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Lavender panties, in soft, pure silk. A thin border of deep purple lace.

 

It’s the first thing Alec sees through the window.

The mannequin wearing the lavender panties ends abruptly, halfway up its torso. Alec can see a belly-button, and even the indentation of a pair of ribs, and then it just… stops. It should look horrifying, but somehow… it doesn’t. All of the similarly decapitated mannequins in the store window look oddly… elegant. He assumes that’s just the effect of the incredibly expensive-looking lingerie covering variously tiny patches of their bodies (which appear to be carved from wood, rich and dark). The whole display is surrounded in velvet. Everything is dark and muted, which makes the light-colored lingerie stand out even more than it already would.

Alec has to admit, it’s a gorgeous display.

It takes him longer than it should to look away. And once he does, he realizes that Magnus has been holding the door open for him. Looking at him looking at the display. Smiling that little smile.

Alec’s mouth opens, already forming the word ‘sorry’, but he manages stop himself before he can stutter it out. Because they had this discussion, when they first planned this trip. And again, when they left the loft this morning. And again, a few minutes ago.

Alec has nothing to apologize for.

He hears it in Magnus’s voice, like a mantra. Today is for him. He can do this however he wants. There’s no wrong way to do this. He can stare at the window display as long as his damn heart pleases. He has nothing to apologize for.

Maybe if they have that conversation a few more times, it’ll sink in.

With great effort, he manages to say, “Thanks,” instead of 'sorry', and he steps through the door.

The boutique isn’t what he was expecting. Then again, he really had no idea what to expect, so that’s not saying much. It’s a big space, but the deep colors and extensive amounts of stuff make it seem small. But in a nice way. A cozy way. It’s cozy.

The walls are lined with row upon row upon row of drawers, opened in perfect increments so you get a small peak of what’s neatly arranged inside each of them. On top of the drawers are mannequins, decapitated even further than the ones in the window. These are just mid-thigh to navel, just enough to show off various styles of panties. The back wall has a few bigger mannequins, these ones only missing their heads. They’re clearly reserved for the more… extensive stuff. They’re displaying corsets, stockings… bras (Magnus hadn’t talked about that, is that a thing? Is he supposed to buy a bra with all of this?), and other complicated pieces of finery that he can’t even process. These mannequins are surrounded mostly by well-stocked racks, but there are a few more drawers too. Tucked in the far left corner is something curtained off, something that’s probably a changing room? And in the far right corner, there’s the counter, small and simplistic, but still as elegant as everything else.

There’s a man standing behind the counter, typing something into the sleek computer. As Magnus and Alec walk in, a bell dings above their heads, and he looks up.

“Magnus!” The man says delightedly, with a smile that looks far too genuine to be basic retail professionalism.

“Good morning, Edward,” Magnus says with an equally warm expression.

Alec knows that face, and that tone of voice. Magnus knows a lot of people, and Alec’s seen him interact with way more than he can count. And by now, he’s picked up on some things. There’s a distinct difference between the way Magnus talks to a friend who knows him as Magnus Bane: twenty-something eccentric, and a friend who knows him as Magnus Bane: four-hundred-something warlock. There’s something… extra about his demeanor when he talks to someone who knows who he really is. Alec thinks it’s an awareness, like Magnus can show all of his years and experience without caring how it comes off. It’s subtle, because Magnus certainly doesn’t put a lot of effort into worrying what anyone else thinks of him. But it’s like a little touch of freedom, an extra hint of familiarity.

And that familiarity is plain on his face now. That expression - coupled with the fact that Edward looks to be at least fifty - makes Alec think that Magnus has probably been buying his lingerie here for a suspiciously long time.

Edward appears to be a mundane. His clothes are business casual, well-tailored, and probably outrageously expensive. His hair is that salt-and-pepper thing that looks so stupidly attractive, and the signs of age on his face don’t make him look old at all, just distinguished.

He’s disgustingly handsome.

Handsome enough that when he looks Alec over from head to toe and gives him a lopsided smile (with perfect teeth, of course), Alec feels his face heat up.

Edward looks back to Magnus, which is a bit of a relief, honestly. “You know what you’re doing. I’ll be here if you need me.” He flicks a hand out, lazily gesturing to the expanse of the store. “Go nuts.” And he winks, slow and pointed. Right at Magnus. Which-

Ah, shit.

Alec looks over at Magnus. Magnus just gives him a little smirk, and shrugs.

Well, that answers that.

It’s a strange feeling, knowing that everyone in the room has had sex with Magnus Bane at some point.

Alec distantly wonders if it’s a familiar feeling for Magnus.

It’s not jealousy. Well, not necessarily. Not in a bad, uncomfortable, problem-causing way. Alec knows Magnus hasn’t been moping around in Alec-less solitude for four hundred years. The thought of his… extensive history took a bit of getting used to, but by now, it’s a non-event.

That being said, Alec didn’t really need to know that his boyfriend has banged this gorgeous lingerie salesman. He was perfectly happy not knowing that.

Alec forces himself to stop thinking about it. Because it’s unimportant, and he knows that. And he knows that if he starts thinking about it too much, it’ll get weird, and he’ll start thinking about all sorts of unimportant details, like when it happened, because it might have been decades ago and goddammit, was Edward even hotter back then? He probably was. It was probably just a little fling, and it probably didn’t last long, and it obviously ended on good terms since there are definitely other places in New York where Magnus can get lingerie, right? Right. Obviously. So none of this is important and he doesn’t need to think about it at all, and he’s not going to think about it. Not at all.

He very intentionally gives all of his attention to the store instead.

The big, cozy, empty store.

Which, now that he realizes it… that’s… that’s strange, isn’t it?

There’s no one else here. Just him, and Magnus, and Edward - who’s still engrossed by the computer behind the counter. Just them. No one else.

But it’s a nice store. It’s in a nice area, on a very busy street. There should be at least someone else here, right? Even just another employee. This doesn’t make sense. It’s like-

Alec takes a breath.

And suddenly understands why Magnus insisted that they go lingerie shopping at nine in the morning on a Sunday.

He glances back to the door, and yeah, just like he expected, the side of the sign in the window that’s facing him says ‘Open’. Which means that to the rest of the world, it says ‘Closed’.

As far as romantic gestures go, ‘Calling in a favor with an ex to take your boyfriend lingerie shopping before the store opens so he doesn’t have to deal with other customers and get embarrassed’ certainly isn’t one Alec ever thought anyone would make. But here, on the receiving end of it, he feels like his heart is getting wrung out like a towel.

He turns back to Magnus, wanting to make sure he knows just how much this means to him. But he’s afraid that if he tries to speak, he’ll say something too intense, or his voice will break, or something else equally pathetic.

But Magnus has his little smile again, so Alec doesn’t have to say anything.

Still, he figures there’s no harm in making sure. So he takes Magnus’s hand in his own, and gives it a little squeeze.

Magnus’s smile gets bigger, and to Alec, it’s like seeing the sun come up.

Then Magnus nods to the store. “Well?”

Alec can actually feel the color drain from his face. He suddenly realizes that they’ve barely taken a step in from the door. He glances around, and it’s like the store expands before his eyes. Faced with actually shopping in here, the coziness vanishes and all he sees is an overwhelmingly infinite space. The few opinions he’d thought he’d formed about lingerie decide to slip right out of his brain, and the entire concept of ‘underwear’ becomes a foreign language.

Magnus giggles, which is simultaneously adorable and infuriating, since it means he can see exactly how helpless Alec feels. But he just squeezes Alec’s hand right back, and starts to tug him toward the nearest display. “Here. Let’s cover some basics.”

And then, it’s a whirlwind.

Alec figures out that the various mannequins show the style of panties in the stack of drawers underneath them, and the different drawers are based on size. The store becomes less overwhelming once Alec understands how it’s organized. The sheer amount of variety is still a bit much to take in, but Magnus is an incredibly knowledgeable guide. In just the first few minutes, Alec learns the difference between bikinis and hipsters, between silk and satin, and that there are a stupid amount of thong varieties (why are there so many? Alec always assumed ‘thong’ was a style in and of itself, why isn’t that enough?).

And though Magnus clearly has an opinion on everything, he doesn’t give it. He only points out the practical facts. That lace can be hard to maintain. That no matter how soft anything else feels, regular old cotton will probably feel the most comfortable under Alec’s gear - especially at first. That it really does take a while to get used to wearing a g-string without wanting to constantly dig it out of your ass (Alec laughs at that). That it’s hard to keep white panties really white without using bleach, so it might not be best for more delicate fabrics. Everything he says is objective. He’s just sharing his wealth of experience. He’s teaching Alec, but still letting Alec form his opinions entirely on his own.

When they’ve made it through the bulk of the panties, Magnus glances pointedly at the back wall.

Alec follows his gaze, and realizes they’ve made it over to the… other things. The mannequin right in front of him is wearing thin fishnet stockings, attached to some sort of belt with ribbons, and a bright red corset, covered in tight laces. He looks over the other mannequins and finds a variety of lace tank tops, bras, stockings (even a pair that just keeps going, all the way up to the mannequin’s chest), and one rather outrageous sheer robe, trimmed with feathers like a boa.

He looks back to Magnus, eyes a little wider than he’d like.

Magnus just raises his eyebrows, hoping for Alec’s opinion. “Hm?”

Alec stutters for a solid fifteen seconds without getting out a single damn word.

Magnus laughs and casually nudges Alec back to the rest of the store. “Alright, we’ll keep it simple for today.” But his tone suggests that some other day, he’s planning on lacing Alec up in fishnet from head to toe.

Alec expects Magnus to start explaining something else, but he just stops, and smiles. “Well? What’s caught your eye so far?”

Alec had assumed that inevitable question would leave him completely clueless again, but to his surprise, he knows exactly what he’s doing. He makes his way through the store until he finds the particular display again. These panties are pure lace, with a bow on either hip. They’re similar in design to the ones he’d worn from Magnus’s closet… and he supposes that’s why he’s drawn to them. He slides open a drawer and sees the same style of panties in half a dozen different colors. One of them is pink, a little lighter than Magnus’s, but… close enough.

He glances around, expecting Magnus to be right behind him, hovering to give advice. But he’s over at the counter, finally taking Edward’s focus away from the computer. They fall into conversation easily, and Alec gives his focus back to the open drawer of lace panties.

But then he hears Edward say, “You certainly weren’t lying,” to Magnus in a particularly gooey tone. Alec risks a glance over his shoulder, and finds them both smirking openly at him.

He snaps his gaze back to the drawer, face instantly bright red. Because, great. Now he gets to spend the rest of his life wondering what the hell Edward meant by that.

He closes the drawer and opens the one beneath it, checking to see if there are different colors. But he has to bend over a little to reach it… and he becomes palpably aware that there are two gorgeous men staring at his ass. It’s definitely a new feeling, but… it isn’t necessarily terrible.

Knowing he won’t be able to focus otherwise, Alec lets himself eavesdrop for another moment. But apparently the Alec-ogling portion of the conversation is over, because now they’re both talking shop. It’s a blur of terms that Alec has just learned, a quick back-and-forth about which cuts would work best for his hips and which colors would look best with his eyes. But while it’s certainly interesting to hear the opinion of two professionals, Alec decides to tune out, and keep looking for himself.

For the most part, he just wanders through the store, poking through drawers when something draws his attention. He takes things out and spends a lot of time feeling them, imagining what they’d be like to wear during training, out on duty, just walking around the Institute… and… with certain pairs… how they’d feel during sex. He spends a lot more time with those, trying to think through the nitty-gritty mechanics of it. Whether they’d be better for fucking or getting fucked. If they’d look good against his bare skin. If they could withstand being used a little… roughly.

Eventually, Magnus does start floating along the same path as Alec. He never imposes himself into Alec’s shopping space, but when Alec seems particularly interested, he’ll put a hand on his shoulder, or brush against his elbow, or touch the back of his neck, just enough to get his attention. “These?” he asks every time. And if Alec says yes, he double-checks that he’s picked the right size, and brings them back to the counter, leaving Alec to continue shopping.

Nothing has a price. Alec hasn’t seen one price tag in the entire place. He’s sincerely hoping that that’s just the way it is here, and that this wasn’t some other consideration Magnus made just for his sake.

Because he knows it’s fucking necessary. If he had any idea how much any of this stuff cost, he wouldn’t be getting a damn thing. It doesn’t matter how extravagantly wealthy Magnus may be, Alec will never be conceptually comfortable with him spending undoubtedly ridiculous amounts of money just so one stupid Shadowhunter can have fancy underwear.  

By the time Alec feels like he’s combed through the entire store, he’s lost track of how many panties Magnus has taken up to the counter for him. Probably… not more than… it can’t be more than ten, right? But that’s still… he grits his teeth, forcing himself to feel grateful and not guilty. Magnus chose to do this for him. He could have stopped him at any point, told him that was enough, or that a particular pair was too expensive. But he’s seemed ecstatic this whole time, smiling at Alec, giving him soft little touches when they talk, always looking like he wholeheartedly approves of Alec’s choices (and with some of the skimpier ones, he’s looked downright hungry, like he’s ready to throw Alec down and take him right there in the middle of the store).

It’s… it’s nice. All of it is nice. Yes, being pampered like this isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing in the world for Alec, but at the same time… it kind of… is. He’s not used to getting to go through a store and buy whatever he wants. Once he puts the phantom price tags out of his mind, he actually… likes it. He loves it. Seeing something beautiful, saying “I want this,” and then… getting to have it. Watching Magnus smile every time he makes a decision. Not only being allowed to do this, but being encouraged. Not only wanting to have this, but having someone else want him to have it too. It’s… yeah. It’s nice. It’s so nice.

And when he finally gives in, finally stops himself and decides that he’s gotten more than enough for one lifetime, let alone one day, Magnus looks as happy as ever. And… Alec’s probably imagining it, but he thinks Magnus almost looks… a little proud.

The mystery of pricing continues at the counter as Edward rings them up. Alec doesn’t see any numbers, even on the little screen on the register. No total is displayed, or said out loud, or even acknowledged. Magnus just hands over a credit card without question. It’s the perfect combination of comforting and fucking terrifying. Alec guiltily tries to sneak a glance at the receipt, but Magnus knows him too well, and keeps his hand over the total as he signs. And then he gives Alec a little admonishing smile, one eyebrow raised.

Edward gives the neatly-packed bag to Alec, and Alec almost doesn’t understand. Because it’s tiny. It’s the smallest shopping bag he’s ever seen. He takes it and glances in, to make sure that, yeah, it’s all there. It makes sense, obviously. Nothing he picked out is bigger than a goddamn kleenex, so of course it doesn’t take up much space when it’s all folded away. But still. They’ve been in here for… by the Angel, he doesn’t even know. An hour, at least. Maybe two. All that time, picking the store to pieces.

And it all amounts to the smallest shopping bag in the world.

The moment of trepidation ends quite abruptly when Alec shifts aside the tissue lining the bag, and sees-

Little patches of color. Neatly folded pieces of luxury. Some ribbons sitting on top. Lace. There’s a lot of lace. It didn’t take Alec very long to realize that lace is his… thing. He has a definite thing for lace. Nearly every pair in there has at least a hint of lace somewhere on it.

And it’s all his.

It’s all his.

He doesn’t realize that he’s smiling stupidly into the bag until Magnus and Edward are saying their goodbyes. Magnus is already taking him by the arm and leading him to the door by the time Alec manages to make his voice work again, and he sputters out a quick “Thanks,” to Edward.

Edward smiles at him, luckily much more sincere and less flirtatious than before. “Enjoy.”

It’s like Alec had forgotten there was a world outside the store. The bright sun makes him blink too hard, and it breaks the spell of his luxurious morning. He’s reminded of his torn, ratty clothing, the bruise on his shoulder that hasn’t quite healed yet, and every fucking one of his responsibilities waiting for him back at the Institute.

But then he glances down at the bag in his hand. The tissue’s covering most of it, but he can still see one sliver of pink lace. One shred of prettiness.

And it’s his.

“Magnus…” he starts uncertainly, everything in him rising up all at once, one sickening wave of emotion hitting him right there on the busy street.

Magnus kisses his cheek, letting his lips linger for a few moments. “I know, darling.”

And he does. He does. Alec’s floored by the thought. Something so completely inexpressible has just happened, all contained in the little bag in his hand, and he’ll never be able to really explain what it is, and how much it means.

But Magnus knows.

Magnus must be able to see Alec getting overwhelmed, because he gives him another quick peck on the cheek, and gently tugs at his arm to get him walking again. “Come on, I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly eager to get home as quickly as possible.”

Alec’s mind is still a little too frazzled to follow. “Why?”

Magnus laughs, and drops Alec’s arm in favor of taking his hand instead, slowly twining their fingers together. “Because you, darling, have some modeling to do.”

Alec automatically opens his mouth to protest.

But then, he closes it again.

Because that…

That doesn’t sound half bad.

It actually sounds… pretty nice.

 


 

Cream-colored lace, small in the back, even smaller in the front. Held together at the sides with thin black ribbons.

 

There’s a bruise on Alec’s hip, from where he’d stupidly let Jace get in a solid kick during their last training session. It isn’t horrible, but it’s making it really fucking annoying to keep his laundry basket balanced against his side as he walks back to his room.

The annoyance of the pressure on the bruise is only serving to exacerbate all the other annoyances that are pretty much an inescapable fact of laundry day.

Alec really doesn’t mind doing laundry, when it comes down to it. He likes the excuse to spend an hour or two doing something that’s calm, and quiet, and stress-free (for the most part). And while clothing is still maybe the absolute lowest thing on his list of priorities, he can’t deny how nice it feels to put on a t-shirt that smells like flowers. It's certainly nicer than putting on one that smells like sweat and ichor.

But, as always, the pleasant calm of the laundry ritual breaks off into barely-contained suffering the moment he’s left with a hamper full of clothes to fold. Things get jumbled up in the wash, and he can almost pretend that the whirling mass of gray and black is a mysterious collection of elegant, stylish pieces. But the moment he pulls them out of the dryer, they’re back to being shitty jeans, t-shirts he’s had since puberty, and socks with holes in the heel. And then he has to fold them. Or hang them up. Or roll them into little space-saving balls. Over and over and over and over again. It’s a mind-numbing process that always leaves Alec itching for a demon attack, just to break the tedium.

And if all that weren’t enough, there’s the added annoyance of his siblings. By this point, Alec is pretty damn convinced that they must intentionally go into Alec’s room to take off their clothes, because there is always - always - at least one piece of their clothing in his hamper. Always. He’s done laundry every two weeks for as long as he can remember. And every two weeks, for as long as he can remember, there’s been something from both Izzy and Jace in his basket that he doesn’t notice until he pulls it out of the dryer.

Every. Fucking. Time.

So with the laundry basket digging into his bruised hip, and his patience about to snap at any moment, he heads to Jace’s room. He knocks, several times. Unsurprisingly, there’s no response. He doesn’t feel bad about letting himself in to the empty room. If Jace wants his room to be private, he should learn to keep his damn laundry to himself.

Alec has the t-shirt and two pairs of boxer-briefs slung over his left shoulder. He takes them off and tosses them vaguely toward the bed without even stepping into the room. Just because he’s been tricked into washing Jace’s underwear again doesn’t mean he’s going to be happy about it. Or care that the clothes don’t quite make it on the bed, and tumble down to the carpet. Close enough.

He goes to Izzy’s room next, just about ready to give up, drop his hamper on the floor, and take a nap right there in the hallway.

He’s not sure what Isabelle was doing in her room, but she opens the door almost immediately when Alec knocks.

“Got some of your laundry. Again,” he says without preamble, barely trying to sound civil.

Isabelle has the decency to look the tiniest bit apologetic (even though it’s not convincing). But then her eyes go to Alec’s laundry basket, and her contrition becomes significantly more sincere. “Oh, by the Angel! Sorry, sorry-

She reaches into the basket, grabbing something like she’s desperate for it.

Alec opens his mouth to protest, but she’s already got the panties in her grip.

“Sorry,” she says again, shifting the ivory lace between her fingers in an attempt to hide the panties in her hands, “I know my big brother doesn’t want to see this. I swear I don’t know how it got… in your… stuff…”

Her voice trails off. Because she’s looking more carefully at the panties. Her hands spread out, holding them up to see the full shape of them. It takes her a moment to realize that they definitely aren’t her size.

Her eyes widen. And she slowly looks up at Alec.

Alec knows that theoretically, there are probably worse ways to learn that you and your baby sister own an identical pair of panties. But that’s not very comforting right now.

After a deep, steadying breath, Alec takes the pink camisole from where it’s slung over his right shoulder, and holds it out to her.

Without a word, she gently sets the panties back in Alec’s laundry basket, takes the camisole from him, and shuts the door.

 


 

A powder blue thong. Lace around the top, cotton everywhere else. Simple, and comfortable.

 

Alec’s scrubbed his skin raw. He’s pretty sure if he scrubs any more, he’ll start bleeding. Well, bleeding more than he already is.

Because he’s a fucking idiot who couldn’t even get the iratze onto his skin quickly enough to heal his fucking scrapes before they started gushing all over him.

The hot water stings in his open cuts, enough to make him wince. But he doesn’t move. He just keeps scrubbing. He gasps as he scrubs body wash right into the wound on his left bicep, but he still doesn’t stop. He keeps scrubbing. He keeps scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing and godfucking dammit, why can’t he fucking stop?

He slams his fist into the shower knob, shutting off the water with a harsh crack against his knuckles. He can’t breathe, there’s too much steam, there’s not enough air-

He tugs at the curtain frantically enough that he almost dislodges the rod as he stumbles out into the bathroom. He still can’t breathe.

He’d just showered this morning, so the towel hanging from the hook on the bathroom door is still damp. But that means it’s cold, which is a bit of relief. Alec scrapes it across his skin, desperate to wipe down the water and the blood and the leftover suds that he didn’t rinse off. The rough fabric is a small agony against his injuries, but that just makes Alec press down harder. Watching the blood stain the white towel makes his heart beat even louder in his ears.

The iratze finally kicks in, and he can see his skin slowly start to knit back together, leaving bright scars instead. Alec knows that’s good, he knows that’s what his body needs, he knows it, he knows it, but for some stupid fucking reason seeing the wounds stop bleeding makes him throw the towel at the mirror with a shout of frustration.

But that just draws his attention to the mirror. The shower wasn’t hot enough to really fog it up. He can see himself. He sees himself in the mirror. He sees the runes, the brand new scars, the smear of blood on his chest that the towel didn’t quite reach. He blinks, and his reflection goes blurry. He realizes it’s because there are tears, quickly welling up and starting to slip down his face-

He presses the heels of his hands into his eyes, hard enough to make his head pound in protest as his nails claw at his forehead. His breaths are loud and ragged, and hearing himself whimper like this just makes him press his hands even harder.

How many more? How many already, and then… how many more?

How many things has he killed this week? How many people were hurt because he couldn’t kill them sooner? How many more will there be before the week ends? How many things does he still have to kill? How much killing does he have to do before people are safe and it’s not his responsibility anymore and he can stop, he can stop worrying and killing and knowing that if he doesn’t keep killing, people will die, and it’ll be all his fault, because maybe it won’t be that mundane stranger next time, maybe it’ll be Jace, or Izzy, or Max, and it’ll be all his fault, all his fault-

His back hits the wall. He doesn’t remember moving. His legs shake, and he can’t keep himself up anymore. He slides to the floor, hands tangled tightly in his dripping wet hair.

He keeps gasping, desperately trying to keep breathing, since that’s all he can manage right now. He pulls harder at his hair, using the sharp pain to get his brain to shut up for a second, just one fucking second, needing any sort of distraction.

Because everything’s fine now.

It’s fine now.

It’s fine now.

The attack today wasn’t even that bad. It was just a few minor demons, that had somehow made their way into a mundane apartment complex. No one was severely injured. Jace and Isabelle and Clary are all fine. Bumps and bruises, but nothing more than they’d get in a mild training session. He only has a few scratches, and those are healed now. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine.

But this week just hasn’t let up.

Every day, every fucking day this week, there’s been something. An appearance, an attack, something. With no relief.

And apparently, Alec’s finally reached his breaking point. Of course, it happens to be after the least eventful day. Two mundanes died in Central Park on Monday, but of course these little papercuts today are the thing that finally leaves him sobbing on the floor.

He can’t breathe.

His mouth is open, jaw working like that’ll somehow help. But it doesn’t. Any time he manages to suck in a hint of air, his throat just forces it right out again, with these ugly, ugly noises, these broken little whimpers that are shaken out of his fucking useless lungs. He doesn’t feel like he’s crying - he feels too frazzled to be able to cry - but his face is wet, and dripping onto his bare legs.

He wants to stop. Fuck, he wants to stop. He wants to stop gasping for breath and stop crying and stop panicking and stop being so childish and just stop. He wants this to be done.

Rationally, he knows he’s only there for a few minutes, but it feels like hours before he manages to take a decent breath. And then a few more hours before the deep breaths keep coming, one after the other.

It doesn’t feel like he actually calms down. More like his body just… exhausts itself. He’s not done crying, there just aren’t any tears left. Exhaustion.

He’s exhausted. The past few minutes huddled and doing nothing on the floor took more energy than it did to kill those demons-

But he can’t think about that.

He makes another noise, against his will. Another wracking sob, even though he’s got nothing left to give.

Slowly, painfully slowly, everything settles. Nothing’s better. Nothing’s fixed. Nothing’s okay.

But he can breathe again.

It’s a few more minutes of being huddled there on the tiles, just breathing, before he feels ready to move again. When he shakily pulls himself to his feet, his whole body is sore, and his head is aching, and the combination of tears and snot drying on his face feels cracked and stings his skin.

He feels like he needs another shower.

But that is fucking ridiculous.

This whole… thing has been fucking ridiculous, but taking a third shower in less than five hours is where he draws the fucking line.

He settles for going over to the sink. Splashing some painfully cold water on his face. And on the patch of dried blood on his chest. His discarded towel is hanging off the counter, and he scrubs it roughly against his face and hair, trying to wipe away whatever the fuck just happened to him. He drops the towel on the floor, way past caring about being tidy. And he looks up at the mirror-

Which was a mistake. Holy fuck, he should know better by now.

Because it’s horrific.

He looks horrific.

His hair is standing up everywhere. His face is puffy, splotchy, drained and lifeless in some places and bright red in others. There’s a thick black smudge under each eye, two matching smears of mascara that didn’t wash off in the shower. The makeup streaks down his cheeks in faded lines, following the path of his tears. There are new scars and bruises littering his torso. He can see his chest heaving with his still-uneven breaths. His muscles stand out, straining with the effort of just keeping himself upright. He sees the scars and the runes and the muscles and it’s just a weapon, he’s just a weapon, his body is just a weapon and it’s disgusting he looks so fucking disgusting-

He slumps down, resting his elbows on the counter, letting his head hang between his shoulders. He can’t keep looking at himself. His eyes screw shut, adding an extra pang to the ache in his head.

He takes a deep breath, feeling it rattle in his lungs.

Alright.

He can do this.

This… whatever this was… this hasn’t happened before. But other things have. He’s dealt with… he’s dealt with shit like this before. He can do this. He knows how to do this. He can be fine. He can.

He lifts his head back up, but this time carefully avoids even the smallest glance at the mirror. He focuses on the sink again. Yeah. He can do this.

This time, he waits until the water is at least mildly warm. Then he thoroughly splashes his face, cupping his hands and dousing himself until water’s running all the way down his body. He rubs his hands firmly over his face and neck, making sure he wipes away any hint of dried tears. By the time he finally shuts off the water, he actually feels somewhat… refreshed.

After a slight hesitation, he turns the water back on. Cold. He awkwardly ducks his head under the faucet so he can take several long drinks, feeling the icy water shock his system back into something that resembles ‘lifelike’.

He shuts off the water with one hand and reaches for his towel with the other. But this time, he’s gentle as he pats his face dry, then ruffles the last of the water out of his hair, then rubs down all the water that’s left on the rest of his body.

Alright. Yeah. This is a good starting point. He feels like he just woke up. Like his panic was last night, or the night before, and he’s gotten a bit of emotional distance. The day’s starting over. He’s just woken up. Just got out of the shower. And it’s time to get ready.

He can do this.

He can do this.

After gathering his courage, he risks a quick look in the mirror.

It’s… better. It’s bad, but it’s better.

There’s still mascara under his eyes.

Sometimes he wonders if it’d be easier to just buy cheap, non-waterproof crap, so it’d wash off easier.

It’s almost soothingly familiar to open the cupboard under the sink and dig around for his bottle of makeup remover and sleeve of cotton pads. It feels kind of… refreshing, to soak the soft little circle and wipe it across his eyes, finally getting rid of whatever mascara his shower didn’t take off.

It really shouldn’t feel so familiar yet. It’s only been a few months since he started tentatively putting on the barest traces of makeup in the morning. He’d gone and bought the supplies for a simple little kit, and between Izzy and Magnus helping him, he’s learned how to do even pretty complicated things by himself. But while it’s easy enough to wear lip gloss and winged eyeliner at Magnus’s apartment, the Institute is a different story. It had started with just powder, just enough so he didn’t feel completely bare. Then, he’d added blush. And then, mascara. That finally started catching people’s attention, but no one had said anything. And now, it’s his daily routine: powder, blush, and mascara. Sometimes, a tiny bit of foundation, if he finds his face particularly unbearable that day. Obviously, he doesn’t wear a damn thing when his parents are at the Institute, but apart from that… it’s just the way things are now.

Which means that this is a part of his daily life now. Wiping away the smeared, crusted residue under his eyes. Every morning. He’s already done this once today. But that just makes it… more comforting, doing it again so soon. It’s the ritual of it, the calm, familiar guarantee of how this works.

It isn’t until his face is wiped clean that he realizes he’s still completely naked. That’s not part of the routine. Normally, that’s the first thing he does when he gets out of the shower. Put on his underwear.

In a dumb, sentimental sort of way, it’s the best part of his morning.

It’s a big decision, deciding what pair he’s going to have that day. What he’s going to feel under his clothes. What he’s going to know is there, while no one else has any clue. It’s almost like he’s deciding what kind of day he’s going to have. It’s… thrilling.

This morning, before getting into his first shower of the day, he’d picked the thong. Because it’s so shockingly comfortable (and when had he started thinking thongs are comfortable?). And the shade of blue is nice, and soft, and simple. And there’s just enough lace around the top to still make it - and him - feel wonderfully… pretty.

The thong is currently in a haphazard pile of discarded clothing. He’d practically torn it all off as he stumbled into the shower after getting back from the mission.

It feels weird, putting on the same pair of panties after taking a shower. But he’d barely worn them for a few hours, and right now… he’s not sure he can bring himself to pick out another pair. He’s exhausted. He’s so fucking exhausted.

So he picks up the thong, carefully shifting it around so it’s right-side-out and he can step into it.

His legs feel huge as he gently shimmies the panties up them. He sees half a dozen scars, just on his calves and thighs. His hips feel harsh and angular as he adjusts the lace trim. He sees the hard, hairy expanse of his chest and stomach. His arms feel coiled, like they’re ready to lash out at any moment, always ready to attack, to kill, to keep killing-

Shit.

He looks at himself in the mirror, so ready for the calming effect of seeing himself in something small and pretty and harmless. He prays for it, desperate for it, and-

Shit.

No.

“Shit. Shit. Fuck.

He just sees the weapon. Huge, and dangerous, and ugly, so painfully ugly, he feels like he could be sick just looking at it.

The thong looks ridiculous. Comical. Like a joke. A fucking joke.

His body looks so strong, and so huge, and so ugly, and cramming a weapon like that into a tiny pastel-blue thong with goddamn lace on it just looks…

Stupid. He looks so stupid he looks so fucking stupid.

This was all he had. This is what he does when he can’t look at himself. When he feels like he’s not him. He wears nice lingerie, and it helps. It makes him feel better. It means he’s a person again, that his body is a body and he can dress it up however he wants, he can put on cute little panties instead of armor, he can choose to do that, he can choose to be more than that-

And it’s not working. It’s all he had. He’s been doing this for months. And it’s helped. It’s helped on so many days just like this, and now it just… doesn't. Whatever power these panties had over his mind, it’s broken. He’s broken.

He’s broken.

He touches the lace, trying to feel… trying to feel anything. But he just feels the limp, useless shape of his dick, against the rough outline of the muscle of his thigh. And all of it is coarse. The front of the thong has enough space to be comfortable, but it’s still fairly tight. And especially under the thin lace, Alec can see the dark, uneven shape of hair, that trickles into the top of the panties and spills out onto his legs. It’s dark, and coarse, and it looks so indescribably wrong under light, soft lace. The fabric is smooth and delicate and bright, and his skin underneath it is rough and uneven. It looks wrong. It looks completely fucking wrong.

He’s never thought this before. It’s never been a problem before. He’s never given the slightest consideration to his body hair, and especially not this body hair. Having pubic hair is just a fact. He’s never had to decide anything about it.

And he’s never wanted to. He may not have an extensive amount of experience with porn, but he’s seen enough to form opinions on a few things. And this is one of them. It didn’t take him long to realize that seeing completely hairless genitalia makes him feel kinda… squicked out. It’s not horrible, it’s not like he can’t stand it. It’s just… a preference. Because pubic hair is the default once you hit adulthood. It’s an obvious indication that you’ve hit puberty, that you’ve grown up, that you’re not a child. Alec doesn’t understand why anyone would want to shave all that off and make their genitalia look more like a child’s again right when they’re planning on actually doing something with it. It’s not enough to make him really care, but it is enough that he’s never even considered shaving. He knows there are other options (Magnus does that whole ‘groomed’, not ‘shaved’ thing and Alec has always loved it), but he’s never deemed it necessary for himself. He’s never thought about it. Even after owning panties that are made entirely of see-through lace, he’s never thought about it.

But he’s thinking about it now.

Because everything’s turned to shit. His body still looks awful, and he’s helpless. It’s completely out of his control.

But… this? The ugly scratch of his pubic hair under the soft lace of his panties?

He can do something about this.

He doesn’t really register making the decision. But suddenly he’s getting his razor and can of shaving cream out of the cupboard.

By the time he realizes that yes, he is actually going to do this, he also realizes… he has no idea how to do this.

He can’t imagine it’d be very comfortable to try to hunch himself over the sink, so he moves over to the bathtub, pulling the curtain out of the way.

It’s a bit of an internal struggle to take off the panties. Because however horrible his body looks in them, he knows it’ll look even more horrible in nothing at all. He’s well aware that if he goes through with this, it’ll be the most attention he’s given his dick since… probably ever, actually. It takes a shameful amount of courage to pull the panties down and lay them carefully on the edge of the bathtub, on the corner where it’s widest, so they won’t fall.

They look so pretty like that. Soft, and nice, and beautiful, exactly the way they usually look when they’re on him.

He can get that back. He can. He has to.

He doesn’t know what he’ll do with himself if he can’t.

Alec’s not quite ready to start staring down at his junk yet, so he just hesitantly scritches his fingers through the hair instead.

There’s just so much of it. He knows that's not weird. It’s normal. He has a perfectly normal amount of pubic hair.

But faced with the prospect of tugging a razor through it, over and over again, it seems impossibly long and thick and sensitive and there’s no way he can do this.

He takes a deep breath, still not looking down at himself.

There’s a pair of scissors in the first aid kit he keeps on the counter. Yeah. That’ll do it. That’ll get him… started. Get things under control. Then he can use the razor. Yeah. That makes sense. It’s a good plan.

He can do this, for fuck’s sake.

It’s an almost horrifically inelegant process, gathering up these tiny little tufts of hair between finger and thumb, snipping it off with scissors (scissors that he’s only ever used on gauze and bandages before), and dropping it into the toilet. It’s quite possibly the least dignified and most stupid he’s ever felt in his life.

And for him, that’s really saying something.

When he thinks he’s done as much damage control as he can, he flushes away the hair. And, of course, because the world fucking hates him, almost half of it stays right where it is. He can’t bring himself to flush again and waste all that water, so he just mentally curses everything he can think of and goes back to the bathtub.

It’s a shallow tub (way too shallow for a body like his to actually take a half-decent bath), and the edge of it is splashed with water from his shower that’s since cooled and is now fucking freezing as he sits down. Not really having any clue what to do, he fills the tub with an inch or two of hot water, partly because he thinks it’ll make this easier, and partly just to warm up his feet. The tub is so low that his knees stick up way too high when he sits on the edge and soaks his feet. It feels ridiculous.

But this whole fucking situation is ridiculous, so he might as well lean into it.

It’s not like shaving itself is unfamiliar territory. Alec’s been shaving his face every damn day for what feels like most of his life now. Even if leaving it for one day wouldn’t give him more than mild five o’clock shadow, the ritual is ingrained in him by now. Especially since he started wearing makeup. Having the smoothest face possible isn’t an option anymore, it’s a necessity.

So it doesn’t feel completely foreign to splash a little water on himself, load up his hand with shaving cream, and spread it onto his skin.

However, watching himself spread it onto his skin is so unsettling that he almost gives up. Even though it’s technically just the area around his dick, it’s definitely still… there. For a moment, he considers covering the whole thing in shaving cream, just so he doesn’t have to look at it the whole goddamn time. But that seems like a waste (and possibly unsafe? Are you supposed to put this stuff on your dick?), so he grits his teeth and forces himself through it.

He’s not sure where or how to start, so he just… starts. Just goes for it. He’s a little helpless here and there. Sometimes he doesn’t even know for sure which way the grain of the hair goes. And he probably uses way more shaving cream than necessary.

But at its heart, it is just shaving. Plain and simple. And yeah, it’s slightly terrifying to hold a bunch of tiny knives against his junk like this, but he’s skilled. He’s been doing this (or something similar to this) every fucking morning for years now. So even when he feels the most helpless, he doesn’t falter once, doesn’t so much as nick his skin, for which he silently thanks any higher power who might be listening.

Once he falls further into the comforting ritual of shaving, and stops worrying about all the odd angles and motions and adjusting he’s doing, it’s… it’s kind of soothing. The same way it is to shave his face in the morning. It’s familiar, even though he’s never done this before. It’s comfortable. And almost… comforting.

Because it’s a razor. A blade. A small series of blades. And yes, these blades are completely innocent, and specifically made for a completely innocent purpose, but really… they’re still blades. Something Alec’s been raised his entire life to see only as a weapon. A means of killing. He could kill a demon with this razor if he needed to.

This razor is a weapon. The same way his body is a weapon.

And there’s something so, so satisfying about using that weapon to make this weapon softer, and smoother, and gentler.

It’s like giving the finger to everything he’s ever been taught.

And by the Angel, it feels amazing.

The sharp, dangerous razor slides across his coarse, prickly skin, and changes it. Makes it look even, and feel as smooth as his softest satin panties. As he rinses off the last remnants of shaving cream, he realizes just how soft his skin feels now. It’s even softer than his freshly-shaven face, and it feels even nicer under his fingertips.

He imagines what it’d be like for Magnus to touch this skin. To have his soft, uncalloused fingers run over Alec’s equally soft skin. To feel his mouth there, knowing how much nicer it’ll feel on Magnus’s lips, how easily his tongue will glide from his hip down to his cock-

He still might not understand the aesthetic appeal of shaving, but he thinks he’s getting a pretty good idea of the more practical appeal.

He towels off quickly, not even bothering to drain the bathtub in his haste to get his panties back on. Because he really thinks this fixed it. He doesn’t quite understand what broke, but he thinks this will fix it.

If it doesn’t…

He closes his eyes, pushing that thought away as he adjusts the thong. His fingertips drag from soft cotton and lace onto soft skin… and isn’t that something? Even if he still looks as horrible as before, it’ll be a relief just to be able to feel this nice.

But he needs to know. So he turns to face the mirror. And…

He inhales sharply through his nose.

There he is.

There he is.

It’s almost enough to make him want to cry again. But he’s had enough of that today.

And it’s almost funny. He should look more ridiculous now than he did before. Because at least before, it was a consistent spread of body hair. Now it ends, really abruptly, at the creases of his thighs, and above the lace border of the panties. Everything else is still as hairy as ever, his chest, his legs… most of him hasn’t changed. It’s just a small, haphazard patch of smooth skin.

But it’s a patch of smooth skin that’s wrapped in even smoother lingerie.

And it’s pretty.

He loves this thong. It’s one of his favorites. Because it’s so simple. But so beautiful.

And now, so is he.

Alec breathes, slow and deep.

He can do this now.

He can do his makeup, and get dressed, and go about his day. Be a person again. Be a person again.

He certainly never thought shaving would end up being his lifeline. And he’s not sure if that’ll stick. Maybe he’ll hate it. Maybe it’ll feel strange under his clothes, or Magnus will hate it (even though he knows that’s incredibly unlikely), or it’ll be too much of a hassle for him to ever want to do it again. But for now, for today, it’s made all the difference in the world. And he’s grateful for that.

Alec doubts it’ll last. It was just a one-time thing. He’s sure of it.

In less than a month, it’s part of his daily routine.

 


 

Black lace. Tight and small. A matching garter belt sitting an inch or two higher, ribbons clipped to silk stockings, the color of smoke.

 

Alec’s going to remember this for a long, long time. He knows it.

Just like he knows he’s going to remember the last time.

Which had been the first time Magnus had seen him in this. The first time Alec had shyly stepped out of the bedroom, and shown Magnus the surprise he'd be planning for weeks. The stockings and garter belt were the first things Alec had bought on his own, without having Magnus there with him, without Magnus even knowing. And it had been oddly thrilling, pulling the belt up over the panties. Carefully clipping the garters to the long, smooth stockings. He hadn’t used any makeup that night, afraid it would be too much, that he’d cross the line of what he was capable of wearing and it’d suddenly look like a joke. So he’d kept everything simple. Just the panties, and the garters, and the stockings.

At the time, Alec thought he’d never see anything as beautiful as Magnus’s face when he first saw Alec like that. The combination of shock and surprise and delight and absolute, unmasked desire. After seeing that face, it had been easy to say that he wanted Magnus to make love to him, just like that, while he felt so beautiful and, for once, so worthy of how much Magnus wanted him.

It hadn’t taken long for them to realize that, while certainly gorgeous, the tiny black panties simply weren’t designed to let anything get inside them without being ripped into lace confetti. So Alec had compromised, and changed out of the panties.

But he’d kept the garter belt and stockings.

And it had been… by the Angel, it had been like nothing Alec had ever thought was possible. Magnus over him, and inside him, running his hands over the silk-covered length of Alec’s legs. So incredibly gentle and deep and loving that Alec had almost been in tears by the time he finally came.

And after something like that, it’s not like Alec could stand only knowing what this lingerie is like one way. Obviously not. That’d just be cruel, to both of them. Pointless self-denial. Because Magnus making love to him while he wore this was a night he is certain he will never forget.

And him making love to Magnus while wearing the same thing?

Well…

Shit.

Alec thinks he might die before this is over.

And he doesn’t think he’d really mind.

What a way to go.

Alec doesn’t even know how this happened. He doesn’t know who he is right now. He didn’t think he could feel like this, that he could be like this, that-

That Magnus could be like this.

Because it’s-

“Alec, Alec- oh, fuck, Ah-Alec, please-

It’s unbelievable.

Magnus throws his head back, and it makes an alarmingly loud noise as it knocks against the wall. Alec’s about to ask him if he’s alright, but Magnus moans so loudly that he wouldn’t be able to hear him anyway.

Alec hitches him a little higher, getting a tighter grip on his thighs where they’re wrapped around Alec’s waist. He can feel his nails dig even deeper into Magnus’s skin, but something he’s learned tonight is that the harder he scratches, the louder Magnus gets. Shifting Magnus up higher against the wall gives him a little more room to thrust up even harder into him, and-

Ah- ! Yes, oh god yes Alec, please, harder! Fuck, please Alec…”

Fuck.

Fuck.

How did this happen? How did he end up here? What cosmic mix-up happened that led to Alec being here, in gorgeous lingerie, with Magnus Bane begging for him? Magnus Bane, begging. For him.

It doesn’t make any sense. It has to be a mistake.

But, shit, Alec’s sure not going to correct it.

“Yeah,” he manages to gasp, widening his stance as much as his pushed-down panties will allow. His stockinged feet slip a bit on the carpet, but he keeps himself steady. It’s not much, but it gives him the leverage to fuck Magnus faster, as fast as he can…

Magnus is incoherent. His legs clamp around Alec’s waist like a vice. His hands are clawing into Alec’s shoulders. His face is buried in the juncture of Alec’s neck and shoulder. And he’s whimpering. Babbling. Begging. A constant stream of “yes” and “please” and “more” and best of all, Alec’s name. He’s been just “Alec” for almost half an hour now, when Magnus stopped being able to catch his breath enough to say “Alexander”. And now, he can barely even manage two syllables. His voice breaks off into a chant, a litany of “Ah- Ah- Ah- ”s that hit on each of Alec’s thrusts.

Even after all these months, after well over a year, Alec still had no idea that sex could be like this.

He knew that Magnus could reduce him to a blubbering mess with just one well-placed touch… but the idea that he could do the same to Magnus? It’s completely unthinkable.

It was completely unthinkable.

Magnus writhes against the wall, gasping, and clutching at Alec, like he wants to fuck himself down harder onto his cock but doesn’t want to risk disrupting their balance. But it’s enough to change the angle, and on the next thrust, Magnus cries out, head slamming back against the wall again. “God, yes, Alec, right there! Yeah, god- yeah, Alec, Alec, baby-”

That’s-

Shit.

That’s new.

Alec’s never been ‘baby’ before. He’s ‘darling’ and ‘sweetheart’ and, the one that can always make him blush, ‘angel’. The pet-names are all warm and loving and he loves them…

But… ‘baby.’

It’s not one he ever thought he’d want to hear. But now, actually hearing it, actually hearing Magnus groan it right into his ear, right when Alec fucks him particularly well…

He needs to hear it again. And again. And again. As many times as possible.

He can’t get deep enough like this. His toes curl against the carpet, his thighs strain against the confinement of the panties, his arms tremble from holding Magnus up for so long. There’s sweat dripping down his back, and plastering his hair to his forehead. It makes his grip on Magnus less secure than he wants. It’s just not enough. He needs more. If he could just fuck Magnus a little harder, just fill him a little deeper, maybe he’ll get it, he’ll understand how much Alec loves him, how much Alec needs him and wants him and wants to stay like this forever, just them, just this.

He pulls Magnus away from the wall, and the shift makes his dick slip out.

Magnus looks heartbroken at the loss, and Alec almost wants to laugh. Magnus looks at him, and - by the Angel - he’s a fucking wreck. He’s gasping, panting, struggling to catch his breath. His hair is going ten different directions. There’s dark makeup smeared under his eyes, all the way down to his cheeks. And his eyes… fuck. His eyes are bleary, unfocused, slit pupils blown so wide they’d almost look like his human-glamoured eyes if it weren't for the shockingly bright gold color.

He looks completely destroyed.

Because of Alec.

Magnus looks confused, like he doesn’t know why Alec stopped, and considers it to be a deep betrayal. Alec smiles, and uses the stillness as an excuse to kiss him. It feels like they haven’t kissed in ages, both too ragged and too desperate to manage something that small and focused.

Without breaking the kiss (which Magnus has decided to make at least ninety percent teeth, the other ten percent tongue), Alec turns them around, backing Magnus up to the bed.

Magnus must understand what’s happening, because he loosens his grip on Alec, both with his arms and legs. As soon as he’s dislodged, Alec tosses him down onto the mattress. Magnus lands with enough force to bounce lightly, and he laughs - though it’s a broken, breathless sound.

It’s been an impressive amount of time since Alec’s been able to get a really good look at Magnus (Alec sends a quick thank-you to Raziel for stamina runes, and belatedly hopes it’s not complete blasphemy to do so in this context). They’ve been pressed so ridiculously close for such a long time, he couldn’t appreciate anything but his face.

But spread out on their bed like this, Magnus is…

Sinful.

Sin itself.

Naked, legs parted shamelessly in an open invitation, and absolutely covered in-

Alec had almost forgotten.

He’d chosen his cheapest lipstick. The kind he’d bought specifically because it looked like it’d rub right off onto anything his lips touched.

And tonight, his lips have touched Magnus.

A lot.

His skin is littered with faded kiss marks, smudges of bright red lipstick that get sloppier and fainter as they span from his lips, to his neck, down his chest, his hips, his cock (and that, Alec knows by now, is one of his favorite sights in the world: Magnus’s cock, smeared with Alec’s lipstick). By now, there can’t be more than a hint of red actually left on Alec’s lips. It’s all on Magnus now. Anywhere Alec looks, he can see the press of his lips on Magnus’s skin. All over, Alec’s marked him. Every inch of his body, Magnus has let Alec claim. Visible proof that Alec’s mouth was there. That Alec was there. That Magnus wanted him there. That Magnus wants him. That Magnus is his.

Alec feels lightheaded. Intoxicated.

Magnus smiles up at him, surprisingly soft and sincere given the situation. His eyes roam over Alec from head to toe, spending significantly more time on the lingerie than anything else. Though Alec figures that makes sense; with how much lipstick has been kissed onto Magnus, he can only imagine just how badly it’s smeared around his own lips and chin. His face probably looks ridiculous right now.

But seeing Magnus spend so long gazing at the panties pushed down around his thighs, the tight garter belt, the smooth perfection of his legs in these dark stockings, Alec can’t help but… preen a little. He knows he looks amazing. And that’s a rare enough occurrence. But to have Magnus know that too, and acknowledge it with such naked and open desire… yeah. That’s a nice feeling. That's a damn nice feeling.

Apparently he takes a little too long standing at the foot of the bed, looking down at Magnus looking up at him. Because Magnus gives a little whine, spreads his legs even further (fuck, it’s so shameless, Alec’s mouth goes dry), and says in a desperate voice, “Alexander, please- please get back inside me. Please, fuck me.

And Alec’s just one person, just one little Shadowhunter. He’s nowhere near strong enough to say no to that.

He kneels at the foot of the bed, feeling that need again, the insatiable craving to get deeper, rougher, just more of it all.

“Turn over.”

What-

What the fuck was that? That wasn’t a request. Alec’s never heard his voice like that before. He’s been more polite to demons. He opens his mouth to apologize, fuck, to take it back, not order Magnus around like that-

But Magnus closes his eyes and whimpers, and rolls onto his stomach so eagerly it’s like he’s been dying for it.

That’s… that’s new. Alec will have to… he’ll have to keep that in mind.

Magnus grasps for one of the pillows, tucking it under his face, and spreads his legs again. Which…

Damn.

Shit fucking hell fuck damn.

A year ago, Alec Lightwood would never in his filthiest dreams imagine that he’d ever see a smudge of his lipstick right across Magnus Bane’s asshole. But there it is. Faded and mostly rubbed off, but still there. Plain as day.

Alec almost comes right then and there.

“Alec, Alec, please! Please fuck me, need it, need you-”

Alec’s never moved so fast in his life. He blankets Magnus with his body, mouth spewing things his brain can’t even register, about how good it’s going to be, how he’s going to take care of him, how good he’s going to fuck him.

He thrusts back in, so much harder and deeper and better than he ever could up against the wall.

And the sound Magnus makes is something he knows he’ll be able to hear for the rest of his life.

 


 

Soft pink panties. Satin in the back. Lace in the front. A little bow at the top. They don’t fit quite right, because they aren’t his.

 

Nails scratch his scalp, and he breathes, a little heavier than before.

Alec’s not really sure if he fell asleep, but this certainly feels like waking up. His eyes have been closed for what feels like hours, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he drifted off.

He shifts his face a little, and-

Ah.

Yeah, there’s a little bit of drool in the corner of his mouth. Definitely sleeping, then.

He’s ready to feel guilty or embarrassed or any number of things about just drooling openly in the middle of the day, but before he can, he remembers where he is. Where they are.

Magnus is lounging on their bed, sitting with his back propped up by a mountain of pillows. His legs are stretched out in front of him, under the tangled silk sheet, his ankles delicately crossed one over the other. In one hand, he’s holding… a book… an… old book? Magnus has told him what it is a dozen times, and Alec was listening, he promises he was… but it’s been a while. And Alec’s apparently been drifting in and out of consciousness. He can barely remember his own name right now, much less the name of whatever Magnus is reading.

Magnus’s other hand is resting on Alec’s head. Which, in turn, is resting on Magnus’s lap. Alec’s curled up with him, head tucked into the groove of Magnus’s hips, one arm tucked around Magnus’s thighs, one leg tucked over Magnus’s knees. It feels like he’s clinging to him, like he’s afraid Magnus will float away if he doesn’t weigh down each of his limbs.

Magnus’s fingers play idly with Alec’s hair, twirling it and combing through it and sometimes giving it a light tug. Occasionally he lets his perfectly manicured nails drag gently across Alec’s scalp, but never enough to disturb his sleep.

They’ve been like this all afternoon. Ever since Alec stumbled up the stairs after an all-night patrol, too tired to even get his key into the lock without a massive struggle. Magnus had just been getting up for the day, lazing about in his pajamas and waiting for Alec to come home and make them both coffee. But after one glance at him, Magnus declared that they were both going straight back to bed. Alec had wanted to protest that Magnus had better things to do, but his exhausted legs were on autopilot and took him right to the closet to wrestle out of his gear without a word.

So here they are. Magnus wearing Alec’s sweatpants, and nothing else. Alec wearing Magnus’s panties, and nothing else. They're the first ones he’d tried on, what seems like a lifetime ago.

Alec considers lifting up his face to wipe off the stray drool, but that much movement sounds like absolute torture. He’s too comfortable. He’s more comfortable than he’s ever been in his entire life. And, hell, he’s technically drooling onto his own sweatpants, even if Magnus has basically claimed them as pajamas for good. Alec doesn’t feel the slightest bit of remorse as he rubs his cheek against Magnus’s hip to get the drool (and, he realizes after the fact, a good smear of foundation) off of his face. If Magnus doesn’t like it, he can push Alec’s head onto the pillows whenever he wants.

“Gross,” Magnus says quietly, and Alec can hear the exaggerated grimace on his face.

He tries to respond, to tell him exactly where he can shove it if he doesn’t like it, but all that comes out is a garbled string of vowels, which get cut off by a comically large yawn.

Magnus laughs, and Alec hears the rustling of a page turning. “Go back to sleep, darling. It’s still early.”

Alec considers protesting, not wanting to waste the entire day, but… by the Angel, he can’t think of anything else he’d rather be doing. He shifts a little, snuggling up even closer against Magnus’s side. It’s enough to make the panties pull tighter against his skin…

But even that just makes him feel more comfortable. He loves these panties. After weeks and months and years of building his own collection, knowing how each perfectly-fit pair feels in every possible situation, there’s still nothing he likes better than slipping into Magnus’s pink satin-and-lace panties. Feeling the places where they don’t fit right. Taking off everything else. Just having this. Just this.

He doesn’t think anything else could possibly feel this… nice.

After all this time, he’s figured out that this is still his favorite pair. If he had to give the rest of it up, he’d be perfectly happy, as long as he could still have these.

Magnus tugs a little at Alec’s hair, then softly brushes it away from his forehead.

Yeah.

As long as he can still have this, he’ll be fine.