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Fear of the Water

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Alec was sitting at the edge of his bed, thinking about everything that could go wrong. Nobody had ever told him nor taught him how to face these kind of situations, so all there was left to do was to improvise. He started wondering how actors actually did it; fake being somebody who they actually were not, pretend they had the confidence they might not even actually have; because he really could have used that skill at that moment. He needed confidence in that moment. Right away. I mean, fake it till you make it, right? At least that’s what people said.

His chest started feeling heavy even more now, and it was getting difficult to breathe. He took his phone and dialled the number. Well, he actually looked for the contact to call, because he knew damn well he had it.

He hesitated for a few minutes before realizing what he was doing. Right, because I am such a caller. He texted the number instead.

“Come over? There’s sth I have to tell you.”

Just a few seconds later he got a reply from the number.

“Sure. Back door?”

He sighed. He couldn’t believe he was actually doing this.

“Nah, my parents aren’t home so u can use the front door and actually get inside like a proper human.

“Besides, u only use the back door because you’re that dramatic.”

“Ha ha.


I would be offended if I knew u didn’t actually love my dramatic side.”

He shook his head nervously and covered his smirk with his left hand, then pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Agh, this is a nightmare.
It was better when he didn’t think like a grown up. I mean, bottling up your feelings was obviously the healthiest way to deal with them, right? Because that had absolutely worked all those past years.

He received a call after a few minutes later.

“Why looking so conflicted, Alexander? Now, open your window before I fall off the second floor.”

Alec almost falls off his bed when he saw his best friend struggling to keep balance at the edge of his window with his phone on his ear. He rushed to open it before anything could actually happen to him. He rolled his eyes. “When in panic, look annoyed” was his motto.

“You honestly are the most extra person in the entire universe.” Alec said while stepping away so his friend could enter the room.

“Well, at least I look good while being extra.” He jumped inside in a very cat manner and made his way into the room. Alec grunted, as to seem irritated. “When in GAY panic, look annoyed” was his other motto.

”Oh, and I think your neighbor might call the police. She may have seen me while climbing your wall. I winked at her and she blatantly ignored me. Rude. Where are your manners when you see a handsome potential thief climbing the wall of your neighbor?”

Alec just rolled his eyes yet again, trying to contain a grin, while his friend made his way to the bed and sat next to him. He tried to keep it cool, like he had always done. At least for the past two years.

“Maybe she just thought she saw a tiny racoon or something.” Alec told him teasingly. “She would have set off the alarm if she had actually seen something similar to a threat.”
His friend gasped in response, putting a hand to his chest and sitting with both legs over the bed now, facing Alec.

“Tiny? Using the height card again? Let me tell you that 3.9 inches is actually not that much and it is the perfect height difference.”

Perfect height difference for what, exactly, Alec wondered. Just when he had started to drift away, his friend cleared his throat.

“Earth to Alec? As much as you look adorable spacing out thinking about whatever you were thinking about, unless I’m wrong, there is something that you had to tell me.” His friend said, his eyes looking at him with expectation but trying to hide it with the very elegant smirk of his that made Alec’s heart shake like a freaking washing machine.

He knew that maybe he was a little worried, but tried to hide it keeping it cool like he always did when Alec had something important to say. This had also happened when he told him that he decided he was studying Sociology at NYU. Or when he finally told him he was gay. Even when he told him that he wanted to turn vegetarian.

Big or little the decision or confession, his best friend Magnus always gave him his whole undying attention. He would never invalidate him nor make him feel like there was something wrong with him. He always trusted Alec’s decisions, while also providing arguments when Alec rushed into something or made a decision out of impulse or duty. Magnus always managed to calm his waters and told him to trust his own judgment. And he liked to believe this was not only one sided, but that he also had that same effect on Magnus when he second-guessed himself or thought that he was not good enough.

Even though he didn’t actually believe in “things” at first sight, destiny, fate or whatever, he thought that since the very first moment he and Magnus had exchanged words at the Drama class where they had been assigned together for a work in pairs, something had clicked. They had to make up a short play, so they ended up spending a lot of time together. Being a closed off individual himself, he had a hard time making meaningful friendships with people, and more so, connecting with them. So it was very odd to him to start talking to this guy, who was new in school and had already gained a good amount of friends, and feel like the words he exchanged with him were meaningful for the other, and that he really listened to what he had to say. There was something smooth about the way they both managed to communicate, they both knew how to react to one another.

They became friends really fast after that, they would help each other out with the subjects they struggled with and, on Fridays, they would spend the evening at Magnus’ couch watching films or a stupid reality show they actually secretly liked. They would go out with Alec’s sister, Izzy, and brothers Jace and Max to different places of the city, and sometimes even road trip to other parts of the state.

They got to be with each other while experiencing small meaningful moments together, like Alec joining Magnus when he adopted his beloved cat Chairman Meow, or when Alec got his first tattoo that symbolized his love for his siblings.

As it didn’t take long for them to be friends, it also didn’t take long for Alec to fall deeply in love with Magnus.

Of course he had been stupidly attracted to him when they had first met, but with time and getting to know the gentle, smart and caring person Magnus actually was, Alec knew he was doomed for good. He had dated a few guys after coming out, with whom he also experienced many beautiful and meaningful things, but he knew that what he had with his friend was different.

A few months before, he told himself that he had to forget about going further with it, because he didn’t want to ruin this amazing friendship he had built with Magnus. But the next day after he had thought about it, he saw Magnus’ beautiful face grin happily at him at the school corridor, and he realized that he just couldn’t deny his feelings anymore.
Now it was their last month as seniors and they would experience leaving this stage of their lives behind, entering to a different, new chapter. So, as the mature person Alec really strived to be like, he decided to tell Magnus how he felt.

He looked down, trying to control his breathing before he could actually meet his eyes. When he did, those brown sweet things were blooming with expectation about anything that would come from his heart. He couldn’t help but smirk at how beautiful those eyes looked when they were shining under the dim light of his bedroom; and at how overwhelmed that half smile Magnus had on his face made him feel.

“Listen, Magnus.” It’s alright, Alec. You can do this, he told himself. He was overly aware of how his hands were starting to shake a little. His stomach was tight and full of emotions. Alec wouldn’t have been surprised if he suddenly turned into ashes.

“May- Maybe this isn’t the right time for me to say this, since we are leaving in a few months for University, but…” Breath in, breath out, Alec. “Look, Magnus, I- I think that…”


Magnus was staring attentively at him. He moved his head slightly as a sign for Alec to continue with whatever he wanted to say. Alec saw how the other guy started playing with the rings on his fingers. Was he nervous too? Oh, god. Maybe he is thinking the worst, he thought. I have to say something.

“I… I already started looking for apartments close to the campus.” UuuUuuUgH. “I… I mean, I know I could have my own dorm room, but maybe it will be more practical? Because it’s close to that book store I work in… and, um, I could also start looking for roommates so the rent doesn’t get too much…. And I’ll probably have to-”

“Alexander.” Said Magnus, softly, putting a hand on Alec’s shoulder. “What… um, what is it, really?”

It was weird for Magnus to sound so vulnerable, which broke Alec’s heart a little bit. He freaked out at the thought that maybe he had hurt Magnus’ feelings by not being honest right away. Maybe Magnus now thought that he was mad at him or something. He started focusing on his breathing again. It was the last thing he wanted Magnus to think.

“Alec, if you… if you just don’t want to say anything then ju-“

“I love you.”

There it was, the truth. The real and frightening truth that he had known to live inside his thoughts and his body for a long, long time now.
He closed his eyes, afraid of the way Magnus might have been looking at him.

He still managed to mutter, “I” and opened his eyes again, trying to meet Magnus’ with all the strength he had on his body. “I am in love with you.”
Even if he felt like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders, he also felt an intense amount of fear run through his spine when he realized seconds had passed and Magnus still hadn’t said anything.

Magnus was looking at him with eyes like he had just seen a ghost. Alec shifted on his bed, feeling all of the sudden the worst he had ever felt. His muscles felt heavy and his stomach was tight as a rock. It was like his organs were melting.

“Uhm… I, fuck. Well, okay, I will just… uh…”

He stood up, feeling a little bit shaky and wanting to run as far as he could.

But, suddenly, a hand stopped him by grabbing his own. He turned around and realized that Magnus had stood up as well and was now in front of him.

“Magnus, I don’t… I don’t expect anything. I just... I, I wanted to say it because, I mean, I had to I just… And if I fucked everything up… I just couldn’t… I ju-”

“Shut up, Alexander.” Magnus said and Alec stared in confusion. A second later he saw Magnus’ hand lift to his left cheek and, all of the sudden, Magnus was kissing him.

It was a little awkward at first, when their lips had first met and Alec’s neurons hadn’t processed everything that was happening. But those same neurons that had trouble processing the moment, a second later exploded and expanded, and now Alec’s brain was on fire. He was on fire and he wanted to burn, burn, burn. He was kissing Magnus and it was warm, engrossing, consuming, comforting and breathtaking; like everything Alec had expected and more.

A while later, he backed off just a little to meet Magnus’ eyes. He inspected them expecting regret or confusion, but all he managed to encounter was the same soft, heartwarming look that Magnus had for all the things he loved most in this world.

Alec recognized the same look on Magnus’ eyes when he talked about his mother, or about his most beloved friends; and now it was directed completely at Alec and only Alec himself.

But that is when he realized, that was not the first time Magnus had looked at him like that.

Magnus gave him that same look when Alec told a stupid dad joke or managed to deliver the lamest, unamusing pun. He gave him that same look when he had joined Alec and his siblings on adventures and road-trips. He gave him that same look when Alec talked to him about all the things that made him fall in love with the world.

He had seen that look many other times but he had never managed to make something out of it. He had never made sense of it. Until now. The way those eyes were directed at him meant something.

Wait. Did it mean that…?

“I’m in love with you too, you idiot.” Magnus said and rolled his eyes, knowing that Alec had come to that same conclusion a second before.

Alec snorted, closed his eyes and shook his head.

Of all the possible outcomes that night could have had, he never imagined that to be one. For some reason, it was crazy to him that his best friend reciprocated his feelings. But, at the same time, it felt like he had always known it.

He could have not been so blind. He knew Magnus, and of course he had to know something was up.

Maybe he was too caught up into thinking about his own overwhelming emotions to notice that, even if Magnus was caring with everyone he knew, he had always treated Alec differently. Not in a corny way of treating him like a prince or devoting every second to him only, but more like in a way that showed that he really paid attention to every single detail. The way he just managed to see Alec, like no one else had ever seen him before.

Of course he should have known. But it didn’t matter, because now it was crystal clear.

He snorted, yet again, because everything seemed so fucking obvious.

Magnus looked at him, amused. “Are you… okay?” he asked inspecting Alec’s face carefully with a mocking grin.

“It’s just so perfect. I just- I don’t know. It just feels so obvious. Did- did you know how I felt, then?”

Alec realized he still had his hands on Magnus’ waist, where he had put them instinctively during the kiss.

He didn’t move them, though.

“Are you kidding me? I would have done something a long time ago if I had known.” Magnus answered and shook his own head in disbelief. “I mean… Isabelle always implied it, but I thought she was just being a good friend to me.”

“Wait. Izzy knew about your feelings and about my feelings and….” He pressed his hand to his forehead, or, more specifically, he face palmed.

Isabelle had suddenly invited everyone that night to meet her partner Maia’s parents in Connecticut where they would be staying until the evening of the following day. She knew Alec wouldn’t make it because he still had to sort out some things about University and apartment rent.

She also knew he was planning on talking to Magnus.

“Izzy, man.” He just managed to say, with a tender smile on his face.

Magnus moved his palm to Alec’s face again, after having put it on his shoulder when Alec backed off the kiss. He gently caressed his cheek bone, then his lips with his thumb, gently.

“Anyhow… now I do know.”

Alec couldn’t contain his happiness, feeling a fire coming to life from inside of his chest. It was like turning on a match on a gas filled environment; Alec felt like the gas had been consuming his insides for a long, long time, and Magnus had just started the fire with the kiss. And, honestly, he didn’t mind burning a bit more.

It was Alec who started the kiss this time, pulling Magnus closer so he could finally melt into him.

The kiss turned into something rougher, desperate; representing the longing wait they both had been through to reach this point. Magnus reached under Alec’s shirt with his hands and suddenly felt how the fire dissipated outside of his skin. He led them to his bed and they fell onto it in between hungry hands and lips.

In the middle of the night, Alec woke up tangled between sheets and with Magnus’ arms around him. He decided that this could easily be on his top 5 most magical moments of his fucking life.

He pressed closer to him, taking him all in; the way he smelled, the way his skin felt against his’.

Then, the crushing feeling of reality made its way into his mind. He remembered that they would be leaving in a few months for university.

He had decided to stay in New York but Magnus had been contacted by an important academy of theatre that was located in Amsterdam.

They still had a few months to spend together, but it didn’t make the feeling of having a limited amount of time to be with Magnus better. He didn’t know what would happen when they both went into university. He knew that things would change. They would change. It was just the way things were.

That thought hadn’t even crossed his mind when he was thinking about spilling his heart out earlier. Well, he also hadn’t known that said feelings would have been reciprocated by his friend, but he should have been aware of the factor that, yes, Magnus was leaving.

He loved him back and he was leaving.

He felt his heartbeat race as the sadness and disappointment spread throughout his body. Fuck. It’s okay, Alec. It’s fine. You don’t have to let him see you upset about the fact that he is leaving. You’re just going to make him feel bad and that is not what you want, is it? It will be –

“Stop overthinking, Alexander.” He suddenly felt a hand soothing his hair. “I can hear you freaking out even in my sleep.”

Alec let out a big amount of air and laughed into Magnus’ shoulder. He forgot it was his best friend he was dealing with. Magnus turned around to face him and inspected his face carefully. He reached out with his hand and started caressing Alec’s face tenderly.

“I feel it too. I don’t know what will happen with us. But, we can just try to make the best of the time we have. We already wasted a lot, and, no, before you even think about it, it wasn’t your fault, as well as it wasn’t my fault.”

Alec reached out to where Magnus’ hand was caressing him and held it close. “I just wish we had more time.”

Magnus pulled him closer and kissed his jaw.

“Me too, Alec.” He sighed. “But, I know we will manage to find each other in the end.”

“Pfft. Find each other in the end. Such a sap, Bane. Oh for I will find thee even in the afterlife, sweet love of mine!”

Magnus giggled into Alec’s neck. “I’m an actor! You can’t expect to not receive at least a little bit of sappy drama from me.”

They both smiled. Alec shifted closer to Magnus so he could drop his head on his chest. Magnus soothed his hair.

They both fell asleep like that.

 

-----

 

 

Alec Lightwood was giving the final steps of his academic career when he received an unexpected call.

He was arranging and putting away his materials for an investigation he had done with one of his teachers for the Sociology department of the University. Alec had become one of the best students of his generation, which is why teachers often asked him for his cooperation and assistance in the investigation department. It was really helpful for his record and would make it somehow easier for him to get a steady job eventually. But he also really enjoyed it.

He had continued his studies with a master on Criminology after falling in love with how it was presented in the perspective of Sociology.  But, even though he loved being an active participant in the investigations department, instead of continuing with another project, Alec had decided that he would take a year off when he finished his masters. His teachers told him that it was common for Sociology students to want a break the sociological perspective, because it sometimes got too much, and it was true. After studying for so long, Alec just wanted a break, and he was finally going to get it.

After that, well, the future was yet to be decided.

When he was not studying or working on a research project, Alec worked at an old book store. He had worked there since his senior year of High School, and knew the family who owned the store. When he was there he was surrounded by books and people he loved, so working there was a pleasure.

On his year off, he was thinking about taking some shifts during the week that were reasonable for Luke, the shop owner, and save some cash to travel around the country or something. It was all yet to be planned. Maybe he could even adopt a dog.

A phone call broke him off from his thoughts on how he could manage to sneak a dog into his apartment without the land lord knowing. He took the papers he had on his hand onto the recycling bin and turned to look for his phone that was somewhere thrown on top of his bed.

It rang a few more seconds more until he finally found it.

“Who is this?”

“Ha, ha. Very funny, big brother.” Izzy said from the other side of the line.

Alec smiled into the screen. Izzy and him always spoke on the phone since she had moved to Boston to pursue her medical career two years before, but Alec had been so busy with the last  project, and Izzy had been so busy doing her own thing that they had barely talked in the past couple of months. For them, it was too long. They saw each other at special events and such, but it wasn’t enough, since they had always been inseparable. Alec probably wouldn’t admit it, but he missed his little sister like crazy.

“Is everything alright over there?”

“Yeah. You know. Have you heard anything from Max?”

“Not since the selfie he sent from Kyoto the other day. Hold on there, you sneaky bean eating Bostonian.” Alec said in suspicion. “Yeah. You know? Izzy, we haven’t spoken properly in weeks, and even if we had spoken yesterday you’d still have a story about how long it took for your cereal to reach the bowl.”

There was silence in the other line. Alec felt his stomach tighten, something had happened.

“Izzy. Spill the beans.”

“Stop it with the bean jok-“

“Izzy.”

“I GOT ENGAGED.” She screamed through the phone. Alec didn’t even mind his right ear.

“Fucking finally. 7 years. 7 years we have waited for one of you to lose your pride and propose.” Alec felt his heart grow heavy. He was elated. “Oh, boy. Congrats, Iz. You deserve all the things you get.”

He could hear Izzy tearing up. He held onto the sheets of his bed to not fall into tears himself too. “I’m so happy, Alec.”

“I know.” They were quiet for a few seconds, just being there for each other. “I love you, iz.”

“I love you too, Alec.”

“So, was it Maia?”

“Of course it was Maia. You know I never lose.”

“Of course I know.” Alec chuckled. “Jace owes Max and I 20 bucks.”

“I’m so happy I’m not even gonna comment on that.”

“When is the wedding?”

“August 18th. I didn’t want it to be on winter, and I just couldn’t wait a whole year, you know? But it’s fine because we want a small ceremony with family and friends.”

“Wait, it’s all already planned out?” August 18th was just 4 months away. Travelling too far would have to be postponed, but Alec wasn’t even mad.

“Duh, I have been waiting for this day for seven years. Everybody already knows.”

“What? And you told me last?”

“As the 20 missed calls on your phone will tell you, you will realize that I wanted my best man to be the first to know.”

Fuck. He had been so immersed into the project that he had completely dismissed the existence of his phone.

“Yo- your best man?” Alec’s chest tightened up. Now there was no way he could resist the tears. He was an expert on crime, and crying of joy wasn’t one. “Izzy,”

“I wouldn’t have anyone else, and you know that.” He really would do anything for his sister. And she knew it. Izzy would do anything for Alec too. And he knew it.

He got up from his bed and started walking around the room or else he would have started tearing up, and Izzy would tear up as well and he was sure neither of them wanted to see how that ended. So he cleared his throat and changed the subject.

“Is there anything I can help you out with, you know, as your best man?”

“Maia and I will be travelling back to New York in a couple of weeks to arrange everything since the wedding is going to be at mom’s. We’ll be staying there as well.”

“In our garden? That’s…” Alec smiled into the window. “I remember you always talking about wanting to get married in our family home.”

Izzy laughed on the other side. “I can’t believe you remember that. It’s just- I have so many happy memories of that house. I mean, except for when dad left, but, overall everything was better after that. I just want to keep on making happy memories there.”

“I think it’s perfect.” And he really did. That house also held a lot of happy memories for him. Watching his sibling grow up, watching his mother discover her self-worth, even seeing himself grow up and discover his own self-worth. Everything that made him who he was had happened in that house. He was immensely glad his sister would pass onto another chapter of her life to the eyes of the house that had watched her grow up. Get married on the garden where she had given her first steps and where she had broken her first bone. Apparently she had also given her first kiss there. It was with Jimmy, the neighbor’s son. Alec had a huge crush on him, and when Izzy noticed, she never saw Jimmy again. Alec felt super guilty for getting in between, but Izzy told him that he smelled like chicken anyway. 

“Okay, so I think it would be nice if you helped me with the food. I know that you know New York’s culinary world better than anyone in this galaxy.”

“That is a secret that I don’t want to be known… but yes.” The room had started heating up from the sun entering directly through the window, so he grabbed the rest of the papers, threw them on the recycling bin and made his way out of there.

“Also, I wouldn’t mind helping you pick an outfit for the night. I already have some colour schemes in mind.”

“Are you trying to tell a sociologist how to dress properly for the eye of society?” He paced into the kitchen to grab a water bottle from the fridge. “Can’t I show up with a scruffy beard, long hair, a generic brown suit and a discourse ready on how marriage is a front stage behavior?”

“Wait. Are you finally letting your beard be?”

Alec touched his three day beard. “No.”

“Right.” Izzy laughed.

“So, what else can I be useful for?”

“Hm, let me see. I think I will give you the specific details when I get there, because the invitations are already on the making, I will check on the cake with you, and the decorations… oh, fuck.”

“What?” Alec asked, opening his water bottle.

“Fuck. I had completely forgotten.”

“Izzy, you have four months, I’m sure at least Luke knows enough people that could help with any-“

“No, it’s not that.” She made a pause. “It’s, uh. Maia’s best man.”

Alec held firmly onto his water bottle with one hand, and onto his phone with the other. If it was what had occurred to him in a flash...

“It’s Magnus.”

Chapter Text

Alec Lightwood hadn’t seen Magnus Bane in 7 years.

A week had passed since he had spoken to Izzy on the phone, letting her know that he was okay and that he would be waiting for her.

He was finally done with the research project, had been able to sleep for more than 4 hours at night and had trimmed his beard a little.

He had also started jogging in the mornings again, before going to the book store to work with Luke and his daughter Clary, who had become really good friends with Alec. He was feeling way more relaxed now that he was finally done with studying and had more time to take care of himself.

He was also feeling considerably more relaxed now compared to when Izzy had told him Magnus was not only attending her wedding, but that he'd be helping them out beforehand.

Alec stopped running and sat at the stairs that led to his building, taking in a long breath. He still didn’t know what to think. He didn’t even know if he should think anything about it at all. They had broken up almost a decade ago.

They had tried to make it work long distance, not realizing how tough it actually was going to be.

They had promised to keep in touch and to save up money during the year to visit each other. And making promises worked for them, at least for a while.

Alec’s first university year was absolutely challenging and demanding. He had been a good student at school and had excellent grades, but at uni he had to work twice as hard every single day to keep up with the readings and assignments, while also having to work at the book store on the evenings.

With a six hour time difference, he and Magnus had to juggle with everything to facetime or even text. When Magnus was free, Alec had classes and when Alec was free, Magnus had rehearsals.

They still always tried to make the effort to check on each other.

He missed Magnus like hell, but he was happy that they were both doing what they loved. He adored seeing Magnus’ excitement when he talked to him on Skype about the program and the people he had met in Amsterdam.

And Alec loved telling him about the literature he read and the things he did with his friends Aline, Helen and Simon.

Sure, it was hard, but they were sure they’d make it work. Plus, Magnus was supposed to visit on Christmas break and everything would be better then.

By the end of October things started getting more complicated. Alec started tutoring Max and a few of his friends from school while also working a few extra shifts at the book store since it was getting harder to pay for everything he needed. Even if he shared the rent with Simon, it was still a struggle to afford living in New York.

It started taking him longer to reply to Magnus’ text messages and it became harder to call each other every single day. They started texting less each day until it became a little awkward to talk. When they called each other, one of them would start arguing because of something small, would say something they didn’t mean and would end up ending the call.

When it was Alec, he regretted it immediately. He was becoming aware of how things were changing. Priorities were changing. He was changing and Magnus was changing, and it scared the hell out of him.

He always thought of calling Magnus right back after hanging up to ask what the hell was wrong with them, tell him that that wasn't who they were, but he was terrified of the answer.

Halfway through November, after barely talking for a few weeks, Alec texted Magnus asking him if he still wanted to see him when he came visiting on Christmas, but Magnus told him that he probably wouldn’t be coming back on the holidays.

Magnus called him later that day, and honestly, Alec couldn’t remember what was said on that call. It was the last time they spoke.

Hardly enough, Magnus was unavoidable. They shared a lot of friends from High School, including Maia, Clary and Simon, so he inevitably popped up in conversations. Alec didn’t want his friends to monitor what they were saying just because of him, but they started mentioning him less and less by seeing how much the name affected him.

Even though he pretended everything was alright, Alec was hurting deeply. He hadn’t only lost his boyfriend, he had also lost his best friend.

His family and friends were there for him in all the ways that they could, and Alec tried really hard to let himself be helped. His rock through that time was specially Izzy, who visited him every weekend and dragged him out of his bed to try new things. That way, Alec discovered his love for cuisine and got around to visit various restaurants throughout New York, even after Izzy’s visits became more sporadic.

He stopped looking through Magnus’ Facebook profile a year later, after a picture of him holding hands with a handsome European guy had popped out mid stalking. After that, he deleted his own profile for a couple of months, but claimed it to be a sociological decision, so nobody really complained.

A few months after that, he and Simon started jogging in the mornings. On one particular run, while they were in a heated discussion about The X Files, Alec collided against a tall figure, sending them both to the ground.

The guy he collided with had been running with a Dalmatian, who seized the opportunity and started running towards the park. Both the man and Alec ran through Central Park trying to catch the Dalmatian, which ended up with them finding it playing with a couple of kids. After running through the entire park, both men collapsed on the grass, which followed with tons of laughing about the situation and an exchange of phone numbers.

Alec had liked Elliot instantly, and not only because his dog was a Dalmatian named Pongo.

Elliot was handsome, funny, smart, and gentle, and also had a lot of opinions about The X Files. He studied Zoology, so he and Alec had a lot of fun comparing the behaviors of humans and animals on the daily. They got along really, really well. They both liked reading Albert Camus, cooking tons of pasta at any time of the day and staying home to cuddle while pretending to watch Lord of the Rings with Simon.

They were together for almost three years before deciding to split up.

Elliot wanted to travel the world, and Alec wanted to keep on with his studies.

Alec had been grateful for the time he got to spend with Elliot and for everything that he had learned with him. He had really cared about him, so letting all their years together go was tough, but they both knew it was for the best.

 What was really sad, though, was letting Pongo go as well.

After Elliot, he dated a few guys here and there, but after starting his Masters, his only true love was crime. His free time was mostly spent travelling the East coast with Max, Aline and Helen, playing video games with Jace and Simon, working at the book store with Luke and Clary, or helping his mother, Izzy or Maia out whenever they needed. And he loved it. He loved being with his family and doing everything he could for them. He did feel lonely at times, but he preferred to spend all the time he wasn’t doing research or studying with them.

He was happy with the life he had built. He felt comfortable. And he hadn’t thought about Magnus in at least three years.

Until now.

When Izzy freaked out about having mentioned the decorations and he instantly started putting two and two together, he told himself not to let it affect him. He wasn’t that stupid to not realize that, of course, Magnus would be attending Maia’s wedding, since she was one of his best friends.

It was an old wound. It was history.

But everything changed when the name was mentioned. He didn’t understand how a name could have such a big impact on him still. It sent all the blood rushing through his body.

It was indeed an old wound. Though the name still caused ache.

He had felt so ridiculous afterwards. He was twenty six years old. Seven years had passed.

Alec was going to see Magnus Bane again and he would be an adult about it.

He touched his grown up sociologist stubble in determination, stood up and went home to take a shower before he headed to the book store.

 

He waved at Luke, who was sitting at the counter, as he made his way into the shop. The smell of old books filled his lungs with familiarity and comfort. He had been working there for almost 8 years but still never got enough of it. By instinct, he went into the back room, left his stuff there, got himself a glass of water and immediately made his way back to the front of the store to greet Luke with a proper hug.

“It’s still weird seeing you this early on week days.” Luke said warmly as they hugged.

“Tell me about it. I swear that if you hand me a pen and a paper I’ll write a whole damn essay by pure instinct.” Alec made his way to a pile of books that they had at the center of the store where costumers would donate them so they’d find a new home. Luke had them a dollar each, but in the end, he still gave them away when a costumer seemed too fixated on it. He grabbed the last one that had been placed at the top. “A hundred years of solitude” he said, smiling towards the book. He had read it by randomly picking it out from the store the winter of his 4th university year and he had completely adored it. There were so many ways to interpret and analyse the book, it never seized to amaze him. He made a mental note of leaving it at the top of the pile so he could spy on whoever grabbed it.

“Those were left there yesterday by a couple that lives a few blocks from here. Apparently the man’s grandmother died and left dozens of books behind. They picked a few ones for themselves, but they were too much for them so they decided to bring them here.” Luke said walking towards the books to show Alec that most of them were a little bit torn on the edges, because of the years they had.

Too much, you said?”

“Not all of us are library mice.”

Alec didn’t comment further on it. He thought about the grandma and how much she must have loved her books. He only hoped they’d end up in a home that appreciated them just as much.

They started cleaning the store, ordering the books according to the categories and genres, and setting the place to the homelike aesthetic that Luke’s had always managed to portray.

“So, any word from the brides about when they’re coming back?” Said Luke changing the store’s sign to “open.”

“Next week, supposedly. Mom has already had the house cleaned up entirely to receive them. I think she’s more excited about the wedding than Izzy is. And take into consideration how Izzy gets when she’s excited about something. She’s the personification of what we call unstoppable force.”

“I know.” Luke chuckled. “And Maia is her immovable object.”

Alec smiled. He had always known that Maia and Izzy were going to be endgame. Something about the way they related to one another, the way they looked at each other, the way the relied on each other. They were electricity personified. Alec couldn’t be happier for his sister, she deserved the kind of love she had with Maia.

Alec felt a sting on the heart as he thought about it, but couldn’t completely figure out why. Maybe he felt more alone than he thought he did.

Perhaps getting a dog wouldn’t be an awful idea after all.

“So, uh.” Said Luke breaking him off his thoughts of dogs. “How is Maryse?”

Alec couldn’t contain the playful grin that appeared on his face.

“Maybe you could ask her yourself. I thought you had her number, but if you don’t we can call her rig- ”

“I’m never speaking to you about it again.”

Alec and Luke had grown incredibly close throughout the years. He had known him for being Clary’s dad first, but since he started working at the store, they managed to bond almost instantly about literature and dark humour. Luke ended up becoming somehow like a father figure to him as well.

Luke was also very close to Magnus. He and Clary had known each other since they were little back in Indiana, because their mothers had been close friends. After Clary’s mother Jocelyn passed away, Luke and Clary decided to move to New York so Clary could go to High School there and go to Art School afterwards.  Magnus hated the thought of finishing High School without his friend and asked his mom and Luke if he could go to New York as well. Living in New York was also a dream of his, and Luke knew that, so if Magnus’ mom agreed to it, then it was a plan.

After he and Magnus had broken up, he’d been afraid of things becoming awkward at the store, but Luke and Clary never made him feel that way. Alec let them know that they didn’t have to stop their conversations about Magnus when he was around, but he still noticed how they started mentioning him less and less.

He only figured they had done the same with him.

Anyway, it was inevitable for Luke to meet Maryse.  It wasn’t obvious that they liked each other at first, because Maryse was still hurt from the divorce, and Luke still grieved the loss of his wife. But as the years progressed, Alec noticed small changes in the both of them. Maryse seemed happier with life, started smiling more and travelled a lot more than she used to. Luke started writing again, had more energy to plan projects for the book store and went out with friends more often. They both had also started asking more about the other, so Alec was aware something was finally starting, and he was thrilled about it.

It didn’t mean he wouldn’t joke about it a little.

“Wait, wait. I’m sorry. I really am.” Said Alec in a sincere tone. “ Since you are going to be my dad, I just can’t talk to you like th-“

“Oh my god.” Luke threw his hands in the air while Alec laughed hysterically against the counter.

After setting up everything in the front, Alec went to the backroom to classify the books that were there to see if he had to arrange some of them in the front bookcases.

He was cleaning the dust off some old copies of Sense and Sensibility when the doorbell rang. He took one earphone off to check on the steps. It was still early for a lot of people to come in, so it wasn’t necessary to go help Luke just yet. He put it back on.

He loved it when they were sent old copies that ancient book stores owned since the 19th century because he felt part of an exclusive cult. He wondered whose hands had touched those copies while passing through a random book store in 1867.

Maybe, a hundred years later, somebody would find the same books and ask the same question.

He thought he heard more voices from the front room so he took his earphone off again. He could hear Luke’s voice through the walls and a high pitched one.

Clary, instantly thought Alec. He still wasn’t familiar with the schedule so he didn’t know when Clary was supposed to come into the store.

He left his earphone out because he assumed Clary would get into the back room to greet him at any moment, but time passed and he didn’t hear any steps towards the door.

He shrugged it off and continued to organize the books.

He lost concentration again when, through his unplugged ear, he heard more voices in the front room. They could be costumers, Alec thought, but something was off.

One of the voices was definitely Luke’s, which mixed with the high pitched one that now Alec was completely sure was Clary’s.

But there was a third one. A third one he couldn’t hear quite well, he couldn’t really decipher.

With a frown, he stood up slowly from where he was sat on the floor. He cleaned the dust off his pants, stopped the music, placed his headphones on the table and started walking towards the door.

When he was about to touch the handle, he saw it turn around slowly and backed off to see Luke’s head peeping in.

He then made his way inside the room, closing the heavy wooden door behind him. He looked at him carefully.

Alec didn’t have to be an expert in human interactions to realize this wasn’t normal behavior.

“Magnus was here.”

 

When Alec went back into the front of the store, he realized that the copy of A Hundred Years of Solitude was missing.

Chapter Text

One of the last things Alec had heard of Magnus was that, after graduating, he worked for a theatre company for a few years in France before unexpectedly moving to England. He had overheard this in a conversation Clary and Luke were having when he got to work a short time after he had broken up with Elliot, so he didn’t really dwell on it for too long. Either way, years had passed since that moment, so he had basically no clue what Magnus had been up to until that point.

It was not something that was on Alec’s mind constantly, and it was not something he gave himself permission to think about, either way. So if he had been curious, well, nobody would have known about it anyway.  

For some reason, when he did think about it, he came to the conclusion that he was never going to see him again. It wasn’t very logical considering their ties and friends in common, but it was the only option he could emotionally deal with.

It was easier to think that he would never have to face him again, and as the years passed, he just assumed that was going to be the case.

But the lies we tell ourselves are the worst ones when they backfire. The things we ignore eventually come back to kick us in the face. When Alec had received the call from Izzy, he had felt the kick coming in, approaching. But it wasn’t until Luke told him Magnus had been there, meters away from where he was standing, that he really felt the kick of reality right in the fucking nose.

Thankfully, that same evening, he and Jace had to go the airport to pick up Max, who had been travelling around Asia for the past few months, so he was glad he was going to have a distraction.

Max had developed very early on a very profound admiration and love for Eastern cultures overall, some of it thanks to Magnus and his stories, so he had taken a gap year before studying, saved enough money with a group of friends and took off to explore Asian countries.

As they cooked dinner at their mothers’ place, Alec watched with great happiness how Max talked and talked about the places he had seen, people he had met and every single new thing he had learnt.

He continued his tales as they sat at the table to eat. Everyone looked so happy Alec’s heart ached with love. He only wished Izzy would suddenly appear, then it would be perfect.

“My god, Kyoto was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. And the little towns around- I felt like I was in a Studio Ghibli movie.” Max said enthusiastically between bites. “But by far, my favorite place was Indonesia. The forests, the monuments… all of it only confirmed how much I want to be an archeologist.”

“We only figured by how many photos you sent from Ubud,” Jace said as he added more potatoes to his plate. “Those monkeys even appeared in my dreams.”

“You’re welcome for making your subconscious at least a little more interesting.” Max answered, showing his tongue.

“Ouch?!”

“Touché.” Alec laughed as Jace recovered from being owned by his little brother. 

“I’m gonna pretend that didn’t hurt my ego.” Jace said giving Max and Alec a look while dramatically putting a hand to his chest. “You’re lucky Izzy isn’t here to protect me.”

“Speaking of your sister,” Said Maryse returning to the table with dessert in hand. “Has she said anything new?”

“I don’t think so.” Said Alec helping his mother out, cutting the tart. “She and Maia will be arriving next Monday late at night- hey no touchey yet.” He slapped Jace’s hand before he reached the tart.

“On Tuesday we’re still meeting here for lunch, right?” Max asked, passing the small plates for the tart.

“Yes, my dear. All of us, together again. “Maryse said with shining eyes. Alec had been so busy the last few months that he hadn’t noticed how much his mother had missed all of them. When Max was travelling, he and Jace visited her when they had time, but he knew it wasn’t enough. Maryse had her friends and she did go out, but in the end, Alec knew that she still felt lonely.

Alec made a mental note of making it up to her.

When he got home that night he was feeling weird. He had had a great time with his family, but he couldn’t stop thinking about Maryse and loneliness. Especially since Simon was out performing and the flat seemed so cold and empty. He and his mother were more alike than they would ever like to admit.

They weren’t too close when he was growing up. It wasn’t like it was tense, but it seemed like they never communicated properly. After reaching his twenties, everything changed between them. They became more understanding with each other, gentler. They learnt how to treat each other without starting any sort of argument. The problem had been that they had always had too much of the same personality, and as Alec learnt more of humans in society, the more he understood that Maryse was just afraid.

He gave the first step, welcoming her more into his world, telling her about his troubles. He even started calling her. Him. Using the phone to dial.

Maryse seemed to understand the invitation and they started talking more, adult to adult. He loved it, and he knew she loved it too. For the first time he felt like his mother actually knew him and accepted him, just as he understood and accepted her.

The problem was that by truly seeing her, he was also aware of his own demons.

He lay on his bed and grabbed his phone, opening his Facebook app.

He tapped the name and pressed search.

He looked older now, wiser, Alec thought. He found a lot of pictures of him and his husband exploring Africa and Brazil.

He couldn’t help but smile bitter sweetly. That could have been his life. If he had decided to leave with Elliot, they would be now kissing while riding zebras or something. Maybe he wouldn’t feel as alone as he felt.

But that wasn’t what he had wanted. He wanted to stay in New York, where his family was. Yes, he loved zebras, but he was just as happy riding the subway and jogging through Central Park, and getting frustrated because strangers pushed him when he walked and didn’t apologize. There are different kinds of jungles, and he loved this one.

He had been able to study what he wanted and to live off it. That didn’t happen to many people, and he was extremely grateful for that.

That’s why that feeling was so frustrating to him. It sucked to think that a romantic companion was necessary for his life to feel whole. No, it wasn’t that. He did feel whole. He didn’t need to be completed. But he still felt alone.

He closed the Facebook app, put his phone down and tried to sleep.

Chapter Text

“IS THAT STUBBLE THAT I SEE?” Was the first thing Izzy said to Alec when he arrived at his mother’s house for their family gathering.

The week had gone through incredibly slowly. He hadn’t done much besides playing X Box with Simon and Max and jogging every morning. He also had to go to the book store, where he would busy his mind reading, helping customers and pretending he wasn’t hyper aware of whoever entered through the door.

The day before, he had asked Aline to go to his’ so they could order pizza with Simon and drink a lot of beer, but she and Helen were adopting a dog and couldn’t make it. Alec obviously understood this, since dogs were at the top of his list of priorities as well.

He still enjoyed spending time with Simon, even after all those years living together. They were both responsible roommates and never had any troubles besides that one time Simon had almost burnt the kitchen down. Simon was always respectful with the times he started practicing on his guitar, and sometimes even Alec joined him with the piano. But Alec knew that Simon needed a bigger space to practice where there wasn’t a grumpy Sociologist writing essays about the upcoming death of capitalism. Sometimes he wondered if he didn’t leave because he didn’t want to leave Alec alone, but he always pushed that thought away immediately. It was a really sad thing to think.

In the end, Simon joined him at the couch and they ordered their pizza with the weirdest toppings they could come up with (because they would eat them anyway), drank lots of beer and wine and watched Sherlock for the eighth hundred time.

Still, he was excited the day had finally come where he would see his sister after months.

“Well, hello, Izzy. Yes, I missed you too. Oh thanks, you also look splendid.” Said Alec rolling his eyes as he approached to hug her.

“You look so handsome!” Izzy hugged him back warmly. “And yes, I did miss you, you punk.”

“You look like you’re about to kill it at a poetry slam.” Said Maia, opening her arms to greet him as well. “And I’m so here for it.”

“Maia is the only one allowed to throw compliments at me from now on.” Said Alec cheerfully. He liked his aesthetic being acknowledged, especially by a fellow book geek.

They had driven by car the day before all the way from Boston and almost fell asleep the moment they stepped out of the car. The loved travelling by car, but they hadn’t anticipated that they’d be stopping about a hundred times at every Vegan store in Connecticut.

“I didn’t know you were vegan now!” Said Alec, sipping his wine enthusiastically. “That’s important stuff for the Food Person Thingy to know. That reduces the options to a few great, great places I know.”

“I’m sorry, I promised myself not to bother anyone with the planning before getting here.” Said Izzy, smiling innocently. “Because that’s all I’m allowing you think about for the next three months.”

“That seems fair to me.” Said Max, returning from where he was playing Just Dance with Maia and Maryse.

“You say that because you’re the DJ,” Said Jace. “You got the fun part.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge.” Max shrugged with a winning smile. Alec wondered when he had grown up so fast.

“Oh, right! What can I help you guys with?” Asked Jace.

“You and Luke could help with the lighting settings, electronic devices and such.” Maia said, sitting next to her wife to be. Maryse sat beside Alec. “We’re all going to be working together, because everything is related, in the end.”

“Exactly.” Izzy took Maia’s hand gently between hers. “Maia, mom and I will be organizing things in general.  And since Max will be in charge of the music, he will be working with you and Luke. That reminds me, Alec, would you give me Luke’s phone number to see if we can meet during the week?”

“I’m sure mom has it.” Said Alec cheekily. Maryse gave him a winning look that indicated she did not feel any shame of it.  “But anyhow, you can visit us at work tomorrow. I can be in charge for a while and I’m sure Luke will be pleased to see both of you.”

“I like that idea.” Said Maia and Alec looked at her knowingly. He knew she loved Luke like a father, but he also knew she, of course, liked the idea of being in a place full of old, ugly, shattered books.

They spent the rest of the day talking about the wedding and about what each of them had been up to till that point. Maia told them about the new research she would be conducting the following year about sea flora, where she would be sent to South America to explore the Pacific Ocean. Izzy looked thrilled about it. Alec liked that they had never held each other back from their desires and aspirations. He knew that his sister would miss Maia like hell, but she had her own research to do in Boston and the thought that they would both be doing what they loved was enough.

Max told them about his trip to Asian countries and showed them all the pictures he had taken. Alec joked about him almost making a PowerPoint presentation only because he knew Max would have probably done it but held himself back. Maryse talked about her painting and going to cross fit, where she was asked to teach because of how good and disciplined she was. Alec commented about him, finally, finishing his studies and his thoughts on getting a dog. Maia asked him about his research but everyone stopped them at that because they knew that if Alec started talking about crime and society he would probably never, ever stop. They watched “Treasure Planet” and “A Lot Like Love” before everyone went home.

Alec felt happier after the day. He had missed both Izzy and Maia more than he thought he had. He wondered if he had repressed that somehow and if he had done the same thing with other things, and if he had caught again the bad habit of dealing with things by not feeling them. He was so exhausted that he fell asleep before he could dwell on it too much and before thinking about what it meant that Maia and Izzy were in town.

 

“LUKEOHMYGODYOULOOKAMAZING” Alec heard from the back of the store. He smirked and walked to the front to find both Maia and Izzy attacking Luke with a hug.

“Guys, I’m sure Luke likes breathing and shit.”

“Girls, it’s been so long!” Luke hugged them back. “Congratulations. You both deserve to be as happy as you make each other.”

“Thank you, Luke.” Said Maia with teary eyes. “You know it means the world to me. You have always been practically family and I’m honored to be having you at our wedding.”

“Oh, Maia. The honor is mine.” Luke passed his hand through his face to cover the fact that there were tears on his eyes. “But let’s not get emotional too soon, we still have three months to go. I’m glad you came today, girls. If there’s anything I can help you with, just let me know.”

“Actually, we could really, really use your help.” Izzy smiled at him. “Would you like grabbing a coffee with us?”

Luke looked at Alec.

“I’ve got you covered.” Said Alec, taking the finance book on his hands and lifting it.

“Are you sure? Clary isn’t coming today.”

“Of course, you guys take all the time you need. Wednesdays are not that busy and I’ll keep occupied looking at the copies the old lady left behind.”

“Good. Thank you, Alec.” Said Luke taking his jacket. They said their goodbyes and left the shop.

Alec loved being on Luke’s company, but being alone at the book store was an experience. He turned off the background music and just enjoyed the quiet of the place. Not a lot of noise entered from outside, so the silence plus the setting sun entering through the window plus the smell of the books was like an out of this world experience. He felt on his element.

He made sure to check the finance book to see if everything was in order and then enjoyed the silence.

He was probably reaching a complete stage of relaxation when the bell form the door rang.

A young woman entered through it and Alec smiled at her as he pretended that the bell hadn’t scared the shit out of him. She smiled back at him and started checking out the books at the sci-fi section. Alec loved seeing people go to that section of the store because it held some of his favorite books and comic books. He saw her grab one book and he shifted to see which one she had grabbed. He had been so focused on seeing the book the lady had grabbed that he jumped when somebody talked to him.

“Hope she doesn’t grab Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“It’s not that bad.” Alec said and turned around to face the person speaking.

He would later laugh because when people mentioned on literature how their brains stopped working when something unexpected happened, he didn’t think it was serious. But when he saw who had talked to him, his brain literally melted for at least 3 seconds.

“I was rooting for 2001 Nights.” Said Alec trying to seem unaffected, because the person in front of him was no other than Magnus Bane.

“I was rooting for Descender, but 2001 Nights would do.”

He thought of the boy he had been in love with seven years ago: slim and punk, who rocked leather pants and necklaces and wore eyeliner perfectly. Whose dashing smile could probably melt stones and whose brown eyes could make Alec want to scream swear words in Spanish. He had no idea how all of that attractiveness could be multiplied by a hundred and ten, but the proof was there, right in front of his very own two eyes.

The man standing there looked way more mature than the guy he had known. His eyes were as shiny and brown (with a, as it seemed, perfected use of eyeliner), but revealed wisdom that hadn’t been there before. Alec had learnt how to know people by what their eyes showed and it seemed like Magnus had aged a hundred years. But it was only on his eyes because the rest of his face was fresh, strong and warm, just as the smile he was giving him. He was wearing a purple button-up shirt with suspenders that fit perfectly against his toned body. Alec contained a smirk by seeing that he was, indeed, wearing leather pants. His hair was short on the sides and long in the middle, styled upwards but not too extreme. It had red at the tips.

Thousands of thoughts ran through Alec’s mind. So many new information passed through his brain and he had no idea what to do with it. Magnus was still looking at him, his strong smile still present, and Alec just opened his mouth but nothing came out.

When he was about to talk and probably say something senseless, the young woman who was at the sci-fi section approached them, smiled at Alec and Magnus and placed both “Descender” and “2001 Nights” over the counter.

Chapter Text

When Alec was a child he loved going to the park with his siblings and friends from the area.

Almost every day, after they stopped eating dessert, he would grab Izzy, Max and Jace and ran to the park, because he didn’t want to miss any second of being there. He loved running around with Jace or throwing the ball with Izzy, who was better at it than any of the boys in the street. But by far, his favorite thing in the park was the swing set.

He remembered his parents taking him to the swing set when Izzy was just a baby and neither Jace nor Max were in the picture. He had been afraid at first, since those swings were the ones where you only had the two strings to grab yourself from, not the ones with belts that 3 year olds were supposed to use. But his mother had always grabbed him tight and reassured him that she would never let anything happen to him. She told him to use his legs to catch more flight, to throw them forward when he went up, and to bend the knees when he went backwards.

Throughout the weeks, Maryse started holding him less and less, until Alec was stable enough with it to do it himself. When he got the hold of it, he was unstoppable. He swung higher and higher each time, pushing his limits until he felt the set tremble.

When Izzy grew up, he held her and helped her swing just as his mother had taught him. But Izzy was more of a runner and a “do all of the things all the time aaa” person, so she quickly grew bored of the swings and left Alec with them, which he didn’t mind at all.

He loved when he would swing so fast and would reach so far up the wind would just hit his skin, and he would close his eyes and his blood would be so all over his ears he could not feel anything but his beating heart. All of it led to that moment where he would open his eyes, wait for the right time and just jump.

The feeling of adrenaline he got between the moment he made the crazy decision to jump to the moment he did, in fact, jump, was so amazing to him he wished he could grab it and study it.

It wasn’t like he enjoyed danger and he was addicted to the feeling of it, but it was that he loved the sensation of feeling itself. He liked the fact that he jumped even though he was afraid, and that thousands of awful consequences ran through his mind when he wanted to do so. He felt brave and alive and thought that everything could be possible if he was just brave enough to do it.

He had felt the same thing the first time he saw Magnus.

He didn’t believe in the concept of love at first sight, not even at that age, so he would never describe it as such.

What he would describe it as was that type of sensation that came from the very inside of your stomach and ran through your entire body. Adrenaline itself. The feeling that something big was happening and you just had to make decision right there, right away. The jumping off the swing.

Seeing the man standing in front of him, smiling, had him feeling like he was in the air, but he had jumped unprepared, somebody else had made the decision of jumping and now he wasn’t sure about how he was going to land.

The woman who had brought the copies of Descender and 2001 Nights to the counter, bought the graphic novels, in the end, and left the shop with a knowing smile.

After that, Alec was left with the sensation of being in the air, still, floating. He looked at Magnus and Magnus looked at Alec and they held their glances until they both started laughing uncontrollably.

“Oh, boy. This is a strange situation.” Said Alec when he finally stopped laughing.

“I know, right? Glad you said it first.” Magnus was still holding his stomach with his hand. He looked radiant, like sunshine personified.

“Like, what do you do in these instances?”

“Small talk? Talk about the weather? Or, ‘Oh, it’s nice what you’ve done with the place’, not like I haven’t already been here before.”

“Sure! ‘Whaddup. What a wonderful day, huh? Not like I haven’t talked to you in seven years.’” Alec said and stopped.

Magnus smiled tiredly and looked down. Alec had finally addressed the unsaid and now the Pandora box was open.

After a few awkward moments, Magnus spoke. “Seven years, huh?”

“It’s… been a while.” Alec said and forced himself to look at Magnus in the eye. Magnus was looking at him too.

“I hope you don’t mind me passing by. I was hoping I could talk to Luke.”

“Oh, he went out with Izzy and Maia just a while ago.” Alec walked in front of the counter and steadied himself by leaning on it. “I’m sure he’ll be back soon, but you never know when Izzy is involved.”

Magnus smiled at that and the swing set trembled. “I’m sure of that.”

Alec started arranging a few books on the pile so that he had something to do with his hands.

“I can come back later if you’re busy.” Said Magnus. “I don’t want to bother.”

“It’s fine.” Alec said before he even knew what he wanted to say. “It’s the dead hours, not many people come at this time, and I already caught up with the work.”

Magnus nodded and walked towards the pile of books as well, grabbed some of them to arrange them and looked at Alec to see if it was okay. Alec smiled at him in confirmation and they both started arranging the books in silence.

On one of his sleepless nights, Alec had already thought of the possibility of running into Magnus somehow, and also thought that it was going to be painfully awkward. But he would have never imagined he would be sorting out books at the store with him while sharing a very comfortable silence.

He looked up to see Magnus reading the back of some books that he had grabbed and smiled at the name of them.

“Mrs Dalloway, a good pick.” Magnus looked up to him.

“It’s one of my favorites. I’ve probably read it like ten times.” Magnus held the book up. “I left my copy in London so I’ll probably take this one with me.”

Alec smiled at that. He didn’t remember Magnus being much of a reader when they were young, but he also knew the Magnus he had in front of him wasn’t like the one he once knew. His heart sank a little and he cleared his throat to try and let the feeling pass.

He raised an eyebrow at the other one Magnus was holding. “The Iliad?”

Magnus smiled at the book. “Other favorite. I taught that one to my students last year and they loved it. They ended up doing a play in front of the entire school.”

Alec stopped. “Your students?”

“Oh. I taught theatre in a high school back in London.” His eyes were shining while he said this.

“I-“ He was going to say more but Magnus’ phone started ringing. He gave Alec an apologetic look and looked at the screen.

“Sorry, I really have to take this.” He said and as Alec nodded, he went out to answer the call.

Alec barely had time to process all the new information he had gotten when Magnus came back through the door and said, “Sorry about that. I really have to go.”

“It’s fine,” Alec smiled at him. “I’m gonna let Luke know you passed by.”

Magnus smiled back at him.

“I-, how would you feel about meeting and catching up?” Alec said before he could stop himself. “And I’m not saying it because I feel obliged to because of the situation.”

Magnus chuckled at that, “Definitely.” He took The Iliad and Mrs Dalloway and drew his wallet from his pocket.

“You don’t have to.”

“It’s fine. Luke already let me take one for free.” He handed Alec 5 dollars. Alec remembered the missing copy of A Hundred Years of Solitude and smiled to himself.

“Thank you for your purchase.” Said Alec by dramatically handing him the receipt.

Magnus continued to smile at him until he was at the door and said, “Goodbye, Alexander.”

Alec jumped off the swing, and he didn’t mind where he landed.

Chapter Text

“Alec. Hey, Alec… ALEC!” Alec jumped in the passenger sit of the car. “Earth back to Alec!”

Max was driving with one hand while he moved the other in front of Alec’s face to draw his attention.

“Hey! Both hands on the steering-wheel, kid.” Alec complained while he shifted on his seat.

“Don’t patronize me. I’ve been told I’m the best driver my age.”

Alec raised an eyebrow at Max’s smug face. “And who taught you how to drive?”

“Uh, you? While also providing proof that gays can, in fact, drive?”

“Exactly, and- What?” Alec snorted and Max snorted and then they were both laughing. “How do you know queer jokes that I don’t?”

“Maia is the absolute master. She speaks gay fluently. Mom and I can’t stop laughing at her puns and Izzy just face palms. I think it was my fault for introducing her to vine and internet comedy.”

Alec smiled at this. When Alec had first came out to his mom it had been a revelation. His father had made a big deal out of it and Maryse had a bit of trouble with it at first. With time it became so tense with Robert that Maryse started stepping in and defended Alec at all costs.

Izzy came out after Robert left, telling everyone that she had fallen in love with a girl. Everyone but Alec, who had a very decent gaydar, had been surprised because Izzy had only dated guys before, but accepted her either way. Besides, everyone loved Maia. She and Izzy had been really close friends before falling in love.

Alec knew that it must have not very easy for his mother. She grew up in a very conservative family and had inherited some very conservative beliefs. Plus she had married someone who was also awfully traditional. When you’ve been told everything is just black and white your entire life, you really, truly believe it.

Despite of everything, Alec was really proud of his mother for trying to see color where she shouldn’t have seen any. In the end, her love for her children and her want for them to be happy was stronger, and Alec felt really grateful for that.

“I really need her to update me on all the terms. I can’t believe I’m on the ‘antique gay’ side of the spectrum.”

Max chuckled. “You’re now going to be “Antique Gay” on my phone.” They both laughed. Max paused a little to then carefully ask, “You okay? You were drifting off earlier.”

Alec shifted again on his seat, his ears red. He felt bad for drifting off when he was supposed to be focusing on the great day that followed with his brother. He shook his thoughts away.

“Uh, yeah. Just thinking about that outfit of yours.” Alec pointed at the costume Max was wearing. Alec had promised Max that he would join him to comic-con that year, because most of Max’s friends were out of the city and, well, because Alec was also a nerd himself.

“Don’t you dare insult my Eraserhead outfit. Mom and I worked hours on it.” He said while fixing his yellow goggles on his neck.

“Hours? But you’ve already got the long hair and psycho eyes. You could have just showed up with that sleeping bag of his’.”

“That- would have actually been hilarious,” Max said and turned to look at him. “Cap.”

Alec had dressed as post-civil-war Steve Rogers. He didn’t want to shave his beard, so Captain America was the only thing he came up with within a few days.

“Agh. There’s going to be so many Caps. I should have dressed up as Shiro from Voltron.”

“But the beard?”

“Yes, the beard.” He said and shifted his shield between his legs.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Max said, keeping his eyes on the road. Alec could still see the worry in them, which broke his heart a little bit.

Before Alec could say anything, Max spoke. “It’s Magnus, right?”

Alec sighed. “He showed up in the store the other day.”

“Yeah, kinda figured he would be in town.” Max was still facing the road ahead.

Alec felt a little weird talking about it with Max. He and Magnus had really bonded when they were younger. Magnus always told him stories about Indonesia and always encouraged him to learn more about Asia and its different cultures. He showed him movies, books and told him what some of the cultures thought about life and death. Max had been completely drawn to all of that, and especially to Magnus, who never seemed to lose his patience with him, as many did.

When Alec and Magnus broke up, Alec hadn’t been the only one that lost him.

Either way, Max never treated Alec differently after that, so he knew he didn’t blame him.

“Hey,” Max said in an entirely different tone, and Alec turned to look at him. “Ten bucks that Simon shows up dressed up as Spider-man.”

 “You really need to stop this betting thing of yours.” Alec laughed. “Deal.”

 

Comic-con was really fun. In the end, Alec and Simon had arranged beforehand that they would both dress up as Captain and Bucky, so Max, very reluctantly, had to buy them both French fries. Alec entertained himself looking at all the art that was around and almost spent all the money he had on him supporting independent artists.

He ran into about twenty other Captain Americas and they all took a picture together. Alec secretly loved it. He had also ran into a very cute dude cosplaying Sirius Black. Alec publicly loved it.

After a lot of laughter, food and being nerds, Max dropped them both over their apartment and went home with a goofy smile on his face.

He and Simon stayed up a little later to watch buzzfeed unsolved, and then they both went to bed completely exhausted.

The next day, Alec woke up early because Izzy had asked him to meet up and have breakfast so they could begin organizing the meal plans for the wedding.

They had arranged to meet at a vegan café that Alec found to be placed very close to his apartment. It was a very beautiful tiny store that was filled with plants and smelled like sugar. Alec loved it and reminded himself to go there more often.

Izzy arrived only a few minutes later than Alec, so they sat and then ordered.

Izzy stared at him.

“Go ahead. Shoot.” Said Alec, sipping his tea.

“I just can’t get over seeing you with a beard, you look like a super villain.”

“I- that’s actually kind of a compliment.”

Izzy smiled at him and Alec smiled back. He had been waiting for that day, if he was honest. He had really missed spending time with Izzy.

He prided himself on having a very good relationship with all of his siblings, but Izzy was also his best friend. They had always had each other’s back. When they were younger, Alec made sure Izzy never felt alone or unwanted in the house. And as they grew up, he saw how his sister started doing everything to reciprocate.

Alec sighed. “I can’t believe you’re getting married.”

Izzy smiled and nodded. “In less than three months. Wasn’t it yesterday when you were officiating my wedding with my teddy bear?”

“I can’t believe I was a part of that,” said Alec making a face. “You were obviously in love with your Sailor Saturn doll.”

“But marrying teddy was the only option I thought I had. He was going to help me restore my family name, remember?” She sighed, dramatically. “God, I wish Sailor Saturn would have walked through that door and stopped the wedding.”

“To then having you running through the aisle to kiss her while dramatic music played in the back?” Alec smiled. “Yeah. At least you chose your Sailor Saturn this time.”

Izzy grinned at that. “I can totally see Maia walking through that door.”

“Oh, she so would have.”

They continued talking and eating their cakes and cookies. Alec loved that vegan food seemed to be made with more love than the “regular” one, especially that one cake he was eating. It appeared to have been made out of a piece of heaven.

“This is a really good cake, huh.” Alec looked up at Izzy, who raised an eyebrow in response.

“It indeed is.”

Before leaving the vegan place, they asked if to see if they made cakes for bigger events –which they did- so Alec immediately placed that café on the list of probabilities.

They walked around the city while Alec showed his sister all the new places he had found. It brought many memories back, when Izzy dragged him out of his bed and forced him to explore. It had been the best thing anybody could have done for him in that time, so he was going to make sure he took Izzy to the best places he’d gotten to know.

After many hours and full stomachs, they sat at another café to organize what they had done throughout the day.

“I will pay you so you get those statues of you and Maia out of carrots.” He dramatically set his fist on the table.

“We are not wasting those carrots just for the sake of the vegan aesthetic.”

“Who said anything about wasting? We could make smashed carrots for months! And carrot salad, carrot cakes, ca-“

“We’re so having carrot cakes for dessert. And can you believe you can make brownies out of avocado?”

“After this day, I’ve learnt that everything is possible.” Alec took out his little notebook and his pen. “So the brownie place is...?”

“Confirmed.” Izzy said with a grin. Alec smiled and put a ticket besides something he had just written. “And I loved the owner. She was really kind for offering his nephew’s service line.”

“It’s gonna be his first big real gig.” Alec said, looking proud as though he’d known him for years. “We gotta make young Timmy and his waiter buds feel at home.”

“Speaking of gig. At what time are we supposed to get to Simon’s?”

“He’s playing at 11, but we can meet earlier to grab a few drinks first.”

“Yes! Maia says that place has the best mojitos in New York. I guess we’ll have to find out.” She smiled mischievously. “I think 10 is a good time.”

“Those are definitely the best mojitos in New York. Hey, is mom staying home?”

“I think so. Should we ask her to come along?”

Now the mischievous smile appeared on the other Lightwood sibling. “I’ve got a better idea.”

He drew his phone out and texted for a few minutes with a fake concentration look on his face, which made Izzy cross her arms and roll her eyes while trying to contain a smile altogether. When Alec was done, Izzy drew an eyebrow up.

“Max may or may not call Luke asking him to please lend him this thing for the lighting set for the wedding so he can start programming it according to the music pattern…” Alec started.

Izzy continued, understanding where that was going, “But then: Oh, would you look at that! Max isn’t home! Instead there’s a confused ‘Lucian! I didn’t expect you at this time’ Maryse opening the door for a ‘Sorry to bother, I was bringing this to Max but apparently he’s not here so?’ Luke…”

“… to then being met with a ‘Nonsense, come and have a drink with me’ Maryse because Maryse Lightwood doesn’t mess around.” Alec still had the mischievous smile on his face.

“You’re an idiot. Nobody should have ever given you the power of understanding human relationships on a deeper level.” They both smiled. “Speaking of Max, is he gonna be getting to the club with you? When I left he wasn’t home.”

“Yeah, he was going to help Simon with the sound system at home and I’ll be meeting him there.”

“I still can’t believe we’re going out to have drinks with Max.” Izzy shook her head. “I still remember the first time he got drunk.”

“I don’t think anyone could ever forget that.” Alec pressed his hands on his temple. “That kid is gonna revolutionize college.”

After a while Izzy went home to change and Alec left to his own loft to meet with Simon and Max. Alec helped Simon carry the equipment to his van, since he had to get to the pub earlier, and went back to the apartment to get ready for the night ahead.

They arrived twenty minutes past ten, to Alec Punctuality Freak’s horror, because Max had, somehow, lost one of his shoes. They ended up finding it on one of the top shelves from the kitchen.

They both couldn’t stop laughing until they arrived to the pub.

The pub was already full of people, walking around excited and ready to get hammered. It was Friday night after all.

They were walking and still discussing the endless possibilities of how the hell Max’s shoe got where they found it when they heard Izzy’s unmistakable laughter. They gave each other a look and followed the sound.

Alec first spotted Maia, who caught his eye and lifted her hand to sign them over the table. As he continued making his way over, he saw that Izzy was besides Maia, who was laughing about something Aline, who was in front of her had said. Alec smiled, he hadn’t seed his friend in a while. Next to her was Aline’s girlfriend, Helen, who was talking to two people that Alec couldn’t see very well. But as he reached closer, he spotted the characteristic long, ginger hair. It didn’t take his brain long to make the connection, and his heart immediately started pounding fast against his will.

If Clary was there, then it wasn’t exactly impossible to guess who the other person sitting on the table was.

What Alec first caught glimpses of was the way he was smiling, so easily while he listened to something Clary was saying. His hair was styled upwards, kind of in a punk rock way that reminded Alec of how Magnus used to style it when he was seventeen. But now, instead of looking like a grunge band member, he looked like some sort of magnificent wizard. And in the best sense. He was wearing a crimson buttoned shirt and a black jacket. A few necklaces were resting on the bit of chest that the shirt revealed. Alec held his breath.

He still hadn’t fully processed his first reencounter with Magnus.

He didn’t know what to make of it. He didn’t even know if he was even fully mentally present in that event. At least it had been fine, he told himself. It wasn’t dramatic. Nobody slapped anybody. They didn’t run into each other’s arms, either. He liked to think it had been a mature meeting. He even had the courage to ask the other man to meet and catch up. That had to be a thing mature people did, right?

So, yes. It had been okay. It had been fine. Even cool.

Then, why the hell did he feel like some part of him was banging against walls? He felt like his body was telling him something, but he didn’t yet know how to read it.

He pushed those feelings aside, and reached the table.

“Where the hell have you two been?” Izzy said when she saw them, making the rest of the group turn.

Alec greeted the group with his hand and tried not to let his eyes linger too much when meeting Magnus’.

“Well it’s kind of a funny story but I’m sure Max will tell it better than I would.” Max was just reaching the table when Alec addressed him.

“Hey guys, so have you ever randomly lost a shoe?” Max said and scanned the group. Alec saw the moment his brother’s smile faltered, but then immediately recovered.

While Max continued to tell the story to the group Alec made his way to sit with them. There was a seat next to Izzy that had Jace’s jacket on, so Alec inspected the other two seats left. Of course they were next to Magnus. And he had to pick the one closest to him because if he chose the other that left a seat between them then it would be too obvious that he was uncomfortable sitting next to him, which he wasn’t. Or he was. No, he wasn’t.

Ugh. Overthinking, much?

Alec set his thoughts aside once again and sat next to Magnus. Alec pretended he didn’t notice the shared look between Izzy and Maia.

“Aline was right, you do look like a French poet!” Helen said while raising her first for Alec to bump it, which he entertainingly did.

“Super villain, French poet, what’s next?” Alec said and bumped Aline’s fist next.

“I’d say it’s more like a very casual intellectual farmer look.” Magnus tilted his head slightly to greet Alec with a smile.

Alec saw him being calm, so he had no reason not to be chill himself.

“Intellectual French super villain poet who owns a farm. That’s exactly what I was going for.”

The group laughed and Alec specifically focused on the laughter of the man sat beside him, which filled him like air to a balloon. He felt the banging against the walls.

Alec noticed how Max sat next to him. “So, where’s Jace?”

“He went to get more drinks.” Aline said and showed her empty beer bottle. “We got a bit thirsty waiting for you two.”

Alec rolled his eyes.

He saw how Max was greeting Clary to then facing Magnus.

“Hey, Magnus.” He said with a flat voice. Alec was a bit taken aback. He had never seen Max being cold towards anybody, not even to people who deserved it. He was always witty and had the answer for everything. The only time he had seen this type of behavior was that time Robert called him.

If Max was acting this way, was because he cared.

“Max!” Magnus said eagerly. “Look at you, you’ve grown so much!”

“Yup. Seven years do that to people.”

“Max.” Alec said quickly. Max turned his face towards the bar.

“It’s okay, Alexander.” Magnus said with a reassuring smile. Despite that, Alec could still see flashes of something like sadness cross his eyes. “I get it.”

Alec wondered then if he, himself, really got it. He was feeling a little weird, he still felt the banging against the walls somewhere deep inside him. Again and again he shoved those feelings down, not giving himself the time to inspect them. It was okay, in the end. Things were fine.

Aline and Helen started telling them all about the new dog they had adopted and Alec easily focused on that. Dogs. He really loved them.

Jace got to the table with a round of beers and shots and they all toasted to Simon.

It seemed like no time had passed when it was time for the show to start. They all gave it all they had of yelling inside them when Simon came out into the stage and started singing. Soon enough, the public got up from their sits and started dancing. Alec felt like a proud dad. He knew Simon’s music was good and seeing other people enjoy it as much, elated him. Simon really deserved it. Eventually all of them sat up and started dancing as well. Alec just moved his arms and pretended, so he didn’t ruin the fun for the rest. When he was giving his best to his “two fingers by the eye” movement, he saw that Magnus was smiling at him. His heart wanted to jump out of his mouth.

“What?” He said, without being able to contain a smile.

“You’re dancing.” Magnus laughed, raising his eyebrows. “I remember Izzy used to put at least a few drinks in front of you before you got up from the chair.”

“Oh, god. And then there was nobody in the house who could stop me.”

“One time, I remember Jace told you there was a flying snake for you to climb off the table.” Magnus laughed and did that thing again where he was holding his stomach.

 “Ugh. I remember that.” Alec put a hand on his face. “And then I freaked out, but you told me you’d fight it if it tried to mess with me.”

“And then you told me that if it messed with me for messing with you, you’d never forgive yourself.”

“And we got to the agreement of fighting the flying snake together.” They both laughed for a while. When Alec regained his composure and looked at Magnus who was already looking at him. There was that sadness crossing his eyes again.

Alec was good at reading people, but he desperately tried not to do it that time.

He cleared his throat.

“Anyway, I don’t need alcohol to do get loose anymore. I’m a chill famer poet now.”

Magnus gave him a little smile. “I’ve realized.”

Alec could tell that he was going to say more, but then he saw how his eyes were looking next to him. He turned around and saw Max looking at both him and Magnus, and then turning around to walk away.

Alec gave Magnus an apologetic smile and followed his brother.

Max was fast, and Alec had drank a little so it was difficult to follow him in the crowd. In the end, they reached an end near the bathrooms and Alec touched Max’s shoulder.

“Max… Max. Look at me.” His brother turned around slowly, frowning at Alec. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t get it.”

“You don’t get, what?” Max gave Alec a look. “Listen. I know that you and Magnus were close when he was here. I’m sorry you feel hurt, but this isn’t how you work through things. This isn’t you.”

Max gave Alec a puzzled look. “Me? You think this is about me?” He laughed bitterly, but then sighed. “Alec, you listen. This isn’t about me. Yes, I was hurt when he left, he was a dear friend to me. And yes, that sucked. But I wouldn’t act like this because of that.

“Alec, what I don’t get is why you are so... chill and calm around him, like he didn’t break you?”

“Max, what are you talking about?”

Max looked at his brother carefully. “Alec… you waited for him. He was supposed to come back that Christmas, and you waited for him.”

Alec’s heart starting beating awfully inside of his ribcage. For some reason, he didn’t want to listen to that, but he still waited for his brother to continue.

“Alec, you didn’t talk for a month.”

“W-what?”

He… he didn’t remember that. He remembered Magnus texted him he was probably not going to make it to Christmas and then having a phone call… but everything else was blurry.

But then, he remembered.

Alec.

I don’t think I will be coming back on the holidays. I don’t really think it’s a good idea that we see each other. Things have been a bit… rough between you and me. There are some things that we need to discuss.

After Alec got that message, he got out of the class he was attending and called Magnus.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“You’re not coming.”

“It’s not a good idea.”

Alec’s heart felt heavy as he sat on the floor of the boys’ bathroom.

He had so many things to say, yet he didn’t know how to say them. And that weighed him every further down.

“If that’s what you want.”

There was silence in the other end of the line.

“It is.”

Alec felt the moment his heart broke. A little sound came from his mouth, but it didn’t seem like his.

 Why, he wanted to ask. Why did you lead me to believe we could if you would give up on us so easily?

But then again, Alec wasn’t doing much himself, either.

“So this is it?”

More silence.

“Fine. Don’t talk. But don’t contact me anymore.” And he ended the call. And he didn’t say a word. And he didn’t say a word for the next 40 days or so.

Alec, at his twenty six years old, prided himself for becoming someone so well put together. He had learnt how to deal with stress and heavy situations, and he was good at doing so. But at that moment, he felt the blood going up to his ears and heard a high pitched noise. His stomach had dropped and was aware the color had left his face. He was 19 again and shaking against the boys’ bathroom floor.

“We were really scared.” Continued Max. “We knew it had to do with Magnus but since it’s a stress symptom, everyone associated it with all the extra work that you had at that time as well.

“And I thought so too, for a while. But then he never showed up again. And I didn’t get it. Until I did. He was a coward. He did something to you and he wasn’t the one to own up to it. Isn’t that right, Magnus?”

Alec was breathing with difficulty, but he still turned around to face Magnus who apparently had followed them to try to help. He looked like he had been beaten up, but his posture remained tall.

“Alexander.”

“Don’t call me that.”

They looked at each other for a few seconds.

“Alec. I-“

“I need you to please not talk to me right now.”

If Alec had been thinking straight, he would have seen the way Magnus’ eye shined with hurt before turning completely dark, closing himself off.

Alec turned around and walked past Max, past everyone.

He was aware that Simon was supposed to be singing in the background, but all he could hear were the banging sounds inside of him that were louder and louder by each minute.

Chapter Text

Even though it was summer, the night was pretty chill and the wind moved the branches of the tree next to Alec’s apartment, which collided against his window. He lifted his foot to play with a sock that was at the end of his bed. He was staring at the ceiling, trying to concentrate on his breathing.

He had sent Max a message that he had arrived home safely after ignoring his calls. He told him to tell Izzy and the rest of the group he wasn’t feeling well. He would personally apologize to Simon in the morning.

He was considerably calmer now than he had been leaving the pub. He hadn’t had a panic attack in a while, and it had been painfully hard trying to deal with it while leaving such a crowded space and then having to face the lights of the city. He ran to an alley, leaned against a wall and tried to remember all the breathing exercises he had learned when his anxiety had been at its prime point. It took him about 10 minutes to calm himself down enough to call an uber and go home.

When he got home, he had made himself a tea and went to lie on his bed. After an hour or so, his tea remained untouched and cold on his desk.

He kept on focusing on his breathing, on how his chest and tummy lifted as he inhaled, and dropped when he exhaled. He closed his eyes.

He saw himself sitting at the men’s bathroom floor, wanting to scream but suddenly forgetting how to. He remembered punching one of the doors from a toiler cubicle at the same time a guy entered through the door. They held each other’s gaze before Alec stormed off god knows where.

Then, he saw himself sitting at his old house’s table, a plate of smashed potatoes and vegetables in front of him. He remembered everything smelling like cinnamon and ginger. Everything was decorated in white, gold, green and red. He heard the sound of his mother and siblings laughing in the background, but all he did was gaze expectantly towards the door.

Alec sighed and shifted on his bed.

He had been, what, nineteen at the time? Nineteen and heartbroken, what a combination.

He was so young. Dealing with uni, two jobs and a heartbreak. He had been naïve thinking everything would work out as he wanted it to. It didn’t.

He missed uni for an entire month and was late on his school work, he had to quit tutoring and working with Luke for a while. Maryse had to step in and help him pay his half of the rent, which made Alec feel even more like garbage. The whole thing of moving out and working was to not be a burden to his single mother, who still had three other kids to maintain.

All of it had been too much, causing his stress and inability to speak to last for a bit more than a month. He tried to work with a psychiatrist who gave Alec medicine even if he didn’t say a single word. Those made him sleepy and numb all the time. He hated them and he quitted after two weeks, completely losing respect for Western medicine.

After that, Luke sent him to a woman he knew who was an expert in natural therapy. She had apparently been friends with him and Jocelyn. Her name was Anne-Marie. Alec went there completely pessimistic and untrusting of natural medicine. Anne-Marie showed him a set of pictures of flowers and told Alec to pick the ones that drew his attention. He didn’t remember quite well the flowers he picked, but after he did he gave them back to her. She inspected them and gave him a little smile. Anne-Marie opened her mouth and, as if she were a mind-reader, told Alec everything he had been feeling yet hadn’t found the words to say.

She explained the properties some flowers had and the meaning they entailed. She told him that Bach flower therapy consisted of a mix of brandy and water that had extreme dilutions of flower material that contained the healing properties of the plant. Alec frowned at her and she smiled sweetly once again. She told him that she didn’t mind if he thought they were only placebo effect, but that she hadn’t imagined the face he made when she read the meaning of the flowers he picked. He smiled despite himself, after weeks. She asked him if he would like to try it out, and after a few seconds he nodded.

She gave him a little bottle and told him to take four drops of it, four times a day, every day. She also told him to visit her three times a week to have a little chat. He smiled at that too, not expecting much either way. He still took the drops when he got home.

The next time they saw each other, Anne-Marie asked him if he wanted to know about the other flowers he hadn’t picked and their effects. He had actually been curious the last time so he moved his head in agreement. She started teaching him about healing flowers and plants. As the sun came eventually over the weeks, she showed him her gardens and how she took care of her plants, flowers and vegetables.

He didn’t know if it was because the sun had come, because Izzy dragged him out of his bed, because he loved learning about natural medicine, because the flowers were working, or maybe all of it, but after a few weeks, he realized he was feeling better.

One afternoon, Alec burst into tears when he and Anne-Marie were drinking tea in her porch.

“Ready to talk?” She asked him.

“I have to.”

They went inside and Alec started talking and then he couldn’t stop. Anne-Marie nodded along and listened to every word.

Every following session was like that, he showed up and she would ask him something and then he deflated. In those meetings he found out many things about himself that he kept hidden. About how his relationship with his mother had shaped him as a person more than he liked to admit. About how he relied so much on his siblings because he knew they were the only ones that would love him unconditionally when the world didn’t. About his deep need to protect everyone so much that he didn’t mind what was left of him in the end. About how he preferred to detach himself from things before they parted from him.

Whether or not the Bach flowers worked, those meetings with Anne-Marie healed him.

He kept visiting throughout the year, once every week, to then once a month. Until eventually he stopped because life got a little busier. He was back on his studies, and started working and to going out again.

They forgot to exchange numbers, and then 6 years passed by. Alec had forgotten about her until then. He felt terrible. That woman helped him see himself and he just vanished her from his memory.

He remembered how changed he felt when he stopped going to their therapy sessions and stopped taking the flowers. Anne-Marie was really proud of all he had accomplished. He felt like nineteen year old Alec was centuries away from how he was then.

But, what has really changed, Alec asked himself in the dark of his room. He had managed to develop a beautiful and healthy relationship with his mother despite his fears, yes. But he still hid himself in his studies. He hid himself in his work. He hid himself in his siblings and friends. He had created a screen, a wall that showed the world he was this academically and emotionally accomplished person. Nothing got to him, he was a practical man. Give him a case and he studied it. Give him a problem and he solved it. But, what was it that was happening behind the wall?

Alec felt tears at the back of his eyes and he let them flow. He needed to let himself feel, like that time at Anne-Marie’s porch.

He thought of Elliot and how easily he had given up the beautiful relationship he had had with him. He remembered the moment he detached himself from him. Knowing that if he parted with him and then things went bad it would break him. He picked the stable option, the one where he would keep on studying while also keeping his heart safe. He kept telling himself it had been the right option, even if he didn’t know at the time if he had actually really wanted it. But he didn’t regret it. Elliot was happy and he had studied his dream career. But the “what ifs” pained him as they always did.

And Magnus.

Alec had seen it getting complicated. He had smelled the uncertainty of his words on the phone. There was somewhat of a gap in the air.

Magnus had been the one so certain they would work, but Alec had always been afraid.

And the fear never left him, ever since that first night he had spent with Magnus.

Fear was one of the most dangerous things. It paralyzed people. It reminded them they had something to lose. Fear governed Alec back then, but he didn’t see it. He was a proud guy. He was sure he had it all together, as he did now. But every time he heard uncertainty come from Magnus, he detached and detached and detached. He knew it, but didn’t know how to deal with it. He knew he was being stupid and Magnus was being stupid but fear controlled him like a puppet.

Alec thought of the word Max had used to describe Magnus, coward.

He had been a coward too, but he wasn’t the one to withdraw completely. Magnus was the one who gave up in the end. He never showed his face again until then.

Even if they both had been stupid, Alec still had the right to be upset.

Alec didn’t know the Magnus that had showed up at the book store days ago. He was an entirely different person.

And now he wasn’t so sure he had known the Magnus he had loved seven years back. Because the guy he knew wouldn’t have escaped for nothing. Damn, he had been so sure. He was always sure, even when Alec wasn’t. It didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense.

Alec sighed heavily and sank his face on his pillow. His head was hurting from the alcohol and the thinking. He really didn’t want nor need to keep on his mental loop so he tried to sleep.

Chapter Text

Alec woke up the next day with the smell of the herbal tea he had left on his desk. His mouth tasted sour but he, thankfully, didn’t feel any sort of headache nor pain related to the drinks he’d had the night before. He did, though, feel like his chest weighted a hundred pounds.

After a few minutes of staring at the mug besides him, he got out of bed and got immediately into the shower. He let the hot water reach his skin and hoped for it to relax his muscles, at least a little bit. When he got out, he dried himself with a towel and faced the mirror.

He didn’t remember the last time he’d woken up this sad. He didn’t remember the last time he’d even let himself be sad. He had forgotten what to do with the emotion, he’d gotten used to brushing the feeling off before it became something tangible. Anne-Marie would truly be disappointed.

He remembered one of the things one of his professors at uni always used to say, that stillness and peace meant that things were stuck, and that real change came from chaos. Peace was an illusion, a way to convince ourselves that growth and learning came by its own, but the only way to truly revolutionize things was through taking our very chores to the ground.

Alec had completely agreed with that, but he had never associated that with himself. He thought that the peacefulness of his life had to do with age or with his personality. He had told himself many, many times that maybe that was just who he was. The he never reached for something more because he wasn’t like “that.” He was “just Alec.” He would stay in New York and go to university and live off his career and maybe travel a little. Maybe fall in love, just if it happened.

But that was the thing, he was letting life happen to him instead of seeking more things to live for. Well, he loved criminology and was excited for the future. Or he told himself so. But if he did, why had he taken a gap year? What didn’t he take it sooner and wait for a bit before studying again? Was he pushing things further? Was he afraid of what was to come?

 Alec turned his face away from the mirror. Truth was flooding his body like acid. He didn’t want to feel like that. Not right there. Not at his age. He thought he was in control but he had never had control to begin with. He couldn’t stand it.

He put on the first things he found, grabbed his keys and went out the door.

 

Alec had always had the problem of thinking that he had to carry the world upon his shoulders. Ever since he was a little kid, he thought that everyone’s comfort and happiness was his responsibility. If his mom or his siblings weren’t happy, he would do everything in his power to change that somehow. If Izzy and his mom had a misunderstanding, Alec would dissipate the blame to himself to deal instead. He thought it was the right thing to do. As the elder sibling. As the man of the house.

Obviously, toxic masculinity had played its hand. His father had inflicted that upon him very deeply. Since the very beginning he was told that if he wasn’t the stone for his family to lean on, then he was a failure. He’d fail as a son, he would fail as a brother, he would fail as a man, and he would fail as a human.

Taking that responsibility had made Alec feel incredibly lonely on his teenage years. He felt like he had no one to lean on, no one to ask for advice. No one to tell him he didn’t have to be strong all of the time. So the moments when he felt like his emotions were too much, like they would not let him breathe, he would go to his secret spot at Forest Park.

He discovered the spot when he was about thirteen, and ever since then, he would go there when he needed time to collect his thoughts.

He stopped going there as much when he started making more friends at school. He knew that his new friends had saved him, but he still carried that weight deep down on his chest. No matter how close he got to these people, he never seemed to truly and completely let himself talk about himself.

That changed when he met Magnus.

Magnus broke many barriers in Alec’s life. He showed him what vulnerability looked like. That it didn’t make you less of a man. It didn’t make you less of a human.

He helped tear apart many toxic daggers Robert had buried deep in Alec’s being. And Alec had learned to start talking.

Magnus was the only person who Alec had taken to his secret spot, where they would later spend hours talking, crying, laughing. They got to know each other wholesomely and truthfully between the trees and soft breeze. Those were some of Alec’s happiest memories.

Vulnerability is something people are taught to avoid at all costs, especially if you are socialized as a man. You are taught that breaking character, showing your feelings or even admitting that you’re feeling is wrong, outrageous. Nobody can see you break. Because, who are you, what are you, if you break? What are you if you feel? What is the cost of feeling, of being seen?

Alec had though he was over that, that he was way beyond being afraid of being vulnerable. But he was wrong. He was still hiding.

Every choice he had made had come out fear.

And how heart wrenchingly disappointing it was to come to that conclusion. It weighed him down. It was too much, too much, too much. He had just wanted to do the right thing.

He needed to change things, but he didn’t know where to begin. It was like he had suddenly been covered in cold water. Like he had just been caught sleep walking. He felt like a stray dog.

Was all the path he had been tracing wrong? What was he supposed to do from then on?

His thoughts continued to chase him down as he made his way through Forest Park.

If things hadn’t been as hectic and preposterous as they were, maybe he would have been surprised, as he approached his spot by a meadow, to see a very familiar silhouette.

The man turned his face a little alarmed when Alec approached him, but softened his features as he saw how Alec sat next to him by the willow.

They both sat there in silence for a while. There was very little noise around. The birds sang and the wind whispered through the trees’ branches. Alec smiled at the contradiction of the situation. He was feeling like chaos, while the world was at peace.

“It still smells the same.”

“Like a Sufjan Stevens song.”

Alec looked at Magnus and laughed heavily, despite himself. “Why does that even make sense?”

“Because he’s that gifted.” Magnus laughed, as well, despite himself.

Alec observed the scenery. It was funny, sitting by the same tree, at the same spot, under such a nice weather... it was like time had not passed at all. Like in there they were in an eternal loop that was past, present, future. They were their seventeen year old selves and they weren’t. They were their late twenty year old selves and they weren’t. They were just them, floating in space, in the wind, palpitating through the cortex of the willow. Flickering through the wings of the birds.

He didn’t know if he was having an astral moment or if he was finally losing it. He didn’t mind either options at that point.

Alec realized Magnus was observing him, and shifted a little uncomfortably. “I hadn’t come here in about ten years.”

Magnus thought for a bit before speaking. “Back in England, close to the place I lived, there was a very similar spot to this one. It was near a hill. Every time I went there I felt like I was cameoing in The Lord of The Ring. It looked taken out of a fantasy novel.” Alec saw as Magnus’ fingers played with the grass beneath him and realized Magnus was wearing regular black pants, a dark blue button up and just a tiny amount of makeup. Nothing compared to how he had seen him the past few days. He looked very young. He looked like a stranger. “I found that place only after a few days I had moved. I was still waiting for some of my stuff to get there from Amsterdam, but I had basically moved to forgotten town near London that wasn’t very easy to get to even through car or bus.”

Alec scoffed and Magnus continued “Yes. I know, me moving to a rural place in London near green hills and the forest and such.” He looked ahead, a little lost on his thoughts. “Doesn’t sound like Magnus Bane, right?” He said, a little bitter.

“Anyway, I didn’t know the land very well, so I decided to go and explore. After a while I got to that spot. Of course, there was a beautiful willow. I couldn’t help but smile to myself. It was nice to find a piece of home in such a foreign place.

“I started going there with a book, or something to write on, draw on. Then I started going there just myself. Soon I realized the harshness of facing yourself.” He looked right at Alec. “Facing your own thoughts, facing your own nature. Realizing your worst fears. Realizing you didn’t know yourself at all.”

Alec felt uneasy. He knew that the only person he could talk about this was Magnus, but at the same time, he didn’t want to be talking about this with him. At least not in that moment. He wanted to remain quiet, but instead he said, “Why did you not come back?”

Magnus looked as though he had been waiting for that question to come up. He managed to pull the faintest smile. “I don’t know where to begin.”

Alec focused on his breathing. One part of him was asking him why the hell it mattered, it had been years. Magnus was nothing to him now. But at the same time, his vulnerable side begged him for answers. Begged him for closure. “Anywhere. Just- I need to know.”

Magnus took in a deep breath and looked at Alec. Looked at him like he was trying to find the old one in him. Alec was feeling so raw and open that he cringed at the sight of Magnus’ eyes finding what he was looking for.

“I thought it would be the best for both of us. I thought I would be holding you back. I thought I was holding you back. I- I was very naïve and proud. I thought I knew what I wanted when I decided to go to Amsterdam, but when I got there everything was hell. The environment was individualistic, the competitiveness was awful, but I was too proud to admit that.

“I started feeling super guilty for being away. For leaving my mom, for leaving Luke and Clary, for leaving you.  I was also… depressed, but I didn’t want to admit that. Anyone would have killed for an opportunity like mine. Guilt was eating me up inside. And I started to withdraw.  

“I kept on repeating to myself that you didn’t deserve to deal with me. I know, I was deciding for you. That’s wrong. But I also felt you detach as well, and I knew you deserved more.” Alec started caressing the tree’s cortex, as though it would ground him. As though it would help him keep his shit together. “That’s when I told you that we needed to talk.”

“And that you wouldn’t go back for the holidays.”

“If I did, I would have never returned. And at that point I don’t know which decision would have ruined me more.” Magnus said, truthfully.

Alec felt heavy. The air was suddenly heavy. Everything was heavy.

“But why did you never call again?” He said slowly.

Magnus smiled sadly to the sky. “Because you told me not to.”

Alec stopped, mind going backwards. Fine. Don’t talk. But don’t contact me anymore. He laughed bitterly and pressed his head against the soft wood.

“It’s stupid.” Magnus said still looking towards the sky. “But I felt like that was the only way I could honour you in the end. By staying out of your lane. By letting you live a life that wasn’t poisoned by me.”

He looked at Alec and held his gaze. “We love teen angst.”

That’s when they both exploded in laughter.

Alec pressed his hands to his stomach and leaned against the tree again. “That’s the single emoest thing I have ever heard. And I’m me.”

“What do you expect? I wear eyeliner.”

They kept on laughing and the sound echoed through the trees. It was beautiful how such earnest sounds could make the forest feel a bit more alive than before.

They both gazed through the forest for a bit. They had laughed, but they both knew how important this conversation was.

Magnus looked back at him, his expression unreadable. “You stopped talking. For a month.”

Alec blushed a little. It was strange to discuss that, it was something that had just resurfaced after years of burying it down. “Don’t feel too bad. You just triggered a problem that had been building up for years.”

Alec sighed. He realized it was his turn to talk, and no matter how hard it was becoming, he really, desperately wanted to do it.

 “You know how when we were younger I had a lot of trouble with opening up. And well, I got better. I started talking, I opened myself up to be more vulnerable around people.”

He played with the grass underneath him, unconsciously imitating what Magnus had been doing before. “But, deep down, I was still incredibly afraid. And this is something I’m realizing just now. I was always fucking scared. I had just built this façade of nonchalance.

“I remember the day I told you how I felt about you. Ah, I was terrified, but I still pushed myself to do it. I think I had gotten the hang of it, you know? The hang of just throwing myself into things and numbing the nerves. Anyway, we got together and deep down I feared that we wouldn’t last. That we would never be happy apart or some shit. But I never let you know. I pushed the fear way down.

“But what we push down, eventually comes up again stronger than ever. And in my case, it did when you started drifting away. Being less attentive. My insecurity intensified, and as a way of shielding myself, I detached as well.” He smiled and shook his head. “It was a childish game, we cared so much that we pushed each other away.

“Anyway, we broke up. It sucked. Big time. I was under huge stress at uni, at work, at home, I wasn’t seeing Izzy as often and I just… collapsed. I couldn’t deal with anything. I couldn’t deal with myself, so I looked for help. Long story short, western medicine disappointed me.” That drew a smile on Magnus’ face, which may have been something Alec may have been looking for.

“Luke referred me to this natural therapist, Anne-Marie. She practically saved my life. Taught me how to care of myself, of the world. She taught me to talk about me again. She gave me a lot of emotional tools that did wonders for the rest of my adult life so far.” Alec sighed, and looked up at the leaves of the willow. “Through the years I’ve lost my way again. Fear still rules me, blinds me. I still suck at being…”

“Vulnerable?” Magnus smiled at him.

“Yeah,” Alec smiled back. “Vulnerable.”

They both sat there, staring at the branches, at the leaves. Listening to the wind.

“It’s what you said. Facing yourself is the hardest thing to endure.”

“It is,” agreed Magnus “but it’s life changing. Without conflict there’s no change.”

Alec smiled at himself. Magnus looked at him.

“Alexan- Alec.”

“Magnus.”

“One of the things that I have learned while facing myself is that I don’t want to regret anything, but if you don’t agree I won’t push further.” Magnus smiled, “I really want you to be in my life.”

They were strangers. The more time they spent together, the more Alec realized that they barely knew each other now. But also, the more time they spent together, the more Alec realized how much he needed to know him.

They would never be like they used to, but Alec’s entire world wasn’t like it used to now. Everything was upside down and everything hurt, but maybe, it was about time to endure shit, appreciate change. And if Alec was being honest, he would never let slide the slightest chance of having Magnus back in his life. And at that moment, he really needed a friend.

It was stupid, it was reckless, it was jumping into the unknown, but Alec was finally letting himself be vulnerable.

Chapter Text

Turns out vulnerability is not something actually easy to learn and achieve. Alec felt the most sensitive he had felt in many, many years. It was like he was a walking open wound. Everything affected him more than he wanted to admit.

Even if the years had passed, it still hadn’t become easy for Alec to ask for help. To open up. Especially since he managed to wear his golden boy mask for so long. It wasn’t exactly easy to admit to others that it had all been a wall to protect himself.

It was hard to admit that he was 26 and he was lost. He didn’t think he actually knew himself anymore. He wasn’t sure of anything now. At least, most of the things.

Because, thankfully, he knew the next step he had to take then.

He pulled over Izzy’s car by the entrance of the house. When Alec stepped out, he realized that nothing had exactly changed around the house. It had more flowers and plants, even. He had had this fear that he would arrive and find the house all gray and torn apart. That the owner would have moved away years ago, leaving Alec nothing but a place with broken windows and doors waiting for him.

He didn’t realize he was so nervous until he knocked at the door.

After a few minutes, a woman opened the door and tried to look who at who had knocked while protecting her eyes from the evening sun.

“Good evening?”

“Uh. Anne-Marie?” Alec surprised himself at the hesitation of his voice. He tried to not let it bother him to realize that maybe she didn’t remember him. It had been about six years after all.

But then her eyes grew wide.

“Alec? Alec Lightwood?”

Alec couldn’t help the wide smile that appeared on his face and the relief he felt as the older lady opened her arms to hug him.

After stepping away, she took a flier out of her pocket and hit Alec’s arm with it once with no real heat. “It took you long enough.”

“I- I’m so sorry. I-” Anne-Marie just smiled at him and rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, yeah. Come inside, honey. Let me make you a cup of tea.”

He smiled easily and entered the house that had changed him so many years ago. On the outside it seemed like nothing had really changed, but when he went inside there were many things that weren’t there the last time he had visited. There were more paintings of people, of places. There were photos of flowers and animals. The sofas were covered by colorful wool patterns and the walls that had been white before were now a beautiful lavender. Alec sat by the tea table that was exactly where it used to be seven years ago and contemplated his surroundings. Everything there brought him peace.

When Anne-Marie came back with their tea, she saw Alec looking at one of the photos.

“It’s a bonobo. Incredibly beautiful and smart creature.” She said as she placed Alec’s green tea in front of him.

Alec regarded it carefully and looked at Anne-Marie with surprise. “… You took it.”

“I did.” She put her own cup on the table and sat next to Alec. “I did some travelling a few years ago. You know I love what I do but one gets a bit lonely even with your plants to keep you company.”

Alec smiled at her in sympathy. He remembered her always being focused on what she did and always living for what she did. She never mentioned any partner or plan. Reminded him of someone.

“How long ago?”

“It was about five years ago. I wasn’t really having a nice time so I made my bags, called my neighbors to take care of the house and bought a ticket to Perú.” She grabbed one of the pictures on one of the tables. “Met my beautiful Andrea there.”

Alec’s eyebrows drew back as he saw in the picture Anne-Marie holding hands with a beautiful woman. He then realized that she was wearing a stunning silver ring on her left hand.

“You got married!? God, Anne-Marie, congratulations!” He said with infinite joy. He was incredibly happy to know the person who had taken him out of his shell a few years back had received the happiness she deserved.

“Well, thank you, Alec.” She said with genuine happiness. “I went looking for a little change, I didn’t know my whole world would turn around.”

“Is she here?” Alec asked looking around.

“She’s at work right now. She’s a vet.” Anne-Marie said with real glow in her eyes that just made Alec’s heart grow on his chest. “But enough about me. Tell me about you!”

“Anne-Marie, I really am sorry I never came to visit.” She drew a hand up to show it wasn’t a big deal but he continued. “Really. At least once every few months would have been decent.”

“It’s okay, my dear. When one is young you get caught up in life and suddenly the years pass by without us even realizing.”

“I just don’t want you to think that what you did for me was meaningless.”

“Seeing you go back to life with strength and determination was enough for me to realize that it did mean something, Alec.” She said earnestly. “It meant everything.”

He smiled at her at that.

“Now, tell me how you have been.”

“Well, I graduated from the sociology program.”

“With honours, I suppose.” She said with a knowing look.

“Uh, yeah.” He rolled his eyes. She smiled proudly at him. “After that, I did my masters on Criminology. I actually ended the program a few weeks ago.”

“I’m proud of you, Alec. I always knew you would achieve great things.” She raised one of her eyebrows and smiled. “I asked you, though, how have you been.”

Alec smiled dimly at the floor. “You did. I guess this is exactly why I’m here.”

“You’re stuck, huh?”

“I- uh. Yes, I am.” He took a sip of his tea and sighed heavily. “I thought this was the life that I wanted, you know? I worked my ass off to get it. I wanted to finish my career, finish my masters, stay in New York and do something in my field. But, I’ve recently done everything to avoid, well, everything.

“I was in a relationship a few years ago, and he wanted to travel the world with me, but I chickened out and decided to stay. Focus on my plan. It made sense you know, and I’m glad I didn’t leave, but the “what ifs” are always there at the corner of my mind.

“The more I think about this plan I have for my life, the less sense it makes. It feels like it’s just me running away from something. Running away from what I actually want, but I can’t make myself figure out what it is. And I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about it. I’m back at my old job at the book store, I fill my time with everything I can.

“My sister Izzy is getting married in about two months and I’m incredibly happy for her. But the wedding makes me think of things I don’t want to think about. And I don’t know why I can’t make myself go through those thoughts and sort them out to finally figure out what to do with them, you know, like when you do research. It’s like my brain shuts down when I try to.

“Also, Magnus is back. He came back for the wedding and that… I don’t know. I think that’s what triggered all this existential crisis I’m having right now. We talked, we sorted some things out and we’re gonna try to be friends but I still feel this… hole in my chest. Anne-Marie, I feel this literal hole in my chest all the time and I don’t know what to do.”

By the time Alec stopped talking, he’s struggling to keep his tears from falling.

Anne-Marie put her hand on his shoulder. “Speaking about things is one of the biggest ways to heal, Alec. But you have to know that when we speak we open ourselves up to the universe and then we are exposed to everything. We are exposed to being hurt, we are exposed to being disappointed. But we are also exposed to being comforted, to being understood.

“Yes, vulnerability enables other people to manipulate us, to damage us. But it also allows us to live the lives we are actually meant to live. To feel the feelings we are actually meant to feel.”

Alec looked up at her through tears and she held his hand.

“Alec, it’s okay not to love what you once loved before. It’s okay not to want to do what you thought you loved before. It’s okay to have been wrong. I feel like you have been beating yourself up for every decision you have made that you knew didn’t feel right,” she pointed at his chest “in here.”

“You feel like you have to carry every wrong decision you have ever made over your shoulders, but Alec, you are allowed to change your mind. No one’s gonna judge you for it, and if they do, fuck them, to be honest.”

Alec couldn’t help but laugh at her cursing. She smiled at him.

“A few years ago we tried working on your past, and how it had shaped you into who you are. And we succeeded then. But things aren’t linear. Sometimes feelings are a loop, and we have to go through things, two, three, a thousand times before we finally learn the lesson we are meant to learn.

“And Alec, sweetie, it doesn’t make you a failure. It doesn’t make you anything your father inflicted upon you. It makes you fucking human.”

He was quiet, staring at the tea he still had on his cup, Anne-Marie’s hand on his rooting him to the moment.

After a while, she spoke again. “I know you feel lost, Alec. Lonely. But you acknowledging those feelings is everything. It means you’re ready to change.”

He left Anne-Marie’s after a few more tea cups and biscuits. She said she would be delighted to have him under her wing again.

After starting the car, he drove for a few streets before stopping on the side. Alec felt his shoulders shaking and he allowed himself to cry, to really cry after a very long time.

 

 

Healing is a strong word. It contains a lot of meaning. When you hear it you may picture a wound in your head, eventually turning into a scar, and if you’re lucky, into new skin. Maybe you picture a dead plant, which then it gets watered and taken care of until it’s green and tall and beautiful. Maybe you picture a person, maybe a person with a broken heart. You see them on their bed, clenching at their chest, praying for the pain to go away. Eventually the person starts getting out of bed more often. They put the TV on, they watch some Netflix. They even laugh a few times watching their favorite comedy show. Then they return to bed for a few days, cry with some sappy movies. After that, they put on some nice music and get dressed to go outside. The may get to the door and decide not to go in the end but at least they got to the door. They made the effort. Or maybe you picture another person drawing, or singing or writing. Maybe you picture someone hugging their mom, or their sibling. Maybe you picture a person hugging their dog or petting their cat. Maybe you picture a person holding themselves together, because they have no one else.

Healing is strange, and it’s different for everybody. There’s not really a formula to it. And maybe that’s what makes it so hard. It’s trial and error. It’s trying to rise from the ground knowing that there’s a chance that you may fall again. But it’s all about the effort, even the minimum amount, that you put each day into your healing. It’s not linear, it’s a rollercoaster. And you will probably not realize the ride it’s been until you’re at the end, ready to hop onto the next thing life has for you.

Alec had taken a day off from the book store after Luke insisted for a hundred times. After his visit to Anne-Marie, Alec felt like he was floating through life. He didn’t know where to begin the changes he had to make. Luke saw that and Alec ended up telling him about how he had been feeling. About feeling like he wasn’t on the right track. Like he was just surviving but not living, and that he didn’t know where to even begin. Luke inspected him for a while before giving him a book and sending him off to the park saying “sometimes we need a walk to clear our heads.”

Alec got to the park and sat on a bench, eying the book Luke had given him and smiling when he saw it was another copy of A Hundred Years of Solitude.

He got to read a few pages when he heard a soft steady whistle. It wasn’t any kind of problematic whistle, so Alec continued his reading.

The whistle again. It was probably someone calling for their dog.

But then, somebody whistled again and Alec drew his eyes away from the book and inspected the park around him.

He laughed when he saw the man a few benches away. He moved his arm to say hello in an ironically enthusiastic manner. Alec did the same. Alec saw that he was also reading something. Alec chuckled a little and pointed at his own book. Magnus, holding a book with the same title, did an overly dramatic double check on his own book and put a hand on his chest. Alec rolled his eyes, stood up and walked over the other bench.

“Having a nice time with the Buendia’s?”

Magnus pointed at the side of the bench for Alec to sit. “Especially with Jose Arcadio.”

Alec sat next to him. “Which one?”

“You’re gonna make me mess up the generations in my head.”

“I always liked Mauricio more, myself.”               

“Ah, so that’s why you have all those yellow butterflies following you around.”

Alec found himself chuckling again and Magnus smiled at him.

“Thought you’d have work today.” Magnus said while checking his copy of the book. Alec raised an eyebrow.

“Decided to take a day off.” Magnus nodded with knowing eyes, but decided not to push it. “What about you? What brings you to my park?”

Magnus laughed. “Well, mister Central. It’s nice out here, and the house was a bit lonely without Clary and Luke. Plus, later I have to go check some stores that can help with the flowers for the wedding.”

“Oh. Have you found anything nice?”

“Yeah, Maia and I actually found this place that can actually plant the flowers on your mom’s garden. That way they won’t have to throw them away after the wedding.”

“That’s actually really great. Mom will love that.”

“Yeah, we figured. And the flowers are really beautiful. You can tell they are people who know how to take care of them as living things.”

“I’m excited to see how the house ends up looking.”

“Just a month and a few weeks away. I’ll try my best to make it look perfect.”

“I know you will.” Alec said before he could stop himself. Magnus looked up at him.

“Wanna come along?” Magnus asked. “I was told you know a few things about flowers.”

“Just a few things.” Alec smiled thinking about Anne-Marie’s garden. “If you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t.” Magnus said, putting the book on a bag he was carrying. “Just a sec.”

He said and whistled again. The whistle was different, not like the one used to call Alec’s attention. He was thinking about the necessity of whistles when a beautiful husky ran towards Magnus and jumped to lick his face.

“You have a dog?!” Alec said basically running to it. The husky turned around and threw itself at Alec who went to his knees to pet it. “Hellooo, you. You look like such a good…?”

“Girl. And yes, she is a good girl.” Magnus said with a big smile.

“Ah, yes. The best girl.” He rubbed his hand against her tummy as she turned around.

“Her name’s Jule, and I think she likes you.”

Alec turned to him and saw the smile Magnus was giving him. He felt like crying for a reason he couldn’t really decipher. He pet her one last time and stoop up slowly.

“Alexan… Alec, are you okay?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. It’s just…” He sat again on the bench, Jule following him there. “It’s just been a few rough couple of days. I went to see Anne-Marie, the woman I told you about.”

“How did it go?” Magnus asked, carefully sitting next to him, as if to not scare him away.

“She told me things that I really needed to hear.” He laughed. “I hated to hear them, but I needed them so much. It’s like you said the other day, about facing yourself…”

“Yeah, it’s the hardest thing.”

Alec stared at the ground for a while. “I just feel a little lost, you know?”

Magnus sighed. “Yeah, I think I know.” Alec looked at him. “Back in Europe, I abandoned everything. I had a breakdown when I was on a company in France and took all of my things and left. Took the next train to England.”

“I love how everybody just travels after breakdowns.” Alec whispered to himself but nodded to Magnus to keep going.

“I always thought my thing was to be an actor. I had made all my plans, I had left my life here. The people I loved.” He shifted a little on the bench. “And maybe I was good, but I realized the stage I was supposed to be in was a whole different one.”

Alec smiled. “You started teaching.”

“I had no idea what the hell I was doing at first. I took classes, pedagogy is a serious matter, but it still intimidated me. Even more than acting in front of thousands of people. But when I did it, I knew it was meant for me. Inspiring young people to express themselves through art… that’s something that nurtures your soul.”

Magnus’ eyes shined with love while describing that. Alec felt something on his chest that he didn’t know how to classify.

They stood up and walked to the flower shops, laughing and playing with Jule on the way. Alec felt at ease, like he was getting to know this whole new, exciting person, while also feeling like they were both 16 again, laughing at everything and wanting to conquer the world. He hadn’t felt like that in a long time.

Seeing Magnus grin with that beautiful boyish smile of his made him feel like he could do literally anything. The way he talked to him, swayed his shoulders, and spoke so passionately, made Alec want to do everything in his power to keep on hearing him, seeing him. Make the effort to draw another smile on that face, to make him laugh one more time. And what a scary thing that was.

When they were leaving one of the shops, Alec brushed his shoulder against Magnus’. “Hey, Magnus?”

“Yeah?”

“How do you know when something is right for you?”

Magnus thought for a while before a little smile appeared on his face.

“Even after it gets though and everything is telling you to quit,” He turned around and walked backwards facing Alec with an eyebrow raised and a crooked smile. “You’re always all for effort.”

Chapter Text

Days, weeks passed, and the day of the wedding was just around the corner. Alec started feeling a little better, a little more like himself. At the beginning, he looked in the mirror and still felt hollow, but the feeling started dissipating with time. He started to wake up every morning at 6 am, then went on a run around the park, got home, took a shower, went off to work and had lunch with Clary and Luke. After that he would visit Maryse and spend a few hours his family, playing games or just chatting about everything and nothing. On the weekends, he would visit Anne-Marie for tea and chat. He got to meet Andrea and got absolutely convinced that fate existed, because the two of them were perfect for each other. Alec didn’t want to seem like a burden to Anne-Marie, since she insisted for him not to pay for the therapy sessions and flower lessons because he was an old friend, so they arranged that Alec would bring sweets and cakes in return.

Some evenings he would meet Magnus at the park to walk Jule for a while. At least a few times a week, when none of them were busy. There were a few weeks where Magnus travelled to visit his mother, and Alec offered to baby sit Jule. On their walks, they talked about life and joked about ridiculous things that had happened during the day.

Alec was very aware of the way he felt when he was around Magnus. When he had just come back, Alec knew that the person he had in front of him wasn’t the same man he had known. Therefore, he wasn’t really sure if they would even get along the way they used to again. And he was right. It wasn’t like they used to, it was, somehow, better. They had both grown apart in many, different ways and were both even more different than they used to be when they were younger. However, they met and converged in crucial parts. They shared the same beliefs and values about the world and experienced life very similarly. That bond that they had shared all those years back wasn’t the same, but it was a new kind of beautiful. Alec felt seen and known when he was around Magnus. And despite how much he had changed and continued to do so, Magnus gave him the space to keep on growing. He made him laugh and challenged him to know the deeper parts of him.

Yes. Alec was well aware of the way he felt.

They didn’t talk much about the future, since Magnus knew that Alec still felt pretty unsure about it. But Magnus had mentioned that he wanted to keep on travelling after the wedding before he got back to teaching.

Alec suddenly realized that he was in the same situation he used to be seven years ago. He was falling in love with a close friend. A close friend who was, essentially, leaving very soon.

It was like the universe was playing a joke on him.

Every time things started making more sense to him, everything lead to the idea that it wouldn’t happen. When he told Magnus how he felt, he had to leave. When they tried to be together, they couldn’t handle it. When he met someone else, it wasn’t meant. He had studied years and years the career that he always wanted to study and it all felt like it didn’t matter. He had given all his years to his family and friends and he still felt like he lived with a hole on his chest.

The universe kept sending him all these messages, telling him that something was coming and that, if he missed his chance, it would all go away in a second.

He had a choice to make, and this time, it would have to make a difference.

 

The wedding day was finally here.

The days that led up to it were completely insane, no matter how small the wedding was. It didn’t help that every single member of the Lightwood family had to double, even triple, check that everything was working the way that it was supposed to be working. Luckily, for them, all the people they had hired ended up being super professional about their work.

The weeks before they had all been part of the gardening arrangements in the house. Magnus had a clear idea of what he wanted, and decided to wait to add the final touches for the wedding day to surprise both Izzy and Maia. That was why Alec had barely seen Magnus for about a week before the wedding. It didn’t help that he also had tons of work to do arranging everything with Timmy’s service line and the vegan places he had acquired the food from.

First thing in the morning, he went to pick up the wedding cake with Max’s car. It was absolutely stunning and knew that he would have to stay away from it all night as to not eat the whole thing by himself. He made a quick stop to pick up his suit and Simon before he went to Maryse’s.

When they got there, they saw the absolute mess that entailed a wedding day to be like. Simon and Alec looked at each other before stepping out of the car into the chaos. There were cars and people everywhere, moving, running. It was already full of people and the guests weren’t even there yet. Maryse opened the door for them while she held her phone with her shoulder and held a notepad with the other. Alec quickly gave her a kiss in the cheek and moved along to the kitchen so he could set the cake there. In there were Luke and Jace talking and helping arrange the meals for the day.

“Thank god you’re here.” Said Jace while grabbing Simon by the arm. “I need your help with the music and the wires and the music wires thingies while Luke gets changed and-“

“Hello to you too, Jace. Nice to see you,” Simon rolled his eyes at Jace while he got dragged to the other room.

“Seems like we’ve got everything handled over here.” Alec joked while he hugged Luke.

“Just another day at the Lightwoods’, isn’t it?”

Alec smiled at him. The last few weeks Luke had helped enormously in everything related to the wedding. Plus, he had started spending much more time with Maryse, which, of course, was something Alec reminded him of every time he got the chance.

“I’m gonna go get changed and help your mother before the guests start arriving. Do you need any help in here?”

“Go.” Alec winked and Luke rolled his eyes. “The kitchen team is already here, I’ll check up on them.”

“Call me if you need anything!” Luke said before disappearing in the mess of the house.

Alec greeted Timmy and the team and helped with whatever they needed before going upstairs to change.

It wasn’t much different than the floor below, Alec squished his way through the stairs and ran into a peculiar red-head.

“Alec, you’re here! Come, take a look,” before he would manage to pronounce any word he was shoved into a room.

“What is it with our generation and the lack of greetings?” Alec said before he turned and looked at a beautiful woman standing beside a wardrobe wearing a stunning wedding dress.

“Hello, big brother.”

Alec was about to cry. Izzy looked absolutely dashing. She was practically glowing. She was wearing her hair in a long, complicated braid that Alec had no idea was humanly possible to make. Instead of being white, her wedding dress was a beautiful tone of gold that made her stand out like the shiniest star. She looked like a forest goddess, and damn right, she was.

“Alec, are you crying?”

He came closer and hugged her. “I’m sorry, I’m just- It’s just that I’ve always wanted to see you look this happy. It’s really what you have always deserved, Izzy.”

“Oh, Alec. I really am happy.” She shook her head. “I can’t believe this day is actually happening.”

“I’m really fucking proud of you.”

“And that means the world to me.” She grabbed hands. “I love you, Alec. No, I really mean it. You knew it wasn’t easy for me when dad left. And I know it mustn’t have been easy for you either, but you were always there by my side. You practically raised me. Mom was depressed and focused on her work… I don’t blame her. You know I don’t. Especially seeing how much she’s changed.

The thing is, you could have chosen to do your own thing as well, you know? To focus on your own pain, your own path. But you decided to be the figure dad wasn’t for me, for Jace and for Max. You never, ever made it seem like there was anything wrong with me, you know, for not being the typical girl, for liking women… You normalized my feelings. I wasn’t strange to you and, therefore, I didn’t care what the world said about me.”

“Because there has never been anything wrong with you.”

“Because that’s what you showed me, and that’s what you showed Max and Jace and that’s what you show everyone you know and love. Fuck, I’m going to ruin my makeup. The thing is, I know you’re my best man but I want you to walk me down the aisle.”

Alec was speechless. “Izzy, I- I think that mom…”

“She understands. Alec, I don’t think you realize what you mean to people. Now, let me have this on the best day of my life so far.”

Alec nodded, still a little clumsy from what Izzy had told him. “Of course, anything. I love you, idiot. Is it a thing to make people cry on your wedding day?”

“Actually I think it is.” They hugged. “Now, go change. You have a wedding to attend.”

He chuckled and hurried to his bedroom. He took the tuxedo that Izzy and Maia had picked for him a few weeks before and put it on. Then, he looked into the mirror of his bedroom’s bathroom.

“To new beginnings, I guess.” He said and took his razor.

 

Izzy held his arm tightly like a hawk. Alec could feel that she was trying really hard to make it seem like she wasn’t shaking, but her lips would betray her at times. Maryse approached the both of them with tears in her eyes, kissed them both in the cheek and gave Izzy her flower bucket before going to her sit in the garden.

“Hey, Alec?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s okay for you to be happy as well, whatever that means for you.”

The music started playing, which meant that Maia had started to make her way down the aisle, meaning that it would soon be Izzy’s time. Izzy looked at Alec with disbelief and he smiled at her.

“Ready?”

“I’ve never been more ready.”

They started walking towards the garden and, as soon as they turned towards the aisle, Alec felt Izzy’s grip loosen completely. And the reason was right in front of them. Maia was there, at the front, completely stunning, wearing an insanely beautiful silver dress, looking directly at Izzy who looked at her back as though they were the only ones in the world. The smiles on their faces gave away the complete adoration they had for one another. Alec was in awe of the moment and, for a second, couldn’t wait to have that with someone someday.

When they reached the end, the hugged each other, once again, gave each other a knowingly look. This was right.

He took his place by his sister.

The ceremony properly started and Alec let his eyes wander through the guests. He quickly spotted his mother and Luke, who smiled at him in return. After them were a few friends of Maia’s and family as well. He recognized a lot of people from high school, which surprised him a little bit. After that he saw Max, Clary, Simon and Jace sitting next to the band who was playing The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice.

I can’t take my eyes off of you.  

He then looked besides him to the other side of the aisle. Of course. He was Maia’s best man.  

I can’t take my eyes off of you.  

He was wearing a dark purple velvet tuxedo with a black shirt underneath. His hair had a strike of red and was wearing dark-ish eye makeup that, Alec thought, was called smokey eye. He looked beautiful.

I can’t take my eyes off of you.  

He wasn’t prepared for the surprising sensation that seeing him there so suddenly would do to him. Magnus had already been looking at him and smiled with that half smile of his.

I can’t take my eyes off of you.  

I can’t take my eyes off of you.  

“You can now say your vows.”

Maia took Izzy’s hands into hers and intertwined their fingers. “When I was a kid, I was obsessed with sea turtles. I lived close to a beach, so I would often sneak out early in the morning to see if it was already time for turtles to come set their eggs on land. One morning, I watched from my window a bale of turtles make their way into the ocean. My family was home, so I couldn’t go any closer.

"I saw how one of the hatchling stumbled and fell backwards. I had read enough by then to know that it would die like that. I begged my father to go save it but he told me that that was life and I had to suck it up. That in nature only the stronger survived and those who couldn’t adapt, perished.

"I cried for days but I learned my lesson. Many things were wrong around that time in my life, but I had been taught that it was “normal” for things to be that way. That life had to be hard. That I had to suffer and never complain. You showed me differently.

"When we met, I pushed you away because you were so insistent on knowing me and I didn’t know why. You asked questions. You called me out. You were there for me. There were awful times. I was on my back, on my shell. And you came to me and helped me, once, twice, thrice. Always. You showed me what partnership and companionship meant. You challenge me every single day and now I know that, in me, I have everything I need.

"You are the most beautiful person I have ever met, Isabelle Lightwood. And not only on the outside. You inspire me and, god, I am crazy about you. We are science people, and everything we do is based on facts and objectivism, but, my love, if there are other universes and alternate realities, I would choose you a hundred times over.”

Alec couldn’t see Izzy’s face from where he was standing, but he knew she might have been crying because pretty much everyone attending was. Magnus was struggling with his own tears as he pressed his fingers against his nose bridge.

He had never really given wedding vows that much thought. Maybe some cynical part of him before had thought that it was the in real life version of anniversary Instagram posts where it could be the single instance where you would tell your partner all these sweet things. However, he had been wrong. Maia had just decided to be incredibly vulnerable in front of the most important people in her and Izzy’s life. In that tale there were inside jokes, childhood memories and stories we will never get but now have little insight of. And that was absolutely beautiful.

“When we were in 11th grade you decided to take me to the beach. We had been best friends for a few years but I didn’t really know much about your past. So, we decided to skip school that day. Sorry, mom.” The guests laughed. Maryse rolled her eyes. “The guy I had dated before had spread some rumours about me and you wanted to make me feel better. It was this or you would have punched him in the face with Magnus cheering you on.

"I also knew you hadn’t been back there in a long time. We took the train and arrived there at like 11 a.m. We swam and laid on the sand. You told me about your little adventures there when you were younger. How you used to try and save the little crabs and fishes when they got stuck on land. How you would sit and wait for something to come from the ocean and take you with them because you felt like you didn’t belong in here.

"I remember thinking about how beautiful you looked, and that confused me for a second before thinking “ah, of course.” Because, Maia, how could I not fall in love with you? You’re smart, resilient and you care about the people around you with all your heart. I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be the person you’d let into your life, to see your world.

"You take me for who I am and you like it. When you see I’m giving up, you challenge me and make me get back up again. I wouldn’t choose anyone else to spend this batshit crazy life with. You are my partner in every sense of the word and I can’t wait for the rest of our lives together.”

Something started aching on Alec’s chest. The hole. What did it mean?

He looked at Magnus and found him staring back at him.

After the vows and the “I do’s”, the wedding took its celebratory form. With music, food and lights everywhere. The wedding cake and the vegan brownies were absolute successes. Max had managed to contact Maia’s favorite indie band and they were playing at the wedding.

Alec was drinking wine and sneaking sweets from the table when he saw somebody approach him.

“You could leave some of those for the other guests.” Magnus said grabbing one brownie himself.

“Where’s the fun in that.” He chuckled. “I swear these have some sort of drug in them.”

Magnus gave them a bite. “Oh, shit. I see what you mean.”

“Hey, you really outdid yourself. The garden looks absolutely insane.” The Lightwood garden that night was covered in lights hanging from the bushes and trees. The flowers made it seem as though they were far in the forests rather than in a house’s garden in the New York suburbs. The tables and sits and everything adorning the place had a foresty, faerie-ish theme, which made Maia and Izzy look like the goddesses of the place.

“Why, thank you. I really wanted them to love it.”

Alec looked over to where Maia and Izzy where dancing, completely immersed into one another. “Trust me, they do.”

He turned back to see that Magnus had been looking at him. He shifted a little when realizing he had been caught.

“What?”

“Nothing.” He laughed and drank his wine. Alec just looked at him with fake indignation until Magnus finally gave in. “It’s just, your beard. It’s gone.”

“Oh,” Alec said, touching his face. “Yeah, I had to say goodbye to it. Do I look that bad?”

“What? Of course you don’t.” Magnus said quickly, before turning a little shade of red, which Alec found amusing. “I mean, I’m not gonna lie, the beard looked great on you. It’s just, you look fresher. As though you’ve been rejuvenated.”

“Maybe I have.” Alec looked around. Everyone was having fun and living their lives. He wanted in but didn’t know how to make the first step. “It’s been a very few weird couple of months for me, as you know. But… I don’t know.”

“What?”

Alec turned back to look at him. “When are you leaving?”

“Oh, I- My flight is supposed to leave in two days from now.” Magnus said, adverting his eyes.

Alec felt the pull of the universe. Something, something, something. Something had to be done.

“Do you…” He breathed in and out. He felt 18 again. “Do you wanna dance?”

Magnus looked at him in mild shock for a few seconds, before his gaze softened and he started nodding. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Alec offered his arm, which Magnus grabbed and they made their way to where people were dancing. The band was playing one of their original, upbeat songs, so everyone was going crazy to it. Magnus took Alec’s hand and started going in circles and Alec just followed the movements and tried to keep up with the beat. They met Simon and Clary there and each of them created a dance move which the others followed and that ended up in the strangest dance any of them had ever performed.

After two more upbeat songs like that, the band started playing a slow melody. Alec saw how Maia and Izzy, who had been dancing separately with him and his friends, held each other’s hands and joined again for a slow dance. He saw how Luke went up to Maryse and offered his hand for her to take and led her to the center so they could dance. He saw how a young girl went up to Max and took him to the dance floor.

He almost missed how the man in front of him offered his own hand for the slow dance. Alec didn’t hesitate before taking it and putting it, plus Magnus’ other hand, on his shoulders. He thought he recognized the song.

He looked at Magnus and Magnus was looking back at him, with the lights of the garden reflecting on his beautiful, brown eyes. Something, something.

“I still can’t believe you dance.” Magnus said, softly.

Alec shrugged. “I think I enjoy it.”

“You do?” Magnus chuckled. “That’s good. I’m glad you do. I’ve already told you, but, you’ve changed.”

“In good ways I hope.” Alec smiled and Magnus smiled back.

“I’d say so.”

“You have changed too.”

“I have.”

Alec felt nervous. He felt his body electrified with the energy of the moment. Something had to be done. Something had to be said. The song. He recognized the song.

“Hey, do you know this song?” Alec whispered.

“I don’t think I do.”

“I think it’s about fear. I mean, it has the word fear on its name but… I think it conveys fear perfectly.”

“How come?” Magnus’ touch on Alec’s shoulders was faint, almost too delicate. As though he didn’t want to inflict too much upon the moment or it’d disappear. Alec felt like that as well.

If this was meant for me why does it hurt so much? And if you’re not made for me why did we fall in love?

“Fear of the water. I think the low tuning gives it the perfect “under water” feeling. It’s the like the fear of drowning, of things happening around you and you not being able to control them. Of everything being too much and the only answer would be to- ”

“Let yourself get pulled?”

Alec hummed. “I think so.”

The music surrounded everything and everyone in the garden. Feeling like a pull, like a message. Alec’s heart felt heavy. He knew he needed to do something, he had to do something. But before he could muster anything the song stopped. The moment passed. The band was preparing themselves for a new song, but it was different.

Magnus cleared his throat. “I think I’m going to go.”

“W-why? It’s still early.”

“I think I’m going to visit my mother again before I leave.” Magnus said. “I feel like I have to.”

Alec looked at him, having no idea what to say.

“Goodbye, Alexander.” Magnus held his gaze for a few seconds before turning to say goodbye to the rest of the group.

Alec felt everything go in slow motion. The music was low and the lights were like lightning. He saw Magnus hugging both Izzy and Maia goodbye before making his way into the house. Izzy turned to Alec to tell him something of which the only thing he could make out was “go.”

And so he went.

He ran towards the house which was full of people and movement and went out of the front door into the street but there was no one to be seen. Magnus wasn’t there. He had already left. He had missed his chance.

He made his way back into the house feeling, suddenly, awfully tired. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be and that’s it. Maybe he just needed to move on and let himself get pulled by the stream.

He walked up the stairs and made his way into his old room.

He certainly didn’t expect to run into anyone in there.

Alec jumped. “Holy shit, Magnus. I- thought you’d left.”

Magnus was standing beside the window, holding a toy car Alec’d had since he was five. “I’m sorry. I wanted to use the bathroom before I left and saw this old thing and, I guess… I don’t know. Got caught in memory lane.”

Alec laughed. He looked at the scene right in front of his eyes. He was with his old best friend in his old room where they had shared many, many memories. One of them being the first time he told him he loved him.

“I guess it makes sense.” He said out loud.

Magnus gazed at him questioningly and left the car on top of the night table beside the bed. “What do you mean?”

“Magnus.” Alec walked towards him slowly. “There’s something you need to know and if I don’t say it I think I might regret it for the rest of my life.”

Magnus stood still, watching every move Alec made.

“My whole life it’s been about me trying to please people. I’ve always tried to be everything that was expected of me. The perfect son, the perfect brother. And I enjoyed it. I thought it gave my life meaning. I thought it made me who I am, but it doesn’t.

"I have been feeling this weight, this guilt inside for being unhappy with the life I have. But I’ve tried everything and I can’t help but feel this way. I thought I knew what I needed but I didn’t. I thought I knew what was right for me but I didn’t. But now, I have some sort of insight.

"I want to discover all of it. I want to get to know myself better and I know I can, but there’s something holding me back and that is that I am not honest with myself. So I’m going to put myself on the line here and be as vulnerable as I can.

"Magnus, I like you. I don’t think I ever stopped thinking about you. And even though I knew that there was a high chance we would be like strangers to each other at this point, it’s been quite the opposite. You’re wise and resilient and the most soulful human I have ever met. I thought it was true seven years ago and I still believe it with my whole entire being today.

"And if you feel the same way, I want to be with you. Here, in England, anywhere in the world. I wanna travel with you, I want to see the world with you. And it’s not that I’d adhering myself into your plans, it’d be because I would really fucking want to.

"We have talked about travelling ever since we were 15. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but never gave myself permission to think about. I only discussed it with you. It really is something that I've always wanted to and something that you’ve always wanted to do so, why not do it together? And I’ll figure things out as I go. Minute by minute.”

At this point, Alec was in front of Magnus. Magnus was looking at him with the same uncertain eyes he’d looked at him all those years ago.

“Alexander.” He finally said, after a while. He lifted one of his hands to rest them on Alec’s cheek. Alec closed his eyes and felt like he could breathe again. “Are you fucking kidding me? Everything you’ve said… I feel the same way. I was afraid I’d come back and it would all be different. But here you are, with your spirit as giant as giant as your heart. You’re captivating.”

He raised his other hand to slowly caress Alec’s arm. “Alec. I have been looking all around the world for a place to call home, not realizing it has been you all along.”

Alec raised his own hands to hold Magnus closer, before kissing him like he’d wanted to ever since he first saw him again.

Chapter Text

Sometimes we make plans for our lives. We sketch the idea of what we want for our future. We are told that it’s important that we follow a single path. That we trace it and carefully design it. Depending on what is expected from us. Sometimes we are also told that things, issues may come across that path and we’ll have evaluate how to deal with them. However, we are not told about how, while or after we’ve followed our paths, we might change our minds. We might question everything. We might realize that, even though we wanted something just a few moments ago, it can change. That it is okay for it to change. That it is okay for us to change.

Humans are a complicated specie. We are not machines and, just like other animals, we evolve. We change. We adapt to situations and we learn. Some more than others. Sometimes we have to fall one, twice, a thousand times to learn the lessons we are meant to learn in this life. But we have to allow ourselves to change. It’s the only way we can grow.

However, that is easier said than done. There are many external and internal factors that can hinder our growth. Sometimes we are blinded by these factors, and we think we are living a normal and wholesome life, until something hits. Until something moves our ground. Until something triggers the idea that we are just comfortable. That instead of living, we are just surviving. And what we choose to do after that realization, is what counts.

Alec Lightwood had let himself rely on the idea he had created of a perfect life for himself, not realizing that he wasn’t focusing on himself at all. He wasn’t listening to what he really wanted, to what he really needed. He grew up wanting to do anything to help people, not realizing he had also needed help. But it’s never too late. Sooner than later he realized that it was okay to re discover himself. That he was ready to be completely vulnerable and genuine. And he was thankful for the people around him that encouraged him every step of the way.

 

Alec was sitting at the edge of his bed, excited about all the new things life had prepared for him. He had just arrived to New York about a week before, after living and working in Europe and Asia for a few years. He had learned many languages and met many, many people. He and Magnus stayed in his old bedroom of his mothers’ house meanwhile they resolved everything with moving to their new place. It was a tiny apartment in New York, near the school Magnus would start working at and few blocks away from Alec’s office, where he would start doing natural therapy and keep on working on the novel he was writing.

He was smiling at the window when his fiancé stepped out of the bathroom. It seemed like it was yesterday when he first told him he loved him in that same room. Or when he had asked him to try again, to give it a shot no matter what happened then. Now, four years later, they were as strong as ever. They were partners, they had each other’s backs and encouraged the growth of the other. They had learned how to communicate what they wanted, and they had also learnt how to listen. To really listen. Alec didn’t know how he could have gotten so lucky.  

“What’s cooking good-looking?” Magnus said as he threw himself in bed next to where Alec was sitting.

“Just thinking.” Alec said while Magnus sat down, hugged him from behind and gave him small kisses on his neck. “Mhhm… thinking is over.”

Magnus chuckled. “You’re ridiculous.” He laid his head on Alec’s shoulder. “What were you thinking about?”

Alec rested his own head on Magnus’ and took his hands’ in his. “It’s wild to be back. I thought I would hate it, but it seems… right. You know what I mean?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.” He kissed Alec’s cheek. “You’ve grown a lot. Maybe this place wasn’t what you needed four years ago. But maybe it is now. Maybe it is for me as well.”

“You’ve helped me grow.” Alec turned his head and kissed Magnus sweetly on the lips. “It think it is what we need.”

“Everything is so different, though.” Magnus said.

“I know, going downstairs and having breakfast with Luke and mom is wild. I love it with my life but it’s wild.”

Magnus laughed against Alec’s neck. “And Clary is still living in Prague. I missed seeing her as much as we did when we lived there.”

“I know. I never thought I’d become so close to her.” He thought for a second. “Oh my god and Simon and Jace?!”

“Don’t even get me started on that I’m still surprised. It sort of makes sense, though.”

“I can’t believe that, out of all of us, Max is the only straight one in the family.”

“Your next book should be: Lightwood siblings’ guide book on how to destroy heteronormativity. Also, we should all take a picture, make a family card and send it to Robert. With it and the book signed by all of you.”

“God, he would have a heart attack.” Alec chuckled. “Hey dad, remember when you shamed me for being gay, guess what?! Wow. How wholesome. We would have to drag Maia and Izzy to America first.”

“I think we should take the opportunity to visit them in Brazil.”

“Or when they come back for our wedding.” Alec said and laid on the bed, taking Magnus with him to kiss him. He snuggled close to him and rested his head on his shoulder. “You know, you were right.”

“Well, you know, I’m always right. Stop it. I can see you rolling your eyes from my peripheral view.” He laughed and turned to look at Alec. “What do you mean?”

“That night when we first slept together and we confessed our feelings like the teenagers we were.” He also turned to look at Magnus and caress his face. “You said that no matter what-“

“We would always manage to find each other in the end.” He smiled. “And we were just like this, in this same bed.”

Alec hummed. “Life is funny, in that sense.”

“It is, isn’t it? If you view it that way, it’s almost like everything that happened was meant to happen.”

“I think so too, if you hadn’t left and I hadn’t been completely blind to what I wanted, who knows what would have happened?”

“I know, though.” Magnus kissed him. “We would have found each other, in the end.”

They both smiled. Alec shifted closer to Magnus so he could drop his head on his chest. Magnus soothed his hair. They both fell asleep like that.