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If You've Got The Money, I've Got The Time

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Thoughts free flow you said you've got something
Deep inside of you
---
I've never felt alone
Till I met you
I'm alright on my own
Till I met you

- Deep Inside of You, Third Eye Blind

 

“Ready for the 4-1-1?”

The class bell shrills loudly behind Catarina, his best friend since fifth grade, and Magnus waits for it to end before turning in his desk to face her. It’s their study period and Mr. Starkweather rarely shows up so it ends up being a free period for the handful of people who actually come to the room instead of getting blazed by the dumpsters. Although, Magnus would prefer that right about now.

“What rumor?” he asks as she settles in and pulls a bag of grapes out of her backpack.

“Lightwood is gay,” she says ungracefully and pops a grape in her mouth.

Magnus thinks of the dark-haired Lightwood one grade below him and while the rumor is a little intriguing, it’s not exactly shocking considering she’d made out with Maureen at last year’s homecoming party.

“I’m pretty sure she told me she was bi but, hey, I could be wrong.”

Catarina shakes her head. “Not Isabelle.”

“Jace?” Now, this is more shocking. Jace, the blonde jock who has been dating Clary Fairchild the entire four years of high school, now that would be a rumor.

Catarina groans through her mouthful. “Try again.”

Magnus shakes his head. It can’t be. Alec Lightwood? Tall and broody, attractive in that I think I’m too good for you but you still can’t help but like my face way. Magnus hasn’t given him much thought over the years, they don’t exactly hang out in the same circles. Never have and never will and he’s pretty sure this is the worst rumor anyone could have ever come up with. One, because who the fuck cares about Alec Lightwood’s sexual preference? The boy doesn’t talk to anybody, doesn’t make eye contact, keeps his nose in a book, lives on the soccer field, has like two friends apart from his siblings, and generally looks down on everyone from his really, really high horse. Two, Magnus doesn’t think he could pick out a straighter person from a lineup if his life depended on it. The guy plays soccer and never looks twice at his shirtless teammates. Not gay. Not even close.

“Alec Lightwood? That stick in the mud? Nope. How did this even get started?”

Catarina offers him a grape and he takes one, chewing the sweet fruit slowly while she dramatically sets her grapes aside in lieu of excessive hand gestures for her story.

“Well”—she peeks over at the two other people in the classroom and lowers her voice—“apparently Raj caught Lightwood staring at his ass after gym.”

Magnus snorts out a laugh and covers his mouth, swallowing his grape before finishing. “I’m sorry. We’re basing this off something Raj said? Everyone knows he’s a pathological liar, right? He claims he almost set up a threesome last year and we all know that’s not true considering he wasn’t even at that party.”

Catarina lifts a shoulder. “I’m just reporting my findings. Not saying I believe them.”

Magnus shakes his head. “I can’t wait to get out of his hell hole. People really are reaching for excitement if they start a rumor about Alec Lightwood.”

Catarina giggles. “Okay, but what if he is gay?”

Magnus stares at her, grape in hand. “So what if he is?”

Magnus sure as hell isn’t going to care, much less do anything with the information. He’s exchanged maybe ten words with Alec over the past four years. You dropped your hat — and— good game, Lightwood which was followed with an odd glance in his direction and a quiet thanks. So, maybe less than ten words.

“He’s cute,” Catarina says simply. Stating an obvious fact anybody in the school would confirm. “You would make a cute couple.”

Magnus can’t help but laugh at this, and not even a regular laugh, it’s an obnoxious cackle. “Right. Maybe on the surface. But, Alec? He would never have anything to do with me.”

Catarina tips her head and stares at the clock on the wall in silence. “You know, I think he seems kind of nice. He has this reputation for being stuck up but he’s never done anything to anybody to deserve that, you know? Besides, that Simon Lewis kid is his best friend and he’s a total nerd.”

“Simon has money. Rich kids stick together,” Magnus explains, matter-of-fact. He flips through his binder and hands over the study guide he’d promised to let Catarina borrow.

“Maia Roberts. She’s his other best friend and she’s cool.” Catarina takes it from him and slides it into her backpack.

“You know, I’ve always questioned that friendship. I thought for a while they might be secretly dating but then that whole Jordan scenario happened.”

Catarina winces, her face turning to utter disgust. Nobody likes to think about that time Junior year. This school has its flaws, its cliques, its bullies, and whatnot, but the moment Jordan Kyle raised a hand at Maia at the pep rally, the entire student body had come together like Magnus had never seen.

“Lightwood beat the shit out of Jordan.” Catarina crumples up her Ziploc bag and tosses it in the nearby trash can.

“So maybe he’s not all bad,” Magnus agrees.

He remembers that day so clearly. He’s not one to condone violence but even he felt something snap in him when he saw Jordan’s hand pull back, and the fear in Maia’s eyes when she flinched, bringing her arms up. And then, faster than Magnus has ever seen anybody move, Lightwood had crossed the court and tackled Jordan to the floor. After that it was a whirlwind of punches and guttural shouting. He thinks Lightwood only got in a few hits before his brother Jace was there with Simon, pulling him off; and if he recalls correctly, Ragnor was there too, standing between Lightwood and Jordan, one hand out on either side, using his placating tone to calm Alec.

Magnus can still hear the pure hatred in Lightwood’s voice, the anger in his eyes when he pointed a finger at Jordan who was picking himself up from the gym floor. If you come near her again you son of a bitch, I’ll— He never got the chance to finish his sentence because Jace had yanked him back, hissing something harshly in his ear. Whatever it was, it’d worked; he wiped his bloody knuckles on his shirt, broke away from everyone holding him back and went to Maia, wrapping her in his arms as she cried.

Okay, now that Magnus thinks about it, Lightwood probably is a decent guy to his friends. Loyal and obviously willing to do anything to defend them. But still a snob, he’s sure. Being a snob doesn’t make you a bad guy, just makes you a snob. And Magnus and snobs have never mixed.

“Well, true or not, I hope the rumor dies down. It’s nobody's fucking business and if he is and Raj is outing him… not cool. What’s Lightwood saying about all this?”

“Nothing. He’s not confirming or denying it.” Catarina pulls a book out of her backpack and opens it up to her bookmark. Magnus brought his book too but he suddenly doesn’t find himself in the mood to read and he’s already studied enough to push his brain to its breaking point.

“I’m gonna go for a smoke, you in?”

She seems to consider it for a minute, toying with the black power bead bracelet Magnus gave her as their best friend token and shakes her head. “Nah. I don’t feel like smoking today. How’s your car fund coming by the way?”

Magnus sighs. This is why he needs a smoke. He can’t stop stressing over the fact he can’t raise enough money for his car. “Not coming at all. I can’t find a job anywhere that will work with my hours that isn’t too far for me to get to without a car.”

“The never-ending human dilemma.” She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. “Maybe this summer you’ll find something and raise enough money for it before college starts.”

“Yeah, let’s hope I do or I won’t be going to college.”

She levels her eyes on him. “You’re going to college with or without a car. You know Ragnor and I would never leave you. Besides, if we all get into Stanford, it’ll be a breeze.”

Magnus isn’t one to put all of his eggs in one basket, and he didn’t, he applied to plenty of safety schools, but Stanford, that’s the basket he put his hopes and dreams in. Catarina and Ragnor had applied as well; he knows it’s probably teenage foolish hopes they all will get into the competitive school but they can hope. No matter what, they’ve agreed to stick together. At least in the same city or state.

“Stanford and a scholarship,” he says, crossing his fingers which she returns.

“It’ll happen and even if you don’t get your car, we’ll road trip it all the way to Cali in mine.”

Magnus chuckles and stands, squeezes his way between the desks and kisses her on the top of her braided hair. “You’re an angel. I’ll be back in a bit.”

“I know,” she says, amused.

The hallways are dead except for the rubber soles of his Doc Martens and he can hear classes taking place behind the wooden doors as he walks undisturbed down the long hallway, through the commons, and out the double doors behind the cafeteria. It puts him by the long road that winds downhill to the soccer fields. No one is ever down here during this period. It’s the perfect place and time to go for a walk and enjoy the small peaceful moments one can never find during crazy school days. He walks all the way to the stadium seats, scales the large concrete steps until he’s at the top, tucked away in the corner where he can’t be seen if someone was to come down the hill.

He tightens his leather jacket around his midsection when the breeze hits, lights his cigarette and leans back, looking up at the sky, watching the smoke match the clouds in white puffs when he exhales. He doesn’t smoke daily, or even often, only every now and then, he likes the motions of it. Ragnor tells him he’s stupid and he’s playing with fire but then again, Ragnor has always been the health nut out of their little gang and the worrier—he’s always worried Magnus is going to get into trouble or get carried away when they’re drinking. Granted, Magnus has had his nights of too much fun and Ragnor did have to nurse him back from last year’s prom when Magnus got so drunk he puked into bushes and fell on top of it.

He smiles to himself, remembering that night, because even though he was drunker than a sailor, he can still remember how much fun he and his friends had. Going as a group instead of with dates. Camille had been an ugly phase for Magnus’ Sophomore year, and he’s decided to choose more wisely the next time he dates. Apart from a few dates here and there—not with anyone from this school, of course—Magnus has stayed pleasantly single. He likes it. He has his friends and his studies, which despite his cool persona, he enjoys. He’s happy to coast on through the rest of senior year like this.

He’s not in any hurry to grow up. He’s turned eighteen, he’s technically an adult although he feels the furthest thing from one. He knows his days in peaceful bliss like this are sadly numbered. Real life comes fast. College, work, money problems, if he’s lucky there will be some love and family thrown in there, followed by more work, oh, and then death.

Yeah, Magnus can hold off on growing up.

He blows out another cloud of smoke and hears the unmistakable sound of someone stopping in their tracks. He sits up and sees the star of his daily gossip—Alec Lightwood. He waves at him with his cigarette bearing hand.

Alec freezes, looks behind him and then back at Magnus before stuttering, “H-hey, Magnus.”

Magnus leans forwards, elbows on his knees, and eyes him. His hair is windblown, curling on the ends, face pink like he’s been outside in the cold a lot longer than Magnus has. “You want a smoke?”

“What?”

Magnus holds his cigarette out, hopefully, the visual will help him understand. It’s not complicated. “A smoke. Cigarette.”

Alec shakes his head. “No thanks, I don’t smoke. I’m gonna”—he points over his shoulder and backs down the stairs—“go back. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“If you’re not out here to smoke, what’re you out here for?” Magnus calls after him and he’s pleased to see Alec stop mid-step.

He looks out at the field and turns to Magnus, looking up at him, squinting one eye at the sun that beams down on him. “Needed some fresh air so I went on a walk.”

“So, the opposite of smoking.” Magnus grins when Alec chuckles and tugs on the zipper of his black Adidas windbreaker.

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Well, have a seat, I’ll put it out.” Magnus takes one more drag of his cigarette before snuffing it out on the concrete step next to him. He’s put out a half-smoked cigarette and invited Alec Lightwood to sit with him. He’s done weirder things, he supposes.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Alec says, surprising Magnus by actually scaling the steps up to join him.

Magnus waves it off. “It would defeat the purpose of your fresh air.”

“I don’t own the fresh air, I could have gotten some somewhere else.” Alec lowers himself to sit beside Magnus.

Magnus pulls out a pack of gum from his pocket, offers a stick out to Alec, who accepts it with a quiet thank you . Magnus opens his quickly and tosses the foil wrapper down beside his cigarette, which he’ll take down to the trash when he’s done. But Alec, Magnus watches him slowly unwrap the stick of gum, place it between his front teeth, and fold the wrapper up into a small square he tucks in his pocket. He holds the gum between his teeth and slowly nibbles it, pulling it into his mouth. All meticulous, tedious motions Magnus believes say so much about the guy.

He blinks away before he’s caught staring, choosing to mess with his rings instead. Alec sighs beside him and leans back, elbows resting on the step above him, eyes closed and head tipped back. His lashes are dark and fanned across the top of his cheeks. His stubble is freshly shaven, and the muscles in his jaw flex as he chews the gum. Magnus has never let himself truly look at him, well, he’s never had the opportunity and god damn… he hates that he has now. The guy is stunning, it isn’t fair. And how Magnus has gone this long without noticing how attractive he is, is beyond him.

“You know…” Magnus begins cautiously because he doesn’t have to know Lightwood to see the stress he’s carrying today. “It’ll all blow over soon enough. Raj is an ass and everybody knows it.”

Alec’s eyes flutter open and he turns his head on the concrete stair to look at him. “You’ve heard…”

Magnus shrugs. “It’s Idris High. I could fart out here and someone would already know by the time I get inside.”

That pulls a bright smile from Alec and Magnus’ heart does an unexpected leap in his chest. He looks away quickly because he doesn’t like the possible meaning of that. He knows himself too well and he’s quite happy the way he is. “Lay low and it’ll go away. Never fear, Lightwood, your reputation won’t be ruined for long.”

Alec sits up now, leaning forward and lacing his fingers together. “Alec.”

“Hm?”

“You called me Lightwood. Only my teammates do that, it feels oddly impersonal off the field and coming from… you.” Alec tips his head, unsure. “If you want. Lightwood’s fine too, I guess.”

“Are we getting personal?”

Alec makes a small hissing sound. “I wouldn’t say that.”

“Because if we are,” Magnus continues on, moving forward, “then I think I’ll call you Alexander.”

Alec’s eyes fall on him again. “Nobody calls me that.”

“Well, I guess now someone does,” Magnus quips.

Alec licks at his lips, opening them in an amused smile. “I guess so.”

They sit, looking up at the sky, the white cottony clouds passing over them in silence. He won’t call it comfortable simply because he can tell Alec is thinking, he can practically feel his thoughts every time the breeze passes over him and into Magnus.

“You could deny it?”

Alec hums, a sound so quiet and resigned.

“I mean, they can’t kick off a rumor too much if there’s absolutely no truth to it. They’ll see nothing come of it and soon enough everyone will roll their eyes and remember Raj likes to speak out of his ass all the time.” There, Magnus thinks, problem solved. It’s not the best idea he’s come up with but no one ever said his ideas were perfect plans of genius.

Alec’s lips press together, nostrils flaring, finding an inordinate amount of interest in his hands where he rubs his thumb into his palm, working at the muscles there. His shoulders slacken when his eyes find their way upward, his entire body loosening at once. “Yeah, I’m not gonna deny it.”

“Why not?”

Alec stills and turns to Magnus, and the sun has decided to move to a point in the sky where it lights up the hazel eyes. Magnus has never noticed how beautiful they are, a whirl of brown, green, and blue.

“Because it’s true.”

Magnus’ heart betrays him again with another leap and he makes sure he doesn’t show any of the shock rushing through him. “Oh,” he says. “I didn’t know. I assumed.”

“That I’m straight?”

“Well… yeah.”

Alec nods. “You and everyone else.”

“Except Raj,” Magnus tries to joke, hopefully lightening the mood, and it works because Alec rolls his eyes, exasperated.

“I was not checking out his ass.”

Magnus puts his hands up. “No judgment from me.”

“I wasn’t,” Alec protests but he’s smiling and there’s a huff of laughter that comes out with the denial that makes Magnus believe it’s all gonna be okay. “But he somehow came to the correct conclusion all the same.”

“Well, look, if you’re not ready to come out, which I get, it’s not an easy thing.” Magnus gestures at himself because he’s been there, his coming out Freshman year had been the scariest yet best thing he ever did. “Let’s start a new rumor. We’ll say… we caught Mr. Starkweather singing show tunes in his car.”

“That is not nearly good enough to trump the closeted gay rumor.” Alec reels back, unimpressed. “Is that the best you can come up with?”

Magnus holds out his arms. “I’m sorry I’m not a piece of shit who starts rumors. I’m a little rusty in this field, okay?”

Alec chuckles. “No, we’d need something scandalous to take out a gay rumor. And I don’t want to be the one to hurt someone’s career or reputation.”

Magnus scoffs. That’s it, he hates him. He’s nice. There went his snob theory. Fuck this.

“Ugh, you’re a good person.” Magnus grimaces dramatically.

“The worst kind of person, I know,” Alec jokes and chuckles again, a little more happiness behind it, and Magnus really - kind of - loves the sound of it.

“Well, we’ll have to think of something else then.” Magnus blows a bubble with his gum and sucks it back in.

“I want to come out,” Alec says after a few beats of silence. “I’m not ashamed of it. I didn’t want it to be a big deal or something that defined me throughout high school but the year’s almost over so… fuck it, right?”

Magnus grins at him—surprised? Impressed? He isn’t quite sure how to put his finger on what he feels for someone he barely knows, it’s something akin to pride. He doesn’t know Alec - well, at all - but claiming oneself and living it, is a momentous step for anyone. And it’s brave.

“Fuck it,” Magnus says, shrugging.

Alec’s teeth sink into his bottom lip. “I hate being the center of attention though and if I confirm it, then people are going to try and set me up with the three other openly out guys at this school - you included.”

“There are worse things than being set up with me, excuse you.” Magnus feigns offense and it’s worth it to see the look of utter terror flash in Alec’s eyes.

“I didn’t…” he puts his hands up. “I didn’t mean it like that, I swear.” He gestures at Magnus. “I mean, how could I have meant that… it came out wrong.”

Magnus laughs and nudges Alec’s sneaker with the toe of his boot. “Calm down. I was joking. But also… thank you? I think there was a compliment hidden in that minor freak out.”

Alec rubs his hands down his face and when he looks back at Magnus, he’s blushing. “There was.”

Magnus preens, shimmying his shoulders back. “Why, thank you, Alexander.”

Alec huffs a small laugh and looks away. “Yeah, whatever. What I was trying to say was… it’d be easier if I had a boyfriend. Then I could confirm the news and say, ‘this is my boyfriend’ and things would drop.”

Magnus twists the ring on his index finger, thinking. “That would be easier. Where are you going to find a last minute boyfriend? Craigslist?”

Alec cringes. “No thanks.” He pops his gum and sits up, ramrod straight. He turns to Magnus, expectant smile on his face; and Magnus likes his face, it’s quite a pretty face, but he doesn’t like the look on his face right now. “Okay, hear me out.”

Magnus eyes him. He does not like where this is going. Things that start off this way never end well.

“What if…”

Something in his gut tells him that whatever leaves Alec’s mouth next is going to be a bad idea.

You pretend to be my boyfriend?”

Magnus laughs, loud and sharp, and Alec’s mouth falls flat.

“You can’t be serious,” Magnus says, once he’s regained his composure.

“You’re laughing. You’re actually laughing… in my face,” Alec deadpans.

“I’m sorry!” Magnus exclaims, still tittering behind the words. “It’s just… no one would ever, ever believe it. It’s crazy.”

Of all the things he expected Alec to say, he didn’t think it would involve him in such a way. It’s an all-around horrible idea, Magnus knows that much.

“I don’t think it would be that shocking,” Alec tries.

That could be true but Magnus has read one too many fanfictions that start like this. Seen way too many movies. And he hates the hopeful look filling Alec’s hazel eyes, weakening Magnus’ resolve.

He shakes his head, and he’s proud he managed to do so as quickly as he did. “This is a terrible idea and I can give you several reasons why.”

“Okay, tell me.” Alec gestures at Magnus to continue and folds them in his lap.

“One, it just is, okay?”

Alec’s mouth does this cute pout as he nods, reluctantly agreeing with him, because he’s obviously not a complete idiot. Hopeful but not an idiot.

“Two, we both have friends who would know right away and that’s already too many people in on our secret and too many ways for this to blow up in our faces.”

“That is a problem,” Alec agrees.

Magnus flicks his brow at him. “I know. Three, you and I… We don’t exactly run in the same circles.” He waves his hands between them. “No one would believe it.”

Alec flinches and Magnus has the terrible suspicion he’s taking it the wrong way. He recovers quickly though, running his fingers back through his hair, leaving it a fluff of tangles. “Look, you’re right, it would be hard to convince everyone that you are actually dating me but, maybe you could play it off as an I gave the loser a chance situation?”

Magnus’ jaw drops. “Wait - wait a minute. Stop.”

Alec does, pinching his lips together tightly.

“That’s not at all what I meant. I’m sorry for laughing earlier, I was caught off guard. So, please don’t get the wrong idea. I only meant… well, we’ve barely spoken to each other these past four years. I’m honestly shocked we are having this conversation right now. You don’t hang out with people like me.”

Alec’s brow furrows and he angles his head to the side, and it makes him look like an adorable puppy. “People like you?” he asks.

“Not rich, not in the upper circle.”

Alec’s brows lower now, upset. “Is that what you think of me?”

“I’m simply explaining high school hierarchy.”

Alec rubs at his brows until they relax. “I don’t think I’m above you, Magnus. We don’t hang out in the same circles - as you say - because we’ve never had any mutual friends and we’re rarely in the same classes. You’ve always seemed like a cool guy to me. I never had a reason or an opening to befriend you, if that makes sense. It has nothing to do with status.”

Magnus quickly does an assessment of all his classes throughout high school and he feels like a real jerk because Alec’s right. They’ve had two… maybe three classes together over the last four years. He wonders if they’d had more, if they would have become friends. He can see it. They’ve been talking as if they’ve been friends this entire time.

“But… if you really think I’m nothing but a walking trust fund and that’s who I am to you, then, I’ll bite. Pretend to be my boyfriend and I’ll pay you.”

Magnus whips his head to look at him. “I’m sorry, what?”

“It’s not a big deal. I want to come out, but I don’t want to do it alone. You’d be doing me a huge favor so… I’ll pay you. Make it worth your while. I’m sure as a business agreement, we can come up with some way to convince people we’re dating. Put on an act. I seem to remember you were in the school play Freshman year.”

Magnus sits, bewildered, at the offer and the fact Alec remembers he was in the play that year; and he can’t help himself, he laughs again- loud. “You cannot be serious!”

“Yeah, I realize it’s a little pathetic, but I’m dead serious.”

Magnus suppresses his laughter, pressing his lips together. It’s clearly the wrong reaction to have in this scenario and is more a nervous reaction than anything else. He’s not sure anyone would know how to react to this situation, he’s actually being propositioned to be a paid boyfriend - and the worst part is, he can’t believe he’s considering it.

“How much are we talking?”

Alec exhales, it puffs his cheeks out, and he looks so cute, Magnus is a breath away from telling him he’d do this for free. Bad idea be damned. But he’d like to buy a car and his luck has been shit lately.

Alec mulls it over. “A hundred and fifty? Per week?”

Magnus blinks, taking a minute to do the calculations. It’s not a lot but it’s about what he’d make if he got a part-time job, which, as he was telling Cat earlier, is almost impossible for him right now.  So really… getting paid to pretend to be someone’s boyfriend… well… the idea has its appeal.

Alec must take his silent, mental freak out as hesitation because he blurts out, “Two-hundred. Per week.”

Magnus stands. Chest tight and shallow. That’d be eight-hundred dollars in a month. He could get his car in two. If Alec wants to drag it out that long. “Let’s say I’m considering your crazy idea. What do my boyfriend duties entail?”

Alec licks his lips, thinking. “Uh. I can walk you to your classes, we can eat lunch together, I can drive you to school in the mornings, take you home… just be seen with me?”

Magnus hums, finger tapping on his chin. Suddenly, he’s getting the better end of this deal. Money and a chauffeur. He shakes that away, it’s wrong to think that way. “I could hold your hand, go to your games and cheer for you?”

“Yeah.” Alec smiles up at him, it’s crooked, only going up on one side and Magnus can’t help but love it. It creates a cozy, warmth in his chest.

“Parties, dances, things like that…?”

“We can discuss them as they come up? I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. Besides, parties aren’t my thing but if it’s something you like to do—” Alec shrugs.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Magnus finishes, sounding much too close to leaning towards the yes, let’s do this decision.

Magnus crosses his arms. He can’t see a negative side of this. They’ll both get what they want. Alec can come out on his own terms and with a friend by his side, someone who’s been through it before and can support him. Magnus can save up for his car. He’d be a fool to say yes to this and a fool to say no. He’d rather be a fool with a car though.

“Okay. How long do we keep this up?”

Alec thinks it over. “Graduation? And then we break up or well, end the arrangement. Unless you meet someone you actually want to be with then I obviously won’t keep you from that. You can back out at any time. We both can.”

Magnus nods along and Alec is back to licking his lips - a nervous habit apparently - and he’s hit with something he can’t believe he didn’t think of. “Kissing?”

Alec’s eyes widen a fraction more but enough for Magnus to notice. His cheeks burn red and he looks away from Magnus, swallowing. “Like I said, nothing that would make you uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable isn’t exactly what Magnus would associate kissing Alec with but he gets the sentiment. Alec isn’t doing this to be creepy or to take advantage. Honestly, Magnus is beginning to feel like he’s the one who will be taking advantage of Alec. But then again, Alec is paying Magnus like he’s some sort of escort so he thinks they balance each other out right now.

Magnus holds his hand out and Alec straightens up, shocked as if he can’t believe his idea actually worked. “Let’s make a deal, Alec.”

“Are you sure?” Alec says, standing, hovering his hand right out of Magnus’ reach. “I don’t want to impose and if you don’t have the time…”

Magnus takes his hand and shakes it. “Oh, I’ve got the time. It’s senior year. I’m single, you’re single. You need a boyfriend. I need a car. There are no messy feelings involved. No falling in love. I say, fuck it, we’re young, let’s make some mistakes.”

Alec laughs nervously and shakes Magnus’ hand. “I’m beginning to have my doubts.”

“Already? We haven’t even started.”

Alec lowers their joined hands, keeping them together, hesitantly turning their handshake into laced fingers and palm to palm. Magnus’ heart kicks up a few beats. It’s silly. It’s been way too long since he’s had this sort of contact and of course his heart is behaving ridiculously. Besides, they’re agreeing to no feelings.

But still… Magnus glides his thumb along the back of Alec’s finger. He has missed this. It’ll be nice, even if it’s not real, and Alec is a good person so he won’t hurt Magnus. Correction, Magnus won’t give Alec the ability to hurt him.

“We start on Monday. That way we can have the weekend to avoid our friends and pretend we had a torrid, whirlwind of a weekend together that we can surprise them with Monday morning.”

Alec laughs, soft and airy; and he unlaces their fingers, resolutely moving to hold his arms behind his back. “Monday morning it is.


 

Chapter Text

Maybe it's intuition
But some things you just don't question
Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant
And there it goes,
I think I found my best friend
I know that it might sound
More than a little crazy
But I believe

- Savage Garden 

Alec has made plenty of questionable choices, as Izzy likes to so kindly remind him. Like the one time in summer camp when he tried to ask out the most popular boy who ended up being straighter than the arrows Alec shot with. He’d recovered though, playing it off as if he was trying to form a friendship and he has his doubts the boy believed him but oh well. He never stepped foot in that camp again.

Asking Magnus to be his fake boyfriend and then offering to pay him? That, right there, he doesn’t know what the fuck he was thinking. And he wasn’t. But Magnus is really nice and really fucking hot, and if Alec gets to pretend to be his boyfriend then… win-win, right?

They’d met up yesterday, being careful not to be too obvious it was a date -slash- brainstorming session on the ins and outs of their ‘relationship.’ They also used it as a way to get to know each other, which was fun. Alec hates that he’s only now getting to know Magnus, he thinks they could have been friends if they’d ever had the opportunity. But they have one now and he’s glad to have a friend out of this. Especially today, when everything is going to change for him. He’s been out at home for a long time now but it’s going to feel good to finally be able to go to school and be the same person there that he is at home. He remembers Magnus’ coming out, how proud he was, how strong. He’s glad to have him by his side.

Izzy knocks on the bathroom door and he opens it before going back to his ill attempts at styling his hair. She catches on instantly, confused brows while she applies her deep brown lipstick.

She ties her hair up with the black scrunchie on her wrist and stops when Alec tries to smooth down an errant curl at his temple. She puts her hand on her hip and levels her eyes on him through the mirror. “Why are you doing that?”

“Why am I styling my hair?”

“Mhmm, you never did it before.”

“I have to,” he argues, popping the lid back down on the newly purchased neon yellow gel he’s not sure isn’t going to turn him into a walking flammable.

“Yeah, with water,” she adds, eyeing the squeeze bottle in his hand. “What’s going on?”

Alec looks back at his reflection. Those annoying random curled ends have hardened and look wet and he hates it. “I may have a reason to try and look slightly more presentable now…” He mumbles, taking his fingers and pulling the clumps apart.

He can see the way she reels back and blinks wide brown eyes at him through the mirror. “I’m listening…”

Alec goes back to mussing the ends of his hair with his fingertips. “I’m dating someone.”

He knew better. He did. She’s screaming and jumping up and down and he covers the ear closest to her screeching until she stops, hands over her mouth, face turning red.

“You done?” he asks, tentatively pulling his hand away from his ear.

She punches him in the arm. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to tell you in case it didn’t go well but it did and now… I’m coming out.”

Her jaw drops. “Alec, are you serious?”

“Bad idea?”

“Jace!” she shouts and Alec drops his head back, rubbing at the corner of his eye. He did know better but he also never learns. Not when it comes to his siblings. Who, he reminds himself, he loves with all his heart.

Jace appears in the doorway, unbothered as always, eating an apple. “What?”

Izzy grabs Jace’s arm and pulls him into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

“Izzy, seriously?” Alec steps aside to make more room for the three of them.

“Alec’s got a boyfriend and he’s coming out today,” she announces to Jace who coughs as he swallows around his apple.

“Really?” He looks at Alec, wiping apple juice from his mouth.

Alec nods. “You think it’s a good idea?”

Jace’s eyes soften. “Do you want to come out? Or do you feel forced to because of that fuckwad Raj?”

Alec shakes his head. Raj may have been the driving factor but he’s not the reason. This is something Alec didn’t even know he wanted to do until he sat with Magnus. It’s why he’d gone out there that day, he needed to think about it all and decide how he wanted to handle the rumor. And the soccer field has become one of his favorite places, one of the only places where his mind goes still and he can focus. Then Magnus had been there and things felt easier. The decision to come out was there the moment Magnus smiled at him.

“I want to,” Alec says.

Jace’s mouth spreads into a grin and he wraps his free arm around Alec. “Then I’m happy for you. And you’ve got us,” he tips his head at Izzy, “and a boyfriend apparently?”

Alec smiles, his face growing hot at the fact he’s going to be able to say Magnus Bane is his boyfriend. And he’s not going to think about the fact he’s paying him. Or maybe he does need to think about that fact and keep reminding himself.

“Well, who is it?” Izzy asks, impatiently.

Alec swallows, scratches at the end of his nose. Here goes… day one. “Magnus Bane.”

His brother and sister stop and stare. Alec would be able to hear a tree fall in a forest four states away at the silence they’ve created in this bathroom.

Izzy is the first to recover, holding a hand up. “Give me a minute… Did you say you’re dating Magnus Bane?”

Jace digs a finger into his ear. “Yeah, I’m not sure I heard that correctly either.”

“What’s so hard to believe about that?” Alec straightens up, defensively. “You don’t think I could get a guy like him?”

Jace’s mouth pulls back in a grimace. “Well… have you seen the guy? I’m straight and even I can look at him and say, damn .”

“That’s gayer than anything I’ve ever said in my life, are you sure you’re straight?” Alec deadpans.

“What he means is,” Izzy butts in, an admonishing glare directed at Jace, “we didn’t even know you guys knew each other, much less well enough to be dating now.”

“Well, we didn’t and now we do know each other and now you know that we do. So… ”

“Alec, don’t get like that. We’re obviously happy for you,” Jace says, slapping the back of his hand against Alec’s chest. “We didn’t see it coming, that’s all. But I’ll be the first to say, bravo, brother.”

“Thanks, look, I’m gonna start taking him to school in the mornings and I don’t feel like doing the whole meet the family thing today. So, Jace, could you…”

“Drive myself and Izzy? Say no more.”

“From here on out,” Alec finishes.

Jace clicks his tongue at him, “Got it.”

Izzy smiles up at Alec once Jace exits the bathroom and she takes his shoulder in hand. “I’m so proud of you.”

Her words are tender and full of love, they make Alec’s chest warm with pride, radiating out of his heart and threatening to burst out of him. He’s waited a long time to be himself and now… now he can finally be himself.

He leaves a little too early, not reading Magnus’ written directions until he’s already left. He didn’t realize how close they lived to each other all these years. Alec’s house sits on the bluff that overlooks the city and Magnus lives a few roads away, not even a three minute drive. It’s okay though, he didn’t want to be late and he figured they could stop for coffee or something on the way. He drives past the kids standing at the end of their driveways, waiting for the school bus, and pulls into the driveway of a white house with a white picket fence. He goes up to the door and with a final bravery inducing breath, knocks.

The door swings open before he even has the chance to lower his hand and he’s met with a beautiful woman, black hair pulled back into a bun. She stares at him blankly, confusion curving her brow.

“Hi,” he says.

“Can I help you?”

Alec swallows. “I’m here to pick up Magnus?”

He tries to hold back the self-hating eye roll he wants to give himself right now because he posed that as a question - like a moron.

Her head cants slightly and she takes a step back, waving him in. “Please come in…”

She trails off and he can take a hint, extending his hand. “Alec Lightwood. You must be Ms. Bane.”

She shakes his hand and opens her arms slightly in presentation. She’s dressed in scrubs, baby blue, the top covered in little sheep, and Alec can only assume she works with children. Her mouth curves up at him curiously and holds a finger up. “I’ll go get Magnus.”

She turns on her heel and is halfway up the stairs before Alec can hear Magnus’ voice drift down to him. They speak in hurried, hushed tones, and she backs down the stairs, letting Magnus pass.

Magnus smiles at him and throws his backpack over his shoulder. “Alexander, you didn’t have to walk in for me. I could have met you at the car.”

Alec never knew it was possible for his own name to make his heart beat faster but here he is, hearing Magnus say ‘Alexander’ in a way no one ever has and it makes something sing inside him. He probably should have fought back harder on getting Magnus to call him Alec. “I didn’t know what you’d want.”

“Well, I’m glad you came to the door,” Ms. Bane chimes in, arms crossed. “Seems my lovely son has forgotten to inform me on his new form of transportation.”

Alec holds his wrists tightly behind his back and looks at Magnus, wide-eyed. He doesn’t want to say the wrong thing if Magnus is for some reason keeping their ‘relationship’ a secret from her. “Uh…”

Magnus, thankfully, interrupts Alec and steps in beside him, looping his arm through Alec’s, laying a hand on his chest. “Alexander is my new boyfriend,” he announces proudly and for a moment, Alec lets himself feel like it’s real and that pride is real and this is all real. He grins. It feels good.

Ms. Bane’s eyes widen and she smiles. “Why haven’t you mentioned him before? He’s so handsome!”

Magnus groans. “Mom, enough of that. Sorry,” he says to Alec.

Alec chuckles, a blush rushing to his cheeks. “I’m sorry to spring up on you like this.”

She dismisses him with a wave. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll have to have you over for dinner one night. I’d love to hear all about you.”

“I’d love that—”

Magnus tugs on Alec’s arm and begins to pull him out the door. “Bye, Mom!”

“Bye, Ms. Bane,” Alec manages to call out before Magnus has the door closed behind them. “She’s nice,” Alec says to him and Magnus rolls his eyes at him and makes a beeline for his car.

Alec rushes forward and beats Magnus to it, pulling open the door for him. Magnus halts for a second before sitting in the car, backpack in his lap.

Once Alec is in the car, Magnus turns to him, clicking his seat belt in. “You know you don’t have to do all that, right? It’s only us here…”

“Oh. I’m sorry, yeah, I’ll stop. If you don’t like it, it’s no problem. I can absolutely not do that…”

The day has barely begun and he’s already being weird and making Magnus uncomfortable and he wishes he could rewind time a few minutes to not do that.

“Alexander.” Magnus puts a hand on his arm and Alec’s heart settles. “It’s fine. I don’t mind. I’m just saying, don’t feel like you have to, especially when we’re alone.”

“I don’t think I’ll be able to turn that off and back on again. So, I can stop if it bothers you for me to do it when it’s only us.”

Magnus shakes his head and laughs. “Forget I said anything. Do whatever it is you would do with your boyfriend.”

Well, Alec thinks, he can’t do that . Because he sure as hell would have kissed Magnus the moment he saw him this morning if he were his boyfriend, or at least kiss him now before pulling out of the driveway. Because that’s what boyfriends do. He keeps that to himself and instead drives them to a coffee shop, pulling in the drive thru and asking Magnus what he wants.

“My treat.”

Magnus perks up in his seat and leans forward to look at the menu. “I could get used to being your boyfriend.”

Alec ignores the twist of excitement in his stomach.

That won’t do. He cannot let himself get caught up in anything. They have a role to play.

.

 

They have their coffee, they’re sitting in Alec’s car in the school parking lot, facing the building and it’s time.

“Alexander?”

Alec looks away from the school looming in front of him and focuses on Magnus. The kind smile he gives him, the warmth in his eyes, the pure understanding and support he finds staring back at him. This will be his focus. His constant to go back to and remember that it’s all okay.

“You still want to do this?” Magnus asks him.

Alec nods. He wants this more than anything. He doesn’t know why he’s locking up this way, why he feels like he’s going to be sick, or as if he could snap and break at any moment. But Magnus reaches out and wraps a hand around his, strokes the back of his hand with his thumb and the fear in Alec begins to calm. He can do this.

The weight of what’s making this all possible rests in his pocket. He almost forgot. “Your money,” he says, digging into his pocket for his wallet.

Magnus’ eyes fall to the wallet and he slowly takes the cash Alec offers to him. Tentatively folding the two hundred dollar bills, making no move to put them away. “You’re sure?”

“Yes, I need to do this.”

Magnus stuffs the cash in his pocket without another glance and smiles up at Alec. “Let’s go be boyfriends, Alec Lightwood.”

.

 

There are moments in life Alec is sure he will remember forever, and walking into Idris High, with Magnus’ hand in his is one of them. He never realized it could feel this liberating to be open with who you are, but it does. The approving glances and shocked faces are strange at first but he likes that he’s finally being seen, perhaps for the first time in his life.

Magnus had said he felt Alec was above him but what Magnus doesn’t know is that nobody notices Alec, ever. This, right now, the whispers going on behind cupped hands, all the stares, is the most anyone has noticed him since perhaps last year with the incident with Jordan. Magnus waves at several people with his free hand, holding his coffee, never letting go of Alec’s hand in his other. It’s like he’s walking a gauntlet, freedom and pride waiting for him on the other end, it’s terrifying and exhilarating but at least he’s not walking it alone.

They make it to the end of the hall and Magnus stops at a locker, leaning against it. “Where’s your locker?”

Alec gestures with his head at the hallway to Magnus’ left. “Down that way but I don’t need anything from mine.”

Magnus lets go of his hand and lets it trail up Alec’s forearm before moving to do the combination on his locker. He swings the door open and tugs on Alec to hide their faces behind it.

“How are you feeling?” he whispers.

Alec can feel the warmth of Magnus’ sweet coffee breath hit his mouth and he shivers. “I’m fine. This is great. You’re doing great.”

Magnus smiles at him, humored. “I’ve held your hand and walked down a hallway.”

“And you were great at it,” Alec says, again. He means it.

“Uh…”

Alec looks over his shoulder to see Catarina Loss, Magnus’ best friend, standing there clutching a binder to her chest—and to say she looks confused would be an understatement.

“Cat!” Magnus exclaims, wrapping an arm around her neck. She melts into the hug but her eyes never leave Alec so he waves at her and Magnus pulls away. “So, I have a lot to tell you.”

She finally looks away from Alec and back to Magnus. “I’d say.”

Magnus’ arm slides around his waist and pulls him in until Alec’s pressed against his side.

“Guess who got himself a boyfriend over the weekend,” Magnus announces proudly to his best friend whose eyes somehow widen even more.

“What?” she asks looking from Magnus to Alec and then back to Magnus again. “I’m sorry, when did this happen?”

“This weekend. Do keep up,” Magnus chides, slamming his locker shut.

Catarina’s expression hardens for a moment, it’s a look that speaks without words, and then she smiles at Alec. Alec knows Magnus will have a lot of explaining to do later and so will he. Simon and Maia are going to have way too many questions.

“I guess I’ll be seeing more of you around then, right?” she asks.

Alec gives her a hesitant smile. “I guess so. I hope that’s okay.”

Catarina laughs. “As if Magnus would ever give us a choice. But, you’re alright, Lightwood. Blah blah blah you hurt my boy blah blah threat threat.”

Magnus rolls his eyes and Alec laughs. “Point taken.”

She threateningly pokes at Magnus hard in the chest. “I’m going to find Ragnor. I’ll see you in second period.”

Magnus watches her leave before he turns to Alec, effortlessly taking his hand in his. “Walk me to class?”

“I’d love to.”

Magnus' mouth curves up and Alec can’t help but return it, soaking up all the support from his new friend. It’s day one. He’s out. He has a boyfriend. Fake, of course, but he won’t think about that because his heart pounds wildly when Magnus gives his hand a tight squeeze. Alec knows he shouldn’t but… he can get used to this.

.

 

It’s the end of the day, Alec is sitting in last period, they’re organized in groups to study. Simon and Maia are with him and they join their desks together into a makeshift circle. Alec is pulling out his notes when he hears Simon gently clear his throat.

He looks up and finds his best friends watching him, chins resting in their palms. “What?”

Simon leans forward. “You’re dating Magnus and you have yet to give us any information.”

“Yeah,” Maia interjects, “how’d you guys meet? How did this even happen?”

Alec opens his binder to his notes. “We were both skipping class and ran into each other at the soccer field. We started talking… we went out that weekend, you know how it goes.”

“Uh huh.” Maia leans in, clicking her pen repeatedly. “Who asked who?”

Alec thinks about the story they came up with, which they decided should stay as close to the truth as possible, all monetary exchanges left out. “I asked him.”

“And he said yes?” Simon says, a little louder than Alec would like.

“Clearly. We’re dating aren’t we?” Alec snaps out and Simon waves him down.

“Simmer down, it was a question. I… didn’t think you liked anyone here and you’ve been all anti high school sweethearts since before I can even remember.” Simon absentmindedly draws a swirl over and over again on the corner of his page.

“Well, that changed when I met Magnus.” The statement doesn’t feel quite as untrue as it should and Alec needs to go home and think about all of this and get himself in check before he gets carried away.

Maia smiles and flicks Alec’s wrist. “That’s romantic, you little shit.”

“Hey.” Alec pulls his hand away. “It’s not romantic. It’s… ”

Romantic ,” Simon swoons.

“Shut up,” Alec hisses, smiling innocently when the teacher looks up at them.

“We’re happy for you,” Maia says, seriously this time, smacking Simon on the shoulder. “Aren’t we, Si?”

Simon rubs at the spot. “Of course we are. Are you kidding? You’re dating Magnus Bane. I didn’t even know you liked the guy.”

Alec scratches at his hair. “I didn’t. It just kind of… happened.”

It doesn’t feel entirely like a lie. He’d noticed Magnus before, of course, they’ve been going to the same school since forever. They’d never been close, always in different classes, never in the same friends circles, never the same sports or electives. Magnus had always been cute and unattainable to Alec. Perhaps that’s why he never allowed himself to develop any sort of crush on him because the mere idea that Magnus could ever like Alec or find him attractive enough to want to have a crush on him is laughable. It still is, even now, Magnus said it himself. The two of them together isn’t entirely believable. Alec has gone throughout his day, pretending he hasn’t heard the whispers of Bane and Lightwood, really? or Is this one of those makeover situations? But he did find himself smiling when he overheard two cheerleaders chatting in the stairwell, I think they make the cutest couple.

But, regardless of what the high school whispers are, when Alec lets himself think about it, he can definitely say he likes Magnus. Magnus is a cool guy, especially for doing this for him. Yes, Alec is paying him but he could have shot him down or never even bothered to invite him to talk. All in all, Alec thinks he did pretty good for his first boyfriend - fake or not.

“A three-way call to tell us would have been nice, though.” Maia pulls out her binder and turns to her color-coded study guide. “Magnus is like, insanely good looking. I’d say you hit the jackpot.”

Simon lets out a low whistle. “Absolutely. And you should invite him over for D&D. He can join our campaign next month.”

Alec hardens his eyes on his best friend and points a finger at him. “Magnus is not joining our D&D campaign.”

“Why not?” Maia looks up from her notes.

Alec looks wide-eyed between the two of them. “Really? I just got my first boyfriend, can we not scare him off with our current quest through the Bog of Eternal Stench?”

Simon grins as he sifts through his notes. “Yeah, your character was about to fall in when we left off.”

“I still can’t believe you stole that from Labyrinth,” Alec scoffs, “so unoriginal.”

Maia chuckles from her seat. “You’re just mad you’re going to fall in.”

Simon holds out a hand and she quietly gives him a high-five. He looks back at Alec with a proud grin. “I’m the dungeon master so I can come up with and use any magical lands I want.”

“Whatever, the fact remains, we are absolutely not inviting Magnus for D&D.”

.

 

Alec’s locker slams shut and he jumps back to find Magnus leaning there, books clutched against his chest. “So, Simon invited me over for your Dungeons & Dragons game night.”

Alec freezes in place. “Are you serious…” He shakes his head and pinches at the bridge of his nose. He’s going to murder Simon. “You don’t have to come. I told him you probably wouldn’t want to.”

Magnus hums. “I’ve never played.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.” Alec tips his head towards the exit. “You ready to go?”

Magnus slides his hand in Alec’s, cold metal rings slotting between Alec’s fingers. They walk hand-in-hand, down the hall and out into the student parking lot, and somehow, even though it’s entirely new to him, it’s right. Comfortable.

“How’d I do?” Magnus asks, bumping his hip into Alec.

“How’d you do what?”

“As your boyfriend.” Magnus stops beside Alec’s car and Alec takes the opportunity to open the door for him, shutting it only once Magnus is comfortably sitting inside.

Alec gets himself situated in the car, cranks it and turns to Magnus who slowly turns down the stereo.

“I’m waiting for my assessment,” Magnus says, smirking.

“You were perfect.”

“I wasn’t too much, was I? I know I can be a lot sometimes.” Magnus shifts to face Alec more comfortably now.

He looks so genuinely concerned that Alec can’t stop himself from reaching out and taking his hand in his, cradling it in his own. It’s more intimate here in the car where no one can see. He can tell now that the hand holds in school were one thing but this is something else entirely and he feels foolish now. But he won’t let go. He’s come this far.

“That’s impossible, Magnus. But I promise, if you ever do anything that’s too much , I’ll let you know. But you have to promise to do the same with me, okay? I never want to make you uncomfortable or make you feel like you have to do something because of our arrangement. I… want us to have fun with it.”

Magnus lowers his eyes to their hands and smiles, soft and thankful, before looking back at Alec, meeting his eyes. “I don’t think you could ever do something that would make me uncomfortable, but I promise to be honest with you as well.”

“Good,” Alec says, and lets go of his hold on Magnus’ hand, replacing it with his steering wheel instead. “Home?”

Magnus pushes himself back to sit facing forward and lays his head back against the headrest, rolling it to the side to look at Alec. “I’m kinda hungry. Food first?”

“Yeah, okay.”

Alec slides the stick into gear and pulls out of the parking lot. He lets Magnus control the stereo, turning it up only a little so they can talk over the sound.

It’s his first day as an out and proud gay man. He has a new friend to guide him. The sun shines bright and Magnus laughs loudly at a story he tells, eyes squeezing shut, a smile so bright, and the pieces of Alec’s life slowly begin to fall together one-by-one.

 

Chapter Text

People always take a step away
From what is true
That's why I like you around
I want you
Oh you do, you do, you do, you do
You do, you do, you do, you do
You're making me want you

-Third Eye Blind

 

It’s the middle of week two. Four hundred dollars richer and Magnus now knows what it’s like to be Alec Lightwood’s boyfriend for a week and a half and he refuses to admit to himself how much fun it’s been. And how much he likes Alec as a person and even Simon and Maia who he’s now spent some time with. Catarina grilled him over their relationship, as he expected her to, Ragnor as well, and he’s really glad he and Alec had that meeting before so they could get their story figured out. Catarina was especially shocked to find out Alec had been the one to ask Magnus but then gave him her know-it-all smirk followed by an ‘I told you so’ speech detailing how she knew all along they would make a cute couple.

He’s sitting outside in the stadium, snacking on a Snickers, watching the soccer team practice, or more like, watching Alec practice. This is going above and beyond his duties of fake boyfriend but he didn’t have anything else to do this Thursday afternoon and honestly, watching Alec run around without a shirt on doesn’t seem like the worst way to spend it. Not to mention, Catarina agreed to stay behind with him to keep him company.

“Someone is crushin’ hard,” she comments in a long teasing tone, scaling the stadium to join him.

Magnus scoffs. “Have you seen him without his shirt on? He’s all… ”

She looks at Alec and her left brow jumps. “A total hottie. Who knew he was hiding that under all those plain t-shirts and flannels?”

“That’s what I thought.” He smirks up at her and she drops down to sit beside him.

“On the topic of your dreamboat boyfriend. It’s been almost two weeks and I’ve heard no juicy sex details. What gives?”

Magnus gives her a quick, nervous head shake, peeling back the wrapper on his candy bar to take another large bite. Anything to distract him from focusing too much on the topic.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” he says through a full mouth. Her grin turns into something else - something Magnus isn’t quite sure he likes. “What?”

“You’re serious about him, aren’t you?” She leans forward, elbows digging into her ripped jeans, all of her focus on him.

“Why would you say that?” Magnus takes the last bite of his candy bar and offers it up to her. She refuses it and glances over her shoulder at Alec for a second and then looks back at Magnus.

“Well, you’re going steady with someone that cute and you haven’t had sex with him? Have you made it to second base?”

“No.”

“Sounds to me like you’re taking things slow because you don’t want to rush into things. Sounds serious.”

“It hasn’t even been two weeks, Cat.” He rolls his eyes. “Give us a chance to breathe first. I’ll be sure to come gushing to you when it happens.”

She shrugs her shoulders while she attempts to tie her braids into a high ponytail. They watch as the boys run through their drills, Magnus paying more attention to a certain tall someone who weaves through the orange cones effortlessly. And thanks to Catarina, he’s now seeing Alec in a light he doesn’t need to be seeing him in. Noticing the way the athletic shorts hug him in certain places, he shouldn’t be noticing. He balls up the wrapper and shoves it into his pocket. He really wishes she wouldn’t have said anything.

Catarina leans over and fixes the fold of his flannel sleeve. She has the same soft expression from earlier when she looks at him again, completely unaware of the inner turmoil she’s just caused. “You know, it’s okay if you want to take things seriously with him. He doesn’t strike me as the Camille type. Besides, it’s senior year, relationships get kinda serious around this time.”

Magnus looks at the neat fold she created for his sleeve and chuckles, shaking his head again. “Thanks for your approval but we’re taking things slow and having fun getting to know each other. No one is even thinking about love right now.”

“You?” She laughs, the sound amused and sardonic. “The secret hopeless romantic, not thinking about love? Sounds bunk but okay, I’ll play along.” She pokes her finger into his cheek. “I’m happy for you.”

Magnus smiles. He’s about to try and say something to change the topic of his fake relationship that seems to have his best friend so happy but she beats him to it, pulling a magazine out of her backpack purse. She tosses it in his lap and gestures at the cover. “I’m thinking about getting a nose ring.”

He looks at the singer on the cover and looks up at his friend, picturing a silver hoop on the nose she so gracefully frames with her hands. “You would rock the hell out of a nose ring. Want to go this weekend?”

“You not spending time with Alec?”

Magnus shrugs. “Not if I’m going to the mall with you to get your nose pierced.”

“Then hell yeah! And we can go by Cloud Nine to get it done.”

“The hippie store?” Magnus grimaces.

She opens a compact mirror and checks out her nose. “Yep. I heard Meliorn, who graduated last year, works there. I bet he’d do it without my parents’ signature.”

“Ah, yes. Idris High’s dealer. I think that dope batch of pot I bought was hi—” He stops short when what feels like a sledgehammer slams into his neck. “Fuck!”

“Oh my God, Magnus, are you okay?” Catarina gasps.

“Heads up!”

“Yeah, a little late there!” Magnus shouts down at whoever the dumbass is who can’t kick a ball straight. He glares at the cocky soccer player, and with one hand holding his neck, gets up to grab the stray soccer ball. Alec is already jogging towards him when Magnus makes his way over to the field, ball in hand.

“You okay?” Alec asks, panting heavily, sweat covered chest rising and falling.

Magnus fights against the temptation pulling at every cell in him and forces his eyes to stay on Alec’s instead of admiring the hair covered chest that’s neat and rugged and incredibly too attractive for someone who has no clue about it.

“Not the kind of balls I like coming at my face but”—Magnus quips, holding the ball out for Alec who drops it to the ground, stopping it with his cleated foot—“I’m okay.”

Alec chuckles a soft sound and reaches out to move Magnus’ hand from his neck. His cheeks are pink and Magnus wonders if it’s from his comment or from his practice –probably practice. His hazel eyes shift with concern when he angles his head down to get a better look. “I’m serious. You took quite a hit.”

“It stings but I think I’ll live. How’s it look?” Magnus turns his head, angling his neck for Alec to see better. He’s expecting a simple response but is instead met with the warm trail of Alec’s fingertips down the line of his neck.

“A little red. We can ice it at my house when we leave here,” Alec suggests.

Magnus faces him again and nods once.

“Lightwood, stop babying your boyfriend and come back,” the same player shouts from the field. Magnus doesn’t know who that is but his voice is gratingly annoying and he wishes he’d go away so he can appreciate Alec’s touch on his neck a little longer.

Alec looks over his shoulder and throws up his middle finger. “Why don’t you fuck off and practice passing a ball?”

The player flips him off and goes back to kicking another ball.

“I’m almost finished up here.” Alec cups his hand gently around Magnus’ neck, lips lifting in one corner when their skin touches.

Catarina makes a sweet cooing sound and Magnus bites back a groan. He completely forgot she was there.

“Kiss it better, Lightwood!” she shouts and Magnus laughs nervously, eyes meeting Alec’s for a moment.

“Don’t listen to her, she’s being stupid.”

“Yeah, kiss it better and get back to practice, Lightwood!” another player shouts.

Alec tenses and hesitates, eyes darting to meet Magnus and back down to the exposed skin of his neck.

Catarina makes smooching sounds from behind him. He will pay her back for this.

“Go ahead,” Magnus says, “can’t leave your boyfriend in pain, they might suspect something.” He lifts his brows and Alec laughs nervously.

“As if my kiss would make anything better,” Alec says, rolling his eyes. “Are you sure?”

“Yep.” Magnus steps in closer, angling his neck out for Alec.

It’s a peck, nothing to warrant making a big deal out of. Although he can feel Catarina’s eyes on him and if he looks at anything but the line of sweat meeting Alec’s collarbone he knows he’ll find the entire soccer team watching them. It’s ridiculous. It’s a small kiss. He’s seen other students do much more but he figures it might have something to do with them being the new ‘ it’ couple around campus everyone loves to talk about.

Alec steps up to him, the heat from his body presses against Magnus and he smells like dirt and fresh cut grass when he leans in. His breath is a hot wave against the skin of his neck that makes Magnus hold back a shiver - and then his lips are on him. Soft and gentle at the base of his jaw. He breathes in, nose brushing against the shell of Magnus’ ear when he pulls back.

“Better?” Alec asks, voice rough, and Magnus can’t stop the shiver it sends up his spine.

“Much,” he says, reaching out and patting a hand on Alec’s exposed chest. Soft hair damp with sweat, and a chest so firm Magnus could probably bounce a quarter off of it. He drops his hand back down to his side and shoves it in his pocket. He can’t do that again.

Alec smiles at him and pushes his fingers back through the wet tangles of his hair. “Ten more minutes.”

Magnus waves him off and he allows himself thirty seconds to watch Alec run away, back muscles twisting slightly at the waist, ass tight with every foot that hits the ground. He focuses on settling the swooping in his stomach and turns back to sit with his friend who watches him, eyes wide and fanning herself.

“Oh my God, stop that,” he scoffs.

“I feel like I just witnessed something entirely too intimate for a Thursday afternoon.”

Magnus laughs and rolls his eyes. “You made him do it.”

She blows out a whistle. “Don’t even try to act like that didn’t get you hot.”

“I got hit by a soccer ball, the only heat I’m feeling is the blood rushing to my neck to form what is sure to be a nasty bruise,” he lies. He is absolutely, one-hundred percent, burning inside from that simple kiss.

“Hm… I doubt that. Alec’s amazingly tender kiss probably has magical healing properties.”

“Alright, alright. Enough of that.”

She winks at him and with all the casual ease she can muster she asks, “He’s a good kisser, isn’t he?”

Magnus touches at the spot on his neck where Alec’s lips had been. His pulse pounds against the pads of his fingers, and the phantom press of lips still weighs there. He probably is an excellent kisser. Something he never knew he wanted to find out so bad until just now. He blames Catarina and his hormones. “His lips are definitely soft.”

He hates lying to his best friend but he also knows he can’t keep this up if he starts to let anyone else in on the secret. He’d promised Alec it would remain between them and he intends to keep it that way. His friendship is something he doesn’t think Alec gives out very often and something Magnus cherishes to have. He won’t risk that by telling Catarina the truth or by even humoring any more thoughts on kissing him.

He goes back to watching Alec on the field. Listening to him laugh at something someone says before he kicks the ball across the field.

Catarina hums beside him and wraps an arm around his side. She rests her chin on his shoulder and whispers in his ear, “I like the smile he puts on your face.”

It’s only then, with Alec’s laughter in the air and Catarina drawing his attention to it, he notices the smile on his face and the blooming rush in his heart.

.

 

Alec can’t get that kiss out of his head. It keeps playing and playing and he has to stop. It wasn’t anything but a quick peck that meant nothing, but for some reason, he can’t put it out of his mind. It could be that Magnus is the first boy his lips have ever touched, but that doesn’t mean anything, they’re friends and were practically peer-pressured into doing it. He should have said no, told his teammates to fuck off but he didn’t, because he wanted to. It’s scary to admit that and maybe if he goes home, he can think about it some more and realize that it’s all just a trick of the mind because of their circumstances and nothing more.

“Earth to Alec.” Simon snaps in his face and Alec blinks quickly, coming back from his daydreams of tan, soft skin.

The food court they’re in is loud and busy - it’s a Saturday, so of course it is.

Maia sucks on her straw, watching Alec.

“You looked like you were daydreaming for a second there,” Simon hints with a smirk and Maia bites her straw when she smiles.

“Thinking of Magnus?” she asks.

“Oh my gosh, did the two of you…” Simon pokes his finger through the ring his other hand creates and Alec doesn’t think he’s ever moved faster in his life when he covers Simon’s hands with his own.

“Simon, what the hell? Stop that,” Alec sneers, looking around to make sure none of the other mall patrons saw him.

“Well? Did you?”

“No, why would you think that?”

“You were all daydreamy just now,” Maia says, gesturing at him before going back to her milkshake.

“Are you planning on it?” Simon rallies on, apparently on a mission for information Alec can’t give him.

He doesn’t even want to let his mind go there. Not for a friend, which is all Magnus is. It’s bad enough he finds him so attractive and now knows what it’s like to kiss his neck. He breathes in and holds it for three seconds. He cannot let himself think about Magnus in that way in the middle of a food court. Not if he wants to stand up and continue Maia’s shopping trip she dragged them on.

“No,” he says and Simon’s expression turns from one of surprise to confusion. “We haven’t discussed it. Seems like a pretty big step to take and it’s only been a couple of weeks.”

“I get it. You’re being smart about it. Besides, you want to make sure it’s with the right person for your… you know.”

First time. Alec doesn’t finish for him. The three of them at this table all know he’s still a virgin.

“Thank you… for that reminder, Simon,” Alec murmurs.

“Well, I think you and Magnus make an adorable couple,” Maia says, voice cheerful and clearly trying to change the topic from Alec’s virginity. “And it’s clear how much you care about him. So, if you ever do decide to take things to the next step, I’m sure you’ll be happy.”

Simon taps his cup to Maia’s and then Alec’s. “Cheers to that. I want to find me someone who will look at me the way Alec looks at Magnus.”

Alec puts a fry in his mouth and slowly chews it. “What do you mean by that?”

Simon steals a fry. “You’re always all googly-eyed whenever Magnus is around. It’s cute.”

Maia snorts out a small laugh. “It is.”

Alec swallows his food and shakes his head, resolute. “I don’t get all googly-eyed.”

“Ehhh, ya do.” Simon nudges him with his elbow. “I’m sure Magnus loves it.”

“Do you think it’s obvious to him?” Alec’s voice rises and he clears his throat when he sees the way Maia’s eyes widen.

“Probably. Does it matter? He’s your boyfriend. Who wouldn’t want their boyfriend to look at them like one of the seven wonders of the world.”

“Do I”—Alec drops his face in his palms—“shoot me. Why is my face so stupid?”

Simon laughs and pats on Alec’s back. “Buddy, it’s okay. He’s your boyfriend.”

He’s not. He’s not. He’s not. Alec repeats this the same way he repeated the periodic table to memorize it in eighth grade.

“It’s still embarrassing,” he mutters, muffled into his hands.

Maia pokes at his head. “Forget we said anything. Lay off of him, Simon. I only have one more store to go to and then we can go to Sam Goody.”

Alec drags himself out of the chair and to the trash can where he dumps his tray, and then to the clothing store where he and Simon wait on plush chaises while Maia tries on dresses.

“Can you guys stop acting like this is the last place you’d rather be?” Maia is standing in a knee-length mauve velvet dress, hands on her hips.

“This is the last place we’d rather be,” Alec says through a groan and receives a glare in return.

“Well, I think this is it. What do you think?” She holds her hands out and Alec rubs at his eyes to wipe the sleep away and watches as she slowly turns, eyeing them with a hesitant expression.

Simon gives her a thumbs up. “Gorgeous as always.”

Alec agrees. “Yeah, I like that one.”

She does a twirl. “I’m thinking with some black stockings and boots. Maybe a leather jacket.”

“You will look much cooler than either of us.”

She points at Simon. “I’m counting on you to go with me. Now that this loser has gone and found himself a hottie boyfriend and blew our plans of being the perfect prom trifecta.”

“Yeah, sorry I didn’t think of our prom plans when I asked Magnus out.”

Maia raises her middle finger at him, detecting his sarcasm.

“Does this mean I get to wear a velvet tux to match?” Simon asks, sporting a grin Alec can’t fathom ever bearing over the idea of wearing a velvet tuxedo.

“I’d be disappointed if you didn’t!” Maia runs up to Simon and gives him a high-five. “Okay, let me change and we’ll go.”

Simon and Alec wait for Maia outside the store while she checks out and she waves them down to follow her when she exits. The music store is overcrowded but the three of them squeeze their way through the aisles until they find the section they want. The music is always loud and there’s always a red-orange glow to the place from the neon lights outlining the room overhead, but it’s peaceful in its own way. Alec can always zone out when he slips on the headphones at the station that lets you sample the music from various albums. He closes his eyes and listens to the sampling of songs, only skipping every so often when one comes on that he doesn’t like.

He jumps when arms wrap around him from behind, covering his eyes, and relaxes the moment he recognizes the scent of a newly familiar cologne envelope him.

“Guess who,” Magnus whispers in Alec’s ear, so close it makes the hairs on his arms stand. His headphones are removed, left to dangle around his neck and Magnus pokes his head over Alec’s shoulder.

Alec looks over his shoulder and is met face to face with Magnus, his eyes lined heavily in black. Alec never knew he could like makeup so much.

“Hey,” Magnus says, soft and only for Alec to hear. He releases his hold on Alec and moves around to face him. “I didn’t expect to run into you here.”

“Maia dragged us out.” Alec points at Maia who is in the aisle off to the side, and Magnus gives her a wave. When Magnus looks at him again, Alec catches the look Maia sends him, complete with a smirk and a whisper to Simon who joins her with an impish grin of his own.

“Cat’s filling out paperwork to get her nose pierced. I thought I’d hop over here and listen to some music while I wait but, even better, I found you.”

Alec can swear he feels his stomach flutter and his chest pound when Magnus smiles at him, shoulders swaying ever so slightly—playfully. It’s his body playing tricks on him. The after effects of teenage hormones riding high after close physical contact with a cute boy. Bound to happen. Especially with a neck kiss. Even though it meant nothing and was for show. There’s only so much he can do to make his body stop being stupid on its own. It has a mind of its own and his mornings can testify to that. He sucks in a breath and smiles back. That’s all this is.

“A nice surprise, considering I wasn’t going to see you until Monday,” he says, surprising himself with how flirty he made it sound.

Magnus chuckles. “What were we thinking? Honestly.”

Alec slides the headphones off from around his neck and hangs them back on their hook. “I was thinking you might need a break before you get tired of my face.”

Magnus squints his eyes to focus on him, assessing him and Alec wants to shrink into himself, he has no idea what he looks like right now. He rolled out of bed, threw on this white t-shirt, jeans and jacket combination and that was it. Now he can’t help but worry about what Magnus sees when he looks at him. Magnus who is incredibly put together all the time, makeup on and somehow managing to wear a band t-shirt in a way that doesn’t look like he spends his days on the couch watching MTV and VH1 while eating Hot Fries.

“Oh Alexander, I don’t think that’s possible,” Magnus says, shaking his head and reaching up to cup Alec’s cheek in his hand.

He’s smiling and blushing before he can stop himself. His heart begins to beat wildly, his pulse drumming loudly, and his stomach quickens - hot. He reaches up to move Magnus’ hand but ends up holding it in place against his cheek instead.

It’s times like these Alec needs to repeat to himself that none of this is supposed to be real. That his pulse shouldn’t race at the slightest touch and his heart shouldn’t soar when he sees Magnus.

“I—”

“Just”—Magnus lifts his other hand to Alec’s face and he cradles it gently—“take my word for it.”

Alec nods, the word okay not coming out as he had hoped. Magnus’ lips curve into a tender smile and his thumb strokes along the shell of Alec’s ear when he pushes his hands back around Alec’s neck.

“And as much as I would like to stay and admire that face. I do have a best friend to tend to.”

He likes Alec’s face. He wants to admire it. Alec can’t process the information fast enough. His thoughts can’t keep up with his heart.

“Have fun. Tell Catarina I said hey,” Alec manages to say, finally, after standing around like a silent oaf.

Magnus leans in and presses a chaste kiss to Alec’s cheek and Alec’s mind stops.

“See you later,” he says and backs away with a small wave. When he’s gone, Alec stands there staring at the empty aisle in front of him, combing over everything Magnus said and how he looked at him.

“You’re in deep,” Simon says from beside him and Alec swallows.

He lets himself fully breathe and he presses his hand to his heart, feeling the rhythm beat hard for Magnus, his face glowing with the smile left behind.

“Fuck,” he whispers to no one but himself.

 

Chapter Text

Lead me out on the moonlit floor

Lift your open hand

Strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance

Silver moon's sparkling

- Six Pence None the Richer

 

“Are you going to the party tonight?” Maia asks, hopping on Simon’s back without warning. He’s so used to it he doesn’t even panic anymore.

He catches her and carries on as if someone didn’t just use him as a human chair. “Party? Whose?”

Simon reaches with one hand to unclip his red pager, probably to check his messages, as if he ever gets more than four a month from Alec and Maia who still haven’t gotten used to the whole two-way message thing. It’s not like this group has ever directly been invited to a party. Every party they’ve ever attended has always been by word of mouth and that mouth is usually Maia’s, seeing that she’s the ‘cool’ one out of their trio.

As expected, Simon frowns and tucks his pager away.

“Helen Blackthorn,” Maia continues, twirling her finger in a curl at Simon’s temple. “Apparently, her parents are gonna be out of town so she’s doing the cliche high school thing and throwing a party, complete with underage drinking.”

“Sounds fun,” Alec deadpans. It doesn’t, but he has a sinking feeling in his gut that either Maia and Simon are going to drag him there or Magnus will.

“You going?” Maia rests her chin on top of Simon’s head and they both focus four brown eyes up at him. “Magnus usually goes to these things.”

Alec looks at his pager to see if he’s gotten any sort of message from Magnus but he finds its screen grayed out and empty. Not entirely surprising, they’d stayed up late on the phone the night before so Magnus probably doesn’t have much more to say. “I don’t know. We haven’t discussed what we’re doing.”

He’s not even sure they’re hanging out this weekend. They didn’t last weekend but Magnus had made that comment and so Alec has found himself secretly hoping they will this weekend, but he also doesn’t expect Magnus to want to hang out with him every day. No matter how much Alec wants to, and Alec was too afraid to bring it up during their conversation.

“Well, if he doesn’t, you should come with us.”

Simon grins and curves his head to the side to try and look at her. “We’re going?”

“Of course we are.” Maia rolls her eyes at him. “And so is Alec.”

.

As he knew would happen, Alec’s at the party. Magnus had found Alec not too long after Simon and Maia did to invite him to come along. He told Alec he didn’t have to since they did say they would cross this bridge once the time came, but it was either this or staying home and watching Unsolved Mysteries with his mom; and no offense to his mom but there really never was a competition. Magnus would win. Every time.

Magnus guides him into the house by the hand and Alec leans down again to hear whatever it is he’s shouting at him. The party is obnoxiously loud and filled to the brim with sweaty teenagers. It smells like beer, fruity body spray and a heaping overdose of Cool Water cologne mixed with raging hormones. It’s nauseating.

“What?” Alec shouts again and Magnus rolls his eyes, tugging Alec down until his mouth is practically pressed against Alec’s ear, hot and wet and now Alec can’t focus on what he’s saying for an entirely different reason. But he hears the words ‘drink’ and ‘beer’ and so he nods at Magnus when he eventually pulls away.

“Which one?” Magnus asks.

“Beer.” Alec doesn’t normally drink, so he doesn’t care what Magnus brings back for him.

“I’ll be right back,” Magnus says quickly over his shoulder before disappearing in the mass of bodies.

Alec steps back into the other room that can barely be considered less crowded but has slightly more familiar faces so it feels like the safer bet. The music is a little less blaring in here, he can actually hear conversations, but the smell still lingers. Alec rubs at his nose and moves to stand by a  wall with a gallery of framed photos. He scans over the heads of the partygoers for curly hair or messy brown hair belonging to either of his best friends. He last heard from Simon and Maia a couple of hours ago when they called him at home and he had promised to look for them once he and Magnus arrived.

“Alec!”

He jumps when his teammate, Underhill, slaps him on the shoulder and pulls him into an unexpected bone crushing hug that Alec takes with a tight smile. Alec awkwardly pats his back in return, he doesn’t know what else to do considering they’ve never hugged like this before.  

“Underhill, hey!” Alec pulls back and finds Underhill beaming up at him. His gaze falls down and he raises a brow at the rainbow ribbon he has pinned above the Duck Head patch on his tri-colored shirt.

Underhill holds it out proudly. “I came out today, didn’t you hear?”

He blinks at his teammate while Whatta Man plays awkwardly in the shocked silence. Underhill watches him expectantly to react to his news. They’ve played soccer together for four years, he’s what Alec considers his soccer friend, they never got closer than that but during soccer season - at practice and games - they are pretty close. And not once did he ever suspect him to be gay.

“Wow, congrats,” Alec says, receiving another blinding smile from his friend. “I had no idea.”

Underhill quirks his head, a blonde curl falling haphazardly in the middle of his forehead. “Really?”

“Really.” Alec shrugs. “Should I have known? Did you know about me?”

“I was surprised — in a good way! I can’t believe we never realized this about each other. I thought for sure I was obvious. I’ve had like the biggest crush on”—a group of guys start chanting ‘chug’ and Alec misses the tail end of his sentence so he nods along, pretending he hears him—“but it’s no big deal. You’re with Magnus! That was unexpected. How’s that going?”

“It’s great.” That’s the understatement of the year but he can’t go into a monologue on how much he’s come to enjoy Magnus’ company and friendship. And how he might possibly - sort of - kind of - like him, only a little. “He’s great.”

Underhill’s mouth pulls back into a tight line. “So, it’s serious?”

“Uh—” Alec scratches at his brow. He really doesn’t know how to answer this. Underhill staggers over a little and leans an arm against the wall to catch himself. Alec feels less awkward about the conversation, Underhill is clearly drunk and probably won’t remember any of this. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“You guess?” Underhill snorts. “Does he not want to?”

“We haven’t really talked about it,” Alec answers quickly, narrowing his eyes on his friend. He doesn’t see how any of this is his business. “I’m sorry, why does this matter?”

Underhill throws back the rest of his drink in a single gulp, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand before glossy blue eyes find Alec again. “I’m just having a chat… just trying to talk. We don’t talk as much anymore…” He slurs and his eyes graze down Alec and settle on his hands. “You don’t have a drink!”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, Magnus is getting me one.”

“I’ve got a keg right over here, you want me to get you a beer? No sense in making you wait on Magnus.” Underhill swings his arm out to point in the direction of a small crowd huddled around a table set for beer pong.

Alec looks over his shoulder in the direction Magnus walked off in and back to Underhill. He shakes his head. “No thanks, Magnus has me covered.”

Underhill rocks back on his heels and Alec reaches out to catch him, gripping his elbows to guide him to a standing position. “You okay there?”

He nods, sluggishly.

“Maybe I should get you some water…”

He tips forward, resting his weight completely against Alec and wraps his arms around him in another lingering hug. He’s so drunk and Alec is completely out of his element here and entirely way too sober to deal with something like this. “Hey, is everything alright?”

His friend’s hum vibrates against him, face buried in his shoulder. “I’m fine right here,” he mumbles. “You smell good.”

“Thanks, I guess?” Alec pats him on the back and continues to stand there. He checks the room to see if he can spot any of Underhill’s closest friends. He has an incredibly drunk, newly out friend who has had way too much to drink this early in the night and Alec has no idea what to do with him.

“Alec?”

Alec sighs out a relieved breath. Magnus’ voice is the most welcome and pleasing sound he can hear right now. He tries to look over his shoulder at him but doesn’t have to because Magnus moves to stand where Alec can see him. He’s holding a red cup in each hand and curiously eyeing Underhill.

“Is that Magnus?” Underhill mutters into Alec’s shoulder again.

“It is. You think you can stand?”

Underhill releases his hug and stands with almost no trouble, lips pulling up when his eyes meet Alec. His expression is blank when he turns to Magnus. “Hey, Magnus.”

Magnus waves with a cup bearing hand. “Hi.”

Underhill looks at Alec again with a forced smile and pats him on the shoulder, thumb grazing, before stepping away.

Magnus approaches Alec slowly, extending a cup out to him. “Did I interrupt something?”

Alec takes the drink from Magnus and has a sip, wincing at the taste. “No, why?”

Magnus levels his gaze on Alec. “You and Underhill. I’m just saying, he’s out now and things were looking a little cozy.”

Alec points at himself. “Me and—no. Not at all. He was actually just telling me about how he came out. I think he must be emotional about it… ”

Magnus hums, and stares into his cup that he swirls a bit before taking a sip. “Well, if you’re interested in him... “

Alec pauses with his cup to his mouth and shakes his head. “Why would I be interested in him? We’re both gay but that doesn’t mean I have to be interested in him.”

Magnus rests a hand on Alec’s arm. “You know I didn’t mean it like that. I only meant to say that if you were, then you could try going out with him instead of fake dating me.” His mouth pulls back into a sad smile.

Alec looks down at the hand resting on him, only a few rings adorn his fingers and his nails are painted black today, yesterday they had been burgundy. Why Alec has allowed himself to notice these details is his own fault. The touch which is supposed to be comforting instead feels pitying and pathetic. And why shouldn’t it? He’s the one who’s paying Magnus a bogus amount of money to pretend to be his boyfriend and now he’s let himself humor the idea of possibly having a crush on the guy.

He pulls his arm away. He doesn’t want Magnus’ pity. “Do you want to call this off? Is that what you’re trying to get at?”

What?” Magnus lets his hand fall from where it was left hovering in the air where Alec’s arm had been. “I’m trying to give you an option if it’s what you want.”

“I’m not interested in Underhill. But if you want to call this off, we can. I don’t want to make you do something you don’t want to do.”

Magnus rolls his eyes at him. “You’re so dramatic. Drink your beer.” He takes a sip of his and motions Alec’s cup up to his mouth to do the same. Alec does, not caring for the sharp piss flavor of cheap beer.

When he’s successfully downed half of his cup he raises his brow at Magnus. “Happy?”

“What’s up with you?” There’s hurt or something like it looking back at Alec in Magnus’ brown eyes.

Alec doesn’t know what it is or what to think right now. Just last night they had been laughing on the phone and now, Alec feels like maybe this was all a mistake and he should let Magnus go.

Alec runs his fingers into his hair, stopping to scratch when he reaches the crown. He sneaks a quick look around to make sure no one is listening to them. “If you want to stop this, Magnus, please tell me now. I don’t feel comfortable pretending if you hate it.”

He waits, stomach heavy, completely unsure how he’ll feel if Magnus really wants out. He’ll respect the decision, that’s what he’ll do and he’ll go back to being single, and he’ll force himself to forget whatever it is that’s making its home in his heart whenever Magnus looks at him.

“I don’t hate it.” Magnus rests his hand on Alec’s shoulder and Alec breathes. “But I also don’t want to get in between anything if you do find yourself having feelings for someone else.”

Alec hates this. He hates that he let himself get caught up. “We agreed we’d be honest with each other if we ever wanted to end this… deal. So, trust me to do that.”

Magnus steps in closer, fingers curving into the fabric of Alec’s shirt with a reassuring weight that Alec leans into. “Okay. I will. Sorry I assumed.”

“It’s okay.” They’re supposed to be having fun, not discussing fake dating arrangements and bringing Alec back down to his sobering reality where he has a boyfriend but only because he’s paying for him. “Sorry I overreacted.”

“It’s okay.” Magnus shrugs a shoulder. “Steve seems your… type,” he says casually, lifting his cup to his lips.

Alec finishes his swallow of beer and crosses his arms. “My type? I’d love to hear what you think my type is.”

Magnus watches Underhill from across the room. “Tall, blonde, athletic, popular, probably going to some Ivy League University after this…”

Alec scoffs, rolling his eyes. Magnus barely knows him and yet he seems to have Alec pegged as this rich boy who only cares about status. As if everything else in Alec’s social life hasn’t been clear enough that yes, he may be rich, but he’s far from the popular jock who plans on joining a frat house the second he leaves high school.

“Magnus… ” Alec takes in a breath and chews on his lip before facing him. “I would appreciate it if you would stop treating me like I’m some shallow, little rich boy.”

Magnus’ eyes snap up from his drink to look at him. “I don’t—”

“You do,” Alec states, simply, because it’s the truth. This is how Magnus sees him. “I know none of this is real. I get that. I get that I’m paying for your time… and maybe this was stupid of me to hope for but I was hoping that we could at least be friends.”

The last part feels like a lie in light of his feelings the past week but it’s what he needs to be true.

Magnus’ eyes flicker over Alec’s face, mouth pulling into a frown. “I’m really fucking this up, aren’t I?”

Alec sighs and shakes his head. His assumptions may have irritated him, but Alec finds it hard to believe there’s a single thing Magnus could do to ‘fuck this up’. He enjoys him, more than he will probably ever admit out loud, or even to himself, but he does. Fake dating Magnus for three weeks has probably been the best three weeks of his senior year. As sad as that sounds.

“I am.” Magnus reaches through Alec’s crossed arms and takes his hand, unlacing his arms so he can hold it properly. It’s overwhelming how intimate this feels. How it sends Alec’s heart careening behind his ribs. “I know you’re more than your money, Alexander. I’ve seen it. And not just since we started this whole charade. I saw the way you defended Maia last year. I… I know you’re a good guy. I guess I let our differences speak more than I should have. I do consider you my friend though and I hope you consider me one of yours.”

Alec made himself put the kiss from the other day out of his mind. He gave himself last night to dwell on it one last time, to ponder and daydream, and that was all. Now, the memory of the smooth skin of Magnus’ neck beneath his lips is back. He doesn’t know why it springs up out of nowhere, especially now of all times. So he pushes it back and brings the back of Magnus’ hand to his lips instead. He lays a kiss against Magnus’ knuckles and says, “Of course I do.”

He wishes he could say he doesn’t like the way Magnus’ cheeks flush or the way his lips curl into a smile when he pulls himself closer to him. But he does, he loves it.

“Can I still tease you for being a spoiled brat who drives a Range Rover?” Magnus goads, sliding a hand along Alec’s waist, tickling him with fluttering fingers.

Alec laughs and tries to squirm out of Magnus’ touch. “I guess that’s fine. And a little accurate.”

Magnus takes a sip of his beer, licks his lips and lifts his cup to Alec’s mouth. “Drink up. Let’s have fun.”

He’s pretty sure underage drinking ‘fun’ is not on his list of things to do for a good time but Magnus’ face is flushed after another cup and a half of beer and he’s laughing raucously at something Simon is telling him, and this is honestly the most fun Alec has had in a long time.

Alec looks up and sees stars twinkling through tree branches. He doesn’t know when they ended up outside or how the music is playing loudly out here without anyone being concerned of getting caught. Although this neighborhood is pretty isolated, it’s a big yard, the neighbors are probably not even close enough to hear what’s going on. The perks of being from a rich, affluent family. A big house with a big ass property to go with it. It’s what he used to live in before his parents divorced. He hated it. He much prefers their house on the bluff now, no backyard, just a drop off and a view.

He smiles when he hears Maia’s tipsy singing along to Jewel, pretending to strum a guitar. She’s sitting in the grass, swinging her head side-to-side. Alec doesn’t know what he should focus on, singing along to the song he likes or the conversation going on between Magnus and Simon. He should focus on either of those, anything besides what he is focusing on, which is how his body is half draped around Magnus where he sits in a tire swing an arm reaching back, fingers playing in Alec’s hair at the nape of his neck. They’re the perfect snapshot of a high school couple. They’re exactly what they’re supposed to be, and pretending to be this way is so easy. Holding Magnus’ hand, wrapping an arm around his waist, rocking them back and forth on the swing, letting him play with his hair, it all comes so easily to Alec.

“What’s going on in that pretty head of yours?” Magnus slurs into Alec’s ear, his head leaning back onto Alec’s chest.  

Magnus twines his arms around Alec’s neck. His eyes are glassy, his breath smells like beer and nicotine. Alec’s sure his smells of stale and bitter beer and his face looks the same but worse. He knows, without looking in a mirror, his hair is a mess from Magnus playing with it all night and he should care that every bitter breathed word is falling against Magnus’ lips. He should care that he’s close enough to taste each of Magnus’ breaths on his own, but he doesn’t. He loves it. “Nothing. I’m enjoying the company.”

“My company?” Magnus asks, voice drawling slow and sultry.

“Obviously.” Alec pulls Magnus in tighter at the waist, and the swing rocks back into him causing Magnus to let out a fit of laughter, his hands grappling onto Alec.

“Don’t you dare knock us over, Alexander,” he warns between giggles.

Alec laughs and shushes him, tightening his arms around Magnus’ waist until he can’t possibly get any closer. “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.”

Magnus tips his head back and pecks a quick kiss to Alec’s jaw. “You better.”

There’s no way, without revealing his budding feelings, that he can convey to Magnus just how much he’s starting to fall under his spell. How he always wants Magnus to be as happy as he is right now. How he’s cataloging every smile and laugh for himself, keeping them close because they bring him happiness.

Magnus’ lips curve playfully and Alec’s heart plays along, skipping at the sight. “I think people are expecting us to put on a show,” he whispers.

The party is in full bloom around them but Alec can distinctly feel dozens of eyes watching them, waiting for something they can take a Polaroid of and gossip about tomorrow.

Magnus draws his bottom lip in and wets it with his tongue. And just like that, Alec is thinking about the kiss on his neck, the fantasies he’d let himself entertain before bed. He finds himself inching dangerously closer and closer to the imaginary line they’ve never discussed about crossing. A line Alec never intended to cross because it’s not like this is real. But then again… everyone thinks it is and right here, if Magnus were his boyfriend, he’d want to kiss him. He would kiss him. And if Magnus were actually his boyfriend, he might let him.

“Wow, get a room,” Simon cuts in and Magnus laughs, wafting warm and inviting into Alec’s parted lips.

“Am I not allowed to admire my boyfriend in public?” Magnus keeps his arms around Alec’s neck and makes no motion to move, only turning his head to address Simon, exposing the length of his neck.

Alec has never claimed to be perfect or even close, but he did think he had better self control than what he’s exhibiting right now. Without thinking and without clear judgement, he buries his face in Magnus’ neck, brushing his nose into the soft hairs at the base, breathing in the faint traces of whatever shampoo he uses and the heady notes of his cologne.

He at least has enough sense to not kiss him but he does feel Magnus laugh against him when he speaks, “Yeah, Simon, let me admire my boyfriend in public.”

There’s a groan, followed by a body dropping unceremoniously into the grass with a thud. “I can’t believe you two are necking again. First at practice and now here.”

Alec follows the voice and finds Catarina grinning at them, red cup in one hand, a joint in the other.

“Cat!” Magnus shouts, only removing one arm from around Alec’s neck to wave at her. “We are not necking, we’re just being our cute selves.”

“Uh-huh.” Catarina looks at Maia and Simon and blows out smoke before offering her joint to them. “Have they been making out all night?”

“I’d call it intense cuddling.” Simon gestures at them and accepts the joint.

It’s no wonder they look like they need to get a room, with the way Alec is holding him around his waist, Magnus clinging to him. Alec chuckles and he sways clumsily along with the tire swing.

“They’ve been perfect gentlemen,” Maia interjects, stopping her singing to defend their honor. “They haven’t even kissed once. You’d think they have something to hide.”

“Nothing to hide, my dears.” Magnus cradles Alec’s face in his palm, steadying him. “I’m saving Alexander’s kisses for later.” He flicks Alec’s bottom lip with the tip of his finger and a laugh escapes at the popping sound it makes.

Alexander ,” Simon swoons through held breath, passing the joint to Maia.

Magnus’ eyes look glazed but they sparkle with moonlight, star shine and a little something else. “Although, if you don’t stop talking about it, you’re going to make me cave.”

“That would make me the happiest guy alive,” Simon says, blowing out - too excited.

“Simon, that’s one of the weirdest fucking things you’ve said and you’ve said some strange shit.” Maia plucks Simon’s drink from his hand and begins to drink it.

“Look how cute they are. You’re buggin’ if you don’t want them to kiss.”

“Your mom is buggin’,” Maia mutters. Simon scoffs and she breaks out into a fit of her contagious laughter.

Alec has almost forgotten Magnus’ hand still cupping his jaw until his ringed thumb trails against his bottom lip.

“What about you?” Magnus asks, voice low - between the two of them - the others falling away into the background. “Would that make you happy?”

The sky spins around them but Magnus isn’t. Magnus is still and his center. Alec’s supposed to answer as a fake boyfriend, he’s not supposed to say the truth. His eyes drop to Magnus’ lips and what he should or shouldn’t say doesn’t matter, the truth and the lie are both the same.

“Very,” he whispers.

Magnus smiles, eyes drifting to a close. “Me too.”

He pulls Alec in, fingers curling in his hair behind his ear and huffs out a quiet chuckle when he angles his jaw up. Alec smiles, dipping his head down to meet him, eyes falling shut and without any hesitation, kisses him.

Magnus hums and sparks fly in Alec’s chest, time stands still, the wind sighs around them, and nothing else matters.

He presses in a little more against the slightly parted lips. They don’t make any move to deepen it or put on a show. Alec wants to savor Magnus’ lips just like this. Soft and warm and malty.

He does his best to keep his breath steady when he pulls back and finds Magnus smiling back at him.

“Happy?” Magnus asks in a whisper.

Alec tries to answer but he’s distracted by the distinct sound of Simon cooing and he laughs, dropping his head against Magnus.

“Happy?” Magnus asks between laughs, louder this time and it’s not a question for Alec. Although his answer is a resounding yes .

Simon chatters on excitedly and his voice fades. All Alec can hear is the happy trill of Magnus’ chuckles, all he can see is his smile.

Perhaps it’s the alcohol drowning out all logical thought and causing his body to feel every echo of Magnus’ joy. Or maybe it’s the sparkling moonlight shining on Magnus’ wet lips when he smiles back at him, or the stars glimmering around them. Maybe it’s everything all together and all at once. Perhaps he will regret this in the morning, but right now, Alec is happy.

.

Magnus climbs off the grass from beside Alec, holding onto his hand for balance. He honestly didn’t think he drank this much but if the way everything is twirling beneath him is proof of anything, it’s that he’s crossed the line from tipsy into flat out drunk. And by the looks of Alec with his pink cheeks and red nose, he’s not faring much better.

Catarina gives him a tight hug and he can hear her telling him that Ragnor has come to pick her up. She’s asking if he needs a ride and he can hear himself telling her that he rode with Alec. She tells him to stay and to be careful and leaves.

Alec stands beside him, fiddling with his keys, and suddenly they’re inside. He’s staring down at them, brows furrowed, eyes squinting tight.

He licks his lips and tips in to whisper, “Magnus, I don’t think I can drive like this.”

His eyelids are heavy but Magnus tries to look at him anyway. “I think you’re right. Maybe we can sleep in it?”

“In the car?” Alec scratches at his head.

“I guess so?” Magnus takes a look around the room, the party is officially over, almost everyone is gone. He doesn’t even want to think about all the people who left this party drunk. He distinctly remembers their friends having sober rides and that’s enough to have Magnus not worry too much.

Helen turns the corner, laughing at something someone is saying behind her. She halts in her tracks when she sees them and frowns at the keys in Alec’s hands.

“Oh no you don’t,” she scolds, walking up to Alec and plucking the keys out of his grasp. She turns them both and guides them with a hand on each of their backs. “You two can sleep off your hangovers in here.”

She urges them into a guest bedroom, lit only by a small lamp on the nightstand, where a temptingly comfortable bed is situated perfectly beside it.

“Are you sure?” Magnus hears Alec say to her. “I don’t want to be a bother. I can sleep in my car if you—”

“Nope!” is all she says before pushing them in and slamming the door shut behind them.

Magnus totters over to the bed and drops down to kick his shoes off. Alec follows after him and leans against the frame of the bed, slumping all of his weight on it as he steps on the heel of one shoe to slide his foot out and does the same for the other. He seems to be lost in his own world, taking off his black denim jacket and tossing it onto the floor. He’s hooking his fingers at the hem of his shirt, about to pull it off when he looks up and realizes Magnus is still there.

Magnus waves at him and he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy the way Alec blushes over every little thing.

“Sorry, I’m… too drunk apparently,” Alec stumbles out and drops his weight onto the bed, groaning flat on his back. “Give me a minute and I’ll… I’ll sleep on the floor.”

Magnus frowns and lays back beside him. “You’re not sleeping on the floor. I’ll sleep on the floor.”

Alec snorts and rolls onto his side to face Magnus. His eyes are closed and he already looks half asleep but he slides his hand across the space between them and pokes Magnus’ hand. “Hold my hand,” he mumbles, voice pouting out the demand.

Magnus chuckles and obliges. How could he not?

“Why don’t we… sleep here?” Alec whispers. “I promise I’ll be a gentleman.”

“Do I have to promise to be the same?” Magnus teases and Alec smirks lazily against the mattress. “I’m kidding.”

“Okay. Let’s get under the blankets,” Alec says, his voice stronger and taking on a determination that doesn’t move beyond that because he lays there. “I can’t move. My body feels like it’s five-hundred pounds.”

Magnus laughs and tries to wriggle his body enough to push the blankets down from under their bodies. “ Alexander ,” he whines.

“Hm?”

“You have to at least try to move a little.”

Magnus lets go of Alec’s hand and the whine that slips out of him is adorable. He pouts and with more trouble than should be necessary, he uses his arms to push himself up enough for Magnus to untuck the blanket beneath him. When he gets it down far enough to guarantee they can cover themselves, Alec lets his weight drop and with more grace than Magnus knew was possible, tucks his long legs underneath the blankets and makes himself comfortable in an instant.

“Your turn,” Alec mutters, patting the spot in front of him and squints one eye open to look at Magnus.

Magnus is drunk; that’s what he can blame everything on tomorrow when he doesn’t want to face the consequences of all his actions tonight that have definitely gone past fake boyfriend duties. Like kissing Alec earlier. He didn’t have to. Their friends didn’t really care if they saw them kiss. They were being supportive and Simon was being silly. They would have dropped the subject and they would have been none the wiser. But Magnus didn’t ignore them. He wanted the excuse. He can admit that in this state. And Alec, playing along because this is their arrangement, had agreed.

Magnus crawls into bed beside Alec, pulling the covers over them both.

It’s not like the kiss was more than a glorified peck on the lips. He gives Catarina quick pecks on the mouth all the time and it’s entirely platonic. Although, they don’t part their mouths or linger in any way. They don’t make Magnus’ head feel like it’s floating in the clouds or like he has stars bursting in his chest. But still, Magnus rationalizes –as much as he can with his drunk brain– they’re friends and fake boyfriends.

He sighs into his pillow and Alec scooches in closer to his back.

Magnus has shared a bed with Catarina, like this, all the time. Friends.

Alec moans, a displeasured sound cutting through the silence that’s taken over the entire house. “Remind me in the morning that I at least had a good time.”

Magnus smiles and rolls over to his other side to face Alec. Their eyes meet in the dim light and something in Alec’s shines in the moonlight pouring in from the window across the room. This is a side of Alec Lightwood not many people get to see. The boy who is popular in his own way but still plays Dungeons & Dragons with his friends; who wants to be known for more than his family’s money and who was weird enough to suggest having a fake boyfriend to someone who was practically a total stranger. Three weeks ago Magnus never would have thought he’d be here, sharing a bed with Alec and silently memorizing every faint freckle on his face. He hopes in the morning he can remember the way he sees Alec now, beautiful and at peace.

“I had a great time,” Magnus says.

Alec closes his eyes and covers Magnus’ hand with his own, curling his fingers against his palm. He moves in closer again, their knees slotting together, their hands joined. Magnus hears the soft hum he makes as he nuzzles into the pillow, his breaths falling softly. Magnus closes his eyes and welcomes the hot press of lips against his forehead.

“Good night, Magnus,” Alec says, his lips brushing the fine hairs of Magnus’ hairline.  

Tomorrow Magnus might regret this but tonight, this is all that he wants.

Chapter Text

If you don't turn and walk away
'Cause the way I feel I might
Lose control and let you stay'
'Cause I could take you in my arms
And never let go
-Selena 

 

Regret is an ugly emotion, and not one Magnus usually allows himself. Life’s too short to have regrets and he’s way too young to have any. But right now, he’s regretting the fourth—or was it his fifth—beer. The sunlight is too… sunny and it burns when he even tries to open his eyes. He’s quite sure his mouth has never felt so dry in his entire life nor his head so heavy. He buries his face in the soft cotton of a t-shirt and groans. Something tightens around his waist and he hears a chuckle rumble against him.

“That tickled,” Alec mumbles tiredly and the words reverberate from beneath Magnus’ cheek.

He forces his eyes open from where he’s pressed against Alec’s chest. Of course. He shifts in place, trying to figure out where all of his limbs are, the arm beneath him is pressed awkwardly into the mattress between them, his hand wedged beneath what he assumes is Alec’s hip. His other hand is—he moves up across smooth skin over the corded muscles along Alec’s spine—definitely not where it should be.

“Kill me, Alexander,” he mutters, his voice muffled into Alec’s chest.

Alec chuckles again and then groans. “Ow, ow, ow. Don’t make me laugh.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t laugh at me,” Magnus mumbles, closing his eyes again. He can’t move. Someone is going to have to come in here and pry him from this spot.

Aside from his throbbing headache and how warm he is, Alec smells like the fresh laundry you catch on the breeze when you walk by someone’s house who has the dryer running and it reminds him of windy summer days from his childhood. So, yeah, he’s going to stay right here.

“How long do you think Helen will let us lay here feeling like death before she kicks us out?” Alec mumbles, sliding his hand down Magnus’ back and onto his waist.

A quiver runs down Magnus’ spine, following Alec’s path. “Hopefully all day.”

Alec starts to laugh and the sound quickly turns to a low moan. “But breakfast.”

“Yeah… we should probably eat if we don’t want to feel like shit for the rest of the day.”

“Okay… I’m going to move on three.” Alec exhales and it tickles the strands of Magnus’ hair. “One… two…”—Magnus tightens his grip on Alec’s waist and Alec barks out a loud laugh that Magnus happily drinks in—“you said we needed to eat.”

“Don’t be such an early morning buzzkill.”

Alec gathers Magnus in closer, giving in with a stroke down his back. “Fine. You win.”

“That was too easy,” Magnus says with a short chuckle, burying his face closer until Alec’s heartbeat thumps against his cheek.

“What can I say… I’m comfortable.” Alec exhales and Magnus feels Alec’s chin graze the top of his head and he’s reminded of the night before. Their kisses in the moonlight, one in front of their friends, the other in the privacy of their own company before they drifted off to sleep.

Magnus pinches his eyes shut. What is he doing? They have no audience right now, it’s the two of them behind closed doors. And yet… Alec’s hand glides lazily up and down his side and Magnus relaxes under his touch. And yet…

“You’re going to put me back to sleep,” Magnus whispers.

“Then sleep. I don’t have anywhere to be.”

The offer is tempting. Magnus starts to drift off again. “What about breakfast?”

“We’ll get lunch,” Alec says, his voice heavy and tired again. “Unless you want me to stop?”

Magnus hums, shaking his head, making himself even more comfortable in the arms that hold him. “We’ll get lunch.”

Alec holds him close and glides his hand in a comforting sway across Magnus’ back. Magnus melts into him, forgets the swirling in his head, forgets the punching pain behind his eyes, and lets Alec guide them back to sleep.

.

They jolt awake to Helen knocking on the door, shouting about how her parents are on their way home and they need to leave. They scramble out of bed, slide on their shoes, throw on their jackets and rush out the door. They thank her and she yells after them that they better have not had sex in there.

Magnus fumbles into Alec’s car and doubles over laughing. He’s never woken up, gotten dressed, and left a house so quickly in his life. Alec is laughing too, holding his head and crying ouch, ouch, ouch between laughs.

“My fucking head.” Alec starts the car and takes his beeper out of the cup holder where he left it overnight. “Gonna make sure my mom didn’t page me.”

“Where does she think you are?”

Alec tosses the beeper back into the cupholder and puts his car into gear. “Simon’s. Yours?”

Magnus leans his seat back. “Ragnor’s.”

“Okay, Magnus, I have an important question.” Alec guides the car out of the neighborhood. Magnus worries for a moment that Alec is going to mention their kiss the night before, or the fact they woke up and then went back to sleep in each other’s arms. But Alec stops at a stop sign, turns to him and asks, “breakfast or lunch?”

He smiles warmly with a cocked smile and gazes at Magnus, expecting only an answer to this simple question. Effectively erasing all doubt and worry with the one look.

“Both,” Magnus says, returning the smile and Alec looks back at the road, lips pursed in thought.

“Okay, I think I know just the place.” He looks both ways before making a right turn out of the neighborhood.

Magnus tries to turn on the stereo but no matter how much he loves Matchbox Twenty, it’s too much for both of their heads and they agree to go without music until they can nurse their hangovers with greasy food and lots of fluids.

Alec pulls into the parking lot of a small diner and parks in the first spot he finds available. “Breakfast food, lunch, dinner, whatever you want.”

Magnus’ stomach growls. “Sounds perfect.”

They choose a booth in the back corner by the jukebox. There are kids standing in front of it, discussing seriously amongst themselves over their song choices. The server waits by the table, ready to take their order with a pad in hand.

“A coffee, orange juice, and water, please,” Alec says, sliding into the booth.

She jots down his drink order and looks at Magnus. “I’ll have the same, thanks.”

Alec hands Magnus a single plastic coated menu. “I might get one of everything. I’m starving.”

Magnus chuckles and flips his menu to the breakfast side. The options are basic but cover all the categories he could possibly want. And right now, he’s so hungover, he wants a little bit of everything.

They read over their menus and place their orders when the server comes back with all of their drinks.

Alec prepares his coffee, a lot of creamer and Magnus loses track of the sugar Alec pours in there. He stirs it, takes a long sip and finally looks as if he’s ready to wake for the day.

Magnus finishes stirring his coffee and licks the spoon clean. “I think I remember you asking me to remind you that you did have fun last night.”

“I did.” Alec drinks more of his coffee and digs his fingertips into his brow. “I think I also sang Alanis Morissette with Maia?”

“And Cat.”

Alec covers his face with his hands.

“I’m impressed with the amount of rage you were able to put into your performance,” Magnus teases.

“I’m starting to wish we’d both drank enough to not remember,” Alec mumbles into his hands and then laughs to himself.

“I think I remember all of it.” Magnus pauses for the server to set down the plate of biscuits with jelly. “Do you?”

Alec spreads his fingers to peek at him and then rubs them down his face, dragging the skin under his eyes down with him. “I do.”

“Do we need to talk about it?”

Magnus distracts himself and smears the grape jelly on his biscuit. He watches as Alec does the same and waits while Alec bites into it, the strawberry jelly dripping into the crease of his lips. He chews in silence, licks up the stray jelly and drinks half of his orange juice.

“We kissed,” Alec says this so matter of factly it honestly catches Magnus off guard but he’s willing to go down this road if it’s the way Alec wants to go.

“We did,” Magnus replies cautiously, trying his best to gauge Alec’s reaction. “Is that a problem?”

Alec shakes his head, not meeting his eyes, and drinks more of his juice.

Magnus laces his fingers together and places them in front of him on the table. “Look, I’m just going to ask… was that your first kiss?”

Alec wipes his mouth with his napkin and looks offended up at Magnus. “No, of course not,” he bites out.

Magnus flinches. “Sorry, I was only wondering since… you know, you haven’t come out. Who was it?”

“Lydia.”

“Lydia?”

“Branwell. She was in our class, eighth grade.” Alec goes back to eating his biscuit.

“So you kissed Lydia in eighth grade.”

“Homecoming dance,” Alec clarifies.

“Mhm… and when did you figure out you were gay?”

“Eighth grade. Homecoming dance, right after I kissed her.” Alec holds back a laugh. “I still feel so bad about that.”

Magnus laughs. “Please don’t tell me you kissed her and then told her you were gay.”

“No! I waited until I went home and then called her.”

Magnus covers his mouth, trying not to choke on the mouthful of orange juice. “Alexander!”

“I didn’t say, ‘kissing you made me realize I’m gay’ or anything. I think I said something like, ‘I had a lot of fun but my parents said I’m not old enough to have a girlfriend.’ Always blame it on the parents.”

Magnus sets his glass down. “Somehow that seems worse.”

Alec shrugs. “Better than leading her on. And she’s moved away now so it’s not like she’s around to find out about me now.”

“Very true.” Magnus leans forward, elbows on the table. “Have you ever kissed a boy?”

“You,” he says. Alec’s eyes are deep green when he looks up at him with such open honesty, it’s almost too much for Magnus to focus on so he gazes out the window instead.

The sunshine beams onto the thick patch of green bushes Magnus knows will bloom with honeysuckles this summer. It reminds him of his first kiss in the summertime, their sweet scent in the air. Things may not have worked out with Imasu but he will always remember his first kiss with fond nostalgia. Imasu wasn’t right for him but Magnus had felt he was at the time, which is how a first kiss should be.

He can sense Alec’s eyes still on him and so he faces him again. “Alexander, if I—”

“Magnus, don’t. Okay? Don’t make this weird. You asked, I said yes, it was just a kiss. We don’t have to make it a big deal.”

Magnus wants to point out the fact Alec didn’t say a simple ‘yes’ to the offer. He’d said it’d make him happy. ‘Very’ was the word he’d used. And Magnus had said the same in kind. Suddenly the tenderness of their kiss means a whole lot more. The way Alec squeezed his eyes shut and pressed into him. That kiss was the first time he’d let himself have something he wanted. And while Magnus may not be his real boyfriend or even someone he has feelings for beyond friendship, he’s still a guy. He’s something Alec has never allowed himself to have and now he has.

And what a difference one kiss had made in him. He’d held Magnus closer, touched him more, held his hand as much as he could, and then, he’d held him while they slept. He’d kissed Magnus on the forehead. But that’s something Magnus will keep to himself. He’s sure Alec remembers but Magnus doesn’t want to talk about it. He wants to keep their kiss a secret between them. A secret even to them; but one Magnus won’t forget and one he can still feel when he closes his eyes.

Alec arranges the numerous plates of food on their table and cuts his waffle into precise squares. Magnus follows suit and takes his time to prepare his food as well, drizzling syrup over his pancakes and cutting his club sandwich in two pieces. He offers the other half of his sandwich to Alec and he accepts it with a gracious smile before taking a bite.

“Look, that may have been my first kiss but the way I see it…” Alec wipes away a small dollop of mayo from his mouth. “It could have been under worse circumstances. My first kiss could’ve been with some douchebag who only wanted to get in my pants. It could have been with someone who I would quit talking to in a week. At least with you… it was a friend, you know?”

Magnus can understand that. His first kiss is at least safe with him. And while they may not be more and even though they’re set to expire after graduation, Magnus will cherish the honor of being Alec’s first kiss. “I guess you have a point. At least this way there’s no heartbreak involved.”

He has his doubts on how true that is—how deep into this fake relationship they can go and still come out unscathed. Hearts are funny things. He learned that early on with Imasu and then with Camille. Both times he threw himself, heart first, into the relationships and both times he ended up at Catarina’s - crying and listening to Bon Jovi and Toni Braxton, wallowing in his heartbreak.

Yes, these tender moments between them lately have had Magnus wondering a quiet what if in the back of his mind but now, watching Alec scarf his food down, he thinks maybe this is possible. If they go into this head first, hearts separate, as friends, then they can come out of this on their own terms. Two whole hearts and one strong friendship.  

Alec points his fork at the small pile of strawberries beside Magnus’ pancakes. “You gonna eat those?”

Magnus pushes his plate closer to Alec. “Have at it.”

Alec picks one and pops it in his mouth. “Finding true love in high school is not something that happens to everyone and I never expected it to,” he begins, carefully considering each word with furrowed brow, “not saying we can’t fall in love at this age but… what are the odds, you know?”

“So you’re not a romantic?”

Alec frowns, thinks on it while he chews, and shakes his head. “I’m not saying it’s not possible and I’m not saying I don’t believe. It’s rare. That’s all.”

Magnus takes a bite of pancake and washes it down with his coffee. “Well… can’t say I completely disagree with you. I’ve had my high school relationships and they’ve sucked and each time I was not quite sure what exactly I felt. Both times I thought it was love. Young and dumb, I suppose.”

“Not dumb, just young.” Alec’s mouth pulls up on one side for a smile. “You’ll make a better choice the next time, I’m sure.”

Magnus is pretty sure he’s already failed that test by even entering into this agreement. “I hope,” he says.

Alec holds the sandwich up as if to bite it but stops short, picks off a falling piece of lettuce and discards it. He runs his tongue over his teeth and blinks up at Magnus, meeting his expression with a serious one of his own. “I’m happy you were my first kiss. I trust you.”

“You do?” The quiet question sounds disbelieving even to his own ears.

Alec nods. “Yeah. You could have said no to my offer, outed me, you could have done a lot of things… but you didn’t. And I don’t know, there’s something about you that makes me feel like we were meant to be friends—like I can talk to you.”

“I feel the same way,” Magnus says.

Alec stuffs the other half of his sandwich in a single bite. It fills his cheeks and he chews slowly and smiles at Magnus, cheeks full of food, tomato juice and mayonnaise leaking at the corners of his closed mouth.

Magnus grimaces and throws a napkin at his face. “You’re disgusting. I can’t believe I kissed you last night.”

Alec smiles as wide as he can with his full mouth and more juice falls from the cracks. “But you did.”

“I am suddenly filled with regret.” Magnus smiles down at his plate, spearing a few pieces of his pancakes to the sound of Alec laughing and then coughing because he apparently never learned to eat like a civilized person.

The kids in the booth behind Alec start singing to one of their song choices. Loud, small voices, singing along to The Cure as if they know what it’s like to be in love on a Friday. Alec bobs his head to the song, chewing and smiling at the chorus going on behind him.

Magnus hums the chords and giggles at the constant swishing sound the kids’ neon nylon windbreakers make while they try to dance. Alec ducks his head closer to the table and narrowly avoids an arm being waved in dance. He shifts closer to the table and Magnus feels one of his legs stretch beneath the table, brushing against his own and resting there, pressing together while they finish their meals. Magnus lowers his eyes to his plate and hums along to the song until he no longer notices the rushing of his heart from the touch.

Friday came with a fluttering heart and a kiss. Now, Friday is over between them; it’s Saturday and all Magnus can do is wait and hope he’s learned.   

.

Magnus twists the combination on his locker, yanking sharply up on the metal handle because he was assigned the most cursed locker in the entire high school. Catarina finishes her rant on student photographers and Magnus catches her smile in time to notice his books being plucked out of his arms.

He scoffs, no annoyance behind the sound and turns to Alec. “I told you I’m perfectly capable of carrying my own books.”

Alec slides the books in the locker and then leans against it, one arm overhead on the other side of Magnus. “I know you are.”

Catarina chuckles and slaps Magnus’ shoulder with the lanyard carrying her keys. “I’ll see you in a minute. Don’t be late.” She waves at Alec and walks off towards the staircase at the end of the hall.

“You staying after school?” Alec asks once she’s gone.

Magnus nods. “Yearbook. We got photos back that we’re going to sort through.”

“Ah, well, I was coming to tell you that I’m gonna see if one of the guys will stay after practice with me. I need to train before our next bracket of matches.”

“I’d offer my services as well but I imagine you need an actual challenge.”

Alec chuckles. “Maybe just a bit,” he says, squinting an eye and holding his hand up to show a tiny space between his index finger and thumb. “If you still need a ride, you can stick around and I’ll give you one after?”

“My, my Alexander, getting frisky for a Wednesday afternoon.”

Alec cants his head, confused and then in the next instant his face turns red and he’s stuttering out a mess of nothing until Magnus holds his fingers up to his lips and quiets him.

“I’m joking.”

Alec sputters, nervous and awkward. “Right.”

Magnus giggles and slams his locker shut. “Cat’s gonna give me a ride so you don’t have to worry about me.”

“Okay, well if anything changes… you know where to find me.”

Alec lingers and a week of saying goodbyes and never getting to kiss him really sucks. He gives Alec’s shoulder a light punch. It’s the most stupid and friendly dude gesture he’s ever done in his entire life and he hates himself for it. And Alec probably does too if the way he looks—confused and put off—at the punched spot is any indication to go by.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Magnus rushes out and brisk walks to get away from something he will definitely look back on in fifteen years and feel mortification over all over again.

Catarina is waiting for him at their shared space in the empty classroom, pictures spread all around her. She doesn’t even look up from her work when she hands him an envelope full of pictures, which he’s thankful for or she might see the lingering look of mortification he’s still wearing, and then question him relentlessly until he gives in.

“Good Lord, how did they find that many things to take pictures of?” he jokes, putting the awkward encounter behind him.

She eventually looks up at him and points with her pencil. “That envelope is for sports.”

His mouth curls into a smirk and he sits down, dramatically crossing his legs, situating himself comfortably. “Well, don’t mind if I do…”

She laughs. “Soccer pictures are towards the back.”

Bless his friend for knowing exactly what kind of content he’s here for. He flips through until he sees the first signs of a soccer game. It’s a bunch of  pictures of the whole field, of Underhill who plays a forward - according to Alec - which explains the multiple action shots of him and the other forward, Duncan.

“Blah, blah, blah, blah,” Magnus complains picture after picture and Catarina snorts out a laugh. “Bingo!” He tosses the other pictures aside and focuses on the picture of Alec standing in the goal. “Front cover,” Magnus says and sets it beside Catarina.

“As if,” she scoffs with a laugh, not even humoring him with a look.

“Wait, no, I take that back. Front - cover - material.” He gently and reverently lays a photograph of Alec lunging in front of the goal.

She laughs. “I’m not putting your sweaty boyfriend’s ass on the front cover.”

“Fair enough, under the sports section header.” He waggles his brows and she looks at him out of the corner of her eye. She slides the picture towards her and places it in a specific pile.

“That. I can do.” She gestures at the pictures in Magnus’ hands with her pencil. “That’s a good one.”

He looks down. The photo was taken with black and white film, zoomed in close enough Magnus can see a bead of sweat frozen forever in time at the edge of Alec’s eye, exactly where Magnus knows if Alec smiles, a line forms, crinkling the skin with his laughter. He examines the photo longer than he would normally allow himself unless in the privacy of his own room but he can’t help himself, and he doesn’t care if Catarina sees him openly moved by the work of art he’s holding.

“Keep it. We have doubles,” she says bumping into him with her shoulder. “You love-sick puppy.”

Magnus swallows and laughs it off. “I’m not.”

“You don’t have to pretend here,” is all she says and her smile grows as she turns to a picture in her stack. “Can’t hide what’s there for everyone to see.” She holds out a picture to him and his entire body freezes the moment he touches it.

It’s a picture of him and Alec. A candid shot taken in the hallway: Magnus is leaning back against the lockers, Alec in front of him, smiling down at him and Magnus looks completely and utterly swept away. It’s jarring to see what he’s been fighting so hard to ignore but Catarina is right, you can’t hide what’s there for everyone to see.

“I think that one should be for the student life section. Gretel is in charge of making the collage, she’ll love it.” Catarina sifts through her pictures and pulls out a copy for Magnus. “You want the double?”

“Sure,” he chokes out, accepting a copy from her. ‘Sure’ is not exactly how he feels right now - he simultaneously wants to frame the picture and tear every copy of it to shreds so no one can ever see the look on his face. But he won’t do that to Catarina, his co-editor for the yearbook, they’ve worked too hard on this for him to take something she clearly thinks should be in there. Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane’s fake relationship for everyone to see and remember; and ten years down the road when they all meet again, these books will be there for everyone to gawk at and reminisce over.

He hopes ten years is enough time to effectively erase something from your memory. Then maybe he’ll get out of this unscathed.

Catarina snaps and he jumps at the sound. “Work. I don’t want to be here all night.”

Magnus rolls his shoulders and puts aside the pictures. After their talk last weekend, he’s felt he’s done well with moving forward with his friendship with Alec. They’ve done friend things, like talk on the phone too much, exchange favorite movies, tease each other, all things Magnus does with anyone else - except they sometimes hold hands and touch a little more than is casual. But as for his heart, it’s been tamed, only barely picking up speed when Alec smiles or when Magnus hears him laugh. It rarely pangs when he looks in Alec’s eyes. Things are moving along smoothly. The fact that this picture shows him being a little too into Alec doesn’t mean anything and he doesn’t have the time right now to think about what it could mean. He will think about that later.

Two hours pass and he’s ready to call it a night. Catarina has one more thing on her list of duties for another club but she swears it won’t take long so he tells her he will meet her by the car and is going to stop by the soccer fields to visit Alec first. She teases him with smooching sounds and he waves her off and leaves.

The sky is a dusty blue of twilight and the air blows a crisp breeze while Magnus walks down the path to the soccer fields. He can vaguely make out the goals and Alec standing in one of them from here. He has no business interrupting his training but he’s going to be honest with himself and admit he wants to see him again and he hopes Alec won’t mind.

He stops at the bottom of the hill and catches his breath. He should put in a complaint for the steep walk they make everyone suffer through to get down here. He leans against the gate that surrounds the field. Alec probably can’t even see Magnus from this vantage point. Not that he can see anything but the ball, the steely focus from the photograph is even more intimidating in person.

Magnus waits and watches as… Underhill kicks the ball.

He hates himself for how quickly his body and heart react to the sight, a sick tightening in his gut in the most unpleasant way. He forces it back because he has no right to feel this way, he even encouraged Alec when he first saw them last weekend, thinking maybe there could be something there. Alec said he wasn’t interested and Magnus believes him, so why he’s sick to his stomach is irrational and he hates it so much.

Alec blocks the shot on goal and quickly kicks the ball back out, the force of it making Underhill run midfield. He traps the ball with his chest and takes off running, the ball dribbling out in front of him. He can hear him shouting something and Alec respond in kind. It’s all sports, teamwork, and fun, and Magnus rolls his eyes at himself for the knee jerk reaction, he’s about to laugh when he sees Underhill crash into Alec in the goal. Magnus pauses and Alec is laughing, back flat on the grass, the soccer ball tucked under one arm, Underhill halfway on top of him.

“Nothing gets past you, Lightwood.” Underhill’s voice is low and husky and completely inappropriate—if someone were to ask Magnus. And he must have suddenly acquired superhuman hearing or his blinding jealousy is fueling him to hear better because now he can make out exactly what’s being said.

“That is the point,” Alec responds, voice underlined with exhaustion.

Magnus takes another couple of steps forward and it’s enough to see the stupid infatuated look on Underhill’s face where he still lays too close for comfort. Alec, painfully oblivious Alec, is panting heavily, one arm thrown over his face, thankfully none the wiser to the smitten eyes Underhill his giving him.

Magnus takes in a settling breath.

“You’re amazing,” Underhill says and Magnus’ jaw drops when he sees him reach over and dust a patch of grass from Alec’s waist.

“Oh, that’s fucking it,” Magnus hisses, walking with heavier footsteps - not stomping because he doesn’t want to be childish - but loud enough to announce his presence.

It works because Alec crunches up to sit, a full body sit up, bringing his knees up, no use of his arms. The simple movement shouldn’t be enough to make Magnus feel a little lightheaded with lust but he’s only human and a horny, hormonal teenager, so it does.

He doesn’t think of it long though because he has more important things to do right now. Like—

“Magnus!” Alec shouts, a smile lighting up his face and Magnus preens.

Like, show Underhill that Alec Lightwood is off the market and he should perhaps keep his hands to himself.

Magnus crosses the field, meeting Alec where Underhill now stands awkwardly shuffling the ball at his feet, and throws himself into Alec’s arms, planting a longer than necessary kiss to his cheek. He opens his eyes as he pulls away and is surprised Underhill doesn’t even bother to hide the fact he’s watching and he’s jealous. Magnus blinks away from him and puts his attention on Alec who chuckles, touching at the spot Magnus kissed.

“What was that for? Not that I’m complaining…”

Magnus shrugs, settling his forearms around Alec’s neck. “To hold me over until I see you tomorrow.”

That’s too close to the truth , he mentally chides himself.

Alec hums. “I probably smell horrible,” he says and makes absolutely no effort to move or change their proximity.

Magnus pulls himself closer, inhales along the column of Alec’s neck, letting out a pleased moan and, noticing with complete delight, the scatter of goosebumps prickling up on his fair skin.

“What are you talking about? I love for my men to smell like an enticing blend of sweaty gym socks and talent.”

Alec laughs and it’s - wow - honestly. A full on belly laugh, head thrown back, eyes pinched shut, mouth open and the sound is intoxicatingly sublime. It soothes away the anger Magnus had moments ago. He can sense Underhill still standing beside them, arms crossed, eyes watching them, but Magnus doesn’t care because he’s the one who filled Alec with that laughter and who Alec’s holding in his arms.

“Now you’re teasing me.”

Magnus tilts his head and trails a finger into the wet hair curving around Alec’s ear, admiring the way Alec’s pulse quickens beneath the stubble of his neck. “Maybe. But I really don’t mind.”

He has clearly lost his goddamn mind. Alec smells - truly smells - like feet and body odor mixed appallingly with deodorant drenched in sweat. And Magnus? Magnus is in his arms, pressed against him where the smell is surely going to transfer to his favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt but yet, he wants to be closer still. He’s playing with the sweat strands of Alec’s hair and his upper lip is damp with sweat but the lips themselves are pink and pillowy and tempting in a way Magnus never knew was possible.

This was doomed from the beginning, a deadline ticking away the moment they shook hands. He can never have this, he knows, and he has known this since day one. But he’s stupid and he wants what he shouldn’t. So much for his week spent trying to convince himself everything he did was for friendship.

Magnus plucks away a blade of grass stuck to the corner of Alec’s mouth and then kisses him there. Close enough.

Alec’s chest hitches, hands tightening on Magnus’ waist, digging into the spaces between his ribs.

Underhill clears his throat and Magnus remembers why he’s here, throwing himself at someone he doesn’t have, claiming something that doesn’t belong to him.

But he gets to play pretend and this role is his.

He licks his lips, tastes the salt that transferred to them. “I guess I’ll let you get back to your training.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to hang around? Let me take you home?”

Yes. He’s guiltless and reckless and always has been but he’s been enough of that today. “I’m having dinner with Cat,” he responds instead.

“I guess I can share you,” Alec mutters. “Especially with Catarina. I like her.”

Magnus wishes everything Alec said didn’t put such a smile on his face. He thinks back to the picture safely tucked away in his binder. He doesn’t need another candid picture or a mirror to prove to him he’s smiling in the same wistful way at this moment. You can’t hide what’s there for everyone to see . He doesn’t even want to hide it at this point, because Alec’s face is soft and genuine and it makes Magnus’ heart flitter to think that he’s smiling like that because of him. And Magnus will never do anything to take that look off of his face.

He presses his finger into the dimple at the tip of Alec’s nose and Alec’s mouth quirks up more on the left side, and Magnus’ heart skips a beat. “Call me later.”

 

Chapter Text

I’d pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth
That this love I have inside
Is everything it seems
--
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You would think my love was really something good
Baby, if I could
Change the world
-Eric Clapton

 

A body crashes onto the bed beside Alec, disrupting his book and he turns, smiling when he finds Magnus there.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Magnus, I didn’t know you were coming over.”

“Felt like stopping by.” Magnus rolls onto his side, propping himself up with his elbow. It’s a mystery to Alec how Magnus can manage to look so good on a Sunday before noon. Dressed in ripped jeans, a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt, and a flannel tied around his waist. Magnus follows no specific fashion trend, claiming each as his own and styling them however he wants. Meanwhile, Alec sticks to t-shirts, flannels, and a jacket most days.

“Didn’t get enough of me at D&D last night?” Alec jokes.

The jury is still out on whether or not he’s going to kill Simon for that invitation. Things had gone well, Magnus took to the game pretty easily, creating a wizard who he named The High Warlock. Alec fell in the Bog of Eternal Stench and now no one wants him in his party, except Magnus who insists that his wizard was instantly infatuated with Alec’s Bard at first sight. Simon grumbled under his breath about how that’s not how the Bog’s effects work but Alec gave him a quick kick under the table that shut him up and gave Magnus’ hand a quick squeeze for his support. Magnus seemed to have enjoyed himself and said he would join them again next month. Alec can only assume they didn’t scare him away if he’s here now.

“I don’t know why you were so worried about Simon inviting me. It was actually a lot of fun. A little nerdy but fun, so who cares?”

“You did get into character pretty easily.”

Magnus lifts his chin proudly. “I think we’ve established that I am a great actor.”

He is, Alec thinks. He’s been doing the boyfriend thing effortlessly and all too convincingly but so has Alec and he doesn’t feel like much of an actor.

“What are you reading?” Magnus taps on his book, interrupting his thoughts and Alec closes it to show him the cover.

“It’s the suggested reading for a class I want to take this fall.”

“Have you already received an acceptance letter?” Magnus almost shouts, excited, and plucks the book out of Alec’s hands to look over it.

“No, but just in case. I want to get a head start. I don’t have Maia’s ability to study for something the night before and make a perfect score.”

“Maia Roberts,” Magnus sighs beside him. “If she weren’t so cool and nice, I’d have to hate her for beating me to valedictorian.”

He knew Magnus was smart and took the higher courses but he always had time for parties and friends so Alec assumed he was in them in the same way Alec was because he worked hard and was maybe - possibly, like Alec - hanging on by the hair of his chin. “Are you salutatorian?”

Magnus smiles proudly, puffing his chest out slightly. “Impressed?”

“I am. I had no idea.”

“Should I be offended that you’re shocked that I’m smart?” Magnus flashes an offended grimace at him and Alec laughs.

“Not at all. I’m not shocked. I knew you were smart, I just didn’t know you were salutatorian smart.” Alec chuckles again and bites into his lip to stop himself from smiling so much. He’s always smiling too much when Magnus is around.

“Hmm,” Magnus hums. “That means Maia has never spoken about me as her rival which means she feels confident in her top spot. I may need to step up my game.”

“A battle of the brains. Leave me out of it, I don’t want to have to take sides,” Alec teases.

“Ooh the best friend versus the fake boyfriend. I don’t like my odds.” Magnus laughs and continues to look over the book, entirely unaware of how those words and the reminders that none of this is real chips away at Alec’s heart bit-by-bit.

“Have you received any acceptance letters yet?” Alec asks, pushing aside the stupid ache he feels beginning in his chest. He wants to enjoy their time, no matter which form it comes in - friendship, fake boyfriends, or other.

Magnus shakes his head. “No, I missed early enrollment so I’ll be waiting until the last second like everyone else. I heard Maia got early acceptance into Duke.”

“She did!” Alec looks up at the picture of him and Maia from last summer pinned to his corkboard. “She’s great, I’m really proud of her.”

Magnus is smiling endearingly when Alec looks back at him. “And Simon?”

“Simon applied everywhere Maia and I applied. He’s determined that we all go to the same college.”

Magnus hums, his left brow jumping. “That’s a nice thought.”

“Yeah. A bit unlikely but…” Alec shrugs. “You?”

“I’ve applied everywhere I possibly can and I’ll go to whichever school offers the best scholarship.” He lifts a shoulder casually like it’s not a big deal but Alec knows, for someone like Magnus and Maia, it’s a really big fucking deal.

“Salutatorian. I think you’ll get some options.” Alec traces over the braided leather band of Magnus’ bracelet and then works his way over the black beads of the other. Magnus smiles down at it and then covers Alec’s hand with his own.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

There’s a quick knock on his door and Alec doesn’t even have a second to register it before his mom is walking in, reading from a piece of paper. “Alec, sweetie, I’m going to the grocery store what do you—oh, I didn’t know you had company.” She looks at their joined hands and then smiles at Magnus, lowering her grocery list to extend her hand. “Maryse Lightwood.”

Magnus lets go of Alec and jumps from the bed, taking his mother’s outstretched hand for a firm handshake. “Ms. Lightwood, it’s nice to finally meet you.”

She grins at him. “It’s so nice to meet you too.”

She eyes Alec with a questioning brow and he stands to join them. “Mom, this is Magnus. He’s my… well, he’s my boyfriend.”

He can’t say he’s ever seen his mom look as stunned as she does right now, cheeks flaring pink, eyes sparkling with excitement, jaw dropping as she looks Magnus over. “Boyfriend? How long has this been going on?”

“A month or so.” Alec shrugs.

“ A month? Magnus, I am so sorry I’m only now getting the opportunity to meet you, I have apparently raised a child with no manners. Would you like to stay for dinner?”

“Mom…”

“I’d love to.” Magnus looks over his shoulder at Alec and grins. “Alexander has told me all about you and well, I already know Jace and Isabelle from school.”

“Right.” She titters. “Well, I was coming to find out what to make for dinner. I was thinking steak, is that good?”

“I love steak!”

“Yes, Mom.” Alec moves behind Magnus and tries to tell her with his eyes that he would like for her to leave.

She seems to understand, finally releasing Magnus’ hand and stepping out of the room with a wave. She goes to close the door and with a final look at them, leaves it open a crack. Alec rolls his eyes and Magnus laughs behind his hand.

“I can take a hint,” Magnus drawls, suggestively flicking his brows at Alec before looking him up and down. “No funny business with her boy.”

Alec rubs at his brow. “That’s so embarrassing.”

Magnus goes back to Alec’s bed, kicks off his shoes and makes himself comfortable. “We’re teenagers, Alexander. I’m sure she knows exactly what teenagers do when closed up in a room together.”

Alec crawls into his bed beside Magnus. “Oh yeah? Like what—”  He’s about to joke about how they were discussing college applications which is probably not at all what his mother expects but is cut off when Magnus takes up the book Alec had been reading and pushes it into Alec’s chest.

“Like read their required reading for college and”—he leans over and plucks Alec’s Walkman from his nightstand—“listen to music. But only because you insist on being a good student.”

“I—” Alec scratches at his hair, mouth falling open, all thoughts dissolving because he’s not quite sure what Magnus wants him to say. He doesn’t know if he’s serious or… what; and he wishes someone had warned him that flirting was this hard and this confusing. “I didn’t—”

Magnus’ mouth curves into a smirk and he winks at him, sliding the headphones over his ears and pats the spot beside him when he lays back against the headboard. Alec sucks in a breath before settling beside him and thumbing his book to where he left off. Magnus closes the small space Alec left between them and closes his eyes.

Radiohead’s Pablo Honey album plays quietly but enough for Alec to make out which song Magnus is listening to while they lay in silence for the next forty minutes or so. When he hears the last song play, he closes his book and lifts one foam covered end of the headphones from Magnus’ ear.

“I don’t feel like reading anymore. Want to get out of here for a bit? Maybe rent a movie?”

Magnus takes off the headphones and lays them down neatly to not tangle the cord. “Only if we can indulge in obscene amounts of candy.”

“Deal.” Alec stands and holds his hand out for Magnus to take.

.

They decide to stop by the preserve outlining the area they live in before they grab a movie and lunch. Their community is small,  part of a larger city and they’re lucky enough to have an incredible preserve with places open for the public to visit. They walk some of the trails through the forest and weave through the boulder fields towards a stream that falls into a pool of water below them.

There are families picnicking at the base of the waterfall and Alec sighs, attracting Magnus’ attention and he points at the families below. “I didn’t even think to pack a picnic.”

Magnus gives the families a longer look and hums. “Next time.”

The weather is clement for springtime, mosquitos aren’t out yet, and it’s the perfect time to be able to do this without growing uncomfortably hot after two minutes. Alec really hates that he didn’t even think about taking Magnus on a date out here but then again… he’s not supposed to be planning dates for them. They don’t really date; it’s not part of their arrangement.

“I don’t come out here enough,” Magnus says, breaking their silence and closes his eyes when the wind brushes across his face.

“I used to come all the time with my dad.” Alec kneels down and picks up a rock that shimmers when he turns it in the sunlight.

Magnus moves in closer when Alec stands, peeking down at the rock he holds. “I never asked what happened with your father. I didn’t know if it was my place to or not.”

Alec has always hated talking about his father, still angry, never wanting to get into the details with anyone when asked, not even Simon or Maia. They know, of course, but only because they lived it with him and they saw the changes happen in his life. Not because he willingly wanted to tell them everything. And even so, they never talk about it anymore. The inquiry, coming from Magnus, doesn’t feel prying or invasive. He can easily tell Magnus he doesn’t want to talk about it and he knows Magnus will respect that and not hold it against him. But there’s that pull on him that wants to share every part of himself with Magnus, that wants Magnus to know as much of him as he can.

“He cheated on my mom,” Alec says. “It happened my Freshman year and it was a mess to go through. They fought a lot over everything. Not really the best summer I’ve ever had. ”

“Alexander, I’m sorry.”

Alec nods at him, accepting the sincere sympathy. “We used to live near the Blackthorns, actually, but Mom didn’t want to stay in that house, said she needed a clean slate. So we moved and now we don’t hear much from our dad. Birthdays, holidays, some weekends, he sends us money though. His contribution.” He hands Magnus the rock with its shimmering specs. “There’s really not much else to tell.”

Magnus shakes his head with a scoff. “Your mom deserves better than that.”

“She does.” Alec dusts his hands on his jeans. “What about your dad?”

“It’s always just been me and my mom,” Magnus says, a tender smile aimed down at the rock Alec gave him before sliding it in his pocket.

Alec nods. They may not have known each other but they have gone to the same school since their elementary years. You can learn a lot about a person through school functions, field trips, and general gossip without ever having to know them. Magnus and his mom, the only family member to ever attend anything, everyone knows that about him.

“Did you ever know your dad?”

Magnus shakes his head. “He came by once when I was thirteen. He had a new family and everything by then. I’ve never seen my mom kick somebody out so fast in all my life.” He chuckles, unamused. “I’m glad she did. He left when I was a baby. Can’t say I want anything to do with him if he didn’t want anything to do with us.”

Magnus squats down and starts trailing his fingers over the bed of rocks, searching.

“Sounds like she knows what she’s doing and is doing just fine without him,” Alec says, joining him. He spots another shimmering rock and plucks it out of the dirt, blowing the excess away before passing it over to Magnus.

“We are.” He sighs. “It did take some time to get past the feeling of being unwanted.”

Magnus stares down at the rock, turning it until it catches in the light. Alec reaches out and takes his left hand in his, twining their fingers, stroking the back of his hand with his thumb. “You’re not unwanted, Magnus.”

Magnus meets his gaze and smiles, softly. “I know, Alexander.” He curls the stone in his other hand. “Both raised by strong single mothers, who knew we had so much in common.”

Alec chuckles. “I think we’ve found we actually have a lot in common.”

Magnus continues to pick through the rocks. “I guess you’re right.”

Alec finds another glittering rock and hands it to Magnus, this time met with a flat gaze.

“Okay, I suck at this.” Magnus stands, pulling Alec up with him by the hand and pockets the third rock. “Movie? I think there’s actually a new horror movie out with Paul Rudd in it.”

Alec pauses for a beat at the suggestive tone Magnus gives him. “Maia told you,” he says with a resigned sigh, continuing on their path back to his car, clutching onto Magnus’ hand in his. He might have to kill both his friends now.

“Maia told me what?” Magnus trails behind Alec as they squeeze through a narrow passage between two boulders.

Alec waits for Magnus to fully emerge. “You’re saying she didn’t tell you?”

“Didn’t tell me what?” Magnus genuinely looks confused now when he takes Alec’s hand again and perhaps Alec won’t have to murder both of his best friends.

He blushes at the soft tickle of fingers that Magnus makes in his palm to make Alec thread their fingers together. “I thought maybe she told you something and that’s why you said that.”

“I have no clue what you’re talking about, Alexander.” Magnus chortles, giving his hand an urging grip. “But please, do tell, my curiosity is killing me.”

“Paul Rudd.”

“What about him?” Magnus replies in a sing-songy voice and Alec knows that Magnus knows exactly what Alec is getting at but now he’s fucking with him and wants to hear Alec say it.

“He’s my”—Alec sighs—“celebrity crush.”

Magnus squeezes his hand tighter, smiling wide. “An excellent choice, darling.”

Alec rolls his eyes and lets out a breathless laugh, tugging Magnus to continue walking. The pet name shouldn’t make his legs feel weak as he steps over tree roots and rocks but it does. “Don’t tease me.”

“Not teasing, although I’m retracting my suggestion of the new Paul Rudd movie.”

“Why?”

“I’m a jealous person, Alexander, I can’t have you ogling Paul Rudd while I’m trying to keep your attention for myself.” He sidles up closer to Alec and lays his head on his shoulder as they pass through a trail between high grass.

“Oh.” Alec swallows, breath shallow because it’s times like these when he can’t separate the act from reality. The reality for him is: there is no one who can compare to Magnus. Not even Paul Rudd. “Well, you don’t have to worry about that,” he confesses in as casual of a tone as he can muster.

“No?” Magnus asks. The question is quiet and sounds almost—if Alec listens to the insistent pounding of his heart instead of the cautions in his head—hopeful.

“Not at all.”

Magnus buries his face in Alec’s shoulder. “Good,” he says into the fabric and presses a kiss there.

.

Their trip to Blockbuster consists of way too many encounters with classmates all in the same place, so they hold hands and Magnus flirts shamelessly while they stroll the movie aisles. They’ve honestly become that couple when in public and there’s something exhilarating about having Magnus’ hand in his back pocket while scouring the horror movie aisle and having his ringed hand gliding back and forth against his lower back while they decide which candy to buy in the check out line.

Alec catches himself, more than once, wishing he knew how much of this is real and how much is an act. He doesn’t think on it for long, there’s no sense in that, but at the edge of every touch and every sweet word whispered in his ear, there’s a wish - a wish for more - a wish for it to actually mean something.

They leave with two movies and four boxes of candy, stop on the way back to Alec’s for some fast food and then narrowly escape an interrogation from Izzy whose eyes light up when she spots Alec and Magnus walk through the front door on her way down the stairs.

She whispers, ‘we’re talking about this later’ to Alec as he passes by her, Magnus leading the way to his room.

Alec closes the door behind him with his foot and Magnus gawks at him, scandalized with a hand on his chest.

“You’re going to get me in trouble with your mom and ruin my chance at a good first impression,” he complains, making himself comfortable on Alec’s bed, unpacking their food from the paper bag.

“My mom will get over it,” Alec quips, joining him.

“Easy for you to say, your reputation isn’t on the line.”

“Not possible. My mom is going to love you no matter what.”

“If you say so.” Magnus takes a bite out of his burger, his mouth pouting while he chews. There’s a small line of mustard lining his top lip and Alec grimaces at the condiment, taking his napkin to wipe the excess away. He does it without thinking, not giving himself even a second to think better of the action but he wishes he had if Magnus’ surprised expression is anything to go by.

The line of acting like boyfriends and not acting like boyfriends gets blurrier and blurrier the more Alec does things like this. Or when they hold hands in the car where no one else can see them. It’s supposed to be acting but there are times when it doesn’t feel like Alec is acting, and the thought scares him. It wasn’t part of their deal and now Alec’s here, pulse racing whenever Magnus smiles at him, his skin burning when they touch. He’s dangerously close to overstepping where he shouldn’t and that makes this line of thinking bad news. For him, for his heart, for Magnus.

“You had a little mustard on your lip,” he says, darting his eyes away when Magnus runs his tongue along his lips. “Sorry, if that was weird.”

“No.” Magnus continues eating. “Thank you.” He nudges Alec with his elbow, smiling while he chews. “You’re better at this boyfriend business than you think.”

Alec snorts, an entirely unattractive sound, especially when combined with him eating, and if there’s any chance of having Magnus see him as more than a friend then he has to stop doing things like that. “If my career choices fall through then at least I know I’ll have something to fall back on.”

Magnus covers his mouth with a napkin and laughs. “I didn’t mean it that way, I meant, you’ll be great at it when you… you know, get a boyfriend.”

Alec’s stomach plummets when he swallows. And he forces himself to smile because Magnus is his friend and he’s giving him a compliment. “Thanks. Same for you.”

“History proves otherwise. Both Camille and Imasu ended in a disaster.” Magnus lowers his eyes to his burger and picks a seed off the bun. There’s a sadness there and Alec is reminded of the gossip after his and Camille’s break up. Alec never listened to any of it, it wasn’t his business but he can see that Magnus’ thoughts must be going back to those days and he hates seeing that cloud darken over him. He thinks about what Magnus said at the preserve and how Alec needs for him to understand that despite what happened with Camille or Imasu, he is wanted.

Alec’s heart sputters when Magnus meets his eyes. “Like a natural disaster? Man-made?” Alec jokes, hoping to maybe bring a smile back to his face.

Magnus’ expression hardens, incredulous before he breaks out into a laugh.

Alec chuckles. “I think you’re wrong though.”

“Our numerous shouting matches prove you’re wrong,” Magnus says with an air of nonchalance and a flutter of his fingers, bringing a fry to his mouth.  

“We don’t fight.” Alec takes a bite of his own burger and watches Magnus think this over. “Do you think we would if this was… real?”

Magnus’s eyes drift over to him and he assesses him thoughtfully. “You’ve done nothing to make me want to fight with you.”

“I don’t know,” Alec drawls out, pulling his mouth back into a dramatic grimace. “I think I came pretty close the other day when I accidentally mentioned your love for New Kids on the Block at the lunch table…”

Magnus makes a sharp sound through the nose, closing his eyes as if gathering all of his patience. “You revealed my secret love for New Kids on the Block, yes, but you looked so adorable when you realized, that I couldn’t actually be upset with you.”

Alec drops his eyes to look at his fries, hoping that’s enough to stop the heat he has building in his cheeks so Magnus won’t see. Luck isn’t on his side because Magnus definitely notices and coos and Alec only grows hotter when he reaches out and strokes Alec’s cheek with the back of his hand.

“Yeah, I could never stay mad at that face for long.”

“Shut up.” Alec intends on pushing Magnus’ hand away with the shake of his head but he instead only makes matters worse by pushing his cheek into the curve of Magnus’ palm.

“Okay, boyfriend,” Magnus sings sweetly and Alec’s heart sings with him. He retracts his hand to get back to his food and Alec misses it at once.

“Speaking of boyfriends,” Alec begins, clearing his throat, desperately needing to change the subject before he gets too caught up. “I have a soccer game coming up. A pretty big one.”

Magnus looks up at him while he sips his soda, curiosity prompting him to continue.

“I’m a couple of saves away from breaking the state record and there’s supposed to be scouts there from a few colleges I applied to. It’s a good opportunity to get some offers for college.”

Magnus’ eyes light up. “Alexander, that’s great!”

“Will you come?”

Magnus’ smile spreads, bright and beautiful. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Great. But - uh - don’t mention it at dinner. I haven’t told my mom, or Izzy or Jace. They come to a lot of games but mainly when I ask. I think it would make me nervous to have them all there knowing what’s at stake.”

“Will you be alright with me being there? I don’t want to make you nervous.”

Alec found out about the scouts from Coach Garroway before leaving school on Friday and he hasn’t thought about it too much, not wanting to jinx it. But Magnus had said he would go to his games as part of this deal and Alec thought about it and if there’s any game he wants Magnus at, it’s this one. His family is too invested in his sports career and the expectations there are too big. But Magnus… Magnus makes him feel at peace and when he looks at Alec the way he is now, he makes him feel like there’s nothing he can’t do.

Alec shakes his head. “You won’t make me nervous. I want you there.”

“Then I’ll be there,” Magnus says.

They finish their food and Magnus digs through the bag for their candy while Alec reaches in to pick one of the movies out. The case makes a loud popping sound when he cracks it open and he quickly sets up the TV and VCR. Darkness takes over the room and he glances over his shoulder to find Magnus closing the curtains to block out the daylight.  

“Can’t watch scary movies in broad daylight,” Magnus says before resuming his spot on the bed.

Alec sits beside him and scoots back against the headboard, pulling a blanket over his lap. Magnus opens their candy and moves in closer beside him. They sit, bodies flush against each other, sharing candy and a bottle of Fruitopia between them. They ended up going with the Paul Rudd movie after Alec jokingly reassured Magnus in the movie aisle that he only has eyes for him. Which he finds, when he watches Magnus watch the screen, chewing on the end of a sour gummy worm, is all too true. How he could even think to look at anyone but Magnus is beyond him. It’s not possible and he hates himself for not looking at him when they’ve gone to the same school this entire time. He goes back to watching the previews, reaching in the bag for a handful of candy.

“You’re not one of those people who yells when something scary pops up, are you?”

Alec swallows as he turns to look at him. Their lips are only inches away from each other and Alec is suddenly immensely aware of how close Magnus is and how his breath is maddeningly hot when it ghosts against Alec’s mouth. “No. I actually kind of like feeling scared.”

Magnus’ eyes drop down to Alec’s mouth and the corner of his smile curves into a smirk. “Can’t say I feel the same but horror movies have other appeals.”

The previews cut on loudly and Magnus startles at the sound, chuckling at himself and pulling his eyes away from Alec’s mouth. A relief because if he had kept doing that, Alec would have done something incredibly stupid. Like, kiss his friend when he has absolutely no reason to do so besides the fact that he wants to.

Magnus moves in even more, resting his head on Alec’s shoulder, and sliding his legs under the blanket to join Alec. His foot runs along Alec’s calf and over the top of Alec’s foot, brushing lightly over it before resting there as the opening credits of the movie begin.

Alec pushes himself to watch the movie, ignores the tension filling the room, stuffs his mouth with gummy bears, and pretends his hand isn’t resting on top of Magnus’ thigh so he can focus on the plot of the movie.

As the movie plays and jumpscare after jumpscare happens, Alec finds himself tangled up with Magnus, one arm around his waist, Magnus’ fingers gripping onto Alec’s shirt, their legs melded, feet brushing together whenever one of them jumps. They stay like that until the movie ends, and resume the position once Alec makes it back to the bed after starting a new movie. They repeat the process, feeding each other sour worms, startling when things scare them and then laughing at each other.

It’s the most fun Alec has had in a while. Different from the type of fun he has with Simon and Maia, different because this makes him want to have this all the time. He’s watched countless movies with his friends. Spent nights on the couch or in bed watching movie after movie but he’s never held and been held like this.

There’s a tap on his bottom lip and he jerks back enough to see the sour worm Magnus is teasing him with.

“It’s the last blue and red one,” Magnus says and his voice comes out deeper, somewhere from the back of his throat; it sends a chill across Alec’s skin.

“Thought those were your favorite too.” Somehow, without meaning too, Alec’s voice does the same and Magnus’ eyes fall on Alec’s mouth and he licks at his bottom lip.

“Well, I want you to have it. Now, open up.”

Alec parts his mouth and Magnus gently sets the worm on his tongue. This shouldn’t feel as sensual as it does, it’s just candy. But it’s Magnus, and his eyes are smeared in dark eyeliner, heavy and watching Alec’s mouth while he sucks on the gummy candy. The sour flavor melts and is replaced by the sweet. His arm is around Alec’s waist and Alec can sense every inch of him, every place their bodies touch electric and magnified and Alec is so glad he has a blanket laying over his lap.

Magnus exhales and Alec is hit with the sweet candied scent of it. He wants to taste it. He chews softly and wonders when Magnus’ lips got so close to his. Did he lean in? Or did Magnus? Or is this something they’re both in together? Either way, they shouldn’t be this close. And Magnus’ eyes shouldn’t be falling shut and neither should Alec’s. He leans in more and can imagine the way Magnus will taste if he goes one breath forward.

“Boys! Dinner!"

He startles, eyes opening wide at the sound of his mom’s voice. Magnus looks up at him, bemused, but not pulling away.

“We should…”

“Get down there,” Magnus finishes for him with a smirk that only gets worse when he looks back at Alec’s mouth.

Alec takes in a deep breath when Magnus stands. He exhales through his nose and begs his body to please go back to normal. Magnus is clearly unaffected and Alec can’t be seen… like this.

Magnus slides his shoes on by the door and looks at Alec, eyes questioning. “You coming?”

“Yep. Right behind you.”

Magnus steps out of the room and Alec takes his time bunching up the blanket, willing his body to listen to him and stands when it’s about as good as it’s gonna get without Magnus getting too suspicious.

He makes sure Magnus isn’t within sight and quickly adjusts himself before joining him in the hall.

“You okay?” Magnus asks over his shoulder, descending the stairs in front of Alec.

“Yeah. Fine.”

“There you are, boys,” Alec’s mom greets them with a warm smile, apron still tied around her waist. “I thought I was going to have to knock on the walls on my way up to get you.”

If Alec could die from sudden embarrassment, this would be the thing that kills him. “Mom,” he bites out and Magnus, of course, giggles - covering it with a hand and then pressed lips.

Alec’s mom places a hand on Magnus’ back and guides him to the dinner table, raising a taunting brow at Alec before she looks away.

The table is set meticulously, and Alec holds back the groan building inside of him at the sight. It’s so much for something that isn’t real and won’t last past graduation. He didn’t think this through enough and he’s lying to everyone in his life at this point. He hates the guilt rising in his throat when his mom enters the dining room, holding plates with steaks on them that she begins to arrange on the table.

She sits at the head of the table, Magnus to her right, Alec to her left. Jace sits on Alec’s other side and Izzy sits beside Magnus.

“So, Magnus, tell us a little bit about yourself.” His mom gives a dramatic eye roll and cuts into her steak. “Or, I guess tell me a little bit about yourself, seems all my children already know you.”

Magnus smiles at Alec, eyes sparkling playfully before he focuses his attention on his mom. “Not much to tell. I’m doing what every other senior is doing: waiting to hear back about college applications.”

“Magnus is actually salutatorian,” Alec chimes in and Magnus looks at him so quickly, cheeks pink, almost embarrassed.

It doesn’t last long, Alec’s mom doesn’t let it.

She’s pressing her hand to her chest and grinning. “That’s fantastic, Magnus! Wow. I know you must work so hard.”

Magnus takes a bite of his steak and nods. For someone as confident as Magnus is, he doesn’t like to boast about himself, Alec’s noticed.

“Magnus is like the crazy smart kid who’s actually cool,” Isabelle says and nudges her elbow into Magnus’ arm.

Jace hums. “And yet he somehow ended up with this fartknocker.”

Magnus laughs. “Alexander is very charming, I’ll have you know.”

Alec doesn’t even have to look at his mother to know she’s giving him the most embarrassing smile in existence at this moment.

“I noticed there wasn’t a car in the driveway when I left for groceries. Did you walk here?”

“Yeah, I was in the mood for a walk and ended up here. I live just around the corner.”

His mom carefully wipes at her mouth. “Well, Alexander will give you a ride home, right, honey?”

Magnus looks at Alec and Alec shrugs. “Of course I’ll take you home. Not like I was going to let him walk home in the dark, Mom.”

She sips at her wine, ignoring his remark. “How did this start between you?” she asks, bouncing onto the next topic on what Alec is sure is part of a longer list of topics of conversation she has mentally prepared.

“Yeah, how did this start?” Jace asks, taking a bite of his bread.

“I didn’t even know you guys knew each other.” Isabelle angles her body to face Magnus. She’s not even touching her food, apparently more invested in their love story than sustenance.

“Well, we knew of each other,” Magnus says, “we didn’t know each other that well. But of course, I had noticed him before. How could I not?”

Alec covers his face with his hand and his mother pats his other arm supportively. “I’m sure Alec’s noticed you over the years. You’re so handsome.”

“Mom.”

“What? I’m sure you agree with me.”

Alec lowers his hand from his face and all eyes are staring at him. His face burns with embarrassment. “Obviously I agree with you. He’s my boyfriend.”

“Aw, you think I’m handsome?” Magnus croons and of course everyone at the table thinks he’s fucking hilarious.

Alec scowls at his mother and sister. “Was the purpose of this dinner to embarrass me?”

“We’re excited you’ve brought a boy home,” his mother replies proudly and flashes the sweetest smile at Magnus.

“And such a handsome boy,” Isabelle says, her voice lilting with a tease.

“Are you done?” Alec looks at his sister and then his mother who both shrug at him at the same time, in the exact same way.

Jace snorts beside him, covering it up by drinking his water. And, like the good brother he is, he changes the subject. “You know, Alec, we could get revenge on Mom by bringing up her crush on you-know-who.”

Magnus' eyes flash, mischievously. “Who?”

“Jonathan Christopher,” his mom warns, cheeks flaring pink.

“Coach Garroway,” Isabelle says with a giggle.

Their mom gasps. “Isabelle!”

Magnus sits up straight and grins while he takes a bite of steak. “Coach Garroway is a handsome man, Ms. Lightwood. You know… for a teacher.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I should ground all of you,” she warns, cutting into her steak with more enthusiasm.

Alec sets his glass of water down. “Don’t dish it if you can’t take it, Mom.”

She hardens her eyes on him.

“It’s cute,” Isabelle says, smiling at their mom. “You should see her when we go watch Alec play.”

“I think Mom stopped watching me play years ago,” Alec grins at his mom who meets him back with a glare.

“That’s not true. I do watch you. And now that is enough of that,” she quips, going back to her steak - still blushing.

Alec won’t admit it to her but he’s happy she’s finding interest in someone, and Coach Garroway is probably the only man Alec can say he absolutely approves of.

Isabelle changes the subject again and Magnus grins throughout the entire dinner, chewing his food slowly and listening intently to everything Alec’s family has to say. He gives his mother his opinion on a haircut she wants, which she eats right up, and he even manages to win Jace over by knowing obscure baseball facts. Isabelle, it seems, has always been a fan of Magnus and they’ve known each other through mutual friends and crowds so they pick up without a hitch.

Magnus blends into their dynamic effortlessly, leaving laughs in his wake when Alec walks him out at the end of dinner, and his mother is beaming when she sees Alec take Magnus’ hand in his. He walks Magnus to his car, opening the door for him and closing it softly behind him.

Magnus sighs contentedly when Alec gets in. “I am in love with your whole family.”

Alec grins, starting the car. “I told you, you had nothing to worry about.”

Magnus waits for Alec to put the car into gear and then takes Alec’s hand in his, drifting his thumb softly side to side. “Would you say I won everyone over?”

Alec returns the gesture, gliding his thumb against the soft skin of Magnus’ index finger. He’s tried fighting it. He really did put in as much effort as he could to ignore every wandering thought and every stray touch. He’s beginning to think there was nothing he could ever do to win this fight. He was always meant to lose.

He comes to a stop and smiles at Magnus.

His heart beats with bliss.

“Yeah. I’d say you won everyone over.”

 

Chapter Text

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
---
I couldn’t help it
It’s all your fault
-Alanis Morissette

 

Magnus turns over in bed, shivering, covers pulled up to his ears. He wishes, not for the first time in his life, that he wasn’t such a morning person because he could be sleeping through this fever right about now. He knew the minute he opened his eyes he wouldn’t be leaving his bed for the day so he called Alec to let him know he wouldn’t be going to school and has been laying here, wide-eyed and body aching for an hour, wishing sleep would come again. His room is too bright, the rising sun pouring in through his window too much, but he’s too weak to get up and close the curtains.

“Magnus?” his mother’s gentle voice probes through the closed door and Magnus grunts to let her know she can come in.

She lays her head against the door frame and pouts at him, pity pinching her brows. “The medicine will kick in soon, I promise.”

Magnus nods pathetically, the small motion enough to hurt his throat.

“You have a visitor but I told him he could only stay for a minute. Only if you want though.”

Magnus’ eyes snap open. If he wasn’t awake already, he definitely is now. He pulls the cover down from his face and peers up at her. “Visitor?”

She flicks her eyes to the left, gesturing as best as she can to his guest behind her. “Alec.”

“Okay.” He swallows heavy and painful, a shiver wracks his body and he sits up, letting the blanket fall to his lap as Alec walks into his room, holding a white bag and cardboard cup of what Magnus assumes is coffee. “Alexander.”

Magnus’ mom backs away through the door. “I’ll give you two a minute.”

Alec smiles at her and then crosses the room to Magnus’ bed, mouth tensing and cheeks flushing when his eyes actually take Magnus in. Magnus can’t imagine he looks anything other than an absolute mess right now. Sweaty, tired, shirtless, and hair probably going in ten different directions. Exactly how he wants to look when he’s faced with his beautiful boyfriend.

Alec swallows and has a seat on the bed beside him, reaching out to touch his forehead with the back of his hand. His expression shifts from blushing to worry in an instant and he lowers his hand back to his lap. “You’re burning up.”

Magnus pulls the blanket up some, he can feel the sweat coating his skin and the goosebumps spreading every time he gets a chill. “I took some medicine so it should kick in soon. What are you doing here? Are you trying to get yourself sick?”

Alec ignores the last accusation and reaches into the white bag. “I brought you… breakfast and lunch.” He pulls out two containers. “Oatmeal and biscuits; and chicken soup. I made the oatmeal and biscuits but I had to buy the chicken soup. Ran out of time.”

“Alexander, you didn’t have to do that.”

“Oh—” Alec holds out the cup, intent on ignoring Magnus’ protestations. “Coffee. Half-caff so you can still get some sleep, hopefully.”

Magnus is honestly speechless when he takes the cup of coffee from a tenderly smiling Alec. He’s had two real relationships, well, as real as you can get in high school, and neither ever did something like this before. This is his third relationship, not even real, but yet more real than anything he’s ever felt before. All because of Alec. “I—I don’t know what to say.”

Alec packs the soup back in the bag and tucks it in his lap before opening the tupperware with the home cooked breakfast. “You don’t have to say anything.” He sets the food up and Magnus leans back against the headboard. “I wanted to make sure you were taken care of before I went to school.”

“Well, I’m definitely taken care of,” Magnus says with a smile, it’s tired and maybe doesn’t quite reach the level of gratitude he wants to show but he tries. He runs his fingers through his hair in his best attempt to tame the mess when Alec searches through the bag again. “And slightly embarrassed that you’re seeing me in this state.”

Alec quirks his head when he looks back at him, holding out a spoon. “Why?”

Magnus accepts the spoon from him, sticking it into the container of warm oatmeal. “I don’t even want to know what I look like right now.”

Alec huffs out a laugh and focuses on tearing a biscuit in half for Magnus. “Magnus, you…” He swallows and carefully sets the biscuit on the container lid beside Magnus. His hazel eyes are greener today than they normally are, brought out by the green of his sweater. They dance across Magnus’ face, drawing him in, memorizing him and he blinks slowly, heavy lashes lining the admiring gaze. “You always look great, you have nothing to worry about.”

Alec has the innate ability to say anything in the simplest of ways but say them with such conviction they make Magnus’ heart come to a sputtering stop. Blushing isn’t how Magnus normally reacts to compliments but there’s something about the way Alec says them, treasured and sincere, making every word that leaves his lips much more meaningful. Magnus is running a fever, of that he’s sure, but the heat creeping up his neck is something else entirely and something only Alec seems capable of producing.

“You’re sweet for saying that,” Magnus says, bashfully quiet and wistful enough he knows there’s no way Alec won’t notice. And with the way he almost kissed him at his house, Magnus is pretty sure Alec is going to catch on to his growing feelings sooner rather than later.

He takes a bite of the warm meal and steals a pinch from his biscuit. It’s sweet and thick, coating his throat comfortably despite the pain he felt earlier upon waking up. Alec sits, fingers tapping against his thigh, expectantly watching Magnus - hopeful.

“It’s delicious,” Magnus says before taking a sip of the coffee. Everything is warm and comforting, perfect and exactly what he needed. “Thank you for doing this for me.”

“You’re welcome.” Alec glances at Magnus’ closed bedroom door, listening for a few beats before pulling his eyes to Magnus and lowering his voice. “Do you want me to skip school? I could drive around until your mom leaves, then come back…”

Magnus sets his coffee aside on the nightstand and lets himself appreciate the sight of Alec, his boyfriend—his friend, sitting on his bed, concerned and apparently intent on making Magnus wish for something he shouldn’t wish for.

“I want you to go to school,” he begins and Alec’s mouth parts but he keeps on before Alec can continue to humor the notion that Magnus wants Alec to go to school because he doesn’t want him here, he’d be lying if he said that. “Only because you have an important game coming up and you can’t be sick for it. I’d never forgive myself. So, go to school and call me later. Okay?”

Alec laces his fingers in his lap and his thumb strokes along the back of his own hand. He’s chewing on his lip, considering something he must come to a decision on. “Okay. Can I at least bring you your school work? I can go by your classes and get whatever you need. I know you probably don’t want to fall behind and who knows how long you’ll be out.”

Magnus’ tightens the grip on his spoon and takes in a breath. If this idiot doesn’t stop, Magnus is going to find himself struggling with keeping this platonic. As platonic as it can be when he wants nothing more than to kiss him again. “That’d be perfect. Thank you.”

The door opens and Magnus’ mom gives the food in Alec’s lap an approving smile before she directs her smile at him. “Time to go. I’ve got work, you’ve got school, and Magnus needs his rest.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Alec stands and hands her the white bag. “That’s his lunch.”

She takes it and holds it close against her chest and Magnus isn’t sure he’s ever seen his mom give someone a more approving look in all his life. “I’ll be sure to put it up for him, thank you.”

Alec steps in towards Magnus, hands soft and gentle when he reaches up and brushes the hair away from Magnus’ brow and leans down to place a soft kiss in the middle of his forehead.

His forehead is damp with sweat and he knows he must smell like Vick’s VapoRub but Alec lingers anyway, humming contentedly. And Magnus’ soft gasp and his shortness of breath are because of his cold. That’s all. His eyes falling shut the longer Alec holds his kiss is because he’s tired. The heat filling his cheeks, the cold shiver licking up his spine is because of his fever. His heart fluttering is because… because of Alec.

He swallows as Alec pulls away with a soft smile. He trails his fingers behind Magnus’ ear and down his jaw. “I’ll stop by with your work after school. Try to rest, okay?”

“Okay,” Magnus whispers.

Alec walks past Magnus’ mom, gives her a parting wave, and leaves. They both stare at the empty room he leaves behind him as they listen to him descend the stairs. When the front door closes, his mother looks to him, dark eyes awed.  

“Magnus,” she says on a sigh. “He’s—”

Magnus closes his eyes. “I know.”

The bed dips beneath her weight and he figures he will have to face her eventually, so he opens his eyes, and goes back to eating.

“Is this serious?” she asks, stealing a bit of his biscuit.

His throat feels tight around the response he tries to give so he shakes his head. As much as it hurts to admit with the action, it would hurt even more to say, but it’s the truth. This has a deadline that will be here all too soon.

His mother doesn’t say anything, she sits there, nibbling on her biscuit, regarding him in the way only a mother can, seeing everything he’s sure he can’t even see himself. She takes up his coffee and hands it to him and he welcomes the heat between his palms. It’s comforting and something to focus on besides the clenching in his chest.

“Have you guys said that you love each other yet?”

Magnus shakes his head faster this time. “We don’t.” He takes a sip. “This isn’t that kind of relationship.”

Her eyes widen and she straightens where she sits. “Excuse me, mister, you’re still in high school so that better not mean what I think it means.”

Magnus takes a larger gulp of his coffee and it hurts like hell. “Mom, no. I meant… we’re both not looking for love or anything serious.”

“But he’s your boyfriend.”

“Until graduation.”

This catches her attention even more. “What does that mean?”

Magnus bites on his lip. He hates how she can pull the truth from him without trying. He always ends up in this position, saying more than he ever intended to. “It means he’s going to be my high school boyfriend. After we graduate, we’ll break up, go our separate ways as friends who shared a few months together.”

“That sounds like a heartbreak waiting to happen,” she says bluntly. “And stupid.”

Magnus rolls his eyes and takes a few more bites while she watches him, scrutinizing every mistake he’s ever made and is currently making. As she should, she did teach him to protect his heart better than this.

“I don’t want to see you have your heart broken,” she says meekly, and Magnus can only imagine what it must be like to see your child make mistakes you can’t stop them from making. Magnus is well aware now that going into this arrangement with Alec was the start of his mistake.

“My heart will be fine,” he says, determined. Because he wants it to be true and he doesn’t want anyone reminding him of what is at stake here.

She sighs, shaking her head, disapproving and disappointed. “If you say so. I guess I don’t understand it—”

“Then don’t comment on it,” he snaps, hating the harsh tone the instant it rises out of him. He doesn’t need her mom-way of reading him right now, he doesn’t want to know what she sees when she looks at him, or what she saw when Alec kissed him; if he doesn’t know then he won’t ever know better and he’ll be fine when this all ends in May. If he doesn’t think about it, it will all be fine.

“I know what I’m doing,” he says, softer and hopefully with more patience because he hates when he takes things out on his mom. He knows he does it, he tells himself he’ll be better about it and yet, it still is so easy to do when he doesn’t want to face his problems.

As she always does, because she’s the best mother in the entire world, she lets his outburst roll off of her and stands, reaching down to cup his cheek. “If you say so,” she says simply.

She’s always been a perfect balance of blunt reality checks and letting her son make his own mistakes. Something he loves about her, even though there are times he wishes she would push a little harder to make his stubborn ass see reason. He doubts he would ever actually give in though, which is why she knows when to push and when to back off.

“I’ll check in on my break, okay?” She taps under his chin with her index finger. “No tying up the phone line.”

Magnus nods. “I’m gonna finish this and go back to sleep anyway.”

She’s halfway through his door when she pauses, tapping on the door frame, hesitating only shortly before she looks over her shoulder at him. “This should go without saying, but, no Alec in the house while I’m gone.”

Magnus crosses his heart and she does it back to him. “He’s going to bring me my class work and I’ll send him on his way. He has an important game coming up, I can’t let him hang out and get sick.”

She tips her head at him.

And because he’s obviously not allowed to hang out when we’re alone in the house together. Duh.”

She chuckles and blows him a kiss. “I love you and I’ll talk to you in a bit.”

He waits for her to close the door, and for the soft padding of her footsteps to carry her down the hall before he lets out a shaking breath and touches at his forehead. His mother doesn’t want to see him have his heart broken and to be quite honest, he doesn’t need another heartbreak either. He doesn’t want to cry over someone again or experience the unavoidable longing that comes with the territory of being in love with someone he shouldn’t be in love with. And he’s not. He knows himself enough to know he’s not there but he also knows himself well enough to know he is at risk of heading there with Alec, and that’s something he can’t allow.

A crush is okay. He can be friends with someone and harbor a small crush with no intentions of ever letting it grow past that. That’s where he is now and that’s where he’ll stay. He finishes his bowl of oatmeal, pushing back any fondness creeping in at how delicious it is and who he has to thank for it. His medicine kicks in and so he tucks himself back in bed to sleep some more.

After all, he has about six hours to make it through before he gets see Alec again.

.

Magnus listens to the empty noise of Alec’s bedroom through his receiver while he gets ready for bed, turning off his lights and leaving only the lamp on his nightstand. He’s sliding under the covers when Alec comes back.

“Sorry, my phone was dying and Izzy was being a real pain about letting me borrow her cordless phone.”

Magnus lets out a sharp laugh. “Ha! That’s why you should have a corded phone in your room like us smart people.”

Alec huffs.  “I thought I had one lying around here somewhere.”

“Let me guess, you had one of those clear ones that light up.”

“No.”

“A Mickey Mouse? A cheeseburger?”

“What?” Alec laughs. “No, those sound like something you would have. Mine was just a regular black phone.”

“Boring. I should have known,” Magnus says with as much of a verbal eye roll he can convey.

“Are you saying I’m boring?”

“Of course not, darling. You just like to stick to the safer choices. Nothing wrong with that.”

“I don’t always stick to the safe choices,” Alec mutters. “I have a rebellious side.”

Magnus grins wide while he lowers himself down onto his pillow. “Tell me about it, darling.”

“Can I call you back?”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah. I just need five minutes.”

Magnus glances at the clock on his nightstand. It’s half past eleven and if his phone rings, his mom might chew his head off but he’s not very tired and Alec’s worth the scolding. “Yeah. I’ll wait.”

“Okay. Bye.”

Magnus hangs up and yawns. He fans it away quickly. He was just thinking about how he wasn’t sleepy and now his body wants to betray him. He pats his cheeks and blinks away the sleep tears. He sips at his water and watches as the minutes tick by. He has to be sure he answers before the first ring can even finish, if he’s lucky, his mom won’t hear it in her sleep. The fifth minute passes and Magnus is staring at his phone which is probably pathetic but he doesn’t care.

He’s holding the top of the receiver with one hand and jumps when there’s a tap on his window.

He holds his breath and listens.

Tap - Tap

“Uh…”

Tap - tap - tap

Magnus climbs out of bed and rushes to the window, throwing open the curtains and covering his mouth when he sees Alec there, waving at him, his crooked smile shining in the moonlight.

Magnus pushes the window up. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Proving to you that I have a rebellious side,” Alec shoots back, crawling inside.

Magnus stands back, hands on his hips. “I was joking. You did not have to”—he laughs and covers his mouth before looking out of his window—“how did you even get up here?”

Alec shrugs. “I climbed. You really do have the perfect set up for sneaking in and sneaking out.”

Magnus nods. “I do.”

“How are you feeling?”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “The same as I did earlier when you asked. Fine.”

“Just making sure.” Alec looks around at his room, he’s wearing pajama bottoms and a Calvin Klein t-shirt. He looks two minutes away from calling it a night and falling asleep, hair already messy like it was that day they woke up together.

“Why did you come?”

Alec’s eyes snap to him, uncertainty disappearing in a flash when he reaches out and takes Magnus’ hand in his. “Are you going to lecture me about getting sick again?”

Magnus chuckles. “Yes,” he says, lowering his voice.

“And I’m gonna say the same as I did earlier, I’ll be fine.” He pulls Magnus in. “I think I can take a few germs. Besides, I was just stopping by. I can’t be here too long. I parked my car down the street.”

Magnus covers his laugh by burying his face in Alec’s shoulder. “Where did you park?”

Alec wraps his arms around Magnus, hugging him close. “A few houses down in that empty lane.”

“You mean the elementary school carpool lane.” Magnus titters.

“Yep. I told you... “ He nuzzles his face in Magnus’ hair. “I can be rebellious.”

“Such an outlaw.”

“Yes.”

“A true delinquent.”

“Mhm.”

“Criminal.”

“Absolutely.”

“Scoundrel.”

Alec chuckles. “I’m forsaking all my moral good just to impress you. Is it working?”

“You don’t have to impress me. But also, yes.” Magnus digs his finger in Alec’s side playfully.

Alec squeezes him tighter. “Good.”

“You should go get some sleep. You actually have school tomorrow.”

Magnus keeps his face comfortably buried against Alec’s neck and listens to the soft breaths Alec makes when he noses into Magnus’ hair and places a kiss there.

“Good night, Magnus. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Good night, Alexander.”

Alec pulls away and crawls out the same way he crawled in by the light of the moon.

.

 

“Knock, knock.”

Magnus perks up at the two knocks and Alec’s voice. He’s been in bed for two days now and he’s getting stir crazy.

“Hey, I was waiting for your call, not another house visit,” he says, grinning when Alec aims a smile at him.

“How are you feeling?” Alec strolls into his room and sits on the edge of the bed.

“Much better. I think I’ll be going back to school tomorrow,” Magnus says.

For a second it looks like Alec’s going to lean in but Magnus stops him, holding his arm out.

He covers his mouth with his other hand. “No getting too close. Soccer game. Scouts. Big scholarship. State record.”

Alec laughs and holds his hands up. “I’m not getting any closer than this.”

Magnus lowers his arms and before they can even fall to the bed, Alec leans in and kisses him quickly on the cheek. It draws a gasp out of Magnus and Alec presses his lips together, laughing to himself at the look Magnus shoots him which he hopes is scathing and intimidating, although he’s sure it’s far too enamored to be.  

“You’re going to get sick, you dweeb!”

Alec laughs louder and Magnus prods at his leg with his toe beneath the blanket. “What are you doing here?”

Alec shrugs his elbows out casually. “Visiting my boyfriend, of course.”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “This is three days in a row. I am not worth risking getting sick over.”

Alec hums. “Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” He pulls something out of his pocket. “I also wanted to come by because I made you something. I didn’t even think to bring it last night.”

Magnus takes the plastic case, a list of bands and songs listed neatly in order on the white lined paper inside. He opens it and takes out the cassette tape, a white strip of tape on it that says For Magnus . His heart beats harder - fuller. “You made me a mixtape?”

Alec scratches at his brow, finger raking over the scar there and Magnus makes a mental note to ask how he got it but not now because he doesn’t want to interrupt whatever excuse Alec is coming up with for making Magnus a mixtape. Alec casts his eyes down when he speaks, picking at a thread on Magnus’ blanket. “I was listening to music and thought there were a few songs you’d like to hear.”

There’s a hint of a smile and a tinge of pink in the apples of his cheeks that have butterflies swooping in Magnus’ stomach. Just maybe, Alec is hiding the same growing feelings Magnus is. Maybe he too is trying to hold them at bay. Maybe he is also feeling the connection that almost feels like destiny if Magnus lets his over romantic heart think on it too long. Magnus holds the cassette out to Alec. “Play it. Stereo’s over there.” He points with the tape to the boombox sitting on his desk.

Alec shakes his head, face flushing even more. “We don’t have to listen to it now, you can do that some other time when you’re alone.”

Magnus pushes the tape out more to him and Alec stops his protests, relenting with a groan. He stands and walks over to the stereo, mumbling.

“Hm?” Magnus shouts and Alec shoots him a glare over his shoulder.

He takes his time ejecting the other tape and sliding this one in. He pops his knuckles before pushing down on the play button. “If there’s a song you don’t like… I won’t be offended,” he says, turning with an embarrassed pull of his lips. He crosses the room to the door and has a seat on the other side.

“What are you doing?”

Alec leans against the door frame, soft opening notes of a familiar song drifting from the speakers. He pulls his knees up, his long legs probably cramped in the small space. “Your mom asked me to stay for dinner and you don’t want me to get sick, even though you said you’re much better.”

“You’re going to sit in the hall?”

“Would you rather I sit with you? Cause I will—” He makes to get up with a sly grin, challenging him with a raised brow and Magnus stops him with an eye roll.

“Point made.” Magnus slides down in his bed, laying on his side to face the doorway where Alec sits. “Strong start with the first song, Alexander.”

“I think I have a good idea of what you like,” Alec says.

“How confident of you.”

Alec leans forward putting his chin on his knee and shrugs. “I guess we’ll find out. How was your day?”

“You mean my boring day at home in my bed?” Magnus rests his face on his hands and Alec nods. “Why do you want to hear about that?”

“Am I not allowed to care about how your day went?”

“I guess you can…”

Alec keeps his eyes trained on him. “Tell me about it.”

Magnus chuckles. “Okay…” He goes into the details of his incredibly mundane day spent watching My So Called Life and The X-Files, and then insisting that Alec needs to catch up on both shows. Why Alec wants to hear about any of this, Magnus doesn’t know, but Alec sits and listens. Halfway through, Magnus’ mom brings them their dinners on trays, and Magnus eats his in bed, while Alec eats his in the doorway.

Alec tells him about what he’s missed at school, not much it seems, the usual gossip and Magnus can’t even be sure Alec is relaying it properly because he confuses who he’s talking about at least four times.

“You suck at gossip, Alexander.”

Alec laughs, head leaning back against the frame, exposing the length of his throat and his Adam’s apple that bobs with the sound that is loud and unfiltered and better than any song Alec could have picked for his mixtape.

“I’m sorry.” Alec catches his breath, laughs dying down into quiet huffs that lift his shoulders. “I’ll admit, listening to you talk is much better than me trying to gossip about people I don’t even know.”

Magnus fights away the blush that creeps its way into his cheeks and he nestles even more into his pillow. It’s getting late and his medicine is beginning to take effect.

They finish listening to the last song on the mixtape when Alec forces himself to stand. “It’s late, I should go.”

“Mm. If you must.”

“Only because I have to, not because I want to.” Alec walks over to him and bends down to kiss Magnus on the forehead again.

“You’re so stubborn,” Magnus pretends to complain but he’s smiling at Alec’s tenderness and the flips his heart makes.

“Let me be,” Alec mutters against him, pulling back, hand cradling Magnus’ chin, thumb tracing his jawline. “Good night, Magnus.”

“Good night, Alexander,” Magnus says and Alec leaves with one last glance over his shoulder and a smile on his face.

Magnus can hear Alec chatting with his mom downstairs. Although he can’t make out what they’re saying, he can hear his mother’s laughter. He has to admit to himself that he’s never met someone quite like Alec. Someone so kind and generous. Who makes him feel the way he is now, heart swooping and full. Magnus turns his lamp off and closes his eyes to the sound of Alec’s voice coming from downstairs. Smiling, he lets the deep cadence carry him to his dreams where he’s allowed to put a name to what he’s feeling, where he doesn’t have to pretend.


Chapter Text

It's that pivotal moment
It's impossible
--
It’s the way you love me
It’s a feeling like this
-Faith Hill

 

“Cat, Cat, Cat! My beautiful, lovely Catarina.” Magnus rushes into the library and flings his body over the counter where Catarina is working at filing the stacks of Dewey decimal system cards into their boxes.

She glares at him and shushes him with a finger. “Someone feels better,” she observes. “You better not be contagious.”

He grins at her. “I do and I’m not. I don’t think.”

She narrows her eyes on him and try as she might with her Doc Martens and black velvet choker, there’s nothing she can do to make herself look intimidating when wearing overalls with one strap hanging loose. She looks adorable and he always tells her as much. “You want something,” she observes in a flat tone.

“Well”—Magnus takes up a stack of her cards and begins helping her organize, it’s the least he can do for the favor he’s going to ask of her—“Alexander has a game tomorrow and I wanted to show my support.”

She smiles when he says ‘Alexander,’ somehow Alec’s managed to win over his friend without even trying. He figures drunkenly singing Alanis rage songs together will work to build up a friendship. Also, he’s incredibly charming and sweet and nothing either of them expected so he has that going for him in the way of winning both their hearts over.

“I want to make something to decorate his locker,” he presses on, “so I’ll need you to come over and help and—”

“Okay, I’ll help.” She snorts out a small laugh. “Seriously, the dramatics were uncalled for.”

“I haven’t finished my request,” he continues and now she looks at him warily, slowly stacking the cards into a neat pile. “I need you to convince Ragnor to use his office aide position to sneak into whatever file it is that might have Alexander’s locker combination.”

What ?” She hisses. “No. Nope.” She shakes her head. “You ask him.”

“He’ll tell me no!”

“That’s like...breaking and entering,” she says, looking positively scandalized.

“It’s a high school locker, not his home,” Magnus argues with an exaggerated eye roll to look over his shoulder and around the library to make sure no one is listening in on their conversation. “I want to leave him the goody bag I made for him.”

“Why don’t you ask him for it?”

“I can’t ask him for his locker combination! I don’t know him like that.”

She furrows her brow and takes Magnus’ categorized stack from him, adding it to hers. “He’s your boyfriend. How do you not know him like that?”

“I didn’t mean it like that. He’s my boyfriend. Of course I know him.

“So what’s the problem?” she asks, tone curious and accusing all at once.

She hands him a box and gestures for him to follow her to the catalog cabinet. “I want it to be a surprise,” Magnus says.

Catarina carefully slides each box into its designated slot and dusts her hands off on her overalls when she’s finished. “Fine. I’ll ask Ragnor.”

Magnus jumps and throws his arms around her and she giggles. “Only because I really like Alec and I can tell this thing between you is good for you.”

“How do you mean?” He’s been the same Magnus, doing the same Magnus things; apart from the stuff he does now, because it’s what boyfriends do, like, being your boyfriend’s number one cheerleader for his super important upcoming soccer game. Every other little thing he’s done to give himself away has been in the privacy of his and Alec’s time together. Wistful longing looks that get caught on camera aside.

Magnus keeps an arm around her as they walk back to the circulation desk where she has to work for the rest of this period.

“I mean, you were never this happy with Camille or Imasu and you were the worst kind of person when you were with them. But Alec, he’s cool, and I can tell he makes you happy and he doesn’t make you spend every waking moment with him.”

“Alright, alright, I get it, I was a shit friend when I was with Camille and Imasu. But this just goes to show that I’ve learned my lesson. No more putting friends on the backburner for a girlfriend or boyfriend.”

“Damn right. But also, I don’t think Alec would ever ask you to.”

Magnus shakes his head.

“Which is one of the many reasons why I like him,” Catarina quips, poking him in the nose when she breaks away from him to go behind the desk.

Magnus stands on the other side, leaning on its top while she settles in on her chair. “He actually came over every day that I was sick. It was sweet.”

Catarina smiles fondly and begins to sort through a stack of returned books beside her. “That is sweet and I bet that won brownie points with your mom.”

“Oh my god, she’s absolutely smitten with him.” Magnus laughs.

It’s true, his mom told him as much this morning when she relayed her and Alec’s conversation to him. And she ended it all with a proud smile saying, I hope you both change your minds by graduation. A sudden reminder Magnus did not need after the way his heart has been soaring the past few days but, he has to say, so much in him has changed already and he’s pretty sure the same could be said for Alec. If his mixtape is anything to go by. But whether or not that changes anything in terms of their relationship, he doesn’t know but he also doesn’t feel like holding back anymore. Not if he can help it.

“Question.”

Catarina glances up at him. “I’ll try to answer.”

“How much thought should I put into a mixtape Alexander made for me?”

She slowly slides a return card into the slot at the front of the book and meets his eyes, a serious expression on her face that she only makes when she means business. “It’s a mixtape, Magnus. You put all the thought into it. Tell me.”

“Well, we listened to it together and we talked most of the time so I couldn’t pay too much attention but…”

“Give me an example,” she cuts in, waving her hand for him to hurry.

“Tom Petty, Wildflowers.”

“He’s in love with you.”

“Ah.” Magnus raises a hand. He can’t have her clouding his mind, he’s determined to remain sensible about it all. Even though the coincidence would be big if Alec just so happened to choose nothing but love songs on the mixtape. “Jeff Buckley—”

“He’s in love with you.”

Magnus stops, mouth parted. “You didn’t even let me say which song.”

“Don’t have to. What else?”

“I don’t have all the tracks memorized but I’m pretty sure they’re all love songs in their own right.” He twists at the bracelet on his wrist and watches his friend’s face light up with too much excitement.

She cups her face in her hands, smiling wide. “I want my own love letter mixtape.” She straightens in her seat and points at him. “We’re listening to it while we work on his posters tonight.”

“Obviously and you can help me not overthink it.”

“Yeah, right.” Catarina snorts. She picks up another book, checks the card and then slides it back, moving onto the next. “So, is there anything new in the you-know-what department?”

“Are you asking me if we’ve had sex?”

She looks over her shoulder, checking for Ms. Rollins, the librarian, and then shushes him. “Not so loud, but yes.”

Magnus knew this question would come up again and he hasn’t quite figured out how to ask Alec how he’s supposed to respond. It’s probably best if he doesn’t. It’s easier to dodge. “Nothing new yet.”

She smirks at him, a knowing gleam in her eye as she stamps one of the cards.

“What?” He sighs, ready for the lecture she’s going to make him suffer through as if he would actually not be having sex with Alec were they actually together. Or they would have at least made it to second base by now.

Alexander , surprise goody bags in lockers, hand drawn signs, willingly going to soccer games, love declaration mixtapes, not having sex with him even after pushing two months of being together…”—She sniffs the air—“Is that love I smell?”

“Ha. Ha.” Magnus pushes away from the desk. “I’m not dignifying that with an answer. Meet me at my house when you’re finished with whatever club you’ve got today, we have signs to make!”

He ignores her giggling and pushes through the double doors that take him out of the library, almost knocking over a scared looking freshman on his way out to the walkway leading him to the campus’ main building. The pass in his pocket and the fact that he’s finished with his exam in Chemistry gives him the liberty to roam a little longer than necessary, making a detour past Alec’s physics class. The hallway is empty so he’s able to walk up to the door, undisturbed, and peeks in through the small single pane window. Alec is easy to spot, sitting a head above the others and close to the front like the goody-two-shoes that he is. Magnus taps lightly on the glass and huffs when Alec doesn’t look up. He tries again with a little more gusto this time and it works because Alec’s eyes jump up to find him. Magnus waves and Alec smiles, pressing his lips together to conceal it when Mr. Aldertree walks by.

“Go to the bathr—” Magnus jumps when the door is yanked open to show Mr. Aldertree looming over him.

“Mr. Bane, I hope you’re here for something besides distracting my students.”

Magnus stands up straight. “Yes, Mrs. Penhallow needs to see Alexander. Yearbook stuff.” Magnus takes the blank hall pass from his pocket and flashes it quickly before stuffing it back, hoping that Mr. Aldertree won’t press him further. Magnus is pretty much his star pupil so he has a feeling he won’t question him too much. He peeks around Mr. Aldertree to look at Alec whose brows jump up behind Mr. Aldertree’s back like he’s expecting to get caught for something he hasn’t done considering he’s been dutifully taking notes.

Mr. Aldertree doesn’t say anything, only gestures for Alec to go with Magnus.

Alec carefully packs up his things and slides out of his desk, meeting Magnus in the hallway, closing the door behind him. He waits until they’re further down the hall before he takes Magnus’ hand in his, their fingers finding their home between each other like they always do - Magnus’ heart giving an extra thud like it always does.

“Is there a reason you pulled me out of physics?”

Magnus shrugs. “Thought it would be fun.”

Alec’s grip on his hand tightens and he lowers his head with a smile.

“You looked bored in there anyway.”

Alec laughs. “Can’t say it’s my favorite subject.”

“So I did you a favor?”

Alec’s swings their arms a little. “Physics or skipping class with you? I think that’s an easy choice. But I’ll admit, it’s probably the last class I should be skipping.”

“Not passing?”

Alec shakes his head. “No, I’m passing… but just barely.”

Magnus nudges him with his elbow. “Why haven’t you said anything? I can help you.”

“You want to help me with my physics class?” Alec asks, disbelieving.

“I happen to like physics,” Magnus says with a shrug, “and I’m very good at it.”

Alec’s face twists unpleasantly. “You like physics?”

Magnus nods. “Love it. I’m hoping to get into the astronautical engineering program at Stanford. A lot of physics, a lot of math.”

“So, rocket science?” Alec asks, curving a brow at him. “I’m impressed.”

Magnus clicks his tongue and presses in to whisper in his ear. “Do brains do it for you, Alexander?”

Alec chuckles, straightening his back and looking at Magnus out of the corner of his eye, the edge of his mouth smirking. “Maybe.”

Magnus is the one who started it and he honestly shouldn’t be surprised after the mixtape but somehow he still is and now that Alec has actually reciprocated with his own flirt, Magnus can’t take it. His face is hot and the only thing he can do to not draw too much attention to his obvious appreciation for Alec’s flirtations is change the subject. “You ready for your game tomorrow?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be. Speaking of”—Alec stops and pulls Magnus out of the hall and beside the stairwell; fingers playing in Magnus’ palm, his bottom lip tucked between his teeth while he considers his next words—“if you’re not feeling up for it, you don’t have to come. I know I asked you to but obviously, I care more about you getting better.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure I told you this is something I’d do for you. I’m your boyfriend, aren’t I?” Magnus means to say this playfully, to tease Alec, but he’s afraid he’s missed the mark completely by the way Alec’s mouth falls into a flat line.

He lets go of Magnus’ hand and hooks his thumbs in the back pockets of his jeans instead. “I know what we said but this isn’t some requirement I expect of you.”

“A deal is a deal though.” Magnus isn’t sure why he’s acting like this is something he’s doing because of their arrangement and the fact he’s being paid. He’s been looking forward to the game since Alec asked him over the weekend, planning the signs and sending his mom to buy all of Alec’s favorite treats for the goody bag that he worked on all the days he’s been home sick. Obligation is not something he’s felt towards it at all.

Alec’s face hardens more, eyebrows pinching in the middle, and he shrugs his elbows out. “Well, consider this as me letting you off the hook.”

“I never said I wanted to be let off the hook,” Magnus fires back and Alec sighs, looking out the window at the empty common area where students normally hang out between classes.  

His eyes look darker, sadder, when he meets Magnus’ again, his voice low, “What do you want then?”

You. This, Magnus thinks. Clearly, Alec’s worried Magnus believes he’s obligated to do these things for him and he hates that look in his eyes. He hates that he made Alec doubt for even one second.

“I want us to stop arguing over this because it’s stupid.” Alec makes a sound like he’s about to say something but stops when Magnus holds a finger up to his mouth. “I’m feeling much better today and I want to watch you play soccer tomorrow and every other game you have left this season. Now, is that what you want?”

Alec releases the hold on his pockets, relaxing his stance, curving his body towards Magnus. “Of course it is.”

Magnus grabs at the open letterman jacket Alec wears and tugs him in. “Good, cause I’m looking forward to it. I’ve even convinced Cat to tag along.”

Alec huffs, stepping in closer, reaching up to fiddle with a button on Magnus’ shirt. “She’s going to resent me if you start dragging her to every game.”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “Impossible. She adores you. Which is a feat, let me tell you, she is not easy to impress.”

“Then it seems I’m gonna have to do whatever I can to stay in her good graces. Any advice?”

“Definitely sing Alanis with her any chance you get.”

Alec laughs and pulls Magnus in, wrapping his arms around him. “You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”

“Nope.” Magnus kisses him on the cheek. A fast, firm kiss leaving his lips pricked by the growing stubble Alexander tries to keep shaved. It leaves him stunned, eyes blown wide, a crooked smile lifting his cheek on one side. Magnus takes his hand again. “Come on, the bell’s about to ring and you can walk me to my Engineering club.”

 

.

 

Alec makes his way through the busy hallway, turning his shoulders to avoid bumping into his fellow classmates who abruptly stop to chat in the middle like there aren’t hundreds of people trying to get to their classes. The good thing about being possibly the tallest guy in school is he can easily see over everyone’s heads and so he spots Simon waiting for him at his locker—his locker which is covered in what looks like poster board.

“What the hell?” he says as he gets closer and Simon’s eyes light up.

“You and Magnus have to be the cutest couple to ever exist,” Simon gushes.

Alec steps back to take in his locker door that is covered in poster board and black and silver glitter. It has his name and jersey number, a picture of him he didn’t even know existed with hearts stuck to it, and supportive messages written all around.

He expels a small laugh, no wonder Magnus told him he would see him at the game tonight instead of after school like they normally do.

“The mixtape worked my friend,” Simon says, clasping onto Alec’s shoulders. “Well…you’re already together so it’s not like you had much work to do but you know what I mean…”

“Yeah,” Alec breathes out, still trying to take in all the details of Magnus’ work.

Maybe it had worked.

The mixtape had been a risk. He’d called Simon with the songs he wanted to include and while Simon had tried to encourage more obviously affectionate songs, and suggested one too many Bryan Adams songs which were not exactly what Alec would consider subtle, he had to go with some that didn’t scream I’m falling in love with you. And he thinks he did pretty well except for a couple that are pretty obvious but they’re good songs and he won’t be one to keep good music from Magnus.

He’s trying to ease his way into this. Feel his way and see if Magnus continues to seem interested. He can’t let his heart be his guide. Even though that’s exactly what he wants to do, he wants to be smart about it, because Magnus deserves the careful attention he wants to give.

“If anyone deserves a high school sweetheart, it’s you.”

“What?”

Simon cleans his glasses with the end of his shirt and looks at Alec, squinting. “You’re like, a hundred times happier ever since you and Magnus started dating. It’s nice to see you like this.” He examines the lenses in the fluorescent lights overhead before sliding them back on. “Who would’ve known that Magnus Bane was who you were meant to be with. We’ve been going to school with him since we were kids. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how cute he is before too.”

Alec chuckles and turns the dial on the combination. “Yeah, I think you have.”

Simon shrugs, a grin taking over his face. “Crazy how destiny works.”

Alec pulls open his locker and stops, surprised to find a bag, decorated as much as his locker door, waiting for him inside.

He takes it out and holds it for Simon to see. “Did you help him with this?”

Simon shakes his head. “I swear. I only saw it when I came to wait on you.”

Alec drops his books in the locker and slams it shut. He carefully opens the bag and looks inside to find it filled with his favorite snacks.

“What’s going on over here?” Maia asks coming up behind him, kneeing him in the butt in greeting, the way she has since middle school; it doesn’t even faze him anymore.

“Magnus has officially become Alec’s number one supporter.”

“Aw,” Maia croons and peeks into the bag. “You going to share those sour worms?”

Alec holds the bag closer to him and out of her reach. “Get your own.”

“Wait, is Magnus going to your game tonight?” Simon asks, offense flashing in his brown eyes.

“Well, yeah, he’s my boyfriend.”

Simon’s mouth parts, even more offended, a scoff blowing out. He pushes his glasses up and points at himself. “Best friend - for your entire life - standing right here and you told me and Maia we couldn’t come.”

“I don’t need everyone there tonight. Just Magnus.”

Simon blinks, straightening his face. “That’s romantic. I’m not gonna be offended. Nope.”

Maia rolls her eyes and drapes her arm over Simon’s shoulders. “I’m sure it’s nothing personal.”

“It’s not, but I have my reasons, okay?”

Simon huffs. “Fine. I’ll root for you from my bedroom, alone, and then cry into my pillow before bed.”

“Thank you, that means a lot.” Alec flashes him a fake grin and Simon flips him off, shoving Alec forward towards their last class of the day.

He sifts through the contents once he sits at his desk and pulls out a small index card he almost didn’t see towards the bottom.

For the *sweetest* boyfriend who has the *sweetest* moves in the goal (in the entire state).

Love, Magnus

He reads the message, his eyes lingering on the word ‘love’ over and over again. It’s a simple note and for all he knows, Magnus signs all his notes off with ‘love,’ but he thinks about the way Magnus’ eyes shine when he looks at him - the way Alec leaves him smiling after every kiss on his cheek. It has to mean something and that’s enough. He doesn’t recognize the grin on his face until Simon makes a noise from the desk beside him.

Maia, who sits behind Simon, smirks while she opens her notebook. “Those two are so gone for each other, it’s fucking adorable.”

Alec doesn’t know how deep he is yet or how much he’s falling, but he is falling. And being gone for Magnus… well, it sure as hell feels like he’s headed in that direction.

.

 

It’s springtime and Magnus never took into account how cold it can get at night, especially when there’s a slight breeze in the air. He’s over his cold but the tip of his nose is growing colder by the second and it’s about to start running again. He’s glad he listened to Alec when he insisted Magnus take his letterman jacket to wear tonight. It’s warm and heavy with its white leather sleeves and Magnus curls into it, proudly displaying Alec’s last name in bold silver across his right breast. He’s even more thankful Catarina has enough sense to bring a blanket for them to cuddle under. Even though she did tease him relentlessly over how cute it is that he’s wearing Alec’s jacket.

He leans forward in his seat when the opposing goalie punts the ball across the field, their school’s defense bracing themselves to try and gain control of the ball. His elbows dig uncomfortably above his knees. Watching the ball bounce back and forth between teams, getting dangerously close to Alec’s goal for barely a breath before it’s kicked back across the field. Catarina’s leg bounces beside him and she chews on her thumb nail a little too loudly in his ear but he can’t blame her for being as invested as she is. He never knew he would find himself this invested in a soccer game but now that he’s taken the time to learn, he has a newfound interest in the sport. And an afternoon spent listening to Alec explain the rules and strategies was honestly not the worst way to spend an afternoon - especially considering they did it in the comfort of Alec’s bed, lying side by side.

Neither team has scored which is good and bad. They obviously want to score and win but the other team needs to get one more shot on goal that Alec can save so he can beat the state record for most consecutive saves. This is what Alec’s hoping the scouts will see tonight. And he was right, the scouts are here, they’re peppered throughout the stadium, sitting alone, taking notes in their steno pads.

Alec is standing in the goal, arms up and holding the top of the goal post, all black uniform with long sleeves and tights under his shorts. A long, lean line of sleek black standing out against the white and silver uniforms of Idris High’s players, a bright yellow Captain’s armband around his bicep. He shouts something at one of the players and then spits. Magnus isn’t the biggest sports fan, nor does he care for the jock type but damn if there isn’t something incredibly appealing about seeing Alec in this element. Covered in sweat, barking orders, eyes razor sharp focused on the ball at all times.

“Wipe your drool up,” Catarina comments with a sharp laugh and Magnus shoots her a glare.

“Okay, but it’s incredibly inconvenient how attracted I am to him.”

She nudges at him and waggles her brows.

Magnus trails his eyes up Alec’s form, lean muscles flexing when he positions himself in the center of the goal, squatting, braced to make a leap if he needs to. Magnus licks his lips. “Okay, I need to stop drooling.”

She giggles and Magnus takes her wrist to check the time on her watch. There’s only nine minutes left in the game. Nine minutes for Alec to break a state record.

“I’m going to make myself sick I’m so nervous,” he comments, dropping her arm and blowing out a lungful of air.

“Don’t worry—” Catarina stops when Magnus grabs at her, squeezing onto her arm.

The forward from the other team breaks away from one of Idris’ wings and bounds across the field towards the goal. Alec perches on the balls of his feet, hands hovering in front of him,  anticipating the player’s next move.

He’d told Magnus that being a goalie is a mix of learning body language, instincts, and sheer luck. Once he decides which way to jump, there’s no going back and after that, it’s hit or miss. Magnus can practically see him calculating his odds, watching the other player, making his decision on which way to go.

“Oh my God, I can’t watch.” Magnus covers his face, splits his fingers and watches through the cracks.

Catarina clings to his arm and sucks in a breath when the player pulls his leg back to shoot.

Magnus bites down on his lip and waits. Time slows as he watches the ball soar across the field, Alec’s eyes going up to follow it. He springs up and to the left, throwing his entire body in front of the goal, the ball whisks past the defensive players and hits his hand, flying off back onto the field. He crashes to the ground and Magnus cheers, along with the rest of the crowd, until their cheers turn to shouts when a player runs up and kicks the ball again. Magnus holds his breath, watching as Alec scrambles up from the ground, jumping in the other direction where the ball shoots directly into his chest and he catches it, curling his body around it as he hits the ground again.

Magnus jumps up cheering, Catarina beside him, screaming and waving her sign. The home crowd is raucous and exhilarated as Alec gets up and kicks the ball back out to his team. He looks over at the crowd and Magnus waves his arms at him, he doesn’t know if he can spot him amongst the others but he hopes he can feel his support all the same. He chances a look at one of the scouts who writes something on his pad with a grin.

Alexander Lightwood has broken the state record by two saves and Magnus is teeming with pride.

The crowd roars again and Magnus hears the whistle blow three times, the scoreboard showing one goal was made at the last minute. The team rushes across the field and they tackle whoever it was who made the goal. Magnus doesn’t know, doesn’t care, because all he cares about is that Alec’s there, throwing his weight on top of the pile, smiling and celebrating - receiving pats on the back from his teammates. Coach Garroway joins them and they jump up with hugs and cheers. Benched players run onto the field and dump an entire cooler of water over Coach Garroway’s head while the other team lines up.

They don’t celebrate too long before he makes them line up as well. The teams pass each other and slap each other’s hands, muttering ‘good game’ over and over again. It’s down to Alec and the other goalie, they shake hands and Alec’s face breaks out into a wide grin at something the other player says. Magnus wants his joy to last forever, he wants Alec’s face to always glow the way it is now. And he’s struck with the sudden urge and need to see it up close, to memorize the unbridled happiness marked there.

Magnus hands Catarina his end of the blanket. “I’m gonna go—”

“Go congratulate your man!” she calls after him and he waves at her before scaling down the stadium seats, pushing past parents and fellow classmates. He crosses the track and finally reaches the soft grass of the sidelines. Alec spots him, breaks away from whoever he was speaking to, and jogs over him, grinning all the while.

Magnus is reminded again, how breathtaking Alec’s smile is up close.

“Alexander! You did it—”

Alec crashes into him, wrapping a hot arm around his waist, and pulls Magnus in until their mouths slot together. Every thought Magnus has dissipates the moment Alec’s lips part against his. Every doubt and caution are gone in the breeze when their tongues slide against each other. There’s nothing but the pull of their chests and beating hearts together, the taste of salt and the weight of Alec’s hand holding his neck, thumb damp with sweat grazing the line of Magnus’ jaw.

Everything fades around them and Magnus is floating with only the soft gusts of Alec against his face; the wet sound of their kiss; and Alec’s quiet contented hum when he pulls back and opens his eyes to gaze on Magnus. He’s smiling, and the honey brown is a thin ring around his pupils. It’s all Magnus can see before he’s closing his eyes and pulling Alec into him, tasting him once again - because he’s never had something more addicting in all his life. He slides his hands around Alec’s neck, carding his cold fingers into the wet hairs slick at the base of his neck.

Someone wolf whistles and Alec grins into their kiss, holding Magnus tighter, his tongue licking softly into his mouth. Magnus could do this forever. For the rest of time, he could stand here and kiss this man. But he has to stop eventually, he needs to breathe and so he reluctantly pulls back, a grin overtaking his face that he finds matching on his boyfriend.

“Congratulations on an excellent game,” Magnus whispers, almost soundless. “You were spectacular out there.”

Alec’s smile grows, crinkling at the corners of his eyes that flick down to Magnus’ lips again. “Thank you,” he whispers back, leaning in and stealing another kiss. Slower this time and not deepened beyond parted lips.

“You broke the record,” Magnus mutters against Alec’s lips when they part again. “By two.”

“You’re cold,” Alec notes, bumping the tip of Magnus’ cold nose with his own before he places a hot peck against it. He takes Magnus’ wrists and lowers his arms, taking each hand in his before sliding them into Magnus’ pockets. “Did the jacket not help at all?”

“It actually did. You’ll be lucky if you ever get it back.”

“Keep it.”

“Don’t say things you don’t mean, Alexander because I mean what I say when I say I won’t give this back,” Magnus teases.

“I mean it. You’re my boyfriend. I want you to keep it.” He dips down and steals another kiss that leaves Magnus breathless yet again.

Alec tilts his head towards the parking lot. “Come on, let’s get you home.”

“You don’t have to do anything with the team? Or with the scouts?”

Alec shakes his head. “All I have to do right now is get you out of the cold.”

Magnus slides his hands out from the warmth of Alec’s hands and his pockets and rests his palms against the cool jersey fabric over Alec’s chest, feeling his heart patter roughly in time with his own. “How about dinner?” he asks. He may be cold but it won’t last forever and right now he doesn’t want to go home if it means leaving Alec’s side.

Alec’s eyes shine like gems, the light of his victory reflecting with the stadium lighting and the sky. Happiness looks good on him. “Okay. You wanna invite Catarina to come with us?”

Magnus looks over his shoulder at his friend who offers him a small wave when he finds her standing by the sideline, keeping her distance. “Yeah, I’d love that.”

“I’ll go get my things and say bye to Coach.” Alec lets go of him and goes back to his team.

Magnus sucks in a breath, licks his lips where he can still taste Alec on him, and walks over to Catarina.

She’s smirking, arms crossed with a folded blanket resting over them. “Looks like someone is walking in the clouds.”

Magnus pulls the jacket tighter around his waist, shoving his hands in his pockets. “He’s a good kisser.”

“I’ve never seen you look more dopey than you do right now.” She giggles. “You’d think you’ve never kissed the man before.”

If she only knew. If she only knew that this kiss was their first since that party and it was unimaginably perfect and real. The best kiss Magnus has ever had, hands down. No other can even compare.

“He’s a very good kisser,” he stresses again. “And my very good kisser boyfriend sent me over to invite you out to eat with us.”

She tips her head. “Do you want me to?”

“Do I want you to? What kind of stupid question is that? Of course I do.”

She looks surprised at the decision but happy and Magnus wishes he could go back in time and slap himself for ever making his best friend feel like her company was ever anything but wanted. He made a lot of stupid decisions when dating Imasu and again when dating Camille. And Catarina had stuck around. He doesn’t deserve her friendship but he will never not be thankful that she thinks he does. He swears to do things differently this time with Alec. And already Alec’s proven to be leaps and bounds better than the rest by genuinely wanting to spend time with Magnus’ friends.

Magnus throws his arm around her side and pulls her in for a side hug. “You pick where we go.”

She gasps in excitement. “Easy. Up Top.”

“We haven’t been there in ages so my vote is hell yes.”

She pulls her keys out of her pocket when Magnus lets go and finds Alec approaching them. “Up Top Grill, Lightwood. I’ll meet you guys there.”

Alec gives her a casual salute, stepping in to stand beside Magnus. “We’ll be right behind you.”

She kisses Magnus on the cheek and heads towards the back parking lot.

Magnus turns on his heel. “You ready?”

Alec nods and leans in to kiss Magnus’ nose again. “Your poor nose is so red. I feel awful for making you stay out here after you just got over being sick.”

Magnus rolls his eyes and kisses Alec on the lips - a small quick kiss because apart from kissing him like his life depended on it, he does have some semblance of self-control. “Oh, shut up.”

Alec’s lids hang heavy from the kiss and his mouth quirks into another all too pleased smile.

“I’d like to see you try and make me,” he challenges, voice hoarse and low, fueling the flame Magnus has roaring inside him and there goes the self-control he was just internally congratulating himself for.

He closes the distance and kisses Alec again, and again until it’s past the point of what could even be considered decent for a public area - surrounded by Alec’s entire soccer team and their friends and family. He’ll stop in a minute, he will stop this because this is not the best idea, he will stop—Alec makes a noise at the back of his throat, slipping into their kiss and Magnus’ heart pounds without his consent or control against his ribs.

“Lightwood!” There’s the sound of something hitting Alec and he laughs, breaking their kiss. He runs his tongue over his bottom lip and then looks over his shoulder.

Coach Garroway is standing there, hands on his hips. “Take that off my field before I call your mother.”

Magnus purses his lips to contain his laugh. “I’m sure she’d love that,” he mumbles.

“What was that, Bane?” Coach Garroway asks, leaning to look around Alec’s body.

“I’m sure Ms. Lightwood would love getting a call from you,” Magnus says louder, being sure to put on his most innocent smile.

Alec coughs and takes Magnus’ arm in hand, tugging him after he kicks the soccer ball Coach Garroway threw at him. “We’re leaving!”

Magnus waves at Coach Garroway over his shoulder who waves back at him, shaking his head with a proud grin on his face. He giggles when he catches the all too amused look Alec is giving him. “What? There are worse things than having Coach Garroway as your future step-dad.”

Alec huffs. “Yeah, but I can’t let them know I’m secretly rooting for them.”

They get to Alec’s car and he opens the door for Magnus, hesitating before closing it, his eyes silently asking permission now that they’re alone, no audience but a want that is still so clearly there in his hazel eyes. Magnus tips his chin up, inviting Alec to cross the distance, to do what they both obviously want. If Magnus had known going into this that kissing Alec would make him feel this way, he might have reconsidered signing up for this role but at the same time, he doesn’t regret agreeing to this for one minute. They never would have found their way here on their own, a thought that is sobering but not strong enough to pull Magnus down from the clouds he’s walking on when Alec smiles down at him, lips wet and thoroughly kissed. As he should be.

.

Alec hums a tune stuck in his head while he pours coffee into his mug, watching the milk cloud up and turn the dark brown a creamier shade.

“Someone’s happy this Monday morning,” his mom says, coming up from behind and reaching around him to take her thermos off the counter.

“I am.”

She smiles, pouring her coffee. “This have anything to do with Magnus?”

Alec blows on his coffee before taking a sip. “He’s part of it.”

Magnus had spent his weekend with Catarina and Ragnor so he and Alec caught up on the phone last night. And they’d spent most of their night talking. Magnus absolutely has everything to do with his happiness.

She screws the lid on and presses on the lip to make sure it’s closed, a smirk dancing on her lips when she looks up at him. “Is it time for me to refresh our talk?”

Alec’s eyes widen as he swallows the strong coffee, his throat burning. “Please, no. I remember the talk perfectly fine. Besides, it’s not”—he clears his throat that’s suddenly feeling itchy and raw—“necessary. We’re not doing anything like that.

She rests her hand on his forearm and pats it, and the raised brow she gives him shows she doesn’t believe him. “I would rather not spend my week worried while you’re in Costa Rica. So always be safe. Use protection—”

“Mom.” Alec pauses mid-sip. “I got it. Thanks.”

“I assume Magnus is going?” his mom probes, packing an apple and small cup of peanut butter into her bag.

Truth be told, Alec completely forgot about their senior trip, and now it’s only two weeks away. He doesn’t know how it slipped his mind. Especially, considering a few months ago Simon wouldn’t shut up about it. But then again he has been a little preoccupied with trying not to fall for his fake boyfriend and then miserably failing at that task.

Alec sets his mug down and rubs at the front of his neck. “Actually, I don’t know… we haven’t talked about it.”

She hums and zips her bag. “Odd it hasn’t come up.” She turns to him and kisses him on the cheek, wiping away whatever remnants of brown lipstick she left behind. “I’m sure it will now that it’s almost here but I trust you.” She wipes at the corner of his eye and he pulls away to get out of her reach and that mom-picking that she does when she tries to clean him up as she used to when he was a child.

She lowers her hand and smiles up at him. “It makes me happy to see you so happy. Magnus… he’s good for you. I hope he sticks around.”

Alec puts on a smile for her and goes back to his coffee. He doesn’t want to tell her there’s an expiration date to his happiness. That, come May, it will all be over and he and Magnus will part like strangers. He sips at his drink and winces again.

She worries and cups his cheek. “Feeling okay, sweetie?”

“Yeah, fine.”

“Okay, see you for dinner. I love you.”

“Love you too.” Alec watches as his mother collects her things, kisses a sleepy Jace goodbye and yells her goodbye to Izzy who is probably still locked up in the bathroom upstairs. Alec finishes off his coffee while Jace pours himself a bowl of cereal.

He’s grabbing his things from the counter when Jace finally speaks up, “I heard from a little birdie that someone broke a state record Friday night.”

Alec pauses, gently setting his mug in the sink, turning to face his brother. “How’d you hear?”

Jace gives him a quick glance over his shoulder, expression flat. Alec should have remembered that Jace is friends with a few of his teammates.

“Were you planning on telling us? Mom’s gonna be thrilled.”

Alec throws his backpack on one shoulder. “Yeah, but I wanted to wait and see if I hear anything from the scouts who were there.”

Jace lowers his spoon back into his bowl, eyes wide. “There were scouts there? And you didn’t tell us?”

Alec lowers his voice, hoping Jace will follow suit. “I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it in case nothing comes from it.”

Jace scoops some of his Lucky Charms onto his spoon. “Apparently it was a big enough deal for Magnus to go.” He shovels the cereal in his mouth and his blue-brown eyes glimmer teasingly at Alec while he chews.

“I—He’s never seen me play and I wanted him there for this game,” Alec says, soft and way too wistful, there’s no way Jace won’t catch it but he doesn’t care.

Jace’s mouth pulls back, happy while he chews. “I bet he got to see one hell of a game. I’m sure I can speak for the rest of the fam when I say we would have loved to see you break the record but…” he takes another bite and shrugs, tipping his head. “I can get you only wanting Magnus there.”

“Thanks.”

“Besides, not sure if mom would have survived the heart attack she would have gotten from watching her son make out with his boyfriend on the soccer field.”

“How—” Alec cuts his own line of questioning because it’s obvious his teammates are loose-lipped beyond reason.

Jace winks, taking in another spoonful. “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything to Iz or Mom. They wouldn’t let you hear the end of it.”

Alec huffs out a laugh. “Mom already tried to give me another sex talk this morning.”

Jace snorts, scraping his spoon down the side of his bowl to pick up the remaining floating marshmallows. “First boyfriend. Sounds like Mom. I got the same speech when Clary and I started dating. I’m sure she thinks senior trip is going to be the new prom night for you.”

Alec rolls his eyes.

“But, I’m sure if you tell her you already have and you’re being safe…”

Heat starts to bloom in the tips of his ears and Alec swallows anxiously. “We”—he clears his throat with a small cough—“haven’t gone that far.”

Jace pauses from sipping the milk from his bowl. “You haven’t?”

Alec shakes his head. “We haven’t been together that long. Some people like to take their time.”

Jace holds a hand up. “No one’s saying there’s anything wrong with that. Take a chill pill.” He stands and takes his bowl to the sink, leaning one hip against the counter, crossing his arms when he meets Alec’s eyes. “You’re taking things slow. That’s great.”

Alec rubs at his eyes. “Yeah, it’s too early for this kind of talk. I’m going to school.”

Jace reaches out and squeezes Alec’s shoulder. He’s the best at showing unwavering support in the simplest of motions. The best to tell things to because he doesn’t try to offer solutions or even give much advice. He listens. Listens and supports. Isabelle would have tried to give advice or given Alec a speech on true love or how having sex for the first time with someone is great so long as you care for that person. Things Alec knows. And sometimes he does need to hear them - she has helped pull him back from many panic attacks before but right now, without being able to completely expose the sham that is his love life, he can’t take that kind of advice. He’s already thinking too much on their kiss as it is, the last thing he needs is to think about a step they will never take no matter how much he wants to. Especially if he focuses on what the fire pooled in his gut means whenever he thinks about Magnus shirtless or the way his tongue felt moving along with his or how he breathed heavy into his mouth when Alec touched down his neck before saying goodbye.

Alec expels out a deep breath once he’s in his car before beginning the short drive to Magnus’ house. He can’t let himself get caught up this way. He can’t believe he was so careless and took what he wanted without a second thought. But Magnus had given as much as Alec took. They’d met in the middle with smiling, blissed-out faces, eyes shut and hearts hammering.

They both wanted, he reminds himself; he tells himself, repeatedly, as he leans over the center console and kisses Magnus good morning when he slides into his car.


Chapter Text

But now I'm feeling it even more
Because it came from you
Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be
--
And now I tell you openly
You have my heart so don't hurt me
You’re what I couldn’t find
A totally amazing mind
So understanding and so kind
You're everything to me
- The Cranberries

 

His mom’s voice drifts up the stairwell and Alec angles his head, ear aimed at the door as she gets closer. He can’t hear what she’s saying but her laughter is more pronounced when she opens his door with a quick warning knock.

“Magnus is here to see you, sweetie,” she says, ushering Magnus in with a warm smile and a hand on his back. “Do you boys need anything?”

Magnus shakes his head. “I’m okay, thank you.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“Okay then.” She gives Magnus another warm smile, scrunching her nose at him before closing the door completely.

Magnus tips his head towards the door, proud and pleased smile on his face. “I’ve worked my way up to a closed door now.” He crosses the room, arms behind his back. “I think that’s basically giving me permission.”

Alec chuckles and then breaks out into a cough. “Or that means she doesn’t think we’re stupid enough to do anything when I’m currently dying.”

“She underestimates me.” Magnus carefully toes off his shoes when he reaches the side of Alec’s bed. He bends over and kisses Alec once on his forehead and pulls his hand out from behind his back. There’s a bunch of flowers in his grip—a mix of pink, purple, yellow, and white; all different types.

Alec smiles, sitting up in bed. “Are those for me?”

“I picked them on my way over.”

He takes the bundle of fresh picked flowers and puts his nose up to them, smelling a mix of sweet and the musty aroma of pollen. “Wildflowers?”

Magnus touches his chin, his mouth pulling softly into a smile when he moves to hold Alec’s jaw in his palm. “Let’s say I was inspired by your mixtape.”

Alec swallows, ignoring the burn in his throat. “Did you like it?” They had talked pretty much the entire time it played when Alec was over there so he was pretty sure Magnus didn’t get the chance to really pay close attention to the choices. And he was honestly too scared to ask about it again.

“I… love it,” Magnus says, “spent my weekend listening to it with Cat.”

“I’m”—Alec’s cheeks flush warm and his heart beats, getting away from him—“really glad you did.”

He glances at the flowers in his hand and brushes a finger against a white bloom. “Honeysuckle?”

Magnus sits on the edge of the bed. “I didn’t realize they were in bloom already. Want some?”

Alec nods and Magnus picks the bloom from its stem, pausing when he sees Alec’s pout. “What?”

“The yellow ones are sweeter.”

“What?” Magnus looks at him, incredulous. “You know the yellow ones are just white ones that turn over time?”

“What are you, a botanist? Don’t question my childhood opinions,” Alec teases and Magnus juts his jaw at him.

“Fine.” Magnus plucks a yellow bloom instead. “Spoiled brat.”

Alec grins, watching as Magnus pinches the end of the bloom. “Ready?” he asks and Alec nods, moving his face closer to the bloom while Magnus slowly pulls the thin stamen out. The nectar beads out when the end catches and Magnus lowers it to Alec’s lips. He takes the end of the bloom in his mouth and sucks at the hint of nectar.

Magnus watches him a moment and then plucks the bloom from his lips, lips pressed together. “That’s enough.”

Alec stares at him, mouth parted and scoffs. “You going to eat one?”

Magnus sighs and with a rebellious glint in his eyes, he plucks a white bloom from the stem. Alec laughs and rolls his eyes. He waits while Magnus finishes his honeysuckle and then leans over and puts the flowers in his glass of water on the nightstand. “I love them. Thank you.”

“How are you feeling?”

Alec shrugs a shoulder. “Better now that you’re here.”

Magnus smiles, a soft laugh escaping with it. “I can take a few germs,” he mocks playfully, sliding into bed beside Alec.

Alec groans and rolls into Magnus’ open arm, laying his head on his chest. “I wasn’t sick for my game so I was technically right.”

Magnus sighs, his chest lifting and lowering Alec’s head with the action.

“It was worth it,” Alec mumbles out tiredly and Magnus slowly cards his fingers through Alec’s hair, massaging his scalp and Alec’s body starts to meld into the mattress. “You’re going to put me to sleep,” he complains.

“You should rest,” Magnus whispers.

“If I fall asleep, I won’t get to spend time with you.” Alec has waited all day for Magnus to get out of school and come over. He doesn’t want to fall asleep now that he finally has him here. “Put a movie on. I’ll stay awake.”

“Alexander Lightwood,” Magnus says in a firm tone, stopping his ministrations through Alec’s hair. “If you’re tired—rest.”

Alec closes his eyes and shakes his head. “I’m not. Tell me about your day.”

“I went to school. It was boring. You?”

Alec chuckles and his throat hurts with the sound. “I started The X-Files again. Watched some reruns of Unsolved Mysteries . Ate the soup you and your mom made for me and it was delicious and I want more. Got a rejection letter from Duke so that’s some news I’ll have to give Maia.”

Magnus’ arm tightens around him. “I’m sorry. I know you wanted to go to school with each other.”

Alec hums, shrugging as best as he can before nuzzling in more against Magnus’ chest. He wasn’t surprised with the rejection letter. There are loads of students with better grades than his who deserve to go to that school. He still has other options, or so he hopes. “It was a long shot.”

“But still. It sucks.” Magnus leans over him and kisses him on his temple and yes, getting a rejection letter sucks but if he has Magnus here to hold him and kiss him then Alec thinks he’ll be just fine.

He shifts enough to lift his head to look at Magnus. “You think you’ll get sick again if I ask for a kiss?”

“I think kissing me got you in this mess in the first place, darling.”

Alec closes his eyes at the endearment, a smile ghosting on his lips that he lifts in invitation. He will gladly take a million colds for even one kiss from Magnus. “Worth every germ.”

Magnus giggles and Alec feels it fan over his cheeks and onto his waiting mouth. “I think I will be fine with one kiss. I probably still have the immunoglobulins in my—”

Alec opens his eyes to fix Magnus with what’s supposed to be an unamused glare but he’s smiling too damn much to pull that off. “Just shut up and say antibodies, you fucking nerd.”

Magnus bends down closer, his smile alluringly cocky. “I thought it got you all hot and bothered when I showed off my nerdy side?”

“Uh huh.” Alec closes his eyes and kisses him softly.

“I do think my antibodies can take a few more kisses though,” Magnus whispers, urging his mouth down for another kiss that Alec happily gives.

“Is that how it works?” he asks, planting a small peck on Magnus’ kiss puckered lips.

Magnus returns the kiss with a smile. “Fuck if I know.”

“We should not be sharing our germs like this,” Alec says. “Our senior trip is in two weeks.”

“You’re right.” Magnus pulls back enough to swipe his thumb along Alec’s bottom lip. “We can’t be sick on the trip. But… we do have two weeks.”

“Is two weeks enough time to beat this cold?” Alec debates.

Magnus nods, pulling him in more. “Oh yes. I think so.”

God, Alec should not be kissing Magnus this much. He should not be risking Magnus’ health… or his own heart but it feels safe here in Magnus’ arms. Alec’s never given his heart away, he doesn’t know if it should feel so dangerous yet safe at the same time. He doesn’t know how much he should give or how much Magnus even wants of him. He’s willing to give it all though. Give it away and never want it back.

He sighs and lets Magnus hold him as he kisses him again, giving himself up.

.

 

One five hour flight, forty minute bus ride to the resort, thirty minute long orientation and room assignment later, Alec dumps his carry-on onto the bed, disrupting the swan-shaped towel left to greet him. Simon follows after him, going to the adjoining room where he flings himself down onto the mattress.

“I’m ready to eat,” Simon grumbles into the pillow.

“You’re always ready to eat.” Alec quickly shoves his clothes into the wardrobe and pushes his suitcase under the bed. He told Magnus he’d meet him by the pool and he wants to get there as fast as he can. “You have five minutes before I go to the pool without you.”

Simon groans in response but Alec sees him get up out of the corner of his eye on his way to the bathroom to change into his swim trunks. Five minutes is all it takes for him to be ready, Simon close on his heels, winding through the halls of the resort to find their way to the pool with connecting hot springs. He can already see Magnus standing with Catarina, Maia, and who Alec knows is Ragnor although they haven’t spent much time together.

Simon’s elbow digs into his rib cage with a sharp jerk and Alec jumps, rubbing at the sore spot. “What the hell?”

“Your jaw was dragging, didn’t want you to embarrass yourself in front of  your significantly cooler boyfriend that Maia and I still can’t figure out how you managed to get.”

Alec pauses to glance at his best friend. “Is this something you guys discuss when I’m not around?”

“Uh, doy.” Simon laughs. “We’re convinced we missed something.”

Alec presses his lips together, finding Magnus across the way, beautiful in the tropical sunlight. They’re not wrong. Magnus was never going to give Alec a second glance had it not been for Raj’s rumor and Alec’s offer of money.

“Maybe I’m paying him to be my boyfriend,” he cuts out and it feels good to say the truth even though he knows Simon won’t believe him.

Simon slaps him on his shoulder. “Relax. We’re shocked in a good way. About time someone noticed how dashingly handsome you are.”

“Too bad it’s not going to last,” Alec mumbles, pushing past his friend who doesn’t let him make it more than two steps before he’s grabbing onto his arm, jerking Alec back to face him.

“What was that?” Simon lifts his sunglasses up, all jokes and games aside.

Alec closes his eyes at the sound of Magnus laughing with their friends. The rejection letter from Duke got him thinking too much over the past two weeks about college, his future, their future. And Izzy is right, he definitely overthinks but with all his overthinking he wasn’t able to come up with a single solution to his problem. And he doesn’t want to think about it anymore. He wants to spend as much time as he can with Magnus, care about him, and enjoy it all while he can. “It’s nothing.”

Simon keeps his grip tight on Alec’s arm. “It’s not nothing.”

His normally carefree, happy-go-lucky best friend is worried and studying him carefully with crinkled brows and a frown. This is not how they should be spending their week. “I’d rather not talk about it right now, I want to enjoy our trip.”

Simon’s grip loosens and his frown deepens but he nods nonetheless. “But you’ll tell me?”

“Yeah.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

He’ll tell him the basic truth, not the whole truth, he doesn’t think he can ever admit that to anyone. How do you tell your friends that you paid for a boyfriend and then started to fall for him? He can’t. It doesn’t even matter how it started, not really. All that matters is where he is now and where Magnus is and where they are together. Accepting of what they are and what they mean to each other without ever having to put it into words because there aren’t any. It’s their secret, one he’ll carry with him forever. A truth so big he can only carry it inside his heart, coating his soul, a memory of love that will secretly destroy him when he has to eventually let it go.

 

.

 

“Say cheese!”

Alec holds onto the wire and leans his dangling weight as close as he can into Magnus, smiling at the paper covered camera Maia has aimed at them. She snaps the picture and then winds the film up, the scratching sound loud before she holds the camera up again.

“Now for a cute couple pose,” she all but squeals at them.

The employee stands by them with a huff, clearly wanting to hurry up with sending them down the zip-line but is being held up by Maia’s insistence on documenting every breath they take in this country. Magnus pulls him back and before he can register a thing, Magnus’ lips are against his cheek and Alec laughs as the shutter clicks on Maia’s camera.

“Adorable! I swear you two are the cutest.” She zips her camera back into her fanny pack and nods when the employee questions her with a look.

It’s small moments like these that send Alec hurtling head first into every emotion Magnus pulls from him. Heart hammering wildly in love. In absolute and complete love.

Magnus is joking with Simon about something that Alec can’t hear over his thundering pulse that only intensifies when Magnus glides his hand through Alec’s hair, brushing the shell of his ear delicately.

“You ready to jump?” he asks Alec, smile sparkling, eyes shining brighter than the sun above them in the canopy.

“Yes,” Alec says. He jumped a long time ago. Probably long before he even realized until now.

“Together?”

“Together.”

Magnus laces their fingers and they jump off the edge of the mountain. Alec crashes through the wind, through the jungle and into everything he wants but can’t have with the boy who holds his hand through it all.

 

.

 

Magnus and Maia walk down to the beach, holding a drink in each hand to the patch of palm trees where Simon and Alec wait for them. Ragnor and Catarina decided to do the bike ride through the jungle tour while they decided a day on the beach was needed after their hike this morning.

“Don’t get too comfortable in that hammock, Alec,” Maia cuts out, attempting to kick sand at him where he lies.

He lowers his sunglasses to peer at her. “If you wanted to claim the hammock, you should have gotten here earlier.”

She glares at him. “We were getting drinks for you losers.”

“Hey! What’d I do?” Simon cries out from his spot on the towel.

Maia sits beside him, handing over the frozen drink.  “Sorry, you’re guilty by association.”

Simon complains and Magnus chuckles as he approaches Alec in the hammock. “You going to make room for me in there?”

Alec’s mouth breaks out into a grin. “Always.” He opens his arms and gestures for Magnus to get in with his fingers. “Hop in.”

“What about our drinks?” Magnus asks even though snuggling in Alec’s inviting arms is a thousand times more appealing than the fruity drinks he’s holding.

Alec crunches up and looks over the edge of the hammock, he extends his arm out towards the sand. “I can reach here.”

Magnus bends to set their drinks within Alec’s reach. He stands and Alec’s arms wrap around his waist, pulling him down on top of him.

“Alexander!” Magnus yelps when the hammock sways dangerously close to tipping over.

Alec’s laughing under him and Magnus’ heart races at the sound. He curls his legs in and situates himself as best as he can in the cramped hammock on top of Alec. He lifts his chin and kisses him, soft and slow, taking his time to collect every breath for himself. He can do this now. They have an unspoken agreement understood by the both of them. He can kiss Alec as much as he wants and he always wants.

Alec’s fingers trail up Magnus’ side, walking up to his ribs and stopping there to draw swirls when Magnus lays his head atop his chest. He’s humming softly, the melody of the Smashing Pumpkins song from his mixtape. Magnus closes his eyes and sings along in his head.

They lay there, listening to the ocean and Alec’s heartbeat until Simon starts strumming along to the song on his guitar. He starts from the beginning, softly singing, Maia joining him and Alec tightens his arm around Magnus’ shoulder.

“Magnus,” Maia calls from somewhere Magnus can’t see and Simon’s song comes to a stop. “MASH. Four potential partners, go!”

Magnus chuckles when he hears the sound of pencil scratching against paper. An elementary game he hasn’t played in years but he goes along with it anyway. “Alexander, Alexander Lightwood, Alec, and Alec Lightwood.”

“You can’t pick your boyfriend for all four,” she laughs out.

“Why the hell not?” Alec asks, chuckling.

“Shut up, you,” Maia quips. “Okay, I’m putting down Alec, Christian Slater, Kelly Kapowski, and...Screech!”

Magnus groans. “Don’t ruin my imaginary life, Maia.”

She laughs again and continues to go through the options that Magnus fires off answers to until he hears her pencil swirling on the pad.

“Stop.”

She stops and then quietly counts.

“Don’t worry,” Magnus whispers up to Alec while Maia plays her game. “If I end up married to Christian Slater, I’ll divorce him for you.”

Alec smiles, a closed lipped grin, sun burning cheeks rosy beneath his shades.

“No need.” Maia clears her throat. “Magnus, in your future you’re going to marry your high school sweetheart Alec Lightwood. You’ll have four kids, drive a limo, and live in a shack.”

“Perfect!” Magnus cheers, throwing his fist up in victory.

Simon lets out a small huff of laughter. “Dude, you live in a shack."

“Yeah, but I’m married to Alec and we drive a sweet limousine. Don’t try and ruin this for me, Simon.”

Alec laughs. “Yeah, Simon, let us spend our money on things like a limousine instead of investing in a home.”

“We have four kids, we need the extra space, darling. I think a limousine was a smart choice.”

Maia laughs and turns the page. “Simon, your turn.”

Magnus lays back comfortably against Alec while she shoots off another round of questions. They listen and Alec chuckles occasionally until Simon pulls out his guitar and starts playing again. Magnus twirls a fingertip in the soft patch of hair spattered across Alec’s chest until Alec’s breaths even to a steady rhythm - asleep. If Magnus could, he would freeze this day, this exact moment where nothing else matters but the boy beneath him and the love Magnus feels ready to burst out of him.

.

Days spent basking in the sun, sipping on virgin pina coladas, soaking in cold pools; and nights spent in hot springs, and cuddling with Alec on the rocks beside a hidden waterfall while Simon sings - the acoustics reverberating and creating a pocket of time that’s infinite with its happiness. When Magnus signed up for the senior trip ten months ago, it was supposed to be a trip of creating memories with friends he cherishes - but sitting here, head leaning back against Alec’s chest, feeling the drum of his heart, hearing his words rumble on their way out, Magnus is finding himself creating much more than he ever intended to. In his mind, he’s building a future, a hope he shouldn’t be but can’t keep himself from wanting.

“Magnus?”

He opens his eyes and Catarina is eyeing him expectantly from where she sits beside Ragnor.

“You ready to turn in?”

Magnus nods and Alec kisses the top of his head. Something tender and full of every promise Magnus is trying to keep at bay.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he mutters against him.

Magnus stands and is met with Ragnor and Catarina by his side. They leave Alec alone waiting for Simon, who’s off on a walk with Maia.

They walk in silence to their room and Magnus leans against the wall, smiling when he sees the way Ragnor and Catarina hold each other five seconds longer than necessary. He’s not the only one finding more on this trip, it seems. He waves at Ragnor, winking at him while Catarina unlocks their room.

She’s chattering about how much she doesn’t want to leave in two days and Magnus agrees. Things will be different once they get back, one step closer to May. He wants to stay here where real life doesn’t seem to exist. He spots the gift bag on his bed and plucks out the small sloth plushie he purchased when Alec wasn’t looking today at the sloth sanctuary. He holds it up to Catarina who smiles fondly.

“I forgot to give him his gift. I’ll be right back.”

“If you don’t, I won’t tell,” she comments offhandedly, pulling her pajamas out of the wardrobe.

Magnus blushes. “I doubt I’ll be staying.”

She makes her way to their ensuite bathroom and kisses him on the cheek before passing by him. “Call the room and let it ring once so I’ll know you’re safe with him.”

Magnus tucks a braid behind her ear. “Okay, Mom.”

He slips out of their room, sneaks down the hall, running through the excuses in his head he’ll give one of the chaperones if they find him slinking down the halls to his boyfriend’s room. The window into Alec and Simon’s room is open, the breeze billowing the curtains and Magnus can make out Simon’s silhouette standing over Alec who sits comfortably on the couch where Magnus left him.

He can make out their low, concerned tones and he hesitates before knocking, clutching the stuffed sloth to his chest, eavesdropping.

“I don’t get it,” Simon questions and Alec hums in response.

“We’re breaking up after graduation. What’s there not to get?”

“Why? That’s what. You guys are great together - perfect. Why are you already planning on breaking up?”

His body grows rigid as he waits, listening.

“Because it’s what we agreed on,” Alec says, quiet and sad, pulling an ache into Magnus’ throat.

Magnus hears the couch creak and he knows Simon has sat down to join his friend. “But… things can work… even if you go to different colleges.”

“Can it?”

“Maybe you’ll go to one close to each other.”

Alec heaves out a deep breath. “Maybe but… I don’t know. Our paths are very different. It’s just…  not the plan, Simon.”

If Magnus could go back and change the plans, he would. But Alec is right. Doing this and going beyond graduation is not what they agreed to or even planned for. They will be going to different colleges, taking different paths. They were never supposed to join up like this but this is where desperation can lead you. One, desperate for an easy acceptance, the other desperate for the money to make his transition to college easier. They made a deal that benefited them both. Magnus was never meant to be here—heart handed over to someone he can’t have. He was never supposed to fall in love.

“I don’t know what to say,” Simon says and Magnus sees a hand reach out in comfort.

“It is what it is,” Alec states. Always level-headed and direct. Always knowing exactly how to keep himself on track. “We’ll enjoy the time we have.” Alec clears his throat. “What were you going to tell me?”

Simon blows out a breath. “Well, I feel like an inconsiderate ass bringing it up now.”

“Dude, you know I don’t care. What is it?”

Magnus looks down at the plushie in his hands. He can go back to his room, deal with this tomorrow, let Alec have this night to himself. Or…

“I was gonna go back to Maia’s room, her roommate is ditching her to hook up with some dude and she wanted company. I was gonna see if you were cool holding down the fort here but I don’t want to leave you alone. We can forget about it and hang out—”

Magnus knocks, throwing caution to the wind blowing through the breezeway he stands in.

Alec’s right, they have this time now and they can enjoy it now. Magnus won’t end their agreement, he’ll keep up the charade, take the money, and not mention a thing. He won’t make this harder on them than he has to. But he can enjoy the here and now he and Alec have created. Where they care about each other and can be together, even if it’s like this. Even if it’s only until May.

Simon opens the door, his eyes widening a fraction at finding Magnus there.

Magnus smiles at him. “I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Magnus?” Alec stands and is at the door in a heartbeat. Magnus holds the gift for him behind his back.

Simon looks between the two of them and squeezes past Magnus. “I’ll leave you two to it.” He waves at Alec, sending him a supportive glance before making his way around the corner.

Magnus steps in and Alec closes the door behind him. “I thought you were tired.”

Magnus shrugs a shoulder. “I was but I forgot I bought you something today and I wanted to drop it off.”

Alec’s mouth quirks into a hesitant smile. “A gift?”

Magnus nods and offers out the sloth plushie. Alec’s grin grows when he takes it in his hands, and it’s beautiful.

“I love it,” he whispers, hooking his finger through the loop of the sloth’s arms.

Magnus steps in and reaches up to cup Alec’s cheek in his palm.

His smile turns soft and he presses into the touch. There’s a somberness filling the usually bright hazels. A somberness Magnus is sure is reflecting back at him for what they will be losing.

“You look sad,” Magnus says.

Alec moves Magnus’ hand down to kiss his fingertips - soft and gentle. “How can I be sad if you’re here?”

His heart beats harder than it ever has and he’s in so much more than he thought he was, more than he should be. But Alec has a way of saying things that pulls him deeper every single time. A way that makes Magnus forget his head and only move with the pumping of his heart, and right now, his heart is taking him into Alec’s embrace, brushing their mouths together, fluttering his eyes shut and deepening their kiss. Heart moving in time with their mouths, walking them back to Alec’s bed and lowering them until they’re tied up tight around each other.

Alec pulls back, deep green eyes tinged with regret but adoring all the same. They look into Magnus, granting permission and taking permission for themselves. Taking Magnus’ heart with their ring of honey.

They kiss with the breeze coming in and the heat of their love keeping them warm. They kiss until Magnus is sure he wants to do nothing else for the rest of time. Wants nothing more than to live in this moment with Alec’s sweet tongue softly moving with his, Alec’s hand holding his hip in a tight embrace, his thigh between Magnus’, pressing in. Magnus wants to stay here, his fingers caught in the web of Alec’s hair, experiencing the way the muscles of his waist roll whenever Magnus arches into him. He wants to stay until he completely fades into everything Alec has to give.

“Stay with me tonight,” Alec whispers, a request yearning in every touch, his fingertips delicately skimming up Magnus’ neck, tracing his jaw, treasuring him.

Magnus nods. Of course he’ll stay. He’s done with thinking, with worrying, with holding back.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he whispers back, smiling when Alec leans in to kiss him one more time before standing to turn off the lights.

Magnus makes the call he promised Catarina and joins Alec beneath the sheets. He rolls into Alec’s arms and lets Alec slip his shirt off over his head, lets him trail his hand over his chest and down to his waist where it stops along his hip bone. His breath stutters with every caress and Alec rolls on top of him when Magnus pushes up at the hem of his shirt. He slides his hand down Alec’s bare waist, the muscles twitching as he passes over them and Magnus melts when Alec lowers himself to kiss him again. They kiss in the darkness, Alec’s skin only lit by the light of the moon; they kiss and in this moment, they are endless and invincible. They kiss until they know they have to stop, before hands travel lower and they find themselves truly lost. They kiss until Magnus finds himself buried in the crook of Alec’s neck, pressing feather light kisses to the sound of Alec’s quiet hums of pleasure. He closes his eyes to the pleasing sensation of Alec carding his fingers through his hair, to the sound of their heaving breaths, the possibility between them, the crashing of his heart, and the rainforest singing outside.

 

Chapter Text

I hope you had the time of your life
--
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
-Green Day

 

Alec steps out of Coach Garroway’s office, an acceptance letter and future pressed inside a white envelope he carries tucked under his arm. It’s what he has been hoping would come from his last match and although he is happy, he can’t help but feel like he’s losing by gaining this. He’s going one step forward into his future and one step further away from his heart.

He gets in his car, stares down at the envelope, reading the letter inside over again, feeling pride at the offer, fear at everything it represents for him. He folds it away in his bag, he’ll share it with his family later, when he’s not fresh out of practice and still hurting at what it all means.

Magnus is sitting on the front porch, waiting for him when he pulls up at home. He slides the gear into Park. His heart jumps, his stomach twists, and he gets out of the car.

“What are you doing here? Is everything okay?” Magnus’ eyes meet Alec’s while he crosses the yard to get to him. They weren’t supposed to be hanging out this afternoon and Magnus hadn’t paged him. He reaches him and twines a hand behind his neck, eyes scanning his face for a clue.  “Are you okay?”

Magnus nods. “I’m fine.” He holds up a white envelope between them. “I just… couldn’t open this alone. Will you open it for me?”

Alec lowers his hand down Magnus’ shoulder and takes the envelope from him, thumb glossing over the Stanford University logo emblazoned in the top left corner. He swallows. “I thought you would want to do this with Catarina. Didn’t she apply too?”

Magnus shakes his head, steepling his fingers at his lips. “What if she doesn’t get in and I do? What if I don’t get in and she does? I don’t… I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on us. I want to do it like this.”

“Okay. You sure you want me to?”

Magnus reaches for the envelope, makes a choking sound, jerks his hands back and clears his throat. “My hands are shaking, I can’t. Please.”

Alec takes one of Magnus’ hands in his own and kisses his knuckles. He gives Magnus a reassuring smile and tips his head at the house. “You want to go inside?”

Magnus tightens his grip on Alec’s hand. “Just open it. Get it over with.”

“Okay, Okay…” Alec chuckles, releases his hold on Magnus’ hand and slides his finger under the seam, carefully lifting the flap.

Magnus watches his every movement, hands anxiously twisting the edge of his flannel shirt around his finger. Alec slides the letter out and exhales, opening it up slowly, heart pounding in his chest.

Please be good news, please be good news, he repeats in his mind as he gently unfolds the letter.

He finds the start and begins to read, “Dear Magnus”—Alec smiles and Magnus raises his hands to his mouth, eyes wide—“Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we offer you admission to the Stanford University class of 19—“

“Oh my god!” Magnus throws himself into Alec’s arms, crushing the paper between them. Alec wraps him in his arms and squeezes.

“You did it,” Alec says into Magnus’ ear, wrapping him in his arms and hugging him tightly.

“I did it.” Magnus breathes out and pulls back, tears filling his eyes.

“Did we ever really doubt it for one second?”

Magnus chuckles softly and wipes at the corner of his eye, smudging his eyeliner. “Yes? I’ve been expecting a rejection letter.”

Magnus unwraps himself from Alec, taking the letter back. “Well, I had enough faith in you for the both of us then.” Alec rubs his thumb at the corner of his eye, wiping away the smear of black, and tips his chin at the letter.  “Read the rest of it.”

Magnus draws in a deep breath and continues where Alec left off, holding his thumb up to his mouth, pacing a path in the soft grass. His posture is taller, more secure in its knowledge that he’s made it into the school he’s been dreaming of for so long.

Alec smiles, immense pride filling him. He wasn’t lying when he said he never doubted that Magnus would make it. Magnus is truly amazing, destined for great things in a school that will take him there.

Magnus stops in his path and throws his hand over his mouth, cries escaping him.

Alec springs forward, placing a hand on his back. “What is it?”

Magnus clutches the letter to his chest and turns into Alec, burying his face against his chest. Alec smooths his hands up his back and back down again. “You’re making me nervous,” Alec says, guiding Magnus’ face up to look at him. He cradles Magnus’ face in his palms and wipes away the black streaks marking their way down.  

Magnus leans in and kisses him, a simple press of lips together but it makes his heart rattle in his chest and steals the breath out of him. Magnus smiles softly when he pulls back and he holds Alec’s hand against his cheek. “They’re offering me a full scholarship.”

“Are you serious?”

Magnus nods, a smile breaking out on his face, tears of joy gathering at the corners of his eyes.  Alec gathers him in his arms and lifts him off the ground. Magnus throws his head back with a laugh and wraps his legs around Alec’s waist. He takes Alec’s face in his hands and gazes down at him before slowly leaning in to kiss him.

“This is incredible,” Alec says between soft pecks and smiles, overcome with the incomparable happiness Magnus brings to him. “You’re incredible.”

Magnus laughs lightly when Alec spins them and he drinks in the music of his laughter with another kiss before setting him down. Magnus looks back at the letter and reads it all over again, a beaming smile taking over his face the more he reads. It’s beautiful.

“We should celebrate,” Alec suggests and Magnus looks at him in surprise. He steps in and places his hand on Magnus’ hip, tugging him in. “Let me take you out for dinner. You and your mom. What time does she get off work?”

Magnus looks up at him, beautiful brown eyes flicking across his face, awed in disbelief. He smiles again, wide enough to make the corners of his eyes wrinkle and Alec loves it. “She should be off within the hour.”

Alec looks down at his gym shorts and sweaty t-shirt, soccer socks pushed down haphazardly, sweaty feet stuffed in his running shoes. “Okay, let me take a quick shower and I can drive you home?”

Magnus carefully folds the letter and places it back in the envelope. “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure I want to celebrate you getting into your top choice university that has a low acceptance rate with a full scholarship? Yes, I’m sure. Anywhere you want to go.”

The smile Magnus gives him is brighter than the sun setting behind him and he throws himself into Alec’s arms again, gracing him with another kiss. Holding Alec’s face, taking his time, giving him the here and now; and Alec yields to him, kissing him unhurried and generous, giving him his heart.

Receiving the offer from the scout today was nice but seeing Magnus this happy is infinitely better. He had hoped that Stanford would send a scout and would have picked him, then maybe he could have tried to extend this beyond the arrangement, beyond graduation, but they didn’t. It hurts to know that every kiss is closer to their last, that their days are ticking away.

He parts from Magnus, resting his forehead against him. If only things were different. If only they could—

Magnus hums happily and Alec smiles against him. He may not be getting all he wants but Magnus is and that’s enough.

He leaves Magnus in his bedroom while he takes a shower and gets dressed but comes out to find him downstairs, sitting on the sofa with his mom. She’s gushing over him, holding the acceptance letter in her hand. Izzy is there too, grinning, hands held up to her chest. Magnus is telling them all about his plans for college and Alec hopes after everything ends between them, Magnus always has something in his life to keep this happiness on his face.

“Alec!” his mother calls, smiling wide when she sees him descending the stairs. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if you got into Stanford as well? I know you applied, have you heard anything?”

Alec shakes his head. It’s not a lie, he hasn’t formally received his rejection letter but their scout’s lack of interest is sign enough.  

“Well, this is so exciting,” his mom announces with a small clap. “I’m so excited for you both.”

Magnus smiles up at Alec and Alec returns it with a wide one of his own. Their lives are going in two different directions and distance is the villain of all kinds of relationships. Fake dating for a few months and falling in love with each other isn’t enough to beat the pain miles of empty space between two people can cause. He hopes despite the distance, he and Magnus will find a way to stay in each other’s lives. He won’t try to convince himself they will be anything more once this is all said and done. But he knows he will be left with fond memories of a love that felt big enough to change their entire world.

“You ready?” Alec asks.

“Congratulations again, Magnus,” Alec’s mom says, standing and taking Magnus in for a hug.

“Thank you, Ms. Lightwood.”

She pulls back and straightens Magnus’ collar. “Please call me Maryse.”

“Maryse,” Magnus says and she looks up at Alec with a pleased grin.

“You boys have fun.”

Magnus buckles his seatbelt and angles himself in his seat to face Alec. “You didn’t tell me you applied for Stanford.”

Alec flips the blinker on and keeps his eyes on the road, hands tight on the wheel. “It’s not really a likely option for me so I didn’t tell a lot of people.”

“You could have told me,” Magnus says and Alec glances at him. He picks at the frayed hole in his jeans over his knee, mouth turned down slightly in disappointment.

“I know.” Alec reaches over and places his hand on Magnus’ leg. “I didn’t want to get any hopes up.”

Magnus frowns even more, forehead creasing between his brows. “You don’t think you’ll get in?”

Alec wants to share his news with Magnus and see the pride in his eyes when he smiles at him. But it would feel a lot like stealing this well-deserved spotlight from Magnus and that’s the last thing he wants. Magnus’ achievement is significantly more important to celebrate. Besides, it’s bad enough that he knows how their future is sealed and how this is all going to end, he doesn’t want the same for Magnus; not tonight, at least, when he should be happy and celebrating.

“I’m not counting on it,” Alec says because he won’t lie to him either, “but I have other good options.”

“Oh.” Magnus shifts in his seat again, facing forward, eyes on the road ahead as they pull onto his street.

“Hey”—Alec squeezes Magnus’ thigh to get his attention—“None of that. Tonight’s about you and being happy about you getting into the college of your dreams, okay?”

Magnus covers Alec’s hand with his own and then turns a smile on him. “Thank you for celebrating with me.”

Alec turns his hand over, palm up and tickles the inside of Magnus’ hand until he weaves their fingers together. “I’m so happy for you.”

 

.

 

There’s a loud hum pulling Alec awake, it grows loud and then fades and back again, growing closer. He moans into his pillow and flips his body to his other side, putting his back to the door and to his mom’s early morning vacuuming. He feels for his blanket but finds warm skin instead. He trails his hand up and Magnus moans softly.

Alec’s eyes snap open, panic tightening around his heart. He bolts upright and looks beside him where Magnus is lying comfortably tangled up in Alec’s navy blue sheets. He rubs at his eyes and arches his back in a stretch.

“Shit,” Alec whispers, jumping out of bed. He runs to his bedroom door and locks it. Back flat against it, barricading it as if his mom would actually try to break down the door if she found it locked on a Saturday morning.

Magnus sits up, hands over his mouth. “Do you think she knows I’m here?” he whispers, clearly shocked, as well, to have found himself in Alec’s bed this morning.

Alec shakes his head. “No, she would have definitely let us know if she knew.”

“Is she going to vacuum in here?”

Alec hurries to the clock on his nightstand. Ten A.M. Fuck - this is what she considers sleeping in late and she does not hesitate to wake them when she thinks they’ve been sleeping too long.

As if on cue, there’s a loud knock on the door that has Alec jumping where he stands. “Alec! Time to wake up! Up, up, up!”

The color drains from Magnus’ face and Alec swallows, glancing down at his half-undressed state, wearing nothing but his boxers.

Magnus bunches the blankets at his chest. “We didn’t do anything,” he says defensively.

Alec stares at him, straight-faced. “You’re my boyfriend. She’s never going to believe that.”

“But we didn’t, it’s the truth,” Magnus argues and Alec’s mom knocks on the door again.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Alec rushes out. “Okay, you—you have to hide.”

Magnus looks wide-eyed around the room. “Where?”

“Alec!”

“Get on the other side of my bed, quick! Quick!”

Magnus hurries, slipping on the blanket that’s tucked around him and crashes to the floor.

Fuck. ” Alec runs to other side and finds Magnus on his back, hands over his face, shaking. “Are you hurt?”

He bends down and pulls Magnus’ hands away from his face and Magnus snorts out a laugh. “I’m sorry. I’m fine. I’m fine.”

“Alec, what was that?” his mom asks, voice closer to the door than before.

Alec glares at Magnus and shushes him with a silent finger at his lips. “Stop laughing or she’ll hear you,” he hisses, scooping up the blanket and tossing it on his bed on his way to the door.

He takes in a breath and opens the door a crack. “Why are you yelling so early?” he groans out, pretending as best as he can that she woke him.

She turns off the vacuum and her brows scrunch down. “Are you okay? I thought I heard you fall.”

“Uh—yeah. You scared me and I slipped.” He rubs at his knee.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I need to vacuum. Get yourself dressed.” She juts her chin at him, indicating his boxers. “And make sure there’s not a mess on the floor.”

“Of course, Mother.” He shuts the door and locks it, letting out a breath.

Magnus peeks over the edge of his bed. “Now what?”

Alec presses the heels of his palms against his eyes, rubbing them awake. “This is a disaster,” he groans. “Why the fuck did we fall asleep last night?”

Magnus stands. “Well, for one - it was your fault. If you weren’t so damn kissable, we wouldn’t have ended up the way we did. Also, it was like two in the morning. Not like I could go crawling home at that hour anyway, especially not after I’d called my mom and lied to her about staying with Ragnor.”

Alec drops his arms and Magnus shrugs at him from his place across the room, in his boxers and with his black hair a mess. Alec chuckles and knocks his head back against the wall. Magnus rolls his eyes at him. Alec could get used to seeing him like this.

“Good morning, Magnus,” he says, voice scratchy and tired.

“Good morning, Alexander,” Magnus echoes, crossing the room to slide his arms around Alec’s bare waist, kissing him quick. “Have I told you how much I like the way you look in the morning? Your bed head”—he reaches up to ruffle Alec’s hair—“is very adorable.”

“Mm.” Alec steals another kiss. “I assure you, my view is much better,” he says, running a finger down Magnus’ neck and down to his exposed chest.

Magnus snickers and tips his head at the door. “How are we going to solve this problem?”

Alec purses his lips and takes stock of his room, it’s relatively simple, a minimal amount of furniture, not much that could really offer cover for Magnus. They really only have one option. “The closet?”

Magnus’ mouth hardens when he glances over at the closet. “What a fucking joke this is.”

“It won’t be long. My mom is usually pretty quick about this. Here.” Alec breaks away from the hold Magnus has on him and scoops up Magnus’ clothes from the night before. His face is flushing when he hands it back to Magnus, visions of the night before burning through him.

They never made it past making out, never touched beyond waists and hips, but it’s still fucking stupid and irresponsible. The night spent together in Costa Rica had started this, where they’ve silently agreed to cross this physical line all the while keeping their same false commitment, never voicing out loud exactly how they feel about each other. But they don’t really need to. Alec knows. He can feel it and he sees it whenever Magnus looks at him, and that’s enough for him.

Magnus dresses quickly and peers inside Alec’s closet. “If your mom opens the closet, we’re fucked,” he says.

“What choice do we have?”

Magnus points over Alec’s shoulder. “The window? I’m a pretty good climber.”

Alec nudges him back into the closet. “The window is not an option because I quite like you alive.”

His house sits on the edge of the bluff, the back hanging off the edge, the only window in his bedroom facing the sprawling view—making it pretty impossible to sneak out of.

“I bet I’m a better climber than you think.”

“Magnus”—Alec kisses him to shut him up—“it’s a direct fall off the mountain. You’re not climbing out my window.”

Magnus rolls his eyes. “You rich people and your stupid cliffside homes. One earthquake and this house will break right off.”

Alec pulls a shirt from a hanger, slides it on and grabs his jeans from the floor. “Now’s not the time to argue about real estate, babe.”

Magnus smirks at the endearment Alec let slip off his tongue. “You know I’m right.” He pulls the string in the closet, covering them in darkness and pushes Alec away with a finger, sliding the door shut. “Get this over with,” he says, voice muffled.

Alec finishes buttoning his jeans and opens the door as his mom is turning the corner, vacuum in hand. “Perfect timing.”

He waits, nerves jarring in his stomach, impatiently watching as she methodically runs the vacuum over every inch of his floor. She smiles up at him from time to time, eyeing him curiously at his post by the closet. She’s making her way back to him when she stops, powering off the vacuum.

“You okay?”

Alec nods with a tight-lipped smile. “I’m fine.”

“You look tired. Did you not get much sleep?”

“I stayed up late.”

“Let me guess… Magnus?”

“What?” he asks, voice rising.

She laughs. “I knew you had that boy on the phone all night. Try to get some sleep tonight.”

“Right. Yes,” Alec says with a soft chuckle. “I... will do that.”

She takes her time wrapping the cord around the hooks on the machine and after what feels like hours, rolls it out in front of her. Alec closes the door behind her, locking it and rests his head against the back.

“That was close,” he says.

Magnus slides the closet door open and steps out. “Does she plan on leaving any time today? Cause I kinda have to pee.”

There are the sounds of his mom’s frantic deep cleaning coming from one of the rooms down the hall so the prospect of getting Magnus to the bathroom two doors down isn’t looking good.

Alec sighs, scratching at a tangle in his hair. “Probably not.”

Magnus drops down on the bed and moans pathetically, holding at his crotch.

“We’ve gotta get you out of this house.” Alec runs his fingers through his hair again, attempting to straighten it out before leaving his room.

“Uh—where are you going?”

Alec stops, hand on the doorknob. “The bathroom. I’m gonna pee and brush my teeth.”

Magnus glares at him and throws a pillow his way. “Not - fucking - fair.”

Alec steps aside and dodges the second pillow, laughing. “Stop it, you’re going to get us caught.”

“I’m beginning to not care. I have to pee and I didn’t steal your virtue or anything last night so I think I’ll take my chances.” He charges to the door and Alec stops him, one hand on his chest.

“Hold on there. Let me just… go see how much more she has left and then we can figure out a plan.”

Magnus relents with an eye roll and gestures at the door for Alec to hurry up and go.

“I’ll be right back,” Alec whispers, planting a soft kiss on Magnus’ scowl which turns to a soft smile beneath his own.

He carefully turns the knob and opens the door, jumping back with a shout when he finds Izzy there, hand on her hip, Magnus’ shoes dangling from her fingers.

She peeks into the room, smiles at Magnus, and then lifts her brow at Alec. “You’re lucky Mom didn’t see these before I did.”

Alec grapples at the shoes and throws them behind him, putting as much of his body as he can to block Izzy’s view of Magnus. “Thanks.”

“I’m going to go in the guest room and ask Mom something. You have about three minutes to get the hell out of here before she figures out something’s up.” She pinches Alec’s nose. “You’re welcome.”

Alec closes the door quietly and turns to Magnus, tipping his head at the door. “You heard her.”

Magnus wiggles his foot, shoes already on. “Waiting on you.”

Alec grabs some socks he finds lying around, his running shoes, and shoves his feet inside, not bothering with the laces. He peeks out of his room, he can hear Izzy and his mom talking, and he waves Magnus to go ahead of him. He shushes him when they get to the stairs and Magnus has to cover his mouth when Jace jumps out at them from the living room.

“Don’t say a fucking word, Jace,” Alec warns, ushering Magnus out the front door, grabbing his keys on his way out. “Not a word.”

He closes the door on Jace’s laugh and they rush to Alec’s car, dealing with their seat belts when they’re already out of view of his house.

“Holy fuck,” Magnus says, laughing, hand on his heart. “My heart is racing.”

Alec laughs and rubs at his face. “I can’t believe we almost got caught with you sleeping over.”

Magnus points in the direction of his house. “My mom isn’t home, let’s go make breakfast.”

Alec drives to Magnus’ house and they finally relax once they’re inside and safely seated at his kitchen table. They make a mess and also a breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes that is actually very good.  

“I can’t believe you fell off my bed,” Alec says, laughing, bringing his thumb up to his mouth to suck off the small bit of syrup.

Magnus is glowering when he looks up and Alec laughs harder.

“I hit my back. Right”—Magnus crosses an arm over his shoulder to point at his shoulder blade—“here. I’ll probably have a bruise. I seem to get injured a lot when I’m with you. I think you might be dangerous for me, Alexander.”

Alec’s laughs turn to softer chuckles. God, if Magnus only knew how right he is. There’s no way Magnus doesn’t know how Alec feels about him, kind of how Alec knows without Magnus saying anything that he feels the same way. And Alec is in serious danger of having his heart broken next month—through no one’s fault but his own. He gestures for Magnus to come closer. “Come here.”

Magnus shakes his head, crossing his arms. “Mm Mm. It’s too risky, I might fall and catch the house on fire.”

Alec hooks his feet around the leg of Magnus’ chair and uses his legs to pull him in, sliding his chair until Magnus’ back is angled perfectly towards him.

“How the hell—”

“Soccer player,” Alec says, scooching himself closer until his legs are straddling the back of  Magnus’ chair.

Magnus laughs. “What do you want with me, soccer player? ” he teases.

Alec wraps his arms around Magnus and kisses the top of his shoulder. “I’m kissing it better. Since you said it’s my fault, it’s the least I can do.” He places another kiss, and another until he’s at the shoulder blade. He tugs the fabric of the collar aside and kisses the bare skin he can reach.

“Right there?” he asks, keeping his lips against the warm skin.

“Mhm.”

Alec presses his lips softly one more time on the sore spot and works his way back up Magnus’ neck, closing his eyes and savoring the low moan Magnus gives when he brushes his mouth just below his ear. It’s the same sounds he made last night when Alec had him underneath him. Magnus is full of them and Alec learned exactly how to pull the symphony of notes out of him. He never knew he could feel like this. He’s had crushes before and he’s found plenty of boys attractive but the shiver that runs across his skin when Magnus makes those sounds and the way his skin burns hot at every touch is entirely new and utterly addictive.

Magnus sighs, bringing his fingers up into Alec’s hair, tugging him in closer and Alec gives him what he wants. He’s willing to give him whatever it is he wants of him. Magnus turns his face towards Alec and tips his head back to capture Alec’s mouth in a hot kiss.

Alec runs his hands down Magnus’ arms, feeling the slope of every muscle, memorizing the sensation it pulls in him when Magnus tangles their fingers together. He loves being able to have Magnus like this, holding him, touching him, tasting the salt on his skin, the syrup on his lips. He loves him. And so Alec kisses him like he does, with all the care and attention he can show with just his body.

It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, one where he’s gambling his own heart away. Even more dangerous because now he knows how the game ends and he knows he will lose. He’s put his heart at stake and Magnus has too. Alec has long since quit caring about his heart, but Magnus, he doesn’t deserve this. He deserves someone who will be with him through college, who can kiss him like this whenever he needs, who can hold his hand through the years of stress and study. He deserves someone who can be with him, something Alec can’t do.

Alec stops and slowly pulls away, eyes screwed shut, chest heaving out his breaths weighed down with the unfairness of it all.

“I should go,” Alec mutters, ending the sentence with a trail of lips.

“I wish you didn’t have to,” Magnus says, curving his hand a little tighter around Alec’s neck.

“Me too,” he confesses, kissing Magnus lightly one more time.  

He’s not willing to let go of this, not yet. Call him selfish but he won’t, he can’t. He’ll let go when he has to, until then, he will let himself love Magnus with his whole heart and he will take Magnus’ love in return.

Magnus swallows when they part, the air around them filled with silence. “Go,” he chokes out and clears his throat. “I’ll see you Monday.”

Alec pulls himself closer and kisses his cheek, eyes shut tight when Magnus presses into him.  

His body fights against him when he pushes himself to stand and forces himself to walk away, no looking back. If he looks back, he’ll stay and cross a line he won’t be able to come back from. A line that will only make this harder for him to say goodbye. Last night, this morning, they shouldn’t be doing this. His arm is heavy, loaded with regret when he reaches for the door, but he makes himself turn the handle, and he convinces himself to leave. He sits in his car, chest aching, and forces himself to drive home. He ignores Izzy’s and Jace’s questions, waving them off by saying he’s tired. He kicks off his shoes and falls into bed, curling around the pillow that still carries Magnus’ scent.

He’d told Magnus when they started that he wanted them to have fun with this. He doesn’t think this is what he meant, or maybe subconsciously he’d known then that he would fall for Magnus. That he would end up in his arms—in every heartbeat. Maybe this is exactly what he meant. Except fun isn’t supposed to end this way or hurt quite this much.

.

 

Magnus rummages through the bag in the backseat of Alec’s Range Rover. Alec needs the report from his physical to give to Coach Garroway for his transcript records and he said it was somewhere in this bag and Magnus being the best, most considerate boyfriend in the world, offered to come find it. An offer he regrets because Alec apparently carries everything under the sun in his backpack. He unfolds paper after paper, finding only old tests and study guides. He’s about to give up his search when he sees an envelope peeking out of one the pockets. He stops short when he sees the Indiana University emblem printed in the corner. His hands are opening the letter before he can consider his choices and he reads it - an acceptance letter with the offer of a decent scholarship - all dated from last week.

His initial reaction is absolute excitement. This is what Alec had been hoping for by having the scouts at his game, watching him break the state record. But the feeling following on the excitement’s tail is disappointment. He never knew there was such a large part of him secretly holding onto the hope that they might go to the same school or at least close by. Alec had been honest with him when he told him he didn’t think his odds of getting into Stanford were good. This is why he could say it with such confidence. He’d already known by then that Indiana University was the only school who’d sent an offer. And it’s a great offer, everything he deserves.

Magnus finds the doctor’s report tucked behind where the acceptance letter had been. He tucks the report in his pocket and carefully places the acceptance letter back where he found it. He takes in a breath and swallows back the tightening that squeezes his throat. He can’t let himself face Alec like this. He takes his time walking back down the hill and rejoins the others, turns in Alec’s physical report to Coach Garroway and at the end of practice, he and Alec walk hand-in-hand back to his car.

They’re going on an impromptu date to the drive-in, after their last sleepover and the morning after, something changed. They can’t keep doing what they were, but then, they can’t seem to stop. So they’ve put up a boundary without even having to discuss it. They still hold hands, hold each other, they still kiss but they stop themselves from going further. It’s for the best and Magnus knows his heart will thank him one day.

The car ride is quieter than normal and Magnus doesn’t quite know how to bring up the letter or if he even should. Perhaps he should give Alec the chance to tell him on his own time but who knows when that will be and Magnus wants to tell him how proud he is of him right now.

Once they arrive at the drive-in, Magnus busies himself by setting up the blankets and pillows Alec packed in the trunk of the car until Alec makes it back, carefully balancing a box of pizza and two fountain drinks, napkins coming dangerously close to the edge of the box. He sets their food down and climbs into the trunk, making a point to move his pillow closer to Magnus. He gets everything set out in silence and they eat relatively quickly to be finished before the movie starts.

Magnus shrugs off his jacket in favor of the blanket Alec pulls up around them.

There’s no hesitation or gimmicks when Alec puts his arm around Magnus’ shoulders. It’s subconsciously done in conjunction with re-adjusting himself to a more comfortable position, the same way Magnus leans into Alec’s body without any thought. Magnus lets his body do what it wants which is apparently to mold itself along the line of Alec’s, hand finding its home atop Alec’s stomach, Magnus’ head going to its familiar spot in the curve of Alec’s neck. Their feet touch and tangle, Alec’s brushes up and down, and the intimacy of it all sends Magnus’ fears of losing this crashing in his chest. It burns when he breathes. The weight of it all. The end that’s coming.

The movie is playing and apart from Alec’s soft chuckles here and there, it’s silent between them. Magnus hasn’t been paying attention to the movie or to anything but the sound Alec’s chest makes when he breathes in and out. He tilts his head back to look up at Alec. He can’t see his whole face from this angle but he can see his smile, the way his cheeks fill out with it, and the thick line of lashes moving with his eyes as he watches the movie.

He’s happy here, despite what their future holds, and yet, he feels like he’s already lost him. He feels alone, now more than ever.

He lowers his head back, counts the beats thumping against his cheek.

“Alexander?” He’s betrayed by his own voice and the way it chokes out so weak and vulnerable.

Alec’s body tenses beneath him; nothing getting past him, not even for a second. “Yes?”

“You’re going to Indiana, aren’t you?”

He can make out the sound of Alec’s mouth opening and feels the air Alec holds in before finally figuring out how Magnus could know this. “You saw the letter.”

“They noticed you,” Magnus whispers, “that’s amazing.”

Alec’s heartbeat grows heavier against his chest, slower, Magnus can almost imagine he can hear the way it aches. “I didn’t know when would be the right time to tell you.”

“Did you think I wouldn’t be happy for you?”

Alec swallows. Magnus pinches his eyes shut and waits. He knows he can look at Alec right now and see exactly how he’s feeling but he’s not ready for such honesty. He’s not ready for Alec to see how much he’s hurting because Alec deserves to have Magnus be happy for him, which he is. But it still hurts.

“I hoped you would be.”

“You’ve been recognized and given an opportunity because of your talent. I’m so incredibly happy and proud of you.” Magnus inhales, drawing in his scent - tender, supportive, protective, loving, earnest, and bold - if those traits had a scent, it would be this. It would be the way Alec smells right now. “This is what you wanted.”

“Yes and no,” Alec answers even though it wasn’t a question. “I.U. is great. Not my first choice… or what quickly became my first choice.”

“Where’s that?”

They’ve never said it out loud, never needed to. Magnus knows how Alec feels, he can see it every time he looks at him, he can feel it in every kiss and every touch. He imagines it would only make things harder to lose if they were to actually say the words. And now… a confession hangs in the balance. His heart, his hopes, things he should have never invested. He wants Alec to say it but he doesn’t. He needs to hear it but it’s probably best if he doesn’t.

“Stanford.”

Tears spread along his lashes and he exhales, pushing it all back in, working through the burning ache that’s always there when he thinks about this. “That would have been… perfect.”

Alec clears his throat. “Life doesn’t really do perfect, does it?” There’s an attempt at a laugh dying at the end of his question, his way of trying to make things easier. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”

Magnus shakes his head and brings himself to sit up and face him. He cups Alec’s face in his hand, forces all disappointment away, and gives him the smile he deserves. One step at a time. “We should celebrate.”

Alec smiles back, the warmth is there but the happiness isn’t. “Let’s consider this my celebration.”

“Me treating you to a five dollar movie ticket is not the celebration your scholarship deserves. Stop being so humble and let me take you out like you did for me.”

“You got your dream come true acceptance letter. This is an—”

Magnus stops him with a look. “The next words that come out of your mouth better be, 'a well-deserved recognition of my talent’ or you’re gonna have to fight me.”

Alec chuckles, his shoulders shaking. “There’s no winning against you, is there?”

Magnus shakes his head. “You can try though. I do love a challenge.”

Alec relents, eyes rolling. “Fine. We can celebrate, although I’m perfectly happy celebrating with you here, like this, right now. But if it would make you happy to take me to some fancy dinner, we can do that.”

Magnus’ smile grows. “I’m going to ignore the last half of that sentence, because I want to celebrate our dreams coming true.”

It’s the truth. More or less. Magnus is getting everything he sought after; full scholarship to the school of his dreams. If anyone were to ask him four months ago what a perfect outcome would be, it’d be him getting into Stanford with a full scholarship. It’s what he’s worked so hard for. He’s getting everything he wanted. He never wanted or even expected love so going without should be no issue. This was never part of the plan, he can’t let himself forget that. No matter how much he loves Alec, no matter how much it will hurt for them to walk away from this.

Alec’s mouth falters in its smile but Magnus can tell that his ever working mind comes to the same conclusion. He pulls Magnus into his arms, encasing him in the shield they create, where nothing can hurt or penetrate them. He kisses him softly, eyes shut tight and Magnus closes his eyes, focusing on what he does have. He has this boy and all his love and he’s allowed to have it for now.

This was never supposed to go this far and in the grand scheme of things, even though they can’t be together, life is giving them its fucked up version of perfect.


Chapter Text

It must have been love but it's over now
From the moment we touched 'til the time had run out
--
Make-believing we're together
That I'm sheltered by your heart
But in and outside I've turned to water
Like a teardrop in your palm
-Roxette

.

Magnus never really cared for Spring; the pollen and itchy nose that accompanies it being the main reason. He’s always been a Fall kind of guy, darker colors, cozy sweaters, hot drinks, things that bring comfort. But now, Springtime has brought with it something more, something irreplaceable, and when Alec looks at him with Springtime sun beaming down on his face, his eyes glow, and Magnus falls in love a little bit more.

He spent last night bored out of his mind and had the sudden urge to try and see if he could find the colors of Alec’s eyes in his old Crayola set. He’s pretty sure there are more colors but he’s had this crayon box since he was a child so he worked with what he had.

After much thought and consideration and color swatches scribbled on paper, he’s decided that the closest colors he could find to Alec’s eyes were: Brown, Forest Green, Midnight Blue, and Sunglow.

Magnus sits with one arm wrapped around Alec’s waist at a picnic table at Up Top Grill, facing the overlook of the city, drinking milkshakes while Maia and Simon argue over the legend of Lover’s Leap that lies down the trail beside them. Catarina sits quietly across from them sharing a basket of fries with Ragnor. The days feel infinite when they’re together like this, when Magnus has Alec laughing in his arms. The deep laugh that comes from the pit of his belly and crinkles his eyes. The laugh that Magnus has memorized down to the little intake of breath he makes when he’s finally finished. The laugh Magnus knows he will miss one day, but knows he will never forget.

He wishes Springtime could last forever.

“What are you thinking about?” Catarina asks, waving a hand in Magnus’ line of sight.

He blinks himself out of his daydream. “Hm?”

Alec glances over his shoulder at him, kissing him on the cheek with a scruff of stubble Magnus will miss as well. “Are you zoning out, babe?”

Magnus rests his chin on Alec’s shoulder. “Nope, I was just thinking about how Simon is clearly wrong and should probably just give up and admit defeat.”

Simon’s next argument to Maia dies on his lips and he shrugs out his hand. “Seriously? I know this story; my Bubbie Helen used to tell me all the time.”

Alec raises a brow when he looks at Magnus. “Are you challenging Bubbie Helen?”

Magnus shrugs. “Not at all. I’m sure Simon just isn’t remembering the facts correctly.”

Simon swipes Alec’s milkshake and helps himself to a generous sip and gestures for Magnus to continue. “Please, tell me the correct story.”

Magnus sighs. “He was tired of the princess’ love and so he killed her and then, overcome with regret, jumped off the cliff with her in his arms,” Magnus states with confidence because he wrote an entire report on it in fifth grade and spent a lot of time in the library digging up old facts.

Simon’s brow quirks and his eyes drift up to the sky, thinking.

Magnus takes a sip of his milkshake. “The princess who jumped because she couldn’t marry her true love was at The Falls, different location, different legend.”

Maia’s smile brightens. “See! I knew it. I knew your story wasn’t right.”

Simon raises a finger. “Okay, now that you mention it. I think I do remember my bubbie telling me both stories. I was mixing them up.” He looks at Maia. “Easy mistake to make. Sue me.”

Alec leans forward, barely leaving Magnus’ hold and steals his milkshake back. “I’m telling Bubbie Helen that you fucked up her story.”

“Oh really?” Simon says, rounding on Alec with a smirk on his face. “You going to say it in those words exactly? You want to break my bubbie’s heart?”

Alec rolls his eyes and rests back against Magnus.

“I don’t know why they make it seem like the leap is some romantic place when it was actually a murder site,” Catarina comments with a shrug of her shoulder.

“I agree. It’s stupid.” Alec points at her with his straw and she winks at him.

“Smart man.”

“Does that mean we’re not going to do the classic Idris High thing and take our prom pictures there?” Ragnor asks with a sarcastic snort at the end.

“Only if we can pose like I’m going to throw Maia over the edge.” Simon grins at Maia and she punches his shoulder.

“I’ll pass on that photoshoot. Besides, I’m sure my mom is going to want to take pictures of us,” Alec says to Magnus, a crooked smile lifting in one corner.

Magnus blinks at him. “Oh, are we going to prom together?”

Catarina snorts and hides it by taking a bite out of Ragnor’s burger.

Alec sits up and faces him, the breeze blows through the dark strands of his hair and the face he makes at Magnus is adorably confused with one brow perfectly raised.  “Are we not?”

“I don’t know. Are we?” Magnus asks, a smile beginning to form. “You haven’t asked.”

Alec’s confused expression morphs into a smirk. He clicks his tongue. “Why should I have to be the one to ask? You haven’t asked me either.”

Ragnor hums in the background and the others chuckle.

Magnus takes a sip of his milkshake. “Touché.”

“Now what?” Simon chimes in. “Who’s going to be the first to break?”

“My money’s on Alec,” Maia says.

Alec tears his eyes away from Magnus to cast a scathing glance at his friend and Catarina quickly backs her up with a “same.”

Magnus grins at them and Alec just nods. “Well, they’re probably right. You’re horribly stubborn. We’d never go anywhere if it were left to you.”

Magnus presses a hand to his chest. “Alexander, how mean.”

Alec shrugs. “Prove me wrong. Ask me to prom.”

Magnus bites on his tongue. “This is just you trying to win.”

Alec leans in and kisses his cheek softly before dragging his lips to whisper in Magnus’ ear. “Maybe.”

A shiver runs down his spine and he pokes Alec in the side. “You play so dirty.”

“Does anyone else feel depressingly single every time we have to watch these two idiots be disgustingly in love with each other?” Maia groans and takes an angry bite out of a fry she steals from Catarina’s plate.

Alec ducks his head into Magnus’ shoulder, pressing a kiss against his collar before he finally looks at him, cheeks as pink as the flowers blooming on the trees above them, love reflecting back at him in the hazel irises. He should deny it, he should go back to lying to himself and say this is just a crush but Magnus is careless and reckless, always has been, and he lets himself fall more in love with every flutter of Alec’s dark lashes.

Simon sighs in the background. “I think it’s beautiful.”

Magnus has to agree with him and he brushes a windblown strand of Alec’s hair back down. There’s truly nothing more beautiful than this boy and what he makes Magnus feel with every smile. “He is, isn’t he?”

Alec’s blush only intensifies and he shakes his head, shy. “Stop it.”

“Never.” Magnus kisses the dimpled tip of his nose. “I’m going to tell you as much as I can until…”

Alec’s smile dips and Magnus hates the reminder so he kisses him on the lips this time. It tastes of chocolate and strawberry like his milkshake and Alec sighs into him, dragging his hand down Magnus’ waist.

“And the PDA just gets worse,” Maia retorts with a snicker.

“Or better?” Simon and Catarina say at the same time and Alec chuckles against Magnus’ lips.

Magnus pulls away enough to meet Alec’s eyes again. They really suck at being fake boyfriends, he thinks. Playing make-believe should have never consisted of Magnus dreaming about these eyes since that first meeting. It should have never come along with the thundering of butterflies in his stomach or with the wishes of a future together.

“Alexander Lightwood,” Magnus begins, savoring the way Alec’s eyes shift from green to golden brown, pupils growing when he smiles. “Will you go to prom with me?”

His smile starts small and then grows into a grin; he leans in and kisses Magnus again. “Yes, I think I will.”

Ragnor chuckles and Magnus catches him elbowing Catarina gently in her side. “Let’s go, leave these lovebirds.”

Simon stands. “Yeah, I probably need to get home and watch my show before Becky tapes over it.”

They wave at their friends and Magnus pulls out an AutoTrader magazine from his backpack. He hears the quiet ‘ah’ Alec makes when he does. It’s in that moment that he catches Alec sliding the two neatly folded one-hundred dollar bills into the front pocket of Magnus’ backpack. After Costa Rica this is how Alec has started paying Magnus, he slides it into the backpack and doesn’t say a word. It’s easier for them to pretend it’s not happening.

They’re both sticking to their deal. They act like boyfriends all the time now, even when there’s no need. They go on dates, they kiss, they spend hours on the phone, and Magnus is undeniably in love with Alec Lightwood. Which was never part of the deal but here they are.

Alec leans into him when he’s finished and curls into Magnus’ side while he flips through the black and white ads.

“That’s a good one,” he mutters, pointing at a black Jeep.

“Yeah and completely out of my price range.” Magnus snorts.

“Sorry, I didn’t even look at that. I just saw that the mileage is low. You’ll want a car with low mileage since you’re driving it to California.”

Another topic they talk about without actually talking about it. There’s no point really. Alec’s going to Indiana University and Magnus will be in California. They have their dreams and their dreams are driving them worlds away.

Thirty-four hours to be exact; Magnus looked it up.

He swallows and nods. “You’re right.” He shuts the catalog and discards it on top of his backpack. “I don’t feel like looking at cars right now.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Just be with you.”

Alec threads their fingers together. “You want to go down to Lover’s Leap?”

Magnus laughs. “I thought we all just agreed that it’s a murder scene and not romantic?”

Alec tips his head to his shoulder. “Can we really call ourselves small town boyfriends if we don’t do all the small town boyfriend things?”

Magnus rolls his eyes and stands, pulling Alec up with him. “Fine. I hope you realize there’s other things on that list we now have to do, right?”

Alec guides them down the path with the steps carved out of stone. He’s smiling down at the path in front of them, watching their steps. They make it down to the small cliff and Alec walks them to small fence that does a shoddy job of actually being a preventative from getting to the edge.

“We have a few weeks left,” Alec says after a moment of silence. He turns to Magnus, putting his back to the fall and stepping into what is clearly Magnus’ personal space, but Magnus has only ever welcomed him here. Wants him here. “I think we can make the most of them.”

The sun is beginning to make its way down the sky, the rays cast themselves on the side of Alec’s face, crafting shadows of stripes on the tops of his cheeks. Alec is so close all Magnus can see is his face, the sky above them, the trees off in the distance. The sunshine glows through Alec’s eyes, making every twist of color shine brighter. It brings out the golden hues that make up his eyes and in that moment, Magnus’ whole world is Sunglow.

His whole world is Alec.

.

Fake boyfriend fake relationship—very real feelings batting like crazy in Alec’s chest.

Alec should’ve known he’d be standing here at Magnus’ front door, holding a boutonniere in a small box when he propositioned this whole thing. It’s a white rose with sprigs of eucalyptus surrounding it. It smells good and it’s pretty, which is all Alec thought of when he chose the design at the florist earlier in the week.

Like he knew she would, his mom waits in her car parked at the curb, insistent on following along to take pictures and there’s something equally endearing and embarrassing about it.

The door opens and Alec is struck again by how truly gorgeous Magnus is. He doesn’t know how he went to school with him all these years and didn’t have his heart hammering in his chest the way it is now. How he didn’t see him all through elementary and middle school and find himself enchanted. It’s a mystery because looking at him now, Alec is sure he will never find someone as beautiful as he does this man. No one will be able to compare.

“Don’t you look dashing, Alexander,” Magnus says, voice low and way too seductive for Alec to focus on knowing his mother is probably watching them from her parked car. “Tuxedos suit you.”

Alec glances down at himself and he knows when he looks up, his cheeks will be red. So he takes his time looking Magnus over. He means to compliment the tuxedo, it’s nice, and fits him perfectly; or even compliment the deep shadows surrounding his eyes created with his makeup; or his hair and how great it looks with it curved over to one side, pieces falling to his brow. He means to compliment any of those things but instead, he says the first thing that comes to his mind, “You’re stunning.”

It sounds a bit dramatic once spoken but it’s the truth and it makes Magnus’ face flush beautifully.

“Thank you, Alexander.” Magnus smiles, small, almost disbelieving and if only there were a way for Alec to show him how beautiful he is to him. “Come in.”

“Okay.”

Someone clears their throat behind him and somehow, for a moment, Alec had completely forgotten his own mother.

“Maryse!” Magnus grins, bright.

His mom’s heels click up the walkway until they reach him. “Magnus, look at you! You are absolutely handsome.”

Magnus closes his eyes and smiles into her hug. “Thank you. I was inviting Alexander in. I’m afraid my mom wants to take pictures.”

Maryse swings the camera bag dangling on her shoulder like a purse in front of her. “I’m guilty too but it’s not every day your son gets to go to Senior prom with his boyfriend.” She rubs her hand on Alec’s back and they follow Magnus inside.

They pose awkwardly at the foot of the staircase. Alec is sure the pictures will be both embarrassing and painful to look at down the road. His mother and Magnus’ catch up as they take turns taking pictures—apparently, they’d worked together back in the same PTO during elementary school years and Alec is only a tiny bit bitter that his mom never properly introduced him to Magnus.

Magnus relaxes the hold he has on Alec’s arm and then groans. “Mom, can we take one picture that’s normal. Please.

His mom looks only slightly offended but the teasing tip of her smile tells Alec that she isn’t really upset that Magnus would prefer not to do one of their stupid poses.

Magnus comfortably wraps an arm around Alec’s waist and looks up at him. “Loosen up. We gotta get at least one decent picture out of this.”

Alec shakes his shoulders and Magnus giggles. “Alright, I’m ready.”

Their pose is casual, standing with arms behind each other, Alec leaning his head in closer to Magnus. It’s the first one that Alec knows he will want to keep.  

Alec watches as Magnus does one more look over in the mirror. Their mothers talk about Magnus’ acceptance to Stanford and Alec’s at Indiana—they praise the accomplishments and the pride for their children never leaves their faces—as if the distance of the entire United States isn’t an issue for him and Magnus.

“Dinner?” Alec says, hoping to stop this talk from where it’s headed cause this is a future that’s out of their control and he hates it.

Magnus perks up and swivels on his heel. “Yes, let’s.” He holds his arm out and Alec takes his elbow with a laugh under his breath.

“Oh, yes, we don’t want to hold you up,” Ms. Bane says, ushering them out the door.

“Curfew! Don’t forget!” Alec’s mom shouts after them.

Their plans for the night should put them with plenty of time to spare after prom. Magnus had mentioned a few parties they could go to and Alec’s pretty sure they’ll end up at Helen’s again. At least that’s where Alec will cast his vote when it comes down to it. He’d like the chance to go back there, where they shared their first kiss, and experience what it feels like to kiss Magnus under the stars again - one last time.

They meet up for dinner as planned with Simon and Maia, and Catarina and Ragnor. It’s a nice night of laughter, everyone is happy and buzzing with the excitement of this last prom and graduation coming up in two weeks, everyone except for Alec. Magnus keeps his input to a minimum, Alec doesn’t expect him to not be excited. He’s going off to do what he’s dreamed of and the excitement for that future is there. Catarina will be going with him, while Ragnor is attending another school nearby. Maia beams with pride when she talks about the marine biology program at Duke and Simon admits he’s going to I.U. with Alec because ‘someone has to look after him.'

They’re all sharing stories of future plans and Alec can’t stop thinking about two weeks from now and what will happen. He smiles when the time is right, he laughs when he should, he pulls Magnus in and kisses his temple when he explains how proud he is of Magnus’ scholarship, breathing in the woodsy scent of Magnus’ shampoo before pulling back and meeting Magnus’ smile with his own.

The night goes on and Prom King & Queen are announced. The dancing is to mostly upbeat tunes Alec isn’t sure how to move his body to but he tries anyway because it makes Magnus laugh and he loves the sound.

He’s sitting down now, resting and sipping his water while Magnus and Maia dance to the macarena.

“Being sad tonight isn’t going to change anything,” Simon says, moving his chair closer to Alec’s. “You might as well enjoy the time you have with him now.”

Alec bristles, nerves clamming up. “Is it that obvious?”

“We’ve been best friends since second grade. It’s obvious to me.”

“I’m working on it,” Alec admits quietly.

“I know it’s not the same, not even close, but you know I’ll always be there for you, right?”

Alec nods.

“Right by your side after and it’ll be okay.”

Alec keeps reminding himself of this. Everything will be okay. What they’re doing is for the best and what’s best for their futures, their careers. He doesn’t want to be an adult but he knows he has to start thinking like one, at least for this. He won’t ask anything of Magnus that will hurt his future.  

Magnus and Maia stumble over to them laughing hysterically.

The music changes to a slow tune around them and Magnus holds his hand out to Alec when he reaches their table. “May I have this dance?”

Alec takes his hand, he doesn’t think there’s any instance in life where Magnus would offer his hand to him and he wouldn’t accept. He lets Magnus guide him to the floor and pull their bodies together. He gives in to the gentle sway Magnus leads him through, he presses in cheek to cheek and closes his eyes.

The band plays the soft keys of the piano, the singer’s voice is low, softer than the song usually is. It’s melodic and Alec listens to every word, feels them with every breath he takes, means them with every beat of his heart. It’s a lot, this undeniable love he has for Magnus, so much more than he even knew he was capable of. And all so new. New but potent. It’s like his heart is throwing his words back in his face when he said true love at this age was rare. But this is real, more real than anything he’s ever felt before.

“Magnus?” he whispers.

“Hm?”

Alec swallows, keeps their cheeks together so he can speak in Magnus’ ear. “I know this wasn’t meant to be real—”

“Don’t,” Magnus says - soft and entreating; it makes Alec’s heart ache. “Please.”

Alec laces their fingers together and pulls himself closer to Magnus. “Why?”

Magnus angles his face towards him, enough to where Alec can feel every syllable against his ear. “Will it change anything after graduation?”

Alec wishes it would, wishes it could.

“No.”

It’s the truth. Nothing is going to change. They weren’t meant to last beyond this.

Magnus’ mouth moves against the curve of Alec’s neck and he kisses him tenderly. “Then, don’t. I’m okay with this. I never want to resent it.”

Alec pulls back, straightening up to look at him. There’s the hint of a smile on his lips, a sadness in his eyes. This was never supposed to happen.

“I’m so sorry,” Alec says, voice shaking more than he expected.

“It’s okay.” Magnus shakes his head. “It’s not your fault. We didn’t know.”

“No,” Alec agrees. “I never expected—”

“This?” Magnus finishes for him, eyes drifting down to Alec’s lips. He leans in, closing his eyes and presses a kiss to Alec’s mouth. It’s a small kiss, over before it even began, and Alec misses it.

“It was never supposed to hurt,” Alec says and Magnus smiles up at him - a full smile that pulls at his cheeks. He moves his hand from Alec’s waist and traces his fingertips over the curves of Alec’s cheek, his jaw, and back to his neck.

“If I had to do it all over again, knowing this is how it ends, I would still say yes.”

Alec angles his head down and places a kiss against Magnus’ wrist. “Yeah?”

Magnus nods. “You?”

“Yeah.”

He holds Magnus’ face in his hands and kisses him. He kisses him like it’s his last time because he knows there will be one, one day, and he wants to cherish every one until then. He wants to remember this forever. He never wants to forget how it feels to have Magnus melt against him or the way Magnus sighs into his mouth.

He never wants to forget what it feels like to be in love like this.

When they part, Magnus smiles, eyes closed, their kiss glistening on his lips. An exquisite image Alec tucks away for himself. He pulls Magnus in again. In two weeks they’ll graduate, they won’t have this moment again and Alec wants to keep it to themselves, he wants to selfishly have Magnus as much as he can. “Will you take a walk with me?”

Magnus responds by walking them off the dance floor, he tangles their fingers together and they sneak out of the side door of the gym putting them outside. They rush around the building, putting themselves out of sight of any chaperone who might be monitoring these dark corners of their school. Once they’re far enough away, they slow their steps, walking down the sidewalk leading them to the fields.

The weather is finally starting to warm up enough, the nights not as brisk as they were two weeks ago, which he’s thankful for because he doesn’t know when he’ll be ready to go back inside. He likes the quiet around them, the crickets playing their songs, the wind rushing through the leaves, the random frog croaking every now and then, it creates a music for them, all their own.

He guides Magnus to the field, he’s played his last game, he’s said his goodbyes to the green patch of grass he’s made a home at during his years here; but this feels complete to him. This is where they started, this is where they kissed for no one but themselves, this is how he wants to say goodbye.

Magnus tugs on his hand and places it on his waist. His body is close, his face against his, he brushes his lips across Alec’s cheek, along his nose where he kisses the tip tenderly and down until their mouths are aligned. He inhales, kisses the bow of his lip - short and sweet. His fingers track along Alec’s waist, burning marks along Alec’s skin, waiting for and wanting, always wanting more. He can never have Magnus, not more than this but wonders if Magnus knows that he has him. Every piece of him.

“Kiss me, Magnus.” He tries to go for a request but he can hear the yearning lingering there.

There’s a pause and Alec is too afraid to open his eyes and see if maybe Magnus has changed his mind. It feels like an eternity passes in the breath between them. He’s about to tell Magnus it’s okay if he doesn’t want to, he understands if it’s too much, when Magnus finally fits their mouths together. It’s chaste at first and then he parts, inviting Alec in, and when their tongues glide together, Alec’s heart beats again, beating for everything between them.

A moan slips from Magnus into Alec and he pushes down on Alec’s shoulders, guiding them down until they’re on their knees in the damp field. The grass is cold between the spaces of Alec’s fingers when he lays Magnus back and kisses him like it’s the last thing he’s meant to do on this earth. His chest is full of love and he feels alive with Magnus beneath him, arching up into their kiss.

Alec gasps when cold fingers untuck his shirt and slide against the warmth of skin. When they travel lower and brush against him, he moans into their kiss. He pushes himself down, aligning their hips and Magnus whimpers deep in his throat.

“Magnus,” Alec pants, eyes fluttering shut when Magnus lifts his hips into him.

“We shouldn’t.” Magnus kisses him deeper, hands in his hair.

Alec pulls at Magnus’ shirt until he can get his hands on the warm skin of his abs and follow the line of muscles down to his waistband, slowly and barely trailing the tip of his finger below it. He nips at Magnus’ bottom lip, softly tugging when he parts. “Not now. Not like this. Not when—”

Magnus opens his eyes, dark and shimmering with the stars in the sky above them. “No. I don’t need my heart broken.”

Alec stills, drinking this all in. He touches his face, fingers brushing the gold dusting on his cheekbones, cherishing every detail. “I didn’t know I could.”

“I didn’t either,” Magnus says, “and then it was too late.”

“Way too late.” Alec closes his eyes and kisses him, soft and short before he pulls back to speak, touching their foreheads together. “Not now. Not like this… but one day.”

Magnus nods, slow and heavy. “We should stop or I won’t be able to again.”

Alec chuckles and pushes himself back, sitting on his heels, knees digging into the grass. Magnus pushes himself up on his elbows and his eyes slowly move up Alec’s body and down at himself.

“I don’t think we’re getting our rental deposits back,” he says, brushing strands of grass away from Alec’s lap, and laughs. “It’s worth it.”

Alec hums and looks at the grass stains on his knees. “Lucky for you, your boyfriend is experienced in grass stain removal.”

Magnus laughs, brighter and louder. He crawls his way to Alec and pulls him in for another kiss. This one is less urgent, they have the night ahead of them beneath the stars. “One day,” he whispers.

“Someday,” Alec promises.

This is a promise he wants to make. He doesn’t know how or if he can keep it but he needs to believe in it. Believe in one day.

 

Chapter Text

We'll be friends again
I'll get over you, you'll wonder who I am
--
And there's this burning
Just like there's always been
I've never been so alone, alone
And I've, and I've, I’ve never been so alive
-Third Eye Blind

.

“You got the food?” Alec asks, peering over his shoulder as he steps up to the ladder.

Magnus twists to show him his backpack. “All packed up.”

“Good.” Alec gestures to the ladder. “After you.”

Magnus steps up onto the first rung and begins to climb. He’s heard of everyone at school doing this, some doing it as often as every weekend that it’s become a ‘spot’ and you can often find the jocks out here with their girlfriends, making out, drinking beer, pretty much doing everything they shouldn’t be doing while hanging out on a two-hundred foot tall water tower.

He can hear Alec climbing up after him but he refuses to look back. Magnus isn’t afraid of heights but he doesn’t love them either, so he’s going to continue his climb and hope Alec doesn’t fall to his death.

Winded, he reaches the top, climbing carefully onto the grated ledge and crawling until he leaves enough room for Alec to follow behind, which he does seconds later and crawls over to Magnus.

He shrugs off his backpack and points with his chin for Magnus to do the same.

“I’m already tired. How do people do this every weekend while drunk and not die?” Magnus asks, taking out their sub sandwiches from his backpack.

Alec laughs as he unzips his own backpack, shaking his head. He pulls out a thick knitted blanket and lays it out carefully between them, it’s lumpy and folded in places to fit in the tight space but it works.

“Alexander, did you plan a picnic?”

Alec smiles up at him and retrieves a small candle he sets off to the side before striking his thumb on the spark wheel of his lighter. “Candlelit picnic,” he clarifies and gestures proudly once the flame catches.

Alec’s lucky it isn’t a breezy night or his romantic plans would have resulted in a massive failure, Magnus thinks to himself—charmed by the gesture of it all. Alec begins setting up their food, a pleased smile on his face at his romantic accomplishment. There’s a gleam of absolute delight in his eyes, shining, and there’s nothing that could have gone wrong that would have made this night a failure. He had Magnus from the minute he showed up at his door tonight. Alec could knock their food off the tower, set their blanket on fire, and Magnus would still be one-hundred percent swept away.

When Alec finishes, he gestures with open arms. “Ta da!”

Magnus snickers and gets on his hands and knees to cross the space between them without disrupting all of Alec’s hard work. “It’s perfect. Now, give me a kiss.”

Alec obliges, giving him a quick peck that leaves Magnus hanging so he can go back to his backpack.

“One more thing to really set the mood.” He pulls out a small pink boombox, covered in glitter heart stickers, and, in the process, gives Magnus a pointed look, squinting one eye, menacing and adorable at the same time. “Don’t say a word. It’s Izzy’s.”

Magnus sits back and puts his hands up, biting on his bottom lip to stop his grin. “I’m not saying a thing.”

Alec sets up the boombox and pushes play. “There,” he says, satisfied.

“Bon Jovi?”

Alec sits back on his heels. “Some of his most romantic songs are on the Cross Road album but I made a mix of a few of my favorites by him.”

“Alexander,” Magnus breathes, “it’s perfect.”

Alec smiles and it’s the wide smile that sends Magnus’ heart swooping in love all over again.

He shakes his head, chuckling. “This has to be one of the cheesiest—”

“Watch it,” Alec warns and his brows begin to pinch together in the center, a look that he often has around most people.

“Corniest,” Magnus continues because he quite likes Alec’s grumpy expression, “mushiest, sweetest”—Alec huffs out a laugh and his expression relaxes into self-satisfaction, letting Magnus continue—“most romantic gesture ever,” Magnus coos.

Alec’s left brow curves up and he runs his tongue along his bottom lip in a way that shouldn’t be legal. “I can make it more romantic and corny if you want?”

Magnus swoons, “Please, sweep me off my feet.”

Alec rises onto his knees, takes the pink boombox and holds it, arms stretched high over his head, while Bon Jovi’s Always plays its chorus in the stillness of the night.

It’s a sight that maybe every teenager hopes to see—a classic gesture that represents everyone’s young love fantasies, and Magnus can’t help but blush, covering his grin with one hand.

They let the song play and the lyrics of a love that will last forever feels more with Alec gazing down on him like this, and just like in the movie, the moment is tinged with sadness. Not what he should be feeling right now, probably not at all what Alec was going for with his sweet picnic and Bon Jovi mixtape; so Magnus rises to his knees and edges in closer to Alec. He wants the future to be now, he wants that ‘someday’ they promised each other to begin right this second. He wants this promise of always and of finding a place where the sun still shines like the song talks about.

Alec’s breath stumbles out with a sigh when Magnus touches at the curve of his jaw. Magnus smiles at him and gently guides Alec’s mouth to his. He means for it to be quick but Alec parts his mouth and Magnus laces his arms around his neck. He kisses Alec to let him know that he has his heart, always. No matter what happens, he’ll always have this Springtime and he’ll always hold Magnus with him wherever he goes. Alec lowers his arms, carefully setting the boombox somewhere beside them before taking Magnus in his arms, deepening their kiss. He licks softly into his mouth, running his fingers along the necklaces that dangle around Magnus’ neck.

Alec breathes in and then parts, swallowing hard—always with more self-control than Magnus is capable of. “Let’s eat. We don’t want our food to get cold.”

Magnus groans and wipes away some of the spit at the edge of Alec’s mouth. “If you insist. But I want as many kisses as I can get.”

Alec smiles, small and bittersweet; and Magnus wonders how many kisses they have left between them. How many more times will Magnus be able to kiss those lips and change that smile into something pure and genuine.

He wants nothing more than to stop thinking, he wants the sadness that’s drifted over their night to lift. He wants to remember this night with nothing but happiness.

“I don’t think anything will ever top that lovely serenade,” he comments playfully, his effort at pushing away all doomsday thoughts.  

Alec snorts out a short laugh. “Would it be incredibly mean of me to say ‘good’ to that?” He looks at Magnus with a smirk and takes a bite of his sandwich.

Magnus laughs. He doesn’t even want to think about the underlying implications of someone ever replacing Alec. He’s not even sure it will be possible. He shrugs a shoulder. “Go ahead.”

“Good,” Alec says without hesitation and with a teasing grin as he sips his soda. “I would have climbed down to really set the movie vibe but I think that would have killed the romantic suspense.”

“Maybe just a little.”

It’s easy from there to talk about nothing and everything. So easy to forget what lays ahead of them and instead focus on creating memories together—where Alec curls into his side and they gaze up at the stars, a collection of love songs playing softly from the pink stereo.

Climbing the water tower was just one of the many things on their list of things to do together before graduation. They’ve done all the small things like make out in the backseat of Alec’s car, walk around the mall holding hands just to have something to do on a weeknight, and go to the park where they pushed each other on the swing sets. It’s too cold to go swimming in the river or to even dip their feet so they visited it instead and sat on its banks.

They’re going to make it impossible for Magnus to leave this all behind.

The song changes and Alec takes his hand, joining their fingers. He covers them with his other hand and holds Magnus tightly, brushing his thumb across the back of Magnus’ hand. Magnus lays his head on top of Alec’s and holds him back just as tight. Holding on to this boy and this love as long as he can. Holding on until one day.

Alec brings their hands to his lips and kisses him softly and Bon Jovi’s Never Say Goodbye plays, voicing for them what they can’t say - what they won’t say.  

.

 

“Jace?”

Alec knocks on the open door before stepping in. Jace is sitting on his bed, phone up to his ear and Alec pauses when he lifts a finger. He’s laughing at something and when he turns his eyes shift to immediate concern and Alec can only assume he’s noticed the red splotchy nose he must have from crying. He feels stupid but if there’s anyone who won’t judge him or make him feel pathetic, it’s Jace.

“Clary, can I call you back a little later? Alec needs me.” He nods to something she says. “Love you, bye.”

He ends the call with the press of a button and waves Alec in. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m… I just…” Alec takes in a breath to stop the shaking in his throat.

Jace stands. “What’s going on?”

Alec closes his eyes and breathes. He can say it without crying. He can do this. “Magnus and I are breaking up”—he chokes in another breath—“and I really just need you to tell me it’s going to be okay.”

“What?” Jace hisses. He moves to close the door and joins Alec by the bed, hand on his elbow guiding him to sit. “What happened?”

Alec sniffs and wipes at his nose. “Nothing. He’s going to California and I’m not. I’m going…”

“To Indiana,” Jace finishes for him a sadness filling his eyes that spoils the reassuring smile he’s trying to give him.

Everyone seems to know this and yet the thought that Alec and Magnus are ending doesn’t seem to cross their mind, which is baffling when it’s all Alec can think about. It is all he thinks about. When Magnus isn’t around, his mind doesn’t stop. It dreads and counts the days and it breaks his heart.

He swallows, heavy and rough, through the tightening in his throat. “What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to let him go?”

Jace gives a small shake of his head. “I don’t know, buddy. I wish I did. When did you guys decide this?”

Alec closes his eyes, rubbing at the bridge of his nose where his head is beginning to hurt from all the thinking and crying. “Our first date,” he mutters.

He doesn’t have to look to know that Jace is stunned, probably puffing his cheeks out with the large breath he exhales beside him. He feels the motion of Jace shrugging, elbow knocking into his side. “Then why did you do it?”

Because he’s an idiot. An idiot that made the best mistake because it brought him and Magnus together. He sighs. “It was just supposed to be for fun and never anything more but then, I got to know him and he became my friend. And he’s amazing and funny and kind and supportive; and I fell in love.” He drops his face into his palms. “Why did I let myself fall in love? Why? When I knew I couldn’t have this.”

“And he loves you too?”

Alec presses against the burning in his eyes and nods. “Yes.”

“Fuck,” Jace whispers and smooths his hand side-to-side across Alec’s back.

Tears prickle their way out despite his efforts on keeping them in, bitterness building in his chest over how completely unfair it is for him to fall in love with someone he can’t be with.

“And he doesn’t want to try?”

“Try what?” Alec snaps, sitting up to look at his brother. “Phone calls and maybe one or two visits over major holidays?”

“Well, I—” Jace stammers and Alec shakes his head at himself, taking in a deep breath to calm the anger. He shouldn’t be yelling at Jace who is just trying to be here for him, bringing up a valid question and one that Alec has thought of plenty of times. He’s gone down the irrational road of wishful thinking and he’s listened to his mom casually, and with a smile on her face, talk about long distance relationships and how difficult they can be, not knowing that it’s not what he and Magnus intend to do. He’s thought about it and it’s not something he’s willing to ask of Magnus.

“He doesn’t deserve that,” he admits, quietly. “He’ll be lonely and miserable and he’s got a good thing waiting for him there. He needs to focus on school and I just...I won’t be something that holds him back. I won’t do that to him.”

Jace looks down at his hands, shoulders slumping forward. “What about you?”

“I have a team waiting for me. A good team.” Alec shrugs, tired. “I’m not like Magnus… I don’t have this academic career waiting for me. I have soccer. That’s it. That’s where I’ve put everything and this scholarship—”

“Alec,” Jace cuts him off, laying a hand on his shoulder. “You don’t have to explain yourself. I.U. has one of the top teams in the country. You have to take the scholarship and I’m sure Magnus understands. I’m sure he wants you to.”

“He does,” Alec says. “I just wish I didn’t have to lose him for it.”

“I know. But college”—Jace shrugs—“it doesn’t last forever. Hell, you have the rest of your life.”

The promise of there being an end to the wait is the one thing holding Alec together. There will be a day when they can find each other again. And they made a promise and Alec wants more than anything to keep it.

“Magnus has his dreams and he’s going to do it. As he should. And you have yours,” Jace says matter-of-fact. “Nothing says you can’t be together after if it’s what you both want. Trust me.”

Alec chuckles and wipes the snot from his nose. “When did you get so wise?”

Jace snorts. “Well, I may have rephrased the speech Clary gave me when we talked about moving to New York together to follow her dreams when we graduate.”

Alec gives his brother a smile. “I’m glad you got your shit sorted out.”

Jace hisses. “Well, I don’t quite have a prestigious soccer scholarship waiting for me or dreams of being a big shot NASA scientist or the next big artist like Clary does. I think I can study pretty much anywhere while I figure out what the hell I even want to do with my life.”

“I’m a little jealous,” Alec mumbles, receiving a confused grimace from Jace.

“Jealous? Of my directionless future?” Jace laughs. “No.”

“Well, my situation fucking sucks,” Alec groans.

Jace chuckles somberly. “Yeah, it does, but I think you’ll be okay.”

Alec looks over at him. He doesn’t know if it’s true but he wants it to be. “You think?”

Jace’s face scrunches when he nods in agreement. “I know you will.”

Alec wipes at his nose again with his sleeve. “Don’t tell Mom. She’s all excited about her date with Coach, I don’t want to bring her down with this crap.”

Jace leans into him, bumping him with his shoulder and Alec leans into the weight. They hold themselves up, sighing at the same time, and Alec closes his eyes. He’s always been good at pretending to be okay, he can do this. He can fake it until it starts to feel real. He can pass the time like that, pretending, but always longing—longing for more and for the piece of him that will be in California.

.

 

Catarina groans and drops onto Magnus’ bed. “Can we please take a break?”

Magnus finishes taping a box and pushes it over with the others that are stacked against the wall before joining her, dropping to sit. “Fine. A quick break.”

She folds her hands in prayer and quietly mumbles something under her breath. He rolls his eyes and she giggles before sitting up, wiping her brow and then poking him. “What’s going on with you? You’re really out of it today.”

“No I’m not.”

“Magnus,” she says, hardening her eyes on him and then gestures to the tower of boxes with hastily scribbled labels on them, “you’ve been packing like a madman without a break. Graduation is in a couple of days—”

“Exactly. Graduation is in a couple of days. I have to get my shit together so we can make our trip.”

She glances around the room and stops when her eyes land on the framed photograph Magnus has on his nightstand of him and Alec, the one she had given him what feels like forever ago.

“I know something’s wrong.” She looks at him again and crosses her arms.

“Cat…”

“We don’t keep things from each other,” she bites out, clearly not willing to let him get away with this.

Magnus closes his eyes. If she only knew how much he has kept from her. He wants to confess but what would even be the point of that now? He and Alec have long since moved past their fake status, it became something real to them both along the way and it’s still real. It’s the most existent thing Magnus has ever felt. How it started doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters is that it’s ending and Magnus will lose him.

“Alec and I…” She situates herself more comfortably beside him and rests her hand on his knee, giving him the strength to speak the truth he needs to say. “We’re breaking up and I’m heart broken, Cat. That’s what’s wrong with me.”

She emits a soft gasp that she quickly covers with a frown. “I’m so sorry, Magnus. I had no idea.”

And how could she when he’s done nothing but keep everything he’s been feeling from her. He had hoped he could make it through the entire relationship without saying more than necessary but that idea was never going to work. There’s no way he can keep this pain from her. Not when he feels it eating away at him.

“Mind if I ask why?” she questions him carefully.

He sniffs back what feels like the beginning of tears and a runny nose; he blinks and wills away the burning in his eyes. He hasn’t had to say it out loud yet. Just the small discussions he and Alec have had here and there. And he’s too afraid to even voice a word to his mother. She’ll see right through him and he won’t be able to keep himself from crumbling.

“We’re going to different colleges. Our lives are going in two very different directions. It makes sense.”

He shrugs his shoulder and she moves in to lay her head there. She’s practical, smart, and always realistic; he knows she understands exactly the predicament they’re in. But she doesn’t know how entwined and lost Magnus has found himself or how much it’s going to hurt when he tries to disentangle his heart from the roots it’s planted in Alec.

“I’m in love with him,” he whispers, and the confession pains him deep in his chest. She takes his hand in hers and squeezes onto him. “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

She laces their fingers. “Have you told him?”

Magnus holds his friend’s hand and clings onto her for all the strength he knows he needs to not shatter completely. “Not in so many words but… he knows.”

“Does he…” her sentence trails off and Magnus closes his eyes and thinks about the way Alec holds him, the way he kisses him with every ounce of passion and dedication he holds in his body.

“Yes,” he says with a sigh. “He hasn’t said it either though. I think it would hurt that much more if we let the words out.”

She nods against him and lets out a resigned sigh.

“You’re not going to try and convince me I’m wrong and that this can still work out?”

“I think…” she begins, carefully choosing her words, “you and Alec… what you have is special. And I think you’re both smart and want what’s best for each other. Long distance is hard and I think you both know that. I hate to see you like this but…”

“It’s for the best,” Magnus finishes.

She shakes her head. “I really don’t know.”

Magnus laughs at himself. “You know I… actually let myself consider asking him to go with me. It was just a second and then I realized that it would ruin everything he’s worked so hard for and I can’t do that to him.” He scoffs and looks down at their entwined hands. “How childish of me, right?”

“No. I think it’s normal that your mind went there. I’m sure Alec’s has to, if only for a second. I think it’s brave of you to let him go and want what’s best for him.”

“I don’t want to lose him forever,” he says quietly. That’s what he’s afraid of. It’s the truth and it’s what’s happening but he wants to cling to the promise they made each other on prom night.

“I don’t think you will. Not if it’s meant to be. If it is, then this is just a small bump in a long road that’s going to cross his again.”

“I really hope so.”

She smiles up at him, hope shining in her eyes. “I believe it.”

Magnus wipes a tear away. “I’m not ready to let him go, Cat.”

“I know.” She squeezes his hand. “When are you guys ending things?”

“Graduation.”

She hums. “Is this why you want to leave town as soon as possible afterward?”

“I don’t want to—I need to,” he confesses. “I need to get as far away as possible. We agreed to go our separate ways after, no more seeing each other because it will only hurt more. So maybe if I just leave town it will hurt a little less. Because I can’t last a summer with him around the corner and know that I can’t be with him.” She soothes him when he starts to cry and she wraps him in her arms, holding him where he breaks against her. “I can’t do it. I can’t.”

“Okay,” she soothes, “whatever you need.” She kisses his temple. “We’ll do whatever it is you need.”

Magnus needs Alec but that’s not an option. So what Magnus needs is to run as far as he can and hope that one day they will run towards each other instead of away.

.

 

Magnus is already waiting for him in the spot they agreed to meet, in the place where this all began.

Alec stands at the bottom of the stadium and looks up to see Magnus as he was that day.

“I feel like you should be smoking right now to really set the mood,” he calls up to him and Magnus rolls his eyes.

“Have a seat,” Magnus says, gesturing to the spot beside him. And it all feels like that first day.

Alec takes a hesitant step up each slab of concrete, making his way up the stadium stairs until he’s exactly where he should be. He sits beside Magnus, like he did that day, and leans forward, taking in the bright green soccer field. Here is where they began; two idiots making an arrangement they never expected to end like this; here is where they became more—not even meaning to and without words, only a kiss; here is where they made a promise they both know may be broken; here they walked across the makeshift stage that’s already been torn down and accepted their diplomas, their tickets to freedom, their tickets to heartbreak. Here is where they have decided to end this.

“You know…” Alec starts, smiling at the memory he’s going to share, “you looked so cool sitting up here that day. Smoking, skipping class, and I panicked when I came up those stairs. If anyone was to ask me that morning where I saw myself at the end of the school year, I never would have guessed I would have ended up here again… with you. I never would have believed it.”

Magnus laughs a little and Alec’s skin tickles when Magnus brushes the hair away from his eyes. “Well, I am pretty cool. Although, I do have nightmares when I think about how one of the first things I said to you that day had to do with me farting.”

Alec laughs, loud and Magnus smiles radiantly, his shoulders shaking when he starts to laugh along. “You did.”

“And you still asked me to be your fake boyfriend.”

“I did.”

Magnus groans dramatically, palming his face. “Why?”

“Let’s just say I have a weakness for beautiful, kind men.” Alec chuckles. “Who also like to laugh at me when I suggest they pretend to be my boyfriend.”

Magnus winces. “Can we forget about that? Along with my farting comment?’

Alec grins, shaking his head. “No.”

“No?”

“No.”

“Fine, well, in my defense, everyone was pretty shocked when we came out, so I was kind of right,” Magnus says airily, a humored smirk curving his lips.

“Mhmm.” Alec nods. “I’ll pretend for a second you thought I looked cool too.”

“I thought you looked beautiful,” Magnus says and when Alec looks at him, there’s undisguised honesty in his gaze. “I saw you sitting there and you looked so worn down by the rumor but the sun was shining on your face and you looked… so… so…”—Magnus looks at the spot between them, as if remembering that exact moment—“gorgeous. And I asked myself how I had never stopped to really notice you before. I must have been blind.”

Alec has never cared about his appearance and he’d spent so much time under the radar that hearing Magnus say things like this still makes his stomach flutter in excitement. But his heart burns, sore and wounded, with every word and every beat against his all too tight rib cage. “That makes two of us.”

“You mean to tell me you weren’t secretly pining after me all throughout high school and this was your elaborate scheme to have me fall in love with you?” Magnus’ smile falls at the end, as if he never meant to say those last words.

Alec grins, glad that he did. They’ve never spoken them out loud but he knows and Magnus knows and somehow that’s enough. “I’d like to think I would have asked you out instead of starting this whole… mess.”

“I’d like to think I would have said yes,” Magnus says with a chuckle and slides in closer.

“I guess we’ll never know.” Alec clears his throat with a quick swallow. “But hey, you got your car.” He points at the car keys sitting on the step behind them. “Bright side, right?”

Magnus shrugs. “I guess. I have a safe, reliable car to drive myself to California in.” He winks at Alec. “The bright side.”

“That reminds me, I have a graduation present for you.” Alec reaches into his pocket and Magnus sends him a pointed look.

“That better not be money,” he threatens.

Alec laughs. “It’s not. I may be an idiot about some things but I do try to learn from my mistakes.” He pulls out the small tissue wrapped gift. It’s small and not at all everything he wants to give to Magnus but Magnus already has his heart, he’s taking it with him to California in two days. “Here.”

Magnus accepts the gift with a suspicious look and slowly peels away the badly wrapped layers of tissue paper. He lifts the small fuzzy dice with one finger.

Alec flicks at one of the dice and they swing side to side. “For your rear view mirror. I looked everywhere until I could find these smaller ones, those big ones seem like a hazard.”

Magnus’ laughter cuts through the air and he clutches the dice to his chest. “I’ll cherish my tacky fuzzy dice and display them proudly on my rear view mirror. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Magnus looks down at the dice, smiling much more fondly than anyone should at something so kitsch. “I’m the worst boyfriend because I didn’t get you anything.”

“You know I don’t care.”

“Well,” Magnus reaches around his neck, unclasping a necklace he pulls out of his shirt, “I did get you something but I thought you might not like it so I decided to keep it for myself. But…”

He holds out the black corded necklace where a small pewter soccer ball dangles from the center. He lays it in Alec’s palm. “I know you don’t wear jewelry—”

“I love it,” Alec cuts him off because he doesn’t want Magnus to think for one second that he could ever hate any gift from him. Alec slips the cord around his neck and hooks it. He touches at the soccer ball falling at the center of his chest. “You were actually going to wear a soccer ball necklace?”

Magnus toys with the dangling charm. “It would have been something to remember you by. As if I could forget…”

Alec catches his hand before he can take it back. He wants to hold it one last time. He brushes the back of it against his cheek - to memorize how it feels. He brings the palm to his lips and presses a kiss there. “You will always have a piece of me with you,” he whispers against him.

Magnus bites into his bottom lip that trembles with his hitching breaths. His eyes are wet when he looks at Alec and he exhales a long shaking breath. “But not you.”

Magnus has all of him—heart and soul. He can’t possibly know just how much of Alec he’s taking with him across the country. How empty Alec is going to feel once he’s gone. “You do. You always will.”

Magnus shakes his head. “We can’t…”

“I could never forget you,” Alec whispers, voice choking in his all too tight throat. It’s the awful, ugly truth looming inside of him and he has to say it out loud at least once. “I won’t.”

“Alexander,” Magnus whispers, pleading.

“I know.” Alec lowers their hands to his lap. “We said we would make this easy.”

Magnus sighs. “There’s nothing easy about this.” He makes an attempt at a smile when he shakes his head.

Alec laces their fingers. Not making it easier to let it go. Nothing could possibly make this easier.

Magnus grazes his hand with his thumb, his nails painted a deep blue. Alec never knew he would come to know someone’s hands as well as his own, know how they move and how they touch. He never knew holding someone’s hand could feel like home. And he’s letting him go, he realizes, the truth hitting him like bricks against his chest when he looks up at Magnus’ dark eyes. He’s letting his heart go. No guarantee he will ever get it back but he hopes. God, how he hopes.

“Tell me what happens next,” he mutters, holding Magnus’ hand a little tighter. He needs to hear it, practice their future story in words before forcing themselves to live it. It won’t make things easier but he can try.

Magnus turns in his seat, laying his knee between them. He uses his free hand to fix the collar of Alec’s shirt, untucking a flipped over edge, sadness in his gaze when he meets Alec’s again. “You’ll go to Indiana.”

“And you’ll go to California.”

Magnus nods at the truth they’ve finally come to terms with. “You’ll be the best goalie I.U. has ever had.”

Alec tries his best to smile at him. “You’ll be a groundbreaking rocket scientist.”

Magnus rolls his eyes and they are wet when they settle on Alec again, bottom lip trembling and he presses his lips together - tight. His voice is strained, forcing itself out. “You’ll get over me.”

The very idea of it hurts and Alec swallows, everything heavy inside him. It’s not true - not a goddamn word of it. They’re lying to themselves and to each other to make this easier and it’s still not working. He inhales, stopping any tears from falling. They said they wouldn’t.

“You’ll find someone new,” Alec chokes out.

“You’ll lead a great life,” Magnus says, mouth forming a proud smile when he nods. “A great one.”

Alec holds Magnus’ face in his hand, thumb coasting along his cheek bone, holding the weight Magnus presses against him. “You’ll be happy,” Alec whispers, “with everything you’ve ever wanted.”

“Will I?” Magnus asks, breaking the role long enough for a tear to escape and Alec leans in to kiss it away.

“Yes.” He kisses his other cheek. “You will.”

“And you will too,” Magnus says, more of a question than anything.

Alec closes his eyes, a tear falling down his cheek, and forces himself to nod. “One day.”

“Someday,” Magnus responds.

Alec rests his head against him, attending to the sound of Magnus living and hurting before him. They hold hands again and Alec never knew a goodbye could sting in every place inside of him—that love and heartbreak could reside inside of him, alive and burning all at once. And he aches, more than he ever has before.

He wants to break their deal, speak every unspoken thought, say the words for Magnus that inhabit his soul but his throat stings, a shuddering breath falling out in their stead. He can’t bring himself to say it. Not now. Not like this. Not when it won’t change anything. Not if it will only hurt them both. Not if he can’t have Magnus.

Instead, he kisses him, lips sliding to find their home together, sharing their hearts with each other, once again. Feeling alive one last time.

 

Chapter Text

And it’s a chance I’ll have to take
And it’s a chance I’ll have to break
--
I’m in love with you
So in love, I’m in love with you
With you, I’m in love with you
-The Smashing Pumpkins


The soccer ball slams into his palms and he reels back, drawing in a breath to expel when he throws the ball back to midfield. He sets up and goes again. He loses count of how many times, all he knows is he’s exhausted by the end of it, tilting his head back to squirt a stream of water into his dry mouth. He takes his shirt off and wipes the building beads of sweat from his face. His coach is waiting for him at the bench, standing with arms crossed by Alec’s bag.

“Keep up the great work, Lightwood,” he says, proudly.

Alec pants, tired and gives him a quick half-smile. “Thanks, Coach.”

“You’re like a wall out there.” His coach chuckles. “Keep this up and you’ll be breaking your third state record.”

Alec gives him a tired nod and slips into his clean shirt, the dry fabric immediately clinging to the sweat on his chest and lower back.

“You got your eye on going pro?”

Alec toes out of his cleats and slides on sandals instead. “Thought about it.”

“You interested in any particular club?”

“Earthquakes,” Alec answers, shrugging his bag over his shoulder. He says it casually but he’s actually put a lot of thought into this, more than he maybe should have. He should be happy if he finds any team that wants to take him on professionally.

He didn’t know when he first applied for colleges back in high school what he wanted, and now he does. Alec learns from his lessons, and now that he has a goal, he will do whatever it takes to get it.

“Good team. They’ve had a solid start.” His coach scratches at the beard growing down his neck, thinking. After a moment of thinking, he grins and slaps Alec on the shoulder. “We’ve got another year. Let’s get you there then.”

What started as a middle school hobby to get his dad off his back for not being athletic like Jace, has now become much more than he anticipated. When his dad left, Alec kept it up, his mom enjoyed going to all the games. It kept her busy, made her smile. And then Alec grew a head taller than most of the team and they discovered that he’s a pretty decent keeper and he enjoyed the new position that came along with being captain of the team. Now, Jace is off studying sports management and Alec’s considering playing professionally. It’s crazy how the tides shift but he’s excited about his future and all the changes he’s making for his new life to attain it.

“Go home and get some rest, I’ll see you back out here tomorrow.” His coach gives him a floppy salute and starts collecting his things. Alec slings his bag to rest on his lower back and trudges his way across the rest of the field into the parking lot.

He’s still learning the streets but he eventually finds his way back to his apartment. The shower creates a cloud of steam that he relaxes in until he feels himself start to sweat again. Not wanting to defeat the purpose of the shower, he turns off the water and gets out. He plans on spending his night sitting on the couch, watching mindless TV, and maybe having a beer. Classes haven’t started and he wants to spend all of his free time doing nothing before he’s inevitably swept up in days of constant classes, papers, tests, and soccer. Maintaining his GPA for the scholarship is definitely harder than they let on, especially when the sport demands so much of his time, but it’s worth it. It’s what got him here; he reminds himself of this whenever he lets his mind wander to the upcoming stress.  

His cell phone rings and he rolls his eyes at the jaunty tune Izzy changed his ringer to –after a tortuous nine minutes of her listening to every single option available– last time she visited him. He could easily change it but he’s too lazy to, and it makes him think of his sister which always pulls a smile from him, even if he is rolling his eyes.

The screen shows Simon’s name and Alec answers, “Hey, what’s up?”

“Why hello there, old roommate. How’s the new place? Feeling cold and empty without me?”

Alec lets out a snort. The truth is, it kind of does, but he’s not about to admit that to Simon. Best friend or not. “The new place is great. Yours? Miss having someone there to wash all your dishes?”

Simon scoffs. “Don’t kill my loving mood. How are things?”

“Good,” Alec says, letting out a grunt when he stands to go to the kitchen. “Talked to my coach about possibly going pro once the scholarship’s up and I’m graduated.”

“Nice!”

“You talked to Maia about visiting for Christmas?”

“Yes, and she’s on board. She’s suggesting a cabin getaway instead of visiting home so I’ll let you duke that out with her.”

Alec laughs. “If I can visit my family for a few days first then I think she can convince me of a mountain getaway.”

Simon clicks his tongue and Alec can picture the finger guns his friend is surely making along with the sound.

“So, what about the… other thing?”

“Nothing new there.”

Simon’s silence probably speaks more words than any anger he could shout at him. And after a few breaths, he speaks, ending Alec’s misery. “ Alec, dude, what are you waiting for? And don’t say it’s because you just broke up with Anthony. Need I remind you that was like four months ago and you didn’t even really like the dude? I mean you broke up with him and then called me over to hang out immediately after. You weren’t even sad.”

“Yeah, well Anthony and I weren’t ever going to work out.”

“Well, when you spend your relationships comparing them to someone else,” Simon drawls, “that’ll happen.”

That’s true. Alec can’t blame most of the men he’s dated along the way for anything, much less for the fact that they weren’t Magnus and therefore not what he was looking for. Every break up ended the same: in tears for them, nothing for Alec. He admits he thinks he got close to maybe breaking through that barrier with Anthony. It’s the first relationship where he actually tried. But… he was never able to make Alec’s heart beat faster by saying his name or make his chest ache the way it still does whenever he lets himself think about Magnus. It’s impossible to move on when you’re still in love with your ex. And the guy really didn’t help his case towards the end of their relationship, so Alec cut his losses.

“Yeah. Well…”

“I didn’t want to pry but seriously… what did Anthony do that was so horrible?”

“Nothing. It just wasn’t going to work.”

“You seemed pretty pissed.”

“He asked for too much.” Alec shakes his head, rubbing at his eyes.

“That’s vague.”

“He had this unhealthy fixation on Magnus, okay?”

“Magnus?” There’s silence and then Simon hums. “Unhealthy how?”

“Unhealthy as in he couldn’t let it go that I never wanted to talk about him. He wanted to know everything and insisted I was hiding something and then he practically demanded I throw away the pictures of us from high school. High school, Simon—he was irrationally jealous of my high school boyfriend who I haven’t spoken to in three fucking years.”

“What - the - fuck?”

“And it’s not like I kept the pictures of Magnus in my nightstand and stared at them longingly before bed. They’re in that album Maia made for me, on my bookshelf.” On the second shelf, beside the box that hides the note Magnus wrote for him that day of his soccer game. “I never even look at them.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about any of this?”

Alec shrugs and then sighs. “Cause it didn’t matter. Not like I was going to marry the guy or anything.”

“What about Magnus? Have you tried reaching out to him? Simon asks for what is the hundredth time over the past three years but turns out he’s always talking to a wall,” Simon says, mockingly.

“For the last time, we broke up with the understanding that we would move on. We didn’t want to be hung up on each other.”

“That turned out really well on your part.”

The statement would sound sarcastic coming from anyone else, Alec thinks, but from Simon, it sounds resigned and weary.

“What is the point of all this if you’re not going to try?”

It was thanks to Simon that Alec moved on, somewhat. He’s the one who lived with Alec for three years while Alec did his attempt at the college dating thing, never caring to go past the physical stuff with most of the guys he met. He entertained an unhappy friend and did it with a smile on his face. Simon had asked Alec to call Magnus more times than Alec can remember. It was well meaning but Alec wasn’t going to break their agreement. They had promised ‘one day’ and Alec would let time and life lead them where it would.

“I’m kind of nervous to reach out now,” Alec confesses. “What if he’s moved on?”

Simon lets out a breath and Alec can hear him press the buttons on a microwave and it makes him smile to picture his friend warming up those disgusting frozen tv dinners they ate way too many of together. “You told me before that you guys said you would - move on, that is. And you did… to an extent. So, you have to be ready to find out that Magnus has too.” He hisses and the sound of something dropping on a counter rings out. “Fuck, I burnt myself,” he hisses and then the tap turns on. “Look, I know it sucks but… if you never reach out, you’ll never know. He could be in the same boat as you.”

Alec rubs at his eyes. “I hope not.”

“Call him.”

“I don’t even have his number. What am I supposed to do, call his house and ask his mom for it?”

“Sounds like a good idea.” The sound of Simon blowing causes a staticky sound in the microphone. “You’re going to have an excuse for everything I say, aren’t you?”

“No. I’ll figure something out. I just want to get settled and think…”

Simon whistles, low and long. “Don’t think too much. We both know how you can get.”

Alec looks around at his kitchen. He already forgot what he was coming in here for. “Yeah, I’ll try. Look, I’m gonna eat something so I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Call me if you need me,” Simon says and Alec hums his agreement and hangs up.

Alec clicks through his phone, scrolling through his contacts until the black bar highlights Magnus’ name—it’s his home phone number, the closest thing he has to him. He does this every now and then and has over the past three years. He never calls though.

He clears out of the screen and leaves his phone on the kitchen counter, choosing instead to pop some popcorn and resume his night of watching movies, and not thinking about Magnus Bane.

.

 

Magnus approaches the table outside beneath the stringed lights where Catarina and their newest friend Raphael wait for him. Ragnor is supposed to be meeting them as well but it seems he’s running late, the same as Magnus.

“Sorry, there was traffic,” Magnus apologizes, breathless when he pulls out his chair and takes a seat.

“No problem, I went ahead and ordered your drink.” She points at the server exiting the restaurant, carrying a tray with a glass of white wine.

“You’re an angel,” he sings sweetly, accepting the glass and taking a slow appreciative sip of it. It’s been a long day and he needed this night with friends to take the edge off. He hisses out a content sigh and sets the glass down.

“We’re gonna wait on Ragnor before ordering the food.” Catarina turns to Raphael. “Tell Magnus about what happened in your lab today.”

Raphael rolls his eyes and mutters a curse in Spanish, something they are all too familiar with now after having known him for three years. He goes into his story, detailing the embarrassing acts of some of the students they haven’t quite figured out how had made it into the program. Ragnor shows up ten minutes later, breathing heavy and complaining about the traffic. Magnus tips his wine glass into Ragnor’s and tells him he feels his pain.

He’s halfway through his glass, laughing at something Ragnor said when he stops, the laugh dying inside of him, the air sweeping out of his lungs. He can only hear the sound of his heartbeat, feel the tightening in his chest. He blinks, setting his glass down and leans in, trying to look past the cars that keep passing by.

“Catarina…” His voice must reveal something because they all stop talking at once and he points across the street, swallowing to try and calm the shakiness. “Is that…”

She leans in and follows his finger.

“Oh my god,” she gasps, soft and barely there. “Magnus, I think it is.”

Raphael leans over the table. “Who are we looking at?”

Ragnor hums. “Definitely is.”

Ragnor is the last deciding factor that drives it home for Magnus. He turns his back to the street, he can feel his face pale and he finishes off his glass of wine in three large gulps. Catarina’s eyes are wide when he looks at her and she takes Ragnor’s wine glass and thrusts it forward, offering it to Magnus. He takes it and drinks it too, closing his eyes and focusing on the sounds of tires gliding across the asphalt, the soft music on the speakers of the restaurant, his friend’s quiet presence in front of him.

“If anyone would care to explain,” Raphael says, voice flat, straight-faced when Magnus opens his eyes to look at him. Raphael glances between the three of them, brows raised in question.

Catarina places her hand on Magnus’ wrist, kind and supportive, and he takes her hand, squeezing it because he doesn’t know what to say. How can he begin to describe what Alec is to him? His high school sweetheart, an easy enough descriptor, not nearly close enough to the truth though.

Catarina smiles kindly at him and then looks at Raphael. “You know how some people have those exes who are ‘the one who got away’?”

Raphael nods and she tips her head in Alec’s direction. “That’s him.”

“Alec Lightwood,” Ragnor clarifies and the name pierces through him with every syllable. He’s tried so hard to let him go, to forget, and he’s done his best to not mention him once they moved to California. He had his friends’ support and now… Magnus can’t remember the last time he’s heard the name out loud but the pull on his heart and the rapid beats it gives are there, as if they never left.

Magnus sneaks another glance and he covers his mouth with his hand. He doesn’t want to make a sound or do anything to take away from how he sees him. Alec’s sitting alone, book in hand, a beer on the table.

“How long ago? He doesn’t look familiar.” Raphael asks.

“High school,” Ragnor supplies. “I believe it was only the last four months, right?”

Catarina hums.

“So he meant a lot to you?” Raphael’s question brings Magnus to look away so he can truly think of how he can express what Alec means to him.

To put it simply, Magnus fell in love with him in high school and that has never changed.

“You ever have that ex who no one can compare to, no matter what?” Magnus begins and Raphael tips his head, probably more in understanding than in agreement. “That’s Alexander for me. It’s been three years but every single person I’ve dated since then has been… well, not him.”

“They’ve been weighed and measured and found wanting,” Cat alludes, flicking her brows up.

“I thought I’d gotten over him,” Magnus whispers. Did he though? Did he really believe that lie he told himself? Did he really pretend that there weren’t nights when he’d think about him, listen to the mixtape he’d made, and remember what it was like to be loved?

“Then go talk to him,” Raphael says, simple and straight to the point.

Magnus shakes his head and takes a nervous sip of Catarina’s wine now. It seems to be having absolutely no calming effect whatsoever on him. His stomach twists in knots, his lungs feel shallow, his heart hammering to life. “I don’t know if I can. What if he doesn’t want to see me?”

“Did you break up on bad terms?”

Raphael is full of questions. After all, Catarina and Ragnor had seen their love first-hand. They never found out the truth, Magnus never told them or anyone. He cried in their arms, he cried with his mother, and then he’d packed up his life and tried to leave it all behind. It clearly didn’t work.

He shakes his head. “Not at all. We broke up because… it was always the plan. We were going to different schools.”

“But now he’s here,” Ragnor chimes in over the rim of his water glass.

“Now he’s here,” Magnus says, drinking another swallow of wine. “Why the fuck is he here?”

His three friends shrug and focus their gazes on Alec.

“What if he’s not single?” Magnus asks. “There’s no way he’s still single. He must have moved here for someone… ”

The very idea of it feels sour in Magnus’ gut, and he feels childish for having a jealous reaction over someone he’s not even with anymore.

“Well, maybe try talking to him, find out if he is or isn’t,” Cat says before narrowing her eyes on him over the rim of her glass. “And do try to not leap into his arms for a kiss two seconds after you say hello.”

“Cat…”

She rolls her eyes. “Magnus, I love you.” She smiles. “But stop being an idiot. Alec was the love of your life. You’ve said so yourself.”

Ah, yes, that one night of way too much tequila a year ago. Magnus vaguely remembers making this declaration.

“You guys met when you were both too young to realize it and now you have a chance,” Catarina supplies with a flourish of her hand in Alec’s direction.

Magnus pinches his eyes shut and steels himself. “I realized it. I just didn’t think there was anything I could do about it. And then it all got fucked up.”

“You were eighteen,” Ragnor says in a soothing understanding tone. “But you guys made the best decision for yourselves at the time. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Raphael makes a low disapproving sound in the back of his throat. “What would you do now? Now that you’re older and wiser. Now that you’ve known what it’s like to not be with him.”

One day. Magnus has dreamed of one day for three years now. Always, without meaning to and possibly without realizing until now, keeping those he dated at arm’s length, always keeping his walls up. Always hoping their promise was real and they would find a way back to each other.

He opens his eyes and looks back across the street where Alec sits, as beautiful as ever. Eyes closed, head tipped back drinking the last drops of his beer. Magnus wants nothing more than to cross the street and throw himself in those arms. He can still remember what it feels like to be there, how warm it is, the beating of his heart, the way his lips taste. “I’d never let him go.”

Catarina’s grin widens. “Then go, before he walks out of here and disappears again.”

Magnus looks at his friends. “But dinner.”

Ragnor scoffs. “I think we’re all going to pretend you didn’t say that.”

“You’re hungry, he’s only drinking a beer. Maybe this can turn into a date,” Catarina sing-songs and Magnus chuckles.

He takes in a deep breath, bracing himself. “Okay, I’m gonna go. I’m gonna do this.” He stands and straightens out his vest.

“Go get ‘em, tiger.” Catarina winks at him and Magnus takes a step away from the table, pausing before turning on his heel.

“Do not watch this like some sort of soap opera. Pretend we’re not here.” He levels a glare on them and they all either hold their hands up or sip at their drinks innocently.

Magnus looks both ways, waits for a cab to pass and steps out onto the street. Time slows to a crawl with every step he takes towards Alec. He’s approaching him from behind and the thought of turning and running crosses his mind but he remembers what it’s like to see Alec’s smile and hear his laughter and how much he misses it; that’s all it takes to propel him to finish crossing.

His heart lurches in his chest, he’s gone three years without seeing him. He’s not ready.

Alec closes his book and Magnus catches his profile in the soft yellow light.

Magnus steps forward. He’s ready.

“Alexander?”

Alec turns, quicker than Magnus is prepared for. Hazel eyes still bright and beautiful like Magnus remembers them. His mouth parts into a grin, all teeth and wrinkles around his eyes. And then, “Magnus,” in a voice Magnus still hears in his dreams.

He stands and he’s taller than Magnus remembers, but they always fit perfectly, that is something Magnus can definitely remember. His eyes scan over Magnus, trailing back up until they meet his gaze again. He opens his arms and Magnus meets him, crashing into a hug that feels like the reckless days of his youth and like falling in love under Springtime skies.

Alec wraps around him until Magnus is buried in the deep, bodied scent of him. He inhales and holds him a little tighter, fingers pressing firmer than he intends. It feels like a dream and reality at the same time. So he clings to him, too afraid he’ll disappear if he lets go.

“I missed you,” Alec says against his shoulder. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Magnus knows, with the swoop in his stomach and the way his heart lurches back to life in his chest, that he’s still in love. There’s no breaking him of this spell.

“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you,” Magnus confesses.

It’s the reason why none of his relationships lasted long. It’s like they all knew they came second to Alec. That they were competing in the shadow of some indomitable ghost.

Alec pulls back a little, keeps an arm around Magnus as he brings his other hand to cup his jaw. “You were supposed to find someone new.”

Three years have changed so much but changed so little at the same time. This is still the same Alec from high school, his Alexander. He’s a little broader in the shoulders, thicker throughout from years of training, he now sports a beard - dark and neatly trimmed - and he’s still exceptionally handsome. There’s a youthful glow in his eyes and they still look at Magnus with so much love, it snatches the breath right out of him; he can’t imagine how he ever thought he would find someone who could look at him this same way. He was a fool to think he would ever find someone else that could make him come alive like this.

Magnus frowns, softly shaking his head. “I tried. It didn’t work.”

Alec’s lips raise at the edge, in the same crooked smile, and Magnus’ legs tremble when he meets Alec’s soft and unwavering gaze. “I never could get over you,” Alec says and Magnus has missed this voice so much.

“Please tell me you tried,” Magnus says, shaking his head, “I don’t want to imagine you unhappy. Ever.”

Alec gives him a smile - tender and intimate. “I tried. It didn’t work,” he repeats back to Magnus.

Magnus chuckles. “So we spent the last three years hung up on our fake boyfriend?”

Alec’s laugh is a soft melody, and Magnus is reminded of how deeply it starts and how breathless it leaves him. “We both know it stopped being fake soon after it began.”

“We sure did try though.” Magnus shrugs. “I never told anyone, did you?”

Surprise brightens Alec’s eyes and he shakes his head, laughing. “Hell no. Not like anyone would have believed me.”

“I sometimes couldn’t believe it.” Magnus sweeps a hand up the length of Alec’s back and he’s back in high school all over again, at a party too drunk to stop himself from holding this man in his sleep. “But then I’d think of you and my heart would hurt and that’s how I knew it was real.”

“A fake break up wouldn’t have left me as empty as I felt after that day.”

The words break Magnus’ heart but they spark hope in him, hope he never dared to allow himself. And it begins to piece the hole inside his own. Nothing feels different between them. Only time. Nothing else. And he doesn’t want to lose any more time.

“Will you take a walk with me?”

Alec unwraps his arms from around Magnus and as if on instinct, their hands fit together, fingers threading. “I am new in town.”

Magnus narrows an eye on him. “I’d love to show you around, maybe take you out for a drink. Dinner?”

Alec grabs his book and they begin to walk and Magnus can see Alec’s cheeks pull up shyly out of the corner of his eye. “Magnus, are you asking me out on a date?”

“Are you saying yes?”

Alec looks over at him, tongue swiping out in that habitual way of his. “Do you honestly think I’d say no? When?”

Magnus looks down the street they’re walking on, it’s a popular area with restaurants and plenty of outdoor seating. “How about now?”

“Okay.”

“Good.” Magnus holds on a little tighter to the hand in his. It all feels like a dream still. The familiar weight in his hand, the same breaths - deep and steady - Magnus came to know as Alec’s. It feels too good to be true. “What are you doing in Stanford?”

A proud smile blooms on Alec’s face. “After I beat a state record in Indiana, Stanford recruited me to play for them. Offering me a scholarship to finish out my soccer career and school year with them.”

Magnus straightens up and he looks over at Alec. “You’re still dominating the soccer world then?”

Alec lets out a soft chortle. “I wouldn’t say dominating. But I’ve been doing pretty good for myself. What about you? Please tell me you’re still pursuing rocket science or have you already taken over NASA?”

“Astronautical Engineering,” Magnus explains, giggling at the memory of Alec always calling it ‘rocket science’ with that awed lilt to his voice, “but yes. I’m enrolling in the Master’s program and then after that, I’ll get my Ph.D. As for NASA, I actually work with a professor at the Ames Research Center over in Mountain View.”

Alec hums, approvingly, dark brows arching up. “Really? That’s...wow...you constantly amaze me.”

Magnus blushes and lowers his eyes to focus on the street ahead of them. “You?”

“Nothing as exciting as—all that.” He gestures in Magnus’ general direction with his free hand. “My degree will be in History. But I’m actually looking into going pro with soccer.”

Magnus’ eyes widen and he can’t stop himself from grinning. “Alexander, that’s amazing!”

“Thanks. It wasn’t what I expected but I feel good about it.”

“And this is where you want to start your career?”

Alec purses his lips and looks down at their hands, holding them up to examine them, instead of having them swing between them. “I didn’t hesitate when I received Stanford’s offer. I knew it would lead me back to you and I had to try. I hope that’s not weird of me to say.”

“Not at all.” Magnus’ heart definitely skips and beats so hard he feels like it shows. Or it might show on his face because he can’t seem to stop smiling at Alec. “What about after university?”

“Well”— Alec smiles, looking up at the sky before continuing—“there’s a professional team in San Jose. I think I’ll go for them and if the professional route doesn’t work then I’ll either go back to school to get a Master’s or maybe I’ll get a job teaching soccer to kids and middle schoolers. I don’t know. I’ve got plenty of options right here though.”

Magnus stops them at a restaurant on the corner. This is where he wants to take him but right now, he needs to look at him, he needs to look into his eyes. “You’re staying here then?”

“If that’s what you want.”

His eyes sparkle a deep green with the offer and Magnus steps in close. He’d forgotten how beautiful Alec’s eyes are. How they could make his knees weak with a single blink. And he’s here, in California, and he plans on staying. “Of course it is.”

Alec smiles and Magnus gestures at the restaurant they’re outside of, guiding Alec to a seat outside. They catch up on three long years and Magnus hears about the family he’s missed so much. How Isabelle is studying abroad, Jace in Brooklyn with Clary, and how Maryse and Coach Garroway have been together the entire time. Alec tells him about Maia and Simon, and their insistence on planning all trips back home at the same time so they can see each other. Alec asks after Magnus’ mom who, he admits, he hasn’t seen even on trips back home. He apologizes for this but Magnus tells him to stop, because he has never stopped by to see Maryse, he gets it. The memories would hurt too much. Alec asks about Catarina and Ragnor and Magnus tells him how they’re just down the street and how Magnus spotted him from their table. They talk and laugh and it’s as if no time has passed when Alec holds Magnus’ hand on top of the table.

“You still have it?” Alec asks, eyes wide in surprise.

“What, did you expect me to throw it away?” Magnus scoffs. “What a perfectly good waste of a warm jacket.”

Alec chuckles. “I just”—he scratches at his beard—“figured you wouldn’t want the reminder.”

Magnus hums. It’s true that, at first, it was probably not his best decision but he’d pulled out the old letterman jacket once or twice over the years and worn it around the apartment when Catarina would turn the AC on too high. He’d stopped doing that though. The reminder was too much and it’s been collecting dust for the past year and a half.

“I only wore it a couple of times. I did end up pushing it to the back of the closet. A few of my exes didn’t quite like the idea of it,” he says with a shrug.

“Hm.” Alec chuckles while sipping his beer. “I can see how that might give the wrong impression.”

Magnus laughs. “Well, there’s no way in hell I was throwing it away.”

They finish dinner and Alec walks Magnus to his car. He fiddles with his keys and tells Magnus his car is just around the block. It’s amazing how Magnus can go years without seeing him and still know him, know that his mind is running through a million thoughts and that he’s stalling by the way he glances around quickly and licks at his lips.

“I—”

“Alexa—”

They laugh and Alec takes in a breath. “I really don’t want this night to end. If you want, you can come back to my place?” His face flushes and he scratches at his beard. “I mean, if you’re tired or have a busy day tomorrow, or if you just don’t want to, that’s okay. I was just offering—”

Magnus chuckles. “I’d love to.”

“Really?”

“I’ll follow you?”

Alec nods, quickly. “Okay.”

Alec lives close by in a new apartment building built within the past year. It’s a modern-looking building, sleek with large windows and very reminiscent of Alec’s house back home. Magnus follows him upstairs and into the living room. He walks around, looking at books on the shelf, photo albums that probably hold years worth of memories, a wooden box with beautiful carvings which Magnus imagines must hold special things for him.

Alec walks to the fridge and takes a look inside. “I only have beer, is that okay?”

Magnus nods. It’s not like he really came up for Alec’s drink selection, but he won’t say no to something that will help calm him.

Alec hands him the beer and then clinks their bottles together.

Magnus takes a sip. “It’s weird, isn’t it?”

Alec raises his brows and swallows and Magnus just gestures at the space around them. “Being alone, as adults, no moms cracking our doors open or waking us up with a vacuum cleaner.”

Alec laughs and his mouth pulls back in a grimace. “I don’t miss that.”

“Privacy. This is much better,” Magnus comments, winking at him before taking another drink. “So what are your plans now that you’re settled in?”

Alec guides them over to his couch, choosing to sit beside Magnus, slightly angled in towards him, holding his hand. “My plan was to woo my ex-boyfriend into being my boyfriend again but I think this turnout is even better than what I pictured,” he says, a fond smile on his face when he looks down at their joined hands.

“How did you intend to woo me, Alexander?”

Alec sips nervously at his beer and then sets it down, playing with Magnus’ hand in his. “I—uh, hadn’t thought that far. I’ll admit, I was scared you wouldn’t want this, but I had to try.”

Magnus sets his beer bottle down and moves in closer to Alec until he can feel the fan of his breath against his face. “You moved your entire life here, for me?”

Alec’s lips part, uncertain, and then he nods, cheeks flushing. “I know that’s very presumptuous of me but I hoped.”

“Not presumptuous. We promised each other ‘one day,’ right? I meant that. I didn’t know if or how it would work but I wanted it to.”

“I want it, more than anything.” Alec brings his hand now to Magnus’ cheek, stroking along the bone with his thumb. “Even after three years.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in high school sweethearts and love and all that.” Magnus bites on his lip to stop himself from smiling at the exasperated smile and laughter Alec gives him.

“Yeah, well, you proved me wrong.”

“Are you saying I’m your high school sweetheart?”

“I’m saying I’m still in love with you,” Alec says, hazel eyes richer than ever, holding every ounce of reverence Alec has always given him.

Magnus has known since high school that he’s in love with Alec, and he’s known - without them ever saying it - that Alec Lightwood was in love with him. Hearing it finally being said out loud releases the weight of longing Magnus has carried inside him for so long. He finally feels whole again, like the piece Alec carried away with him has finally returned home.

Alec’s lips part, an uncertain curve of his brow forming and Magnus touches his lips with a finger, stopping him from even questioning whether or not Magnus feels the same. They’re soft, a little wind chapped in the center, and inviting. “I haven’t stopped loving you, Alexander. Not even for a day.”

Magnus trails his fingers across the smooth curve of Alec’s lips and he’s transported back in time; to a tire swing with beer on their tongues; to Costa Rica with desire thrumming in their veins; to a soccer field habituated with revelations, declarations, and promises. Alec dips his head down and ghosts a kiss on the pads of Magnus’ finger. He kisses his palm, his wrist, turning his head to kiss at the edge of his mouth, and Magnus leans in, content, capturing Alec’s lips like he’s wanted to for three years. Alec pulls him close, pressing their chests together until their hearts beat in time. Magnus crawls into his lap and looks down at the man beneath him who still holds Magnus’ heart in his hands, who has kept it safe all these years apart.

He presses down and kisses him slow, sighing into their parted lips at Alec’s hands touching his waist, delicately exploring his hips and thighs. He had given Alec his everything in high school, everything but this, saving it for one day. He smiles along with Alec when he lifts them up and walks them back to his room, embracing this day they’ve waited three years for. Alec lowers him down, resting his head atop a pillow. He trails a hand down Magnus’ side, to the exposed skin of his hip. He pulls back and meets Magnus’ eyes, smiling when Magnus nods, completing their promise to each other because someday has finally come. Magnus pulls him in, threads his fingers in the slightly overgrown hair curling against the nape of Alec’s neck and kisses him with the longing of three years and the promise of many more.