“DAMN IT, ALEC!” Jace yells, causing everyone else to fall silent. “Are you, or are you not cheating on Magnus?”
“Cheating on… what… you think… I…” Alec stutters out, wondering where in any of the hell plains Jace got such a ridiculous idea from. “What?” he repeats, with a finality that demands an answer. “Where the hell would you get such an idea, Jace?” Alec demands anyway, just for good measure.
“We saw you!” Jace shoots back, sneering. “Two days ago. Magnus called to check if you were stuck in a meeting with the Clave and if that was why you weren’t answering your phone. Only you’d already left the Institute an hour earlier saying you were going on a date with Magnus. Izzy and I, thinking you were in trouble, tracked you to some mundane café only to find you getting cosy with some random guy. And don’t tell me it’s nothing or not what we think it is; you love that guy, Alec,” he continues, sounding absolutely disgusted in Alec, “I could feel it.”
There’s a lot wrong with that but, unfortunately, there’s also a lot that’s technically correct too.
He did tell Izzy and Jace that he was going on a date with Magnus when they asked why he was leaving the Institute. And he did go to a mundane café to meet with Max instead. And he certainly does love Max with all his heart. But his siblings have put two and two together and have somehow come up with fifty-one instead of four.
Alec takes a moment to recognise the utter absurdity of his life. Because how exactly he got here, to a point where his own siblings believe him to be cheating on his husband because they’d spied on him clandestinely meeting up with his son so they could figure out how to get back to the future without anyone else realising that they do not belong in this time, Alec will never understand. And he’s the one that has lived it.
On the other hand, though, Alec can’t help but be delighted by how his siblings are defending Magnus against him. As far as Alec is concerned anyone that protects Magnus from those that would or have wronged him are doing the right thing.
…even if that someone is Alec.
“Well, hermano?” Izzy says, not quite as loud as Jace has been, but there’s still a hardness to her voice. And behind it, disappointment.
Alec flickers his gaze to Magnus. His husband, who is technically just his boyfriend at this moment in time; who has been silent this entire time. Standing away from them all so much he’s halfway into the loft’s kitchen as he observes with a hardened face.
But Alec has been married to this man for one hundred and twenty-eight years and he knows Magnus. He can see the hurt in Magnus’ glamoured eyes as clear as daylight. The way he’s standing so frighteningly still, like he’s trying to disappear. The tension in his shoulders as he braces himself for Alec to admit to his infidelity, the slight clenching of his jaw to stop the tears welling in his eyes. Alec’s heart aches for his husband and a part of him longs to break his and Max’s vow to not deliberately change anything in favour of hunting down Camille and very slowly and painfully staking her.
Alec hates himself for having needed to lie to Magnus so much this past week; only compounded by the fact that it’s so soon since Valentine’s death and, even now, decades since it was Alec as he is now that had hurt Magnus so badly, he still feels the guilt of his decisions as freshly as he always has.
The other unfortunate thing about their promise is that they can’t go asking for help.
Because telling people that they’re from about a hundred and thirty years in the future would definitely classify as changing things, however incidentally.
The point of contention within all this is that Alec’s first move for any bizarre situation containing magic –like, say, time travel– would be to go to Magnus. Any Magnus, even one that doesn’t trust or even know Alec would be, in Alec’s opinion, worlds better than no Magnus at all.
Alec is saved from having to think his way out of this particular mess right this second by his phone ringing. Pulling it from his pocket, Alec glances at the number flashing on the screen; it’s the number of the cheap disposable phone they’d bought for Max to use until they figure out a way of returning to their own time, and answers it.
“Really,” Jace demands of him, clearly unimpressed. “You’re going to answer a call right now?”
“How’s it going?” Alec asks Max, deliberately vague as he ignores Jace.
Behind his parabatai, Clary and Simon are sitting close together in uncharacteristic silence. To be honest, Alec’s not sure why they’re even here for this; but then, he doesn’t really care why. In the rare occurrence that Alec has gotten attached to another person, it’s always happened quickly. With all three of his siblings, with Magnus, with Madzie and then over and over again with each and every last child he and Magnus have taken into their home and hearts. The two exceptions to this are Clary and Simon, who managed to worm their way into his heart; and Alec has missed the pair almost as much as he has Jace, Izzy and Max.
“Ehhh,” is the answer Max chooses to go with after a moment’s deliberation. “I mean, there’s potential,” he continues, but sounds confused. “What about you? How’s dealing with the Clave? ”
“Better than it could be.”
“You sound tense, dad,” Max says questioningly. There’s a pause before he asks, more urgently, “is it papa? Is something wrong?”
Alec chances a glance at Magnus, at this man he has loved for the last thirteen decades and who he plans on loving for as long as they continue to live. Maybe one more good thing can come from this freak accident; more than him and Max getting to see some of their family they never thought they would again. Maybe, in one of the most fragile times of their relationship, maybe Alec can give Magnus some hope.
“You know that thing we said we wouldn’t do,” he asks Max, making up his mind even as he says the words. Because Alec has always been hopeless to not give Magnus the world. “I’m reconsidering.”
“Huh? Dad, you’re not making any sense. ”
“The telling people thing. It’s been a week. We need… help.” Magnus. What they need is Magnus and they both know that’s exactly what Alec means when he says they need help.
“Oh, Thank the Gods! ” Alec winces and pulls the phone away from his ear as Max all but yells. “I did not want to be the first to say it, but yeah. We need papa, dad. He’s way better at this shit than I am. ”
Alec’s scowl is automatic at this point and has been for well over a century now. “Max, you are a perfectly capable warlo…”
“I KNOW, DAD! I know, ” Max says, cutting him off. “You love me and you believe in me and you can go back to validating all my life choices all you want when we’re back in our own time, yeah. But for now, can we please just agree that we need papa if we ever want to have a hope of getting home.”
Alec rolls his eyes even as warmth blooms in his chest at son’s words, however flippant they are aside. His one goal as a father has always been to make sure his children know that they are loved unconditionally and that nothing they do will ever not be good enough in his eyes.
“So, what made you change your mind? ” Max asks.
Alec stares his dumbass parabatai right in the eye as he tells Max, “Your aunts and uncles think I’m cheating on your papa.”
“With who,” Max says, somehow managing to sound both snarky and dismissive. “Actually, what does it even matter? Like you ever would, ” he continues with a snort, “you’re so blind to anyone not papa that you wouldn’t notice someone flirting with you if they danced naked in front of flashing neon billboard saying that they’re flirting with you. ”
Alec rolls his eyes despite the truth of it. “Just get home, you hell born brat. And don’t portal straight in, Max.”
“Firstly, that’s racist. Secondly, duh; front door? ” Max requests before hanging up before Alec can answer.
Alec spins on his heel before going to unlock the front door to the loft, opening it wide just as a portal bursts into existence in the open space.
Max steps out, an old tome in hand with his usual blue skin glamoured to a mundane safe brown. Likewise, his horns aren’t currently visible, although he’s left his dreadlocks their natural dark blue.
Alec doesn’t hesitate to wrap Max in a hug once the front door to the loft is shut behind them again, never mind it’s only been a day since they last met up. Releasing Max, Alec keeps him close by cupping a cheek in his hand and giving his son a once over with his eyes.
“You good, blue?” he asks.
Max gives him a genuine, small smile, before he lets a smirk take over his lips. “Well, that depends, dad. Who is this supposed homewrecker that you’re tearing this family apart with?” he asks, wiping away a non-existent tear from his eye with an equally as fake sob.
Alec rolls his eyes.
“Max,” he says slowly, looking his son in the eye. “Exactly who have I been sneaking around to meet with for the past week?”
Realisation dawns on Max’s face in the form of absolute disgust.
“OH. Ew, no! Ewww, Uncle Jace, what the fuck?” Max blurts out, shuddering under Alec’s hand as he twists to face Jace.
“Whyyyyyyy?” Max moans dramatically before he starts fake retching with sounds and all.
“I blame you,” Alec says completely deadpan to Magnus, who is looking at him and Max with wide eyes that hold a barely concealed glimmer of hope. Alec points a finger at Max, drawing a circle in their son’s direction in a way to identify all of Max and his over-the-top dramatics. “All this; he gets it from you.”
“Ha!” Max retorts in Magnus’ defence as he straightens up from where he’s been to Alec’s shoulder while fake collapsing. “Like you’re one to talk, dad. Mr ‘Call off my wedding to a woman by smooching the warlock that strode in at the very last minute’.”
Alec can’t help but grin at the reminder of the best decision he has ever made.
“What the fuck, Alec? This isn’t a laughing matter.”
“Oh, I beg to differ, Jace,” Alec flips back, still smiling. “It’s funny now, and it’ll still be funny in a hundred and thirty years when I tell Magnus about how you thought I was cheating on him with our son.”
“What did you do?” Magnus’ whisper shatters Alec’s good mood.
It’s been a long time since he’s heard Magnus use that particularly heartbreaking tone, and even longer since he has been the cause of it.
“Alexander, what did you do,” Magnus repeats and even from across the room Alec can see the tears shimmering in his eyes. The tension in his shoulders has disappeared, but it’s been replaced by a fragileness of fear.
Well, he and Max have already decided to get Magnus to help them get back to their own time and that’s going to involve saying just how far in the future they come from and that is, inevitably, going to raise questions as to how Alec is still alive in one hundred and thirty years.
May as well get it out now.
“There’s rune, one of Fray’s,” Alec gives her a fleeting soft smile before turning back to Magnus. “A couple modifications were needed to make it more stable and permanent, but we both wear it and it allows me to share your immortality,” he says bluntly.
“You can’t modify runes,” Izzy and Jace both say with no room for argument at the same time Lewis whispers.
“Now that’s some true love shit.”
“But why…” Magnus grounds out a beat after them. “You can’t really want…”
He trails off, but Alec knows exactly what he was going to say because he’s had this conversation before, not just with Magnus with but with every other member of their family as well. And even after, there have been times when Magnus’ insecurities have gotten the better of him and Alec’s had to reassure him that his mind hasn’t changed or that he regrets the decision.
Alec stops holding back. Ever since he and Max arrived in the past, Alec has been making sure to act as close as possible to how he had been back when he himself was living in this time. Those uncertain weeks after Valentine’s death when he and Magnus had both been walking on eggshells around each other, scared of doing anything that might scare of the other. Each of them believing themselves at fault for what had happened between them and terrified of doing or saying something that might make the other decide their relationship not worth the effort.
But there’s no need now, Magnus knows he’s not this version of Alec, so there’s no longer a need to pretend to be. And there’s absolutely no part of Alec that wants to hold back and not comfort his husband, not when he’s looking at Alec with such disbelief and uncertainty. Like he doesn’t know just how much Alec has cherished every single second of the last thirteen decades and how much more he looks forward to all the years they have to come.
He’s across the living room of their home before he knows it, ever so gently curling his hands so as to hold Magnus’ face.
“There’s nothing I want more, Magnus,” Alec says deliberately, tilting Magnus’ head up so their eyes meet, so that Magnus can see the truth on his face.
“Would I have considered immortality if I had never met you, or had I never married you,” Alec says even though the words and the thought of such a thing taste like ash closing up his throat. “No, I probably wouldn’t have. But I didn’t just for you, Magnus. I chose it for Max and Ra… and Madzie and every other lost child we have and will take in. I chose it so I could watch over all the Lightwoods and Herondales and Fairchilds and Lovelaces. I chose it to continue the work we’ve already started to unite the Shadow World, to make sure it sticks and doesn’t all go to waste. But yeah, I also did it because I can’t bear the thought of you going on without me. Not when I know there could not be a me without you at my side.”
“I won’t.” Magnus breaks free of Alec’s hold to barrel into him. Magnus’s face hidden in his throat as his arms wrap tight around Alec’s waist. Alec returns the embrace with just as much fervour, holding Magnus tight enough it has to hurt. “Losing you will shatter me, Alexander. You were never going to be just another scar or a trinket in a box to remember you by.”
Alec is perfectly happy to stand there while Magnus pulled himself together and when they do part Jace, Izzy, Clary and Simon all have enough tact to not mention the wetness that lingers on Alec’s neck or the embarrassed tightness on Magnus’ face as he forces a smile. Max, on the other hand, appears to have found time to grab some books from Magnus’ collection and has them spread out on the coffee table as he flips through them.
“You said you needed help?”