Chapter 1: Prologue
Once upon a time, there was a boy.
This boy found a book and it changed his life.
He thought he had a mission regarding the book, a mission which he took a good amount of time to figure out.
Soon enough he was immersed in its reality. He thought he understood what was happening within it. And what he wanted from it.
He didn’t know that one of the hardest lessons in life was to understand our true self and see the truth that surrounded us. There was an ethereal aspect of the universe he still had to reach out.
To know yourself and to trust - in yourself and in others - are difficult tasks to accomplish and, even when you think you’ve mastered them, you can still find room to grow and learn.
To learn can be painful.
It can be beautiful.
As he was about to learn.
* * *
"What do you suppose it means?" he asked. "'DO WHAT YOU WISH.' That must mean I can do anything I feel like. Don't you think so?"
All at once Grograman's face looked alarmingly grave, and his eyes glowed.
"No," he said in his deep, rumbling voice. "It means that you must do what you really and truly want. And nothing is more difficult."
"What I really and truly want? What do you mean by that?"
"It's your own deepest secret and you yourself don't know it."
Chapter 2: 30 days and counting
It had been a month now.
Since they split.
In all truth, he knew he was at his worst.
How did that happen anyway?
He didn’t know.
Actually, he did.
It was all his fault.
(But was it really?)
He remembered the last time they “talked” face to face.
It had been another fight.
He hadn’t thought it was serious. He never thought it would lead them to this. Would he do things differently, maybe, if he knew? Would he say something… in a different tone? Maybe he would have been quiet if he knew. He should have trusted more, he knew that. But damn it, he was scared and tired of all this. And fear is a powerful thing. It takes over you. Your thoughts. Devores all your certainties. It feeds on your doubts. It grows if you let it.
And he did just that. His old fears. His insecurities. They were all there on full display that night.
He was spitting hurtful words like a machine gun. He couldn’t stop himself. Unfair words. He knew that. He was being so unfair. So wrong. So… awful. He was awful. He hurt his boyfriend in ways he knew the other man didn’t deserve. Right? He wasn't so sure about that either.
How had things turned out to be so confusing?
Although he knew he had a bit of reasoning behind his complaints. Why were his warnings all ignored? Why were his fears not taken into consideration in all of this?
He felt hurt by that as well.
And then there were those voicemails. They were bad enough when they started to come. But it got worse when they had suddenly stopped. It was like breaking up all over again. Damn it.
The worst part was… he didn’t know how to fix this.
Was it fixable in any way?
He didn’t know anymore.
Chapter 3: Dusk
[“That” night, one month ago]
That night, Alec went to Magnus’ place to have dinner, as always when the man was in town. They weren’t in the best place, but he was trying to work things out, at least, that’s was what he thought. He planned to cook, he bought a good wine, yeah, things would be okay.
He arrived, knocked on the door, and Magnus let him in. They kissed.
They talked a bit and Alec went to the kitchen to start cooking.
Magnus seemed nervous, for no apparent reason. Alec was uneasy with that.
There was this… tension in the air. Where did that come from?
They ate, Alec talked about his day, Magnus wasn’t listening.
And then Magnus started to talk:
“So… Hum, something happened today.”
“Yeah? Was it good?”
“Don’t know yet. Maybe. I guess…”
Alec was drinking his wine.
“Ok, tell me.”
“I got an offer. Work. Work offer. To be responsible for the costume design department of the show I’m assisting…”
“Oh My God, babe, that’s amazing! Congratulations!!! I’m so proud of you, you deserve it! Why didn’t you tell me before? I would have made a celebratory dinner, we could have had something better than pasta, you know?”
Alec was about to stand up to kiss his boyfriend, a big smile on his face when Magnus continued:
“Alec. The show I’m assisting. Remember? In Canada.”
Alec fell in his chair.
“Oh. Right. Of course.”
Alec was tense now.
“I’ll be there for… 6... to 9 months…”
“That’s a long time to be away.”
“Why haven’t you tell me this before?”
“I’m telling you now. I got the offer this morning and…”
“You spent your whole day knowing this? And you didn’t bother to tell me during all those messages you sent me?”
“Did you say yes?”
“I have some time to think. A few days. And then, if I say yes, I have to leave in the next 10 days to start production and stuff, attend meetings, you know.”
That heavy silence was back.
A continued silence would’ve been better because when Magnus started talking again, it all went downhill.
“I… I want you to come with me.”
“I said: I want you to come with me”.
They were sitting still, facing each other, the remains of their meal between them. All cold now, just like them.
“You know I can’t do that.”
And suddenly Alec was in the kitchen again, he needed some tea. Something to calm down his nerves.
“Why not? Do you have better plans? Do you plan to open a franchise of your little bookstore I don’t know about?”
“Don’t say it like that. I build it from the ground. I love that place. It was where we met! You practically serenaded me in front of it!” Alec was back from the kitchen, near the dinner table, looking offended. He was almost screaming now.
“I’m sorry, I didn't mean it like that. But you can always start over, you know? I bet people read in Canada as well.”
“And leave my family behind? They’re all I have, Mags.”
“I know, Alexander. But am I not your family as well?
“You know this is not fair…”
“And, as a bonus, we would get rid of Raj...”, Magnus said in a low voice.
There it was.
Alec grabbed his wine glass and drank it all at once. He was sick of talking about Raj.
“Oh My God, I can’t believe you. I can’t believe we’re having that conversation again. Magnus, c’mon. Are you serious?”
“I just think it would do us good…”
“You. It will be good for you, is that what you mean, right? Because you don’t trust me.”
“Of course I trust you, I don’t trust him.”
“Bullshit. Jesus, I can’t believe you. So what, you think I’ll cheat on you with him? You think I will act like a player and try to win him over with some books?”
“Well, you did that with me…”, Magnus said, almost a whisper.
He regretted the moment those words left his mouth.
“WHAT? What did you just say to me?”
Alec was screaming now.
Magnus had his head down, facing his empty plate in front of him. Alec was pacing through the living room, empty glass in hand.
“ARE YOU SERIOUSLY USING MY FEELINGS AGAINST ME NOW? OUR STORY... AGAINST ME? IS THAT WHAT YOU THINK? THAT I KEEP TRYING TO ENAMORATE MEN WITH MY LOVE FOR LITERATURE TO GET INTO THEIR PANTS?”
“NO. No, Magnus, just don’t. I can believe you think that little of me. I did what I did for you because I love you and I open myself to you, and to you ONLY, because I needed that. I thought it was special. It’s not some stunt I pull on every damn guy who crosses my way. But you know what? I’m done. I’m done hav…”
“Alexander, no, wait, stop. I’m sorry, that was not what I meant, I…”
“What? What did you mean then? Enlighten me, please, Magnus. Please, I’m begging you.”
But Magnus was silent.
He was empty. Of words. But he was full of something else. Hate?
Maybe he was just full of jealousy; because of Raj. Man, he hated Raj. That guy could drop dead. Dead.
He wished this whole thing would just stop. He was so tired. So freaking tired.
He stood up and sat on the couch next to Alec, who was now sitting with his head down, waiting for Magnus to say something. He seemed so defeated. So… done.
Magnus had never seen him like that. He tried to touch Alec, but retreated his hand, letting it rest on his own leg.
There was that silence again.
“Magnus, I love you. I love you with everything I have and you know that. I think. But I can’t keep doing this. I can’t have you doubting me like that. I can’t have that… mistrust as a third element in this relationship. I’m just… I'm so tired. I’m tired, Mags. I’m tired of our fights because of it. You’re being ridiculous and you’re never around and I feel so alone all the time, Magnus, so alone. I’m sick of it. Of sleeping alone and wake up alone. Of seeing your face through a screen. Of seeing you live a life that doesn’t include me, I guess.”
Alec breathed heavily. It was so difficult to admit all that. Again. He was being childish. But screw that. He needed his boyfriend next to him for real. And now the man was definitely leaving him.
Magnus was leaving him.
How was that supposed to work out if things were already so bad?
He didn’t know.
He only saw one way out.
Which made him say the thing that hurt him more than any other sentence he ever said until that point during their relationship - during that night:
“I think you should go. Take the job. Think about what you want. But I won’t go with you. I don’t think now it’s the right time. I think… - he took a deep breath - I think we should take a break, actually.”
How had this gone from “Come live with me in another country” to “We are breaking up”?
“What did you say?”
“You heard me. I think it is for the best. You can go free, with no worries, and focus on your work, right? And I can focus on my little shop”, he said, a sad smile on his face.
Suddenly Alec stood up.
He went to the kitchen. There was almost no water in the kettle anymore, all evaporated by now.
A lot of things were evaporating that night, in that apartment.
He went back to the living room, picked up his coat. He was heading to the door.
“Alexander, please”, Magnus said standing up and grabbing his hand. “Don’t do this”.
Alec had that sad smile. He touched Magnus’ face. And kissed him. It was bittersweet like goodbyes usually are.
Full of a lot of feelings and things they couldn't say at that moment.
When it was done, Alec just said:
He turned around and shut the door behind him.
That was it.
He was gone.
Stupid Magnus. Stupid stupid stupid.
Two weeks later, Magnus was heading to Canada.
Chapter 4: Dawn
[1 year and 7 months ago]
We better start this with the big white elephant in the room, right?
The cherry thing.
Last time we saw our adorable protagonists, they were celebrating in front of Alec’s book store.
They were together at last. Yay.
So now you would expect them to have had sex 15 times in a row already.
Yeah, about that… it didn't happen. Yet.
That first night everybody went to Alec’s place to celebrate properly, which meant they all got really drunk. Tequila drunk. Dancing-on-top-of-his-table-in-the-living-room drunk. Everybody just slept there, dropping like flies on top of each other. Alec had his arm around Magnus the whole time. They fell asleep in his bed. With Izzy, and Lydia, also there.
Can a man have some privacy to enjoy his brand new relationship, please? And to treat his man like the beautiful cherry that he is?
Apparently, no, privacy was not an option.
Oh, do you wanna know how they were officially boyfriends now? Because that was kinda cute.
Three days after they got together, Magnus had to go away, again. He was quite popular because of that award, very sort after.
Alec was working that morning and Magnus went to the bookstore to say goodbye.
They kissed, like it was a normal thing to do now, because it was (Can you believe that?). Magnus said goodbye to Lydia and was heading to the door.
“You better get my boyfriend back and in one piece ASAP, you hear me?”, Alec said, very seriously.
Magnus was almost reaching the door now. He froze. And turned around.
“It's that what we are now?”, Magnus asked, all smiles.
Alec walked from behind the counter to grab Magnus by his lapel.
They were looking into each other's eyes, lips almost touching, noses rubbing against each other.
“You better bet your pretty ass, we are. If you want to, of course.”
“I think I would like that very much, yes. Oh. Do you think I have a pretty ass?”, Magnus said, highly amused.
“I do. And all that’s attached to that too. I like the whole package. And I can't wait to see it without all those clothes on”, Alec said, quick enough to kiss his now boyfriend on the lips, tongue against tongue.
Magnus giggled, because, you know… feels and stuff.
He left a little stunned. Alec went back to the counter to get some work done. He had a proud grin on his face the whole day.
A printed version of “Every day you play” was now attached to the wall behind him.
It was one of the most outrageous nights of Alec’s life.
One of the happiest too.
He went on his first date with his boyfriend.
Could you go on a date with a guy that was already your boyfriend and to whom you had already said ‘I love you’?
Well, who cares? They were doing it.
It was difficult for both of them to manage Magnus’ crazy trips and work hours. He was doing a show (for real, not that crap Ragnor got him to do) and a movie, all together. And he was always tired. Exhausted, really. So when the two of them got together for some quality time, Magnus would fall asleep within five minutes.
Alec, in his turn, wasn’t upset. He loved having Magnus around him, to hold the man while he was sleeping. He usually waited a while, to make sure Magnus was deep in his sleep, and he kind of... hmmm... buried his nose in Magnus’ hair.
Yes, it was a bit creepy, he knew that. And he wasn’t proud of it. But oh how he needed that. To smell the other man, to get his aroma printed on him. He did that every chance he could.
So, when Alec went to pick Magnus up at the airport that morning, after a month of a lot of hair sniffing from Alec’s part, Magnus informed him quickly: “we will go on a date tonight. Be ready at 8pm. Someone will pick you up”.
Alec was… Over. The. Freaking. Moon.
He called Izzy to help him with his outfit, but she said she was busy, sorry. What the hell? He sure wasn’t gonna call Jace.
He could handle this.
He called Jace. “Oh buddy, sorry, I have this thing with Clary tonight, can’t.”
Great. Big help you two, thanks.
Alec had to dress up the best he could, being completely by himself on the task. He did an… okay job, considering? He was wearing clothes, he got some points for that. Ok, it was all black, but black is such a cheerful color, right? And his hair had a bit of gel. C’mon, that’s effort right there.
“Should I bring a poem to recite?” He thought about it and decided against the idea, to let things go in a more natural and unpompous way. He was playing easy-going Alec, not book-lover-super-intense-full-of-emotions Alec, like Izzy asked him (she literally said: “can you be more easy-going and less book-lover-super-intense-full-of-emotions just a bit? You will scare the man…”). So ‘easy going’ it is.
At 8 pm, a car was in front of his apartment. Someone rang his bell.
“Hey, Alec, it’s Simon.”
What was Simon doing here? And now?
“Sorry, Simon, I got a thing now and can’t…”
“I know. That’s why I’m here. I’m your designated driver tonight. Are you ready?”
“Sorry, what was that”?
So there was Alec. In a car. With Simon.
Alec was finding all this very odd, to say the least.
Oh yeah. Things were pretty bad for him that day at the club, when Magnus went off and left Alec crying… well, you remember that. But, for Simon, it was a great night. He tried to help Alec, which made him score some points with Izzy. A lot of points. They were dating now too.
They arrived at... Magnus’ place?
“I could’ve got an Uber to come here, you know?”, Alec said.
“Yes, but Magnus wants this to be perfect, so… You know how he is.”
In fact, he did. He was happy about that.
Alec was about to go to Magnus’ apartment, when Simon press the button inside the elevator to the top floor of the building and not to Magnus’ floor.
“You have a different destination tonight”, Simon said, winking.
That was weird. Wasn’t it?
They reached the last floor of the building. There was a little ladder in the middle of the hallway. Simon was climbing that, so Alec followed him. Was Simon about to kill him?
When Alec finally got to the rooftop of the building, he was… He had no words. There were flowers everywhere. Of all colors. And little lamps. And in the back… Was that a piano? Is Jace playing it? How the hell did Magnus manage to bring a piano up here? He had no idea.
In the middle of the space there was a beautifully set up table. And Magnus.
The man was stunning, and Alec was taken away right on the spot. Magnus went to him, with a little bouquet in hand.
“These are for you. Hello, my love”, and he kissed Alec.
Alec was in shock. “I can’t believe you did all this just for our…”, but Magnus interrupted him. “No ‘just’, my love. It was necessary. I thought about taking you to a restaurant or for a picnic, but in the end this sounded the most romantic alternative, don’t you think?”
“Well, nobody has ever done something like this for me before, so… Thank you so much, babe.” Magnus was very pleased.
“Besides, you’ve already read all those books, I needed to surprise you somehow”, Magnus said and lead Alec to his seat. The bookstore owner looked at Jace, who winked at him. Magnus then took his own seat.
Not long after that, Izzy showed up. Alec should have known by now.
“And what are you doing here?”, he asked to his sister.
“Hello, lovely gentlemen. My name is Izzy and I will be your waiter tonight. Here’s the menu. But really, it’s just the order the food will be served in, Cat has everything done by now.
Alec was looking at Magnus’ face, who was smiling. Apparently the man put all his friends to work that night in order to make the date a reality. And everybody went for it, which was lovely. Alec’s heart was full of emotions.
And then Alec looked at what his sister was wearing.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s a shirt. Why?”
The shirt had a photo of Alec and Magnus printed on it. There was a crown on top of the photo. Under their faces it said: “Malec. Bringing sexy back.”
“Who the hell is Malec?”, he said pointing to her chest.
“You two, of course. It’s your ship name.”
“What? Magnus, did you buy a boat or something? Why am I hearing about this only now?”
“No, silly”, she explained, before Magnus could open his mouth. “It is your name as a couple. I ship it. I think I own this ship, to be honest”, she said quite proudly. “Aaaaand, I did some research, Malek or Malik is a name originated from the Semitic languages from Middle East and it means King. Is that appropriate or what?”, she completed very proudly, pointing to the crown on her shirt.
“How do you…”, Alec started. “To your surprise, Big Bro, I can read, ok? And there’s Google, please!”, she said like it was the dumbest thing to ask.
“Oh. My. Lord. This is not happening”, Alec said, pale.
“Oh, believe me. It is. I made this for everyone. Jace!”
Jace looked at them, stood up and showed his shirt. It was just like Izzy’s.
“But you two will have to earn yours”, she said laughing.
“Why? Why is this happening?”, Alec couldn’t believe it.
“Oh, c’mon. This could have been so much worse, you know that. So now just enjoy your night, okay?”, she said and left with the bouquet that had been on Alec’s lap until now. “I’ll find a vase”.
“Magnus!”, Alec was slightly desperate.
“What? That was not my idea. She was so happy. She had puppy eyes, Alexander, what was I supposed to do?”
“Tell her no, of course.”
“Sorry, no can do. Now, let’s do as she said and enjoy our night, ok?”
Apart from that, it was a lovely night indeed. Catarina cooked (ufff, Alec was worried about that when he saw Izzy was involved with the food somehow, but it was delicious. They had duck as the main curse. Jace was nowhere near Magnus’ kitchen that day, where all the preparation took place) and Izzy served them. Lydia was in charge of desserts, a chocolate mousse.
They talked all night, the sky full of stars above them. It was perfect. Alec closed his eyes and asked the Lords, the Gods, all entities, new and old, to never let that end. To never lose Magnus and all the happiness the other man brought to his life. He was just so… thankful. So happy. So touched and overwhelmed by his feelings. And it’s only been a month. Imagine… the rest of his life being like this?
Before the date was over, Clary showed up to take their photo.
“Alec, really, is that what you choose to wear on your first date with Magnus Bane?”
“Look, there was no one to help me. And I put some gel in my hair. See?”, he said pointing to his own hair. Magnus laughed.
“You look amazing, Alexander, fear not. Biscuit, the shot, please”.
She took the picture. And they were now heading to Magnus’ apartment. Catarina was there, finishing cleaning the kitchen with Lydia. Ragnor was there… just complaining and being Ragnor, to be honest. He was talking about taking flute lessons. Magnus just ignored that. The couple congratulated Cat for an amazing meal and then they were alone.
Magnus was about to offer a drink to his boyfriend when Alec grabbed his arm and pulled him closer, kissing him. The kiss was slow and intense, their tongues greeting each other, like old friends excited to see each other after a long time. Alec’s hands were on his boyfriend’s hips first. Then he slid them up, to the chest. And he started to take off Magnus’ jacket, which fell on the floor with a heavy noise. Then he started to take the man’s shirt. They broke the kiss. Alec took his own shirt off. He engaged the kiss again. His hands were back at Magnus’ hips. He was leading them to the bedroom.
He closed the door behind them and Magnus was about to laid on the bed when Alec stopped him. “Hm-hm”, he said. He placed Magnus facing the wall near the door. Alec put his boyfriend hands on the wall, to steady him. Alec was behind him. Magnus faced the wall the whole time.
There was no talking.
From behind, Alec kissed Magnus’ neck, his earlobe, licking and biting. The man just threw his head back, moaning in agreement. Alec’s hands were exploring Magnus, his arms, his torso, his abs, anything that he could put his hands on. After a while, he reached Magnus’ belt. He took it off, along with his pants. And his boxers. Alec took his own pants off as well, maintaining his own underwear.
He was on his knees now and started to kiss Magnus’ legs, still from behind. His thighs. Massaging them. Rubbing with his hands. Licking them. He reached his boyfriend’s ass and gave a little bite as well. He licked the palm of his own hand many times and, still behind Magnus, reached the other man’s member, completely hard by now. He stroked it a bit,
Magnus was moaning now loud and clear. Alec was very happy with that. He asked for Magnus’ lube. Magnus told him where it was and, after a moment, Alec got it. He continued to please his man standing up behind him.
Alec was pressing himself against his man. He pressed his own hips against Magnus ass. Magnus was about to lose it.
“Not yet”, Alec said in his ear.
He was in full control of the situation and Magnus allowed him to be. He wasn't expecting Alec to behave like this, but after all that time, he could understand it. It hasn’t been easy for him as well. So he surrendered himself to Alec’s will.
Kneeling behind Magnus, Alec started to prepare him now. With his tongue. Hmmm. Magnus wasn't expecting that, but he wasn't complaining either. When he was done, Alec stood up again and brought his hand to Magnus's mouth and placed two fingers inside. Magnus sucked them. He knew what was going to happen. With his other hand, Alec took his own boxers off.
He pull his fingers out of Magnus’ mouth. Magnus maintained his palms glued to the wall. Alec placed a finger inside his boyfriend. And after a while, a second one.
He was inside of his man a while after that. His hands on Magnus’ sides. He was really slow and careful. He didn't want to hurt Magnus in any way.
“That was… graceful.”
“I tend to be very careful around things that I adore and love.”
“Like those books you sell?”
“Like you, actually.
Alec was smiling. He placed a kiss on Magnus’ cheeks and started to move.
They were slow, taking their time. And then they were fast. And rough. In synchrony. Like an orchestra. Sounds everywhere. In Alec’s head they were playing “Bolero”, by Ravel. Something that was adding layer after layer each time the song repeated itself. Each time the same, each time different. In a crescendo.
He was holding Magnus by his hips, pacing them. Suddenly, he reached for one of Magnus hands, still on the wall. He licked the man’s palm and place it where his own hand was before.
“Do that for me”, he managed to say in Magnus’ ear.
So Magnus complied.
Soon enough it was all too much. They were there. They blossomed, like they always intended to.
Like cherries in the spring time.
They whispered each other’s name almost painfully. Magnus stained the wall in from of him, not that he cared about it.
Alec placed himself and Magnus on the bed, their legs giving up by now.
A while later he cleaned them and brought a glass of water for Mags. They were laying there, smiling and savoring each other. Contentment surrounding them.
They fell asleep but shortly after Magnus woke Alec up with kisses and a request: “I wanna taste myself in you”. Alec was happy to oblige.
They keep doing each other's wishes until they were too tired to breathe. Eventually they slept for good.
The next morning, Alec was two hours late for work (he cleaned the wall before going to the bookstore, FYI). Not that he cared. Lydia opened the store for him then. He was quick to type on his Instagram account once he was behind his familiar counter:
“You wrap your fingers
Around my hair
This is how
You make music out of me.”
Lydia just screamed: “You’re so predictable, gosh” from the back of the store.
Eye roll, eye roll, eye roll. Grin.
Grin for life.
[If we were still keeping score - which we are not -, Alec imagined the whole thing just exploding… There’s no way to register the night he had. Pure happiness.]
Tolstoy had an opening line that is world-wide famous: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.
Alec always had a problem with that sentence.
Actually, that was a lie. It started to bothered him when he met Magnus. Alec didn’t know if that was something that happened to people often. Do they keep thinking about specific lines from their favorite books? Do they keep writing on the edges of books to “say” a compliment to a character, criticize them, leave funny remarks? Because Alec did. Words, in a way, were his element, the raw material through which he saw the world and he understood life. It was like his lens.
There’s a passage from “Catcher in the rye” (another favorite, c’mon) that he adored. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, basically said that he loved when he read a book so good he wanted to be the author’s friend and call him or her whenever he wanted. Alec always thought the idea was amusing. He never had that desire specifically, but his personal books were full of remarks and if he kept thinking of a sentence or a passage from a book, he knew;it was a good one. It was his “I wanna call the author” in a way.
So, he was thinking about Tolstoy that day. Russians were not easy for Alec and he had had a bad experience with Dostoyevsky that he still hasn’t figured out yet (he would never call Dostoyevsky, for example, that man would just leave Alec miserable for days). But again, Tolstoy. And that line about happiness. (Yes, he knew the context, but he can take the sentences close to his heart any way he wanted, right? It was about happiness after all.) He agreed with that line for a while. Everybody seems to hold the same stupid look on their faces when they’re happy. Or in love.
Now, however, he believed otherwise. He believed (yes, like everybody else, whatever), that something unique and special was happening. Because Magnus was in his life. And he was happy before, he was sure of it. With his siblings. And their ridiculous songs. And their love and endless support. And all those books, part of his own substance and existence. But now, oh, how could things feel so different? Everything got a new range. A new light. Everything was brighter. He had a new filter, new lens in his life. Bliss.
It was love. For Magnus.
It made it all better. And in a way made happiness feel distinct somehow. He was entering a new spectrum of life. Another layer.
So, shove it, Tolstoy. “Happiness is only real when shared”, you know?
Happiness is only real when you feel it deep inside. That was enough.
Magnus, as you can imagine, loved television. It was only the power of true love that made him read all those non-fashion related books. Cat and Ragnor (who was now actually taking flute lessons, in case you’re interested) didn’t believe it at first.
“You don’t even read, well, anything as a matter of fact. I was almost thinking you didn’t know how to do it”, Cat was teasing him. She knew he read a lot of books, but they were basically about what Alec once called as “clothes”.
“Oh, for Tim Gunn’s sake, can you drop it? Of course I read Alec’s recommendations. The man has a talent, what can I say? More than one in fact”, he said, happy with himself.
But Alec had to make a bit of an effort as well and... watch tv with Magnus (or Netflix). Because that was only fair. They were sharing, which meant watching Game of Thrones, for the following reasons (according to Magnus):
- Amazing outfits (“Just look at their take on the Middle Ages, Alec, is that breathtaking or what?”).
- Occasional deaths (He had to use the word “occasional” because Alec wasn’t having it at first...)
- Plot twists everywhere.
- Hot guys. Really hot guys that they both could admire.
Only good points. (Maybe Point #5 came before #4, but you get it.)
So they watched it. They in fact binge-watched it, ‘cause Magnus was a bit obsessed.
Alec wasn't too happy about it at first (Why does someone have to die in every chapter? And he was really upset with Ned Stark’s destiny at the end of season 1). Magnus, on the other hand, was loving it, enjoying every opportunity to throw a GoT reference at Alec.
“Oh, Alec, you are the moon of my life, my sun and stars”, he said one morning while they were having breakfast with Lydia.
“Did he just called you his Khaleesi?”, she asked, laughing already, to Alec, who shook his head, ignoring that.
As the binge-watching progressed, Magnus got worse. Every time he saw Alec, he would say: “Valar Morghulis”.
Magnus let it out a deep sigh. And he had an annoyed face.
“Alexander, we've been over this. Let’s try again, what do you say?”
Magnus was out of the store now. He entered again.
Alec was actually with a customer.
“Valar Morghulis”, Magnus said it again.
“Valar Dohaeris”, Alec and the costumer said it back at the same time. Alec had to laugh at that.
“Sorry, but you have to say it, you know? He’s right.”, the customer said pointing at Magnus.
“You’re hopeless, you know that?”, Alec said, kissing his boyfriend after the costumer left.
“Well, so Riri was right once again. We do find love in a hopeless place, don’t we?”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Magnus was now part of Alec’s family. Ok, maybe it wasn’t “universally acknowledged”, but everybody close to them knew it by now.
“I can’t stand you two, you’re disgusting”, Jace said during one of their movie nights while Magnus and Alec were kissing on the couch. Movie nights were a tradition every time Magnus was in town, because apparently he was so much more fun than ‘intense-book-lover’ Alec that Jace and Izzy practically adopted him. And made up “movie night” to have a reason to spent time with him (Alec wasn’t happy with the suggestion of another dance night).
In fact, the first time Magnus was at Alec’s place for movie night, Izzy started to sing “Glad you came”, by The Wanted, because she knows no boundaries. Of course, Magnus loved it. Of course.
Izzy also enjoyed the fashion advice she got from these encounters. And the teasing:
“So, Magnus, tell me… For someone who only reads and stuff, how flexible is my brother? I’m asking for scientific reasons”. They were both laughing.
“IZZY!”. She just did the signature Lightwood move (eyes rolling full of judgement) and winked at Mags.
Nowadays, movie nights included Clary, who was dating(?) Jace, and Simon, who was definitely dating Izzy. And Alec and Magnus, of course.
Izzy booed Jace after his comment and everybody threw popcorn at him.
“You’re just jealous you don’t have a t-shirt of your own happy relationship, so shut up”, Izzy said. Izzy was almost more invested in that relationship than Alec. Almost. But she has seen him suffer so much before; they lost their parents and Max and it was too much for all of them. More than once she thought the pain would never leave them (and, in a way, it never did). Going through something like that can leave a stain on your soul, break something, leave you edgy. But Alec found refuge amongst all those weird books and had part of his soul… “preserved” somehow within them. But he always looked after his siblings, and Izzy knew it was unfair to him, to handle all that by himself. She didn’t want to be a burden to him.
And now he was with Mags and he was finally being happy and free and himself. So damn right she was going to wear ridiculous t-shirts and defend his relationship, because it was only right. In a way, she owed her own happiness to all the effort her brother put into her life. It was time to give back.
Jace made a weird noise, ignoring that remark (but he started holding Clary’s hand after that). They were still deciding what to watch (the fight was among: “Gravity”; “The devil wears prada”, “Anna Karenina”, and any “Star Wars”). Alec went to the kitchen to grab ice cream.
By some miracle, “Gravity” won. “Is that scary? Will Clary be scared and throw herself at me seeking the hero I truly am?”, Jace asked. “I think it’s always easy for you to find comfort in her arms, to be honest. I think a duck may appear in this movie, because there’s a scene related to water somehow, so... sorry, Jace”, Simon said seriously. Jace was offended. “Pffff, I don’t know what you’re talking about”. He was holding Clary’s hand tighter now. Alec was right beside Magnus, laughing while having chocolate ice cream. Everybody was comfortable now and the movie was about to start. Alec gave the ice cream to Magnus, who held the pot and brushed his hands against Alec’s.
“Your hands are cold”, Magnus said.
“What did you said?”, Alec turned slowly to face Magnus in the dark.
“Your hands are cold. Because of the ice cream”, Magnus explained.
Of course. Ice freaking cream. Magnus was talking about ice cream. He was not making a “Pride and Prejudice” remark. And Alec wasn’t expecting one. Nope, sir. He wasn’t at all.
When Alec opened the door, he faced Magnus and, oh, that wasn’t the reaction he was hoping for.
His boyfriend just burst into laughter. Unceremoniously. He kept laughing for 5 minutes straight. Every time he tried to stop, he opened his eyes and saw Alec, and the whole thing just started all over again.
Finally, when he was capable of forming sentences, Magnus asked, a bit shocked, wiping the tears from his face. “Who are you supposed to be?”
eyeroll eyeroll eyeroll eyeroll
Was it that bad?
“I’m a monster.”
“Clearly. A huge, fluffy one.”
“No. From Maurice Sendak. You know? From ‘Where the wild things are’. It’s one of my favor...”
“Yeah, yeah, I should’ve guessed that. Are you freaking kidding me? We are going to a hot club, full of people, with barely space to move, and you are a 2-meter-high stuffed animal from a children’s book! I can’t believe you!”
Ok. So maybe, maaaaybe, Alec haven’t thought about this with the care and attention it demanded.
It was Izzy’s birthday and she was throwing a costume party to celebrate.
Magnus and Alec thought that it would be better for them to choose their own costumes separately and do the big reveal before going to the party. Obviously, Alec put his love for literature above all else, forgetting the practicalities of life once more. He chose to dress up as one of the characters from Sendak’s book. Not Max, the kid. But one of the monsters, because why not, right?
“I don’t think you will fit inside the Uber!”, Magnus kept teasing him. “Look at the size of your head!”, he said pointing to the monster’s head Alec was holding (he was wearing it at the time he opened the door to Magnus, since it was part of his costume, which only made Magnus laugh harder).
“Can you stop? And what are you, a nun?”
“Oh, don’t you dare say that to me. I’m not a regular one. I’m actually Deloris Van Cartier disguised as Sister Mary Clarence.”
Since Alec was silent still, Magnus clarified the situation:
“From Sister Act! The movie. With Whoopi. I love that woman and I thought it would be a great tribute to choose her for this special night”, Magnus said serious, eyes closed.
“And how is that better than my costume?”
“Well, to begin with… I’m wearing… nothing under my religious habit. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. I’m really… ventilating down there, you know?”
Wink. Wink of death.
Suddenly, Alec was feeling himself hot all over. And crap, that suit would take him hours to get it off. He was regretting his decisions already. Magnus was grinning, because he played dirty and he knew that.
Alec breathed, and breathed once again.
Magnus was just there, waiting. Uh, it would be a great night.
“And why are you holding a whip? I don’t think she had one of those in the movie.”
“Oh, that’s Izzy’s present. Remember that time I was in Canada and did that Hunter’s movie? They had a lot of those, so I took one. I thought it would be handy…”
Yeah, Alec remembers that time pretty well. It was when he realized he had all those feelings for Magnus. Tough times.
“Wait. Handy for what?”
Magnus made a face so naughty Alec was crimson red at the spot. He was thinking about skipping the party now.
“But now it will go to pure Izzy. I think she will know how to handle this”. Wink.
“Oh, Jesus, don’t make me think of my sister with a whip. I’ll faint.”
“Whatever, drama que… monster. I still can’t believe you're wearing this. In fact, I can’t believe we’re not shirtless. Why aren’t you a freaking roman gladiator or something? Maybe we could go as guys from Magic Mike instead of this...”
Alec ignored that.
Actually, Magnus planned to go as Khal Drogo, but only if Alec went as Daenerys, and that surely wasn't going to happen, so...
“No, you're right. My inner Whoopi deserves this. Ok, let’s hit the road, Jack”.
And they were finally out of the apartment.
Magnus was right. Uber was a challenge.
But the party was way worse. For Alec. It was a bliss for Magnus, because the man couldn’t stop laughing. And when Izzy saw her brother...
“What are you? One of those freaks from Christina Aguilera’s videoclip?”
“What?”, Alec asked, clueless. Magnus was almost at the floor by now, still laughing.
“From the ‘Dirty’ video. You know which one…”, she said back, not able to hold her laughter as well.
OH LORD, MAKE IT STOP.
“I think maybe I should go”, Alec said, embarrassed.
“Oh hell no! Now you will stay and rub that fluffy ass of yours on my other guests at the dancefloor. Go.”
It was the most ridiculous scene ever. Why was his relationship with Magnus full of them? Of ridiculous moments? He thought it was kinda cute… But when he hit the dancefloor, he changed his mind. His huge fluffy belly was hitting everyone along the way and his huge animal butt made two girls spill their drinks. And he had a tail, obviously. He couldn’t move and he was sweating like a pig. He felt bad for all those people working at Disneyland. He understood them better now.
Magnus and Izzy were kinda holding each other now. They couldn’t move. They were still laughing.
“Best birthday party ever”, Magnus said. They high-fived each other.
She was actually super happy with her whip (“Simon will like that as well, thanks, Mags”) and with the present she got from Alec: tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert. She tried to hug him to say thanks, but it was impossible at that moment.
“Maybe you should go to the concert with me wearing this, you know? ‘Bringing sexy back: animal edition’.” She couldn’t let that go, could she?
[FYI: they went to the concert a few weeks later, along with Jace. Alec now owned a ‘Malec’ shirt as well - he deserve it because of those tickets, c’mon - and they were all wearing those that day. Believe me, it was a night that brought not only sexy back. It was magical.]
“So… what is this movie about?”
“Women fighting. I think. In space, or something. Maybe they are at war? There’s a female protagonist, but I’ll know more after tomorrow’s meeting”, Magnus answered.
“Sounds pretty cool”, Alec said, honestly. He was silent for a while, thinking. Magnus knew exactly what was about to happen.
Magnus was now working on this tv show, assisting the wardrobe department. Ragnor was getting him this gig in this movie he knew little about. Both were NOT in New York, obviously, because life couldn’t be that easy, you know?
“Uhhh, I have a book for you, wait”, Alec said cheerful. Of course he did. Magnus was only waiting for that.
They were at the bookstore, eating Lydia’s sinful muffins when Alec started walking around the maze that was the store.
He came back with a book in hand and gave it to Magnus.
“Jesus, I can’t even pronounce the name of the author”, he said as a joke that Alec didn’t find funny.
“Magnus, that’s not nice to say. And she is amazing- Svetlana Alexijevich is a writer everyone should give a chance to”, he emphasized.
Magnus was now holding “War Does Not Have a Woman's Face”. Talk about powerful titles.
“What is this about?”, Magnus asked.
Alec took a deep breathe. Oh-oh. Behold intense-book-lover-Alec once again:
“Hmm. Well, basically it is about women fighting for the Soviets during World War II. But it is about so much more than that. This author is so incredible. She show us all the particularities involved in women and wars when they were in the same context, like how it affected their lives, their beliefs, how they were so passionate and willing to go to extremes in order to defend the values they stood for. How their femininity was questioned by the paths their lives took with the conflict, you know? It also shows us how tough they are. How resilient. How powerful women can be. I think we usually forget that, which is an obvious mistake. But it also gives us just a human dimension, you know? How people can face the horror, the pain, the brutality in its worse. That’s not something exclusively masculine or feminine. We are people, we are capable of good and evil. And she can delineate all those different aspects of the human nature in such a raw display. Uhhh, is so difficult to read sometimes. I actually cried a couple of times, because honestly, you are kinda crying for mankind in a way. How awful can we be. And how amazing. It’s all in there. Oh, and there’s this story about this woman who…”
“Hey! Spoilers, Mister. No, thank you.”
“Oh, right, sorry. Well, yeah, anyway, if you are working on a project about women and wars and stuff, that’s definitely something to check out”.
“I don’t know if I AM working on that yet. We’ll see…”
“Of course you will. You’re the best. People are lucky to work with you, babe”, Alec said placing a kiss on Magnus’ hand.
Alec was trying to be a little more… relaxed and easy going around Magnus, like Izzy suggested more than once, remember? He could feel it working already. Because he had a lot more to say about the book, but you know… Alec was chill. Chiiiiiiiill.
The next night, when he went to Magnus’ place to spend the night and know about the meeting, his boyfriend was crying when he opened the door, holding a book.
“Alexander, why? Why do you keep giving me those freaking sad books? I’ll be dehydrated! I can’t stop crying!”
Alec was taken aback. He could see that Magnus already read more than half of the book. That was fast.
“Oh, and that story about the lady that cut the guy’s arm with her teeth, what the hell was that? What was that, Alexander? I don’t wanna work on that movie anymore”, he said sobbing.
Maybe he wasn’t so chill after all.
“No no no, babe. It’s ok, come here”, Alec said, still outside Magnus’ apartment. He hugged Magnus and finally, both of them went inside. They had to watch “Kung Fu Panda” to calm Magnus down (Hey, that’s a great movie, don’t you say ONE bad word about it. Magnus would kill you for that).
After a few days, even not being very happy about it, Magnus finished the book. And got the space-war-fighting-thing movie job.
Yay to that…
They had been together for months now. Many of them.
Magnus was working like crazy, like… always. War movie and magical creatures in a magical whatever land tv show. That was a handful right there.
Alec gave him another book.
“Alexander, dear, I’m so tired. Soooo tired. I don’t know if I’ll be able to read this”, Magnus said.
“I’m sure you’ll find the time. That’s exactly the point of this book”, he reassured Magnus. It was “Momo”, by Michael Ende.
“Is that the same guy from…”
“Neverending story? Yes, it is”, Alec said proudly.
“What’s with you and children’s book?”, Magnus looked at him in a funny way.
“It’s not a children’s book!!!! Didn’t you enjoy ‘Neverending…’? (Magnus made yes with his head). So, there you go. I think you need this now. Trust me. Trust my ‘book mojo’, ok?”, and Alec winked.
Magnus was lost for words when it came to those winks, and whatever. And whatever mojo Alec would throw at his direction, to be honest.
So when Magnus went away a few days later, he took “Momo” with him.
Now, here’s a secret: relationships. They are all wonderful and amazing but people usually forget that they take effort. They are hard even if you’re all for effort.
So, they were boyfriends and that was great, but Magnus was traveling more than Alec expected. Magnus was making a name for himself, and Alec was obviously so proud, but that also meant a lot of days without that wonderful man around him. A lot of days alone. Alec got a lot of messages and pictures during the day and they Facetime a lot, but it wasn’t the same. He was even missing their “wigs hunting” together. That was pure desperation.
One day he really missed Magnus and posted that on the Instagram account of his store:
“Sadness in heaven
In heaven also there is a melancholy hour
A difficult hour, when doubt invades the souls
Why did I make the world? God wonders
And answers: I did not know
The angels look at Him in disapproval and feathers fall
All the hypotheses
Grace, eternity, love, fall
They are feathers
One feather more, and heaven is undone
So quiet, no breaking noise tells
The moment between everything and nothing
That is, the sorrow of God”
It was from a Brazilian author and poet that a customer introduced him to: Carlos Drummond de Andrade.
Alec liked the guy quite a bit. And the feeling inside him right now matched that poem. “One feather more, and heaven is undone”. One more day without Magnus and he was undone for sure. There was no heaven and no salvation for him. He needed to share his life with Magnus fully by now.
Hmmm, what an interesting thought to have, no?
No. Too soon for something like that. They were not even living in the same city most of the time. Breathe, Alec, it will be fine. You’re not desperately in love. It’s okay.
“Wow, I’m so glad you’re not dramatic at all, Alec. And so subtle. What a cheerful post on Instagram!”, Lydia said showing her thumbs up.
“Shut up” was the only thing he managed to say.
So yeah, it was starting to get a little difficult. Because even when Magnus was in the same city as Alec, he still had a lot of meetings to go and work-related things to do because of the movie. Alec missed him. He just missed Magnus so freaking much.
<OMG. Momo. She’s the cutest.>
Alec was receiving those messages throughout the day…
<She is pure magic, Alec. She just brought out the best in people. She is just like you.>
Alec was melting. He was melting.
<OMG! Momo said No to the evil guy and his doll. I’m about to cry. Go Momo!>
Alec was laughing.
<Ok, I wanna marry her! I mean, she’s a kid, but you get it.>
When Alec read that he immediately thought “Don’t. Marry me”. But he just breathed again, and again, and again, and tried to stretch a bit in the middle of his store and dropped a pile of books, because the man was tall, let’s not forget. “Pillars of the Earth” were everywhere. “That’s ironic”, he thought, picking them up.
<Ok, that man can write, I’ll give you that>, Magnus sent and followed the message with a photo. From the book. A quote.
“Life holds one great but quite commonplace mystery. Though shared by each of us and known to all, seldom rates a second thought. That mystery, which most of us take for granted and never think twice about, is time. Calendars and clocks exist to measure time, but that signifies little because we all know that an hour can seem as eternity or pass in a flash, according to how we spend it.
Time is life itself, and life resides in the human heart.”
Life resides in the human heart. He knew what (or who) resides in his heart.
<I love you, Magnus.>
<Love you back, Alexander. heart emoji>
Alec was smiling at that. He posted that quote on Instagram next morning.
One night Alec made a surprise dinner for Magnus. His boyfriend was supposed to be back that night from another work trip and they were meeting at Alec’s apartment. Alec was almost bursting with anticipation. He was nervous all day.
He left his store under Lydia’s watch to - brace yourselves - buy a new shirt. A light pink one. I will repeat: a light pink one. That was a real color. He sent a picture to Izzy from the changing room of the store and she answered back with a F* word.
And then another message that we can’t share with you all but insinuated that a specific part of Magnus’ body must have magical powers, because shit. (Sorry, it is too much to handle.)
Alec didn’t reply to that, but it was a good reaction. He was headed in the right direction, he knew it. He was all for making an impression.
He cooked when he got home. He made salmon with asparagus (Oh, am I fancy or what?, he thought) and it smelled delicious. He set up the table with candles and opened the wine.
He decided to put some music on. Magnus liked Rihanna, so Alec was trying to find something from her to leave rolling in the background (especially now that “sexy back” was his ringtone, thanks to Izzy). “Sex with me”... Hmm, maybe for later. “Desperado” doesn’t seem good as well. “Hate that I love you”... Next. “S.O.S”. Nope. She had a song about some umbrella? What?
Alec, don’t judge. You read that Ian McEwan book with that weird unborn baby as the narrator. Really, let Riri sing about umbrellas and blazer jackets and whatever she wants. She knows what she’s doing.
Oh, here. “You Da One”. Seems appropriate, right? Yeah. Nice.
“Baby, I love you, I need you here
Give me all the time
Baby we meant to be
You got me, smiling all the time”
Jeez, Rihanna got him. Who knew? That was… very precise about his current situation.
Riri was really for the win.
So everything was almost done and ready. Only one piece missing now.
He should be here by now, no? Alec waited. 15 minutes. 30 minutes.
Alec was worried now. Did something happen? Magnus wasn’t picking up his phone (of all days…!). You know what? That’s why he avoided colors. They just... created this unbalance in the Force or something (Simon’s influence on Alec was increasingly noticeable by the second, but Alec ignored that). He was unsure and a bit scared.
He ate the cold salmon. It seemed tasteless.
His apartment was silent. No more Riri. He was worried. But also insecure. Was that a sign? It must be, right? Magnus wasn’t here. Again.
He blew out all the candles. Undressed from that ridiculous pink abomination he was wearing. And he took a shower after he put away the little velvety box he was saving for that night.
It was their first anniversary.
Alec went to sleep alone.
In Toronto, Magnus had a cell phone with a discharged battery and a delayed flight. He hated life right now.
Magnus was there the next morning, waiting for Alec in front of his store. He managed to book another flight, but he knew he ruined things already. And when he got home and went for a shower, he got metaphorically hit in the face when his cell phone, charging next to his bed, reminded him of their anniversary. That he forgot about. Completely.
He told himself numerous times that he would never forget such an important date, and he rarely did such a thing. But it was a rare thing for him to be so exhausted. His head was full of astronauts and magical creatures, and it was quite difficult to keep up. Even Clary was struggling to keep things in order. Maybe Magnus needed an assistant to his assistant.
And now he not only felt tired and terrible. He wanted to hide from embarrassment and never face Alec again. How could he?
But he was a brave man. He should be brave like Momo. The girl had the power to make people speak their truth. He must do that now, speak his truth and his regret.
Alec gave him a little smile when he saw Magnus in front of his store that early.
“So you’re not dead”, he said, before giving a quick kiss on his boyfriend’s lips.
“I feel like I am. But I’m not. Alexander, I’m so sorry about last night, my flight was super delayed and I managed to get another one, but my phone ran out of…”
“It’s ok, Magnus. It’s not a big deal”, he said unlocking the store and coming inside, followed by Magnus. The costume designer was silent for a while, enjoying the fact that he was inside the store he loved so much. It was a piece of himself now as much as it was Alec’s.
“I’ll make it up to you, I promise… it was our anniversary”, and Magnus had a defeated countenance that moved Alec a little bit when he turned around to see his boyfriend’s face.
“It’s okay, my love. I was just expecting you to come home to me. But now you’re here, right? That’s all that matters”, Alec said, kissing Magnus deeply now. “Happy one year, my love”.
“Happy one year, Alexander”.
Alec was so understanding.
That night Magnus went to Alec’s. They ate the leftovers from the previous night (“Did you have this waiting for me?” “Pfff, no… I was just in the mood for salmon, that’s all” “Right…”) and made love to each other. Magnus poured himself on top of Alec’s chest like his boyfriend requested when he reached his climax.
It was a good night.
But, during the whole thing, Alec never reached out for that little velvet box he kept in his dresser now.
Magnus Bane was always an eccentric kid. In other people’s eyes. The truth is that Magnus Bane was and always would be… himself. That’s it. He was unapologetically himself. And that shouldn’t be something special in any way, because it was something all of us should do: just be ourselves. But living in a world like ours, that was quite an outrageous act. A brave one. Isn't it ridiculous to say that? That it is brave to be you?
But again, living in a world like ours, it was.
He was never an understood child in his home, with his family. He had so many different interests… So many things spoke to his heart. So many people. He wasn't interested in labels, in standards, in “the correct or supposed way to be or live”. He was attracted to feelings, to beauty, to emotions and connections. That was his motor in life.
Something that his parents didn’t understand. Or support.
He discovered soon in life that love was conditional. It asked for a price. It wasn’t free of charge like he thought.
He left his house the minute he could.
“We should not stay in a place that has no room for love.”
He hadn’t given up on the feeling, he was just… more careful about it. Not getting the acceptance from the people that should protect you from that exact, horrible feeling, they were now provoking on you, was a hard thing to handle, and a difficult situation to process.
He told himself he wasn't closed to it. He still believed.
But he didn't. Not entirely anyway.
Since then, he chose the ones that could get to know him, like Cat and Ragnor, that never judged him in any way. But a part of the beauty of the world, and especially of people, faded from his eyes.
His relationships weren’t helping him to change that either. He tried to maintain a serious status with a few souls, all in vain. With Camille, the last one, he wasn’t interested from the beginning. She was beautiful but empty, and he could see that a mile away. Like her soul was on permanent vacation. Never there. An empty shell. He didn’t make an effort, he knew that. It got to the point where not even she was supporting the situation anymore. She broke things off. His life was the same with or without her, that’s how little all that meant to him. He was trying to see beauty and find new connections through new passions. Passions that could not hurt him and would show the world, instead, the beauty he held inside all this time.
Until someone saw him. It happened.
Someone was seeing him. Like in that tale, “The Emperor’s new clothes” (he loves that story! Hmm, can we consider that a fashion related book?): someone was finally seeing behind the act. Behind the mask. The invisible fabric all gone. His unapologetically true self was out again. It was pulled out by that person. It wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. He freaked out at first.
That person gave him time and space and beautiful words, for Magnus to build something new from. Something reassuring.
He liked that.
But, unfortunately, for Magnus, even places that have room for love leave a window open sometimes, a crack. And a little of that warm starts to fade away.
Coldness was about to settle in.
To be completely fair, it had started already.
“Oh, you must really want to feel miserable and dead. I'm so sorry”, Alec said, like he was grieving.
The man in front of him was getting… well, nothing from that comment. “What was that?”
“Sorry. Dostoyevsky. That’s a tough one to read, you know? You will possibly feel like you wanna die at some point”, Alec said holding a copy of “Crime and Punishment” the man was trying to buy that afternoon.
“Oh, right. People warned me about that. I think I'm prepared”, he said confidently.
“I really think you're not”, Alec said amused.
“To be honest, I don't know how I feel about the Russians. They are always so intense…”
“Oh my God, I feel the same”, Alec answered back, excited. “I read Turgueniev and I still don't know how I feel about it. But trust me on this, Dostoyevsky will end you. End you.”
“Ok, now I'm really worried. I need to survive this, I'm planning to read only classics this year. Thomas Mann should be next.”
“Another tough author. I can only wish you good luck on your journey”, Alec said, putting the book in a bag. He continued: “What else do you have in that list of yours? Elias Canetti, I hope (actually, yes, the man nodded). And what about Austen?”
“You mean Jane? Jane Austen, are you serious?”
“I'm sorry. If you're going to read classics and Jane’s work is not on your list, I can't take you seriously”. Alec was slightly offended.
“Wasn't it Mark Twain who said that a respectable library shouldn't have Jane Austen in it, or something like that?”
“Yeah. Do you see me selling Mark Twain in here?”
“Oh, tell me you're kidding!”, the man was shocked.
“Go ahead and take a look. I dare you.”
So the man did. And after 15 minutes he couldn't find a single copy of Mark Twain anywhere inside that bookstore.
But to be fair, Alec was the only one who could find books in there in a respectable amount of time, so…
“I can't believe you.”
“Thank you for that. But I'm a faithful man, you see”, Alec said placing a hand on his chest.
“Ok. So… I should read Austen, is that it?”
“Obviously. In fact, here’s what you should do: read ‘Crime and Punishment’, then (Alec was now bent behind the counter, looking for something. He found it)... Then read this: ‘White nights’. It is a story also written by Dostoyevsky. It is lovely in his own way, I think. It is his approach to a more… ‘romantic’ view on life. I think it will help you. And then you read Austen. With that, your soul will be restored, trust me.”
The man accepted all those recommendations and paid for all the books.
“Ok, thanks. I’m sure to come back here to tell you how it went”, he said.
“Please, do that. I would love to know if my little recipe in fact worked”, Alec said jokingly.
“By the way, I’m Raj.”
“Alec, nice to meet you.”
They shook hands and the man left.
Chapter 5: Sunset
[5 months before “That night”]
Approximately a month went by until Alec saw Raj again. The man went inside the bookstore a little unsure.
Alec actually mentioned Raj to Magnus the day the man showed up at his store.
“Can you believe a man today was going to read ‘Crime and Punishment’ thinking it wouldn’t affect him at all? What an innocent soul, hahah”.
Magnus hadn’t paid much attention to that, since Alec made remarks about books, well, pretty much all the time.
“Heeeey! You're back. And alive. So I can assume it all went well”, Alec said, putting his cell phone down to pay attention to the customer.
“Hey, yeah... hmmm. Not so well...” the man sighed and admitted, “I couldn't finish it”.
“What?”, Alec wasn't following.
“‘Crime and Punishment’, I couldn't finish it.”
Alec was holding a laughter by now.
“It was… too hard. Not the reading itself, but the feelings. The sensations. I was getting depressed. It was too much. So I did like Joey Tribbiani and…”
“Joey Tribbiani as in Friends’ Joey Tribbiani?”
“Of course. There's this episode in which he is reading ‘Little Women’ and it gets too much. So he puts that book in his freezer, to stop the narrative. Isn’t that brilliant?”
Maybe brilliant was not the word Alec was thinking, but ok.
“So you’re telling me that you put Dostoyevsky in your freezer?”
That conversation was weird. Alec needed some coffee to follow that.
“Yes. Metaphorically, but yes. I just stopped. I wasn't… dealing with it in a healthy way, I guess”.
“So…”, Alec tried to say the man’s name, his eyebrows frowning. What was it again?
“Right! So, Raj, are you saying that…”
“You were right, I wasn't prepared.”
Triumph always sounds good at that hour of the morning.
“And what about the other readings? Did you give them a chance?”
“Actually, yes. I really liked ‘White nights’, it's a bit sad but bearable. Now. That friend of yours…”
Alec was laughing.
“Yes! Are you kidding me? That Mr. Darcy guy would never exist. That's why so many people have unrealistic expectations about relationships, you know?”
Alec was laughing more now. When Magnus went away, before they were together, Alec prepared him a bag full of books, “Pride and Prejudice” among several other titles. The little note that he wrote for Austen’s work talked exactly about that: unrealistic expectations about people. The fact that Raj pointed out the same thing made him smile.
“Yeah, I get where this comes from. In a way it is a bit unrealistic. But also… it's not. Don’t you think love can be such a powerful force that can make people do outrageous things? Go way beyond their limits? As someone who experienced those things myself, I can assure you… the actions she describes are closer to reality then they are from fiction”, Alec said, remembering Magnus on his knee in front of the bookstore.
He felt warm inside.
Oh, Raj was now complaining about some things in the story. Alec was firing back, justifying the actions of both Mr. Darcy and Lizzie. Wasn’t it amazing that both characters had to let go of their previous beliefs and preconceived ideas in order to be together? That, my friends, is another example of leap of faith, just saying.
Raj was there for over an hour.
“Well, that was… enlightening. I'll take your words into consideration regarding Austen because apparently, you know what you're talking about”.
“I sure do, trust me”, Alec said in the most humble way he could say something like that.
“I'll make sure to come back so we can discuss other books”, Raj said, showing he was about to leave.
“My doors are always open.”
Raj smiled and left.
“Was that dude talking shit about my dear Lizzie Bennett?”
Oh, Lydia. Lydia was one of those readers really obsessed with Austen. She went to Bath (in England) more than once to visit the writer’s former home.
“Because if that's the case, I think you should forbid him from coming here ever again”, she said very seriously.
“Can you calm down? The man is learning, it's not his fault.”
“Right… and you're the one who's gonna teach him?”
“I don't know. Maybe he’ll never come back”.
“Yeah. Because the way he was looking at you surely said he was never coming back. You know what, next time he’s here, I think I will accidentally slap him. Just for the fun of it”.
“How can you ‘accidentally’ slap someone? Lyds!”
But she was heading to her coffee area already, ignoring him, as always.
Of course, Alec was wrong and Raj came back.
A lot of times.
The guy works at a bank, but despite the fact that he was surrounded by numbers and contracts all day, books were a passion to which he dedicated himself quite seriously. But Alec had a few problems with him. First and most important of all, Raj didn’t like poetry. Say what? Are you freaking serious now?
“Don’t you like… I don’t know, Keats? Shelly? Emerson? Poe? Pessoa?”
The man just shook his head. Nope to all of that.
Raj must be dead inside. What a sad life to live.
“Not even… Neruda?”, he asked a bit afraid. That was a personal territory.
“Never read a line from him”.
Alec was offended on a new level for sure. On the other hand, Neruda was like family. Like a familiar person. Someone who knew your soul from just one glance at you. Alec wasn’t ready to give Neruda to anyone. It was his. It was his and his boyfriend’s.
“But I see you really like the guy”, Raj said pointing to the poem hung on Alec’s wall. Alec turned around to face the text like he was caught naked. The poem was there, sure, but it was involved in a private atmosphere, behind this imaginary curtain. It was a dear memory. It was a piece of Alec now. He had flashbacks of his first night with Magnus immediately: the man surrendering, moaning, trying to keep his balance when the ecstasy was so close, the man receiving Alec and accepting his love, Alec biting Magnus’ neck when he regained a steady breath, the salty kiss that followed. And most important, the way Magnus looked at him. Like Magnus’ eyes were made of bliss and disbelief that something like that could actually happen. It was excitement and shock and joy, all at once. And love. Love overpowering everything else. Alec could feel all those feelings back at that moment, running through his body like an electric current keeping him alive. And alert.
Alec was a simple man. He enjoyed simple things in life. Family. Books. Hot chocolate in the winter time (ok, any time). Neruda. You know, the basics. However, there was something else that he actually adored: to live a moment of pure happiness and joy and be aware of the uniqueness of that moment while he lived it. Alec had had a few moments like this, when he felt like he was truly alive and aware of everything when he felt connected with everything around him and everyone alive. He was filled with life. With the vital energy itself. He just felt it. Awareness on a different level. And he was always thankful to be alive on all those occasions. He actually believed it was for those moments that he breathed at all.
Being with Magnus that night was one of those moments.
Pure awareness. Pure acknowledgment and pure gratefulness.
He was alive.
He heard a noise behind him. Oh shit, Raj was still there, right? Oh shit, was he caressing the poem with his hand while walking through memory lane?
Alec was facing Raj again.
“Hey, sorry. Hmmm…”, yeah, Alec, keep trying.
“Well, you definitely like the guy”, Raj said laughing.
“I’m sorry, Raj, I’m ridiculous. It’s just… - deep sigh - Yeah, it means a lot to me. Neruda. And this poem in particular, so…”
“You think I should give him a try?”, the man asked.
Alec didn’t hesitate.
“Maybe you should start with something else… Like… Milton?”, he asked, in panic.
Raj was just looking at him.
Milton had one of Alec’s favorite quotes, from “Paradise Lost”. He also posted that on Insta after he started dating Magnus:
“Freely we serve
Because we freely love, as in our will
To love or not; in this we stand or fall”
It was about love. For Alec, it was about how love was not only a choice, but also an action, and how the choice of love, an aware one, magnifies you.
Or breaks you.
“Are you ok?”
“What do you mean? I’m great.”
“You don’t seem great, but if you say so…”
It was almost closing time for Alec at his store. He sent a message to Magnus just to say he misses him deeply. And he was staring his phone for the past 16 minutes (not that he was counting) waiting for a reply. And then there was Raj, who went there after his work was done at the bank.
“No, I just.”
That was all Alec said.
“Problems with your lady?”, Raj asked in a casual tone.
“Boyfriend, actually. And no, no problem, just. Don’t know, he travels a lot and I kinda miss him. And I know he loves me, I just... Am I pathetic? I am, I know. I’m pathetic. Look at me…”
Raj was, in fact, looking at Alec a little too happy if we are narrating facts correctly here. But Alec was feeling like too much of a loser to notice.
“You know what, I think, and here is just an idea, but I was thinking about you the other day, I mean, your business, your store, books, you know, books, anyway, you should host events here”. Man, Raj was a mess. Get yourself together, buddy.
It was Alec’s turn to look at the other man.
“Events? Like what?”
“You know, like book signing and book launches and stuff related to that. It would bring promotion to your store and keep you busy at nights. So you would get distracted and look less like a lost puppy.”
“I do not look like a lost puppy. I have an intellectual pres…”
“Whatever, - he did a hand movement discarding that idea - I never thought about that, but it might be a good thing to try. I’d have to rearrange a few things in here to get space and some chairs to fit in here and all (he was facing the space in front of him inside the store), but it might work. Yeah, I will definitely think about it. Thanks, Raj”.
“No problem, Alec. I’m your friend, I’m here to help, I hope you know that”, he said sheepishly.
What a good friend. Alec was happy about that.
Izzy, Simon, and Jace were there to help Alec with his first event at the bookstore. He contacted a few publishers and booked an autograph evening with a new author. Jane Villanueva.
Alec was really nervous, but Magnus had reassured him over the phone quite a few times now that everything would be great. Magnus was thrilled with the idea and was sad to miss it, but he was trying to show his support any way he could.
The gang was there to help Alec with the settings.
“Alec, this was such a great idea. I can’t believe you’re actually exposing yourself, that makes me so happy. Magnus is really changing you”, Izzy said, really proud, moving a chair.
“Oh, that wasn’t Magnus idea. He’s not involved with this directly. It was my friend who suggested to…”
Izzy’s spidey-sense went through the roof in a second.
“What friend? You don’t have any friends that I don’t know about”, she said holding the chair in the air now.
Was she about to throw that at him?
“Izzy, please put the chair down first. (She did. “Sorry”) And he will be here anyway, he promised me. So you will meet him”, Alec answered with a little smile.
Izzy, the owner of the Malec ship, didn’t like this one bit.
Jane, the author, arrived a while after that. They had a table for snacks and beverages for the guests and a table for her to sign her books. She was also going to read the first chapter of her novel and was quite nervous about it, but Alec was happy to distract her talking about the topic they had in common.
Alec sent his magic her way and she was calm just a few minutes after they engaged in a conversation about “Half of a yellow sun”.
People started to arrive and Alec was beyond happy. The event began and Jane was kind enough to thank Alec for the opportunity and for opening his doors to newcomers and for nourishing a much-needed love and appreciation for the printed words, just like she did.
The bookstore was full of people and she started to read her own words to them.
Alec was next to Jane’s table in case she needed anything.
That’s how he saw when Raj entered the store, late, but with excitement in his eyes. He was happy for Alec, and Alec was thankful for Raj’s idea. They just made a head movement to each other and Raj stood in the back of the store. Izzy saw all that. That woman was a hawk.
The event lasted longer than Alec expected, but writing your own name in a lot of books could take a while. He had to wait for everyone to get out, then say goodbye to Jane. Raj was next to them at this point:
“I think this deserves to be registered for posterity, don’t you agree?”
He was holding his cellphone at their faces. Jane was more than excited to take a picture with Alec. Raj took a few pics of them.
She went away shortly after, thanking Alec again for the opportunity.
Alec looked at Raj smiling.
“I think the person responsible for all this also deserves a photo”, Alec said in an attempt of showing his appreciation for Raj’s assistance.
Raj was next to him in no time and took a selfie of them.
Alec was really happy about the evening and for Raj, to be honest. It was good to have someone so supportive around.
“I need your phone number to send it to you”, Raj said.
“Oh, right”, Alec said, starting to tell his phone number to the other man.
“You know, next time you should announce the event on your Instagram before it happens, so people can come”, said a really happy Raj.
“Yeah, I completely forgot about that. Next time, I guess”.
Alec’s phone buzzed. Maybe Magnus was asking about the night and…
It was Raj’s photos, of course.
“Hello, I don't think we've been introduced yet. I'm Isabelle Lightwood, Alec’s dashing sister”, Izzy said offering her hand to Raj. She almost said that she was also captain of the Malec ship, but she held herself back.
“You can call her Izzy”, Alec said.
“I prefer Isabelle, actually. Such a pretty name, don't you think, Mister…”
“Raj. Sorry - he was shaking her hand -, I’m Alec’s friend, I don't know if he mentioned me before, but…”
“No, not really”.
“Izzy! Yes, I did. Raj was the one who gave me the idea of doing this, which was awesome, by the way. Thanks again, Raj”, Alec was smiling.
Izzy wanted to punch the guy right there. Not only the guy did help Alec, he wasn't ugly. In fact, you could see through his shirt that he worked out. And if he was there, he must like those crappy books just like Alec, right?
Okay. Raj is now officially Malec’s public enemy #1.
Because let’s keep it real. Alec could have “book mojo” or whatever he wants to call it, but Izzy… Izzy had “life mojo”. She always knew what’s going on. Always. It was “mojo” in its purest form. You can’t beat that.
Izzy was talking to the guy, to see what else she could find out, while Alec was posting the photos on his Instagram account.
The caption said: “Some photos to celebrate the people who made this awesome night possible”. #booklover #booksigning #janevillanueva
The first one was a photo of him and Jane, smiling, next to each other.
The second one was a photo of him and Raj, laughing. Raj had one hand on Alec’s shoulder.
It was the first time Alec posted a picture of himself on that account.
Alec ran to pick his phone up, hoping it was a message from Magnus. He was disappointed when he saw it wasn’t.
<Hey>, he typed back at Raj.
No, not busy. Unless feeling miserable and missing his boyfriend in the morning could be called “being busy”.
Alec now had to admit to himself that he was practically having a long distance relationship with Magnus, since they spent so little time together in the same city. Alec just… felt left behind. He hated this. He wanted cuddles. Morning sex. Reading to Magnus in bed. To wait for his boyfriend to show up at his home at the end of a long day and just chill. Sex. Morning sex. Afternoon sex. Whatever sex. He was indeed a bit worried about his hand at this point. And Magnus was an impossible person to replace in that department (not only that), so…
<Wanna go for a run?>
Alec was in no mood for that, to be honest. But he was also tired of sitting around feeling hollow (no pun here). So…
<Sure. Meet you in 30’?>
<Just tell me where and I’ll be there.”
Running is not something that he was used to doing, but Raj kept telling him what a good activity it is for stress relief. Alec would rather do another activity that released his stress. With Magnus. But the man had to delay his flight to NY again for a week, so running it is.
30 minutes later he met Raj at the park. Unlike Alec, Raj loves running and had a training schedule. He ran in different competitions all over the States and had done marathons already. The man knew what he was doing. Alec was worried because on the few occasions he did run (he was just walking a bit faster, to be honest), it was for fun or to put his body in motion, not for… actual running.
After they started, Alec was trying to keep up, but it was hard. Raj noticed that. He slowed his pace down and enjoyed Alec’s company and the view around them.
“I’m sorry for keeping you running like an old man with me, I’m not so used to this”, Alec said when they were almost stopping and finishing the training for the day.
“It’s okay. Having someone to run together with is always a pleasure”, he said and smiled at Alec.
They did 10k, which was a lot of Ks... and Alec felt like a truck hit him when they stopped. His legs were sore and he tried to massage them a little.
“Oh, don’t worry, it will be worse tomorrow. You won’t be able to walk”, a remark by Raj that made Alec remember once again about his other activity with Magnus and… he was blushing. Raj pretended he didn’t notice that.
“I’ll buy a bottle of water, ok? You can wait here”, Raj said.
Alec sat on the grass, it was difficult to breathe. His shirt was sweaty and pressed against his body. Against all better judgment, he took it off and laid himself on the ground.
When Raj came back, he took a second to speak.
“What you’re doing? You ok?”
“I’m gonna die.”
“No, you won’t. Just feels like it. Here, I got you a bottle. Drink it, but slowly”.
Alec was sitting on the grass now, enjoying this miracle liquid that prevented his death.
Raj was now inserting the info about this training on this cell phone.
“You do that every time you run?”
“Yeah. I have to, to follow up my performance and my pacing and all…”. He was done and then: “Ok, picture time”. He opened his Instagram and was ready to get a picture of both of them.
“What are you doing?”, Alec asked.
“Oh, I do this to show my trainer that I did my work out or my run like I’m supposed to”, he said laughing. “My trainer has trust issues apparently. Is it okay for you?”
It was okay, right? It was harmless. They just ran together, it was NOT a big deal. It was nice to go out and have someone other than his family to do something with. Raj was nice. It was okay. And Alec didn’t have a personal Instagram account, he only did the one for his store to promote his business.
Sure, why not. Picture time.
So Raj gave his phone to Alec because “you’re a real-life selfie stick, c’mon” and Alec took their photo.
Raj tagged Alec’s bookstore profile since the man didn’t have one of his own.
Alec and Magnus had a fight about this photo in particular.
Magnus was really surprised when he got to his apartment - in Canada - and saw Alec sitting on the floor, close to the door. A duffel bag near him. When they saw each other they smiled immediately.
“I can’t believe my eyes. What are you doing here?”, Magnus asked, getting close to Alec, who stood up and when to his boyfriend, kissing him deeply.
“Surprise”, he whispered when they broke apart. “Do you like it?”
Alec was there to surprise his boyfriend. Was that a desperate move, Alec? No, a cute one. Definitely a cute one. (He didn’t tell anyone, but he was still keeping his imaginary score occasionally, and he felt that he needed a little win in his life now. So, surprise it is.)
“Of course I do. I can’t believe you’re actually here”, Magnus said holding Alec, like he had created the man with his mind and was afraid the illusion would fade away at any minute. But it didn’t. Alec was actually there, in his hallway, to spend a whole week with him. Was it heaven or what?
“I’m so happy you’re here, I have so much to show you. You gotta meet everybody from the show, they are so -”, but Alec interrupted him.
“Babe, I would love to do that. But right now I know exactly what I wanna see”, he said, kissing Magnus again, one hand behind the man’s neck, the other on his back, to bring him closer. Magnus moaned a bit when he felt Alec’s tongue sliding against his, the warmth they were both sharing, the anxiety, the anticipation. Not a promise, a reality.
Magnus quickly opened the door when they caught their breaths, entering the apartment. Alec picked up his duffel bag from the ground and threw it somewhere inside the apartment, he wasn’t paying attention. He had only eyes for Magnus. The man was all he could see. He closed the door with his foot and went straight to grab his man. Alec was glued to those lips once again and it was heaven on earth. He placed one hand on Magnus’ neck, the other going to the front of Magnus’ pants, where it found a nice place to stay and play around. Magnus was a bit surprised, but at the same time, he knew how Alec was straightforward in the sex department. He liked that.
With both hands, Alec unzipped Magnus’ pants, while kissing the man, and freed him from his underwear, enough to give Alec the access he needed. Alec stopped the kisses and knelt before his boyfriend, pleased with the view. He engulfed Magnus at once, making the man throw his head back instantly, eyes closed, moaning loudly.
Alec was trying to make eye contact as much as he could when Magnus looked down at him. Giving his boyfriend this much pleasure was one of the things that turned on Alec the most. He loved it.
He took his time, but it was difficult. He was... a bit eager? Alec, can you calm down for a second? You don’t have to physically eat the man alive, you know? And you will need that later, so…
Naaahhh, he didn’t care. He needed Magnus. Now.
“Alexander, I will…”
Alec just made an “uhum” that sent shivers through Magnus’ body. Alec was faster and deeper. He wanted this. All of it. His wish was granted seconds later, when Magnus released himself in Alec’s mouth. Magnus was holding Alec’s shoulders to be steady. Alec was focused in getting his man clean, which he gladly did. When he stood up again, his lips were wet and swallowed. He was smiling at Magnus, who was still catching his breath.
“Alexander that was…”
“Not the end, I’m afraid”, he said smiling. Alec kissed Magnus quickly and asked for the bedroom, where they went next.
In the morning, Magnus was laying on Alec’s chest. It was really early, but Alec was awake already, admiring Magnus’ figure, his fingers, his back, the hand placed on top of his chest. He sniffed his boyfriend’s hair just a little (how could he resist?) and suddenly we has murmuring, like some ancient prayer he knew:
“Here I love you.
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.
The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.
Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.
Here I love you.”
Magnus opened his eyes slowly, listening to what seemed like a rambling, and then Alec’s voice reaching out to him, bringing him to the light.
Alec’s voice became a bit melancholic while he caressed Magnus’ hair:
“Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far….”
Magnus moved, lifting his head up and looking at Alec:
“No, dear, I’m here With you. Now. And that’s all that matters.”
Alec and Magnus were in Mags’ apartment watching “Marie Antoinette”, by Sofia Coppola, enjoying their time together. Alec was about to leave to NY.
Magnus loves this movie. Look at those dresses, and the makeup. And those wigs! Oh, he was in love with those wigs!
“You know, I can get us a wig like that if you want… to dress up and all”, he said playful to Alec.
Magnus was laying in Alec’s chest, they were hugging each other.
“You don’t need any of that to turn me on, you know that”, Alec replied. “You are enough just the way you are”. Magnus giggled a little and turn his head to Alec, kissing him.
They were in silence again.
Suddenly, Alec said, low voice:
“I miss this. I miss you”.
Oh, crap, Alec’s going to miss the pair of All Star’s in the middle of all those other shoes in the movie. Okay, they can watch that again later. Magnus was sitting next to Alec now. He was caressing his boyfriend’s face.
“I miss you too, babe”.
“I just… I really miss you, Mags. I know I’m sounding needy and all, but I don’t care. I just miss you. Having you with me everyday, I want that. I want you with me. I just…”
And Alec buried his face in Magnus’ neck. The costume designer wasn’t expecting any of this. Is everything okay?
Alec, don’t freak the man out. But crap, those feelings were surfacing now.
“Alexander, are you okay? You know you can talk to me, right? About whatever you want or need. Talk to me.”
Alec took a deep breath. And he detached himself from Magnus’s neck, just sitting still next to the man, intertwining their hands.
“I know I’m being stupid. And that you are working and all, but you have this amazing job and you’re always surrounded by amazing people all the time, you have this part of your life that is fancy and glamorous and I just… I’m just me. Not doing much. With books around me all day and, maybe I’m just pathetic, Mags, sorry”.
“Hey, you don’t need to say sorry for telling me how you feel.”
“It’s just that I love you so much. Like so fucking much it hurts. And I’m feeling so alone all the time. Those 2 weeks you spend with me every now and then are not nearly enough, Mags. I need more. I need you with me. I was okay with my life before, I had my siblings. My store. It was a miracle to find Lydia, honestly. But with you there is colour now. You know? There’s something else. And sometimes I think it’s too much. And…”
“Hey, hey, hey. You have nothing to worry about, Alexander. I love you too and, trust me, I’m feeling exactly the way you are. But this whole thing will be temporary. And I don’t know what was that about a glamorous life. Who cares about that if I get to have you? That is the best, fanciest, most glamorous thing about my life now, you know?”
Alec nodded. He was a bit emotional.
Alec always showed himself a confident man in their relationship. But Magnus could feel that things were starting to change a bit. Maybe the distance was affecting Alec more than he imagined. Should he be worried?
Magnus got closer, he lifted Alec’s head and looked straight into his eyes:
”You still are the light that plays with my universe”.
Alec smiled widely. Their lips met, greedy tongues colliding together, the movie long forgotten.
Magnus woke up suddenly. Alone. In his Canadian home. Alec was long gone now, back to NY.
He was sweaty and his pjs were glued to his body. He had a nightmare. Another one.
That wasn’t something that used to happen to him, well, not since he left his parent’s house, actually, but now they were back.
He just finish reading “Catcher in the rye”, another recommendation by Alec because, yes, you guessed correctly, “it was one of his favorite books”. Like Alec said, Magnus indeed found the book quite funny sometimes. Holden was hilarious, even going through that painful process called growing up.
Magnus was dreaming about Alec. Suddenly they were in this field, near a cliff. Magnus was running in that direction, freely, he was running to meet Alec on the edge. But something happened, he didn’t know what. He was falling now, Alec was just looking at him, trying to catch him, in vain. Alec turned into a silhouette, a ghost, a shadow, smaller by the second. Magnus was just falling, alone, into the nothingness that was all over him, swallowing him. He was falling like Alice, but instead of reaching this new world at the end, he felt like he would only hit that. The end.
Magnus didn’t like that. He felt hollow.
He left his bed. He went to his living room to calm himself down. He drank some water. He put some music on.
Riri, of course. Who else?
He loves Queen B, don’t get him wrong. But Riri was different for him. He felt like she knew him, like she would guide him through rough times, like he shared her pain and, with that, her words brought some wisdom that speak directly to his heart.
He was listening to “Stay”:
“Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
It takes me all the way
I want you to staaaaaaay
It's not much of a life you're living
It's not just something you take it's given”
He took a photo of his cats and put those lines as the caption on his Instagram account.
A few hours later, Alec wrote to him:
<Are you okay?>
<Why do you ask?>
<Yes, everything great. Just insomnia. All good now.>
<Ok. Love you.>
<Love you too.>
But they didn’t speak to each other for the rest of the day.
It was Magnus’ turn to visit Alec again. He would be in town for two weeks and Alec could cry of happiness. He almost did when he went to pick his boyfriend up at the airport. They kissed and walked out of there hand in hand.
Yes, they were fighting occasionally. Maybe “fight” is not the right term. They were… disagreeing a lot, especially regarding two topics that seemed to sum up their relationship now: Magnus’ absence and Raj’s presence. Alec was running with the man every Sunday that Magnus wasn’t in town. Sometimes on Saturday too. Raj was always with Alec when he had an event at his bookstore. The man didn’t have a life of his own to take care of? Magnus was less and less happy about that situation.
He was dealing with a crazy schedule as well, so… Their relationship now was less about books and photos (Magnus was getting less and less ‘book mojo’ from Alec, which annoyed him to no end) and more about discussions and occasional accusations. Magnus was trying hard to remind himself that those things happened because they were both frustrated from being apart so much and for so long. It was a fight that came from love. Right? He didn’t know if he believed that was a real thing.
But now Magnus would spend two weeks with Alec and, well, that would put things to the test.
The first three days they spent at Alec’s place catching up in the love making department. They never left that place during that time, enjoying the bed, the shower, the couch, and even once the kitchen counter when Alec needed support from Magnus’ activity on him.
After that, Izzy demanded their presence in more outdoor situations. She threatened to use her whip on them, which Magnus thought it was funny, unlike Alec. It was Saturday night, they were at Izzy’s place having movie night. Clary was sleeping in Jace’s lap (yes, they were an item now) since she was Magnus’ assistant and she was travelling as much as he was and she was still tired. Izzy tried to cook them chicken, which lead them to order chinese food. Simon was comforting her because of another failed cooking attempt.
Alec and Magnus were sitting on the couch, drinking wine and talking. Alec’s phone buzzed.
“Oh, Raj wants to run tomorrow morning…”, Alec said. Magnus and Izzy shared a look. “Do you wanna come, babe? Then you can finally meet each other, how does that sound?”, Alec asked.
Honestly? Sounds awful. Magnus had those really short windows of time to spare with Alec and he has to waste them with this Raj guy? Really? Raj can fuc…
“Sure, sounds awesome”, Magnus answered back smiling. Izzy rolled her eyes. Those Lightwood genes.
The next morning, at an inhuman hour to be up, they were in the park waiting for Raj. To run. Who does that? That’s stupid. Staying in bed, cuddling, is a much a better thing to do. Anything is “a much better thing to do” than this, let’s be serious here.
Raj appeared a few minutes after them. Damn it, Raj had broad shoulders. He was not… ugly. Not that Magnus was jealous or anything. The man hugged Alec, which demanded Magnus all his will power not to hit him in the face. Do they need to do that?
“Raj, this is my boyfriend, Magnus Bane”. “Hey, nice to meet you”, he said shaking Magnus’ hand. No hug for Mags. Noted that.
“Wow, now I get why you miss him so much, if I would be dating him, I would miss him too”, Raj said and he winked at Magnus, who frowned. He knows he’s good-looking, he doesn’t need this loser to remind him of that, thank you. But Alec said “Yeah”, and kissed Magnus, a tender brush on his lips. Hmmm, ok, thank you for that, Raj. But still…
Magnus decided to give this whole thing a chance. The things we do for love...
“We will go slow, since Alec told me you’re not much of a runner. If you need a break you just need to tell us and we’ll slow down or stop if you need it. I also brought water, since Alec is always about to faint at the end, so if you need that too, just say it, okay?”. Raj said with all seriousness. Magnus ignored that ‘Alec is always’ part, because he didn’t need to think of his boyfriend ‘always’ running with Raj. And c’mon, how hard can this be? They were running, it’s like walking. But faster. Child’s play.
20 minutes later, Magnus was fighting for his life. That crap was hard to do, his clothes were itchy and he couldn’t breath. His legs were made of cement and he couldn’t move another inch. People must be crazy to do this on a regular basis. He was about to pass out.
“Babe, are you alright?”. Alec was looking at him with worry in his eyes.
“I’m... fine… Alex… ander…”. Why his boyfriend had such a long name? Jeez. “You can… go on. I’ll… catch… up… you… minute”, was all he could say.
“Are you sure?”, Alec asked one more time. Magnus just nodded and after that Alec and Raj were running ahead of Magnus, leaving the man behind.
Was this for real? He was dying. Freaking dying. And Alec was running side by side with this generic Usain Bolt. C’mon now, Alec, be smarter, could you?
Magnus had to sit on the ground, he was sure he was saying goodbye to life right then. He could feel his soul leaving his body to find a fluffy cloud in heaven to rest upon (maybe a golden one?), when Alec appeared in front of him minutes later.
“Magnus! You’re not okay! Why haven’t you told me?”. Wow, Alec could really be a Sherlock. “Alec, of course I’m not okay. It’s freaking early and although you in zebra leggings is a big turn on for me, I can’t do this. I hate this. I hate running. I like cuddling, do you see the difference? Can you pick me up from the ground and take me home, please? And you have to make it up to me today. Big time!”
Uhhh, Magnus was unhappy.
Raj appeared suddenly.
“Hey, man. Sorry, I know it’s tough when you don’t do this often. But I promise with practice it will be better”, Raj said offering his water bottle to Magnus.
“Well, I don’t like running. I prefer other activities, like riding”, he said facing Alec, who turned red in the spot.
Raj was bewildered by the remark. Magnus was proud AF.
“Hmm, yeah, I get that. So, a photo before you two go?”, Raj said.
Raj apparently was one of those guys who couldn’t pee without taking a proud picture of himself followed by the #madeit. How can a person be like this?
So… When Raj offered to take a picture of them that morning, Magnus was polite (at least as much as he could) and just said:
“I’m not at my best right now, can we do this another time? I really need Alec to massage my inner thighs, you know…”, he said smiling.
“No, I mean, of course, no problem. Well, in that case I’ll go finish my training for the day. Magnus, it was great meeting you, Alec talks about you a lot. And Alec, we’ll talk later”. Raj hugged Magnus (oh, now he deserves a hug, right!), Alec and then he started to run again.
They were walking home from the park, side by side.
“What was that all about?”, Alec asked.
“What to do you mean?”, Magnus said back. He knew what Alec was referring to, but he wanted to see what Alec was going to say about it.
“Do you needed to be so... passive-aggressive with Raj? He did nothing. He was nice to you”, Alec defended the guy.
He defended the guy.
“Alec, come on. Raaaaj (Magnus made a mocking voice) is not the nice guy you think he is. He is obviously trying to hook up with you.”
“What? That’s absurd. He is my friend”, Alec replied offended.
“For now. Because that’s the only thing he can get from you at this point. But trust me on this, he wants to stop running and start riding as much as I do”. And Magnus had a sad tone when he said that.
“You are completely out of your mind. He helps me. He helped me with that event at the store. He’s a good friend, that’s all”.
“You know what, you can fool yourself as much as you want. But I can see it. Don’t be mistaken, that man is a snake and he will show his true colours sooner or later”.
“Mags, c’mon. You can’t be that jealous.”
“I’m am as jealous as you are blind”.
“Does he like Neruda? Did he ever read that to you?”, Magnus asked when they were at Alec’s door.
“What? Are you serious now?”. Alec was hurt.
“I’m just wondering…”
“No, Mags, he doesn’t like poetry”, Alec said bitterly.
“Yet. He doesn’t like it yet. Give it time”, Magnus said entering the apartment.
Alec spent the rest of his day reading on the couch. Magnus was in the bedroom, working and talking to Clary on his phone.
They only exchanged “good night” before sleeping that night.
Magnus was at Cat’s. He went alone because Alec had an event at the store and that was the only free night Cat had that week. Cat worked as a makeup artist.
Alec wasn’t happy with the fact that Magnus was about to miss this event. He was so pleased that his boyfriend would be there to support him for the first time with this. But Magnus had already made plans with Cat, so… So Raj was going to be there, yay. Alec needed all the help he could get. The author he was promoting this time was a guy who claimed to be the “next Orwell”. Alec actually read this guy’s book and, trust him on this, he was no even close to be a George, let alone a George Orwell. Do you know how someone could be the “next Orwell”? Only if George Orwell HIMSELF reincarnated and started writing again. And even so, in a way it would be the same person. No one messes with George Orwell, thank you very much. So, yeah, Alec needed all the help he could get to put up with the guy. And Raj was pleased to help.
Which meant Magnus was flying solo that night.
Ragnor and Raphael were also there. Ragnor was trying to play something on his flute (he named her Florinda and took her everywhere because he thought his newly discovered talent should be seen and appreciated). Raphael was almost having a stroke.
“Can you please stop blowing this for a minute? You are terrible at it”, Raphael said.
“I am not. Florinda and I are soulmates. And I’m a natural…”
“Dios, you took three classes. Three. You can’t play that damn thing.”
Raphael wasn’t lying. It was awful, let’s be honest. Awful and painful.
“It is that negative and preposterous behavior that prevents people from achieving their full potential in life, you know that, Raphael? Let me and my dear Florinda be!”
They were bickering now. Oh, what a surprise.
Magnus and Cat were drinking wine and laughing, until the moment Ragnor started playing again and it was too much. They went to her balcony to talk.
“So, why didn’t Alec come with you? I was hoping I could talk to him and make you feel embarrassed”, she said playfully.
“Ha ha, very funny. But you know that’s almost impossible. Anyway, he had an event at his bookstore, so…”
“And why aren’t you there?”
“Because I’m here. I don’t know if you noticed, but I can’t be in two places at the same time… yet. And besides, I miss you”, he said in a low voice.
Cat was Magnus oldest friends, the first person who looked at him and saw who he was. And embraced him, loving him for who he is. He was really missing having that kind of bond right now.
“Hey, honey, what’s wrong?”, she came closer to him, placing her hand on his forearm. He had sadness in his eyes.
“I don’t know. Have you ever caught yourself in that place where everything is good and okay and, at the same time, everything just feels off? I’m like that now.”
“Why? Is it something related to your job in Canada? People are too nice to you there and you can’t stand that?”, she joked. He only smiled a little.
“No. Everything related to the work itself is great. I mean, the fact that I’m working so much in another country sucks, not gonna lie. The travelling part was nice at the beginning, but after a while you just feel like you belong nowhere.”
“But you have Alec.”
“Yeah, but… I don’t know, everything is weird. We’re fine. Don’t know. We are fighting lately, which is something that didn’t used to happen. And he has a ‘new friend’ now (air quotes) that I kinda hate”, Magnus said and Cat made a head movement indicating that he could keep talking. “Like, you can call me crazy, whatever, but I swear the guy wants Alec. The guy has the hots for my man, who is too blind to see it”.
“Have you tried talking to Alec about that? About how you feel?”
“Yes. And he was in pure denial. He thought I was just jealous. Or being paranoid, I don’t know. But I’m not. Something inside me screams every time that guy is around. And he is around a lot, Cat. He is with Alec right now, in that stupidbookthingbeingsupportiveandIhatehim…” Magnus was nervous and she didn’t understand a thing he said at the end of his sentence. He was upset indeed.
“Honey, it is the first time I’m seeing you like this. Invested in a relationship. You made us do that ridiculous thing in front of the man’s store, that’s something. I can see that you really love him (“I do, crap”, he whispered) so, my advice, don’t let any of you ruin this. Fight - not with him. For him. Love is not an easy thing, despite what people think. But it is so worth it. And you are so happy around him, so free. I love seeing this Magnus. Don’t let him die, ok?”
“And also, that man is crazy about you, c’mon. He…”
A loud sound made them stop talking. Raphael and Ragnor were rolling on the floor, Florinda between them. They hit the dinner table and a glass shattered when it hit the ground.
“I will kill that flute, I don’t care what it will cost me”, Raphael was screaming.
“In your dreams, Florinda and I will be forever as one”.
“I know a place where I can put that thing that will really make you two to be forever as one”, Raphael threatened.
Magnus and Cat ran to them, trying to apart them and, at the same time, avoid that any glass shards hitting them in the process.
“Oh, it is so hard to be a single parent, Magnus, you have no idea”, Cat joked, holding Ragnor (and Florinda, by extension) far away from Raphael.
Magnus was the best boyfriend in the world. Honestly. Only the best boyfriend in the world would accept to spend a night with Alec. And Raj. For drinks. At Alec’s place.
Magnus was wondering if it would be rude to leave, he meant, forget, his boxers on the couch.
Against his better judgment, he decided not to do that. He was a polite, educated man. In love. In a great relationship, right? Things would be good tonight.
Alec bought expensive wine (“Raj really likes this one”) and some appetizers to wait for Raj. Magnus put some extra makeup, just in case. And his shirt was so open it was almost the same as being naked. But Alec never complained about that.
Raj was there on time, to Magnus’ disappointment. He was greeted by both of them and made his way to the living room quickly. Alec offered him wine, that he gladly took.
The star of Alec’s living room was this huge bookshelf that filled almost an entire wall. Raj was drawn to that immediately.
“Wow, when you said you had a few ‘personal books’ at home, you weren’t kidding”, Raj said astonished.
The subject between Alec and Raj was books. Which ones they both read, the ones that were Alec’s favorites, the one’s Raj must read…
Magnus was rolling his eyes, sitting on the couch, sipping that ridiculous wine. He took out his cell phone from his pocket and typed to Izzy.
<Guess what I’m doing>
<It can’t be sex, ‘cause you wouldn’t be texting me, right? Oh, please, say it’s not sex with my brother…>
<I WISH. Sadly no, I’m looking at Alec and Raj discussing some crap about some author. Whatever. The enemy is here, can you believe that?>
Alec was actually talking about another favorite of his, “Gulliver’s Travels”, by Jonathan Swift. Everybody knew the beginning of the story, where Gulliver met the liliputians, but the book had so much more to offer. There was a scientific community that Gulliver discovers and he has this important conversation about immortality that Alec adored. And the end, where Gulliver faces the Houyhnhnms, a species similar to our horses, that actually dominated humans, is his favorite. It was ironic and sarcastic but also so critical and true about our society. Swift is a must read to this day.
“Did you know that the website Yahoo! is related to that book? Yahoo stands for ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle’, but, the founders of the website looked the word up at a dictionary, that also pointed the origin of the word in Swift’s work. Yahoo was how the humans were called in Gulliver’s, in his last travel where he finds those horses. Yahoo meant an inferior race, illiterate. Isn’t it amazing that a website we use for searching things has that name? I always thought it was so ironic, so clever”, Alec said, really excited.
“I always preferred Google anyway”, Magnus told them, drinking all his wine.
Alec and Raj just looked at him.
“More wine anyone? I get it”, Magnus said without waiting for an answer. He went to the kitchen.
<Wait. Is Raj there? Are you kidding me? Why? Or you and Alec are planning to kill him? In that case, it’s ok… smiley emoji>
<Again, I WISH. Sadly, no. Alec is happy that he’s here. I feel like a third wheel, tbh. But Alec wants me to know Raj, so we can all be friends and all. We’re not doing a threesome with that man, so what’s the point?>
The jokes Magnus likes to do when he was nervous. Honestly.
<...> Izzy was typing.
<Ok, I’ll ignore the last part, because I don’t need that image in my head. But, Mags, talk to Alec, tell him that this is a relationship between two people. Send that guy out. Now.>
<But Alec likes him, so…>
<Yeah, but he loves YOU, no?>
When Raj was gone, three long, boring and exhausting hours later, Magnus didn’t imagine that they would fight again. Because of Raj.
Was Magnus asking for too much? Being with his boyfriend when they were finally in the same city. When they could kiss each other for real and not only send kisses through a screen. They could wake up in each other’s arms, and whisper sweet nothings and laugh and have breakfast together and be the family Magnus was hoping he could build with Alec. A freaking family.
At that moment it seemed a lot, apparently, because Alec was saying that Magnus didn’t trust him. And that he needed friends since he was alone all the time. Like it was something Magnus could control. Like he wanted them to be apart like that. Magnus felt that the distance was poisoning them. Perhaps, perhaps love isn’t strong enough to go through every obstacle ahead. Maybe love, as he believed once, was conditional. And was charging its price right now. Upon both of them. All in life came with a price, make no mistake about it.
Magnus’ feet were like roots grounded in their love. But his mind, at that moment, was like an amount of leaves… Alec’s words, his arguments, his sorrows, and complaints were like the demanding wind, ripping the leaves off of his branches, turning Magnus in the wrong direction, avoiding the sun, depriving him of light, from oxygen, from life. He needed to get out of there.
Alec was speaking nonsense that Magnus didn’t hear anymore. Alec was hurt, but so was he, so what’s the point in staying?
“Where are you going?”, Alec asked, catching his breath from all the yelling.
Magnus went to Alec’s bedroom and grabbed his things, placing them in his suitcase. He was heading to the door now.
“I thought your home was with me”, Alec said looking at Magnus.
“I thought so too. Good night, Alexander”. He said right before he opened the front door and leave his boyfriend speechless and alone in the middle of the living room.
Izzy was surprised to see him at her door this early in the morning. He didn't sleep at all that night.
Usually, when Magnus was in town, he tried to spend all his time with another Lightwood. Not with her. And she knew he was almost about to get back to Canada.
“Do you want to borrow my whip to use on Alec? Because that’s totally okay with me, you just have to clean it up before returning it…”, she tried do be funny, but it wasn’t working. Magnus wasn’t his usual self. He seemed a bit off.
“Izzy, can I come in?”
“Like you have to ask, sure. Get in here”, and she let him pass through after hugging him.
She was worried now. He sat on her couch, she was right next to him.
“Is everything okay?”, she asked.
“Isabelle, my dear, remember that time you went to my house…”
Oh, yeah. About that.
After Magnus and Alec became Malec and stuff, Izzy went to visit the costume designer at his place one night.
“Izzy, what a pleasant surprise”, he said in a cheerful tone when he saw her at his door.
Yeah, let’s see if you will say that after she’s done.
“Hey, Magnus. I need to talk to you for a minute, can I come in?”
So he let her in. And she started:
“You know, Magnus, I like you. You seem like a good guy. You know your shit and I admire that. But I’m here on official sibling business”.
Magnus was quiet. And confused.
“I’m here to make it clear that if you break my brother’s heart again, I will personally come after you and I will kill you. Better, I will sneak into your house and put a few holes in your shirts and take all your glitter away. Do I make myself clear?”
He didn’t move.
“Nod if you understand me.”
“But, Izzy, I would neve…”
“Magnus. You already did. Once. And it was on me, I know that. I was encouraging him and JT was there the whole time, and it was exciting for Alec, it was exciting for us! But you weren’t ready. And when you left that party, Mags, you broke his heart. I was there, I know what I’m talking about.”
Magnus never thought about that because Alec never mentioned any of this to him. He never thought about how Alec must have felt that night they went dancing and Alec confessed his feelings for the first time.
Magnus was a bit sad with the realization.
“And because of that, I can’t listen to Camila Cabello around him anymore, do you know how you made my life difficult with that?”
“I had no idea, sorry, Izzy.”
“You better be. But I believe you will do good this time and make him very happy. But just in case, remember my words carefully, ok? Holes and glitter”, she said pointing her index finger to him.
“I will”, he said.
She actually stayed a little longer after that, talking and laughing with Mags. She was sure things were going to be great.
But now Magnus was in front of her and she wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Yeah, vaguely. I remember that time very loosely”, she said, trying to be cool.
“Well, on that particular occasion you said you would burst my clothes into flames and eat all my glitter with Nutella if I broke your brother’s heart.”
She was sure she didn’t mention any Nutella, but okay.
“Hmmm, that does ring a bell. Why?”
“I wanna know what will you do if Alec... if Alec breaks my heart instead.”
Izzy sighed. She knew why he was like this.
“Is this because of Raj?”
“Yes. No. Yes. Maybe?”
“Magnus, my brother loves you. You have nothing to be scared of. He is madly, deeply, blindly in love with you”, she tried to reassure him. It wasn’t working.
“I know. I know that. It’s just… I don’t know, I’m away so much, Izzy. I’m working like crazy now, I know that and it’s been hard on both of us, and it’s not fair, and I’m so sick of this. But it’s a good moment for me, Izzy and…”
“Is it? A good moment for you?”
He was thinking.
And then he was talking:
“I don't know anymore. And that Raj guy. I hate him, Izzy, I hate him. He’s Alec’s friend and I’m glad he has someone to hang out with and all, but the man is so… He works out. And he freaking runs, who does that? And he likes books as well. Maybe they… I don’t know. Maybe they are a better fit for each other and I…”
“WHAT? Magnus Bane, are you out of your mind? Raj could be Apollo himself, I don’t care. He could rewrite the Odyssey. And Alec would still only have eyes for you.”
“Have you seen the picture?”
He was talking about that Instagram picture of Raj and Alec after their first run (the “photo thing”, remember?). They were sitting on the grass, in the park, Alec in the foreground, all sweaty, all smiles. Shirtless. Sweaty and shirtless. Next to a thankfully dressed, but also sweaty Raj. Also smiling. By his man’s side.
Seeing a picture of your shirtless sweaty boyfriend next to another sweaty guy should be forbidden. Illegal.
When Magnus saw the picture, the next Monday morning, he was on the makeup trailer of the tv show he was working on in Canada. He almost had a stroke. The fact that the actress that was working with him at the time said that Alec and Raj were “a cute couple” didn’t help.
Later that day he called Alec.
How Alec missed that voice.
“Sorry about not calling you yesterday, we had a dinner with some people from the show.”
“Oh, it’s okay, love. How are you?”
“Great. Yeah. But tell me about yourself… What did you do yesterday?”
“Not much. I was finishing that book about…”
Magnus interrupted him.
“But haven’t you gone out or anything?”
“No. Not rea... Oh, actually, I went out with Raj for a run, yeah.”
“Oh, look at that. And how was it? Was it hot? Did you two keep your clothes on the whole time?”
“What?”, and then Alec figured it out. “Oh. You saw the photo. Magnus, you can ask me things without this ridiculous…”
“Why were you shirtless, Alec, was that a required thing for running nowadays I know nothing about?”
“Can you listen to me? We ran 10k, it was freaking hot and I almost collapsed. And my shirt was disgusting, so I took it off for a bit. I didn’t know he was going to photograph us anyway. But it was just a run, Mags, why are you being like this?”
“Because I’m in freaking Canada, Alec. Freaking faraway Canada and you are sweaty next to a guy that’s not me. That’s why I’m like this.”
“Well, and whose fault is that?”
“I gotta go, they need me”, and Magnus hung up the phone.
“Have you seen the picture?”
The question holding not only jealous, as one could suppose. It was deeper than that. It was hiding... fear. Izzy could sense that.
She went quiet, giving time to Magnus’ process his own emotions.
“You know, I told Alexander many times that I left my parents’ house because they didn't love me enough. I think it's an easier way to say it. And in fact they didn't. But it wasn't just a lack of support. It was… a constant attempt to emotionally demolish me. With words of hurt and hatred. You don't need to lay one finger on someone in order to hurt them. You can simply make them doubt themselves. Tell them they are worthless. Unworthy of everybody else’s care. Or attention. Or love. When, for whatever reason, you grow up in a home that teaches you not only how wrong you are for being you, but how your mere existence is a waste and a mistake and how you will never be enough for others… well, even when you know it's not right, a part of you… a tiny part of you wonders: ‘Could this be true?’. An even smaller part actually believes it. Because that's what you've been taught for most of your upbringing. And that just sticks with you. That toxicity. Even when you get yourself away from all that, occasionally that emerges. That self-doubt. When I first ran away from Alec I wasn't just addicted to working, obviously. I used work as a dimension in my life I could control and prove my value. To others and to myself. But when we got to that point where he said he had feelings for me, I panicked. Because he meant it like no one else ever did. And what if all my fears were proved… right? What if I wasn't able to do that? To make him happy? To be open with him? What if I was worthless after all, Izzy? Those are things you don't want to find out, you know?”
Izzy was sitting really close to Magnus, their hands intertwined. She was holding back her tears because Magnus was already crying. He wasn't sobbing or anything. He was very aware of the things he was sharing and the simple fact of going back to those dark places regarding his family was enough to make tears run down his face. But he kept going because he was Magnus Bane and he was bigger and better than all the crap his parents sent his way over the years.
Sometimes, in order to survive, you gotta turn your back to everything people tried to teach you. Everything they think they know about you. It is necessary to separate what comes from a place of love from what doesn't. You have to hold on to your truth.
As Magnus did.
He continued talking after a while:
“I don't regret being with Alec. I love him. When I did that, when I declared myself, I meant it. I loved him then and I love him now. But there's… something… happening. And now I'm starting to get doubts from a place that until this point only brought me certainties, Izzy. And I don't like that. I know I'm not making it easy with my work and Alec is feeling it… my absence. But this will be temporary. I'll be back here soon enough, you'll see. I'm sure of it. I just… I just don't know if Alec is willing to wait, you know?.”
“Do you fear Alec’s gonna leave you?”
“I don't know. I don't think so. Or at least is what I hope. That he will stay with me. But you never know, I guess. I'm away for too long and now that guy’s with him all the time. I don't know what to think. And please. That guy wants Alec, I can recognize that a mile away. He wants… you know, ‘his cherry and stuff’ (air quotes)”.
“Cherry” was now a code for… wink wink, you know what, since Izzy became familiar with the poem as well. Izzy asked Alec if he and his boyfriend “popped the cherry” so many times one day he actually kicked her out of his apartment.
“I'm sure he saves his cherry only for you, Mags. But I'm glad you came to me to talk. I don't think Alec will do anything to hurt you. He loves you and that's above anything else. So, never fear. But, just in case, I will kick his ass if you need it”, Izzy replied. Magnus looks up at her face and saw comfort. And support. Izzy was there for him as well. To prove once more how Magnus was worth it, despite what he learned in the past. She was there to make sure his presence was indeed full of love.
“What are you doing?”
“Now, I’m drinking wine, why?”
“Can you stop being stupid for one second?”
“What do you mean?”
“With Mags. Alec, what you are doing with Magnus?”
“I’m dating him. Why?”
“Are you? Are you dating him?”
“What are you talking about, Izzy?”
“Alec, honestly. You’re pushing him away and I wanna know why. Why are you doing this?”
“I’m not. I’m not doing that. He’s the one who…”
“Oh, Alec, please, grow up. You’re so ridiculous. The man is working. For both of you. He’s doing nothing wrong, but you are still punishing him for God knows what. I don’t get it.”
“Izzy, he’s gone. He’s gone and I miss him. I’m in a relationship. And I wake up alone almost everyday. I go to sleep alone almost every night. I’m watching him living his life away, and without me. I’m dating my phone, Izzy. I hate that. I don’t know how to deal with this. He says it will be over soon, all this craziness, but it won’t because he is amazing and great at his job and people will notice that sooner or later and he will leave me, Iz.”
“Why? Where the hell did you get that idea from?”
“I don’t know.”
“And what about Raj?”
“What about him?”
“Is there something going on between you two?”
“WHAT? You too? I can’t believe this!”
“Alec, listen to me. It’s okay for you to have friends. Truly. But that guy are not interested in only being your friend. I’ve had my fair share in the dating department, I know those looks he gives you. He wants more. What you’re doing is not fair, you know. Not to Magnus, not to Raj”.
“And what is that?”
“Well, you’re unhappy with how things are with Magnus, so you’re using Raj to be your ‘pretend substitute boyfriend’. You’re giving him enough attention to make him stay, but not enough to make him do something that could jeopardize that. It’s a cowards move. It’s evil. Gosh, I never knew you could be like this, especially after mom and…”
“IZZY! That’s enough!”
“I’m just saying. We’ve learned the hardest way possible what it’s like to lose someone we love. And how precious life is. Precious, Alec. And limited. We are on the clock here, you know that. And now that you have happiness, I think you are just scared. That you may lose love again. So to avoid that, you are pushing Mags away. Don’t do that. Because eventually, he will be tired of it. And even the living can be dead to us at some point.”
Despite what Magnus’ thought, the descent into hell was really easy. All it took was lack of communication, trust, a long distance relationship and another man wanting your own. Who knew?
They were talking less now. It’s one of those things you don’t notice at first. Like when your loved one goes out to work and doesn’t kiss you goodbye before hitting the streets. When you say ‘I love you’ and get only ‘aham’ in response. Little things. Little things can become big things when they are put together. They grow. Silence grows.
Alec and Magnus were exchanging less text messages, sometimes only one a day. Magnus kept telling himself he was busy working and things were okay between them. Alec was planning all those events at the store, so it makes sense, right?
One night he was going through his Instagram feed when a photo of Alec and Raj popped up in front of him. “Another successful night. Thanks, Raj, for being here”.
Thanks, Raj, for being here.
Magnus felt like Alec just stepped on his heart. Because unlike Raj, Magnus wasn’t there. And then it hit Magnus.
Alec was having a life now completely away and separated from him.
And then he thought, for the first time since they were dating, why were they together? He knew his answer: he loves Alec with all his heart. Like he never imagined possible. He loves this man and he misses him deeply. The real doubt is to know if Alec would answer the same thing to that question.
So he decided to go home immediately to get things straight. They love each other, it’s ridiculous. Magnus was on a break from the show in Canada (he was only assisting there, but it can be a lot of work with all the fittings and stuff anyway) and the movie production was on track now, Clary handling the last details. A few days later he was going back to NY. He asked Alec to come to his place once he closed the store.
He took an early flight and when we was about to go on board, he got a phone call.
Apparently, people were noticing his work and his own take on the show, because the producers just offered him a position on the costume designer team. He would lead them and do all final approvals and stuff. He would run the department (the spot was available recently, but he didn’t know that. And now they wanted him!)
He would have to live in Canada for real. 6 to 9 months.
Talking about bittersweet.
He was happy about the opportunity, of course, but how could his relationship survive like this? They were struggling now that he had 2 weeks off on regular basis (almost). Imagine 6 months.
But maybe this could be a blessing in disguise. He loves Alec. Perhaps this could be an opportunity to take the next step. To get their lives together. He could ask Alec to live with him. Go to Canada. Sure, it was a big step, an important and decisive one. But it make sense, no? They would be together, having their own space and their own lives. A family, like Magnus always imagined. And, as a plus, no Raj.
Life 0 x 1 Mags
Magnus was happy now. This could work. He would ask his boyfriend tonight, Alec would be thrilled, he would say yes and they would have celebratory sex that night. They would have to tell Izzy and Jace the next day. Oh, and Cat and Ragnor. And Raphael. Even Florinda should know. Maybe he could make dinner reservations so they all could be together at once and enjoy the good news.
His mind was racing, a horse free into the wild.
But, an idea occurred to him, what if Alec says no?
Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
Chapter 6: Sorrow
So Alec did… that. He actually was responsible for turning his biggest fear (since he met Magnus) into reality.
They were over.
Because he said so. Was that the right decision? Because it was hurting. And it didn’t feel right at all. AT ALL. He hadn’t slept last night. He was up, pacing around his living room. Pacing. And crying. Pacing. And crying. He was exhausted. He was reliving the night in his head over and over. Over and over. Magnus’ silence. Magnus’ gaze on him. Him, motionless while Alec talked about his “little shop”. The way Magnus was full of jealousy again. All that ugliness was out there, like a gray cloud above them. A shadow Alec couldn’t avoid or fight against anymore.
But he also saw himself. Giving up. Because that’s what he did. He gave up. Like that. Like it was nothing. Didn’t he say to Magnus just a few months ago that he loved him so much and wished they could always be together? Was that a lie? No, he knew it wasn't. But he was feeling… Kinda weird. Confused. Hollow. Empty. In pure darkness. Like Magnus walked away and took all the light and the brightness in the world with him.
Because it is one thing to be apart for a while, knowing that you eventually will see and talk to that person again. It is a completely different thing to know that that person is gone. Is now forbidden. Off limits. And you’re responsible for that.
He felt like he was living in that Saramago’s novel. He was seeing things, and then he wasn’t. But, unlike in that book, he knew why that was happening.
Man, he was dumb.
He picked his phone up and called Izzy. He only said “I need you” and she was there. And when he opened the door she didn’t have time to say anything. He hugged her and started crying.
“Oh, Alec, what happened?”
Between sobs, he only managed to say:
“I screw up big time, Iz.”
I screw up big time.
You might think that when Person A breaks up with Person B, Person A would be happy, right?
Well, not if Person A is Alec Gideon Moron Lightwood. He thought he would be okay. That he would be fine. He wanted this, no? Space. Time. Now he had plenty of both. And that was affecting him more than he imagined.
A customer went to him one day asking for advice. She wanted something for her 11-year-old son.
“Oh, you know what he could read? Something cheerful.” And he gave the woman “Beasts of no Nation”. “That book has a boy as a protagonist, I bet he will relate”.
In case you’re wondering, “Beast of no nation” is a book about a young boy who sees his whole family being killed in front of him and is forced to join the militia in an African country. Yeah, totally relatable. And age appropriate. Hmm, what happened to your “book mojo”, Alec? You know what, “book mojo” can kiss my a…
“Hey, this guy is new here, I don't think he can read”, Lydia said looking madly at Alec and taking that book away from the lady. “Maybe we should go for, I don’t know, Percy Jackson or Harry Potter, what do you think? Or something with a girl as a lead character, how about that?”. The woman nodded and Lydia took her to the back of the store.
Like Alec cared…
After two days, “Every day you play” wasn’t featuring on Alec’s wall anymore.
It’s been a week now. A whole week. Without Magnus. Man, that was hard.
But at the same time, this could be good. He could actually think about things.
Was Magnus right? About everything? And Izzy? Was Raj in the way?
He remembered their one year anniversary. And the plans he had for that occasion. He was sad remembering the little jewelry box in his dresser. That thing hadn’t seen daylight in over six months. There must be a reason for that.
Was Raj the real problem to begin with?
Chapter 7: Alec Lightwood
This chapter gives us a flashback of the events in "Every day you play" from Alec's POV a bit.
Alec Gideon Lightwood.
Two dead parents.
One dead brother.
What a crappy list.
You know, Izzy always used to say that Alec, of all three Lightwood siblings, was the most reasonable one. The steady one. And the one that seemed more put together, even with the loss of half of their family.
Because that’s pretty easy to believe, right?
Alec kind of took upon himself the responsibility to look after the remaining family he still had. Which was demanding and exhausting. He could only cry when he was showering. He missed his parents so much. His mother, Maryse, was really a loving woman. Max was an adorable, inquisitive child. Alec bets he would have become a scientist or something like that. He’d had a love for knowledge since an early age. Robert, his dad, was a bit more closed off, but loving in his own way.
When that truck hit their car, on the way back from Max’s school, Alec’s heart was hit as well. Things that are broken never can be back to their original state, isn’t that what people used to say?
He knew a lot about himself by that time. But he was afraid that his parents would not be happy with the person he was. And life, destiny, whatever you wanna call it, just took that opportunity away from him.
One day he went to the cemetery, alone, to talk to his parents. He owed them his truth. It was only after that, that he told Izzy and Jace about himself. He never spoke about that visit to his siblings.
After that, he made a vow to himself. Like a rule. Or a promise. He took that from Thoreau. “I did not wish to live what was not life.” To him, that single sentence held so much of his own self. To live what was not life is really easy if you’re not paying attention. You can see disrespect developing in front of you and ignore that instead of doing something. It is pretending to listen when you’re not really caring about the other person. It is hurting intentionally, deliberately, simply because you can.
It is hiding your truth and your real desires from the ones you love. It is about pretending. It is about choosing the shadows instead of stepping into the light.
He decided he would always step into the light. He would live.
Alec was a man that, from that moment on, was quite the decisive type.
He wasn’t worried about pleasing people. He wasn’t faking anything. He didn’t have the time to do that. The clock is ticking, people. Do you realize that? Time is running out for each and every one of us, sand is falling in the hourglass, the minutes are fading like a crazy painting by Salvador Dalí. It melts away.
Alec had only a few friends and people around him, but he could trust all them with his life. He surrounded himself with truth and certainty. He was happy with the things he conquered and built. Seems easy to accomplish that: people to be open to, to share with. But it wasn’t.
Suddenly, he went from ‘silent black and white movies’ to movies with sound effects and better acting. Because of Magnus.
Magnus was there and Alec was not quite himself. He was a bit flirty, which wasn’t something he was familiar with. Those words were just coming out of his mouth. He didn’t mind. And, without further notice, he was talking about books and Gaiman and using his “book mojo”, a REAL FORCE IN THIS WORLD, on Magnus. Because the man seemed like he really could use some wonder.
We all can.
But Alec could only save one soul at a time, so he decided on Mags.
He wasn’t saving Mags, he knew that now.
And Magnus was so open to him and accepting of all the nonsense he kept bringing up about books and stuff. And then he told Mags about his family. He was sharing. And exchanging. And then he was missing. Magnus.
And then they were dancing. And kissing. And then he was crying.
And after that, doubting.
And then there was music.
And then a poem.
And then love.
And then he was whole again.
They were dating. They were boyfriends. Alec could actually touch Magnus. And kiss him. And do other things. Magnus was very open and receptive to Alec’s… desires. They were really good in the horizontal department. And vertical.
And Magnus was so caring. He would call Alec a hundred times a day at the beginning of the relationship just to say he misses him. Lydia would make fun of Alec’s sappy face, like he cared. They would go out to dinner or to see a movie. They would stay in a lot too, just cooking and learning about each other’s worlds. Did you know that Coco Chanel really made an impact for women by presenting more practical clothes for them to wear? Isn’t that amazing? Clothes changing society. Who knew that? (Okay, a lot of people. Now Alec knew it too, thanks to Mags).
Magnus was traveling. And it was totally okay because it was for a little while.
The problem with love is that it is not a stable thing. It changes. It can diminish over time, yes, but it can also become bigger. Huge. An entity inside you. And that was how Alec felt it. Which sounds nice and lovely, but it wasn’t. Because he became something he wasn’t before Magnus: unsure.
He was unsure.
Of his future with Magnus. Because he was thinking of that. Constantly. He wished they could spend more time together. He was walking to his store one morning, late, because he was having a sexual interaction over the phone with Mags. And he missed his boyfriend so much. It was hurting like those people who lost an arm but still could feel it there. Aching. He passed in front of a jewelry store. The most beautiful ring was standing there, shiny and sparkly, and Magnus’ face came to him immediately.
He didn’t want to sound ridiculous, but it was The One Ring. Honestly. And it was precious, so… He went inside the store and came out with a physical representation of this wonderful, heartwarming feeling he had had for almost a year now. It was perfect. He would ask Magnus, he needed to know. He needed to make Magnus stay. He would be there and the man would cry, he knew that. Who was he kidding, he would be crying as well. He would have a fiancè, they would share a commitment.
That was another moment in his life he realized he was completely happy and alive and aware. He felt connected and blessed.
He decided to buy a shirt, fuck it. Magnus deserved that.
He talked to the gods and all the entities, old and new, again, to make this a perfect moment. To show him he was right and he had nothing to worry about. Because he was unsure. He lost in life already. His score would be minus 3 no matter what. And Magnus was a big deal. Alec was scared: what if Magnus doesn’t want him? What if Magnus finds his job more important after all and left him one more time with his sorrow? Magnus already hurt him, but he was past that now. He had new feelings to be worried about.
What if. What if. What if.
Magnus never showed up that night, to celebrate their anniversary. Was that a sign from heaven? That Alec should be worrying, no? Crap, why? Magnus, why weren’t you there, just this once?
Things changed for Alec after that, even if he didn’t want to admit it. But they did. He was confused and hurt. Magnus hurt him again. Even without knowing it.
Was he going too fast about this? Was he pressuring things because of this insecurity he didn’t know how to shake off? Where did this come from to begin with? He was so confident all the time. But his boyfriend, being amazing, was also showing Alec how regular and boring he could be. Had he lived at all if he did that only through other people’s words and experiences? Was he living only in theory? Was this a “valid” life?
He was questioning everything. Magnus was adventurous, he was Bilbo, “going on an adventure” for real. Alec was one of those boring hobbits with hairy feet stuck at the same place] forever.
God, what was happening to him? Was love supposed to make you like this? Stupid?
Magnus loves him. Why was he so shaky about it?
Oh, and Raj showed up. He didn’t remember the guy’s name when he came back to his store criticizing Austen.
Raj wasn’t really that bad. He was okay. He wasn’t super funny or anything (he was just funny; Magnus was super funny), but he was supportive. And he likes books, as well. Little by little, he was becoming important to Alec. Because he listened. Most importantly, he was there. He was always there. Encouraging Alec. Giving ideas. Texting him just to make sure everything was okay. Inviting him to run, because Alec needed to get out of his apartment for a bit. Wasn’t that a nice thing to do?
Maybe Alec didn’t want to admit it, but Izzy could be right. In a way, he was trying to replace Mags with Raj, no? Like, not reeeeeally. Because that’s impossible. But Raj was always there. He didn’t know about those looks Izzy and Magnus were sure Raj was sending his way, but he didn’t care about that. He was fragile.
And then there were the fights. And then Alec was confused.
Because Magnus didn’t trust him. Or had Alec planted insecurities in their relationship, to begin with? He didn’t want to fight with Magnus, he knew that. He wanted to show this man how much he loved him, how much he was adored, admired, how much he wanted Magnus to stay. Stay, Magnus, forever. Please.
But instead, his words betrayed him. And sent the man away.
He hated words now.
He hated everything.
Especially, himself. He hated himself most of all.
Chapter 8: Prayers
So Magnus was… out of the picture.
Next time Alec met Raj, he looked miserable and had some explaining to do. So he told his friend, briefly, that he and Magnus were… on a break?
“I'm so sorry, Alec”, he said placing his hand on top of Alec’s , who was too sad to notice. They were in the coffee shop Lydia had at the back of Alec’s bookstore. She saw Raj’s movement. And she didn't like it. She grabbed her phone quickly.
“What the hell are you doing?”, Izzy asked as soon as she walked into Alec’s apartment.
“What do you mean?”
“With Raj. What are you doing with Raj?”
“What? I'm doing nothing. Are you crazy? I literally just…”. He couldn't say it.
“Yeah? Well, Lydia saw you too. And how he was trying to comfort you. He placed his hand on top of yours, didn't he?”
“What??? No. I don't think. I would remember that. And what I do or don't do is not your damn business. Or Lydia’s. What the hell, Iz?”
“Oh, Alec, I'm so sorry, I just thought that you…”
“Well, I don't need you to think, alright? Go do your stupid things away from me and leave me alone, could you?”
She was looking at him like he was a stranger who possessed her brother’s body.
“Sure. Just don’t come to me crying next time you need help or comfort. I won’t be there to pick up your pieces anymore.”
She left, slamming the door.
Another person was leaving him. All his fault.
Great. Just great.
To say Alec was missing Magnus was an understatement.
One night, in his apartment, he was really depressed, sick of “thinking”. What was that good for? They had been… not together for 15 days now. So he did something really reasonable.
He called Magnus.
He didn’t think - see, what was that good for? He just reacted. He started to talk. The prayers he knew:
“White bee, you buzz in my soul, drunk with honey, ]
and your flight winds in slow spirals of smoke.
I am the one without hope, the word without echoes,
he who lost everything and he who had everything.
Last hawser, in you creaks my last longing.
In my barren land you are the final rose.
Ah you who are silent!
Let your deep eyes close. There the night flutters.
Ah your body, a frightened statue…”
He did the same thing the next night. He sat on the ground, back against the wall. He breathed. Dialed. And as soon as his call got to voicemail, he started to talk:
“I have gone marking the atlas of your body
with crosses of fire.
My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide.
In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst. [...]
Between the lips and the voice something goes dying.
Something with the wings of a bird, something of anguish and oblivion.
The way nets cannot hold water.
My toy doll, only a few drops are left trembling.
Even so, something sings in these fugitive words.
Something sings, something climbs to my ravenous mouth.
Oh to be able to celebrate you with all the words of joy.
Alec kept doing that night after night for a week.
“So that you will hear me
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches. [...]
And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.
It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.”
Alec called again and continued:
“Before you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.
Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.
Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don't forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.
But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.”
He recited “Every day you play”.
He just kept doing that.
He never heard from Magnus.
On day number 10 since he started this (25 days since they were apart), he recited the last poem:
“The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!”
He called one more time. To continue, once again.
“It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse. [...]
You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!
I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, man whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.”
After each call he just kept sitting on the ground, reciting those poems to himself in the dark. Until tiredness ran over him. Every night.
But that wasn’t helping him either. He was just miserable. He decided to stop. Save some words. Words, like cooking, need time to settle. Like food, they need time to combined together in order to get the flavor right. The aroma. The spices in harmony.
So he decided to wait.
Magnus was in no better shape than Alec. He actually was in denial during the first week of their... whatever.
He just couldn’t believe that Alec asked him to go away like that. Alone. Was Alec fucking kidding? And what about their relationship? Their love? He never got the chance to own a Malec shirt (he usually sleeps with the one Alec owned, and that was left behind too).
It was all gone. Izzy texted him occasionally, but it was too painful for Mags, so he decides to stop that completely.
His friends were with him at his apartment to help him with his stuff to move to Canada: Cat, Raphael, Ragnor, Florinda (she survived the last murder attempt, she’s fine). Cat was so heartbroken you would think she was the one dating Alec. “I just don’t get it. What happened? And now I’m losing you too. I can’t deal with this. Magnus, hug me!”. Oh yeah, he had to comfort them too.
Going away seemed better and better every time he thought about everything. He needed some air.
So he packed and left a few things for Cat to do to help him out. He grabbed his cats, he closed the door, and he never looked back.
A new beginning. Magnus, you’ll do just great. You will be a star. You will have your own reality show, you will use all those damn books Alec gave you to start a fire and be warm in winter. Let’s do this.
On the first day that Magnus was in his new home in Canada, 2 weeks since the break-up, he got a call that he purposefully missed. From Alec.
What did this guy want? Making him go through all that wasn’t enough? Honestly. The first time Alec declared himself to Magnus, the costume designer was scared. And he needed time to think, sure. And a little help from his friends. But he came to the obvious and inescapable conclusion that he loved Alec. With all his heart. So he did all that mumbo jumbo in front of the man’s store because he was sure. He was all in. For the first time, he had a place with plenty room for love. He wanted to stay there.
But with time Alec just…. got weird? Magnus felt the man slowly pushing him away. Especially after their one year anniversary. And then Raj, oh, Raj. But Magnus also thought about the fact that Raj wouldn’t have held that much place in Alec’s life if Alec himself had not wanted him to. Something was happening, but Alec was not opening up to Mags. Not enough to change things anyway.
Alec left a voicemail. Can you please pretend I’m dead, thank you?!
But Magnus listened to that message before going to bed that night.
Alec didn’t know, but Magnus listened to them every night since he got the first one. He listened to every one of those prayers, of those poems like lamentations of Alec’s heart. Their hearts were beating together still. Magnus’ heart was aching.
Magnus was heartbroken once again when those messages stopped. Did Alec give up on him again?
Magnus was convinced that, if Alec wanted to fix things, he must be the one to make the effort this time. Magnus already ran the extra mile once. Not that there’s a limit to doing so, but Mags needed to be sure of Alec’s feelings. And right now he wasn’t.
He looked up every poem Alec sent his way. All Neruda’s words.
The last one was called “A song of despair”.
He read it the whole piece.
Alec was in the bookstore, he just got some Bernard Cornwell books and was displaying them, since people seemed to love this author (he didn’t, to be honest, but tell nobody).
He saw Raj approaching. He was glad. Raj was a good friend, someone to whom he could talk and forget about all the drama a bit. (Well, he still had to figure out Raj’s place in his life, but he could think about that later). They usually talked about things related to Raj’s work at the bank now, about his annoying clients, funny situations. He made Alec laugh and Alec was thankful for that.
Today, Raj seemed… different?
With this determination in his eyes.
Alec was curious. Did something happen?
Raj entered the store and gave his friend a little hug.
“Coffee?”, he asked, pointing to Lydia’s.
Alec agreed. They sat down and ordered their usual.
“Alec, I’ll be in the back to grab some pastries I forgot. Can you keep an eye on things for me? I’ll be back in a minute, okay?”, she asked him, already leaving.
“Sure, go ahead, we’ll be here”, Alec said it back, sipping the coffee she brought them before she went away.
Alec looked at Raj and the man was… grinning.
“Apparently I just got the perfect timing”, he said.
“You know Alec, hmmm… I don’t know how to say this to you. But I think, since we got closer, I think I can tell you now.”
Closer? What does he mean by that? Alec had a bad feeling about this. He didn’t know what his friend was about to say, but he sure didn’t want to hear it. Can we stop this, please?
And then Raj touched his hand across the table.
Can you please stop that? Just… don’t.
Alec was feeling bad enough, but nothing - NOTHING - prepared him for what he heard next.
“You know, I think I always liked you. I mean, how can someone NOT like you, right? You’re charming, intelligent, funny, caring… And so handsome as well”, Raj said shyly.
He was still with his hand on top of Alec’s, who was just too surprised to move. Because he was. Why was this happening?
Raj continued, oblivious to Alec’s reaction.
“And I waited. I had to. You were… With someone else at the time (Alec noticed how the man avoided Magnus’ name in that sentence). So I decided to be patient. Because I thought you were worth it. And when you two broke up, well, I couldn’t stop wondering if it was a bit because of me…”
Oh, you bastard. What now? Were you happy about that? Alec just lost… the love… the love of his life. The freaking love of his life. The reason why the sun showed up in the morning. The reason why the rain fell during a storm. Why he felt so complete. So connected to everything else.
He lost that. He was beyond repair. And that man in front of him was happy about that? Proud even?
Alec wanted to punch him.
But Raj, oh Raj, you can do so much worse, can’t you? So he said this next:
“And I thought that now, since we’re close... we could get to know each other better. Maybe... see where this goes, you know? Give it a try. Maybe even… ‘do what spring does with the cherry trees’, you know?”, and he winked.
OH. NO. HE. DIDN’T.
Did he just quote Neruda? To Alec? Freaking Neruda? And THAT freaking poem? That poem was THEIR POEM. Magnus and Alec’s poem. It was about them. Their story. Their love. It was so deeply intertwined with their romance Alec swore by now he wrote that himself. It was connected to one of the most beautiful memories of his life. Magnus, of course. On his knee. Reading that to him. All their friends around him, on that sidewalk, holding those ridiculous instruments. It was so hot that day, despite the fact that it wasn’t summer anymore. But Alec bets the sweat running along Magnus’s face had nothing to do with the weather. And then Magnus was quoting one of Alec’s favorite authors. Saying all those words that always spoke so loud to his heart, but that he never dreamed someone could actually say to him. Holding so much meaning. So much truth. When Alec reached out and had Magnus in his arms, he felt like the winner he knew he was, because Magnus chose him as well.
Oh, Alec loved that. He loved Magnus for that. And for Magnus being who he is.
Loved… He still does. He loves Magnus, of course. He wanted his man back. He felt warm and fuzzy all of the sudden thinking about his boyfriend (because that’s what he was, period).
But now. Uh, now. Now he had a more urgent problem ahead. Maybe a homicide, even.
He remembered Raj, who was looking at him holding all the hope in the world in his eyes. He was pure expectation. And Alec sympathized with that a little (A LITTLE). He knew how it was to feel something for someone and not have your feelings reciprocated. “Havana” was playing in his head. He hated that song now.
Alec finally pulled his hand away from Raj, placing it on top of his own leg, under the table.
“What? I thought you liked that poem. It was hung on your wall for so long…”
“Yeah, sorry. That’s personal. That poem… has… sentimental value to me”.
“Oh”, Raj said. “I’m… sorry?”, the man replied back.
“Raj, look. - Alec breathed - I think you’re a great guy and you’ve become a great friend of mine. I appreciate that. It is important to me. But right now (try ever) that is all I can offer you. Friendship. I broke up with Magnus, yes, well, actually we are on a break I guess, I don't know. But whatever is the case, I still have feelings for him. I still love him, I’m sorry, and I don’t think that will change. He hurt me, sure, but I think I hurt him too... I was just stupid, I’m starting to realize. He chose me, you know? He chose me and that should be reassuring enough, right?”, Alec replied almost talking to himself now.
And Raj was wise like never before:
“I understand that. But, if you still love him, why are you here, with me?”
He tried to say that in a flirtatious way, but Alec understood it completely different, to Raj’s luck. Really, what was he doing there?
Could he do things right? Could Alec fix… all that he ruined in those months?
And of course, of course, Mags was right about Raj. Crap.
He hated that. He felt like he did with Magnus what Apollo did with Cassandra, he took her credibility away. So, even if she tried to alert people of the danger ahead (in that case, the fall of Troy to the Trojans), no one would believe her. Magnus was screaming “wolf” to Alec the whole time and he didn’t listen.
And the wolf devoured him.
He knocked on the door. Once, twice. And he was about to knock for the third time when she answered.
“Oh. It’s you”, she said not impressed. She let him in.
He sat on the couch. His sister was standing in the middle of her living room.
“So… I think… Maybe… You were… right?”
“Of course I was. Obviously”, she said, angry. “About what, exactly?”
“Raj”, he only manages to say. Her eyes were huge and she opened her mouth.
“Wait, what? How come? Oh My God, did he kiss you or something?”
“Oh God, no! I think I would have slapped him if he did such a thing”, he said feeling nauseated. “But, oh crap, he kinda… declared himself to me?”
“And he quoted Neruda as well…”
“HE DID WHAT? I’M GONNA KILL HIM RIGHT NOW!”, she said. She was so angry she could tear Alec apart just by looking at him. Anger weaving all over her.
“How could he? Doesn’t he know that… Uh, I hate him. I hate him”. She suddenly stopped. “But, as I recall, I said your drama isn’t my problem anymore. So go on, get out and go build a new life with your new boyfriend. I don’t care”.
She didn’t touch Alec, but he felt like she had physically hit him. Everything was wrong. Raj, ewwww. And she being like that. No. No, he wasn’t having it.
“Don't you ‘Iz’ me. You were a jerk. I was trying to help. Did I cross a line? Maybe. Slightly. Did that gave you the right to be an ass to me? I don’t think so. So either you apologize properly, or from now on it will be only Jace and I”, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest, eyebrow touching the roof by this point.
Apologies were not his best… feature? He had to make this right, he knew that. That’s why he slowly left the couch and kneeled on the ground. Hands up, like a prayer. Looking at Iz, who wasn’t looking that impressed.
Desperate times, desperate measures.
“Izzy, my dear beloved sister. I was an idiot, in many different ways. I gotta say, that must be a talent at this point. But I so, so regret treating you like I did. You didn’t deserve that, I know, and I was a fool. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but if you’ll give me one more chance, I’ll prove to you I can be worthy. Can you please use your higher ground in my favor?”
“Was that a Star Wars reference at the end?”
“Depends. Did it work?”
“Hmmm. The court is still analyzing your case. Meanwhile, tell me more about your ‘so not into you’ friend, Raj”, she said, smiling.
He got it. He knew that. Uhhh, he was relieved.
“But seriously. Treat me like that again and I will use my whip on you. Not in a fun way, I swear”.
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Iz.”
He had tears in his eyes. They finally hugged each other.
She opened a bottle of wine and they were talking. Again.
[Oh yes, if you’re wondering, Alec left Raj talking to himself the second he realized the man was right, what was he doing there instead of trying to fix his situation with Mags? I think it was safe to say that that friendship was over.]
“Alec, I’m sorry. I love you, and you know that more than anything, but truly… This is all your fault. I know you love books and you learn so much from them, but this is real life. And, agreeing with me or not, you’re the one who drifted apart in this relationship. Not Magnus. The man was away because he had to be. But you, you chose to do that. You chose. By not being around. By not listening to him. By undermining his trust. I know Magnus is all sparkles and glitter and confidence when you look at him, but we both know how good he is at keeping up appearances. And how he needs to feel reassured of your love for him. I’m not saying he is weak or clingy or anything like that, but every one of us, at some point, just need to be safe in our relationships. It must be like coming to a familiar place, you know? We all need that. And you just took that away from him. You. Not him, you.”
Izzy said that like it was a heavy burden she was carrying around and she finally put that down, relieved. Words sometimes can be physical things. Real matter that weighs you down. A large stone wrapped around your waist, your feet, your heart.
“You are completely right”.
Wow, what now? She wasn’t expecting any of that.
“Sorry, can you say that again?”
“You are right. I was a jackass. I was the one who pushed him away, yes. Because I was scared. Scared of him leaving me, I don’t know, I was an idiot, I was scared of so many things. And my fear only brought those things to reality. I just want him back. So I came to you since you are… how do you call yourself? ‘The captain of this ship or something’. This ship is sinking, Izzy, but I think we can still save it. Can you please help your helpless brother out?”
Oh, Izzy loves 1 (one) song.
“Are you serious? Because I promised Magnus I would kick your ass if you hurt him, and you did that and I hate you for this. I won’t let you go through with this if you’re not serious. Like, 300% serious.”
Alec grabbed a little velvety box he had in his pocket (he left the bookstore, stopped at his place and went to Izzy’s) and showed it to her.
Izzy was crying.
“We need Jace NOW. And JT. Play that damn song, I need that.”
They were together: the Lightwood siblings plus Simon and Lydia. And Clary via Skype.
“Ok, listen up. I need to know if what I’m thinking is a good plan and how we would deal with... the technicalities of it.”
“I’m so excited for this. Really. Like finally. Oh, and by the way. Before Raj left, I ‘accidentally’ spilled some coffee all over him.”
“Lyds! Why did you do that?”
“I didn’t forget about the Jane Austen thing, c’mon.”
“Guys, Raj is not a bad guy. Don’t treat him like that. We all know how we must be feeling now. And he did help the store. I’ll talk to him later.”
Crap, Alec was such a boy scout sometimes. Ok, treat the guy well, they could try that.
“Next topic. Do you think Mags would take me back?”, Alec asked all of them. Clary was quick to answer:
“Well, you broke his heart. But I don’t think he hates you. He is too miserable for that. He listens to those creepy voicemails you sent him every day. Every day, Alec. It’s annoying. Even I can recite some of them by now. Uhhh. He’s not wearing glitter! (Izzy had her hand in front of her mouth now!) I honestly think he’s dying. So, yeah, maybe he can try to take you back. Maybe.”
“I’ll take Maybe for now. Thanks, Clary”, Alec said.
“Yeah, thanks, honey”, Jace said, winking at the cell phone where Clary’s face was on display. They were all making fun of him now.
“Shut up, ok? Just... shut up’, he said embarrassed. Clary was smiling proudly.
“Right. So, I have an idea. Actually, it’s not major or anything. It is really simple. I already know what I want. You are here just because I need to know what’s gonna happen after that. I need to know it will be okay and you will support me on this”.
And then Alec started to talk.
When he was done, he just turned to Izzy and said: “Oh, and I need something from you as well”.
Magnus was coming home after another day of work. He was tired. Not from the work properly, but of feeling miserable all the time. He was tired of himself already.
It was over a month now.
Alec didn’t want him. After those messages, he never hears from Alec again. The man put an end to their story. Love sucks. Magnus didn’t need that. You know what? He would do what he knew best, he would be focused all his energy on his work once again. He did that before and it was great, wasn’t it?
He could give that another try. He needed something to fill his void. He was desperate. He had those books around him, around his house, reminding him of Alec. That man was like the plague. Something you couldn’t stop or prevent from spreading everywhere. And those words were everywhere too. He hated them now. All those beautiful messages about love, about being a better person, about living your truth… all those damn poems. All for nothing.
He should call Clary now, arrange a new work schedule. And find a place where he could donate all those books for good.
Enough with feeling like this. Enough with the sorrow. He wasn’t going to stay in a place, even a figurative one, that has no love.
Enough with that Lightwood guy. He could sh…
The Lightwood guy was actually sitting outside his door. Magnus had a dejà vu moment, that he ignored shaking his head. He was frozen, he couldn’t make a sound. Was he hallucinating now? That was a new stage of this break-up thing.
“Magnus, hi”, the hallucination was talking. There was no band. No music. No poetry. Nothing funny or amusing. Just… Alec. He was a simple man and this was an urgent matter. He came alone. He was hopeful that this would be the last time he would be like this. Alone.
Magnus went closer.
“Hmmm… Can… Can we talk?”, Alec asked with an unsure voice.
Magnus let Alec in. He went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water. He needed that so desperately. Alec was waiting in the living room.
“It’s good to see you”, Alec started once Magnus was back.
“What do you want, Alec? Why are you here? Did you come to torture me live, reciting more poems to make me cry, is that it? Because I think you’ve done enough damage with that.”
“Oh. I’m sorry. I was just… Missing you. I was missing you so much and I called you the first time to hear a word from you, anything. And when it got to the voicemail, I just started talking like the idiot you know I am.”
Magnus didn’t agree with that (okay, maybe a little), but he didn’t say anything.
Alec, say something. Why are you here, remember?
“Oh, right. So, I’m here to say that you were right.”
“Of course I was. But you could have said this over the phone or through an email. Or are you here to humiliate me by telling me what a great couple you two are now? And how he pops your cherry…”
“Can you please stop? Stop that. I don’t want us to be like this anymore”, Alec said walking towards Magnus.
“There’s no ‘us’, Alec, remember? You started this, you. Actually, you ended this.”
“I know. Magnus. (He let out a sigh). I know all this and it took me a lot of time to realize that and I’m so sorry. So so sorry. You were right, Raj was waiting for an opportunity and he tried to declare himself to me and he even recite a bit of our poem to me and…”
“I KNEW IT. I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT A THOUSAND TIMES, I’M GONNA KILL HIM”. Jeez, the gang really didn’t like Raj, no?
Alec calmed Magnus down, which took a while. He gave the man another glass of water. And then he continued:
“But he said something important. He asked me what I was doing with him if I had feelings for you. And he was right about that. If I still love you, why aren’t we together?”
Magnus was quick to answer:
“Because sometimes love is not enough, Alec, that’s why.”
“No. No no no no, please don’t say that”, and Alec kneeled in front of Magnus, who was now sitting on the couch. He was touching Magnus’ chest now, he was desperate for any touch he could get. “Don’t say that. It was my fault. I was so sure of everything, of my love for you, and I don’t know how, but I became this insecure person, I was afraid you were going to leave me, to see how boring and monothematic I am. Your absence started to get to me. I’m so sorry to make you go through this, Mags. I don’t know how I let that happened, and I’m a fool for that, but I’m here to make things right if you want to. Because I still love you.”
“Since the moment you appeared in front of me, looking like something the angels brought themselves to me at my store, I love you. I still love you. You’re still the light that plays with my universe.”
Magnus was not sure yet.
“You know, I read this quote the other day (Oh, really, that’s brand new information. Now tell us the sky is blue, Alec). I read it a thousand times because I thought the author was talking to me. He said:
‘Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.’
And I don’t think I surrender myself enough, Mags. I know I was the one talking about mojo and wonder and all those beautiful things, but I still needed to learn about that in the real life. And when you were there, giving your all to me, I was scared. And I left. I left you alone in our relationship, Mags, because sometimes books can’t prepare you for life (or they can, but you gotta be smarter than I was to get that) and I was so afraid you would see that I’m not as special as you are, and you would get bored, I don’t know. I had so many different feelings, and I never talked to you straight away about them and I’m sorry”, he was saying that between sobbings, because he was the definition of crying mess at this point.
Magnus cupped his face. He made direct eye contact with Alec.
“Hey. You are so special to me, Alec, how can you say that? Are you crazy? You made me feel loved, isn’t that the greatest magic, the greatest wonder we can hope to witness in life? How can you say such a thing? How can you doubt me? How can you be so stupid?”, Magnus was now actually hitting Alec on his arms. He was mad. Kinda. Alec was laughing a bit now.
Silence. The conversation was slow, full of empty moments, awkward ones, intimate ones. The anger, the longing, the doubt, the love... they were all emerging, taking turns. Calm and storm seasoning everything.
“Why are you here, Alec?”
“I’m here because I have a different answer this time”, he said.
“An answer? To what?”
“To your question. My answer is yes. Definitely yes.”
“And what was the question again?”
“If I wanted to move in with you. To Canada. My answer is yes.”
“What did you just say?”
“That I want to be here with you. Because that is truly what I want. Just to be with you. I was miserable when we were apart and I hate it and I just need… You. I need you. I’m sorry if I’m being clingy or needy, screw that. I, Alec Lightwood, need you, Magnus Bane. And I want to surrender. I want to make up for all that crap I put us through. I need that. And I need you to be patient with me. But I want you.”
“But what about your store? And your family?”
“You’re my family. You are my future. I want you. I talked to everybody, my siblings and Lyds, they will help us. I had a meeting with them. I explained my wish and they all supported me. Lyds will be in charge of the store from now on, since she knows as much as books as I do, although I suspect the place will only sell Austen’s work from now on. Izzy will keep my apartment in order, at least for now. We can see later on if we want to keep that or get us a place here or in New York. They even gave me a ‘farewell party’ before I came here”.
(Farewell party: everybody at Alec’s place singing ONLY Justin Timberlake songs and drinking tequila shots. Until sunrise. Izzy and Alec made a Titanic impression of Rose and Jack because Izzy was ‘the queen of this ship’. So, yeah, ‘farewell party’.)
“Wait. Are you serious? You want us to get back together AND you wanna live with me?”
Alec just nodded.
“I don’t think I can live without you”, was all Alec managed to say.
Magnus was on the verge of crying.
This was one of the most difficult nights both of them had lived. They actually talked and pointed out some problems. Magnus also knew he had his fair share of blame for all this. That’s why he was still unsure.
They were talking, dawn already having arrived, exhausting them both. But they needed to get through this. They knew it.
“Alec, but we’ve hurt each other so much already.”
“I know. But I think it’s good. It’s a good thing. Because we know love can also hurt. Which means we will be more careful now, you know? I won’t treat it carelessly. I will treat it like the wonder that it is and will never take it for granted again. That is a promise.”
Magnus was wondering.
“And I don’t know about you, but I think this long distance relationship thing is not for me. So I’m willing to do this. For us. To support you and love you, being here by your side. So you can do the same for me”, Alec explained, “And I’ve got a lot of my stuff at Clary’s now, so you kinda have to say yes. I can’t live with her, Jace is now dating her for real and he keeps reading poems to her, it is the most pathetic thing ever, you really need to see that”, Alec said, making Magnus laugh now.
“And if you say yes, I will give you another thing”.
Oh. What’s that...?
Alec was taking his sweatshirt off to reveal the Malec shirt underneath it.
“This is yours, Izzy sent it to you. But only if you say yes to me.”
Magnus was smiling. That was playing dirty at its finest.
“What do you say, do you wanna go back to this ship with me?”, Alec was laughing, but he was actually nervous. Magnus could never forgive him. He had that right. He could say a million things, Alec was a jerk after all, and that ridiculous situation with Raj and…
Magnus was looking at him, straight to Alec’s eyes. There was a pledge there. It was a new light. It was something new. Something Magnus was willing to give another chance for to find out what.
“Well, I have to see if the shirt looks good on me first, I think”, Magnus said, interrupting Alec’s thoughts.
“In that case, come and get it yourself”, Alec said with a grin on his face that was the personification of… happiness was not enough. Nirvana, maybe?
[Life can suck it x Winner Alec is back uh uh!]
Magnus went close to him, kissing those lips that he missed so much, making Alec stand up from the ground. They were connected. Again. For good.
“My pleasure”, Magnus said, leading the man to his bedroom.
Chapter 9: Epilogue
[2 years later]
The Malec ship was now solid and had been for two whole years. They were living in Canada since Magnus was doing so well at his job. Alec was now opening a bookstore there, a tiny one, but it was his own place. He worked at other places to get some cash and he gave up his apartment in New York to help with his expenses. He didn’t travel back to NY as much as he wished, but he talked to his siblings every day. And Simon. They were planning on going to San Diego Comic Con together this year (but Magnus said he would arrange a costume for Alec, just to make sure it was something reasonable).
They were living at Magnus’ place (their place now), and Alec loved it, how the space was a mix of them both. He finally let go of his fears and the surrender was the most blissful fall he ever experienced in life. It was here, in this fall that he truly felt free.
It is important to say that things were not only rainbows and butterflies after Alec moved in with Magnus. They had a relationship to fix. They had to start over in a way. That’s not an easy thing to do. They needed to gain back trust – in each other. In themselves even, in order to make this work. They needed words, honesty, and a lot of talking.
And they did talk.
About Magnus’ work.
About Alec’s store. About his fears and his spiral down to Insecurityland. He told Magnus how he was feeling alone and unsure. Doubtful. And how he regretted that. How sorry he was. It took him awhile to stop feeling like he owed something to Magnus – not just apologies. If he could just erase the past. Isn’t what most of us secretly wished for at times? To erase our mistakes? Things would be so much easier, no?
But sadly that’s not what happens.
What happens is that we hurt people, even the ones we love the most, and we gotta learn how to live with the consequences of our actions. Nobody said it was easy, you know. But it is what we have to do. We have to grow. To forgive – others and ourselves. We have to create a room for love inside of us in the first place. A room with no cracks. A safe place where we can develop. A place to nurture.
They also talked about Raj. Magnus told Alec about all his plans to kill the man. Apparently, he and Clary ended up creating a list with different ideas of how to do that (the title was: “Brainstorming on how to kill Raj and disappear with his body after the fact”).
Eventually, they stopped hating the guy. It was never about him. Alec apologized to Magnus one more time (well, a lot of times). He understood that, instead of letting Raj so far into his life, he should have talked to his man instead. Obviously.
But love is not always about the obvious, right?
Magnus also apologized for not being there for Alec. He knew he was so sure of the things he felt, and how for a moment, he didn’t feel the need to make any efforts. But to love someone is, in a way, to fall in love with them for the first time every day. You gotta be there (if not physically, always emotionally). You gotta care. You gotta express yourself. Don’t take for granted it. Don’t act like it’s immutable. At the least, there needs to be effort given to these things. Effort to love. Because it’s much more fragile than we think.
Now Magnus had a serious and rigid working schedule and he avoided working on weekends, unless when it was absolutely necessary. He needed to commit to Alec as well.
It’s like Alec read a poem once: “what life wants from us is courage”.
To be in love is one of the most difficult things we do.
And exactly because of that, it is one of the most courageous acts as well.
Today, unlike other times, the couple were in New York to spend a few days with the Lightwoods, staying at Izzy and Simon’s, who were now living together in a place that had more Star Wars decorations than George Lucas’ home, probably. Alec missed his siblings so much that it hurt. But he knew he made the right call with Mags. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life”. Thoreau was on his mind, as always. Mags was like those woods, because to Alec that man helped him grow, to see the real facts of life, the true essence of being alive. He went behind the veil and he could see the truth clearly. He felt like Bastian, from “Neverending story”. He thought he already knew all that he needed to learn, but of course, he was wrong, just like Bastian was. The boy thought that by going to this magical place everything would be fine and arranged by itself. He had much to understand yet.
To learn can be painful. It can be beautiful. Alec knew that now.
Alec gave the Uber driver directions. Magnus was sitting by his side. Alec arranged things to have this private moment with Magnus (which was difficult, since his siblings were dealing with Mags like the man was a rock star and they were his groupies. Alec suspected now that Izzy and Jace liked Magnus just a little bit more than they like him. Maybe. Very possibly.)
After a while, the car stopped.
“What is this place?”, Magnus asked.
“You’re about to see. There some people here I want you to meet.”
Alec and Magnus were out of the car, walking towards the cemetery where the remaining Lightwoods were resting. Alec was holding Magnus’ hand tighter now. They were walking side by side.
They would see Alec’s siblings later, after this.
It was a cold day, a chilling breeze filled the air and made leaves dance around them; a perfectly Autumn setting.
In the pocket of his jacket, Alec was holding the little jewelry box he bought a few years ago.
The next morning, after a celebratory night, Alec woke up with a hangover. It was from happiness.
They were all together that night, at this tiny Italian restaurant. Izzy giving Ragnor, Cat, and Raphael their own Malec shirts (Magnus called them so they could all enjoy this moment together, as a big family. Izzy had a few spare shirts, bless that woman!). They drank and sang, and Magnus never felt more loved in his life so far than on that night, with Alec by his side all the time, washing away all remaining sadness with the certainty of his love. Alec made a speech (for the first time, not quoting an author. All words were slipping from his mouth as easy as oxygen was filling his lungs) and tears, hugs, and smiles were what he got back as a response. Everyone was just so damn happy for them.
Alec was living another one of those moments. Of awareness and complete happiness. He was thankful for being alive and for share his existence with someone as great as Magnus Bane. It can’t be better than this, really.
(Well, wait until they discover that Ragnor wants to play Florinda at their wedding. That should be fun. Raphael would be delighted as well, yay.)
Alec left the improvised bed he shared with Magnus’ at Izzy and Simon’s place. He went to the kitchen to get water, not before kissing Magnus’ temple, lightly.
He was holding his cell phone.
He accessed the Instagram account of his former store. It was Lydia’s now, but she hadn’t changed the password.
He typed a few words after googling them. He needed to be precise.
Back to Magnus’ warmth. It was another cold day.
On the man’s hand, a gorgeous ring was shining. Alec kissed that hand and hugged his fiancè tight. The light hit Magnus’ diamond ring, reflecting a thousand different color rays through the room. “Every day you play with the light of the universe”. Alec made that a reality for them, like so many other things. He was blissful.
On the Instagram page, anyone could read the quote he typed:
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them — if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.”
J. D. Salinger.