"What do you say we get out of here?"
A fairly innocuous statement. An open invitation to leave the party before Luke got drunk enough to start planting kisses on everyone's cheeks, and well before the nudging and winking could occur, once people realise that Magnus and Alec are together.
Or, something close to that. They haven't really talked about it. There's an understanding in the air, that what has passed is left behind where it belongs, that they've both learnt from it, but Alec feels like he's still treading foreign grounds.
He's apologised, because Magnus deserves that - that, and so much more - and he'd stood before Magnus, ribcage spread open to reveal his aching, bleeding heart, and told the truth, just as Magnus had always asked of him, just as he always should have.
"I don't think I can live without you."
There was nothing else to it.
His life before Magnus hadn't been much of a life at all; he'd been a shadow, a ghost, floating through life doing exactly what was expected of him, his own desires pushed aside because they simply didn't matter. Back then, fighting demons, keeping his siblings safe, living up to the ideals and standards set by his parents from the moment he could hold a stele - that mattered more than anything.
He locked his heart in a box and pretended that it didn't hurt when Isabelle came back from a party, or a night with Meliorn, cheeks pink and eyes alight with the kind of shining happiness that Alec had only ever dreamed of. Pretended that his ribs didn't ache, when Jace clapped him on the shoulder, grin as golden as the sun, and called him brother.
And then he met Magnus. And things were different.
Not immediately, because two decades of self-loathing and constricting himself into a mold he'd never had any hope of forcing into, is not a weight that simply falls away. It's knocking down walls, brick by brick, comfortable in the knowledge that doing so won't leave him unprotected and vulnerable. It's re-learning everything he's ever been told, everything he's ever told himself, it's re-wiring his own thoughts until they reflect the truth, other than just what he's supposed to think.
It's cutting all ties to the angry, closed-off, hurting boy he'd been before, and letting himself fall, with the assurance that he will be caught.
Magnus had. Magnus had caught him with open, welcoming arms, and supported him as he stumbled down a brand new, unexpected road. A road that lead to Magnus, to being carefree and finally accepting of himself after a lifetime of crippling insecurity and hiding away.
For Alec, ultimately - it lead to him being happy. Truly, unequivocally, happy.
That had dampened considerably after recent events, of course. He'd gone from feeling balanced and, whilst not perfect, good - to just, aimless. Floating. Hollow. Not empty, but not quite whole, either.
And yet, he'd felt comfortable. He'd been aching and hurting and a little broken, and he'd consistently found himself wrapping an arm around his stomach to keep himself from unravelling where he stood - but he hadn't felt like he was pretending to be someone else.
He wasn't proud of his actions, wasn't proud of lying to Magnus, even if it was simply by omission, because that wasn't fair - and he knows that now.
But, he didn't feel bad about himself. He may not have smiled as much, he might have snapped easier, and he might have withdrawn back into his shell as though that would make the problems cease to exist - but he wasn't compromising on himself for the sake of others.
He's not hiding in the shadows anymore, and despite all of the mistakes he's made, at least he's being true to himself.
Something that he does, in part, have Magnus to thank for that, because Magnus gave him the encouragement to actually follow his heart, and be the person he is, not the person others thought he should be.
Following his heart had lead him to Magnus.
The path of his heart is, he's found, a mobius strip - no matter the direction, he always ends up back where he belongs.
The New York air has a refreshingly cold bite to it, a sharp contrast to the encompassing warmth that had been almost suffocating inside the bar. Alec has learnt, over the recent months, how to have fun just because, how to let go and enjoy himself - but he's still not a big fan of crowds, because he doesn't have control over the situation, and that's when the thread of his resolve starts to fray.
Magnus loves parties. And yet - here he is, breathing the same cool air as Alec, palms pressed together between them as they soak in the oddly pleasant revel of city nightlife.
No demons, no Valentine breathing down their necks, no pressure weighing on their shoulders. Just, them.
There's a chasm between them that they're yet to cross, but it's smaller than it's been since they'd last shared dinner together. It's a hop, a skip, a jump across. Alec doesn't want to take the leap just yet, though. He doesn't want to just fall back into what they had before, because he's grown since then, he's learnt a lot from the mistakes he's made, and he wants to talk to Magnus about it first, wants to clarify everything before they cross the distance.
Alec has just, in essence, got Magnus back. He's not going to squander the chance to savour that because of a lack of patience.
It is a virtue, after all, for a reason.
Magnus squeezes Alec's hand, just slightly, and if Alec hadn't been achingly aware of every point of contact between them, he probably wouldn't have noticed. He glances over, hope causing a stir inside his heart, veins thrumming with the reminder that this is happening, it's real, it's not a dream he'll wake up from, as he has so often before.
Magnus' pulse hums beneath his skin. His eyes are shining with something warm and unbridled; he doesn't speak. He doesn't have to. A thousand sentiments pass between them in the drifting silence.
I missed you.
Alec hadn't quite understood just how deeply Magnus had become ingrained inside of his heart, how big a part of his life Magnus had become, before it had all been torn away. Now, he feels like a hole inside of his core has been filled, like he was walking around, lost without a compass to guide him.
Magnus is his compass, his North Star.
Magnus is the home that Alec can't wait to return to. And he can, again. Which is a miracle greater than any angel could grant him.
Alec watches the overcast lights flickering in Magnus' eyes, thinks of every conversation that has passed through them, every utter of love and protection, of the power that flashes through like strikes of lightning - he's about to say something, though he hasn't quite figured out what, when the sweet, mouth-watering scent of freshly-roasted coffee wafts towards him.
It hits him, suddenly, how long he's been awake for, how tired he truly is, now that the stamina runes he'd burnt into his skin have worn off, nothing more than silver track marks and depleted energy.
The distraction of Magnus at his side, however pleasant, is not enough to disguise the exhausting toll the recent days have taken on him. Magnus, being the ever-tuned and observant man he is, notices immediately.
"Tired?" He asks, kindly. "I can portal us home."
He seems to hear what he said once the words are out, cheeks burning a hot pink, though he doesn't make any move to take it back. Alec knows that he needs sleep, that he'll get a better sleep, and more of it, if he follows Magnus back to the loft, back home.
It hasn't been home for days, though. And while Alec would love nothing more than to, literally, hop back into things, he can't. He refuses to mess this up, again.
"I don't think I could get to sleep now," He says, not so much a lie, as half of a truth. "I'm too ... on-edge."
The last part is not a lie. His skin is vibrating like there are electric currents through it, and he finds himself constantly checking in on little things; the steady beat of his heart, the hum of Jace's bond, miles beneath the surface but still there, the reassuring presence of Magnus' body next to his.
Perhaps coffee isn't the best thing to calm him down. But it will keep him awake, for long enough to clear the air, and besides, Magnus has always had a knack for melting away what is stressing him, as easy as unravelling threads.
Magnus glances past Alec, towards the scent of coffee, and the golden light spilling from a cafe door. He smiles, clicking into what Alec is thinking, a key sliding into a lock. "Coffee, then? Perhaps some cake." His mouth tugs into the barest smirk. Alec's missed it more than he'd like to admit. "I'm thinking chocolate, personally."
Alec squeezes Magnus' hand. "Sounds perfect."
Any plan where Magnus is by his side, is a plan that Alec will gladly get behind.
"I reject that notion."
Magnus is pointing his fork at Alec, lips pressed into a thin line, eyes alight with shining happiness. He looks relaxed, and free, and a part of Alec aches at the sight. It's a pleasant, welcome ache, and one he would gladly shoulder for the price of Magnus' joy.
"It was a little..." Alec searches for the word Isabelle had used. "Sassy."
It feels odd on his tongue, unfamiliar and a little alien. Worth it, though, for Magnus' short spout of laughter, the clink of his fork as it bounces against the plate between them. Alec cradles his mug, lets the warmth seep into his fingertips, humbled by the warm atmosphere, and even warmer company.
"It's a deflective maneuver," Magnus explains, with a deflated sigh. "I pulled walls up, once I entered that elevator, and I intended on keeping them up." It's clearly not easy for him to admit, and hearing it isn't that fun either, but Alec appreciates Magnus' honesty. "If I called you by your name, it would defeat the aloof, I'm-totally-fine-without-you aura I was trying to surround myself with."
Alec wasn't okay without Magnus. And it had hurt, a brass-knuckled punch to his solar plexus, to hear Magnus call him Shadowhunter, low and disinterested, as though everything that had happened between them was nothing more than memories and dust motes carried away by mistakes in the wind.
Not that Alec could blame Magnus. He never has. Not for a single second.
"Okay, I can understand that-" Alec focuses on the cup in his hand, the press of Magnus' foot against his beneath the table, the blossom of heat spreading out and lighting up his veins. "But, I do have to ask..."
Magnus quirks an eyebrow, amusement warring with hesitation in his eyes.
"Did you have to say 'duh'?" Alec smirks, soft and slow. "I get that ... you and I both knew the obvious nature of my visit, did you have to say that?"
Magnus shuffles in his seat, sheepishness curling his shoulders forward. "I was hurting, Alexander." He admits, quietly. Something sharp pierces Alec's sternum, a needle point to his spine. "It wasn't easy, seeing you there, remembering what I was doing to you, to us. To myself. At the time I still believed it was the best decision, but that didn't make it an easy one."
He chuckles, a huff of sharp-edged breath and bitter laughter. "It was, perhaps, a little unnecessary. But I often attack outward, in situations like that. Far easier to push you away than let you in, again."
Alec carefully puts his mug down, reaching out to take Magnus' hand in his. Their fingers curl together, callous pads and ornate rings, heat radiating from their palms like rays of sunlight.
Alec never realised how much he could miss Magnus' touch, until he found himself starved of it.
"But you have," Alec says, before amending: "You are."
"I'm trying," Magnus corrects, gaze on their hands. He inhales deeply, almost steeling himself, head ducked to keep from having to look at Alec. "I stand by my decision, because I did believe it to be the right one at the time - however, I recognise that I shouldn't have pushed you away. I'm sorry. It wasn't meant to be personal, it was meant to be about survival; how I ever thought I could survive without you, though, I'll never know."
He adds the last part like an afterthought, more to himself than Alec.
Alec is fine-tuned to Magnus' waves, though, he picks up on minor alterations in behaviour, inflections of tone, implications of guilt and responsibility.
Raziel will rise - again - before Alec lets Magnus take sole weight of the situation himself.
"I'm sorry I gave you reason to mistrust me," Alec says, quietly. "I thought I was saving you a difficult decision. Instead I pointed you towards it."
Magnus looks up at that, sharply, but Alec feels a renewed sense of determination, and he refuses to stop before the steam has run out.
"I shouldn't have kept the Soul Sword a secret. If it was a disgrace that the Clave kept it from me, then it is an even bigger insult that I kept it from you. From a personal standpoint, a professional one - I should have told you. I shouldn't have made the decision for you. I shouldn't have given you reason to doubt me. For that-" Alec waves his free hand broadly. "For all of this, I'm sorry."
He thinks that he could apologise, every day until his last breath, and it still wouldn't feel adequate. He doubts he can ever make it up to Magnus, but he wants to, he wants to work on earning back the trust that he so foolishly lost.
"You thought you were doing the right thing," Magnus shakes his head. "I told you, Alexander, you do not have to keep apologising."
Hearing his name, without pain flaring through him, with his senses perked to every little thing Magnus does, feels like a gift.
"I would." Alec states. "If I needed to, if you wanted reassurance that you can trust me, I would. I don't want to ever give you a reason to doubt me, again."
Magnus smiles, dazedly, staring at Alec in his you-never-cease-to-amaze-me way. It chases off what little chill had remained, a soothing balm over his torn soul. They can fix this. It won't be easy, because the best things never are, and after all, relationships take effort.
But they're on the same page again, finally, their story is being written by them, and them alone, and Alec is so relieved he feels like crying.
"I love you." Magnus says. It's the last knot required to stitch them back together, the sealing of a bond that had been fractured, but not broken.
Alec forgot how healing love could be.
"I love you, too."
Magnus doesn't think much about anything, other than the bath he's desperate to have, as he twists his hand to open the door to the loft. Alec's hand is warm in his, an anchoring point of comfort, and something that Magnus feels the loss of keenly.
He turns on his heel, shoulders bunching up instinctively. Alec is still in the hallway, standing on the other side of the door, looking at Magnus with a mix of apprehension and yearning.
Magnus stares back. He's already informed all of the warlocks staying at his apartment that Valentine was dead, obliterated, wiped from existence permanently - none of them had been interested in staying. Warlocks tend to be reclusive people, they like their own homes and space and the ability to set something on fire if the desire occurs.
Magnus has a strict no-violent-magic rule inside his loft - it is his belongings, after all, that are on the line - and a lot of warlocks do not, as it so happens, appreciate being told what to do.
Magnus is grateful he has his loft back, to himself - and Alec. If he crossed the threshold.
"I didn't alter the wards," Magnus says, after a moment. He can't imagine what is keeping Alec away. "You're not going to be, fried or anything."
It was something he hadn't been able to bring himself to do. Remove Alec from the apartment. There's still signs of him, everywhere. A mug in the cupboard that is black and plain and boring and beautifully Alec; a spare toothbrush in the bathroom; an extra seraph blade tucked beneath his bed, despite the fact that he has no use for one; a handful of clothes shoved to the side of his walk-in closet that are far too utilitarian for his tastes; a well-read paperback out on the balcony that he hadn't the heart to move.
Alec's eyes widen slightly, though that admittedly could be at the idea that he might have otherwise been fried. He shifts his weight, shoes scuffing at the ground, arms pulled behind his back.
It's been far longer than Magnus thought, since he'd seen Alec nervous around him.
"Just-" Alec glances up, silently pleading for a moment, for a chance to sort his thoughts out. Magnus gladly gives him the chance.
Alec's gaze flickers, from the threshold, the divide between the hall and the apartment, to Magnus, and the inside of the loft, flickering over a room that Magnus realises, belatedly, Alec has been distant from.
Magnus holds out his hand, a silent invitation, a beckoning. Something in Alec settles, a smile growing with each hesitant step that he takes into the apartment. His hand fits into Magnus' like it's meant to be there, and his smile fits against Magnus', because it is meant to be there.
"Welcome home," Magnus mutters against Alec's lips, his hand coming up to cup Alec's cheek, knowing that if he doesn't touch Alec somewhere he might very well combust.
"Home," Alec whispers against Magnus' cheek. He hasn't stopped smiling. Magnus can't either. "It's been a while."
Magnus hums, peppering a line of soft kisses along Alec's jaw, up his cheek, before just resting his forehead against Alec's. He keeps his eyes closed, breath mixing with Alec's, allowing himself a moment to just soak Alec in.
Alec's hands are pressed to him firmly, one hand on his hip, the other on the small of his back. It feels a lot like Alec is keeping Magnus in place, and for the first time in what feels like forever, but is surely less than that, Magnus feels whole.
"I missed you," Magnus admits. It's a little easier, baring his soul, owning up to the truth, now that Alec is here, tangible and real and warm beneath his hands.
Alec's hand tightens over Magnus' hip. "I don't think I ever stopped thinking about you. Even when it was hard, even when it hurt-" Alec cuts himself off, nose bumping slightly against Magnus', lips brushing teasing and slow and sweet.
It's only when Magnus kisses back, when the taste of salt startles him, that he realises Alec is crying.
He pulls back immediately, hands cupping Alec's cheeks, thumbs brushing away the tears that slide down Alec's cheeks like racing drops of rain. Alec's smile is watery, but Magnus can see that he is trying to keep it together, trying to stop the tears before they can waterfall, and is - unfortunately - failing.
Magnus kisses at the corners of Alec's eyes, thumbs stroking on his cheeks, in as fond an attempt as he can manage, to reassure Alec that despite what has gone down between them, they're okay.
"I'm sorry," Alec presses his lips together firmly. Magnus thinks that he'd be shaking his head, if Magnus wasn't holding his face, to try and pull himself together by dismissing it all.
Magnus is done with dismissing feelings. It never helps anyone.
"There's nothing to be sorry about," He assures Alec, electing to sound calm, for anything else he believes would sound patronising, if unintentionally so, and that is the last thing that Alec needs. "It's okay to let yourself feel things."
"That doesn't-" Alec's breath hitches, guilt etching lines in his forehead. "That doesn't mean it's okay to ... I mean, I - and we ... it was such a nice moment."
Magnus hadn't thought it possible to fall any further in love with Alec. At first. He learnt, quickly, that he'll never stop falling in love with Alec. Every day, every second, there is something new to fall for, some deeper depth to Alec that Magnus yearns to touch.
Seeing Alec trip over his words in a haste to get them out, reminds him, sweet and poignant, of the beginning of their relationship, when Alec felt more than he had words to express.
Magnus closes the distance between them slowly, swallowing the surprised gasp that falls from Alec's lips. It's something he has been sorely missing, if he's being honest with himself, but this very moment is not about him, it's about reassuring Alec.
It escapes him, sometimes, that this is still Alec's first relationship. He's grown incredibly since their early interactions, but this is the only experience he's ever had. Magnus has a few lifetimes behind him; Alec only has the last couple of months.
Second-guessing his own behaviour isn't all that out of the ordinary. It's up to Magnus, to help Alec through it, to guide him, though the journey itself is all Alec's doing.
Magnus pulls back, hand sliding to grasp the back of Alec's neck, fingers tangled in his hair, because he knows that in an emotionally-vulnerable situation like this, an anchor is what Alec needs.
"We do not have to jump back into what we had before, Alec." Magnus states, pulling back to give Alec his complete attention. "We can't erase the past few days. We just take each minute, each moment, as it comes. We can't orchestrate what happens, any more than we can control how we feel."
Alec blinks back the few errant tears still threatening to fall, the corners of his mouth twisting down mournfully. "I hate not being in control."
At this, Magnus can't restrain a soft laugh. "I know." He strokes his thumb along the nape of Alec's neck. "Believe me. But that is an unfortunate fact of life, that we cannot have control over everything. It's a matter of greed, and power."
An involuntary shiver races down Alec's spine, a phantom echo following down Magnus'. Valentine's death is still weighing on both of their minds. It's hard to shake off such a constant, manic presence, and it will likely take them a long time to move on.
Alec lifts his free hand, scrubbing it over his face. Before he can drop it, Magnus catches it, intertwining their fingers in a beautiful knot. Alec summons a weak smile, but Magnus can tell that there is something still worrying at him.
Fortunately, centuries have taught him the beauty of patience.
"I'm such a mess," Alec mutters, self-deprecatingly. "This was supposed to be nice and, and - after everything, I just-"
"Alexander." Magnus shakes his head, fondly. He'd truly missed Alec more than he'd even realised. "This evening doesn't have any expectations tied to it, and neither should it. And, I promise you-" Magnus glances up at Alec through hooded eyes, making sure that Alec is really looking at him, so that his words don't induce any ounce of doubt.
"You, my love, are beautiful."
Alec is looking at Magnus like he's mad.
Magnus personally thinks that is quite an unfair assumption, because he's not crazy. He's not asking Alec to spill his blood to raise an angel, or even to sport some eyeliner and tight pants and grind on the Pandemonium dancefloor.
All Magnus has done is invite Alec into the bath.
"Together?" Alec croaks out, cheeks lighting a flushed pink.
Magnus has always adored the fact that he could incite such a sweet reaction from Alec. He's come admirably far in becoming comfortable with himself, and the multiple facets that come with a relationship, but some things simply never change.
"You don't have to." Magnus shrugs. "But I am going to, because I'm not sure I'll be standing if I don't soak my muscles, and if it takes your fancy, there is an open invitation."
Alec looks torn. Genuinely torn. Magnus hadn't expected it to be such a difficult decision; it's not like he's proposing they have sex. He's not even saying that Alec has to join him. He'd like it, because the idea of being away from Alec, by any stretch of distance, grates at the parts of him that are slowly stitching themselves back together.
He doesn't want to pressure Alec into anything, though.
"It's just a bath," Magnus adds. "It doesn't have to be anything more than that."
"Wouldn't you-" Alec waves his hand, broadly, the other one tugging at the hem of his shirt. "Wouldn't you prefer to ... have the time to yourself?"
Magnus inclines his head to the side, slightly, moving the barest bit forward, until he's close enough to reach out and wrap his hand around Alec's elbow. "I've had enough time to myself, recently." He admits, tone soft despite the raw honesty. "I wouldn't mind some company."
Something inside of Magnus blossoms, unbidden, as Alec stares at him, looking for the most part as though he's found something precious. Something he'd almost lost. It's a sweet feeling, albeit a tad painful - though all of it disappears when Alec leans in.
Magnus' lids flutter closed on instinct, his body curving to meet Alec's, chest to chest and-
It's a little startling, when Alec's lips land on Magnus' forehead. Magnus sucks in a sharp breath, heart pounding an incomprehensible beat, but Alec doesn't move. He keeps his kiss on Magnus' skin, and the world around them drops away. Magnus grips Alec's arm tighter, his other hand floundering by his side, because again, he is caught by surprise, because again, Alec has done something so beautifully unexpected.
Magnus can feel tears pricking at his eyes, but he blinks them back, because he refuses to let such a delicate moment unravel at fault of his wayward emotions. It is possibly a little hypocritical, after what Magnus had said to Alec, but he'd encouraged Alec to let himself feel because it's what Alec had needed. After a lifetime of squashing down any hint of emotion, Alec sometimes still needs the encouragement and support to accept that what he is feeling is perfectly valid, that he's allowed to feel, that he isn't going to be judged for it.
Magnus tends to lose control, of many things, when he lets his emotions loose. More than that, though ... he's sick of feeling like he's being stretched thin, tired of feeling like a scrunched-up piece of paper, crinkled and stomped on, sick of feeling hopeless and foolish.
It's selfish, he knows, but he wants to bury himself under the blanket of Alec's love and forget that Valentine was even born, that he ever scorched the earth with his vile presence, that any of them were ever brought into this horrible war.
Magnus knows that darkness is inescapable, that a balance between it and the light is necessary, if unfortunate. But he doesn't care about balance or equilibrium because he's missed Alec, more than he could have ever anticipated, and he wants to overload himself on the relief of having Alec back.
He knows that things aren't suddenly perfect between them, pre-existing tension cannot be simply resolved with a few soft kisses, but they'll work on it, together, even when the world is pressing in on them, urging them to give it up.
Despite the troubles that come with it, Magnus can't imagine his world without Alec in it.
"A bath sounds good to me," Alec mutters the words against Magnus' temple like a reverence.
Magnus feels as though he could cut all grounding ties and float off the wings of Alec's presence alone.
"I'll break out the sandalwood."
Alec laughs, and the sound warms the inside of Magnus' chest like champagne bubbles. It could, of course, actually be the champagne slipping through his veins, though Magnus prefers to think it's all Alec's sole doing.
"You flirted with your own plate?" Alec echoes Magnus' prior words, practically wheezing with his attempt to restrain his laughter.
Magnus tightens his arms around Alec's waist, thumb stroking along the bottom curve of Alec's ribcage, idly. The water is hot, though not scorching, and the jasmine candles positioned around the room fill the air with a sweet scent complimented by the multitude of sandalwood bath products.
Magnus can't remember when it became their scent. Just that it is.
"I was quite intoxicated," Magnus points out, breath ghosting over the shell of Alec's ear. "At one point, I apparently elected to start a new life as a cactus. I don't believe any decisions I made that night are particularly prestigious."
Alec tilts his head, turning to look up at Magnus. There's bubbles framing his head like a crown, but nothing is as priceless as the light dancing in his eyes. Magnus would empty his vault to keep that smile on Alec's face.
"It was not a union meant to last," Magnus says, softly, gaze locked with Alec's. "I should never have entertained crockery as a love interest. I'm open-minded, but that is, perhaps, a step too far."
Alec presses his lips together, stifling a laugh, though the grin remains. "Let no one say that the famed Magnus Bane isn't up for anything,"
Under other circumstances, Magnus would wink, drop a flirty line, stroke his hand lower down Alec's bare torso. Instead, he finds himself struck with the inability to do anything but stare.
Not for the first time, he ponders how he managed to get so lucky.
"I've found a better love story," Magnus whispers, lifting a hand to stroke along the curve of Alec's chin, beneath the pink lips stretched into an awe-inspired smile. "Incomparable. Even to a gilded plate."
A flash of disbelief crosses Alec's eyes, and for a moment, Magnus wonders if he'll have to convince Alec, if he'll have to put into words just how important Alec is, just how incomparable their love is. If he'll need to explain to Alec that there has never before been anyone like him, and never will there be.
Alec is it. For better or worse.
Once again, Alec metaphorically pulls the rug out from underneath Magnus' feet. A truly sweeping gesture.
"It's an honour." He says, softly, lifting his hand to wrap around Magnus', resting their joined hands on his chest. "I hope I can live up to your expectations," Alec continues, his voice warm but threaded with thin veins of guilt. "Wouldn't want you to run off with a, bowl or something."
And so, the fork ran away with the spoon. Magnus doubts the Shadowhunters have mundane lullabies, but the thought brings a hint of amusement.
None of it compares to the swell of love like waves that crash over him. He's drowned in love before, suffocated within it, but this is nothing like that. With the support of Alec's unending love, Magnus can do nothing but float.
"You won't be getting rid of me that easily," Magnus promises, echoing his earlier sentiment, on the beach, with Edom below their feet.
Magnus knows he should tell Alec about Edom, his connection to it, the full force of his heritage. But tonight is not the time for heavy secrets or weighted pasts. Tonight is for reconciliation and gratitude and enjoying their time together before the real world comes knocking.
Alec's hand tightens around Magnus'. "I thought I had," He says, softly. "I was worried that I'd messed up so bad, I wouldn't be able to make amends. That I had lost you."
Magnus shakes his head, a minute amount. "You haven't." He promises, tilting his head to drop a kiss on the corner of Alec's mouth. "You won't. Not if I have anything to do with it."
He's gotten a glimpse at a life without Alec, and it is not worth the pain.
It's unclear who moves first, and it doesn't matter much, either. The kiss is slow and sweet and achingly familiar. Magnus had missed this. Missed having Alec so close, missed the youthful excitement he puts into the relationship, the dedication to pressing as close to Magnus as he can, until it's impossible to determine where one ends and the other begins.
Most of all, though, he's just missed Alec, and everything that comes with him.
"I haven't been able to sleep, you know?"
Alec hovers at the threshold of the bathroom, hands resting over his sweatpants. He hadn't taken back the spare clothes that had accumulated at Magnus', and slipping them on felt like the last puzzle piece clicking into place.
I'm finally home.
Magnus glances up, from his seat at his vanity. Half of his makeup has been cleaned, his dark cobalt robe highlighting the smooth golden planes of his skin, the soft down of his product-free hair.
"I haven't either." He replies, quietly.
Alec crosses over to him, slowly, catching the way the lights of the vanity reflect in Magnus' eyes, the soft hints of a smile tugging at his mouth, though something somber is left behind.
Alec squeezes Magnus' shoulder, dropping a kiss to his forehead. Magnus' eyes flutter closed, his hand coming up to rest over Alec's.
"Perhaps tonight," Alec whispers. "We'll both get some sleep."
Magnus hums thoughtfully. "We certainly deserve it."
Alec huffs warmly, pulling back reluctantly. "That's an understatement," He quips, turning towards the bed. The sheets have changed colour, again. Magnus must have done it whilst Alec was still in the bathroom.
Gone are the silky, vibrant crimson, replaced instead with a gentle, calming gold, trimmed with a snowy white thread, pillows a similar ivory. Alec would doubt the connection, to a Shadowhunter's wedding attire, if he didn't know better. Magnus doesn't do anything without purpose.
Gold for a wedding. Gold, for love and commitment, for courage, passion, magic, and wisdom. Gold, for the first time Alec took a step forward, a step towards something - or rather, someone - that he wanted, the first time he let himself entertain the idea of truly finding love with someone.
Alec pulls back the covers, slowly. "I like the new sheets," He comments, aiming for conversational.
"Hm," Magnus glances at him through the vanity mirror. "I thought you might."
Alec laughs softly to himself, the sound accompanied by a huff from Magnus, a gentle orchestra. Alec settles himself into the bed, his skin shivering at contact with the cool sheets. He already feels more comfortable than he has in his own bed, back at the Institute - he'd realised, that first lonely night, that the Institute had never truly been home. It had been a place to sleep, a place to train and work, but never home.
Home is a warm place where you can relax, where you can drop the stresses of the day off your shoulders and leave them outside the door, somewhere you can be yourself without fear of judgement or ostracisation.
Home is here. Home is not an Institute, nor is it a Brooklyn penthouse.
Home is anywhere Magnus can be found.
"I hope you know," Magnus' voice drifts. "I'm expecting major cuddles. The bed has been unfortunately cold without your human-heater presence to keep me warm. Lonely, too, though you wouldn't catch me admitting it."
Alec pats the space beside him, smirking at Magnus across the room. It feels nice to joke around, again. "You'd best get over here, then." He suggests, not as light as he'd admittedly like to be. "Or I'll be forced to revoke your cuddle privileges."
Magnus stands up from the chair with an enviable grace that leaves Magnus' mouth a little dry. "Cuddle privileges?"
Alec shrugs, his smirk gaining confidence and strength. "You're wasting precious time."
Magnus narrows his eyes slightly, fighting a smirk of his own as he crosses to the bed. He discards the robe on his way, not that Alec sees where it goes. Between one blink and the next, Magnus is there, heat radiating from his chest as he curls closer to Alec, one arm sliding possessively up Alec's torso, lips desperately far from Alec's.
"Hi," Alec whispers, anything more than one syllable too complicated for his stuttering heart and blank mind.
Nothing else registers, but the ghost of Magnus' breath on his skin, the slow, open-mouthed kisses he decorates the column of Alec's neck with. He peppers kisses along Alec's jaw, teasing the corners of Alec's mouth with the brush of his lips, before pulling himself up, so that he's leaning over Alec, giving Alec little choice but to lock gazes, as though Alec would want to look anywhere else.
Alec will always look to Magnus before anything, or anyone else.
"Hello." Magnus grins, hand splayed over Alec's chest. "Might I check in those cuddle privileges, now?"
Alec ghosts his lips over Magnus' cheek, pressing a kiss to the corner of his left eye. Magnus seems to get the hint, because he always knows what Alec is thinking, even when Alec doesn't.
The glamour drops, and Alec breathes a sigh of relief. There's the sight he'd been aching for. The real Magnus, that only he's lucky enough to see. Alec draws Magnus into a kiss, slow and patient, committing to memory the bow of Magnus' mouth, the passion that runs through him like humming electricity, the sweet undertones of coffee and the burnt sugar of magic that he's always associated with Magnus, with love and being loved.
Magnus falls back, pulling Alec with him, until they're on their sides, legs tucked together, hands reaching out to whatever they can, arms and chests and necks graced by scorching touches, a trail of fire that dims to a low heat, simmering beneath the surface.
"Better?" Alec asks, aiming for coy.
Magnus shakes his head, his hand trailing up Alec's neck, pushing up into the ends of his hair, thumb pressed behind his ear. He's not wearing his rings, which isn't a new concept, because he doesn't usually wear any jewelry at all to bed, but it's a pleasant reminder of what Magnus lets Alec see, that Magnus lets him in at all, to the deep, most intimate parts of himself.
"Any distance," Magnus murmurs, leaning into Alec, into the hand that trails up his arm and settles over his elbow. "Is too much distance."
His lips are on Alec's before Alec has a chance to reply, but words are never as effective as actions, and nothing speaks louder than the push and pull of two hearts entwined. They kiss, soft lips and softer touches, until sleep calls to them like sirens, and the kisses turn into sleepy pecks, into heads bowed against necks and arms thrown over bodies so tight that space is nothing more than a concept.
For the first time, in a long time, they both sleep solidly through the night.
Magnus looks peaceful when he's asleep. Beautifully so. Like he's found a pocket where hurt and darkness can't reach him, and he's soaking it up for all it's worth.
The curtains are drawn, but still the sunrise fights to get in, coating the room with a soft glow, the implication of dawn without the heat of direct sunlight. Alec allows himself a few more, fleeting moments, to just look at Magnus, let the reminder that they're okay, that it isn't a dream soak in, before he swings himself out of bed.
Usually, he'd love nothing more than to stay in the warm cocoon of Magnus' arms until he absolutely has to move, but this isn't a usual morning.
This is the first morning, in a while, that he's woken up next to Magnus, and he wants to make it special. He can't take back the mistakes he's made, and he can't keep uttering rhetoric apologies because the sentiment will quickly lose its meaning.
He can, however, show Magnus how sorry he is, how deep his love runs, how thankful to the universe he is that he didn't mess it up, how lucky he knows he is to have Magnus love him in return, because Magnus loves as fiercely and passionately as he wields magic and it is nothing short of a gift.
Especially for Alec, who never even thought he'd get a chance at love, let alone with someone so forgiving and patient and endlessly kind.
Alec trudges out of the bedroom, careful not to make too much noise for fear of waking Magnus up, and heads towards the kitchen.
Magnus isn't sure what, exactly, wakes him up. The distinct lack of a body in the bed next to him, where there had definitely been one, or the low bang and muttered curses that filter beneath the bedroom door.
It could really be either of those things.
Magnus' curiosity is bigger than his desire to stay in bed, mostly because it's a very lonely bed, and it only takes him a few minutes to wrap himself in his robe, tidy up his hair, and face, so that he at least looks human, if bare, and shuffle out into the main living area. The curtains are open, sunlight streaking across the room with outstretched hands, the air tinted with the smell of coffee and something sweeter.
Alec is standing at the kitchen bench, a faded olive top joining the grey sweatpants he'd fallen asleep in, hair artfully tousled and dipping over his forehead in curled locks. Did Magnus miss Alec have a shower? Did he really sleep through that? Magnus is aware of just how tired he'd been, considering how long it's been since his magic had been so quickly and drastically depleted, and sleep is at the core of things the best cure, but he's a little disappointed in his subconscious, if he's honest.
Although, the brown paper bag, and cardboard coffee cups resting on the bench are emitting a delicious smell, so perhaps ulterior motives had been at play after all. Magnus' stomach clenches at the sight, for more than just the rumbling hunger reminding him it's been a fair while since he's eaten a solid meal.
Alec glances up with wide eyes as Magnus walks closer, cheeks a furious and quite gorgeous red. "Magnus."
"Good morning, Alexander." Magnus pulls his robe closed, surveying the scene before him curiously. "Might I ask, what exactly is going on?"
He has a fair idea, but he's also half-awake and devastatingly enamoured with the flush crawling down Alec's neck and the beautiful heart inside his chest.
Alec wrings his hands together, fitfully, resting on the marble counter. "Well, I wanted to make you breakfast. But, there isn't-" Alec scrubs the back of his neck, sheepishly. "There isn't a lot of, uh, actual food here."
Alec manages to sound hesitant, and a little scolding, all whilst looking hopelessly sweet. Magnus frowns, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together nervously. Perhaps he has been neglecting actual food, but in his defense, it's been more important recently to ensure that his potion ingredients are stocked, because they're a lot harder to retrieve, and rarer, than takeout that can arrive with a snap of his fingers.
"I haven't had the chance to stock up, recently." Magnus admits. "I tend to shift priorities, and food isn't often one of them."
Alec's lips press together, but he doesn't roll his eyes, which Magnus counts as a positive. "I figured as much," Alec admits. "I considered actually getting groceries, but I don't know what you actually need, let alone what you want, so I thought I'd just stick with breakfast."
Magnus should really be less surprised than he is. It's no doubt, to anyone, that Alec is the sweetest person Magnus has ever met, and more than that, genuinely so - but he still manages to surprise and charm Magnus in the subtlest ways.
"I can't remember the last time somebody brought breakfast for me." Magnus admits, softly. Alec has been doing a lot of things that others before hadn't, though. Not for any other reason than because he simply wants to.
"I was going to bring it to you in bed." Alec shrugs, his cheeks a warmer pink now. "But, you're not, in bed anymore..."
Magnus grins, slowly. There's a defiant spark, albeit dim, flickering in Alec's eyes, and it's entrancing. Magnus moves closer, slowly, watching the way Alec relaxes with every step. It's nice to dance around each other with something other than anger burning their veins.
"I can return to bed," Magnus inclines his head, reaching out to cover one of Alec's hands with his own. "If you want?"
Alec quirks an eyebrow, mouth curled upwards salaciously. He turns his hand over, so that his fingers fall between Magnus'. Without Magnus' rings, space is entirely nonexistent. "Yeah?"
Magnus loves the more confident side of Alec that has emerged over the recent months. Gone was the stuttering, shy, closeted boy - replaced instead with a gorgeously confident man who knows, for the most part, what he is saying and the effect it will have.
"One condition." Magnus states, tugging on Alec's hand, until Alec is facing him. Alec reaches out, his other hand wrapping around Magnus' waist, touch burning through the thin silk of Magnus' robe. Magnus leans into it without thought. "You join me."
Alec smiles, as though that's what he'd been expecting, which he probably had because Magnus is often glaringly transparent where Alec is concerned. Magnus leans in, pondering momentarily how easy it might be for him to convince Alec to keep his shirt off during breakfast.
"There's nowhere else I would rather be." Alec states, achingly honest as always.
Magnus shakes his head, in fond and utter disbelief, lifting his hand to cup Alec's cheek, his thumb brushing softly across the heated skin. The amusement from before melts away into something a little more subdued and tender.
Alec's eyes flutter closed, his lips parting with a delicate sigh. Magnus admires the shadow of Alec's dark lashes, the pink curve of his lips, the general serenity that is exuding from him. He's come further than Magnus could have anticipated, in quite an admittedly short time, and above everything else, though perhaps not love, Magnus is proud.
Journeys of identity, self-discovery and a deeper understanding of the world are never easy, but Alec has faced it all with a steadfast determination and relentless desire to learn, which is more than Magnus could say for a lot of Shadowhunters.
Most of them, really.
"I love you," Alec says, quietly. There's nothing heavy or weighted to his words, he just utters them, like a passing thought. It's almost altruistic, he's not expecting anything from it, he just wants Magnus to know.
Magnus feels weightless, like he hasn't ever before.
Alec opens his eyes slowly, smiling dazedly. Magnus curls his fingers against the nape of Alec's neck, mostly to keep himself grounded. "I've never felt love like this before." Magnus's heart hums pleasantly in his chest, supporting his statement.
Alec blinks, slowly. Studiously. "You haven't?"
Magnus shakes his head, thumb stroking the bottom of Alec's ear. "Not once. There were a few people, who came close-" Magnus smiles, with unbridled content. "But none of them compare to you, angel."
The corner of Alec's mouth tugs up slowly. "I haven't-" He pauses, thoughtfully, fingers stroking idle shapes against the small of Magnus' back. "I haven't been in love, before, but I'm - I'm glad." His forehead creases slightly, as though he can't quite get his thoughts in order.
Meanwhile, Magnus is sure that without Alec's arm around him, he'd have fallen to the floor in a mess of uncontainable feelings.
"I don't want to love anyone else." Alec states, with raw conviction. "I'm really happy that you are the only one who I've loved, even if I sometimes don't quite understand what I'm doing, or if I think that my experience is lacking - I wouldn't change a thing. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Magnus surprises himself with a low, keening noise in the back of his throat. Alec speaks from his heart so simplistically, so openly, and it's not something that Magnus has ever experienced to such a heart-wrenching degree before.
Magnus has never experienced anyone like Alec before, and that's a pretty beautiful thing.
"There are not enough words, to explain how much of an impact you have had on my life." Magnus exhales softly. "You've done more than just unlock my heart, you've healed it, you've given me faith in love and in people again - you've shown me that I'm not a monster, when all my life, that is all I have been told."
Magnus knows that it will take more than just a few persistent sentiments from Alec, to convince himself that he isn't as evil as his demon-heritage would lead him to believe. It is a start, however, towards a deeper self-acceptance, and with Alec there to remind him that he's loved, that there is good in him, he thinks he could do it.
After all, time is something he has in spades, and time with Alec, is the only gift he'd ask from the universe.
He draws Alec into a slow kiss, allowing himself to melt into it, to lose himself in the feel of Alec's lips against his, his firm hand against Magnus' back, keeping him pressed flush to Alec's broad chest.
Not that there is anywhere else Magnus would prefer to be, than in Alec's arms.
"So, what is for breakfast?" He asks, whispering the words against Alec's lips even as he tries to pull away.
Alec teases Magnus with slow, achingly gentle kiss, though it's more smiles than anything else.
"Belgian waffles." He says, dotting a kiss at the corner of Magnus' mouth. His eyes are alight with sparks like stars, when he pulls back, though nothing is brighter than his amused grin. "I kind of owe it to you."
Magnus rests his forehead against Alec's, inhaling a deep breath, to calm the swirl of intense emotions inside of him, the tumultuous waves of affection almost enough to knock him backwards.
"You owe me nothing," He assures Alec, brushing his lips against the space between Alec's eyes. "However," He pulls back, glancing at Alec coyly through his eyelashes. "I am not going to pass up breakfast, in bed, with my gorgeous shirtless boyfriend by my side."
"A firm condition I refuse to sway on." Magnus nods, feigning seriousness, though he's sure it is betrayed by the joy tugging at his mouth. He can't help it. He's happy.
Alec narrows his eyes, slightly, though he looks as happy as Magnus feels. "I thought your condition was that I join you?"
Magnus shakes his head, sliding his hand up to tangle his fingers in Alec's hair. It's gotten to the fantastic stage where Magnus can really bury his fingers in the soft locks, which is something he is overwhelmingly fond of.
"That is not a condition, Alexander." Magnus smiles. "It is merely a given."
Alec doesn't reply with words, choosing instead to draw stuttered moans straight from Magnus' glowing heart. Magnus lets him, because he is but a man, and because he's always found solace and joy in Alec's company, and he's already been devoid of far too much of Alec's attention in recent days.
With Alec, he's found a home. With Alec's love, he's fixed his heart.
And with Alec's presence, he's found a happiness greater than he'd ever deemed himself worthy of.