Alec was thankful his parents were still in Idris with Max because he could not handle it if they’d caught him leaning on Clary like he was.
“You’re heavier than you look you know that?” Clary asked from where she was situated under Alec’s arm. He had it wrapped around her neck and he was leaning almost his entire weight on her, his entire body aching.
“You’re a shadowhunter, you have enhanced strength, use it,” Alec panted. He’d felt okay leaving Magnus’, almost like he was floating on air actually, until him and Clary hadn’t been able to catch a cab due to the horrific downpour that caused all the mundanes to scramble for the cars. Now Alec and Clary were about ten blocks from the Institute and Alec was very close to passing out.
“Can’t we just call Isabelle? Or Jace?” Clary asked, her teeth chattering.
“Come on, we’re almost there. I can walk on my own if you want,” Alec offered, already sliding his arm away from her neck. Clary grabbed his wrist and pulled the arm back around her.
“Okay, one? You couldn’t walk three feet without my help right now. And two? Where we’re pressed together is currently the warmest place on my body so you do not get to let go when I’ve basically carried your sorry ass all the way from the subway,” Clary shot back. Alec had to admit she was essentially dragging him home.
“Can we just… stop? Just for a minute?” Alec asked, his vision spotting.
“Woah yeah, you okay?” Clary asked, her voice suddenly filled with concern. She pulled Alec under an awning in front of a bakery that coincidentally Jace loved. The bleak New York weather made the day seem much later than it was when it was actually only the middle of the afternoon. The bakery was thrumming with people attempting to stay warm and dry, powdered sugar hovering in the dry air inside.
“Yeah, I just need a second,” Alec rasped, leaning his shoulder against the red brick wall and dropping the duffel on the floor. Clary hovered beside him, concern clear on her face. Her expression cleared before she smiled and dashed around Alec, leaving him leaning against the wall on his own.
“Okay, I’ll just wait here. By myself,” Alec said sarcastically to the now empty space where Clary has been. Alec took deep breaths in and out, his body aching with every breath. He was actually considering calling Magnus when Clary reappeared beside him.
“Here,” Clary smiled, holding out a cupcake for Alec to take. Clary shot him an exasperated look when he didn’t move an inch and held the cupcake out more insistently. “Take the cupcake Alec.” Alec looked back at her with a similar exasperated look before reaching out and taking the cupcake.
“Thanks,” Alec said, holding the cupcake up in front of his face.
“I noticed the cupcakes on Magnus’ coffee table and I saw that none of them were gone. I figured out of everyone that deserved a cupcake today it was you,” Clary said lightly before taking a bite out of her cupcake.
“You are eating that all wrong,” Alec said affronted.
“How can I eat a cupcake wrong?” Clary asked, confused.
“You don’t take a massive bite out of it. You eat the bottom first and leave the frosting for last, everyone knows that,” Alec explained, eating the sponge off the bottom of his own cupcake and nibbling around the frosting on top.
“What? No. Then the ratio of sponge to frosting is all off, are you nuts?” Clary replied, taking a defiant bite out of her cupcake. Her glare wasn’t nearly as powerful as she wanted it to be considering her hair was dripping water onto her cheeks.
“The frosting is the best part, everyone knows that,” Alec said, licking his fingers to rid himself off the leftover frosting.
“If you do that every time you eat a cupcake no wonder Magnus conjured them,” Clary said cheekily, gesturing to the fingers in his mouth. She took a victorious bite of her cupcake as Alec’s face flamed red.
“That is, I mean you’re just, this is just -,” Alec stuttered.
“Alec?” Both Alec and Clary turned to face the new voice and found Lydia standing immaculately under a large black umbrella. She made a stark contrast to the dripping messes the two of them made hidden under the bakery awning.
“Lydia, what are you doing here?” Alec asked, wincing as he straightened up from the bakery wall.
“Jace asked if I’d come here to pick up some cupcakes. Apparently he’s making your favourite dessert but Isabelle hates it so I was despatched to get something else,” Lydia explained, her smile small but sincere.
“Iz hates tiramisu,” Alec smiled, “She can’t stand the taste of coffee.”
“Wait Jace can make tiramisu?” Clary asked, amused. She’d pushed off the wall too and was standing right next to Alec, smiling up at him softly.
“I told you, he’s pretty good at desserts,” Alec told her, returning her smile.
“Okay it’s only fair, one day you’ll make pizza from scratch, and Jace will make dessert, and Iz will make hot chocolate, and you’ll all feed me and in return I’ll educate you in mundane movies. Deal?” Clary asked, her smile growing wider.
“Fine, deal,” Alec replied, amused. He turned back to Lydia who had a small smile on her face. She looked rather wistful and slightly sad.
“What’s wrong?” Alec asked her.
“Oh, nothing,” Lydia replied, a professional smile sliding into place on her face. “I couldn’t help but notice you were wincing a little? If you guys wait for me to grab these cupcakes I could give you a hand back to the Institute?”
“That would be great, thank you,” Clary answered before Alec could even open his mouth. Lydia nodded at Clary before stepping under the awning and shutting her umbrella. She handed the umbrella over to Clary before stepping into the bakery.
“Does she seem off to you?” Alec asked Clary, his eyes following Lydia as she spoke to the girl behind the counter.
“I think you and her need to have a conversation when we get you back,” Clary answered. At Alec’s confused look she shot him a small smile before picking up the duffel. “Now that Lydia is here she can carry your heavy ass back to the Institute and I will carry the duffel and the umbrella. Thank god she showed up though, I am freezing.” At Clary’s words a shiver ran through her small frame and she hunched her shoulders.
“There’s another hoodie in the duffel if you want it?” Alec offered.
“Nah, I’m already cold and wet, might as well stick it out until I can sink into a warm bath,” Clary replied. She perked up when Lydia came out of the bakery and joined them. “I’ll take those,” Clary said, grabbing the cupcake box out of Lydia’s hands, “You need to help Alec. I cannot carry him anymore.”
Lydia chuckled under her breath and nodded at Clary. She shot Alec a smile before sliding her arm around his waist. “Come on Lightwood, let’s get you back.” Lydia and Clary shared a smile as Clary opened the umbrella and popped it over Alec’s head.
“Just for the record, I am not some damsel in distress, I don’t need your help,” Alec said determinedly.
“Okay princess, whatever you say,” Lydia chuckled.
Alec rolled his eyes as the three of them trudged through the bleak New York weather and back towards the Institute.
Alec didn’t usually allow himself to indulge in frivolous things, he was a soldier and soldiers didn’t require luxuries. However, at Clary and Isabelle’s insistence, Alec was currently immersed up to his neck in bubbles in the claw-foot tub in Isabelle’s private bathroom. How she’d gotten their parents to agree to this luxury was beyond Alec but he was not complaining.
Alec sunk deeper into the bubbles, his aches slowly melting out of his body. Isabelle had texted Magnus as soon as she’d clocked Alec limping but Magnus had reassured her that a little ache was normal.
Just as Alec was relaxing, the tension draining from his shoulders, the bathroom door opened. Alec’s eyes shot open and he was met with the sight of Jace shutting the bathroom door behind him before coming around the side of the tub and pulling a chair up beside Alec’s head.
“What the hell are you -,” Alec started, stopping when he saw Jace’s expression.
“I know you’re still mad at me, Alec, but I need to talk to you,” Jace said quietly, his voice honest and open.
“You couldn’t have waited until I was out of the bath and dry?” Alec asked sarcastically.
“This is the only place you couldn’t run away from me,” Jace replied, his mouth lifting up at the side in the approximation of a smile.
“Alright. What do you want to talk about?” Alec asked, his hands gripping the sides of the bathtub. Alec was just thankful Isabelle had been liberal with the bubbles.
“What I said to you when we fought… it wasn’t fair. I should never have thrown your feelings in your face like that,” Jace almost whispered, his eyes boring into Alec’s.
“I knew how you felt about me. I have known. I abused it sometimes, to get you to do things I knew you didn’t want to do. But when you took that dagger to your throat? I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest, I couldn’t breathe. Alec, I am so sorry if I have ever done anything to make you feel like you were unworthy of something. You’re my parabatai Alec, my brother. I cannot apologise to you enough for not being there for you,” Jace said quietly, his voice wavering slightly towards the ends.
Alec was stunned silent, his fingers slipping on the edge of the tub.
“Alec I promise you that I’ll do better. I’ll be better. I just need you to forgive me. Please,” Jace finished quietly.
“Can you get up please, and go stand at the door?” Alec asked quickly.
“Yeah sure,” Jace said quietly, his facial expression dropping. He got up from the chair and stood facing the door, his shoulders evidently tense underneath his t-shirt.
Alec stood quickly and hopped out of the bath, pulling on the boxers his sister had left and wrapping a towel around his waist. He walked quickly over to where Jace was standing and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Jace,” Alec said quietly, his hand slipping from Jace’s shoulder as he turned around. Jace’s face lit up and he threw his arms around Alec’s shoulders, one hand coming up to rest on Alec’s neck. Alec squeezed him once before pulling away with a cough.
“I forgive you. But only if you’ll forgive me too,” Alec said in a steady voice.
“Hey man, there’s nothing to forgive,” Jace said brightly, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Alec replied, his mouth quirking up at one side.
Jace slapped Alec on the shoulder before reaching for the door handle. “Come on, Izzy has made dinner – don’t worry, Lydia helped her almost every step of the way – and there is a kick ass tiramisu waiting for you downstairs. Go get dressed and join us.” Jace shot Alec a smile before he exited the bathroom, leaving Alec alone to drain the tub and go and dry off.
It turned out that when Isabelle had been overhauling Alec’s wardrobe she hadn’t stopped at his closet, oh no. When Alec returned to his room after dinner he’d found that his sister had replaced almost everything he owned clothing wise – his underwear, his t-shirts, jeans, formalwear, pyjamas, you name it. The only thing that hadn’t felt her wrath was his ‘sad sweater’, as she’d named it, and the black hoodie she’d appropriated from him before. Alec shoved a hand through his hair, sighing aloud, before rifling through his pyjama drawer to find something he wouldn’t actually mind wearing.
“God damn it Iz,” Alec muttered under his breath to himself. He’d just thrown a ludicrous pair of neon green basketball shorts into the corner of his room when there was a firm knock at his door. Muttering under his breath the whole way there Alec made his way to the door, opening it to find Lydia on the other side.
“Hey,” Alec said, surprise colouring his tone. He took a step back and gestured into his room for Lydia to enter.
“Hey,” Lydia replied quietly, taking Alec’s invitation and walking into his room to perch on the edge of his mattress. Alec’s eyes never left her as he closed the door, a feeling of apprehension washing over him.
“How are you feeling?” Lydia asked, her eyes meeting his for the first time.
“I feel better,” Alec nodded, moving across the room to sit next to her on the bed. “What’s up?”
“I have to tell you something and I think I know how you’re going to take it but I’m worried you’re not going to react the way I think you’re going to act and I’m a little bit scared,” Lydia rambled, her eyes on the floor in front of her.
“Okay, you’re rambling. Lydia, what’s going on? Are you okay?” Alec asked, his body curving around to stare at the side of Lydia’s face.
Lydia took a deep breath before nodding once and raising her eyes to Alec’s. “The Clave have offered me the Shanghai Institute. Apparently my running of the Institute here and the fact that I was rather harsh on Isabelle during her trial was enough to convince them that I don’t need to be married to run an Institute.” Lydia’s eyes reflected her fear – at this opportunity, at his reaction, Alec wasn’t sure – and she bit her lip.
“Lydia, that’s great,” Alec smiled at her.
“Really? Oh thank goodness,” Lydia smiled back, relief plain in her voice. She dropped her head back and all the tension drained from her shoulders.
“Were you worried I would be angry? I mean I can’t say I won’t be disappointed to see you go but I’m really happy for you,” Alec told her. She pulled her head back up and looked at him with something akin to surprise on her face.
“Honestly? I thought you’d be happy for me but angry considering I’m breaking our engagement at the same time,” Lydia said quietly, her eyes wide.
“I think we both know that it’s going to be a little bit of a relief not to have a wedding,” Alec joked, leaning back on his hands.
“Right,” Lydia laughed, “Plus this way you can ask out Magnus Bane.”
“What?” Alec asked surprised. Lydia looked over to him with exasperation on her face.
“Come on Alec. Did you think I couldn’t see it?” Lydia asked in disbelief.
“It can’t have been that obvious,” Alec argued, his face flaming lightly.
“Alec I think Isabelle is more attracted to me than you are,” Lydia joked, “Plus I saw the way you looked at Magnus when he was here for the trial. You might have everyone fooled into thinking you’re a robot but I like to think I know you better than that.”
“I’m not a robot,” Alec replied weakly.
“I know,” Lydia said gently, placing a hand on his knee. “You were literally about to marry a woman you barely knew just to save your family’s honour. I can see how much you care. If you give your future partner even half of what you give to your family then they will be a very lucky person.” Lydia’s smile was soft and gently, her eyes open and honest.
Alec didn’t know how to respond. He thought he’d been so careful in keeping his feeling locked down.
“I know you’re beating yourself up now because you think you’ve failed or something but your heart is what makes you strong, okay? Don’t lose that,” Lydia asserted, her golden hair falling down her back.
“You say that like you’re saying goodbye, like this is it,” Alec said quietly.
“It’s not goodbye. It’s just goodbye for now,” Lydia clarified. She pushed herself off Alec’s bed and smoothed down her skirt. Alec bolted off the bed to stand up next to her and she turned around to look up at him.
“I’m really sorry for everything that went down here Lydia.”
“Don’t be. You guys have been great – you know, minus the hate at the beginning, and the whole trial thing,” Lydia joked lightly, a smile spreading across her face. Alec mirrored her smile before she reached out and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He squeezed her back once before letting go. She smiled at him again before heading for the door.
Alec flopped back onto his bed again just as Lydia turned around on her heel sharply.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Yeah sure,” Alec answered, a confused expression on his face.
“If I hadn’t been offered Shanghai would you still have married me?” Lydia asked, her eyes narrowing slightly.
“I probably would have tried,” Alec answered quietly, “But I don’t think I would have been able to, I’m sorry.” Alec hung his head before looking up to catch Lydia’s gaze. There was a huge smile stretching across her features.
“Are you kidding? This means I get to leave guilt free. For what it’s worth, I’m really glad you picked your own happiness,” Lydia said, her voice calm and steady. She smiled at him once more leaving his room, shutting the door firmly behind her.
Alec flopped back on his bed, his eyes on the ceiling with his hands on his abdomen. He was about to push off the bed and restart his search for pyjamas when his phone began vibrating in his back pocket. He shimmied around and slid the phone out of his jeans, smiling slightly when he saw Magnus’ name.
“Hi,” Alec answered lightly, sitting up again on the edge of his bed.
“Hello, Alexander, how are you feeling? Isabelle called earlier and said you were experiencing some discomfort.” Magnus’ voice was light but there was a slight edge underneath it. He was trying very hard to conceal it but Alec managed to pick up on it.
“Yeah I was sore earlier but I feel okay now. Are you okay?” Alec asked, concern worming its way down his spine.
“Me? Yes of course, what would make you think otherwise?” Magnus answered Alec’s question with a question.
“You sound different,” Alec answered simply. He got up from his bed and began to pace the length of his room.
“Different? How so?” Magnus asked again, his voice becoming tenser.
“It’s difficult to explain. You just don’t sound like you. Are you sure everything’s okay?” Alec asked, the concern from earlier blossoming into full blown worry.
Magnus was quiet for a moment, just the sound of his breathing filtering through the phone, before he sighed out loud. “I may have had a small argument with one of my oldest friends today.”
“An argument? About what?” Alec asked, the worry being replaced with confusion.
“About you,” Magnus replied quickly.
“Me? Why were you arguing about me?” Alec asked back just as quickly, his face flaming even though Magnus couldn’t see him.
“Ragnor is convinced that you’re only going on a date with me because I healed you,” Magnus answered, his attempt at being nonchalant failing. Alec could hear the nerves in his voice, which didn’t make sense. He’s worth more than ten of you, how doesn’t he see that? Alec’s brain whispered.
“Well I mean that’s ridiculous, its, its, just, it’s, I mean, is that, is that what you think?” Alec stuttered out, his pacing coming to a stop as he clenched his empty fist by his side.
“No, of course not,” Magnus replied, an edge to his reply.
“You don’t sound very convinced,” Alec said quietly.
“I just want to assure you that if you did only agree to a date because you feel indebted to me then fear not, you don’t have to fulfil whatever sense of guilt you are feeling and you’re free from any obligation,” Magnus’ voice wavered towards the end but finished as cold as steel.
“Magnus..,” Alec’s voice trailed off. He took a steadying breath before continuing, “What are you doing tonight?”
“Its happy hour at Magnus’ Magnificent Cocktail Bar,” Magnus replied loftily, “I shall be indulging in some exquisite liquor whilst I stare out at the New York skyline.”
“Do you… have room for one more?” Alec asked. The apprehension was plain in his voice, his nerves overtaking him. He was glad he’d asked before he’d chickened out though.
“Magnus I didn’t ask you out because I felt like I had to. I did it because I wanted to,” Alec replied quickly, mimicking the words Magnus had said to him during their last conversation.
“Well in that case, I definitely have room for you,” Magnus said after a moment, amusement and relief colouring his tone.
“Well, great,” Alec replied. He wanted to say something witty like Isabelle or Jace did when they spoke to their dates but his mind was empty except for his many insecurities whispering back at him.
“Would you like me to conjure a portal for you or will you get a cab over?”
“I’ll… make my own way over,” Alec said nervously, rubbing a hand at the back of his neck.
“Okay, I will see you soon,” Magnus said, an upward lilt at the end of his sentence that transformed it into a question.
“I will see you soon,” Alec reaffirmed. He hung up his phone, running a hand through his hair, before a thought struck him. Alec quickly left his room and took the twenty or so extra paces to Isabelle’s room. The door was slightly ajar and Alec could see his sister lounging on her bed polishing a dagger.
Alec knocked quietly on her door before pushing his way into her room.
“Hey big brother, I would have thought you’d be cocooned in a nest of blankets by now,” Isabelle smiled. At Alec’s confused look she laughed under her breath. “There’s a pile of blankets under your bed now. It’s where guys usually keep their porn.”
“I am not talking about porn with my little sister,” Alec spluttered, his ears heating up.
She rolled over from where she was lying on her front, swinging her legs around so she was perched at the end of her bed. “What did you want to talk about?” Isabelle asked with a smile
“I need…” Alec trailed off, embarrassment overtaking him.
“What?” Isabelle asked, her head cocking to the side.
Alec took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I need fashion advice.” Once he’d said it Alec peeked out from behind one closed eyelid and saw a small smile spreading across Isabelle’s face.
“Can I ask why?”
“I… have a date with Magnus,” Alec said, opening his eyes fully. He’d crossed his arms over his chest in a defence mechanism so he let them drop back to his sides.
“You have a date? Oh my goodness, yes of course I’ll help you!” Isabelle answered, delight plain on her face. She jumped up from the bed and bounced over towards Alec. “I’m assuming you’re just doing his loft right?” Isabelle asked. At Alec’s nod of confirmation Isabelle grabbed his hand and towed him out of her room and over to his. She pushed him down to sit on his bed as she went over to his closet.
“By the way, what did you do with all of my clothes?” Alec asked. He wanted to fill the silence with something and since his sister was helping him with fashion he figured that was as good a conversation starter as any.
“I donated them to Goodwill,” Isabelle replied from her place in his closet.
“Didn’t you keep anything else? Also, my underwear?” Alec asked exasperated.
“Alec your boxers were ratty and ill-fitting. You’ve done not too badly recently, with the t-shirts and the denim shirts, but you’ve filled out since you last went shopping. You’re a knock out big bro, own it,” Isabelle replied as she finished rummaging around his closet. She handed him a complete outfit before flopping down on his bed. “Go, try them on,” Isabelle said when he made no move to get changed.
Alec sighed but did as she asked, draping the clothes she’d given him over the clothing partition Isabelle had installed in his room.
Alec stripped quickly and efficiently. His face did something complicated when he realised Isabelle had included underwear – those damn Calvin Kleins – but he simply sighed and pulled on the black boxers. Next up was a pair of very dark navy blue jeans, much tighter than he’d usually go for but she’d thrown out everything else so Alec guessed he’d better get used to them. She’d included a white t-shirt and a dark green sweater – forest, his mind supplied – but he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to pick one or put them both on together.
“You’ve stopped moving, I’m assuming it’s because you don’t know what to do with the t-shirt and sweater right?” Isabelle’s voice came floating towards him. At his silence she snorted quietly and continued, “Alec, I know you. I know you’re nervous and I figured you’d feel better with more than one layer on. Kind of like dating armour.”
A small smile came to Alec’s face at how well his sister knew him. He pulled on the t-shirt, very tight, and the over-sized green sweater before tugging on the black socks she’d given him. He ran a hand through his hair before coming back around the partition and facing his sister.
A soft smile spread across Isabelle’s face from where she was lounging on his bed. He held his hands out in a ‘here I am’ gesture and her smile only grew wider. “Alec you look great.”
Alec tugged the sleeves of the sweater down past his hands and nodded at her absentmindedly.
“Seriously?” Isabelle asked exasperatedly. She pushed herself off of his bed and came to stand in front of him. “You are literally about to go on a date with the High Warlock of Brooklyn, who, by the way, has made his attraction to you very clear, and you’re still nervous?”
“I don’t do this. I don’t date, I don’t date ever, let alone date -,”
“A man?” Isabelle asked, her voice suddenly softening.
Alec shrugged his shoulders as he shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’m not like you, or Jace, I don’t know how to be… smooth, or whatever, and Magnus is like, he’s like, four hundred years old, and I’m sure he’s gone on dates with people much more, ya know, than me, so I mean, I should just cancel right?” Throughout Alec’s rant Isabelle’s face had gotten sadder and his hand was flailing in that gesture he’d managed to pick up. He shoved his hand back into his pocket before sighing.
“Alec,” Isabelle said quietly, stepping further into his space so he’d have to look at her. “You are brave, and kind, and hot, and a catch, okay? You’re a Lightwood, we’re awesome.” Isabelle smiled up at him. “I have watched you slay demon after demon without stopping to be scared. What’s the worst that can happen on this date?”
“I don’t know, he could think I’m a stuttering mess of a person?” Alec replied nervously, shoving a hand through his hair again.
“Alexander Gideon Lightwood, stop. Magnus has met you multiple times now – come to think of it the first time you met him you were a stuttering mess of a person – and he only seems more enthralled every time he sees you,” Isabelle said knowingly. “I think he finds your shyness endearing.”
“Enthralled? Endearing? Great, so I’m like a puppy,” Alec said sarcastically, tilting his head back to stare at the ceiling.
“Stop that,” Isabelle laughed, her hands coming to rest on Alec’s shoulders. She shook him until he looked down at her again. “Alec you can do this. Go on your date and fall in love and get married and have tiny little warlock babies. It’s fate.” Isabelle shrugged one shoulder at him, her smile blinding.
“Yeah, okay,” Alec chuckled. He sighed again before rolling his eyes at his sister. He walked over to his closet and grabbed his boots, lacing them up, before grabbing his leather jacket from where it was draped over his closet door.
“Oh wait, cologne!” Isabelle exclaimed, running over to Alec’s dresser and pulling out the bottle she’d hidden away.
“Did you hide everything?” Alec asked, looking around his room in bewilderment.
“No, I tidied it dumbass. Now everything is in a place that makes sense,” Isabelle replied with derision. She spritzed him a few times all over before returning the bottle.
“Okay, guess I better… get going,” Alec said, a new wave of nerves washing over him.
“You’ll be fine big brother,” Isabelle reassured. “Now have you got everything, phone, stele, wallet?” At Alec’s nod of confirmation she nodded back. “Okay good, you getting a cab over?”
“I was just gonna take the subway,” Alec replied, the two of them heading for the hallway.
“Think of all the sweaty people on the subway Alec. Take a cab,” Isabelle asserted, her hand coming up to squeeze his shoulder. Alec nodded absentmindedly whilst blowing out a breath.
Alec smiled at her before heading down the hallway. He turned back around to see her leaning against her doorway with a soft smile on her face. She winked at him before making a shooing motion. “Go Alec, have fun.”
Alec smiled back at her before continuing through the labyrinth of the Institute, towards the front door, and towards Magnus.
Alec stood on the street in Brooklyn staring at the door to Magnus’ stairwell for a long while. His heart was racing so much that Alec was actually afraid he might pass out before he even made it into the building. Every time he raised his hand to the buzzer it shook and he pulled it back to his side and made a fist. Alec was contemplating turning on his heel and running all the way back to the Institute when his phone vibrated in his pocket.
MAGNUS BANE: Are you going to come upstairs? I promise I’m a lot nicer to look at than the door to my building.
Alec huffed out a laugh, a flush starting on his neck, and he rolled his neck up to look up towards Magnus’ window. A ‘buzz’ signified the opening of the door and with one last deep breath Alec pushed his way into the building. He took the stairs slowly, trying to calm his racing heart, and when he reached the top of the stairs Magnus’ door was already open and waiting for him.
“Hello?” Alec called into the apartment, shutting the door quietly behind him.
“Alexander,” Magnus all but purred from the living room, “Come on in.”
Alec took another quick deep breath before continuing into the apartment. He noted quickly that Magnus had redecorated again. Mahogany hardwood covered the expanse of the hallway leading into the living room. Where the walls had been a dark grey they were now a bright orange, one wall white in contrast. On the white wall sat a large fireplace, a fire crackling gently, and a tv hanging on the wall above it. The sofa was still the same plush black as before but instead of a three seater with two matching arm chairs it was now a corner sofa, deep and inviting. A dark mahogany coffee table sat in the middle of the living area atop a large white fluffy rug. Alec smiled slightly at the warm and cosy setting.
“Alexander,” Magnus repeated, this time his voice much lower and inviting. Alec’s eyes landed on where he was standing – beside his cocktail bar, of course. “Would you like a drink?”
“Yeah that would be nice,” Alec answered, his voice rough from disuse. He’d been standing at the bottom of the stairwell for longer than he’d care to admit. A thought struck him and he shirked his jacket, throwing it over the back of the sofa.
Magnus nodded at him, a small smile on his face, as he proceeded to mix up his concoction. Alec took the time to surreptitiously check Magnus out. Where Alec had gone for a sweater and jeans combo Magnus had definitely dressed up a little more for the occasion. His deep purple dress shirt was fitted and tapered perfectly, his small waist accentuated in the garment. He’d also opted for jeans but his were black, very tight, and left little to the imagination. A silver glittery belt held up the jeans matching the many bracelets and necklaces adorning Magnus’ body.
Magnus looked over his shoulder to glance at Alec who was standing rigid by the sofa clutching his hands in front of him. “Alec, please, have a seat. Or at least come in closer. I can’t imagine it’s very warm over there.”
Now that Magnus had mentioned it a chill ran through Alec, a shiver running up his spine. He came further into the living space, closer to Magnus, and could feel the warmth of the fire slowly starting to thaw him out. Magnus turned around and handed Alec a whiskey glass, the contents of which seemed to glow a fluorescent purple.
“This looks questionable,” Alec said, holding the glass up to the light and glaring at it suspiciously.
Magnus laughed lightly, his own drink a neon green. “I promise you there is nothing untoward. It’s simply fae liquor. Extremely hard to come by but worth it all the while.”
“Are you sure you want to waste it on me?” Alec asked pausing with the glass mere inches from his lips.
“There is absolutely nothing being wasted here Alexander. You deserve nice things and I like to think that I can at least give you a little taste of the decadence you deserve,” Magnus replied matter-of-factly. He took a sip from his own glass, his eyes never leaving Alec’s face.
Alec swallowed quickly before taking a sip of his drink. He furrowed his brow slightly at the taste but it was definitely better than the last one Magnus had made him.
“How are you feeling anyway? Less aches I hope?” Magnus asked, his question breaking the silence that had fallen between them.
“Yeah, yes, definitely,” Alec stuttered, “Isabelle forced me into a bubble bath when I eventually made it home.”
“Forced? A bubble bath is one of life’s simplest pleasures,” Magnus commented, amused. He looked over the rim of his glass at Alec, his gold rimmed eyes bright and focussed. He quirked his head to the side when a thought struck him. “Wait, ‘eventually made it home’?”
“Uh yeah, I kind of… got a little dizzy on the walk back. Clary and I had to stop at a bakery for a few minutes,” Alec told him. He took another long sip of his drink while Magnus’ face did something complicated before settling on distaste.
“Perhaps I should expel a little more healing magic on you if you’re still feeling unwell,” Magnus offered, already placing his glass down in preparation.
“No,” Alec said quickly. Magnus seemed startled at the ferocity in Alec’s voice, taking a step backwards. “Sorry,” Alec softened his voice. “It’s just, I’d like, I mean I want, I mean,” Alec stuttered out. Alec put his drink down beside Magnus’ in frustration, the liquid slopping over the side and down over his fingers.
“Alexander?” Magnus asked gently, stepping back towards Alec. His hand twitched by his side as if he wanted to reach out for Alec but thought better of it.
“I don’t want tonight to be about what you can do for me,” Alec said quickly. Magnus cocked an eyebrow at Alec to which Alec’s face flushed lightly. “I meant,” Alec asserted, “that I don’t want you to waste your magic on me tonight. I’m not here so you can… service me. I mean, I don’t want this to be… I don’t,” Alec trailed off, frustration plain on his face.
“I think I see where you’re coming from,” Magnus said lightly, a smile crossing his face. “If I may?” Magnus asked. Alec nodded, puzzled. “From what you’re saying, or trying to say anyway, is that you’d like tonight to just be about… us?”
Alec nodded, a pleased smile lighting up his face. He dropped his eyes to the floor before raising them back to lock his gaze with Magnus’ and cleared his throat. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to keep doing things for me. I’m not here because you’re useful, or whatever, I’m here because I… like you.”
At Alec’s confession a light flush started on Magnus’ face. Magnus smiled softly up at him before dropping his gaze to the floor.
“Shall we move to the couch?” Magnus gestured, his eyes coming back up to look at Alec bright and clear. “It’s much more comfortable for talking.”
Alec nodded, trailing after Magnus when the latter headed over to the sofa. They had both gotten settled, enough space for another person in between them, when Magnus clicked his fingers and a bottle of red wine with two wine glasses appeared on the table.
“I figured you’d enjoy something a little more… mundane than the fae liquor. Plus this red is absolutely divine,” Magnus informed Alec, his hand waving elegantly to uncork the wine. When Magnus leaned forward to pour them the wine a strip of skin above the waistband of his pants became visible and Alec found himself ogling that sliver of skin more than he would admit.
Alec’s eyes shot back to Magnus’ face when he turned around, their fingers grazing as Magnus handed him the glass of wine.
“To us,” Magnus said softly, raising his glass for Alec to clink in an echo of their first almost-date. Magnus had turned towards him, his left ankle tucked under his right knee, his entire focus on Alec.
Alec shot Magnus a small smile, their eyes meeting over the rims of their glasses. The first sip of wine was considerably better than the cocktails Magnus had made him, Alec’s eyebrows lifting quickly in surprise.
“Better?” Magnus asked, his lips already staining red from the wine.
“Better,” Alec confirmed. Now that they’d sat down Alec’s nerves hit him full force and he found himself tongue tied again with nothing to say. His heartbeat quickened and his palms began to sweat as another wave of anxiety overtook him.
“Don’t do that,” Magnus said so quietly Alec almost missed it.
“Do what?” Alec asked alarmed, his mind racing over everything he’d done to figure out what he’d done wrong.
“It’s this thing you do,” Magnus said, his eyes sad. “Your entire being seems to shut down. I don’t know if it’s a self-preservation thing, like you think I’m going to mock you or laugh at you, or if it’s something you’re so used to doing, shoving yourself into the background, that you don’t even realise you’re doing it anymore.”
Alec sat there stunned. Nobody usually looked at him long enough to catalogue something so huge about him. He honestly didn’t know how to respond, until Magnus sighed and looked like he was about to tell Alec to leave.
“You make me nervous,” Alec blurted, his heart hammering. Magnus looked straight into his eyes, his expression softening. “Nobody focuses their entire attention on me. Izzy yeah, Jace sure, but never me. And I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way, it’s just true.” Alec paused and took a large gulp of wine for courage. “But you. You focus solely on me and I’m not entirely sure what to think about that.”
“Alexander,” Magnus whispered, “It’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling. Just being in the moment. Don’t overthink this, my dear, just feel it.”
“I don’t think I know how to,” Alec whispered back, his eyes downcast.
“You don’t know how to feel?” Magnus asked quietly, his voice puzzled.
“I’m trained to be a soldier, I’m trained to think six steps ahead, I don’t ever get to just… be,” Alec replied just as quietly.
“You don’t have to be that here. You don’t have to be Alexander Lightwood: exceptional shadowhunter. Here you can just be Alec,” Magnus said imploringly, leaning forward as if to refute his point. He’d placed his wine glass on the coffee table and his now empty hand landed on Alec’s right knee.
“Okay,” Alec said softly, a small smile gracing his face. Alec’s eyes locked with Magnus’, the deep brown of Magnus’ eyes captivating like nothing else Alec had ever seen before. A shiver ran up Alec’s spine when Magnus smiled back.
“What do you want to do Alec?” Magnus asked gently, his eyes bright and sparkling.
Alec didn’t stop to hesitate. He had no choice after a question like that. It was like magnets, like two puzzle pieces coming together.
At the first press of his lips against Magnus’ Alec’s mind blanked out, his eyelids falling shut, his forehead leaning against Magnus’. Alec’s top lip rested on top of Magnus’, his lower lip caught in the middle. Magnus pressed back firmly, one of his hands coming to rest on the side of Alec’s neck as he kissed him back.
The kiss was messy, and uncoordinated, and unpractised, but it was everything Alec had.
Magnus pulled away first but he didn’t go very far. He kept his forehead leaning against Alec’s while the two of them breathed heavily against one another, their breaths mingling somewhere in the middle of the space between them.
Alec kept his eyes focussed on Magnus’ as he breathed, the brown of them lighting up when Alec moved in for another kiss. This one was hotter, faster, more forceful. At the first press of Magnus’ tongue against his lower lip Alec pressed forward, his right hand coming up to rest on Magnus’ shoulder and his left –
Dropped an entire glass of red wine down his front, the glass clattering to the floor but not shattering. At the feel of the red wine soaking through his sweater Alec jerked backwards, his eyes opening in alarm.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t mean that,” Alec rushed out, halfway off the couch already to attempt to soak up the wine.
“It’s okay, don’t even worry,” Magnus assured Alec with a hand on his shoulder. With a snap of his fingers the stain on Magnus’ floor disappeared entirely. Alec stared at the spot a little dazedly before falling backwards onto the couch with a small smile on his face.
“Would you like me to fix your sweater also?” Magnus asked, squeezing Alec’s shoulder.
“Yes, but actually…” Alec trailed off, biting his lower lip while a thought formed. Hesitation over, in one quick movement, Alec pulled his sweater over his head leaving him in just his white t-shirt – that had, thankfully, escaped the red wine fiasco. He held the sweater out to Magnus who had a surprised smile on his face. Magnus accepted the sweater from Alec and clicked his fingers again, the red wine disappearing entirely.
“Would you like to put this back on?” Magnus asked, his hand outstretched, offering the sweater back to Alec.
Alec smiled slowly before grabbing the sweater and tossing in the direction of his jacket before leaning in towards Magnus again. Magnus’ eyes lit up with delight and he met Alec in the middle, their mouths coming together again. Alec twisted around, tucking his right ankle under his left leg, mirroring Magnus. His left hand landed on Magnus’ shoulder, his fingers gripping the material, while his right landed on Magnus’ knee.
Alec moaned quietly into Magnus’ mouth at the feel of Magnus’ hands on his neck. One hand landed above the rune on Alec’s neck while the other trailed upwards towards Alec’s jaw, tilting his head with a thumb under his chin.
Magnus bit down on Alec’s lower lip before soothing the sting with his tongue. Magnus swiped his tongue over the area once, twice, before Alec opened his mouth and their tongues met finally.
Kissing Magnus, for Alec, felt a lot like dancing – the two of them coming together, moving together, melting into one another. This single act, this single kiss, was the most intimate thing Alec had ever experienced.
The two of them kissed for what felt like hours but really couldn’t have been any more than a few minutes, Magnus’ hands alternating between Alec’s shoulders and twining his fingers in Alec’s hair. Magnus had just slid his hand up into Alec’s hair again, his fingers tugging lightly at the roots. Alec’s hand flexed uncontrollably where it was lying on Magnus’ knee, his fingers itching to slide further up but something in his mind stopped him. Magnus pulled away slowly, resting his forehead on Alec’s shoulder.
Alec kept his eyes closed, afraid he’d open them and the moment would be over. Alec could feel when Magnus pulled further away, the space he’d been occupying suddenly empty and cold.
“I’m sorry, I needed a minute to breathe,” Magnus said softly. Alec opened his eyes slowly and found Magnus staring at him with the most intense expression he’d ever seen. He smiled softly at Magnus, his entire body feeling like a livewire.
“Can I… ask you a question?” Magnus implored.
“Yeah, of course,” Alec said lightly, his smile still in place.
“Was that your first kiss?” Magnus asked quietly.
Alec’s smile dropped off his face and he averted his eyes to the sofa. “That bad, huh?” Alec joked stiltedly. He stared at the point where his hand was on Magnus’ knee and made to withdraw it. A hand around his wrist stopped that action quickly though.
“No Alec, not at all. It was wonderful, you were wonderful,” Magnus asserted, his thumb caressing the bone protruding from Alec’s wrist softly. “I was afraid I had pushed you too much. I should have made it more special for you.”
“Are you kidding?” Alec asked surprised. He lifted his eyes to gaze at Magnus, his skin tingling at every point of contact between the two. “This entire evening has been… magical. Pardon the pun.” Magnus smirked lightly at the joke, the two of them just gazing at other, smiling like idiots.
Magnus jerked lightly, as if he’d been electrocuted, before he moved further away from Alec. “Would you like another glass of wine? We may as well finish what you didn’t spill.” Magnus shot a smile at Alec to reassure him he’d been joking before conjuring another glass into existence and pouring Alec another glass of wine.
Alec accepted the wine, taking a small sip, and watched as Magnus downed what was in his glass before pouring himself another. Magnus took a very large sip of that glass before sliding backwards on the sofa again. “Magnus are you okay?” Alec asked. Magnus’ jittery actions were making Alec worry. “Do you… want me to go?”
“No! No, of course not,” Magnus asserted, turning his body so he was again facing Alec.
“Then are you okay?” Alec asked again, his body tensing as if bracing for impact.
“I’m fine,” Magnus said quietly. At Alec’s look of apprehension Magnus sighed before taking another sip of wine and placing the glass on the coffee table.
“Magnus seriously, is everything okay? Are you sure you don’t want me to go, because I’ll go, I’ll, I’ll leave if that’s what -,”
“I want you, Alec,” Magnus said simply. Alec’s jaw dropped open and all the air rushed out from his lungs.
“That’s what you’re worried about?” Alec asked incredulously.
“No, Alec, I want you,” Magnus emphasised, “I want you, more than I’ve wanted anyone in a long while. And I don’t want to push you because I also like you. This isn’t a situation I’m used to being in and I’m… a little nervous I’m going to scare you off.”
“You’re not scaring me off,” Alec assured, shuffling closer to Magnus on the sofa.
“Your entire body is tense, like you’re about to run off. When we were kissing your hand was like a fist, like you were ready for a fight. You haven’t even taken your shoes off. It’s like you’re ready to just take your hands off me and disappear,” Magnus said softly, “The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable.”
“Magnus I’m tense because I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to make you feel like I feel but I don’t know how to,” Alec explained. By the time Alec had finished speaking his face was bright red, his left hand clutching the stem of his wine glass so hard he was afraid it would snap. “But if you’re saying what I think you’re saying then… I think maybe we were right to stop. To talk, I mean.”
“So… wait I don’t understand, what do you mean?” Magnus asked, his eyes narrowed in confusion.
“I… am not ready to have sex yet,” Alec said quietly, his eyes downcast and focussed on his wine glass. “I like kissing you, and I’d like to do more than that, but I think that’s all I’m comfortable with just now.” Alec lifted his eyes hesitantly and was surprised to see a smile on Magnus’ face. “What?”
“Nothing, Alexander, it’s just… A few days ago you couldn’t even articulate your feelings, you were engaged to be married to a woman, I was almost certain I would never have the pleasure of dating you, and now? You’re sitting on my couch telling me exactly what you do and don’t want,” Magnus said softly. “You’re truly remarkable.”
Alec blushed again, the flush starting at his neck and proceeding up towards his ears. He cleared his throat and placed his glass on the coffee table again. Alec leaned forward and unlaced his boots quickly and efficiently. Alec would do anything to make Magnus feel as comfortable as he was attempting to make Alec. He straightened up after he’d kicked his shoes off and turned back to Magnus. A small smile was planted firmly on Magnus’ face and Alec wanted nothing more than to kiss it. “Would it be okay if I kissed you again?”
“Absolutely,” Magnus answered. “Don’t feel like you have to keep your hands to yourself though. I know you’re not ready to go further, and to be honest I don’t think I am either, but that doesn’t mean you can’t touch me. It just means that if anything gets too out of hand or one of us feels uncomfortable then we speak up, okay?”
“Okay,” Alec whispered. They’d moved unconsciously to mirror each other again, Alec’s right knee resting against Magnus’ left on the sofa. He smiled, already leaning towards Magnus. Alec slid his left hand around Magnus’ neck, his fingers resting at the base of his hair, whilst his right hand landed on Magnus’ knee again.
Magnus’ lips were just as soft as before, this kiss starting slow and gentle. Magnus had one hand resting on Alec’s waist, just above the waistband of his jeans, and the other hand slid over Alec’s shoulder.
Alec found himself sinking into this kiss. It was so exciting, like trying something new, but at the same time it felt inherently familiar, like coming home. He opened his mouth quicker this time, Magnus’ tongue making all coherent thought fly out of the window.
Magnus’ hand flexed at Alec’s waist, his fingers sliding up to span Alec’s ribs. Alec felt his breath hitch at the intimate sensation and in retaliation he slid his hand further up Magnus’ leg, leaning further into Magnus as he did so. Magnus moaned quietly into Alec’s mouth, the sound setting Alec’s every nerve on fire.
Alec surged up towards Magnus, his excitement causing him to send Magnus sprawling backwards onto his back on the couch. Alec’s hands landed on either side of Magnus’ waist and he pulled away from the kiss, his cheeks flushing lightly at how eager he must look.
“Well I can’t say I object to this turn of events,” Magnus said breathlessly. He was looking up at Alec with something that resembled awe on his face. Magnus lifted one hand to trace along Alec’s hairline and down the side of his face, his hand stopping just under Alec’s jaw.
To Alec it felt like Magnus was leaving sparks in his wake. His entire being was tingling. Alec hesitantly settled himself in the V of Magnus’ legs, careful to not align their hips too much. Magnus continued his exploration of Alec’s face, his fingers trailing along Alec’s cheekbones, his fingertips catching on the skin of Alec’s bottom lip. Alec felt his breath hitch again as he stared into Magnus’ eyes.
“Is this okay?” Alec asked quietly into the small space left between them. Magnus nodded, just a small movement of his head, before he trailed his hand back around to the back of Alec’s head and brought their mouths back together again. It was so much better this way, Alec thought, because now he could actually sink into Magnus. The warmth of Magnus leeching out into Alec, the warm skin under Alec’s hands, the thrum of Magnus’ heartbeat against Alec’s chest, it all meant something.
Magnus bit down gently on Alec’s lower lip again before sliding his tongue against Alec’s. They lay there for minutes, hours, Alec’s lips going deliciously red and kiss-swollen. The two of them were both painfully hard in their jeans but neither of them made any move to get up, happy to suffer if it felt like this.
Alec pulled away to trail his lips down Magnus’ jaw, kissing just under his ear, when he felt Magnus let out a yawn. Alec pulled back from his spot to smirk down at Magnus’s sheepish expression.
“I’m sorry, am I boring you?” Alec asked jokingly.
“I apologise,” Magnus said quietly, “I didn’t really sleep much after healing you, too anxious you would wake up on your own, and I didn’t sleep today due to Ragnor’s visit. I promise I am very much not bored.”
“I was kidding anyway,” Alec murmured. He used his hands, where they were still planted on the couch beside Magnus’ waist, and pushed up so his arms were extended and he was hovering over Magnus. Cold air snuck into the now empty space between them and Alec let out an involuntary shiver as he scooted into a sitting position. Magnus shuffled backwards so he was leaning against the arm of the sofa, one arm thrown casually behind his head, and he made the perfect picture of relaxed decadence.
Magnus watched with hooded eyes as Alec slid his phone out of his back pocket, the display reading 3:36am, and he smiled softly as Alec’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“I had no idea it was so late,” Alec said in disbelief. He swiped his phone open and quickly fired off a quick text to Isabelle in reply to the ‘?????’ she’d sent him an hour earlier.
“Well you’re welcome to stay here this evening,” Magnus offered softly. Alec turned to glance at him, his cheekbones flushing a light pink.
“Just to sleep,” Magnus clarified, “But I will not be offended if you want to go home.”
“I probably will go, if that’s okay,” Alec wondered, his uncertainty making the statement a question.
“Of course Alexander,” Magnus assured. He swung his legs across the sofa so his feet were flat against the floor and he was sitting up. Alec could feel Magnus’ eyes on him as he laced up his boots and pulled his sweater back on. He took his time straightening up after catching a glimpse of himself in a mirror and seeing just how wrecked he looked. Plus he didn’t entirely want to leave.
Magnus stood gracefully from the couch and collected their glasses and bottle of wine from the coffee table and making them disappear with a wave of his hand. He came to stand behind Alec as Alec attempted to fix his hair. Magnus placed a hand on Alec’s shoulder spinning him around and he ran his fingers through Alec’s hair, straightening it in a move that felt so intimate and caring that a shiver ran down Alec’s spine.
“There, you look much less like you’ve spent the last few hours making out with me on my couch,” Magnus joked softly. He made to take his hand away but Alec grabbed it on the journey down. Magnus gifted Alec’s bravery with a bright smile, his entire face lighting up with delight.
“When can I see you again?” Alec asked eagerly, a little breathless.
“There’s always Friday?” Magnus reminded, “But I’m hoping we can make this a regular thing?”
“Exactly like dating Alexander,” Magnus confirmed with a quick swipe of his thumb over the back of Alec’s hand.
“I’d like that,” Alec blushed, his fingers tightening around Magnus’.
“Good,” Magnus asserted. “Now grab your jacket, would you like a portal back to the Institute?”
“Yes please.” Alec let go of Magnus’ hand slowly, turning around to grab his jacket. He shrugged it on while Magnus waved his hands over the mirror, a portal springing up in its place. Alec bit his lip as he approached the portal and Magnus, his entire body still tingling.
Magnus pulled Alec in by the elbow, his eyes flicking down to Alec’s lips before kissing him lightly. “I certainly hope that isn’t the last goodbye kiss I ever get,” Magnus said as he pulled away.
“Don’t think of it as goodbye, think of it as goodnight,” Alec corrected shyly. He moved out of Magnus’ space and towards the portal.
“I’ll see you on Friday Alexander,” Magnus said behind him softly.
“See you Friday,” Alec confirmed before stepping through the portal. It brought him into the hallway outside his and Isabelle’s rooms and closed quietly behind him.
Alec felt suddenly bereft now that he was home. But he comforted himself with the idea that that was not the last night Alec would ever spend with Magnus. And with that final thought Alec smiled before pushing himself into his room, happier than he had been in a long time.