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We see eye to eye (Heart to heart)

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Alec and Magnus get engaged, which is a surprise to exactly nobody except for Alec himself, it seems. “He said yes,” he tells Jace, a day later. It’s the fifth time he’s said it and he still sounds dazed and in wonder of it all.

“I know, bro,” Jace says, because he’s decided to cut Alec some slack. The overwhelming, knock-your-socks-off happiness streaming through their parabatai bond might have gotten to him.

Alec suddenly sits up straight. He spreads his hands on the table that Jace has all of his weapons laid out on, because he’s been cleaning them and doing actual work, as opposed to a certain blissed out Head of Institute that shall go unnamed.

“You’ll be my best man again, right?” Alec asks.

Jace grins. “I’d be honored, man. I’ll throw you a kickass bachelor party this time, now that there’s actually something to celebrate about your impending marriage.”

Alec just rolls his eyes at the jab, the smile never leaving his face. Jace has a feeling it’s going to be glued there for the foreseeable future. “As long as there’s no strippers.”

“I make no promises,” Jace warns him.

*

Jace told Alec there’d be a kickass party, so a kickass party it is. He has a short debate with himself on whether he should stick to tradition and only invite Alec’s male family, friends and acquaintances, but that idea is discarded pretty quickly. Alec has been punching traditions in the face left and right since his first almost-wedding, and anyway, Jace is not going to risk Isabelle’s ire if he has to tell her she’s not welcome.

So, invites for everyone it is. And he does mean everyone – Izzy, Clary, Simon, Underhill, Luke, Lydia, Aline, Maia, Baz, Catarina, and Luke’s police partner and the girlfriend she apparently has are only the top part of a very, very long list. Alec is probably going to have to think for a long moment about the names of some of the people Jace invites, but that’s alright. It might not be what Alec wants, but it’s what he deserves, and, Jace thinks, what he needs.

Consequently, the Hunter’s Moon is a little more crowded than, well, ever before, probably, when the Big Night finally arrives. Jace told Alec they’d go for a drink, but he’s pretty sure Alec knows something is up, especially because Magnus declined Alec’s invitation to come along. At the very least, things probably click for Alec when he steps inside – half pushed by Jace, because he’s excited to show off all his work, sue him – and is greeted by a veritable sea of smiling people who yell his name. The banner above the bar reading Enjoy your last night as a free man, Alec Lightwood might also be a slight hint at the point of this gathering.

It’s a little concerning when Alec completely freezes, barely a single step inside the bar. Jace has to push past him to even get inside, away from the cool night air and into the stuffy, loud, elated universe caught on the other side of the doorway.

He slaps Alec’s shoulder, hoping to snap him out of it. “Hey buddy, you with me?”

“Uh,” Alec says, staring at the crowd with wide eyes. Most of the guests have gone back to their own conversations or drinking or games of darts and pool. “Yeah, I’m- Yeah. How many people did you invite?”

“A lot,” Jace admits. He has a list somewhere, but he’s no Isabelle or Magnus, who would have had the numbers ready. Counting names will take a while.

Alec turns to him. “And they all came?”

“I didn’t have to pay them, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Alec doesn’t look worried – he looks touched. “Almost everyone we invited RSVP’d yes to the wedding, but I didn’t know- I guess I thought-”

Their parabatai bond doesn’t extend to mind reading, but Jace can make an educated guess based on everything he knows about his brother’s personality and level of self-esteem. “You thought they were all coming for Magnus?”

Alec doesn’t say anything, but looks so guilty that he doesn’t have to.

“Well,” Jace says, and maybe veers up on his toes a tiny bit (not that he’d ever admit to that) to throw an arm around Alec’s stupidly tall shoulders. “You thought wrong, brother.”

“Yeah,” Alec says. It might be the first time Jace can remember seeing him happy about being mistaken. That’s growth.

*

After Jace has forced a first drink on Alec, Isabelle gives a beautiful speech. More than one person is dabbing at the corner of their eye when she’s finished, and the hug Alec engulfs her in lasts a good long while. Then it’s Jace’s turn to speak.

He’s always known he wouldn’t be able to beat Isabelle at this, so he’s decided to keep it short and sweet. He raises his glass. “To Alec’s second bachelor party!” he yells.

“To Alec’s last bachelor party,” Alec says. He’s mostly drowned out by the cacophony of toasts echoing back at them from all over the room, but he’s grinning and Jace gets one of those extended hugs too, so Jace figures he didn’t do too terribly for a five word speech.

*

They get separated for a while as Alec greets his guests, so Jace hangs around Clary’s table for a bit and annoys Simon, because it’s fun. When Clary and Simon go off together in search of more drinks, Alec, in another corner of the room, has just managed to extricate himself from what looks like it was a pretty intense cross-examination by Luke’s lesbian police partner. Jace raises a hand to catch his attention and Alec maneuvers through the room towards him while trying not to step on any feet or spill his second beer. He almost gets caught in conversation with Underhill halfway through, but from what Jace can see, it gets wrapped up with a couple of sentences and a short hug.

Alec collapses into the chair next to Jace’s when he finally reaches the table. He looks a little flushed and not nearly drunk enough yet, but Jace has known him long enough to be able to read into the very slight smile on his face.

“Having fun?” he asks innocently, from behind his own whiskey.

Alec grins at him. “No, I hate it. This is terrible, having everyone I like in one place and having fun.”

“I’d almost believe you, if you weren’t such a shit liar.”

“I’m not a shit liar,” Alec protests weakly. He looks far too relaxed to be any more intense than that about it. “I kept my sexuality a secret for years.”

They could easily let this conversation turn into something very serious and depressing, but Alec didn’t say it like that’s the mood he’s in. Jace goes with option B: teasing. He snickers. “Yeah, right. Remember that time when all this-” He waves a hand around vaguely, to communicate that ‘all this’ encompasses not just the party, but their entire lives from a certain very specific point onwards. “-had just started and we were at Magnus’s loft to summon the demon who had Clary’s memories?”

“The time I freaked out when it showed me your face and I nearly killed you?” Damn, Alec is good at saying super sad things really lightly.

“No!” Jace says. They’re definitely thinking of the same event, but from radically different angles, and Alec’s is the wrong one. “That time Magnus called you a pretty boy and you had this really dopey grin on your face and then shrugged like the worst actor in the world.”

Alec’s eyebrows draw together. “It wasn’t that bad,” he tries, but he sounds both unconvincing and unconvinced himself.

“It was,” Jace assures him. “That was some porn level acting, Alec, trust me. Which is sad because you weren’t even getting any at the time.”

“Didn’t take very long after that.” Alec mumbles it from behind the rim of his beer glass, but Jace catches it anyway, and he whoops, which garners them some looks. The tips of Alec’s ears turn distinctly pink.

*

Alec gets dragged off by Izzy for a round of shots and Jace bumps into Aline, who challenges him to a game of darts. He accepts, which is a terrible idea, in hindsight. He’s not a bad shot, but he has absolutely nothing on Aline. He should have remembered why it was never any fun competing against Alec and her in informal sharpshooting contests during training.

The next time Jace bumps into Alec is when they’re both going somewhere and end up face to face next to an empty table with a wall of drunk Shadowhunters and werewolves on their other side. There’s barely room for one person to walk, let alone two people to pass each other, so Jace drops into the chair at the table. He kind of expects Alec to keep going with a nod of acknowledgement, but he’s pleased when Alec plops down, too. This whole kick-ass bachelor party thing is cool – and his organizational skills are majestic, watch out, Magnus – but he has to admit he misses the quiet and the room to talk that they had at Alec’s first not-really-a-bachelor-party before his almost-wedding.

So he leans forward over the table towards Alec, because hey, they’re here now, might as well converse. “Did you know I once tried to give Magnus a shovel talk?”

Alec, who’d been sagged in his chair, hair mussed and eyes unfocused but almost deliriously happy (in other words, thinking about Magnus), does a double take at this. “What? Why?”

“You’re my brother. I needed to make sure this glittery dude was treating you right.”

“No, you didn’t,” Alec says, and he stills sounds fearful more than grateful, which is just, well, bastardly, or something.

“Yes, I did!” Jace protests, banging a fist on the table with perhaps a little more force than he intends. All the glasses rattle and one of the empty beer bottles tips over, but it rolls off the side of the table and onto the cushioned couch seat that runs along the wall with only a soft thud, so it’s easy to forget about it right after. “You would’ve done the same for Isabelle.”

Alec shakes his head slowly, in the overly exaggerated manner of someone who’s pretty damn drunk. Jace is glad to realize he’s not the only one. “I’ve never done that for Izzy, ever, because she absolutely doesn’t need it. And this is different anyway.”

“How?” Jace fishes, already a bit offended on Isabelle and Clary and Maya’s behalf. “Because you’re a guy? That’s a little mosogo- misigys… sexist. Li’l sexist.”

“No. Because it’s Magnus.”

Jace doesn’t really have any argument that holds up against the sheer conviction behind those words. He shrugs, scoops up his cocktail glass and huffs into it. This brilliant move gets him some splashback, but most of it doesn’t go into his nose, so he ignores it. “Yeah, well,” he tells Alec. “I didn’t know that at the time, did I?”

He’s referring more to the italicization of the name than the name itself, because of course he did know that Magnus was called Magnus when he talked to Magnus. They’re two different things. Alec seems to get it, because he nods understandingly.

“There were a lot of cats,” Jace muses. “Never thought there’d be so many cats at a shovel talk.”

Alec nods at this to, albeit a little less understandingly, perhaps.

*

The third time Jace gets a moment alone with Alec, they’ve been hanging out with Isabelle. Sibling bonding time at the bar – it’s awesome, and Alec is awesome, and so Isabelle, and Jace loves both of them a lot. Like, a lot. When he tells Isabelle this, she giggles and tells him to drink enough water, before getting to her feet – still steady in those stiletto heels, which surely must be some kind of superpower – kissing his cheek, and heading for Clary, Aline and Maia, who are waving her over from a table.

Alec grins at him lazily and bumps his shoulder with a fist. “This is really great. Thank you for doing this for me.”

“I’d do anything, man, if it makes you all glowey like that,” Jace hears himself say. It’s not that he doesn’t mean it, it’s just that he’s almost surprised that he’s saying it out loud. “Hey, how does this compare to your first bachelor party?”

“This one wins,” Alec says. He doesn’t take even half a second to think about it. “Easily. There wasn’t a lot of partying last time and I was sick with nerves.”

“And now?”

The way the smile takes over Alec’s face is like watching the sun break free from the clouds. Jace feels like he needs sunglasses, it’s that blinding. “I’m excited,” Alec says, and he sounds it. He sounds like a guy who could start singing at any moment, which is almost scary, because that’s not the Alec Jace has known since they were kids. This is an Alec that’s ten times happier and twenty times more comfortable in his skin, and it’s all because of Magnus.

Still, he has to ask. “So, wanna tell me your doubts about your path in life, like last time?”

“I would, if I had any.”

“Seriously? You have no doubts, about anything?”

Alec gives a shake of his head. He spins his cocktail glass around on the smooth bar surface, somehow managing not to tip it over despite their impressive state of inebriation. Maybe he’s a little less drunk than Jace thought he was.

“Of course I do,” Alec says, finally.

He waited just long enough that Jace is starting to get hypnotized by the twirl of the glass and needs a second to refocus. He does it, though, because this is important. This is a heart to heart, or something, and he can’t tell other people to be careful with Alec’s heart and then not listen to his own threats. He’d end up having to hunt himself down, which would just be needlessly complicated.

Alec, oblivious to Jace’s internal ruminations, keeps talking. “I have doubts about my strength as a leader, and about how to keep improving Downworlder relations, and about if the Clave will ever stop looking so critically at every step I make just because I don’t fit their ideal mold of a Shadowhunter. Lots of things. Lots of doubts.”

“But not about Magnus,” Jace guesses.

Alec lets go of the glass and looks over at him. He suddenly appears more sober than he could possibly be. “Never. Even the times we’ve struggled or fought, I’ve always known, deep down. He’s it for me. He’s the one.”

There’s something tickling Jace’s cheek, so he wipes it away. He realizes it’s a tear when the back of his hand comes away wet.

“Are you crying?” Alec sounds shocked.

“No. There’s just something in my eye.”

“Yes,” Alec says. “Emotions.” And okay, so maybe they’re both a little drunk, still.

Jace scrubs at his eyes one last time and then resolutely decides that he’s not going to be ashamed about this. “I’m happy for you, okay? Magnus is a good guy and you deserve someone like him.”

“Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Jace says, voice gruff like tomorrow’s hangover is getting an early start. He holds his hand up between them until Alec clasps it, blinking a little too quickly himself.

*

Their first warning is a puff of cold when the door flies open. The chill from outside is actually pretty welcome now that it’s past midnight and the bar is starting to feel like it’s about two thirds people, one third air.

The second warning is the music cutting off, followed by conversations silencing themselves, starting in the area closest to the door and gradually working itself towards the back of the room. People there, like Jace and Alec, have no hopes of seeing what’s causing this commotion – or lack of it, rather – but they fall quiet anyway in either solidarity or curiosity.

The third warning isn’t so much that, as it is a pretty clear explanation. Someone yells, loud and cheery enough that it’s probably a drunk Luke, “The stripper is here!”

Hushed whispers pick up across the room.

Simon starts poking Alec’s shoulder incessantly, face stuck in something so excited he looks a little deranged. Jace feels the same way, but he hopes to the Angels that he hides it better.

Alec lets Simon’s harassment be, seemingly having bigger things on his mind. “I said no strippers,” he says – no, whines – looking pained and embarrassed and like he’s scoping out the exits of the bar. He eyes the wall as if he’s wondering how solid it really is.

Before Alec has a chance to bring the building down around them, the sea of people starts to shift. Jace grabs Simon and draws him back a step or two to give Alec some relief.

Heels are clicking on the floor, with the kind of force that has people automatically moving out of the way to create a path for the person who is moving Alec’s way. When there’s enough space to recognize the newcomer, it’s a familiar face – obviously, because Jace is the awesome best man who arranged this and he knew who this was going to be. He has the guest list, after all. Somewhere.

Alec’s eyes go wide, even as a dopey grin takes over his face seemingly without him even realizing it. “Magnus,” he says – no, sighs – and his voice, eyes and entire aura just drip with delighted affection.

Magnus has much the same expression on his face, which really doesn’t go with the atrocious fake handlebar moustache glued to his upper lip. He is also wearing something that could be a police outfit, if the officer in question had washed their uniform too hot, taken a pair of scissors to it, rolled around in purple glitter and added some knee-high boots.

And yet, somehow, Jace has to admit Magnus pulls it off. It’s frankly astonishing.

“I hear someone’s about to get married,” Magnus purrs.

Alec visibly melts. “Yes,” he says, like he thinks they’re already at the altar. “Us.”

Jace feels the need to interrupt at this point. It’s a little hard to sound suitably faux-shocked instead of just bursting into laughter. “Alec, you can’t run off with the stripper.”

“Yes I can,” Alec counters, without ever taking his eyes off Magnus. “It’s my bachelor party.”

There are some oohs and aahs from the crowd. Jace probably would have fired back, if Magnus hadn’t chosen that moment to reverently touch Alec’s cheek. It suddenly becomes apparent that Alec has been reigning himself in until right then, because his resolve breaks spectacularly and he fairly launches himself at Magnus. Magnus, even in heels and purple glitter and with considerably less bulk than Alec, is right there to catch him.

They look like they’ll be at it for a while.

Jace slings a companionable arm around Simon’s shoulders and starts to guide him towards the bar. “Seems like it’s just you and me now, friend.”

“Exactly how drunk are you?” Simon asks, which is probably a fair question.

Jace jostles Simon a bit. “I’m not drunk. I’m high.” He makes a sweeping gesture with his free arm, indicating a horizon they definitely can’t see in New York, let alone in this crowded bar. “High on love.”

Behind them, there’s a crash. When Jace looks back, it appears that either Alec or Magnus steered their duet right into a lonely chair, which recognized the futility of fighting a force of nature and threw itself to the ground in surrender. Alec, bright red, breaks away from Magnus just long enough to put the chair back on all four legs with glittery hands. There are already sparkles on his nose and in his eyebrows, too, inexplicably, and there are smudges of red around his mouth.

“Sorry,” he tells the room at large loudly, before stepping right back into Magnus’s reaching arms and diving back in for more lipstick transference.

Jace considers this last part of his Give Alec A Kick-Ass Party plan as much a resounding success as the rest of it, even if not a lot of stripping happens, that night – not in public, anyway, and he doesn’t really need to know about the rest of it.