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Taking Care of Those We Love

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It all started by accident. Alec hadn’t really thought anything about what he was doing, or about how it might come across to anyone else. He’d been taking care of the people in his life since that first moment his Mom had put Isabelle in his arms and told him he was a big brother now. The responsibility had settled over Alec like a warm blanket he’d never bothered to take off afterward. There was nothing that made him happier than to be able to take care of those that he loved, even if they never acknowledged it. It was enough for him to see that they were happy and healthy.

So when he came home one night to find Magnus stumbling around the loft, barley able to make it two steps without bracing himself against the wall so he wouldn’t fall, it was instinct to hurry forward and brace him up. “Magnus!”

Magnus looked up at him as Alec’s arm slid around his waist, easily catching and bracing his weight. The exhaustion he felt was plain to see all over his face. It was written clearly in the tired heaviness to his eyes and the slightly smeared eyeliner, and in the way he leaned into Alec and let him take his weight. “Alexander, you’re home.”

“Yeah, I got done a little early, so I thought I’d come home.” Shifting his arm, Alec drew Magnus just a bit closer, getting a firmer grip on his hip. He couldn’t help the worry that was creasing his brow. “What happened to you?”

There was a murmur of something that sounded like “client” and “summoning” and a few swear words in another language, but most of it was muffled as Magnus turned himself in and buried his face against Alec’s chest. What little energy he’d been using to haul himself around seemed to fade once Alec had a good grip on him.

Getting answers out of him like this was pointless. Alec had seen him after a substantial magical depletion only once, back when they’d still been pretty new to one another, and speech didn’t seem all that easy for him when he got like that. Last time, Catarina had been there to take Magnus home, and Alec had held in his worry until he’d heard from him the next day. But this time there was no one and nothing to stop Alec from giving in to the urge to take care of him.

His siblings like to joke that Alec went into ‘dad mode’ when those around him were hurt or unwell. It was second nature to step up and take control.

He carefully steered Magnus down the hall, toward their bedroom. He would’ve taken him straight to bed if it weren’t for the fact that he could see some things that looked like ichor on his clothes. There was no telling if there were anything else on him. As Alec had seen in the past, warlock-work tended to get rather messy. So, he bypassed the bed, shushing Magnus when he whined. “Shh, we’ll get you there in a minute. Let’s get you cleaned up first, hm?”

The low, soft ‘hm’ was something he’d done with his siblings, all three of them. There was something about adding that gentle hum at the end of sentences that seemed to make them inherently softer, more likely to be listened to.

With careful yet steady hands, Alec got Magnus into the bathroom. Once in there, he used his foot to hook the little bench that Magnus usually used to sit and do his makeup in the mornings. Once he had it, he tugged it over to the wall by the tub and gently lowered Magnus down onto it.

Magnus blinked up at him in clear confusion. There was a little wrinkle in his nose, and he could barely keep his eyes open. Alec probably shouldn’t have found it as adorable as he did.

With one hand on Magnus’ shoulder to keep him steady, Alec reached out and spun the dials to start filling the tub. Then, while that was running, he turned back around and proceeded to start stripping his partner.

He got Magnus’ jacket and shirt off with no problem – his necklaces and rings, too – but when he squatted down to get his boots it had Magnus stirring enough to try and mumble some sort of protest. Alec smiled, not bothering to look away from his shoes. “Hush, topolino. Let me help you.”

Magnus stopped trying to protest at that, and Alec quickly stripped him down and then lifted him up into the tub.

The heat of the water only seemed to push Magnus further toward sleep. He was barely conscious as Alec cleaned him up. By the time he got Magnus’ body washed, checked for injuries – none, thank the angel – and all his makeup cleaned off, Magnus was practically unconscious. Alec had to sit him on a towel on the bench and prop him up against his hip just to be able to dry him off. Then he scooped him up in his arms and carried Magnus to bed.

Once he had Magnus tucked in, Alec took a quick second to walk the loft and make sure it was secure, and then he joined his partner in bed. He curled around Magnus, tucking himself up against the back of him, and despite the earliness of the night, he snuggled in and closed his eyes.

By the time Magnus woke up in the morning, Alec had already been up for an hour. He’d had time for a shower of his own, and was in the middle of cooking breakfast, humming happily to himself as he flipped the pancake in the skillet.

He heard the shuffle of feet behind him, and a small smile twitched at his lips. It was no surprise when Magnus pressed up against his back and slipped his arms around his waist. “Mm, it smells delicious in here,” Magnus murmured against his spine. Then, Alec felt it as a smile was pressed against his skin. “The food smells good too.”

Alec snorted, shaking his head. “You’re terrible.”

You’re blushing,” Magnus shot back. Which wasn’t fair, really, because he couldn’t even see Alec’s face, how on earth did he know that?

Gently nudging at him with his elbow, Alec pulled on a mock scowl. “If you’re well enough to be a brat, you’re well enough to go set the table.”

He enjoyed the husky sound of Magnus’ laughter. There was a kiss pressed against his back, and then Magnus was gone. Before he could go far, Alec turned his head enough to call out “No magic!” He caught Magnus’ eye, saw the protest he was ready to give, and Alec just looked at him. It was the same look he gave Jace when he was trying to play off one of his stupider plans, or when Isabelle tried to lie her way out of something, or when Max was insisting that no, he hadn’t had anything to do with that, whatever are you talking about Alec?

It worked just as well on Magnus as it did on Alec’s siblings. He closed his mouth and actually ducked his head down while turning to go to the cupboard the plates were kept in.

Alec smiled, turning back to his pancakes.

Neither one of them mentioned the night before. Which Alec was okay with. He was used to that. He didn’t need thanks for taking care of his loved ones. Though he had a feeling the extra-long kiss Magnus gave him before he left for work was the warlock’s subtle way of saying thank you, and Alec was more than happy with that.

That was how it started. Sweet, simple, and innocent. Now that Alec knew his caretaking wouldn’t be rebuffed, that it was okay, he didn’t try to hold it back as much anymore. He started bringing Magnus food in his office when he missed a meal, the same way Magnus did it for him.  Every now and again he’d drag his partner away from the research or translations he’d work on in the evening time and coax him into a nice bath, or some cuddle time while they were in bed.

He talked to Catarina, too, to try and see if maybe she’d be able to tell him what to watch for so that he could notice Magnus getting low on magic before he got to the point of collapse. Then he used that knowledge to step in and do little things, like offer up his energy to help, or getting Magnus to take a break so he wouldn’t overwork himself.

Every time Alec did those things, he half expected Magnus to say something, to tell Alec he wasn’t a child the way that Isabelle, Jace, and Max always did. But Magnus never said anything. He just watched Alec sometimes with those too-old eyes, and a tiny hint of what Alec thought might be wonder. But he never protested it, and Alec knew Magnus well enough to know that he’d speak up if he didn’t like something. Which meant that Alec had free reign to try and take care of his boyfriend, something which made the both of them happy.

It all came to a head one night when all of Alec’s wayward kids decided to be stupid at the same time.

Of course, all of it happened while Alec was in a phone conference with a few other Institute Heads, so his phone was silenced. He didn’t know anything was wrong until he left the meeting and was hit with a deluge of texts. One look was all it took to have Alec shooting off down the hall toward the infirmary.

What he found there was absolute chaos.

Isabelle was sitting on the edge of one bed, stripped down to her bra while Magnus stood at her shoulder, blue light around his hand where he held it over her arm. Whatever he was healing couldn’t have been that bad, Isabelle was still upright and glaring at Jace and Clary, who were in a three-way shouting match with one of the new recruits that had started here just two weeks ago. Their voices were all overlapping so that Alec could barely make out one for the other. He could, however, read the anger on Jace’s face, the frustration on Clary’s, and the completely pissed off one on Isabelle’s face.

For a moment, Alec stood there, taking all of them in. His eyes caught as Magnus drew his hand back from Isabelle – the slight tremble to it, the way he staggered just a little.

That was it. Straightening himself up, Alec summoned his best ‘Head of the Institute’ voice and bellowed out a sharp “Enough!” that silenced the room almost instantly. All eyes turned toward him, and was he mistaking it or did he see a hint of relief from both Magnus and Isabelle? Logging that away with everything else, Alec crossed his arms over his chest and ran a stern gaze around the room. “Does someone mind telling me what’s going on here?”

Three different mouths opened at the same time. Alec quickly held up a hand to stop them. Then, hand still held out towards the others, he fixed Isabelle with a look that clearly said ‘Well?’

Amusement ghosted over Isabelle’s lips. She wiped it away quickly, though. Everything about her was serious when she straightened herself up and gave her report. “I got a call from Jace about an hour ago saying that they needed a bit of backup. Apparently, they found some teenagers summoning a demon, only it got out of control like they always do. The kids ran, but there were multiple demons, and they needed a hand. So I went to help, and I took Thom here with me. When we got there, we took care of the demons easily enough, but we were left with the magical items the people had left behind. I told them we should call Magnus,” here she cut a sharp look over to Jace, who ducked his head a little sheepishly. “But someone was impatient and touched something.”

It took everything Alec had not to reach up and pinch his nose or roll his eyes. Of course Jace had touched something. Of course.

Magnus took over her story next, only a hint of his exhaustion showing through in his voice. More telling was the way that he hadn’t moved away from the bed to greet Alec. He leaned against it at Isabelle’s side as he spoke. “When Isabelle called me, I portaled over. Luckily for Trace, it was a simple binding spell meant to hold something in place. I removed it, and then gathered up what magical items were left and transported them to the loft. Then I brought us all here so I could see to the minor scratch on Isabelle’s arm.”

The easy way that Magnus said all that might’ve fooled the others. They clearly didn’t seem all that worried about how much magical energy Magnus had used. But Alec knew that none of that was as easy as Magnus was trying to make it seem. With a look, he let Magnus see that he knew and that they’d talk about this later. He was a bit surprised to see Magnus duck his head, kind of like Max did when caught out in a lie.

The whole thing sounded like a mess from start to finish. Drawing in a breath, Alec turned toward his parabatai. “There are protocols in place when you come across a summoning like that. Contacting the Institute is first on that list, followed by contacting the local High Warlock. Why didn’t you do either? And no, Jace, texting me while I’m in a meeting you know about doesn’t count as notifying the Institute.”

“We thought we had it covered,” Clary said. She winced, eyes darting over to Isabelle and Magnus.

Alec arched one eyebrow at her. “Clearly.” His tone got him a sharp look from Jace. Not that Alec cared. He met his parabatai stare for stare until Jace looked away. Satisfied with that, Alec nodded. “And what was with the shouting match when I walked in?”

To Alec’s surprise, Thom actually raised his hand, drawing incredulous looks from both Alec and Jace, and smothered chuckles from Isabelle and Magnus. “Yes?” Alec said slowly.

“The arguing was my fault, sir. I was…irritated by the night’s events, and I took that anger out on them,” Thom said. “You, all of you, have my apologies.”

The apology wasn’t entirely unexpected or out of character. From what Alec had seen of Thom so far, the guy was polite, kind, and honest. He owned up to his mistakes no matter what they were.

If only some others could learn from that.

A deep breath helped Alec hold on to his own fraying temper. Letting himself be pissed off wasn’t going to do anything. He needed to keep his calm and handle this the way he would if it were anyone other than his siblings. They’d had far too much preferential treatment, and it was starting to show more and more. Not just in them, but in those around them, like Clary.

“Jace, I know you’re fully aware of how things work around here. We studied the protocols together often enough. It’s been your responsibility to teach them to Clary. If you guys can’t seem to remember them, maybe you need to spend the next couple afternoons going through a refresher course.” He once more held up a hand to stop them before they could try and argue. “You’re also going to be personally handling whatever bill Magnus sends for his services tonight. Whatever he asks of you, the responsibility of it will belong to you two.” Maybe that would teach them to see Magnus as more than just some tool they could pick up and discard anytime they needed to.

Alec ignored the way that Jace was gaping at him, and Clary’s wide, surprised eyes, and turned to face Thom, Isabelle, and Magnus. They were all quietly watching him. Thom looked serious, while Isabelle was smiling, just the slightest bit. Magnus – Magnus was watching him with a kind of warmth Alec couldn’t focus on if he wanted to get through this without embarrassing himself.

It was Thom that Alec focused on first. He faced him, taking note of the way that Thom immediately stood a little straighter. The guy hadn’t really done anything wrong; Alec was well aware of how often Jace and Clary could bring about the urge to scream. But Alec needed to make sure that subordinates knew how to respect their superiors. Still, it didn’t mean he had to be harsh about it. “Thom, I want this room spotless before you turn in for the night. Maybe that will help you remember what the infirmary is actually intended to be used for.”

Thom nodded, not arguing in the least. “Yes, sir.”

“And you…” Alec let his stance relax a little as he finally was able to turn to his sister, giving Isabelle another searching look. “You’re okay?”

A warm smile lit Isabelle’s face. “I’m good, hermano.”

“Good. Get some rest – you’ve earned it. All of you are dismissed.”

That took care of the Shadowhunter business. All it left Alec was the most important business of all. He broke pose, moving right up to Magnus, who was smiling at him with that proud little light he sometimes got when he saw Alec in his Shadowhunter mode. Alec reached out as he got close, one hand coming up to cup the side of Magnus’ face, using that hold to tilt his head up a little. Alec had gotten better about reading his face. What he saw now showed the kind of exhaustion that Alec had been working to prevent lately.

“Are you okay?” Alec asked lowly, his voice pitched for Magnus alone.

Magnus leaned his face into Alec’s hold. At the same time, he curled a hand over Alec’s hip and drew him in closer, not bothering to rise up from the bed. “I’m fine. Just a little tired.”

“You pushed yourself too hard, papillon.”

A faint blush touched Magnus’ cheeks, something that happened so rarely. Alec was glad that Isabelle had already moved off the bed and that the others were gone. No one else needed to see that face. That was a look only Alec was privileged enough to see. Magnus ducked his head down, pressing a kiss against the side of Alec’s hand.

“Come on,” Alec said, reaching out with his other hand to draw Magnus up. “Let’s get you home. There’s a bath and a big dinner in your future.”

He half expected Magnus to argue. While he might let Alec get away with this at home, right now they were out in public. At the Institute. Alec knew Magnus was a prideful person. Showing weakness of any kind wasn’t something he was comfortable with around just anyone. Yet Magnus just tucked himself in against Alec’s side as the two made their way out of the infirmary. “I can portal us,” he offered. “I’ve got enough energy for that.”

A glimpse of red at the end of the hall caught Alec’s attention. “Or Clary can draw her portal rune for us. Fray!”

His shout drew Clary’s attention. She poked her head back out of the room she’d just gone into, brows furrowed down. When she caught sight of the two coming toward her, her curiosity changed to concern. “Is everything all right?”

Alec didn’t waste time answering her. He just kept moving, pulling Magnus along with him, and asked: “Can you make a portal for us?”

There was no hesitation her part to draw it right there in the hallway for them. Alec gave her a perfunctory “Thanks,” and then he was taking Magnus straight through it, right out onto the street in front of his building. Magnus’ loft was warded against Clary’s portals. Or anyone portaling in, really.

“You didn’t have to escort me home, Alexander. I know you had paperwork you wanted to get done before coming home tonight,” Magnus said, his voice just barely above a murmur.

Rolling his eyes, Alec gave his boyfriend a squeeze while he continued to steer him inside and toward the stairs. “None of that is more important than you. I’m exactly where I need to be.”

That seemed to silence Magnus. He didn’t say anything, just kept leaning in against Alec’s side and allowed himself to be led up the long flights of stairs.

It took a little bit longer than usual, yet soon enough the two found themselves inside the loft, the door shut and locked behind them. They were safely inside their home behind Magnus’ wards. It was enough to relax the both of them. Magnus was softer now, a bit more pliant. He allowed Alec to strip him out of his jacket and hang it up on the nearby rack.

Alec set about removing his own jacket next, as well as the few weapons that he always had on him. Those went on to the weapons rack Magnus had made for him. While he did that, he called over his shoulder, “You should go ahead and go take a bath. Relax a bit.” Alec toed off his shoes, and then turned, looking back to Magnus who hadn’t moved out of the entryway. Seeing him standing there like that only made Alec’s worry grow a little. “I can come help you.”

“I can manage a bath on my own,” Magnus said, snorting. Neither one of them said anything about the way he swayed a little.

Alec watched him with a critical eye for a moment. Then he shook his head. Stubborn fool. “You can either go have one now while I get dinner together, or you can get comfortable and come have a seat on the couch, and I’ll help you out once dinner’s done.”

“I can get dinner…”

All it took was a sharp look to stop that sentence right in its tracks. Alec nodded, satisfied. “The last thing you need is to be doing more magic. You’re already swaying where you stand. I’ll handle dinner – you either get in the tub or get in comfortable clothes. You’ve got about fifteen minutes before I’ll have something ready for us.”

He didn’t give Magnus time to argue him. If the fool wasn’t going to take care of himself, if he insisted on being stubborn, then Alec was just going to have to do it for him. Even if that meant being a little pushier and more stern than he usually was. He wasn’t going to let Magnus wear himself out even more out of some misguided attempt to prove how independent he was. He didn’t let Alec get away with that kind of behavior – like hell if Alec was going to let him.

Almost fifteen minutes later, Alec came out to the living room with two plates and a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. Comfort food. For as fancy a palate as Magnus had, he had a surprising love for the simpler things, especially when he wasn’t feeling his best. Grilled cheese was one of those.

Alec smothered down a smile when he saw the figure waiting for him on the couch. Magnus had clearly changed, though the dry hair meant he hadn’t bothered with a bath. But he was in a pair of sweatpants, one of Alec’s t-shirts, and his jewelry and makeup were gone. He’d also curled himself smack dab in the middle of the couch. It guaranteed Alec would be pressed against him no matter where he sat.

As soon as he was in view, Alec watched Magnus perk up a little when he saw what Alec had brought them. “Oh, Alexander, you truly are an angel.”

“It sounds like you haven’t exactly had the most fun day. I figured you deserved a little comfort food.”

A bright smile lit up Magnus’ face. He leaned in once Alec was seated and pressed a kiss against his cheek. “Thank you. You spoil me, darling.”

Alec huffed, shaking his head. “You deserve it.”

For that, he got another of those soft little blushes that Magnus didn’t let out for anyone else. Alec hugged him close in response, and the two settled down together to eat their food and just enjoy the quiet of the loft for a little while. They didn’t talk; they didn’t have to. It was something Alec absolutely loved about his relationship with Magnus. Sometimes Magnus was all energy and movement. Other times, he was content simply to sit there with Alec and not say a word.

When they finished eating, Alec set both their plates on the coffee table and then began the process of getting Magnus up and back toward the bedroom. “Come on, let’s go get you cleaned up before you start falling asleep on me, papillon.

To his surprise, Magnus just mumbled an “m’kay” and let Alec lead him along. He didn’t put up any resistance, not even when Alec stripped him down. The only thing he did was tug on Alec’s shirt and look up at him with bright, pleading eyes.

A smile curved Alec’s lips. “Yeah, okay.”

Alec stripped himself down while the tub finished filling up. Then the two climbed in together, Alec settling against one end with Magnus between his legs, leaning back against his chest. The little tray on the side of the tub was close enough that Alec could easily reach out and snag the washcloth and body wash in there. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

“Mmhm.” Magnus’ voice had dropped to a low hum, no actual words coming out with the sound. He snuggled in even closer, eyes drifting shut while Alec caught his hand and drew it up so he could begin washing Magnus’ arm.

The more Alec washed him, the more that Magnus seemed to just melt. It made Alec smile to see it, and to feel it. He loved when Magnus would let him do this. He’d been getting better about letting Alec help. Letting him in. To see him like this, so soft, so trusting, it was enough to make Alec’s breath catch in his throat. He turned his head, pressing a kiss against Magnus’ temple. “I love you.”

Magnus turned his face in more toward Alec’s chest, kissing against the wet skin there. “Mmm, love you too, Daddy.”

It took a single second for that last word to really register with either of them. Alec caught it first. When he did, his eyebrows shot up toward his hairline, and his body went still. Had Magnus just…had he….?

The way Alec tensed must’ve brought Magnus’ focus up, just a little. He moved his head, curiously looking up at him. That meat that Alec was able to see as it finally seemed to click for Magnus what he’d said. His eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open ever so slightly. Then he dropped his face back down to bury it against Alec’s chest. His voice was muffled when he groaned out “Can we blame that on my exhausted brain and just pretend this never happened?”

It was a split-second decision; there were two ways this conversation could go and no real time to think about it. Either Alec said okay, and they forgot this ever happened, chalking it up to one of those random things that never need be mentioned again. Or, he could step up and, though it might be uncomfortable at first, potentially be able to give Magnus something that he wanted.

The decision was easy, really.

Alec slid his hand lazily up Magnus’ spine in a soothing stroke. “Is that what you want, sweetheart?”

He could feel the brush of Magnus’ eyelashes as he blinked a few times right against Alec’s chest. For a moment, the room fell quiet again, though now there was a kind of tension in the air. Not necessarily a bad one, but it was still there.

This wasn’t the first time that the two of them had ever talked about a kink. It wasn’t even the first time they’d done it while together in the bathtub. A lot of important conversations had happened while the two of them were cuddled up together in the water or sitting on opposite ends. There was something about being a bath that just made these kinds of things more manageable. They were already bare in the physical sense. That seemed to make it a bit easier to be bare in the emotional sense, too.

While a daddy-kink wasn’t something they’d ever talked about, that didn’t mean that Alec didn’t know about it. He’d felt so awkward after their last discussion. So inexperienced. He’d hated that Magnus had to explain almost everything they talked about to him. After that day, Alec had taken some time to do a little research on his phone while in his bedroom at the Institute. Safely away from the risk of anyone walking in and finding out what he was doing.

There’d been plenty of information, and some of it had been about the whole ‘Daddy’ dynamic. Alec hadn’t read too far into it, still too easily embarrassed by some of the things he found himself interested in, but nothing of what he’d seen had felt bad.

It didn’t feel bad now, either. Especially not with Magnus so warm and sweet, curled right up against him.

Magnus finally broke the silence, though he didn’t look up yet. “Is it something you’re interested in?”

One thing Magnus had taught him the last time was that, no matter how embarrassing it was, these kinds of conversations couldn’t happen without complete and total honesty. No lying, no half-truths.

While it wasn’t easy, it was necessary, and Alec kept that in mind as he carefully chose his answer. “It might be. I don’t know if I know enough to answer that accurately. But it’s something I’m open to talking about.”

When Alec looked down, one golden cat eye was peeking up at him through wet hair. Under normal circumstances, Alec knew that Magnus would be a lot more verbal right now. That he’d have opinions and questions of his own. But right now, he was clearly too caught up in the moment – and in the headspace, if Alec remembered what he’d read right – to do more than ask a soft “Really?”

Alec smiled at him before bending down enough to kiss the top of Magnus’ head. “Really.” Then he stroked his hand over Magnus’ back again, trying to soothe away the bit of tension that their talk had brought to his muscles. “We can talk about it in the morning, though. Once we’re both more alert, and we’ve had some time to think. For now, just let me take care of you.” He paused, and then on impulse, added, “I’m okay with whatever you want to call me tonight. So long as it’s what you want.”

One of Magnus’ arms snaked around Alec’s waist, curling over his hip to rest lightly between his back and the tub. Magnus turned with that touch, drawing his knees up a little until he was curled up in Alec’s lap. “Thank you… Daddy.”

The smile that stretched Alec’s lips was soft and full of love. “Anytime, papillon. Anytime.”

Chapter Text

Saying they were going to talk about things in the morning was a lot easier than actually doing it. It was one thing to broach the subject while they were in their bath, in a safe space, and another thing entirely to find themselves curled up on the balcony couch with their morning cups of coffee and a load of awkwardness sitting between them.

They’d come out here after breakfast, just like they always did, yet instead of their usual quiet comfort, the air was charged with all the things they weren’t saying.

Seeing Magnus feel so out of sorts almost made the whole thing harder. Usually, he was the one to steer any of their talks that ventured into this kind of territory. He was the one with the knowledge and experience. Yet this was clearly important to him, and something that he both wanted and didn’t expect to get.

However, there was only an hour until Alec needed to leave for the Institute, and he didn’t want this sitting the back of their minds all day long. That would only make it worse. Which meant that Alec was going to have to be the one to start the conversation.

He looked across the couch to his boyfriend, who was curled up against the armrest staring down at his mug like it held the answers to the universe. They were both on their own ends, a not uncommon seating arrangement, with their feet tangled together in the middle. Alec took advantage of that and nudged at Magnus’ foot to draw his attention.

Beautiful cat eyes darted up, so full of nerves, and the sight of them seemed to just steal away some of Alec’s own fears. As always seemed to happen to him, when the ones he loved were scared or hurt – or upset – he found himself stepping up, his own voice full of a steadiness they could ground themselves on. “We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to,” Alec told him. “Like you offered me last night, we can just pretend this never happened. If that’s what you want.”

Some of that courage that ran through Magnus, that had gotten him through all these centuries, had him lifting his chin and shaking his head. “No. Pretending doesn’t actually make something go away.” A sudden flash of impishness went across Magnus’ face, making his lips curve. “Besides, if I use that now, how am I supposed to stop you the next time you insist everything is fine?”

Rolling his eyes, Alec nudged his ankle again, a little harder this time. “Ha, ha. You’re hilarious.”

“Thank you, darling.”

Just that light teasing was enough to break the ice a bit. The two found it easier to meet one another’s eyes. Magnus’ body lost some of its tension, slumping down a little further into the couch until he actually looked like he was comfortable.

“I’m not quite sure how to start this conversation,” Magnus admitted.

A small smile touched Alec’s lips. He twisted a little more to better face his partner, drawing his mug up for a sip as he did. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you hesitant on talking about something like this.”

“That’s different. Talking about sex is easy. This… isn’t just sex. It’s, more.”

He seemed to lose his words again. Once more, Magnus dropped his eyes down, clearly unable to verbalize what he wanted. It was quite the role reversal from the way things usually went. This time it was Magnus who was shy and hesitant, afraid to ask for what he wanted, and Alec who was the calm one.

Once more, Alec steered their conversation, trying to keep his voice just as steady as before. “So, not just a kink, but a…” he paused, trying to remember the word he’d seen during his research. “Lifestyle?”

Magnus snuck another look up at him. “You seem to have far more knowledge on this than I anticipated.”

“Not really. I just, read something once, that’s all.” This time it was Alec looking away, battling a blush. He ignored the soft huff of laughter that Magnus gave. He knew if he gave the other man a second, he’d start teasing, and that was the last thing Alec wanted right then. They’d never get this done. So he hurried to speak again before Magnus could. “So what exactly is it that you’re hoping for out of this?”

That shut down any chance of Magnus laughing at him. He sort of folded in on himself for a second, making Alec feel guilty for just blurting that out. Then Magnus drew in a deep breath and squared his shoulders. It was a pose he took when he was ready to get serious. He turned himself as well, better able to look right at Alec’s eyes as he started to speak.

“I know it might not seem like it, but I want… rules. I like things to have a certain kind of order to them,” he said bluntly. “Being who I am, and as old as I am, plus my title, it means that anytime I walk into a room, I’m expected to be in charge. People want to see Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn. Most of the time I’m perfectly fine with that. I just, want someone who sees me as just Magnus. Someone I can trust to take over for a while and make the decisions so I don’t have to.”

That actually made a lot of sense. Alec had already noticed the major differences between who Magnus was in public versus who he was here. “Okay. I can see that.”

Bolstered by Alec’s words, Magnus kept going, looking just a little steadier. “I don’t do the whole age-play portion. Diapers, child toys, all of that. Those have never been my interest.”

Though Alec could feel himself blushing at that, he still nodded his head. So far, what he was hearing wasn’t bad. “Is it an all-the-time thing, or just an at-home thing?”

“For the most part I prefer to keep it in the home,” Magnus answered. A little furrow appeared in his brow, and he seemed to think about his words for a moment. “Or, well, mostly in the home. But that’s something we could get into later, if… if this is something we both truly want. I don’t want you to feel pressured into this, Alexander. As much as I might enjoy it, it’s not something I need.”

He wasn’t lying. If Alec said that he didn’t want this, he knew Magnus would let it go. That he’d allow it all to be brushed aside and they wouldn’t talk about it again. But… there was a part of Alec that had thrilled the instant he’d heard that Daddy pass Magnus’ lips. That part of him had been listening intently this entire time, and loving every minute of this. Maybe it wasn’t a normal relationship dynamic. Maybe Alec didn’t know all of what he was getting into.

What he did know was that he loved taking care of Magnus, and anything that had Magnus as relaxed and happy as he’d been last night was worth at least trying.

“We’d need a word,” Alec said abruptly.

It was clear his question threw Magnus for a loop. He shot Alec a confused look. “You mean like a safeword?”

Alec wrinkled his nose and wiggled his head in a so-so gesture. “Sort of. I mean, we already have those, right? I was thinking more like a…a, I don’t know. A switch word? For those times where you feel like you want to be in charge for a while.”

There were definitely times in their relationship when Magnus had taken control. Nights in bed where he’d pinned Alec’s hands above his head with bands of magic and then proceeded to drive him insane. Or when he stepped in and forced Alec to take a break and take care of himself. Those were things that Alec didn’t want to lose because of this. He liked that part of Magnus as much as he liked all the other parts of him.

He saw the understanding dawn on Magnus’ face. With that understanding, there was a little hint of something that Alec thought might be hope. Then it all went soft.

Magnus reached over, catching Alec’s hand with his. “That sounds like a good idea.”

“We’ll need to talk a bit more, too, when we’ve got more time. Figure out what we both want, and what the rules are.”

“The rules would be yours to set,” Magnus said, squeezing Alec’s hand. “That’s sort of the point of this, darling.”

He cut off when Alec shot him a dry look. One that he’d already been giving Magnus off and on for a while now, even if he hadn’t quite realized the significance of it, or what it meant when it had Magnus going quiet every time. Now he was very much aware of that, and he used it to his full advantage. “This isn’t going to turn into a dictatorship, Magnus. I’ve been in households like that, and I won’t do it again. You and I worked together to make rules and lists when we toyed around with… other things. I want us to do the same here.” I want to take care of you right.

The way that Magnus’ eyes were practically glowing with his magic said that he’d heard those unspoken words.

Hearing his own words sparked a memory for Alec. One that had him smiling just a little. It gave him an idea, too. “While I’m at work today I think you should write down a list of rules you think we should have. And then a corresponding punishment for each one.”

Surprise lit Magnus’ eyes. His eyebrows went up, and his tone was incredulous. “Without you? I thought you just said we were going to do this together.”

Alec nodded at him. “We will.” He wanted to see what Magnus put down. Not only to gauge what exactly he wanted out of this but to see how far he wanted to go. He could see that he’d made Magnus a bit nervous, though, and he tried to offer him a soothing smile. “Hey. I meant it. We’ll make our rules together. But before we do, I want to see what you think. And I don’t want you to put anything on there that you aren’t okay with.”

Their coffee cups vanished abruptly, throwing Alec a little. He didn’t really get a chance to react. One second he was holding the mug, and the next his hand was empty, and Magnus was practically launching himself across the couch. In a flash Alec found his arms full of his boyfriend.

Magnus wound his arms around Alec’s neck and buried his face right against the deflect rune on his neck. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

A wide smile stretched over Alec’s face. He brought his arms up around Magnus, holding him just as tightly as he was being held. “I love you too.”

Tonight, they’d have to continue their talk about this. There was so much more they needed to go over. But at least they both seemed to be on the same page now. Besides, while Magnus was here doing the homework Alec had set for him, Alec might be able to squeeze in some free time at work to be able to do a little more research of his own. If he was going to step into this role, this dynamic, he was going to make damn sure he did it right. Magnus deserved to be taken care of. He deserved the world. Now, Alec had permission to give it to him.

Twenty minutes later found Magnus sitting alone on the balcony. Alec had left just five minutes ago through a portal to make sure he wasn’t going to be late.

That left Magnus here. Alone with nothing but his thoughts as company. And oh, magic, did he have plenty to think about.

This wasn’t at all what Magnus had expected out of his morning. Last night after his little slip in the bath there’d been a brief moment where he’d felt both embarrassed and afraid of what was going to happen next. All because of one single word. A word that had been sitting in the back of his mind for a while now. Ever since Alec had started stepping in and taking over a bit in the privacy of their home.

It was hard not to think it when Alec would remind him it was time to eat and refuse to take no for an answer. Or when he’d force Magnus away from his work and physically tuck him in bed if necessary.

That word had gotten even harder not to say with every stern look Alec would send his way when he did something that put himself at risk. Every gentle kiss to his temple. Or when Alec would call Magnus papillon in that warm, loving voice, making the nickname an I love you all on its own.

Magnus knew that Alec had natural Daddy tendencies – anyone who spent time around the man knew that. Ones that probably stemmed from a lifetime of taking care of others. From the stories Magnus had heard, not just from Alec but from Jace and Isabelle, it was Alec who had been the parent to his siblings more often than not. That gave him a sort of authority.

Add in that he’d also been raised to be a leader, to take care of a whole Institute of Shadowhunters – it was second nature anymore for him to take charge in certain situations, or to take care of the people around him. Especially those close to his heart.

Yet when Magnus had secretly entertained those kinds of thoughts, he’d never dared hope for something like this.

This wasn’t just a bit of caretaking and a bedroom daddy kink. Alec was offering him so much more. Everything Magnus had secretly wished for yet never would’ve dared to ask. He was offering love and protection, safety, and comfort. He was offering to support Magnus in what he did yet provide him with the structure he sometimes craved. He was offering to look out for him and to rein him in if necessary.

No one had ever wanted to do that before. Those that had tried had eventually just given up on him. Magnus was always too much.

Yet here Alec was, offering it up like it was no big deal. Like he’d never even entertained the thought of Magnus being too much. Even through some of their darkest times, moments where they’d all broken and shattered and glued themselves back together, Alec was still there. Not just there, but willing to keep going, to keep giving more.

Magnus loved that man, more than he’d ever loved anyone.

He had no idea how long Alec would last with this. If it was something that he was just okay with now but might get bored with down the road. Or if maybe Alec might one day realize that Magnus really was too much and want to back off a little. But until that day, Magnus was going to take every bit of it he could get. At least then he’d always have the memories to fall back on of a time when someone loved him enough to take care of him the way he’d always wanted.

Looking down at the notebook he’d summoned after Alec left, Magnus bit his bottom lip and tried to focus.

For someone who said he didn’t have much knowledge about this whole dynamic, he’d sure picked a smart first step. Magnus could see what he was trying to do here by having Magnus write out a list. It was smart.

However, if it was going to work, it meant that Magnus needed to be as brutally honest as possible. This was going to be Alec’s test to see what it was that Magnus wanted. What he needed. If he lied, or put down something he didn’t really like, it was only going to hurt both of them in the long run.

Alec was someone Magnus could trust. He’d proved that plenty of times. He wasn’t going to judge whatever Magnus put here. Maybe he wouldn’t agree with it all, but he wouldn’t judge it.

Reminding himself of that, Magnus took one last deep breath. Then he began to write.

The day seemed to pass by in alternating bursts of too fast and too slow for Alec. There was plenty enough in the Institute to keep him busy. Yet another batch of new recruits meant lots of paperwork and meetings. Luckily, it also kept his siblings busy with showing people around and starting some training and assessments. Alec was extremely grateful for that. Isabelle was far too good at reading what was going on with Alec sometimes. He didn’t want her picking up on any of this.

There were a few breaks in the day where Alec was free to lock his office a bit ad take some time to do that research he’d talked about.

It was a good thing he was alone. Some of the things he read on there were enough to have his blush burning his cheeks. Others were definitely logged away in the back of his mind to think about more later on. Maybe even to talk to Magnus about.

Talking about all of this – it wasn’t going to be easy. But it was going to be necessary. They’d only brushed over the bare minimum of things this morning. They’d given each other a vague idea of what they wanted without really defining what it meant to them. And sure, Alec had left Magnus with some homework that might help them start to outline those boundaries, but even that was going to require talking. Magnus was the one that had taught Alec that. These kinds of things required communication to work.

Alec was surprised by just how badly he wanted this to work.

If what he saw and read was right, this sounded like… well, it sounded perfect. He was basically going to get to do what he already liked doing, only he could do it without the fear of going too far. He wouldn’t have to worry about being rebuffed because they’d already have their roles clearly defined, and if Alec’s efforts were pushed aside or ignored, there’d be a clear action to take in result. Alec liked that. He liked rules and order.

The more time he took to think about all this, the more excited by it he became. That was relaxing in and of itself. Part of what Alec had wanted to figure out today if this was something that he wanted or if it was just something he was trying to like because Magnus wanted it. As much as Alec hated to admit it, there were things he’d be willing to do happily if it was what Magnus wanted.

If the low curl of desire and excitement in the bottom of his gut as he made his way home was anything to go by, this definitely wasn’t going to be just for Magnus.

Alec stopped off long enough to grab some Thai food from one of their favorite restaurants. It was his night to choose dinner, so he knew he didn’t have to worry about Magnus already having food waiting for them.

By the time Alec got to the loft, he was equal parts nervous and excited. This was a huge thing they were about to do tonight. Something that, from what Alec understood, would change the entire dynamic of their relationship in so many different ways. Yet, instead of being afraid of it, Alec found himself eager. There was a lightness to his step when he walked through the front doors and into the place he’d come to call home.

Magnus was waiting for him. He was right there as soon as Alec came into the living room, a smile on his lips and a coffee mug in his hand. One that, from the smell of it, actually held coffee. “Welcome home.” Stepping in close, Magnus stole a quick kiss, and, yep, he tasted like coffee, too. Some of Alec’s confusion must’ve shown through on his face. Magnus grinned a little when he pulled back. “I figured tonight was a night we should both definitely be sober for.”

Ah. That made sense. “Smart choice,” Alec said, smiling just a little. He lifted up the bags in his arms. “I brought dinner if you’re hungry.”

“Starved. Why don’t we take this up to the roof? It looks to be a beautiful night.”

Magnus took one of the bags from him, leading the way over to the stairs that would take them up to the roof, and Alec followed after him. It didn’t escape his notice that Magnus detoured just a little to grab a notebook off the coffee table. The thought of what that likely was had Alec smiling faintly.

They didn’t jump right into things. Neither one of them needed that. They took their time enjoying the food Alec had brought home and just talking to each other. A shared dinner was one of their favorite ways to start unwinding when they both got back from their respective jobs. Something about the simple act of sharing food with one another helped begin the process of going from Head of the Institute and High Warlock to just Alec and Magnus.

By the time they were finally done, the night was fully on them, and they were cuddled together on the couch. Unlike this morning, they sat together this time, Alec tucked into one corner with his legs stretched out the length of the couch, and Magnus seated practically in his lap. It allowed Magnus to tuck his forehead against Alec’s neck, body twisted to lay on his side, and Alec was free to wrap his arms around him.

They’d found that sometimes it was easier to talk like this. Easier when they didn’t have to look at one another.

Surprisingly – or perhaps not, he’d always been the braver of them – it was Magnus who started the conversation they needed to have. Even though he was clearly nervous, he clearly pushed it down enough to get them going. “Did you get a chance to do the research you wanted to do today?”

“I did.” Alec trailed his fingers lightly up Magnus’ arm in a soothing gesture.

“And is this still something you… want?”

Alec turned his head enough to press a smiling kiss against Magnus’ hair. His stomach was squirming, yet his hands were steady, and so was his voice. Magnus needed him to be steady right now. “I told you before, it’s something I’m willing to talk about. What I researched, it gave me a general idea of things, and I didn’t really find anything that I wasn’t comfortable with. But none of that tells me what you need out of this. Which, in the end, is the most important part of this.”

“How you feel about it is important, too, Alexander,” Magnus said firmly.

Giving Magnus’ arm a reassuring squeeze, Alec nodded as well. “Yes, it is. But this is about your needs, Magnus, and I can’t tell you what I want until you let me know what it is that you need.”

There was a moment of quiet while Magnus processed his words. His body relaxed just a little. He seemed to realize that Alec really was here for this; that he wasn’t going to run away. With that comfort, a bit of Magnus’ usual confidence was coming through, steadying his voice and making him more able to say what needed to be said.

“Like I said earlier, I don’t want to age play. Though…sometimes, when I’m in the right mood, I’m rather…childish.” The words came out slow, as if Magnus were feeling each one out as they came, yet there was confidence to them that had been lacking just a few moments ago. “I, ah, Ragnor was the only one who ever really saw me like that. He says I go young in my head, though not, not infant. Just, little.”

When Magnus paused as if waiting for Alec to say something, he simply gave a small hum, trying to encourage him to keep going. What he was saying kind of matched with some of what Alec had seen online. ‘Littles,’ as he’d read they were called, seemed to have a mindset they went into sometimes. One that definitely made their behavior younger. Privately, Alec was glad that Magnus didn’t drop down to infancy. But, toddler, young kid? Alec had experience in dealing with those. He didn’t foresee it being a problem.

“What I want is…I want you to be in charge, unless one of us needs to safeword out, or if it deals with my duties as High Warlock. What we do, it can’t interfere with our jobs.”

“Agreed,” Alec said easily. He wouldn’t dream of stepping in when Magnus was being the High Warlock. That was his job.

Magnus pressed a kiss against Alec’s chest. He one hand came up, tracing patterns in that same spot. It was one of those absentminded gestures that meant that Magnus was thinking. Alec gave him a moment to gather his thoughts together.

“You already do most of what I want,” Magnus finally said. “You pay attention to me when you’re here. You take care of me when I need it, and you don’t let me just ignore my own needs. I always know where I stand with you because you make sure that those boundaries are clear. This…this would just give you more control. We’d have better defined rules, and consequences when they aren’t followed.”

Alec’s eyes moved over to the notebook on the table. “I take it you made your lists like I asked?”

“I did,” Magnus said, nodding against him. He snapped his fingers and brought the notebook from the table to Alec’s free hand.

Snorting at the laziness of that gesture – he could’ve just leaned forward and grabbed it – Alec shook his head. But he went ahead and opened up the notebook to the first page. There, in Magnus’ beautiful, swooping handwriting, was a list titled Rules.

Alec let his eyes run over the list first just so he could get a general idea of what was on there. He’d searched for sample rule lists earlier on his phone. What was on Magnus’ list mostly matched with what Alec had seen – bedtime by 1 a.m., no lying, no swearing, no coming without permission. Nothing that he’d put on there was something that Alec couldn’t agree with, though some he felt the need to clarify a little.

“You put down to never hide when you’re magically exhausted,” Alec read. He tapped his finger against Magnus’ arm. “I very much agree, but I’d like you to tell me when you’re exhausted, or when you recognize that you’re getting close to it. If we put down not to hide it, you’re going to use that as a loophole to not tell me about it until the last possible minute.”

He could feel the small huff of laughter that Magnus let out against his chest. “You know me far too well.”

A pen appeared in Magnus’ hand. He didn’t take the notebook, just tilted it enough to cross out the rule they’d discussed and rewrite it. Alec adjusted his hold so that it was easier for both of them to access.

Once Magnus was done, Alec ran his finger over the space underneath it, tapping once. “While we’re on the subject of magic, I want you to know that I know it’s a part of you, and I’m not going to stop you from doing it unless I feel that it’s detrimental to your health, and I will always listen if you explain why I’m wrong.”

“Okay…” Magnus said slowly. He clearly recognized there was more coming.

Alec smothered a smile. “That being said, and with your rule below about limiting your alcohol intake, I think we should put one here that says no magic after five drinks. By the time you reach that point, you’re buzzed enough that your magic doesn’t always listen to you.” He gave a small shudder as he remembered the last time Magnus had tried magic beyond that five-drink point. The food he’d meant to summon for them from one of his favorite restaurants had made it to them, only he’d managed to summon the raw, uncooked pieces that made up the meal – sauce included. It’d ended up everywhere. Alec had ended up washing pasta sauce out from behind his ears.

Either Magnus was remembering the same moment, or he was thinking one of the many others – there were plenty of those kinds of stories that Alec or Catarina could tell. He shuddered a little and nodded rather quickly and moved to write it down. “Ah, yes. That’s probably a good idea.”

Those done, Alec moved on to the next one. “What do you mean by check-in each day?”

“Just, maybe a noontime call or text. And maybe a text if something comes up, so you know when I’m leaving.”

That made sense. It was nothing more than what Alec’s siblings did with him. “That’s easy enough. My siblings already do the same thing.”

He felt Magnus shift, and then those beautiful cat eyes were peeking up at him. “Really?”

Alec nodded. “Mmhmm. When I’m not around, I always have my siblings check-in. Even Max sends me at least one text a day to let me know how he is and that he’s okay. I implemented that when they did their travel tour to other Institutes so I could make sure they were okay while they were gone. They’ve just, never stopped.”

Magnus blinked at him a few times, processing that. “If this was important to you, why didn’t you tell me? Darling, even without this whole dynamic, I would’ve happily done that.”

“You do it most of the time anyway, Mags.” There’d never been any point in asking for something that Magnus already did anyway.

There’d been quite a few things that Alec had read today, and that he was reading now on Magnus’ list, that he was coming to realize they already did. In some ways, they’d already been living this lifestyle, even if they hadn’t had a name for it. Alec had mostly just attributed it to being in a relationship. After all, Magnus was his first relationship.

The rest of the list… there was nothing more that Alec could think to add at the moment and nothing else that he wanted to correct or remove.

He looked down at Magnus and found his boyfriend watching him, a faint smile on his lips. The stress that Alec had seen there earlier was gone. Apparently, Alec had passed some sort of silent test while they were talking about this. Magnus didn’t look as worried anymore. Oh, there was still a hint of it in his eyes, but it was the same worry that Alec always saw there. The one that he knew – after one night where Magnus had drunk way too much and babbled at him while Alec tucked him into bed – came from Magnus’ belief that he was always too much.

Magnus had spent his life being told he was too much in so many different ways, while Alec had always been told he was not enough. They were both broken, yet when they were with each other, it was like their broken pieces fit together to make something so much stronger. This? This would only further that.

Lifting his hand off of Magnus’ arm, Alec curled it enough to brush the back of his fingers over Magnus’ cheek. He felt something inside him settle at that moment. The last of his own worries fading away.

This dynamic was going to take a bit of getting used to, and some trial and error on both their parts, but the idea of being able to take care of Magnus the way he wanted to was a thrilling one. Magnus was his, had been his from the instant Alec first kissed him in front of everyone, and Alec would be damned if he’d ever let him go.


Chapter Text

That very first talk they had was only the first of many of the next three days. Changing their lives like this wasn’t something that either one of them took lightly. Even just starting a new dynamic in the bedroom alone would’ve taken quite a lot of talking. One like this that touched all aspects of their lives? There was a lot that needed to be said to make sure they did it right and minimized the risk of things going wrong.

With each progressive conversation, things got easier and easier. At least for Alec. He was beginning to realize just how many of the things they talked about were things they already did. The most significant difference was that Alec didn’t have to hold back his caretaking urges anymore. He didn’t have to worry that they’d make Magnus feel uncomfortable, or infantilized, or any of those quiet worries that sat in the back of Alec’s mind when he tried to take care of his boyfriend. Not only were their roles very clearly defined to one another, but those things that Alec had worried would be too much were actually things that Magnus wanted.

There were still times that they were going to just be themselves. Or times where Magnus would use his word, or Alec, and they’d let up those restrictions and maybe even hand control over to Magnus for a while. But for the most part? This was who they were. It was going to be their life now. And Alec was so ready for it.

Together, the two took their basic rules and made a proper list out of them, one that Alec insisted on hanging up in their bedroom where no one else would be able to see it. When Magnus pointed out that he was fully capable of remembering them, Alec raised one eyebrow in silent question. “I’m not giving you a chance to claim you forgot.”

That had gotten him a blush and a shy sort of smile that only made Alec want to kiss him.

Alec had always known he’d been privileged to see the softer side of Magnus. That it wasn’t one he showed to just anyone. But now that they’d started this whole process, it felt like he was getting to see it more and more, and it only served to make Alec’s love grow.

However, days had passed now, and they’d done all the initial talking that both of them thought they needed to do. The rules list was hung up in the privacy of their bedroom with a glamour over it that would prevent anyone but them from reading it. They’d talked rules, limits – both soft and hard ones – and punishments. They were ready. Not just ready – excited.

Today was the first day they were going to wake up together with everything officially set between them. Both of them had gone to bed with a nervous sort of excitement between them. So many things were going to still be the same, but there was a freedom to it all now. The knowledge that what they both wanted and had been doing before was not only okay, it was expected, and that changed it all entirely.

When Alec woke up that morning, it was to the feeling of a warm body draped over his, and a soft nuzzle against his chest. He smiled without bothering to open his eyes. “I don’t know what your obsession is with my chest hair,” he murmured. One of his hands slid off of Magnus’ hip where it’d been resting, stroking up the bare skin of his back.

Magnus nuzzled in a little more, nose moving through Alec’s chest hair while he made a happy sound low in his throat. “I like it.”

“Trust me, I’ve noticed.”

When Alec slowly blinked his eyes open, he found Magnus looking up at him through long lashes. His eyes were still heavy from sleep, his face bare of makeup, and he had a rather epic case of bedhead going on. He was beautiful.

Alec couldn’t resist bringing his other hand up to stroke his knuckles over Magnus’ cheek. “Mornin’, sweetheart.”

Little crinkles appeared at the corners of Magnus’ eyes. He kissed Alec’s chest, right next to his nipple. “Morning, Daddy.”

Those words were soft, a bit sleep-heavy still, and just the tiniest bit hesitant. Magnus was far more nervous about some of this than Alec was. Not that he didn’t want it; he just seemed to still be unable to really believe he got to have it.

A warm feeling bloomed around Alec’s heart. They were doing this. They were actually doing this.

How could he do anything else other than draw his sweet, wonderful boy up for a good-morning kiss that stole both their breath away?

By the time they pulled apart, there was a dazed look in Magnus’ eyes, and his breathing was just a bit heavier. It was definitely one of Alec’s favorite looks for him. Magnus liked to tease him sometimes, saying that there was no way the wedding-that-wasn’t was his first kiss. Alec often blushed over that teasing, but he smiled about it, too. Because it was nice to know that his inexperience didn’t mean he couldn’t make his partner happy.

Now with quite a bit of experience under his belt, using kisses to sort of shut down Magnus’ brain was still one of Alec’s favorite things to do.

If only they had time to indulge a little more. Unfortunately, despite what today was to them, it was also still a workday. One that Alec couldn’t miss.

“Come on,” Alec murmured, patting Magnus’ hip to get him to start moving. “We’ve both got to get up. I’ve got to be to work in an hour, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got a client not long after that.” He was almost positive of it. The last he’d looked at Magnus’ schedule on their calendar – a shared app on their phones that updated both of them every time either one added something in – there were quite a few clients for Magnus today.

Alec caught sight of an impish grin before Magnus ducked his head down and tried to wind himself closer. “Five more minutes.”

The smile that stretched over Alec’s lips was fond. Yet his voice held a slightly stern note to it when he said, “It’s never just five more minutes with you. Come on, up.”

That wouldn’t have worked before. Magnus would’ve whined, maybe played dirty by trying to distract Alec, which was okay on some days. There were some days where Alec built that extra time into his alarm. But this morning was different, and both of them knew it. Magnus snuck a look up at him again, one eye peeking up, and then that eye crinkled briefly with his smile. A second later Magnus was pushing himself up and pressing a warm, easy kiss to Alec’s lips before he climbed out of bed.

Though that didn’t stop him from pausing by the bathroom door and shooting a coy look over his shoulder. “Join me?”

That was an offer Alec rarely ever refused. Grinning, he got out of bed and set off after his partner.

Thirty minutes later, the two of them were in the kitchen, still smiling from their shower. Alec was dressed in a suit. The day was going to be mostly meetings and a late briefing on some new policies through the Institute, which meant no need for most of his gear. The suit was one that Magnus had picked, which seemed to please him. He was watching Alec with a grin from his seat at the bar counter on the other side of the sink.

Magnus was, of course, already fully dressed, with his makeup done and his hair spiked. He looked as gorgeous as ever. A distracting fact that Alec was well aware of as he made their pancakes.

“Luis did a wonderful job on your suit,” Magnus said, leaning on his arms on the counter and shamelessly ogling Alec as he moved. When Alec shot him a dry look for it, Magnus just grinned even wider and wiggled his eyebrows. “Your ass looks great in those pants.”

Alec turned to give Magnus a warning look. ‘No swearing’ had been one of the rules Magnus had chosen. He’d claimed he swore too much and that, outside the bedroom, he’d like to tone it down. So that was what the rule was. Outside of their bedroom, no swearing. The look Alec gave him didn’t quite seem to be enough, so Alec tacked on a “Language,” that had Magnus ducking his head for a brief second.

It didn’t quiet him for long, though. He popped his head back up only seconds later, smiling once more. “You really do look gorgeous. Much better than that last suit you had. You have to admit, Luis did fantastic with the measurements we sent him.”

The idea of being measured by someone else hadn’t been all that appealing to Alec. So, when Magnus had finally worn him down and convinced him to get a tailored suit made, it’d been Magnus who had measured him in the privacy of their bedroom. It’d led to quite the fun afternoon, he had to admit. But Alec had also known at the time that allowing Magnus to get something like this done for him was just a small step down a very steep slope. It’d start with a suit, and then move on to other things. A new shirt here, a new pair of pants there, until Magnus finally got to give Alec’s wardrobe the overhaul he so desperately wanted to give it.

A few items had already been discreetly added into the section of the closet that had become Alec’s. At least Magnus did a better job than Isabelle in finding things that were still Alec. Isabelle came close, but she was always convinced he needed to be more. He didn’t take too much offense to it. It was just her way of trying to help.

“I don’t need more clothes,” Alec felt compelled to point out.

“It’s less a need and more a wonderful sort of, perk. A reward to yourself, so to speak.”

The pancakes were finally done, and Alec quickly plated them, bringing them over to the bar with them. As he set the plates down, he dropped a quick kiss against Magnus’ temple. Then he slipped down into the seat beside him. “How about this for a reward?” Alec lifted his fork and pointed it at Magnus, smiling just a little as he did. “You manage to make it through the next week without getting into any serious trouble, and I’ll let you buy me one new outfit.”

The way that Magnus lit up was almost enough to make Alec laugh. Though he did give in and grin when Magnus got that devious sparkle in his eyes. “A full outfit.”

“Every piece,” Alec promised.

That sparkle brightened, and the way Magnus beamed at him made any future discomfort worth it.

Alec smiled fondly and ate his food while Magnus launched into a pretty one-sided debate on what sort of cut worked best for whatever outfit it was he wanted to put Alec in. Most of it didn’t make any sense, but then again, what Magnus or Isabelle or anyone else had to say about fashion rarely made sense to Alec. He’d long ago grown used to listening to those types of conversations. He just ate his breakfast and smiled, nodding along when it seemed appropriate.

Soon enough, their breakfast was done, dishes were in the dishwasher, and Alec was at the front door pulling his jacket on. Magnus was there to do up the buttons, something he always seemed to like to do when he was awake for Alec leaving. Mostly because on those days he was able to hide Alec’s plainer jackets and get him in the dark grey wool trench coat Magnus claimed looked so good on him.

“There,” Magnus said, smoothing his hands over the jacket. “You look both professional and rather dashing. I’ve half a mind to keep you here for myself or take you out somewhere to show you off properly.”

“I do have a job to do,” Alec pointed out. He was smiling, though.

Magnus sighed dramatically, yet his own lips were quirking up a bit when he stretched upward to give Alec a kiss. “Fine. Go do your job, Shadowhunter. I’ll talk to you later.”

“You’ll call me later when you stop to eat lunch,” Alec reminded him firmly.

Where once that might’ve gotten him an eye roll, or an amused huff, this time Alec watched as everything about Magnus seemed to soften. He leaned in a little closer to Alec, eyes warm and gentle as he looked up. There was so much love written in the soft lines of his face, it stole Alec’s breath away. “I’ll call you, Daddy, I promise.”

They shared one last kiss, and then Magnus was making a portal and Alec dragged himself through, stepping out of the loft and onto the front yard of the Institute with a big smile on his face he couldn’t wipe away.

This morning hadn’t been anything special. It hadn’t even been anything out of the ordinary. They’d played out plenty of scenes like this ever since Alec started staying the night over there. But this morning there’d been a rosy sort of glow over it all. A warm feeling that Alec carried in his heart. Because while it might’ve been the same, it’d also been different, and it’d felt terrific. Alec hadn’t known the two of them could get any more comfortable around each other. Yet there’d been an ease in the air – an ease in Magnus. One that Alec hadn’t noticed was missing until he was faced with the difference.

There were a lot of ways that this new dynamic between them was going to change things. Yet, at the same time, so many things were going to stay the same. This was just a small start. But – it was a start. One that left Alec eagerly looking forward to going back home that night. Now he not only had a boyfriend waiting for him, he had his sweet baby boy, someone who Alec now had explicit and open permission to care for and spoil to his heart's content.

Alec was still smiling when he headed inside.