unless...” Her eyes turn sly and she takes a deep breath. “Angel blood. It’s everywhere.”

Shit. The last thing he wants is Camille taking an interest in Alec.

“That’s none of your--”


Magnus barely keeps the cringe from his face as Alec walks into the room. He watches Camille’s predator’s eyes lock onto him and resigns himself to this going very very badly.

“What do we have here?” Camille purrs. “A nephilim?”

Alec walks -- no he slinks over to them. He’s put on a shirt, but it doesn’t matter. He exudes sex with every step. He molds himself to Magnus’ back, his arms draped around Magnus’ shoulder and asks, as if he couldn’t care less, “Who’s that?”

Before Magnus can even think of an answer, Camille speaks. “Really, my love, I know Valentine is alive and hunting warlocks again, but is that all it takes for you to go crawling back to the Shadowhunters? Like you need a bodyguard?”

Magnus can’t see Alec, but he can feel him. And he feels his posture go even looser and his hands curl against Magnus’ chest. “I’m not a bodyguard,” Alec says, totally bored. “I’m a prostitute.”

For once, Camille is speechless.

Alec sighs and presses a slow open mouthed kiss to Magnus’ neck that Magnus can’t help but melt into. “Let me know if anyone interesting shows up,” he says and detaches himself from Magnus’ back. He adds softly, but certainly loud enough for a vampire to hear, “Remember what I said about starting without you.”

Alec slinks himself back out of the room and Magnus completely forgets about Camille standing in his foyer while Alec’s ass in view and moving like that.

“Magnus!” Camille hisses, and Magnus starts. He doesn’t think it’s the first time she’s tried to get his attention.

“Okay, I’m back,” he says, more to himself than her. “A Writ of Transmutation was it?” He summons a parchment and drifts over to a table to begin drafting the writ, most of his mind still on Alec. As sexy as it was to see Alec bleed sex appeal and shut Camille up in the process, Magnus is a little thrown off by it.

It’s because, he thinks as he finishes the writ with a flourish, he hasn’t seen Alec like that in weeks. He hadn’t even really noticed, but Alec hasn’t put up that “fuck you I’m a hooker” mask in a long time. And it is a mask, Magnus realizes now. Which means Magnus has been seeing the Alec beneath the mask all this time, which is ....

“It won’t last,” Camille laughs, snapping Magnus from his thoughts. “He’s mortal, and a nephilim.”

“Thank you for stating the obvious, Camille,” Magnus snaps. With a flick of his wrist he rolls her writ up and ties it off with a ribbon. “Any other keen observations you’d like to share before you get the hell out of my lair?”

“That’s your problem, Magnus, you’re too sentimental.” She snatches the writ out of his hand and stalks to the door. She turns. “You may have the memories, but don’t get between me and the Cup. That goes for your little nephilim whore, too.”

She slams the door behind her, leaving Magnus wondering what the hell is going on.

The fire message appears during dinner and Magnus barely saves it from dropping into his pho. Magnus sighs. There goes his night off. He begins to read and feels his eyebrows reach for his hairline. This is the last thing he expected. Dammit, Jocelyn, he thinks. He realizes now that he hasn’t heard from Dot in over a week. He’s been so preoccupied he let it slip his mind.

“What is it?” Alec asks. He’s sitting on the floor leaning back against the couch, but now he’s abandoned his own dinner to look at Magnus.

“It’s from the Institute,” Magnus says slowly, reading the message again. Alec goes completely still.

“What -- What do they want?”

“A meeting,” Magnus says. “In regards to a job I did for a Shadowhunter a few years ago. The payment they’re offering is … something I’ve wanted returned for a long time.”

Alec shifts back and up onto the couch, still tense. “Are you going to take the meeting?”

“Yes,” Magnus says immediately, and Alec grimaces.

“Magnus, it’s not -”

“It’s not just about the payment,” Magnus says, and it’s true. He wants the ruby back, badly, but it's more than that. He owes it to Clarissa Fairchild. He never felt right about taking her memories, and now she’s apparently been thrust into the Shadow world without them or her mother’s guidance. But he doesn’t know how to explain that all to Alec. “It might help with Valentine and the Circle. I have to at least talk to them.”

Alec looks troubled, but he nods.

“It doesn’t have to be here,” Magnus says. “There’s a party at Hard Tail tonight that should be good cover.”

“No,” Alec says. “You shouldn’t expose yourself like that, not with Valentine hunting you. I’ll just,” he makes a vague hand gesture, “go out.”

“Alec,” Magnus starts, but Alec shakes his head.

“Just text me when they’re gone.”

“It might not be any safer,” Magnus admits. “I know for a fact there are former Circle members in that Institute.”

“But Hodge can’t leave, so you don’t have to worry about that,” Alec says. It’s the first time Alec has admitted to knowing any Shadowhunter in specific, but Magnus doesn’t have the time to appreciate the tidbit of knowledge.

“Besides Hodge Starkweather,” he says. Alec’s eyes widen in surprise.

“You mean there are others besides Hodge? But why -- who--” He cuts himself off and bites his lip, looking down at his lap. “I can stay here,” he says. “When they come, I can stay, just in case.” His hands are clenched into fists so tight his knuckles are white. He’s terrified, but determined to do it if Magnus asks and Magnus’ heart swells with love for him.

“That’s not necessary,” Magnus says gently. “I’ll limit the number of people I let past my wards. Even if this Shadowhunter turns out to be a traitor, I can handle one Shadowhunter.” Alec opens his mouth to argue. “But I doubt it will come to that. I think these Shadowhunters legitimately need my help.”

Alec still doesn’t look convinced. “Who will it be? Who’s coming?”

“One of the Lightwood children,” Magnus says and glances back down to the signature on the fire message. “I have to say, I’ve never once met a Lightwood I’ve gotten along with, but they are going to pay me very handsomely.” He looks back to Alec only to find Alec turned away and tense all over, his hands back into fists. Was it mentioning the Lightwoods? Alec must know them, if he’s from the New York Institute.

“Alec.” Magnus reaches out for Alec’s shoulder, but Alec jumps up from the couch at the contact.

“Just. Text me. Later,” Alec shoves his feet into his boots and grabs a hoodie all without looking at Magnus once.

“Alec -”

But Alec is already gone.

An hour later, his wards ping with Shadowhunter presence. There are three of them, but only one enters the building. They’re obeying his instructions, which is good.

He opens the door to a striking dark haired young woman. “Isabelle Lightwood, I presume?”

Isabelle smiles tightly and holds out her hand. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mr. Bane.”

Magnus is briefly taken aback by the politeness from someone who looks so much like a younger Maryse Lightwood. He shakes her hand and feels the weapons calluses there. She’s spruced up her drab black Shadowhunter gear with a bright red shirt with a plunging neckline and some truly fabulous ankle boots, but this woman is a fighter.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Magnus says, “if you have what you say you do.”

Isabelle reaches into her pocket and pulls out a necklace he would recognize anywhere. The ruby gleams softly and Magnus reaches for it.

Isabelle jerks it away. “Memories first,” she says. “No offense.”

“Of course,” Magnus says through gritted teeth. “Come in. Would you like a drink?” He’s certainly having one. It seems to be the week for bringing up bad memories. He leads Isabelle further into the loft and makes a beeline for his drink cart.

“No, thank you,” Isabelle says. Magnus shrugs and pours himself a martini. “As I explained in my message, Jocelyn Fairchild has been taken, and Clary is desperate for her memories. You do have them, yes?”

Magnus takes a fortifying sip of vodka and turns back to Isabelle. “Yes. And no.”

Isabelle frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I took Clary’s memories, but I don’t have them anymore. I fed them to a demon.”

“A demon! But--”

“But,” Magnus continues, “we can summon the demon and get them back.” When that doesn’t seem to appease her he explains, “I had to make sure Valentine couldn’t get them, even if he got to me. It was part of my contract with Jocelyn.”

Isabelle softens. “So you really think her memories could lead to the Mortal Cup?”

Suddenly, everything Camille said a few days ago makes sense. Of course Valentine is looking for the Cup. And of course Camille would want it if it’s back in play. And of course -- goddammit Jocelyn -- Jocelyn Fairchild had it this whole time. Magnus struggles not to let any of that show on his face. He takes a few steps so that he can lean on the breakfast bar. Isabelle follows him, but still stands at parade rest. It reminds him of Alec and how he slips into that exact same posture if he’s uncomfortable and not paying attention. Shadowhunters.

“That, I can’t say,” he admits. “I only know that Jocelyn was desperate to keep her daughter safe from Valentine.”

He looks up at Isabelle only to find her not paying attention to him at all. Instead, she’s staring intently at something behind Magnus. He turns to make sure something hasn’t gotten in, but only sees the room as it always is: lamp, rug, kitchen table and chairs, Alec’s jacket with the stains that are still resisting his cleaning spells. The painting on the wall is one Magnus is particularly fond of, but he can’t see it causing a Shadowhunter this much distraction.

He’s about to say something when Isabelle blinks and snaps her attention back to him.

“So, summoning this demon, is it complicated?” Something about her tone is softer, and her posture loosens a little bit. “Can we do it tonight?”

Magnus considers. He hates to make Alec stay away for this long, but it’s better to get it all over with now. He snaps his fingers to reconfigure the wards. “Get Clarissa and your friends. We’ve got a demon to summon.”

When the Shadowhunters finally go, Isabelle and Jace supporting Clary between them as the returned memories reintegrate into her mind, Magnus pours himself another drink before collapsing on the couch less than gracefully. Summoning demons always takes a considerable amount of energy. Containing Valak while he took his payment and returned Clary’s memories has left Magnus more drained than he’d like to admit.

He’d been scared for a moment when Valak named his price. He’d been scared that Valak would pull a memory of Alec and the Shadowhunters would recognize him and disrupt the ritual. But instead he took a memory of Ragnor and Catarina. Magnus is relieved, but he’s aware of how deeply he’s in trouble, if he really was worried that it would be Alec in that memory.

After that, the ritual went smoothly. He recognized Jocelyn in Clary’s memory, even through the haze and confusion of the ritual. Isabelle gave up a memory of a preteen boy helping her hold a sword, and the Wayland boy gave up a memory of what seemed to be that same boy at a parabatai ceremony. The elder Lightwood, maybe. Magnus knows there’s more of them, though Angel knows why the Lightwoods of all people had to procreate so much. Still, Isabelle doesn’t seem so bad and Magnus feels relatively at ease leaving Clary in her hands.

He takes one long gulp of his drink. He should get up, get something to eat, maybe take a bath. He definitely will, in just a minute.

The sound of the door opening startles him into almost spilling his drink. It hasn’t been five minutes since he told Alec it was safe to come back. He must not have gone very far. Overprotective idiot, Magnus thinks, but even in his head it’s fond.

“That didn’t take long,” Magnus calls out. He pushes himself upright.

“I didn’t go very far,” Alec says, coming in from the foyer. He heads straight for the couch and sits, staring down at his hands. “Magnus, I--”

Magnus hates that Alec is scared. Hates that there are so many secrets between them. Hates that he can’t see Alec’s face.

He’s ready to just say to hell with the drama for tonight and just take Alec to bed, but Alec reaches out and snags Magnus’ glass of whiskey out of his hand. He tosses back the whole thing and takes a deep breath.

“I was ten when I realized there was something wrong with me,” he says. Magnus wants to disagree, to tell Alec that there could never be anything wrong with him, but he senses that Alec is working up to something and any interruption might derail the whole thing.

“I thought maybe I’d grow out of it, but I didn’t. So I thought that if I worked hard enough, became the best Shadowhunter I could be, maybe I’d forget about it, or it wouldn’t matter anymore.” He huffs out a humorless laugh. “I just got really good at repressing. But all I wanted was to be a Shadowhunter, and to make my family proud, so I just … gave up on dating or being in love or … any of that. I knew I couldn’t have what I wanted, so I gave up.

“At least, I thought I did. My parents came to the Institute one day and they wanted to talk to me. I thought they were gonna reprimand me about something, some decision they didn’t agree with, whatever. They did that all the time. They never--” He cuts himself off and takes another deep breath. “They told me they were in the process of arranging a marriage for me. And I realized how stupid I’d been. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life alone, and I was fine -- I thought I was fine with that. But no Shadowhunter spends the rest of their life alone, especially not respected Shadowhunters from good families.”

Alec runs his hands through his hair and Magnus bites his lip to keep from saying anything. He thinks he knows where this is going now, and even though he’s been dying to know, he’s suddenly scared to hear it.

“I told them no.” Alec’s rubbing the scar on his hand again, and he won’t look Magnus in the eye. “I don’t think I had ever told them no. Not for something important. And when they pushed I just blurted it out. That I couldn’t marry a woman because I only liked boys. I didn’t mean to. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone, ever. Maybe in the moment I thought it was the only thing that would get them to stop. Which was stupid.

“And they both got really angry and really quiet. And my father said, ‘Go take a walk, Alec. Come back when you’re ready to do your duty to this family.’ So I went for a walk. And I just kept walking.” He turns his head and looks at Magnus for the first time since he came back to the loft. “I haven’t been back since.”


Alec leans back and looks up at the ceiling. “Anyway, I was an idiot. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t have any money and you can’t stay glamored all the time, you know? It was still winter then. Hustling pool worked for a while but it stops working when people start recognizing you. That’s how TJ and Jesse and those guys found me.”

Alec stands suddenly and goes to the drink cart. He pours himself another shot of whiskey and knocks it back. He pours another one, but doesn’t drink it.

“Back at the Institute I was so deep in the closet, I’d never done anything. I was homeless and freezing and I’d never even kissed a guy. So I thought, fuck it, right? And at least this way I had a place to sleep.” He picks up the glass, but puts it back down without drinking. “You know, it’s funny, but learning to be a whore isn’t all that different from learning to be a Shadowhunter. You train your body to do certain things, you practice until you do them right, and when you fuck up, there are consequences. And no john ever hit as hard as Hodge did when he was teaching us a lesson he thought we should have already learned.”

Magnus feels a coil of nausea in his gut. He can’t stop it. It isn’t like he thought Alec’s past was rainbows and puppies, but hearing it is another thing altogether. He shoves it down. He lived it. The least you can do is listen.

“The five of us ate for three weeks on the money we got from selling my virginity to some mundane business man. Three weeks. And once we found Pandemonium, I could fucking earn, you know? It was easy. Do you know much some Downworlders will pay to see a Shadowhunter on their knees? A Shadowhunter who won’t hit back and can’t report them to the Clave?”

Guilt flares. Magnus looks down at his lap, at his own hands clenched into fists. He can’t look at Alec, afraid of meeting his eyes.

Alec drinks the whiskey, puts the glass back down on the cart, and sits back down on the couch.

“Anyway, I used to worry about Shadowhunters finding me, but I don’t think they’re looking. I mean, a few people probably are, on their own. But as an organization, I don’t think they’re looking. So that’s …” Alec seems to run out of words then, so he just makes a small gesture with his hand and looks down at his lap, exhausted and silent.

“Alec,” Magnus says. He reaches out to cup Alec’s cheek, but stops inches from his skin, waiting for permission. Alec turns his head into the touch. He closes his eyes and lets out a little sigh at the touch. “Let’s just go to sleep, okay?”

Alec opens his eyes and Magnus is struck again, just like the he was on the first night he met Alec, by how intense they are.

Alec presses his lips to Magnus’ palm and nods.

Magnus wakes the next morning to lips on his neck and Alec’s hard-on pressed against his backside. He groans appreciatively and reaches back to touch Alec. Next thing he knows he’s on his back, pressed into the mattress with Alec leaning over him and tugging his underwear down.

“Whoa,” he mutters, his half awake brain struggling to catch up. It does right as Alec takes his cock in his mouth and he desperately wishes to be half asleep again. But he’s not, and remembers what happened last night, so he pushes up to his elbows and says, “Alec, wait.”

Alec lifts his head and glares at Magnus. “Don’t,” he says. Magnus studies his face. He can’t help remembering the way Alec learned to do amazing things with his mouth -- when you fuck up there are consequences -- but it’s obvious that the last thing Alec wants is his pity.

“Well, if you really want to,” Magnus says with deliberate lightness.

Alec holds his gaze. “I really want to,” he says firmly. Magnus nods and groans when Alec’s mouth is back on him.

And really, if Alec wants to work out his feelings of vulnerability via blow job, who is Magnus to tell him no?

Later, when they’re both sweaty and sated and Magnus is tucked up against Alec’s side tracing the runes on his chest and shoulder he says softly, half hoping Alec won’t hear him, “I’m sorry.”

Alec huffs in irritation. “Magnus, I told you, I don’t--”

“Not for that,” Magnus says, although it’s not exactly true. Maybe he is sorry, but if Alec hadn’t been turning tricks in his club that night, and if Magnus hadn’t paid for his services, they wouldn’t be here, and Magnus can’t regret meeting Alec. Not at all.

“What you said about Downworlders wanting to see a Shadowhunter on their knees …” Magnus swallows. “I did.”

“I know,” Alec says, soft and a little sad. One of his hands is brushing through Magnus’ hair and rubbing the ends between his fingertips. It’s soothing, and it’s the last thing Magnus deserves from Alec.

“I’m sorry,” he says again.

“Magnus,” Alec says. He shifts around until he’s on his side and can look at Magnus. “You … I told you, you have a bit of a reputation about Shadowhunters. And I knew that, okay? And you didn’t -- you didn’t even want to smack me around or come on my face, or anything. Those were pretty standard. And then you brought me here, and I’m never hungry or cold, and there are no roaches, and … I mean, it’s not about that anymore, right?”

“Of course not,” Magnus says, though he can’t help feeling like he only cleared the bar because it was set so low.

“I…I like it here,” Alec says like it’s a secret. “I don’t care how it started if I’m here now, okay?”

It’s not, Magnus thinks. But hopefully, one day, he can make it okay. One day, he’ll make it up to Alec, he promises himself. Until that day, he’ll just keep trying to be better.

“Okay,” he says, and pulls Alec close.

Chapter Text

Magnus doesn’t hear from the Shadowhunters after the summoning. The Circle is also quiet, so Magnus assumes no one has found the Mortal Cup yet. Fine by him. The Shadow world settles into a tense waiting game while Magnus helps keeps his warlocks in hiding, and keeps himself and Alec holed up in his loft.

Not that that’s such a hardship.

If he doesn’t think about it, he can pretend that this is all he has to worry about: spoiling Alec with good food, luxurious kisses, and overwhelming orgasms.

“I’m not fragile, you know,” Alec says at one point when Magnus has him laid out on the couch, taking his time exploring Alec’s chest with his mouth and tongue.

“I know that,” Magnus says, and sinks his teeth into Alec’s pec to prove it. Alec’s hips jerk and his hands sink into Magnus’ hair. Magnus soothes the bite with his tongue and Alec inhales a shaking breath. “I want to do this. I like it. Don’t you?”

“It’s not bad,” Alec says, trying for casual but too breathless to reach it. His hands clench and unclench in Magnus’ hair, betraying how turned on he is.

Magnus can’t find the words to explain to Alec how precious he is to Magnus, and how Magnus wants to treat him that way. They probably wouldn’t even be welcome if Magnus could find them, so he has to use actions instead.

Of course, no matter how much he pretends, there is a world outside of his loft, and eventually it comes knocking. Literally.

Magnus is organizing his potions ingredients while Alec reads on the couch when the banging starts. It doesn’t stop, and when Magnus gets close, he can hear someone shouting his name.

He opens the door to Maia and Alaric, holding a bloody Luke Garroway between them.

“He needs help,” Maia says.

“What happened?” Magnus snaps, but he’s already leading them inside to the couches. Having heard the commotion, Alec is already up and he darts forward to help lower Luke down onto the couch, then he runs off, probably for the first aid supplies.

“He challenged the alpha,” Alaric says. Luke moans and arches off the couch in pain. Shit. Magnus runs to his work room.

“He was bitten?” he calls back, shoving jars aside and grabbing at his bark collection.

“Yes,” Alaric says.

He nearly bumps into Alec on his way out, arms full of gauze and bandages, and Magnus throws out an arm to keep him back.

“Wait for it,” he says, just as Luke screams and his eyes glow green. Magnus rushes forward and shoves the bark between Luke’s teeth before the transformation can proceed any further. “Random transformations are a side effect of an alpha’s bite,” Magnus explains as Luke settles back down and seems to slip into unconsciousness. He beckons Alec forward and turns his attention to Maia and Alaric. “The bark will only work for so long. He needs an antidote, and I don’t have all the ingredients.

“Whatever you need we’ll get them,” Maia says. There are unshed tears sparkling in her eyes, but her voice is steady and strong.

“I need you here,” Magnus tells her. “If Luke wakes up he’ll need someone familiar. Alaric?”

“I can get what you need.”

Magnus nods. “Phoenix eyes, moon salt, and Idris fulgurite. Go.” When Alaric has left, Magnus turns his attention to Maia. She’s watching Alec clean Luke’s wounds with suspicion. Alec is ignoring her, going about his business steadily and quickly. “Maia,” he tilts his head as a directive for her to follow him as he gathers the ingredients for the potion. “Tell me what happened.”

“Theo told Luke and Alaric to bring him some nephilim girl who supposedly knows where the Mortal Cup is.”

“Clary,” Magnus sighs.

“Yeah. And Luke just, refused. And when Theo ordered him, they fought. Luke killed him but …” She looks back over to Luke, fear evident in her face.

So now Luke is the new leader of the pack. Interesting.

“Stir,” he tells Maia, mostly just to give her something to do. He makes his way back to Alec to hold Luke up while Alec wraps his chest with bandages.

“These are too deep,” Alec says softly. “If his healing doesn’t take over, they’ll need stitches.”

“Once the poison is out of his system, he’ll start healing normally again,” Magnus says. He lays Luke back down gently.

“Magnus,” Luke says.

“Shh,” Magnus says, running his hand soothingly across Luke’s brow. He’s burning up. That’s not good.

“Magnus, you’ve got to -- Clary.”

“Clary is safe. She’s with the Shadowhunters. You need to to rest.”

“No, Magnus! You have to tell her!” Luke thrashes and blood blooms through Alec’s carefully applied bandages. The noise has brought Maia who drops to her knees and grabs Luke’s hand.

“The more agitated you are, the faster the poison will spread,” Magnus says. “I’m going to take away your pain.”

“No, don’t!” Luke says. “Tell Clary! All of it!”

“You’ll tell her yourself,” Magnus says.

“Magnus --”

“But yes, if need be, I will tell her.” Magnus turns to Alec and Maia. “Hold him down.”

Alaric is taking too long.

Magnus finishes the base of the potion and leaves it in stasis for the rest of the ingredients. Alec makes tea and forces a mug into Maia’s hand, then Magnus’. Maia seems to have gotten over her mistrust of Alec, or at least her worry for Luke is overshadowing even her dislike of Shadowhunters.

But the half-measures are wearing off and Alaric still isn’t back.

The only option left is for Magnus to keep the poison at bay himself. It takes pure magical power and will drain him quickly. But it’s the only thing that will keep Luke alive.

“Maia, when Alaric gets back you need to finish the potion. Just add everything at once and then give it to Luke, okay?”

Maia nods. She looks small and scared and Magnus wants to reassure her, but the truth is, unless Alaric gets back very soon, Luke is screwed. And so is Magnus.

“What can I do?” Alec asks as he crouches beside Magnus.

“Pray,” Magnus mutters under his breath, and begins.

He’s barely aware of the way his magic lights the room or of Luke’s screams. His entire being is focused on keeping the poison back. He doesn’t know how much time passes, only that he’s steadily running out of energy. His magic sputters and he falters, losing the strength to stay upright.

But before he can tip over, strong arms wrap around him, keeping him from falling. Alec.

“Magnus,” Alec says.

“Help,” Magnus says weakly, holding out his hand. He can’t manage the explanation, only hopes that Alec will understand. He does. He grabs Magnus’ hand firmly.

“Take what you need.”

The relief is instant as Alec opens himself up and Magnus is flooded with his fierce, angel-blessed strength. It’s enough to keep the poison at bay, but not enough to beat it back completely.

He feels more than sees Maia leaning over the back of the couch and then suddenly, the poison is gone. Magnus collapses back against Alec’s chest, letting himself rest there for a moment.

“Hey,” Alec whispers, “you okay?”

Magnus opens heavy eyelids to look up at Alec’s face and is overwhelmed by the tenderness and concern he sees there, by the gentle way Alec is holding him, and the way Alec had unflinchingly given up his strength to help Magnus.

What is Alec doing? He could have died, all for a man who paid him for sex -- for a john.

And what is Magnus doing, asking him to do it? Hadn’t he promised he was going to be better? How is this better?

He should be happy. Luke is going to be okay. But instead he presses his face against Alec’s chest and pretends the tears that prick his eyes are from exhaustion.

After Alaric goes back to the pack, and they set Luke up in a guest room with Maia to watch over him, Magnus trudges to his drink cart and pours himself a whiskey on the rocks. He’s exhausted and he’s sad and his body is heavy with it. He wants to go to bed, but he knows if he doesn’t have this conversation now, he’ll put it off forever, pretend that everything is fine, and Alec will let him. He watches Alec scrub at the blood on the couch and sighs.

“Alec, you don’t have to do that.”

“You’ve exerted yourself enough for one day,” Alec says without looking up.


Alec looks up and his his brow furrows. “Are you okay?”

Magnus sits at the non-bloodied end of the couch and waits for Alec to join him. “I am okay,” he says when Alec sits. “Thanks to you. Thank you, Alexander, for what you did.”

Alec nods, but his expression doesn’t clear. He can sense the ‘but’ coming.

“But that was dangerous. Giving up your energy to someone else can have … poor results, and I’m sorry for asking that of you.”

“I don’t understand,” Alec says. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying,” Magnus grips his glass tight and makes himself look at Alec. “I’m saying I think we should end our contract.”

Alec pales. “What? Magnus, no --”

“I’m not kicking you out,” Magnus says quickly. He should have led with that. Angel, he is such an idiot. “The opposite, really. You can stay here as long as you want. As long as you need. But you don’t owe me anything for it, okay?”

Alec shakes his head, clearly not comforted at all. Hell, Magnus is explaining this badly. “Why?” Alec asks. “Did I do something wrong? Do you not -- why?”

“You haven’t done anything wrong. What you did tonight, it goes so far beyond what your job description is.”

“I didn’t do it because it was my job, Magnus!”

“I know, but I -- I’m taking advantage of you Alec, it’s not --”

“No you’re not,” Alec says. “I told you, I like being here.”

“I know that, and I’m glad. But a safe place to live, with no one hurting you -- you shouldn’t have to pay for that in trade. It’s the very least of what you deserve, and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to rectify that.”

“I don’t need your pity, Magnus,” Alec growls.

“It’s not pity,” Magnus says. And Magnus had been hoping to spare himself this one humiliation, but clearly it’s the only way to make Alec understand. “I care about you, Alexander. I -- I love you. And I’m not telling you because I expect you to reciprocate, I’m telling you so that you’ll understand that I want you to be safe and cared for with no strings attached. I want to do that for you.”

“You ....” Finally Alec isn’t glaring at Magnus anymore. “You love me?”

It breaks Magnus’ heart that the idea of someone loving him seems confusing to Alec. Lovely, fierce Alec, who’s gone through so much and is still so good. Who Magnus fell in love with helplessly, against all logic, and despite his battered heart.

“Yes,” Magnus says. “I love you. But like I said, I don’t expect you to return my feelings, so --”

“Magnus.” Alec reaches out grabs Magnus’ hand. “You think I don’t love you?”

What? Maybe magic depletion is causing him to hallucinate. “What?”

Alec threads their fingers together. “I love you. I kinda felt like an idiot about it, you know, because you’re so,” he gestures with the hand not holding Magnus’ “you, and I’m just ... a nephilim rentboy.”

“You’re not just anything,” Magnus says fiercely.

Alec bites his lip against his smile. “I love that you think that.”

For a single moment Magnus is overwhelmed with happiness. Alec loves him. It’s more than he ever thought possible, more than he hoped for, it’s .... understandable, that Alec would think that. Magnus pulls his hand back from Alec’s.

“Alec, I understand why you think you love me, but --”

“What do you mean, think I love you --”

But,” Magnus says. “Just because I took you in and didn’t hurt you, that’s not love. It’s, it’s stockholm syndrome.”

“Magnus, you didn’t kidnap me!” Alec scowls.

“I exploited you,” Magnus says. “And just because I’m sorry about it now, doesn’t mean it was okay, doesn’t mean that you--”

“Will you stop!” Alec shouts. Magnus stops. He listens for any sound from the guest room, but doesn’t hear anything. Alec continues, quietly now. “If you’re so fucking worried about not exploiting me you need to stop telling me how I feel. Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I just go around falling in love with johns because they’re nice to me?”

“Of course not,” Magnus says, and Alec glares at him, so he shuts his mouth again.

“Do you know how long I was working Pandemonium before you noticed me? Weeks. I noticed you the very first night we went there. The first hour. You were sitting up in VIP and you were wearing a blue shirt and you were beautiful, and I wanted you. It had been so long since I just wanted someone like that, I thought maybe I couldn’t anymore. But then, there you were, and I wanted to know what your lips felt like, I wanted to know how you tasted and how you’d sound when you moaned.

“I kept trying to get you to notice me, and then you did, and …”

Magnus remembers the way Alec had smiled at him that first night, so open and happy.

“And then I took you back to my office and paid you for a blowjob,” Magnus sighs.

Alec shrugs. “I don’t know what else I thought was going to happen if you ever noticed me.”

“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” Magnus admits. “I was just going to ask you some questions, but you were so … hot. I got completely distracted.”

Alec laughs softly and shifts closer to Magnus. “I’m irresistable, huh?”

“Very,” Magnus says.

Alec reaches out and rests his palm on the side of Magnus’ neck, his fingers scratching against the short hairs at his nape. Magnus melts into it. “I do love you, and I have for a while now. Please don’t -- please just believe me.”

And Magnus has no defense against that simple plea, not when his entire being is clamoring for him to do it anyway. He curls his hand around Alec’s wrist. “I believe you. And I love you too.”

Alec’s smile is so bright Magnus can’t help but to smile back. And when Alec leans in to kiss him, he meets him halfway. The kiss starts out sweet, and then gets deeper, and it isn’t until Alec’s tongue is in his mouth that Magnus remembers, and pulls away.

“Wait, wait,” he says. “We still have to end the contract.”

Alec glares at him. “Magnus, we just--”

“I can’t do this when you’re contractually obligated to have sex with me, Alexander. That’s not how I want this to go on.”

Alec takes a deep breath and rests his forehead against Magnus’. “Okay. Okay. Yeah, you’re right. So let’s end the contract.” His hand sides into Magnus’ hair and tugs gently. His breath flutters across Magnus’ lips when he says, “Now, please.”

Magnus has regained enough magic to summon the contract with a snap. He shows it to Alec before another flick of his wrist sets it to burning. When it’s nothing but ash he says, “Okay that’s done.”

He barely gets the words out before Alec pounces, smashing their lips together and knocking Magnus back across the couch. He ends up with his head cradled in Alec’s hands, Alec’s weight holding him down, and Alec’s lips kissing the hell out of him.

He has no complaints.

Until Alec sucks hard on that particular spot on Magnus’ neck and Magnus moans and remembers that there are two werewolves with extremely good hearing very nearby.

“Wait,” Magnus says again, pulling Alec up from his neck. Alec’s glaring again.

“I swear to the Angel, Magnus, if you--”

“No,” Magnus says quickly, “just, we should move this to our bedroom if we don’t want Maia and Luke to hear.”

“Fine,” Alec says, disentangling himself from Magnus and standing up. He holds out a hand to pull Magnus up. It’s a simple gesture, but one that makes Magnus smile, and then laugh as Alec uses their joined hands to drag Magnus to the bedroom.

He crowds Magnus up against the door as soon as it’s closed, nipping and licking at Magnus’ lips and pulling at the hem of Magnus’ shirt. Magnus pulls back long enough for Alec to get the shirt over his head, then he returns the favor and pulls him closer and seals their lips together. Alec is restless, his body shifting until his hard-on slides against Magnus’ and he groans into Magnus’ mouth. The combination of feeling and sound sets a fire running through Magnus’ veins. He uses one foot to push off from the door and propel them onto the bed. Alec doesn’t object to the change in position, just pulls Magus back down to his lips with one hand while the other holds on to Magnus’ hip. His hips buck, seeking friction and when they find it he has to break the kiss to gasp, “Fuck, Magnus,” before going back for another kiss.

Magnus feels wild and out of control with desire. There’s a part of him that wants to slow this down, take his time and show Alec how much he loves him, find out what he likes -- truely likes for himself. But, he acknowledges as Alec writhes beneath him, they’re probably past that point now. In fact, they’re far closer to just coming in their pants, which at this point would be embarrassing. He reaches down for Alec’s buttons, trying to get them undone without moving his mouth from Alec’s.

Finally Alec breaks off, wiggles out of his pants, and kicks them off the bed. In one smooth movement, he reverses their positions and is making Magnus’ pants disappear almost as quickly as if Magnus had just banished them.

“You’re good at that,” Magnus manages to say before Alec lowers himself and they’re pressed together from chest to ankle.

“Prostitute,” Alec smirks. He goes for Magnus’ neck again, but Magus stops him, pushing his hands into Alec’s hair and tugging gently, making sure Alec is looking at his face.

“Not anymore,” he says.

Alec blinks, his face slack, as if he’d forgotten or maybe hadn’t thought of it that way. He doesn’t say anything, but he kisses Magnus, hard and deep, but less frantic. Magnus opens for him, happy to let Alec take the lead, even though he can’t stop his hips from moving restlessly. Alec strokes his face, his neck. He runs his hands across Magnus’s collarbone and down his chest and back up, tweaking a nipple on his way.

“Alec, fuck,” Magnus says. There’s tube of lube in his hands before he makes the conscious decision to summon it. He presses it to Alec’s chest, hoping it conveys the get inside me right the fuck now that Magnus is struggling to speak. Alec sits back and swiftly grabs the tube and pops the cap, coating two fingers, so Magnus figures he’s been understood.

Which is why he’s so surprised when Alec reaches back and presses his slick fingers inside himself.

“Shit!” Magnus can’t see exactly what Alec is doing, but he can see Alec’s arm muscles flex, can see the way Alec’s jaw goes loose and his eyes roll back, and it’s all enough to push Magnus nearly to the edge.

Alec doesn’t prep himself for long before he’s positioning himself to take Magnus in. Magnus almost protests -- that wasn’t enough, it’s going to hurt -- but Alec starts lowering himself onto Magnus’ cock and then everything is tight heat and Magnus can’t speak.

Alec sinks down slowly, his expression one of concentration rather than discomfort. He’s using the exacting muscle control that had so intrigued Magnus the first time they fucked. And while Manus hates thinking about where Alec learned it, he loves watching Alec use it for his own pleasure. When he’s slid himself as far down as he can, his eyes flutter open.

“Magnus,” he says, his voice rough. His tongue darts out to lick his lips and Magnus can’t stop the sound that leaves his mouth, or the way his hands grab onto Alec’s hips. He wants to do this at Alec’s pace, but his hips hitch involuntarily and Alec lets out a small sound, more breath than word. He wants to do this at Alec’s pace, but he also needs Alec to move now.

Thankfully Alec does just that, a slow slide up and an even slower grind down that leaves Magnus gasping and cursing. Alec does it again, and again, slowly fucking himself on Magnus’ cock and making the most amazing little sounds, hmms and ahs that make it hard for Magnus to keep still. As it is, his fingers are digging into Alec’s hips so hard they’re going to leave bruises. Alec doesn’t seem to mind; he’s finally starting to move faster.

Magnus thought this would be different, he realizes as he watches the muscles in Alec’s thighs flex. He thought Alec would be different. But Alec is the same as he’s always been, and once again it’s only Magnus’ perspective that’s changed.

“Magnus,” Alec says. There’s sweat gathering at his temples and his upper lip now and he moving faster, more erratically. His cock is hard and bobbing with every thrust. He’s so fucking gorgeous.

“That’s it, angel,” Magnus says, and he doesn’t even recognize his own voice. Alec whines.

“I need -- please --”

Magnus doesn’t need telling twice. He wraps his hand around Alec’s cock and pumps twice before Alec loses his rhythm completely and comes with an inarticulate moan. The warm drops of Alec’s release spattering his stomach and chest are too much for Magnus to handle. He finally lets himself go, fucking up into Alec with a few short hard thrusts before coming himself.

Alec collapses across his chest and Magnus holds on around his waist, pulling him as close as his orgasm stunned muscles will allow.

“Holy shit,” Alec mutters into neck. It surprises a laugh out of Magnus, but he doesn’t disagree.

Alec curls around his back after they’ve cleaned up, tangling their legs together and tucking his head into the crook of Magnus’ neck.

“What if we never leave this bed?” he mumbles against Magnus’ skin.

“Fine by me,” Magnus says. He reaches for the hand that is resting against his stomach and threads their fingers together. Alec mouths a sleepy kiss on Magnus’ neck in response.

“I love you,” Alec says, half asleep already.

“I love you too.”

Magnus falls asleep with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

The sun is shining, birds are singing, Alec is making coffee, and not even the two skeptical werewolves in his kitchen can bring down Magnus’ mood the next morning.

Alec loves him. Alec loves him. Alec loves him. He and Alec are in love.

“Magnus,” Luke says sharply.

Magnus looks up to Luke looking at him with one eyebrow raised. Across the counter, Alec is hiding a smile in his mug. Maia looks at them like they’re all crazy. She’s probably right, but Magnus wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Well, why don’t we see how those wounds are doing, hmm?” He reaches for the bandages across Luke’s chest.

“Maybe we can do this somewhere a little more private?” Luke says.

“Darling, they’ve seen it,” Magnus says.

“Magnus,” Luke says.

“Fine,” Magnus sighs. “Back to the bedroom with you.” He gets Luke seated on the bed and starts to pull away the bandages.

“Magnus, what are you doing?”

“Tending to your wounds?” Magnus says. “Saving your life?”

“I’m fine, my healing’s kicked back in. I mean with Alec.”

Magnus freezes and then tries to cover it up by busily unwrapping the bandages. “You know him,” he says.

“Of course I do. He was practically running that Institute. He’s--”

“He doesn’t want to go back,” Magnus says fiercely, pulling off the last of the bandages more forcefully than necessary. “He can’t go back. I’m sure you can understand why.” It would be impossible for Luke to miss the scent of Alec around the loft, or the way Alec is so comfortable in Magnus’ lair. And Luke, of all people, should understand why Alec feels he can’t live with the Shadowhunters.

“Are you sure about this, Magnus? According to Maryse and Robert he’s out on a long-term assignment.”

That makes Magnus pause, his hands tangled in the bandages. By the fucking -- he remembers the way Alec had told him that no one was looking for him. The way he tried to hide how much that hurt. Of course. Of course they wouldn’t want anyone to know that one of their perfect soldiers had run away. They wouldn’t want anyone to know why.

Luke is looking at him with raised eyebrows and Magnus suddenly realizes what he’s implying. “No,” he says.


“Lucian,” Magnus says. “Thank you for your concern, but that’s not what’s going on. They would never ask him to go this far, and you don’t -- you don’t know what he went through before we found each other.” Luke still looks skeptical. “If that’s what they wanted, they wouldn’t have needed to go this far. All Alec would have had to do was show up,” Magnus admits. He finally stops trying to sort out the bandages and just banishes them to the dumpster out back.

Luke’s face has softened. “Okay. Just … be careful,” he says.

Magnus barks out a humorless laugh. Be careful. Hadn’t that backfired spectacularly? “A little too late for that.”

Luke’s wounds are almost completely healed now that the alpha poison is out of his system. Magnus sends him back to the kitchen while he tidies up. Maybe it was too much to hope for, what with everything going on, that Magnus and Alec would have a few days to enjoy themselves. To figure out this new thing between them. But they haven’t even been awake for half an hour and already the outside world is knocking on their door. Telling Alec about what the Institute is saying about him isn’t even in question. He deserves to know, and Magnus wouldn’t know how to keep it from him anyway. But he hates the fact that it’s just one more thing that’s going to hurt him.

When he gets back to the kitchen it’s to see Luke and Alec engaged in a tense, low-voiced conversation. Alec’s face is set in a stubborn expression and he’s shaking his head, his grip around his coffee mug tight.

“Everything okay?” Magnus asks, deceptively light.

“Everything’s fine,” Luke says, still looking at Alec. Alec sets his mug down and walks past Luke, ignoring him completely.

“I’m going to shower,” he says. He stops in front of Magnus, cups his cheek and ducks to kiss his mouth, harder than is polite in front of company. And Magnus knows -- he knows this is about Luke, about sending a message, but he lets it get a little bit out of hand. When Alec pulls away and leaves the room, Magnus is left standing, slightly stunned. Maia whistles and Magnus let’s himself smile with all the smugness that he’s feeling. Alec loves him.

“You were saying?”

Alec doesn’t reappear until long after Luke and Maia leave.

Magnus spends the time absently tidying, which ends up being more like moving things from one surface to another, and then back again. He alternates between giddy memories of last night, and worrying about how he’s going to talk to Alec about the Institute.

When Alec does come back out, he’s agitated. He picks up a book only to put it back down again. He sits on the couch and picks up the remote, but stands back up as soon as Magnus goes to sit beside him. He ends up in the kitchen, washing everyone’s mugs, even though Magnus has never seen him wash a dish before. Magnus has magic for that, and failing magic, a dishwasher.

“Alec,” Magnus says, reaching out for his shoulder.

Alec flinches. Magnus snatches his hand back.

“Sorry,” Alec says.

“It’s okay,” Magnus says, even though he kind of wants to cry. “Are you alright? Did Luke say something?”

“No, he was fine. He was just worried about you.”

“Then what’s going on?”

“Nothing,” Alec says, but he won’t meet Magnus’ eyes. “I’m fine, really.”

“Okay,” Magnus says slowly. “I guess I’ll go take a shower then.”

“Okay,” Alec says, still scrubbing at the same mug.

Magnus retreats to the bathroom, stripping his clothes off without noticing them. He has no idea what could have happened between breakfast and now to change Alec’s demeanor so much. It must have been something Luke said. Maybe he let it slip about the Institute. Maybe he accused Alec of something.

Magnus ducks his head under the steaming hot water and closes his eyes. Alec flinched from his touch though. That’s never happened. Maybe Magnus has done something.

Maybe, he admits to himself, it’s that Alec is allowed to flinch, now. How many times has Alec accepted a touch he didn’t want? Suppressed his urge to move away? Didn’t Magnus break the contract exactly so Alec could have this reaction? So Alec won’t have to let anyone touch him if he doesn’t want it, even Magnus? Magnus can’t blame him if he needs some time. Maybe Alec is realizing he spoke too soon last night. Maybe, now that it’s sunk in a little, he’s realizing that his feelings for Magnus aren’t what he thought.

Magnus will accept that, he tells himself fiercely. Whatever Alec needs, Magnus will give it to him. Whether it be time or space or whatever. Anything. Magnus is so deep in his plans to add a bedroom with a separate entrance for Alec that he’s startled when the shower door opens.

He’s even more startled when a naked Alec steps in.

“Didn’t you already shower?” Magnus asks, and even as he says it he can hear how stupid it sounds. He still has shampoo in his hair.

“Magnus, I’m sorry,” Alec says, and he’s looking at Magnus now, but Magnus still has no idea what he’s thinking.

“You don’t need to apologize,” Magnus says.

“I just … I don’t know how to do this.” He’s clenching his fists at his side and his hair is wet and plastered to his face on one side. He looks a little ridiculous and lot miserable, and Magnus is so in love with him it hurts.

“Don’t know how to do what, angel?”

“This,” Alec says, and waves his hand between them. “I don’t -- I told you, I never did anything before I left the Institute. I don’t know how to be … in a relationship. I only know how to be a whore.”

“Alec,” Magnus reaches for his hands, slowly, giving him time to pull away. But Alec lets Magnus take his hands and soothe his thumb over the tense muscles. “That’s not true.”

“I know how to be a Shadowhunter,” Alec says. He gives a small, humorless laugh. “Fighting and fucking, that’s what I’m good at.”

“You are exceptionally good at those things,” Magnus says. “But that’s not all you are.”

“You can’t know that,” Alec says, barely audible over the noise of the shower. Then, when Magnus doesn’t reply right away he says, “I don’t know what to do.”

“Whatever you want,” Magnus says, and the look Alec gives him is so exasperated and so Alec that Magnus has to smile. It does make sense now, Magnus just isn’t used to Alec being so unsure, or at least showing it. “I’m serious. Train if you want, read books if you want, fuck me if you want. We can still watch TV at night, or go play pool, or you can tell me to fuck off because you actually hate all those things.” That gets a small smile from Alec. His hands relax a little, and Magnus folds their fingers together. Alec lets him.

“I can’t just read books and have sex all day for the rest of my life,” Alec says.

“Well you could.”


“I’m just saying--”

Alec rolls his eyes and it inexplicably makes Magnus feel better. “I’m serious. I can’t just do nothing while you take care of us both.”

Magnus pushes wet hair off of Alec’s forehead and lets his hand linger around Alec’s neck. “I want to take care of you.”

Alec leans closer and presses his free hand to Magnus’ chest. “Yeah, but I want to take care of you too.”

You are, Magnus thinks, and smiles. “I know, but you don’t have to have all the answers right away. You can take your time to decide. You could go to college, if you want. Take a roadtrip. Open your own business? Nephilim Private Eye has nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

He’s rewarded with a laugh and Alec leaning down to nose along Magnus’ cheek and drop kisses on his jaw.

“And you’ll tell me if I need to do something different with the whole uh, boyfriend thing, right?”

“Sure,” Magnus says, although he can’t imagine ever having to. “But same goes for you, okay? You have to tell me what you need.”

Alec nods. Magnus figures it’ll probably take a little time for Alec to actually do it, but that’s okay. Magnus can wait.

“If you want to be a good boyfriend, you should kiss me now,” Magnus says. Alec does almost before Magnus is finished speaking. The combination of the kiss and the hot water has Magnus practically melting.

They don’t get out of the shower for a long time.

Alec is quiet for the next few days. Not that he’s a big talker normally, but he seems lost in thought often, and restless. He trains more, and harder. He throws himself into sex with equal enthusiasm, and though Magnus knows it’s partly to get out of his own head, or maybe to cover his insecurities, he’s not complaining. He’ll let Alec work it out in his own time for a while. In the meantime he feels drunk and wrung out with Alec’s lush kisses, his hands. Magnus dreams about the way Alec’s pretty hazel eyes look up at him through thick lashes, and how Alec’s body feels pressed against his own.

They’re both a little sore and covered in bruises from too-rough hands and mouths. It’s not a pace they’ll be able to keep up, but it’s thrilling while it lasts.

They’re lounging on the floor in a nest of blankets after a particularly athletic round when the fire message shows up. There’s music playing from the record player and Alec is sprawled across Magnus’ lap, only occasionally lifting his head so that Magus can feed him bits of apple and cheese. The sun is setting, giving the room a warm glow.

Magnus grabs the fire message before it falls onto Alec’s face. He recognizes the handwriting as soon as he opens it and Alec, ever attuned to his body, sits up, his langor disappearing completely.

“There was an attack at the Jade Wolf,” Magnus explains once he’s read the message. “It was a Forsaken. Isabelle Lightwood wants me to come to the Institute to consult.”

“Iz --” Alec starts, then swallows. “Isabelle is the best forensic pathologist in New York.” It’s impossible to tell what Alec is thinking. He’d taken the news of his supposed long-term assignment quietly and hasn’t brought it up again. But Luke said Alec was practically running the Institute before he left. Magnus doesn’t find that hard to believe. He must know Isabelle fairly well, but he gives very little away, even now.

“Well, we can’t have magically enhanced Forsaken running around, so I suppose I have to go get dressed.”

Magnus takes his time dressing. It’s been a long time since he’s been to the New York Institute. He’s avoided running into the Lightwoods as much as possible, and he supposes Maryse and Robert are just as eager not to see him. In fact, being asked to consult at all is surprising, although maybe it’s young Isabelle’s influence. Magnus likes her.

Alec has put back on his sweatpants and cleaned up the food and blankets when Magnus emerges. He’s pacing the living room floor and absently rubbing at the scar on his hand.

“Everything alright?” Magnus asks. Alec makes a face at him as if to say, really? Which, he does have a point. What with Valentine being alive, and Forsaken attacking, and Magnus going to the very Institute Alec is running from for a chat.

“Magnus, I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day, about how I can do whatever I want,” Alec says. Magnus wonders briefly if now is really the time, when he’s on his way out the door and Isabelle Lightwood is waiting on him, but Alec opens up so rarely. And the Forsaken isn’t getting any deader. Probably. “And the thing is, I could do all of those things you said, but I couldn’t live with myself knowing that you and everyone back at the Institute was fighting Valentine and putting themselves at risk and I did nothing.”

Magnus closes his eyes. Of course. He shouldn’t be surprised, really. He said it himself: he can’t stop Alec from being a Shadowhunter.

“I want -- no, I need to help,” Alec finishes. “Is that -- Is that okay?”

Magnus opens his eyes again and reaches for Alec’s arm. “Darling, of course it’s okay. I’ll talk to Isabelle. It’s time we both get a little more involved.”

“You don’t have to get any more involved with the Institute, just because I am,” Alec says. “I know how you feel about Shadowhunters.”

“They’re growing on me,” Magnus says. “And you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, I won’t let you.”

Alec’s smile is small but genuine. “Thanks. I know this isn’t what you wanted--”

Magnus stops him with a finger on his lips. “What I want is for you to know you have options. And that whatever option you choose, now or later, you have my full support.” Alec blinks at him, but nods.

The Institute hasn’t changed much since Magnus was last here. There may be more digital screens in the ops center, but the chilly stone and stained glass with disapproving angels is still the same.

Isabelle meets him in the entryway, impeccably dressed in a sleek black dress under her white lab coat.

“Magnus,” she says, holding out her hand. “Thank you for coming.” Her smile is small, but her eyes are warm.

“Good to see you again, Isabelle,” Magnus says, shaking her hand. “I hear we have a Forsaken to examine?”

Isabelle nods and motions him to follow. “It’s down in my lab. Luke Garroway said that it was unlike any Forsaken he’s ever seen. We want to make sure it wasn’t made with magic.” Magnus nods. It makes sense. Valentine was always known for his experiments, and Magnus is sure that hasn’t changed. He wouldn’t put making a magically enhanced Forsaken past him. “So,” Isabelle says when they’re in the elevator, “how are you? How is -- how is everything?”

Magnus looks over at her at the uncharacteristic stutter. She isn’t looking at him, but at the numbers on the screen shifting, lower lip caught between her teeth. The question seems innocuous, but also strangely personal. Magnus can’t tell her intentions from her expression. Shadowhunters, he thinks, not as irritated as he might have been a few months ago. Stone-faced bastards.

“As well as can be expected, I suppose,” he answers before it gets awkward. “The Brooklyn warlocks are nervous. Nobody wants another uprising.” The elevator doors open and he follows Isabelle down the hallway. “How’s Clary?”

“As well as can be expected,” Isabelle says. “Here’s my lab. Shall we get started?”

Alec was right: Isabelle is brilliant. Unfortunately, after a few hours of examination, the only thing they can determine is that magic wasn’t used to make it.

Isabelle sighs and pulls off her face shield. “Well, I’ll get an initial report to Maryse and keep working on the pathology.” She shakes out her hair and twists it back up, securing it with a pen. “Thanks for your help. I’ll make sure your payment is sent promptly.”

Magnus sheds his shield and gloves, but hesitates in the doorway of the lab. “Before I go I just wanted to say,” Isabelle turns her head to him, eyebrows raised. “With Valentine on the loose and Jocelyn and Dot missing … we want to help. Any way we can. So if you need anything, just let us -- me know.”

Isabelle smiles, huge and bright. It transforms her already beautiful face into something radiant. “Thank you, Magnus. I will.”

Magnus nods and makes his way out of the Institute.

Chapter Text

“Come out on a date with me,” Magnus says over breakfast.

Alec pauses with a bite of his omelet halfway to his mouth. “Okay?” he says. “Where do you wanna go?”

Magnus doesn’t know why he was expecting more of a reaction. “I don’t know,” he says. “Somewhere special. It’s our first date, after all.”

Alec’s eyebrows dip. “We’ve had dates,” he says. “We got Ethiopian, and we went to Pandemonium.”

“Those don’t count,” Magnus says. Alec saying it out loud makes him realize how pathetic a showing he’s made. Two paltry outings. Even with Valentine showing up again, it’s not up to his standards.

“Oh,” Alec says. He’s not looking at Magnus anymore. He pokes at his plate with his fork but doesn’t take a bite.

Magnus suddenly feels like he’s made a misstep. “Our first contract-less date,” he clarifies.

“You mean it doesn’t count if you’re taking out a rent boy.”

Magnus blinks in surprise. “I mean it doesn’t count if you don’t have a choice whether or not you want to go,” he explains.

“Okay,” Alec says, and stands, taking his plate to the sink. Alec hates wasting food, so it clearly isn’t okay at all and Magnus has no idea why.

“Alec, please tell me what’s going on,” he says. Alec mumbles something to the dishes that Magnus can’t quite catch. “What was that?” Magnus asks.

“I said, it was my first date,” Alec snaps, turning around and crossing his arms over his chest. Magnus must look as confused as he feels because Alec goes on. “I told you, before I left the Institute I never dated. At all. So we went out to dinner and to the bar, and it was fun and … nice. It was nice. It was like a first date should be. So I decided it would be my first date.”

Magnus doesn’t know whether to smile because it’s sweet or cry because Alec had to decide that a fairly mundane night with someone who was paying him was the perfect first date. Magnus abandons his own breakfast to stand in front on Alec at the sink.

“Okay,” he says. “It can be our second date, then.” He brushes a thumb over Alec’s cheekbone. Alec leans into it but doesn’t uncross his arms.

“Look,” Alec says, “I get that you feel guilty, or whatever, for how we started. But I made choices. Some of them were stupid, shitty choices, but I made them and I accept the consequences, good or bad. And there were times when that was literally all I had. I regret some of them, but I don’t regret signing that contract, so I wish you didn’t regret offering it.”

“I don’t,” Magnus says.

“It feels like you do.”

Magnus takes a deep breath. He’s always considered himself good with words, but something about Alec renders his speech completely inadequate. Perhaps because he can’t remember the last time it was so important he get it right.

“I regret not being kinder,” he says finally. “I regret seeing a young man in trouble and only acting for my own gain. I … I closed off my heart a long time ago. And it seemed safer to be callous and uncaring, even if it wasn’t necessarily right. Until I met you. So I don’t regret meeting you, and I don’t regret bring you back here. Do I wish we could have met under circumstances that were less traumatic for you? Yes. But only because it means you wouldn’t have been hurt and not because I find your former profession shameful. I’ll never regret having you in my life, no matter how it happened. Hell, I’ll portal to Idris right now and shake your parents’ hands for sending you my way if it comes down to it.”

Alec snorts a small laugh and his arms loosen. Magnus pulls them apart so he can wrap one of Alec’s hands in his own. “So what do you say? Second date tonight? Somewhere romantic? You can wear that suit Cillian sent over?”

Alec rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling. “You just want me to wear that fucking suit.”

“Darling, yes,” Magnus says. “You will look stunning.” He pauses. “But we can go somewhere else if you’d prefer, somewhere more casual.”

“Nah,” Alec says. He tugs on Magnus’ hand, pulling him closer until their chests are pressed together. “But next date, I choose, okay?”

Magnus beams. “Of course.”

Alec does wear the suit, though he forgoes the tie, instead leaving the top few buttons of his shirt open. The jacket pulls a little at the shoulders and Magnus has to fix it with magic, a testament to how Alec’s filled out in the months he’s lived with Magnus. Regular meals and regular workouts have erased a gauntness that Magnus didn’t even realize was there when he first met him.

Magnus wants to go all out at the most exclusive and expensive restaurant he knows, but he pulls back, aware that Alec might be uncomfortable. Instead he reserves the chef’s table at trendy but more casual place and gets to watch Alec’s fascination with the chefs’ preparations and banter. He delights in Alec’s face as he tries new foods and wines.

As Magnus charts the minute changes in Alec’s facial expression as he tries a dish he’s unsure about he thinks, I want to do this forever, and is overwhelmed again by the depth of his feelings for Alec. Forever is no small thing when you’re immortal. But he won’t revise his thought. He does want this forever. It’s exhilarating, but terrifying too.

“Do I have something on my face?” Alec asks.

“No,” Magnus says. “I just like looking at it.”

Pink tinges Alec’s cheeks and he takes a sip of his wine as if to distract himself from what Magnus just said. Magnus is charmed, again, by the fact that Alec will do and say the filthiest things without embarrassment, but blushes over a small, and frankly not very eloquent, compliment.

They take the subway home, and Magnus slides his hand into Alec’s as they walk back to the loft. Alec looks down at their hands like he’s pleased but also surprised, almost like he’s never just held hands with anyone while walking down the street. Which, Magnus realizes, he probably hasn’t. He squeezes Alec’s hand and smiles when Alec squeezes back.

“So,” he says, holding open the front door of their building for Alec, “was that an acceptable second date?”

Alec smiles softly. “Yeah,” he says. “Thank you.”

“Thank me with a goodnight kiss,” Magnus says. Alec raises an eyebrow and leans back against the wall of the elevator.

“Play your cards right and you’ll get a lot more than that,” he says.

“Alec,” Magnus says dramatically, “do you think I’m the kind of boy who puts out on the second date?”

“Um, yes,” Alec says. Magnus sighs.

“You’re right, I am.”

Alec’s laughing when he walks out of the elevator. Magnus follows behind him, which is why he doesn’t see what makes Alec’s laughter suddenly cut off. He’s on alert immediately though, magic sparking in his palms.


“It’s okay,” Alec says. “It’s just …” He gestures and Magnus looks around Alec’s shoulder. There are Shadowhunter weapons set carefully near the door. Magnus lets the magic dissipate and watches as Alec kneels and reaches out to run his hand over the bow leaning against the wall. His face is slack with surprise and awe. The way he picks up the bow, so carefully and reverentially makes something click in Magnus’ brain. These aren’t just any weapons. They’re Alec’s weapons.

Besides the bow there’s a quiver of arrows, a stele, a full sized seraph blade and a holster for it, another seraph dagger, and a pair of fingerless gloves, well-worn and exactly big enough for Alec’s hands.

“How…” Magnus starts and trails off.

“Izzy,” Alec says. Just the way he says the nickname is full of such longing and love that Magnus has to close his eyes against the intensity of it. Magnus knew they must know each other, but Alec’s reaction implies a relationship far deeper than just coworkers. How must she have felt when Alec left all those months ago, without even his weapons to keep him safe? Magnus shies away from thinking about it too hard, because what Alec went through keeps finding new ways to break his heart.

“She wants to make sure you’re well protected,” Magnus says when he can speak again.

“Yeah,” Alec says. He’s holding the bow like he’s afraid it will disappear if he lets it go.

“Well,” Magnus says, “we should get this inside. If Isabelle left it for you I imagine you’ll be needing it soon.”

“Yeah,” Alec says again. He slings the bow over his shoulder with the unthinking ease of someone who’s done it hundreds of times. Thousands of times. Magnus watches Alec gather the rest of his weapons and has the sinking feeling that he’s in over his head.

Magnus sets up some targets on the roof and Alec spends the next few days practicing his archery. He insists he’s rusty, though Magnus wouldn’t be able to tell from the way he hits bullseye after bullseye. It’s only after the second day of practice that he seems satisfied.

In the evening he fills each red-fletched arrow with runes. He’s calm but serious and Magnus can easily imagine him running an Institute, leading teams of Shadowhunters to take out demons. With a possible battle to fight, his restlessness has dissipated. Magnus’, meanwhile, has increased, and he’s relieved to get a call from Isabelle on the third night after finding the weapons.

“If you’re serious about helping, we could use some,” Isabelle says.

“Of course I’m serious,” Magnus says. On the sofa, Alec perks up, back straightening, but he doesn’t stand or some closer to hear Isabelle’s voice, despite how much he looks like he wants to.

“Do you know Renwick’s? It’s an old smallpox hospital on an island in the East River.”

“I know it,” Magnus says.

“Valentine wants to make a trade. Jocelyn for the Cup.” That means the Shadowhunters actually have the Cup, which is good. A trade on the other hand…

“And you’re going to give it to him?” Magnus asks.

“Of course not,” Isabelle says. “But this is the first time he’s put himself out in the open, and the first time we have a definite location for Jocelyn.”

“Sounds like a trap to me.”

“Of course it’s a trap,” Isabelle huffs. “Jace and I went to do recon and the place is crawling with demons. Obviously he wants to lure us into using the Cup to control the demons.” Well it’s good to hear that the Shadowhunters aren’t entirely stupid. “That’s why we need some backup that Valentine doesn’t know about. Luke and his pack are willing to help, but Valentine will be anticipating that. I don’t think he’ll be able to anticipate you.”

It’s strange. Isabelle clearly knows Alec is here, and now Magnus knows that she knows. But neither of them bring it up.

“What do you need?”

“Help taking out the demons. And I want to keep you in reserve for if something goes wrong with Valentine. Stay out of sight until absolutely necessary.”

“We can do that,” Magnus says.

“Okay. Midnight tonight. Remember, stay out of sight.” She hangs up.

“Tonight?” Alec asks.

Magnus nods. “Gear up, Shadowhunter. We’ve got demons to kill.”

They portal to edge of the island and walk to Renwick’s to stay undetected.

Alec is a dark shadow among the trees; dressed in all black gear and with his soundless rune activated, the back of his neck and the fletching on his arrows are the only things Magnus can see. Seeing Alec like this, it’s hard to believe that he’s spent almost a year not being a Shadowhunter. He looks utterly right: focused and sure. He seems suddenly far away from Magnus, even though Magnus could reach out and touch him if he needed.

Alec stops when the trees are replaced by broken concrete and weeds. Magnus steps up beside him and looks across to the entrance. The are people there, but it’s too dark to see details. The glow of seraph blades does more to obscure what’s going on, flashing and moving like the strobes at Pandemonium.

“I don’t see any demons,” Alec murmurs. Magnus looks. He can’t see them, but he can feel them on the edge of his senses.

“They’re there,” he says. “Valentine wants them to go in with their guards down.”

“Izzy and Jace are smarter than that,” Alec says. “Look, there they go.”

Magnus strains his eyes to make out what’s going on. There, past the fighting, three dark forms slip through the front doors. One has bright red hair. As his eyes adjust, he can see that the Shadowhunters are Circle members and they’re fighting a portion of Luke’s pack, keeping the werewolves from helping Clary and Jocelyn.

“Let’s go,” Alec says, and moves past the tree line, jogging nimbly over the uneven ground. Occupied with the wolves, the Circle members don’t notice Alec and Magnus until Alec stops, and quicker than Magnus can track, nocks an arrow and shoots a man about to gut Maia with a sword. The Circle member drops, an arrow in his eye, and Maia turns to flash them a quick grin before diving back into the fray.

That’s the only one they get for free.

Alec shoulders his bow and pulls his seraph blade from this thigh holster. Magnus pulls magic to his palms, red and crackling. They fight well together, Magnus staying a little behind Alec and protecting his weaker flank. Between them and the pack, it doesn’t take long for the last Circle member to fall under Luke’s claws.

Luke raises his eyebrows. “Nice of you guys to drop by,” he says.

“We were in the neighborhood,” Magnus says. Alec sheathes his seraph blade and says nothing.

“Alec,” Luke says. “Good to see you.”

Alec looks surprised, but he nods. He turns to the doors. “I guess we should--” he’s interrupted by an booming from deep within the building and an eerie howl, followed by the skittering of demon claws on concrete.

“There they are,” Magnus says.

Luke’s face hardens. “Looks like Valentine’s sprung his trap.”

“He’s not expecting us,” Alec says. “If we can make it to Izzy and Jace, we can disrupt whatever he has planned.”

“Yeah, but getting there is the problem,” Maia says, stepping up beside them. They can see the glow of demon eyes in the dark.

“I can help with that,” Magnus says.

“Don’t over- exert yourself,” Alec says. “We don’t know what will be waiting for us when we get to Valentine.”

“I’ll be fine, Alexander,” Magnus says, but Alec doesn’t look reassured. He absently rubs at his hip, where his parabatai rune sits.

“If we’re going we need to go,” he says.

“I’ve been ready,” Maia says. Her eyes glow green briefly and she shifts into her wolf form. Around them other pack members do the same.

“We’ll try to clear a path,” Luke says.

“We’ve got your back,” Alec says. He unslings his bow from his shoulder.

In battle, Magnus loses track of time. There are only the demons in front of him and Alec beside him. He only vaguely hears the growl of the wolves or notices where they’re going as they fight their way through the halls. He tries to clear multiple demons at a time while Alec picks off the ones that get through with his arrows, but eventually they both have to deal with closer quarters.

The demons are thicker here, at a junction of sever hallways and in front of a closed set of double doors. Within minutes they’re surrounded and the numbers aren’t on their side. Despite what Alec said about not over exerting himself, at this rate they won’t make it to Valentine for it to matter. Magnus gathers himself.

“Everybody down!” he yells, hopefully loud enough to be heard over the din. By his side, Alec drops immediately and Magnus let loose.

A blast of pure red energy radiates out from Magnus, vaporizing all the demons close to him in an instant, leaving nothing but ichor behind.

The demons that are still left pause. Magnus bares his teeth at them. He knows the glamour on his eyes is down and he’s glowing faintly red.

The demons flee.

Magnus waits until the last of them are out of sight before he lets himself stumble. Alec catches him and keeps him upright. Magnus takes a second to lean into him, absorbing his warmth.

“I thought I said not to over-exert yourself,” Alec murmurs into his hair.

“I got impatient,” Magnus says, the words muffled by Alec’s shoulder.

“Are you okay? Do you need my strength?”

Magnus shakes his head. “I just need a minute. I’ll be fine.”

“If the demons ran, at least Valentine doesn’t have the Cup,” Luke says.

“Did it seem like they were protecting this room?” Maia asks. She and Luke exchange a look and Luke steps up to the doors. Magnus straightens. Alec steps in front of him, hand on the hilt of his seraph blade.

The doors don’t budge.

“This is definitely it,” Luke says.

“Great, but how do we get in?” Alec asks.

Magnus steps to the door and raises his hands.

“Magnus,” Alec says.

“Just going to take a look,” Magnus assures him. “It’ll barely take anything out of me at all.”

Alec doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t say anything else, so Magnus goes ahead and creates a window so they can see into the room. They can see, but they can’t hear, but what they can see is bad enough. Clary, Isabelle, and Jace are there, and so is Valentine, backed up by ten or so Circle members.

“Jocelyn,” Luke whispers, and Magnus realizes that Jocelyn is there, inside the glowing green forcefield at Valentine’s side. That can’t be good.

“There,” Alec says, and points. Magnus follows the direction of his finger up past the Shadowhunters to some sort of upper gallery with a low railing. “There’s gotta be another entrance up there. We passed a staircase a few on our way in. I can find my way from there.”

Magnus close the window with a wave of his hands. “I’m coming with you,” he says. Alec opens his mouth to argue, but Magnus cuts him off. “I told you, I won’t let you do this alone.” He doesn’t give Alec time to think of a reason why he should stay. He turns to Luke. “Be ready to come in when I open the door.”

Luke nods. “Be careful. Both of you.”

Magnus has a good sense of direction, but Alec seems to have a map in his head and has no trouble navigating the second floor or Renwick’s back to their destination. As they get closer, they slow, creeping carefully in case Valentine left guards, but there are none. Alec eases the door open and slips in soundlessly, dropping to a low crouch as he approches the railing. Magnus follows him.

“--a family again,” Valentine is saying.

“You may be my father, but you’re not my family,” Clary’s voice rings out. Magnus crawls up to the railing besides Alec and looks down on the scene. If Valentine looked up, he’d be able to see them and their cover would be blown. But he doesn’t look up.

“Oh, but I am. Just give me the cup, Clarissa,” Valentine says, “and I promise you, you’ll have your mother back.”
Clary hesitantly reaches into her bag and pulls out a shining cup draped in jewels.

Alec pulls an arrow from his quiver but doesn’t put it to his bow.

“Clary, don’t give it to him,” Isabelle says. “There’s no guarantee he give you your mom back.”

“But there’s a chance,” Valentine says. “Which is more than you have if you don’t give it to me.”

“I’m sorry, Izzy,” Clary says, and darts forward, heedless of Isabelle and Jace’s shouts. When the Cup is in Valentine’s hands he motions his followers back, allowing Clary to go to her mother’s side.

“Mom? Mom wake up! It’s me!” When nothing happens Clary glares at Valentine, tears in her eyes. “What did you to her? This wasn’t the deal!”

“Me?” Valentine says. “Nothing. She put herself in this position. I said you could have your mother, I didn’t say she’d be awake. Now,” he smiles and holds the Cup out. “Demons! Come to me! Destroy my enemies!”

There is silence.

“Demons!” Valentine shouts louder. “Come to me!” He whirls on Clary who’s already pulled Jocelyn back toward Isabelle and Jace. “What’s going on?”

“You didn’t honestly think we’d give you the Mortal Cup, did you?” Isabelle says, disdain dripping from her voice. Valentine looks back at the cup in his hand and watches the glamour dissolve until he’s holding nothing but a novelty coffee mug.

Valentine throws the mug to floor and doesn’t flinch when it smashes. “Take them,” he tells his followers. “We’re leaving.”

“I don’t think so,” Isabelle says and steps in front of Clary.

A Circle member leaps at her and drops dead with one of Alec’s arrows in his throat.

Now Valentine and his minions look Magnus and Alec’s way. But Isabelle and Jace don’t. They take the momentary distraction to attack with whip and seraph blade.

“Now would be a good time for some help,” Alec says, firing another arrow down into the fray.

Magnus nods. A quick spell undoes the locking rune on the door and another one blasts them open. Werewolves pour into the room and Magnus notices that Valentine suddenly doesn’t look so confident.

“Shit,” Alec hisses, and before Magnus has a chance to ask, Alec shoulders his bow and and vaults over the railing, landing solidly on the floor below. He darts over to where three of Valentine’s minions have ganged up on Jace. His seraph blade flashes, cutting down one of them before they realize he’s there. He and Jace take on the other two, fighting together smoothly with the enhanced awareness that only parabatai share.

The glow of a portal distracts Magnus from watching Alec. Valentine has opened one and he takes one last look over the fight before stepping toward it. “Fuck,” Magnus mutters and reaches out with his magic to try and close the portal before Valentine can go through. But the threads of the portal resist his grip and slip away from him, and before he can figure out why Valentine is through and the portal closes.

There is silence in the room. Magnus refocuses on the fight and realizes that it’s already over. The Circle member are dead and everyone is looking around as if they can’t believe there aren’t more.

“Alec!” Isabelle breaks the silence. She crashes into Alec and he catches her, enfolding her in a hug and clutching at the leather of her jacket tightly. Seeing them right next to each other, it’s impossible to deny they’re siblings, and Magnus feels stupid for not realizing it earlier. Isabelle turns her face into Alec’s neck and Alec strokes her hair gently, the relief on his face visible even from far away.

Jace turns and wraps his arms around both of them, burying his head in Alec’s shoulder. Magnus remembers the flash of the adolescent boy in Jace’s memory -- of Alec -- pledging his life to be forever entwined with his parabatai.

The three of them stand there, holding each other, completely oblivious to anything else in the room. Isabelle lifts her head and there are tears on her cheeks. She’s speaking into Alec’s ear, and Alec shakes his head but doesn’t loosen his grip on Isabelle or Jace. Magnus can’t hear what she’s saying, but he can see her lips move around the words come home, please come home.

Magnus feels tears prick his own eyes and he blinks them back.

He was so wrong when he told Luke that Alec didn’t want to go home. Of course Alec wants to go home. He just never thought that he could.

Nobody notices the portal form next to Magnus. He looks down at the Lightwoods, still clutching each other like they plan on never letting go. Alec has a chance now. A chance to live the life he was meant to, a chance to make a choice -- a real choice. And Magnus loves him, so Magnus will let him. Even if the choice isn’t Magnus.

Magnus steps through the portal and into his empty loft.

tonight we’re gonna have a really good time
but i wanna go to heaven on the day i die

Chapter Text

part three
ring ring ring goes the telephone
tell my little lamb that i’m on my way home

Magnus waits for Alec to call, but he doesn’t.

On the third day that Alec doesn’t call, Magnus gets incredibly drunk, passes out on the couch, and wakes up with his worst hangover in six decades.

Two hours into his reality TV marathon, during which he’s only moved to summon himself a blanket and some tea, his phone rings. He sits up so fast the room tilts sideways and he has to swallow back nausea before he can pick up his phone. But the name on the caller ID isn’t Alec’s, it’s Ragnor’s. Magnus drops the phone into his blanket nest and lays back down.

It’s out of the ordinary for Ragnor to call, but Magnus can’t deal with talking to him right now. Ragnor, who told Magnus it was a bad idea to take Alec in. Who would laugh in Magnus’ face when he learned Magnus has fallen in love with Maryse Lightwood’s son.

Magnus isn’t in the mood for I Told You So’s.

He falls into an uneasy, hungover sleep and wakes up when the late afternoon sun hits his eyes. He feels loads better -- almost able to eat something without it coming back up, even. When he sits up his phone tumbles from the blankets and onto the floor. He reaches down -- carefully -- to pick it up and is greeted by a screen full of text messages from Ragnor. Magnus doesn’t think Ragnor has ever texted him before.


I’m coming to your godforsaken city. Pick up your phone.

Don’t be petty, Magnus. Call me. You owe me dinner.

Magnus, what are you doing?

At the New York Institute. Just had a very strange conversation with Alec Lightwood, of all people. I think he was trying to ask about you. I thought you were going to install some sort of rentboy to

Magnus you didn’t.

Please tell me you didn’t.

My dear friend, what have you gotten yourself into?

Magnus sighs and puts his phone down without answering any of the messages. He should talk to Ragnor. He will. But later, when it doesn’t hurt so much.

He summons a meal directly to his coffee table and doesn’t bother leaving the couch to eat it. The urge to call Ragnor and interrogate him about Alec is almost overwhelming. How did Alec look? Was he okay? Did it seem like he missed Magnus? But Magnus doesn’t call, because he’s afraid of the answers. He wants Alec to be happy and healthy, but he also doesn’t want to hear that Alec is perfectly happy now, without Magnus.

And he must be, because he hasn’t come back, or even called.

Magnus imagines that now that Alec is back with his family, his months on the street must seem like a bad dream. It’s understandable that he wants to put distance between them and himself. Magnus probably reminds him of things he’d rather forget. Magnus doesn’t blame him, but he can’t help wishing it was different.

On the seventh day that Alec doesn’t call, Magnus accepts that he isn’t going to.

He wanted Alec to be free to make a choice, and now that he has, Magnus has to accept it. He told Alec that he would support him no matter what he decided to do and that’s still true, even if Alec has decided to do it without Magnus.

Magnus walks into Alec’s closet and looks around. Even with all the shopping they did, it’s still only half full. Magnus reaches out and runs his hand over the sleeve of the green cashmere sweater. It’s Alec’s favorite, even if he’d never say so.

Alec must have clothing at the Institute, but who knows if it even still fits. And Alec probably won’t go shopping for himself. And these clothes are his. They’re just going to waste sitting here, with Alec across the city. In one motion, the closet is emptied with the clothes packed neatly into boxes at Magnus’ feet. He sends them to the entryway of the Institute with another motion. Maybe Alec won’t want them, but he can decide, either way.

Magnus steps out of the closet and moves to banish it too, then stops. He thinks about his loft without Alec’s closet. Without his training room and archery targets. His hands drop back to his sides. That can wait for another day.

Magnus is restless for the rest of the afternoon. He tries unsuccessfully to work on some translations, and not even TV can hold his interest. He just can’t get himself to focus. The loft is too quiet. He turns on some music, but it only annoys him and he turns it off after one song.

It isn’t the quiet that’s bothers him, he admits to himself as he picks at dinner. Alec had never made a lot of noise anyway. It’s the emptiness. Magnus had gotten used to not being alone, to feeling the warmth of another living presence. To be all by himself again, it’s lonely.

Maybe he should get a cat. There are always ferals in the alley behind the building, he could take one in. A black one, maybe.

Yes, says the acid voice in his head that always sounds like Ragnor, and will you name it Alec as well?

Magnus sighs and banishes his dinner. This is pathetic. He feels pathetic. He hasn’t left his loft for days. He needs to get out and stop wallowing. He considers a trip to Pandemonium, but discards the idea immediately. He’s not up for Pandemonium yet. But he hasn’t seen Maia since Renwick’s, and The Hunter’s Moon is always a good place for a quiet drink.

As always, making even a small decision makes Magnus feel better. Well, not better, but steadier. He dresses and takes a cab to The Hunter’s Moon, looking forward this first small step, not in getting over Alec, but in coming to terms with his absence.

When Maia sees him walk up to the bar she hurries over and says, “Oh, thank God you’re here.”

Magnus raises his eyebrows. Sure, he’s a good tipper but her night can’t be going that badly. Maia continues before he can ask what’s going on. “Your boy over there is about to get his ass beat.”

That doesn’t make anymore sense. “My boy?” Magnus asks.

Maia rolls her eyes. “Alec? Tall, dark, and broody Shadowhunter who just spent the last two hours hustling Russell and Tatro out of their money?”

Magnus’ head whips around before his brain has even caught up with what Maia is saying. Sure enough, there in the back is Alec, leaning indolently on a pool cue and seemingly unaware that the two angry werewolves in front of him are losing their patience. But Magnus knows that Alec is never unaware, especially when he looks like that.

“I mean, I know he’s all badass and stuff,” Maia is saying, “but he’s kinda drunk, so…”

Magnus turns back to Maia. “What?” he says faintly.

“He came in a few hours ago and started drinking like he was on a mission or something. I tried to tell Russell not to play with him, but he didn’t listen.”

Magnus finds his gaze pulled back to Alec as Maia speaks, like his brain is trying to make up for seven days of not seeing him. Angel, but he looks good.

“As amusing as it would be to see who actually wins that one, I don’t really want to be cleaning it up tonight.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Magnus says, not taking his eyes from Alec.

By the time he makes it back to the pool table, the werewolves are circling to surround Alec, and Alec still looks bored out of his mind: a calculated expression meant to rile his opponents up even more. This close Magnus can see purple shadows under his eyes and he’s abruptly reminded that going home might not have been all sunshine and roses for Alec.

One on the werewolves growls and Magnus swiftly steps up beside Alec.

“Gentlemen,” he says. “Is there a problem here?” He lets a trickle of orange fire crackle along his fingertips and watches the werewolves’ confidence fail now that the odds seem more even. They exchange a look and apparently decide that however much money they lost it’s not worth taking on a Shadowhunter and the High Warlock.

“No problem,” Russell or Tatro says. He holds up his hands and backs away, and they both retreat to the bar and Maia’s unsympathetic mercy.

Magnus watches them go with satisfaction which is broken by the clatter of a pool cue being thrown onto the table.

“What the fuck, Magnus,” Alec growls.


Alec steps back and crosses his arms over his chest. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

There’s nothing indolent or drunk about Alec’s demeanor now, and Magnus realizes his hustle must have started the minute he walked in the door. Maia underestimated him. Magnus underestimated him. He feels suddenly unsure and wrongfooted. “Stopping two very large werewolves from using you as a punching bag?”

“I can take care of myself,” Alec snaps and brushes past Magnus to the back door.

“Of course you can,” Magnus says as he steps after him. “Wait, Alec.”

Magnus has no idea what’s going on. He’s accepted that Alec’s chosen not to be with him, but Alec is angry with him, and Magnus has no idea why. He follows Alec out into the crisp air, the neon lights making the alley glow garishly pink and yellow. Alec is marching toward the street, his long legs making it difficult for even Magnus to keep up.

“Alec, what’s wrong?”

Alec spins on his heels and throws his arms out. “What do you care?”


“You don’t give a fuck about me, so leave me alone.”

Alec turns to leave, but Magnus darts forward before he can. Normally if Alec asked Magnus to leave him alone Magnus would do it, unwilling to violate Alec’s need for space. But they seem to be having an enormous misunderstanding and Magnus can’t -- he just can’t let Alec walk away thinking that Magnus doesn’t care for him.

“Wait, Alec,” Magnus says, grabbing onto Alec’s arm. Alec jerks it out of Magnus’ grasp, but he doesn’t walk away. “Of course I care about you. I lo--”

“Don’t!” Alec steps back, his shout echoing in the empty alley. He sucks in a breath, then lets it out noisily. Magnus is too surprised to speak, and eventually Alec continues. “Maybe you thought you loved me, back before you knew I was a Lightwood.”

“Alec, I don’t --” Magnus starts to say, but Alec talks right over him.

“Because being a whore you can get past, but being a Lightwood? No way --”

“Alec!” Alec stops talking to glare mulishly at Magnus. “I don’t care that you’re a Lightwood. Why would I care?”

“You said you never met a Lightwood worth anything. Guess that includes me too.”

Magnus closes his eyes and curses himself for an idiot. He forgot that he mentioned his problems with Lightwoods to Alec. How must Alec have felt, listening to him disparage his sister, his brother, him? He opens his eyes and meets Alec’s gaze, willing him to believe what Magnus is about to say.

“Listen, I’m sorry I said that. It’s true that I’ve never gotten along with your parents, but I was wrong to put that on you or Isabelle. And I don’t -- I don’t care who your parents are, Alexander. I love you. You’re worth everything to me.”

Alec expression cracks, just a little, before hardening again.

“Then why did you just leave?” His voice trembles, barely noticeable, but enough for Magnus to hear.

Magnus resists the urge to close his eyes and berate himself again. Clearly, it’s not doing the job. While Magnus was waiting for Alec to call him all week, Alec had been thinking that Magnus rejected him. It’s unacceptable and must be fixed immediately.

“I’m sorry,” Magnus says again. “I just … I saw you with Isabelle and Jace, and I thought you deserved a chance to go home, if you wanted it. I wanted you to be able to make a choice, without feeling like you owe me anything.”

“And you thought the best way to do that was by leaving without a word? And not calling, or texting, or contacting me at all? You said I would have your support no matter what and then you just bailed. What was I supposed to think?”

“I didn’t mean to make it seem like I abandoned you,” Magnus says. “It was just, a lot happened in a short amount of time and it seemed like you wanted to go with your siblings. Aren’t you happy to be with them again?”

Alec sighs and his shoulders drop from around his ear, just a little. “I was, but …” he looks past Magnus, his jaw tight. “It’s too much. I can’t … Everything’s weird there.”

Magnus wants to ask what he means by that, but Alec speaks first.

“We really need to talk about you making decisions for me without talking to me,” Alec says. “Because you can’t just make unilateral decisions about us without even asking me. That can’t be how this works.”

Magnus freezes, and something in his stomach that’s been coiled tight for a week relaxes. Alec is talking about their relationship in the future. It means they have one. “I know,” Magnus says, gratefulness clogging his throat. “I won’t.” Even tonight, Magnus realizes, he stepped in when Alec probably didn’t really need his help. He can’t be sorry about saving Maia the headache, but he gets what Alec is asking. They need to be equals, or Magnus might as well still be paying him.

“I love you, Magnus,” Alec says, and despite the context it makes Magnus outrageously happy to hear him say it. “But you have to trust me to make my own decisions. It can’t just be you taking care of the poor, broken rentboy, okay?”

“You’re not broken,” Magnus says.

“I know,” Alec says, meeting Magnus’ eyes frankly. “So stop treating me like I am.”

Magnus nods and watches Alec’s face relax, his shoulders loosen. Alec steps closer to Magnus, so close they’re almost touching. Magnus takes a chance and reaches out to brush his thumb along Alec’s cheek.

“I never thought you were broken,” Magnus says, just to be clear. Alec closes his eyes and turns his face into Magnus’ hand.

“I know,” he says.

Then Alec opens his eyes and ducks his head, pressing his mouth against Magnus’. Magnus moves his hand from Alec’s cheek to his his jaw, his fingers rubbing against the stubble there. Magnus smiles into Alec’s mouth when Alec walks Magnus backward until he’s pressed up against the wall.

Alec pulls back and smiles the feral smile that never fails to make Magnus’ knees weak. He ducks down again, kissing Magnus harder and Magnus takes it and opens his mouth for Alec’s tongue, his hands grabbing onto Alec’s shoulders and clinging, so relieved to have Alec against him again he can hardly think. He chases Alec’s tongue with his own, desperate for the warmth of his mouth. He moans into Alec’s mouth and moans again when Alec runs one hand down over his waist and hip to underneath his thigh, pulling up so that Magnus’ knee is hooked around Alec’s hip. The position lets Alec slide even closer and Magnus has to pull away from Alec’s mouth so he can gasp for air.

“So,” he gasps as Alec sucks a bruise onto his throat. “That fight’s done? We can just -- oh,” he he loses his line of thought when Alec nips at the bruise he just made.

“Yeah,” Alec says, and kisses Magnus again, pressing him harder into the wall. Magnus needs more. He tries to urge Alec closer with his leg and is rewarded by Alec’s hips jerking forward.

“More,” Magnus says.

Alec’s hand drops to Magnus’ other thigh. “Come on,” Alec says into the skin below Magnus’ ear. “I’ve got you.”

Magnus wastes no more time wrapping his other leg around Alec’s waist so that the wall and Alec’s strength are the only things holding him up.

“Oh, angel,” he groans, using the leverage he has now to hitch his hips against Alec’s, and then again and again. He wants Alec to fuck him like this, hard against the wall, in this alley where anyone could see them. He’s searching for the concentration to banish their pants if nothing else, but he keeps being distracted by Alec’s hands on his ass, and Alec’s mouth sucking at his earlobe, and Alec’s hard cock getting harder as Magnus shamelessly rubs himself against it.

“Magnus,” Alec says, and he sounds wrecked, exactly how Magnus feels. He bites at Magnus’ jaw and Magnus bangs his head against the wall, and barely notices the pain in his rush to pull himself against Alec faster, harder. “Magnus,” Alec says again, “take me home.”

Home. The word penetrates through the lust fogging Magnus’ brain. Home, with Alec. Magnus manages to pry one hand from Alec’s back and hold it out to form a portal beside them. Then he kisses Alec again because Alec wants to go home and Magnus can’t not.

Alec grunts as he shifts to take Magnus’ full weight, then tips them sideways through the portal. They tumble onto the floor beside the bed. Alec somehow manages to turn them so he ends up on the bottom, taking the brunt of their fall. Only Magnus pulling back at the last second saves them from knocking each other’s teeth out.

“Are you okay?” Magnus asks.

“Yeah,” Alec says, already pulling Magnus back down for another kiss that becomes another, and then another.

Alec pulls at Magnus’ shirt, and Magnus sits up long enough to pull it off and then pulls Alec up so he can do the same. The warmth of Alec’s bare chest against his is a revelation. He can’t believe that two hours ago he was facing a future of never having this again. Just the thought of it drives him to kiss Alec harder, to push him back down to the floor and reach for the fastenings of his jeans. He moves to sit between Alec’s thighs, pulling Alec’s jeans and boxers down just far enough for his cock to spring free before bending down and licking a stripe from root to tip.

“Fuck,” Alec groans. His hand slides through Magnus’ hair and cups the back of his head. Magnus takes the head into his mouth and sucks gently. “Yeah,” Alec says, his hand gently urging Magnus down, to take him deeper. “That’s it, suck me.” And Magnus wants Alec to have whatever he wants, so he does.

He loves teasing Alec like this, bringing him to the edge over and over again, but he doesn’t have the patience for that now. Now he just wants Alec deep in his mouth until he can’t taste anything else, can’t think of anything else. It’s probably the sloppiest blowjob he’s given in a century, but he doesn’t care because Alec is moaning and clenching his hands in Magnus’ hair.

He tastes the salt of Alec’s pre-come and is imagining him shooting down Magnus’ throat when Alec says, “Wait,” and uses his grip on Magnus’ hair to pull him off.

Magnus groans in frustration and presses down on his erection with the heel of his palm. “Alexander,” he grits out.

“Come here,” Alec says, and tugs on Magnus’ hair.

Fuck. He lets himself be pulled back to Alec’s mouth. He’s too turned on to lose himself in Alec’s kisses, but too aware of how close he came to losing Alec to want to pull away. He holds himself taught, not letting himself grind against Alec like he wants to, cautious of how his rough jeans would feel against Alec’s naked dick.

“Alec, please,” he moans. Before he can say anything else Alec twists his hips and flips them over. He makes quick work of his boots and jeans, then of Magnus’, and Magnus has never been more grateful to be dating a former prostitute. Then Alec is sliding back up his his body and biting at Magnus’ lower lip.

“Yes,” Magnus says. He finally lets himself grind up for the friction he needs. Alec pulls his upper body back a little and watches him, one thumb rubbing over Magnus’ nipple. “Oh fuck, Alexander.”

Alec smirks down at him. “You like?”

“Yeah.” Magnus tightens his arms around Alec’s neck.

“You wanna come like this, or do you want me to fuck you?”

Holy Hell. Magnus didn’t think it was possible to be more turned on, but the casual way Alec asks makes another shot of lust shiver down Magnus’ spine.

“Fuck me,” he says, already starting to unravel a little bit. “Fuck me.”

Alec kisses him quickly. “Lube?” Magnus summons the lube to his hand and presses it to Alec’s chest.

“More,” Magnus moans when Alec presses one finger inside him, excruciatingly slowly.

“You’re greedy tonight,” Alec says.

“I missed you,” he says without thinking. Alec’s finger stills. Magnus blinks his eyes open to find Alec looking down at him softly.

“I missed you too,” Alec says with a small smile. Magnus smiles back. Then Alec’s finger twitches and the moment dissolves.

“If you missed me, then fuck me,” Magnus grits out. Alec steadfastly refuses to move his finger faster or add another one.

“We could have been doing this all week, if you’d just talked to me,” Alec says. “I’ll go as slow as I like.”

If this is punishment, it’s one of the more deliciously agonizing punishments Magnus has ever endured. Sweat beads on Magnus’ skin and drips down his temples as Alec works him open slowly. He holds his knees against his chest, his nails digging into his skin but unable to loosen his grip. Only when Magnus is shivering wreck does Alec enter him, still so slowly.

When Alec is fully inside him he exhales a soft groan and Magnus notices the sweat at his hairline and the tension in his jaw from holding back. Magnus reaches up for a handful of Alec’s hair, lets his thumb linger over the shell of Alec’s ear.

“Alexander,” he whispers. Alec trembles slightly and bites his lower lip, but holds himself still, so deep and perfect inside Magnus. “Come on. Let go, angel.”

Alec gives one small, shallow thrust and the dam breaks.

Fuck,” Magnus whines before he loses the ability to speak altogether. Alec fucks him hard and deep and exactly how Magnus needs it. When he starts to lose rhythm slightly -- the only sign that he’s losing control -- he wraps his hand hand around Magnus’ cock and jerks him in perfect time to his thrusts. It doesn’t take long for Magnus to come after that, his vision whiting out at the edges. Across the room there’s the crack of another light lost to his rogue magic.

Magnus readjusts his grip on Alec’s hair, pulling hard. Alec doesn’t seem to mind. He whines low in his throat, the tendons of his neck standing out. “Come on, Alexander,” Magnus whispers.

“Fuck, Magnus,” Alec says. His hips stutter once, twice, and then he comes.

Only after Alec eases out of him and collapses on the floor beside him does Magnus notice the ache in his thighs and the burning on his back from the rug. “Ow,” he says.

Alec chuckles into his shoulder. “I guess we could have used the bed. It is right there.”

“Mistakes were made,” Magnus says dramatically, “but I don’t regret them.”

Alec looks up at him through his lashes and smiles. He really is the most beautiful creature. “Yeah,” he says. “Me neither.”

They do eventually make it to the bed.

Alec rubs an ointment Magnus invented for exactly this purpose back in 1923 into his back with warm, deft hands. Magnus nearly melts into the duvet. The only thing keeping him from falling into a blissed out sleep is the slight tension he still feels from Alec. When Alec’s hands slow and stop, Magnus lifts his head and turns to look at him. Alec’s sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, his lower lip between his teeth, and looking slightly lost.

“What is it, angel?” Magnus asks. He sits up to face Alec.

“Do you … do you want me to stay at the Institute?”

“Only if you want to,” Magnus says.

Alec huffs out a frustrated sigh. “You sent all my clothes there.”

“They’re yours,” Magnus says. “You should have them, wherever you decide to stay. I would love it if you decided to live here. I’ve been … I’ve been lonely without you.” He swallows around how hard it is to say, even though he knows Alec needs to hear it. “But if you want to stay with your family, that’s okay too. You’ll still have me, whatever you decide.” Alec doesn’t say anything, so Magnus continues. “You said it was weird there. Weird how?”

Alec sighs again. “I don’t know. Everyone treats me differently. Like if they say the wrong thing I’ll leave again. Jace and Izzy want to know where I was. I don’t blame them, I’d want to know too, but I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want them to know what I was doing, even though I know it’s going to come up sooner or later. And Jace … he felt things, through our parabatai bond, and he wants me to explain them but …”

“There’s no shame in doing what you had to do to survive,” Magnus says. He reaches out to rest a hand over Alec’s knee.

“Not to you,” Alec says, rolling his eyes, “but do you really think my family will feel the same way?”

“I can’t believe that Jace or Isabelle would care. They love you very much.”

Alec picks up Magnus’ hand and strokes his fingers, fiddles with his rings. “I notice that you didn’t mention my parents.”

Magnus curls his fingers around Alec’s. “How are things with them?” he asks instead of saying what they both know to be true.

Alec snorts. “My dad hasn’t even bothered to come back from Idris. And my mom … I don’t know. She seems genuinely happy I’m back, and she says she doesn’t care anymore, about the gay thing, but I don’t know how long that’ll last. And she either hovers or treats me like nothing happened. Like I’m still her perfect son who always follows the rules and is going to take over the Institute one day.”

“Alec, there’s no reason you can’t run the Institute one day. You’d be great at it. Luke said you were basically running it already.”

“Magnus,” Alec says, “I’m never going to be the head of the Institute. I took myself out of the running for that position the first time I got down on my knees for a Downworlder behind Pandemonium.”

Magnus closes his eyes for a long moment. Of course. As far as the Clave is concerned, Alec’s debased himself in the worst possible way. And even if they didn’t know about it, the possibility of Alec meeting a former john makes negotiating with the Downworld himself impossible.

“I don’t even want it anymore,” Alec continues. “I just … it used to be the only thing I wanted, you know? I was willing to give up so much to have it. But things have changed. I’ve changed. I can’t just follow the Clave blindly anymore. Not when I know how full of shit they are.”

“That’s not a bad thing,” Magnus says.

“I know,” Alec says. “I guess, I just wanted to go home for so long, and now that I’m there…”

“It’s not the same,” Magnus finishes for him.

“Yeah,” Alec says. “Pretty stupid to think it would be, huh?”

“Nothing about you is stupid,” Magnus says. It makes Alec smile, which sends a zing of pride through Magnus. He’ll never tire of making Alec smile.

“I still want to be a Shadowhunter, but I want to stay here,” Alec says. “I love my family, but it’s too much there. They don’t understand. And I miss it here. I miss you.”

Magnus tries to clamp down on the the large, goofy smile that’s threatening to take over his face, but he’s probably not very successful. He brings Alec’s hand to his mouth and kisses his knuckles softly. “I miss you too, darling.”

“So will you bring back my clothes?”

“Of course,” Magnus says. “We can go to the Institute first thing tomorrow so you can show me where you put them, and--”

“Um,” Alec says, and he blushes. “Actually, they’re still in the hall, exactly where you sent them. I might have gotten a little … upset when they showed up. I wouldn’t let anyone move them. Then I went out drinking.”

Magnus scoots closer to Alec and cups his face in his hands. “I’m sorry,” he says again. “I should have asked you. I think I was just scared of the answer.”

Alec tilts his forehead against Magnus’. “I was scared too. To tell you who my parents are, and to come back after you found out. I should have just told you.”

Magnus shakes his head. “You had a good reason not too. Honestly, it was staring me in the face for a long time. I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner.”

Alec wraps his hand around the back of Magnus’ neck and kisses him. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Magnus says.

“Can we, uh, can we just go to sleep now and deal with everything else tomorrow?”

“Absolutely,” Magnus says. They lie down and Magnus tugs at the duvet until it’s covering them. He snaps his fingers to turn off the remaining lights, then wraps his arms around Alec and pulls his back to his chest. He doesn’t ever plan on letting go.

“I just have one more very important question,” Magnus says.

“Hmm?” Alec replies, his voice already heavy with sleep.

“What do you think about getting a cat?”

you’re damn right i believe in love
because i’ve been in love and i’ve been loved right back