Because of Sam’s busy schedule—ranging from school to Valkyrie duties to top secret missions from Odin himself—and Magnus’ busy schedule—painful training and absurd deaths back at the hotel—the two hadn’t had time to hang out in ages.
Eventually though, Sam had a free afternoon and asked Magnus if he wanted to meet up in Boston. Magnus was happy to clear his schedule—knitting to the death was something he would not mind missing—to meet up. It was nice to go to Midgard occasionally, especially since he could get food there without the risk of decapitation.
Of course, Sam didn’t understand why he always insisted on falafel for lunch. Specifically, at the best falafel place in Boston, Fadlan’s Falafel.
“I’m dying, Sam, and you would try to deny a dying man the simple pleasures of life,” Magnus said.
“Magnus, you’re already dead.”
“No, I mean I’m dying later today. It’s Tuesday, so that means free-for-all combat.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “Do you learn nothing from your einherjar training?”
“Yes,” Magnus said, clutching at his heart in mock offense. “Except it doesn’t help that the other einherjar go for the healer first.”
“His quick healing factor also makes him a fun target for the other einherjar from what I’ve heard,” Jack interjected, currently in pendant form.
“And somebody—not naming names or anything—always thinks free-for-all combat is the perfect time for me to learn swordplay on my own.”
“Señor, free-for-all combat is the perfect situation for learning!”
“I’m just asking for you to make yourself lighter at the very least,” Magnus said.
“Magnus, please stop arguing with Jack. I’m not sure the glamour will be enough to cover up how much of a weirdo you look like right now yelling at your pendant,” Sam muttered. No one was looking in their direction at the moment save for maybe…
Magnus couldn’t help but smile. “Am I embarrassing you in front of Amir.”
Sam blushed and tried to keep her head down. “Do not—”
“Amir knew me from when I was homeless, Sam, he’s not the judgmental type.”
“I know, but—”
“Hang on, he’s coming this way.”
“What!?” Sam quickly turned around only to see that Amir was still at the counter, currently attending to a small group of customers. She turned back and glared at Magnus, wading up her napkin and throwing it at his face.
Magnus laughed. “Sorry. I’m just teasing you. You always get so jumpy and nervous around your crush, even if he is already your fiancé.”
“When you get a crush, I’m going to tease you about it. See how you like it.”
“Good thing that’s never gonna happen.”
The next time Magnus took a trip to Midgard, he was helping Blitz and Hearth at Blitz’s store. Blitzen’s Best had recently opened now that Blitz and Hearth had been freed from Mimir’s service. It was a nice change in pace to see them settle down somewhere instead of the constant world hopping and sleeping under bridges in Boston.
Of course, “settle down,” also had a different connotation in this situation.
They had started going out recently, which was news to Magnus and Sam and well, anyone who saw the way they interacted. Anyone would have assumed that they had always been a couple.
Jack had thought that they were married.
Magnus guessed it was because of their previous assignment to Mimir that hadn’t given them time to officially be a couple, so he was happy for them now that they were. He initially felt a bit guilty thinking it was also kind of his fault with those two years they spent acting homeless and keeping an eye on him. Blitz assured him that wasn’t the case though and that he wouldn’t have had the nerve back then to ask Hearth out.
So, given the fact that he was now officially a third wheel, he had the right to occasionally tease them.
Currently, Blitz and Hearth were having their age old argument concerning Hearth’s fashion. Aside from the candy cane striped scarf—a gift from Blitz—Hearth typically stuck with black clothing. Blitz considered this a tragedy.
“Black is neutral. It’s simple,” Hearth signed.
“But you would look good wearing other colors too! If you would just let me—”
“Why don’t you help Magnus with his fashion choices? He mostly just wears green and beige.”
“Guilty,” Magnus shrugged given that he was currently wearing a standard green Hotel Valhalla t-shirt along with jeans. “Hearth, I think your boyfriend is just looking for an excuse to spend time with you. He’s considerate like that.”
Both Blitz and Hearth blushed, and Magnus continued. “I mean, if you guys ever want to go out for a date night, I don’t mind coming over to close up the shop for you—”
Blitz laughed despite his embarrassment. “We’ll keep that in mind. I’ll need plenty of time to update Hearth’s wardrobe one of these days.”
“You two should get something that matches too, like matching rings.”
Hearth just blushed deeper, trying to shrink into his scarf. “One of these days, you will be in a relationship and I’ll be there to constantly tease you about it. And you will regret this day.”
“Nah, that’s never gonna happen.”
Combat training today was a mess. A mess that ended with at least 6 javelins sticking out of Magnus’ chest. Personally, he would like to blame Halfborn and Mallory for that.
They had finally gotten together after realizing that they both had huge crushes on each other, and Magnus was happy for them. But he didn’t appreciate that Halfborn got distracted by his girlfriend and let Magnus get stabbed.
Now letting your friend get stabbed once is a common enough accident but letting them get stabbed 6 times is a problem.
“So, how did things go after I died,” Magnus asked during dinner. He noted that Mallory and Halfborn were holding hands under the table: they weren’t subtle. Then again, with the number of times he had caught them making out in the hallway, they didn’t exactly put any effort into being subtle.
“Well, since you died before you managed to stop the bleeding in my leg, I was left as a sitting duck,” TJ said. “I did manage to kill a guy from Floor 39 before getting an axe to the head though.”
“I’m guessing Halfborn and Mallory were too distracted with each other to watch your back,” Magnus teased. Although he had initially been a bit mad about the situation, watching Halfborn and Mallory get embarrassed was good payback.
“I already said I was sorry,” Halfborn said. “Besides, with you dead there wasn’t much of a point to helping TJ. He would have bled out eventually.”
“Thanks,” TJ said sarcastically.
“Hey, as long as you guys don’t start making out on the battlefield, I’m sure training will go a lot better in the future,” Magnus said.
“That wouldn’t be the worst way to die,” Halfborn said. Mallory smacked him on his arm, her face currently as red as her hair.
“I wouldn’t look forward to us ending up impaled on the same lance because you decided to distract me.”
“Being impaled together is peak romance,” Magnus said.
“Shut up, Beantown. I’ll be sure to pay back the teasing once you get a crush,” Mallory said.
“Sure, but that’s never gonna happen.”
Annabeth had a break from school and decided to use the time to go up to Boston and check up on Magnus. Magnus appreciated that despite her own crazy life dealing with the Greek gods—and apparently the Roman gods too which were somehow different and that was super confusing but okay—she still took time to visit him.
“As much as it sucked to die the first time, I’m just glad I never had to deal with monster attacks on top of math tests,” Magnus said when Annabeth recounted how she almost missed an important test last week because of some harpy attacks.
“Well, I can’t be too envious when you die on a daily basis. Percy and I are just trying to get through the year and then it’ll be off to college in New Rome.”
“Percy. That’s your boyfriend, right?”
“Yup. Not the best at standardized tests, but he’s a quick thinker when it comes to dealing with monsters. He’s also a huge dork, but reliable, honest, and sweet.”
“He sounds cool. So, when do I get to meet him? I mean, if you guys get married in the future I wanna know what my new cousin will be like.”
“Magnus, you butt,” Annabeth said, punching him in the shoulder. “How can you say that so casually?”
“I mean, he sounds like he’ll be a great addition to the family.”
“Oh, my gods, shut up.”
“So, my question is are you taking his last name, or would he take yours? Or are you guys planning on hyphenating them together and if so whose surname will go first and—"
“Definitely hyphenated. Wait, I don’t mean to say—”
“Is your mom going to show up for the wedding? And what about Percy’s dad? Is it going to be awkward for me as a Norse demigod to be there by Greek gods? Is it offensive or—”
“Magnus, could you remind me about the conditions of your semi-immortality as an einherji, because I’m considering strangling you right now,” Annabeth said, hiding her face in her hands.
“Sorry. Have to make up for the lost years of playful teasing,” Magnus said. They were cousins after all, it was basically mandatory for them to tease each other.
“I’ll make sure to return the favor then whenever you get a significant other.”
“Good luck with that, because it’s never gonna happen.”
Halfborn was the first to notice when it happened.
Things had finally calmed down once it was time for dinner. Magnus had finally met the elusive einherji that had given Sam a black eye and proceeded to cause general chaos at the hotel. He wasn’t sure what to think of Alex, and all previous assumptions of her had been flipped on its head.
She had that dark look in her eyes, a look that Magnus had back when he was still homeless. He had had a hard time trusting anyone back then too. That didn’t mean that she herself was untrustworthy. After all, she had taken down that lindworm and helped Magnus when Loki was channeling power through him.
“There’s no shame in being attracted, Magnus,” Halfborn said, causing Magnus to quickly look away from the new einherji.
“What? No, I wasn’t--”
Magnus knew Halfborn was just messing with him. It was just a petty and weak attempt at payback for his past teasing. He hadn’t even realized he had been staring at Alex, but it wasn’t because he found her attractive! Not to say she wasn’t attractive, she was, but that was just an aesthetic observation.
Besides, she was pretty impressive during combat training, even if she did decapitate him.
But it seemed that Halfborn didn’t plan on dropping it any time soon.
“Getting decapitated by your crush is peak romance,” Halfborn said the next day at breakfast. Fortunately, Alex wasn’t there at the moment.
“Oh? Are you saying Magnus has a crush on our newest hallmate?” Mallory asked.
“I don’t have a crush,” Magnus said. “I barely even know her.”
“But I’ll bet you want to.”
“You guys are just looking for something to tease me about. Well, it’s not going to work because I know for a fact that I don’t have a dumb crush.”
“Your denial is adorable,” Mallory laughed as Magnus grabbed a bagel and stormed out.
If you crash a wedding and kill some giants with a girl, then of course you’d admire her. Magnus loved and admired all of his friends, so he didn’t see why it would be weird to think of Alex in the same way.
At least that’s what he said when Sam asked him when they met up for lunch.
“You sound pretty defensive. Besides, I don’t think you stare at anyone else the way you do with Alex.”
“I don’t stare!”
Sam smiled. “Oh, really. And did you think I didn’t notice how red you turned when you saw Alex in that wedding dress?”
Magnus wished they were currently in Valhalla so he could stab himself and avoid this conversation by simply dying. “I was just surprised. She really looked the part.”
“Mhm. Are you sure you don’t want me to ask you what your intentions are with my sister?”
Magnus choked. Why couldn’t this have just been a nice and friendly falafel lunch? “I don’t—”
“Sorry, it’s just all too easy to tease you about your crush.”
“I don’t have a crush. Alex and I are just friends.”
“I can’t believe my future in-law is so dense,” Sam said, shaking her head as Magnus slammed his head against the food court table.
“I need to learn ASL,” Alex said. He and Magnus were currently visiting Boston--it was strictly a friend outing--and they decided to stop by at Blitzen’s Best.
Hearth could read lips easily enough and Magnus didn’t mind translating for Alex, but Alex mentioned that he wanted to be able to communicate directly with Hearth rather than relying on someone else to translate what Hearth was saying.
“Ask Magnus to tutor you. I’m sure he’d love to spend time with you since he’s disgustingly in love with you,” Hearth signed, causing Magnus to flush red.
He soon realized that Alex was waiting for a translation, so he quickly explained, “Oh, Hearth’s just suggesting that I tutor you in ASL.”
“That’d be cool. Just lemme know when so I can clear up my busy schedule.”
Magnus rolled his eyes. “Alex, you spent all day yesterday rewatching Queer Eye.”
“As I said, I have a very busy schedule.”
“I recommend you do it soon so you two can kiss already and Magnus doesn’t have to just stare at you longingly,” Hearth signed. Next to him, Blitz was struggling not to laugh.
“I’m concerned about what you just said," Alex said, noticing that Blitz had now devolved into quiet snickers that he really wasn't putting much effort into hiding.
“Hearth just joked that he hopes it doesn’t turn into ASL to the death,” Magnus said, awkwardly laughing. He quickly signed back, “I do not have a crush on Alex, so stop it.”
“No. I will keep saying these things until you ask Alex out. Blitz is excited to plan the outfits for your future wedding.”
Magnus was so glad Alex didn’t know ASL.
Magnus was going to start training with Percy to prepare for their trip. So, he was finally going to meet the boyfriend Annabeth talked about so much. Alex was coming just in case training turned too deadly and Magnus needed someone to drag his body back to the hotel.
Also, for moral support. Yay.
Turns out Alex wasn’t the best for moral support, because all she did was yell out diving scores while Percy was teaching Magnus how to properly jump off a boat without dying on impact.
“That was a 5 if I’m being generous! Come on, Magnus, you can do better than that.” Alex yelled out.
Magnus pulled himself up on land, gasping as his lungs greedily took in as much air as possible. “This isn’t as easy as it looks, you know.”
“We can take a break if you want,” Percy said. Annabeth’s boyfriend had been exactly how Magnus had imagined—tall, well-built, dark windswept hair, handsome features. He really looked the part of a demigod. Hel, he looked more godly than most of the gods Magnus had met.
Magnus congratulated Annabeth on having a cute boyfriend. She blushed and playfully punched his shoulder.
“That sounds like a good idea,” Magnus said. He had gotten a few minor injuries over the past hour and having to constantly heal himself was starting to tire him out.
“Are your bones good enough that you’ll live through lunch?” Alex said.
Magnus laughed. “Yeah, pretty sure my bones are good.”
“Alright, let’s go get lunch,” Percy said. He and Alex led the way, chattering away as Alex asked questions about the Greek demigod life and Percy asked about Valhalla.
“So, do the Norse gods not have anything for when you’re alive?” Percy said.
“Nope! You’re fucked over until you die,” Alex said.
Annabeth hung back with Magnus, eventually breaking the silence to ask nosy questions. As family does.
“So, what’s up with you and Alex?”
“What do you mean?”
Annabeth gave him a knowing smile, lowering her voice. “You like her, don’t you?”
Magnus flushed red. “No! She’s right there, please don’t make this weird.”
“Really? And here I was ready to congratulate you on having such a cute girlfriend.”
“Why does everyone seem to think I have a crush on Alex?”
Annabeth raised an eyebrow in disbelief, probably considering that to be a dumb question. “Because we have eyes, Magnus.”
“I am now regretting that time I was teasing you. Do you want a framed apology letter to buy your silence?”
“Magnus, despite my teasing, I do think there’s something between you and Alex. I mean, from the little I’ve seen of you two interacting I can confidently say there’s a bit of flirting in between that banter; from both sides. I can tell hanging out with her makes you happy,” Annabeth said. “And I want you to be happy.”
Magnus couldn’t help but blush even more at the implications that Alex might be flirting with him. He wasn’t sure if that was true, and even if it was he wouldn’t know what to do with that information. But Annabeth was smart. She gave good advice.
“Also, Alex will be a great addition to the family.”
Compliments retracted. Annabeth’s advice was biased.
It was during combat training that a revelation hit Magnus like a derailed motorcar. He and his floormates were making good progress, and so far none of them had died. Magnus knelt down to heal Mallory’s head wound, which was why he didn’t notice the girl from Floor 48 that came up behind him.
Magnus turned around just as the girl raised her glaive to impale him, but she didn’t get to as she was yanked backwards by a golden garrote looped around her neck. With one swift move, Alex slit her throat.
“Got your back, Magnus,” Alex said. Her hair stuck to her face from sweat and blood, but that didn’t stop her from grinning triumphantly. Despite the situation--the groups of corpses, the stench of fire and death, the battle cries of warriors in the distance--Magnus could only focus on Alex and how radiant and brave she looked in that moment.
Unfortunately, Magnus was so distracted by her smile that he didn’t notice the sniper until he had an arrow sticking out of his neck.
He woke up in his room an hour later, and promptly turned over and screamed into his pillow.
“I have a crush on Alex Fierro,” he mumbled.