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Alec’s sleep was disturbed by a familiar pressure, a known tightening in his gut. He rolled over, fighting reality. Magnus’ chest underneath him was warm, soft skin over firm muscle. Not the most comfortable pillow but certainly better than facing what he knew had caught him off guard.

 

It didn’t help. The burn in his abdomen started and a wave of nausea pulled him away from his still sleeping boyfriend to stumble into the bathroom. No, no, no. He was woefully unprepared to deal with this today, here, just following a rather fantastic date and an eventful night. It was early, but he knew the signs, and this was a topic he’d been dodging for quite a while.

 

Still, when he’d relieved himself and the paper showed red, his body had indeed betrayed him. Dammit. Not this- not now. Just last night he’d finally been able to be shirtless in front of Magnus and now- Oh Angel. What if he’d bled on Magnus’ sheets? On Magnus ? He wouldn’t- couldn’t- blame the warlock if he was disgusted by this. By him . He had nothing to keep himself clean- Angel, he must smell awful, bleeding on himself all night.

 

Alec made the mistake of looking at himself in the mirror. This was always the hardest time to do so for him- his face stayed the same, sure, but his breasts were rounder, fuller. His stomach, swollen slightly from the bloating, only called attention to his wide hips. Another wave of nausea laced with revulsion hit him, forcing his gaze away from his traitor form as he retched pitifully into the toilet.

 

He heard a hesitant knock as he whimpered against the cool tile floor. Of course Magnus was up- probably completely done with him. Why wouldn’t he be? He wouldn’t be surprised if Magnus kicked him out ri-

 

“Alexander? Darling, are you alright?”

 

“Yeah,” Alec croaked, kicking himself mentally for how weak his voice sounded.

 

“Well, you certainly don’t sound alright. I’m coming in.” The door rattled open and Alec hastily grabbed one of Magnus’ robes from where it was hanging on the wall to cover himself with it. Unfortunately, his stomach chose then to remind him that he was nauseous, so Magnus still got an eyeful of him offering the last of his dinner to the porcelain gods. “Oh, Alexander .”

 

The pity in his voice did nothing to soothe Alec’s panic. The hand on his back, accompanied by the crackle of magic and the smell of burnt sugar, did leagues better. Magnus said nothing for several minutes, just rubbed his back while Alec emptied his stomach.

 

“I-” Alec started, spat, tried again, “If you want me t- That is- I could-”

 

“Darling,” Magnus saved him from stumbling over his words, as always when the panic hit, “would you like me to get your bag?”

 

“I don’t- ah- there’s nothing in there for- for this. My stuff’s back at the Institute.” And if a hole could swallow him up and save him from this, that’d be nice. “I should- I should go.”

 

Magnus didn’t reply at first, helping Alec to his feet gently before backing up a few steps to let him finish covering up with the robe. “Well, you have a choice, and I will not judge you for what you decide,” the warlock said once Alec was done, “I could portal you back to the Institute, though remember with the wards… I can’t actually portal you inside .” Alec paled as he imagined the walk of shame he’d have to do. “ Or you can tell me what brand you use and I can magic supplies here.”

 

“I-” By the Angel, Magnus was his boyfriend and had just made it clear the night before that he had zero problems accepting Alec’s body- and his feelings about his body- as is. Why was it this hard to open up to the man about this? “Those uh, those Kotex pads, the real thin ones in the black box.” Magnus flashed him a dazzling smile (it really wasn’t fair that the warlock always looked this stunning, even with no makeup, bedhead, and morning breath) and held up a hand to summon the items when Alec stopped him. “No- I- uh, well. I don’t have- I just have boxers with me, so…”

 

His boyfriend kissed his cheek as he snapped, a box of pads and a pair of men’s briefs appearing on the bathroom counter. “I’m sure you want some privacy for this. I’ll whip up something for your pain and stomach while you do your thing, and then we can talk, hmm?” Alec nodded once and Magnus gifted him with another smile before kissing him on the other cheek and leaving him alone in the bathroom.

 

Honestly, Alec wasn’t sure what he’d done to deserve such an amazing man in his life, but he was absolutely glad for it. He dug into the supplies Magnus had summoned for him after a quick shower, brushed his teeth and hair, got dressed… and quickly ran out of things to do to delay the talk with Magnus he didn’t want to have.

 

It was nothing against the warlock, honestly. He knew he was very fortunate to have a boyfriend so understanding and accepting of all the things Alec hated about himself. But- having these conversations with him were painful at best. Torture at worst. All of this had been shut in a box at the back of his mind, in a dark corner collecting dust, condemned to never see the light of day. Being with Magnus, talking about it- it lifted a weight off his shoulders once they were done, sure, but during? He had to relive all of the pain, the isolation, the self-hatred, the snide comments from his parents or others at the Institute, things he’d convinced himself he didn’t care about and shut away for years.

 

Magnus had told him once, on their first date, that there was nothing wrong with him. But the man couldn’t know the words had cut as deep as they healed. Part of learning to accept yourself was like digging infection out of an old wound. All you want to do is beg for it to stop, even if you knew it’d heal better once you were done. Alec was miserable enough at the moment- he didn’t see this talk being high on the list of things he wanted to do today.

 

He gave himself one final look-over in Magnus’ ridiculously large floor-to-ceiling mirror, convincing himself that he looked enough like him with binder in place (unfortunately, not his packer, because this always threw a curveball at him with that), even though he knew he’d spiral again if he thought too hard on what was under his clothes, on what was currently happening in his pants, on how he was ruining the fun day the warlock had planned for them with his problems , on how Magnus was prob- Enough .

 

He took a deep breath and opened the door to the rest of the apartment before he lost his nerve again. Magnus was sitting on the bar in the kitchen, kicking his feet like a child, dressed well as always and smiling into his Starbucks cup with eyes glittering at the sight of Alec appearing from the bedroom. He swore his heart skipped a beat- no matter how loud his own mind seemed, seeing Magnus smile at him always, always cleared his mind of everything.

 

Sadly, the effect was never permanent. Magnus gestured at the two teacups sitting next to him on the counter. “Purple first, then the tea, dearest,” he said before Alec’s brain could restart itself.

 

Alec nodded, wrinkled his nose as he took the first cup with a swirling purple liquid inside. Ever since tasting Magnus’ hangover cure (absolutely disgusting, but proven effective in the first sip), he was extremely wary of the warlock’s brews. True to form, Magnus mocked disbelief and offense when Alec choked it down. How he got something to taste bitter, sour, and spicy at the same time, Alec would never know. Maybe he took lessons from Izzy. Maybe she’d taken lessons from him .

 

But, also true to form, the instant relief was well worth the burning aftertaste. The nausea and cramping were gone like, well, magic. Alec grunted a “thanks” through his scorched throat, but Magnus simply pointed to the tea with a raised eyebrow. Right. Still on the hook for that talk. Dammit.

 

He did, at least, wait for Alec to finish his tea- chamomile, for calming- before beginning. “I understand, Alexander, that you don’t want to talk about it, so I’ll keep this short,” Alec snorted at that but didn’t interrupt further, “You do know you’re not the first person I’ve been involved with that has a functioning uterus?”

 

Alec nodded, opened his mouth, closed it, tried again. “I know that, it’s just-” He cut himself off, hoping Magnus would save him again. No such luck- he was given an expectant look. As always, the warlock made him put words to his insecurities himself during these discussions, instead of rescuing him like he would if they were flirting. “Logically, I know. You know that. I just- It’s a problem for me . It’d be miserable enough if I was- But it’s just more proof that I- That I’m not-”

 

“A man?” Magnus must have seen just how close to panic he was, if he was willing to not force Alec to spit that one out in the end. Or maybe he just thought he was sparing him from hurting himself further by saying it. There was a limit to how much he’d supply, apparently, because the warlock simply waited for him to go on from there.

 

“I hate it. The first time- that’s when I knew. Mom was- she was so proud. Her oldest daughter, finally a woman .” Magnus made a small sound from his perch on the counter. Understanding, maybe. “It’s- Now it’s just- Normally I’m okay with- with this. With me. You know, binding, wearing the packer, dressing certain ways. But every month there’s this reminder that I don’t- That I’m a freak- And-”

 

“Alexander,” definitely unwilling to let him hurt himself with his words, “There is nothing wrong with you. You’re anything but a freak.” Alec fidgeted, looking only at his shaking hands. The clunk of his boyfriend’s coffee cup hitting the counter seemed to echo between them. “You know I realize this is hard for you, darling. Remember what I told you before; when things get bad, don’t push me away. You practically teleported to the bathroom less than an hour ago. I had no idea what was wrong.”

 

“I know- I just- I’m not trying to shut you out, not on purpose. I just- I don’t like thinking about this stuff by myself . And I don’t- I don’t want you to treat me different, just because I- I have… issues .” Magnus opened his mouth again, but Alec was too fast, “I know . I do. Really. You’re my boyfriend and that means you want to take care of me when I need it. But stuff like this- you can’t take care of that. I can’t just make it go away just because I know you love me anyway. Your love doesn’t make my chest flat or swap what I’ve got for the other set. Doesn’t change what I feel whenever I look too hard at myself. It doesn’t- It can’t make me normal .”

 

“You are normal. You are a man. Whether I love you, whether you love me, or not. Alexander, if our roles were reversed and I was the transgender partner, would you consider me a woman?”

 

“What? No, you’re-”

 

“Just so.” Alec snapped his mouth closed. “My dear, I know perfectly well why you panicked this morning. I know it’s the same reason you cancel every date we have planned for a week every month. And I know my love cannot stop your unease with the implications of what your body- and your parents and coworkers- wants from you. What I don’t understand is why you were so unprepared for this. Surely, if you knew you were close, you wo-”

 

“I wasn’t,” Alec interjected, “It’s not- I’m not due for another week. Otherwise I wouldn’t have- Last night, we wouldn’t-”

 

Alec could almost see the lightbulb appear above the warlock’s head as he mentally counted the weeks. “Ah- well. I am likely to blame for that one, actually.” Alec leveled Magnus with a look that was half disbelief and half scathing. If he thought this was the time for jokes… “No, no, I’m quite serious. You are a young man, full of hormones, in your first relationship where you feel very strongly for your partner. Sometimes, if you’re already close enough, the surge of hormones during sex is enough to force your cycle to start. It’s more common than you might think.”

 

“But you didn’t- we didn’t-”

 

“I don’t think your body cares, darling. You had sex, and now it wants to be sure it’s prepared to have a baby. A bit ironic, in this situation, but not unheard of.”

 

Alec couldn’t help the little panicked laugh of released anxiety that escaped his chest. Magnus slipped off the counter, wrapping his arms around him and kissing his forehead as the laugh turned into a sob. He stayed like that for several seconds- not crying, but breathing heavily into Magnus’ shoulder and letting the warlock kiss his feelings back down to an acceptable level of disquiet. Eventually, as he calmed, the older man led him away to the couch, tucking Alec close to his side and nuzzling at his pulse point.

 

“Mmh. Ah- Thank you,” he mumbled into Magnus’ hair.

 

“Better?”

 

“Now that I know you’re the reason my body turned traitor.” Magnus’ breath against his neck as he chuckled gave Alec shivers. “And- that you- that you’re not disgusted by me.”

 

Never ,” came the firm reply, swiftly followed by a soft grunt as Alec pressed their lips together in a chaste kiss.

 

“And- sorry that I ruined our morning after. I know you wanted to have a nice day with me.”

 

“Mmm. I wouldn’t say ruined is the right word. After all,” Magnus shifted suddenly, climbing into his lap, “If what I say can’t convince your brain to shut up for once and help you feel more like a man, I know plenty of other solutions for that. Most of which don’t even involve us leaving this very spot.”

 

“Magnus, it’s tempting, but I don’t think the mood is-”

 

“I never said anything about sex, dearest. I don’t have a problem with the timing- I do have magic to keep us both clean- but I know you’re feeling particularly sensitive about nudity right now.”

 

“Then wha-” Magnus shut him up with a finger to his lips. Never failed to empty his brain of all rational thought.

 

“Do you trust me, Alexander?”

 

Alec nodded mutely, rendered silent, as always, by the feel and smell and proximity of Magnus in his lap. The warlock grinned, leaned in close, and gave him a lingering, closed mouth kiss. He moaned again, softly, when Alec returned it, then began to lean back, prompting the younger to chase him. This time, when they reconnected, Magnus chose to stay where he was. It was Alec’s turn to let loose a little sound of pleasure as he felt Magnus’ arms go round his shoulders, his fingers tangling in his hair. It was then that something shifted between them, and Alec surged forward, his own arms flailing at first, shifting between the other man’s chest, then his sides, then finally resting on his hips.

 

Alec pulled him closer by the grip he had, both men groaning at the drag of each other’s bodies. He let himself get lost in the heady feeling of the warlock’s muffled moans against his lips, the torturously slow circular motion of Magnus’ hips against his own, the odd swipe of a tongue against the seam where their mouths met. He sucked and nibbled on Magnus’ lower lip until the man was gasping for breath, until Alec had to fight the overwhelming urge to flip them over, to pin his boyfriend to the couch and- oh.

 

Oh .

 

So that’s what he’d meant. Being far more experienced, usually the older man led and the younger followed at his own pace. Alec had honestly not considered the possibility of anything different- after all, the bulk of what he knew about how people had sex was that tab A went into slot B at some point. This- this was different. Intimacy and passion without the desperate need of last night. With him leading, and the pretty thing in his lap enthusiastically keeping up.

 

“Still with me?” Magnus whispered against his mouth. Apparently Alec had slowed to a stop to have his revelation. Whoops. Can’t have his boyfriend thinking he’s got cold feet just because he can’t think too hard and participate at the same time. “Alexan- Lilith , that’s good, darling.”

 

Alec lifted his head from where he’d bitten Magnus’ still clothed shoulder, flashing a wolfish grin at the warlock and releasing his grip where he’d pulled the other’s hips sharply against his body, grinding them together. “Can-” a croak, so he cleared his throat but didn’t lose speed, “Can I mark you?”

 

“Yes, please , just nothing permanent dear.”

 

Alec huffed a laugh before leaning back down to nip and suck at an exposed piece of skin at Magnus’ shirt collar, reveling in the needy little noises escaping the warlock’s throat. He move his hands up to the other’s shirt buttons, tugged gently twice in askance before getting another breathed yes . Then he got to work revealing skin, making sure to lick and suck as much as he could reach, enjoying the feel and taste of his boyfriend’s exposed chest.

 

Once the shirt was completely unbuttoned and pushed down Magnus’ arms to be out of his way, Alec leaned back to admire his work. A slight flush on his panting boyfriend’s face. A darkening bruise where it could peek out from most shirt collars. A trail of smaller marks leading from jaw to collarbone on the other side of his neck. Alec looked lower, to dark nipples and a slight shimmer he knew to be a weakening glamour against Magnus’ stomach. As the second warlock mark revealed itself, a bit of unmarked skin where a navel should be, Alec knew without needing to check that the warlock had dropped the glamour on his eyes as well.

 

It wasn’t a new thing between them- Magnus had done the same last night and in previous nights- but it was enough to make Alec smile, reach up, and nuzzle his face against the other’s, knowing it was a gesture of trust and vulnerability. Magnus sighed softly against Alec’s lips as they turned their heads to meet in a kiss once more, before Alec ducked his head to lead a trail of kisses down the warlock’s face, along the curve of his jaw, further and further until he was hovering right above a nipple.

 

“Please,” Magnus whispered, and that was all the encouragement he needed. They’d discovered last night that while Alec’s nipples, and his breasts, were not absolutely off limits, they also were not a source of pleasure for him either.

 

Magnus, on the other hand, was practically keening under Alec’s ministrations. His reception was nothing short of a confidence boost. Alec found the right pattern of suckling, nibbling, and licking to get his boyfriend practically mushing his face into his chest quickly and, feeling emboldened, reached up with his right hand to roll the other nipple under his fingers.

 

This, this he could get used to. The feeling of Magnus’ weight on him, the complete surrender of his body over to Alec, the knowledge that he was absolutely lost in pleasure and Alec was the one who put him there. Each involuntary buck of the hips, each gasp and moan, for all of Alec’s self-consciousness about inexperience, he’d never felt more at peace with who he was than in that moment. He never felt more empowered, knowing he had the ability to do this to someone. He was just as aware that he was answering Magnus’ noises with his own sounds as he switched between nipples, throat, and mouth.

 

Until, finally, Magnus gasped out a strangled word and had to try again himself. “Okay, this- ah, yes - this is where we need to stop if- Alex ander are you listening- if you don’t want this to turn into sex.”

 

Alec released where he’d been sucking a hickey just beneath the curve of Magnus’ jaw. It was true- he wasn’t even remotely turned on right now despite thoroughly enjoying playing with his lapful of happy warlock. Mostly due to his own conflicted feelings regarding his ability to express himself sexually as a gay man with an experienced partner due to lacking certain… equipment. And with the added problem of his cycle, which, by the way, still made him want to curl up and die, he wasn’t keen on the idea of getting naked any time soon.

 

And it wasn’t like they hadn’t had an intense moment when kissing before, where Magnus had been aroused and needed to excuse himself to take care of things. From the looks of it, if Alec let him go, that’s where this would end up. And as nice as it was to know that him leading the situation had put the warlock in this state… Alec also did not want his lap to be empty in this moment.

 

“Maybe I could- you’d have to show me, but I could, you know, get you off?” In hindsight, he was sure he’d be very impressed he could get that out. Magnus certainly seemed to be.

 

“You sure?” Magnus asked, stroking Alec’s face. “Yes, I’m certainly interested in more, but that’s no obligation to you. A boner is not going to kill me.”

 

“It’s because of me, though. I did that.” No shame in his voice. Just pride.

 

“You absolutely did,” a kiss, much calmer than the fire that had been consuming them both a second ago. “But still not your responsibility to deal with if you don’t want to.”

 

“I do. Want to, I mean. I like… that I got you like this. That I did this. I’m not- I don’t want to- but maybe with my hand?”

 

And Magnus laughed again, kissed him again, and rolled his hips in Alec’s lap once again. “Very well- lead the way, darling. I’ll let you know if something needs to change.”

 

Alec vaguely registered the sound of fingers snapping as he got back to what he was doing to Magnus’ jaw, hands returned to the older man’s hips. He felt Magnus reach down and plop a bottle between them. “No condom?” he murmured as he realized it was the lube from the nightstand.

 

“No such thing as warlock STDs and nothing’s going inside either of us, though if you want me to-”

 

“No, just making sure,” Alec set the lube where he’d be able to reach it in a moment, where it wouldn’t interrupt what he’d be doing shortly. As it was, his fingers brushed the growing bulge in Magnus’ pants as he moved the bottle, sending a shiver he could feel up the warlock’s spine. Interested in more was absolutely an understatement.

 

It wasn’t hard from there to fan the flame back to high for either of them. Alec knew he was not going to orgasm from this but he also had no real desire to chase his own in that moment. Magnus’, however, he wanted to pull from the other man by himself. So, when the warlock was back to writhing and gasping on top of him, Alec took initiative and undid the button on his pants, rolling the zipper down to deliberately brush his hand against what was straining against the older man’s boxers. He pulled Magnus down for a lazy kiss, tongues occasionally giving the barest of brushes against each other, before Alec finally freed his hard cock from the confines his pants.

 

And it was Magnus who broke the kiss, slitted pupils blown wide, squeezing his eyes shut and resting his forehead against Alec’s shoulder. “Lube, darling, please ,” he practically begged, rolling his hips.

 

Alec’s head, no longer distracted by keeping up with Magnus, tilted down to look at what he was doing. He squeezed some of the oil into his hand, rolled it a bit to make sure it was a little warmer than the cool room temperature feel it had fresh from the bottle, and wrapped his hand gently around Magnus’ erection. He earned a huffed laugh that was cut off by a groan as he moved his hand up the shaft, swiping his thumb against the sensitive head. He remember that part from last night, when he’d asked to touch Magnus intimately for the first time.

 

“Yes, yes dearest, just like that, you could even go harder if you want, it won’t break,” Magnus’ encouragements whispered into his skin as his hips bucked in rhythm with Alec’s hand were amazing . Dimly, Alec wondered if it was like this for Magnus, when he was in control.

 

From there, Alec lost track of time. It could have been five minutes, or five hours, before Magnus’ body began to tense, before Alec had learned his fill of what made the other man shudder with pleasure. Before he’d memorized all the ways the warlock liked him to move his fingers, his wrist. How he’d cried out when Alec played with the head, or stroked the thick vein underneath, or had reached back into his pants to cup and massage his balls. How he liked a good firm grip on the base, softening with a flick of the wrist towards the top. How his breath caught when Alec’s fingers bumped against the folds of his foreskin. How Magnus had started coherent and had ended up a babbling mess of at least three different languages, no longer in control of what his hips were doing, all in the name of chasing the pleasure Alec was giving him.

 

When Magnus went still from his orgasm, cumming into his hand, it made Alec feel strong. Powerful. Knowing that it was all him that had done this to a normally composed man, knowing that his partner had done the very same to him in all other circumstances. It made him feel like he thought he would have felt this whole time, if he didn’t have so many things to worry about with his body.

 

And when Magnus sagged against him, strung out and sweaty from their activities, it made him feel satisfied in a way that he had never felt before. They both basked in the afterglow for several minutes, Magnus trying to put his brain back together and Alec nuzzled into a spot on his neck, rubbing small circles into his back with his clean hand.

 

Eventually Magnus recovered enough to sit up again, waving a hand and magicking away the mess. The glamour was back, but Alec knew by now that it didn’t mean Magnus was not still very keyed up. “You are a bad, bad man, Alexander Lightwood,” he scolded with no real heat behind it, “How dare you take me apart like that? I should tell your mother.”

 

“Oh, please do, but only when I’m there, that’s definitely something I want to witness.” They both laughed- a free, lighthearted thing, nothing anywhere close to the panicked laughter from earlier. Alec did feel better. Nothing would completely make his unease go away, of course, but this had proven to be a wonderful distraction and a fantastic experiment in his possibilities for when he wasn’t freaking out once a month.

 

Magnus must have noticed his change in mood, because he cupped a palm against Alec’s cheek. “How are you feeling, now?”

 

Much better. Thank you. Seriously.”

 

“Mmm, good,” Magnus stood, grinned at the offended noise Alec made over his suddenly empty lap, and tucked himself back into his pants. “Now then, if I can have my boyfriend for more than just three weeks per month…?”

 

Alec tugged the warlock back down to the couch with a smile. “I think that can be arranged, but you’ll need to pay me.”

 

“Oh? And what do you desire from me?” Snark with a raised eyebrow, met with an eyeroll from Alec.

 

“Listen, that purple concoction you fed me tastes like crap, but it works . I will personally come see you every single day of that week if you promise to have that ready for me.”

 

They both laughed again as Magnus threw his discarded shirt at Alec’s head. When he’d finally redressed, and they’d both settled back down onto the couch, legs and hands entangled with each other, he responded: “I think that can be arranged.”