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stay in my arms if you dare (or must I imagine you there)

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Magnus stood in his bathroom, examining his appearance. His eyes were lined with gold, his hair was perfectly in place, light bounced off his gold necklaces and rings, and he was wearing a burgundy button up with a black blazer, that shone when it caught the light. He supposed he didn’t have to look that good, but hell, it was his birthday, and he wanted to dress up. He wasn’t doing much to celebrate turning twenty eight, because he really just felt that much closer to thirty, but he deserved to look nice.

At least he wasn’t spending it alone like he thought he would, after Catarina informed him that she was working an unavoidable double shift at the hospital that day. He didn’t hold it against her, both because he knew she felt bad enough already, and because she gifted him with the gorgeous gold pendant that was now hanging from his neck. Besides, he’d get to see her over the weekend. Unlike his other best friend, Ragnor, who’d moved back to London eight months ago, or his younger foster brother, Raphael, who’d gone to California for college six years ago, and enjoyed the sun so much, he decided to stay there permanently. They both called, of course, but it wasn’t quite the same.

Magnus wasn’t sure yet if it was a blessing or a curse, but as soon as Magnus had mentioned his plans to spend the evening alone with his cat to Clary, she lost her mind. She refused to accept it. After she’d convinced him that it wasn’t unreasonable to expect Camille to take one night off from work to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday, she’d insisted on bringing her whole friend group over to Magnus’s. He wasn’t sure if what they’d planned counted as a party, exactly, but he didn’t much care. It warmed his heart that Clary cared enough to do this.

Magnus had adored Clary from the moment they met, when he was seven years old, and she was just a little one-year old baby. She grew up just three apartments down from him and Raphael, and from the time she was six and he was twelve, to the time she was fourteen and he was twenty, it was Magnus’s job to look after her, and sometimes her best friend, Simon. Her mother, Jocelyn, was a single mom, and she needed the help. Magnus was more than happy to take care of his Biscuit, and even Simon, too.

Now, Clary was 22, fresh out of art school, and ready to take on the world. She and Simon were still the best of friends, and truthfully, Magnus still felt like it was his job to have her back most of the time. But it was different now, a more even playing field, he supposed. They were both adults now. He was no longer picking up the pieces of her broken heart after some idiot boy dumped her before prom. Instead, he was listening to her talk about her sex life with the specific idiot boy known as Jace Herondale.

Clary had met Jace a year and a half ago at a nightclub, and six months later, Magnus found that he had three new additions to his circle of friends. Jace, obviously, who sometimes grated on Magnus’s nerves a bit, but was overall a man with integrity, who seemed to entirely revolve around Clary at this point, and Jace’s adoptive siblings.

First there was Isabelle, or Izzy, as her friends and siblings called her. Izzy was a year older than Clary, utterly gorgeous, and the only person Magnus could ever talk about fashion with, who actually knew what he was talking about. Within a matter of weeks, Izzy became one of his closest friends, and he couldn’t be happier for it. Without a doubt, Izzy’s friendship was the best thing that had come out of Clary’s attachment to Jace.

The worst thing was absolutely Izzy’s older brother, Alec. From the moment they met, Alec was cold and distant. Polite and civil, yes, but decidedly unfriendly. Izzy assured Magnus that it just took Alec some time to warm up to people, but it had been nearly a year, and he’d gotten barely a smile from the man. It was ridiculous. Sure, sometimes they’d make small talk, Alec talking about his PhD program at Columbia, discussing his dissertation on some combination of sociology, politics and history, Magnus returning the favor with tales from the courtroom, but it always felt off.

Magnus attributed it to his appearance, mostly. Given that Alec was straight, it wouldn’t surprise Magnus if the man was put off by Magnus’s makeup and jewelry. It wouldn’t be the first time a little eyeshadow panicked a straight man. But it seemed as though Alec ought to have gotten over that, at this point.

Magnus sighed and checked the time on his phone. His guests would be arriving any minute, including Alec. Because somehow, Clary had convinced him to join the rest of them in celebrating Magnus’s birthday, and on a Wednesday. How she managed that was beyond him. Magnus wasn’t complaining though—he did genuinely want to get to know Alec better, and failing that, at least he was something nice to look at. ( Understatement , Magnus’s subconscious provided, but he ignored it. No use pining after a straight boy.)

There was a knock at the door, and Magnus was pulled back to the present. He opened the door with a flourish to reveal his friends, and Alec, all bearing gifts, and Izzy carrying a paper grocery bag.

“Happy Birthday!” Clary said with a wide grin.

“Thank you, come in.” Magnus stepped aside to allow the group into his apartment.

“Where should we put these?” Alec asked bluntly, holding a box wrapped in shimmery gold paper.

“Oh, just on the coffee table.” Magnus gestured over his shoulder as he closed the door. “But you guys really shouldn’t have.”

Simon scoffed. “Shut your whore mouth. It’s your birthday and we’re gonna celebrate it.”

Language!” Magnus scolded, more out of habit than anything.

Clary and Simon laughed. “We’re not twelve anymore, Magnus.”

“I know, Biscuit,” Magnus sighed, opening his arms for a hug. “Just habit, I guess.”

Izzy uncorked a bottle of wine that she’d pulled out of the grocery bag, and the festivities began. If by festivities you meant Clary talking about her upcoming gallery opening for thirty minutes, while everyone except Jace checked out. Even Simon was distracted, as he and Isabelle exchanged whispers and giggles when they thought no one was paying attention. Magnus made a mental note to ask Simon about it later, though in all honesty, he was already rooting for them. It was bittersweet, though, watching the two couples without Camille there.

He sent her a quick text. I can’t wait to see you.

He didn’t get a response, but he didn’t really expect one. Camille rarely responded to Magnus’s more romantic sentiments. But she’d agreed to get off work at a reasonable hour for once, and that was enough for him.

The night wore on, and eventually, Clary announced it was cake time.

“You brought cake?” Magnus wasn’t sure why that was so surprising, it was his birthday after all. Perhaps it was just nice to be cared for.

“Of course.” Clary stood and headed to the kitchen, with Izzy in tow. As soon as they disappeared, Magnus’s phone buzzed with a message from Camille. He grinned excitedly. She was finally off work.

Sorry, I’m stuck at work again. Probably gonna crash at the office.

Magnus’s heart sank, as Clary and Izzy burst back in the door, with a cake full of candles. Everything moved in slow motion. Magnus made it through the blowing out the candles part, but he couldn’t think of a wish to make.

Clary cut into the cake, and served him up a slice, but he pushed it back into her hands.

“I’m sorry, but I think I need a minute.” He tried to keep his face as neutral as possible as he stood. “If you’ll all excuse me.”

He made his way to his bedroom, where he sat on the foot of the bed and curled in on himself, willing himself not to cry.  If he walked out with his makeup running, it would arouse too much suspicion. He reread Camille’s text and then threw his phone into his pillows. He hated that he was surprised. As if Camille had ever once come through on promise. Of course , she wasn’t coming. She’d never cared about him, not really. Not for the three years they dated in law school, and certainly not for the six months they’d been back together. Magnus didn’t even know why he’d gone back to her. He knew she was poisonous, that she made him feel awful, but still he’d fallen back in. Perhaps, deep down, he felt it was what he deserved.

Magnus knew he should go back to his friends, but he just couldn’t bring himself to move. All he wanted was to sleep off the pain. But he had guests and cake and presents to open and—

There was a knock at the door, causing it to gently slide open, revealing the last person Magnus expected to see. Alec. With a piece of cake and a worried expression.

“You can tell them I’ll be out in a minute,” Magnus said coolly, trying his best to keep his voice level. Why would they send him?

“That’s not, I’m not,” Alec frowned. “They didn’t send me. I mean, Clary said someone should check on you, but I volunteered.”

That left Magnus perplexed. “Why?”

“I saw you check your phone, I saw your face fall,” Alec’s voice was shaky and hesitant. “I figured the others would be dragging you back out there, but I...I thought you might want to talk about, um. Whatever it is.” Alec’s hazel eyes were so soft and genuine that Magnus wondered if this could possibly be the same detached man he’d known for the past year.

“I didn’t think you cared.” Magnus couldn’t hold back the snide remark, a defense mechanism.

Guilt flashed across those hazel eyes before Alec spoke again. “I-I’m sorry, I’m not very good at, you know, opening up to people. But I do care about you, Magnus.”

Magnus nodded. “Is that cake for me?”

“Oh!” Alec’s eyes widened, like he’d forgotten he was holding the plate, and he shoved it out towards Magnus. “Yes. Sorry.”

Magnus took the cake, and dug in. “Care to sit?”

Alec flushed. “On your bed?”

Magnus tensed. Straight men were really so insecure sometimes. “Do you have a problem with that?”

Alec shook his head wildly. “N-no.” He sat down next to Magnus, but kept a distance of a few inches between them, and very intentionally so. Magnus fought the urge to roll his eyes.

Magnus set the cake down on his other side. “The text was from Camille. She isn’t coming. She didn’t even wish me happy birthday. I’m not surprised, really, but that doesn’t make it hurt less.”

Magnus isn’t sure what he expected from Alec’s response, maybe a placid “I’m sorry” or “Her loss” or something polite, and reassuring. Regardless, he sure as hell didn’t expect what he got.

Alec’s fingers curled into tight fists, and he jumped up from the bed, seemingly in a rage. “That’s, that’s bullshit! She’s your girlfriend, and she can’t even be bothered to wish you a happy birthday?!”

Magnus blinked slowly, unable to even begin to process how worked up Alec was getting.

“I know she has a heavy workload, but she can take one measly night off, for the man who is supposed to be her world!”

“Her world?” Magnus raised an eyebrow. He’d never been, and never would be, Camille’s world. He was just her plaything.

Alec stopped, realizing how out of place his outburst was. “I mean, she loves you, right?”

“Doubtful.”

“Magnus,” Alec hesitated. “I don’t want to overstep, but I just...I think you deserve better.”

Magnus was taken aback. Alec wasn’t just angry on a moral level, he was angry on a personal level. He was angry on Magnus’s behalf. All this time, and Alec really did think of them as friends.

“Thank you,” Magnus pressed his lips together in a smile. “I think you might be right.”

Alec nodded, his anger suddenly deflating, replaces with an emotion Magnus couldn’t place. “Should we get back?” He asked curtly, and just like that, the normal, emotionless Alexander Lightwood had returned.

Magnus followed him back out to the party, where Izzy and Simon were feeding each other cake, Clary was playing a game on her phone, and Jace was half asleep on Clary’s shoulder.

“You’re back,” Simon grinned. “Presents?”

“Definitely,” Magnus nodded.

Magnus’s presents were as follows: three new books from Simon (a tradition of theirs since childhood), a portrait of himself from Clary, that was genuinely gorgeous, a beautiful, maroon peacoat from Izzy, and a leather conditioner from Jace, that apparently worked wonders on his leather jackets, and would do the same for Magnus’s briefcase.

Alec’s golden parcel was unintentionally saved for last by virtue of everyone else eagerly shoving their gifts in Magnus’s face. Magnus unwrapped it with little thought, tearing through the paper as quickly as he could, eager to get the night over with. And then he saw what it was, and his breath caught in his throat.

“An eyeshadow palette?” Jace scoffed and took a sip of his wine.

“Not just any eyeshadow palette,” Magnus said quietly, carefully opening it to examine the beautiful, vibrant reds and golds of the sunset palette. “This is a Natasha Denona eyeshadow palette.”

Izzy choked on her wine. “Alec!”

Alec turned a shade of red that matched one of the blocks of makeup in the palette, but the rest of the group remained bewildered.

“Alexander,” Magnus said slowly. “This must’ve cost...I don’t even know how much.”

Now that got people’s attention. Alec just rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Aren’t most eyeshadow palettes expensive?”

Izzy shook her head. “No, no, only the fancy kind.”

Alec’s blushed deepened. “I just thought, that, uh, you know, that you’d like the colors. And, um, the lady at Sephora said it was good quality.”

Jace’s eyes popped out of his skull. “You went to Sephora?”

Izzy gasped. “You went to Sephora without me?”

Somehow Alec grew even more flustered. “I, uh.”

Magnus gave a gentle smile. “I love it, thank you.”

“Happy Birthday, Magnus.” Alec said, and for the first time, Magnus saw Alec truly smile, warm and bright and wide. Magnus’s heart stuttered, and he knew he’d do anything to see that smile again.


 

Alec was screwed, well and truly screwed, and he was acutely aware of it. Really, he’d been screwed since the day Clary had introduced him to Magnus Bane. Magnus was, bar none, the most beautiful man Alec had ever seen, with his perfect hair and his glittery makeup, and his big brown eyes. Alec could barely get the word “Hello,” out of his mouth, he was so taken with the man. And the next few times they met, he could still barely speak to Magnus, he got so nervous. He knew he came off rude, but everytime he tried to speak, the words just caught in his throat.

About six months in, he started to get a hold of himself, attempted some small talk and such, but he was always so nervous to speak to Magnus. Who wouldn’t be? Magnus was confident and handsome and intelligent and had such a big heart that he was still looking after the kids he used to babysit, even now that they were adults. Magnus was incredible. And Alec was just some 25 year old history nerd, drowning in his PhD work. Magnus was totally out of his league.

So, as head over heels as Alec was for Magnus, he would never act on it. Especially since, as Alec reminded himself quite regularly, Magnus was in a relationship. But Alec couldn’t help himself, and he’d gone out and bought Magnus a $170 eyeshadow palette, which was apparently way too expensive a gift. But how was he to know that? He’d never purchased makeup before, not really. He sure as hell had never gone to Sephora before. But he didn’t think twice about walking in to buy something for Magnus. Because he was pathetically crazy about Magnus Bane, and he had no idea what to do about it.

He sighed into his scrambled eggs, remembering the way his siblings had looked at him the night before, when they realized what he’d done. It was only a matter of time before they figured him out, if they hadn’t already. And then he would never hear the end of it.

As if on cue, his apartment door burst open, and Izzy stormed in. It was a Thursday, one of Alec’s days off from the part-time librarian job he held down in addition to the hours of research he poured into his dissertation each week, and he knew Izzy knew that. Alec groaned to himself; it was too early for this.

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood, explain yourself,” she demanded.

Alec just blinked at her, from his kitchen table, eyes still bleary and full of sleep. “Don’t you have a job?”

“I got today off, in case Magnus’s birthday got crazy,” Izzy shrugged. “Now, stop dodging and explain!”

“Explain what?” Alec took a bite of his eggs.

“That eyeshadow palette!” Izzy gave him a light shove. “How much was it, 150?”

“170,” Alec mumbled, eyes glued to the floor, trying to ignore the way his cheeks flushed.

“Jesus Christ, Alec.”

“Izzy, please just let this go.” Alec pleaded.

“I’ll let it go, if you tell me why you spent that much money on Magnus?” Izzy crossed her arms. “Or should I take a guess?”

Alec sighed. “Alright, fine. I have feelings for him. But it doesn’t matter, because he’s with Camille, and I already ruined my chances anyway.”

“Ruined your chances?” Izzy furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I was so smitten and nervous when we first met, and for months afterward, that I could barely get a word out,” Alec hung his head in his hands. “I came off rude and aloof, I know I did.”

Izzy let out a sharp laugh. “God, you’re a mess.”

Alec shot her a glare. “Mean.”

Izzy slid into the chair next to Alec. “If it helps, I think the eyebrow palette went a long way to smooth things over. Did you see his face?”

She was right. Magnus definitely liked the makeup, based on the way his eyes softened as he thanked Alec. Alec couldn’t help the pleasant buzz that bubbled in his chest, or the smile that played on his lips at just the memory of Magnus’s approval. He would do anything to see that gentle, appreciative look on his face again. It was almost as good as his smile, or his laugh, the most beautiful sight and sound, respectively, that Alec had ever experienced.  

“Wow, you’re in really deep aren’t you?” Izzy asked, and Alec looked back at her.

“How long was I out?”

“Not long, but the look on you face was ridiculous,” Izzy laughed.

Alec frowned. “Shut up.”

“No way,” Izzy scoffed, grabbing Alec’s fork and stealing a bite of his eggs. “My big brother is in love, I’m gonna enjoy it.”

“I-I’m not in love with him,” Alec choked out. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just a crush.”

Izzy raised an eyebrow. “Bullshit.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said bullshit,” Izzy repeated, calmly taking another bite of Alec’s eggs. “I’ve seen you with a crush. I’ve never seen you like this. Not even when you dated that Raj guy.”

Alec grimaced. “You’re way too invested in my love life, you know that?”

“Yep,” Izzy smirked before shoving the last of Alec’s eggs into her mouth.

“You know, I would’ve made you your own.”

Izzy rolled her eyes. “We both know you weren’t going to finish those eggs.”

Alec opened his mouth to protest, but Izzy put a hand up to stop him.

“Stop trying to change the subject,” She said firmly, before once again pressing him about his feelings. “You just don’t want to admit how hard you’re falling.”

Alec couldn’t take it anymore. “Maybe I am falling hard. Maybe I’m crazy about Magnus Bane. But what does it matter, Izzy?”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s with Camille! And even if they broke up today, I couldn’t make a move.” Alec shook his head. “I refuse to be his rebound.”

“Oh.” Izzy put a hand on Alec’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pushed so hard.”

“No, it’s good to get it off my chest,” Alec conceded. “It just hurts.”

Izzy sighed. “I know it does. But trust me, Alec, someday someone is going to love you heart and soul.”

Alec blushed slightly and dipped his head. “Thanks.”

Izzy’s eyes crinkled, and she started to say something else when her phone buzzed with a text. As she read it, her eyebrows flew up. She tapped out a quick response.

“Oh my God.” Her shocked expressed melted into a sly smile.

“What?”

“Magnus and Camille broke up,” Izzy informed him, “This might be your chance.”

“I told you,” Alec shook his head. “I won’t be a rebound.”

“Whatever you say,” Izzy shook her head and stood. “I gotta go. Magnus wants Clary and I to take him out for some retail therapy.”

Alec picked up the scrambled egg plate and set it down in the sink, as Izzy headed towards the door. “Say hi to both of them.”

“Oh, I definitely will.” Izzy grinned as she slid out the door.

Alec pursed his lips. He didn’t like the way she said that.


For a man who had just broken up with his girlfriend of six months, Magnus felt pretty good. It probably helped that he was the one who did the dumping, and also that he hadn’t actually been in love with Camille for years. Ending things with her was actually kind of freeing. The last time they’d broken up, she’d dumped him. Hard. It took him months to recover from the heartbreak of losing her. But this time was different. This time, Camille hadn’t had years to break him down. This time, he left her . But nonetheless, it was hard to shake the thought from last night, that maybe the reason he went back to her was because deep down, he knew it was the best he was ever going to get.

It was a workday, but he worked from home most Thursdays anyway, and given that he dumped his girlfriend over the phone first thing in the morning when she called, he thought he was justified in spending his lunch hour how he saw fit. So, after working solidly from 8 AM until noon, he texted Clary and Izzy, told them about the breakup, and asked for some emotional support in the form of shopping. Both girls immediately agreed, and soon Magnus found himself staring at tacky costume jewelry in an H&M.

“This isn’t exactly what I had in mind, Biscuit.” Don’t get him wrong, H&M had its place, it just wasn’t his style.

“Hey, we’re not all big shot lawyers,” Clary shrugged. “Some of us can’t afford Burberry and Gucci.”

“Fair enough,” Magnus conceded. “Are you looking for something in particular?”

“She needs new shorts for summer,” Izzy said, before Clary could say anything.

“Yeah,” Clary rolled her eyes. “That.”

They drifted towards the new summer looks, but Magnus couldn’t focus on any of the clothes. His mind was still whirring a million miles a minute.

“Stop thinking so loudly,” Izzy gave Magnus a light shove. “You’re giving me a headache.”

Magnus shrugged, sheepishly. “Sorry. It’s been a hell of a morning.”

“I know,” Izzy’s face grew solemn. “I’m really sorry about you and Camille.”

“Oh, don’t be,” Magnus waved her off. “Camille never loved me, not even when we were first together.” He tried not to sound too bitter about it.

“You were together for all three years of law school, Magnus,” Clary shook her head. “How could she not have loved you then?”

“Honestly?” Magnus pretended to be examining a baby blue crop top to avoid making eye contact. “I don’t know if she’s capable of loving anything besides her career.”

“Wow.” Was all Clary could manage.

“Look,” Magnus sighed. “I don’t love Camille anymore. I did, once, and she broke my heart so many times I lost count. I honestly couldn’t tell you why I agreed to get back together with her. Call it a momentary lapse in judgement.”

Izzy put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Anyone can fall back into a bad relationship. It’s hard to say no to someone you care about. Whatever happened between you and Camille, it’s not your fault, okay?”

Magnus nodded. “Thank you, Isabelle.”

Izzy gave his shoulder a squeeze and smiled up at him. “That’s what friends are for.”

“So, how’d it happen?” Clary asked, picking up a pair of dark-wash denim short-shorts. “The breakup I mean.”

“Oh,” Magnus rolled his eyes. “Nothing too dramatic, really. She called me this morning, all apologetic about missing my birthday, even though I knew she didn’t really care, and I just...snapped. I really went off on her.”

“Wow,” was all Izzy could say. Clary was just silent.

“To be fair, it was 7AM and I hadn’t had my coffee yet,” Magnus fidgeted with one of his rings, twisting it around his finger.

“So, if you dumped her ,” Clary started slowly. “Why the retail therapy?”

Magnus pressed his lips together tightly, and then let out a soft exhale. “I’m not going to miss Camille in the slightest, but I worry that maybe Camille is the best I can do, that I won’t be able to find anyone better than her. I guess I just feel doomed to be in bad relationships.”

“You do have a pretty bad track record,” Clary nodded.

“Helpful.” Magnus snarked back.

Izzy, who had been quiet for a few minutes, was looking at Magnus intensely. “Do you really think so little of yourself?”

Magnus was taken aback. “I...I don’t know.”

Izzy grabbed him by the shoulders. “Listen to me, Magnus Bane. You’re hot, you’re intelligent, you’re fun, you’re kind. You’re a goddamn catch.”

Magnus blushed. “Izzy, you don’t have to--”

Izzy dropped his shoulders. “I just know that there’s someone out there for you.”

“You sound like Ragnor,” Magnus chuckled. Ragnor was an extremely dramatic Englishman that Magnus had met in law school. He was always spouting nonsense about how someday someone would tear down Magnus’s walls, and how Magnus had to learn to fight for love, or some other such nonsense.

“Ragnor Fell is a wise man,” Izzy countered, and she wasn’t wrong.

“I can’t argue with that,” Magnus laughed again.

“And I’m right,” Izzy insisted. “You’re going to find someone amazing.”

Magnus rolled his eyes. “Easy for you to say, you’ve got Simon.”

Clary whipped around. “What?”

“Oh, come on, Biscuit,” Magnus threw his arms up in exasperation. “Surely you noticed how they were all over each other last night? Or were you really so caught up with Blondie that you weren’t aware of your best friends feeding each other cake?”

Clary blushed. “Shut up, this isn’t about me and Jace.” She turned to Izzy. “You were feeding each other cake?”

Now it was Izzy’s turn to blush. “Yeah...I like Simon a lot. I would’ve told you before, but I know that you grew up together, and you can be kind of protective.”

Clary snorted. “You were really worried I wouldn’t approve? Two of my favorite people are making each other happy. That’s awesome.”

Izzy grinned. “Yeah, it is pretty awesome.”

“I haven’t seen Simon look so smitten since Raphael,” Magnus commented. “Not that I can blame him, I mean look at yourself.”

Izzy chuckled. “Raphael, you adopted brother?”

Magnus grinned at the memories. “Oh, yeah. He’s two years older than Simon, so he was junior when Simon was a freshman in high school, and Simon was obsessed with him. Always staring at him in the school hallways, according to Clary, and coming to me to ask advice on how best to flirt with him, which was the last conversation I wanted to be having about my brother, but it was at least nice to be able to give him what I never had when I was figuring out my sexuality.”

Izzy seemed fondly amused by the story, and there was a glint in her eye, like she couldn’t wait to tease Simon about it.

Clary seemed less pleased. “Raphael was also his first heartbreak.”

Magnus pursed his lips. “Well, yes. But it wasn’t really Raphael’s fault.”

“No,” Clary agreed. “It wasn’t. It was still hell to pick up the pieces, though. Simon cried for weeks over him.”

“Oh, no,” Izzy was instantly sympathetic. “What happened?”

“Raphael is aromantic and asexual,” Magnus shrugged. “He had no idea that Simon was flirting with him, or pursuing him. And so when Simon finally made a more obvious move, Raphael was completely blindsided, and also had to explain that he could never, ever return Simon’s feelings.”

“Oof.”

“Yeah, it was pretty bad,” Clary remarked. “But he got over it eventually. And now he has you.”

Izzy smiled and blushed.

“Funny,” Clary continued, giving Magnus a pointed look, “How a broken heart can heal, with enough time and care. I know that when Raph first broke Simon’s heart, he didn’t think he’d ever recover. But he did.”

“That was about as subtle as an elephant, Biscuit.” Magnus shook his head. “But I think you’re right. Time is exactly what I need.”

Clary just smiled gently at him, waiting for him to continue.

“I’m swearing off dating for awhile,” Magnus decided and announced at the same time. “No more dates of any kind, and certainly no more relationships.”

Clary raised an eyebrow at him. “Not exactly what I had in mind.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?” Izzy sounded disappointed, for some reason, though why she would feel that way was beyond him.

“It won’t be forever,” Magnus bit his lip. “I just can’t let myself get swept up again and end up in another shitty relationship.”

Izzy pursed her lips, still seeming disappointed. “I understand.”

Magnus let out a long exhale and checked his watch. “I should probably start heading back home. I’ve still got a few hours worth of work left.”

Clary pulled out her phone. “I’ll call an Uber.”


Alec was not usually the kind of guy who went out on a Saturday night, least of all the kind of guy who went to a bar alone on a Saturday night. But it had been a long week, he wanted a drink, and he liked the bartenders at Hunter’s Moon. Hunter’s Moon was a small place that Izzy had taken him to a couple of years back, when she had just turned 21, as a show of support of sorts, and a little bit because she wanted to get him hammered. He’d recently come out to their parents (though Izzy and Jace had already known for years), and things were still kind of rocky. So, naturally, Izzy took him to a random gay bar in Brooklyn. Alec was grateful for it, though, because it was actually a pretty a quiet place, and he liked talking to the bartenders. There was Meliorn, who was aggressively bisexual and had hit on Izzy when they’d first come in, and who flirted with Alec without any meaning behind it, and Maia. Alec wasn’t actually sure how Maia identified, if she was bi or a lesbian, but he knew that she was most definitely into girls, as she and Izzy had gone on a few dates after they’d first come to Hunter’s Moon. It hadn’t worked out, but they were still good friends.

Alec walked into Hunter’s Moon and grinned when he saw Maia was working. Meliorn was fun, but Maia was a lot more chill, and chill was all Alec wanted that night. He sat down at the bar, and waited quietly for her to come over and ask for his drink order. She smiled brightly when she saw him, and walked over quickly.

“Alec!” Her voice was light and bubbly. “It’s been awhile.”

“Well, I just couldn’t stay away any longer,” Alec returned her smile, feeling lighter than he had all week.

“Will you have the usual?” Maia asked, and Alec nodded. As long as he’d been coming to Hunter’s Moon, he’d been ordering Cosmopolitans. It was extremely cliché, but he had been extremely nervous that first night, so he ordered the first thing that came to mind. The fact that he kept ordering them could be chalked up to a combination of habit, and a taste for cranberry juice. Maia nodded, and set to work mixing his drink. He watched her intently, fascinated and impressed with the nimble movements of her hands. He watched her so intensely, he didn’t even noticed when someone walked in and sat down next to him.

“Alexander?” A familiar, honeyed voice spoke.

Alec’s head snapped up and he saw he was, in fact, face to face with Magnus Bane. And he was wearing a shade of red eyeshadow that Alec recognized from the pallette he’d bought. It looked damn good, and Alec’s heart immediately started hammering in his chest. “Magnus. Hi.”

“You know, I never pegged you for a bar kind of guy.” Magnus eyed Alec’s drink, as Maia set it down in front of him, “Or a Cosmopolitan kind of guy.”

“I’m full of surprises,” Alec responded, trying for confident and sexy, but probably coming off dorky and stupid.

Magnus just smiled at him, before turning to Maia. “I’ll have a vodka martini, please.”

“You got it, Magnus.”

Alec raised an eyebrow. “You know Maia, too?”

Magnus chuckled. “She and Simon are good friends. Well, exes actually, but very amicable ones. That’s how I know about this place.”

“Izzy dragged me here once,” Alec shrugged. “I ended up liking it.”

Magnus looked over at Maia, who was focused on mixing his drink, and then leaned in close to Alec. He smelled like sandalwood and a little bit like citrus for some reason, and Alec could barely breathe, Magnus was so close to him. “I don’t know if you know this,” Magnus whispered, rather urgently, “But this is a gay bar.”

Alec cocked his head to the side, blinking in confusion. “Uh, yeah? Why do you think I’m here?”

Magnus balked, looking baffled and slightly offended. “You intentionally patronize a gay bar? Is this some kind of weird, like, let’s go make fun of the queers thing?”

What?” Alec choked. “What are you talking--” And then it hit him, and he felt smacked in the face with the realization. Magnus thought he was straight. “Oh my God.”

This time, it was Magnus’s turn to sit in confusion, as Alec dissolved into uncontrollable, wheezing laughter. He nearly fell off his bar stool twice, before just barely catching his breath, and attempting to speak. “You--You.” And then he was laughing again, face red, ribs aching, tears running down his cheeks. Finally, Maia brought Magnus his martini, and Alec managed to get a hold of himself. “You think I’m straight,” he finally managed.

“Yes?” Magnus took a sip of his drink and gave Alec a quizzical look. “Are you...not?”

“Magnus,” Alec started, still unable to keep the amusement off his face. “I’m gay.”

Magnus turned bright red with embarrassment. “Oh.”

“It’s okay, I don’t really advertise it, I guess,” Alec took a sip of his Cosmopolitan. “And now that I think of it, it hasn’t really come up. Although I’m surprised Izzy hasn’t mentioned it.”

Magnus didn’t speak, he just sipped his martini, seemingly lost in thought.

“But, yeah, anyways. I’m super gay. Once, I walked into a wall at full force because I was distracted by a hot guy. I got a black eye and everything.

Magnus seemed to snap out of whatever faraway thoughts he was in. “Then why were you so cold to me?”

Alec gulped. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, this whole time I chalked up your cold and unfriendly attitude towards me as some kind of discomfort with my sexuality, or my flamboyance, but that’s obviously not the case and I’m at a complete loss.” Magnus sighed.

Alec marveled for a moment at the irony of the situation. All this time, he’d been pining over Magnus, completed enamoured by every aspect of his appearance, and Magnus had thought that he hated it. “I’m sorry, I know I probably seemed like a jerk, I just,” Alec hesitated. For a moment he considered confessing his feelings for Magnus, but he couldn’t do it. They were finally becoming friends, and he wasn’t about to screw that up. “I’m not good with new people. I get nervous and awkward, and it’s hard for me to get more than a few words out.” It wasn’t a total lie, he just omitted a few details about why exactly Magnus made him so nervous.

“Huh.”

Alec took a deep breath. “But I want to change that. I want us to be friends.”

Magnus nodded. “I’d like that.”

Alec picked up his Cosmopolitan, and held it out to click it against the glass that Magnus held in his hand. “To us.”

Magnus raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, to our friendship,” Alec managed, trying to hide his nervousness.

Magnus smiled. “To us,” he repeated.

They sipped their drinks and set them back down again. “So,” Alec started, hoping he didn’t sound as awkward as he felt. “What brings you to a bar, alone, on a Saturday night?”

“I could ask you the same thing.”

“I asked you first.”

“Touché,” Magnus rolled his eyes. “I’m sure Izzy told you that I broke up with Camille. I wanted to at least try to have some fun.”

Alec nodded. “Post break-up hookup?”

Magnus choked on his martini and Alec winced, realizing what he sounded like.

“Not with me, I mean. I wasn’t propositioning you, or anything.” He took a big gulp of his Cosmopolitan, finishing it off. “I was just wondering if that was your plan.” Alec cringed at himself.

“I see.” Magnus sighed. “No, it is not my plan. If you must know, I’m swearing off relationships, dating, and hookups of any kind for awhile. I can’t let myself fall back into a relationship like the one I had with Camille. I have to wait for something good.”

Alec softened, sensing the vulnerability that Magnus was revealing. It hurt, irrationally, to know that even with Magnus being single, he wouldn’t have a chance. But he wanted Magnus to be happy--Magnus deserved to be happy, and before he could stop himself, he was offering to help. “Do you want some help?”

“Help?”

Alec swallowed.The words had seemingly fallen out of his mouth of their own volition, but there was no going back now. “Like, uh. Like an AA sponsor, but for relationships. Anytime you’re tempted to hookup with someone, or go on a date, you call me, and I’ll remind you that you’re taking some time for yourself.”

Magnus finished off the last of his martini, and eyed Alec was a mischievous glint in his eye that had no right to be as hot as it was. “Call you? I don’t have your number.”

Alec flushed. “Can I give you my number?”

Magnus smiled. “I’d like that.”

Later, when Alec was standing in his kitchen in his pajamas, waiting for the tea kettle to boil, so he could have a mug of chamomile tea before bed, his phone buzzed with a text from an unknown number. Alec knew exactly who it was from as soon as he read it, and he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face.

I’m glad I ran into you tonight, Alexander.

Me too.


Magnus frowned at the paperwork in front of him. He loved being a lawyer, he really did, but the mountains of paperwork that came with the profession were something he could live without. Especially , at 10 AM on a Monday morning. Double especially when he was in the midst of a personal crisis and couldn’t focus to save his life. His thoughts kept drifting back to one Alexander Lightwood. It had been a little over two weeks since he’d bumped into Alec at Hunter’s Moon, and they’d been texting almost constantly since. And meeting up for coffee. Finally getting to know Alec felt like some kind of gift from the universe. Alec was not the cold-hearted man that Magnus had once thought. In fact, Magnus could hardly believe he’d ever thought such things about Alexander. He was so warm and generous and kind, and Magnus felt grateful to finally be able to see this part of him, to see him light up as he talked about his dissertation, or hear the warmth in his voice as he spoke of his siblings.

Magnus sighed, trying to refocus on his paperwork, when his phone buzzed with a text from the man himself. Lunch?

Magnus smiled. Sure. I won’t have much time, though.

So, the deli down the street from your office, then?

You read my mind.

He set his phone down, a pleasant, contented warmth blooming in his chest. He hummed as he made his way through the next hour of paperwork. It was just a little after 11 when his phone rang, causing him to jump and curse.

Even so, he answered cheerfully when he saw who was calling, he couldn’t hide the lightness in his voice if he tried. “Hello, Raphael.”  

“You are in way too good a mood for a Monday morning,” Raphael’s raspy voice came through the receiver.

“Can you blame me?” Magnus leaned back in his chair. “My baby brother is calling me.”

Raphael groaned. “I’m not a baby anymore, Magnus.”

“You’ll always be a baby to me,” Magnus shrugged. Even if he was three thousand miles away, even if he’d somehow found the biological sister he’d been separated from for years thanks to the foster system, he would always be Magnus’s baby brother. Nothing would change that.

“You’re so embarrassing.” Raphael sounded exasperated, but in an affectionate way that made Magnus’s heart swell. “I don’t know why I even called you.”

“To hear the sultry sound of my voice?” Magnus asked.

“Definitely not.”

“I can hang up on you, you know,” Magnus quipped.

“Alright, alright,” Raphael sighed. “I do have a reason for this call. I actually have some news.”

Magnus raised an eyebrow, despite the fact that no one was around to see it. “Oh, really now?”

“I’m thinking about moving back to New York.” Raphael’s voice was hesitant, and Magnus could understand why. Moving back across the country was not something to be taken lightly.

“Wow.” Was all Magnus could say. “And what brought you to this decision?”

“Honestly? I miss you,” Raphael admitted. “And I can write anywhere, wait tables anywhere. And when I start querying my novel, I’ll have to fly out to New York a bunch anyway.”

Magnus clicked his tongue against his teeth. “What about Rosa?”

“It was actually her idea.” Magnus could hear the smile in Raphael’s voice. “It turns out she’s been homesick for New York since she her last foster family moved her out here.”

“Ah.” That made sense. Raphael and Rosa had been split up when he was 8 and she was 6, following the untimely death of their parents in a car accident. Raphael had dedicated a good chunk of his life to finding her, and Magnus had a suspicion he picked a Californian college for a reason. “Well, I would love to see you more. And I would be thrilled to finally meet Rosa.”

“Nothing is set in stone yet, but I wanted you to know as soon as it became a possibility.” Raphael liked to put up a facade of toughness, but Magnus knew him well enough to know that his sweetness was more truthful.

“Thank you.”

The conversation drifted into other, less important topics: Magnus’s recent day in court, Raphael’s last chapter, how jealous Magnus was that Raphael lived so close to the beach, especially with the way the city streets trapped the summer heat. Magnus hadn’t spoken to Raphael in a little over a week, so they had a lot to catch up on. Before Magnus knew it, more than an hour had gone by.

His eyes drifted to the clock on the wall, and he jumped out of his seat when he saw it was already 12:20. “Fuck!”

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m meant to be meeting someone for lunch,” Magnus explained, standing up from his desk, taking but a moment to make sure he had his wallet and his keys. “And I’m late.”

“Meeting someone for lunch, eh?” Magnus could hear Raphael’s smirk through the phone. “Who’s the lucky so-in-so?”

“We’re just friends.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

Magnus sighed, stopping just short of his door. “Remember that Alec guy I mentioned? Clary’s boyfriend’s brother?”

“The brooding and handsome one?” Raphael asked. “Why, yes, I do remember him. I thought he was a jerk.”

Magnus rolled his eyes, and opened his office door, ready to run all the way to the deli if he had to, when he came face to face with Alec, one hand raised above his head, poised to knock.

Alec blushed slightly, his hazel eyes shining as he lowered his hand. “Hi.”

“I was so wrong about him being a jerk,” Magnus said into the phone. “I gotta go, Raphael.”

“I’m sorry I made you think I was a jerk,” Alec frowned. “But hopefully this makes up for it.” He lifted his other hand, which was holding a brown paper bag from the deli.

“You brought me lunch?” Magnus blinked twice, vehemently ignoring the flutter in his chest at the thought.

“Well, when you didn’t show, I figured you were caught up at work,” Alec shrugged and pushed into Magnus’s office, pushing the bag into Magnus’s chest. “So, I decided to bring lunch to you.”

Magnus walked back around his desk and sat down, motioning for Alec to follow him. Then, he opened the bag and pulled out two sandwiches. “The one marked RB is mine,” Alec said, reaching for said sandwich. “Roast beef.”

Magnus grinned at the other sandwich. T-AVO. “Turkey and avocado, you remembered.”

“Of course I did,” Alec said softly, eyes glued to his own sandwich, before looking up and clearing his throat. “I mean, you only order it every time we go to that deli.”

“Oh, like you’re any better,” Magnus responded in kind. “Mr. Roast Beef on Rye.”

Alec swallowed a bite of his sandwich and stuck out his tongue. “Shut up.”

“Oh, real mature,” Magnus chuckled. Talking and joking with Alec was surprisingly easy. Magnus had worried, at first, that Alec would stay distant and closed off. But after a few days of texting nonstop, it seemed like Alec had gotten over his initial shyness, much to Magnus’s delight. And now, here Alec was, bringing him lunch, and sitting with him as he worked. It was overwhelmingly domestic, and Magnus found himself imagining the scene a little differently. Indulging in a fantasy version of the afternoon where he greeted Alec with a kiss, maybe.

Wait, What? Magnus choked on his sandwich, panic rising up in his chest.

“You okay?” Alec asked gently, voice laced with concern. And, oh, his eyes were glinting in the warm afternoon sun, and his lips were pink and soft and Magnus saw more than just an afternoon, he saw a whole lifetime unraveling in front of him, and oh fuck . He wanted it. He wanted it all with Alexander.

Magnus ignored the alarms bells that were ringing in his head, and swallowed down his sudden panic. “Yeah, yeah. Fine.” And then he picked up his phone and shot a text to Catarina.

Wine. My place. Tonight.


 

Alec was going to kill Jace. Or maybe he’d kill Clary and make Jace watch, that might be a better punishment. Alright, maybe he was being a little dramatic. But he was supposed to be having lunch with Magnus right now. He was supposed to be sitting in Magnus’s office, with a roast beef sandwich, watching him work, bantering and teasing, like he’d been doing at least three times a week for the past month. Those lunches were the highlights of Alec’s weeks, and some of the only times he got a break from his PhD research. But mostly he just loved getting to spend so much time with Magnus. Yes, Alec realized just how pathetic he was, eager to spend so much time with a man who would likely never want to be with him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.

Jace calling him, first thing that morning, saying that Alec absolutely had to have lunch with him and Clary, was very much not part of the plan. But Jace had sounded almost frantic on the phone, so on edge that he stumbled over his words during the whole, albeit short, conversation. And if something had happened to make Jace lose his mind like that, it had to be important. So, Alec had reluctantly texted Magnus that he wasn’t going to be able to bring him lunch.

And now he was sitting in a small burger joint that Jace loved, pretending to look at the menu, waiting for his idiot brother and his equally idiotic girlfriend to show up. In typical fashion, they were a good ten minutes late. He sighed, pulled out his phone, and shot a text to Jace.

Where are you?

He didn’t get a response, so he opened his conversation with Magnus.

They’re late. And after I cancelled lunch with you for them.

You really expected them to be on time?

Not really.

LOL.

And then a few seconds later, a second message: Lunch isn’t the same without you.

Why, Mr. Bane. Do you miss me?

Alec couldn’t keep the grin off his face, even though he was sure he looked like a complete idiot.

I miss you too. He added, before he could stop himself, regretting the admission almost immediately, until Magnus’s response flashed on his screen.

I’ll just have to take a long lunch tomorrow to makeup for it.

Instead of Alec’s heart stuttering in his chest like he was used to when he interacted with Magnus, a familiar warmth bubbled up in his gut. Somehow, he smile grew. He was about to reply when a voice burst through his bubble of happiness.

“Wow, I haven’t seen you smile like that since Izzy’s college graduation,” Jace’s voice was light and easy, but even so Alec felt himself blushing.

“Shut up.”

Jace and Clary shared a glance and sat down across the table from Alec. “Must be some guy to get you this flustered,” Jace teased.

“Who said there was a guy?” Alec snapped.

“The look on your face,” Clary retorted.

“And Izzy,” Jace added.

Alec groaned. “I can’t believe this. Betrayed by my own sister.”

Jace chuckled. “That’s what siblings are for, man.”

It was then that a waitress came over, setting down water glasses in front of all of them, and taking their orders. Alec waited to speak until the waitress was fully out of earshot.

“You won’t tell Magnus, will you?”

Clary choked on her water. “Magnus?”

Alec’s eyes widened, and then he winced at himself. “Izzy didn’t tell you that the guy I like is Magnus, did she?”

Jace grinned. “No, she did not. He’s hot though, get it Alec.”

“It’s not—it’s not like that.” Alec shook his head. “We’re just friends.”

“But you want to be more than that, don’t you?” Clary pushed, concern dripping off her words. “You want to be with him?”

Alec sighed, and nodded. “Yeah. I’m crazy about him. I have been since we met, and now that we’re actually friends? It’s just gotten worse.”

“Alec…” Clary hesitated. “You know that Magnus has been hurt before, right? I mean, Camille…” Clary trailed off, a faraway look her eyes.

“I know, he’s sworn off dating,” Alec rolled his eyes. “Trust me, I won’t mess that up.”

“No, no,” Clary shook her head. “It’s not that.”

“It’s not?”

Clary sighed. “You know that he and Camille dated before, right? In law school.”

Alec blinked twice. “No, no I didn’t know that.”

Clary nodded. “It was bad, Alec. She was horrible to him. She manipulated him, used him, even cheated on him.”

“You don’t think I would—“

“No, no,” Clary shook her head rapidly. “Of course not, but you have to tread lightly. Magnus has a lot of walls up.”

It hurt to hear how Magnus had been treated in the past, but he wasn’t bothered by the rest of what Clary said, at least not beyond the ache in his chest when he thought of Magnus in pain. He tried ignore the overwhelming desire to make sure that Magnus never felt heartache again, to be the one to always bring a smile to his face.

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that,” Alec frowned. “It’s not like he’ll ever feel the same way, anyway. Besides, I don’t think he’s that closed off. Maybe it’s different when he’s romantically interested in someone.” Alec took a sip of his ice water, hoping the chill of it would help him refocus.

“Alright,” Clary gave him an indecipherable look.

“Wasn’t there a reason you two wanted to meet for lunch?” Alec asked, seizing the opportunity of a lull in conversation. “Was it just to interrogate me about my lack of a love life?”

Jace snorted. “No, no. We have some news.”

The couple exchanged another look, and Alec was about to make a sarcastic comment about how often they did that, when Jace spoke again.

“We’re getting married!” He blurted, and Clary held up her left hand to show off a simple silver band around her ring finger.

“Holy shit.” He narrowed his eyes at Jace. “How could you not tell me you were thinking of proposing? What kind of brother are you?”

At that, Jace began to turn red, and Clary began to giggle uncontrollably. Jace mumbled something under his breath, and Clary only laughed harder.

“What did you say?”

Jace sighed. “I didn’t. I didn’t propose.”

Alec’s eyebrows flew up. “Oh. Wow. Good for you, Fray. Fuck gender roles.” Alec melted into a smile. He was beyond thrilled for his brother.

Clary grinned. “We bought the ring together. I just wish I could’ve convinced him to wear an engagement ring, too.”

Alec snorted at Jace’s look of dismay. “Don’t worry, Jace, I’ll make sure this goes in my best man speech.” Alec paused. “I am going to be your best man, right?”

Jace’s dismay gave way to a wide grin. “Of course, man.”

Alec returned Jace’s easy smile. “Have you told Izzy yet?”

Clary rolled her eyes. “No, no we haven’t. Tell him why, Jace.”

Alec squinted in confusion, looking from Clary to Jace.

Jace ran a hand through his hair. “I may have insisted that we tell you before we told anyone else. I know it sounds sappy, but you’re my brother.”

Alec wanted to tease Jace for being so sentimental, but he knew he couldn’t. His parents had adopted Jace when he was twelve years old, and Alec knew that it had taken him a long time to adjust to being part of their family. He never even legally changed his name, refusing to lose his last connection to his birth parents. But he and Alec always had a connection, right from the start, and it had just gone stronger over the years. It didn’t matter if they didn’t share any DNA, they were brothers, and they always would be. So, Alec just gave him a reassuring smile.

“Thank you, Jace. That’s sweet.” Alec gave his brother’s hand a squeeze. “Really sweet. But if you guys don’t tell Izzy as soon as possible, I don’t think we’re ever going to find your bodies.”

Jace gulped like a fish, but Clary just laughed.

“He’s right, you know,” Clary said, as the waitress returned with their meals.

Jace gave Clary his best puppy dog eyes, and gestured to the burger that was now in front of him. “Can we at least eat first?”

Clary rolled her eyes affectionately. “Of course, we can eat first. But as soon as we’re done we’re calling Izzy and Simon.”

Jace grinned and leaned in to press a kiss to his fiance’s cheek. He paused for a moment, gazing into her eyes, and Alec couldn’t help but make fun of them.

“You two are disgusting.” He picked up a fry and popped it in his mouth.

“You think that was bad?” Jace turned his head to meet Alec’s eye. “Just wait until the wedding.”


 

The club was pulsing to the sounds of loud 80s dance pop, and although Magnus had only had a couple of drinks, he was still intoxicated by the environment--sweaty dancers, loud music, glitter. It was the best kind of place to spend a Friday night, after a long week of putting up with bullshit at work. Magnus loved his job, he really did, but God he hated lawyers. Well, no, that wasn’t true. He hated one lawyer in particular: Lorenzo Rey. His main competition for the position of partner at the firm, and the most pompous ass Magnus had ever met in his life. Lorenzo Rey seemed to believe that he was the smartest man in the world, despite his success rate in court being much lower than Magnus’s--and it wasn’t like Magnus had a perfect success rate to begin with--and he was just unbelievably insufferable. But as obnoxious as Lorenzo was, he was only part of what led Magnus to that moment, dancing and sweating in a club with Isabelle Lightwood. Most of it was due to his desire to drink enough to forget that the girl he practically raised was getting married, that he was still too chickenshit to even go on one date after breaking up with Camille, and that it wouldn’t even matter if he had the balls to put himself out there again because he was hung-up on Alec, anyway.

Not to mention, he was third wheeling Izzy and Simon, which really just served to add insult to injury. When Izzy asked him to accompany her to the club that night, she hadn’t mentioned that she would be bringing her boyfriend. Not that Magnus had minded at first, after all, Simon was his friend before he was Izzy’s boyfriend. But it became clear within minutes of arriving at the club that Izzy was more interested in grinding on Simon than spending time with Magnus. Magnus frowned, watching them in the throng of people on the dance floor. At least they looked like they were happy, which was more than Magnus could say for himself. He tore his eyes away from the couple and turned toward the bar. He needed a stronger drink.

He leaned against the bar, ignoring how sticky the counter was, and let his eyes slowly shut, taking a long breath before flagging down the bartender.

“Whiskey. Neat.” His voice came out rougher than he was expecting.

The bartender just nodded in response, and poured the drink. Magnus threw it back as a shot, reveling in the burn as it went down. He motioned for the bartender to pour him another, and turned back to watch the crowd again. He wished he could be as carefree as the others, that he wasn’t stuck thinking about soft, hazel eyes, and the messy dark hair that fell into those eyes, and God Magnus was screwed. He picked up the second shot and downed it even faster than the first. He slammed the glass down and considered following it with his face, but thought better of it, remembering how sticky the bar top was. He closed his eyes and listened as Whitney Houston blared through the club.

 

So when the night falls

My lonely heart calls

I wanna dance with somebody

I wanna feel the heat with somebody

I wanna dance with somebody

With somebody who loves me

 

Of all the songs the club could’ve played, this one felt like the universe mocking him. He opened his eyes, looked back towards the crowd, and was considering heading back out to the dancefloor, when Izzy appeared next to him, draping an arm over his shoulder. “Magnus!”

Izzy’s breath smelled like drinks that were more fruit juice than alcohol, but Magnus could tell that she was a good deal past tipsy regardless. “Magnus,” she giggled. “Having fun?”

“Oh,” Magnus rolled his eyes and gently pushed her off of him. “I’m just having a splendid time third wheeling you and Simon.”

Izzy scoffed. “You’re not a third wheel!”

“You’ve been dancing on him this entire night,” Magnus shook his head. “It’s fine, really.”

But Isabelle was frowning. “Simon isn’t here now, you know. If you want some one-on-one time.”

Magnus looked around, surprised to find that Izzy was exactly right. Simon was nowhere to be found. It was unusual, really. These days, he was almost always glued to Izzy’s side.

“Where is he?”

“Oh, he wanted to keep dancing,” Izzy shrugged. “But I wanted a break. And to find you and make sure you were okay.”

“Well, now you know I’m fine,” Magnus motioned to the bartender for another drink. “So you can run along and leave me to wallow in self pity and loneliness.”

To Magnus’s shock, Izzy didn’t budge from her spot. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Long week.” Magnus threw back his third shot of whiskey.

“That Lorenzo prick again?” Izzy asked, seeming genuinely concerned.

“Something like that.”

Izzy rolled her eyes. “Alright, we’re taking some selfies so you can remember how hot you are, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Selfies? Really?” But Izzy was already grabbing him by the shoulder and waving her phone in his face, so it seemed he didn’t have much choice. Izzy snapped a few pictures, with various garish and cartoony filters—flower crowns and little pink hearts and even stereotypical Hollywood starlet style sunglasses—and then lowered her phone to examine the pictures.

Magnus leaned over her shoulder, and frowned at what he saw. “This club lighting is terrible. You have to delete all of those.”

“Magnus,” Izzy groaned. “Don’t be such a wet blanket! They’re cute!”

“Isabelle!” Magnus crossed his arms. “I look like a toad in those pictures.”

Izzy smirked. “I’m sure my brother would disagree.”

Magnus froze. “What? What do you mean?”

Izzy’s eyes widened, and she slapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh, fuck, forget I said that.”

“Izzy,” Magnus hated how his voice shook. “Please. What does that mean ?”

Izzy sighed. “Alec is going to kill me.”

Magnus didn’t speak, he wasn’t sure he even could.

“Alec is, like, crazy into you,” Izzy admitted. “But you can’t tell him I told you.”

Magnus’s head was spinning. “Alec...has feelings for me?” It didn’t seem possible, it had to be some kind of joke.

Izzy nodded. “Big ones.” She hesitated. “Magnus, I...Alec cares about you a lot , please don’t hurt him.”

Magnus blew out a long puff of air. “I wouldn’t dream of it, Isabelle.” With that Magnus pushed off the bar. “I should go.”

“Magnus…”

“I just need to process this, okay?” Magnus didn’t let Isabelle respond before he rushed out the club. Even outside in the cool night air, he felt like he couldn’t breathe. His thoughts were a jumble, slightly panicked and slightly confused from the alcohol, but all of them circled back to one thing. Alec.

He pulled out his phone and dialed in a haze, as he walked down the street towards his apartment.

“You’re lucky I’m on a break,” Catarina sounded tired. Likely she expected Magnus to be drunk and sloppy and nonsensical. Maybe that would’ve been better.

“I..” Magnus stopped, the words sticking to the roof of his mouth. It was ridiculous, really, how worked up he was getting. “It’s just…”

“I only have six minutes left of my break, Magnus, so spit it out.” Magnus could picture Catarina with her hand on her hip, exasperated.

“Izzy told me that Alec has feelings for me,” Magnus blurted. “Big ones, apparently. Her words.”

“Okay…” Catarina spoke slowly. “And this is a problem because?”

“Because!” Magnus exclaimed, waving a hand. “I don’t know what to do about it! Do I tell him I like him too? Do I date him? I’m not supposed to be dating anybody anymore, Cat!”

There was a pause, and then Catarina’s loud laugh. “You’re an idiot, Magnus Bane.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve been talking about Alec Lightwood for over a month now. It’s been Alec is so kind and Alec is so handsome and Alec remembered my sandwich order and Alec said the sweetest thing,” Catarina sounded frustrated, if not downright angry.

“Have I really been that bad?” Magnus cringed at himself.

“You’ve been worse,” Catarina quipped. “But that’s not the point. The guy you’ve been pining after like a teenager likes you back, and you don’t know what to do about it? Are you kidding me, Magnus?”

“Catarina,” Magnus swallowed thickly. “I can’t...I can’t ruin this. You know my track record with relationships. Imasu. Camille. I care about Alec too much to subject him to the possibility of being hurt like that.”

Catarina huffed. “Your bad luck in relationships has to do with the people you’ve dated, not you. I mean, Camille was soul-sucking. Do you really think that being with Alec would be like Camille? Or Imasu?”

Magnus bit his lip. “No, no it wouldn’t be. He’s different.”

Catarina spoke again, firm and certain, and suddenly the world stopped spinning around Magnus. “The only way you mess this up is if you don’t do anything about it.”


 

Alec Lightwood was not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. He slept in any chance he got. Especially if it was the weekend. Extra especially if it was a Saturday. So, he wasn’t too thrilled about his phone ringing at 8 AM, and he was even less thrilled when he realized it was a telemarketer. He hung up and snuggled back under the covers, ready to sleep for a couple more hours, at least, but after fifteen minutes of tossing and turning and trying to ignore the sounds of his neighbors getting up and starting their days, he gave up. He kicked his sheets off and sent a text to Jace, perpetual morning person that he was.

Got time for a morning run?

He didn’t wait for a reply, before throwing on his running shorts, an old t-shirt, and the pair of Nike sneakers Izzy had gotten him for his last birthday. By the time he was ready, his phone was buzzing with Jace’s response--affirmative, like Alec knew it would be. Alec jogged to the little park that they always met at, and waited by the gate for Jace. Jace may have been an early riser, but he was late to everything else. Eventually, though, he did show. Alec liked running with Jace, because where Alec had the stamina to run at a steady pace for miles, Jace was more of a sprinter. Keeping up with his speed was the perfect challenge for Alec. Of course, he didn’t count on spending the entire run, which lasted roughly an hour, listening to Jace talk about wedding plans. Alec really had no idea how Clary Fray had turned his gym rat, personal trainer, jock-bro brother into a guy who cared about flower arrangements and color schemes, but it was driving Alec crazy. Not that he wasn’t thrilled that Jace was so happy and excited to be getting married, but he and Clary seemed so young (even if Jace was only a year younger than Alec), and it worried Alec for their future, and made him question his own. By the time the run was over, Alec was in an even worse mood than before.

He walked into his apartment with a huff, deciding on a hot shower and then a cheese omelette for breakfast. He stripped off his sweaty clothes and tossed them on the floor on his way to the shower. Just as he was putting his phone down on the bathroom counter (he’d leave clothes on the floor, but he drew the line at something that would break if he stepped on it), when it buzzed with a text from Magnus.

You free for coffee?

Absolutely!

Just had a run, so give me time for a shower.

So shall we say 10:15?

Sounds perfect.

Alec couldn’t keep the smile off his face for his entire shower. Suddenly he was immensely grateful to the telemarketer that had forced him awake before noon. He and Magnus had only gotten coffee together a handful of times, because as much as he liked Magnus, Alec wasn’t going to be a morning person for him. But they had found an adorable cafe almost smack in between their apartments—or more accurately, Magnus had found it, and Alec had dragged himself out of bed on three separate occasions to meet Magnus there.

Alec showered quickly, and managed to be dry and dressed by 9:30. He decided to forgo his original omelette plan, and instead went with a couple of fried eggs on toast. He didn’t linger over his breakfast, and couldn’t be bothered to rinse his dish. He was too eager to see Magnus, to hear about his week at work, or his night out with Izzy, or literally anything Magnus wanted to talk about. Alec could listen to him talk for hours, and he would still be hanging off his every word.

Alec made it to the cafe at exactly 10 AM, and was surprised to find that Magnus was already there, ordering their drinks (a double espresso for himself and a white mocha for Alec, because as much as Alec pretended he liked his coffee black, he actually had a secret sweet tooth). Alec beamed at the sight of him. He loved knowing that Magnus knew him well enough, paid attention enough, to remember that.

“Magnus!” Alec called, approaching him as he moved away from the counter towards an open table.

“Alexander,” Magnus smiled when he saw Alec, just as he was sitting down at the table. Magnus was wearing only a little makeup that morning, which Alec loved. Magnus’s makeup always seemed like armor, and he seemed so much softer without it.

“Good morning.” Alec slid into the seat across from Magnus. “Thanks for ordering.”

“Of course,” Magnus shrugged. “I invited you out, so the drinks are on me.”

Alec nodded. “Well, then, next time is on me.”

“Deal.”

“So,” Alec leaned back in his chair. “How was your week? I know I saw you on Wednesday for lunch, but—”

Magnus cut him off. “I don’t want to talk about work.”

“Alright,” Alec shrugged and shifted topics. “Izzy told me you guys went out last night? Did you have a good time?”

“Alexander.” Magnus’s voice was quiet, nervous almost, and Alec’s stomach dipped in concern. “I wanted your advice, as my ‘relationship sponsor’”

“Oh.” Alec’s stomach dipped in a completely different way, but he ignored it. “You met someone?”

Magnus nodded and Alec felt his heart splintering in his chest. He didn’t speak, instead he waited for Magnus to elaborate. “Actually, he’s someone I’ve known for awhile, but I didn’t see him this way until recently. I mean,” Magnus chuckled, “he’s always been gorgeous. But now that I know him, and I know how kind and compassionate and amazing he is under that grumpy, quiet exterior, I do believe I’m falling for him.”

Alec’s heart jumped in his throat. What Magnus was describing, it sounded like...almost like... No . Alec killed the hope before it even formed. There was no way Magnus was talking about him. “So you really like this guy, huh?”

“I do,” Magnus nodded. “But I admit I’m scared. I didn’t plan on falling for someone so soon after Camille. He really took me by surprise.”

“Hm.” Alec didn’t want to, possibly couldn’t, speak beyond a small noise to let Magnus know he was listening.

“But this guy. He’s different. He’s a great older brother, always looking out for his siblings. And he’s so passionate, especially when he’s talking about history or politics, or his dissertation. He’s going to make an incredible professor someday.” Magnus paused and took a breath. “So what do you think? Is he worth opening my heart up again?”

Alec’s heart was beating a mile a minute. Magnus was talking about him, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind. It wasn’t just in his words, but from the way he held Alec’s gaze, his brown eyes wide and vulnerable.

Alec opened his mouth, and let his words come out in a jumble. “I’ve had a huge crush on you since we met, that’s why I was so standoffish around you. I could barely form words.”

Magnus laughed. “And all this time I thought you just didn’t like me when first met.”

Alec felt his face flushing. “Quite the opposite.”

There was a lingering pause, neither one quite sure what to do, until Alec couldn’t hold back any longer. “Can I kiss you?”

Magnus’s eyebrows flew up, and Alec was instantly filled with regret.

“Oh no, did I—I totally read this wrong, I’m so sorry, I—” He was cut off by Magnus’s lips on his, as Magnus stretched across the table to reach him. It was sloppy and hasty and slightly awkward over the table, but Alec’s heart surged in his chest, his hands finding Magnus’s hair, pulling him deeper into the kiss, as he moved forward, to meet him halfway. Even as his lungs burned for air, he refused to pull away. He wanted to kiss Magnus Bane for as long as they lived.

But Magnus had other ideas. He pulled back, breathless and flushed, lips swollen, and hair mussed, and Alec couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of pride, because he did that .

“Alexander,” Magnus breathed, “Of course I was talking about you.”

Alec couldn’t help the goofy grin that spread across his face. “Then, I would say, he’s going to try his best every single day to be worth the risk because he’s absolutely crazy about you.”

Magnus beamed.

Alec leaned across the table to capture Magnus’s lips in another kiss—softer this time, less desperate and messy, but just as perfect as the first one. The barista calling out their drink order pulled them apart, but neither of them cared too much about the coffee anyway.

Magnus turned to him as soon as they pick up their drinks. “You wanna get out of here?”

Alec nodded quickly. “Definitely.”

They walked for awhile, and ended up at Magnus’s, where they talked and kissed and talked and kissed some more. And by the time Alec left and walked back to his own apartment that afternoon, he knew that he had already given himself, heart and soul, to Magnus Bane.


Epilogue:

Magnus stood in his bathroom, examining his appearance. His makeup was light, just simple eyeliner and a bit of light red eyeshadow from his sunset palette. His silk shirt was red to match his eyeshadow, and his pants were black and tight. He wore his usual rings and necklaces. He looked good, but not over the top, not like he had the year before. There was a gentle knock on the door.

Magnus grinned. There was only one person who could let himself into Magnus’s apartment, and he was exactly the person Magnus wanted to see. “Come in.”

The door opened slowly, to reveal Alexander, with a bouquet of white roses in one hand. He leaned forward to press a kiss to Magnus’s cheek. “Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you, darling.” Magnus took the roses eagerly. “I better get these in some water.”

Alec nodded and followed Magnus out to the kitchen. “You look great, by the way.”

“As do you,” Magnus responded, pulling a vase out of the cupboard. Alec blushed, glancing down at his dark jeans and leather jacket. “How was your day?”

“Uh,” Alec hesitated. “Busy.”

Magnus opened his mouth to question further, but he was preempted by a knock on the front door. Once again, Magnus’s friends were spending his birthday with him, as was his brother. Alec opened the door, letting Clary, Jace, Izzy, and Simon (and their gifts) in. Once again, Catarina had a night shift at the hospital, but she’d bought him lunch earlier to make up for it.

“Of course Alec is already here,” Jace rolled his eyes.

Alec moved to put an arm around Magnus, who was now holding a vase full of flowers that was destined for his coffee table. “And what about it?”

“You guys are disgustingly adorable,” Jace laughed.

Magnus lead the group to the coffee table, set down the flowers, and pulled each one into a hug before they sat down. The group fell into easy conversation for awhile, until Raphael showed up.

Raphael, ever a grump, managed a small smile. “Happy Birthday.”

“You’re late,” Magnus teased.

Raphael rolled his eyes. “Gotta keep you humble somehow.”

Magnus lead Raphael to the rest of the group, and they both sat down. Magnus took a moment to watch his friends. Raphael almost immediately started bickering with Simon. Magnus felt an overwhelming contentment flow through him, as he watched all his friends and family. Simon leaning into Izzy as he rolled his eyes as Raphael, Izzy laughing with Clary, who was holding Jace’s hand, Jace who was teasing Alec about something that made him blush scarlet. Alec. It had barely been a year, but Alec had made him happier than he ever thought possible. Magnus had no idea how he’d gotten so lucky to find, and fall mutually in love with, someone as amazing as Alexander Gideon Lightwood.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by Alec’s voice, as the man in question walked back over to him.

“You ready for your presents?”

Magnus raised an eyebrow. “A little early, isn’t it?”

Alec grinned. “I can’t wait any longer.”

Magnus smirked, taking in the eager look in his eyes, and deciding to take advantage of it. “I’m opening yours last. It’s tradition, after all.”

Alec rolled his eyes. “You’re the worst.”

“You love me.”

Alec softened immediately and murmured, “I do,” before turning to the group and clapping his hands. “Presents time!”

This time, Magnus received a vintage ring (Izzy), a new briefcase (Raphael), a nice watch to replace the one he’d broken a month back (Jace and Clary), and as always, some new books from Simon.

And then it was Alec’s turn. It was a small black box, with a delicate gold ribbon, and at first Magnus thought it might be jewelry. But it wasn’t, it was a key. A small, brass, apartment key.

“A key to your place?” Magnus asked, blinking rapidly in confusion. He already had a key to Alec’s place, and Alec one to his. They weren’t living together, not yet, but they both wanted the other to be able to come and go as he pleased.

Alec shook his head, his eyes watery. “No, a key to our place.”

“Our place?” Sure, they’d talked about moving in together, and had looked at a few apartments, even some that they’d really liked, but they’d never firmly agreed on anything.

“Remember that loft we looked at? The one with the mahogany floors and the big window overlooking Brooklyn?” Alec sniffed back his tears, but he was unable to hold back a smile.

Magnus felt out of breath. “I loved that place.”

“I know,” Alec swallowed thickly. “That’s why I went back the next day and put a bid on it. I didn’t know if we’d get it, so I didn’t say anything about it. But the realtor called me last week, and it’s ours. I signed the lease today.”

Magnus was at a loss for words. Ours . Our place. He sniffed back tears, his heart about to burst from the gesture. “Alexander.”

“Of course, there’s room on the lease for you to sign, too, but I just thought it would be a better gesture if it was actually our place, y’know?” Alec rubbed the back of his neck, a nervous tick, before plowing on. “So, will you move in with me?” He asked with a noise that was somewhere between a laugh and a choked sob.

Magnus set down the key and pulled his boyfriend into his arms. “Of course, I will. I love you so much.”

And then Alec’s lips were on his, deeply, passionately, as if none of their friends or family were in the room, as if Alec was drowning and Magnus’s lips were oxygen. He pulled back, after a moment, breathless, but still smiling. “I love you, too.”

Magnus returned his smile. “You continue to surprise me.”

“In good ways, I hope.”

In lieu of a verbal answer, Magnus pulled Alec into another kiss. This time it was softer, more restrained, but that didn’t much matter to their friends.  

“Get a room!” Simon called, effectively breaking them apart.

Magnus turned to Simon and grinned. “I think we just did.”