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Love Used To Be

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Peru had seemed to be the right choice. Arequipa, to be precise, the only region in the country that he had ever heard of before he packed his bags, grabbed his passport, skin still red and burning from the removal of his runes, and went to start a new life. He never dreamed anyone would look for him there, it was a place that was far removed from his life at the time. Another country. To the best of his knowledge there wasn’t even and Institute there.

He also knew, with great certainty, that Magnus Bane would never cross these borders, banned as he was.

And he'd never told Alec the reason for his being banned. Shocker.

Just another one of the multitude of secrets he'd kept from him, the things he would never discuss. Alec had been here nearing on twelve years now, without seeing a familiar face or any that would remind him of home. Nothing to grieve that way. It was easier to push the thoughts out of his head if he had nothing around to remind him.

Izzy had been the only weakness he'd had in those twelve years. As often as she'd asked him to tell her where he was, to please, please see her, he had never given up his location to his sister, not even so that she could write a letter. Skype had been good enough every few months and a few times he'd managed to see Jace and Clary and the hoard of nieces and nephews his siblings had managed to make in the decade since he'd been gone.

He hated that he missed it; seeing Izzy pregnant with her children and giving birth to them, seeing what kind of father Jace would be. Wanting to be an uncle so badly to all of the tiny faces he'd seen, yet knowing that he would never be able to meet them, much less send them a birthday gift. He hated that he had to miss it, that he had to miss them at all. But, it was for the best.

Even talking as little as they did as far away as he was, he knew it was still a dangerous thing for his sister. Shadowhunters who lost their runes, who let themselves be shunned out of the Clave, were no longer allowed to associate with anyone they'd left behind. It was against their law.

The Law Was Hard --

It was beautiful here though. The sunrises and sunsets he bore witness to every single morning and every single evening, with the beautiful colors that were mirrored on the ocean from which it rose and set, made keeping himself away from those he loved, worthwhile. Or so he told himself. He would never admit, even to himself, the misery he felt on birthdays and holidays, he would never admit how much he missed simply picking out a cheap gift or a card, just a small token to show he cared.

He had a small home on the beach, that he'd built with his own hands, the plot of beach he'd bought with the salary he'd saved from his prior career as a Shadowhunter. He had been surprised at how easy it had been. Even without his runes he still possessed a great deal of strength from all the years he'd trained to keep himself in peak physical shape in order to better fight demons.

Alec had done alright for himself. He'd picked up Spanish quickly, he thought, but he hadn't made a single friend in twelve years. That was alright, though. He had never really been all that social anyway — he had books he ordered and articles on the Internet to keep him occupied. And then there was the promise of death one day.

Most people regarded him as boring. Everything about him had been boring, from his clothes to his taste in books and music. He was just - dull. But Magnus had never seemed to think so.

There were days that he wondered about him; what he was doing, where he was, if he ever thought about Alec at all since they'd broken up. Who had replaced him? That was the thought that drove him to drink, to drown the painful memories, even though those were the ones he tried to remember the most because the kissing, laughing, glittering, happy ones just hurt too much even after all this time had passed.

He hadn't lied when he told Magnus he would love him until the day he died. He was an honest person, after all. Honest and dull, and certainly not yet dead. And he was still undoubtedly in love with an immortal man who very possibly didn't even remember his name anymore.

That was why he'd come here. A place where he would never have to face what he'd lost or allowed himself to grieve for the thing he wanted more than anything he'd ever wanted in the world. That's why he'd thought Peru was a brilliant idea.

Until tonight.

The job Alec had taken - doing small repairs at a hotel nearby didn't pay him very much, but it kept him in food, and more importantly, it kept him from having to take up a tab at the small bar he frequented nightly. While he hadn't made a friend keeping to himself as he did, Alec was a known regular and at least friendly with the other patrons, enough so that no one bothered him and simply left him alone with his beer. Tonight had been no different.

He walked in wearing his usual faded with age blackish-brown long sleeved t-shirt with grubby, work-worn jeans and sat on the same stool facing the door that he had been for years. Right away his usual (whatever was on tap and keep it coming) was brought to him by the bartender with nary a word exchanged.

The setting was always the same; dark and dingy, the only light seemed to come from a set of lights hanging from the ceiling above the bar that were so dust covered that they lent a yellow glow to the already dank atmosphere, and a little more light that came from a television sat on a pool table that hadn't been used in years - at least never that Alec had seen.

His bar, as he thought of it fondly, was always typically empty. But tonight, there were tourists. A trio of people that walked in and settled around a table nearest to the door, and carried on loud conversations as though they didn't care who overheard every word they were saying. He rolled his eyes. Tourists.

One voice had Alec freezing with parted lips, one familiar voice that caused him to pause as he lifted the chipped mug to take a drink.

That voice. He knew that voice.

It was impossible. He knew it wasn't possible, but that voice sent shockwaves coursing through his entire body and had his breath catching in his throat. He didn't want to turn and look, he didn't want to draw attention to himself, but the voice, the laughter, the soft lilting of an unplaceable accent —

Alec turned his head slowly, looking off to his right, blue eyes scouring the empty tables cautiously until they landed on the group of newcomers. For a brief moment, he was hopeful, he thought he'd imagined it; it wouldn't be the first time, but then there was more laughter and one of the men leaned back, clapping his hands together. The man seated in front of him, the one with the Cheshire grin and wavy black hair tipped with all the colors of the rainbow. No longer done up in spikes, and a bit longer than he remembered, but the face was exactly the same. He would know that face anywhere.

Alec met the greenish-yellow eyes with a sudden jolt of absolute recognition on both ends and he tried to look away, tried to do anything but sit there and stare, lips parted slightly as he couldn't seem to break the gaze. He could see the shock in the Warlock's face, they were wearing the same expression, but before he could pick up his wallet and bolt he saw him rise swiftly, with all the grace of a feline, and make a direct beeline to the bar.

Alec turned back around and downed his beer motioning for another when he felt a presence move to stand behind him. It felt like an eternity passed, his heart was thudding loudly in his ears and drowning out the noises that the newcomers had brought in with them when finally th presence spoke.

"Alexander," came a soft, smooth voice. One that nearly brought tears to his eyes. There had been no question, but rather a simple address. The years had changed Alec a great deal, he had hoped for a moment that his blue eyes had been what had drawn the reaction as he knew Magnus had a weakness for them. But no. He had recognized him.

Alec ignored him, and he heard his name again, this time from his right as Magnus took up a stool next to him. He waved his hand dismissively and shook his head, pretending that he didn't speak English, that he didn't want to be bothered, that he was anyone but the person whose name had just been spoken, knowing damn well the ruse wouldn't work.

"It's been years, Alexander. You vanished off of the face of the earth without as much as a goodbye. At the very least I think you owe me at least a simple hell-," Alec turned to face him then, his brows knitted together as he frowned.

"I don't owe you a damn thing, Magnus,” Alec said, his words full of bite and venom. Very revealing to anyone listening that the last twelve years had done nothing to ease his pain. Still, he continued, Alec couldn’t help himself. “You said you didn't want to see me again, and you haven't, not until you walked into a place you weren't supposed to ever be."

He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, turning back to his mug, his next set of words muffled as he lifted it for another long drink. "And you should just walk right back out of it and leave me the hell alone."

Chapter Text

Magnus hadn't expected to have his ban from Peru lifted in his lifetime, and he hadn't expected when he'd dragged his Warlock friends - Catarina had grumbled the entire time about sand in unmentionable places and tabletop dances that should never be seen again, and Ragnor had just glared and rolled his eyes in that charming way of his, yet both had appeared in his apartment that morning with packed bags ready to go - to have this be the outcome of their trip. It was meant to be a celebration of times past and future times yet to come spent together but this? This had never even been a possibility in Magnus’ mind.

Arequipa was their place, had always been theirs; they had spent the majority of their time in Peru nestled together and wreaking havoc right there in that city. It only seemed to make sense they would portal to their villa on the beach, a place that none of them had ventured to in decades, but that the trio still owned with the hope that one day they would be able to return.

 After they had unpacked and settled in, Magnus caught Ragnor on the patio looking wistfully out at the rolling waves and gray sands of the beach that stretched out in front of him. The sentimental moment was a brief one and made Magnus wonder what his friend had been thinking about while staring out at the ocean, but almost as if he had never witnessed it, it was gone. Ragnor had schooled his expression into his normal, bored one as a very loud Catarina came bustling down the stairs with the suggestion of tequila and a familiar bar on her lips. He had looked at Ragnor questioningly but didn’t ask, but it was still a very curious thing.

 Shortly afterward he had found himself leaping into another portal, one that they had hidden away behind a wall in the mudroom of their nearly ancient villa, and then standing in front of a bar that had been another bar once, full of laughing drunks and live musica criolla, but now looked empty. Closed. The neon blinking sign in the window said differently, however, and they were already here…

 When they’d gone in earlier that night, Magnus had thought they’d have a few drinks and a few laughs - a subdued celebration while they reacquainted themselves with this place - but what he’d found there was so much more than that. He, never in a million years, thought to find the man his heart had searched for what felt like an eternity sitting in one of the dingiest, dankest bars he'd ever been to in his life. It made sense though, and without even speaking a word to him, Magnus knew why Alec had come here.

 "No, you don't owe me anything, that's true,” Magnus furrowed his brows and frowned. “But I would like it very much if you would at least look at me. You can remain quiet, you have every right to but I would like it if you would at least grant me the honor of looking at me."

 Magnus hadn't expected Alec to turn to him, he hadn't expected the cordial nod of his head as they locked eyes for the second time in three minutes. He had expected more of a fight, a spiteful refusal to even move his head at all, but it seemed that time had tempered his stubborn streak and, god, Magnus was sad to see it was gone. He could only wonder what else it was that time had changed other than his temperament and face. Though his appearance had changed with time he could still see his Alexander there.

There were a few lines now, marring that perfect, baby smooth skin he had spent hours caressing and the sun had kissed his skin leaving him a shade or two darker than the soft, pale color he had often admired. Not to mention the immense sadness he could see in the depth of blue eyes that he never thought to look upon again but there, right there, hidden beneath it all was still his Alexander. The boy who had changed his entire world in a single moment with just a single glance after barging into his apartment like he owned it.

 Shadowhunters. Pfft.

 "Still so handsome," Magnus smiled softly, his words barely a whisper. "You've changed so much, but you're still -,"

 "I hope you're not trying to pick me up because I'm seeing someone," Alec cut him off abruptly with his lie. "And I'm mortal, I have a finite number of years, and I age as they pass.” He took a long, thirsty sip of his beer. “I'm thirty-one Magnus, if you would've said I still looked like the same eighteen-year-old broken-hearted boy that you walked away from, I would've called you a liar.” Alec glanced at Magnus again, and then back into his empty mug. “You, on the other hand, haven't changed at all. Not that I'm surprised."

 Magnus was beautiful. Insanely beautiful. Alec would have sold his soul right then to just run his fingers through that glossy black hair, or to touch the cupid bow lips that had brought him so much pleasure and then eventually caused him so much pain. Alec kept his hands steady, still and on the bar in front of him.

 Magnus watched him wave for another beer, and ordered a shot of tequila for himself, determined not to leave the stool until he'd either had his fill of Alec or until he got up and walked away from him. The small smile he wore faltered when Alec mentioned seeing someone so casually to him, though it wasn't a complete surprise. Alexander was the most amazing man he had ever met and while he had been careless and had walked away from that treasure, at least someone else was benefitting from that smile and looks that still haunted Magnus’ dreams on a nightly basis.

 “The blessing and curse of being an immortal,” Magnus mused, taking up his tequila and downing it. “This face hasn’t changed in over nine hundred years, but yours, yours has changed. I can still see the boy you were, the eighteen-year-old boy who had been so scared that first night in my apartment but I can see what time has done to you and time has been good, Alexander. Time has been very good to you. I hope your new paramour knows that because if he doesn’t then either he is blind or he is stupid or he is stupid and blind and stupid, blind people are horrible bedmates.”

Magnus was rambling, this was true but he found that now that he and Alexander were not only in the same place at the same time - something he thought would never happen again - that he was wont to cease speaking. He feared that the moment he stopped speaking all of this would become some horribly cruel drunken hallucination and rather than staring into Alexander’s face he would instead be clinging to Ragnor or Catarina and weeping for this was one of those times where if it turned out to be a dream he would be left with nothing to do but weep.

 “Nine hundred years,” Alec scoffed to himself with a small laugh. Magnus was always changing his age or had always been changing his age, so much so that the higher and lower numbers, and even the completely insane ages he told, had become a running joke between the two of them. He was almost sure that he didn’t really know Magnus’ true age, but he was also sure that one of the numbers he spouted off so randomly was the genuine article.

 The strange look he was getting from the bartender prompted him to order another shot, though as he watched the bartender set a new glass in front of him and pour a new shot he thought better of it all and instead ordered the whole bottle. This was going to end well or very badly and in either case, Magnus was going to need a great deal of alcohol with which to process it all.

 “And go away until he needs another beer.” Magnus waved a hand at the bartender, ignoring the glare that was leveled at him as he turned his attention to Alec once more.

 Alec watched the exchange between Magnus and the bartender unblinkingly until they were done, and then centered his focus on his beer again. There was a whole bottle of tequila on the bar that Magnus had ordered for himself. Did that mean that he meant to stay where he was until he finished the bottle? Or was it for him and his companions to share and Magnus would leave and Alec could finally give in and let his hands shake as much as they were threatening to since his ex had sidled up next to him?

 Angel, he didn’t know how long he could do this.

Luckily, he was off tomorrow. He could spend the day in his hammock crying tonight away.

“Tom. My — paramour . He’s not blind or stupid, thanks. He appreciates me, doesn’t take anything I am or the time we have together for granted,” Alec turned his face to Magnus and shrugged. “I hope you’re doing as well as I am.”

 Magnus doubted it sometimes, but sometimes - it was good, he was almost able to forget. He had thought about Alec steadily for the last dozen years though. It hurt him more than he cared to admit when that pale, innocent face made even more so by the wideness of his big blue eyes, entered his thoughts. His heart still ached for him, he still burned with the same desire he'd felt the moment they'd locked eyes that night at a party Alec had come crashing to at his loft.

He knew he had been hasty when he'd ended things, but he'd needed the time to sort things out, to forgive his lover for contemplating a betrayal as he had done. But by the time he was ready to forgive him the hang-up calls had stopped coming. Alec's number had been changed - and then there had been the war. The all-consuming war that despite his intentions otherwise, he'd fought in beside the Shadowhunters, an ungrateful group that hadn't even thanked him in the end. But he'd done it for Alec. With the hope that somewhere along the way, somewhere on some battlefield, he'd run into him. But he hadn't.

And when it was all over with, Alec was gone. Shunned for the relationship they'd had, though they had welcomed him to the fight and used him long enough to assure their victory before they took his runes and all but shoved him out of the door.

 Not even his sister knew where he'd gone and that had been the hardest part for Magnus. He was used to dealing with his own grief and dealing with the pain that came with losing a lover but watching Isabelle suffer, sitting with her at night when she would show up randomly and listening to her cry over another brother she had lost, that had taken its toll on Magnus.

 Never once though had he ever turned her away. She had always been welcomed in his loft and if the truth were to be known, listening to and watching her grieve had helped some with his own sorrow. Nothing was ever going to make it go away and nothing would ever make him not feel the profound loss of Alexander but time and sharing it with others had made it a little easier to bear.

 Three years though - after three years of searching, hoping, praying to any god or demon that was listening, that Alexander would come back or that he would catch a glimpse of him somewhere and know that he was alright, that he was still alive - Magnus had given up. Reconciled himself to the fact that he'd made the biggest mistake of his very long life, and tried to make the best of it. Men with black hair and blue eyes were a dime a dozen, but none of them were Alexander. None of them made him burn the way that Alec had done. He had never loved any of them and it had been futile to think that he ever would.

 After a while he had sworn off men of a similar appearance, hoping that would do the trick, but after an endless stream of blondes and redheads, Magnus knew that he would never find anything like what he'd had with his Alexander, who was lost to him now, again. He moved on, in the way that he always managed to, but there was always a deep regret there.

 Regret that assaulted him daily at his own behest with the photos he kept dotted around his loft of the two of them together on the only vacation they had ever taken together. And remorse over having not gone after him sooner. If he had only managed to swallow his pride sooner maybe things would have gone differently but Magnus had been hurt. He had been hurt on a level and to a depth he hadn't ever thought possible. Everyone had thought him to be angry.

Several times he had heard Isabelle and Jonathan both tell him to swallow his anger. To push it down, get over it and forgive Alec. There had never been any anger to get past though. All there had ever been was a deep-seated hurt that had clenched his heart so tightly Magnus thought he might never breathe again.

 The one person he had loved more than any other person who had ever come into his life had wounded him so deeply that in that moment and the days, weeks and even months to follow, Magnus thought he would never get over it. He had though. One day the fog had cleared and he realized that he was no longer hurt but by then it was too late. By then Alexander was already gone and all Magnus had been left with was regret and remorse.

 He had searched. Gods knew he had searched for Alexander but everything he had tried - and there had been quite a few things that he had tried - had come up empty. He had begun to suspect that either Alexander was dead or had managed to befriend a warlock capable of blocking him which would have been a feat in and of itself but Alexander was resourceful and if anyone could find someone who could do such a thing, it would have been him.

 He could feel Magnus’ eyes boring into the side of his skull, but he wasn’t going to turn to him. He wasn’t going to look. He wasn’t going to study Magnus’ face as he wanted so badly to or compliment anything about him. Mean and rude was the reaction he should have. This was the man who had hurt him, badly enough that after a dozen years his spite was still there and at the forefront enough that he was able to blurt it all out to him willingly. And also this man was his first love, the truest love he would ever know, and as much as he hated to admit it, he still felt that too.

He was every bit still the stupid kid who wore his heart on his sleeve and craved every ounce of attention that Magnus gave him that he’d never had on a personal level before. There was just a bigger, older body now.

 It was almost surreal to be sitting here with Magnus. Next to Magnus. After so much time Alec had believed that he would be safe here. Lonely. Desperate to see his family; Iz and Jace, and hell, even Clary and all the children they had running around. The next generation of Shadowhunters. With their parent's good looks, brains and even just a touch of their skill he knew they would go far. But Alec knew he couldn’t go home. He couldn’t see them anymore. Magnus wasn’t the reason — the only reason he had left, Magnus was the reason he had decided on Peru. New York wasn’t the ideal place for him to run away, even the US he knew was a bad place for him with a sleuth filled, bloodhound family like he had.

 The temptation to see the people he loved would be too much, too much for him and for them, and he would rather die than see any of them suffer the same fate he had because of him. And he damn sure would never let them leave that life willingly. He knew how much it meant. No, things were painful, he ached for all of them every day, but Alec knew he saved them all a lot of trouble and from a lot of trouble. That had been a waste though. The last twelve years had been a waste. If Izzy or Jace even got wind of Magnus having seen him at all — he would have to pick up and start over again. Providing that Magnus was still in Brooklyn. And that he deigned to speak to lowly Nephilim anymore.

 He needed stronger alcohol.

 After a few seconds, Alec stood on the rungs of his stool and reached over the bar, his long sleeves rising a bit to reveal the thin white scars over his arm where his Angelic rune used to be and grabbed a shot glass and filled another with limes, both of which he slammed on the bar in front of Magnus, silently asking him to pour.

 Magnus couldn’t help the wince that had him flinching back at the sight of Alec’s arm. An arm that once was covered from elbow to wrist in beautifully drawn and orchestrated runes. A few runes of which Magnus himself had applied. To see nothing remaining but thin white scars, it reminded Magnus of all they had been through over the years. He knew that Alec had been stripped of his runes but to see it first hand for himself - he reached for the glasses that had been slammed down in front of him and without hesitation poured himself and Alec a shot, handing Alec a lime as he downed his own shot without a second thought as memories from a time long ago of another Shadowhunter being so cruelly stripped of his runes running through his head.

 “Why is it, Alexander-” he began as he poured another shot, hoping the fiery liquid would be enough to give them both the courage they were going to need to continue this conversation. “That in an exotic country such as Peru, you find the one man named Tom to date? Why not an Alejandro or an Alois or perhaps even an Ernesto? What was so special about Tom ?”

Magnus’ questioning was innocent, at least he intended for it to be. He hadn’t seen his boy in years, finding out about his life now that they were face to face was something he desperately wanted. He could see Catarina starting to rise out of the corner of his eye but he waved her off, downing another shot as he did so. Soon enough she would know who he was talking to but until then he wanted it to be just he and Alexander, something that hadn’t been in years .

 "Tomas,” Alec said smoothly, without missing a beat as he picked up the shot that had been poured for him and downed it with practiced ease that came from the hours he had spent at this very bar drowning his sorrows and becoming something else that he had never intended to be. “His name is Tomas, Tom is his nickname. Usually he’s with me on Friday nights, but he’s out of town on business, so I’m on my own.”

He couldn’t figure out why he had added the last part, except to make the lie a little more plausible, even though he didn’t owe Magnus an explanation, he still wanted him to know — believe — that he was doing well here. That he hadn’t become a high functioning alcoholic who was here so often that his butt cheeks were molded into the leather of the stool, and he was getting funny looks from the bartender who knew the truth.

 “Still in New York, Magnus?”

 Magnus knew that logically drinking like this was probably a bad idea but if there was one thing that Magnus was good at it was making horrible life decisions and what was one more horrible decision added to the pile? With a snap of his fingers and a shower of purple sparks, their glasses refilled, a lime settling on the top of Alexander’s as he pulled his own closer, his finger running idly around the rim as he thought about Alec’s question.

 He couldn’t help the small smile that tugged at his lips, even though at his core every single word Alec spoke was a like a knife cutting right through him. He had found someone, someone to keep him company. Someone to hopefully make him happy and someone who hopefully did all of the things right that Magnus had done wrong where his boy was concerned. It hurt. It hurt more than Magnus could put into words at that moment to hear him speak so openly and easily about a new lover but at the same time it also proved just how much Alec had grown and Magnus couldn’t help but be insanely proud at how far Alexander had come in his life.

 “No,” he said softly as he brought the glass to his lips and tipped the shot back with ease. “I left New York some time ago. It -”

Magnus paused as he stared down into the glass, wondering just how much he should tell Alec about his life and how things had gone. Were they at that point? Was this a conversation where they could share things like that with each other? It had been so long since they had seen each other but one look at Alexander and all Magnus wanted to do was tell him everything. He wanted to spend hours seated next to his boy recounting every single second of the past twelve years and hearing every little thing Alec had to say even if it was just to tell him about sunburns and hot beers but Magnus wasn’t sure if that was something that was going to happen or if it was something that was even possible at all.

 “New York no longer held the most important thing in my life any longer so I left," Magnus continued. "I packed up the Chairman, much to his dismay, and, who howled like he was being murdered the entire time we traveled, and returned to London. The rain and fog and gray suited me much better than New York did.”

 There, he had said it. He had just laid it on the line. Magnus had never really been the cautious type. He had always been a fly by the seat of your pants type of guy so why should now be any different? Alexander was either going to react really well to what he had just said or things were about to get really, really bad.

 For a few seconds Alec was going to ask about London; how he liked it, what he was doing there, was it really that foggy? And ask after the Chairman, whom he had liked so long ago but certainly after all this time couldn’t still be among the living - then again, he was a warlock’s pet. But then the weight of what Magnus had just said really, finally landed on Alec and caused him to snap his mouth shut on the polite questions. He turned to face Magnus, narrowing his eyes at him.

 “What was it that was missing from New York, Magnus? Your magic? Your immortality? Your reputation? Did they take High Warlock of Brooklyn away from you? That’s what mattered to you. That’s all that mattered to you. So if you’re actually going to sit there and imply what it sounds like you’re implying, that it was me or the memory of me that made you leave New York, you’re lying to yourself and you’re completely full of shit. You threw me away like I barely mattered to you, like I was just a way for you to pass the time, and you went on.”

 “I gave up being High Warlock,” he snapped in an icy tone, the bitterness he still felt over that decision rising to the surface quickly. It had been a painful decision for him to make, giving up the title he had worked so hard for for a great portion of his life but he had been left with no choice but to do such a thing. New York held far too many painful memories and everywhere he went, everywhere he looked he saw his Alexander and Magnus couldn’t do it. He didn’t want to do it, so he had stepped down as High Warlock, sealed up his apartment and gone back to London. London held many painful memories for him as well but they were nothing compared to New York and they were old wounds that were easily ignored if Magnus so chose to do such a thing.

 “Goddamnit, Alexander. It had nothing to do with my magic or my immortality. It is you who thinks they both mean the world to me but they do not. It was never about my immortality but more the fact that you went behind my back to someone who hated me with every fiber of her being and thought to take it away from me without even discussing it with me. I was never angry with you, I was hurt that you didn’t even think to consult me. So yes, I am implying precisely what you think I am and you can do with it as you please.”

 Magnus’ tone had turned icy, his shot glass frosting over to reflect his mood as his eyes glittered darkly. This was not how he had wanted their first conversation in a dozen years to go. He had imagined this moment time and time again and never had it ever gone like this. Sometimes there had been yelling, screaming, fighting. Other times they had simply sat and stared at each other silently, never speaking a word and others - well, Magnus didn’t tell anyone about those other times for those were private and strictly his and his alone.

 “Do you truly believe that you meant absolutely nothing to me ever, Alexander?”

 Alec had the good grace to look stunned when Magnus told him that he had given up the post of High Warlock willingly. That was something he knew Magnus had loved and had taken seriously. It was a big deal, and it was something you didn’t just give up, yet Magnus had. His lips even parted to say something, to say he was sorry or -- he didn’t know -- but he didn’t say a word, let them drown in his shot, and the moment just passed him by. There was no reason for him to feel bad. If Magnus’ guilt started to weigh on him in the guise of their failed relationship, it wasn’t his fault. He was probably long gone by then, as per Magnus’ wishes.

 “Are you kidding?” Alec’s head snapped back around as he listened to Magnus go on. He didn’t care about the icy tone or the frosty glass or any anger directed at him. He slid from the stool and stared incredulously. “I was young, Magnus. I was eighteen, and yeah, I know using age and circumstance is a cop out, but it’s true. It’s all I have. I made a mistake, a huge one, even entertaining her, but I couldn’t do it. I went to tell her no, but --  I couldn’t be the one responsible in any way for taking your immortality away. She wanted me to kill Raphael Santiago, your friend if I remember right, and I couldn’t do that and hurt you either.”

Alec started to get a little loud and what he was saying was very clear, Ragnor stood and looked Magnus’ way, only to be dragged back down and whispered to by Catarina.

 “But what about you? You wanted a carbon copy of -- Will, and that’s why you were with me. That’s what Camille said to me. I was desperate to keep you. And I considered it. I hated being something that reminded you -- but you know what? It doesn’t matter. I would have told her no, and you didn’t and wouldn’t hear me out. So don’t get all sappy and use the lack of my presence in New York as the reason that you left it all behind.”

 Alec dug into his wallet and threw a few paper bills on the bar and grabbed the bottle Magnus had ordered and started to storm out of the bar, but he turned back, standing between the table of Magnus’ friends and the bar where Magnus himself was. “Do I believe that I never meant anything to you? No. I don’t. I believe I was just another notch in your belt and that you were very convincing and very bored.”

 And without another word or another look, he turned and stormed out of the front doors toward the safety of his truck.

Chapter Text

For what felt like the longest moment in the world, Magnus sat there in complete silence, staring at the space that Alexander had just been in and wondered if he had imagined everything that had just happened. And then the next moment happened and that was when anger that he hadn't felt in a very long time swelled up inside of him.

 Anger at the current situation, anger at situations long since past and anger at a person who had been dead for too short of a time for causing all of this heartache, grief and unbridled rage to be necessary in the first place.

 Logic told Magnus that letting Alec go was the best option in this situation but Magnus and logic had never really been friends. It was that tenuous friendship with a logic that had him rising from the barstool, spinning on his heels and ignoring the looks he was getting from Ragnor and Catarina as he slammed out of the door after Alec.

 "ALEXANDER” he bellowed as the door slammed behind him. The blast of warm night air to the face after the cool interior of the bar doing little to cool Magnus’ temper as he crossed the parking lot in a few long strides.

 Alec was already reaching in through his window for the door handle to his truck when Magnus came at him across the parking lot, coming to wreak havoc on his world like some sexy tornado. He hadn’t seen the man in over a dozen years and he couldn’t help but think how beautiful he was in his fierceness, and then he remembered the fierceness was directed at him and not some lowly Downworlder or unfortunate Clave member to have gotten in his way. It brought him back down to earth, and he slammed the door open and put his newly acquired bottle on the bench seat.

 “What, Magnus?” Alec turned to face him but didn’t walk away from his truck. “What can either of us possibly say now that matters anymore? Why did you feel the need to chase me out here? Last word?”

 “This has nothing to do with having the last word and everything to do with you being a coward. You do not get to lobby and toss such accusations in my face and then walk away. That isn’t how this is going to work. That is never how this works. You get to be upset yes but you do not get to be an ugly coward.”

 The words came tumbling out before Magnus could even think about them but he didn’t regret them. Before he had been hurt, incredibly so and he had reacted accordingly. Now, now he was just angry and it showed in every taut line of his body. No one had ever been able to affect him like Alec did so it really shouldn’t have surprised him that he was able to bring about such a volatile and sudden reaction with so few words spoken. As much as Magnus wanted to keep his temper in check he couldn’t and the air around him crackled; purple sparks leaping from his fingertips as he moved directly into Alec’s personal space, planting a hand firmly on the door of his truck, the loud echo of it slamming shut ringing in his ears as he moved to prevent Alec from leaving or getting in.  

 “I don’t know how many times this is a conversation that has to be had, Alexander, but it seems that even after a dozen years we are still having the same conversation so let’s have it again. Maybe time will have tempered you some and this time you will actually hear the words that come from my mouth.

 "Camille was a jealous bitch. A horribly jealous and bitter bitch who lived to do nothing more than create chaos and resentment and you? You stood in the way of what she wanted most. She has always hated the fact that I left her, that I walked away and that I found happiness after her. It took me years, decades before I found happiness again but I found it and it wasn’t with William. William had Tessa, James and his children but we were never more than friends. It wasn’t possible for us to be more than friends. You were the barrier that she felt needed to be removed and that is why she told you the things she did.”

 “She filled your head with lies and twisted fairy tales, Alexander. She used William as a weapon because as an eighteen-year-old boy she felt that you could be controlled and easily manipulated and she used that to her advantage. She told you things that you couldn’t possibly know if they were true or not but at your age and in your first relationship you couldn’t help but believe and she fed upon that. You did exactly what she wanted and that is why we are now standing where we are.

 “She used our love against us and it worked spectacularly as far as she is concerned. The only flaw in her plan was that I never loved William. Not like I love you.”

 By the time Magnus finished his chest was heaving, his breath coming out in rapid pants and his cheeks flushed with the anger that still coursed through him. It was several long seconds before the words he had spoken finally caught up with him but by the time they did, it was too late. There was no way to take back what he had said. No way to change the tense of one single word that he had not meant to use but had. Magnus took a step back the moment he realized what he had said but he didn’t make any further movements past that, his gaze remaining fixed on Alexander.

 Whether it was from the closeness of his ex or from the barrage of words Magnus was using to defend himself, Alec would never be sure, but his words hit their mark, every single one of them and drew a reaction from him that he was determined to hide. Magnus didn’t get to see this, after so long of being the author of his misery, Magnus didn’t deserve to see Alec falter, feel ashamed at what he had said, and more shame because he knew that he had be en a coward saying it like he had and running off. He hadn’t intended that, at all, but that’s the way it had happened. There was no changing it, there was no do-over. And, he stood by what he said because screw Magnus. He kissed him and walked away so long ago, literally giving him a kiss-off, so Alec deserved this. But he didn’t deserve to be called a coward for it.

 He listened silently as Magnus spit words at him, remained stoic and unmoving, letting Magnus have his say as Alec gathered precisely the right words in his arsenal to rebut him, things he had never thought he would ever get to say to this man at all that had been a decade in the making, things he never really wanted to say, but Magnus, all righteous anger and purple sparks, acting like he was the victim here, was asking for it. He couldn’t tuck tail and run like he wanted to as he had no real chance of doing seeing as how he was being blocked from getting into his truck by a freaking Warlock’s arm.

 It was now or never, and he shrugged. Magnus wasn’t going to win this one.

 “Maybe you think it’s cowardly to not want to talk to you anymore, but I don’t, I said my piece, I said what I believe and what I know to be true. Think of it as me being a coward, but what was cowardly, Magnus, was what you did. You walked away, you left me standing there crying for you. You didn’t ever answer your phone or any of your messages from me. You could have said all of that to me when we were both still in New York, you could have talked to me. You could have sent an envoy in your place. You could have sent me an email and told me to leave you alone, that whatever I was doing was hopeless, you didn’t want to give me a chance to explain my position to you badly. But I’m not a coward. I didn’t turn my back and avoid you. I didn’t slink away from us. What happened in there is the me that knows your lies and your lines of seduction, and I don’t want to be sucked back into that. Doesn’t make me a coward. This,” Alec rolled up his sleeves and showed the scars that peppered his arms where his runes used to be. “Was me not being a coward and standing up for a relationship that I wasn’t even in anymore, that took my entire life away. No regrets and I live with the consequences every day.”

 The sight of the empty skin, now riddled with silver scars instead of flawlessly drawn runes had Magnus flinching back, memories ambushing him as he did. In the bar, he had only seen a piece of what was missing. He had known that Alec had lost his runes but seeing it? Actually seeing it was something else entirely.

 Alec’s tone softened a bit when he saw Magnus wince when he showed him his arms, and he realized that was something he shouldn’t have done. He shouldn’t have brought Magnus into that or back to that -- but there were pieces of him that had wanted him to know. To see his sacrifice.

Magnus stared at Alec’s arms for a few moments, even after the sleeves covered them again and Alec tried to leave. But he wasn’t having it, not today. He was seething, enraged at what Alec said, his anger rooting itself even deeper inside of him as his arm shot forward to block Alec from his truck again They were finishing this. Right now, they were going to finish it. 

He thought he had set all of this aside, that he had come to terms with his feelings long ago but the sight of Alec, seeing him sitting at the bar and now to see him standing in front of him spitting words at him showed him just how foolish he had been to think that after all this time he had made peace with his own inner turmoil. How could such a thing be possible where Alexander Lightwood was concerned? He hadn’t just been another pretty face or another warm body in his bed. Alec had been his one. The one he had been looking for his entire life. He had come stumbling into his apartment all long arms and legs and brilliant blue eyes and Magnus had been sunk right then and there.

 It was that reason that Magnus had felt so betrayed when he had seen Alec with Camille and even more so when he had heard what they had been discussing. It was like someone had stabbed him right in the gut and ripped out everything he had held dear and precious to him. He would have sacrificed anything and everything for Alec if he had only asked. If he had only come to him and talked to him. Instead, he had gone to the one person who had hated him more than anyone else and it had hurt. It hurt more than Magnus could ever have words for.

 “Oh so now you want to talk? Where was that desire to talk when you went behind my back to the ONE person in this entire world who hated me and would have done absolutely anything to see my world destroyed? The one person who succeeded in doing that because you went to her and believed her rather than coming to me and talking to me. I thought things were different with you. I thought we had that kind of relationship, that we were close enough to be able to talk about anything and everything but I saw you standing there and heard what you were saying-”

 By the time Magnus finished the anger had left his voice and all that was left was an empty hollowness, a feeling he was more than familiar with where Alexander and his feelings for Alexander were concerned.

 “I wanted to talk then, you ass, but you wouldn’t talk back to me. You clammed up and changed the subject. You told me ‘past is past’ and those things are none of my business. When she said she knew you, about you, I had to go to Camille. I know it was wrong, but I had to know why you wouldn’t tell me anything. And you know what? Camille had a pretty good story, she gave me a really good reason. I thought the same thing you did, that we were close enough, but obviously, it was one-sided. You get to know all about me, but I know nothing about you.”

 Alec was pissed and he was yelling, drawing eyes from the bar patrons who were walking a little too quickly to get inside of the bar. Maybe it was him looking all smelly and rumpled and yelling, or maybe it was the Warlock with the purple sparks dripping from his fingers. He wasn’t intimidated by the show of Magnus’ anger, it was better than the last conversation they’d had. It was better than the kiss and the breathtaking light their combined essences caused the witchlight to light with.

 “I -- it took me a long time to figure it out, but you see, I did. Camille and what happened there was your easy out. I fought an entire war, Magnus, and then there was a month-long trial and a date set that they took my runes. I didn’t hear from you, not once. And I’m almost pretty sure that I heard that you hosted a dinner party the night I lost my runes. I knew by then that you didn’t even remember my name. So the coward wasn’t me, Magnus. Not even just now. It’s always been you.”

 “Whoever told you that lied to you. The night that you were deruned-” Magnus stopped talking as soon as he had started, not willing to share that piece of information with him. He hadn’t told anyone about that night, not even Catarina and Ragnor and god knows they had been more than persistent where it was concerned.

 He did notice Magnus’ hesitation and then his abrupt halt when he started to tell him something, which kind of proved Alec’s point. 

 “See?” he said softly. “Always keeping things from me, Magnus. I don’t want to know what you were going to say, or what you did. It’s -- it doesn’t mean anything anymore. None of it means anything anymore. You should go back inside, have a beer with your friends and forget that you ever saw me.”

 “Then walk away, Alexander. Get in your truck and drive away if you so wish.” Magnus leaned in as he spoke, pressing up against Alexander from shoulder to hip as he did so. “What’s keeping you here? Surely it’s not me, after all, neither one of us could possibly care about the other so why are you still here? Go, if you want to go. Go home and I’ll return to my beer and my friends and we’ll just blindly pretend like none of this ever happened. Like we never happened. Like we never meant anything to anyone, most certainly not each other.”

 Alec reached for him when Magnus pressed against him, resting his palm on Magnus’ hip and looking slightly up to really meet his eyes.  He laid his other palm across his heart and let it rest there for a few seconds.

 He knew he shouldn’t have done that. He needed to leave before he lost it. His pain that he’d held on to for so long was something else that Magnus didn’t deserve to see. Just a second longer...

He had to go.

He had to go.

 “Your arm was in my way,” Alec swallowed and pushed Magnus away from him. “Enjoy your beer.”

 And he got in his truck, started it and peeled out of the parking lot, leaving dust billowing behind him in his wake.

Magnus watched the truck speed away, the dust settling around him even though his heart felt like it was going to beat right out of his chest. The place where Alec had touched him felt like it was on fire and without even thinking about it he brought a hand up and rested it over the spot he touched as though he could still feel Alexander. Every single nerve in his body felt like it was on fire and he knew it was going to be a long time before he settled down again. Spinning on his heels he ignored the looks he was receiving from the patrons as he marched back into the bar.

 This place was no longer somewhere he wished to be.

Chapter Text

That he had nearly driven through his front porch, stopping just scant inches from actually hitting the thing didn’t deter Alec from his mission. It was insane, he knew it, to feel like this about someone you haven’t seen in years and years but everything he’d ever dreamed of having was standing back in the parking lot of that bar, and fuck if it didn’t hurt that he’d driven away from that. If he stopped moving now, took a few seconds to think about it, he’d go back to that bar - a place he could never go to again, by the way - and find Magnus. Kiss him stupid. Tell him he only half meant what he’d said. That he’d pined and ached for him and screamed his memories away for a decade and none of it had worked. This wasn’t the reunion he had seen in his mind. It wasn’t the friendly glances, the soft smiles that his dreams had provided. It was real, too real, and he wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it now that it was done.

As soon as he unlocked his door, Alec was jogging in, running over to his couch where his laptop sat on the coffee table. He really only used it to make the calls to Jace and Izzy at Christmas and to read the free self-help books on the internet, and even after all these years he still fumbled with it, somehow not connecting to the line as he called the first three times.

He needed to calm down.

He took a breath, and then another, and another, stood and slowly walked over to his refrigerator, grabbing a cold beer chaser to have with his warm tequila, and sat to dial - more calmly and slower this time, or so he believed - his sister.

She’d be more understanding than Jace. Right?

Izzy swore loudly as she stepped on another lego, cursing as she bent over to pick it up. She had wanted their children to have traditional toys - short swords, long swords, crossbows, etc. - but Simon had insisted on these stupid Mundane toys. Toys that her children often left lying around and she found at the most inopportune times, like when she was barefoot and heading towards the kitchen for a drink. Still swearing, she tossed the plastic block into a nearby storage container and went on towards the kitchen, the light from the refrigerator causing her to flinch back as she reached in for a bottle of water.

Nights in New York, especially early summer nights, were miserable and being pregnant didn’t make them any easier to bear. The water helped, but what would really help the most would be if this kid finally decided to make its appearance. Izzy enjoyed being pregnant but it felt like this was one was taking an especially long time to finish and she was about at her wit's end. She could no longer see her feet, she could no longer tie her own shoes and Max, her youngest, had taken to waddling around behind her, claiming that they were imitating the penguins they had seen at the zoo last month. Simon had made the mistake of laughing and was now banished to the couch.

Pausing in the doorway that led to the living room she took a moment to glance in on him, making sure he was resting comfortably in his banishment before returning to their room, groaning as she sank back down onto their bed.

Izzy tossed and turned, trying to find a place or a position that was comfortable to her - or even relatively comfortable enough to get a few hours of shut-eye tonight when the phone on her bedside table rang. It took everything in her not to groan heavily and huff as she rolled over and picked up the phone, scowling as the clock read two in the morning. She swore to the angel that if Jace was calling again to whine about how his kid had stabbed him again she was going to scream. Especially with it being two in the morning. Flipping over her phone, she immediately sat up - well sat up as fast as her pregnant stomach would allow her - and pushed the answer button. It was the middle of June. Alec never called unless it was Christmas and the angel knew that Izzy had spent many conversations trying to get him to call sooner or calling him herself only to have her calls go unanswered

Alec’s calmness was only in his head, however, as Izzy’s face appeared on the screen it was greeted by a frazzled-looking Alec holding a beer in one hand and tipping back the bottle of tequila with the other.

He hadn’t even realized she’d answered yet.

“Alec?” The panic in her voice was clear, especially after the call connected and the first sight of her brother was him with a bottle of tequila in one hand and a beer in the other. Of course she had seen Alec drink before. She was fairly certain that he was more than just a casual drinker and she had tried to bring it up several times during their conversations but she had been shot down every time. Seeing him like this was more than a bit alarming.

“Alec!” After the second attempt at getting his attention failed she huffed and settled back against the headboard, resting the phone as she took a deep breath before speaking again.

“ALEXANDER GIDEON LIGHTWOOD, PUT DOWN THE DAMN BEER RIGHT THIS SECOND AND ANSWER ME.”

Alec’s eyes widened at the sound of his full name and Izzy’s voice and they flew to the screen where she was yelling at him. He lowered his head and the bottle, holding one finger up at her to indicate ‘just a sec’ as he drained the beer he was holding to rid his mouth of the sharp tequila tang. Izzy’s eyes narrowed as he held up a finger as though to shush her and finished drinking his beer. ‘Really?' she thought to herself. ‘He calls me at two in the morning, in the middle of friggin June so I can watch him drink? I don’t think so.'

When he was finally done, he stared at her without saying anything, face reddened slightly from all his rushing and the alcohol consumption, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water.

“He’s here. I came all the way here so I wouldn’t have to deal with that and he’s here. He’s frickin’ here. What do I do? Should I move? I can’t go to the bar anymore,” His face was suddenly closer to the screen and all of his words were spoken fast, like a chant, and run on. “That’s ruined now. It’s the only place I go. Where am I supposed to go now? Should I move?”

The look on her face clearly said she wasn’t amused but as he started talking, his words slurred and rushed, she frowned as she listened to him, her brow creasing every time he asked if he should move. 'Move where?’, she wondered.

Alec had been gone a dozen years and for three of those years they had had no contact from him. For all Izzy had known, he had died and it had destroyed her. Then, one day, out of the blue, her phone rang and it was Alec on the other end. To say that she had ugly cried was an understatement. She and Jace both had tried to pry his location out of him, some sort of clue as to where he was but he had been incredibly tight-lipped and if they pushed too far he just hung up and refused to talk to them again until he was ready and called.

“Alec,” she said softly as she lifted the phone so she could see better and put a pillow behind her back before settling the phone back on her stomach again. “What are you talking about? Who is where? Slow down and start at the beginning ok? Because I am completely lost here and I can’t help if I don’t have all of the details.”

It had never been easy for Alec to open up, not completely, to anyone. At the end of his time in New York though, he had started talking, mainly to Izzy and Magnus, sometimes to Jace, and he learned that talking about your feelings really did help. Getting it out really did make you feel better. He wasn’t totally out of his shell back then, but he was getting there. This though, everything he had kept inside for so long, everything he had drunk away or had tried valiantly to, flooded his system at once and he wasn’t sure how to handle it or what he was supposed to do with it. Seeing Magnus had sent him spinning, and he wasn’t sure that he could stop himself or if he would ever stop.

But he did relax this time. A little. And breathe. “Magnus,” he swallowed hard, pausing for a beat. “He’s here. Where I am. And he - he - we talked,” he paused again, this time giving in to temptation and taking a drink from the bottle. “I’m not sure talked is the right word for it… we - argued. Kind of. What is he - why is he here? He said he isn’t in Brooklyn anymore, Iz. Did you know that?”

“Oh,” She was not expecting Alec to say that he had seen Magnus of all people. Magnus was a topic that they avoided and heavily. In the beginning, Izzy had tried to talk to him about it, tried to get him to open up about things and had tried to tell him the things she knew about Magnus but if there was one thing that shut Alec down completely and totally it was talk of Magnus. Unless he brought it up it was a no-go subject. That he was calling this late and was as frazzled as he was, it had gotten to him, majorly and it killed Izzy that she couldn’t just reach out and hug him and comfort him that way. Instead, she was going to have to try and find the right words to comfort him.

Alec thought that the ‘oh’ had practically screamed her disinterest in the subject, and why should she be interested? He and Magnus were a long-dead topic and one that had been beaten into the ground long before he had left them. He knew they had to be tired of hearing it, and now it was very likely something that none of them had ever considered again after he was gone. It wasn’t like he called her that often, once a year during the holiday that Clary and Simon insisted was for talking to family, so why bother calling now? He glanced at the time on his laptop and realized for the first time how late it was and taking in her state and her eyes and he guessed that she had probably been sleeping when he called.

“I don’t know. I wish I did cause some part of me thinks that it would help you in some way but when I asked about it Magnus shut down much in the same way that you do and then he was gone and we never saw him again. Even when his presence was required for Accord meetings or council meetings he never came. He always sent an envoy in his stead. Much like you, he left New York and never looked back. You two are so alike in some ways that it’s scary. But, where I can live without seeing Magnus and I can go for years at a time without wondering how he is or where he is, I can’t do that with you. I worry about you constantly and knowing that Magnus is wherever you are? I’m gonna worry more now than I did before.”

“Of course you argued, Alec. Neither one of you has really dealt with what happened between you. You are two of the most stubborn people I have ever met, especially where the other is concerned..” Izzy sighed softly once more as she leaned over, the phone sliding off of her stomach as she reached for the bottle of water she had gotten earlier, giving Alec a perfect view of just how pregnant she was. Picking the phone up she set it back on her stomach and took a long drink before speaking once more.

“I don’t know why he’s there, I don’t even know where there is so I can’t answer that but yeah, I knew he left New York. He actually showed up here to tell Simon and me that he was going. I already suspected it since we had been informed at the Institute that there was a new High Warlock but I had hoped that I was wrong. I think he was looking for some sort of closure when he came by but I couldn’t give him what he wanted. None of us could ever give him that," she paused. "I’m curious though, what did you argue about?"

 Izzy ran a hand through her hair as she tried to resist sighing in frustration. Magnus was a double edged sword when it came to Alec and Izzy wasn’t sure what she was and was not suppose to tell him and when

“You know, it's not important. It’s a Friday night, I’m a little drunk, maybe - I probably blew everything out of proportion. It was pretty loud where we were so it was probably nothing. I can’t even remember what it was that made me call like it was a life or death emergency.”

He smiled at her. “Yeah, I’m totally drunk. Sorry I -,” He looked at her as the phone slid off of her and took in her pregnant belly. Yeah, totally a bad idea. Like she didn’t have other things to worry about. Especially now.

“Alexander Lightwood, don’t you EVER apologize for calling me for any reason, especially not this reason. You’re my brother and I miss you like crazy. The fact that you actually reached out to me for this? I don’t care if you were in the middle of a battle and Magnus just happened to appear and you argued. I want to hear about it. Never apologize for calling me for any reason. I’m your sister and that’s what I’m here for.”

“Alright, so no apologies. I’m fine,” he sounded anything but fine. His voice was trembling and he was still shaking with unspent energy that threatened right there at the surface to have him pacing on camera. “I was caught off guard. I never thought I’d see Magnus again, and here he was. It was just a moment of panic, calling you like that. Magnus and I just had words and we parted ways. That’s all.”

“But more importantly, you’re um… you’re going to have a baby, Iz? How far along are you? You look pretty - along.”

She couldn’t help but smile as she glanced down at her stomach, a hand coming up to rest on it for a moment. “I am, yeah. We’ve got about a month to go now and then we get to fight over names for this one. We can talk about your newest niece or nephew more later. Right now we’re gonna talk about you and this miraculous meeting between you and Magnus. How the hell did you two even cross paths? He moved to London and is the High Warlock there. Are you in London? I swear to the angel, Alec, that if you’ve been in London this entire time and refused to tell Jace and I because it’s London, I will waddle my ass into a portal, come find you in London and smack you myself for being so close and refusing to tell us.”

His eyes slipped closed and he scrubbed his hand across his face. Tonight had turned out so badly. All he had wanted to do was go to the bar he had been frequenting for more than a decade on the weekends, drink himself into a stupor, and then call his neighbor who would be expecting the call, to pick him up and drive him home. The whole thing with Magnus - no, thing was lessening the importance of what happened to him - the confrontation with Magnus hadn’t been expected at all. He was far too sober to have imagined it but far too drunk to handle it well.

And to top everything off he had called Izzy. Not that talking to his sister was a bad thing, but bothering her with this was. Bothering a visibly heavily pregnant her with this at this time of night was.

He finally sat up, remembering himself and the fact that he never showed any details about his house, and adjusted things so that the webcam was focused more on his face.

“I’m not in London. But if you want to get technical, the distance between New York and London and New York and where I am are about the same, and the distance Magnus and I were from each other was about those two distances combined. Huh.

“And there wasn’t a miraculous meeting between Magnus and me, it was crap, really, and went about as badly as you can expect it to go. He just came to the bar I hang out at on the weekends. He wasn’t looking for me, it just - happened. We argued about the same issue that broke us up because he pissed me off saying that I was the reason that he left Brooklyn, and I was the reason that his life was so dark and gray. Like he doesn’t remember dumping me or consciously not answering my calls and avoiding any sight of me back then. Like I was the one that caused it all and didn’t want to talk or at least get some real closure from him. Like he was the only injured party. But that was it. Nothing major. I’d rather hear about the new baby and other things going on in your life because this is your holiday call. I wasted it in June.”

“We can talk about the baby in a little while. It’s not going to go anywhere and I can promise you that I will still be pregnant after we talk more about you and Magnus because you can pretend all you want that you’re alright, but I can clearly see that you aren’t and I’m not going to leave you alone like that.”

“And you aren’t fine, Alec. You’re far from fine but you know what? That’s ok. If you were actually ok I’d be horribly worried. Magnus -” Izzy paused for a moment, chewing on her lower lip as she tried to figure out how best to phrase what was tumbling around inside of her head before continuing. “Magnus is always going to be difficult for you. Whether it was now or fifty years from now it would be difficult. He was your first and because of that any meeting with him be it planned, unplanned or completely unexpected is going to be difficult and it’s gonna hurt. If it didn’t-”

She tilted her head to the side, his words about where he was tossing about inside of her mind. Alec had never given them any sort of hint about where he was. He had always been so tight-lipped and if they pushed too hard about his location like she and Jace had in the beginning when he first started calling he simply hung up and ignored both of them until he was ready to call again. It had been the most frustrating thing and Izzy had been left in frustrated tears on several different occasions but eventually, she had stopped asking and had stopped pushing. For Alec to willingly volunteer that information spoke volumes to Izzy about just how upset he really was.

“Your first is always the hardest Alec and honestly? I don’t think you ever get over them. No matter how much time passes and you finally get to see them again? It’s always painful and in your situation? It doesn’t surprise me that you and Magnus argued. Both of you felt so strongly and so deeply and nothing was ever really resolved. Closure was never had.”

Izzy paused again, grumbling softly to herself as she shifted around, struggling to find a comfortable position before she continued.

“I don’t think you were the sole reason he left New York but then again I could be wrong. He didn’t really say much to us when he came by to say that he was leaving even though Jace threatened him in the most colorful ways. You would have been proud. Actually, you probably would have rolled your eyes at Jace and huffed in that way that you usually did when Jace did something you had to appear like you didn’t approve of but secretly, deep down, you fully approved of and supported.”

It hurt, talking about Alec and Jace together because Alec and Jace together meant memories of the three of them together and those memories always led to Izzy crying. Twelve years had passed but if you wanted to see her cry in an instant? Mention Alec to her. She missed him, horribly, and it killed her that he refused to come home and refused to let them come and see him because even though the Clave had done the most horrendous thing possible to Alec, he still insisted on following the rules - to a certain degree - so as to protect she and Jace. The thought alone was enough to bring a sad smile to her face.

“You should have told me he left New York and that he saw you before he left, Isabelle. Maybe I would have had some fair warning that he was on the prowl and loose in the world. Or maybe not. I don’t know anymore.”

“There wasn’t any point in telling you, Alec. You had left and made it abundantly clear that you weren’t coming back. When Magnus said that he was going to London I didn’t think you were there so I didn’t see the need to tell you. As for him coming by-” Izzy paused for a moment as a silent huff left her. This was dangerous ground to tread into and onto but she was going to do it anyhow. He had called her for a reason and if he hung up on her, so be it. “I think his coming by was a last-ditch effort for him. To try and find you or see if we knew where you were despite the fact that I told him I didn’t know and Jace threatened his balls again. He looked dejected when he left and after that, we didn’t see him again.

“He went to London to take over the High Warlock position there. I wouldn’t really call that his being loose in the world.”

“Turns out, there was a point to telling me, wasn’t there? But… it doesn’t matter anymore. What happened happened. It didn’t happen - it wasn’t a nice reunion in the end, but it’s over. It happened and it’s over, and now Magnus Bane is out of my life for good,” he paused, looking off to the side while he considered her words, swallowing past the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat as he spoke. “I wonder what he wanted to find me for. When he left New York, what he would have said to me if you had been able to put us in touch. I kind of - wish I’d known he was still looking for me then, before today happened. Maybe I would have called him. But probably not. It doesn’t matter.

“I planned never to see Magnus again. Ever. That’s why I chose where I am when I had to leave the city anyway; far enough away from you and Jace so you’d be safe and far from Magnus forever so that I wouldn’t be tempted to call him and let him have my ache. I came here and moved past him. Anyway, I saw him and I realized that I did move past him. Whatever that was that just happened between us was a shit show, and I’m glad it’s over. My first, the last, the end.”

And tomorrow he’ll be drowned in the bottom of this tequila bottle and Alec won’t think of how much the golden liquid reminds him of the gold in Magnus’ eyes.

“That is something that Jace and I both are never going to agree with you on. We’d rather you be here, with us. Clave and their rules be damned. But, I don’t want to have that argument with you right now and I’m not trying to start it so don’t hang up because I will be annoying and call you endlessly until you answer if you do such a thing.”

In the beginning, she had done just that. When Alec would just randomly hang up on she and Jace, Jace would storm off, that familiar storm cloud following along behind him but Izzy would continuously redial Alec until finally she got annoyed with him ignoring her and she would stop. The first time he called back she had been stubborn and refused to answer the phone but that had been the first, last and only time she had done such a thing because it had been a year before she heard from him again and having to wait that long to talk to her brother drove her mad.

“Alec, it’s okay if you haven’t moved on. I’m not going to judge you and neither will Jace. I remember what it was like when you and Magnus split and if this is the first time in twelve years that you’ve seen him? Volatile reactions are completely expected and totally understandable. Was he alone when you saw him or were there others with him?”

“I dunno. I think Catarina was with him, at least it looked like her,” he shrugged. “ And I’m not really sure why you’re trying to make me say that I haven’t moved on. Yeah, that was twelve years ago. I’m twelve years older, really almost thirteen since we broke up, but who’s counting. I’ve spent twelve years in a foreign country and I have a host of new experiences that I’ve lived. A big, beautiful sandy beach is my front yard. I sleep in a hammock on my front porch when it rains because the world smells so clean then and it brings me peace. I don’t know what kind of life you think I live here, but - not a horrible one. I miss the hell out of you guys, every single day I think about you and Jace - and sometimes even Simon and Clary - but I haven’t thought about Magnus like that in a long time. Seeing him was a surprise. A huge one, and it made me mad, but I’ll live.”

Maybe.

Of course, eighty-six percent of that was lies. He was older, that was definite. The beach and the hammock were partially true. He usually used the hammock when he couldn’t make it up the stairs to his front door after a bender, but the sounds of the ocean were what made him choose not to have a radio or television to dole away the hours with. He enjoyed relaxing or reading with the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore, but if he were honest, those were two things he hadn’t done in a while. Relaxation came from the liquid in a whiskey bottle, and real sleep never came. Reading was a distant memory, aside from the few books that he had been trying to read for years on his Kindle app. He didn’t want Izzy thinking things like that about him, that his life was lived in misery and that he was a high functioning drunk.

Was that really how he came across to them?

“I’m not trying to make you admit that you haven’t moved on. I can see that in every single line of your body. I’m just trying to help. I’m trying to help as best I can in the situation we find ourselves in. And I wasn’t thinking you had a horrible life in the least. I think you have a lonely one. I’m not there, Jace isn’t there. No one you knew is anywhere near you and I know you, Alec. You close yourself off when you’re in pain and the end with Magnus? That was more pain than I had ever seen you in. So yeah, while there are some good aspects to the life you have now because I know you and you would have done your best to make the best of your situation, I believe that there is only so much that you could do and beyond that, you’re just making it through as best you can.

“And I fear that this? Seeing Magnus, no matter how mad you might be, is going to shake you. You’ll put on a good show for the duration of this conversation but as soon as it’s over you’ll go drown yourself in whatever way you choose to handle your pain and I can’t stand that thought. I hate that you’re alone while trying to deal with this and process what just happened and what just took place for and to you.”

Alec didn’t comment on what she’d said about Jace, because Jace was always threatening somebody, wasn’t he? That was just Jace, and he loved his brother more than he could ever put into words. Stuff like that reminded him of things that would never be again, and believe it or not, those memories, the memories of them, all of them, hurt Alec more than he could even put into words. And if it hurt it was something he never talked about or let himself think about. Life was much, much more simple when he didn’t think about his past or his siblings at all.

The bottle was sitting on the coffee table, just beyond the sights of the webcam, and his fingers were itching so badly to pick it up and find out if he could drain almost half of a fifth in one go.

“I’m done talking about it, Iz. Really. I mean, there’s really nothing else. He was handsome and familiar, he wears his hair differently but dresses as stylishly as ever, and we had a yelling match that went from the bar to the parking lot,” Alec smirked, maybe darkly. “And I left him standing in a cloud of dust when I drove away. If I had just come in and waited five minutes and calmed down, you’d still be sleeping.”

Now that was a sight that Izzy would pay to have seen. Alec speeding away in a spray of gravel and dust because honestly, there had to be a spray of gravel in order to really complete the scene and she could only imagine Magnus’ reaction when the dust settled on whatever obnoxiously bright and sparkly outfit he had chosen to wear because time may have passed but it was still Magnus and Izzy doubted that he had changed that much.

“What’re you going to do if he’s there to stay, Alec? Wherever you are, what if Magnus has decided that that is where he wants to be now as well? And please, I haven’t slept since I hit five months. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get comfortable enough to sleep when you’ve swallowed a miniature whale? I love that you called, even if it is the middle of the night. I miss talking to you.”

“If Magnus decides to stay here? He was banned from here until - tonight as far as I know, so I’d have to find out what brought about his being allowed to return here, and what he did to get banned in the first place. As for what I would do… I own this place. I built in, these are my blood sweat and tears holding my house together. I’d stay. High Warlock of London has to go back to London,” he chuckled at her, lowering his screen a bit so she couldn’t see above his nose. “I miss talking to you too. I hate waking you up, but I miss talking. I miss you.”

Alec drew his lips into a thin line when Izzy sounded like she was going to start in on his leaving New York and very likely never see them again. She hadn’t talked that talk in a while, and though he’d stupidly brought it up somewhat, he thought ideas like that were shelved and in the past. It was clear that they weren’t, but his relief showed when she turned the subject around and talked about something else. Something else that he was pretty sure he didn’t want to talk about anymore though that too he started. At least this wasn’t something that would have him hanging up and not calling again for a while.

“I moved on, Izzy, I didn’t have a choice but to move on. Maybe I haven’t gotten over it, but not thinking about it helps. Ignoring it, not being around it, and yeah, drinking it away when it wants to come up helps. I didn’t ask for any of this, it just happened and I deal with it the best way I know how. And alone, by circumstance and by choice, I make it through every day and I have for years. I’ll do it again this time.”

Alec just wished he could get drunk and go sleep tonight off. As much as he loved talking to Izzy when it wasn’t about Magnus or his personal problems, he regretted making this phone call. He was just coming down from the adrenaline rush caused by a fight with a stupidly pretty ex and he had a blend of alcohol in his system. He was flighty and he wasn’t thinking of the consequences for his actions. He had already disturbed Izzy, a very pregnant Izzy, and he really thought it would be safer for everyone and their sleep if he just finished this bottle and went to bed. Tomorrow might bring something new. A new bar to hang out in at least, for sure.

She smiled softly at his words. Izzy hoped with every single fiber of her being that what he said was true. That maybe, just maybe, he would make it through this ok and she wouldn’t have to worry but logically she knew that that wasn’t going to happen. He’d just given away not one but two clues as to where he was and in twelve years he had never once said so much as even a syllable as to where he was and seeing him like this? All she wanted to do was reach out and hug him. Unfortunately, she couldn’t do such a thing. All she could do was try and reassure him as best she could with her words and hope that it helped him in some small way.

“Hold onto that feeling, Alec cause I feel that you’re going to need it in the coming days. I hope for your sake that this is just a fluke, a one-off and that the life you have built for yourself goes back to what you are used to and what you want it to be but if it doesn’t? Don’t wait so long between phone calls. We’re adults now, Alec. You can call at times other than Christmas. No one is going to think differently if you do and I definitely want you to. I don’t care if you always call in the middle of the night, just call.”

“Everything’s going to be fine, Iz. We just need to take a breath and step back. Sleep. And tomorrow everything will be different. I’ll be okay, so stop worrying, don’t worry. And I’ll call again in a couple of days and we can talk about this more calmly and about the new baby because I absolutely want to hear about all of your aches and pains. And maybe my niece and nephew will be awake enough to get on camera and talk to me then too,” he paused. “Maybe - I dunno, maybe the call can be a weekly thing. Bi-weekly thing. I don’t want you getting tired of me if I call too much. So kiss everyone for me in the morning and I’ll -,” Alec was interrupted by a sudden sharp knock at his door. Jesus Christ. He looked back at Izzy and put his face in his palm and shook his head. Please don’t let it be Magnus. Please, please please don’t be Magnus.

Please be Magnus.

“Alright, I gotta run, Izzy," he said, not giving her a chance to say anything. "Don’t forget, kisses and Uncle Alec hugs from me.”

Chapter Text

The events since the bar were pretty much a blur for Magnus. He remembered storming back into the bar, tossing down a handful of money on the bartop and after that, it was a blur. At some point, he had returned home with Catarina and Ragnor but he had immediately headed for his room, the echo of his door slamming saying everything that needed to be said about his mood and his desire to talk. It wasn’t fair to his friends to be subjected to the brooding storm that was rapidly approaching but Magnus couldn’t help it. He had seen Alexander. He had spoken to him. Many of those words had been said in hasty anger but they had spoken. After twelve years they had finally spoken.

Certain aspects of their argument stood out starkly in his mind while others had blended into the background. How Alec had looked standing there in the night, pressed against the truck, anger radiating from him and all Magnus could think when he thought back on it was how gorgeous his Alexander had looked. Magnus had always thought Alec to be an avenging angel, especially with his piercing blue eyes and incredibly handsome dark looks but it was amplified whenever he was angry and it didn’t even bother Magnus that the anger had been directed at him. Alexander was alive and well and he had seen him.

Yes, he was obsessing but deep down Magnus had somehow convinced himself that Alexander was gone. Not just in the sense that he had left New York and without a word to anyone but that he was truly gone. It was somehow easier to deal with the aftermath if he convinced himself that the possibility and chance of ever seeing him again didn’t exist, even if the dreams that plagued him late at night when he slept said differently.

Magnus had dreamt of their first meeting again after all this time a thousand different times but never once had it ever gone as it had or consisted of the angry and hateful words that it had. There had been soft touches, kisses, words spoken that hadn’t been uttered aloud in years and there had been tears cause even now when Magnus thought of Alec, when he thought of how he had aged, how he had looked perched at the bar or how he had looked as he had stormed through the bar, it caused him to choke up. Alec would never not be beautiful and Magnus knew that no matter what was said between them that he would never not love him.

And he had been foolish enough to say such a thing to Alec. Luckily he hadn’t said anything about it cause how Magnus was going to explain that he didn’t know. All he had known, as the echo of the door slamming behind him dimmed was that he needed a drink. One led to two and two to four and before he knew it the sun was coming up again and half of his bar was gone. The more he drank though the further he sunk and he knew that he needed to break out of whatever this funk was - but how? How did you move past something like this?

Catarina and Ragnor both had tried to reach out to him, the knob of his bedroom door jingling several times but Magnus had ignored them, instead choosing to drown himself further in whatever liquor remained in his room. He recalled seeing himself in the mirror in passing, his clothes now incredibly rumpled and wrinkled as he hadn’t bothered to change and the makeup from that night all but wiped away, though a few stubborn pieces of glitter still clung to him in various spaces. He simply shrugged as he brought the glass of amber liquid to his lips once more and swallowed deeply.

This trip was supposed to have been about the three of them - he, Catarina and Ragnor - and a friendship that had lasted far longer than any of them had ever thought it would. That had been tossed to the side with a single look at a blue-eyed beauty who had been the undoing of Magnus that first time he had seen him and who had been the undoing of him once more after a decade.

A heavy sigh escaped from him as he sank down into one of the chairs that littered the balcony of his room, his stockinged feet coming up to rest on the railing as he tipped his head back and his eyes closed - his subconscious flashing the sight of Alec speeding away from him once more against the darkness of his eyelids. At this point, he really should have just gone home. It wouldn’t have surprised him in the least if Ragnor and Catarina had, seeing as how he hadn’t heard an attempt from either of them to try and get through to him but how could he just leave? Everything he wanted, everything he was always going to want no matter how many lovers paraded in and out of his bed, was right there within his grasp, within his reach. How could he possibly just turn away from all of that again?

I can’t. The thought was a startling one but deep down Magnus knew that it was true. He might have done his damnedest to convince himself that Alec was dead in order to try and deal with all of the pain but he hadn’t done a very good job of it and now that he had been face to face with reality? He knew that there was no leaving. At least not until he spoke to him again and this time really spoke to him. Yes, Magnus had a problem with controlling his emotions, especially where Alexander was concerned but he needed to try.

Actually, the first thing he needed to do was sober up. He had no idea where Alec actually was. Where he lived or what he did with his time in Peru and in order to find out he needed to be sober. His magic had always obeyed his will and his wants but in the drunken state that he currently was trying anything would be dangerous not only for him but for Alexander and for Catarina and Ragnor as well if they were still nearby. He would never be able to forgive himself if he harmed any of them in any sort of way, especially if it was because he had made a drunken, magical mistake.

“It can wait a little while longer,” he muttered darkly to himself as he raised his head long enough to take another deep drink from his glass before sinking once more into the images of his avenging angel storming away from him again. It was a small comfort, watching Alec storm away from him for it meant he had seen him but indulging in it again and again and again as he was, was only going to make things worse and yet he remained seated, feet haphazardly up on the railing and the sun relentlessly beating down upon him.

Hours had passed between the incident at the bar and now - whatever now was. Magnus getting drunker and drunker as the minutes passed them by was a given, but what was he doing while he drank? Crying into his liquor didn’t seem like him, the smashing of glass and the destruction of walls that Ragnor and Catarina had heard earlier sounded more on par with their friend, but now everything was quiet. Too quiet. That was troubling, but there was the off chance that he had fallen asleep, but that didn’t seem like very Magnus-like behavior either. Maybe he had left, slipped out without them realizing it, but again, not the drama queen that Magnus was. Even as upset as he was - and he had been upset when they had seen him last - he would have left their house with a flair, and maybe a trail of glitter following behind him. No, in all likelihood, Magnus was sitting in his room thinking, and that, Magnus sitting and thinking and dwelling and coming up with brilliant ideas was about the scariest thing Ragnor or Catarina could imagine him doing. Magnus plans were rarely ever good for anyone.

Beyond that, they truly were concerned for him. They wanted to talk to him and make sure he was as okay as he could be after what they had seen happen. Even that was a mystery. They had figured out that the person they had seen Magnus arguing with was his ex-boyfriend, the former Shadowhunter Alec, whom despite what he said otherwise Magnus was still hung up on. They just didn’t know why he was in Peru. Or in the bar that they had long, long ago claimed as their own. Admittedly, it had gone to hell over the decades, but it was still their place, and Alec’s presence there last night had all but kicked them out.

“You would just go in there and be soft, Catarina. Coddle him. And he doesn’t need that.”

“He needs someone to listen, and just be there while he talks, he doesn’t need advice, Ragnor. Not right now.”

Rock, paper, scissors rules, Catarina,” Ragnor gave her one of his rare smiles, which looked condescending. “I lost, so I’ll talk to him. Go back to bed. He’s in good hands.”

“Our definitions of good hands are very different.”

“Go away,” he turned her around and gave her a gentle nudge in the direction of her bedroom. It was hard and it even hurt him a little, but he resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her when she turned back to glare at him. She was too mothering. Smothering. He had no idea why he had been friends with her for centuries. Or Magnus, for that matter. Both of them were insufferable. Yet, here he was in Peru with them both. Again. After the last time they were here and after what Magnus had done, he had sworn he would never, ever holiday with the pair again.

He had.

Often.

He listened at Magnus’ door for the sound of anything; pages turning, snoring, talking on a cell phone, music… anything, but he heard nothing at all, and raised his hand to knock. Knocking wouldn’t work, Magnus could easily ignore that as he had been doing for hours when either of them had approached his door and tried to come in. A turn of the knob told him, again, that the door was still locked, indicating that Magnus wanted to be left alone to mull or to cry or whatever he was doing in there. Well, that was just too bad. He was going to endure Ragnor’s presence whether he wanted to or not. And with a very tiny flick of his wrist, he loudly blew the knob off of the door and pushed it open to admit himself.

The door that led to the balcony was open, and from where he stood, Ragnor could see Magnus’ feet up on the rails. He took up a casual pose against that open door frame and squinted his eyes against the brightness of the morning sun.

“Well,” he began. “Last night was certainly interesting.”

It didn’t matter how much time passed or how much alcohol he drank, Magnus’ emotions still whirled inside of him like a jumbled storm and he wasn’t sure how to put them at bay or how to ease them. Before, whenever everything had happened, it had just been hurt and sorrow and Magnus had done the only logical thing possible then - he had cried. He had ugly cried for hours, possibly even days and at some point, it had started to work. He didn’t think that was going to be an option now. The urge to cry, to scream, to rage, to let it all out was there but nothing would come, nothing would happen. All he had been capable of doing was sitting and thinking and sitting and drinking and for a short period of time he had smashed several of the items in his room, glass and wood shards littering the floor but even that had given way to pacing and drinking but that hadn’t lasted for very long before he had taken a seat on his balcony once more. Sitting was good, sitting was safe.

At least it had been until the voices from the hall drifted out to him and he heaved a sigh, draining the rest of the glass that was grasped loosely in his fingertips. He loved his friends dearly and honestly, they were more than friends, they were his family, but in that precise moment, the last thing he wanted to do was talk to either of them. All he wanted was to be left alone and to wallow, as unhealthy as that was it was the best thing for him right then and there.

The sound of his door slamming open had him cracking open one eye but he didn’t move, instead remaining prone in his chair as Ragnor’s familiar presence surrounded him. So, he lost the draw. I bet Catarina is furious. The thought had a wry smile curling up the corner of his lips just a bit as he turned his head in the direction where Ragnor’s voice came.

“That,” he said as he waved his glass in Ragnor’s direction, “is perhaps the biggest understatement you have ever made, Ragnor.”

Ragnor stepped forward and plucked the glass that Magnus had waved at him from his fingers and took the chair opposite him. "I don't make understatements," Ragnor ran the glass under his nose to smell what was in it, and then drained the liquid. "It was interesting. What was it all about?"

Magnus scowled when the glass was removed from his hands but made no move to get another one. That required effort and right then and there effort was not something that Magnus wanted to commit to.

“Which part? The bar, the parking lot or now?”

"I can see what you're doing now, so let's skip that." Scotch for breakfast wasn't Ragnor's cup of tea, so he didn't refill the glass and set it on the rail between them. Actually, tea did sound good. Why didn't he get a service before he came in here?

Oh, that's right, he was in a rush. Magnus was in here destroying his liver and likely planning to do something that might hurt him even more. "The rest of it. Start at the beginning and tell me what happened, the whole story."

A loud sigh came from Magnus as he tipped his head back against the back of the chair once more and closed his eyes against the sun that was being incredibly cruel by shining down upon him like it was.

“Do you know that I actually tried to convince myself that he was dead? I spent years looking for him, years, and every time my spell would fail or it would fizzle out and go nowhere I told myself it was because he was dead. It was easier that way. Easier to lie to myself like that than to believe that he had gone so far as to magically block me. I had just looked for him before we came here, before we found out the ban had been lifted and like all of the years before the spell went nowhere and I told myself it was because he was somewhere better. That lie was always easier to believe, always easier to handle.

“I never once thought that he would be in Peru. That he’d go so far as to literally block me magically. The one place on Earth that I couldn’t go and where my magic had no effect, he ran to. Never let it be said that Alexander is stupid.”

Ragnor understood what Magnus had slurred at him, yes, slurred because 'said' or 'spoke' weren't even in the same universe as what Magnus had just done. He understood it, but he didn't like the way Magnus sounded, drunker than he had seen him in a long time, but not to worry, he would take care of it. He muttered a few words under his breath and then snapped his fingers together, not even taking a second to see if that instant sober spell had worked on Magnus, but sure that it had.

"I'm going to assume that was completely about Alec, your ex-boyfriend Alec, the Alec that you broke up with because he wanted you to die Alec and plotted with Camille to try and make it happen. That Alec. How did you even know that was him?"

The sound that came from Magnus sounded like a wounded animal as the pleasant haze that had filtered into his brain and body some time ago disappeared and was suddenly replaced with the cold, harshness of reality. I hate you, Magnus thought silently in Ragnor’s direction though he gave no voice to that thought.

“I could be deaf, dumb and blind and be able to pick Alexander out in a room and I will always be able to. There will never come a day, no matter how old I get or how much time has passed and aged him where I won’t recognize him. Even when he is old, gray and worn like fine leather, I will know him. He is my heart, even after what Camille tried to do with him and nothing will ever change that.”

The sound Magnus made as Ragnor spoke told him that the spell had worked, and without missing a beat kept on going, and even waited for a newly sober Magnus to respond. He would thank him later. He needed to be clear-headed anyway, thinking about Alec, and after the confrontation he had with him at the bar last night.

"Don't moon over him and don't get drunk, Magnus, it won't help. It will feel nice, definitely, but it won't help. You'll need all 37 of your brain cells to come up with a sound solution for this. Now, he came to Peru because he thought at the moment that you would never be able to find him, and barring any guilt he may have felt from what he and Camille tried to do to you, why would he do that? Did he say?"

“Because it was literally the one place on the entire Earth that I could not go. If you’re running away if you’re leaving everyone behind and determined to never be seen or heard from again, where would you go?” Magnus’ tone came out much harsher than he had intended for it to but he couldn’t help it. Being drunk and thinking about Alec in Peru was far easier than being sober and thinking about the fact that his Alexander had been so hurt - not only by what the Clave had done to him but by what Magnus had done, or has the case had been what he had not done - that he went to the one place where he couldn’t be followed or found. It hurt more than Magnus was ready to deal with at that moment.

“And I will moon and drink all I want to. Especially where Alexander is concerned. Why wouldn’t I? Not all of us get to be perfectly happy, Ragnor. Not all of us have our one sleeping soundly in another room waiting for us to go and wake them up. Some of us no longer have that and never will have it again so yes, I will drink and I yes I most certainly will moon.”

“He came to Peru, Magnus, specifically to avoid you. He knew that you were banned from here because you told him you were. Isn’t it - plausible, on some level, that he came here specifically so that you couldn’t touch him, but hoping that you might find a way? Send someone to look? Ask someone else to perform your locator spell, just in case? If I were still hung up on my ex-boyfriend, the way he seemed to be then, that’s what I would do. Go to the one place that I thought would be obvious to him.

Ragnor took a breath, his eyes narrowed again, this time at Magnus. His tone didn’t bother him as much as the words he said did. This wasn’t his moment though, there was no need for him to specifically address things or to take what he said personally. He was upset, but he needed to hear hard truths, not be coddled the way Catarina would have done.

“And no, Magnus, we don’t all get to be perfectly happy, or have our one waiting for us with open arms. Some of us won’t find our one sitting at a bar in Peru, so passionate after a dozen years about our breakup that everyone within a mile radius could hear him shouting. But if you want to waste an opportunity that - some angel or some god has seen fit to give you by mooning and getting drunk and wallowing, then, by all means, don’t let me stop you.”

"Yes because it was so obvious when he disappeared that he would do such a thing. His siblings didn't even know he was here, Ragnor. How the hell was I supposed to deduct that this was his location from failed spells?" Opening his eyes, Magnus sat up and turned towards his friend, a scowl on his face as he did so.

"I was not wallowing, thank you very much. I was mourning and there is a vast difference between the two. Enlighten me though since I seem to be so blind, what opportunity am I wasting?"

“He wasn’t even my boyfriend and I might know him better than you do. Think about it, Magnus. Think about what I just said. Did you really think that someone running like he was, wouldn’t run to the one place that he knew you couldn’t? If it were you, wouldn’t this have been your most obvious choice?”

Ragnor couldn’t help it and he finally rolled his eyes at Magnus when he sat up to scowl at him. “You were wallowing, and I suppose it’s allowed, but I find it more sensible to actually take action to get something that I want. But since you can’t see it yourself and you’re the biggest nonce I know, I’ll explain it to you: A person doesn’t get that angry at something he doesn’t care about anymore, and he was pissed at you, Magnus. That’s your opportunity. But, that’s also just my observation and opinion. It may be too deep for the shallow puddles you often stomp around in.”

“Honestly? I never really let myself think too much about where he might have gone or where he was. All I wanted was to find him, to see him, to talk to him again. It never really occurred to me that he would come here and not just here but here where we frequented. I didn’t think he had paid that much attention when I told him about our adventures in Peru.”

Had Magnus still been drunk the thought that was forming in his head at Ragnor’s words would have been ten times worse. His friends were going to tell him it was a horrible idea, to begin with, but at least sober it was a solid and concrete plan. Drunk it would most likely have included a mariachi band.

And glitter.

Lots of glitter.

Still scowling, he stared at Ragnor for a few minutes longer, letting his friend's words fully sink in before he turned to face him completely, head tilted to the side and a curious look upon his face as he spoke.

"Lumpy cabbage, are you suggesting I go chasing after Alexander? That I ignore the door he literally slammed in my face when he got in his truck and drove off and instead seek him out and find him?"

“I wasn’t suggesting anything. I came in here prepared to say something else to you, suck it up, be a man, you know the usual when you bemoan an ex. You said that after everything, and after so long, that Alec is still exactly what your heart wants, so I changed my mind. If you don’t at least try with him after you seemed destined to never see each other again, you’ll regret it. No matter how this plays out in the end, no matter what he says, you’ll know that you tried.”

Magnus remained seated for a few moments longer, staring at Ragnor as he let his words sink in fully. He was right. Magnus knew he was right but he wasn’t about to tell Ragnor that. He’d never hear the end of things if he dared to speak such words aloud but he would say something else. Rising from his chair that had been his place for the last however long it had been, Magnus turned to head into his room but not before taking a moment to address Ragnor once more.

“Thank you, Ragnor. For not telling me I’m a fool and that I’m wasting my time. You have always been there when I need you to be so thank you.”

Ragnor stayed seated as Magnus got up to go inside. He had sworn he wasn’t going to give any advice, both to himself and to Catarina. He hadn’t, per se, but Magnus, drunk and sober, had sounded so… forlorn, so sad, and heartless Ragnor couldn’t stand to hear that sad note in his usually chipper voice.

“Yes, yes,” he said fondly, waving Magnus off and rising as well to leave. “The day is still young, Magnus, I’m sure I will find thirty or more opportunities you call you a fool.”

As he made to walk out of Magnus’ door he stopped and turned around. “Just a reminder, your magic, namely your tracking spells, work here now.”

Chapter Text

The music could be heard beyond the doors. Festive and upbeat, it was a drastic change from the somber and silent mood that the house and its owner had been in the last few days. Hips swaying in time to the beat as he sauteed the apples and onions together to add to the beginnings of the stew that was simmering and fragrant on the stove. In hopes of cheering Alec up, Tomás thought a nice home-cooked meal and a clean house might go a long way to making him feel better. It was the least he could do; Alec had taken him in the other night after his pipes had burst, giving over the guest room to a neighbor and sort of friend out of nothing but the kindness of his heart, and he hadn’t even gotten angry when he had knocked at what had to be nearly three in the morning.

Granted, he had been outside assessing the damage to his house when Alec had driven up a few minutes prior, but still. He thought that perhaps he should have left the other night when Alec’s face had fallen after he opened the door and found him standing there, they were, after all, not exactly friends - more like neighbors that were friendly enough to act as each others Uber driver when they were out and the partying got a little out of control. But, he had taken him in. Tomás had only meant to stay the rest of the night, but the next morning Alec had offered to have him stay until his pipes were repaired and his house was cleaned and dried.

It was a godsend.

The depression and sadness in Alec were almost tangible and Tomás had asked, but Alec just told him there were issues at home in the states and it wasn’t important, and then he had popped another beer can and fallen quiet, signaling that the discussion was over. Normally when they had talked, Alec seemed a bit happier than he was, liked to tell stories of his family back home. Tomás wondered why he never went to see them, not if they had gotten along the way that Alec seemed to think. But that wasn’t really his business.

Today though, Tomás’ day off, he thought maybe he could surprise Alec when he returned from work, cook and clean a bit for him, just make things nice on the surface and hope that it would make him feel just a smidge better.




It had taken Magnus far longer than he would have liked to not only gather the ingredients necessary for the spell - in his fit of rage, he had destroyed most of the spell ingredients he needed and shopping in Peru was most certainly not a picnic - but to perform the spell as well. He was no longer blocked or banned from the country but after having been gone for as long as he had and in the way that he had been, it was taking longer than he was happy with to tap into the country’s natural magic and weave it together properly with his own.

When the map finally lit up, Alec’s home shining like a bright beacon calling to him in the night, Magnus had simply stood and stared at it. Ragnor had had a good idea but now that Magnus was faced with Alec’s location, a location that was close enough that Magnus could walk there if he so wished to, his feet were frozen place as his heart started to beat wildly in his chest. He wanted to see him, he needed to see him but Magnus wasn’t sure if he could handle his Alexander slamming an actual door in his face and refusing to ever see or speak to him again.

He had that right and he was more than within his ability to do so but Magnus wasn’t sure if he was ready to face that sort of rejection from him. Making a sudden decision, Magnus spun on his heels and headed towards his closet, dressing quickly but with Alec in mind the entire time and he emerged from the closet, dressed from head to toe in black save for the sparkly purple vest that served as the only pop of color in his outfit, it was clear to see that Magnus was thinking about one person and one person only. Taking a deep breath as he slipped his last ring on his finger - one he had seen Alec admiring and looking at quite often - he glanced at the map once more, cementing Alec’s home’s location in his mind before heading out the door. It was now or never and the longer Magnus dragged his feet, the longer he would have to convince himself not to go and that would do neither he nor Alec any good.

The short walk from the home he shared with Ragnor and Catarina to where Alec lived did nothing to calm his nerves and as he paused outside the home, taking in the hammock on the porch, the sound of music coming from inside of the home and the aroma of delicious food - had Alec finally learned to cook? - Magnus couldn’t help the grin that tugged up the corner of his lips. Alec had come a long way in the past few years. It killed Magnus to think of everything he had gone through but at the same time, it meant getting to know him again would be just as exciting as it had been the first time around.

Before he could convince himself to turn and head home, he climbed the few stairs that led up the porch, raised his fist and knocked firmly on the door.

At the knock, Tom looked up at the door and wondered for a moment who it could be. There were exactly three houses in a half-mile radius, one of which was empty, and they weren’t exactly close to much else. Had Alec forgotten his key? He wasn’t due home from work for another hour or so, so perhaps they had finished their job early? He wiped his hands on the dishtowel next to the limes he had been slicing, lowered the music a bit and went over to the door, which he noticed was unlocked.

No matter. Alec didn’t tell him not to open his door, so he did, and smiled at the man on the other side. The well dressed, very handsome man on the other side.

Why did he look so familiar?

“¿Hola, como puedo ayudarte?”

That’s not Alec. That was Magnus’ first thought when the door opened, revealing a handsome brunette with blue eyes. A handsome brunette with blue eyes who most definitely was NOT his Alexander. For a moment Magnus panicked, worrying that he somehow was at the wrong house or that his spell led him astray. It wouldn’t have been the first time his magic had betrayed him and given how emotional he had been it really wouldn’t have been that big of a surprise but as he continued to stare at the man who answered the door, his question finally translating in his brain, he remembered Alec having mentioned a significant other. Magnus wanted to scowl at the possibility of this being said significant other but instead, he mustered up his most genuine smile, white teeth gleaming in the sunlight as he glanced past the man and into the house.

“Is Alexander home? I was hoping to speak with him.”

Tomás returned his smile mentally noting how dressed up he was and how that made him suddenly feel underdressed in his t-shirt, sandals and blue jean shorts. For a split second he had the urge to lean against the doorframe and turn on his charm, this man was so pleasant to look at; handsome, exoticly so, and wearing clothes that were tailored to hug every inch of his frame. But he remembered he wasn’t at home, this visitor wasn’t for him. Did Alec have friends in Peru?

“Alexander?” Tomás had never thought that was his neighbor's full name, he had always been Alec to him. Or was it Alex?  “No, no. He’s still at work, but he’s due home in an hour or so.” He opened the door wider and stood off to the side. “I’m just making some supper, but you should come in and wait for him.”

Magnus arched a brow as the handsome stranger stood aside and invited him and wondered just who this man was inviting someone who was a perfect stranger to him into Alec’s home. He knew that Alec could more than take care of himself. Even after all this time, he doubted that he would have lost any of the abilities he had learned while growing up but did this man know about Alec’s past? Did he know the things that lurked in the shadows and could easily rip his pretty face right off of his equally pretty head? If this was Alec’s new lover, then he left a lot to be desired.

He wasn’t about to decline the open invitation though and with a smile still shining brightly upon his face, he slipped past the man, taking note that he smelled like fruit and something else that Magnus couldn’t quite place and he wondered if that was intentional or if it had happened by accident.

Once inside he took a moment to look around Alec’s home, noting the bare walls, the sparse furniture, the lack of anything that actually screamed Alexander and it had the smile on his face fading just a bit. Had his boy really spent all of these years living like this? It tore at something inside of Magnus, something he couldn’t quite name or describe in that very moment but it would come to him eventually.

Turning back around, he held out a hand to the other man as the door closed behind him.

“We’ve not yet been properly introduced. Magnus Bane, and you would be?”

Maybe inviting the man to come in wasn’t a very good idea in hindsight, but Tomás had never been afraid of strangers, not like that. He had, his grandmother called, a sixth sense. Just like her, and he could always tell how safe a person was just by a feeling he got about them. It wasn’t science, and he was beyond skeptical about things like that, but he had never been led astray, and the man who smiled and him and asked for Alec didn’t give off any bad vibes. Or whatever.

Tomás could have just been hopeful and wanted to try this hooking up with this handsome stranger thing too if the man didn’t appear to already have something going on with Alec.

...could that be the reason he had been so depressed lately?

He closed the door and stood behind the man for a moment. Just because he didn’t seem like he wanted to hurt him didn’t mean he didn’t want to hurt Alec. He’d find out. This man did look like someone he knew, maybe leaving here was where he had seen him?

He stepped forward and took Magnus’ proffered hand, keeping his grip light and friendly as he shook it. “Tomás Chávez. A pleasure, Magnus,” he released Magnus’ hand and started toward the small kitchen, walking backward so that he could face Magnus. “Do you like tequila? I have a cold pitcher of margaritas made and I’d be happy to get you something.”

So he was the famed paramour after all. That news alone had Magnus paying closer attention to him. How he carried himself, how he behaved in Alec’s home, his mannerisms. Everything. Magnus took note of it all and was slowly filing and cataloging it away for a later time. A time when he could closely examine and note everything. For now though he was simply going to watch and observe. He most certainly wasn’t going to pass up alcohol though. Magnus normally preferred scotch and whiskey but, if someone was offering it or if the situation called for something that could easily be slammed down in shot form, he was most certainly going to partake.

Following along behind him, he paid closer attention to the inside of the house, sadness creeping in as he did so. Nothing here said 'Alexander'. Nothing at all. There were no weapons, no pictures, no books on demons or sparring moves - nothing. Absolutely nothing. He knew that being deruned was going to be difficult for Alexander but he never once thought that he would so completely cut himself off from the world he had spent his whole life in.

“How long have you and Alexander known each other?” he asked as he took a seat at the table, a booted foot coming up to rest on his knee as he did so. It was small talk but at the moment it was all Magnus had while trying to come to terms with all of the things he could see and more importantly not see.

Tomás had purposely not offered Magnus a seat in the living room on one of the couches or in a chair. He wanted to keep him close and at the moment he had a stew on the stove and tamales in a pot, and he was going to be in and out of the small workspace in the kitchen, so he was relieved when Magnus followed him and took a chair in the kitchen. He put a glass down in front of Magnus, along with a small dish of limes.  “How long have I known Alec?” Tomásthought for a minute, pouring the drink in Magnus’ glass. “I moved in next door to him about… two years ago. So about that, yes. Two years.”

He moved to the stove to stir the stew he was cooking. “What of you? Are you a new friend of his or -,” And then it clicked. That was where he had seen Magnus. In Alec’s bedroom, he had a few framed photos of his family and friends in New York, where he’d said he’d come from. In one of those Magnus was there. A friend. An old friend. He had made the right choice letting him inside, and the smile he turned on him as he joined him at the table was a real one. This couldn’t be bad.

“You are a friend from New York, yes? He has pictures, that’s where I’ve seen you, that’s why your name seemed familiar. He’s mentioned you. You’re a friend.”

Magnus’ hand froze halfway to the bowl that had been set in front of him and his gaze immediately settled on Tomás as he mentioned having seen Magnus before. That Alexander not only had pictures but pictures of Magnus. To say that he was surprised was a vast understatement. He hadn’t been looking for pictures of himself when he had been taking in Alec’s home but rather his siblings, the people he knew Alec had been close with, hell even his nieces and nephews. To hear though that Alec still kept pictures of him and in his bedroom no less - Magnus had to swallow hard past the lump that had formed in his throat before he could speak without sounding like a twelve-year-old girl.

“Mm, I know him from New York, yes but it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen each other. I - things were difficult when he left and I was surprised to find that he was here.”

To keep his hands busy Magnus set about squeezing several limes into his glass before drowning them with as much margarita mixture as the glass could possibly hold. He wasn’t sure if it was an attempt at trying to hide his shaking hands or if it was something else but Magnus knew he had to do something to keep from giving away the emotions that had suddenly swelled up and caught him off guard.

“Two years, you say? What has Alexander told you in that time if you don’t mind my asking. I’m surprised to hear that he spoke of me at all.”

“Why was it difficult? He has mentioned that before - somewhat, that he wanted to leave New York, and the states altogether, but he wouldn’t say why. I just always assumed that he needed a change of scenery, or he wanted a clean start.”

 Tomás got up again as he listened to Magnus and lifted the pot lid to check on the tamales he was cooking. Steam rose up toward his face as he dished out a few onto a plate and returned to the table to put the plate down near Magnus. If he didn’t eat that was fine, Tomás realized when he sat down that he hadn’t asked, he was concentrating on what he was saying and being told.

“He has four or five photos on the dresser in his room. His sister and his brothers, and then one of you and him together. He said - I think that when his younger brother passed away, that you were the friend that was there for him, that you were always there for him for everything,” he paused. “I can’t believe it took me so long to put it together, who you are. But it is very good that you are here.”

“Yes, I suppose that getting away as quickly as he could was called for after everything that happened. Our lives - it was a difficult time for everyone but Alexander took it harder than everyone else and when the dust settled the only thing left to do was leave. I’m pleased to see though that he’s made a life for himself here and that he’s doing well. I worried about him after he left.” Magnus sat up straight as the plate was set in front of him, the smell making him realize just how hungry he really was.

“This - did you make tamales from scratch? With your own hands?” He didn’t even ask if the plate was for him before picking up the fork and taking a bite, the taste almost bringing a groan from him. They were good, damn good. If he cooked like this for Alexander all the time he could see why he kept Tom around. After all, he knew that Alec didn’t know his way around the kitchen. There was a reason the stack of take-out menus in his kitchen had grown bigger and bigger with every day that passed when they were together.

“Max,” Magnus hadn’t thought about him in years truthfully. It was a painful subject, for everyone, but Alec had taken it the hardest out of everyone. Blaming himself for what had happened, for not being there to protect his brother. The trip they had taken to Paris together after he was gone, Magnus had intended for it to be a happy one but it had ended up being more therapeutic than anything else. It had been that trip where Magnus realized that he loved Alec and not like he had anyone else in his entire life. What he had felt for Alec - there had been no describing it and he still couldn’t do such a thing.

“Alec was incredibly sad and lost after his brother died. I did what I could to help him. I couldn’t stand to see him suffer so needlessly.”

Tomás could feel a slight blush rise to his cheeks at the sound that Magnus gave when he tasted the tamales. That was unexpected and - pornographic sounding, but he wasn’t complaining. He liked a man that could enjoy his food and not be afraid to show it, and Magnus was clearly one of those men. He waved off the question though and smiled over at him. “Frozen or canned tamales is sacrilege. But making them - it’s nothing. If you like those then I have a pork stew simmering that you should try as well.”

He looked interested in the conversation as Magnus filled in a few blanks for him. Alec was never this open, and he had no real reason to be. But Tomás recognized that perhaps it was to keep him and his offer of real friendship at arm’s length.

“Max,” he repeated, frowning. “Alec has never said his name before. It always seemed like any talk of him was painful and I never pushed for any more than he was willing to share. When compared to everyone else in his life, I am a newcomer, but I am very glad that during that time he had friends that cared as much as it seemed you did for him.  He’s a very special man, even if he doesn’t appreciate himself. It’s wonderful that others can see it and do.”

"If this is how you always cook, I may never leave again." It was a teasing joke but Magnus had to admit, the man could cook. He'd never made tamales himself but the ones he always got from the restaurant around the corner from his London home weren't nearly this good. He could see why Alec kept him around.

"No, I don't imagine that he would talk about Max. It was - difficult is an understatement. For the longest time, Alec blamed himself for what happened. For not being there. For not being able to protect Max and I can't imagine that that has changed or that it ever will change for him."

Magnus offered him a sad smile as he took a drink of his margarita. He hadn't thought about Max in years but knowing his Alexander, he thought about him every single day and Magnus knew that the burden would never lessen for him.

"Do you know when we might be graced with Alexander's presence?"

“Someone who appreciates my cooking like that is always welcomed. My grandmother lived with us when I was still at home, and I learned so many traditional recipes from her, and I’m still learning when I go to see her.”

The door pushed open and Alec came in, a small smile lighting his face and the words about the wonderful smell of cooking food poised on his tongue, though at the sound of voices he fell silent. Tom must have company and Alec wasn’t going to intrude but hopefully before he retreated to his room he could grab a plate of whatever food that was that smelled so heavenly the closer he had come to his house. He froze in his tracks and his heart stuttered in his chest when he finally heard the voices more clearly. The second voice he knew so well that he could close his eyes and choose it out of a lineup.

Holy crap.
Not this again.

No, that was wrong. He wanted this again. He had spent the last three days hoping for another chance encounter with Magnus, hoping that he might want the final word and use a tracking spell to find his location, but Alec was fairly sure that after the last time he had left, that the last time was really the last time. But he was here, the sound of his voice, the sight of his back - neither of them had seen him yet - and he wasn’t sure what he was going to say now. Last time was wrong. He shouldn’t have raised his voice, he shouldn’t have left, now that there was another chance he wasn’t going to do that again. Then it occurred to him: what if Magnus wasn’t here to see him? What if he was Tom’s company?

He leaned against the wall and listened to them talk for a moment; they were talking about Max and that very bad time, a time he never cared to discuss again, so adamant as he was about it that he almost turned around and walked back out of the door as quietly as he had come in. But then, Magnus said his name.

“I’d say about now,” Alec said, stepping forward and making his presence known. “Hey, Tom. Hey, Magnus.”

Any retort Magnus about grandmothers always knowing how to cook and how to keep people happy and fed died at the sound of Alexander's voice and in a flash Magnus was up and on his feet, some of his margarita sloshing out of the glass and onto the table as he spun around to face him.

He was still beautiful. At the bar, Magnus hadn't really been able to take in his looks fully, dark and dingy as it was and then the night light hadn't helped either. Standing as he was now though in Alec's kitchen he could truly see how good time had been to him and it had been so good.

Uncertain of what to say, Magnus shifted from one foot to the other and back again before his mouth opened and a single word came out.

"Alexander."

Alec’s chuckle at Magnus’ seeming awkwardness died in his throat at the…sensual - that’s the best word to describe it - way the warlock said his name. What in the hell was that? And what was Magnus wearing? Almost all black, satin and leather, a wardrobe stitched by the devil himself because it was really doing nothing more than clinging to the perfect body he knew was under the threads.

“Uh,” he said. How’s that for awkward? “I see you and -,” And then it finally, finally occurred to him that Magnus and Tom were together, in the same room together. Magnus, his ex, and Tomás, his fake boyfriend, were in the same room together, talking, alone. What had they said? Why had he even lied in the first place?

He cleared his throat. “Did you come to see me, Magnus?”

“Yes. I came by to see you, to speak with you and your lovely paramour here was kind enough to invite me in. Beyond that, he was also nice enough to feed me and start to ply me with liquor. I-” Magnus paused for a moment, the sound of a door closing firmly nearby enough to break the hold that had fallen over him and he realized that the man in question was no longer in the room with them. It struck Magnus as odd but not enough for him to question.

“The other night, the way things ended, I couldn’t let that be the way things went. I couldn’t let that be the last time we saw each other or spoke to each other. It’s been bothering me heavily so after some not so subtle pushing from a very green and lumpy cabbage, I came here to see you. That is if you want to talk. I fully understand if you don’t.”

“Tom’s a nice guy,” Alec said as Magnus cut himself off.

Alec had seen Tom retreat to the back of the house, and he could only assume that he had gone to the ‘guest’ bedroom that he was occupying for a few days until his own was clean and dry. It was polite of him not to intrude, and thankfully, he hadn’t mentioned their relationship, or lack thereof, to Magnus while they were alone.

“Yeah, I was thinking about that too when I sobered up, I was hoping that wouldn’t be the end of that, I was hoping you’d use some,” he silently wiggled his fingers at Magnus, indicating magic without saying the word out loud. “Or I’d find you where I left you but - yeah, I agree. We should talk.”

Magnus couldn’t help but chuckle at Alec’s sign language and it was refreshing to do so.

“Yes, Ragnor had to remind me that my magic does in fact work here once more and that I am no longer blocked. It has been so long that I’ll admit that it’s still weird to be able to do such things once more.”

He was afraid coming here that they would do nothing more than fight and argue, a continuation of the screaming match they had the last time they had seen each other and that wasn’t what he wanted. How things had gotten as out of hand as quickly as they had when they had seen each other at the bar he couldn’t even begin to tell you but now was his chance. This was his chance to talk to Alec, really talk to him and he wasn’t about to pass that up. Magnus could only hope that Alec choosing to remain in the same room as him was a sign that things were going to go somewhat better than they had the last time they spoke.

Without even thinking, he held out a hand to Alec, silently begging him to take it.

“Walk with me?”

Ah, Ragnor. Now the lumpy green cabbage reference made more sense.

“I thought once you were let back in that everything would work again, but now that you mention it, - I hadn’t really thought otherwise,” he shrugged a little. “I guess I took you being able to find me if you wanted me for granted.”

He had only meant in the context of the last few days, but when he thought back on it later he’d facepalm and kind of get how what he’d said could be taken.
Taking Magnus’ hand would have been easy, it seemed like a simple thing to do, but the small contact seemed too intimate to him, too familiar. Regardless of how tempting it was and how much he wanted just that. He had an excuse though, and he held up his bandaged hand that had been at his side and shrugged.

“Hammered my hand into a board at work today, still kinda hurts. But,” he said reaching back for the knob of the front door. “But I’d like to walk with you.”

In an instant Magnus was at Alec’s side, his hand held gently in his own as Magnus made short work of the bandage that seemed to have been applied hastily. Healing wasn’t his forte by any means but he had become proficient in some things after he had started seeing Alexander. He had begged Catarina to teach him so that he could better help him and even after all of this time Magnus still couldn’t stand to see him hurt or in pain. How he had missed the bandage when Alec first arrived he didn’t know but he wasn’t about to let him continue to be hurt when there was something that he could do about it.

Turning his hand over gently, Magnus examined the wound for a moment before a shower of purple sparks flowed from his fingers and a whispered word later Alec’s hand was as good as new, the injury gone save for a tiny and faint pink line that would fade as the day progressed. He looked at it for another moment longer, ensuring himself that he hadn’t missed anything before letting it go and offering Alec a small smile.

“After you.”

Out of everything that had crossed his mind since he’d come home and seen Magnus in his house, out of every scenario that had fleetingly played through his mind, not one of them had included Magnus taking his hand and healing him as he had just done. It took him by surprise, and he actually gasped twice; once at the initial contact and again when the sparks signaled the start of the healing. He was never sure if Magnus knew how that felt, when he healed a hurt and how it felt, the warmth that spread from the source of the injury and slowly through the rest of the body. He didn’t know if Magnus knew what he had just done with that gesture, one small to him, but so large to Alec. So… meaningful.

And he was standing so close, so close that Alec had to tip his head a little to look up at him. So close that he could smell him.

“I didn’t expect you - thank you,” he said, flexing his fingers and turning his hand over to look at the other side. He fell silent for a second, pausing on his way out of the door because screw it, and he leaned forward, pressing his nose close near Magnus’ neck and closing his eyes as he inhaled. He smelled so… good, so familiar, so much like a mixture of the sandalwood soap they used to use and the same cologne he had always worn.  “You smell like home,” was all he said before he stepped out of the door in front of Magnus.

Chapter Text

They had been walking for a while now, the silence that enveloped them comfortable but charged at the same time. Magnus’ heart was still trying to beat it’s way out of his chest as his brain tried to make sense of what had happened as they were leaving Alec’s house but neither one would cooperate long enough for Magnus to be able to think properly. The only thing he could really focus on was how blue Alec’s eyes had been when he had leaned in as close to him as he had and how incredibly close he had been. That one little movement and those four little words had sent Magnus reeling and now he didn’t know what to do with himself. Anything he had been preparing to say had gone right out the window and now he was left scrambling, trying to pick up the pieces, put things back together and make an attempt at saying something, anything but fuck if he knew what that was.

Alec still remembered home, more importantly, he remembered home with Magnus and that? That was something that Magnus had not been at all prepared for. There were so many things he wanted to say now. So many different ways in which he could respond to Alec but was now the time for such a thing? He had already made the mistake of telling Alec that he still loved him and it had gone unnoticed as though it had never been spoken and Magnus wasn’t sure if that was a sign of some sort or not. All of this was so very confusing and that bothered him a bit cause things had never been confusing with Alec, never. Magnus had known from the very beginning how he had felt, what Alec meant to him and he still knew but so much had changed, so much time had passed. What was he supposed to do with everything in the wake of all of that?

A soft sigh escaped from him as he watched the beach empty; locals returning to their homes to make dinner, tourists returning to their hotels to try and decide if they wanted to eat out or stay in and order room service, and the die-hards who only came to the beach after everyone else had gone. It made for the perfect setting in which to have a heart to heart with your heart’s greatest desire.

“I should apologize.”

Alec stopped walking and touched Magnus’ shoulder to stop him as well. “No, you shouldn’t. I should, I shouldn’t have raised my voice, I didn’t mean to. I yelled - things that I shouldn’t have.”

And he wasn't drunk. He’d only had one beer at lunch and a shot of tequila his boss had given him to help with the pain after he’d hammered a nail through his hand a little while ago. He was going to have to explain his lack of a wound tomorrow, or maybe he’d just wear a bandage for a few days, but he realized that thought was secondary to what he felt. His hand was still tingling; he wasn’t sure if it was from the healing itself, the fact that Magnus had touched him there, or because there was a part of him, against his better judgment, that wanted to act on Magnus’ silent offer to give him his hand earlier. Or a combination of all three.

It was beautiful out there, it always was, but Alec knew he wouldn’t act on anything. The moment shouldn’t - and couldn’t - be a romantic one, and that’s the thought that walking on a nearly empty beach nearing sunset-inspired. This wasn’t romantic. This was a pair of former lovers trying to make amends for or come to terms with their past.

“So, yeah, I’m sorry,” he started to walk slowly again. “And I should have just let you talk and not brought up things that happened a million years ago in a time that should be forgotten.”

“Alexander,” he said softly as he reached out to take a firm hold of his wrist, preventing him from walking any further away from him than he already had. This was a conversation that had been a long time in the making, a conversation that Magnus had started to convince himself was never going to happen cause he would never see Alec again but now that they were there, together, in that spot standing a few feet apart from each other, Magnus knew that it was now or never. If things didn’t get said now they would never be said and that? That wasn’t something that he could let happen.

“It is not just the other night I should apologize for. I - there are a great many things I need to apologize for. For being hurt, for letting my pride get the best of me. For letting my heart dictate and rule my feelings rather than thinking logically with my head as I should have. For letting you walk away and not doing anything about it until it was too late to do anything other than regret my foolish actions.

“I should not have said what I did the other night when I saw you. And I can try to blame the alcohol and I can try to blame the shock but really, the only one to blame is me. You deserve so much better than my volatile temper and angry words and I hate that once again you were on the receiving end of them. That was not how I thought the first time I saw you again would go.”

“You want to apologize for being hurt? Magnus, that’s like…,” Alec stopped talking and let Magnus go on, taking every word and every syllable he uttered in and mulling them over quietly as he just listened. This was truly something he never thought he would hear, a thing he was positive he’d never hear after the failed attempt at talking about it the other night. The more he thought about it, the longer that had passed from their second, insanely by chance, meeting, the less he thought he deserved the words.

“Magnus, as I said before, you don’t have anything to apologize for. Not for the other night, and definitely not from before when we - broke up. I was young and desperate, and an idiot, and I - it’s not an excuse, not by any means is it an excuse,” he glanced down at Magnus’ fingers and where the touch seemed to be burning a hole into his wrist. He slid his wrist from Magnus’ grasp but caught his fingers. “But I wanted to keep you. I wanted us to age together and - I just didn’t think of it as me taking your life away then. It wasn’t something that I thought about, really thought about, until months later. There’s no way to even apologize for that without sounding trite and making what I did seem insignificant. I don’t blame you for acting the way you did. I don’t blame you for not talking to me. I don’t - I can never defend what I did. I’m just lucky that I got this chance, that you’re standing here giving me this chance.”

“I wasn’t just hurt, Alexander. It -” Magnus sighed in frustration as he tried to find the right words to say, to put into words what he had felt what he still felt and not make Alec feel ashamed for having wanted to keep Magnus with him because that wasn’t what had upset him. It had taken Magnus weeks to realize that he was hurt not because Alec wanted to spend both of their lives together - to have them grow old together and experience life together like normal couples did because that? There were no words for how that could properly describe that feeling. At one point in time, there may have been actions that could have properly described what he felt and still to this day felt but that time was long since past. All he was left with now was words. Magnus had realized too late that he was hurt because Alec had gone to someone else and that someone had used and abused Alec and what he felt.

“Camille has always been jealous. Always. From the moment I met her, she had always had a jealousy streak a mile wide but it took me a long time to not only realize that but to see it and by the time I did, the damage had already been done. When I ended things with her I tried to make the break as clean as possible, to put such a complete ending on our relationship that she would know I was done. That there was to be nothing more gained from me but she never picked up on that hint and through the years she ruined more than one relationship and ran off more than one lover in an attempt to worm her way back into my life.

“When she saw you, she used what you felt against you. She took something so pure and so true and twisted it into something dark and depraved in order to fit her own needs, wants and desires and I was too stupid to realize that. I should have seen what she was doing from the beginning but I couldn’t. I couldn’t see past my own hurt and my own sense of betrayal to realize that you had been hurt as well and in a much worse way.”

Magnus wasn’t sure when his fingers had laced through with Alec’s but the sight of them linked together caused something deep inside of him to stir. Something that had been dormant for longer than he cared to admit and he couldn’t admit yet that it hurt. Standing there like that with him - fingers laced, a breath's width, maybe two, of space between them as the sun set behind them and the sounds of the night started to flare up around them - Magnus knew he had made a mistake and he wondered if it was too late. If their time had come and passed already.

“I searched for you. Every single day after I had realized what a damnable fool I had been, I searched for you. It was too late by then. You had already gone and my spells - nothing worked. Either they fizzled out and died or they went nowhere and after a while I had tried to convince myself that it was because you were gone, really gone and while the lie hurt more than I could ever describe it was easier to deal with that lie than face the reality that you hated me so much that you had found someone who could shield you so completely that not even my magic could get through.” He paused for a moment, he thumb brushing over the back of Alec’s hand as he offered him a small smile.

“Never once did I think you would come here. I’m glad you did though cause it meant that this - us here and now - could be a possibility, that it could happen and it meant that you could hear that I was never angry with you. Not for a single moment was I ever angry with you nor did I ever hate you or want you to be gone.

“I was just hurt. You were the first person to have ever been able to hurt me like that and I didn’t know what to do with that. I was a fool for having let my feelings blind me for as long as they did because it meant that the one thing that meant more to me than anything else in the world was no longer with me and that? That has been the biggest regret I have ever faced in my very long existence.”

Alec took a deep breath. He had heard some of this the other night, Magnus had tried to explain about Camille to him and, as cocky as those few beers had made him feel, it had only made him angrier then. He thought he had known, had thought it was the same line that Magnus had used when they broke up and that pissed him off faster and more than anything else could. Reminders of that, his worst moment, were just thoughts that he would not and could not entertain. Not when he was buzzed and not willing to listen. Especially not then. But now that he listened, really listened, he realized how different the words that Magnus was saying to him sounded from the ones he heard in his mind for years.

“I knew that Camille had an agenda, that’s the screwed up part of it. I entertained her, I listened to her stories about you, I loved that I was hearing about your past, no matter how small or insignificant the detail or anecdotal the story was, I loved it. I was so stupidly in love that I ate all of it up. I did the idiotic little things she wanted me to do for her - even let her feed from me a few times because she said Shadowhunter blood was - I never realized that she was toxic to us until at the end. It’s stupid, it was stupid to put even the little bit of trust in her that I had, but she was convincing,” Alec looked down at their fingers, the way Magnus’ thumb was grazing over his hand so casually and how normal and nice and natural it felt to him.

 “No excuses. I was wrong. I was stupid. And if I had the chance to do it all again, I would have killed her myself the night I came upon her on the roof instead of making that devil’s deal with her that I did.”

He offered Magnus a small smile. “I always thought that you hated me. Right there, at that moment, I thought that you couldn’t stand to look at me any longer than you already had to end it with me, and that hurt me more than anything else I had ever gone through to that point. Even Max - that was bad - it still is, but that this hate was caused directly by something that I did… there was no way to describe the feeling. I actually - still feel it. The idea that you hated me fueled my anger, nursed my hurt and kind of in the end - when I left New York, made me come here where I knew you’d never come. I didn’t think that I deserved to be forgiven or to run across you somewhere and have you look at me with contempt, or - even worse, look through me because anything like that from you meant that what I had done was still on your mind. I knew that if I was here that couldn’t happen. I’d never see you again. And it was the most comforting thing I could think of. I kind of think that you hating me would have been easier to continue to bear than actually hearing that I hurt you would have been. You’re my greatest - were my greatest love, the biggest one of my life. I never, ever intended to hurt you.”

It was all Magnus could do not to growl when Alec mentioned Camille feeding on him. If she wasn't already dead, that would have driven Magnus to end her life in the most painful way he possibly could. He knew she had had problems but he hadn't known they had gone that far and to know that Alec had been sunk to such depravity? It made him feel even worse for how foolish and stupid he had been when he pushed Alec away.

"I could never hate you, Alexander. You could literally stab me and I wouldn't hate you. It isn't in me to do such a thing. You are who my heart was made for and it will always be you it wants. I wish I could take it all back. I wish I hadn't been so foolish and that I hadn't been so damned hurt and gods I wish I hadn't shut you out like I did while wallowing in my own pain and misery, but I can't. So much time was lost and wasted because of my stupidity and I-"

Magnus just sighed heavily as he stared down at their interlaced fingers for a moment before silently saying to hell with it. It was now or never. Either he was going to be accepting of what Magnus was about to do or he would push him away. Either way, at least Magnus would know he tried.

Tugging firmly on Alec's hand he pulled him closer, wrapping his arms tightly around him and held onto him as fiercely as he could.

"You have always been my home, Alexander. And you always will be. No matter how much time passes or how stubborn we may be, it will always be you who my heart beats for."

Alec was stunned when Magnus drew him closer for a hug, but he didn’t try to fight his way out of it or shy away from it. It was almost like his arms were on autopilot while he thought and they wound around Magnus’ back and tugged him even closer. Until that moment he hadn’t realized how badly he’d missed this kind of contact with people - hugs, a hug from Magnus at that, was nearly enough to bring him to tears. His back shuddered beneath Magnus’ hands as he laid his cheek against Magnus’ neck and just breathed him in, relishing in the warmth. It almost felt like a heavy weight was lifted from him, and by the way he sagged it must have felt that way, too.

“I think I really needed to hear that from you,” he said, a little muffled against Magnus. “I don’t deserve that, and I never, ever deserved what you felt for me, but I wanted both. You’ll always be everything to me, everything, and it’s tragic that we didn’t work out because we would have been - amazing. But at least - hopefully, we’re starting over, and we can be friends if nothing else. I don’t not want to have you in my life anymore.”

Magnus had no idea how Alec was going to react to him hugging him but when he sagged against him it was as though a rock he had gotten used to carrying around with him was lifted and for the first time in years he could breathe, really and truly breathe. How he had gone this long feeling numb as he had been he would never know, but at that moment when  Alec's arms wrapped around him and he sagged against him, Magnus was determined to never feel like that again.

"I should have said something years ago. I was a fool for letting things go like they did but never again. Never again, my Alexander. Life without you being part of it in some way isn't a life worth having and if friends are all we can be then I will take it for you as a friend is better than no you at all."

He pulled back just a bit so he could look at him, truly look at him and as he did Magnus made a silent vow to never let him go again.

"You have always been worthy, Alexander and you always will be. It is I who wasn't worthy of what you gave me. I'm not worthy now but I will take whatever it is you wish to give me for it is far better than nothing at all."

For a few seconds after all that could be heard around them were the waves crashing against the shore and the distant sounds of seabirds as they made their way to the places they would retire for the night. Alec lingered there looking at Magnus, the sight of his face strange and familiar to him all at once. It had been so many years for him, he had never even allowed himself more than the fleeting dreams he had, the many memories he had, the real memories of Magnus things he was too angry - at Magnus, at himself, at Camille - to have access too. Now all of that felt washed away, he could remember the feel of his skin, the gentle curve of his lips, how soft his hair was after all the gel was taken out of it. Memories that would hurt and that he was protecting his heart from. Something he knew he should do now.

He looked at Magnus like he was going to kiss him, but instead, he pulled back from him, away from his touch, clearing his throat. He had grown up over the years, he wasn’t a kid anymore; young and dumb and able to fall wholeheartedly, intensely and immediately for a man who told him everything he had always wanted to hear. He wanted to, he really wanted to, but in a few days - weeks, whatever - Magnus would return to being the high warlock in London, and Alec would stay here in Peru. Life would go back to being life and everything would be the same - well, not exactly the same, but this was life now. A one night or one month fling with an ex, a friend, didn’t fit into that.

“I don’t know what to do now,” he laughed a little, walking slowly waiting for Magnus’ feet to move. “I’ve been so angry for so long that I feel - kind of lost now that I don’t have it anymore.”

Relief flooded through Magnus when Alec pulled back and started walking away from him. Not because he didn't want to kiss Alec but because he did. He could have easily lost himself in all of that - the feeling of Alec pressed tightly against him. Hands in hair, the sounds Alec made when Magnus kissed him just so. How his lips felt when he slipped them just so. Memories of hours spent doing just that flooded through his mind and the desire to kiss him was so strong, but now wasn't the right time. Now was so far from the right time. It would have been a horrible disaster had they given in to those feelings and Magnus did not want to ruin whatever ground they were making. Perhaps one day he would be able to lose himself once more in those feelings but that day was not today.

Taking a breath to steady himself and then another and then another he finally started walking, covering the ground that had opened up between him and Alec in a few short strides.

"I have wanted to say that to you for so long. I tried texting you several times but either the magic that banned me from this place prevented me from doing so or you changed your number. Whatever it was, I'm grateful for it because telling you in person was far better than any phone conversation I imagined in my head."

“I left my old phone in New York, I think, or maybe somewhere on one of the layovers I had. Off though, I remember that. But,” Alec smiled over at him again. “I’m glad you didn’t text it. I probably wouldn’t have read it, anyway. After a while, I just stopped caring about whether you contacted me or not. I had a war to fight and a council to try and convince that I was good enough to continue wearing my marks and being with my family.”

It was hard not to still feel bitter over losing his marks. It was hard not to still feel a little bitter towards Magnus for what he’d heard he was doing while his marks were being taken away. The friendship and forgiveness thing was still new to him though, he wanted this so badly, just to see that face smiling at him, and not in a picture, he almost felt like he could float away.

“Um, London. You said you were High Warlock there now? It must be - different, but you already lived there before, right?” Will’s old stomping grounds. Alec blinked at his thought. This was definitely going to take time.

The sound that came from Magnus at the mention of the council and what they had done to Alec was almost demonic in nature. Even after all of this time the pure, unadulterated anger and hatred Magnus felt for the Clave hadn't ebbed any. Any time he thought about the Clave - which wasn't often given the reaction he had - all he could think of was Alec screaming and those who just stood by and watched. It was one of just a handful of memories that Magnus wished he could get rid of, actually get rid of.

"It's not New York and for me, that was enough. I needed to be somewhere that wasn't there and I already had a home in London. It was easy to just pack up and return there. Being High Warlock there though bores me. It’s mainly ‘this spirit is haunting me and that spirit is haunting me’. Occasionally, it’s 'a werewolf is haunting me,' which makes things amusing but London is just as full of memories as New York is. Only thing is that it’s easier to ignore those memories than it is the ones I made in New York."

The noise that Magnus made had Alec pausing in his steps to look at him sideways. Was it because of his old phone and him having gotten rid of it? The pictures were downloaded into a file a long time ago if it was that, or maybe it was just the way he felt about the Clave. Honestly, he felt that way too sometimes, but mostly he just felt numb to and about them anymore.

“Just ghosts in London could be a good thing. Better than ‘this demon won’t leave me alone’ or ‘I have a vampire infestation in my local cemetery’, or even ‘I need to summon a succubus… for science,” Alec grinned at him and motioned that they should turn around and start walking back to the house. “Boring can be something you need for a while to kind of level out the crazy that was our lives for a while there.”

The hatred Magnus felt for the Clave knew no limits or had no boundaries and it was the main reason why he always made Ragnor go to the Clave meetings in his stead. He knew that he'd never be able to hold onto his temper long enough or well enough to sit in a room with all of them and he didn't need to have them after him for breaking the Accords. It was just better for everyone involved if he avoided them as much as possible.

Magnus couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of summoning a succubus for science. His boy and his friends had most certainly kept things interesting and there were times when Magnus missed it something fierce but honestly? The quiet boring was a welcoming change. It meant he could just go through the motions and not think which was a good thing for him at times.

"The boring is easy," he said as he turned and began to head back to Alec's home with him. "It means I don't have to think and after everything I needed that. And the ghosts are easy. I've met most of them before and when they get out of hand I can just threaten them with a Herondale. Most of them back off with that threat."

Alec had told himself so many times that he didn’t miss much about Shadowhunting or being a Shadowhunter that he was fairly sure that he had convinced himself of that. He didn’t know if it was a lie or the truth anymore, but, either way, he couldn’t - wasn’t one of them anymore, wasn’t allowed within a thousand feet of a Shadowhunter so it didn’t matter what he felt.

“Boring is good, especially when you get to be my age. A night at home doing nothing, maybe sleeping… probably sleeping,” he grunted a short laugh. “It’s good sometimes, but it’s boring. Sometimes you long for the glory days, when you could draw your weapon faster than anyone or take out twenty demons with six arrows from your bow. Jace though, he’d be proud that his name and his ancestors inspire fear in ghosts.”

The setting of the sun had been barely noticed, and the beach was losing the heat of the day and the sounds of the tourists were fading, making the whole thing peaceful and idyllic for a slow walk like they were on. “Uh, I’m a little hungry, and I need a shower - maybe we can have some of that - whatever smelled so good earlier, on the porch with some beers?”

And Tom. Shit, Tom. Magnus hadn’t mentioned him earlier so he must not know any different than what Alec had told him a few days ago. He hadn’t been thinking when he’d said the name, it was just the first thing that he had thought. He never dreamed that it would go this far. Should he keep up the lie, or let Magnus and their tentative friendship go back to London thinking he was a liar?

The silence was peaceful as they walked and Magnus was grateful for it as his heart was still trying to pound itself out of his chest. After all this time, all these years, he and Alexander had spoken. Truly spoken and though it had taken far longer than he would have liked for it to, it was better late than never. It should not have taken this long for them to speak but now that they had Magnus wondered if this was the first step for them. They had a long way to go and many things to work through but this was the first step and it was a good step. He wanted much more than friendship and god he hoped Alec did too, but if this was all he was going to get, for now, he would take it.

Reaching out he took hold of Alec's hand and brought it to his lips, pressing a soft kiss to it before letting.

"Food and beer with you anywhere sounds amazing. Perhaps we can talk more while we eat?"

Alec wasn’t sure what to make of the kiss to the back of his hand, but he gave a smile and clapped the same hand on Magnus’ shoulder, guiding him towards the house and the porch.

“Deal,” he said. “I’ll grab the food and you can tell me all about your life in London.”

Because Alec sure as hell had nothing to say about his own here.

Chapter Text

Reckless. 

 

 That is what Alec had always said his middle name was. He recklessly went into relationships. He recklessly went into battle. He recklessly lived his life and Alec was more than likely going to tell him that this was the most reckless thing he had ever done, but Jace honestly did not give a shit. If the Clave wanted to come after him for seeking out his brother, for seeing his brother and for spending time with him, then let them. 

 The moment Izzy had told him where Alec was Jace had made his decision and began his search. It had taken him longer than he had wanted to find a warlock who would help him but he finally found one - granted it had taken some persuasion to get them to help him but they had finally agreed and it was all Jace had been able to do to stand still and let the warlock work. 

 He had not been happy at all when Alec had decided to leave, but he had reluctantly gone along with it. Reluctantly being the keyword. He had been furious, sad, mad, angry - a whole range of emotions that he hadn’t even known he had been capable of feeling when he had learned what the Clave had decided to do to Alec. He had fought with Alec, tried to convince him to just go, to run, to leave and never look back and that they would take care of him, but his brother had refused. He had spouted the Clave’s motto about the law and that had only made Jace angrier. His brother had done nothing to deserve the punishment that the Clave had handed down to him and he was just accepting it. 

 Regardless of how angry or upset Jace had been, however, he was there for Alec. He had gritted his teeth and locked his jaw tightly when they began removing Alec’s runes. It wasn’t until they reached the rune that Jace and Alec had shared that he showed the first flicker of emotion; tears leaking out of the corner of his eye as the bond he shared with his brother for years was broken, severed without a second thought given to it and moved on from as though it had never existed. 

 Jace had never wanted to know what it would feel like to be disconnected from Alec like that and now that he knew - he understood why parabatai followed their other halves into death because it had felt like Jace was dying. Clary had asked if he was alright after everything was said and done, but he couldn’t answer her because there was no way to describe what he was feeling. He had simply shrugged at her before closing the door to the room where Alec was resting.

 Twelve years later and he still felt the pain of his rune being removed and he was certain it was the connection to Alec that was trying to reach out to him and tell him his brother needed him. He did his best to ignore it though because how was he to help when he had no idea where Alec was? What he was doing? What he was going through? They got their one phone call a year and Jace did his best not to pester Alec even though it took every single ounce of willpower he had not to. All of that went out of the door when Izzy had called him, frantic and babbling, at a speed that was even impressive for her.

 It had taken Jace several attempts to get her to calm down and speak plainly and clearly and when she had Jace had gone quiet. She couldn’t be serious. It couldn’t be that easy. There was no way that after all this time Alec was going to be so careless and give away his location like that. Jace wasn’t going to question it though and as soon as he had hung up with Izzy he packed a bag, informed Clary of what he was doing and that he would call her as soon as he could, kissed her and their children goodbye and went in hunt of a warlock.

 Standing behind said warlock now Jace was starting to get impatient. Why was this taking so long? Was the warlock dragging his feet? Had Magnus still been in New York - a thought that had Jace all but growling at for having thought in the first place - he wouldn’t have needed to wait. And he wouldn’t have needed to shell out an arm and a leg in money and favors to get the warlock to work for him. Magnus had left New York years ago and it wasn’t something that Jace needed to spend a great deal of time thinking about. Thoughts about Magnus and his role in everything that had taken place could be dwelled on later because at that very moment he needed to focus on what was taking place in front of him. He paid no attention to what the warlock was saying as the portal opened, all he cared about was the fact that his brother lay waiting for him somewhere on the other side. Shouldering the bag he had packed, he picked up the glowing bow, listening long enough to gather that it would act as his beacon to Alec before stepping through the portal and disappearing.

 He should have listened more closely before stepping through the portal for if he had he would have learned that he wasn’t going to be dropped right where Alec was but rather in the vicinity of where Alec was. It would have saved him a great deal of time and frustration for when he exited the portal it was in the alley of a busy city street and had not a clue as to where to go next, his frustration flared up greatly. Sighing, he slid the other strap of his bag onto his shoulder, tightened his grip on the bow that until the day before had been packed safely away and headed out into the city, thankful that his runes hid him from the prying eyes of mundanes that would have caused a scene at the sight of someone walking down the streets with a deadly bow in hand. Granted, it wasn’t deadly in Jace’s hands. In Alec’s though - Jace had never seen anything like it before and he hadn’t seen anything since. He had stopped more than once during a battle to admire how Alec used his bow, how it was an extension of him much like the blades Jace carried were an extension of his own. Alec had refused to take the bow with him when he had left and rather than let someone else touch it or take it over, Jace had carefully packed it away, hoping that one day he would return for it. Luckily for Jace, he had not, for he would not have had any other way to find his brother.

 He had spent hours wandering the streets, getting turned around when he would go down one street only to find that it was a dead-end and he had to turn back around and head up another street. He was beginning to wonder if the warlock had led him astray and was fucking with him when the bow in his hand started to heat up and glow brighter. Picking up his pace, Jace headed up the street quicker, trying to refrain from getting excited but as the glow became brighter he couldn’t help it. Alec wasn’t just his brother. He was Alec and Jace wouldn’t admit to anyone, not even Clary, just how badly he needed Alec and how deeply he missed him. He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but he couldn’t help it.

 As he came up to what looked like a construction site he paused for a moment, taking a deep breath to try and calm his nerves before starting forward only to stop again, cursing silently as he saw various bodies moving about randomly. It figured that he would have to look for him as though he were a needle in a haystack. Not that anything with Alec so far had been easy, why on Earth would he think that this would be? For several long moments, he watched people move back and forth, his sharpened vision dismissing each one for not being his brother before he said to hell with it and threw caution to the wind. If Alec was nearby there was one sure way to draw him out. Pulling his stele out of his pocket, he deactivated the rune that kept him hidden, pocketed his stele and with Alec’s bow gripped firmly in his hand, headed past the gates and onto the site, a smug grin tugging at his lips as alarmed shouts immediately started to sound around him.

 Five o’clock couldn’t come soon enough. The end of the workday, time to go home and enjoy a cool shower and cooler air, a hot meal, and time with your spouse and kids. Or, if you were Alec, time to go to the bar and sip on a room temperature beer and relax to a rousing episode of what the hell ever was being gossiped about behind the bar. It wasn’t ideal, or for everybody, but Alec didn’t mind it. It was routine and familiar, and routine and familiar were nice. Having a schedule was nice. He had never really been a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of guy anyway. He was satisfied with the way things were. Well, had been. This past week had been kind of insane. 

 First, there was Magnus: the public argument, the private talk and the closure that they both needed, the tentative and weird friendship they were crafting, which honestly, he still wasn’t sure was a good idea but damn, did he want it no matter what else happened. He wanted a piece of Magnus somewhere in his life and he was going to have at least that much. If he couldn’t have anything else - being a Shadowhunter, having the family he loved more than life, the horde of nephews and nieces that were born and being born and only knew their Uncle Alec from the once a year video call he made to them at Christmas - he was going to have this, this one little bit of the life he once knew. No matter what happened. No matter how much it hurt. No matter how hard he had to work to keep his hands to himself, he was going to have this weird peace with Magnus.

 Then there was Tom. Tom, his friendly neighbor who had shown up knocking on his door at two in the morning with burst pipes and nowhere to go until he got everything repaired and dried. Tom who had cooked and cleaned for Alec every day since he had come to stay, despite having a job of his own. Tom who made Alec a bagged lunch of leftovers or sandwiches and fruits and other things that were good for you. Tom, who, after a discussion and a few avoidances of truth was the pretend boyfriend until Magnus went back to London because he’d screwed up when he’d forgotten and blurted out his name. He was a good sport though, even if Alec was beginning to wonder if Tom was overlooking the ‘pretend’ part of things. 

It was sad; Tom would be a real catch, easy to love if only Alec weren’t in love with someone else. Tom deserved better than that and a friends with benefits relationship wasn’t something Tom was in the market for either. 

 Alec would just enjoy things like they were while he could.

 Was it five yet?

 The sun was beating down on him and his crew, hard, but thankfully there was some shade surrounding them so they didn’t die or melt from the unforgiving rays. Not a lot of shade, mind, just enough of the still leaves of the tall, dying palm trees that stood on the very edges of the land of the foundation that they were laying down. Alec knew he would be hot no matter what, however. To cover his array of scars left behind when his marks were taken, he had to wear under-armor like some of the sports players do, beneath his clothes and tight to his skin. It was breathable but still hot. He envied the men who could lose their shirts on days like these, but, on the plus side, he never had to nurse a nasty burn?

 No, there was no plus side.

 Alec paused a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow and to fix his long hair that was falling into his eyes from beneath his yellow hard hat and heard excited chit-chat in Spanish. He tried to listen as he watched some of the others around him stop their work and walk forward towards the source of whatever they were talking about, but he only caught bits and pieces of what was being said. He moved closer and nudged one of the men next to him. If there was something wrong, he had to know. He wasn’t going to be standing there like an idiot while a crane or something else careened through the site.

 After a minute, Alec ascertained that the threat was a human and only halfway listened, but moved to watch; he could use the entertainment. A crazy blonde was walking through the site armed with - swords and a glowing bow? Security had been called and supposedly were on their way, but the man was still loose on a closed site. And armed. He couldn’t see anything, but the worried laughter and people pointing were aimed in the same direction he was facing.

 Why had no one tried to stop this idiot? These were big, burly men, many who claimed not to be afraid of anything, and yet this blonde was still walking through…

 The blonde. With swords. And a glowing bow. 

Blonde. Swords. Glowing bow.

 No, it couldn’t be.

 Alec’s rapidly beating heart leaped up into his throat as he dropped his shovel and hard hat to the ground where he stood and began walking briskly through the crowded together men he worked with.

 “It can’t be. It can’t be. It can’t be.”

 It was.

 He froze where he was, breathless, separated from the crowd and staring at his brother through his sunglasses. For the first time in his life, Alec couldn’t make a sound come out of his mouth. This had to be a dream.

 It has been all fun and games until someone has tried to touch him. More importantly, it has been all fun and games until someone has tried to touch him and take Alec's bow from him. The moment that happened Jace's grin fell away and the predator in him came out in full force and he swung out, knocking a burly looking mundane to the ground with a single blow as more of them surrounded him.

 The warlock he had gone to warned him that if he let go of Alec's bow before finding Alec that the spell would fizzle out and Jace would be left on his own. Not to mention Jace never let anyone touch Alec's bow. It belonged to his brother and anyone who wasn't him and tried to touch it was met with Jace's full temper and now was no different.

 Before he could get another swing out or so much as utter a word he felt it. That thing he hadn't felt in years and blindly he spun around, his gaze searching the crowd before it finally settled on Alec. It didn't matter how many years had passed or that the Clave had broken their bond, he would always know Alec. Always.

 A cocky grin spread across his face as he ducked another large mundane who came rushing towards him and easily knocked their feet out from beneath.

 "Wanna hold this for me?" And without thinking he tossed Alec's bow at him and spinning around, slammed his fist into the face of someone charging towards him with a hammer.

 “Jace,” Alec started, catching the bow now that the spell he was under was broken and he could move again. This was going much differently than Alec had pictured it. He was pretty positive that he’d never see Jace again, at least not in the flesh, and here he was, in Arequipa, having somehow found him, after years and years of being apart. It should have been a moment of… something, something else, he wasn’t sure of what, but it shouldn’t have been a moment filled with Jace punching out men he had to work with.

 In a split second after walking right up to where the brawl was happening, he decided he wasn’t going to fight shoulder to shoulder with Jace like they used to, mainly because he knew Jace could hold his own against a few harmless Mundanes, but the part of him that was older and more mature had realized that this was his workplace, as simple and unimportant as it might seem to a Shadowhunter that still clearly wore his marks, it was still important to him. He couldn’t fight this battle and win anything. It wouldn’t be the first time that Alec had stood by and watched Jace do his thing. He loved that kind of shit.

 It was only when three men were laying out and another man, his supervisor, ran toward Jace with a taser, that Alec stepped in and slapped it from the man’s hands and moved to stop Jace.

“Jace, please, it’s fine, they’re down,” he said. And then loudly to everyone around them, “It’s my brother, it’s fine, go back to work.”

 Jace was breathing much harder than he should have been when Alec stepped between them, Jace’s fist stopping an inch from his face when he realized it was Alec standing there and not someone hell-bent on charging him and stopping him. It took a great deal more effort to hold back and keep himself from killing the mundanes than it did to let loose like he normally did in battle. Then again, this wasn’t a battle. These were mundanes who didn’t know jack from shit and not a pack of demons hell-bent on destroying everything and everyone.

 That didn’t stop him from giving Alec a cheeky half-grin though as his chest rose and fell rapidly. This was a moment where he should have said something, anything, to Alec and yet all he could do was stand there and stare at him. What the hell was he supposed to say after all this time? Sure he’d spoken to Alec during the holidays when he called but this was different. They were now face-to-face, in the flesh and for the first time in a very long time, Jace was truly speechless.

 Face to face and in the flesh after so long. It should have been a private moment, one less charged than this, this was his brother for Angel sakes, Alec couldn’t believe he was looking at him, hell, close enough to him to smell a slight hint of whatever soap or laundry detergent he had used. It was intense, heavy, and he should have at least known he was coming, but when Jace smiled at him, Alec couldn’t help but smile back. But at least twenty people were standing around them, and the supervisor, whose taser he had snatched as Jace was fighting with his co-workers, was standing almost between them.

 It was hard to get sappy during all of that.

 “Parker!”

 At the use of his alias, Alec’s head turned from Jace to the short man snatching his taser gun from his hands, and listened to him curse and rant and rave about crazy brothers and having family on the site, medical bills that would have to be paid and time that would be lost because men were knocked out and bleeding (Alec thought that was dramatic) and finally, as he expected, fire him.

 Fire him.

 “If you hadn’t been with me for so long I would have called the police!”

 Without a word to fight for his job, Alec walked past him, nodded to Jace and placed a hand on his shoulder as he guided him away from the site toward where he was parked.

 Jace just blinked at the mundane as he yelled at Alec, whatever he was saying was lost completely on Jace as Spanish? Not his thing. Alec and Izzy had always been better at picking up and using languages of that sort. Dead languages and a few demonic languages were his specialties but this? Nope. If Jace needed to say something that couldn’t be said with his fists then it usually didn’t need to be said by him. In this instance, though he probably should have remembered what his words were and tried to use them.

 Jace was still blinking owlishly when the police were mentioned, the grin still on his face when Alec directed them away from the crowd and towards, well, Jace wasn’t entirely certain where he was going but Alec was with him and that was all that mattered.

 As they came upon a truck that had Jace arching a brow he reached out and grabbed Alec’s arm, stopping him from going any further. Curiosity finally getting the best of him.

 “Parker?”

 “Alec Parker… After Peter Parker, like Spiderman. I couldn’t use my old Shadowhunter name.” 

 A lot had happened in the span of three minutes, and Alec wasn’t sure how he should deal with any of it. Jace had shown up at his workplace - former workplace - with a glowing bow, his old bow, that surely meant he had tracked him through a Warlock. Alec knew that he had taken care a long time ago to make sure that his family couldn’t, and he was confused about how that had happened. Unless… they had guessed where he was, generally. The tracking spells only worked within a certain range, and they must have hit it. How in the hell…? But it didn’t matter, did it? Jace was here now and that was unbelievable. 

 He looked at Jace for a full minute, silently, he broke his silence by clearing his throat, stepped forward and pulled Jace into a hug.

 Jace didn’t get a chance to roll his eyes or chide Alec for choosing a mundane comic book name that would have had Clary and Simon swooning with glee at it because one moment he was staring at his brother and the next moment he was hugging him. Jace was normally one who was very uncomfortable with displays like this but this was different. This was Alec and Jace didn’t hesitate to drop whatever it was he had been holding to hug him back, his breathing still coming out in quick pants as his heart tried to beat its way out of his chest.

 He had missed him. He had missed Alec in so many ways that he couldn’t even describe them. It wasn’t just the bond they had shared through their rune. He and Alec had always been bonded, long before the ceremony that put matching marks on their bodies took place. Alec had always seen him and he had never judged him. He had simply accepted him, taken him in and rolled with whatever baggage had come with him and there had been a lot. He had been so angry and closed off when he had first gone to the Institute in New York and Alec had never pushed him. Never questioned him. He had just accepted it and gone on and Jace hadn’t realized just how much that had meant to him until Alec was no longer there and he no longer had that quiet, constant understanding and support.

 Hugging Alec was the biggest relief ever. The phone calls that they had gotten once a year had been like giving a single sip of water to a man dying of thirst in the desert. It had satisfied him for that moment but it didn't take long for Jace to start missing him and needing that connection once more. And this? This was like getting the whole fucking ocean to drink in one go and Jace was determined to drown himself in it for as long as he could.

 "I fucking missed you," he said soft enough for just Alec to hear as his hold on him tightened.

 Breathy laughter escaped Alec at Jace’s words, and he pulled him closer. He had been so strong for so long, but this was too much. Seeing Jace broke him. The rules and the laws of the life he had been forced out of didn’t feel as important to him at this moment as they had when he had run away. Nothing else seemed to matter right then and there because for the first time, in a very long time, he didn’t feel like he was alone, like the people that had been his family weren’t just images on a screen and voices that he wouldn’t hear until next year when he called again. He had convinced himself that it was for their own good that he was gone, that he left them, for their future and the future of their children. Now, right now, he was selfishly questioning that.

 “How in the hell, Jace,” he said fondly, pulling back a little to look at him. “After - all this time, you’re here. I can’t believe this.”

 “You,” Jace began with as much sarcasm and disdain as he could muster, “told our very pregnant and hormonal sister where you were. And said pregnant and hormonal sister called me almost as soon as you hung up. It took me almost a week to get a warlock to help me, but, here I am so you better enjoy my beautiful and gorgeous face while you can because it’s not going anywhere. And when Izzy finds out that I came here without her, the fit she’s gonna throw is going to be epic. We should start getting popcorn ready now.”

 Pulling back, he offered Alec the most lopsided smile he could before stepping away, a hand running awkwardly through his hair.

 “Sorry. Bout that back there. I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

 Alec was glossy-eyed and all smiles, laughing a little too much because if he didn’t do that he might dissolve into tears. He might anyway. He felt them, they were just a breath and a voice crack away.

 “I didn’t - I didn’t tell her where I was… I called her -,” he had to think a minute. He remembered talking to her, he wasn’t that stupid drunk, but he remembered that he was careful, as usual, but it wasn’t important. They had figured it out, he had let something slip and the world hadn’t stopped turning because Jace had come to see him. He was moving to scan around Jace when he mentioned Izzy though because he was ready to die from how happy he was, but as Jace went on, he nodded with understanding and looked behind him at the already dispersed crowd instead.

 “Izzy looks like she’s waddling at this stage, so I doubt Simon will let her leave New York, for a little while at least. So you’re safe. For now,” he waved Jace’s apology off. “That’s typical Jace. No big deal. I have to go get my stuff, and if I didn’t have expensive tools in my belt, I’d leave it.”

 Jace was Jace, he couldn’t fault him for being himself.

 “Magnus wasn’t allowed here for the longest time and the distance between here and New York and New York and London were about the same? You totally told Izzy where you were and if you thought she wouldn’t figure it out you have no idea how desperate she’s been to see you. She wouldn’t care how pregnant she is if she knew I was coming she would have attached herself to me and never let me leave without her. Which is precisely why I left like I did. She can have her time later. This is my time.”

 Yes, it was sappy and girlish and completely unlike Jace but this was so surreal. Alec was there. Right there in front of him. He could feel him, see him, hear him and Jace honestly thought that was something that was never going to happen again and yet here they stood, staring at each other with stupid, goofy grins that he knew, at least on his end anyway, was hiding barely controlled tears. Whether they were tears of relief, sadness, anger, happiness or a combination of all of the above he didn’t know but he did know that they were present and just waiting for the right moment to spill over.

 “Let me drop my stuff so the Mundanes don’t have any more panic attacks and I’ll help you because it really wasn’t my intention to get you fired. I just-” Jace just sighed and shrugged as he picked up his bag off of the ground and tossed it into the bed of the truck. What more could he say other than he was sorry when honestly he and Alec both knew that he truly wasn’t sorry. He found Alec and that had been his main goal. Everything beyond that was just happenstance.

 “I honestly don’t remember saying any of that to her,” Alec did look confused, but he shrugged. “But I’d been drinking so, and that whole thing with Magnus had happened, maybe I did. Maybe - I don’t care. You’re here now and,” he could hear his voice quake and he cleared his throat to cover it. 

 He could have this. For a little while, he could have this. Magnus and his brother, and after some time, maybe their families could visit. Alec was tired of being alone, without his family, and it was selfish, the most selfish thing he had ever done, but he wanted this so badly. Just for a little while. All of them, together, just like they had been before. His heart skipped beats at just the thought alone, but it wouldn’t be for forever. There was no question anymore, after - after everything, he had to run again. But after he looked his fill at them, after he met the nieces and nephews he thought he’d never get the chance to. It would be harder this time, but - he had to. They were Shadowhunters and he was banished. Their entire lives depended on them not seeing him.

 “Like I said, typical Jace. It’s cool, I’ll find another job. I needed to take some time off anyway,” he held up a hand and shoved his keys and the bow he just realized he was still holding at Jace. How natural in his hands that bow had felt, he hadn’t even noticed it was there. “You stay here, there might be police or something and no - I won’t be too long, it’s not like I have more than a few things here anyway. Five minutes.”

 “Trust me, Izzy remembered. She called me at something like four in the morning babbling about it. If she hadn’t been crying I would have rolled my eyes and hung up on her, blaming her pregnancy hormones cause let me tell you you thought Izzy was hormonal before? Pregnant Izzy is a different story. And on the off chance that she was right, I acted as soon as I could. I’m glad I did. It has been far too long, brother.” Jace’s voice cracked at the word brother, the lopsided grin slipping off of his face for a moment as he stared at Alec, really stared at him. He’d seen him but this was so different. This - Jace didn’t even have the proper words for what this was. It was like everything that had been jumbled up inside of him was suddenly quiet for a moment and he could just stand still and be. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.

 Jace just stared at the keys for a moment as they were shoved at him, wondering what the hell he was supposed to do with them when it dawned him that Alec wanted him to start his truck. This was going to take some getting used to. Alec and his mundane life but Jace was determined to bask in every single aspect of it.

 “You sure?” He asked as he opened the passenger door and laid the bow on the seat inside. “You know I’m always up for the excitement of the mundane police variety.”

 “Too long is a really big understatement.” Alec was sure he was looking at Jace with schmoopy eyes at this point, but that was another thing he didn’t care about right now. Damnit, this was his brother. The only thing that could have made this better would be if Izzy waddled around the corner, but there was a part of him that was glad that didn’t happen, that all of this was coming slowly instead of hitting him all at once. He didn’t know if he could take that onslaught of emotions. “We’re calling Izzy when we get home because I can’t wait to tattle.” Not exactly when they get home, maybe not even today at all, tomorrow definitely though, at some point. Give Jace a stay of execution and let him see everything Peru had to offer.

 This is how it should have been with Magnus.

It was good now though, right?

 Alec suddenly laughed. “Yeah, still an idiot,” he shook his head as he backed away from the truck. “Five minutes and then we’re out of here.”

 Jace just rolled his eyes as the door slammed behind him and he turned back towards Alec, unable to keep the smile off of his face. If he could do so, Jace would have been dancing. His life was good, there was no denying that. Clary - his life with her was amazing and their children made it so much better. There had always been something missing though. Something that nagged at the corner of his mind that said things weren’t perfect and couldn’t be perfect and now that he was face to face with Alec everything felt complete. For the first time in a very long time, he felt complete and he knew that when this came to an end, when Alec insisted on following the rules, rules that no longer even applied to him, and pushed Jace away that that feeling would come creeping back in and Jace wasn’t ready for that. He would never be ready for that and he was going to put it off for as long as he possibly could.

 “You are a horrid, horrid brother and a horrid, horrid man. I can’t believe that you actually want to subject yourself to Izzy’s screeching because she is definitely going to screech. There will be no other way to describe the sound that is going to come from her and it will be all your fault. Just remember that when your ears are bleeding that it’s your fault.”

 Jace found himself standing next to Alec, itching to reach out and touch him and afraid that if he let Alec walk away from him, that if any sort of space was put between them that he wouldn’t see him again. Something would happen that would take Alec away from him and he wouldn’t get to see him. It was a completely irrational thought to have but Jace couldn’t help it.

 “You sure you don’t need help carrying anything?”

 Alec gave him a Cheshire grin. God, it felt good to be a bratty brother again. Not that he was ever bratty, but it felt good to tease his sibling, as though he did this on a daily basis. “My ears won’t be the ones bleeding - well, they might bleed, but she’ll be screeching at you. I wasn’t the one who went to Peru to secretly visit me without her. I’m the good one.”

 He saw Jace’s reluctance to let him walk away, and he could have laughed and shoved him back towards the truck, but Alec didn’t. He didn’t hesitate to act on something he’d been dying to all over again when they’d parted and Jace could just - hit him later. He reached out and tugged Jace to him, this time hugging him tighter and closer than he had before. And he held him there, he didn’t give him a choice in the matter anyway, he just held him tight and buried his face against his shoulder, he didn’t even realize when the tears started to wet Jace’s shirt.

 “I’ll get new stuff,” he said after a few minutes. He didn’t want to walk away either.

 Anything Jace could have said about Izzy and her voice died when Alec hugged him again and he didn’t even hesitate to hug him back, his arms wrapping around him tightly and comfortably and not even caring that anyone and everyone could see them. He needed this. He needed Alec and fuck if he was going to let him go - physically or metaphorically - if he didn’t have to. If it made him weak, it made him weak. He would take it and run with it for as long as he could.

 Logic told him to let Alec go, to let him go and get his stuff. He would be back. Alec wouldn’t break a promise and Jace was a grown-ass man. He could last for five minutes without Alec while he got his stuff and yet, Jace couldn’t let him go. Call him selfish, call him whatever you wanted he didn’t care. This was what they both needed and that was more than evident by the tears he could feel soaking through his shirt and the shaking breaths he found himself taking.

 “You sure?”

 “Yeah, I’m sure,” Alec loosened his hold and slipped his sunglasses back on to hide his eyes. “I’d rather stick with the brother I haven’t seen in a few years than - that. Come on, we can grab some dinner. I’ll call Tom and tell him we’ll be late and - yeah. I should show you around. We should catch up.”

Chapter Text

 

The sigh of contentment that came from Jace was bone-deep and completely and utterly happy. He and Alec had spent the day exploring the city that Alec had chosen as his home. Lunch was had from one of the hundreds of street carts they saw littered throughout the city and several beers purchased from random bars that were drunk as they walked and caught up, the sun beating down on their shoulders as they chose streets at random to go up and down before heading back to the place Alec called home as the sun began to dip below the horizon.

 Jace had no idea how Alec managed to snag a roommate that could cook but between Alec and Jace they had managed to finish off every last tamale that had been in the fridge as well as all of the stew that had been made before grabbing several beers from the fridge and heading out to the porch.

 The silence that had settled over them as they drank and watched night descend upon the Earth was one of familiar comfort and it made Jace realize just how much he had missed this - Alec's quiet but steady presence at his side and it was enough to make tears threaten to fall once more. He had done enough crying as it was so before more tears could fall he brought his bottle to his lips and took a long drink, glancing at Alec out of the corner of his eye. They had been skirting around certain subjects all day long while they caught but Jace was done being subtle and avoiding certain topics.

 With a grin, his feet thumped on the rail and he turned to look at Alec and said,

 "So, Magnus?"

 Aside from being fired and Jace possibly being wanted for several assault charges, the day had turned out to be an astoundingly great one. He’d shown Jace around the city, given him the full tourist treatment, and had food that in his past he would have considered questionable because of where it had come from but he now ate from with surprising regularity. He’d even gotten a few souvenir type things that he was going to send back to New York when Jace went.

The best part of it all was that he was with his brother. After his emotional breakdown and the tear stains left on Jace’s shoulder, the rest of the day had been filled with the ease and the comfort that his Parabatai - former Parabatai - had often brought. It was like nothing had changed. Twelve years hadn’t passed and the camaraderie they had once shared was with them again.

 Sitting back on his front porch after pretty much demolishing the leftovers that were in his refrigerator felt as second nature and familiar feeling as breathing, and this week had been full of a lot of that. Familiar and good, and he was going to saturate himself in the feelings until they were taken away from him. 

 “Magnus,” Alec looked over at Jace when the comfortable silence that had fallen between them was interrupted by the pair of words. What could he say, though? That they text each other every ten minutes like teenagers? That Magnus is like fire and Alec has been cold for too long? That he has a boyfriend in London and all they are and will be is friends? “He’s - Magnus. Same Magnus. He’s a good friend and I’m glad that we got to clear the air between us.”

 “Alec,” Jace began, the look on his face betraying his words before they ever came out of his mouth, “You and Magnus had never been just friends. You don’t call your sister outside of your strict calling timezone and pattern having a meltdown over someone who is just a friend. And if you think you’re going to protect me by not telling me anything, I’ve already threatened the man on several different occasions. There really is no protecting him from me or vice versa. So I say once more - so, Magnus.”

 “I was drunk, drunk and panicking because we - I had just gotten into this screwed up argument with him. That’s why I called Izzy, I wasn’t having a meltdown,” Alec took a sip of his beer and shrugged at Jace, but he moved his head and took a defensive pose. “We made up. Talked it out and we’re okay. We’re just friends.”

 “Have you ever been just friends before? What makes now so different from before?”

To anyone else, it might have seemed like Jace was pushing something that shouldn’t have been pushed but he had seen Alec hurt before. He had seen the fallout and devastation of Alec knowing, associating with and loving Magnus and he would be damned if he let his brother be hurt like that again. It didn’t matter that Magnus had magic and could just snap his fingers and make Jace go away if he wanted to, now that Jace knew where Alec was and could get to him easily, he was going to protect his brother in whatever way that he could. Jace was reckless with his entire life but Alec was the ultimate form of reckless where Magnus was concerned.

 “Twelve years makes it different. The fact that I’ve grown up makes it different,” Maybe not as much of an adult as he’d argue, “He thinks I’m seeing somebody, and he’s seeing somebody. It’s - just - shut up. That’s why Jace. I’m not dealing with it again. So, Magnus.” 

 He was silent for a minute before he looked back over at Jace. “And why are you attacking him? What’s going on there? Izzy said he’s been gone from New York for a few years.”

 If there was one thing Jace had never done where Alec was concerned it was holding back. He had always been the one person in Jace's life with whom he could be brutally honest with and it not affect their relationship and that aspect of Jace had not changed in the years that they had been apart.

 "I've met you, Alec. You're the boy who the first person you met, really met, you fell head over heels for and in the end, he broke your heart. I refuse to see that happen again. I refuse to see you run again or see you live on your own because you’re heartbroken and you don't know how to handle that and I absolutely refuse with every single fiber of my being to allow Magnus to be the one to do such a thing to you.

 "Again."

 He just snorted, rolled his eyes and took a deep drink from his beer, draining his bottle the rest of the way before continuing.

 "I didn't attack him. I threatened him. Big difference."

 “First of all, Magnus wasn’t the first person I met, he wasn’t my first 'big gay crush’ and - I didn’t just fall for him for no reason. You don’t know everything that you think you know. Magnus was my person the one, and that’s why I fell for him like that, and I’ve never, not once, felt like that again. Not because I got burned, not because there was a lack of anyone, but because I was lucky enough to meet and have him at a young age. I wasn’t lucky that it ended the way it did, but - it happened. It was an experience, and now it’s over. It took a long time, but we evolved enough to be friends. I’m way past wanting anything like what we had in my life anymore. I don’t want an all-consuming, free-falling, love of a lifetime anymore. I like having a friend. He said that he’s still in love with me, but we were fighting and he hasn’t repeated it, so I think that was just a slip.”

 Yeah, he’d heard that. It had been a tiny string of words that had haunted his every waking moment, but he didn’t know what to do about it. It hadn’t been said again and - why put any stock into something like that? Alec didn’t even know what he was talking about anymore, but - oh well.

Those thoughts were there and Jace was listening and being his usual dickish self, so he was going to spew words and thoughts and whatever else he was feeling, at him. He knew he wouldn’t be judged for it. It was a safe place and there was no anger between them. He took a deep breath and went to drink from his bottle again, but pouted slightly when he saw that it was empty.

“Fine, threaten then. Why did you threaten him? I thought you were friends.”

 “That is my whole point. He’s your person. Your one. Do you really think friends is something you’re going to be able to do?”

Jace loved Alec dearly but he had doubts that even after all of this time that his brother would be able to have just a friendship with Magnus. Alec very much had blinders of sorts on where Magnus was concerned. He wasn’t blaming him for that for if the truth were told he would be the exact same way with Clary if he were in Alec’s shoes, but he knew his brother and he worried now that Magnus had somehow miraculously managed to worm his way back into Alec’s life.

 “He’s still in love with you and you think-” He just sighed heavily as he reached for another beer that sat in the bucket between them and twisted the cap off easily, taking another deep drink as he tried to figure out how best to protect his brother. Alec in trouble was something he couldn’t stand the thought of, especially with him in another country as far away as he was and now that Magnus was back? Jace did not doubt trouble was coming Alec’s way and settling itself firmly in his lap and he couldn’t let that happen. 

 “Because,” he began as he shifted in his chair, feet falling off of the railing they had been propped up on and yanked down the collar of the shirt he wore, an angry red scar where his parabatai rune use to be shining like a bright beacon. “You weren’t the only one left with scars after your deruning ceremony. Not to mention the fucker decided to deconsecrate the Institute as a last fuck you to the Clave when he left for London. Which, granted, was funny when you watched how the Clave reacted and handled it but it was still a giant pain in the ass.”

As much as Jace wanted to be angry at Magnus, he couldn’t help but grin at the memory of the Clave panicking about one of their institutes being left vulnerable and thinking that an angry hoard of demons was going to bust down the door at any single moment. They had reacted like the world was going to end and the rest of them had just carried on like they had every single day that had preceded that one. Before Jace could say anything else, Alec’s phone buzzed from where it was sitting on the table and Jace just arched a brow as though to say who the fuck is that? as he took another drink from his beer.

 “Just because someone is the love of your life doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to last. Ours didn’t. And,” he dragged the word out a little bit as he tried to think of how to put it. With what he had just said it was clear that he still had strong feelings for Magnus, that he was still in love. “He’ll always be it for me. I won’t put myself out there again like that though, it was hard enough the first time, so I’m very happy that he’s back in my life. It took way too long for us to get here.”

 Alec ignored what Jace had started to say when he didn’t finish and capped his empty bottle and set it at his feet, looking over at the sudden move Jace made when he lifted his shirt. “I - never said you didn’t have scars too,” he sighed as he looked at the one Jace showed him on his chest, and it was almost too much. “I hate that that happened to you. I’m sorry that that happened to you.”

 He was in the mood for something harder now definitely, and he knew there were bottles of whiskey in various states of fullness in a couple of places in his living room. He went inside to get one, leaving the door open so he could still hear Jace. He was laughing, but Alec didn’t seem to find what he was saying as amusing as Jace did.

 Not at first, anyway. Nothing bad had happened with the deconsecration, Jace had said so, and maybe it was kind of funny. Screw them. They probably fixed it the next day after they found out anyway.

 “Wait, how do you deconsecrate something? Is that even a thing you can do?” he laughed as he leaned against the frame of the door, opening the bottle he retrieved from in the house. His phone buzzed again with a message alert coming through and he stepped forward and grabbed it from the table as he sat back down.

 “Speak of the devil,” his grin couldn’t be hidden as his thumb moved over the icon to view the message. “It’s Magnus.”

 Jace was grateful when Alec didn’t look closer at the scar on his chest for he wasn’t sure how he would have explained the scar that remained in the crude form of their parabatai rune. After Alec had left, Jace had gone through a period that no one wanted to talk about and that no one did talk about. He hadn’t just been reckless but had been self-destructive as well. His parabatai connection hadn’t been severed in the normal ways. His parabatai hadn’t died, he’d been cruelly and forcefully ripped away from him and that sudden absence and loss had spent Jace spiraling.

Clary had found him one night, blade in hand and blood running down his chest after a misguided thought had told him that if he tried hard enough he could get that connection back. It was something that none of them talked about again because if they tried, Jace just shut down and walked away. Luckily his brother still knew when not to press. Eventually he would probably have to explain himself but for now, he was just going to let it go and enjoy his beer.

 “It’s not your fault,” he called after Alec, spinning in his chair awkwardly so he could watch Alec, “And what happened with Magnus wasn’t either but Alec, can you honestly say that you feel absolutely nothing for him? That you are completely satisfied with just being friends? I only ask because if he does something that upsets you or things go bad again that I won’t hold back. Not this time. I will carry through on my threat to him. You deserve so much more than that and I’ll be damned if I let him hurt you again.”

 He just shrugged as he motioned towards the whiskey, taking it when it was handed to him and took a drink before handing it back to Alec and picking his beer up once more.

 “No idea but he did it. The Clave was furious. I’m pretty sure they sent a strongly worded letter to him but I really don’t know. By then Clary was handling everything to do with the Clave and all I got was second-hand information. Magnus had told everyone beforehand though cause the moment it was done, several vampires literally went streaking through the Institute, giving several people heart attacks. That I found pretty funny.”

 The eye roll that came from Jace when Alec said it was Magnus was strong enough that Alec probably felt it. He worried about his brother, a great deal. Magnus had hurt him once already and he was greatly worried about such a thing happening again, especially with what Alec had just told him. He trusted Alec but he didn’t trust Magnus in the least.

 “Tell him I still hate him and the threat still stands.”

 It is my fault. Call him a coward, but Alec couldn’t handle facing the reality of what losing their Parabatai rune would have done to Jace. Not physically. He couldn’t look at it for more than a few seconds because it killed him to know that he was the cause of it. Jace would have a rune there instead of an ugly scar if it weren’t for him, if he’d chosen someone else or no one at all. And mentally, mentally, he had never mentioned what he had been thinking then and Alec had been too self-absorbed at the time to even ask. He did have an idea, maybe one that wouldn’t make Jace feel better about what was lost, but maybe it was something they could both look back on - if Jace wanted to do it, that is. Alec would have to think and decide if it was something he might be open to.

 “It kind of is my fault what happened with Magnus, and definitely with you. I was in talks to essentially have him killed, and you - I left you high and dry and all scarred up because - because I don’t know. Pride, maybe,” he cleared his throat. “But yeah, I’ll be fine with this thing with Magnus. He has to go back to London, and I’m going to be here, so it’ll be fine.”

 Alec leaned back in his chair and took another long draw from the bottle Jace handed back to him and set it on the table between them as he started to reply to the text.

 “A strongly worded letter from the Clave doesn’t sound very Clave-like,” he snorted a laugh. “He probably had that pre-arranged with the vampires. Magnus always had a flair for the dramatic and that sounds like him. Did they reconsecrate the building?”

 “Magnus should have been man enough to realize what you were trying to do. Did you go about it in the wrong way? Sure, a case could be made for that but in the end, your heart was in the right place. It was always in the right place where he was concerned and he was just too much of a fucking ass to see and realize that and in the end? In the end, his stupidity cost everyone something, not just him. He could pretend that he was hurt the most but whatever he was feeling was nothing compared to what you went through and what you were feeling. If he dares to say otherwise I will punch him squarely in the face and then some.”

 It didn’t matter how much time passed, Jace was forever going to be angry with Magnus over how everything had gone and over everything that had happened. If the warlock had just opened his mouth rather than ran away with his tail tucked between his legs then maybe, just maybe, things would have gone differently. Maybe Alec wouldn’t have run, maybe they wouldn’t have lost years, maybe he wouldn’t have lost his brother. Magnus had been a selfish fuck and in the end, it had cost Jace, Izzy and more importantly, Alec, everything and if there was one thing Jace did well, it was holding grudges. This grudge wasn’t going to go anywhere any time soon.

 “You do know that this is Magnus we’re talking about here, right? That man doesn’t do anything logically nor does he do anything by the book or by the rules. Do you really think he would start doing such a thing now?”

 Jace just shrugged as he popped the top on another beer, tossing the cap aside but just holding onto the beer for a moment. “What else could the Clave do? As much as I hate Magnus right now and as much as I hated him then, he was the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Doing anything more than that to someone with so much power and who was as popular as Magnus was amongst the warlock crowd would have put the entire Clave at risk and that connection with the warlock community was something they couldn’t risk.

 “The vampires though made them hesitate. There were grumblings and rumblings but I think they just let it go and sent an official message from the Clave to him. Clary would know for certain. I wasn’t speaking with the Clave at that time. I was present when they reconsecrated the institute. But that was because I had never seen such a thing before and the last time we saw so many Silent Brothers in one place was after the final battle when everyone was hurt.”

 “Think about it like this, Jace. If someone you love - say Clary - comes at you to kill you, not outright or to your face, but behind your back. And she uses one of your oldest enemies to do it, someone that could do it, had the know-how to do it, and she was just so desperate to kill you, to end your life that she didn’t think anything of doing what she was asked to do, she’d pay anything to have what she wanted done. Tell me, would you think her heart was in the right place? Would you forgive her for wanting you to die? Or would you be so hurt that the person you love the most was plotting your eventual death?”

Alec rolled his eyes. “And you’re not going to punch him in the face or any of his other body parts, Jace. You’re going to be nice if you see him here.”

 The screwed up part about it was that Alec kind of felt like Magnus felt as guilty as, or even guiltier than he did about what had happened, and he suspected that Magnus wouldn’t use his magic or any of his other warlock skills, and would just stand there and let Jace hit him. Because maybe he felt like he deserved it.

 “Magnus gets shit done,” Alec said looking back down as his phone buzzed in his hands. “Whether it’s justified or stupid, or just something that amuses him, you can’t say he doesn’t know how to get things done. There’s no telling where any of us would be if he hadn’t helped us out back when we were - back then.”

 “That must’ve been cool to watch, having the Institute consecrated. The Silent Brothers always kind of creeped me out but I would have liked to see so many gathered to do something like that,” Alec paused for a minute and looked over at Jace. “You aren’t pissed at Magnus because I left, right? You do know Magnus wasn’t the reason that I left or went so far away - he actually had very little to do with me leaving home and going to another country.”

 “Honestly? She wouldn’t be breathing right now. I would have run her through with my sword and left her for dead. We both know though that you’re more level headed then I am. And, I don’t take betrayal very well so asking me that question probably isn’t the best of ideas cause I don’t know how to handle things like that. My response has always been to handle things with violence and whatever happens after the dust settles doesn’t concern me.”

Jace made to shrug his shoulders once more but the yawn that split his face in half interrupted the motion. He hadn’t realized until then just how tired he was getting but he was hesitant to sleep. What if he slept and Alec disappeared while he was sleeping? Or what if he woke only to find that this? All of this - the fight, Alec getting fired, their reunion, the day spent together and their time together after dinner - was nothing more than a dream? Jace didn’t think that he could handle such a thing. Devastated was an understatement for what he would have felt to wake and find all of this to be a dream.

 “I’m not saying he wasn’t useful, cause he was and we probably would have been far worse off without his help against Sebastian but that doesn’t mean I excuse his behavior or the way he handled things with you. He was a coward, plain and simple and in the end when he couldn’t get what he wanted and things didn’t go his way, he packed up and ran away with his tail between his legs. For that, he will always be a coward in my eyes.”

 “I’m pissed cause he was a giant fucking coward who threw a child-sized tantrum and expected everyone to feel sorry for him. I do not and will not ever feel sorry for him. He should have been an adult and handled things better than he did. Do you expect me to believe though that he had every little to do with it all? You came to Peru, Alec. Tell me that he had absolutely nothing to do with that decision.” 

 “So, in your own words, something like that is a betrayal that you would kill your wife for. In your own words, paraphrased, your reaction to what I did would be way worse than the way Magnus reacted. And you still think what he did was shitty, Jace?”

 Alec was trying to understand, more than he had before. He hadn’t really had anyone around to ask a question like he had just asked, before. He didn’t like thinking of what he had done as a betrayal, but it was. And the answer that Jace had given him in the hypothetical Clary situation made him see that more clearly. It also made him realize how lucky he was that Magnus wanted to try with him. 

 “He handled everything with me in the most mature way that I can imagine. I didn’t think that when I was younger, I thought he was an idiot and cruel and a whole bunch of other things that my broken heart wanted me to think. But it’s different now, I can take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. I was wrong. I did him wrong. Not to say I don’t still get mad, but there’s no skirting around what I did. What am I in your eyes?”

 “The only reason I came to Peru was because I knew then that I’d never see him again here. When I left, I had already planned to go to another country because I knew that if I were closer, or if I had stayed in the US, that this, you finding me, would have happened way sooner than it did, and I couldn’t risk your careers or lives on something like that. I was going to go a lot further than Peru,” he reached over and slapped Jace’s knee as he sat forward. “You should go to bed. That yawn you made a few minutes ago almost made me sleepy.”

 “You are asking the wrong person these questions, Alec. We both know that I have the emotional range of a teaspoon and how I respond to betrayal and how others respond are two very different things. But yes, if it had been me I would have murdered for such a thing.”

Jace didn’t know what else to tell him. How he handled things, especially things of the emotional variety wasn’t even remotely normal or even close to how others did. He had been raised vastly different than the rest and in Valentine’s eyes, betrayal was worthy of death. Jace had grown up believing that and honestly, it had never really gone away. It had lessened over the years especially after Alec and Izzy and later on, Clary had entered into his life but it had never truly gone away.

 “He’s what, a million years old? You’re telling me that in all of that time he never learned how to deal with or handle betrayal better than he did? I don’t believe that. He was supposed to be the adult, the mature one and the way he handled things-”

Jace just shrugged at Alec. His hatred of Magnus ran deep and it wasn’t going to lessen any time soon. Not even with Alec having forgiven him and welcomed him back into his life. It was a huge mistake as far as Jace was concerned, but Alec was a grown-ass man and if this was what he wanted, well then, Jace was at least going to stick around for a while to make sure that this decision didn’t come back to bite Alec in the ass.

 “You’re my brother. You’re Alec. You have a heart bigger than anyone I have ever met and that makes you capable of the most incredible things but it also makes it so that you forgive when you shouldn’t. My thoughts on Magnus are skewed and are probably going to be such a thing for quite some time so I’m really not the best one to ask where things are concerned with this matter.

 “That being said, if this is what you really want, if this is what will make you happy, if this is what makes things better for and with you then I’m not going to say anything. You are grown enough to make your own decisions but I worry about you. And I worry about what Magnus can do to you.”

 “Screw our careers, Alec. Izzy and I both told you that you mattered more to us than the Clave or their damn rules did. We would have kept you safe. Things would have been semi ok. I can’t say that they would have been perfect but at least we would have been together.” Jace just snorted and rolled his eyes. “What’s further than Peru? Antarctica? Gonna live with the penguins were you?” Anything else Jace could have said though was cut off by another yawn as Alec teased him about sleeping. As much as he didn’t want to, Jace knew he wasn’t going to make it much longer. It had been a long day, physically and emotionally, and sleep actually sounded like a good idea.

 “You just want to get rid of me so you can make schmoopy eyes at Magnus.”

 “It’s the same thing, Jace. I was asking what you would have done in Magnus’ shoes, and you said you would have killed your wife, which is a lot more than Magnus did to me. I’m not defending what he did or saying how you feel should be discounted, but just - maybe you should try to think about it in another light. I dunno. You’re not going to no matter what I say anyway so, I guess just don’t try to kill him or whatever you’re going to do. He can’t break my heart again, and I’m totally aware of what I’m getting into. I just - can’t not have some of him back in my life now that he’s here.”

 Alec glanced down at his phone and laughed, feeling himself turn red by the end of the messages. Thank Raziel it was dark and hopefully Jace couldn’t make it out.

 “Japan is actually further, and that was my first choice of places to go. Whether you were or not I was worried, I wanted you and Iz to have what I couldn’t have anymore. Shadowhunting was our life, and it was our lives since birth. You’re both impulsive, as we see, and if I had gone to New Jersey or Orlando, you would have suffered the same fate as I did.”

 “I don’t make schmoopy eyes at anyone, ever, so shut up,” Alec grinned as he scrolled up to reread his messages from Magnus, then turned back to Jace. “Come on. I’ll tuck you in. Tomorrow we’ll go to the beach or something.”

 “Don’t worry, big brother, his nether regions are safe from me…..for now. The first time he hurts you or the first time you look upset-” The threat was left hanging in the air and they both knew that Jace wouldn’t hold back. His siblings were the most important people in the world to him and while Jace could appear aloof and distant most of the time, he’d kill to protect Alec and Izzy and he wouldn’t think twice about it. All it would take is Alec to breathe wrong and Jace would hunt Magnus down. He wouldn’t do it now, for Alec’s sake but there would come a day, he was certain of it, where he would have to do such a thing.

 “Did you actually have enough to get to Japan? Izzy and I both know what you left with. She was meticulous about going through your things after you left and we wondered how far you were going to get, how you would make it, what would happen. You tried to protect us but honestly Alec? It did more harm than good. Neither of us blames you - I blame Magnus and Izzy, you know how Izzy is - but the worry was real. We never even thought to check here. Doesn’t matter now though. We found you, we know where you are and you are never getting rid of us again.”

 “Oh yeah?” Jace began as he rose to his feet, stumbling a bit until he got his footing under him properly. He had drunk more today than he did in an entire month but it had been well worth it. He had his brother again finally and that? That made up for anything he might have been feeling at that moment. “The look on your face and the red cheeks say otherwise but it’s ok sweetheart, your secret is safe with me. All I need you to do is point me towards the couch and a pillow and blanket and I’ll be good to go.”

 “He won’t hurt me, I’m more aware of things now than I was back then. And like I said, I’m not into relationships anymore, so I don’t know why you would even think anything like that. I’ll be fine. We’re just friends, and one day maybe you two can be friends again too.”

 Doubtful, but that was going to be one of Alec’s Christmas wishes. It was suddenly so unreal to him that he was close enough to hear Jace and smell the too-much beer he drank throughout the day. Seriously though, he couldn’t believe he was here. Jace had been with him all day and he was still a little bit stunned to be so close to him.

 “I had enough to come here, buy this land and build this house on it. So yeah, I had enough to get to Japan. I’d only been saving my money my entire life, that’s all. Why would you think I would just run off with nothing? I’ve always been careful. And it kinda paid off. I did protect you and Izzy when I left like that, so, it did pay off. It was hard, really hard, but you know, t he law is hard.”

 Alec purposely didn’t respond to Jace’s last comment about Alec never getting rid of them again, he couldn’t. That would shatter the illusion he’d made for himself too and he wasn’t ready to do that just yet. Not again. He ignored the buzzing of his phone when he saw Jace getting up and stumbling as he did. Alec caught him under the arms to right him a little as he helped him into the house.

 “You’re an idiot,” Alec laughed. “And you can take my room. I already changed the sheets and stuff when you were in the shower earlier, so it’s nice and fresh and waiting for you to crawl in. I’ll take the couch, or probably the hammock on the porch. It’s a nice night.”

 “I wouldn’t push the friend's thing, but, I will be as civil as I can for you. That’s all I can promise.” If it were anyone else Jace wouldn’t have promised anything. Hell, he hadn’t even made that sort of promise to Clary where Simon was concerned when they had started dating. Alec trumped everyone though and if his being civil to Magnus was important and would make Alec happy then he would at least attempt civility. Jace couldn’t guarantee how well it would go but he would at least try for Alec.

 “Honestly? Cause you were hurt and not just physically and at that time you were single-minded and all you could talk about and think about was getting away. Izzy and I both worried, especially when we didn’t hear from you for months. I was on the verge of starting a worldwide manhunt when you finally called us. You can be as determined as you want to be to keep us all apart because of the Clave but Izzy and I don’t care. You mean more than the Clave does and if they want to punish us, so be it. Let them. We honestly don’t care. The law can kiss my well-muscled ass.”

 The grin on Jace’s face as he wrapped an arm lazily around Alec was lopsided and goofy and it felt good, really good, to be able to do such a thing with Alec. It didn’t matter that his head was starting to swim or that he was fairly certain he was going to puke before the night was out, getting to spend the day with Alec once more was well worth whatever was going to come his way for having drunk like he did.

 “Yeah but you love me anyway and I love you so that negates anything and everything else.” Under different circumstances Jace would have fought harder with Alec about him giving up his bed but now that he was up and they were moving, he couldn’t find the words to do such a thing.

 “Do you want me to tuck you in?”

 “I was hurt, but I was in my right mind. I decided weeks before they took my marks that I was going to leave. It wasn’t impulsive. Deciding where I would go was impulsive, but I already knew that I would have to go, and go far away.”

 Getting Jace inside and to his bed was a little harder than Alec had initially thought it would be with Jace and his frequent stops and starts and want to keep talking; it was almost like he didn’t want to let Alec go. There was part of Alec that could empathize with the notion, but he knew that the day had to end and he was confident that they would wake up tomorrow and see that this had not been a dream. He wisely kept quiet again as Jace talked about not caring about what the Clave thought and what Izzy and he deemed more important.

Out of all of that, Alec was the only one shunned, the only one who, it seemed, could tuck his emotions down way deep for the greater good of his family. Especially now. There were spouses and children to care about being shunned, too. Children, that if he remembered correctly, were already learning Demon languages and the Shadowhunter way of life. Children that in a year or two would pick the weapons that would guide them and stay with them throughout their whole lives. No, he had made the right choice when he left and stayed far away. Missing his family was an understatement because he did, every single day, but Alec was also confident that he had made the right choice.

 “Yeah, yeah, I guess I might love you,” he smiled at Jace and kissed his temple at his declaration of love, just before he let him go to collapse on the bed beneath them. “How would you even tuck me in? I offered to tuck you in first, and I’m tucking you in,” Sort of. He got Jace’s boots unlaced and removed, and Jace under the covers, at least partially, but he looked cozy like he was. So Alec figured his job was done and turned to the dresser to retrieve some shorts and a sleeping shirt so he could change himself.

 Jace just snorted in reply to Alec about his having already decided to leave. If Jace had had his way he would have packed up everything and ran away with Alec. Being shunned and wanted would have been worth it for it would have meant that Alec wouldn’t have been deruned and he wouldn’t have had to have gone this entire time without his brother. He was fairly certain that Clary would have thrown an epic fit but without having a parabatai, she didn’t know what it was like to have that connection ripped away as violently as it had been.

 A grunt came from Jace as he dropped down onto the bed, the springs groaning in protest from his added weight and as soon as his shoes were off he ripped off his shirt, tossing it into a corner before flopping back onto the bed.

 “If you disappear by morning, I’m going to be super pissed and I will kick your ass when I find you again.” His words came out slurred as he pulled a pillow to him, bunching it up under his head as he glanced at Alec out of one eye.

 “Don’t disappear.”

 “I’m not disapp-,” Alec turned around but cut his words short when he realized Jace was already snoring into a pillow. Yeah, Magnus had the lightweight part right. He slipped into the bathroom in his room to change his clothes and brush his teeth and leave the light on, the door slightly ajar as he left the rest of his room in darkness. In case Jace woke up in the middle of the night he wouldn’t kill himself in the pitch-black unfamiliar room trying to feel his way around.

 


 

 M: Tell me your night is going better than mine. Ragnor has been whining for the last hour about having found a single piece of glitter on his cheek and now his world as he knows it has been destroyed.

 

 A: Mm, just a single piece, Magnus? Randomly on his cheek? You forget that I know you and your glitter habit well.

A: My night is going great, actually. Jace showed up today and we’ve been catching up ever since.

 

M: Just a single piece. I really have no idea how it got there or even how long it had been there but Ragnor is having a meltdown. It’s hilarious. He’s been on a tirade now for an hour and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

M: Jonathan is here? Are you alright? Is everyone else alright? How’d he find you?

 

A: If you had nothing to do with the placement, which is kind of ehh maybe, Ragnor is probably just used to you and waiting for the big glitter net to open up over him. Pre-emptive bitching?

A: Yeah, everything’s fine. They’re all fine. I just apparently run my mouth to Izzy when I’m drunk.

A: Kinda happy that I do.

A: Oh, Jace says his threats still stand or whatever. What’s that all about?

 

M: Darling, just about everything I own is covered in glitter. For all I know, Ragnor has been snooping through my closet and a piece just jumped out and attached itself to him. I am completely innocent in all of the wrongdoings he is accusing me of.

M: I can only imagine the happiness you’re feeling right now. I know how important your siblings are you to.

 

{several moments after his first two replies.}

M: He said that did he? You can tell him that there is only one Lightwood allowed to touch my balls, and he is not it.

 

A: Am I going to show up over there one day and find Ragnor wearing your clothes? Do I have that to look forward to?

A: Because to be honest nobody wears your stuff the way you do.

A: I’m very happy. I wish for a sister but she’s pregnant and in New York. We have to tell her tomorrow that Jace managed to find me and came on his own.

A: Yeah? Which Lightwood is that, Izzy? Pretty sure she’s a Lewis now though.

 

M: With Ragnor you never know. He may be looking for the tamest thing in my closet, which, as we both know, doesn’t exist so it’ll take him a while to find it.

M: That’s because it’s all tailor-made. Of course, no one else could wear it like I do. Although, I recall several of my shirts looking much better on a certain blue-eyed beauty.

M: Isabelle is pregnant? Congratulations to her. I will not be present for that conversation though. Her reaction is not going to be present and I’d rather my ears not bleed.

M: Mm, there is a certain blue-eyed beauty with slender fingers who knows exactly what to do with them.

 

A: Tell him he can come to search my closet. Nearly everything in there is a decade old and very tame. And there’s no glitter.

A: You know I forgot that I wore your shirts sometimes. I secretly enjoyed that. Everything always smelled just like you and I loved it. It was like we were together when we weren’t.

A: You and Jace are both afraid of the screeching. Is it bad that I’m looking forward to it?

A: Blue-eyed beauty? Calm down, warlock. You have a boyfriend. I’ll let you look at my fingers though if you want. After Jace goes to bed you can even come over and hang out if you want.

 

M: Darling, does your wardrobe consist of any color other than black yet? It may be tame and it may be right up Ragnor’s alley, but he still enjoys color and last time I looked, you seemed to be allergic to color.

M: I didn’t. I dream about you in my shirts. Mornings on the balcony with you wrapped up in one, glitter dancing in the morning light and that sleepy grin you always wore when I brought coffee. They’re some of the better dreams I have.

M: Considering it’s probably been years since you last saw your sister, it’s not, no.

M: I do and he’s lovely but he’s not you. He could never be you. I know that’s harsh to say but it’s true. Is that really a good idea? I know Jonathan isn’t that fond of me and I don’t want to ruin whatever reunion is taking place between the two of you.

 

A: Hey, my swim-trunks are blue. There weren’t any other colors or designs that I liked at the shop so I just got those. I had a red pair too, but I was disgraced by a wave and they’re gone far away now.

A: I sound like a different person, I guess I was back then.

A: You dream about me, Magnus? Still?

A: I might be helping Jace to bed in a few. I’ll be on the front porch for a while after that, so… feel free to hop over or we can maybe talk on the phone for a little while.

 

M: Alexander, did you just allude to the fact that an oceanic wave depantsed you? Is there photographic proof or evidence of this lovely happening?

M: There is absolutely nothing wrong with change, My Alexander. Nothing at all.

M: On a nightly basis. I never stopped.

M: I would much rather hear your voice in person. Let me know when Jonathan the lightweight is down for the night.

 

A: There were a few people on the beach that day as I did my walk of shame. If there are pictures I don’t have any. You’ll just have to imagine it.

A: I’ll ask you what you dream about when you get here.

A: Which should be soon. Jace is in bed.

 

M: That is an absolute crime, Alexander. A sight as lovely as that one should have been preserved for the rest of time. And darling? There was absolutely no way that that walk was at all shameful.

M: I tried not to dream at first but gave up after a while.

M: Shall I come now or wait a few more minutes for the princess to fall fast asleep?

 

A: You’re making me blush, Magnus. And again, you shouldn’t think about my hot body when you have a boyfriend waiting for you in London.

A: I dreamed about you too for a while. Until I started drinking.

A: Then I didn’t remember my dreams anymore.

A: Oh Magnus.

A: We’re not sneaking around.

A: Friends having a beer and weird convo.

A: Come here.

 


 

“Hello, Alexander.” Magnus’ voice came from behind Alec as the portal closed behind him with a soft woosh. He didn’t see the need to send another text when the open invitation to visit stood and instead had simply slipped on his shoes and without a second thought given stepped into a portal and then out again onto Alec’s porch.

 “I take it our lightweight princess has finally said his goodnights?”

Alec had almost forgotten about Tom. He was so busy teasing Magnus about the relationship he had that he’d forgotten the one he’d made up. Did Magnus ever get suspicious that he spent more time with him than he did with his ‘boyfriend’? He jumped a little when he heard Magnus’ voice sound behind him.

 “Jace is in bed,” he said, turning and pocketing his phone. He grabbed a couple of the beer bottles in the bucket of ice and handed one to Magnus. “I can go and get him for you if you’d rather not be alone with me.”

 Magnus flashed him a brilliant grin as he took the beer from Alec, noting how close the other man was. So close that he could smell the musk and the hint of whatever soap and shampoo Alec used and it made Magnus miss the days when his boy smelled like the sandalwood soap that Magnus used and had used for the last however many years it had been. It was enough that it made Magnus want to drag him into the nearest shower and make sure that Alec never smelled of anything else again. That was a dangerous thought to have and with a slight shake of his head took a step around Alec, putting a bit of space between them.

 “Mm, no, that is quite alright my Alexander. I much rather prefer your company to his. That and I’d hate to have to smack him because he made an attempt on my nether regions. Sleeping beauty is just fine wherever he passed out.” With a snap of his fingers, one of the chairs on Alec’s porch elongated into a love seat of sorts and Magnus sat down, patting the space beside him.

 “Sit. We can talk for a bit? Or just sit and enjoy the night. Perhaps watch whatever show the stars are about to put on?” He grinned wickedly as he wiggled his fingers, purple sparks leaping from finger to finger to indicate that Magnus was going to be the show to watch.

 Alec hadn’t meant to get that close, to stand nearly chest to chest with Magnus without touching, but that was where he’d found himself, and without even thinking he had taken another step forward to close the gap between them. Magnus had always had the most beautiful, most unique eyes… He snapped out of whatever daze he was in when Magnus moved, and suddenly he was moving and talking and the chair was transformed.

 “A loveseat, Magnus?” Alec snorted as he sat down and removed the cap from his beer. He was notably far from Magnus now, seated on the opposite end of the loveseat from him, but turned to face him so that he could still watch and talk to the other man with ease.

 “So, what kind of show do I get to watch?”

 The disappointment he felt when Alec sat on the opposite end of the loveseat was real but at the same time, it was probably a good thing. Being this close to him again after all this time was dangerous for Magnus. It was dredging up feelings that he thought he had long ago buried but fate was quick to point out had done the exact opposite. As much as he wanted to fall back into the normal routine that they had shared before everything had fallen apart such a thing couldn’t happen. Too much had happened for them to just start back up with that again.

 Settling back against the seat, he kicked his feet up on the railing, twisted the cap off of his beer and with a wink sent towards Alexander, trailed his fingers through the air, sparks flying as lights started to form and dance, the shapes abstract to begin with.

 It was hard for Alec to tear his eyes away from Magnus, and for that he blamed Jace. If Jace hadn’t made him think about things, made him think of the ‘what-ifs?’ that still existed, wondering if just friends was something he could be with Magnus… he wouldn’t be thinking or feeling what he was right now. Except he would. He had. No matter how bad it might be in the long run, the thoughts were always still around, and even closer when he was with Magnus. But it was easy to fall into and watch the light show that Magnus was putting on for him. For him. 

 He was silent for a few minutes, head leaned back into the pillows of the couch, his eyes flickering back and forth between Magnus and the sparks leaping from his hands. “So beautiful,” he murmured. “I’ve missed things like that.”

 Magnus didn’t normally do things like this. Yes, he indulged in his magic whenever the fancy to do such a thing struck him but he never did it for anyone else. The last time he could recall doing such a thing had been for Alexander. They had been in his apartment one night and his boy had looked so handsome in the evening light and with a flick of his wrist golden lights danced around them while he and Alexander had danced to an unknown tune. That had been shortly before things had gone to hell and rapidly.

Lost in the memory as he had been, Magnus didn’t notice when the lights had changed from his usual purple to the gold they had been that night, the abstract lights shifting into random star patterns as they flickered and danced in the air before them.

 “I don’t know what power made this possible, but, when I find them I am going to kiss them soundly and then send them the most amazing fruit basket ever. I have missed you, my Alexander.”

 Many memories of them together had started playing through Alec’s mind, but as the colors changed from their electric purple to shimmering gold, the two of them were sharing the same memory. It was a good one, a great one, and one of their last when they were happy together. It made Alec feel so much - happy and sad - all at once. 

 “I missed you, too, Magnus,” Alec reached for Magnus hand between them, but he pulled back and ran his fingers through his own hair. He had to try to remove those thoughts he was having, and if it meant - fine. “It’s so easy to get lost in moments like these and forget that we’re - not what we used to be.”

 A frown pulled down the sides of Magnus’ mouth as Alec’s hand was pulled back as quickly as it had reached out for him. He missed him. He missed how easy things had been with his boy. How easily their relationship had formed, blossomed and had grown. He missed this. Them just sitting together and enjoying each other’s company, no need for words or fillers. They could just be comfortable in each other’s presence and it not be awkward.

 Setting down the beer he no longer had any desire in drinking on the arm of the loveseat, he reached out for Alec’s hand once more, the shimmering gold lights taking on a more definite shape as the star patterns shifted and started to form more solid, human-like forms.

 “We might not be that any longer but that doesn’t mean we can’t have any relationship at all. We just have to figure out where the line should be drawn, if it needs to be drawn, between the two of us.”

 Out of the corner of his eyes, Alec could see Magnus’ hand move between them as the lights sparkled and grew between them. He watched him and it, but made no move to take it.

 “It’s hard to determine where that line should be. The more time that we spend together - I feel - I don’t know. I know we’re a bad idea, but even thinking about being with someone else feels wrong. Should we even try this or just -,” he took a deep breath and finally reached over for Magnus’ fingers, and against any judgment he had, bad or good, scooted himself closer toward Magnus so that they were shoulder to shoulder. 

 “A great deal of time has passed, there is no denying that and we are most certainly not the same people we were then either but that is also not to say that we can’t grow and learn. This isn’t a race, Alexander. This is very much something we will have to take our time with if we decide that this is definitely something that we want to pursue. There is no possible way that we can just pick up right where we left off. We have to get to know each other again.”

 Magnus didn’t even hesitate in taking Alec’s hand and pulling him closer, the lights growing brighter as their forms became evident - one bowing to the other before offering them a hand in a silent request to dance.

 “We will figure this out, my Alexander,” he said softly as he brought Alec’s hand up and pressed a soft kiss to the back of it. “We just have to figure out where to start. And what to do with the paramours that are in both of our lives.”

 “Who would have ever thought that over the years, I became the impulsive one and you are the one who wants to be logical and smart and take it slow?” Alec laughed a little as he took his eyes off of Magnus and watched as the lights danced for them, but didn’t move to put any space between them, and instead just moved when Magnus urged him closer.

 “I was thinking maybe - to hell with it. Maybe I should kiss you, maybe we could get that one last night that we didn’t get before and be done with it. But here you are being all sensible and - cute.”

 Alec knew that they couldn’t end up together, he knew way deep down, and this was probably the most honest about them that he’d ever been able to be with anyone, but he couldn’t say that. Maybe he just liked to live in the lie for the few more weeks that Magnus would be there. And when he got back to his boyfriend in London, he’d remember why they were together and anything that he felt now with a really old flame in a relationship that had ended badly, would be forgotten.

 “Let's just have fun with this, enjoy each others company. And not lead each other on. And I’ll keep my lips to myself because honestly, I was thinking about it earlier but - bad idea.”

 “Alexander,” he said softly, his eyes dark in the night as he stared at him, trying to find the right words to say that wouldn’t lead to him acting impulsively and possibly making things ten times worse than they needed to be. “You have no idea how badly I want that. How much I’ve thought about kissing you senseless and seeing that dreamy look on your face once more and know that I was the reason behind it being there. I know that such a thing can’t happen. Not right now anyway. Too much time has passed, too much has happened. If we were to just jump right back into things and give in to whatever feelings we may be having right this moment, I feel that it would make things far worse than they were when we first crossed paths again at the bar and I don’t want that. I don’t ever want things to be like that between us again. I want something, I won’t lie and say that I won’t. I know what my heart wants and you know as well. I know that you remember what I said the other night and it will remain true. But we also need to be true to ourselves and make sure that if we go forward that we are in a place, a good place to do such a thing.”

 “You’re right, I wasn’t going to act on anything, I wasn’t going to kiss you, I just said that I wanted to. Maybe it’s just because you’re familiar and this,” he pointed to indicate the light show in front of them. “This is familiar. And maybe I’m tipsier than I thought. I’m sorry I even brought that up.”

 He looked at the twined fingers and the place that still tingled where Magnus had kissed the back of his hand earlier, and gently pulled his hand away from Magnus and slid back down to the end of the loveseat. Bad idea. He had thought things, and mostly kept them to himself, but this was what that rejection - sort of rejection, felt like when you heard it out loud. Magnus knew this was a bad idea, too. The bottle of whiskey sat on the table nearest Magnus now, and Alec stood to grab it, uncapping it and drinking from it before he even sat back down. 

 “I think, Magnus, that we’re in the best places we can get right now, and we’re both moderately happy. Starting anything aside from friendship between us again would be stupid. No matter how long we wait, no matter how different we think we are, whatever was a problem with us before is always going to be a problem with us. Doing anything that’s outside the realm of friendship would just be irresponsible on our parts,” he took another long drink. “Plus you know, boyfriends. Mine’s inside asleep. I should remember that.”

 "Alexander, you should never be sorry for bringing up something like that, not with me. Our past, for the most part, was absolutely wonderful and brilliant and I do not want you to feel guilty or bad about that for any reason. We ended on horrible terms, yes, but that wasn't all we were." And that wasn't all that Magnus wanted them to be. The longer he was with Alexander the more he realized that he wanted more than what they had had and what they were currently. It didn't matter to him that they both had significant others. They could easily be gotten rid of, at least on his end of things anyway.

 The longer he was with Alexander the more he wondered if it was something that his boy wanted. It would be devastating if friends were all that Alec wanted but if those were his wishes then he would find some way to make them work and find some way to abide by them and not push him. Until he knew for certain though he was going to continue as he had been with his Alexander.

 "Just because some of the same things from before remain the same now doesn't mean we can't try again. But I won't push you, Alexander." Only Magnus would. He would just be subtle about it at first 

 Not sure what to do with his free hand now, he brought it up, gold sparks flowing from it as other figures joined the already dancing pair before them.

 “I am sorry for it because it was the single most stupid thing I’ve done in years,” Alec took another drink from the bottle. Please let him pass out now, either that or he was sure he would die from embarrassment. “I think I’m more a little drunker than I believed. My stupidity flow is raging and - I’m saying stuff and I don’t even know why I’m saying stuff anymore.”

 That’s right, blame the poor alcohol. Alec knew he wasn’t drunk, or even very close to it; he’d been drinking heavily for years now, this was something he could do for a few more hours at the snail's pace he was going today. Jace was just a lightweight. Magnus had been flirting and seemed receptive to it, but maybe he just talked a good game and he never wanted anything to start back up between them, not even the one night stand that Alec was so against. Alec just had to face it, he just got rejected, and this rejection cut deeper than any he thought he’d ever feel.

 “The way we ended was what we were. There were other things and happy moments in between, but at the core, I was just an idiot Shadowhunter who would die in battle or fighting a demon way too soon, and you are an immortal. A warlock who would go on and find another me in five years, if I was lucky to be a memory in your heart for that long. That is always going to be there for me.”

 He watched the lights dance before them, remembering some night so long ago, the same night and memories that had brought him to where he was right now.

 Magnus' head whipped around so fast when Alec hinted that he would easily replace him once he was gone that Magnus was certain his head was going to twist right off of his shoulders. The sudden anger he felt had the dancing lights exploding in a shower of gold before they were left in darkness and Magnus was grateful for that.

 "Listen to me very carefully, Alexander, for I will not repeat myself after this. There will never be another. There will never be another person who could ever come close to meaning to me what you did and do and I am perfectly alright with that for what we had - that can never be replaced nor duplicated. Many have tried in the years since we separated and none of them have succeeded nor are they still around.

 "I do not ever want to hear you lessen what we share in such a way again. I know you think I love easily and often but that is the exact opposite of the truth. I do not love easily and in the one thousand years that I have walked this Earth there have only ever been three people whom I have loved as deeply and as truly as I do you."

 It was a testament to how well Alec still knew Magnus that he didn’t even flinch when the gold lights exploded around them.

 “Yeah, well, maybe not love, but how many men and women have you gone through since we broke up? I’m not asking so I can judge you, but to make a point. Wasn’t it like one or two a year or something like that? Whether you love them or not, I’m replaceable. That’s not lessening what we had to me, it’s simply stating a fact. Sometimes love isn’t everything, and case in point, it’s not enough to resurrect something that should just stay dead. We have - what we have now is a tentative friendship, and we should just be happy we have that at all.”

 "There have been others in my bed, yes but they came, they went and they were dismissed. There will never be another you just as you are not a replacement for someone in my past. You are you, my Alexander and that will always be something unique and special.

 "Those who have come since you have been a warm body in my bed and once the newness wore off they were sent on their way. You, you were never just a warm body and you could never be such a thing either. You are special and you will always be special. No matter how much time has passed you will never be replaced."

 “You know how many men I’ve been with since you? Three. And two of them were one night stands and the third kinda stalked me until I gave in a second time. I tried, I did, I thought it would be the cure-all for me, but it never was. It made me sick, touching someone else like that, letting him touch me. My heart wasn’t into it. That part of me was gone for good, and I never wanted it back. That’s just me. That’s just how I am. I don’t want or need the physical touch if I’m not in love. So, for me, you were irreplaceable too.”

 Alec stood up on wobbly legs in the slowly spinning room, thank god, and stood next to where Magnus’ feet had been on the rails. “If I’m so irreplaceable to you and you want me so bad, then tell me why you keep spurning any advances I’ve made towards you tonight?”

 "You've been drinking. How am I supposed to know that any decision you make is one of your own doing and not one fueled by and with alcohol?" Magnus rose to his feet in one swift, elegant move that placed him face to face with Alec, barely a breath's width of space between them, the look on his face dark and intent.

 "I told you that I loved you, Alexander, and I meant it. I have never meant anything as much as I meant those three words. But when we are together again, when we are together in every sense of the word I want us both to be absolutely certain and to both have a clear mind so that there can be no doubt or question about what is happening."

 He leaned forward just a bit, closing the space between them until they were touching from shoulder to hip and grasped one of Alec's hands in his own.

 "I love and respect you too much for this to be a drunken happening that after you may or may not regret."

 “I’ve always been drinking, so you’re going to be mad at yourself for turning this down soon,” Alec said, pressing closer to Magnus and reaching down with his free hand to twist his fingers beneath his waistband, his voice soft and low. “But this is a good thing. You love me and we’re not going to have sex or do anything because you think I’m drunk. Definitely a good thing. Makes sense. So many regrets would be had in the morning, on both sides. Hell, I’m having them right now. I don’t know what’s - I blame Jace.”

 He pushed Magnus back a bit, but still kept his hold on his hand, rubbing his thumb over the rings that Magnus wore, and even though he couldn’t see them he knew that one ring was there, it always seemed to be there. “That’s the ring I gave you. Isn’t it?”

 “I could never be angry with respecting you. You deserve the utmost respect and anyone who doesn’t give it to you isn’t worth your time. Not even a single second of it. So am I disappointed that things haven’t gone a different way? Of course. The disappointment is real and it runs deep but I will never take advantage of you and right now, that is exactly how it feels. Like I would be taking advantage of you.”

God every touch he made was like a shock of lightning straight to Magnus’ core but he had to stand strong on what he said. He would never take advantage of his Alexander and right now, given the state he was in and the state he was heading further into, it would be just that. It killed Magnus to just stand there and not touch Alec further, kiss him senseless or carry him off to the nearest bedroom so he could reacquaint himself with every dip, curve, and line of his boy but he couldn’t. Doing such a thing right then and there would have been a horrible mistake for both of them and when they were together again, he didn’t want Alexander to have any regrets about it whatsoever.

 “It is,” he said softly, not in any sort of hurry to move away from him. “I haven’t taken it off since you gave it to me and I don’t intend to either.”

 Alec felt that even though Magnus’ heart was telling him yes, the rest of him was telling him no. Was it about respect or attraction or - damn if he knew, but it didn’t matter. What Jace had said earlier about Alec being able to just be friends with Magnus, he had the answer. It wasn’t a test, he didn’t think it was, but he had an answer for it, and he could report back that it really would be easy. He untwined his fingers from Magnus pants and tapped him gently on the side of his face in answer. He got it, he understood. It was what he wanted anyway.

 “I think we were in - yeah, Paris, right before - yeah,” he held Magnus’ hand up to the dim light and squinted his eyes to make more of the ring out. “You should have just thrown it away when we broke up. It was a promise that was unfulfilled. But I kinda like that you still wear it.”

 “Our first trip together,” he said with a soft smile as he turned his head slightly and pressed a light kiss to the palm of Alec’s hand. “It most certainly hadn’t been what I planned for us but it turned out to be exactly what we both needed and in the end, it brought us so much closer than I ever could have imagined.

 “I am not ashamed of our past, Alexander. And I never will be. The time we spent together, the memories we made and every experience we shared, it’s part of who I am. This,” he held up his hand, the ring Alec had given him glinting in the dim light, “Is part of who I am and even though the promise was broken, I still cherish it. It will have to be pried off of my cold, dead hands in order to be removed.”

 He sighed softly as he wrapped his arms around Alec, pulling him flush against him once more and pressed a soft kiss to his temple.

 “Our story ended abruptly, the path we were taking rudely blocked and we made a rather long detour but that doesn’t mean that we have to remain in two separate lanes. Things can be fixed, my Alexander. We just have to be willing, we have to be patient but more importantly, it has to be something we both want.” Pulling pack just a bit he stared down at Alec, a face that haunted his every nightmare and walked through every single good dream he had. A face that no other would be able to top or replace.

 “Is this something you want?”

Chapter Text

In the month since their conversation on Alec’s porch, Magnus found himself in a weird holding pattern of sorts with his boy. They texted on an almost daily basis - sometimes it was flirty and other times it was just friendly - several times they had gone out for lunch, seeing the meal as being far more casual and less date like than dinner was, and on a couple of occasions they had drunk themselves silly. Those nights usually ended with Magnus tucking his boy into his hammock before returning to his own home, Ragnor’s gaze following him every time he returned and interrupted whatever texting spree he had going on.

During all of that time though Alexander had never once answered the question that Magnus had posed to him. He had been expecting an answer the night he asked but Alec had turned away from him and stumbled, literally stumbled to the point where he had almost fallen and Magnus knew that then was not the time to finish that conversation. Alec could put up all the fight he wanted to, claiming that he wasn’t drunk and that he was clear-minded and making decisions exactly as he wanted to but as Magnus had led him to the hammock that Alec had been mumbling about and helped him climb in, his boy leaning on him more heavily than he probably realized he had been, he knew that any further conversation was not going to be had that night.

Magnus had been highly tempted to tuck his boy in and just leave but as he looked at Alec lying there, one arm over his eyes and a leg hanging over the side, he worried about the safety of his boy and with a soft sigh had slid in behind him. He hadn’t intended to stay the whole night, just long enough for Alec to fall asleep and be sleeping peacefully but before Magnus knew it, Alec was wrapped around him solidly - an arm around his waist and Alec’s head on his shoulder, much like it used to be when they had shared a bed - and his own eyes had grown heavy and he was out, taking comfort in the familiar feel and weight of Alec against him.

The morning wake up hadn’t gone so well. Namely, Jonathan had rudely woken them up, shaking Alec and muttering something about just friends eh? and Magnus had climbed from the hammock, glaring death daggers at him before taking long enough to make sure that Alec was alright and would be alright before portaling home.

Since then things had been stuck in a strange routine and he had no idea how to break them out of it or even where to go from there. Several times over during their rather lengthy conversations he had wanted to ask again if they were something Alec wanted but something kept holding him back. Something told him that the time wasn’t quite right yet and he didn’t know when it would be.

Staring out at the ocean view he had from his balcony, he spent several long moments wondering if today would be the day he asked but as he picked up his phone and clicked on Alexander’s name, he knew that the day wasn't starting on the right foot. The overcast sky and dark looming storm clouds lent to an ominous feeling that Magnus just couldn't shake.

M: Good morning, beautiful. Are you awake yet?

“Jace, I hate you!”Alec called out from behind Jace, who was a blur of sweat pants and tank tops running ahead of him. Alec wasn’t out of shape, not really, it was just that his body wasn't used to all of the running that Jace had him doing. Not anymore. But he could give a valiant jog behind him and spend most of it bitching and playing a game on his phone. Now, maybe if he didn’t do that, he would be able to catch up to Jace and even one day outrun him. The thing was though, Alec didn’t care. He was happy jogging, and he knew his heart and lungs were healthy so what he was doing was just fine by him. He didn’t want to be awake this early, and he complained about it, but it was either this or Jace bouncing on him and sounding all cheery until he gave in and got up anyway.

Besides, it cleared his head to think more about Magnus. Now those thoughts consumed him every day, every few hours, every few minutes and he couldn’t just not have them. He’d found that out early on. It was better just to let them flow and be able to function without the random coming at him in the weirdest circumstances and situations. Mostly he thought about the night that he had been drunk and Magnus had been sweet, and he had wanted so badly to go against all his thoughts of being just friends and kiss him. Do other things with him. And confusion had reigned supreme in his mind that night, and he was embarrassed when he thought about it, and very glad that he had passed out before he could say or do anything else that would make him look like an ass.

Yeah, drunk as he was, and Raziel knows he was, he remembered everything. He was just grateful that Magnus never brought it up again and didn’t seem to hold it against him.

The new text coming in covered part of his game, but when he saw it was from Magnus, he slowed to a walk and then to a stop as he scouted the area for somewhere to sit and rest, and to reply to the text.

A: Good morning
A: Unfortunately awake. Jace is still insisting on these early morning runs.
A: What’s up, handsome?

Magnus’ phone sat firmly in his pocket as he moved about his room, sparks trailing behind him as he sent off various missives to London and the council filling in in his absence. Several of the warlocks had begged him to come back, sick of dealing with the mundane hauntings that ran rampant in London and sick of dealing with the Clave - something Magnus still refused to do and often left up to Ragnor to do when he wasn’t at the school teaching, and just sick of being in charge in general. He had heard rumblings that several of them thought he was never coming back and that they should pick a new High Warlock but as long as Magnus lived and breathed and didn’t step down, there was nothing any of them could do about it.

Not to mention none of them were brave enough to take Magnus on head-on. Had he been in New York or LA it would have been a different story but most of the warlocks in London now were of new blood and in terms of warlock age were still babies. They still had a lot to learn and as far as Magnus was concerned they could just learn to deal while he tried to figure out this thing between him and Alec.

With a coffee in one hand, he padded into his closet barefoot, shirt after shirt floating past as he tried to figure out what to wear, if he wanted to be bold and colorful or subtle and glittery but when his phone vibrated from his pocket all thought of what to wear was set aside, along with his coffee as he pulled out his phone and couldn’t help but smile as he read Alec’s reply.

M: My poor sweetheart. It sounds like a horrible thing to be woken up this early by someone like Jonathan. I can only imagine the nightmares it gives you.
M: Curious minds wish to know what you’re doing later in the day.
M: Later in the day as in the time of day that turns into evening.

A: It’s horrible, Magnus. And it happens every day. I’m about to start locking his ass out at night.
A: I don’t think he could take the hammock though.
A: I have the job hunting thing after this, but my evening looks clear.
A: Are you asking me on a date? ;)

Alec put his phone at his side and took a long drink from his sweating bottle of water. Stupid Jace and stupid running. He wanted to yell something at him but he couldn’t see him anymore around the tree in his line of vision.

M: He’d whine like a wounded puppy if you did that. Not to mention his lard ass would break your lovely hammock. Is that really a risk you want to take?
M: Are you having any luck there?
M: Yes. Are you saying yes?

Magnus couldn’t help the grin that tugged at the corner of his lips as he headed into the kitchen, the grin only growing bigger as he saw Ragnor immediately start scowling and try to lower the lid of his laptop as though Magnus didn’t know who he was talking to.

“Good morning my lumpy green cabbage. How were the wayward Shadowhunter children?” His tone was far too cheerful for this early in the morning but he couldn’t help it as he set about making more coffee and began browsing the menus from nearby establishments to see what was for breakfast that morning. Talking to Alec always improved his mood, even if the world was determined to make it a gloom and doom day, his Alexander always made it better.

A: My hammock is lovely, isn’t it?
A: Lard ass lol. If you say that to his face I want tickets.
A: The job thing sucks. No luck. Just a lot of site managers saying ‘no thanks’ because my reputation precedes me.
A: I have some savings though, I’m okay for now.
A: I want flowers. And to be picked up at the door.
A: Kidding. Yes.
A: Time?

Ragnor looked at the laptop screen and waited for Magnus to clear his area before he opened it halfway again and held a finger to his lips to indicate a, ‘shhh’ on the other end.

“Hellions, as usual. They’re smarter than their parents were though, I’ll give them that,” he watched Magnus for a moment, glancing back and forth between the screen and the other man. “Why are you gliding around being cheerful this early in the day? Alec isn’t going to stumble out here in a bedsheet demanding coffee, is he?”

“Tell Raphael I said hello and that he should visit some time instead of just facetiming with you constantly. You’d both be much happier if you were face to face.” Magnus continued to grin as he debated on an omelet or something more French, which honestly, surprised him given the country they were in but he wasn’t going to knock it. Perhaps he’d order both.

“Smarter than their parents? That’s high praise coming from you. Did one of them finally manage to impress you?” At the mention of Alec’s name, Magnus looked up from his menu, the grin brightening as he did so. “Sadly, no. Alexander is currently somewhere on a beach with Jonathan dying from exercise. I would be far happier if he were in my bed though. It will be a glorious day when that happens once more.”

M: It is very lovely but it would be very less lovely if Jonathan’s ass found its way into it and that would be the utmost shame. I can guarantee though that you will have front row tickets to my calling Jonathan lard ass.
M: Are you certain you will be alright until something comes along?

Alec chuckled as he read the incoming texts, and looked around to see if Jace was reading over his shoulder. He wouldn’t be surprised to find him standing there, arms folded and shaking his head at Alec. Jace had runes that let him be sneaky like that, and he had seen on many occasions that he wasn’t shy about using them. Like when he had tried to sneak out during the phone call with Izzy. It had amused Alec so much that his brother had been afraid of their sister.

He'd been looking forward to this call all day and as he sat down with his laptop in hand he saw Jace trying to sneak out of the room. If it hadn't been for the fact that he had seen the movement out of the corner of his eye, Jace and his silence rune would have made it but Alec caught him and without looking threw the nearest item - which happened to be one of Jace's balled up socks - at him.

"Sit down, Jace. I'm gonna have a front-row seat for this and you aren't getting out of it, no matter how many runes you activate I'm not letting you leave." Grinning, Alec propped his feet up on his coffee table and clicked Izzy's name, his giddy mood only growing bigger as the line started to ring. He glanced at Jace as he sat next to him on the couch and the look on his brothers face had him outright laughing. He looked terrified and it was only a phone call.

"If you are laughing at the fact that the both of you are together once more and I'm still stuck here, I will hang up on you and never speak to you again." Izzy's icy tone drew Alec's gaze and he just grinned at his sister as he angled his laptop so she could better see Jace.

"Hey Iz," he said sheepishly, having enough sense to sink lower on the couch.

"Don't you hey Iz, me you little shit. I didn't call you and tell you about Alec SO YOU COULD GO WITHOUT ME. WE WERE SUPPOSE TO GO TOGETHER AND INSTEAD WHAT DO I FIND? I FIND THAT YOU SNUCK OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN NIGHT AND LEFT ME BEHIND."

"Iz, you're pregnant."

"Yes, yes I am but guess what asshat? Being pregnant doesn't mean I'm an invalid. It doesn't mean that I can't travel and it most certainly does not mean THAT YOU GET TO LEAVE ME BEHIND WHEN YOU GO TO SEE ALEC, SOMEONE NEITHER ONE OF US HAS SEEN IN YEARS. ARE YOU REALLY SO SELF CENTERED THAT YOU COULDN'T THINK OF ANYONE BUT YOURSELF FOR FIVE DAMN MINUTES?"

Alec couldn't hold in his laughter any longer as Jace sunk even further, his cheeks turning red as Izzy's shrieking at him reached a whole new level.

"Oh, so you think this is funny, Alec? You think it's funny that he ran off and left me without a single care given to the fact that I may have wanted to see you in person? Oh no, I don't want that. I don't want to see you. I don't want to hug you. No. Why in the name of the angel would I want any of that?"

"Hey, hey," Alec started as he held his hands up in defense, "I didn't-"

"Shut up, Alec. I don't want to hear any excuses from you either. Neither one of you is innocent right this moment and honestly, I don't want to talk to either of you let alone see your stupid faces."

M: I can definitely do flowers and a front door shuttle service if you so wish. In fact, I think that that is now a definite must happen. Nothing is too good for my boy, especially date service like that.
M: Does six work for you?

The sound of his phone beeping again brought him out of his memories and he looked down, looking like a blushing schoolgirl as he replied.

A: You know, you’re pretty familiar with Jace’s ass. Is there something I should know?
A: Yeah, I’m good. Something is bound to come along soon, and I can just wait until then. Not like I pay rent or anything.
A: Oh, fancy. I feel like I should dress up for the occasion?
A: What is the dress code anyway?
A: And six is great.

It had taken Jace several moments to realize that Alec was no longer behind him and he let out a huff as he slowed to a trot before stopping altogether, hands on his knees as he bent at the waist to try and gather his breath. He loved that Alec humored him with the morning runs but really, it was getting annoying to turn around and find Alec not there, only to circle back around and find him on his phone, which is what he was fully expecting to find as he turned and began to run back up the beach in the direction he had come from.

M: He doesn’t wear jeans nearly as well as you do. No one’s ass is as fine as yours.
M: You’ll let me know if things start to get rough, yeah? I don’t like to think of you wanting for anything. Especially not when I could be of help to you.
M: Nice pair of jeans and a sweater vest if you have one. I would say something not black but I know you so just nothing with holes if possible.

“We’re face to face now. What would be different if he were here?” Ragnor opened the laptop all the way, blowing off some lint that had gotten on the screen. “Ignore Magnus. He’s stupid, and he’s too cheery. I may have to put you on hold and call the fire or police department in a few since there’s no boy toy in his room. He sounds hopeful though.”

He folded his arms across his chest and watched Magnus going over menus. “No one nearly died this morning, and everyone still had all of their limbs when I left. I was happy for a blood-free morning.”

“Actually,” Magnus said as with a snap of his fingers several plates piled high with Spanish omelets, French toast, bacon, eggs, normal toast and several selections of fresh fruit appeared on the table behind Ragnor’s laptop, along with the fresh pot of coffee as Magnus took a seat across from his friend. “You’re screen to screen. There is a vast difference my friend and one you should fix immediately.”

Magnus snickered at the sound of disgust that came from Ragnor’s laptop and he could picture the look that was on Raphael’s face. How the two of them managed to be friends he would never know but somehow they made it work.

“A lack of blood? How horribly dreadful and boring that must have been for you. Have they at least stopped insulting you?”

A: You’re making me blush again. Have you seen my ass lately?
A: Nah, I’ll be fine. My savings has a while to go before I’m on a sidewalk shaking a cup.
A: I don’t have an overly nice shirt, and I can’t swear that the one I’m thinking of doesn’t have a hole in it. Tom or Jace might have something that can work though.
A: I’ll check with them when we get home.
A: PS I like you in blue if that means anything
A: Or gold. It makes your eyes look electric

Alec was fully invested in his phone and the conversation he was having. If Jace hadn’t come back by now or noticed that he wasn’t lumbering behind him, then he was probably well into finishing the run and he’d just wait where he was for Jace to run back by. Admittedly, he could use the exercise - he didn’t have construction work to keep him fit at the moment - but he just really didn’t want to. And he was going to try not to, and avoid Jace’s stink eye.

It had taken Jace several moments to circle back around to where Alec was, rolling his eyes when he saw just how far into the run Alec had made it, and of course, he was sitting on a rock with his head in his phone. That phone was going to be the death of him but not if Jace got to him first. With a wicked grin on his face, he backtracked up the beach a bit and circled until he could sneak up on Alec, his runes giving him the stealth of a stalking panther as he snuck up behind his brother.

“That isn’t how you run, Alec.”

M: Every time you walk past me, babe. Every time you walk past me.
M: If it ever gets to that point, you let me know first. I will not let things come to that with you.
M: Alexander, would you like for me to go shopping for you?
M: I have something blue and gold that I am certain you will love.

Ragnor was laughing at the expression that Raphael was wearing. Sometimes his weird and random smile to Raphael was really the only emotion that wasn’t annoyance that Ragnor wore all day. He couldn’t help that mostly-permanent look though, his face was just like that after centuries of closeness with Magnus and Catarina.

“Raphael doesn’t need to be so close to me that he can smell my breath,” Ragnor said, snagging a few pieces of bacon from one of the plates that Magnus had conjured behind his laptop and then appeared to have second thoughts as he leaned forward. “Do you want to come to Peru?” He was looking at Raphael, eyebrows raised. “We can put up some blackout curtains in the guest room and around the house. I’ll go and pay a visit to the blood bank that’s around here somewhere. And Magnus can go to his friend's house so we won’t have to look at him.”

How Ragnor spent as much time with Magnus as he did, Raphael would never know but he did it and then they spent some evenings making fun of Magnus which suited Raphael quite well. He was well into his weekly round of 'how many different names could they come up with for Magnus' when Ragnor’s question caught him off guard. For several long moments, he just stared at Ragnor, wondering if he had heard him correctly before shaking his head in affirmation.

“Someone needs to save you from the sparkly disaster that is Magnus. Is Catarina still in New York?”

Magnus just smirked when he heard Raphael’s reply, trying his best not to grin outright at Ragnor and say 'see, I told you he would come if you just asked' . Instead, he just popped a piece of bacon into his mouth and continued to smirk.

“Oh darling, if the lovely, lovely Raphael is coming here, I most certainly am not going anywhere else. I want a front-row seat for all of this. Besides, someone has to make sure that you put up curtains properly. Which, do you even know how to hang curtains?”

A: I would’ve tucked in more if I had known I was being ogled
A: No problem, Magnus. But I’ll be fine, I promise.
A: Thank you for worrying about me though
A: I’m going to say no to the shopping thing. I don’t really enjoy bedazzled or sparkly clothes, so I’m just going to hope someone has something dressy yet plain
A: I don’t doubt that at all. I love everything on you

He was so caught up in his texts and the fact that Magnus was asking him on a real date, that he, even though he had thought he was prepared, was clearly not ready when Jace spoke behind him. Alec jumped up and was quick to turn at Jace.

“You dick,” he laughed, kicking out slightly at Jace. “It’s how I run. It gets me asked out on dates with hot warlocks, so it’s working for me.”

A: I have to kill Jace, so I’ll see you tonight?

Those few seconds that it took Raphael to answer had Ragnor on the edge of his seat. Would he say no? Was that out of the bounds of their friendship? He was going to brick Magnus up in the wall of the basement if…

“Magnus is a natural disaster, not just a sparkly one,” he sent a glare at Magnus for good measure and nodded at Raphael regarding Catarina. “She’s working days at the hospital, so she’s not at home, but she’ll be available tonight, which works well for you.”

Ragnor didn’t know what Magnus was smirking at, but he was too happy to care. Not that his expression changed much. “You’ve met Raphael before, plenty, why - what are you going to be looking at when he shows up here? It’s not a museum Magnus, and he’s not a curiosity for you to look at,” he thought for a moment about the curtains and then shrugged. “I’m a warlock, nonce, I’ll magic them up there.”

“I believe others would call him a 'hot mess'. All terms are accurate as far as he is concerned. I’ll send Catarina a message before I sleep to inform her that I will be stopping by and I should be in Peru by this evening, tomorrow morning at the latest.”

Magnus’ grin only grew bigger at Ragnor’s protests but he didn’t say anything further. He had teased him enough about Raphael and hopefully, with their vampiric friend coming to visit the two of them would finally realize what was really between them. Anyone with eyes who had ever seen them together - and that number was very small - could see that there was something between them but they had never acted upon it. Hopefully, this would be the push they needed.

“Darling, you can’t just magic curtains up. Especially not curtains as important as these. Purchase them and when I return from my date tonight I’ll help you hang them, until then-” Magnus grabbed a plate of omelets as he rose from the table and his suddenly refilled cup of coffee and spun on his heels, “I have a date to prepare for and this? This doesn’t get ready on its own.”

M: Alexander, I ogle every single chance I get. That has never changed.
M: Just so long as you know that help will always be here if you need it.
M: Please, I sparkle enough for both of us. I know that over the top isn’t your thing. I wouldn’t have bedazzled you…..too much.
M: Make sure you get the killing on video so I can enjoy it later! Hopefully over appetizers!

“This is 'running time', Alec. Not 'getting a date time'. Besides, it’s too early in the morning to be getting dates. Doesn’t that warlock ever sleep?” Jace just rolled his eyes, the smile on his face bright as he kicked a rather large pile of sand back at Alec. He’d missed this, so much and honestly? He didn’t even care that most mornings he ended up running by himself. Alec started with him and that was all that mattered to him.

“I don’t know, from what I remember he was up at all times of the night. But, he had an eighteen-year-old boyfriend with a stamina rune, so maybe,” Alec pondered, trying to dodge the sand but he was hit with a faceful instead. He sputtered as he grabbed a handful to throw back at Jace and started running towards him, chasing him and laughing, toward the water. He had missed this, silly things that meant nothing. Eighteen wasn’t a child, but he couldn’t help but feel like he had missed out on some of his childhood when he was banished.

Jace was highly tempted to take Alec’s phone out of his hands and see what the two of them had been talking about but knowing Alec and more importantly, knowing Magnus he would have been forced to claw his own eyes out and then the world would have been deprived of the gorgeousness that were his eyes and that? That wasn’t allowed to happen. The grin that spread across Jace’s face when Alec started running towards him would have been predatorial to anyone else but with Alec, it was just how he looked at him when they did things like this.

Whatever Alec may have been planning later in the day could wait because right then and there that Jace was determined to see if his brother still remembered how to swim.

A: My ego will live to see another day :)
A: I appreciate it. Thanks
A: Much. That gives me some hope for you!
A: No time! I’ll relay it to you kick by kick tonight xx

“Hot mess. There seem to be several terms of endearment for him,” Ragnor scooted his chair back a bit. He had to move; there were things to do and get ready, and he didn’t feel like he had much time to do it all in. “We have to stop talking about him, he’s going to think we have a fan club and he’s all we ever talk about. And that narcissist will love it,” he nodded. “I think I told you that we already have established portals. She can get you through the one on her end and send you here. So I’ll make sure to leave the closet door open in case we’re hanging the curtains when you arrive.”

The sound of laughter that came from Raphael was a rare one and had anyone else been around they would have wondered what was wrong with him. Luckily for him, most of the clan was already down for the day and he didn’t have to worry about questions or a Spanish inquisition.

“Good luck dealing with sparkles. I’ll come and rescue you later this evening.”

Ragnor decided to let the last comment slide since Magnus was being helpful. That in itself was frightening. “A boyfriend in London and a date in Arequipa sounds about right. So go away, I have things to do.”

“Bed warmer in London, actually. We don’t have to talk about Raoul though. That conversation can be had later.” Magnus just waved a fork in his direction as he all but skipped out of the room, humming a jaunty tune as he went.


 

Nerves were getting the better of Alec. He was questioning and requestioning his choice of an outfit for tonight; a nice short-sleeved black button-down and a pair of dark washed blue jeans. Neither of his roommates had exactly what he was looking for, so he had to drive a few miles away from where he lived to buy something new, and Alec approved. Not that it was a perfect choice, but it was him. Nice and dressy-casual and what he would feel most comfortable wearing. He’d even splurged and got some cologne and a pair of new boots. Everything was new, and he smelled pretty nice, but he still felt like everything was wrong. Maybe it was his hair? He had it pulled back in a low pony-tail, but he was debating now whether he should have just cut it short. He hadn’t had that thought in years.

And he couldn’t put his finger on what was making him so nervous. He saw Magnus all the time, nearly daily, and they had meals and drinks and even once fell asleep together. Why was his stomach in knots?

Thinking about it made it worse, he decided, and so he wasn’t going to do it anymore.

Right. Easier said than done.

The waiting though, that was the worst part. And Jace. He’d thrown him out of his bathroom doorway at least six times tonight after he was dressed and right now he was wondering where he was.

Was it six yet?

Magnus had spent most of the day lounging either in his bedroom, flipping through item after item in his closet, or in the bathtub as he had soaked, done his nails and prepared himself for the night. He couldn’t remember the last time he had cared this much about his appearance when going out. That wasn’t to say that he didn’t care normally cause he did but going out on an actual date with his Alexander was completely different from dating anyone else and Magnus wanted to make it good, not only for himself but for Alec as well.

Buckling the last buckle on his shoes he straightened and checked his reflection in the full-length mirror that hung on his wall. It had been there since the 1700s and it was one of Magnus’ favorite pieces in the entire house. Not to mention he never failed to look absolutely amazing whenever he admired himself in its reflection and now was no different from any other time. As amazing as he looked, he couldn’t help but feel nervous as well which was ridiculous. Nerves weren’t something he normally felt but when it came to his Alexander everything went out the window, including how he normally felt. He had always felt different when it came to his boy and it seemed that now wasn’t going to be any different.

Approving of the reflection that stared back at him, Magnus gave himself a final nod before spinning on his heel and strode out of the room. He could hear Ragnor working down the hall and he couldn’t help but grin. Hopefully, this night would prove to be a good one, not only for him but for his friend as well. Ragnor deserved to be happy and Magnus could only hope that this would be the start of such a thing for him. Rather than interrupt Ragnor and risk being late, he simply nodded in his direction, picked up the rose that sat preserved on the hallway table and stepped into the portal, reappearing a moment later just outside of Alec’s home.

Magnus was grateful when he arrived to find things still and quiet. He had fully expected to find Jonathan waiting for him or even Alexander’s paramour - there were still so many questions about that situation left unanswered - but the silence held good things to come for the night as far as Magnus was concerned and with a steadying breath he mounted the few stairs that led to Alec’s door and knocked firmly, his hand immediately moving to fidget with one of his rings as he waited for someone to answer the door.

Magnus had knocked. That was cute and wholly unexpected. He was usually either outside waiting or already with Magnus when he came over, so he wasn’t even considering anything but Magnus just coming into the house and calling out for him. But since he’d knocked… Alec would take a few seconds, and check his appearance one more time in the mirror, and repeat the sniff test to make absolutely sure he hadn’t missed anything unpleasant. He thought that maybe Tom or Jace would open the door if he took a minute, but since he heard no voices he assumed they were excusing themselves from the living room until he left. That was kind of nice.

It was also nice that he’d had no alcohol today. He wanted to be as clear-headed as possible in case something came up again, and he didn’t want to give Magnus any excuse to back away from him this time. If it came up.

He jogged through the living room and after making sure his shirt was still tucked in the back, opened the door and smiled at Magnus. He was gorgeous, as always, and the once over and pleased noise Alec made said that. “Angel, look at you,” he said, touching his fingertips to his chest. “Breathtaking.”

Magnus couldn’t help the appreciative look that slid across his face as he caught his first sight of the evening of Alexander and his boy was still just as gorgeous as ever. It had never mattered to Magnus if Alec were dressed for battle, for training, for bed or for a night out with him - he had always looked stunning and now was no different. He had only been slightly teasing earlier when he had told Alec a shirt with no holes but he was pleased to see that he had given some thought as to what to wear.

“The same could be said for you, my Alexander. You are, as always,” he paused for a second and with a flourish presented Alexander with the purple rose he had picked up before leaving his home, “Absolutely stunning and breathtaking.”

He waited until Alec had taken the rose before offering him an arm.

“Shall we?”

Only kidding about the flowers and the pick me up at the door conditions he had said to Magnus earlier, Alec was surprised to see the rose that Magnus was giving to him. He was touched, he hadn’t been treated like this in such a long time that he had forgotten that this did exist beyond a joke. He took it from Magnus with a smile, and touched the petals to his nose and inhaled the fragrance deeply. “Thank you,” he said, chuckling as he linked his arm with Magnus’, and scanned the drive for a car. “Lets.”

With the snap of freshly polished fingers, a portal opened just to the left of Magnus and with a gentle push, he urged Alec to step through, following close behind him and as they emerged on the other side at the end of a dark alley they were greeted with the sounds of nightlife. Music poured from several nearby open doors and people - locals and tourists alike - roamed the streets. Some stopping at the various street vendors offering food of all sorts while others waited to get into some of the top restaurants in Arequipa. Luckily, Magnus had thought to call ahead and had secured them a table at a small but reputable restaurant. There was a line outside waiting to get in as they approached, his arm still linked with Alec’s but Magnus didn’t mind. Especially not with his company for the evening.

“I’m pleased you agreed to this. I wasn’t sure if you would or not when I posed the question this morning. I thought for certain that you may brush me off or suggest lunch or drinks instead.”

Walking arm in arm with Magnus as they stepped out of the portal and onto a familiar street, it felt a little different to Alec. He had been here before, had seen things in the area, but he hadn’t paid attention. Not really. The colors seemed brighter, the people seemed cheerier, even the sounds of traffic were like a musical backdrop to the evening. Was he really in this good of a mood because Magnus was here?

Alec stood next to him, every once in awhile lifting his rose to his nose with a faint smile, as they waited in the line that was formed outside of their destination.

“I thought about suggesting lunch at first, but I realized that you had never asked me out like that before. Usually, it’s just a casual ‘drinks?’ question, but - anyway, why would I turn down an actual date? I didn’t think you wanted to.”

“I used to know what you were thinking, what you were feeling. All I had to do was look at you and I knew. That isn’t the case any longer and if I’m perfectly honest, it’s a little unnerving. Being uncertain around you is an entirely new thing. When I can see you face to face when I talk it’s easier to judge what answer may come from you when I pose a question but when we text? I never know what’s going to pop up on my screen.

“As much as I have enjoyed our lunch and drink outings, I thought it was far past time that we had an actual proper date.”

His arm remained linked with Alec’s as they moved along slowly with the line in front of them, enjoying the feel and weight of Alec beside him and if Magnus closed his eyes it was almost, almost like no time had passed at all. It felt like any other night that Magnus had sprung date night on Alec. But it wasn’t. The nerves and butterflies that had taken up space wildly in his gut told him that this wasn’t just another date night for them. This had the potential to be so much more. Perhaps Magnus was getting his hopes up or maybe he was reading far more into the situation than was actually there but he couldn’t help it.

It had taken him so long to find the right person for him again. The person who not only made him feel complete but who also complimented him as well. Alec did all of those things and then some and he did them in spades. To want to have that once more wasn’t a bad thing, was it?

Leaning in closer he brushed a soft kiss against Alec’s temple, his eyes shining brightly with happiness as he did so.

“I've missed this. I’ve missed us.”

“The texting keeps the mystery alive,” Alec said. “It’s easier sometimes to say things through a text than to hear an actual response for it in person. It’s easier to kind of - flirt in texts than it is in person, I’m just pretty bad at it all around,” he laughed. “But no, I wouldn’t have said no to a date a month ago if you’d asked me then. I was excited when you asked me this morning. Is it bad to admit that?”

Touching Magnus and being this close to him, Alec didn’t care that they weren’t yet where their intended destination was going to be, truthfully, he hadn’t even taken notice of where exactly they were except that they were outside of a restaurant. Where he was right now was exactly where he wanted to be. It had taken him so long to admit that to himself and even longer to hope that maybe Magnus was around because he wanted it too, but it seemed like the time spent, really knowing what he felt and that he could possibly have it, made this all seem that much sweeter in the end.

Sparks shot like electricity through his body at the sudden press of Magnus’ lips to his temple, and saying nothing, Alec looked at him for a second and wondered if he was that affected, this nervous, too. In response, he kept their arms linked but moved his fingers slowly down Magnus’ forearm, sliding until they were palm to palm, and wound their fingers together as he smiled up at Magnus.

“I’ve missed us too.”

“Thankfully technology has come that far. If I were to write every single one of our texts in letter form, I’m fairly certain that you would have gotten bored by now. I do enjoy our conversations though. And the flirting. I love picturing how you blush and how you sputter when I say certain things. I regret that I don’t get to see your reactions in person but the mystery and the freedom my imagination is given with texting is amazing.”

For a moment Magnus paused, his gaze moving from the line in front of them down to their hands which were now firmly joined and it caused hope to spring fully in his chest. He was done for. He was completely and utterly done for and Magnus didn’t even care. This was what he wanted. Alexander. His Alexander. All of him. He wanted it so badly that he could taste it but he had been serious when he told Alec he wasn’t going to push him. He would go as slowly as Alec wanted to, regardless of how quickly his feelings, wants and desires demanded that he go.

Before Magnus could say anything else they reached the front of the line, the hostess flashing them a brilliant smile as she asked for their reservation and in flawless Spanish Magnus handed over the details of the reservation he made and still holding firmly to Alec’s hand, he followed their hostess through the restaurant, the sounds of laughter and joy flowing around them in a steady movement.

Things quieted though as they were led out onto the patio, the sound of rushing water from the fountain filling the air and as the hostess made to pull out Alec’s chair, Magnus politely dismissed her, taking it upon himself to pull out Alec’s chair and once he was seated, took his seat across from him.

For a moment, Alec had thought that Magnus was going to shake off his fingers, and that would have hurt, badly, especially considering how hesitant he was at making the gesture and what he had been thinking while he did it. He was still holding his breath and focusing on that so much that he didn’t even notice when they had reached the front of the line until Magnus was speaking to their hostess. Relief flooded through him as they continued to move, their fingers still joined, and maybe a little tightening of the hold. He hadn’t realized until just then how badly, how much he wanted this.

As they took their seats, Alec glanced up at Magnus as he seated him and took his seat, and then looked around at the rest of the patio around them. There had been a throng of people outside waiting to dine here tonight, and there were several empty tables around them, but they were alone outside. The gentle trickle of the fountain that sat next to them was the only nearby noise he heard. The gentle yet warm breeze, the moon just a silver sliver above them, the dim outside lights of the restaurant - it was…romantic. This was more of a date than he had imagined when he’d agreed earlier, and he was very happy that he had accepted.

“This is beautiful, Magnus,” he said. “It’s like you even had a hand in planning the weather tonight.”

"I wish I could take credit for the weather but alas, mother nature is beyond my control. Perhaps she knew how important this evening was and decided that the fair people of Peru deserved a much-needed break from the sweltering heat and the gloominess that this day started with and it just so happened to coincide with our date."

Reaching out he boldly took hold of Alec's hand, his thumb running over the back of it lightly as he just looked at him, really looked at him and wondered what he had done so perfectly in his life to deserve not only a first chance with the exquisite being sitting across from him but a second one as well.

Alec would have had every right and reason to turn Magnus away, to send him packing without a second thought given to him but he hadn't. He had welcomed Magnus back. Perhaps not quite with open arms but close enough and Magnus thanked whatever gods or angels were looking over for allowing him this chance.

His boy could have chosen anyone, anyone, to spend his time with. To give his love to but somehow Magnus had ended up being the lucky recipient of that attention and it was the most amazing thing in the whole world as far as he was concerned.

Alec laid his rose on the table just in front of him and tightened his new hold on Magnus’ hand to show, hopefully, that he wanted the connection, how he dreaded having no kind of contact between them. It seemed to him like wherever they were touching tonight there were sparks, little jolts running up his arm and through his body. It could have been his nerves or the fact that he just wasn’t used to this anymore, but he liked to think that that good feeling had everything to do with Magnus and the idea he carried of just being like this, all the time, with him. Why shouldn’t he have that?

“I think it was you and your important night,” Alec said, bending down and pressing his lips to the back of Magnus’ knuckles. He hadn’t even thought about that, about doing that, and when he realized it a blush crept to his cheeks. But he didn’t let go of his hand. “Can I ask you why tonight is so important?” He grinned. “Seeing someone after me?”

A sharp bolt of something went racing through Magnus as he watched Alec bend and press a kiss to the back of his hand. It was rare for his boy to do such a thing. Typically Magnus was the one who made gestures like that. It made him beyond happy to shower his boy in gestures like that and never once had he asked for Alec to do it in return. Watching him do such a thing, feeling that bolt of lightning, it was all Magnus could do to remain seated.

"There will never be anyone after you, Alexander. Such a thing will never be possible. You have ruined me for everyone else and I am perfectly alright with that. The thought that you will be my last great love, the all-consuming love that most people can only dream about?" Magnus just smiled softly at him as he turned Alec's hand over so that it was palm up, his fingers drawing random patterns across the rough skin. “It will be an honor to me for you to be such a thing.

"Do you remember the question I asked you?"

So that’s what it felt like to have your breath kicked right out of you. Sure, it had happened to him in the past. He had been airborne and landed right on his back many, many times, but this was different. This was without even a touch, just some words, some all too important words. It affected him more than the ‘I love you’s’ had, and he sat agog, lips parted for a few seconds until he realized that he probably looked stupid and he was in public and Magnus was sitting there waiting for him to respond to something.

“What?” he managed. He was still breathless. Did Magnus know he had just done that? “Oh, I - um, you’ve asked me lots of questions. More specifically?”

Alec was one of the most expressive people he had ever met. He wore his heart on his sleeve and his emotions freely on his face and watching him go through said emotions were something that Magnus would never get tired of. It was like watching him discover things for the first time all over again and to know that he was the one who made him feel like that and that he was the reason those emotions were playing, it made Magnus feel something he hadn't felt in a very long time - something that had been missing from all of the relationships he had had since Alec.

Wonder.

"I have, that is true. This question, this question was very specific and it came about at night, on your porch and after we had exchanged some harsh words but I still think about it."

His gaze moved from Alec's face down to his palm where his fingers had taken on a life of their own and rather than random patterns were now drawing a very specific set of words across the warm flesh. Three words to be precise.

"This," he began as his gaze moved back up to Alec's face, "Us. Is this something you truly want?"

“That was a weird night,” he said, and he recalled nearly every second of it. “I think about a lot of what happened then too.” And how what could have been a really good night was ruined by his overreaching, over-questioning and over-abundance of alcohol in his system. He remembered what Magnus had asked him, too. He had never responded to it, and had maybe exaggerated a stumble when he didn’t - couldn’t find the words. But a lot of time had passed between then and now. That night is was what he wanted, but he didn’t think he deserved it, or anything good, and he started to wonder why he had been punishing himself.

He took a deep breath and he thought for a minute, looking down at Magnus’ fingers and faintly smiling at the set of words he recognized. And he looked back up to Magnus’ face and nodded.

“Yeah. Yes, I’ve always -,” he nodded again. “I’ve always wanted you. This. Us.”

Feelings Magnus couldn’t describe or even begin to explain welled up inside of him and threatened to overflow and explode everywhere. It would have been an epic shower of glitter had he not been able to control himself. Luckily he had more control over his magic than that. Instead of showering Alexander in glitter that he most certainly would have frowned at, Magnus just grinned at him with the stupidest, brightest grin he could muster up.

“You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say that. After that night - I worried that the reason you didn’t answer and the reason it was never brought up again was because I was just hoping for something that would never be again. I would have found a way to live with it if that had been the case but I am so happy that I don’t have to. So beyond happy.”

Alec didn’t know what to do with himself or with the emotions that had welled up inside of him, but his face was soft and easy to read, and he smiled back at Magnus, kind of wistfully.

“I wasn’t sure that was what you wanted from me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought that you were asking me about us as a hypothetical. That if I answered - if I said it was what I wanted that you’d tell me that too much time had passed - I was hearing that about everything that night so,” he shrugged. “Didn’t answer. It was safer than rejection. But I did. I do. Do you?”

"You have no idea how badly I want this. I didn't realize just how much I had missed this - us - you until I saw you again. I thought certain that I was destined to become like most warlocks, that I would harden, turn to stone and find myself incapable of loving or of feeling anything at all. Seeing you again though proved to me just how wrong I was in thinking that."

Passing the time as he had been with the various lovers had been Magnus' attempt at slowing down his heart turning to stone but none of them had been capable of making him feel anything more than a brief moment of bliss before it too passed and he was left feeling hollow once more.

He should have known that it was Alexander who could make him feel again and that it would always be Alexander.

Glancing up he motioned for the waiter who had been lurking in the corner and ordered himself a Manhattan, shaken, not stirred and waited for Alec to order before he continued speaking.

"It does leave the question of where we go from here. Especially with our paramours. More precisely, your paramours."

Alec had spent a lot of time, in the beginning, thinking about things, how badly they had ended between them, how suddenly that all was to him. It felt like nothing but bad had happened to him in a short period of time, and he wondered if he was cursed. Some wayward warlock had taken issue with him and decided to suck every ounce of happiness out of his life, starting with his brother. With Max. But he determined that it wasn’t a curse, just his shitty luck and what destiny had planned for him. Now it seemed like…everything that was gone wasn’t being replaced or given back, there was no way. Everything - it just seemed like that night in the bar, when Magnus had walked back into his life that everything was starting anew, fresh, and this time he had actual control of how he would react to it. It was nice. Good. What he needed.

“I think we might have been what the other needed. We came back into each other's lives at the right moment, when we could handle things and before we completely gave up. At just the right time.”

He took a cue from Magnus and glanced back at the waiter he’d had no idea had even been out there with them, and ordered a whiskey sour with bourbon, and ice water to replace the room temperature one already in front of him.

“My uh, Tom,” he looked a little sheepish and his free hand toyed with the leaves on the stem of his rose. He’d wanted to come clean about that so many times in the past, and he was sure that Tom would appreciate not having to lie, but he never could find exactly the right time or the right situation. It was now though. Do or die. “Tom is my neighbor, not my boyfriend. We’ve always just been friends,” he took a deep breath and continued. “There’s nobody else on my end, there never really has been anybody else.”

The look on Magnus' face was a very telling one, one that said he had always suspected what Alec had just said was the truth but that he had never brought it up. Now was the time to bring it up.

“My Alexander, I love you dearly but lying is something that you have never been very good at. I understand why you said what you did and why you've played this up as you have but I am beyond pleased that the truth has come out now. I've suspected for a while now, especially with how much time we've spent together that Tom wasn't a Tom for you and I feel for him because he does have feelings for you. Anyone who looks at him when you're around can see that but it makes me happy that I won't have to crush him by taking you away from him because I was fully prepared to do just that.”

Magnus thanked the waiter when their drinks were delivered, taking a moment from his conversation to order a scallop appetizer and a mahi-mahi soup that Magnus wasn’t entirely certain was going to be good but he was willing to try anything at least once.

“Do you intend to remain in Peru permanently?” He asked after Alec had ordered and their waiter disappeared.

Eyebrows lifted with Magnus’ really good reaction regarding the truth about Tom, and he was so relieved that it wasn’t going to be an issue that he decided not to go on with the story he had been rehearsing for a few weeks about Tom, and how his name was just an inconvenient slip. How he’d forgotten he existed and existed next door until he knocked on his door later the night he’d first seen Magnus. His pipes bursting was just a very, very convenient happenstance and one that was timed as though the angels were smiling down on him and trying to save him from humiliation.

“Tom is just - he’s a nice guy and a great cook, but he’s not what I want, and I’d never try to hurt him and make him think he was.” Alec chuckled a little bit. “And I think he has a thing for Jace. He makes his bed up with clean shit every day, and he does his laundry. Not to mention I’ve seen him checking him out from behind. If Jace swung that way…” He trailed off, laughing. “I don’t know, Jace might like to have a completely platonic house husband.”

Alec wasn’t sure that Jace even noticed if he were honest. Like his things were done by magic and had no human help. But that was Jace, always focused on something else and leaving the small basic tasks for someone else. He probably drove Clary insane, but, even if Tom hadn’t taken it upon himself to do it, Alec would have. And he wouldn’t have minded. Jace worked a certain way and for all the riches in the world, Alec would never, ever change him or want him to change. He didn’t even bother to remark about what Magnus had said, about Alec being his, because it was just an undeniable truth, one of those things that you couldn’t deny and didn’t have to confirm. They both knew it.

“The Lightwoods also tend to run the house. Simon jumps when Izzy cracks her whip, though, honestly, most intelligent people who have met her do. Jace could have a tighter rein on that than he leads us to believe.” It was a little fun to imagine his siblings at home, with their families, more fun than Alec had previously let himself believe. Would he be able to see that in person soon? Would he allow himself that, too?

“I’m sure biscuit would have something to say about that," Magnus said. "Something tells me that she runs a tight ship even though Jonathan may give a different impression to everyone else. As for your sister, well, she is your sister. I wouldn't expect her to be any other way than she is.”

“Jace did kind of go soft when Clary came around, but I guess that happens when you find someone you love, you get softer. It changes you. Except for Izzy apparently.” Alec laughed. “She seems to be as mean and headstrong as ever. She’s got a mom voice now though, I kind of find that disturbing.”

Taking about Clary made Magnus realize that it had been a long time since he had spoken to her and just how much he missed her. She had been part of his life for longer than anyone else in that group but when he left for London, he had left everyone behind, including her. He made a mental note to send her an email later and check her.

“Tom would be good for you if you weren’t already mine. I do not doubt that he’ll find someone who suits him perfectly. And Jonathan most certainly is not that person.” Others might have found it condescending for Magnus to say such a thing and Alec may very well think the same thing but Magnus was merely stating the truth. Alec was his. His Alexander and he had been all along. It didn’t matter how long they spent apart or what happened between them, Alec would always be his and Magnus had no problem whatsoever stating the truth.

“We can. Magic is a wonderful thing like that. But, do you think there will ever be a time where you don’t want to be here? That you might to, oh I don’t know, possibly want to move to London?

"With me?”

Alec skipped an appetizer, ordering the tropical salad instead. He wasn’t entirely sure about the shellfish in it, but it sounded good on paper and any kind of fish was kind of the staple here in Arequipa since they were so close to the water and fishing was a big industry here. Maybe that was a career he should look into. “I kind of live in Peru,” he said, taking a sip of his drink after he tossed the garnishment onto a napkin. “I built my house. I own it. I mean, is there - we can do a long-distance thing for a while? It’s not like you can’t just portal me to London daily or nightly or whenever or you can come and see me here. And, speaking of London and ties to places, what about your boyfriend?”

Magnus stared at his drink, tempted to stir it just so he could have something to do with his hands but that would ruin the purity of it if he did so. Instead, he contemplated it for a moment before picking it up and taking a healthy drink, wincing when it wasn’t as smooth as it would have been had it been shaken like he asked and not stirred.

“Raoul is merely company at the moment. He’s a faerie who knew when we started dating casually that it wasn’t going to last long. I’m not even sure if he’s still around. I haven’t spoken to him in several days, possibly a week. I should probably check on that. He was taking care of the Chairman for me while I’m gone.

“But, I find that I would much rather be in my new favorite places which also happens to hold my new favorite person rather than be in London so things were bound to end sooner rather than later with him.”

At Magnus’ silence, Alec felt a cold spike of jealousy course through him, but it was just for a second, just while Magnus thought. He hadn’t felt that in so long that he was caught off guard by it and surprised that even though he had said it a few times himself over the weeks, that jealousy over Raoul chose now to rear its nasty head. But he simply nodded at Magnus not bothering to hide the satisfied smile when he told him his lover may already be gone.

“Yeah? You’ve only been here a little over a month and you already have a favorite person in Peru?” Alec laughed a little, eyes twinkling with mirth at Magnus. “I haven’t thought about leaving here lately. I started off thinking that you would go home to London, and Jace would go back to New York, and I would pick up and go somewhere else where I couldn’t be found, again. But - everything changed. Everything’s changing. I don’t want to hide anymore and I don’t know, I just want to do silly things like give out my address to Izzy. Stop living Alec Parker’s life. Be me again. And I think I realized that there really isn’t a me without you. So - yes, I would move to London with you. In the future. I think I should let you have a test run of this before we settle on stuff like that. In case I screw this up again. But I think I just want to enjoy - bask in it for a while before I start with the negative thoughts again.”

“Mm,” Magnus said with a thoughtful smile, his eyes crinkling at the corner. “I do have a favorite person. He’s about yay tall, dark wavy hair that begs for you to run your hands through it, pink lips that screamed 'kiss me!' and the bluest of eyes, a stunning blue that you could lose yourself in. Know where I might be able to find him? Cause I’ve really, really missed him and I’d like to lose myself in those eyes again if at all possible.”

Good naturedly Alec looked around them, pretending to scour the area for everything Magnus had just described. "He’d have been a fool not to miss you too, but those features do tend to stand out a bit, so I think you’ll have no trouble finding him. Or, you could just settle for me. I missed you, too. A lot.”

Flirting with Alec, complimenting him, it all came so easily for Magnus and it was one of his favorite things to do. He loved watching Alec blush, see him splutter and stutter when he couldn’t figure out how to respond or when Magnus just completely caught him off guard and now he had twelve years of flirting and flattery to make up for.

“I go where you go, Alexander. If you want to remain here in Peru then I will remain here for as long as I can. At some point, I have to return to London. I can’t rely on others to do my job quite as well as I do and I am certain that at some point Ragnor is going to hate having to deal with the Clave as often as he does and not just because he works at the academy but because I refuse to deal with them and at some point so will Ragnor. But until then I go where my boy is. Besides, you have yet to see the home that Ragnor, Catarina and I have here and that is a travesty that we must remedy as soon as we can.

“You aren’t going to screw up, Alec. We’re both older now. Wiser. We’re far more comfortable with each other and we know what we want and more importantly, we’ve learned how to talk about it, something we clearly didn’t know how to do then. I have faith in you, Alexander. I have faith in us.”

He nodded at what Magnus was saying. “I just - Peru feels safe to me, that’s all. I haven’t left this place or even this city in a decade, and it’s home now, I guess. I’m not opposed to leaving here, going somewhere new, angel knows I don’t have any friends here that I’d miss - sorry Tom - but I feel like it’s a crutch that I need. Just for a while, until I get used to things again. And yeah, there is your house to visit. We have to do that because I’ve been very curious about how two or three warlocks flocking together, live. I also kinda want to know what your London digs are like,” he paused. “I’m hopeful that I’m not just older, that the wiser part is in there too. I didn’t think I’d get a second chance and I just want to be careful not to screw it up. That’s all.”

Magnus didn't blame Alec for feeling like he did about Peru. He wished he could have seen this country for the first time under different circumstances but he understood why he came here. The Clave couldn’t reach him here. This was one of the few countries in the whole world that didn’t have an institute and where the Clave couldn’t reach. After what they did - Magnus didn’t blame him in the least for being reluctant to leave. He recalled quite well what the Clave did to those who broke their rules but Alec was no longer on his own. Magnus was with him now and he would be damned before he let the Clave hurt Alec any more than they already had.

“That makes sense but hopefully it won’t be too long. There is so much world out there, Alexander. So many things for you to see that you can see now that you aren’t tied to the Clave and I can’t wait to show it all to you and to experience it all with you, starting with my home here and hopefully at some point in the near future my home in London. I think you’ll like it. At least I hope you will.”

There were many, many reasons that Alec liked Peru and wanted to stay there. The safety and familiarity were one of them, the homebody in him liked that most things were right there by him and he didn’t have to venture far. The second reason though had vanished. It was one of the more appealing things about the place for years, that he would never run across Magnus there, but that reason was gone. And he was glad that it was gone.

“You did have a talent for urging me into traveling, I think we covered quite a lot of places when we were together before, maybe you can do it again. And being a free agent, we can take our time and see things that we couldn’t before when I was tied to the Clave. But I’d love to start with London, and reacquainting myself with our cat that I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned before now,” he remarked, looking over at Magnus. “This isn’t Chairman the sequel, right? Still the original man himself?”

"It is very much the same Chairman.” Magnus began, his finger idly circling the rim of his drink. “I find myself very attached to him and some of the memories that were made with him so I've helped him remain around a little longer. I'm sure he'll be beyond happy to see you once more. But we can talk about him later cause if I get going now the date will completely derail into cat memes and the five thousand pictures I have of him on my phone."

Alec just grinned a stupid grin at it being the same cat. Others may have seen it as odd to be as attached to an animal that wasn’t his own as Alec was to the Chairman but he was just as much an extension of Magnus and Alec had often found himself seeking comfort in the cat until the man he had been looking for appeared or returned.

“I like that you and I are handling the mechanics of this thing before we just traipse off into the stupid, but, your self-control is legendary, it’s been established, and we both know that I have very, very little. And I just want to kiss you, forego most of this conversation and just kiss you until I’m dizzy with it. But, I have one more question I want to ask you before I do that if you don’t oppose to my doing that, and then we can get back to business.”

Magnus wanted to take another drink but the bitterness from his first drink still clung tightly to his senses so instead he pushed the Manhattan aside and sipped on his water, listening to Alec and taking what he said to heart. This was good. This was really good. All of the talking they had been doing was good for them. It would have been so easy just to jump back into things, to fall back into old habits and routines but to have done such a thing would have doomed them. History most certainly would have repeated itself and that was something that Magnus was determined to never have happened ever.

“This is good, Alexander. Us talking like this. Clearing the air, handling things like adults even though I just want to push you against that wall over there and kiss you until your knees are weak and your lips are swollen. I’ve wanted to do that for so long now, I still want to do that. Every single part of me wants to do that but I like that we’re going slow, working on things, fixing us. It gives me hope for the future and that is something that I haven’t had in a very long time.

Picking up his water glass he took a long drink from it, long enough that the waiter came back with their orders and placed them on the table, asking if they needed anything else. Magnus had been tempted to ask for a different drink but after the first screw up he wasn’t willing to risk it and instead flashed their waiter a bright smile before thanking him and dismissing him.

“Ask away, sweetheart. I don’t want for there to be any secrets between us so if you want to know something, ask.”

Alec ran his hand through the hair he had tied back, amused. “You want to kiss me too? My, you haven’t let on that you have. I thought I was alone in the sentiment." Alec’s smile became warmer, more relaxed than it had been when the evening started. It was like all the tension had slowly drained from him leaving a real person behind in its absence. It was nice to have this feeling. It was nice to be a little more like he used to be so long ago. That boy would never come back, not fully, but there were little pieces of him that had lingered and were now coming to the forefront.

“You’re such a sap, Magnus,” Alec was blushing, he could feel the warm touches prickling the skin of his face. He reached back out for Magnus’ hand and held it lightly across the table. “Sappy always looked good on you.”

"But, sadly, you have to wait for two minutes while I ask you a question that has been nagging at me for a month. You said you weren’t having a dinner party like was said when - they were taking my marks. What were you doing? I’m just curious, and really, you don’t have to answer because the answer doesn’t weigh on my current thoughts of you, I just want to know.”

That was not what he had been expecting to hear Alec ask and his hand froze, his fork poised above a scallop as Magnus looked up from his food. He tried not to think of that day, of the things that had happened, the things he had heard, the things he had been kept from doing after James had shown up. As often as he tried not to think about it though was as often as it invaded his mind and his dreams, the scene playing out in a gruesome fashion as though to torment and torture Magnus because he certainly didn’t do that enough to himself.

“I was there,” Magnus said softly as he set his fork down. “I was there when they - when they did what they did. The Clave tried to keep it from me, tried to keep me from finding out but Isabelle told me. She sent me a message at the last second that they were going to strip you and I-” Magnus paused, licking his lips as his voice cracked. He could still hear Alec’s screams, the sound echoing throughout the Institute like it had and echoing just as loudly in Magnus’ mind. “I tried to get to you. Several of your former colleagues thought to stand in my way and try to prevent me from getting to you but they went down at my hands and I don’t regret for single a moment attacking them as I did.

“Several of the council members who thought to stand in my way went down as well. I tried to get to you, to help you, to protect you in any way that I could but the Clave played dirty. They had Silent Brothers, namely, they had James standing by. I don’t know if they expected me to try something or if he was there for some other reason, I never asked. But they had him there and I tried to go through him. I tried to fight him and those who stood around him but - they’re Silent Brother’s for a reason and the next thing I remember is waking up in my flat, James, Tessa and Catarina all staring intently at me.

“I tried to get to you, Alexander. I did. But they wouldn’t let me. None of them would let me.”

His eyes were trained on Magnus. Alec had never asked him to clear up things or what he had meant that first night, but it seemed like every time he saw his scars, which, for the first time were partially displayed as he wore a shirt with short sleeves, he wondered about it. Where had Magnus been? But the answer he got was not at all what he had been expecting. Nor was how Magnus had looked so stricken as he answered him.

“I didn’t mean to - dredge up bad memories for you. I thought maybe you would say that you stayed at home and got drunk in my honor, or that the rumors were true and the dinner party took your mind off of,” he paused, swallowing. “I didn’t know you were there. I didn’t - no one ever said anything, and after that, I don’t think I talked to anyone as I healed.”

He didn’t know what else to say, he - how was he supposed to respond to that? The memory seemed to be a fresh one for Magnus and one that hurt him as much as it did Alec. Without thinking about it too much, he left his chair and moved over to Magnus, settling in his lap, an action that Alec would never have done before but he was so caught up in wanting to wipe that look from Magnus’ face. “I shouldn’t have asked you that tonight, I should have waited,” he said as he gripped Magnus’ face gently between his hands and tipped his face slightly towards him. “Don’t let that memory spoil this.” He ran his thumb across Magnus’ bottom lip and hesitantly leaned forward to press his lips to Magnus’ in a chaste kiss.

Any conversation they were having regarding Alexander’s siblings, travel, living together and even the Chairman was forgotten as memories Magnus would never be able to rid himself bombarded his mind. Alec wasn’t the first deruning he had borne witness to but it was the most painful and it was something he had wanted to ever repeat. He had not intended to be present when Edmund lost his runes but it happened by chance and even to this day he could hear Edmund’s screams echo throughout the institute. For the longest time, it was a memory that had haunted him but now it was replaced with the cries of someone he loved, someone he loved so much that it hurt and that he had been unable to do anything for.

Magnus had fought to get to Alec when he had realized what was going on and he had almost gotten there. If it hadn’t been for James interfering and getting between him and Alexander - literally - he was certain that Alec’s deruning would have gone much, much differently than it had.

He didn’t hesitate when Alec settled himself in his lap, his arms wrapping tightly around his waist as he buried his face in his neck, inhaling deeply a scent that always calmed him. Alec had always been a very calming presence for him and now was no different. His lips pressing lightly against Alec’s throat, taking comfort in the steady feel of his pulse beneath his skin.

“No memory of you is a horrible one, my Alexander. Not even that one. Most would think that it would be a horrible memory but instead, it is one of great regret. I tried to get you. I tried so hard to make it to you, to help you, to do anything I could to protect you but the Clave seemed to have anticipated that and brought in the only person, or as he was at that time the only being who could stop me.

“By the time I woke you were gone and no one would tell me where. I raged at James for days before I stopped speaking to him altogether. It was cruel of me to place all of the blame upon him but I didn’t have anyone else to blame other than myself so I turned my anger on the only other person I could because there was nothing else that I could do.”

He smiled sadly at Alec as his hands came up to rest on his wrists, his thumbs rubbing over patches of smooth and scarred skin.

“Nothing, not even that memory could ruin this. It is who we are. It is part of who we are and it will help to shape what we are becoming.”

His breath caught in his throat at that first brush of Alec’s lips, his entire body freezing for a single moment before a fire rushed through him and he pulled Alec closer, his lips pressing harder against Alec’s.

Alec smiled into the kiss, parting his lips slightly and tilting his head a bit and slowing it down, kissing Magnus leisurely as though he had all the time in the world. He didn’t want the first kiss after so long, his first kiss in so many years, to be rushed and messy, though that would have been nice, too. But he wanted to taste Magnus’ lips, enjoy the goosebumps that rose on his skin and the strong, solid feel of Magnus, just Magnus, under his fingers.

“Magnus,” Alec said after pulling back a bit, his eyes crossing a little as he looked down at Magnus’ mouth. “It may sound - might sound horrible, but I’m glad you were there. For me. Even if our paths didn’t cross then, it’s a comfort for me to know this now.”

Kissing Alec, be it kisses that lead to something deeper, something more passionate or kisses that just reaffirmed that they were together and they were present was unlike anything Magnus had experienced in a very long time. He had forgotten just how present Alec made him feel and he had missed this. Missed how perfect and how right it felt when they were together and how even with something like a chaste kiss it made Magnus feel more alive than he had in his entire life.

He took advantage of Alec’s parting lips to nip at them lightly, his hold on Alec tightening as he kissed him slowly, relishing in the feel of Alec’s lips against his own.

“I wanted to be there for you so much more than I was.” He said as he rested his forehead against Alec’s. “I wanted to protect you. I know that we weren’t speaking and hadn’t spoken in a long time but I never wanted any harm to come to you. Especially not because of me. I tried to protect you, I did, but failed. It was just another failure on a long list that I racked up very quickly where you were concerned.”

Alec kissed lightly at Magnus’ top lip as he spoke, closing his eyes as their foreheads met. This was perfect to him, this was the perfect moment, the perfect person - everything about it was amazing and made him feel things he hadn’t felt in a long time. His hands rubbed in a smooth motion down from Magnus’ shoulders and down to his chest, and back up again.

“You know, they told me that I could keep my marks and my standing if I denied that we were a we, that what I had with you was nothing more than a business relationship, but I couldn’t lie. I didn’t want to deny us because despite what happened and that we were over by then, being with you was something I never regretted. You didn’t fail me, it was you that made me stand up and be a man, take charge of my life and my destiny more than once. And you’re doing it again. That’s not failing me, you’re saving me again.”

A soft sigh came from Magnus as he nipped at Alec’s lips once more, pulling him just that much closer as he kissed him lazily. The time for rushed, passionate kisses that would lead to something more, something deeper, something where emotions and feelings could be explored in a much different way would come later. For now, he was content to refamiliarize himself with what it felt like to not only hold his Alexander again but to kiss him again.

“I despise the Clave,” he said softly, no malice present in his voice but his words meant every bit of malice possible. If it were not for the fact that the Clave and their institutes all around the world provided a great deal of work and a large livelihood for his fellow warlocks, Magnus would have outright attacked them, Accords be damned. He couldn’t do that to his fellow warlocks though and instead, he had just cut off all contact with them, leaving it to Ragnor to deal with them.

“I never meant for any of this to happen. I will never regret what we had, what we shared and most certainly not what is to come. You are the best part of my life, Alexander. You always have been and you always will be. I hate that they tried to diminish that and that they took something so important to you away from you but I never once regretted a single moment of our relationship.”

A grin tugged at his lips as he gave his boy Eskimo kisses that gave way to another chaste kiss, his hands had settled on Alec’s waist, fingers resting lightly on the warm skin just beneath his shirt.

“What do you say we call dinner early tonight? I’ll send what we haven’t finished back to your home and we can continue the rest of this date on the beach beneath the moonlight?”

“It doesn’t matter, not really. I’m making a try to correct things now that I haven’t thought about beyond my hiding and getting far, far away from New York. But, you were worth it. And you’re still worth it, to me.”

Alec laughed into the Eskimo kisses, the playfulness that the moment had just taken on thrilled him. From memories long-buried he recalled that the playfulness and laughter were always followed by more intense, more passionate things.

“Sap, Magnus,” Alec said, kissing him on the mouth again. And again. And again a bit longer, with just a small tease of his tongue. He stroked the back of Magnus’ neck lightly and still made no move to leave his lap. “You and moonlight, us alone on the beach...appeals to me a great deal more than my salad. But you do realize that Jace will probably eat everything if you send it to my house.”

Magnus could have spent hours kissing Alec. In fact, he had done that on several occasions before. Kissing Alec was one of his favorite things to do. Drawing sounds and feelings from him with just his lips was an intoxicating thing to do. In the past he had done it as often as he could and up until very recently he wasn’t sure if it was something he was going to get to do again but as he kissed Alec again, tongue flicking out to taste his boy, really taste him, he was determined to do it again until neither of them could breathe or remember their own names.

“Your sap,” he said with soft laughter and a snap of his fingers that had their dinner boxing itself up before it disappeared in a shower of purple sparks.

“If he wants to eat it, let him. I’ll summon the perfect picnic for us once we reach the beach. A blanket, basket, champagne to celebrate with. A variety of fruit. The perfect sappy night on the beach with my Alexander.”

It was easy to forget they were in public when Magnus’ tongue brushed his, and he moaned into his mouth, moving to deepen the kiss but remembering himself as he pushed himself back. His eyes though, his eyes held a promise of more later, more kisses like that when they were finally really alone together and a waiter wasn’t in and out every few minutes.

“You made me a sap. And you’re making me a bigger one with all of this romance on our first date,” he stood and straightened his clothes before he bent down for one more kiss. Angel, he’d forgotten how addicting that mouth was. He held out his hand. “Come on, I’d like to get back to what we were doing. No, anxious to get back to what we were doing.”

Magnus’ laughter rang out at Alec’s words and it took every ounce of willpower Magnus possessed not to pull Alec back down into his lap and continue to kiss him senseless. He was selfish and there wasn’t a single part of him that wanted to share any bit of Alec with anyone else. Especially not if he was going to continue to make those sounds that had the hair on Magnus’ arms standing on end. He had missed this. How well he and Alec fit together, how easily things with him came and how, even after all of this, things were effortless.

Standing, he took hold of Alec’s hand, pulling him flush against his side as a shower of sparks fell from his other hand, a stack of coins and paper money appearing on the table, enough to cover the meal and a very generous tip for a waiter who had been wise enough to give Magnus plenty of alone time with his Alexander. He was thankful that they were still alone on the patio for it made opening a portal that much easier.

With an arm wrapped tightly around Alec’s waist, holding him firmly against him, he pressed another kiss to Alec’s temple before stepping through the portal, the purple glow fading behind them and leaving the patio empty, the fountain’s water the only sound to be heard.