part one: swiss army romance
you’re dying to look smooth
with your tattoos
but you’re searching just like everyone
The good thing about going to shows at The Hideaway is that Alec can tell his parents he’s going over to a friend’s house to hang out and it’s technically the truth. He and Eddie are friends after a fashion, or at least acquaintances, after all the time Alec’s spent there in the last few months. And he is going to Eddie’s house. The fact that Eddie has basically made his basement an underground music venue isn’t relevant.
They let him go with Aline with barely a glance, just a reminder to be home by midnight. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve known Aline since she and Alec were in middle school. But it was Aline who dragged him to his first show, back in December.
The Hideaway is outside the town limits, past the last new subdivision, in an old farmhouse, which is probably the only reason it hasn’t been shut down yet. The field next to the house is already filling up with cars. It’s nearly March and still below freezing, but they leave their coats and gloves in the backseat and walk over the frozen ground to the house with the hoods of their hoodies up and their hands shoved into their pockets. Alec would probably like to run to the warmth of the thrown open basement doors, but that would look desperately uncool and Alec already has a hard enough time fitting in. Anyway, they won’t need their coats once they’re inside and overheated from the crowd.
There are kids outside smoking, and pre-show music wafts out of the open basement door. Aline is on high alert as soon as they pay their ten bucks and head inside.
“What are you gonna do if you do you see her?” Alec says in her ear. He has to shout to be heard over the music, even this close. “Turn the other way and walk out again?”
“Shut up,” Aline hisses. “It could be different this time!” Alec laughs and uses his height to clear a path to the coolers. Their entrance fee gets them unlimited cans of Beast until they run out. Alec and Aline will likely only have one, but they’ve got to get them now or they’ll all be gone.
There’s no backstage at The Hideaway. There’s no stage, really, just a section of floor with a drum kit, some microphones, and a circle of amps, with two decent speakers mounted on precarious stands to either side. It means that the bands are just hanging out with everyone else before they play and it means that Alec spots the drummer for New Year’s Project without looking too hard.
“Two o’clock, by the window,” he tells Aline. Aline looks, then turns away, studiously avoiding even looking at that side of the room.
“I thought this time was going to be different?” he asks her.
“I need liquid courage,” Aline mumbles into her beer. Alec shakes his head. If this is anything like the last three times they’ve come to see New Year’s Project, Aline will drink her beer, shove her way to the front for their set, stare at an oblivious Helen Blackthorn the entire time, then be everywhere Helen isn’t for the rest of the night.
Alec teases, but he can’t say he’d do anything different if he felt as strongly about someone here as Aline does about Helen. It’s just as well, because for all their claims to counterculture he’s figured out pretty much everyone here is straight.
Alec still doesn’t have a lot of close friends here besides Aline, but they’ve shown up often enough now that there are lots of kids he knows, and he falls into easy conversation with a few of them until the music starts.
The first band has the unfortunate name of Champagne Enema, but they’re not bad. They’re not as hardcore as their name suggests, but a pit still forms in the middle of the floor, so Alec drains the rest of his beer, leaves his hoodie with Aline, and throws himself into the nearest flailing body.
For the next twenty glorious minutes there’s nothing but the music and the slam of bodies together. Alec loses himself in the pure physical sensation and the strange camaraderie between himself and everyone else throwing themselves at each other.
When Champagne Enema screams out “thank you!” and starts packing up their instruments, Alec is covered in sweat – his own and other people’s – probably bruised to hell, and helplessly grinning. He finds Aline leaning up against the wall. “I’m gonna get another beer, you want?”
She shakes her head. “I’m gonna get a good spot,” she says. Alec nods and barely stops himself from teasing her further.
He spends his time in line trying to catch his breath. When he finally gets to the cooler he finds a couple lonely cans left so he quickly snags one. After a second of thought he grabs a couple ice cubes and holds them to the back of his neck. He sighs in relief at the coolness.
“Hey, swiss army romance, you wanna let other people get a drink too?”
Alec startles, dropping the ice, thankfully not down his shirt. A couple people titter in laughter. Alec doesn’t know exactly how he’s being made fun of, but he’s been around long enough to recognize when someone is making a reference he doesn’t understand.
His cheeks burn. He turns around to deliver some sort of scathing retort, and then chokes on his own words. Of course this asshole is basically the most beautiful man Alec has ever seen.
He watches the guys eyes widen slightly, probably because Alec has straightened up to his full height, which is taller than this guy.
Unfortunately he can’t take advantage of it. He’s still blushing and and he can’t remember a word he was going to say. He knows he looks like an idiot and he hates it. He manages to roll his eyes and walk away. He hopes someone else took the last beer while this guy was making himself look cool at Alec’s expense.
Fuck. This attitude is the one thing that sucks about coming here.
When he finds Aline, haunting the edge of the amps, he’s still blushing and the euphoria of the pit is completely gone.
“You okay?” Aline asks, distracted.
“Yeah, just …” Alec doesn’t know how to explain and doesn’t want to get into it. “Nothing.”
And then Helen Blackthorn sits down at the drumkit so Alec doesn’t have to explain anything.
That night when he gets home Alec carefully brushes his teeth and gets ready for bed before he sits down at his desk and turns on his computer. He bites his lip as it boots up.
Swiss Army Romance, he types into the search engine.
Okay, he thinks, when the results come up. He’s heard of the band, but he hasn’t really listened to them. He clicks on a lyrics page and reads.
His heart beats faster as he reads, flushing in anger and embarrassment even though he’s alone.
And you’re dying to look cute in your blue jeans
But you’re plastic just like everyone…
You could be anyone
It isn’t just that the guy was making fun of him. Like he could see straight through to Alec’s soul, he knew Alec’s just faking it the best he can – in the scene, at school, with his family. He saw it, and he let everyone standing there know it.
Frustrated tears prick at Alec’s eyes and he blinks them away furiously. It’s fine, he tells himself. It feels worse because he was beautiful, stunning really, and he looked at Alec and immediately saw that Alec’s not any of that. But that’s fine, because Alec already knew that. The scene was supposed to be a place where that didn’t matter, but of course that’s not true and Alec already figured that out.
Alec turns off his computer with a vicious jab of his finger and goes to bed.
It stays with him.
All week as he goes to school and practice, when he’s with Aline and Izzy, when he’s having dinner with his family, there’s a nagging voice in the back of his mind, a restlessness in his hands and feet, telling him he’s a fraud and if that guy could see it right away then maybe everyone else can too.
Alec hates this about himself, the way he can’t let anything go. He should just forget about it. He knows that guy already has.
Still, when he goes CD shopping with Izzy after school on Thursday he finds himself drifting to the Ds, rifling through until he finds Dashboard Confessional. There are several options, but he picks the one with that song on it. Because if he’s going to keep pressing on the bruise it might as well be the right one. And this way he’ll know what people are talking about at least.
Izzy’s still looking, but Alec takes his CD up to the front to wait. Raphael, who usually works on Thursdays during Alec and Izzy’s CD binge, has on his perpetually bored expression. Alec used to find him intimidating, but he’s actually been helpful in his recommendations for Alec’s widening music tastes. He makes suggestions without being judgemental, and that’s something that Alec can appreciate.
He looks at the disc Alec puts on the counter and says, without changing his expression, “If you’re getting into Dashboard, you should check out Further Seems Forever, it was Chris Carrabba’s band before he left to do his solo thing.”
Alec nods like he knows who that is and makes a move to go back into the aisles. Raphael stops him with a gesture and goes to get it himself, then moves around to the other side of the aisle and picks up another CD that he brings back to the counter.
“You might like Something Corporate, too. You wanna listen?”
“Sure,” Alec says, and Raphael pulls out the Discman they keep behind the counter and hands Alec the headphones.
Alec presses play and the piano swells in his ears. He closes his eyes. It’s not moshing music, but it makes his heart beat faster and something swell inside his chest and up his throat nonetheless.
He listens through two and a half songs before Izzy taps him on his shoulder, ready to check out. Alec opens his eyes and takes off the headphones and the real world suddenly rushes in again.
“You want it?” Raphael asks.
“Yes please,” Alec says. Raphael nods and rings them both up.
Usually it’s an argument about who can listen to their new CD in the car on the way home, but Alec doesn’t want to listen for the first time with Izzy, not when everything still feels so close to the surface. So he lets Izzy play her music, something with lots of guitar and synth and girls screaming. Alec actually doesn’t mind it, but he can’t tell Izzy that or he’ll never get to listen to his own music again.
Halfway home, Izzy turns down the music and says, “Okay, what’s up with you?”
“What? Nothing.” Alec pretends he really has to concentrate on the road, even though he drives this way multiple times a day.
“You’ve been weird all week,” Izzy says, “and you didn’t even try to make me listen to your whiny boy music.”
“It’s not whiny,” Alec says automatically.
“It is,” Izzy says. “And that’s not the point.”
“I’m fine, Iz.” What’s he supposed to say? A pretty boy was mean to me, and it made me sad. It’s ridiculous. He’s not a child anymore.
“I’m going to get it out of you eventually.”
“There’s nothing to get out of me,” Alec insists.
“Fine,” Izzy says. “What are you doing this weekend?” Alec shrugs. One of the kids from the Hideaway is having a party, but he doesn’t know if he wants to go. “Buffy marathon?”
“Season two,” Alec says.
“Season three,” Izzy insists.
“Do you want me to attend this marathon?” Alec asks.
“Ugh, fine, season two” Izzy says, giving in way too easily, which means that this marathon is entirely for Alec’s benefit. He can’t even care. Suddenly he wants nothing more than to watch old episode of Buffy with his siblings this weekend.
“I’ll invite Aline too,” Alec says.
“Cool,” Izzy says with a smile.
Alec feels better already.
By the next weekend, Alec feels better enough to go to The Hideaway dance party.
The dance party takes place every few months when there are no bands scheduled to play and Eddie himself or one of his friends DJs a night of fun music that everyone can dance to. It’s considered a highlight of the The Hideaway calendar. This is only the second dance party since Alec’s been going to The Hideaway, and at the first one he barely knew anyone and didn’t have the confidence to dance as much as he’d have liked. He’s been looking forward to this one and he refuses to let that asshole ruin it for him.
Still, he’s nervous. He fidgets in Aline’s front seat, picking at his t-shirt – much tighter than he was wearing four months ago – and his jeans, also tighter than he used to wear. Some of the guys buy girls’ jeans, but Alec’s legs are too long for that. It’s just as well; he’d probably look ridiculous.
“Okay, what is with you?” Aline snaps as they turn off the highway. She sounds eerily like Izzy, and Alec briefly regrets that they’re such good friends.
“You’re fidgeting like a toddler. You haven’t been this nervous going to The Hideaway in months.”
“It’s nothing,” Alec says.
“Bullshit,” Aline says right back.
Alec stares out the window, but there’s nothing to see but fields and the entrances to subdivisions. “Someone said something, last time,” he admits. “But it’s fine.”
“What did they say?” Aline asks sharply.
“He said I was fake, it’s not a big deal.”
“Okay, well it seems like a big deal if it’s making you nervous.”
“He said it in front of a bunch of people, and they laughed. It messed with me for a little bit, but I’m over it.” Alec’s mostly over it, anyway.
“What an asshole,” Aline fumes. “Who was it? I’m going to kick his ass.”
“Please don’t,” Alec says. “That will only make it worse.”
“Just tell me who it was so I can be passive aggressively mean.”
Alec concedes the point. “I don’t know his name,” he says. “Asian, a little shorter than me, hair shaved on one side. He had a sleeve tattooed with some kind of flower on his left arm.”
Aline slams on the brakes so hard Alec’s seatbelt locks and nearly chokes him.
“What the hell?” They’re lucky there aren’t any cars behind them.
“Are you talking about Magnus Bane?”
“Jesus Christ, Aline, drive. I don’t know who Magnus Bane is.”
“Alec, he’s a legend. He like, founded the Idris scene.”
Alec, stung that he’s once again being reminded of how little he knows, folds his arms across his chest. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to know that,” he says. “Can you drive?”
Aline begins driving again, but Alec doesn’t relax.
“Sorry,” Aline says eventually. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just always wondered what he was like.”
“Apparently he’s an asshole,” Alec says.
“Supposedly he got super bitter after his last break up.”
“Can’t imagine why anyone would break up with him,” Alec deadpans. Aline snorts.
“He is pretty cute though,” she says.
“How would you know?” Alec asks.
“I’m a lesbian, not blind,” Aline states.
Alec bites his lip, then admits, “He’s cute. More than cute. It kinda made it worse.”
Aline nods. “Well, fuck him. You’re not fake, you’re the best. And we’re gonna have fun tonight, right?
“Right,” Alec says with a smile.
“Then get pumped, Alec Lightwood!” Aline yells and turns up Cute Without the E until the car is shaking and belts out the lyrics with Adam Lazzara.
Alec joins in, and they sing until they park in the field next to The Hideaway, and they dash to the doors still laughing.
The Hideaway dance party isn’t like the school dances that are Alec’s only other reference for a dance party. The music is way better, for one.
The dancing is different, too. Nobody’s grinding on each other here, or trying to look sexy. There’s a lot of jumping up and down and arm pumping, and sometimes there’s moshing, and mostly it’s just people letting go and having fun, and that’s why the dance parties are so popular.
They get beers and as soon as they’re done Aline drags him into the dancing mass. She seems determined to stick by his side tonight, and Alec doesn’t mind. It means he gets to spend the night dancing with his best friend. They jump around, they sing to each other, and Alec spins Aline under his arm until she’s dizzy. They’re having so much fun, Alec stops thinking about Magnus Bane for the first time in two weeks.
They take a break after a little while and Aline offers to see if there are beers left. Alec sags against a wall and tries to catch his breath. He’s glad he came.
Right up until Magnus Bane steps in front of him and says, “Hey.”
He looks good with his hair falling perfectly over one eye and little bit of eyeliner and a tight, soft-looking Thursday shirt. Alec doesn’t understand why Magnus would be talking to him unless it’s to embarrass him again. The thought makes his throat tighten and the buzz of good feeling threatens to fade away completely.
He pushes off the wall to go find Aline but Magnus reaches out and grabs his wrist and he’s going past.
Alec flinches and pulls his wrist back, breaking Magnus’ grip. Magnus’ eyes widen in surprise.
“Why?” Alec asks.
“Why do you want me to wait?”
Magnus’ eyebrows furrow like he’s confused. “Because … I wanted to talk to you?”
“Why?” Alec grits out. “Aren’t I plastic just like everyone? I’m sure you can find someone more interesting to talk to.”
He leaves Magnus blinking, mouth open, like it’s a shock that the person he publicly humiliated two weeks ago doesn’t want to hang around and let him do it again. Hell, he’s apparently a big deal around here, maybe people do let him. Alec may be a fraud, may be too uncool for Magnus, but he’s got more of a backbone than that.
“Was Magnus Bane just trying to talk to you?” Aline asks as she hands him his beer. Alec keeps walking, hoping to get as far away from Magnus as possible.
“Yes.” Alec cracks the beer and takes a long sip. He doesn’t even like beer, not really, but he’s gotten so used to drinking it it almost feels comforting.
“What did he want? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Alec says. “I don’t know what he wanted, I didn’t let him get that far.”
“Good,” Aline says. “God, what an asshole.”
Alec shrugs. “Let’s forget about it, come on.”
They find a couple kids they know and fall into easy conversation with them while they drink their beers. It’s getting easier to have these conversations with the kids here, to follow the endless labyrinth of references they make as easily as breathing. Sometimes now he even offers up his own opinion on whatever music they’re discussing. He’s about to suggest they go back to dancing when Magnus Bane sidles up to their group.
“Hey Magnus,” Duncan says enthusiastically, and Alec tries hard not to rolls his eyes. He catches Aline’s eye and tilts his head in the direction of the dancing. She nods and chucks her beer can in the nearest bin.
But they don’t get three steps away before Magnus says, “Alec, wait.”
Alec freezes. He never told Magnus his name, which means that Magnus had to find someone and ask. What is with this guy? Alec sighs and turns back.
Magnus takes Alec’s failure to leave as permission to speak. “Can we talk for a second?”
If Alec refuses, if he just walks away, in front of everyone, it would be a big thing. Everyone would be talking about how Alec and Magnus have a feud, and they would be wondering why. People would take sides and they would side with Magnus because no one knows who Alec is. Alec doesn’t want that. “Okay,” he says.
“Will you be okay?” Aline asks quietly, but apparently not quiet enough for Magnus not to hear because he grimaces.
“Yeah, it’ll be fine,” Alec says with more confidence than he feels. Aline doesn’t look convinced, but she lets him go, though not without an assessing look at Magnus that viscerally reminds Alec of her mother.
Magnus leads Alec to a battered loveseat inside a small alcove constructed of bookshelves that Alec didn’t know was there. There’s a couple making out on it but they vacate quickly when Magnus clears his throat.
Alec’s not impressed and he’s pretty sure his face is letting Magnus know it because he grimaces again.
“Sit?” he asks. Alec sighs again and does. “I wanted to apologize,” Magnus says and Alec’s eyebrows shoot up his forehead. “I really wasn’t thinking about that part of the song when I said that. But I realize now how it could sound. I didn’t mean it that way.”
“What part were you thinking about?” Alec asks. He knows the whole song by heart now. His inability to let shit go resulted in almost constant listening for a straight week.
“We’re not 21, but the sooner we are,” Magnus says. “No offense, I just assumed you weren’t.”
“I’m not,” Alec admits.
“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” Magnus says.
Alec considers. Magnus didn’t have to apologize, but he did. “I might be a little over sensitive,” he allows. “I’m pretty new and not everyone’s been nice.”
“I don’t think you were over sensitive. Some people are assholes. I … was definitely one of them that night. Sometimes my first instinct is to be witty at other people’s expense, because like you said, not everyone’s nice. But it’s not always a good one.”
“I guess I was holding up the line,” Alec says.
“Can I ask you a question?” Magnus asks, turning on the loveseat and pulling his knee up.
“Is Aline your girlfriend?” Alec blinks his surprise at the non-sequitur. “It’s just that no one seems to know for sure.”
Alec squirms at the idea of people talking about his love life, and then flushes at the thought that Magnus wanted to know enough to ask.
“No,” he says quickly. “We’re—” he stops himself. “I’m gay,” he says instead and flushes deeper because it’s only the third time he’s said that to someone and he hadn’t quite meant to say it.
You’re an idiot he tells himself. He might have asked because he likes Aline.
But Magnus smiles wide and leans closer. Alec, helplessly, leans in as well, drawn in by that smile, until their legs are almost touching. “I didn’t think so,” he says, “because I’ve seen the way she watches Helen, but it might just be that she’s a superb drummer appreciator, which is totally understandable.”
Alec has to smile. “One day she’s gonna get up the nerve to talk to her. And by one day I mean, like, maybe one day in a decade or so.”
Magnus throws his head back and laughs and Alec’s throat goes dry. Oh this is bad, he thinks helplessly.
“Maybe we can facilitate something happening sooner than that,” Magnus says. Then he puts a hand on Alec’s wrist and Alec nearly combusts. “And thanks for telling me, about you. I know not everyone’s cool, but thanks for trusting me. Anyway, I’m bi, so you and me and Aline and Helen can be the founding members of The Hideaway Queer Club.”
“Only if I get a button,” Alec says solemnly.
“Buttons!” Magnus exclaims. “Alexander, you’re a genius. Of course we need buttons! And a secret handshake!”
“Would it really be a secret if we had buttons?” Alec asks.
“Oh, they’d know what it was for, but nobody would be allowed to learn it.”
“This is getting more and more complicated. Sounds like we need a treehouse so we can have meetings.”
“I’m sure Eddie would let us use one of his trees,” Magnus says, and he sounds so serious that Alec has to laugh.
“You’re ridiculous,” he says.
“Frequently,” Magnus says. Alec smiles, wide and stupid, but he can’t help himself. Then Magnus says, “Well, I need a cigarette,” and Alec realizes he’s making an idiot of himself.
“Oh yeah,” he says, leaning back. Of course Magnus doesn’t want to waste his whole night in a corner with Alec. “I’ll see you—”
“Come with me?” Magnus asks.
“I don’t smoke,” Alec says. Like an idiot.
“I won’t hold it against you,” Magnus says. “Just come so we can keep talking.”
“Oh, okay, sure.”
He follows Magnus outside, wrapping his arms around his waist in an attempt to ward off the cold that doesn’t work at all. You are going to freeze your nuts off just to impress some boy, he berates himself. But he doesn’t go back inside. Magnus is a very, very pretty boy.
Magnus lights his cigarette and then jumps up and down a few times.
“This is why I need to quit,” he says, and immediately takes another drag.
“Also they’re bad for you or something,” Alec says. Magnus waves off that objection.
“We’re all gonna die someday.”
“Wow, that’s really deep,” Alec deadpans. Magnus laughs, thankfully.
It’s apparently impossible for Magnus to stand around out in the open without people wanting to talk to him. He seems to know everyone. Well, he would if he’s as important to the scene as Aline said. Alec expects him to eventually abandon Alec for one of the people he knows better, but each time, Magnus just says, “Do you know Alec?” And people nod or say “hey man” and most people try to include him in the conversation after that.
They stay outside while Magnus smokes through two cigarettes and stands increasingly closer to Alec while complaining about the cold, until their arms are touching and Alec really hopes the red on his cheeks will be attributed to the cold.
“Then let’s go inside, you lunatic,” Alec says after about the 50th time Magnus complains.
“Oh, you wanna go inside? If you insist, Alexander. See you guys later,” he waves at the people they were talking to and drags Alec back inside.
He kicks different people off the loveseat this time and drags Alec to sit down with him, then goes off on an impassioned rant on why Eli, the current DJ is so much better than Lorenzo (“Eli’s not afraid to play the fun stuff. Lorenzo thinks he has prove how much cooler than everyone else he is.”), the current Saddle Creek lineup (“Bright Eyes is always going to be great, he can afford to branch out a little.”), and then he makes his way back to Dashboard Confessional.
“The thing about Swiss Army Romance,” he says earnestly, “is that it’s really about the whole scene. Not just Idris, but all over.” They’re turned to each other, nearly touching in the middle of the loveseat, heads bent low to each other. Alec occasionally loses the thread of Magnus’ stories because he’s cataloguing the shades of brown in his eyes, but he doesn’t think Magnus notices. “When he calls the you in the song plastic, it’s not an insult. He’s acknowledging that everyone puts on a mask, everyone’s trying to figure out who they are, you know? You’re searching just like everyone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just where we’re all at.”
“Uh huh,” Alec says.
Magnus smiles and ducks his head. “Sorry, I think I’m talking too much.”
“No,” Alec says. “I didn’t think of it that way when I listened to it. I like it better the way you describe it.”
“It’s not really a song that’s like, ‘you suck,’ it’s about how no one has it all together, so you shouldn’t be throwing stones.”
“Not even you?” Alec asks.
“Especially not me,” Magnus says. “Actually, when I saw you the other week I—“
Magnus cuts himself off and sits up straight. Suddenly he scrambles off the loveseat and grabs Alec arm to pull him up. “Alec, come and dance with me right now.”
Alec lets Magnus pull him to the dance floor that got a whole lot more crowded when A Praise Chorus started playing. The crowd means they’re pressed close while they jump and scream the lyrics at each other. Magnus’ unselfconscious joy is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He greedily takes in everything, knowing he’ll want to remember every detail of this night for a long time, from the jut of Magnus’ throat when he tilts his head back to the way sweat has smudged the eyeliner around his eyes and the way he smiles every time he catches Alec’s eyes.
“I wanna always feel like part of this was mine!” He sings out, holding Magnus’ gaze. “I wanna fall in love tonight! I wanna fall in love tonight!”
He’s in so much trouble, and he doesn’t even care.
are you gonna live your life standing in the back looking around?
are you gonna waste your time?
gotta make a move or you’ll miss out
i’m on my feet
i’m on the floor
i’m good to go
all i need is just to hear a song i know
Hello, welcome back to 2003.
As you might have noticed, the chapter count has gone up. That's because this chapter became a monster and had to be split in two. Seriously, next time I saw "I'm gonna write X, it'll be done in 10k words! 15k tops!" just point me to this story.
A reminder that there's a soundtrack for this story, here. It's updated when the story is updated. Any song or band mention should be on there. If you want some atmosphere for reading or you have no idea what the fuck Clarity is, check it out.
This chapter contains minor spoilers for Donnie Darko. So if you are for some reason worried about being spoiled for a nearly 20 year old movie, be aware. But if you haven't seen it you should totally watch it.
Hashtag for this story is #thishopefic if that's what you're into.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
part two: a movie script ending
and now we all know the words were true
in the sappiest songs, yes yes
i’ll put them to bed but they won’t sleep
rainraindownn: so, afi, huh?
twobrokenwingsx: Yeah. That’s actually how Aline dragged me into this whole thing.
rainraindownn: you say that like you didn’t come willingly. i’ve seen you in the mosh pit. you look pretty willing to me.
twobrokenwingsx: Well I wasn’t at first.
twobrokenwingsx: You haven’t seen me in the mosh pit.
rainraindownn: oh i have, alexander. but you’re telling me a story. why weren’t you willing?
twobrokenwingsx: There isn’t really a story. I’m sure you’ve noticed I just pretty much suck at social situations. But Aline played enough music I liked in the car that I agreed to go with her to a show.
rainraindownn: i don’t think you suck at social situations.
twobrokenwingsx: You don’t have to lie about that, I know I do. You know I do. I literally couldn’t even think of what to say when we first met.
rainraindownn: you thought i’d insulted you, that’s a totally different situation. you seem to do fine most of the time.
rainraindownn: most of the people at the hideaway like you.
twobrokenwingsx: Most of the people at the hideaway don’t know who I am.
twobrokenwingsx: And I’m fine with that.
rainraindownn: you underestimate yourself, i think.
twobrokenwingsx: ANYWAY, AFI.
rainraindownn: you’re gonna have to learn to take a compliment if you keep hanging out with me.
rainraindownn: but okay, we can change the subject.
twobrokenwingsx: And that’s when Jace fell off the fire escape he’d been hiding on to listen in on her conversation. He sprained his ankle and was a total pain about it for like 3 weeks.
rainraindownn: wait, who’s jace?
twobrokenwingsx: My brother.
rainraindownn: i thought your brother was max.
twobrokenwingsx: Jace is my other brother, he’s Izzy’s age.
rainraindownn: HOW MANY BROTHERS DO YOU HAVE ALEXANDER.
rainraindownn: they’re twins?
twobrokenwingsx: Just the two.
twobrokenwingsx: Oh no, Jace is adopted.
rainraindownn: your house must be fun.
twobrokenwingsx: I can’t tell if that’s sarcastic or not.
twobrokenwingsx: But either way, the answer is yes, sometimes. But right now Jace is away at school so it’s slightly quieter. Only slightly.
rainraindownn: they sent the adopted kid to boarding school? harsh.
twobrokenwingsx: It’s not like that. Jace’s parents and my parents were friends. They died in a car crash when Jace was 9. Anyway, they had set up trusts for his education and they’d planned on sending him to Deerfield, because his dad went there or something. My parents weren’t gonna make him go, but they gave him the choice and he decided to do it. He actually really likes it there. Which was a surprise. I was expecting him to beg to come home after 3 months.
twobrokenwingsx: What about you? Any siblings?
rainraindownn: no. only child here.
rainraindownn: i don’t really have any family. my mom died when i was 13 and my stepdad and i never got along. as soon as i graduated i moved to idris and i haven’t seen him since.
twobrokenwingsx: I’m sorry.
rainraindownn: i probably have some family back in indonesia, but my mom didn’t have a lot of contact with them after she married my stepdad, so i never knew them.
rainraindownn: the flowers on my tattoo are for my mom, actually. they’re the flowers of indonesia.
twobrokenwingsx: They’re really beautiful.
rainraindownn: thanks :)
rainraindownn: but let’s change the subject away from depressing things and back to you telling me amusing stories about your misspent youth.
twobrokenwingsx: I wouldn’t call it misspent.
rainraindownn: let me have my dreams, alec.
twobrokenwingsx: Okay, okay, sorry. Don’t want to trample on your dreams.
rainraindownn: are you awake?
rainraindownn: what are you doing up? don’t you have school tomorrow?
twobrokenwingsx: I was writing a paper, but now I can’t sleep. How was work?
rainraindownn: it was work. drunk frat boys and sad old men drinking alone. i should tell you to go to bed, but i’m selfishly glad you’re here to talk to me.
twobrokenwingsx: Shouldn’t you go to bed too?
rainraindownn: it always takes me a couple hours to wind down after work
twobrokenwingsx: what do you usually do?
rainraindownn: listen to some music, read some blogs. watch a movie sometimes. i was thinking about watching donnie darko again.
twobrokenwingsx: I’ve never seen it. Is it good?
rainraindownn: alec! you’ve never seen donnie darko? we must fix this as soon as possible.
twobrokenwingsx: So it’s good then.
“Alec? Are you still awake?”
His mother’s voice startles Alec out of his contemplation of his and Magnus’ conversation. He quickly clicks over to his nearly completed paper as his mother opens the door, in her pajamas and robe, but with her make up still on.
“Hey mom,” he says. “Just finishing up this paper.”
“It’s due tomorrow?” She asks.
“Friday,” Alec says. “But I got on a roll so I figured I’d just finish it.”
“It’s late, honey,” she says. “You can finish it tomorrow.”
“Yeah, sorry, I didn’t realize how late it was.” His mom smiles tiredly at him.
“Go to bed.”
Alec nods. “Night mom.”
twobrokenwingsx: gotta go.
rainraindownn: you’re not getting out of this.
twobrokenwingsx: wouldn’t dream of it.
rainraindownn: speaking of dreams, have sweet ones.
twobrokenwingsx: yeah uh you too.
Alec goes bed still blushing.
On Wednesday Izzy meets him outside the locker room after track practice.
“I’m staaaaarving,” she says before he can even say hi.
“Isn’t that my line?” he asks, slinging his backpack over one shoulder and heading to the door.
“So you’re hungry too?”
Alec’s cell phone ringing stops him from answering. He’s expecting it to be Aline, or maybe Jace, but instead the display informs him it’s Magnus and he nearly drops it.
“Shit!” he says as he fumbles it. He manages to catch it and flip it open without destroying it. “Hello?”
“Alec, hey,” Magnus says.
“Hey,” Alec says. “Is everything alright?”
“Why do you immediately assume something’s wrong?” Magnus asks, and Alec can hear the pout in his voice even if he can’t see it.
“You’ve never called me before,” Alec points out. Although they exchanged numbers as well as screen names after the dance party, for the past week and a half they’ve communicated entirely through IM. Alec thought about calling sometimes, but chickened out every time. At least with IM he has time to gather his thoughts before speaking.
“Well, I do have a favor to ask,” Magnus admits. “But I could just want to hear your voice. You don’t know.”
“What do you need?” Alec asks. He holds the door for Izzy with the hand not holding the phone and they head out into the gray afternoon toward the student parking lot.
“My car died on my way back from class. I’m waiting for a tow, but I was wondering if you could give me a ride back home? I figured you’d be out of school by now?”
“Yeah, sure,” Alec says. “We’re just leaving. Where are you?”
“Who was that?” Izzy asks when Alec hangs up. Alec inwardly curses his penchant for blushing. There’s literally no way he can brush this off. That doesn’t mean he can’t try.
“Just a friend of mine,” he says, trying for casual. “His car broke down, so we’re gonna give him a ride.”
“A friend?” Izzy asks, “or a friend?”
“Um,” Alec says.
“Or like a friend but you’re totally pining over him?” He says nothing and she says, “Ooooh, what’s his name?”
“Magnus,” he says, and then adds, “and if you purposely embarrass me in front of him I will literally never speak to you ever again.” They reach his car and throw their bags in the backseat, then settle in. They have a brief argument over the CD player before Alec gives in, too nervous to put up much of a fight. Izzy waits until they’ve pulled out of the lot to bring up Magnus again.
“You really like him, huh?”
“Yes,” Alec says quietly.
“Does he like you back?”
“It seems like maybe he likes you back. Is he the one keeping you glued to your computer lately?”
“He’s like …” Alec trails off trying to find the words to actually describe Magnus. “He’s older and he has all these friends and it’s like, I think I’m just new and seem shiny? But it’ll probably wear off.”
“Hey, you’re shiny,” Izzy says.
“I’m really not,” Alec says firmly. “I kinda just wanna enjoy this while it lasts.”
“If you like him that much, you should give him some credit. If he’s really worth it he’s already realized how amazing you are.”
Alec doesn’t respond for a few minutes. It’s not like he can argue with Izzy about this, but he doesn’t know what about him Magnus thinks is interesting and he can’t help but wait for the other shoe to drop. It was almost easier when he thought Magnus thought he was a poser. At least then he didn’t know what Magnus sounded like when he laughed, or what it felt like to be the sole focus of Magnus’ attention. He doesn’t want to lose those things, but he thinks it’s inevitable that he will.
“He’s also really hot,” he says finally. Izzy snorts out a surprised laugh. “Like, really hot,” he continues. “Like, out of my league hot.”
“No one’s out of your league,” Izzy protests.
“You’ll see when you meet him,” Alec says.
Magnus is sitting on a curb waiting for them in the strip mall with the good Chinese restaurant, hood up and cigarette between his fingers. He looks up and smiles when Alec stops his car in front of him, then flicks the cigarette away and stands.
Alec rolls down his window. “Only you can prevent concrete fires,” he says.
“Fuck off,” Magnus says, but steps back and grounds out the smoldering butt with the toe of his sneaker. “Hi,” he says when he slides into the backseat. “Thanks for coming to get me.”
“You must be Magnus,” Izzy says, turning in her seat. “We were gonna go to Diner 15, wanna come?”
“We were?” Alec asks.
“That’s what I was leading up to before Magnus called,” Izzy says. “You said you were hungry.”
“Did I?” Alec looks at Magnus in the rearview mirror in time to see him laugh.
“You must be Isabelle,” he says. “I will gladly come to the diner with you. We wouldn’t want Alec to waste away.”
Alec rolls his eyes, but he turns left to go to the diner. Their parents won’t be home until late anyway.
“Good music choice,” Magnus says. “I love this album.” Izzy turns in her seat again.
“You like Tegan and Sara?”
“Sure. They’re great.”
“I thought maybe you only like that whiny boy music that Alec listens to.”
Alec winces, but Magnus just laughs. “I like a lot of music. A lot of it, admittedly, consists of whiny boys. But they’re my people, so you have to cut me some slack.”
Izzy gives Magnus a considering look. “You don’t seem whiny.”
“That’s because you didn’t know me when I went through my last break up,” Magnus says easily. “According to my friends all I did was whine.”
“I’ll allow it,” Izzy says. “If you can teach Alec to have some taste.”
“Hey,” Alec says, feeling the need to defend himself. “I like Tegan and Sara. I just like Sleater-Kinney better.”
“See, you don’t need me,” Magnus says. “Alec’s fine on his own.”
Alec smiles, and when he goes to look at Magnus in the rear view mirror, he finds Magnus looking right back at him.
Diner 15 is just off Route 15 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The tables are topped with formica and the walls are covered in terrible faded photographs of New York City. There are little jukeboxes in all the booths, but only half of them work and they don’t have any music made after 1985.
It’s Alec and Izzy’s favorite place in the world.
“I’ve never been here before,” Magnus says when they’ve slid into Alec and Izzy’s favorite booth and Magnus has picked up his menu. “We always end up at The Palace because it’s near The Hideaway.”
“You’re missing out,” Izzy tells him.
“Clearly,” Magnus says. “How’s the grilled cheese?”
“Usually simultaneously burned but also raw and sometimes you get that good rubbery texture,” Alec says.
“Perfect,” Magnus says. “Are you guys even gonna look at the menu?”
“We kinda know it all anyway,” Izzy says. “Magnus, will you split chicken fingers?”
“He’s a vegetarian,” Alec tells her.
“Ugh,” she says.
“At least I’m not straight-edge too,” Magnus says lightly.
“Fine, mozzarella sticks?”
“Yes,” Magnus says.
“It would be okay if you were straight-edge,” Alec says, “Izzy’s just being a brat.”
“I understand,” Magnus says, “that some people are insufferable about it. Lorenzo recently decided he was vegan and now I’m apparently not allowed to eat cheese in his presence and it’s very annoying.”
“Do you even like Lorenzo?” Alec asks.
“Do you?” Magnus asks instead of answering.
“I think he’s a little full of himself. But I’m not the one who hangs out with him.”
“I don’t know,” Magnus says. He puts his menu down. “We’ve just always had the same friends but never really got along. The scene here is too small to really avoid people.”
“Our school is like that sometimes,” Izzy says. “But then you get to graduate and lose touch with people. When do you get to graduate and lose touch with Lorenzo?”
Magnus shrugs. “I guess when I get my shit together, figure out what I want to do with my life, and leave Idris,” he says, uncertainty shading his voice. But if it’s anything he doesn’t want to talk about, he’s saved by their waitress coming to take their order.
“I told you you were hungry,” Izzy says once they’ve ordered.
“I never said I wasn’t!” Alec says and flicks his straw wrapper at her.
“He always gets like this after track practice,” she says to Magnus. “You have to feed him or he gets cranky.”
“You’re the one who wanted to come here,” Alec says, but they both ignore him.
“Alexander,” Magnus says, “I didn’t know you ran track!”
“He’s on the varsity team,” Izzy says proudly. Alec blushes.
“Oh my God, you’re a jock,” Magnus says, a wide smile stretching across his face. “I can’t believe I didn’t know this.”
“I’m not a jock,” Alec protests.
“You’re kind of a jock,” Izzy says.
“Says the assistant captain of the girls’ lacrosse team,” Alec shoots back.
“He also competes nationally in archery,” Izzy says.
“Your school has an archery team?”
“No,” Alec grumbles, giving up. “I was in a travel league.”
“Wow,” Magnus says. “I’m so glad my car broke down today. Who knows how long it would have taken you to tell me this. Archery. Well, that explains the shoulders.”
“What’s wrong with my shoulders?” Alec resists the urge to hunch them. His parents and coaches spent a long time training him out of it when his growth spurt hit.
Magnus and Izzy both laugh and Alec bites his lip, willing the blush in his cheeks to go away. Izzy must notice, because she reaches across the table and pokes his arm.
“There’s nothing wrong with your shoulders,” she says. “They’re nice shoulders.”
Magnus nods. “They’re definitely not skinny emo boy shoulders. They were the second thing I noticed about you”
Alec blinks. He thinks that was a compliment, but he’s not sure. “What was the first thing?”
Magnus looks down at the table and smiles a small, secretive smile, then looks up. “Oh look, our appetizer is here.”
“Eat a mozzarella stick, Alexander,” Magnus says, and shoves one into Alec’s mouth.
Which Alec immediately spits back out onto the table. “Ow! Fuck! Magnus, that’s hot, what the hell?”
Magnus and Izzy laugh while Alec gulps at his soda, and they’re having so much fun he can’t even be mad.
Magnus’ apartment is in a building Alec didn’t even know existed between a car wash and a law office on the edge of what little downtown there is to be had in Idris.
“Thanks again for picking me up,” Magnus says when he takes his seat belt off. Izzy had insisted on sitting in the back on the way home, so Magnus sat in the front seat next to Alec. He went through all of Alec’s CDs and then put on Weezer, then he sang along and asked Alec questions about school and archery. “And for dinner. I had a lot of fun.”
“It’s no problem,” Alec says. “We had fun too. You’re welcome to join the Lightwood sibling diner excursions any time.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Magnus says, then pauses. “Speaking of things I’m holding you to, I still have to show you Donnie Darko.”
“Okay,” Alec says.
“So I was thinking, I know New Year’s Project is playing on Saturday, but do you think Aline would be okay if you skip it just this once?”
“Um,” Alec says, trying to form words from the helpless circles his brain is spinning in, wondering if what he thinks is happening is actually happening. “Probably?”
“Cool, well do you wanna come over and watch it? You already know where I live.”
“I have a meet in the morning,” Alec says in what he hopes is a very normal voice, “but after that, yeah.”
“Cool,” Magnus says, his white teeth flash in the dark when he smiles. “I’ll see you on Saturday then. Thanks again!” Then he’s gone, slamming the car door and walking to his building. He waves before he shuts the door.
“Oh my God, Alec,” Izzy says. She doesn’t bother getting out of the car to get in the front seat, just climbs over the center console, nearly kicking Alec in the process. “Oh my God, he just totally asked you out, like right here.”
“Shut up,” Alec says faintly. Did that just happen? He can’t think about it right now. He puts the car into gear and concentrates on driving them home.
“Oh my God, he totally likes you.”
“Maybe,” Alec says into the dark. “Maybe.”
Not only is Aline okay with Alec skipping the show on Saturday, she practically forbids him to go. When Alec makes half hearted noises about not wanting to leave her alone, she points out that she actually has a lot more friends there than he does.
“Wow, cold,” he says, but he knows she doesn’t mean it like that, and besides, it’s true.
He’s grateful for his meet on Saturday morning. If he didn’t have something else to focus on he’s pretty sure he’d make himself sick from nerves.
He relents and lets Izzy help him with his hair, which he doesn’t bother with most of the time. He’s thought about growing it like a lot of kids the in the scene do, but it mostly grows out instead of down and he decided not to bother. Now seems like a good time to bother.
His parents are so used to hearing that he’s going to a friend’s house they don’t even ask him for details, just assume he’s meeting Aline there.
The sun is low in the sky when he parks outside of Magnus’ building and takes a moment to quietly and intensely freak out. It’s not even really a date. Magnus didn’t say the word date. They’re just hanging out. Alone. At Magnus’ apartment. In the dark. Fuck.
“Okay, Lightwood,” he says, “just get up there and don’t make an ass of yourself.” Then he gets out of the car.
When Magnus opens the door he nearly loses all the cool he spent so long trying to gather. Magnus looks amazing. It’s not all that different from what he might wear to the Hideaway: a deep blue v-neck t-shirt and tight jeans, but he’s wearing less eyeliner and his hair looks softer. Like he didn’t dress for everyone, just for Alec.
“Hey,” he manages to get out.
“Hey,” Magnus says. “My place is up two flights of stairs.”
Alec nods and follows him up the stairs, trying and failing to not stare at his ass.
Objectively Magnus’ apartment isn’t anything special. It’s a studio with a small kitchenette on one side, and a futon, currently acting as a couch in the middle. Most of the space is taken up by a long low entertainment center with a decent TV and an expensive stereo system. There are shelves and shelves of CDs and even records.
“Wow,” Alec says.
“It’s a dump,” Magnus says quickly. “But it’s home.”
“No, it’s nice.”
“You don’t have to be polite,” Magnus laughs. “Anyway, I ordered pizza, it should be here soon. Are you hungry?”
Alec is starving, the way he always is after a meet. “I could eat,” he says.
“Have a seat, I’ll set everything up,” Magnus says. The only place to sit is the futon, and Alec has a brief existential crisis about how close he should sit to the middle before he forces himself to just sit before he’s been standing too long.
Magnus sits a careful foot from Alec when he’s done putting in the DVD. Alec tries to pay attention to the movie, but he’s hyper aware of Magnus, how close he is and how often they almost touch. He’s jumpy and has to force himself not to fidget constantly.
It’s easier when the pizza gets there, and Alec can focus on eating instead of Magnus. Still, with all the moving around to eat, when the pizza is done they’re pressed together from hip to knee. Alec is pretty sure he’s going to implode. But somehow, right around the time Noah Wyle gives Donnie the book, Alec relaxes and gets really absorbed in the movie.
By the time Mad World fades into the credits, the sun has set.
“Wait, that’s it?” Alec asks. “He’s just dead? For good?”
Magnus shifts and Alec realizes they’re now pressed together along their entire sides. Magnus is warm and comfortable and Alec doesn’t want to move, so he doesn’t. Magnus doesn’t seem to mind, anyway. “He sacrificed himself to save Gretchen and the rest of the world. That’s the outcome he wanted.”
“But she’ll never know,” Alec says. He can’t explain the low level distress the thought causes. It’s only a movie, but it got under his skin. Magnus shifts away so he can turn and look at Alec. Alec’s arm feels cold, goosebumps prickling where Magnus was touching him.
“I like to think that she knows, somehow. Or that she knows that something important happened.”
“I don’t know if that’s better or worse,” Alec says after he thinks about it for a moment. “To know that something happened, but to not know what it is. That would drive me crazy.”
Magnus nods. “True. Maybe she’s the one who finds Roberta Sparrow in the new timeline.”
“Hmm,” Alec says, and leans his head back on the couch, stretching his neck out.
“Um,” Magnus says. Alec turns to look at him without lifting his head. “Are you tired? We could watch another movie.”
“I’m not tired,” Alec lies. His track meet is catching up to him, but he has hours yet before he curfew and he doesn’t want to leave. “What do you want to watch?”
“Maybe something lighter.” He stands up and stretches and Alec lets himself watch, his mouth going dry. Magnus saunters over to a shelf of DVDs. “Oh, but in keeping with our 80s theme, how about this.” He holds out a case for Alec to see: The Breakfast Club. “Tell me you’ve seen this one,” Magnus says.
“Of course I’ve seen The Breakfast Club,” Alec says. “Yeah, let’s watch that.”
Magnus switches the DVDs and makes his way back to the couch, but he doesn’t turn it on. “Hey, can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Alec says, pulling himself to sit upright.
“Every other high school senior I’ve ever known is freaking out about colleges right about now. But you haven’t mentioned it once.”
“Oh,” Alec says. He runs a hand through his hair. “That’s because I got my acceptance letter in December, so I mostly just have to worry about keeping my grades up and graduating.” He doesn’t know why he’s embarrassed to talk about it. Maybe because his parents had made such a big deal out of it, seeming truly proud of him for the first time in a long time, announcing it to everyone. Alec hated to feel like he was bragging when so many people he knew were sweating it out waiting for their letters.
“You got in early decision? Where?”
“Columbia,” Alec mumbles. Magnus’ eyes widen and his face falls for just a second he smiles and pushes Alec lightly on the shoulder.
“So you’re like, athletic and smart and have great taste in music? Are you sure you’re even real?”
Alec ducks his head, blushing again goddammit, but he manages to say, “Not after watching that movie. Are we sure we’re even in the right timeline?”
Magnus laughs softly, settling into the couch. “John Hughes will fix you. It’s impossible to have an existential crisis while watching a John Hughes movie.”
Alec sits back too, pressing his shoulder against Magnus’. Magnus doesn’t move away. “Okay, I’m ready. Fix me, John Hughes.”
Alec blinks his eyes open to dim lights and Death Cab for Cutie playing softly.
“Passing through unconscious states,” a voice sings quietly near his ear. Fingers curl into the hair at the base of his skull. There’s soft cotton beneath his cheek.
His head, Alec realizes, is resting on Magnus’ shoulder, and Magnus’ arm is curled around him. He must have fallen asleep during the movie. He blinks again and tries to tilt his head up, but gives up and presses his nose back to Magnus’ shoulder. The fingers in his hair still.
“No,” he mumbles into Magnus’ t-shirt. “Feels nice.”
Magnus lets out an audible puff of air, half laugh and half sigh. But he goes back to scratching through Alec’s hair.
“Mmm,” Alec hums out his appreciation.
A part of him is aware that he should be mortified that he fell asleep on Magnus, but he’s not all the way awake yet, and the darkness and the music and the hand in his hair is making that problem seem far away.
He finally pulls together the will to move just enough to lift his head and look at Magnus. They’re only inches apart. Magnus is already looking down at him, one corner of his mouth quirked up in a sideways smile. Alec feels caught, unable to look away, but unsure of what to do.
Magnus leans down and presses his lips gently to Alec’s.
Alec freezes for a second. Only for a second, but long enough for Magnus to pull back, and that’s the last thing Alec wants. He chases Magnus’ lips, one hand reaching out to hold the back of Magnus’ neck and keep him close.
The kiss is longer this time, long enough for Magnus’ tongue to lick against Alec’s lips until he opens his mouth and lets it inside.
He’s wide awake now.
Magnus kisses him slowly but thoroughly, and Alec kisses back, hoping his enthusiasm for the task will make up for the fact that he has no idea what he’s doing. They kiss until the angle of Alec’s neck starts to really bother him and he has to pull away. Magnus makes an unhappy noise.
“Just my neck,” Alec says to forestall any questions about whether he’s okay.
“Sorry,” Magnus says, but he’s smiling.
“Let me—“ Alec shoves himself into a more upright position and turns back to Magnus. Magnus is already reaching for him, sliding one hand across his cheek and around his ear. Alec pulls him in and pulls, until, without quite knowing how it happened, he’s on his back and Magnus is draped over him, kissing his chin and down his neck.
Alec tightens his arm around Magnus’ waist and tries to urge him back to his lips. Magnus goes easily and Alec hums into his mouth. He feels Magnus smile against his lips in turn.
Alec doesn’t know how long they make out like that. He knows at some point he shifts his legs wider so Magnus can fit more comfortably between them and it brings their hips into alignment and sends a bolt of pleasure straight up Alec’s spine. He breaks the kiss to gasp and Magnus takes the opportunity to nip at his earlobe. It has Alec perilously close to coming in his pants. His hands tighten on Magnus’ hips, holding them slightly apart from his.
“Magnus,” he manages to get out. “Wait.”
Part of Alec hates it, but he needs a second to breathe. Magnus pushes himself up so he can look at Alec’s face.
“A little too fast?”
“Yeah,” Alec admits, and feels like an idiot.
But Magnus says, “Yeah, me too, a little.” He shifts until their hips aren’t so intimately pressed together and tucks his head between Alec’s neck and shoulder. “Sorry,” he says into Alec’s skin. “Just got a little carried away.”
Alec wraps his arm around Magnus’ shoulders. “No, it’s okay. It was um, good.” God, that’s an understatement. “Really good.”
“It’s just as well. You have to leave soon if you’re going to make your curfew.”
“What time is it?” Alec asks.
“Ugh,” Alec says, but he doesn’t move. He wants to live in this moment forever. Where his lips are tingling from so much kissing and Magnus is warm and solid on top of him. The CD has repeated and Ben Gibbard is still singing about waking up on the highway. It’s perfect.
He lets himself stay there for a few moments before he says, “I should probably go.” He doesn’t move.
“Probably,” Magnus says. He doesn’t move either. Another minute goes by before Alec thinks about what his parents will do to him if he’s late and how that will mean not seeing Magnus. He reluctantly lets go of Magnus and pushes himself up onto his elbows.
Magnus pouts at him. It’s so cute Alec has to lean forward and kiss him again. Magnus kisses him back briefly before pulling back. He rests his forehead against Alec’s. “You gotta go now or I’m not gonna let you,” he says.
Alec groans. He thinks he’d like that, but the time on the DVD player is telling him he’s cutting it close. “Raincheck on that,” he says.
Magnus pecks him once the lips before standing. “Definitely. Actually, so you know The Get Up Kids are playing Roseland Ballroom next week?”
Alec sits up and shoves his feet into his chucks. “Yeah, but it’s been sold out for forever.”
“Well,” Magnus says, “Helen and I are going and we have two extra tickets. Maybe you and Aline could come with us?”
Alec stops tying his shoe. “Don’t you want your friends to go with you?”
“You’re my friend,” Magnus says.
“I know but…” Someone you like better, is what Alec almost says.
Magnus raises his eyebrows at him. “If it makes you feel any better Mark and Raphael were originally going, but Raph has to work and Mark lost the rock, paper, scissors game to babysit their siblings that night. So you’re not stealing anyone’s ticket or anything.”
“Raphael from the The CD Center?”
“Yeah, you know him?”
“Kinda,” Alec says. “He–” that’s not the point. “I mean, yeah, I’d love to go. Um, I’ll have to talk to Aline and my parents, but yes.”
Magnus smiles at him, big and brilliant. “Awesome. We can get the train into the city early and get food before we hit the line.”
“Cool,” Alec says.
He makes his way to the door, Magnus right behind him. He stops with his hand on the knob and turns back. “Um, thanks,” he says, “for the movie and the pizza and–”
Magnus stops him by pressing a finger to his lips before replacing his finger with his mouth.
“I’ll see you on Saturday,” he says into the scant space between their lips.
“Yeah,” Alec whispers. Magnus takes a deliberate step back. “I’ll IM you,” Alec says. Oh God, that was lame. But Magnus is still smiling.
“Not if I IM you first,” he says.
“Okay,” Alec says.
“Okay,” Magnus says.
“Um, bye,” Alec says and forces himself out the door and down the stairs. He doesn’t stop until he’s in the car with his seatbelt on.
“Holy shit,” he says to the steering wheel. His whole body is thrumming with energy. He can feel everywhere that Magnus touched. Magnus touched him. Holy shit.
He turns the engine on before he can hyperventilate about it. Clarity blasts out, grounding him. He reaches for his cell phone, discarded on the passenger seat before he went inside, and notices one new voicemail. He lowers the volume and calls his voicemail to listen before he starts driving.
“Alec, I did it. I FUCKING DID IT!” Aline yells in his ear, and then hangs up.
Alec smiles into the dark and turns the music back up.
i’m shaking at your touch
i like you way too much
my baby i’m afraid i’m falling for you
Fun fact: Donnie Darko came out in 2001 and the story took place in 1988. Which means that there's a bigger gap between me writing this story now and 2003, so I'm just gonna go hide my cave now.
Magnus' screen name is from Thursday's Paris in Flames. Alec's screen name is from AFI's The Nephilim because that's my idea of a funny joke.
When I was in college my best friend and I used to take people we were interested in to our favorite diner late at night and then see if they could keep up with us as a test. Izzy totally went easy on Magnus.
#thishopefic for all your livetweeting and hashtagging needs.
Hello, welcome to your irregularly scheduled dose of early aughts nostalgia. This chapter took longer than I expected to write and I'm sorry, but I swear there's only one left this time.
Reminder that there's a soundtrack if you want some ambiance or are wondering what the hell a particular song actually sounds like.
#thishopefic if livetweeting is your thing.
So The Get Up Kids didn't actually tour in the spring of 2003, but they did play Roseland Ballroom in 2002 so I'm calling artistic license on that shit. (Yes these are the things I research and worry about.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
part three: if you don’t, don’t
if you don’t don’t know why’d you say so?
would you mean this please if it happens?
if you don’t know why would you say so?
won’t you get your story straight?
Alec brings it up with his parents at dinner on Tuesday night. He has to be careful about this. His parents don’t really care where he goes or who with, but mostly because he doesn’t get into trouble and they don’t expect him to do anything exciting. But his curfew has always been ironclad.
“So,” he starts. Both his parents look at him expectantly. “Our friend was able to get Aline and I tickets to see one of our favorite bands in the city on Saturday. Would it be okay if we took the train in early that afternoon? I don’t have a meet that day or anything.”
His father smiles indulgently at him. “Sure, Alec, I don’t see why not.”
“The only thing is,” he says, carefully keeping eye contact instead of looking away like he wants to, “the show doesn’t start till 8 and then by the time we get back to the station and catch the last train and get back to Idris it will be past midnight.”
His mother frowns, so Alec pushes on before she can tell him no out of hand.
“So I thought maybe I could just spend the night at Aline’s so I wouldn’t wake you guys up?”
His mother frowns even deeper and his father shakes his head. “Alec, co-ed sleepovers are not–”
“It’s not like that,” Alec says. “Aline and I aren’t like that. At all. And her parents will be there. Please? We really want to see this band and pretty soon we won’t even live in the same state. Please?”
His parents exchange a look. It’s his mother who turns to him and says, “As long as you get all your homework done on Friday.”
Alec beams at her.
“And as long as her parents will be there,” she finishes.
“I will. They will. Thank you!”
“And keep your cell phone on you just in case.”
“Yes, mom,” he says.
Finally, her expression softens. “You’ve worked really hard this year, Alec, and we’re proud of you. Have fun on Saturday.”
“I will,” he says, and when he smiles at her it’s completely genuine.
twobrokenwingsx: All set for Saturday.
rainraindownn: excellent. train station at 1?
twobrokenwingsx: Are we really gonna stand in line for that long?
rainraindownn: you’ll thank me later. and aline and helen will thank me when they can see the stage.
rainraindownn: are you excited?
twobrokenwingsx: Of course.
rainraindownn: they put on a good show. i saw them when they came through last year and it was awesome.
twobrokenwingsx: I’m sure it will be great. But I’m mostly excited to see you.
twobrokenwingsx: I’m sorry if that was too much.
rainraindownn: not at all. it was really sweet. you’re really sweet.
twobrokenwingsx: Is that a good thing?
rainraindownn: yes, it’s a good thing. i’m excited to see you too.
twobrokenwingsx: Oh. Good.
twobrokenwingsx: I mean since we’re spending all day together waiting in line apparently.
rainraindownn: i’m telling you alexander, you will thank me.
It turns out that sitting in line for hours on end actually is kind of fun, if you’re with the right people.
They get sandwiches and bags of chips and water and take them to the Roseland to eat. The line is already a block long when they get there. They settle with their backs against a building and eat and talk, with Alec periodically throwing potato chips at Aline, which then leads to everyone throwing pieces of food at Magnus who tries to catch them in his mouth.
“What can I say, I’m good with my mouth,” he says after he catches three M&Ms in a row. Alec blushes.
The late March day is sunny but still chilly so eventually Alec ends up with Magnus on one side and Aline on the other pressed close for warmth. Helen huddles up to the other side of Aline and Alec wonders if half the point of waiting this long in line is the excuse to touch. If it is, he’s not complaining.
It’s the first time he’s getting to talk to Helen after all the months of watching Aline pine after her. She’s quieter than he thought she’d be, and little intense, and seems constantly surprised by Aline’s attention. Alec can relate. She has a dry sense of humor that Alec appreciates and he’s relieved that he likes her, because Aline’s crush has only intensified.
When the time for doors gets close, everyone stands and the excitement is palpable. It’s infectious. Alec finds himself grinning about nothing. Or maybe about the way that Magnus has made himself comfortable against Alec’s side and pulled Alec’s arms around his shoulders.
Once they’ve given their tickets and Alec and Aline’s hands have been marked with big black X’s Magnus pulls them along through the crush of the crowd onto the floor to a spot close to the front but to the side, where Aline can still see but it’s a little less crowded. Then there’s more waiting until the opening bands. The excitement ramps up again after the last one. Helen bounces on her feet and the crowd pushes forward, then back again.
Then the band is walking out and picking up their instruments and the noise swells. Alec’s screaming too, raising his arms as the lights come up and The Get Up Kids slam into Holiday.
A pit forms in short order, larger than any Alec’s ever been in. He itches to join in, but he doesn’t want to leave Magnus, who’s jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics and who looks so beautiful and free and happy. But halfway through the song Magnus leans over and screams in his ear, “Go on!”
“I’m good,” Alec yells back. Magnus shakes his head.
“You know you want you,” he yells, and Alec mostly can only tell what he’s saying from reading his lips. He pushes Alec a little toward the pit. Alec’s not gonna argue that much.
“I’ll be back,” he shouts over his shoulder. Then he throws himself through the crowd and into the pit.
Alec’s not even sure how much later it is when they take it down with a slow song and the pit fizzles out. He makes his way back to the group sweaty and bruised and grinning. He feels so good it’s easy to step up behind Magnus and slide his arms around his shoulders, duck his head into Magnus’ neck and kiss him there.
“Having fun?” Magnus asks, tilting his head back onto Alec’s shoulder. Alec nods and sways Magnus back a forth a little in time with the music.
They stay like that until the songs fades and suddenly it picks back up into Ten Minutes and they break apart as everyone screams and starts jumping again.
Magnus raises his eyebrows and tilts his head toward the center, asking if Alec wants to head back out there, but Alec shakes his head. It was fun, but he’s content where he is.
“If I had to explain it, I wouldn’t know where to start,” he shouts, pumping his fists in the air and smiling at Magnus.
“It’s like you’re falling in love while I just fall apart!” he sees Magnus sing.
Then Magnus reaches for the neck of Alec’s t-shirt and pulls him down to kiss him. Alec’s heart pounds like it does when he’s in the pit. It’s pure euphoria. He pulls Magnus in by his hips and kisses him back while The Get Up Kids sing that everything will work out.
Alec’s adrenaline runs out halfway into the train ride home. It comes on him suddenly and he cracks a huge yawn.
Magnus stops in the middle of his sentence and smiles. “You can nap on me if you want. I’ll stop talking.”
Alec shakes his head. “I’m good.”
“I’m just saying, it looks pretty nice,” Magnus says and points his chin across the aisle to where Aline is slumped against Helen’s shoulder. Helen’s arm is wrapped gently around Aline’s shoulder, holding her steady. Alec bites his lip against his smile.
“They’re cute,” he says softly so Helen won’t hear.
“They really are,” Magnus agrees. “Are you sure you don’t want to rest? We could give them a run for their money.”
“Maybe later,” Alec says. “Finish your story.”
Magnus tells him stories about shows he’s been to and bands he’s met until the train pulls into Idris station.
The parking lot is quiet and nearly empty, lit only by a couple of floodlights. It’s gotten cold again and their breath mists in front of them.
“Okay,” Magnus says. “I guess I’ll see you next week if you–”
“Um,” Alec interrupts him. “I told my parents I was going to spend the night at Aline’s.” Magnus doesn’t say anything, so Alec plows on. “But we didn’t tell her mom, so I could, uh, spend the night with you? If you want to that is. Or I could just go with Aline–”
Magnus cuts him off by pressing a fierce kiss to his lips. “Yes, I want you to come home with me, Alexander. Of course I do.”
“Okay, good. I just have to get my stuff from Aline’s car.”
“Go,” Magnus shoves him gently away.
“Are you going with Magnus?” Aline asks when Alec gets to her car.
“Yeah,” Alec says.
Aline smiles and winks unsubtly at him. “Have fun,” she says.
Alec knows he’s blushing, but he doesn’t care. “I will,” he says.
The problem with basically inviting himself to spend the night at Magnus’ place, is that he doesn’t know what to do when they actually get there.
The apartment is slightly messier than when Alec was last there. There are a few dishes in the sink and the futon is pulled flat, with the pillows and blankets in a heap in the middle.
“Sorry for the mess,” Magnus says. “I wasn’t expecting company.”
“If this is what you think is a mess, you should see Max’s room,” Alec says. Then, “Sorry for springing this on you. I really can go back to Aline’s.”
Magnus shakes his head and huffs out a laugh. “I think Helen will literally kill me if I interrupt them right now. Besides, having you here is a pleasant surprise.”
“Okay,” Alec says, and then has no idea what to do next.
“Do you want to watch a movie?” Magnus asks. It would give them something to do, but Alec shakes his head.
“I’m not gonna make it through a whole movie. Maybe some music?”
Magnus nods and makes his way to his rack of CDs and records.
“I’m gonna go brush my teeth and stuff,” Alec says. He retreats to the bathroom.
Once inside he glares at himself in the mirror. “Be cool, Lightwood,” he says. It doesn’t really help. He brushes his teeth and changes into the sweatpants he brought then takes one more deep breath and heads back into the apartment.
Magnus was busy while he was in the bathroom. There’s a record playing, something with an acoustic guitar and a woman singing. It sounds familiar, like maybe his mom listened to it when he was young. The record sounds a little scratchy, with the occasional warble or pop, but it almost sounds better that way. The sheets and blankets have all been straightened out on the futon, and Magnus is at the sink putting a dish in the drying rack.
“Who’s this?” Alec asks.
Magnus turns. “Joni Mitchell.”
“I like it,” Alec says.
“I bought it used for three dollars. It was one of my mom’s favorite albums.” There’s a few seconds of silence before Magnus says, “Okay, well I’m gonna take off this eyeliner. Make yourself at home,” and disappears into the bathroom.
Alec lets out a breath when the door closes. Maybe this was a bad idea, but he’s unlikely to get the chance again soon and he just really really wants to spend more time with Magnus. As much as he can get. He drifts over the futon and sits on the edge. He runs his hand over the blanket. It smells like Magnus.
“Hey,” Magnus says, sitting next to Alec. Alec didn’t even hear him come out of the bathroom. He looks soft in a bigger t-shirt than he normally wears and with most of his eyeliner gone. He looks like everything Alec’s always wanted.
“Hey,” Alec says. He cups Magnus’s cheek in his palm and runs his thumb over the cheekbone. He can’t stop looking at Magnus’ lips.
“I just wanted you to know I don’t expect anything from you,” Magnus says, but Alec thinks he’s looking at Alec’s lips too. “Just because we’re sleeping together, we can just sleep, if you want.”
“Okay,” Alec says, leaning closer. “But I don’t want to just sleep. Do you?”
“No,” Magnus says, and they’re so close now, the word is breathed across Alec’s mouth.
“I’ll tell you if I want to stop,” Alec says. “Until then, expect anything you want from me.”
Magnus answers him with a kiss, and Alec kisses him back. They fall back into the blankets, and when the record stops, neither of them notice.
Alec wakes much earlier than he would have preferred the next morning.
He’d like to blame it on the light coming through the curtain that didn’t quite get closed all the way, but the truth is that he didn’t sleep well. He hasn’t shared a bed since he and Izzy and Jace were kids, and while having Magnus sleeping beside him was exciting, he wasn’t used to it, and he woke up when Magnus moved, or breathed too loud. Sometimes he would wake up just so he could pull Magnus closer again and try to fall back asleep with the feeling of Magnus’ skin against his own. Once he woke up when Magnus pulled him back against his chest, held him tight and breathed against his ear before finally falling asleep again.
They’ve managed to separate a little bit so that when Alec opens his eyes he’s facing Magnus, noses only a few inches apart. Alec’s tired in a way that makes his eyes feel like they’re full of sand. He can already feel the soreness from the show in his muscles. He’s so happy he feels like he might burst with it.
He doesn’t mean to wake Magnus, but his eyes flutter open when Alec shifts.
“Morning,” he says, his voice a little rough from sleep and screaming at the show last night.
“Morning,” Alec whispers.
Magnus turns on his back and opens his arms a little bit and Alec wastes no time shifting over so he can snuggle up against his side and rest his head on Magnus’ chest. Magnus’ arms settle around his neck and back and he hums in satisfaction.
Alec thinks he might fall asleep again, but it seems he’s awake for good now. From Magnus’ breathing and the way his hand is stroking Alec’s neck, he is too.
“Can I ask you something?” Alec asks softly.
“Sure,” Magnus says, equally soft. His hand doesn’t stop stroking Alec’s neck and Alec almost reconsiders his question, afraid of disturbing the moment.
“People at The Hideaway say you got bitter after your last break up,” Alec says. Magnus’ hand stops. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but you mentioned it a couple times, and I was just wondering what happened. I mean,” he goes on when Magnus doesn’t say anything, “you don’t seem bitter to me.”
Magnus starts stroking his neck again. “Sometimes I forget that you don’t know. For a while it felt like everyone knew what happened and I couldn’t get away from it.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Alec says, even though now he feels even more desperate to know.
“No, it’s probably better if you hear it from me.” He drops a short kiss to Alec’s hair. “Do you know Junesong Provision?”
“They’re a band from Idris, aren’t they? Everyone talks about them but I’ve never seen them.”
“They’re on tour now, and who knows when they’ll be back. My friend Ragnor used to be the lead guitarist. When I graduated from high school and was moving out of my stepdad’s house, Ragnor needed a roommate, so I moved in with him. Junesong Provision was just getting started then, and there weren’t really any places to play around here. I don’t even remember how we met Eddie, honestly. But there were a bunch of us who were all into the music, and there was the band, and Eddie had a house, and between us we started our own little local scene, and it started growing.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after high school. I couldn’t afford to go to college, so I had a couple shitty jobs and I had the scene, and that was the thing I cared about.” Magnus takes a deep breath. “Camille was one of the people who was there at the start.” The name sounds familiar to Alec, like maybe he’s heard people saying it, but he can’t remember ever meeting her.
“She was a couple years older than me and she seemed … so cool, you know? She knew all the bands to listen to, and more importantly the ones not to listen to. She could get you backstage to any show. She modeled sometimes. I thought she was so out of my league, so when she wanted to date me, I just wanted to keep her. I would have done anything to make her happy.” He pauses for a second before going on. “I did do anything. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of. Camille thrived off of drama and I helped her make our scene really toxic for a while. Some people tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen. I thought we were like some emo scene fairy tale. I thought we were forever.”
“What happened?” Alec asks.
“Oh, well, she was cheating on me with the lead singer of Junesong Provision, of course. I caught them once, but it had been going on for months. Maybe even the whole time we were dating. Camille and I broke up, Shane and I aren’t friends anymore, and Ragnor ended up leaving the band because of it. It was public and messy and everyone knew what happened and everyone took a side.”
“It was. Then Junesong went out on tour and Camille went with them. Officially she’s tour managing, but I think mostly she just sells merch. And I stayed here and listened to a lot of Dashboard Confessional and got bitter.”
“The Best Deceptions?” Alec asks.
“On repeat for weeks,” Magnus confirms. “Raphael threatened to burn my CD.” Alec snorts a laugh and holds Magnus tighter, as if he can fix that hurt now. He knows he can’t, but it’s a nice thought. “Anyway,” Magnus goes on, “that’s pretty much it. Got bitter, swore off relationships, etc, and now we’re here.”
“I told you, you’re not bitter.” Alec pushes himself up on his elbow so he can look at Magnus.
“I am a little,” Magnus says. “I don’t know, Shane and Camille, they’re out there doing what they want, living their lives. I’m still here, and my biggest accomplishment is basically being popular in our tiny scene. It has no meaning outside of Idris or even outside The Hideaway. You have the right idea, you know. You’re going to college. You like the scene, but it’s not your entire life.”
“It doesn’t have to be your entire life either. You’re taking classes now.”
“Yeah, at Idris Community College. You’re smart, Alexander. You’re going to make something of yourself.”
“I’m not smarter because my parents could afford private school and a good college. You tried to explain your chemistry class to me and I had no idea what you were talking about. Besides, if you want to leave Idris, you could just … go. What’s keeping you here?”
Magnus doesn’t answer, just turns his head and looks at the wall. Then he turns back and says, “Your pillow talk is intense, Alexander.”
Alec ducks his head. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Magnus says. He reaches up and pulls Alec closer. “You make me think, and that’s a good thing. But I had other plans for this morning.”
Alec lets his body relax against Magnus, lets Magnus tilt his head up until their lips are close. “Oh yeah?” Alec asks. “What were your plans?”
“Hmm,” Magnus hums. He kisses Alec’s mouth, then pulls back. “I was thinking we could make out.” Another kiss, and Alec hums his enthusiasm for that plan. “And then we could go get bagels.” Another kiss. “And then I’ll drive you home.”
“Don’t like the last part,” Alec says. Magnus kisses his jaw and he tilts his head back further.
“Me neither,” Magnus says, “but I’m guessing your parents want you back at some point. Let’s not think about it yet.”
“Okay,” Alec says. And he doesn’t.
“Well, here we are,” Magnus says when he pulls his car up in front of Alec’s house and shifts it into park.
“Thanks for driving me,” Alec says.
“I wasn’t gonna make you walk,” Magnus says with a smile.
Alec doesn’t want to leave, but he’s acutely aware that his parents might be watching him lingering in an unfamiliar car, and that will prompt questions he doesn’t want to answer.
“So I’ll see you on Saturday?” he can’t help asking.
“Of course,” Magnus says. Alec smiles and unbuckles his seatbelt, reaching for the door handle.
“Wait,” Magnus says, his hand shooting out and grabbing Alec’s wrist. When Alec looks back, Magnus seems nervous, biting his lip and looking at the steering wheel.
“Magnus?” Alec asks. Magnus seems to make a decision and lets go of Alec’s wrist. He opens the center console and pulls out a jewel case.
“I made this for you,” he says. There’s no cover, just a silver CD with the word “Alexander” scrawled in black marker. A mix CD. Magnus made him a mix CD. He’s grinning so hard his cheeks are going to hurt later.
“Thanks,” he says. “There’s no tracklist.”
“You have to listen with no expectations,” Magnus says. “I’ll send you the tracklist tonight.”
“Okay,” Alec says. He looks down at the gift in his hand. It’s just a cheap CD-R in a cheap case, but Magnus made it for him and Alec wants to hug it to his chest and scream. He doesn’t. Instead he leans over and kisses Magnus quickly on the mouth, his parents be damned. “Thank you,” he says, and then gets out of the car before Magnus can say anything, or before Alec can beg him to drive them back to his apartment.
“How was your show?” his mom asks as he walks through the kitchen.
“It was really good,” Alec says without stopping, “I’m gonna go shower.” He jogs up the stairs and into his room, closing the door and locking it. He’s not supposed to, but he can’t be interrupted for this. He toes off his chucks and sits on his bed. He takes the CD out of the case and carefully puts it in the CD player on his nightstand. He lays down and reaches out to press play, the action so ingrained in his muscle memory he doesn’t even need to look.
Shake down you make me break
For goodness sake
I think I’m on the edge
Of something new with you
Alec closes his eyes and listens.
Alec sips his beer and tries to pay attention to the band thrashing it out on The Hideaway’s makeshift stage. There’s a pit in the middle of the floor, and normally Alec would be in there, but he’s too keyed up to enjoy it, so he leans against the wall and watches instead.
“So where’s Magnus tonight?” Helen asks him. She and Aline are standing close to each other, not quite touching. Alec zoned out of the conversation they were having and now it must be over. “It’s not like him to miss a Saturday, let alone three in a row.”
“He picked up an early shift,” Alec says. “But he should be here soon.”
And that’s why Alec can’t relax into the pit or focus on the music, his attention constantly on the basement doors, waiting for Magnus to show. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous except that it’s the first time he’ll see Magnus after they said goodbye on Sunday. After Saturday night and all the things they did together.
He’s listened to Magnus’ CD so much Izzy threatened to steal it just for a break, but his interactions with Magnus himself have been disappointingly few. With his rent due soon and a co-worker being sick, he picked up a bunch of extra shifts at the bar, and with Alec’s school and track schedule they’ve managed a few fleeting AIM conversations and not much else. It’s just bad timing, but Alec is anxious to see Magnus in person again.
Helen gives him a sympathetic look, like she knows everything he isn’t saying. It should probably embarrass Alec, but he figures if anyone is going to understand, it’s Helen and Aline. He does make a better effort at joining in the conversation though, and manages to go almost ten whole minutes without staring at the door.
The band finishes up and he still hasn’t seen Magnus.
“Anyone want another?” He asks. He probably shouldn’t, since he drove tonight, but he’s not even close to drunk and he needs something to do before he jumps out of his skin. For the first time he kinda wishes he smoked, just for something to distract him. Helen and Aline both shake their heads, so Alec shrugs and makes his way to the coolers.
He’s bent over to grab a beer out of the ice when he hears it, the distinctive sound of Magnus’ laugh. He straightens so quickly he nearly bumps into the kid behind him.
“Sorry,” he says. “Here.” He hands the guy the beer in his hand absentmindedly, his attention taken up by scanning the crowd for Magnus. He doesn’t see him at first, because he assumed Magnus would be near the door, having just come in. But Magnus is deeper into the basement, in a crowd of people, talking and laughing and gesturing with his hands.
A fission of nervousness crawls up Alec’s spine before he pushes it down. Magnus knows almost everyone and hasn’t been here in a while, of course he’d get sidetracked by people wanting to talk to him as soon as he walked in.
Alec heads over to the group. He manages to catch Magnus’ eye when he’s a few feet away and Magnus gives him a little wave. Alec sighs in relief.
“Hey,” he says, pushing himself into the circle next to Magnus. He reaches out for Magnus’ elbow, but Magnus spins away so that Alec’s hand closes on empty air. He makes it seem totally natural, so Alec doesn’t think anybody else realizes what just happened. Alec’s stomach drops to his knees.
“Alec,” Magnus says, “‘sup?” But he doesn’t wait for Alec’s answer before he goes back to whatever conversation he was having before Alec got there.
Alec swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. He wants to turn tail and run, away from Magnus, away from the basement, away from these people he doesn’t even like half the time. But he forces himself to stay, to smile at Duncan and make small talk. He refuses to let them see he’s wounded.
He doesn’t know how long he stands there talking to people without taking in anything, hyper aware of Magnus next to him, not touching him, not talking to him. Long enough so that when he makes some excuse about finding Aline nobody thinks it’s weird. He makes himself walk at a steady pace through the crowd and out the door. He meanders through the smokers and around the side of the house until he gets to the deserted front porch.
He sits on the steps, pulls his hood up, looks at his hands and wonders what to do.
He wants to go home, but he’s Aline’s ride. And there’s a part of him that thinks as long as he stays there’s still a chance for Magnus to find him and explain. If he leaves, it’s over. If he leaves, it’s real. So he sits in the dark and the cold and does nothing, and underneath everything, there’s a little voice saying you should have known it was too good to be true.
When his fingertips are numb and his nose is running, he hears footsteps crunching on the dry grass. He doesn’t look up. It’s either Aline or Magnus and he’s genuinely not sure who he’d rather it be.
“Hey, where’d you go?”
Alec’s head snaps up at the voice. He was hoping it was Magnus, he realizes, but that’s not what he was hoping Magnus would say.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah,” Magnus says, but he isn’t looking at Alec, destroying his attempt at casual. “You just disappeared.”
“I didn’t disappear,” Alec snaps. “I stood there like an idiot while you ignored me and then I left because you clearly didn’t want me around.”
“Come on Alec, that’s not true,” Magnus says, but he’s still looking at an empty planter instead of at Alec.
“Then what the hell was that? You barely speak to me all week and then you act like we barely know each other. What am I supposed to think?”
“I was busy working this week,” Magnus says, “and you’re not my only friend here, you know.”
Alec swallows. “I know that.” Like he could ever forget that Magnus has better, cooler, more interesting friends than Alec. “But I’m the only one you slept with last week. Unless I wasn’t.” He knows it’s the wrong thing to say even as he says it, but he can’t stop.
It gets Magnus to look at him, at least.
“Of course you were. Jesus.”
“Okay, then what’s with the cold shoulder? You had to know,” Angry tears prick at his eyes and he forces them back. “You had to know it would make me feel like shit.”
Magnus sighs and the anger seems to drain out of him. “Alec …” He moves to sit on the step next to Alec, but Alec stands right as he sits. Alec can’t deal with Magnus being so close to him while they have this conversation. Magnus grimaces but stays where he is. “Look,” he says, “this scene can be vicious, especially when they have new gossip. If we went in there all coupled up, well, you probably wouldn’t like it.”
“Oh, so that was for my benefit?” Alec crosses his arms. He’s shivering now, from the cold and the conversation. He can’t believe that 2 hours ago he was excited to come here.
“No, I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean, after what happened last time … being under public scrutiny like that, it’s a strain. I’d rather just be how we are when we’re alone when we’re, you know, alone.”
“So,” Alec says slowly, “you want to be together, but you don’t want to tell your friends we’re together.”
“You’re making it sound bad,” Magnus says with a frown.
“Because it does sound bad,” Alec says.
“I just want to do what we’ve been doing without having to label it or conform to anyone’s expectations,” Magnus says. “Because it’s been working this way, right? I just, I like what we’ve been doing.”
“So you want to keep talking all the time, and hanging out, and making out, and sleeping together, but you don’t want to label it, and you don’t want to tell anyone. Wow, that sounds so much better, thanks for clearing that up.”
Magnus runs his hands through his hair. “Look, Alec, you’re young, so–”
“You’re 22, Magnus,” Alec interrupts, “you’re not exactly ancient.”
“All I’m saying is that you think it has to be a certain way but–”
“This isn’t about me thinking anything has to be a certain way,” Alec shouts. “This is about you being a fucking coward.”
“Hey!” Magnus stands. Alec doesn’t let him go on.
“Because either you’re embarrassed to be seen with me, in which case all your bullshit about not caring what people think is just that: bullshit, or I’m just what, a fun game? Just some dumb kid, see how far you can get him to fall, bonus points if he gives it up in under a month!”
“No, you stop!” Alec drags in a breath and the cold air scrapes over his raw throat. He doesn’t even have the energy to shout anymore. “It doesn’t fucking matter,” he says. “Either way, you get what you want. I won’t bother you anymore.”
But Alec can’t. He can’t stop himself from running anymore, he just needs to be gone.
He’s halfway around the house, running at a dead sprint when he barrels into Aline.
“Whoa, where’s the fire?” she asks, grabbing onto his shoulders to herself upright.
“I’m sorry,” Alec says. “Can you get a ride back with Helen? I just, I can’t be here right now.”
“Yeah sure,” she says. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll tell you later. I gotta go.”
He’s running again before she has a chance to reply. He doesn’t slow down when he runs past all the kids hanging outside the basement doors. It doesn’t matter if they see him; he’s never coming back here again.
He doesn’t stop until he reaches his car. His hands are shaking so hard it takes him two tries to get the key into the ignition. When he finally gets the car on, the speakers immediately blast the mix CD Magnus gave him. He jams the eject button and flings the CD into the back seat, not caring if it gets scratched.
His own labored breath is deafening in the quiet.
He refuses to break down here, of all places. He needs to get out of here.
He doesn’t bother putting in a new CD. He just drives.
and you'd like to think that you were invincible
yeah, well weren't we all once
before we felt loss for the first time?
Yeah, I used to give people mix CDs and make them listen to the whole thing before giving them a tracklist. Making a mix CD is an ART, okay? It needs to be appreciated properly.
And here we have it, the last chapter. Thank you for spending the summer on this emo nostalgia train with me.
Thank you also to bumblebeesknees for important early encouragement, to shinkicker for constant cheerleading even though she's not even in this fandom, for invaluable insight in the last chapter, and for being the person who stood in so many lines for shows with me. Thank you to everyone who's been reading along this summer <3333
Reminder that there's a soundtrack for this fic, and it would probably be especially cool to listen along for this chapter.
As always, #thishopefic if you're into the livetweeting thing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
part four: cavanaugh park
at cavanaugh park
where i used to think that this life would be good
and i would do things that i thought i should
and no one’s gonna tear me down
“I’d like to see you undone.”
“What?” Alec lifts his head from where it’s buried in the crook of Magnus’ neck. The sweat hasn’t even dried on their bare chests pressed together, and Alec doesn’t care. He wants to be as close as possible to Magnus and never let go.
“It’s what I thought when I first saw you,” Magnus says. His hands are still tangled in Alec’s hair and Alec would be fine if they stayed that way. “You were running ice over your neck and I wanted to lick it. And then I got embarrassed and said something mean instead.”
“Well,” Alec says, trying to take in this new information and mostly failing because his skin is still tingling and his brain’t isn’t completely up and running yet. “Mission accomplished, on both counts.”
Magnus laughs, delighted and open, and he uses the hand still in Alec’s hair to tilt Alec’s head back and kiss him. And when he tries to say something else, Alec stops his words by kissing him back.
“More coffee, hon?”
Alec blinks back into the present, into the fluorescent lights and formica tables of the diner. The waitress is standing by his table, hip cocked and coffee pot in hand. His latest cup of coffee is only half drunk and now the mug is cold despite his hands wrapped around it. He looks around at the empty creamers littering the table. He’s not quite sure how long he’s been here, or even what time it is.
“No thanks,” he says. “Just the check, please.”
She slips his check out of her apron pocket and puts it on the table with a sympathetic glance. Probably because Alec looked pathetic when he walked in, red-eyed and shivering, and he probably doesn’t look much better now.
He reaches into his pocket for his cell phone, flips it open and turns it back on.
Alec knows he should be panicking. He’s so late for his curfew it’s ridiculous. His parents are going to kill him. He’s going to be grounded until he goes to college. He just doesn’t have the energy to care right now.
He has about a dozen missed calls from his parents, and almost as many voicemails. A few missed calls from Aline, and, his heart clenches when he sees it, a voicemail from Magnus. Just seeing Magnus’ name has him teetering on the brink of breaking down again, threatening his hard won numbness. He flips his phone closed without listening to any of them.
It’s time to go home.
The lights are on in the kitchen when he pulls into the driveway. He can clearly see both of his parents through the window; can see when they hear his car and turn toward the door. It won’t get better if he puts it off any longer.
“Alexander Lightwood where have you been?” is the first thing out of his mom’s mouth. “Do you have any idea how worried we were?”
“I’m sorry, I lost track of time,” Alec says. His parents are looking at him, waiting for him to say more, but he has nothing else to say. He has no excuses and he mostly just wants to get this over with so they can punish him and he can go to bed.
“That’s not acceptable,” his mom says.
“Where were you, Alec?” his dad asks. “Aline said you left your friend’s house hours ago.”
“I was just at the diner,” Alec says. “I turned off my cell phone and I didn’t realize what time it was. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t make this worse for yourself by lying,” his dad says.
Irritation begins to creep through Alec’s emotional exhaustion. “I’m not lying. Why would I lie?”
“I don’t know Alec, why would you lie about where you spent the night last week?” his mom asks.
Alec freezes. “What?”
“When you didn’t come home we called Jia Penhallow,” his dad says, “to see if you were spending the night there again. She was surprised to hear you spent the night last week, since you were never there.”
“So you better start telling us the truth,” his mom continues. “If you ever want to leave the house, or use your car ever again.”
“I swear, I was just at the diner tonight,” Alec says. “Do you want to call and ask the waitress or what?”
“Don’t take that tone of voice with us,” his dad barks. “You’re in deep trouble so you better tell us where you were last week or it’s going to be worse.”
Alec doesn’t know how any of this could possibly be worse. It might be why he says what he says next.
“I was at my boyfriend’s house, okay?” he snaps. “I slept over at my boyfriend’s house last week and this week I went to the diner and drank coffee and that was it. Can I go to bed now?”
The nearly identical expressions of shock on his parents’ faces might be funny in another circumstance. As it is, he just wants this whole night to be over and he can’t bring himself to care.
“Boyfriend?” His mom asks faintly.
His dad’s expression morphs back into anger. “Just tell us where you were, Alec.”
“Are you just not going to believe anything I say? I was at. My. Boyfriend’s house.”
“That’s not… You’re not…” his dad says.
“Gay?” Alec finishes for him. “I am.”
“No,” his dad says.
Of all the reactions he imagined, the few times he imagined coming out to his parents, outright denial was not one of them.
“It’s those people you’ve been hanging out with. You just need a better crowd, instead of spending all your time with girls and boys who wear makeup.”
“Robert,” his mom says, but Alec doesn’t let her finish.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” He says.
“Alec,” his mom says.
“Watch your language,” his dad says. “It’s clear we were mistaken about the level of responsibility and freedom you can handle.”
“Whatever,” Alec says. “Just ground me or whatever already.”
“You’re grounded indefinitely,” his dad says. “Give me your car keys. Your mom and I will be driving you and your sister to school. You’ll get them back when you can apologize sincerely to us about your behavior.”
“I’m not going to apologize for being gay,” Alec grits out. His dad ignores him.
“Now go to your room.”
“Finally,” Alec mutters under his breath and stomps past his parents, not stopping when his mom calls out, “Alec!”
Izzy’s light is still on, and she’s standing at the threshold of her room. “Alec? What’s going on?”
“I can’t talk about this now, Izzy.” He closes the door to his room before she can reply, then leans against it in case she decides to come in anyway. She doesn’t.
Alec slides down the door until he’s sitting on the floor. He laughs mirthlessly into his knees. He’s just blown up his entire life in one night. He’s sure at some point he’ll care enough to be upset, but right now it barely seems to matter.
He’s so fucked.
But there was never any place
For someone like me to be totally happy
I'm running out of clock and that ain't a shock
Some things never do change
Never do change
Alec reaches out and hits the back button to repeat the track without looking. He turns on his side as the song starts again, drowning out the sounds of the house on Saturday afternoon: Max’s video games, and Izzy’s homework music, and his dad on the phone.
It doesn’t matter anyway. He hasn’t spoken to his parents all week, and his dad is ignoring him in turn. He knows it’s getting awkward for Max and Izzy, but he can’t make himself stop. He hadn’t planned on coming out to his parents any time soon, but now that he has their rejection hurts. Everything hurts and being angry at his parents is uncomplicated, unlike pretty much everything else.
He wishes he could be like Izzy. Well, fuck him then, she’d said when he told her what happened at The Hideaway last week. If only it was that simple.
He closes his eyes and lets Andrew McMahon’s voice drown out everything.
He startles when he feels a hand brush his hair back from his forehead. The music was so loud he didn’t even hear his door opening. He looks up to his mom frowning at him and sighs. He turns over, dislodging his mom’s hand from his hair and hits the pause button on his CD player.
“Your music is very loud,” his mom says, “I can hear every word, even with the door closed.”
“Okay,” Alec says. “I’ll turn it down.” He doesn’t look at her and expects to hear the door closing behind her, but instead he feels the bed dip as she sits next to him.
“Do you really think that?”
“That I’ll turn it down?” He waits for her to tell him to watch his tone, but she doesn’t.
“Do you really think that there’s not a place for you to be happy?”
Alec’s so surprised at the question he sits up and looks at her. Her eyes are glassy with tears, but her expression is determined. He’s so discomforted by the sight of his mom’s tears that he opens his mouth to tell her of course he thinks he can be happy, just to make her feel better, but then he stops. He leans back against the headboard.
“I guess,” he says. “Yeah.” Wasn’t that what he was hoping the scene would be? And how depressingly, pathetically, wrong he was about that.
“Honey, I don’t want that for you,” his mom says. She reaches out for his cheek, but he ducks away.
“Well I can’t stop being gay just because you don’t want me to be.”
“I know that,” she says.
“Then I don’t see how you think ignoring me will help me find a place to be happy.”
“Alec, when you told us that last week, I was just surprised, okay? I’m sorry that I didn’t say this then, but I don’t care if you’re gay.”
“And Dad?” Alec asks. His mom pauses and the flicker of hope that it really could be that easy dies.
“I’ll talk to him,” his mom says.
“He’s not going to listen,” Alec says.
“I’ll make him listen.”
“This isn’t because of the people I’ve been hanging out with,” Alec pushes on, just to make sure they’re very clear on this. “I’ve known I was gay since I was 13.”
This time when his mom reaches out for him, he lets her brush his cheek with the back of her knuckles. “I know. When I thought about it, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. But you’ve always been such a private and self-contained kid. It was easy to believe that if you had crushes or girlfriends you just didn’t tell us about them. And I guess I can understand why you didn’t tell us about your boyfriend.”
Alec drops his head to his knees. “He’s not my boyfriend,” he says into the fabric of his jeans.
Alec lifts his head back up. “I mean, I thought he was, but apparently I was wrong. I was just being stupid.”
“You’re not stupid, Alec. Do you want to tell me what happened?”
“I don’t know,” Alec says. “I thought he liked me. He said he liked me. He gave me a mix CD. He said all these things and we did-–” he swallows, “things. But then as soon as we were around his friends it was like I didn’t exist and I wasn’t cool enough to be his boyfriend and I just…” he trails off, not knowing how to describe the hurt and the embarrassment and how angry he is, but at the same time how much he misses Magnus, how much he wants to talk to him anyway. “He made me feel like I was okay as I was, but apparently I wasn’t. I’m not.”
“Oh honey,” his mom says. She reaches an arm around his shoulders and pulls him into her side. “Of course you’re okay as you are.”
Tears prick Alec’s eyes and he tries to blink them away. “Then why?”
“Well, I don’t know this boy–”
“I don’t know Magnus, but to me it sounds like this is about him, not you.”
“What do you mean?” Alec asks.
“Usually when someone makes other people feel like they’re not cool enough, it’s because they’re insecure themselves. Do you think he was lying when he said he liked you?”
Alec thinks about it. “No,” he says finally. Magnus had no reason other than liking him to find him after they first met, no reason to keep talking to him if he didn’t want to. He has doubted over the course of the last week, but ultimately he never really thought that Magnus never liked him in the first place. “But that makes what he did worse,” he says.
“It sounds to me like he’s scared. And maybe that doesn’t excuse making you feel like it’s your fault, but this is a hard age and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.”
“He’s 22 though,” Alec says.
“Alec!” his mom sits up straight. “That is too old for–”
“Mom! Not helping!”
His mom closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “Sorry. You just surprised me again. Is he in college? What about his parents?”
“Not really the point,” Alec says.
“Right,” she says. “Well, I know 22 seems impossibly old from 18, but to me it still seems unbearably young. At 22 I thought I had all the answers, but when I look back, I had none.”
“Great,” Alec says. “When do you start actually knowing any answers?”
His mom smiles. “Sorry to say, but the right answers are never as concrete as you’d like them to be. The older you are, the more clear that becomes.”
“Well, that sucks,” Alec says.
“Yeah,” his mom says, “it does.” She reaches down and pats him on the knee. “Max wants to make cookies, if you want to come down and join us. But turn down the music a little, okay?”
“Okay, mom. Thanks.”
In the silence after his mom leaves, he picks up his cell phone. There’s still one voicemail he hasn’t listened to and deleted: the one Magnus left him last Saturday night. He calls his voicemail and presses his phone to his ear.
Alec, Magnus says, I know you probably don’t want to hear from me and I understand. But Aline just called and she said you haven’t been home, and I’m just. Worried, I guess. Anyway, if you get this, your parents are looking for you, and you should call them. Um. Get home safe. I’m sorry.
Alec flips his phone closed and drops it on his bed. What the fuck is he supposed to do with that?
He leans over and presses play again, careful to turn it down a few notches. The last strains of Cavanaugh Park fade out and the next track starts. Alec lets it, still thinking about Magnus’ voicemail.
Something in the lyrics catches his attention and he tunes back in, sitting up and leaning over closer to his CD player.
And so I fall
I don’t wanna feel this small
You know I just can’t handle this, handle this at all
And I just fall
I let my heartbeat drop
I falter as the music stops and you watch me
As I stall
And wonder when I fall
He listens to the whole song staring intently at the player, then repeats the track and listens to whole thing again with his eyes closed.
“Fuck,” he says when it’s done.
He slaps at the power button, grabs his wallet, and jams his feet into his Chucks. He runs down the stairs into the kitchen.
“Mom, I gotta take my car,” he says breathlessly. Max, his dad, and his mom all look up when he runs in.
“Alec, you know you’re–” his dad starts, but his mom holds out her hand.
“Shut up, Robert.” She looks at Alec, then smiles. “Okay, but call if you’re going to be more than a few hours.”
“Thanks, mom!” he says, already going for his keys hanging by the kitchen door.
“No more sleepovers!” his mom calls after him. He waves in acknowledgement and slams the door the behind him. Then he’s in his car and on his way to Magnus.’
Of course, once he gets to Magnus’ it’s a whole different story.
When he’s standing at Magnus’ door it all catches up with him. Magnus might not even want to see him; might be completely done with him. Hell, Magnus might not even be home. He turns around and takes a couple steps back to his car before stopping and forcing himself back to the door. He came all the way here, and he’s gonna be in the shit with his dad when he gets back. He has to at least try.
He hits the buzzer for Magnus.
He fidgets as he waits, more convinced as time goes on that Magnus isn’t home. He’s about to turn around again when he hears footsteps on the stairs inside. Alec swallows.
Magnus couldn’t look more surprised when opens the door and sees Alec. Alec panics for a second, sure that Magnus is about to slam the door in his face, but he doesn’t.
“Alec,” he says, and his voice is tight and full of hope and Alec takes a breath. Magnus looks tired, in sweats and a tank top, no make up, and unstyled hair. Alec probably doesn’t look much better. He didn’t even comb his hair in his mad dash out of the house.
“Hi,” Alec says. “Can we um, can we talk?”
Magnus nods and gestures him inside.
“I’m sorry,” Alec says when Magnus has closed his apartment door behind them.
Magnus blinks at him. “What for?”
“For pushing you for more than you were ready for. You had reasons, and I didn’t listen to them, and I’m sorry. And I’m sorry for implying you were sleeping with other people, that was out of line.”
Magnus just looks at him for a moment and panic crawls up Alec’s throat again. He’s going to get thrown out on his ass.
“I’ll accept your apology for the second thing,” Magnus says finally, “but not the first.”
“Because you don’t need to apologize to me for that. You weren’t pushing me, you had completely reasonable expectations of how I’d treat you. I freaked out and I made a mess of things, and I’m really sorry, Alec.”
“If you’d told me beforehand that you wanted us to be discreet, I would have done it,” Alec offers.
Magnus flops down on his futon and puts his head in his hands. “I know that. But I also knew it was ridiculous so I didn’t want to. But then I got there and I was sitting in my car and I panicked, and I convinced myself it was for your own good. It was bullshit, and you were right to call it bullshit.”
Alec cautiously sits next to Magnus on the futon, keeping a careful few feet between them.
“Magnus, what do you want from me?” Magnus turns his head to look at him and Alec presses on. “Because I like you and I want to be with you, but I don’t–” he swallows, “I don’t think I can just be your secret, unlabeled whatever. I just don’t think I can do that.”
“No, you shouldn’t put up with that,” Magnus says.
“But if you don’t want to be in a relationship with me, that’s fine, I understand. You just have to tell me.”
“I do,” Magnus says. “I do want to be in a relationship with you.”
“Okay, so you mean…”
“I mean I’m an idiot and I’m really sorry, and if you’ll have me I would like to be with you in a public, labeled whatever.”
Alec is helpless to stop the smile creeping across his face. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Alec says. “I’ll have you.” He scoots over so he’s closer to Magnus. “Can I–”
“Yeah,” Magnus says, already reaching out.
He kisses Magnus’ mouth, and then again when Magnus grabs onto his shoulders, a bit too tight. Magnus kisses him back, desperate and little messy, crowding close to Alec until he nearly falls off the futon.
“Sorry,” Magnus says, but doesn’t let Alec go. “Sorry. I thought I’d fucked this up for good. God, I’m sorry.”
“Hey,” Alec whispers. He shifts around so he’s leaning back and he can pull Magnus up to straddle his lap. “Hey, it’s okay.” He threads his fingers through Magnus’ hair and uses his grip to make Magnus look at him. “It’s okay.”
Magnus nods and leans his forehead against Alec’s. “When Aline called and said you hadn’t made it home I was so worried. If something had happened to you and you thought I didn’t care about you…”
“I’m fine,” Alec assures him. “I went to the diner and turned off my phone and lost track of time. I’m sorry I didn’t return your call. I only listened to the voicemail today.”
Magnus shrugs. “I made Aline call me as soon as she knew you were okay. She also told me I was a fucking idiot for like, ten minutes, but it was worth it.”
“I’m totally grounded for missing curfew though,” Alec says. “So after today I think we’re going to be limited to IM conversations for a while.”
“Maybe I can sneak into your room,” Magnus says.
“Well,” Alec says. “I might be able to convince my mom to let you in the front door. I think she’s going to want to meet you.” Magnus raises his eyebrows. “I also came out to my parents.”
Magnus laughs. “You’ve had a very eventful week, Alexander.”
“More like one eventful night,” Alec says. “The rest of the week was just moping while listening to Something Corporate.”
“So basically like my week then, except mine was with Dashboard Confessional.” Magnus says.
“Wow, I rated a Dashboard spiral?”
“So we’re both pretty pathetic,” Alec says.
“Definitely.” Magnus reaches up and brushes across Alec’s cheekbone with his thumb. “I like you anyway though.”
“Me too,” Alec says. “Me too.”
They leave their jackets in Alec’s car and run hand in hand through the frozen field to the basement doors.
“Come on, Lorenzo, just let us in, it’s fucking cold!” Magnus says when Lorenzo takes a little too long in counting their cover. Lorenzo rolls his eyes and looks to be gearing up to get into it with Magnus, but Alec just smiles at him and says, “Thanks Lorenzo!” and pushes Magnus through the doors and into the party.
The Hideaway Christmas Eve party is in full swing already. There’s tinsel everywhere and a box of santa hats for people to wear. The speakers are blasting some sort of punk cover of All I Want For Christmas Is You.
“I missed this awful place,” Magnus sighs happily. Then he tries to make Alec wear a santa hat.
“Magnus, no,” Alec says for the fifth time, batting Magnus’ hands away from his head. Thankfully, at that moment they’re interrupted.
“Magnus, my man!”
“Eli, hey!” They high five enthusiastically.
“How’s the big city treating you, man? It’s not the same here without you.”
“Oh you know,” Magnus says, “I’m doing okay.” Alec snorts. Magnus loves his job at the hipster cocktail bar, is transferring to NYU in the spring, and has written several articles for a local underground music zine. In the same time frame Alec has passed all of his classes and turned half his laundry pink in the dorm washing machines by accident. (The red shirts was Magnus.’ Alec doesn’t want to talk about it.)
Someone jumps on his back and he automatically catches her legs.
“Hey, stranger,” Aline says in his ear.
“I just saw you last night,” Alec says, but he adjusts so he’s carrying her more securely.
“So?” she asks.
“She and Mark are upstairs trying to talk their new bassist down. I think he was throwing up.”
“Sounds like a winner,” Alec says.
“He’s good,” Aline says. “I saw him at practice the other day. He just has stage fright, apparently.”
“Whatever,” Alec says. “I’m gonna get a beer. You need a ride over there?”
“Nah,” Aline says, so he lets go of her legs and she hops off his back. “I’ll walk over there with you though. Who knows how long it’ll be until New Years Project is ready to play.”
“Magnus, you want a beer?”
Magnus waves his hand at Alec without stopping his conversation with Eli. Alec interprets the gesture as yes.
Just as they get back with the beers, Helen pops up, dropping a kiss on Aline’s cheek. “Hey guys,” she says. “Greg finally stopped throwing up, so we’re gonna go on in a few minutes.”
They shuffle over to claim some space on the wall near the front. Alec drapes an arm around Magnus’ shoulder and Magnus leans in, tucking his hand in Alec’s back pocket.
“Having fun?” Alec asks.
“Mm-hmm,” Magnus says. “You? Glad to be back?”
Helen and Mark make their way to their instruments then, followed by the rest of the band. Aline perks up and the noise of the crowd swells.
“Yeah,” Alec says just as Helen counts off the first song. “Glad to be back.”
and then you bring me home
and we'll go to sleep but this time not alone
and you'll kiss me in your living room
Thank you all for sticking with me. Sorry, not sorry for tricking you into reading 20k of songfic.
The outro for this fic is Something Corporate's Konstantine, which is also where the title comes from, and inspired the whole fic.