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Of Scars and Salsa Dancing

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“My wife took the kids and moved in with her mother last week. She said she didn’t want the kids to see me until I was ‘better’. When I asked her what happens if I don’t get better, she just…left. But I’ve been meditating and trying to get my life back on track so that they can come home to me.” Alec stared into the cold cup of black coffee with a distant gaze. He vaguely wondered if Raj was going to be able to stretch this long enough to fill the last fifteen minutes. He really wasn’t keen on having to speak.

Group wasn’t his favorite day of the week, but he knew that he should be paying attention, at least. Simon had called him out on it during his last individual session, so he was trying to make an effort. He’d attended every group session since he started meeting with Simon with Izzy’s insistent urging, but he’d refused to speak since his first meeting. Instead, he just came for the shitty coffee and occasionally swiped a half-stale donut.

“Thank you for sharing, Raj. I’m glad that this has motivated you to start down the correct path. I think having something tangible to focus on is going to keep you on the right track. Everyone, let’s thank Raj.” Simon said, smiling openly at the group. There was a chorus of “thank you, Raj” from the circle and Alec could feel Simon’s dark gaze burning into the side of his head. “We’ve got a few minutes left. Is there anyone else that would like to share?”

A heavy silence answered him.

“What about you, Alec? How had the adjustment with the new prosthetic been going?” Simon gestured to Alec’s right leg and he felt a hot ball of guilt settling into his gut as it always did these days. Despite there being dark pants covering the titanium and carbon fiber, he felt as though the entire room could see where the prosthetic leg was connected halfway up his thigh.

“I, uh,” Alec cleared his throat and pointedly ignored the flush he could feel creeping up his neck. “It’s been hard. PT isn’t making the progress that they expected, so we’ve been looking for alternatives.” He stared at Simon intensely to convey that he was done talking.

“Thank you for sharing, Alec. There are several folks here that have had similar issues, so I’m sure they may have some options to help you if you’re interested.” Alec grunted neutrally. “Alright, well, it looks like we’re out of time. I appreciate everyone who was willing to share tonight, and I look forward to seeing everyone next week.”

The others filed out of the room, quietly speaking amongst themselves, until it was just Simon and Alec who was still seated on the rickety chair in the middle of the room.

“That was progress.” Simon was the first to break the silence, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees so he could watch Alec. Alec’s thumb pressed on the Styrofoam cup until the wall looked like it was going to buckle.

“Yeah, well. Didn’t have much choice with you putting me on the spot like that, did I?” He grumbled, lifting his deep blue gaze to meet the other man’s.

“You always have a choice, Alec.” Simon’s voice was soft and even. “Isabelle is worried about you. She says you’re not sleeping again and that you’ve stopped taking the pain meds that the PT gave you.”

“They make me hazy. I don’t like feeling hazy.” Alec absently scratched at the dark ink that curved over his arms, his thumb lingering on the wings of the Trident on the curve of his bicep. Being on the Teams had been everything to him, the only job that he’d ever wanted, but it had all been ripped away from him in an instant.

Which was why he was sitting in front of his sister’s dorky-looking boyfriend, trying his damnedest to look at any other spot in the room.

“And the sleeping?”

“I just can’t. The, uh, the nightmares started again. But that sleeping pill that the doc gave me gives me the jitters so bad I can’t think straight.” Alec stood and started folding the wooden chairs to give himself something to do.

“I think I have an idea of an alternative for both your leg and your mind.” Simon stood, grabbing a few chairs himself and following Alec to slide them onto the hangers protruding from the wall. Alec made a serious effort, but he couldn’t hide the limp on his right side. There were still parts of his leg that hadn’t healed yet and he was beginning to think that he would never get used to the feeling of carbon fiber and rubber against his skin.

“Oh, yeah? Dazzle me.” He grumbled, raising an eye brow as he looked at Simon skeptically.

“Dancing.”

There was a long stretch of silence.

“I’m waiting for the part where you tell me you’re kidding and tell me what the real idea is.”

“Hear me out, Alec.” Simon put both hands on his hips in the stance that always reminded Alec of an overzealous soccer dad. “There’s a dance instructor that I’ve worked with very closely for quite a while and he strictly works with recovering veterans to help with physical rehab and reintegration. Just…can you give it a try? Please? It would mean a lot to your sister.”

Alec sighed heavily and scrubbed a hand through his hair. It was a low blow for Simon to leverage Izzy as much as he was, but it was going to work and they both knew it.

“Who is it?”

“His name is Magnus Bane. He’s a great guy, I think that you two are going to really hit it off and that it’s going to be good for you. You won’t regret this.” Simon was already pulling a card from his jeans pocket and extending it to Alec, who took is a bit harshly and shoved it into the back pocket of his jeans.

“I’ll try it.” His hand shot up when Simon went to speak, and he held his index finger up in front of the other man. “One class. One. If I hate it, I don’t have to go back.”

“You hate everything.” Simon pointed out helpfully.

“Then you’d better hope that this Bane guy is as impressive as you say he is, huh?”

********************************

“You’ve got to stop talking to your boyfriend about me. It’s crossing a weird line.” Alec says in lieu of a greeting when he walks into Izzy’s apartment. She was perched on top of a barstool that Alec was almost positive was more for decorative value than actual comfort.

“Well, hello to you, too, Alec.” She set down the spoon in her hand and turned to face him. “I have to talk to Simon about you because you don’t talk to me about what’s going on. One of us has to care about what happens to you.”

“Et tu, Izzy?” Alec spread his arms out to the sides briefly before going to the fridge to look through its contents. “I’m just saying. You can just tell me shit. It doesn’t have to go through my shrink.”

“Simon isn’t just your ‘shrink’, Alec. He cares about you, just like I do. Just like Mom does.” Alec sighed quietly, snagging a seltzer water and closing the fridge. “Speaking of, have you called her lately? She’s been driving me crazy asking about you.”

“She knows where I live, and she has my phone number too.” He grumbled, leaning against the counter, being sure to put his weight on his left leg. He really needed to rub at his right leg, but he wasn’t going to do it with Izzy staring at him the way that she was.

“You know she’s having a hard time adjusting…”

“I’m having a hard time adjusting!” Alec snapped, immediately regretting the harsh tone when he saw the look on Izzy’s face. “Sorry. I’m sorry. Just…I don’t want to call her. Tell her I’m fine.”

Izzy hopped off the stool and came to stand in front of him, her hands framing his face affectionately. Alec gave her a weak smile in response.

“We love you, Alec. It’s okay to be angry about it. You’ve handled this so much better than anyone else could have, and I’m so proud of you. I only talk to Simon because I worry about you.”

“I love you, too, Iz. But, please. If you have stuff you’re worried about, just tell me. It’s weird to hear it coming from Simon. I already have to listen to him give me a hard time about group.” Izzy gave a soft laugh, her hands dropping from Alec’s scruffy cheeks.

“You’re still not sharing and caring in your group, hmm?” Alec groaned and rolled his eyes, limping to sit on one of the stools.

“He called me out today and I didn’t have a choice.” Izzy snorted in response. “He wants me to go to some dance therapy. He says it’ll help where PT isn’t and it’ll help with the, uh, the nightmares.”

“He’s probably right, you know. As much of an idiot as you think he is sometimes, he’s pretty good at his job.” Alec nodded, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Don’t make me admit that out loud. Just get me the information from him so I can call this weird dancer guy.”

“So, you’ll try it?” Her voice was so hopeful and laced with pride that Alec couldn’t have said no even if he wanted to. Since he’d returned home in a wheelchair with a fourth of his limbs very obviously missing from his person, Izzy had been right by his side.

She’d held his hand through the first months of agonizing pain, watched as he struggled with getting the prosthetic to fit correctly and been by his bedside when he’d gotten a minor infection that he’d stubbornly ignored to the point of it almost becoming septic. Izzy had truly been his rock through his recovery, and there was no way that he was ever going to be able to pay her back.

“I’ll try it.”

********************************

When Alec finally made his way back into his apartment, it was far later than he’d been planning. Izzy had convinced him to stay at the apartment and order a pizza from the best pizza place that they had found over years of research as teenagers.
They’d plowed their way through a pineapple and olive pizza like they had a hundred times before and binge watched some trash medical drama that Izzy was really into at the moment.

Alec had then poured himself into a cab, exhausted beyond belief, and mumbled out his address to the driver. When he opened the door to his apartment, he finally exhaled and dropped his keys on the stand beside the door.

Alec’s apartment wasn’t much to look at, but it was home and had been since he’d returned from the shit. It was sparsely decorated save for the drab gray couch and green carpet under it. There were stains on the carpet that had been there since he’d moved in after getting out of the initial rehab clinic.

The stains were born of too many nights pushing himself with everything from carrying plates when he should have been using his cane still to trying to walk on his prosthetic too much too soon and his face had met the carpet. He’d been too angry about the lack of progress to bother to clean up the blood.

He barely made it to his bed and tugged his prosthetic off, setting it beside the bed and his cane, before his eyes were sliding closed and sleep overcame him.

There was only a few hours before he was jolting awake, his heaving chest coated in sweat and his eyes wild.

“Jace…” The name fell from his lips before he could stop it and it caught in his throat like it had barbs. Images flew through his mind at a mile a minute and the coppery taste of blood on the back of his tongue had him retching fruitlessly.

The nightmares were always the same. Sand, the ringing of his ears after the IED had gone off, and the smell of blood in the air. His eyes were unfocused when he woke and were bouncing around the room until they landed on the photograph on his dresser.

He remembered the day that the photograph was taken vividly. It was the first down time that he and Jace had gotten when they’d been stationed at Pearl Harbor and they’d hiked Diamond Head together. Because they were more competitive than anyone Alec had ever seen, the hike had turned into a race to the top of the trail (he’d won of course).

Jace had panted out “we should take a picture”, pulled his phone from his pocket and extended his arm to snap the photo. Since Alec had returned, the photo had not moved from the spot on his dresser so that he was able to see Jace every day.

Alec stared at the photo until he was finally able to exhale a full breath and let himself drop back to his pillow. His hand dropped to rub at the throbbing muscle in his right leg, letting the soothing motion draw him back under to sleep.

********************************

He glanced at the small, inconspicuous sign in front of him that read “Bane Therapeutic Dance” and shook out his arms that felt like lead. Simon had given him Magnus’ contact information and he’d spoken to the other man’s assistant briefly the day before to set up the class. He’d sprung for private lessons because he’d be damned if he was going to sit in a class full of other vets trying to keep a rhythm.

Alec took one last breath and stepped forward to shoulder the door open. It would have been a fine entrance had his prosthetic not caught on the edge of the door frame, making him nearly trip. Thankfully, he caught himself on the door and stayed upright, but the redhead behind the counter was already moving quickly from behind it and her small hands had landed on his arm to steady him.

“You okay?” Her voice was soft and gentle, but that just grated on Alec’s wounded pride more.

“I’m fine. Just…missed a step.” He gritted out and brushed imaginary dirt from his jacket.

“You must be Alec. I think we spoke on the phone yesterday, I’m Clary.” Her hand fell from Alec’s arm and extended toward him so he could shake it.

“Uh, yeah, that’s me.” He mentally chastised himself for the lame response, but she didn’t seem to notice. She just walked back behind the desk and gestured toward a clipboard on the desk.

“I’ll just need you to fill out this form while I go let Magnus know that you’re here.” Alec grabbed the pen and started filling out the standard information for a medical release form. He jotted down Izzy’s contact information under “emergency contact” and he was just scrawling his name at the bottom of the paper when a man strode out from a door behind the desk with Clary on his heels.

“Mister Lightwood, it’s good to meet you. I’m Magnus, I’ll be your dance instructor.” Alec was a bit stricken by the man in front of him. His gaze first fell on the deep plum colored linen shirt and the bare expanse of chest that it revealed with several shimmering silver necklaces resting against the skin. He next took in the soft looking black pants that were obviously built for him to move in. The man’s dark eyes were rimmed with glitter and kohl and his hair was artfully tousled atop his head. He was stunning, but Alec pointedly shoved that down as far as possible and extended his hand to grasp Magnus’ in a firm shake.

“Alexander. Er, Alec. Alec is fine.” He was acutely aware of his well-worn sneakers, running shorts, and his BUD/S t-shirt. He hadn’t expected to feel so underdressed.

“Alexander seems more…fitting.” Magnus gave him a slow grin and started walking toward the door with a beaded-curtain door that he assumed was the actual studio. Alec hobbled behind him as quickly as possible.

The studio had hardwood floors and a massive floor-to-ceiling mirror on one wall. Alec swallowed audibly when Magnus approached the sound system.

“I, uh, I haven’t danced before.” The confession was past his lips before he could actively stop it.

“That’s quite all right, Alexander. I work with many people that don’t have a background in dancing. Just follow me, alright? You’ll have to trust me.” Magnus stepped closer than Alec had expected, and the man’s slim hands landed on his shoulder and hip. “Just move with me.” Alec took a deep breath and began to step in time with Magnus.

Alec wouldn’t consider himself a man that was easily embarrassed. (despite Izzy telling him otherwise). However, when his good foot came down on top of Magnus’, he felt his face flush with heated blood as he mumbled “sorry”.

The music soon helped him move, while still stiffly, along with Magnus’ gentle corrections and he found himself not even realizing that the hour had passed before he could even register it.

“Are you sure you haven’t danced before? You pick up the movements easily, I’m quite impressed.” Magnus smiled, barely having broken a sweat while Alec had beads dropping down onto his shirt and dampening his hair.

“I haven’t…I’m sorry that I stepped on your feet so many times.” He panted out. Magnus chuckled and grabbed a Dixie cup to fill with water that he handed to Alec. He swallowed it down gratefully.

“I’ve had more than my fair share of gentleman stepping on my toes, Alexander. You’ll have to do better than that if you want me to be truly offended.” Alec found himself laughing against his better judgement. It had been so long since he’d truly laughed that it almost hurt his face. Which was an alarming realization. “So, what’s the verdict? Think you’ll stick around for a few more classes?”

“I think I will. I liked it more than I thought I was going to.”

“Well, that’s high praise coming from you, I can tell that already.” Magnus’ grin widened even more, and he rubbed his hands together in what may have been a nervous gesture.

“So, uh, when do you want me?” Magnus’ brow raised toward his hairline and he fought back a chuckle. Alec stammered a few times when he realized the potential of what he’d said. “To come back, I mean. When should I come back?”

“If this time works for you then I can schedule you for the same time every week. If that’s something that you’re comfortable with?” Alec nodded mutely. “Perfect. I’ll have Clary put you on the books. And, if you’re interested, I have Saturday mornings free. Just in case you want to get some more practice in, I mean. It’s completely optional.” “Put me down for Saturdays.” He gestured weakly at his leg. “I don’t work at the moment, so…I have time.”

“In that case, I will see you Saturday morning bright and early.” Alec raised his hand in a weak wave and backed out the door, thankfully not stumbling when he watched Magnus leaning against the counter.

The radiant smile that he received through the window of the dance studio followed him all the way back to his apartment.

Chapter Text

“So, I heard through the grape vine that you’re not a terrible dancer.” Izzy smirked over her cup of coffee at Alec, the steam making her seem slightly blurred. He scowled at her and extended his middle finger at an exaggeratedly slow pace.

“Stop. Talking. About me. I don’t want to be part of your weird pillow talk with the vampire.”

“I’ll stop when you stop calling Simon the vampire just because he prefers being inside to trying to hike the Appalachian trail on a Tuesday afternoon for fun.”

“The guy needs to get some vitamin D, Iz.” Alec huffed, limping a bit as he went to get his own cup of coffee from Izzy’s coffee maker.

“He’s not the only one.”

“You’ve got an unhealthy interest in my sex life, you know.” Alec mumbled, used to his sister’s intrusion as it had been present in his life since Izzy had been born.

“One of us has to have an interest in your sex life.”

Which…fair point. Alec hadn’t exactly been in a position to be out when he’d been on the Teams, and since returning home he’d just been focused on recovery. Dating wasn’t exactly right at the top of his priority list. There had been a couple guys, but they hadn’t exactly been serious.

“Speaking of. I hear that Magnus is a handsome guy.” He had to actively stop himself from rolling his eyes when he looked at Izzy again.

“I’m going to go ahead and stop you right there. I appreciate the interest, really. But I don’t have time to date and I’m definitely not going to try to date my physical therapist. That’s a road I’m not quite ready to wander down.”

“Alright, alright. You should start trying to meet people though, Alec. People are going to start talking if the only people you hang out with are your sister and her boyfriend.”

“I dated Raj for a little while.”

“Raj was an asshole that didn’t deserve the time of day from you.”

She was right again, but he didn’t want to tell her that. Older brother tendencies died hard. He drained the rest of the coffee in his mug and raked a hand through his hair.

“I’ve gotta get going, Iz. Breakfast Sunday?” Sunday breakfasts had been a standing plan with him and Izzy since he’d been discharged, and they were easily his favorite part of the week.

“Of course.” She stood and wrapped her arms around Alec’s shoulders before he could protest (not that he would have), hugging him close. “I’m proud of you, you know. You’ve come a long way since you got home. But, it’s okay to take some time for fun, too, Alec.”

“I know. I will. Someday.” Alec planted a kiss to Izzy’s temple before heading out of her apartment and punching the elevator button repeatedly until the doors opened for him.

The smell of sandalwood hit him before he realized who was standing in front of him.

Magnus was tapping at his phone distractedly, but Alec was more focused on the vast difference in his attire from the last time that he’d seen him. Instead of soft pants and a linen shirt, Magnus was clad in tight leather pants, a burgundy t-shirt with a dramatic scoop neckline and a black silk vest over it. He had the same layered necklaces resting against his chest, but his nail-polished fingers were covered in different glittering rings. His dark hair was styled in perfect spikes and there was glitter across his high cheekbones.

Alec honestly couldn’t help the squeak that escaped his throat even if he’d tried.

Magnus’ eyes landed on him with a bright smile creasing his handsome face that shouldn’t have made his stomach flip the way it did.

“Alexander. This is a pleasant surprise.”

“I, uh…what are you doing here?” He mentally cursed himself. Lame.

“Well…currently I’m on my way downstairs to go get coffee because my Keurig decided to take a mental health day, but to actually answer your question, I live here. Twelfth floor.”

“The…penthouse?”

“Mhm.” The smile turned into something closer to a smirk as Magnus surveyed Alec. “I suppose the real question is what are you doing here?”

“Sister, uh,” Alec shook his head and hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “My sister lives here.” Magnus snapped his fingers with a soft “ah”.

“I should have made that connection much earlier, the lovely Miss lightwood in 9A.” Alec nodded briefly and was about to respond when the elevator doors dinged loudly, interrupting his train of thought. “I believe that is the elevator giving us a hard time about making it wait. Are you going down?”

He pointedly forced his mind to not trail down the track that it was inclined toward with the question and instead he nodded, stepping into the elevator. Without thinking he pressed his back against the wall of the elevator, trying to keep himself out of Magnus’ personal space.

The jolt of the elevator starting its descent made Alec’s stomach twitch as it always did, and he reached out to grasp the handle beside him instinctively. Magnus was quiet as the first floor beeped its passing, so Alec took the opportunity to look down at himself and the unfortunate state of dress that he was in.

His BUD/s t-shirt was worn with age and several rounds through the washing machine. The navy blue was faded to an almost gray and the gold print of the trident over his heart was cracking. His jeans were worn thread bare in a few spots over his thighs and knees. He didn’t need to see his hair to know that it was a wreck.

“So…” He started, taking a moment to clear his throat when his voice was rough. “Got a class today?” Magnus’ barked out laugh settled something warm in his chest.

“No, I’ve somehow found myself with a completely empty schedule for the first time in ages, so I’m going to get this coffee and…” Magnus leaned back against the elevator wall and crossed his arms over his chest, his phone tucked under one of them, and furrowed his brow. “Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself. It’s been so long that I don’t know what to do anymore if I’m not working. You’re a native New Yorker, any suggestions?”

“Well…” Alec scratched absently at the back of his neck. “There’s always Coney Island. You could go to the aquarium. Or if you hit Prospect Park you can go to the zoo. If animals aren’t your thing there’s the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. There’s a bunch of stuff.” He pulled a shrug with one shoulder.

“Animals are definitely my thing. I love them. I think the aquarium is going to win out, though, because I have yet to find my way to Coney Island.” He held up a hand to silence Alec’s sound of shock. “I know, I know. I should’ve gone when I first moved here, sue me.”

“I didn’t say it, you did.” Alec chuckled easily, his eyes flicking up to the numbers on the elevator wall and watching them tick down much too quickly. Usually he complained about how slow Izzy’s elevator went, but now he just wanted to keep talking to Magnus.

“What are your plans for today, Alexander?” Alec’s eyebrows shot up toward his hairline in surprise.

“I, uh…I’ve got nothing going on.”

“Would you like to come to Coney Island with me? If you’d like, of course. I’d love to have a genuine New Yorker experience for my first time.” Magnus grinned and Alec knew he was blushing again, damn his pale skin.

He took a moment to consider Izzy’s advice up in her apartment before he made his decision.

“You know what? I’d love to.”

**********

The sound of seagulls crying out and fighting over a spilled box of fries rang in his ears as Alec walked alongside Magnus on the boardwalk. There were children running between games with prizes clutched in their hands as they chased each other with weary-looking parents following behind them.

“This was definitely a good idea. Kudos to you, Alexander.” Magnus mused, his eyes darting around to all of the flashing lights and loud sounds coming from the midway.

They’d spent nearly two hours wandering through the aquarium with Magnus gasping and rambling on about all of the species of marine animals. Alec had laughed along with him and trailed Magnus along the tanks, barely noticing the steady throb that had started in his leg.

He hadn’t planned for as much walking around as they’d done already, usually he’d have taken some of his pain meds in preparation for the pressure on his leg. Now that they were outside in the warm air and wandering along the game stalls, he found himself fighting the urge to rub just above his prosthetic. Even with his acute awareness of the limp getting worse, Magnus must have noticed because his hand landed solidly on Alec’s shoulder blade and he started steering them toward the food court.

“We should get some lunch. I’m not as young as I used to be, and all this walking has got me exhausted. What’re you feeling? Pizza? Burgers? Seafood?”

“You can never go wrong with a good burger. Red meat never steered anyone wrong.” Magnus snorted and stopped in front of a stand with a sign proclaiming “Fly Wheel Eats”.

“I think there is a large population of people suffering from gout that would disagree with that sentiment.” Before Alec had a chance, Magnus had ordered them both burgers and fries. “Why don’t you go find us a table, I’ll bring everything over when it comes up. Ketchup for your fries?

“Yeah…ketchup is good.” Alec bobbed his head in a mildly shocked nod before turning on his good heel and heading toward the picnic table style metal tables.

He silently thanked whoever was listening that Magnus wasn’t around when he sat down because the groan of relief that fell from his lips was almost embarrassing. Pain was radiating into the space where his prosthetic was. He knew, logically, that it was another phantom pain but it felt so real that it made his stomach clench a bit.

He had finally gotten comfortable on the bench when Magnus plopped himself down onto the bench on the other side of the table. He set a basket with golden fries and a burger in front of Alec and his stomach growled loudly on instinct. He hadn’t quite realized how hungry he was.

“I concur.” Magnus chuckled at the growl and lifted one of his own fries to pop it into his mouth experimentally. His hum of approval was all it took for Alec to mirror the move. The fries were delicious. Grease and salt burst across his tongue and his eyes rolled back before he could stop them, a please hum rumbling through his chest.

“Good, aren’t they?”

“Mhm.” He nodded, grabbing a fistful and shoving them into his mouth. He was halfway through chewing when he caught Magnus’ amused gaze and he realized his cheeks were puffed out with food. He swallowed quickly and gave him a sheepish smile. “Sorry. I’m hungrier than I thought, I guess.”

“I spend a majority of my time around ex-military personnel, Alexander. This is probably the most dignified method of eating I’ve seen in a while.” Alec felt the side of his mouth quirking up without his consent in a lopsided smile.

“How’d you get into working with broken down, old military guys anyway?” The question was past his lips before he could stop it. But, if he was being honest, he wouldn’t have wanted to stop it anyway.

“Well,” Magnus set the fry that was halfway to his mouth back down and leaned forward on his elbows on the table. Alec hurriedly brushed the salt from his hands onto his jeans and mirrored the pose. “I wouldn’t call them broken down, first of all. A little damaged, maybe. Not broken down, though. We’re all a little damaged, and I’m no exception. I got tired of having to deal with dancers that were coming in and being way too hard on themselves and taking it way too seriously. With the veterans I work with they’re coming to me to help them heal. I can help to get them back on their feet. It’s rewarding.”

“That’s actually really sweet.” Alec said after a moment, his eyes soft.

“What about you? How was it that the Teams are where you ended up? That’s not exactly a common career path.” Alec was going to question how Magnus knew he was a SEAL until he caught the other man’s gaze on the trident on his shirt as well as the one of his arm. Right.

“I’ve always wanted to join the military. Ever since I was a little kid, I thought that it was where I was supposed to be. I don’t know, it just…felt right. So, I went in to talk to a recruiter before I turned eighteen, he gave me a pamphlet on Naval Special Forces, and I was hooked.”

“It’s a difficult program to get into, you must have worked very hard.” Alec nodded again as he watched Magnus continuing to eat his lunch.

“Yeah. Yeah, I did. Spent more time in the gym and the pool my senior year of high school than I did anywhere else, got to the point where I could ace the physical tests and I shipped out three days after graduation. When I lost…when the accident happened, I hadn’t been home in six years.” The familiar heavy feeling in his chest when he talked about his time away settled in, but it wasn’t as oppressive as he usually found it. It was…different, somehow, talking about this with Magnus.

“Six years is a long time.”

“Yeah. I, uh, I didn’t leave on the best of terms. Mom and Dad weren’t keen on me going into the Navy instead of going to school. I turned 18 halfway through senior year and enlisted without telling them. I didn’t tell them when I was shipping out. Izzy was the only one that knew. And Jace.”

“Jace?” Magnus’ prompt was gentle.

“My best friend. My brother. My parents adopted him when we were kids. He was a little bit younger than me. We did everything together. He ended up joining up the year after I did. We were on the same team.”

Just talking about Jace was enough to send a rush of memories back through his mind and the ache got deeper in his chest. His hand dropped to rub at his leg, his thumb digging just under the end of his prosthetic, and his spine shuddered at the half numb sensation.

“Your leg is bothering you.” It wasn’t a question like most people made it. It was a statement, and there was no sense of judgement or disappointment like he’d gotten from Raj. “We should head back, anyway. My cat is going to give me a talking to if I’m out too long.”

“Your cat…is going to give you a hard time?” Alec raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“Oh, yes. The Chairman is very particular about my comings and goings. It’s his apartment, I’m but a humble roommate. Perhaps you’ll get to meet him one of these days when you’re visiting Isabelle.”

“That would mean that I know that you’re home when I’m visiting Izzy. Wouldn’t want the neighborhood watching seeing me lurking outside the penthouse like a weirdo and calling the cops on me.” Alec silently thanked years of watching Jace flirt for his ability to pull off the line without crumbling into a blushing mess.

“That is a very good point. Perhaps I’ll have to give you my number so that you can check to be sure that I’m home. Do you think that would work?” Alec watched Magnus fighting back a grin as he held his hand out for the cellphone that Alec dropped into his palm.

Magnus typed his number quickly and handed the phone back over.

“I guess that takes care of that.” They both stood and headed toward the exit of the park to start their respective treks home. Magnus’ arm brushed against Alec’s and it felt like electricity was shooting through his bones. When he spoke again, Magnus’ voice was soft and just barely audibly over the sounds of the boardwalk.

“That it does, Alexander. Thank you for coming to lunch with me today. And for showing me Coney Island.”

“Anytime.” Alec was surprised to find that he truly meant that.

**********

Alec could smell the cinnamon gum on Jace’s breath and the stale scent of cigarette smoke hanging around him as warm hands landed on his face.

“Alec! Alec, hey, buddy.” Jace’s voice was shaking and Alec vaguely wondered why that was.

“Jace,” His own voice was weak. That had caught him off guard and made him blink a few times in confusion. There were tears on his face that he didn’t remember escaping his eyes. “W-what happened, man? Is everybody okay?”

“Everyone is great, Alec. You did good, you did so good.” Alec nodded with a lazy smile, one of his hands coming up to cover Jace’s on his cheek.

“Good. That’s good.” His stomach roiled a little at the overwhelming, copper smell of blood. “Somebody get hit? I can smell blood, man. Stinks.”

“Yeah, uh, yeah. Someone got hit, but you don’t gotta worry about that, okay?” Jace sniffled loudly, and it was only then that Alec noted the tears in his eyes. He moved his hand from covering Jace’s to wipe the tears on his brother’s face. Something cold settled into his chest when he saw the blood streaking after his own fingers. “Doc! Someone get Doc over here right fucking now!” Jace’s voice cracked, but Alec wasn’t even really listening to him as he tried to sit up.

“Jace,” He rasped out, his hand dropping behind him to push himself up. “Is it me? Am I the one that got hit?” He used his free hand to slap Jace’s hand away from the center of his chest. “Get the fuck off me! Am I the one that got hit?!”

“C’mon, man, lay down. Doc’s coming, he’s coming I swear. Don’t look at it, Alec.” Alec’s breath was coming in ragged, violent gasps when his unfocused gaze landed on the bottom half of his right leg. Or, more accurately, where it should have been.

Instead of his leg, however, there was…nothing. Well, not quite nothing. Alec found more blood than he’d seen outside of his own body before and the gruesome stump just above where his knee should have been had him dry heaving.

“Oh fuck.” He gasped out, his shaking fingers going to clutch at his uniform pants. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. Jace! Jace where the fuck is my leg, man?! What happened to it?!” He sat himself upright enough for his free hand to clutch the front of Jace’s flak vest.

“There was an IED, Alec. You saw it before I did, and you pushed me out of the way. We got too close.” Alec’s gaze swung to look Jace over frantically, looking for any sign that the blood splattering his uniform was his own.

“Are you okay? Did it hit you? Where are you hit?”

“I’m okay. It didn’t get me, man, you pushed me out of the way. I’m okay, I promise.” Jace assured him. It was then that the corpsman dropped to his knees beside Alec, his med kit thrown open.

“LT. This is gonna hurt like a bitch, but I need you to stay with me, okay? Can you do that?” Underhill, the team’s corpsman, smacked a hand to Alec’s cheek to make him focus. Alec blinked dazedly a few times before nodding, his hand dropping to clutch Jace’s.

“Do it. Just do it, Doc.” He growled the statement through gritted teeth as he watched Underhill tear through the Qwikclot pack. He upended the package over the jagged edge of the stump and the powder hit Alec’s blood.

The scream that tore from his throat echoed off of the cement buildings and when it reached his ears, it sounded more animal like than human.

His breathing was ragged when Underhill finished winding the gauze around the stump.

“That’ll hold for now. We gotta get you back to the med tent so we can get you really patched up.” Underhill motioned for a few others to come to his side with a stretcher and they all moved in unison to load Alec onto it. He gritted his teeth through the shocks of pain that the movement brought and laid back against the canvas.

Jace trailed them all the way to the Humvee, his golden eyes watching as they loaded him in. Alec’s eyes were locked on Jace’s when he heard the shot that connected with Jace’s chest, sending him backwards with a look of horror on his face.

“No!” The scream tore from Alec’s throat as he shot upwards in bed, his chest coated in cold sweat and his breath heaving out of his lungs. He tasted blood on the back of his tongue, and he sniffed loudly against the lingering scent of cinnamon gum. He swiped his phone from his nightstand and his thumb hovered over the call beside Izzy’s name, but a quick glance at the clock told him it was seven o’clock anyway.

Alec dropped the phone and grabbed his crutch. He was decided against calling Izzy in favor of getting ready for his appointment with Simon and then his dance lesson instead.

Jace’s face hung in the back of his mind through the rest of the morning.

Chapter Text

“You seem distracted today.” Magnus’ voice held no judgement as he stared down at Alec. Alec’s hand was rubbing absently at the skin above his prosthetic, trying to work some of the tingling pain there away.

“I didn’t sleep very well last night.” He mumbled, pushing himself up off the studio floor. Magnus’ hand was already extended to help him to his feet before Alec could struggle. “I’ll focus more, we can keep going.”

“I’m not worried about you losing focus, Alexander.” Magnus cocked his head slightly and lifted a finger before he added an addendum. “Well, that’s not true. I’m worried about you losing focus, but only because you could get hurt. If you’re too tired, we can reschedule the lesson to a different day.”

Alec pushed away the twist in his stomach at the idea of having to leave Magnus already. He shook his head and rolled his sleeves up over his shoulders.

“No, I’ll be good. We can keep going.” Magnus shrugged and pulled the small Bluetooth speaker remote from his pocket and started the music again. A few trills of piano keys sliced through the silence between them before the bass came in, thumping so deep and sultry that Alec felt it in his chest. It made Alec instinctively want to sway his hips, so he let them swing just a bit.

“Okay, let’s go again. Keep your eyes on me, alright?” His hands patted against Alec’s cheeks teasingly and he grinned when they flushed red. “Stay with me.”

Alec didn’t have a chance to respond before Magnus was moving, taking a step backward and beginning to move with the beat thrumming through the studio. He forced himself to focus and moved with the steps that Magnus had taught him, his gaze drifting down toward his feet to make sure that he wasn’t going to step on Magnus’ toes or trip over himself.

“Eyes right here, Alexander.” Magnus’ voice was a soft whisper under the lyrics in the air. Alec’s gaze snapped back up to Magnus. Magnus settled his hands on Alec’s hips to help guide them smoothly, the radiant heat of them bled through his shirt and settled into his bones in a way that warmed all the way to his chest. “There we go, that’s great. Keep going.”

The first few steps after the correction were awkward and mostly steered by Magnus, his voice gentle as he course corrected and got Alec back on track more than once. His ears were burning a little at how uncoordinated he felt when faced with moving alongside Magnus’ gracefulness.

Alec slowly allowed himself to get lost in the push and pull of the rhythm and he started to let his feet move of their own accord and his hips followed easily. Alec’s hands moved easily over Magnus’ sides, his fingers bumping over the other man’s ribcage before settling on the swell of his back.

There was a build in the chorus that Alec let himself move to fluidly, his hips brushing over Magnus’ like there was some sort of magnetic force pulling them closer and closer. When Magnus’ shirt rode up and bare skin brushed over Alec’s own it was as if he’d been attached to a livewire. Their noses brushed over each other and it brought Alec back to solid ground.

The next verse started, he let his eyes flutter open, though he wasn’t entirely sure when they’d closed, and he found that he was flush against Magnus, his large hands curled over Magnus’ shoulder blades and his breathing ragged.

“I--.” His voice was rough, even to his own ears. It wouldn’t take much, he realized, to brush his lips over the other man’s. Just a few centimeters and it would be a reality. He didn’t have the chance to make the small move happen. Magnus’ forehead pressed to his temple fleetingly before the other man took a step back, leaving Alec grasping at open air.

“That was,” Magnus cleared his throat and tugged his shirt into place absently. “You’re getting better, you’re letting yourself get into the music. How did that feel?”

“Good…it felt good.” Magnus bobbed his head in a halfhearted nod, wiping his palms on his pant legs.

“And the leg?”

“Sore, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before.” The retort was rolling off his lips before Alec even had a chance for his brain to catch up with his tongue. Magnus crossed to the speaker and flicked it off, his shoulders a line of tension as he went. Alec silently cursed himself.

“That’ll do it for today, Alexander. You’re making great progress. Keep it up and before you know it you won’t even need me to teach you anymore.”

“There’s always room for improvement.” He argued, tucking his arms behind him and standing in a close approximation of parade rest. Magnus chuckled quietly and ran his ringed fingers through the mop of black hair on his head.

“Not when the student surpasses the master.”

“I guess you’re just going to stay one step ahead of me then, won’t you?” Alec absently wished that Izzy has been here to witness that fact that he could, in fact, flirt when he wanted to.

“Hard to do with those long-ass legs of yours.”

“I can only be held responsible for fifty percent of that. The rest of is it all modern medicine.” The joke had been timed perfectly to cause Magnus to spit the water he was swilling clear across the room with a barked out laugh. He pawed at his now dripping face with one hand and held the water bottle away from himself with the other.

“You can’t just say things like that without warning me, you menace.”

“If I warned you it wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny as that was.” Alec smirked, his arms crossing over his chest.

“Well, now I’m less distraught about your lesson being over.” Magnus scowled at him, but the teasing note in his voice reassured Alec that he didn’t really mean it. He scrambled mentally for a moment for something else, anything else to keep him from having to walk out the door and not see Magnus again until their next session.

“Coffee!” He blurted out, mentally cursing himself for sounding like an idiot as soon as it was past his lips.

“I’m sorry?” Magnus questioned, one perfectly manicured brow lifting toward his hairline.

“Coffee. I…do you want to go get coffee with me? I need the caffeine if I’m going to get through family dinner tonight at Izzy’s.” Magnus’ grin was so warm and inviting it was almost physically painful.

“I would love to get coffee with you, and I would also love to hear more about this family dinner. Let me grab my street shoes and we’ll go.” Magnus lifted his nail-polished fingers dramatically and swept the beaded curtain to the backroom aside in a flourished movement that made Alec think of birthday party magicians.
******************

“You’ve never seen The Blair Witch Project? You’re serious?” Magnus was staring at Alec in disbelief over the rim of his coffee cup. Alec pulled a nonchalant shrug and sipped his own coffee. “Remember when I said it’s not sad working with veterans? I take it back. This is making me sad.”

“It’s just a movie, Magnus.” Alec’s blue eyes sparkled with amusement accompanying his laugh.

“It’s not just a movie, Alexander!” The man in front of him groused, waving his free hand around expressively. “It’s…it’s an institution in the Bad Horror Movie Hall of Fame. We’re going to have to remedy this. Movie night. Popcorn and bad horror movies. It’s happening. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“It sounds like I don’t have a choice here.” He was trying to hide the laughter in his voice, but from the adorable grin on Magnus’ face he didn’t think that he was being very successful. “Friday night it is.”

“So, tell me about this family dinner of yours.” Magnus dipped a pinky into the overly sugary drink in his hand, stirring it absently while he watched Alec through his kohl-lined eyes.

“Ugh.” Alec couldn’t suppress the groan even if he’d tried. Magnus chuckled softly and motioned for him to continue. “My parents have some sort of news that want to give us. That’s the only time that they ever want to do family dinner. Whatever it is, it’s not going to be good.”

“Is it at the lovely Miss Lightwoods humble abode?” Alec nodded. “Well, if you need somewhere to disappear to, I happen to know someone in that building that would probably be fine with you ducking into his apartment to get away.”

“You mean hide.”

“There’s nothing wrong with hiding now and then, Alexander.” Magnus let the silence hang between them for a moment before he added, teasingly, “Especially when hiding includes a fantastic espresso machine, a mildly high-maintenance cat, and bad sitcoms.”

“I do like a good espresso.” Alec’s voice was a conspiratorial whisper, his eyes sparking with mirth. “I’ve got to get going to Izzy’s, but I just might take you up on that offer.” Magnus stood with him and patted Alec on the shoulder.

“Best of luck, Alexander. I’ll be seeing you.”

The smile that Magnus warmed him all the way to his sister’s front door.

******************

If Magnus’ smile had been molten lava, his mother’s face when they all sat at the table was a dagger made of ice to his heart. He had only seen that look of pain and sadness on her face when he’d come home from the hospital.

“Mom, what is it?” He could hear his own voice shaking slightly when he asked.

“It’s about your father.” Maryse spoke softly, smoothing her hands down her dress briefly. “He and I have decided that it’s best if we part ways.” Isabelle’s mouth dropped open and Alec sucked in a sharp breath.

“What?” He questioned. “What happened?”

“He, uh, he’s been seeing his secretary for some time now, and they want to start a family together.”

“That son of a bitch. I’m going to kill him.” Alec snarled, but his mother’s choked cry stopped his anger dead in its tracks, and he was out of his seat, hobbling to sit beside her and pull her into his arms before he could register what he was doing.

As soon as his arms went around her, she broke down. Maryse’s manicured nails curled into his t-shirt and all Alec could do was rub his hand up and down her back and shush softly against her hair. He caught Izzy’s gaze over her head and there was no mistaking the hatred that burned between them.

Alec made a silent vow to make his father see what he was losing.

******************

Hours later Alec’s shirt was tear-stained and rumpled, but his mother was tucked into Izzy’s spare bed after having been too emotionally exhausted to make the trip home. Once Alec had made sure that Izzy was alright, he was out the front door and in the elevator before he could question himself.

Magnus answered the door on the third knock, looking tousled and clad in powder blue pajama pants and nothing else. Alec allowed himself a few seconds to survey the scene in front of him before he cleared his throat and spoke.

“Any chance that espresso can be something a little stronger?”

Chapter Text

“Did your mother say how long this has been going on?” Magnus was seated in the corner of his couch with his feet tucked under him, a drink in one hand and his chin resting on the other. Alec has a glass in his hand as well and Magnus’ cat was curled in his lap, purring noisily as he slept.

“A few years, I guess. I don’t know how the hell none of us saw this coming. Iz and I were talking after we got Mom to bed and the signs are so obvious now.” He sighed softly, running his thumb along the rim of his glass. “Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.”

“Even if you had known, Alexander, would you have told her?” The question made him think for a long moment before shrugging one shoulder.

“I don’t know. Sometimes it’s better not to know, but I don’t know if Mom would agree. Feelings aren’t exactly something that my family is really open about. They’d have probably just ignored it until they couldn’t anymore.”

“What’s next for them?” Alec dropped his hand to run his fingers through Chairman Meow’s fur distractedly. The cat arched his tiny body into the touch even in his sleep, making Alec smile affectionately before he answered.

“Separation. Probably divorce. Which…knowing my parents, is going to be clean and quiet. Neither of them want to cause a ruckus, especially in their firm.” Magnus’ curious eyebrow raise made him realize that he hadn’t gone into that yet. “Oh, uh, they’re lawyers. They both work at the same firm, Blackthorn and Penhallow. The partners aren’t terrible, but most of the lawyers there are real characters.”

“So…let me get this straight,” Magnus shifted in his seat, his brow furrowed. “Your father has been sleeping with his secretary…in the law firm that both of your parents work at?” Alec couldn’t be sure what made him start laughing at the statement, but he was until tears were streaming down his cheeks.

“When you say it like that it sounds ridiculous.” He gasped out when he finally caught his breath. The way that Magnus was watching him and the smile on the other man’s lips took it away again. He inhaled loudly, his eyes widening just a bit when Magnus didn’t look away. “I, uh, I should…I should go. I’ve kept you up long enough with my rambling about my emotional bullshit.”

“Oh, Alec, you can keep me up as long as you’d like.” Magnus smirk only widened at the choking sound that emitted from Alec’s throat. “At ease, Sailor, you can go if you’d like, but you’re more than welcome to stay. My couch is comfier than Simon’s any day of the week and I’m free to openly judge the content of your mind. And I won’t even charge you.”

Alec gaped at him a few seconds before standing and setting his glass on the coffee table. Chairman Meow gave a plaintive mew at being displaced and scowled up at Alec. His voice caught in his throat a few times when he was trying to force out words. He cleared his throat and finally was able to speak.

“Thank you. For this, I mean. The drinks, and the listening. I really appreciate it.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Alexander. That’s what friends are for, isn’t it?”

“We’re friends?” He felt like an idiot as soon as the words passed his lips.

“I don’t let people into my apartment until one in the morning to cuddle my cat unless we’re at least friends, Alec.” Magnus chuckled softly with a wink. “So, yes, we are friends. Is that going to be a problem?” Alec’s head felt like it was full of cement when he shook it vehemently.

“Not at all. I’m…it’s just been a really long time since I made a friend.” Jace’s face blinked into his mind, but he quickly pushed it away.

“Well, I’m glad that I could help you get out of your dry spell.” Alec’s cheeks burned at the tone that Magnus was using.

“Do…friends get dinner? Maybe on Friday?”

“Alexander Lightwood, are you asking me on a date?” Alec stammered a few times and he saw Magnus’ face change.

Alec had never seen the other man look nervous before. “…Unless I’ve read this situation very wrong and am currently making a colossal ass of myself…I’ll just, uh, can we backtrack and forget I asked that? I’d really like to backtrack.”

“I’d prefer that you didn’t.” Magnus’ brows went up in surprise. “I am. I’m, uh, I’m asking you on a date. Would you…like to go on a date? With me?” After a few seconds Magnus’ grin returned, radiant as ever, and he nodded.

“I’d like that a lot. Friday night. We can order dinner in and watch that horror movie? Or we can go out if you’d like?”

“How about we do both? I’d like to take you to dinner and then we can come back and watch the movie. Er, if that’s not too late, I mean. I know you have dance lessons the next day.”

“My lesson the next day is a pretty great guy, I’m sure he’ll understand if I’m a little late.”

“We can do it a different--.”

“Alec. You’re my Saturday lesson.” Alec swore he almost passed out from how fast the blood rushed to his face.

“Oh, right, I’m….yeah, I’m gonna go.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder and walked backward toward the door.

“I’ll pick you up here Friday night…five o’clock?”

“Five o’clock is perfect. I’ll be here with bells on.”

“Okay. Awesome. Thanks again, and, uh…good night.” Magnus rose, crossing the room with a slight swagger and stopping right in front of Alec, his palm settling on the wall beside Alec’s head. He was standing close enough to smell the intoxicating scent of sandalwood and the lingering burn of the alcohol that clung to Magnus’ lips.

His heart was hammering in his chest loud enough that he was positive that Magnus could hear it, but if he did, he wasn’t giving any indication of it. Alec swallowed reflexively and his hand shakily rested on Magnus’ hip. The other man leaned in and Alec prepared himself for soft lips on his own.

Instead, Magnus’ stubbled brushed over his and he was whispering against Alec’s ear.

“Goodnight, sweet Alexander.” The door handle clicked beside him and Magnus pulled the door open, stepping away with a smug look on his face. Alec gaped at him briefly before turning on his good heel and heading toward the elevator. Magnus watched him until the golden doors were sliding closed on Alec’s shy wave.

**********

“Alec, where did you go last night? I thought you were staying on the couch, but you were gone when we woke up. Mom and I were worried.” Izzy’s voice was slightly static laden through his phone while Alec moved around his kitchen to make his breakfast. He wasn’t incredibly steady on his feet after having kept his prosthetic on much longer than he usually did.

“I went to Magnus’. I was up there until late, so I just grabbed a cab home. I didn’t want to wake you up.” He scowled at his coffee maker when it gave a traitorous groan. His hand connected with the top of the machine roughly and it began to splutter to life. “I think I need a new coffee maker.”

“Okay, if you think that you can just gloss over your evening activities like that, you don’t know me at all.” Alec sighed exasperatedly and raked a hand through his hair.

“We talked, Iz. That’s all.” He could practically hear the eyeroll over the phone.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I’m not. We talked about what happened with Mom and Dad.” He hesitated a moment before graciously adding,

“And I asked him to dinner on Friday night.”

“See, lead with that! Alec! I’m so proud of you!” He eyed the phone on the counter where Izzy’s voice was high pitched enough that he was fairly certain he heard the neighbor’s dog bark once. “What’d he say?”

“We’re going to get dinner and then going back to his apartment to watch a horror movie he’s offended I haven’t seen. That’s all the information I have for you about it.”

“What happened to being the intel guy? Wasn’t that what you SEALs are supposed to be good at?” Alec scoffed, settling himself on his barstool.

“I’m good at a lot of things, thank you very much.”

“Fine, I won’t push anymore, but when you find out more, I expect to hear it.” Alec grunted in affirmation. “Good. Simon told me you haven’t been at group the last few weeks. What’s up with that?”

“Huh…I guess I didn’t realize that I’ve been missing it. Lessons have kept me busy, really.”

“Wow…you’re really into this dancing, huh?”

“I like it a lot.” Alec was surprised to find that he was telling the truth. Magnus aside, he really did enjoy feeling like he was in control of his own body again. It had been a very long time since he’d felt like that.

“I’m glad. It’s good to see you happy, Alec.” A grin spread across Alec’s face at that and he hummed softly. “Do me a favor and don’t overthink this and talk yourself out of this date, okay?”

“I’ll do my best, Iz.”

“That’s all I can ask. Dinner tomorrow night?”

“As long as you’re not cooking, I’ll be there.”

Alec hung up the phone before he could hear Izzy’s cry of outrage.

Chapter Text

Alec was a complete and total idiot.

This wasn’t news, but he thought that it was worth repeating.

“I have nothing to wear on a date.” It was the first thing that he said when Isabelle answered the phone, before she could even get a word in.

“Hello to you, too.” Izzy’s chuckle made him scowl at the phone on the bed. “Scale of one to ten, how much of a panic have you gotten yourself into?”

“Uh,” Alec scratched the back of his head and stared at his torn apart closet. “Eleven?”

“And how much longer until you have to pick up Magnus?”

“Two hours.”

“Give me ten, I’ll be right over.”

She hung up the phone before he could reply, leaving him standing in the middle of his room, looking lost.

**********

“How is it that you’re gay and your fashion sense is this bad?” Izzy questioned from deep inside Alec’s closet. He was seated on his bed, watching with dismay as shirt after shirt flew through the door.

“Now is not the time for stereotyping, Iz. Now is the time for helping. If we can’t find something, I’m going to have to go on this date looking like…this.” He gestured helplessly at his BUD/S t-shirt and running shorts.

“I will not let that happen.” She emerged a moment later with a black button-down and a pair of dark blue jeans. “Can’t mess with the classics. You look great in this shirt and these jeans will go well with it.”

“You’re sure?” Izzy raised an eyebrow and he held his hands up in defense. “Okay. Okay. Sorry. Thanks, Iz, I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“Of course you couldn’t have. You’re hopeless when it comes to this.” She grinned, her hands on her hips. “Are you nervous?” “

Iz. I’ve faced down guys with guns bigger than you. I’ve spent months and months in the desert, waiting to execute missions that would terrify anyone. I am a damned Navy SEAL.” She stared at him expectantly. “So, of course I’m terrified.” Izzy snorted a laugh and shook her head.

“You’re gonna be fine. Magnus seems to really like you, despite your lack of fashion sense, and you seem to like him.” “I do. I like him a lot.” Izzy smiled at him and came to stand in front of Alec, her hands going to cup his cheeks affectionately. He gave her a soft smile, leaning into the touch easily.

“Good. Don’t let it psych you out. You’re an amazing guy, Alec, show him that. Don’t hide it. Okay?”

“Okay. I won’t. Thanks, Iz. For everything.” She patted his cheek before pulling back. “How’s Mom? Is she gonna be staying at your house for a while?”

“Yeah, I told her she can stay as long as she needs to. I can’t believe Dad.” She settled beside him and his arm instinctively curled around her shoulders.

“Neither can I. But, we’ll get her through it. We’ll get all of us through it. I promise.” Isabelle grinned up at him.

“Of course we will. We’re Lightwoods. Now, we can worry about that later. For now, we’ve gotta get you dolled up to go get your man.”

*********

He was early. The military has instilled the idea of “if you’re not early, you’re late” and it was something that he didn’t think he’d ever be able to fully shake. He paced in the hallway in front of the elevator for ten minutes until he was closer to five before he took the elevator up to the penthouse. Magnus was there, waiting for him when the doors slid open.

“Wow.” The word rushed out of him in an exhale when he laid eyes on Magnus. The man was wearing a crimson button down, black pants that looked as though they’d been painted on, and a pale blue-gray jacket that made Alec think of civil war soldiers. “You look…you look good.”

“You’re one to talk, you clean up exceptionally well, Alexander.” Magnus gave him a slow grin and stepped back to gesture for him to come in.

“Thanks. Izzy helped.” Magnus gave a soft laugh at that and nodded.

“That doesn’t surprise me, but I’m sure that you would have been able to put this together yourself. You’re a pretty smart guy. I just have a few finishing touches and then I’ll be ready to go, make yourself comfortable.” He stepped into the living room and Alec made a point to stop and scratch the tiny ball of fluff on the back of the couch behind the ears.

“Hey, Chairman. I’m gonna take your dad out to dinner. That cool with you?” Chairman Meow blinked up at him lazily with a soft mew in response.

“He says he expect you to behave as a gentleman,” Chairman mewed up at Magnus when he walked back into the living room, adjusting the cuff on his ear. “He amends that, however, with the statement that he doesn’t mind if you are just a little less than gentlemanly.” Alec chuckled softly, tucking his hands into his pockets. Magnus took a last look in the mirror over the mantle before confirming that he was ready to go.

“I will keep that in mind and have him home before his curfew.” With that, they headed to the elevator, leaning against the wall as the doors closed, and Magnus gave him a coy grin as they started to descend.

Alec was only mildly concerned that he was in over his head.

**********

The restaurant that Alec had chosen was small and dimly lit. It was probably a bit cliched, but classics were classic for a reason. They worked. Magnus’ smile was something boarding shy when he looked at Alec who was pulling out his chair at the table.

Contrary to popular belief, he could be charming when he wanted to be, thank you. Magnus called him a gentleman and Alec thought that his face was going to spontaneously combust.

Nerves settled into his stomach like a cage full of iron butterflies in his stomach as he sat in the chair opposite him. He’d spent most of the day mentally running through talking points to make sure that he didn’t sound like a total moron.

“I’m really glad you agreed to come out tonight.” He mumbled after ordering them both wine. Magnus grinned, nodding slowly.

“I am too. But, can you do me a favor?”

“Anything.”

“Can we get past the awkward first date jitters relatively quickly? I’d much rather be on a date with the amazing guy that’s been copping feels during dance lessons and making me laugh over coffee than the guy that’s trying to be the perfect first date. Think you can do that?” Alec snorted out a laugh and released the breath he hadn’t realized that the was holding.

“Yeah,” He relaxed back against his chair as the waiter set down their glasses of wine, leaving the bottle on the table. He took the order for spaghetti Bolognese (it was one of the few things on the menu that Alec knew). “Yes. I can do that.”

“Perfect. How’s your mother doing?”

“She’s alright. It’s going to be a long road to getting past this, but I’m going to help her get there. She’s going to stay with Izzy for a while. I wish that there was more that I could do for her.” Magnus gave him a soft smile and reached across the table to put his hand on Alec’s comfortingly.

“She’ll get there. It will get easier for her, and it sounds like this is good in the long run. Your mother is strong.”

“You’ve never met her, how do you know that’s true?”

“I’ve met her children. I’m sure that you and Isabelle were quite the handful as children, she has to be at least a little strong.” Alec scoffed and rolled his eyes.

“Oh, come on. I wasn’t that bad. Iz was a different story, but I was a model child.”

“Alexander, you know that I’ve heard enough stories about your childhood to know that that isn’t at all accurate, right?”

“I was hoping you’d just go with it to preserve my pride.”

“Ah, well, unfortunately that’s not really my M.O., my dear. You were a rebellious little child that I look forward to hearing more about and there’s nothing that will change my mind about that.” Alec laughed louder than he anticipated, earning them some looks from the table beside them, but he couldn’t be bothered to care.

“I’ll just have to keep working on it, I guess. How’s the studio? Any dance student prodigies making themselves known with the new lessons?”

“Don’t worry, you’re still my only prodigy,” Alec scoffed. “But I do have some new lessons that started this week, they’re good. I think they’re in the same group sessions that you are with Simon.”

“I, uh, I actually haven’t gone to group since the first week I started coming for lessons.”

“Really?” Magnus’ voice was incredulous, his head tilting curiously. “Why’s that?”

Alec pulled half a shrug and averted his gaze quickly. He thanked every deity that he could think of when the waiter brought them their food, giving him a moment to think about his response.

He was pushing his spaghetti around his plate with his fork, pointedly ignoring Magnus’ inquiring gaze when he finally spoke.

“When I was deployed, the second tour I think, there was this kid. He was on my team, couldn’t have been more than…I dunno, maybe twenty, but he was a good kid. Herondale, er, Will. Will Herondale. Smart, fast on his feet, more sarcastic than any kid I’d ever met before, and he reminded me so much of Jace that I couldn’t help feeling protective over him. Jace hadn’t joined up yet, so I missed him, and Will made it feel like I had him there beside me.”

“He sounds like someone you’d be drawn to.” Magnus gave him a grin and gestured gently for him to continue.

“He was. Anyway, the kid was always listening to some kind of music back in our racks, and if he couldn’t be listening to music, he was singing. He had a hell of a voice. But, more than all that, he was always dancing. He used to try to teach me these little easy steps, but I have two left feet. I’m sure you’ve noticed.” Alec chuckled softly, raising a brow at Magnus in an attempt to lighten the mood.

“Oh, come now. You’re a fast study and you hardly have two left feet, Alexander. I hardly think that your wonderful doctors made that mistake when they gave you the prosthetic.” Alec barked out a laugh before shaking his head.

“So, one night, we’re sitting on watch on the edge of the camp, up on the ridge. Will was spotting for me, and he started talking about this dance competition that he’d entered back home. He was just getting to the good part when we heard it.” He took a long drink of his wine, hoping that it would steady his quivering voice. “It took so long for the sound of the shot to register, I couldn’t get my head wrapped around it until I looked over and saw the blood.”

“Oh, Alexander…”

“He was gone before I had a chance the call for Doc. I still remember putting my hand over the wound and telling him I’d kick his ass if he didn’t hang on, but it was already too late.” He snuffled quietly, pawing at his eye while his face flushed bright red. “I, uh, yeah. So, dancing makes me think of Will and a time before I lost my leg and when I was still doing what I loved.”

“I’m glad that I can help bring back at least some of that for you.”

“I am too.” Alec’s. gaze darted between the tables surrounding them rapidly and he tugged gently at his shirt collar. “I’m sorry I ruined the mood…”

“You didn’t ruin the mood, Alec,” Magnus’ hand went across the table without hesitation and settled on Alec’s, his fingers curling around the other man’s hand easily. “We can go if you’d like. We have a movie to watch.”

Alec didn’t know how Magnus could tell that he was starting to feel anxiety clawing at the back of his throat like a demon dragging its way out of the depths of hell, but he could. He nodded shakily, keeping his gaze averted with shame.

Magnus gestured for the waiter and Alec tried to fumble with his wallet to pay the check, but Magnus’ fingers were steadier and got to his own faster. Alec made a soft noise of protest, but Magnus simply waved him off.

“You can get the next one.”

Before Alec had a chance to process what had happened, Magnus had him ushered out the door of the restaurant, and they were walking down the sidewalk in the direction of Magnus’ apartment, their shoulders brushing with each step.

“Thank you.” His voice was weak, even to his own ears, and he couldn’t help but roll his eyes at himself.

“You don’t have to thank me, I have seen enough panic attacks to know the symptoms of a potential one. I also know that having said panic attack in the middle of a restaurant is less than ideal.” Alec nodded, his head hanging a bit and his eyes trained on the sidewalk under his feet.

“I just,” He huffed quietly. “I’m not used to talking about all of that. I didn’t talk about it in group, I’ve never talked to Iz about it, I just kept it bottled up.”

“Why did you tell me about it?” The question wasn’t accusatory, it was genuinely intrigued.

“I trust you.” His answer was simple and earnest. He was surprised to find that he actually meant the statement and the realization had him stopping dead in his tracks, his hand shooting out to curl around the space just above Magnus’ elbow to halt the other man. Magnus turned toward him with a questioning look and Alec swallowed hard around the knot in his throat. “I…really do. I trust you.”

“I trust you, too, Alexander.” Magnus’ soft smile proved to be his undoing.

Alec took the step closer and dipped his head, his nose brushing Magnus’ and pausing there, giving him an out. Magnus, apparently, wasn’t looking for an out because he rested both hands on Alec’s chest and whispered “Alec, please” into the space between their lips. That was all the encouragement that Alec needed.

Magnus gasped into the kiss before he leaned into his, his hands sliding up the curve of Alec’s neck and into his hair. The pull of rings on the strands had Alec purring out a groan and dropping his hands to Magnus’ hips, pulling the other man flush against him. The scrap of Magnus' teeth over his bottom lip when he moved to deepen the kiss sent a shiver from his shoulders to the base of his spine like fire running through him.

Alec couldn’t see anything but lightning behind his closed eyelids, and he felt like he couldn’t get close enough. The kiss was like nothing that he’d ever experienced, and he couldn’t catch his breath or get his brain to acknowledge something other than “Magnus Magnus Magnus Magnus”. The kiss was intoxicating and all consuming and he couldn't find it in himself to give half a damn if he drowned himself in this feeling entirely. This was everything that he'd been imagining that it would be and so much more.

“Wow.” Came a familiar voice, making Alec step back with a jump. His eyes were wide when he was staring down at Magnus, his lips kiss swollen and his hair sticking up at odd angles from where Magnus’ hands hand been combing through the strands. He turned his head slowly. The streetlights caught on a leather jacket that Alec had spent hours shopping for three years before. A crooked grin from the man in front of them nearly stopped his heart in his chest. Alec’s hands tightened reflexively on Magnus’ hips, keeping him tight to his chest. “Guess I oughta call before I come home to surprise you, huh, brother?”

It took Alec a solid thirty seconds before he found his voice again.

“Jace.”

Chapter Text

“Jace, what are you doing home? I thought you were still deployed?” Alec questioned, finally allowing his hands to drop from Magnus’ hips. His feet felt like they were made of lead and he couldn’t seem to make them move.

“I was, got my ass sent home on some R&R.” Jace held up his hand, showing off a cast to just below his elbow. “Broke my wrist, can’t exactly hold a gun that way, so, here I am. Do I, uh, do I get a hug, or have you exhausted all your physical contact for the night by defiling this poor guy?”

Alec finally found his feet able to move and he wrapped Jace in a crushing hug, burying his nose against the other man’s shoulder, barely breathing as he did so. Jace returned it just as tightly with a mumbled “that’s better”.

“It’s really good to see you, man.” Alec exhaled, his fingers white with how tight her was gripping Jace’s jacket.

“You gonna introduce me or did that leg contain all of your manners?” When the two parted, Jace brought up a hand to ruffle Alec’s hair gently.

“Oh, right, yeah!” He gestured to Magnus with one hand. “Jace, this is Magnus. Magnus, this is my brother, Jace.”

“It’s nice to finally put a face to the name,” Magnus smiled, extending his hand. “Alec has talked about you a lot in our lessons.” Jace quirked an eyebrow curiously.

“Lessons?”

“Dance lessons.” Alec followed up, a blush painting his cheekbones. “I’ve been taking dance lessons instead of going to group.”

“That’s awesome, man. I know how much you hated that stupid group session. Probably would’ve been different if you’d picked someone other than Iz’s boyfriend for your therapist, though.”

“Probably, Simon’s a good guy, but talking him through all of that is a little weird. Where are you staying?”

“That’s a good question,” Jace laughed softly, his good hand reaching up to rub the back of his head. “I was gonna stay with Iz like I usually do, but I didn’t know that Mom was there. And I’m definitely not crashing with Dad. Iz told me about…all that.” Had Alec not known Jace as well as he did, he would have missed the signs that Jace was pissed.

“Yeah, it’s…I’m still trying to process the whole thing. You know you’re always welcome to stay with me. I’ve got the spare room.”

“You sure? I don’t want to,” Jace’s gaze flicked to Magnus and he tried to suppress a grin. “Interrupt.” Alec didn’t know that his face could get any hotter, but it did.

“We weren’t…we just had a date, first date, um.” Magnus’ hand came to rest on the small of Alec’s back and he felt the tension leave his body immediately, causing his muscles to relax like a puppet that had his strings cut.

“What Alexander is trying to say is that it’s no interruption at all, and I would be remiss if I didn’t send him off to get you settled in. Besides,” Magnus dropped a kohl-rimmed wink at Alec, who was staring at him slack-jawed. “This is our first date, and I’m not that kind of gentleman. You gotta wait for at least three dates before anything untoward. Proper courtship is important, my dear.”

Alec stammered a few times before shifting his gaze back to Jace quickly.

“Uh, why don’t you head to the apartment, I’ll walk Magnus home and meet you there?” He held up his key ring which Jace took and tucked into his pocket.

“Take your time, man. I’ve got a few weeks, so there’s no rush.” Jace smirked, turning on his heel and sauntering in the direction of Alec’s apartment, but not before calling back over his shoulder, “Be safe, boys.”

Alec let out a sigh and hung his head slightly, mumbling “damn it” under his breath. Magnus’ soft laugh and his hand sliding up Alec’s back lightly made him lift his gaze again.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry about…the comments. Jace thinks he’s funny.” Magnus squeezed his shoulder lightly before taking half a step back.

“To his credit, it was a bit funny to see you blush that hard.” Alec’s eyes narrowed playfully.

“You’re taking sides with the other party? You wound me.” He pressed his large hand over his heart, earning him another hearty laugh from Magnus, the sound warming his chest.

“Poor Alexander. How will I ever be able to make this up to you?” Alec turned, his hands making their way back to Magnus’ hips and he took a moment to relish the fact that the spot was already starting to feel like everything he’d been looking for. Like home.

“Let me take you home.” He mumbled, his voice rough and barely above a whisper. Magnus moved close enough to brush his nose over Alec’s, his arms linking around his neck.

“How scandalous.” His lips brushed Alec’s as he spoke, sending sparks of electricity through him. “I already told you. Three date minimum, sailor.” Alec huffed out a laugh and brought one hand up to fit itself over Magnus’ jaw.

“I didn’t mean it that way. Let me walk you home, I promised the Chairman that I was going to get his daddy home safe, and I have to make good on that. If I don’t, who knows if he’ll allow dates two and three?”

The kiss that Magnus rewarded him with was slow and all-encompassing. Alec hummed into the kiss when his lips parted, and Magnus rolled his tongue against Alec’s teasingly. Far sooner than he would have liked, Magnus was pulling back and whispering “take me home” into the heated space between them.

Alec briefly forgot that taking him home was not going to mean falling into bed with Magnus and he nodded shakily.

“Yeah,” His voice didn’t even sound like it belonged to him when he spoke. “Yes, right. Home. I’ll walk you home now.” He pulled back, but not before dropping his hand down and lacing his fingers through the other man’s.

They walked in companionable silence for the few blocks to Magnus’ apartment building, but there was a heaviness between them that had Alec squirming and his collar feeling a bit too tight. It was a culmination of what had been building between them for the weeks since Alec had first met Magnus, and it was so thick he almost couldn’t breathe.

When they stepped into the golden doors of the elevator and they slid shut behind them when Magnus hit the button for the penthouse, the tension between them snapped like an overextended rubber band.

As soon as the doors closed, Alec was on him. His hand pressed to Magnus’ chest enough to press the other man to the wall. When his back hit the cool metal, Magnus let out a gasp of surprise, which Alec did not waste. He pressed his lips to the other man’s, his teeth grazing Magnus’ lower lip hard enough to draw a strained groan from his throat. He felt Magnus’ fingers curling into the back of his shirt hard enough to make a few of the stitches crackle in warning.

Alec’s hands were sure and steady as they blazed trails over hard muscle and a slim frame. Magnus’ clothes were soft and frustrating under his itching fingertips, and the lack of skin under his hands drew a growl from low in his chest.

When he detoured from Magnus’ lips to drag his lips over his stubbled jaw and down to the strained chords of tendon in his neck, Magnus shuddered out a breath. One of his hands made their way into Alec’s hair, twisting in the dark strands just shy of too tightly.

“You were holding back out there,” He gasped out. Alec closed his teeth over Magnus’ pulse point hard enough to leave a mark, and he prayed that there would be one when he pulled back. The keen that escaped the other man’s throat drew an answering groan from him, and Alec moved one hand to Magnus’ jaw, holding him in place, the other dropped to draw his leg around Alec’s hip. “Alexander, please.”

“Please what, Magnus?” Alec murmured against the purple bruise he’d left against the smooth skin of Magnus’ throat. “Tell me what you want.”

“You,” He whimpered when Alec slid his tongue over Magnus’ Adam’s apple. “God, you, please.” Alec chuckled lightly at the aborted little snaps forward of Magnus’ hips and he gave one last nip to the man’s jaw before he pulled back when the elevator doors dinged their arrival to the penthouse. “What…”

“Three dates. You set the expectation, I’m holding you to it.” Alec grinned at the flabbergasted look and gestured widely with his arm. “Tell Chariman that I got you home before curfew. I’ll text you when I get home.”

“Alec…”

“Go inside, Magnus. Behave.” There was something that sparked in Magnus’ eyes, which was exactly what Alec had been hoping to see, as he stepped out of the elevator and into the apartment. “Good.” He murmured and watched the ragged breath that Magnus sucked in through his nose just before the doors started to slide closed. “Night, Magnus.”

He barely heard the mumbled “g’night” before the doors shut completely and he began his descent to the street below.

**********

“Welcome home, Casanova.” Jace called from the couch when Alec finally stepped into his apartment. He sighed, holding his arms out to the side exasperatedly.

“Really? Casanova?” Jace shrugged, sipping the beer in his hand. “You can’t come up with something better?”

“Gimme a minute, and I’m sure I will. I’m jet-lagged and a little tipsy, if we’re being honest.” Alec snorted a laugh, snagged his own beer and dropped onto the couch beside Jace. “So. Sleeping with the instructor? Isn’t that a little…I dunno, ‘Dirty Dancing’?”

“I’m not ‘sleeping with the instructor’. He was being serious when he said that was our first date.”

“That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a test drive, man.” Jace held up his cast-clad hand in a calm gesture when Alec scowled at him. “Hey, he doesn’t really strike my fancy, but there’s no denying that he’s a handsome dude.”

“Easy.” He grumbled out, his thumbnail scratching at the beer label.

Jace rolled his eyes and leaned back against the couch, his socked feet propping up on the coffee table.

“How’s Mom doing really? She said she’s fine, but I saw her face and that isn’t what she looks like when she’s fine.” Alec mirrored the position with his good leg, his free hand going to unhook his prosthetic and set it against the side of the couch. Jace was one of the few people that he felt comfortable enough around to do so, but even with him, there was a twinge of anxiety in his chest.

“She’s doing better. A little. It’s going to be a process. I’m still so pissed at Dad. I haven’t seen him yet, but I don’t know if I can without knocking his ass out.” Jace nodded slightly, draining the rest of his beer.

“I knew he was an asshole, but I didn’t think it was this bad.”

“Mom said that she knew…she knew the whole time that he was sleeping with her. She never said anything.”

“Of course she didn’t, Alec. She wouldn’t have done that to us. Or to him. She knew that we loved him, despite him being a colossal dick, and she wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize that.”

“But, we could’ve…I dunno, we could’ve helped.”

“We can do this all night but blaming ourselves and thinking about the things we could have done differently isn’t going to do a bit of good. What’s done is done, and all we can do now is be there for Mom.” Alec bobbed his head in an aborted nod.

“I know, you’re right. “

“Course I am. I’m me.” Jace gave him a smug grin. “How’s the leg doing? And don’t give me the ‘it’s fine’ because you think it’s what I want to hear.”

“It’s been rough. PT stopped helping after the first month, and I was…I was pushing too hard. I set myself back quite a bit. But, after Simon sent me to Magnus, it helped with my leg and the nightmares. It’s been more helpful than anything else that I’ve tried so far. I know it sounds crazy, it’s just dancing, but it reminds me a lot of being on the Teams.”

“It doesn’t sound crazy. I’m glad that you found something that feels the same. I know how much you loved it. The guys miss you.” Alec winced at the statement.

“I miss them too. So fucking much it hurts some days. It sounds crazy and it doesn’t make sense, but I miss being in the shit.”

“Alec, you went through something that would have broken a lot of people. You lost your leg and your career in one fell swoop. Saving my ass, no less. You’re doing better than anyone could have guessed. I’m, uh, I’m really proud of you.” Alec pawed at his face briefly, masking a suspicious sniffle as he nodded.

“Thanks, that means a lot. Those guys better be watching your ass, lord knows you’re not out there being careful.” He teased, grinning around the mouth of his beer bottle. Jace raised his bad arm with his middle finger extended.

“Broke my wrist, not my finger, asshole. When am I ever not careful?”

“Do we need to relive some of those stories?”

“Oh, we absolutely do, but we’re going to need more beer for that.” Jace heaved himself to his feet and started toward the fridge.

“Grab me one, too.” Alec called after him, pulling his phone from his pocket and opening the flashing message on the screen. He grinned down at the words in front of him.

Magnus: So. ‘Behave’, huh?

Alec: I didn’t hear complaining. You listened. Very well.

It barely took half a minute before he had the reply sitting in front of him.

Magnus: Oh, I can listen, it was just…unexpected.

Alec looked at the message, tapping his thumb against the side of his phone before he decided on a response.

Alec: Good unexpected, I hope?

Alec stared at his phone intently, watching the typing bubbles come up and disappear several times, and he held his breath until the message popped up. Had he gone too far? Was that not something that Magnus would be interested in?

Magnus: It’s certainly an unexpected that I’m open to exploring more.

Magnus: I can hear you overthinking from here. Stop. In case it was unclear, I was very much enjoying myself.

He smirked as Jace handed him another beer and flopped back down on the couch.

“What’s with the face? Is that your dancer?” Alec tapped out a response quickly.

“He’s not my dancer.”

Alec: It totally wasn’t obvious. You’ll have to work on being more transparent for our next date.

“Whatever you want to call him, that smile on your face says it’s him you’re talking to.” Alec opened his mouth to reply, but Jace held up a hand with a bright smile on his own face. “Don’t deny it, it’s good to see you so happy. If he makes you happy, then he’s okay in my book.” Alec’s phone vibrated, but he ignored it for a moment, watching Jace’s index finger extend. “But, you make sure that he knows if he breaks your heart, there are a team of bad dudes that are going to do unspeakable things to him.”

“Oh my god, thanks, Dad.” He rolled his eyes and swiped to unlock the screen.

He nearly choked on the mouthful of beer he had when he found a picture message staring back at him.

It was dark in the photo, but he could clearly see a shirtless Magnus sprawled out on his bed with deep green sheets just barely covering his hips. There was a sheen of sweat on his chest, and his eyes were wild, but he had a smirk on his slightly swollen lips. Alec’s eyes tracked down to the dark bruise on his neck appreciatively. The sight of Magnus’ hand resting just under the sheets suggestively made his tongue feel about four sizes too big for his mouth.

“I’m positive that I don’t want to know what that message is, judging by that look on your face, so I’m going to take a rain check on those stories and head to my room. We can catch up over breakfast tomorrow. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“That leaves quite the range of things I can do.” Alec mumbled, thumbing out of the photo and to the message that had accompanied it.

“You’re absolutely correct. So, have fun and I’ll see you in the morning.” Jace ruffled his hair as he walked by and Alec raised a hand to wave with a mumbled ‘night’.

Magnus: Too much?

He had never reattached his prosthetic and limped to his room so quickly in his life. Once he was settled on his bed and had set the prosthetic aside again, he lifted the phone to his ear after hitting the “call” button.

It only took two rings before Magnus picked up.

“Alexander.” He purred out breathlessly.

“God, Magnus, you’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?” Alec snarled, letting his head drop back against the headboard. He made sure that he was cognizant of how loud he was speaking.

“N-no.” His fist clenched in his sheet at the hitch in Magnus’ breathing and he strained to hear every sound he could make out. “That wouldn’t be in my best interest.”

“What are you doing?” Alec questioned. Magnus’ thin laugh had him rolling his eyes.

“I’m running a marathon, isn’t it obvious?”

“Don’t be snarky,” Alec let his voice drop half an octave. “I asked you a question. I’d like an answer.”

There was a whimper on the other end of the line that he silently cursed not being able to hear in person.

“I’m thinking about that damn kiss in the elevator.”

“And?”

“And touching myself. Better?” There was no heat behind the comment and Alec grinned knowingly. He already had a feeling that Magnus was going to be like this.

“Much. Good boy.” The groan that came from Magnus sounded like the air had been punched from his, it was long and low, and Alec didn’t have to question what had happened. “That’s good, Magnus, so good. Come back to me.” He kept his voice low and soothing as he spoke, ignoring the feeling of his own muscles being as taught as a bow string.

“Well,” Magnus finally stammered, his voice sounding shaky and distant. “That was unexpected. I didn’t even think I was that close.”

“It’s not uncommon, some people with an affliction for being praised have that reaction to every praise given. I don’t think you’re quite at that level, but I’m hoping to get to find out.”

“I’ve never had that happen before, it was…overwhelming.”

“It can be. We should sit down and actually talk about this, you know. I don’t take this…part of my life lightly, and I want to make sure that we’re on the same page. Are you alright with that?”

“Mhm.”

“I’m going to need an actual confirmation, Magnus.”

“Yes, I’m okay with that. When?”

“Tomorrow. Let me come cook you dinner. We can eat, then we’ll talk.” He waited half a beat before adding on, “And, if you’re good, we can watch that movie we didn’t get to after.”

“I’ll be good.” The answer was instantaneous.

“I know you will. You’re always good, and you didn’t even know it.” Alec praised. His gaze caught the clock on his nightstand and he sighed softly. “It’s late, you need to sleep. You have lessons tomorrow. I’m sure your first student wouldn’t like it if you weren’t focused on him.” He was sure Magnus could hear the sly grin in his voice.

“I’m sure you’re right. He should sleep too.”

“Goodnight, Magnus. Sweet dreams.”

“Oh, I assure you, they’re going to be saccharine.”

Chapter Text

“You’re distracted.” Alec commented, his voice barely above a heated exhale against Magnus’ ear. A shudder ran through him and his fingers closed tightly around the backs of Alec’s arms.

“Forgive me if the six-foot-tall SEAL that’s pressed against me is a bit distracting.” The response was supposed to be indignant, but the whine that was hiding just under the words took away some of the heat. Alec simply smirked, brushed his lips over Magnus’ ear and stepped back.

“Maybe we should call it a morning. I told Simon I’d stop over this morning and I have to go grocery shopping to do. Hot date tonight, and all that.”

“You know, I think I miss shy Alec that I could fluster.” Magnus grumbled, his arms crossing over his chest.

“Oh? I can go back to that, if you’d like. Shy Alec would still be trying to figure out how to ask you out to dinner, just so you know. And, honestly, he would probably not end up doing it. Shy Alec was virgin Alec.”

Magnus made a show of considering before he shook his head lightly.

“I’m a fan of this Alec. Obviously. I believe last night made that abundantly clear.” Alec’s hand came up and his thumb pressed into the spot that he knew had a dark mark on Magnus’ neck even though it was covered with make-up. Magnus’ breath hitched when he applied pressure to the spot.

“You’ve got this covered.” Alec’s voice had dropped considerably, his blue eyes darkening.

“I’m running a business, I can’t be walking around with teeth marks in my neck, Alexander.”

“Fair point. At least you’ll spend the day knowing it’s there. If this discussion tonight goes the way I’m hoping that it does, we’ll have to talk about where I can mark you.” Magnus took a step closer, but he froze when Alec raised a hand. “No, stay. Tonight. You tempt me, and I have things I need to do. I’ll see you tonight.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Clary’s voice chimed from the door way, causing both men to turn to face her. “I tried to tell him that he couldn’t come back, but he wouldn’t listen.”

They didn’t have to question who “he” was, there was a tall, solid looking man standing behind her. He was wearing a dark suit, but the gold badge glittering on his belt seemed to catch Alec’s attention. Alec’s posture immediately went rigid and he leaned away enough for Magnus to be acutely aware of the movement.

“Lieutenant Alexander Lightwood?” The man questioned, his eyes laser-focused on Alec.

“That’s me. Who are you?”

“Special Agent Victor Whitelaw, NCIS. I need you to come with me, we have some questions that we need to ask you.”

**********

“Can I ask what this is about?” Alec questioned, his eyes narrowed. There was a heaviness in the space across the table between himself and Whitelaw. They hadn’t said anything to one another on the ride to the station.

“Do you know Lieutenant Jace Herondale?”

“It’s rather common knowledge that I do.” Whitelaw chuckled softly, leaning back slightly in his chair.

“Fair enough. What about Petty Officer Jonathan Morgenstern?” Alec pulled half a shrug.

“I heard about him just after I got discharged. I never met the guy, but I heard that he took my spot on the team. Why?”

“We’re working through an investigation about Lieutenant Herondale’s injury. We believe there may have been some foul-play that led to it.” Alec’s eyebrows crept toward his hairline.

“You think that this Morgenstern kid hurt Jace on purpose?”

“It’s only a theory, don’t get ahead of yourself, but yes.”

“What do you need from me to take care of the bastard?”

“Well, you’ve already confirmed that you didn’t actually know the Petty Officer, there’s not much outside of that that we need. We’ll be looking to question Lieutenant Herondale as well, but we have been unable to contact him. We were hoping that you could help us out with that. We have it on good authority that he’s been staying with you.” Alec bobbed his head in a nod.

“He got in last night.”

Whitelaw pulled a card from his chest pocket and slid it across the table. Alec eyed the number under Whitelaw’s name.

“Have him call me. I want to get this figured out for him.” He grabbed the card and tucked it into his pocket.

“I’ll see what I can do. Am I free to go?” Whitelaw nodded.

“We’ll be in touch if we have more questions, but you’re free to go.” Alec stood, bracing himself on the table just enough to get his leg under him solidly before starting toward the door. “Lieutenant.”

Alec paused, his hand resting on the knob of the door. The metal was cool under his hand as he clutched it. He kept himself facing forward, not wanting to turn toward Whitelaw.

“I hope you understand that I truly am keeping Herondale’s best interest in mind. I truly want to find out if this was something that was intentional.” Alec nodded slightly, pausing half a second before pushing out the door and striding out of the precinct.

**********

“So, this guy Whitelaw thinks that Jonathan had something to do with me busting my arm?” Jace questioned, looking at Alec from across the kitchen island. “Why would he think that?”

“I guess there was some murmurings that he had it out for you. He didn’t go into too much detail, but you know if NCIS is getting involved then there’s something to it. They wouldn’t waste their time if they didn’t think that they had a real case. What did you do to this kid?”

Jace leaned his hip against the countertop, his arms crossed over his chest and shrugged helplessly.

“I dunno, man, I really haven’t had much facetime with him. We’ve gone on a patrol or two together since he joined up, but it’s not like I spend my time trying to piss the kid off enough to want to hurt me.”

“To his credit, you tend to do that without trying.” Jace scowled, but he didn’t argue the statement. “I guess it’s good that you’re here on R&R and not just taking it in the shit, huh? Who knows what Morgenstern would try if you were over there still.”

“Good point. At least here I have my knight in titanium armor.” He gestured at Alec’s leg, earning an eyeroll.

“Alright, yeah, I’ll protect you like my favorite damsel in distress.”

“That’s all I ask. In the meantime, how’d last night go with Magnus?” Alec could feel the flush that crept up the back of his neck like the vines of a carnivorous plant.

“It was fine, we talked on the phone.” Jace’s smirk was knowing.

“Oh, I figured that was the case. But, what, oh what, could my dear brother have been discussing with his dashing dance instructor, hm?”

“Is that really a questioning that you want the answer to in reference to said dear brother?” Alec quirked an eyebrow and Jace’s eyes widened slightly, obviously rethinking his request.

“Err…no, probably not.”

“Wise choice.” He grinned at Jace’s answering grumble. They were both quiet for a moment before Jace’s face softened.

“Does he make you happy? I mean, really.”

Alec pondered for a moment, leaning back on the stool and watching Jace. Did Magnus make him happy? They’d only been on one date, and he hadn’t known him very long, but he did. He absolutely made him happier than he had been in months.

“Yeah. He makes me really happy.”

“It’s good to see you smiling again, Alec. Haven’t gotten to see it much since the accident.”

“Haven’t had much to smile about.” Alec’s voice was barely above a whisper as he spoke, and his eyes were trained on the counter in front of him. “Just Iz and Mom, really. Losing the teams was worse than losing any limb. I--.”

“S’alright, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” He shook his head at Jace.

“I want to. I need to. I worked so damn hard to get to where I was, and it was all gone in a second. Then I came home, and Mom and Iz helped. They really did. But, I couldn’t figure out where I fit in anymore. I couldn’t sleep, barely ate anything. Then Iz set me up with group with Simon and it got a little better, but…it still wasn’t what I wanted it to be. There wasn’t a place for me.”

“C’mon, man, you know there’s still a place for you.”

“I know that now, I think I finally found it.” Alec agreed with a slight nod.

“With Magnus?”

“With Magnus.” He confirmed.

“Then, let me be the first to officially say it,” Alec raised a skeptical brow, to which Jace just grinned in response. “Welcome home.”

**********

“If you keep making that face, it’s going to stick that way.” Clary commented, setting a stack of white towels on the small rack next to the door to the studio. Magnus sighed, looking up from where he was seated on the floor, leaning against the floor length mirror.

“You know that my face is going to be this flawless for eternity, Biscuit, don’t be absurd.” Clary lowered herself to flop beside him, her thin arms resting on her knees in a mirror of his position.

“What’s wrong, boss? Why the long face?”

“I’m worried.” Magnus said on an exhale.

“About?”

“Alexander. There was an NCIS agent that came in this morning during our lesson. They took him for questioning, something having to do with his brother. They didn’t say much else, but he looked pretty concerned when he left.”

“Has he called you or anything since?” Magnus shook his head. “You really care about this guy, don’t you?”

“I think I do. He’s…different than anyone I’ve ever met. Woolsey, Camille, they both used me to take care of what they needed, not what I needed. Alec…Alec actually seems to care about me. He’s a good man. One of the few genuinely good men I have ever encountered in my life.” Clary was quiet long enough that he continued talking. “I know that seems crazy, I’ve barely known him two months, and we’ve been on one date, but he really is a good man.”

“I know he is.” She smiled, leaning over to rest her head on his shoulder gently. “I know his sister, and I know that she wouldn’t be as close to him as she is if he wasn’t a good man. But, you let him know, if he hurts you he’s going to have a whole lot of angry ginger to deal with.”

“I’ll be sure to pass along the warning,” Magnus laughed loudly, turning his head to press a kiss to her forehead. He was about to suggest that they go for coffee when his phone began vibrating in his pocket. He nearly dropped it when he pulled it from his pocket, but he recovered quickly and pressed it to his ear. “Alexander?”

“Hey,” There was a loud exhale on the other end of the line and Magnus felt the tension drain from his body. “Sorry about this morning.”

“No apologies necessary. Is everything okay? I mean, that looked pretty serious.” Clary gestured that she was going to be at the desk if he needed her and left him by himself in the studio.

“Yeah, yeah, it was serious but I’m okay. They think that what happened to Jace was intentional. They don’t have a solid case yet, but they’re investigating.”

“What’s that mean? Is he safe here? Are you safe with him in the apartment?” Alec’s soft chuckle made him grin.

“Jace and I are both highly trained operatives, Magnus. If someone breaks into this apartment, we aren’t going to be the ones in trouble. Even if there is only a combined six limbs between us currently.”

“Well, that’s reassuring. I’ve got to do some research and find out where I can get a security system like that installed at my apartment.”

“Play your cards right and it may not be as difficult as you think.” Alec’s voice dropped an octave as he spoke, and Magnus’ stomach felt like he was in a freefall.

“Alexander, you tease.”

“Haven’t heard any complaints yet.”

“I don’t foresee that being an issue any time soon, either. Lord knows that I have to protect The Chairman.”

“Of course, The Chairman.” The smile was evident in Alec’s voice. “Listen, I’m going to have to take a rain check on dinner tonight. If that’s okay with you?”

“Alexander, you take care of what you need to. We have forever to have dinner, this is your family. Call me and we’ll reschedule. And I’ll see you in a few days for your lesson?” He hated how hopeful he sounded, but Alec’s response was immediate and without any room to question how sincere it was.

“I wouldn’t miss it.”

**********

The sound of gunfire around them was deafening, but the smile firmly planted on Jace’s face looked like something that belonged on a beach or at least a vacation destination.

“Who knew this was going to be such an exciting mission!”

“I think we need to reevaluate your understanding of the term exciting.” Alec popped over the cement barrier that they were ducked behind and fired off several rounds in the direction of the men shooting at them. He saw them connect before dropping back down.

“Nah, man, this gets the blood pumping. Keeps us moving.” Jace mirrored his actions and fired over the barrier, dropping down smoothly.

“These assholes are trying to pump you full of lead, and you’re having the time of your life. This is why Dad always said you were the crazy child.”

“Dad was just jealous that I was doing the shit he was too chicken to do.” Jace threw Alec a wink until the cement above his head shattered into dust. “I guess they figured out where we are, huh?”

“We gotta move.” Alec’s eyes scanned the room quickly until they landed on a nook in the cement walls. “There. Cover me, I’m going to move, then I’ll lay down cover for you to follow. Good?” Jace nodded and Alec was on his feet with a barked out ‘moving’.

He placed his rifle against his shoulder and started moving quickly, the sound of Jace’s fire behind him echoing off the walls. He’d made it to the wall quickly, and was about to shout for Jace to start moving when he felt hands moving around him and the ice cold metal of a gun barrel against his temple.

“Don’t move,” A voice snarled against his ear and the arm around his throat tightened. Jace’s eyes were wide with fear and his gun was leveled right at Alec.

“Jace, shoot him. C’mon.” Alec ground out. Jace shook his head slightly.

“I don’t have a shot.”

“So punch it through me, shoot this motherfucker!” Alec snapped, every muscle in his body tensed and quivering.

“Both of you, shut up!” The man holding Alec screamed.

“Fuck you.” The response was in unison and the man stammered, obviously caught off guard. Jace fired a shot toward the men that had gone suspiciously silent and he heard the scampering of boots on the cement floor.

“Jace, you’re wasting time. Just do it!”

“I’m not shooting you!” Jace's voice cracked on the statement, and Alec felt that deep in his gut.

“Jace, you shoot me or I’m kicking your ass as soon as I get out of this.”

“Son of a bitch,” Jace snarled before steadying the slight tremor in his hand. “I don’t want to hear shit about this next time we go home for Thanksgiving.”

The gun shot cracked out and Alec jerked back against the man holding him, a feral scream tearing from his throat.

He was out of the bed and rolling onto his knee before he was fully awake. The weight of the Sig that resided in his bedside table was grounding as he raised it out in front of him. He couldn’t see anything but the dirty cement ceiling in his field of vision, and the coppery smell of blood invaded his nostrils when he squeezed the trigger.

“Alec!” Jace’s scream shook him free of the vision and he saw Jace with both arms extended in front of him, his eyes wide with fear and his hair wild with sleep. Beside his head, there was a bullet hole in the wall of his bedroom. His bedroom. Back home. He was back home.

“Oh, fuck,” His chest started to heave, and he tasted acrid bile on the back of his tongue. Tears sprang to his eyes immediately, and he moved to set the gun on the floor, his finger instinctively leaving the trigger. “Jace, I’m sorry, I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

Jace was on the floor in front of him before he could turn the thought into a full one. His arms were around Alec, and he was clinging to his brother with a white-knuckled grip.

“I got you, Alec. It’s okay, I’m okay. We’re okay.” Jace babbled against Alec’s temple as Alec sobbed loudly against Jace’s bare shoulder. He hadn’t had a nightmare in weeks, and he hadn’t had one that vivid in months.

“I could’ve killed you…I almost killed you.” Alec’s voice was thin, and tearful as he spoke. He sounded like a scared child and he mentally cursed himself for being so damned pathetic about a little nightmare.

“You didn’t. I’m okay, I’m alive. Look, right here” Jace pried one of Alec’s hands free and pressed it to his chest so he could feel his heartbeat. “Still beating. C’mon, Alec. Come back to me, man.” His voice was a gentle whisper as if he was speaking to a spooked deer. “Tell me where we are, okay? Talk to me.”

“M’here, m’here.” Alec didn’t know if he was trying to convince himself or Jace. “I’m home.”

He tried his damndest to believe that he truly was.

Chapter Text

Alec didn’t get much sleep the rest of the night, and as he sat at the kitchen bar the next morning with bruised eyes as he sipped his coffee, he cursed the nightmares that plagued him. He was tired, and sore, and his leg hurt so bad that it felt like it was a new wound.

He’d texted Magnus around four that morning and told him that he wouldn’t be able to make the rescheduled class for that day without much explanation. The response had been obviously concerned, but Magnus, thankfully, had not pushed him on the matter.

Jace had ducked out (after Alec had repeatedly assured him that he was fine) to go meet up with Isabelle and their mother for breakfast. They hadn’t spoken about the fact that Alec had nearly killed Jace in the middle of the night.

He’d just convinced himself to get up and take a shower when there was a knock at the door. He froze, his fingers tightening to a white-knuckle grip on the cane that he was grasping. The knock came again a moment later and he limped slowly to the door, peering through the hole cautiously.

It was Magnus, looking suspiciously comfortable in black joggers and a loose heather gray sweatshirt. He had two coffees balanced precariously on top of one another in the hand that he hadn’t been using to knock. Alec steeled himself and opened the door.

“Magnus,” He breathed out, sounding more worn down than he had intended to. He felt his shoulders relax slightly under the weight of his tattered shirt.

“Alexander, you look terrible. Did you get any sleep?” He huffed, his eyes scanning over Alec quickly.

“How did you find out where I live?” He questioned, feeling a bit like he was in a daze. He leaned heavily on his cane and stepped to the side, inclining his head to gesture for Magnus to come in.

“I, uh,” Magnus smiled sheepishly as he stepped into the apartment, his hands tightening on the coffees as he put one in either hand. “May have used macarons to bribe it out of Isabelle when you texted this morning.”

“You know,” He closed the door and limped toward the couch, falling onto the worn cushions heavily. “Some people may consider that creepy.”

Magnus took a seat beside him and handed over one of the steaming paper cups once Alec had set the cane aside. He took the coffee gratefully, inhaling the scent with a muted groan.

“Are you one of those people?” Magnus questioned, his thumb running over the lip of his cup absently.

“Not if it comes with coffee, no.” Taking a large gulp, he barely winced at the heat that scorched over his tongue.

“Be careful, Alexander.” Magnus chastised, knocking his knee against Alec’s good one. “You…look like you’re sore today.”

Alec was quiet for a long moment, sipping his coffee slowly, before he nodded. He let his free hand drop to his leg, rubbing above the prosthetic gently.

“It’s always more sore on nights that I have a lot of nightmares or that I don’t sleep. Which are usually the same nights.” His voice was even as he spoke, but his shoulders were tensed.

“Is that why you couldn’t make our lesson? Or was there something else?” The question wasn’t accusing, which was something that Alec wasn’t used to. Even his family, as nice as they were and despite how much they loved him, tended to have a more accusing tone when they asked why Alec was backing out on something with them. His eyebrows crept toward his hairline in surprise.

“The nightmares were bad last night.” He paused for a moment. “I almost shot Jace.” Magnus’ hand settled heavily on Alec’s thigh to comfort him, and he felt the sudden urge to add, “Not on purpose, I didn’t mean to.”

“I know that, Alexander. I know that. What happened?” Alec sighed softly and went into the story of the night before, watching Magnus’ face through the whole story, gauging his reaction cautiously. The bejeweled fingers on his thigh tightened slightly when he finished the story. His hand was a scorching heat against Alec.

“He knows you didn’t mean it. And no one blames you for the nightmares, we all just wish that we could help.” He bobbed his head in a nod, taking a long drink of his coffee to save time before he had to answer.

“I haven’t had a nightmare like that in a while. Since we started dancing. Since,” He chewed at his lip, deciding if he wanted to continue. “Since I met you. You help me, you keep me centered.”

“I’m more than willing to be all those things if you continue to let me.”

“I want to. You make me want to.” There was a comfortable silence between them for a moment.

“Tell me about how you realized you were into…being dominant.” Alec barked out a laugh, some of the tension seeming to drain from him with the simple action.

“Well,” He stretched, moving his prosthetic further out in front of him by hooking the cane underneath it. He was surprised to find that there was no twinge of embarrassment about having to adjust it that way. “I don’t think it was really one thing, per say. It was a culmination of things.”

“Like what?” Magnus toed both of his shoes off and tucked his feet under himself on the couch. He leaned his head on his hand with his arm propped on the back of the couch and blinked expectantly. Alec felt warmth blossoming in his chest as he watched Magnus making himself comfortable in his home.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of control over what I did. My parents had everything planned out for us. We were supposed to graduate at the top of our class, go to law school, be exactly the same as they were. So, when I joined up they were pissed. Then I started climbing the ranks while I was in the teams, and I realized that I didn’t mind giving orders. Quite the opposite, actually, so I started researching. Met some…less than desirable people that knew a lot about the lifestyle.”

“Less than desirable sounds ominous.” Alec hummed in the affirmative.

“It wasn’t good. I learned a little about what I liked, and a lot about what I didn’t. ‘Safe, sane, consensual’ wasn’t exactly something that they held in very high regard, and it wasn’t something that I questioned. After that, I moved away from the idea of what the lifestyle should by that they tried to plant in my head, and I started seeing people during my shore leaves. There hasn’t been anyone for a very long time, though.”

“Why not?” Magnus’ voice was soft. Curious. Concerned.

“I hadn’t met anyone that I was interested in playing with, then…” He gestured vaguely at his leg. “This happened. I was too focused on healing and getting back to normal that I didn’t have any time to even think about it. But it…it’s like regaining my footing, no pun intended. It’s been the missing piece for so long that I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to fall back into it. Then I met you.” A grin slid across his face when a blush darkened the skin of Magnus’ cheeks further.

“I’m not happy about the circumstances that led to us meeting, but I am very glad that I met you, Alexander.”

“I’m glad we met, too.” Alec’s hand slid over the back over the couch until it found Magnus’ elbow, his fingers ghosting over the skin until a shudder ran through the other man. “Come closer.” His voice had dropped an octave.

Magnus moved easily and slid across the couch until he was pressed up against Alec’s side. Alec curled his arm up to trail his fingers through the gelled, styled hair atop Magnus’ head absently. He smirked when his pinky caught the upper edge of the man’s ear and Magnus sucked a breath through his teeth. He leaned forward until his lips brushed over the same spot.

“Ears, good to know.” Magnus’ answering groan was confirmation enough. “What else?” He prompted gently. He could feel the hesitation in the other man and saw the blush burning up his neck. He tutted softly, hooked his thumb under Magnus’ chin until he could lift it enough to trail chaste kisses over his jaw. “I’m asking you to show me, Magnus. Can you do that for me?”

“Here.” Magnus’ hand was shaking when he lifted it to point to his throat, just above his adam’s apple. Alec grinned and dropped his head to brush a kiss over the spot. Magnus whimpered but shook his head slightly. “No, um…” He made a frustrated noise low in his chest before grabbing Alec’s hand and placing his palm over the spot. Alec chuckled softly and curled his fingers around his throat with just enough pressure to feel the pounding pulse under warm skin.

“Well, now this was not what I expected.” He drew his thumb in a tight circle against the side of Magnus’ neck. “We’re going to use the stop light system here, okay? Green is good, yellow means back up some, red means stop. Does that work for you?” Magnus nodded slightly, his stubbled chin bouncing against Alec’s wrist. “Out loud. Let me hear you. What color are you at?” He punctuated the question with a slight squeeze of his fingers, making Magnus jolt as if he’d touched a live wire.

“Green. So green.” Magnus gasped out, his hips lifting off the couch slightly. “Please.”

“Good boy.” Alec’s voice was gruff when he spoke and he let his free hand hook around Magnus’ leg, shifting him until his good leg was wedged between Magnus’ and he could feel a distinct hardness against his thigh. Magnus’ hips were already working slightly against him. “You’re not going to use my hands or your own. The only help you’re going to get here is my thigh. Understood?”

“Yes, Alexander.”

“Good.” There was a brief moment of silence between them like the world had frozen before Alec arched an eyebrow and tightened his grip, the pulsing under his fingers thundering. “Get to work.”

That was all the encouragement that Magnus needed to start rolling his hips against Alec’s thigh in rough, almost desperate movements. He pressed his forehead to Magnus’ temple and murmured encouragement between the other man’s breathy whines and pleas. The gasped-out words sounded strained around the tight grip Alec had on his throat. The rough sound of his name falling from Magnus’ lips went straight to Alec’s core and he snarled out “mine” before he even realized what he was doing.

“I-I can’t…” Magnus keened, his hand going to clutch at Alec’s shirt tightly. “I’m close.”

“You can come for me whenever you’re ready. I’ve been waiting for the chance to see you come, don’t deny me that.” Magnus’ hips sped up incrementally and his rhythm got less coordinated. Alec knew it wouldn’t be long when the whimpers got higher in pitch and louder. The taut string of Magnus’ body felt like it was going to snap any moment.

“Hey, Alec, Mom wants to take us to lunch, do you want to—OH.” The door swung open on its hinges and Magnus and Alec shot apart like they’d been electrocuted. Jace was standing in the doorway, slack-jawed.

There was no hiding the beard burn on Magnus’ skin from Alec’s biting kisses, the wrecked state of Magnus’ hair, the obvious tent and damp spot on his sweatpants or, most noticeably, the red hand print that curled around Magnus’ throat like a neon sign.

“Jesus, Jace,” Alec snapped, his chest heaving slightly. “Don’t you knock?!”

“I’m sorry, man! I figured knocking on an apartment door that I have a key for would be overkill! I’ll just…I’m gonna go to lunch. And text before I come home. You kids have fun.” With that, Jace backed out of the door and closed it behind him. Alec’s head thumped softly when he dropped it back against the couch with a muttered “shit”.

“Your brother certainly knows how to kill a mood.” Magnus commented. His voice sounded thorough fucked out and Alec couldn’t help the surge of desire that pooled low in his stomach.

“Yeah, he’s always been good at that.” Alec grumbled, bringing up a hand to drag it over his face. “Probably a good thing, actually. We were dangerously close to breaking that three date rule. What would the Chairman think?” He teased. Magnus’ swatted his chest lightly, making Alec grin.

“I should go. Before this gets R-rated again.” Alec nodded, but his brow was furrowed. “I don’t want to go.” Magnus clarified.

“I don’t want you to go.” He agreed as he lifted his head, his gaze raking over Magnus. “But, if you don’t…” Magnus nodded frantically and stood from the couch. “Tomorrow night. Hell or high water. I’m coming to cook you that dinner. And we’re going to talk about your soft and hard limits. Be prepared for that conversation, it’ll make it much smoother for you. And the sooner we can get past that, the sooner I can tie you to my bed.”

If he hadn’t been so keyed up, Alec probably would’ve laughed at the way that Magnus high-tailed it out of his apartment, sputtering about “stupid, sexy SEALS” and adjusting the front of his slacks. Instead, he watched him go and allowed himself a moment to sulk about Jace’s terrible timing.

Sometimes he truly hated having siblings.

Chapter Text

“You’re getting soft on me in your old age,” Jace commented when he came home later that evening. Alec was standing in the kitchen, flour covering the front of his black t-shirt. He was scowling at the other man, trying his best to look intimidating while whisking the ingredients for cookie dough. He was a frustrated baker, something he’d unfortunately, inherited from his mother.

“I’m not getting soft. I’m beating the dough so I don’t beat you.”

“Would it help if I told you I feel really bad about that?” Jace questioned, moving to sit on the stool at the kitchen bar. He grabbed a long handled, wooden spoon and started trying to itch inside his cast. Alec swatted at him absently.

“Don’t itch. And no, it would not. Anyone ever tell you you’ve got the worst timing in the world?” He set the bowl aside and began balling the dough to set on the crinkled parchment paper on the pan in front of him.

“You’ve told me that once or twice. But, I really am sorry about being such a cockblock.”

“Don’t be crude.” Jace pulled a shrug and reached over to grab some of the cookie dough to pop it into his mouth. He yelped when Alec thwacked the back of his hand with the wooden spoon.

“Alright, alright. Sorry. So, when are you seeing him again?”

“I don’t know, I have to call him later.”

“I’d ask if you’ve gone traditional and waited for the third date, but I know the answer to that.”

“We haven’t slept together. Not officially, anyway.” Alec scowled when Jace’s eyebrows rose. “We haven’t.”

“Well, excuse me, then. This next date is the big one. Nervous?”

“I know you’re fucking with me, but, yeah. A little.” He couldn’t help the rapid images of men that hadn’t stuck around longer than the first time he’d slept with them that ran through his head. Most men found out his…preferences and hightailed it as soon as they’d gotten their jeans back on. Magnus was different, though.

Magnus knew what Alec liked and he was willing to work with it. Willing to learn. He let the images of Magnus with stark red satin ropes encasing the delicate bones of his wrists and ankles, the knots keeping him from squirming away from Alec’s insistent tongue and fingers until he had him beg--.

He snapped back to attention when Jace snapped his fingers in front of him.

“You’re going to drop that cookie dough if you don’t stop daydreaming.” Alec flopped the dough in his hand onto the pan. “I know your man is dreamy, but c’mon, Betty Crocker.” Alec leaned over to put the cookies into the preheated oven and wiped his hands on his shirt when he straightened back up.

“Guess who’s not getting any of these when they come out.” Jace’s eyes widened marginally as Alec walked from the kitchen, Jace hot on his heels.

“No, wait…”

********

“It’s good to see you, Alec. It’s been a while.” Simon’s grin was already starting to exhaust Alec. He bobbed his head slightly as he settled himself onto Simon’s couch. “How’ve you been? How’s the dance therapy going?”

“It’s good. I’m starting to get half-decent at it.” Alec pulled half a shrug, his hands laced on his lap.

“And Magnus? How’s that going? Is he…a good teacher?”

“Dude, I know you and Izzy have talked. You don’t have to play dumb. Despite how good you are at playing it.” He huffed. Simon took half a moment to look affronted.

“First of all, rude. Second of all, I’m really happy that you’ve hit things off with him. I had a feeling that you might.”

“But, I’m sure that had nothing to do with you suggesting that I go see him.” Alec raised an eyebrow as he spoke. He leaned enough to kick his feet up on the couch, wiggling just a bit to make himself comfortable.

“Well,” Simon leaned back in his own chair, crossing one leg over the other. “It…may have been a minor influence in the decision to suggest it, but I really did think that it was going to help with your recovery. And, obviously, it has. You seem happier.”

“I’ve been here for ten minutes, how can you even tell that?” His shoulders were creeping up toward his ears as Simon spoke, and he could feel his pulse quickening in his chest. He wasn’t sure why he was feeling so on edge about Simon talking about him and Magnus, but he felt like he wanted to crawl out of his skin.

“I mean in general, Alec, not just right now. Izzy and I have talked about it, and we haven’t seen you as happy as you have been since you two got together since you were on the teams.” He lifted his clipboard and made a note on the paper. The scratch of pen against paper had Alec’s skin crawling, and he felt like one big exposed nerve.

“Can we talk about something else?”

“Why? Talk to me about why you want to change the subject.” Simon gave him the curious look that he often did when he thought he was going to be able to make a break-through with Alec. He hated that look.

“I will literally talk about anything else, just…something else.” His voice sounded strained to his own ears, and his fingers were digging into the skin of his hands as he wrung them together. “Please.” The word was tacked on as almost an afterthought, and most people would have taken it as just that, however, Alec knew that Simon knew him better than that and he would see the word as exactly what it was. A genuine plea.

“Alright, okay, we won’t push on that particular subject. I want to come back to it, though. We need to figure out why it makes you so anxious. But, for now, I want to talk about how you feel with your father coming into town. What are you feeling?”

Alec’s blood turned to ice in his veins and he swallowed convulsively around the lump that had formed in his throat. He stared at Simon in a stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity before the other man cleared his throat.

“You…didn’t know that Robert was going to be back in town, did you?”

“This is news to me, yes.” He spoke slowly, sarcasm dripping off the words as he uttered them.

“Izzy was going to have Jace tell you last night, but he obviously forgot to mention that.”

“Something else came up last night. Must’ve slipped his mind. How long do I have before he gets here?”

“Tonight. He’s going to be getting back from a trip with his…secretary and then he’ll be coming to Izzy’s to talk to your mother. Or, well, I mean…he’s going to try to talk to her, anyway.” Alec stood, ignoring the scorch of pain through his leg and started toward the door.

“Tell Iz that I’ll see her tonight and tell Mom not to worry.”

He shut the door to Simon’s office before the man could respond.

**********

“Alec. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen you. I didn’t realize that you were going to be here tonight.” Robert’s voice was light, and he was obviously going to pretend like there wasn’t a six-ton elephant in the room.

He’d gotten to Izzy’s a few hours early and had sent his mother off with Izzy for the evening. As far as he knew, they were going to be going to dinner and then taking a walk through the park. He was going to have to ensure that Robert was out before they returned.

“What are you doing here, Dad? There’s nothing that any of us have to say to you.” He could feel Jace’s presence at his back like a grounding force, though the other man was silent. “It’s going to be better for all of us if you turn around, walk out of here, sign the papers when Mom sends them over, and don’t bother her ever again. Or, any of us, for that matter.”

“I know that someone like you probably can’t comprehend why I’ve done what I have, and I can’t begin to explain it, but I need to speak with your mother.”

“What the hell do you mean ‘someone like me’?” Alec snarled, taking a step closer, his fists balled at his sides.

“Oh, come on, Alec. You know that people of your…persuasion don’t have to deal with relationship issues because they don’t settle down. Leave this to me and your mother, and we won’t have any problems. We haven’t had any issues with your sexuality thus far. Don’t make them start now because you feel like you need to be her white knight.” Robert let out a dismissive laugh. “Honestly, do you think she feels any better than I do about having a son with such deviant behaviors? You can’t even begin to imagine the trouble that has caused us over the years.”

His stomach churned as Robert spoke like it was just a statement of fact that Alec couldn’t ever know what he was talking about. Couldn’t ever experience love and a relationship. Magnus’ face flashed in his mind like a brand on his memories. He’d always known that there was an unspoken anger between his parents about him coming out, but hearing his father call the way he loved “deviant”? He was fairly certain he was going to throw up all over Izzy’s nice floor.

“You’re a real piece of work, you know that? Get out. Get the fuck out, don’t contact us again, and don’t try to contact Mom. You’ll get the divorce papers soon. Sign them and fuck off.” He spoke quietly, his voice barely above a whisper. He couldn’t help the slow burn of tears that hung in the back of his throat, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to let them spill over.

Robert let out a sigh, waved his hand dismissively, and left the apartment. As soon as the door shut behind him, Alec began sucking in ragged, choked breaths. Jace’s hand touched his back and, for the first time in years, Alec pulled away like he’d be burned.

“Don’t touch me.” He rasped out. He could feel himself spiraling out of control, no matter how hard he was trying to get a handle on it and regain some semblance of metal stability. “I need to go. Tell Izzy…everything.”

Jace’s voice was muffled behind the slamming of Izzy’s apartment door as Alec made a beeline for the elevator.

He needed to see Magnus. Now.

When the elevator reached the penthouse, Alec strode shakily to Magnus’ door and pounded on it until it opened, revealing a slightly disheveled looking Magnus. He blinked in confusion at Alec, concern written across his handsome face.

“Alexander?”

“I need you.” Alec inwardly cursed how pathetic he knew he sounded when he uttered the statement, but he quickly shoved it away. This was Magnus. His Magnus.

Magnus took half a step back and gestured for Alec to come inside with a sweep of his arm.

“Of course, whatever you need. Is everything okay?” Magnus closed the door behind him and it immediately felt like a partial weight had been pulled off his shoulders as soon as it was just him and Magnus.

“My father showed up. To speak to my mother.”

“Oh, Alec…did he speak with her?”

“No. He spoke to me about what a deviant I am. Because I’m gay.” He couldn’t help the bitterness that was leeched into the words when he finally spoke them after a long silence. “It made me panic. Like I wasn’t in control of my own emotions. I don’t like being out of control. You were the first person that came to my mind, and I just…I knew I needed you.” Magnus crossed the floor and cupped Alec’s face with a tenderness that absolutely shattered Alec’s heart with just that touch.

“Tell me what you need from me. Anything you want, and I mean anything, it’s yours. How can I make you forget what an asshole that man is?” Alec paused for a moment, considering, before he made up his mind and took half a step back. He straightened his shoulders and his eyes hardened with a heat that spread through his whole body.

“On your knees.” Magnus sank down easily, barely wincing when his kneecaps hit the bare floor. Alec stretched out his arms with a slightly shake and looked down at the beautiful, trusting man that had gone to his knees for him without a second thought. “Are we ready?” Magnus peered up at him through half-lidded eyes and ran his tongue over his positively mesmerizing bottom lip to dampen it.

“Yes, Alexander.”

Chapter Text

“Stand and strip.” Alec’s voice was far steadier than he felt with his pulse thundering in his veins. Magnus was looking at him with so much trust and affection that it made his chest tight.

He held out a hand so that Magnus could grab it and helped him to his feet slowly. His fingers trailed over Magnus’ arms, his hazel eyes tracked the wave of goosebumps that trailed up the other man’s arms in the wake of his fingers. The grin that crawled across his face was slow and lascivious.

“Are you nervous?” He spoke the question just above a whisper. Magnus nodded slightly as he shrugged out of his dark shirt. Alec’s eyes trailed over the smooth, bare expanse of skin in front of him and he let a pleased growl rumble through his chest. He took a step closer and trailed his index finger down Magnus’ sternum, feather-light. “I’m going to take good care of my boy. I’ve got you. Do you trust me?”

“I trust you, Alexander. Please.” The whimpered plea made Alec’s hips flex instinctively and he moved his hand to curl over Magnus’ throat, his thumb dragging down over his Adam’s apple.

“Patience. You’re going to work for it, and I’m not going to make this easy. Do you understand?” Magnus nodded, his teeth digging into his lower lip. Alec flexed his fingers just barely before his hand moved to settle on Magnus’ shoulder. “Turn around for me.” Magnus moved easily, spinning on his heel and facing away from him. Alec stepped forward to press his chest to Magnus’ back, his hands moving over the other man’s sides. “Good boy.” The words were a warm exhale against Magnus’ ear.

“I can be. I’m your good boy.” The babbling had started earlier than Alec had expect and it caused a shark smile to slide across his face.

“That’s right, you are.” Alec dropped his deft fingers to flick the button on Magnus’ jeans easily. “I think it’s about time we got rid of these.” Alec worked his fingers under the waistband and pushed the denim over his hips with a flick of his fingers. Magnus shifted to step out of them and kicked the jeans to the side. A shiver went through him at the chill in the air.

Alec let his eyes rove over the man in front of him, his gaze tracked over the knobs of Magnus’ spine and the sharp cut of his hips and his mouth went dry.

“You’re beautiful.” He breathed out, dropping his head to drag his lips in a heated kiss over the back of Magnus’ neck. His teeth grazed the same spot and he tasted sweat, and skin, and Magnus. “Tell me what you want.”

“I want you to ruin me. Make me yours. Let the whole world know who I belong to.” His teeth sank into the back of Magnus neck hard enough that he almost felt bad until he heard the whimper of his name and Magnus’ hand was in his hair, tugging almost painfully.

“Turn around, Magnus. Let me see you.” He snarled out, his chest heaving slightly. Magnus turned around to face him and Alec’s hands were yanking the other man to him for an almost violent kiss. Teeth met tongue and swollen lips and they were kissing like they were both absolutely starved for it.

Alec dropped his hands to hook behind Magnus’ thighs and he was lifting him easily. Magnus’ legs hooked around his waist without hesitation or a break in the kiss. Alec pointedly ignored the dull ache that settled low in his leg, choosing instead to nip at Magnus’ lower lip between ragged breaths. They pulled apart, their eyes dark when they met. They both already looked absolutely wrecked.

“Bed, Alexander, take me to bed.” Alec nodded in response and started toward the bedroom. He made it through the apartment with only a few stumbles and carefully laid Magnus on the plum colored bedspread. The miles of tanned skin that was stretched across the bed was such a stark contrast that it made his head spin a bit.

“My god, how did you get so perfect?” He exhaled the words as he tugged his shirt over his head. He dropped the offending fabric on the floor and stepped forward until he was standing between Magnus’ knees.

“You’re one to talk. Look at you. That’s what you’ve been hiding under all those tshirts? That’s simply criminal, Alexander.” Magnus gestured at him and Alec felt the familiar curl of anxiety low in his stomach.

He was well toned, he knew that, but it was everything else that always had him shying away from the gaze of his lovers.

There were angry pink scars that curled around his ribs where the shrapnel from the IED had ripped through his flesh like butter, and indents in his skin from where scars had faded, but his skin had never fully mended. He’d done his best to cover the scars with tattoos, the blue and green and black ink covered his skin like plate armor.

“Do you have a tie?” He questioned, skirting the comment from Magnus. He followed Magnus’ raised hand to open the top drawer of the dresser and pulled three silk ties of various colors from the drawer. “Scoot up toward the headboard for me.” He heard the sound of Mangus moving up the bed before he turned, watching him get into position. Alec grinned at him, running the silk through his fingers slowly like water.

He started at Magnus’ ankles and trailed his fingers along each of his limbs, causing the man below his hands to squirm. He thumb graze over Magnus’ nipples as he passed his hands over the man’s chest. He jerked as if he’d been electrocuted and gasped out a breath.

“Easy. Deep breaths.” Alec’s voice had dropped nearly a full octave and was barely above a rough whisper. His long fingers curled around Magnus’ wrist, lifting it toward the headboard and encircling it in emerald silk. The knot was easy, familiar, and he tightened it just enough to restrain movement, but not tight enough to hurt before attaching the other end to one of the deep red slats of the headboard.

He moved to the other side of the bed and repeated the action with royal blue silk, the drag of the soft fabric made Magnus shudder. Once he finally had the tie fastened in place, he took the final one and held it up in front of him, making sure to telegraph his movements as he went in case Magnus’ needed him to stop. When he didn’t make a move to, Alec fastened the tie over Magnus’ eyes, plunging the other man into darkness.

“We’re going to use the traffic light system. Green means you’re good to go, yellow means we’re pushing the comfortability limit and red means stop. If you need to say red, I’m going to stop immediately, but I’m not going to leave you. It’s important to me that you understand that. Do you understand?” Magnus nodded empathically. “What color are you at now?”

“Green. So green.”

“Good boy. Now, normally I’d be making you see how long you could hold off for me, but we’ve waited long enough, don’t you think?”

Yes.” The breathed-out affirmation almost made Alec chuckle, but the way that Magnus arched up toward him, baring his throat like an offering, tamped down on the instinctive reaction.

“Instead, I’m going to help you take the edge off. But, I need you to keep these,” Alec tapped his long fingers along either side of Magnus’ hips as he settled on the bed between his thighs. “Still for me. You move your hips, I stop. Clear?” Magnus nodded slightly. Alec responded with a gentle bite to one of his hips. “I need to hear you.”

“C-clear.”

That was all Alec needed to hear before he was drawing his tongue over the vein on the underside of Magnus’ cock. The whimpered moan in response was all of the encouragement he needed to close his lips over the head and slide them all the way to the base. He could feel the tightening of Magnus’ muscles under his fingertips, but his hips stayed firmly planted on the bed.

He was merciless with his onslaught as he bobbed his head, his cheeks hollowed. The litany of Magnus’ groans filled his ears like the most incredible symphony, but when he dropped his hand back to brush his thumb over Magnus’ entrance, his hips jerked forward, burying himself into Alec’s throat. He pulled back, his lips swollen and slick, and he glanced up to see Magnus straining against his restraints, his chest heaving as if he’d been running a marathon.

“Nonononono, please, please don’t stop.” Magnus practically sobbed, his voice sounding shredded from the volume of his moans.

“I told you I was going to stop if you couldn’t keep still.” Alec pressed his thumb to his entrance again, circling it absently. “Are you ready to keep still? Can you behave for me?”

“I can, I promise, I’ll be good. I, ah,” Magnus let out a keening whine when Alec applied more pressure. “I’ll be your good boy, just please…please let me come.”

“Well, now how can I deny manners like that?” He grinned and blew cool air across the spit-slicked skin of Magnus’ tip, watching his cock bob in response, before leaning forward to swallow him back down.

Alec redoubled his efforts mercilessly, listening to Magnus’ whimpers and pleas as they got progressively less collected. Even with listening to the man above him, it caught him off guard when Magnus cried out loudly, his hips jerking forward as he spilled down Alec’s throat.

He just barely managed not to sputter and swallowed convulsively, rolling his tongue over the heated skin until Magnus gasped out “too much” with the oversensitivity that had overtaken him. He pulled back to survey the sight in front of him, grinning at the mess of a man that was under his hands.

“Good boy.” He purred softly, reaching a hand up to pull the blindfold from Magnus’ eyes. He blinked slowly at Alec, a soft groan falling from his lips when he saw the state that Alec was in with his swollen, red lips and messy hair.

“You didn’t…” Magnus glanced down at the very obvious bulge of Alec’s erection that was still trapped in his jeans. Alec’s answering grin was purely predatory.

“Oh, don’t you worry about that. We’re just getting started. I’m going to have you shaking and begging for me to fuck you by the time this night is over.” Alec dropped a hand to adjust his own jeans, his fingers putting just enough pressure to tease himself. “Color?”

“Green. Show me what you’ve got, Sailor.”

Chapter Text

The coffee shop was loud. It should have been far more distracting than it was, but Alec’s mind was going a million miles an hour. He lifted the small mug to his lips and inhaled the scent of the curling tendrils of steam. It was warm and damp against his skin.

Magnus’ breath came is soft pants against the crook of his neck. The whimpers of his name mingled with pleas to keep going. He could practically hear the sound of the seams popping on his ties as Magnus strained against them.

He leaned back slightly in his seat, his back cracking satisfyingly as he did, and took a bite of the pretzel roll that he had on the plate in front of him. The salt exploded flavor on his tongue, making him salivate as he chewed.

His tongue curled over the tip of Magnus’ nearly purple, straining tip. The taste of him was overwhelming and invaded all of his senses as it spread across his tongue.

“Alexander, please.” Had come the gasped out request. “I need to touch you. Please, I’ve been good.”

His teeth practically ached as he continued chewing. He knew where he wanted to be and it absolutely was not in a coffee shop, waiting to meet up with Whitelaw. He would much rather be in Magnus’ apartment, laying that gorgeous, lithe body across every surface until Magnus couldn’t remember his own name.

Magnus’ skin between his teeth felt like something that he had been waiting to find for his entire life. The taste of sweat, and skin, and desperation paired with smooth, warmth that was strictly Magnus was perfection. Alec’s head was swimming with everything about him, and he felt like he was an addict that was chasing a high at a thousand miles an hour.

There was a slight ache in his muscles as he shifted on the uncomfortable seat of the booth. It had been far too long since he’d used most of the muscles he’d used the night before. Jace would punch his arm and tell him to stretch next time if he knew the situation that Alec was in.

If tasting Magnus was perfection, slipping inside him had been like coming home. Alec had taken longer than he would ever cop to to compose himself before he’d started moving. As much as Magnus had begged and whimpered for it, he kept his pace torturously slow. His hands had been shaking slightly when he reached up to slip the knots on the ties around Magnus’ wrists. Needy hands were in his hair before he had a chance to ask for them. Magnus really was good.

Alec was well practiced at hiding from the gazes of passer’s by. It was something that the Teams had taught him. Blend. He was sure that he wasn’t even a blip on the radar of anyone in the coffee shop.

Magnus was watching him. Magnus was always watching him, but the weight of his gaze as Alec’s hips snapped forward in an aggressive rhythm with his own was something undefinable. He looked at him like Alec was the most incredible thing that he had ever seen. Like he trusted him so completely that it was enough to make Alec’s heart break.

There was so much in that look. Too much. The curl of affection and something else that he couldn’t put a name to that heated his chest had been enough to push him over the edge. Magnus’ arms had gone around him instinctively to hold him in place when he’d shattered apart inside him. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt that vulnerable and that secure in the same moment.

“Lightwood.” He looked up and his eyes met Whitelaw’s. He didn’t bother standing. Whitelaw dropped into the seat across from him, folding his hands on the table in front of himself. “We’ve been continuing our investigation into the situation with your brother.”

“And?” Alec arched a brow and tried to make it as clear as possible that he wasn’t interested in playing the game that the other man was trying to.

“We’ve got nothing. Morgenstern isn’t talking, but…there’s something about the kid that isn’t sitting right with me. I’m trying my damnedest to lean on him.”

“I don’t know what that’s got to do with me. Why did you want to meet?” Alec questioned, his arms crossing over his chest.

“How do you feel about coming to talk to him? Maybe seeing if you can’t scare a little more information out of him?”

“What makes you think that he’s going to talk to me? I’ve never met the kid.”

“Because he said he wants to talk to you. Simple as that.” Alec’s eyes narrowed skeptically.

“And you’re all going to just…let that happen? What are you doing, bringing him here?” Whitelaw shook his head slightly.

“No. Our intention is to fly you to the base they are currently stationed at, have you speak with him, and then fly you back.”

“When do I leave? There are some arrangements I’ll need to make.”

“Forty-eight hours.” Alec nodded and swallowed down the rest of his espresso.

“I guess I better get moving then, hadn’t I?” He dropped his hand down to knock against his prosthetic. “This thing is a bitch to get through TSA.” Whitelaw scoffed and stood, slipping the, frankly, stereotypical aviators onto his face.

“We’ll be in touch with the plans for your flight, Lightwood. Be ready.” Alec stood, shook the other man’s hand, and watched him go, pointedly ignoring the feeling of concern roiling in his gut. It was only after Whitelaw’s frame had disappeared into the crowd outside that he pulled his phone from his jeans and dialed Magnus’ number.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.” Magnus’ voice was ragged panting against his ear and Alec quirked a brow.

“Am I interrupting? I can call back if you’re having some alone time. Or, better yet, I can get to the loft in twenty.” There was a gentle teasing in his voice.

“As if I wouldn’t have made you aware that that’s what I was doing.” Came the scoffed reply. “I’m doing yoga.” Magnus had a rare day off and hadn’t been awake yet when Alec had gotten the message from Whitelaw to meet him at the coffee shop. It had taken more than all of his will power to pull himself out of Magnus’ bed.

Even the Chairman had protested him leaving, rather loudly, but that hadn’t woken Magnus.

“Oh, well, namaste, then. Shirtless yoga, I hope.”

“Is there any other kind of yoga, Alexander?” Magnus’ voice had dropped another octave and Alec could practically hear him waggling his eyebrows.

“Behave.” He warned, just loud enough for Magnus to hear him. The sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line let him know that it had the desired effect.

“How did the meeting with Whitelaw go?”

“That’s actually why I’m calling,” Alec shouldered open the door and stepped out of the coffee shop. “He wants me to go to the base that Jace was stationed at to question this kid.”

“Seriously? How long do you have before you have to go?”

“Forty-eight hours. Give or take. He said be ready, so I'm leaning towards sooner rather than later. The government is slow in everything except when it's not their time on the line.”

“Do you know how long you’re going to be gone?” Alec held up his freehand to flag down a taxi, sliding into the backseat and mumbling his address to the driver.

“I don’t know. Hopefully not long.”

“I hope not. I,” Magnus hesitated, and Alec fought the urge to fill the short silence between them before he spoke again. “I’ll miss you.” Alec’s grin was, he was sure, nothing short of completely smitten.

“I’ll miss you too. But, I plan to see you before I leave. I want to have dinner tonight at the loft. I’ll cook. I have to pack today, but I wanted to see if you’d be free.”

“Of course,” There was a soft rustling of papers on the other end of the line. “I have some lessons, but I’m going to move them. I want to spend whatever time I can with you. Six o’clock?”

“That’s perfect. I’ll pick up what I need to make dinner and I’ll see you then.”

“Until this evening, my Alexander.” There was only a slight air of teasing to the statement.

“Oh, and Magnus?” A soft, almost distracted ‘hmm?’ answered him. “I’d really appreciate getting a view of that yoga outfit tonight.” The responding laugh was breathy and intoxicating. Alec wasn't shocked to find that he was a little light-headed with the sound of it. Magnus had that effect on him more often than not.

"Your command is my wish, Alexander."

"I don't think that's how that saying goes, you know."

"Oh, trust me," Magnus paused, letting the weight of his words hang in the silence. "I have wished on every single star that I've seen since meeting you that you'd give me more of those commands." Alec's face hurt from the strength of his grin.

"That's my good boy."

*********

Jace was smashing buttons on Alec’s Playstation controller uselessly with his good hand when he dropped his keys on the kitchen island. His tongue was caught between his teeth in concentration as he tried valiantly to keep up with the demand of the small, digital car on the screen. Alec stifled a laugh when the car promptly took a dive off of the side of the track and plummeted through the air.

“I know I’m not one to talk but being down a limb does kinda hinder your dexterity for Mario Kart.” Jace scoffed, but it was quickly replaced by a groan of frustration.

“Damn it. My first R&R in ages and I can’t even play a video game.” Alec flopped himself on the couch beside his brother.

“It’s tragic. I don’t know how you’ll make it through.” His voice was flat as he responded, his gaze not wavering under the answering glare. “I met with Whitelaw again today.” Jace leaned forward to set the controller on the coffee table, replacing it with his coffee mug.

“Yeah? What’d he want? We already told him everything we know about Morgenstern.” He sipped his coffee, wincing when the liquid scorched his tongue.

“He wants me to fly to the base he’s stationed at and question him.” Jace’s eyebrow went up instinctively.

“Morgenstern? Why? You’ve never met the guy, why would they want you to talk to him?”

“That’s what I said. But, I guess he told them that he only wants to talk to me. Any idea what that might mean?” Jace was quiet for a moment before he finally pulled a shrug.

“Nope. I’ve got nothing. That’s…really weird. How long do we have until we go wheels up?”

“We? Jace, you know that if they didn’t invite you, you can’t come with us. That’s not how this works.” Jace stood, cracking his back calmly. His gaze was determined when it met Alec's and he knew that look all too well. Jace was going to be coming with him, come hell or high water.

“If they want you to do this, they’re going to let me come. Two go in, two come out, remember?” It was a rendition of the pact that they’d made when they were kids with Izzy. Of course he remembered. He simply nodded. “Good. So, how long do I have to pack?”

“Forty-either hours.”

“Perfect.” He started toward his room when Alec called out to him.

“I’m going to Magnus’ for dinner tonight, by the way. You’re on your own for food.” Jace simply smirked at him as he walked backwards toward the room.

“Go get ‘im, tiger.” Alec rolled his eyes, but he was grinning all the same. "My little Alec is going to kiss a handsome boy."

“That’s the plan.” Jace clasped his hands over his chest.

“Why, Lieutenant Lightwood! Scandalous, before marriage?!”

Alec’s shoe flung through the air, but Jace was faster and the shoe struck the wood of the door with a resounding thud. He rolled his eyes and rubbed his palms on the legs of his jeans. He needed to pack, and he needed to get things ready for dinner. It had to be perfect.

He needed to talk to Magnus.

Chapter Text

“Hey.” Magnus’ grin was almost blinding when Alec strode into the loft, grocery bags clutched in each hand. He had to mirror the action, grinning at him as he set the bags down and stopped in front of Magnus, his hands settling on the other man’s hips.

“Hey, yourself.” He leaned for a kiss, his lips grazing over Magnus’ in slow drags. He managed to stop himself before he let the kiss get out of hand. But, just barely.

“What’s for dinner, sailor?” Magnus questioned when they parted.

“I got stuff to make my mother’s lasagna.” Alec’s hand distractedly went to cup Magnus’ cheek, his thumb brushed across his lower lip. “Have I mentioned that I’m going to miss you?” Magnus hummed softly, his hands going to rest on Alec’s chest.

“You have, but I don’t mind hearing it again.” His voice was quiet when he spoke, as if he was afraid to break the tension that was starting to build in the space between them. Alec leaned to brush his nose over Magnus’ lightly, teasingly.

“I have something for you.”

“Oh?”

“Mhm. It’s a little…” Alec shook his head slightly, leaning back enough to slip his hand under his shirt collar. “It seems a little high school ring, but just…go with it. For me.” He tugged a chain over his head swiftly with a clink of metal and held his hand out to Magnus.

From his fingers hung his dog tags, swaying slightly. Magnus’ eyes settled on them for a long moment before he reached his hand to take them.

“Why, Alexander,” Alec could hear the telltale indication that Magnus was going to try to use some humor to dispel the weight of the moment that hung in the air, but there was something else in his tone, too. Something that made the words quiver on his lips. “If you wanted to give me something to wear around my neck and show this world I’m yours, I can think of a few creative options.”

“Someone’s been using Google too much, I see.” Alec teased, his hand dropping back to Magnus’ hips. “You want a collar, you earn it. That’s going to mean we need to talk more, by the way, there’s some hefty discussion that goes along with that. For now, though, I want you to wear my dog tags. It’s a military thing.”

“I know that much, I’ve heard of it. Just never imagined that I would get to be one of the people wearing them.” He ducked his head and slipped the chain over it easily. “They’re warm.”

“I haven’t taken them off since I left the hospital after my leg.”

“Why are you doing it now?” The question was immediate, but so honest that it shook him a little.

“Because I found someone that I trust enough to hold onto them for me.”

Magnus stared.

He stared long enough that Alec was a little worried that he’d stepped over a line. Too much, too soon. It was his downfall, he tended to overcommit before anyone else did, and he was already cursing himself in his mind when Magnus finally spoke.

“How did I go all these years without finding you?”

“Classified.” Alec’s grin spread slow and wide when Magnus’ eyes narrowed. His hands slid to hook under Magnus’ thighs. His voice dropped lower as he spoke, “What do you say we have a late dinner and I take you back to bed so I can see what those dog tags look like when they’re the only thing you’re wearing?”

“Oh, you read my mind.” The little hop that he gave drew a laugh from Alec, but he caught him easily and pulled Magnus’ legs around his waist. “This doesn’t…your leg is alright like this, right?” Alec braced himself for the flare of anxiety and shame that usually followed mention of his leg. He was shocked when it never came.

“It’s totally fine. Little sore, but I’m golden. Think about moving and you’ll end up over my knee.” The last statement was spoken with a scrape of his teeth against Magnus’ jaw. He started toward the bedroom when he got a broken groan in response.

After a few near misses when the Chairman decided to dart between his feet, Alec made it to the bedroom, pushed the door open and turned to press Magnus’ back against it to close it.

“Cat was trying to come in. While I appreciate an audience now and then,” He spoke against Magnus’ neck, tracing the small beads of sweat that had started there with his lips. “I would rather not traumatize the Chairman with what I’m about to do to his dad.”

“Alexander,” Magnus gasped out, his body rolling languidly when Alec’s teeth closed over his Adam’s apple. “Not really the time for the cute game with my cat. Less cute, more naked.”

“Making demands now, are we? Dangerous move for someone who’s looking to get off at some point this evening, Mister Bane.” Alec teased, pulling back to arch an eyebrow. Magnus whined and his eyes widened slightly. He couldn’t deny that Magnus had the puppy eyes down to a beautiful art form.

“You wouldn’t…” He mumbled softly. Alec turned and dropped him onto the bedspread. Magnus bounced lightly, catching himself on his elbows.

“You sure those are the dice you wanna roll tonight?” He dropped his hands to slip his belt from the loops of his jeans easily. The leather was soft and warm between his fingers.

“No,” Magnus mumbled, his eyes trained on the belt. “I’m not going to roll those dice. I would, however, like to roll that dice.” He lifted a hand to point toward the leather in Alec’s hands. “How do you want me? And is that going to hurt?” Alec chuckled softly.

“Easy, I do want to circle back to that idea, that’s not what this is for. This is going to go here,” He extended a hand to tap at Magnus’ wrists. “You’ll be able to move your arms, but your wrists are going to be together. Color on that?”

“Green.” Magnus’ response was eager, and he already had his hands extended. Alec grinned.

“You need to strip for me first, then sit on the end of the bed, hands on your thighs.”

Magnus practically tore himself out of his clothes, it was fast enough that Alec’s eyebrows crept up toward his hairline in surprise. He sat himself on the edge of the bed and settled his hands onto his thighs.

“Now what?” Magnus questioned, his eyes glittering with excited curiosity.

Alec lifted his shirt over his head, tossing it to the side. Magnus’ eyes dropped down to stare openly.

“I love these.” He said, his hand reaching to trail over the tattoos that curled around his body. “They’re very…you. Especially this one.” His fingers paused on the sharp lines of the Trident on Alec’s bicep.

He stayed still for longer than he planned to before his hand went to the button of his jeans. The night before had been enough of a rush that he hadn’t even managed to get out of his jeans until they’d been settling in for bed. The lights had been off. Magnus hadn’t been able to see him.

He inhaled deeply before he slipped his jeans over his hips. They pooled around his feet and he stepped out of them carefully. Magnus’ eyes stayed trained on his, but they weren’t full of pity like most people that he was with gave him. They were understanding and caring.

“You can look.” His voice was steady and low. Magnus reached out and held onto one of his hands when his gaze dropped. Alec knew how his leg looked, knew that it was scarred and red, knew that the tattoos that he’d gritted his teeth through getting inked into his skin didn’t even hide the ridges of twisted scar tissue.

“You’re beautiful, Alexander. All of you.” His stomach felt like it did a flip when he lifted his gaze to meet Magnus’ again. He took a moment to regain his composure before he straightened up some. Alec hooked his thumbs under the band of his briefs, pushed them over his hips and kicked them aside.

“I’ve got a better idea for the belt.” Moving to sit on the edge of the bed, he removed his prosthetic. It took a moment for him to realize that the feeling that usually accompanied the removal of it wasn’t going to happen. “Turn around, back to me.” Magnus complied without question and Alec pulled both of his hands behind his back, looping the belt around the wrists and tightening them enough to keep his wrists bound. “You’re going to ride me.” Magnus choked out a moan at that.

Alec shifted until his back hit the pillows, making sure that he was sitting up enough to see Magnus. He knew that he wasn’t going to want to miss this. He watched intently as Magnus began moving up the bed. His dog tags were shining against Magnus’ tanned chest and he felt a swell of warmth in his chest. His. Magnus was his.

He moved to straddle Alec, settling onto his hips gracefully. Alec shot him a grin, his hands trailing up the inside of Magnus’ legs teasingly.

“Did you do what you were told today? Are you using it?” He kept his voice low. Magnus had a blush that crept up his chest and he nodded. Alec slipped his hand to find Magnus’ entrance. His fingers met silicone and he smirked, gently pulling at the silicone until the plug slipped free. Magnus’ gasp was music to his ears. “So perfect.”

Magnus smiled shyly, his hips shifting enough to draw his entrance over Alec’s erection teasingly. The snarl that tore from his chest was just shy of feral and he gripped Magnus’ hips hard enough that he was certain there would be bruises in the shapes on his fingers on his hips.

“Alexander,” Magnus breathed out, his eyes fluttering. “Please, just get inside me.” Alec normally would have given him a swat to the ass for making demands, but he couldn’t deny the fact that he’d been waiting for this since he’d stepped out of the loft that morning. Really, he’d been waiting for it since he’d stepped into the dance studio.

He shifted his hips until he sunk into Magnus at an agonizingly slow pace. Coming home. This was the feeling that he’d been trying to find since he’d woken up in the hospital in the middle of the fucking desert.

He cursed under his breath when he started to move gently. Magnus looked like a god in the low light of the bedside lamp with his teeth clamped onto his lower lip, his back arched, and his eyes closed with the lashes fanned out on his cheekbones like delicate lace. The stretch of his arms behind his back made his chest arch forward, his body jolted with each thrust of Alec’s hips. He gave a muffled groan through his clenched teeth.

“I want to hear you. Don’t hide that from me.” He almost whispered the words, his voice shaking. He was closer than he wanted to be, but he couldn’t bring himself to care when Magnus ground down against him and cried out his name loudly enough that a part of his brain worried that it may travel through the building.

“Alec,” Magnus choked out, his arms straining against the belt. “Touch me, please? I need you.” And, really, who was he to deny him that?

He closed his hand around Magnus’ straining cock, stripping it with smooth flicks of his wrist in time with each snap of his hips. The groans were coming at a steady pace, and Alec could feel the muscles in his stomach clenching as he neared the edge. He went through every concentration technique that the teams had taught him to keep himself from losing it when Magnus whimpered out “please, don’t go”.

It only took a few moment before Magnus fell apart under his hands, his body curling forward as he cried out and spilled over Alec’s fist. He kept up the pace of his strokes until Magnus was whining and trying to squirm away. It only took a few more messy thrusts of his hips before Alec stilled, his breath coming in chopped gasps as his orgasm overtook him.

They were both silent as Alec removed the belt from Magnus’ wrists. Magnus practically collapsed forward and would have face-planted if Alec hadn’t caught him.

“Easy, baby.” The term of endearment slipped from his mouth before he could stop it, but he couldn’t be bothered to care when Magnus simply purred in response and nuzzled his face into the side of Alec’s neck. They both gasped out quietly when Alec slipped from his entrance.

Alec rolled away, leaning over the edge of the bed to grab for his shirt. Magnus’ hand on his back startled him.

“No, stay, please.” His voice was still dazed, but there was an edge to it that made Alec’s heart clench.

“I’m just grabbing this to clean us up.” He held the shirt up to show Magnus before using it to wipe his hand and gently clean Magnus’. Once they were both as clean as they were going to get without a shower, he tossed the shirt back to the floor, and rolled back to lay his head on the pillow next to Magnus’.

He reached out a hand to brush a wayward lock of hair off of Magnus’ forehead, looking into the sleepy eyes that were staring at him. He grinned, his hand dropping to tug playfully at his dog tags.

“Were you really afraid I was gonna go?” He questioned, raising one eyebrow.

“No,” Magnus scoffed, trying to hide the fact that he obviously had. “Maybe a little.”

“Well, I’m not. Your stuck with me.” Magnus hummed and came to curl against Alec’s chest.

“There are worse people to be stuck with.” He mumbled softly. It was a few moments later when he spoke again. “I really don’t want you to go with Whitelaw.”

“I don’t want to go, either. But, it’ll help their case and I’ll be back before you know it.” He pressed a kiss to Magnus’ forehead, chuckling when he watched the other man’s eyes lids fluttering closed. “We have to eat dinner still.”

“Nap first. Dinner later.”

“Dinner later.”

Chapter Text

Jace inhaled deeply as he and Alec strode across the tarmac to where the transport plane was waiting for them.

“Smell that? Didn’t you miss that smell?” His hand swatted at Alec’s chest excitedly. He just rolled his eyes in response, even if he couldn’t hide the smirk that was starting on his face. The scent of jet fuel, hot tar and gun oil hung in the air when Alec inhaled through his nose, his eyes fluttering closed. He held the air in his lungs long enough to let all of the memories of nights spent with men that he called his brothers and prepping for missions wash through him. It warmed him to his core.

“Yeah, I guess. It’s not the worst smell in the world.” He paused before tacking on teasingly, “That honor belongs to your bunk.” Jace made a sound of outrage as Alec ducked away from the swat of retaliation. They were trading blows when Alec noticed Whitelaw standing at the lowered entrance ramp to the plane. The man had his hands tucked behind his back and a stern look was set on his face. "Well, that's not a happy face." He kept his voice low enough that only Jace could hear him. Jace's answering laugh wasn't nearly as considerate and it echoed across the tarmac.

"He probably just didn't have time to prepare himself to be graced with my presence again."

“Lieutenant Herondale. What a pleasant surprise.” Whitelaw confirmed. The tone of voice conveyed rather clearly that it was anything but a pleasant surprise. Jace gave him a confident wave paired with a smug grin.

“Well, I couldn’t let my brother here wander back into the fray after being gone so long without someone watching his back, now could I?” Alec could see Whitelaw’s jaw tense and had to hide a grin of his own as he adjusted the pack on his shoulder. Jace may have a terrible habit of not knowing when to be a smartass and when to be serious, but damned if it didn't keep things interesting.

“I suppose not. You’re to stay out of the way and you are not to interact with Morgenstern when we arrive, do I make myself clear?” Jace nodded in response. “Honestly, I don’t know what possessed me to think that we were going to get out of this without at least one tagalong. I'm more impressed that it's just Herondale and not your other siblings too.” Whitelaw sighed. With that, he turned on his heel and started up the ramp to disappear into the plane.

Alec and Jace shared a look before shrugging at each other and following after him to get settled in for the flight.

**********

“God, how did I forget that it’s hotter than Lucifer’s dick over here?” Alec grumbled and tugged his sweat-damp shirt away from his chest. The desert heat was oppressive as soon as they stepped off of the plane when they reached the base. The whole compound was shrouded in the hazy, mirage-like heat that slithered in between the plywood buildings. The desert around them seemed to stretch out endlessly and Alec felt the old feeling of panic start to creep in with the knowledge that there was nothing within striking distance if they needed to hightail it out of the makeshift base.

Men in uniforms were running in between the buildings, some of them at a more leisurely pace than others, but Alec could tell that they were all walking with intent. He glanced at his watch and realized what the intent was. It was chow time. They’d crossed enough time zones that he was a little disoriented, but it was, in fact, dinner time.

“I dunno. Blocked it out, probably. You know how the brain works with traumatic shit like that. The heat's one of the first things I always try to forget whenever I get to leave this fucking place. When I got back to the apartment, I stood in front of the air conditioner in my birthday suit for a solid half an hour.” Jace mumbled the response around the granola bar package that was wedged between his teeth. He was in the process of trying to tear into it with the use of one hand when Alec sighed and swiped it from him, opening it easily. Jace grunted his thanks and took the opened bar, wolfing it down quickly.

“Good point. Also, you're officially banned from using my air conditioner. I'm revoking your apartment key.”

"No take backs. Those are the rules." Whitelaw was walking in front of them and ducked into the largest of the plywood structures without a word. They followed him in, letting the door clatter shut behind them.

The room that they followed him to was not large and it was nearly empty. There were two cots, side by side, with scratchy looking wool blankets. At the foot of each cot was a dented, metal footlocker. It was bare, but so familiar that an ache settled into his stomach. God, he'd missed this.

“Who knew that the Hilton had made it over here. Uncle Sam provides.” Alec mused aloud as he dropped his bag onto one of the cots. Jace dropped his on the other and lifted a hand to swipe at the beads of sweat that had gathered on his forehead. Alec almost felt bad for him. He was already sweating in his cargo pants and dark t-shirt, but Jace was clad in his uniform. The sleeves were rolled past his forearms, but there was no hiding how overheated he was.

“This is where you two will be bunking. You know the chow schedule, Herondale, enlighten Lightwood.” Whitelaw glanced at his watch exaggeratedly. “Lightwood, you meet me in the briefing room in fifteen. I want to get you speaking with Morgenstern as quickly as possible. The sooner we can get him talking to you, the sooner we can get some damned answers, and the sooner we can get you two sent back stateside.”

“Roger that. Briefing room in fifteen.” Whitelaw nodded and ducked out of the room without another word. Jace sighed and flopped himself down onto his cot, bouncing slightly on the creaking frame.

“That dude is the worst. And I’m including the time that we had to run personal detail for Aldertree.” He held up the index finger on his good hand for emphasis. Alec chuckled softly and settled himself on the edge of the cot. He rubbed at his leg gently, his brow furrowed. “You good? Sore?” Jace was sitting up and leaning toward Alec before he had a chance to process the movement. Alec held up a hand placatingly.

“I’m good, man, I’m good. It just happens sometimes when I don’t move it for a while. It’ll be better in a minute.” They were both silent, Jace’s golden eyes trained on Alec’s hand.

“You good to go talk to Morgenstern by yourself?”

“Does it matter? You heard Whitelaw. You don’t get to talk to the kid. Besides, I don’t even know this guy, I don’t have anything to worry about.”

“I guess not. I can still come loiter near the briefing room if you want me to. Just say the word.” Alec shook his head slightly.

“Nah. I’ll be fine. Promise.” Jace sighed quietly and Alec knew that he’d won. He almost squirmed under the weight of Jace’s gaze when he realized that it was focused on the base of Alec’s throat. “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

“First of all, what are you, twelve?” Alec stuck his tongue out in response. He was, after all, the epitome of maturity and grace. Jace apparently was going to take the high road and ignore the gesture entirely. “Second of all, where are your tags? You’re not wearing them. You’re never not wearing them.”

Alec felt like he’d just stepped out into the open air for a HALO jump.

“I, uh,” He just barely resisted the urge to lift his hand and press it to his throat where he knew that there was only bare skin. It only took a moment to make up his mind. “Magnus has them. I gave them to him to wear.” Jace’s eyebrows shot up immediately.

“Wow. That’s a development.” Alec gave an aborted nod.

“Yeah, I just…I dunno, man. I trust him with them. I haven’t met anyone else in the whole damned world that I trust enough to hold onto those things, but I trust him. Without a shadow of a doubt.” Jace’s answering smile was infection and Alec had no choice but to mirror it.

“That’s sappy as shit. I love it.” Alec stood and swatted Jace in the face with his pillow before starting toward the door. “Good luck with Morgenstern. Dude’s a total weirdo.” Alec was already half way out the door when he responsed.

“I grew up with you as a brother, how much weirder can it really get?”

**********

The interrogation room that had been cobbled together in the briefing room was pathetic-looking at best and a complete shit show at worst. Alec stepped into the room with Whitelaw trailing behind him like a loyal puppy. There was one light in the room and every window had been covered with a thick black material. A little cliched if you asked him, but Alec wasn’t going to complain as the darkness had made the room significantly cooler.

At the small folding table in the center of the room sat a thin looking man with a shock of red, close-cropped hair. The man’s hands were folded on top of the table unassumingly, and his shoulders were hunched forward as if he were expecting a blow to rain down on him at any given moment. Alec would have been confused about what everyone saw in Morgenstern that screamed “I hurt my teammates for shits and giggles” if he hadn’t lifted his gaze to meet the other man’s. He knew those eyes anywhere.

His chest suddenly felt like there was a vice around it and he was struggling to catch his breath. The cold, terrifying smile that was plastered on Morgenstern’s face made Alec’s blood run cold. He felt like prey under the knowing, watchful gaze of a predator that was hidden amongst the tall grass. It was unnerving.

Morgenstern unlaced his hands and gestured at the seat across from him.

“Well, Lieutenant Lightwood, I know you’ve travelled quite a ways for this meeting. Why don’t you take a seat and we can get started, there is so much that we have to catch up on since I saw you last. Isn’t there?”

“I guess there is,” Alec rolled the name around his tongue a few times before he spoke it. It was a name he hadn’t uttered in nearly twenty years. Not since even before Jace had shown up with the explanation that he was going to live with them now. Not since his parents had called the foster agency and had the young boy that had been living with them for months picked up so that they could take in a friend’s son when he passed. Not since they’d been family. “Sebastian.”