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The Soul I Have

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“Have you got any soul?" a woman asks the next afternoon. That depends, I feel like saying; some days yes, some days no. A few days ago I was right out; now I've got loads, too much, more than I can handle. I wish I could spread it a bit more evenly, I want to tell her, get a better balance, but I can't seem to get it sorted. I can see she wouldn't be interested in my internal stock control problems though, so I simply point to where I keep the soul I have, right by the exit, just next to the blues.”
― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

 

There was little Magnus loved above playing piano. Despite the hard work and the hours and hours poured in that didn’t always get rewarded, nothing could get in the way of him loving his piano. Even when his father had ridiculed him, told him he could never be successful, Magnus had ignored him and played on, because he loved it.

It had never been easy, being a successful musician was tough. It had taken years to make it a stable career, living through months and months of being behind on rent, stretching a single meal over a couple of days, sleepless nights wondering when he might get another paycheque, but he had still loved his instrument.

Despite the struggles, he had committed until it had become a semi-regular profession. It was difficult for it to ever be a regular job because Magnus didn’t play for a studio or have a regular place booked, but it was as regular as he was going to get it.

With his success and slight fame in the New York music scene, he did get a lot of bookings. His website boasted, quite rightly, of all the things he had achieved as a pianist. It showed his Grade Eight and Diploma, it showed his biggest and best performances with plenty of videos and sound recordings for people to watch and listen, and see if they wanted to book him for events and performances and anything else he might be able to play at. It listed his achievements in full, and it was the main source of his career, of his income.

It meant, because he was successful as a pianist, that he lived in a pleasant part of New York in a sizeable apartment. When he had first moved in, he had had help from his neighbours, who were called Isabelle and Clary.

This resulted in them securing their friendship early on. To this day, he didn’t know the neighbours on his left. Those two doors never seemed to open or, at least, not when Magnus was moving in and out of his own door. Magnus supposed it could have been because he worked odd hours, but he would have liked to have some sort of relationship with them.

The connection with Isabelle and Clary was wonderful, though, and he went over to their apartment and they came over to his often. Clary was a trainee tattoo artist and Isabelle was working her way up the fashion ladder. Occasionally, Jace, who was Clary’s boyfriend, was over, but Magnus didn’t know him all that well. He was also a pianist, but Magnus hadn’t met him often.

The main reason Magnus was over there was to gossip. He aided Isabelle in her relationship troubles with a guy called Simon, whom Magnus had never met. Magnus had also never met Isabelle’s brother, Alec, who was apparently a violinist.

They didn’t really talk about music. Although it was interesting he had that connection with them, that Isabelle’s two brothers, Jace being the foster brother, were musicians as well, music wasn’t a topic they often divulged in. They spoke mainly of Isabelle’s relationship struggles, work, daily things. It was pleasant to have a friendship with the people who lived next door.

It was currently a Friday evening. Magnus had no place to be as he wasn’t booked for anything for the remainder of the week, Clary had finished about an hour earlier, though she was currently working on some design for someone who wanted a tattoo, and Isabelle had also finished earlier, finally having secured a nine-to-five office job in fashion. Isabelle had knocked on Magnus’ door when she had gotten home and invited him over for a coffee. As Magnus was an extrovert and he hadn’t been in anyone’s company that day except for his dearest cat, Chairman Meow, he had accepted.

Their conversations had revolved mainly around work and Magnus complaining that he had been entirely bored all day. He hadn’t even practised, that was how bored he had been. He heard all about Clary’s client for she would be graduating out of an apprentice tattoo artist soon, and this was very exciting for her. Magnus often saw her designs, and she was certainly talented, and she worked hard on her craft to keep up her talent.

It then came around to Simon, as it often did. Magnus could tell there was a story at hand, and he refilled his mug to prepare himself for what he might have done this time.

“So, Alec and Jace have this performance tomorrow, right? And we got tickets for everyone because they only got two complementary tickets and those went to mum and dad, so we had to buy tickets for myself, Clary, Max, and Simon,” Izzy began, shaking her head. “This has been prepared for weeks. I mean, not weeks and weeks, but at least two.

“And Simon texts me today, and he basically says he won’t be able to make it because his sister has come into town. And it’s not like I’m mad about that, Simon deserves to see his sister, he doesn’t see her all that often, and it’s not even technically his fault because she did spring this on them and just turn up. But it’s like he didn’t even consider telling his sister that he had plans. He just dropped these plans like they were nothing, and that really bugs me.

“So, I text him back, ‘what am I supposed to do with your ticket?’ And he just says, ‘sell it’.” Izzy scoffed. “I love him to bits and that won’t be changing, but he’s oblivious to everything.”

Clary, who had likely heard this already, laughed through her nose. “He always has been.”

“It’s infuriating,” Izzy said. “I don’t even blame him, not really-.”

“But, at the same time, you do,” Magnus said, smiling.

“Exactly,” Izzy agreed, shaking her head, her long ponytail swinging behind her. “So, I mean, I asked a friend from work, and she’s coming along, but that’s not the point. The point is that he’s oblivious. And he has been ever since I met him, I just don’t understand how he can always be like this.”

“Some people are,” Magnus said.

Izzy tutted and tapped her fingers asked her mug, still irritated by it.

“But you love him all the same,” Magnus said.

“Somehow.” Izzy tutted again, but Magnus could tell she was fond.

That was one of the things Magnus did envy about these girls; they were in relationships. Magnus had found a nice balance in his life, work and play were balanced well, but he had never been able to fit relationships into that. The serious relationships he had had, they had never fit into his life, he had always found music more important. It was the only kind of balance he couldn’t manage, couldn’t keep around.

He had tried, but either they got fed up with him or he would get fed up with them. It was frustrating, and he envied those who could make it work with their careers, but Magnus hadn’t managed that yet.

“Have you got anything booked this weekend?” Isabelle asked Magnus.

He shook his head. “I am very free.” A typical Saturday might include Magnus playing somewhere, but he didn’t have anything booked for this Saturday. Magnus didn’t necessarily begrudge that. His life was hectic and he usually had something to do at all times. Having a block of time off was actually quite agreeable.

They chatted until it got quite late. It was the way it usually worked, and Magnus even stayed around for dinner, helping them cook. He liked spending time with them, and, when he bid goodnight, he was happy he had spent his evening in their company.

His Saturday the next day, which was quiet, went by relatively slowly. There was a nice café at the bottom of their building where Magnus went down to get coffee and cake. Other than that, nothing much happened. He practised for some upcoming gigs he had booked, but other than that, he had a lazy day.

He settled in for the evening, choosing a film and making himself some popcorn, and was content for the night. Whilst he was as extroverted as a person could be, he did need his moments alone. It might have been nice if he had some company, perhaps even a significant other he could call upon and ask to join him, but he was content to be here alone, watching a film, going to sleep when he wanted.

His phone started ringing about half way through the film, so Magnus paused it to answer. It was Isabelle, and he wondered what she could possibly need at half-past seven on a Saturday night when she was supposed to be at her brothers’ performance.

“Hello?” he answered when he picked up.

“Hello,” Isabelle replied. Magnus couldn’t quite work out her tone.

“Everything all right?” Magnus asked.

“Yes. Well, no, not really,” Isabelle said. Magnus waited for her to continue. “Okay, so Alec kind of needs someone to accompany him for this piece. It’s called ‘Kiss of the Moon’, and I thought I heard you mention it once, a few weeks back. Have you ever played it?”

“Yes,” Magnus affirmed. “It was a little while ago, but I do know it.”

“Oh, that’s really good news. Do you think you would you be able to accompany Alec?”

“Sure,” Magnus said, not understanding why Isabelle was so panicked. He would happily accompany someone whenever, it wasn’t something to work a fuss up about. It was his job, really, one of the many ways he made a living.

“That’s really good to hear. I’m so relieved.”

“When?” Magnus asked.

“Ah, right, yes.” She released a small laugh. “Tonight. In about an hour.”

Magnus paused.

“Magnus?” Isabelle prompted.

“Yes, I’m still here. Tonight? As in, tonight, tonight?”

“Well, you see, Jace, who was Alec’s accompaniment, he’s gotten really sick. He thought he would be able to play, but he can’t, not anymore. It’s so last minute and I am so sorry to put this on you, but my parents are willing to compensate you.”

“No, no, I get it,” Magnus said, he was used to these impromptu performances, they were a major part of his career. “Where?”

Isabelle explained the details and Magnus agreed to come down. It had been a while since he had played it, but he had long since learned to sight-read perfectly, so having the notes in front of him would jog his memory. The main issue was that he had never played alongside Alec, and he would have to get used to the way he played and his rendition of it very quickly. It was just something they were going to have to deal with it, things like this happened on occasion and musicians just had to play like it wasn’t an issue.

Magnus got ready hurriedly, eating his popcorn because he wasn’t going to let it go to waste, and then finding a nice suit that he hoped matched Alec’s. He grabbed his keys and locked his apartment, descending the stairs sometimes three at a time. One of the greatest pleasures about being a pianist was that he did not have to drag his instrument with him wherever he went.

His three options of travel were cab, driving, or taking the subway, and he decided on the latter. It was still going to take him longer than he cared for, but he had only been warned a few minutes earlier, he couldn’t control his tardiness.

In a perfect world, he would like to get there with enough time to run through any changes with Alec himself, maybe even get a short amount of practice in. It meant he was annoyed when things were even twenty seconds late. He would stand there, bouncing anxiously as he waited for the train to pull up, for people to get off, and then until he could get on. Nothing moved nearly quickly enough when you were anxious to get somewhere.

Although it had been a while since he had played ‘Kiss of the Moon’, he was still trying to run it through in his head as he travelled through the City. He had a perfect memory for most of the pieces he had played so he was sure, when he had the trigger of the piece in front of him, it would come back to him. He would have really loved it if he had some time to prepare, but he had had to play at impromptu times like this before. A change in schedules, a change in accompaniments, a change in this, that, or the other all triggered things like this, so Magnus was used to it, but it didn’t mean it was easy to prepare for because, well, you can’t prepare for it.

Eventually, the subway got him where he needed to be, and he hurriedly walked to the hall where Alec was performing.

At the door, as he didn’t have a ticket or a pass to get backstage where he needed to be, he had to text Isabelle that he had arrived and was not being let in. This took another few minutes of time no one had.

“Thank you so much,” Isabelle said when he had finally been allowed in. “It’s been such a meltdown.”

“I can imagine.” Magnus followed her through a door that led to the backstage area.

Magnus had never performed in here before, but the crowd size was one he had performed in front of plenty of times. Magnus had never had stage fright. The issue wasn’t the crowd, it was the fact he had never met Alec before, let alone played alongside him. Every musician played a certain way, particularly when they were at the level he and Alec were at, they had their own style. It could take months, years even, to learn the way someone played. Magnus had about ten minutes.

The waiting area before the stage was full of musicians and instruments. Magnus spotted Alec easily, not because he had ever met him before but because of how, well, how striking he was. He was wearing this black suit with a bowtie, holding his violin and string with white knuckles. He was pale, and he had thick, black hair, and Magnus could see how deeply blue his eyes were even from his current distance. There was a resemblance to Isabelle, sure, but Magnus could not help but note how sharp Alec’s features were, how pleasant they looked and the only resemblance he could think of, in that moment, was their hair.

When he saw the door open, Alec looked towards it, and he seemed to sag out of relief. Although they had no time to rehearse, this was a whole lot better than having no accompaniment.

When they reached him, they shook hands.

“Magnus, right?” Alec asked.

“Yes,” Magnus said, smiling. “How long before we’re out?”

“About ten minutes,” Alec said, and he swallowed thickly. “I could kill Jace for this.”

“It’s not, really, his fault,” Isabelle said.

“It is. He could have said he was sick this morning,” Alec said. “You should go sit down,” he told his sister.

“Good luck,” Isabelle said. She squeezed his arm and then threw a smile at Magnus before she disappeared, able to watch this all from the comfort of her own seat.

Now they were alone and the seconds were ticking down, Magnus ignored how damn pretty Alec was and how much he wanted to flirt with him, and asked, “So, let me know what’s different. Did you change anything?”

Talking it through wouldn’t be enough. Words could never convey what music could, and so it would not convey the exact way Alec played.

Magnus knew, even now, it was going to be a rocky start. They would have to make it work, but it was going to be a rough beginning. Magnus had been playing for twenty-two years, Alec had been playing for fifteen, so they had enough knowledge to make it work.

Magnus would have liked to chat with him for a while longer because they had something in common and he was super cute, but that just wasn’t going to happen. The ten minutes were up and the compère was out on the stage, talking to the crowed. He mentioned a slight change in the programme and then Magnus’ name, and then the two of them were walking out, onto the stage.

Just before they emerged past the curtain, Alec gave him the sheet music, so Magnus carried it out and placed it down, sitting at the piano seat. He didn’t have any tails, it wasn’t formal enough for that. He just sat and stretched his fingers.

He could see Alec from his position at the piano. Whilst Magnus was playing the accompaniment and that was integral to the piece, Alec was the focus of this. Magnus would be of note, but it was Alec’s name that came first, it was Alec everyone saw first. They both had importance, but Magnus was aware that Alec was the essential part and he understood that completely. It was another part of being a pianist, being prepared to not be in the centre.

As Magnus played insanely well, he often took some attention that not all pianists took, but Magnus thought that might not be the case today. He didn’t want to take the spotlight, but he was aware that he wouldn’t necessarily be able to either. It was their first time playing together, Magnus wanted to keep it subtle so things didn’t go awry.

The hush fell pleasantly over the crowd, the way Magnus adored. It was one of the best feelings, Magnus believed, knowing the audience was here for you, to listen to you. He could feel their eyes, watching them both, the hush over the audience meaning they were listening acutely, ready for it to begin. There was no composer to keep the tempo, it was just up to Magnus and Alec to play. Magnus knew this was because Jace and Alec, when they played together, didn’t need a composer, but Magnus would have liked one today.

Alec put himself in position, holding himself beautifully as violinists did, spine straight, neck tilted, arms perfectly steady. He glanced once at Magnus, as it was the piano that began ‘Kiss of the Moon’, and Magnus nodded.

It was time to begin.

There was another world Magnus entered when he played piano. Whether he was playing alone, as part of a duet, or as a larger ensemble, he entered this world where nothing else existed except for him and the beautiful instrument in front of him, under his fingertips. It was a perfect world, nothing around to impair it or ruin it for him, and he loved being able to enter it whenever he played.

It usually brought up memories of when he had first sat at a piano. It had been so many years ago, his little feet hadn’t even been able to reach the pedals, but he hadn’t cared. It was a beautiful thing, he remembered it always, even all these years later.

As his father had never really looked after him, even at six, Magnus was often cared for by the lady who had lived next door, whose name was Charlotte. As she owned a music store, she would take Magnus down to it and let him explore as the day went by. It had been a special time for Magnus, finding his love like that.

The first time, she had had to help him climb up onto the stool of the piano. He had been quite short as a child, his growth spurt coming fast and over a short period of time when he was a teenager.

He had sat at that piano, and he had fallen in love.

And he was still in love.

It had been a long and difficult ordeal trying to learn to sight-read, but he had perfected the art of it until he could play anything just by reading the sheet music. It was perfect for times like these when he had played something a fair few months back. He would, typically, play something until he wouldn’t need the music in front of him, but when he had played it a few months ago, he needed the music before him to keep his memory functioning, to keep his hands moving as smoothly as they needed to move.

Magnus started his beginning bars, which were quiet, waiting to build to something bigger. He could see the slight shift in Alec’s stance as he prepared to begin playing, the way he straightened even further, the way his arms set in place. There was going to be a moment of disjointed playing, Magnus was sure, but they would manage it eventually. They were both skilled enough in this art, they would be able to make it work.

The thing about being such high-level musicians meant they should be able to play perfectly with each other no matter what. But the other thing about being such high-level musicians meant they had their own styles, whether they were distinct or subtle, and trying to match your style with someone else’s when you had never played with them before was no easy feat. They would just have to play together and hope they could alter themselves enough until they fit together, until their styles matched.

It would sound beautiful to an untrained ear, when Alec’s turn began and they started playing together. To an untrained ear, it was a beautiful thing, the music was played, the bars were performed, they fit together relatively well.

To a trained ear, they would hear the disjointed way they did not fit together when Alec began. It wasn’t major, but it took a few bars to start playing together, to start playing distinctly well. As Alec knew this piece better and because it was Alec’s performance, Magnus was trying to let Alec lead, but it appeared Alec was trying to make Magnus lead, and that was where the issues came. One part of Magnus was trying to get lost in his world of music and the other was trying to stay present to figure out how Alec was playing this.

When he figured Alec was letting Magnus lead, they began to sync up. Despite having never played with Alec, Magnus led his way through it. He had never played it as a leading piece before, but he did what he could. Whilst they did get there, eventually, to a place where they were on the same page figuratively and were playing in the same tone, he was sure the musicians in the crowd, the critics, the snobs as well, could hear it and were not pleased it took them time to get there.

But Magnus wasn’t focused on that. Instead, he was focusing on the fact they were playing well together, beautifully well. He could allow himself, after their disjointed playing, to be lost to his world of music, touching the keys with love, his feet working the pedals with ease. He adored the ivory and ebony keys, he adored the feel of them underneath his gentle, perfected touch.

The music built to its crescendo, them both playing together. Magnus glanced at Alec and saw a beautiful vision in him as he played. He couldn’t see his features too well, just his profile, but he looked exquisite. It was like he came alive, like playing this music, playing his instrument brought his body to life, made him thrive.

It was a magnificent vision, and Magnus would have watched him play if he didn’t have something else to pay attention to. But he felt it become engrained into his mind, this way Alec looked when he played violin, like a burning, beautiful thing of life.

The quiet after the crescendo allowed Magnus to hear Alec’s playing and let that take him to his world of music and love, influencing the way he played. He loved each note, heard Alec adore each string, and it was ridiculous how well they played with each other at this stage, during their first time playing alongside the other.

The rendition was pleasant, and it made Magnus wonder how they would play if they had had the time to practise, time to perfect their styles to make them work together. It could be a wonderful thing, Magnus thought.

He felt the music thrum through him, the way it always did when he played, when he entered this world of music. It thrummed around the room, through Alec as well. This world he could inhabit only when music was a part of his current experience, there was nothing else like it, not for Magnus.

And the wonderful thing was that Alec’s music, somehow, fit into this world. Whenever he was playing, he usually felt just his own music, only feeling that thrum through him. But, somehow, Alec was there. The gorgeous way he played his violin was there, with him, as he got lost to this world, and Magnus was not used to that. They fit together, somehow, and Magnus was surprised by that

Magnus’ bars ended almost completely except a couple of notes that accompanied Alec’s finish. He played them quietly to let Alec’s part keep its focus as he so deserved.

It was odd it had gone so well, better than Magnus could have even fathomed. It might not have been perfect, but it was pretty damn good.

It meant Magnus could watch Alec fully as he finished. It was different to how it played when it was at its crescendo. There was a delicate nature to him, his pretty notes moving quietly around the room. There was something so enchanting about him, Magnus found, and he could easily just watch him play.

It was something Alec loved, Magnus could see that from just the way he held his violin. His hair fell over his face, contrasting with his pale skin. From his profile, Magnus could see the intense and loving expression on his face, in his eyes.

His music was a part of him, and Magnus only knew that because music was a part of himself. He could tell, he just knew, and he understood why the room was enchanted with him. Magnus counted it almost an honour being able to play with him now. Magnus had played with plenty of musicians, and being able to play with those who adored their craft, who played like music was an extension of their soul was an honour Magnus held close to his chest.

As Alec finished, Magnus saw Alec’s stance change again. It relaxed, Magnus thought, since the piece was done.

The applause started, which always made Magnus’ chest swell. Alec looked back at Magnus and gestured for him to join him. Magnus did so, standing right beside him and they bowed together toward the applause around the room. The lights meant Magnus could see virtually no one in the crowd, but Magnus soaked up the applause all the same. He did love being praised for a good job, and, as this evening was not what he had had planned, Magnus thought he deserved the applause. They both did.

The applause followed them out as they walked offstage, Alec leading them behind the curtain. Magnus watched as his shoulders sagged further, clearly relieved it was over.

When they were in the safety of privacy, Magnus went to congratulate him because, despite all the odds, they had played well together, even after a slightly sticky beginning. Magnus thought they both deserved congratulations.

However, before he could get even a single word out, Alec was stolen away by whom Magnus presumed to be his mother and father. They did not look like they were entirely congratulating him. They looked stern, in fact, and Magnus didn’t feel like he should stop and stare.

Thinking he wouldn’t get a word in if Alec was talking to his parents, Magnus decided he should get going. He didn’t want to clutter up the space of this room full of musicians. Magnus didn’t know how long the event was going on for, but he was sure there were still many more waiting to play. Considering Magnus wasn’t meant to be here in the first place, he thought going home might be a good idea.

He had totally forgotten about the compensation aspect until Isabelle came up to him, bearing a purse.

“Thank you so much,” Isabelle said. She rooted around for some money, and Magnus thought he likely shouldn’t accept it, but it was how he made his money, so he kind of needed it.

Unless… “Are you compensating me or are your parents?” Magnus asked. He was not going to accept it if it was Isabelle’s money.

“Oh, my parents,” Isabelle clarified. “They just don’t have the cash on them right now. But don’t you worry, I’ll be getting it back from them.” She pulled out the cash and Magnus put it in his own wallet, not wanting to flash it about in front of everyone. “Thank you, again. You did great.”

“Thank you.” Magnus smiled and then looked over his shoulder at Alec, who was still being berated by his parents. “Are they… angry?”

Isabelle followed his eyes and sighed. “Not angry. They’re just never pleased.”

“They do know he played fantastically well, particularly considering the circumstances?”

“I mean, probably. But, well… let’s not go into too much detail, but they’ve never been truly satisfied that music is the career he has chosen. They think he needs to be perfect and, if he isn’t, then they can hold it against him. It’s so stupid.”

“But he knows he played well, right?”

“By the Angel above, I hope so.” Isabelle sounded a touch defeated, and Magnus decided not to push it. He would have liked longer with Isabelle, and particularly longer with Alec, who was cute and played the violin well, but that was clear that was not going to happen.

Instead, he bid Isabelle a quick goodbye, and then he left. It was not entirely what he had planned for his evening, but it was an easy bit of money and it had gotten a little exciting, which was always nice.

Chapter Text

“Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Complete Poems

Magnus ended up spending his compensation partly on rent, and partly on some new bedsheets. One of Magnus’ biggest weaknesses was redecorating. He loved seeing his apartment look a little different as often as possible. He liked getting new pillows, getting new throws, flowers, rugs, touches here and there. His cat was a very good cat and he didn’t scratch anything he wasn’t allowed to scratch, so Magnus got him new toys as often as possible. It was yet another way he found himself redecorating everything over and over again.

Using any excuse whatsoever to get some coffee and cake from the café downstairs, he used the remainder of the compensation to do just that. He got a brownie instead today because there was a special offer on them and Magnus was a sucker for a discount.

On his way back up the stairs, coffee and brownie in hand, he saw Isabelle leaving her apartment. They crossed a moment a later.

“Oh, hey,” Izzy said, stopping on her way down the stairs. Magnus smiled. It had been almost a week since he had last seen her, which had been at the recital. They did both live busy lives and, despite living next to each other, that didn’t mean they saw each other all the time. But it was fine. They were adults, after all, some time apart would not wreck their friendship.

“Hey, yourself,” Magnus replied.

“So, this Friday, are you busy?”

“Need me to fill in for Jace again?” Magnus asked, smiling.

“Thankfully not,” Isabelle said, almost shuddering. “I’m having a flat party. I thought it was going to be quite small, but I think it’s grown exponentially since I came up with the idea. You are welcome to come along. In fact, you have to come along. It’ll be another way to thank you.”

“Sure, I have some work things, but I can come along after.” Magnus would never say no to a party unless he absolutely could not make it. Even then, he would do his hardest to get there. He loved a good party.

“It starts at seven. Be there. When you can, of course.”

“Of course.”

Izzy nodded and carried on down the stairs.

The instant Magnus finished his coffee and brownie, he was working on some original music. He didn’t write much of his own music, not with the intent of selling, but he did dabble in it occasionally. There had been the occasion where he played it for an audience, but it didn’t happen often. He could only write when he was feeling particularly inspired.

The rest of the week went by with Magnus working on his moments of inspiration and working on other pieces for upcoming events he was playing for. Magnus’ success got him booked a lot, and it got him a relatively steady income. It was difficult, as a freelance pianist, to have a truly steady income, but Magnus found he was doing all right for himself.

But he wasn’t thinking about that. Instead, he was thinking about the party. He did so love a party. He liked dressing up, making himself look fancy, having the occasional drink, socialising. He rarely got drunk but he loved the party environment.

Friday morning came and Magnus had a meeting with Michael, talking through an evening he was booked at his restaurant. He was standing in for the regular who worked there, and Magnus was delighted with the sum he would be getting for it. He had been offered to play at restaurants as a regular job a couple of times, but he never considered it the kind of career he wanted. Perhaps he was pretentious, because it was usually good money, but he preferred the feeling of playing on stage, he liked the applause. In restaurants, there wasn’t ever much applause, never much love for the ambient music played. In restaurants, the typical clientele just liked the ambience, they didn’t think much of the pianist who was playing for hours and hours. It was a job Magnus would take up on the occasion, but it was not something he wanted as a career.

He also had a very nice history with Michael, so he was sure one of the reasons he got asked back again and again to cover for nights off was because Michael liked him. Magnus was sure he should probably feel guilty for taking advantage of that but being a pianist wasn’t always easy, so he was going to take the opportunities where he could get them.

Michael flirted with him nonstop, which was totally unprofessional, but it got Magnus a nice wage, so he let it happen. He even let him buy him a cocktail before he left, though Magnus kept it a virgin cocktail because he was driving back to his apartment and he was not going to be a dangerous driver.

It was just after seven when Magnus got back to his apartment. He could hear the music from next door, but he wasn’t bothered by that. He wouldn’t have been bothered if he wasn’t going to the party either. It wasn’t like Isabelle had a party every weekend. He was sure some of their neighbours wouldn’t be too pleased, but Isabelle had every right to have a party every now and again, and Magnus would happily defend her if anyone said anything, not that they likely would.

He had chosen his outfit that morning because he knew it would take time to select something and he did not want that when he was already going to be late. He went for leather trousers because he knew he had a great ass and great thighs and he wanted to show them off. He also picked out a black, chiffon shirt that showed off his brown skin underneath just beautifully. It was thin enough that it showed off his body, but not thin enough that he might as well wear nothing at all. He didn’t button it all the way up, letting his collarbones show. If he was going to a club, he probably would have undone another, but this was an apartment party. He didn’t want to look too fancy, too revealed, just enough. He always liked to impress, after all.

He did his makeup subtly; a gentle wing on his eyeliner, a lightly red lip, a dusting of gold eyeshadow, and only a touch of mascara. He knew he looked good. He always looked good. With his rings on afterwards on seven of his ten fingers, including one thumb, Magnus knew he was the belle of the ball.

It was twenty-to-eight when he left his apartment and went to knock on Isabelle’s door. It opened under his touch, so Magnus stepped in, pushing it closed behind.

Inside, it was busy. Glancing around the room, Magnus didn’t see anyone he knew, but that didn’t intimidate him. He liked meeting new people, flirting with them if he could. He knew, tonight, he looked an absolute treat. When he had come in, he had gotten some appreciative looks, and Magnus felt it was truly deserved.

Magnus had been in this apartment often, and he could tell Isabelle had moved furniture to a place where things would be mostly out of the way. He also noticed some pictures and other objects had been removed, probably in case people got a bit too tipsy and things were ruined. Magnus thought her smart for doing so.

The lights were low and, on the island, Isabelle had set up drinks, a mixologist there as well. He looked smart and cute, Magnus thought. There were people with fancy drinks, people with beers, people with wine. It was an eclectic mix of alcohol and people, which was another reason Magnus loved parties.

Walking through the crowd, smiling at people who looked at him with the utmost of desire in their eyes, drinking Magnus in in all of his glory, Magnus went over to the island. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to drink. He didn’t want to get drunk, but he was looking forward to having a nice time with new people.

Just as he perused both the drinks the mixologist could make and the mixologist himself who had the nicest of smiles, Magnus saw Alec walking up to him. He was wearing these dark washed jeans and this sweet jumper that covered his body far too much, Magnus thought.

Magnus was mightily concerned by how unstable he was. The party had only been going on for an hour, and, although Magnus knew so very little about him, he didn’t seem the type to get obliterated, at least not so early. He was a beautiful violinist, Magnus was sure he had to have his ways of relaxing, but he just didn’t seem like the type to get drunk like this.

But here he was, swaying as he walked, eyes hooded and unfocused. Magnus wanted to hold a hand out to catch him, but Magnus wasn’t sure they were close enough for that.

However, when Alec stumbled into him, Magnus had to hold his hand out to keep him from falling over, into the drinks. He placed a hand on his upper back, trying to steady him from all the swaying. Alec’s eyes looked from Magnus’ chest up to his face until he focused on his eyes. Well, focused was, almost certainly, the wrong word, for the blue waters were hazy, foggy, unfocused. He blinked too much, too often, and Magnus was baffled as to why he was this drunk this soon.

“Hey,” Magnus said, cautiously. They didn’t have much of a connection, they weren’t close, but Magnus didn’t know how else to navigate this. “You all right, Alec?”

Alec mumbled something Magnus could not even begin to calibrate.

“Have a bit too much to drink?” Magnus asked.

Alec shook his head. It seemed a great strain to try and talk. “No. I haven’t.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mm,” Alec mumbled again, trying to steady himself, swaying on the spot. Magnus had to secure his hand better on his back to stop him from falling over. He closed his eyes for a long moment before he opened them again, his pupils enormous. “Just one drunk. Drink. I mean drink.”

“Right.” Magnus didn’t necessarily believe him but he didn’t see any point in disputing it. Alec was drunk and they didn’t know each other well enough to get into it.

“I shouldn’t be this drunk,” Alec said, his eyes unfocused. He kept them closed at certain intervals, perhaps trying to steady himself.

“You have to unwind somehow,” Magnus mused, watching him carefully.

“No,” Alec said, swallowing thickly. “I only had… one. Just one.”

“And how much alcohol was in it?”

“It was a… vodka and lemonade… It tasted… funny, though.”

This sent off a red flag that Magnus had not thought would be set off at a flat party Isabelle was holding. Trying not to panic because he might not need to yet, Magnus asked, “Funny how?”

Alec closed his eyes for a while again. Magnus watched him closely.

“Just… not nice.” He swallowed thickly. “It wasn’t good.”

Magnus’ heart rather stopped in his chest. He felt his blood cool. Magnus hadn’t ever had any experience with drinks being spiked, but he had been out with enough people, particularly at clubs, to know it was a risk. Whenever he had gone out with Tessa or Sophie when they were younger, they had made sure Magnus knew the signs and symptoms of drinks being spiked, and Magnus was trying to recall them now. He couldn’t even begin to fathom something like this happening at a flat party Izzy and Clary were hosting.

He couldn’t be sure, of course. There may be other reasons as to why Alec was behaving like this. But intuitions could often be the simplest of explanations, and Magnus’ intuition was telling him he should be wary.

“Why don’t we get you a glass of water, Alec?” Magnus asked.

Alec nodded once, though it was a messy nod. Magnus guided Alec with his hand on his back, taking him on the short journey towards the sink. Alec walked slowly, however, in this state, so Magnus had to walk slowly with him.

His mind was running just a touch wild. It was difficult to comprehend what was going on. He couldn’t fathom it, but it seemed to be happening. It might just be nothing, Magnus might be worrying for no reason. But it seemed, considering Alec was not the competent violinist Magnus believed him to be in this moment, that he was worrying for exactly the right reason.

Magnus left Alec just by the sink, Alec clinging to the counter for stability. He had to open a few cupboards to find a glass, having never taken note of where Izzy kept things. Once he had one, he filled it with water from the tap.

Then, with the water in one hand, he guided Alec through the apartment again. He situated them in the corner, their backs to the wall and the crowd in front of them. Magnus kept a steady eye on Alec, concern running through his body.

“Sips, okay,” Magnus said.

Alec nodded, and he took the glass with both hands. He sipped gently, though it was a little messy and some escaped down his chin. Magnus could not comprehend how this was the vision that had been Alec when he played violin. Sure, everyone had their ways of winding down, but this didn’t seem like Alec’s. Maybe Magnus didn’t really know him, that could, very well, have been the case. But it just didn’t fit with his character. It seemed likely that his drink had been spiked, but Magnus didn’t think this was the kind of place for spiking. Magnus didn’t know what to make of the situation at hand.

There was a sofa beside them and, once it was freed, Alec sat down on it heavily. Magnus watched him for a moment. There was enough space to sit beside him, so Magnus scanned the crowd once again before he sat down. He started rubbing circles with his palm on his back, encouragingly he hoped. Alec either enjoyed it or didn’t notice, Magnus couldn’t be entirely sure. Alec continued sipping away, and Magnus tried to be a comfort for him.

“You all right, sweetheart?” Magnus asked when Alec took a break from sipping.

Alec made a noncommittal hum, closing his eyes tightly. Magnus wasn’t sure what else he could do. With little information, without knowing exactly what had happened, Magnus didn’t know what he could possibly do to help.

“Do you want me to go and get Isabelle?” He thought she might be more comforting than Magnus. She would be much more familiar to him.

Alec shook his head, eyes closed. “Don’t leave me, please.”

Magnus could only nod.

Alec leaned into him then, heavily, as if he was giving up his entire weight. Magnus took the glass from him to stop it from being spilled, and Alec was happy to give it up. His hands hung loosely between his legs, his elbows on his thighs, and Magnus kept his hand on his back, trying to be a help with the limited knowledge he had of how to help.

“Tell me if you feel sick or anything, all right?” Magnus said. He couldn’t be sure Alec’s drink had been spiked but, if it had, Magnus knew they had to do something. He didn’t know much about the side effects, he didn’t know what else he could do to help. He could google it, he supposed, but he didn’t want to take his attention off of Alec for a single second.

“Not now,” Alec responded. Somehow, he put more weight on Magnus. This was not how Magnus had thought his evening would be spent. He wasn’t about to get up and leave Alec, ignore him as he suffered, but he had imagined it would be filled with flirting and drinking.

Part of him had wanted to flirt with Alec, Magnus hoping Izzy had invited him to the party, but that was definitely not his intention now. He was going to care of Alec until Alec felt better, and that was fine. He could look a treat at the next party and flirt with people then.

“What’s going on here?” a guy asked from beside Magnus. Magnus looked up at him, not knowing who he was though he didn’t know who anyone here was, really. He knew a couple of these faces, but these were Izzy and Clary’s friends.

The guy who had spoken had starkly blonde hair, it was almost white, and it was long, hanging below his shoulders. His eyes were very dark, though maybe that was the lighting of the room, Magnus couldn’t be sure. He held himself tall, confident. Magnus had an almost instant disliking towards him.

Magnus watched him as he looked from Magnus to Alec slowly, considering them both. Magnus, unsure as to why exactly, had brought himself closer to Alec. His hand had tightened on Alec’s back. Maybe it was because he felt Alec’s drink had been spiked and he was wary of everyone else, he couldn’t be sure, but he just didn’t like him.

“I think he might have had a bit much to drink,” Magnus said, cautious. “I’m just taking care of him.”

“Well, Alec’s my boyfriend, so I can take care of him,” he said, and he stepped forward as if to encourage Magnus to stand up and leave Alec alone. Magnus wasn’t about to do that. He didn’t want to leave Alec alone, even if this person was his boyfriend. He was distrusting of everyone he didn’t know in the room then, which was most everyone.

Magnus did not stand. Having such a distrust for everyone and particularly distrusting this guy, Magnus decided he wasn’t going to leave Alec with him. And Alec, having since noticed this person who was claiming to be his boyfriend, had shuffled closer to Magnus. He had made this slight noise, almost a moan, and it didn’t indicate he was particularly comfortable right now.

As Magnus did not like that or what it might indicate, Magnus said, “That’s fine. But I’m okay to look after him.”

“Well, I don’t know who you are,” he said. “So, I’m not leaving you with him.”

“I don’t know you either.”

“I’m his boyfriend.”

“Well, you go get Izzy,” Magnus began, Alec reaching his hand over to Magnus’ free one and holding it. It jarred Magnus only for a moment, but he continued talking a mere second later, “And we can sort that out.”

He scoffed. He looked down at their hands, and he practically growled. “Going to find Izzy would leave you with him.”

“I can text her.” Magnus went to take the hand that was on Alec’s back to slip into his pocket. This guy practically growled again before he turned around and left, letting Magnus keep his hand on Alec’s back.

He hadn’t realised how much tension Alec had been holding in himself until he sagged again. He was still holding Magnus’ hand, but he didn’t grip his fingers so tightly. Magnus, not caring for what had just happened, was certainly not going to let Alec be alone right now, he was going to stay with him until he felt better.

“Feel sick now,” Alec mumbled.

Magnus nodded and put the glass of water on the table in front of them. He helped Alec stand, pulling him up gently and then guiding him through the main room and down the little corridor until they reached the bathroom.

The bathroom was, thankfully, empty, so Magnus led Alec inside and shut the door behind them. He hoped it did not scream he was dragging Alec to somewhere private for his own reasoning. He hoped it showed that he was taking Alec away because Alec needed privacy of his own.

Alec knelt in front of the bowl and start dry heaving. Magnus, with a sigh, knelt beside him and started rubbing circles on his back, trying to help him as best as he could. Magnus wasn’t entirely sure what the symptoms of having your drink spiked were, but this had to be a bad sign. It could still, very well, be symptoms of over-drinking, but it still didn’t seem like something Alec would do. And the guy who had claimed to be his boyfriend left an uncomfortably warm feeling in the pit of his stomach.

They were there for a long while, Alec heaving into the toilet bowl. Magnus hadn’t locked the door because he didn’t want anyone to think he had dragged Alec in here and locked the door behind them. He kept beside him, rubbing circles across his back and hoping to be a comfort because he didn’t know what else to do.

A short while later, the door opened. Magnus was, in part, hoping for an interruption, hoping people might enter and know what to do. He hoped no drunkards entered because they would be of no help, but someone else might know what to do.

It was Izzy who came in. She surveyed the room with confusion, and then horror.

“What on earth…” she said, relatively under her breath. It made it more evident, Magnus thought, that this was not a situation she found her brother in all that often.

“I think…” Magnus began, not sure if he should say this in front of Alec and panic him. He wasn’t sure of his comprehension levels, but he was going to have to say it no matter what. “I think his drink has been spiked.”

“What?” Her voice was quiet. “Spiked? By who?”

Alec heaved into the toilet again. Previously, it had been worthless, dry heaving. This time, there was something to it. Magnus did not stop rubbing his back.

“I don’t know,” Magnus said. “There was this guy who came up to us. He said he was his boyfriend, but didn’t fight when I said I wasn’t going to leave him alone.”

Izzy stilled. “What was his name?”

“He didn’t say.”

“What did he look like?”

“He had really blonde hair, like almost white. Quite dark eyes.”

She tutted as she cursed. “I think that’s Sebastian. That’s his ex, he used to… He wasn’t very nice. Shit. I don’t know what to do…” She heaved a heavy sigh. “Shit.”

“Neither do I, really.” Magnus swallowed and tried to think of anything that might help. “I think maybe he should go to the emergency room.”

Izzy nodded.

“I’ll call them,” Magnus offered. “Maybe check if this Sebastian is still here.”

Izzy nodded again and left the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

Magnus took out his phone, having to leave Alec’s side. Alec didn’t seem all that bothered. He had collapsed against the wall, head lolling back, hands limp in front of him. Magnus wished he had brought the glass of water for Alec to sip on. He ignored that and dialled the emergency services.

“911, what’s your name and location?” the woman on the other end greeted.

Magnus told them the address of the building and which number he was in and gave his name. He spoke very calmly he thought. He was glad that Alec wasn’t paralytic because Magnus wasn’t sure how he would be calm if that were the situation.

“State your emergency,” she then said.

“So, I’m at a party, and I think someone’s had their drink spiked. I’m just not sure how to go about helping him.”

“Are you with him now?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you been in his company?”

“About thirty minutes, maybe forty.”

“Is he unconscious?”

“No. He’s, well, he’s acting quite drunk, and he can’t stand very well. He’s just been vomiting. He said his drink tasted funny.”

“Have you been drinking?”

“No.”

“Do you own a car? Or can you get a cab?”

“I have a car.”

“Drive him down to the nearest hospital and get him seen.”

“Okay. Is there anything I can do for him right now?”

“Just get him to the hospital.”

Magnus thanked her and hung up, putting his phone back into his pocket and taking a steadying breath. Izzy came back into the room then, and she didn’t look too pleased. Magnus did not blame her, however. This situation was not at all pleasant.

“I don’t think he’s here,” Izzy said. “Did you call?”

“I did. He needs to get to the hospital.”

“Fuck. I’ve been drinking.”

“I can take him. I just don’t want him to be alone, if that makes sense. He doesn’t really know me. Could Clary or Jace come along, maybe?”

“Yes, yes, good idea.” She nodded furiously. She had been drinking as well, but this was her party, Magnus didn’t begrudge her. “I’ll go ask one of them. Can you get him up? He’s always been a bit heavy.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

Izzy left the room again and Magnus stood. Alec looked like he might be asleep, but Magnus couldn’t be entirely sure. He stepped towards him, and Alec barely opened his eyes, but it was enough for Magnus to know he was awake. He held out his hands and Alec, instinctively, took them. It was quite sweet, actually, but Magnus was not fond of the situation in which it arrived.

He had to haul, with quite some effort, to get Alec up and on his feet. Alec definitely was a weight, but Magnus had some strength in him to help him up. When Alec was standing, Magnus placed his hand on Alec’s back again and guided him through the apartment. It was no easier this time, people were drunker now and they stuck closer together. Magnus had to push through at times, but he got him through the crowd eventually.

On his way through, Izzy found him again, bearing a Clary beside her. She smiled up at Magnus. She had been drinking as well, that was instantly obvious. Magnus was unbothered by that, however. He would be much happier if Alec had someone with him who knew him better than Magnus did. He didn’t want Alec to feel alone or vulnerable.

“We will keep you updated,” Magnus said, Alec clinging to Magnus now. Alec had put one of his hands on Magnus’ chest as they had been waiting. Magnus moved his hand from Alec’s back to his shoulder, and Alec was holding that now as well.

“Should I stop the party?” Izzy asked. “I don’t know what to do.”

“It’s your call. We need to go, but it’s up to you,” Magnus said. Izzy nodded but seemed totally unsure. Magnus kept moving through the crowd until they were out of the door.

Going down the stairs wasn’t easy, but they did it by taking one step at a time. Alec had come to rest directly on Magnus’ side, resting his head on Magnus’ shoulder. Magnus rubbed his thumb across the back of his hand, wanting to comfort him as much as he could.

The cool air was probably good for Alec, but he didn’t seem any different when they stepped outside. Magnus fished his keys out of his pocket and they got into his car. They decided it was best if Clary sat in the back with Alec beside her, and then Magnus was driving as steadily as he could. Given the traffic jams New York lived in, it was a very steady drive, and Magnus kept the windows down so Alec could get fresh air, as fresh as possible in this city. And so he could vomit out of the window if that was what he needed to do as well.

The hospital wasn’t far, and Magnus found a spot as close to the doors as he could. Getting Alec out was a bit of hassle, but they managed it, Magnus having to do most of the work in Alec’s worsening state. Clary locked the car, Magnus keeping an arm secured around his waist to keep him upright, and they made their way inside.

The hospital was always busy, Magnus found. He hadn’t been in here often, but he found, when he had been inside, it was always busy. People were always having emergencies.

When it was their turn at the desk, the man behind it looked between the three of them. He likely expected Alec to be a drunk kid who needed his stomach pumped. It was far from the truth.

“What’s the problem?” he asked.

“I think his drink was spiked,” Magnus explained, Alec swaying beside him, so he steadied his hand on his back to try to stop him from tipping over. “I was informed it would be best to get him to a hospital.”

They were asked a few questions and then were told they would be seen as soon as possible.

They weren’t waiting long. The only problem was that only one of them was allowed to come through with Alec. Magnus suggested Clary, but Alec would not let go of his hand and it appeared Alec had chosen Magnus to come with him. Magnus would have thought Clary to be a better choice, she knew him better and would be able to answer questions Magnus couldn’t, but Alec wouldn’t let go of him, so he went with him to see the doctor.

Inside the consultation room, they were introduced to a doctor called Catarina. She smiled at them both as they entered. Magnus guided Alec into the chair closest to Catarina, which he sat down in with a thump. He kept a hold of Magnus’ hand as Magnus sat in the seat beside him. Magnus kept his hand held, not wanting to make him uncomfortable. Some people hated hospitals, and Magnus couldn’t know if Alec was one of those people, so he was just going to hold his hand and help him if that’s what he needed.

“So, what’s exactly going on then?” Catarina asked. She seemed to direct her question at Alec, but Alec didn’t seem coherent enough to answer.

Magnus, taking it upon himself, answered, “We believe his drink has been spiked. What it was though, I don’t know. I don’t know much about that sort of thing.”

Catarina nodded. “How long have you been in his company?”

“About an hour now, I think,” Magnus said.

“And he was like this when you found him?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, given it might not be in his system for long, I’m going to need to get a urine sample and a blood test from you, Alec. Is that all right?”

Alec made a hum that indicated he was not up to the task.

“I don’t like blood,” Alec mumbled. He was resting his head in his hand, elbow on the armrest, his eyes closed. He made a face that made it seem like he was not currently enjoying his situation. Magnus found he did not blame him.

“I’ll be right here,” Magnus encouraged, hoping it was a comfort.

“You see, Alec, given the type of drug that might be in your system, we have to try and get tests done as soon as possible. We don’t want it to leave your system. That way, we know your best options. It won’t take long to test, and then we can help you out, legally as well.”

Alec made another hum.

“I’ll be right here,” Magnus repeated.

Eventually, after a few moments of waiting, Alec nodded. Although he did not appear coherent, he watched Catarina avidly as she did something on the computer and then moved about. He watched the door when she left and then stared at the nurse who entered alongside Catarina, bearing everything that was needed to draw blood from Alec’s veins.

Alec paled whilst he was prepared, and Magnus squeezed his hand reassuringly. Alec gripped him tighter. He made these noises of discomfort over and over as they tied the band around his arm and waited for his veins to react.

When the needle went into his arm, Alec made a noise of obvious discomfort, and he squeezed Magnus’ hand something fierce. It was a touch uncomfortable, but he didn’t mind the pain if this was what Alec needed. It would only be a moment of discomfort over what might help him in the long term. Alec did seem to be suffering, but Magnus hoped it would be worth it.

The urine sample, somehow, was more difficult. As the nurse took the blood sample for its test, Catarina directed them towards the bathroom. Magnus helped him along, Alec claiming he did not want any help.

He was, however, making zero progress by himself. Magnus waited outside, leaning with his back on the wall beside the door, but Alec was not managing it alone.

After about fifteen minutes, Magnus knocked on the door. He heard the click of the lock go, and Magnus opened it gently, giving Alec time to slam it shut if he hadn’t intended for Magnus to enter.

Inside the single stall, the cup remained empty, and Alec was leaning on the wall, eyes closed. They were not close enough for this. He didn’t think Alec would like Clary to come in and help either, but Magnus didn’t think Alec could be comfortable with any of this. Maybe Alec wouldn’t remember it in the morning, who knew, but he didn’t want Alec to feel pressured or uncomfortable.

“Would you like some help?” Magnus asked. He wasn’t entirely sure how he was meant to help, but he thought he should offer. The sooner this was done, the sooner they could leave and Alec could lie down for a few hours.

“No,” Alec said. Then, after about two seconds, Alec said, “Please.”

“What can I do to help?”

“I can’t stand up well,” Alec said.

“Okay.”

It wasn’t exactly easy or comfortable or at all what Magnus had planned for his night, but he helped keep Alec steady as Alec peed into the cup. He kept his eyes averted far away, keeping Alec stable.

Afterwards, Magnus helped Alec back to their room, Alec holding the cup steadily.

They were allowed to wait in the room as the tests were run, and Catarina informed Alec that he needed to rest and drink plenty, though Alec had tuned out. All he did was grip Magnus’ hand and fall asleep.

“He likely won’t remember this,” Catarina said. “If it’s Rohypnol, then he won’t at all.”

“Do you think it will be Rohypnol?”

“The symptoms seem that way. It could also be GHB, which might not affect his memory, but it can do sometimes. I recommend you go to the police the second you can. Get it sorted, get a report done.”

Magnus nodded. The situation was only getting heavier as the night grew on. Magnus’ bed was calling him.

Catarina left them alone, going to check on the progress of the tests and, with Alec asleep, Magnus could do nothing but wait and stare into space. He did text Clary, giving her a quick update, but that was about as much as he could do. He just held Alec’s hand and wished everything would be all right.

When Magnus had been twelve, he had broken his leg playing in a park with Charlotte’s sons. He didn’t remember much of it, his doctor having told him the pain might block his memory of the event, but what he did remember was sitting in the consultation room alone. Charlotte hadn’t been allowed in because she wasn’t his guardian, and all the phone calls to his father had resulted in nothing.

As the plaster had been attached to his leg, he had remembered just wanting someone with him, to hold his hand and tell him it would be all right. He would have even taken the presence of his father in the room, even if he had just stood in the corner, it would have been more reassuring than being there alone.

He didn’t fear hospitals because of it, but he remembered how he never thought anyone should be alone when in the hospital. Whether Alec remembered this or not, Magnus would be a comforting presence for him now because everyone deserved that.

When Catarina came back in bearing the tests results, Magnus wondered if he should rouse Alec. She was bearing important information, but Magnus didn’t know if rest would be better than knowing what was going on.

She sat down and cast an almost sad look at Alec. Magnus felt this was probably bad news.

“Should I wake him?” Magnus asked.

Catarina shook her head. “It’s fine. I’ll just need you to relay the information to him.”

“Okay.”

“So, it is GHB.”

Although Magnus had been expecting something like that, it didn’t feel any good to hear it confirmed. His body sagged but he managed to nod.

“Now, all you can do is keep him hydrated to get it out of his system,” Catarina said.

“How long will that take?”

“Well, a large amount of the drug is excreted around two to four hours after it’s been ingested, but it can take up to twelve for it to go completely. So, let him sleep, give him water, and keep an eye on him because we don’t want him to stop breathing.”

“That can happen?”

“There’s a lot of things that can happen, but it’s very good you got to him before anything did.” Magnus could understand what she was referring to, not only to symptoms but to what people did with these drugs, and Magnus was also glad he had found Alec before anything had happened. “Do you have any other questions?”

Magnus could think of nothing else, so he shook his head and he stood.

Gently, he roused Alec from his sleep, but it didn’t really wake him. He opened his eyes and closed them again, so Magnus took both of his hands and told him it was time to go.

Alec made a slight effort to get up, but it was Magnus who did most of the hauling. Catarina opened the door for him. Magnus had one arm secured around his waist and helped walk him out of the room, Alec resting fully on Magnus.

Finding Clary, the three of them then made their way out of the hospital and back towards the car. It was nearly midnight now, Magnus’ entire body was tired, but he could fight through it to support Alec.

Alec slept the entire way back to the apartment, and Clary was quiet as well. It seemed the entire thing had sufficiently sobered her up. After her initial questions, she didn’t say anything else, sitting in the back, keeping an eye on Alec and mulling it over. The traffic was better now, but his mind was more on what was going on than on the road.

When they got back up to the apartment, struggling with getting Alec up the stairs, they could see that the party was well over. Izzy had ended it soon after they had left, and they were tidying up, moving the furniture back into place.

Alec was still holding Magnus as they came through, Magnus supporting his weight completely. Simon, Jace, and Izzy looked at the three of them as they came in, concern clear on their faces. They said nothing as Magnus walked him through the apartment and took him to the spare room, Magnus presuming this would be where he was staying tonight.

Inside the bedroom, Magnus took Alec towards the bed and helped him sit down. He didn’t think Alec was going to bother changing, and Magnus thought that was fine. He just needed rest now.

Kneeling in front of him, his leather trousers not adoring the feeling but ignoring it, Magnus helped removed Alec’s shoes. He put them on the floor beside the bed and told Alec he could lie down now. Once he had, Magnus helped pull the sheets over him, brushing his hair across his forehead as he fell back asleep.

Knowing this was all he could do to help him, Magnus took a steadying breath and left the room. He squeezed Alec’s hand once, knowing it would be a fitful night of sleep, and then returned to the others in the main room to answer their questions.

“So, it was spiked?” Izzy asked, watching him approach with concern still plain across her face.

“Yes, with GHB. Catarina, the doctor, suggested making a police report as soon as possible. You’ve got the evidence now, so, yeah…” Magnus ran his hands over his face. He was beyond exhausted.

“I feel like such an ass that Sebastian got in,” Izzy said. “I should have been better at checking-.”

“Don’t blame yourself,” Magnus said. “It’s a sticky spiral. It’s not your fault.”

“So, what do we do right now? If we can’t do anything until we can go to the police.”

“The stuff needs to leave his system,” Magnus said. “So plenty of water, that’s what Catarina said. That’s kind of all you can do.”

“Fuck,” Jace said.

“Thank you so much for looking after him,” Izzy said. “Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“It’s all right.” Magnus smiled. “I’m going to go to bed now, but come and get me if you need anything.”

They all nodded and thanked him again.

Magnus’ bed was a pleasant thing to return to.

Chapter Text

“Music could ache and hurt, that beautiful music was a place a suffering man could hide.”
― Pat Conroy, Beach Music

The next day, Magnus awoke with a headache. It wasn’t because he had drunken too much last night, because he hadn’t ended up drinking anything, but because the night had been what it was.

It was a fitful sleep and he had not been able to stop running what had happened through his mind. He kept thinking about what could have happened if he hadn’t been there. He kept running over how much Alec had clung to him even though they had met only once before and they had barely spoken during that meeting. He couldn’t stop running over the way Sebastian had looked at them, at Alec, and how easily it could have gone wrong.

The Chairman had jumped up onto his stomach at some point during the night, curling up and offering his support silently. Magnus put a hand into his fur and sighed, staring at the patterned ceiling above him. He had no effort for anything today.

There was a knock at his door, though Magnus mainly knew that because Chairman had perked up his head and then jumped off his body to lie underneath the bed. He hated strangers and knocks on the door often brought strangers. Standing, Magnus rubbed his face and headed towards the door.

He was still wearing his clothes from last night, which felt awful now, sticking to him like a second, uncomfortable skin. Glancing in the mirror as he passed, he saw his makeup was smudged, rendering him a mess. His hair was all over the place and he looked like he hadn’t slept, which was close to the truth.

Looking through the peephole, he saw it was Isabelle. Seeing as she had been through this with Magnus, he thought she wouldn’t likely be bothered by Magnus not looking his best.

She gave half a smile when Magnus opened the door. She didn’t look as rough as Magnus, but she looked tired. It also appeared as though she might have been crying, but Magnus couldn’t be sure. Magnus had to lean heavily on the door, his head starting to pound. He wasn’t sure how late it was, but it felt late, far past noon.

“Hey,” Izzy said.

“Hey,” Magnus replied, voice rough and throaty as well.

“So, we’ve just been to the police,” Izzy said. “Alec is… well, he’s not feeling his best but he agreed it was a good idea to get it done quickly.”

“Oh, good,” Magnus said. He was surprised Alec had been able to do it so quickly, but it was good, it would be beneficial to get it done before it got too late to do anything.

“It’s just… Well, Alec’s memory, it isn’t there, not for last night, it just sort of cuts off, because of the… because of what happened. As you and Alec are the only two who can place Sebastian as being there, well, the police suggested…” She sighed.

“You want me to come down too?” Magnus asked. “Place him at the scene, or whatever.”

“If you could,” Izzy said. “It’s just, well, we’re going to take Sebastian to court for everything’s he’s done to Alec, but we just need you to place him at the party for this incident, if you could.”

Magnus nodded. Of course he would help. “If you let me shower and clean up, I can go.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do it today-.”

“Izzy, it’s fine. Is Alec still with you?”

“No. He’s gone home with Jace now. But I’ll come with you, down to the station.”

“You don’t have to,” Magnus said. “I can get to the station just fine, you probably need to rest.”

“I want to,” Izzy said. “You just let me know when you’re ready. Yeah?”

Magnus nodded. They were both stubborn people, so neither was going to back down completely.

Magnus cleaned himself up, taking some medication for his headache, showering, removing his makeup, changing his clothes. He felt fresher, his mind a little better. This would be okay, he could do this. He had slept enough and he didn’t have to think about how awful it had been, he could think about how it was fine, and that was okay.

Magnus had never ventured to the police station before, so he had to follow Isabelle to it. His mind was still a little foggy, but it would be best to get this done, to help Alec as best as he could.

When they entered, Izzy went up to the desk and told them that she had Magnus now. Magnus, his head still foggy, just let Izzy do the explaining.

He was taken through to another, smaller room, Isabelle coming with them.

The questions were relatively easy to answer, particularly because he had had nothing to drink and could remember it all well. He explained the events as they happened, going through it chronologically and placing Sebastian at the scene. He described him, and that was it. It was pretty easy. He was asked to read over the statement and was happy with it. It was all truthful, after all, it was an easy statement to make.

As they were walking out, Izzy offered to get some coffee and Magnus took her up on it. They went to a little café neither had been to before and found a table at the side of the room, hidden away. It was nice, and Magnus’ headache was finally starting to go.

They sipped at their coffees almost in silence, contemplating everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours.

“So, we were talking to a lawyer this morning,” Izzy said.

“Already?”

“Yeah, we did that before we went to the police.”

It was late, it was already four o’clock. Magnus had slept most of the day away, but it was warranted. He had been out late and he had had a rather exhausting night, but it still felt wrong to be out of it so much, to miss so much of the day.

“So, what did the lawyer say?” Magnus asked.

“That Alec has a really good chance. He’s definitely getting a restraining order, but Sebastian could end up in jail for a few years too, and it’s just… It’s good news, but Alec’s a little overwhelmed I think,” Izzy said. “But I really cannot thank you enough. You’ve really helped.”

“So it’s going to court?”

“It will do.”

“Does that mean I will have to go to court?”

“I don’t know. I think it depends on if they think your statement needs you there or not. I don’t know for sure.”

“Okay.”

“But thank you. Again.” Izzy smiled.

“You don’t have to thank me,” Magnus said. “It’s all fine, okay?”

Izzy nodded, and they carried on peacefully, returning to their homes shortly after.

Magnus could not stop thinking about what had happened over the next few weeks. He didn’t see Izzy or Alec or Clary or anyone over those weeks, he didn’t hear anything about his statement or the court case. He wanted to know how it was going, but he was sure this was quite the hellish thing to go through, he was sure they were all dealing with this pretty horrendously because, well, how did you deal with it well?

He was desperate for more information, not because he was nosey, but because he just needed to know if Alec was all right. He needed to know what had happened, how it had happened. But he wasn’t about to go and knock on Izzy’s door for information. She had to be dealing with a lot, and, whilst Magnus wanted to know, he was not going to pry it from her.

The weeks went by and Magnus took up the jobs he had planned. He didn’t let those dark thoughts affect his playing because he still needed income and he still wanted to play piano, but he had those thoughts. It was on the back of his mind for a long, long while. Whenever he was given a moment of rest, whenever his mind wasn’t on anything else, it had gone to Alec and the absolute disaster that had been that party, the absolutely awful things he had been through.

It was where his mind had gone now. It was quite late, he had just finished playing at the restaurant again, being needed for an entire week because the regular pianist was on holiday. The kind of music he needed to play, Magnus felt, didn’t take up too much of his attention. He could play it and focus on it, and it didn’t make him feel serious or sombre. That was a good thing considering his mind was rather pulling him to those dark thoughts.

On his way up, he grabbed his mail and, among the general rubbish, he had an official-looking letter that made his stomach drop. When he got back to his apartment, he opened it first and found it was a court summons regarding his statement. Magnus had never been to court, he wondered what it would be like.

He sat on his sofa, lying out with his legs over the cushions. His cat jumped up onto his stomach, and Magnus played with his fur gently. Chairman didn’t ever demand much of his attention. As he was always busy, he wasn’t available to play with him all that often. He was home a lot, practising, so that was good for Chairman, but he couldn’t always be attentive, and this was fine because he didn’t ask for much attention. However, at times like this, it was nice when Chairman knew he needed some attention, and he was glad he had jumped onto his stomach.

As he perused his other mail, having to move restrictively so he did not disturb his cat, there was a knock on his door. This caused Chairman to jump up and run into the bedroom, wanting to avoid people always.

After a deep breath, Magnus stood and answered the door. It was Isabelle. She didn’t look all too happy, but Magnus smiled as best as he could. Even if his mood was off because of Alec and what had happened and because of the court summons, he wanted to be all right for her.

He hadn’t seen her since they had gone to the station, and Magnus hoped it would all be okay soon.

“Hello,” Magnus greeted.

“Hi,” Izzy replied.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Izzy sighed. She wasn’t herself, but Magnus didn’t blame her. Not with everything that had happened. “Did you get the letter? For the summons?”

Magnus nodded.

“You’re okay, right? To do it?”

Magnus nodded again, smiling. “It’s fine. You don’t need to be worried. I mean, you can be worried, but not about me. I’m fine.”

Isabelle sighed out of relief. “You’ve been such an amazing help, for weeks now. Magnus, thank you.” She hugged him. Magnus was happy to hug her back. “Sebastian’s got himself a really good lawyer,” Izzy said once they broke apart. “But, I mean, we have a lot of evidence, so…”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Izzy nodded and smiled.

The day of the trial rolled around quickly. He wasn’t sure why he was nervous. He was there to give evidence, to talk through his very logical statement, and there were very few ways in which he could fuck it up. He knew what had happened, he remembered it step by step, but he was still nervous. He hadn’t been to court before, and it was an intimidating experience.

He had dressed in one of his simpler suits, not wanting to be flashy or draw attention. This was an official thing, Magnus didn’t want to look like a prat, he just wanted it done.

The drive down to the courthouse was a nerve-racking thing, and Magnus found nothing to be comforting. Listening to music put him on edge, having is window down meant he could hear people yelling, and that irritated him as well. He was tapping anxiously on the wheel, his mind rushing from one thought to another.

He met Isabelle outside of the courthouse, and she looked very smart in a simple, black dress. He presumed she would be giving evidence as well, but Magnus’ mind was only on the fact he would be up there, talking through the events as they had transpired and that he would directly impact Alec’s case. That was quite an important task and Magnus was trying to deal with it.

She took him through the courthouse and to where the others were waiting. Clary was there, Simon too. Sat down just a little way away, Magnus saw Alec’s parents, staring ahead and ignoring each other, it seemed.

“Alec’s in the bathroom,” Isabelle said.

“Is he all right? Magnus asked.

Isabelle shrugged. “Jace is with him. But he’s so nervous.”

Magnus could very well understand that.

“There’s going to be a screen between him and Sebastian, but I don’t know if that will be enough. They offered some other ways to go around it,” Isabelle said. “But I think he wants to prove that he’s okay, and it’s rendered him a complete mess.” She sucked in a breath and Simon touched her arm reassuringly.

They were waiting about fifteen minutes before a door through to one of the courtrooms opened and they were called in. Sebastian was already sat down, apparently. Alec and Jace had yet to return.

“I’ll get them,” Magnus said, and he hurried off to the bathroom to find them. It was empty for the most part. Jace was standing beside one door, which was shut. He looked up when Magnus entered and nodded at him. “They’re calling us through.”

Jace nodded, and he knocked on the stall door. “Alec, we gotta go.”

“Okay,” the voice, which was weak and trembling, called from inside the stall. The door opened and Alec stepped out. He was very pale, Magnus thought, and he was worrying at his lip. He looked at Magnus, and it made him pale further, somehow. He went to wash his hands. His suit fit him well, but Magnus couldn’t think about that, he was thinking only of the hell Alec must be going through.

Alec didn’t speak as they walked out of the bathroom and then down to the courtroom. Magnus certainly didn’t blame him. If he felt intimidated by the building, by the idea of what was coming, he was certain Alec had to be feeling ten times worse. Perhaps even more than that.

Alec was led up the middle of the court to sit beside his lawyer where there were screens to keep Alec from having to see Sebastian. Magnus was sat beside Isabelle, but he wasn’t sure he should be here for the entire trial. He didn’t need to hear everything that was about to pass. If Maryse and Robert were still sat outside and Magnus was only here to talk about the party, he didn’t need to be here for the years of things they would be going over. No one sent him away, but Magnus wasn’t sure he should be sat in here, listening to everything.

It started with opening statements from both the lawyers, but Magnus tried not to pay too much attention to anything he shouldn’t be hearing. He was in here to give evidence, but they were going through earlier years, and Magnus didn’t think he should know any of this information. It was Alec’s difficult past they were talking about, Magnus, who barely knew him, shouldn’t be here for this.

From where he was sitting, he could see Sebastian. He didn’t give anything away, just staring forward, not moving, not changing his expression. Magnus wondered what the jurors thought of that.

It was Alec who was called forward first. Izzy had informed him that their lawyer thought it was best to put the strongest witness on the stand first and, whilst Magnus agreed, he still wasn’t sure why he was here, listening to everything. The screens were arranged so Alec wouldn’t have to see Sebastian as he spoke against him, but Magnus was sure that was only a small comfort for he knew he was still in the room.

It was difficult to not pay attention to everything Alec said. Magnus wondered if he should have asked if he could stay outside until he was called to the stand, but he found it was difficult to get up or ask anyone once Alec had started speaking. The public had been required to leave, and Magnus thought he should lessen the crowd Alec was bearing his soul to.

Alec was up there for a long time. He first spoke of when he met Sebastian in high school and the beginning of their friendship. He then spoke of how he didn’t realise how controlling Sebastian was and the conditions to their friendship. It was then onto their relationship and what had gone on over the years.

At various points in his tale, there was evidence brought out regarding the bruises Alec had gotten, the split lips, the marks on him. Alec described, in horrifying detail, the sexual abuse he had undergone as well.

The whole room felt uncomfortable, like the air was strangling them, and he looked over to see how tightly Izzy was holding Simon’s hand as Alec described the incidents he had been put through and how he had struggled to tell a single soul because of the control Sebastian had over him.

Then he got onto the messy breakup, and there were a couple of very horrifying images to accompany that. Magnus wondered how Alec was managing to talk through it all. He was talking calmly, going through the years bit by bit, and Magnus could only imagine how awful it must be to relive all of this and yet pretend he was fine.

The party incident came next, Alec talking about not remembering anything except for Magnus looking after him, and then waking up and feeling rough.

The defence questions were gruelling. Sebastian’s lawyer was relentless with question after question, trying to, somehow, pin all of this on Alec. He was trying to imply Alec had provoked him all these times, that it was difficult to say the sexual incidents were non-consensual when it was his word against Sebastian’s and that the bruises could be from anything. No one really believed it, Magnus sure didn’t, but he was relentless. The judge even stopped him because he was trying to upset Alec at certain intervals, but Alec held up well.

After that, they were granted a short break. Alec remained where he was, Jace getting him a glass of water. Magnus felt he had to leave the room, the things he had seen and heard, the images Alec’s words had conjured up were awful. He needed to take a breath of air, his mind running confused as he couldn’t imagine how someone who was as sweet as Alec who played violin as beautifully as Magnus had heard had been through something like this.

Izzy and Simon came out as well, perhaps needing a break from the air in there, the constricting nature of it. Magnus wasn’t sure if the public would be allowed back in, but Magnus was more concerned as to why he was allowed back in because he didn’t think he should have this knowledge of Alec’s life.

“What order is everyone being called?” Magnus asked.

Izzy took a deep breath and said, “Mum and dad are next. Then it’s Clary, then it’s you, and then it’s me. Then there’s a video from Max, our little brother, because no one wants him here for this, and Jace is last.”

“The defence aren’t calling anyone?”

“Not that I know of. Except for Sebastian. He’ll be last though.”

“And it’ll be finished today?”

“It should be.” Izzy sighed. “I don’t think Alec could muster it to come back here again.”

Magnus could understand that.

The break was over far too quickly, and they were sat down again. Maryse was called next and then Robert, neither having much to offer but still having some evidence regarding their son. They left straight after and Izzy explained to Magnus that Alec didn’t want them here for all the details. It was the same for Max not being here at all. It confused Magnus as to why Alec was allowing him to stay.

Clary also didn’t have much to offer in terms of evidence, but he supposed, the more evidence they had, the easier it was to convict Sebastian. Magnus couldn’t imagine Sebastian getting away with this, not with everything that was being said.

Magnus was intimidated when he was called to the stand. He had little evidence to give, really. The only thing he could say was that Sebastian was there at the party and that it was pretty obvious Sebastian had done the deed. He supposed he was the only one who could actually place Sebastian there. There had been other accounts of the party, and they had the police report and the blood and urine tests, but Magnus was the only one with a clear memory as to what had passed.

Magnus couldn’t think of any situation that was more intimidating than sitting up in the stand, being sworn to tell the truth and every single pair of eyes looking at him. He had never been intimidated by the crowds at a performance, never been intimidated by being tested for his musical grades. But this, the eyes that watched him not because he was about to perform but because they needed to hear if Magnus was telling the truth, that was intimidating.

He glanced once at Alec, who was looking at him with wide and vulnerable eyes. Magnus could see Sebastian, but Sebastian was giving nothing away, still. He had sat there and remained still and emotionless. It had to be suspicious, but Magnus had never been a juror, so he couldn’t know what they thought. Magnus decided not to look at either of them again, he looked only at the lawyers and the jurors.

Alec’s lawyer asked him to just talk through the events of the party, and Magnus did. He started from when he arrived, spoke about Alec’s behaviour, acting far too drunk considering the party had been going on only an hour. He explained seeing Sebastian and retold as much of their conversation as he could, and then he explained going to the hospital.

The defence lawyer was a little tougher to get through. Whilst Magnus answered calmly and effectively, he was a touch unnerved by him.

He was, basically, trying to insinuate that Magnus had drugged Alec. He went down a line of questioning where he pointed out that no one else had been in Alec’s company before he was in Magnus’ and that everyone had found Magnus and Alec together with Alec already in the state that he was. Magnus supposed it could have looked bad, but he could barely fathom anyone believing it.

It seemed the judge wasn’t a fan of the line of questioning either because it didn’t last long. It was such a relief when he could go back to his seat.

He wasn’t required to stay any longer, and he did not want to stay around for Sebastian’s turn. He didn’t need nor deserve this insight into their lives. He sat back next to Isabelle, but only to tell her he was going to go.

“Are you sure?” she asked before she was called to the stand. They spoke in whispers.

Magnus nodded. “I just don’t think I should be here anymore.” He didn’t think he should have been there to begin with, but Alec hadn’t asked him to leave and he hadn’t thought to leave until it was too late anyway.

“Okay,” Isabelle said. “Thank you so much.”

“I’m glad I could help.” He squeezed her arm. “Let me know how it goes.”

Isabelle nodded, and Magnus left. It was such a breath of fresh air to get out of there, to get out of that room where all those awful things had been spoken. He didn’t have much doubt that Sebastian would get charged as being guilty, but it was not a nice atmosphere all the same.

He got home and stripped of his suit, not wanting to even look at it. Everything that had been said clogged his mind, and Magnus couldn’t even fathom everything Alec had been through. He didn’t think he should know these things about him, but he did, and he wondered what was going to happen between them now.

Cosying up on the sofa, his cat joined him, comforting him. Magnus put on shows that he liked and he had a hot chocolate and greasy food, and he tried to ease his mind into a comfortable state.

He got a text a few hours later from Izzy, saying Sebastian was charged as guilty and he was going away for a long while, and that Alec was being warranted a restraining order as well. It was wonderful news, and Magnus was glad Alec had been able to get something out of it, something good for all the awful things he had been through and how he had to tell many, many people, more than he should have had to tell, about everything he had been through.

He slept a lot sounder than he had for weeks that night.

It was a long, long while before Magnus saw Alec again. Whenever he saw Isabelle, she mentioned he was doing well, mentioned that things were getting better and that he was happier now than he had been for years, and Magnus was glad for him. He thought that, if anyone had been through shit like that, they deserved a lot of good in their life afterwards. She didn’t say much about him, and Magnus did not pressure her for information. He was sure they all just wanted that part of their life to be left far behind them. Magnus had had only a small level of involvement, and he wanted to leave it far behind him as well.

He had seen her this morning on the stairs, Magnus popping out to get some cake and coffee. She had been smiling, a brighter smile than Magnus had seen in a few months, and Magnus was glad. He hoped they could leave it in the past. It was not pleasant what they had gone through, and seeing her smile was a really wonderful thing.

He went back into his apartment after having bought his nice coffee from the café downstairs, and he enjoyed it. He liked spoiling himself, and, although it had been months since the trial, even longer since the night that had caused it, Magnus still believed he should spoil himself for it.

There was a knock on the door that Magnus was surprised to hear. He put down his coffee, his cake thoroughly finished, and went to answer it, pleasantly surprised that it was Alec on the other side of the door. He looked better, healthier, Magnus thought.

“Hello,” Magnus greeted, leaning on the doorframe.

“Hi,” Alec said through a heavy breath.

They paused.

Magnus considered him in that pause. He supposed he had always thought of him as handsome. It was nice to see him looking healthier and happier. He was wearing this worn jumper that gave him sweater-paws, which Magnus absolutely adored, and these light grey jeans that suited him very well. He had had a haircut since Magnus had last seen him, and it framed his face. His eyes were the colour of blue that Magnus loved. During the trial, Magnus had tried to focus on nothing but helping, but now that that was over, Magnus was thoroughly appreciating how pretty he was.

“Are you all right?” Magnus asked, to prompt him, mainly.

“Yes.” Alec swallowed. There was another pause, and Magnus smiled at him, trying to encourage him. “I never really got a chance to, well, to thank you for everything. I didn’t thank you for playing with me, or for the… the… the night, party situation, or the trial. I just never got a chance, and I’m really sorry. I just really wanted to thank you, for everything you’ve done for me.”

Magnus smiled. “You’re very welcome.”

Alec nodded. “I have, um, well, I bought tickets to this orchestra thing and I thought, well, you probably like music. So, I wondered if you wanted to come with me, as a thank you.”

“Sure.” Magnus continued smiling. “When is it?”

“Friday. If you have plans, that’s fine.”

“I don’t have plans.”

“Well, we could go along to this then, if you’d like. Maybe, uh, maybe get dinner first or something.”

Magnus changed his smile from sweet to something a little cheekier. “Dinner, huh?”

Alec paled. “We don’t have to, if you don’t want dinner. We can just go to the show, that’s fine too.”

“I’m totally fine with dinner.”

“You have a car, right?” Alec asked, and then he tutted at himself. “Not that I’m asking you because you can drive us.”

Magnus laughed through his nose. “I can drive us, if you’d like. What time is the show?”

“Doors open at seven. I was thinking, I don’t know, maybe dinner at five. We could leave at like, half-four or something?”

“That sounds perfect,” Magnus said, still smiling cheekily. Alec was a touch flustered, and it was very endearing. He was even cuter than Magnus had thought previously, and now Magnus allowed himself to think it, he was very cute indeed.

“So, Friday, half-four?”

“Friday, half-four,” Magnus repeated. “Is it a formal thing? The orchestra.”

“Sort of. I don’t think ties are necessary, but you know, nicely dressed.”

“I will dress nicely, then,” Magnus said with a charming smile.

“Okay.”

“Friday,” Magnus repeated.

“Friday,” Alec repeated. He smiled almost bashfully before he turned and went back into his sister’s apartment. Magnus shut the door, a stupid grin on his face.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.”
― Alphonse de Lamartine

For the next few days, Magnus was considering whether the orchestra was a date or not. He had gone over it again and again and again, and he was struggling to figure it out. The way Alec had asked made it seem like could be a date, but Magnus didn’t know him well enough to say that was a definite answer. It could very well just be the way he acted when he was trying to ask someone for something, the way he behaved when he was trying to thank someone. Magnus did not know, but he would love to know.

He certainly wouldn’t mind if it was a date. He had been thinking over and over and over again about how cute and handsome and sweet Alec was. How could he not think about that? He had the bluest of eyes, and Magnus always went a bit weak at the knees for people who had blue eyes and black hair. And here Alec was, with both and high cheekbones and a flustered way of thanking him.

If it was a date, Magnus would be happy to indulge Alec. He was cute, and Magnus really liked people who were cute. He was sweet, and they both played music, and they played well together despite not ever having played together before. That had to mean something, right?

Magnus wasn’t sure. He was thinking he wanted it to be a date, but he couldn’t be sure if Alec had asked him so it could be a date.

Whether it was a date or not, Magnus decided he was going to impress Alec with his fabulous dress sense and pretty makeup. If it wasn’t a date, Magnus might be able to impress Alec into a date, and if it was a date, he could impress Alec into kissing him, maybe. That would be nice.

On Friday morning, he picked out three possible suits; one was white, the second was a beautiful burgundy, and the third was a rather fetching blue that would suit Alec’s eyes. He spent a long time looking at his suits, Chairman beside him on the bed, Magnus idly petting him as he considered each one. He wanted to impress, and they would certainly do that, but it was just about choosing the right one to impress Alec.

Eventually, he settled on the burgundy. It was subtle enough that he would stand out in the crowd, but not so much that people would be offended by it. He decided also on a black shirt, not a chiffon one, but a smart one that he would button almost all of the way up.

For makeup, he went subtler than he usually might on a night out where it could be a date. He still dabbed a nice burgundy onto his lips, and he still did his wings, and he did a touch of eyeshadow to accentuate his pretty features, but it was less than usual. He only went for a couple of rings because, whilst he knew he could wow with his amazing features, his striking makeup, and a stunning suit, he got the impression Alec might prefer it if he behaved a little quieter.

He was ready by quarter-past four, and he waited on the couch, scrolling through his phone. His cat could sense his anticipation as he was remaining in the bedroom. Part of Magnus was okay with that because it meant he wouldn’t have to get rid of too many cat hairs from his suit.

There was a very gentle knock on the door, Magnus presuming Alec knew the code into the building because of his sister. It made Magnus’ heart stir, but it was a pleasant kind of stir. He took a calming breath before he walked towards the door.

When Magnus opened the door, Alexander was looking as sweet as he possibly could. He had gone for a subtler look than Magnus, which was fair, but he still looked just as lovely; it was a simple, black suit, without a tie, and it suited him wonderfully, Magnus thought. He had even styled his hair more than Magnus had seen before, and he looked a very sweet treat indeed.

And he watched as Alec took in his suit in all its coloured glory.

“Wow,” Alec said, slightly under his breath. He had this pretty smile on his face too, which Magnus could not stop staring at.

“Is it all right?” Magnus asked when Alec said nothing else.

“It’s…” Alec paused and blinked repeatedly. “Very red.”

“Bad red?” Magnus asked, wondering if he should change into the white or blue one instead. He did not want to look like a fool, and he didn’t want Alec to be embarrassed by him either.

Alec shook his head vigorously. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” Alec said, very quickly. “It’s a, it’s a very nice red.” He smiled almost bashfully.

“Too red for an orchestra?” Magnus asked, but Alec’s smile was enough for him to keep it on, he wasn’t changing now.

“You’ll look very unique,” Alec said, smiling. “Much more interesting than boring black.”

“I think boring black looks lovely.” Magnus grinned and stepped out into the hall. “Shall we go?”

Magnus’ car was just around the corner, so it was only a short walk to it. It wasn’t anything fancy and Alec had been in it before, but it seemed he didn’t remember that. Magnus was not going to sour the mood by mentioning it.

After they had gotten in, Alec admired it from the front seat. It wasn’t much to look at but, for someone who didn’t own a car, most cars were an extravagance.

The traffic was present, as ever, but Magnus drove well with the years of experience behind him. Beside him, Alec was quiet, but it didn’t feel awkward. It was only a short journey and the radio filled the car with ambience against their minimal conversation. Magnus still couldn’t figure out if it was a date or not.

Their reservation, that Magnus had made after Alec had asked him to come with him to the orchestra, got them a good table beside the window. Before they looked at the menu, Magnus tried to impress with his order of a red wine. Magnus knew it would be out of his system by the time they left the orchestra, so he knew he wasn’t being a dangerous driver by having a drink of wine now. He ordered a good brand and a good year, and he hoped he might have impressed Alec with his knowledge of fine wines.

After the wine was poured into their sizeable glasses and they were left to peruse the menu, Alec said, “I’ve not had alcohol since…”

Magnus sighed. He hadn’t thought about it, not like that. He wished he had said something before he ordered it because he would not have ordered alcohol if he had known it would upset Alec.

“You don’t have to drink it,” Magnus said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think…” Magnus felt himself blushing for this blunder. He didn’t like making mistakes like this, particularly not when their relationship was at the early stage of blossoming. “What else would you like to drink? Shall I call the waiter back?”

Alec smiled quietly. “Of course not, it’s fine. Wine is wine. This is a very different setting, and it’s not like I don’t trust you.”

“You trust me?” Magnus asked, feeling his flush beginning to cool.

“Of course,” Alec said, and he took a small sip of his wine, maybe to prove it, Magnus wasn’t sure. “You took care of me, and I try not to think about what would have had happened had Sebastian found me first, but sometimes I do think about it, and I cannot express how grateful I am that you… well, you know.”

Magnus nodded. Those words, coming from Alec after Magnus had heard everything that had happened to him in his relationship with Sebastian, they meant more than Magnus could even comprehend in that moment. They were powerful words, and Magnus felt them deep in his core.

“I don’t know why I came up to you that night,” Alec continued. “I think it was because I wanted to thank you for playing my accompaniment because I never got the chance. So, whilst I am thankful for that, I am thankful you were there, in the first place.”

Magnus nodded again. There really was little to say in the face of such words that meant so much. It was difficult to find anything he could say back. He hoped that, in his silence as silence wasn’t something Magnus often found himself in, Alec understood that the words were powerful and meant more to Magnus than he could ever say.

They got on well. Whilst they had the common interest of music and being musicians, they got along on a whole host of subjects. Despite having lived next to Isabelle for a few years and hearing the occasional titbit of Alec’s life, there was still so much to learn about him. He didn’t ask anything too probing, they weren’t going to get deep, but he asked a lot of questions about his life, and he learnt a lot during their relatively short dinner.

They spoke of their siblings, and although Magnus didn’t know all of his or get along with them all that well, he still had stories to tell. He heard stories of Max, of Izzy, of Jace. They spoke of their parents and, although there was nothing explicit, Magnus got the distinct feeling that there may have been similarities in their childhoods.

But neither of them soured the mood by talking about it explicitly. They kept it light, playful, a touch flirty at times. Magnus was still having difficulty telling whether this was a date or not, whether it was innately romantic, but he wasn’t bothered. They were getting along well, and that was more than Magnus could have wanted for this evening.

When it came to dessert, they ended up sharing a cake. It screamed romantic in a typical setting, but this wasn’t necessarily typical. They shared because Alec said he never got dessert and Magnus said he always got a dessert, so they compromised.

It was just as sweet as could be imagined, as sweet as Magnus hoped it would be. Magnus was sure he ate more of it than Alec, but it didn’t matter in the end.

The walk to the theatre was pleasant. It was chilly, but Magnus had his suit and a big coat on, so he was fine. Alec’s coat looked a little thin, but he didn’t make any complaints. If it was a date, Magnus might have held his hand, linked their arms, wrap an arm around his waist. But he wasn’t sure if it was a date, so he did not do those things.

The doors had been open for a few minutes when they arrived, so they went straight in. Magnus asked if he wanted a drink or anything to eat, but Alec shook his head. He supposed they had just eaten dinner. If Magnus were with Will or Tessa, they would have snuck drinks and sweets in because that was the kind of people they were and they liked breaking the rules, particularly around music snobs. He would get by without snacks, he was sure.

They were sat near the back of the ground floor, in the middle section at the end of the row. Whilst they were good seats, Magnus had never believed in the importance of seeing an orchestra or the performers, it was the sound that mattered most. It was nice to be able to see the stage, but never a necessity.

They took off their coats and then sat, waiting for everyone to file in. Even after their pleasant dinner and conversation, Magnus found there was so much more he wanted to ask him, so much he wanted to know. They had covered a few of the basics, like family, music, hobbies, but Magnus wanted to know more. He was so interested in Alec, in getting to know him, and he hoped they could do this again.

Apparently, Alec had heard this orchestra play before and he thought they were very good. Magnus wondered if he should ask what the price of the tickets were and if he should reimburse him, but he didn’t. He thought Alec would never tell him and insist they were a thank you gift, so Magnus decided to leave it.

At eight o’clock, the lights dimmed and that beautiful hush fell over the audience. The curtains fell apart and the music began instantly. It was an energetic piece that started off with strings making a beautifully loud sound. It was consuming, it filled the entire room, the conductor moving in that controlled, erratic fashion, arms swinging wildly to control his musicians.

It was an enchanting medley of sound. The couple of hours they spent in there, in the company of these people and the musicians, it was a powerful movement of music. Magnus didn’t recognise the pieces, but he felt them all, appreciated them as a musician himself.

It swelled, it diminished, it was damn near silent at times and, at others, it was loud enough that Magnus thought all of New York might be able to hear it. It was beautiful and moving and emotional. Magnus felt every note, heard them working alone and working together as part of the ensemble. He heard them as a cumulative piece, heard them as they created a continuous piece of music.

As he often did when he listened or played music, Magnus felt alone in the theatre. As it was his craft, one of his truest loves, it took him to a world nothing else could. Inhabiting it, listening to the music as it filled the room, reaching the farthest corners, Magnus fell in love with it, over and over again.

About an hour in, Magnus could feel it building again. It swelled within him as well, as listening to music usually did. He felt it in his heart, thrumming through his veins. He felt alive around music, his body synced with it. His entire being loved music, it always had. There was a connection to it that he had felt from the first time he had touched a piano, like it was a piece of the puzzle he needed in becoming his true self.

There was a slight movement from Alec that made Magnus glance down. He had moved his hand to the armrest where, previously, they had both been keeping themselves to their own seats, keeping to their own space.

Now that Alec had placed his hand on their shared armrest during the biggest moment of the music, Magnus wondered what that meant. It could have been subconscious, it could have merely been a reaction to the sound that filled the room. It could have just been Alec getting more comfortable.

Magnus thought it more telling than that, however.

The music continued to swell, further and further. It stirred Magnus’ heart, but that could have also come because of Alec having moved his hand to where it now rested. It would be so easy to hold his hand like this, so easy to move his own hand and connect their fingers. He couldn’t be sure Alec had done it for that reason, but Magnus couldn’t get the idea out of his head now he had had it.

Magnus could feel the music swelling to its highest point. It was yet another euphony, a combination of stunning sounds that combined and filled the room. The polyphony made Magnus’ heart stir, the hairs on his arms rising.

Feeling the music control him, not only his emotions but also his movements, Magnus risked it. He moved steadily, taking his time as the music stirred the audience around him, but he made the distance between where his hand currently lay and towards where Alec’s lay.

He came underneath and linked their fingers, Magnus’ proximity meaning he could hear Alec’s breathing hitch. Alec tightened his own fingers around Magnus’, the music reaching its highest, most powerful point.

Content now, Magnus took a deep breath and continued watching the musicians play. The swelling had started to diminish, but Magnus did not intend to let go of Alec’s hand. He was going to hold onto it now and keep a hold of it for as long as he could before they had to part. They fit so well together, Magnus couldn’t even fathom letting go of him.

A short while later, Alec leaned closer to Magnus, waiting to say something. Magnus thought there couldn’t be much longer left of this performance, and this saddened him. He wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.

“It’s just the overture now,” Alec informed him.

“Okay?”

“We can go, beat the rush if you want,” Alec said.

He nodded. It was Alec who stood first, and then they left quickly, grabbing their coats as they walked out. They didn’t want to be too much of an obstacle for the people behind them. Magnus wasn’t sure how many people left these things early, but Magnus didn’t care. He was thinking more about Alec than orchestra decorum.

They pulled their coats on in the foyer, having let go of the other’s hand so they could do so. It was empty in the foyer except for the people manning the doors, getting ready to open them for the crowds. Alec, appearing to take confidence in the lack of an audience, grabbed Magnus’ hand, and they walked out of the building together.

It was even chillier outside now, the cold hitting him much like a wall. Using his free hand, Magnus pulled the collar of his coat up so it gave some more warmth to the bare skin on his neck.

It was relatively busy outside, it was a Friday night after all and this was a popular part of town. No one spared a second glance, or even a first glance, at the two members of the orchestral audience who had left early. They were busy living their own lives, New York thriving and alive at all hours.

They walked a few steps and Magnus was about to ask if Alec wanted to be walked home when he just stopped walking. They were standing in front of a poster for ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ that was coming soon. The warm theatre light that illuminated the poster also warmed Alec’s pale tone, making his eyes shimmer. Magnus stopped as well, not only because Alec had stopped but because he stood before such beauty and it stilled him.

“Kiss me,” Alec said, lips parted, eyes shining and bright.

Magnus did not hesitate. He leaned forward and connected their lips. Alec’s breathing hitched again and Magnus smiled into him. Their hands were still connected, and Magnus used his free hand to cup Alec’s jaw, guiding him into a position where he could kiss him deeper. Alec’s other hand came up to hold onto the front of Magnus’ coat, and Magnus thought it so sweet, he smiled into Alec’s lips again. It was a pleasant feeling having Alec smile into his own.

The rest of the world was lost to him, and it felt like the world Magnus entered when he was lost to his music. Nothing else existed except for Alec and himself. He could feel Alec in this world with him, and Magnus felt himself thrum with existence. His hands were touching Alec, and Magnus found him as alive as a piano under his fingers.

There was a particular way playing the piano made him feel. It made him feel complete and, whilst he had had loves and dear people in his life, nothing else had ever existed that made him enter the world of music the way piano did. It was another realm of existence, and it was one of the reasons no relationship had ever lasted because it could never mirror the way the piano made him feel.

And here he was, kissing Alec, and feeling that same level of completion come into his world. It was like being able to touch the delicate keys of his piano. He knew Alec would come alive under his fingers, be as sweet as the music he could create. The ebony and ivory keys were like Alec beneath his hands, and Magnus couldn’t believe he had found something, someone who made him feel alive the way his music did.

The kiss deepened, Alec’s mouth moving over his. It wettened with their lips, soft and tender and pliant towards the other. Magnus’ hand moved to the nape of Alec’s neck, shifting him just slightly so they could kiss even deeper, their tongues moving against each other, stirring Magnus’ stomach.

It was cold, almost near freezing outside, and Alec’s cold nose was such a juxtaposition to the warmth that thrummed through Magnus’ being. It kept him in the moment, making sure he didn’t forget they were in public. If they had been in private or if Magnus got too lost in his perfect world of music and Alec, Magnus would push him against the wall behind them, start tearing his own and Alec’s clothes off. It was that kind of kiss, it was the way this kiss could have become if neither of them remained present.

The way Alec kissed him, gripping tighter onto his hand, onto his coat, it made it so easy to slip into this world where nothing else existed. Magnus was vaguely aware that the orchestra would be ending soon, that the crowds would emerge. The streets were rather ignorant to them now, but Magnus was sure they would be noticed once the orchestra crowd filled the street.

But Magnus could barely think about that with the way Alec’s lips were so warm and by the gentle way Alec’s lips would twitch into a smile now and then. Alec was sweet, he kissed sweetly, and Magnus could have stayed there a long while, his fingers between the soft locks of his dark hair.

It was Alec who broke them apart, and Magnus realised it was because the doors had opened for the orchestra crowd. They had been kissing for a long while and Magnus’ lips were feeling a touch swollen.

Magnus had to blink himself back into reality, and he saw that Alec’s lips were swollen as well. Magnus’ lipstick had come off over the course of eating and just existing for he hadn’t put much on, so he was quite relieved that nothing had rubbed off onto Alec’s lips. His cheeks had also pinked beautifully. Whether that was from the cold or the kissing, Magnus could not be sure. Either way, he was smiling this bright and beautiful smile that made Magnus’ heart pound.

“Shall we go back to the car?” Magnus asked, amazed his throat worked as well as it did.

Alec nodded, biting his bottom lip, though that didn’t stop his smile shining through. His throat probably didn’t work all that well, and Magnus felt some pride at being the one to cause that in Alec.

“Let’s go, then,” Magnus said, and he squeezed Alec’s hand.

They started walking, hand in hand, both their hearts pounding far too loudly.

Chapter Text

“The pianokeys are black and white

but they sound like a million colors in your mind”

― Maria Cristina Mena, The Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena

When they reached the car, their hands had to part. Magnus thought he should probably concentrate on the road, but it was difficult with Alec being the distracting presence that he was beside him. Driving was no easy feat when Alec’s lips were right there, waiting to be kissed again.

Alec gave him directions so he could be dropped off at his apartment. It wasn’t that far away, it was just a Friday night, and Friday night somehow made the traffic worse. It was good, however, because it meant the two of them could talk in the warmth of the car.

There was a space outside Alec’s building, and Magnus was glad they didn’t have to walk far. The night was cold and Magnus didn’t like being out in it.

They both got out, and Magnus offered to walk Alec upstairs. It didn’t mean anything, Magnus certainly didn’t think or expect this to end in sex, but he wanted to walk Alec upstairs. He wanted to be in his company, and he was so relieved when Alec nodded along, smiling his pretty smile.

Just like Magnus’ building, they didn’t have an elevator. Magnus knew the tragedy of that kind of life, but at least it kept them both fit.

They got to the eighth floor after walking relatively slowly. Magnus wasn’t sure if they were walking slowly because the flights of stairs were tiring or because they wanted to continue being in each other’s company. It was nice, whatever the cause was.

They got to Alec’s apartment, which was number 811, Magnus making a note of that in case he ever needed to buzz up to Alec’s apartment because he was now being hopeful about the relationship they might have. Alec put his key in the door, but he didn’t turn it. He took a deep breath and then turned to Magnus, who was watching him. Magnus smiled and Alec smiled back.

“Thank you,” Alec said.

Magnus wasn’t sure what he was being thanked for. He wasn’t sure he had done anything that deserved thanks. Well, he did exist, and the entire population of earth should thank him for that, but he didn’t know why Alec was thanking him now.

“What for?” he asked.

“Being nice,” Alec clarified. “I know that sounds stupid, but…”

“It doesn’t sound stupid,” Magnus said. He didn’t need to explain. Magnus understood enough. Wanting to keep the conversation flowing, not wanting Alec to be concerned, Magnus said, “So, they have this live jazz band playing most nights, at this bar called Maia’s.” Alec nodded along prettily, Magnus kind of thinking everything he did was pretty. “We should go to it sometime. If you like jazz.”

“I don’t mind jazz,” Alec said.

“Not a jazz fan?” Magnus asked. It was very much something you liked or rather hated. Magnus wasn’t sure there was an in between.

“I don’t mind jazz,” Alec repeated. “I don’t listen to a lot of it. But, I’ll listen to it… with you.”

“Good.” Magnus nodded. “When are you free?”

“Whenever,” Alec said, and his bright smile was back on his beautiful face. “Is tomorrow too soon?”

“Tomorrow is wonderful,” Magnus said, because it was. “Shall I pick you up from here? At five, maybe?”

Alec nodded.

Magnus leaned forward and kissed Alec. He didn’t make it as deep as it had become before. It did cross his mind once that it would be nice to press Alec up against the door, feel the line of his body with his own, kiss him so it made Alec’s knees weak. But it had been a pleasant, sweet date, and Magnus thought it should end that way as well. It would be nice to make it heated, but Magnus wanted to end it with a sweet note, not with anything lustful.

Alec smiled into his lips, and it was such a glorious feeling. Magnus inhaled deeply before he pulled away, letting Alec know he had an effect on him. His smile was all bashful when they broke apart, and Magnus thought he really could be the sweetest thing he had ever seen.

“Tomorrow,” Alec said, and he smiled.

“Tomorrow,” Magnus repeated, and Alec watched him as he walked back down the stairs. He had this fond expression, and Magnus would remember it for a long time.

The next day, after sleeping very well, Magnus went down to the café to get himself a coffee and cake. He told himself, every time, it was to treat himself for doing something well. The reality was, he just liked getting coffee and cake. He could pretend he did it to treat himself, but, really, he just liked coffee and he just liked cake.

On his way back up the stairs, he saw Isabelle coming out of her apartment. Magnus wondered if she knew much about what had happened last night, but he didn’t think he should be the one to mention it in case Alec wanted to keep it quiet for a while.

“Oh, hey,” Izzy greeted, locking her door as Magnus reached the top step. She pulled her coat up around herself and stopped when Magnus stood in front of her. “How was your night? The orchestra good?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Magnus wasn’t surprised Izzy knew about it, she was close with her brother. He didn’t think she knew it had become a date, but Magnus wasn’t going to say anything about that. Not yet, at least. That was up to Alec. Magnus might be very good friends with Isabelle, and he would usually tell her if he had been on a date, but this was different. Alec was her brother after all. “It was nice.”

“I’m glad he finally asked you.” She smiled fondly as if thinking of her brother.

“Finally asked me?”

“Oh, yeah. He bought those tickets weeks ago, he’s been working up the courage to ask you for ages.”

“Weeks ago?”

“Yep. He bought them as a thank you gift after the trial. When was that? Like almost three months ago?”

“Wow.” Magnus had not been prepared for that revelation.

“Yeah,” Izzy agreed. “Sebastian just kind of knocked the confidence out of him. He’s never been, you know, full of confidence, but they met when he was eighteen, dated from twenty, it’s not helped him whatsoever. He’s never been allowed to flourish, if that makes sense. I don’t know how long it’ll be before he’s properly okay again.”

“So, it’s good he got around to asking?”

“Definitely.”

Taking all of that into account, Magnus nodded and said, “We had a really good time. It was… really nice.”

“I’m so glad.” She smiled brightly and then bid goodbye and was on her way. Magnus went into his apartment and considered Alec as he went about his day.

He supposed it made sense, the things Alec had been through would obviously make this sort of thing difficult. Magnus had absolutely zero idea as to why Alec was okay with kissing and touching when it came to Magnus. Sure, Magnus had looked after him during the party and played the piano accompaniment for him, but he didn’t know Magnus. He thought Alec would need a whole lot of time to be okay with a whole host of things and, whilst Magnus was more than happy to wait, he just wondered why Alec thought Magnus was okay after having been through the things he had been through.

It made Magnus, even more so than before, want to take care of Alec. He was always going to be gentle with him, he had been there during the trial, he had heard the shit Alec had been through. But, now, after knowing Alec had wanted to be with Magnus all this time, for months, whether he had romantic intentions to begin with or not, Magnus wanted to nourish that sweet side of him. It would take time, but Magnus was willing to put the time in.

People who were sweet in nature, who wore their hearts so fully on their sleeves, they deserved to stay that way. Magnus, in no way, believed people had to harden or change to deal with the world, and Magnus didn’t want Alec to change. He barely knew him, but he wanted to care for him, and Magnus was going to do his best to do that if Alec let him.

He got ready at three. It didn’t really take him that long to get ready as he had his makeup down to a fine art and, whilst he might change his mind on an outfit three or four times, he never left it late enough that it would make him late. The real reason it took so long was because he listened to music and he was a real fiend for singing along and forgetting what he was in the middle of doing. Giving himself two hours gave him plenty of time to both sing and do his routine of getting ready, and then enough time to get to Alec as well.

This time, he went for a more striking makeup look. Whilst they were only going to a bar where a live band played, and whilst he was going to make sure they danced, he could still make himself look pretty. Well, prettier than he usually looked, of course.

As it wasn’t all that formal, he went for a simple wing, a touch of mascara, and a lip that matched the red jacket he would be wearing tonight. His eyeshadow was very shimmery, and he even went for some blush. His outfit for the evening was this gorgeous black jumper that fit his body perfectly, and dark-coloured jeans. He gelled his hair and stared at himself in the mirror when he was done. He looked an absolute treat, but when didn’t he?

They were going to walk today, Magnus decided, because then he could drink a little, and he didn’t have to worry about parking. It was a bit of a walk, and the air was brisk, but it would be all right. They could hold hands, Magnus thought. Any excuse for that, really.

Before he left, he made sure Chairman had enough food and gave him a scratch behind the ear. He didn’t seem at all bothered that Magnus was going out, he merely looked at Magnus, let his tail flick happily once as Magnus pet him, and then he curled up and went back to sleep.

Once he got to Alec’s building, he pressed the buzzer and Alec answered it so quickly, Magnus thought he was almost definitely waiting for him to buzz. That made his heart swell about a hundred times its original size.

“Hello?” Alec answered, a tone of hopeful expectancy to his voice.

“Hello,” Magnus replied, smiling into the speaker. “It’s Magnus.”

“I’ll be down in a second,” Alec said. Magnus wasn’t waiting long before the door opened and Alec appeared, still pulling on his coat and breathing heavy, as if he might have run down the stairs to get to him. Magnus’ heart swelled further, somehow.

He was wearing these skinny jeans and the sweetest, blue jumper underneath his black coat, which was the same one he had worn yesterday. He smiled brightly, and Magnus smiled back.

Magnus held out his hand and Alec took it instinctively, and they started walking.

The streets were busy with people going out and about for their Saturday evening, so Magnus and Alec stuck close together so they were not obstacles for people in a hurry. It was nice, feeling so much of Alec’s warmth, their arms touching constantly. Magnus was fond of it.

“You look really nice, by the way,” Alec said as they waited for a crossing to turn green. “Very glamorous.”

Magnus smiled at him. “Thank you.” He squeezed his hand.

The crossing changed and they walked forward alongside about a hundred other people who were trying to get somewhere exciting. For a lot of people, this evening outing would be the only time they could get out, the weekends their only time off. For this reason, as well as for so many others, Magnus was glad he didn’t work a nine-to-five job. He liked the way he worked, he liked creating his own structure to his days, and he did not envy those stuck in the rush hour traffics twice a day and forced into the routine of only being able to enjoy Friday and Saturday night.

“Have you ever been to Maia’s?” Magnus asked as they started walking along Central Park. The jazz band played outside the bar, but remained in the Park, a nice open space for people to dance if they so wished. Magnus was always glad people were dancing, and he very well intended to get Alec dancing as well.

Alec nodded. “Simon, you know Simon, right?” Magnus nodded. “Well, he used to date Maia.”

“Ah,” Magnus said.

Alec nodded. “That’s how Simon and Isabelle met, actually. We were at Maia’s, and we knew her a little, but we used to see Simon there all the time. Then we got friendly, and then he started dating Isabelle.”

“Right…”

“It’s fine. No one’s like, weird about it.” Alec shrugged. “I mean, I’d kill him if she was upset. But she’s not, and I don’t think she sees a reason to be upset. She gets on with Maia pretty well, and people date and then stop dating all the time, so…” He shrugged again.

“That’s very courteous of you,” Magnus said.

Alec shrugged once more.

“It was an amicable breakup then?” Magnus asked.

Alec nodded. “I think Simon just found he liked Isabelle a bit more. Maia was upset which, you know, is fair, but I think she gets that people change, so nobody’s bothered.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had an amicable breakup,” Magnus admitted. They reached the bar then, the two having decided they would stop in for a drink and food before they listened to the band. It was quite busy, but they found a table inside. They took off their coats and sat down. They perused the menu and warmed up their hands as they thought about what they wanted to order.

“Ever?” Alec asked.

Magnus shook his head. He had had breakups he had intended to be amicable, but none ever had been. Maybe it was the way he did it, he wasn’t sure. It might have had something to do with the fact he was obsessed with his music and his relationships had struggled because of that, but he could never know entirely for sure.

“And, uh… how many breakups have you had?” Alec asked, playing with the menu and avoiding eye contact for a moment.

Magnus smiled and did not answer until Alec looked at him. He held up a hand, all five fingers showing.

“Five?” Alec asked.

Magnus nodded.

“Were they all quite serious?” Alec asked. “Because I don’t really have that much experience.”

“They were serious, sort of. But that’s not an issue,” Magnus said, smiling. “We’re still young.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-eight. I’ll be twenty-nine next month.”

Alec nodded. “I’m twenty-three.”

Magnus nodded. He had known that anyway because of Isabelle, but it would be redundant saying that to Alec. Instead, he said he would get them their orders, and brought the drinks back as they waited for their food to be cooked. They both went for coffee, deciding alcohol could come after food, and they drank as they chatted.

The band started playing at six, so they were still drinking and eating when they started up. It was a slow jazz, an easy listening sort of music. Magnus liked jazz, but he appreciated that a lot of people didn’t.

As they continued playing, some people started to get up to dance. A few were couples, some of them were friends, having a good time. It was a Saturday night, people were out here to have fun.

As they watched, they drank a couple of cocktails, though Magnus made sure they were heavier on the fruit or mixers than on the alcohol. He did not want Alec to have any sort of flashbacks or triggers, so he avoided vodka at all costs. It eased them up though, made them relax and enjoy the evening even further.

After they had finished both their food and their drinks, Magnus reached over the table and took Alec’s hand. Alec looked towards him and smiled, linking their fingers.

“Shall we go and dance?” Magnus asked.

“I’m such a bad dancer,” Alec said, wincing. “I don’t want to embarrass you.”

“You don’t have to dance well,” Magnus said. “It’ll just be swaying. I promise.”

Alec still seemed unsure.

“I’m a very good dancer,” Magnus assured. “I will lead you very well.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Alec nodded slowly. He did not let go of Magnus’ hand as he led them through the bar and out to the open area where people were dancing. They found themselves a nice spot for they didn’t need all that much room, and Magnus guided Alec’s hands to where they needed to rest. He put one on his shoulder, placing one of his own on Alec’s waist, and then he took his other and tucked it against his chest, and they swayed.

They swayed together for a quiet moment, Magnus focusing on naught but Alec, the feel of him, the way he pressed into Magnus’ body. He had rested his head on Magnus’ shoulder, and Magnus pressed his lips once into his hair. It felt more like their fiftieth date than their second, as if their souls just knew each other.

“Are all our dates going to have to be about music?” Alec asked, his tone light and content, still swaying together in their perfect quiet for a moment.

“Shall we see if we can make the first ten about music?” Magnus asked, very content with this idea. Perhaps it was presumptuous, assuming they would be going on at least ten dates, but Magnus just felt a connection with Alec. He felt their souls did know each other, aligned in some way Magnus hadn’t felt before. He had been in love before, he had thought he had felt a connected soul before, but perhaps that had been a mere imitation of what it felt like, his own soul linked with Alec’s in a way he had not felt before.

Alec laughed lightly, Magnus feeling it as it moved through his chest.

“So, first two are done,” Magnus said. “We could go to one of the music museums, and a concert will do, a musical… let’s see.” Magnus took a second to think. “We could go record shopping.”

“You own a record player?” Alec asked.

“I’m very hipster, darling,” Magnus said, and Alec laughed again.

“We can put the music channel on and make out,” Magnus said, and Alec laughed gently. As there was no protest, Magnus thought that would definitely be one of their dates.

“Does this count as seeing a band or some singer at like a café or something?” Alec asked. “Because we could do that.”

“Let’s definitely do that.” Magnus thought. “We need two more.”

“I don’t like clubbing,” Alec said.

“No?”

“Sebastian took me to clubs,” Alec said, and Magnus nodded along. “I don’t like the way people grabbed me. And, I don’t mind nice PDA, like this or holding hands or whatever, but all that grinding and sucking face that goes on, that Sebastian wanted to do and did, like… I just don’t really like it. Seeing it or doing it.”

“No clubs, then,” Magnus affirmed, fine with that. They just had to come up with two more, but it appeared they were both stumped. “Eight out of ten is good,” Magnus decided.

Alec laughed again. “Eight out of ten is good.”

They continued dancing sweetly for a long while, occasionally talking, but mainly listening to the music. Magnus so loved jazz, and he loved being able to dance with someone else who didn’t mind it. Sure, Alec didn’t seem to love it, but they danced just fine all the same. Magnus couldn’t believe they fit together so well, it was lovely.

When it got late and Magnus could tell they were both content to leave it where it was, Magnus pulled apart slightly from Alec. They were still in each other’s space, but they could look each other in the eye now.

“Are you ready to head back?” Magnus asked.

Alec was hesitant, so Magnus waited to figure out why before he said anything else.

“Would you like to go back to your apartment?” Alec asked. “I would invite you to mine, but Jace and Clary are there, so…”

Magnus nodded. “If you wanted.” He wasn’t reading that Alec wanted sex at the end of this date, and Magnus was okay with that. It didn’t have to be sex, and Magnus was content to have him in his apartment. If he wanted to sleep over, that was fine too. To have Alec secluded to himself in the quiet space of his apartment, Magnus thought that might be an interesting next step to this date.

He kept a hold of Alec’s hand and led him through the small crowd that had gathered. Magnus hadn’t realised just how cosy it had been dancing amongst the others and having Alec so close to him because, now they were out in the open and Alec was not pressed up against him, Magnus found it was rather freezing. His jacket, whilst stylish, was not necessarily the warmest. His hand was secured in Alec’s, which was still warm, but the rest of him was quite cold now.

“I have a cat by the way,” Magnus said as they got closer to his building. “I don’t know if that’s a deal breaker or anything.”

“Why would it be?”

“Some people don’t like cats.”

“Oh… I don’t have much experience with cats. Are they a nice cat?”

Magnus nodded. “He’s lovely. He’s just shy, so you might not actually see him.”

“What’s his name?”

“Chairman Meow.”

Alec’s silence indicated he either did not get the joke or thought the name was odd.

It was such a relief when they got into his apartment. It was warm and Magnus could lock the cold well outside. He took off his jacket and hung it up on the coat rack, looking to Alec and seeing him look around the apartment with his bright and beautiful eyes. The layout was almost exactly the same as Isabelle’s, so he couldn’t be too jarred by it. It was a new space, however, and new spaces always encouraged intrigue.

He offered to take Alec’s coat, and Alec nodded, handing it to him. Magnus hung it up on the coat rack and watched Alec again, who turned to him and smiled.

“You have a nice apartment,” Alec said.

“Thank you,” Magnus replied. “Do you want a coffee?” It was too late, really, to be drinking something caffeinated, but Magnus got the distinct feeling they might be up late anyway. It still wasn’t anything sexual, but Magnus thought they might be awake, chatting for hours. It just felt like that kind of night.

Alec nodded and followed Magnus over to the kitchen area as Magnus started making some coffee.

As Alec sat at the island, Chairman pattered into the room cautiously. Magnus could see him from where he was getting the mugs, but Alec hadn’t noticed him yet. Chairman scouted out the room and saw this stranger, making him still as he pressed against the wall.

Magnus had expected him, because he did not care for strangers, to turn back around and disappear back into the bedroom, but he came further into the room.

Trying not to take note that this was unprecedented, Magnus filled the mugs with the required sugar and milk. He kept his eye on his cat as he came even further into the room and shocked Alec when he jumped up onto the seat beside him. He wasn’t allowed on the counters, but the seats were fine.

“This is… Chairman?” Alec asked, staring at the cat as the cat stared at him.

“This is Chairman,” Magnus said, smiling. “He doesn’t usually like strangers.”

“Should I pet him?”

“If you want.” Magnus laughed through his nose. “He doesn’t scratch or bite. I think.”

Carefully, Alec reached a hand out and patted Chairman cautiously on the head. Chairman pressed his head into the contact and rubbed against Alec’s palm, which surprised both Magnus and Alec.

“Maybe he likes you,” Magnus said, pushing Alec’s coffee towards him, Alec using his free hand to pick it up because Chairman was still rubbing against his palm.

“Would it be all right if I… slept here tonight?” Alec asked, his attention more on the cat than on Magnus.

“Of course. Do you not want to go home?”

“Clary and Jace are…” Alec winced and looked back to Magnus. Magnus furrowed his brow, confused about what they could be. “Not exactly quiet.”

“Ah,” Magnus said, understanding very well now. “You are more than welcome to stay. Do you want to borrow pyjamas?”

“Please.”

“I might, totally accidentally, forget to give you a pyjama top,” Magnus teased, winking.

Alec stared at him, eyes thin. “That’s probably something you shouldn’t have said, and should have just done.”

“Maybe.” Magnus shrugged, smiling widely. “But I like to forewarn.”

Alec laughed. It was a beautiful sound.

“Shall we sit on the sofa?” Magnus asked.

“But… Chairman,” Alec said.

“He’ll follow you over, I’m sure.”

Magnus led him over to the sofa, Chairman jumping off and winding himself around Alec’s legs as they walked.

When they sat down, close to each other, Chairman Meow leapt up beside Alec and curled up next to him. Alec seemed surprised by this, as Magnus himself was. It was good though. Magnus thought it important for his cat to like who he was seeing.

There was little conversation then, each of them just enjoying the warmth of the apartment, the warmth of their beverage, and the warmth of the man beside them. Alec was also enjoying the warmth of Chairman as he settled to sleep beside him, which Magnus was pleased about.

When they had both finished their coffees, they put their empty mugs on the table in front of them. Magnus checked the clock that hung on the righthand wall. It was almost eleven o’clock. They would be up, buzzing for hours, but Magnus was okay with that. It had been a while since he had felt this new feeling of romance. To like someone, to want to know them, to want to understand them, it wasn’t something Magnus had had for a while, and he liked the way it made him feel. If Alec was content to stay awake, then so was Magnus.

Looking back towards Alec, who was still perusing the new space in front of him and stroking the cat, Magnus reached over and brushed a strand of hair behind his ear. Alec looked at him, his bright eyes curious but also jovial. His smile reached his eyes just as Magnus’ finger brushed his skin on its way down and back to Magnus’ lap.

“It’s late,” Alec said. This seemed a redundant statement, particularly given they had just drunk coffee, but Magnus nodded.

“Do you want to go to bed?”

Alec shook his head.

“What do you want to do then?” Magnus asked, softly. His fingers ached to brush against Alec’s soft skin again but he felt he had to get a lot of permissions from Alec first. He knew he wasn’t delicate and that he wouldn’t break, but Magnus wanted to be careful around him and he would only touch him if he knew Alec wanted to be touched.

“Will you kiss me?” Alec asked, quiet, as if Magnus might not.

Magnus nodded. “Happily.”

Alec near beamed as Magnus leaned forward and kissed him. It was only a short kiss, a peck, not what Alec was asking for, but Magnus liked the way Alec smiled when he pulled back.

“Again,” Alec said.

Magnus laughed through his nose. He reached his hand up again and brushed the hair across Alec’s forehead. Alec watched him, his pupils enlarging a touch. His eyelids were hooded, and Magnus would remember him like that forever.

“Will you kiss me again, please?” Alec asked, soft as the night.

They kissed for a long while, their lips moving slowly over the other’s. Magnus could feel Alec’s eyelashes as they fluttered from where Magnus was kissing him so deeply. Their bodies were angled so they could be as close as possible without Magnus lying atop him, and his hand was on Alec’s knee. He wanted to push it further, run it up his thigh, but he wasn’t sure Alec was okay with that.

Alec released the smallest of noises from the back of his throat when Magnus’ other hand slipped just a touch up Alec’s shirt, his fingers touching the warm skin that hid beneath his jumper. He hadn’t entirely meant to do it, it was just the way his jumper moved with the angle of his body on the sofa, but he was content it happened.

His lips near ached as they kissed for as long as they did, the night growing older and older, turning into early morning. The frost touched the windows, but Magnus focused on Alec’s lips and the feel of his tongue in his mouth.

Subconsciously, without even realising he was doing it, Magnus did slide his hand up Alec’s thigh. He hadn’t intended to, it was just the way he acted when he was making out with someone, and his body had just reacted to the sensation of Alec on his lips.

Alec flinched and pulled back and Magnus, until he realised what he had done, felt confused. Then he felt great shame. One hand was still resting on Alec’s hip, but the other was now back in his own lap.

“I’m sorry,” Magnus said, hoping Alec didn’t hate him now.

Alec shook his head, smiling, almost embarrassed, it seemed. “No, it’s my fault. I’m just not used to it.”

“It’s not your fault,” Magnus assured. “Are you all right?”

Alec nodded and took a deep breath, closing his eyes to steady himself.

When he opened them again, he was smiling, but he still looked embarrassed. Magnus wished he wouldn’t.

“I won’t do it again,” Magnus said.

Alec shook his head. “You can, I want you to.” He swallowed. “I just need to get used to it.”

“Okay,” Magnus said, hoping he hadn’t hurt Alec in any way. It was the last thing he wanted.

Alec sighed. “You’ll have to try and fix me,” he said. It was a small, throwaway statement. Or, really, that was how Alec had intended it, but Magnus thought it was an awful thing to say, and he didn’t see Alec like that at all.

He brushed the back of his forefinger against the smooth skin on Alec’s cheek. “I don’t see you as being broken,” Magnus said.

Alec’s bright, blue eyes changed, a different kind of vulnerability showing, and Magnus just watched him. Alec wasn’t broken. The things in his past might have had an effect, but that didn’t mean he needed fixing, he just needed to think about life differently. Magnus would happily help, but that didn’t mean he considered it a way to fix him.

He didn’t say anything, he just rested his head on Magnus’ shoulder, and Magnus was happy to comfort him in this way, as he always would be.

Chapter Text

“The voice so filled with nostalgia that you could almost see the memories floating through the blue smoke, memories not only of music and joy and youth, but perhaps, of dreams. They listened to the music, each hearing it in his own way, feeling relaxed and a part of the music, a part of each other, and almost a part of the world.”
― Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

They hung out on the sofa for a little while longer and then Alec asked if it would be all right to get ready for bed. It was half-past one and, whilst Magnus didn’t think they would be sleeping any time soon, it was probably a good time to get ready for bed.

Magnus didn’t forget to give Alec a pyjama top. Instead of proper pyjamas, Magnus gave him some jogging bottoms and an old t-shirt, which, when Magnus returned to the bedroom after washing his face and cleaning his teeth, made Magnus’ heart skip frantically. He looked very sweet and Magnus liked that a lot.

When they got into bed, Alec just using mouthwash because Magnus didn’t have any other toothbrushes, they lay close to each other. It was nice to feel his warmth, to feel comfortable with him like this even though they barely knew each other.

Chairman had curled up on his own bed, never sleeping on Magnus’ bed, after following Alec religiously. Alec was probably relieved Chairman wasn’t going to sleep on him.

“So, have you lived in New York your whole life?” Magnus asked. He felt like this might be a time for quiet and informative conversations. That’s what usually happened when you were tucked up in bed and comfortable with someone.

Alec nodded. “I’ve never even left the country. I’ve been out of the state a couple of times, but not to go very far. It sucks. You?”

“I grew up in Indonesia,” Magnus said.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. Well, I was there until I was five, and then I came over to New York.”

“What happened when you were five?” Alec asked. They had spoken a little about this over their two dates, but Magnus had never gone into much detail. He wanted to tell Alec everything about him, and he would go into that detail now.

“Well-.”

“Oh, is it not a good story?” Alec asked, perhaps picking up on Magnus’ tone. “You don’t have to tell me. I don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind telling you, you just need some context, that’s all.”

Alec nodded.

“I have a lot of siblings, right? But none of them are full-blooded siblings. I have a lot of step-siblings and a lot of half-siblings. I was born to my mother and father due to an affair,” Magnus explained.

“Oh,” Alec said, wincing.

“Yes, I was unwanted,” Magnus informed him. He had long come to terms with it, but he appreciated that other people needed time to process this information. “My father didn’t even know I existed until I was three.”

Alec seemed stunned at this news, but it was another piece of his life that he had long come to terms with.

“I am not the youngest nor the oldest of any of my siblings,” Magnus continued. “My mother has been married three times, and also had the affair, and my step-father has been married twice. They’re still together now, and they have had children of their own. And then there’s my father who will sleep with anything, I don’t think even he knows how many kids he’s had. Anyway, I was growing up in Indonesia, but my parents were dealing with the strain of having so many children and the easiest way to deal with that strain is to unload a child or two onto someone else. I was bought a plane ticket and I was sent to New York to live with my biological father.”

Alec remained silent, watching Magnus.

“I grew up here and have remained here since, other than the occasional visit because a grandmother died or for something like that. Not that they ever acknowledge my existence all that often,” Magnus said.

“That sucks,” Alec said.

Magnus shrugged. “I’m well used to it now. I mean, I’ve had a long while to deal with it.”

“How did your father react?”

“Oh, wonderfully,” Magnus said, a heavy note of sarcasm to his tone. “It was just the two of us, I don’t think any of the mothers of my other siblings thought he would be a good father, and they wouldn’t be wrong. I haven’t actually met most of them. I didn’t see him much either, he left me with our neighbours. This woman named Charlotte and her husband, Henry, looked after me most of the time. She was how I found music too. She owned a music shop, so I would go with her when she opened the store and she taught me piano. I would go by there after school, she would feed me. It probably worked out better that way.”

Alec nodded. Magnus thought he was affected quite strongly by this story, and it was only because Magnus was so used to it that he wasn’t.

“One of her sons was actually my first boyfriend,” Magnus said.

“One of the ones you didn’t break up with amicably?”

Magnus nodded.

“What happened?” Alec asked.

“Well, we dated from fifteen to seventeen, and then we stopped dating,” Magnus said. “If I had to be brutally honest, and it is only the years between when it happened and now that I can allow myself to be honest, but I was the problem, the reason why it wasn’t amicable. I think he understands now, but it was my fault, I believe.

“When I was seventeen, my father took off. I suppose, retrospectively, it wasn’t any different from when he wasn’t ever around, but it felt different and that really affected my feelings. I shouldn’t have acted the way I did towards him, but I did.”

“Your dad just took off? When you were seventeen?”

Magnus nodded.

“Oh.”

“It’s fine. I remember selling almost everything we owned because I could not afford the rent, and then, because I realised I wouldn’t be able to afford it long-term, I moved to this tiny, little apartment. It was a box. My bed was in one corner, and two steps away was the kitchen. The bathroom, you could fit maybe two people in at once and that was it, reaching the sink from the toilet. The table, like the dinner table, was situated at the end of my bed, and I did not own a wardrobe. It was tiny and ridiculous, but it was mine.” Although it had been hellish living there, Magnus remembered it fondly. Perhaps it had been the distance from his father that was nice, Magnus could never be certain, but he didn’t hate it when he looked back on it.

“How did you pay for it at seventeen?”

“I sold my body,” Magnus joked, winking.

“Are you serious?” Alec asked, horrified, fairly so.

“No.” Magnus pinched Alec’s side, and Alec laughed. “I played piano for everyone and anyone who would pay me for it. I played at restaurants, during karaoke at this seedy bar, I did lessons for kids, anything that would get me money, I would do it. Charlotte offered to give me a part-time job but, after what happened with Matthew, I thought I shouldn’t.”

Alec nodded. “And, uh… what about the other breakups?”

“You’re interested in those?” Magnus asked with a smile.

Alec nodded.

“Well, after Matthew, there was James. That broke up because I don’t think we were ever all that good for each other. It was not a pretty breakup. We were young and stupid, but it happened and it’s important not to begrudge yourself for being young and stupid, I think.

“Then there was Etta, and I was actually going to marry Etta.”

“Really?”

Magnus nodded. “We were very in love. But she thought I had become too obsessed with music, and maybe I had, I don’t know. She was a singer, we met through that, I was playing an accompaniment for her and I just thought she was amazing. We fell in love very quickly and I bought the ring and I was going to propose.

“But the night I was going to propose, you know, we went to this nice restaurant, and I thought it was very romantic, but she was using it as a goodbye, apparently. Before I could start talking about how special she was and how much I wanted to be with her, she told me she thought I was too obsessed with my music, with piano. She thought we were at different times in our lives, and she broke up with me.

“I cannot tell you how shameful and embarrassing it is returning an engagement ring. I had even asked them if they did inscriptions, I was going to get the wedding rings inscribed with the Indonesian for ‘I love you’, which is ‘Aka Cinta Kamu’ because I took her to Indonesia, and she fell in love with it. Telling them I would no longer need the inscribing as well was awesome, just the best.”

Alec stayed quiet, watching with his big, beautiful eyes. Magnus bore his soul, and he felt Alec would accept him.

“Then there was Imasu. It started off as a fling after Etta, I took a trip around the world to mend my heart, and Imasu was a lovely fling in Peru, which ended up getting more serious. Well, I thought it was more serious. He did not and I was, again, very broken when he said it was time we stopped dating.

“And the last one was Lucie. It was short-lived, but intense. I think that intensity ruined it.” Magnus sighed. “Maybe I just don’t do breakups very well.”

“I can’t imagine any breakup is easy.”

Magnus shook his head. Some had to be better than others, but Magnus seemed to have had a rough time of it.

Perhaps, again, it was down to that balance Magnus had yet to find in his life. No matter how hard he had tried, things had never ended well. Maybe it had something to do with loving his piano more, and he had tried, at certain intervals, to make it a better balance between love and music, but it had never worked.

This time, maybe, it could work. Something about Alec felt like it clicked; it clicked with Alec musically, it clicked with Alec romantically, it clicked with Alec just in terms of living. If they could keep it up, if Magnus could keep committed like he hadn’t been able to before, then maybe, at long last, he had found something that could give him true balance. Only time would tell, but if it clicked now, that meant it could easily click later in life.

“Can I ask you something, Alec?”

Alec nodded.

“How did you breakup with Sebastian? What made you finally manage it? Because Isabelle said you’d been dating for three years, so I just wanted to know what happened to make you breakup with him?”

“Well…”

“If it’s too much, you don’t have to say,” Magnus said. He was curious, but he didn’t want to make Alec think about it if it affected him negatively.

“No, it’s fine. I’m just trying to think where to start…” He thought for a moment before he started speaking. “So, where I used to live, with Sebastian, it was on the way back from school for Max, my little brother. I don’t think you’ve ever met him. Well, he would come to us after school and then my parents would pick him up after work, it was easier for them.

“So, Max had come around and was waiting for our parents to pick him up, and he had gone to the toilet or something, I don’t remember exactly, but he wasn’t in the room. And I was going to be out with Jace that night, just to hang out with him and stuff because he is my brother, after all. Sebastian, as he wasn’t ever happy with anything, wasn’t particularly happy that I was going out. He was just saying shit like I’d better not even be thinking about it and stuff like that. I can’t even remember what I said back to him, but he didn’t like it and he slapped me.

“I mean, I’m used to that, but I turned and Max was just there, staring at us. He had his comic in his hand, and he just like, Angel above, I can’t even describe the look on his face, but it sucked. It just… It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life.

“And that’s what just made me think, you know, I don’t think I can go on with this if this is how it looks to the people I love. I mean, I knew it wasn’t like, normal, that some of the stuff that went on wasn’t appropriate or good for a relationship. But it’s hard, you know, when it’s you going through it, living it is so different to seeing it from the outside.

“I just took Max’s hand and said I’m gonna take my stuff when he’s not around. I don’t think he thought I was serious, but I was. I did need Jace’s help to keep strong about it, but yes, that’s how it happened.”

Magnus nodded.

Alec sighed. “I kind of ignored just how exhausting it was, being in a relationship with him. I had to basically apologise for existing. I don’t know if anyone who hasn’t been in an abusive relationship really understands what it’s like… I don’t suppose you’ve ever been in one, have you?”

Magnus took a steadying breath. “I have actually.”

Alec furrowed his brow. “You have?”

“Yes. Between Etta and Imasu, there was Camille.”

“Camille?”

“Mm,” Magnus hummed. “I’ve had six serious relationships, but I just don’t like to count her as one.”

“Oh, you don’t have to talk about her,” Alec said.

“I can do,” Magnus said. “There’s no issue with it, really. She was just… hellish. Beautiful, mind you, very beautiful. But she was evil, like there was nothing kind about her whatsoever, but, like you say, it’s difficult to see it when you’re in it. And it affects you forever.”

Alec nodded.

“You see, I like to make jokes, I think I’m quite funny,” Magnus said, smiling. “But she just used to hate it. She did hit me a couple of times and, you know, they never speak about abusive women. Even though it wasn’t very hard, she used hit me or slap my arm a lot, and I just got used to it. She used to hit me whenever I tried to make a joke. She just did not like to laugh. Particularly at anything I ever said.

“And then, it must have been six, seven months later, I was joking with my friends, and one of them raised their hand to cover their mouth as they laughed, and I flinched. Everyone saw it, and it was so embarrassing even though I know it’s not my fault,” Magnus said. “Did Sebastian ever say he would kill himself if you did anything he didn’t like? Camille did that all the time.”

“Sebby did it a couple of times. I can’t remember why, but he said it once, and I said I wished he would. I felt super guilty because that’s such an awful thing to say to someone, but then he slapped me, and I didn’t feel so guilty after that.

“Sebby used to backhand me all the time, like some pimp.” Alec laughed a humourless laugh.

“Sebby?” Magnus repeated.

Alec tutted. “Did I call him Sebby?”

Magnus nodded and Alec tutted again.

“Don’t beat yourself up about it,” Magnus said, stroking his hand down Alec’s arm. “It takes a long while to get out of abusive and self-destructive habits.”

Alec nodded. “I used to think he couldn’t be evil,” he continued. “We used to cuddle almost every night, and that just made me think it was fine, that he was fine. It’s so stupid. He even used to choose my clothes, and I still find myself struggling with what to choose, not even just buying clothes, but what to wear daily as well. It’s so stupid.”

“It’s not stupid.”

Alec shrugged. He sighed. “Shall we talk about something else?”

“If you want to.”

Magnus thought for a moment. “Tell me about Jace, I don’t know much about him or your relationship with him.” He knew Jace was a special person in Alec’s life, Izzy spoke about them like they were joined at the hip. He didn’t know much about the details of their relationship and, as it seemed Alec might be an important part of his life, he wanted to know about the important parts of Alec’s life.

Alec started smiling. “I adore Jace. He’s an ass, more often than not, I wonder what it would be like if he would shut up for a second, but I love him.

“He started playing piano before I played violin, but he got me into it. I have rarely played with anyone else, I just like the way Jace plays and I like the way we sound together. I don’t know if that’s because my parents like Jace playing piano and, if I’m connected to him in that way, then maybe they’ll like my playing as well, I don’t know. It’s just, we’re connected as brothers, but we’re connected as musicians as well, and I really like that.

“He gets me into a lot of trouble. At school, he was a menace and I was always there, picking up the pieces, but I suppose he’s made my live a varied life… We used to steal magazine.”

“Magazines?” Magnus repeated.

“Playgirl magazines,” Alec clarified, with the cheekiest smile Magnus had ever seen.

“Are you serious?”

Alec nodded. “Jace used to flirt with the girl behind the counter, and we were, what, fourteen, I think? And, whilst he was flirting, I used to grab a Playgirl for me and a Playboy for Jace.”

“Goodness.”

“Yeah. We did that for about two, three years.”

“Wow.”

Alec yawned then, and Magnus thought it was probably time they went to sleep. They had bore their souls for the other to hear and see, and Magnus could feel the connection to him only strengthening.

He kissed Alec gently on the lips and they curled up to go to sleep.

It was a comfortable sleep, and Magnus felt like he had barely closed his eyes before the sun was up, warming the paths and buildings with its light.

He had woken up before Alec and he watched him for a moment, the sun streaming through the gap in the curtains. The serenity that overtook his features whilst he slept was lovely, and Magnus couldn’t bring himself to look away from him.

When he started to wake, his eyes opened slowly, eyelashes fluttering, and Magnus’ heart damn near cracked from how sweet it was.

“Good morning,” Alec said, voice croaky and sleepy, and he stretched, which was a beautiful movement.

“Good morning,” Magnus replied.

“I know it’s a Sunday,” Alec began, rubbing his eyes, “but I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to go on another date today. Or is it too soon?”

“It is certainly not too soon,” Magnus said. He found himself enjoying Alec’s company, and if he could have it for longer, he would. Magnus didn’t want it to move quickly because that could stop something from becoming beautiful, but Magnus had to take advantage of something romantic when it was fitting in with his life because that didn’t happen often. Finding that balance was difficult, and since it was working now, Magnus wanted to keep at it.

Also, with Magnus working all of next week at the restaurant, he wasn’t sure he would be able to see Alec all that much, so he would make the most of him now. “What did you want to do?”

“The record store. Do you know any that are open today?”

Magnus nodded. “Do you want to head to one?”

Alec nodded. “I mean, I don’t want to go in the clothes I was wearing yesterday. Would it be all right if I maybe borrowed something of yours?”

Magnus nodded. “Do you want to shower?”

“Yes, please.”

They didn’t stay in bed much longer. Magnus could tell Alec was ready to get on with the day. Whilst it might have been nice to stay in bed, chat in their sleepy states, they had spoken a lot last night. There was still plenty to be shared between the two, but Magnus was content to start the day now Alec was awake.

Magnus let Alec shower first, giving him a towel and readying his own outfit as he waited. He also got some coffee and breakfast ready. It was still early, the record shop would have only just opened, so they had time.

When Alec emerged after a short shower, Magnus was very pleasantly met with Alec wearing only the towel around his waist. Magnus supposed he should have been prepared for that given he had gone in with only the pyjamas and had asked if he could wear Magnus’ clothes for the day, but he hadn’t been prepared.

Although Magnus didn’t want to letch over him, he couldn’t help but admire him as he was faced with his bare torso. His chest was gloriously pale. There was lovely definition in his stomach and shoulders. He was quite hairless except for a pretty line of dark hair that started at his navel and disappeared below the towel. He had a couple of tattoos, though Magnus wasn’t entirely sure what they were of; they were made of thick, black lines in odd shapes, and there were four of them that Magnus could see, wrapping around his body. They stood out beautifully against his pale skin; starkly dark against his toned form.

Alec cleared his throat and Magnus shook himself from his daze. He looked up to Alec to see him smiling. Magnus threw on a smile also.

“You have tattoos,” Magnus acknowledged.

“I do.”

“What are they?”

“Runes.”

“Ah.” Magnus was not entirely sure what they were runes of, but they were nice. “Shall we get you some clothes?”

“Please,” Alec said with a smile.

Magnus led him back into the bedroom and opened his wardrobe. Well, he opened a couple of doors because it was organised into sections and these two were the best option for today’s activity.

“Choose what you like,” Magnus said. “Maybe not one of my three-piece suits, unless you’re feeling fancy.”

“I don’t want to just choose anything,” Alec said, Magnus distracted just a little by the two tattoos of runes on his back that he could see now. The towel hugged his hips and it was very distracting.

“Well, you can,” Magnus said. “These are probably more you.” He pointed to a set of jumpers, Magnus believing he knew Alec’s style already. “And any jeans, really.” He smiled at Alec and disappeared to take a shower.

Once he had cleaned himself, he dressed in the outfit he had picked earlier. He wore these light blue jeans that had rips from the thighs to the shins and this very cute red jumper. Magnus thought he looked a treat, particularly with his hair gelled and just a touch of makeup to highlight his pretty features.

When he came back into the bedroom, after knocking of course, Alec looked gorgeous; he was wearing black jeans and an oversized, striped jumper that made him look adorable.

Sucking in a breath, Magnus stepped in and took the towel that was lying on the bed. He folded it and smiled at Alec, who was playing with the big sleeves and biting his lip something fierce.

“What’s up?” Magnus asked.

“Do I look all right?”

Magnus put the folded towel onto the bed and approached Alec. He wrapped his arms around Alec’s waist and pulled his body close. Alec, with the ease of someone who had been dating Magnus for months or even years, leaned into him, his arms enfolding around his neck in the sweetest fashion. “You look lovely,” he said.

“You’re not just saying that?” Alec asked.

Magnus shook his head. “I just want to eat you up.”

Alec blushed, and Magnus just had to kiss him. He tasted so sweet, and Magnus hummed into his lips. Alec smiled, and it made the kiss taste even sweeter.

They ate their breakfast afterwards and then set off to the record store. Alec wore his own coat from last night and Magnus took another of his fancy coats, which was longer and thicker than yesterdays since there was a frost covering New York. It was brisk outside, this white layer of chill covering the paths that the sun hadn’t kissed yet. The two of them held hands through the streets and on the subway, all the way until they reached the record shop. Magnus knew pain came with fashion and the icy air bit at the revealed skin on his legs from the rips, but he looked great, so he didn’t care.

Magnus had been here often for he did love shopping for records and perusing through the boxes and seeing what he could find. It was relatively hidden amongst newer builds with fancier interiors and exteriors, but Magnus had found it as a child, loving it before the hipsters had found record players. It had changed a little over the years, but Magnus loved it just as much as he did when Charlotte had first taken him here.

Inside, there were twelve rows of records, all in boxes. They were separated by genre, and there was a record player by the till where people could see if they liked it or if it was of a decent standard. It had become a little hipster in design, but Magnus didn’t care. He could spend hours in here, and he often did.

As it was early on a Sunday, it was quite empty, though Magnus rarely saw it busy. He knew most of the people who worked there, and Lily was serving today. She threw a smile at Magnus as Magnus inclined his head as a greeting, holding the door open for Alec to enter.

He watched as Alec took in the store, and then took his hand again because it was nice to hold.

They perused for a couple of hours. It was nice to have company, Magnus hadn’t ever brought anyone else here, he usually shopped alone. The company was a pleasant change to his shopping habits, and Magnus liked picking out both the ridiculous records and the interesting ones to show Alec and see his reactions. It was also nice when Alec would do the same for him, and the couple of hours they spent in there went by quickly.

Occasionally, one of them would find something and take the other over with them to the player, and they would listen for a few moments. They didn’t want to disturb the other customers too much, though people in a music shop were rarely disturbed by music if Magnus thought about it.

The store remained relatively empty, and Magnus only glanced at the window a couple of times. It wasn’t yet busy with Christmas shoppers, and it was a cold, Sunday morning in a hidden part of the City, so it didn’t get busy at all.

Alec picked out a Christmas album and beamed at Magnus. “You have any Christmas ones?” he asked.

“I don’t think I do.” Magnus came over to the box he was looking through. The box was full of Christmas records, some looking new, some looking a little tattered as the years showed through their packaging. Although Magnus had been collecting for years, even when he hadn’t been able to afford a record player, he hadn’t ever gotten a Christmas one. “Do you like Christmas?”

Alec put the Christmas vinyl back and started sifting through the other ones. “I do, actually. We never really celebrated it much when I was younger, but I enjoy it a lot now. What about you?”

“About the same. I never celebrated it in Indonesia and only celebrated it when I was with Charlotte, never with my father. But I enjoy it now. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I actually loved it. I get excited when it comes to Christmas. You’ll probably not even want to step foot into my apartment once I’ve decorated.”

“And yet you don’t have any Christmas records?” Alec asked, tutting and shaking his head.

Magnus pushed him gently and Alec laughed. Magnus sifted through until he found one titled, ‘Winter Wonderland’, and he picked it out. He had a couple of others he was planning on getting, and he added it to the ones he was carrying.

“I will get one now,” Magnus said. “And I will make sure to play it when you come over next.”

“And when will that be?” Alec asked.

Thinking they had looked through almost the entire store, Magnus walked over towards the checkout. The store was open for another couple of hours, but Magnus didn’t think they should spend the whole day in here. They could get a coffee, spend the Sunday afternoon lazing about until they had to part from each other’s company.

“I’m not sure,” Magnus said. He would have liked to continue this string of dates until they came to their natural conclusion, have Alec sleep over whenever he wanted, but it wasn’t going to work next week. “I’m playing at Michael’s, the restaurant, do you know it?”

Alec nodded. “I’ve never been though.”

“It’s stupidly expensive, but I’m playing there all of next week, so our dates will have to resume another time.”

“Good afternoon,” Lily greeted when Magnus put the records on the counter. She smiled her polite smile, eyeing between Magnus and Alec. “You have a friend.”

“I do,” Magnus said. “Alec, this is Lily. Lily, this is Alec.”

“Hi,” Alec greeted.

Lily smiled at him, though it was her curious smile. Magnus would probably pop in here next week and explain exactly who Alec was to him, but that conversation was not going to happen now. Seeming to acknowledge this, Lily merely kept smiling and started to price up Magnus’ records.

Usually, Magnus and Lily might gossip for a while, but they both realised now wasn’t the time. Instead, Lily bagged Magnus’ records, bid him a good day, and the two of them left. Magnus took Alec’s hand with his free one and they walked down the street, looking out for a café where they could stop before Magnus walked Alec home, their weekend almost at its end.

“So, you play in a restaurant?” Alec asked. “Is that your career then?”

Magnus shook his head. “Not usually. But it’s nice money, and I only cover holidays and sick days when Michael needs me. He also has a crush on me, so that helps.”

Alec laughed. “I’m sure it does. So, what is it you do to make money?”

“Galas, events, bookings,” Magnus said. “I did consider teaching, but I don’t know about that. Maybe in a few years, I don’t know yet. What about you?”

“The same,” Alec said. “It’s not a steady living.”

“Certainly not,” Magnus said.

They found a little café on their way and stepped inside. They ordered two coffees and shared a slice of cake as their lunch, talking all the way.

“Do you write your own stuff?” Alec asked. He left most of the cake to Magnus, and Magnus was happy to divulge in it because he did have a killer sweet tooth.

“Not really. I have to be very inspired to write my own music. I’ve sold a couple of things here and there, but I just can’t really write unless I have strong inspiration.”

Alec nodded. “I’ve never written anything myself.”

Magnus could have guessed that. Although a very talented violinist, Magnus got the impression he still needed some confidence in himself and in his ability. “You don’t lead when you play either, do you?”

Alec shook his head. “I’ve always played with Jace.”

“And Jace leads?”

Alec nodded.

“I think you should try,” Magnus said. “You’ve got the ability.”

Alec shrugged. “Maybe.”

It was probably a conversation for another time, but Magnus wanted to get little moments like these in there when possible. Alec’s confidence needed building up over time, and Magnus would try and put it into conversations like these. Alec could very well write his own pieces, Magnus was sure, and he was sure he could lead in duets as well. He just needed to believe in it first.

They left the café and headed back to Alec’s apartment. It was relatively busy, but when wasn’t it? This was New York, and they were both used to the crowds of people, even if there was a bite in the air.

Magnus walked with Alec up the stairs of his apartment and waited, leaning on the wall as Alec fished out his keys and unlocked his door.

“I’ll change out of your things and then you can take them back and wash them,” Alec said. “I’ll come and pick up my own things when I’ve got the chance.”

Magnus nodded. This was fair, and it also meant Magnus would get to go in and see Alec’s apartment. It was something he was curious about, and so he enjoyed being able to walk in after Alec had opened the door, shutting it behind him.

The layout was different to Magnus’ apartment. It was smaller and not open plan, but it was still a nice place to live. It certainly wasn’t the box Magnus had been able to afford after his father had upped and left him when he was seventeen. The door opened onto a little corridor with two doors either side, Magnus presuming them to be the bedrooms. The door at the end of the short corridor, which was shut until Alec opened it, opened onto the living and dining area, which was compact but sweet. There was another door on the wall farthest from the corridor door, Magnus presuming it opened onto the kitchen as the door to the left of them was open onto the bathroom. It was an odd layout, but it was what it was.

The furniture in the living room, where Magnus was left whilst Alec went back down the corridor to change, was a little mismatched. It looked dated, some of the colour having faded, but Magnus could see some style coming through. Magnus sat on the arm of the sofa, observing the pictures hanging on the wall in front of him as he waited.

They were all of family and friends. Magnus saw a lot with Isabelle in them, a few with Clary. There were a couple with the parents, and Magnus saw a few with a younger boy, whom Magnus presumed to be Max.

Looking closer, Magnus could see that, in a few of them, there were empty spaces, the white of the back of the frame showing. It seemed the picture had been cut, and Magnus wondered if these had included Sebastian. Upon closer inspection, Magnus could see the occasional arm or hand that was attached to no body, and it seemed that had to be the case.

Alec emerged shortly afterwards wearing jogging bottoms and a faded pink sweater that had a couple of holes in it. Somehow, he managed to look sweeter every time Magnus saw him.

He had Magnus’ clothes, all folded neatly, and he gave them to Magnus. Magnus managed to fit it all in the bag that held his records.

“Sorry, I changed into slacks,” Alec said.

Magnus stood and shook his head. “It’s your home, you can do as you please.”

Alec smiled his sweet smile and said, “So, I was thinking, what about an opera?”

“An opera?” Magnus repeated, confused.

“For another date,” Alec clarified.

“Of course, that would be lovely.”

Alec smiled, glad, it seemed, that Magnus had accepted his idea.

“You’ll have to give me your number so I can let you know when I’m next free and so we can plan our next date,” Magnus said, and they exchanged numbers.

Alec walked with Magnus to the front door then and they kissed for a long while, Magnus pressing Alec into the wall, his hands running rampant in Magnus’ hair. Then Magnus went home, Alec’s taste on his lips and his heart skipping erratically.

Chapter Text

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
― Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy, Poems of Arthur O'Shaughnessy

The next three months were wonderful. They went on their musical related dates, Magnus particularly enjoying the date where he had cooked for Alec in his apartment and then they had put on a record and made out. That had been exquisite.

Magnus had set up the mood nicely and, although Alec had slept over, his face sweetly sleepy, there hadn’t been any sex. Of course, Magnus was not going to expect sex, not in the early days at least. Given what Alec had been through, Magnus felt honoured and trusted to even be kissing and touching him. He wasn’t going to treat Alec delicately, he wasn’t a piece of china or a fragile doll, but Magnus would always be considerate of his past.

What amazed Magnus the most about their relationship was how natural it felt. Thinking back on it, Magnus considered why each of his relationships, even in their early stages, hadn’t felt natural. Although he had pursued the relationships and loved the people in them, there had come this unnatural feeling, as though it didn’t fit in with the balance in his life.

But Alec fit. Whether Magnus was more invested in this relationship, in Alec or whether Magnus’ life was finally at a point where a relationship could fit, Magnus didn’t know, but he rather loved it. Having Alexander in his life, their relationship growing more and more serious with every date, Magnus was finding a balance that he hadn’t had before.

When they did have sex, Magnus never putting pressure on him, or thinking sex was the most important step in a relationship but simply enjoying it for what it was, Magnus felt it click even further. Being compatible was important for Magnus, who enjoyed sex, and figuring Alec out like that, figuring out that they worked not only romantically but sexually as well, it was more than Magnus could have hoped for. He hadn’t been looking for romance, but romance had found him.

The musical dates had ended, but they still came quickly, desperate to see each other and finding it easier to see each other a few days in succession than to leave it days apart.

Magnus had cooked for Alec, finding it rewarding to cook for him. Then, after making some popcorn, they settled in to watch a movie. The tone hadn’t been any different, it was touched with romance and it was easy-going, and maybe that was why Alec felt so comfortable. Magnus couldn’t know for sure.

If Magnus thought back to it, Alec had been touchier than usual, but Magnus hadn’t thought much about it at the time, he had just lapped it up, touched him back the way he felt he was warranted to. They held hands, touched thighs, kissed cheeks, Alec rested his head on Magnus’ shoulder and Magnus had wrapped an arm around him. It had been nice. It was intimate, touched with a soft ardour for the other.

“Is it all right if I stay over tonight?” Alec asked.

Magnus turned to kiss into Alec’s hair. “You don’t have to ask. You’re always welcome.”

Magnus had thought that was that, and they got ready for bed. Magnus wasn’t expecting sex, he hadn’t even considered it. He never considered it because he knew Alec was still dealing with a lot. Whilst he knew Alec appreciated his patience, he never expected a payment for that and he always knew that, if and when Alec was comfortable, it might happen. It wasn’t something Magnus put on the table to be discussed because he was happy with the pace it was going at, happy with the way Alec was comfortable and carefree around him.

“So, Jace and Clary over tonight?” Magnus asked. This was the primary reason Alec stayed over. Whilst he stayed over because it was easier for them to date continuously or because it had gotten late, the main reason was because Clary was staying over at his apartment and he didn’t like listening to her and Jace.

Alec shuffled until he was lying with his head on Magnus’ shoulder, one hand across Magnus’ stomach where he was wearing pyjamas tonight. Magnus wrapped one arm around him and linked his fingers with Alec’s using the other. It was cosy. Intimate.

“No, not tonight,” Alec answered.

Magnus had thought, at the time, that this meant Alec was staying over for another reason, or maybe no reason at all. He hadn’t thought much about it, just that Alec was staying around for whatever reason he had.

He found out about ten minutes later when Alec started kissing his cheek and neck. Magnus hadn’t been expecting it, but he was content with it as it happened.

He let it pass quietly for a few moments, enjoying Alec’s wet lips and warm breath on his skin. Alec seemed content to press his lips where he could, still lying on Magnus’ body, and Magnus was content to let it pass, enjoying each movement of Alec’s lips.

For a moment, Magnus wasn’t sure if this was just going to be a pleasant declaration of intimacy or if Alec wanted it to go further.

Magnus turned to kiss Alec on the lips. His hand held Alec’s waist, and their bodies aligned, coming just that bit closer.

They stayed like that for a little while, Magnus still unsure if this was just Alec showing affection or if he wanted it to go further. It was pleasant whatever way it was going.

Then Alec’s hand went up Magnus’ shirt, and Magnus felt Alec exploring the planes of muscle usually hidden beneath fabric.

They hadn’t touched like this often. Given the way Alec had reacted when Magnus had slid his hand up his thigh, they had eased into it until Alec was comfortable with it. Other than that, there hadn’t been much else other than a gentle caress of a strip of skin as a shirt moved, but it was never like this. The way Alec touched him now made Magnus think he had wanted to do this for a while.

Magnus gently ran his tongue along Alec’s bottom lip. Alec sucked in a breath and then kissed Magnus back with just that extra bit of force. Magnus lapped it up, Alec’s hands touching so much of his stomach.

Magnus’ own hand was teetering on the hem of Alec’s shirt. It would be so easy to just push it up, to touch the smooth, pale skin that he had dreamt about so often.

When he did it, tracing along the sensitive strip of skin just along his hips, Alec sucked in another breath. Taking a surge of confidence, it seemed, Alec rolled them over until he was lying on top of Magnus. It was easier to touch him like this, able to use both hands to run underneath the fabric of his shirt, touching the planes of his back and letting his fingers explore the lines of his body.

Like this, Magnus could appreciate the weight of Alec on top of him. Alec’s hands had gone to Magnus’ hair, and his whole weight rested on him. He could feel every line of him, from the way his thighs sat between Magnus’ to the way his hips sat on his own as well. He could feel the tones of muscle on his stomach, breathing heavy, his chest situated firmly and beautifully on Magnus’. The gentle pressure of his arms, tucked in with Magnus’ around him, was beautiful, and Magnus held him tight.

Alec sat up completely, and Magnus opened his eyes to watch him. His pupils were blown, and he was panting. Magnus was about to ask Alec if he wanted to stop when he pulled his shirt over his head.

If Magnus had wanted a sign before, he had one now.

Being able to drink in the sight of him, this close, was unfathomable. His pale skin glimmered in the darkness of the room, his starkly dark tattoos making his skin even paler. The lines of his stomach were a beautiful thing, and Magnus reached his hand up to touch him.

Alec shivered underneath Magnus’ gentle touch. He touched Alec’s stomach, tracing across the lovely lines of muscle. Alec watched him through dark, hooded eyes, and it was entirely too alluring.

Alec took Magnus’ hand in his own and brought it up further, letting Magnus touch his chest. Having Alec’s hands guiding his own as he touched Alec’s naked chest was magnificent, and it made Magnus’ body react in arousal.

When he brushed over his nipple, he felt Alec shiver, making his own body react all over again. Magnus got the feeling Alec liked this part of it, the foreplay and build-up. Magnus wanted to take advantage of that, give him what he wanted, pleasure him the way Alec wanted to be pleasured.

Magnus continued to let Alec guide his hand and used the other to come to Alec’s hip. He used his thumb to dip below the waistband of his pyjamas. He was going to take his time, let Alec go at his own pace, and he just thumbed at the skin below his hip gently.

Alec seemed to enjoy it and he slowly started rotating his hips, the feeling of their slowly swelling cocks as they began to rub beneath the fabric was not something Magnus could describe.

Alec leaned down to kiss him, and it was warm and filled with their budding arousal. Magnus still thumbed below Alec’s waistband but used the other to run up Alec’s lithe body, holding his nape and kissing up into his lips.

“Tell me what you like,” Magnus mumbled into Alec.

Alec shifted, smiling as he sat above Magnus. “You don’t have to be delicate with me.”

“But I want to pleasure you, Alexander. That’s all I want.” He ran his hands down Alec’s back, mainly to feel him shiver. “What is it that you like?”

Alec, still smiling, kissed Magnus again and again as he thought.

“I do like this part,” Alec said, still kissing Magnus between speaking. “The foreplay. But I suppose we have done quite a lot of that already.”

Magnus grinned. Using his strength and the advantage of surprise, he turned Alec over so he was lying atop him. Alec, looking pleasantly aroused, smiled up at Magnus.

“I will do foreplay for the entire night if you so wish it,” Magnus said. He sat up and pulled his shirt over his head, letting Alec drink in the sight of his brown skin.

Alec eyed across his stomach and chest, drinking him in. If Alec enjoyed this part, Magnus would happily do it for hours.

“Tell me what you like,” Alec said, a little breathlessly as Magnus leaned down to kiss him again. “I want to pleasure you as well.”

“I like noise,” Magnus said, kissing Alec’s lips and then going to his jaw, kissing it once. “And I do so love giving hickeys.” Magnus came up to look Alec in the eye.

“Hickeys?” Alec asked.

“I love giving hickeys,” Magnus said. “May I give you one? You can say no if they’re not your thing.”

“It’s just…” Alec sighed. “Sebastian used to… well, they weren’t like proper hickeys, but he used to bite my neck, particularly if he wasn’t enjoying himself, and I never liked that.”

“Well, I will give you lovely hickeys, but I will not if you do not want them.”

Alec smiled. “Just don’t bite, please.”

“I won’t, I promise.” Magnus kissed Alec again on the lips before leaving a sloppy trail down his jaw and throat. Ghosting his lips across his throat, breathing hot and heavy, Magnus scouted out a spot that sent Alec just a little wild.

Finding it near the base of his throat, he grinned into him before licking over the spot he intended to bruise. Whether this was practical for a musician or not did not enter Magnus’ mind as he set to kissing it over and over.

Alec made sweet, little noises as Magnus prepared his delicate throat, Magnus feeling the sounds as well as hearing them. He did so love noise, and it sent blood straight down to his already swelling cock.

When Magnus started sucking, using plenty of tongue and little teeth, Alec moaned this beautiful moan. It made Magnus very happy.

Satisfied the sensitive flesh would bruise, Magnus kissed it, beautifully red, and smiled at Alec. He was pretty like this, eyes hazy and lids drooped, lips parted, and his smile was so sweet, Magnus had to kiss him. Their lips would be swollen by the end of the night.

As foreplay counted as a lot of things in Magnus’ mind, he kissed down Alec’s chest next. He spent some time mouthing at his nipples, playing with them and sucking them. It seemed to please Alec, almost writhing underneath Magnus’ touch, one hand on Alec’s hip, squeezing now and again.

He planted hot and heavy kisses down his stomach and ghosted his lips over his hips. Alec also seemed to enjoy this, liking it tender and sweet but also heavy and wet. Magnus was content he could give him what he liked.

“Are you wearing underwear?” Magnus asked.

“Yes,” Alec said through heavy breaths. “Boxer-briefs.”

“Very nice.” Magnus hummed and pushed himself up. “May I take your trousers off? I would take mine off, but I’m not wearing anything underneath.” He grinned.

“Are we not getting naked?”

“Maybe,” Magnus said, slipping his thumbs into the waistband of Alec’s pyjama pants. “But I will very happily make you come without being nude.”

Alec smiled and nodded, and they pulled off Alec’s trousers, Magnus throwing them across the room, forgotten. Alec was already solid, his cock pressing against the fabric of his blue boxer-briefs.

Magnus rubbed him for a moment, and Alec closed his eyes, his hips pressing forward. He was very solid indeed, and he felt good in Magnus’ hand. He probably could make him come like that, but they would see how it went.

“I’m quite, uh, sensitive,” Alec admitted, eyes still closed, Magnus still rubbing his length.

“I might have gathered that,” Magnus said fondly. He stopped rubbing Alec’s length and kissed him again.

He settled himself on top of Alec, his thigh between Alec’s and feeling his cock press against him. He settled a hand against his cock as well and played with him as they kissed, deep and wet and lovely.

As they kissed, they rotated their hips into each other, their cocks rubbing. Magnus pressed his tongue into Alec’s willing mouth, deepening and wetting their kiss further. It was sensational, to hump like this and have Alec’s mouth there, willingly open and move to Magnus’ will, hopefully to his own will as well. From the sweet noises Alec’s throat released, it seemed it was also his will.

Alec’s fingers were deep in Magnus’ hair, keeping his mouth close. Their breathing was hot, and Magnus could feel every flutter of Alec’s eyelashes. It was a beautiful and romantic feeling, and it made Magnus’ blood run hotter, somehow.

They spent a good long while like that, and Magnus could feel himself making his pyjamas pants wet from how much his slit was leaking, the enjoyment from just this alone making his cock happy. Considering this was Alec’s favourite part of any sexual encounter, he thought he would likely be in the same situation.

As he continued kissing him, moving from his mouth to his jaw and then mouthing at his throat, he wondered what he should do next, what else Alec might like to do before Magnus was inside him, if he even ended up inside him tonight. He didn’t suck any other hickeys into his beautiful and pale skin, but he mouthed at it. He left hot and wet marks, delighted by the little noises Alec released.

He pushed himself up and looked down at Alec. He was flushed, and his lips were swollen and parted, chest moving heavily, his pupils enormous. The red spot on his neck was getting redder, and Magnus rather loved that look on him.

He smiled then, this gorgeous, aroused smile that had Magnus’ cock react, not only because he wanted him, but because he could, somehow, be sweet even when aroused. Magnus kissed him just once on the lips because there was no way he couldn’t kiss him when he looked like that. He found himself smiling as well.

“Are you going to…” Alec asked, a little breathless. Magnus waited patiently, though his cock was being a little less patient with him, wanting more so he could have a powerful release. “Are we going to be naked now?”

“Do you want to?”

“I don’t want this to be all about me,” Alec said.

“I do,” Magnus said, and he smiled his charming smile that had Alec laughing through his nose. He went to speak again but Magnus kissed him, long and deep, stealing the breath from his lungs and inhaling the hum Alec released from the depths of his throat. When they broke apart, Magnus asked, “Would you like me to take your clothes off?”

Alec nodded once, swallowing thickly.

Magnus kissed him once again and then slipped his thumbs into the waistband of Alec’s underwear, pushing them down. Alec helped roll them down his legs, and Magnus ended up situated between Alec’s open legs, his solid cock pressing against his hip, leaking steadily.

Wondering if Alec counted sucking cock to be a part of foreplay, Magnus took him in his mouth. Releasing this pretty moan that Magnus would remember forever, Alec closed his eyes and fisted his hands into the sheets.

Satisfied, Magnus kept his lips around only the head of Alec’s cock, sucking and licking him, swallowing down the precum. He lapped him up, wetting the head of his cock, keeping his eyes on Alec as he made pretty noises, his chest convulsing as Magnus pleasured him. He made a note of the things Alec liked, which was the slow parts, and he continued to do them.

He licked a long and slow line up Alec’s long cock, his veins all sensitive and wonderful underneath the flat of Magnus’ tongue. He tasted pretty fucking fantastic, if Magnus was being honest, and he kept licking long and slow lines, Alec near bucking his hips in pleasure.

He took him in his mouth again, just sucking at the head of his beautiful cock for a moment before he took him deep into his mouth, swallowing against him. His head touched the back of his throat, which was a nice feeling for Magnus, but it seemed to pleasure Alec extortionately as he keened this beautiful noise, breathing heavier and harder with each movement of Magnus’ mouth and tongue.

Keeping it slow, he took him in his mouth, drawing back all the way and then taking him deeper, deep into his throat and swallowing him down. Alec cursed under his breath, which was a very arousing sound and it made Magnus buck his hips now and again. He liked knowing he caused this pleasure to run through Alec’s lithe body.

He kissed a sloppy line down his length, lubricating his cock with his saliva. It seemed to please Alec a lot, and Magnus could have stayed there, sucking his cock until Alec came if Alec wanted that.

But it seemed Alec was holding back. The curses got more fervent, more desperate, more guttural. Magnus wondered if he was holding himself back because he wanted Magnus inside him. Magnus kept sucking him for just a little longer and then prepared himself to press inside him. His cock was desperately in need of that, in need of something to build to a release.

He licked along his well-sucked cock one last time before pushing up and then pulling his pyjama pants off. His own cock was covered in precum that had leaked everywhere. Ignoring this for a moment, Magnus threw his pyjama pants away, not caring about them whatsoever, and reached over to his bedside table, Alec watching him keenly.

Pulling out a condom and lubricant, he placed them onto the bed and swept Alec into another kiss, deep and long and wonderful. Alec hummed into him, and his hands moved down Magnus’ body until they found his cock, rubbing him for a moment.

Other than when they had grinded, this was the first bit of pressure Magnus’ cock had received, and it made him buck into Alec’s hands. Alec’s mouth curved into a smile, and his hands moved up and down Magnus’ curved cock, working his wrist. He played with the slit a little, circling the precum around his head and making Magnus nearly whine from the sensations it caused to run through him.

Magnus bit his bottom lip and tugged, gently. This made Alec keen and he looked at Magnus with his big, blue eyes that made Magnus feel a thousand things, one being how sweet he thought Alec was still, and another was great arousal. Greater than it already was.

As Alec had now halted rubbing his beautiful, violinist hands over Magnus’ cock, Magnus took this as the opportunity it was to open the condom and roll it down his cock, Alec’s hungry eyes watching every single movement. He had bitten his bottom lip as he watched, which was another lovely thing to see and Magnus could not believe just how much this one man was arousing him.

He poured the lube over himself and then settled between Alec’s legs again. Alec’s breathing had, somehow, gotten heavier, and Magnus rubbed his thighs reassuringly.

“Is this okay?” Magnus asked.

Alec nodded nearly furiously, bringing his knees up, presenting himself prettily for Magnus. Magnus presumed this meant Alec wanted to be fucked on his back, and Magnus was happy to oblige.

Settling himself closer to Alec’s entrance, Alec hooked his ankles around Magnus’ thighs and then Magnus pushed his well-lubricated cock into Alec’s hole.

He was a little tight, and Magnus wondered if that was nerves, but Magnus would happily work him open with a slow rhythm. Magnus leaned over, needing to be closer to Alec’s body for this position to work, and their bodies pressed together, Alec’s lithe body allowing him to be fucked like this.

It was a lovely and slow rhythm Magnus built with his hips, Alec’s hands on his neck and bringing him down to kiss his swollen lips. He didn’t push all the way in, he let Alec get used to the size of his cock before he pushed another inch inside him.

But Alec didn’t seem to be focused on anything except kissing Magnus and keeping him close. There was such a proximity to their bodies, Magnus felt every moan Alec let escape run through his own body. There was such a heat to them as they moved, and Magnus’ cock was rather in love with it.

Underneath his hands, Alec’s body with this lithe instrument that came to life when pleasured. Magnus found every spot, every piece of Alec that made him react, and he kept at it, working him open, letting his body create music, letting his throat work hard.

It was fucking glorious.

Every touch, every movement of his mouth, Alec came alive beneath him, this euphony that Alec made pleased Magnus to no end. The sweet music Alec released from his lips when Magnus was not covering his mouth with his own made Magnus’ body react, wanting to make more of it, wanting Alec to be hoarse from his sweet moans.

They were creatures of passion, bodies entwined and moving to the same goal of completion. Magnus felt each of his inches as he pushed into Alec, Alec’s hole taking him in, accommodating him and stretching for him. The wet and slick movements pulled Magnus into a state of rapture, consuming him. He kissed Alec until neither of them could breathe, their hot breath rippling over the other as they attempted to gain even a modicum of composure, their bodies sheening with sweat.

The foreplay before had Magnus craving release, but he enjoyed this state that sex put him in. Whilst the rhythm had started slow, working Alec open, easing him into being naked and made love to, it did not last that way for long. Magnus’ hips started to ache in the constant bucking motion, and Alec’s limbs were starting to grow loose around Magnus’ body.

The heat from Alec’s skin was luxurious, Magnus welcoming it. He was panting, hard and heavy as he rocked back and forth into Alec’s freshly stretched opening. Given Magnus was close, Alec had to be as well.

He took Alec’s cock in his hand, shifting his weight and leaning a little heavier onto Alec. Alec didn’t seem to mind, his eyes closing, head thrown back and mouth open as he panted out more moans. He attempted to whisper Magnus’ name, but it came out as broken syllables, his pleasure too intense to form actual words.

It didn’t take long for Alec to come. There had been so much foreplay that even Magnus touching his cock for a few moments had him coming in heavy loads all over his stomach. He coated Magnus’ as well given their proximity.

His kiss afterwards was heavy and intense, but Magnus lapped it up, his body needing its own release.

It took a little longer for him to come having put off touching himself or giving himself pleasure, but he filled the condom, body jerking and shaking with the intensity of having fucked Alec so intensely.

They lay together for a while, trying to calm their breathing, letting their bodies relax. Magnus pressed lazy kisses to Alec’s skin, their chests slowly beginning to calm.

Magnus took it upon himself to clean Alec up, wiping him down with a warm towel. Alec looked about ready to sleep, his limbs looking heavy and his eyelids barely open. He sent this pretty smile towards Magnus, a sleepy, content smile that made Magnus damn near melt.

Then he climbed into bed, readjusting the covers so they were both under them, and curling up together. Neither was bothered by nudity now, and Magnus liked feeling Alec’s bare skin on his own.

Magnus couldn’t help but run his hands up and down Alec’s arm. His body was gorgeous, and Magnus had to take advantage of every opportunity he was given to touch him. As long as Alec permitted it, of course.

“You’re so built, Alec,” Magnus said, unable to not voice his thoughts at a time like this.

Alec smiled his beautiful smile. Magnus adored his smile.

“I love your tattoos,” Magnus said, tracing across the one on his arm and then going along to the others on his chest, not able to touch the one on his stomach because of the way the sheet covered him. “They make you very sexy. Not that you’re not sexy anyway.”

“I’m not sexy,” Alec refuted.

“Oh, contraire,” Magnus said. “Give you a little more confidence and you could rule the world, Alexander.”

“I don’t want the world, I want you,” Alec answered and he said it so causally, Magnus had to take a moment to process it. Once he had, he was sure his gaze was a soppy kind of fond and that his heart was a thousand times the size it was before.

Magnus kissed him, unable to form a coherent thought for a moment after words like those.

“So, am I the only guy you’ve had sex with?” Magnus asked when they had broken apart.

It took a few moments for Alec to understand Magnus’ meaning, but then he smiled and shook his head. “I lost my virginity to a guy called George. He was my first kiss, my first date… my first love.” Alec sighed a contended sigh. “And, not that I don’t really like you because I do, but I think I’d still be with him if it weren’t for Sebastian.”

“Sebastian broke you two up?”

“In a way. He just planted these ideas of doubt so easily and I let them manifest. I know it wasn’t my fault, but I wish I had let George convince me that it was all fine. George and I dated for four years, that’s just how Sebastian was, how much power he had over me.”

“How did you meet him?”

Alec looked at him. “Who?”

“Both.” Magnus didn’t want to pry and he would take absolutely any information Alec felt he was okay to divulge. He wanted to know but he was not going to push Alec into telling him anything.  

“Well, I met them both at high school. George was my biology partner and that was that really.

“I met Sebastian in detention.”

“I cannot imagine you in detention,” Magnus said.

“Oh, I was sent to detention all the time. That’s just what you get when you’re friends with the infamous Jace Wayland. My parents only let it slip because they love Jace.”

“Well, they love you too.”

“Not as much as Jace.” Alec said it as if he had long gotten used to the idea, and Magnus thought that was awful. “But I was in detention because of George this time. I don’t even remember what we were doing, but it annoyed our teacher. We said that neither of us had done anything wrong, but she wanted to send someone to detention, so I went to cover for George because he had hockey practice to get to. That’s where I met Sebastian.”

That seemed about all Alec was willing to offer, and Magnus knew that was enough. Magnus didn’t need any more than Alec could offer. Not ever.

They fell asleep shortly after.

The next morning was delightful. They showered, separately, and made breakfast together and lazed about until Alec had somewhere else to be. Alec was even touchier than before, and Magnus lapped up the attention, content their relationship had taken another step forward. They set up their next date, just a few days away, and Magnus kissed Alec at the door before he left.

Chapter Text

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays

For some reason that Magnus was attributing completely to Alexander, he was feeling particularly inspired to write music. It came rarely, but it had never hit him like it was currently hitting him. The second he would wake up, if he didn’t have to practise for a gig of some sort and if he wasn’t with Alec, he would be at his piano, writing and playing and wondering what else he could write and play. Chairman would look at him idly and then curl back up to sleep. Sleep was important to Chairman Meow.

It was a level of inspiration he hadn’t really gotten before. The piece itself didn’t have a name, and it didn’t have a specific dedication, yet, though it was really Alec’s piece if Magnus thought about it, but it was coming to him.

There had been a couple of times in the night where Magnus had woken up and thought of something perfect to add. If Alec had been in his bed, he would climb out quietly, make a note of it, and then climb back into bed to mull it over when Alec went home, Chairman not even waking most of the time. If he had been alone, Magnus would end up sitting at his piano and playing until the sun rose. Chairman would join him to curl up on the piano or sit at his feet, unperturbed by Magnus’ sudden bout of original music as he was unperturbed by everything except strangers. It was not often he got inspired like this, and he wanted to take advantage of it.

On a Wednesday morning, he was called by a company named Downworld Musicians right in the middle of when he was rehearsing. Of course, as he was a musician and lived off the bookings he received, he had to always answer the phone, even if there was no caller ID. It only irked him when he was in the middle of writing, not that that happened all that often.

He had Downworld Musicians in his contacts because he had played for them before. They played a range of music, from jazz to funk to classic to even pop, and Magnus enjoyed getting calls from them because they paid well.

“Hello?” Magnus greeted. He was tapping his pencil on the sheet music he had on the piano in front of him. It currently had lots of scribbles and scratches and erratic notes that barely fit into the right lines. He would neaten it up when he could, but he was just trying to get it all down right now.

“Hello, this is Magnus Bane, yes?” a woman on the other end asked.

“This is,” Magnus affirmed. “Who is calling?” He was asking mainly for the name because he wanted to know if he had spoken to her before. The fact she was clarifying who she was speaking to made Magnus think he probably hadn’t, but it was always good to check.

“It’s Kaelie, from Downworld Musicians. We are holding a performance evening, celebrating musicians in New York. We were wondering if you might be free in a couple of weeks to play for us.”

“What date?”

“It’ll be the Saturday 12th,” she said. “You’d have one of the later spots in the evening.”

Magnus had to get up and find his diary. He thought he was free, but he always had to check because there was nothing worse than double-booking and having to choose the one either you preferred or the one that would get you more money, and the two didn’t always align.

He was free, and they worked out the pricing and the exact time Magnus would need to be there.

“Is there anything specific you might want me to play?” Magnus asked. It was always best to ask this, just in case there was a specific tone they were trying to provide or an homage to someone. If he came prepared to perform Bach and they were celebrating Mozart, that would be the definition of embarrassing.

“Nothing in particular,” she said. “It is a celebration of musicians in New York, and we are encouraging of original pieces to showcase talent here, but anything is welcome.”

Magnus said he would update her when he had something he was going to play, but he didn’t have any specific ideas at that moment.

That was until he hung up and he thought about what was sitting right in front of him. Although the writing was coming easily to him now, he hadn’t been sure he would ever play it. He had considered showing it to Alec one day, but he rarely played anything he wrote publicly.

He wondered if he could play this publicly. It didn’t even have a name.

He would have to think about it.

A couple of days later, the piece very nearly complete, Magnus was going on his next date with Alexander. They were meeting at Maia’s again, and Magnus was still contemplating if he could play this in front of people. The company had given him five tickets, all in the front row, so he would be asking Alec to come along. If that happened, that meant he would be playing this piece, which was inspired by Alec, for Alec, and that was a lot to consider.

Magnus still felt a need to contemplate it.

“Oh, hey,” Izzy greeted, coming out of her door just after Magnus had locked his own. He wasn’t quite sure how to act then, feeling almost as if he had been caught in the act despite that not being the case at all. He tried his best smile as she locked her door.

“Off as well?” Magnus asked, pretending to be cool and fine. He hadn’t told her about dating Alec even though he supposed it was becoming serious. He had also never asked if Alec had told her, so he wasn’t entirely sure how to behave.

She nodded. “I’m meeting Simon at this café.”

“Very nice,” Magnus said and they both turned to start walking down the stairs.

That was before Izzy stopped and sucked in a breath, and Magnus felt he should stop as well, though he wasn’t sure why. He felt nervous, but he couldn’t understand that either.

“You’re off to see Alec, right?” Izzy asked.

If Magnus really thought about it, it did make sense that Isabelle would know. Alec spoke so fondly and highly of her, it only made sense that Alec would have told her. He didn’t know when, he didn’t know if Alec had told Izzy they were seeing each other after their first date or if he had mentioned they were dating last week. It made sense that he had told her, Magnus couldn’t know how much she knew, but she had to know some of it, and that was fine. It made sense.

Magnus nodded in response to her question.

“Right,” Izzy said, and Magnus had trouble deciphering her tone. “So, I just… I know you’re nothing like Sebastian, and I know that because I’ve known you for a long time and I know that you aren’t, I just know. But, I just need you to love him, you know?” She paused. “I’m not saying it should be love yet, and I’m not staying never say when you’re unhappy or anything, but I just need you to show him love. Unconditional love.

“He’s so used to being shown love when someone wants something from him, or someone being sweet to him after he’s done something well, and I just want him to know it’s not like that, that it shouldn’t be like that.” She took in a deep breath. “I just need you to show him love, Magnus.”

It was quite a lot to take on, but it wasn’t anything Magnus wasn’t aware of to begin with. He was trying to show Alec love as it was now, in little gestures. He would hold his hand all the time, plant kisses on his cheeks and nose and forehead, and he would hug him tight whenever humanly possible. He showed Alec he loved being in his company, because he did love being in his company. They played music together occasionally, and Magnus felt he was helping Alec a little bit at a time.

The fact Izzy was asking this of Magnus told him that what was going on was serious and that Magnus would have to put more effort in. But he was okay with that, he liked showing people he cared for them, and he was having a pleasant time showing Alec he cared for him.

“I’m gonna try,” Magnus said, because that was all anyone could do. He was trying right now, and he was going to continue trying because Alec deserved that.

This seemed to satisfy Isabelle, and her smile returned. They continued down the stairs and parted their separate ways, each to see the guy they were seeing. Magnus felt a touch daunted, knowing for sure that Isabelle knew now. If anything negative happened between them, which Magnus wasn’t planning on because he liked Alec a lot, there was a certain pressure there. There was a certain pressure with every relationship, but Magnus so wanted to treat Alec right, and having his sister believe in him was both wonderful but also intimidating.

But Magnus was going to try and not be bothered by that. He did adore Alec, it was hard not to, and Magnus was prepared to deal with whatever came their way. If he had to show him more love than he was already showing him, than he was entirely prepared for that. It wasn’t exactly like that could be seen as a negative thing, after all.

He met Alec at Maia’s, which had quickly become their favourite café/bar, for it was a café during the day and the atmosphere at night made it more like bar. They occasionally spent an evening or two there and got up to dance, but they mainly went there during the day. As musicians, their nights were often booked, so their schedules aligned more during the day.

As it had snowed a few days before and Alec was waiting outside the café, he was wearing this very warm hat that had a sweet bobble, these thick, red gloves, and a big, black coat that looked very warm. It was a shame they were not in private because Magnus would have quite liked to have snuggled with him. Magnus was sure they would snuggle later. Alec loved a cuddle, and Magnus loved cuddling Alec.

Magnus kissed him on the cheek as they greeted, sure his lips were as cold as Alec’s cheek, and they went inside. It was busy, but it was a popular café, particularly in the winter. They found a table hidden away at the back as it was too cold to sit near the doors.

They got their coffees, Magnus getting them a slice of cake as well as they always shared one, and they sat down to enjoy their date. It had been a few days since they had last seen each other, so they had plenty to talk about. Well, they always had plenty to talk about. That was what happened when souls were connected in the way Magnus believed Alec’s soul connected to his own.

“Oh, I’m playing at an event in a couple of weeks,” Magnus said. “I’ve got some free tickets. I would love it if you came.”

“Of course,” Alec said. “What are you playing?”

“I’m not sure yet.” It was the truth, after all. He still had that decision to make.

Alec nodded. “How many tickets did you get?”

“Five,” Magnus said. “I was thinking of inviting your sister as well.” He had invited three of his friends, Jem, Tessa, and Will who were music enthusiasts. He would have wanted to invite more of his friends because he liked it when they all went out, dressed up, had a nice time, but when he only got a certain amount of tickets, he had to prioritise those who enjoyed music the most. He wasn’t originally going to invite Isabelle, he was going to either invite another of his friends or give it to Alec to decide, which would probably end up as either Jace, Clary, or Isabelle. He was going to let Alec decide because he had not thought his friends knew they were dating, but now he knew that Isabelle knew, she seemed the smart choice.

“I think she’d enjoy it,” Alec said. “She knows we’re seeing each other, by the way.”

“Yeah, I saw her this morning. She mentioned it.”

“Is that okay?”

“Of course,” Magnus assured. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Alec shrugged. This was one of the many, small incidents that passed where it was obvious Alec was not all that confident in his decisions. It was obvious he was getting better, but it was going to take some time. Magnus thought he had something up his sleeve that would help, but it would still take time for Alec to be better, happier as well.

“Alexander, we’ve been dating for over three months. I think it’s perfectly valid to let those around you know,” Magnus said, reaching over the table and squeezing Alec’s hand.

“Do your friends know?”

“I’ve told them I’m seeing someone. Not you specifically, not that they know you anyway.”

Alec nodded. “I wanted to tell her sooner. But I’m glad she knows now.”

“Me, too,” Magnus said. It did make things easier. He didn’t have to worry about slipping up anymore. He had always wanted Alec to be the one to tell Isabelle, and he had been concerned he would let it slip, and now it was fine, Magnus could relax around her.

After they finished their coffee and cake, they went for a walk out in Central Park. It was freezing, so they stuck close together, gloved hand in gloved hand, breath emitting like icy fire from their lips.

They walked for a little while until they could bear the cold no longer, and then they went back for another coffee to warm themselves up in Magnus’ apartment. They probably did drink too much coffee, but Magnus loved the stuff, and he had found Alec did as well. There was always coffee being made somewhere when they were together, it was a level of domesticity Magnus enjoyed having in his life.

They could strip of their layers in the apartment, Magnus always keeping it toasty, and underneath the coat and the sweater, Alec was wearing a thin jumper. It had splats of different colours decorating it, the main colour black, and he looked very sweet. But, when didn’t he?

They sat on the sofa, the television not on and conversation enough as they warmed themselves up and got cosy. Chairman had come to greet them both when they had entered, winding himself around Alec’s legs the way he always did now. Alec had knelt down to greet him before sitting down, Chairman jumping up beside him. Alec and Magnus were sat close together, Alec’s legs tucked up underneath him. Magnus rested his hand on Alec’s thigh, and it was intimate in a way Magnus loved.

“Is it all right if I sleep over tonight?” Alec asked.

“Of course.”

As Alec had slept over quite often, he had his own pyjamas here, as well as a couple of outfits that Magnus washed once he had left. It was quite domestic, really. Magnus rather liked it.

“Clary over again?” Magnus asked.

Alec nodded. “They’re actually planning on moving in with each other soon.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. There’s been a lot of discussion about it. I think we’re going to move out of the apartment we have now, and I think I’m moving in with Izzy, and then Jace and Clary are going to get some place else. Apparently, the apartment is fine for me to live in, but not Clary.” He laughed through his nose. “He rather worships her.”

“So you’ll be living next door?” Magnus asked.

Alec looked at Magnus and nodded slowly, eyebrows knitted together. “Is that all right? It’s not finalised yet.”

“Of course that’s all right,” Magnus said. “It’ll be nice.”

Alec smiled. “We might see each other too much.”

“Are you worried you’ll be sick of me?” Magnus asked, smiling.

“I’m worried you’ll be sick of me,” Alec said.

“I couldn’t be sick of you if I tried,” Magnus said, and he put his finished mug onto the table in front of them and kissed him. Alec still had some coffee left, so it was only a short kiss, but Magnus was keen for it to last longer.

They had sex that night, gentle and loving, the way it always was between them. It was loving and nurturing, and Magnus took plenty of time in the foreplay the way Alec liked. And then he was moving inside him, pleasuring him alongside pleasuring himself. It was always beautiful. Every time was wonderful and special, and he liked giving Alec that kind of pleasure, gently and lovingly.

It was that night, watching Alec as he slept peacefully, that Magnus decided he was going to play that piece. It would mean a lot, it would be very telling and reveal himself to Alec completely, but he wanted to. He had an inkling of what he would call it, but he would take a couple of more days to think it over before he gave it a name.

Magnus was then rehearsing over and over again. He wanted it perfect. If Alec was going to see him perform this, Magnus wanted it without a single imperfection. Sure, he wanted to do well to impress his friends and the audience, but mainly, it was Alec he wanted to impress.

He slaved away at his piano, practising day and night, indulging only in eating, sleeping, and Alec’s company when he could get it. He wanted to do well, he wanted to show off a little, but also give a piece of himself to Alec through this performance, which Magnus felt he would only be able to do if he did it perfectly. It was also going to be very revealing for he was playing an original piece. The inspiration had come to him, but it was nerve-wracking playing something original, and he wanted to perfect it for that reason as well.

Given this balance that was coming to his life with Alexander in it, he wanted to honour that by playing this piece for him. It had clicked into place. Not wanting to be presumptuous but feeling he could be, he thought this might be the thing that lasted, the relationship that kept with him for the rest of his life. Since it fit, since it gave him a better balance than he had ever had before, he thought it would be around forever. He definitely wanted it around at least.

When the day dawned, Magnus was practising for most of it. He had, really, perfected it a few days before, but still, it was never harmful to practise further.

Everyone was going to meet at his apartment and then they were going to grab some dinner before it started. Magnus was very much looking forward to that. It meant he got to introduce Alec to some of his dearest friends and, whilst Alec had seemed a touch nervous at that prospect, he knew they were all going to get on.

As he was performing, he was going to wear tails today. He always felt very fancy when he was dressed up in tails. It was nice to wear his long jacket, his pristine white shirt, and a black bowtie. He always felt suave, fancy, expensive.

He also did his makeup, but very lightly. There was only a slight outline to his eyes, only a slight dusting of a nice bronze with a gentle shimmer on his eyelids, and he dabbed on a little of colour onto his lips, and only a touch of mascara. He wanted to look pretty, as he always did, but he wanted to extenuate his features, not overdo it. He was sure most of the members of the audience would not be pleased by a man wearing too much makeup. Not that Magnus ever wore too much, but he was sure some of them thought even a little was too much, and Magnus wanted his playing to be the focus of his performance, not his makeup.

He wasn’t waiting long before there was a knock on his door. He opened it to see both Isabelle and Alec, all dressed up and smiling. Alec was wearing a nice suit, not as fancy as Magnus’ because he wasn’t playing tonight, but he still looked nice. It was black with a black bowtie, and it was simple, but elegant.

Isabelle, who was similar to Magnus in the goal of aiming to stun wherever possible, was wearing this beautiful, red gown with a flowy fabric that pooled around her feet, almost as if she floated. It was cut to fit her shape with thin straps and a low cowl back. She was wearing a shawl that, whilst lovely, would not keep her warm, but one did have to suffer for beauty. Her earrings were covered in diamonds and hung low, no other jewellery to extenuate the simple elegance of her outfit. She looked stunning.

Magnus kissed Alec on the cheek and then kissed Isabelle on both cheeks as he greeted them, telling them both they looked beautiful, because they did.

“I haven’t seen you in tails before,” Alec said as Magnus shut the door. He turned to see Alec watching him, an appreciation in his eyes that Magnus had seen reside only in the bedroom. It was nice to be looked at like that by the man he adored. Magnus was happy to show off if it got reactions like this from his Alexander. He was happy to show off usually, but to get Alec looking at him like this was a wonderful bonus.

“I suppose you haven’t,” Magnus said, coming into the room. “Do I look okay?” He smiled for he knew looked fantastic. He just liked being complimented by Alexander because the compliments that came from Alec were the most genuine compliments Magnus thought possible.

Alec nodded. “You look lovely.”

Magnus smiled further. He would have liked to have kissed Alec, but this flirting was probably enough in front of his sister.

Before he could kiss him anyway, the buzzer sounded. Magnus crossed the room and answered it.

“Is that my dearest William?” Magnus asked.

“It sure is, dearest,” Will replied.

Magnus smiled and told them to come up.

He waited by the door, leaning on it and waiting for them to come up the stairs.

When he saw the three of them, he beamed. Will, as the dramatic, loveable prat he was, ran up the stairs when he saw Magnus and hugged him tightly. Magnus was happy to hug him back just as tightly.

Will and Jem’s suits matched, and their handkerchiefs were a deep blue that matched Tessa’s gorgeous dress. It suited her curves and came out in tulle from her hips. It fit off her shoulders and was just stunning. They made a very happy triple.

They all came into the apartment, and Magnus shut the door behind them.

“So, this is Will, Jem, and Tessa,” Magnus introduced. “And this is Isabelle, who I believe you’ve already met, Tessa.” Tessa nodded and smiled. “And this is Alec.”

“The infamous Alec,” Will said with his wicked smile.

“Do not say infamous like that, Will,” Magnus pleaded.

Will grinned. They all shook hands, Magnus enjoying his two worlds combining.

“You play violin, yes?” Jem asked of Alec when they had all met.

Alec nodded.

“I play as well.”

“You do? For how long?”

“Since I could hold a bow,” Jem said with his gentle smile. “Perhaps we should sit next to each other at dinner.”

“If Magnus can spare you,” Will said, grinning as per usual.

“I have two sides,” Alec said.

“He’s a keeper,” Will said to Magnus and then winked at Alec.

“Perhaps we should head off now,” Magnus said as Alec beamed, his cheeks pinking.

They left altogether, Alec in step with Jem, which Magnus found very sweet, and Magnus found himself walking with Tessa. He wondered how Isabelle would fare with Will, but as he was quite like Jace, Magnus thought, they seemed to be getting on just fine.

The restaurant wasn’t too far away, so they weren’t walking for long. It was busy, so Magnus was glad they had their reservation. Alec did end up sitting next to Magnus and Jem, opposite Tessa, who was next to Isabelle who was next to Will. Magnus had zero concerns about everyone getting along because they clicked, and Magnus was glad.

They ordered their meals and Magnus liked having everyone here, talking and enjoying each other’s company. There was something so wonderful about Alec and Jem getting along, talking about violins and then family and then China. Whilst Jem got along with everyone, Magnus was especially glad that he got along with Alec and that Alec got along with him.

The conversation flowed as they ate, and they spoke of so many things. Magnus enjoyed hearing Jem and Alec talk, mainly about violin, but it was still lovely. To see Alec like that, thriving and eyes shining, it really made Magnus fall for him harder.

It was rare Magnus got to hang out with his friends like this. They all lived such busy and intricate lives that, getting together like this was a treat. Everyone chatting, talking about life, the things they had missed and needed to update each other on, Magnus loved nights like these. Maybe now he was part of a couple, they might be able to do this more often. That was one of the things he had missed out on when he hadn’t been dating, and now he was in a relationship that he truly wanted to thrive, it was something he wanted to take advantage of for a whole host of reasons.

When they finished, they made their way leisurely to the concert hall, Magnus and Alec holding hands all the way. It was still early, but Magnus was one of the musicians, so he did need to be there early anyway.

When they arrived at the concert hall, the six of them went backstage for a moment. The others would have to sit in their seats soon, but Magnus was glad to have their company. Now he was in the concert hall, the nerves had come on more than he had ever experienced before, and this concerned him.

Alec and Isabelle disappeared to use the restroom, so Magnus was left with his friends, his hands feeling tingly. He did not usually get like this before a performance, but he supposed this one did mean a lot.

Apparently, his nerves were showing because Will said, “I’ve never seen you this nervous before a performance.”

Magnus shrugged. “I’m playing an original piece, so…” There was more to it than that, of course.

“Is that it?” Tessa asked gently. “You’ve played original pieces before.” She paused. “Is it because Alec’s in the audience?”

“Sort of.” Magnus sighed. “It’s, um, it’s, well… dedicated to him.”

“Your piece is?”

“Yes.” Magnus sighed again. “We haven’t said ‘I love you’ yet, and this song is sort of doing that. And, when I originally named it and thought this would be good to play here, I thought it was a really good idea, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Why isn’t it a good idea?” Tessa asked.

“Because writing a song for someone after three months of dating is insane,” Magnus said.

“I don’t think it’s insane,” Jem said.

“That’s because you’re a romantic,” Magnus said.

“Isn’t Alec a romantic?” Jem asked.

“Yes, I think, but…” Magnus trailed off.

“If you originally thought it was a good idea and are only thinking it’s bad when it’s about to come to fruition, then I think it’s just panicking,” Tessa said.

Magnus was sure this was the case, but it didn’t help with the nerves.

Alec and Isabelle walked back into the room which prevented them for talking about it any longer, and Magnus would have really liked to talk about this more. It would have been nice for them to talk through his nerves, but that wasn’t about to happen. Magnus threw on a smile, but it didn’t stop his hands tingling.

“Everyone’s filing in now,” Alec said. “So good luck.” Alec smiled and kissed Magnus once on the lips. “Not that you need it.”

“Thank you,” Magnus said, and he squeezed Alec’s hands. The others all wished him good luck, Tessa, Will, and Jem squeezing his arm as they passed.

All Magnus could do was wait, then.

He had thought it was such a good idea, and it was, really. It was sweet and considerate and thoughtful and meaningful. But it meant showing so much of himself to the world, to Alec. Whilst he did not mind being revealed to Alec, as that was a part of loving someone, it was still an intimidating thought.

Particularly when it came to something so personal like music. This was written by Magnus, for Alec, dedicated to him, inspired by him, and that was going to be revealing in a way Magnus had not been revealed before. It was another level of vulnerability, of being open that Magnus hadn’t thought would come so soon. It had arrived sooner, this love for Alec, than Magnus thought it could, but Magnus thrived off of it, loving this inspiration that Alec was giving him.

But that did not stop the nerves. Whilst he had played original pieces before, they had never been dedicated to another person. On top of that, he had never written a song that was dedicated to someone else and then played it to that person to show his love for them.

Music was so special to Magnus, and it was special to Alec as well. This was, really, as personal as it could get. There wasn’t any other way to make it more personable, to make it more special. This was their craft, this was the way they made a living, the way they had met, something they both loved beyond belief. If there was a way to make it more special, Magnus couldn’t think of it.

Why he had thought this was a wonderful idea, well, that was obvious. Why he was actually about to do it, that was another question completely, and Magnus didn’t have the answer. He could have just played it for Alec in private. Why he had to do it in front of a massive audience at a performance celebrating musicians’ excellence, Magnus could not begin to fathom why he had thought that was the right thing to do.

As the other musicians went out to play, meaning Magnus was closer to his time on the stage, Magnus calmed himself. This would be fine. It was fine. If Alec thought it was too much, Magnus would just apologise, and they could move on.

If Alec liked it, that would be wonderful. The others had seemed to believe it was a good idea. And Magnus had thought it was a good idea when he had first come up with it. And he had thought it was a good idea right up until now, just before he was waiting for it to happen. So it was a good idea. It had to be. Right?

The logic in Magnus’ mind was no longer working, so he couldn’t answer that question. Deep down, it was a great idea. It was full of thought and it was sweet and Magnus knew Alec was going to love it. Alec liked sweet things, he liked romance and gestures and intimacy.

When Magnus was playing the piano for him, Alec sitting on the sofa and leaning over the back to watch him, Alec had this smile on his lips that Magnus had engrained into his mind. His smile had been a part of this piece, a part of the inspiration that caused this thing he was about to do.

This was a lovely thing to do, a great gesture of romance. Magnus was a romantic and he knew, deep in Alec’s core, Alec was a romantic too, it just took a little more to get him to show that side. Perhaps this would help. Perhaps this was just a romantic gesture that Magnus wanted to do because he loved Alec and he wanted Alec to know he loved him, completely.

Finally, Magnus had found a relationship that felt like it was going to last. Magnus couldn’t foresee the end of it like he had before for his other relationships, and he so wanted to honour Alec because of that. This relationship meant a lot to Magnus, and he hoped Alec could see that when he played this piece for him.

When it was Magnus’ turn, he steadied himself with a deep and long breath.

The walk to the piano felt longer than it ever had before. He felt the warmth of the lights on his skin, felt every eye watching him, could hear his own breathing and footsteps echoing through his mind. Alexander was sat in the front row, but he didn’t dare look at him. Not yet, anyway. He knew the exact seat, knew where he would be from his position at the piano, but he would not look at him yet for fear his nerves would falter him.

He flipped his tails over the seat before he sat down, adjusting his feet into the correct position, and he took another steadying breath. He put the sheet music in place and then steadied his hands. He nodded towards the compère who was waiting to announce Magnus and what he would be playing.

He still did not look at Alec, feeling his heartbeat quicken. This would be fine. He could play this. He loved performing and playing piano, and this was just a different way of playing, a different kind of performance.

He could do it.

The compère stepped up to the microphone and said, “This is an original piece by Magnus Bane. It is called, ‘Aku Cinta Kamu’.”

Magnus glanced out once to the crowd as he set his fingers to the keys. He saw his Alexander, and his smile was brighter than the sun.