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Alec Lightwood Deserves Nice Things

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“May I?”

Magnus’s fingers brush lightly across the top button of Alec’s shirt.

Alec’s mouth dries up. Blood rushes to his face. Blood also rushes somewhere else. It’s like all of Alec’s bodily fluids decided to simultaneously stop doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Alec’s lungs must have gotten the memo too, because suddenly he can’t catch his breath.

Magnus has seen Alec without a shirt before. He’s seen his bare chest. He knows what it looks like. That’s nothing new.

But it’s one thing for Magnus to see him shirtless when Alec is training. It’s a very different thing to have Magnus see him shirtless while Magnus is - by the Angel - while he’s straddling Alec’s lap, pressing him into the couch that is not even slightly big enough for two grown men to be sprawled across it like this.

Magnus’s finger just keeps circling the little button, making his intention pretty fucking clear, without actually going through with it. He’s waiting for Alec. He’s waiting for Alec to give him permission.

Alec looks up at him. Where he’s hovering over him, knees on either side of Alec’s hips, supporting his weight on one hand that’s right next to Alec’s head. He looks… fuck. Alec gets hit with a sharp pang of awareness that this is Magnus Bane, this is an unbelievably sexy and elegant and beautiful man, this is a man with more experience than Alec could possibly fathom.

His hair is mussed. His lipstick is smudged all the way down to his chin. His shirt is rucked up and wrinkled. He’s panting, out of breath. His eyes are bright, and eager, and almost… sort of… hungry.

Because he’s been kissing Alec.

And somehow, that’s still not enough for him. He wants to get Alec’s shirt off. He wants to have more of Alec available to him. So he can make himself even more breathless, more desperate, more wrecked…

Because of Alec.

If they hadn’t already made it this far, Alec would probably be asking Magnus if he’d mistaken him for someone else.

It’s only their second date. Alec can’t… he can’t even process that. That someone like Magnus actually wanted to have a first date with him, much less a second. And then, that someone like Magnus only needs two dates - only a few precious hours of interaction - to want to do this, to want to pin Alec to the couch and kiss him stupid and ask so nicely if he can take off his shirt. That he… that he likes Alec. That he… yeah. That he wants Alec.

It doesn’t make any sense.

And now he’s not even saying anything. Even though Alec still hasn’t answered him and has just been staring stupidly up at him with his mouth gaping open like a fish. He just keeps touching that top button, so gently.

Part of Alec wants to say yes, rip the shirt off, shred it into tiny pieces if that’s what Magnus wants. Because part of him wants to give Magnus anything he shows even the slightest interest in. Part of him can’t imagine ever saying no to this man, not when he wants Alec like this. How could he? How could Alec possibly see someone wanting him like this, and decide he’s not interested? This is Magnus, and Alec has wanted him since the first time he saw him, even if it took him way too long to understand that. This is Magnus, and he wants Magnus, and Magnus wants him, and how can Alec possibly deny him that?

But there’s another part of him, one that’s much bigger and deeper and too permanent for him to question. The part of him that realizes that this isn’t just about Magnus wanting Alec in a vague, directionless sort of way. This is about Alec’s body. Magnus wants Alec’s body. And Alec can’t… can’t deal with that. If Alec can’t even stand the sight of his bare chest, how can he possibly let Magnus see it? Not only that, but be so close to it, to touch it, to give it the type of affection that Alec knows he can’t stomach seeing someone so beautiful give to something so awful.

He wasn’t prepared for this. He didn’t think… even with how much Magnus has teased and flirted, and even with how much kissing had happened at the end of their previous date, Alec still didn’t think Magnus would want this. Want him like this. He hadn’t even considered it. And now, here he is, with a gorgeous man straddling him and asking to take his clothes off, and if Alec says yes to this, how many more questions will there be tonight? Is it just his shirt, right now, or is it his shirt, then his pants, and then is he having sex with Magnus before the night is over?

Just the thought makes Alec’s whole body shudder. It’s not that he doesn’t want… that. He does. He thinks he does. But that’s- for now, that’s too much. He can’t handle that yet. The thought of getting naked in front of anyone is enough to make him feel queasy. If he had to get naked in front of Magnus tonight he thinks he might actually vomit, and that’s not exactly the ‘first time’ story he wants to be stuck with. And that’s just the start of it. Being naked, being with Magnus, naked, with Alec having no idea what the fuck he’s supposed to do and probably doing everything wrong- and sure he knows the basics of what happens, but he doesn’t think he’s prepared for it, for Magnus to do any of that to him, and just his stupid luck he probably wouldn’t even be able to get hard or he’d come before they even started and he can’t let that happen it’s too much and he just can’t handle it he can’t he can’t-

“I don’t want to have sex tonight.”

Alec’s barely finished blurting it out before his eyes go wide. And his throat closes up. And his whole body freezes.

He said that.

He actually fucking said that.

He said those words to Magnus Bane.

Magnus Bane asked if he could take off Alec’s shirt, in the middle of a make-out session that was easily one of the top three best experiences of Alec’s entire life, and Alec stared at him in silence for a solid minute and a half-

And then he’d said that.

Maybe he won’t have to deal with this. Maybe he’ll die from embarrassment before Magnus can respond.

Magnus definitely looks… something. Startled, maybe? Probably horrifically offended? Wondering why the fuck he’s subjected himself to two entire dates with Alec Lightwood when he could have literally anyone else in the fucking universe (preferably someone who doesn’t blurt out stupid shit like ‘I don’t want to have sex with you’ for no fucking reason right in the middle of high-quality kissing)?

Alec’s not really sure what he was expecting Magnus’s reaction to be, but Magnus starts moving away from him, righting himself and shifting back so he’s sitting on Alec’s thighs instead of straddled over him. And even though Alec is the one who just said he wasn’t interested, it still feels like a rejection, like he’s ruined something, and fuck, how horrible does Alec have to be to ruin something that was so good?

“I-I’m sorry-” he stammers, desperate to fix the expression on Magnus’s face because it looks dangerously close to disappointment and Alec can’t handle being responsible for that. “I just… I wasn’t expecting to- wasn’t expecting th- that, and I know-”

“Alexander.”

“I know I should have said something… something sooner, I’m sorry I didn’t say something sooner I should have said-”

“Alec.”

“I just- just- I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how to do any of this I’m sorry-”

“Alexander.”

Magnus leans over him again, with one hand on the back of the couch, and the other on the arm of it, next to where Alec’s head has been awkwardly propped up for a good twenty minutes. But this time, Magnus raises himself up onto his knees, so he’s hovering over Alec, but not… not actually touching him (and fucking hell, how did Alec fuck this up so bad that he doesn’t even want to touch him now?).

Magnus just… waits there, like that, for several seconds. Like he’s waiting to see if Alec’s going to keep going. But now that Alec has finally managed to shut himself up, he’s not planning on speaking again until he gets back to the Institute - and even then, he might wait a few days.

Once he seems satisfied that Alec is done, Magnus…

Smiles. He smiles, just a little bit. Just a small, calm smile. Alec wasn’t expecting that. “Alexander, you don’t have to apologize.”

Alec’s first instinct is to apologize for apologizing, but he manages to stop himself in time.

Magnus keeps smiling, but somehow, he also looks serious. “We don’t have to have sex tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or ever, if you don’t want to. And that’s nothing to apologize for-”

“No, that’s not-!” Alec sputters, awkwardly pushing himself up onto his elbows. “It’s not… that. I do… I am… interested. In that. It’s just… not right now. Not yet.”

Magnus takes a moment before responding. “Were you uncomfortable?”

Alec’s just about to explain the crick in his neck when he realizes what Magnus actually means. “Oh. No. Not at all.” He can feel his face heating up, and he’s profoundly grateful that the only light in the loft right now is whatever’s coming in from the windows. “I… uh, I was… I liked it.” The corner of his mouth quirks up into something he hopes looks like a smile. “That part was… nice.”

Magnus just smiles again. Smiles, like he’s happy to hear that. Like he’s happy to know that Alec ‘liked’ getting to kiss him. It doesn’t make any fucking sense.

“But there was… um,” Alec fumbles for the right words. “When you asked, I… I thought it might mean… more.” He glances away, because he’s not capable of having Magnus look at him like that while he’s trying to talk. “And I… panicked.” Alec actually laughs at that, because he can hear exactly how pathetic it sounds.

But Magnus doesn’t laugh. He tilts his head, like he’s thinking. “Alright.” He waits until Alec nervously meets his gaze again. “Let’s make a rule. When I ask if you want something, I’m asking for exactly that. Nothing else. So if I ask to unbutton your shirt, that’s all it is. And if I mean that I want things to go further, then I’ll ask for that.” He reaches down to gently brush the hair off of Alec’s forehead. “And the same goes for you. We ask for what we want, and we know that it doesn’t imply anything more.” He smiles again. “Deal?”

Alec feels, he feels like everything has just… shifted a bit. But not in a bad way. It’s like the ground had been tilted and now it’s finally been righted.

And Magnus is smiling at him, like it’s nothing. Like it’s easy.

Alec’s mouth moves, but his throat hasn’t caught up with his brain yet. “Th-that sounds… good. Yeah.”

Magnus’s smile splits open, and it’s unbearably beautiful, and Alec doesn’t understand how lying here and agreeing not to have sex with him tonight could make Magnus look so… happy.

Magnus starts to lean back down, which - oh - Alec hadn’t realized how much he’s been wanting Magnus’s weight and heat pressed down on top of him again. “Alexander, can I unbutton your shirt?”

Alec grins, and it feels open and a little stupid and so very excited. “Please, yes.”

This time, Magnus laughs. But not at Alec. He laughs like he’s excited too.

And then he keeps leaning in, and yes, yes, he’s kissing Alec again. And… damn. Alec doesn’t know how he’s survived all these minutes without it. Magnus’s mouth is so ridiculously soft, and he’s so gentle with it. His lips are barely parted. And he’s just barely brushing them against Alec’s. And after a moment, he’s just barely touching his tongue to Alec’s lower lip.

It’s so little. So soft. So delicate.

But Alec feels like he’s dying. His whole body is lit up, like a fire sparked somewhere deep in his gut and it’s spreading all the way through to his fingers and toes. He gasps against Magnus’s lips, which would be embarrassing, but it gives Magnus the chance to get his tongue a little further into Alec’s mouth and Alec can’t give a fuck about anything else.

Magnus’s teeth catch Alec’s lip and Alec makes a sound he’s never made before. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing, he’s still aware of that - but by the Angel it’s a lot harder to care about his lack of technique when he’s pushing his hand up the back of Magnus’s shirt. Alec knows he needs more, so he parts his lips and makes his best effort to taste the inside of Magnus’s mouth. It feels clumsy and uncoordinated and-

Oh, shit. Shit.

Magnus moans.

Alec’s gonna die. He’s gonna die or melt into goo or come in his pants or something else horrible and he’s starting to think this is probably just some fantastic dream.

Magnus moves away from Alec’s mouth, and he immediately wants to beg him to come back, but then Magnus is kissing his cheek, his jaw, down onto his neck. And each kiss is longer and wetter and sometimes there’s teeth-

“Ah! Yeah,” Alec gasps, because he needs to let some of this out or he’s going to suffocate.

Magnus makes a sound against Alec’s neck, a sound that Alec can’t quite define but definitely sounds like he’s enjoying himself. Fuck, it’s almost like he’s trying to kill Alec.

As Magnus’s tongue traces along the shape of the rune on Alec’s neck, his fingers go back to that top button. And this time, he doesn’t hesitate. He unbuttons it.

Alec sucks in a sharp breath. Because yes, he may have been given closure on the whole ‘not emotionally ready to have sex tonight’ thing, but he’s still very much dealing with the ‘not emotionally ready to subject Magnus Bane to his awful torso’ thing.

It’s just the top button. Barely anything. A bit of his collarbone. A sliver of chest hair. It’s not much. It’s fine. He’s fine. He’s not gonna ruin this. He’s fine.

Magnus’s mouth trails down to the base of Alec’s throat, with wet, scraping kisses that make Alec’s bones feel like jello. Without pausing, Magnus undoes the next button.

Alec keeps breathing. He has to. It's all he can do. And he can barely do it. In, and out, and in… and in…

There’s muscle now. Harsh muscle. Covered in coarse, dark hair. Everything about him is rough and Magnus’s hands are so soft and Alec doesn’t want him to have to feel so much roughness against his soft skin-

Magnus keeps going. Undoing each button easily, never fumbling, keeping his lips against Alec’s neck the whole time. Before Alec can regain enough clarity to panic and call the whole thing off and slink back to the Institute, Magnus is undoing the last button. He smooths his hand across Alec’s stomach, and the shirt falls open to his sides.

Alec isn’t breathing. Not as much as he knows he needs to. He gasps in little gulps of air and holds them too long, like he’s afraid he won’t be able to get another. His heart is pounding so fucking hard that he wouldn’t be surprised if it was loud enough to give Magnus a headache. And Magnus… no…

Magnus is pulling away from him again. Pushing up on the arm of the couch so he can sit up. Sit back, right on Alec’s lap, and look at him. Look at him, like this.

Alec’s been seen in less than this. He wears less than this when he trains. It’s not like that's a public display, but people see him. People see him wearing less than this every damn day of his life. His shirt isn’t even gone. It’s falling off of his shoulders, but it’s still on him. It’s just hanging open in the front.

But it’s the most exposed he’s ever felt in his life. And it’s in front of Magnus.

Alec can’t see this. He doesn’t know what Magnus is going to think, but he knows he doesn’t want to watch.

He almost flinches when he feels Magnus’s fingers brush the hollow at the base of this throat. It’s unexpected. It’s part of him that’s been exposed all night, and he’d thought Magnus would…

The fingers trail off along his collarbone, a feather-light touch that almost tickles against how tightly Alec’s nerves are wound. And it’s… it’s almost nice. Just a gentle point of contact heading toward his shoulder.

But then Magnus’s hand changes direction, centering back and slowly, slowly slipping down to Alec’s chest. He feels the the delicate pads of Magnus’s fingers slip through the hair that seems to cover him so horribly thickly all the way down his stomach. The touch is too soft. Magnus is too soft. He shouldn’t be doing this.

Magnus exhales, slow and even. Alec can’t look. He doesn’t want to know. He can’t know-

“Beautiful.”

Alec chokes in a breath. His eyes snap open and look up at Magnus, to try and figure out what that was…

And Magnus is looking at him. Looking at him. His hand is resting lightly on the center of Alec’s chest. He brings up his other hand and cradles it against Alec’s cheek. He’s looking right at him. Looking him right in the eye. And he’s smiling. The same small smile he’d had earlier.

“Alexander, you’re so beautiful.”

No, that-

That can’t…

He’s… not.

Alec’s face feels hot, especially under Magnus’s hand. His eyes sting. And he doesn’t get it.

Magnus just keeps smiling at him like that, that tiny little smile that makes it look like it’s all so easy, like everything makes sense, like he didn’t just make a dent, a crack in Alec’s world. Because he’s never… he’s never heard that...

Magnus keeps looking him over. Keeps smiling. The hand on Alec’s chest starts moving again, tracing around the shapes of his runes. Brushing carefully against his scars. Running through his hair. Across his muscles. The harshness. The ugliness.

And calling it…

Calling him…

Alec can’t get enough air. He can’t think. He can’t focus on anything but that little smile on Magnus’s face. The way his voice had sounded. The spark of heat when he dips his finger into Alec’s bellybutton before moving back up toward Alec’s chest again.

It’s like everything is kinda… fading out. Everything except Magnus’s touch, and his voice, and his small smile. And Alec just feels… need. By the Angel, he needs  this.

He’s raised himself up on his elbows before he realizes he’s moving. And he gets one hand on the back of Magnus’s neck and pulls him down because he needs to kiss him right now, he needs it, he needs it more than he’s ever needed anything.

It’s not like when Magnus is in control. Those kisses are soft and smooth and somehow practiced, like they’ve been kissing their whole lives instead of a handful of times over a week and a half. This isn’t like that at all. This is sloppy, and inelegant, and it’s embarrassingly clear that the one with no experience is the one taking the lead.

But… fuck. Alec doesn’t care. Because his tongue is lost in Magnus’s mouth and his teeth are scraping Magnus’s lips and Magnus is groaning into Alec’s kisses and… damn… he just keeps groaning like that.

How can Alec be doing this? How is Alec able to affect him this much?

Magnus’s touch on Alec’s chest suddenly burns, a sweet, desperate sort of burn that matches the heat building in his gut. It’s like Magnus is-

Sparks.

It’s sparks of heat.

Alec cracks an eye open… and there’s blue, flickering across his torso, trailing from Magnus’s fingertips onto his skin. The sparks burst and disappear with a pulse of heat that makes Alec feel like his blood is on fire.

One of Alec’s hands loops around Magnus’s back, trying to pull him closer. Alec’s kissing him as deep as he can, as deep as he knows how, until they’re both making a constant stream of obscene sounds that never make it out of each other’s mouths. And it’s still not enough. Alec wants to feel Magnus’s weight over him again, wants to feel Magnus pressed down against him, wants to be completely smothered by him. The arm supporting Alec gives out, so he can fall and lie on his back again-

The back of his head slams into the barely-padded arm of the couch. Hard. With a deafening thud.

“Fuck- ow!” Alec practically shouts.

But he’s laughing.

His head hurts like a fuck but for some reason that’s fucking hilarious and he’s giggling. He’s actually giggling. Like an idiot.

Magnus is lying on top of him, arms resting on Alec’s bared chest, and he-

Shit. He’s laughing too.

He looks worried, like he’s reasonably concerned that Alec just injured himself on a damn couch, but he’s definitely laughing too.

They’re laughing.

They were kissing. Passionately. Frantically. There was actual, literal magic sparking between them.

And now, they’re laughing.

Alec wasn’t expecting this.

He thought it’d be stoic. Breathy and sexy and silent. He thought being with someone like this would be so… serious.

He didn’t know it could be fun.

“Are you alright, sweetheart?” Magnus asks, completely out of breath (for multiple reasons). The words broken by truly adorable little giggles.

Alec can feel himself blush like a moron at the word ‘sweetheart’, but for some reason, that only makes him laugh harder. He nods, since he can’t talk yet. He realizes that both his hands are wrapped around Magnus’s waist, and he’s rubbing them back and forth along the shape of his spine. Magnus’s shirt feels impossibly soft under Alec’s hands. He still can’t catch his breath. They’re both still laughing.

It’s so… nice.

It takes a few more seconds for Alec to be able to speak. “It’s just-” His stomach hurts. He’s literally tired himself out by laughing. “It’s just this damn couch,” he chokes out. “It’s not big enough for actual-sized people.” He wiggles his bare feet where they’ve been awkwardly hanging off the other end this whole time.

Magnus pushes himself up, his hands pressed down on Alec’s shoulders. He glances them both over, seeing how they’re crammed together and pretty close to falling off onto the rug.

“Hm.” He raises an eyebrow. “It is rather crowded.” He smiles down at Alec, wide and warm enough that Alec feels something constrict in his chest. “Should we move this to the bedroom?”

Alec’s pretty sure he’s never turned this red this fast before. And of course, it’s when his shirt is open, so he can see that his blush is covering his whole damn body.

He didn’t think people actually said that. He thought that was just a fake thing, a convention in movies and tv and possibly porn? He didn’t think it was a real question people asked. He didn’t think that he would ever actually be asked if he wants to move to the bedroom. Certainly not by a beautiful, breathless man sitting in his lap.

Except… even though they’ve already had this discussion (barely even five minutes ago), Alec can’t quite wrap his mind around being in Magnus’s bed. It’s so… it carries so much expectation. There are so many extra connotations when the word ‘bedroom’ is used in this situation. And while the conversation is still fresh in his mind, he can’t squash the hint of worry nagging at him-

Magnus is one step ahead of him. Alec wonders if that means his worry was already showing  plainly on his face, or if Magnus just… gets him. Understands what he must be thinking without having to ask. Either way, he smiles, and sits back a little further, giving Alec a bit more space. “My bed is not a contract, Alexander,” he says calmly. “Being in bed with me doesn’t mean that we’ve agreed to do anything more than we’ve been doing out here. If you wanted, we could lie on opposite sides and not even acknowledge each other. We’d just be a lot more comfortable than we are now.”

Alec opens his mouth. And closes it again. Because…

Shit. It’s so obvious. Why didn’t he realize? Why did Magnus have to explain something that simple to him? Why is everything…

Why is everything with Magnus so… easy?

Alec tries to smile, but it’s like his entire fucking face gets shy, because he can tell that it doesn’t quite work. “Yeah. The bed sounds nice.”

It turns out that it’s just as difficult for two grown men to get off of this couch as it was for them to stay on it. It takes them a moment to really disentangle from each other, and Magnus very nearly loses his balance as they get to their feet. He holds onto Alec’s arm for support, and isn’t that something? Magnus, awkwardly hanging onto Alec to steady himself. It’s… it’s not something Alec expected to see.

Magnus’s hand slips down Alec’s arm, twining their fingers together. And Alec feels something that he assumes must be what people mean when they say their heart skips a beat.

Once they’re both securely on their feet, Magnus leads Alec to the bedroom. It’s just enough distance, just enough time for Alec to lose his nerve, to really think about where they’re going, and what’s happening. But Magnus’s hand is so warm, and so steady, and so certain. It’s so easy to follow him. To trust him.

Magnus flicks his wrist when they enter the bedroom, and a lamp on the nightstand slowly turns on. It’s not really brighter than the city-lit living room, but the light is warmer. It makes everything… glow a bit. The rich purple bed covers, the gold throw pillows, even Magnus himself. Everything is softened in the amber light.

Before Alec has a chance to wonder what he’s supposed to do now, Magnus uses their joined hands to pull Alec against him. He kisses him right away. Gentle, but deep, deep enough that it actually makes Alec’s knees go weak, like he’s in a goddamn romance novel.

Magnus’s hands slip into Alec’s open shirt, splaying out on the small of his back. And his hands feel so damn good against Alec’s bare skin. So good, that without a second thought, Alec tips back his shoulders and lets his shirt fall to the floor. There’s a brief moment where the air feels cold on his back, but then Magnus whimpers into the kiss and Alec doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to feel cold again.

They’re right next to the bed. But breaking a kiss, breaking this kiss to lie down sounds like absolute agony. So Alec just… falls back onto the bed, gracelessly pulling Magnus down with him. They collapse in a haphazard jumble of limbs, a jumble that’s all knees and odd angles and nothing lining up the way Alec wants it to.

Magnus just laughs, and pulls back far enough to let Alec sort of… shimmy backwards, so he’s laid out against the pillows with a bit more dignity.

He expects Magnus to pick up right where they left off on the couch, and climb into Alec’s lap again. But instead he reaches out and gently nudges Alec’s knees apart, so when he scoots in close, he’s between Alec’s legs.

It’s not that different, conceptually. The position is very similar. Alec realizes that. But it feels… oh.

He wraps his legs around Magnus’s hips, and pulls him in closer. It feels incredible. Being able to reel Magnus into him with his legs, to wrap him up and hold him as tight as he wants. Having such a clear way to let Magnus know that this is exactly where he wants to be, where he wants them both to be. Alec doesn’t have words to describe how good it feels.

But Magnus must get the idea anyway, because he gives Alec what he wants, and kisses him again. Those same deep, bruising kisses that burn in Alec’s gut.

Alec had been well aware of how uncomfortable the couch was, but he starts to truly appreciate the advantages of the incredibly spacious bed when Magnus grabs both of Alec’s wrists and pins them up over his head, pressing their joined hands into the pillows. Alec feels even more exposed like this, helplessly held in place, still on display even though Magnus is blanketing him with his body. It should feel undignified, but the only thing Alec’s capable of feeling right now is pleasure. Bright, shocking pleasure. By the Angel, it's enough to make him whine into Magnus’s mouth.

He’s not sure how long they stay like that, kissing frantically, pushing and rocking against each other, with Magnus making the most beautiful noises Alec has ever heard. It’s probably not more than a few minutes, but to Alec, they could stay here for weeks, and he wouldn’t even notice. Or care. He’s pretty sure he’d be happy staying like this forever.

Which makes it almost devastating when Magnus finally breaks the kiss. He doesn’t go far, just shifting to kiss Alec’s neck with the same amount of enthusiasm (and tongue). But he has to let go of Alec’s hands, and Alec realizes instantly that he misses being held down. Magnus gets his hands on Alec’s shoulders, pressing them into the mattress, but it’s not quite the same.

Then he pushes himself back, putting actual distance between them for the first time in however many minutes. Alec’s gasping, like a little bit of kissing is somehow more tiring than his morning workout. He would be embarrassed, but…

Magnus is panting too. He’s out of breath, same as Alec. Somehow, it’s like that… puts them on equal terms. That little proof that Magnus is reacting to this the same way Alec is. It’s confusing. It’s practically incomprehensible. That kissing Alec could possibly take Magnus’s breath away. But here it is. Magnus is panting over him, hands gripping his shoulders way too tight, mouth hanging open and kiss-swollen, and eyes-

Shit. His eyes.

They’re flickering. His dark brown irises… flash. Every few seconds, there’s a hint of gold. Glittering, and somehow unfocused.

Alec has seen Magnus’s real eyes before. Not frequently, and not for long, but seeing them isn’t quite a surprise anymore.

But seeing them like this, seeing them up close, seeing the glamour that Magnus always keeps start to slip away… because of him…

Alec doesn’t get to see for long, because Magnus ducks down and immediately attaches his lips to Alec’s neck again. His hands stroke slowly down Alec’s sides, just shy of being light enough to tickle. Magnus’s tongue traces sloppy lines across Alec’s throat, which distracts him long enough that it surprises him when he realizes Magnus’s hands are on his chest now.

Magnus lifts his head, and golden cat eyes rake down Alec’s torso. Bright, and sparkling, and… wanting. His fingers graze over Alec’s chest, slow, like he’s savoring it. He presses down harder, like he’s actually trying to feel Alec’s chest hair through his fingers. Over, and over, and over… until Alec honestly doesn’t remember how to breathe. Then Magnus drags the tip of one finger down, following the hair on his chest, down to his stomach-

And when he gets to the patch of hair trailing from Alec’s bellybutton into the waistband of his jeans, Magnus parts his lips with a sigh. A deep, long, agonizing sigh.

Alec doesn’t know what to do with himself. Magnus just keeps touching him, hands and fingers roaming over his skin, running through all of that coarse, awful hair like it isn’t coarse or awful at all. Like it’s… nice. Like he… enjoys it. His amber eyes never waver, they just lock onto Alec’s body with that same hungry expression that makes Alec’s hips jerk up when he holds his gaze too long.

Right when Alec thinks all this attention is going to make him burst into flames, Magnus finally moves. He leans down even further, and plants an open, wet kiss right below Alec’s collarbone. It catches Alec so far off guard that he lets out a much louder groan than he really should. He assumes Magnus’ll come back up to his face soon-

He’s wrong about that. Magnus stays there, lying between Alec’s legs, lavishing his chest and stomach with kisses. Minute after minute. It’s unrelenting, an actual onslaught of affection, with his mouth constantly kissing and licking and biting and his fingers still running through Alec’s chest hair like he’s desperate for it.

And the whole time, he’s making these little noises. Alec is the one essentially being attacked with pleasure, but for some reason, Magnus is the one whimpering and sighing like something out of a really good wet dream.

Alec’s been successfully ignoring the erection straining the front of his jeans for what feels like most of the evening, but it’s suddenly getting har- Alec grits his teeth - it’s getting more difficult to keep his dick out of his mind, since every sound from Magnus’s throat is making it twitch in his boxers. He’d said he doesn’t want to have sex tonight. And he doesn’t. He knows he doesn’t. But he’s never been this turned on in his entire life, not by a long shot. Even if he and Magnus have agreed to take things slow and not go any further tonight, it doesn’t look like Alec’s dick is going to cooperate.

It still feels strange enough just for Alec to be hard like this when there’s actually someone else here with him, someone else who’s aware of it.

(It had happened on their first date too, and Alec had been so goddamn embarrassed that he’d apologized when he’d pressed a little too close to Magnus’s hip, close enough for him to feel it. Magnus had just given a breathless laugh, and brought his lips to Alec’s ear. “Darling, you’re not the only one.” And he’d rocked forward, let Alec feel the hardness tucked in his leather pants, and it had shattered him.)

But just like last time, Magnus isn’t doing anything about it. Yes, with how close their bodies have been pressed, they’ve both gotten a decent amount of friction, but Magnus isn’t actually giving either of their dicks any attention. Because Alec hasn’t asked him to. Hasn’t said he’s alright with that. And while Alec feels more than a little pathetic for his hang-ups, he feels so unspeakably grateful that Magnus is leaving them be.

Right when Alec thinks he might be able to get himself relatively under control, Magnus brings his finger up to Alec’s nipple. He circles it, soft and slow, and it’s such a small touch…

But it’s a touch Alec’s never felt before. A shiver runs down his spine, shooting into his limbs. He opens his mouth, hoping to choke in an adequate breath, but instead his throat decides to let out a loud, high-pitched whine. By the Angel, Mangus is barely touching him. He shouldn’t be making noises like this.

Magnus shifts on the bed, almost like he’s, he can’t be… is he grinding down against the mattress? Alec hooks his legs higher around Magnus’s waist, instinctively trying to pull him in closer. He’s trying, he wants to ask for more, but he doesn’t know how…

Magnus must understand, because he moves his lips over to Alec’s other nipple, and- shit… shit… he licks right over it, again, and again, before sucking it into his mouth.

Alec’s toes curl, which- he didn’t realize that was actually a thing that happened and not just an expression. But his toes are actually curling. It’s too much. He’s never felt anything like this, he didn’t think he could feel pleasure like this and Magnus’s mouth is just so wet and hot and he must be dying this must be what dying feels like-

“Oh- oh fuck! Ah… Magnus!”

Magnus makes a noise like nothing Alec’s ever heard. A loud, moaning cry and-

The lamp on the nightstand explodes.

It shocks Alec out of whatever the fuck was just happening to him, because obviously the lamp didn’t really explode, so he turns far enough to see-

The lamp didn’t explode.

Just the bulb did.

Shattered glass is littering the nightstand, and the pieces are giving off these little…

Blue sparks.

Magnus laughs (at least, Alec thinks it was supposed to be a laugh. It sounded more like a groan). “Whoops,” he murmurs, not sounding sorry at all.

So he just…

He just accidentally made a lightbulb blow up because… because of Alec?

“Magnus-”

Nothing detonates this time, but Alec can see a faint blue glow pulse from Magnus’s fingertips. Alec’s never seen his magic this… loose. It’s like he’s completely lost control. The glamour hasn’t returned to his eyes, sparks are starting to drip from his hands, shit has literally exploded.

And… Alec had something to do with that.

Apparently satisfied that he’s not in danger of damaging any more light fixtures, Magnus returns his attention to Alec. He keeps his mouth against Alec’s nipple, circling it with his tongue and exhaling hot breath and then teasing it lightly with his teeth…

Ah! Yeah, Magnus…”

A jolt of magic shoots right into his chest, right where Magnus’s hand is still running through his hair. Alec can feel it sink into his veins and pool in his gut, where heat has already been building.

So, it’s…?

“Magnus?”

Magnus whimpers, and literally everything in Alec’s vision gets a faint tint of blue, just for a moment. Like there’s a filter of magic over his eyes.

That’s… huh. It’s his name. Hearing Alec say his name.

Alec can make Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, lose control over his magic. Just by saying his name.

It doesn’t make any sense. But it’s… knowing he has… knowing he can do something like that, to Magnus… so easily. Knowing that Magnus is feeling exactly what he’s feeling right now, the same desperation, and heat, and need. It’s…

Alec smiles. A cracked, breathless, crooked smile. And because he can’t help himself from exploiting a newfound power like this, he moans. It’s not insincere (since Magnus is still ravishing him with kisses), but he definitely makes it a little louder than it would have been.

“Mmm, yeah, Maaagnus.”

It feels ridiculous, and he’s sure it sounds ridiculous, playing up his pleasure for show when he’s still very much learning how to express his pleasure in the first place. It’s silly enough that he can’t quite suppress a little laugh at the end of it.

Magnus looks up at him. His eyes are narrowed, and something about them makes it very clear that he knows what Alec’s doing.

For some reason, that just makes Alec choke on another laugh.

Magnus rolls his eyes. “‘Angelic Blood’ my ass.” He scoots up, so he’s hovering right over Alec’s face again. “You, my dear, are obviously a little devil.”

Alec laughs, and Magnus leans in to kiss him. While he’s still laughing. Laughing right into their kisses. He didn’t know he could do that.

These kisses are soft, sometimes lingering, sometimes just little pecks against his lips. It’s slower. Calmer. These kisses certainly aren’t going to make any lamps blow up. But somehow, that’s nice. Magnus shifts, nudging against Alec’s legs until he gets the idea and finally releases Magnus’s waist from the vice-grip of his thighs. Still kissing him, kissing him so gentle and sweet, Magnus settles down against Alec’s side. Alec turns his head to follow his mouth. Their legs slot together. Magnus’s hand stays on Alec’s chest, splayed out right over his heart.

It feels like… winding down. Pulling back from where they’d been so hectic. The pauses between kisses get longer, until it’s just an occasional brush of lips. Until Magnus stops altogether, and waits for Alec to initiate instead.

And he does, a few times. Presses forward just far enough to catch Magnus’s lower lip between his own. Breathes out, touches his tongue to Magnus’s, just enough to taste him.

Then, they’re just breathing. Foreheads touching, noses bumping lightly when they shift to get more comfortable. Magnus’s hand never stops moving, still trailing gently through Alec’s chest hair.

Alec didn’t know this could happen. Five minutes ago, he’d been practically sobbing under Magnus’s mouth and a heartbeat away from coming in his pants. He’d assumed that was what it needed to be. He’d thought that if they’d gotten that far, they didn’t have any option but to go further. Even if he didn’t want to have sex, it had seemed like that wasn’t actually a choice he got to make.

But then things just… calmed down. Quieted. Naturally slowed to a peaceful, wonderful finish. He’s not hard anymore, but he doesn’t feel unsatisfied. He feels more satisfied than he’s ever felt in his damn life. And it was his choice.

Laid out on Magnus’s bed, legs intertwined, breathing together. Cuddling. Alec smiles to himself at that thought. Cuddling with Magnus Bane.

He could fall asleep like this. He could easily fall asleep like this, and sleep through the night, and the morning, and wake up just like this, and never leave. Never leave this bed. Never leave Magnus.

But that’s not how this works.

And, as if on cue, Magnus breaks the long minutes of silence. “Do you have to get going?”

Alec sighs through his nose. “Probably.”

The Institute is waiting. A looming threat that had been in the distance all night but is suddenly very much in the foreground. He’s already been gone longer than he planned. He’s already been gone long enough that he just knows how much shit he’s going to have to put up with from Isabelle and Jace. They know exactly where he is. And he bets they think they know exactly what he’s doing. And he doesn’t want to hear it.

Magnus tilts his face, pressing his lips to the corner of Alec’s mouth. Something about it feels final. Like it’s over now. Like Magnus is getting ready to say goodbye. His hand finally stops moving across Alec’s chest.

And Alec can’t have that. Not yet. “But, um… not… not right now.” He opens his eyes, and shifts his head back so he can really see Magnus. “I can stay. For a little bit longer. If that’s… alright?”

Magnus looks at him. And he smiles. That same little smile that's starting to look familiar. “I think that would be just fine, darling.”

Alec smiles back at him, but he can feel his face heat up at the endearment. He’s still not used to hearing those. “Could you- uh… could you…” he doesn’t know how to say it. Or, doesn’t know if he can say it. So he touches Magnus’s hand, the one resting on his chest, and gives it a little nudge.

Magnus takes the hint with a smirk. “My pleasure.” And Alec thinks he might actually mean that. He starts moving again, his fingers tracing along the shapes of Alec’s runes.

Alec closes his eyes and hums, deep in his throat. It just feels so nice. He didn’t think he could feel this nice.

“Magnus…”

He sees blue sparks behind his closed eyelids.

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec picks up his glass.

It’s empty.

Bogus.

He sets it back down, after carefully double-checking that there’s really nothing left in it. No point in being wasteful, after all.

He turns back around. Back to the dance floor. He leans against the bar, definitely because it looks cool and aloof, and not because standing upright sounds really fucking horrible right now.

It’s loud in here.

Yeah, it’s always loud in here, but tonight it’s like, extra loud. Stupid loud.

Pandemonium has never been Alec’s favorite place. That’s possibly because he’s usually here on business, and his business trips usually aren’t a lot of fun. Then again, he’s pretty sure he’s actually disliked it even more when he’s been here for purposes other than kicking demon butts.

But if he has to pick a club (which in this case, he does), this is probably the one that Alec hates the least, because he knows it. As long as he doesn’t actually know too many of the people in it, that is. But he and Izzy have a strict agreement about making sure they’re not in the same clubs at the same time, so that’s usually not a problem.

Alec tries to focus on the dance floor, but his eyes are all fuzzy, and there’s too many people out there. He looks back at his empty drink again-

Hey.

It’s full.

Score.

He picks up the martini glass (which he actually knows how to do correctly now) and takes a sip. It stopped really tasting like anything a little while ago, but it’s still vaguely tasty, so he doesn’t mind.

He takes a gulp. He shouldn’t gulp this. He’s aware of that. But it’s tasty. It’s gulpable.

Alright. Focus.

He looks back out at the dance floor, takes a deep breath, and focuses.

Fucking fuck, why are there so many fucking people here? Damn wastes of space.

Alec blinks when things get too fuzzy, and forces his way through the dizzying sight. There’s some vampires in a little cluster by the dj. A werewolf girl is spinning between a whole group of mundane dance partners. Hm. Mundane dance partners. Mundane dance. Mundance. Hah. There’s a pair of seelies doing a dance that is far too elegant and intricate for a goddamn club. There’s just people. They’re fucking everywhere and it’s just a blur and do they even realize how rude they’re being by blocking Alec’s view like this? And-

Oh.

Oh, fuck. Shit. Yes.

The seelie couple duck off of the dance floor, and right behind them… there he is.

Magnus.

Magnus.

Fuck. Alec can’t breathe. The fuzziness in his head slips down into his chest.

Alec hasn’t caught sight of Magnus in almost… damn… it must be almost ten minutes now.

Ten whole minutes without getting to see him.

It’s been awful.

Because… because… fuck. Just looking at him. His red leather pants that are so fucking tight they required real, actual, literal magic just to squeeze into them. His black shirt, which is tight around his waist and then just open all the way up, all the way up to his collar bones so you can see his stupid amount of necklaces and so much of his chest, his chest is just right there, that inch or two across that trails all the way down to his stomach. Alec wants to get his mouth on it, wants to lick that strip of bare skin, all the way from his stomach to his neck. Magnus’s hair is probably about as high as Alec has ever seen it, spiky, streaked with red and purple and gold and just so tall it’s like his hair is taller than the rest of his head. His makeup is dark, and intricate, and mostly glitter. And he's got that stubble. The stubble that makes an artistic line around his mouth and chin. It makes him look prickly. Untouchable.

Sexy.

He's sexy. He's so unbearably sexy that Alec feels his nerves start to light up just by looking at him and this isn't even his favorite part. He can't see his favorite part. Magnus is facing the wrong way. Alec can't see, he just needs Magnus to turn the other way godfuckingdammit-

Yes. Yes.

He's starting to spin. Some sort of twirly move that takes him too far around at first, but then he settles into a new spot and he's turning his head and it’s almost there, he's almost facing the right way…

There.

Yeah.

There it is.

Alec hums into his drink.

On Magnus’s left cheek, just below his eye. A kiss mark. Purple. Dark. Perfectly clear. Like a stamp. A brand made with lipstick.

Alec brushes the tip of his index finger across his lower lip. Feeling the lipstick. The lipstick that's branding Magnus's face. The touch, and the sight, and the awareness of those two things together makes something pulse deep in Alec’s stomach. He's glad he's leaning so heavily against the bar, because his knees aren't working right anymore.

It's only then that Alec looks over far enough to see who Magnus is dancing with. She's young, and pretty, and very, very green. Her hair, dress, makeup, it's all so green that Alec can't even tell if she's a downworlder or just an eccentrically fashionable mundane. She's probably the… third? Fifth? She's one of many people Magnus has been dancing with tonight. Alec still has absolutely no concept of what makes a “skilled” dancer in this sort of environment, but this girl seems to know what she's doing more than Magnus's other partners have. She's a lot closer to him than the others were. It's definitely more… intense.

A year ago, Alec would probably have lost his fucking mind if he saw something like this. It’s not that he’s ever had a problem trusting Magnus, but actually seeing him grind and writhe his way across a dance floor full of strangers used to really fucking test his tolerance. Now, it’s nothing.

No… not ‘nothing’. Because it’s a chance to see Magnus, all dressed up in his sexiest and most outrageous finery, out on a club dance floor where he… by the Angel… he’s sinful. Twisting and bending in movements that are too fluid and enticing to be real. Alec thinks he understands now why so many animals have mating dances. It’s sure as fuck working on him.

The only thing that’s a little strange about it is the fact that it’s something Magnus enjoys. Something Magnus loves doing. And Alec’s not a part of it.

But, of course, that’s completely by choice (Magnus has tried his damndest to get Alec out on the dance floor with him for months and months and months and it’s just never gonna happen), and they both know that they’re happiest in this arrangement. Magnus getting to dance. Alec getting to watch, without having to participate. It’s perfect.

So long as Magnus has that kiss mark.

Alec’s kiss.

Right there, on his face.

It makes it easy to watch Magnus rotate through dozens of strangers whenever they go out to clubs. Magnus likes going out. Alec… well, he doesn’t like being at clubs, but he definitely loves getting to plant himself at the bar and watch Magnus. And Magnus loves taking Alec out. He loves getting to show Alec off, to be in a room full of glamorous people and get to say ‘This one, this one right here, I’ve chosen this one’.

Alec takes another gulp of his drink. Somehow, it’s already almost gone. That can’t be right. How’d that happen?

Magnus’s dancing kinda… stagnates. He says something to the girl. Alec tries to hear it, even though the fucking music is so fucking loud that he’s getting a headache. Then Magnus starts looking around, like he’s disoriented. He visibly perks up when he catches sight of the bar.

Yes.

Magnus starts looking down the row of stools.

Yes yes yes.

Magnus sees Alec.

Fuck yes.

Magnus smiles. Alec’s little smile.

And he starts to walk toward him.

Yes yes yes yesyesyesyesyes-

Fuck. How is he so beautiful? How can any one person be so fucking beautiful? It’s like… fuck. Leave some attractiveness for everyone else. Goddamn.

It’s been well over a year and a half. It’s getting close to two years. Two whole years. And in all that time, Alec still hasn’t built up a tolerance to the sight of Magnus Bane. One second of eye contact and Alec has literally lost his fucking breath. He’s just so beautiful. He’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and Alec loves him. He loves him so much it’s making his heart race just to think about it.

And he’s walking toward Alec.

Yes.

He needs to walk faster. He’s too far away. Alec needs him, he needs him right this fucking second. Magnus is taking too fucking long and it’s torture so Alec just has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. He pushes himself away from the bar and-

Whoa.

The floor isn’t working right.

Why is it like that?

Alec’s body tries to convince him to sit down and make the room stop throbbing with the beat of the music. But Magnus is only a few feet away from him and fuck if Alec doesn’t get his mouth on him this instant he knows he’s going to die.

Alec stumbles forward with the force of pure determination. A few people try to get in his way but he just stumbles right through them and Magnus is smiling at him and - yes, yes - he’s only a few inches away now-

They meet right at the edge of the dance floor and Alec cups one hand around the back of Magnus’s neck and gets his other hand firmly gripping Magnus’s ass and he immediately ducks his head and attaches his mouth to Magnus’s throat.

Fuck.

By the Angel.

Fuck.

Magnus is covered in sweat, a thin sheen that he’s worked up from the past few hours of dancing. And that’s bogus. If Magnus is going to sweat, Alec wants to be directly responsible for it.

However, he’s certainly not complaining, not when he gets to lick the sweat right off Magnus’s skin. He flattens his tongue against Magnus’s pulse point and tastes him, just tastes the tang of his sweat and whatever’s left of his cologne-

And somehow tasting Magnus’s skin turns into sucking against it, until he’s sure there’s gotta be a truly epic hickey under his mouth.

Magnus moans. Alec can feel it vibrate against his lips, and fucking hell he’s never felt blood rush to his dick this fast.

“Alexander…”

Oh shit. Alec whimpers against Magnus’s neck. Because nothing could ever possibly sound anywhere near as sexy as Magnus whining out his name over the loud beat of the music.

He needs more. He must have sucked at least three bruises onto Magnus’s neck by now but that’s still not enough-

“Alexander,” Magnus says again, but more serious and less moan-y.

Alec’s afraid something’s gone wrong, so he forces himself up and away from Magnus’s throat. “Hm?”

There’s one bead of sweat gathering at Magnus’s temple. It’s starting to slip down the side of his face, the same side of his face that has Alec’s kiss on it, and it takes every ounce of self-restraint Alec has to keep himself from leaning back in and licking it off. Magnus just tastes so good doesn’t he understand that?

Magnus’s eyes are flickering. Not changed, not yet. The glamour is still there. But it’s getting weaker. Alec sees one clear flash of gold, and by the Angel, it sends a matching flash of heat right to his gut. He wants to make the glamour break. He wants to break it, break the entire hold Magnus has on his magic, wants to make his cat eyes come out and blue sparks fall from his fingers and fuck maybe Alec could make him accidentally teleport the entire club halfway across town there’s just so many possibilities-

“Alexander-” Magnus says firmly this time, and he reaches out to grab both of Alec’s shoulders. Really tightly. Why’s he-

Oh.

Apparently Alec was almost falling over. Magnus is steadying him. That’s nice of him. He’s so nice-

“Alexander, how much have you had to drink?”

Well, that’s not the type of ‘hello’ Alec was expecting. Magnus sounds almost kinda stern with him. Like he hadn’t left Alec right next to a bar two hours ago and said “Have fun, angel.”

But… huh. Now that he thinks about it…

“Dunno.”

Magnus furrows his eyebrows. It’s adorable. “Alright, what have you been drinking?”

Why can he hear him so well? It’s so fucking loud in here, but Magnus isn’t even raising his voice and Alec can hear him clearly. He must be doing something. Some magic thing. It’s very considerate. Alec doesn’t wanna be shouting, especially not when they’re finally so close together.

“Alec?”

Alec laughs. Which is weird, since nothing is funny. “Dunno.” He points back toward the bar, trying to find the bartender he’s been dealing with. “She asked what I wanted. I said I didn’t have my wallet. She said it doesn’t matter ‘cause I’m on ‘the Bane tab’,” Alec starts laughing again, because that actually is funny because it’s so goddamn fancy it’s hilarious. “And she gave me something that tastes like really good mangoes. And she said she’d ‘keep ‘em coming’. And she did.” He smiles. “I’ve had a lot of mangoes.”

Magnus looks a little… bewildered? That’s not usual for him. “Darling, I think you’ve had a lot of vodka. I doubt many mangoes were really involved.”

Alec’s still sorta laughing, little spluttery laughs. The hand he has on Magnus’s neck slips down, so it joins his other hand on Magnus’s ass. He pulls Magnus in closer, trying to get a really good squeeze, but it feels like he’s just getting fistfulls of leather and no ass at all which is just not fair. “Why’d you come back over here?” He smirks, tilting his face down so he can bump his nose against Magnus’s. “Were you missing me?”

Magnus laughs and rests his hands on Alec’s chest. He still sounds a little surprised. “Always, sweetheart.” His fingers trail along the open collar of Alec’s shirt, dipping onto his chest and skimming down past the first three buttons (which Alec left undone tonight). “Besides, that young woman was getting far too handsy. One can only say ‘look, don’t touch’ so many times before the dancing is no longer worth one’s effort.”

Alec tilts his head further. “Aww, you mean this,” he carefully presses his lips to his own kiss mark on Magnus’s cheek, “wasn’t doing its job?”

Magnus hums, and moves his arms up to wrap around Alec’s neck, which- oh. Alec’s starting to tip backwards again. Magnus makes him tip forward instead, so Alec’s pressing against him and he’s less likely to fall over. “I suppose not,” Magnus pouts dramatically, “I think it makes me look sufficiently unavailable, but it may be too subtle for some people.” He turns his face, offering his other cheek with a precious little smirk. “Maybe if you mark the other side as well?”

And it’s just too much, everything is rushing to Alec’s head and swirling around his chest and dropping down to his gut and pooling significantly lower than his gut and he just can’t take it anymore. So he pulls Magnus against him even harder, using his grip on Magnus’s ass to really grind their hips together. He brushes his nose against the side of Magnus’s face, and brings his lips to his ear. “Better idea: what if I bent you over the bar and fucked you right here, in front of everyone? Think that’d get the point across?”

Magnus jerks in his arms, and that’s sure a nice feeling. He exhales sharply against Alec’s neck, and it’s hot and a little damp and it’s amazing. “Alexander…” He sounds startled. Surprised. But he definitely doesn’t sound like he’s opposed to the idea.

It makes Alec moan, right into Magnus’s ear. He slides his hands up to the small of Magnus’s back and digs in his fingers, because magic pants be damned, Alec is going to get his hands inside them if it’s the last thing he does. He pushes down, and manages to slip one hand into the impossibly tight leather. The lack of underwear lets him touch Magnus’s bare ass and Alec moans again because of just how badly he wants to get his teeth into it.

His dick is getting more insistent every second and Magnus is finally right here and he’s so gorgeous and already sweating and Alec’s never needed anything this bad before. He needs it so bad he can’t breathe, he’s gasping and groaning against Magnus’s cheek.

“Please, Magnus, please-” He presses forward and holds Magnus still so he can feel how hard Alec is for him, so he can understand just how much Alec means this. “Wanna fuck you, Mags, I wanna fuck you so bad.” He presses his open mouth to Magnus’s temple, trailing ridiculously sloppy kisses down to his jaw and up behind his ear.

Magnus gasps, actually gasps and tilts his head back, which is… yeah. That’s good. It gives Alec more room, lets him get Magnus’s earlobe between his teeth, tasting the metallic sting of three different earrings. Alec gets rid of the taste of metal by running his tongue along the shell of Magnus’s ear, then slowly licking all the way inside. Magnus whimpers and clutches at Alec’s shoulder with one hand, the other slipping down to fist in the fabric of his shirt.

“Yeah,” Alec whispers into his ear, grinding forward again to encourage him. “Yeah, c’mon Mags, let me fuck you. I’ll make it so good, I’ll be so good for you, I promise.” The hand that isn’t down Magnus’s pants starts running across his back, roaming and pulling and scratching until he’s almost clawing at him with the need to get closer. “I’m wearing that thong, the purple one, I know how much you love it. I could show it off.” He whines a little as he struggles to catch his breath, because he can’t stop talking he just can’t, not until Magnus gets it. “I’ll be so good. You’ll love it. I’ll lick you open, get you wet for me, make you wanna beg for it. I’ll fuck you so good, make you come so hard babe, I swear…”

Huh. He’s never called Magnus ‘babe’ before. But at the moment it feels right and it’s not like he’s got much control over what his mouth is spewing anyway and Magnus is still clutching at him and moaning out into the noise of the club so Alec’s pretty sure he doesn't have a problem with the new pet name.

Alec feels heat prickle against the sliver of his chest that’s bared. Which makes him finally pull his mouth away from Magnus’s ear, so he can verify that… yes. Yes. Blue sparks are shooting out of Magnus’s fingers, hitting Alec’s skin with audibly powerful cracks before disappearing into his chest, sending warmth into his already overheated blood.

He just can’t stop thinking about it. Picturing it. Imagining it. How good it is to fuck Magnus. The way his back arches when Alec first pushes into him. The way he groans and sighs, like it’s a relief, like finally having Alec inside him again fixes something that’s been broken. The way his thighs tense and tremble when he’s about to come, the way his voice gets higher and breathier, the way he cries out Alec’s name right when it hits him-

“Please, Magnus, please please please-”

“Alexander!”

Oh.

That was…

That wasn’t good.

That wasn’t an ‘I’m going to let my boyfriend fuck me over the bar’ tone of voice.

That was a ‘My boyfriend and I are about to have a serious talk’ tone of voice.

Also… it’s the tone of voice he uses when he’s been trying to get his attention, and Alec hasn’t been listening. Has he been saying things this whole time? Whoops.

Alec forces himself to pull away, even going as far as to slip his hand out of Magnus’s pants. He immediately feels cold, and disappointed. Any distance is too much distance right now. But he’s not going to ignore Magnus using an unhappy voice. He’s gotta find out why he’s unhappy, so he can fix it. “What is it?”

Magnus looks…

Well, shit. He certainly doesn’t look unhappy. He looks just about as desperate as Alec feels. The glamour is completely gone from his eyes, and his gold irises are practically glowing in the dim light of the club. He has his lower lip tucked between his teeth, like he’s trying to hold something in. And he’s flushed, and panting. Completely out of breath. Alec risks a quick glance down and, yeah, the front of his pants certainly don't make it seem like he’s uninterested.

So… what the fuck?

“What’s wrong?” Alec asks again, since he really, really has no clue.

Magnus raises his eyebrows. “What’s wrong, darling, is that you are spectacularly drunk.”

That’s-

Wh-

Huh.

He supposes that’s true. He hasn’t really been thinking about it much tonight. But… yeah. Shit. He’s pretty damn drunk.

This realization makes him laugh. Hard. Stupid little giggles that force him to lean his forehead against Magnus’s just to keep himself from stumbling forward. He certainly doesn’t see a problem here. “And…?”

Magnus cups a hand against Alec’s cheek, nudging him far enough away to hold his gaze. “And it would hardly be acceptable for me to take advantage of you in this state. You aren't in your right mind, sweetheart.”

Alec snorts. “Yeah, ‘cause I neeeever wanna fuck you when I’m sober.” He tilts his face to catch Magnus’s mouth with his own.

His movements must really be hindered by the whole ‘drunk’ thing, because Magnus easily dodges the kiss. “Not in public, no. As I recall, you still won’t even have sex in our own living room if the curtains are open.”

“This is different-”

“Because you are drunk, Alexander. I’m not going to let you do anything you’ll regret in the morning.” He smirks. “However, I’m pretty sure you’ve already guaranteed yourself a hangover that will make you regret this entire evening.”

Alec wants to laugh, but he’s still too upset that Magnus is being so goddamn reasonable. It’s infuriating. “Then take us home. Please, Magnus, I need you-”

Magnus actually laughs at him, which is just… cruel. Alec didn’t think Magnus could be so mean. “Alexander, I am not going to portal us home just because you can’t keep it in your pants for another half hour. You are a grown man. I’m sure you have some self-control.”

Alec grimaces. This is entirely unfair. This is horrible. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.

Magnus sees his face and just laughs at him again. “I leave you alone for less than two hours and this is what happens?” He brushes his thumb across Alec’s cheek, which… fuck. Alec still wants to be mad at him, but he really likes when Magnus touches him like this. “I always assumed that if you ever got more than three drinks in you, you’d either be passed out in a corner, or trying to start a fight with an inanimate object. But who would have ever thought that Alexander Lightwood is a horny drunk?”

Alec makes a sound that’s kinda laughing, kinda scoffing. Because that is a funny idea. But it’s also insulting. He doesn’t want Magnus right now because he’s been drinking. He wants Magnus because Magnus is so impossibly beautiful and Alec loves him so much and he doesn’t know how else he can make Magnus understand that. If he could just fuck him, if Alec could take Magnus right now and fuck him better than he’s ever fucked him before, right here, where everyone could see it, he knows Magnus would understand what this really is. That this has nothing to do with alcohol. That this is about how much Alec loves him. He loves him and he wants everyone to know how much he loves him. Only him. No one else. Always.

But he doesn’t know how else to let Magnus know that, to let everyone else know that. Not if he isn’t allowed to fuck him, and why can’t Magnus understand how much he needs to fuck him right now?

His hand is on Magnus’s ass again, trying to slip back into his pants to touch his skin. But Magnus apparently isn’t having any of it, because he reaches back to grab Alec’s hand, and pushes it higher up on his back. To a much more chaste position. “I’m serious, Alexander.” But even though he says that, he’s smiling. He’s smiling Alec’s smile. Alec loves that smile. His heart does a weird floppy thing just seeing it. “Believe me, I am incredibly receptive to your suggestion, but I have to insist that you control yourself until we have a bit more privacy.” He puts on a Stern Face, like he’s being really serious now, but there’s something silly about it too. “No funny business on the dance floor.”

Alec whines. An inarticulate, petulant whine. Like a goddamn toddler.

And Magnus just laughs at him. Why does he keep doing that? “I’m sure you’ll survive, darling.” He loops an arm around Alec’s waist and starts guiding him back toward the bar. “Now, I’m in desperate need of a drink, and apparently I’m about a dozen behind, which certainly isn’t fair.”

Alec wants to snap back at him, because there’s definitely something unfair about this situation, and it sure as fuck isn’t that. But moving this much is making the room go wobbly again, and it takes all of his focus just to get himself successfully seated on a bar stool.

His empty drink is nowhere to be seen. He’s not sure if the bartender didn’t think he was coming back, or if he’s been cut off (does that really happen? Can he really be drunk enough for an alcohol professional to say ‘no more’?). Either way, it’s a disappointment. He glances over to Magnus to-

Magnus has a drink in his hand. A thick, fancy glass, filled halfway with amber liquid.

There’s literally no way that he had time to order a drink, much less already have it in his hand. Alec narrows his eyes.

Magnus shrugs, and takes a delicate sip. “I’ll pay for it. Eventually.” He smirks, and cozies himself up against the bar.

He’s standing next to Alec, close enough that they’re pressed together in a few places. Alec’s still a little annoyed about being at the bar for any reason other than fucking, but… still… he can’t deny that the few sparks of Magnus’s heat against his side feel really, really good.

“So,” Magnus starts again once he’s calmly sipped down half of his whiskey, “apart from drinking the entire top shelf, what have you been up to tonight?”

“Enjoying the view,” Alec says with what he can only assume is a pretty dopey grin. It feels pretty dopey.

Magnus laughs, quiet and surprised, which just makes Alec grin harder because he did that. He made Magnus laugh. Four hundred years of laughing at stuff and still, Alec can find things that surprise him enough to make him laugh. Isn’t that something?

Magnus sets down his glass and leans his elbow on the bar. He reaches out his other hand and - mmm, yeah - brushes his fingers through the hair at the nape of Alec’s neck. “And I’m sure you’ve been fighting off proposals and advances from hopeful paramours left and right?”

“Psh, no.” Alec scoffs, feeling a flash of righteous indignation. “Of course not. Look at me. Look at…” he waves a hand around the general area of his face. “People don’t come up to me. They take one look at all this and go ‘That guy, that guy, he’s obviously not here alone. ‘S no way he’s single. He’s gotta - looking like that - he’s gotta be here with someone like. Someone like Magnus Bane.’ That’s what they’re all saying,” Alec tilts his head out to the rest of the club to indicate that he really means everyone.

Magnus’s mouth drops open, like he’s gonna say something, but he… doesn’t. His eyes are a little wide. He lets out a little chuckle. A stunned chuckle, like he can’t believe what he just heard.

Which is dumb, because everything Alec said is fucking true and Magnus should goddamn know that by now.

Magnus’s fingers keep scratching lightly through Alec’s hair and it feels so goddamn amazing. And Magnus is smiling. Wide and still a little bit startled. “Are you saying you’re too intimidating for anyone to flirt with you?”

Alec giggles and tilts his head further into Magnus’s touch. “Kinda.” He moves his head a little too far, and the room spins so fast it makes his stomach lurch. He focuses back on Magnus to make everything stay in place. “They’re intimidated by how pretty I am.”

“You-” Magnus sort of chokes out, but he doesn’t finish. He just keeps looking all confused, like a fish flopping around out of water. But he’s stepping in closer to Alec, and his other hand wraps around Alec’s waist, and he looks happy, and all Alec wants to do for the rest of his life is keep making Magnus look like that.

“What…” Magnus starts again, like he’s trying really hard to pick words, “What intimidates them so much? What do they see that makes them know you’re too pretty for them?”

Alec laughs a little bit, like a gurgle under his breath. Because it’s a funny question. “I mean, all of it, really.” He nudges his knee against Magnus’s leg, trying to encourage him to step in between Alec’s thighs. “Like… look. Look at this.” He glances down at himself, not wanting to move far enough away to make any gestures. He laughs again as his brain starts catching up to the question, giving him too many answers all at once. “Look at my eyes, look.” He widens his eyes and leans in to make sure Magnus can really see them. “What color is that? What do you call that color? You can’t. You can’t call it anything, there’s no name for it, ‘cause there’s like, twelve colors in there, at least. And, and-” he raises his eyebrows and closes his eyes, “look at that, look at that smokey eye.” He opens his eyes again to make sure Magnus is looking. “That’s like, professional shit right there.” It totally is. Alec is fantastic at smokey eyes now. He used his best palette, the one Magnus got him for his last birthday, the one that he’s pretty sure cost more than a… a… really expensive thing (even though Magnus has assured him multiple times that the shimmer is not caused by crushed-up diamonds, like Alec suspects). His eyeliner is perfect, and he’s even wearing a pair of fake eyelashes. His eyes are unbelievable right now. Perfect. Gorgeous.

Magnus is giggling, and running his hands across Alec’s neck and waist, and scooting in right between Alec’s thighs, exactly where Alec wants him to be. It would be annoying that Magnus is laughing while Alec is saying all this, but he’s nodding too, like he agrees, so his laughter just seems… cute. Fucking adorable. “What else?”

Alec grins. This is fun. “Bone structure. Yeah. Look.” He tilts his face a bit in a bunch of directions to show it off. “Fantastic. I don’t even need to contour any of this. But I do anyway. Because I can.” He rests his hands on Magnus’s shoulders, letting them wander up toward his neck. He just needs to make sure he stays this close. Because it’s nice. It’s really nice. “And this lipstick is like… super beautiful. And it goes great with this shirt,” he nods down to his button-up, which is the exact same shade of deep purple as his lipstick. He drums his fingers lightly on Magnus’s collarbones, and glances down at his nails. They’re silver. And glittery. With a little love rune painted on each one. “It’s like… everything. I’m just, like, stupidly pretty.” He looks back up at Magnus…

Magnus isn’t laughing anymore. But he’s still got his little Alec smile. And he looks… he’s just… he’s looking at Alec. So… intensely. The last time he looked at Alec like this, it had been right before he’d asked Alec to move in with him. His glamour hasn’t come back yet, and his gold eyes are… burning. In a warm way. Even though he isn’t saying anything, Alec can hear it, way in the back of his mind, he can hear Magnus’s voice saying how much he loves him. It makes his gut twist up, and it’s too good, it’s too much, he has to kiss him, he has to kiss Magnus right now-

He almost slips off the stool, losing his balance and catching himself on the bar at the last second. It breaks the moment, because Alec is laughing, and that makes Magnus laugh, and that makes Alec laugh harder.

“Here, darling,” Magnus says gently, helping him sit upright. He keeps his hand where it’s been on the back of Alec’s head, but it feels… different now, feels somehow…

Oh. There’s a warm, soothing pulse. It hits right at the base of his skull, and spreads through his body, timed with the beats of his heart. It’s wonderful.

“What’s that?” Alec mumbles.

“Just taking the edge off all this alcohol. It should leave most of the warm fuzzies, but reduce your chances of falling down and hurting yourself.”

Alec laughs again. Because that’s so nice of him. He feels another wave course through him. “Mmm, you’re… you’re really good. At that magic stuff.”

Magnus smirks. “Enjoy it while you can. I’m not going to do a damn thing to help with your hangover tomorrow.”

Alec frowns. That’s less nice.

But he does feel significantly more… stable. He twists his head around a bit, and no matter how fast he moves, the room doesn’t start spinning at all. He stands up, just to test it, and yeah. His chest is still warm and his head is still sleepy, but his body feels perfectly fine. “Thanks.”

Magnus just keeps smiling at him, hand still on his neck. “Well, I can’t let the most beautiful man in the club stumble around and drunkenly ruin his intimidating good looks, can I?”

“Psh,” Alec shoves lightly at Magnus’s hip. “‘S’not me. Not the 'most'. That’s a tie.”

“A tie?” Magnus repeats, sounding absolutely delighted.

Alec nods gravely. “That’s how they know. That’s how everybody figures it out. ‘Cause, they see me, right, and they go ‘That’s the prettiest person I’ve ever seen!’ But then they look out on the dance floor and they see you and they go 'That’s the prettiest person I’ve ever seen!’ And then it’s like ‘Ohhhhh they must be together’ because it just makes sense.” He leans in, trying to get Magnus even closer to him. “It’s basic logic. We’re the two most beautiful fuckers in this whole place, so obviously we’re-” he cuts himself off with a snort-laugh because he accidentally set himself up for a joke - “fucking.” He breaks into giggles, and ducks in to smush his face against Magnus’s neck.

Magnus is laughing too, and rubbing Alec’s back, and it’s so nice everything is so nice Alec feels like he could just… dissolve. Dissolve into a puddle of niceness.

They stay like that for a lot longer than they probably should. Alec half-sitting on a stool, crumpled against Magnus’s shoulder, with Magnus giving him the most successful hug he can in the awkward position. After a minute, Alec can feel Magnus press kisses to his hair. He hums, because that’s nice, too.

“Love you, Mags,” Alec mumbles into Magnus’s shirt.

Magnus makes a soft sound. “I love you too, my darling.”

Alec smiles. And slowly, slowly starts to bring his hands around Magnus’s back again. Because Magnus didn’t let him last time, and he doesn’t want to get caught again. Magnus doesn’t say anything, so Alec carefully starts to slip one hand down to Magnus’s ass-

Magnus pulls away from him.

Shit. Fuck. Shitfuck.

“Alexander, we were having such a nice moment,” Magnus scolds with a lopsided grin.

“Which is why I was nicely trying to touch your butt,” Alec defends.

Magnus laughs, loud and deep, and Alec loves the sound of it, loves making him laugh like that, loves him so much.

But then Magnus starts to move away, and that’s definitely the worst thing anyone has ever done in the history of the world. “Are you going to go dance some more?” Alec asks, and tries to keep his absolute devastation out of his voice.

Magnus purses his lips, like he’s considering his answer. “I suppose I could. But I recently received a much more… exciting offer from a certain gorgeous shadowhunter.”

Alec’s heart skips a beat, and he lurches forward a bit. Because that… that would… that… “But you said-”

“I said no funny business on the dance floor.” He smirks. “I didn’t say anything about the bathrooms.”

Alec almost falls off the stool in his haste to stand up. This has to be a joke…

Magnus raises an eyebrow. And that’s… that’s what he always does. That’s his little way, his little flirty way of challenging Alec. A little ‘I dare you’.

The room starts spinning again, and it has nothing to do with alcohol.

Alec dives in. He gets his arms around Magnus’s waist and scoops him right off the floor. Magnus gives a startled laugh. And he just keeps laughing, bright and happy, as Alec hauls him off to the nearest bathroom.    

 

 

Chapter Text

“Am I still a virgin?”

Magnus chokes on his whiskey.

Which Alec supposes is a fair reaction, since the last thing Magnus had said was ‘Do you want something to drink?’

But it’s been gnawing at Alec’s brain for a few days now, and the gnawing has been getting more and more persistent, and apparently it’s finally gnawed away the last of Alec’s restraint, since he blurted out the question without even thinking about it. If he had been thinking about it, he’d probably have chosen a better setting for this conversation. Probably.

They’ve just finished dinner. Magnus is wandering around the loft, gravitating toward the mini bar, but never really stopping in one place. And Alec is in the kitchen, hunched over the sink, washing the dishes. He always washes the dishes right after dinner. All of them. By hand. And then he always wipes down the counters, and the table. After three months of dates, Magnus has finally stopped fighting him on this by magicking away the mess before Alec can get to it. Because Alec likes doing it. He actually kinda… loves it. He loves doing things around the loft. Little chores. Always by hand. Putting in the effort. Because, from what he can guess, Magnus probably hasn’t had many people put in effort for him. For hundreds of years now, Alec’s pretty sure Magnus has been used to doing everything. Waving away any problem or obstacle or task with a few blue sparks. And that’s fine, and Alec knows it isn’t a hassle for him. But… he thinks, he hopes, that it might be nice for Magnus to have someone want to do things for him. Even if it’s less convenient than using his magic. He hopes Magnus appreciates that Alec wants to make an effort for him. Wants Magnus to see Alec do things for him. Wants Magnus to understand that Alec thinks he’s worth it. Worth the effort. He’s not sure if Magnus has ever had that before.

And now, focusing on washing off the last dirty fork must have distracted his brain just enough to turn off his filter. Because this really isn’t the right time to be talking about virginity. Alec can’t believe he even got that word out of his mouth without blushing.

“S-sorry,” he sputters, rinsing off the fork and setting it on the towel with the rest of the clean dishes. “Forget I… said. Anything.” He reaches for the next dish, desperate for something to do with his hands to break the awkwardness… but there aren’t any dishes left. He grabs a soapy washcloth instead, and starts to scrub the counter.

Now he just has to hope that Magnus actually forgets that he said anything, and they can both pretend this never happened-

“Alexander.”

Fuck.

Magnus is in the kitchen now, leaning against the stove, drink still in his hand. Alec glances at him over his shoulder, and- yeah. That’s his ‘Serious Talk’ face. Shit. Why can he read Alec so well? It’s only been three months. It’s not fair.

“What makes you ask?” And, damn. That phrasing means Magnus can tell that Alec didn’t just start thinking about this on a whim. He can tell it’s important.

Alec needs to work on his poker face.

But the conversation’s started now. And when Magnus finds out something is bothering Alec, he becomes an unstoppable juggernaut until he’s helped Alec work through it. He’s so fucking considerate like that. Alec’s only option is surrender.

So he sighs, still idly pushing the washcloth around the edge of the sink. He keeps his gaze down, back turned, keeping his focus as far away from Magnus as possible. “It was… a couple days ago. Jace was already awake when I got back to the Institute, and I don’t think he knew that I stay here overnight sometimes, and he just…” Alec breathes in slowly. “He made some dumb jokes. It was stupid. He was just joking, I know he was just joking, but he kept talking about ‘Virgin Shadowhunter Energy’ and-”

Magnus makes a sound. A little… gurgle. Like he’s choked on his drink again. Alec looks over his shoulder again to make sure he’s alright-

Magnus averts his gaze as soon as Alec turns. He looks down at his glass almost… sort of… he can’t be… embarrassed? Magnus Bane doesn’t get embarrassed. But this must be the Magnus Bane equivalent of embarrassment.

And obviously Alec doesn’t know what the fuck to do with that, so he turns back to the sink. “And I just… it didn’t… the word just kinda- stuck. I don’t…”

He doesn’t know what to think. He’d never even considered it until Jace brought it up. And he doesn’t know why it’s suddenly important. But hearing Jace joke about it, hearing Jace say bullshit about ‘popped cherries’ (which is probably the most horrific euphemism Alec has ever heard, because nothing about that sounds like it could be enjoyable for anyone), it was… and even though he knows Jace was just teasing him…

It put the idea in Alec’s head. The word. The term. Whether or not the term applied to him.

And he didn’t know.

He doesn’t know.

It’s not like he and Magnus haven’t done anything. They’ve done… Alec’s face heats up… they’ve done plenty. Hell, Alec had barely been here for fifteen minutes tonight before he was on his knees with Magnus’s cock in his mouth - and just thinking about that makes him grip the washcloth so tight that water squeezes out and drips onto the floor. Yeah, Alec definitely wouldn’t consider himself ‘inexperienced’ anymore.

But, that being said, they still haven’t done everything. They haven’t… what Alec’s mind first goes to when he thinks about ‘sex’, they haven’t done that. Alec just hasn’t… wanted to yet. He still thinks he will, at some point. He thinks about it every now and then. He wants it every now and then. At least once a week, he’ll think that their next date will be the one where it’ll be too much and he’ll finally ask for it, but then he’s in bed with Magnus and everything else is happening and he can’t imagine wanting more than he’s already getting so the desire just kind of… goes away. Fizzles out. Even the few times that he’s had - by the Angel - he’s had Magnus’s fingers, in… inside him, it had been enough. More than enough. It had been such an incredible feeling that Alec had no interest in having anything more.

And Magnus hasn’t been pushing him for it. Obviously. Magnus has never pushed him for anything. Magnus has made it clear, every single day they’ve been together, that it’s up to Alec. That he wouldn’t mind if they never did any of it. And Alec loves that. He loves how easy it all is, he loves that Magnus makes it all so easy, loves that Magnus doesn’t mind being with someone who still hasn’t wanted to have sex with him even though they’ve been together for months-

Except… maybe that’s not right? Maybe they have had sex, because maybe Alec has been thinking about it wrong, and he doesn’t know, and how stupid does he have to be to not even know if he’s a goddamn virgin or not? He’s just too fucking stupid-

Magnus makes a little sound. Like he’s thinking. It pulls Alec out of his thoughts, but he still can’t make himself turn around. He just keeps running the washcloth over the same spot on the edge of the sink. Not doing anything.

“Well…” Magnus says, in that one tone of voice, the one that’s light and casual, but in a way that lets Alec know he’s taking what he says seriously, “I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘virginity’.”

Alec frowns down at the counter. Because that’s not… that’s not something he can just, do, is it? ‘His’ definition? Like it’s different than anyone else’s? The word’s already been defined. It has nothing to do with what Alec thinks about it. “It’s wh… it’s whether or not you’ve had sex.” He says it as simply as he can, because it’s obvious, and it’s not an opinion, and he’s not going to blush just because he said it outloud.

Magnus makes that same noise. That same thinking noise. But it’s a little… longer. He draws it out. Alec still can’t bring himself to look at him, but it sounds like he’s… smiling a little? “In that case, I suppose it depends-”

Alec chokes on a sudden laugh, because he can hear it, he can hear Magnus’s answer before he says it-

“-on your definition of ‘sex’.”

Alec can definitely hear the smile this time, the smile Magnus gets when he knows that he and Alec are on the same page. When Alec finally catches up to him. A wry, understanding smile.

But that’s still…

That still doesn’t make sense.

“It’s… it’s sex,” Alec says as firmly as he can while he can feel his cheeks burning. “You can’t just- you, you don’t get to…” His jaw tenses, and he can feel his throat work to form more words, even though he doesn’t have any. Because it should be obvious, and he doesn’t know how to explain it, and it’s so fucking frustrating. “It’s already… it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s already…” he breathes out sharply through his nose.

“Alright.” He can hear the little clack of Magnus’s glass being set on the stove. He still sounds so calm. So reasonable. Alec doesn’t understand how it can be so calming and infuriating at the same time. “Have we had sex?”

Alec regrets saying anything. He regrets bringing it up. He regrets every word he’s ever said in his entire damn life.

His first impulse is to say no, because they haven’t. Because there’s something that he’s known his entire life as ‘sex’, a simple and unambiguous concept that doesn’t leave room for interpretation. Even when he’d started understanding that the only interest he had in sex was with a man and not a woman, there was still a solid definition of the word. It’s a simple definition. A simple thing. And they haven’t done it.

But then… he thinks about being with Magnus. All the ways they’ve been together, all the things they have done. He thinks about being pressed together, being wrapped around each other, under the sheets, naked (though that’s something Alec’s only recently been able to handle, and it’s still only when he’s hidden by the covers and can’t really be seen), feeling nothing but bare skin and sweat. Rutting against each other, clutching and gasping and stroking. He thinks about how it feels to have his orgasm start to hit while Magnus is still kissing him, having to cry out right against Magnus’s lips, and Magnus just kissing him deeper because of it. So many times now, he’s been tangled up in silk sheets, covered in sweat and his own come and Magnus’s come, struggling for air, hearing Magnus right next to him, moaning with every breath. He’s gotten to hear every whimper and whine and cry and filthy whisper Magnus has made, gotten to see Magnus lie between his legs and take Alec’s cock into his mouth like it’s an honor to get to do it, gotten to feel Magnus slowly press slick fingers inside him… Alec’s gotten to hear and see and feel so much that he doesn’t deserve. Magnus just gives and gives and gives and Alec doesn’t deserve any of it, doesn’t deserve to know what sounds Magnus makes when he comes, to see what Magnus looks like kneeling at Alec’s feet, to feel Magnus’s mouth tighten around his cock when he comes down his throat. Alec’s been given so much pleasure he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do with all of it, and…

And if that's not what sex is supposed to be, then Alec has no interest in it.

Magnus is still waiting for an answer. But Alec still isn’t… still doesn’t know what to say. Because he doesn’t want to be wrong. He doesn’t want to say ‘yes’ and have Magnus disagree. He can’t handle being incorrect about his own goddamn sex life, or having Magnus think he’s naive because of it. So he tries to deflect. “Do you think we have?”

“I asked you first.”

Alec finally turns around to face him, to make sure he can see how spectacularly Alec rolls his eyes at him. It just makes Magnus chuckle.

But now they’re facing each other. Alec leaning back against the counter, Magnus leaning back against the stove. Magnus is giving him a sort-of-smile, a look that’s gentle and not trying to push him and so obviously ready to listen to him, to really listen to what he has to say and care about his opinion, and it makes Alec want to tell him every thought he’s ever had because he knows his thoughts are safe with Magnus-

“Yeah. Yeah, I… I think we have.”

Magnus’s smile gets bigger. “So do I.”

Alec feels something expand in his chest, like his heart had been stopped and it’s finally beating again. He gives Magnus the best smile he can, though it’s just a little quirk in one side of his mouth.

Magnus tilts his head, and his smile twists bit. “Honestly, I’ve never seen much use for the concept of ‘virginity’, for this very reason. There are too many variables. It’s too ambiguous. If it’s important to someone, that’s a different story - as long as they’re the one defining all those variables. But if not…” He shrugs. “I personally haven’t found the term to be very helpful.” His smile breaks open, and he shifts a little against the stove. “But if it’s been bothering you, darling, I’m sure I could track down a unicorn. So you can get a professional opinion.”

Alec laughs, and takes a moment to appreciate how nice it feels to laugh after being so stressed (especially being stressed over nothing, as it had turned out). “No, I… I don’t think that’s necessary.” He turns back to the sink, still chuckling, and tries to focus on washing the countertop.

He must have been focusing more than he thought, because he nearly jumps out of his skin when he feels Magnus’s hand brush the small of his back. He keeps it there, touching Alec so gently, just a small indication of his presence.

“Alec, are you unhappy with anything we’ve done? Or not done?” His voice is so gentle and cautious that it seems to suck all the air out of the room.

Alec parts his lips. But he can’t make his voice work right away, even though he knows the answer. “No,” he finally manages. Still, it doesn’t feel like enough.

Magnus must not think it’s inadequate, because he slowly, carefully wraps his arms around Alec’s waist. Alec gives a little hum without meaning to, because Magnus is so warm against his back. After a moment, he feels Magnus tuck his face against Alec’s shoulder. Alec leans a little harder against the counter, and closes his eyes, and breathes. And feels Magnus breathe against him. And it’s just so nice.

When he can finally bring himself to move, he shifts in Magnus’s arms, just far enough so he can see his face. “I… I really li-” His voice gives out, and he swallows to steady it. “I love having sex with you.”

And of course, it sounds all wrong. It sounds like it’s meant to be dirty, or flirtatious, like it’s a pick-up line, and it doesn’t sound sweet or honest or have any of the meaning Alec wanted it to.

But Magnus just smiles at him. A slow, gradual smile, with his eyebrows tilted up and his eyes crinkling in the corners. “I love having sex with you too, Alexander.”

Alec’s stomach flutters, somehow light and deep at the same time. And it suddenly feels like he might just up and die if he doesn't kiss Magnus right now. So he leans in, and Magnus… yes. Magnus must be feeling the same thing, because he's already lifting up onto his tiptoes, his arms still wrapped around Alec.

It's a gentle kiss, just parted lips and the slightest touch of Magnus's tongue. But Alec feels it in every nerve in his body, spreading warmth through his veins.

Even though the timing is horribly wrong, part of Alec wants to hoist Magnus up into his arms and carry him to the bedroom. Or maybe to just lay him down right here, right on the rug in front of the sink. It’s like his whole body is fighting to make him take this further, even though his brain knows this is not the right moment, and there’s still an entire night of opportunity ahead of them.

As if he can somehow sense Alec’s impulses, Magnus pulls away. Alec instinctively chases after his lips, but Magnus smirks at him and steps back, finally releasing Alec’s waist. “So, darling, back to your original question,” he playfully raises an eyebrow. “Are you still a virgin?”

His expression is wry and almost a little teasing, but Alec still knows that he isn’t taking this lightly, or brushing off what Alec is feeling. He’s just making it easier. Easier for Alec to talk about it. Easier.

Even though the mood is lighter now, Alec still takes a moment to really, really think about his answer. But, to his surprise, it ends up being simple. “Either way, I don’t care.” He smiles, and it feels final, like it’s an end. Magnus smiles right back at him, that little smile of his, and that settles it. Conversation over.

“Care to join me for some awful television?” Magnus asks with another playful smirk.

Alec scoffs, and picks up his abandoned washcloth. “Yes, but obviously I’m not done washing up yet.” He gestures to expanse of the sauce-spattered and crumb-littered countertop.

“Alexander-” Magnus groans, trying to reach across Alec and take the washcloth from him.

Alec sees the slightest hint of blue gathering in Magnus’s fingertips, and he quickly ducks out of the way, holding the cloth up over his head and far out of Magnus’s reach. “If you try to magic this away, I swear I will clean this entire damn loft from floor to ceiling before I watch any tv with you.” He tries to sound threatening, but the laughter that bubbles into his voice kinda ruins the impact.

Magnus gives an extravagant pout, but he steps away in surrender. Alec laughs as he goes back to cleaning, and… he’s probably just imagining it… but he thinks he sees Magnus give a little hint of a smile. A little smile at Alec’s effort. It makes something twist in Alec’s chest.

“Fine,” Magnus sighs dramatically, “I guess I’ll go watch Dance Moms by myself.” He takes a step backward, toward the living room. “Alone. Completely alone. Lonely, and cold, and un-cuddled-”

“Everything you say is just making me clean slower,” Alec snaps, voice broken by embarrassing little giggles.

“Hmpf.” Magnus pointedly picks up the glass of whiskey he’d left on the stove, and knocks back the rest of it in one go. He sets the glass back down, significantly harder than necessary, before giving a grand turn and storming out of the kitchen. As he goes, Alec can hear him mutter something about “horrible nephilim and their infuriating responsibility…

And, well, obviously that’s the last straw.

Alec hurls the soaking washcloth at Magnus’s feet. And Magnus’s brief confusion and outrage lasts just long enough for Alec to run out into the living room after him. He catches Magnus’s little cry of surprise with his mouth, and tackles him onto the couch.

 

 

Chapter Text

The first time he wears makeup in the Institute, it’s barely anything.

And still, it’s taken weeks to do it. Alec’s had his own makeup kit for two months now. But he’s kept it at Magnus’s. Magnus was the one who’d bought it for him in the first place.

(Though that had not been Alec’s plan. He’d wanted Magnus to go shopping with him to make sure he got the right products in the right colors and make sure Alec didn’t get too overwhelmed by the daunting process. Alec had every intention of paying for his own damn makeup… but obviously anything actually in his price range wasn’t anywhere near good enough for Magnus Bane’s boyfriend. And since Alec can’t spend thirty dollars on concealer, and Magnus can’t let Alec wear five dollar concealer… well. Alec’s desire to have his own makeup had outweighed his pride that day.)

And Magnus has been wonderful about it ever since. He’s never actually done Alec’s makeup for him - not entirely, anyway, just bits and pieces. But he’s taken him through everything, patiently, one product at a time. And by now, Alec doesn’t need help. With just his makeup kit, a mirror, and twenty minutes, Alec can…

He can make himself beautiful.

But Magnus’s loft and the Institute are two completely different worlds. And Alec has never brought his makeup into this world. Not since the morning Izzy had done it for him, and started this whole thing.

She hasn’t mentioned it again. That day, he’d wiped it all off before anyone else could see it (though having to wash it away and see his horrible, plain face again had absolutely destroyed him), and Isabelle has never even acknowledged it. Alec feels more than a little guilty about that, knowing that Izzy probably thinks he’d hated it, when really… it’s the first thing that’s ever made him forget to hate himself at all.

It’s just not something he knows how to say to her. And it’s not something he knows how to show her.

Not just her, but everyone. Everyone in the Institute. There are too many people here. Too many people who would be surprised or confused or demand explanations that Alec doesn’t have. He knows not everyone would care, but there are people who definitely would. And Alec’s not ready to have to defend himself just yet.

Which is why he’s starting small.

It’s just powder. And a little bit of blush.

It’s barely anything.

Compared to the full face of contours and highlights and eyeliner and lipstick that he’ll do for himself when he’s with Magnus, this hint of makeup shouldn’t look like anything at all.

But as Alec stares himself down in the bathroom mirror… yeah. He can tell.

It’s not like it’s an obviously cosmetic look. Knowing what his plain face usually looks like, he can’t imagine anyone would see this and think ‘makeup’. Maybe ‘Alec must have gotten more sleep than usual’, but definitely not ‘Alec’s wearing makeup’. It’s subtle. It’s barely noticeable, really.

But Alec can tell.

His skin looks softer, more even, with less pallor and oily shine. It looks… smooth. Like how skin is supposed to look. And the blush just makes him seem… alive. A tiny hint of natural color right on the apples of his cheeks. It almost looks like the first hint of his actual blush, like he’s a tiny bit flustered or…

Happy.

It makes him look happy.

He looks… good. Better than usual, anyway.  

And it’s not enough that anyone should be able to notice. No one will be able to tell.

But still, staring in the bathroom mirror, knowing he’s at the Institute and not Magnus’s loft (where he knows for a fact that he’ll always be safe and accepted, no matter what he does), knowing that in a few minutes he’s going to be seen by so many people, Izzy, Jace… and that if anyone does notice, he doesn’t have any answers for them…

His heart is beating so fast he thinks he might actually pass out before he makes it to the door. He’s faced down a dozen demons by himself and still felt less terrified than he does right now.

It’s not a special day. No meetings, no missions, he’s not even going out on patrol. He and Isabelle are training together after breakfast, and later he’s leaving to have dinner with Magnus. That’s it. No one special is going to be here. Or see him.

It’s fine.

Everything’s fine.

He can do this.

For some reason, he’s expecting the entire Institute to be waiting for him right outside his bedroom door. Even though he knows how fucking irrational that is, it’s still… surprising to walk out into any empty hallway.

It's almost…

Since he was so worked up, so nervous, so worried about how it would be to have to face everyone, to have them know this about him, it's almost…

No. Fucking no. There's no fucking way that he's disappointed that there's no one here to see him. He's relieved. Obviously. Just relieved.

But that doesn't mean his heart stops racing. Or that it's any easier for him to take a decent breath. He knows he's a bit off. He can feel it. He's walking too quickly. Way too quickly to just be casually heading to the kitchen to get breakfast.

There's barely anything on his face. But somehow, the pressed-in powder feels thicker than foundation right now. He'd checked his face a dozen times, all morning, but all of a sudden he feels like he used the wrong color. Like he's walking around with bright green eyeshadow smeared all over his face. It feels so obvious.

And even if his face wasn’t making him stand out, his frantic pace certainly isn’t blending in with the comparatively calm atmosphere of the Institute before things really start up for the day. Whether it's his makeup or his traitorous body, something is making him look like a fucking idiot right now.

But, still…

No one notices him.

Hallway after hallway, no one pays him any attention. Everyone’s going about their own business. Like always. No one notices.

And there’s no reason why they should. He looks perfectly normal.

Everything’s fine.

He keeps breathing.

Because… this isn’t the point. He isn’t wearing makeup to give himself a fucking heart attack at the prospect of someone seeing it. He’s wearing it because… it makes him look better. It makes him feel better. So if it’s gonna make him feel like shit all day, he might as well give up and wash it off.

And it’s taken so long for him to get up the courage to do this much. Two months. He’s had his own makeup for two fucking months. It’s been almost three months since Isabelle first did his makeup for him. It’s been months. And it’s just a bit of powder. A bit of blush. Practically nothing.

He can fucking do this.

He plows ahead with determination and that particular brand of thinly-veiled panic that he can pretend is excitement if he focuses hard enough.

He focuses so hard that he doesn’t notice the kitchen door opening until he’s walked right into it, slamming both his toes and his funny bone, because that’s just his luck.

“Shit, sorry-!” Isabelle garbles out from around a ridiculously large bite of the apple in her hand. But when she notices that it’s Alec, the apologetic part of her demeanor drops away. It’s pretty insulting, really.

“Good morning to you too,” Alec grumbles as he rubs his elbow.

Isabelle just smiles at him and finishes chewing. “Good morning, Big Brother,” she says once she’s swallowed, though it’s a little too sweet to be sincere. “Apple?” She holds it out to him, and he sees that there’s basically nothing left of it, and it’s covered in splotches of her dark red lipstick. “It’s the last one.”

“I think I’m good.” He starts to move past her to get into the kitchen.

But she doesn’t get out of his way. She stays right in the doorway, right where he’s trying to go, propping the door open with her shoulder, just obtrusive enough to block him. She’s just… standing there. Holding her apple. Looking at him.

“Do you… need something?” He asks when the silence becomes a bit too awkward for him.

She raises her eyebrows, like she’s breaking out of a train of thought. “No,” she says lightly, scooching past him.

The door swings shut behind her, and Alec reaches out to grab it before it can slam too loudly.

“Alec?”

He turns to face her, making sure his face clearly shows how much of an inconvenience it is to be interrupted again. He’s hungry, dammit.

Isabelle’s standing a little too close to him. Closer than she needs to be. And she’s giving him a small, subdued smile. “You look nice.”

Alec’s stomach twists in a dozen different directions. Because that smile, and that tone of voice… She knows. She can tell (which, in retrospect, of course she can. This is Isabelle, not some makeup amateur). And she just…

Made it easy.

He looks nice.

That’s why he does this in the first place. Because he looks nice like this. He looks nice. Even if no one besides her notices, he still looks nice.

He doesn’t say ‘thanks.’ Even though that’s exactly what he thinks he should say. That’s exactly the type of thing he would say. But right now, it’s not right.

So instead, he smiles at her and says, “I know.”

 

 

Two weeks after he starts wearing makeup in the Institute, it’s a bit more of a routine.

Yeah, it’s still not much, but it’s definitely more. Enough to feel like a full ‘face’ of makeup. A complete look. He still only uses powders, not foundation. But it’s not just a blank coating of translucent dust like he’s been doing so far. He uses a few more things today. A few different shades, with a few different brushes. Instead of a handful of seconds, this takes him about ten minutes from start to finish.

He covers his face with a much smoother powder. One that’s actually meant to conceal, not just set. It makes his skin look even softer. For once, everything’s an even tone. But it makes his face look a little… blank. So he uses a bit of contour. Under his cheekbones. The edges of his forehead. His jaw. It’s still just powder, something subtle and light and that blends away to almost nothing. He does the same for highlight, dusting it on the bridge of his nose and his cheekbones and under his eyes. It doesn’t stand out. He still looks the same. Just a little softer. Like there’s a little bit of… glow around the edges. And the glow becomes even brighter when he adds a hint more blush than usual, following the shape of his cheekbone a bit further than he usually does.

When it’s all blended and set and finished, Alec takes a step back. Seeing what he’ll look like to everyone else-

Well, to an extent. He’s certainly not going to go wandering around the Institute wearing nothing but tiny blue panties, like he is now. That’s just for him. He likes wearing just his lingerie when he gets ready. When he’s shaving his face to make it soft, and then when he’s brushing it with powders to make it pretty. He likes getting to see the panties that he’s picked out for the day. Getting to block everything else out for a few minutes a day and just have this… just have what’s pretty. Nothing else.

But right now, it’s actually a little distracting. Because he’s trying something new today. He’s never worn this much makeup here. And it’s hard to accurately judge how people are going to see his face when his eyes keep getting drawn to the blue lace hugging his hips.

So he gets dressed, even though it’s disappointing to cover up something so pretty with ugly black jeans and a gray t-shirt (but that’s how it is every morning, so he’s used to it by now).

With a more accurate viewpoint, Alec looks back in the mirror.

Oh.

It really…

He looks-

He’s smiling. He knows that helps. Obviously he looks better when he’s happy than when he’s scowling at himself.

Still. He looks… he looks good.

Except…

With the subtle emphasis on his cheeks and jaw, his eyes are kinda… small. Normally when he does any sort of contour or highlight, he also uses eyeshadow, or liner, or something to make his eyes stand out. And without it, it’s like they’ve disappeared a bit.

Well, fuck.

He knows damn well he’s not going to walk around with winged eyeliner today. And he’s still not confident enough with his eyeshadow-related skills to try something like that. But without it, his eyes just look like they don’t exist. Not like they’re supposed to. And of course it’s his eyes, the one part of his face he really likes. Of course that’s the part that’s suddenly completely fucking invisible, with no options…

Wait. Maybe. Maybe there’s…

He digs around in his makeup kit, until he finds it.

Mascara.

Because his eyelashes are already dark. So it’s not like the color would be thrown off. They’d just look thicker. Longer. That’s not… that’s not automatically something unusual. No one would see him and know it’s mascara. Well, Isabelle would, but she’s going to notice everything about his face, so that’s not really relevant.

Just a little mascara. That’ll probably be fine. It’ll be fine.

It’s good stuff (which is understandable, since Magnus spent way too much on it). One quick swipe of the brush against his lashes makes them seem exponentially bigger. Alec doesn’t use much, just a solid coat on his upper lashes, and a little dab on the lower. And that’s…

Yeah.

That’s it.

It’s such a small change. But it makes all the difference. His eyes stand out again. Big, and bright, and… yeah. Pretty.

Alright. This is good. He looks good. He still doesn’t look overly ‘made up’, but it’s an improvement. It’s such an improvement on his bare face.

And somehow, it’s so much less nerve-wracking to go out into the Institute like this. Because that first barrier has already been breached. He’s worn makeup here before. And no one cared. No one called him out on it. The world didn’t end. And it’s surprisingly easy to convince himself that this is the same, even though he knows it’s so much more noticeable.

This time, instead of panicking, he just feels… good. He looks good. And it makes him feel good.

Yeah. It’s gonna be a good day.

He makes it less than a dozen steps out of his bedroom before the universe decides to punish him for his optimism.

Clary’s coming right for him. Though he can’t quite tell it's her right away, since she’s buried by a comically large stack of books. It’s ridiculous. Alec can barely see her face behind the pile, but the hair gives her away. Alec’s overheard that Isabelle is helping her study rare and obscure runes, so that explains what she’s doing here, but… fuck. Where’d she even find that many books? Isabelle’s room is pretty cluttered as it is, Alec’s not sure it can fit a small person and a small library.

Clary knows where she’s going and makes it to Isabelle’s door without having to glance past her books, so she doesn’t even notice Alec… which is a bit of a relief. Alec’s not quite ready for her brand of energy this early. He hasn’t even had any coffee yet.

So, of course, she starts fumbling for the door handle right as Alec walks by, and of course it’s just enough movement to compromise the structural integrity of her well-crafted tower of books.

And of fucking course Alec can’t just walk away and let her be smothered to death in a book avalanche, so he steps in and steadies the load in her arms right before it all collapses.

“Wh-!” Clary starts to make a startled noise, but cuts herself off when she realizes the disaster has been averted. “Thanks,” she says instead, shifting a little to get a better grip.

“Ah… sure,” Alec says lamely, since he can’t think of anything else to say.

“I know I should have just taken two trips,” she makes a sound that was probably supposed to be a casual laugh (but misses by a long shot) as she starts to crane her neck around the obstructive books, “but I-” She sees him. “Whoa! Alec!”

Alec freezes. She’s looking right at him. And her eyes are wide as saucers. Her mouth didn’t close all the way. It would be a comical look if it weren’t for the circumstances. She’s never noticed his makeup before, but this…

She notices this.

Alec squares his shoulders, sets his jaw, and prepares himself for the worst. “What?” He demands as defensively as possible.

Clary blinks a few times. Then, she closes her mouth. Her face… does something. “Nothing, it’s just…” It’s a little twitch around her mouth. Alec doesn’t know how to read her expressions yet, doesn’t know what it means. But the twitch happens again, and it’s… oh. It’s a smile. A little smile. “You look good. Like, really good.”

Alec sucks in a breath. Because…

Because it’s true. He does look good. He knows that. And now… someone else thinks so too. It’s…

“Yeah. I, uh…” He swallows. “Thanks, Clary.”

He opens Isabelle’s door for her, and walks out to face the rest of the Institute.

It’s going to be a good day.

 

 

Three months after he starts wearing makeup in the Institute, it’s the best part of his day.

“Did you ever get around to buying new primer?”

Alec chews on his lower lip, which makes his smile look weird in the mirror. “I’m… not going to answer that.” He reaches into his makeup kit and buries his primer under a particularly fluffy brush, just in case.

“Darling,” Magnus’s voice echoes from the speaker on Alec’s phone, which is resting on the lip of the sink next to him, “I know what that means.”

“It’s not my fault that I ran out of the expensive stuff! I can’t afford the same brands as you. I had to get something cheap.” His smile gets a little wider, which makes it difficult for him to accurately brush a nice line of contour under his cheekbone. “They actually sell pretty good makeup at the dollar store.”

“Alexander!”

“I’m kidding!” Alec says through little bubbling laughs. “I got good stuff.” He tilts his face in the mirror, making sure his cheeks are evenly blended. “I mean, not as good as yours. I’d have to sell a couple organs on the black market to be able to afford that.”

“Alec, I’ve offered multiple times-”

“I know, I know,” Alec rolls his eyes as he rummages through his case, “but you’ve already spent too much on makeup for me. Way too much. I need to get used to getting it for myself.”

Magnus sighs grandly, and it makes the speaker on Alec’s cheap phone crackle a bit. “Fine. I guess I’ll just have to wait for your birthday. Maybe I’ll buy you your own Sephora store.”

“Please don’t.” Alec’s not sure if Magnus actually has enough money to do that, but if he does, Alec can definitely imagine him going through with it.

Magnus laughs, and when it fades out, there’s silence. But Alec doesn’t mind.

Phone calls used to be absolutely horrible for him. He couldn’t bear the idea of silence (which sounds so horrifically loud on the phone, in a way it never does in real life), so he’d fill gaps with whatever he could think of, which, being him, was usually not very high-quality conversation. But this is different. Because he’s doing something. He’s doing his makeup. And on the other end of the line, he knows that Magnus is doing the same.

It started a while ago. Back when Magnus was still helping Alec get the hang of doing his makeup, they’d do it together in Magnus’s bathroom whenever Alec spent the morning there. So once Alec learned how to do it for himself, it just made sense for them to keep getting ready at the same time. So it seemed like a natural solution for the mornings when Alec wasn’t there. For Magnus to call him, for them to put their phones on speaker, and for them do their makeup together. It’s just how it is now.

And Alec loves it.

He’d already loved doing his makeup. Sitting in the little folding chair he keeps tucked away next to the shower, wearing nothing but pretty lingerie, and making himself look beautiful. For months now, it’s been his favorite part of the day.

And now, he gets to talk to Magnus while he does it.

Alec pulls out his favorite eyeshadow palette. He’s been wearing small, soft traces of eyeshadow for about a week now, but it still feels new enough to be exhilarating. Because it’s noticeable. Unlike his powders and blushes and highlights, this can’t be mistaken for the effects of a good night’s sleep. This is color, right on his eyelids. It’s unmistakable.

And it still gives Alec a little rush, right before he puts it on.

He looks at each little square of color, a range of neutral shades with just a little hint of shimmer. He glances back up at himself, widening his eyes a bit to get a better look. “Hey, Mags?”

“Hm?”

“What color eyeshadow should I use?”

Alec can hear the little sounds of things being shifted over the phone, like Magnus is putting back whatever he was just using and picking up something else. “Well, that depends on what you’re wearing.”

“Magnus,” Alec gives his phone an extremely unimpressed look in hopes that Magnus will somehow be able to sense it, “you’ve been dating me for nine months. I’m wearing a black t-shirt. You know I’m wearing a black t-shirt.”

Magnus giggles a bit, which is so stupidly adorable that Alec can’t keep himself from smiling. “I can dream that you’ll vary your wardrobe one day, can’t I?” He stops laughing, but his voice is still a little playful. “But I was referring to what you’re wearing right now. I somehow doubt that it’s a black t-shirt.”

Alec feels something, like a pang, right between his stomach and his chest. It’s like his insides don’t know what they’re supposed to do.

Which is ridiculous, really. Magnus has seen him in less than these panties (which cover significantly more than some of his other pairs). It doesn’t make any sense that Magnus just mentioning them should have any effect on him. Magnus can’t even fucking see him right now. He’s just guessing.

Though, maybe that’s what it is. The thought of Magnus guessing what he’s wearing. The thought of Magnus… imagining it. Imaging Alec in nothing but some little shred of lace and ribbon. It’s not like this is even a sexual context, but it’s still… it’s still enough to make Alec’s face heat up.

“I, ah… It’s- it’s the…” His tongue feels too thick, like it’s taking up more space in his mouth than it’s supposed to. “I’m… the, ah…” He glances down at himself, even though he damn well knows what panties he’s wearing. “The dark purple ones? Well, purple, with the darker purple-”

“Lace trim,” Magnus finishes for him, and he gives a low, satisfied hum. “I do love that pair. Your ass looks particularly spectacular in those, angel.”

Alec’s face is just about as red as he’s ever seen it, and his heart is beating much quicker than he’d like. “Magnus-”

“Hm, now that I think about it, I can’t remember them as well as I thought. Maybe I should portal myself over there to get a better look. To make sure I can give you an accurate opinion on your eyeshadow choice, of course.”

Alec laughs. “Magnus, you’re not that desperate-”

“Darling, of course I am, when you put images like that into my head. It’s been far too long since we last had sex.”

“We had sex yesterday, Mags.”

“I know, it’s been ages.”

Alec laughs again, loud and light and easy. “Well it sure doesn’t feel like it’s been ages for me. Not with how damn uncomfortable it is to sit on this chair.”

Magnus inhales loudly enough for Alec to hear it over the line. “That’s…” he starts, but he sounds almost… uncertain? “That’s certainly an… interesting thought.” He pauses, just long enough for Alec’s heart to start racing again. “I must admit, darling, the thought of you sitting in that meeting today, shifting in your chair, still feeling -” His voice cuts off, and he gives a quiet, deep moan. “That is quite appealing to imagine.”

Alec’s mouth dries up. Because, has he really never…? After these few months, has he never mentioned this before? How he can always feel it, the day after Magnus makes love to him, he can still feel the little sting when he sits down, the little physical reminder, just enough to make it impossible for him to not remember what happened. No matter what he’s doing, where his mind is, as soon as he sits down he has no choice but to think back to the night before. What it felt like. How good it was. And he… loves it.

Shit. He fucking loves it.

A physical stamp. A tangible imprint of the way Magnus had him, the way Magnus claimed him like that. Not letting Alec forget. All day, little reminders of how much Magnus wants him, without Magnus even having to do anything.

Has Alec really never told him any of this?

He doesn’t know what to say. All the words dried up with his mouth. And he’s helpless. He wants to say something, to let him know how good it is, how much he wants to move in his chair again just to make it sting a bit more. How much he loves it.

But he can’t. He can’t think of a single damn word.

Magnus clears his throat, and just like that, the moment’s over. “But I think you know the answer to your question.” He’s forcing himself to sound collected, Alec can tell, but he still sounds pleased. “There’s something so deliciously wonderful about matching your makeup to your lingerie. Getting to show off what color it is, without anyone having to know that’s what you’re doing.” He chuckles. “It adds another layer to the secret.”

Alec still can’t quite make his voice work. But that… yeah. That sounds nice. He glances back down at the eyeshadow palette he’s left open on the counter. “I…” he shakes his head, like that can actually clear his mind. “I have that… kinda smokey purple? It’s a little dark, but if I don’t use too much…”

Magnus gives another hum, this one calm and happy. “I think that would be absolutely beautiful.”

Alec feels his chest tighten. But he smiles as he picks up his brush. “Yeah, me too.”

 

 

Five months after he starts wearing makeup at the Institute, he barely thinks about it anymore.

It’s just part of his day. Yeah, it’s his favorite part of the day, but not in a thrilling, rebellious sort of way anymore. Now it’s a gentle, casual part of his routine. Shower, shave, panties, makeup. And every few weeks or so, he adds toenail polish. But that stays put pretty well, so he doesn’t have to do it very often.

It’s just how it is now. A full face of makeup. Colors and creams and a bit of shimmer if he’s in the mood for it. He doesn’t have to give it a second thought.

Yeah, it’s not a secret anymore. It’s not a little subtle hint here and there that can be passed off as anything else. He still wears less than Isabelle, or even Clary, but it’s very obviously makeup.

It had been so terrifying at first, the idea that anyone might see him and know what was on his face. But now, five months later, everyone knows.

And he just doesn’t give a fuck.

Because what can happen? If someone doesn’t like that he’s walking around with a cosmetic glow (and he knows there are people here who really do hate it), what are they gonna do? He’s the acting head of the Institute. Even if someone did say ‘hey, don’t wear that makeup anymore’, it doesn’t fucking mean anything. This is what he does, and no one can change that.

So it’s surprisingly easy to paint a thick black line onto his eyelids today.

He hasn’t used eyeliner here before. At first, he’d just assumed he wasn’t ready for that yet, since it’s so noticeable. More so than anything else he’s done. But after a few months, it wasn’t that anymore. He thinks he just… didn’t want to yet. Because he looked good without it. So it’d just be an extra hassle to do it. Extra time to put it on. Extra effort to wash it off.

But today, he wants it.

And it’s a simple as that.

It’s simple.

He wants to wear eyeliner. Pretty, smooth, dark eyeliner, with a little hint of a wing flaring at the corner. Nothing over the top. He knows it’s nothing compared to what Izzy or Magnus usually do. But for him, it’s nice. It looks nice.

And if anyone disagrees, they can go fuck themselves.

Not surprisingly, there are a few people who seem to disagree. But Alec manages to restrain himself from actually telling them to go fuck themselves, and he’s proud of himself for that. It’s not much, just a few disapproving glances. A few people who look at him a little too long for it to be casual.

And, by the Angel, Alec just can’t make himself care.

No one actually says anything about it until lunch.

He’s barely paying attention to what he’s eating. It’s a sandwich? He thinks it’s a sandwich. It’s something he can hold in one hand, so his other hand is free to use his phone, that’s all that matters. He’s going back and forth between checking mundane police reports for anything that looks suspiciously Shadow World related, and finishing a rather heated text conversation with Magnus about what they’re going to do for their quickly-approaching anniversary (because Alec is not going to let Magnus rent them a castle for the week, no matter how much he begs or how many crying emojis he uses).

He’s so absorbed in the two separate trains of thought that he doesn’t even notice Jace sit down across from him at the table.

“Hey.”

Alec looks up, a bite of sandwich still hanging out of his mouth. Jace is breathing hard, sweating around his forehead and neck, and literally still pulling his shirt down over his stomach. Either he’s just come from working out, or he and Clary really need to work on public decency.

“Hrmph,” Alec offers through his mouthful, figuring it’s enough of a greeting.

Jace is looking at him strangely. Eyes narrowed. Mouth twisted up.

Alec’s phone buzzes in his hand, and he decides to ignore whatever Jace is doing in favor of reading Magnus’s newest argument.

“Are you wearing eyeliner?”

Alec looks back up. And carefully swallows his food.

Jace has never said anything before. He’s noticed (at least, Alec thinks he must have, because it’s damn noticeable now. Then again, he’s not sure Jace knows enough about makeup to recognize anything less than bright blue lipstick), and he’s never said a word. No strange looks. No insinuations, no jokes - which is probably the most surprising part. Even though Alec knows he’s supportive, he usually has to make a sarcastic comment about everything.

But he hasn’t about this. He hasn’t said anything.

Until now.

Alec looks at him. Looks him right in the eye. Without blushing, or flinching, or shrinking back. “Yes.”

Jace’s eyebrows un-furrow, raising up toward his hairline. “Hm.” One of his shoulders moves, like the tiniest hint of a shrug. “Looks nice.”

And he reaches over and steals the other half of Alec’s sandwich.

 

 

Six months after he starts wearing makeup in the Institute, he’s forgotten that things weren’t always like this.

He’s just ended his call with Magnus (a process which is getting lengthier and more difficult as they both realize how stupid it is that Alec still lives here, lives anywhere else, anywhere that’s not with Magnus), he’s touched up the soft blue polish on his fingernails, and he’s just getting out his setting spray to finish his perfect face of makeup. And he really can’t remember a time when this wasn’t his life. When he didn’t look in his bathroom mirror with excitement, seeing his face as a canvas of possibility, watching himself become more and more beautiful, until he can’t wait to get out of his room and show it off. He doesn’t remember what it’s like to look at himself and only feel hatred.

He’s halfway done with spritzing his face when there’s a knock on his bedroom door.

Which… that doesn’t make sense.

It’s like, eight in the morning. The only person who could possibly be looking for him right now is Isabelle, and she doesn’t knock.

He checks the time on his phone. They have a mission briefing today, but it’s not for another ten minutes. He can’t be late enough for someone to be hunting him down.

“Who is it?” he calls, loud enough to make it through the bathroom and the bedroom.

“It’s me,” the small voice says, unhelpfully. “Oh, it’s ah, Clary.”

This makes even less sense.

By the time he opens the door, he can practically feel how accusatory his face must look. But he’s confused, and his immediate response to confusion is still to assume that something horrible is happening. “What do you need?”

Shit. That sounded meaner than he meant it too. He tries to make a vaguely apologetic face to make up for it.

But Clary doesn’t look offended. She looks…

Uh oh. She looks really, really unenthusiastic about whatever she’s here to tell him. She’s basically grimacing.

“Is everything okay?” Confusion is quickly turning into panic, and Alec immediately starts running through the last time he saw Izzy, Jace, Magnus, where everyone is right now, how each of them could have gotten hurt since he last spoke to them-

“No, everything’s… fine,” Clary says, but she still looks like there’s something disgustingly bitter in her mouth. “I just, um…” She outright frowns now, and she looks almost… guilty. “But Isabelle isn’t here and Jace is already in the briefing and I didn’t know who else would tell you so I thought I should give you a… heads up.” Her voice gets higher, and her face looks even more uncomfortable, until it’s like she’s unbearably sorry for what she’s about to say. “Um, Maryse just got here.”

Alec’s heart beats once, so loud that it’s like a quick, deafening thud in his ears.

Shit.

Fuck.

“Oh,” he forces out, and it sounds like a gurgle.

“She said she’s staying for a week. It’s just her. Your dad’s still in Idris.”

So they’re fighting again. Awesome. Perfect. Fucking excellent. Maryse’s marriage is falling into shitty little pieces so she decides to run away and deign to spend a few days with her children, without even giving them a hint of warning.

Fucking great.

Fuck.

It’s almost a little… comforting that Clary obviously knows how shitty this is. But still, it’s not her fault, and she clearly thinks that she’s going to get the brunt of his reaction. And that’s not fair. “Thanks for… yeah. Thanks for the warning.”

Clary tries to smile, but it looks so pained it’s almost comical. “There’s still a few minutes before the briefing starts. I’ll… see you there.” And she practically dashes out of the doorway, which is understandable.

He knows what she meant. That there’s a little bit of time. That he still has time to wash off his makeup before he sees Maryse. To take off his nail polish. To look like he used to, like he still does whenever he sees his parents. He can still do that.

He touches his face, gently trailing his fingertips across his perfectly contoured jawline.

He looked so pretty today.

He was so excited. He couldn’t wait for people to see how good he looks.

And now…

It’s so much. Shadows and highlights and smokey eyes and a touch of neutral lipstick and a little bit of shimmer all over and blue nails, with the little love rune that Magnus drew on his thumb.

There’s no way to pass it off. To hide it. It’s not something excusable anymore. Something he can pretend is just to cover his skin, or fix his complexion. It’s turned into so much more. Now, it’s artistic. It’s art. Right there on his face. Decorative and pretty and so obviously a luxury. Unnecessary.

And it looks good. It looks so good.

But Maryse is here.

Maryse is in the Institute, possibly right down the hall. So he doesn’t have a choice. He has to take it off.

He closes his bedroom door and walks back into the bathroom. Back to the mirror, to look at his work. He looks at himself one more time.

And he’s beautiful.

He’s never thought something like that about himself before. Not until he found this. And now because of it, he doesn’t even hate his bare face as much as he used to, either. It’s just that he only likes it when he gets to choose to leave it like that. When he washes his face at Magnus’s when he spends the night. When he’s in the shower with him. When he still feels beautiful, and loved, regardless of what he looks like.

This is different. Because someone is forcing him to do this. He looks so beautiful right now and he has no choice but to take it all away. Wash off his prettiness and leave himself with a plain, ugly, miserable face… because his mother is here.

His mother is here, so he has to make himself ugly again. He has to hate himself again.

It’s so…

By the Angel, it’s so fucked up Alec can’t even believe it.

It’s too fucked up. He can’t-

He can’t.

He won’t.

He won’t make himself ugly to make his mother comfortable. Why the fuck should he? Hate himself, hate himself, so he can make his mother happy?

No.

Fuck that.

He’s not gonna do it.

Because he looks good godfuckingdammit and if Maryse can’t appreciate that…

Well. Then that’s her goddamn problem, not his.

But however pretty he looks, however good he feels about himself, however much he knows that he’s right about this, he still can’t catch his goddamn breath as he leaves his room. His heart has never beat this hard, or raced this fast. He’s never felt more terrified. Because of his own goddamn mother. Every hallway is a threat, every step is just bringing him one step closer to-

Maryse.

She’s walking a different way than him. Her back is turned to him. She can’t see him. And she won’t. She’ll keep walking her way to wherever she’s going, and she won’t even see Alec. He’ll turn a different way, go to the mission briefing, and this won’t have to happen yet. He can ignore it for a few more hours. Ignore her. Pretend she’s not here.

But then he’ll just be terrified through the whole meeting, knowing this is still going to happen. There’s no point in putting it off. Ripping off a bandaid. Just… rip it.

“Mother,” he says, just loudly enough to get her attention.

She glances over her shoulder, and stops when she sees Alec. She’s smiling, a little. But she can’t really see him yet, while he’s still walking over to her. He keeps getting closer, and one of these steps is going to be the one that lets her see. See how he looks. See this thing that’s become so important to him now.

The moment is obvious. He can see the change in her eyes.

It’s surprise, at first. She’s startled. Her eyebrows knit together, and her lips tighten. It’s like she doesn’t quite understand what she’s seeing.

And then… she laughs.

An uncomfortable laugh, like it’s a joke, and she knows this is the punchline, but she doesn’t get it yet.

She sees his face, and she laughs.

And Alec thinks, bizarrely, of Camille. Of what Magnus has told him about their relationship. About how he had told her that he loved her, that he really, honestly loved her. And she’d laughed at him. Magnus told her something so important and true and necessary to him, and she’d laughed. Right in his face. Alec has never been able to comprehend how something like that could have felt.

But now, he thinks he gets it.

“Alec,” Maryse says as her only form of greeting. “I take it… Isabelle had a little too much fun this morning?”

That… well. After laughing at him, Alec supposes that’s far from the worst response he could have gotten. But still, it stings. She doesn’t understand the situation, but it still feels like an insult. “No. I did this myself.” His heart is still pounding in his ears, but he forces his voice to keep steady.

Maryse still looks confused. She must not have any explanations for this that would satisfy her. No way to brush this off and not have to think about it. But he can see her try. “I… I’m not sure I understand,” she says quietly.

Which is a pretty big deal for her. Admitting she doesn’t know something. Surprisingly, it gives Alec a bit more confidence. “I wear makeup now, Mother. I wear it every day.”

She’s quiet for several moments. Her face is changing, folding in on itself somehow. Shrinking. She’s ramping up to something, that’s clear. But it takes such a long time for her to speak again. And when she does, her voice is dangerously quiet. “I knew that warlock would cause problems for you.”

It’s like a punch in the gut. Alec’s winded by it. He can’t get his breath back. “Mother-”

“I didn’t know it would be…” she waves vaguely at Alec’s face, “this, but I knew all this time fooling around with him would give you ideas.”

“Mom-”

“Honestly, Alec, it’s one thing to make a fool of yourself when you’re with your warlock, but this isn’t a joke. There are members of the Clave here and you’re embarrassing yourself and this family just because that warlock-”

“Mother!” Alec snaps, loud and sharp and harsh enough to stun her into silence. “His name is Magnus.” He takes a step in to her. “He’s not my warlock, he’s my boyfriend. And I’m not fooling around with him, I’m in love with him. And this makeup wasn’t his idea. It was mine. I am capable of making decisions on my own. But even though it wasn’t his idea, when I told him that wearing it makes me feel good, he supported me. Because he loves me, and he wants me to feel good about myself. Not that that’s something you’d understand.”

He has to stop to catch his breath. His nerves are all firing too much at him. He’s feeling too much. His heart is still racing, but it’s not with fear anymore. And he doesn’t take his eyes off of Maryse.

She’s looking at him, eyes wide, lips pressed together so tightly, like she’s barely keeping in whatever she’s going to shout at him as soon as she breaks.

But Alec’s not interested, so he speaks before she can start. “I look good, Mother. I’m not going to pretend I’m sorry for that.” He squares his shoulders. “Now if you’ll excuse me, this conversation has made me late for a mission briefing.”

And he walks away.

He walks away from her. And even though his heart is racing and he has to squeeze his hands into fists to keep them from shaking, he holds his head high.

It’s exhilaration, and horror, and disbelief. All mixed into one jumble and pouring through him too quickly to really feel any of it. It’s overwhelming. After a few steps, he can even feel the beginnings of tears gathering in his eyes.

But he’s not going to let himself cry. After all, that would smudge his eyeliner. And he’s not going to let anything damage his perfect makeup. He looks too good.

He’s not going to let anything ruin that.

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec knocks.

And somehow, it’s a strange feeling.

Which makes no fucking sense. Seriously. He’s only been to Magnus’s loft a handful of times. Maybe even less. How many is a handful? He’s been here three or four times, he’s pretty sure he could fit a few more visits in his hand.

Magnus is expecting him. Alec had texted him and asked if he could come over, because there’s no way in hell that Alec can just… show up here. Or anywhere, really. But especially not here. He needed to ask if it was alright, to give Magnus a heads up, and a chance to say no.

But Magnus had said it was fine. Even more than that, he’d sounded a little… excited. Alec doesn’t want to read into it…

But he supposes it makes sense. Because things are- yeah. They’re different now. It makes sense that Magnus would want to see him. It’s a good thing that Magnus wants to see him.

Still, that doesn’t keep Alec’s heart from speeding up to dangerous levels when the door to Magnus’s loft swings open.

He was expecting Magnus to be there, to have actually physically opened the door, but the doorway is empty. Alec takes a moment to be surprised, then schools his expression and walks in. He’s not sure if the door is going to close behind him, so he sort of… half-reaches for the knob-

And it closes with a dull thud. Alec quickly pulls back his hand, tugging awkwardly at the hem of his shirt to try and justify the movement.

“Be right out,” Magnus’s voice echoes from… somewhere. Alec thinks it’s coming from the bedroom? And even though Magnus had said he could come over right away, Alec feels a pang of worry that he’d interrupted something. That his visit is any sort of inconvenience. He knows there have to be better things for Magnus to be doing right now, and he wishes Magnus would have just told him that instead of-

Something hits his feet.

He looks down, reflexes kicking in and poising his body for a fight.

Oh.

“Hi, Chairman. Remember me?” Alec asks as the small cat tries to gnaw at the toe of his boot. He’s got one paw on each of Alec’s shoes, claws out but unable to find purchase in the hard leather. It’s cute, but Alec doesn’t really want him to get any ideas and start clawing at his jeans, so he tries to gently nudge him away with his other foot.

But Chairman Meow takes this as a challenge, and quickly pounces from one boot to the other, making a sound that must be the tiny cat version of a battle cry.

Shit, it’s cute enough that Alec has to laugh. He cautiously leans down, holding out his hand, hoping he’s not condemning himself to a fistful of tiny scratches.

The Chairman tenses, immediately distracted by Alec’s hand. But he stops, and sniffs his fingers delicately. And after a moment of deliberation, he headbutts Alec’s knuckles, ducking down so Alec’s hand will be in the perfect position to pet him.

But as soon as Alec actually starts to stroke his hand along the cat’s spine, he hisses and darts away, disappearing behind the sofa.

“Hey!” Alec says quietly, because he didn’t deserve that. “Come back here.” He follows him to the sofa, which is currently placed a few feet in front of the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, turned so it faces out to the rest of the loft.

Chairman Meow is pressed right up to the back of the couch, staying low to the floor, ready to pounce. Alec takes a step closer, but the cat doesn’t move. “Alright.” He slowly crouches down, trying his best not to startle the Chairman into running off again. And when that seems to work, he carefully sits down, leaning against the back of the couch and stretching his legs out toward the windows. He keeps one hand held out toward the cat, not quite sure how else to make himself seem non-threatening, and not quite ready to throw away all his dignity and talk any more to this small animal than he already has.

To his delight, the Chairman only takes a few moments to hesitantly nose around Alec’s fingers again before he makes up his mind and calmly steps right up onto Alec’s lap. He steps a few different ways, getting his paws in a few different arrangements, before snuggling down in a little curled-up cat ball, his fluffy tail twitching lightly against Alec’s stomach.

Alec waits a moment to make sure he’s settled, then carefully starts petting the Chairman in a smooth line from head to tail. At first, the cat tenses with a small, unhappy noise… but after a pause, he starts purring, and settles further into Alec’s lap.

It’s nice. He’s a stupidly cute little cat.

“Well, now I see where your affections truly lie.”

Alec just barely manages to keep himself from flinching. How did Magnus sneak up on him like that? He’s a Shadowhunter, dammit. His reflexes shouldn’t completely fail him just because of a cat.

“Hey, he sat down on me, that’s not my fault,” Alec defends before glancing up at Magnus-

Oh.

Magnus is standing next to the couch, not quite behind it. And he’s…

Alec’s never seen him like this.

He’s wearing… this can’t be right. He’s wearing jeans, dark and incredibly expensive looking, but still jeans. And a… t-shirt. A black t-shirt.

Alec blinks a few times. Trying to make the glamour, or the hallucination, or whatever this is go away. Because…

Even Alec isn’t wearing a black t-shirt right now. He’s wearing a denim button-up. And there’s no way… there’s no fucking way that Magnus Bane is dressed more casually than him. That’s… that’s fucking impossible.

He’s not even wearing any jewelry, except that… twisty… earring thing that he always has. There’s probably a word for it, but Alec doesn’t know it. That’s the only jewelry Alec can see. He’s not even wearing any rings. No rings. This doesn’t make any sense. It looks like he’s still wearing makeup, but significantly less of it than usual, from what Alec can tell. There’s just a hint of color on his eyes, no thick lines or dark corners or glitter. His hair is… up, in that way it usually is, all swoopy and fancy, so that’s something. But apart from that-

He’s so… huh. The first word Alec’s mind gives him is ‘plain’, but that’s not right. Alec is plain. That’s a word for him, not Magnus. Like this, Magnus doesn’t look plain, he looks…

Simpler. Less… grand, less ornamental. But no less beautiful. Alec’s not sure he’ll ever be able to get used to how beautiful Magnus is. He’s never seen a man as unapologetically beautiful as Magnus before.

Even like this. In unremarkable clothes and no jewelry and makeup that Alec is realizing is only half-finished (and he feels a sinking feeling of dread that he interrupted Magnus while he was getting ready for the day… but then it twists into a feeling of something else, something he can’t quite place, because Alec's seeing Magnus when he's not ready yet, and how many people does Magnus let see him like this?). Alec had thought once that Magnus’s intense beauty was inextricably tied to his wardrobe, because it’s something Alec’s never seen before. Seeing a man in makeup and glitter and things that are so unbearably pretty. Alec had been certain that that’s what kept drawing his eye to Magnus, over and over again.

But apparently, that theory is bullshit.

Because Magnus doesn’t have any of that now. And he’s still so beautiful that Alec can’t catch his fucking breath.

Alec has to say something. The need is so strong it’s like he’s being choked by it. Something simple, nothing over the top. ‘You look nice.’ That’s all it has to be. Just something to let him know.

“Y-you… th- st’s… s’nice.”

Alec closes his eyes, and breathes out slowly through his nose.

Can he please burst into flames now? Maybe that would at least distract Magnus enough to forget what just vomited out of his stupid mouth.

Magnus chuckles. Softly. Gently. Alec opens his eyes and risks a glance up at him. He’s smiling. His head’s tilted a little to one side. The look he’s giving Alec is sort of, really… fond.

It’s… nice.

“I take it you’re here to tell me that you never had any interest in me, and you actually want to date my cat.” Magnus’s smile twists into a smirk, and he leans a little against the couch.

Alec opens his mouth.

And closes it again.

And looks down at himself.

He suddenly realizes that he asked Magnus Bane if he could come over to his apartment with hardly any notice… and then he’d immediately sat down on the floor behind his couch and curled up with his cat.

It’s… yep. It’s definitely the least dignified and most embarrassing situation he’s ever been in. And he’s the one who put himself here.

Awesome.

“N-no,” Alec starts, desperately trying to remember any of the numerous scripts he’d practiced in his mind before coming over here. He’s been getting ready for this conversation for days now.

So of course, the second he gets here, he forgets every damn word.

“It’s, um. It’s about… I wanted to- it’s about our… date.”

Magnus’s face changes somehow, but Alec’s not quite sure what it means. “Really? I know I get my days confused now and then, but I have my calendar quite clearly marked for this Friday.” He leans a little harder on the sofa and crosses his arms. “Unless you’re so eager that you want to move it up to tonight?”

Alec fumbles out a quick laugh despite himself. “No. I mean, I am… it’s not-” He sighs. “I wanted to talk to you. About it. Before.”

Magnus keeps smiling, but something fades from his eyes. He’s still ‘smiling’, but it’s not genuine anymore. It’s… cautious. Uncertain. It’s a strange look for him. “So… I take it I shouldn’t offer you a drink?”

Alec tries to smile, but fails miserably. “No. I’m fine… Thanks.”

He expects Magnus to go over to the minibar anyway, or possibly to just… poof a glass of scotch into his hand. But he doesn’t. Instead, he-

He steps behind the couch. And sits down. Right on the floor. Right next to Alec.

The High Warlock of Brooklyn, barefoot, in jeans and a t-shirt, sitting on the floor behind his couch. Just because Alec wants to talk to him.

It’s…

Alec doesn’t know what to do with it.

“What’s on your mind, Alexander?”

Huh. When’s the last time someone asked him that?

Alec blinks hard, trying to clear his head. To remember what he’s rehearsed so much the past few days.

“Th- it, wh…”

Good start.

“Its, um… what we… we got interrupted, we never really finished talking-” He swallows. “What, what Camille…”

Magnus breathes in, a little hard. “Yes. That.”

Alec looks down at Chairman Meow, who’s still dozing peacefully in his lap. So he doesn’t have to look at Magnus. He can’t look at Magnus.

There are a dozen different ways he’s thought of to ease himself into this conversation. There’s no good starting point, but he’s thought of plenty of options to make it slightly less horrible. So it won’t be too awkward-

“I don’t want to end up being someone you regret.”

Well, fuck. A dozen good ways to bring it up, and he says that instead.

He can hear Magnus breathe in, like he’s about to start talking. And Alec can’t let that happen. He needs to make himself clear first. He doesn’t want Magnus to respond to that.

“Wh-what I meant is… is that… I don’t want to- to start something, if it’s gonna end up… hurting you. Later.” His fingers start pressing a little too hard on Chairman Meow’s head, and he has to pull his hand away entirely to keep himself from smothering him. His heart his pounding so loud in his ears that he’s probably shouting at Magnus just so he can hear himself over it. It feels like he’s shouting. It feels like this is the loudest and stupidest he’s ever sounded. “And if, if that is something that’s… a problem… I figured it’d be best to deal with it. Now. Instead of later. I thought this would be the easiest time to… change your mind.”

He exhales whatever breath is left in his lungs. It comes out shaking. It’s taking all of his self-control to keep his whole damn body from shaking too. He’s so tense, it’s like the slightest movement might make him shatter into a pile of useless nerves. He can’t breathe.

And Magnus… isn’t saying anything. Second after second, he just doesn’t respond. Magnus has always had an answer for everything. This can’t be good.

After what’s probably no more than a few seconds but feels like several hours, Magnus clears his throat. “I think it’s a little early in life to be troubled by your mortality, Alexander.”

That’s… not what Alec was expecting. It’s not one of the various answers he’d prepared himself for Magnus to give. So he doesn’t know what to do with it. “But that’s-” His mouth works for a few moments, but no words form. “That’s the point. Because if you… Now’s the best time to…” he doesn’t know how to finish.

Well, he does, but he’s not sure he can make himself say ‘If you’re going to dump me, I’d like you to do it now, before I can get too hopeful.’

But he thinks Mangus must know what he means, because after a small pause, he says, “I’ve dated mortals before, you know.” The words could sound harsh, or arrogant, but Magnus says them gently. Truthfully.

For some reason, that’s what makes Alec finally look over at him. “Do you regret it? Being with any of them?”

Magnus raises an eyebrow and smiles playfully. “Of course. Some of them were horrific mistakes.” His smile softens. “But not because of their mortality.”

It seems like a good moment to laugh, like Magnus meant for him to laugh, but he can’t relax enough to let himself do that. “It’s just…” he can’t figure out the right way to articulate what he’s feeling. “I don’t want- don’t want you to have to…” He moves his hand, a vague gesture that he’d hoped would clarify things, but doesn’t do anything and ends up being a useless wave.

“Alexander,” Magnus says kindly, “I feel I should point out that I’ve asked you for a date, not a lifetime commitment. Not to be pessimistic, but I don’t see much use in getting ahead of ourselves.”

Alec looks away. Looks at his own feet.

It’s true. It’s true, and polite, and not an insult at all. But for some reason, Alec feels a cold pang of disappointment.

He wants to fight Magnus’s words somehow… but he can’t. He’s right. This isn’t the epic romance that Alec’s embarrassed to realize he’s been seeing it as. Magnus is right. This isn’t…

It’s a date. Magnus and Alec are two people who’ve talked a bit, shared a couple drinks, and kissed once.

And Alec’s sitting here worrying about his inevitable death.

When he thinks of it like this, it’s ridiculous. Definitely premature, and maybe a little… naive? Does Mangus think he’s naive for already thinking this far ahead? Is it stupid for him to think that things might… that they might…

“Oh. Yeah, that’s… yeah.” It’s all he can make himself say.

And it must sound just as pathetic as it feels, because Magnus shifts a bit closer to him, like he’s trying to get Alec to look at him again. “I just mean that in most of the relationships I’ve had with mortals, things ended before that could even become an issue.”

The word ‘most’ sticks in Alec’s mind, but it doesn’t feel like the right time to ask about it. “So you don’t-” He feels his jaw tighten, and it’s like he has to force it open to keep talking through how fucking tense he is. “You don’t think it’s a problem?” He doesn’t want it to sound needy, like he’s fishing for Magnus to assure him that he does want to go on this date, that he really likes Alec, or anything like that. But he’s afraid that’s exactly how it comes off.

Magnus takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly. “Hypothetically, it could be.” He takes another audible breath. “So, let’s talk hypothetically.”

Alec looks at him again. He makes sure his confusion is plain on his face so he doesn’t have to clarify it with words.

“Let’s say that things work out,” Magnus begins, so calm and collected and coherent that Alec can’t help but be outrageously jealous. “Let’s say that we go on this date, and then another, and another, and then a lifetime goes by like that.” He leans his head against the back of the couch, face tilted so he can keep looking at Alec. “What problems would it cause?”

Alec’s stomach twists uncomfortably. He doesn’t want to just… say it. Magnus is looking at him, gaze so steady it’s almost unbearable. Alec looks out the window instead, wondering why the fuck he thought he could handle a conversation like this.

“Alexander, there’s no point in talking about something if we can’t actually talk about it.”

Shit. It’s a fair point. And Alec is the one who brought it up in the first place. If he can’t fucking say it, he might as well go home, because skirting around this won’t accomplish anything.

But that doesn’t mean he can bring himself to see Magnus’s face while he says it, so he keeps his eyes firmly locked on the pigeon perched on the windowsill outside. He tries to remember to breathe. “I’ll get old. And I’ll die. And you won’t.”

“Is that what bothers you?” Magnus asks, voice so gentle, so obviously trying to understand. “That you’d age while I stayed young?”

“What? No.” Alec glances at him, eyebrows tightly knit. Yeah, Magnus is being polite about all this, but Alec can’t help but be a little offended. This isn’t about Alec’s pride, or vanity. Alec doesn’t have any vanity. Most days he can barely manage to scrape together any pride. “No, it’s…” He knows what Magnus said is wrong, but he doesn’t know what he could say that’s right. “It’s that…” His hand starts moving again, grasping at nothing, tensing and relaxing over and over. He feels like he’s floating out in the middle of nowhere. All of his prepared ideas seem so far away. “Isn’t it- isn’t it what everyone wants? To… to get to grow old together. And… die. Together. Isn’t that… what people hope for?”

Magnus makes a small, considering noise. “I suppose it is.”

Alec feels a spark of validation at the agreement, no matter how small it might be in the grand scheme of the conversation. “And we couldn’t. It’d be impossible.”

Magnus is quiet for a few moments. It’s not very long, Alec knows that. But the silence feels almost unbearably loud between them. The only sound in the loft is Chairman Meow’s soft purring, which is fading in and out as he drifts through light moments of sleep.

Finally, Magnus looks back at Alec. “How many shadowhunter couples do you know who’ve grown old together?” It’s a harsh question, it’s an awful question, but he asks it as kindly as possible. “How many shadowhunters do you know who’ve grown old at all?”

It’s like all the air has been sucked out of the room.

But not because it’s an unfamiliar concept. Alec’s always been strikingly aware of the dangers of his profession. His whole life, he’s known the risks, seen the danger, and… yeah. He’s seen loss. Plenty of it. More than he’d like to think about right now. And…

And it’s a valid point. He sort of can’t believe he hadn’t considered it until now. Because he’s never been particularly optimistic about his own longevity. It’s just not the example that’s been set for him. Alec doesn’t think any Shadowhunters picture themselves really making it to old age. Not realistically. Nephilim are perpetually young. They get married young, they start families young… and they die young. He’s always known this. He doesn’t have any choice but to know this.

But for some reason, as soon as he started thinking about Magnus, about the prospect of being with someone immortal, he’d started thinking of his own life as expansive. His prospective life-span gained about fifty years as soon as he imagined Magnus being there to witness it. But really… that doesn’t make any sense. It’s like he became optimistic about his own life just so he could become pessimistic about spending it with Magnus.

It’s… dumb. It’s really dumb.

Shadowhunters don’t grow old together. They just don’t. He thinks about Lydia, about how young she is, how horribly young she is, and she’s already lost the love of her life. He thinks about how little time they’d had. How she says it was worth it. How certain she is that it was worth it. And Alec wonders if she’d ever let herself hope, beyond all reason, that she and John would have spent long lives together. That they’d die peacefully, of old age, together.

Somehow… he doubts it. Lydia’s too much of a realist for that. She must have known how small that chance was.

And now, it’s gone.

That’s just how it is for them. Alec wonders if… maybe- huh. Maybe that’s partially why he’s been thinking about this as so much more than it really is. Because while Magnus is right that it’s premature to think of one date as the automatic beginning of a lifetime, to some extent… that’s just what Shadowhunters do. They make bonds like this quickly. They have to. Alec’s never thought of it like that before. And… fuck. Fuck. What a fucked-up way to look at life.

Alec realizes he still hasn’t answered Magnus’s question. But he thinks it was probably rhetorical anyway, so instead, he asks his own question. “But doesn’t that… I mean- Shit. Knowing that about Shadowhunters, doesn’t that just make it worse?”

Magnus smiles, but it’s small, and sad. “Of course it does. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I’ve avoided getting too attached to any nephilim in the first place.”

And, well, Alec can’t quite resist tugging on that thread. “One of the reasons?”

“I know this may shock you, Alec,” Magnus says with sarcasm that’s just barely short of bitter, “but not many nephilim have wanted to associate with someone like me. Unless it was for the right price.” And he gives Alec a wry, teasing smile. And a dry chuckle.

Like it’s a joke.

Alec’s seen him do the exact same thing before. He’ll say something horrible, something true about his life that’s absolutely awful, and he’ll laugh. He’ll play it off as a joke.

And like every time before, part of Alec wants to just reach out and… shake him. Shake it out of him. Make him stop doing that. Stop treating the shitty things that have happened to him like they don’t matter, like he’s supposed to brush them off and not admit how much they suck. Like he’s not allowed to be hurt by anything. Alec barely knows Mangus - especially considering the hundreds of years of experiences Magnus has had - but even still, he knows that some fucking awful things have happened to him. And every time Magnus has mentioned one of those things, he’s smiled. Or laughed.

Like now. He’s literally saying that people just like Alec have been treating him like dirt for centuries. Like he’s less than a person. Like he’s some sort of monster. Even - Alec takes a deep breath to steady himself - even his own parents have treated Magnus so terribly it’s unbelievable-

But that’s not the point. Yeah, Alec wants to tell Magnus that he doesn’t need to joke about his pain… but he damn well knows that’s not his place to say something like that. Definitely not now. Possibly not ever.

He shakes his head again, trying to sort out his thoughts and get back on track. But after several moments of stressful silence, he realizes with a combination of dread and embarrassment, “We haven’t really… gotten anywhere.”

Magnus gives a quiet little laugh, and Alec actually feels himself smile over at him.

Which- fuck. Which is a damn nice bit of relief from the tension that’s been eating at him for days now.

“It is a rather complicated topic, Alexander.”

Alec nods. And he doesn’t know what to say next. There were so many things he’d prepared, but the conversation has already strayed so far from what he’d anticipated that he doesn’t know how to bring any of that up anymore.

Thankfully, mercifully, Magnus only lets a few seconds pass in silence. “I may not be able to really understand mortal relationships, but I’ve seen plenty of them. More than I can say. Over the centuries, they haven’t really changed much. It’s always the same. Everyone goes into it hoping to die peacefully in their sleep on their hundredth birthday, with their love right by their side, like you said.” He sighs, and Alec can see out of the corner of his eye that he’s fiddling aimlessly with his fingers.

“But in the countless relationships I’ve seen, I can tell you that it almost never happens like that. No matter how much people hope, they still die. And leave people behind.” He looks over at Alec. “No matter how much we like to think that we’re special, in this case, we really aren’t.” He gives Alec that same sad smile. “If we stayed together, one of us would die, and leave the other behind. And in that sense, we’re just like every other couple on earth.” One of his eyebrows quirks upward. “We just happen to have a more educated guess as to which one it will be.”

Alec looks at him.

And breathes.

It’s all he can do. He literally can’t remember how to do anything else. He just holds Magnus’s steady gaze, and sucks in breath after breath.

Because once again, Magnus is… right. Well, Alec doesn’t really think there’s a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer in a situation like this, but everything Magnus is saying is making perfect sense, which is certainly more than Alec can say about himself.

But still, Magnus hasn’t really answered-

“Okay, so we’re not special,” Alec says, and looks away when Magnus chuckles at the bitterness in his voice. “That still doesn’t…” He closes his mouth for a moment, trying to get the words sorted into the right order. “Just because everyone else has this problem too doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem anymore. You’d still have to-”

He bites his lower lip to cut himself off. He’s not sure he’s ready to say something like this yet.

Chairman Meow stirs in his lap, uncurling from his little ball and stretching his front legs (claws getting stuck in Alec’s jeans in the process) before nestling into a different position. Alec pets him as a distraction, trying to do anything to loosen his tightly-wound mental filter.

“You’d still lose me eventually.” It feels strange to say it. It leaves an odd taste in his mouth. Because it’s… it’s almost sort of vain of him. Assuming that he’ll be so important to Magnus. That Magnus will care about him so much that Alec's death would be particularly painful. Painful enough that Alec is suggesting it might be better for him to not get involved in the first place. It feels unbelievably arrogant. But he can’t think of a less self-important way of talking about it, so he figures he might as well lean into it. “You’d still have to deal with my death someday. Are you alright with that?”

Magnus makes an admonishing sound. “I think the word ‘alright’ is far too flippant to be applied to something like death, Alexander. No one is ever ‘alright’ with losing someone they care about.”

Well, great. Now Alec feels like a dick for phrasing it like that. “Th-that’s not what I meant. I meant-”

“I know,” Magnus interrupts gently. “You’re asking if I think it’s worth risking that much pain, or if I’d rather call it off right now so I can’t regret it when that pain arrives.”

Alec looks at him. Because… yeah. This is it. This is the thing that’s been eating away his mind for the past few days. The reason he can’t fall asleep. The reason every feeling of excitement and fondness he’s had for Magnus since their kiss has been tainted with tension and a growing feeling of dread. “And?” He prompts, because he doesn’t trust his voice to hold for more than that one word.

Magnus presses his lips together, like he’s thinking. Which Alec doesn’t really think is a good sign, because surely he must have thought about this before, right? He can’t be just considering this for the first time.

But then, Magnus smiles. Just a little. “The way I see it, if this does turn out to be something… real, then the only thing I’d regret is wasting any of the time we have together worrying about things that are out of our control.” He tilts his head, and his smile finally reaches his eyes. “Any moment we spend wondering if this is worth the risk is a moment that could have been better spent together. As far as I’m concerned, if our time is limited, I’d like to enjoy it as much as possible.”

Alec's lips are parted. But he doesn’t have anything to say. He doesn’t know what he can say to something like that.

Because, once again…

Magnus is making a lot of sense.

What’s seemed so daunting and impossible the past few days suddenly feels… small. Alec distantly imagines himself looking back on this as a vague memory. And he imagines just how pissed he’d be at himself if he had to look back on a perfectly good week that he could have spent giddy with anticipation over their first date, but had spent absolutely miserable with worry instead.

He should be focused on that. On excitement. Excitement for his first date. His first date ever, yeah, but more importantly, his first date with Magnus. On Friday. Just two days away.

It’s like the vice of stress has been released from his rib cage, and now all he feels is… butterflies.

“Though, of course, there’s still something very important that we haven’t discussed yet.” Magnus’s voice is suddenly serious, more so than it’s been the entire conversation.

Which is enough to instantly murder all the butterflies in Alec’s chest. “What?”

“What do you think? About all of this?”

“I-”

Alec closes his mouth.

Because that’s not…

That’s not the point.

“That’s… It’s not important.” Alec feels his face constrict, eyebrows furrowing and lips getting tighter. “I’m not the one… who’d have to-” His throat works like he’s speaking, but no sound comes out for a few seconds. “You’re the one who would have to lose me. And you’ve already… I don’t want you to have to lose anyone else.”

Magnus inhales sharply. “That’s…” His face starts to do something, but he seems to stop it quickly, and his expression stays neutral. “That’s very… sweet of you, Alexander. It really is.” He smiles. In that… way. The same way he’d smiled when Alec asked him out. Small, and gentle, but so unbearably sincere. “But you’re as much a part of this as I am. Your opinion is just as important as mine. So. What do you think?”

A million thoughts flood Alec all at once. How excited he is about their date. How hopeful he is that this will work. How Magnus makes him feel so valued, and important, in a way he’s never felt before. How he wants to tell Magnus everything because Magnus listens to him. How beautiful Magnus is, always, but particularly right now, when he smiles like that. How Alec’s barely gone thirty seconds without thinking about their kiss since the moment it happened. How he can still feel it on his lips when he concentrates. How much he wants to kiss him again. How Magnus makes him happy and excited and hopeful, and Alec can’t remember the last time he felt any of those things, much less all of them at once.

So he opens his mouth, ready to let all of this spill out of him.

“I like you.”

Oh.

Well, it’s hardly what he was expecting. But he supposes it’s a decent summary. Still, he was hoping he might be a touch more eloquent.

But Magnus…

Magnus lights up. His eyes sparkle. His smile spreads. He looks… thrilled. In a quiet sort of way. “That’s certainly a relief. Because I like you too.”

Alec flushes. His heart speeds up, but in an uneven flip-flop instead of a steady beat. It’s a little harder to breathe. And the butterflies are back.

Because no one’s ever… said something like that to him. Even though Magnus has made his intentions pretty damn obvious after all this time, this is still the first time he’s… admitted it like that. Straightforward and unambiguous and so, so certain.

He likes Alec.

And Alec likes him.

And on Friday, they’re going on a date.

And this… Alec thinks this might just work after all.

Alec’s aware that he’s gawking a little, but he can’t make himself stop. His face is still too hot. His heart is still racing. And they’re just looking at each other. Second after second. It’s a moment between them that just keeps stretching, and it never gets any less thrilling.

Finally, Magnus breaks the silence. “You know,” his smile twists into a smirk, “when you mentioned Camille, I was worried for a moment that you were going to bring up that horrifically non-consensual kiss.”

Alec chokes. He thinks it was supposed to be a laugh, but it definitely just sounded like choking. “No,” he says as firmly as he can while his nerves are all spasming at once. “No, I know that was… um… that didn’t- it, it was-” He knows what he wants to say, but just thinking it makes his already-burning face heat up even more, until it’s so hot that his cheeks are absolutely aching. He’s probably never been this red in his life. But he wants to say this, so he swallows, and forces himself to hold Magnus’s gaze. “I… know you didn’t want that. ‘Cause I… uh, I know what it looks like when you do want someone to kiss you. And that wasn’t it.”

It feels bold. And flirtatious. And neither of those words describe how Alec usually is around Magnus. And for some reason, once he gets the words out, his heart just beats harder.

But Magnus grins at him, open-mouthed and maybe a little stunned. “Well… You’re certainly not wrong.” His eyes flicker, like there’s a little flash of light behind them. He looks playful, and confident, and so at ease that it makes Alec feel more comfortable just by looking at him. “It’s hardly my fault that people keep kissing me while I’m just standing there, minding my own business.”

Alec laughs at that, really laughs, and it feels so good. Magnus doesn’t laugh, but he looks… pleased. Like he’s glad he made Alec laugh. It’s…

It doesn’t make sense.

And Alec-

Alec gets an idea.

He’s not sure it’ll work, and knowing him, he’ll probably just end up embarrassing himself horribly, but…

“Someone should, ah…” Alec's tongue darts out against his lower lip. “Someone should really let you initiate a kiss sometime.”

It sounded a lot better in his head. Flirtier and smoother and more intentional. He’s not sure if it even made any sense the way he said it-

Magnus’s smile fades. Which cannot be a good sign.

Shit. Shit shit shit. Dammit. How can he fix this? Dammit. Fuck.

Magnus doesn’t move. Or say anything. Or do anything at all. Except… after a few seconds, his eyes flick down.

To Alec’s lips.

Oh.

Magnus shifts. It’s barely anything, but in the intense stillness it feels unbelievably noticeable. He scoots the tiniest bit on the floor, still sitting against the back of the couch, but now he’s…

He’s closer to Alec.

They were close to begin with, just a couple inches of hardwood floor between them. But now it’s almost nothing. There must be less than a centimeter between their stretched-out legs. Alec can feel the heat of Magnus’s body seep through his jeans.

“Yes,” Magnus says, and it’s basically just a whisper, because they’re close enough that Alec can still hear it, “I think that’d be quite nice.”

Oh.

Magnus is smiling again. That little smile. And he slowly, carefully brings up one of his hands. He brushes the backs of his fingers against Alec’s jaw (which inexplicably makes liquid heat pool in Alec’s gut), then gently cradles Alec’s burning cheek against his palm.

It’s so… tender. Alec thinks he might cry, or float out of his skin, or something, something more than just sit here and feel this much. How can one person handle feeling so much?

And Magnus starts moving in toward him. Bringing his face closer to Alec’s.

It’s too much.

They didn’t have this last time. Then, Alec didn’t even have time to realize that he’d worked up the courage to kiss Magnus until he was already doing it. It was sudden, and intense, and so necessary. But that meant there wasn’t this sort of… buildup. Anticipation. He didn’t get to watch Magnus’s lips get closer and closer to his, to feel Magnus’s breath against his face before anything else. He sees Magnus’s lips part, and that’s it, he has to close his eyes, he can’t see any more. His heart is still racing and his lungs are aching for the breaths he can’t take and there’s something in his chest that feels just about ready to explode-

Magnus’s lips touch his.

And everything settles.

His heart stops racing. His face isn’t burning anymore. The fire in his chest cools into a soft warmth. For the first time in days, his mind shuts up. Everything slows, and calms down, and it’s just…

It’s just a kiss. A soft, tender, achingly sweet kiss.

Magnus’s hand slowly trails a little further up Alec’s cheek, until his fingers can brush through the hair behind his ear. But apart from that, it’s stationary. Alec can feel the slick skin on the inside of Magnus’s lip against his. He can feel Magnus slowly breathe out his nose, feel it warm against his face.

Alec can’t remember the last time he felt this… nice. Calm and happy and just good-

Magnus breaks the kiss, pulling back just far enough to separate their lips.

Alec waits breathlessly for him to come back in, to change the angle and kiss him again, maybe deeper this time-

Magnus pulls back further. Far enough that Alec knows he isn’t going to move in again.

No, no no no please not yet.

Without opening his eyes, Alec follows him. Chases after his lips, tries to get another kiss, to make sure Magnus understands how much he wants this. Understands that Alec could have spent all day like this. Fuck his responsibilities. Fuck the Institute. Fuck the meeting that he’s already going to be late for. Fuck it all, he just wants to kiss Magnus-

He moves far enough to wake up Chairman Meow.

Alec had completely forgotten that the cat was still sleeping in his lap. But moving toward Magnus shifts him far enough to be reminded quite vividly, by four sets of claws digging through his jeans and right into his thighs.

“Fuck!” Alec’s eyes snap open and he frantically tries to nudge the Chairman away from him without making him claw harder. It takes a few moments of struggling before the Chairman gives a dramatically long hiss and basically sprints away from Alec, disappearing around the couch and running off into the loft.

It’s like waking up from a dream. Or whiplash. Alec can’t quite figure out where he is, or what’s happening.

But Magnus is laughing. “I always knew that cat would end up being a menace.”

Alec’s brain scrambles to supply a line that would be sufficient to get Magnus to kiss him again, something that could bring back the moment.

It’s too late. Magnus is already getting to his feet, with a grace that just isn’t fair. He holds out a hand to help Alec up…

And Alec’s sure he’s just imagining the spark of heat he feels when their hands touch.

“Now, I’m assuming a busy man like you has things to attend to today? An Institute to run, or something like that?” Magnus teases with a warm smile.

At first, Alec is too focused on standing to be able to respond. Because his legs aren’t working right. His knees are tingling, like they’re gonna give out. He writes it off as the result of having a cat sleep on his lap for so long (though the Chairman barely weighs anything).

“Um,” he begins, and rolls his eyes at his own lack of eloquence. “Yeah. I… there’s a meeting. I should probably…”

Magnus is already walking toward the door. And Alec’s following him, without even thinking about it. Alec just automatically followed him when he started moving. Gravitating toward him. Wanting to stay in his space.

Magnus opens the door for him, but doesn’t step aside to let him out right away. “I hope this… helped. With what you were worrying about.”

And he looks so sincere. He means it, he really means it. It's almost like he’s nervous about what Alec will say.

Alec gives him the biggest smile he can manage, though it’s pitifully small considering everything he’s feeling. “Yeah. I… It… It helped.”

“I’m glad.” Magnus says… with that smile again. That little smile.

It’s too much. Before Alec can think any better of it, he ducks down and presses his lips to Magnus’s cheek. Lightly. Enough to feel like a sufficient goodbye. “So I’ll… um. I’ll see you Friday?” The butterflies are back, swarming in his chest.

Magnus is grinning at him. Warm and open and excited. “I can hardly wait.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“This is dumb.”

Magnus makes several condescending ‘tsk’ noises with his tongue. “Alexander, that’s not a very good attitude, now is it?”

Alec plasters on a glaringly fake smile. “This is dumb!” he repeats, but much more energetically.

Magnus bats lightly at Alec’s shoulder with the back of his hand, giving him an extremely unimpressed look. “Unfortunately, your opinion is irrelevant at the moment.”

He waves his hand in a blur of elegant and intricate circles, and all of the furniture in the loft instantly scoots back to the walls. A blue glow gathers in Magnus’s palm, which he aims at the stereo system he’s just backed up against the windows. The stereo vanishes, and with a briefly blinding flash of sparks, it’s replaced by an old record player. A very old record player. Alec has no idea how music players have progressed over time, but he thinks this thing has to be at least fifty years old. Maybe a hundred?

The sunlight pouring in through the windows catches on a little fleck of something metallic on the corner of the record player. Alec doesn’t have to get a closer look to know what it is. Magnus’s initials, or possibly his full name, engraved in gold. Because Magnus loves putting his name on things. Alec had asked him about it once, and he’d said that it’s a sort of… time-related bragging right. Magnus likes finding things that he assumes he can keep for a while, so he can still have it and use it, years and decades and centuries later. And he likes knowing and acknowledging that those thing have always been his. Like it’s… proof. Proof that he didn’t find his pocket watch at an antique store last week, proof that he’s had it since 1726. Alec’s noticed it on most of the older stuff Magnus still keeps, but it’s also on some new things (even though Magnus has admitted how unlikely it is that his cell phone will still be functional in five years, much less five hundred). Alec thinks it must be kind of fun, in a way. Getting new possessions and trying to guess which ones will last, which ones will become priceless antiques - even though he knows Magnus would never sell anything once he’s put his name on it.

Alec wonders if Magnus had been particularly optimistic about this record player staying with him all this time, or if he’s surprised that it still works. Alec can’t imagine singling out any modern object and saying ‘this’ll still be good in the year 3050’. He wonders if it was easier to think that in 19-something, whenever Magnus bought this.

Alec’s pulled out of his thoughts by another spark of blue, which fills the loft with the sound of static. It crackles and groans for a few moments before gradually smoothing out…

Jazz. Slow, bluesy jazz starts playing. An easy and almost… relaxing sort of sound. Every now and then, that static will crinkle the music again, but for the most part, the sound is so clear and loud that Alec has to wonder if this is really the record player, or if Magnus is giving it some help. He glances over at him to see if there’s any sign of magic-

Magnus is looking at him. Seriously. Expectantly.

Shit.

“Mags, really, I don’t want-”

“This isn’t about what you want, Alexander. This is a necessity.”

Alec rolls his eyes. “Come on. That’s a bit of an exaggeration.”

Magnus moves in toward him, giving minuscule shakes of his head. “Luke and Jocelyn’s wedding is in three days. I’ve let you put this off long enough. We’re running out of time.” Alec tries to take a step back, but Magnus grabs his arm and holds him in place. “This is happening, no matter what. You can fight all you want, but that’ll just make it more difficult. If you cooperate it’ll be over before you know it.”

“By the Angel, do you realize how fucked up that sounds? ‘Don’t struggle, just let it happen’?”

“Yes, and if I were talking about something else, it’d be extremely problematic of me.” Magnus takes Alec’s left hand in his right and lifts it up, holding it at shoulder-height next to them. “But I’m not. I’m talking about dancing.” He takes Alec’s other hand and maneuvers it so it’s resting high on Magnus’s back. “So lie back, and think of Idris.” He smiles, and it’s infuriatingly playful.

Alec grits his teeth. He glances over to their joined hands, feels where his hand is splayed on Magnus’s back, and where Magnus’s hand is resting in the same place on Alec’s back. Dammit, they’re just standing in a dance-y position, and he already feels stupid. He puts on his most disagreeable face. “I don’t consent to this. I’m gonna look like an idiot.”

And Magnus just laughs at him. Quiet, but still rude, goddammit. “Alec, it’s hardly my fault that you don’t know this basic human skill. And we’re doing this right now precisely so you won’t look like an idiot at the wedding.”

Alec opens his mouth to snap out whatever comeback he thinks of first-

But Magnus stops him before he can start. “Alright. First thing’s first: The Waltz.”

Alec raises an eyebrow and glances over to the record player, which is still playing jazz. “This is waltz music?”

“Ooooh,” Magnus coos sarcastically, “You’re suddenly an expert, are you?”

Alec wants to protest, but… fuck. It’s a fair point.

Magnus gives him a wry smile. “I like it. And it’s got the right beat, which is all that matters.” He says it with a sort of finality that lets Alec know that the stalling is over, and this is really going to happen.

At first, it’s every bit as horrible as Alec has been dreading. Magnus tugs Alec where he needs to go, nudges which foot is supposed to move at what time, and tries to make things as clear as possible. And it’s clunky and awful and Alec feels like Godzilla crushing skyscrapers under his feet as he makes these random, harsh steps that feel less like ‘dancing’ than anything he's ever done.

But Magnus is nothing if not persistent, and he just keeps guiding Alec through it, counting out the unbearably slow beat and…

Huh.

After the explanations are done, and Alec can look down and actually see the way his feet are supposed to be moving it’s… yeah. It’s actually pretty… simple. Because it’s just a pattern. A certain way he’s supposed to be stepping, in a certain order. It’s repetitive. It’s literally just a box, a three-step box. He just has to follow that pattern. And that’s…

That’s something he can pick up instantly. Make his body move a certain way, in a certain pattern? Yeah, that’s something he’s been doing his entire fucking life. It’s like fighting, in a weird way.

That being said, he doesn’t feel any less ridiculous. Because even if he masters the concept of what he’s supposed to be doing, and even if it only takes him a minute or two to be completely certain in his steps…

He still feels like Godzilla.

He’s just a goddamn giant, with long, thick limbs and no poise to speak of. And it certainly doesn’t help that he’s dancing with Magnus, the most graceful person Alec’s ever met. Even tethered to a giant robot like Alec, Magnus seems completely at ease, and his steps actually look like dancing even though he’s doing the exact same thing that Alec is making look like a military march.

It’s not… right. Alec feels so goddamn stupid and looks so goddamn stupid and the idea of looking this stupid with Magnus just feels wrong because he knows he’s making Magnus look stupid too and that thought is unbearable-

“Maybe I just won’t dance at the wedding,” Alec says in a rushed jumble, as soon as he remembers how to make his mouth work.

Magnus doesn’t even pause his fluid movements. “Nonsense. There are going to be several important downworlders there. What are they going to think if they find out I’ve been dating a shadowhunter for five whole months and haven’t even been able to teach him any manners?” He’s smiling down at their feet. “Though I suppose I don’t know many nephilim traditions. Do you even dance at weddings, or do you all go into the reception hall and just… fight each other?”

Alec rolls his eyes. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to a wedding.”

Magnus chokes on a laugh that he clearly tried to smother, but it snorts out through his nose anyway.

And Alec immediately turns bright red. “That does not count.” He looks up at Magnus… and sees him trying to contain more giggles. “Fine! I’ve never been to a wedding that actually made it to the reception.”

Magnus gets himself under control, but he’s still smiling by the time he looks up. “I have to ask, how exactly were you planning on surviving your first dance as a married man?”

Alec didn’t think he could blush any harder, but apparently he was wrong. He’s squeezing Magnus’s hand too hard. His stomach feels like it’s made of lead. “Obviously I didn’t think that far ahead. Believe it or not, there were more important things to deal with at the time.” He looks back down at their feet, watching himself make the same stiff, mechanical square over and over again. “Besides, Lydia knows what she’s doing. I’m sure she could have dragged me through it.”

“Mm, you’re such a romantic,” Magnus says, and it’s teasing, but it’s also… kinda fond. It makes Alec’s stomach twist with something that isn’t embarrassment.

But the moment passes quickly, because the song on the record player circles back to the chorus, and it makes Magnus perk up a bit. “Alright, I think you’re ready for full speed.”

Alec didn’t realize there were speed options in waltzing, but he supposes they are moving horrifically slowly.

Magnus counts them in, gives Alec a gentle shove to start things off-

And suddenly they’re stepping twice as fast, and Magnus’s gently muttered ‘one… two… three… one… two… three…’ becomes ‘ one -two-three, one- two-three’ and Alec feels a brief flicker of panic that he’s going to trip over his own feet and send them both to the floor…

But he doesn’t. Actually, it’s… easier like this. He’d already had the steps down, so speeding them up doesn’t throw him off, it just makes things… smoother. It’s not a slow, clunky march anymore. It’s a light, fluid sweep of movement. Alec has to keep all his weight on the balls of his feet to keep up, and that means he doesn’t feel like he’s stomping like he had been when it was so slow. He suddenly understands why Magnus insisted that they do this barefoot, instead of letting Alec wear his heavy boots.

Once he’s sure he’s stable in the new rhythm, he glances up at Magnus.

And Magnus is smiling at him. In a way that’s somehow both pleased with Alec, and pleased with himself. It’s equally proud and smug. Only Magnus Bane could pull off a look like this. “See? Not so horrible, is it?”

Alec wants to roll his eyes, or sigh, or say something snarky… But it’s hard to be bitter when Magnus is looking at him with this much enjoyment. “It’s…” He pulls his lower lip between his teeth for a moment. “It’s not completely horrible.”

Magnus takes a breath like he’s going to respond, but the song ends before he can speak. Brass and piano fill the loft in a drawn-out, triumphant finish. And there’s a few seconds of that static sound again before the next song starts up.

This one has a pretty similar tempo, so Magnus only gives Alec a moment to hear it before starting their dance again. It’s still the same fast, smooth pattern. And this time, Magnus starts moving them a bit, gradually staggering their steps so their stagnant little box starts to spin. It makes the strictly square shape skew until it’s basically gone, but to Alec’s surprise, it’s still easy to keep up with the steps. And now, it just feels even more fluid. Because they’re not planted in one place. They’re swooping across the floor, spinning through the loft with light little steps.

Yeah. This is dancing. Alec can… Alec can understand why someone would want to do this.

Unlike the last song - which was just a band - this one gets through about half a minute of orchestration, and then a woman starts singing. She’s got a rich voice, sort of… smokey? Can a voice be smokey? Does that make sense? Alec thinks it sounds smokey.

About halfway through the first verse, the tune starts nagging at the back of his mind. Like he knows it. Or like he’s… supposed to know it. It feels vaguely like one of those famous songs that Alec knows most people know (if not from actual musical knowledge, then at least from hearing it in a commercial for fancy jewelry or something). Magnus is humming along to it, looking down at their feet even though he doesn’t need to. By the time it gets to the chorus, Alec has to ask, “Who’s singing?”

Magnus’s face twitches, like he wasn’t expecting that question. He keeps his eyes locked on their feet, and he slowly starts to smile. But it looks wistful, and almost sad. “An old friend.”

Oh.

Alec’s heard that tone before. And seen that sad smile. He knows what it means.

Usually, the smile doesn’t last long. Usually Magnus covers it with a sincere grin, and goes into a bit more detail. Tells Alec who the person is, when he knew them, something about their history. But now… he’s not saying anything. He just keeps that sad smile aimed at their feet. After a moment, he starts humming along to the song again.

Alec’s never seen this happen before. Magnus didn’t even tell him her name. That’s… This isn’t what Alec is used to. He wonders if it means something.

Not knowing what else to do, but desperate to do something, he squeezes Magnus’s hand. Gently.

Magnus finally looks up at him again. Alec does his best to give him a comforting smile… And Magnus smiles right back at him.

They keep dancing. Alec hadn’t even realized that they were still going, that his feet were still cooperating without him having to think about it. But they’re still twirling around the loft, easy and graceful.

Huh. Graceful.

That’s… new. For him.

Magnus is still humming along with the singer, and the… whatever this mood is, it hasn’t quite lifted.

So Alec tries changing the subject. It’s not really his strong suit, but it’s worth a shot. “I, um. I’ve never really pictured you knowing how to waltz.” It feels a little forced, a bit awkward, but it’s at least the truth. “It’s so… formal. I know you dance, but I always thought it was just that… club dancing stuff. Whatever it’s called. Is there a name for that?”

Something must have worked, because Magnus gives him a teasing smirk. “Yes, it’s called ‘club dancing’.”

Alec rolls his eyes, and intentionally fucks up the pattern of his steps just to throw Magnus off.

But of course Magnus recovers their rhythm beautifully, without faltering at all, laughing as he does it. He pauses the waltz suddenly, and holds up their joined hands. He tugs at Alec’s arm a few times until he gets the idea-

“No, Mags.”

Magnus just tugs harder.

Alec gives the most exasperated sigh he can possibly manage, and begrudgingly lets Magnus twirl him around under his raised arm. He’s forced to duck a ridiculous amount to compensate for their height difference, which gets rid of whatever shred of dignity he’d had left.

When he’s spun all the way around and is facing Magnus again, he firmly lowers their joined hands back to regular dance height, making it clear that that’s not going to happen again.

Magnus pouts dramatically, but starts up the dance again without any fuss. “You have to remember, Alexander, that when I attended my first major social event, waltzing was the hot new dance. It was still considered scandalous in some places.”

Alec lets out a surprised laugh. His instinct is that Magnus must be joking, because… he’s never thought of waltzing being ‘new’. It’s a ridiculous thought. Someone going to a party and saying ‘Hey guys check out this new dance I just made up’ and waltzing. Yeah, he knows that it obviously didn’t just come into existence, but it’s bizarre to think that Magnus may have been alive before the goddamn waltz was invented.

“You’re… you’re really old,” Alec says with a laugh. He has no fucking clue when waltzing first showed up, but he knows it sure as hell wasn’t recent.

Magnus sighs. “You sure know how to flatter a guy.”

That just makes Alec laugh harder. But it’s difficult to dance like that, so he tries to rein himself in. “People really thought waltzing was scandalous?” He’s not sure if that’s something he believes, or if it’s another one of those lies Magnus tells just to fuck with people’s suspension of disbelief. This could be ‘I invented the saxophone’ all over again.

But Magnus looks perfectly sincere. “Of course they did. An excuse to stand so close to someone, to press right against them and dance without any distance whatsoever? And right in public, at respectable events?” He shakes his head, and there’s a playful sparkle in his eyes. “People were absolutely outraged, darling. Waltzing was downright sinful.”

Alec flushes under the heat of Magnus’s gaze. And he realizes that - while there’s still a good few inches of space between them - they are standing very close. Holding hands. Touching each other’s backs (and Alec knows that with a woman, it’d be her waist), looking into each other’s eyes without ever having to look away, spinning dizzily through the room…

And, yeah. Okay. He can understand how this could be… something. Having a perfectly acceptable excuse to take someone and do this with them for hours on end…

Alec swallows. Because he can easily picture himself meeting Magnus at some lavish ball, dancing with him for a while… and letting Magnus drag him away to do whatever he wanted with him. Alec wonders just how many people Magnus has reduced to putty with one well-executed waltz.

Hell, Magnus might be the reason people started thinking waltzing was scandalous in the first place. It was probably a perfectly innocent dance until he started doing it.

The song slows to an end, and Alec feels completely disoriented. They’ve been keeping up a good pace for several minutes now, so he’s starting to get a little winded. And now, his mouth is a little dry. And his heart is beating a little faster than it should. And his knees are a little weak.

And Magnus is just smirking at him.

Which is not fair.

The next song starts up, a little livelier, with a bit of swing. It’s the same woman singing, but this time Magnus looks pleased by the sound of her voice.

However, Alec tries to process the one- two-three beat of waltzing in the rhythm of this new song and it… doesn’t work. It doesn’t fit.

But Magnus isn’t fazed by it. He just pulls Alec a little closer, lets his hand slip a little further down Alec’s back, and starts moving with the music. It isn’t steps, it isn’t any sort of structured dance, it’s just swaying with the beat. Magnus moves his weight from one foot to the other, and occasionally takes a real step so he can slowly spin them around.

Alec’s body is terribly confused at first, after the strict form of waltzing. But once he manages to relax, it’s… nice. Easy. Casual and comfortable.

“You look surprised,” Magnus comments after almost a minute of quiet dancing.

Alec doesn’t want to admit that he never thought he’d be able to feel this graceful, this comfortable with something so elegant, so instead he says “Well, yeah. Catarina told me you’re a shitty dancer. I’m surprised that she’s wrong for once.”

Magnus huffs out a laugh, like he’s equally amused and outraged. “Catarina hasn’t seen me dance since the nineteenth century. She has no right to judge.” He gives Alec a secretive smile. “She hasn’t even seen me tap.”

Alec perks up instantly, bright and eager. “You tap dance?”

“When you’ve been around four hundred years, you need to find a hobby or two.” Magnus intensifies their swaying a bit, spinning them in faster circles. “When that craze took off I knew I absolutely had to master it.” He smirks. “And it had absolutely nothing to do with a particular fondness for Gene Kelly…”

Alec knows who that is only because of the extensive collection of his movies that Magnus keeps displayed next to the tv. But hearing Magnus say it in that particular tone, he starts to wonder just how far that 'fondness' extended…

Magnus reads Alec’s face, and rolls his eyes. “If only, darling. If only,” he sighs.

And it’s probably not the appropriate reaction, but Alec laughs. Surprisingly hard. And he doesn’t really know why. Maybe because it’s funny to think that at some point in history, Magnus Bane wanted to bang someone and didn’t get to bang them. It’s funny to know that even Magnus doesn’t always get what he wants.

Magnus must not agree, because in retaliation, he forces Alec into another ridiculous twirl. But it feels significantly less undignified with the livelier music, so Alec doesn’t actually mind when Magnus immediately twirls him the other way.

“Well,” Magnus says with a great deal of dignity as he spins Alec away from him before tugging back in close, “it didn’t stop me from learning all of his most impressive dances. Including the one on roller skates.”

Alec just laughs harder, because that’s definitely something he has to see.

The music’s picked up speed over the course of the song, and by now it’s fast and a little chaotic and intensely jazzy. Magnus gets a little over-ambitious and gradually starts trying to guide Alec through various intricate spinny moves that Alec thinks are probably considered swing dancing? Whatever it is, it’s far beyond his skill level, and all he can do is helplessly flail along as Magnus pushes and pulls and nudges and tugs him all across the loft. But however graceless and awkward it feels, it’s also pretty…

Fun.

Alec stumbles his way through twirls and spins that he doesn’t understand at all, letting himself be guided but never actually knowing what he’s supposed to be doing. And it’s fun. It’s stupidly fun.

Magnus sometimes tries to guide him a little better, telling him “left arm up” or “twist the other way”, but for the most part he just does whatever the fuck he wants and lets Alec bumble along after him, getting caught in tangled-up arms and tripping over his own feet. But judging by Magnus’s wide grin, he doesn’t mind having such a hapless dance partner. And it doesn’t take long for Alec to start laughing so hard that he can barely breathe, so he guesses he can’t complain either.

This song finishes suddenly, leaving Alec struggling to keep his balance as the music cuts out, but Magnus anticipates it well enough to steady him. The next song is slow, even slower than their first half-timed waltz. The woman starts singing again, and it sounds like it’s going to be a sweet, crooning love song.

They’re already standing pretty close, but Magnus gently pulls Alec in until they’re completely pressed together. Apparently, there’s not much formal dancing to be done to music like this, because Magnus just sways, so subtly that it’s almost imperceptible. Their feet don’t really move, they just shuffle a bit against the floor with the slow, steady beat.

After a few moments, Magnus tucks his face in the crook of Alec’s neck. It’s enough to make Alec’s heart race (in a way that has nothing to do with the vigorous exercise of their last dance). Their stance has relaxed, so they’re holding their still-joined hands close to their bodies, elbows brushing every time they move. Alec’s other hand is still on the small of Magnus’s back, but Magnus’s has slipped down to Alec’s waist. And he’s slowly starting to slip it under the hem of Alec’s t-shirt. Alec has actually worked up a thin sheen of sweat over the past twenty minutes or so, but Magnus obviously doesn’t care.

And his hand is so warm against Alec’s side, soft and gentle, and even though it’s barely anything, Alec still hears a little whimper get stuck in his throat. Because the mood has shifted so goddamn quickly. Two seconds ago he was careening through the living room, laughing his ass off, and now…

All he can feel is Magnus’s steady breath on his neck. And the warmth of Magnus’s hands, both the one on his waist and the one that’s in Alec’s loose grip. And his own heart, still pounding away furiously even though they’re practically standing still.

This doesn’t really feel like ‘dancing’ at all. It’s just a… slightly shifting hug. Yeah, it’s just a hug. A really, really nice hug.

Alec tilts his head a bit, nuzzling his cheek against Magnus’s temple. And he feels a little spark of something when Magnus’s response is to hum happily, and squeeze his hand. It’s tender and warm and Alec’s breath hitches in his throat because it suddenly feels like his heart’s gonna give out on him.

It’s only been a few days. Less than a week. Since Alec finally told Magnus that he loves him. And Magnus said the same. Just thinking about it is still enough to make Alec’s stomach twist and flutter, like the nerves he’d felt right before he said it, but so much nicer.

Having said it - and continuing to say it, probably more frequently than is strictly necessary - hasn’t really changed anything. Alec wasn’t really expecting that it would, but it’s still a relief to know that Alec didn’t accidentally fuck up the entire dynamic of their relationship by being the first one to say it. Except…

Alec’s probably imagining it. But it almost feels like Magnus is more… affectionate now. Not that he wasn’t plenty affectionate with Alec before - because smothering Alec with constant affection is kind of Magnus’s thing - but it feels a little… different now. It’s more open, in a way. He doubts that Magnus had been really holding back before they’d said ‘love’, but now it’s like… he doesn’t need to hold back. It’s like everything runs a little deeper. Every touch seems more intentional. He’s added ‘my love’ to his list of Alec’s pet names. Even his silly displays of affection (like when he’ll hold Alec down first thing in the morning and peck every damn inch of his face with kisses before he’ll let him get out of bed, or when he’ll take his eyeliner and doodle hearts on Alec’s arm while they’re doing their makeup) feel like they have more meaning now.

It’s like Magnus was afraid of showing Alec too much, of making his feelings too obvious, before they’d said it. And now it’s just… an onslaught. Alec can barely believe he’d worried that Magnus might not love him back, because in the past few days he’s been doing a damn good job of making it perfectly clear. Even the sex is-

Alec blushes at his own goddamn train of thought. And his arm instinctively tightens his hold on Magnus.

Sex is… different now. Not in a bad way. Hell, in the furthest thing possible from a bad way. But Alec had no way of anticipating how it would change. Of course he didn’t. He couldn’t have guessed how indescribable it feels to have Magnus whisper “I love you, angel” into his ear, right as he starts to come. To not have to worry about accidentally saying “I love you” instead of “I love your mouth” when Magnus is swallowing around his cock… getting to openly say “I love you” and feeling Magnus moan around him because of it…

Fuck.

Alec needs to think about something else.

Because these images, combined with how close they’re pressed together, and how nice it feels to have Magnus hum quietly against his neck, and how much Alec loves him, and how he knows that Magnus loves him too…

The sunlight suddenly feels too hot on his skin. It’s like he’s burning up. Because Alec just loves him so much and he can’t keep this much love stuck in his chest, he has to let some of it out, has to show Magnus, to make him understand, and he wants him so much, he wants him right now, he wants Magnus inside him, he wants Magnus to make love to him-

Oh. Huh. This again.

That still hasn’t… happened yet. Alec thinks they must have done literally everything else imaginable by now, but they still haven’t done that. Alec had been so sure, for such a long time, that it was just because he didn’t want to yet. But now they’ve been together for five months and Alec’s spent the last one more or less desperate for Magnus to make love to him. It had started as a nagging desire whenever they had sex, but then it started spreading into completely non-sexual moments, and by now he’s perpetually a heartbeat away from getting on his knees and begging for it.

But he still hasn’t asked.

And by this point, he has no fucking clue why. He just… hasn’t. It’s like he forgets about it whenever they’re having sex and then it’s like ‘whoops we’re already finished oh well’ and he just doesn’t fucking understand why he can’t fucking ask his fucking boyfriend to fuck him.

Magnus snuggles a little closer to him, and- shit. He presses his mouth to Alec’s neck, lips parted just enough to feel the tiniest bit wet.

Maybe…

Maybe now?

He thinks he could do it now. Say it. Say ‘I want you to make love to me.’ It’s simple. Easy. And he wants it so bad he can’t stand it.

He takes a breath.

The song ends. And Magnus slowly pulls away from him.

Alec’s throat closes up.

Magnus smiles at him. And pulls a little further back, like he might actually take a step away. “Well, I think you’ll be perfectly capable of surviving the wedding reception now,” he says, so much more casually than Alec had thought was possible in this situation. “Should we call it a day? Finally put you out of your misery, since dancing is so awful?” And there’s a little hint of playfulness in his smile, like maybe, maybe he knows what’s going through Alec’s brain.

Well, damn. Alec hopes he’s just offering because the song is over, and not because Alec is getting noticeably hard in his jeans.

It’s the perfect opportunity.  A slow, romantic dance. An afternoon ahead of them with nothing else to do. Sunlight streaming in through the windows. It’s downright idyllic.

But…

Alec can’t do it.

He can’t even try to get the words out. He knows it’s not gonna happen.

But it’s not because he doesn’t want to ask. He does. He knows he does. It’s because… this moment is almost… too nice. He doesn’t want to break it, even for something like that. The fun, and the intimacy. He wants to do whatever he can to keep it going. Just like this.

Soon. He thinks it’ll be soon. But not right now.

Right now, they’re dancing.

“Actually, I… uh.” Alec has to swallow his pride, but it’s easier than he expected. “I wouldn’t mind… learning another dance?”

Magnus’s eyebrows shoot up. He looks momentarily stunned. Alec almost thinks he’s gonna say no, just because of how fucking surprised he looks.

But another song starts up, loud and brassy.

And Magnus smiles. With a dark flicker of mischief in his eyes. He pulls Alec in close again, but gets their arms in a more formal position, their joined hands stretched straight out to the side.

“Alright. The Tango.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec’s just about ready to strangle something.

He glances down at the washcloth balled up in his hand.

Good enough.

He holds it over the sink and squeezes as hard as he fucking can, twisting his hands and wringing out the excess water until his arms ache. It doesn’t really feel like strangling something, but it’s still a little satisfying to throw it into the sink with a harsh, wet plop that’s almost deafening in the quiet loft.

His hands are still twitching, still tensing and flexing with the need to release some of this frustration before he fucking explodes. Godfuckingdammit, why doesn’t Magnus have a goddamn punching bag?

Probably because that would be helpful to Alec, and Magnus sure as fuck can’t be bothered to care about something like that.

That’s-

Fuck.

That’s not fair. Alec knows that’s not fair. He knows he’s not going to accomplish anything by getting this upset.

He rests his hands on the edge of the kitchen sink, leans over it heavily, and takes a deep breath. He lets it out slowly through his nose, trying to get his heart to stop fucking racing. But despite his best efforts to calm himself down, his hands still start gripping the sink so hard that it hurts his fingers.

Alec can’t remember the last time he was this angry.

And it’s because of Magnus. He’s never been angry at Magnus before. Not like this.

He takes another deep breath. Because that’s still not fair. He’s not angry. He’s just… annoyed. Yeah. He’s annoyed.

He’s really goddamn fucking annoyed.

It feels like his fingernails are about to snap off. He needs something else to do with his hands. But the dishes have been done for over an hour now. And he’s scrubbed the entire fucking kitchen. He even cleaned all the drawers in the fridge. He’s cleaned everything he can and there’s nothing left to do in here. All he can do is go out into the living room and-

And have to deal with Magnus again.

Because of fucking course Magnus is just sitting in his damn armchair, looking at his damn phone, with his damn drink, like nothing is happening. Like it’s a perfectly normal night and everything’s fine and he hasn’t done anything to make Alec want to break all the fanciest plates he can find in the cupboards.

Maybe he should just go home. He hasn’t wanted to be here for the past couple of hours, so what’s the fucking point?

Huh. That would mean…

For the first time in the four months they’ve been dating, Alec would rather be at the Institute than here.

That can’t be right.

It’s not completely true, anyway. He may want to leave, but he doesn’t want to back to the Institute. Because Izzy and Jace and Clary and even Simon all know that he’s here (and why the fucking fuck had Izzy blurted something like that to the goddamn vampire over the phone anyway?) and if he goes back tonight, they’re all gonna know that something’s wrong. And he sure as fuck knows that he can’t talk about this to anyone. He can’t let anyone know how shitty tonight has been. He’s too annoyed and too proud and too aware of the fact that he’s done absolutely nothing wrong to deserve being treated like this and it’s all so fucking stupid-

He takes another deep breath. It shakes a little.

Standing here trying to claw the marble off of the counter-tops isn’t going to do anyone any good. So he lets go, and feels the blood rush back to his fingertips.

Maybe he could clean the bathroom? It’d at least give him something to do.

But that’s stupid. That’s fucking stupid, because not only does Magnus not deserve free cleaning services right now, but it’s also pretty goddamn unlikely that Magnus is in this mood because of a dusty bathroom. It wouldn’t help.

He needs a drink.

Yes, the minibar is in the living room, where Magnus is, but it’s at the end closest to the kitchen, and Magnus’s chair is facing the opposite direction. It’s not like he’ll have to start a conversation. And he damn well knows that Magnus isn’t going to start one either.

He’s been hiding in the kitchen for so long that it feels a little weird walking out into the rest of the loft. It’s darker outside now, and the only lights are the tv (which is on, but being completely ignored), and the screen of Magnus’s phone.

But it’s still bright enough for Alec to get to the minibar and pour himself a shot of the first clear liquid he can find. He doesn’t really do hard liquor on its own, without any sort of sweeteners or other flavors to take off the edge, so it tastes absolutely disgusting as he knocks it back in one god-awful swallow. It burns his throat and chest so bad that for a terrifying second he thinks he’s gonna throw it right back up… but he breathes through it, and the sting settles into a pleasant warmth that’s just enough to loosen the tension in his gut. He grimaces at the taste as he sets the glass back down, and realizes that now he has another dish he can wash. So, that’s something.

For a moment, he’s tempted to pour another shot of that… whatever that was. He has no idea. If he had to guess based on taste, he’d say lighter fluid. Bad lighter fluid. Cheap, fermented lighter fluid. Whatever this was, it was fucking disgusting, and he’s pretty sure he’ll never be able to drink it again, no matter what it’s mixed with.

There’s a terrible, childish part of him that hopes it was really fancy and expensive, just so he can have the satisfaction of knowing it was wasted on someone who thought it was shitty.

But he’s better than that. He knows he’s better than that. So he sets down his glass, and turns away from the bar.

Across the loft, Magnus is still in his chair. Where he’s been for almost two hours now. Ever since they finished dinner (which they’d eaten on the couch tonight, watching tv in uncomfortable, oppressive silence). He’d just gotten up, poured himself another drink, and settled into the armchair with his phone.

Alec can see that his glass is almost half-full. But it had been nearly empty the last time he saw it. Of course. He wonders how many times Magnus has refilled it since Alec took the dishes to the kitchen.

He’s been drinking all night.

Yeah, Magnus is pretty much always drinking. But tonight, he’s really been drinking.

It’s usually a glass of wine with dinner. Or a scotch afterward. It’s a bit more than that if they go out somewhere. But tonight, it’s been glass after glass after glass after glass of whiskey. Alec doesn’t understand how Magnus hasn’t passed out by now. He knows Magnus has to have built up a truly impressive alcohol tolerance over the past few centuries, but this is fucking ridiculous. Even though it’s just small glasses, Alec’s pretty sure he must have gone through most of a bottle by now, just since Alec got here.

And he’s only been here for a few hours.

Magnus had already had an empty glass in hand when Alec arrived. How many has he had since he got up this morning?

Maybe that’s why he’s being so shitty. Maybe he’s just drunk off his ass. Alec doesn’t think he’s ever seen Magnus drunk before. He’s seen him get a little extra handsy after one-too-many drinks at the club, but even then he hadn’t really seemed drunk at all.

Then again, he doesn’t seem particularly drunk now. He hasn’t spoken to Alec in a while, but the last time he had, his speech wasn’t slurred. His eyes aren’t red or glassy (though that might just be part of the glamour, Alec’s not sure). He’s been completely coherent all night.

He’s been a fucking dick all night, but as far as Alec can tell, he’s a perfectly sober dick.

Magnus takes another sip of what might as well be his thousandth drink, and keeps tapping on his phone. After a moment, he uncrosses his legs and crosses them the other way. And even that little movement is graceful enough that Alec knows there’s no way he could be significantly drunk. He’s as in control of himself as ever.

He’s not as fancy as usual tonight. Alec knows he didn’t have any clients to see, and from what he can tell, Magnus probably hasn’t left the loft all day. He’s wearing jeans and a green button-up with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and it’d be a perfectly normal, non-Magnus outfit if it weren’t for the ridiculous amount of jewelry covering what must be half the total surface area of his body. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, chains, jewels, more shapes and metals and colors than Alec had known was possible for one person to wear at once. His hair is tall and spiky, and his makeup is a little darker than usual. He looks… sharp. Uninviting. Like there’s nowhere on his body that would be soft or pleasant to touch.

Which might very well be the case, since it’s not like Alec has been given the opportunity to touch him at all tonight.

It doesn’t make any fucking sense.

Magnus had asked him to come over. That afternoon, he’d called and specifically asked Alec to come and spend the night, even though they weren’t planning on seeing each other for a few more days. And it’s not like Alec needs much of an excuse to spend the night at the loft, so he’d basically ditched all of his responsibilities for the evening and come over (as soon as he’d gotten out of the one meeting he knew he couldn’t skip). Magnus had asked to see Alec tonight.

And from the moment he’d opened the door, it’s been this.

No fucking sense.

Nothing unusual happened the last time they’d seen each other. It had been great. Magnus had nothing going on today, so there shouldn’t have been an opportunity for anyone or anything to piss him off. There’s literally no fucking reason for him to be like this.

And Alec has done everything he possibly can to try and cheer him up, which is the most fucking frustrating thing of all.

Because Alec’s had a great day, and was in a great mood, and was thrilled at the idea of getting to unexpectedly spend the night with Magnus. He’d picked one of Magnus’s favorite places for them to get take-out. He’d put on one of Magnus’s favorite tv shows while they ate. He’d washed all the dishes. And the kitchen. He’s been consistently pleasant and happy, even as he’s gotten more and more annoyed. He’s done damn near everything he can think of that might possibly lift Magnus’s mood a little.

It hasn’t done shit.

Alec knows everyone has bad days (even if he hasn’t actually seen one of Magnus’s before), and it’s not like he’d hold it against Magnus if something crappy was going on or something was really bothering him. He’d be more than willing to let Magnus vent to him, to talk about what was making him so upset and try to be helpful.

But Magnus hasn’t said a single fucking word.

Alec’s tried. He’s tried numerous times. He’s asked if Magnus is okay, if anything happened earlier, if anything’s wrong, if there’s anything he can do.

And every fucking time, Magnus has brushed him off. “I’m fine, darling.” “I’m fine, Alexander.” “I’m fine, Alec.”

So now, Alec can only assume that Magnus had asked him to come over specifically so he could ignore him. Because apparently ignoring him over the phone wouldn’t be enough, he needed to do it in person. To make sure he’s as big of a jackass as possible about it.

Maybe Alec actually wouldn’t mind another shot of that lighter fluid.

He takes another deep breath.

He’s being ridiculous. Well, out of the two of them, Magnus is definitely the ridiculous one tonight. But still. It’s not going to do anyone any good if Alec lets himself stew in his own annoyance all night.

Alec picks up his used glass. He knows it’s just one dish, and it doesn’t even really need to be washed, but it’s something to do. Some way to feel helpful. Even if it’s pathetically small.

He looks back at Magnus.

One more chance. One more opportunity for Magnus to turn this night around. That’s only fair.

“Do you need anything, Mags?”

It’s a simple question. An offer, without being pushy about it. He could say he needs another drink, or he could say he needs to talk about something. There’s options. It’s the perfect setup.

Magnus doesn’t even look up from his phone. “No.”

Alec feels something pulse out from his chest, shooting like a physical burst of rage through his limbs.

Magnus barely even acknowledged him.

Alec takes a deep breath.

Alright. He tried. He’s done trying now. Officially done. Throwing in the towel.

He takes the glass to the kitchen, rinses it out, and sets it in the sink.

He’s still taking deep breaths. But he’s also shaking a bit.

Footsteps.

Alec glances over and-

Magnus is standing in the kitchen doorway.

Alec can’t even bring himself to make eye contact. Because he doesn’t know what else he could realistically do right now, he picks up the glass he’d just rinsed out and rinses it again. It’s something to focus on. Something he can focus on that isn’t Magnus.

He hears footsteps come toward him.

Magnus comes right into Alec’s space, pressing up against his back-

Alec tenses.

Magnus wraps his arms around Alec’s waist, hands slipping up under his shirt-

Alec takes a deep breath.

Magnus presses his lips to the back of Alec’s neck. “Darling-”

Alec snaps.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” He pushes away from the sink and turns around, forcing Magnus to let go and take a step back. “All night. I’ve been trying to cheer you up all damn night, and you’ve been treating me like shit the entire time. And now all of a sudden you’re ready to be all lovey-dovey on me?”

Magnus’s eyes are a little wide, but that’s the only thing that gives away his surprise at the outburst. His hands are still stretched toward Alec a bit, almost like he wants to move in toward him again.

Alec takes a step further away to make sure he won’t. “I dropped everything and ran over here when you asked me to. And you’ve been acting like an asshole since I got here. I’d get it if you had a rough day and you wanted me to… I don’t know, help or something. But I’ve been trying so fucking hard and you’re just-” His words dry up, leaving him mid-sentence, and his hand waves uselessly at his side like that might somehow complete his thought for him.

He exhales slowly. His heart is beating a little too fast. It’s a little too hard to breathe. “Look, if you want to be a dick to me all night, fine. Whatever. But you can’t suddenly decide to be in a good mood again and expect me to go along with it.”

It feels surprisingly… nice, to get some of this out of his system. It’s satisfying to make sure Magnus knows how done Alec is with his shit right now. Because he doesn’t deserve this. And Magnus needs to fucking realize that.

Magnus is still just… looking at him. Eyes slightly wide. Lips pressed together. Strangely, this is the least upset he’s looked with Alec all night. Like the surprise has cut through his awful mood.

It feels like minutes pass in the strained, horrible silence before Magnus finally speaks. “I just… needed to see you.”

Well… shit.

What was that? He’s never heard Magnus’s voice like that. He sounded… uncertain. Like he didn’t actually have the words for whatever he wanted to say. Magnus isn’t like that.

And it feels so, so horrible to admit it, but Alec’s almost a little relieved. Because maybe this means that Magnus is done being a dick and he’s finally going to talk to Alec about whatever’s going on and Alec can help and that’ll be it, they’ll be done with whatever the fuck this terrible evening was, and everything’ll be fine.

He takes a small step in. “Magnus, what’s wrong?” He asks it as gently as he can, fully expecting to get an answer this time and let all of his annoyance dissipate.

And Magnus puts on that goddamn fucking smile. The fake one. The one he uses when something’s bothering him and he’s not gonna say a damn thing about it.

Even though Alec already knows what he’s going to say, it still feels like a small flicker of hope is doused in his chest when Magnus says “Nothing, darling” in the most insincere voice Alec’s ever heard.

Unbelievable.

Fucking unbelievable.

“Fine. Don’t tell me. Don’t tell the person who cares and just wants to help.” It’s starting to get difficult to keep his voice calm, so Alec forces himself to stop and breathe for a moment. Until he levels out. “But whatever’s bothering you, it sure as fuck isn't my fault. I don’t deserve to be treated like it is.”

Magnus just keeps that infuriatingly fake smile on his face. “Alec, you-”

“No.” Alec has no interest in hearing whatever bullshit lies Magnus wants to give him now. He holds up his hands in surrender. “Fuck this. I’m done.” Magnus won't get out of his way, so Alec has to brush past him on his way out of the kitchen. “I’m going to bed.”

It’s still early. It’s way too early to go to bed. But he doesn’t have any other options. Because he can't go back to the Institute. He just can’t.

But he also can’t be around Magnus anymore. He just can’t.

When he gets into the bedroom, there’s a brief moment where he almost sort of… hopes Magnus will come after him. To apologize. To tell him what’s going on and put an end to all of this and goddammit he wants Magnus to apologize for being so horrible to him tonight.

He waits in the doorway for a few moments.

He hears footsteps on the other side, softly trailing out from the kitchen. They pad off into the living room…

And stop.

And Alec wants to smash his fist into the goddamn door because Magnus probably went right back to his chair with his drink and his phone like nothing happened and he doesn’t understand why the fuck Magnus wanted him here just to do this to him.

He knows he can’t fall asleep like this. That there’s no chance in hell that he’d be able to relax enough. At this rate, he’ll be trapped in the bedroom for hours before he could even try to drift off. He wonders if Magnus will even try to come in here to sleep, or if Alec’s officially kicked him out of his own bed-

Oh. Huh. Is this a…

Is this a fight? Are they fighting? Did Alec just make Magnus sleep on the couch for the night, like they’re some old married couple going through a rough patch?

This doesn’t feel like fighting. This feels like Magnus being a dick and Alec rightly calling him out on it. There wasn’t a fight. Maybe an argument. But mostly just…

Just a really shitty night.

It’ll be fine. Yeah, Alec is capable of holding truly spectacular grudges when he wants to, but with something like this, it’s the last thing he wants. He knows he’ll be fine in the morning. The annoyance will be gone, and he’ll be embarrassed that he snapped at Magnus like that. And Magnus…

Magnus will probably be fine too. He’ll either have moved on from the whole thing, and he’ll apologize and be his usual self. Or he’ll crack, and tell Alec what was wrong, and they can do something about it.

It’s fine. It’s gonna be fine.

But that still doesn’t mean Alec can sleep.

Or that he can go back out in the living room and face Magnus again.

He steps back from the door and just… looks around the room for a second. Alec has spent more nights in this room than he can count. And even though it took him a few weeks to get used to the idea of staying in Magnus’s bedroom, he’s never given it too much thought.

But now, it’s like…

Like he’s trespassing. Because he’s in Magnus’s room, and Magnus isn’t. Alec closed the door and shut Magnus Bane out of his own goddamn bedroom. And that’s a fucking bizarre feeling.

Even though he’s spent a decent amount of time in here, he’s just now realizing that… there’s not much to do. It’s just a bed, and a nightstand, and three doors: the closet, the bathroom, and back out into the loft.

It makes sense. It’s a bedroom. It’s for sleeping. Magnus has an entire apartment for everything else.

But right now it’s a little inconvenient.

Alec’s only ever been in here to sleep, or… for other bed-related things that don’t involve sleeping. And now he’s locked himself in here (figuratively - there’s nothing stopping Magnus from coming in whenever he wants to) and there’s nothing to do and he’s stuck and he won’t be able to sleep and he’s still buzzing with all this fucking annoyance-

He glances at the bathroom.

Okay. A shower. That’ll be good. That’ll be perfect.

Calm down, clear his head, relax a little bit. It’ll take his mind off of… everything else. For a few minutes. Hot water and soap and feeling nice and clean.

Yeah. It’s a good plan.

Alec closes the bathroom door behind him…

And after a moment, he locks it.

He’s never done that before. Every time he’s showered here, he’s left the door unlocked. So Magnus could come in if he needed something. Or, once or twice… so he could join Alec. He’s always left the door unlocked, just in case.

Not this time. He doesn’t want Magnus coming in here now.

It’s a strange feeling…

But Alec’s not gonna feel guilty about locking the damn bathroom door while he takes a shower. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s normal. Perfectly normal.

Getting undressed and starting the shower feel almost mechanical. He’s not paying any damn attention to what he’s doing. He’s standing naked under the scalding hot spray before he even realizes that he’s taken off his clothes - and without a single uncomfortable glance to the mirror. Huh. Who would’ve thunk that all it takes to distract Alec from how much he hates his body is a fight with his boyfriend?

No. That’s not right.

They’re not fighting.

This is too dumb to be a fight. It’s just a bad day. Alec isn’t going to let their first fight be about something this stupid.

He reaches for the shampoo-

And pauses when he touches the bottle.

Sandalwood.

Magnus’s signature scent.

There’s this… this part of Alec that wants to find a different bottle. That doesn’t want to smell like Magnus. Like using Magnus’s scent would somehow equate to… letting him win.

Alec’s eyes widen. Because by the Angel, has he ever thought something so ridiculously petty before? He’s a grown man, not a five-year-old.

He uses the goddamn sandalwood shampoo because he’s not a goddamn idiot.

And the sandalwood facewash. And the sandalwood bodywash.

And by the end of it… the shower really did help. No, he’s not suddenly all cheerful and okay with everything. But yes, he’s definitely calmer now. The hot water relaxed him, and washing made him feel a little refreshed, and he’s…

He’s fine now.

He’s not good, but he’s fine.

He towels off quickly, realizing that he’s actually looking forward to putting on fresh clothes and crawling into a bed that’s infinitely more comfortable than the one he has back at the Institute. Now that he’s calmed down, it’s like being so annoyed for so long has exhausted him. He’s excited to get to sleep. He needs it.

Alec unlocks the bathroom door-

And wonders if Magnus is gonna be in the bedroom. He tightens his hold on the towel around his hips, just in case…

The bedroom is empty.

Figures.

The door out to the living room is still closed. Alec walks a little closer to it and… yeah. He can still hear the quiet hum of the ignored tv. Magnus probably hasn’t even moved.

Right. Alright. Okay. Fine.

Alec refuses to get worked up again, so he doesn’t let himself think about it. He just goes to the closet to get his clothes.

He’s finally reached the point where he doesn’t mind sleeping in nothing at all, but on a night like tonight, he’s profoundly grateful that he keeps extra clothes here, and that he has a clean pair of boxers and a spare t-shirt to use as pajamas.

Even though he knows he’s an adult, and he’s not petty, apparently he’s not above leaving his wet towel on the floor of Magnus’s closet. Or leaving his old clothes in a pile in the bathroom. Everything is always so clean here, so neat and tidy. Alec knows it’s only because Magnus maintains it with magic (he’d never put in the effort if he had to clean anything by hand, that’s for sure), but it’s still weirdly satisfying to leave these tiny patches of disorder in the pristine loft. He figures there are worse ways he could be letting out his frustration, so he doesn’t begrudge himself this.

He also doesn’t mind that his hair is still a little damp as he gets into bed, knowing he’s leaving a wet stain on the silk pillowcase. He has to admit that this is a little petty. But he can’t make himself care.

It’s unexpectedly weird to be in this bed without Magnus. He doesn’t… he doesn’t think he’s ever been in Magnus’s bed alone. Nights that he stays over, they invariably end up going to bed at the same time (though Magnus always falls asleep first). And Alec invariably wakes up at least an hour before Magnus does. This is the first time he’s actually gotten into bed and fallen asleep here without Magnus next to him. It shouldn’t feel that much different, but…

Shit. It does. It definitely does.

Alec stays strictly on his usual side of the bed. He arranges the pillows like he always does - which requires throwing at least four tiny decorative ones onto the floor to reveal the actual person-sized pillows underneath. He settles himself into the bedding like he always does, and reaches out to plug in his phone with the charger that Magnus has started leaving plugged in on his side-

His phone.

Fuck.

His phone is still in the pocket of his pants.

Which are still on the bathroom floor.

Alec immediately tries to think of how he could possibly get his phone into his hand without having to get out of bed.

But he can’t. And it’s not worth it. The ringer is turned up all the way anyway, so if there’s an emergency at the Institute, he’ll still be able to hear it.

Still, on a night when he’s already been more annoyed than he ever has in his life, something like this is just fucking unfair. His phone should be in a more convenient location. He deserves that bit of good luck right now.

With a sigh that’s a bit more dramatic than necessary, he tucks himself under the sheets (which are emerald green today), snuggles into his pillow, and-

He left the light on.

He left the fucking light on.

Fuck it.

He physically cannot make himself give a fuck.

Instead, he just pulls the silk sheet up over his face to block the lights. Good enough.

It takes about thirty seconds for him to realize that he can’t sleep like this. He’s tensed up all over again. The soothing effect of the shower is completely dead. He feels… itchy. Like he can’t lie still. He keeps shifting his limbs, little movements in all sorts of useless directions. Nothing makes him comfortable. It only takes a few more minutes to feel like he’s dying. He absolutely cannot find a position that doesn’t feel like a method of torture, the silk sheets are burning like a furnace, and his shirt is so goddamn fucking itchy it’s like the whole thing is made of poison ivy instead of cotton.

Alec throws the sheet off of him, just barely containing an actual shout of frustration at how much the world fucking hates him tonight. He wrestles off his t-shirt as quickly as possible and tosses it off the side of the bed to join the throw pillows in hell. But it’s not much of an improvement. He tosses and turns a few times (actual, literal tossing and turning, which feels so cliched that he’s almost mad at himself for doing it), and finally resigns himself to curling up on his side, facing away from the door. But it’s not because it’s comfortable. He’s just sick of trying. It’s defeat.

Breathing.

He has to keep breathing.

Slow, deep breaths. Even and smooth and simple and it’ll soothe his racing heart and calm his racing mind and he’ll drift off before he knows it...

There’s a sudden noise, and the bed dips a foot or so away from Alec’s feet. He’s about to bolt up and either fight or dissolve into panic-

He feels a tiny bit of pressure on the side of his leg. A paw-sized point of pressure, that’s quickly joined by three others.

Alec sighs. “Hey, Chairman.” He hadn’t even realized that cat was in here. He must have been sleeping under the bed. “I didn’t mean to trap you in here with me. Sorry. I hope you don’t need to use the litter box, because I’m not getting up to open the door.”

Chairman Meow slowly makes his way up Alec’s body, managing to knead what feels like every single one of Alec’s internal organs, and digging in his claws whenever he starts to slip. It’s awful, but Alec likes him enough to let him do his thing.

Alec’s still on his side, so the Chairman gets stuck when he reaches Alec’s armpit. He steps onto the mattress instead, and immediately butts his head right against Alec’s nose.

“Hey!” Alec protests quietly, because that actually kinda hurt. For a small cat, he’s got a really solid skull.

The Chairman seems undeterred, and continues to rub his face against Alec’s. After a moment, he turns, so Alec gets a face-full of fluffy tail instead.

Alec sputters what feels like hundreds of hairs off of his tongue, even though his mouth wasn’t even open. “Come on, Chairman. If you’re gonna stay, you gotta lie down. I will shove you off.”

The Chairman just starts purring. But after a bit more pawing around, he drops down to his side, stretching and rolling onto his back.

Fuck. It’s adorable. His little paws spreading out with his little toes and then he yawns and Alec might actually die because of this.

The temptation is too strong. Alec starts petting the Chairman’s belly, which the Chairman usually hates, but he’s just lying on his back like that with all his limbs stretched out and Alec can’t just not even try.

The Chairman tenses with a little noise, like he might attack… but then he starts purring.

Alec smiles a bit to himself. “Don’t let Magnus find out that you’re on my side,” he whispers, like it’s actually a secret, “he’d be furious. You’re supposed to be loyal to him, not me.”

And for a few minutes, nothing else happens. Alec just lies there, petting Chairman Meow, and he finally, finally feels himself relax. Like he could fall asleep at any moment.

So, of course, because the universe is really outdoing itself tonight, that’s when the Chairman decides to flip over and practically leap off of the bed, startling Alec out of his pleasant stupor. Everything was so nice, Alec doesn’t understand why he had to-

He hears movement.

Right outside the door. The Chairman must have realized that he’ll be able to get out the door again.

Sure enough, Alec can hear tiny paws run out into the living room as soon as the door opens.

But he refuses to turn over. He stays on his side, facing away from the door, face pressed into the pillow.

“Alexander?”

Magnus’s voice is quiet. Either he’s not sure if Alec is awake, or he’s not sure what Alec’s mood will be if he is. Somehow, that’s satisfying. Alec has been tip-toeing around Magnus’s emotions all fucking night. It’s only fair that Magnus should have to do the same.

Alec isn’t actually planning on pretending to be asleep (though the thought definitely does cross his mind), because he’s not that petty, he’s not that petty, he’s not that petty, he just doesn’t know what he could say right now. He doesn’t want to have to pretend to be happy. He doesn’t want to have to deal with whatever bullshit excuse Magnus has come up with… or, more likely, whatever evasion he’s going to give. Whatever he’s going to do to get out of admitting whatever the hell has been going on tonight. Alec doesn’t think he can handle hearing that horrible, phony cheerful voice Magnus uses when he refuses to treat Alec with enough respect to trust him with his problems-

“Alec?”

That didn’t… That wasn’t his fake-happy voice. His ‘everything’s super fine even though I’m miserable I just won’t tell you why’ voice.

That was…

Weak.

Magnus sounds weak. Magnus shouldn’t sound like that. Magnus has never sounded like that before.

Alec sits up. “What?” The long night of frustration means that his voice doesn’t sound quite as gentle as he wanted it to, but he looks over-

Oh.

Magnus is standing in the doorway. He doesn’t have his phone, or his drink. He looks… small. Alec doesn’t think he’s ever seen him look this small. His face is moving a bit, contracting, like he’s working hard to keep his expression neutral. The glamour on his eyes is starting to flicker, but not in the uncontrolled, excited way it usually does. It looks like it’s breaking. Magnus looks like he’s about to break.

“It’s…” Magnus’s voice shakes, and he takes an audible breath. “It’s Ragnor’s birthday today.”

It’s like a kick to the chest.

Everything makes sense, but that’s not a relief. It’s like all the pieces have fallen into place, but the pieces are to a shitty puzzle, so having it solved just makes everything so much worse.

“Oh.” Alec wants to say more. He knows he needs to say more. But he can’t get his breath back.

Magnus puts on that smile, the one he uses when he’s trying to play off something awful as a joke. But it’s cracked. It barely even looks like a smile. He looks down at the floor. “I forgot it once. It was decades ago, but… he never forgave me.” And he laughs.

He laughs. Like it’s supposed to be funny.

“Magnus-”

“I had planned to spend the day with Catarina. But there’s a flu outbreak at the hospital and she couldn’t get away and…” He looks up at Alec. The glamour is gone from his eyes. He’s still trying to keep up that smile, and it isn’t working. “I didn’t want to be alone.” And then words just sort of… rush out of him. “I’m sorry. I know I’ve been… I couldn’t be alone, but I don’t know how to be around anyone like this. I'm just- I'm not used to having someone who. Cares. About this sort of thing. I know I should have told you. It wasn’t fair of me to…” He presses his lips together. “I’m sorry, Alec.”

Alec’s first impulse is to say ‘it’s alright’, but he can’t make himself do it. Because it’s not. Nothing about this situation is ‘alright’, and he doesn’t want to imply that it is. It’s awful. It’s fucking awful and he wants to make sure that Magnus knows it’s alright to treat it like it’s awful. Magnus has probably been telling himself that he’s alright all day. Magnus always thinks he has to be alright, with everything. Alec can’t stomach the thought of telling him that he should be alright with this.

So instead, he says “I understand.”

And only feels like a little bit of a lie.

Because he understands death, sure. He’s dealt with loss himself, and dealt with helping other people who are dealing with it.

But something like this? It’s so far beyond his scope he can’t even imagine it. Magnus losing someone who’d been his best friend for hundreds of years. Magnus losing one of the only people he thought he’d never have to lose. Alec can’t possibly understand that.

Magnus shifts a little in the doorway, like he’s not quite sure what he’s supposed to do. Like… fuck. Like he’s not sure if he’s welcome in here. Like he thinks Alec might still not want to deal with him.

“Mags…” His mind completely blanks, and he can’t think of any words that might work. So he pulls back the covers on the other side of the bed, and pats the empty space next to him.

Magnus’s face crumples.

By the Angel, Alec never wants to have to see him look like this again. He can see every single crack as Magnus breaks down.

But he moves right away. In the few steps it takes for Magnus to get from the door to the bed, his jewelry disappears, and then his clothes. The crackle of blue fades, and by the time he crawls onto the bed, he’s just in a white undershirt and a pair of surprisingly plain panties.

Alec holds out his hand, and Magnus doesn’t need any more invitation than that to go right to him. Alec leans back against the headboard, propped up by the pillows he hasn’t tossed to the floor. And Magnus immediately curls against his side. He presses his face to Alec’s bare chest, and clings to him. His hands clutch a little too hard at Alec’s sides, just shy of being painful, but Alec doesn’t care. He wraps his arms around Magnus, one hand splayed on the small of his back, the other cradling his head.

They’re still for a few moments, both just lying there, breathing a little unevenly. Until, slowly…

Fuck.

It starts as a shiver. Just a fine tremor in Magnus’s shoulders. But it doesn’t take long for it to turn to noticeable, continuous shaking. And Alec feels his chest start to get wet.

He’s never seen Magnus cry before. Shit, he’s never really seen Magnus get emotional at all. He’s always perfectly calm and collected. The only really powerful emotions Alec has seen from him are excitement and passion. Alec has seen things hurt Magnus, but he’s never really seen Magnus be hurt by them. He always covers it up. Pretends he’s fine. Calm. Unaffected.

Alec’s always known that was bullshit, and by now he can tell when Magnus is pretending to be invulnerable. It’s always been painful, and difficult to process.

But this is…

Alec tightens his hold a little. He slips his hand under the hem of Magnus’s shirt, because somehow pressing against the bare skin of his back makes it feel like they’re closer together. He kisses the top of Magnus’s head, over and over and over, because really, what else can he do? He’s never felt so useless in his entire life.

Except… He wonders if Magnus had cried earlier today. Before Alec got here. He’s not sure… but he kind of suspects that this might be the first time Magnus has let himself cry like this today. He’s never-

Huh. Alec realizes that Magnus has never mentioned Ragnor’s death to him. It’s been four months. He hasn’t said a word. Alec found out about it in a goddamn mission report at the Institute. He had guessed how difficult it must have been for Magnus, but that’s all it was. A guess. Magnus has talked about Ragnor, but only briefly. Bringing up a little memory here and there. Small, offhand comments that he tossed out easily, then immediately changed the subject. Almost like… like he’d forgotten. And talking about it made him remember.

And Alec had never tried to pull him into any conversation about it. It didn’t feel like it was his place. Hell, he knows it’s not his place. But still…

He’s glad he’s here. He’s strangely… grateful. That Magnus is trusting him with this.

Even if he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do.

He wants to say something. Something to comfort him. But, by the Angel, what could possibly be comforting right now? Saying it’s alright still feels disrespectful. Trying too hard to soothe him feels like he’s trying to say that Magnus shouldn’t be crying, and that’s the exact opposite of what he wants to do. He wants Magnus to know that this is okay, that he can cry all he wants, and Alec will…

Oh.

Alec tucks his face against the top of Magnus’s head, nuzzling into his hair. “I’m here,” he says quietly. Because that’s true. And it’s gonna keep being true. “I’m here, Mags. I’ve got you.”

Alec has absolutely no sense of time like this. There’s a clock on the wall opposite the bed, but he’d have to pull away to look at it, and that’s out of the question. So he has no idea how long it’s been. It might only be a few seconds. But Alec feels like the better part of half an hour must go by while they just stay like that. Curled up in bed, Magnus crying silently onto Alec’s chest, Alec holding him so tight his arms start to hurt, twisting his face to press a kiss to Magnus’s hair every now and then.

Alec thinks he could stay here forever, if Magnus wanted him to.

But eventually, Magnus stops shaking. It’s gradual, and uncertain, but it happens. Alec’s not sure if Magnus is actually ready to stop, or if he’s just exhausted himself. If he has nothing left to give. Either way, after another minute or two, he’s not crying anymore. He’s just breathing against Alec’s chest. Each breath gets deeper and smoother and steadier until…

Until it’s like they’re just lying there, cuddled together for no reason whatsoever. Alec loosens his hold a bit - mostly because he’s afraid he’s going to suffocate Magnus if he doesn’t - but doesn’t stop running his fingers through Magnus’s hair or stroking his hand up and down Magnus’s spine.

It’s probably another couple of minutes before Magnus finally breaks the silence. “He would have liked you.”

Alec’s hands still. Because…

It’s not like he’s gonna contradict Magnus right now, but from the little he’s heard about Ragnor, that doesn’t seem-

“No. That’s not true.” Magnus gives a weak, wet laugh, still not lifting his face from Alec’s chest. “He would have hated you. He hated everyone.” He tries to laugh again, but ends up just snuffling a bit instead. “But he would have loved using you to make fun of me. Oh god, I can’t even imagine what he and Raphael would have said about you.”

Alec furrows his eyebrows. “Raphael Santiago?” He didn’t realize Ragnor had even known him.

Magnus nods, and cozies himself against Alec’s side a bit, so he’s snuggled a bit more and clinging a bit less. “You know how awful Raphael is? Imagine there being two of him.” He chuckles again. His voice is still thick with tears. “The two saltiest, most crotchety old men in the world. Brought together only by their mutual disdain for me and everything I’ve ever done. They would have had a field day when they found out I’m dating a shadowhunter. And a Lightwood, too.” He makes a dismissive sound.

Alec actually laughs a little bit. It feels like a strange situation to be laughing, but it also feels natural. Magnus isn’t making a joke to try and cover up what’s really happening. This is just… a funny piece of truth.

“I’ve actually been…” Magnus stops, takes a breath, and starts again. “I’ve been talking to Raphael quite a bit today. Ragnor’s social circle was pitifully small; I didn’t have many other options.”

Which explains why he’s been glued to his phone. Alec closes his eyes, because everything makes so much goddamn sense now, and everything goddamn sucks.

After a moment, Magnus starts to move. He pushes himself up onto his elbows, sniffling furiously and wiping his face against his shoulder.

“Hang on-” Alec says quickly. He reaches his hand over the edge of the bed, careful not to dislodge Magnus, and grasps around blindly until he finds his discarded t-shirt. “Here.” He gently tips up Magnus’s chin, and uses his t-shirt to dry Magnus’s face.

Magnus gives a weak, embarrassed smile as Alec wipes the tears off of his cheeks, but doesn’t try to stop him from doing a thorough job. “Thank you, darling.”

Alec drops the shirt next to him on the bed, but brings his hand back up to cradle Magnus’s jaw. He smiles, as much as he can. “Do you need anything? Some water, or…?” He knows Magnus could poof himself a glass of water so much easier and faster than if Alec got it for him, but he wants to offer anyway. He wants to be helpful. He wants Magnus to know that he wants to be helpful.

Magnus’s smile grows a bit. “No, darling. I’m…” He nuzzles his face a little further into Alec’s touch. “I’m fine.”

And Alec knows that this time, he means it.

Magnus sighs, deep, and exhausted. He picks up Alec’s tear-stained shirt, balls it up into a makeshift pillow, and uses it to rest his head on Alec’s chest again, a bit more comfortably this time.

Alec nestles himself further into his own pile of pillows, and drapes his arms loosely around Magnus’s waist. Things are calm now. Quiet.

Except, even though Magnus said he doesn’t need anything, there’s still one more thing Alec can offer. “Do you just want to get some sleep, or would it- Would it maybe help at all to… talk a bit? I’m… uh. I’m a lot nicer to talk to than Raphael Santiago.” It’s a little bold for him, teasing like that at a moment like this.

But it pays off, because Magnus laughs. “You certainly are, Alexander.”

He’s silent for a few moments. But then, he curls a little closer to Alec. “Have I ever told you about the time Ragnor and I became pirates?”

Alec laughs before he can think better of it. Because that’s one of those things. One of those things that Magnus throws out just casually enough that Alec’s not sure if it’s a blatant fucking lie, or just stupid enough to be true. “No. I don’t think I’ve heard about that.”

Magnus hums, quiet and content. It’s the sound he makes when he’s about to launch into a truly epic bout of storytelling.

Alec smiles. He thinks he’s gonna like this one.

 

 

Chapter Text

There’s a noise on the other side of the wall.

Alec’s reaching for the seraph blade he keeps tucked between the mattress and the headboard before he realizes that he’s awake. He’s not even sure he is completely awake yet. But he gets a grip on the handle of the blade - still in its hiding place - and waits, because he doesn’t want to draw a weapon if it’s just…

The noise repeats. It’s a tiny little scuffling. And after a moment, it doubles.

Alec sighs, and lets go of his seraph blade. Okay.

Not that kind of emergency.

He glances over at Magnus - but he’s still asleep on the other side of the bed. He’s shifting a little, like the noise disturbed him, but he’s always been a much heavier sleeper than Alec. It doesn’t look like he’s going to wake up. Alec decides to let him be for now, until he determines if this is a two-person problem.

Alec pulls his protesting body out of his comfortable nest to switch on the lamp on his nightstand. He shuts his eyes against the sudden brightness, and has to blink sharply a few times to adjust.

He swings his legs over the edge of the bed, trying to wake himself up a bit further-

But he’s stopped by the sound of footsteps. Tiny footsteps.

Max appears in the doorway, and the glaring contrast between his blue skin and his neon-yellow pirate pajamas makes Alec blink a few more times before his tired eyes will actually focus. Max marches right into the bedroom, and-

Oh. Rafael is right behind him. Max has what looks to be a very tight grip on Rafe’s hand, and he’s tugging him into the room. Well, he’s practically dragging him. Rafe has his other hand pressed against his mouth, like he’s trying to fight the urge to nibble his thumb, and he looks like he’d rather be anywhere but here. Both of them look sleepy. They’re mussed and groggy enough that Alec’s pretty sure they just woke up.

“What’s going on, guys?” Alec asks, trying to sound as pleasant as he can as he fights the sleep-gunk in his throat.

“Rafe had a bad dream,” Max declares, with so much more intensity than a three-year-old should be able to muster.

Ah. Alright then.

Definitely a two-person problem.

Alec reaches back to gently wake up Magnus-

But Magnus’s subconscious must have heard the phrase ‘One of my children is unhappy’, because he’s wide awake instantly. By the time Alec can turn around to look at him, he’s already out of bed. Alec almost wants to laugh. He’s pretty sure Magnus’s paternal instincts are so strong that he could wake himself out of a coma if one of the kids so much as scraped their knee.

Magnus has apparently heard all he needs to hear about the situation, because he goes straight to Rafael and scoops him right off of the floor like he’s an infant and not a gangly five-year-old. Rafe looks stunned for a moment, and almost sort of… uncomfortable…

But then Magnus starts cooing to him in Spanish, so fast that Alec’s rudimentary grasp of the language can’t even begin to follow him. He only catches a few words here and there, things like ‘dear’ and ‘alright’ and ‘safe’.

And soon enough, Rafe gives in. He wraps his arms around Magnus’s neck and does his best to burrow his face into Magnus’s shoulder.

Alec can actually see Magnus start to melt into a puddle of goo, but he visibly keeps himself together for Rafe’s sake. He just keeps murmuring to him in Spanish, holding him close and rocking back and forth a bit.

Alright. That’s one child taken care of.

Alec looks over to Max, who’s still standing a few feet in from the door. “What about you, buddy? You okay?”

Max moves his lips a few times, working them around like he’s chewing something. He shifts his weight from foot to foot, and Alec can’t tell if he’s slightly frightened or very embarrassed. It’s definitely one of the two. Finally, he looks away and mumbles, “S’a monster under his bed.”

Oh. So it’s both.

Alec takes a breath. Okay. Yes, he’d rather be able to just get everyone back to sleep right away, but at least this is a straightforward problem.

“Well, we can’t have that, can we?” He gets out of bed, and immediately feels his legs protest at being used like this when he was right in the middle of a REM cycle. But he powers through it, and quickly grabs the witchlight he keeps in the drawer of his nightstand. He knows there’s not actually anything dangerous under Rafe’s bed, so he leaves his seraph blade safely hidden away. “Okay. Do you wanna stay in here, or-”

Max grabs Alec’s free hand and tugs him toward the door.

Alec tries not to smile, because he knows this is Serious Business for Max. But it’s just too much, to be marched out of the bedroom by a toddler who’s acting like they’re going into battle.

The boys’ bedroom is right next to Magnus and Alec’s. It had been a long-forgotten guest room until Max came along and they’d turned it into his nursery. When they knew they were bringing Rafe home, they remodeled even further, converting a chunk of the massive living room into a third bedroom. It wasn’t until Rafe got there that Magnus and Alec realized they’d just… assumed that Rafe wanted his own room. They hadn’t even considered that he might not be comfortable sleeping alone, which had turned out to be the case. Luckily, Max was more than willing to share his room (which is way bigger than a toddler needs, anyway). And even if the third room is wasted space for now, they know the boys will eventually get to a point where they don’t want to share anymore.

It’s always a little disorienting to flick on the light in the boys’ room at first. Because yeah, they’ve made the rest of the loft meticulously kid-friendly, but this room was designed specifically for a child - technically an infant, since they haven’t really changed it much since it was Max’s nursery - and it sure as hell shows. The rest of the loft is still a lot of dark woods and rich colors, but this room is bright and soft and bizarrely normal-looking compared to the rest of their home. Everything is neons and pastels and rounded edges and the softest carpet money can buy. Magnus has always let Max change the color of the walls twice a month, so long as Max helps him with the magic (even though Max’s best magical efforts still don’t really accomplish much). In the five weeks since they brought Rafael home, they’ve suggested he and Max take turns deciding the color scheme. But the boys apparently decided that they’d rather compromise and combine their ideas, resulting in four wildly different walls. Right now there’s one orange, one blue, one green, and one purple. Each the brightest, most saturated shade possible. And every wall has the other three colors on it in some form, polka dots or stripes or stars in various patterns and sizes.

It looks awful. It looks like an episode of Blue’s Clues threw up in here. But the boys love it, which automatically makes it charming as far as Alec is concerned.

The left side of the room is Max’s, which is made obvious by the overwhelming amount of pirate memorabilia - the pattern on his bed covers, the toy bin that’s shaped like a ship and filled with foam swords, the giant hat sitting on his dresser… damn near everything he owns is themed.

The right side of the room is Rafe’s. It’s still pretty plain (especially by comparison). A solid purple comforter, a few books on the dresser. It’s hardly anything, really. The only thing of any real significance is the small, yet quickly-growing collection of stuffed animals on the bed. Rafe either hasn’t caught on to the fact that Magnus will literally buy him anything, or he’s not comfortable enough to exploit it yet.

A quick glance around the room is enough to confirm that there aren’t any monsters that wandered out of Rafe’s nightmare…

But Alec looks down and realizes that Max is hiding behind his legs, nervously clutching the fabric of his pajama pants.  

Well, shit. “Did you see the monster too, buddy?”

Max shakes his head and tries to press a little further into his Alec-shaped hiding spot. “Just Rafe did. He told me.”

Even though it’s not at all the right moment, Alec can’t help but smile, just a little bit.

Because during Alec's entire childhood as a shadowhunter, when he heard people use the word ‘monster’, they weren’t talking about demons. They were talking about downworlders. Even his own damn parents had used the word in that context, like it was nothing.

And now, his nephilim son saw a monster under his bed, and immediately asked his warlock brother for help. Alec realizes that it’s not exactly world-changing, but it still feels pretty damn nice.

“Alright. Let’s see what’s under there.” Alec gently ruffles Max’s mop of tight curls to get him to let go of Alec’s pants.

Max clearly doesn’t want to go near the scary bed, but he doesn’t look too thrilled to be left alone either. He ends up gripping the edge of the open door instead, hiding behind it with just his head poking out.

It’s times like these when Alec envies mundane parents. All they’d have to do is say ‘Monsters aren’t real’ and that’d be that. Everyone goes back to sleep. But that’s not an option for Alec - who’s killed more demons than he can count, and sleeps with a goddamn glowing sword behind his mattress. Monsters may not be real, but there aren’t many differences between a child’s nightmare and a demon.

Especially for Rafe. Judging by the state of the Buenos Aires Institute when Alec found him, Rafe has probably seen more than enough to keep his nightmares fueled for a lifetime. It’d be downright insulting for Alec to tell him that whatever he saw tonight wasn’t real, when it very well might have been at some point.

Which is why he kneels down next to Rafe’s bed, presses the side of his face into the carpet, and holds up the witchlight to get a good look.

“Is the monster still there?” Max asks quietly, like he’s worried about Alec’s safety.

Alec knows ‘No, because Papa enchanted Daddy’s engagement ring to glow in the presence of demons, and it’s not glowing’ isn’t an answer that will satisfy this terrified three-year-old, so he carefully examines every nook and cranny. There’s a few mismatched socks, and a Tootsie Pop wrapper, and a dog-eared book, and-

“Ah. I think I found what Rafe saw.” He sits up and turns back to look at Max. “Wanna see?”

Max shifts from foot to foot, but doesn’t answer.

“It’s not a monster,” Alec says gently, “I promise.”

Max still looks a little uncertain, but he slowly makes his way over to the bed. He crouches down behind Alec, so there’s a human shield between him and whatever’s under there, just in case.

Alec ducks back down to the floor, holding up the witchlight under the bed so Max can clearly see-

“Meow!” Max shouts, which startles the Chairman out of his sleep. The cat uncurls, looking extremely displeased at being woken up.

Alec smiles. “Yep. Just Meow. Rafe just had a bad dream, and when he woke up he must have seen Meow go under the bed.” Alec doesn’t understand why the Chairman can’t pick one sleeping place and just fucking stay there through the night, but he’s been known to run between the kids’ beds multiple times before morning. Of course, they’d gotten George Bernard Paw specifically to be Max’s kitten, but now George only sleeps with Magnus and Alec, while the Chairman has practically adopted the kids as his own. By now, Alec’s only a little bitter that he’s not Chairman Meow’s favorite anymore.

“Well, everything look safe here?” Alec asks, shining the witchlight over the rest of the monster-free area.

Max makes a noise like he’s really thinking about it. Then, he nods, face completely solemn. “Safe.”

Alec nods with him, trying his best not to smile. But it’s hard, when he knows that Max only cares so much because this is Rafael’s bed. Because even though Rafe is just shy of two years older than him, Max was in this home first. So as far as he’s concerned, that makes him Rafe’s Big Brother, and he takes that job very seriously. He definitely considers Rafe’s overall safety and well-being to be his sole responsibility, with Magnus and Alec occasionally chipping in from the sidelines. And…

Alec suddenly realizes why Max had brought Rafe into their bedroom to tell them about his nightmare.

Max’s other big job is teaching Rafe how things work in the Lightwood-Bane family. Telling him the rules. Teaching him the traditions. All the little ins-and-outs of being Magnus and Alec’s child.

And Rafe… hasn’t really bought into all of that yet. It’s understandable, obviously. Rafe has only been part of their family for a little over a month. It’s understandable that he hasn’t quite jumped headfirst into particularly family-based things, like painting Alec’s nails on Sundays, or taking turns reading the bedtime story every night. He’s still cautious with them in most things.

Alec had kind of assumed that since they’d already adopted one child, they knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. Except now, he has to keep reminding himself that Rafe’s circumstances are closer to when the Lightwoods took in Jace than when he and Magnus adopted Max. Because for Max, this is just what life is. Even though he knows he’s adopted, he’s only ever known being Magnus and Alec’s son. But Rafe is well aware that he had a different life before this, and a different family. So Alec’s aware that to Rafe, this isn’t really his family yet.

But Max doesn’t seem to be aware of that at all. From the first moment that Magnus had asked him what he’d think of Rafael being his brother from now on, Max has been relentlessly thrilled about having a sibling. Alec hadn’t been expecting that. He’s always heard that kids usually become difficult when they have to share their parents’ attention with a new sibling (Maryse and Robert have assured him that he was a nightmare for a full year after Isabelle was born). It’s probably because Rafe is a kid, someone Max can really interact with and talk to and play with, instead of an infant. Hell, Alec’s pretty sure that from day one, Max has seen Rafe as a friend who conveniently happens to live with him. Just a friend who sometimes needs to be taught the rules (and perks) of living here.

Which means that when Rafe woke him up tonight, Max must have explained that when they have nightmares, they get to sleep in Daddy and Papa’s bed. And Rafe must have been too nervous or too shy to take advantage of that. So Max had done it for him.

Alex takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly through his nose. “Well buddy, should we go tell them what we found?”

“Mm-hm,” Max hums with a confident nod. He takes Alec’s hand and starts dragging him toward the door before Alec can even stand up.

When they get back to the other bedroom, Rafe seems to have calmed down considerably. He and Magnus are sitting in bed, propped up against the headboard. Magnus has one arm around Rafe, and is humming a quiet lullaby while Rafe idly ties knots in the strings on his pajama pants. They both look ready to nod off at any moment, but Rafe perks up instantly when Alec and Max come back into the room.

Alec fully expects Max to give the official report, so he just looks down at him instead of even trying to speak.

“S’was just Meow,” Max says, every bit as serious as Alec assumed he would be.

Rafe shifts a little. Nervously. He looks hopeful, but not completely convinced. “Really?” And it doesn’t escape Alec’s notice that he’s clearly only interested in Max’s opinion.

Max nods several times. “Yep. Just Meow.”

It takes a moment, but eventually Rafe sags into Magnus’s embrace, visibly relieved.

“Alright,” Alec tries not to grimace at how suddenly he switches into Serious Dad voice, “time for all of us to get back to sleep.” He still hasn't looked at the clock, and by this point, he doesn't want to. He moves in closer to the bed. “Rafe, do you wanna go back to your room, or stay in here with us?” he asks gently, making sure his Serious Dad voice is still soft and warm.

Rafe sucks his lower lip between his teeth and looks away. Alec’s not sure if he’s considering his options, or if he’s too nervous to answer.

He never does really answer, but after a few seconds, he snuggles closer to Magnus, gripping the fabric of his pajama shirt. Magnus gives Alec a significant glance, and Alec feels the corner of his mouth twist up in the beginnings of a smile.

“Okay. Max, how about you?”

But Max is already hauling himself into bed, knocking Alec’s pillow to the floor in the process. Alec takes a moment to chuckle to himself as he sets his witchlight on the nightstand and retrieves the pillow.

Magnus carefully disentangles himself from Rafael so he can pull back the covers and spread out the two piles of pillows into one long row against the headboard. This may be the first time they’ve tried cramming all four of them into one bed, but Magnus and Alec are used to sharing with Max, so by now they’ve established a pretty solid system. There’s no nightlight in here, and the boys are used to sleeping with two (one on each side of the room), so Magnus waves a hand and the light from the lamp instantly dims to a faint glow.

Rafe looks a little bewildered as everyone starts shifting and rearranging around him, which gives Alec a thought. “Rafe, do you need anything from your room?”

Rafe starts chewing his lip again, which basically translates to ‘yes’. He looks down at his hands. “My giraffe?” he finally mumbles, sounding so obviously afraid of being a nuisance.

“You mean this giraffe?” Magnus asks playfully, producing the stuffed animal from behind Rafe’s back with a brief flicker of blue sparks.

Rafe’s mouth falls open with a tiny gasp, his eyes going wide. Then, he dissolves into giggles, taking the giraffe from Magnus with a grin. By the Angel, it’s so fucking cute it makes Alec’s chest ache. Rafe didn’t have much experience with magic, growing up in an Institute, and seeing it now is still delightfully novel for him. It can be a little strange to see the High Warlock of Brooklyn use his powers so trivially, but Alec knows that Magnus would reduce himself to pulling rabbits out of hats if he thought it might make Rafe smile.

By the time Alec gets back into bed, the boys have already rearranged themselves by some unspoken agreement, so Max is next to Magnus and Rafe is next to Alec. It’s how they always seem to end up, when they’re all on the couch, or at the dinner table. It’s just kind of their usual pattern. Always with the kids between them. Five weeks, and they’re already basically joined at the hip. Not that that’s a bad thing, in any way. Alec just hopes they don’t overdo themselves and end up completely sick of each other by the time they realize that this is their life now, and not just some fun new setup to try out for a while.

Before anyone can get too comfortable, Alec leans over the bed to get Max’s attention. Because even though they’ve already gone through the bedtime routine once tonight, they’re technically going to bed again. Which means Alec needs to go through the routine again, or he’ll feel like a horrible father. “C’mere,” he says, which is enough for Max to catch on. He sits up and plants an unnecessarily loud kiss on Alec’s cheek, which Alec reciprocates with a similarly loud kiss on his forehead. Alec is still cautious about being too affectionate with Rafe, not wanting to make him uncomfortable, so he settles for ruffling his hair. Rafe doesn’t respond, but Alec can see him hide a smile against his giraffe.

With the bedtime routine sufficiently repeated, Alec settles back into his side of the bed (though now it’s just a small sliver by the edge), and tugs the blanket up over all of them. Rafe is on his side, curled up toward Alec, clutching his stuffed animal. Max is sprawled out on his back, one hand fisted in the pillowcase, the other rubbing absentmindedly at one of his still-growing horns - which are probably going to end up being quite impressive one day, but are currently just tiny little nubs on other side of his forehead. He frowns a little as he takes his hand away for a moment… but he gives in quickly and goes right back to rubbing and scratching the little horn, as habitual and comforting for him as it is for most kids to suck their thumb.

It’s… fuck. It’s so cute. It’s so goddamn cute and goddammit, how the fuck did Alec wind up with such fucking adorable kids?

And Magnus is at the other end of the bed, happily letting Max take up way more space than he needs. Alec wonders how this must feel for Magnus. Because even though this is it now, this is their life, Alec knows that it’s still just a tiny chunk of the time that Magnus has lived in this loft. It’s been five years since Magnus first let Alec share his bed, and while that feels like such a huge portion of his life, he knows it’s nothing compared to how many years Magnus had spent here by himself. He wonders what it’s like for Magnus to be so used to having his bed to himself, and now he suddenly has an entire family smushed in here with him.

Well, Magnus is stretched out on his side, eyes closed, smiling peacefully as Max shifts restlessly beside him, so Alec thinks he probably doesn’t mind too much.

“Goodnight, boys,” Alec says as he adjusts his pillow.

“Goodnight, Dad,” Max and Magnus say in unison, though Magnus does so with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

Alec turns so Magnus can see his unimpressed look, but Magnus is just smiling at him. Smiling his little Alec-only smile. Which, of course, melts Alec’s hard look into a fairly dopey grin.

Rafe doesn’t respond at all to the goodnight (probably because he doesn’t refer to either of them as Dad or Papa yet), but he does snuggle in a little closer to Alec, which is more than enough for him.

Magnus holds Alec’s gaze a little longer. They just look at each other from across the crowded bed, their views somewhat blocked by the forms of their kids. Alec runs his thumb across his engagement ring, tucked under the blanket. It takes less than a full minute for Max to start snoring quietly. Magnus rolls his eyes at the sound, but he keeps looking at Alec. Keeps smiling Alec’s smile. And after a few moments, he winks, just before closing his eyes and snuggling up with Max, ready to drift back to sleep. Alec finally closes his own eyes. Finally gives in to the exhaustion he’s been fighting since he woke up. When he does, he feels Rafe slowly fist a hand in Alec’s shirt, pressing a little closer to him.

It’s…

Well.

All in all, it’s the nicest damn night Alec’s ever had.

 

 

Chapter Text

He’s not alone.

It’s the first thought Magnus has, the first hint of awareness. Right as he starts to register that he’s awake, before he can even open his eyes, he knows that he isn’t the only one in this bed. There’s weight on the pillow next to him. A patch of cool mattress that’s warmed by body heat.

He smiles. No, he’s definitely not alone.

Because Alexander Lightwood spent the night in his bed.

Magnus has never put much stock in any particular deity, but he’s pretty sure that there’s some higher power out there that deserves a tasteful thank-you card.

Because after six weeks, after six long weeks of lingering goodbyes in the dead of night, after six weeks of kisses in the doorway that became nearly unbearable to end, after six weeks of mournfully uttered “I should probably go”s and “I have to go”s and “Magnus, I really need to go”s, after six weeks of waxing hopefulness and waning patience… Alexander Lightwood had asked to spend the night with him.

Well, more accurately, he’d asked: “W-would it, ah. Be alright if… You can say no, but I thought maybe- um. I wanted… Could I stay… here? Tonight?” It had taken him a good twenty seconds to spit it all out. And he’d turned the most precious shade of pink as he’d done it.

Magnus is smiling just thinking about it.

He’d been so shy. Yes, Alec is still shy about most things - particularly anything that’s new for him - but with this, he’d been…

Nervous. As though he thought Magnus might actually say no. As though Magnus might have actually said no to Alexander asking to share his bed. The mere thought is laughable.

But Magnus hadn’t laughed. He’d just smiled, and said “That would be nice.”

And then Alexander had nervously tried to hide a smile, and quietly said “Really?” And Magnus had damn near lost his mind.

It’s one of the things he’ll remember. He’s certain of that. Even though it’s only been a month and a half, he already knows that there are many things he’s going to remember about Alexander Lightwood.

Magnus still hasn’t opened his eyes. And he’s not going to. Not yet. He’s going to savor this. Savor these last few moments, the last moments of his life where he doesn’t know what it’s like to wake up next to Alec. Magnus imagines what he’ll look like. Whether he’ll still be sleeping peacefully, wrapped up in crimson sheets (which look so exquisite against his skin), or if he’ll already be awake, groggily blinking sleep from his breathtaking eyes. The timing of Alexander’s usual ‘Good morning’ texts have left Magnus with the impression that Alec is a much earlier riser than he is, so maybe he’s already wide awake. And just lying there, watching Magnus feign sleep.

The anticipation becomes too much. Magnus slowly opens his eyes.

The bedroom is bright, filled with sunshine - which must mean the door is open and the light is streaming in from the living room windows. Magnus is facing the wall, facing away from the body heat next to him. Once his eyes have fully adjusted to the bright morning, he turns over, already smiling, pulse fluttering eagerly-

Chairman Meow is sleeping on the pillow next to him. Just Chairman Meow. No one else.

Well, that’s certainly an anticlimax.

Magnus glances around the room, but to his immense disappointment, Alexander is nowhere to be seen.

Anticlimax indeed.

The bathroom door is open and the light is off. Magnus pauses for a moment, but he can’t hear any noise coming from outside the bedroom.

This might just be the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.

He knows Alec hasn’t left. Hell, with how much of a struggle it was for him to ask to stay, Magnus assumes it’ll be quite an experience getting him to leave. The poor dear was so worried that his presence might be an inconvenience that he probably won’t leave without making some ridiculous display of gratitude, making his stay somehow worthwhile to Magnus (like his mere existence doesn’t already have that covered). He’s probably out on the balcony washing the windows at this very moment. The thought, while ridiculous, is unbearably sweet.

That being said, the thought that Magnus might have to leave his cushy, warm bed before he gets to see Alec is downright horrific. He’d spent all damn night anticipating how incredible it would be to wake up next to a warm, sleepy Alec Lightwood, and he’s not at all pleased to find that he’s been robbed of his just-woken-up cuddling. It’s cruel, really. Horribly cruel.

Right as he’s about to start complaining about his awful predicament to Chairman Meow, there’s a faint noise. A clatter that echoes in from somewhere far away in the loft. It might be - the noise happens again, louder this time - it sounds like it might be a cupboard closing. Magnus waits, holding his breath, as the noise happens yet again…

And is followed by the sound of footsteps.

Soft, hesitant footsteps. Bare feet on wood floors. Walking through the loft, and-

Oh, yes.

Coming closer.

All of his previous attempts to emotionally prepare himself for the sight of early-morning Alec prove completely useless, because he feels his heartbeat quicken as the footsteps get closer, which is just pathetic, honestly. But he can’t make himself care because Alexander comes into view, standing in the doorway, and-

Magnus inhales sharply.

Alec obviously wasn’t expecting Magnus to be awake, because he takes a hesitant sort of half-step backward, eyes a little wide. His hair is a mess, mussed in every direction, flat on one side where his head had rested on Magnus’s pillow. He doesn’t really look sleepy per se, but there’s something about his posture, something unusually lax and sloppy, like the soldier in him hasn’t quite woken up yet.

And he’s wearing nothing but his horrific black boxers. Magnus feels a little guilty, because Alec wasn’t planning on being on display like this, and he’s still not terribly comfortable with being undressed in front of him. But Magnus is weak, and he can’t resist letting his eyes roam over a sight like this.

Everything about Alexander is long and lean, carefully maintained to utter perfection. Muscles that fit his frame so beautifully, not looking bulky or excessive, just… capable. Alexander’s physique doesn’t really make him look ‘strong’. That word implies danger and bravado and a careless roughness. None of that describes Alec. His body doesn’t look rough at all. He looks careful. Prepared. Ready to protect, to do what he has to do, but never to be reckless about it. Never to be powerful just for the sake of it, even though there’s clearly so much power coiled up in his body. He doesn’t show off any of it. He keeps it hidden, somehow. It’s amazing how he can be so tall, so toned, yet still hold himself like he’s small. Insignificant. It’s unusual to see so little presence from someone who looks like this.

Hell, it’s unusual to see anyone who looks like this at all. Magnus has long been a connoisseur of the human form, but Alexander… He is something else. The broad expanse of his chest, the enticing pattern of his runes, the honest-to-god washboard abs, the perfect little trail of hair that draws Magnus’s eyes down his stomach, following where it disappears into the waistband of those hideous boxers, all the way down to the longest goddamn legs Magnus has ever seen-

Fuck the thank-you card. Whoever is responsible for this boy is getting one of those baskets of fruit that’s shaped like flowers.

Magnus lets himself look Alec over once more, experimentally, just to see if… No. It doesn’t matter. No matter where his eyes happen to land on Alexander’s body, he wants to get his mouth on it. He knows he’ll never be truly satisfied until he tastes every goddamn inch of him.

Magnus realizes that the smile on his face is starting to feel downright predatory (which would explain the quickly-increasing color in Alec’s cheeks), so he takes a deep breath to calm himself.

“Good morning, Alexander,” he says lightly, and he’s a little too proud of himself for not making any comment about how damn edible Alec looks right now.

But Alec swallows visibly and averts his gaze, like ‘good morning’ somehow counts as utterly scandalous flirtation. “Um… hi.”

God.

God.

It should be illegal for a grown man to be this fucking cute.

‘Hi.’

Just a handful of hours ago, Alexander had come all over Magnus’s face, and now the first thing he can think of to say is ‘hi’. It’s enough to turn Magnus’s calm smile into a ridiculous grin.

“I feel I must point out,” Magnus says, making sure his voice is clearly teasing, “that it’s more than a little disappointing to fall asleep next to a gorgeous young man, and wake up with only a lousy cat in my bed.” He’ll apologize to Chairman Meow for that later.

Alec’s eyes widen, and Magnus isn’t sure if he doesn’t realize he was being teased, or if this is just how he responds to a gentle joke. “I- uh. Well, I… I’ve-” He clears his throat, and Magnus’s heart flops around in his chest. “I’ve been awake for a while. And I- I… ah. I thought it’d be,” Alec’s hand waves uselessly at his side, in that adorable way it does when he can’t get his words sorted out fast enough. “I thought it’d be… nice. To make breakfast? Or something?” His gaze drops back down to his own feet. “But that was too… much. I didn’t want to mess up your kitchen or anything. So I thought I could just make coffee, that’d still be. Nice.” He brings his hand up to the back of his head, like he’s either scratching at his scalp or tugging at his hair. “But, ah, then I realized…”

“That I don’t have a coffee maker?” Magnus suggests with a playful smirk.

And Alec laughs. Just once. One quiet, embarrassed laugh as his hand drops to his side. “Yeah. That.” There’s a lopsided little smile on his face. “And I didn’t know what else to do, so I just… came back. In here.”

“Well, it’s a good thing that you did.” Magnus stretches a little, trying to get the sleepy crick out of his back. And if the movement happens to tug the sheet a little further down his bare torso… and if Alexander’s gaze happens to slip down with it… well. That’s hardly Magnus’s fault. “Something you should know about me is that I require many kisses before I can properly get out of bed.” He raises one eyebrow, hoping he’s successfully skirting the line between ‘enticing’ and ‘bold enough to scare Alec away permanently’.

To his utter delight, Alec blushes a beautiful shade of pink, covering him in uneven patches from his chest all the way to his ears. It’s terribly endearing. Honestly, Magnus only mentioned kissing. By now, kissing really should be familiar enough to be comfortable (at least comfortable enough to not get a reaction like this). But Magnus understands that this is a wildly different context than Alexander is used to, and the poor darling must feel completely wrong-footed.

As if to confirm this, Alec’s hand goes back to his head, just one of his many nervous tics that is so inexplicably charming. “I…” His mouth drops open, and his jaw moves a little, but no sound comes out. His blush only seems to intensify. “That’s probably not… I, um. I have really bad morning breath.”

And, well, Magnus can’t resist. “Morning breath? Are you sure?” He lifts himself up on one elbow and holds out his other hand toward Alec, grinning. “Here, let me check for you.” All in all, it’s not the suavest pick-up line he’s ever used…

But it pays off beautifully, because Alexander laughs, startled and loud and so wonderfully pleased. Magnus still isn’t sure what he’s done to deserve hearing a sound like this, but it’s not as though he’s going to complain.

However, even though he’s laughing easily and his blush is starting to fade, Alec doesn’t actually move. He’s dawdling in the doorway, shifting a little from foot to foot, looking so awkward and uncertain and hopeful and goddammit, Magnus has been careful to respect all of Alexander’s boundaries so far but if he doesn’t get his adorable ass in this bed soon Magnus is going to magic up a lasso and drag him in.

That ends up not being necessary, because Alexander mercifully doesn’t linger by the door much longer. With a faint, almost shy smile, he walks over to the bed. Unfortunately, he doesn’t immediately lie down right on top of Magnus and start kissing him breathless (which is what Magnus would prefer). He just stands next to the bed, rests one knee on the mattress, and takes Magnus’s outstretched hand. And while it might not be exactly what Magnus was hoping for, that small bit of contact somehow manages to outdo all of his expectations.

Alec moves forward a bit, like he’s going to lean down and finally do something about how tragically un-kissed and un-cuddled Magnus is right now, but then he stops. He just stands there, half-kneeling on the bed, gently holding Magnus’s hand, and looking at him. His eyes wander slowly across Magnus’s face, like he’s really taking in the sight of him, somehow looking like he’s seeing him for the first time.

Ah. Of course.

Alexander has never seen him in the morning before.

Which means he’s never seen the smeared, cracked, caked mess of unwashed makeup before. Or the bedhead - which can get downright epic with the amount of product Magnus uses. Yes, Magnus usually cleans himself up before bedtime, because he’s civilized like that.

But last night, there was something more… important to be doing.

He smirks. There was someone more important to be doing.

He’s a night showerer by nature, but unless Alexander was going to get into the shower with him (and Magnus knows damn well he’s not comfortable enough for that yet), it just wasn’t worth it. So he hadn’t washed any of it off. Yes, most of his lipstick ended up somewhere on Alec’s body before the night was over, but apart from that, it’s all still on his face.

It’s probably quite a sight.

And not in a charming, ‘oh, you look pretty regardless’ sort of way. Not in an artistic, stylized way, like how the movies always portray the morning-after glow. Not carefully mussed hair, and one smear of mascara in just the right spot. This is nothing like that.

This is a disaster.

Magnus hasn’t actually seen himself, but he doesn’t need a mirror to know that he’s got raccoon eyes and hair that looks like it’s been in a tornado. There’s nothing cute about this.

But that awareness just makes him smile, smile at Alexander’s adorably dumbfounded expression.

Because this is an honor.

Well, that word might be a touch dramatic. It’s more of a… privilege. It’s a privilege to get to see Magnus like this. Only a handful of people have ever been allowed to see him look this disheveled, this bad. It’s certainly not allowed to any of his casual encounters or one night stands (if they even end up staying until morning - which is hardly a guarantee - Magnus has a strict policy of waking up before them to carefully fix his appearance). But even in his more serious relationships, it’s always a significant moment. A step. One that Magnus considers as carefully as any other step in a relationship.

It’s not that Magnus is embarrassed. He burned out his ability to feel shame a few hundred years ago. It’s just not something he wants to be general knowledge. People don’t need to be aware that the High Warlock of Brooklyn is an actual person under the exquisite facade. He knows perfectly well that his carefully cultivated mystique is a large part of his power - or at least how his power is perceived. There’s no point in weakening his image by letting any passer-by see him with bedhead, like some sort of normal human.

But Alexander Lightwood is no passer-by.

It should be frightening, really, how eager Magnus is for Alec to see him like this. Not just ‘this’ in the literal sense, the smeared makeup and messy hair, but ‘this’ in the bigger, metaphorical sense. He’s eager for Alec to see him in an open, honest sort of way. He wants Alec to see him as a person, in the simplest terms. It should be downright terrifying to feel like this. And in some sense, he supposes it is.

It’s almost like a joke. A grand, cosmic joke. Because after spending an unfortunately lengthy portion of his lengthy life trying to convince the nephilim that he’s worthy of respect, after centuries trying to prove that he isn’t just a convenient parlor trick, that he’s powerful, that he’s a force to be reckoned with…

He’d met Alexander Lightwood.

Now suddenly there’s a shadowhunter who’s respected him from the first moment, who’s seen his magic - and not only does he not cower away from it, he actually works with it - and acknowledges his ability. After centuries of the same bullshit, there’s a shadowhunter who honestly respects him as a warlock.

And all Magnus wants to do is tear that down. To rip off every layer of the High Warlock that he’s crafted so meticulously and just be a person again. Alexander is a reversal of everything Magnus has ever known. A shadowhunter who acknowledges his power. A shadowhunter who sees Magnus as an equal. No, not even that. He sees Magnus as some sort of… better. He thinks Magnus is too good for him. Alexander Lightwood is a nephilim who honestly thinks that he’s unworthy of the affection of a downworlder.

Alexander Lightwood is an impossibility.

The idea of this beautiful, beautiful boy thinking he’s unworthy of anyone is enough to make Magnus’s blood boil. He’s spent centuries trying to convince nephilim that no, they aren’t special, they aren’t Raziel’s gift to the world, they don’t inherently deserve a moment of Magnus’s time…  and now here he is, absolutely desperate to convince a young shadowhunter (and a Lightwood at that) just how much he’s worth.

And that most certainly includes the privilege of seeing Magnus look like a trainwreck first thing in the morning. Magnus thinks Alec might be more worthy of this particular sight than anyone else who’s seen it.

Because it’s been almost a full minute now, and Alec still hasn’t stopped looking. He’s still resting against the bed, holding Magnus’s hand, looking at him. And he looks so serious about it. Well, Alec tends to look serious about damn near everything, but this is different. This is the look he gets when he truly focuses on something. When he knows something is important. It’s enough to make Magnus think that maybe, just maybe, he might understand the significance of what Magnus is letting him see. Alexander has always been too perceptive for his own good, even if he doesn’t realize it. It wouldn’t surprise Magnus at all for him to understand something like this without having to be told.

The moment continues to stretch out, and Alec’s gorgeous eyes keep traveling steadily across Magnus’s face, taking in every detail. There’s a brief moment where his gaze makes it down to Magnus’s chest, but then-

Oh, darling. Sweetheart.

Alexander’s face colors right up again, in those charming, mismatched splotches of red. And his eyes snap down to the carpet, avoiding Magnus entirely, almost… like he’s guilty.

Like he’s guilty for looking too eagerly at Magnus’s bare flesh, quite possibly because said flesh is absolutely covered in hickeys. Darling, precious Alexander is too embarrassed to look at the hickeys he’d put on Magnus with his own damn mouth not twelve hours ago. It’s enough to make Magnus’s stomach churn with butterflies.

And if Alexander doesn’t put him out of his misery and fucking kiss him soon, he’s going to-

The rest of that thought becomes irrelevant, because Alec’s lower lip briefly disappears between his teeth. And that’s his tell. Magnus isn’t sure if it’s an attempt to wet his lips, or yet another one of his nervous tics, but he knows by now that it means a kiss is mere seconds away.

Those seconds feel like sweet agony as Alec starts to lean in. He’s still half-standing, and Magnus is still propped up on one elbow, so there’s quite a bit of distance between them. Far too much distance, Magnus realizes, as it seems to take ages for Alec to get anywhere near him. And while patience is one of Magnus’s more refined virtues, this is neither the time nor the place for it. So he straightens the bent arm that’s propping him up, pushing up until he’s almost sitting. It gets him significantly closer to Alexander’s lips, but still not quite there.

Much to his dismay, Alec responds by letting go of Magnus’s hand. For a moment, he’s afraid that he’d somehow managed to misread the situation (which shouldn’t really be possible, since he’d flat-out asked for a kiss, hadn’t he?).

But apparently, Alec just needed his hands for other purposes. Because he brings one to the side of Magnus’s face, his fingers resting right below Magnus’s jaw, his thumb softly brushing across Magnus’s cheek. And he lifts the other up to Magnus’s hair, hesitating for a moment, before trailing his fingers through the mess, stopping when he gets caught in tangles and-

Smiling. Smiling a bright, crooked smile. As he gently combs his fingers through Magnus’s bedhead.

“Alexander,” Magnus whispers, because it suddenly feels like he's going to suffocate if he doesn't say something.

Alec’s eyes dart to Magnus’s lips. But, infuriatingly, he still doesn’t move. Regardless of the situation, Alec is still so terribly cautious about initiating kisses. He does do it, eventually, but it always takes such a to-do. Magnus doesn’t know if it’s that he needs to gather the courage, or if he just really enjoys drawing out the pre-kiss anticipation as long as he can…

Or quite possibly, if he’d used up all of his initiative on the first go. It’d be understandable to think that initiating his first ever kiss by stopping his own wedding and locking lips with a downworlder (and a male one at that) in front of his parents and all of Christendom might have depleted Alexander’s moxy. It may take him a while yet to replenish his supply of gumption.

That being said, he’s been cradling Magnus’s face in his warm hands and slowly leaning in for what feels to be about twenty years now. Magnus certainly wouldn’t mind him showing a bit more assertiveness.

But it’s hard to be too upset when Alexander’s fingers bury a little more firmly in Magnus’s hair. Right as his eyes are fluttering closed. And his lips are parting, ever so slightly…

There’s certainly something to be said for a truly skillful build up of anticipation, because the very instant he feels Alexander’s lips touch his, Magnus whimpers. He actually whimpers at this chaste kiss, this kiss so gentle that they’re hardly even making contact. But this is the kiss he’s been waiting for since he first woke up. Hell, he’s been waiting a lot longer than that. He’s been waiting for six weeks now. Waiting for this.

The Good Morning kiss. Alexander’s first Good Morning kiss.

And… well. It’s certainly worth the wait. It’s the kind of kiss you’d write about in a diary.

Hm. Magnus might start keeping a diary just so he can write about this kiss.

Magnus’s lower lip is between Alec’s, but it’s not an open kiss. And while it’s plenty nice as it is, Magnus can’t help but worry that Alexander is genuinely embarrassed about morning breath. And Magnus certainly can’t have that. So he parts his lips, just enough to touch the tip of his tongue to Alec’s upper lip. It’s not insistent, just an offer.

Alexander freezes, inhaling through his nose. But after a moment’s hesitation, he breaks the kiss, tilts his face to the other side, and comes back in for another. And this time, his mouth is open.

Magnus groans his approval of the new situation and immediately brushes his tongue against Alec’s. He can’t help but smile a little into the kiss, because, yes, there’s definitely a sour tang. But with Alexander enthusiastically licking further into his mouth and moaning against his lips, it’s not as though Magnus actually cares.

After a few moments, Magnus realizes that it can hardly be very comfortable for Alec to be leaning over the bed like this, straining his neck to stoop far enough. Magnus wants to encourage him to find a nicer position without having to take his mouth away long enough to speak, so he starts lowering himself back down onto the bed, making sure the movement is slow enough that Alexander won’t accidentally think that he’s trying to pull away from him. His intentions are purely altruistic. He’s only trying to make Alexander comfortable, he’s not using it as an excuse to get him horizontal, or to encourage things to go further than Alec wants-

But apparently his intentions are meaningless, because as soon as he starts leaning back, Alexander outright smothers him. With a deep, throaty groan, he just sort of… collapses forward onto the bed. He settles himself between Magnus’s legs and presses him into the mattress and kisses him so fucking deeply that Magnus literally can’t breathe.

For a moment, Magnus is so goddamn stunned (because honestly, Alexander just pounced on him) that all he can do is lie there. But once his body catches up with his mind and gets with the program, he arches up against Alexander’s body. He lifts his legs to wrap them around Alec’s waist-

Right. He’s still covered in the fucking sheet. There’s a traitorous layer of silk separating their lower bodies, and the separation is torturous.

Alec catches on instantly, and tries to kick the sheet away, but only succeeds in getting it tangled up in his legs. “Dammit,” he mutters, his movements getting more and more flail-y in the struggle. “Dammit,” he repeats, louder this time, followed by breathless laughter.

Magnus lets him uselessly fight the sheet for a few more moments. Because his laugh is just so charming, and it’s making Magnus laugh right along with him. When Alexander finally gives up and inelegantly flops down on top of Magnus in limp surrender, Magnus finally takes pity on him. He snaps his fingers, and the sheet disappears for a moment, like a flicker, a glitch in its existence. With a flash of blue, it reappears, this time on top of both of them, instead of between them. Magnus would prefer to send the thing halfway to Jersey, but he knows Alexander still isn’t comfortable feeling too exposed. Magnus thinks he might appreciate a little something to cover him up, even if it’s only from the waist down.

Alec is still laughing, little giggles interspersed with gasping breaths, but he quiets down when the sheet gently lands on him. He glances down at it, then looks at Magnus…

With a small, devastatingly sincere smile.

Well. Gesture appreciated, then.

With the obstacle of the sheet successfully circumvented, Magnus uses his freedom of mobility to lazily twine his ankles around the backs of Alexander’s legs. Not quite enough to pull their bodies together entirely, but enough to keep him close. With a gentle smirk, he trails one hand up Alec’s arm, grazing his skin lightly, not stopping until his fingers are buried in Alec’s messy hair. And he lets his other arm flop dramatically to the side, trying to communicate ‘Just fucking ravish me already’ as clearly as possible.

Of course, that one movement, that one little flop of his arm is what finally disturbs Chairman Meow, who has apparently been perfectly content to lie next to Magnus’s head during all this smooching. The voyeuristic little furball. He springs to his feet, trying his best to hiss even though he’s just woken up and the sound is distinctly sleepy.

“Oh, go on. Shoo.” Magnus pokes Chairman Meow’s side gently to encourage him to get down from the bed. “This doesn’t concern you anyway.”

Chairman Meow turns sharply, flicking his extremely fluffy tail right in Magnus’s face. But Magnus supposes he deserves it, for kicking him out of his bed. After all, Chairman Meow has been sleeping with him for almost a year. Alexander’s only slept with him once. Magnus hates to admit it, but the cat clearly has seniority.

Nonetheless, Chairman Meow leaps lightly from the bed and scampers out into the loft, tail swishing wildly to make sure his displeasure is obvious.

“Now,” Magnus says with a dry chuckle, “where were w-mphf-”

Alexander dives back in, kissing Magnus fiercely before he can even finish the question.

Magnus makes a surprised in the back of his throat, which unfortunately makes Alec pull away, like he’s afraid he’s done something wrong. As soon as his lips are free, Magnus quickly says, “Yes, that seems about right,” and reels him back in.

Alec must be a little thrown, because he’s laughing against Magnus’s mouth. He makes an effort to really participate in the kiss, nipping at Magnus’s lower lip and running one hand down Magnus’s side… but the little bubbles of laughter make it difficult, throwing him adorably off-balance.

That is, until he grabs Magnus’s thigh and hitches it up against his waist. Because that’s when he finally lowers himself down all the way, finally gives in and really grinds their bodies together-

Alec gasps, breaking away from the kiss to glance down, eyes a little wide.

Which seems like a bit of an overreaction to Magnus. Alexander may be inexperienced, but he certainly had to be aware that morning wood is a thing. Magnus has been somewhere around half-hard since he woke up, and Alexander’s enthusiastic kisses have been more than enough to make his cock strain against the confines of his pretty satin panties.

But Alec clearly just wasn’t expecting it, because he’s frozen over Magnus. And he’s blushing again, the color deepening with every passing second. And if Alexander’s blood is going to be rushing anywhere right now, Magnus certainly doesn’t think it should be to his face.

Although…

These circumstances are new for Alec. Magnus has to keep reminding himself of that. Yes, Alec has gotten very comfortable with stopping things when he wants them to stop, and by now they’ve both developed a fairly in-tune physical shorthand for slowing things down before they can get too intense. But this is the first time Alec has spent the morning with him, the first time he’s woken up after a night of truly wonderful sex, and the first time he’s initiated a kiss and found Magnus already hard for him. Magnus can’t help but worry that Alexander might feel somewhat… obligated, by the nature of the situation. They’ve already had sex once since Alec’s been here, and now they’re starting off the morning already undressed and aroused, already several steps into their usual progression of intimacy. It might just be enough to make Alec think that he’s not allowed to say no, that the rules of this new scenario require him to take things further. Further than he may want.

Then again, he might just be surprised that there’s suddenly a hard, barely-clothed dick for him to grind against.

But… just in case. Just in case there’s anything unsavory rattling around in Alec’s brain, Magnus takes stock of the situation, and tries to make it as easy to de-escalate as possible. Alexander is still holding Magnus’s leg, still keeping it hooked around his waist, but Magnus untangles his other leg and lets it rest to the side. Normally, when he wants to let Alec decide if they’re going to take things further, he makes sure they’re both lying on their sides. He’s found that it’s the easiest position for Alexander to slowly pull away from, since it’s so easy to switch from a good make-out session to gentle cuddling like that. So he nudges his leg against Alec’s waist, trying to use the leverage he already has to tip them over-

And the moment he presses against him, Alexander unfreezes. He gives a helpless whine, and ducks down to kiss Magnus again. Hard. Deep and desperate and delicious. And he grinds his hips against Magnus’s, gasping like he’s shocked by the pleasure of his own action.

Well then. Apparently he’s not interested in slowing things down.

Fair enough. Magnus certainly doesn’t mind.

Reassured that Alec is comfortable with what they’re doing, Magnus finally lets himself go a little. Both of his legs wrap nice and tight around Alec’s waist, heels pressing into his spectacular ass, encouraging him to rut as hard and fast as his heart desires. Magnus keeps one hand thoroughly tangled in Alec’s hair, and slips the other one under Alec’s arm, so he can run his fingers along the shape of Alec’s spine - and every now and then, so he can rake his nails down Alec’s back and hear the enchanting noise he makes in response.

It all falls into place so quickly. Shockingly quickly, if Magnus thinks about it. In what can only be a handful of seconds, they’ve already established a perfect rhythm. Rocking and thrusting against each other, both hard in their underwear (and that certainly hadn’t taken very long for Alexander, now had it?), kissing in a way that’s so passionate it’s downright sinful… but still doesn’t feel frantic at all. It feels…

Comfortable. So delectably comfortable.

This is it.

This is what Magnus had been missing. For so long.

He doesn’t dislike being single. Actually, in many ways, he prefers it. But there are some things, some small details of being in a relationship that he just hasn’t been able to replicate in any other context.

And this is one of them. The easy, relaxed intimacy that only comes from familiarity. There’s something almost casual about it, which is strange, because he’s only ever been able to find it in non-casual sex. It takes all the physical intensity of really, really great fucking, but with none of the urgency. None of the expectation. None of the capacity for disappointment. For Magnus, the best casual sex in the world can’t possibly compete with the feeling of this, this moment, right now.

There’s no substitute for knowing someone like this. Yes, he and Alexander are very much still getting to know each other, still learning each other’s physical preferences (and for Alexander, learning his own preferences), but there’s so much that they’ve already established. And there’s something so comforting to Magnus about already knowing exactly where to scrape his teeth on Alexander’s neck to make him gasp. Or knowing that even the lightest touch to his nipple will make him-

“Ah! Magnus…

Yeah, just like that.

Magnus could easily let the entire day go by without stopping. They must spend a good fifteen minutes like that. Alexander lying over Magnus, his hands everywhere, kissing him so beautifully, his whole body arching in a continuous wave as he thrusts their hips together so deliciously slowly, only ever breaking away to groan out Magnus’s name…

It’s paradise, really. Simple as that.

However, while a few hundred years have given Magnus impeccable control over his physical needs, by the time they near the twenty-five minute mark, he can’t help but wonder if this is as far as they’re going to get. He’ll be completely fine if Alexander doesn’t want any more than this, but he’d like to know sooner rather than later either way.

So he uses the usual method. He breaks away from Alec’s mouth, trailing sloppy kisses down his cheek. Alec must get the idea, because he tilts his head back, giving Magnus easy access to his neck. And since Magnus can never quite resist his defense rune - such a perfect little design across Alexander’s throat that it might as well be a goddamn ‘Lick Here’ sign - he attaches his lips to it immediately. After grazing it with his teeth, he lets himself suck, just a little bit, not only because a bruise wouldn’t be visible here, but because Alec’s runes are all so sensitive, just a little bit of teasing is enough to make Alec whimper above him.

Normally, he’ll indulge himself for a few more moments, to get Alexander really worked up. Worked up enough that no matter what he wants, no matter how forward or selfish or dirty it may seem to him, he has the courage to say it, because he’s so damn desperate. By now, Magnus can tell exactly when Alec starts writhing just enough to let him know that it’s the right moment. That he can ask, ‘What do you want, Alexander?’ ‘What do you want me to do?’ ‘How do you want me, Alec?’ And Alec will choke out whatever he’s been too shy to ask for himself.

It takes less than a minute for Alec to reach that point. He stops thrusting against Magnus, and just sort of grinds his hips down instead, like he can’t control his body. One of his hands is squeezing Magnus’s arm, so tightly that it’s almost starting to hurt. And he’s exhaling these tiny little sighs, over and over again, with every breath.

Magnus smirks against Alec’s throat, and gives his rune one last little lick. He opens his mouth to speak-

“Wh-What you did… last night,” Alec stammers between shaky gasps, before Magnus can even get a word out. “I want… Could you- would you want to…?”

Last night. Last night was the first time that Magnus had…

Oh, this is… This is Christmas morning. This is a candy store, this is a goddamn dream come true.

Magnus tightens the hold that he still has in Alec’s hair, and uses his grip to tilt Alec’s face. Just far enough for Magnus to bring his lips right against Alec's ear. “You want me to use my mouth?” he whispers, and it takes a ridiculous amount of self-control to keep his voice low and even. It won’t do to let any of his desperate eagerness come through in his tone.

And dear, sweet Alexander moans so loudly. Just at the words. Magnus can’t even comprehend how much Alec must want this, since this is the first time he’s actually asked for something without being prompted. And something he wants Magnus to do to him, no less. Alec has always been far more eager to please Magnus than to let Magnus please him. While he definitely understands that sex is a give-and-take, he’s still trying to really grasp the take part of it.

And now here he is, flat-out asking Magnus for a blowjob. Only a handful of hours after receiving one for the very first time. Magnus can’t help but feel a small flicker of pride at that. He knows sucking dick is one of his specialities, but it’s always nice to know his talent is truly appreciated.

But Alec didn’t actually answer his question. And Magnus may be nice, but he can’t pass up an opportunity like this. He keeps his hand in Alec’s hair, keeps Alec’s ear to his lips, and slowly arches up against his body. “Do you want me to suck you off, Alexander?”

Alec sounds almost hurt, crying out and whimpering frantically. “If- oh fuck- if you…” he gasps, “if you want to.”

This boy is too precious to be real.

And yet… that still isn’t technically an answer. Not the answer Magnus wants, anyway.

He sucks Alec’s earlobe between his teeth, giving it just enough of a nibble to leave a nice sting. And he’s rewarded with a truly lovely groan. “Alexander,” he whispers again, licking delicately at Alec’s ear between words, “do you want it?”

And then he finally pulls away, because he has a sneaky suspicion that he’ll want to see this.

Unsurprisingly, he's right.

Alexander is flushed from head to toe, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and gasping for each breath. He’s exquisite. He’s a work of art. And he’s desperate. Magnus knows it still isn’t easy for him to say things like this, but he’s getting better about it, and Magnus will do just about anything to encourage him. Even if it means he has to embarrass him a little along the way. He certainly looks plenty embarrassed now. But Magnus doesn’t relent. He just looks at him, waiting patiently (even though he’s probably as excited about this as Alexander is). And, to give him a bit more incentive, Magnus opens his mouth and slowly runs his tongue across his lower lip.

Alec’s eyes flutter closed with a pained whimper. “Fuck, yes. Yes, please yes, Magnus. I want you to- please, I want you to suck me off. I want it-”

“Darling,” Magnus moans, unable to keep himself from lurching up to kiss Alec as deeply as he can. Because that… that was the most beautiful thing he’s ever heard. Ever. Ever. Four hundred years and change, and nothing has ever sounded so gorgeous.

The casual intimacy Magnus had been so pleased with before has dissipated entirely. This is frantic. This is urgent. This is the most important thing that’s ever happened, and it needs to happen now.

This time, when Magnus starts to push Alexander over, he goes willingly, looping an arm around Magnus’s waist and flipping them in one smooth movement. Alec spreads his legs the moment his back hits the mattress, pushing his hips up, doing everything he possibly can to try and encourage Magnus further down.

Well, Magnus certainly doesn’t need to be told twice. Hell, in a situation like this, he barely needs to be told once.

His first impulse is to shimmy down the bed and get Alec’s cock into his mouth immediately, possibly without even taking off his boxers first. But there’s a way these things are done. And he certainly wants to use best form. Only the best for Alexander. Always.

So he exercises amazing self-control, and starts at Alec’s chest. Normally, he’d start at the neck, but he’s already given that plenty of attention this morning, so he figures he can be forgiven for overlooking it now. The collarbone will do just fine as a starting point.

Alexander certainly seems to agree, because at the first touch of Magus’s tongue to his skin, he hisses through his teeth, slow and sharp.

It’s a fair start, but Magnus knows they can do better than that.

He leaves a trail of sloppy, wet kisses across Alec’s chest, more tongue than lips, really. He spends a significantly longer time on each of his nipples, kissing and licking and biting and touching and doing every damn thing he can think of, because he knows it’ll leave Alexander positively incoherent.

And he’s proven absolutely right. From the sound of it, Alec can barely even breathe. It sometimes sounds like he’s trying to speak, but nothing understandable ever comes out, except…

Once or twice, Magnus gets to hear his name. He gets to hear Alexander groan and gasp his name.

It’s been a long time since Magnus has been with someone who made him lose his hold over his magic. Normally, it’s like any other voluntary action, something he chooses to do. His magic obeys his desires.

Until it doesn’t. When he loses control, it’s like… a reflex. Like gasping when something startles him. It’s an involuntary reflex in response to particularly shocking pleasure. A small wave of magic pulses out from- from wherever his magic is kept inside him, he’s not entirely sure. And it’s directionless. It does things sometimes, but not because Magnus wants it to. It’s an indiscriminate burst of power. He’s worked hard over the years to control it, because honestly, it’s a little dangerous. He can still remember the first orgasm he’d ever had - when he’d been so stunned that he accidentally cracked every window in a half-mile radius. That certainly hasn’t happened again. For the most part, nothing happens anymore. Because nothing surprises him anymore.

And then, of course, Alexander fucking Lightwood happened. And Magnus feels like the horny teenager he never was. Except instead of worrying about coming in his pants, he worries about blasting all the walls out of the building.

As if on cue, Alexander lets out a particularly filthy little moan. “Magnus, Magnus-” he makes a choking noise, like he accidentally swallowed the rest of his sentence. “Too much. It’s… fuck, it’s too good. Please, just… Please, Magnus.” And he writhes under Magnus’s mouth, like he’s simultaneously trying to move away and get more from him.

Magnus feels heat pool in his fingertips, like a magical gun being loaded, letting him know it’s ready to fire at any time. He forces the feeling down, taking a deep breath until the tingle dissipates from his hands. “Of course, sweetheart, I know,” he mutters, giving one last chaste kiss to Alec’s chest.

And he does know. He knows Alec must be trying to prevent a repeat of last night, of his first blowjob. Magnus had done his best to explain that no one has any stamina the first time they do anything, and that he shouldn’t expect to last very long. And sure enough, like every other human being in the history of the world, Alexander’s first blowjob lasted all of ninety seconds before he came, so goddamn suddenly that the majority of it had spattered across Magnus’s nose and cheek (to his utter delight, and to Alexander’s utter horror ). And despite all of Magnus’s warnings and assurances, the poor dear had been so terribly embarrassed about it.

Magnus wonders if that’s partly why he was so eager to do this again. As a chance to prove that he can last longer this time.

Well, Magnus has certainly given blowjobs for less noble purposes than that. He can’t really complain.

So he doesn’t tease Alexander any further, doesn’t get him any more wound up. On the contrary, he leans back a bit, putting an inch or two of distance between their bodies, giving him a chance to cool off. But because there really is a way these things are done, Magnus can’t keep himself from continuing his downward trail of kisses. However, these ones are significantly more innocent. He follows the line of Alexander’s abs (and what a lovely little path to follow), indulging himself by dipping his tongue lightly into his navel, until he finally reaches the top of his boxers.

Good lord, these boxers are atrocious.

Magnus can’t help but smile. At least he won’t be looking at them for long.

He’s kneeling between Alec’s spread legs, crouched over himself a little uncomfortably. But he doesn’t want to settle in just yet. He looks back up at Alec, steadying himself so he won’t be distracted by however phenomenal he might look right now-

Oh, shit. It’s worse than he expected.

Alexander is biting his lower lip, breathing heavily, his eyes lidded and so horribly eager.

God, this boy will be the death of him.

And Magnus is well aware that Alexander doesn’t even know. He has no goddamn clue how he looks right now. He probably doesn’t think he could be sexy if he tried.

But that’s the thing. He doesn’t try. Magnus doesn’t think he’s ever tried to be enticing, that he’s ever done anything in hopes of getting a reaction out of Magnus. Which means that everything he’s done that’s driven Magnus so goddamn crazy has been unintentional. He has no idea how goddamn fucking seductive it is for him to bite his lip like that, to give Magnus the slightest view of his tongue between his lips before shyly looking away. It’s all done so innocently. He has no idea how much power he has over Magnus.

So Magnus can’t even imagine how dangerous Alec will be when he figures it out. When he really knows how to push Magnus’s buttons. When he learns just the right way to bat his eyelashes, to swallow so his Adam's apple bobs in his sweat-glistened throat, to arch his back so his muscles strain just the slightest bit against his smooth skin…

Yes. Alexander Lightwood is going to become downright lethal one of these days.

Magnus is fucking doomed. And he can’t wait.

“Are you sure?” He forces himself to check one last time, because Alec looks so tense, like he might not be enjoying something.

Alec responds by sort of… thrashing his head a bit. It’s in the vague direction of a nod, but Magnus can’t tell…

“Please, please Magnus, please, pl-” his voice breaks off with a gasp.

Well. If Magnus thought Alexander saying his name was bad, all this begging is… is…

It’s something he’s going to have to exploit. Heavily.

But some other time. Not now.

Because making Alec beg for him until his voice gives out is an exquisite idea for some late night. But it’s just not right for morning sex. Especially Alexander’s first experience with morning sex. Morning sex is downright sacred to Magnus. And it’s meant to be soft, and sleepy, and easy. There’s no point in exhausting all of their energy before they’ve even had breakfast, after all.

Alexander is still working his throat, still groaning out these little noises that might be attempts at saying ‘please’ or ‘Magnus’. He’s damn near sobbing.

“Alright,” Magnus says gently, stroking his hands down Alec’s thighs to soothe him. “Alright, sweetheart. Shhh, I’ll take care of you.”

And Magnus finally settles himself in. He stretches out on his stomach, holding himself up on his elbows, right between Alec’s thighs.

These boxers are so worn and ill-fitting that there’s really nothing about them that can strain, but they’re certainly tented as hell. And the promise of what’s underneath is absolutely intoxicating.

But Magnus knows that while this isn’t the first time they’re doing this, it’s still different in one very important way. The light was off last night. And now, sunshine is flooding the room. Which means that this is the first time Alexander will really be naked in front of Magnus. He’s had his hands on Alexander’s cock plenty of times, and had it in his mouth last night, but he’s never really seen it. And he knows that’s intentional. Alec is horribly uncomfortable being exposed like this. Even when they’ve touched each other under the bedcovers, Alec has never once taken off his underwear. Last night, with no light in the bedroom whatsoever, he’d still only pushed his boxers down to his knees.

Well. That probably explains why it looks like every muscle in his body is tensed. His eyes are screwed shut, like he knows what’s about to happen, and he can’t bear to watch it.

It’s devastating.

Magnus had initially thought that it was some form of nephilim modesty, a sense that he’s supposed to be covered at all times, that he’s supposed to be decent. Then he’d thought it might just be the discomfort of inexperience. Alec’s never been naked in front of anyone, so of course it’s a little nerve-wracking at first.

But by now, Magnus has figured out that it’s something else entirely. Alexander isn’t uncomfortable with someone seeing his body, he’s uncomfortable with someone seeing his body.

Even if Magnus gets another four hundred years, he’ll never understand it.

It’s such a glaring disconnect between them. Possibly the only one they still have. It’s the one miscommunication they haven’t fixed yet. Something Magnus knows is an issue, but still hasn’t brought up. Because, for once, he doesn’t know what to say.

Because he doesn’t fucking understand how someone who looks like this, how someone this unbelievably beautiful, could possibly look at himself and not be able to see it. Magnus and Alec clearly see such different images when they look at Alec’s body. Try as he might to find whatever makes Alexander so unhappy, all Magnus can see when he looks at him is an angel.

He’s not sure how, but somehow, this must be the nephilim’s fault. The shadowhunters’ ass-backwards cultural constipation is what’s caused all of Alec’s other insecurities. So it only makes sense that they’re responsible for this one too. Someday, Magnus is going to figure it out.

But for now, he just ducks his head, pressing his lips to Alexander’s still-clothed hip. He knows that showering Alec’s body with affection isn’t a psychologically approved method of trying to deal with Alec’s self-image issues. But it certainly can’t hurt, which is enough of an excuse for Magnus to keep trying his damndest.

He’s just about to start slipping off Alexander’s boxers when he realizes that the sheet has been pushed off of them, and is bunched up around his calves. Well, it’s not much, but if it might give Alec a bit more security… Magnus reaches down and tugs the sheet back up and over his shoulders. It’s not going to cover Alec’s cock at all, but maybe having his legs covered will make him feel a little less naked.

He’s not sure if it helps at all, because Alexander’s body still feels so fucking tense. Magnus can’t bear the thought of him being this uncomfortable when he’s about to be pleasured, so he tries to give him a bit of relief first. He opens his mouth wide, and slowly runs it down the shape of Alexander’s cock, exhaling hot breath through the thin fabric of his boxers.

“Ah- fuck!” Alec’s hips jerk up against Magnus’s mouth, which he takes to be a good sign. And Magnus certainly does adore getting to hear him swear like that.

Alright.

He moves his mouth up to Alexander’s stomach. And he slowly, carefully slips his fingers into his boxers, pulling the fabric far enough to free Alec’s cock as he starts tugging them down his hips. Magnus feels the tip of Alec's cock brush against his jaw, smearing a drop of precome on Magnus’s skin, and it’s enough to make him moan.

Somehow, Alec manages to tense even further, until Magnus can feel him tremble beneath his hands. But after a moment of hesitation, Alec lifts his hips, letting Magnus shimmy the boxers all the way down his cock.

He feels so anxious, so frightened, it’s almost unbearable. So Magnus doesn’t pull the underwear any further. He lets it rest right below Alec’s cock, exposing him the least amount possible for what's about to happen. It means Alec can’t spread his legs very far, and Magnus’s mobility is limited a bit more than he’d like, but if it helps at all, it’s worth it.

Magnus isn’t sure if Alec is looking down at him, or if he’s still closing his eyes so he doesn’t have to see himself on display like this. But Magnus doesn’t look up to find out. Instead, he starts kissing down Alec’s pelvis, right next to his cock, close enough that it rubs against his face every time he moves. And even that small amount of friction is enough to keep Alexander breathing out the most lovely noises above him.

While he’s sensitive to the situation, and doesn’t want to exacerbate Alexander’s insecurities, Magnus really can’t do this without lifting his face and getting a good look at the cock he’s about to suck. He doesn’t want to draw this out or ogle Alec any more than he needs to, but even a brief glance is-

Fuck.

“Fuck,” he whispers.

He’d known that Alexander has a particularly exquisite cock just from feeling it, but actually getting to see it is… something else entirely.

There’s nothing he loves more than seeing a beautiful cock on a beautiful person. He’s all for self-love and self-confidence, but he’s met far too many people who are just a bit too smug about their nice dicks, which ruins the effect entirely in Magnus’s opinion. The prettiest dick in the world automatically becomes unattractive when it’s attached to someone who’s expecting Magnus to fawn over it. And why is it always dicks? It’s not as though he’s ever heard anyone brag about having a particularly beautiful vagina, even though Magnus has seen some truly gorgeous ones in his time. Somehow, it always seems like it’s pretty cocks that end up on horrid people.

Which is why moments like this are so goddamn delicious. Because Alexander Lightwood is the last person on earth who’d ever be egotistical about having such a gorgeous cock. Hell, with all of his obvious insecurities about his body, he probably doesn’t even realize it. The thought is downright tragic, because this truly belongs in the hall of fame for dicks.

Magnus had been planning on taking this nice and slow for Alec’s sake, but the moment he sets his eyes on this cock, the last of his restraint leaves him in a dizzying rush. Before he can even make the conscious decision to do anything, he’s leaned in and licked the little smear of precome right off the tip.

Above him, Alexander chokes on a surprised sound, and while it’s absolutely lovely, Magnus knows it’s just the start.

They’ve already had The Conversation, the one about safe sex and STDs and how yes, as a shadowhunter who deals with open wounds and blood and demons on a regular basis, Alec has still been exposed to possible diseases even though he’d never so much as kissed anyone before. And it had been just about the most awkward conversation Magnus has ever had, and he’s pretty sure Alexander had never been more embarrassed in his entire life. But, of course, it was worth it, because now they’re both tested, clean, and comfortable about making these decisions. Which is why Magnus doesn’t reach into the nightstand drawer for a condom.

If last night was any indication, Magnus doesn’t have much time to enjoy this. So he plans to make the best of what little time is allowed him, and gets to work right away. He takes Alexander’s cock in his hand and just… starts. He trails his tongue absolutely everywhere. Long, sloppy licks, tilting his face this way and that to make sure he gets everything sufficiently wet.

Pretty much right away, Magnus realizes that he’s going to have to try to not focus on all the noises Alec is making, because at this rate the sounds alone might be enough to make Magnus come in his panties, completely untouched, and that’s certainly not acceptable behavior for him. He’s supposed to be the experienced one in this relationship, what kind of example would that be setting?

But with Alexander gasping and groaning and whimpering like this… well. Magnus’s morning wood feels like it’s planning on sticking around til afternoon.

As soon as Alec’s cock is passably wet, Magnus closes his mouth around the head. He just works his lips around it for a moment, before hollowing his cheeks and really sucking enthusiastically-

“Magnus!” Alexander’s back arches off of the bed, and his legs give these jerking twitches under the sheet. If it weren’t for the confines of his pushed-down boxers, Magnus thinks he might actually start kicking.

And as Magnus slowly moves down, taking more and more and more of Alec’s cock into his mouth, it just gets better and better and better. Alec has admitted that he’s never seen any sort of pornography before (though Magnus still isn’t sure if that’s by choice, or if the Institute has some sort of impenetrable child-lock on their wifi), and - not for the first time - Magnus finds himself immensely appreciative of that fact. Because Alexander has never been told what to expect from sex. He’s never heard any fake or exaggerated moans to imitate. He’s never seen one person last for forty-five minutes in a multi-shot video before coming in six different angles. He’s never been shown that sex is supposed to be perfect, without little mistakes and hiccups, or that he’s supposed to enjoy every moment without complaint. He has absolutely no previous conceptions. Everything is discovered for himself. Which means that every damn reaction he gives is sincere. He’s completely genuine.

Which just makes everything that much more fantastic. Every throaty little cry, every odd little movement, it’s all… him.

And it’s all amazing.

By the time Magnus works up a real pace, and is steadily pumping his mouth up and down Alexander’s cock, he’s already lasted longer than he had last night. Which is lovely, of course, but also… it means Magnus has the opportunity to really get into it before it’s over. Which is dangerous. He’s afraid that once he starts, he’ll never want to stop again. Magnus distantly wishes that he’d asked Alexander to use a stamina rune. And… he wonders just how powerful those things really are. What does it do to the refractory period? Could he just… keep sucking? Suck Alec’s cock until he comes and suck him hard again and just over and over again in one never-ending blowjob? How many times could Alec come before it wears off? That’s…

That’s something Magnus will have to keep in mind. Not for now. But, someday. Maybe.

That idea must have gotten him a bit more excited than he’d planned, because he suddenly realizes that he’s bobbing his head significantly faster than he had been a few moments ago. And he’s gripping Alec’s hips, digging his fingers into his skin, and… hm. Moaning. Much louder than he should be. He’s being even louder than Alexander right now, and that’s just ridiculous. Alec’s noises are much more important to hear than his own.

“Ah… ngh- oh! Mag… Magnus…” Alexander’s hands pet ineffectively at Magnus’s hair, like he’s trying to grip it but can’t get his fingers to cooperate. It’s terribly adorable. But then they start getting more… insistent. And it’s not like petting anymore. It’s like… tapping? Alec may have a few unusual reactions, but this is particularly strange. Magnus doesn’t know what it means. That, coupled with the fact that his moans are getting a little tense-

“Magnus, s… s- s-ahhh,” he manages to fist one hand into Magnus hair, and he tugs sharply. “S-stop. Stop, Magnus, stop-”

Shit.

Magnus pulls away immediately, cursing himself for not realizing what Alec meant sooner. “Something wrong?” he asks instantly, ignoring the spit running down his chin and the fact that he's a little winded.

Alexander looks… focused. He’s looking down at Magnus with a little crease between his furrowed eyebrows. But he doesn’t look like he’s upset. “You… you just…” He clumsily brushes the back of one hand across Magnus’s cheek, trailing down to touch his neck. “It-it seems like, you. I don’t… I don’t want you to hurt your neck. Isn’t it sore like that? I could… sit up? Or stand? So you could… get more comfortable.”

He…

It takes a moment. But then, Magnus smiles. Broad and breathless.

Getting his dick sucked, all Alec can do is worry that Magnus might be getting a sore neck. That he might be uncomfortable. Alexander is… He’s an-

“Angel,” Magnus says quietly, still smiling up at him. “I’m fine.” And, because Alec doesn’t look at all convinced, “I promise. It’ll get uncomfortable eventually. But I’ll tell you when it does.” And, again, because Alec still doesn’t look at all convinced, “I promise, Alexander.” He lets his smile twist into a smirk. “I am having a wonderful time.”

Alec smiles, one of his quick smiles that’s there and gone in the blink of an eye. Like he’s embarrassed by it. Embarrassed to let himself be happy. “I… um. Yeah. Me- me too.” The smile comes back, and it sticks around this time. “You’re… you’re really good. At this. At…” he looks away, with a nervous chuckle. “You know.”

“Sucking your cock?” Magnus offers casually.

Alec throws his head back against the pillows with a groan. “Shit, don’t- don’t say stuff like… I’m already too close.”

Magnus clicks his tongue admonishingly. “Now now, there’s no such thing as ‘too close’, Alexander.” He laughs playfully as he licks his lips. “Allow me to demonstrate.”

And he swallows Alec’s cock down, in one movement, taking him all the way into the back of his throat.

Alec practically shouts before his voice dissolves into helpless little cries, and, fuck. It’s enough to make Magnus grind his own aching cock against the mattress for a hint of relief. He can feel magic gather in his fingers like static electricity, and it takes significantly more restraint than usual to get it to back off. Judging by the way Alec’s hips twitch under his hands, he thinks a few sparks might have gotten away from him. Oops.

Fingers twist into Magnus’s hair, but to Magnus’s extreme disappointment, they don’t grip tightly. Alec just rests his hands on Magnus’s head, feeling him bob up and down on his cock. Magnus suddenly wants nothing more than for Alexander to hold his head down and fuck his throat so roughly that he won’t be able to speak for a few days-

Not now. Someday. Maybe.

Besides, even if Alec actually wanted to do that now, he’s not going to have the time. Magnus can tell. He can feel the tension gathering in Alec’s thighs. He can hear the way Alec’s breath keeps catching, getting stuck in his throat every time he tries to inhale. And when he glances up, he can see Alec’s mouth falling open, wide with shock. It’s the look he always gets right when he’s about to come. Like he can’t believe it. Like he’s stunned by his own pleasure. Like he didn’t know he could feel this good.

Magnus gets an idea.

He pulls his mouth away from Alexander’s cock (though he immediately misses the feeling of it stretching his lips). Alec looks down to see what he’s doing, which is perfect. Because Magnus opens his mouth, sticks out his tongue, and presses the tip of it to the head of Alec’s cock. And he uses one hand to start stroking him, hard and fast, not interested in delaying this any further, but very interested in letting Alexander come all over his tongue.

Because that’s one of the things he’s learned about Alec since they started fooling around. Quite possibly his favorite thing he’s learned. Certainly the least expected, for Alec as much as for him.

Alexander Lightwood is downright kinky about come.

It hasn’t been anything overt, not yet anyway. But there have been hints, little signs here and there. Enough that Magnus is pretty sure Alec will get quite a kick out of watching himself come into Magnus’s mouth.

Judging by the way Alexander sobs and clutches the sheets, Magnus thinks this is a pretty good plan.

Alec whines frantically, like he’s trying to speak but can’t make his voice work. “Ah, I… Magnus- I… please. I- I can’t… please…” He sounds pained. He’s gritting his teeth, and his eyes keep fluttering, like he’s struggling to keep them open, so he can keep looking at Magnus.

Magnus can't tell if he’s trying to hold out, to make himself last longer… or if he’s stuck. If he’s right there, but can’t quite tip over the edge.

Either way, a little encouragement should do the trick.

“Yes,” he says in a low voice, letting his lips brush Alec’s cock as he forms the words, “please, darling. Alexander. Please, let me taste you.”

And, just as expected-

Alec’s thighs clench like a vice around Magnus’s neck. He cries out, again and again, getting louder and louder until his voice breaks on a long, gorgeous sob, right as Magnus feels the first drop of warmth hit his tongue.

And goddammit, he just can’t help himself. He lets out one pulse of magic. Just a little one. Just a little kick of heat, right into Alec’s gut. Just enough to make everything coil a bit tighter, make everything burn a bit hotter, make his orgasm last a bit longer.

It's worth it, because even after his cock has spent completely into Magnus’s mouth, Alec is still whimpering. His body is still tense, like he’s still right in the middle of it.

It isn’t until Magnus takes his hand away from Alec’s cock that he finally sags into the bed, writhing against the sheets with his whole body. His eyes are closed, his head is thrown back, he’s covered in a fine sheen of sweat.

He’s the most beautiful thing Magnus has ever seen.

And he’s gasping out Magnus’s name, over and over again, not always managing to form it completely.

It takes Magnus almost a full minute to catch his breath enough to be able to swallow. And it just so happens that that’s right as Alec opens his eyes to look at him again. Magnus can’t help but smirk a bit at the timing.

Magnus knows there’s spit all the way down his chin, and he suspects there’s a hearty smear of come on his lower lip as well. As he starts to get up, pushing up onto his knees, he lifts one arm to wipe the worst of the mess off of his chin-

But before he can even try, Alexander pulls him down. Magnus lands on his chest with an inelegant little “Oof!” He laughs a bit as he recovers himself.

Alec’s looking at him. Intently. Looking over his face, but really focusing on-

His lower lip.

He’s staring at Magnus’s lower lip in a way that makes him pretty positive that there is a drop of come there. A little smear of Alec’s come. Magnus considers licking it off; that’ll probably get a nice reaction out of him. His tongue darts out against his lip-

Alexander pulls him in and kisses him. Open-mouthed and wet and…

Well, fuck. Fuck everything.

Alec sucks Magnus’s lower lip between his teeth. And runs his tongue across it. Licking up that little drop before licking deep into Magnus’s mouth like he’s… tasting himself.

And, god, if someone doesn’t start touching Magnus’s dick soon, he thinks he might actually die.

Luckily, that appears to be very high on Alexander’s list of priorities. He tips them over so they’re on their sides without breaking the kiss (which is still mostly comprised of tongue). And without any preamble, he practically shoves one hand into Magnus’s panties. Technically, it’s not best practice. Even though these are much sturdier than some of his other pieces of lingerie, they’re still rather delicate. But Alec’s hand is wrapping around his cock and goddamn, if Alec wants to rip these panties into shreds Magnus will let him so long as he keeps touching him like this.

“Yes, god yes,” Magnus groans, the words getting muffled in Alec’s mouth because he apparently refuses to stop kissing him for any reason whatsoever. “Alexan-n-ngh…”

It shouldn’t feel this good. It has no right to feel this good. It’s a rushed, inelegant handjob. It’s clumsy. It's far too dry. The friction of Alec’s calloused hand feels like chafing. And Alec has no idea what he’s doing. He’s only done this about half a dozen times. He’s admitted to Magnus that before they started dating, he’d barely even done this to himself. He has no practical experience. He’d never even seen a foreskin before, much less touched one. There’s absolutely no logical reason for this to feel good at all.

And yet, and yet.

The goddamn enthusiasm in every unskilled twist of Alexander’s wrist makes everything inside Magnus ache. In all his years, he doesn’t think he’s ever been with anyone who’s this eager to please him. Magnus knows damn well that Alec considers his own pleasure to be trivial in comparison. If Magnus didn’t actively make Alec admit his desires, he’s pretty sure Alec would have willingly let himself go ignored all these weeks. He’s so focused on making sure Magnus feels as good as possible. Like it’s his responsibility. And god knows that Alec Lightwood doesn’t take his responsibilities lightly.

It’s… well. Like damn near everything else about this boy, it’s absolutely precious.

And it explains why this graceless jerk-off feels like the best goddamn sex Magnus has ever had. All of Alexander’s fucking sincerity, his need to be as good as possible, his need to be so much better than he thinks he is…

It’s ecstasy.

And in no time at all, Magnus feels the spark in his gut. The sinking heat that lets him know this is going to be over much sooner than he expected.

He practically has to wrench his face away from Alec to free his lips enough to speak. “Yes, Alec, god yes. Just- just like that, feels so good sweetheart…”

Alec whines against Magnus’s cheek. His arm must be getting a little tired by now, but that was enough to give him a burst of renewed energy, because his whole body jerks against Magnus’s and his hand starts moving faster and tighter and hotter and fucking hell, Magnus is so damn close.

“Almost, almost there, angel.” Magnus tips his head back, exposing his neck. Alec takes the hint beautifully and immediately starts sucking a few new hickeys to accompany the ones from last night. “Alec, you’re gonna make me come, Ah- Alec-”

And that’s it.

Alexander smothers a cry against Magnus’s neck (which is desperately sweet, really, since Magnus is the one who’s having an orgasm, so he should be the only one making sounds of pleasure that intense).

And it’s…

God. It’s just so much better than it should be. It’s deliciously slow, a building ache and a sweet burn that completely takes over him for a few precious seconds. He knows he’s making all sorts of undignified noises, but all of his focus is currently being spent on making sure he doesn’t accidentally make anything explode. After all, it’s happened before, because of pleasure much less intense than this.

Everything fades slowly, drawn out by the fact that Alec’s hand still hasn’t slowed down at all, and now his grip is significantly better lubricated. Magnus has to clumsily bat at Alec’s arm to make him stop when it becomes too much, because his voice still isn’t working the way he wants it to. He knows he’s trying to form words, but all that’s coming out is a string of throaty gibberish.

And then they both just… rest. Legs tangled together. Panting. Trying to catch their breath (and why are they both equally winded by what just happened?).

Alexander’s hand is still in Magnus’s panties. Fingers curled around nothing, just pressing wetly against Magnus’s hip. After a minute or two passes, and Magnus feels like he can breathe again, he realizes that the gentlemanly thing to do would be to take care of the mess he just made all over his boyfriend’s hand.

But Alexander has other ideas.

Because, as if he could tell what Magnus was planning, that’s when he finally pulls his hand out of the satin. Slowly, and carefully, he brings his hand up, like he’s making sure he doesn’t get any of the mess onto the sheet that’s still haphazardly covering their lower bodies. Magnus doesn’t know why, but he just keeps lifting his hand further and further-

Oh, no.

Oh god no.

Alexander brings his hand right up to his face.

No no no nonononono he cannot be serious-

Alexander gives his hand one lick. One tiny, hesitant lick. Casually. Like he’s sampling a goddamn lollipop, and not…

He makes a small sound. A small, good sound.

And all Magnus can do is watch helplessly as Alexander Lightwood lies there and licks all of Magnus’s come off of his hand.

God, what the fuck does he think he’s doing? Doesn’t he know Magnus is an old man? His poor, frail, ancient heart isn’t strong enough to handle this. This might actually kill him.

But that’s just it. Alec doesn’t know. He’s just indulging his new-found interest. He has no goddamn idea that Magnus is going to jerk off to this image, and this image alone, until the end of time itself.

When Alec seems to have cleaned his hand to his satisfaction, Magnus finally lets himself close his eyes. He needs to focus. He needs to burn this memory into his mind. If he ever forgets this moment, forgets exactly how Alec looked and exactly how he felt, that’ll be it. That’ll be what finally makes Magnus give up on this whole ‘living’ nonsense.

The only thing that Magnus somewhat dislikes about morning sex is the extreme desire to go right back to sleep as soon as it's finished. Because within a few minutes of recovering from this whole come-licking ordeal, Magnus is loose and relaxed and snuggled up in bed with a loose and relaxed angel. What could possibly make him want to leave this bed?

He thinks through his schedule. His next meeting could probably be done from bed, right? Yes, he can probably summon a demon from over the phone. If it means spending a few more hours with Alexander in his arms, he’ll fucking figure out a way.

When he feels a little too close to dozing off, he forces himself to open his eyes.

Alec is looking at him.

Their faces are too close together. Alec's features blur together like an abstract painting.

But he’s smiling, so Magnus has no desire to move away.

“So, um…” Alec begins with his usual eloquence. “Yeah. Good morning.”

And Magnus can’t help but laugh. A tired, satisfied laugh. “It certainly has been so far.”

Alec’s head moves like he’s trying to duck out of Magnus’s gaze, but it just makes their noses nuzzle together, which is delightful. “I’d say it was a little better than ‘good’, actually.”

Oh, he’s just too much.

“Yes, that’s a fair assessment,” Magnus teases, reaching up his tired arm to lazily brush his fingers through Alec’s hair.

Alec tilts his head into the touch with a quiet hum. But then, he tilts his head away. “I should… I should probably take a shower.” He tips his head up to indicate his messy hair. “I look gross.”

Magnus can’t be sure if it’s just that he’s never gone through two rounds of sex without showering before (because that certainly can leave one feeling less-than-fresh), or if this is another one of those hideous insecurities of his.

Just in case, Magnus quickly flips them over, getting Alec sprawled out on his back so Magnus can lie against his chest. “Darling, between the two of us, I honestly doubt you are the one who looks gross.” He bats his makeup-crusted eyes to prove his point, and lightly digs his fingers into the ticklish spot on Alec’s side for emphasis.

Alexander lurches against him, laughing loud and surprised. “That’s not fair!” he gasps between giggles, trying to shove Magnus’s hand away. “C’mon, Mags.”

Magnus freezes.

He's never-

He’s never heard that before.

He’s had nicknames before, pet names from friends and lovers and everyone in between. But never…

Mags.

Alexander is still laughing beneath him, even though he’s not being tickled anymore. He’s struggling to calm down, petting clumsily at Magnus’s shoulders and back. “You-” A deep breath. “You don’t look gross, Mags.” Another breath. His hand traces up Magnus’s neck, cupping his jaw. “You look beautiful. You always look beautiful.” He doesn’t stammer. He doesn’t trip over the words. He doesn’t even blush.

It’s a strange feeling, in a terrifyingly exhilarating way, for Magnus to be so palpably aware that he’s falling in love.

This wasn’t part of the plan. No, Magnus has never really considered himself the type to make real plans for his life, but this… This wasn’t even a thought. This wasn’t even a… possibility.

He was supposed to just be a cute boy. Alec was just supposed to be a devastatingly attractive boy with a habit of being adorable in Magnus’s direction. He was never supposed to mean anything. He was never supposed to be… this.

And so soon. Honestly, it’s only been six weeks. A handful of dates. What does Magnus think he’s doing, falling in love so quickly? This isn’t a goddamn Disney movie.

Well, he supposes it’s not entirely off-brand for him. He’s done worse. Hell, with Etta, it had taken less than one date for them to skip all of the ‘relationship’ nonsense and become an old married couple (figuratively speaking, of course). By the six week mark, she was practically living with him already, for fuck’s sake.

But that’s not…

That’s…

Hm. Now that he thinks about it, that’s probably why this is so surprising. Why Alec is so surprising.

Because Magnus had thought he was done with all of that now. He’s spent the last sixty years absolutely convinced that Etta was it. His last chance. Because if they could be that happy together, if they could have over fifteen years together, if he could love her so much, if she could love him so much, and still… leave him…

If Etta had decided that even she didn’t want him anymore, well. Then why would anyone else?

He’d packed it all up that day. Tucked away all of his hopes and all of his desires and, he’d thought, all of his capacity to love.

And now, Alexander Lightwood is smiling up at him, stroking a thumb across his cheek, and…

That’s it. That’s all it takes.

Magnus smiles, because suddenly he’s afraid that he might cry if he doesn’t. Honestly, this is just embarrassing. He needs to get his shit together. What’s he supposed to say if Alec asks him why he’s tearing up after really nice morning sex? ‘Oh, it’s nothing, I just thought I’d never be able to feel love again, but now I’ve realized that I’m falling in love with you even though we’ve been casually dating for a month and a half. Oh, also, I was pretty convinced that I’m completely unlovable, but you keep making me think there’s a chance you might love me someday. No pressure. It’s no big deal. I’m fine.’

So he keeps smiling instead. It feels like his mouth is barely deigning to cooperate, but it’s something. It’s enough to keep Alexander smiling back at him. And that’s all that matters.

Alec tilts his head sharply to the side, a little tic that lets Magnus know he’s about to say something that’s making him nervous. “Would… um. Since I couldn’t make you coffee, would you maybe… After, you know. Showering and everything. Could I maybe… take you somewhere? Buy you a cup of coffee?”

Well. Fuck. This certainly isn’t helping with Magnus’s existential crisis.

But he keeps himself under control, makes sure his smile stays warm and doesn’t start to crack. “That would be lovely, Alexander.” However, the morning has really been slipping away from them. And even though Magnus doesn’t want to shoot himself in the foot, he has to ask… “You don’t have to be getting back to the Institute?”

Alec looks away, tugging his bottom lip between his teeth shyly. It’s horrible, and Magnus loves it. “I… should. I should really go back right now.” He looks back up at Magnus, with that crooked little smile of his. “But I’m not going to. I want to stay here. For a bit longer.” His smile vanishes. “If that’s alright with you? I can leave if you’re busy. Shit, you probably have stuff to do, sorry-”

Magnus presses a kiss to the corner of Alec’s mouth. “Darling, there is nothing I’d rather do today than have coffee with you.”

Alec’s mouth twitches under Magnus’s lips, like he wants to smile but is too nervous. “Really?”

Magnus grins. “Really.” He tilts his face just far enough to catch Alec’s lips in a proper kiss.

As Alec whimpers happily into his mouth, Magnus decides that he’s going to buy a coffee maker one of these days.

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec scrunches up his lips.

And he raises his eyebrows. Then, he furrows them, and raises just one instead.

He opens his mouth as big as he can, sticks out his tongue, and widens his eyes.

He bites down lightly on his outstretched tongue and wrinkles his nose. With surprising difficulty, he manages to wiggle his tongue around a bit.

Max laughs.

“Gotcha,” Alec says triumphantly, and gives himself a mental high five.

And then he inflates his cheeks and crosses his eyes.

“Darling.” Magnus steps out of the bathroom, wiping his face on the inside of his t-shirt (well, Alec’s t-shirt, but their wardrobes have really blurred together over the past day and a half). “What on earth are you doing?”

Alec lets his cheeks deflate, keeping his lips tight so the air escapes in a long, slow fart sound. Max gurgles. But it sounds happy, so Alec’s counting it as a laugh. “I am bonding with our child, Magnus,” he says without looking up. He keeps his crossed eyes pointed vaguely toward Max, who’s resting in the makeshift baby cradle Alec’s made with his limbs. He’s sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, with Max lying in the space between his legs, and he’s supporting Max’s head and back on his forearms. It’s probably not a very ‘proper’ way to hold a baby, but he’s secure, his head his very supported, and he’s still gurgling happily, so Alec thinks it’s probably fine.

Besides, Alec’s pretty sure that Maryse would be able to sense if he was doing even the slightest thing wrong, and she’d teleport back into the room to take Max away from him. She may be unsettlingly nice as a grandma, but she’s still terrifying.

Alec’s head starts to ache from keeping his eyes crossed for too long, so he uncrosses them and blinks furiously until everything comes back into focus.

Max is gripping one of the baggy feet of his onesie, and his other hand is reaching up like he wants to grab Alec’s face. Alec leans over to try and let him, but in the awkward position, all Max can really do is bat at his nose. But this seems to make him extremely happy, so Alec doesn’t mind.

“Shouldn’t you boys be in bed?” Magnus asks with just a hint of playful sarcasm.

“He’s been asleep for like, three hours. He’s awake now. We have to bond.”

Magnus sits on the edge of the bed, reaching out to run his fingers through the back of Alec’s hair. “Sweetheart, you’ve been a father for twelve hours. You have plenty of time to bond with him. Right now you need sleep.”

“Psh,” Alec makes his voice high-pitched and silly, acting like he’s talking to Max even though the words are for Magnus, “You may have been a father for twelve hours. But I’ve been one for at least thirty-six. Probably forty. It’s not my fault you’re a day behind.” He ducks his head so Max can pull at his hair, which he does, with great enthusiasm.

Magnus laughs, letting his hand drop down to rub lightly at Alec’s back. “Just because you decided to adopt a baby without talking to me about it doesn’t mean you’ve been a parent longer than I have. Max became ours when we mutually agreed to raise him, after communicating about it, like adults.”

“You handed me a baby and said ‘We have this, don’t we Alec?’ And I said ‘Yeah, we do.’” Alec cranes his head around to look at Magnus without making Max let go of his hair. “How is that not deciding to keep him? What else could you have possibly been referring to?”

“The situation, Alexander,” Magnus says, rolling his eyes quite spectacularly. “I meant we had the situation under control, and we were going to figure out what to do with him. I did not mean that we’d just instantaneously and telepathically made the lifelong decision to become parents. Who gets handed a random infant and only needs three seconds and eight words to assume it’s automatically their child now?”

“I do.” Alec lifts his head out of Max’s reach, so he can turn and look at Magnus. Really look at him. “I didn’t even need that much. You let me hold him, and…” He raises his eyebrows. “Yeah.”

It’s… a weird thing to say. But it’s true. And Alec doesn’t think it’s entirely unreasonable, either. He’s heard about it happening before. New parents holding their baby for the first time and just… feeling something. Knowing. Like a switch has been flicked, and all of their parental instincts suddenly turn on. Alec knows that’s a thing that happens.

Of course, he’s only ever heard about it happening to biological parents who hold their child for the first time after they’re born. He’s never heard about it happening to to some random guy who picks up a baby that was abandoned on the doorstep of the Shadowhunter Academy.

But still. Even if the circumstances were… strange - ridiculously strange - Alec had just… known. The moment he’d gotten Max cradled in his arms, and Max had instantly stopped crying… that was it. Alec knew there was no way in hell he’d let anyone else try to take him. He knew Max was his. Before he was even ‘Max’, he was Alec’s son.

And none of Magnus’s reason or sense is going to change that. Alec made the decision to become a parent in the time it took for Max to look up at him. That’s just how it is.

And judging by the way that Magnus is looking at him, with his little smile, head tilted the slightest bit to the side, Alec thinks he probably understands.

Max gurgles again, clumsily swatting his arm at Alec, clearly upset that he can't reach him. These gurgles sound significantly less happy than the previous ones did, so Alec forces himself to break himself away from Magnus’s steady gaze. Max’s noises intensify to a weak, dispassionate crying, sounding more like mild complaining than anything else. Alec immediately grabs his little hand, letting him get a vice-like grip around one of Alec’s fingers.

Magnus hums in the back of his throat, and crawls all the way onto the bed. He kneels behind Alec, thighs spread and bracketing Alec’s hips so he can snuggle up against his back. He rests his chin on Alec’s shoulder, and loops his arms around Alec’s sides so he can play with Max’s feet - which makes Max wriggle in Alec’s lap. After a minute or so, Max settles down, still holding Alec’s finger, though his grip feels a bit more tired.

“I’m worried that he doesn’t understand the concept of love,” Alec says bluntly. It’s been bothering him all day, and for some reason his brain apparently decided that this nice, calm moment is somehow a good time to bring it up. “He’s just a baby. Does he know that I love him? Does he get it?” He waggles his finger in Max’s tiny blue fist. “And is that… weird? Am I not supposed to love him yet? Is it supposed to take more time?”

Magnus chuckles, and Alec can feel the sound reverberate against his back. “Darling, this is your child, not an overly-optimistic blind date. Objectively speaking, I’m fairly certain that loving him is the best outcome possible.”

“Okay, but what if he doesn’t know?”

Magnus presses his lips to the side of Alec’s neck. “He’s an infant, Alexander. Of course he doesn’t know. He doesn’t even have object permanence yet.” He rubs one hand down Alec’s thigh, and it feels so nice, even through Alec’s thick sweatpants. “On the bright side, if you’re ever worried that he doesn’t like you, you can just… cover his eyes for a second. Start over with a clean slate.”

Alec chokes on a laugh, because that shouldn’t be funny. It shouldn’t. But Magnus is so warm against his back and Max is still holding his finger so tightly and it’s just-

It’s…

He takes a breath.

It’s his family.

This is his family. This right here. The three of them, all curled up together on this horrible old bed in this horrible old attic in this horrible old Academy. Just him, and his son, and-

There’s a noise from the kitchen.

Well, speaking of ‘family’.

“Is someone still here?” Alec glances over his shoulder, but he can’t see anyone.

The room is pretty much destroyed after all the chaos of the past two days. Not just the baby-related detritus - clothes and blankets and tissues and towels - but the remnants of the impromptu party they’d ended up hosting tonight. Alec’s still worn out by the whole thing. It was only a few hours, and it was only his family (plus Clary and Simon, but they’ve been dating his siblings long enough that… like… maybe they’re kinda like family too. Not that he’d ever admit anything like that out loud). Alec can’t even remember the last time his parents were in the same room together, much less his parents and Isabelle and Jace and Clary and Simon and Magnus and a baby and Alec just can’t handle that much social interaction in one night. He’s been physically exhausted since the moment they found Max, and now he’s emotionally exhausted too.

He’d thought they’d finally managed to shove the last of them out the door for the night. It’s almost one in the goddamn morning after all. Magnus and Alec are parents now. They have a baby. They’ve had a baby for less than two days. People should understand that they’re a little worn out. Why won’t everyone leave them the fuck alone?

“Mm-hmmm.” Magnus squeezes Alec a little harder. “Your father stayed behind to do the dishes for us.”

Alec opens his mouth to laugh.

Because he’s kidding.

He’s obviously kidding.

Robert Lightwood didn’t stay after the party to do goddamn housework for Magnus and Alec. Of course he didn’t. It’s a joke. It’s a very funny joke. He should laugh.

But Magnus isn’t laughing. And there’s another clattering sound from the kitchen.

Alec frowns. “You’re serious?”

Magnus smiles, nuzzling his cheek against Alec’s (though Alec doesn’t know why, since he hasn’t shaved since yesterday morning and his stubble must be scratchy as fuck). “Absolutely. I think he and Maryse have it in their heads that whichever grandparent we like best gets to spend more time with Max.”

Alec scoffs. “Tell them to keep our kid out of their goddamn divorce. He’s ours; they can’t win some sort of grandparent custody.”

Magnus laughs. “Tell them yourself, they’re your scary parents.”

“Well, not too scary, if Robert’s suddenly doing dishes. I don’t think he’s ever washed a dish before in his life.”

He’s about to ask Magnus if he thinks they could trick Maryse and Robert into fixing up this awful attic apartment for them, but before he can, Max starts squirming. He lets go of Alec’s finger, and tugs his foot away from Magnus, and makes a series of very unhappy noises. “Okay,” Alec says quietly, “Shhhh, it’s okay, Max, don’t get worked up. Please don’t get worked up.” He finally gives up on his human cradle and scoops Max into his arms, holding him close to his chest, head supported in the crook of his elbow. In the much more traditional ‘baby-holding’ manner.

Mercifully, it only takes a few moments of gently rocking him and making some silly cooing noises before Max calms back down. It’s been a few hours since Max last started really crying, and so far, that’s a record. A record that Alec would like to keep going as long as possible.

Magnus starts humming something, some gentle little song that Alec can only assume is a lullaby. His arms wrap a little tighter around Alec’s waist, beneath where Alec is holding Max. And Alec can’t help himself. He makes a small, contented noise, and tips his head to rest against Magnus’s. Snuggled up like this, it’s getting significantly easier to remember that it’s the middle of the night, and he hasn’t slept more than an hour straight in almost two days now. Even though he knows Robert is still in the kitchen, Alec kinda just wants to… pass out. Just like this. Without having to let go of his baby to put him back in the crib, and without having to move so much as an inch away from his boyfriend-

Oh.

His boyfriend. ‘Boyfriend’.

That’s…

Alec’s heart twists up, like it’s trying to crawl into his throat.

Because that’s not… true, anymore.

Yeah, they haven’t actually said the word yet, but they’ve still… This morning, Alec still… And Magnus…

Magnus said yes.

It didn’t go at all like Alec wanted it to. Fuck, it was a goddamn disaster, especially compared to the idea he's had in his mind for so long now.

Well, he’s never really planned a specific way to ask Magnus to marry him, but he’s thought about it. He’s thought about it a lot. For… fuck. For almost two years. It’s been almost two years since the first time he pictured himself marrying Magnus. Not as something he thought would ever happen, just something he’d… pictured. A vague idea. A vague hope. The idea has changed a lot since then, become sharper, more in-focus, and recently…

It hadn’t really formed into a specific plan, like it was something Alec knew he was going to do, once he found the right time to do it. But he knew the basic idea. He knew that if he did ask Magnus to marry him, there was a certain way he wanted to do it. He wanted it to be… traditional. Not necessarily getting down on one knee, but at least a ring, and the usual sort of script. The actual question. ‘Magnus Bane, will you marry me?’ He’s imagined asking that. Over and over again. For almost two years.

And when the time finally came for him to ask, he fucked it up.

To be fair, the circumstances were so far out of Alec’s scope of imagination. He never, never once in all of his engagement fantasies thought that it would happen kneeling next to their son’s crib. In the attic of the Shadowhunter Academy. How could he have possibly anticipated any of this? In his mind, it had always been just the two of them. Quiet, and simple. He’d always pictured it being at the loft, being in their home. Now they’re not even in New York. They’re in Idris, which is hardly one of Alec’s favorite places, and might be Magnus’s absolute least favorite.

And the worst part, the most fucked-up part of the whole fucked-up proposal, is that Alec didn’t even fucking ask. He’d brought it up. Mentioned getting married. As something he wanted to do. Something he thought they’d do. Hoped they'd do. He didn’t actually ask.

What the fuck. What the fuck was he thinking?

‘I never asked anyone to marry me before.’ But he hadn’t asked. ‘So that’s a no, then?’ Even though Magnus hadn’t said no. He couldn’t have said no, because he hadn’t been asked a damn question.

But… even with all of that. Even though Alec didn’t ask, and they were in this dingy attic instead of their home, and none of it was what it was supposed to be…

Magnus had still said yes.

They haven’t told anyone yet. They haven’t even brought it up again. It’s still just for them. Like a little secret, one that’s still so hidden that they won’t even mention it to each other. It’s been almost a full day. Yes, it’s been a busy day, but still… They haven’t said anything about it.

This isn’t the right moment. Alec knows it isn’t the right moment. It’s one in the morning. They haven’t slept in days. Max is probably going to start wailing at any moment. They’re both disheveled - unshaven, unshowered, neither of them wearing any makeup, their clothes rumpled and covered in various unsavory baby bodily fluids. And his father is in the next room, barely out of earshot, probably ready to walk in on them at any moment.

It’s not a good moment, but…

It’s just them. Just their little family. In their sleepy little clump. And the longer Magnus hums against his cheek, and rubs his hand across Alec’s stomach, the more Alec can feel his restraint start to fray, and-

“When we get back home,” he starts, barely louder than a whisper, keeping his focus on Max, “would you want-”

He stops himself. Because he’s not going to phrase it like that. He was already passive in the goddamn proposal. He’s not going to be passive about this. He needs Magnus to know how much he means this.

He takes a breath. Lets it out slowly. “I want to get you a ring. An engagement ring.” He tilts his face, not quite enough to look over his shoulder. “I know it’ll… be a while. Before we get married.” The idea of the Clave sanctioning a marriage between a shadowhunter and a downworlder (and both of them men) is almost laughable. Alec knows they have a long, difficult fight ahead of them. It’s gonna be a long engagement. Years, probably. Maybe… fuck. Maybe decades. Who knows. But he doesn’t want the hopelessness of the situation to make their engagement any less… real. He wants to buy Magnus a ring. He wants to put it on Magnus’s finger. “Would you want to wear it?”

Magnus loosens his hold, and his hands slip down to rest on Alec’s hips. He stops humming.

Normally, this is when Alec would start to think that he’d fucked something up, but somehow… he knows that’s not it. He worries about that less and less lately. Like somehow, after almost two and a half years together, he finally trusts himself. Trusts that Magnus knows what he means. Really understands him. And that they want the same things. That’s partly why he’d been so sure of himself when Magnus had first given Max to him. They’re on the same page. Alec realizes that they have been for a while. The only difference is that he really gets that now.

So it’s not surprising when Magnus turns his head and kisses Alec’s cheek. Long, and lingering, and tender enough to make Alec’s breath catch in his throat. “Of course, my darling.” He smiles against the side of Alec’s face. Alec can feel it, and feel when he exhales a quiet, happy sigh. “My fiancé.”

That's…

By the Angel.

Alec’s been thinking about that word a lot, since their conversation. Well, since a long while before their conversation. But he’s been thinking about it a lot more now.

And somehow, hearing it out loud is even nicer than he'd hoped.

“Fiancé,” Alec repeats softly. And, yeah. It feels just as nice to say it as it is to hear it.

Max squirms a little in Alec's arms, but doesn’t start fussing. Magnus’s lips are still brushing Alec’s cheek, so Alec turns his head, so he can kiss him. Gently.

And it’s just them. Just him, and his fiancé, and their son.

Alec could get used to this.

So, naturally, that’s when the kitchen door opens.

And even though this is their temporary apartment, and it’s their family and it’s their moment… Alec isn’t quite ready for Robert to see him and Magnus quite so cozied up.

Still, it absolutely sucks to have to break out of the warmth of their little nest. Alec’s struck with the sudden desire to just tell his dad to fuck off so they can go to bed. He’s just so tired and he was so warm and now he’s cold and moving again and everything’s awful.

“Here.” Alec holds Max out to Magnus, handing him over and making sure he’s carefully situated. “I’ll go get rid of him,” he says, a bit too loudly to be sure that Robert can't hear him.

But Magnus gets Max settled in his arms and gets off the bed right after Alec. “Angel, I’m fairly certain he’ll want to say goodnight to little Blueberry before he leaves.”

Oh.

Duh.

But Robert doesn’t look like he’s on his way out. He’s standing in the ‘living room’ part of the attic, rubbing his hands together like he’s just washed them and he doesn’t quite know how to comfortably stand still. “Alec.” He says it like a complete sentence, and Alec can’t help but wonder if this is where he’d inherited his own lack of eloquence.

“Thanks for,” Alec nods toward the kitchen, “that. You really didn’t have to.”

“No, it was no trouble.” Robert smiles. Well, he does his best. “You two already have your hands full.”

Alec feels oddly stranded out in the expanse of the mostly-empty room, so he goes over to the couch. But it’s still fucking broken (goddammit Jace), so he just half-sits on the arm. Magnus stays where he is, still tucked back by the bed, swaying back and forth a little with Max in his arms.

It only takes a few seconds for the silence to get painfully awkward. Yeah, Robert’s been trying his best lately (and his best has gotten weirdly better since Max came into the picture), but that doesn’t mean they’re suddenly master conversationalists. Alec can’t think of the last time it was just them in a room together. He doesn’t think it’s ever been just him, Robert, and Magnus. And all three of them are so obviously aware that it’s weird, which just makes everything go from ‘strained’ to ‘horrible’.

Alec doesn’t understand why this particular moment is stretching out so long. He doesn’t really want to say goodnight first, because it’ll feel so much like kicking Robert out. And while that’s definitely what he wants to do, he knows it’s not exactly the warmest way for a son to behave.

But why isn’t Robert fucking saying anything? It’s one fucking word. ‘Goodnight.’ It’s two seconds. That’s it. That’s all it takes, and then they can all just go to their respective beds. But Robert isn’t saying a damn thing. Which means-

Shit.

It means he’s going to say something else. And he’s either trying to figure out how to say it, or getting up the courage to spit it out.

Fuck. Alec absolutely hates seeing this clear of a similarity between them. It makes him feel like he should be sympathetic or something.

Robert takes a deep breath, and squares his shoulders. It’s his ‘I’m the Inquisitor and I’m about to say something Important’ pose, which is pretty damn unsettling, given the context.

“I know things got a little… hectic. Earlier. With everyone here. But now that things have… calmed down, I wanted to-” He takes another breath. Alec can’t help but notice that Robert is actively looking at both of them, not just addressing Alec and pretending Magnus isn’t here (like he and Maryse have done for the past two and a half years). “I wanted to suggest Michael again. For Max’s middle name.”

Alec’s stomach feels like it drops all the way down to the floor. “That’s-”

“I know, everyone all had their different ideas,” Robert cuts in, like he knows he won’t be able to get this out if he lets himself stop. “But I wanted to make sure you both knew how much it would mean to me. To get to try and… do better. If not by him, then… at least by his name.”

Alec feels his chest tighten, like the sting of heartburn. Robert has said things… vaguely like this before, but never this… sincere. Earnest. This feels like it might be the most honest he's ever been with Alec, in his entire life. And it’s clearly not easy for him. And Alec’s not sure he can bear to hear any more-

“I just want…” Robert does that little attempt-smile again. “I’d like you to consider it.”

“Dad,” Alec says, mostly to make sure Robert doesn’t try to say anything else. But it takes him a moment to make his voice work any further than that. Belatedly, he realizes that… he’s not really sure when he’d last called Robert ‘Dad’. That’s… well. It’s something. He’ll figure out exactly what it is later.

Alec takes a breath. He glances over at Magnus, but Magnus is giving him a look that clearly communicates that this is Alec’s father, and therefore, Alec’s responsibility. “Dad,” he starts again, feeling significantly more grounded, “That’s… that’s really… good of you. Seriously. I think that’s really nice.” And he does. He really means that. He wants Robert to know that.

But still-

Alec swallows. “But Max already has a middle name.”

He looks back to Magnus, just in time to see him frown.

Because no, he doesn’t.

They’ve never discussed it. Even with all the names being suggested and shouted and pushed on them again and again and again all fucking night, he and Magnus haven’t said a word about it. 'Max' had been an easy decision. It had barely been a conversation. Once Isabelle had first said it, it had just… clicked.

But they haven’t said a damn word about his middle name.

Alec keeps looking at Magnus. Because this is… a little bold of him, to say the least. Deciding something like this without talking about it at all. But, fuck, if Alec can decide to adopt a goddamn baby with just one glance, surely he and Magnus can make a decision like this without actually needing to say it out loud first.

Because he knows what Max’s middle name is. Without having a discussion. Without saying it once. After they’d decided on ‘Max’, it just seemed… obvious.

And he and Magnus understand each other. They’re on the same page. They can understand so much without saying it. And Alec wants Magnus to know how serious he is about this. He wants Magnus to know that he means this, without any doubt or hesitation.

Still, there’s a moment, a moment where he’s left looking helplessly at Magnus’s confused little frown, where he worries that this isn’t going to work-

But then, Magnus smiles. His little smile. Alec’s little smile.

And they know. They both know.

“Oh,” Robert says quietly. “I didn’t- Of course.” He clears his throat, like he’s embarrassed, but pretending not to be. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even think to… ask. With everyone talking about it so much, I suppose we didn’t even consider that you might have already…” He takes a breath, and it’s a little forced. “Well. What is it?”

Alec raises his eyebrows at Magnus. He feels the corner of his mouth lift in a small, crooked smile.

Magnus keeps his eyes on Alec, and gives one quiet, wet laugh. “Ragnor.” And he looks down at their son. “Max Ragnor Lightwood-Bane.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec slides the king of spades to the top of his phone’s screen with his thumb. The four completed stacks of cards explode into pixelated fireworks.

“Why do you have an American accent?” he asks as he waits for the ‘New Deal’ button to pop up.

Magnus sputters out a laugh. “What?”

Alec furrows his eyebrows as he starts a new game of FreeCell. “I mean, you’ve been here a while, but you’ve lived other places longer, right? Wouldn’t your most prominent language be, like… Spanish, probably? And you spent all that time in London before you ever came here, so shouldn’t that mean you have a British accent? What country were you in when you first learned English?”

Magnus just laughs again, and snuggles a little against Alec’s chest. “Where’d this come from?” The words are muffled by the pen he’s holding between his teeth.

Alec moves a few cards. “It doesn’t make sense, Magnus. When you were born, American accents probably didn’t even exist yet. America was barely a thing.”

Magnus takes the pen from his mouth and scribbles a few words into the notebook that’s resting in his lap. “And it took eight months of dating me for you to finally realize this?”

Alec frowns. “Well, I…” He frowns more. “Yeah. I guess.”

Though, to be fair, it’s been on his mind for a few weeks now. Not nagging at his brain, not something he really needs to know. But it’s something he’s been wondering about. A little thought. And now seems like the perfect time to ask.

Because nothing’s happening today. It’s a Nothing Day.

Alec loves Nothing Days.

He doesn’t have to be at the Institute at all today. Izzy and Jace have been sending him periodic updates, but they’ve both made it clear that they can get along fine without him (actually, they’d said that his presence would be completely unnecessary, but he knows they didn’t mean it to sound that dickish, because they love him).

And while Magnus actually has a shit-ton of work to do today, it happens to be pretty… chill. Some unsettlingly shady customer has hired him to translate an unsettlingly shady text written in an unsettlingly shady demonic language. Magnus has no idea how said customer acquired said text, and apparently, he’d had no interest in finding out - though he had required the customer to clean all the crusted blood and ichor off of the book before he’d touch it. Alec would be kinda worried about the whole thing, but he doesn’t want to try and take this from Magnus. Because it’s a pretty big win for him. Magnus might literally be the only person on the planet who can read this language (because it’s so ancient and inhuman that it apparently has to be re-translated and decoded through a few different languages before it’ll make any sense in English), so he’d charged the customer an obscene amount of money…

But Magnus fucking loves nerdy magic stuff like this. Translating texts and doing fancy equation things for new spells and sitting in his dusty old library with a dozen giant old books and potion bottles open around him… that’s his favorite part of his job. He’s never outright admitted as much, but he doesn’t have to. It’s obvious. He’s a total nerd.

So he would have gladly translated this skeezy old book for free. And he’d conned this skeezy old customer into giving him a small fortune for it. Alec would feel a little morally uncomfortable with the situation, but he has to admit that from Magnus’s perspective, it’s just good business. Damn good business.

And it means that for the next few days, all Magnus’s job requires is for him to have the creepy old book in one hand, and a notebook in the other. He can do this anytime, anywhere.

And right now, he’s doing it on the couch. Curled up with Alec.

They’ve been like this all day. They’ve gotten up a few times, to use the bathroom, or get some food, or change positions when one of their limbs falls asleep. But for the most part, they haven’t done a damn thing.

Right now, Alec is sprawled out across the length of the couch. This week’s model has really high, squishy arms, stable enough for him to recline with his legs stretched out, so he’s not quite sitting, not quite lying down.

And Magnus is cozied in between Alec’s legs, resting his head against Alec’s chest, using Alec’s thigh as an armrest to help prop up the creepy demon book (which only makes Alec slightly uncomfortable, even though Magnus has assured him it’s perfectly safe).

Alec had spent the night, so they’ve been like this since they first woke up. Magnus is still completely un -made-up, clean face and loose hair, wearing a ridiculously soft silk robe without a damn thing underneath it. But Alec-

Alec’s somehow…

Huh.

He hasn’t actually thought about it like this before, but he realizes that he’s reached a point in his life where he’s more comfortable with a full face of makeup. While Magnus uses a Nothing Day as a chance to not put on anything, Alec uses it as a chance to put on everything. He still only uses the barest traces of makeup when he’s at the Institute, so a day spent entirely in the loft is a chance for him to try out all the stuff he’s still working to understand. So his ‘lazy day in’ look includes foundation, eyeshadow, and a new bronze-colored lipstick (because Magnus said it would look good with his eyes). And it’s not just that. It’s…

Panties aren’t really ‘new’. Not anymore. It’s been almost two months since Magnus took him shopping, since he started building up his own little collection of pretty lingerie. He’s been wearing pretty things like this every single day for almost two months.

But it’s still really different to get to wear just a pair of dark blue panties, made of nothing but ruffled layers of lace. Just the panties, with no jeans or sweatpants or anything ugly covering them. Nothing to hide them. He loves these panties. Not only because the lace is so soft and comfortable, but because… this particular shade of blue…

It goes really well with the tank top he’s wearing.

The tank top is new. Magnus gave it to him a few days ago. And while it’s pretty damn obvious that Magnus ‘secretly’ wants Alec to wear it outside the loft, he seems perfectly pleased to see him willing to wear it inside. It’s at least something. It’s a start. They both know it’ll be a while before he wears this where someone else could see him. Because it’s… nice. It’s…

It’s pretty.

Alec isn’t quite sure where Magnus found it. He’d just had it waiting in his closet one night, hanging next to Alec’s other clothes. It’s not like it’s fancy or anything. It’s just a soft, cotton tank top. It’s thick stripes of white and gray, with…

Lace.

It’s the first time Alec’s worn lace on anything other than his underwear. And it shouldn’t really be that different, but it… yeah. It is.

The tank top has a thick border of lace on the bottom, at least two inches of it. And there’s a slightly thinner trim on the top. The straps are entirely lace. And it’s all the same dark blue as his panties. It matches perfectly. It’s cut low on his chest, with a little dip right in the middle. Alec’s not sure if this is genuinely a woman’s tank top, or if it was just designed to look like one. But it definitely has that whole - that whole cleavage thing happening.

Which is probably why Magnus wanted him to wear it so badly. It’s tight. It barely covers his chest, it doesn’t cover his arms or shoulders at all. The fabric is thin. It…

Fuck. It shows off more than it covers.

That’s why he’s wearing it now. It’s pretty - it’s so pretty - but it makes him feel just about as naked as actually being naked does.

But that’s fine right now. Because it’s just them. At home. On a Nothing Day. He’s just wearing lace panties. And a lace tank top. And his makeup turned out really good. He looks… pretty. And he and Magnus are snuggled up on the couch, with no reason to leave. Just snuggled up. Being pretty together.

It’s really fucking nice.

They’ve had an endless queue of movies playing on the tv. All ones that they’ve watched enough that they don’t really need to pay attention to enjoy them anymore, but if they want to pay attention, it’ll be entertaining. It’s the perfect background for this kind of laziness. Something they can go in and out of and still appreciate. Right now, they’re about three songs into ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ (which is a bit too intense for a Nothing Day in Alec’s opinion, because if he accidentally starts paying attention at the wrong time, he’s gonna burst into tears, and that’s not what he wants right now). Magnus has been humming along, but his focus has been entirely on his work.

Until Alec started talking.

Because it’s a Nothing Day.

And for some reason, for some weird reason that Alec will never understand, Nothing Days just… make Magnus talk.

Like, really  talk.

The things he’ll never say, that he’ll never admit to anyone, not even Alec. He’ll say them on a Nothing Day. It makes no fucking sense. Alec thinks that maybe the laziness wears off his mental filter? Whatever it is, he’ll tell Alec things on a Nothing Day that Alec can try for weeks to pry out of him otherwise. It’s strange, all the alcohol in the world doesn’t loosen Magnus’s tongue at all. But a day on the couch watching movies could make him write a tell-all memoir. Which is why Alec saves all of his questions for Nothing Days.

Like this one.

It’s not like Magnus wouldn’t explain his accent on any other day. It’s just easier to start the conversation like this. Without a lead-in, or a reason. It’s so easy to ask Magnus anything when he’s like this.

“Is it, like…” Alec tips his head back against the sofa as he tries to accurately form his question, “Do you have to think about it? With all those languages and stuff, do you have to pick what your accent sounds like? Did you choose to have an American accent at some point?”

Magnus chuckles as he carefully turns another frail page in the demon book. “I suppose you could say that. I can do an impressive number of accents.”

Alec perks up-

“No,” Magnus says flatly, answering the question before Alec can ask it, “I’m not going to do a bunch of accents for you.”

Alec frowns, both at Magnus, and at his game of FreeCell, which he seems to have lost already. “But you don’t always sound American?”

“Well-” Magnus starts, but stops immediately, like he has to think harder than he expected. He starts nibbling absently on the end of his pen. “I sound however I want to sound. I do what suits me best in any given situation.” He crosses out something he’d written at the top of the notebook page and re-writes something else in tiny letters above it. “There are clients who are willing to pay more if I seem… mystical. Particularly mundanes; they just love the idea of an exotic sorcerer. I’m always willing to exploit their prejudices for profit. And, of course, there are nephilim who won’t pay me at all if I seem even the slightest bit foreign, no matter where I live at the time.”

He scribbles some sort of symbol into the margin. “Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly morbid, I like to prove to everyone - and myself, I suppose - that I don’t…” he takes a breath, and taps his pen against the page. “That I don’t really belong anywhere. That it’s been too long, and I can’t have a ‘home’ anymore. A native language, or accent.” He hums lightly, like he’s bouncing away from that thought. “And you’d be surprised, darling, at how many places you can go where people automatically assume that an Asian man must be foreign. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding someone like that, and speaking to them in their own language. Speaking it better than they do.” He chuckles to himself as he flips back a few pages in his notebook, looking at a diagram-thing he’d drawn a few hours ago.

Alec breathes out a quiet laugh as he hopelessly tries to salvage his current card game. “So do you always have to think about it? Before you talk?”

“Oh, god no,” Magnus says, a bit more dramatically than necessary. “I would never speak again if I always had to put that much effort into it. No, I’ve been vaguely American long enough for it to be the default.” He makes a quiet sound, and somehow Alec can just tell that he’s smirking even though he can’t see his face. “However, it’s still surprisingly easy to accidentally slip away from speaking English from time to time, if I’m…  distracted enough. But of course,” he shifts, and his lower back rubs rather… noticeably against Alec’s crotch, “you already know that.”

Blood rushes to Alec’s face so suddenly that it makes his eyes slip out of focus, and his phone screen blurs into illegibility.

Because… yes. Alec does know that. Alec is well aware of that.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but still. There have been several occasions where Magnus has - fuck - where he’s moaned out Alec’s name, and followed it with a string of words that Alec can’t understand. The first time it had happened, Alec hadn’t even been able to tell what language it was. But after a while, he’s realized that there are some weird patterns to it. By now, Alec knows that Magnus is most likely to slip into Portuguese when they’re being particularly gentle and loving with each other, French when Alec is being unusually assertive, and Tagalog, which Alec has only ever heard Magnus speak when Alec is - he feels his blush intensify at the thought - fucking him (which is way too specific to be a coincidence, and Alec kinda wants to know the story behind that).

Alec can practically feel the stutter building in his throat, so he chooses to not say anything. He just makes a small sound of acknowledgement that does not end up sounding like a squeak, and goes back to his card game - which he then remembers that he’s lost.

And Magnus goes back to circling and crossing out various symbols in his little diagram. Pretending that he’s blissfully unaware of the images he’s just put in Alec’s head, or of how his back is still a little too snug against Alec’s dick. Casually pretending like he has no idea. He just keeps working, and starts humming along to ‘Sugar Daddy’ (and that timing is far too convenient for it to be an accident, dammit).

It’s… it’s mean. That’s what it is. Nothing Days are for laziness and relaxation, not for Alec to spend every drop of energy he has actively trying to make his blood rush to his face just so it can’t go anywhere else.

Just to get his damn brain under control again, he scrambles to try and think of one of the other questions he’d wanted to ask today. He’d had a bunch of them, why the fuck can’t he think of any just because Magnus makes a vague reference to sex? It’s not fair-

Oh, yeah.

“So do you- um. In other languages, do you have… different nicknames?” He clears his throat, finally feeling his face start to cool down. “I mean, like, nicknames that come from your actual name. Not like ‘dear’ or anything, I know that’d be different.”

Magnus goes back to tapping his pen against the page. He makes another little thinking noise. “I suppose it’s pronounced differently in a few languages, but I’m not sure if that’s what you mean.”

“Really?”

“Mmmm-hm,” Magnus shifts a little bit, stretching out his legs and finally sliding his back to a more comfortable distance from Alec’s dick. “It’s particularly cute in Danish. But while I appreciate the charm, it certainly ruins the whole ‘badass’ quality that drew me to the name in the first place.”

Alec chuckles. “Do people always end up giving you the same sorts of nicknames? Or do you have like, hundreds of different ones?”

“I think you may be overestimating the number of people who think they can give pet names to the High Warlock of Brooklyn, darling,” Magnus says with just a hint of sarcasm.

“I'm serious,” Alec says as he struggles to suppress laughter. “Does everybody end up calling you the same things, or are there enough that it’s…” he gets tied up in his own train of thought, and has to stop talking to disentangle himself. “Is it weird to have two people call you the same thing? Would it be weird to hear… I mean, like if I called you a nickname that someone else gave you a hundred years ago. Would that be weird for you?”

Magnus starts chewing his pen cap again, and he somehow manages to make it seem playful. “I don’t think I’d mind, per se. I suppose you could if you wanted to. I’m just not sure if calling me ‘Sugar’ or ‘Pussycat’ is really your style.”

Alec makes an inarticulate, shocked sound before he can think better of it. “Someone called you Pussycat?” He’s proud of himself for only sounding mildly horrified.

Magnus nods, and his loose hair tickles Alec’s barely-covered chest.

Alec’s not really sure why he cares, but he finds himself asking “Who was it?” with a sense of morbid fascination. “Why would anyon-” he closes his eyes. “By the Angel, it was Camille, wasn’t it?”

“It was Ragnor.”

Wh-

Alec chokes on the first burst of laughter, but the rest of it comes out just fine. Sudden, loud, and strong enough to shake his body so hard that he’s afraid he might make Magnus fall off of the couch.

“It was not Ragnor,” Magnus says placatingly, rubbing Alec’s thigh like he’s trying to soothe him.

But the damage is done. Alec can’t fucking breathe. And his enthusiasm is just making Magnus laugh too, which sets him off further, and it’s horrible circular reaction, and in a handful of seconds Alec’s laughing so hard that his stomach hurts.

By the time he manages to calm the fuck down, he’s tired. He’s fucking tired from laughing. He’s not sure if that says more about how hard he’d laughed, or just how little he’s had to physically exert himself today. Serves him right for skipping his morning workout.

But even though he’s suddenly exhausted and blinking actual goddamn tears out of his eyes, he still can’t quite get the idea out of his head. “So, was it Camille?”

Magnus is still giggling a little, and readjusting his Alec-shaped armrests. He sighs grandly. “No. That particular name came out of a little fling in the early twenties. Honestly…” he bites down on the pen, making a sound like he’s really thinking hard. “I don’t think I even remember his name. Hm.” He writes a few more words in his notebook. “To be fair, I doubt he would have remembered my name either. We weren’t exactly there for the conversation.”

Alec wrinkles his nose.

He likes hearing about Magnus’s past- fuck, he absolutely loves it. But no matter how much he loves hearing stories about Magnus’s past relationships, he’s still not a huge fan of hearing stories about Magnus’s past sexual exploits. Alec doesn’t know why the fuck that differentiation is so important to him. It’s not like it’s anything to do with jealousy. He’s perfectly aware that most of the relationships he does like hearing about included plenty of sex, and that awareness never bothers him. It’s just the stories that are only about sex that make him uncomfortable. He thinks maybe it’s somehow… too invasive. It’s too private. Too personal. Alec doesn’t like thinking about Magnus having sex with anyone else, not because he’s jealous of Magnus’s history, but because it’s none of his goddamn business.

That actually… huh. That actually makes sense. Alec thinks that might be it. When he hears about Magnus’s more serious relationships, Alec doesn’t ever have to think about the more… intimate side of things. But if he knows someone was literally just with Magnus for sex, he doesn’t have much of a choice, does he? There’s a huge difference between hearing about the people Magnus really loved, and hearing about nameless guys who called him ‘Pussycat’ and ‘Sugar’-

Except- wait.

Sugar.

Alec knows that one. He’s heard it before.

Or, no. He’s seen it before. That wasn’t some random fling. That was Etta. She’d written it on the cover of her record, the one she’d autographed for Magnus as joke after she first recorded it. Magnus had shown the signed cover to Alec, the last time he’d played it.

Because Magnus plays her record a lot more now. Now that he’s finally talked about her. She used to be the one subject that seemed to be completely off-limits. The mystery woman singing on the record player. Alec had always hated it. Not understanding. Not knowing why this one memory was so painful that Magnus either wouldn’t or couldn’t ever speak about her.

But now, he gets it. Unlike most of Magnus’s other stories, this one is still too… fresh. Too recent. Alec’s pretty sure that she’s the only relationship Magnus had in the entire twentieth century. The only real, serious relationship, anyway. An entire century, and only one person. Alec can’t even try to comprehend how long it must take to recover from losing someone like that. And even though Magnus still hasn’t told him exactly when Etta died, he knows it wasn’t very long ago. A couple decades, at most. It’s not very hard to understand why Magnus only felt comfortable telling Alec about her a few weeks ago.

But that…

That’s another question he has.

Alec knows Magnus is alright with talking about her now. He knows this isn’t off-limits anymore.

But it’s still a little nerve-wracking, after such a lighthearted conversation, to ask “How long were you and Etta together?”

Magnus inhales through his nose, sharp enough to be audible. Alec can feel Magnus’s shoulders tense against his stomach. He obviously wasn’t expecting this particular change in subject.

It takes a moment, but eventually Magnus sighs out, relaxing against Alec again. “Sixteen years. Well, almost. Two months shy of sixteen years.”

But-

No… that’s not…

That can’t be right.

“I thought…” Alec swallows a lump of inarticulate confusion. “I thought you met her in the forties?”

“Winter of thirty-eight.”

Sixteen years? But how could… Sixteen years means Etta would have died in the fifties. And Alec knows that’s not right. They should have been together for… something like forty-five years. At least. “I thought she-” Alec stops himself. Because even if Magnus is comfortable talking about Etta’s death, that doesn’t mean Alec is comfortable being the one to bring it up. “I thought it was more recent than that.” It seems like a fair way of phrasing it. It’s a little… vague. But Magnus can usually figure out what Alec’s trying to say.

And sure enough, after a moment of obvious confusion, Magnus breathes out a quiet “Oh.” And he sets down his book on Alec’s leg, keeping his thumb between the pages to hold his place. “Etta and I weren’t together when she died.”

That’s-

“What?”

How is that…? That doesn’t make sense.

“Etta left me, darling.” Magnus’s voice is gentle, and he rubs the back of his hand across Alec’s thigh. Almost like he’s trying to be… comforting. Like he’s trying to be careful about saying this. Like he’s worried about it sounding too harsh.

Fuck, it’s Magnus’s goddamn tragedy and he’s trying to be nice about it for Alec’s sake. It’s fucking ridiculous.

Magnus hums lightly, and puts on that forcibly cheerful tone that Alec’s become so unfortunately familiar with. “She left me and found herself a husband, and a family. All the things she wanted that I couldn’t give her.”

Well, fuck. That makes even less sense.

What the fuck is that supposed to even mean? Yes, Alec realizes he’s more than a little biased, but he doesn't understand why anyone would think they somehow couldn’t have those things with Magnus. Well, Alec knows warlocks can’t have biological children, but still. Marriage? Why would she think she couldn’t have that with him? Alec genuinely can’t imagine someone having that chance and not taking it. Hell, it’s not like Alec hasn’t thought about… once or twice…

But that’s not important.

Also… Alec wonders…

It was the forties, so maybe. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he’s an Asian man, and she was an African-American woman. With how much shit he has to put up with from shadowhunters, sometimes Alec forgets that Magnus faces just as much racism in the mundane world. It’s just for a different reason.

But, no matter what her reasons were…

Etta left him.

Alec didn’t know that. And yeah, he realizes that he’s never actually asked how that particular story ended, but. The way Magnus talks about her… it had never even occurred to Alec that they might have broken up. He’d been completely convinced that she’d stayed with him until she died. That they’d had at least a few decades together. In all of Magnus’s stories about her, they both always seem so… old. In a good way. A picturesque way. An old couple who’ve been together forever. Calm and comfortable and certain, like how Alec has always pictured grandparents’ marriages to be (not that Alec’s ever had any grandparents in his life to set that example).

And Alec knows that Magnus has…

Oh.

No. He doesn’t know. He’s just guessed. Inferred. From a few things that Magnus has said. Alec had always assumed that Magnus meant Etta, but if he was wrong about that detail, maybe… he’s wrong about the whole thing?

It’s a horrible question. It’s intentionally inviting awful, awful memories. But it’s a Nothing Day. They can talk about anything on days like this. And if Magnus doesn’t want to answer, Alec knows he just - won’t answer. So…

“But you… you have done that before?” Alec fiddles with his phone - even though the screen’s gone black - just for something to do with his hand. “Been with someone mortal until…” He tries to find a better way to say it. Well, a less terrible way, at least. There’s no good way. “Been with them their whole life?”

Magnus has completely abandoned the pretense of working on his translation now. The book is still closed on Alec’s thigh, and his other hand is resting on his notebook, gripping his pen tightly in his fist. Alec’s not sure if he’s going to say anything. It doesn’t seem like he will. Maybe he’ll turn up the volume on the movie instead, to stop the conversation. Or he’ll change the subject. Or he’ll go back to his work. Ignore the question completely.

Alec can feel the tension in Magnus’s body, and he feels horrible for it. He feels like an absolute jackass for bringing up something like this. It had been such a nice day, and Alec's gone and fucked it all up for curiosity's sake. He’s not entirely surprised with himself for ruining the nice mood, but he’s definitely disappointed-

“Once.”

The silence between them had gotten so tense that Magnus’s voice seems loud, even though it’s barely above a whisper.

Magnus takes a deep breath, rising and falling a little against Alec’s chest. “A very long time ago. I was practically still young then, in the traditional sense.” He breathes out a sort of half-laugh through his nose. “She certainly always made me feel young, anyway.”

And that should be the end of it. Alec knows that should be the end of it. But he’s had this idea in his head for such a long time, and now he’s finding out that the truth is completely different, and Magnus answered him so he must not be too upset by the subject and Alec’s goddamn curiosity is getting the better of him-

“Do you still love her?” It’s out of Alec’s mouth before he can think better of it.

Because that’s crossing the line. That’s crossing every fucking line there is.

Who the fuck is he to ask a question like that? Like it’s not bad enough for him to bring up a subject this personal, this painful, now he’s gotta get weirdly invasive about it too. It’s not his place to ask something like that, even if he really does want to know. What the fuck is he thinking?

He’s about to apologize and take it back and take back everything else he’s ever said in his entire life…

But Magnus just makes another little noise. Like he’s considering it. He sounds a little… surprised. But not upset. 

“In a way,” he says quietly. “Not the same way as when she was alive. But…” He hums, and starts idly twirling his pen between his fingers. “I don’t think anyone who loses someone they love ever really stops loving them. You move on, of course. It’s not the same, present sort of love. But it’s still there, in the background. Like a memory.” He gives another one of those breathy, sort-of-laughs. “Because they died while you still loved them. That’s what you know, what you’re left with. You can’t unlearn it. It’s muscle memory.”

Magnus moves a bit, like he’s trying to cozy himself further into Alec’s space. Alec immediately lets his phone drop to the couch cushions, and he wraps his freed hands around Magnus’s waist. His first instinct is to change the subject, to think of a different question for him. One of the silly ones. He has a few of those. The least he can do is help lighten the mood.

But he doesn’t. Because there’s something in the way Magnus is breathing, something about the quality of the silence that lets Alec know that he isn’t done yet. He can tell that Magnus is gonna say something else, he’s just figuring it out first. Alec runs his fingers across Magnus’s stomach, feeling the silk under his fingertips. And he waits.

At least a full minute must pass before Magnus takes a deep, preparatory breath. “It’s been such a long time. When you have a few centuries to grieve, eventually the pain fades, and the memories are all good ones. But… th- hm.” He clears his throat. Alec’s not used to hearing him fumble his words like this. “Sometime around the turn of the last century, I realized… I can’t quite remember what she looked like.” His whole body tenses again for a moment.

And then he laughs. One of his forced, broken laughs. “That wasn’t exactly a pleasant realization. Honestly, it put a damper on the whole decade,” he says, clearly trying to sound flippant.

By the Angel.

Fuck.

Alec opens his mouth.

Fuck.

He closes it again.

Because what could he say to that?

What the fuck could anyone possibly say to that?

It’s so…

Unthinkable.

Alec’s always known that Magnus’s immortality has taken away so many people he’s loved. But he’d never thought that it was possible - he’d never even considered - that it could take away something as personal and invaluable as his memories.

And it… it sort of makes sense. Hundreds of years. Alec can’t even remember things that happened a couple of months ago. Hundreds of years. Yeah, that’s definitely enough time for something to slip away.

But it’s so… cruel. It’s fucking cruel to think that after already having to endure the pain of losing someone he’d loved, Magnus has also lost something so basic. So fundamental. The idea that he couldn’t keep her, and now he can’t even have the memory of her face-

Shit.

There’s…

In a stupid, stupid moment of truly disgusting vanity, Alec feels a flicker of… fear.

It’s horrible. It’s the most selfish thought he’s ever had in his entire life. But he can’t help but wonder if there’s going to come a time when… Magnus can’t remember what Alec looked like either.

It’s awful of him, but once it’s in his head, it won’t get out. He can’t help but wonder how many years it’ll take for the image of his face to slip out of Magnus’s mind. If he’ll be a series of memories where the actual person of him is blurred out. He tries to make himself stop thinking about it but it just sticks in his fucking brain until it’s oppressive enough to make his heart speed up-

But Magnus, being Magnus, just runs his hand across Alec’s thigh again. “It was before photographs, darling.”

Alec breathes out.

Right.

Obviously.

Right.

Now Alec doesn’t feel stupid for being selfish. He just feels stupid for being stupid.

But, fuck, it doesn’t make it any easier. Any less horrible.

Alec doesn’t actually know when cameras were invented, and he also doesn’t know exactly how old Magnus really is, but he figures Magnus must have been alive for quite a while before photography. And while Magnus keeps a lot of pictures, Alec’s never seen anything older than that, anything from before cameras. Any portraits, or drawings, or whatever else people might have done to preserve images.

Which means that this woman wasn’t even the only one. There must be so many people Magnus had known and cared about and loved whose faces have been taken from his memory. It's-

Magnus clears his throat again. And he reopens his book, and holds his pen to his notebook. The movie is between songs and there isn’t any music playing, but Magnus starts humming the last song again.

So. Conversation over, then.

Alec’s not surprised. He’s actually a little grateful. It’s not like there’s anything he could say to try and help. To make it better. And Magnus has said more than enough. He doesn’t talk about his past-past very often. The first century or so of his life. It’s usually one tiny fact, here and there, and that’s all. This was…

This was a lot more than a little tidbit. If he doesn’t want to say anything else about his early life for a few more months, Alec thinks that’s perfectly understandable.

He keeps one hand around Magnus’s waist, but he uses the other to pick up his phone again. Needing the distraction. Needing to think about something else. Needing a stupid card game.

But when he unlocks his phone, it doesn’t go back to his lost game. It goes to his home screen.

To the picture of him and Magnus.

It’s from a few weeks ago. They were on the subway (hardly Alec’s favorite means of transportation, but Magnus had stubbornly refused to make a portal to take Alec shopping for nail polish). It was the first time Alec had done a full face of makeup out in public, and he had even worn a purple shirt instead of black or gray. And Magnus had been fucking thrilled about it. He’d spent the entire evening dropping casual little compliments about how nice he thought Alec looked, and how excited he was about it, and it…

It had been really nice.

But however nice it was, Alec had still fought like hell when Magnus pulled out his phone to take a picture of them. He’d protested and complained and tried desperately to wriggle out of Magnus’s side-hug.

So the resulting picture features Magnus, in full view, beautifully framed, absolutely glowing even though he’s in that awful, dirty, fluorescent lighting…

And Alec, barely visible in the far right corner, blushing bright red and doing his best to duck out of sight.

Magnus had sent him the picture as a joke, since it’s not a good picture, really. But Magnus looks so happy, and beautiful. And even though Alec’s just a purple shoulder, some messy hair, and one sliver of his embarrassed face… he can still see his eyeshadow.

And it looks good. It looks damn good.

And he’d wanted the background of his phone to be a picture of him and Magnus. He thinks that’s fairly normal. But with how much Alec fucking hates having his picture taken, it’s not like he has many options. He always fights so hard when Magnus tries to get a half-decent picture of him-

Oh.

Shit.

Fucking hell.

Pictures.

It hits Alec so hard that he has to close his eyes and take a deep breath.

He’d never thought about it like this before. But… fuck. After what Magnus has just told him…

His eagerness to get a picture of Alec makes a lot more fucking sense.

Alec’s stomach twists, which isn’t exactly a comfortable counterpoint to his racing heart.

What the fuck was he thinking?

He’d always assumed it was just… for fun. Trying to take silly photos. Maybe a way to let Alec know when Magnus thinks he looks particularly good, even? But somehow, he’d never considered that Magnus just…

Wants pictures of him. Wants memories.

Alec wants to find a way to kick himself in the fucking face. How the fuck did it take him eight months to realize this?

And also…

He thinks about how much he loves this picture. Enough to make it the first thing he sees in the morning, after he turns off his alarm. And it’s not even a good picture. Why…

Why doesn’t he want more of that? If he likes this shitty half-framed subway photo so much, how much more would he love an actual good picture of the two of them? He should-

Fuck.

He should be taking pictures all the time. Simple, stupid pictures. Videos, even. Not just of big, important things. But all the little, unimportant shit. Because… why not? The thought of it is almost, sort of…

Comforting.

Because this doesn’t have to happen to Magnus again. He doesn’t have to forget… anything. They have an easy, guaranteed way to make sure that Magnus never has to forget what Alec looks like. His smile. What he looks like first thing in the morning. The exact color of his eyes. What his voice sounds like. His laugh.

Magnus can keep all of that. In a hundred years, two hundred years, a thousand years, he can still have it. Still have all his memories of Alec.

And even though that’s not exactly something Alec really enjoys thinking about, it’s also, kind of… nice.

Yeah, it’s pretty fucking morbid to sit here and think about his own death, but thinking about it in this particular context is… well. It’s certainly not bad. It’s not a bad feeling to think that in a hundred years, he might be one of these stories. That someday, Magnus is going to be telling someone else about the time he spent with Alec.

Because Alec’s been on the other side of that. He’s heard so many stories about other people, and, yeah. Hearing these stories is… It’s great. Magnus talks about the people he’s loved with so much tenderness and fondness and respect. And yes, obviously there’s some sadness to it, but for the most part, there’s really… not. Magnus doesn’t talk about regret and difficulty and loss. He talks about happiness. And love. The way he talks about these people is always so detailed and thoughtful and loving that Alec can’t help but understand exactly why Magnus loved them. Hell, Magnus has even made Alec understand what had drawn him to Camille when he was with her. Magnus has this incredible way of telling real stories about people. Not necessarily the most interesting or most important things that had happened with them, but the ones that make Alec feel he really knows who they were, and what they were like.

Magnus speaks so beautifully about the people he’s loved that Alec can’t help but feel a little… honored. To be on that list. To be a story that Magnus tells someday. Because it’ll be such a good story. Whatever he ends up telling someone about Alec, it’ll be nice. So nice.

And Alec can’t help but wonder… what story it might be. What would Magnus tell someone, two hundred years from now, to make them understand why someone like Magnus was ever interested in someone like Alec? Would it be their first kiss? Interrupting a wedding like one of those romantic comedies Clary and Simon always watch would certainly have some retell value. Or maybe something before that. Something about how difficult it was for them to finally get together in the first place. How much Alec had fought it, and how hard Magnus had to try. Hopefully it’s something a little nicer than that. Something… sweeter. Alec doesn’t want to be that stubborn, bitter guy who’d done everything in his power to not want to be with Magnus in the first place. Maybe it’d-

Ah, fuck.

Alec sighs out through his nose.

It’s gonna be when he fell down the fucking stairs, isn’t it?

Of course it is. Of course it is.

All these amazing stories about these amazing people and the amazing relationships they had with Magnus and then: ‘Oh, then there was Alec Lightwood, a trained warrior who fell down a flight of stairs on our first date just because he couldn’t handle a cute guy kissing him.’

Some legacy.

But, by the Angel, it’s so damn fitting that Alec can’t even be mad. It’s not like Magnus is going to look back on this relationship and remember Alec for his suaveness and emotional stability. No, he’s gonna remember Alec as the idiot who fell down the stairs, and took naps drooling on Chairman Meow, and stuttered the first time he’d ever said ‘I love you’. Hell, the goddamn picture he’ll end up showing people is probably gonna be Alec blushing.

Because that’s another thing that Magnus always does so well. When he tells Alec about someone from his past, he never just grabs the first picture of them he can find. He chooses carefully. And somehow, it ends up being even more impressive than the stories. Because it’s never a careless, ordinary photo. It’s something that’s so… honest.

The strip of silly pictures he’d taken with Etta in a photo booth on Coney Island. The blurry frame from after he and Camille had sat for a serious portrait when cameras were still new, where she’s leaning in to whisper something in his ear, and he’s trying so hard not to laugh. And - probably Alec’s favorite - the thick stack of polaroids of Ragnor, dozens of sloppily-taken photos of his face ranging from unamused to completely enraged, apparently all taken over the course of an hour, when Magnus had been a little too excited about the invention of photographs that developed instantly. The pictures Magnus chooses are just as important as the stories.

And, now that Alec’s finally going to take his head out of his ass about being a camera-shy idiot, he realizes that the picture Magnus will show people of him… probably doesn’t exist yet.

And that’s…

Pretty exciting.

Partly because he has some control in that. To some extent, he can choose how he’s remembered. He can take nice pictures with Magnus, where they’re happy, and where Alec looks pretty. Where Alec likes how he looks. Makeup and colors and smiling. It’s nice to know that he can be remembered as someone who liked himself.

And also… there’s just so much possibility in it. Alec doesn’t like getting ahead of himself, or being overly optimistic, or feeling like he’s thinking about this in a way that Magnus isn’t. But by now, after over half a year with Magnus… he doesn’t think it’s such a crazy idea. That the picture Magnus decides is quintessentially Alec might not be taken for a while yet. Maybe a long while. Maybe he’ll be old, with gray hair and wrinkles, after getting to have a few decades together. Maybe-

Huh.

Maybe it could… be a wedding photo. It’s-

It’s not something Alec’s really thought about. Then again, this isn’t the first time he’s thought about it either.

Except he’s not thinking about it. Not like it’s something that might ever…

It’s just. In this context. It’s a nice thought in this context. It’s such a nice image for this particular situation. If Magnus is gonna choose one picture of Alec to show someone centuries from now, to show who Alec was and how much he meant to Magnus…

It’s nice to think that it could be something like that. It’d get a point across so easily. So nicely. A wedding picture. A picture of a ceremony. With rings, and vows, all dressed up, with everyone there, everyone getting to see Alec say how much he loves Magnus, how much he wants this, and nothing else, for the rest of his life-

His heart is racing.

Magnus’s head is still against his chest. He can probably hear how hard Alec’s heart is beating.

Fuck.

He needs to pull himself together.

There’s no point thinking about this. It’s not like he’s gonna do anything about it. It hasn’t even been a year yet. It’s been eight months. Eight months. What is that? That’s nothing. Especially to someone who’s hundreds of years old. It’s only been a few months. Alec needs to calm the fuck down.

Magnus is still working, though he’s silent now. Just making small notes, flipping pages, chewing his pen. But he’s still a little tense.

And, fuck. That’s all Alec’s fault. For bringing up such shitty subjects. By the Angel, it’s a goddamn Nothing Day, and Alec just keeps making Magnus talk about death. What the shit. Why doesn’t he throw in a couple questions about Magnus’s parents, too? Really rub some salt in the wound?

Alright.

He can still fix this.

Questions.

He’d had a lot of them, and he’s only asked a handful. And there are still some good ones. Some that might actually make Magnus happy for a change. Alec wracks his brain as he unlocks his phone again.

Oh. Right.

“You never really slept with Michelangelo, did you?”

Magnus makes one odd, startled sound.

But then, he laughs. And the sound makes Alec think that he might be doing something right after all.

“No, darling,” Magnus says, and this time there’s nothing forced or insincere about the amusement in his voice. “I’m afraid that by the time I was sexually active, he was far too dead for my taste.”

Yeah, Alec had thought as much. It’s a little strange to not know exactly how old his boyfriend is, but he was pretty sure the entire century was wrong in this case.

But that just brings up a different question: “So why’d you say that you did?”

Magnus shifts his hips, just a little bit. “Well, I don’t know if you recall, darling, but there was a devastatingly cute boy in my apartment at the time. I couldn’t have him laboring under the misapprehension that I’m heterosexual, now could I?”

“And your first instinct was to say ‘I fucked a Renaissance painter’?” Alec asks, doggedly ignoring the fact that Magnus just called him cute, because he doesn’t want to start blushing.

Magnus laughs again. “Well it worked, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, you weren’t exactly being subtle.”

Magnus scoffs. “How dare you. I was being masterfully mysterious.”

“You looked right at me when you said it.” And this time, Alec does blush, just at the memory. “Besides, that wasn’t when-”

Alec cuts himself off, with a graceless choking sound. Which he then tries to cover with a cough. He pointedly gives his full attention back to his phone, even though Magnus can’t see him, and does his best to pretend he didn’t say anything.

But as if that was going to work. “That wasn’t when what, sweetheart?” Magnus sounds genuinely curious, not teasing or prodding at all.

And…

Fuck.

With the things Magnus has said today, the things Alec has asked him and he’s answered so painfully honestly… Alec would have to be a total fucking dick to not return the favor and admit some crap of his own.

He takes a deep breath, trying to keep his pulse from accelerating.

“The whole Michelangelo… thing. That wasn’t when I realized- when I noticed. That you, uh… were. Interested. In me.”

Magnus chuckles dryly. “Yes, I’m fairly certain it took a few more weeks for that to finally sink in-”

“No,” Alec cuts in softly, “I mean I… I already knew. I could already tell, before that.”

There’s a few moments of silence, during which Alec’s face heats up about a thousand degrees.

Finally, Magnus tilts his face to the side. He still can't see Alec's face, but it feels more… invested, somehow. “Alexander, are you telling me that you knew I was flirting with you that day?”

Alec actually chuckles at that. “Like I said. You weren’t being subtle.”

“And when, pray tell, did you catch on?”

Somehow, Alec’s face finds a way to get even hotter. He’s not used to… talking about crap like this. Yes, he loves Magnus, but for some reason, talking about things that have already happened, feelings he’s felt in the past…

It’s so goddamn embarrassing he thinks he might die.

But, fuck. He knows he needs to do this.

“Y-you, ah-” He swallows. “You called me pretty.” Oddly, saying it out loud makes him smile a bit. “You said ‘pretty boy’. To me.” He laughs nervously, and it feels ridiculous.

But Magnus doesn’t laugh. He just hums quietly. “I certainly did.”

“I- I hadn’t…” Alec doesn’t know why his mouth is still going, but he feels like he’s not capable of stopping it. Because Magnus should know this. This is… kinda nice. “No one had ever… called me that. Before. It was the first time anyone ever said it to me.”

It doesn’t sound like much. But it was… hell. At the time, it was everything. For someone to say that to him, to use that word to describe him… And for it to be someone like Magnus. Someone too important to give compliments without meaning them. Someone so unbelievably beautiful.

Well. Needless to say, Alec certainly hasn’t forgotten how that felt. Even if he doesn’t know how to express any of that with words.

But of course, this is Magnus, so he doesn’t need to.

Because Magnus just tilts his head back, as far as he can, so he can look up and see Alec’s face. “Well, I call them like I see them, angel.”

Alec rolls his eyes, but he knows it probably doesn’t do much to counteract his blush. Or the smile that he can’t quite smother.

Magnus just laughs, and goes back to his work. But Alec can’t handle these damn butterflies that have swarmed in his stomach, so he needs to change the fucking subject again.

“Okay, so… that’s a no for Michelangelo.”

“No for Michelangelo,” Magnus confirms with amusement.

So Alec can mentally cross that off and go to the next bullet point on his ‘I wonder if Magnus has ever hooked up with them’ list. “What about Raphael?”

“I have not had sex with any ninja turtles, darling.”

Alec laughs. “No, like, Raphael. Raphael Santiago.”

Magnus-

He shrieks.

He literally, actually shrieks in disgust. Alec’s never heard a sound like it before.

Magnus drops his demon book and his pen and sits up - for the first time in several hours. He twists around so he can actually look at Alec, which also hasn’t happened in quite a while. And he looks outraged. “Alec, do not speak to me again for a few days,” he says sharply, holding up a finger. “I need time to thoroughly scrub that disgusting image from my mind.”

Alec’s trying his best not to laugh - he really is - but a few little gurgles still manage to slip out of his throat. “Sorry! I didn’t know.” His voice shakes a bit with the effort to keep it steady. This is just… this definitely isn’t the reaction Alec was expecting. “I just thought… I mean, you’ve known each other for a long time. And he’s- y’know…” He picks his words very carefully. “He’s kinda… cute. In a broody way.”

Magnus gapes at him. Mouth hanging open and everything. He closes his eyes for a moment, like he’s trying to gather himself. Then, he takes a deep breath. “Let me shut this notion down as succinctly and completely as possible for you.”

“No, Mags, I get it, you don’t have to-”

“First of all,” Magnus says grandly, turning his finger so he’s holding it up as a placeholder instead of pointing it in Alec’s face, “he’s not interested. One hundred percent asexual. Second,” another finger, “he’s twelve. Yes, he’s seventy-nine, but let’s be honest, he’s twelve. And third,” instead of holding up another finger, he points out into the living room, like he’s gesturing to some invisible representation of Raphael in the room, “that blood-sucking turd may belong in a dumpster, but he’s also like a son to me.” He grimaces and shivers a bit. “The thought is downright incestuous.”

Alec holds up his hands in surrender. “Alright. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry.” He can’t quite keep the smirk off his face, but he does his best.

Because it’s… well it’s kinda cute. To see Magnus get worked up like this. Especially about Raphael. Alec was aware that Magnus knew him in his first days as a vampire, and Magnus has frequently referred to himself as having ‘raised’ him like a child. But this is the first time he’s used the word ‘son’. Actually, this is the first time Magnus has said anything about Raphael that doesn’t sound like thinly-veiled hatred. Alec distantly wonders if Raphael has ever said he thinks Magnus is like a father to him. Alec chokes back another laugh. With all the glitter and whiskey and sarcasm, Alec can’t quite picture anyone considering Magnus Bane to be a father figure.

Well, if anyone would, it kinda makes sense that it’s someone as snarky and weirdly fashionable as Raphael Santiago. They probably go shopping together.

Magnus is still recovering from his ordeal, sticking out his tongue and making unhappy little noises like he’s trying to get a bad taste out of his mouth.

Alec rolls his eyes. “Come on, get back here. I’m cold.” He can’t quite reach far enough to get his hands around Magnus’s waist, but he pets at his stomach a bit, trying to get the point across.

Magnus concedes, and turns back around to snuggle against Alec’s chest again. But he gives a dramatically grand sigh as he does so. Alec can hear him muttering under his breath, not loud enough for him to hear all of it, but he catches the words “snotty teenager” and “probably tastes like hair gel”.

Alec laughs a little as Magnus settles back in and picks up his books. But it brings up another point. “Raphael’s almost eighty?” Alec supposes it’s unlikely for an actual teenager to end up being head of the New York vampires, but still. It’s weird to think that Raphael is older than him. Especially an entire lifetime older than him.

Magnus nods calmly, apparently no longer traumatized by the previous conversation. “Just imagine that little shit as a teenager in the fifties.” He groans. “He was a nightmare.”

Without really meaning to, Alec pictures Raphael in a leather jacket, with ridiculously big pompadour hair, smoking a cigarette on the hood of an old t-bird. And-

Huh. He can’t tell if the image is completely fucking ridiculous, or if it kinda… makes sense. Him and the other vampires chasing down werewolves and getting into dance fights like in West Side Story.

Alec chokes on a laugh. At his own damn train of thought. And he doesn’t want to have to explain why if Magnus asks. He’s about to think through his questions again, except, this time-

He smirks. “I don’t believe you.”

“Hm?” Magnus is a bit more engrossed in his work now, and Alec thinks he might only be half-listening.

“I don’t think Raphael’s that old. That kid’s seventeen, tops.”

Magnus sort of chuckles, but not really. “So I’m just pretending to have known him for over sixty years?”

“That’s the thing,” Alec fights to make sure the smile on his face isn’t audible in his tone. “I don’t think you’re that old, either.”

“What, you think…” Magnus scoffs, but he sounds vaguely amused. “You’re saying that I’ve been alive for less than half a century?”

Alec makes sure he sounds completely serious as he opens up another card game on his phone. “I’m saying I don’t buy this whole ‘immortality’ thing at all. I think it’s a scam. You’ve said that people only pay big money for warlocks with an ancient reputation. I think you made it all up to get better business.”

Magnus lets out a sound that might be the start of a word, but it turns into an inarticulate breath. “So… everything I’ve told you? Hundreds of years’ worth of stories?”

“You have a very active imagination,” Alec says calmly. “That’s why you won’t tell anyone how old you actually are. I think you forgot what age you picked, and now you keep changing it so no one can tell you’re lying. ‘Oooh, I don’t tell anyone my real age,’ but it’s just ‘cause you can’t make up your damn mind.”

Magnus scoffs again, and it’s a little harder to tell if he’s pretending to sound offended. “And all the pictures? They span dozens of decades. You’ve seen me next to the Eiffel Tower while it was still being built.”

“Yeah, it’s called photoshop, Magnus.” Alec clicks his tongue derisively, like Magnus always does when he’s teasing Alec. It’s a nice moment of payback. “Photoshop, costumes, those old-timey picture places at mundane malls. I mean, you can alter anything with magic.”

“Oh, so in this conspiracy theory, I can still do magic? I at least have that?” Magnus asks sarcastically.

“Well yeah. I’ve seen you do magic. I’m not an idiot.”

“And all the other immortal people I know? Are you telling me they’re all just… in on the act?”

“Exactly.” Alec nods. “I don’t know if they’re just your friends, or if you’re paying them. But it’s all bullshit. Catarina’s clearly an actress you hired. You’ve probably only known Camille for a few months. I bet she’s actually really nice, she just wanted a dramatic backstory.”

Magnus is quiet for a moment, like he’s thinking this through carefully. Finally, he gives a smug little hum. “What about your parents? You’re telling me that I somehow convinced Robert and Maryse Lightwood to pretend they tried to kill me when they were in the Circle? And just so I could, what, try and impress you?”

This time, Alec’s the one who scoffs. “That’s your best source? Those racists? All downworlders look the same to them. They don’t even know who they know. Probably couldn’t even pick you out of a lineup.”

And Magnus laughs, loud and surprised. Alec can’t help but smile at the way it makes Magnus’s shoulders shake against his stomach. It takes a few seconds for Magnus to calm down, cuddling further into the couch cushions. “I think someone has snuck a few too many drinks from the minibar today.”

“Yeah, well I think you’re thirty-five, so,” Alec makes a dismissive sound.

“Hey!” Magnus nudges his elbow into Alec’s side.

Alec laughs. “Sorry. Twenty-five.”

Magnus laughs with him, which is nice. It’s not often that Alec gets to be the one teasing Magnus. He thinks this might be a good one to keep in mind. For anytime Magnus tells someone a different age. When he casually name-drops people he’s obviously never met. There’s plenty of opportunities for Alec to bring this back.

After a moment, Magnus closes his book. And he stretches out, pushing back against Alec and flexing his legs all the way down to his toes. He makes a sleepy little sound, not quite a yawn, but still adorably tired. He twists around a bit, until he’s lying on his side. It’s not really an ideal position, considering how propped-up Alec is against the couch. Magnus’s neck can’t be at a comfortable angle as he pillows his head on Alec’s chest. But regardless, he cozies himself in, and starts running his hand along the lace trim of Alec’s tank top.

And, yeah. It’s nice.

Lazing around on a comfy couch. Magnus snuggled between his legs. His pretty lace tank top. His makeup, which he knows is pretty, even if he can’t see it.

Nothing’s happening. And that’s really nice. Just talking, and laughing, and… being. Being together.

Yeah. Alec definitely loves days like this. 

Right when he starts thinking that Magnus might actually drift off into a nap, he stirs a bit. “Anything else?” he mumbles into Alec’s chest.

Alec smiles. He knows he gets too nosy on Nothing Days. But it’s nice to know that Magnus doesn’t mind. Besides, he still has some good questions left.

He thinks for a moment.

“Have you ever been in a duel?”

Magnus laughs. Quiet, and oddly excited. And he moves again, like he’s settling in. “Would you prefer swords, pistols, or magic?”

 

 

Chapter Text

This mattress is fucking terrible.

How the fuck has Alec survived his entire life sleeping on a mattress that’s this fucking terrible?

And, more importantly:

How the fuck has he not noticed it until now? How has he lived all these years in blissful ignorance about his own physical suffering?

For the thousandth time in two hours (though it feels like it’s been at least a few eons by now), Alec rolls over. He’s been on his back for a while, maybe it’s time to try his side again.

And - what a goddamn fucking surprise - the adjustment doesn’t help at all. He’s still uncomfortable as fuck and kinda jumpy and apparently tonight was the perfect time for him to realize that his mattress was probably used as a medieval torture device and-

And there’s literally no way in hell that he’s ever going to fall asleep tonight.

Alec fucking loathes nights like this.

He hasn’t had one in a while. Actually, it’s been long enough that he’d let himself be kind of… lulled. Into some false hope that they were permanently a thing of the past.

But, when he thinks about it… there have been such drastic improvements in his life recently, it’s just his luck that something shitty needed to happen. To balance things out. He’s had too many amazing nights lately, so the universe had to make sure he reached some sort of equilibrium of happiness and misery.

And thoughts like that are exactly why he can’t make his brain fucking shut the fuck up for two minutes to let him unwind enough to get tired. His body is basically begging him to fall asleep, but his brain is too busy force-feeding him ideas about sleep karma and fucking equilibrium.

He pulls the pillow out from under his head and smushes it against his face. He’s hoping that sandwiching his head between the mattress and the pillow will somehow keep him from being able to hear his own thoughts. And, failing that, maybe he’ll get deprived of oxygen and pass out. Yeah, it’s not ideal, but if it lets him have a few comatose hours Alec’s pretty sure it’d be worth it.

Godfuckingdammit, he just wants to sleep. It’s a basic physical need. Every single person needs it, every single night. It’s not an outrageous request, is it? He’s not being greedy for wanting this one basic element of survival, is he?

His body is fucking exhausted. He’s been out on patrol since dawn, and had been planning on coming back to the Institute and switching out shifts at six (even though that’s more than twelve hours. Over. Twelve. Hours. For one shift. Why don’t Shadowhunters have fucking labor laws?), and the day was perfectly uneventful. Yeah, it was long as fuck, but not much happened, and he was with Isabelle, which was nice, and it was… fine.

So, of course.

After a day of nothing happening, knowing he’d get to go home at six-

At five fifty-eight the report came in that a fight had broken out in a mundane bar. Between a couple of vampires and werewolves.

Of course.

Because it’s always the vampires and the werewolves.

By the Angel, Alec knows it’s not exactly a good mindset for trying to promote peace and harmony and shit, but some days he really thinks the practical solution would be to just make the vampires and werewolves move to opposite sides of the country. Hell, maybe opposite sides of the globe. Let the vampires take the countries where they only have sunlight for a couple hours a day. Everyone’s happy.

Well, they probably wouldn’t be happy. But at least they wouldn’t be getting into fucking bar fights right in the middle of Time Square.

And why did it have to be a mundane bar? If it had been a downworlder place, Alec and Isabelle wouldn’t have had to do shit. They could have just let them duke it out like any other bar fight until everyone gave up and went home with bloody noses.

Fuck, even though it was a mundane bar, Alec still doesn’t think it should have been their responsibility to take care of it. Why the fuck had Maryse told Alec and Isabelle they had to intervene? As if vampires and werewolves can’t take care of their own petty shit. As if they don’t have their own leaders, and their own rules, and their own people to enforce them. It’s not like this was some sort of attack on mundanes. The mundanes weren’t even fucking involved. They were just bystanders, and it’s not like anyone realized there was Shadow World bullshit going on. They just saw a goddamn bar fight. It was just a couple of dumb kids, intentionally looking to cause trouble because they’re teenagers and that’s what teenagers do.

Well, he supposes the vampires might not have really been teenagers, but they looked young enough to need fake ids just to get into the bar.

Either way, it makes no goddamn sense that this was somehow under nephilim jurisdiction. If it had been a regular bar fight, no one would have given a fuck. But then some witness just had to call into the Institute and report that the people fighting might have been downworlders and boom. Suddenly Shadowhunters think they have to stick their fucking noses in it.

Goddammit, Alec’s supposed to be stopping demons and other real threats to mundane safety, not breaking up teenage fistfights like he’s a principal at a shitty public school. And no, it’s not like there was any chance he was going to disobey Maryse…

But Alec’s pretty sure that if she hadn’t been there, Alec would have just called Luke and Raphael and let them deal with it. Because that’s their fucking job in the first place, not Alec’s. And they're perfectly capable of doing it. This had nothing to do with Shadowhunters. Maybe if mundanes had gotten involved, or if one of the werewolves had transformed right in the bar, then it would have been Alec’s job. But as it was, Maryse should have minded her own goddamn business.

Seriously. Alec loves his job-

Well. Nights like tonight, he can’t quite use a word that strong. But Alec… likes his job. He loves what his job is supposed to be. The actual, important, world-protecting part of it.  

But then days like this happen, where Alec’s forced to babysit downworlders and give them a slap on the wrist even though they weren’t anywhere near violating the Accords, since the Clave thinks Shadowhunters have the right to police everything downworlders do just because… fuck. Just because.

And it’s bullshit. It’s fucking bullshit and it’s not what Alec signed up for because it’s fucking bullshit and Alec may love what his job is supposed to be, but on days like this all he can do is wonder what sort of options Shadowhunters have for early retirement.

Yeah. That’d be nice. Give Maryse a fancy letter of resignation, pack up all three of his worldly possessions, and get the fuck out of here. Hell, he’d probably make better money working at a mundane fast food place anyway. He could learn how to make fries. It certainly sounds easier than killing demons.

Or maybe-

It’s not like Alec’s ever poked around in Magnus’s finances, but given his apparent lifestyle, it’s not hard to believe that he has enough money to support a small country. It probably wouldn’t even make a dent in his bank account to support Alec. Hell, Alec’s so ridiculously low-maintenance, the only real expense would be food. And since Magnus just magically takes food more often than not (he has an arrangement with the owner of the Whole Foods on third: she looks the other way when inventory doesn’t quite match up, and Magnus sends a check every month), the actual expense probably wouldn’t even change. Alec certainly doesn’t think Magnus would mind.

Yes. This is perfect. It’s the best idea Alec’s ever had. He’ll quit being a Shadowhunter, move out of the Institute, move in to Magnus’s loft, and live a life of quiet luxury as Chairman Meow’s stay-at-home dad.

Alec chuckles weakly into his pillow prison.

Flawless plan. Ten out of ten.

The rational part of Alec’s brain starts blaring like a foghorn. Because the rational part of Alec’s brain realizes that it’s probably not great to seriously consider becoming Magnus Bane’s kept man after only four dates.

But the rational part of Alec’s brain can shove it, because they’ve been four excellent dates. Two and a half excellent weeks. Four excellent dates. No, Alec doesn’t have any basis for comparison, but he can still tell. They’ve been…

Fuck. They’ve been better than anything Alec thought he’d ever have.

Alec presses the pillow a little harder against his face. Because it’s dumb. It is very, very, very dumb that one fleeting thought about his dates with Magnus is enough to make his heart start flopping around all over the place. He’s a fully grown adult man; he should never feel butterflies in his stomach, much less feel them all the damn time because apparently they’ve set up permanent residence inside him like fluttery little parasites. All it takes is one word or mention or thought of Magnus and they just… fucking swarm. It’s ridiculous.

Totally ridiculous.

Totally fucking ridiculous.

And, kinda… nice.

Just a little bit.

Because it makes him feel sorta… warm. In a nice way.

And for as long as Alec can remember, his entire existence has been made up of equal parts anxiety and loosely managed self-hatred. So if there’s suddenly something that can actually make him feel the tiniest bit good, just by thinking about it… well. Alec doesn’t think he should have to begrudge himself that, just because it’s not exactly dignified.

After all, it’s not like it’s out of control. So what if his stomach still gets a little twisted up every now and then? It’s not like it’s gonna cause any problems. It’s not like he gets distracted. It’s not like he loses any of his restraint. It’s not like he has to drop everything and think about nothing but Magnus. It’s not like he has to stop whatever he’s doing and pull out his phone to read his thread of texts from Magnus whenever he starts thinking about him. He doesn’t have to do that at all.

But since-

Well.

Since it’s not like there’s anything better he should be doing right now (sleep is still a distant, unachievable dream), it’s not a problem that he’s sort of… already reaching for his phone. Like he’s on autopilot.

He just wants to check the time, or something. It’s just that. Nothing else.

And it’s not like it’s his fault that when he unlocks his phone, it shows him their text conversation right away. He just forgot to exit out of it when he put his phone down for the night. There’s nothing wrong with that.

And-

Well. If his phone is already in his hand and Magnus’s texts are already right there…

It’s not like there’s any reason not to read them again. His eyes just happen to trail down to the bottom of the screen, and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to read Magnus’s last text again. Magnus always sends the last text of the night, and it’s always something nice-

Oh. Right. Except this time. This time, it’s:

Alexander, put down your phone and GO TO SLEEP!!!

And an emoji that Alec would describe as ‘exasperated’.

He laughs, though it’s just a breathy shake of his shoulders with no real sound.

The text is preceded by a lengthy and heated conversation where Alec tried to make Magnus understand that there’s no chance he’s going to fall asleep, so he might as well stay up and keep talking. And Magnus had just argued back with all this logical crap about how it’s one in the morning and how Alec definitely can’t fall asleep if he’s texting instead of 'actually TRYING to sleep, for fuck’s sake Alec!!

Alec laughs again as he rereads that text. Magnus swears a lot more when he texts than when he talks. And he always uses really specific emojis, and he uses a bunch of them when he can’t find one that’s specific enough. And Alec knows he uses all sorts of chat-speak things when he texts other people (especially Raphael, for some reason? Alec accidentally saw their text thread once when he picked up Magnus’s phone and it was incomprehensible ), but he always spells everything out when he texts Alec. And he always texts Alec last. Alec texts him first in the morning, Magnus texts him last at night.

Alec smiles. It’s…

By the Angel.

It’s dumb.

It’s dumb, it’s dumb, it’s so fucking dumb. He’s Alexander Lightwood and he’s a goddamn Shadowhunter and he practically runs this fucking Institute and he’s an adult and his face is still mostly covered by his pillow and he’s smiling into his mattress because he’s reading goddamn text messages.

What the fuck is wrong with him?

Magnus was right. Alec needs to put away his goddamn phone and forget about whatever the fuck is going on with his stomach and his heart right now and he’ll just go to sleep and everything will be normal. He won’t be getting all sappy over a few fucking texts.

Not even the really nice ones.

Not even the ones Magnus had sent throughout the day in case Alec got bored while he was on patrol.

Or the one where he’d first tried to say goodnight tonight. The one with all the different colored heart emojis.

Or the one-

From last night. The one he’d sent after Alec left the loft, the one waiting on Alec’s phone when he got back to the Institute. The one he’d sent right after their fourth date.

I had a wonderful time tonight, darling. I hope it was just as wonderful for you.

He hadn’t phrased it that way after the other dates. Yeah, he always makes a point of telling Alec that he’d had a good time (which is enough to bring back those goddamn fucking butterflies), but last night was the first time he’d snuck in that little… check. He didn’t outright ask if Alec was- if Alec had enjoyed it. But he kinda… left it out there. The sort-of question. It was clear that he wanted to know if Alec enjoyed their date, that he wanted actual reassurance. He’d never done that before. Because on this particular date…

Alec swallows.

On this date, something new had happened. That hadn’t happened on the previous three. Or any other time in Alec’s life.

Alec’s heart is pounding, which is dumb and stupid and ridiculous and all the other words he’s been using to describe himself since he started dating Magnus.

The beginning and middle parts of the date weren’t different. They’d gone out to dinner (this time it was an amazing Vietnamese place, probably Alec’s favorite restaurant so far), they’d sat and talked for over an hour after the food was gone, Alec had weakly protested as Magnus paid the check (even though they both know that there’s no way a Shadowhunter can afford dinner and drinks for two at the type of places Magnus picks for them), and they’d taken the very long way on the walk back to Magnus’s, even though it was drizzling a bit.

Even after they’d made it back to the loft, things had - Alec feels a shiver shoot up his spine - things had gone… as they usually do.

And how fucking unbelievable is that? That after two and a half weeks with Magnus, it’s already normal, it’s already an expectation and not a surprise for a date to end with them… holy shit. With them in Magnus’s bed. Together.

Somehow, Alec’s life has encountered a plot twist big enough that he can actually expect to end up in bed with Magnus Bane. Half-dressed, out of breath, kissing for what feels like hours…

That’s just… how their dates go. How all their dates have gone.

And every time, Alec has found a point where it felt natural to pull back, stop things before they could go any further-

Except…

Date number four.

Alec takes a deep breath, and it shakes a bit in his lungs. He’s still looking at his phone, even though the screen’s dimmed. His thin sheet suddenly feels as oppressive as a wool blanket.

It still started the same. Alec and Magnus, on Magnus’s bed. Most of the pillows shoved to the floor. Both of their shirts abandoned somewhere between there and the front door (and Alec’s mouth dries right up just at the memory of Magnus’s bare chest, his smooth skin, his abs, the flat spot where Alec had expected a belly button and found none, the way his pants had started to slip further and further down his hips…).

Magnus had been lying between Alec’s legs, just like he’d done before. And Alec had been almost painfully hard in his jeans, just like he’d been before. And he’d been desperately trying to ignore it, just like he’d done before.

And then, for no apparent reason, things had abruptly changed.

Because all of a sudden, even though nothing new was happening, it had been too much. Nothing was different, but this time, Alec couldn’t handle it. And he’d had to frantically nudge Magnus away, tell him to stop. He’d actually had to tell Magnus that it was too good, that he felt too unbearably good, and if they didn’t stop, Alec was going to come in his pants.

Well, obviously Alec hadn’t been able to say it like that. He’d just said “Stop- I’m gonna…” and made a string of inarticulate and embarrassing noises.

But Magnus had just pulled away from him. Stopped, like Alec had asked him to. He’d moved so he was next to Alec instead of on top of him. He put a couple of inches of mattress between them, so Alec felt like he could breathe again.

And he’d looked at him. Lying on his side, propped up on one elbow. Magnus had just… looked at him, with a serious, genuine expression. And he’d asked, “Do you want to?”

Like it was easy. Like it was that easy.

And… it was.

Alec doesn’t really know what he was expecting. Why he’d thought that somehow just wasn’t an option. He’s aware that he had a spectacularly sheltered upbringing, but somehow he’d still managed to get a hell of a lot of ideas about what relationships are supposed to be like. What intimacy is supposed to be like. He’s not quite sure when he’d actually learned anything about sex, but in everything that’s somehow been absorbed into his mind, he’s always known that coming in his pants during a make-out session is not allowed. It’s embarrassing, and immature, and rude to the other person. Like some sort of insult. Alec’s been convinced this whole time, possibly his whole life, that if he was ever going to have an orgasm with another person, the only acceptable situation was actual, legitimate sex. Nothing else. Anything else would be inappropriate. Wrong.

And then Magnus had just… offered.

He’d taken out all the complications. He’d completely side-stepped the fact that Alec is not at all ready to have sex yet. Alec’s not even ready to let Magnus see him naked, how could he possibly handle… everything else? And he’d been so sure that if he wasn’t ready for everything, he wasn’t allowed to have… anything. He didn’t think he was allowed…

He didn’t think he was allowed to have any of this.

He’s never thought- It’s never been a possibility for him. Even just as a nice, distant hope. He never thought he’d be allowed to feel… that. With someone.

And Magnus just asked. “Do you want to?” That was it. That’s all it took.

Alec was allowed to feel good.

It hadn’t taken much, once Alec had been able to get his body to cooperate enough to nod. He really had held out as long as he possibly could before stopping Magnus, and even once Magnus had stopped touching him entirely, he’d still felt ready to go off at any second.

But even knowing that it was okay, that it was going to happen and it was okay that it was going to happen, Alec had frozen. They’d jumped so suddenly from familiar territory to something so incomprehensibly new and Alec didn’t know how to handle it.

Of course, Magnus hadn’t had the same problem. He’d gone right back to where they’d left off, pulling Alec in and kissing him with just as much intensity… and maybe even a bit more enthusiasm than before.

That had been enough to kick-start everything in Alec that had shut down. He’d pulled Magnus back on top of him, tugged at Magnus’s arms until he’d gotten the idea and pinned Alec’s hands above his head, using every inch of himself to press Alec into the mattress, and in what had felt like no more than handful of seconds, Alec had…

Alec shivers. Which makes no goddamn sense, since it feels like his body is burning about a thousand degrees hotter than it should be. He finally abandons the pretense of looking at his phone and tosses it back onto the nightstand (even though he knows he should be a bit more gentle with it). It’s getting difficult to breathe, so he shoves the pillow off of his face. He’s restless again. Everything’s gone back to being jittery. He rolls over onto his stomach, resting his head on his folded arms - because he feels like he won’t be able to breathe if he so much as touches that pillow again.

He’d… With Magnus right there, with Magnus right on top of him. Magnus holding him down, and mouthing at his jaw, and thrusting and grinding their hips together, until Alec’s eyes squeezed shut and his mouth fell open and he’d-

He’d felt the best thing he’s ever felt in his entire damn life.

It’s not like it was the first time he’d ever had an orgasm. He knew the… basic idea. He wouldn’t exactly call it a familiarity, but it was at least an awareness. He hasn’t gotten off many times, but he knew what he was getting into.

Or so he’d thought.

By the Angel.

Alec was in no way prepared for how this had felt. Hell, there were a few seconds in there where he’d seriously considered the possibility that he was dying. He couldn’t breathe, and he couldn't tell if his heart was racing, or not beating at all.

It was just… so much. It had never been like that with himself. That’s always fast and perfunctory and not particularly pleasant. This was… he doesn’t even have words for it.

Alec can feel something course through his body, fast like a shiver, but warm. It starts in his chest and shoots out through his limbs. His fingers dig into the sheet beneath him until they’ve tightened into a fist. And his other hand is gripping his elbow so tight it’s almost painful. He shifts his face against the pillow of his arms, and he can feel that his cheek is burning.

It’s too late at night for this. Or it’s too early in the morning. Either way, this is not the correct train of thought to make him fall asleep. He’d promised Magnus when he said goodnight that he was really going to try to rest (though he’d been sure to point out the hypocrisy of the situation, since Magnus is making some sort of shape-shifting potion for a client and they both know that he’ll be working on it until morning without stopping for ‘trivial’ things like sleeping or eating). And there’s no fucking chance that Alec will be able to sleep if he gets distracted by memories of Magnus’s body on his, feeling the heat of skin against skin where their naked chests had touched, thrusting up desperately as Magnus pressed down, every cell in his body tensing until he thought he might shatter into a million pieces. His mouth was open when he came, and he still has no idea what sort of sounds he’d made. Maybe he said Magnus’s name. Maybe he was swearing. Maybe it was just a broken string of gibberish - that’s certainly more on-brand for him. He probably stuttered a few times.

When it happened, he didn’t have the chance to realize that he should be embarrassed until he’d calmed down. All of his nerves felt bright and too sensitive, the sweat on his skin suddenly cold, the mess of come in his boxers already getting uncomfortable. And he’d wanted to be embarrassed. He really had. It seemed like the appropriate thing to be. But before he could accurately grasp the shame he’d wanted to feel, he’d realized that Magnus-

Fuck. Shit fuck, fuck.

Magnus was still moving against him. Hips still grinding. His face pressed firmly against Alec’s sweaty cheek. His hands still holding Alec’s wrists and pinning them above his head, his grip tight, like Alec couldn’t break it even if he’d wanted to. Magnus had just kept rutting against Alec, making these little, breathy noises that just got littler and breathier as his hips sped up-

Until he’d stopped. And gasped. A sharp, loud inhale. And then a slow, shaky exhale, hot on Alec’s jaw.

Because…

Alec’s throat makes a weird noise without him wanting it to. He swallows to keep it from happening again, and that just makes him realize that his mouth is painfully dry. His heart is still speeding up and his skin is still burning and he’s starting to realize that he’s moving. He’s… shifting.

By the Angel, he’s grinding against the goddamn mattress. He doesn’t want to be, because it’s stupid, and it’s childish, and it’s impulsive and he’s goddamn better than this. But somehow he’s starting to get hard in his boxers and it’s not like it’s helping that all he can think about is how he’d felt better last night than he thought he’d ever be able to feel, and even if it was an embarrassing and stupid situation and even if he’d come in his pants like a fucking teenager…

Magnus had done the same thing.

It’s like there are coals in Alec’s gut, radiating heat up into his chest. The butterflies are back, but their wings burn.

Magnus had done the same thing. Right there. With him. With Alec. He’d come in his pants, like a teenager. He’d… he’d gotten off. He’d had an orgasm.

When he was with Alec.

Everything that Alec had felt - the heat, and the tension, and the moment when it all snapped, and the release, and everything that was so good… Magnus had felt it too.

Alec makes another noise, muffled into his arm, and it sounds small and pathetic. But he just can’t- he can’t even process that. The idea that there’s any way that Alec could make Magnus feel as good as Magnus makes him feel.

It doesn’t make any sense.

It makes perfect sense for someone like Alec to get off just from some kissing and whatever friction he can get through multiple layers of clothing. Because why the fuck not? It’s more than anything he’s had before. It’s new. Alec is so stupidly inexperienced that the slightest bit of intimacy is completely unfamiliar.

But this is Magnus. Magnus, with all his grace and elegance and experience, centuries of experience. Nothing about this is new for him. This is… old. This is boring. No, Alec doesn’t really know Magnus’s history, but he’s pretty damn sure that a little bit of kissing should be a non-event for him.

And it’s not just that it was kissing. It was kissing Alec. That probably lowers it from a ‘non-event’ to a chore, since Alec still has no idea what he’s doing and he just lies there and tries to figure out what he can possibly do, how he could possibly please Magnus, how he could possibly make Magnus feel good because he deserves that, Magnus deserves to feel so good, so good-

And there’s no way Alec should be able to do that for him. Alec shouldn’t be enough. He can’t. He knows he’s not enough.

But somehow…

Alec can still feel Magnus’s touch, less like a memory and more like a ghost. He can feel the breath that he’d sighed onto Alec’s jaw and neck. He can feel how his hands had tightened on Alec’s wrists, squeezing for one last moment before going slack. The way his whole body had gone limp, lying like a deadweight on Alec’s chest. And he’d laughed quietly, his mouth brushing Alec’s cheek. He’d sounded so tired and… satisfied. Happy.

Something spasms in Alec’s stomach, and before he can think any better and stop himself, he worms one hand between his hips and the mattress. And while his brain is yelling at him to show some goddamn self-control, his hand presses against his crotch, because somehow his dick has gotten so hard that it’s getting seriously uncomfortable.

Which is just… fuck.

Which is the bad-luck cherry on top of his bad-luck sundae of a night.

Honestly, it’s not like the universe wasn’t being enough of an asshat already. It’s not like he needed another goddamn nuisance to really feel like the whole world is shitting on him.

Why now? Of all the inconvenient times to get a boner, why this one? When he just wants to get some sleep. When he’s already annoyed at everything else in his life. And, of course, when he’s got a goddamn stamina rune leftover from his thirteen-hour patrol. It should have worn off by now, but he can still feel that little… buzz in his veins. Like an itch, but buried all the way in his blood, so he can’t scratch it. It’s why he hasn’t been able to fall asleep. He’s still buzzing with unnaturally fabricated energy even though his body is so fucking exhausted he just wants to die.

And now, he has a boner. While he has a stamina rune. Which means it’s not gonna fucking go away on its own (which is Alec’s usual way of dealing with boners - or not dealing with them). It’s gonna stay right where it is. Until Alec is forced to… do something about it.

Stupid goddamn fucking stupid idiot stamina runes. Totally fucking worthless.

Because now Alec is shoving the palm of his hand against his dick, and the weird twist it gives his gut is just the final proof that he has no choice. If he wants to make this go away, he has to take care of it himself.

Fuck.

Alec hates doing this.

He always has. By the Angel, he’d never been much of a fan of getting erections in the first place, but once he’d started realizing what happens when you mix accidental hard-ons with accidental stamina runes, it had become his least favorite thing in the entire goddamn universe. And he’s tried to avoid it. Multiple times. Once, when he was seventeen, he’d stubbornly refused to do anything, and waited for the rune to wear off and his dick to get back in line. He’d made it until sunrise before he finally gave in and took care of it just so he could get an hour of sleep before morning training.

Alec grits his teeth and presses a little harder against his dick. He hates this. He hates doing this and he hates needing to do this and he hates his body for doing this to him and he hates everything that’s ever existed. He just wants some sleep for fuck’s sake.

He doesn’t understand why anyone likes this. Hell, he’s not entirely convinced than anyone really does. It’s not like he’s ever heard someone say ‘you know, I actually find masturbation to be an enjoyable and worthwhile use of my time’. He’s only ever heard it talked about as a joke. It’s a joke. No, not even that - it’s a punchline. For when someone isn’t having sex. That’s the joke. Someone who doesn’t have sex is a joke, and masturbation is the punchline.

But even though it’s been made so abundantly clear to Alec that masturbating is something to mock people for, that it’s dirty and embarrassing and shameful… for some reason, he also knows that it’s still expected of him.

He’s not supposed to masturbate because it’s pathetic. But he’s expected to masturbate because he has a dick.

It’s a fucking trap, is what it is. Because he hates doing this. He really fucking hates it. But he has a dick so everyone is just going to assume he's doing it anyway. A perfect way to add insult to injury. Everyone’s probably mocking him because they assume he’s doing this thing that he doesn’t want to do anyway.

Nights like this, he wonders how bad it would really be to chop his dick off with a seraph blade and be done with it.

The sooner he starts, the sooner he’ll be done. That’s something. That’s all he’s got right now. So he lifts up his hips just far enough to shove his hand into his boxers. It’s a weird position, lying on his stomach, head pillowed on one arm, wrist bent at a highly unnatural angle where it’s smushed between his dick and the mattress. It’s hardly ideal. Then again, nothing about this situation is ideal, so. He might as well lean into it.

He manages to maneuver his hand so it’s wrapped around his dick.

He hates this.

He tightens his grip, squeezing a bit, trying to figure out what will get this over with as quickly as possible.

He hates doing this.

He’s always hated it. Because it’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair how difficult it is to keep himself under control like this. No matter how hard he tries to stop himself, as soon as he touches himself, it’s like his brain goes on autopilot, and he can fight it as hard as he wants, but it always takes over and goes somewhere else. When he feels the heat in his dick start to seep up into his gut and twist his stomach into knots, he always tries to stay focused, to just think about what’s happening and nothing else, but it’s like he doesn’t have a choice.

It always starts simple. Something easy and nice, like imagining what it might feel like to have someone close to him. To feel body heat, on the bed, next to him. Maybe what fingers would feel like if they touched his cheek, or brushed the hair back from his forehead. And then it’s something else nice, like what a pair of lips would feel like against his. Nothing bad. They aren’t anyone’s lips, they’re just the idea. And then, while the lips were still against his, maybe the fingers stroking his cheek would turn into a hand, cupping his jaw and touching behind his ear and trailing up into his hair-

But then the image would become too clear, and it would be a man’s hand, and Alec would feel the wrongness like a kick in the chest. And he’d try to stop, to think about something else, something else formless and innocent, like hot breath against his throat, or maybe at his ear, and maybe it would turn into a pleasured little laugh-

But then it would be Jace’s laugh.

Alec is hit with so much disgust for himself that his throat closes up. He tries to choke out a noise against his arm… but he can’t breathe. He feels sick. He feels so sickened by himself and even though he knows he’s not really thinking about this now - because he’s done with that, he’s done with that, he’s done with that - the memories are bad enough that he has to pull his hand out of his boxers. He curls up on his side, curls into himself, like if he tries hard enough, he might be able to smother himself, curl up into a ball small enough to disappear completely.

He hates doing this.

He’s always hated it.

Because it’s too easy. It’s too easy to forget himself and forget who he is and forget who he has to be and let himself… imagine.

And every time he’s done this, at some point, he’s imagined Jace. His smile, his eyes, his laugh - not his laugh when he’s teasing Alec, but the real one, the one he does when he’s excited about something. And sometimes, Alec would imagine his hands. Or his lips-

It’s disgusting. It’s fucking disgusting and so unbelievably wrong to let himself think like that. To think about Jace like that. To… to use Jace like that. His parabatai. His brother. It’s bad enough for Alec to have thoughts like this in the first place, but to direct them at Jace is just…

So he’d always tried. Alec’s always tried to not think about Jace. He’s always tried to keep everything as vague as possible. The times when he absolutely has to touch himself like this, he always tries his best to not imagine anyone at all.

But even that never worked. Because no matter how vague he kept his imagination, it always happened. The hands touching him would get bigger. Calloused. The body against his would sharpen into focus and there would be broad shoulders, a flat, strong chest, legs as long as his own, a hard cock to press against his-

And he can’t have that, and he knows he can’t have that, he knows it’s not allowed - but when he does this he can’t help himself. After over a decade of practice, he’s gotten so used to keeping these thoughts away. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he doesn’t have to think about any of it. But the second this starts, the second he has to do this to himself, it becomes impossible to keep it out of his head. Whether it’s Jace or just a blurry, faceless phantom… it’s always a man.

He can’t have that. He knows. And it’s so much harder to deal with it when he indulges himself like this. It’s so much harder to wake up and deny himself everything when he’d let himself… pretend. He can’t. He can’t have that. He can’t know what it’s like to be with someone like that. To feel another body there with him, to feel breath on his neck and heat building inside him and a cock grinding against his own, he can’t have it, he’s not allowed-

Except…

Alec’s mouth opens. It’s like we wants to gasp, but he can’t make his lungs take in any air.

Because that’s…

That’s not true. Anymore.

He is allowed. He’s allowed to have all of that, and not only can he have it… he does.

His breath comes back to him in a rush.

This isn’t the first time he’s been run over by this particular train of thought. Because, shockingly, it turns out that three weeks isn’t quite long enough to magically undo a lifetime spent hiding this part of himself. The bandaid’s been ripped off, and all of that is done, it’s all out there now, and he’s ‘out’ now (though he still hasn’t adjusted to using that term for himself), but it’s only been three weeks.

Three weeks, after more than a decade. He doesn’t even know exactly how long it’s been since he figured this out about himself, but he was a kid. He was young enough that this is all he remembers. This is the only way he knows how to… be.

And after years spent policing his every thought and action and squashing every flicker of interest or hope… he’s supposed to just, what, be fine now? He’s supposed to suddenly accept this thing that he’s been fighting his entire life, like it’s no big deal, just because it’s not a secret anymore?

Yes. He knows the answer to that is obviously ‘yes’. But it’s not like knowing that means all of his paranoia and fear and self-hatred is just gonna… dissolve. He knows better, he really does. But this has been programmed into him for too long, and now it’s just a reflex. Hating himself for who he is - it’s second nature. It’s the reason why he still doesn’t feel completely comfortable with any of this once he has too much time to really think about it. It’s the reason…

It’s the reason why he still gets nervous when someone mentions Magnus’s name at the Institute. Why he feels like he needs to keep himself impassive, keep himself in check, so they won’t be able to look at him and know. Even though they do. Everyone knows now.

It’s the reason why he’s afraid to come home after a date. Because he won’t be able to hide where he was, or what he was doing. He doesn’t have to hide anymore, but he still desperately looks for an excuse, something important he could say he'd been doing. Like he needs something more important than going on a date and being happy for once.

It’s the… It’s the reason why, when he’d helped Magnus wrestle his complicated silk shirt off over his head on their third date, and he’d seen Magnus’s bare chest for the first time… Alec had felt a cold stab of guilt. For wanting to see a man half-dressed.

Guilt. Because he saw his own boyfriend shirtless, and wanted him.

It doesn’t bother him like this when he’s actually with Magnus. It hits later. When he’s home, and he’s alone, and he has time to think about what’s happened. It’s easy to forget about all of this when Magnus is right there, kissing him, whispering filthy things into his ear, pinning him to the bed, thrusting against him, making him come-

Alec shivers, and he feels it primarily in his dick - which is still desperately hard and not going to get any softer anytime soon.

He can hear Magnus’s voice, on an endless loop in his mind.

“Do you want to?”

Over and over again. Asked with so much sincerity, and gentleness, and… maybe… desire. Magnus had wanted it. Magnus had wanted them to keep going, wanted them to get off with each other-

And it had been easy.

It had been so unbearably easy. Easy to get that far, easy for Alec to stop him when he was uncomfortable, easy for Magnus to ask the question, easy for Alec to answer it, easy for him to feel so fucking good…

It’s all so easy with Magnus. Everything is easy.

And nothing has ever been easy for Alec. It’s like every fucking detail of his life is a struggle, and always has been. His job, his family, his feelings, everything about who he is has been so difficult, and now Magnus is here and it’s easy and godfuckingdammit Alec doesn’t think he should have to deny himself that. Something is finally easy for him, something is good, something is nice, and even if it’s selfish of him… he wants that. He wants to feel good. He wants it to be easy to feel good.

“Do you want to?”

Alec slips his hand back into his boxers.

As he wraps his fingers around his dick, and feels that first spark of friction, the images come back. Vague, disembodied touches. Lips, fingers, a warm hand, breath on his neck, a laugh…

Magnus’s laugh. The sleepy, blissful little laugh he’d let out right after his orgasm. Happy, and pleasured, and easy.

Alec sighs brokenly against his arm. He imagines the heat against his skin is from Magnus’s mouth and not his own, imagines what that might be like-

But he doesn’t have to. He knows. He knows exactly what that feels like. He knows what it feels like to have his boyfriend lie in bed with him and kiss him and touch him and make him come. He knows how that feels.

And he can have it.

He’s allowed to have it.

Alec has to bite down on his forearm to keep himself from making an undignified noise. And that’s… new. Normally, when he has to do this, noise isn’t an issue. He’s always silent, without even trying. Maybe a tiny little grunt here or there, but nothing that could be overheard. The rooms in this hallway are fairly large, with thick walls. He’s never had to worry about someone hearing him.

But now he’s remembering how loud he’s been with Magnus, how he doesn’t even know what all had made its way out of his mouth last night. And right now, he’s barely started touching himself and it’s already enough to make him whimper into the sheets. This could be a problem.

There are precautions he could take, runes he could use… but somehow, the idea of having to stop touching himself sounds like outright torture.

Because this is… different.

This isn’t a chore, an unfair ‘fuck you’ from his body, a test of his restraint and his self-hatred. This is…

His hand starts moving a little faster. And as it does, he remembers the first time he’d gotten hard while he was kissing Magnus. Their first date. Squished together on the couch, Alec on top, his veins burning with the actual sparks of magic that kept seeping into his skin where Magnus’s fingers touched him.

His dick twitches in his hand, and it feels incredible.

And he’s allowed to feel it.

His throat is working too hard. His lungs are burning. He’s not getting enough air like this. He flips over onto his back, and his legs instantly fall open, like he’s begging for Magnus to suddenly portal into the room and lie between them. He wonders…

He wonders what it would be like if Magnus were really here. Already shirtless, already with that fine sheen of sweat on his back as Alec trails his fingers down his spine-

Alec stops himself. His hand, his brain, all of it shuts down. Like an uncontrollable reflex.

But…

Fuck that.

Magnus isn’t some forbidden fruit, some dirty fantasy, some distant temptation without thoughts or agency of his own. Magnus is a person, real, and tangible, who has his own desires and makes his own decisions.

And somehow… he’s decided that he wants Alec.

Alec is Magnus’s boyfriend. They’ve done this. They’ve been together like this. Well, not exactly like this, but with the same eventual outcome. And Alec doesn’t think… He doesn’t think Magnus would mind that Alec is doing this. Thinking about him, while he does… this. It’s not like he’s using Magnus inappropriately. He’s just remembering things that have already actually happened. And yeah, Alec will probably feel strange enough about doing this that he’ll end up confessing the whole thing to Magnus within a day or two. But when that happens… he doesn’t think Magnus will be upset. About Alec, jerking off to… him.

He doesn’t think Magnus will mind that Alec is remembering the feel of Magnus’s chest, his stomach, the way his hips fit so perfectly into Alec’s palms.

His grip is too dry. Without thinking, he pulls his hand out of his boxers and licks a wide, wet stripe all the way up to his fingertips before shoving it back down. The way his hand slides along his cock with an obscene squelch makes his legs tense against the mattress. It’s so good. Because it’s not just him. It’s him and Magnus, the memory of how good it had felt to be with him, and how good it feels right now, and he’s allowed to have it, he’s allowed to feel this good.

His other hand flies up above his head and grips the pillow so hard he’s afraid he might tear the case right open. But it’s not enough. He doesn’t even know what he wants it to be, but he knows it’s not enough. He presses his arm against the mattress as hard as he can, twisting his wrist like he’s… testing something. Like he’s-

By the Angel. Like he’s being held down. Like Magnus is pinning his wrists above his head and holding him there so tightly that he can’t escape. Like he can’t break free. Like he can’t move. Like he can’t do anything. Helpless. Useless.

Harmless.

Alec bites the inside of his cheek to suppress a cry, but it still squeaks in his throat. Because that’s what it is. That’s what all of this is, why he loves it so much, why he’s loved it since the first time Magnus had gently pushed him back against the couch cushions and pressed him down. He’s never felt pleasure like this before he met Magnus. He’s never really felt pleasure run through him, never really known how he reacts to it.

But he knows now. He knows that it makes him feel completely powerless. All of his limbs basically numb, limp under Magnus’s touch. His head spinning so much that he can’t think about anything. His muscles lax, unused… safe. He feels so safe with Magnus. Like he’s weak, and he’s allowed to be weak, and it’s good that he’s weak. He doesn’t have to be strong. Doesn’t have to be dangerous. Couldn’t hurt anyone even if he tried. He feels completely harmless when he’s with Magnus like this, and it’s…

It’s incredible. He didn’t know he could feel like that. Weak, and harmless, and powerless, like his body is just a limp thing that he uses to feel pleasure. He’s not a weapon like this. He’s just pleasure. It’s all he can feel.

He can have this. He can have this with Magnus, again and again. This - and more, even.

And he wants that. Until three weeks ago, he didn’t know he wanted any of this. But now, he wants more. He wants it to be Magnus’s cock in his hand, to be touching him instead of himself. If Magnus had sounded so beautiful - like he felt so good - when he was just rutting up against Alec, how much better would it be if-

Alec swallows another sound that might have been a sob. Because this feels amazing. His hand is dry again, and he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing, and it still feels amazing.

And if he can do this to himself… he can do it to Magnus. Fuck, he wants to do this for Magnus. But better, so much better than this. He wants to take all night, spend hours building up to it, use good lube so his hand never gets too dry, and do everything he can to make it better, ask Magnus how it feels, how he can change it, how to make him feel as good as possible. He wants to know what Magnus would sound like if he came in Alec’s hand instead of in his pants. He wants to see what Magnus’s face looks like when he has an orgasm. He wants to strip off Magnus’s shirt again and not stop there this time. He wants it all off. He wants to see Magnus naked, feel all of his skin and how hot it gets when it’s sparking with magic and covered in sweat. He wants to know what Magnus’s cock looks like, how it feels in his hand, how different it would feel than his own. He wants all of it, he wants all the things he’s never let himself want before because he knows he can have them, he’s allowed to have them, because Magnus wants them too. Magnus wants him. Magnus Bane, so beautiful, so elegant, so wonderful, so nice… He wants Alec.

“Do you want to?”

Alec comes so suddenly that it’s almost startling. He grits his teeth and presses his head back into the pillow as hard as he can, fighting the surge inside him that wants him to shout into the empty room. He can hear himself whine through his tense throat, but he manages to keep it quiet.

It’s so different. It’s not like any other orgasm he’s had. It’s so much better than any other time he’s done this to himself, but still nowhere near as good as when it had happened with Magnus. Because this is so concentrated - it’s such an intense amount of feeling all contained right to his cock. It’s bright, and sharp, and almost painfully strong. It’s so strong that he has to fist his other hand into his hair and tug hard, just to try and relieve some of the sensation in his cock.

But that’s all it is. The rest of him is cold, and exposed, and ignored. With Magnus, it had been everything. Every part of his body was feeling something, kisses or contact or heat. This feels so good, it feels incredible, but it just makes him miss Magnus. Makes him want Magnus there even more than before…

He doesn’t realize that his hand is still moving on his dick until it the friction starts to feel horrible. It’s like being tickled and electrocuted at the same time. He feels frazzled. He’s even more exhausted than he was before, but he’s also… wide awake. He’s gasping, struggling for breath, and he can literally feel his heartbeat pounding all the way down in his toes.

Fuck.

Just… fuck.

He wants to hold on to this feeling, the heat in his gut, his pounding heart, the uneven flip-flop running from his stomach to his chest-

But it fades so quickly. Last night, it had all been drawn out, because Magnus was still…

Alec whimpers.

Last night, after he’d come, Magnus was still working toward his own orgasm. And that was enough to make Alec’s feel like it was still going, minute after minute, once the shock of the situation had worn off. The sweat on his skin wasn’t able to cool, because Magnus was too hot. The heat in his gut didn’t get to dissipate, because he could feel little bursts of magic, everywhere Magnus was touching him, getting stronger and hotter as Magnus got closer-

Another shiver runs through Alec’s whole body, strong enough to make his teeth chatter. His hand is still in his boxers, cold, and trembling a little, and unpleasantly sticky-

Oh, right. He’s not with Magnus this time.

Which means there isn’t someone here who can say “Allow me,” and magic away all of the mess with just a silly little wiggle of his fingers (which Alec still thinks he just did to make him laugh; there’s no way it was actually necessary to make his magic work).

Alec’s alone, and now that it’s over, he’s painfully aware that he’s alone. His whole body is cold, the sweat on his skin feeling more like tiny icicles than perspiration. It’s like he’s actually itching with the need to have Magnus in bed with him. He wants his warmth, he wants to be able to wrap around him, fold Magnus up in all of his limbs and just… hold him for a while. Possibly all night.

But instead, he has to deal with this cold, sticky, disgusting mess in his boxers.

Normally, when he has to do this, he’ll get a tissue or a wad of toilet paper or something beforehand so he can come right into that and be cleaned up before he could even make a mess. But this time, he’d been too… yeah. He’d been too caught up in pleasure to be able to think that clearly. So now there’s something gross all over his fingers and soaking into the fabric of his boxers and probably at least a drop or two on his t-shirt as well because that’s just his luck, isn’t it?

It takes a few more moments of deep, steady breaths before he feels like he can crack his eyes open. It’s weird. It’s almost like he was… somewhere else, and now he’s coming back here again. Like after what just happened, he shouldn’t just be in his room. His own, boring, usual room. It doesn’t match up.

Once his eyes focus in the darkness, he glances down. He doesn’t really know why, because it’s not like he can really see anything. It’s spread out, and mostly soaked in by now. It’s not like there’s a neon sign pointing right at the semen on his clothes. And it’s not like anyone’s actually going to see him before he gets up in the morning, and showers, and puts on clean clothes. He could technically sleep in these dirty clothes and be perfectly fine.

But he won’t, of course, because that’s fucking disgusting.

He pulls his hand out of his boxers, carefully avoiding his dick (which is finally, mercifully soft again, stamina rune be damned) since it’s still so sensitive that even the brush of his boxers against it feels weird. From the feel of it, it seems like most of the mess ended up inside his boxers. They’re loose enough that he didn’t ever really need to take his dick out of them. There’s a massive wet spot, like he expected, and a tiny splotch at the bottom of his shirt.

So, yeah. He’s gonna have to get up and change. And stick these clothes in the bottom of his hamper, so no one could possibly see them before he does laundry. And he’ll have to wash his hand too. Then he can finally get some sleep. He just has to wash his hand…

His hand…

It’s resting against his hip, outside his clothes. And Alec realizes that he’s… His fingers are moving a bit. Running back and forth against each other. A slow, uneven movement, since they’re so sticky. It’s like he’s… trying to feel the mess on his skin.

But that doesn’t make any sense. There’s no reason why he would want to…

Because it’s gross. It’s a mess. It’s not supposed to be on his skin like this. It’s semen.

So he’s gonna go clean it off. Obviously. He’s gonna stop… touching it like this. Obviously.

It’s just…

It’s kinda weird. It’s such a tangible thing. It’s this actual, physical… proof. Like a reminder, of what just happened. Of how good he felt. Coming had felt so incredible, and the actual come is part of that, so maybe it should be-

But that’s fucked up. It’s gross. It’s a goddamn bodily fluid. And he’s still touching it on his skin like it’s somehow a good thing, which is disgusting. His hand is sticky and gross and this is so messed up it’s so fucking messed up that it doesn’t feel gross at all and his stomach is churning with those molten butterflies again and it’s actually kinda…

Nice. To feel come on his skin.

What-

What the fuck?

Alec wipes his hand on his shirt, as thoroughly as possible. Because that’s too fucked up. That’s where he draws the fucking line. It’s one thing to jerk off to the memory of coming in his pants like some pathetic teenager, it’s one thing to think about Magnus so inappropriately like he’s completely disrespecting him. That’s all bad enough.

It’s something else entirely to lie here and feel some sort of fucked up desire for feeling his own semen on his hand.

That’s a line he’s not gonna let himself cross.

Way too fucked up.

This was… This was all too much. It was just a weird night. It was the stressful evening and the goddamn stamina rune leaving him no choice, but now it’s all over and he’s gonna clean himself up and go to sleep and forget all about it.

Forget about… how good he’d felt. How good he’d been able to make himself feel.

How he’s allowed to feel so good.

But, yeah. It’s nothing. Nothing he needs to worry about. He just needs to get cleaned up. Not worry about anything that just happened. Not think about it. Just get some sleep. He’ll be fine in the morning.

Yeah. It was just a weird night.

Just a weird… nice night.

He rubs his fingers together. And the butterflies swarm in his stomach again. Warm. And nice.

Alec smiles.

 

 

Chapter Text

Alec can’t move.

No, that can’t be right. He’s just waking up, so he probably hasn’t… gotten there yet. His brain is awake, but his limbs haven’t caught up. In a few seconds, once his body gets on board with being awake, he’ll be fine.

He takes a few deep breaths, feeling the grogginess start to lift from his head. Okay, should be all good now.

Nope.

No, he actually, literally, definitely cannot move.

This can’t be good.

After a few moments of surprisingly intense struggle, he manages to crack his eyes open. And even though the room is dark, it’s enough to make his head scream in protest. And-

Where is he? He’s not in his room. This isn’t his bed…

Oh. The silk canopy hanging over the massive four-poster bed. The dark, luxurious space. He’s in Magnus’s room. Magnus’s bed. Why is he here? How did he get here? He doesn’t remember coming over. When did he go to sleep last night?

He gets one sharp, vivid memory. On Magnus’s couch, in the middle of the night, trying to wrestle off his boots. Magnus kneeling down to help him. Magnus talking, saying the same things over and over, too quickly. Magnus wiping a smear of blood off of Alec’s cheek. Alec not being sure if it was his blood, or someone else’s. He hadn’t cleaned up after the mission-

Oh, right. The mission.

Well, that explains why he can’t move.

It’s dark in here. The door to the rest of the loft is open, and it’s dark, so it must still be nighttime. Alec glances around… but he’s alone. No one else is in the bed with him. Not Magnus, not even Chairman Meow (who’s slept at their feet every time Alec has spent the night here).

Something’s not adding up.

He needs to get out of bed. He sits up-

And it’s a mistake. It’s a big, big mistake. He barely even makes it into a sitting position before the pain is too much. It’s not worth it, so he gives up. He leans back against the headboard, and his body is already so sore that it really doesn’t matter that there aren’t any pillows to cushion his back.

By this point in his life, Alec’s developed a pretty high threshold for pain. Which is what makes it so embarrassing when he actually groans as he tries to reach the lamp on the nightstand. He doesn’t even make it. It’s not worth that much pain. He can just sit in the dark and be fine with it.

Fuck.

He’s fucked.

His pained whimper must have been louder than he thought, because he hears footsteps approach from somewhere out in the living room. And soon enough, Magnus appears in the doorway. And something’s-

Something’s wrong. Alec’s eyes aren’t working right.

Because the room is dark. There’s no light in the bedroom whatsoever. But Magnus is bright, like he’s bathed in sunshine. Fuck. Alec knows his sappy mind has made Magnus look like he has some sort of angelic glow before, but this is really next level.

“Good afternoon, Sleeping Beauty.” Magnus’s voice is… weird. Kinda flat. He crosses his arms and leans his shoulder against the doorframe. Then he snaps, without untucking his fingers from the crook of his elbow.

And the bedroom floods with sunlight.

“Ah, fuck-” Alec grits out as his eyes squeeze shut. The sudden light makes his headache take a sharp downward turn from ‘irritating’ to ‘probably gonna kill him’.

But when he manages to blink enough to let his eyes adjust, he realizes that the illusion of Magnus standing in the sunlight was just… Magnus standing in the sunlight. Because Alec can see past him into the loft, and there’s definitely a bright, sunny view coming in through the living room windows. Which means-

Which means Magnus was keeping the light out of the bedroom. So Alec could sleep.

Fuck.

“Time s’it?” Alec garbles, and it feels like he’s swallowed a large quantity of sandpaper.

“A little after four.”

Alec feels a sickening jolt run through his body - which just makes everything ache even more. Because he needs to get up. He needs to get going. Four? In the afternoon? He’s never slept this late in his life. He usually doesn’t sleep much later than his alarm, even on days when he can sleep in. He needs to get back the Institute. He has things he needed to do today, things he’s already missed. He… can’t quite remember what those things are… but he knows there’s a lot of them. He needs to get out of bed-

“Your parents know you’re here,” Magnus says calmly, like he knows what Alec is thinking (because he always seems to know what Alec is thinking - how does he do that?). “You’ve been given leave to stay here until tomorrow morning.” His voice sounds a little disdainful… but then, he’s talking about Maryse and Robert, so that’s… pretty understandable.

But then he moves in the doorway. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other, and his hands clench a little on his arms.

Shit.

Alec doesn’t know what’s happening, but he knows it’s not good. He’s seen this posture from Magnus before, but it’s never been directed at him. He struggles to remember more details about last night, hoping to figure out just how bad things are about to be for him.

Magnus takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly through his nose. It’s frighteningly similar to a bull about to go on a rampage. “They said that, given the events of the mission last night, it’s probably ‘for the best’ that you stay here. To best aid your recovery.”

Shit. Fuck. It’s bad. Alec fucked up bad. Alec’s fucking fucked. He’s starting to remember how he got to the loft last night. How he’d left the Institute. The things he’d said that seemed so well-intentioned at the time, but he’s suddenly realizing were actually-

“You seem confused,” Magnus says in that same voice. That same, dangerous tone of voice that’s so controlled, so deliberately calm. So terrifyingly calm. “Which certainly makes sense. I was confused as well. After all, why on earth would you need an entire day to recover when you’d assured me, over and over, that you were perfectly fine?”

Alec’s stomach ties into such a sudden, tight knot that it feels like his insides are being sucked into a black hole. Fuck. Fuck. “Mags-”

“Admittedly, I wasn’t actually keeping count, but I’m fairly certain I asked at least a dozen times if you were hurt at all.” His voice is getting lighter and lighter, like it would almost sound playful if it weren’t for his severe expression. “And what did you tell me, every single time?”

“Magnus-”

“What did you say, Alec?”

Shit. ‘Alec.’ In that tone.

This hasn’t happened before. Magnus gets frustrated, yeah. Why shouldn’t he? Alec’s an idiot; it must get difficult, having to deal with his stupidity for over three months now. But this is… new. A distinctly bad type of new.

And Alec fucking deserves whatever happens, because he’s a fucking moron, and Magnus deserves to be fucking furious.

Alec takes a deep breath, and tries to ignore how much it makes his chest ache. “I said… I just had a few bruises.”

“‘A few bruises’,” Magnus repeats, and the glamour in his eyes starts to flicker. His eyes look like they might actually start on fire any second now. “You brushed off any attempt I made to look at you, all of my offers to heal you, and - according to Maryse and Isabelle - you’d similarly refused any medical attention at the Institute beforehand.”

Alec has to avert his eyes, though it makes him feel stupidly childish. “Jace was in worse shape than me. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.” As he says it out loud, he realizes how fucking stupid it is. But it’s the truth. And that’s all he’s got right now.

Magnus purses his lips and nods, and Alec’s not sure how he manages to make it look so sarcastic. “Of course. Because, as you said last night, you just had ‘a few bruises’. Hardly worth a bandaid.” He shifts his weight to his other foot again, like it’s a struggle to keep himself still. But his voice is still deadly calm. “Now, here’s the part where I get confused. Because, obviously, you were completely fine. You made it all the way here, after all. And you changed out of your gear, and you put yourself to bed. To sleep off your bruises.” He nods again. But then, he smiles. And it’s so insincere it looks almost sinister. “So imagine my surprise when I went to check on you later and found that your ‘few bruises’ were bleeding all over my bed.”

There’s so much stress building up inside Alec that he can already feel the beginnings of heartburn roil in his chest. “It wasn’t-”

“Of course, bruises don’t bleed,” Magnus goes on, in that same tense voice, “so even though you were too unconscious to consent, I took the liberty of examining you. It’s not best form, I admit, but all that blood looked just awful on ivory sheets. I couldn’t allow such a sloppy color scheme in my bedroom.” His arms shift against his chest, like he’s squeezing them even tighter. “And what do you think I found, Alexander?”

Alec opens his mouth.

And closes it again.

But Magnus just waits. Eyebrows raised. Clearly expecting an answer.

“I…” Alec sighs. “I don’t know.” It’s embarrassing. It’s pitiful. But it’s true. “I didn’t, um. I didn’t… check.” Fuck, it sounds so stupid. But when he’d made it back to the Institute, he’d drawn a half-assed iratze, patched up anything he could see that was bleeding, and… that was it. He doesn’t know what else there might have been. Judging by the fact that he feels like he’s been run over by a bus, he’s pretty sure he missed something. Possibly many somethings.

Magnus takes a deep breath, and lets it out in a sharp, bitter laugh. “Four open wounds. A dislocated shoulder. And three. Fractured. Ribs.”

Shit.

Alec sucks in a breath, and now he understands why it hurts.

“Shit.”

“From what I can tell, you ‘bandaged’ the cuts - but I use that term loosely - and attempted to set your shoulder by yourself. Which would explain why it was set incorrectly. And I suppose there wasn’t much you could do about the ribs, so you just accepted that you’d have to deal with every breath being painful.” Magnus tilts his head to the side, and raises one eyebrow. “Does that sound about right? Do I have all the details in order?”

Alec chews on the inside of his lower lip. “I used an iratze. I thought it’d… take care of everything. By morning.” 

Magnus looks even more unimpressed than Alec was expecting.

Alec can see Magnus take another deep breath, and he wonders what the odds are of the mattress swallowing him whole so he can just die right now. It’s starting to look like the easiest alternative.

Magnus closes his eyes as he exhales. “You told me it was a small attack. That you outnumbered the demons three to one.”

Alec does his best to not visibly wince with embarrassment. “Ah… Other way around.”

A strange, strangled sound gets caught in Magnus’s throat. He opens his eyes, and whatever’s left of the glamour crackles away. “I do not appreciate having someone lie right to my face, Alexander. Particularly not someone I-” He looks away, and his jaw tenses for a moment, like he’s swallowing whatever he was going to say. “Someone I care for.”

And…

Fuck.

Fuck.

Alec feels sick. He’s never fucked up anything this badly before, and it’s actually sickening. “Mags-” he tries to start, but his voice feels frail. He swallows, and does his best to ignore the outrageous amount of pain it causes. “I’m sorry.”

Magnus looks at him, expression completely blank. “Sorry about what you did, or sorry that I’m angry about it?”

Alec’s mouth moves, like he’s going to speak. But he doesn’t have anything to say. He wants to fix this, but knows there’s nothing he can say to do that. So he figures the only thing he can do is be honest. “I didn’t want anyone to worry about me.”

“Have you ever considered the possibility that there are people who are going to worry about you regardless of whether you give them permission to do so?”

Alec can’t handle the intensity of Magnus’s gaze anymore, so he looks down at himself instead. But that just lets him see the mess of dark, ugly bruises on his chest. “I… I don’t-” He feels his face start to scrunch up. But… shit. There’s no point. “I don’t know what I was thinking.” He takes a risk, and looks at Magnus again. “It was stupid.”

Magnus’s whole body tenses visibly. “You’re damn right it was stupid!” And- fuck. That might be the closest thing Alec’s ever heard to him actually shouting. But Magnus seems to catch himself right away, because Alec can see him work his expression back into something neutral. “You didn’t even know how badly you were hurt, and what did you do? Went to sleep. Completely ignorant.” His voice is quiet again, but somehow it only makes him sound more furious. “Who knows how much blood you could have lost from those unbandaged cuts. And thank god you didn’t have a concussion, or you might have just… never woken up. And none of us would have known why.”

Alec didn’t think he could feel any worse about all of this… but there it is. Alec feels so cold that it’s almost numbing. Almost. 

But… there’s still nothing he can say. Absolutely nothing. He wants to look away, but he thinks that without the pressure of maintaining eye contact with Magnus, he might actually start tearing up. It’s ridiculous. This is all ridiculous. And all his fault. And there’s nothing he can do about it.

After the longest, most painful moments of silence that Alec has ever experienced, Magnus sighs. And he turns, putting his back against the doorframe. His arms are still crossed, and he raises one hand to fiddle with one of the thin chains around his neck. And he doesn’t look at Alec.

It’s a few more seconds before Magnus tips his head back. “What happened, Alec? Last night?” He tilts his head just far enough to catch Alec’s gaze, and his eyes look unbearably tired.

But Magnus knows what happened. Alec knows he knows. Because he said he talked to Isabelle today. And there’s no way Isabelle didn’t tell him. So he must… For whatever reason, he must want to hear Alec say it. Maybe just to make sure that he won’t lie this time.

Now, Alec wants nothing more than to look away. Look at his own hands, look at the ceiling, look anywhere but right into Magnus’s eyes. But he forces himself to stay steady. He’s already fucked up this bad. He doesn’t think he could handle making things any worse. “I…” He takes a shaky breath. “I got thrown into a cement wall. That w- that was the worst of it, anyway. The cuts are claw marks. I got distracted. I was looking the wrong way at the wrong time. And… yeah.”

By the Angel, actually have to say it out loud makes it feel even dumber than it already was. It was such a fucking stupid mistake. And then he’d responded to the situation by continuing to make stupider and stupider mistakes the rest of the night until he’d outdone himself and fucked up his entire relationship.

Great. Excellent. Fucking amazing.

Magnus looks calmer, but not in a good way. In an exhausted way. Like he’s so upset he’s just… given up. “And instead of going to the infirmary at the Institute - where they could have easily treated your injuries - you came here.” His expression changes somehow, like it’s getting- shit. Like it’s getting sadder. Disappointed. “So you could… what? Trick me into healing you instead? Force me to-” He closes his mouth firmly, presses his lips together too tightly.

For a moment, Alec’s so stunned he literally can’t make himself speak.

But it only lasts a moment.

“No, Mags… fuck no.” Alec’s voice is weaker than he wants it to be. He wants to make it obvious that he’s horrified by the idea. “That’s not- It wasn’t that. At all.”

Magnus looks up at the ceiling, winding his necklace around his finger. “It’s not as though I’d ever see you hurt and just leave it unattended. So when you intentionally refuse help from another source and come here with all these injuries… knowing that I’ll have no choice but to take care of them for you-”

“Magnus, please.” Alec hates interrupting him, hates cutting him off for any reason. But he can’t handle hearing this. Seeing how upset Magnus looks. Hearing his voice get smaller and smaller. Alec’s not strong enough to…

He gathers himself as best he can. “I promise, I swear, I didn’t think I’d need any healing.”

Magnus rolls his eyes with a little huff of a laugh.

“Mags, I’m serious. I used an iratze, and it helped with the pain so I thought it worked. And I really thought I’d bandaged everything. I mean, I know it wasn’t perfect, and I know I should have gotten help.” He bites the inside of his cheek for a second to keep himself under control. “But I thought it was good enough. I thought I’d just be sore in the morning.”

He doesn’t know how to make himself clearer, how to make himself more sincere. So he waits until Magnus looks at him again, hoping he’ll be able to see how much Alec means this. Magnus is usually so good at reading him. Hopefully that still counts now. “I promise, I thought I was fine. I didn’t come here for help.”

Magnus just… looks at him for a minute. Alec has no idea what he’s thinking. He doesn’t show a damn thing on his face.

“Then why did you?”

Alec laughs.

Which - fuck. That’s not the right thing to do right now. But he can’t help it. It’s just a quiet, weak sound. “I already felt bad enough for having to cancel our date.”

Magnus scoffs. “Yes, because everyone knows the next-best thing to a picnic in Central Park is an emergency medical procedure.”

“Magnus.” While it’s weirdly encouraging that Magnus is edging away from honest pain and back toward his more usual bitter sarcasm, Alec doesn’t want to break the sincerity of the conversation. “I wanted to see you. It’s… you know. It’s been a while.”

“Fifteen days.”

“Sixteen,” Alec says quietly. He doesn’t really want to correct Magnus about anything right now, but he wants Magnus to know that he’s been counting the days too.

Magnus raises an eyebrow, like a challenge. “Fifteen.”

“Skype doesn’t count.” Alec kinda wants to smile, but that feels a little too close to teasing. And he’s sure as fuck not that confident yet.

Magnus just rolls his eyes again, which is his version of conceding the point. His expression is a little softer now.

And somehow, that’s enough to make Alec feel like he can breathe again. “I missed you.”

Magnus’s posture relaxes, just a bit. “Yes, but this was hardly the reunion I’d hoped for, Alexander.”

Alec closes his eyes. “I know.” He opens them again. “I’m sorry, Mags.”

There’s silence for a few more seconds. Or maybe minutes, Alec’s not sure.

When Alec’s pretty certain that he’s actually going to die of misery if they keep doing and saying nothing like this, Magnus finally moves. He walks further into the room, and-

Oh, damn.

Magnus sits down on the bed. Right next to Alec.

And Alec’s flooded with relief so intense he thinks he could actually cry.

Magnus stretches out next to him, leaning against the headboard, not quite close enough for them to actually be touching, but enough for Alec to feel the warmth of his body. And right now, that’s… That’s everything.

They’re not looking at each other. They’re just sitting there, side by side, looking straight ahead.

Another minute or two passes before Magnus breaks the silence. “Don’t lie to me, Alexander. Don’t do this again.”

His voice is quiet. Small. So sincere that it aches.

Alec has to take several breaths before he feels like he can answer. “I won’t, Mags. I promise.”

But that doesn’t… sit right with him. “Well… the lying part. I promise I won’t lie again. But I, ah. I can’t really guarantee that I won’t get my ass kicked by a demon again.” He tries to make his voice light, but it doesn’t quite get there. He turns his head to face Magnus, with a small, hesitant smile. “But I’ll do my best.”

And Magnus…

He smiles back. Just barely. It doesn’t reach his eyes. But it’s something. “Good.” He takes a deep breath, and glances down at Alec’s chest. “How are you feeling?”

“Physically, or emotionally?” Alec doesn’t know where he got the courage to make a joke like that in this situation, but it’s out of him before he can think better of it.

Magnus rolls his eyes, but not in a bad way. In a nice… fond way. It’s the only answer he gives.

Alec kinda wants to laugh, but he can’t quite make himself do it. “I mean, I don’t feel good. But I…” He chooses his words carefully. “I’m fine. Just sore.” And it’s true. He can tell. He’s gotten unfortunately familiar with different kinds of pain over the years. And he knows for a fact that what he’s feeling is just soreness. The remnants of old injuries. Nothing new, no open wounds or anything that hasn't healed properly. It’s a… stale feeling. It’s all just upset muscles and deep bruises. He’s fine. It’s nothing he hasn’t dealt with before.

Magnus doesn’t seem convinced. Which - given the circumstances - isn’t really surprising. He just keeps looking over Alec’s bruises, then up to his face, and back down again. He’s looking so carefully, the gears in his head visibly turning. Like he’s… calculating something.

Then, he sighs. And flexes his hand where it’s resting in his lap. “Well, it won’t be too much trouble to take care of that. A massage should do the trick.” The tips of his fingers change, ever so slightly, glowing with just a faint touch of blue.

“No- Mags, you-” Alec’s words get stuck in his throat, and he tries not to audibly choke on them. But his stomach is already churning with guilt, and what Magnus is suggesting is enough to make him feel physically sick. “You don’t have to do that.”

Because it’s already awful. Magnus has already done too much. He’s already done so much more than he should have to, just because Alec’s such a fucking idiot. Alec can’t possibly let him do more. Just the fact that Magnus is offering to is…

“There’s no point in letting you suffer all day,” Magnus says in that voice, the one that’s light and casual but so obviously fake. Alec’s familiar with it, but he’s not sure he’s ever heard it directed at him before. Not like this. It’s fucking horrible. “Besides, your parents only let you stay here today so you could recover. Imagine their fury if I send you back to the Institute with so much as a crick in your neck. It’s not as though we need to give them another reason to despise me.”

“Fuck them,” Alec spits out, like a reflex. He didn’t mean to. It’s almost… a surprise. To hear himself say it. But… yeah. It’s the truth. “They’re the ones who sent us on that mission in the first place. Just the three of us, without backup. After we’d already been on patrol all fucking day. Sending their own damn kids into a hoard of demons after twelve hours on patrol. What did they expect? It’s their goddamn fault.”

Magnus makes a small sound. Alec doesn’t know what it means, but he looks at him and… He looks, almost… amused. Almost. It’s just the smallest little curve in the corner of his mouth.

“You shouldn’t… I don’t want you to waste any energy on me.” Fuck. Alec rolls his eyes at his own phrasing. “Any more energy.” He sucks his lower lip between his teeth, mostly because he doesn’t have the strength to reach up and run his fingers through his hair, and he’s practically buzzing with nervous energy. “Don’t you, ah. Don’t you have a job at the Institute today?”

“Had,” Magnus corrects. “It’s almost evening, Alexander. I’ve already done three jobs today.” He laughs, harsh and sarcastic. “Well, four, if you count the unexpected charity work I did last night.”

Alec winces, but it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it. Hell, he thinks he’d be more uncomfortable if Magnus tried pretending like everything was okay and he wasn’t furious with him. “Yeah, so I’m… I’m not gonna make it be five. I’m fine.” He sits up a little straighter, like he’s trying to prove it.

Of course, that just makes every single inch of his body feel like it's being stabbed with tiny seraph blades. He grits his teeth, desperately trying to keep the pain hidden, at least.

Because he’s not going to make Magnus help him. He absolutely refuses. Luckily, it’s not like this is the first time he’s dealt with pain, so he’s not completely clueless about how to deal with it on his own. “Could I- um. W-would you mind if I… took a bath?” Some hot water, and maybe another shot at a more effective iratze, and he’ll be fine. He knows it. He’s been through this before.

Except-

“But I don’t, uh… have to. I don’t want to be in your way. I can go home, if you’re busy.” He can’t handle the thought of being any more of an inconvenience.

Magnus lifts his chin. “I’m the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Alexander. I’m always busy.” He says it seriously, but after a moment… he gives Alec a tiny, wry smile. “However, I’m fairly certain that none of my current work requires use of the bathtub.” He gets out of bed, and…

Hm. Alec misses feeling the heat of his body next to him. Things still don’t feel… right. Between them. It’s not like he’s surprised by that - and he knows he fucking deserves it, but still. It was nice. Having Magnus sit next to him. It felt like a start. Something. 

Magnus holds out his hand, eyebrows raised expectantly.

Oh.

“I’m fine, Mags. Go do what you need to do. I can handle it.” It’s just getting from the bed to the bathtub. If Alec can’t handle it, he’s seriously fucked.

“I’ll believe that when I see it.” Magnus purses his lips, which-

Yeah. That’s fair. Because swinging his legs over the side of the bed and trying to get to his feet feels horrifically close to how Alec imagines death. Bad death. Slow death. But he has a point to make, so he forces himself to power through it, and manages to contain himself to only a few pitiful whimpers of pain. There’s a terrifying moment where he thinks his legs literally won’t support him, but he steadies himself on the nightstand… and it eventually passes. He’s just sore. Yeah.

He’s just really really really fucking sore.

“See?” Alec gives his best attempt at a smile. “I’ve got this.”

Magnus looks extremely unconvinced. But his lingering anger at Alec must be enough to outweigh his usual Mother Hen tendencies, because he just rolls his eyes with a sigh. “Alright. Fine. Shout if you need me.”

And he’s gone. He turns away from Alec and disappears into the loft. It feels a little… sharper than Alec was hoping for. A little too blunt. But, fuck. In this situation, he realizes that it’s basically the best case scenario. And…

Well. It’s not like he’s going to feel any better about any of this if he just stands here. So he makes his slow, uncertain, agonizing way into the bathroom.

Strangely, being up and moving actually seems to help a bit. A little bit. A tiny, tiny little bit. And it makes Alec realize that there’s something a little unfamiliar about the particular type of soreness he’s feeling. It’s… it’s like it’s… brighter? Somehow? It’s more of a sting than an ache.

He wonders if it has something to do with Magnus’s magic. He’s never been healed like that before. Maybe it has different side effects. A different sort of recovery period.

The good news is that it fades quicker than the soreness after being healed by an iratze. Almost like there’s something still in him, still working to fix the leftover problems as his body finds them.

So by the time he’s used the toilet, grabbed a towel, and hunted down a bottle of something that looks like it might be bubble bath, he actually feels… not terrible. Definitely not as terrible, anyway.

He’s never used the tub here before.

He’s never seen Magnus use it, either.

Which is something he doesn’t even realize until he’s sitting on the edge of it, staring at the ridiculous amount of spouts and jets and knobs and buttons (and who the fuck puts a button on a bathtub?). He’s never even seen Magnus acknowledge this tub before. It’s tucked away in the corner of the bathroom, on the other side of the shower. It’s oddly… unobtrusive. Easy to ignore.

And that’s saying something, because it’s fucking massive. Like everything else in this bathroom (and, honestly, everything else in the entire loft), it’s stupidly ornate. It looks like a normal-sized bathtub ate one of those inflatable mundane pools for children that Clary and Simon keep insisting are ‘normal’ things. It’s the same dark marble as the rest of the bathroom, which means it’s probably the most expensive thing Alec’s ever seen someone never use.

It takes an embarrassingly long time to figure out which knob is the goddamn hot water, and which thing stops the drain (because apparently being able to close the drain by actually touching the actual drain stopper wouldn’t be fancy enough). But it’s not like he’s going to call for Magnus’s help to figure out a fucking bathtub.

And anyway, if he’s literally never seen Magnus use the tub, maybe Magnus wouldn’t know either.

So he struggles for a few minutes, hoping the struggle isn’t too audible in the rest of the loft. But eventually he manages to get the tub filling with acceptably hot water - well, water just short of scalding, really. He chews his lip nervously as he pours in an experimental amount of the stuff he seriously hopes is bubble bath… And it bubbles up instantly, thank goodness. He may not have a lot of experience with baths - particularly not ones as luxurious as this - but he knows bubbles are an absolute requirement.

Because, after all, it’s not like he’d ever be able to handle spending any amount of time lying in a bath where he can actually see himself. See his body, just lying in the water, exposed. There’s no chance. He’d lose his mind within five minutes. No, he needs the bubbles. Needs that layer, for covering. Hiding.

And whatever this stuff is, it’s certainly going to do the trick. Alec squeezes out a bit more, just of be safe, and in a few minutes, there’s a thick, fluffy blanket of bubbles that completely spans the surface of the water.

A tub this extravagantly big takes a long-ass time to fill up. And Alec’s patience isn’t quite up to the challenge. So he gives in as soon as the water looks deep enough to cover him. It’s a little difficult to wrestle off his boxers when his body still very much hates him, but then he’s slipping down into the water…

He moans so loudly that he’s pretty sure Magnus can hear it. Hell, they can probably hear it on the street outside. He doesn’t mean to, it’s just… fuck. It’s the sweetest thing Alec’s ever felt. The water is just shy of being painfully hot, and the heat stings his skin and immediately seeps into his aching muscles. It's heaven.

This might be the only time in Alec’s life that he’s ever been in a bathtub big enough to actually let him lie down. A tub big enough for him to simultaneously soak his shoulders and toes without having to bend his knees. He fits perfectly, with a crazy amount of extra room on either side of him. It’s…

By the Angel. It’s amazing.

There’s a little dip in the ledge, right under his head. It cradles his neck perfectly - which he realizes is probably the point. The bubbles are almost high enough to touch his chin, and they smell like-

Alec chuckles. Of course. Sandalwood. Alec’s taken enough showers here to not be surprised at all. It never used to be his favorite scent, but after three months with Magnus… well. He's starting to like it a bit more than he used to.

The bathroom’s quiet. A little steamy. It’s calm, and soothing, and the water is doing wonders for his soreness. Everything is just relaxing and peaceful and wonderful-

So it’s a perfect time for Alec to think about how he’s just completely fucked up his relationship.

He sinks a little further into the water and sighs out his nose, making a little dent in the bubbles.

It’ll be fine. He knows it’ll be fine. He… he hopes it’ll be fine.

It’ll be fine.

It’s not like this is something he can undo, something he can fix. It’s done. He fucked up, and this fuck up can’t be fucked back down. He has to deal with that. He wants to fix it, he wants so badly to fix it. But he knows he can’t.

But… at the very least… it’s over now. Even if it’s something he can’t undo, it’s something he can… not do again.

He still doesn’t know why the fuck he did it in the first place.

His intentions were good. That’s what he keeps telling himself, anyway. He just didn’t want anyone to worry. Jace was in worse shape than him. Jace needed help sooner than he did. He was the priority.

And then… Alec’s memory gets fuzzier. Because he’d lied to Magnus. Yeah, he thought the iratze would take care of everything, but he’d still blatantly lied about what had happened. How badly he’d been hurt. And-

Fuck. Alec doesn’t know why. Maybe… Maybe he didn’t want to make Magnus worry. Or maybe he didn’t want to admit how stupid he’d been to get injured like that. Maybe he didn’t want… didn’t want Magnus to know that he could get hurt like that. Didn’t want Magnus to have to see the proof of how easy it is for Alec to get hurt. How easy it’d be for… something worse to happen.

Alec closes his eyes.

Fucking useless. It doesn’t fucking matter what his justification was. He’d still fucked it all up. Things have been going so nicely, for such a long time. He’s been so happy. He’s been happier than… he’s ever been. And now he’s fucked it all up. Fucking stupid. Not surprising, but still so fucking stupid…

The bathroom door opens.

Alec inhales sharply. His eyes snap open. He’s-

He’s awake. He didn’t- huh.

He didn’t think he’d fallen asleep. But now he’s waking up, so he must have drifted off.

Great. After everything else he’s done, now he’s gonna drown because he decided to take a nap in a bathtub. Idiot.

The water is still very hot, so he doesn’t think he could have been out for long. He rubs his fingers together and… no. They’re not pruney yet. It’s probably only been a few minutes. Probably.

He’s facing away from the door, so he can’t actually see Magnus walk over to the tub, but he can hear his bare feet on the tiles. Alec must still be a little groggy from his impromptu sleep, because he can’t make himself tilt his head to see what Magnus is doing.

But he doesn’t have to, because Magnus comes right over to him. Against all of his better instincts, Alec’s first impulse is to glance down, to make sure the bubbles are still thick enough to be covering his body. He grits his teeth as soon as he realizes that’s what he’s doing.

Because leave it to Alec to be dysfunctional enough that he can’t even let his boyfriend see him naked. After more than three whole months together, he still can’t do it. Yes, he’s been naked with Magnus, more times than he can count. But it’s always been in bed, under the covers. Even if he loves having Magnus be with him, and feel him, and touch him, he still can’t let Magnus actually see him. Because he’s stupid, and he’s ridiculous, and he’s fucking defective as a person, and even more so as a boyfriend.

Magnus sits on the edge of the tub (though ‘edge’ seems like an understatement; this is probably as wide as a park bench), and sets something down. The little clack sound finally makes Alec look up-

Magnus changed clothes. Alec doesn’t really remember what he’d been wearing before (since there were more important things to worry about), but it sure wasn’t this. He’s in a plain, white t-shirt. Literally. Alec’s brain almost can’t process it right away. It’s just… a white, v-neck shirt. It looks like it could have come in a package of ten from the clearance section at Walmart. And aside from the shirt, it’s just-

Alec swallows.

A tiny, tiny pair of underwear. Alec’s seen some of Magnus’s underwear before, but usually just in the process of undressing. He’s never seen him just… walk around like that. With nothing else covering him. Nothing but this small piece of fabric. It’s a soft orange color, or maybe peach? Covered with an intricate pattern of dark red lace. It looks so soft… like it’d be so nice to touch, and it’s so beautiful that Alec feels his face start to heat up for some reason-

Alec snaps out of it. Out of… whatever that was. It’s just clothes. Magnus just changed clothes. He looks more comfortable now. He’s taken off most of his jewelry, and he’s wearing something casual and comfortable. That’s it.

He’s holding a mug. One of his truly giant mugs that he can fill to the brim with coffee and chug in a startlingly short amount of time. This one is green, with some sort of splattery black design on it, like weird modern art.

And there’s another mug, resting next to him on the edge of the tub. Magnus nods toward it. “Go on. You haven’t had anything in your system all day. You need fluids.”

Alec’s stomach twists, and he’s not sure if it’s with guilt, or the realization that yeah, he hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday’s lunch. “You didn’t have to.”

“I didn’t,” Magnus says lightly, leaning back against the wall. “I was already making a pot for myself. Believe me, if it would have taken any extra effort to make some for you, I wouldn’t have.”

Alec chuckles. He’s not sure why, but he can tell it’s an acceptable reaction. Magnus’s anger doesn’t sound entirely genuine now, like it did in the bedroom. There’s a hint of teasing to it.

It’s a bit of a struggle to get his arm out of the water to pick up the mug. The bath is just so nice, achingly hot, smelling like sandalwood, really working wonders on his body. But now that it’s been acknowledged, his stomach is absolutely insistent, so he forces himself to focus and get a few sips of coffee-

And it’s definitely not coffee.

It takes a moment to work through the surprise, but once he does, he realizes…

Damn.

“This is really good,” Alec says, trying not to sound as surprised as he is. The tea is strong and sweet and smokey, like a sugar-covered campfire. And there’s enough milk in it for it to be smooth and creamy and fantastic. “Where’d you get it?”

Magnus scoffs. “I made it, Alexander. You think the perfect cup of tea is just sitting on the counter at Starbucks, waiting for me to take it?” He makes a dismissive sound into his mug as he drinks.

And then they’re… quiet. Magnus stretches his legs out on the edge of the tub, crossed at the ankle. Alec sinks as far as he can into the water while still being able to sip his tea. Neither of them say anything.

It’s not a strained silence. Well, not as strained as Alec expected, anyway. It’s still not… great. There’s this thing hanging over them now, and it’s obvious that they both feel it. It may not be horrible, but it’s definitely a little tense.

Alec’s almost emptied his mug when Magnus finally breaks the silence. “I’m still mad at you.” He says it quietly. Gently. Like he’s not trying to be harsh. Just honest.

It’s-

It sucks, having to hear it. It fucking sucks. But, all things considered…

“Yeah,” Alec says, “that makes sense.”

Magnus hums, and rests his mug in his lap. He leans his head back against the wall, tipped up toward the ceiling. “Lucky for you, I like you more than I like holding grudges.” He gives a quiet, humorless laugh. “And I really love holding grudges.”

That…

Alec looks up at him, but Magnus’s eyes are closed. His breath gets stuck in his throat.

Magnus runs his fingers across the lip of the mug, and it vanishes in a bright blue shimmer. And somehow, it feels like the end of a sentence.

Alec looks back down, back at the slowly-dissipating layer of bubbles on the water. He lets the silence continue for what probably ends up being a few minutes… then he decides to try something else.

“There’s- um. It’s kinda… kinda surprising, if you think about it.” He tries to make his voice sound playful, but he misses by so much that it just ends up sounding sad. “I made it three whole months before really fucking up.” He chuckles nervously. “That’s way longer than I thought I’d last.”

He doesn’t know why the fuck he thinks joking about this is the right idea, but he’s not sure he can handle the silence much longer. And… there’s part of him that… doesn’t want to stop talking about this. Not yet. Things still aren’t right, and he doesn’t want to let this fade into the background, not if Magnus is still hurt. He wants to deal with it. If Magnus is still gonna be mad at him, Alec wants him to really be mad at him. Up front, and open. Not festering in silence. So Alec knows it, and doesn’t have to wonder if there’s still bitterness left days and weeks and months from now.

Yeah, it feels like a risk, like it could be a horrible idea, but…

Magnus’s mouth twists up into a smirk, so that’s something. “Technically, you only made it this long because your first spectacular fuck-up happened before we were officially dating.”

Alec’s face heats up and his throat makes a stupid noise and part of him wants to sink under the water and never resurface. “Th-that was… different. That doesn’t count.”

“Oh, really?” Magnus sounds much too pleased with himself. “You think marrying someone else would have been good for us? For our relationship?”

Alec tightens his grip on the handle of his mug until it hurts his fingers. “It…” He doesn’t have a comeback. He knows he doesn’t. “Are you ever gonna let that go?”

Magnus furrows his eyebrows. “Of course not. It’s a goldmine. And you’re far too cute when you’re being teased. I can’t resist.”

It takes a moment, but… Alec smiles.

Yeah. They’re gonna be okay.

Alec wants to apologize again. It’s his first instinct. Well, more like a gnawing, nagging need. But it just doesn’t… feel right. Magnus wasn’t particularly receptive the last time he tried to apologize. And the last thing Alec wants is for it to seem like he’s just doing it to get Magnus to forgive him. To absolve himself. To make himself feel better.

And, yeah, he would feel a hell of a lot better if Magnus actually forgave him, but he doesn’t want to push for it. Prompt him. Right now, saying he’s sorry would feel like outright begging for Magnus to make Alec feel better. And that’s bullshit. But he doesn’t know what else to say. He is sorry. He really is. But there’s no way to say that without-

Oh.

“Mags?”

“Hm?”

Alec takes a breath. “Thank you. For- for taking care of me. I know you shouldn’t… have to. But…” There’s too much he wants to say. And he doesn’t know how to say it. “Yeah. Thanks.”

He doesn’t look up, but he can hear Magnus sigh. “You’re welcome, darling.”

Darling.

Warmth seeps into Alec’s chest, completely unrelated to the heat of the bath.

There’s silence again, but it’s much more comfortable this time. Alec finishes his tea before it can get too cold. The bath is starting to cool off a bit, and the bubbles probably won’t last much longer. He should probably start thinking about getting out, showering, and trying to do some damage control on this day he’s completely wasted.

Magnus shifts. It’s small, barely noticeable. But after about a minute or so, he uncrosses his legs. And he slowly, slowly lowers one foot over the edge of the tub, and dips it into the water.

Alec really doesn’t think the water is very hot anymore, but Magnus must not agree. Because the moment his foot gets wet, he inhales sharply, like the water stung him. Alec looks up, but Magnus’s eyes are still closed. And he’s frowning, his eyebrows knit and his jaw tense. He looks absolutely miserable. It doesn’t really… make sense.

Magnus doesn’t relax at all, but he gradually lets his leg sink further into the water, until his foot is resting at the bottom of the tub.

And it… it doesn’t feel like the right time yet. It’s possible that Alec should still leave Magnus his space for a while…

But he’s just so tense, Alec can literally feel how uncomfortable Magnus is, and even if he doesn’t understand why, he can’t just… leave it. He has to try something.

Alec brushes his fingers across Magnus’s calf, under the water. As gentle and careful as possible. Magnus still doesn’t relax, but he doesn’t seem to get worse, either. So Alec leaves his hand there, resting against Magnus’s leg, rubbing small circles with his thumb.

Magnus hums, and slowly, Alec can feel some of the tension slip out of him.

And for a few minutes, it’s just… nice. Something still feels a little bit off about Magnus, but the longer they sit there, with that small point of contact, it seems to get better.

Alec’s still awkwardly holding his empty mug above the surface of the water with his other hand, and it starts getting awkward enough to ruin the mood. He doesn’t want to move… But after another minute or so, it gets too uncomfortable to be worth it. He lifts his arm out of the tub just far enough to set the mug on the ledge. It’s not a big movement, but it’s enough to disturb the water, and the tiny, tiny splashing sound seems ridiculously loud in the silence of the bathroom-

Magnus’s leg jolts. And with a breath sharp enough that it’s almost a gasp, he lifts his leg out of the water. Alec looks up just in time to see him flick his hand, and the drops of water disappear from his skin with a few blue sparks.

Alec doesn’t know what’s wrong. What changed. Why he didn’t just dry off with the towel on the floor next to him.

“Mags?”

Magnus clears his throat. And he puts on that smile. The little, forced, fake smile.

And he doesn’t say anything. He just reaches over to grab Alec’s abandoned mug. And he gets up. To leave.

Alec wants to stop him, to ask him what’s wrong. But he doesn’t get the chance. Magnus is already gone. It’s…

Well. It’s weird. It was a weird moment. But Alec reminds himself that Magnus has had a spectacularly shitty day (all thanks to his worthless boyfriend), so Alec’s pretty sure the least he can do is leave him in peace.

Except…

The water’s basically just lukewarm now. The layer of bubbles is more of an opaque film. His body doesn’t hurt as much, but that’s just letting him realize all the other problems he’s gonna have to deal with. Like hunger. And the start of a headache, right at the base of his skull.

Yeah. He’s not sure if it’s because Magnus left, or because it’s been a pretty long time. But for whatever reason, the bath just… isn’t good anymore.

Of course, the bubble residue leaves his skin feeling weird and oily, even after he’s out and dried off. Baths always manage to make him feel significantly less clean getting out than he did getting in. So as the tub drains, he takes a quick shower. He doesn’t bother with his hair, or his face. He just needs to scrub off the-

Alec laughs.

He needs to clean off the layer of sandalwood bubble bath with some sandalwood bodywash.

There’s no difference. No fucking difference.

But somehow, it works. After his sixty-second shower, he feels clean, and fresh, and… not horrifically sore. Still sore, yeah. But no more than he’d be after a particularly rough training session. Not sore like he should be, considering what happened to him last night.

And, great. Here comes the guilt again.

He wonders how long it’ll be before he can think about that mission without wanting to puke.

They’re fine. They’re fine. They’ve talked about it. He’s apologized. Magnus is still mad at him, but he won’t be forever. It’s over now. Alec’s done all he can do.

But, that…

No.

That’s bullshit.

‘All he can do.’

Bullshit.

With everything Magnus did for him last night, everything Magnus does for him any fucking night, everything Magnus has to put up with from him, all his continuous stupidity and overall incompetence as a boyfriend (and a person in general), and this is… all Alec can do? Apologize?

Fuck that.

He can do better.

He knows he’s gonna do better. He’s already promised Magnus that. But just saying ‘okay I won’t lie to you anymore’ isn’t a good thing. It’s literally the bare minimum of not being a shitty person. Alec wants to do better. More. Something good. Something… nice.

He towels at his hair absentmindedly - even though it wasn’t really wet to begin with. And he glances around the bathroom.

There’s a pile of clothes on the counter. Neatly folded. A t-shirt, boxers, and sweatpants. Magnus must have put them there for him.

Of course he did.

Alec gets dressed quickly, mostly to avoid having to see himself in the massive mirror. His body protests a few times, still aching in a few places when he bends a certain way. But it’s fine. He’s fine. Right now, he refuses to not be fine. He looks around again-

Huh.

Maybe…

He chews his lip.

Yeah.

There’s a little tub of lotion on the counter, next to the sink. It’s the stuff Magnus uses after showering (he’s even managed to get Alec to use it once or twice, just on his dry elbows). Alec picks it up on his way out of the bathroom.

“Hey, Mags?” he calls out the open bedroom door. Magnus is probably in the library, so he might be out of earshot-

Oh. He’s right outside the door. One of the armchairs has been moved from its usual spot by the minibar. Magnus is stretched out sideways across it, legs hanging over the edge, tapping lazily at his phone. It’s…

Shit. It’s probably so he could hear if Alec called for him. When he was in the bath, and probably earlier too. So he could hear when Alec woke up.

Alec grits his teeth against the acidic sting of heartburn rising in his chest. “Are you… um. Are you doing anything right now?”

Magnus glances up without lowering his phone. He opens his mouth to respond, but stops. His eyes are locked on the lotion in Alec’s hand. “Changed your mind about that massage?” He sounds… tired. Resigned.

“Yes- ah. No. Sort of.” Alec sputters, wincing at his own dumb voice. “I just… I thought. You know, you’ve had a shittier week than me. By a long shot. So, um,” he gestures uselessly with the little container, “I figured… you probably need one. More than I do.”

Magnus’s eyes flick between Alec’s face and the lotion.

And he smiles.

It’s subdued. But it’s fond, and happy, and real. It’s the best thing Alec’s seen all day. “That’d be nice.”

Alec tries to keep himself in check, but the relief of seeing Magnus look like that warms Alec from head to toe and he physically can’t keep a stupid fucking grin off of his face. “Okay.”

Magnus gets up, leaving his phone on the chair.

And, of course, Alec immediately panics.

“I haven’t, um-” He swallows. “I haven’t actually… done this before.” He runs his free hand across the back of his neck, like that might somehow calm his sudden attack of nerves. “I have no clue what I’m doing. So it might be… yeah. Horrible. But, um. Don’t like… let it be horrible, okay? If I really fuck it up, tell me.”

Magnus’s smile just gets bigger. Except now, it’s a lot closer to a smirk. “Hm. I believe I’ve heard that before.”

“Wh-”

Oh.

Oh.

Alec’s face practically ignites with a blush.

Because… yes. He’s said that before. Almost word for word.

Fuck.

He’d said almost the exact same thing the first time he’d given Magnus a blowjob.

Well. At the time, Magnus had said it was cute of him. Charming. Hopefully that’s still true.

Magnus chuckles a little, undoubtedly at Alec's stupid face. But he doesn’t draw it out. He just walks right past him, into the bedroom, reaching over his head to-

By the Angel.

Magnus strips off his shirt, and tosses it in the vague direction of the closet door. So now, he’s just…

He’s getting on the bed. Shirtless. Wearing absolutely nothing but that tiny, lacy, gorgeous underwear that makes Alec’s gut twist when he looks at it for too long…

Fuck.

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all. Sixteen days. It’s been sixteen days since they’ve seen each other, which is a new record for them. Yes, they talked every single day. And yes, Alec ended up jerking himself off a ridiculous number of times (because he’s learned that that’s apparently actually enjoyable… highly enjoyable). But this is still the first time they’ve actually been together in sixteen whole days. Sixteen. Sixteen days.

And now Magnus is lying face-down on the bed wearing the sexiest, smallest piece of clothing Alec’s ever seen and there’s just so much skin and muscle and it’s all right here and holy shit. Alec’s not sure he can do this without dying.

On the bright side, a massage sounds like an even better idea than before. Because now Alec can just… touch him. Just sit on the bed with Magnus and touch him. And, hopefully, make him feel good.

Fuck. This is the best idea anyone’s ever had.

That being said, the actual… mechanics of it are still completely foreign to him. He kneels on the bed next to Magnus, and he’s- he’s immediately lost. He assumes he’s supposed to… fuck. Does he just, straddle him? Sit right on his ass? That can’t be right.

“Come on,” Magnus says, with just a hint of teasing in his voice. His face is mostly buried in a pillow, but Alec can still see that he’s smirking.

Well… fine then.

He’s gonna do this.

It takes about two seconds after getting situated on Magnus’s thighs for Alec to become terrified that he’s gonna get a boner. Just his luck. When he’s trying to do a nice, innocent thing for Magnus. Of course.

A few deep breaths are enough to calm himself down. And then, the rest of the process starts to hit him, and he realizes that he’s gonna be way too nervous and focused during this for him to possibly get aroused. Because he’s unscrewing the lid of the lotion and trying to figure out how much of it he’s supposed to rub between his hands and he’s just really never done this before. Anything like this. And what’s worse, he’s never had anyone do this to him, either. So he doesn’t even have a point of reference and he’s definitely going to fuck this up, this was a terrible idea-

“Alexander, relax,” Magnus mumbles into the pillow. “Your stress is contagious.”

Right.

Right. Yeah. He can do this.

Yeah.

Start simple.

Alec spreads the lotion across Magnus’s skin, starting at the small of his back, and working up to his shoulder blades. He knows it’s not really a ‘massage’ yet, but it’s… it’s still good. It still feels good. Everything about Magnus’s body is so impossibly beautiful, both to see and to touch, and Alec gets to do both right now.

On probably the third or fourth time up his spine, Alec presses his fingers in, just a little bit more than he had been.

And Magnus sighs. A tiny, happy sound. It’s beautiful.

Maybe this isn’t so hard.

It sort of… falls into place, after that. Surprisingly easy. Alec just… touches him. In long, slow movements. Sometimes pressing with his whole hand, sometimes just lightly trailing his fingertips. At one point, he curls his fingers and scratches long lines all the way from Magnus’s neck to the hem of his underwear-

Which makes Magnus moan so goddamn loudly that Alec almost moans right back.

Every now and then, Magnus gives him actual instruction. “Slow down a bit,” and “Harder, use the heel of your hand,” and “Mm, perfect, right there.”

When something is good, he lets Alec know. Like… really lets him know. It starts small, with a heavy breath, or a tiny little whimper. But after ten or fifteen minutes have gone by, it’s moans and sighs and whispers until Alec literally can’t tell the difference between what Magnus sounds like now and what Magnus sounds like during sex.

And that just… makes Alec… wonder.

Because Magnus is groaning and shifting against the bed and now he’s all relaxed and sleepy and basically naked and they haven’t seen each other for over two weeks…

And is this…

Is Alec supposed to… do something?

Because he certainly… well. He certainly wouldn’t mind. Doing something. He just doesn’t want to make it seem like that’s why he suggested this in the first place. It’s not. He wanted to do something for Magnus. He doesn’t want to make Magnus think he was trying to get something out of it.

But he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do now. And he’s pretty sure that asking ‘Are you hoping for me to initiate sex?’ would kill the mood, regardless of the answer.

So he tries to find a way to… offer. Sort of. Just a bit.

His hands wander to the small of Magnus’s back, and stay there. He slowly, carefully starts to trail his touches around to Magnus’s hips. And he slips the tips of his fingers into Magnus’s underwear-

“Mm,” Magnus tilts his face away from the pillow. “Not right now, darling.”

“Okay,” Alec immediately pulls his hands away, going back to Magnus’s shoulders - which seem like the most non- suggestive place for his hands to be. “Good. Just… checking.”

Magnus chuckles quietly, cozying himself further into the bedding. “You are doing an excellent job, Alexander.”

Alec feels a little burst of warmth in his chest, and he’s not sure if it’s pride… or gratitude. That he’s able to do this for Magnus. That it’s working. That he found something nice he can do for him. Something nice.

Now that the silence has been broken, Alec has to ask: “How was the job today? At the Institute?” He knows he should have asked earlier, but there wasn’t really a good opportunity. Magnus was already fucking pissed; there was no reason to bring this up and make things worse.

As expected, Magnus tenses a little under Alec’s hands. But it only lasts a second. “Oh, it was delightful.” And- uh oh. Alec recognizes that as his most sarcastic tone. “You know how much I love working for people who’ve literally tried to kill me. Having to demand payment three separate times because they think my abilities are their right. Spending an entire morning being referred to by my species instead of my name.” He makes a sound that’s part scoff, part laugh. “And I didn’t even get to sneak a few kisses from my boyfriend for my troubles.” He sighs grandly. “Honestly, darling, the Institute is bad enough even when I get to see you. When you aren’t there, it’s absolute torture.”

He says it as a joke, but Alec doesn’t laugh. It’s not a real joke. It’s one of the fake ones. One of the ones Magnus says to brush off something that’s important. In this case, something that’s painful.

Alec presses his fingers up Magnus’s neck, into his hair. “Do you… Do you wanna, maybe… vent? A little? I’ll listen.” It feels like a small offer in comparison to the scope of what Magnus dealt with, but it’s something.

Magnus laughs bitterly. “Really? I don’t have particularly nice things to say about your people right now, Alexander. Particularly your parents.”

“Yeah, well, that makes two of us.” Hell, by this point, Alec’s realized that he actually likes having a boyfriend who complains about Robert and Maryse as much as he does. It’s a weird thing to have in common, but it’s a nice point of unification, at least.

Magnus is silent for a few moments. “Hm. It’s a rather… extensive list of grievances.” He turns his face, looking over his shoulder so he can meet Alec’s gaze. “We could be here all day.”

And…

Alec can’t help himself. He leans down, and presses a kiss to Magnus’s cheek. Right next to his mouth. His lips linger against Magnus’s skin for several seconds, and something lights up in his chest when he hears Magnus make a small, happy sound.

Alec smiles as he finally pulls away. “Sounds good to me.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“So, is the deja vu just… killing you? It’s kinda killing me.”

Alec makes a considering noise as he sips his drink. “Not really. I think there are enough differences. Substantial ones.” He smacks his lips. “We’re at a bar, for instance.”

Jace tips his beer toward Alec in acknowledgement. “Mm. Good point. And we’re actually drinking.”

“We’re speaking to each other.”

Jace laughs. “Neither of us had to be tricked into being here.”

“Eugh.” Alec rolls his eyes. “Neither of us are going through some massive personal crisis.”

“You look significantly prettier.” Jace waggles his eyebrows.

“Damn right!” Alec slams his now-empty glass on the bar for emphasis, fighting the urge to giggle because there’s no way he’s that drunk this early in the night. “And, what else?” He purses his lips in fake confusion for a moment, like he’s thinking too hard. “Oh yeah. I’m actually in love with my fiance.”

Jace hums against the lip of his beer. “He’s the right gender and everything.”

Alec does giggle this time, because he can’t help himself. “So, yeah. This time pretty much kicks last time’s ass.”

“See? I plan one hell of a bachelor party.” Jace signals the bartender, gesturing to Alec’s empty glass.

“For the last time Jace, you did not plan this,” Alec pokes the bar with his index finger, because it feels like that’ll help make his point for some reason. “You just stole the exact same thing Izzy planned the first time.”

“Hey!” Jace holds his bottle under Alec’s nose, like he’s trying to threaten him with it. “I planned the shit out of this. I picked the bar. I picked the day. I found someone to watch the kids-”

“They’re at home! With Magnus,” Alec bats the bottle away from his face… and… huh. It’s a bit clumsier than it should be. “You did not arrange for my children to be in their own home with their own father.”

“Yeah, but I made sure Magnus wasn’t busy. That he didn’t have any jobs or anything tonight. I coordinated.” He interlaces his fingers, expression ridiculously serious.

He looks so intense that Alec takes pity on him. He clearly needs this. “You… You did pick the bar.” He forces himself to keep his voice steady and sincere, even though there’s more stupid laughter building in his throat. “You planned the bar very well.”

“Thank you.” Jace sounds weirdly smug about it. “Now if you could do me a favor, kindly tell Izzy that my bachelor party was better than hers, next time you see her.”

Part of Alec really wants to point out that that’s only true because of circumstances that have absolutely nothing to do with Jace or his involvement…

But then the bartender sets a fresh Sex on the Beach in front of Alec as she walks past. And Alec makes the diplomatic decision to not bite the hand that’s paying for his alcohol.

“Yep. Will do. Way better.”

Jace chuckles and scoots a little bit on his stool. A little closer to Alec. Until their elbows bump and their knees knock together. Which-

Great. Which means Jace is already starting to get cuddly. After only two beers.

So Jace is already turning into a physically needy teddy bear and Alec is already giggling at everything that happens. This is fucking ridiculous. He knows they’re getting older, but really. They’re not even thirty yet (though… fuck, just barely). Their alcohol tolerance shouldn’t have plummeted this far already.

And it doesn’t look like either of them are planning on slowing down on the drinks anytime soon. So they’re just gonna get worse. Hell, at this rate they’re probably gonna end up spooning in the back of the cab on the way home.   

“Y’know, I was gonna-” Jace interrupts himself by taking another drink. “I made another plan. Didn’t pan out. But it was good. I was gonna really lean in to the deja vu thing and bring it all full-circle.”

Alec giggles as he picks up his glass. “Yeah? How?”

Jace turns to him, face completely serious. “I invited Lydia.”

Fucking fuck.

Alec snorts into his glass, choking on laughter and alcohol and his own tongue all at once. He sputters helplessly until his throat is clear enough for him to be completely overtaken by laughter. It’s an actual goddamn spit-take. Which, of course, just makes him laugh harder.

Fuck. He can’t breathe.

Jace is laughing too, but it’s much more subdued. It’s more like he’s pleased with himself than he actually thinks it’s funny.

It feels like it takes about six hours for Alec to calm down. There are tears in his eyes. He’s gasping. Shit. When did he get this tipsy?

“By the Angel,” he pants out between whatever little giggles are left in his system. “I can’t tell if that’s- if that’s like, awful, or… actually really great?”

Jace downs the last of his beer. And he immediately starts messing with the empty bottle, sliding it back and forth across the bar between his palms. “Inviting someone to their ex-fiance’s bachelor party? Pretty awful.” He snorts out a little laugh. “Taking Lydia Branwell out drinking? Fuckin’ awesome.”

Alec just giggles again, and fucking dammit he needs to stop fucking doing that. He’s an adult, and he’s only had…

Oh.

How…

How many drinks has he had? Two.

Three?

This is his third. Yeah. Gotta be that. He’s just starting his third. Unless it’s his fourth-

Fuck it. It’s his bachelor party.

Besides, it’s a bar. It’s not like he came here to keep a super meticulous record of how much alcohol he’s consuming. He’s not paying, he’s not driving, he’s not even going home tonight. He’s crashing on Jace’s couch so he can’t accidentally wake up Magnus or the kids by trying to drunkenly sneak into the loft at the asscrack of dawn (and so he can get his shit together before he goes home in the morning, since he’s not exactly comfortable with the idea of being hungover in front of his children). He’s done literally everything possible to make sure that it doesn’t fucking matter how many drinks he has tonight. So he’s gonna fucking enjoy himself. And he’s not gonna care that he’s already lost count. Not his problem.

“So did you like, actually invite her?” Alec asks, though it’s muffled, since he’s apparently decided he really needs to be chewing the end of his straw right now.

Jace nods, picking at the label on his empty beer. “She said she would have loved being here.” He makes a weird sound, like he’s trying not to laugh at the idea. “But she really can’t get here until next week.”

“Mmphhh,” Alec mumbles into his glass, trying to catch an ice cube with his tongue. “Makes sense. She’s a busy woman, running an Institute and whatnot.” Alec’s still honestly flattered that Lydia’s making it to the wedding at all, considering how fucking ridiculous her schedule is (though she’s said she wouldn’t miss it for anything). Yeah, she’s only getting here the day of, and then leaving first thing the next morning, but still. For her, that’s massive. She hasn’t been able to get to New York at all in almost a year.

But now that he knows what could have been, Alec’s just really really really really wishing she was here tonight, because now he’s hyper-aware of the fact that he hasn’t seen her in person in, like, forever. Ten months. Which is basically forever. Shit, the last time she was here, the kids weren’t even in school yet.

Alec still can’t manage to get a fucking ice cube in his mouth, so he sets down his glass and starts chewing on the orange slice perched on the rim instead. He glances over at Jace-

And he’s drinking a new beer.

When did that happen? Alec must have been more invested in ice-catching than he thought.

“So when’s Magnus doing his?” Jace asks abruptly, like it’s the second half of a conversation they’ve already started. Which it’s-

Which it’s not. Right?

“Doing his what?”

“Bachelor party.”

Oh.

Alec giggles into his orange peel. “Tomorrow.” He tries to keep his voice steady, but he can feel all that contained laughter doing something truly stupid to his face. “And neither of us have any idea what it’s gonna be. It’s a surprise.” He turns to meet Jace’s gaze, so he can really grasp the severity of his next sentence. “Planned by Isabelle. And Catarina.”

Jace’s eyes get as big as a cartoon baby’s. “Holy fuck.” He sets down his beer, and swivels in his stool so he’s facing Alec. “You can’t let him go. Alec, Alec,” he grabs him by the shoulder, “he’s gonna die. They’re all gonna die.”

Alec laughs as he tries to shake off Jace’s hand. “No one’s gonna die. They’re responsible adults.” Hm. He wrinkles his nose. “Catarina’s a responsible adult. She’ll make sure everyone’s… fine. They’ll be fine.”

Jace makes an inarticulate sound that manages to convey that he’s seriously not convinced. “Bachelor parties are literally meant to be the craziest, stupidest, most irresponsible of all the party categories. Even mundane ones can end up being fucking nuts.” His face twists up. “Throw in Isabelle and actual magic? By Monday morning you’re not gonna have a fiance left.”

Alec shoves at Jace half-heartedly with his elbow. “Yeah, ‘cause that’d be the perfect way for Magnus to celebrate the wedding. By getting miserably shit-faced.” He scoffs as he takes another drink.

Jace turns back to face the bar… but then he uses the movement as an excuse to scootch even further into Alec’s personal space. “Isn’t that the whole point of a bachelor party?” He bumps their elbows together with a stupid grin. “You’re supposed to… y’know- You gotta do all the ridiculous shit you can think of, since it’s your last chance. That’s what they always say. It’s the last night before you get, like… chained down and shit.”

He-

Alec furrows his eyebrows. He can feel his head spin around, trying to process-

Fucking straight people,” Alec groans, a little louder than he means to. He has to put both his hands on the bar to steady himself, since he thinks his outrage might be strong enough to actually make him fall over if he doesn’t. “Magnus and I had to fight the Clave every fucking day for five goddamn years before they’d even let us get married. But yeah, sure, let everybody joke about ‘marriage is a prison’ and how much it must suck for them to be able to marry whoever the fuck they want without having to lift a goddamn finger.” He shakes his head, like he’s trying to dislodge that idea, since it’s sticking in his brain like a nasty parasite. He opens his mouth, but all that comes out is a noise like he’s about to vomit.

“Well, hey,” Jace says, nudging Alec’s elbow again, “no one’s gotta fight the Clave for that anymore, huh?” He smiles. “You guys took care of that.”

Alec’s face feels warm, and he can’t tell if it’s just the thrum of all this alcohol, or if he’s starting to blush. Either way, he rolls his eyes as spectacularly as possible to cover it. “You need to stop acting like we did that by ourselves. Like it was just me and Magnus alone against the entire Clave. It was… it was a lot more complicated than that.”

Jace makes a dismissive sound. “You pick the weirdest shit to be modest about.” He takes a long swig of beer. “You still brag about doing more pushups than me that one time like, a thousand years ago. But helping shadowhunters finally be able to marry anybody - downworlders, mundanes, any gender, all of it - then it’s all, ‘oh no,’” he whines in a high-pitched voice, “‘I didn’t do anything, it was all everybody else, I wasn’t even there.’ I'm not saying you should take credit for the whole thing, but you can at least admit that you, like, participated. At least.”

“I don’t sound like that,” Alec says with as much dignity as possible. “And I did so many more pushups than you. Kicked your ass.”

Jace does a weird groan-laugh hybrid. “Yeah, and it hasn’t happened since. Total fluke.”

“Only ‘cause you won’t have a rematch. You know you’d have no chance.” Alec snorts. “I do my daily workout with a five-year-old on my back. I’d destroy you.”

Jace sniffs and squares his shoulders. “And that’s an unfair advantage. I don’t have a five-year-old to train with. Wouldn’t be fair at all.”

Alec starts to laugh, and he fights himself as hard as he can to make sure it stays a normal, adult laugh-

But it morphs into a stupid little giggle almost instantly. Fuck.

Jace starts to take a drink, but he stops himself, making a strangled noise into the bottle. “Mm, hey, that’s it. That’s your, I don’t know, silver lining?” He gestures, though it’s not clear what he thinks he’s gesturing to. “If you didn’t have to deal with all the Clave shit, and you could have gotten married right away, you wouldn’t have had anyone to be a ring bearer.”

Fuck it. Alec giggles, and lets it be as giggly as possible. “Or a flower boy. Max couldn’t walk yet.”

Jace points at him excitedly. “Exactly. Just imagine how pissed he’d be if he grew up and found out you had this big-ass wedding and he didn’t get to walk down aisle. Having to sit with all the other guests, not getting any attention. And Rafe, not getting to be ring bearer. Not even there at all. Not even invited to his future parents’ wedding. So rude.”

It’s not like it’s a new thought. Hell, he and Magnus have had this exact same conversation. But Alec smiles again anyway, because why not? He bites down on his straw, but doesn’t actually drink. “Still kinda sucks though,” he says between his clenched teeth. “This weekend could have been our five-year anniversary. And it’s just the bachelor parties.”

“Hm.” Jace leans his elbows on the bar, resting his chin on the back of one hand. “But this way, you get to have two five-year anniversaries. The one two years ago, and the one in five years.”

Alec snorts, almost choking on his drink. “You’re just, like, infuriatingly optimistic tonight. You usually get all weepy when you’re drunk. The fuck’s going on?”

“Ahhhh,” Jace shrugs with his whole goddamn body. The smile on his face gets particularly… gooey. “Dunno, it’s- I mean, come on, man. It’s a sentimental occasion. It’d be bad enough already, but with this being the second time and all…” he makes a sound that’s partway between gibberish and a sigh. “I’m getting all nostalgic and shit.”

Alec slurps at the last few sips of his drink (and how did he go through it that quickly? Practically chugged the damn thing). “Fair enough.”

Jace is quiet for a minute, but not in an actual quiet way. It’s that way he gets when he’s thinking about something so goddamn loudly that Alec can practically hear the white noise in his brain. Alec wants to tell him to fucking spit it out already… But he’s currently a little too busy making sure he gets every last drop out of his glass.

After another few moments, Jace laughs at whatever he was thinking about. “Remember when you thought you were in love with me?”

“Remember when you fucked your sister?” Alec snaps back immediately.

“Hey!” Jace punches Alec’s shoulder, because apparently he’s actually a thirteen-year-old instead of an adult. “Absolutely no fucking happened until that was all… sorted out.”

“Oh, well. Then it’s not weird at all.” Alec rolls his eyes and goes back to using the straw in his mouth to stir the ice at the bottom of his glass.

“What I meant was,” Jace says firmly, slapping his hand down on the bar for emphasis, “remember when that was… y’know. All that shit from back then. When you were pissy and miserable all the fucking time. The dumpster hoodies and all the black and the bad hair and the fucking look.”

“What ‘look’?” Alec makes sure he sounds as offended as possible, because seriously, what the fuck? Can’t get any damn respect, even at his own party.

The look. The,” Jace puts on a ridiculous grimace, sighs out heavily through his nose, and rolls his eyes as slowly and dramatically as possible. “The ‘I’m Alec Lightwood and everything in the world is bothering me’ look.”

Alec can feel himself bristle, straightening his back with dignified outrage. “I don’t know if you recall, Jace, but at the time, I’d spent a couple of decades dealing with shit that was a bit more than bothersome-”

“Yeah, that’s my point!” Jace leans in, hunching over the bar and keeping his focus down on his beer. “That’s just… how it was back then. And now, yeah.” He glances over at Alec, almost like he’s… is he embarrassed? “C’mon, you know. How shitty everything was back then. And then… now. I mean, fuck. Look at you.” He shakes his head with a little smile. “All grown up. You’re getting married - for real this time. You’ve got kids. You’ve got this whole… thing going for you,” he gestures vaguely in Alec’s direction, sloppily waving at his face. “Your makeup and your fancy pink shirts and your…” he frowns, “whatever the fuck’s going on with your hair.” His eyes narrow. “What the fuck is going on with your hair?”

Whoa.

He’s-

Whoa .

He’d better fucking watch himself.

Because Alec’s hair looks amazing. Hell, Alec’s everything looks amazing tonight. But his hair is special. He’s got little streaks of color, worked through the top of it, the way Magnus likes to do it. Mostly light pink (to match his shirt, a button-up with a lace collar), but there’s a little bit of golden blond here and there.

It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. He looks fucking fantastic.

So he’s not gonna take any shit from Jace.

Alec sits up as tall as he can, and raises his eyebrows. “I’ll have you know that my son did my hair tonight.” He tilts his head to the side, and tries to make it look as imposing as possible (even though his head is starting to get really fuzzy). “Go on, say something about his work. I dare you.”

Jace opens his mouth, but then just chokes on a sound of surprise. “Max did that?”

Alec nods, and fights the urge to reach up and run his fingers through it. He knows there’s way too much goop in it right now, and he’d just fuck it up and it’d be fucked for the rest of the night. “Well, he did the color, not the style.” And Magnus had helped, but still. It was Max’s idea. Alec’s giving full credit to Max.

Jace nods. “S’pretty damn impressive.” He chuckles and runs a hand across his mouth. “And it’s good to know that Magnus is teaching him the important stuff. Hair Magic.” He chuckles and starts to take a drink-

But he cuts himself off again. “But yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Now you’ve got magic hair and a family and you’re all pretty and shit.” He sets down his beer. “And, y’know, just… happy. After all that time, it’s-”

“No, no, nonono Jace. Stop.” Alec pushes away from the bar a bit, leaning back on his stool, like it’ll help to get actual physical distance from this conversation. “You cannot start getting all sappy on me. You gotta wait at least one more drink for that.” He may be getting tipsy way quicker than he should, but he’s still significantly too sober to start having a serious conversation. About him. And feelings. And feelings about him.

Jace groans a bit, like he’s gonna protest… but he just gives a very exaggerated shrug instead. “Fine. I won’t say anything.” He looks away, giving a suspicious amount of attention to the coaster under his beer. “I won’t say anything about how happy I am for you,” he sighs in his most dramatic ‘emotional martyr’ tone. “How excited I am that you’re finally getting married. Getting married to Magnus…”

“Aaaghhhhhhh.”

Alec crumples like a piece of paper. Instantly. His head falls forward onto the bar, cushioned by his forearm.

Fuck.

Fuck.

He’s not this drunk. He shouldn’t be defeated this easily. He’s very aware that he should have a bit more dignity than this.

But, still.

He hasn’t built up a tolerance to that idea yet. And hearing Jace just say it like that, so casually, like it’s just… like it’s just a thing. A thing that’s happening.

Actually happening.

Actually happening in nine days-

“Fuck,” Alec says emphatically to the lacquered wood. “Just… fucking fuck.”

He struggles back up, resting his elbows on the bar and holding his head in his hands. The room may not be spinning per se, but it’s definitely not sitting still like it’s supposed to.

Alec can hear Jace laughing at him, so he kicks out in his direction. He thinks he maybe gets decent shot at his shin. “You don’t get it, Jace.” He feels his words start to get jumbled up before he can even say them, so he focuses all his energy on not stuttering or slurring. “I’m actually, like- Jace, okay, it’s really just… it’s…”

Wow. That was basically poetry.

Alec makes an inarticulate noise of frustration at his fucking brain for being so fucking useless. He presses his hands harder against the sides of his head. He’s positive that he can squeeze out some of this alcohol buzz and regain a bit of eloquence.

“It’s in nine days, Jace.”

Good. That’s a good starting point. But it’s also very much just a bland statement of fact.

“The wedding is in nine days. I’ve wanted… It’s been seven years, and now it’s happening. In nine days. I’m gonna- fuck. Dammit.” He lets his hands drop down to his lap. But losing that support makes his head fall back so he’s left looking up at the ceiling. “I’m getting married in nine days.” His throat makes a weird little sound. “I’m getting married. By the Angel, I’m marrying Magnus. I’m marrying Magnus Bane-”

“Whoa!” Jace reaches over and slaps Alec upside the head.

It’s fucking rude… but it’s enough to tip his head back down to a normal angle. So that’s something.

“Seriously dude,” Jace says, and it’s weirdly… stern. Severe. Mean? “If I can’t talk about you, you definitely can’t talk about Magnus.” He shakes his head. “That’s not ‘Three Beers’ conversation. That’s, like, ‘Blackout Drunk; There’s No Alcohol Left’ conversation.”

Alec frowns.

That’s not fair.

He realizes it’s petty, but… fuck it.

He smacks Jace upside the head. Lightly. Just to make it even.

Jace looks absolutely outraged, and shoves his elbow into Alec’s side.

Alec aims another kick at his shin, but Jace clearly gets the same idea, and they end up just uselessly smashing their feet together (which is particularly unfair, since Jace’s giant boots are significantly sturdier and more painful than Alec’s pink dress shoes). Jace reaches up, like he’s gonna go for another head smack-

But Alec grabs his wrist before he gets anywhere near him. Which is actually pretty encouraging - his reflexes must not be too fucked up by how much he’s been drinking.

Then again, maybe this just means Jace’s reflexes have been fucked up even more than his.

Jace flails a little bit in his grip, shifting on his stool. But Alec pulls his arm down, and does not let him get in any more hits. “The fuck is this?” He tries to sound composed, but his voice is a bit squeakier than he’d like. “It’s my bachelor party, and my own damn parabatai just wants to fucking fight me.” He lets go and gently smacks Jace’s shoulder. “Ridiculous.”

Jace smacks his arm right back, but now he’s laughing. “C’mon, it’s been years since we’ve kicked the shit out of each other. I’m just missing the good ol’ days.”

“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘training ’,” Alec scoffs, trying (and failing) to repress a smile. “And since neither of us live at the Institute anymore, it kinda makes sense. I mean, if you want to come over to the loft just to fight me, I guess that’s fine-”

Jace laughs again, but louder this time - and slightly more sarcastic. “Yeah, ‘cause I definitely want to beat up a stay-at-home dad right in front of his kids. I’m sure they’d love that.”

Alec starts to stutter out a protest at the implication that Jace would automatically beat him-

But he stops himself.

Because there’s something else he wants to protest more.

“I actually prefer the term ‘Househusband’ now.” And…

Fuck.

Just saying it gives him these stupid fucking butterflies flying around in his stupid fucking chest and heating up his stupid fucking face.

And in case that wasn’t enough, he also grins like an idiot.

Jace hums, like one little laugh. “Nah, I’m not saying that yet. Not for nine more days.”

Alec giggles, because what else can he do?

Jace finally goes back to drinking his beer. Alec considers getting another drink, but he figures it’s not a terrible idea to give himself a break and at least wait a few minutes. After all, it’s not even midnight yet. There’s still a lot of night ahead of them.

They’re quiet for a few moments. It’s the first time they’ve had any length of silence in a couple of hours, so it’s actually pretty nice. Alec swallows, and realizes that his throat is actually getting tired from talking this much, this loudly, this long.

It’s not like he and Jace don’t see each other often. They do. But it’s been a long damn time since they got to just… talk. Hang out. Without any other purpose. Without some sort of important business that needs handling. Without Alec having to be constantly chasing down two kids. Nothing else. Just Alec and Jace. Just like it used to be.

He’d forgotten how nice it is.

And, yeah… the kinda-drunk buzz certainly isn’t detracting from the niceness.

Alec takes a deep breath, and somehow feels it spin around in his head. And the weird feeling is enough to make him giggle at his own tipsiness. He hasn’t really been able to drink for quite a while. Not with the explicit intention of getting drunk, anyway. It’s been long enough that it actually feels a little unfamiliar. But in a nice way. Like… rediscovery. Rediscovering the fuzzy butterflies, and the warm face, and the stupid idiot giggling.

And just thinking about giggling makes him giggle again.

He rests his arms on the bar, since it’s taking too much energy to keep himself upright otherwise.

And with nothing else for his hands to do, it only takes a few seconds for him to start fiddling with his rings.

It’s funny - for those first couple of years, Alec always wondered why Magnus would twist and tug at all of his rings for seemingly no reason, seemingly all the time. But then Alec got a ring of his own and he hasn’t stopped messing with it since.

And it only got worse when he got the second ring.

They’re both on the same finger, which is admittedly a little strange. But it seemed like the only logical thing to do. He’s been wearing the first one for five years now. Ever since they’d gotten back from their trip to Idris, where they’d arrived as boyfriends with only a cat to worry about, and returned as fiances with a child. They’d gotten rings for each other almost immediately. And now, Alec can’t stand to have his left ring finger be bare.

And six months ago, when the Clave had made their official ruling, and Alec had proposed to Magnus all over again, it had meant new rings. Alec had gotten one for Magnus purely as a gesture, because it’s not like their engagement hadn’t been valid before that. It’s not like the first ring wasn’t good enough. He’d just wanted the gesture to be complete. Proposing again, exactly the way he'd wanted to the first time. And, this time, knowing that it was actually going to happen. Now. Not as a far-off hope.

(Alec had spent most of that day trying to convince Magnus to get married that same night, because he was so fucking done with waiting that he couldn’t make himself care about anything else. He’s still grateful that Magnus had remained so frustratingly level-headed and insisted that they’d both spent all those years wanting a much bigger, nicer wedding than they could plan in three hours.)

Which had left them with two engagement rings each. Alec honestly doesn’t know what he’s going to do when he gets an actual wedding ring too. Maybe he’ll have to spread them out to his other fingers. Or maybe he’ll get a chain for the engagement rings. Wear them as a necklace.

Hm. That’s…

Yeah. That’s a pretty good idea. He likes that.

“Stop thinking so loud.”

Alec blinks a few times. His eyelids are heavy. “Hm?”

Jace is doing that weird face that somehow looks halfway between a smirk and a frown. “You’ve got a stupid smile, you won’t stop touching your rings, and you’ve been giggling under your breath for like, two solid minutes.” He quirks his head to the side. “It’s fucking disgusting.

Alec wants to argue, or smack him again, or something.

But that all sounds like too much fucking work. And work sounds fucking awful.

So he deflects instead. “Y’gonna buy me another drink or what?”

Jace laughs. “Yeah, ‘cause getting you drunk will make you less giggly and annoying.”

“Says the guy who’s practically sitting in my lap,” Alec snarks right back, glancing down at the distinct lack of personal space between them. “You’re like a cuddly little leech.”

Jace sniffs. “Well if you’re gonna be like that, you can pay for your own damn drinks.”

Alec elbows him in the side. Lightly.

Jace makes a quietly angry noise, but doesn’t retaliate, or move away. So that’s basically a stalemate.

They’re quiet again as Jace finishes his beer and Alec stares at his empty glass with increasing levels of jealousy. “Seriously, Jace. Are you gonna make me order my next drink by myself?” He wrinkles his nose. “I think that’d be a huge failure of your Best Man duties.”

“I’ll get you another drink,” Jace says placatingly, somehow managing to worm his way even further into Alec’s space. “If you say my bachelor party is better than Izzy’s.”

“I’ve already said that!”

“To me. Now you have to tell Izzy. Text her.”

Alec turns to look at him because he can’t be serious-

Nope.

With that face, he’s completely serious.

Jace shrugs, like Alec is the one who’s being unreasonable. “It’s a simple text. It’ll take two seconds. Say this is a better party and you love me more than her.”

Alec doesn’t know why he chooses this particular moment to indulge his stubborn side… but whatever the reason is, he puts his metaphorical foot down. “Fine. I’ll order my own drink.”

“Then you’re paying for it too.”

“Oh come on!”

But Jace’s face is still just as serious.

Alec stares him down for a few moments, working his jaw.

Jace stares right back.

Alec grimaces, sighs out his nose, and rolls his eyes. “I fucking hate you.” He reaches into the back pocket of his jeans to get his phone. “Both of you. You’re adults. This competitive bullshit should have died out a decade ago.” He types out the message, sends it, and holds up the phone for Jace to read it.

jace’s party is so much better than yours and he’s a wonderful brother and i love him more than you

Jace laughs triumphantly and smacks his hand down on the bar. And he looks around, trying to find the bartender.

Alec quickly sends another message while Jace isn’t looking.

(lies. sent under duress, jace holding my drinks hostage. please forgive me)

 

 

Chapter Text

Luke and Jocelyn’s wedding is pretty great.

Which is good, since things before the wedding are less-than-spectacular for Alec.

Getting dressed is weirdly… difficult. Putting on the formal clothes, knowing he’s going to a wedding. And even though it’s not the same, and it’s a black suit, and there’s no trace of gold, and everything is so different, it still feels… uncomfortably familiar.

It’s a different day. A different suit. A different wedding.

But tucking a white shirt into his pants, and carefully folding a stiff collar down over his tie, and slipping into a jacket that feels so constricting even though it fits just fine…

This wedding is completely different. But getting dressed for it brings back the exact same anxiety, doubt, and sickening dread as his-

Well. He doesn’t like thinking of it as ‘his’ wedding. ‘The’ wedding, maybe. The wedding that wasn’t.

It’s different. It’s all different now.

It’s what he tells himself. Repeatedly. All afternoon. When he gets dressed. When he makes sure his hair looks acceptable. When Isabelle drags him into her bedroom to re-do his hair and re-tie his tie, because apparently he can’t do anything right.

It’s all different now.

It’s a different wedding. Between two people who love each other. Two people who want to get married. He doesn’t even have to think about what he’d almost done, because this is so fucking different. This wedding is nothing like that wedding.

He starts to grasp that a little better when they actually get to the venue. It’s not at the Institute. It’s outside, under the fanciest goddamn tent Alec’s ever seen. And it’s set up with tables, not rows of chairs. Everything looks soft and warm and subtle. The Institute had been so formal and imposing and stifling and terrifying. This is… this is nice.

He’s not sure why he’s there. Realizing the intensity of the seating arrangements and seeing all the little name cards with table numbers on them… he’s completely fucking lost. He doesn’t know how he even got invited. He’s always just been… vaguely aware that he’s supposed to be here. Did Luke invite Magnus, and Alec is his plus one? Did Jocelyn invite him because he’s friends with Clary? Did he get invited at all? Maybe he just assumed he was invited because everyone else has been talking about it for so long. Maybe he’s not actually supposed to be here.

Things get easier once he figures out where he’s supposed to sit (next to Isabelle, which he really should have been able to guess), and they wander in to find their table-

Magnus is already there.

And Alec can breathe again.

It’s easier to breathe around him. It’s always been that way. Alec feels his shoulders relax a little. The panic clawing at his chest disappears.

Because Magnus is here, and he’s smiling. And if he’s smiling at him, Alec must be doing something right.

It’s kinda late for a wedding - at least, as far as Alec can tell, since he doesn’t actually know a damn thing about what’s ‘normal’ for a wedding. Alec’s pretty sure that the odd time is for Simon’s benefit (he and Clary are basically the only people in the wedding party). But the post-sunset setting also means that when Alec glances at the table across the aisle from them, he sees Raphael Santiago.

But that's… not…

That can’t be… right. Can it? Alec doesn’t have any reason to think that the relationship between the vampires and the werewolves has suddenly improved at all. But for some reason, the head of the New York vampire clan is casually sipping a glass of wine at a werewolf’s wedding. It doesn’t make any sense.

Unless.

Alec presses his lips together.

Unless it has anything to do with the fact that Simon is walking over to Raphael’s table. Simon has been spending a lot of time with Raphael lately.

Simon has also been spending a lot of time with Isabelle.

Which means Isabelle has been spending some time with Raphael.

Honestly, Alec doesn’t have a fucking clue about what’s going on there. And frankly, he doesn’t have much interest in finding out, seeing as it involves his baby sister, and he knows that if he asks about it she’ll give him a much more descriptive answer than he could survive hearing.

A few minutes later, Simon goes back to his seat next to Clary, right at the front. Mangus and Izzy spend a bit of time exchanging very thorough and detailed compliments about each other’s outfits. Jace eventually shows up, right as everything is settling into that instinctive hush that happens in any crowd when something’s about to get started. Everyone’s here. It’s a beautiful night, and a beautiful space. There’s a palpable buzz of excitement. A good thing is happening, and it’s obvious that people are happy about it.

Music starts playing, and then it all blurs together.

It’s a lovely ceremony. Probably. Alec doesn’t know what constitutes a lovely wedding. But since no one bursts in right before the vows, and neither of the people getting married back out at the last second, it’s definitely the best wedding Alec’s ever seen.

It’s not really… traditional. Or, it’s a weird blend of traditions. Luke and Jocelyn grew up in nephilim society, with those ideas and expectations, but neither of them are Shadowhunters anymore (Jocelyn may still be willing to fight, but from what Clary’s been saying, she has no interest in re-joining this world. And Alec thinks that’s a pretty understandable decision, particularly now that she’s marrying a downworlder, something that wouldn’t even be legal for a Shadowhunter). So while a lot of the details look familiar, none of the rituals are there. No runes, no Silent Brothers, nothing complicated or intricate. Just spoken vows, and rings. It’s…

It’s nice. Alec watches the ceremony, and it’s nice.

Alec watches the ceremony…

And he pays attention. He really does. It’s not long, or drawn-out. It’s short. Simple. And he’s focused on it.

He pays attention. Because it’s nice. How happy they look. The way they’re looking at each other, the whole time, minute after minute, never looking away. The excitement, and the… relief, maybe? Gratitude? That this is finally happening? Maybe even a bit of disbelief. They’re both so sure, and calm, and steady. Clary’s been making a poor attempt to choke back tears since she started walking down the aisle, and even Simon looks a bit misty (do vampires cry blood, or is that just particularly dramatic mundane lore? It’d certainly ruin the mood), but Luke and Jocelyn are both so…

Certain.

Alec glances around. There’s so many people here. It might be on the small side for something like a wedding, but still. It’s a crowd. All these people who know them. Family, friends, even people like Alec - who’s just Jocelyn’s daughter’s friend, and Luke’s work acquaintance. There are so many people, and the two of them are up there, on display, with this whole crowd focused on nothing but them.

And they’re still so certain. Using words like ‘love’ and ‘always’ and making such grand, beautiful promises to each other. With everyone watching. With everyone knowing. And…

And Alec becomes so aware of Magnus’s hand, resting warm on his thigh. His thumb rubbing in small circles every now and then. A small, soft spark of magic, like a little secret between them.

Alec’s paying attention the wedding. He is. He’s definitely paying attention to the ceremony, to Jocelyn and Luke. He’s definitely not imagining what it would be like to be the one standing up there. Well, technically, he knows what it’s like to be up there. But now he’s picturing it differently. He’s picturing standing in front of a crowd like this, saying these things, making these vows-

With Magnus.

Letting everyone know, making sure everyone knows exactly how much he loves Magnus. Getting to say it in front of everyone, so no one could possibly have any doubts. Getting to tell Magnus that he’s not gonna stop loving him, getting to promise to be with him for the rest of his life. The ritual and the symbols and the promises and the certainty-

Magnus’s hand moves. Just shifts a tiny bit, fingers curling for a moment before splaying out again.

Alec takes a sharp breath. He blinks. The wedding comes back into focus.

Jocelyn and Luke’s wedding. That’s who’s up there. That’s who’s doing this.

What-

What the fuck?

What the fuck was that?

Alec was just…

No.

He wasn’t.

He absolutely wasn’t.

He absolutely was not just picturing marrying Magnus.

He was not just thinking that he wants to marry the man that he’s been dating for five months.

Because that’s insane. That’s fucking insane. Even for Shadowhunters (who tend to adhere to the policy of ‘marry first, ask questions later’), that’s fucking insane. And if it’s fucking insane for a Shadowhunter to think that…

Then thinking it about someone like Magnus is… Alec doesn’t even have words for how stupid it is. Because for Magnus, not only has it been a measly five months - which is nothing to him - it’s been five months with Alec. By now, Magnus must have a very deep understanding of the fact that he can…

Fuck. He can do so much better.

Just five months. Less than half a year. With a stuttering, anxious, useless little Shadowhunter who’s literally never been even remotely good enough for him.

And, even more than that…

Magnus has never been married. Alec knows he’s had relationships that lasted decades. He’s pretty sure at least one lasted an entire mortal lifetime. That’s not… small. That’s not a casual, ‘just dating’ type of relationship. He’s spent decades loving the same person.

And he’s never married anyone.

Alec’s heard about some of these people. The good ones. The ones Magnus loved so much, he still talks about them with so much fondness, even after hundreds of years. And if he never wanted to marry any of them, then…

What chance does Alec have?

Mercifully, the end of the ceremony is enough to make Alec’s brain shut the fuck up for a few minutes. Because then it’s basically an attack of a celebration. The wedding party disappears for a while, but in their absence, there’s drinks and appetizers (‘hors d’oeuvres’ Magnus corrects for the dozenth time, at which point Alec starts calling everything ‘little snackies’ just to be difficult), and some quiet music starts up, and everyone starts… mingling.

Alec doesn’t do well with mingling.

Luckily, Jace doesn’t do well with mingling either. So they end up staying rooted to their seats while everyone else disappears into a sea of small talk.

Everything keeps getting faster and faster. The ceremony seemed to go by quickly enough, but now everything’s basically speeding into a blur. The wedding party comes back, there’s food and cake, the focus switches to the big dance floor at the back of the tent, Luke and Jocelyn dance together, then Luke dances with Clary and Jocelyn dances with Simon-

And then it all fucking explodes.

It didn’t really seem like a rowdy crowd, but once the ‘wedding’ dances are over and everyone is welcomed onto the dance floor and a song with an obnoxious bass line gets blasted into the tent… it’s chaos.

Well, that's an exaggeration. But still. As far as Alec is concerned, this basically just turned from a nice dinner into a nightclub.

Magnus has taken Alec out to a club before. And apparently he’d been satisfied by the amount of time he’d spent trying to drag Alec onto the dance floor (to no avail), because now he doesn’t even ask. He just gives Alec a soft, warm kiss on the cheek, and disappears into the dancing crowd with Isabelle on his arm. Alec’s oddly… grateful. That it’s not a problem. That it’s not a ‘thing’. Magnus wants to dance, Alec doesn’t, and that’s fine.

The reception continues. Alec wanders around until he finds another glass of champagne. He talks to people as they take their breaks from dancing. Jace, then Izzy, then Jace and Clary, then Luke (which goes surprisingly well, considering that Luke and Alec haven’t really had many non- business talks before, and any conversation is basically a game of Russian Roulette for Alec. But Luke is easy to talk to, and he’s unsurprisingly in a pretty great mood. His cool, happy brand of relaxation ends up being infectious), then Magnus, and…

Hm. It’s nice to have a few moments alone with Magnus. They haven’t had that yet tonight. Well, they’re really not ‘alone’, but they’re the only ones at the table, so that still counts.

Of course, just his fucking luck, it barely lasts two minutes before Jace and Izzy and Clary and Simon all decide to swoop in and fill up the rest of the seats around their table. And the nice moment is thoroughly obliterated.

It’s probably two or three songs later when Alec hears it. He’s been vaguely paying attention to the music over whatever conversation is happening around him, and this time, he hears it. It takes a second, but eventually…

One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three…

Finally.

Alec looks over to Magnus.

And then to the dance floor.

And he raises his eyebrows.

There’s a brief, wonderful moment where Magnus’s eyes light up, and Alec can swear he sees the tiniest hint of gold in them-

But then it’s gone. And Magnus replaces his smile with a look of exaggerated confusion. “Hm?”

Oh, come on.

Alec grits his teeth, trying to make it clear that he knows what Magnus is doing. And he nods toward the dance floor, one little jerky movement of his head, trying not to look like too much of an idiot.

Magnus just frowns, and somehow manages to look even more confused and less sincere. “Yes? Do you need something, Alec?”

For fuck’s sake.

Magnus is lucky that Alec has been waiting for this, because otherwise he would not give in to such petty teasing.

But he has been waiting for this. He wants this. And he clearly has no other choice.

So he stands up, doing his best to ignore how awkwardly loud his chair sounds against the floor. He pointedly refuses to look at anyone else at the table as he holds out his hand to Magnus.

“May I have this dance?”

He says it with the perfect blend of eagerness and bitter sarcasm.

Magnus smirks, far too pleased with himself, but Alec feels a spark when their hands touch. “What a gentleman,” Magnus says, with just a hint of teasing.

Even though Alec is doing his best to not look at anyone else, he still manages to catch a brief glimpse of Jace and Isabelle as he walks with Magnus to the dance floor. And their expressions of obvious shock and disbelief are actually… kinda nice.

And it’s even better for Alec, knowing how stunned they must look when Alec finds them a spot on the floor, and starts waltzing.

Because he knows what he’s doing. He’s dancing. He’s actually, really doing an actual, real dance. In public. In front of people. And - probably just as surprising for him as it is for them - he’s good at it.

Well, maybe not ‘good’. But he doesn’t fuck it up, which is good enough for him.

“Darling.”

Alec looks up. “Wh-”

Oh.

He’s been staring at his own feet. He’s probably supposed to be looking at Magnus instead.

But looking at Magnus right now is…

Alec smiles.

It’s unusual.

Magnus is wearing heels tonight. Alec knows that he owns a few pairs, but he’s never actually seen him wear them before. These aren’t even very tall ones, but still, they’re enough.

Enough to make them the exact same height.

It’s not like it’s that big of a difference. But the slight change is enough to surprise him every time he sees it. Because Magnus is just… right there. Not like he isn’t there usually, but now he’s…

Magnus’s lips are so goddamn close to his. Without having to tilt their heads at all. Without having to do anything. Especially now, with Magnus’s hand in his, and their arms slowly slipping further and further down each other’s backs, and their lips so close…

“My eyes are up here, Alexander.”

Fuck.

How long has he been staring at Magnus’s mouth?

“Right. There- It was ju- um. Right.” Alec clears his throat.

Magnus laughs, and gives Alec’s hand a little squeeze.

It’s different, doing this on a crowded dance floor instead of an empty loft. When Magnus was teaching him, they moved in huge, sweeping patterns. If they did that here they’d probably kill someone. So it’s smaller. They still spin a bit, but it feels much more contained.

Alec is also painfully aware that this isn’t a goddamn ballroom. This isn’t classical music. It’s a pop song. Everyone else on the floor is paired off and doing that swaying, barely-moving thing.

And Alec and Magnus are off to the side waltzing.

But he… doesn’t care.

Actually, he…

He likes it. It’s nice.

He loves it.

Magnus is so close to him. He has Magnus in his arms and they’re moving together and Magnus looks so beautiful in his fancy blue suit (if it’s actually a suit? There are a lot of… pieces involved that Alec’s never seen on a suit before) and they’re looking at each other and they’re just… together.

In front of all these people.

Not even that. It’s not just people, it’s people they know. It’s not a restaurant or a theatre or a park or a club where they’re surrounded by strangers. Where Alec doesn’t have to worry about who specifically is seeing them together, because no one who sees them knows who he is.

This is… everyone. His siblings, his friends, Magnus’s friends. Between the two of them, they probably know literally every person here. People who know them are seeing them dance together.

And Alec loves it. He doesn’t even know why.

Well, maybe he has an idea. Maybe it has something to do with how Magnus is moving in closer to him, wrapping his arm even tighter around Alec’s waist. And he’s smiling. He’s smiling at Alec.

And everyone else can see that.

It’s like… there are witnesses. Alec almost laughs at how stupid that thought is, but. It’s true. Alec still doesn’t understand this, most of the time. He has no idea why someone like Magnus would want someone like him. And even if dancing in front of all these people doesn’t help him understand any better, it’s still… proof. Alec’s not crazy. He’s not imagining this. He’s not pretending that Magnus wants him.

Magnus wants him.

Magnus does want him.

And now, all these people are seeing that.

Magnus spins them around once, a tight little circle that’s just twirly enough to make Alec laugh. The song goes on, probably for a few more minutes. And they keep dancing. They don’t really say anything. They’re just looking at each other. Alec tries to think of any other time in his life that he’s been able to look at someone this long, and not feel awkward. Not want to look away. Never want to look away.

Alec barely notices the song wind down to a finish. He’s vaguely aware that it’s fading out, but his feet don’t get the memo. He just keeps on waltzing, right into the first few notes of the next song-

Which is loud and upbeat and not at all something that can be waltzed to.

Alec starts to pull back, move away, get the fuck out of there as everyone around them starts transitioning back into the jumpy, grindy kind of dancing - because he definitely can’t be in the middle of that.

But Magnus doesn’t let go. He keeps his arm exactly where it is, keeps his fingers wrapped tight around Alec’s hand. Alec panics for a second, not wanting to have the ‘no club dancing’ conversation again…

Magnus pulls him in, even closer than they were before. Alec’s reminded again of their lack of height difference as Magnus presses his cheek against Alec’s. Tucks their faces together. And keeps holding him. Swaying a bit, even though it doesn’t match the beat of the music.

Everything in Alec’s body turns to mush. It’s instantaneous. It’s sad, really. They’re barely even moving, and Alec can’t catch his fucking breath.

And it’s silly. It’s almost kinda stupid, even. It was strange enough for them to be in the corner waltzing to a pop song. Now they’re in the corner slow-dancing to a fast song, completely ignoring the beat, completely ignoring everyone else dancing around them. By the Angel, it’s silly. But in a… nice way. A cheesy way. It’s sweet, and romantic, and everyone else can fuck off so they can have their moment.

Magnus moves his face a bit, so his cheek rubs against Alec’s. It’s a tiny movement.

And it’s too much. Alec was already hanging on by a thread. This is way more than he can handle. They’re together and Magnus looks so beautiful and they’re in front of all these people and they just watched a wedding and now they’re dancing and that was all too much to begin with but now Magnus is nuzzling against his face and making a happy little sound in the back of his throat and it’s too much Alec is suffocating like this.

Alec tilts his chin, just enough to bring his mouth a little closer to Magnus’s ear. “I love you.”

And saying it feels like relief. He’s not as overwhelmed anymore.

Magnus breathes in, and it’s a sharp sound against Alec’s cheek. His hand tightens a little in Alec’s grip.

Alec pulls away. Not far enough to put any distance between them, but enough for him to see Magnus’s face. Because he’s pretty sure that Magnus-

Yeah. He’s got that look. Eyes a little wide, lips barely parted, eyebrows tilted the tiniest bit.

Surprised.

He looks surprised.

It’s subtler than it was when Alec first said it last week (that first time, Magnus had actually looked stunned), but it’s still there. It’s been there every single time Alec has said it.

And it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make any fucking sense for Magnus to look like this, and all Alec wants to do is make it stop. To tell Magnus how much he loves him, as many times as he needs to, for as long as he needs to, until Magnus stops looking surprised to hear it.

It’s like there’s a pull in Alec’s chest. Something he couldn’t fight even if he wanted to - though he absolutely doesn’t. It’s insistent. Like he doesn’t have a choice. He needs to kiss Magnus. Right now. It’s urgent. Necessary. It feels like he might explode if he doesn’t.

And since they’re already so close, it’s easy. Alec doesn’t have to tilt his face down at all. Just a little bit to one side.

Magnus makes a noise against Alec’s lips. Maybe there’s a bit of that same surprise in it, but mostly, he sounds happy. He gently disentangles their hands, and brings his up to rest on Alec’s neck. His fingers trail up into Alec’s hair. And for a few moments, it’s perfect. But then…  

Alec was kinda hoping they’d get a cliched ‘everything else in the room fades away’ sort of moment. But their romantic luck has apparently run out. Because he’s immensely aware of the loud music, the moving noises of the crowd dancing around them, and the-

Huh.

The tinge of deja vu.

Because here they are, all dressed up, kissing in front of all these people, at a wedding.

It’s different. It’s very different. It’s a reception for someone else’s wedding. They’re not the focus. He doubts anyone is even looking at them.

But… still. It’s similar enough.

To be weird.

There’s some nostalgia to it? Maybe? Recreating the scenario of their first kiss (to an extent), months later, aware of how much… further they are now. But, more than that…

Yeah. It’s weird.

Alec suddenly feels like all eyes are on them. To make things plummet from ‘weird’ to ‘horrible’, he gets the sickening feeling that his parents are a few feet away, watching him, like they were the first time (even though they’re not here - they weren’t invited, and they’ve made it clear that they wouldn’t have come even if they were). Because only Alec Lightwood is awkward enough to initiate a big, romantic first kiss with his parents staring at him the whole time.

And now Alec feels like an asshole for ruining such a nice moment by thinking about this sort of bullshit, right in the middle of a really nice kiss, what the fucking fuck is his problem?

Magnus’s lips move a bit. But not like they’re supposed to. Not like he’s trying to deepen the kiss or anything. It’s like he’s-

Smiling.

Alec can feel tension gather in Magnus’s shoulders. He’s smiling against Alec’s lips, but it feels like he’s fighting it. Like he’s trying not to laugh.

Okay, so maybe Alec’s not the only one feeling the weirdness.

Magnus breaks away, ducking his head so their foreheads are pressed together. “Sorry,” he sputters out between little giggles, “it’s just-”

“Yeah,” Alec smiles, “I know.”

Magnus just laughs harder, still trying to hide his face, almost like he’s embarrassed. “At least this time, you waited until after the actual ceremony.” His hand slips down to Alec’s shoulder. “Though I suppose that might be a bit disappointing for you. It’s much less dramatic like this-” he laughs again, but fights so hard against it that he-

He actually snorts a little.

Fuck.

It’s so cute, Alec wants to die.

“Yeah, go ahead, make fun of my kissing.” Alec finally lets go of Magnus, and takes a teasingly small step backward. “I’m gonna go hang out with people who are nice to me.” He takes another step, turning back toward the tables.

“No! No no no, my love, darling, ” Magnus grabs his hand before he can get away and pulls him back, still choking on giggles. “Just wait.”

And he calms down. Still with a wide smile, but contained to just a few chuckles.

He looks at Alec’s face. So intently that it’s almost enough to make Alec blush. He keeps his eyes locked on Alec’s lips. And after a moment, there’s a clear, bright flash of gold.

Alec swallows. “What?”

Magnus’s tongue peeks out for a second, touching his lower lip before disappearing again. “There’s…” He lifts a hand, and cradles it against Alec’s jaw. And slowly…

By the Angel.

Magnus brushes his thumb across Alec’s lips. So slowly. So gently. With a spark of warmth under his skin. Magic.

He might as well have dropped a lit match right into Alec’s gut.

And it takes every single ounce of restraint Alec has to keep himself from parting his lips and taking Magnus’s thumb into his mouth.

Because they’re not alone. They’re in public. They’re right in the middle of a crowd. They’re surrounded by all these people and Alec absolutely cannot start sucking on his boyfriend’s fingers right in front of everyone. He can’t. He can’t. He can’t but fucking hell it’s so goddamn tempting-

Magnus takes his hand away. And he flicks it, like he’s shaking off water. But what comes off instead is one bright blue spark.

And Magnus just smiles. Calmly. Politely. Like nothing happened. “Gloss,” he says plainly, like that’s an adequate explanation-

Oh. Duh.

Alec must have gotten some of Magnus’s lipgloss on his mouth when he kissed him. He hadn’t even noticed. “Right.” Magnus didn’t want him to walk around for the rest of the night with secondhand gloss on his lips. Alec takes a breath to thank him, but…

He can’t. Because… well, would that have… been so bad? Wearing a bit of lipgloss? Having something like that, something pretty, right on his lips, in front of all these people-

Alec clears his throat.

“Thanks.”

And it’s done. The moment is broken. Whatever miniature two-person world they’d just had between them is replaced with the giant wedding, and they can’t ignore it anymore.

It’s… it’s expected. Things pick up again. Back into a party. It’s a party.

The moment they get back to the table, Isabelle grabs Alec, like she’s staking a claim on him. And she drags him right back to the dance floor, because “Honestly, Alec, you can’t suddenly reveal that you know how to dance and not dance with your baby sister!”

(And Alec’s not sure he’s ever felt a burst of pride quite as satisfying as when Izzy teasingly says “You know, I don’t mind the waltz, but I’ve always preferred the foxtrot.” And he gets to say “Alright. I can do that one too.”)

He gets through two and a half songs with Izzy before she’ll let him go back to the table - and even then, Alec’s pretty sure she only lets him go because Simon shows up to take his place.

Alec ends up wandering a bit after that. Sipping another glass of champagne. Talking to people - actually talking to people, what the fuck is with that? Having… fun. Actually having fun at this big-ass party.

He loses Magnus in the hubbub for a while. It’s probably half an hour later when he finally sees him again.

He’s sitting at a table next to Raphael. Their chairs are turned out so they’re facing the dance floor. And they’re…

Alec’s face twists up.

Magnus and Raphael are sitting next to each other, and while they’re clearly talking to each other, they’re not actually acknowledging each other at all. They’re each holding a glass of wine (or at least Magnus is, because now that he thinks about it- fucking hell. Duh. Alec suddenly gets slapped in the face with the realization that this entire night, Raphael’s glass hasn’t contained wine at all). Their posture is identical - they’re even crossing their legs the same way. They’re just sitting there, sipping their drinks, looking out at everyone else while they talk. They look-

They look like those two old muppets who sit in the back of theatres and make fun of everyone. It’s kind of unsettling.

The wedding keeps going. And going. And going. How long are weddings supposed to last? It’s probably just because it didn’t start until after sundown, but it really feels like weddings aren’t supposed to go this late.

It’s fun, though. It’s not like Alec’s upset that he’s still there, hour after hour. It’s just…

He’s probably imagining it.

But by the end of the night, it really feels like he and Magnus are pretty much a heartbeat away from tearing each other’s clothes off.

He’s not sure what it is. If it’s the fact that they both look nice for once (instead of Magnus looking gorgeous and Alec looking like he slept in a dumpster). Or the leftover romantic high of dancing together in front of everyone. Or Magnus’s extra glasses of wine making him extra friendly. Or if it’s some sort of inherent… vibe, because they’re at a wedding. The whole point of this whole fucking night is romance and love and being all mushy about it. Maybe it’s just the atmosphere.

But whatever it is, it’s working. It’s working very well.

It’s not like it’s horrible. They’re not super obvious about it - at least, Alec hopes they’re not. It’s just a few glances that last a little too long. It’s the way Magnus’s hand ends up on Alec’s thigh every single time they get within an inch of each other. It’s the fact that Alec can’t stop blushing, even when nothing’s happening, and his tongue keeps darting across his lips, like he can still taste Magnus’s lipgloss, even though he can’t. It’s the way that Magnus keeps winking at him when no one else is looking, like they’re strangers flirting in a bar.

It’s agony.

And Alec can only assume that it’s the reason why, when they finally get back to Magnus’s loft, they only get as far as kicking off their shoes before Magnus practically slams him up against the nearest pillar.

It’s such a relief.

And that-

That’s something. Isn’t it? Having his boyfriend grab him by the lapels and immediately start kissing him stupid, the first thing Alec feels is relief. All of the blood in his body instantly drops downward, and his heart speeds up like he’s running a marathon, but he just feels…

Calm.

Calmer than he’s felt all night.

They’ve been building up to this for a while - hell, they’ve been building up to this since the damn wedding started - and it doesn’t seem like either of them are very interested in drawing it out any more. It’s so sudden, like a switch being flicked. One moment, they’re walking through the door, taking off their shoes, settling in. And the next, it’s… everything. Lips, teeth, hands, everywhere at once. Magnus fumbles with the buttons on Alec’s jacket until he can finally push it open and slide his hands around to Alec’s back. Alec wants to reciprocate and make some sort of attempt at getting Magnus out of his clothes…

But Magnus’s clothes are so fucking complicated that Alec doesn’t even know where to start. There’s all these buttons and a scarf-thing in a fancy knot around his neck and seemingly infinite layers of different kinds of cloth and just so many fucking buttons, why are there so many buttons? He can’t even tell which ones are functional.

Magnus starts loosening Alec’s tie, which effectively distracts him from Magnus’s impossible-to-remove outfit, because godfuckingdammit Alec wants to get out of this suit. He’s been miserable in it all night. Yeah, he wants to get Magnus naked as quickly as possible, but he’s willing to delay it a bit if it means taking off his own clothes so he can stop feeling like he wants to crawl out of his skin.

It seems as though Magnus has different priorities than Alec. Because once he loosens Alec’s tie and undoes the first two buttons on Alec’s shirt, he stops. And gives all his attention back to kissing him. Like he-

He was just making sure Alec can breathe. That he’s comfortable.

Alec whimpers into Magnus’s mouth, and lets himself pretend it’s just because of the kiss.

Magnus parts his lips, and Alec takes the hint. He spares a moment to run his tongue across Magnus’s lower lip (and he tells himself that it has nothing to do with the little trace of lipgloss that’s left there), then licks deep into his mouth, and-

He smiles.

Alec hates red wine. He always has. He doesn’t understand how anyone can enjoy it enough to drink an entire glass. He hates it.

But, fuck, he loves the taste of it in Magnus’s mouth.

Whiskey, gin, and red wine. All the types of alcohol that Alec absolutely refuses to drink in any capacity. All the flavors he hates tasting in a drink, he loves tasting on Magnus’s tongue.

After a few seconds, Magnus pulls back, just a little bit. It’s subtle enough that Alec assumes he’s only trying to find a different angle, or to catch his breath for a moment. That he’ll be kissing Alec again in a second or two.

But then he pulls away a little further. Enough to actually put some space between their faces - though there’s still a distinct lack of space between the rest of their bodies.

And he… looks. At Alec. One of his hands is on Alec’s chest. And he brings the other up to Alec’s face. Brushes the hair off of Alec’s forehead. Rubs his thumb along Alec’s cheekbone. Trails his fingers down Alec’s jaw. Brings them up toward Alec’s lips, but never quite gets there…

And they’re still looking at each other.

Alec can feel his heartbeat in every inch of his body. He holds Magnus’s gaze, watches the flickers of gold get longer and longer until the glamour fades away altogether. Alec smiles, because Magnus’s eyes are sparkling even brighter than the glitter in his eyeshadow.

Magnus’s hand keeps wandering over Alec’s face. Slow. And warm. And he keeps his eyes locked on Alec’s.

And he gets that smile. That little one that Alec loves so much.

It’s getting harder to breathe again. Because his heart is beating too damn hard. But it’s not bad. It’s just because he’s… overwhelmed. Magnus is smiling at him, and touching his face. And Alec loves him. He loves him so much. He didn’t think he could…

He didn’t think he could.

Magnus closes his eyes. Starts to move back in.

Alec’s so grateful he thinks he could cry. He didn’t think he could survive seeing Magnus look at him like that any longer.

This kiss is slow. Gentle. 

Alec pulls Magnus as close as he can. Holds him tight.

And Magnus keeps kissing him.

It shouldn’t feel like this. They’re barely doing anything. Alec’s still pressed up against this pillar, which should be uncomfortable. And it’s just a kiss. Compared to the kissing they were doing a few moments ago, this should be nothing.

But Alec doesn’t think he’s ever felt like this. Ever.

This time, when Magnus breaks away, he doesn’t actually go anywhere. He just starts a new trail of kisses, from the corner of Alec’s mouth, to his jaw, to his neck.

Alec tips his head back to give him more room, and tries to breathe. It’s not working very well for him.

Magnus’s lips brush down past Alec’s open collar before he starts moving back up. Up Alec’s throat. He stops, and presses his nose to the spot behind Alec’s ear. He takes a deep breath, and it comes out in a low, shaky sigh. “God, I love you.”

Alec bites his lip, but it doesn’t stop the quiet whine in his throat. He can’t do this. He’s not strong enough. His limbs are getting weaker by the moment and it’s too hard to breathe and his heart isn’t working, but everything about his body shutting down like this just feels right. Even as he’s melting into a puddle, he feels more calm than he’s felt in ages. He opens his mouth to tell Magnus how much he loves him-

He stops.

Because it’s not what he wants to say.

It’s…

Alec smiles, even though Magnus’s face is still tucked against his neck, and he can’t see him.

It shouldn’t be surprising.

And it’s not, really.

All these weeks, hell, all these months that he’s spent worrying. Nervous. Uncertain. Wondering when it would be the right time. Wondering how he’d know.

And now, he just… knows. It’s easy.

It’s always so easy with Magnus.

Alec takes a steady breath.

“I want you to make love to me.”

Magnus tenses.

For a moment, nothing happens. They stay where they are, pressed together, breathing - but just barely.

Magnus breaks the stillness. He moves his face a tiny bit. Takes his mouth away from Alec’s neck. Rests his forehead lightly against the hinge of Alec’s jaw. “You mean-?”

“Yes,” Alec says instantly, because he doesn’t think he could handle hearing Magnus give it any sort of description.

There’s stillness again. And silence.

It’s not exactly what Alec was expecting. He doesn’t really know what he was expecting, but it wasn’t this. This is… nothing.

Magnus’s hands slip down to Alec’s hips. But not in a suggestive way. Not like he’s really trying to touch him at all. Like it’s some sort of placeholder.

“Are you sure?”

That’s-

Shit.

“Yes?” Alec can’t quite keep the question out of his voice. Because he was completely sure. Right up until Magnus asked that. Now he’s not sure of anything. He didn’t think this would be a problem. But maybe…

Maybe there’s a reason Magnus has never brought this up. Shit. Fuck. Shit. This is just what Alec gets for wanting something. “Why? Is there…?” He doesn’t know how to finish. Doesn’t know what he’s supposed to ask.

Magnus pulls his face further away from Alec’s, which-

Dammit. It certainly doesn’t make Alec feel any better.

Magnus looks at him. Really looks at him. His face is serious, but not severe. “You’ve never mentioned this before. I want to make sure.” His expression softens. It gets a little uncertain. “You’re not just saying this because I want to?”

Alec’s mouth opens, but it takes a second to make his voice work. “I didn’t know you want to.”

After a moment, tiny hint of a smile lifts one side of Magnus’s mouth. “I do.”

And…

And that’s it.

Magnus didn’t know Alec wants this.

Alec didn’t know Magnus wants this.

It’s funny. In a ridiculous, stupid sort of way. It’s enough to make Alec want to laugh. He can feel his mouth twist up, but he’s not quite ready to-

“Really?”

Magnus’s smile widens. Brightens. It’s so beautiful it makes Alec’s breath catch. Magnus slowly brings up his hands. Slowly cups Alec’s face between them. “Really.” And he brings their faces so close. So horribly, horribly close. Their noses brush. Their lips are almost touching. Magnus closes his eyes, and whispers, “I want to make love to you, Alexander.”

He’s kissing Alec before Alec has the chance to respond. All Alec can do is moan into Magnus’s mouth, loud and awkward and utterly helpless.

Because this is happening.

Alec’s legs jolt, like his knees are threatening to give out.

Magnus pulls Alec away from the pillar just far enough to loop his arms around his neck. His fingers tangle into Alec’s hair and-

“Ah, Magnus-

He tugs Alec’s hair. Hard, but not enough to be painful. Just enough to distract Alec from everything else he’s feeling for a moment (which is good, because at this rate, with Magnus saying things like that, this could be over before it even starts).

It’s enough to snap Alec out of his shock. He’s no longer stunned by the awareness that this is going to happen.

Because this is happening.

By the Angel.

Alec pushes himself away from the pillar. It makes them both stumble for a second, but Magnus recovers with the usual amount of grace.

And as soon as Alec is secure on his feet again, he reaches down. He bends his knees the tiniest bit, gets his hands on Magnus’s thighs-

Magnus catches on right as Alec starts to lift him. He laughs a little against Alec’s lips as he wraps his legs securely around Alec’s waist. But he doesn’t stop kissing him.

Which ends up being a bit of a problem, as it makes it difficult for Alec to actually see where he’s going as he carries Magnus toward the bedroom.

“Mags, ah-mmrf- Mags, I can’t-”

He keeps trying to twist his face away from Magnus’s far enough to get a clear view of what’s in front of them, but Magnus is flat-out refusing to let Alec take his lips away. Alec settles for giving Magnus a few half-assed kisses while keeping his eyes open and his head turned as far as possible. He knows he’s not putting any effort into reciprocating Magnus’s kissing, so he makes a few extra noises to make up for it. It’s ridiculous. It’s fucking ridiculous.

And it’s fucking hilarious.

By the time Alec is kicking open the bedroom door, they’re both basically just laughing against each other’s mouths.

Alec feels one of Magnus’s hands move against his back, and the room is filled with dim light from the nightstand lamp. It’s a soft, subtle glow, but it’s enough for them to really see each other. It’s perfect.

Magnus is still giggling when he finally gives up on the kisses. But he doesn’t try to move. He seems perfectly content to be hoisted up in Alec’s arms, next to the bed, making no effort to actually get on it. “Shall I?” he asks, a little breathless, giving a pointed glance downward.

Alec knows that offer well by now (and it’s kinda crazy to realize that). He looks down at his clothes. “Please.”

Magnus smirks. “The fast way, or the slow way?”

“Fast. Please.” Alec shakes his head. “I hate this suit, Mags. I’m sorry if you like it, but I fucking hate it. I’ve been miserable in it all night. Please make it go away. All of it.”

Magnus makes a noise of somewhat-exaggerated sympathy as he snaps his fingers.

And Alec’s clothes disappear.

Even though it’s happened plenty of times, it’s still a little… bizarre. The flicker of heat that hits him all over, then vanishes and is instantly replaced by the cold of the air on his exposed skin. It’s like whiplash. But in times like this, it’s very convenient. And Alec loves that Magnus has little shortcuts like this.

He also loves that Magnus knows that when Alec says ‘all of it’, he doesn’t really mean all of it. He still has his boxers. Magnus didn’t take those. Magnus always lets Alec make that decision, and take them off himself. When he’s comfortable enough to do it.

It’s stupid. It’s a stupid hangup.

But Magnus doesn’t care.

So Alec is left in nothing but his ratty boxers. Holding up Magnus, who’s wearing way too much clothing.

And not just in the ‘Alec wants him to be naked’ kind of way. In the ‘literally what is all this clothing and why is there so much of it?’ way. Alec kinda wants to ask Magnus to poof it all away so he doesn’t have to go through the trouble of figuring it out…

But he doesn’t.

Because by now, Alec knows exactly how much Magnus loves having Alec undress him.

Alec may not understand why, but he definitely knows better than to ask for a reason for Magnus’s preferences. Alec’s well aware that sometimes, you just like what you like.

He quickly realizes that in their current position, there’s no fucking way he can get any of Magnus’s clothes off. And Magnus certainly isn’t making any effort to get down.

Well, fine then.

Alec kneels on the corner of the bed, actively trying to ignore the way Magnus keeps kissing and nipping at his ear, because by the Angel, Alec’s gonna send them both toppling to the floor if his knees get any weaker. His legs already feel like they’re roughly the same consistency as jello.

It takes a bit of maneuvering, but Alec manages to get one hand planted firmly on the mattress. And slowly, he lowers Magnus down. Actually, literally lays him out on the bed.

Because they’re about to make love.

There’s something almost… idyllic about it. Laying Magnus down. Stretching out over the length of his body. Looking at him. Nothing else. Just this.

Alec smiles. It’s nice. Nice enough that he almost wants… to laugh. At how nice this is. At how happy he is.

But then he goes to start undressing Magnus-

And the nice mood is killed. Dead.

Where does he even… “How do I…?” He touches the knot in the light blue scarf around Magnus’s neck. But the knot is so goddamn fucking complicated he genuinely can’t tell what it’s doing. It looks like the type of knot a mermaid would use to hog-tie a sailor.

Magnus just smirks up at him, like it’s somehow a matter of pride that his clothes are fancy enough to be a cockblock. “Here.”

He guides Alec through it. Through the artistic knot, through which ones of the dozens of buttons on his jacket are actually keeping it closed, through unlacing the front of the silk undershirt so Alec can tug it off over his head.

It’s far from dignified. Mostly, it’s silly.

But in a way, that’s nice too. Because they’re both laughing.

Alec gathers up the literal pile of upper-half garments and hurls them onto the floor-

They disappear in a flash of blue before they can even hit the carpet. And Alec hears the distinct sound of hangers rustling through the open closet door.

Alec rolls his eyes, because, “Seriously?”

Magnus shrugs one shoulder, and dammit, it shouldn’t be so cute. “No point in letting anything get wrinkled, darling.” He smirks, and snaps his fingers-

And his jewelry disappears. Well, most of it. He leaves his earrings. He almost always does. He only gets rid of the stuff that might get in the way, or get uncomfortable. It’s the one thing he prefers to take off himself (since they’ve wasted enough time with Alec fumbling around tiny clasps with his clumsy fingers, and apparently it’s not worth trying anymore). His necklaces, his bracelets, his watch, and…

And his rings. His rings are gone.

Alec swallows.

He should have expected it, but still…

Magnus doesn’t always take off his rings. Alec feels heat crawl up his neck just at the memory of them, of how they feel when Magnus touches him, little spots of smooth coolness on his chest, his hips, his-

Magnus likes keeping his rings on. The only times he takes them off are when he knows he’s going to be… using his fingers.

Alec closes his eyes, forcing himself through a few deep breaths. They’ve barely even started. He needs to get himself under control. This was his idea, after all. How pathetic would it be for him to ask for this and then not even be able to handle it?

Besides, this is still familiar. This is still almost… normal. Usual. Expected. Nothing is new yet. He’s had plenty of practice undressing Magnus.

And now that he’s made his way through the complicated half of Magnus’s clothes, he knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows exactly how to work his way around the large, ridiculously ornate buckle on Magnus’s belt. And he knows that the thick leather is confining enough that he actually has to pull the belt all the way out of the loops if he wants to be able to take off Magnus’s pants (which is challenging enough, considering that they’re almost always skin-tight, or leather, or both). These ones are particularly tight, but the fabric is soft and smooth and seems like it should slide off easily enough.

His hand pauses on Magnus’s zipper.

This is one of his favorite parts.

He doesn’t know why, but it is.

Because he never knows what Magnus is wearing under his pants. And it’s always…

Exciting.

Sometimes Alec tries to imagine what his underwear will look like. If it’ll be lacy, or patterned, or shiny (he’s even seen a pair that was actually metallic). How much it’ll actually cover. If there’ll be frills or bows or ribbons. If it’ll be sheer, maybe enough for him to see right through it…

He doesn’t know why he cares. But he does. Just thinking about it is making his heart speed up a little. In an uneven, faltering sort of pattern.

He thinks it’ll probably be blue. Everything else Magnus had worn tonight was some shade of blue. Maybe it’ll be light, like his scarf. Or dark like the sapphires in his earrings. Alec bites his lip as he undoes Magnus’s fly and carefully starts tugging down his pants-

Fu-

Fuck.

That is not underwear.

It’s not the right reaction. It is a horrible reaction. But Alec’s first instinct is to laugh. He barely manages to choke it down. But he makes a weird, strangled sound anyway.

It’s not okay to react like this. It is not okay to see his boyfriend’s dick and immediately start laughing.

But it’s not his fault. He’s just caught off guard. Way off guard. Fuck, he knows Magnus doesn’t always wear underwear, but still. This time, for whatever reason, he was really expecting underwear. And instead, there’s just sudden, surprising dick. Usually, when Magnus doesn’t wear it, Alec finds out in a more subtle manner. Not this abrupt, and up-close.

He can’t help himself. “Nice underwear.” He wants to look up at Magnus’s face, but he’s afraid he’ll blush, or start laughing.

Magnus makes a smug little noise. “Thank you. It’s one of my favorites.”

Alec does laugh at that, but he balances it out by rolling his eyes.

Magnus’s pants prove to be a lot more difficult to remove than Alec anticipated. Magnus lifts up his hips to help, but it still takes a good deal of tugging and shimmying and inarticulate noises of frustration and amusement before Magnus finally pulls his feet free. Alec’s a little breathless and giggly by the time he gathers up the pants and belt.

He doesn’t bother throwing them this time. He just holds them out toward Magnus, and raises an eyebrow as sarcastically as possible.

Magnus smirks at him. He gives a dismissive wave with one hand, and the clothes disappear. And that leaves them…

Alec has to take another moment to steady himself. To take stock of where they are.

They’re in bed together. Magnus is spread out on his back, propped up on his elbows, completely naked, with Alec kneeling between his spread legs. It’s hardly a new situation for them, but it’s still enough to make Alec’s head get all fuzzy when he really realizes it.

And now there’s so much possibility. Yeah, they’ve already decided the eventual outcome, but it’s clearly gonna be a while before they get to… that. For now, Alec has this beautiful man in front of him, calmly looking up at him, waiting. Waiting for Alec to do… something. Anything. Trusting him.

It’s too much.

Alec ducks down, needing to get his mouth on literally any part of Magnus’s body, whatever his lips happen to touch first.

In this position, it ends up being Magnus’s stomach.

Almost right away, Alec feels Magnus’s hand run through his hair as he starts kissing and licking and clutching at Magnus’s stomach, his hips, that one extra-sensitive spot just to the left of where his belly button would be.

Alec shifts further down the bed, so he’s on his hands and knees instead of folded over himself. He decidedly doesn’t let himself lay out enough to grind against the mattress, because seriously, they’ve barely done anything, and he doesn’t want to have to acknowledge that he’s already embarrassingly hard in his boxers.

Magnus, on the other hand, is just starting to get hard. That’s how it usually goes; he’s got much better impulse control than Alec. He takes longer to get going, and then he lasts way longer than Alec could even hope to (though Alec still isn’t sure if that’s because of his experience, or if he somehow uses his magic to delay his orgasms. Alec still hasn’t worked up the courage to ask that particular question, but he will. Eventually).

Well, if Magnus isn’t hard yet, it’d probably be a good opportunity to…

Alec’s given Magnus a fair amount of blowjobs by now. Enough to be comfortable with it, anyway. But he’s still very aware of the fact that what he can do is nothing compared to what Magnus can do. And yeah, that’s because he’s had a few centuries to practice fighting off his gag reflex, while Alec’s only had a couple months.

But that’s not enough of an excuse for Alec to accept being second-best at something. So right now, it’s the perfect chance. To kiss his way down Magnus’s stomach. To get close enough to make his intention clear. To wait a moment, for any sign of Magnus telling him to stop… And then to slowly, carefully take Magnus into his mouth. All the way into his mouth. Until his lips are pressed to Magnus’s pelvis.

“Ah-Alexander, you-” Magnus cuts himself off with a gasp.

Alec doesn’t open his eyes, but he can feel Magnus’s hips move, like he’s arching his back. Magnus’s fingers curl against Alec’s head, but not so he’s gripping Alec’s hair, just so his nails scratch hard against Alec’s scalp. It’s a tiny sting of pain, and it’s amazing.

This, at least, is still familiar. The taste of Magnus in his mouth. The little twitches in Magnus’s hips and stomach. The sounds Magnus makes. The recognition of which sounds mean that Alec is really doing something right. The feeling of Magnus slowly getting harder and harder against his tongue.

It’s familiar, and it’s good. Not necessarily for its own sake (Alec wouldn’t really call it ‘enjoyable’ to try not to gag, or to strain his jaw and neck until he gets sore, or to constantly have to worry about his teeth), but for the… result. That’s what’s good. Hell, that’s amazing. Magnus is always particularly… responsive when Alec does this. And he’s plenty responsive anyway, so that’s really saying something. It doesn’t take any time at all for him to start whimpering and groaning and saying some embarrassingly filthy things about Alec’s mouth.

This is why Alec likes doing this. Getting to hear Magnus. Knowing that Magnus feels good. Knowing that he’s making Magnus feel good. Knowing that he can do something good for him. Knowing he’s good enough. Getting to hear all of Magnus’s broken sounds, getting to feel Magnus writhe on the bed, and eventually, getting to feel Magnus come. Right into his mouth, right on his tongue…

But that just reminds him that this time isn’t completely familiar. There’s a difference. A significant difference. There’s that little nagging voice in the back of Alec’s mind. The one that keeps repeating, over and over again, that this is new. This isn’t like any of the dozens of times he’s done this before. Because this isn’t… it. This is just one part of it. He’s not doing this to get Magnus off. And as seconds pass and minutes pass and Alec loses track of time, he becomes so, so aware of the fact that he’s getting Magnus hard specifically so he… so he can…

Alec can’t breathe.

He pulls away, just for a moment. Just so he can gasp in a few times and moan out a few more times until he feels like he isn’t choking on his own tongue.

Once he can convince himself that he’s not dying, he moves back in again. He quickly runs his tongue across his lips as he ducks his head-

Magnus’s finger touches his chin. Lightly. He just barely brushes the back of one finger under Alec’s jaw. And he pushes up, just a little bit.

Alec takes the hint, and lifts his face.  

Magnus is looking down at him. His eyes are so bright it’s like they’re glowing. He’s breathing a little heavy. And his lower lip looks a little red, like he’s been biting it.

And Alec can’t keep himself from smiling. Because he did that.

Magnus presses his finger a little harder to the underside of Alec’s chin. His skin is warm, and getting warmer, like he might let out a crackle of magic at any second. It’s insistent, like he’s trying to move Alec up toward him.

Well, Alec’s certainly not going to protest.

But, first…

Alec can’t quite bring himself to maintain eye contact as he starts pushing down his boxers. Being totally naked, above the covers, with the light on, completely exposed… that’s still pretty new. New enough that he’s not quite comfortable enough to see Magnus seeing him. Just knowing that Magnus is watching him is enough to make him blush from his chest to the tips of his ears.

It doesn’t help that it’s not exactly an elegant process, shoving and kicking and essentially wriggling himself out of his underwear. It’s nothing like when he gets to take off Magnus’s underwear (when Magnus bothers to wear any), carefully slipping delicate, beautiful fabric down his legs, kissing and touching him from his thighs down to his painted toes.

But after only a little bit of awkward struggling, Alec shakes his boxers off of his foot and kicks them down to the floor.

There’s that first, strange moment. When he feels the air on all of him, like a chill, even though it isn’t cold in here. He fights the instinct to cover himself, hide himself, make sure Magnus can’t see. Luckily, that instinct gets easier and easier to ignore every time he does this. And in a handful of seconds, he’s… fine. Kneeling on the bed, his hands on either side of Magnus’s hips… completely naked. With the little knot of anxiety twisting up his gut because he feels so exposed while Magnus is right here, right underneath him, looking at him.

He glances up.

Magnus is looking at him, with that little smile. He’s looking at Alec’s face.

Just his face.

Something warm spreads from Alec’s gut, up to his chest, like it's trying to crawl out of him. He swallows, because he’s afraid the rush of feeling might come out as a truly embarrassing noise if he doesn’t.

He’s too far away. They’re too far apart. He loves Magnus too much for him to be able to handle this much space between them.

Alec moves up the bed, needing to fix this godawful distance - and it’s okay. Because Magnus is already reaching for him, already wrapping his arms around Alec’s shoulders so he can pull him down.

Alec has every intention to kiss Magnus as soon as his face is close enough. His lips are already parted. He’s missed kissing him. He’s so ready to kiss him.

But he can’t. He tries to, but first-

“By the Angel, Magnus- oh…

It’s completely overwhelming. It always is. When Alec first lays out over Magnus and presses down against him, presses their bodies together. Naked. It’s too good to be real, it’s better than anything Alec had ever thought was possible. Just… so much skin, feeling every inch of Magnus against every inch of him, with nothing between them, anywhere. It’s intoxicating. It makes him lightheaded. It makes every part of him ache.

And it means that he needs a few moments. Before he can get himself in line. He needs a few moments to gasp against the side of Magnus’s face. To run his hand down Magnus’s side (and feel constant, smooth skin, not broken by any fabric or covering). To… move. Move against Magnus, in little shifts and thrusts that make his mind go absolutely blank with pleasure.

And it’s not like Magnus is making it any easier for him to get a hold of himself. Not with the way he winds his legs around Alec’s, and ghosts his fingers down the shape of Alec’s spine… all the way down… until he’s smoothing his hand over Alec’s ass…

It shocks Alec’s brain back into function.

Alec frames Magnus's face in his hands and kisses him, hard and fast and probably a little more desperate than necessary.

But judging by the way Magnus moans into his mouth, Alec thinks it’s a pretty good idea. After all, he knows how to kiss Magnus. He’s been kissing Magnus for months now. Hell, he’s been kissing Magnus since before he was even dating Magnus. He can’t even fathom how much time he’s spent kissing Magnus.

Which is why it’s so easy for him to lose track of time like this. Because it’s so nice, and it’s so easy, and it’s so good. Having Magnus bite at his lips and breathe out his name and scratch his back and grip his ass, Alec knows he could come just from this. Fuck, he has come just from this. Many times.

He breaks away, but only when his lips feel so raw that the pain is outweighing the pleasure. But he doesn’t make it very far. He gets distracted, almost instantly.

Because with Magnus lying beneath him like this, how could he not?

It’s dizzying for a moment, trying to take in how beautiful he is. With his makeup starting to smear around his eyes, and his lips and chin glistening with spit, a little pink from friction, and his perfect hairstyle slowly getting mussed against the pillow.

And for what must be the millionth time tonight, Alec’s struck with… confusion. Thinking back on these last months, he doesn’t understand. How he’s somehow ended up in this place. In this bed. In love. With Magnus Bane - someone so wonderful and beautiful and so many other words that Alec doesn’t have - loving him, and about to make love to him.

This doesn’t make any sense. He doesn’t deserve this.

Magnus must not be picking up on Alec’s brief existential crisis, because he doesn’t seem too thrilled with the sudden pause in what they’re doing. His legs tighten around Alec’s, and he slowly rolls his hips up against him, and if that weren’t enough, he tilts his head back. Like a display. An offer.

Fuck.

It’s not fair, really, that all Magnus has to do is slightly expose his neck, and Alec immediately loses his entire goddamn mind.

Magnus’s skin tastes like sweat. Alec’s not sure if it’s from what they're doing, or if it’s leftover from all the dancing he did at the wedding. The taste of it is one of those little details that Alec had found so weird when they first started doing this, but he absolutely loves now. He runs his tongue in a sloppy pattern along Magnus’s throat, sometimes scraping a bit with his teeth just to make Magnus whine and tip his head back even further. It’s random, and messy, and completely uncoordinated, until-

Alec stops. Right at the center of Magnus’s neck. His mouth is open, pressed to Magnus’s skin. And right under his tongue, he feels the shape of Magnus’s Adam's apple.

Alec really shouldn’t care about Magnus’s Adam's apple as much as he does. At least, not anymore.

It made sense at the start. Because it’s where his eye was always drawn. Back when it was still so overwhelming just to look at Magnus for any length of time. Back when looking was all he was allowed to do… and, really, it still felt like he wasn’t even supposed to do that. But it was always where he looked. When he couldn’t hold Magnus’s gaze because it made him feel like he’d start blushing. When he couldn’t look at Magnus’s lips, because they were too tempting. When it didn’t feel like it was safe to look at anything else, he always looked at his Adam's apple.

Of course, his intentions had completely backfired, and it ended up being more enticing to Alec than any other part of Magnus’s body.

And in a lot of ways… it still is. Watching it move when he speaks. Seeing it framed by a high collar. Being drawn to it when Magnus brushes his hand across his throat to fiddle with one of his necklaces…

It used to be bad. A sign of danger, an indication that Alec had been staring too long. A temptation. Forbidden.

And now he’s flattening his tongue against it, feeling it move as Magnus swallows and lets out a deep sigh. It’s almost like… a rebellion. Or maybe a victory. A reminder that Magnus used to be so horribly off-limits, someone Alec could never have, someone it was stupid for Alec to even want.

And he’s here. Lying naked beneath him. Moaning as Alec kisses and licks his Adam's apple for what seems like an eternity.

But it’s probably only a minute or two, really. Because Magnus keeps winding his legs higher and higher up Alec’s waist, and he rolls his hips more and more frequently until he’s pretty much constantly grinding up against him, and Alec can’t fucking breathe, much less control his body enough to do anything except grab Magnus’s thigh to encourage him to keep going.

It’s too good. Fuck, it’s too good, nothing should feel this good. It’s…

It’s actually…

It’s starting to get a little uncomfortable.

They’ve been in this position for a while, with Alec holding himself up over Magnus, trying to make sure he doesn’t totally smother him, holding up his head enough to kiss him. And… yeah. He’s getting a little sore. His neck hurts.

Hopefully this wasn’t like, the perfect position for Magnus. Because Alec uses his grip on Magnus’s thigh to pull him over, so they’re lying on their sides. He’s immediately flooded with relief as his head lands on one of the throw pillows and gives his neck a rest (even though he knows the pattern of the embroidered fabric is going to press into his cheek).

It takes a second for Magnus to adjust, twining their legs together, his hand pressed to Alec’s back to keep them as close together as possible.

But he’s not kissing him.

Why isn’t he kissing him?

Alec tries to move in-

Magnus stops him. Touches a finger to Alec’s lips before he can-

Oh.

Alec smirks. Actually smirks.

The pad of Magnus’s finger is resting on his lower lip. Alec touches it with his tongue, as lightly as possible.

Magnus closes his eyes, and whimpers.

Fuck.

Alec parts his lips a little bit, just enough so Magnus’s finger slips between them. And he moves his tongue, the smallest movement he can manage. Trying to tease. And-

By the Angel, he can feel Magnus’s cock twitch against his hip. Just from that. Just from barely having his finger in Alec’s mouth.

Alec loves doing this. Holy fuck, Alec loves doing this.

Though, obviously, nowhere near as much as Magnus loves it.

Alec doesn’t even remember when he noticed. When he figured it out. But it’s been fucking amazing since the first time. Because it’s so easy. All he has to do is gently lick at Magnus’s fingers and Magnus is completely gone. It shouldn’t…

It shouldn’t be this easy. Alec shouldn’t be able to bring him this much pleasure. Falling apart without a shred of dignity from the barest amount of contact is something that should happen to someone like Alec, not Magnus. It almost feels like…

Cheating. Like some sort of shortcut. Alec should have to work harder than this. He shouldn’t be able to get this kind of reaction, just by gently sucking Magnus’s finger a little further into his mouth-

“Oh, Alec, angel… ” Magnus’s other hand slides down to Alec’s ass again, and-

A spark crackles on Alec’s tongue. Hot, and oddly sweet. Alec lets out a surprised little laugh around Magnus’s finger. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, it just usually doesn’t happen quite this soon.

But it always happens. Alec’s not sure if it’s because Magnus knows that Alec likes it, or if he genuinely can’t help it. If Alec is literally sucking magic right out of Magnus’s hand. But either way, Alec loves it.

Magnus gives a particularly passionate moan, and another spark hits Alec’s tongue. It’s like eating Pop Rocks (actually, it’s so similar to eating Pop Rocks that Alec literally can’t eat Pop Rocks without feeling the threat of getting a boner, just from sense memory).

By the time Magnus carefully starts to slip a second finger between Alec’s lips, the gentle teasing is done. Alec doesn’t know how he could possibly put any more enthusiasm into what he’s doing. Fuck, he’s basically moaning as loud as Magnus at this point. But he’ll do anything to keep hearing Magnus make these noises, say these filthy things. To feel spark after spark of magic, feel the heat in his mouth that sends a shiver of pleasure down his spine each time. To keep that sweet taste on his tongue-

Magnus pulls his fingers free. Takes his hand away.

Alec’s first reaction is confusion, so he follows his hand, trying to get them back.

Magnus laughs, light and breathless. “Darling,” he places his hand on the back of Alec’s head, getting his fingers entirely out of reach, “it’d be rather counter-productive to get me too excited right now.” He sounds like he’s teasing, but the intensity of his gaze is entirely serious.

Alec’s mouth suddenly feels dry. “Oh. Ri- right.” It takes a second to really process what Magnus means, and when he does…

He smiles. Because that’s… that’s new. The idea that Magnus is the one who’s worried about feeling too good. Afraid that he might come too soon. It feels weird for Alec to be on the other side of that particular problem.

And, beyond that… it’s kinda funny. That Magnus needed to say that when Alec was sucking on his fingers, and not earlier when he was sucking on his cock. That he was fine with everything else that’s happened, but this is what gets him too close. What makes Alec feel a little spot of wetness on his hip.

It’s funny, but he’s certainly not going to laugh.

Besides, he barely has a moment to think about it before Magnus is rolling them over again, this time so he’s on top, which-

Oh, fuck.

Alec’s so ready for this. To give up on taking initiative and lie back and let Magnus take over for a while. He instantly feels the tension drain out of his limbs, until his whole body feels like goo. Useless, powerless goo.

He loves feeling like goo.

Magnus kisses him (which is enough to make Alec whine frantically, since it feels like they haven’t kissed in ages), deep, and open-mouthed, and…

Alec wonders if Magnus can taste the leftover hint of his own magic on Alec’s tongue.

Huh. He’ll have to ask about that sometime.

But not right now.

Right now, Magnus is shifting, settling in over him so their legs slot together. So he has room to run his hand down Alec’s chest, scratching his fingers through Alec’s chest hair, stroking all the way down his stomach, giving his cock the barest hint of a touch (though it’s still enough to make Alec arch up and curse under his breath), and then trailing his fingers… further down… further back…

Finally.

Alec spreads his legs - because apparently he’s already reached the point of arousal where he’s past feeling any sense of shame. And he pushes his hips up a bit.

Because Magnus isn’t doing anything. His fingers are almost - but not quite where they should be, where Alec needs them to be.

“Alec.”

Alec makes a strangled sound, because he can’t think of any words. Not a single damn word. He pushes his hips up more.

“Alec.”

This isn’t teasing, this is torture. He would beg, if he could just remember what the fucking words are-

Magnus nudges his nose against Alec’s cheek. “Alec.

Oh, shit. Is he supposed to be paying attention?

Alec opens his eyes… and blinks a few times because looking up at Magnus’s face in the soft light is completely disorienting. He works his throat a bit. “Huh?” It’s not exactly eloquent, but it’s all he can manage.

Magnus looks-

Damn. Alec knows this look. He’s seen it before. A lot.

Magnus is about to ask for something. Something new. Whether it’s something he wants to do to Alec, or something he wants Alec to do to him, it’s the same look. Serious. Kind. Already trying to make it so clear that Alec can give him an honest answer, even if it isn’t the answer he wants.

There’s a brief moment of panic where all Alec can do is wrack his brain to figure out what the fuck Magnus is about to ask him. After all, they’re already doing this for the first time, and it's a pretty big deal. What else could there be?

Magnus keeps his fingers where they are, so infuriatingly close. “Alec, can I use my tongue?”

That’s… That’s so different from what Alec was expecting that the first response he can think of is literally ‘I don’t know, can you?’ But then his brain starts working again and he realizes where Magnus fingers still are (or where they almost are, anyway), and he puts two and two together and-

Oh.

Oh.

Use his tongue.

For…

In…?

Alec’s throat closes up. Instantly. Like he has some sort of allergic reaction to potential sexual acts.

This isn’t the first time Magnus has mentioned… this. He’s brought it up once before. A while ago. What feels like a long while ago. Pretty soon after he’d first fingered Alec. But it wasn’t an outright question. It was something he’d brought up, like an option. He wasn’t actually offering it itself. He was offering for Alec to ask for it if he wanted it. Alec hadn’t even had to say no, he’d just… not asked for it. It wasn’t important enough for him to even really consider it.

But now, he’s considering it.

Except it’s not exactly easy to try and make a decision like this with Magnus giving him this look, this look that communicates all this love and respect and understanding - how is anyone supposed to deal with that? So he closes his eyes for a second.

And he tries to think about it.

It’d be nice, right? Alec loves having Magnus’s mouth literally everywhere else on his body, so in all probability he’d love it just as much there. And Magnus only asks for things that he really wants, and in situations like this it’s pretty much Alec’s only goal in life to give Magnus absolutely anything and everything that he wants.

Except…

When he actually thinks about, actually thinks about it actually happening…

Actually pictures Magnus putting his face between Alec’s spread legs and putting his mouth on Alec’s ass and using his tongue so he’d taste him - Alec can’t wrap his head around why Magnus would possibly want to do that. He can’t actually want to, can he? It doesn’t make any sense.

And, worse than that… He’d be just, down there. Alec would have to lie back and watch Magnus, giving all that attention to that part of him. Being that… exposed. And what if it’s not good? What if something goes wrong, and Magnus doesn’t like it, and what if- oh, by the Angel - what if something goes really wrong, like Alec having to fart right while it's happening?

Fuck.

That is-

That is literally the worst thought that he’s ever had.

That must be the worst thought that anyone has ever had in the entire history of the world.

He opens his eyes again, hoping that’ll be enough to keep him from ever having another thought again ever.

But that means he’s left looking at Magnus. And he knows his answer.

Alec bites the inside of his lip. “Uh… n-no, I don’t… think so. Not this time.” Dammit, he wishes he could sound even a little bit more confident.

Magnus just smiles at him. Of course he does. Because somehow, Magnus always manages to look genuinely happy when Alec says no to him.

He presses a kiss to Alec’s cheek. Lets it linger. “Alright, darling.”

There’s a brief burst of warmth between Alec’s legs, like residual heat from magic, as Magnus keeps moving his fingers-

And now, they’re covered in lube. Fuck. Fuck. Alec feels Magnus spread the wetness on his skin (warm, like always. Magnus always makes sure it’s warm before it touches Alec), as he finally, finally gets one finger pressing right up to Alec’s asshole.

“Oh fuck, yeah Mags, please, please-

It’s like a dam breaking. Alec can tell he’s still talking, but he loses track of what he’s saying. Probably just incoherent begging. Because all of a sudden he becomes immensely aware of the fact that this night is going to end with Alec getting to feel what it’s like to have Magnus’s cock inside him after all these months of wanting it, and all night he’s had nothing inside him, and now Magnus is finally going to fix that for him, and Alec doesn’t think he’s ever needed anything this badly in his life.

Magnus kisses Alec’s cheek again. “Hush, sweetheart,” (though Alec knows he absolutely does not mean that, because he loves hearing Alec beg for him, the rotten liar) “just relax. Relax for me.”

Alec wants to tell him to fuck off, or at the very least to shut up and stop being such a goddamn tease, but in this case, he knows relaxing is the best option.

Still, easier said than done.

Strangely enough, Alec doesn’t really feel himself relax at all until Magnus starts carefully working a finger into him.

Because then, it’s like everything’s good again. It’s familiar. It’s such a strong feeling, but not enough to be overwhelming.

And, as always, it’s just so much better than when he does this to himself. Infinitely better. Magnus just… really knows what he’s doing.

And all Alec has to do is… feel it. Magnus is in control of this. Alec doesn’t have to worry about anything. Magnus’ll take care of it. Take care of him. Make sure he feels good.

“Mags, i’so good, feels so good you’re so good Mags-” Alec makes himself keep talking as Magnus adds a second finger, because he needs to let him know. Alec needs to tell him. Magnus is making him feel so good and Alec knows Magnus likes it when Alec tells him that, and Alec has to do something to make Magnus feel good right now, even though it isn’t enough, it could never be enough-

Alec has no idea what he’s saying anymore. He knows he’s saying Magnus’s name a lot, and it feels like he’s saying ‘love’ just about every other word, but he doesn’t think he’s formed a coherent sentence in minutes.

And it doesn’t exactly help when Magnus starts kissing his cheek again, over and over, being just as careful and gentle with it as he’s being with his fingers. Alec completely loses the ability to speak as Magnus starts whispering against his face. Little words, here and there, between kisses. “Darling, my darling,” and “Alexander,” and “I love you so much.”

It’s like Alec’s starting to get dizzy. Just because he’s not used to feeling this… much. Magnus’s voice and his lips and his fingers and his naked body and the heat of his magic… How is Alec supposed to survive this?

He’s just getting lulled into that same sense of familiarity again when he gets another  vivid reminder of why this time is different.

Because after a few minutes, Magnus kisses him, and slowly presses in a third finger.

This is new. This has never happened before. This is new and unfamiliar and more and it stings and Alec can’t breathe.

Magnus breaks the kiss (probably because he can feel Alec desperately trying to gasp in some air), but keeps his face close. Keeps whispering such beautiful, beautiful things.

And eventually, it doesn’t sting anymore. It feels the same as it always does, just more of it.

And this…

This still isn’t it.

Alec reaches up, slipping his hand under one of the pillows so Magnus can't see it. And even though he feels unbelievably stupid for doing it, he squeezes three of his fingers together. And he awkwardly tries to feel them with his pinky and thumb. Because he needs to know how much this is. He needs to have a better idea of what exactly is inside him right now, and he needs to… guess.

He needs to feel the size of his three fingers, and try to guess how much bigger Magnus’s cock will be. How much more.

It’s useless, obviously. With just one hand, he can’t really tell what he's feeling, and with everything else that’s happening to him, it’s not like his brain can really process anything in the first place. He’s just writhing on the bed, pushing up against Magnus’s hand, making a string of obscene, inarticulate noises. If he had any sense of self-awareness right now, he’d be dying of shame. As it is, Magnus has pleasured all the shame right out of him, and he can’t give a fuck about anything but wanting more.

Then again, maybe more would be too much.

Luckily, right as Alec’s about to tell Magnus that he needs to stop if he doesn’t want Alec to come, Magnus stops on his own. And he pulls out his fingers.

No. No no no no that’s the exact opposite of what Alec wants-

“Alexander.” Magnus touches Alec’s cheek (and his hand is dry, already cleaned off with magic). He’s got his Serious Face on again. “Do you want to use a condom?”

Oh.

Alec opens his mouth.

Huh.

He’s not sure if he’s ever felt this instantly wrong-footed before in his life. “I…” What’s he supposed to say to this? What’s the right answer? “I… don’t know?”

Magnus gives an admonishing little sigh. “Alec-”

“No, I mean I really don’t know.” Alec tries not to frown (since it doesn’t exactly fit the mood), but he can’t quite stop himself. “I don’t know… what it’s like. Either way.” Since they know they don’t have to use condoms with each other, they just… never have. With the stuff they’ve done, there never seemed to be a point. Alec has no experience with them.

But this is Magnus, and Magnus knows what he’s doing. Alec’s never been given a reason not to trust him.

Alec swallows. “You decide.” And then, since Magnus doesn’t usually take that for an answer, he adds, “Please?”

Magnus looks hesitant for a moment, like he might try to argue, and fuck, Alec hopes he won’t argue…

Magnus smiles, small and lopsided, with only one side of his mouth. “Fine. If it’s up to me, I say no condom.” He smooths his hand up Alec’s cheek, so his fingers can comb through the hair behind his ear. “But if you change your mind, I’ll get one. Alright?”

Alec nods… only because he doesn’t have anything to say to that. He can’t really imagine disliking something about sex in such a specific way that it’d make him think ‘You know what would totally turn this around for me? A condom.’ How would he even be able to tell the difference?

Magnus shifts a little - and it’s enough to remind Alec of just how badly he wants this, how ready he is, how he’s never been this nervous or excited about anything before-

“One more thing-”

Holy fuck, there’s something else? How many discussions do they need to have before this happens? Shit, maybe they should have sat down and had a briefing before any of this started.

But Magnus still has that serious look on his face, so Alec does everything he can to force down his impatience. “What's that?”

Magnus’s fingers press a little harder to Alec’s scalp. Like he’s trying to hold him in place. Like he’s really trying to be serious about this. “You have to promise me that if you’re uncomfortable, you’ll tell me right away.”

Alec furrows his eyebrows. “Why would-”

Because, Alexander,” Magnus interrupts gently, “you have a very high tolerance for pain, and you refuse to complain about anything if you think I’m enjoying it.”

That’s not-

Alec makes a little noise of protest, trying to think of some way to refute that.

But he gives up. Because, yeah. It’s basically accurate.

There’s a second where Magnus smirks at Alec’s lack of protest, but he replaces it with a genuine smile almost instantly. “A little bit of pain is normal. But if you’re absolutely miserable, there’s obviously no point in continuing. If you don’t like it, tell me. And we’ll stop.” The smirk comes back. “Understood?”

Warmth spreads across Alec’s chest, though he thinks that might be because his heart rate feels like it's just quadrupled. Still, he manages to smile. “Yeah.”

Magnus leans in to kiss him again, and Alec’s racing heart is reverberating so powerfully in his body that he wouldn’t be surprised if Magnus could feel it in his lips.

There’s some shifting, as Magnus settles between Alec’s legs, and gently nudges them further apart so Alec’s hips are tilted up a bit, and he moves his hand… Why is he moving his hand like that? Alec can feel it brushing against the inside of his thigh-

Holy fuck. He’s stroking himself. He must be spreading lube on his cock.

Holy fuck. This is happening. This is really happening. Month after month after month of wanting this so badly and not being able to ask for it and not even knowing why he wasn’t able to ask for it… and it’s happening.

Magnus lifts his face away, just the tiniest bit. Alec sees him glance down-

And he has to close his eyes. He can’t handle this. He’s gonna have a heart attack. He’s gonna pass out. He's gonna die.

He feels Magnus’s cock against him. Warm and wet with lube.

“Relax, love.”

Alec nods, but the stiffness of the movement makes it pretty obvious that he’s nothing but tension right now.

Magnus moves his cock a bit, a few gentle nudges.

Alec tries to breathe.

Magnus starts to push in. And it’s-

No.

It’s bad.

It’s really- it’s really bad. Shit. It’s horrible.

“Stop! Stop stop, please, stop.

Magnus does stop, immediately. But he starts to pull back-

Alec clutches Magnus’s hips. He can’t make his voice work (his throat is too tight), but he needs to make Magnus stay where he is. Because everything in his body is closing up, tightening, screaming that Magnus needs to pull out, and Alec can just tell that if he does, this isn’t going to happen at all.

And he refuses to accept that. He’s wanted this for too long.

It’s just… it’s too much, why is it so much? It hurts and it’s overwhelming and it’s the only thing he can feel and for some reason his body won’t let him have this, which is-

Which is so fucking unfair. His fucking horrible body already makes him feel like worthless shit almost every minute of his life. Why does it get to keep him from doing this? Something he wants? Something that he knows he wants?

“Are you alright, darling?”

Alec would laugh if his lungs would let him. Magnus sounds so calm. Caring. Like he’s having some perfectly normal conversation, and not being desperately held in place with his dick less than an inch inside his boyfriend.

“Just-” Alec sucks in a breath through gritted teeth. “W-wait?” He tries to swallow, but his mouth is too dry.

“Of course,” Magnus says softly.

Alec breathes.

Alec tries to breathe.

His eyes are squeezed shut so tightly it makes his head ache. He’s still gritting his teeth. His legs are shaking a bit.

But he’s going to have this. Godfuckingdammit, he fucking wants this, and he’s going to fucking have it.

He breathes.

He breathes until the tension leaves his jaw, and it goes slack. He still can’t open his eyes, but he can breathe. At the very least, he can breathe.

He still can’t talk, though. So he can’t tell Magnus that he wants to keep going. That he’s okay. So he uses his hold on Magnus’s hips (which is slightly less vice-like now, and hell, Alec hopes he didn’t leave any bruises), and tries to sort of… nudge him on.

Magnus’s hips move with his hands, and he pushes in that much further.

It hurts, but not… not horribly. It’s the same kind of sting he’s used to with fingers, just amplified. He’s felt this before, he’s just never felt quite this much of it. But that makes it… okay. Once he realizes that it’s not new. It’s just a little different.

He nudges Magnus’s hips again. And again, Magnus moves, exactly as much as Alec’s hands encourage him to.

So he’s…

Fuck.

Alec is actually pulling Magnus further and further into him.

Apparently his throat is working again, because a truly stupid sound comes out of it. Something high-pitched and whiny and maybe a tiny bit pained, but mostly just stunned.

Once Alec’s breathing evens out enough for him to stop gasping, he realizes that he’s not the only one having troubles with it. He can hear Magnus above him, taking long, shaking breaths. Like this is affecting him just as much as it’s affecting Alec.

And that’s probably… true.

Alec makes another weird sound.

Because this is affecting Magnus just as much. There’s an… evenness to this. It’s not like when Magnus uses his fingers inside him, or when either of them are using their mouths, or when they touch each other. This is happening to both of them. The same way.

Well, they may not be feeling the same thing. But they’re feeling it together. As Alec pulls Magnus into him, and feels more and more of Magnus’s cock, Magnus is feeling his cock that much further inside Alec. It’s not one of them pleasuring the other in turn, it’s both of them. Being pleasured by the same thing. The togetherness, the… connection, it’s almost too much for Alec to handle.

Although, right now, basically everything is too much for Alec to handle. It still hurts. It still feels like too much. And it's not stopping. He’s not letting it stop. He’s still gently tugging on Magnus’s hips, spreading his legs even wider, feeling more and more and hearing Magnus struggling for air just as much as he is and feeling Magnus inside him, finally feeling what it’s like-

Until it stops.

Because there’s nowhere else to go. Magnus’s hips are pressed right up to Alec’s ass. He sighs against Alec’s face, quiet, and… relieved? It’s definitely a good sound.

Alec keeps breathing.

And they… stay. Like that. Magnus doesn’t move. He holds himself up, completely still (and Alec wonders how fucking tired his arms must be by now), completely inside Alec… and not doing anything. Waiting for him.

Alec still can’t speak. And he doesn’t know how to get this across, to let Magnus know that he wants him to move. So he sort of… wriggles a bit. Tries to move his hips - but has to give up almost instantly because fuck, any movement at all right now is…

But it must be understandable enough, because Magnus takes an audibly deep breath. “Ready?” His voice sounds strained.

Alec tries to nod. But he can’t. His head just jerks, and not in a direction that indicates ‘yes’. So he works his throat, until it feels a little less like sandpaper. “Ye-yeah.” His hands tighten on Magnus’s hips. “But… slow?”

Magnus makes a sound that might be a laugh. It’s soft, and so nice. “Slow” he repeats, and kisses Alec’s cheek, up near his eye.

And he pulls back. Just the tiniest bit. He’s probably barely moving-

But it’s shattering when he presses back in. Alec can tell how small the movement is, but it’s the… the most he’s ever felt.

After a few seconds of stillness, Magnus keeps going. Just like that. He pulls out a little more every time, before thrusting back in, always so slow and smooth and careful.

And after a while, it’s all of it. Magnus is pulling almost all the way out of him and then pushing his whole cock back in, every single time…

And it’s still gentle. Magnus is still being so gentle, but it’s so overwhelming and deep and Alec doesn’t know what the fuck to do with himself. There’s still some of that sting (enough for him to realize that he’ll undoubtedly be able to feel this for a while after they’re done, and that… that’s… that’s certainly a thought), but he feels it less and less with each thrust. He can’t tell if he’s actually getting used to it, or if the pain is just being overshadowed by…

He can’t describe it. He doesn’t have any words for what this feels like. Just that it’s… good.

It’s so good.

Once Alec gets enough control to get out of his head for a second, he realizes that Magnus is-

By the Angel.

Magnus is making these sounds. Like he’s never made before (at least, not that Alec’s heard). These low, throaty, thick sounds, that start off desperately loud, then choke off. Like every time, he’s losing control, then getting it back.

It sounds like… Alec wonders if, maybe…

Magnus’s responses are very different, depending on what they’re doing. When Magnus is doing something for Alec, he’s quiet, almost silent, unless he’s talking him through something. He keeps himself quiet so he can hear Alec. Hear his reactions, hear what’s feeling the best, what isn’t as good. But when Alec does something to Magnus, it’s the opposite. He’s loud. Alec’s still not sure how much of it is genuine, and how much of it is just to encourage him. To make him feel like he’s doing a good job.

So Magnus is quiet when he’s pleasuring Alec, and loud when Alec is pleasuring him, and now…

Now, both are happening. At the same time.

And it sounds like Magnus is confused about how much sound he’s supposed to be making.

It’s weirdly… cute. Fuck, it’s adorable. Magnus keeps making these loud, deep moans - and then he cuts himself off, in case he’s missing any sounds from Alec. He’s trying to keep himself quiet to make sure he’s listening for Alec’s reactions… but it’s like he can’t do it.

Like he can’t help himself.

Like he feels too good to control his voice.

Too good… because he’s inside Alec…

Alec’s hands slide up Magnus’s back, trying to pull him in closer - even though this has to be literally the closest they could possibly be. But it’s still not enough. So he lifts his legs, and tries wrapping them around Magnus’s waist, so he’s folding Magnus up in all his limbs at once, clinging to him-

He ends up pulling toward Magnus right as Magnus is thrusting into him, meeting him with the same amount of movement.

And that’s… that’s something else. Feeling this with a bit more force. And the fact that it makes Magnus moan even louder… certainly doesn’t hurt.

So Alec tries it again. Clutches Magnus’s shoulders. Presses his heels harder against Magnus’s ass. Grinds up as Magnus thrusts in-

“Ah! Ah, fuck…” Alec grits out, even though his voice is still unsteady.

Magnus makes a broken noise, and starts to move a little bit… more. Deeper. Magnus always loses his composure when Alec swears, and it looks like that’s as true as ever in this situation.

Which is probably why, without planning to, without even thinking about it, Alec hears himself say, “Yeah, Mags. Fuck me.”

And Magnus sobs. Actually sobs, and drops his head, tucking his face between Alec’s neck and shoulder. His whole body jerks, like it always does when Alec manages to surprise him-

Except now, while they’re like this, Magnus’s body jerking forward like that means he ends up really thrusting into Alec, harder than he has been so far.

Even though it’s what Alec literally just told him to do, it still catches him off guard. He cries out, way too loud - and it probably sounds bad. Like he’s in pain. So he forces himself to nod, tries to make a more encouraging noise, digs his heels in again, does everything he can possibly think of to make Magnus keep going.

And Magnus does.

And it… works.

Like any other time they have sex, things settle into a rhythm. One that makes sense, and is so, so good, for both of them (at least, Alec assumes as much, judging by the whimpers Magnus keeps smothering against Alec’s throat). It’s good, and it’s easy, and it’s so bizarre for Alec to realize he’s thinking any of those things about being fucked.

Then again, it’s still bizarre enough for him to think that Magnus Bane wants to fuck him in the first place.

It never gets any worse. It only gets better. Minute after minute. Until it’s…

It’s weirdly good. Weird-good.

Weird.

Because a lot of time has passed (presumably). And it’s still… too good. They haven’t had to change positions, or readjust. They haven’t said anything to each other in a while. Nothing’s making any silly noises to ruin the mood, or make them laugh. They aren’t laughing.

They’re serious.

They’re being completely serious. It’s this weirdly perfect, serious thing.

It… sucks.

Because it’s too perfect. Nothing’s going wrong. Something always goes wrong. Takes away the seriousness and lets it be fun instead.

But it’s been perfect for so long, it starts to feel like… it has to stay that way. Like Alec needs to make sure he keeps it perfect, and doesn’t do anything to ruin their perfect, serious lovemaking, and why isn’t anything going wrong goddammit? It’s stifling like this. Alec’s too aware of everything that’s not going wrong. He can’t relax. He can’t remember how to breathe-

He doesn’t notice that all this thrusting on silk sheets has made him slip further up the bed. Not until Magnus thrusts particularly hard, and Alec’s head slams into the headboard.

“Ow! Fucking- ow.” Alec reaches up to rub his aching head. “Fuck. Finally.

His fingers get tangled up with Magnus’s, since he’s also reaching up. But his fingers are warm with magic, like he’s ready to soothe away the bump.

But Magnus freezes, with his fingers just barely touching Alec’s hair. “‘Finally’?”

Alec closes his eyes, and lets out a long, blissful sigh of relief. “It was going too well, Mags. It was weird. It was all serious and perfect and nothing was going wrong and there was too much pressure to not mess it up, it was stressful and I hated it.”

He swallows.

That was… more than he’d planned to say. Still. It’s true.

It takes him a second to gather up his courage enough to open his eyes. Because he’s realizing that he literally just complained that the sex was too good, like some kind of moron. And he’d also said that he was hating having Magnus fuck him.

Awesome. Great. Totally normal reaction to sex, right?

He’s a fucking idiot.

He looks up at Magnus.

And Magnus looks… what. What’s that expression? Is he… amused?

He doesn’t look horribly offended, so that’s good.

And after a moment that’s just long enough to be terrifying, Magnus-

Magnus bats Alec’s hand away from his head, and ruffles his hair. Vigorously.

“Hey, wh-what the fuck ?” Alec sputters as he tries to crane his head out of Magnus’s reach.

When Magnus finally stops giving him a goddamn noogie, he smiles. Big, and dumb. Like he’s pleased with himself. “There. Now your hair looks stupid. The perfection is officially ruined.” He raises one eyebrow, still with that ridiculous grin. “Pressure’s off.”

Alec takes a breath to respond…

And he lets it out again.

He’s right. The pressure’s off. Something went wrong. And now, whenever he starts thinking that things are getting too good, he’s absolutely going to remember that Magnus called his hair stupid, and that’ll kill the mood right away.

Magnus just… fixed it. Alec feels his chest tighten, like it’s trying to trap the butterflies that have just swarmed in his stomach, to keep them from flying up out of his mouth. He starts to smile.

But he stops himself. Because Magnus still definitely just gave him a noogie during sex, and Alec has too much dignity to let that go without retaliation. He reaches up, as suddenly and as quickly as he can-

Magnus grabs Alec's wrist before his hand gets anywhere near Magnus’s hair. He looks stunned, and completely outraged, his eyes wide and his mouth literally hanging open. Like he can’t believe Alec had the audacity to threaten his hairstyle.

Alec tries to fight back, doing his best to keep himself from laughing as he struggles to worm his arm out of Magnus’s grip…

But it’s hopeless. Because he’s snorting, and then he’s laughing, and then Magnus is easily pushing Alec’s arm down and pinning it to the bed, and then Alec realizes that all of this is happening while Magnus’s dick is still totally inside him, and then he’s laughing harder.

And Magnus is laughing with him. He laughs as he slides his other hand under Alec’s hips, and lifts up onto his knees a bit, and tugs, scooting them both down the bed a few inches. Enough to keep Alec away from the headboard. And he keeps laughing as he starts moving his hips, starts fucking Alec again in a light, teasing rhythm. He keeps laughing, even as he leans down and kisses Alec.

And-

Oh.

That’s…

Kissing. Magnus kissing him, while he’s fucking him.

While they’re both laughing.

It had been good before. It had been fantastic. Alec can’t deny that. But this is what he was hoping for. What he’d wanted it to be.

“Better?” Magnus asks, basically right into Alec’s mouth.

Alec’s still breathless, from laughing, from being fucked. So he just nods, as enthusiastically as he can, and gives an affirmative hum. The only word he can get out is, “Much.”

Magnus groans in approval. “Lovely.” And he… yeah. He puts all his focus back into fucking Alec. Deep, slow, then faster, then slower again…

And the variety makes Alec feel like he’s on fire.

Now that they’ve talked again, Alec can’t make himself shut up. He just keeps saying Magnus’s name, over and over, like a chant. He only breaks it up with a few “yeah”s and “so good”s and more than a few “love you”s.

And he can’t get his hands to stop moving, either. His legs are basically locked around Magnus’s waist - where they’ve been for what feels like years now - but his hands keep running from his ass to his back to his shoulders to his face to his neck to his arms… his arms…

Fuck. He loves Magnus’s arms. He always does, but right now… like this…

He’s so strong. Alec keeps his hands on Magnus’s arms, feeling the way his muscles are straining against his skin as he keeps holding himself up after all this time. It’s his arms and his chest and his back there’s just so much muscle everywhere and Alec can’t fucking stand it, can’t get enough of it. He wants to feel Magnus’s arms around him, not just next to him. He wonders-

He wonders if they could do this… differently. With Magnus standing, and… holding him up. Holding Alec up in his arms while he fucks him, with Alec clutching Magnus’s shoulders, with his legs wrapped around Magnus’s waist just like they are now. Could they do that? He has to know. He has to find out. Just the thought is enough to…

Magnus is getting quieter. Which would be disappointing (since Alec’s never heard him be this loud before, and it’s been unbelievable), except Magnus always gets quieter. When he gets close.

But he's still not completely silent. After a minute or two, he tilts his mouth toward Alec’s ear. “Touch yourself?” He offers, like a suggestion.

Well, it certainly doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

Alec gets one hand between them, between their bodies, which are so close and connected and Alec can’t think about that for too long or he’ll lose his mind. He wraps his hand around his cock and starts to stroke-

Nope.

It’s definitely a bad idea.

His hand recoils, and he hisses through his teeth like he’s been stung.

Hell, it kinda feels like he’s been stung. It’s just… too much. Way too much. It felt like he was already aching with overstimulation, even though he hasn’t come yet. It made him clench up all over, which made Magnus’s cock feel like pain inside him again. He doesn’t understand why, but it made everything feel like shit.

“It… it’s too much,” Alec whimpers, because he feels like he owes Magnus some sort of explanation for not liking his nice suggestion.

Magnus makes a weird sound, somewhere between a sigh and a moan. “Alright.” And he… stops moving. Gradually. Slowing down, then stopping. Still buried all the way in Alec. He keeps their faces close. Cheek to cheek, so Alec can’t see his face. “Darling, are you close?”

Hm. Alec wasn’t expecting that.

And he also wasn’t expecting that his answer to that question would ever be, “Uh… no. Not really.” Because he feels so good, he feels so fucking good, he’s never felt this good in his life. But it’s… not in the right way. With his cock not getting any attention (and apparently hating attention when it gets it), he’s just… not there. It’s the best he’s ever felt, but he’s not going to come. Not for a while, anyway. He can tell.

But if Magnus asked, and he’s been getting so much quieter…

“Are you?”

Magnus laughs, and lets his forehead fall onto the pillow, next to Alec's head. “Alexander, I’ve barely been hanging on since we started.” He nuzzles his face against Alec’s. “You feel too damn good, angel.”

That’s…

“Oh.”

That’s kinda… nice. For once, Magnus is the one who can’t stop himself. The one who’s gonna come earlier than he wants. Alec’s gonna last longer than him.

He smiles. It’s a dumb thing to be proud of, but that’s not stopping him.

So Magnus is basically done. This’ll be over soon. That’s maybe a bit disappointing. But it’s not like Alec could ever really be disappointed in any situation where he gets to watch Magnus come. Gets to see his face. Hear him. Sometimes even… feel-

Wait.

Oh, holy-

“Are y-” Alec’s voice, of course, picks now of all moments to completely give out. He keeps moving his jaw, swallowing and basically gasping for air, until he gets his words back. “Are you gonna-” he whimpers, “gonna… in me?”

It sounds like Magnus tries to swallow a moan, but it comes out anyway. “Only if you want, darling. Whatever you w-”

“Holy shit. ” Alec closes his eyes and throws his head back and desperately tries to breathe.

He doesn’t know how he didn’t think of this sooner.

All this time he’s spent wanting Magnus to fuck him so badly, and he seriously never considered the possibility…

His imagination… hadn’t gotten this far. He’d spent so much time thinking about what fucking would be like, and he got stuck there. He never thought about how it would end.

And he doesn’t know why the fuck he cares. But, for whatever reason-

“Please, by the Angel, please Magnus,” he whines, wrapping his limbs tighter around Magnus and squeezing with every part of him, “Mags, please come in me. Please. Oh, fuck, Magnus, come in me, please, please, Mags, I wanna feel-”

If he’d thought of this sooner, he probably would have been so ashamed that he wouldn’t have been able to dream about actually asking for it. In a way, he’s lucky that his idiot brain only figured it out seconds before it actually became a possibility. Because now, he doesn’t care how he sounds. He doesn’t care how desperate he is or how stupid he sounds or how gross it may be that he wants it in the first place. Because he needs it. He needs to know how this feels. Shit, he’s not even sure he’ll be able to feel it at all, if he’ll be able to tell, but he has to find out, he has to he just has to-

Magnus makes a sound like nothing Alec’s ever heard. It’s loud, and broken, and stunned. “Alexander…” He starts moving again, thrusting with all the force he’d been using before, but none of the finesse. It’s uneven, and sloppy, and fucking incredible.

Alec wants to keep encouraging him, but can’t manage anything more than whispering “yes, please,” so much that he sounds like a broken record. Magnus is getting so quiet, only letting out tiny noises that are mostly just breath, so it can’t be long now…

All Alec can feel is heat. The heat of Magnus’s sweaty skin against his. The heat of Magnus’s breath on his cheek, in uneven little puffs. The heat of Magnus’s magic, sparking and crackling all around them, like static electricity in the air. And then-

Oh.

Heat. Inside him.

Magnus is completely silent as he thrusts in, what feels like it's probably as hard as he possibly can. And there’s this… heat. Warmth.

Alec can feel it.

And then Magnus lets out a long, whimpering sigh. His hips jerk a few times, like little half-thrusts. He breathes in with gasps. And breathes out with moans.

It’s beautiful. It’s always so beautiful. Alec loves hearing it. Hearing Magnus come.

But right now…

He can feel it.

He’s stunned. Frozen. He couldn’t move a muscle if his life depended on it.

And he still doesn’t fucking understand why he fucking cares. Why knowing that he has… that he has… Magnus’s come… inside him…

Fuck. It’s stupid. Why is this any different than the dozens of times he’s had Magnus’s come in his mouth? Or anywhere else on him, for that matter? Why does he care? Why does he have to care about this? Why is this…

Why is this the most incredible thing he’s ever felt?

Magnus has gone limp. Alec didn’t even notice. But now he’s lying like a ragdoll on Alec’s chest. A complete dead-weight. With his face tucked back in the crook of Alec’s neck again. He’s panting, probably harder than Alec’s ever heard. Alec hopes that’s good. He hopes this felt better than usual for Magnus.

After all, with how Alec’s feeling, it’d only be fair.

They must spend a few minutes like that, lying on the sweaty sheets, completely motionless. Magnus catching his breath. Alec losing his.

It’s only when Magnus finally moves, finally lifts himself away and slowly pulls his dick out of Alec (which is… certainly not the best part of the night), finally moves himself out of this same position and just happens to brush Alec’s cock that Alec finally realizes-

Right. He hasn’t come yet. He’s been hard since… probably since he walked up the stairs to the loft tonight. He still hasn’t come.

But, hell. With how indescribably good it feels to have Magnus’s come in him (and even though Magnus has pulled out now, even though it’s over, he still gets to feel it), he almost doesn’t care. If he never got to have another orgasm in his life, he thinks he’d be fine.

Of course, Magnus has other ideas.

Alec doesn’t know how the fuck he has the energy to do anything right now. But somehow, Magnus manages to crawl backwards down the bed, on his hands and knees, until he’s moved far enough to-

To duck his head and take Alec’s cock into his mouth. Completely. In one fast, fluid movement. One second Alec’s just calmly enjoying his life, and the next, the head of his cock is in Magnus’s throat.

It’s just not fair.

Alec’s crying out all sorts of stupid gibberish without any ability to make himself stop. But after a night of feeling so fucking good and yet not feeling anything on his cock, this is…

This is gonna kill him.

And Magnus is obviously not trying to draw this out. This is the end of a blowjob. This is what usually happens after ages of teasing and building up and all sorts of other stuff… then this happens. This isn’t supposed to happen out of nowhere. Especially not after Alec…

After he’s just been fucked.

Fuck, it’s too good. It shouldn’t be allowed. He shouldn’t be allowed to feel something this good.

And as if Magnus could hear him say that, as if he heard it like a challenge, Magnus immediately out-does himself. Because, with Alec’s cock still very much in his mouth, Magnus slides two fingers into him-

And it’s easy. He’s never felt Magnus’s fingers go in this easily.

And it’s because he’s already had Magnus’s cock there. He’s open because he’s already had more. And he’s slick…

“By the Angel, Magnus.

He’s slick with Magnus’s come. Magnus’s fingers slide into him so easily because Magnus’s come is already in him.

Alec doesn’t even bother trying to keep himself quiet as he comes. It happened too suddenly. He’s felt too good tonight. It’s all too much. His back arches off the bed. His eyes screw shut. He thinks he’s probably sobbing a bit.

And he doesn’t care.

At least a few minutes must go by before Alec feels like he can open his eyes again. They’re out of focus. He has to blink too much. His mouth is still open, letting him gasp and moan in turn (just like Magnus had done, after he'd come).

And there’s Magnus.

Magnus is sitting back on his heels, between Alec’s legs, rubbing gently at Alec’s thighs. How long has he been doing that? He’s caught his breath. He looks almost calm now. He’s smiling. And there’s-

No.

Yes.

Fuck.

There’s come on his lips. Alec’s come. Slowly starting to slip down toward his chin.

Why is he like this? Why does Alec have to want this? Why does Alec have to see his own goddamn semen on Magnus’s lip, and want it? Why does he have to be so disgusting? And why…

Why is Magnus alright with it? Why isn’t Magnus disgusted?

Because he’s not disgusted. Magnus knows. He knows that Alec is like this. That Alec likes this. He knows, which is why Alec’s come is on his lips in the first place. He could have wiped it off. He could have kept it from getting there at all. Because it’s disgusting. It shouldn’t be there.

But it is. Because Magnus knows.

Alec doesn’t know why he likes it. Wouldn’t be able to explain it if he tried.

But that’s just it. He doesn’t have to explain it. Doesn’t have to try. He doesn’t have to say a damn word.

Magnus is already leaning down. Without a word. Without Alec having to ask. Just because he knows.

Alec has this filthy, disgusting thing that he likes, and he doesn’t know why, but Magnus doesn’t care. He just leans over Alec, with come on his lips, and kisses him.

Alec loves him. Alec loves him so much he feels it well up in his chest and seep into his head until he’s so overwhelmed with how much he loves Magnus that he actually feels tears in his eyes.

And while he’s feeling that, he’s licking his own come out of Magnus’s mouth.

While Magnus’s come is still inside him.

Alec whines, and tries to hold it back, because he’s genuinely afraid he might start crying if he lets this get any worse.

Magnus slowly lowers himself down again, spreads back out over Alec. Holds Alec’s face in his hands. Keeps kissing him. And keeps letting Alec taste himself.

Alec doesn’t get it.

But he lets it happen. He savors every single kiss. And tries to make each kiss as good for Magnus as it is for him (though that can’t be possible).

And after a while, they’re not kissing anymore.

Magnus shifts down a tiny bit, just far enough to pillow his head on Alec’s shoulder.

Alec’s legs are already twined around Magnus’s, and his arms are already around his shoulders, so he doesn’t even have to move. He’s already where he wants to be.

Magnus takes a deep, slow breath. “Mm?”

Alec smiles. Magnus always checks on him when they’re done. Makes sure he’s okay. Always. But apparently he can’t quite muster his usual eloquence. Alec knows how he feels. “Mm-hm.”

“Mmm,” Magnus affirms, and snuggles himself further into Alec’s embrace.

Alec opens his eyes…

And without Magnus over him, he sees the room again. For the first time in what feels like days now. It’s bright in here. Was it this bright the whole time? It’s weird. Alec knows it’s so ridiculously fucking late; it doesn’t feel like it should be bright, even if it’s just because of a lamp. It’s night. The lightbulb should respect that. He blinks as his eyes adjust, looking around to make sure he hasn’t actually gone blind from too much sex.

And he sees-

Whoa.

“Mags?”

“Hm?”

Alec nudges him lightly with his shoulder. “Mags, look.”

Magnus grumbles in protest, but lifts up his head in the direction Alec indicated.

So he sees the giant scorch mark on the wall, right next to the bed. It’s a haphazard, blotchy sort of shape, and it’s gotta be almost three feet in diameter. Holy fuck, it’s still smoking a little bit. Blue smoke.

Magnus doesn’t seem nearly as surprised as Alec. He just plops his face right back down onto his human pillow. “I’ll fix it later.”

Alec laughs, as best he can. He tries to rub Magnus’s back, hold him a little tighter, but…

“I can’t move my limbs. Is that normal?” His whole body feels shaky. But not in a bad way. In a… happy way. A satisfied way.

Magnus chuckles, just once. “Be patient. I’ll fix you after I fix the wall.”

Alec laughs a little more successfully this time. And he manages to splay one hand out a little further down Magnus’s spine (but it makes his arm feel all tingly).

And after that, after all of that, after the wedding and the dancing and the night and the sex and the love, the first thing Alec can think to say is, “Wow.”

It’s stupidly inadequate.

But it makes Magnus giggle against his chest, so Alec doesn’t mind.

Magnus lifts his head, propping up his chin on Alec’s shoulder. It puts their faces at too odd of an angle to really look at each other successfully, but it gets the idea across. “Are you staying here tonight?”

“I think it stopped being ‘tonight’ a few hours ago,” Alec says, and it only sounds a little sarcastic. “It’s probably almost dawn.”

Magnus rolls his makeup-smeared eyes. “Fine. Are you staying here this dawn ?”

Alec smiles. He’s not really sure how they made it this far without discussing if Alec was going to spend the night - but… Alec remembers how quickly they’d gone from walking in the door to… this, and then it kinda makes sense. “Yeah. I’m staying here.”

“Good.” Magnus lays his head back down. Like that’s all he needed.

And it’s… nice. It’s such a tiny affirmation, but… He was so certain. He didn’t need to hesitate at all. Alec said he’s spending the night, and Magnus is happy. He’s happy that Alec is going to stay with him. Share his bed. Wake up with him in the morning (well, later in the morning). Magnus wants that.

Alec tries to keep his heart from speeding up, since Magnus’s ear is only a few inches away from it.

“Yeah,” Alec agrees quietly. “Good.”

 

 

Chapter Text

He’s… unexpected.

 

Not that Alec was really expecting something in particular. But he knows that if he had been expecting something, it wouldn’t have been… this.

Maybe he’s just surprised by the fact that he’s surprised.

After all, he’s known the name for so long. He’s pretty sure that he’s been vaguely aware of the High Warlock of Brooklyn his entire life. Just never in a really prominent way. Maybe he assumed he’d look familiar. If he’s known the name this long, it would make sense for Alec to have seen him at some point. In passing.

But he’s… he’s never seen him. He knows it.

Because he’d remember. This isn’t the type of person you can see and just… forget.

People are talking. Of course they are - there’s a goddamn briefing happening. Alec’s supposed to be listening (and he is listening, just not as thoroughly as he should be). But for some reason…

He can’t make himself look away from the screen. From the images of Magnus Bane.

He looks young - which shouldn’t be strange, because Alec knows how warlocks work. Magnus Bane could look even younger than he does and still be a thousand years old.

It’s probably not that he looks young. That’s not what’s strange. It’s probably more something to do with…

He’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn. That’s a… big deal. At the very least, it’s an important job. A big title. The type of title Alec associates with people like Clave members. He’s used to important people looking important. Looking as serious as their jobs. Severe. Stuffy.

Boring.

So it’s weird. To see a High Warlock leaning lazily on things and obviously doing nothing of importance and being surrounded by people who are also obviously not doing anything important. Alec’s only ever known Magnus Bane for his professional status, and what he’s seeing sure doesn’t scream professionalism.

The older pictures aren’t as strange. There’s still that air of decadence, but it feels more detached. But hell, that’s probably just because they’re from a different time, so Alec doesn’t have a frame of reference for how fancy anything is.

But the most recent-looking picture up there…

How long has Alec been staring at it? He’s not even blinking.

But, there’s…

It’s probably nothing.

It’s a club, after all (as far as Alec can tell). People get dressed up when they go to clubs. It’s an excuse. It doesn’t mean they actually look like that on a daily basis. Everyone surrounding him in the picture is dressed in a similar way. Dark colors, with patches of brightness, from jewelry or… glitter? Is that what that shine is?

It’s probably just an anomaly. Just because of the setting. The fact that he… looks like this.

He’s… extravagant. His clothes are fancier than anything Alec’s ever seen. There’s so much decoration on him, seemingly from head to toe. Alec’s never seen a man looks so… ornate. He’s even…

He’s even wearing makeup. Like, really wearing it. That’s Isabelle-levels of makeup. It might even be a bit more than Isabelle wears. Or maybe it’s just more noticeable, since it’s unexpected. It’s so unexpected to see the High Warlock of Brooklyn, to see a man, wearing makeup like that. With so many people around him. With cameras around him (though it looks like he might not have known about the camera. Actually… why was there a camera there in the first place? Who took this picture?). Wearing makeup, and jewelry, and glitter, where anyone can see him. Being seen like that.

Being seen like that.

Alec’s heard a few things about Magnus Bane. Mostly from his parents. And mostly bad. It’s not like they’ve ever sat Alec down and specifically told him anything, but he’s heard it. A little mention, here and there. In conversations about other things. To Robert and Maryse, Magnus Bane is a footnote. Someone who occasionally needs to be mentioned, when it’s unavoidable. And it’s bad. They’ve said some really bad things about him.

They’ve certainly never said… that he’s pretty.

Is that-

Is that right? Can Alec use that word, about a man? He’s probably supposed to say something else. That he’s… handsome. Attractive. And he is. He definitely is. It’s not like those words aren’t accurate. He is handsome. But more than that…

He’s pretty.

He’s so, so pretty. He’s beautiful. Alec can’t look away. He’s… stuck. His eyes are stuck on Magnus Bane. Like he’s drawn in. Hypnotized.

And it’s just a picture. He’s not even looking at the camera, he’s looking a different direction, and - by the Angel - what would it be like if he were actually looking at Alec? If Alec actually had to look into his eyes? Alec’s stomach twists up, just at the thought of it. At the thought of seeing him in person, not in a photograph. Real, in front of him, looking at him, moving-

Moving. That’d be… because you can tell, you can just tell by looking at him that he’s graceful. Stupidly graceful. He probably moves like liquid. If he stood up, moved toward Alec, looked into his eyes, maybe even smiled - or smirked, that’s probably a better fit for him-

Alec blinks.

What…

What is he doing?

He’s working. He’s in a fucking mission briefing. He needs to fucking pay attention. This is already a stupid mission, a stupid idea, a stupid situation that they’ve been thrown into (and apparently they’re all supposed to be just fine with it and somehow Alec is the only one being called unreasonable). It’s not even going to work. It’s a dumb risk for no reason. But it’s still a risk.

Which means Alec needs to be taking this seriously. Taking this seriously.

And what’s he doing instead? Just… staring. Like an idiot. Staring at these pictures of Magnus Bane like they’re up on the screen for pleasant aesthetic purposes and not research. Alec needs to be focusing. He can’t be doing this. He can’t be ignoring everything else that’s going on and getting lost in his own thoughts about nothing. He can’t waste time looking at Magnus Bane for no reason. He can’t sit here and try to figure out if ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful’ is a better word for him. He can’t use those words. He can’t see this downworlder, this man, and think he’s beautiful. He can’t think that. He can’t look at him like this.

He's not allowed to have that.

Alec looks away.

He looks down at the table, for lack of a better option. He takes a deep breath, but tries to keep it quiet. Doesn’t want to be noticed.

He doesn’t know what that was. But it’s done now.

The meeting continues. Alec focuses. Focuses on what he’s supposed to. What he’s allowed.

He doesn’t look at the pictures again.

 

He’s looking at Alec.

 

He just keeps… looking at him. It’s like every time Alec looks at Magnus, Magnus is already looking at him.

Which is saying something, since Alec is finding it ridiculously difficult to keep his eyes off of him.

But Magnus is…

He’s looking at him.

No one looks at Alec. Not unless they need to. And Magnus doesn’t need to. This isn’t about Alec. There’s a lot of shit happening right now, and Alec’s barely got anything to do with it. He’s here for support. He’s here to make sure nothing goes wrong. He’s not actually involved. Magnus doesn’t need to be aware of him at all.

He should be dealing with Clary - not that Alec is thrilled to let Clary be the sole authority in any situation. But he has to admit, this is her problem. Her memories. Magnus should be dealing with her. Just her. But Clary's not even here. She's in the other room, working on the pentagram. 

So why is Magnus…

Why does he keep looking at Alec?

And not just meaningless, passing glances. He’s looking at Alec and… smiling. Smirking. Making these faces like he and Alec are in on some big secret together.

Alec assumed it was a mistake, at first. He’d assumed that Magnus is just… like this. Teasing, and flirtatious, regardless of who he’s talking to. He was just flirting with his audience; it didn’t matter who it was. When he’d given Alec that first little smirk, it wasn’t because of Alec. He was just the closest person. He was the random person who’d happened to receive Magnus’s directionless smile.

But now, he keeps… he keeps doing it. Saying these silly things. These flirty things, these things that are so blatant that it’s a little embarrassing just to hear them.

And then he looks at Alec.

Only Alec.

It can’t be a coincidence. He’s trying too hard. He’s putting too much effort into making sure that he sees Alec, specifically. After he says these things. Hints, and innuendos. It’s like he’s trying to see Alec’s reactions. To his… flirting.

Because that’s what this is. Flirting.

Magnus is flirting with him.

And he’s actively trying to do it. It’s not casual. He’s not throwing it away. He’s completely ignoring everyone else in the room.

Or, no. It’s more than that.

He’s looking past them. He’s acknowledging that there are other people here, and he’s making it clear that he doesn’t care. Like he wants Alec to see him ignoring everyone else. Looking past them. Looking past Isabelle. And Jace.

Looking past Jace. Ignoring Jace.

To look at Alec.

When has anyone ever… done that?

They haven’t. No one ever has.

Never once in Alec’s life has he met someone who saw Jace, who saw him and talked to him and looked at him… and dismissed him. No one has ever looked at Jace, and immediately brushed him aside to look at Alec instead. Look at Alec, and call him-

Jace was right there. Right next to him.

And Magnus had pointed to Alec. And called him… pretty.

Just… said it. Like it’s simple. Like it’s true.

Like he really meant it.

And that’s the part that Alec cannot wrap his fucking head around. Because Magnus has no reason to lie. He has no reason to say anything he doesn’t mean. Probably not ever, but definitely not right now. He has all the power in this situation. He’s given Isabelle his necklace. He’s agreed to summon the demon for them. They have literally nothing that he could want. They have no leverage.

So Magnus has no reason to be nice to them. If he were trying to get something from them, then maybe it’d make sense. If he was trying to be charming. If he had singled Alec out as the easiest target, like he could tell that all it takes is one look, one nice word to make him forget himself and fall to pieces. That would make sense. That’d be a strategy. An unfortunately good one, too.

But it’s not like that. Magnus has literally no reason to be even mildly pleasant with any of them. From his perspective, this is all bullshit. He’s already had to deal with people he doesn’t like, to barter for a necklace that was his in the first place, to fight off an attack on his safehouse, to try to make that place safe again, and now to top it all off, he has to summon a demon for them. For Shadowhunters. For people he can’t stand. There’s no reason for him to be even remotely pleasant. So there’s definitely no goddamn reason for him to…

Lie. To compliment Alec. To flatter him. There’s no reason for him to say these things, unless…

But Alec isn’t, he isn’t -

Magnus is the one who’s pretty.

With all the effort he obviously puts into his appearance, he must look in a goddamn mirror every now and then. He has to be able to see the difference. Between them. Magnus has to know what ‘pretty’ means. He sees it every day.

So why did he say that?

Why did he see Alec, see how plain and ordinary and lifeless he looks, see him hovering in the background, unimportant, useless and worthless, and say…

Magnus didn’t have any reason to lie. But even if he thinks he’s telling the truth, he’s wrong. Alec knows he’s wrong.

And he needs to stop looking at him.

Because Magnus is still looking at him.

And Alec doesn’t know what to do with that. He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand the flirting. Doesn’t understand the smiles. Doesn’t understand how someone like Magnus could look at someone like him, and think he’s pretty.

Alec feels sick. He doesn’t do well with things he doesn’t understand. And right now, he doesn’t understand anything. It makes him uneasy.

Jace is talking. Alec can hear him, but can’t make out the words. Jace is only a few feet away, but he sounds like he’s underwater.

Alec looks at Magnus.

Magnus looks at him. Even though Jace is talking - probably talking directly to Magnus, since they’re trying to get ready for this whole demon summoning thing - even though Jace is right here… Magnus is looking at Alec.

And when Alec meets Magnus’s gaze, Magnus smiles. A tiny bit. A tiny lift of one side of his mouth. He’s facing Alec, just Alec, and with how everyone is standing, no one else can see his face. No one but Alec.

And he’s smiling.

Alec can’t breathe. He wants to smile back. He wants to cry. He wants to get the hell out of here. He wants to stay here forever. He wants to understand what the fuck is going on in Magnus’s head right now. He wants Magnus to keep smiling. He wants Magnus to call him pretty again. He wants Magnus to smile at him and call him pretty.

Isabelle says something to Jace. Alec can’t hear her, either.

Magnus is still smiling at him. While no one else can see him. Just Alec.

And after a moment, he winks.

Alec can’t do this.

His heart is racing. He still can’t breathe. He feels his throat close up and his stomach lurch like a dropping elevator.

He can’t do this.

Alec clears his throat, and runs his hand through his hair, just as an excuse to move.

He looks away. Turns away from Magnus. Gives his focus to Izzy instead. Pretends he's fine. Pretends he can breathe.

He refuses to look back.

But he swears that he can feel Magnus’s eyes on him. He can feel Magnus, still looking. At him.

 

He’s not being cryptic at all.

 

Alec still doesn’t know why the fuck he said that. It had sounded better in his head. Smooth. And flirty. A little teasing joke.

When he said it out loud, it just sounded stupid.

But, unbelievably, it hadn’t deterred Magnus.

Because he’s still here. Standing in front of Alec. Just a few inches away. Taking another sip of his drink. He’s looking down at his glass. And it feels like it’s been hours since the last time he looked away from Alec.

It’s actually kinda nice. Alec needs the chance to catch his breath.

The first thing he realizes is that he’s holding his own glass so damn tightly, he’s surprised it hasn’t shattered in his fist. Magnus has really strong glasses.

The second thing he realizes is that he’s only taken one sip of it. He still his a full drink in his hand. And Magnus had said…

Alec’s agreed to stay for another drink. That’s what Magnus offered. That’s what Alec accepted. ‘One more drink.’ One more. So is that-?

He hasn’t finished this one. Finishing it would mean he’s had one more drink than he’s had so far. But is that what Magnus meant? Or is there another drink after this one?

Because if it is just this drink, just the drink in his hand…

If Alec has agreed to leave after he finishes this drink, he’s gonna have to make sure he drinks it as slowly as possible.

What if he just… didn’t drink it? If he doesn’t finish it at all, if he leaves a little bit at the bottom of the glass, does that mean he gets to stay?

He smiles at the idea. That staying for ‘one more drink’ is so goddamn literal that all he has to do is set down his glass, and he gets to stay here forever. Like he’s found a loophole that lets him completely ignore the rest of his life. The life outside this apartment.

Magnus still isn’t looking at him. His eyes are still cast down. So Alec can keep looking at him, without him seeing it.

By the Angel. How can he be so beautiful? How can anyone actually look like this? Why does he get to just walk around, living his life, being this beautiful? Like it’s no big deal? There’s glitter on his eyes and gold in his hair and in case it weren’t bad enough that Alec can just fucking see through his shirt, it’s also so… open. There’s that exposed patch that practically forces Alec’s eyes to follow it, from the hollow at the base of his throat, down to his chest, down… And there’s all this jewelry, too. In case Alec tried to look literally anywhere else in the apartment, there’s all these necklaces, hanging so perfectly in the open front of Magnus’s shirt to draw Alec’s eyes back to his chest. Always back to his chest. Jewelry and glitter and gold and makeup and he’s so, so beautiful.

Why does he get to be this beautiful? Why does he get to have all this? Why is he allowed to put in this much effort and use such pretty makeup and have such pretty rings on his fingers and such pretty polish on his nails? Why is he allowed to be beautiful?

He looks back up at Alec.

And Alec’s heart speeds up.

Why the fuck is Alec here? Magnus never actually answered him. Of all the questions Alec has ever asked, this is the one he needs the answer to the most.

Because Magnus is looking at him, and smiling.

The most beautiful man Alec has ever seen is smiling at him.

It’s not like last time. Because they’re alone (well, basically. Luke is asleep in another room, so that really doesn’t feel like it counts). Last time, it had been everyone, with Magnus fighting so hard to make it just about them.

And now, it is just them. Just the two of them.

Which means that this time, when Magnus smiles at him, Alec smiles back.

Because who’s gonna see it? No one. No one but Magnus.

They’re alone in this big, empty room. Standing just a few inches away from each other. Holding drinks.

Smiling at each other.

Alec feels lightheaded. Dizzy. His heart is still racing. It feels like it’s pumping so hard that it’s gaining enough momentum to launch itself right out of Alec’s chest.

Because he’s alone. With Magnus Bane.

Magnus Bane, who’s been stuck in Alec’s mind since the first time he saw him. Magnus Bane, who’s been flirting with Alec since the moment they met. Magnus Bane, who’s so beautiful that it literally takes Alec’s breath away.

They’re alone. And they’re so close. Alec’s never been this close to someone before. Not like this. Not in this context. Every part of him is right within Alec’s reach. His hands. His face. His lips.

His lips.

It’s a new feeling. Unfamiliar, but thrilling. For Alec to stand here, wanting to kiss someone, and actually thinking… that he might want to kiss Alec, too.

Thinking that if he stepped in closer, took just one step in (since that’s all the distance there is between them), and tilted his head down just a little bit, he could kiss Magnus. And Magnus might… let him. Part his lips. Put his hand on Alec’s cheek, or the back of his head, so he can run his fingers through Alec’s hair. Kiss him back. Kiss him.

By the Angel, Alec wants to kiss him. His lips are just as beautiful as the rest of him. So smooth, and soft - not like Alec’s, which are always so chapped that they split open and bleed more often than not. Magnus’s lips look like they’d feel good. They’d feel soft, and Magnus would be soft about the way he kisses. Gentle. Easy. It’d be so easy to kiss him.

And Alec could do it. Right now. There’s nothing stopping him. There’s literally nothing preventing him from taking a step in and kissing Magnus Bane. He could do it. He can do it. He can do it right now.

Alec shifts his weight, starts to move forward-

“Alexander,” Magnus’s smile twists. Gets a little wry. “You don’t have to drink that if you don’t like it. I won’t be offended.”

Alec has to take a moment-

He’s disoriented. He’s stopped moving, frozen back where he’s been standing, so close to Magnus, but just too far away to…

He wasn’t going to kiss him. Of course he wasn’t.

Him, kissing someone. Someone like Magnus Bane. The thought is so ridiculous it’s actually funny. Funny to think-

Alec finally registers that Magnus said something to him.

He glances down at his drink. And then at Magnus’s. And he realizes that Magnus’s glass is almost empty, and Alec’s still only taken that one little sip of his.

Right.

“No, it’s- uh. It’s not… not that, I wa- I was…” He closes his eyes in frustration at his own useless voice. He can’t think of any words. Any good words to say right now. He opens his eyes again, and realizes that there’s so much heat in his face that he can literally feel it radiating off of himself. His eyebrows tilt up. “I don’t like it,” he admits, as quietly as possible. Trying his damndest to not die from embarrassment, right where he stands.

And Magnus…

Laughs. Soft, and warm. But he’s clearly not making fun of Alec. It’s like he actually thinks Alec is funny. Like he thinks he’s… a little charming? Maybe? Magnus looks charmed. His smile is bigger than it has been, and his eyes are crinkling at the corners, and his shoulders are shaking, just a little bit.

It’s like Alec’s heart is trying to crawl up his throat. He almost wants to look away. It’s almost too much, seeing someone this beautiful looking this happy. Alec almost can’t handle it.

Almost.

“Well, I’m sure we can do better than that.” Magnus turns back to the counter-ish thing with all the drinks on it. He wasn’t too far away from it, but it’s enough that he needs to take a little step in to get what he needs. A little step away from Alec.

So Alec follows him.

By the Angel, what’s his problem? Magnus took one step in a different direction, and Alec just immediately went after him, like there are goddamn magnets in the toes of his boots.

But Magnus doesn’t seem to mind, because he’s still smiling. And he holds out his hand.

Alec hands over his barely-touched drink.

And if their fingers brush when Magnus takes the glass from him, just the tiniest bit, well. No one’s here to see it. No one can hear the way it makes Alec’s breath hitch. Just Magnus.

And he’s still smiling. “I’m certain there’s something here that’s suited to your taste.” Magnus raises an eyebrow, even though he’s looking down at the bottles and glasses. Because Alec can still see him. They’re still that close. “What do you like?”

Alec opens his mouth-

And closes it again, nibbling the inside of his lower lip for a second. He knows what he wants to say, but it’s…

Hm. Actually, maybe it’d work.

Alec works his mouth a bit, trying to keep himself from smiling. “I don’t know,” he’s definitely failing at the not-smiling thing, but he hopes he’s at least keeping his voice somewhat serious. “Do you have anything that doesn’t taste like hairspray?”

He swallows, still trying to get the stupid fucking grin off of his face. Because it’s just stupid if he’s smiling. If he keeps a straight face, then it’s… maybe. Maybe it’s flirtatious. He’s hoping it’s flirtatious. At the very least, he hopes Magnus recognizes that Alec has no fucking clue how to flirt, and he’s trying. He’s doing his best. Hopefully it’s the thought that counts.

Magnus makes one little sound, somewhere between a laugh and a scoff. He looks back up at Alec. His eyebrows are raised. His mouth is a little bit open. He’s surprised.

Alec just surprised him. Huh. That’s… a nice feeling.

Magnus smiles at him again, but it looks significantly more playful than it has before. “How do you know what hairspray tastes like?”

Alec can tell that he’s being teased, but for some reason… he’s fine with that. So he just shrugs. “Isabelle.”

(Because if you forget to knock before you open Izzy’s bedroom door, you get a facefull of whatever she’s holding, and if she happens to be doing her hair…)

Magnus laughs, but… quietly. With his mouth closed. It’s almost like… giggling.

It does something really stupid to Alec’s head. He thinks he might actually fall over.

Magnus starts making a new drink. Pouring various things out of insanely fancy bottles (are they… diamond? Why the fuck are they so shiny? By the Angel, how long would it take for Alec to save up enough money to buy just one of these things, much less the dozen that Magnus has? And then, how expensive are all the liquids inside them? How much fucking money is sitting on this table?), measuring out little, careful amounts into a fresh glass.

He’s concentrating. Alec can see it. The way his eyebrows come together just a little bit, just enough to get a little crease between them. The way he bites his lower lip, and slowly, slowly lets it slip back out from between his teeth.

There’s a tiny bit of shine on his lip now, a little wet spot from where his tongue must have touched it.

And, holy fuck, Alec would give just about anything in the world to lean in and wipe it off with his thumb. To touch Magnus’s lips.

But he’s busy. He’s concentrating.

Also, Alec can’t move. That’d probably make it difficult.

It isn’t until Magnus is apparently pulling a slice of pineapple out of midair and wedging it onto the rim of Alec’s glass that Alec realizes… they aren’t saying anything. They haven’t said anything while Magnus has been focused on making Alec’s drink. They’ve been totally silent for probably two solid minutes now.

Alec usually can’t handle more than fifteen seconds of silence in a conversation. That’s when he gets nervous and starts blurting out the first thing that pops into his head.

But with Magnus… it hasn’t been awkward at all. Not talking. It’s just… made sense. It’s felt as natural as the conversation. It’s…

Easy.

It’s easy to talk to Magnus. It’s easy to not talk to Magnus. It’s easy to smile at him. It’s easy to say whatever the hell he wants. It’s easy to watch him, and not worry that he’s been staring for too long. It’s easy to be around him.

And when…

When was the last time Alec thought anything was easy? When was the last time he felt this comfortable?

When was the last time he looked at another person, and felt… good?

Magnus had told him to stay for one more drink. He’s making that drink right now, giving it the same little snap of magic that he’d done to the first one. This is the drink. The time frame Alec had picked for himself. One drink. Then he’d leave. Go home. Back to the Institute.

Magnus smiles to himself as he puts a stopper back in one of the bottles.

And even though it’s impossible, Alec can’t help but wonder if he’s smiling because he knows. If he can somehow tell. That Alec’s not going home after this drink. That Alec’s made his decision.

Alec’s going to stay here as long as he possibly can.

Magnus takes the finished drink, and looks back up at Alec.

And his smile is so soft, and small, and sincere.

It’s so beautiful that Alec has to look away. He drops his gaze to the floor, feeling his face heat up about a thousand degrees. Feeling the way his mouth keeps fighting off a smile.

Magnus holds the drink out to him.

And Alec physically can’t make himself look up again. Not until he gets his face under control. So he looks at the glass instead, looks at Magnus’s hand.

And he sees a blue spark crackle between them when their fingers touch.

 

He’s too close.

 

He’s too close, he’s too fucking close.

Alec shouldn’t have come. Fuck. He knows he shouldn’t have come. He knew damn well that this was a fucking terrible idea.

Because he fucking knew. He knew this wasn’t about the Cup. Or Jocelyn. Or anything else that’s important right now. Anything that could have justified his being here. He knew it wasn’t about any of that.

It’s about him. He knew it was about him before he even walked in the door.

And he came here anyway.

He’s fucking idiot.

He thought it’d be easier to see Magnus now. He thought there’d be some sort of… awareness. Like a physical barrier to keep Magnus at a safe distance. Because he’s off-limits. Before, he’d just been… unlikely. It was unlikely that Alec could ever be with him.

Now, it’s an impossibility.

But that’s not making it any easier.

Well, maybe it would be, if Magnus weren’t being like this. If he weren’t standing so close and saying these things and breathing such warm breath onto his neck and looking so goddamn beautiful and… trying.

Why is he trying?

It’s happened. It’s done. Alec is engaged. Magnus knows Alec is engaged. Magnus knows he’s getting married to someone else. Soon. So terrifyingly soon. Magnus knows Alec can never have him.

And he’s still trying. He’d still asked Alec to come here. So he could keep trying.

Why?

It doesn’t make any sense. None of this has made any sense. From the moment Magnus had walked over and introduced himself, and smiled while he’d done it… not a moment of this has made sense. But right now, that-

That almost makes this part…

It’s almost easier to understand this, what’s happening now. When he compares it to how it used to be. Because while Magnus was smiling at him, and flirting with him, and moving in closer and closer whenever they spoke, it was more than Alec could process. He didn’t know what to do with himself, with Magnus, with any of it.

And now, that’s done.

The smiles are gone. The warmth in Magnus’s voice is gone. The happiness is gone.

This is what Alec knows. This is the kind of thing he’s used to. Bitterness. Anger. When Magnus had smiled at him, it had been so unfamiliar that it left Alec dizzy. Alec isn’t used to seeing anyone smile at him.

But the look of absolute disappointment on Magnus’s face… that’s something Alec’s seen before. Not from him specifically, but from… everyone else.

It’s almost funny, in an awful, morbid way. Because standing here, in a place that’s been so nice up until now, with a beautiful man who’s been so wonderful to him up until now, and he knows that he’s ruined all of it…

It’s funny. Because it was so inevitable. Of course Alec fucked it all up. Of course he did. It’s funny that he ever thought this would end well. It’s funny that he thought he could have something this nice and not immediately ruin it. It’s funny that he thought he could have something nice.

Why did he? Alec’s smarter than that. He should never have believed, not for a second, that this could have worked. Why the fuck did he think he could have this? What made him think that he could ever be that happy? Someone like him, getting to be with someone like Magnus Bane. It’s laughable.

It’s the stupidest lie he’s ever let himself believe. That he deserved to be with someone who makes him happy. That he deserved to be with someone like Magnus, someone so beautiful, someone so openly beautiful. That he deserved to be wanted by someone like Magnus, that someone like Alec - someone so plain and worthless and ugly - could possibly be considered worthy of Magnus Bane’s attention. That he deserved any of it. That he deserved to be happy.

What the fuck made him think he deserves to be happy?

So he does the only thing he knows he can do. He ends it. He’s harsh, and he’s cruel, and he hopes it’s enough. Enough to make Magnus realize that Alec doesn’t deserve him. Enough to make Magnus stop trying.

That’s what he deserves.

And it’s…

It’s awful.

He knew it would be. When he got Magnus’s text. On the way over here. He knew this was what it was going to be. He wasn’t optimistic about this visit. He knew that if he came here today, he’d have to do this. It was inevitable. He was prepared.

But that’s not exactly comforting right now.

Because it’s so… permanent. If he hadn’t come here, if he’d left it open, he still could have hoped. That maybe he’d still have… something. There’d still be a chance. He could pretend that if he saw Magnus again, he might get to see him smile. He could pretend that he hadn’t disappointed him. That everything was fine. He wishes he could pretend everything is fine. He wishes Magnus could be happy again. He wants Magnus to be happy.

He wants Magnus to smile at him again.

He wants to see it again. Feel the little flicker of warmth in his chest. See Magnus’s eyes, focused on him and nothing else. He wants to be someone’s focus. He wants to be the only thing Magnus is looking at, like Alec is the only thing in the room that matters. He doesn’t want that to be over.

He doesn’t want this to be over.

He turns back, hoping. Desperate. He looks up one last time-

Magnus is gone.

 

He’s here.

 

He’s… here.

After everything else, after everything that’s happened, after what Alec had said, after Magnus had told him he wouldn’t get another chance.

He’s right here. Right at the other end of the aisle.

Looking at him.

And Alec realizes that as he keeps holding Magnus’s gaze, it gets easier to breathe. His racing heart calms down. His screaming mind quiets. Because he’s looking at Magnus. Everything is easy when he looks at Magnus. It’s easy to breathe. It’s easy to think.

And it’s so easy to take that first step.

Alec walks toward him. Because he’s never been more certain about anything.

And he doesn’t look away. Not for a second.

 

He’s so beautiful.

 

He’s like, stupidly beautiful. He’s so stupidly beautiful it shouldn’t be allowed. People shouldn’t be allowed to look like this. Alec shouldn’t be allowed to see it.

But he is seeing it. He’s been seeing it all night.

And Magnus has been beautiful. All night.

By the Angel, he was beautiful enough when he first opened the door to the loft tonight. Alec’s knees had almost given out, just from that first glance. And it’s only gotten worse. He’s been getting more and more beautiful every time Alec looks at him. If Alec stays here much longer, he thinks Magnus’s level of beauty might actually become lethal.

But he’s not staying. He’s on his way out. This is the end of the night.

The end of their date.

Alec’s mouth does that weird thing it’s been doing since he left the Institute all those hours ago. That weird, spastic movement, where he tries to keep himself from smiling. And fails. Spectacularly.

He should just give up. Accept that he’s smiling. He can’t stop smiling. He physically can’t stop. He’s been smiling so much tonight, his mouth hurts.

Though, he supposes there’s a chance that the soreness also has something to do with… how much kissing he’s been doing.

Alec’s smile breaks open into another stupid grin. His insides start swishing around like a washing machine. He laughs. Nothing’s funny, but he laughs. He can’t help himself. He just laughs, at absolutely nothing. He’s standing right outside Magnus Bane’s doorway, at the end of their first date, laughing for no goddamn reason.

He realizes he shouldn’t be laughing. And that makes him laugh harder.

Magnus is smiling. Leaning in his doorway, with his hand on the frame and his outstretched arm propping him up. He’s smiling. He’s smiling at Alec.

He’s so fucking beautiful. He’s been beautiful literally every single time Alec has ever seen him, but this is…

His clothing’s a little rumpled. Some of his necklaces are crooked, so the clasps are visible on his chest and the jewels are hidden around the back of his neck. His lipstick is faded, and smudged a little bit outside the actual shape of his lips. And there’s one spot on his head, one patch at the top of his perfect hairstyle that’s been totally fucked up. Because that’s where Alec’s hand was. Where he’d buried his fingers in Magnus’s hair and gently tugged just to see what would happen, and Magnus had moaned underneath him, moaned right into Alec’s mouth-

Alec laughs again.

Because Magnus Bane is the most beautiful man Alec has ever seen. And right now, he looks more beautiful than ever. Disheveled, breathing a little heavy, all of his perfection the tiniest bit… ruined.

Because he was kissing Alec.

By the Angel, Alec’s face hurts from all this smiling. When was the last time he smiled this much? When was the last time… he was this happy? So happy it’s like he’s perpetually excited, about nothing at all? He’s so fucking happy he wants to literally bounce a little on the balls of his feet. He doesn’t know what else to do with himself.

Magnus just looks too beautiful. How can he look like this? Does he know what he looks like right now? Alec has to bite his lip just to keep himself from blurting it out-

But…

He laughs again.

How many times has this happened now? All night, hell, all week, Alec’s been catching himself. Stopping himself. Feeling the urge to tell Magnus how good he looks, and squashing it. Like he’s been doing since he first met him. Because back then, Alec couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t allowed. It would have made things too complicated. Too real.

But things are different now.

After all, they just went on a date. They just went on a really, really nice date. And they kissed. They kissed so much that Alec’s lips feel chafed. They… they didn’t just kiss, like that first kiss at the Institute, or the one when Alec stopped by a couple of days ago. Tonight, they kissed. Smushed together on the couch, Alec actually lying down on top of Magnus, kissing. For what had felt like just a few minutes, but had turned out to be over half an hour.

Alec forces himself to stop thinking about that. He’d only barely gotten his boner under control after they’d stopped kissing; he knows he’d literally die of embarrassment if it came back while they’re just standing in the doorway, not doing anything.

Magnus tilts his head to one side. Still smiling. A small, happy smile. The smile that Alec has seen before, but only directed toward him. He’s never seen Magnus smile at anyone else like this.

Things are different. Magnus isn’t off-limits anymore. Alec was Magnus’s date tonight. Alec’s the one Magnus had offered his arm to while they were walking. Alec’s the one Magnus had talked to for hours and hours and hours, telling him stories, making him laugh, listening to him. Alec’s the one Magnus had kissed. So much. For such a long time. Alec’s the person Magnus wanted to spend his time with tonight.

Alec’s the person Magnus wanted. Wants.

So Alec doesn’t stop himself.

“Have you- there’s… I wa-” Alec shakes his head. Laughs at himself. Tries again. “You look really good tonight. I mean, you always do, but especially tonight. You look really pretty.” His stomach heats up, like it’s trying to set his heart on fire. He feels his grin get even dopier. “Have I mentioned that?”

Magnus giggles, he actually giggles, and Alec thinks he could die like this. “Why, yes. You have mentioned that.” Magnus ducks his head, and his smile gets bigger. Sweeter. “Quite a few times, actually.”

Alec laughs again. Can’t stop himself. Wouldn’t want to if he could. Because it’s true. He has said that a lot tonight. Because he can. He can. He can tell Magnus anything. He can say anything to Magnus, and it’s all okay. He doesn’t have to keep this to himself anymore. He can tell Magnus how much he likes him. He can tell Magnus that he can’t stop thinking about him. He can tell Magnus how beautiful he is.

He’s allowed to say it.

Magnus raises one eyebrow, and it makes his smile look even cuter somehow. “Now, don’t you have to be getting home, Alexander?”

He does. He knows he does. Magnus knows he does. Because this isn’t their first attempt to say goodbye tonight. They’ve tried so many times, Alec’s lost count. They said goodbye on the couch, but then Magnus stopped so he could wipe his lipstick off of Alec’s mouth. They said goodbye, but then Magnus walked him to the door. They said goodbye, but then Chairman Meow had tried to claw his way up Alec’s jeans. They said goodbye, but then Magnus opened the door for him.

They said goodbye, but then Alec told Magnus how pretty he looks.

He has to leave at some point. He can’t stay here forever (by the Angel, wouldn’t it be nice if he could stay here forever?).

“Yeah,” Alec says, and even though he’s not excited about it, the damn stupid smile on his face won’t go away, so he sounds just as happy as he’s sounded all night.

But there’s one more thing. One thing he already knows. They’ve already discussed it, and it’s been taken care of. Alec just wants to hear it again. “So… next time?”

Magnus’s smile gets more smirk-y, like he can tell Alec doesn’t actually need this reassurance. “Next time,” he confirms. Still looking happy. Happy about this date. Happy that they’re going to have another one. “But I don’t know when I’ll have another evening free.”

Alec shrugs. “Same here.” For some reason, that doesn’t bother him. He thinks the emotional high of this date could probably last him a few years, at least. He’s genuinely not sure that he’s ever going to be able to stop smiling. He can wait, however long it takes for them to find time to do this again. He’ll be fine.

Magnus doesn’t seem worried either. “I’m sure we’ll figure something out.” His smile has completely changed into a smirk now. It’s enough to make Alec’s heart speed up.

And then Alec’s heart stops completely, because Magnus winks at him. “Call me?”

Alec tries to laugh, but it comes out weak. “Yeah.”

He takes a deep breath, and starts walking away. He needs to leave. He needs to rip off the bandaid and leave, or he’ll be standing in this doorway until morning.

But he can’t… can’t quite make himself look away. So he just backs up instead. Refusing to turn around. Refusing to look away from Magnus.

He’s still looking at Magnus, so he doesn’t notice that he’s backed up to the top of the staircase.

He’s still smiling at Magnus, so he doesn’t notice his foot miss the top step.

 

He’s still asleep.

 

Alec’s never seen him sleep before. Well, not really sleep. He’s seen him doze a little, close his eyes, nod off, snap awake again. On those nights that Alec stayed here so late, stayed until the early hours of the morning before going home. They’ve both spent a good number of those dates desperately trying to stay awake. Because Alec didn’t spend the night. It was a rule. He didn’t spend the night, so he couldn’t fall asleep. He could never fall asleep here.

Well, there’s a first time for everything.

Alec doesn’t think he’s ever slept so well in his life. It’s probably just because of how fucking amazing Magnus’s bed is. Especially in comparison to the pile of rocks and straw that the Institute insists is an acceptable mattress. It turns out that sleeping on a good bed makes you sleep better. Who knew?

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that there are other reasons that Alec slept so well. It’s possible that it had something to do with the beautiful, amazing man who’s fast asleep next to him.

Alec doesn’t know how he got so far away. Magnus is all the way on the other side of the bed. When they’d fallen asleep last night, they were both in the middle. Together.

(And now it seems silly for Alec to think back, to think about how Magnus had turned away from him, faced the other way, shown Alec his back. It's silly for Alec to remember how nervous he’d been. How he’d slowly inched himself forward, so afraid that he was misreading something, overstepping a boundary, going somewhere he wasn’t wanted. He’d been so nervous as he gently pressed his body up against Magnus’s back, fit their legs together, slid his arm around Magnus’s waist, and tucked his face against Magnus’s neck. He’d been afraid it wasn’t wanted. But Magnus had made such a happy little sound, and snuggled back even further against him. And now, it feels so obvious that it’s almost embarrassing for Alec to realize how uncertain he'd been.)

They’d fallen asleep like that, completely pressed together, tucked carefully under the sheets.

And somehow, Alec had woken up sprawled on his side, with the sheet tangled up in his feet.

And Magnus is so far away from him. Lying on his stomach, with one arm tucked under the pillow and the other stretched out over his head.

And, unsurprisingly, he looks beautiful. His hair is worse than Alec’s ever seen it. There’s makeup all over his face, like when a toddler gets their hands on a tube of lipstick. And he looks… calm. Happy. His mouth is a little bit open (but of course, he isn’t drooling, because he’s way too elegant for that. He’s not like Alec, who had woken up with a wet spot on the pillowcase - and had been so fucking embarrassed that he’d just turned it over, in hopes that Magnus won’t notice). He’s not snoring, but he’s breathing deeply, and tiny little sounds are coming out when he exhales. Like a bunch of little sighs. He’s beautiful.

He’s so beautiful that it’s taking all of Alec’s restraint to keep himself from rolling right on top of him. He wants to plaster himself to Magnus’s back, kiss his neck, run his fingers through his fucked-up hair, feel the shape of his ass against Alec’s hips-

Though that, at least, he can still appreciate just fine from here. His eyes trail down Magnus’s back, trying to see every bit of muscle, every patch of skin that isn’t covered by the sheet. And he looks at Magnus’s ass. He really looks at it. And he smiles at the knowledge that he can do that. He can stare at it all he wants. Hell, even if Magnus were awake, and watching him, Alec could still stare at his ass. Magnus would probably like it, actually. Knowing him, he’d smirk, strike a funny pose, arch his back so it sticks out even more, just to get a reaction from Alec.

But it’s not Alec’s fault that Magnus has such an amazing ass. Even covered in the twisted, bunched up sheet, it’s still gorgeous. Alec still can’t get over the fact that he’s run his hands over it. He’s grabbed it as he’s felt Magnus thrust against him, he’s clutched Magnus’s ass while he’s come.

It’s unbelievable.

Alec wonders if he could pull away the sheet without waking up Magnus. With how haphazardly it’s covering him, Alec’s pretty sure it’s been tugged around quite a bit during the night. Maybe Magnus wouldn’t notice. Maybe Alec could just… accidentally pull it away. It’s tangled up in his feet, which is a perfectly good excuse. To make it… slip down Magnus’s back, a bit further. Just enough to expose his ass. So Alec could really see it again. Covered by nothing but that underwear, that pretty underwear that he can’t really remember off the top of his head, but he knows it’s pretty. He remembers it’s pretty. It’s pink. And it’s… lace? Alec vaguely remembers feeling lace under his fingers last night. Lace, and something else, something so soft… he didn’t have a name for it.

He wants to see it again. He wants to see it, and touch it, and touch Magnus, and do so much for Magnus. He wants to make Magnus come again. They’d fooled around last night (and done something - Alec swallows - done something very new), but Alec already wants more. Because he’s still here. He’s still here, and they’d slept together, slept cuddled together, and now they’re starting the day in the same bed where they’d fooled around and fallen asleep and Alec wants all of it again.

But he doesn’t want to wake up Magnus.

It’s still pretty early. Alec wishes he could make himself sleep in when he has the chance. He could still be curled up with Magnus right now, fast asleep.

Then again, it’s not exactly awful to get to watch Magnus sleep-

Oh.

Wait.

Shit.

Is this… is this creepy? Is he supposed to be watching Magnus while he sleeps? Isn’t that something creepy stalkers do?

Shit.

He’s definitely just… staring at him. Staring at his mostly-naked body and imagining the few parts that he can’t see and thinking about fooling around with him, completely unable to stop thinking about fooling around with him…

Yeah. This can’t be good.

And as if he weren’t already convinced, Magnus moves. He makes a sleepy sound, one that’s a little louder than his sleepy breaths, and shifts over onto his side.

Away from Alec.

Yeah, that’s a sign. Alec needs to get his shit together. He can't stay like this.

But what… what are his other options?

Get up, get dressed. Take a shower? No, he’s not comfortable using the shower without asking first. Besides, it might be too loud - he really doesn’t want to wake up Magnus. But he feels gross, like he should shower. And brush his teeth. Shit, he doesn’t have a toothbrush here. Why didn’t he think of that sooner? Fuck. He didn’t think through any of this. He can’t get dressed because he can’t shower. He can’t brush his teeth because he’s an idiot. He can’t stay in this bed because he’ll keep staring at Magnus like a creep.

His stomach rumbles.

Hm.

Breakfast? That’s something. He could make breakfast. Yeah, that’d actually… it’d take enough time to let Magnus wake up, and it’d be… nice. He could make breakfast for Magnus. For letting him stay here. Well, maybe not breakfast (because in someone else’s apartment, what the fuck would he make?). But, coffee. Yeah. That’s simple. Easy. Still nice. Waking up to the smell of coffee, already made. It’d be nice.

He starts to get out of bed, as carefully as possible.

Magnus doesn’t move.

It feels weird, waking up, getting out of bed, and realizing that he’s only wearing boxers. He can’t remember the last time he did that. Even on summer nights when it feels like the Institute is borrowing heat directly from Hell itself, Alec sleeps with a shirt on. He can’t handle it any other way.

Unless he’s with Magnus, apparently.

He glances down.

It’s not… terrible.

It’s not good. It’s definitely not good. But it’s not really bad, either. It’s better when he’s in bed, with the sheet to cover him if he needs it. With Magnus, to touch him and kiss him and call him beautiful, no matter how untrue that is. But right now-

Alec’s eyes snap down to his hips. To his right hip.

His boxers are slipping down a bit. They’re so worn that they don’t really stay up without pants on. So his hip is exposed enough that Alec can see…

There’s two of them. Two dark, messy, big hickeys. One right on his hip bone, one a little bit more center. A little bit closer to his-

Alec bites his lip.

He won’t have to get rid of these.

Magnus is very careful with hickeys. He always asks Alec first. Asks if he can leave a mark. And Alec’s pretty sure he’s always said yes. Because Magnus can suck a bruise onto his throat, and wipe it away a second later, with a little hint of magic. He always takes them away, so Alec doesn’t have to worry.

And it’s nice, not having to worry about covering anything up. Being able to be marked however he wants, knowing he has this magical ‘undo’ button.

But these hickeys, here on his hip…

Who’d see those?

Magnus usually leaves hickeys on Alec’s neck, or his chest, or his stomach, or his shoulder blades. All places they could easily be seen. All places they definitely would be seen. So he has to get rid of them.

But no one is going to see his hip. All of his pants sit higher than this. His boxers would be hiding it if they weren’t falling down. No one will ever see these hickeys.

No one but him, and Magnus.

So he can… keep these. Leave them right where they are. Hidden under his clothes. Today, when he finally leaves the loft and goes back to the Institute, he’ll still have them. Still have these two little marks.

He touches them, presses down a little, and-

Yeah. He can feel it. The tiniest ache, right under his finger.

He’ll still be able to feel that after he leaves. After he covers them up. He’ll still have these marks, these spots of proof that Magnus’s mouth was there. That Magnus wanted him like that.

That Magnus wants him.

Alec takes a deep breath. He’s supposed to be getting his shit together, not totally losing it because of a couple little hickeys. He pulls up his boxers, making sure the waistband covers his hips enough to hide the bruises.

Okay.

He’s fine.

He starts toward the bedroom door-

Chairman Meow sprints through it before Alec can even take a couple steps.

After that first moment of shock and terror and fighting instincts, Alec realizes the cat’s come running because he heard Alec get up. He wonders if he needs to be fed, or-

Chairman Meow doesn’t even look at Alec. He just jumps right up onto the bed, takes a few exploratory steps, and practically falls onto his side, stretching out all his little paws before curling up into a ball.

Right next to Magnus.

Right where Alec had slept.

Alec smiles, even though he feels weirdly guilty about stealing Chairman Meow’s spot for the night. He hopes the little guy wasn’t lonely, left out in the big empty loft all night long. Next time they’ll have to compromise. He’s not giving up his spot next to Magnus (especially not for a cat ), but maybe the Chairman wouldn’t mind sleeping at the foot of the bed.

It’s a bright morning. It looked more subdued in the bedroom, but the rest of the loft is blindingly sunny. Alec has to blink a few times before his eyes will adjust.

Okay. Coffee. He can do this. Something nice. Something nice for Magnus.

Magnus…

Alec stops, right in the doorway.

He turns around.

He wants one last, quick look before he leaves the room. One last look at Magnus, sleeping so peacefully, with Chairman Meow curled up next to him.

Alec's ‘quick’ look lasts a lot longer than it should. He just looks at Magnus, smiling to himself. Second after second. Maybe minute after minute.

Okay. That’s enough.

But when Alec finally looks away, finally leaves the bedroom, and finally goes out into the loft to make coffee, he’s still smiling.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s not a castle.

That’s what Alec keeps telling himself. What he’s been telling himself all week. Like a mantra.

It’s not a castle.

Technically.

But it’s definitely… something. A mansion, probably. At least. Is there something between a mansion and a castle? Alec doesn’t actually know what constitutes a ‘castle’ in technical terms.

Hell, maybe this is a castle, and Magnus is just lying to him. After all, Magnus had promised there’d be no castles for their anniversary… and their anniversary was technically last month. It’s exactly the kind of loophole Magnus would exploit.

Either way, it’s not-quite their anniversary, and they’re in a not-quite castle. There’s not much Alec can do about it now. They’ve already been here for six days; there’s no point in pretending to still be upset about it, when it’s almost over.

Besides, it’s not like Alec is really upset about it, per se. It’d be kinda dumb to complain about having his boyfriend whisk him away to Paris for a week and put them up in a goddamn castle.

Or, no, not a ‘castle’. Magnus said it’s not a castle, and Alec’s going to believe him. It’s a castle-adjacent place. It’s castle-ish. Castle-esque.

And it’s technically not in Paris, either. It’s nearby. They’re just spending the majority of their time in Paris, so Alec hasn’t bothered remembering how to pronounce the name of this other city (he can only handle Magnus correcting him so many times).

That’s actually the strangest part of the whole week, honestly. They have this giant, giant building. All to themselves. It’s the most lavish ‘house’ Alec has ever seen in his entire life. And they’ve barely been here. They come back here after spending all fucking day in the city, they go to sleep, they wake up, and they leave again. They don’t even have breakfast here, because every single morning there’s been a different sidewalk cafe that Magnus said Alec just has to try. Alec can’t help but be more than a little horrified when he thinks about how much money Magnus has spent for them to spend only a couple of hours a day in a place like this.

Then again, maybe Magnus just… owns this place. He owns some sort of home in every major city from Chicago to Tokyo, so it wouldn’t be terribly surprising for him to own an almost-castle in almost-Paris. Magnus certainly seems to know his way around this place. He hasn’t gotten lost once (Alec’s gotten lost three times already, just trying to find a damn bathroom).

And not only does Magnus know how to get around, he also definitely knows all of the rooms. In detail. There are so many damn rooms in this place that Alec hasn’t even bothered trying to keep count.

Until today.

Because with Magnus’s extensive knowledge of the layout, and the utter lack of time they’ve spent in this place so far, well…

Naturally, that led to them devoting the entire sixth day of their trip to trying to have sex in every single room.

It’s almost midnight. And Alec thinks there’s still an entire wing they haven’t gotten to yet.

But they can’t keep doing this. It’s physically impossible. It’s already taken multiple uses of his stamina rune, all of Magnus’s extensive knowledge of sex magic, and even some mundane erection pills that Jace had gotten them as an anniversary present (obviously as a joke… and Alec can’t help but wonder how horrified he’d be if he saw how much of a dent they’ve made in the bottle), just for them to make it this far. It’s been all day. Literally all day. It had started with nice, sleepy fooling around in bed, right after they’d woken up.

And it’s gotten significantly more interesting since then. They’ve done just about everything Alec can think of. Every sex act he knows, in every position, in every possible combination, in more rooms than Alec could possibly wrap his mind around. In the past eighteen hours, Alec’s probably had more sex than he’s had in the rest of his life combined.

And he’s loved every minute of it.

They’re in one of the living rooms now (Alec knows there’s gotta be a fancier word for it than that, but his brain stopped working several orgasms ago). And even though the room is filled with big, luxurious, comfortable furniture - couches, and squishy armchairs, and those chaise-somethings that look like they were specifically made for people to have sex on them - they’re on the floor.

Alec would laugh if he could catch his breath.

Because they’re honestly, actually, literally sprawled out on some sort of fur rug… in front of a fireplace.

What the fuck? What is his life? What’s happening?

He’s in a castle (but not really), in Paris (but not really), lying face-down on a fur rug, completely naked, in front of a crackling fire, breathless because he’s just had sex with his gorgeous, equally naked boyfriend.

This isn’t life. This is a romance novel.

Hell, if Alec read this in a romance novel, he still wouldn’t believe it. He’d think it’s unrealistic. Too cliched.

Magnus is still getting himself back under control. Breathing sounds like it’s a bit more challenging for him than it is for Alec - though that makes sense, since this particular time, Alec doesn’t think he moved once. Between the two of them, Magnus was definitely the one doing the work. And he’s still moaning a bit. He’s still… shifting. He’s on his side, with his head propped up on his folded arm, pressed right up against Alec, and still… grinding, just a little. Like he’s not quite ready to be done with this orgasm yet. He’s rubbing his thigh against Alec’s ass. Pressing his face to Alec’s shoulder. And running his hand…

Alec hums. He wants to moan, but his throat won’t let him.

Magnus is running his fingers along Alec’s spine. Back and forth. Over and over again.

He’s running his fingers through his own come. Letting Alec feel it on his skin, keeping a hint of magic in his fingers so it doesn’t start cooling yet. Keeping it warm on Alec’s back.

By the Angel. What did Alec ever do to deserve this? To deserve him?

Magnus sighs, with his mouth still against Alec’s shoulder. He keeps moving his hand. “Angel, do you want me to-?”

Alec tries to cut him off with some sort of word, but all that comes out is a weird, guttural groan. He swallows a few times, trying to make his throat semi-functional again. “Nuh-uh,” is the best he can manage.

Because he knows what Magnus means. Alec didn’t come this time. Even though it had felt so good, even though Magnus fucked him so good, for so long, he’d worried that he might actually black out at one point, he hadn’t come. He’d barely even gotten hard, and that had only lasted a few minutes. It just… wasn’t possible. His stamina rune is still burning, Magnus is too tired for any intense magic, and Alec’s officially reached a point with the pills that’s dangerously close to overdosing. It’s not gonna happen again. He’s done.

“F’you want, I’ll do something else for you,” Alec mumbles, trying his best to sound sincere and coherent, “but if I have one more orgasm tonight, my dick’s gonna fall off.”

Magnus gasps, somehow managing to make it both quiet and melodramatic. “Heaven forbid,” he whispers, sounding completely scandalized.

Alec laughs, but no real sound comes out. He just feels his shoulders move a little.

Magnus shifts his face down into the crook of Alec’s neck (though Alec thinks he must get a mouthful of rug like that), and keeps breathing. Loud and labored at first, but eventually… easier.

And the whole time, he keeps moving his fingers. Back and forth, back and forth, so Alec can still feel…

“Want me to clean you up?” Magnus offers quietly, what must be at least a few minutes later.

Alec frowns. How can Magnus have enough energy for that? It’s not exactly a small task right now. Alec’s covered in an entire day’s worth of sweat that he didn’t think to wipe away, lube that he didn’t think to wash off, and come…

By the Angel. By now, there’s gotta be come on every damn inch of him. Both Magnus’s and his own. Because each time, unless one of them chose to lick it off of him… Alec left it right where it was. Let it dry wherever it landed, let Magnus rub it into his skin, like he’s doing now.

It’s fucking disgusting. Alec is disgusting right now. Even if Magnus had all of his magic available to him, Alec thinks it still wouldn’t be enough to completely clean him up. He’s as sticky as the floor of a cheap movie theater. He needs a shower. Possibly several showers. He can’t remember what clean skin feels like anymore.

But if Magnus does have enough magic, just to clean up the mess on Alec’s back-

“No,” Alec says, trying not to sound desperate. “No, leave that.”

Oh. That was… that was a dumb way to phrase it. He’s not giving orders on a mission.

“Um… if that’s okay,” he amends, trying to sound as non-forceful as possible. “You don’t have to-” he doesn’t know how to say it without making himself blush, so he just… moves his back a little. “I know I’m gross right now. You can stop.”

Magnus doesn’t say anything. He just hums quietly, and-

Presses his fingers a little harder against Alec’s back.

Alec tries not to smile - but there wasn’t really much hope for that. So he tries to make sure it’s not too dopey of a smile instead.

Magnus lets a few more minutes pass again before he breaks the peaceful, satisfied silence. “So, have I made up for yesterday? The opera?”

That’s-

That’s so unexpected that Alec scoffs before he can think better of it. Is that what Magnus has been trying to do all day? Alec wasn’t aware. “Of course not. I’m never forgiving you for that. It was traumatizing,” he explains plainly.

Magnus makes an unhappy little noise and somehow tries to snuggle even closer to Alec. “Darling, I’ve told you, it was unintentional.” He tangles their legs together, like it’ll somehow help his cause. “I promise, I honestly didn’t know that nephilim cultural detachment runs so deep that you didn’t already know the plot of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. I genuinely didn’t think it would be a surprise-”

“Yeah, I knew they were gonna die,” Alec retorts, for what must be the dozenth time since they left the opera house last night, “I just didn’t know everyone else was gonna die too.” He huffs, and doesn’t have the energy to care about how petulant it sounds. “You could have warned me before I started picking favorite characters.”

“It’s not everyone,” Magnus says, sounding a bit less apologetic and a bit more exasperated. He moves his face a little further away from Alec’s neck, so he’s not trying to talk directly into his skin. “It’s barely even a handful. The opera has fewer deaths than the original play, even.”

“How’s that supposed to make me feel better?” Alec shifts his face against the pillow of his folded arms, trying to find a better angle for Magnus to see how unimpressed he is.

“I’m sorry, darling. I’ve said how sorry I am. Many times.” Magnus continues his efforts to cuddle himself out of trouble, rubbing his fingers even more firmly against Alec’s spine and wrapping his leg up closer to Alec’s ass, like he’s trying to cage him in. “A lot of people don’t even pay attention to the plot when they see an opera. I didn’t know you’d latch onto the story quite so passionately.”

Alec laughs, dry and humorless. “Yeah, a story about kids who wind up helpless and miserable because their parents refuse to let them love someone, 'cause they hate them for a dumb, arbitrary reason.” Alec raises his eyebrows. “Why would that resonate with me at all?”

Magnus takes a breath, like he’s going to respond…

But he sighs it out instead. “Admittedly, I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

Alec hums smugly, because that basically means he won. So he gives in to Magnus’s cuddling, and scootches himself a little closer. He folds his arms tighter together, so he can nuzzle his face into Magnus’s messy hair. “But I don’t know how far the metaphor extends. Would you be Romeo, or Juliet?”

Magnus scoffs. “Darling, if I identify with anyone in that story, it is obviously Mercutio. Aggressively bisexual, with a cute little boyfriend.”

Alec laughs as best he can - considering that he’s never experienced this level of exhaustion before in his entire life. He gnaws at his lower lip for a moment, thinking. “Does that mean Camille is Tybalt?”

Magnus lets out one loud, surprised laugh, then dissolves into a string of little cackles. “Yes. Perfect.” He makes another sound, and even though Alec’s eyes are closed, he can somehow hear that Magnus is smirking. “But let’s not fool ourselves, darling. We both know where your interests truly were last night.” His touch on Alec’s back gets lighter. Teasing. “I saw the way you looked at Romeo.”

“He was naked, Magnus!” Alec pushes himself up onto his elbows (which is the most moving he’s done since this particular round of sex started), making sure Magnus is looking up at his outraged face. “It’s not my fault that I wasn’t expecting there to suddenly be a naked man in a stuffy old opera. You didn’t tell me that was going to happen.” Alec works his jaw for a moment, fighting off a blush. “It was just surprising. It had nothing to do with him. I don’t even remember what his face looked like.”

Magnus laughs again, but gentler this time. “Sweetheart, it’s not as though I snuck backstage and told him to take off his pants just to startle you. I was not involved.”

He waits for a moment, taking in Alec’s thoroughly displeased expression, then he rolls his eyes. “Alexander,” he says, with a hint of exasperation, “come back here. You’re too far away.”

Alec fights his smile… but once again, it’s pretty much pointless. Magnus’s leg is still wound up around Alec’s thighs. They’re pressed together basically from feet to chest. Completely naked. The few inches of distance between their faces is literally the only distance between them, anywhere.

And it’s still too much distance for Magnus.

Alec almost wants to move even further away, just to be annoying. But-

No. No, he really doesn’t.

He lays his head back down on his arms, keeping his face as close to Magnus’s as possible. He tilts his hips a little, so he can slip one leg between Magnus’s. The way they’re arranged, Magnus is blocking most of the heat from the fireplace (and Alec has to smother a laugh again when he remembers the actual fireplace they’d just had sex in front of), but just enough is still getting to Alec to keep him warm. Especially with Magnus’s body heat pressed right up against him.

Magnus makes a deep, quietly thrilled sound as Alec snuggles up to him. He finally takes his hand away from Alec’s back, and after a quick moment of hesitation, brings it up and starts running his fingers through Alec’s hair. So slowly, and gently.

Some instinct buried all the way in the back of Alec’s mind tries to tell him that he should be upset that Magnus is getting semen in his hair-

Then again, it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened today. It’s not like this will really make any difference in how much Alec needs to take a fucking shower. He’s already reached the maximum level of grossness, he might as well enjoy this free pass while he can.

Especially because the idea of getting up to shower, getting up for any reason, sounds horrific right now. He could fall asleep like this.

He thinks they could both fall asleep like this. Gross, and sticky, and sweaty (and not getting any less sweaty, with the fire so close to them), and absolutely exhausted from the ridiculous day they just had, and still covered in the splotchy remnants of last night’s makeup that they’d never bothered to wash off this morning, and completely naked…

And so, so happy.

Well, Alec can’t speak for Magnus. But if he's even half as happy as Alec is right now, he’d be perfectly fine falling asleep like this.

But they’ve made a point of trying out different bedrooms each night, trying to make an educated decision about which is the most comfortable so they can sleep in that one on their last night here. And there’s still more bedrooms for them to try than there are nights before they go back-

Oh.

Fuck.

Alec’s been trying not to think about that. It’s been his rule. Literally no thoughts about going home. No thoughts about the Institute. No thoughts about work. Definitely no thoughts about Robert and Maryse, and how openly furious they’d been about this trip.

The only connection he’s had to New York at all this week are the updates he gets from Izzy, Jace, and Clary (well, basically just Izzy and Clary, since Jace is fucking horrible at carrying on conversations without day-long gaps between texts). And even then, it’s been pretty sparse. They’re really putting in an effort to not take any time away from Alec’s vacation. Actually, it’s mostly just updates about Chairman Meow - because Magnus insists on getting a picture of him with full dishes of food and water every time one of them stops by to feed him. One of them sends a picture of the Chairman getting his meal, and Alec and Magnus send back a picture of wherever they happen to be (not including today, obviously). It’s been…

It’s been nice. Fuck, it’s been really nice.

But now the vacation bubble is starting to burst. Because Alec’s thinking about it again.

“How much time do we have left?” he asks quietly, hoping he’s not completely destroying the mood by bringing it up.

“Mm,” Magnus’s eyes are closed, but he gets a little crease between his eyebrows, like he’s thinking about it. “Fifty-five hours? Fifty-four?” He purses his lips. “It depends on how long this particular fuck lasted. I’ve lost track of time.”

Alec feels his face start to heat up, just because Magnus referenced the sex they’d literally just had. But he forces himself to stay calm. “It might be fifty-three then,” he says, fighting to keep his voice from cracking. “I think this was the longest one of the day.”

“Oh no, darling,” Magnus’s mouth curls up into a smirk, even though his voice is calm and dispassionate. “The longest was when you were rimming me in the upstairs library. Longest by far.

Alec’s whole goddamn body heats up so fast he’s afraid he might set the rug on fire. And he realizes that since they’re pressed together like this, Magnus can feel the blush spread across his face and chest, which just makes him blush harder.

Because, now that he thinks about it… Magnus is definitely right. That time lasted much longer than this one. They’d made it a test, to see which would happen first: if Magnus would be able to come, just from that, or if he’d give in and beg Alec to fuck him (and completely unsurprising for both of them, Magnus had come from just that, and then begged Alec to fuck him anyway).

Alec’s body is still burning as hot as the last few logs in the fireplace. But, since it’s already this bad, since it’s not like he can get any more embarrassed than this… he might as well lean into it. “So, um. Wh-what was… Which time do you think we finished the fastest?”

Magnus opens his eyes, and he looks delighted. He hasn’t bothered wasting any magic on glamouring his eyes today, and they look particularly beautiful in the low, flickering light. “Why, sweetheart, that was obviously the time in the bedroom with the squeaky mattress.” His smirk changes from looking playful to looking like a particularly hungry shark, and he tugs at Alec’s hair, just a bit. “Honestly, I should be downright embarrassed about how quickly I came that time. But, of course, I've been waiting months to finally see a live performance of your video…” And because he’s the worst person on earth, he shifts his legs against Alec’s, pulling their hips closer together-

Well, so much for not being able to get more embarrassed.

“Mags-” Alec chokes on his own spit. It’s like his face gets so hot that it circles around and starts feeling cold again. He’s doesn’t think his heart is beating, but his body is so numb with horror that he’s not sure he’d be able to tell either way. He tries to speak. He doesn’t know what he wants to say, but he tries. He tries. He tries to get out one single coherent word.

He stutters for about ten seconds before Magnus finally takes pity on him. He chuckles, and presses a tiny little kiss to the tip of Alec’s nose. “Breathe, darling. I’m only teasing.” He frowns. “Well, I’m not. I’m perfectly serious. But you know what I mean.”

And he shifts again, until his forehead is pressed to Alec’s, and his hand his lightly trailing through Alec’s hair instead of tugging it, and he’s just… breathing. Slow, and deep, and calm.

And without really meaning to, Alec matches the rhythm of his breaths. It only takes a handful of seconds for it to calm him down completely. Until they’re both relaxed. And sleepy. Cuddled together on the floor. Still naked, still desperately in need of cleaning up. But not caring.

Alec closes his eyes - and he’s only slightly worried that he’ll drift off to sleep the moment he does it.

He can’t quite take his mind off of what Magnus just said. Well, not what he’d just said - since Alec’s pretty sure he’ll never be able to think about that particular experience again for as long as he lives without giving himself an embarrassment-induced heart attack. But the rest of it. The rest of this ridiculous, stupid, amazing day. When he was being held up in Magnus’s arms, when Magnus had fucked him up against the massive china hutch in the dining room, and neither of them were completely confident that they weren’t going to knock it over before they were done. When Magnus was straddling his lap, and they were smushed together on an antique sofa that should not have been used quite that roughly, and Alec had said something so stupid that neither of them could stop laughing, until their fit of giggles had gotten so bad that they’d literally given up before either of them finished. When they had sprawled out on the plush, curved staircase in the entryway, because apparently they couldn’t wait thirty seconds to get to the next room? Somehow they’d decided that they absolutely needed to stop, right there on the stairs, so Alec could get Magnus’s cock in his mouth as quickly as possible.

And this time, the time that just happened. On a fur rug. In front of a fireplace. When Alec hadn’t had to do anything. Lying on his stomach, completely limp and useless, with Magnus tugging and arranging his limbs when he needed to. Alec not needing to do a damn thing. Not having to worry about doing something wrong, or messing it up. Not having to worry about anything. Just lying there, useless, powerless… being loved. Without having to do anything to earn it. Magnus loving him, taking him, just because he wanted to. Loving him so well, for such a long time, neither of them even know what time it is anymore. It might be midnight. It might be almost dawn.

Oh, but wondering about the time is just gonna make Alec start thinking about…  

Fifty-five hours.

Well, give or take.

Just a little over two days.

Alec knows that’s still a lot. Fuck, it’s still more time than he’s ever had on a real vacation before. Even the precious last hours of this trip are still so much more than he’s ever had. He’s never…

Damn. He’s never had a vacation before. Yeah, when they were younger, Maryse and Robert would take them to Idris for a few days. But that wasn’t for fun. That was because they needed to be there. And since Alec and his siblings were too young to be allowed in the Clave meetings, they accidentally wound up with a handful of hours a day to do whatever they wanted (within strict nephilim reason, of course).

Alec’s never gone somewhere just for the sake of… being there. Sightseeing. Walking around a strange city just to look at it. Having day after day after day after day with nothing he has to do, no responsibilities, no job, no nothing. Endless hours where he’s allowed to do whatever the fuck he wants, just for the fuck of it. It’s been…

He sighs quietly, and untucks one of his arms from under his face, so he can wrap it around Magnus’s waist instead.

It’s more than just the ‘vacation’ thing. He knows that. It’s not just that he’s in this famous, romantic city, with all this stuff to do, with someone who knows all the best restaurants and all the best places to go and - most importantly - can pay for them to do all of it without batting an eye. Yeah, all of that is fucking incredible, but…

He’s been in a foreign city. For almost a week now. Six days.

Six whole days away from the Institute. Six days where he’s never seen anyone he knows, except for Magnus. Six days where he’s not accountable for anything. He can do whatever he wants, and no one will know.

So no one will know that he wore his brightest lipstick yesterday. Bright, vibrant red. Right on his lips. Out in public, all day. There was glitter in his eyeshadow and bright red on his lips. This week, he’s worn some of Magnus’s necklaces, just to see what it's like. He’s borrowed one of Magnus's less bulky rings. He’s been pretty. Extra pretty. Just because he can.

He can do it, and he has been doing it. All week. This entire week, he’s been so carefully made-up. Wearing soft clothes and bright colors and even jewels. He’s been so pretty. And he doesn’t have to give a shit about what anyone’s thinking. Because no one notices him. No one gives him a second glance.

Partially, it’s because these people don’t know him.

But also, it’s partially because he’s with Magnus.

No one ever looks at him when he’s with Magnus. And that’s perfectly understandable. Because regardless of what it is about Alec’s appearance that would make them stare, Magnus looks the same way, but tenfold. If it’s bad, and they're judging a man for wearing makeup and jewelry and lace, Magnus is always more ornate than Alec. And if it’s good, if they’re staring because they like it, because he looks pretty, well. Magnus is a thousand times more beautiful than Alec. There’s no reason for anyone to look twice at Alec when he’s standing next to Magnus.

And it’s so… freeing. Because Magnus knows what to do with that attention. He knows how to deal with it and react to it and process it, and it’s all fine. The good and the bad. He can handle it.

So he can handle it for Alec, too.

Alec can wear red lipstick, and a necklace with a dozen little rubies, and a black chiffon button-up with a red lace tank top underneath it. He can wear all of that, out on the street, at a cafe, at an opera house… and it’s fine. It’s allowed. All week, he’s been allowed to be as pretty as he damn well pleases. And the only reaction he has to deal with is Magnus’s smile. Day after day after day of prettiness. And Magnus.

Hell, even a day like today, a day when Alec has worn clothes for maybe two hours total (the brief times when it was absolutely necessary for them to take a break and have some food), he was still pretty. He’d just put on one of Magnus’s silk robes. He’d picked a burgundy one, since he knew it would match the leftover makeup still smeared on his face from the night before. Every moment of this trip, Alec has been pretty.

Even now. Stretched out on this soft rug, naked, absolutely filthy from head to toe, he still feels pretty.

It might be because he can still feel those last remnants of makeup on his face. He doesn’t feel bare. Even with how gross he is right now, part of him still feels made-up. Or maybe it’s because as he opens his eyes to watch his hand stroke lightly along Magnus’s side, he can see his nail polish catch the light from the fireplace.

(Alec doesn’t think he’s ever seen Magnus quite as loudly happy as he was when they wandered toward Notre Dame five days ago, and Alec had pointed to the stand across the street. The same woman, still selling her religiously-unapproved nail polishes, after all this time. Alec had quietly examined the rest of the colors while Magnus ecstatically bought out her entire supply of Vin de Messe - which Alec had just happened to be wearing at the time - and one color had caught his eye right away. Pale gold, with just enough shimmer to really sparkle in the sunlight. So beautiful, Alec could barely stand it. He'd felt a strange twinge of nerves when he picked it up, like it was crossing a line, like it was too soft, too delicate, too pretty. Too nice for him. But then he’d asked what it was called, just out of curiosity. And, well, it’s not like there was any chance Magnus would let him pass it up when she’d told them the name. Mon Bon Ange. My Good Angel.)

There’s this beautiful, beautiful gold polish on his nails, glittering every time he moves his fingers. And there’s makeup smudged on his face. Even though he’s completely naked - and he’s been completely naked for most of the day - he’s still pretty. And that’s-

Huh. He hasn’t really thought about it like that. But now… yeah. He realizes that he feels pretty, even though he’s naked. Right now, like this, his naked body is pretty. And…

That’s definitely new.

But Alec doesn’t think it’s… he doesn’t think anything’s changed, really. It’s not like he actually thinks his body is any better than it used to be. It’s just that right now, today, with how things have been going…

It’s been six days. He’s been pretty for six whole days. The entire time. Never having to worry about going too far. Never getting a negative reaction for it. Never having to take off his makeup before a specific person can see it, never having to change out of his lace shirt that doesn’t cover his stomach to put on a ratty old t-shirt instead. Never having to be anything other than pretty. As pretty as he can be.

For six days. Without stop. It’s almost like he’s… used to it now. He’s been lulled into thinking that he always feels like this. So that even now, when he knows he looks like shit, he still feels pretty. Because it’s what he’s been feeling all week.

It’s really fucking nice.

Even though he knows it’s not going to last. In two days, the trip will end, and he’ll have to go home, and he’ll have to stop being this pretty, and he’ll have to say goodbye to Magnus. For the first time in over a week.

He hasn’t had to say goodbye to Magnus in six days. Hell, a few times they didn't even say goodnight to each other, they just kept talking until one of them drifted off (usually Magnus). He’s been with Magnus all week.

Alec doesn’t think he’s ever spent this much time with one person before. Even though he’s been spending more nights at the loft than the Institute lately, he’s never been there six nights in a row. He hasn’t slept in the same bed with someone this much since he was a kid, when he and Jace would sneak into each other’s rooms so they could stay up talking after lights out.

But hell, even then, he and Jace still spent a lot of time apart during the day. He and Magnus have spent every fucking minute together since they got here. They haven’t really had the choice - it’s not like Magnus is going to abandon Alec somewhere in a strange country so he can go do other things. Which means…

Which means that this is the first time in over a year that they’ve spent enough time together to get… annoyed. Sick of each other. Not a lot. Not even a little, really. Just… sometimes. It’s not like it’s bad, and they can’t stand each other. It’s just once in awhile, the excitement wears off, and there’s a palpable awareness that they’re still only spending time with each other, after all these days. It goes away quickly (taking their morning showers separate instead of together, splitting up for a bit when they’re wandering through a shop, even just letting there be a longer gap than usual in a conversation), and it doesn’t cause any problems, but still. It’s new.

Except, Alec almost, sort of… likes it.

It sounds horrible. He’s probably an idiot for thinking it. But he likes knowing that they can get sick of each other and not have to… worry. They can let it happen. Let it go away. Let it fix itself, without it being a big deal. Alec likes knowing that things can be less-than-perfect, without being bad. It’s comforting. It feels safer, somehow.

Also, he just likes the fact that they’ve finally spent enough time together to reach this point. Up until now, it’s always been such a struggle to see each other. Fitting together their schedules, scraping together enough time for a real ‘date’, taking what they can get. It’s normal for them to go days or even weeks without seeing each other in person. Alec’s grateful just to fall asleep alone in Magnus’s bed, and sort-of wake up when Magnus eventually settles in next to him in the middle of the night. Kissing Magnus goodbye at the crack of dawn, and getting to hear his sleepy gibberish in response. That’s what he’s used to getting.

And now, it’s constant.

And it’s definitely an improvement.

Being with Magnus all day. Eating meals together, not because it’s the only time they could find for a date, but just because they're hungry, and they’re already together. Getting to do things that aren’t important. Going shopping without it being Alec’s one chance to let Magnus buy him something nice. Walking around the city for hours with no destination in mind, because they don’t have a limited amount of time. Having all these little moments that aren’t important, that aren’t special or meaningful, because they don’t have to be. Having enough time to get to waste time.

It’s new for them. And it’s amazing.

Some of it is specific to Paris. Alec’s aware of that. He’s been very aware, all week, that a lot of this niceness has something to do with how out of his element he is in this city. He doesn’t know where anything is. He doesn’t know where to go, or what to do. He doesn’t speak the language.

Which means Magnus gets to do it all. Magnus takes them to places he’s already been. Magnus picks the restaurants he knows are the best. Magnus orders for Alec, because he can talk to the waiter. Magnus talks to the shopkeepers for Alec, because he can ask them any questions that Alec has. Magnus talks to everyone. For Alec.

It’s a weird thought. But it’s not like Magnus is choosing what to say for Alec. He’s just translating. But it means that… Alec doesn’t have to worry. About phrasing anything in a stupid way. About stuttering, or tripping over his words. About something sounding good in his head, but then coming out wrong. He can let Magnus talk for him. Because Magnus understands what he wants to say. Alec can trust Magnus to speak for him, and do it right. Better than… better than Alec can speak for himself, even.

So he doesn’t have to worry about speaking right and he doesn’t have to worry about what they’re doing and he doesn’t have to worry about how much time they’re taking and he doesn’t have to worry about how pretty he is and-

And godfuckingdammit how the fucking fuck is he going to survive going back to the Institute after this?

Magnus makes an unhappy little noise. “Darling, how can you possibly be so tense right now? Surely by now we must have managed to fuck all the stress out of you.”

Alec laughs - but only in hopes that it’ll keep him from blushing. “No, I just-” his voice chokes off. He can tell he wants to say something, but he’s not sure what it is yet. He takes a breath, and tries again. “It’s… Only fifty-five hours left. I’m just… I know that’s a lot of time, but still.” He sighs out through his nose. “I like… this. I like being here. I like…” he shifts his face a bit, like he’s trying to hide himself in the rug, even though his eyes are closed again and he can’t see Magnus anyway. “I like getting to spend this much time with you. It’s a lot- a lot more than we usually…”

Goddammit, why is this so fucking difficult? It’s just words. He’s feeling so much right now; why can’t he get any of it out of his fucking mouth?

“I… I re-” he takes another breath, and hopes Magnus can’t tell how frustrating this is for him. “I really love being with you.”

Oh.

That was… yeah. That was good.

Well, maybe not good, but it was at least accurate.

Alec opens his eyes, suddenly overwhelmed with how much he wants to see Magnus again, instead of just feeling the heat from his body and his breath on Alec’s face. He tilts his head a bit-

And Magnus is already looking at him.

By the Angel.

It’s been a year now. Hell, it’s been more than a year. But Alec still can’t…

He still can’t keep his heart from speeding up when he sees Magnus looking at him like this. His gold eyes so close, so open, so focused. On him. And nothing else. Every time Alec sees it…

Except.

Except now that he thinks about it, Alec doesn’t think he’s ever seen Magnus look at him like this. Not quite like this. This much… intensity. This much seriousness.

This much love.

His hand is still resting on Alec’s head, still trailing lazily through his hair. But as he keeps looking at Alec like this, his hand stops moving. So his fingers are still in Alec’s hair, but his palm is cupping Alec’s jaw. His hand is so warm.

And he’s still looking at Alec.

Alec wants to tell him. Needs to tell him. How much he loves him. He needs to say it.

But he’s afraid his voice will give out. He doesn’t know why, but for some reason, seeing Magnus just look at him like this, second after second, he feels… shy. Like anything he could say would be so inadequate compared to the look in Magnus’s eyes.

So Alec just smiles, as best he can, and says, “I don’t know how I’m supposed to go back to the Institute after this. It’s gonna suck.” It’s silly. And it’s weak. Especially in a moment like this.

But it’s true.

Magnus just keeps… looking at him. For what feels like it could be minutes. And then, he quietly says, “Then don’t.”

And Alec…

Alec doesn’t know what to do with that. “What?”

Magnus brushes his thumb across Alec’s cheek. His look changes a bit, no less intense, but somehow… What is that? Is he…

He can’t be nervous, can he?

“Don’t go back to the Institute.”

Alec chuckles, since he doesn’t know what else to do. “Mags, it was hard enough to get away for a week. If I stay any longer, they’re gonna hunt me down-”

“No, I mean,” Magnus interrupts with a little smile - and, when was the last time Magnus had to clarify what he means? He keeps stroking his thumb across Alec’s cheek. Keeps looking at him. “Don’t go home to the Institute. Come home to the loft.”

Alec’s heart twists up, like it’s somehow racing and skipping beats simultaneously. Because that… that almost sounds like…

“Magnus?”

Magnus smiles again, that little smile that would look almost shy if it weren’t so ridiculous to think that Magnus Bane could be shy about anything. “Move in with me, Alexander.”

Alec feels something, deep in his stomach. It’s…

It doesn’t really feel like surprise? Not entirely, anyway. They haven’t actually talked about it before, but they’ve sort of… skirted around the idea. Never ‘What would it be like if we lived together?’ but sometimes ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to leave?’ or ‘I sleep better when you’re here.’ Magnus has dropped… hints. Alec’s section of the bedroom closet has been getting bigger and bigger. The kitchen is always stocked with food, not magicked up as needed. Magnus has ‘casually’ mentioned several times that even when Alec isn’t there, Chairman Meow still sleeps at the foot of the bed, instead of taking back the spot Alec has stolen from him.

But he’s never actually…

And Alec had just assumed that if they’d made it this far, if they’ve been together for over a year now, and Magnus still hadn’t actually talked about it directly… he must not want it. And now he’s-

Alec’s thought about it a lot, in a way. He’s thought about it, but desperately tried not to think about it. Because it seemed stupid to let himself get caught up in wanting something like that when he assumed he’d never have it. But he’s still thought about it. Getting to go back to the loft every night, not just one or two nights a week (if he’s lucky). Getting to feel the way he feels at the loft, getting to feel so safe and accepted and loved… not just once in awhile on days when he can catch a break, but… always. Not as some sort of special treat for himself. Having that just be… his life. Always being allowed to have that. Every day. Always, and-

Shit. Has he still not said anything?

Magnus is still looking at him. But his smile is getting smaller. He’s looking less and less hopeful and more and more…

Nervous.

Like he doesn’t know what Alec’s going to say.

Alec laughs. Well, he tries to laugh. All that comes out is a weak, shaky exhale. But he’s smiling, with his mouth still a little bit open.

Because it honestly looks like Magnus isn’t sure what Alec’s going to say to this. To something like this. It’s like he thinks there might be any chance in the world that Alec would say no. By the Angel, how could he possibly…

Of course, Alec doesn’t say any of this. He can’t. Because - like always, when there’s something important happening - Alec’s whole body shuts down. He can’t think of any words. Can’t remember how to nod. He’s still just… looking at Magnus. Watching Magnus watch him. Smiling, a little bit.

And, of course, the first word he can get out of his mouth is just, “Yeah.”

It’s woefully inadequate. What’s being offered to him… and he just says yeah. It’s pathetic.

Magnus’s smile gets bigger. But just a little bit. And his eyebrows tilt up, enough to wrinkle his forehead. “Really?”

This time, Alec actually does manage a genuine laugh. Because he’s not sure if he’s ever been on this side of that question. He doesn’t think it’s ever been his job to smile, and move his face in a little closer, and say, “Really.”

It kinda sounds like Magnus starts to say something, but he must change his mind pretty quickly, because he’s kissing Alec before an actual word can get out.

And it’s such a nice kiss. Slow, and easy, but there’s just… so much to it. So much weight behind it. Because…

Fuck.

Because this is a big deal.

This is a fucking huge deal. They’ve just-

Alec feels Magnus smile against his lips, and it makes him laugh a little into the kiss. Magnus must be aware of it too. He must be aware of the fact that they’ve just done something big. They’ve just… fuck. They just decided to live together. That’s a legitimate, important, actually life-changing decision.

And they made it while they’re bare-ass naked on the floor of a castle in Paris.

It should probably be a… discussion or something. They should sit down and talk about it seriously. The decision is a big deal, so making the decision should be a big deal too. Not half a dozen words whispered to each other on a post-coital vacation high.

But somehow, that just…

Makes sense.

Alec doesn’t need a serious discussion to know he wants to do this. To know this is the best thing he could possibly do. Hell, he probably could have made the decision with even less, if that were possible. He doesn’t need to think about this. He knows.

And really, when he considers their current situation… that makes sense too. It may not be the most normal setting for life-changing decisions, but still. He’s comfortable. He’s happy. He’s pretty. He’s loved. He feels all of it, all at once, more than he’s ever felt any of it in his entire life. So, honestly, it’s the perfect time and place to realize that he can still have this. Every day.

Every day.

At some point, Alec must have shifted, because now he’s on his side instead of his stomach, and Magnus is completely pressed to him. Still kissing him. Achingly tender kisses. And this is…

This is Alec’s life now.

Yeah, they’ll leave Paris. They’ll leave this ridiculous castle and the vacation will end and they’ll go back to real life. Back to their jobs, and their horrific schedules. Alec will go back to the Institute. Back to his parents and his responsibilities and his horrible gray clothes and the people who don’t bother to hide their disdain and disapproval when they see anything pretty on his face.

But then, he’ll get to go home.

Every single day, once everything else is over, he’ll get to go back to the loft. Back to Magnus.

Alec makes a stupid sound before he can even try to stop himself.

But Magnus doesn’t seem to mind, since he just deepens the kiss. And he gently pushes Alec over onto his back, so he can settle himself between Alec’s legs.

And it’s good, it’s really good, and with everything else it’s so good it’s overwhelming, and Alec doesn’t know how he’s supposed to handle all of this without passing out right here on the rug, but then-

“Mm-Mags-” he mutters between kisses (which are getting significantly more heated), “I wa- I was serious, before.” He turns his face a bit so Magnus will have to let him get out a full sentence. “Please don’t make my dick fall off.” Because this is getting a little too good, and Magnus’s kisses are getting a little too deep, and his hips are pressed a little too firmly against Alec’s poor, overused crotch. He’s pretty sure he’s gonna feel overstimulated for a few months after this.

Magnus makes what was probably supposed to be a sympathetic hum, but the giggles that break it up make it sound very insincere. With Alec’s mouth out of his reach, he gives all his kissing attention to his cheek and jaw instead. “Don’t worry, darling,” he says in an obviously teasing tone, “I’ll fix it for you when we go home.”

Alec somehow manages to laugh and groan at the same time - because it’s a funny idea, but he’d really rather avoid getting his dick so broken that it actually needs to be fixed. But… more than that…

Alec smiles, and nibbles his lower lip. “When we what?” he asks quietly, hoping he doesn’t sound too stupid for asking.

Magnus lifts his face away. Far enough for Alec to see him. To see that he’s smiling. “When we go home,” he repeats. And…

Hm.

Yeah.

That’s got a nice ring to it.

 


 

Alec loves using his key.

How could he not? He’s the only one who has one. He’s the only person in the entire world that has an actual key to this loft. Even though Magnus specifically had keys cut just so he could give one to Alec, he hadn’t kept one for himself. He never uses a key. He just… wooshes the door open. Flicks his hand, and it’s locked. Alec is the only one with an actual key to this apartment. And he loves that. He loves getting to let himself in, whenever he wants. He loves having that ability. That right.

But tonight, he loves it even more than usual.

Because he’s not unlocking the door to Magnus’s apartment. He’s unlocking the door to their apartment.

It’s not the first time he’s been here since he moved in. But it’s the first time he’s let himself in. The first time he’s come back after a day at the Institute. The first time he’s come home by himself.

It shouldn’t be any different, really. Alec moved all of his stuff in yesterday (but it’s not like he has much stuff anyway). He slept here. He fell asleep with Magnus wrapped around him. He kissed Magnus goodbye before he left this morning - and Magnus had almost managed to get out a coherent goodbye of his own before falling back to sleep. Alec’s already officially ‘lived’ here for a full day now.

But this is the first time he’s been here alone since this became his home. That’s what’s different. Every other time he’s been here without Magnus, there was such a strong awareness that it was Magnus’s place, not his. He had to respect that. It was… weirdly terrifying.

Now, he’s home.

He'd assumed there would be some sort of… adjustment period. Where he had to get used to the idea that he lives here too, that this place is also his now. Knowing himself, he figured it’d take a nice long while to feel comfortable with that.

But now, standing just inside the door, after a tedious day of mission debriefings and filing reports for the Clave and dealing with his parents lurking around every corner, Alec realizes that he’s-

He’s comfortable here. Comfortable in his home.

He’s just starting to wrestle out of his boots when Chairman Meow seems to appear out of midair to pounce on his toes.

“Excuse me, Chairman,” Alec says gently as he sets down his bag and tries to nudge the cat away, so he can pull off his other boot without getting claws caught in his socks.

The Chairman meows at him. Loudly. Several times.

Fuck. It shouldn’t be so adorable. The Chairman has gotten significantly bigger since Alec first met him, and he’s definitely a fully-grown cat now instead of a tiny kitten. He’s an adult now. His meow shouldn’t still be so small and precious. It’s not fair.

And he doesn’t stop meowing until Alec goes into the kitchen to feed him (because even though Magnus has an automatic feeder that lasts a couple of days, when he’s not planning on being away from the loft he basically never remembers to fill it).

Once that’s taken care of, Alec goes right to the bedroom. And to the closet.

This isn’t exactly new. By now, it’s pretty much a habit for him to change his clothes whenever he knows he’s going to be spending the night. Once he knows he’s done for the day, and he’s not going anywhere else, and the only person who’ll see him is Magnus. Then he changes out of his horrible, dark, functional clothes and gear… and picks something else.

He doesn’t think it's too strange. A lot of people wear different things at work than they do at home. Just because his ripped jeans and old t-shirt aren’t technically a ‘uniform’, it doesn’t mean that he can’t justify wanting to wear something different once the work day is done.

Alec flicks on the closet light-

Oh.

Right.

All of his clothes are here.

He’s been steadily leaving more and more clothes here over the past year, so it’s really not a huge difference at this point. But still.

The entire back wall is his now. He’d insisted many times that he doesn’t have enough clothes to fill the entire back wall, but Magnus apparently doesn’t care. Alec can only assume a good chunk of Magnus’s clothes are floating in some sort of magical storage unit right now, just so Alec’s clothes can sparsely cover the rack by themselves. His shoes don’t even come close to filling up the shelf above the hangers. And even though Alec has a ridiculously large quantity of underwear now, each pair is so small that it barely makes sense for him to have one drawer in the dresser to himself, much less two.

But even though it doesn’t make much sense, even though it’s not the most logical use of closet space…

It’s still nice. Seeing all of his clothes, right next to Magnus’s. His boring, nasty work clothes are all shoved to one side, so he doesn’t have to give them much thought. And the rest of it is…

Alec smiles. Because it’s nice. It’s so fucking nice to get to hang up his faded jeans and blank t-shirt, to be left in just a soft, light blue thong, and to choose something else. Whatever he wants. Without having to worry. Without having to care.

His wardrobe has certainly gotten more… interesting over the past few months. Alec still doesn’t know where Magnus finds half of this stuff. Yeah, sometimes he and Alec actually get to go shopping together, so Alec knows exactly where it comes from. But more often than not, Alec goes to find something in the closet, and there’s something new. Sometimes several somethings. He doesn’t always like it (mercifully Magnus has never bought him anything that can’t be returned), but for the most part, Magnus knows Alec. Knows what he likes.

But that doesn’t make the clothing’s origins any less mysterious.

Well, this tank top isn’t too mysterious. It’s just a maroon tank top. It’s intentionally very loose and flowy, so Alec can’t tell what type of body it was made for. It’s loose, and it’s short enough in the front that it shows off all of Alec’s stomach. But it’s not particularly remarkable. Magnus could have gotten it anywhere.

The shorts, however, are definitely a bit more confusing. Because they’re short. They’re like, short. Alec used to wear boxers that were longer than these shorts. Alec’s only ever seen denim shorts like this in women’s clothing stores, but these definitely have… room, in the right places. They were definitely made for a guy to wear. Alec doesn’t know where the fuck Magnus found them.

But it’s not like he’s complaining. And… since it’s still relatively early, and Alec knows he’s gonna get to wear this for a few hours before going to bed…

He might as well…

It’s already a nice outfit. It’s comfortable, and it’s pretty, and he likes it. He doesn’t just like the feel of it, how it feels on his body while he’s wearing it. He likes the look of it. Whenever he happens to glance down. When he catches his reflection in the bathroom mirror, or even the living room windows. He likes looking like this.

So while he has the chance, he might as well go all-out.

Since it’s not a special occasion, and he’s planning on actually doing stuff before going to bed, he chooses one of his less-nice pairs of stockings. One that’s got some runs, and holes in the toes. He keeps his stockings until they’re literally so torn up that they can’t actually cover his legs anymore. After all, it’s not like he wears them out of the house, so it doesn’t matter if they’re a little rough.

He takes them out into the bedroom, so he can sit on the edge of the bed to put them on. This pair isn’t anything special, just skin-colored, with a little bit of that silky shine. His big toe sticks out of one of them, and the other one has a run that goes all the way from his heel to the back of his knee. But he doesn’t mind. He’s not wearing them for the coverage right now.

He’s wearing them because they only go up to his thighs.

And these shorts are so short, they don’t cover his thighs at all.

Alec smiles to himself as he smooths out the tops of the stockings. These ones don’t need garters, they have that tight, sticky-ish elastic on the inside to keep them up. And on the outside, it’s a border of lace. Thick lace, that matches his skin tone.

It’s such a small detail.

But in an outfit like this, he loves it. His shorts end, and then there’s a little band of lace on his legs. Clearly visible. A little bumpy under his fingertips.

It’s probably ridiculous, now that he thinks about it. Wearing nylons with a pair of shorts. He’s supposed to wear these with something fancy. He probably looks like an idiot.

Well. If he looks like an idiot, at least he looks like a very pretty idiot.

And besides, who’s going to see him? No one but Magnus. And he knows Magnus won’t mind.

He wore makeup today (since he officially has no more fucks to give about Maryse or Robert seeing it), so that’s already taken care of. But it’s been a ridiculous amount of hours since he’d put it on this morning, and he hasn’t checked on it since. He might want a new coat of lip gloss by now. He goes into the bathroom to give himself a once-over…

And there’s-

Alec sucks in a breath, and feels his jaw tremble.

Because there’s…

There’s two sinks.

Alec blinks, too hard. There was only one sink this morning. There’s been one sink in this bathroom for the past year. There’s only ever been one sink in this bathroom.

And now… there’s two. Spaced evenly in the massive marble countertop. They’re identical, so Alec isn’t sure which one was just moved over a bit, and which one is new.

But he knows which one is his. Because next to the sink on the right (the same as his side of the bed), there’s his makeup case. Sitting right next to the sink. His sink.

Alec doesn’t really register that he’s moving until he’s standing over the sink. Just… looking at it.

And it’s almost kinda stupid. Because it’s a sink. It’s just a fucking sink.

A sink that Magnus put here, just for him. And then he’d dug Alec’s makeup case out from the cupboard, and put it out on the counter. Not sloppily, either. It’s at a nice, presentational angle. It was put there carefully. Next to Alec’s sink.

He makes sure he doesn’t actually move his makeup case as he opens it, and fishes out the lip gloss he’d worn today. He glances up to the mirror-

And he’s smiling.

And he keeps smiling as he reapplies his lip gloss. Because he’s got this pretty makeup (that’s held up remarkably well throughout the day), and his short tank top, and his short shorts, and the border of lace on his thighs… and he’s seeing all of this in the mirror over his sink. In his bathroom. In his home.

Alec shakes his head, trying to snap himself out of… whatever this is, before it can get any worse. He’s got shit to do, after all. He puts away his lip gloss, lets himself have one more look in the mirror…

And he gets to work.

He goes back to the front door to pick up his abandoned shopping bag. It’s not a full load, but it’ll do for now. He knows he can’t afford everything, and he’ll need to convince Magnus to take him on a spree if he wants to get everything on his list, but he can still work with this. He empties the oversized plastic bag on the couch.

Washcloths. A duster. Three spray bottles: bleach, Windex, and an all-purpose cleaner. And a hand-broom and dustpan (he’d wanted to get a full-sized broom, but he didn’t want to have to carry it all the way here from the store).

He smiles. Yeah, this’ll be fine for tonight.

It’s not like the apartment is actually dirty right now. Magnus gives the whole thing a… a magical blue something, every few days. And it gets rid of everything. Dust, crumbs, cobwebs, cat litter, even all the garbage. He does it without a second thought, whenever it's necessary.

Or at least, he used to.

Alec grabs a washcloth, and the Windex.

Because he doesn’t pay rent. Magnus hasn’t actually made a payment on this place in decades. And he’s flat-out refused to let Alec pay anything like the gas or electric bills - since, according to him, the Institute gives Alec a “criminally low” amount of money, and it’d be “cruel and unjust” to make Alec strain himself financially when Magnus absolutely doesn’t need the help. And on top of all that, Magnus just keeps buying him shit. Magnus has been spending ludicrous amounts of money on Alec damn near every day since their first date (though Magnus has explained, many times, that it’s because using his obscene wealth to pamper the shit out of people is one of the only ways he knows how to show affection).

So Alec is doing literally nothing to earn his keep. And back when he was just a guest, he had no choice but to accept that.

But he lives here now. So it’s about damn time for that to change.

He’s just gonna do the inside of the windows, for now. It’s a little chilly out now that the sun’s set. And in this outfit…

He’s always wanted to wash these windows. It’s a dumb thought, it’s a really dumb thought, but it’s true. Because they’re just so massive. And Alec doesn’t mind cleaning. He actually kinda likes it. He likes having things clean, and there’s something extra satisfying about knowing he did something to make it that way.

Though after almost an hour goes by at the windows, and he’s still not done, some of the excitement wears off. It’s not bad, but it’s definitely not enjoyable anymore. And it doesn’t help that even he isn’t tall enough to reach the top. Why are the ceilings in here so fucking high? Alec’s not used to needing help to reach things. He tries standing on his tip-toes to see if he can just barely get to the top pane of glass-

The door opens.

And, like the pathetic loser he is, Alec feels his heart speed up a bit. He turns away from the windows.

Magnus is leaning in the doorway, smiling a crooked smile. He raises one eyebrow. “Honey, I’m home?” he suggests, in a playful tone.

Alec smiles back at him, and opens his mouth to-

Holy fuck.

“Holy fuck!”

Magnus is fucking soaked, from head to toe. Well, maybe not soaked; he’s not dripping or anything. But he’s definitely damp. His hair is limp, and falling down onto his face, and his clothes are hanging on him too heavily.

“Mags, by the Angel, are you okay?” Alec drops his rag on the floor and starts toward him-

Magnus shakes his head dismissively. “Fine, darling. It was wave. I wasn’t in the water, it just-” he makes a weak gesture at his face, “hit me.”

Well, fuck, that doesn’t really make it sound much better in Alec’s opinion. He knew Magnus’s evening appointment was with a mermaid, so maybe this is just some sort of occupational water hazard that Magnus was prepared for? But still. He must be completely burned out of magic if he didn’t even use any to dry himself off right away. And, fuck, did he walk all the way back here? In the cold, in wet clothes… in wet clothes - Alec can’t even comprehend how Magnus is so calm about this.

Then again, with how heavily he’s leaning against the doorframe, maybe he’s literally too exhausted to be uncomfortable.

“Here, you should change into something dry.” Alec slips his arm around Magnus’s back to help him get going, and- yep. His clothes are drenched, and cold.

But once Alec’s arm is around him, Magnus gets other ideas, because he sort of… falls against him. Not like he can’t hold himself up, just like he really, really wants a hug. He presses his face against Alec’s neck and breathes in deeply. He rests his hands on Alec’s sides - and Alec has to fight to keep from flinching at how cold they are against his bare skin.

After a few moments, Magnus pulls away just far enough to glance down, presumably at Alec’s outfit. And he groans, loud, and almost petulant. “Why are you so goddamn cute?”

Alec chokes on a little laugh, but deflects quickly. “Come on.” He starts leading Magnus toward the bedroom. And to make sure the subject of his appearance is completely ignored, he says, “Hey, I don’t know if you saw, but apparently the bathroom got remodeled today?”

Magnus hums, with only mild interest. “I hadn’t noticed.” He says it casually, but Alec can see him trying to hide a smile.

Alec smiles to himself as he sits Magnus down on the edge of the bed. He runs into the bathroom to grab a clean towel, and then to the closet to pick out a robe for him. He knows Magnus usually prefers one of his many ornate, embroidered silk robes, but Alec manages to find something warm and fluffy that should suit the situation a little better.

When he gets back into the bedroom, Magnus is leaning against the bedpost, struggling to keep his eyes open. Alec can’t imagine how horrified he’ll be when he gets the energy to realize that his wet clothes are probably staining the bedspread.

“You should take a nap,” Alec says as he lays the robe next to Magnus.

“Nnngh.” Magnus frowns. “Alexander, I am over four hundred years old. I do not take naps.

Alec just barely manages to keep himself from laughing. “Fine. But you definitely need to dry off.” He holds out the towel…

Magnus makes another unhappy sound, and rolls his eyes.

Well, fine then.

Alec spreads the towel out between his hands, and drops it on Magnus’s head.

Magnus jolts a little, and chokes on something that might have been a word-

But he doesn’t actually protest as Alec starts gently ruffling the towel through his hair. And maybe he grumbles a little bit under his breath, but Alec ignores it. “What do you want for dinner?”

Magnus scoffs. “It doesn’t matter,” he says, voice muffled by the towel covering his face, “because whatever it is, I’ll be getting it myself.”

“Hm.” Alec keeps his voice light, keeps softly drying Magnus’s hair. “I mean, you could, but it won’t make much sense, since I’ll have already made it by then.”

“Alexander, you are not going to make dinner for me,” Magnus says with what must be all the force he can muster, but with how tired he is, it’s not much.

Alec pulls back the towel a bit, enough to free Magnus’s face, but still keep his hair covered. “See, that’s the problem.” He tries to sound serious, but there’s this stupid smile that won’t get off of his fucking face, and it’s ruining his tone. “You know that whole ‘This is Magnus’s place and I have to respect that and follow the rules’ thing? That’s done. I live here now.” And since he’s feeling particularly bold, he gently tilts up Magnus’s chin with the side of his finger, so he has to really look at him. “You can’t tell me what to do anymore.”

Magnus’s eyes get a little wide. His lips are parted and moving, like he can’t decide what expression he wants to make. But after a few seconds, he settles on a smirk. He closes his eyes, and tilts his head so it’s resting on the bedpost again. “This whole thing was a horrific mistake. Worst decision I’ve ever made. I regret it already.” His smile grows as he speaks.

And, well. Alec can’t help himself. He bends down to kiss Magnus’s forehead. Lightly. Just for a second. “Please change out of those wet clothes. You’ll feel better.” Even though a big part of him wants to pull Magnus into bed and cuddle the shit out of him for the rest of the night, he makes himself move away. Back toward the door. Because he's got a job to do. “I’m gonna go make dinner, whether you like it or not.”

“Alexander?”

Alec stops in the doorway. “Hm?” He turns back.

The towel’s slipped off of Magnus’s head, but it’s still slung around his shoulders. His damp hair is standing up in a bunch of weird directions. He’s still leaning against the bedpost, completely slumped over himself, like he might nod off at any second.

But he’s smiling. That little smile, the one that’s just for Alec. “Welcome home.”

Alec smiles.

Yeah.

That's definitely got a nice ring to it.

 

 

Chapter Text

Why the fuck is this bed so big?

Alec doesn’t get it. There are only two of them. They don’t need so much space, just to sleep.

And hell, when Magnus bought this bed, there was only one of him.

What the fuck?

How the fuck did Magnus survive sleeping all by himself, for all those years, in a bed the size of Rhode Island? What did he do with all the extra space? If Alec were to lie in the very center of the bed, and stretch out all of his limbs as far as possible, he still wouldn’t be anywhere near the corners. This bed is a crime against common sense, really. No one needs this much space. Not Magnus and Alec, not Magnus by himself, and-

And definitely not Alec by himself.

How does he usually do it?

He’s slept alone in this bed so many times. So many times. He’s been sleeping in this bed for five and a half years. And even if it’s commonplace for Magnus to be home before bedtime now, that wasn’t always the case. Alec has plenty of experience falling asleep alone in this bed, hours before Magnus gets home. Sometimes because Magnus’s work schedule is so unusual, and sometimes just because he wanted to go out and do sociable shit when Alec wanted a quiet night at home (though obviously that doesn’t happen anymore. Magnus can’t really get away with going out to a club instead of being home for dinner these days). And it’s never been a problem.

So why is it so fucking impossible for Alec to fall asleep right now?

It shouldn’t be that different. His internal sleep sensors can’t be so finely tuned that they can tell that Magnus isn’t coming home tonight. They can’t know. There’s no reason for Alec’s body to think this is any different than the countless nights he’s fallen asleep alone, knowing Magnus would be joining him before morning.

Alec risks a glance at the clock on his nightstand…

1:17 am.

Fuck.

Fucking fuck fuck fuck fuck.

He’s been in bed for over three hours. And he hasn’t felt the slightest bit tired. He was fucking exhausted right up until he actually got into bed, of course. But now…

The fucking bed is just too goddamn big. There’s too much space. Alec isn’t used to all this big empty mattress anymore. He’s not supposed to be all lonely and cold and non-snuggled at night. He’s got a fiance to take care of that for him.

But now his fiance is all the way in London for two days, and it’s not like Alec can’t handle two measly days without him, but…

The bed is just so big.

Alec scrubs his hands through his hair. He’s wide awake. He can’t fall asleep like this.

For lack of a better option, he unplugs his phone from the charger and checks his messages.

Nothing.

Obviously, since it’s one in the fucking morning.

Well, technically there’s not nothing. There are actually a whopping sixteen new texts in his notifications, but they’re all in his group chat with Lily and Maia. Because no matter how many times Alec tries to remind them that the group chat is for official, work-related, important, downworlder-shadowhunter liaison stuff, it always devolves into a regular old text thread for the two of them. And Alec just doesn’t care about reading their debate over which club to go to on Friday. By now, he’s long-since silenced his notifications for that particular thread, and they know to call him when they have actual business to discuss. By the Angel, he may love those girls, but he sincerely hopes that he and Magnus were never so gooey with each other in front of other people, particularly in any damn group texts. He wonders if the rest of the clan and the pack are aware of just how many emojis are being sent between their leaders on a regular basis.

But apart from that, there’s nothing. Which, Alec reminds himself for the millionth time tonight, is a good thing. The time difference means Magnus has probably been asleep for a while, and won’t wake up for a few more hours. And even when he is awake, he’s fucking busy, so it’s not like he’s gonna be texting Alec every five minutes. Yesterday he was taking care of the actual job portion of the trip, and today, since he’s in London already, he’s taking the opportunity to visit Tessa. Alec knows not to expect any texts from him right now.

And he also knows not to expect any texts from Luke and Jocelyn right now. Because everything is fine. Max is fine. If at any point, Max were suddenly not fine, they would call him. They are perfectly capable of a watching a four-year-old for one night.

Hell, they’re a lot more qualified to watch a kid than Alec is. They’ve actually done it before. Yeah, it's been quite a while since Clary was a toddler, but still. She turned out just fine. Alec has proof that Jocelyn and Luke can raise a well-adjusted child. As far as his own child-rearing skills are concerned, Alec is still just… hoping for the best.

Alec pulls up his last texts from Luke. They’re all standard. Saying when they put Max to bed. Saying everything is perfectly fine. Saying when he and Jocelyn were going to bed, and specifying that they’d call him if they needed to.

It’s all standard, because it’s not like this is the first time this has happened. Max loves sleepovers. He always has. And Magnus and Alec have a lot of people in their lives who are more than willing to take him for a night. It started as something that Magnus and Alec would actively encourage - because having a night to themselves once every few months was certainly an attractive idea. But by now, Max can barely go two or three weeks before he’s begging them to let him have a sleepover. So between Luke and Jocelyn and Clary and Jace and Simon and Isabelle and Robert and Maryse (now that they’ve both been non-horrible for long enough that Magnus and Alec have decided to give them both unsupervised babysitting privileges) and Catarina and even Maia every now and then, Max has spent plenty of nights away from the loft. This isn’t new. This is standard. This is routine. Alec knows how to deal with this.

He reads the texts again. They’re all from hours ago.

Max has been in bed for hours.

So Alec is not going to call to make them check on him.

He’s not.

He’s not.

He’d said goodnight and everything. Before Alec left Jocelyn and Luke’s place after dinner, he’d gone through the whole bedtime ritual. Magnus had interrupted the meeting with his client so he could skype in, too. The four of them had done all of the usual night-time stuff.

(Though that was when Rafe had abruptly decided that he didn’t want to stay, that he wanted to go back home with Alec. He’s never spent a night away from the loft, so it wasn’t too surprising. Alec’s just glad Rafe made the decision while Alec was still there, and it didn’t turn into a panic in the middle of the night. Max is used to sleeping somewhere else by himself, so the sudden change in plans wasn’t a problem for anyone.)

Alec should be fine with this. He should be totally fine with this. He and Magnus said goodnight to both of the kids. Alec had even tucked Rafe into his own bed, just like every other night. Both of his kids are just fine. They’re both sound asleep. Magnus is probably asleep too. Everyone is fine. Everyone is asleep.

Everyone but Alec.

Because Max is almost half an hour away, and Magnus is like, seven hours away - going by time difference - and even Rafe is an entire room away, and where the fuck are the cats? Even they’ve abandoned Alec tonight, just like everybody else.

This bed is just so… big.

So empty.

Alec drops his phone back on the nightstand.

He starts to run his hands through his hair again, but he stops. With his hands on his forehead. The heels of them pressed against his closed eyes.

Why can’t he sleep?

He takes a deep breath, and slowly sighs it out, letting it flub his lips.

Well, he’s not gonna check on Magnus, and he’s not gonna check on Max.

But there’s no reason he can’t check on Rafe.

Alec had always assumed the whole ‘check on the kids in the middle of the night to make sure everyone’s still breathing’ thing would go away once Max made the transition from baby to toddler. Yet here Alec is, with one toddler, and one child old enough to just be considered a kid and nothing else, and it’s still habit for him to poke his head into their room at least once every damn night.

And in almost four years, nothing has ever been wrong. Maybe, maybe there’s a blanket or a stuffed animal that’s been knocked to the floor for Alec to pick up and put back on someone’s bed, but that’s it. With one kid who constantly moves and twitches in his sleep, and one kid who snores even louder than Jace, it’s pretty easy to tell that everything’s okay without having to do much investigating. Alec is fully expecting to push open the propped door a few extra inches, get a good look at Rafe shifting around or kicking off his blanket, and that’ll be it.

Alec is definitely not expecting to push open the door-

And see Rafe, out of bed, right in front of him, reaching for the door as it opens.

There’s a moment where they’re both so obviously taken by surprise that neither of them actually do anything. They’re just frozen, a little wide-eyed, Alec’s hand on the door, Rafe’s hand in midair, halfway to the doorknob.

Alec recovers himself first. “Hey, mijo.” Though his instinct is to panic, he decides to not immediately leap to crisis mode (since it’s entirely possible Rafe’s up for a perfectly normal reason), and instead he asks, “Everything okay?”

Rafe finally pulls his hand back from where he’d been reaching for the door. And he presses the side of his thumb to his mouth, which-

Shit.

Which means no, everything’s not okay.

Alec crouches down, resting his arms on his knees, trying to stay at Rafe's eye-level (even though Rafe’s eyes are fixed on the carpet). “What’s wrong, mijo?”

Rafe rubs his hand across his mouth a bit, but he doesn’t look like he’s gonna talk.

Alec looks him over. He doesn’t look groggy, like he would if he’d just woken up. His hair is still the normal level of messy, not sleepy-messy. Alec can see that he’s holding one of his stuffed animals behind his back, but Alec can’t tell which one it is.

“Were you sleeping?”

Rafe looks to the side, still not making eye contact. That’s another ‘no’, then.

“Did you sleep at all tonight?”

Rafe ducks his head a bit, hand still pressed firmly against his mouth. Which means the answer is no, and he’s afraid he’s going to get in trouble for it.

Shit.

Alec reaches out and gently puts his hand on Rafe’s shoulder. This doesn’t make any sense. Rafe’s been in bed for hours. He’d spent all evening running around with Max and Luke - he should have gotten really tired out. He didn’t eat anything that would keep him up. There hasn’t been any bad weather to keep him from sleeping. And he couldn’t have had any nightmares to wake him up unless he’d fallen asleep in the first place. Unless it’s-

Oh.

If Rafe weren’t so upset, Alec thinks he might smile. But he doesn’t. He just rubs his thumb across Rafe’s arm, as soothingly as he can. “Is it kinda weird, trying to sleep without Max here?”

Rafe opens his mouth, almost looking surprised… then closes it again. But after a few moments of silence, he nods. Barely even enough to be noticeable.

Yeah. That makes sense. Rafe’s never slept alone here. Max hasn’t been on any sleepovers since they brought Rafe home. Max may be used to sleeping in otherwise-empty rooms in someone else’s house, but Rafe’s spent every single night of the last six months with his brother in his room. Alec didn’t actually bring this up with Rafe before bedtime, since he’d kinda hoped it wouldn’t seem like a big deal if he didn’t make a big deal out of it. But it looks like that plan’s backfired.

Because now it’s one in the goddamn morning, and this five-year-old hasn’t gotten any sleep. By the Angel, Alec doesn’t know how Rafe has survived this long without either coming to get him, or just flat-out having a breakdown. He usually goes to sleep before fucking sunset, and now it’s the middle of the night. Alec feels exhausted just thinking about his poor, fucked-up sleep schedule.

But at the very least, this particular problem has an easy fix.

Alec leans forward a bit, and lowers his voice. “Wanna know a secret?”

That finally makes Rafe look up at him, unable to resist an offer like that.

Alec puts on his smallest, most crooked half-smile, and raises his eyebrows, trying to look decently embarrassed. “It’s kinda weird for me to try to sleep without Papa here.” He shrugs one shoulder. “I haven’t slept tonight either.”

Rafe shifts forward a bit, like he’s really bought-in to the idea that he’s just been told a secret. And his eyes are a bit wide, like he’s surprised that Alec is having the same problem as him. He moves his hand down onto his chin, just far enough to free his lips. “Really?”

Fuck. It's too late at night for Alec to deal with this kind of cuteness. Rafe can’t simultaneously have eyes this big and a voice this small. Alec’s heart can’t handle it. “Really.” He lets go of Rafe’s shoulder and clasps his hands together. “So, if you can’t sleep alone, and I can’t sleep alone… do you wanna stay with me tonight?”

Alec can see every step in Rafe’s thought process. Excitement at first, but then he immediately pulls back to hesitation, and then confusion. Because there are only two situations where he knows he’s allowed to sleep in Magnus and Alec’s bed: when he has a nightmare, and when there’s a storm (and also that one time Max accidentally scorched the carpet in their room because he saw a spider, and Magnus was too worn out to fix it before morning. But that was an anomaly). He’s never been in a situation like this before. And to make it even worse, he doesn’t have Max here to confirm that this is allowed. Magnus and Alec may make the actual, serious ‘rules’ of the house, but the perks of the house are still entirely under Max’s jurisdiction as far as Rafe is concerned. Hell, even with things as simple as getting an extra snack before bedtime, Rafe will still give Max a sidelong glance and wait for Max’s nod of approval before accepting it. An offer like this is unusual enough that he must feel completely lost without Max here to tell him that it’s okay.

But all the hours of sleep deprivation must have really done a number on him, because after only a few moments of obvious uncertainty, he nods.

And Alec smiles. “Alright.” He stands up, and runs through the checklist in his mind. He’s not used to doing this without Magnus here to magically fix anything they might have forgotten to do by the time they get settled in bed. “Grab the plushie you want,” he says, since he has a feeling that it’s not the tiny one that Rafe’s still hiding behind his back.

Sure enough, Rafe runs right back to his side of the room and plops the little turtle onto the mountain of stuffed animals at the foot of his bed. And instead, he hauls up the purple penguin that’s damn near as big as he is. Alec’s not surprised. Rafe sleeps cuddled up with the penguin basically every night, and it’s already pretty worn out considering that he’s only had it for three months.

Once Rafe looks ready to go, Alec unplugs the night light by his bed, since the lamps in his and Magnus’s room are way too bright for sleeping. And, of course, Magnus isn’t here to dim them to a sleepable level (why don’t they just buy lights that everyone in the family can dim? Why are there still things in this house that only work for Magnus?).

Normally, Alec would offer his hand to Rafe, just out of instinct. But Rafe is already on his way, carrying his massive stuffed penguin in his arms, struggling to find the best way to hold it up without tripping over it (or himself). Alec wants to carry it for him, but with the obviously vice-like grip Rafe has on it, Alec knows better than to try and take it from him.

And - no matter how horrible it is for Alec to think it - it’s pretty damn cute to see Rafe trudge into the next room, just barely able to peek over the top of the penguin’s head to see where he’s going.

However, Alec does help hoist Rafe up onto the bed, since there wasn’t much chance of Rafe getting himself and a massive plushie all the way up onto the adult-height mattress.

Alec turns away for a second to plug in the night light next to his phone charger (it’s just a plain bulb, that slowly rotates through various shades of blue and purple throughout the night), and when he turns back-

Rafe has already settled himself into bed. Right in the middle of it. With his penguin taking up a human-sized chunk of mattress next to him.

Alec has to bite the inside of his lip to keep from chuckling. “Are you gonna scoot over, or do I have to sleep on the floor with the kitties?”

Rafe ducks his head, clearly embarrassed… but he’s also smiling a bit, so at least he knows he’s being teased. And he starts moving, in Alec’s direction.

Alec nods sharply to the far wall. “Other way,” he corrects gently, because there’s no way in hell he’s gonna let his kid sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door. That side is the first line of defense, and it’s Alec’s spot. 

Rafe shifts the other way, and hauls his penguin over to the other side of himself so Alec can get into bed next to him. Rafe usually sleeps with all of his limbs wrapped around that damn penguin like a cage, so Alec’s expecting him to snuggle up with it-

But apparently, Alec makes a decent substitute. Because as soon as he gets settled under the blanket, Rafe curls right up next to him. He tucks himself under Alec’s arm, snuggling up to his side and smushing his face into Alec’s silky lavender camisole.

By the Angel, Alec can’t even comprehend how fucking exhausted he must be. Even though Rafe’s been here for over half a year, he’s still very cautious about being the one to initiate contact. Yeah, he’ll cuddle up with Magnus or Alec for hours on end, but only if they’re the one to suggest it. But now it’s like he’s literally trying to burrow himself into Alec’s body. He’s a pretty restless sleeper in general, but this is ridiculous.

Well, since he clearly hasn’t found a comfortable spot yet, they might as well…

“Hey,” Alec nudges Rafe lightly with his leg, “we should probably take a picture for Papa, right?”

Rafe nods immediately - and as Alec reaches for his phone, he can’t help but wonder if it’s a bad thing that he’s clearly programmed his children to subject themselves any photo opportunity without even questioning it. He wonders if Max and Rafe talk behind Alec’s back about how fucking ridiculous he is about documenting every single thing that ever happens to them.

But Alec can’t make himself care. Because this is too good of an opportunity, and he doesn’t have that many pictures of just him and Rafe together.

Rafe scoots a little further up the bed, so his head is resting on Alec’s shoulder. And-

Huh. Alec had assumed that it’d just be a regular, smiley picture. But the second he gets the camera open and facing them, Rafe sticks both of his index fingers into his cheeks, pulls down his lower lip, and widens his eyes.

Okay then.

Alec chokes on a laugh, but recovers himself quickly. He crosses his eyes, sticks out his tongue, and takes the picture. It turns out perfectly, but…

“Okay, let’s take a boring one,” Alec says, shifting his phone in his hand. ‘Boring’ is a well-established photo code in the Lightwood-Bane household, and it means just smiles, nothing goofy (though between Alec and Max, they usually end up being pretty damn goofy anyway. They just can’t help themselves).

Alec gets his arm around Rafe and tugs him a little further up the bed.

Rafe gets the idea and scoots up far enough for their faces to be right next to each other in the frame. He doesn’t usually do big, smiley faces when he’s actually prompted to do so, but he puts on a small, neutral-looking smile anyway. This is a very common occurrence, after all. He knows what he’s doing.

Alec smiles too, and presses the button to take the picture-

And he keeps it pressed as he quickly turns his head and blows a loud, wet raspberry right against Rafe’s cheek.

Rafe shrieks in surprise, but it takes a moment to regain himself enough to shove Alec away (or rather, to shove against Alec to push himself away. Alec doesn’t get moved at all). He buries his face in his hands, but it’s not enough to completely muffle the sound of his laughter.

It only lasted a split-second, but with Alec holding down the button on his phone, hopefully one of the photos turned out halfway decent…

Bingo.

Rafe keeps his distance - wiping off his cheek and obviously trying very hard to look angry enough to hide his smile - as Alec sends the pictures to Magnus.

For a second, it looks like Rafe is gonna pretend to be offended enough by Alec’s silliness that he stays on the other side of the bed with his penguin… but after a minute of half-hearted fuming, he snuggles back into his spot against Alec’s side.

Alec tries not to disturb him as he reaches over to put away his phone-

He gets a text.

He’s not sure if he woke Magnus up, or if he’s just awake unusually early for a vacation day, but it sure didn’t take him long to send a response to the pictures:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Followed by what must be a few dozen emojis, all in various states of crying and distress.

It’s a horrible reaction to a text like this, and Alec knows it’s horrible of him, but he just can’t keep himself from laughing a little bit.

Rafe tilts up his head far enough to see Alec’s face. “Huh?”

Alec shakes his head, so Rafe knows he wasn’t laughing at him. “I think Papa’s feeling homesick.”

“Hm.” Rafe settles back in, bringing one of his hands up to his mouth.

Alec quickly types out miss you babe, adds a few different hearts, and sends it to Magnus. He moves his thumb to shut off the screen…

But he goes to his home screen instead. Because right now, he can stand to waste a few seconds looking at his background. It’s not like he’s got anything else to be doing, after all.

He took the picture a few days ago. Alec can never settle on just one background, so he usually goes through several in any given week. But he really loves this one. He thinks he’ll keep it for a while (like he doesn’t say that every damn time ).

It’s of Magnus, standing in the living room, with Max and Rafe each wrapped around one of his legs. It had started as a poor attempt to keep Magnus from going into their room to see if they’d made their beds yet, and had ended with Magnus dragging them around the apartment for over half an hour without stopping (“It is excellent resistance training, Alexander.”). Alec had kept waiting for the kids to get bored and let Magnus rest, but apparently it was endlessly entertaining, and Magnus wasn’t about to give up on a good workout. By the time he stood still long enough for Alec to get a nice picture, Magnus was covered in sweat, and even the kids were a little tired from hanging on for so long.

In the picture, Magnus has his hands on his hips in a triumphant pose, and - of course - he somehow looks fucking beautiful even though he’s exhausted and sweaty as fuck. He’s made even sweatier by the fact that he hadn’t even bothered to take off his pink wool cardigan during his impromptu exercise. The front of it is hanging open, and it’s long enough that it’s falling down into the kids’ faces. It’s bunched up on Max’s horns, and it’s almost covering Rafe’s face entirely - but both of their ridiculous grins are still visible, so it doesn’t matter.

Alec smiles. He’s aware that in a few days, something else will inevitably happen that’ll make for an even more irresistible phone background. But for now, this is perfect.

He lets himself waste a few more moments looking at the picture… but then it just ends up reminding him that Magnus is very much not here tonight, and some of the niceness wears off.

Alec reaches over to plug his phone back in while trying to move as little as possible. Rafe’s still squirming enough that Alec’s pretty sure he’s not even close to falling asleep yet. Then again, Rafe is so squirmy in his sleep that it can be pretty hard to tell the difference. But either way, he doesn’t want to ruin whatever sort of complicated burrowing ritual Rafe is obviously in the middle of.

With his phone charging and the night light glowing and the cats already fed for the morning and Rafe right next to him, Alec finally settles himself in. This time, actually hopeful about the prospect of falling asleep, instead of drowning in his own cynicism.

Rafe’s still kicking quite a bit (Alec wonders if it’s just because his nice silk pajama pants feel good against Rafe’s bare feet), but the top half of him seems to have calmed down a bit. He’s pressed up against Alec’s side again, using his own arm as a pillow. His face is smushed in Alec’s ribcage - dangerously close to all of Alec’s most ticklish spots, which is a little nerve-wracking - and Alec can feel his jaw moving-

Alec glances down. Even though Rafe’s face is thoroughly hidden, Alec still needs to look close enough to make sure that he’s not…

Okay. He’s chewing on his bracelet. That’s fine. That’s what the bracelet is for.

(When they’d first brought Rafe home, they’d assumed the rather gruesome injury on his right hand was caused by a particularly bad fall on a rough road. It took them almost two weeks to realize that he’d done it himself, gnawing on his thumb and the heel of his hand until it bruised and bled. Even once they’d bandaged it, it hadn’t stopped Rafe from biting. So instead of trying to break the habit, they’d just redirected it instead. They’d tried necklaces first, with ornaments specifically meant to be sucked on and chewed. But Rafe seems to really need the connection to his hand, so that hadn’t done any good. The bracelets were an absolute life-saver - with the safely chewable beads right on his wrist - and now he has almost a dozen of them.)

Rafe will still start to nibble on his actual thumb once in a while, but only when he’s particularly agitated. Still, it's a habit for Magnus and Alec to make sure he’s chewing on the right thing.

After a few minutes, Rafe settles down a bit more. Alec can’t feel him gnawing on his bracelet anymore, and his feet have stopped pushing against Alec’s legs. Alec can tell by the pattern of his breathing that he isn’t asleep yet, but he figures it won’t be long now.

Alec moves his arm a bit, getting a looser hold around Rafe’s waist, so he can move away a little easier when he wants to. They may be cuddled nice and close right now, but with both of their sleeping habits, Alec knows that in an hour or two Rafe will kick himself all the way over the edge of the bed, and Alec will turn over onto his side and inevitably steal all of the covers.  

But for now, this is nice. And it’s definitely a hell of a lot nicer than either of them trying to sleep by themselves. Alec’s never gotten to sleep snuggled up with just Rafe before. Actually, he hasn’t really…

Huh.

Now that he thinks about…

That’s an… interesting thought. But once he thinks it, he can’t get it out of his head again. It can't be un-thunk. He almost wonders if…

Maybe Rafe is feeling it too.

Probably not. Alec doubts that Rafe is even awake enough to be fully conscious of where he is, or what’s going on.

But for Alec…

He’s suddenly so aware of the fact that it’s just the two of them here right now.

Alec doesn’t think that’s ever happened before. It’s never just him and Rafe. These days, Alec’s never alone with anyone, except for the one hour a week when he and Max drop Rafe off at his ballet class and find something else to do to kill time before picking him up again. And then there’s the two or three times a month when someone volunteers to watch the boys for an evening so he and Magnus can have a proper date. But apart from that, Alec’s used to the whole family. He’s not used to it being just him, and just one of the kids.

Especially just Rafe.

Because now that it’s just him and Rafe alone together…

All Alec can think about is the last time they were alone together. Over half a year ago. In Buenos Aires. When Alec had been completely by himself, and completely helpless in the situation, and he’d had to call Magnus just to be able to speak to Rafe - because growing up with Isabelle, Alec learned his fair share of Spanish, but not the right kind for that situation. Alec knew how to make fun of Hodge without him being able to understand them. He didn’t know how to ask an unfamiliar and frightened child where his parents were. If he was hurt. How long it had been since he’d eaten.

Alec had been alone with Rafe that whole day. And they haven’t been alone together since.

It’s a strange awareness. But it’s also…

It’s also a little bit nice?

Not thinking back to that day, that's still horrible. Alec tries his best to not remember anything about the state of the Buenos Aires Institute, or the goddamn alley where he’d found Rafe, or how Rafe had looked-

Alec makes a point of not thinking about it too much. But right now, remembering the last time they were alone together… and then thinking about where they are right now…

Yeah. It’s nice. Because things are nicer now.

That day, it had taken hours to get Rafe to speak to anyone, regardless of language. And it’s not like he’s particularly talkative now (Alec’s pretty sure the only person he’s had a full conversation with in all these months is Max, and even then, with Max being a bilingual little chatterbox, who knows how much actual talking Rafe does with him), but he talks now, equally comfortable with Spanish and English.

Hell, he’s even expressed a few opinions. It’s taken six whole months, but by now they know that Rafe doesn’t like apples, that his favorite color is purple, and that footie pajamas make him feel claustrophobic (Alec still feels sick to his stomach when he thinks about how many times he and Magnus had put him in those pajamas and let him be miserable all night long, just because they didn’t know any better, and Rafe was too afraid to tell them).

It’s not much, but it’s also such an unbelievable improvement. Rafe talks to them. He smiles. He laughs. He and Max play the dozens of silly games they’ve made up that Magnus and Alec still can’t follow or understand to save their lives. He’s starting to make friends in his ballet class. He only gets woken up by nightmares once or twice a week instead of damn near every night, like the first few months he was here. His hand may be scarred, but it’s healed, and he doesn’t bite it anymore.

And - probably Alec’s favorite - he eats. He like, really eats. He hadn’t been able to steal enough to keep himself fed when he was alone, and then it was like he was afraid of eating too much with them, like asking for a second helping or saying he was still hungry would be the final straw that made Magnus and Alec say he couldn’t stay with them anymore. But now, he loves eating. And he loves helping Alec cook. They’ve even gotten him a little step stool so he can reach the counters in the kitchen. And even though it’s so awful to think back to how terrifyingly underweight he’d been when Alec had found him, it makes it even nicer to see how different he looks now. He’s actually starting to get a little chubby, with the round face and squishy tummy that a five-year-old is supposed to have.

It’s weird to think about it like this. But it’s nice to see how much progress he’s been making. Because he’s just a kid now. And he’s already growing up so much. He’s gonna be six soon, and he’s gonna start school in the fall, and by the Angel, Alec knows the chain of events wasn’t exactly normal here, but that’s sure not stopping him from feeling like an old man, what with his kid growing up so goddamn fast.

Fuck. School. School. Max was just a baby like, a week ago. Now they’re kids and they’re getting so old and Alec likes it but he also really hates it. Especially because what the fuck is he supposed to do when they get to the point where both of the kids are gone all day? What’s he supposed to do with himself? What the fuck-

His impending panic attack is interrupted by a sudden weight landing on the foot of the bed.

“George,” Rafe says quietly, without even looking up.

And yeah, it’s George Bernard Paw, finally deigning to come spend time with Alec (after callously abandoning him all night). She paces back and forth at the foot of the bed instead of curling up like she usually does, and Alec kinda wonders if she’s confused by everyone’s unusual sleeping arrangements tonight.

And Alec can’t help but ask, “How’d you know it was George?” Because George and the Chairman are almost the same size now, so it’s not like the actual sound of her jumping on the bed should be that specific.

Rafe shifts a little, burying his face deeper into Alec’s shirt. It’s normal for him to look away before he answers a question, so maybe this is just his way of doing that when he’s not looking at Alec in the first place. “Meow’s in our room.”

Well. That makes sense. The cats almost never sleep in the same room. “Was Meow sleeping with you?”

Rafe shakes his head. “Max’s bed.”

“Bed thief!” Alec gasps quietly.

Rafe makes a little noise. It’s so muffled that Alec can’t really tell what it is, but for his own sake, he’s gonna say it’s a laugh.

Rafe makes another little sound, and this time it…

Ah fuck. It turns into a yawn. He makes the tiniest little yawning noise and then a tiny post-yawn noise and then he fists his hand in Alec’s shirt and holy fuck if he gets any goddamn cuter Alec’s gonna have a fucking heart attack.

Every now and then, Alec will get a little wistful, and start wishing that he could have known Rafe when he was still a baby.

And then something like this happens, and Alec realizes that if he’d actually seen Rafe at baby-levels of cuteness, he’d have died on the spot. With his curly hair and his gigantic brown eyes and his goddamn fucking dimples, Alec wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Besides, Max was already the cutest damn baby in the history of the world, so it wouldn’t have been fair for Alec to get another impossibly adorable baby.

Alec’s not entirely sure anymore, but he thinks Rafe is still awake, so he risks a little bit of movement. He cozies himself into his pillow a bit more, and adjusts his arm around Rafe so it doesn’t fall asleep before Rafe eventually scoots himself away.

Rafe doesn’t respond at all to Alec shifting. And his breathing is starting to slow down. And Alec can tell that his mouth is hanging open, not chewing on his bracelet. So maybe…

Alec doesn’t know if his brain is just finally catching up to the fact that it’s the middle of the night, or if he’s really reached a point where he can genuinely only fall asleep if he’s cuddled up with at least one member of his family… But whatever it is, he’s suddenly exhausted.

But he wants to hold out until he’s sure Rafe’s already asleep.

He can do it. He can stay awake longer than a five-year-old. Of course he can.

He can.

Yep.

He’s not gonna fall asleep.

He’s not drifting off. He’s gonna stay wide awake.

He’s gonna wake up any second now.

He’s gonna…

“Daddy?”

Well fuck.

If anything could wake him up, it’s that.

(It’s not necessarily new anymore, but it’s still… It’s still enough to make stupid things happen in Alec’s chest when he hears it. He’s built up a tiny bit of a tolerance since it first happened a few weeks ago, so his reaction isn’t quite as blatant as it used to be. But it’s still something.)

Alec manages to keep himself calm - even though his insides have just turned into a combination of mush and goo. “Yeah, mijo?”

Rafe’s restless again, and somehow the movement feels distinctly nervous. “Song?”

Ah.

That.

It’s not like there’s any fucking chance that Alec’s gonna say no, but…

“Yeah, of course. But I don’t have a good voice like Papa.”

Rafe nods. “I know.”

A surprised laugh gets out of Alec before he can stop it. He manages to at least choke back the rest of it.

Well, at least he’s honest.

If Magnus were here, Alec would ask Rafe what song he wants. After all, Magnus always lets Rafe choose the song, and if Alec is already gonna be a disappointing singer, he’d at least like Rafe to choose his method of disappointment. But the lullaby is basically never Alec’s job (not by himself, anyway), and he just knows that if Rafe picks the song, it’ll be one of the ones where Alec doesn’t know all the words. He may be a bad singer, but he’s not gonna be that bad about it.

He sticks with “Arrorró mi niño”, since he’s positive that he knows all of those words. He could sing that one in his sleep (hell, he might have actually done that at some point). For the first few months, it was all Rafe wanted to hear, and it was the only way to get him to fall asleep again after a nightmare. Alec can’t even comprehend the number of hours that he and Magnus have spent in this bed, Alec holding Rafe while he cried, and Magnus singing that song on an endless loop.

So even though it’s usually more of a ‘heavy duty’ lullaby, it’s the one Alec knows the best, and it’ll have to do. At least he feels totally confident with it as he starts singing.

Well. He feels confident about the words, anyway.

Alec’s never been much of a singer. Before the boys came along, he doesn’t think he sang an entire note in his whole damn life. Hell, even after they adopted Max, Alec still didn’t have any music-related responsibilities. Max never seemed to care. He liked a lullaby as much as the next kid (presumably), but he’d never actually ask for one.

And then they brought Rafe home, and the music became constant. Magnus is so used to Rafe asking him to sing that by now, he’s internalized it. He’s started singing over half the things he says without realizing it. Rafe needs at least one lullaby every night in order to fall asleep, and then possibly several more if he’s woken up by a nightmare.

Alec’s not sure if it’s just Rafe’s natural inclination, or if the Buenos Aires Institute was significantly more musical than the Institutes Alec is familiar with, but either way. Rafe is obsessed with music. He loves hearing it, he loves singing, Jace is even teaching him to play piano (and Alec has already seen the little two-octave keyboard Jace has hidden in his closet for Rafe’s birthday).

In the past six months, Rafe’s need for music has made the entire Lightwood-Bane household significantly more sing-y than it’s been before.

For the most part, Alec’s long-since lost all of the anxiety and embarrassment that used to come with playing with a child. The knowledge that a child will blatantly tell him if he’s doing something stupid used to make him hyper-aware of what he said or did around them. But after just a few months with Max, that all disappeared, and now he’s comfortable doing the most ridiculous shit he can think of, just because the kids want him to.

Singing, however…

It’s just not something he’s used to. It’s Magnus’s job, not his. He doesn’t have enough experience with it to have lost that last bit of need for dignity. He knows that he sounds shitty, and he’s still aware enough to be embarrassed by how shitty he sounds.

But Rafe doesn’t seem to mind. He’s curled up as tightly as possible, so his knees are digging into Alec’s side, and his breathing is getting so heavy that Alec can still hear it over his quiet singing. He moves his head a bit, like he’s nuzzling his face into Alec’s silk pajamas.

His hair’s getting long. It was plenty long to start with, but it’s curly enough that it never used to fall into his eyes. It was too… poofy for that. His hair is very poofy. But now it’s getting long enough all the curliness in the world can’t keep it out of his face. He’s said no every time they’ve offered to get him a haircut, and at this rate, they’re gonna have to start pulling or pinning it back for dance class every week. Hell, by the time he starts school, it’ll probably be long enough to put up in a fancy bun. He’s only got a couple of months left where he doesn’t really need a view unobstructed by hair.

A couple of months.

Fuck.

Fuck.

In a couple of months - in less than half a year - Alec’s gonna have a first-grader. That’s just… wrong. There has to be a mistake. It feels like it makes more sense for Alec to be in school than one of his kids.

There's just so much to it. Packed lunches and homework and backpacks filled with notebooks and crayons and glue sticks, and… okay… maybe that part of it doesn’t sound so bad (he’s admittedly a little excited about getting to take Rafe shopping for school supplies).

But then there’s dealing with everything else. Everyone else. All day. Rafe’s never spent an entire day away from them before. He’s never had any problems with dance class, but that’s only one hour a week. There’s so much more opportunity for something to go wrong at school. And it’s so much more time and social interaction, which means it’d be so much easier for Rafe to accidentally say something a little too Shadow World-related about his life. Alec knows it’s not like mundane society will collapse if a six-year-old says one of his dads can do magic, but still. Rafe is used to the established set of lies they’ve chosen so they can ‘pretend’ to be a mundane family - and he understands why he has to lie about those things - but it’ll be a big change to have to stick to those lies all the time.

(Alec still can’t wait until the Clave finds out about this. Because Alec’s finally a legitimate parent as far as they’re concerned. Now that he’s raising a nephilim child, they suddenly care about him and his ‘family’ - though they coincidentally continue to ignore Max’s existence, and if they ever acknowledge Magnus, it’s only to express outrage that a warlock is ‘claiming’ to be the father of a shadowhunter. Because of Rafe, the Clave actually gives a shit about Alec for once. So Alec can’t even imagine how fantastic the reaction is going to be when they find out that Rafe’s decided he has no interest whatsoever in being a shadowhunter, and he’s insisted that Magnus and Alec enroll him in a mundane elementary school so he can be with his friends from ballet. Alec knows that Rafe damn well isn’t doing this to make any sort of statement, but still, he fucking loves that his kid is already sending a nice ‘fuck you’ to the Clave, even without meaning to. It’s incredibly satisfying.)

Alec never imagined that he’d end up this involved in mundane society. He’s gotten to the point where being engaged to Magnus Bane and raising a couple of kids with him seems completely normal, but it’s absolutely bizarre to realize how comfortable he is in a grocery store.

He’d forced himself to adjust pretty early, when Max was still a baby. Because it was necessary. After all, it happened to work out that the one of them who stayed home with Max was also the one who can’t magically conjure up some extra diapers when the need arises. Alec became very familiar with navigating through mundane stores, with fully-covered baby carriers to keep any prying eyes from picking up on suspicious shades of blue. And once Max could manage a human glamour (the first piece of magic that Magnus had actually taught him specifically, instead of letting him discover it on his own), it expanded. Now the family spends about as much time with mundanes as they do with people who know about the Shadow World.

And it’s… weird.

Not better. Not necessarily worse, either.

But it’s definitely weird.

Because it’s different.

They inevitably end up getting as much attention at a mundane park as they do in an Institute. It’s just for a different reason. Or, sometimes, different reasons.

And that’s what’s really surprised Alec the most.

Because they deal with a whole lot of shit from shadowhunters, but it is always for the same reason: Magnus and Max. Yeah, there are plenty of nephilim who don’t like that Magnus and Alec are both men, but that’s always completely overshadowed by how much they hate that Magnus is a warlock. Maybe these people would be focusing more on their homophobia if they weren’t so distracted by their racism, but there you go. When they get a dirty look from a shadowhunter, one hundred percent of the time, it’s because there are downworlders in their family. That racism runs so deep that anyone who cares about it can’t seem to care about anything else.

But with mundanes, who the fuck knows? When they get a dirty look at Whole Foods, there are so many options. It might be because they’re two men. It might be because they’re two men who are different races. It might be because they’re two men with children. It might be because they’re two men with children and all four of them are different races. It might be because of their clothes, or their makeup, or their hair, or their high-heeled shoes, or their jewelry, or their nail polish (and it especially seems to make some people livid when they see that Rafe likes wearing purple nail polish as much as Magnus and Alec do).

Hell, one time Alec had been at the park with the kids, and a woman had approached him with that look on her face, so Alec had tried to guess what it was going to be: his sandals, or his pretty, open-backed shirt, or his eyeshadow, or his earrings…

And she’d proceeded to scold him about how he was setting an unprofessional example for his children… because of his “tattoos”.

Alec had been so goddamn confused that by the time he realized what she was referring to, the only response he could think of was to laugh.

It’s not like it’s constant. It’s manageable. And they’ve spent a lot of time making sure the kids know how to deal with it, and more importantly, that they know it’s never their fault, and that the people who say things like that are the ones in the wrong.

Still, Alec feels horrible that his kids are so used to dealing with assholes that they’ve been thoroughly prepared for two separate brands of bullshit: the one from mundanes, and the one from shadowhunters.

And with Rafe seemingly deciding that he’s sticking with the mundanes, Alec doesn’t know if it’s going to get better or worse for him. Being a mundane kid, and getting a mundane childhood.

Well, after what Rafe’s childhood was like as a shadowhunter, Alec certainly understands his choice.

They’ll be fine. All of them. Passing themselves off as a ‘normal’ mundane family. With the ballet recitals, and maybe sports if one of the kids get into that, and helping out with homework (though Alec knows that’ll probably end up being more Magnus’s thing, considering that Alec has a basic nephilim education, and Magnus practically collects college degrees like a hobby. Alec’s never even had a history class that didn’t begin with Raziel and end with the foundation of the New York Institute. Alec would probably get his ass kicked even by the first grade curriculum), and parent-teacher conferences, and sleepovers on the weekends… and…

By the Angel. Maybe Alec can’t do this.

It’s just so fucking far outside of his scope of experience. Flashcards and standardized tests and a bunch of tiny mundane children running around their apartment when Rafe wants to have friends over and always wondering if Rafe is gonna accidentally mention that his little brother is blue and has horns-

Shit.

Alec had forgotten that he’s still singing. The song is so embedded in his brain that he literally got through the whole thing on autopilot. Magnus usually sings it through twice, since it’s not particularly long, and Alec must have followed tradition because he’s suddenly halfway through the first verse again. But now he’s thinking too hard, and it makes him trip a bit over the words.

Alec just gives up and starts the next verse. It’s not like Rafe’s gonna care. He’s probably not even awake anymore. He’s still shifting and twitching a bit, but the movement feels less conscious and more random.

He still has a few more months.

It’s barely even spring. They have plenty of time before they have to start worrying about school. Start the real worrying, anyway. They’ve already done an exceptional amount of worrying about finding the right school, and making sure they can get Rafe enrolled even though a tiny, recently-orphaned-then-adopted nephilim doesn’t exactly have standard mundane paperwork (and the only ‘official’ forms of mundane identification that Magnus and Alec have are just excellent magic forgeries).

But there’s still time before they have to worry about Rafe. He still has most of the spring and all of the summer before he has to deal with any of this. Alec’s sure he’ll be ready by then.

And, now that he thinks about it, Alec’ll be ready too. He’s pretty confident, anyway. If he can raise two kids (one of whom has just started learning how to literally disappear right out from under him, not to mention all the accidental fires he starts), and keep his job as shadowhunter-downworlder liaison, and attend at least one Clave meeting every month - and manage to not lose his goddamn mind during all the bullshit he has to hear at said meetings - he’s pretty sure he can handle being a mundane parent. He can make lunches with the crusts cut off. He can be on a PTA, once he finds out what the fuck a PTA is. He can handle ballet and boy scouts and whatever else mundane kids do (he’ll have to get a refresher course from Luke and Jocelyn about what to expect). Yeah. If he’s done so much already, he can do this.

They can do this.

They’ll be fine.

He gets to the end of the song for the second time, and he actually realizes it, and stops singing.

Rafe doesn’t say anything. Or do anything. He just twitches a bit. His grip on Alec’s shirt has loosened, but he’s still snuggled up to him as close as possible.

Well.

It’s gotta be half past one by now. Maybe it’s closer to two, who knows. It’s definitely past both of their bedtimes. Rafe looks like he’s finally out. George has settled at the foot of the bed, sprawled out and taking up as much space as possible (because she knows Rafe doesn’t need as much leg-room as Magnus, so she doesn’t have to curl up like usual). And the lullaby apparently worked on Alec just as much as it worked on Rafe, because it’s becoming a damn struggle to keep his eyes open.

Okay.

Max is with Jocelyn and Luke, and he’s fine. Magnus is in London, and he’s fine. Rafe is right here, and he’s fine. Even the cats are in ‘their’ beds, and they’re fine.

And Alec thinks he can finally get some sleep now.

He turns his face in toward his pillow, since he’s not singing anymore. His arm did eventually fall asleep from being tucked around Rafe like this, but he doesn’t care. He cozies himself in, and closes his eyes.

Rafe makes an unhappy little noise.

He makes it again, a little louder.

Then he tugs on Alec’s shirt. Sleepy, but insistent.

Alec smiles. “Okay, mijo.”

And he starts the song over again.

 

 

Chapter Text

Do you want to talk about it?

Alec reads the text.

He reads it about a hundred times. As though it might say something different if he looks away and looks back.

He reads the text.

He looks up. Looks at his reflection in the mirror.

He reads the text.

He looks at his reflection.

He looks at the makeup wipes. They’re on his dresser now, not the bed. He wanted them to be a little closer. He wants to keep them in his vision, even when he looks in the mirror. He wants to keep seeing them. He wants to remember how this is going to end.

He reads the text.

It’s been almost ten minutes since Magnus sent it. By now, he’s probably figured out that prolonged silence is kind of an answer in itself, but still. Alec knows he should answer.

He looks at his reflection.

It hasn’t gone away. The feeling. The… whatever it is. Whatever happens in his stomach when he looks at himself like this. It’s not quite as overwhelming as it was in Isabelle’s mirror, when he first saw himself like this. But it’s still there.

He looks…

He looks at the makeup wipes.

It’s been almost ten minutes since Magnus texted him. Magnus texted him almost five minutes after Alec sent him the picture. Alec sent him the picture five or ten minutes after Isabelle finished doing his makeup.

And Isabelle finished doing his makeup twenty minutes after Jace came looking for him. It’s been damn near an hour since Jace came looking for him. Knowing Jace, Alec only has a few minutes before he comes looking for him again.

He looks at the makeup wipes.

He looks at his reflection.

He tilts his head a bit. Enough to make the light hit his cheekbone. To really bring out the shadow underneath it. He tilts his head a different way, so the light catches the shimmer on his eyelids.

He looks… good.

He looks pretty.

He reads the text.

He reads the text he got before it.

You look beautiful, Alexander.

And he… does. He knows he does. He can see it. He looks beautiful.

He looks at his reflection.

And he looks at the makeup wipes. Because he knows he has to use them. It’s not his choice. Right now, looking at his reflection, he knows he’s just pretending. It’s nice to keep looking in the mirror, keep pretending that this is just how he looks now. Keep pretending that he’s actually pretty.

Keep pretending that he’s allowed to be pretty.

Because he’s not. He knows that. This little makeup-bubble he’s made this morning - in Izzy’s mirror, and in his mirror, and in his texts with Magnus, and in his own mind - it’s all fine. But it’s not real. It’s not his life.

It’s morning now. Not the unrealistically early, ‘sneaking back from Magnus’s apartment’ morning. It’s just a regular old morning now. Which means Alec has shit he needs to do. Jace is looking for him (undoubtedly to get an early start on training before they get pulled into different meetings later in the afternoon). There are people Alec needs to meet with today. People who are going to see him.

So he can’t look like this.

He can’t be pretty.

It’s not like… it’s not like it’s a surprise. He knew this was going to happen. When Isabelle first started pressing those little dots of foundation onto his face, Alec knew he’d have to take it off. He just didn’t… think about it too much. Everything else was more important. Watching Isabelle do his makeup was so much more important than thinking about how he’d have to watch himself wash it off later. But he still knew. He knew he’d have to do this.

But now, looking at his face, looking at how pretty his face is… and knowing he’ll have to wash it all away…

It doesn’t make any sense. He’s been wearing makeup for maybe thirty minutes. It shouldn’t matter like this. He’s dealt with his plain face for his entire life. He’s dealt with hating his plain face for a decade, at least.

And he’s dealt with his made-up face - with looking at his face and actually liking what he sees - for half an hour.

A handful of minutes, against his entire life. And somehow he still-

He feels like he has the right to be upset. The first time he’s ever worn makeup in his life, and suddenly he thinks he can be justifiably angry that he has to take it off. Like it’s unfair. Like it’s some sort of injustice.

It’s ridiculous.

It’s fucking ridiculous.

It’s his own damn fault for letting Izzy do this. Because he knew. He damn well knew. He can’t suddenly decide he wants to ignore the existence of the world outside of Izzy’s bedroom, and let himself do this, let himself pretend he can have this…

And then be upset when reality sets back in.

It’s his own fault.

He should never have done this. Never have let this happen. He should have stopped Isabelle. Told her he didn’t want it. Told her he wasn’t interested. He should have lied.

None of this would have happened if it weren’t for the goddamn hickey.

Part of Alec wants to use that to blame Magnus. Part of him is almost mad at him for it. How the fuck did he not see it? Get rid of it? How did he let Alec leave without telling him? Did he want Alec to be humiliated when he got home? Did he-

Alec takes a deep breath.

No.

He lets it out. Slowly.

It’s not Magnus’s fault. He’s not mad at Magnus. Of course he’s not.

Because it’s Alec’s fault. He knows that. It’s his own goddamn neck. His own responsibility.

And it’s not like Magnus had just… done this, on some whim. He’d asked. He always asks. He asked Alec if he could do it.

(His nose pressed behind Alec’s ear. Breathing in, deeply. Scraping his teeth lightly along Alec’s jaw. The fingers of one hand running through Alec’s hair. And the fingers of his other hand… inside Alec. Gentle, and certain. His lips at Alec’s ear. “Alec, my angel, can I leave a mark?” And Alec had begged him to. And kept begging, begging Magnus over and over again, until he came, with Magnus’s fingers still in him, and Magnus’s mouth still sucking the hickey onto his neck.)

Alec had begged for this hickey. It’s his own fucking fault. And with what’s happening now because of it, it sure as fuck doesn’t seem worth it. Last night it was just… too tempting. It felt too good.

It felt…

Alec looks at his neck. At the spot where the hickey is. Where he knows the hickey is, even though he can’t see it - because he really can’t see it at all. Izzy knows her stuff. Alec’s not surprised. No one could possibly find it, even if they somehow knew to look for it. It’s fine. It’s taken care of.

It’s fine.

It’s fine.

It’s… fine. It’s…

It’s unfair.

It’s so fucking unfair.

He wanted this hickey so much. He’d begged for it. It felt so good when he got it, so unbelievably good to have Magnus suck it onto his throat that whenever he thinks about it, he gets goosebumps. Just from remembering. And it’s not just because of the sex. It’s not because Magnus was having sex with him. It’s because Magnus wanted him.

Magnus wanted Alec so much that he asked to leave a mark on him. Something physical, and lasting (even if neither of them intended for it to last this long), and impossible to misinterpret. Alec still doesn’t know how to accept what… what Magnus feels for him. Whatever this whole thing… is. Alec doesn’t get it. And he can’t always believe it.

And Magnus marked him. So Alec couldn’t ignore it. Couldn’t forget it. Magnus left a dark, lasting stamp on Alec’s skin. Because he wanted to. Because he wants Alec. When Magnus had given Alec this hickey, Alec had felt so good. Wanted, and pleasured, and cared for, and… maybe even… loved? Alec doesn’t really know what it feels like to be loved, but he imagines it feels a hell of a lot like how he’d felt last night. It’s stupid, but this hickey makes him feel nice. Makes him feel loved.

And he had to cover it up.

But that was his choice. He knows that. He could have left it, where anyone could see it. He asked Izzy to cover it for him. He chose that.

Because no one would understand, if they saw it. They wouldn’t see how good Alec felt, how it made him feel valued, like he really mattered for a change. They wouldn’t see love. They’d just see sex. They’d see something dirty, and they’d assume things about what he and Magnus had done, and it would all be… muddied. Alec can’t let anyone tarnish this mark. It’s too important. They’d ruin it.

So he has to leave it covered up, and pretend it doesn’t exist. Like he never felt it. Like he never wanted it. Like Magnus never wanted him like that.

He looks at his reflection.

And…

He laughs. Just once. Weak, and bitter.

Because he wants to take off the makeup on his hickey, and he has to leave it on.

And he wants to leave on the makeup on his face. And he has to take it off.

It’s so unfair.

He reads the text again.

It’s simple enough. It’s… gentle. It’s a question. It’s honestly a question. Magnus asked if he wants to talk about it. And Alec knows that if he doesn’t want to talk about it, Magnus will respect that. He’ll never bring it up again. He’s not prodding. He’s just trying to be helpful. He knows this is important. He-

Yeah. He knows this is important. Even though…

He shouldn’t. Because it shouldn’t be important. It’s makeup. It’s just fucking makeup. It took twenty minutes, if that. It didn’t take any real effort - Izzy could have done it in her sleep. Hell, this whole ‘makeover’ bullshit is trivial enough that Jace barely even needed an explanation before he just… accepted it, and moved on.

It’s not important.

It’s not important.

Alec closes his eyes.

It is. There’s no goddamn reason for it to be important, but it is. Alec knows it is. And… Magnus knows it is.

How does Magnus know? How can he tell? How does he always know?

Do you want to talk about it?

Alec… does. He wants to talk about it. But…

How can he?

Alec still doesn’t understand it. Any of it. He doesn’t know why any of this matters. He doesn’t know why the makeup makes him feel so… good. He doesn’t know why he wants it. He doesn’t know why he can’t have it. He just knows that he can’t.

And, hell, if he hadn’t even been able to explain to Izzy why Magnus can wear makeup and Alec can’t…

How the fuck can he explain it to Magnus?

His stomach twists up with nerves just thinking about it. Having to try and articulate everything he’s gone through today - and really, so much of this has actually been going on for years, not just today. He’s gone his whole life being unable to express any of this to anyone. It’s not like he’s suddenly capable of gushing it all out just because… someone’s actually offering to listen to him.

He couldn’t tell Izzy. He can always tell Izzy everything, and he couldn’t tell her. So there’s no way he can tell Magnus.

He’ll just have to… deal with it. Wash off the makeup. Go get breakfast. Go find Jace. Go on with his life.

And forget this. Forget whatever this was.

He looks at his reflection.

And it’ll have to be enough. It should be enough. It should be plenty. Just knowing that it’s… possible. To look in the mirror, and not hate what he sees. He knows what that’s like now. That’s more than he’s ever had.

He looks back at his phone. Scrolls up a bit. Back to the picture he’d sent Magnus.

It doesn’t look the way he wanted it too. The image in the mirror is so much nicer. But the picture still has… whatever it is. He still looks nice. He still looks pretty.

He can still have that, at least. The picture. As proof. Proof that he can be pretty. It’ll…

It’ll be enough. It has to be enough.

He looks at the makeup wipes.

His stomach churns. His heart does something weird, like it’s trying to suck the rest of Alec’s insides into it. Because this is gonna suck.

This is gonna fucking suck.

Yeah, it’s nice to know that he can look better, that there’s something he can do to his face to make himself stop hating it for a change. But right now, looking at the makeup wipes, knowing what he’s about to do… it almost makes it worse.

Because before today, he had no idea what he looked like with makeup on. His bare face was all he had. It was the only face he’d known.

And now, he has to go back to that. After having something so much better. And it’s not just that it’ll be his plain, bare, ugly face. It’ll be even worse. Because he’ll be wiping off his pretty face. Actually watching it happen. Making it happen. He can’t even imagine how horrible his face is going to look when he watches himself wash off the warmth, and the subtle glow, and the color around his eyes, and the blush on his cheeks that makes him look so… alive. Happy. He’ll have to watch this smooth, even skin get splotchy again. Pale, and drained, and probably red or irritated from scrubbing it clean.

He swallows.

He can’t do this.

And… by the Angel, how fucking pathetic is that? Alec is a grown man, who’s wasted his entire morning staring at his face in the mirror, staring at the makeup on his face, and now that he’s forced to wash it all of, he feels-

Scared.

He’s fucking scared of a goddamn makeup wipe.

He falls forward a bit, leaning his elbows on the dresser. He ducks his head and runs his hands through his hair. It’s getting hard to breathe, for some reason. For some reason, his eyes sting. And it’s ridiculous. He holds his face in his hands, like he can push all of this back inside and get himself under control-

He’s rubbing his eyes.

He pulls his hands away from his face so quickly it’s like they’ve shocked him. He looks at his fingertips-

Fuck.

There’s a bit of a shimmer on the pads of his fingers. A faint streak of brown and gray.

Fuck.

Alec grits his teeth.

Fuck fuck fucking fuck fuck fuck.

His hands curl into fists as he tries to take a deep enough breath to calm himself down. Once his jaw stops shaking, he risks a glance up in the mirror…

He laughs again. The same angry laugh. It’s a strange counterpart to the tears he has to furiously blink away.

Because that’s it.

It’s ruined.

He’s ruined it.

His eyeshadow is smeared. There are clear, finger-shaped streaks in the soft color. And there’s something dark smudged under his eyes. He can’t tell if it’s eyeliner or mascara… but he supposes it doesn’t really matter, does it?

He ruined it.

Alec doesn’t know what to do with himself. Too much is happening. He wants to sit down and start running and scream and cry and laugh and go ask Izzy to fix it for him and go back to sleep and go back to Magnus’s and forget this ever happened, and he wants this to be done - no matter what else, he really wants this to be done. He needs this to be done.

Yeah.

He needs this to be done.

He takes a breath, and ignores how it makes his entire body tremble.

He picks up his phone. It’s been fifteen minutes since Magnus texted him.

Do you want to talk about it?

Alec finally responds.

no.

His knees feel weak as he hits send. He tosses the phone onto his dresser, watching it skitter and slide before hitting the edge of the mirror. Right next to the makeup wipes.

Done. He needs to be done.

He gets a text, almost immediately. Magnus must have been waiting to hear back. Alec has to turn the phone around to read the screen.

Alright. But if you change your mind…

And that’s it. Magnus left it open, but still. It’s the end of the conversation. They both know it. Magnus is just saying that. Just to be polite. They both know that Alec’s never gonna be able to talk about this. It’s obvious.

He looks at his face in the mirror.

It’s a little… easier now. Because it’s ruined. The prettiness is tainted.

But it’s still… not horrible. It’s still sort of… nice.

He looks away from the mirror.

And he picks up the makeup wipes.

 


 

It’s weird, having Magnus wake up before him. It’s never happened before. Alec always wakes up first. Whether by alarm or just his own stupid internal clock (which won’t let him sleep later than seven, even if he doesn’t fall asleep until six), he’s always up several hours before Magnus.

Which means that he’s used to getting ready by himself. He’s spent a good amount of nights here, so he’s spent a good amount of mornings, showering and getting dressed while Magnus stays sound asleep.

So it had damn near given him a heart attack when he was woken by Magnus’s alarm this morning. He’d never heard it before.

And it’s loud.

It’s fucking loud.

Well, at least that explains why Magnus can sleep through Alec’s much quieter alarm without so much as flinching.

And it was… interesting. Because for the first time, Alec was the one who groggily tried to respond when Magnus kissed his forehead before getting out of bed. When Alec’s own alarm had gone off ten minutes later, he’d woken up to the sound of the shower already running. The faint smell of brewing coffee creeping in through the bedroom door.

It was nice.

It felt oddly… domestic? Maybe? Normally, he’s the one turning on the lights, and opening the curtains, and making the loft feel like things are running for the day. And yeah, he likes it. But it’s a little bit isolated. He’s used to keeping himself quiet so he doesn’t wake up Magnus. He’s used to maneuvering by the light of his phone in pre-dawn darkness until he can find a lightswitch. He’s used to quiet, and darkness, and having to gaze longingly at his boyfriend - still allowed to sleep in the big, warm, comfy bed for hours, his sleeping form basically begging Alec to come back and cuddle him for a bit longer.

But today, he woke up to noise. And light. And the smell of coffee. The loft already felt… alive. Like a home, not just a building. It was a new sensation, waking up in an empty bed, but knowing he wasn’t alone.

The precious few mornings that Alec’s gotten to wake up with Magnus, both of them actually awake in bed at the same time, Alec’s always showered first. It’s not like it’s an intentional thing. It’s just how it’s worked out. So it was strange, getting into an already-wet shower, still a little warm and steamy, while Magnus went to get dressed.

And it had been very strange, making the decision to leave the bathroom door cracked open.

That’s just… how things go here. The bathroom door stays unlocked and unlatched during showers. Regardless of which one of them is showering, and regardless of what else is going on. It’s just how it works. Alec picked up the habit from Magnus, assuming it was some sort of rule in the loft, and it’s stuck. Magnus leaves the door open so Chairman Meow won’t incessantly scratch at it (which is what he does to any closed door, every time, always ), and Alec knows that’s the only real reason.

But lately, there’s been another… implication. A hint.

An invitation.

Magnus rarely showers when Alec is here. He intentionally showers in the mornings, after Alec leaves. He’s told Alec that he always used to shower at night. And he changed his routine, because apparently when Alec spends the night, “there are more important things to do than waste time in the shower, Alexander.”

Alec still can’t get over that. The idea that he’s somehow ‘important’ enough to make Magnus Bane alter anything about his daily routine. Especially something as basic and ingrained as when he showers. Fuck, Magnus could literally have been showering at night since the invention of the shower.

And now, he’s changed his pattern. Because of Alec. Because he wants to spend as much time as possible with Alec.

It doesn’t make any sense.

And now, it makes even less sense. Because recently, Magnus hasn’t said that he doesn’t want to waste time in the shower when Alec is here.

He’s said that he doesn’t want to waste time in the shower alone.

He’s actually said that. He’s actually said those actual words. He’s actually said that he doesn’t want to shower alone if Alec is here.

And he leaves the bathroom door open.

In hopes that Alec will come into the shower with him.

It’s…

Alec’s been naked with Magnus so many times. More times than he can count. But only when they’re both under the sheets. Only when… only when they have sex. They’ve still never really seen each other naked. Yeah, they’ve seen everything separately, but never all at once. Never just… totally naked. Completely exposed. Hell, even when Magnus gives Alec a blowjob, there’s still some sort of clothing involved. He’ll leave Alec’s underwear around his thighs, or let him keep his shirt on. Something. He’s never tried to get Alec naked in a situation where he’ll actually see him.

Which is why he hasn’t actually tried to get Alec to shower with him. He’s just… offered. Left that tiny little hint. Left the bathroom door open.

Alec wants to. He thinks he wants to, anyway. It seems like something he should want. Getting to shower with Magnus. That’s… a ‘thing’. He knows it’s a thing. It’s something people do. Shower together. It’s a good opportunity, after all. The steam and the hot water and the close proximity and the feel of wet, soapy skin. By the Angel, it’s the perfect opportunity for sex.

But it’s not just that. It’s still a shower. If he got into the shower with Magnus, they’d still need to do the actual shower part of it. Shampoo and bodywash and facewash and just… being there. Naked. Standing naked in the bathroom, with that specific, plain, boring purpose. It’s so…

It’s so intimate, somehow. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The idea of taking something as basic and personal as his shower routine… and having someone else there. Having someone else see it, and know it. It’s bizarre to think about. It’s not something he ever thought he’d share with someone. Magnus seeing Alec wash his hair. Magnus seeing Alec get soap in his eyes. Magnus seeing all the odd angles when Alec washes the bottoms of his feet or tries to get that one spot on his back he can’t quite reach. Alec’s never considered having anyone else see that. It’s too private. Just the thought makes his whole body thrum with preemptive self-consciousness.

He only understands nudity if it’s for sex. Because then, there’s a point to it. There’s a purpose. It’s because feeling skin against skin just feels so fucking good, so much better than when there’s clothing in the way. When they have sex, Alec isn’t naked with the intention of being seen. It’s so he can be felt. Magnus doesn’t really look at him like that.

And in the shower, there wouldn’t be much of a choice, would there?

So it had almost been a little… frightening, when he left the bathroom door open before he got into the shower this morning. Because what if it seemed like the same kind of invitation that Magnus always leaves him? What if Magnus thought it meant Alec wanted him to join him?

The only reason he had the courage to leave the door open in the first place was because Magnus had literally just gotten out of the shower himself. He was getting dressed. There’s no way he’d think he was supposed to get back in the shower again two seconds after putting on clothes.

Well, that’s not the only reason Alec did it. It was the logical reason, but not the only one.

Alec trusts Magnus. Alec trusts that because he still hasn’t let Magnus see him naked, Magnus won’t try to find an opportunity unless Alec specifically tells him it’s alright.

So when Magnus knocks on the open bathroom door (his usual, oddly musical knock), Alec doesn’t even feel a hint of anxiousness. “Come in,” he calls out over the sound of the water.

But since he knows Magnus isn't in here to try and see Alec, Alec doesn't actually know what he's doing. So, after a moment of gathering his courage, he looks over his shoulder-

The shower glass is frosted, and fogged up with steam. Magnus is blurry, more a collection of shapes and colors than an actual person. But Alec can tell that he’s hunched over the counter, looking in one of the drawers.

Looking in the drawer.

Looking the complete opposite direction of the shower.

Alec smiles, though it sort of feels like he shouldn’t. He shouldn’t feel this burst of warmth in his chest because the guy he’s been dating for four months isn’t trying to see him naked. It’s stupid. It’s ridiculous. But the stupidity is all Alec’s. The fact that Alec doesn’t want to be seen naked is stupid. The fact that Magnus understands that is…

It’s nice.

Alec almost laughs out loud when he hears the distinct sound of a hairdryer. He doesn’t know why. He just wasn’t expecting it.

It makes sense. Magnus’s hair is pretty long, and it’s not like he can do any of his usual… stuff to it if it’s wet. But still. It’s kinda funny. That the High Warlock of Brooklyn is standing in his bathroom mirror right now, blowdrying his hair. It’s so… ordinary.

The few times that Alec’s been here when Magnus showers, he’s always let it dry naturally. Wrapped it up in a towel like a twisty hat for a little while, then left it down and damp. But Alec knows it takes a long-ass time to dry like that, and Magnus has places to be (which is why he’s up so goddamn early in the first place).

So here Alec is, showering. And Magnus is here with him, doing his hair. Like it’s just a thing. A thing that they do. Getting ready for the day. Separately, but still together.

And Alec realizes… he’s comfortable. Completely naked, in someone else’s bathroom, with his boyfriend right there, just a few feet away. Because he knows he’s safe. Magnus is doing his own thing. Alec’s doing his. And it’s all okay.

Alec doesn’t even feel uncomfortable as he turns off the water. Grabs the towel that’s slung over the shower door. Quickly dries off before wrapping it around his hips.

Magnus is done with the hairdryer by the time Alec gets out of the shower. He’s working his fingers through his hair, brushing it back and away from his face.

He stops for a moment, to catch Alec’s eye in the mirror. He smiles softly, and gives Alec a quick, playful wink.

Alec grins like a goddamn idiot.

But Magnus is clearly busy, and Alec is only wearing a damp towel, so he manages to contain himself and leave the bathroom right away. Maybe one or two stupid little chuckles get out of him, but that’s it. After all, it’s too early in the morning for him to get sappy. He hasn’t even had coffee yet - something that becomes even more difficult to handle when he realizes he can smell it in the bedroom and the closet. It must be done brewing by now. And it takes all of Alec’s self-control to focus on getting dressed before hunting it down.

He has a lot of clothes here. More than he probably should. But he doesn’t have a good way to bring them back. Because most of the time, when he comes back from Magnus’s, it’s first thing in the morning. And he’s trying not to be seen. Trying not to draw attention to himself. He’s not sure he can pull off ‘yeah I just went for a jog it's totally normal there's nothing suspicious going on here’ if he’s carrying a bundle of extra boxers and t-shirts.

Still, even if it’s starting to make a bit of dent in his wardrobe at the Institute… he kinda likes having clothes here. Having options, not just the one outfit.

Well, it’s not like his ‘options’ are really very different from each other (it’s literally all boxers, sweatpants, t-shirts, socks. And it’s all black. Every piece of it. Even all the socks), but it’s still something. He gets to choose which pair of faded sweatpants he puts on. He gets to make sure the socks don’t have holes in the heels - or at least, that he chooses the pair with the smallest holes. It’s small, but it’s something.

He has to fight off the temptation of coffee again as he tries to sneak into the bathroom to hang up his towel without bothering Magnus-

He stops in the doorway.

Because Magnus is…

There’s an odd, intricate sort of pattern on his face. Different colors in different patches. And he’s in the process of blending it all together, with some sort of sponge-ish thing that’s shaped like a pointy egg. About half of his face is still harsh edges and clear outlines, but the rest of it is already smoothed into…

His face. Well, his ‘face’, his usual made-up face. The contour and highlight and softness that Alec is used to seeing pretty much any time he sees Magnus. It’s a bit subtler than it is when they go out somewhere, but Alec’s not sure if that’s because this is some different ‘work’ look, or if he’s gonna make things more intense as he goes.

Alec’s seen him do his makeup once before. But that time, it was only part of it. Alec had gotten here an hour or two earlier than expected one evening, so Magnus was still in the process of getting ready. But it was just the latter half of things. The foundation was already done. Alec only saw him do his eyes and lips.

This is… this is all of it.

Magnus is just in a t-shirt and jeans (which is what Alec’s learned is his usual ‘getting ready’ outfit, presumably so he doesn’t get makeup or hair product on his nice clothes). His hair is definitely up, in a sense, but it doesn’t look quite done yet. It’s like Magnus just wanted to get it out of his face, and he’s gonna do something much more drastic to it later.

His truly gigantic makeup case is open in front of him on the counter - with the seemingly dozens of extra levels and compartments all spread open simultaneously, making it probably three times the size it is when it’s all closed up. But even though everything is open, the only thing that’s actually taken out is the sponge in Magnus’s hand. It’s an unusual image for Alec. Isabelle’s vanity always seems to be covered in endless amounts of makeup, even though she has multiple cases and drawers for it. Alec wonders if she likes to see everything she’s going to be using, all at once, and Magnus prefers only dealing with one thing at a time.

Magnus’s phone is next to the sink, and it’s quietly playing some classical music that manages to sound stupidly romantic, even though Alec has no idea what it is. But Magnus doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to it. He always hums along to whatever music happens to be playing (he even does it with commercials on tv if he knows the tune - which he usually does). And right now, he’s silent. All of his focus is being given to what he’s doing.

All of his focus is on the sponge, and his face. It’s honestly not even clear if Magnus is aware that Alec is watching him. He certainly hasn’t acknowledged Alec at all.

Which means… Alec can keep watching.

He shouldn’t. He knows he shouldn’t. This is private. This is such a… personal thing. When Alec watched him do his eye makeup a few weeks ago, Magnus had specifically told him that he could. Now Alec is just…

Trespassing.

This isn’t his to see. He can’t watch this. He can’t have this.

But… he can’t look away. It’s like he’s hypnotized by the steady, fluid movement of Magnus’s hand. By the way the harsh colors smooth so easily into a glowing, beautiful face. Alec can’t look away. It’s too beautiful. He can’t bear to miss a moment of it. Just the thought of looking away makes his heart speed up.

Or maybe… his heart is racing… just because of what he’s seeing. This makeup. This beautiful makeup, on this beautiful man. It’s-

“Care to join me?”

Magnus’s voice is light. Casual. Like it’s a simple offer. Like…

It’s been two weeks. Since Isabelle did Alec’s makeup. Since Alec showed it to Magnus. And since he told Magnus that he didn’t want to talk about it.

And Magnus hasn’t talked about it. Hasn’t brought it up.

Isabelle hasn’t mentioned it either. That day, she saw that Alec wiped off the makeup, and she hadn’t said anything. Alec had told Jace that he was just indulging Izzy, and he washed it off right away because it was a joke. And Jace accepted that, and hasn’t brought it up again. No one has. For two weeks, it’s been like it never happened.

And now…

“I…” Alec’s voice is weak. He’s too startled. It’s like he’s still hypnotized. But then, “No. No, I…” he swallows. “I can’t.”

Magnus’s hand stills, holding the sponge to his jaw. He glances at Alec in the mirror.

Alec looks away. Down to the towel that’s still in his hands.

“Well,” Magnus says in that same, easy voice, “would you like to watch? You don’t have to lurk ominously in the doorway.”

Alec’s eyes snap back up to him.

Magnus is smirking lightly at his own reflection. And he just keeps blending.

Alec opens his mouth. Closes it again. Takes a breath. “You wouldn’t mind? It’s not… weird?”

Magnus raises an eyebrow. “I don’t think I’ll start selling tickets to the public. But for certain people,” he looks at Alec with that small smile of his, “I don’t mind at all.”

Something swarms in Alec’s stomach. Like butterflies, but sharper. And even though he’s not quite sure what he’s feeling…

He steps into the bathroom. He hangs his towel on the hook on the back of the door-

And he’s not sure what to do. Can he just…?

Magnus smiles to himself. And - because he always knows what Alec’s thinking - he nods toward the counter.

Right next to him.

Alec tries to take a deep breath, but it ends up feeling strained. Still, he goes over to the counter.

But it feels like a bit too much to literally sit down right next to Magnus and just stare at him while he’s trying to get ready for the day. So Alec keeps a bit of distance. He sits at the far end of the counter, only a few inches in from the door. The bathroom is so ridiculously big that it leaves a foot or two of empty counter space between him and Magnus.

But it’s still… kinda nice. Weirdly nice. For Alec to sit on the marble counter top, leaning back against the mirror (he’ll clean off the smudges when he’s done), watching Magnus. It’s a nice angle. Because they’re technically facing each other, but the little bit of distance means they aren’t actually looking at each other. So Alec can watch Magnus do his makeup, without being in Magnus’s way. Magnus is still looking straight ahead, right in the mirror, but Alec’s pretty sure he’s far enough in Magnus’s periphery to not be a distraction.

It’s… yeah. It’s nice.

It’s still a little weird, but it’s mostly nice.

Magnus tilts his face, like he’s making sure he blended everything evenly. Alec feels a pang of deja vu, remembering how he’d made the same little movements himself when he was looking at the makeup Isabelle had done for him.

Apparently, Magnus is satisfied. Because he puts the sponge in a perfectly sponge-shaped space in his makeup case. He rummages around for a moment, and pulls out-

It’s a stupidly big compact. And inside it is a stupidly big powder-puff thing. It’s like the one Isabelle used, but it’s a little… flatter? It’s less of a ‘puff’ and more of a pad. And it’s not pink. It’s a shade that’s so close to Magnus’s skin tone that Alec can only assume it used to be white at one point, and it’s just absorbed that much makeup over time. It may be less pretty than what Isabelle had used, but it looks a bit more practical.

And as Alec watches Magnus powder his face - pressing it in with dozens of small, firm movements - he starts realizing how strange it’s going to keep watching. Because it’s different now. Alec may have seen Magnus do this before, but this time…

Alec knows what it’s like. What Magnus is doing to himself is exactly what Isabelle had done to Alec. So as Alec watches Magnus smooth the powder over his forehead, Alec remembers what it’s like. What it had felt like. He knows.

His throat is tightening. Closing up. Because he’s watching Magnus do this and he knows Magnus always does this and it makes so much sense that Magnus is doing this… and Alec knows how it feels. And seeing Magnus get to do this, get to have this, just reminds Alec how much he can’t have it. But he’s struck with the knowledge of what it’s like, how it feels, and it makes it all wrong. Because Magnus is allowed to have this, and Alec isn’t, so Alec shouldn’t know what it feels like, it’s wrong, it’s all wrong, Alec is wrong, there’s something wrong with him-

“It m- it makes sense. For you.” Alec sputters in a small voice, the words already out by the time he’s registered that he’s talking.

Magnus pauses again, and Alec can’t tell if it’s because of what he said, or because he's checking his face.

After a moment, he closes the compact and puts it back in his makeup case. He takes out a big, fluffy brush, and dusts his face with it. “But it doesn’t make sense for you?” He keeps his focus on the mirror. He doesn’t look at Alec.

Alec is immensely grateful for that, since he can feel his face heating up. He’s not sure if it’s because of the situation, or how ridiculous he just sounded, or how fucking helpless and stupid he feels for not being able to fucking talk about this like a normal person. Literally the only response he can possibly think of is just a pathetic, useless, “No.”

“Why not?”

Magnus is still using that voice. The one that’s easy and almost… flippant. Like what he’s saying isn’t important. But he does it because he knows that what he’s saying is important. Important enough that Alec doesn’t know how to talk about it. So Magnus uses this voice, pretends that it’s a casual conversation about nothing at all. He makes it easy.

Alec’s chest constricts, like his ribcage is trying to close in and smother his heart. Why is Magnus like this? Why does he always think of things like this? Why is he so thoughtful? Why does he… care?

“I don’t, uh-” Alec cuts himself off, rolling his eyes at the sound of his own stupid voice. “I don’t… understand it.”

Magnus’s eyebrows furrow for a moment. It looks strange, because the rest of his face is smiling. He’s doing blush now, a shade that’s so subtle that Alec’s not sure he’d notice it’s there if he weren’t actually watching it happen. Magnus follows the shape of his cheek as he smiles, and Alec can tell that the smile is just a placeholder. It’s not genuine. Magnus looks confused. “Do you mean, you don’t understand how it works?”

Alec frowns. “No-” he cuts himself off. Because, well, that’s not not the problem. It’s not like one makeover means Alec feels like he has actual, functional knowledge of how this stuff works.

But still, that’s not the real problem. Tha