It’s not until the very last second that a flutter of nerves sends Magnus’ pulse tripping. Something in his chest clenches with a flash of panic. What if this changes everything? But then the door opens and all Magnus can do is step into the unknown.
Whatever he expected from a room in which a scientific experiment is about to take place, this isn’t it.
Magnus expected miles of cables and neon light glinting off a wall of monitors, the noisy whirr of computers and cameras following his every move with their red blinking lights. Either this project is grossly underfunded, or Magnus watches too many Sci-Fi movies. The room is austere, empty except for two lamps, a table with a tape recorder, and two chairs. The soft, clean white of the walls is soothing Magnus’ nerves.
It’s just talking. Magnus is an exceptional and (so he’s been told) charming conversationalist even on a bad day. He can answer a bunch of questions, even if he thinks the research topic is pointless.
Strangers don’t fall in love. In lust, yes, Magnus has done that plenty of times. But not love. Most people can’t even tell the difference and end up hurt and disappointed. Magnus wishes he could claim that he isn’t one of them.
Lust—yes. Oh god, yes. Magnus’ stomach drops when the door on the other side of the room opens, and out steps the most gorgeous man Magnus has seen in—ever.
The meaning of tall, dark, and handsome shifts in Magnus’ mind, sudden and irrevocably, forever reshaped to bear this strangers’ face. Something twists in his chest and spreads through his veins, sharp and hot like fire. Magnus recognizes the first spark of interest, so vivid he’s instantly swept away by images of short, dark strands of hair slipping through his fingers and generous lips sliding against his own.
As instructed they sit down at the table, facing each other. “I’m Magnus.” Magnus extends his hand, pleased when the man doesn’t hesitate to shake it. His handshake is warm and firm, his palm a little damp. Nerves. At least Magnus isn’t the only one.
“Alec. Hi!” Alec’s smile is small but it reaches his eyes. It’s impossible to mistake the glittering in them for anything but blatant interest that matches Magnus’ own. Pity. It seems this experiment is ruined before it even started.
Their introductions are brief. They both live in New York, and Magnus learns that Alec is a homicide detective with the NYPD. It surprises Magnus, but that is probably more because the detectives in the late-night reruns rarely look like they stepped out of a high gloss magazine. Magnus supposes they both don’t quite fit the mold; people rarely associate a professor in anthropology with the crisp, navy winged eyeliner he took great care to apply this morning.
“Well then, I believe we have some questions waiting for us,” Magnus says, finding himself a lot more eager to get this thing started than ten minutes ago. “Ready to bare your soul?”
Alec’s dry snort tells Magnus that he isn’t the only one that didn’t come here of his own volition.
As much as Magnus loves his friends, their meddling with his love life is a constant point of irritation and has led to more than one embarrassing situation. And yet, here Magnus is again because his best friend signed him up for this experiment. Cat conveniently forgot to tell him before it was too late to drop out, counting on his reluctance to be unnecessarily rude. Sometimes having friends that know him so well sucks.
“You go first.” Alec pushes the stack of small cards in the middle of the table towards Magnus gingerly, almost as if he’s trying to convince it to be gentle.
“I imagine this is quite different from what you’re used to.” Magnus winks, making it clear that he’s just teasing.
He needn’t have worried that maybe his joke fell flat. Alec barks out a low laugh, looking positively delighted. “Yeah, I’m usually on the other side of the table. Maybe I’ll learn a new trick or two. Mix things up a little with the perps.”
“It will be my pleasure to help you out with new experiences,” Magnus says and picks up the first card from the stack, not at all charmed by the way the corners of Alec’s mouth lift at the corners. Attraction, nothing more. “When did you last sing to yourself?” He reads the neat print on the card out loud, laying it down on the table between them. Magnus hesitates for a second, but Alec picks up on it. Of course it would be Magnus’ luck to be partnered up with a real-life detective who's not only a trained interrogator but most likely versed in reading even small nuances of body language.
“Now I’m curious,” Alec says, picking up the card and twirling it between his fingers before he lays it down, tapping it thoughtfully. They’re nice fingers, long and strong with perfectly manicured nails. Magnus can’t help but mirror the motion, keeping his fingers just barely from touching Alec’s.
“Actually, I sang to myself on my way here. An old lullaby my mother sang to me when I was little. After all these years it still soothes me when I’m nervous or upset.”
“You were upset when you came here?”
Any reservations Magnus might have had about sharing something so personal vanish into thin air the moment Alec’s eyes soften and he covers Magnus’ hand, squeezing lightly. Magnus barely knows this man, but everything about Alec screams sincerity, makes him feel safe and appreciated.
“Nervous,” Magnus admits, swallowing around the sudden tightness in his throat. “I could have been paired up with a yeti.”
“Who said that you weren’t?” Alec grins and lets go of Magnus’ hand with a parting squeeze. “My sister always tells me that I look like a caveman when I haven’t shaved for two days after a double shift.”
“As an anthropologist, cavemen are somewhat of a specialty of mine. They’re quite fascinating. Broad chest, lots of hair and testosterone.” As soon as the words tumble from his mouth, Magnus holds his breath. He’s a master of innuendo, and even if he doesn’t try, something not entirely appropriate often slips out at the most inopportune circumstances. Like an actual scientific experiment. Oh well, it’s not as if he’s invested in the outcome, no matter how alluring the company.
“Good. That’s good.”
That’s all Alec has to say on the matter, not bothered in the slightest as he reaches for the next card, navigating the slightly awkward situation with remarkable aplomb. But then, terrible puns probably don’t even register as a blip on the radar in a seasoned cop’s daily routine.
“Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would be your ideal dinner guest?” Alec reads, his brows drawing together as he places the card on top of the one Magnus just answered. “What does that even mean? An ideal guest is somebody who doesn’t complain about the food even if the vegetables are soggy and helps with the dishes, but I guess that’s not what this means.”
A barrel of emotions flickers over Alec’s expressive features, none of which Magnus can read. Alec casts him a long look. This time it’s him who’s trying to decide if he can trust Magnus.
“Hey, it’s okay if you don’t want to say more. You already answered the question. Nothing says you need to give a name.”
“No, it’s not—I just don’t think about people I don’t know, not in that theoretical way the question suggests. I like to think about the people I know and care for. I’ve got my work cut out with that.” Alec laughs a little and shrugs, leaning back in his chair. “That sounds way deeper than it is. It’s just a stupid question. I don’t know everyone in the world, so how would I know if they’re an ideal dinner guest?”
Alec is a grown man, but frowning over a question he deems pointless he looks so much like a disgruntled cat that Magnus bursts out laughing. Most people would have chosen an artist or a politician to surround themselves with an air of sophistication, but Detective Lightwood disputes the question. It’s such a different viewpoint from Magnus’ own who thinks about strangers for professional reasons and out of curiosity all day long, but presented so calm and matter of fact that Magnus wonders how he didn’t see any fault with the question himself. It’s been a long time since Magnus was this intrigued with somebody outside his line of work.
“Tell me who you’d like to have dinner with, then,” Magnus prompts, not quite ready to move on. “Out of all the people you know.”
“My brother Jace.” Alec’s answer comes without hesitation, his mouth and eyes softening with fondness. Magnus doesn’t have siblings, but if he had he hopes they’d look at him like this. “He’s a terrible dinner guest, always helps himself first and takes the biggest steak. Always finds a reason to duck out of helping with the clean-up. It’s been like that since we were kids, but in return he doesn’t complain about my cooking and pretends he actually likes it.” Alec grins, looking at Magnus from beneath his lashes as if he’s confessing a secret, and Magnus finds himself drawn in and leaning close eagerly. “We always tease our sister Izzy about her abysmal cooking skills, but the truth is that I’m not that much better.”
“That sounds lovely. Seems like dinner with your siblings is quite an entertaining affair.”
“They used to be.” Something akin to wistfulness settles over Alec, dimming his smile like the sun becoming veiled by clouds. His whole body draws into itself, his knuckles white where he clasps his hand on the table. It seems impossible how small this literal mountain of a man can suddenly appear. Magnus’ throat constricts with sympathy, and he has to stop himself from reaching out consciously. He barely knows this man. But it feels like he knows him, and it didn’t stop Alec.
“And now it’s not?” Magnus skims his fingertips over the knuckles of Alec’s hand, skin prickling when the knotted fingers relax under his touch. It shouldn’t be this easy, shouldn’t feel so natural.
“I—I did something I’m not proud of.” Alec swallows and looks at their hands, loosening his grip so he can turn his hand and brush his fingertips against Magnus’, lost in thought for a moment until he physically pulls himself together. They’re barely touching, electricity crackling in the sliver of air between their skin. It makes Magnus’ breath catch in his throat, but it seems to settle Alec’s emotions. “We haven’t talked in weeks. It all seems so stupid now, so petty. I should go and apologize. I will.” Sucking in a deep breath, Alec slumps back in his chair. “You know, these questions are total garbage. You weren’t wrong about baring our souls. Can’t they just ask us about our favorite burger?”
The heavy air between them lifts as soon as they aren’t touching anymore. It helps Magnus to clear his head enough to remember to reach for the next card, gives him something else to focus on than this strange connection that seems to surpass simple attraction.
“Let’s hope I didn’t jinx it then,” Magnus says, holding his next card up between two fingers. He means it. As fascinating as he finds Alec—fascinating being a massive understatement, he’s riveted—this is about all the soul-baring in front of strangers he can stomach without copious quantities of alcohol.
“I like your nail polish.”
One quiet remark, and the shaky equilibrium Magnus regained seconds ago is once again shot to hell. There’s no hidden meaning in the words, no come-on, just Alec’s quiet, absolute focus on him that makes something in Magnus’ chest loosen and unravel at an alarming speed. It’s unsettling, the whole experiment is. Magnus feels off-kilter, more drawn to Alec with every passing second, and he isn’t sure he likes it.
He didn’t ask for this.
In the back of his mind a voice that sounds like his friend Ragnor snorts inelegantly. Ah, my friend, but you did.
As much as Magnus wants to object, he's never been prone to deceiving himself. He's still a romantic at heart, wants to believe in that one true love that will get under his skin so deep he'll never want anyone else. He just doesn't think it's out there for him. All around him people are happy and well into starting their own family, and at thirty-three all he has to offer is a battered heart that was broken and stomped on one time too many.
But what if?
"I'm sorry if that was too much," Alec's voice cuts into Magnus' thoughts when the silence between them stretches out uncomfortably long.
"No! No, not all. I just don't usually get compliments without an ulterior motive. It's always Magnus this, Magnus that. Or people wanting to get into my pants." Magnus shrugs unapologetically. It's not bragging if it's the truth. He's been around the block, perhaps once or twice too many. A warm body is an excellent cure for just about everything.
"Shame, people should be nicer to each other." Alec stretches and rolls his shoulders, wincing a little around a yawn. "Sorry, long night at the precinct."
Magnus tries to focus on that, yet another glimpse of the kind and thoughtful man he can sense under the handsome facade, but it's impossible not to notice how Alec's shirt stretches tightly over his broad shoulders and chest. Magnus is only so strong, and Alec’s particular brand of intelligence, paired with heart and devastatingly good looks are quickly drawing him in.
“Anyway, the color suits you.” Alec inclines his head towards Magnus hand where he’s still holding the card between his fingers. “I’ve never seen a guy who can pull off sparkly, turquoise nail polish. It’s unusual. Special. Like you.”
The bold statement sends a flutter of warmth through Magnus, curling in his middle and quickly traveling up until he can feel the tips of his ears grow hot. Without a doubt Alec will notice it, but at least Magnus manages to keep his voice steady. “Are all detectives this blunt?”
“Only when the situation calls for it.” Alec smiles, quite obviously pleased with himself. “So, what do you have?”
“What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?” Magnus reads, glad it gives him something else to think about than the slow, erratic thud of his heart.
"That's a question for long nights of introspection, but I think we're already pushing our allotted time frame."
Magnus puts the card on the smaller pile and loosely clasps his hands. "I don't like to think there's just one single accomplishment that obliterates everything else I've done in my life. From an outsider's perspective my academic career as a professor at one of the top universities in the world most likely is the pinnacle of success. I love my career and I work hard for it, but I don' t value my personal achievements any less for it."
„I imagine you have quite a lot of those as well." Alec nods, his face serious and intent as he listens, his hazel eyes fixed on Magnus. "I get it. My job is important to me, but I want to be more than just Detective Lightwood. I need to be Alec, too. Matter to someone as family, a friend, a lover."
"Since we're both here, it would seem we're still working on the latter," Magnus laughs and winks to lighten the mood. It's working. Alec smiles, a little sheepish, his eyes lighting up with humor and a faint flush spilling down his neck. He really is exquisite.
If they'd met in a club, Magnus would have made his move already, willing to forget pretty much every standard he has about potential partners for a face and body like Alec’s. Intellect isn’t exactly a necessity for a night of anonymous passion. Hell, Magnus has half a mind to tell Alec screw this, let’s get out of here. The way Alec’s eyes keep straying to his mouth tells him he wouldn’t be turned down. But there’s more to Alec than stunning looks, more to the heat that’s spreading languorously in Magnus’ system. Less than half an hour and Magnus is already in much deeper than with people he’s known for months.
Magnus wants to call it potential but it feels like more than that. Potential means something might happen, but hasn’t it already? Wishful thinking, the magic of the moment, whatever it is, something is there between them and Magnus wants it. It scares him; too much too soon, like standing on the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go but taking a leap of faith.
The next questions fly by in a blur, scraps of information painting an even more captivating picture of Alec. Magnus files away Alec’s indignant Hey when he can’t hold back his surprise at learning that Alec plays the piano, offering the same sentiment in comfort after Alec’s halting confession about his strained relationship with his father. That’s another thing they have in common, and once again Alec’s hand over his own is a welcome touch that soothes an ache Magnus thought long healed.
“Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.” Alec leans back heavily and runs a hand through his hair, muttering something Magnus can’t quite catch but that sounds a lot like for fuck’s sake.
“Out with it, darling.” It’s really just a slip of the tongue, but oh, if Magnus had known that the simple endearment would make Alec look at him like he’s two seconds from rounding that table, he would have done it an hour ago. Heat burns its way up his spine, sharp and sudden, leaving behind a lingering warmth that feels almost like a touch.
Almost, but not enough.
There’s a split second of hesitation before Alec straightens and meets Magnus’ eyes. “I almost got married. Tuxedo, white gown, the whole shebang.”
“That’s—interesting?” The warmth that a moment ago suffused Magnus whole body simmers down and gives way to mild confusion. “Forgive me, darling, but you don’t strike me—”
“Straight, bi. I just don’t think women are your type.” The ridges of Magnus’ ear cuff tickle against his fingertips as he fiddles with it. It’s a nervous tick, something he unconsciously does when he’s uneasy, but like hell Magnus will admit to that. He meets Alec’s eyes straight on, lowers his lashes just the tiniest bit to make it a challenge.
“Fuck no, I’m so gay I can’t even think straight,” Alec snorts. It should be gross and unbecoming, not even vaguely attractive. Maybe it’s simple relief that makes Magnus find it charming. “I wasn’t out back then. My parents arranged a marriage, and I was so deep in the closet that I didn’t know how to get out.”
“This story is truly scintillating, Alexander, but I’m glad you got out eventually.” Magnus quirks a smile, some of the tension easing out of him when it’s met with a smirk. The thought of Alec being with a woman (or really anyone) shouldn’t affect him at all, but here he is, a sour taste lingering in his mouth. Christ.
“That was the last time somebody called me that. Alexander,” Alec clarifies. “Right before I said No in front of the altar and came out to half of the city’s old money families. My mother almost fainted from sheer outrage, and my father told me to be a man and go through with it anyway. Which in return made me almost faint because I couldn’t breathe around my anger and disappointment.”
“I take it that’s part of the reason for your strained relationship?” Magnus isn’t sure what’s worse. Having a father who shows so little regard to his son’s feelings, or one who isn’t around at all. Either way, they both drew the short straw.
“My mother eventually came around but I haven’t seen my father since then.” Alec doesn’t look particularly upset. An old wound then. Magnus knows more about old wounds than he cares to admit. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t occasionally hurt.
“That wasn’t an easy thing to do. I’m proud of you, Alexan—Alec.”
“No, I like it.” Alec leans forward, their hands touching unerringly again. Just a brush of their fingertips, but it grounds Magnus, soothes his scraped raw nerves. Alec seems to feel the same because his eyes are bright and warm when he looks at Magnus. “It sounds different from you, like it matters. Like I matter.”
Magnus swallows around a lump in his throat. "You do matter. So much," he says, his voice hoarse, and he means it. To me. All of this may seem like a forgotten dream tomorrow. Magnus feels torn, spread thin by sharing so much of himself. He's unsure how much of what he feels are his own emotions and how much is a product of the intimacy that's forced on them, but Magnus knows that Alec is special. However they will go on from here, nothing will change that and Magnus will be richer for having been allowed to spend time with him.
Nodding jerkily, Alec smiles. A private, tiny thing that's all the more precious because Magnus put it there. "Thank you."
"Well then, second to last one. Shall we?" Magnus reaches for the next card of the now significantly smaller stack, eager to break the silence that follows after their last exchange. It's not an uncomfortable silence, quite the contrary. He has an inkling that quiet times with Alec are something to be cherished, but this moment feels private and he's reluctant to share it with whoever is undoubtedly listening in.
"Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?" Magnus reads the question and now it's his turn to mutter 'for fuck's sake'.
Goddamn, all of a sudden he's so sick of this soul striptease. Getting to know Alec has been nothing short of a revelation but Magnus wouldn't mind continuing their conversation over a triple shot latte and some lighter topics. He has opinions about Prada's spring collection and a feeling that Alec might just humor him. As he does right now, waiting patiently while Magnus mentally cartwheels through his thirty seconds of conniption.
"You okay?" Alec's voice is warm, soothing, a hint of concern deepening it. If that's his interrogation voice, criminals from all over the city must be standing in line.
"Yeah, let's get this over with." Magnus forces a smile, dropping it immediately when Alec gives him an unimpressed look. Well, it was worth a try. "This is a sore topic and in a way one of the reasons I'm here today."
Not even his best friends know what's sitting on the tip of Magnus' tongue. He pauses, looking at Alec for—he isn't quite sure what but receives nod and a smile anyway, and that's what makes him jump. "There's a box on the shelf of my office. It contains tokens from everyone I've ever been in a relationship with. Some remind me of happy times, lovers who crossed my path and we were right for each other until we weren't anymore."
"And some memories were not so happy?"
"I've loved once with everything I had, only to find out that person betrayed me in any way possible. I closed myself off years after that. Until—“ Today. Magnus carefully looks down on his flawlessly painted nails, not quite sure what he's implying. He's not in love with Alec. It's impossible. "Once or twice each year I open that box and go through its contents. It reminds me that I'm capable of love. Even if it isn't in the cards for me right now, which is entirely my fault, it gives me hope that one day I will find somebody who loves me the way I deserve. And that's why I would save that box even if the whole building would collapse around me."
"It's not your fault, it's that person's fault." Alec looks genuinely upset, a deep furrow between his eyes marring his lovely features. "But I get it. I don't love easily and I don't let myself be loved easily. Or so I've been told."
Magnus laughs ruefully. "What a pair we make."
"I'd say a pretty good one." Alec meets Magnus' eyes without reservation, frank and so soft it makes Magnus tremble with the effort to sort through his warring emotions.
"Put on the headphones on, start the tape, and stare into each others eyes for four minutes," Alec reads after picking up the last card. He barks out a laugh. "Now they're going easy on us?"
Magnus isn't so sure about that, but he's pleasantly surprised when the tape provides merely a background of ambient noise that fades into nothingness. Combined with the stark white of the room it feels like Magnus is falling, his world shrinking, their surroundings fading until it's just the two of them.
There's a green ring around the hazel of Alec's eyes, faint laugh lines Magnus didn't notice before surrounding them. It's a comforting thought that despite his often gruesome job, Alec still likes to laugh. As someone who celebrates life, Magnus can’t even imagine facing death in all its forms each day. If he had to, though, laughing with friends and family would be an absolute necessity to hang on to his humanity.
Right on cue, Alec smiles, his eyes crinkling at the corners. It softens his classic features, makes Magnus wonder how he'll look when he outright laughs with his head thrown back in mirth or happiness.
An image of Alec stretched out on the golden sheets in his loft flashes through Magnus' mind, Alec’s face relaxed in sleep and his lashes casting shadows against the crest of his cheek in the early morning light.
Magnus never takes anyone home.
Maybe it’s the heat that’s creeping up his neck, maybe his thoughts are splashed all over his face, but as soon as Magnus’ imagination takes flight, Alec’s gaze drops to his mouth again and the room around them grows several degrees hotter.
With the temperature, Magnus' heart rate spikes too. They aren't even touching but his skin prickles with Alec's imagined touch, and in the back of Magnus' mind his thoughts from earlier are rushing back to mock him. Instant attraction kills any possibility for deeper feelings? The hot mess of emotions in his chest, an explosive mix of want and something much softer, tells a different story.
Magnus wants. It’s not a new experience. He’s burned hot and fast like this before, but it’s been a long time since it felt like kindling rather than straw fire. Yes, he wants Alec with an intensity that feels like a punch to the chest, but at the same time he’s suffused with an inexplicable bone-deep satisfaction that’s rooted in the joy of simply being in Alec’s company.
Four minutes should last an eternity. In this room with Alec, they are over in the blink of an eye. Magnus startles when the tape runs out, the silence almost deafening around them. Before he can think of something witty to say, the door across the room opens, and an assistant calls for Alec to follow. His own name rings out a second later.
Everything goes so fast, Magnus doesn’t have the presence of mind to protest, to tell them No, he needs to talk to Alec. He remembers being briefed about the protocol, but right now he doesn’t give a damn. He doesn’t even have Alec’s number.
As a scientist, Magnus knows that experiments need to be documented and evaluated with utmost diligence. He also knows that the research assistant who asks him even more questions than he just answered is only doing her job. By signing the agreement before he went through that door, he agreed to everything that's happening now.
All rational thinking though can't alleviate the growing sense of urgency that makes Magnus snappish and even more impatient by the minute. Biting his tongue when the assistant's tablet crashes for the third time, Magnus is only mollified when she asks his consent to give his contact information to Alec. He signs that form with a bit of extra flourish, grumbling just a little when she rolls her eyes that yes, Mr. Lightwood will be asked to do the same. Well, maybe Magnus asked twice, but scientists can't be trusted.
After yet another technical mishap with the printer, Magnus is finally re-released into the real world. He's still thrumming with nervous energy and too many emotions, but he takes his time buttoning his coat and binding his scarf. Even if Alec decided to stick around and wait for him, he’d be long gone by now. Even angels aren't this patient. He'll have to wait for Alec's contact information or his call, hoping against all hope that the tablet saved at least this bit of information. Damn. Patience admittedly isn't a virtue he can claim for himself.
Magnus steps out of the building, ducking his head against the cold and debating on which direction to take. A walk and maybe a cup of coffee might do him some good to clear his head. So caught up in his thoughts, Magnus only notices Alec unfolding his tall frame from one of the benches lining the street when they're already standing close enough to touch.
"Alexander!" Magnus breathes full of wonder, reaching out for him at the same moment Alec reaches for him.
"I thought I missed you," Alec says quietly, fisting his hands into the lapels of Magnus’ coat. His nose is red from the cold, and he's shivering in his too thin jacket because he waited for Magnus.
Something in Magnus cracks. A surge of warmth sweeps through him, sweet and heavy, leaving a dull roar in its wake that makes it impossible to form a thought beyond Yes.
It must show on his face, or maybe he said it out loud. Everything slows down as he tilts up his face and watches Alec’s eyes drop to his mouth again, their breath mingling in the chilly air between them. Alec’s skin is cold as he brings a hand up and strokes his thumb over Magnus’ cheek, but it still leaves a path of heat that sends Magnus’ heart racing.
“Can I—”Alec starts, his lovely brown eyes almost black when Magnus nods.
“Hey” someone shouts, a bicycle bell ringing up a storm behind them because they’re standing in the middle of the pavement. The moment is broken, and Magnus sighs with regret as he feels Alec straighten. Despite his warm coat, he suddenly shivers. Neither of them moves, though, the cyclist already gone and forgotten.
“Fuck,” Magnus says with feeling.
“Fuck,” Alec agrees and huffs out a laugh, brushing the back of his fingers against Magnus’ cheek. It almost makes up for the kiss Magnus was robbed of. “Should we get a drink first?”
“I was just about to get coffee.” Magnus nods and steps back, starting into the direction of a little coffee shop he saw on his way here. “You look like you could do with a something hot. Other than me.”
Alec laughs, throwing his head back before he quickly falls into step with Magnus. He looks even better than Magnus imagined. It’s only a short walk, seemingly even quicker with the additional spring in Magnus’ step. He didn’t miss the first in Alec’s question about getting a drink, and Magnus always collects.
Alec squeezes his eyes shut and rolls onto his back with a groan. It’s late already, little specks of dust dancing in the pale sunlight that’s streaming through a gap in the curtains. The other half of the bed is empty, he can tell by the lack of weight against his side, so he might as well get up. Not bothering with more than a pair of boxers, Alec steps out of the bedroom, following the delicious smell of fresh coffee and pancakes.
He could get used to this vacation thing. Especially if the first thing that greets him is the sight of Magnus in nothing but a pair of boxers and his favorite apron.
“Morning, Mr. Lightwood-Bane,” Alec murmurs as he steps behind Magnus and slides his arms around his middle, mindful of the spatula Magnus is brandishing. “This smells amazing.”
“Good morning to you, too, Mr. Lightwood-Bane.” Magnus tilts his head, giving Alec better access for the row of kisses he lays against his throat. “They better smell amazing. I had to borrow butter from Mrs. Rafferty downstairs because somebody distracted me yesterday and we never made it to the grocery store.”
“Isn’t that the purpose of a honeymoon?” Alec hums, stealing a bit of the pancake Magnus slides onto a plate. “Staying in bed all day and never leave the house?”
“Larceny before noon, detective?” Magnus scolds, his voice mock-stern as he swats at Alec’s hand. “We should at least stock up on food. I think I’m still blushing after listening to Mrs. Rafferty prattle on about the many creative uses of butter.”
“Did you learn anything interesting?”Alec grins and fills two cups of coffee, sitting down at the table while Magnus carries over their plates. His apron says ‘kiss the cook, often and everywhere’, framed by a glittery heart. Alec would be a terrible cop if he couldn’t carry out a direct order, and Magnus doesn’t even try to resist when Alec pulls him into his lap and starts on the arduous task to kiss him breathless.
Breakfast turns into brunch as they share small bites of pancake between kisses, each one longer and heavier than the last, their hands roaming over hot skin in long caresses. It’s only been three months since Alec snapped at Izzy for signing him up for an experiment he thought to be utterly pointless, three months filled with love and happiness and Magnus. Everyone, even their closest friends and family, called them crazy when they invited them for their impromptu wedding last week, but Alec couldn’t care less. This—Magnus is it for him, and he knows Magnus feels the same, so why wait?
Eventually, they’ll have to emerge from their touch-drunk bubble and face the real world again. Neither of them had been able to take off more than one week from work on such short notice, and there was no time for a proper vacation. Alec thinks he likes this even better, just the two of them in their home. They have a lifetime for traveling together. One honeymoon trip every year sounds about right to Alec.
They'll have to buy something nice for Izzy for making him go to that experiment. Maybe a toaster, but unlike Izzy, toasters belong into the kitchen and can explode, so perhaps a fruit basket.
"Alexander, I’m afraid you're not doing a very good job," Magnus interrupts his thoughts and wriggles a little in his lap, tugging on his apron. "Kiss me, or do I have to call the cops?”
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Alec murmurs against Magnus’ lips. He does take orders very well.