yours is the light by which my spirit’s born:
yours is the darkness of my soul’s return
you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars
― E.E. Cummings
The first time Alec questioned his status was when he was ten years old.
Up until that point, he never even had a reason to think about secondary genders and what the consequences of being an alpha, beta, or omega were. He was just a kid. He had no use for the adult stuff when there were so many other more important and interesting things to learn, things like runes and archery and the history of Nephilim.
Then the whole debacle with Preston happened. He thought that everyone would be happy with him for adapting, and finally finding a way to beat the boy at kendo practice, despite Preston being nearly two years older than him. He listened to his mother’s advice and went against his training. Preston’s nose cracked under his shinai as a result.
Preston himself didn’t react badly - other than being embarrassed that the younger kid, whom he used to beat regularly, suddenly managed to kick his ass instead - but oh, Preston’s mother went ballistic. Alec remembered how she shouted at Maryse. She insisted that Alec should be put in his place like ‘the filthy little omega he reeked of’ and that he should be punished for insubordination and hurting her alpha son.
Alec also remembered how Maryse growled at the other woman. There was some vicious exchange of words that he couldn’t hear before Preston’s mother all but ran from the training room with the metaphorical tail between her legs.
Later that evening, when Alec was done cleaning all the weapons in the Institute, as a part of his punishment for going against Hodge’s training (a job he didn’t really mind that much), he asked Maryse about what Preston’s mother had said. Maryse sat him down on his bed and explained to him how the secondary genders worked. She told him about alphas and their dominant personalities. About betas and their hard work and neutrality that helped to keep society balanced.
And she told him about omegas. How they were incredibly rare, especially among boys. How they could carry children if they wanted and how every alpha would be lucky to have them as a partner. She told him that omegas were smart and had sharp, tactical minds, and were born leaders. She told him that nearly every great figure in the history of mankind was a confirmed omega. Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte, to name a few.
Alec didn’t understand why Preston’s mother was so upset with him and in turn, Maryse explained pheromones. How Alec already smelled slightly of omega and that he would probably present soon. Preston’s mother was the type of person who was envious of the gifts that omegas were blessed with.
“There will be people in your life who will treat you like you’re worth less than them, just because of your status,” she told him. “But there will be just as many people who will cherish you for what you are.”
Maryse told Alec, again and again, that what he did with his life was his choice and his alone. He didn’t have to put up with anyone who didn’t respect him if he didn’t want to. The world would be his for the taking. As long as he was dutiful to the Clave and the nephilim’s sacred mission, he could be anyone he wanted to be. The Head of the Institute. The Inquisitor. The Consul. No one would be able to stop him if he truly wished to become a great leader.
Alec could still remember the genuinely proud look in Maryse’s eyes when he presented as an omega a little over a year later.
The life of an omega wasn’t any different than the life of an alpha or a beta.
Ever since presenting, Alec was prescribed heat-blocking shots, just like the alphas. Since he presented so early, he wasn’t allowed to go through a heat until he was fourteen. Only then did the doctor’s at the Institute switch him over to the regular blockers that lasted about six months, allowing a heat to happen twice a year to keep his body healthy.
Heats were a nuisance for Alec. He had to isolate himself from all alphas - except for his parents - and Izzy, who was a beta. Alec always spent his heats away in their house in Alicante for two long, uncomfortable days during which his temperature spiked and he felt like his entire body was itching. Thankfully, as long as there were no alphas around to trigger him further, that was pretty much it. There were no inconvenient erections, no rush of hormones that made him impossibly horny (no more than was normal for a teenager, anyway), and no spontaneous leaking; that particular thought left him mortified. No, all of those things would happen only with a compatible alpha, and Alec had never shared a heat with anyone.
He even had to stay away from Jace, who presented as an alpha just a year after him. He couldn’t risk it. Jace was his brother in every way but blood, but apparently it was the blood that made the difference. His feelings for Jace made everything worse since he was sure that his parabatai would trigger his heat so fast it would make his head spin.
It wasn’t exactly a secret that out of all three secondary genders, it was the alphas who were the strongest, the most aggressive, the most territorial. It was well-known.
It was also completely wrong.
Because of the rarity of omegas, people believed that they were either submissive or neutral, like betas. Not many people were educated on how dangerous a threatened omega could be. Those that were educated?
Their knowledge often came from a personal experience.
The group of boys who cornered Alec in an isolated part of the Institute had the brilliant idea of putting the resident omega on his knees, to see if he would ‘get wet for them like the bitch that he was’. There were five of them. Alec had just hit a growth spurt not so long ago, but he was still only sixteen and they were all older and bigger than him. He didn’t have any weapons on him and was severely outnumbered.
Alec didn’t know he would need weapons in his own home. He had not experienced this kind of behavior before, this kind of degradation and aggression, aimed at him just because of his status as an omega. Polite disinterest was the worst thing that ever happened, not that he minded. It was better than the curious, interested looks he had been receiving for the past couple of months. Izzy had joked about it. She told Alec that it was because he was turning from an ‘awkward turtle into a beautiful swan’, whatever the hell that meant. Alec always rolled his eyes at her, but maybe even that joke had some truth to it. Was that why he was getting harassed now?
It didn’t matter.
The corner of Alec’s lip twitched in an imitation of a smirk, all sharp teeth and disdain. He was not going to give them what they wanted.
When other shadowhunters came running moments later, alarmed by the sounds of fighting, Alec had a broken rib and a black eye, but the five guys were on the ground either unconscious or moaning in pain, all of them looking far worse than Alec. One of them was missing half of his right ear. When Maryse arrived at the scene, Alec greeted her with a red-tinted grin. The blood running down his lips and chin was not his own.
Calming an omega down from a feral episode was not easy, but Maryse was the only alpha Alec yielded to. She coaxed him out of the corner, where he stood to ensure no one attacked his vulnerable back. She led him to the infirmary, where she held an ice pack to his ribs and drew a fresh iratze on his skin.
“I’m so incredibly proud of you, my sweet boy,” Maryse whispered into his hair as he hid his face in the crook of her neck, taking shallow breaths and fighting against the pain that came as the adrenaline rush ebbed away. The red haze of the anger-fight-survive instincts that clouded his mind was receding, chased away by his mother’s tender words and the familiar scent of her perfume. “I’m so proud of how well you fought and how you protected yourself.”
Alec never saw those boys again. He was sure Maryse put the fear of the Angel in them and made them transfer away from New York as soon as they could walk again.
As a general rule, Alec tended to be wary whenever an alpha warlock showed even a little bit of interest in him.
It was a given fact that warlocks were infertile, but what many didn’t realize is that it wasn’t completely true. It wasn’t common, but a male alpha warlock could father a child with an omega female or male, but only of different species, like a Seelie or a werewolf.
Or a Nephilim.
Alec wasn’t aware of this fact until he ran point on a mission to capture and arrest Iris Rouse, a notorious dark magic user. She managed to flee before they got to her, but she escaped in a hurry, leaving her experiments behind.
Her hideout was a thing of nightmares.
Rooms were filled with brainwashed omegas - Seelies, wolves, and even mundanes - some of them in late stages of pregnancy. The entire building reeked of dark magic, misery, and pain. As soon as Alec entered those blasted rooms, he knew that none of the omegas were there of their own free will.
At first, Alec didn’t understand how it was possible. Omegas who went through extreme trauma - physical or emotional - couldn’t conceive. Fertility during heats required a deep emotional bond between partners, and that sure as hell couldn’t happen in that horrific breeding house.
Later, much later, Izzy came to him with lab results. Through the combination of magic, potions, and drugs Iris managed to brainwash her victims into a state similar to heat and even imitated a bond between mated pairs, making sure that the omega’s body didn’t fight the unwanted pregnancy.
She had been kidnapping omegas for months. She had been renting them out like broodmares to alpha warlocks and demons, to create more warlocks. She had done all of this under his nose, in his city. Alec made a promise to himself, and to the rescued omegas and their unborn children, that he would find Iris Rouse and make her pay.
When Clary Fray entered their lives - along with her beta friend, Simon - she brought chaos with her to an extent that he really did not appreciate. She refused to play by the rules. She did whatever the hell she wanted and somehow seemed to pull everyone into her quest to find her mother.
Jace became enamored with her almost immediately, which only added insult to injury. Clary was an alpha, just like Jace, but that didn’t mean much. These days it didn’t matter what your secondary gender was, you could date whoever you wanted. Heck, even his parents were an alpha pair, which wasn’t something that would have happened forty or fifty years ago.
Clary didn’t know how to act around omegas. Alec very much enjoyed putting her in her place after the first time she tried to order and intimidate him, under the utterly foolish impression that he would yield to her.
Alec had never yielded to anyone but his mother in his entire life. Even the Clave officials have never seen a submission from him, only polite manners and professionalism that he used with everyone.
But then...then Clary led them to Magnus Bane.
All the silly romance movies Izzy had made him watch could not have prepared him for the lightning that struck when he saw Magnus clearly for the first time, after fighting those Circle members together.
He felt numb and buzzed with restless energy at the same time, as if he had an electric current pulsing underneath his skin. The apartment smelled of battle and blood and magic, but beneath that Alec could detect other, subtler scents. Something wild and primal that he couldn’t describe. It smelled like the air after a thunderstorm, like ozone and wet dirt. Like cedar and rosemary and woodsmoke, all wrapped up in one alluring package.
“I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced,” Magnus said to him, and Alec forgot how to breathe. He could only stare at the most gorgeous man - an alpha - he had seen in his life. He barely managed to choke out his own name. He was torn between the desperate need to stay, to keep the warlock in his sight, and the need to run away and hide in the embarrassed of his own incoherent mumbling.
But of course, everything went to shit quickly when he screwed up during the summoning of the memory demon. Magnus tried to comfort him afterward, saying that he had nothing to be ashamed of. His voice was low and it sent a shiver down Alec’s spine. He could still remember the jolt of energy that jumped between their hands as they’d touched for the first time, just moments before. Alec could still feel it buzzing underneath his skin, like a phantom caress of invisible fingers. From the look Magnus was giving him, Alec was sure the alpha felt it too.
He agreed to go out on a date.
Alec still didn’t know what possessed him to say yes. Maybe it was the way Magnus trembled in his arms while Alec held him up and shared his strength as he healed Luke. Maybe it was the vulnerable look Magnus gave him afterward. Or maybe it was the fact that Magnus had seen him as an equal, someone worthy of asking for help.
Alec didn’t understand it. Never in his life had he felt this kind of attraction to anyone, ever. It was like some stupid, primal part of him woke up and reared its head every time Magnus appeared in his sights. Like the part that made him an omega suddenly longed for an alpha like it never did before.
He didn’t like it.
He wasn’t ashamed of being an omega, no matter how some people resented him for his secondary gender. But he didn’t like to feel as if he was missing something. He didn’t like to feel incomplete without an alpha to fill that empty space inside of him.
And yet, whenever he was near Magnus or heard his voice, his heart resonated with such intense longing that it made his breath catch.
So Alec did the only thing he knew he could do. He talked to his mother.
He didn’t tell her that it was a warlock who caused such a strong reaction in him. He wasn’t stupid, he knew what his mother thought of Downworlders. He told her about the conflicting feelings, about the sudden yearning he couldn’t explain. He wasn’t afraid of telling her that the alpha who made him feel that way was a man. Thankfully, the gender of your mate wasn’t an issue when you were an omega capable of carrying children either way.
“Oh, Alec,” Maryse sighed as she raised her hand and touched his cheek gently as they sat together on the couch in her office, “it sounds to me like you found your mate.”
And wasn’t that a terrifying prospect.
“Just like that? I don’t even know him. I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with him?”
Which wasn’t entirely true, Alec knew. There was no such thing as fated pairs, even though the romance flicks liked to overuse the trope. Each person had many possibilities of mates they could meet at any point in their lives. Furthermore, all relationships required work and patience, not just fate. Finding a possible mate did not mean that Alec had to tie himself to them indefinitely. People fall in and out of love all the time, and mating did not have to mean life-long commitment. Mating bonds could be broken and forged anew with different people at any given time.
“You’re not supposed to do anything but find out if he’s your match,” Maryse told him fiercely. “No one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. This is your life, Alec, and only you can decide what makes you happy.”
And so he did.
They went on dates.
Alec was apprehensive at first. Magnus was an alpha warlock, and that always lit up a warning light in him due to the Iris Rouse case, which was still open. What could Magnus - beautiful, powerful Magnus - want with a plain, boring shadowhunter like himself? The fact that he was an omega had to play some important part in all of this. The fact that he could carry children for a warlock had to mean something.
And yet, during the dates they went on he couldn’t help but find himself falling more and more for Magnus. The alpha was a perfect gentleman, not pushing him any further than he was comfortable with, and always careful of not invading Alec’s personal space.
“I lived in times where an omega was considered property of an alpha,” Magnus told him one evening, “and I think it was one of the darkest parts of history. If I ever start acting like a caveman, feel free to shoot me full of arrows.”
It was a little over a month of dating - that no one except for Izzy and Jace knew about - that he kissed Magnus for the first time.
They were saying goodbye after a date night, which started at a Greek restaurant and ended with drinks at Magnus’ place. Magnus was just about to open a portal that would take Alec back to the Institute when Alec gently grasped his elbow, backed Magnus against a wall and kissed him. It was not fast and sudden. No, he had given Magnus enough time to stop him, but the warlock merely tilted his head up into the kiss.
It was Alec’s first kiss. It started out a little hesitantly, a little clumsily, and very much without finesse, but what he lacked in experience he made up in enthusiasm. His body was crowding Magnus’ against the wall, which the alpha didn’t mind much, at first. Then he pulled Alec close by circling his waist, bit gently at Alec’s lower lip and took over the kiss, dominating it completely and utterly. Alec all but melted against him and the empty, burning void inside of him started aching a little less.
Alec chose to spend his next heat in Alicante once more, not ready to share a heat with Magnus when they still had not even seen each other naked. It was rougher than usual, if only because his mind kept circling back to Magnus over and over again, making him more aroused than he was comfortable with. He was insanely grateful that heats spent in isolation lasted only two days.
He hoped that by the time his next heat came, in another six months, he would be ready to share it with Magnus.
“A warlock, Alec? Really?!”
His mother’s voice was loud and somewhat shrill, the disbelief ringing clear across every word. It grated on his nerves, made his hackles rise and buzz underneath his skin like an itch he could not scratch.
Lately, everything he did was met with some kind of disapproval, but he didn’t have time for this. Hodge had betrayed them. Jace was missing and still in Valentine’s grasp. And, while his parents played politics in Idris, trying to smooth things out with the Clave, Alec had been desperately trying to get his parabatai back.
Then, of course, things had to get worse. Maryse came back to New York two days prior and someone had already reported to her that Alec and Magnus had been dating for months. How they found out, Alec had no idea. Although, it was bound to be revealed sooner or later, especially since Alec did not intend to let Magnus go anytime soon.
“You know how alpha warlocks are,” Maryse hissed, venom dripping from her words, “they only want one thing from omegas like you! You can give them something they otherwise can’t have and I can’t believe you would fall for Bane’s deception. You’re going to drag the Lightwood name through the mud for him?”
“There isn’t a lot of good reputation to our name left, Mother, and that is your fault, not mine,” Alec spat out, trying to keep his anger reigned in, feeling it rise inside of him, wave after dangerous wave. “I don’t have the time for this. Jace is still gone, Aldertree is making our work more difficult than it should be, and I don’t have to justify myself to you.”
“I didn’t raise you to be some warlocks whore!” Maryse grabbed his shoulder when he turned around to leave and that was it, the fragile control he had over his own emotions snapped at the sound of her authoritative tone.
“ENOUGH!” Alec growled at her as he spun around and grabbed her by the wrist, yanking the offending hand away from his shoulder. She took an instinctive step back and, through the red haze of fury, Alec noticed how her eyes went wide, how a brief expression of fear flashed through her face. It brought him grim sense of satisfaction, knowing she didn’t expect his outburst. Alec wasn’t prone to anger often and never, ever, had he turned that anger on her.
Not until now.
“You once told me that no one has the right to tell me how to live my life,” Alec hissed, his tone low and husky, and with a hint of steel underneath his words. “That no one can tell me how to achieve my own happiness, or who I should tie myself to, as long as it was my choice. Well, this is my choice and you don’t get to have a say in it. I will not allow you to talk about Magnus that way. Not now, not ever. If he’s a mistake - which I highly doubt - he will be my mistake. You don’t have the right to interfere. You are my mother, but you’re not my alpha. Not anymore. Do I make myself clear?”
Alec watched her process this, her face turning more pale. When she didn’t reply, he squeezed her wrist a little more. She was probably going to have bruises. Alec would feel guilty about them later, but at this very point he could not bring himself to care.
“I said, is that clear?”
“Yes,” she finally said and he released her, but to her credit she didn’t move away, didn’t step back away from him. “Oh, Alec…”
She reached out to him, both hands raising to his face and he resisted the urge to flinch. He wasn’t sure what she was playing at, but he wasn’t about to yield to her. He wasn’t lying when he said she was not his alpha anymore. There was only one he would yield to now, and that was not his mother.
Maryse cradled his face between her hands, gently and cautiously, her eyes softening a little as she took in the hardened expression on his face. The narrowed eyes shining with suspicion, and anger boiling inside of him, ready to burn her. He was still and unmoving and towering over her, ready to snap at any further provocation. Alec was half-feral and in protective mode. And an angered or threatened omega was dangerous.
But he was still her son, and she was the one responsible for putting him in this state.
“Magnus is the one you told me about,” Maryse said, sudden understanding in her voice. She was running her thumbs soothingly down Alec’s sharp cheekbones, hoping that the familiar gesture would help calm him down. “Easy now, easy. I didn’t mean to make you so angry.” Her soft whispers eased some of the tension from Alec’s shoulders, just like they always did when she brought him down from the adrenaline rush that triggered feral episodes. “I’m so sorry, my sweet boy. I didn’t understand. I know now that he’s your mate.”
Alec closed his eyes and shivered, thinking about Magnus. His loving eyes and soothing scent and reverent touch. He had never put a label on their relationship, but his mother was not wrong. The intense, painful longing he felt whenever they were apart, the elation that filled him to the brim whenever he was near the older man, when he could breathe in his scent, touch his warm skin. It all sounded like an incomplete bond.
Magnus was his mate.
Alec turned his head to nuzzle deeper into the pillow and desperately tried to forget about the disaster of an evening they’d just had. Max’s party had been a failure due to the spell that was cast over all of them. Because of Alec’s overwhelming guilt over Jocelyn's death, elevated by the spell, he’d nearly thrown himself over Magnus’ balcony. He didn’t do it, but it was close. The only thing that stopped him, seconds before it was too late, was the faint, barely-there scent he caught in Magnus’ apartment.
The memory of it was stuck in his head. His mind snapped out of the spell’s hold as soon as he caught trace of it. It was a scent he could never forget. A bizarre mix of tulips, ginger root, and dust. He would forever associate this scent with the stench of terror and pain and suffering.
He ran through the apartment trying to locate the source. His frantic behavior must have been enough to alarm the others. Magnus tried to get his attention, to calm him down, but it wasn’t working. Alec seemed to be focused only on his task, hell-bent on finding the threat and eliminating it.
How dare she? How could she come into this apartment, into their territory, and hide away like a coward? Just the faintest trace of her scent was enough to make Alec’s hackles rise and his skin crawl. This time she was not going to get away from him.
He found her in Magnus’ bedroom, disguised in the form of a cat. Alec rushed at her, but she shifted into human form just in time to cast a spell that pushed him back.
What happened afterward, Alec wasn’t sure. He couldn’t remember most of it. He’d been immobilized with magic for half of the fight and then blinded with rage for the rest of it. He knew that Magnus fought Iris and trapped her in his own spell. He knew that Jace had to hold Alec down to keep him away from tearing into Iris with his bare hands. He would have. He would have choked the life out of her there on the spot if he only had a chance. But now she was in Idris, awaiting the Clave’s judgment.
And he was here, in Magnus’ bed hiding his face in a soft pillow, trying to muffle the world around him. He wasn’t running high on adrenaline anymore, but his body hadn’t gotten the memo. Every muscle in his body was tense and he was ready to fight, even though his brain already knew there was nothing more to be done.
He didn’t flinch when he felt the bed dip next to him. Then Magnus was there, lying down next to Alec, his arm coming around Alec’s shoulders to hold him close.
“She’s gone, Alec. You can rest now.”
Alec made a wounded, angry sound and abandoned his pillow, choosing to hide his face away in the crook of Magnus’ neck instead. The warlock’s scent there was strong, easing his mind a little, filling his lungs as he took in shaky breaths.
“The things she did to those omegas,” Alec rasped out, trying desperately not to think back to the horrors of Iris’ experiments and failing. Every time he closed his eyes he could see Iris’ victims. He couldn’t stop his mind from going in circles and wondering what stroke of luck had spared him from the same fate, from being bound and broken and violated in a way you couldn’t ever recover from, not really. As a male omega, he would have been an attractive target for Iris, if she only knew of his existence. “I could have killed her. I will kill her if I ever see her again.”
“She’s going to pay for what she’s done,” Magnus whispered as he ran his fingers through Alec’s black hair in an attempt to calm him down. Alec’s scent filled the air between them. It was sour, unhappy, and that put Magnus on edge as well. “And you are the one who figured out she was here in the first place. You caught an intruder in my lair.” Magnus paused for a moment. “In our lair. You did good, love.”
Their lair. That sounded… nice. A space that they could share as one territory, theirs to protect. To nest in. It was something that usually only happened between mated pairs and Alec couldn’t help the warm, happy feeling that bloomed deep in his chest.
They took their relationship to the next level not long after that since Alec didn’t want his first time to happen in the middle of his heat. He didn’t want the rush of hormones and haze of lust to cloud the experience.
And oh, it was definitely an experience. Alec grew up thinking he would always be alone since he never showed interest in any alpha, but this? This was something else. Magnus worshipped his body, taught him the wonders of shared intimacy that were just on the razor edge of being overwhelming.
Alec let himself fall, knowing that Magnus would be there to catch him.
“Your mother and I always had a complicated relationship.”
Alec snorted in disbelief, not lifting his eye from the tablet in his hand as he scanned over the latest report from the previous night’s patrol. The group had not encountered anything out of the ordinary, which gave Alec hope that things might finally be leveling out, even just a little bit. Valentine was in custody and most of his followers were scattered. The Clave had acknowledged his leadership in the battle, thankfully disregarding Alec's rebellion against Aldertree.
Everything led up to this moment. Discovering Izzy’s addiction. Taking back control of the Institute. The battle. Confronting Valentine and his shadowhunters. And now the Clave had named him Head of the Institute. This was what he had been aiming for ever since he was a child.
“It’s not complicated.” Alec put down the tablet after signing off on the report, sending it to be archived. He finally looked up at his father, sitting on one of the sofas in his office. His office. It still blew his mind. “You cheated on her.”
“I made a mistake,” Robert said, looking down for a moment before shifting his gaze to Alec once more. “I never meant to hurt you, any of you. But I fell in love. You of all people should know what that’s like.”
“Magnus isn’t an affair!” Alec growled, slamming an open palm down on the desk, the sudden loud thump making Robert twitch in response. “I won’t allow you to disrespect him. He is my mate. And mom was yours. Until you decided to throw it all away.”
They were silent for a minute. Alec closed his eyes and took deep breaths, trying to control his feelings. Ever since realizing what Magnus meant to him, his emotions were all over the place. Logically, he knew it was a period of adjustment that he needed to get through. The fierce protectiveness over his mate would ease away in time, but until then he was ready to go to war for Magnus, even against his own father.
“I can understand falling for someone else,” Alec finally said. “People fall in and out of love all the time. That’s just how life is. You don’t have to stay with your mate for the rest of your days.” He looked at his father and saw the tiniest flicker of hope in his eyes, a hope for reconciliation.
He was about to crush that hope, hard, and didn’t feel any remorse.
“But going behind Mom’s back, continuing your affair? That’s what I can’t forgive. You should have ended things with Mom before you started seeing someone else. But now you’re not being truthful to either of them. You’re just another alpha being led around by his knot.”
“Alec!” Robert’s expression turned angry and he stood up from his seat, his entire body one tense line. “I won’t allow you to talk to me like that!”
“Why?” Alec asked, raising an eyebrow. “Because I am an omega? So is your mistress, remember?”
“Because you’re my son! You will show me some respect.”
“Respect is earned, Dad.” Alec hissed, narrowing his eyes. He remained seated behind his desk, anger churning inside of him freely, but it was the icy-cold kind of fury that washed over him with a false sense of tranquility. He did not need to shout or get angry to get his point across. “It’s also as easily lost, and you lost all respect I had for you when you chose to hurt your family. Mom was your mate for over twenty years - she deserved more than being cheated on and made into the new hot gossip of Idris.”
“Alec, you don’t have the right to--”
“I have every right,” Alec interrupted him, his voice low and dangerous. Robert’s eyes widened when he realized that he was stepping on thin ice now. “Out of the two of you, it was Mom who was my alpha. It was never you. She was my alpha and you broke her heart.”
Alec had hurt people for less.
“Unless it’s official business, we have nothing more to talk about.” Alec picked up his previously discarded tablet and turned it on. “Not until you fix your own mess. Now, I have the Institute to run. I trust you can let yourself out.”
“Alec…” Robert’s voice was quiet and defeated now, but Alec wasn’t looking at him any more.
“You can go,” Alec said and sighed with relief when Robert left his office without a word.
“Are you nervous?”
Magnus’ breath washed over the heated skin of his forehead and Alec closed his eyes as he shivered, half in anticipation and half in fear.
“Yes,” he finally admitted, his voice shaky, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”
Which wasn’t entirely true. Alec had academic knowledge of how heats should go, he wasn’t going into it blind. He knew that his heat would last from two to four days, during which his temperature would spike and, if a compatible alpha was near, he would experience a heightened state of arousal. Not enough to make him crazy with it (no matter how online porn liked to pretend that omegas in heat turned into knot-obsessed slaves that alphas could do anything with) but enough to make things very uncomfortable if he didn’t have sex. His pheromones would, in turn, trigger an alpha into a rut so that they could go through their heats together.
It all sounded very… clinical. Alec wasn’t sure how he felt about the aspects of his biology that only happened during heats. He wasn’t looking forward to experiencing the feeling of producing his own slick or having Magnus knot him - something he was pretty sure was going to hurt, at least at first.
He tried to approach it like a battle for which he could plan ahead. He scheduled himself a week off work, just in case this first heat went for longer than usual, which wasn’t uncommon. He left his siblings in charge and threatened them with bodily harm if they disturbed them for any reason, save for the apocalypse dropping on their heads or Raziel himself demanding his attention.
He also made sure his contraceptive shot was still active since he had no intention of having a child anytime soon. Alec had been wary of admitting this to Magnus, but the warlock only smiled, told Alec that it was his decision and he had all the time in the world to wait and see if he changed his mind one day.
So, all in all, Alec felt like he was ready.
Despite all this knowledge, despite all the facts he had researched and learned about, nothing could have prepared him for actually feeling the effects of the heat. The hot rush of pure want that filled him as they laid on the bed together touching and kissing, the need building up like an inferno, making Alec’s skin feel like it was on fire. The fabric of his clothes seemed like a branding iron, scalding, and hurting, and he whined in the back of his throat at the uncomfortable feeling.
“You don’t need to be scared,” Magnus said, kissing Alec in between sentences. Pressing small, brief kisses over his lips, the bridge of his nose, his closed eyelids. “I’ll take care of you.”
“I know,” Alec panted, squirming a little until he could reach to strip off his shirt and then yanked Magnus’ own tunic off his body, relishing in the way cool air hit his overheated skin, “I trust you.”
That was what this was. For over a decade, he'd spent his heats alone, in isolation from the outside world. Now he had finally found someone who he trusted with his life, with his body. Someone who would stay with him when he was the most vulnerable.
“Magnus,” Alec whispered as the warlock shifted them around until Alec ended up on his back, Magnus nestled in between his legs. They were both hard. Alec shivered.
“How do you feel?” Magnus asked, pressing their foreheads together. One of his hands settled over Alec’s sternum, feeling his heart beating wildly inside of his chest like a bird caught in a cage.
“Hot,” Alec panted. “Too hot. Is it… is it always like this?”
“Yes, but it will get better. It’s just the first rush. It will ease soon.” Magnus kissed him again slowly, possessively, owning Alec’s mouth and Alec surrendered with the sweetest sigh.
“Can you feel it?” Alec asked after a moment, gripping onto Magnus’ hair with trembling fingers as the warlock mouthed at his neck, covering it in his marks. “The bond?”
Magnus made an affirmative noise and Alec closed his eyes, focusing on the feeling. The beginning of a bond thrumming between them. He had felt it for the last couple of months, but it would only be complete with a shared heat. Alec was more than ready to take the leap, to tie himself to this wonderful, brilliant man who turned out to be his shining star, his beacon towards which he had been gravitating his entire life.
Alec allowed himself to fall apart, trusting Magnus to put him back together. To gather all his broken pieces and make him whole again, until Alec felt brand new and loved and complete.