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The Anatomy of Destiny

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Friday night is bowling night for the Lightwood siblings. Ever since Alec turned 16 and he got his driver's license, he and his siblings - Jace (their adoptive brother), Izzy, and Max (when he was old enough) - would go to the bowling alley almost every Friday night. When Alec took a gap year after graduating high school to travel overseas, stopping bowling night was inevitable. But the moment he got back, it had to be reinstated. They took another break when he started college but with conditions. His siblings cornered him and made him swear on his favourite tattered hoodie that bowling night continues even if he was now a grown up and swamped with college stuff.

Alec really didn't need much persuading, but he found it cute that his siblings went through all that effort. He was surprised they gave him a full 3 weeks to adjust to his life in college before resuming the attacks. The incessant texts and calls of "Come pick us up!" and "We want to go bowling!" had started to come in not long after.

And so here they were again, on his second year of college, at the bowling alley one Friday night.

They went to their usual bowling alley which thankfully was reasonably close to his apartment and near the university. His parents have agreed to let his siblings stay at his place for the weekend, if Alec promised to return his younger siblings on Saturday night so they have time to do their homework.

"Alec, come on. Hurry up!" his 10-year old brother, Max, was practically jumping with excitement, pulling on the sleeve of Alec's black (almost grey from fading) sweater.

"Max, if you pull any harder, that sweater will tear apart." Izzy says with a laugh. She and Jace high-fived each other. It started off as a joke, them teasing Alec about his raggedy sweaters. Until a certain incident five years ago, when they were playing wrestling in the living room. Izzy, Max and Jace were clinging to him and his holey sweater ripped beyond repair.

Alec rolled his eyes. His lack of fashion sense (as his sister puts it) and love for hoodies and sweaters until they're faded and tattered with holes has always been the butt of jokes among his siblings. At least Jace and Izzy, anyway. They both considered themselves to be stylish, or at least took a lot of care in how they looked.  He could care less about things like clothes, or appearance. Not like he couldn’t afford new clothes. As long as he looked presentable and hygienic, he was fine with it. Alec just wants to be comfortable. And that's what his fading, tattered sweaters were, comfortable.

"Ha ha. Funny," Alec responded with sarcasm. "Say another and I won't pay for your bowling fees or your food."

Izzy and Jace promptly shut up. Alec rolled his eyes as he turned to face the attendant.

“Hello. Welcome back,” the attendant greeted him. “The usual lane?”

Alec nods. "And can we have ..."

"Four!"

"Ten!"

His siblings shouted from the back.

"One game, please," Alec emphasised the ‘one’, amikng sure his siblings heard while ignoring their protests. "You know how they get competitive. We'll probably add more later."

The attendant laughed and took the payment from Alec. The Lightwoods were regulars. They practically had a designated lane, bowling balls and footwear reserved just for them. Unofficially, of course.

The siblings took their bowling shoes and proceeded to their seats at the rightmost lane.

"Alec, can I be on your team, tonight?" Max asks as he looks for the appropriate ball. Alec on the seat still putting his shoes on.

"What? No way!" Izzy protests, standing up and joining Max. "You were on his team last time. It's my turn."

"No," Jace butts in. "I remember you two being on his team last time. So it's my turn."

This happened all the time since they found out Alec was the best bowler. The younger siblings would argue over who would be on Alec's team. Plus, Alec was their "big brother" with Jace and Izzy being 5 years younger. The younger Lightwoods all looked up to him and loved him as the eldest Lightwood pretty much raised them while their parents were busy working. There was always some kind of competition for his attention. Bowling was the epitome of it. They usually played the bowling games two on two to make it fair for Max (and Izzy but no one wants to tell her that). And whoever was on Alec's team, won. Most of the time.

There was a game a year ago of which no one likes to speak of and everyone claimed someone else may have won on a technicality, but no one was really happy with the results. Let's just say there was a mix up and a power outage, possible disappearance of a ball and a claim of a computer glitch in scores. No one knew exactly what happened. There was silence in the Lightwood house for a week. Their parents, Robert and Maryse, nearly called in counsellors.

Alec watched in amusement as his siblings tried to figure out who goes on which teams. This is one of the things he's missed since he moved out of the house. He knew this could take a while so he looked around the bowling alley at the other people. There weren't many but then again it was only 7pm on a Friday.

Two lanes up from their booth was a family of four with two young kids and their parents. Next to them were two girls and two guys, probably on a double date. And on the other side of the room, were a group. Mostly guys he had seen around campus so they were likely students like him. There was one girl in the group, she had light blond hair. That's all that Alec really barely registered. He didn't care about the others. Because sitting in that group was him - the most beautiful guy he had ever seen. He first saw him around nine months ago while Alec was sitting on the steps of his college building. He's been crushing on him since but never really got a chance or ever gathered up the confidence to do something about it.  

Alec didn't know his name. Just that the man had classes in the science building, across from the Business School where Alec’s classes were. Alec figured the guy must be doing something science-y. Although, he looked far from science-y, if there was such a look. Alec's best friend Aline had jokingly dubbed him "Sparkles" when they noticed he wore a lot of colourful clothes, make up, and glitter. The last part was according to Aline. Alec has never had the chance to be up close to notice details like that. Alec just called him a beautiful enigma in his head.     

The man was of Asian descent, Alec could tell that much, but not entirely sure from which part. Asia is a big continent. He had soft, smooth tanned skin. Alec has decided that it's probably soft and smooth despite never having touched it or be near it. He was almost a head shorter than Alec - of which, Alec was always at least a head taller than anyone anyway. His dark hair was gelled up in spikes but the front always seems to curl down to his forehead in the most perfect way. Alec noticed that the tips of his hair seemed to change colour almost every week or whatever colour his top was for the day. He usually wore tight skinny jeans that emphasised the shape of his perfect ass, and a plethora of silk, stylish shirts, some of which are quite revealing. Not in a slutty sort of way, but in an elegant one. Oh and the make-up. Alec has never had opinion on make-up, especially on guys. But on this man. Oh dear, on this man, it was beautiful.

Not that he wouldn't be beautiful without his make-up. Alec thought. He was certain this man was beautiful in any which way, eyeliner or not.

Alec was sure he had a stupid smile on his face now. Who would have thought his crush would be at the same bowling alley on this Friday night?

The man laughed loudly at something his friend said, Alec couldn't really see which one. His laugh sounded heavenly. Yes, there was music playing in the background, and it was quite loud but when it came to this guy, Alec had bionic ears. And bionic eyes now apparently, because he noticed the guy's laugh reached his eyes. Alec found himself smiling again as he watched the man interact with his group.

"Nooooooooo!!!" Jace's agonising scream, hands pulling at his blond hair, snaps Alec out from his trance. It was a good thing, too. He could swear he was staring too long it was turning creepy. He got up and went closer to his siblings. After a round of rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock - probably Max's idea - Jace was out of the running for becoming Alec's teammate. It was down to Izzy and Max. Oh yes bowling night, where they spend the first 20 minutes just playing rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock to determine teams.

Neither Izzy nor Max were winning. And it was to the best of three. This could take all night. Alec intervened. "Right. This is enough. We can buy more games later. You all get a turn to be my teammate."

"Yes!" All three shouted. First it was Alec and Max vs Izzy and Jace. They would then rotate. And the competition begins.

Whenever Alec had a chance to sit down, he would sneak a glance to the other side of the room to watch what his crush was up to. Alec has yet to see him actually bowl tonight. He didn't seem to be playing but was just hanging out. One of the guys in the group - the tall, slender one with blond hair – kept attempting to get close to his crush. Alec couldn't blame him for doing that, although he wasn't going to deny he wasn’t a bit jealous. He would love to be the one flirting with the beautiful man. Not that he knew how to flirt.

Alec forced himself to look away after catching himself staring again. He had to be careful that his siblings don't notice or else he'll get teased. Or worse, knowing his younger siblings, they'll definitely go up to the guy and tell him about Alec crushing on him. Hard. Alec was not ready to die of embarrassment just yet.

After the third game, true enough, each younger Lightwood sibling had a win and they all seemed satisfied. They all sat down to rest.

"Can we have one more game?" Max piped up not long after. Izzy and Jace agreed. They all looked at Alec with pleading eyes.

"We'll be back to the problem of figuring out who plays on my team, you dorks." Alec answered, ignoring his siblings' puppy dog eyes.

"Idea!" Izzy jumped up. "All three of us, against you."

"I like it!" Jace and Max jumped in. "With all our powers combined..."

"What? You'll form Captain Planet?" Alec mocked his brother.

Jace pointed at him. "We'll crush you."

Alec laughed and rolled his eyes. "Challenge accepted. One more game. Let's just take a break for a moment. I need a drink."

"Ooh, buy me a coke, please. Diet," That was Izzy.

"Mountain Dew and some fries," That was Jace.

"Regular coke and a hotdog," That was Max.

Alec rolled his eyes again and walked away before they thought of anything else.

************

Alec went up to the snack bar and placed their order including the additional game.

"That'll be a 5 minute or so wait on the hotdog and the fries," the girl at the counter said. Alec nodded and stepped aside. He decided to read some of the flyers on the side of the counter not noticing who walked up next to him until he heard the voice.

"Can I have 3 sodas, one raspberry vodka and 3 beers please?" said the voice. Alec looked up and saw the enigma standing right beside him. He glanced down at the other man's hand which was resting on the counter. He had purple nail polish which matched his silk shirt and the tips of his hair. He had several rings on his fingers. Who wears that many rings while playing bowling? Alec thought. Not that he really cared. He thought this man’s hands were perfect. And he would love to hold this hand, rings or not.

Just as Alec looked up at his face, they made eye contact.

The guy smiled. Alec's heart stopped and his brain was malfunctioning. Oh God, he's even more beautiful up close. Somehow Alec was able to smile back without passing out. He wasn't sure if he was blushing. It didn't feel like it so he must have been ok. (He was blushing.)

"Are you having a good night?" The Asian man asked.

He asked you a question, you idiot. Alec's brain prompted him. "Yes. Yes, I am," he managed to say with composure. He was thankful he didn't stutter. That's it, Alec. Use single-word combinations. Makes you sound stoic and cool. And they're easier to say.

"And you?" Alec asked. He couldn't believe he was making small talk with this beautiful man. And he's not stuttering, or blushing. (He was definitely blushing.)

The other man nodded while fiddling with the ear cuff on his right ear. Neither of them made eye contact. Each one looking away while the other's gaze lingered, stealing glances from each other.

"Are they your siblings?" The other man asked, using his thumb to point towards Izzy, Jace and Max.

"Yeah." Alec confirmed. "They are. Who are you here with?" Alec really was sticking to the single-syllable words. He hated himself for not asking a more interesting question. Where was all that vocabulary he learned from reading all those books and novels?

"Oh, I'm here with..." the guy never got to finish as the waitress called Alec's attention and gave him his order. Alec picked them up, easily holding the drinks on one side (with some help from his arms) and the food on the other. He didn't want to be rude so he returned his attention to the other man to at least let him finish what he was saying. Of course, that was the reason. Not because he really did not want to leave and wanted to talk longer. Maybe get his number.

"Anyway, yes, I'm here with..." His crush continued. A body suddenly obstructed Alec's view, noticing that this hindrance also had his arm around the guy’s shoulder. Alec felt slightly envious.

"Hey, babycakes. Where are the drinks?" the newcomer said. It was another man from their group. He was definitely a lot older than everyone in the pack. He had dark brown hair and sounded British. "Oh pardon me that was bloody rude." He apologized when he noticed he'd butt into Alec's and his friend's conversation.

Alec made an attempt to wave it off to gesture it was okay but he couldn't stop frowning. "No it's fine. Enjoy your night." And he left.

Babycakes? Alec thought and cringed a bit at the term of endearment the older man used. Just his luck. His crush was taken and here on a group date with his boyfriend. Of course, he's taken. A beautiful man like that doesn't stay in the market for long. Alec shook himself out of his thoughts before he started to go on a downward spiral. He instead decided to focus on his siblings and the game.

"Right, losers. Let's get ready to rumble."

************

Magnus watched helplessly as the tall, handsome man with the gorgeous hazel eyes, walked away back to his siblings. They were starting a conversation, and having a moment. Magnus felt like they were having a moment. Or at least starting to. And then his friend happened. He glared daggers at Ragnor, his lips pursed.

"What?" his friend asked, oblivious to what he just interrupted, arm still around Magnus' shoulder.

"You idiot!" Magnus elbowed Ragnor hard on the ribs. He huffed and walked back to their seat, leaving his friend confused (the clueless son of a bitch) and in pain (good!). 

Magnus plopped down on the seat next to his other friend Catarina, crossing his arms in the process.

"What happened?" she asked, flicking her blond hair off her shoulders as she moved closer to him.

"Ragnor happened." Magnus was clearly annoyed. Speak of the devil, Ragnor joined them sitting on Magnus' other side.

"Hey, mate. Sorry. What was that about? What did I do?" he said.

Magnus just looked at him incredulously. "Really? Are you serious?"

"You cockblocked him with tall, pale and grungy over there." Catarina added, using her chin to indicate to Alec's general direction.

Ragnor's eyes went wide in shock. "Oh dear. That was him? That was the fallen Angel?" He looked over to Alec and then back at his friend. "Magnus, I am so sorry, mate. I didn't know he was still in the prospect list."

Magnus threw both hands up, shaking his head in disbelief and looked to Catarina for help.

"Seriously? Where have you been for the past 6 months since he saw him jogging around campus?" Catarina said hitting Ragnor at the back of the head. "He's all Magnus has been talking, correction, gushing, gushing about."

"I was not gushing,” Magnus protested. “I was just appreciating the ethereal beauty that is this Adonis.”

"Yes. Yes you were. Still are." She took a deep breath and clasped both hands together.

"Oh Catarina, he's so hot. Did you see his face? And you should have seen his abs. He looks like an angel sent from heaven." Catarina said with her best imitation of Magnus.

"And his arms. Oh my God his arms. And his chest. He's muscular but not too muscular." Ragnor now joined with the playful mocking.

"And he's so tall. I wanna climb him like a tree."

And then both Magnus' friends together, "And his hair, and his smile. Oh his smile that just melts you..."

"Oh he's gonna add 'his eyes' to that one now," Ragnor interjected. Magnus looked at him. "Yeah I know you saw his eyes. I saw them, too. His beautiful hazel eyes."

Magnus smiled and sunk lower down his seat, lips pursed at his friends' teasing, his blush reaching his ears. They weren't lying though. Magnus has had a huge crush on this boy for a while now. It wasn't just because he was beautiful, physically. But Magnus sensed this air about him that he was nice, caring and responsible, with the times he has seen the man with his friends around campus. And now seeing him again tonight, confirmed it all the more. What college boy chooses to spend his Friday night with his siblings than out in town getting drunk with his friends?

"But, didn't you arrive to the conclusion that he was straight coz he's possibly with that tiny Asian girl or the blond-haired GI Jane?" Ragnor asked.

"No, no." Catarina answered. "We saw that little Asian girl with her girlfriend that other time so she's definitely out. Maybe GI Jane, but we're not sure."

Ragnor nodded, finally caught up with his friend's love life. "So, why don't you just go over there and ask for his number?"

Magnus sighed watching the events at lane ten. The little boy's hands were wrapped around his brother's waist, the girl jumped up on his back hands around his neck, and the blond boy covering his eyes. All while Magnus’ “Angel” was trying to throw the bowling ball into the lane. Magnus watched as he let go of the ball. He followed their eye line, curious as to where the ball was going. It got close to the pins but suddenly veered to the right and into the gutter. The girl and the two boys all cheered while the oldest brother just threw his hands up but still had a smile on his face.

"Magnus?" Catarina snapped him out of his trance.

"No. It's ok." he answered. "The moment's passed. Plus he seems to be having fun with his siblings."

Catarina squeezed his shoulder then gave him a kiss on the forehead. “There’ll be a next time.”

Magnus just nodded. And hoped.

A few minutes later, the brothers and sister packed up. Magnus watched as they left, wondering if he was going to get an opportunity like that again. Or if that was it. And his opportune moment has gone. He didn't even get to find out the guy's name.

Chapter Text

It was two weeks after the night at the bowling alley. Magnus has seen his Angel once or twice on campus but has not really gotten a chance to talk to him again. He was slowly accepting that perhaps it really was just a moment and that he was never going to get another. He focused on his studies instead. After five straight days of only going to class, home or the library to study, or go to work, Catarina had convinced him to meet up. She has just started working as a nurse at the adjoining University Hospital and has not had much free time lately. She had a day off from her shifts in the middle of the week and wanted to do brunch. Magnus had a gap between classes and decided it was time for a break from studying. She suggested they meet up at a café close to the hospital and the university.

"Magnus, over here," Magnus saw Catarina wave at him from the table near the window, close to the entrance. He gave her one kiss on each cheek then sat on the chair across the table facing towards the inside of the cafe.

"Hey. How are you?" he said putting his bag to the side near the wall.

"I slept like a log since getting home last night from my shift. I feel great. You?" she answered.

“I’m doing alright. Study and work as usual.” Magnus shrugged then looked around. "This is a nice place. I didn't know it was even here."

"Yeah. I never knew about this place either until the senior nurses took us out here for lunch to welcome me to the department," she pushed the menu towards him. "Now come on. Hurry up and choose. I already know what I want."

Magnus took it from her and proceeded to browse through it. Albeit suspicious that she was hurrying him up. Maybe she was really hungry. "What would you recommend?" He asked eyes focused on the list of food.

"I've only ever had the eggs benedict so I'm going with that again. It was heaven in my mouth," Catarina suggested. "But the other nurses said the French toast is new on the menu and apparently ‘it's yum.’ Their words, not mine."

"Hmmmm..." Magnus bit the inside of his lip as he decided. "Right, do you want to get one of each and we go halvsies?"

Catarina nodded. "Awesome idea. Ooh and side of bacon."

"Obviously." He looked at her a bit confused when he saw her facial expression.

Catarina was looking at him with a knowing grin. "We have to order at the counter. And I think you're gonna want to do this."

"What are -" he trailed off as he recognized who was at the till. It was his angel from the bowling alley. "Oh..."

Catarina smiled and winked at him. "You're welcome."

Magnus got up from his chair and fixed his jacket, vaguely hearing Catarina say she also wanted a trim soy latte, as he walked towards the counter. I can do this. Opportune moment, do not waste it, Magnus. Thank goodness there is no Ragnor around to ruin it.

He took a big breath in and let go before placing both hands on the counter. "Hello again."

The man’s face perked up as he smiled at Magnus. “Hey.”

Magnus, trying not to melt, smiled back. "You remember me?"

Magnus got a nod from the guy. "You're kind of hard to forget. Coz you look, um, nice."

Magnus' eyes brighten at the compliment. "Are you saying you've looked at me?"

The only response he got was the guy going beet red. It only gave Magnus more confidence.

"I didn't know you worked here," Magnus said.

"Yeah," the guy nodded. "It’s a nice place. And I’m not just saying that coz I work here."

"Had I known, I would have become a regular here sooner." Magnus winked at him. He found it adorable when the guy let out a shy chuckle, then ruffled the hair at the back of his head. Magnus noticed the tips of his ears were red just like at the bowling alley.

The taller man took the pen from behind his ear and licked his lower lip, "What would you like today?"

"Fine. Straight to business." Magnus looked at him coyly then proceeded to tell him their order, adding a skim double-shot hazelnut latte for himself.

The man wrote down their orders on a piece of paper before looking up at Magnus. "Anything else?"

"Yes. Actually. Maybe I could get your number?" Magnus asked with his best flirty smile.

There was no response. Magnus kept his eyes fixed on the guy, hoping. The guy looked at him, the edge of his eyes narrowing slightly, then looked to the side, picked up an order number and handed it to Magnus.

"We'll bring the order out to you when it's ready," he turned around and headed to the kitchen without having a second glance at Magnus.

Magnus was left there, shocked at the response, letting a little strangled "Oh" then a cringe. That was not what he was expecting. Maybe he was wrong. Did he read the signs wrong? Was the guy not interested? Or worse, maybe he was straight and was just being friendly to another guy flirting with him. Some guys do that, he thinks.

He turned around and saw Catarina looking at him from the table. She had an optimistic look in her eyes which immediately faded when Magnus shook his head. He mouthed "Straight?" to her with a shrug of his shoulders then head back to their table.

As soon as he got there, he knew he was red. He covered his face with both hands and took a deep breath. "Oh God, that was embarrassing."

His friend grabbed both of his hands in support. "Aaaw, honey. What happened?" She gave both his hands a gentle rub when he placed them on the table.

"I have no idea." He mumbled into his arm, face buried in it. "I think I've lost my game. We flirted. I think. Then I asked him for his number and he gave me this instead. "

He held up the number for their order and placed it on the holder before burying his face in the crook of his right arm again. She could barely make out what was saying, his speech muffled but she got the gist of it.

He finally looked up, his face still red. That was very humiliating. He was not new to rejection, he's had his fair share. But he really liked this guy and he thought they had had a moment at the bowling alley and now here. He was pretty sure there was mutual interest, there was definite blushing. But maybe he really read it wrong.

Magnus took a deep breath, closed his eyes and gave his had a little shake to compose himself. "Safe to say, we're not coming here again. Let’s hope the food is really not that great."

Catarina looked at him, a comforting smile on her face. "If you say so. Do you want to switch seats so you won't have a view of the counter and him?"

He nodded, his head back to being buried in his arm. They switch seats. He was happy Catarina was here with him instead of Ragnor. The older man would have laughed at him after that very awkward situation. He’d never let him live it down. This was gonna take a while for him to get over. A few moments of silence and then Catarina distracted him with something else. 

*********

Alec rushed into the kitchen. Of all the days for him to be assigned out front, it had to be today. He dropped the order ticket to the kitchen staff then abruptly walks over to his friend Aline.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit." He paced, his right hand on his forehead.

"What's wrong? What happened?" his best friend asked, concern in her voice at Alec's panicked look. "Alec?"

"He's out there," he took a big breath in then exhaled. "He's out there and placed his order and asked for my number!"

"What? Who?" Aline took a peak out from the kitchen door towards the tables and saw who Alec was talking about. "Oh my God, Alec! It’s Sparkles! And he asked for your number?"

He nodded, ignoring the ridiculous nickname his friend had given the man. Alec’s face is pale, panicked and flustered at the same time.

"And?" she egged him to continue.

"I panicked."

Aline face-palmed herself. "What did you do? Or not do?"

"He was flirting and I flirted back. Then I brain farted when he asked for my number. And I may have given him the order number for the table instead and then ran back here." Alec said eyes closed in embarrassment, and both his hands covering his red ears.

Aline hit his bicep with the back of her hand. "Why would you do that?"

"I don't know. Because I’m lame," he covered his face with his hands and squatted on the floor. He was only ever like this in front of Aline or Lydia. And only when it came to this guy. He would never dare do this in front of his siblings, especially not Izzy. He’ll never live it down. His friends were a bit more supportive and less teasing.

Still. He couldn’t believe what he just did. He's been crushing on this guy for almost a year, finally got his opportunity and blew it.

Aline pulled him up to his feet. "Right, you go out there and make the coffees and then you give him your number."

He meant to retreat but she pushed him out, handing him a serviette with his number that she scribbled on it. "Go!" she commanded and he disappeared through the kitchen doors. Only to reappear again after a few seconds.

"Am I really gonna be one of those waiters?"

"Hey, if you gave him your number the first time, you wouldn't be 'one of those waiters' right now," she said and pointed him out of the kitchen. He did as he was told. Aline may be tiny but she can be scary sometimes.

Alec made the coffee orders. He was extra careful with them. As soon as he finished, Aline came out from the kitchen with the orders. She put them down on the counter.

"I'll take the coffees, you take the food," she told him. He was about to protest but she had already gone ahead and picked up the beverages, walking towards their customers.

Alec took a deep breath, took the plates and followed Aline to the table near the window. She had left before he got there. Only the girl with the blond hair looked at him as he got to the table. The man was fiddling with his phone, not paying attention to Alec at all. Alec put on his best (nervous) smile.

"Here is your food. One eggs benedict," the girl pointed to her side of the table so Alec placed it in front of her. "And one French toast." She pointed to Magnus. Still no eye contact, that wasn't encouraging. Alec placed the plate down, but kept the serviette with his number on it not knowing how to give it to the guy.

He placed the side of bacon in the middle. "Right so um... Cutlery. I will get you cutlery."

When he looked up, Aline had her arms across her chest, a stern look on her face aimed at him. He went to get the cutlery and extra serviettes then returned to the table.

"Here you are. Sorry for the wait." Alec placed a knife and fork, and a serviette near the girl's plate. And then did the same with the other pair beside the guy’s plate, carefully placing the cutlery on top of the serviette with his number on it. He was thankful it was written in Aline's handwriting because his own was abysmal. Hers was much more legible. "Enjoy your meal."

He walked away with one last glance at his crush who had his hand on the cutlery but head still bowed.

Alec has barely made it around the counter when he felt a hand around his arm. His heart went a million beats per minute. He turned around.

"Hey," his crush said and lifted up the serviette with his number on it. "You didn't write your name."

"What? Oh. Yes," Alec swallowed. "Name. I have a name." Alec unintentionally let out a nervous chuckle.

The guy smiled. "Well, I have one, too. My name is Magnus Bane."

Magnus held out his hand to Alec.

Alec took it and gave it a gentle squeeze. Magnus’ hand is smooth, Alec’s brain kindly confirmed. "Alec. Lightwood."

Their handshake lingered. “Nice to meet you, Alec.”

“Nice to meet you, too, Magnus.” Alec liked the feel of that name on his lips.

“Is that short for Alexander?” Magnus asked, his eyes focused on Alec, a genuine warmth in them.

“Alexander?” Alec repeated. He never liked his full name. But somehow, the way Magnus said it, made his heart all warm and fuzzy. It was music to his ears. Not like the ‘you’re in trouble, young man’ kind of sound that goes along with it when his parents used his full name.

“Your name. Alec is that short for Alexander?” Magnus clarified.

“Oh yes. Yes.” Alec said nervously. “But most people call me Alec. But… but… you can call me Alexander. If... if you want.” He took a deep breath. Stop stuttering, you idiot. Calm down!

“Alright, Alexander it is then.” Magnus winked at him. Alec tried very hard not to die.

He took another deep breath which helped him relax a little. A playful smile now both appeared on their faces, gazes lingering at each other. Years could have passed and neither of them would have noticed.

Alec's attention was caught by a couple of people walking towards the counter. "I should get back to work."

"Of course," Magnus agreed. "I'll call or text you sometime?"

Alec nodded, a wide smile still plastered on his face. "That would be nice. Yes." Alec made to walk towards the counter. It was only then they both realised they were still shaking hands.

"Enjoy your meal." Alec said, reluctantly letting Magnus’ hand go and went back to work. Alec would hold that hand forever if he could.  

Magnus returned to their table with a bounce to his step, his smile reaching all the way to his ears.

“Crisis averted?” she asked smiling widely at him. Magnus bit his lower lip and nodded. She could tell her friend was trying to contain his excitement.

Brunch was extra delicious that morning and Magnus was in a particularly good mood for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Alec sat at the back of the lecture theatre not really listening to his particularly boring Economics professor. He looked around the room. At least a few of his classmates were actually taking notes. A lot were just pretending. Sure their laptops were open and they were typing, but Alec could see their screens from where he sat. Most were on some kind of social media website, or watching videos in silent. The lecturer didn't seem to know or if he did, he didn't mind. He just kept going. Well, at least the whole class was awake.

He discreetly took his phone out of his pocket and put it on his open laptop. He opened it and clicked on messages to the conversation thread with Magnus. Since he gave his number to Magnus at the cafe the other day, they have been texting on and off. Mainly greetings or asking what the other was doing. It was small talk but it was good.

Yesterday, Alec found out Magnus lived in Brooklyn which is quite far from the University, and that he spent a lot of time studying at the library. Magnus has been sending him pictures of the weird and wonderful things that happen on the subway or of students camping out at the library. Neither of them has broached the subject of their first date.

Alec has not been out on a date in a while and was out of his game, at least he thought so. His last relationship was senior year in high school and that didn't last long. And that was high school. The last proper date (if you could call it that) was with that surfer he met in Hawaii when he took that year off to travel. But even that didn't really count. It was really just a fling on the 3 days he was on the island.

Things felt different with Magnus. Even when he was just watching him from afar. Alec was sure he wasn't looking for a fling. Maybe it was why he never built up the courage to approach the guy.  Not that he was sure he wanted a serious relationship with Magnus this instant. But, he definitely wanted to get to know him better. There was something about the way Magnus moved, and talked, and laughed. In the way he carried himself - there was a confidence that Alec's never seen in anyone before. There was just something about him that has caught Alec's attention and intrigued him. So he wanted to get their first date right. And if that didn't work out, he had this feeling that he'd still want Magnus to be a part of his life. But he really hoped they would work out.

Alec figured Magnus has likely been taken out on a lot of fancy dates. Somehow, he had this desire to stand out to Magnus or at least, to be memorable to him. So Alec wanted their first date to be different. Alec wasn't one to go to fancy dinners, so that was out of the list. He wanted it to be more of a casual atmosphere so they can talk and get to know each other. He considered going to a club, Magnus might like that, but Alec found them loud and too crowded. The movies were out of the question because Alec wanted them to be able to talk. He considered the bowling alley, but he didn't really see Magnus play bowling that night even if it was where they first interacted.

What if bowling wasn't his thing? Alec didn't want to think about that. The bowling alley was sacred to Alec, what with it being his and his siblings' way of bonding. He really didn't want to risk bringing Magnus there in case the date doesn't go well.

Texting in class wasn't usually his thing, but he figured he was too far gone to understand the topic and decided to listen to the recorded podcast later. He started typing on his phone and sent Magnus a text.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

How do you feel about street food?

It wasn't long until he got a reply.

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Limited knowledge (?) er... experience eating them? Honestly, I like any type of food. :-P
Aren't you in class?

Alec's eyes lit up when he read the text. He suppressed a smile and sunk lower in his seat to make sure his laptop screen covered him from the lecturer.

 [To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Class is boring. :/ I like food, too. Would you like to go to the street food festival with me?

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

 Alexander, are you asking me out on a date?

Alec took in a deep breath then slowly breathed out. He needed to relax. Texting was good. It gave him time to keep it together. 

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Yes. Unless you think the food fair is lame. Then we don't have to.

From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

 Oh Alexander. Of course I want to go on a date with you. Street food festival sounds great.

Alec sighed in relief. He was happy he came up with this idea. He googled local markets and food fairs in the New York events page. There was always something going on in the city.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

There's one this Saturday near campus. Do you want to go?

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

 Saturday sounds good.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Meet in front of the Main Library around 7pm?

 [From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Sounds good. See you then. :D
Much as I love your paying attention to me. You now need to pay attention in class. :-p

 Alec smiled reading the last text. He finally had a date with Magnus.

********

Saturday could not have come sooner. Alec felt giddy the whole time he was at work. Aline caught him with a stupid grin on his face a couple of times. He finished around 5pm and was glad he had enough time to get ready. His apartment was a 15 minute walk from his work so he got home around 5:15pm. Then time seemed to move fast all of a sudden while he was preparing.

He was sure he didn't spend that long in the shower, but somehow half an hour had gone by. Then he wasn't sure what he was going to wear - definitely not his tattered sweaters - and spent another half hour just rummaging through his closet. His choices were not extensive. He had never been more thankful for having a sister who forced him to go shopping once in a while.

It was close to 6.30pm when he finally decided to go with his black jeans, a white shirt-with 3 buttons on the front, and his black jacket with patches of leather on it. By the time he put on his black sneakers, it was already 6.40pm. He combed his fingers through his hair, brushing the front slightly to the side and ruffling the back. He had given up on fixing it long ago so he didn't really spend much time on it. Izzy said he just has to rock the messy hair look.

He grabbed his keys, phone and wallet and ran out the door. It took him ten minutes to walk to the front of the main library. He probably walked faster than usual. He got there with a few minutes to spare so he sat down on the front steps. Magnus wasn't there yet. Alec felt his heart start to pound while he was waiting. It wasn't because he practically sprinted to their meeting place. The giddiness and the excitement to see Magnus again was coming close. He stood at the bottom of the steps and checked his phone again, in case Magnus texted.

Alec felt a gentle hand on his left shoulder, then from the corner of his eye he saw Magnus come around to his right side from behind. Alec nearly jumped.

"Hello, Alexander." Magnus said with a smile.

"Magnus. Hey!" Alec answered. Glad that he was able to keep his voice steady.

"Sorry, I'm late. The train was delayed 10 minutes." Magnus walked around and stood in front of Alec. "Have you been waiting long?"

Alec shook his head. "No. I just got here, too, really. Ready to go?"

Magnus nodded. "Lead the way."

They walked side by side towards the fair. Alec was trying very hard to control his heart and his breathing. He couldn't help staring at Magnus as they walked, praying that he won't walk into a pole or a tree.

Magnus' hair was spiked up as usual, with red streaks on the tips. He was wearing a maroon button down shirt with flecks of gold forming a pattern he couldn't quite figure out. His sleeves were rolled up and he was wearing a black waistcoat that was unbuttoned, black skinny jeans and boots that went up mid-calf. Alec noticed he wasn't wearing as many necklaces or rings as the other times he's seen him. But he still had the ear cuffs on each side, and there was a long chain with maroon gems hanging of it going from one belt loop to the other. Alec noticed there was a hint of maroon and glitter in Magnus' eye make-up. He guessed it was what Izzy called 'smokey eye' - all he knew was that he couldn't help staring at Magnus' eyes and smile and everything.

It didn't take long to get to their destination. The whole street was closed. All the food trucks and food stalls were lined up on each side of the street, people walking on each side and every direction. And there were several chairs and tables in the middle of the road.

"So," Magnus said clasping his hands together. What would you recommend we start with?"

"How hungry are you, exactly?" Alec asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Quite." Magnus said. "I've only eaten an apple for lunch and haven't eaten since."

Alec frowned. "That's not good. You shouldn't miss meals."

Magnus rubbed the back of his neck. "Busy morning. Then I got lost in studying. I just forget sometimes. Maybe I need someone to take care of me." Magnus said with a cheeky smile.

The corner of Alec's lips rose to a small smile. "I'll see what I can do. Do you trust me?"

"I'm willing to take the risk. You seem trustworthy." And there it was again. That cheeky grin. That cute cheeky grin that is making Alec's heart stop but jump for joy at the same time.

Alec rolled his eyes, but he couldn't help a smile from escaping his lips. Somehow, the little quip from Magnus gave him confidence. He took Magnus' hand and pulled him towards one of the food trucks with "Dmitri's" written on the side.

Alec went up to the guy he assumed was Dmitri. He ordered them one beef and one lamb souvlaki, both wrapped in Pita bread and drizzled with tzatziki sauce.

"Order's coming right up," said 'Dmitri'. Magnus stopped Alec as he was taking his wallet out.

"Please let me." Magnus said. Alec shook his head.

"It's ok. I got this." Magnus opened his mouth to protest but Alec stopped him. "You can get the next one. We're gonna be here a while." Alec smiled, winked at him then turned around to pay for their meal. It took a while for Magnus to close his mouth, dumbfounded. He was not expecting Alec to wink at him. Usually Magnus does the winking.

It didn't take long for their food to cook. Alec took both souvlakis and held them in one hand. They chose one of the tables with less people around so they can talk. Alec placed the food on the table.

"Have you had Greek food before?" Alec asked as he took the seat beside Magnus.

"Does Greek salad count?" Magnus said unsure. Alec nodded. "I definitely haven't tried Souvlaki." Magnus added pointing to the food they just ordered.

They sat side by side, but slightly facing each other. Alec's knee between Magnus'. They were close but not quite touching.

"They're a bit messy to eat. But I guarantee they're really good." Alec started. "Beef or lamb?"

"Um... Lamb?" Magnus said a bit unsure. Alec slid the lamb souvlaki towards him then grabbed the other. He waited until Magnus had his first bite.

"Good?" He asked. Magnus nodded as he wiped a bit of sauce off the side of his lip. Alec loved how his face lit up.

"That tastes really good." Magnus finally said. Alec smiled and took a bite of his food. "You know much about Greek food?"

Alec swallowed. "I won't say I'm an expert. But I liked these, moussaka and gyros when I was there. Overall, I like Mediterranean or Persian cuisine."

"You travelled a lot?" Magnus asked as he took another bite.

Alec shook his head. "I took a gap year after high school. I did those work holiday visa schemes in Europe, and a bit of South America. Spent a few days in Hawaii."

Magnus' eyes widened. "Wow! I'm jealous. I would love to travel someday. Was it good?"

Alec shrugged but had a smile on his face. "Yeah. It was good. Great experience. I'd definitely recommend it. I'd like to go to Asia next."

Magnus asked him more questions about the places he visited. Alec wasn't one to talk about himself or his experiences to a stranger but something about Magnus just made him want to open up. He loved how Magnus was listening to him and was genuinely interested in what he had to say.

Alec told Magnus he wasn't sure his parents wanted him to go to college then law school immediately after high school. The only reason they agreed for Alec to take a gap year was because one of their highly reputable clients – The Blackthorns – had said their daughter, Helen, took a year off to travel and it did not affect her chances of getting into law school. In fact she included her work experience during her travels into her application. Robert Lightwood was not about to go against one of their biggest clients and reluctantly agreed for Alec to go.

"Is your father really tough?" Magnus asked as he discarded the foil wrapper on the table.

Alec scratched the back of his head. "Yeah. He can be." He sighed, his head bowed and he starts picking on something on the table. "It's just always been in the plan since I was a kid, for me to be a lawyer like him and mom." 

Magnus nodded slowly then tilted his head to find Alec's gaze. "And is that what you want to do?" Alec looked at him but doesn't answer so Magnus raised both hands up. "That was too forward of me. You don't have to answer."

 "No. It's alright." Alec smiled at him. "I just... No one's ever asked me that before." He shook his head. "I don't think I've ever asked myself that before."

 "And now?"

 Alec shrugged then lets out a little laugh. "I don't know." He licked his lips. "Let me get back to you on that one."

 Magnus nodded and smiled at Alec. "Okay."

 After finishing the souvlakis, they sat in comfortable silence for a couple of minutes.  Then Magnus started to looks around from their seat. He returned his attention back to Alec.

 "Are you ready for the next course?" he asked. Alec nodded. "I'll be right back."

Before Alec could protest, Magnus got up, grabbing the discarded wrappers and put them in the bin before walking over to another food truck a bit further down the street from where they sat.

He came back a few minutes later food in hand - two small bowls of what appeared to be a rice dish and 4 skewers of meat with sauce over it - and two sodas. He returned to his seat and they both resume their previous position if not slightly closer.

"What's this?" Alec asked, pointing to the food Magnus set on the table.

"A taste of Southeast Asia. Indonesia really." Magnus said happily while presenting Alec with the food. "I got some chicken satay and Nasi Goreng." He handed Alec a spoon. "It's easier to eat the Nasi Goreng with a spoon. Ideally you eat it with your hands."

Alec took the spoon. "You seem to know a lot about this." He said as he started to dig into the rice dish.

"I'm from there." Magnus said, picking up a stick of chicken satay. "Moved here when I was 4-ish."

"Have you ever been back?"

Magnus shook his head. "No. Not really. I don't have any reason to go back there anymore anyway." Alec's brows crease, confused. "No family left there. Or at least, not family I remember." He gave Alec a small smile as he opened one of the sodas.

Alec watched as Magnus took a sip of his soda. There was something slightly off about Magnus' mood but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

"So it's just you and your parents here?" Alec asked. He noticed Magnus tense slightly for a very brief second before he relaxes and returns to his usual mood.

"Um... I'm an orphan." He smiled at Alec as he said that. There was a hint of sadness in his eyes but there's also that familiarity of telling this information to a stranger over and over again. "Both my parents passed away when I was seven."

"Oh. I'm sorry." Alec said his frown returning. He didn't mean to bring up something tragic in Magnus' life. And on their first date, too.

Magnus shook his head and gives him a genuine smile, obviously aware of Alec's dilemma of bringing this awkward topic. "Hey, it's ok. It was a long time ago." He picked up a stick of the satay and handed it to Alec. "Here. Try this."

Alec relaxed, smiling back at Magnus. He took the satay and took a bite, Magnus patiently waiting for his reaction. "Well?"

"It's good." Alec said as he swallowed. "Is that peanut I can taste?"

Magnus nodded. "Yes. It's in the sauce -" He trailed off, his eyes widening as if he'd just realised something. "Oh my God, you're not allergic to peanuts, are you?"

Alec didn't answer then started to clear his throat and grabbed on to his neck. Magnus started to panic. "Oh my God. I didn't know. Do you have an epi pen or antihistamine?"

Magnus stopped when he saw the cheeky smile on his face. "You little shit!" Magnus screamed giving Alec a little push on the shoulder, as Alec let out a loud laugh.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't resist." Alec said shoulders shaking from laughter.

"I genuinely panicked, you bastard." Magnus pouted. "I thought I just poisoned my date!"

Alec smiled at him. "I'm sorry. It really is good." Magnus grabbed the satay from him. "Hey!"

"You don't deserve this piece. It's my reward for my almost heart attack." He said and took a bite, narrowing his eyes at Alec.

Alec laughed again and shook his head. He grabbed another stick of satay off the pile. "So how come you spend so much time at the library?"

Magnus looked at him quizzically. "To study?"

"I deserve that." Alec said acknowledging he asked an obvious question. "But you seem to study a lot. Or spend a lot of time in the library."

Magnus smiled again. "I tutor some first years in some subjects between classes. Mostly science subjects like physics or chemistry. For a fee."

"So that's why you go to the Science building often." Alec commented without thinking.

Magnus looked surprised, shifting even closer to Alec. "Alexander, how do you know I spend a lot of time at the Science building?"

Alec swallowed nervously. "Uh... Because you said library."

"I didn't say which library. Main library, Engineering library, Medical School library. Could have been any of those." Magnus looked at Alec intently, a cheeky, confident smile in his voice. "You don't even know what course I'm taking. So how do you know I go to the Science building?"

Alec was increasingly going red. Magnus wasn't supposed to know about Alec stalking him because that is just plain embarrassing. Not to mention creepy. "Uh, well." He scratched the back of his head nervously. "The Science building is across from the Business school and I may have been watching you from the front steps for the past year." He blurted out not looking Magnus in the face. 

Magnus didn't say anything. This was it. This was where their date ends. Magnus is going to find him a little creepy and he's going to walk off and never see or call or text Alec again.

He chanced a glance at Magnus, to at least see him one last time, up close, before the date came to an abrupt end.  Magnus was looking at him, his facial expression soft with a candid smile on his face. They gaze at each other then they both start to laugh.

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have been watching you from afar, too." Magnus winked at him then continued to eat. Alec flushed red but smiles. He wanted to ask further but decided not to. It was just good to know Magnus noticed him, too.

"Okay. We're both stalkers." Alec commented. They continued to eat in silence but both having a smile on their faces. If they were sitting slightly closer to each other than they were before, neither of them noticed.

"So, what course are you taking then?" Alec finally said after a while. Taking the last bite off the satay then wiping his hands on the serviette.

"I'm on my second year in Medicine." Magnus said wiping something off the side of Alec's mouth with his thumb. Alec tensed, slightly taken aback. "Sorry, I shouldn't have done that." Magnus quickly says when he notices Alec's reaction. "It's just. You had - "

"No. It's okay." Alec interjected. "Thank you. But um... You're second year medicine?" Magnus nodded. "So you already finished a pre-med course."

"Pharmacy. I'm a licensed pharmacist, too." Magnus added.

"But that means..."

"I'm a whole lot older than you." Magnus finally added.

"How much older?" Alec asked.

"At least a hundred. I'm actually an immortal. Like a vampire." Magnus joked.

Alec chuckled. "That explains all the glitter. Especially in the sun."

"Oh poo, not that kind of vampire." Magnus scrunched his face.

Alec laughed again. "But seriously though. How old are you? If you don't mind me asking?"

Magnus took a deep breath. "I am twenty six. Turning twenty-seven this year." "He looked at Alec. “Is that weird?"

Alec shook his head. "Not at all. I'm just... I thought I was older than you. Or we were at least the same age. You don't look twenty six."

"Why? Thank you for the compliment." Magnus said proudly.

Time passed and neither of them notice being so engrossed in each other. They sampled a few more delicacies from the other stalls but always returning to their previous position. They sit so comfortably close to each other as they talk. Magnus told Alec about his tutoring work, and being a personal shopper or stylist of sorts for some of his client's parents. It was only a few, ones who have been recommended by family and friends. His friend Ragnor - the British guy who interrupted them at the bowling alley, as Alec is reminded - was apparently well connected in the Upper East Side. Alec still found it impressive that Magnus was working and studying one of the most difficult courses while on a full scholarship. 

*********

It's only when one of the food truck owners approached them to take the tables and chairs away do they notice that it was already late. They both got up and walked, not really having a destination in mind. They both clearly did not want the date to end just yet.

Magnus bought them each a cone of ice cream from one of the vendors before they start walking again. They took a stroll around the University campus since it was where their feet took them. Until finally, they found themselves at the front steps of the Main library. They sat beside each other, shoulders touching, eating their ice cream in silence.

"I like our campus." Magnus said from out of the blue finishing the rest of his ice cream. "I like that we still have trees and good grass even if we're in the middle of the city."

Alec nodded. "Yeah. I know what you mean. And the best thing is, there are no drunk students around." Magnus laughed. "Coz they're all out in the city getting drunk."

"Agreed."

They looked at each other, laughter fading into silence. Alec's eyes moved from Magnus' eyes to his glossy lips then back to his eyes. Magnus doing to the same. It's not certain which one of them started it, just that they both slowly move closer to each other, noses almost touching. Until Magnus suddenly jerked slightly back and to the side and sneezed. It was a quiet sneeze. They both freeze.

"Oh God." Magnus said hiding his face against Alec's shoulder and arm. "Pardon me."

Alec started to chuckle. "Bless you."

Magnus finally leaned back, hiding his face in his hands. "I'm so sorry. I just ruined the moment."

"It's ok." Alec said still laughing. "Actually, I find it cute that you sneeze like a cat."

Magnus hit his arm. "Shut up." He said, hiding a smile. "I wish I had a 'manly' sneeze but I don't. Although, this is convenient for when I'm in class. No one really notices. Stealth mode and all."

"Aline would be so jealous of you." Alec added. "When she sneezes I swear the whole room shakes."

Magnus laughed. "Aline is..."

"Girl who served your coffee at the cafe." Alec told him, putting his hand up to show Aline's height.

"She's tiny!"

"I know. But her sneeze sounds like a foghorn." Alec chuckles. "Don't tell her I told you. She'll kill me."

"Ok. My lips are sealed." Magnus said making a gesture to zip his lips and throwing away the imaginary key.

 

Alec stood up and offered his hands to Magnus. "Come on. Let's go walk on the grass." Magnus let himself be pulled up. Alec didn't let his hand go as they walk towards one of the benches. They both took their shoes off and placed them on one of the benches before walking bare feet on the grass.

"Oh that feels nice." Magnus said as they both wiggled their toes in the grass, still holding hands. "This and sand are the absolute best feelings on feet ever."

"Uh-huh." Alec said as he pulled Magnus closer, both of them with playful smiles on their faces. He looked into Magnus eyes. "I'm having a really good time tonight."

Magnus nodded. "Me, too." Magnus stood on his toes, lifting his heel slightly up, bringing his face closer to Alec's, their noses almost touching, their eyes level to each other.

"Don't sneeze this time." Alec said with a smile.

"I won't. I promise." Magnus said smiling back. He tilted his head slightly to the left and moved even closer. They held each other's gaze for a few seconds. As Alec started to lean in, the sprinklers turn on, and the stream of water hit Alec in the face. "Oh come on!"

Magnus snorted and stepped away from him. Alec closed his eyes to keep water from getting into them, then wiped his face. Magnus was now in fits of laughter.

"Oh you think that's funny, do you?" Alec said and chased Magnus. He caught him and carried him towards the stream of water.

"Shit! That water’s cold." Magnus shouted as he got drenched in, with Alec holding him in place, getting soaked himself. They both fall, Magnus on top of Alec.

"Hey! Get off the grass." They saw one of the campus guards approaching them, flashlight in hand. "You damn hooligans!"

They quickly got up. Magnus grabbed Alec's hand, and they made a quick stop to get their shoes and ran away from the guard. They stopped when the guard was no longer in sight, both still clutching their own shoes, laughing and trying to catch their breath at the same time.

"That was so much fun." Magnus said in between laughs. He leaned on the nearest wall and started to put his shoes on. "At least I don't have squeaky shoes."

"We're both drenched though." Alec said putting his own shoes on.

"And whose fault is that?"  Magnus said still chuckling.

Alec rolled his eyes. "I didn't know the sprinklers were going to turn on."

"I have to say. This usually isn't the state of wetness my dates get me into." Magnus said, a twinkle in his eyes as he looked at Alec who blushed. "You've gotten me very wet, Alexander."

Alec grew even redder, all confidence suddenly gone and not really knowing what to say. "Uh..."

Magnus finished putting his boots on and stood up straight. Then took a deep breath. "I think it's time for me to go home." He gestured to himself. "Before I catch a cold."

Alec snapped himself out of his embarrassment. "What? You're gonna go on the train wet?"

"I've been in stranger states on the train." Magnus said, squeezing some of the water off his waistcoat.

"That's a long commute." Alec grabbed Magnus' hand. "Come on."

"Where are we going?" Magnus asked, confused but let Alec drag him to wherever it was they're going.

"My place is not far from here." Alec said as he continued walking, then suddenly stopped and looked at Magnus. "I mean, I'm not implying that we, you know. But you can dry off your clothes there. I have a dryer."

Magnus smiled then nodded. "Thank you. That would be nice."

With that sorted, Alec turned around and started walking again, Magnus' fingers now intertwined with his.

*******

They went inside a high rise building that looks like one of those five-star hotels. The lobby bathed in quiet, warm yellow light, with two sets of sofas on each corner of the room. Soft jazz music playing in the background.

"Good evening, Mr Lightwood." the doorman greeted them, a confused look on his face appears when he finally gets a good look at them. "Is it raining outside?"

"No, it's not." Alec smiled at the old man. "We just had an issue with sprinklers."

 "Goodnight, Francis!" Alec added before pulling Magnus towards the elevators. Magnus just waved at the old man still trying to absorb where they actually were.

Alec pressed the button taking them to the 15th floor. They stood in silence, watching the numbers light up as they go up each floor.

"You're a richie." Magnus broke the silence.

"Does that make you Andie?" Alec said with a cheeky grin as he looks at Magnus.

Magnus' mouth dropped, agape. "You get the Pretty in Pink reference?"

"Hey, I watched 80s movies. I'm a big fan of the Breakfast Club." Alec said with confidence. "Although I'd say I'm more Chuck Bass. You might want to reference a more recent show like Gossip Girl if you don't want people to know your age."

"Did you just imply that I'm an old man?" Magnus said in shock. Alec had a smug smile on his face. "And how do you know about Gossip Girl? I don't think that's your kind of show."

"I have a sister who forces me to watch those things." The elevator dinged and the doors opened on their floor.

"But seriously though." Alec said as he opened the door. "My parents are rich. Not me. Dad used this place as a crash pad when he had to work in the city. I’m borrowing it from him, more like. Until I finish college."

He led Magnus into the apartment, putting his keys near a hook behind the door. "Uh, the bathroom's over this way. I'll just get you a towel and a change of clothes."

Magnus is left standing at the foyer. He took his boots and socks off and walks towards the second door on the left where Alec pointed. He removed his waistcoat and started to unbutton his shirt. He was halfway through taking it off when Alec came back, towel and clothes in hand. He got one of his least tattered sweatpants and the smallest of his shirts he could find.

"Ho... Wait." Alec stopped dead at the door, backing slightly then looking away. "Sorry, I didn't mean to walk in on you."

Magnus took the towel and clothes from him and putting them on the space near the sink. "It's ok, Alexander. It's nothing you have not seen before."

Alec kept his eyes on the floor. "Still, I shouldn't have. Anyway, there should be some of those make up wipe things in the top left drawer. My sister leaves some of her stuff here. And just use the um, stuff." He pointed to everything then grabbed the doorknob and pulls the door closed.

As soon as the doors were closed, he took a deep breath to calm himself down. He knew Magnus was beautiful. He's been admiring the guy for almost a year. And he knew Magnus wasn't skinny. But he certainly was not expecting toned arms and chiselled abs. And now his mind drifted off to Magnus on the other side of that door. Getting naked. And about to wear his clothes. Alec's clothes.

If Magnus was extremely drenched he'll have to take his underwear off. And wear Alec's sweat pants... Alec stopped himself before he goes any further. He took another deep breath and slowly let it go. He went to the kitchen and decided to make them some hot chocolate instead.

It doesn't take Magnus long before he's out of the bathroom. Alec's clothes are loose on him. Wet clothes in hand, he followed the sound coming from the kitchen. "Where do I put the clothes?"

Alec jumped slightly, almost dropping the mug he was holding. "Uh, give me a minute." He poured the hot chocolate into the mug then took it to Magnus. "I'll take those off you." They switched, Alec taking the clothes and Magnus taking the mug. "It's hot chocolate. You can help yourself to marshmallows." He pointed to the bag of marshmallows on the counter.

"Thank you." Magnus smiled at him. "Um, I think my pants and waistcoat are okay on low heat. But my shirt definitely shouldn’t go in the dryer."

Alec nodded. "I'll just hang it up to dry then. I might take a quick shower, too. I think there's mud in my hair. Just um, make yourself at home." He gestured to the rest of the apartment. Alec walked back to the hallway and disappeared into one of the rooms close to the bathroom.

Magnus walked towards the counter and grabbed four marshmallows. Dropping three in his hot chocolate and popping one in his mouth. He saw the evidence that Alec made the hot chocolate from scratch. He couldn't help but smile. The warmth of the cup in his hands was comforting. He looked around at the apartment.

The kitchen opened up to the lounge. One wall is a ceiling to floor of shelves filled with books. Apart from the middle where there was a flat screen TV mounted on it. Below it were drawers. There were photos of Alec and his siblings on the shelves. In the middle is a set of sofas in a U-shape facing the TV, a coffee table in the middle.

Magnus walked over to the big window in the far end, to see the view of the city. There's a separate room opposite the lounge and the kitchen, and adjacent to what he assumed was the master bedroom. This room was separated from the lounge with a glass wall and doors. Inside it, Magnus saw a treadmill and a spin bike and various weights. But on the far end, he saw a bow and a quiver of arrows on the wall, next to a target butt.

Magnus walked back closer to the shelf of books, reading the titles. His attention is caught when Alec walked in, hair wet and wearing more casual clothes - sweat pants similar to the ones Magnus was wearing and a hoodie. He had his hot chocolate in hand.

"Like anything?" Alec asked him as he takes a seat on the couch. 

"You read a lot." Magnus said still looking at the titles. "Lots of cookbooks, too. Yours?" He looks at Alec.

 "I dabble in cooking. When I feel like it." Alec shrugged.

Magnus raised his mug. "Darling, you made this hot chocolate from scratch. That doesn't give me the impression of 'just dabbling.'" He went back to inspecting the cookbooks closer.

Alec didn't miss the term of endearment. He scratched the tip of his ear, a smile on his face. "Ok. I like cooking. And I may have taken a few cooking classes over the summer."

"Really? Tell me more." Magnus said walking towards the couch and settling himself beside Alec. Magnus sat cross-legged and facing towards the younger man, both hands around his mug of hot chocolate.

Alec picked on the sides of the couch. "There's not much to tell. I took courses in cooking. Just the basic ones but I could move to intermediate courses. This summer. If I wanted to."

“And do you want to?” Alec just shrugged. Magnus eyed him suspiciously. "Why are you playing this down?"

"I'm not playing it down." Alec defended himself. "I just... It's a hobby. Okay? I cook for my brothers and sister and that's it."

Magnus looked at him still not convinced but he just shrugged his shoulders. "Okay." He took a sip of his drink then sneaks a glance at Alec from his mug.

Alec sighed and shifted in his seat, moving closer to Magnus, left knee now touching Magnus' right. "I like the way people - mostly my siblings - look when they eat good food. It brings out happiness and comfort. And you know, when people get together there's always food involved. So when I think about that, when I'm cooking, it just makes me feel better. And cooking is quite relaxing, for me." He ended with a sheepish look.

Magnus smiled at him. "You like bringing happiness to people. Taking care of them."

"I guess so." Alec shrugged again. "I know it's lame. But it's just how I feel."

Magnus put his hand on Alec's knee. Alec felt the warmth emanating from it and shifted slightly closer into it. "Hey. Don't say that. It's not lame." Magnus took his hand away from Alec's knee and clasped his mug. The loss of the touch makes Alec's heart drop slightly. "I think it's really upstanding of you to want to do that. And hey," He raised his mug after taking a big gulp of hot chocolate. "I, for one am very comforted and happy with just this one mug of hot chocolate."

Alec smiled, shaking his head, and rubbing his face to hide his shyness. "That's good."

They continued talking for hours. Magnus asking Alec further about the cooking. And then about archery. It turned out Alec used to compete in archery in high school and won medals in interstate competitions. Neither of them notice the time pass, or that their positions on the couch change, even moving closer to each other, until they both fall asleep.

*******

They fell asleep on the couch, Magnus on the inside, his back to the back of the couch, Alec in front of him on the outside. There's just enough space for both of them lying sideways, their knees touching. Magnus had both hands curled into his chest. Alec was using his own arm as a pillow, and the other resting on his side.

Magnus' eyes opened slowly. He saw Alec watching him and he closed his eyes again, a smile appearing on his face knowing Alec was watching him. "That's creepy."

He heared Alec chuckle. "I know. But I couldn't help it. You looked so peaceful," he said still studying each detail of Magnus' face. He's never seen him without his make-up. Heck, he's never seen him this up close with or without make up and he couldn't help but admire his beauty. His gorgeous brown eyes that seem to twinkle every time he smiles. That genuine look of interest and care he gives Alec. The curve of his lips when he smiles or when he pouts. Alec could stay like this all day, just looking at Magnus, talking to him, and he wouldn't be bored. He'd very much like to wake up with Magnus next to him, like this. 

As Magnus opened his eyes, seeing Alec brush a stray hair away from his forehead.

"Good morning." Alec said smiling.

Magnus rubbed his face with his hand then chuckled. "Good morning."

"Would you like some breakfast?" Alec asked.

"Breakfast sounds nice." Magnus answered with a smile. Half his face still hidden in his hand. Alec has decided he liked this newly discovered side of Magnus. The way he goes shy and timid like this. He's always seen Magnus poised, flamboyant even. It gave Alec assurance that he can make Magnus flustered, too.

Alec reluctantly tore himself away from Magnus and sat up. "Why don't you freshen up first? Your clothes should be dry by now."

Magnus nodded and stretched on the couch. Alec saw this and was reminded of a cat. Magnus somehow had that feline quality in his movements. Alec forced himself to look away when he saw the exposed skin where Magnus', well Alec's, shirt has ridden up when he stretched. He also saw the garter of Magnus' underwear peeking from the loose sweatpants. So that answers the question of whether Magnus went commando last night. Alec didn't really check his wet clothes when he put them in the dryer.

Alec got up and headed over to the laundry room to get Magnus' clothes then goes to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Magnus said a small ‘thank you’ then headed to the bathroom.

When Magnus came out, Alec had the food set up on the counter. Two plates of breakfast crepes, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with cream and fresh strawberries. Alec is still frying up some bacon.

Magnus took a seat on one of the bar stools, eyes widening. "Wow! This looks amazing."

"I hope you like Nutella." Alec said as he drained off the fat from the bacon and puts 2 strips each on Magnus' plate then his.

"Who doesn't like Nutella?" Magnus rolled his eyes and grabbed a knife and fork.

"Coffee?" Alec asked taking two mugs out of the cupboard.

"Yes, please. Three sugars and milk." Magnus had his eyes on the food looking at it in awe, holding the knife and fork, one on each hand, looking excited like a child.

Alec smiled. "You can start, you know."

Magnus looked at him. "No. I can wait for you."

"Magnus, just start." Alec said as he made Magnus' coffee and poured one for himself, waiting for Magnus to start.

Magnus looked at Alec, shrugged then sliced a piece of the crepe, making sure to put the cream, chocolate and strawberry on it, then takes a mouthful. His eyes widen. "Cooking is a hobby, my ass." He finally said mid-swallow. "You should do this professionally."

Alec's face brightened, a big smile on his face. "I don't know. Maybe." He walked towards Magnus, taking a seat on the bar stool beside him, both mugs in hand. He started slicing up the food on his plate.

"No. Seriously. I'd pay good money for this." Magnus said as he continued eating. "Not today though. Coz you know, we're still on a date."

Alec looked at him then nodded. "We are still on a date." He realised.

"Although. If say the average date lasts 2 or three hours. We've already been on..." Magnus started to calculate in his head then gave up half way. "...A lot of dates."

Alec laughed. "We're very efficient."

"That we are." Magnus winked at him.

********

It's close to eleven o'clock when they finally drift towards the door.

"Well, um, I had a really nice time." Magnus said, leaning on the doorframe, Alec holding the door slightly ajar.

"I had a really nice time, too." Alec said smiling shyly. "Have you got much planned for today?" He asked, trying to make Magnus stay that much longer.

Magnus scrunched his nose. "Nothing exciting. I have to revise notes and read up on this week's lectures."

"Nerd." Alec chided, Magnus chuckled.

"What about you?"

Alec licked his lips. "I have a short shift at the cafe this afternoon. But nothing big. Like studying."

Magnus gave him a playful slap on the chest. "Hey! I have a scholarship to maintain."

Alec laughed. "Can I see you again?"

It was Magnus' turn to smile. "Definitely. I'd like to go on a gazillionth date with you."

Alec chuckled. Then their eyes fall on each other. Alec leaned in and their lips touch. They kiss slowly, languid. Magnus put his hand on Alec's waist, pulling him gently closer to him. Alec pushing him slightly further into the door frame. The kiss went deeper but remained gentle, and sweet. Alec lightly sucking on Magnus' bottom lip before moving to the top one. Magnus responding with equal enthusiasm. They broke away after a while and smiled at each other.

"I should go." Magnus took a step back, out of Alec's apartment but still not looking away.

Alec followed him out but stopped himself before he could go any further than the door frame. He held on to it as if it was an anchor. He didn't want Magnus to leave, didn't want this date to end. He watched as Magnus got into the elevator and only goes in his apartment when he heared the elevator move.

It's not even a second when he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He took it out.

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]

Meet up for coffee tomorrow?

Alec smiled. He typed on his phone as he walked towards the couch, confidently falling backwards on the cushions as he sent his reply.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]

I would love that.

Chapter Text

Magnus stepped out of the Science Building having finished yet another tutoring session in the library. His next class wasn't in another hour and a half and he and Alec had made plans to meet up for lunch. Since their first date they have been taking their breaks together even if it's just for coffee. He takes his phone out of his pocket to see if there were any texts from Alec.

[From: ^o^ Alexander ^j^]

Class is finishing up. See you out front?

[To: ^o^ Alexander ^j^]

Ok. I've just finished tute session, too. See you in a bit. :)

 

Magnus sends the text and makes his way to the Business School across from the Science Building. He's close to the steps when he sees Alec through the glass doors with a short, dark-haired girl Magnus now knows as Aline, and the blonde GI Jane whose name he has yet to find out. Aline was in front of Alec, walking backwards with both her hands clasped together as if pleading. He sees Alec frown then looks a t Lydia who just shrugs her shoulders. Magnus waits for them at the bottom of the steps, waving and smiling at Alec when the other man sees him. Aline briefly turns around to see who Alec waved to then abruptly returns her attention to Alec.

"Please, Alec. Just take my shift." Magnus heard Aline say as the group approach him. "Helen needs a break. Law school is killing her. And I need some alone time with my girlfriend."

Alec rolls his eyes. "Fine. I'll take your shift."

Aline lets out a little squeal and jumps to hug Alec. Magnus found that impressive as he was almost twice her height. "You are the best friend ever. I love you."

Alec steals a glance at Magnus who was watching the two with a smile. Aline quickly lets him go then turns around to Magnus. "But I don't mean it like that. Coz I have a girlfriend. And I'm not his type. You're definitely his type. Hello, I'm Aline Penhallow." She talked very fast, Magnus had to quickly process what she said. She offered her hand to Magnus.

"Good thing he's my type, too." Magnus smiling at Alec then taking her hand and giving it a little shake. "Nice to meet you, Aline. I'm Magnus Bane."

"And Sparkles now has a name. You wear a lot of make-up. It looks nice. So has this one made moves on you yet?" Aline says pointing to Alec who looks up to the sky a defeated look on his face.

Magnus' brows creased. "Sparkles?"

Alec hid his face in his hands as Aline started speaking. "Oh, it's what I named you in my head coz you wear a lot of glitter. This one just called you a beautiful enigma."

"Did he now?" Magnus says giving Alec a very amused and teasing look.

"I'm right here, Aline." Alec’s voice is muffled as he says this into his hands, only briefly glancing at Magnus through the gaps between his fingers, an apologetic look in his eyes. "Stop making things weird." He was already growing very red in the face.

"What?" Aline moves both shoulders up innocently, looking at the blonde girl for assistance. "It's the truth. And I'm curious. Plus you have a tendency to go at glacial pace with these things. I just want to know if you've gotten any action."

"Ok, you're done." Alec playfully shoves her behind him, stepping closer to Magnus smiling sheepishly. "Sorry about this one. She has no filter."

Lydia and Magnus laugh as they watch Aline try to go around Alec but unsuccessfully.

"Hi. I'm Lydia Branwell." The blonde one finally speaks, Magnus taking her offered hand to shake it. "Please don't be offended. She just says what she thinks."

Magnus chuckling, shakes his head. "I'm not offended at all. I have a friend who's very similar."

Lydia point to Alec and Aline who are still pushing each other. "They do that a lot, in case you're wondering."

"I'm guessing they grew up together?" Magnus asks.

Lydia nods. "Yeah. She's like a sister to him. Although, you should see him with his siblings, too. His sister has way less of a filter than Aline. Especially when it comes to Alec."

"I look forward to meeting her." Magnus says as Aline gives Alec ones last push sending him closer to Magnus, Alec almost bumping into him if he didn't have good reflexes.

"We'll leave you alone now. We have to go meet John." Lydia grabs Aline's hand. "Nice to meet you, Magnus. We should hang out sometime. See you, Alec."

Magnus waves to the two then looks at Alec who has a sheepish look on his face. "Sorry about that. She's well-behaved most of the time."

"No. It's all good. It was nice seeing you with your friends. I get to find things out." He moves closer to Alec grinning. "Beautiful enigma, huh?"

"Oh, shut up." Alec says, a shy smile on his blushing face.  He grabs Magnus' hand and starts walking. "Let's go."

Magnus let's out a laugh as he follows Alec, giving him a little nudge as they walk.

 

***********

They go to Java Jones, a small coffee place on campus. Sitting across from each other, they both ordered their coffees, a toasted sandwich each and sharing a bowl of fries. They've only known each other for a week but they have become quite comfortable around each other.

"All that talent in cooking, and currently a barista and you always go for black coffee." Magnus states, with both elbows on the table and holding his coffee mug with both hands close to his lips. He watches as Alec take a sip of his coffee.

"It's the only way to go with coffee." Alec says with a smile.

"No, it's not. And you know it." Magnus protests. "For example, my drink. Hazelnut caramel macchiato." He slides his drink over to Alec who has a doubtful look on his face. "It's good. Try it."

Alec takes a sip and cringes. "Too sweet. And it's mostly milk and foam." He shakes his head.

"That's what makes it taste good." Magnus says taking his drink back.

"You can barely taste the coffee." Alec argued back, shifting forward and putting both hands on the table, a challenging look in his eyes. He's found that he's become quite comfortable with these playful banters with Magnus.

Magnus shifts slightly forward locking his gaze with Alec's. "Coffee is bitter. And bitter is yuck. Who even voluntarily chooses a bitter taste?"

"Well, I do. Along with a few other people in the world. And it's good. Better even." Alec shifts further forward not breaking eye contact with Magnus. "Besides, beer or any other alcohol for that matter, are bitter-tasting, too. And people drink them. Some a whole lot more than others."

"Alcohol is different. The more you drink the more you don't notice how bitter it is. Besides, not all alcohol is bitter-tasting. At least not the ones I drink or make." Magnus reveals, shifting even closer, their faces now inches away, still keeping eye contact with Alec. Neither of them blinking, this now being a staring contest.

"I haven't tasted any of the drinks you drink, or make."

"Would you like to?"

"I would love to."

"So dinner and drinks? This Thursday?" Magnus enquires nonchalantly, a mischievous glint in his eye.

"I would love that." Alec answers. He couldn't help being lost in Magnus' brown eyes, loving the way the other man is looking at him, holding his gaze.

They stay like that for a minute or so, until Alec blinks then looks away, blushing but with a smile on his face.

"Ha! I won. And I got a date out of it, too" Magnus exclaims happily winking at Alec who just chuckles while shaking his head.

Magnus walks two fingers on the table until he reaches Alec' fingers then starts to tap on them. "But really though. You're okay this Thursday? No work or early class the next day?"

Alec turns his hand over to let Magnus draw circles on his palm. "Magnus, I wouldn't have said yes if it wasn't." He rests his chin on his other hand. "But I'm really not much of a drinker though so you might be disappointed." 

Magnus frowns. "Well, I'm not planning to get you drunk." His face relaxes. "Just enough to educate you on the joys of alcohol that is not beer." He glances at Alec with a smile. "And plus, I think you'll like the restaurant I had in mind."

"Yeah?" Alec asks raising one eyebrow while also drawing circles on Magnus' palm. "What kind of restaurant is it?"

"You'll have to see on Thursday." Magnus grins.

"Okay." Alec says with a playful eye roll. "I guess I'll have to trust you."

"But darling, I already know you trust me." Magnus says a playful tone in his voice. "You already invited me to your apartment."

"I can always move." Alec gives a slight shrug. Magnus' mouth drops open and he takes his hand away from Alec's but Alec manages to catch it and holds on. "But I won't. Because 'you seem trustworthy.'" He imitates Magnus' line from their first date.

Magnus chuckles. "Because I am." He says as he intertwines their fingers.

 

************

On Thursday, Magnus' class finishes at 3pm. He rushes to catch his train and almost doesn't make it. He sends Alec a quick text to let him know his address. He'd made their dinner booking for 8:30pm at the Ethiopian place in Brooklyn. He knew Alec was still at work so he was likely not going to text back until he finishes at 5pm, which Alec said was enough time for him to get ready. How he was going to get ready for their date in 3 hours, Magnus didn't know. All he knew was his time to get ready was not enough.

He rushed into his house, having ran from the train station. He dropped all his things by the front door. His cat - Chairman Meow - rushing to greet him and meowing for food.

"Hello, Chairman." he gives the cat a quick pat on the head then rushing to the kitchen. "I can't really cuddle right now." He goes to the pantry, opens a can of cat food and places it into the dish. "I have to get ready for a date with the most handsome man ever." The cat just ignores him and keeps eating. "Oh, don't get too excited for me."

He glares at his cat who still hasn't even bothered to give him a reaction. Magnus gives up and makes for his bedroom, shedding clothes as he goes. His last class was anatomy in the lab and he really wanted to wash off the 'ick!' smell which he is convinced has seeped into his skin.

It takes him an hour to get all his make-up off and have a shower. And then stood in front of his closet for a good 30 minutes not knowing what to wear. He picks up his phone and dials Catarina's phone number. It goes to voice mail.

"Cat, are you working? Call me, stat. 911!" He says then drops his phone on his bed and looks at his closet again. He takes out a couple of shirts and throws them on the bed. A few minutes later he hears his phone ring and quickly digs it out of the pile of clothes. He doesn't even know why he's nervous. It's not like they haven't gone out before, albeit it was one date.

"Oh, thank God!" he says as he taps on the video call button, his voice a little relieved. "Are you free? Are you working?"

"Yes. I'm free. I'm at home. I'm working this weekend so technically today and tomorrow is my weekend." Catarina's face appears on the screen. He could now see she's in the living room.  "What's up? What's the 911?"

He carefully places his phone on his dresser facing the bed. "I don't know what to wear."

"Okay." Her face contorts, a little confused. "Have you considered clothes that is not your bathrobe?"

He frowns at her. "I mean for my date. With Alec. Tonight."

She blinks. "I feel like this is déja vu. Didn't we have this conversation when you went on your first date with him?"

"Yes. I know." He cries, his voice pleading. "But this is the second date. And I asked him out. Please help me."

"I have seriously never seen him this flustered before." Catarina was talking to someone off camera.

Magnus peers into his phone. "Who are you talking to?" He asks, trying to look closer on the video to try and catch a glimpse of whoever was with Catarina.

"Hello, poppet." Ragnor's face suddenly appears from the side. "Are you having a fashion emergency?"

"Ragnor?" Magnus looks puzzled. "What are you doing at Cat's place? And since when do you go there?"

"She's the only one who makes a decent cup of tea. Not that brown water you all try to pass as one." Ragnor says now sitting back on Catarina's sofa a cup of tea in his hand, holding the handle with his pinky up.

Magnus wanted to ask more questions but he had more pressing matters at hand so he shelved it for another time. "Anyway, Cat. Help. Clothes. Please?"

"Okay. Okay." Catarina leans into the camera to look at him closer. "What options are you thinking?"

Magnus goes over to his bed and grabs a couple of his shirts. "I was thinking this or this." He shows her his purple silk tunic with the low neckline with beads embroidered into it, and a black polo shirt with silk tribal patterns on it. "Pairing them with my black skinny jeans with the leather streaks."

"Hmmm..." she taps on her lip with her finger. "Yes on the purple and the pants. And wear your black jacket with the leather patches, the one that's not too long. And roll up the sleeves."

"Ok." Magnus nods, feeling slightly relieved. "Hair and make-up?" He clarifies, pulling his fringe to the front to check it. He dyed it back to black the other day. He considered putting purple streaks and then internally panicked when he realised he didn't have enough time.

"Your hair is fine. Go for your natural hair colour. But definitely some purple make up." Catarina says now sitting back on the couch beside Ragnor. He's reassured by her recommendation.

"You are a godsend." Magnus walks off camera to put on the clothes they picked.

"Exactly what time are you meeting?" He hears Ragnor's voice.

"7:30ish. He's picking me up." Magnus shouts from the side, close to his wardrobe. He doesn't see Ragnor look at his watch, and only hears him and Catarina giggle.

"Magnus, you have like 2 hours." He hears Ragnor say.

"I know!" Magnus shouts a little as he walks to his phone to show them, twirling around to give them a 360 view. "It's not enough time. What do you think?"

"I think you're falling in love really fast with the boy." Ragnor retorts with a chuckle.

"Shut up! Am not!" Magnus whines. "Now tell me about the clothes."

"Fine then. Smitten. Totally, incredibly smitten."

Magnus takes a deep breath and crosses his arms. He really didn't need this teasing from his friend right now.

"The clothes look great, Magnus." Catarina finally assures him. At least she can stay on topic.

"Thank you." Magnus lets out a relieved sigh. He puts on his robe over his shirt so as not to get any make up over it and sits at his dressing table. He starts his routine before putting his make up on.

"Ragnor does have a point though." Catarina states calmly, taking a sip of her tea. "I seriously have never seen you like this with anyone you've ever dated or been in a relationship with."

"You're exaggerating. It's only because I haven't dated in like 5, or, 6, or 7 years. I don't even know. I’m out of my game." Magnus says as he finishes putting his moisturiser on.

"Magnus, your face is red." she says matter-of-factly. "And we haven't even really started talking about him yet. This is just you thinking about your date with him."

"I know." He covers his face with his hands defeated but really hiding a smile. "I mean, I don't know." He sighs. "It's just. I like talking to him, and the banters. And he makes me feel comfortable. Like I'm the only one in his world when we're together. And he makes me laugh and he's very sweet. And he's all shy and cute at times but he's also confident. And just... I don't know. Things feel different. Like good different with him."

Magnus looks at his phone to see both his friends with one eyebrow raised. The two look at each other. "Yup, smitten. Definitely falling in love." They say together.

Before he can answer a text from Alec comes in telling him he'd just gotten home from work and is getting ready. "Shit! That was him. It's almost 5.30. I have to go."

"Okay. Have fun." Catarina says with a lazy voice.

"We're likely going to Pandemonium later for Thirsty Thursday if you want to join." Ragnor adds. "We can suss out the boy and see if he's worth it."

"Okay. I'll see." Magnus ignores Ragnor's last comment. "Thanks for helping with my clothes dilemma." She tells Catarina. They give each other air kisses and hang up.

Magnus lets out another heavy sigh to relax himself then continues getting ready.

 

It's 7:10 when he finally finishes everything from his make up to hair to his now purple nails. He goes around his apartment making sure everything is tidy and presentable for when Alec arrives. He decides to mix up a glass each of Cosmopolitan for them to start with. His heart goes increasingly fast as 7:30 nears. The buzzer goes off at around 7:20. Magnus' heart jumps. He runs to the intercom and presses the button.

"It's me." He hears Alec's voice.

"Come on up." He presses the button to let Alec in then leaves the door open slightly. He practically runs back to his room to take a quick look in the mirror for final touch ups on his hair and make-up.

He hears a soft knock then footsteps and the front door closing. "Hello? Magnus?" Alec calls out as he walks into the apartment.

Magnus rushes out of his room to greet him. He stops dead to admire the man before him. Alec is wearing black jeans which fit him perfectly, combat boots, a fitted light blue shirt outlining his toned muscles and a black leather jacket, his hair in its usual messy way. Magnus has noticed Alec wears a lot of black. But he rocked it, so Magnus didn't mind. Tonight's ensemble was simple but Magnus couldn't deny Alec looked hot.

"You're early." He goes on his tiptoes, leaning in to give Alec a quick kiss on the cheek. He pulls Alec towards the living room. "I'll just grab my jacket and I need to feed the cat. Please make yourself at home." He gestures to the rest of the living room.

"Oh wait..." He goes over to the makeshift mini bar on the far side of the lounge and pours the drinks he'd made earlier on a Martini glass. He hands it to Alec who looked unsure but he takes the drink anyway. "First drink's on me. Cosmopolitan." He winks at Alec.

"Thank you." Alec finally smiles and takes a sip. He grimaces at first then relaxes. Magnus patiently waiting for a verdict. "Kind of bitter, but not really. I can barely taste the bitterness to be honest."

"Told you. Good or not good?" Magnus asks.

"It's good." Alec replies and Magnus does a small clap, a small satisfied smile on his face.

"I'll be back. Please have a seat." Magnus points Alec to the couch then disappears to his room. He grabs his jacket off the chaise and puts it on. Chairman Meow pads his way towards him as he is fixing his clothes in front of the mirror. He picks up the cat. "Let's get you some dinner."

With Chairman in his arms, he walks out to the living room. "Alexander, I'm just going to give this cute kitty some din…" he trails off.

"You mean not this cat?" Alec is on the couch petting a grumpy looking cat that's sitting on his lap. "I swear you said cat in singular form."

Magnus chuckles. "Well, this," he points to the cat in his arms as he sets him down "… is the cat I was referring to. His name is Chairman Meow. That," he points to the one on Alec's lap. "... Is Church, who is only my part-time cat?"

"I'm not even going to ask about the Chairman's name. But part-time cat?" Alec asks confused.

Magnus walks over to the pantry and grabs two cans of cat food. "Chairman Meow because it's cute and so is he. Not the communist dictator kind. And Church only lives here part-time. He's only my cat when he feels like it. Half the time I don't know where he goes. He just walked in here one day and decided he liked it here. And then leaves when he feels like it."

He puts one can of cat food each on two bowls then sets them down. When he looks over, both cats are now resting on Alec's lap quite comfortably. "Well, this is truly very strange."

"What is?" Alec asks as he pets both cats.

Magnus crosses his arms in front of him and leans on the kitchen counter. "For one, Church doesn't like anybody. And second, they don't ever sit beside each other like that, on the same lap." He smiles then walks over to get his drink. "They must really like you." He takes a sip.

"Is that a good thing?" Alec probes, a small smile tugging at his lips.

"That's a very good thing." Magnus assures him as he takes a sip of his drink. "I don't date anyone the Chairman doesn't like. Big bonus that you got Church on your side."

"I get both cats' approval." Alec nods with a content look on his face. He gives both cats a last pat then pushes them off getting no violent reactions. Magnus is stunned at the lack of protest from either feline.

Alec gets up and walks over to where Magnus was standing near the windows. He clinks his class to Magnus and raises it. "I'm doing something right." Magnus responds and they both take a sip at the same time, gazing into each other's eyes.

 

********

Ten minutes later they leave Magnus' loft and make their way to the restaurant. The restaurant is a 15 minute walk for Magnus' place. Since it's a nice night and because they have time, they decide to walk there. Walking side by side, Alec has both his hands in each pocket of his leather jacket and Magnus' hand looped around Alec's right hand.

"So what restaurant is this?" Alec inquires as they turn a corner.

"It's Ethiopian." Magnus says with a smile. "I hope you haven't had that before."

Alec shakes his head. "Can't say I have. I'm curious."

Magnus' eyes widen, clearly glad his surprise worked. "I've been there once or twice and it's really good. I thought it'll expand your culinary repertoire."

"I look forward to it." says Alec. Magnus then stops in front of the restaurant, letting Alec in first.

They were early. Luckily their table is ready so the maître’d leads them to their table. It's on a quiet corner of the restaurant which they were both glad about. They both liked the privacy and the ambiance the place gave them.

Their table is quite small, or they're both too big and tall, especially Alec, making the space more intimate. Not that either of them minded. Both of Magnus' knees are resting between Alec's, plainly because it was the only way for Alec to sit comfortably with his long limbs (that is the only reason. Of course it is.)

Alec lets Magnus order their food since he wouldn't have known what to get anyway. Magnus also ordered them some cocktails - Sex on the Beach for himself and a Blue Lagoon for Alec.

When their food arrives, Magnus points each one out to Alec. He had ordered kitfo leb leb - which is apparently the lightly cooked version of the food, the other being raw minced meat - and injera, which is a type of flat bread. Magnus also ordered them doro wat which is a type of stew, and Tibs which is a meat dish. They ate with their hands which explained to Alec why Magnus' hands were devoid of rings tonight save for the one with the 'M' on it.

They talked about their day, about their classes and work. Magnus also talking more about his cats. They don't even notice the time pass.

Alec enjoyed the food immensely which made Magnus happy. The younger man even talked about trying to cook the tibs and doro wat at some point.

"Speaking of cooking," Magnus starts after they finished dinner and have cleaned up. The waiter clearing their table apart from the drinks. "I have a friend Luke, who owns a chain of restaurants." He discloses with a smile.

"Where is this going?" Alec asks returning the smile but slightly wary.

"Well, he lends out one of his kitchens for those amateur late night cooking classes once or twice a week. It's mostly run by aspiring chefs or those who have undergone training." He points to Alec then continues. "And I was wondering if you wanted to sign up." He shrugs his shoulders. "If you wanted to. I can call in a favour."

Alec's brows rise up, interest clear in his eyes before he looks away, ruffling his hair. "I'm not an aspiring chef though."

"But you're interested." Magnus says giving the table a little tap, a smile on his face.

"I'll think about it." He proposes, a shy smile on his face. "It could be fun."

"No pressure. Just let me know what you decide." Magnus says nudging Alec's knee with his. Alec lets out a chuckle

Magnus' phone buzzes. He takes a quick peek at the message and smiles.

"Who's that?" Alec asks, curious.

"My friends Catarina and Ragnor are at a nearby club - Pandemonium." He turns his phone to Alec who sees a picture of the blond girl and Babycakes man he saw with Magnus at the bowling alley. Both holding drinks up and clearly in a club with the caption "It's thirsty Thursday and we're thirsty! Are you?" sprawled on the message.

"Do you want to go?" Alec asks. He wasn't sure why he did. He wasn't a big fan of clubs. But he found he might not mind so much if Magnus was with him.

"Are you sure?" Magnus looks at him, eyes questioning. "We don't have to. This is our date. Unless you're trying to ditch me."

Alec chuckles. "I'm not trying to ditch you. I thought it could be fun." He shrugs. "Plus, you got to meet two of my friends. I get to meet yours." A slight pang of panic suddenly hits him. "Unless you don't want me to meet them. Coz you know, if we're not yet on that stage."

Magnus reaches across the table and puts his hands on top of Alec's. "Alexander, stop. Of course I want you to meet my friends. And screw the dating rules. You meet them when you meet them. And that is tonight apparently."

"Okay then." Alec says with a smile. They pay for the bill, having a bit of a tussle as to who gets to get the check until they both decide one pays for the drinks and the other the food.

 

Pandemonium is a couple of blocks away from the restaurant so they decide to walk. It was a good way to ease the food and the alcohol they just ingested. When they get there, they see a long line of people waiting to get in.

"Wow!" Alec says in surprise. "I didn't expect it to be this many people. Can we even get in?"

"It's thirsty Thursday. Drinks are half price." Magnus takes Alec's hand and pulls him past the line towards the door. "Come on."

"What?" Alec, confused, feeling guilty looks apologetically at the people in line that they’re passing. "But the line."

"Trust me." Magnus winks at him and walks up to the bouncer, Alec in tow. "Hey, Steve."

"Hey Magnus. Long time no see." says the burly guy at the door.

"Sorry. Busy being a model student. Is it packed in there?" Magnus explains.

"As usual but we have room for you. And your friend." Steve gives Alec a curt nod who gives a nervous wave back.

"This is Alec." Magnus introduces the two. "And he's my very special friend. Alec this is Steve." he says winking at Steve who gives a hearty laugh.

Steve pulls the rope up to let them in. "Have fun."

Alec gives one last nod at Steve and let's Magnus lead him inside the club. He can hear the music booming as they go through the first set of doors. "You're a VIP here?"

Magnus turns to him, fingers still entwined. "I used to work here. After high school and partly through pre-med. This is where I met Ragnor. Way back when." Magnus reveals now having to speak louder as they neared the bar and the dance floor. Alec instinctively moving closer and leaning in to hear him.

They both go straight towards the bar, Magnus only needing to raise his hand slightly before the bartender sees him - someone he clearly knows. Alec doesn't hear what his date has ordered only that they now both have a green drink in their hands. It tasted melon-y sweet. Magnus leads him to the back where the VIP rooms are, where it's significantly quieter than in the general dance floor. As soon as they enter, they are greeted by Magnus' friends.

Magnus goes through the introductions. Ragnor giving Alec a good and firm handshake and giving a quick apology about the bowling alley incident. Catarina gives him a hug before they all sit down. Alec and Magnus seat close to each other, joined at the hip and shoulder with Alec's hand on Magnus' lap. Catarina and Ragnor exchange a meaningful glance seeing the couple's seated position. Neither of the other two notice the reaction.

"So, Alec, how's your date going so far?" Ragnor asks a mischievous grin on his face.

"Ragnor, don't start." Magnus says throwing the small straw from his drink towards his friend who swiftly moves out of the way. Alec smiles at the exchange.

"Absolute worst." Alec deadpans as he sits forward looking at Ragnor. Magnus' face drops, panic in his eyes as he looks at Alec's expressionless face. "I mean, first. He lies about how many cats he has." Alec is now looking at Magnus, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Then he makes me eat exotic food."

He takes his gaze back at Catarina and Ragnor. "And I swear he's been trying to get me drunk all night." He finishes, a grin on his face as he takes a sip of his drink.

Magnus who looked panicked the whole time, thinking their date was contrary to how he thought it was going, gave Alec a shove as he realises the younger man was having him on. "You're a little shit." he says narrowing his eyes at Alec.

"I'm kidding. I'm having a really good time." Alec says with a grin, eyes still gleaming as he looks at Magnus, pressing their foreheads together.

Catarina and Ragnor watch as Magnus is left speechless, still staring at Alec.

"I like him already, Magnus." Ragnor interrupts raising his glass to Alec who returns the gesture.

"I think this is the first time in years that someone's rendered you speechless." Catarina adds with a smile. Magnus doesn't respond but has snapped out of his momentary trance as he takes a sip of his drink, trying to hide a blush.

"So how do you all know each other?" Alec asks sitting back on the couch, Magnus following suit and leaning on his shoulder.

"Well, Magnus and I met in this very club when I first moved State side." Ragnor starts. "Only to find out weeks later that he is good friends with Catarina here who I met when she did an overseas exchange thing in the UK."

"Don't forget you owe me your soon-to-be medical degree." Magnus says pointing to Ragnor with the hand holding his drink. He must see the question on Alec's face so he turns to him to explain. "He's a fourth year. I helped him study for his MCATs while I was still doing me undergraduate degree. That and other science subjects for pre-med. I still help him study every now and then."

"And I will be forever grateful for your help in making my grandmother proud of me. I know now that my purpose is to be a healer." Ragnor adds raising his glass to toast Magnus.

Again, Alec looked baffled at the remark so Magnus explains. "When he says grandmother, he means the Queen."

"The Queen?" Alec asks, intrigued. "Like The Queen of England?"

Ragnor just shrugs so Magnus interrupts. "Apparently he's a distant cousin, nephew uncle, grandson twice removed. We're not really sure. We think he's lying."

"I am offended that you would think that of me." Ragnor says, putting one hand on his chest. "If we were in England grandmother will have your head." Magnus pokes his tongue at him.

"Yes. Yes. Whatever Earl of making-stuff-up." Catarina interrupts. She looks at Alec. "And don't think his being in Medical school is noble either. He just wants the Doctor title before his name. Before that he did a degree in Medieval French, Classic Literature, and something else vaguely science-related."

"Doctor Ragnor Fell. It has a nice ring to it." The older man says proudly. Magnus throws a crumpled up serviette at him. Catarina rolls her eyes at the two. Alec watches the exchange between the three in amusement.

"Whatever, Dr Frankenstein." Magnus says standing up, using Alec's knee to push himself up. "I'm gonna go get another drink." He turns to Alec. "Would you like another?" Alec shakes his head showing him his glass which is still half-full. "So slow, Alexander. I'm getting you another one."

"You're really trying to get me drunk." Alec says with a laugh. Magnus winks and blows him a kiss. Alec looks dumbfounded.

Magnus grabs Ragnor and pulls him up. “Come on, old man.”

“I am not an old man.” Ragnor protests before letting himself get pushed forward.

Alec watches as Magnus walks away and disappears into the crowd with Ragnor. It took him a minute to realise he had a stupid smile on his face and Catarina is staring at him, a glint in her eyes.

He clears his throat and looks at her, trying to make it less obvious that he was staring at Magnus. "So have you and Magnus known each other long?"

She moved closer to him so that they didn't have to shout and talk over the music. "Yes. I used to volunteer at his foster home, just babysitting and helping out. I've known him for more than ten years. He's like my little brother." She watches as Alec nods in acknowledgement. "He really likes you."

Alec blushes. "I really like him, too." He says smiling. "Is he always that energetic and vibrant? Like..." Alec doesn't know what to do so he just flails his arms trying to imitate Magnus' energy.

Catarina chuckles. "I know what you mean. Trust me, I never know where that boy gets all that positive energy." She discloses smiling at him briefly. "I mean, after all the shit he's been through. He's had it tough growing up and still came out smiling."

Alec, nodding, swirls his drink around. "Yeah. He told me he was orphaned at a young age. I can't imagine how that would have felt like. And he's been alone since. I mean, no family?"

Catarina puts her hand on his shoulder, brows creased in wonder. "He told you about his parents?"

"Yes. Well no, not in detail." Alec explains, a little bit surprised at Catarina's reaction considering Magnus told him about it like it was just one of the facts of life. Alec knew it was a serious matter, but Magnus, at the time seemed calm talking about it. "It came up on our first date."

Catarina blinks several times processing what she was told. "Wow. He really is different with you. You must really be special." Alec felt she said that last comment more to herself than to him. He felts overwhelmed by the remark.

Alec shifts forward, more curious now. "Sorry. He just seemed quite okay telling me about it." Catarina doesn't say anything. "I feel like there's something more."

Catarina grabs his hand to stop him and a kind smile on her eyes. "As with any story, of course there is a lot more to it. I have no doubt that he will tell you if you ask, and when he's ready." She squeezed his hand. "Just... Just know that, Magnus deserves to be happy. And I know that you and he have only been dating for a short time. A very short time. But I can see that he's really happy with you. I'm not kidding or exaggerating when I say I have never seen him like this. With anyone. Not even me or Ragnor or the makeshift family he's built around himself. I really, really hope you two work out."

Alec looks at her absorbing and internalising what she just said. He couldn't deny that the first time he saw Magnus, he was attracted to him physically. He thought he was good looking - he was his eye candy. But the more he watched, he became intrigued by his energy and confidence. He was definitely impressed with Magnus' dedication and hard work to pursue his medical degree. And now the more they got to know each other - finding out Magnus has no family, talking to him, and getting to know him, the more interested he's become in peeling off the layers that make up the enigma that is Magnus Bane. 

Alec doesn't know what to say but he looks at Catarina sincerely and nods. "I'll try my best."

"I like you, Alec. You seem nice." she says. "So no pressure." She winks at him and moves back to her seat. Not a second later, Magnus and Ragnor come back with a drinks on each hand.

"No pressure on what?" Magnus asks, taking back his place next to Alec. "This one's from Ragnor." He hands Alec a brownish drink, which Alec later finds out is called a Cuba Libre. "So no pressure on what?" Magnus asks again when neither Catarina nor Alec answer.

Alec opens his mouth to respond but Catarina interrupts. "I told him about you wanting to climb him like a tree." Magnus spits out his drink a little, thanking the gods he was able to stop himself from spraying it all over Alec. Alec reaches for a serviette and gives it to Magnus.

"So no pressure on you when you get to that stage, eh Alec?" Catarina exposes with a big grin on her face as she watches Magnus go red, a bit in embarrassment and from nearly choking. Alec blushes a little but is more focused on Magnus' reaction.

Catarina dodges the balled up tissue that Magnus threw at her when he has finally composed himself but still quite red in the face. He refused to look at Alec who has not averted his gaze from him, an obvious amused smile on his face. "You traitor. He wasn’t supposed to know that."

"Sorry I confused that with the other one you said about wanting to ride him like a ..." Before Catarina could finish Magnus suddenly stands pulling Alec up with him.

"Okay, were gonna dance. Let's go dance." He tells Alec quite quickly, purposefully speaking louder than actually needed even with the music. He pulls Alec away from the table, hearing Catarina and Ragnor laughing hysterically.

 

As soon as they are out of earshot but not quite at the dance floor, Magnus, red in the face and up to his ears, turns to face Alec but keeping his eyes closed. "Please, please, please pretend you didn't hear anything she said."

Magnus feels Alec's hand on his hips and their foreheads connecting. "Hear what?" he hears Alec say.

He slowly opens his eyes to see Alec's smiling face. It was enough to calm him down. He smiles back. "Thank you."

Somehow, they slowly drift to the dance floor. They sway together but to their own music. Neither of them were even aware of what was actually playing.

 

They stare into each other's eyes for what feels like ages before Alec shifts forward slightly making their noses touch but retracts as quickly and just presses his temple to Magnus's forehead before looking away.

Magnus finds his gaze, curious as to why Alec didn't just kiss him, clearly he wanted to. It's not like they haven't kissed yet. Magnus definitely remembers that kiss after their first date. Although they haven't kissed like that since. "What was that?"

Alec shakes his head. "What was what?" He says trying to pretend that didn't just happen. That he didn't just stop himself from making out with Magnus on the very crowded club.

"You looked like you wanted to kiss me." Magnus says, gently pulling Alec's face to make the younger man look at him.

Alec has his eyes closed and when he opens them, Magnus could see a conflicted look on his face. Alec presses their foreheads again. "I do."

"You can, you know. What's stopping you?" Magnus asks unsure of what's happening. Alec not moving away is giving him some kind of reassurance that Alec isn't turned off by him for whatever reason.

"I just... I want to. I do. I really want to kiss you." Alec takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. Magnus feeling the warm air of Alec’s breath, and breathing it in. "I just, I think if I start now, if we start right now, I don't think I'll be able to stop. I won't want to stop." He clutches on the sides of Magnus’ shirt. "And we've both had quite a lot of alcohol tonight. If things escalate..." He closes his eyes again but pulls Magnus closer. It was taking a lot of his energy to restrain himself. "I'd rather my first time with you not be under the influence of alcohol." Alec opens his eyes to see Magnus staring at him. He bites his lower lip as another form of his restraint. "I really like you, Magnus. And I don't just want this to be a physical thing."

Magnus could not ignore the little flutter in his stomach, and the warmth in his heart after hearing what Alec said. Most men or even women he's dated would have jumped at the chance to have sex. Most especially when inebriated. Hell, even he would have done it. He could tell Alec wanted him, as he does Alec. But the younger man restraining himself like this. Magnus could feel he actually cared. He didn't know if it was love. But he knew it was something special. At the very least, they both wanted it to. This was definitely different. It was still too early to tell. But, like Alec, he wanted to see where this goes.

"I do, too. The whole not only physical thing." He bites his lip. "And I really like you, too."

Alec's eyes brighten.

Magnus smiles. "Whoever said chivalry was dead?" He leans in to kiss Alec on the cheek then reluctantly pulls away. He takes Alec's hand and intertwines their fingers pulling him back to their table.

 

When they return, they find Catarina and Ragnor standing up and gathering their things. Both now clearly more than tipsy but maybe not quite drunk.

"Well, look who's no longer a red tomato." She teases and letting out little giggles. Magnus just shakes his head. "You forgot to finish these. It’s rude not to finish them." She hands Magnus and Alec their forgotten drinks.

"We're heading off." Ragnor says as he helps Catarina with her coat. "Unlike you, I have an 8am class tomorrow. Such fun!" He announces sarcastically.

Alec looks at his watch. "It's almost one in the morning."

"Splendid! I have enough time for a night cap and sleep." Says the older man happily. "Maybe two night caps." He shrugs. He looks at Catarina. "What do you say?"

"Sure!" Catarina squints her eyes, fingers in a peace sign and using it to point at Alec and Magnus. "Are you two staying?"

Magnus looks at Alec who raises both eyebrows indicating for Magnus to decide. "I think we'll go, too." Magnus decides.

"Finish those first." Ragnor crosses his hands across his chest and patiently waits. Magnus and Alec look at each other, shrug and clink their glasses before skulling their drinks. Alec grimacing between swallows, while Magnus just easily downs his and finishes the drink ahead of Alec.

Alec gives a little shiver after he finishes his drink. Ragnor and Catarina clapping to applause.

 

********

The two pairs split in opposite directions when they exit the club. Alec has his arm around Magnus' shoulder and Magnus has his around Alec's waist as they walked back to Magnus' loft. Partly because the temperature has dropped and partly because they were both slightly tipsy. And actually because they really wanted to. Both of them silently acknowledging the closeness that has developed even further between them.

"Are you sure you don't want to go home yet?" Magnus asks watching their feet as they walked.

"Is that your subtle way of saying this date is over?" Alec raises one eyebrow questioningly. He didn't want to leave Magnus just yet. And he did not feel even remotely tired even if it was quite late.

Magnus shakes his head. "I'm just saying. In case you have plans tomorrow." He shrugs a little. "I don't mind if you want to go and rest. It's pretty late."

"I'm not tired yet. Maybe still a little tipsy. And I told you I don't have a class. Work doesn't start until 1:30pm tomorrow, so I'm ok hanging out with you." Alec pulls Magnus closer. "You? You're not tired? Or drunk."

"Not really. And I just have one class in the afternoon so I'm okay to hang out." Magnus looks at Alec who gives him a light kiss on the forehead.

 

When they get to Magnus' loft, they find Church sprawled right smack in the middle of the couch and Chairman Meow - as Magnus saw - was sprawled in the middle of his bed. Neither of the cats stirred when they came in.

"It's so nice to have my children greet me when I get home. I feel so missed." Magnus declares sarcastically.

Alec leans on the kitchen counter. "They must really love you." He chuckles. Magnus just shakes his head. Neither of them make a move to get Church off the couch as the cat looked very comfortable and peaceful. That, and because Magnus knew claws will be involved if he tried anything.

He mixes them drinks, hands Alec a glass, then grabs the throw blanket. "Come on. I have an idea."

Alec follows him out of the apartment. They climb the stairs up to the roof, Magnus leading him to the edge and sits by the railings. Alec sits close to him. Magnus wraps the blanket around both their shoulders, their drinks in hand. They sit in silence just watching the city, taking in the quiet chaos of the Brooklyn night life.

"Do you see that empty lot over there?" Magnus points to Alec's right. He sees it beyond a couple of apartment buildings. It appears to be 2 blocks away. "There used to be an apartment building there. It was the first one my parents and I lived in when we got here. Until they passed away." Magnus takes a sip of his drink. "The city council demolished it around 6 years ago."

"You know this neighbourhood well then?" Alec asks. He remembered his conversation with Catarina but stops himself from asking Magnus about his parents.

Magnus nods. "I think that's why I bought the loft. It's familiar. Like home."

Alec looked surprised. "The loft is yours?"

"Yes." Magnus smiles. He tells Alec about his deal with his old boss from Pandemonium to buy the loft. That he was still paying for it. About fixing it up from a dump to what it is now. No wonder Magnus had to work a lot. And while studying, too.

Alec felt impressed, if not a little intimidated. He knew Magnus was older, but he seems to have done so much, achieved so much in his life. Alec wondered if he can even do half of it. He hasn't even really thought about what he really wanted to do in his life. Being told to become a lawyer all his life didn't count.

Alec is finding that he liked hearing Magnus' voice. It was mesmerizing the way he told stories. He enjoyed Magnus recounting to him stories about his friends, and the loft. Magnus has told him his first kiss was with a girl named Etta who used to live in the same apartment building (now empty lot) that he pointed out. She was Magnus' first friend in America but she moved away a year after they had moved in.

"It happened in the playground at that park near here." Magnus says with a childish smile on his face.

"Was it good?" Alec asks teasingly.

Magnus laughs. "It was very nice. Although at the time, I didn't know that was called a kiss. She was definitely my first crush. Puppy love and all that." He shook his head laughing at himself, Alec laughing with him.

"You..." Alec starts after their laughter dies down. "You also like girls? Women?" His voice unsure if he should have asked the question.

Magnus looks at him, waits for him to look back. When they make eye contact, he sees Magnus swallow, nervous even. "Is it... Is it an issue? That I'm bisexual?"

The corner of Alec's mouth rises to a smile. He shakes his head. "No. Not really. No." Alec takes his hand and squeezes it.

Magnus leans his head on Alec's shoulder, the tension he felt earlier dissipating. "Who was your first kiss?" he asks Alec.

Alec stares at nothing, staying silent for a bit. "Aline." Magnus moves back slightly, one eyebrow raised, waiting for Alec to continue. "Only to prove to me that I was gay. She already knew her preference and clearly more on to it with mine that I was." Alec shaking his head chuckles. "It was weird. We promised never to speak of it again."

They stay on the roof talking for the rest of the night until Magnus falls asleep on Alec's shoulder just as the sun was rising. Alec carries him back bridal style to the loft. Chairman Meow must have gotten up and went somewhere else when they were up on the roof.

Magnus doesn't stir, only curling up into a fetal position when Alec sets him down, gently and carefully putting him on the bed. He pulls the covers over Magnus then writes a note for Magnus to call him when he wakes up. He places it on the bedside table. He gives Magnus a soft kiss on the forehead then leaves the loft grabbing a cab back to his place. He hasn't slept all night but he has never felt more energetic in his life.

Chapter Text

Time flies by, and they have now been dating for around two months. And while they haven't gone out on their third official date - what with both their class and work requirements getting busier - they have been meeting almost every day in campus either for coffee or study dates especially with mid-terms coming up.

Most often they'd meet at the Main Library because it had more private study tables and more space. Other times they would meet at Java Jones. On sunny days they'd sit out on the grass where they'd had their second almost first kiss. Sometimes Magnus would hang out at Alec's place since his loft was too far from the university.

While Alec loved their first two dates and would love to go on more, he also realised he preferred these every day moments they're increasingly sharing. Because he gets to find out Magnus' little quirks.

For example, when Magnus is really concentrating, he would bite his lower lip. When he's memorising something, he fiddles with his pen with a rhythm, and his fingers appear to be doing some kind of dance routine. His notes are colour coded that only he understands and his handwriting is very elegant even if he writes really quickly. Alec believed it was mandatory for doctors and future doctors to have illegible handwriting. Apparently it's not.

One of the habits he didn't like was Magnus forgetting to eat his meals especially when he's really focused on studying. Alec has had to remind him several times to at least have a snack. But, Alec found, Magnus also stress eats. Particularly when there was a topic he could not wrap his head around or when he is stressing. This happened very rarely. Magnus - Alec realised - is actually at the top of his class.

This week was particularly going to be stressful for Magnus. He had three exams, one each for Monday and Tuesday and the last on Friday. This meant that they could not meet at all. Alec understood that Magnus really needed to concentrate and didn't pressure for them to meet up. Not that he - Alec - was a distraction, but Magnus needed all the study time he could get. Magnus had apologised, he really did want for them to see each other. Alec assured him it was ok. He had his own assignments and projects to finish, anyway.

They hadn't seen each other since Friday the week prior, only texting from time to time. Magnus sent Alec pictures of his various study stages whenever he took a break. Alec had made it a point to send Magnus reminders to eat.


On Tuesday morning, Izzy texted Alec letting him know their father was in town on Wednesday night before leaving on another business trip with their mother. This only meant Alec had to drive home for a family dinner. He wasn't looking forward to it. Dinners with his parents usually felt more like a business meeting. All four siblings had to report about their grades and extra-curricular activities they're doing in school.

For Alec, he had to report about school and his finances. Yes, finances. Because Robert Lightwood was all about the business and the deals. His children were not exempt. Since Alec turned 18, Robert made him invest his savings to let him 'learn the ropes' of the corporate world. This was also part of their deal in letting him take the gap year. Alec didn't really mind the investing part - he quite liked the inner workings of business. He just didn't like having to 'report' it. He felt more like an employee than a son. Not to mention, his father also kept asking him about his application to Law School. Alec knows he's been putting it off. He knew he needed to go to law school, because it was what he was told, it was what he was destined to do. Lately, he's been thinking if it was what he wanted.

Alec pulled into the driveway of his parents' house late afternoon on Wednesday. His parents weren't home yet. Jace still had football practice and Izzy had Martial Arts class so they were going to arrive a little later. He knew Max was due to arrive soon from school. He goes straight to the kitchen and finds Mrs Milligan, their housekeeper, preparing their dinner.

"Hi, Mrs M." He greets her while grabbing a mandarin from the fruit bowl and proceeds to peel it.

"Hello, Little Alec." The woman was thin and very tall. Her black hair is tied up in a bun, her round eyes glinting through her thick-rimmed glasses, a smile on her face. Alec liked the nickname she has given him.

She started working for his family when his parents became too busy with work to take care of Alec and his siblings. His nickname stuck even when he had his growth spurt and was actually now around a head taller than her. "I think you are still growing taller every day."

Alec chortles then eating the whole mandarin in his mouth in one go. "You know my goal is to be taller than you."

Mrs Milligan lets out a hearty laugh as she washes the vegetables. Alec gets up to help her with the meal preparations.

"Little Alec, you know your father does not like you doing this cooking business. He wants you to study to be a lawyer." She says, giving him a wink.

"We shouldn't let him find out then." Alec retorts with a grin.

When he was younger, Alec used to help his mom with baking. That was when she still baked. Then she stopped. Because she was too busy. Alec then started to help Mrs Milligan in the kitchen. When he was old enough, he insisted he cook the meals for him and his siblings, giving the housekeeper more time to rest. It was a big house, and she had a lot of things to do.

Robert was not happy when he found out about Alec's little hobby. They had a long talk about how he should be concentrating on his studies, and focus on 'their' dream of him becoming a lawyer like his parents. Not playing house and doing the housekeeper's job. His place was in the office, not the kitchen. His father would say. Alec didn't protest. But he still continued to cook in secret. It wasn't difficult since his parents were not home often anyway.


The front door slamming and a patter of feet let Alec know Max has just gotten home. The younger Lightwood must have seen Alec's car in the driveway as he bolted up the stairs shouting his big brother's name, probably going to Alec's old room. Alec let him do the searching. When Max realised no one was upstairs, he ran down still shouting Alec's name and into the kitchen.

"Alec!" Max shouted and slammed into his brother, hugging him around the waist.

"Hey buddy." Alec greets him, squeezing Max with his elbows as his hands were currently dipping chicken in batter. "How was school?"

"I didn't set anything on fire." Max explains defensively.

Alec's eyebrows goes up. "I didn't say you did." He looks at Max who has now trudged along to one of the bar stools on the opposite side of the kitchen island where Alec and Mrs Milligan were working. "Max?"

The little boy sighs. "I got told off by my Chemistry teacher because of the smoke in the lab." Alec waits for him to continue. "It wasn't me, I swear. I was only following the instructions on the book. How was I to know two pages got stuck together and I ended up mixing the wrong chemicals?"

"Did you get in trouble?" He looks at a dejected Max.

"I'm on lab clean up for a week." Max throws his hands up in the air like it was the end of the world. "Please don't tell Mom and Dad."

"Tell them what?" Alec winks at Max then looks at Mrs Milligan. "Did we hear anything, Mrs M?"

The older woman shrugs. "All I know is I am slicing the potatoes." She and Alec smile at Max who looked less troubled.


Jace and Izzy arrive an hour later. Jace dumping his bag on the kitchen floor and huffing towards the fridge to grab a drink, clearly pissed.

"What's wrong with him?" Alec asks Izzy, cocking his head to indicate to his brother.

Izzy waits until Jace grabs his bag and walks off to his room. "Well, lunch time in the cafeteria, some of the guys from the football team were picking on Simon - you know, that guy in our class who loves movies and has a band? Well, he was distributing flyers for his band's gig. And Jace tried to stop the guys. Then this new girl, I didn't catch her name, seemed to be good friends with Simon, stepped in thinking it was Jace who was picking on him and they got into an argument."

She sat beside Max. "It was explosive. And the tiny redhead really put Jace in his place, even if, you know, he wasn't in the wrong. And he's been pissed off since which distracted him during football practice, so he got in trouble with the coach and now that." She pointed to Jace's general direction with her thumb.

"This is gonna be a fun dinner." Alec mumbles.

It didn't take long for Jace to cool off. He came back into the kitchen. Alec, Max and Izzy were sharing a pottle of yoghurt. Mrs Milligan had gone to finish the rest of the laundry while Alec looked after the food in the oven. Jace grabbed a spoon and joined his siblings at the counter.

"You okay now?" Alec nudges him on the shoulder.

Jace takes a big spoonful of yoghurt and shoves it in his mouth. "Yup. Couldn't be better. Coach gave me a beating today cause my head was not in the game. All because of a tiny redhead who is incredibly infuriating. She accused me of bullying. Me. I don't bully. And Simon is a cool guy. Why would I bully him? Why would I bully anybody? I’m a nice guy. I hate bullies." He shoves another spoonful in his mouth, swallows and sighs. All his questions were rhetorical so the others just wait for him to start again. "Ok. Now, I'm ok. Please can we not tell dad about football practice?"

"Agreed." The other three say in unison. Max told them about the chemistry incident which is also not to be mentioned. They have all now made a habit of convening before a family dinner to vent to each other, help each other, and mainly to agree which ones to tell their parents and which ones not to.

"One of us is bound to have good news though." Max says a tinge of hope in his voice.

Alec and Izzy look at each other.

"Well, I can tell him my debate team is going to regionals. Cause we are." Izzy sounded unsure so her brothers wait for her to continue. "But it's on the same weekend as my martial arts comp and I really want to go to that."

"We all know dad's gonna make you go to the debate." Alec rolls his eyes.

Izzy prods the yoghurt with her spoon. "I don't like debate. I'm not allowed to punch anybody. Even if their arguments are stupid."

Her brothers all chuckle. Alec patting her on the back. "Maybe, we just tell dad that you got into both and not tell him when they are happening."

"If he asks?"

"We deflect." Alec gives her a reassuring smile. "I can tell him I cooked dinner."

"Alec, no." All three protested. They all know Robert would go on another tirade about his dislike of Alec’s hobby.

Alec shook his head. "It's fine. It won't come to that." He pulled them into a huddle. "Jace you tell him football is going alright as usual and that the coach is only challenging you to do your best. Max, tell him you were recognised for your innovation in your chemistry class. Izzy, you know what to say." He sighs. "Got it?"

His younger siblings all nod. "What about you?" Max asks.

Alec ruffles his hair. "Don't worry about me, bud. I'll be okay." Alec gives him a small smile to reassure him.


Dinner started promptly at 7:30pm. There was silence apart from the clinking of cutlery on plates. Maryse starts to ask them her usual 'how are you, dears' before they all promptly answer that they are all okay.

Halfway through the meal, Robert begins the meeting updates. Jace starts about football. Robert is quite fond and proud of his adoptive son's athletic abilities. Football was also a big thing among his clients, so having a son talented enough in the sport who can quite possibly qualify for college football is very good for his image. Then next comes Izzy who update him about her extracurricular activities.

"You'll crush them at the debate," was all Robert said. The siblings all looked at each other, breaths held thinking their father might ask further questions. He didn't so they all relaxed.

Max's turn comes next, in which Robert just gives a little "hnn" to acknowledge it. Maryse at least gives the boy a small pat on the head and says, "That's very good, dear."

Robert wipes his mouth on his napkin then looks at Alec. "And you?"

Alec concentrates on cutting his chicken. "I'm doing alright." He starts. He knew his father will not be satisfied with that so he continues. "The stocks are doing well. They've made profit over the last quarter."

Robert just nods. "I'm paying good money for you to go to that business school. It's good to apply what you're learning."

Alec doesn't react. He's not expected to anyway. He just continues eating.

"I saw my old classmate during the gala in Monaco last week." Robert proudly tells Alec. He knew his father's question was just a warm up. He braced himself. "His wife is the Dean of admissions in Harvard Law. Never too early to make connections. I told her to expect you application soon. "

Alec found it hard to swallow. He took a small sip of water. "You want me to go to Boston?"

Robert smiled. "It's one, if not THE best law school in the country. Your place is practically guaranteed. You just need to hand in your application." That was a statement, not a question.

Alec gripped his knife tighter. His thoughts suddenly drift to Magnus. If he moved to Boston, they'd have to be separated. And he knew they haven't been dating that long but the thought of not seeing him, not living in the same city, gave him a bitter taste in his mouth. "Columbia Law is great, too. And I won't have to move." He blurts out.

The whole room fell silent, tension in the air. It was a small remark. But it was a form of defiance. And no one ever defied Robert Lightwood.

Robert takes in an audible breath and stares at Alec. "Yes. Columbia is good, too." He starts to chuckle which confuses everyone. They certainly were not expecting that reaction. He gives Alec a light punch on the bicep, everyone relaxes. "I knew you were thinking about your future." He laughs out loud clapping Alec on the shoulder a few times.

Alec forces a smile. So do his siblings.

"You always make us proud, Alec." his mother adds, a big smile on her face.

And there it was. The 'make us proud' remark that he never really understood exactly what it meant. Initially he thought it had to do with him getting good grades in school, or winning medals in competitions or leading the student council. He did all those. But it was never enough. So now maybe it meant him getting into law school the taking over the company.

Alec just nods. Something still caught in his throat. The more he gets asked, no, told about law school, the more he feels this uneasiness at the pit of his stomach. He knows he can't delay it any longer. He was about to finish his sophomore year in pre-Law. He has to start the applications soon, reviewing for law admissions tests, networking with law professors to get recommendations, anything that will help with his application.

"And is that what you want to do?" Magnus' question from their first date resonates in his mind. Since then he has started to think about it. Was it what he wanted to do? Or was it just so ingrained in his mind after being told it was what he was going to become - a corporate lawyer, take over the company. Deep down he knew the answer was no. So what do I want to do? He thinks to himself. He didn't have an answer to that either.


********
These thoughts continued to swirl around in his mind even when he gets back to his apartment. He sat on the couch, staring at his phone for a long time contemplating if he should text Magnus. He hadn't heard from his since after lunch. He's probably studying. I shouldn't interrupt. He throws his phone on the couch and heads for the kitchen. He needed to clear his mind so he decides to do some baking. It was too late to cook, but anything that has to do with the kitchen always calmed him down.

One and a half hours later, he ends up with banofee pie and some custard slices in the fridge. He still didn't calm down. He's in the middle of cleaning up all the baking stuff he used when his phone beeps. He dries his hands and walks over to the couch. He smiles when he sees who the text is from. He opens the message.

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Are you awake?

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Yes. Still awake. How's studying?

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
I need a short distraction.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Is that all I am now then? :(

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
What? No! That's not all you are. I didn't mean to imply that. I'm sorry. :((

He starts to type a reply but decides against it and calls Magnus instead. It takes two rings before he gets an answer.

"Alexander?" Magnus' voice sounded unsure. "I'm sorry about the..."

"Magnus, it's ok." Alec interrupts him. "I was kidding. And even if I am a distraction, I really don't mind. So how may I be of service?"

"Hepatology is killing me." Magnus whines. "It's destroying my brain cells."

"Hepa what?" Alec asks. Due to their study sessions, he's become familiar with some medical terms. He finds a lot of the words amusing. Magnus is more than willing to 'dumb it down' (Alec's words not Magnus') and explain things to him.

"Liver stuff." Magnus explains. "I hate it right now. I hate livers." Alec could hear the pout in his voice. Magnus, Alec has found, also goes through these periods of love and hate with subjects or topics he is studying.

"But livers are important." Alec volunteers the information. "For example my liver cleared all that alcohol that you gave me during our date. Allowing you to give me more alcohol in the future." He could hear Magnus laugh out loud and he starts to feel warm inside. Whatever it was that was bothering him has now dissipated. He felt a lot calmer.

They'd talked for a couple more minutes before he lets Magnus go back to studying. He looks to the fridge then to his phone, Magnus' name still on his screen. He quickly finishes cleaning up, puts ice in the cooler and grabs the banofee pie (easier to transport than the custard slices) from the fridge and gently places it in the icebox. He picks up his keys and makes his way to the car.

He wanted to see Magnus. Hearing his voice wasn't enough. He needed to see the man. Even if just briefly. He knows Magnus still needs to study. I just need to drop off the pie, see him for a bit then go home. He tells himself.

 

******
It was already close to 11pm which meant traffic to Brooklyn wasn't too bad. He arrived at Magnus' loft just before 11.30pm. He hesitated to press the button, even turned around a couple of times. What if Magnus asks him to leave? He convinces himself that that was ok. Because he still gets to see Magnus. He turns around again, but before he can press the buzzer, one of the residents in Magnus' building arrives and lets him in. Alec murmurs his thanks then runs up the stairs taking them two at a time.

He pauses in front of the door to catch his breath and calm himself down. He knocks, then winces when he thinks his knock may have sounded too frantic. He rocks on the balls of his feet as he waits for Magnus to answer. He squares his shoulders when he hears the chain unlock, unable to suppress the grin escaping his lips. As soon as the door opens, it slams shut again and Alec is left there, alone, with his mouth open.


******
Magnus has been doing nothing but study for the past week. He was glad two of his exams were out of the way. But the last one was going to be the toughest. He was already feeling tired and definitely stressed. He'd spent most of his day studying after his early class this morning. He hasn't seen Alec in days, not even at campus.

So when his brain was telling him he'd had enough of studying tonight, he decided to text Alec. He certainly was not expecting a call. Although he was very thankful for it. Somehow hearing Alec's voice made him less stressed. It was a brief conversation but it was precious. It was enough to re-energise him. After they ended their phone conversation, Magnus made himself his umpteenth cup of coffee.

He sat cross-legged on the floor, his back to the couch. All his study materials strewn all over the coffee table and the floor. He tied up his hair to a tiny pony tail on the front to keep it from going to his eyes. He put his glasses on and went back to studying. He only ever wore them when he studied. Alec was quite surprised when he found out Magnus wore glasses. Although he commented it was cute. (In reality, Alec wanted to say it was sexy.)

Half an hour later he heard a knock on the door. It was late so he wondered who it could be. He was sure he didn't hear the buzzer. He got up anyway. He wouldn't be surprised if it was his neighbour Mrs Vardebedian who always asks him for help with so many things like changing a lightbulb or moving her cabinets. He doubts it was going to be the latter at this hour.

He pads to the door, not bothering to fix himself up. He was so tired he really didn't care about his looks especially in front of the old lady. When he opens the doors, he sees Alec standing there and panics. Eyes going wide, a tiny squeal escapes from his throat and he slams the door.

His heart beat goes faster and he sees his face on the mirror near the foyer. It was red. And he looked like a mess. He had one of his loose sleep shirts on, not one of his best pajama bottoms and no make-up on. Not that Alec hasn't seen him without make up, but Magnus looked like a mess from studying all day.

Realising that it was probably rude of him to have slammed the door in Alec's face - still unsure what he was doing at Magnus' apartment this late - he took the ponytail off and tried to styles his hair as best as he can. It was hopeless. He straightened his clothes, composed himself and slowly opened the door.

Alec was already halfway down the hall to the stairs.

"Alexander, wait." Magnus calls out. The other man stops and turns around, anxiety clear on his face. Magnus walks to him leaving the door open. "What are you doing here?" Magnus smiled at him, trying to make up for his rudeness.

"I..." Alec stutters, blinking a couple of times as he tries to find the words. "I thought I should bring you this." He shoves the small cooler to Magnus' hands. "It's, um, banofee pie. That I made. Uh, a couple of hours ago." He puts his hand up to brush his hair but seems to change his mind halfway so he puts it down awkwardly to his hip then into his back pocket.

Magnus looks at the cooler he's now holding then back at Alec. "You brought me freshly made pie in the middle of the night?"

Alec swallows then let's out a nervous chuckle. "I guess I did." He shakes his head. "Sorry, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I shouldn't have come. I just wanted to see you. But you're busy studying. I should go." He turns around and makes for the stairs but Magnus grabs him by the elbow.

"Please stay." Magnus pleads taking Alec's hand and leading him back to the apartment. Alec opened his mouth to protest but Magnus interrupts him. "It's fine, Alexander. I want you to stay."


Magnus leads Alec back to the apartment. Alec walks to the lounge, careful not to disturb Magnus' study area, while Magnus goes to the kitchen to sort out the pie and fix Alec a drink. Neither of the cats were in the house tonight.

"So how was your day?" Magnus calls from the kitchen.

Alec shrugs before answering. "Pretty average. My parents are in town so we had a family dinner."

"That's nice." Magnus says while he re-boils the kettle. "Do they go out of town often?"

"Yeah. Business meetings and stuff." Alec replies a slight disinterest in his voice.

Magnus picks up on this. He had an inkling Alec was not close with his parents. Alec mentioned on their first date that his dad could be quite tough. So he probes further. "So how did dinner go?"

Alec shrugs again. "The usual. My dad asked us to report our achievements but giving us as little praise as possible. Then he asked me about law school."

"What'd you say?" Magnus is treading carefully. He wanted Alec to talk about what happened at dinner. He can now see that something was bothering Alec. But he wanted Alec to be comfortable telling him.

"He practically told me I was going to Harvard." Magnus froze. Alec going to Harvard would mean he will be moving away. Away from Magnus. Magnus didn't like the thought of that. But he doesn't say anything and lets Alec continue. "I told him Columbia is also an option. That way I don't have to move."

Magnus relaxes. "What did he say?"

Alec sits back on the couch. "He seemed to buy it." He looks over to the kitchen where Magnus is standing, only now realising that he has been there for a while. "What are you doing there?"

"Making you a hot drink. Tea or coffee?"

"Coffee, please." Alec twiddles the tassel on one of Magnus' cushions.

"And would you like a slice?" Magnus calls from the kitchen.

"I'm good thank you." Alec answers. "The pie's for you." He peeks at Magnus' notes on the desk. There was a page of just doodles which told him Magnus probably did that when he got bored earlier this evening.

Magnus returns with one slice of pie but two forks. He hands one to Alec then the mug of coffee. "You're not letting me eat this alone." He says, sitting beside Alec with his legs folded in underneath him. He offers the plate to Alec but the other man gestures for him to start.

"I'm not actually sure if the caramel consistency is right. It's only the second time I've made it. And the first time did not turn out well." Alec admits still waiting for Magnus to start. He takes a big gulp of his coffee. "I probably should have thought this through before I brought it here."

"I'm sure it's fine." Magnus says digging his fork in and getting a good bite-size.

Alec anxiously waits for the verdict. He takes another gulp of his coffee and makes a tiny space on the coffee table to place it down on. As soon as Magnus eats a piece, his face contorts in what looks like disgust and Alec panics. "Is it that bad?"

"Um... No it's good." Magnus responds, giving Alec a mischievous smile. Alec deflates, letting out a relieved sigh. "Now you know how it feels." Magnus singsongs, happy that he's gotten Alec back for those tiny jokes he'd pulled on their dates.

"I deserve that. And I have learned my lesson." Alec gives a slight bow to apologise. "So you like it?"

"I love it!" Magnus beams taking another forkful in his mouth. "The caramel and the banana make a good balance." He lets out a satisfied sound. “You’re not only a good cook, you’re a great baker, too.” He pauses. “Master Baker?” He winks at Alec who blushes at the innuendo.

Alec is happy that his baking was not a failure. He takes another sip of his coffee then places it back. When he puts his fork up to get a piece of the pie, Magnus moves the plate away. "What? You said to not let you eat alone. I’m helping."

Magnus shakes his head. "Nope. I changed my mind. This is too good."

"Come on. Just a tiny bit. I haven’t tasted it yet." Alec moves forward and Magnus leans back, moving the plate further away.

"Nope. You get your own slice. This is mine." Magnus kept moving back, giggling a little. “Magnus doesn’t share food.” He quotes Joey from the show 'Friends', jokingly, while shuffling his bottom further back and away from Alec.

Alec following him until Magnus couldn't move anymore because his legs are folded and he falls back on the couch, arm stretched above his head with the plate. Alec falls on top of him, managing to grab the back of the couch so as not to totally crush Magnus. They end up with their face inches from the other.

They both stare at each other, breathing heavy. Magnus holding the plate up above his head purely on instinct. He doesn't even realise the awkward fold of his legs on the couch. Because right now, his brain has short-circuited. All he can see are Alec's eyes. All he can feel is Alec's breath on his face, Alec's body on his. And if he protruded his lips even just slightly, it would come in contact with Alec's soft lips.

Alec, keeping their gaze locked, reaches his free hand up and forward to guide Magnus' hand holding the plate onto the side table beside the sofa. Then he kissed him, slowly at first and becoming more passionate. Forks now dropped on the floor.

Alec starts sucking lightly on Magnus' bottom lip then the top. He could taste the sweetness of the caramel in Magnus' mouth. Magnus puts his arm around Alec's neck pulling him closer. He licks Alec's bottom lip and Alec responds by kissing him deeper. The younger man no longer holding himself up with his hand on the back of the couch, he lets his body fully rest on top of Magnus, trapping both Magnus' legs between his. When he shifts, their hips press further together making Magnus moan.

He starts trailing kisses down Magnus' jaw line, up to his earlobe, suckling at the soft flesh, making Magnus buck his hip up, their crotches rubbing against each other. The material of Magnus' pyjama bottoms is thin and Alec could feel him half-hard through the fabric. This only encouraged him to kiss Magnus further, make him moan in pleasure. Alec himself was starting to stir inside his jeans, feeling it become tighter.

Magnus' fingers find their way into Alec's hair, his other hand grasping on Alec's back trying to pull him closer. Alec goes back to Magnus' lips, kissing him even deeper than before. Their kisses go longer, becoming more passionate, more heated.

"Alexander," Magnus says with a gasp. The voice of reason trying to surface from his mind. Alec doesn't respond, continuing to kiss and suck Magnus' neck.

"Alex... Ander," he tries again, gasping when Alec sucked particularly hard on the skin at the crook of his neck. "I think. I think we need to..." He swallows. "We need to stop." Even as he says that, he leans his head further to the side to give Alec more access to his neck. "Because we... Need to stop. Oh…" His reasoning skills become non-existent when Alec sucks another spot on his neck, his hand finding its way up Magnus’ shirt caressing his stomach.

"Ok." Alec says not really meaning it as he captures Magnus' lips again, grinding their hips together. Magnus lets out a high-pitched moan, one hand pulling Alec close by his shirt, and the other pushing him off. Alec smiles into the kiss when he feels Magnus' conflict of wanting to pull him in or push him away. He deepens the kiss further, pushing his tongue deep into Magnus' mouth, his hand snaking further up Magnus’ torso. Magnus lets out a small cry, Alec a moan.

They both obviously want this to continue. But now was not the time. Magnus cursed his logical brain which reminded him that he still had an exam to study for. He hated his brain right now. Hated it with a vengeance.

When they finally come apart for air, both their breathing is heavy. Magnus' hands are clenched into fists but he still has them against Alec's chest, pushing him back slightly. Alec takes this as his cue, moves off him and sits back on the couch. Magnus sits up and folds his knees to his chest to hide his bulge. He knew Alec noticed and appreciated that he didn't say anything.

They look at each other, both unable to stop a happy grin from escaping, until it develops into a chuckle.

When it dies down, Alec gets up and straightens his clothes. "I think I'll go." He inhales deeply then slowly releases it. "I'll leave you to your studying." Magnus, biting his left thumbnail, nods.

Alec leans in, pauses, then gives him a peck on the cheek. As he pulls up, Magnus grabs him by the collar and kisses him on the lips, letting Alec pull him upright until his knees are resting on the couch. He pushes Alec back gently, a small guilty smile on his lips.

Alec balled his fists which were now both resting on either side of Magnus' hips. "You've really made it even more difficult for me to go."

"Sorry." Magnus says but Alec knew he really didn't mean it. "I just thought, I should thank you for visiting me tonight. And for the pie."

Alec chuckles. "Thank you for not turning me away."

"I'll never turn you away, Alexander." Alec raises an eyebrow and Magnus realises their current situation. "I will never turn you away depending on the circumstances." He corrects himself. "But please know that I do want this. Want you."

Alec nods. "I know. I want you, too." Alec starts to lean in but decides against it. He opts to take Magnus hand and brings it to up to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss on his knuckles. "Call me when you finish your exam."

Magnus nods, giving Alec's hand a last squeeze before they both reluctantly let go. He follows Alec to the door at a distance.

As soon as Alec steps out of the apartment, he turns to look at Magnus. "Hey, you know those cooking classes you talked about. The one your friend runs?"

"Luke's restaurant." Magnus affirms. "You've thought about it?"

"Can you call in that favour?" Alec asks with a small smile.

Magnus beams at him. "Of course." Alec gives him a curt nod as a thank you. "What changed?" Magnus inquires, wonder in his voice.

Alec shrugs. "I don't know. But I want to try it." He gives the doorframe a last tap and uses it to push himself off. "Goodnight, Magnus. Happy studying."

"Goodnight, Alexander."

Alec walks off, looking back several times, smiling at Magnus who is watching him from the doorway until he turns the corner down to the stairs.

He wasn't sure about what's changed. If it was tonight's baking, or the drive to Magnus' place, or seeing Magnus, talking to Magnus, kissing Magnus. Or it could be completely unrelated at all. He just knew that it was something he wanted to try. And no one was forcing him to do it.

Sure, Magnus gave him the idea. But he gave Alec his space to make his own decision. His own decision alone, with no pressure. And no expectations. And for the first time in a long time, Alec felt he made a decision for himself about something that he wanted to do. Something he could control.

 

Chapter Text

On any given Friday, Alec would usually get up around eight or nine o'clock. He would get on the spin bike or treadmill for half an hour. On a nice day, he would go for a short run around the campus. Or play a couple of ends in Archery to work on his form and to make his mind focus. Then he would take a shower and have breakfast. He only had two classes on Fridays, and the first one didn't start until ten thirty. He pretty much had Friday afternoons off, depending on whether or not he had a shift at the café. But that is not the point on this particular Friday. Because this particular Friday did not start the way it usually did.

The root cause of the change in routine, Alec feels, all started on Wednesday night, when he went over to Magnus' loft. Alec did not intend for things to get hot and heavy with Magnus when he decided to visit him that night. But things did, and now he could not get it out of his mind. Magnus still had his last exam so they haven't really seen each other since then.

It didn't help that throughout the day on Thursday, Magnus has sent him several pictures every time he ate a slice of the banoffee pie. It wasn't that Magnus was even sending him any seductive or even remotely suggestive pictures. Alec has come to the conclusion that he – Alec – had a perverted mind.

Last night, he finally got himself under control or so he told himself. His thoughts instead drifting to the fact that he was now dating the man of his dreams. Correction, Magnus is so much better than he's dreamed of. This gave him a warm feeling in his chest. He has never felt so happy getting to know someone, being with them, talking with them and it can only get better.

Alec drifted off to sleep peacefully, with a smile on his face. Of course when one sleeps, one dreams. And the subject of Alec's dream that night was Magnus. The man of his dreams. The man of his very vivid dreams. The man of his very vivid wet dreams.

Alec woke with a start as his cell phone beeped twice indicating he received a message. He was sweaty all over but that was the least of his problems. He sighed and willed himself to relax.

"Keep it together, Alec." He told himself. "You're not some horny teenager. You weren't even like this when you were a teenager." He paused. "Great. I'm talking to myself now." He rubbed his face with his hands then grabbed his cell phone from the nightstand. He held it high up with both hands as he lay on his back, blinking a couple of times to wake himself up. The clock on his phone said it was only six in the morning.

The messages were from Magnus. Alec was used to this by now. Magnus usually sent him 'Good Morning' messages especially when he had an early class.

Today's "Good morning" message was preceded by a picture. A picture message of Magnus in bed, hair dishevelled, face devoid of make-up and partly hidden by his pillow. He had a soft smile, his eyes piercing and alluring as he looked into the lens. From the angle, he appeared to have slept shirtless, and Alec could see the toned muscle of his bicep. Magnus' just-woke-up-look looked very sexy. And he was a tease. Alec dropped his phone on his face hitting him square on the nose.

"Ow!" He exclaimed as he rubbed his nose, eyes closed and nose stinging from the pain, his cell phone had fallen somewhere on the bed. It's not like he hasn't seen Magnus like this before. Because he has, on their first date – albeit he was fully clothed. And they were on his couch, pressed up against each other. Alec stopped himself before his thoughts went any wilder.

Once the pain has subsided, he felt around the bed for his phone and composed himself.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Good morning to you, too. Is that how you're greeting me in the morning from now on?

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
It depends. Do you like it?
I'm surprised you're awake this early on a Friday.

Alec blushed. And when he realised he blushed, he blushed even more. It's not like anyone could see that he was blushing but he got embarrassed anyway.

This is ridiculous. He thought. Because today, he was acting like a teenager who has just fallen in love for the first time. Love. Could it be? It couldn’t. Could it? Magnus certainly makes Alec happy and feel all kinds of things he's never felt before. But isn't it too early to tell if it is love? How does one even know that one’s in love? Nope. He stopped his brain. Not now. He's going to shelf that thought for later processing. Right now, he needed to concentrate on flirting.

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
I think I like it too much. I might get addicted.

Alec chose to ignore that last comment from Magnus, reminded of his dream. He could make something up but his brain was too distracted by the photo he just saw to be able to come up with anything convincing. Plus, he really didn't want to lie to Magnus.

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Is that a bad thing?

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
Depends. How often am I going to get these types of 'good mornings'?

He felt a little smug with how well he was flirting. He's not even nervous at all.

[From: Magnus \(^_^)/]
How often do you want them?

[To: Magnus \(^_^)/]
How often would you do them?

There was no reply. Not even those three dots to indicate that Magnus was composing a reply. Alec's heart started to race. Did he take it too far? He was about to send an apology when he receives ten successive picture messages. All of Magnus - smiling, winking, blowing an air kiss, biting his lower lip. Alec's brain overloaded. He definitely wasn't expecting that. He didn't even finish looking at all of them. He dropped his phone on the bed, groaned and let out a defeated chuckle, burying his face into his pillow.

After a few minutes, when his brain has regained some semblance of control, he felt for his phone around the bed. He dialled Magnus' number and brought his phone to his ear. His face still buried in the pillow. If blushes stained, his pillow would be soaking red right now.

Magnus answered after one ring. "Good morning, Alexander." His voice was chirpy. And mischievous. It annoyed Alec - in a good way.

"That's not fair." He mumbled.

"What's not fair, darling?" Magnus asked faking ignorance.

Alec let out a half sob, half chuckle, but he can't wipe that damn smile off his face. "Magnus..."

"Oh fine." Magnus gave in. "I won't flood you with my gorgeous pictures like that again." He let out a laugh.

Alec sits up on the bed, his back on the head board and decides to change the subject. "What time's your exam?"

"It doesn't start until 1 o'clock. It’s for 3 hours," Magnus replied. Alec could hear a rustling of sheets and then the sound of a door opening. Magnus must have just come out of his room. "But I'll be in campus around ten for a tutorial session. I might do a bit of studying here first."

Alec's heart sank a little. He was hoping they would be able to meet before his class started or before Magnus' exam. There was no chance of them seeing each other today, since Alec had bowling night with his siblings. By the time Magnus finishes his exam, Alec would be driving to pick up his siblings. "I should let you go then. Text me later?"

"No, it's okay. We can still ta... Church no!" Magnus suddenly shouted then Alec heard hurried footsteps and a lot of movement. "Sorry. Church nearly ripped my notes." Magnus sounded short of breath, probably from the panic and from running after the cat. "Church, stop it." Alec could hear his stern voice then a sigh. "Sorry. I have to go."

"Magnus, it's okay. Don't be sorry." Alec reassured him. "Are you alright? Are your notes alright?"

"Yes. I’m ok. And so are the notes. Thank goodness." Magnus let out a sigh of relief. "But he's still edgy so I might calm him down a little. He's in a mood. I'll talk to you later? I'm really sorry."

"Magnus, it's fine. Just get Church sorted. Text me when you're free, okay?"

"Okay." He heard Magnus sigh, like one of those worried ones he's seen him do during their study dates.

"Hey. Good luck on your exam. You'll ace it. I'm sure." Alec said this with a smile on his face. He could only hope that Magnus can hear his support.

"Thank you, Alexander." Magnus' voice sounded calmer now. "That really means a lot."

Alec flops down on the bed as soon as they hang up. He goes through the pictures again saving his favourites on his phone, which means all of them. He's now got a folder full of Magnus' pictures on his phone since he’s also been saving the ones Magnus sends to him during his commute. He looks at the first one Magnus sent this morning, using his thumb to trace Magnus' face on the screen a little smile escaping his lips. Then decides to make it his wallpaper.


*******
His day goes about pretty much the usual way from then. He may have taken a longer run around campus because he had excess energy – courtesy of a certain medical student - and an even longer time in the shower than usual because he had excess energy and if he used cold water to shower, it was because he was too hot from his run. (Of course, Alec.)

He didn't hear from Magnus since their conversation in the morning, not even the usual messages during Magnus' commute. Alec figured he was doing some last minute studying on the train and he wasn't about to disturb him if that was the case.

Alec's classes were uneventful. Having submitted his mid-term papers and assignments, it was on to the next topic which meant boring lectures. He'd sent Magnus another 'good luck' message just after his second class. Magnus' exam was going to start in about half an hour but he still replied to Alec thanking him.

By 3pm, Alec had finished a short shift at the cafe. He dropped his things off at his apartment and drove to his parents' house. Robert and Maryse had gone away for another business meeting so it was just Mrs Milligan and his brothers and sister at the house. Alec was relieved that he didn't have to deal with his dad again.

When he arrived at his house, Izzy, Max and Jace were already home from school. Max followed him to the kitchen while Izzy and Jace were still in their respective rooms.

"Alec, can you make me a sandwich?" Max asked. "I'm hungry."

"Sure, bud." He ruffled Max's hair then put his keys and cell phone on the counter. He goes over to the fridge. "What sandwich would you like?"

"Um... Ham and cheese toasties, please," Max said. "Oh wait. I need to get my lunch box from my bag." He got up and left the kitchen. Max's school caters lunch but from time to time, he requests a packed lunch, just so he can use his lunch box with some sort of anime character on it.

Alec just shook his head. He got all the ingredients he needed and started to make the sandwich for Max.

Izzy walked in a few minutes later. "Hey, Alec can I borrow your phone? I can't find mine and I need to ring it." She walked over to the far side of the counter where he put it.

"Yeah, sure." As soon as he said it, he remembered his wallpaper but it was too late. Izzy has already opened his phone and stared at it. He cursed the day he gave his passcode to his sister. Back when he didn’t have secrets. It’s not that he wanted to keep Magnus secret. He didn’t. Eventually, he would like his siblings to know about the guy he’s dating. Who he hopes one day will become his boyfriend, possibly husband. He forced himself not to linger on that last thought. At least not now. He had other matters that needed attention.

He froze, waiting for a reaction from his sister.

Izzy slowly looked up at him, her face full of mischief. "Alec."

"Izzy." He slowly took a step around the counter towards her. She took a step further away from him. Alec raised one hand up. "Put the phone down slowly and step away."

Izzy shook her head. "Jace! Max! Get in here!"

Alec winced. He bit his lip, fist clenched, and his ears ringing from his sister's searing scream. "Damn it!" He cursed to himself. He opened his eyes. "Izzy, please..."

He never got to finish as his brothers race into the room and stand on either side of Izzy.

"What's up?" The two boys asked. Izzy just shows them the phone. Jace's and Max's mouths drop. Max clapping a hand to his to close it. Jace just pointed to Alec, mouth still agape, eyes wide.

"Ok. That's it. Give me my phone." He moved around the counter in long strides and all three of his siblings ran away to the other side reversing his and their positions. "Please give me my phone." Alec tried his best to sound serious and annoyed but it was difficult to do that when he's blushing.

"Not until you explain this," Izzy said.

Jace went back to looking at the photo. "Wow! He's really good-looking Alec."

"He's very hot," Max added.

Alec let out an incredulous huff. "You're ten. What do you know about hot?"

"I'm almost eleven. I'm not blind," Max replied. Alec silently cursed the universe for giving him such a sassy brother.

"The phone in exchange for questions, Alec," Izzy repeated.

"Fine!" He crossed his arms across his chest. "One question."

"Each! And you answer honestly." Izzy emphasised.

Alec frowned. "What? No. How is that fair for me?" He shrugged his shoulders. "It's one phone. One question."

"Oh, oh, oh." Jace clapped like he just got a good idea. He whispered to Izzy whose evil smile grows a lot wider.

Alec saw Izzy checked things on his phone.

"Oh brother. Call history," She said with a smile then her face turned serious. He supposed at least she didn't read the text messages. "One question each. For the phone. Or we call..." She looked at the phone again. "Magnus - cheering smiley face. Real cute, Alec. You never use emojis on any of your contacts. Makes his name stand out like a sore thumb."

Alec inhaled deeply, rubbing his face with both hands then slowly lets out an exhale. He crossed his arms again and leaned his hip on the counter, trying to appear like he wasn’t at all affected by the circumstances. "Fine. But you give me my phone back and never bring this up again until I give my okay."

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth...,” Max stated.

"Yes, Max." Alec interrupted, voice sounding defeated. His siblings liked to play courtroom especially when it came to prying secrets out of one of them. It had something to do with their parents being lawyers. Even if their parents never really even entered a courtroom since their dealings are held in corporate offices and luncheons.

At this moment, Alec started it as a way to keep his siblings from fighting. It gave each of them a fair chance to express themselves or ask questions and expect an honest answer. He rued the day he introduced the court proceeding game with his siblings. What has he done? He's created monsters.

All three nod, satisfied with his answer. Alec waits while his evil younger siblings - to him, right now, they were evil - convene about the questions they need to ask. After a few minutes of deliberation, they finally look up at him.

Izzy went first. "How long have you been dating your boyfriend?" Alec winced. Damn it, she was sneaky with her questions.

He kept his face nonchalant. "He's not my boyfriend, yet. We haven't discussed it. And we've only been dating for two months."

All three nod. Satisfied with his answer. They convene again. Alec growing impatient. "Next question."

They break off. Jace rubbed his palms together. "Tell us, what are the details of your meeting and subsequent number of dates?"

"Objection!" Alec shouted. "That's two questions."

"Overruled!" Max shouted back. "Because I want to know."

Alec sighed. "It doesn't work like that, Max." The youngest Lightwood crosses his arms, a big frown and a pout on his face. Alec knows he's not going to get out of this one. "Fine."

He told them about seeing Magnus around campus then at the bowling alley, their interaction at the cafe, then their dates and meetings in campus. He kept the details as simple as possible although he couldn't stop himself from smiling fondly whilst he recounted the events.

When he finished, all his siblings were looking at him with smiles on their faces. "What? Next question."

Izzy shook her head in disbelief. "Oh dear brother, you should see your face. You are so falling in love with him."

"Shut up! Am not." Alec protested. "Next question."

They all look at Max, who now had one arm across his chest and his hand rubbing his chin, contemplating what he wanted to ask. "I want to meet him. So can we please invite him to bowling night?"


"What? No!" Alec started.

But Izzy interrupted him. "What? Yes! Good idea, Max." They high-fived. As if on cue, all three younger Lightwoods run to the living room. Izzy dialling as she ran, Jace and Max trying to block off Alec. Whoever said this game always ended fairly?

Alec ran after them. Izzy has the phone to her ear and put the phone on speaker once it starts to ring.

"Izzy, don't," Alec yelled. He tackled all three of his siblings and they all land on the carpet. Limbs tangled together, his phone sliding away from them. They all try to untangle themselves as they belly crawl to the still ringing phone. Alec army crawled to his phone with two, possibly three of his siblings clinging to him, he was inches away but it was too late.

"Hello?" Magnus' voice echoed into the lounge. "Alexander?"

Alec finally managed to grab hold of the phone, quickly turned off the speaker and put the phone to his ear. "Hey, Magnus. What's up?" He tried to sound casual. Izzy, Max, and Jace all had their ears pressed close to his face to hear the conversation.

"I don't know. You called me." Magnus’ voice was unsure.

There was a flailing of hands as Alec tried to push his siblings away only to have them fight back, some fits of giggles, ending up with Izzy letting out a squeal when Alec pushed her face away.

"Alexander, are you okay?" Magnus asked with a concerned voice.

Alec cleared his throat. "Yeah. Sorry. I got distracted."

"Hi Magnus!" All three of his siblings shouted in his ear followed by a fit of giggles. Alec flinched and glared at them.

"What was that?" Magnus asked.

"Those," Alec swatted at Jace, who decided to lean in again invading Alec's personal space. "Are my annoying brothers and sister." Izzy was glaring at him, mouthing 'invite him' to Alec. Alec rolled his eyes.

"So anyway," He stood up. Max jumped on his back and clung to him. Izzy and Jace both hugging him from the front essentially trapping him. Alec sighed. "They... I mean, we, we were wondering if you'd like to join us for bowling night tonight. I mean, if you're not busy that is."

"Your siblings want to meet me?" Magnus queried.

"Yes. They do." Alec answered. He scratched the back of his head sheepishly. "Do you, um, do you want to meet them?" He kept his eyes shut tightly, waiting for an answer.

Magnus doesn't answer immediately. All Alec could hear was the familiar sound of the PA system in the subway and some clinking. Magnus must be on his way home.

"I mean, unless you don't want to or if you want to rest after your exam. You must be tired. We will totally understand. You don't have to meet them. Or join bowling night." Alec was now babbling and he felt like an idiot. He wasn't sure if he was nervous that his siblings were there listening in or because there's a possibility that Magnus might say no to meeting his siblings. He’d be devastated if Magnus was not interested in meeting his brothers and sister.

"Alexander," Magnus sounded a little short of breath. Like he was walking. "Of course I would love to meet your siblings. And I would love to join you for bowling night."

Alec smiled, relieved. His three siblings cheered and let him go.

"Really?" Alec's heart started to beat faster. "You really want to?" He tried very hard to contain his excitement but ultimately fails. He pushes his siblings off who more than willingly let him go, satisfied with the outcome. And suddenly it was just him and Magnus.

"Yes, really." Magnus said with a chuckle. "Now what time do I need to be there? It's the same bowling alley like that time, right?"

"Um, yes." Alec said, suddenly finding the carpet very interesting as started to smooth and unsmooth the fibres on them. "We'll come pick you up."

"You don't have to. I can take the train." Magnus assured him.

Alec shook his head even if he knows Magnus can't see him. "No. Really. It's ok. We've got the car so we'll come pick you up. I... I want to come pick you up."

"Okay, then." Magnus said. Alec could tell from his voice that he was smiling. He could see Magnus' smile in his head. "What time will you pick me up?"

"Um..." Alec checked his watch. "Is an hour enough for you to get ready?"

"Yes. That should be plenty of time."

Alec closed his eyes, a smile on his lips. "Okay. Um," Alec walked over to the bookshelf, dropping his voice to a lower volume instinctively. "Um, how was your exam?"

"The exam was good." Magnus answered. "I'm glad it's over. I'm looking forward to winding down with you Lightwoods tonight." He paused. "Especially you. I think I miss you."

"You think?" Alec queried, a playful tone in his voice, but a blush on his face.

He heard Magnus chuckle, then the jiggling sound of keys. "Yes. I miss you."

Alec's smile widened, eyes growing brighter. He bit his lower lip. "I miss you, too."

Magnus didn't answer, then he heard the faintest of chuckles. "Okay. So I have to get ready. I'll see you later?"

Alec nodded again, despite Magnus not being there to see it. "Yeah. We'll see you in an hour then."

They hang up. Alec, still smiling, momentarily forgot that he had annoying siblings who were watching and listening to his conversation with Magnus. They all witnessed how he'd turned into a puddle just talking to Magnus. They all had big grins on their faces.

Alec's face went red to his ears. "Just shut up and get ready." He stormed off to the kitchen to finish making Max's sandwich.

********
An hour later, they pull up in front of Magnus' apartment. Alec removed his seatbelt and turned to his siblings.

"Please don't make things weird when you meet him." He pleaded. "Especially you." He hit Izzy lightly on the forehead with his knuckle. She swatted his hand away. "Now get in the backseat." He said then got out of the car.

It doesn't take long for Magnus to get downstairs after Alec rang the buzzer. Alec's heart stopped for a second when he sees Magnus walking towards him. Magnus is wearing pastel blue jeans with rips in strategic places, a long, black button down tunic and a short royal blue leather jacket, the sleeves are three-quarters in length. His make-up is simple, although Alec could see dark blue glittery eyeshadow and he's done that thing with his eyeliner that makes his eyes look like a cat's.

This is the most casual and least accessorised he's seen Magnus (not including Wednesday night and their first date). Somehow, Alec still felt under dressed with his usual hoodie, jeans and sneakers. He was glad he wore one of his newer hoodies tonight.

Magnus greeted him with a quick peck on the lips. Alec minutely paused, it was the first time Magnus did that. Usually it was a peck on the cheek or a hug. But ok, they were at that stage now. He wasn't complaining. Alec was giddy with happiness. They walked side by side, fingers intertwined. This has become natural for them now.

Before they get to the car, Alec stopped walking, pulling Magnus back slightly. "I'm going to apologise in advance," he said, scratching the back of his head.

Magnus' brows rose up. "For what?"

"My siblings." Alec said scratching his ear lobe. "Especially my sister. She has no filter. But the other two aren't any better." He said with a chuckle. "If they get too weird just push them off. I won't take it against you."

Magnus chuckled. "I'm sure it'll be fine, Alexander."

"God, I hope so." Alec said with a sigh.

"Are you worried they won’t like me?" Magnus' face suddenly became troubled.

Alec lifted Magnus' chin up. "What? No! That's not possible. They'll like you. I'm sure of it." He gave Magnus a reassuring smile. "I'm more worried they'll weird you out so much, you're never going to want to see me again."

This seemed to relax Magnus as he gave out a little chuckle. Alec joining in. "I don't think it's possible for me to not want to see you. No matter the reason," he told Alec.

"Me, too." Alec replied smiling at Magnus.

As they walk closer to the car, they find all three siblings' heads poking out the window. Izzy almost halfway out of the car, then Max's head, then Jace's. All with a big grin on their faces.

"Hi Magnus!" They shout in unison. Magnus' eyebrows raise in surprise.

"And so it begins." Alec mumbled to himself. They walked closer to the car.

"I guess, I don't have to introduce myself." Magnus said amused and smiling at all the siblings.

Izzy put both hands up so Magnus moved forward and hugged her. "Hello. I'm Isabelle or Izzy. Whichever you prefer."

"Hello, Isabelle. Izzy," he said trying out both names. "I've heard wonderful things about you."

"What things? From Alec? They're not true." She denied, eyeing her brother suspiciously then abruptly returned her attention to Magnus. "I love your make up. How'd you do your eyeliner?" She touched Magnus' face inspecting his eye make-up.

"And apparently, she has no boundaries either." Alec said from behind. "Izzy, what did I say about not weirding him out?" Alec, standing slightly behind Magnus, warned her.

Magnus smiled. "I assure you he said wonderful things. And if you want, I can teach you about the make-up some time." He winked at her.

"That would be awesome." She said happily. She looked at Alec. “I like him already.” She told him then she moved to the side to make way for Jace. Alec just rolled his eyes.

Magnus stepped to the side only to see Jace's outstretched hand, his face serious.

"Hey, I'm Jace." His grip was firm on Magnus' hand and he did not break eye contact. "You better have good intentions towards Alec. Or you answer to me."


"I assure you, all my intentions towards him are good." Magnus said with a smile. "It's good to know you're looking out for him. You're a good brother." Jace's glare remained stern.

"Jace, stop trying to be the protective brother." Alec said, giving Jace a quizzical look.

The younger Lightwood just narrowed his eyes at Magnus, let his hand go and sat back. Magnus looked back at Alec with an amused smile. Alec gave him an apologetic look while shaking his head. Magnus turned his attention to the youngest Lightwood.

This Lightwood was neither invading Magnus' personal space nor threatening him. Max just looked at him, lips pursed to one side like he was thinking.

"And what's your name, Little Lightwood?" Magnus asked with a smile.

"I'm Max," he answered then went back to his thinking. He tilted his head to one side. "What's your last name?"

Magnus' eyes grew wide in wonder. He looked at Alec who shrugged his shoulders just as confused. Magnus turned his attention back to Max. One brow raised, unsure. "Hello, Max. I'm Magnus Bane."

"Hm-" was all he got as a response, so he waited. "Bane." Max repeated. "Lightwood. Bane." It appeared he was saying this to himself. "Lightwood-Bane. Bane-Lightwood." He shook his head. "Lightwood-Bane. Okay!" When he was satisfied, he nodded and smiled at Magnus and then took his seat in the middle.

Magnus, brows furrowed in a mixture of amusement and confusion, looked at Alec who was now hiding his blushing face in his hand. He peeked at Magnus through the gaps in his fingers. "I don't... I don't even know how to explain that." He throwed his hand up in the air, defeated, shaking his head. "I told you they were weird."

Magnus chuckled as Alec walked around to the driver's seat. He opened the door to the passenger seat and got in.

**********
The drive to the bowling alley was filled with questions for Magnus from the younger Lightwoods. Mostly Izzy asking about his make-up and about clothes but also about what course he's taking and how he and Alec met. She clearly wasn't satisfied with Alec's version of things. She and Magnus bonded instantly, finding that they liked the same shows, knew a lot about make-up and clothes. Izzy also had an interest in the sciences so she was ecstatic to find out Magnus was a medical student.

Jace and Max would chime in sometimes, asking mostly about what Magnus did at the university or what kind of work he did. Izzy was the most impressed when Magnus said one of his part-time jobs is as a personal shopper. He only has a few clients and most of them have been referred by friends.

Alec was quite in the car, just enjoying the chatter between Magnus and his siblings. He let out a small smile every time he glanced at Magnus smiling or laughing at something his siblings said. Magnus looked happy and this made Alec feel delighted.

When they get there, Max could barely contain his energy. He runs into the establishment, closely followed by Izzy and Jace. Alec and Magnus walk slowly, despite Max running back and forth telling them to hurry up.

"He's certainly energetic." Magnus said with a chuckle.

Alec scratched the back of his head. "Yeah. He really loves bowling night. I think it's because he's sometimes left out of a lot of stuff being the youngest. So I try to keep this as regular as possible. So he doesn't feel like he's left behind all the time. And we all get to spend time together. Especially now that I don't live at home anymore."

Magnus smiled at him. "Aaaw, that's very nice of you, big brother." Magnus teased. Alec rubbed the back of his neck, a sheepish grin on his face.

Alec paid for their game as usual despite Magnus offering to at least pay for his. He'd offered to buy their food and drinks instead. Alec obliged.

While they waited for their order, Magnus received a text message.

"Luke's asking if you're free to meet him this weekend." Magnus read out the text and looked at Alec. "He wants to meet with you to discuss the cooking class."

A mixture of excitement and nervousness appeared on Alec's face. "Yeah. Sure. Tomorrow afternoon? Or, or, Sunday. Whenever." He shrugged his shoulders trying to look calm. He cleared his throat. "Maybe tomorrow at 3pm? Or whenever he's free."

Magnus chuckled. "I'll ask him about 3pm. But, I will give him your number." Magnus typed a text on his phone. "And you two can arrange a time." He finished typing and sent it off, smiling at Alec.

"Thank you." As soon as Alec said that, his phone beeped. It was from Luke confirming the meeting. Alec smiled and sent out a quick reply to say his thanks. They then walk hand-in-hand to their seats where his siblings are waiting.


When they get there, Alec explained to Magnus how they usually determine teams. They decided to play the games three on two. And after much deliberation, they play a game of Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock Alec included to make it fair. Izzy, Max and Magnus end up in one team, Jace and Alec on the other.

"Have you played much ten-pin bowling?" Alec asked Magnus remembering that he really didn't see the latter play that time.

"A little." Magnus answered casually.

"Alec is really good." Max chimed in. Magnus looked at Alec who just shruggd to brush off the compliment then he ruffled Max's hair. "They're probably gonna win again tonight." Max pouted making sure Alec saw it. Alec rolled his eyes then smiled at his brother.

"Well," Magnus said looking Max in the eyes with a smile on his face. "We're just gonna have to work hard to beat them now, won't we?" Magnus winked at him. Max nodded with determination.

Jace went first managing to knock most of the pins. He knocked off the last three pins on his second run. Then it's Izzy's turn who has a similar run but had five pins left that she managed to topple with her second ball. Then it's Alec's turn who managed to do a strike on his first run, then knocked about six pins on his second run, and two pins on the third.

"Nice moves." Magnus complimented him with a smile. "You really are good at this."

"Thank you. I try my best." Alec responded with a grin and taking a seat beside Magnus, their knees and shoulders touching.

They watched as Max takes his turn. His first ball went to the gutter which made him disappointed. As he trudged to get the ball for his next turn, Magnus walked over to him and talked to him with a quiet voice. Magnus demonstrated a technique on how to release the ball. Max gave it a few practice tries.

Alec saw his little brother nod and smile at Magnus then went to the lane. Magnus gave him a reassuring thumbs up before he returned to his seat beside Alec.

"What'd you tell him?" Alec asked curious.

"Just a tip. To help him out." Magnus said winking at him. Alec eyed him suspiciously then returned his gaze back to his little brother.

Max did what Magnus has told him and managed to knock all the pins on his second try. He jumped up and down and up into Izzy's arms who swings him around.

Both Magnus and Alec smile proudly.

"Alec, did you see that? Did you see that? I did a strike! I've only ever done it two times. And a long time ago and I was really close to the pins." Max said ecstatically, talking really fast as he jumped onto Alec's lap. "But I did that all by myself!" Then he looked at Magnus. "Thanks, Magnus." He said, beaming at the older man and hugging him taking Magnus by surprise.

"No problem, Max." Magnus said hugging the younger boy back, letting out a loud chuckle.

Then Max ran over to Izzy and Jace again, clearly proud of his achievement.

"Wow! Thank you for doing that." Alec said smiling.

"It's no problem, Alexander. Just glad to help him out."

"Are you sure you've only played a little?" Alec asked. Magnus didn't respond. "Magnus?" He just winked at Alec then tried to hide a smile as he walked off to take his turn. Jace had just finished his turn, only being able to knock out seven pins on his two runs.

Alec sat forward to watch Magnus take his turn. Magnus managing to get two strikes and setting up for another.

Alec got up from his seat and stood closer to the lanes. He looked at Magnus, one eyebrow raised. "You're good at this."

Magnus just shrugged then throws the ball, it wasn't quite a strike but it was still eight pins down. He looked at Alec, one side of his lip rising as he looked to Alec. "Oh Alexander, it's beginner's luck. Or something," he said.

Alec narrowed his eyes at him. "You liar."

Magnus stuck his tongue out at him then laughs.

As the game progressed, it became clearer that Magnus was better at the game than he initially let on. Even Jace was impressed - his competitive side surfacing further. Meanwhile, Max kept requesting Magnus to check his form, always looking at the older man for reassurance that he's doing the right technique every time he has a turn.

"I think you're his new hero." Alec told Magnus as they watched Max look back to them waiting for a reassuring nod before taking his turn.

Magnus smiled at him. "Oh you flatter me, Alexander." He leaned back and rested his head on Alec's shoulder as they watch the game. Alec put his arm around Magnus’ shoulder and rested his head on Magnus’.

The score was tight, but still Jace and Alec were in the lead. Alec, Magnus, Jace and Max sat together as Izzy took her time on her turn.

"Can I see your phone?" Max, who is sitting beside Magnus and facing toward him, said.

Alec, sitting on the other side of Magnus, arm around the other man's shoulder, watched the exchange. He's happy that his siblings like Magnus and Magnus obviously liking them back. Magnus' attention for most of the night had been dominated by his siblings, which was a first. His siblings have never taken to any of his ex-boyfriends unlike they had with Magnus.

On the other hand, none of his exes ever really took the time to get to know his siblings. They never showed any interest in meeting them, let alone show them genuine attention like what Magnus is doing now.

"Sure." Magnus fished out his phone from his pocket, put his pin code in and handed it to Max.

"Are those your cats?" the boy asked, while taking hold of Magnus' phone.

"Yes." Magnus replied. "This is Chairman Meow. And that is Church." He continued as he pointed to each cat. "Church is a little grumpy. But Chairman is really cuddly." He told Max with a smile.

"I love cats. I've always wanted a dog or a cat but Mom and Dad said no." Max said sadly. "They won't even get us a fish."

"They did get you a fish, Max." Alec added and Max looked even sadder.

"What happened to the fish?" Magnus asked curiously.

"I overfed him. I just didn't want him to get hungry." Max pouted. "And he got too full and went to fish heaven."

Magnus patted Max's head. "I'm sorry little buddy. Well, you can come see my cats any time you want." Magnus offered.

This made Max happy and he looked at Alec as if to ask if it was ok. Alec nodded at him. "Chairman will love you for sure. And I think Church won't mind another Lightwood." He looked, smiling, and giving Alec's thigh a little pat. "He certainly took a liking to your brother."

Max nodded in acknowledgement. Magnus showing him more pictures of the cats and let Max flick through them on his phone.

A child's innocence should never be underestimated. Because from out of the blue, Max said something that may have given Alec a tiny heart attack. "Alec's wallpaper on his phone is of you in bed. Like you just woke up." He said innocently as he flicked through the photos.

Alec froze, feeling the rush of blood slowly creeping up his face. His brother said that so innocently and without ulterior motive - like embarrass Alec to death - so he couldn't really get angry at the boy.

Magnus slowly turned his head to Alec, a raised brow and an amused smile on his face. Alec couldn't make eye contact with him. Right now he wished the ground would swallow him up. He reached back, took his hood and pulled it down over his face. He stood up and went to the lane to take his turn. He heard Magnus call his name, amusement clear on his voice but Alec chose not to look back for fear of passing out in sheer embarrassment.

Once he's had his turn and has regained a little semblance of his dignity, he turned to see Izzy, Jace and Max talking to Magnus in hushed voices. There was some giggling from the younger Lightwoods and a smile on Magnus' face as he listened to them intently, stealing glances at Alec every now and then. No doubt they were telling him about Alec.

All embarrassment gone, watching the exchange gave Alec a warm feeling inside. In that small huddle are the most important people in his life. Magnus whom he's only known for two months. Yet it feels like Alec's known him for years.

He walked back to the group and took his seat beside Magnus. The younger siblings all get out of his way, all still snickering. Izzy looked back and exchanged a meaningful look with Magnus who just nodded at her.

With his hoodie still pulled halfway down his face, he rested his forehead on Magnus' shoulder. "Can we please pretend that you never heard that so I can have some of my dignity back?" He mumbled.

He felt Magnus' shoulder shake from a small laugh. Magnus leaned back, lifted up the hoodie and cupped Alec's cheeks with his hands, a loving smile on his face. “So you did like the pictures.” He said teasingly. Alec blushed even more.

Then Magnus gave him a quick peck on the lips. "Okay. I’ll stop. But for the record,” He moved closer to Alec's ear and whispers, "I really don't mind at all. In fact I'd like one of you for my phone. Maybe a lot more naked than I was." He winked at Alec then got up to take his turn again, leaving Alec momentarily dazed.

The warmth of his breath in Alec's ear made the younger man shiver in a good way. Alec pulled his hoodie further down to hide his face. He took a breath to calm himself down then pushed the hoodie off, a stupid grin on his face. He didn't even try to hide it when he saw Izzy looking at him grinning.


There were only a couple of frames left and the competition has become more intense. Jace and Alec were in the lead although not by much. None of them returned to their seats, all opting to stay on the side lines to cheer on their respective teammates, whose ever turn it was.

With their team being down a couple of points and with the heat in the room rising, Magnus removed his jacket and placed it on the seat. Alec swallowed hard when he saw the back of Magnus' shirt was actually see-through. The sheer cloth went from the back to the sides then meeting the solid fabric at the front. Alec could not stop staring.

"You can do this, Max." Magnus cheered from the side. "Just relax and do what you've been doing before."

Max nodded and rolled the ball. He took down seven pins with the last three all grouped to the side. Magnus and Izzy cheer.

"One more, Max." Izzy cheered.

When Max took down the last three pins, he, Magnus and Izzy all do a happy dance. Alec is left mesmerised watching Magnus move gracefully. He's focused on the sway of Magnus' hips as he does a side bump with Izzy and then with Max. It didn't help that Alec could see Magnus' toned abs from the side of his shirt. He knew the feel of the soft skin underneath that fabric and wanted to feel it again, to touch it, and caress it with his fingers. Jace clapping him on the shoulder to tell him it's his turn, takes him out of his trance.

Alec shook his head to stop his thoughts from escalating. But it was too late. His brain was too far gone to salvage it from distraction. He managed to knock off a couple of pins but never landing any strikes like he usually would.

Eventually, Jace and Alec lose by 25 points. Max and Izzy were both ecstatic that they beat Alec and Jace, who demanded a rematch. And hence, this was the night that will come to be known as the downfall of Alexander Gideon Lightwood at ten-pin bowling.


*********
Alec and Magnus drop off his siblings at the Lightwood house after their game. Jace and Izzy each have sports practice commitments the next day so staying at Alec's wasn't an option.

"It was really nice to meet you, Magnus." Jace clapped Magnus on the shoulder from the backseat. "I still want a rematch. I think Alec got distracted." He said then got out of the car, Magnus waving at him. Alec just ignored his last comment. He and Alec fist bump through the window then Jace is off to the house.

"See you, Magnus." Max beamed. "Thanks for teaching me those bowling tricks." Max hugged Magnus from the back, passenger seat included.

"Anytime, Max. I'll show you more next time so you can beat your brother again." He responded with a smile. "And just let your brother know when you want to visit my cats." This earned him an excited cheer from Max. "I had a really good time with all of you."

Magnus hugged Max back with one hand, even if the position was a bit awkward. Max gave Alec a hug then he followed Jace to the house.

Izzy sat forward, peering at Magnus from the back seat. "So you'll text me when we can do the make-up tutorial?" Izzy asked. Alec wondered when his sister and Magnus exchanged numbers.

"Yes, definitely. Exams are over for now so I should have some free time." Magnus said. "And if you like, I can give you make-up samples from the Spiral Labyrinth." Magnus offered.

"No!" she exclaimed in disbelief. "I mean, yes. That line is so expensive. How do you have them?" She beamed, eyes wide and voice excited.

"Perks of the shopping job. One of my clients is kind of related to the Spiral Labyrinth founder." Magnus explained. "I have discounts on their clothes as well, if you'd like."

"Oh my God! Would I? And there's a story behind this. I want to know. You should tell me some time." She squeezed herself through the gaps in the seats and gave Magnus a tight hug, Magnus hugging her back. She turned to look at Alec. "Alec, please marry him."

Alec, taken by surprise, face heating up into a blush but chose to ignore it. He creased his brows. "What?"

She doesn't wait for him to continue and turned her attention back to Magnus. "If he doesn't marry you, I will. I turn eighteen in like less than two years."

Alec pushed her off towards the back seat. "Please stop propositioning my boyfriend in exchange for make-up and clothes."

Magnus' eyes went wide at Alec referring to him as 'boyfriend', making his heart flutter. Alec didn't seem to notice that he said the word as he was busy bickering with his sister. It may have been a slip of the tongue but it made Magnus happy. He liked Alec referring to him as his boyfriend. He'd like to refer to Alec as his, too.

"Well, then please marry him so I can finally have someone to talk to about make-up and clothes." She whined. She sat forward again and looked at Magnus. "Do you know how incredibly frustrating it is to not have anyone in the house to talk to about these things. Not even mom. Especially when..."

"Okay. You're done." Alec cut her off, knowing she’s going into another one of her tirades. He started ushering her out of the car. Izzy continued complaining but let herself out of the car. Magnus chuckling as he watched the brother and sister interact. She appeared beside his window and stuck her head in to give him another hug and a peck on the cheek.

"It was nice meeting you, Magnus. Thanks for a fun night." She pointed to Alec and reached in further to hug him. Magnus having to move further into the seat to get out of the way.

“Izzy, don’t -” Alec started but he got pulled in, having to shift further forward to hug her better. Alec gave Magnus an apologetic look at the awkwardness of the position. "See you, big brother." she said. Alec mumbled his farewell.

"It was nice meeting you, Isabelle." Magnus said giving her a last hug and a peck on each cheek.


As soon as she got back in the house, Alec let out a sigh of relief. "Well that was a lot of excitement."

Magnus nodded in agreement. "It was really fun. I loved meeting your siblings. Thank you for inviting me."

Alec brought his right hand up to wipe the side of Magnus' cheek where some of Izzy's lip gloss smudged a little. "I'm sorry if they made things weird or asked you too many probing questions."

Magnus took his hand and intertwined their fingers. "It's okay. They weren't too prying. Nothing I didn’t want to share." He said with a smile. "I haven't had that much fun in a long time."

Alec thought he saw a little sadness in Magnus' eyes. When he looked again, Magnus was smiling. Maybe he imagined it. "And I got to see a different side of you, big brother." Magnus teases Alec then looks down at their hands, his thumbs massaging Alec's palm.

Alec watched the blissful expression on Magnus' face. He watched how his long lashes flickered when he blinked, and how he licked his lower lip. He looked so beautiful that Alec could not stop himself. He leaned in and captured Magnus' lips in a kiss. Magnus, taken by surprise, let out a little moan but responds.

The kiss would have lasted longer if they didn't hear a loud whistle, cheering, and clapping from the Lightwood house. They broke apart and turned to see all three younger Lightwoods' heads sticking out the window. Jace had his fingers in his mouth and doing another loud whistle.

Magnus and Alec laughed. They give his siblings one last wave before Alec drives off.

********
Their drive back to Magnus' loft is initially serene, and bathed in comfortable silence. Alec holding Magnus' hand as he drove, putting it up to his lips to kiss it from time to time.

"So, how did you get so good at bowling?" Alec finally broke the silence as they got to a stoplight. "Because that was not beginner's luck."

Magnus chuckled bringing his left hand up and rubbing the back of Alec' neck, and playing with his hair, the other hand holding Alec's, "Luke taught me how to play. He and his family used to let me join their bowling nights. I babysat his stepdaughter and their neighbour's kid before they moved away. Those times were really fun."

Alec briefly glanced at him before returning his attention on the road. "So you've known him a long time?"

"Since I was fifteen? Maybe sixteen." Magnus answered. "It was my first job."

"Why'd they move?"

Magnus traced patterns on the back of Alec's hand. "He used to be in the army before he went into the restaurant business. He got stationed somewhere else so they had to move." Magnus explained.

"And Jocelyn, his wife, she's an artist so she did a lot of travelling for exhibits and projects. So they were always moving anyway." He paused. "They were the first real, whole family I've met since my parents passed away. Everyone else I knew were either in foster care like me, or not with their families for one reason or another. It felt really good. Being part of one. Even if it was just for a couple nights a week." Magnus' voice was calm but there was a hint of longing to it.

Alec glanced and him and squeezed his hand letting him know he was there for Magnus. Most of the time, Magnus looked very cheerful and happy. He’s always very positive, even when he’s stressed he tries to see some kind of bright side to it.

But Alec has noticed that there were also these times. Times when there was a sadness in Magnus’ eyes that he couldn’t explain. It never lasts. Magnus somehow keeps it masked. And if Alec wasn’t paying attention to him. He would have missed it. He saw it there when Magnus first talked about his parents, and then on the rooftop. And then now. Alec couldn’t explain it, but he had this deep desire to take that sadness, that pain, away.

Alec brought Magnus' hand up to his lips and kissed it several times before putting both their hands down on his lap. Magnus looked up at him and gave him a smile, his eyes brightening. And that sad expression has disappeared once more. He didn't say anything after that.

Silence fell on them again. They could have talked. The quietness wasn't awkward. They were both satisfied just enjoying each other's presence. It was in stark contrast from the chaos and excitement they have just been in with Alec's siblings.

It wasn't that neither of them had nothing to say but somehow, Alec knew that Magnus wasn't ready to talk to him about it yet. But he could also sense that Magnus was slowly opening up. He decided he was going to be patient. He wanted to know more about Magnus, especially after his talk with Catarina. But he knew that it was a sensitive subject. And he was not going to push. He was going to wait, until Magnus was ready to tell him. For now, he’ll focus on making Magnus happy. He didn’t know how, but he was determined to do it.


They sat in silence in the car for a couple of minutes after Alec pulled up in front of Magnus' building. Neither of them wanting to part just yet. Especially since they haven’t seen much of each other all week.

"Would you like to come up for a hot drink? I'd offer you alcohol but you're driving." Magnus asked finally breaking the silence. Alec nods.

They walked up to the loft in silence, Alec rubbing circles on the back of Magnus' hand with his thumb.

Magnus discarded his keys in a little bowl on a table by the foyer as soon as they get in the loft. He made his way to the kitchen but Alec pulled him, putting his arms around Magnus' waist. Magnus smiled and put his arms around Alec's neck and looked at his eyes.

"I'm really glad you met them tonight." Alec said smiling. "I think they really like you."

"I really like them, too. I had a lot of fun." Magnus added. "And they told me so many things about you."

"Did they?" Alex asked, voice curious. "What'd they say?"

Magnus rested his hands on Alec's chest. "All good things."

"Doesn't sound like them," Alec said brows creasing. "They usually make it a point to say embarrassing things about me."

Magnus shook his head. "From what I hear, you're the best big brother in the world." He nuzzled his nose on Alec's.

"Oh yeah. How so?"

"Well, apparently you always make them snacks and yummy food." Magnus looked up at the ceiling trying to remember what Alec's siblings have told him through the course of the night. "That you never miss a sporting event or recital even when you're in college or when you travelled."

Magnus looked at him. Alec chuckled shyly. He used to make it a point to Skype in whenever his siblings had some kind of school event wherever he was in the world. "And that you still help them with their homework sometimes." Magnus gave him a quick peck on the lips.

Alec shook his head, blushing at all the things Magnus said, and also partly because of the peck. "So all you guys did was gossip about me all night when I wasn’t around?" He asked teasingly in an attempt to deflect it.

"Darling, it's not gossiping." Magnus said looking him in the eyes. "Your siblings just really love you. I could hear it in the way they told stories about you and I could see it with my own eyes. You really love them, too. Don’t you?"

Alec smiled and nodded. Magnus returned his smile.

They walk slowly in the hallway, Alec walking forward and Magnus walking back towards the lounge.

"I think Max and Izzy are quite taken with you." Alec moved, touching their foreheads and noses together. "I may have competition for your attention."

Magnus moved his hand tighter around Alec's neck, bringing the distance between them closer. "Alexander, are you jealous of your brother and sister for my attention?"

Alec grinned, and gave a little shrug. "Maybe." He said, enveloping Magnus with his arms, pulling him closer by the waist. Their noses are pressed further in, gazes locked on each other. The pace of their heart beats quicken and their breathing increasingly becoming heavier.

"You have nothing to worry about." Magnus whispered, his mouth really close to Alec's ear, a smile on his lips. "Because you'll always be my favourite Lightwood."

With that, Alec let his eyes fall shut as he pulled Magnus to him closing the last sliver of distance between them into a kiss. It started out slow, and tender. Each of them savouring the feel of each other's lips. Magnus sighed into the kiss, tightening his arms around Alec's neck even further to deepen it. Alec could feel the warmth of Magnus' body against his, the soft feeling of Magnus' lips. Magnus tasted sweet like berries, maybe from his lip gloss, but also something uniquely wonderful that Alec thinks could only come from this wonderful man.

Magnus broke the kiss briefly, eyes fluttering. He staggered to catch his breath. "Stay here tonight." He said, voice raspy.

Alec nodded as he pulled Magnus in again for another fervent and deep kiss.

Chapter Text

Magnus had just spent a good three hours with Alec and his siblings and it felt like he has known them for a long time. He adored the three younger Lightwoods the moment he met them. He's never had siblings. Even with the makeshift family that he made for himself, he has not felt like he belonged. Not like how Alec made him feel since they met. Not like how he felt tonight just playing a simple game of bowling with the Lightwoods.

When he babysat Clary, Luke's step-daughter, all those years ago and spent time with them, he experienced what it was like to be part of a family, years after losing his. But he was also sixteen then and was still carrying a lot of bitterness, and anger and angst. The experience reminded him more of the good times he had with his parents. It reminded him of what he'd lost, of what he didn't have. These memories were the ones that made him question why all the bad things happened? 

Why couldn't he have a family like that? The happy family he's seen in posters and ads? The sixteen-year old him became bitter inside and at some points jealous of what Clary Fray had - a loving father in Luke and loving mother in Jocelyn. This was one of the reasons why even if Luke and his family welcomed him, he still closed himself off. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate what they did for him, because he did. But he could never shake off the feeling of being detached.

He slowly came to terms with this as he grew up. It's what maturity did, he supposed. He learned to deal with it. Learned to live and rely only on himself. He made a lot of friends, some closer than others. But there was no erasing the thought that he was always going to be the outsider. 

But now, just a couple of months knowing Alec and being with him, Magnus felt like he belonged somewhere. Whatever that meant. Alec made him feel wanted. In the two months they've spent together, Alec showed him he cared, even going out of his way just to give Magnus baked goods in the middle of the night. Or reminded him to eat. Who does that for someone they were still trying to get to know?

Alec knew how to make him laugh. Alec showed him a different sort of kindness. Magnus felt at ease talking to him. Hell, he told him about his parents on their first date. And during that time, he didn't feel compelled to hide it or to deflect it. He found it easy to tell Alec things about his life. Not all of it, not yet. Not all at once. But he knew he wanted Alec to know. And the more he got to know this man, the more he felt secure. Because somehow, with Alec, he felt it was safe.

And then he met the younger Lightwoods tonight, and he felt accepted. There was no feeling of animosity, of him being an outsider. Even Jace asking him about his intentions for Alec. That was a protective gesture from a sibling and Magnus did not feel threatened or pushed out at all. They didn’t make him feel like he was just Alec’s date. They treated him like a friend, or even, dare he think it, a brother.

Whatever this was he had with Alec, he wanted it. And he didn't ever want it to stop.

 

"Stay here tonight." Magnus said, his voice raspy.

Alec nodded as he pulled Magnus in again for another fervent and deep kiss.

Magnus walked backwards slowly leading them towards his bedroom as they continued kissing. Alec pinned him to the wall just by the door, one leg between Magnus' thighs, trailing kisses down the older man's jaw and neck. Magnus wasn't sure when the buttons of his shirt had come undone.

Alec nibbled on his earlobe as he ground his thigh up Magnus' crotch. Magnus moaning into the kiss. He carded his fingers through Alec's hair, pulling it at the back, kissing him passionately in the mouth while spinning them around to get to his room.

Alec closed the door with his foot as they continued kissing. Magnus suckled on Alec's bottom lip before licking the top. Alec parted his lips further and captured Magnus's tongue sucking on it briefly before letting it go. His hands wandered up Magnus' shirt, feeling the warm, smooth skin underneath the sheer fabric.

He rested his hands on Magnus' waist, giving him a slight push to step backwards further towards the bed. They continue to explore each other with their lips, tongues, their hands. Magnus took his hands off Alec to pull his own jacket off and discarded it on the floor. He then wrapped his arms around Alec's neck pulling him even closer. Their tongues continued to spar, to explore each other's mouths, each other's taste.

The back of Magnus' knee hit the foot of the bed. He let out a surprised yelp into Alec's mouth. He pulled Alec down with him, their teeth clattering against the other's as they fell. They both chuckle before continuing to give each other brief kisses.

A loud thud and the sound of glass breaking pull their attention away from each other.

"What was that?" Alec asked, shifting slightly off Magnus but not fully getting up.

Magnus, a worried look on his face, gently pushed Alec off and got up. "It sounded like it came from next door." He straightened his clothes.

"I'll just check on Magda, okay?" He said voice slightly panicked. "She's my neighbour. And she's elderly -"

Alec got up, nodding. "I'll go with you."

Without further protest Magnus half ran out the bedroom. He grabbed his keys as he went out the front door and to his neighbour's. He knocked on the door.

"Magda, it's Magnus. Just checking if you're okay," he said bringing his ear closer to the door to listen for an answer.

When there was none, he knocked again. Harder this time. He looked at Alec who was waiting by the doorway of Magnus' apartment. Alec returned his worried look.

"Magda?" Magnus called again, voice louder. He tried hard to keep himself calm. What if she was hurt, or worse?

There was no response again. Magnus shook his head. He flicked through his keys, finding the right one for the old lady's front door. He wasn't sure how he kept his hand steady as he flicked through the keys.

"Magda, I'm coming in. Okay?" he called out as he turned the key.

Magda Vardebidien is the only other tenant on Magnus' floor. She has been locked out of her apartment before, a few months after Magnus moved into the building. She had had to wait outside her apartment for hours as she had no way of calling for a locksmith. Their super had gone MIA at the time.

Magnus happened to be home that day and helped her out. Since then they have been looking out for each other and have become good friends. Magnus didn't know his grandparents, he couldn't remember them. But he thought, if he did, he wanted them to be just like her.

Magnus pushed the door open and went in, Alec following closely. "Magda?" he called again. They heard a soft groan. Magnus' heart raced, panic starting to surface.

They looked around the living room but she wasn't there so Magnus made his way to the kitchen, strides long and hurried.

As soon as he saw her, Magnus rushed to the elderly lady's side. She was on the floor, legs folded under her, trying to prop herself up with one hand, the other reaching up to the table, a large open wound running almost from her wrist to her elbow. Blood all over her arm, dressing gown and the floor. Alec went around behind her to help keep her upright.

"Magda, what happened?" Magnus asked, grabbing a clean hand towel. He wet it with water from the tap. Magnus then knelt beside her, taking her hand carefully. He wrapped the wound with the towel, applying firm pressure on it to stop the bleeding.

"I just slipped, dear. I stood up too fast. My feet just got away from me," she explained. "I tried to grab hold of the table but my aim and my reflexes are not that great. Got caught on the corner as I slipped," she winced in pain.

Magnus, brows creased, shook his head. "Does anything else hurt? Did you hit your head? What about your hip?" He asked concerned, looking at her and inspecting if she had any other injuries.

When she shook her head, he looked at Alec. "Can you grab me two more clean towels in the drawer by the sink?"

Alec, nodding, went to the drawer as instructed. Meanwhile, Magnus helped the old lady up. She let out a pained yelp when she stood on her right foot and promptly fell. She would have fallen again if Alec had not rushed to her side to catch her. Magnus had both of his hands on her wound. He sighed at the near miss.

"Oh dear. If I'd known I'd be held by two strapping young men tonight, I'd have made myself more presentable," she said chuckling as they lowered her on a chair gently.

Magnus stole a glance at Alec who had a slight blush on his cheeks. Then he looked at his elderly neighbour, a small smile on his lips, as he placed the new towel over the other." Now you need to keep that upright," he instructed. "And you'll have to compete with me for him," he eyed her with a little grin.

She looked up at Alec with a smile and a wink. "Do I even have a chance with you?"

Alec scratched the back of his head. "Sorry, ma'am. I'm sure you're a wonderful lady. But you're kind of not my type," he said with a wink.

"Oh, I’m missing some parts?” She kidded. He blushed. Alec was learning that she was very blunt. She kind of reminded him of Izzy.

“I will forgive you for not choosing me," she warned. "But I will not forgive you for calling me 'ma'am.'" She offered her uninjured hand. "Please call me Magda."

"Nice to meet you, Magda. I'm Alec." He smiled at her. He shook it briefly.

"Now, Magda. Can you manage to put pressure on your hand while I check your foot?" Magnus interrupted. She does as he requested and raised her right foot, wincing in pain in the process.

Magnus carefully held it, pulling her sock down carefully. "You're not wearing your non-slip socks again. You know you're not supposed to wear regular socks on the bare floor because they're too slippery," he told her while inspecting her ankle.

She looked up at Alec shaking her head. "He worries too much," she told him.

Magnus sighed. "You're not exactly in a position to criticise my worrying right now." He indicated at her foot. "It might be sprained.  I think you need to go to the ER. Just to make sure you have no broken bones. And I think your arm will need some stitching." He looked at Alec. "Can you drive us?" He asked, brows creased.

Alec nodded with a smile. "Of course. Anything you need."

"Thank you." Magnus said with a little bow.

Magda opened her mouth to protest only to be met with Magnus' stern look, a hand on his waist. "Don't even think of protesting, young lady. You need to go to the hospital."

She sighed. "Well, if we're going, I'm not going looking like this," she said, indicating to her hair in curlers and her bare face. "Magnus, will you be a dear and grab my lipstick and some clothes in the room. And a comb. There may be cute doctors in the ER," she requested smiling at him.

Magnus sighed, shaking his head but got up anyway. "Fine. Vanity thy name is Magda. I'll fix you up." This made her chuckle.

Magnus looked at Alec. "Can you make sure there's pressure on her wound? And we'll keep this leg up." He indicated to her ankle. Alec nodded. Before leaving for the bedroom, Magnus got a bag of frozen peas from the freezer, wrapped a towel around it and handed it to Alec to ice Magda's sprain. He sat in front of her, her foot resting on his lap, keeping it elevated.

She stared at Alec as if inspecting him. "Your boyfriend is so bossy."

Alec blushed at Magda referring to Magnus as his boyfriend. "I, um, he's not my uh... We're not. I mean not... We haven't talked about it."

She frowned. "And why the hell not? Listen to me, young man. You're the first one in a very long time that I have seen with him more than once. In fact, I think you're the only one since he moved in." She shook her index finger at him, using her good hand. He caught the towel that started to unwrap and held it in place, his other hand still on the bag of peas against her ankle. "That boy is precious. He is a catch. I tell you. Don't let him go." She told him off.

Alec smiled. He could see how endearing and protective she was of Magnus. "I know, Magda.  He's amazing. And I have every intention to have a relationship with him." He shrugged his shoulders. "We just really haven't discussed it. Because, well, things are sort of new. Well two months. But I'm not sure if I can refer to him as my boyfriend. Although I would love to."

She smiled at him, putting her hand on his. "I care for that boy. Take care of him, alright? I wasn't making it up when I said he's precious. He's a good man. The world has given him shit, pardon the language. Those parents of his." She shook her head. "I will never understand why they did that. Why to him? How they could hurt him. He was just a child."

Alec's brow furrowed wondering what she meant. Magnus parents hurt him? He knew Magnus' parents have passed away but he didn't know the story behind it. He opened his mouth to ask but she just kept speaking.

"But he's still smiling. Always so positive and energetic. I don't know where he gets it," she chuckled.  Alec nodded still contemplating what she said earlier. Magda looked towards her bedroom where Magnus was. "I worry about him. He takes care of other people but there's no one there to take care of him."

She looked at Alec and squeezed his hand. "He may seem happy and carefree on the outside. But I know deep inside he's lonely. I know how it is to be alone without any family. I've buried my husband, my children and my grandchildren. But I'm old. Magnus, he's still got a long way to go. And he will do great things. Wonderful things. And I hope he finds someone who will be with him to do that along the way. He deserves to be happy." She pursed her lips, tapping Alec's hand. "If that person is going to be you, then please don't break his heart."

Alec nodded. He felt slightly overwhelmed but honoured that the people in Magnus' life were telling him this. He thought back on his conversation with Catarina. They loved Magnus so much. Cared for him. And Alec does, too. He's seen that loneliness in Magnus' eyes and wanted to take it away. 

Her expression turned sour, which reminded Alec of those evil witches in the movies. "If you break his heart, alive or dead, I will come after you."

Alec's heart pounded. He was not expecting that. This was a tiny, frail old lady but he was scared shitless at this moment. In the blink of an eye, her expression brightened and she smiled at him. "But I'm sure you're a nice guy."

Alec swallowed. He wasn't sure what to say. He opened his mouth but nothing came out.

Fortunately for him, Magnus walked into the room, a small bag in hand that contained some of Magda's clothes, and make up and all her medication, and a red coat that Alec assumed was also hers.

"I assumed you didn't want to go with just your bloody dressing gown," he said not noticing the conversation that just took place. "We can't take your robe off just yet but I'll bring this anyway just in case. And I'll do your make up in the car."

"Thank you, dear," she said with a smile.  

 

******

The hospital was around a ten minute drive from Magnus' loft. When they get there, Magnus sorted out Magda's paperwork while her arm was stitched up by one of the junior doctors. Then she was taken to X-ray to check her foot.

Alec and Magnus sat at the waiting room. It was mostly empty, save for a lady sitting at the far side of the room with her headphones in and looking at her phone. There was also a man who appeared to be asleep on one of the couches.

As they sat there, it was only then that Alec realised Magnus' hands were shaking. He was rubbing the centre of his palm with his fingers then switched to crossing and uncrossing his arms across his chest every now and then. He was uneasy.

"She'll be okay," Alec said, reassuring him. Magnus gave him a tiny side smile but the worry still didn't leave his face.

"Sorry. I just..." He paused then swallowed. "Bad experience. With something similar. With -" He didn't continue. He pursed his lips and stared at his hands, fingers still uneasy. "It just didn't end very well. And I - " He shook his head. "- I couldn't help but think the worst when she didn't answer the door. And now I'm just relieved that she's okay but I can’t help but worry. I don't know. It’s just me." He shook his head again.

Alec wondered what Magnus meant to say. Was it about his parents? Alec wanted to ask, but now was not the time. He didn't want Magnus to be upset any more than he already was.

Magnus turned to face Alec, placing both hands on his own lap to steady them. "I'm sorry about all this," he said, eyes downcast. "I kind of ruined our night."

Alec sighed then took one of Magnus' hands on his and squeezed it. Magnus' hands were cold. Probably because he was only wearing his top with the sheer back. They were both focused on getting Magda to the hospital that they forgot to take his jacket.

"You didn't ruin anything," he assured him, rubbing both his hands on Magnus' to warm them up and to calm Magnus down. It seemed to help as Magnus appeared steadier. "This wasn't really in anyone's control. And we got to her in time.  That's the good thing."

Magnus rubbed his thumb on the back of Alec's hand. "If she -" he shifted in his seat, eyes still looking at their hands. "- if she ends up needing to stay here overnight, you don't have to stay." He looked at Alec. "I mean, thank you for taking us here but please don't feel obligated to stay."

Alec tipped Magnus chin up to look him in the eyes, then brought his hands back to Magnus'. "Magnus, I think we need to come to an understanding that I, in no way, feel obligated to be doing these things. I'm going to stay because I want to, and not because I'm forced. Okay?"

"But you still have that meeting with Luke tomorrow," Magnus reminded him. In a way, Alec felt relieved that Magnus was kind of distracted from worrying about his neighbour. Even if he was now worried about a different kind of issue. Alec supposed it was the lesser of two evils. At least with this, he had some control over it.

"It's not until the afternoon. I'm sure I can manage." Alec told him. "I'm not leaving you here."

A small smile appeared on Magnus' lips. "Thank you," he said sincerely. "That's very nice of you."

Alec shrugged, cocking his head a little to the side. "Hey, I'm a nice guy. Plus this is bound to be a sure fire way to gain points from the guy I'm dating." This made Magnus chuckle. The sound made Alec's heart skip a beat. He wanted to see Magnus like this, and only this.

"Definitely on the points. And yes, you are a very nice guy," he said smiling shyly at Alec.

Magnus rested his head on Alec's shoulder. Alec put his arm around him, placing it on his shoulder and pulling him closer. Magnus appearing more relaxed than earlier. They both stared at the floor in silence, with only the hushed sounds of the hospital waiting room going around them.

"I'm here, you know," Alec finally spoke. He wasn't sure if this was the right time. But he wanted Magnus to know.

Magnus leaned back to look at him.

Alec returned his gaze, determined to show Magnus he cared. "I'm here for you." He shook his head as if changing his mind. "I mean, not just here. Not just now. But… I want to be with you, to be there for you. Like, not just date you but, you know. More. If you’d have me. Would you like that? Be in a relationship with me?"

He stuttered slightly on the last part. His heart started to beat faster the longer Magnus didn't say anything. He kept his panic at bay, pushing away any thoughts that maybe he had done this too fast, too early. Was this the right time? What if Magnus didn't feel the same way he did about the direction of their relationship?

"Please say something," he said, thankful that his voice didn't break.

 

Magnus stared at Alec in disbelief. Did Alec really say he wanted to be with him, be in a relationship with him? Earlier that night when Alec let slip the 'boyfriend' word, Magnus thought that it was just that. A slip of the tongue. And of course things were going well between them, but he hadn't really seriously thought Alec wanted to be move their relationship forward.

"You know you picked the most romantic place in the world to ask if I could be your boyfriend," Magnus pointed out earning a chuckle from both of them.

"Well, I figured since we almost always get interrupted by something or someone whenever we have a romantic moment, I should go against the flow this time," Alec explained. They both remembered their first meeting, and their first two almost kisses, Magnus' loft earlier tonight. All romantic, most anyway, all interrupted.

"So a hospital waiting room?" Magnus asked, brow raised.

"Fitting for a medical student?" Alec retorted.

Magnus nodded. "Please tell me this isn't how you're going to propose marriage?"

Alec raised up both hands, leaning back slightly. "Woah! Hey, slow down there, Quicksilver. Marriage? Don't you think that's a tad fast? I'm not that easy. I mean, you’re not even my boyfriend yet," He kidded.

They both laughed. Magnus was visibly more relaxed than earlier. When the laughter died down, they looked at each other again, both still smiling.

"You kind of, still haven't answered the question though," Alec pointed out, his eyes wide and bright and still twinkling from the laughter.

Magnus took Alec's hand. "Before I answer. I just want you to know that I have some-," he paused, thinking how to best phrase it. "- baggage. Things I'm not ready to talk about yet." He looked at Alec. "And I will maybe someday. But not now."

"That's okay." Alec reassured him, squeezing his hand in return. "We all have those, right?" Magnus nodded. "I mean, I have them, too. But I'm in this for hopefully a long time. If you are. So we'll have time to tell each other things."

Magnus smiled shyly, looking down at their intertwined hands briefly. He looked at Alec then leaned in and gave him a quick peck on the lips. "Yes. Okay. Boyfriend it is."

Alec smiled but then frowned again when he saw Magnus frown. "What is it?"

"Are you sure you want to a medical student as your boyfriend? And the medical profession in general has very unsociable hours. I mean just this past week was mostly me studying and us not spending time together." Magnus had a guilty look on his face, his brows creased.

"Really? I was your boyfriend for like less than a second and you're already finding ways to get rid of me?" Alec asked, his voice calm. Somehow he found the worried look on Magnus' face really cute.

"No. That's not what I meant. I mean I'm just saying, I want it to be fair for you, too." Magnus explained. "I want this to work. So I'm just putting things out there, laying the cards on the table."

"Well, I guess we're just gonna have to have our dates in libraries and hospital waiting rooms." Alec reasoned. Magnus opened his mouth then closed it. "You're thinking about this way too much." Alec reassured him again. "For now, let's just keep doing what we're doing. What do you think? Do you want this or not?"

Magnus nodded. "Yes. I do want it. Of course, I want it." He finally smiled. Alec was right. If they were both in this for the long haul. They had time to figure things out together. They didn't have to know everything about each other right now. Magnus really wanted this relationship to work. Ever so slowly, Alec was becoming an integral part of his life. And he didn't want to lose him.

"Then it's settled, yeah? You're my boyfriend?" Alec clarified with a smile. Magnus nodded again, smiling back. Alec kissed him on the forehead, then he let Magnus rest his head on his shoulder.

 

Half an hour later, a nurse came to inform them that Magda will be admitted into hospital overnight for observation. They found a hairline fracture in her leg apart from a sprained ankle, and she had bruises on her back likely from the fall. The doctors also found her heart beat and blood pressure to be unusual and wanted to investigate it further. Considering her advanced aged, the medical team decided to keep her for the night.

Alec and Magnus went to the ward to say goodnight. Magnus had offered to stay but she waved him off. Although she made Magnus promise to return the next day to bring her more clothes and take her home once she got cleared.

They got back to Magnus' loft close to one in the morning, both exhausted even if all they did was sit at the waiting area. Magnus' eyes were getting droopy. His exhaustion finally catching up to him. He didn't have much sleep the night before because he studied for his exam. Then there was bowling night and then the hospital. Overall, it's been a very long day.

"Can you still stay tonight?" Magnus asked Alec as they entered the loft. He really did not want to be alone tonight.

"Of course." Alec responded, moving closer and giving Magnus a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Magnus sighed, relieved and couldn't stop a small smile from escaping his lips as he leaned into the hug.

When they parted, Chairman Meow padded over to them with a soft meow. Magnus gave him a little pat as he passed by then the cat went to Alec.

"I'll just get some clothes for you to change into," He told Alec then went to the room. Alec had the Chairman in his arms, petting him slowly.

Magnus tried to find the loosest sweatpants and t-shirt he had. The pants were probably going to be shorter on Alec, and the shirt slightly fitter, but it had to do.

Alec knocked on the door frame before he entered. Magnus assumed he had tucked the Chairman in on the couch.

"Here. I think these might fit you." He handed Alec the clothes. "There are fresh towels on the shelves by the bathroom, and toothbrushes are in the drawer by the sink so just help yourself. And use whichever product is there."

"Thank you." Alec said, taking the clothes from him. "You can go first if you'd like."

Magnus shook his head. "No, you go first. I'll just go next door and clean up the mess. It's been left too long." He rubbed his right eye then remembered he was still wearing eyeliner so he stopped.

"Magnus, you're tired. Let me do it." Alec offered.

Magnus smiled at him. "It's okay really. I can manage." He assured Alec. "Plus, she won't like it if I let the ‘strapping young man’ –“ he quoted Magda “- clean up the mess in her kitchen." He winked then spun Alec around, giving him a push towards the ensuite bathroom. "Just go. I'll just clean up the blood and the broken glass so it doesn't look like a crime scene. Then I'll clean the rest tomorrow."

Alec wasn't completely satisfied with it but he gave in.

Magnus went next door to clean up the mess in the kitchen. When he got back, Alec had already finished washing up and was sat on the bed perusing through one of Magnus' anatomy books. Magnus could see it was open on a page with leg bones on it. 

"Doing a bit of light reading?" Magnus asked as he walked towards his closet to get his pajamas.

Alec looked up at him and chuckled. "It looks interesting. Although, please tell me this isn't what you read before going to bed."

Magnus shook his head. "Oh God, no. I just put it on the nightstand before I rushed out yesterday." He walked to his dresser and started removing his jewellery. "I mean I like studying but I don't love it that much."

"What?" Alec asked feigning shock. "And here I was thinking all you did was study medical stuff. I've been deceived!"

Magnus rolled his eyes at him but still chuckled. "I didn't know you were a drama queen."

"Didn't used to, until I met you." Alec retorted with a grin.

Magnus' mouth dropped then narrowed his eyes at Alec. "Oh ha-ha. Funny," He gathered his clothes and walked towards the ensuite then stopped just by the door. "And I know you like this drama queen." He winked at Alec making him chuckle, then walked inside and closed the door.

After washing up, Magnus felt his tiredness creep in. Alec wasn't in the bedroom when Magnus came out of the bathroom. A noise from the kitchen told him Alec must just be getting a drink. As much as he would have liked to go out and see what his boyfriend - yes boyfriend, he can think that now - was up to, the bed looked far too inviting. He got under the covers and closed his eyes as soon as his head hit the pillow. He felt the bed shift some time later and instinctively moved closer to the warmth of Alec's body.

"I'm sorry I couldn't wait," Magnus said sleepily, fighting to keep his eyes open.

Alec put one arm around him, pulling him closer so that his cheek was resting on Alec's collar. "It's okay. Just go to sleep," Alec said kissing Magnus' forehead.

Magnus inhaled and scooted even closer, snaking his arm around Alec's waist. "You smell really nice," he mumbled, a little smile on his lips. He felt and heard the vibration from Alec's chest as he let out a chuckle.

"Alexander?" Magnus said in a very soft sleepy voice.

"Hm?"

"I'm really glad you're h..." Magnus never got to finish as slumber took him. The last memory he had was of being enveloped further in warmth, breathing in Alec's sweet scent. And for the first time in a very long time, Magnus slept peacefully. And he felt like he was home. 

Chapter Text

Magnus stirred awake. Yesterday was a very long and eventful day. By the end of it, he felt very tired. He didn't even remember falling asleep last night. However, this morning he felt quite rested. He'd never slept as peacefully as he did last night.

He felt a warmth emanating from behind him and an arm draped around his waist. A steady stream of breath touched the nape of his neck. A smile escaped his lips. Alec had spent the night after they returned from the hospital.

He put his arm gently over Alec's, fingers trailing over his skin lightly. He wanted to turn around, to face Alec but didn't to wake his boyfriend. Alec was probably as tired as he was last night so he wanted him to sleep a little longer. Magnus was quite content to stay as they were for now, basking in the warmth and security of Alec's arms. It was nice to wake up to someone like this. And he was glad that it was Alec. Him and no one else.

Magnus shot a glance at the clock beside his bed. It was close to seven o'clock. He usually got up around six-thirty on a Saturday especially when he had to shop for clients, or chores or more studying to do.

Ten more minutes. He told himself keeping his eyes closed. Today he decided he was going to wait until the very last minute before getting out of bed. Chairman Meow, or Church if he came around, would likely be scratching at the closed bedroom door soon, asking to be fed.

Magnus hoped today his cats found something else to amuse themselves and not ask for food too soon. He intertwined his fingers with Alec's and pulled their hands close to his chest. Alec stirred with the movement, shifting even closer to Magnus but stayed asleep.

Alec shifted away from him but didn't pull his arm away completely. It still lay resting on Magnus' stomach. Magnus immediately missed the warmth. He turned around slowly to face Alec who was now only slightly side-lying, his head turned towards Magnus. Eyes closed, breathing steadily. Magnus brushed a strand of hair away from Alec's face. He held his breath as he watched his sleeping angel, sending out a little prayer to the universe for orchestrating their meeting.

Meowing from outside the bedroom door informed Magnus that his beloved pets were back and demanding food. Sighing, Magnus kissed Alec's shoulder lightly before slowly and reluctantly pulling away from Alec and out of bed. He was careful not to shift too much lest he wake Alec up.

He padded quietly out the door, greeted by two cats both meowing. Chairman Meow brushed affectionately against his leg. Church being Church, kept his distance but meowed looking up at Magnus. At least he didn't look grumpily at him this time.

"Good morning, my darlings," Magnus said softly as he pet Chairman gently on the head. "We have to be quiet okay? We don't want to wake up the sleeping angel," he whispered. "He was very tired last night." As if they understood, both cats responded with a quieter meow than what they did earlier.

Magnus walked over to the pantry to get the cat food closely followed by his pets. After putting the food in each of their food bowls, he proceeded to make a fresh pot of coffee. He thought about making breakfast but he knew the fridge only contained a quarter bottle of milk, two eggs, and some of the banoffee pie. There was half a box of cereal in the pantry. He didn't have time to go shopping yet due to his exams and didn't really have time to think it through when he'd asked Alec to stay the night. To be fair, he hadn't even known Alec was going to stay until last night.

He could go out and buy something from a nearby shop but that meant having to go back to his room to change out of his pajamas. He didn't really want to do that since Alec was still asleep. So he settled on waiting for Alec to get up. For now, he poured himself a cup of coffee, and made study materials for a tutorial session he had later in the day.

Alec walked into the kitchen around half an hour later. His hair was messy like he'd run his fingers through it in an attempt to fix it.

"Good morning," Magnus greeted him with a smile, his left elbow on the counter and his chin resting on his left hand. "Rocking the Michael Jackson there."

Alec looked down to see Magnus' pants were a bit short on him. The hems were a couple of inches above his ankle. Although the fit of the sweatpants was alright. Alec's legs were clearly longer than Magnus'. Alec chuckled at the sight as he walked over to Magnus, giving him a kiss on the cheek and mumbling a 'Good morning.' Magnus straightened up as Alec wrapped his arms around him from behind.

"Been up long?" he asked, resting his chin on Magnus' shoulder, looking at the papers on the counter. It amused Magnus that Alec was always curious and interested about what he did.

"Less than an hour." Magnus responded turning his head so his face was inches away from Alec's. "I have nothing to offer for breakfast, by the way."

"Hm," Alec pursed his lips in thought. "I'll forgive you if you give me coffee," he said smiling at Magnus.

"That I have plenty of," Magnus said pointing to the pot. He moved half-heartedly out of Alec's arms and went to pour a cup for his boyfriend. Cup in hand, he walked over to Alec who was now sitting on the kitchen counter, legs dangling a foot or so above the floor and handed him the cup.

Alec held the cup with both hands. "So what are your plans for today?" he asked then took a sip.

Magnus walked back to Alec and stood between Alec's legs and placing his hands on Alec's waist. "Let's see. I have a tutorial session and shopping for a client in Manhattan this afternoon. I'll also have to swing by the hospital."

Alec wrapped his legs around Magnus pulling him closer. "So your morning is free?" he asked grinning, their faces inches apart.

Magnus smiled back, head tilted to one side, flicking a brow up. "Yes. What are your plans? Work?"

Alec shook his head. "No work. Not much planned. Apart from the meeting with Luke." He held Magnus' gaze. "So I can have your morning?"

"Haven't had enough of me yet?" Magnus asked coyly.

"Never." Alec looked from Magnus eyes to his lips several times, a smile on his face. Finally, he closed the distance, capturing Magnus' lips in a kiss.

*******
They spent the morning just hanging out at Magnus' loft. By mid-morning, they both got hungry and promptly devoured the rest of the banoffee pie as they watched Saturday morning cartoons. At around lunch time, they finally went out of the loft.

They both visit Magda at the hospital before going their separate ways. Alec leaving ahead as Magnus was called by Magda’s doctors for a meeting. He was the only one listed as her family and they wanted to discuss her admission.

Alec got back to his apartment around half past one in the afternoon. He quickly got cleaned up and into new clothes for his meeting. Luke had texted him the address earlier. Alec could feel his excitement building up as he pulled into the customer parking lot in front of the restaurant.

His excitement disintegrated and he became overcome with nerves as he recognised the name of the place - the Jade Wolf. He had read a lot of great reviews of the place. It was one of the best Asian Fusion restaurants in New York. The waiting list for dinner reservations was at least three months.

Alec's throat tightened as he forced a swallow, his heart racing. He took a deep breath to calm himself. It was of little help. He took a couple of small jumps to shake of his nerves then went in the restaurant.

They were still closed but he could see the staff were preparing for the evening guests. One of the staff approached him, he assumed it was the maître’d. He was told Luke was expecting him and was shown to his office. Alec sat on the far end of the couch close to the door.

Alec could see Luke where he sat. The older man was talking to one of his chefs. He was tall, of dark skin. For some reason, he reminded Alec of the guy on those old-spice ads. Luke had a gentle and kind look on his face. Alec hoped he was as kind and gentle as he looked. All the staff appeared to be happy around their boss so Alec took this as a good sign. And surely, Magnus wouldn't recommend Alec to this guy if Luke was a horrible person. Alec also knew Magnus would never be friends with a horrible person. Thinking about Magnus calmed him down.

After ten minutes, Luke finally walked into his office.

"Alec, I'm Luke nice to meet you finally," he approached with a smile, his hand outstretched. Alec stood up and shook his hand, greeting him back, and both giving each other a firm grip. "I am sorry about the wait. We are expecting a VIP tonight so I just needed to make sure things were in place."

"That's no problem," Alec said. "I'm sure you're a busy man. Thank you for meeting with me."

Luke took a seat on one of the single-seater couches across from Alec. "Always glad to help out Magnus'... Friend?" Luke said his tone and brow rising.

Alec opened his mouth then closed it, a blush rising to his cheek. He could only give a nod. It wasn't that he was ashamed of saying it. It was just very new. They've been official for less than 24 hours. Alec has not yet fully processed it yet.

Luke seemed to be forgiving about this. He just chuckled and moved on. "So tell me, any experience in professional kitchens? Cooking?"

"Just the ones in my culinary classes and a few short jobs as a kitchen assistant when I was overseas." Alec said. He was regaining his confidence. He knew kitchens.

"Interesting." Luke commented. "What classes did you take?"

"I took the basic cookery classes. I have the level 3 certificate." Alec responded.

"Why didn't you go into the industry?" Luke asked. "If you don't mind me asking."

Alec shook his head. "I don't mind at all." He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "To be completely honest, I never really thought about it." He looked at Luke. "I took the classes because I love to cook and just wanted to learn more technical skills. I never really thought about doing it professionally. I can't anyway. Because I have to become a lawyer someday. Take over the family business."

Luke narrowed his eyes at him. "Family business?" Then his eyes widened as if realising something. "You mean Lightwood&Lightwood Incorporated?"

Alec nodded. "Run and owned by my parents. Yes."

Luke nodded in thought. "Interesting. And you will take over the company someday?"

"That's what I was told," Alec said honestly.

Luke looked like he wanted to ask further but stopped himself. "Well, if you still want to hone your technical cooking skills before you become a lawyer then come with me." He stood up. Alec followed him as they walked towards the kitchen. "I assume Magnus mentioned about the community classes?"

Alec nodded. "Yes. He said you were looking for someone to run it?"

"I am, yes. It's not paid though. All voluntary. One night a week."

"That's okay. I'm okay with that." Alec said, beaming.

Luke led them past the kitchen into another room adjacent to it. It was another kitchen but slightly smaller than the one they passed. "This is where we run them. Just a way of giving back to the community."

Luke walked them over to the counter at the front of the room. "Alaric is my head chef for this restaurant. He runs the classes on Mains and Appetisers. Those classes are popular and they draw quite a crowd. He could always use an assist or back up."

Alec's eyes brightened up. "I'll take anything you give me."

Luke smiled at his enthusiasm. "We are also looking for someone to run the baking classes." Luke crossed his arms across his chest. "From what I hear from Magnus, you're amazing at baking. The man can't stop talking about that banoffee pie you made."

Alec shrugged his shoulders, blushing. "I can bake a decent dessert from time to time."

"He said you were going to say that. Don't downplay it." Luke told him chuckling. "Magnus has never talked up food that way before. And he's eaten my wife's baking as well as this restaurant's food. It's either he really likes you or that was really good pie. Or maybe both. And he could be really biased."

Alec smiled shyly, scratching the back of his head. Luke let out a hearty laugh.

"But I trust him and his judgement.” Luke assured Alec. “Listen. Why don't you have a think about it?" Luke offered.

"I'll tell Alaric you can assist him with his classes." Alec nodded. "And if you decide to do both Alaric's and the baking classes, and add one or two more nights in one of my restaurants, you'll be considered as part of my staff, albeit part-time. So I'll have to pay you. And if that happens, I'll see what I can do about adding those to work towards a Level 4 qualification or further. Should you change your mind about your career path?"

"You can do that? Get credits for the certification, I mean." Alec clarified but couldn’t hide the excitement in his eyes.

Luke smiled. "Alaric is a guest lecturer at one of the culinary arts schools. And they use our facilities for apprenticeships and such. There's more than one way to get your qualifications. If you want it. A lot of my guys here started that way."

Alec opened his mouth but then closed it, not knowing what to say.

"You don't have to give me your answer right now.’ Luke continued. “I understand you have to balance things with your classes and your other job. Just know what's being offered. And the classes won't start until another three weeks so you have time to think."

Alec nodded. "Thank you," he said finally getting his voice back. "I'll let you know as soon as possible. But I want to confirm now that I can definitely do one night. Even just the assisting job." Alec could not contain his elation.

He always got excited about cooking. Creating dishes, the taste, the look, the smell. The thought of knowing that preparing food the right way could change someone's mood, could make them contented, and satisfied. It started with his siblings and his friends, and now Magnus. Seeing the pleasure they found in good food, made Alec feel happy, too.

Luke took him around the restaurant and introduced him to Alaric and some of the staff. Alec found that some of them were retired from the army because of an injury or some sort of trauma. Luke introduced them to cooking as a form of therapy and a way to get back on their feet after their tours.

Alec ended up staying until the restaurant opened around five thirty. He stayed to listen to their stories and the joys they found in cooking and working in the restaurant. It was hard work but they all loved it. They all had the same look on their faces as Alec felt when he cooked.

They were happy to share their experiences, in the battlefield when it came to it, but also in the kitchen. They even let Alec do some peeling potatoes and vegetables. They were all still on food preparation for the dinner menu. Alec knew what he was doing so they were more than happy to let him help.

He asked as many questions as he could. He had wanted to ask more but had run out of time.

"Thank you, again for the opportunity," he said as he and Luke walked out the restaurant.

"It was my pleasure," Luke replied. "Say hello to Magnus for me. And tell him my daughter is still waiting for him to visit."

Alec nodded. "I will let him know. It was nice to meet you." He turned around and walked to his car.

Before he got in the car, Luke called his attention again. "I just remembered. We're doing this charity fund raising barbecue thing next weekend. We're always looking for extra hands to help man the grills. If you're interested, let me know."

Alec nodded. "I will check my shift at the cafe, but I think I'll be free. Thank you."

They gave each other a wave then Alec drove off.

****
Alec drove straight to Magnus' loft unsure if the other man was already home. He felt the need to see Magnus, and share with him about his day. He was going to tell his siblings later. But right now, it was Magnus whom he wanted to tell first. It was Magnus he needed, wanted to share this with.

He dialled his boyfriend's number as he walked up to the building.

"Hey, you home?" Alec said immediately as soon as Magnus answered.

"Just got in. Why?" Magnus asked curious.

"Great! Wait for me?" Alec said then ran for the door that was just about to close after a tenant walked in. He managed to get his foot on the gap before it closed.

"Alexander?" he heard Magnus' voice on the phone.

"I'm coming up." He answered quickly then ran up the stairs two at a time. A few minutes later he was in front of Magnus' open front door, short of breath but an eager smile on his face. He walked in to find his boyfriend coming out of the bedroom.

Alec took two long strides and he was in front of Magnus. He circled an arm around Magnus waist and kissed him full on the mouth.

Once they parted, Magnus opened his eyes, still a little dazed. "Ok. I take it, it went well? Or at least something did."

"It went very well," Alec said with a smile, and gave Magnus another quick kiss on the lips. "It was amazing." Another kiss. "Thank you." Another kiss. "Thank you."

 

Magnus chuckled into the last kiss. "Okay. Gratitude accepted." He said with a smile. He took Alec's hand and led him to the kitchen. There were two shopping bags full of groceries on the counter. "Come on. You can tell me details while I put this away and get dinner ready. Is pasta okay?" he said as he started to unload his shopping.

Alec nodded as he sat on the bar stool. He then started to tell his boyfriend about getting to the restaurant and being nervous. He recounted the past three hours in detail. At some point in his story, he had gotten up and started helping Magnus put the shopping away. Then he continued the story about Luke's offer. Magnus had never seen Alec so animated in his storytelling. Usually, he was the listener and let Magnus talk. This time it was the reverse.

Magnus could see Alec beaming with excitement. Especially about the possibility of getting the Level 4 certification.

"That's a higher skill set. Learning more complex dishes and techniques," Alec continued as he absentmindedly pushed Magnus down to sit on the barstool while he got ingredients for their dinner.

Magnus didn't have the heart to interrupt him. Alec was like a little kid unleashed at a candy store. Magnus was delighted to see Alec in action in the kitchen. He has always seen and eaten the finished product but has never gotten a chance to see Alec in his niche. Until tonight. Alec was not familiar with Magnus' kitchen but somehow he still moved with fluidity, with familiarity. Like he was in his comfort zone.

Magnus sat there smiling, listening intently as Alec recalled the events and talking about the guys he met at the restaurant and their stories. Magnus could get a word or two in to acknowledge or a short question to clarify information.

"Did you know that Alaric used to be an army chef?" Alec asked.

Magnus nodded. "Luke mentioned it, but I don't know the whole story," he said urging Alec to continue.

"His story is amazing. He used to be an army chef. And then he trained to go on the field. He has amazing knife skills. I wasn't sure if that was from the chef training or what." Alec continued with his story as he set their food down on the bench and sitting on the bar stool next to Magnus. He continued talking as they ate dinner.

Magnus admired this new side of Alec he hasn't seen before. Alec gave off this impression that he was quiet. And he was. He was not one to dominate a conversation or start small talk. Alec didn't talk much, not because he was shy or that he was an introvert. It was because he preferred to listen, probably influenced by his being the supportive older brother. It was just a matter of finding the right topic. Like now. Seeing him talk about something he was passionate about, gave Magnus a new sense of adoration towards his boyfriend.

Alec's energy died down slightly at the end of their meal. Magnus got up and put the dishes away. "So are you going to take it?" He asked as he put the left overs into a separate container.

"I think so. Yes." Alec said, nodding, his eyes glazed over. Then he looked up at Magnus. "I have to see about the café though. I may have to give that up. Aline's probably gonna kick my ass." They both chuckled.

"And we both know she can do that." Magnus added. "But she'll understand." He has gotten to know Alec's friends over the past month or so. He has found that Aline was short but she was feisty. But she was also very nice.
They drifted over to the couch after Magnus finished putting the dishes away. Magnus was sitting up, Alec stretched out on the couch, his head on Magnus' lap.

Alec has gone back to his listening mode and asked Magnus about his afternoon. Albeit, Magnus can still hear a glint of giddiness in Alec's voice. Magnus told him Magda was going to stay in the hospital for the next week or so for her leg to heal and likely rehabilitation. There was also something about her health that they were still investigating. Then he talked about the other jobs he had to do in Manhattan.

Magnus combed his fingers through Alec's hair as they both stayed there in silence, contemplating the events of the day. He bent down and nuzzled his nose on Alec's before kissing him. He captured Alec's bottom lip, his nose pressed on Alec's chin then moved to Alec's upper lip. Alec put his hand up, grabbing the back of Magnus' head and pulling him close for another kiss. He moaned when Magnus sucked particularly hard on his bottom lip.

Without breaking the kiss, Alec pushed himself up and twisted to face Magnus. Grabbing his boyfriend by the front of his shirt, he lay back down on the couch, pulling Magnus on top of him. Magnus resting between his boyfriend's spread legs. Alec cupped Magnus' face with his hands, pushing his tongue deeper into Magnus' mouth, both of them letting out a moan. Magnus moved his hand up Alec's shirt, his fingernails digging into Alec's toned abs. Alec let out another moan when Magnus brushed against his nipple.

They both ground their crotches against the others, cocks starting to harden from the friction. Alec pulled the hem of Magnus' shirt up and over his head then threw it somewhere. He wasn't sure of the direction and he didn't care. Because at that moment, Magnus started attacking his neck with kisses, sucking particularly hard on the crook of Alec's neck. Alec was sure there was going to be a mark there the next morning, if not now.

Magnus' hands rustled up Alec's shirt, and explored his torso again. Alec pushed himself up to a sitting position as Magnus pulled his shirt off and threw it behind him. They looked at each other, breathing heavily. Their eyes darting to each other's lips, and chest, back to the eyes.

Magnus licked his lips and that was enough cue for Alec to snake his arms around Magnus neck to resume their kissing. He fell back on the couch again. Magnus started to trail kisses down Alec’s jaw, neck, and chest. He licked and sucked on Alec's now taut nipple earning him another moan, while his fingers were busy unbuttoning Alec's pants. He pulled the zipper down slowly as his lips trailed back up to kiss Alec's lips. His hands could feel Alec's hardness even through his underwear.

"Magnus- " was all Alec could say as he bucked his hips up to get his boyfriend to touch him some more. Magnus himself was already hard inside his pants.

Alec pulled him in for another kiss, their tongues wrestling. Magnus grazed his palm over Alec's erection before trailing his index finger over the elastic of Alec's briefs.

The loud sound of the buzzer made Magnus' hand freeze where it was. They both stop kissing but their lips still together. They look at each other both not wanting to move. A silent communication of 'I heard nothing. Did you?' passed between them.

The buzzer went again. Twice this time.

"Expecting someone?" Alec asked finally parting their lips. Magnus shook his head. The buzzer went again.

"Son of a b-" Magnus cursed but stopped himself. He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead on Alec's shoulder. The buzzer went again. Magnus raised his head up and looked at Alec. "Ignore it. They'll go away," he said and kissed Alec again.

True enough the buzzer stopped. They continued kissing.

Then Magnus's phone started to ring. They both stopped. The phone stopped ringing for a second then rang again.

"I think whoever it is, really wants to see you." Alec stated.

Magnus let out a defeated cry, ignoring the call once more. "No! I don't want to see them. I just really want to suck you off right now. And ride you really, really hard." He complained, his frustration clearly reduced his filter to nothing. Alec blushed at Magnus' bluntness. "Oh don't blush. I know you want it, too," He said, narrowing his eyes at Alec, annoyed - not at Alec but at the situation.

Alec opened his mouth then closed it not really knowing what to say. He ended up just chuckling.

They reluctantly untangled themselves from each other. Alec looked around to where his shirt was, while Magnus still clearly has not given up and was staring at Alec's crotch.

Alec followed his gaze, an amused smile on his face. "Magnus, eyes up top." Magnus shook his head in a last act of defiance.

A loud and frantic knocking on his door and Catarina's voice calling his name, snapped him out it.

"Magnus, I know you're home." she called again. 

Magnus closed his eyes. "I love my friends, I love my friends." He repeated it to himself like a mantra.

Alec gave him a peck on the cheek. "I'll get it," he said as he buttoned up his pants. He grabbed his shirt off the floor and put it on. He threw Magnus' shirt to him on his way to the door, the shirt landing on Magnus' head.

Alec opened the door to see a disgruntled Catarina at the door, hands full of bags and there were more on the floor. "Catarina, hey!"

She looked up at Alec surprised. "Alec. Didn't know you were here," she said then shuffled her way past him, bringing the bags in. She saw Magnus walking towards her, looking grumpy and hair dishevelled. At least he was already wearing his shirt. Catarina looked back at Alec then back to her friend. "Should I even ask? Or should I just let the raging hickey on his neck explain?"

Magnus gave her a fake smile. "Well, that raging hickey was all the action I got because you arrived." Magnus said bluntly. Alec stood by the doorway, blushing. He was the subject of said conversation but this time he was thankful that the two ignored him.

"Well, normally I would be really sorry and apologetic," she started. "But tonight I'm desperate. So, sorry. I did not mean to interrupt sexy time."

She looked at Alec then at Magnus then set the bags down. "I have a valid explanation. I promise. But first, can you help me with the bags? There's more outside." She said as she made her way towards the door again. Magnus and Alec followed suit.

Once all the bags were in and they were all sitting around the couch, Magnus crossed his arms across his chest and looked at her still annoyed. "Do I get my explanation now?"

"Yes, oh Magnificent Bane." she said with a bow, jokingly. From where Alec was sitting, the two were annoyed but not at each other - Magnus because he was (sexually) frustrated and Catarina because of whatever brought her here. And they were not fighting. It was entertaining to watch them bicker. He wondered if it was he and Izzy looked like that when they argued.

"Well, remember I had a team of helpful elves to help me pack up the gift bags for the fundraiser next weekend?" She asked, Magnus nodded. "Well, thanks to your good friend Ragnor related-to-the-Queen-my-ass Fell and his love for adventurous and exotic food, said team of elves are now all home sick with food poisoning. Including him. Thank goodness for that last bit." She said smugly. "And I have to get all 300 of these packed. We were supposed to finish it last night but clearly didn't. And I have other stuff to do. Like find more volunteers because I'm not sure if they'll all be well enough for the weekend."

She looked at Magnus pleading. She was very stressed out. "Your exams are done, right? You can help tonight? I know you said you'll help out on the weekend but I need you tonight and possibly tomorrow or sometime in the week."

Magnus narrowed his eyes at her. "Just to be clear, I'm doing this tonight for the kids. All other days it's for you and the kids."

"Agreed," she said. "Everything is for the kids." She looked at Alec. "Can I rope you in for this good cause?"

Alec nodded. "It would be my pleasure. Although I'm not sure I can help on the weekend. I've already made plans." He remembered his conversation with Luke. A confused look from Magnus told him he may not have mentioned that when they were having dinner. He was about to explain but Catarina started again.

She put both hands up. "That's okay. Your time tonight will be greatly appreciated. But if you know anyone who can volunteer for the weekend, please send them my way."

"I can ask my siblings." Alec offered. "They have nothing on for this coming weekend. They might ask for college credits though."

"That is fabulous and no problem. I can write them recommendation letters." She clapped her hands. She got up and started sorting through the bags.

"What do I tell them exactly?" Alec clarified.

"Well, it’s basically this fund raising event to raise awareness and funds for the child cancer ward and for the kids in the foster system. Sort of like a fair where there are games, and face painters, and food booths. So people to man those are always needed."

She paused and looked at Magnus. "Which reminds me, I asked Luke on the last minute if they could do a food booth and he agreed. And he was going to ask Clary and Jocelyn if they can do the face paint station."

"That's wonderful." Magnus said, while helping her sort through the stuff for the goodie bags.

"Wait." Alec interrupted. "Luke like Luke I just met with today?" He clarified. Magnus nodded. "I guess I might be helping out on the weekend after all."

"He was your prior commitment?"

Alec nodded. "I just need to check with work. But it shouldn't be a problem."

"Oh this is awesome." She shrieked in excitement. Her prior disgruntled mood all gone.

For the rest of the night, they sort through all the bags putting toys and candies and lollies in each one. Catarina continued grumbling about different ways to murder Ragnor. Magnus chiming in different ideas. Alec would react from time to time but enjoyed working in silence just watching the two friends talk.

"By the way, he said he has the runs so bad. He needs a butt plug." Catarina said and she and Magnus both laughed.

"Well if he wants. I still haven't opened that buttplug he got me for my birthday." Magnus offered.

Alec looked at him, eyebrow raised. "He gave you a buttplug for your birthday?"

"It was a joke. And don't worry. I never used it." Magnus said shrugging. "Unless you want me to keep it for future use?" he said flicking both eyebrows up twice at Alec.

Alec just shook his head not making eye contact. "I'm just going to keep packing these bags."

Magnus and Catarina both laugh at him. Once all 300 and five bags were packed, it was already eleven o'clock. Alec insisted on dropping Catarina off at her place with all the bags instead of taking a cab. Magnus waved her off when she apologised again for interrupting their time. He was already too tired at this point to even think about sex. Although he would have loved for Alec to stay over again, but he understood that he couldn't be too greedy. There was plenty of time to spend with Alec from now on.

Magnus helped them load everything in Alec's car. They gave each other a kiss.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" Alec asked, hand still on Magnus' waist. "I'm free tomorrow afternoon after three."

Magnus nodded. "I have work til four but should be home by five. I’m free by then unless Cat comes over again." They both chuckled then Alec gave him another kiss before getting in the car. Catarina already sitting in the passenger seat, a mischievous grin on her face as she waved at her friend. Magnus just stuck his tongue out at her.

Once they rounded the corner, he turned around and went back upstairs.

 

In the car, Catarina looked at Alec who was focused on the road. "So you two are getting serious?" she asked.

His lip twitched to a smile. "Yes." He responded coolly. "We are official actually."

"What? Since when?" she exclaimed. "And you two failed to mention that during the three hours of goodie bags?" She crossed her hands.

"Honestly, it was only last night." Alec told her about the events of Friday night and about Magda. He wasn't sure if Magnus wanted to tell Catarina himself but she just waved it off and said it was okay. Magnus wouldn't mind either way. Besides, he and Catarina were still going to talk about it even if Catarina already knew.

"Magda told me a little about Magnus' parents." Alec confessed. "Not all of it. But she said they hurt him?" He stole a glance at Catarina, whose brows were creased.

She gave a small nod when he looked again. "He also said he had a bad experience similar to Magda's circumstances last night."

Catarina sighed. "Yes. Is all I can say. If you want to know, you'll have to ask him." Alec nodded.

"Honestly I'm a little scared," she started. Alec looked at her as they slowed down at the lights. "He falls quite fast. And gives his all. In every relationship I have seen him in, he always gave it his all. And he always ended up broken into pieces. I meant what I said before. He really is very happy when he's with you. A very different kind of happy. So I hope you don't leave him the way the others have."

She looked at him. "Magnus, he has a lot of fears and insecurities that he doesn't always talk about. And he's going to pretend that things are okay. He will smile and laugh. He'll build up walls to protect himself, because that's what he has always done. Don’t let him do that. He will run away if he feels that he will get left behind again. He doesn't believe he deserves anyone's love.” Her brows were furrowed, concern in her eyes. “Take really good care of him. Okay?" Alec looked at her and nodded sincerely.

When they get to Catarina's, Alec helped her unload everything and they said their goodnight.

 

Once he got home, he lay on his bed, taking his phone out. He smiled when he saw Magnus' picture that was his wallpaper. He saw the smile on Magnus' face, the twinkle in his eyes. There was no loneliness, no sorrow in those eyes at that particular moment. Alec wanted to keep it that way.

He went to his contacts and typed on it. Then decided to send a message.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Just got home. Goodnight. xxx

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
That's good to hear. Goodnight, Alexander. xxx

Chapter Text

The week went by in a blur of putting together materials for the fair, having working bees for the booths, and finalising plans for the actual day. Jace and Izzy signed up to help with some of the booths for the Saturday fair.

Catarina was quite the event coordinator and everyone was assigned a task. Magnus became her right hand man, in Ragnor's absence. The latter only being in somewhat a workable condition by Thursday.

As usual, Alec and Magnus met up for coffee or spent their breaks together in campus in order to spend some time together between class, work and matters for the fair.

A few times, Alec got roped into helping Catarina and Magnus with the preparations. Not that he minded, of course. Since it was time well spent with his boyfriend.

Alec also sorted out his work at the café. Aline was supportive in his decision to leave but was sad that they wouldn't get to work together anymore. They both decided to try and get as many shifts together as possible during Alec's last two weeks of work. He was going to start at the Jade Wolf a week before the cooking classes started.

Izzy, Jace and Max were supportive of his decision, too. Izzy in particular, who, to Alec's horror, had signed up for the baking classes.

Jace and Max showed support by offering to stay outside the establishment, ready with fire extinguishers and the fire department on speed dial. Jace further suggested they get the fire trucks to be on stand-by outside.

Alec made a note to fully disclose to Luke about a possible imminent disaster in the facility. He hoped any mishaps caused by his sister wouldn't be grounds of his getting fired from the on the spot.

The event was going to be held at the University park near the hospital. By Friday afternoon, there were some last minute tasks that were unfinished so Magnus' afternoon was dedicated to helping with the set up. After class and after having a quick lunch together, Alec went to his shift at the cafe while Magnus met up with Catarina to do more errands for the fair.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Just finished work. How's the build going?

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Still quite a bit to do. Catarina is starting to freak out. Are you off to pick up your siblings?

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Yeah. Just got home now to wash up. Will be driving in a bit.

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
I may need a wash later, too. ;)

Alec blushed as his imagination ran wild. This was getting more and more difficult to control.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
You're a tease, you know that?

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Why, Alexander? I'm not teasing. I'm merely stating a fact. Xxx

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Of course you are. :-p

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
I'm going to drive now. I'll see you later.

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Okay, darling. Drive safely. Thanks again for helping out. I know tonight is supposed to be bowling night.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
That's no problem. Missing one night of bowling won't kill them. Plus, Max is really excited to be able to help. He didn't like being left out during volunteer orientation.

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
We're very excited to have him, too.

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
You better not be driving while texting right now. I'll talk to you later. XXXXX

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
I'm not. I'm still parked. I promise.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Will now drive as soon as I send this text. See you later. xxx

Alec threw his phone on the passenger seat and started to drive. Izzy, Max and Jace were all ready by the time he got to his parent's house. Max's bag had apparently been packed since the middle of the week. With Maryse and Robert being away, again, for the weekend on another business trip, and with no extra activities for school, the younger Lightwoods were allowed to stay overnight at Alec's apartment after bowling. Mrs Milligan was given the day off.

"Alec!" Max beamed as soon as he got into the car, bag thrown to the other end of the backseat. "I got an A+ in chemistry! And I didn't burn anything down."

"That's reassuring." Alec said twisting around to ruffle his younger brother's hair. Max smiled at him but then frowned when he saw the empty passenger seat. "Looking for someone?" Alec asked, one brow raised.

"Are we meeting Magnus at your school?" Max asked, his eyes hopeful.

Alec looked at his brother. "Yes. They're busy setting things up." Alec now just realised how fond Max was of Magnus. And they've only really met once. "He and Catarina had to do some last minute shopping for materials, too."

Max's face lightened up. Only Izzy and Jace were allowed to go to the volunteer orientation that Catarina called during the week, so Max hasn't seen Magnus since they played bowling together. Although he has spoken to him on the phone a couple of times during the week when Magnus happened to be with Alec when Max called.

A thump on the side of the car caught Alec and Max's attention. Izzy opened the passenger door only to be yanked away by Jace, who scrambled in really quickly on the passenger seat.

"Hey!" Jace said, catching his breath. They hear Izzy shout Jace's name from outside the car, then she stuck her head in through the open window.

"No fair, Jace. I called shotgun." She complained then gave Alec a quick kiss on the cheek.

"We both called shotgun." Jace stuck his tongue out at her. "And you're too slow." He said smugly, shaking his head.

"I wasn't slow. I got here first." She whined again then then opened the door car door, one hand on her waist.

"Yes. But my butt got on this seat first." Jace interjected.

"That's not the rule of shotgun. I called it first." She looked at her older brother for help. "Alec! He's changing the rules."

"I'm not changing it. We both called it." Jace answered back.

"Did not!" Izzy responded back.

Alec rolled his eyes. It was one of those afternoons, he supposed. He looked at his sister then at his brother. "Okay. No witness so we settle this with sudden death rock paper scissors."

Izzy and Jace faced each other and did rock, paper scissors. It took them three quick tries, tying all three times, before Jace held out scissors and Izzy rock.

"Damn it!" Jace exclaimed.

"Ha!" Izzy shouted smugly then stuck her tongue out at Jace. "Gimme my seat!" Then she looked at Alec. "Thank you, big bro."

"Sorry, Jace." Alec said. "Maybe next time."

Jace huffed then got out of the car, Izzy quickly getting in to take hers.

"We're gonna have to endure Taylor Swift songs the whole ride to the university." Jace complained as he got in the car.

"You did lose this one so it's your fault." Max pointed out shrugging his shoulders.

Jace pulled Max into a playful headlock and ruffled his hair. "Don't rub it in, you smart ass."

"Jace, stop." Max said in between giggles. "We all know I'm the smartest one."

Alec just chuckled from the front seat as he started the car.


******
There was a flurry of chaos by the time they got to the University park. It was the first time it was being held there so that the kids from the Paediatric Ward at the hospital could also attend.

More booths were being set up and streamers, signs and posters being hung up on posts. The bouncy castle was about ready to be inflated. Seeing this made Max's eyes go wide with excitement.

In the middle of it all was a huge table with various materials strewn all over - cardboard, papers, balloons, tools, and boxes of whatever else was needed. It had a white cross on the outside of the tent as well as an italicised “i” to indicate it was going to be the information tent and the medic tent.

Catarina was standing by the table looking slightly dishevelled and stressed but stern nonetheless. She had a clipboard on hand - probably her checklist of things to do. Magnus was nowhere in sight.

"Hey, Cat." Alec greeted her as he walked up. Closely followed by his siblings.

"Ah!" She exclaimed as she saw them approach. "More angels! I love it." She stretched out her hands to give Alec a hug, then doing the same with his siblings. She cupped Max's face with both hands. "You must be Max." She looked at the older Lightwoods. "He's gonna be the best looking one out of all of you."

"And smartest, too." Max added with a cheeky smile at his siblings.

All older Lightwoods just smiled and shook their heads.

"Getting smugger by the hour, too." Izzy said ruffling her brother's hair. "Just coz you know you're cute."

"You and Jace always said if I got it, I should flaunt it." Max retorted. "And I got it."

The last comment made Catarina laugh out loud.

"Anyway, we brought pizza." Alec said still smiling from his brother's confidence. He held up five large pizza boxes, with Jace who was holding up another five. "We thought your work elves might need some grub."

"Oh my God, you didn't have to." Catarina exclaimed. "But I will not say no. You are an angel. Did I say you Lightwoods are angels? Well, you're angels." She said as she moved to the table to clear away some of the stuff that was on it. Jace and Alec placed the pizzas down.

"Listen up people." She talked into her walkie talkie. "We have pizza at the main table, courtesy of Alec and the Lightwoods." She paused. "Magnus, just letting you know I could kiss your boyfriend right now." Catarina winked at Alec who blushed.

"Catarina, don't you dare!" Magnus' voice came loud and clear on the radio. "He's mine. Hello, Alexander."

Alec waved even if Magnus couldn't see him.

"He waved ‘hello.’ Also, I need to thank him. So a kiss is in order." Catarina teased.

"I'll thank him on your behalf," came Magnus' abrupt response. "I'll be really thorough-"

"I'm cutting you off, before you get too graphic. We can all hear this conversation." came a voice, cutting off Magnus in the process. Alec assumed it was Ragnor.

"Shut up, Ragnor." Magnus' voice said again. "As I was saying, Alexander -"

"Dios! Keep it PG, will you? I'm still a minor." said a voice Alec was sure he didn't know.

"I haven't said anything. And you're almost an adult, Raphael. Don't play innocent with me." Magnus replied again.

“That’s because we’re stopping you.” Raphael’s voice came on the radio again.

"Okay. That's enough of that." Catarina intervened. "Pizza will get cold. So come grab some before it disappears."

She chuckled again, while shaking her head. A few other volunteers have gathered around to get some of the food.

"Where do you want us?" Alec queried pointing to himself and his siblings.

"Uh," Catarina checked her clip board. "I think -"

A dark-haired boy wearing glasses walked up to them, some canvas and paintbrushes in hand. "Hey Cat, I wanted to let you know, the animals from the petting Zoo have just arrived. So I'm gonna go drop these off to Clary then I will help the guys unload the hay bales." said the glasses boy, a bit breathless.

"Okay." Catarina answered the boy before turning to Alec. "I think Alaric wants to catch up with you at the Jade Dragon food station. And maybe your siblings can help with the petting zoo?"

"Sounds good." Alec responded. He turned to look at his siblings but Izzy was already moving towards them, Jace and Max following suit.

"Simon?" Izzy walked up where Alec, Catarina and the boy, Simon were standing. "I didn't know you volunteered for this."

"Izzy!" Simon's eyes grew wide halfway between panic and surprise, as Izzy pulled him in for a hug. "Hey, uh, um. Yes. Volunteer. Here." He said incoherently, his voice shaking.

"Words, Simon. Use you words." said a red-haired girl walking up to the group from behind. Simon blushed, a stupid smile plastered on his face but that seemed to have been enough for him to compose himself.

"Hey Izzy. Are you helping out, too?" the redhead said, smiling at Izzy and giving her a hug.

"Yeah. My brother Alec," Izzy pointed with her thumb to Alec standing behind her. Alec just gave the newcomers a curt nod. "He got us to do this."

"Your brother is Magnus' boyfriend?" Clary asked as her and Simon both stared at the eldest Lightwood. Alec wondered how they knew but seeing the radios attached to each of Simon’s and Clary’s hips were enough explanation.

"Yeah." Izzy answered. "You know Magnus?"

"Family friend." Clary responded. "He used to babysit us when we were kids. He's the one who got us into this, too."

"I kind of volunteer for this every year. But couldn't make it to the mid-week meeting." Simon explained sheepishly. "And Clary had a gallery thing with her mom that night so I said I'd fill her in."

"Hey, Simon. Clary." Jace said meekly, finally approaching the group. Alec has never known Jace to be shy. This was the first time he'd seen his younger brother look like a nervous, and lost like a puppy.

The redhead - Clary - frowned a little, only briefly looking at Jace to acknowledge the greeting before returning her attention to Simon and Izzy.

Alec bent down and looked at Max for an explanation. "She's the redhead Izzy said Jace had a fight with that time. And he's the Simon who was getting picked on by the football team that Jace defended." Max whispered to explain.

Alec nodded then straightened up. So the Clary and Jace have clearly not been on good terms since that incident. Although, Alec wasn't entirely sure that Jace's shyness had anything to do with the fight.

"Okay. So, I think," Simon scrambled to hand over the canvas and paintbrushes to Jace who looked unsure but took the stuff anyway. "Can you help Clary with these and I'll just go help out with the hay bales."

"I'll come with you." Izzy volunteered. "Max, come on." She called to her brother who without a second thought ran towards Izzy and Simon.

"Simon!" Clary shouted indignantly but Simon, Izzy and Max were already quite far. She bit her lower lip and looked at Jace, brows creased, like she was pissed. "I can take those."

Jace held the materials closer to his person. "I've got them. Now show me where you need them to be." Alec smiled as he saw his brother get his confidence back. The Jace who doesn’t back down and doesn’t get shaken.

"This way." She said then turned around, her hair flicking behind her. Jace followed suit.

Catarina watched them walk away.

"I'm not entirely sure about what I just saw." Catarina said, eyes narrowed and hands crossed over her chest. She heard Alec respond with a little "Uh-huh" but when she looked, his attention was clearly elsewhere.


Magnus was across the grass, helping to carry a big table over to one of the food tents. He was wearing tight black jeans and a black singlet, having discarded his colourful tunic probably sometime in the afternoon while Alec was away. Alec could not remember what colour the tunic was just that it was bright and colourful. Maybe pink. Magnus always wore colourful tops. (It was dark blue.)

Alec did not miss the tool belt that was around Magnus' waist. He liked how it fit snugly around Magnus' hips. He stared at the hammer dangling at the back of the belt, the handle on Magnus' behind. Alec swallowed.

He also did not miss the sweat glistening from Magnus' brow and arms. His make-up was still unsmudged which most people would say was impressive especially with the amount of manual labour he’s already done. Alec didn't care, smudged make up or not, to him, Magnus looked gorgeous. And especially hot at the moment.

"You need to close your mouth or a fly will get in." Catarina's voice snapped Alec out of his reverie. She was smirking when he finally looked at her. "Would you like a moment to wipe your drool?"

Alec blushed. "I, uh -" He shook his head and closed his eyes to compose himself. He knew he was staring. He knew she knew he was staring. He opened his eyes and was about to respond when he felt a hand go around his waist and felt soft lips against his cheek.

"Hello, Alexander." Magnus greeted him. "Sorry it took a while. We needed to finish setting up the stage." Alec put his arm around Magnus' waist but was still blushing.

Magnus looked at him. "You're blushing. Why?"

"I'm gonna go find Alaric." Alec said abruptly, ignoring Magnus’ question. He let go of Magnus then gave him a quick peck on the cheek before walking off.

Magnus watched him walk away, a confused look on his face. Then Alec turned back around, walked over to him and planted a hot, deep kiss on Magnus' lips, dipping Magnus back slightly, both arms around his waist to support him. Magnus, taken by surprise yelped a little, before responding to the kiss. He grabbed hold of the front of Alec's shirt to keep himself steady then snaked his arms around Alec’s neck deepening the kiss.

"I said PG!" came a voice - Raphael's - over the radio on Magnus' hip, and the one on Catarina's hand. He was sitting on one of the ladders, as he fixed up the tarpaulin on one of the booths. He could see the trio from his perch.

Alec broke the kiss, licking his lips as Magnus was still in the process of composing himself. "I'm really gonna go find Alaric now. I'll see you later."

"Uh-huh," was all Magnus could produce in his dazed state.

Alec walked away, blushing and hot from the kiss. He could hear Catarina giggling in the background. He was sure Catarina was going to tell Magnus about the staring. At least he wasn't going to be there when she did. And he was a little thankful his siblings were nowhere in sight when it happened.

By 9:30pm, everything was done and ready for the next day. Some people lingered to do a bit of cleaning up but most of the volunteers and workers had gone home. Catarina gave the stragglers last minute reminders before telling everyone to leave and rest for the night.

Max was about ready to sleep, as Alec carried him on his back on their way to his apartment. He thoroughly enjoyed helping Simon and Izzy with the hay bales. Mostly he got to feed the animals while his sister and Simon and the other volunteers did the manual labour.

Magnus had joined them after he finished with the main stage and ate some dinner. Max was even more excited since he "had Magnus all to himself" - was how he put it, at least for half an hour or so before Magnus got called away to help set up the pie stand.

Magnus walked beside the Lightwood brothers closely. The tool belt has been returned (much to Alec’s delight and disappointment) and he was wearing his dark blue tunic once more.

Simon, Izzy, Jace and Clary walked a bit ahead of the trio. Jace and Clary seemed to be more at ease with each other now. Although they did not talk much. At least not to each other. Which was a funny sight to see, when clearly Simon and Izzy were engrossed in whatever topic it was they were talking about.

Izzy had her hand around Simon's arm as they walked. Alec smiled seeing his sister clearly interested in a boy who was very interested in her. Jace walked in front of them, walking backwards as he said something that made the other three laugh. Clary's was discreet as she tried not to show that she found his joke funny.

"He's asleep." Magnus said, catching Alec's attention.

He tried to look around his shoulder at Max but the angle was awkward so he just looked ahead again. "I think that's a good sign. He's going to be more hyperactive tomorrow though."

Magnus smiled at the two. "I'm glad he had fun. I felt guilty for being the reason you guys didn't go bowling tonight. I know he really loves it."

Alec shook his head. "Don't be. We've not gone bowling for less noble and less fun reasons before. Besides, after last bowling night, he's going to want you there all the time." He smiled at Magnus as he remembered that his boyfriend was Max’s new hero.

"Trust me. He's happier we didn't go bowling tonight coz he knew you couldn't be there." Alec shifted Max on his back to keep him more stable. "I heard he had you all to himself for a while tonight."

Magnus chuckled. "Yeah. I took him to see the ponies to feed them while the others were fixing up the enclosure and carrying hay bales." He said cheekily. "We'll go back tomorrow to give them some apples." He said, winking at Alec.

"So that's why he asked if I had any apples at my place." Alec said. "Aren't those like candy to ponies? You're not supposed to give them too much." Magnus put a finger to his own lips to shush Alec then winked at him again. Alec did a silent laugh.

They go their separate ways just in front of Alec's building. He offered to drive Magnus home but the latter declined insisting for Alec to stay with his siblings. Besides, Clary and Simon both lived in Brooklyn so he had company in the train.

*******
Everyone had an early start the next day, call time was 7:30am for the volunteers with the fair expected to start at around 9am.

Alec left an hour and a half before his siblings needed to report to Catarina. He needed to meet up with Alaric and the boys from the restaurant to prep the food they will be serving at the fair. He sent Magnus a quick text before he started with his work.

The crowd started to line up at the makeshift entrance at around 8:45am which none of them were expecting. There were so many kids everywhere lining up to all the games booths like shooting and ring toss. There were arts and crafts stations and face painting. The bouncy castle proved to be very popular as well as the trampoline next to it. At the main stage they had a few talent contests like singing and dancing.

Close to eleven o'clock, the kids from the Paediatric wing who were well enough to go out, arrived with their parents and some of the hospital staff. Catarina made sure they were treated like VIPs especially at the petting zoo.

Magnus made sure to send word to Alec that Max was handling the petting zoo like a pro. Max made a lot of friends with the other kids. He also loved that he got one of the special shirts with the word "VOLUNTEER" printed on the back. Magnus got one made when the older Lightwoods signed up for the fair.

Alec didn't see much of his siblings or Magnus for that matter since the fair opened. They would drop by at the food booth where Alec was, but only very briefly during their break. Not that he minded.

Their booth was really busy even Luke put on an apron and started to work one of the grills. The crowd at the food booth started to dwindle close to one o'clock.

"You can take your break after those patties are done. The lunch hour’s almost finished anyway. We'll manage here." Alaric told Alec as he flipped the burger patties.

"No. That's alright. I'll manage." Alec said. He didn't feel tired at all. He was in his element. And he loved seeing all the happy faces around. Mind you, there was a lot of screaming. There were kids after all. But otherwise, he was having a very good time.

"We're not slave drivers, Alec." Luke added from where he was standing on the other side of the booth. "You deserve a break. This fair is as much for the kids as it is for the volunteers."

"The boss has spoken." Alaric said chuckling.

"Besides, I think someone wants to spend time with you." Luke said pointing towards the front of the tent.

Magnus was walking towards them, a little girl with braided hair was holding his hand. Max was on his other side. The little girl was around Max's age, give or take a few years. The trio approached Alaric who went to manage the cash register.

Alec noticed the little girl didn't come to stand close to the table where the cash register was nor towards the grills. Max waved excitedly at Alec, his face absolutely beaming. He mouthed 'I made a friend' to Alec as he pointed to the girl. Alec nodded, smiling, then gave his brother a thumbs up.

"What would you like to eat, my darlings?" Magnus asked, squatting so that he was at eye level with the little girl and Max.

"Beef sliders!" Max shouted.

"Max," was all Alec needed to say before his brother added 'please' to his request and gave Alec a toothy smile.

"I'd like the same please. And some curly fries."

Alaric repeated the order to the crew then waited for the little girl.

Magnus was about to take out his wallet, when Alec spoke. "I'll pay for those, Alaric."

Magnus frowned at him. "Alexander, it's fine. I've got it."

Alaric looked from Alec to Magnus then back at Alec.

"I know. But I have to insist." Alec said. He pointed at Max. "I'm thinking he's talked you into buying corn dogs, ice cream and cotton candy already."

Max's eyes widened, guiltily. He stepped back then grabbed Zoe's hand. "We'll be over there." He said then pulled her to the farthest table. Magnus and Alec watched the two run away. Alaric and Luke laughed.

"I'll charge it to Alec." Alaric said then went to talk to some other customers.

"How'd you know?" Magnus asked an amused smile on his face. He stood to the side of the cash register, slightly closer to where Alec was in front of the grill.

"I know my brother." Alec said as he placed sliders on the grill to heat "Besides his tongue was pink."

Magnus frowned, worried. "Was I not supposed to buy him those things?"

"No. It's okay. He’s allowed those. Just not too much. It's not your fault. He can get sneaky when it comes to food and sugar. Or toys. Especially when he can get someone to buy them for him. I should have warned you." Alec smiled at Magnus. "At least you didn't let him eat a full tub of ice cream like Jace did. And then decided to play a game of wrestling afterwards."

Magnus' face contorted to that of disgust. "Should I even ask?"

"Not around the food, no." Alec responded. He put the finishing touches to Magnus' order then handed them to him.

"Are you up for break soon?" Magnus queried, eyes hopeful.

Alec opened his mouth when Alaric and Luke both spoke up. "He's on break now."

"I'm on break now." Alec repeated. He looked back towards Alaric and Luke who were both grinning at him, and gave both a curt nod. He went to wash his hands, took his apron off, paid for the food then went to join Magnus and the two kids at the table. Alaric had given him two extra beef sliders and some fries for himself and Magnus to eat.

Alec sat down beside Magnus, who automatically leaned on his shoulder as he took a piece of the curly fries. He gave Alec the first bite then ate the rest.

"Hi I'm Zoe." The little girl looked at Alec then stretched out her hand. Alec saw burn scars running up her arm. He didn't say anything and made sure not to stare.

He shook her hand. "Hello Zoe, I'm Alec. I'm Max's brother."

She nodded. "Are you Magnus's boyfriend?" she asked, curious, as she bit into the beef slider. Alec smiled. She clearly wasn't as quite as he initially thought she was.

Zoe and Max had both finished off their beef sliders and were halfway done with the curly fries before Magnus and Alec even started on their food.

"Do you want to get our face painted after we eat?" Zoe asked Max.

Max nodded. "That's the only one I haven't done yet. Then afterwards we can go to the bouncy castle again." Max suggested as he shoved another fry in his mouth. When he ate, he ate like Jace.

"Maybe not too soon after you've eaten, Max." Alec advised handing his brother a serviette to wipe his mouth. "We don't want another wrestling incident."

"That's why we're going face painting first, duh." Max responded matter-of-factly. He even rolled his eyes like Alec.

"Of course." Alec laughed looking at Magnus who also laughed. "Why didn't I think of that?" He said shaking his head.

Max got up and took Zoe's hand. "Come on, Zoe. Let's go to the face painting." The two disappeared two booths across from where Magnus and Alec were sitting. They could see Clary and Jocelyn and some other kids waiting for their faces to be painted. Jace was also there keeping the kids behaved at the line.

"What happened to her hand?" Alec asked finally when it was just him and Magnus.

"Their apartment caught fire a couple of months ago." Magnus told him as they watched Zoe and Max chatting with Jocelyn and Clary. "Her and her dad got out but he got badly burned in the process. Her dress robe caught fire and burned through her right arm."

Alec nodded. This explained why she wouldn't go anywhere near the counter a while ago. "How's her dad?" he asked.

"He's recovering. Burn unit at the hospital." Magnus pointed toward the building across. "It's just her and her dad. So she's staying at the foster house I lived in. For now until he gets discharged."

Alec took his hat off and placed it on the table. Magnus ran his fingers through Alec's hair to help him fix it.

"Do you still go there?" Alec asked, looking at Magnus who was very focused on fixing Alec's hair.

"Sometimes. When I have time I'd drop by." Magnus explained.

"Can I go with you?" Alec asked. Magnus paused and looked at him. "Next time you go and visit. If that's okay."

"You want to see where I grew up?" He asked. Alec could sense he was a little guarded. Like he wasn't sure if he should believe what Alec was asking. "It's a foster house. It's nothing fancy."

"Magnus, I'm not looking for fancy." Alec made sure to look him in the eyes and show his sincerity as much as possible. "Of course I want to see where you grew up. It's part of you. And I want to get to know you." He took Magnus hand and intertwined their fingers. "Was it not a good place? Bad experience? Is that why you don't want me to see it?"

"What? No." Magnus' eyes grew wide and he shook his head vigorously. "It's a great place. I mean, I wouldn't go back there if it wasn't. I'd take Zoe and Raphael out of there if it was bad. It's where I met Cat. And Jem is the nicest, kindest man ever. Although he can get up to mischief sometimes. And Will introduced me -" He stopped when he caught himself smiling as he talked about his childhood. Both Alec's brows were raised, eyes bright and a smile on his face.

Magnus let out a laugh. He wasn't entirely sure how Alec did it. How Alec asked the simplest of questions and made Magnus feel better, made him answer honestly. He rested his forehead on Alec's. "Okay. Next time I visit, I'll tell you. Will's not in the country. I think he's away with Tessa. But you can meet Jem. He was going to be here today but he got called away to do some social work stuff."

"Jem?" Alec asked. He meant to ask about the others later but for now, he wanted to know about the one he was most likely going to meet.

"He's kind of like my foster father." Magnus paused then shook his head. "Foster Uncle? No. That's creepy." He cringed sitting back and trying to think of the appropriate term. "Like an older brother. Let's go with that." He still wasn't satisfied. "I don't know. He's just... Jem."

Alec chuckled. "Well, I can't wait to meet him."

A few minutes later Jace, Max, Zoe and Clary join Alec and Magnus at their table. Max had his face painted into a Lion, Zoe a tiger.

"Hey Jace." Alec greeted. "You got your face painted." He said an amused smile on his face.

"Yeah. Clary did it." Jace said with a beaming smile.

"Max suggested the design." Clary added.

"It looks nice." Magnus chimed in as he looked at Jace. "Never thought it'd be possible. But that is one good duck face. Nice job, biscuit." Magnus said winking at Clary.

"Thank you." She said flicking her hair and giving herself a pat. She and Magnus frowned when they saw the look of horror in Jace's face.

Alec took his phone out and started to record.

"OH MY GOD!" Izzy's voice reverberated through the tent as she and Simon walked in. "Jace, you have a duck on your face."

"You have duck face." Simon laughed, pointing at him.

Jace's face changed from horrified to terrifying as he looked at his younger brother. "Max! You little shit!"

Max yelped then ran away really quickly with Jace following suit. Alec kept recording while Izzy laughed hysterically. Alec turned the video off after Jace and Max were nowhere in sight.

"What was that about?" asked a confused Magnus.

"Jace is terrified of ducks." Alec answered still laughing.

"Oh my god, I didn't know." Clary said, initially panicked then she frowned. "Why ducks?"

"Long story. And it’s hilarious. For us. Not Jace." Izzy said taking the seat beside her. "I'll tell you later." She turned to Alec. "You got everything, right? I want a copy."

"I'll send it to you later." Alec said as he put his phone in his pocket.

Jace returned later with a giggling Max slung over his shoulder. They all finish their lunch together before going back to their respective duties.

*****
The fair didn't close until around four o'clock. Clean up didn't finish until around an hour later. Max was sad to say goodbye to Zoe and made Alec promise they were going to go visit. Alec gave Magnus a triumphant smile remembering their conversation.

Alec was supposed to drive his siblings back to their house but Luke insisted he'll take them telling him he needed to "put my people mover van to good use." Besides, Alec could clearly see Izzy and Jace didn't really want to be separated from Simon and Clary so he gave in.

Jace and Clary have seemed to have a newfound friendship, or at least come to a truce after the duck face painting incident. Clary had apparently helped him wash it off as he was too terrified to do it himself.

Max didn't mind either way who was taking them home. Because what he really wanted was to stay with Alec (and Magnus).

Once all the final clean up were done, Alec and Magnus said goodbye to Catarina and Ragnor and walked to Alec's apartment hand-in-hand.

"Do you have time for a hot drink?" Alec asked as they walked. Magnus nodded. "You don't have to go home to your cats?" Alec chided jokingly.

"I put the automatic feeder out. Since I wasn't sure if I was going to go home late." Magnus explained smiling at Alec. "So yes, a drink would be nice." Magnus stopped walking and pulled Alec in closer then gave him a chaste kiss on the lips.

"What was that for?" Alec asked smiling, the tips of his ears going red.

Magnus licked his lips. "A thank you. For today." He said and continued walking, putting his and Alec's intertwined hands behind his back. "Plus, we haven't really kissed all day. And that's not acceptable. I can’t not kiss my boyfriend."

He kissed the tip of Alec's nose then kept walking. "So, Cat tells me the kiss yesterday was quite possibly because of the tool belt?" He looked at Alec with one brow raised and a playful smile.

Alec blushed then tried to hide a smile by licking his lips. "The tool belt was a bonus, yes."

"So it wasn't just the tool belt?" Magnus chirped happily, his smirk teasing.

Alec shook his head, his smile reaching up to his ears as they turned the corner to get into their building. They mumble a ‘hello’ to Francis the doorman then both rushed towards the elevators. Alec pushed the 'Up' arrow and that was possibly the longest minute of his life as they waited for the elevators to come down.

The elevator on the right finally dinged and the doors opened. They let all the people out before walking in. Alec pulled Magnus by the hand and quickly pressed the floor to his apartment. If he pressed the close button several times, no one needed to know. The elevator was taking too long to close.

As the doors started to shut, Francis saw Alec lean over, his face getting closer to Magnus and pushing him against the wall.


Alec had both hands around Magnus' waist as they kissed, hotly and passionately. Magnus had his fingers in Alec's hair, his hat lay forgotten on the floor. He pulled him in closer as their tongues wrestled for dominance.

The elevator dinged and a little yelp make them both stop, only to find a shocked old lady. One of the posh residents in Alec's building. They both stared at her as she stared back in surprise. Both their lips red and swollen, and hair in disarray.

"I'll get the next one, dears." She said with an excited smile as the doors started closing. "And use protection!" She shouted although they barely heard it as they continued kissing again.

The elevator finally got to Alec's floor without interruption. It took Alec a good five minutes to realise they were actually already at his door amidst all the walking while kissing. He could remember Magnus' arms around his neck, and his lips on his though. That was the important thing.

Alec fished the keys out of his pocket as Magnus continued to kiss him, on the lips then trailing a line along his jaw, then down to his neck, then up again. Alec's hand fumbled trying to find the right key. Why did he have so many keys? (He only had three. One was small for his gym locker.)

He finally found the right one. Now the challenge was how to put it in the key hole while his boyfriend was sucking and licking his earlobe.

"Fuck!" Alec shouted then punched the door, as he rested his forehead on Magnus'. "I need to concentrate on opening the door." He said, eyes closed. Because he knew if he opened them, he was going to see Magnus' lips and he was going to kiss them again.

He opened his eyes. And got distracted. He pushed Magnus up against the wall and ground his thigh against Magnus’ crotch. Magnus’s sultry moan only encouraged him to continue with the act.

Although his hand continued to attempt to open the door. If this continued, they will end up doing it in the hallway. And he definitely did not want to do that. He reluctantly broke the kiss. “Door. Concentrate. Open.” That was all his brain could manage to formulate.

Magnus licked Alec's upper lip playfully. "Okay." He said with a sultry laugh.

Alec broke. Thankfully, he managed to unlock the door, kicking the door closed as they got in then bolting it shut. He pulled Magnus by the waist as they continued kissing, leading both of them towards the bedroom.

"Wait, wait." Magnus said breaking the kiss.

Alec protested with a whine. "What? We’re not stopping."

"Phone. Take your phone out." Magnus said fumbling with his own pocket and finally taking the device out.

Alec looked confused but did the same. Magnus put his passcode in and turned it off then threw it on the floor. "No interruptions." He said pushing against Alec and kissing him again.

Alec copied Magnus and turned his phone off before dropping it on the floor and responding to Magnus' kiss.

Magnus unzipped Alec's hoodie, and pulled it off, discarding it on the floor. He did the same with his own. He then tugged at the hem of Alec's shirt, and pulled it up, off and lay forgotten on the floor. He took in a deep breath when he saw Alec's perfectly sculpted chest and abs, following the trail of hair from his chest down to his crotch. He couldn't help but lick his lips at the sight before pulling Alec in again for another kiss.

He pushed Alec on the bed and straddled him before bending down and trailing kisses all over Alec's neck and chest. He sucked hard on several spots making little marks on Alec's porcelain skin. Alec moaned whenever Magnus suckled too hard on his skin, his hands exploring every inch of Magnus' body.

Alec pulled Magnus' shirt from the hem and took it off him completely. He gasped at the sight, studying the sight and feel of Magnus' abs, his flat stomach, his pectorals. He traced the lines of Magnus' abs slowly, digging his nails gently on the firm and taut muscles. He propped himself up on one elbow, the other hand snaking around the back of Magnus' neck and pulling him down for another searing kiss.

Magnus grinded down on Alec's crotch eliciting a moan from the other man. He could feel Alec's hard on against him. He grinded against him even more, rubbing his own growing erection against it. Alec nipped and kissed down Magnus' jaw, hands encircling him before he flipped them over, reversing their positions. He sucked hard at the crook of Magnus' neck leaving a scorching red mark before licking a stripe up to Magnus' ear lobe. Magnus let out a little "oh" and a moan as Alec nibbled on the sensitive flesh.

"I want to taste you." Alec whispered in his ear, his warm breath making Magnus tremble. They gaze into each other's eyes, both breathing heavy. Magnus nodded then pulled Alec in for another kiss.

Alec released Magnus' mouth and started moving down, placing kisses and licking all over Magnus' body as he went, one hand propping himself up, while the other unbuttoned and unzipped Magnus' pants. He licked on Magnus' right nipple, sucking on the hardening nub. Then moved across to pay equal attention to the other. His fingers trailed down Magnus' stomach, as he continued to suck on the nipple, Magnus moaning in pleasure. Alec continued with this, his hands on Magnus' waist, giving his pants a slight tug down. Magnus raised his hips to let Alec pull the garment off him.

Alec placed a kiss on Magnus' sternum, then his stomach then his navel. He looked up at Magnus, who was looking at him, both their eyes filled with desire and want. Alec pulled Magnus' underwear down finally freeing his erection. He licked the pre-cum off the tip before taking Magnus' cock fully in his mouth.

"Fuck!" Magnus gasped, feeling the warmth of Alec's mouth around him. He grabbed at the sheets above him, to his sides, not really knowing where he wanted to put his hands, until finally they land on Alec's head, fingers combing through his hair. Magnus could not stop himself from bucking his hips up, further pushing his cock into Alec's mouth. Alec pinned his hips down with his hands as he continued to suck harder, hollowing his cheeks to take more of Magnus in.

"Alec..." Magnus gasped. "Alexander. Don't... Ah!" He couldn't hold back a pleasured scream as Alec sucked him harder, one of Alec's hands fondling his balls. "Alexander, I'm gonna, mmm." He bit on his lower lip. He was not capable of finishing a sentence right now. He opened his mouth again but all that came out was a loud moan. Alec continued to suck him and it was all Magnus could take before he came inside Alec's mouth.

Alec kissed the inside of Magnus' thigh. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and moves up to look at Magnus.

Magnus tried to steady his breathing. He couldn't stop the smile on his face. "You..." He said, shaking his head. He held his breath at the sight of Alec with a satisfied smile on his face. He looked at Magnus like he was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Magnus couldn't finish his sentence and just pulled Alec in for another kiss, pushing his tongue into Alec's mouth. Alec moaned into the kiss. Magnus slowly pushed him onto his back and straddled him, aware that Alec's still only half-naked. He sat on Alec's bulge on purpose and gently rocked his hips earning another moan from Alec.

Alec sat up, placing each hand on either side of Magnus' hips. He straightened up to capture Magnus' lips, briefly. They gave each other short but lingering kisses, closing their eyes with each kiss but always looking for the other's gaze when they slightly pull apart.

"Take me." Magnus whispered into their kiss, lips moving against Alec's cheek. He pressed their foreheads together. "I want you."

Alec slightly lifted Magnus up, arms around Magnus' waist. He shuffled them up then gently lowered Magnus on the bed, his head landing on a fluffy pillow. Alec pulled back, reluctant to let go of Magnus' warm body. Magnus sat up, and gently pushed Alec's hands away. He kept eye contact with Alec as he unbuttoned Alec's pants for him, pulling the zip down slowly, fingers purposefully grazing against Alec's erection. Alec hissed at the contact, he was so hard now that even the slightest contact through the fabric of his underwear sent jolts of pleasure through him.

Magnus pulled down Alec's pants and his underwear at the same time, Alec having to stand up to allow Magnus to get the rest of it off. He knelt back down to meet Magnus face-to-face, both smiling shyly at each other now that they have both calmed down. A little.

Then Magnus started to chuckle and hid his face in his hands.

"What?" Alec asked, still smiling, and pushing Magnus' hands away to reveal his face. "Don't tell me you're turning shy now."

Magnus shook his head still chuckling. "I was just thinking. You invited me up for a hot drink." He started laughing and so did Alec.

"Well. That was definitely hot." Alec said chuckling. They made eye contact, laugh dying down to a chuckle then a smile.

Magnus cupped Alec's face with both hands. "You're so beautiful. So gorgeous." He raked his fingers down Alec's chest. His touch slow and careful.

Alec placed his hands on top of Magnus' making the other man look up at him. He brushed a stray hair away from Magnus' face then traced the side of his cheek with his index finger, tracing it down to his jaw. He brushed his thumb on Magnus' lips, red and slightly swollen from all the kissing. "So are you. You're so beautiful."

He captured Magnus' lips again. This kiss was deep and equally passionate as the ones they've exchanged before. But also slow and sensual. Alec trying to put in as much of his feelings into it. That what he felt for Magnus was not just lust. It was care and desire.

If it was love, then so be it. He will pour in as much love as he could. He wasn't sure himself. All he wanted to do was protect Magnus from whatever it was that was making him sad. All he wanted was for Magnus to feel bliss, nothing but pure bliss.

Magnus slowly bent back until he's lying down on the bed pulling Alec down with him. He opened his legs to accommodate Alec, tilting his head back as Alec moved to kiss his neck again. Alec's weight on him, feeling his hard cock against his own, made Magnus hotter. Alec was kissing him so deeply, touching him so slowly, so carefully making Magnus' skin hypersensitive. Every touch made him tingle.

"Alexander... Need you. Now." He said in between gasps. Unable to form a full sentence.

Alec pulls back slightly. He took advantage of his long frame, reaching to get the condoms and lube from the drawer without really having to move off his partner. Magnus kissed him on the chest and waist as he leaned for the items. He gave out a little yelp when Magnus bit his hip, almost to his butt cheek. Magnus flashed a naughty grin at him. There was definitely a bite mark there that will last until tomorrow.

He threw the condom on the bed, opened the lube and slicked up his fingers. He leaned down to kiss Magnus as he inserted one finger in, Magnus gasping at the intrusion.

"You okay?" He asked, concern in his voice. Magnus nodded and kissed him again.

Alec took this as his cue to keep going. He moved his finger around, loosening Magnus further before putting in another finger. Magnus gasping when Alec grazed his prostate while he's scissoring his fingers, widening Magnus further. Alec put in a third finger.

"Alec. Alexander, please." Magnus pleaded. He moved his hips down on to Alec's fingers inside him. "I'm ready."

Alec smirked and moved his fingers purposefully grazing Magnus' spot again making the other man writhe in pleasure. Magnus' moans made Alec's cock twitch. He ripped the condom wrapper with his teeth, slid it on himself, making sure it was properly lubricated.

He captured Magnus' mouth into another deep kiss as he lined himself in front of Magnus' trembling hole. He eased himself in slowly, going halfway, giving Magnus little kisses to let him get used to his size. When Magnus gave him a nod, he pushed in to the hilt then slowly pulled out, finding a slow rhythm.

"Fuck!" Alec moaned in pleasure, continuing to move his hips at a steady pace. He's propped up on his elbows, exchanging open mouthed kisses with Magnus as he thrust in and out of him, slowly and gently.

"Alexander-" Magnus said, moaning again with each gentle thrust. "I need you to move faster." He grabbed Alec's hair and touched their foreheads together. "I'm not a delicate flower. I need you to mov... ah-"

Magnus let out a gasp, digging his nails deep into Alec's back, as Alec thrust inside him hard sending jolts of pleasure all over his body. He hit Magnus' spot every time now that he found the right angle. Alec's pace increased, thrusting into Magnus harder and faster but gentle at the same time.

"Close." Magnus gasped again and a few thrusts later, he started to shudder, jolts of pleasure coursed through his body as he reached his climax for the second time.

Alec's paced continued for a few more thrusts until he reached his own orgasm, his pace becoming unsteady as he rode it to climax. He collapsed on top of Magnus, the only sound in their room was a mixture of their heavy breathing.

"I can only imagine if I had the tool belt." Magnus quipped until they both started laughing. Once they both calmed down, Alec moved off Magnus and discarded the used rubber. Magnus moved in a cat-like way and sat up wrapping his arms around Alec who was now standing by the bed, his back to Magnus.

"I think we both need that shower now." He suggested, resting his chin on Alec's shoulder.

Alec chuckled as he let Magnus lead him towards the bathroom.

 

Chapter Text

Warm skin against warm skin. His head lulled to sleep by a steady rise and fall of a firm, smooth and broad chest. Strong arms pulled him closer, tighter like they wanted them to merge into one.

Alec snuggled in closer into Magnus' chest, burying his face into the crook of Magnus' neck, resting his lips on his boyfriend's collar bone.

It's been two months after the fair and he and Magnus have pretty much been spending the night in each other's place as well as every possible free time they had together. Their friends and siblings in Alec's case have been teasing them of being in the honeymoon period of their relationship.

Well, they weren't wrong. Especially if they knew that he and Magnus have been doing what married couples were expected to do during a honeymoon. For the better part of the past two months, Alec’s form of exercise was Magnus.

Of course, it’s not that they were married. Although, Alec wasn't going to deny that it was a nice thought – being married to Magnus. Not that they were at that level yet, of course. It just crossed his mind that maybe one day, and it brought a smile to his face.

The rude ringing of his cell phone, disturbed what was otherwise a nice, peaceful, comfortable morning in his boyfriend's arms. Magnus groaned a complaint and turned away pulling the pillow over his head. Alec reluctantly shifted away from him and started to look for his phone. It was in his pants pocket, which was somewhere on Magnus' bedroom floor.

Without getting off the bed, he reached out and pulled his trousers towards him then got his phone out.

"Hello." He answered, eyes still closed, and his brows creased. Who would be calling this early in the morning? It was only six a.m.

"Alexander, where are you?" The sound of his mother's stern voice jolted him awake. He looked at the phone and saw her name, mouthed a swear word then put the phone back to his ear.

"Mother!” He exclaimed. “How may I help you?" He kept his voice calm and hoped she wouldn't notice that he ignored her question. Usually this meant him putting on a formal tone. Which isn't how he would usually speak to her. Unless he was in trouble. It sounded like he was in trouble now.

"I asked where you were, Alec." She said pointedly, the 'c' sound in his name was distinct. She was not in the mood.

"Um, I'm, I'm out. I mean, I'm not at the apartment." He said then winced while scratching the back of his head. Deeper trouble. He had to come up with a good excuse.

Alec's relationship with his parents is strained at best. He has mentioned he was dating someone on one of their family dinners but his parents didn’t bother to ask any further detail. His parents were always working, and on the odd occasion that they were in town, the topic was always focused on Alec's future in corporate law. His parents did not really make time to chat about their children's personal lives. Especially not Alec's.

Alec’s relationship status only mattered to his parents if there was a possible business deal attached to it. Before he came out, his father was very interested in Alec’s friendship with Lydia. Mainly because if it turned romantic, the corporation will have a good attachment with Branwell enterprises. They ran a reputable environment-friendly oil company among other things. Recently they have also owned several successful airlines.

After Alec came out, his parents did not approve of his - lifestyle - as Robert would put it when referring to Alec being gay. His parents were far from accepting his sexuality. They just tolerated it. It wasn't something that they would deliberately ask him about.

So it wasn't that Alec wanted to keep Magnus secret. Well, he kind of did, knowing his mother would just be her usual judgemental self. Especially if her first news of him is that Alec spent the night at his place. She probably won’t remember that Alec has talked about Magnus before.

Alec would rather she not find out about their relationship over the phone like this. He wanted her to meet the real Magnus, in person first, and not just by name. It would give her less of a chance to formulate her own wild theories about him. To meet Magnus in person and see for herself what a good and selfless and wonderful being Magnus is.

"Alec, what did I tell you about stuttering?" Maryse reprimanded.

"Sorry, mother." He apologised quickly. Here was Alec Lightwood, adult, still rattled by his mother on the phone. This was not a proud moment. "I was just, catching my breath. Out for a run." He got up from the bed, realised he was naked, so he sat down again, pulling the covers around his waist.

He felt like his mother could see him. Magnus, of course, had chosen this time to turn over and wrap his arms around Alec's waist. Something of Alec's twitched. And his heart pounded. Really? Now? It didn't help that his mind drifted off to the night before. Focus, Alec! He snapped at himself.

"Of course. You always go for a morning run." Maryse responded, calmer this time. He heard a door open and close, which meant she was inside his apartment. Thank goodness he left it clean. That would have been another matter of discussion. "I should have remembered that." She said.

Alec relaxed when it was apparent she bought his excuse. He did a victory dance in his head. His mother was a difficult woman to fool. Well, apart from those years he fooled her and his father into thinking he was straight. Although, that could have also partly been because they were in denial and refused to acknowledge it even when he all but spelled it out in big neon letters. Izzy suggested they should have done that first.

"Yes. Always. Have to keep my fitness and all. Healthy lifestyle. Like you said." He stopped himself before he babbled even more. Apart from his stammering when he gets nervous, she reprimanded him for his babbling. And she knew he babbled only when he was nervous. It was not an acceptable trait for a Lightwood to be nervous.

"Well, you continue with your run." She said. "I just came to drop off your suit for the party. You try it on immediately when you get back. So we have time to refit it if needed before the party in two weeks."

Fuck! Alec's mind swirled as he remembered which party she was talking about. Every year his parents threw a lavish party for all current and future clients. All the Lightwoods were required to be present to show a united front. To show the corporate world that while they were a public company – more or less – they were still run by a family with a strong bond and a strong reputation. The image and success of the company was everything to his parents. It was also at this party that his parents used to introduce him to the industry.

Alec pursed his lips and took a deep breath. "Of course. The party. I will try the suit on when I get back."

"Wonderful!" said Maryse with a cheery voice, cutting him off before he could even finish his sentence. It always sounded fake to him when she did that. He could have said anything and she still would have said it was wonderful. He could picture her looking at her work cell phone right now.

"I will see you soon. I have to go now. I have a meeting in the city." She hung up even before he could say anything.

As soon as the call ended, Alec sighed, rolled his eyes and dropped the phone on the floor. It landed with a thud.

He turned around to see Magnus still asleep. His head was now resting on Alec's pillow. Alec shifted until he was lying on his stomach, and snuggled close to Magnus' sleeping frame. He moved his hand and twined his fingers through Magnus's soft hair. Leaning in, he traced soft kisses from Magnus's bicep then up to his shoulder.

The sides of Magnus's mouth twitched as Alec planted more light kisses on his shoulder and neck. "Careful there, Alexander." He said, eyes still closed but lips now had a full on grin. "Any more and it's going to make it more difficult for me to get out of bed." He opened his eyes and gazed at an already smiling Alec who still had his lips resting on Magnus' shoulder.

A mischievous glint in his eyes, Alec started to lightly nibble on Magnus' shoulder and along his bicep. "That's not such a bad idea. We shouldn't get out of bed today."

Magnus let out a chuckle as he shifted on his back to get a better view of Alec who rested his hand and his chin on Magnus' chest. "You know I can't miss class." Magnus said as he played with Alec's hair, twirling and untwirling it around his index finger. Magnus was on a medical scholarship and his next class required perfect attendance to complete the paper.

"I know." Alec said. "But one of these days, we're gonna stay and have a good long lie in. Preferably all day. Maybe without clothes." He leaned forward for a kiss. Magnus meeting him halfway. They exchanged a couple of kisses before a synchronised loud meowing could be heard from outside the door.

Magnus pulled back. "Sorry. My children are hungry." He made to get up but Alec shook his head.

"I'll feed them." Alec said as he pushed himself off the bed, searching the floor for his underwear and put it on. "You start getting ready." Alec put on his shirt and leaned in for another kiss which put a big smile on Magnus' face.


As soon as Alec stepped out of the room, Magnus' smile dropped. He didn't know why he pretended to sleep while Alec was on the phone with his mother. He didn't know why he didn't tell Alec that he heard the conversation.

Alec had lied to his mother about where he was this morning, let alone who he was with. Who he spent the night, no, most of his nights with for the past month? Magnus knew they haven't been together for that long, but he had at least hoped that Alec had mentioned him to his parents.

Surely one of his siblings would have said something to them. Was Alec's relationship with his parents that bad that there's no opportunity for him to talk about his and Magnus' relationship? Or that he won't tell his parents about their relationship? What else was Alec keeping from them? What was he keeping from Magnus?

Magnus felt an ache in his chest at the thought that Alec was in some way keeping him a secret. Alec had already met almost all of Magnus' closest friends. If he had family to introduce Alec to, he would have done that already. Everyone Magnus had considered important in his life. And those whom Alec hasn't met already know of him. Magnus had hoped that maybe Alec would have at the very least dropped a hint of Magnus' existence in his life to his parents.

But then again, maybe he wasn't the type of boyfriend people introduced to parents. Now that he thought about it, none of his relationships ever got to that stage. None of them ever even considered committing to Magnus enough to do that.

Deep inside, Magnus hoped things would be different this time around. His relationship with Alec was relatively new. But Magnus wanted it to last.

He sat up and shook off the heavy feeling that was starting to build in his chest. There was no reason to doubt Alec's feelings for him. For one, Alec had already introduced him to his siblings. None of his past relationships ever did that. And Alec's siblings were wonderful. Magnus was fast becoming friends with each of them and not just because he was Alec's boyfriend.

Whatever this was with his parents, Magnus was sure Alec had a good reason. This morning was a glitch. Everything else with Alec has been great. Magnus had no reason to complain. His boyfriend was perfect. Magnus had never felt this happy with anyone before. That was all that mattered.

A small red mark on his thigh brought back pleasant memories of the night before and how exactly it was placed there. He decided to focus on this and all the other good feelings Alec made him feel. These and only these.

Magnus got out of bed with a newfound bounce in his step as he got ready for the day.


*********
Alec went back to his apartment around mid-afternoon after his classes with just enough time to get ready and get to work. Magnus still had another class and two tutorial sessions afterwards. It was one of those days where they both had a busy schedule. Although Alec, lately more often than not, has been driving straight to Magnus' loft from work instead of going back to his apartment. He sometimes finished late but he knew Magnus would still be up studying.

His work at the Jade Wolf has been going well. While it was time apart from Magnus, Alec found the job very interesting and gratifying. He particularly enjoyed helping Alaric with the cooking class. And he was glad the first solo baking class he did went smoothly.

His nerves were extra antsy for the first class, what with not only Izzy, but also Jace, Max and Magnus all signing up for the first one. He appreciated the support, of course. Especially because there were three other people who was watching Izzy so he could focus on the class. Magnus found out first-hand how hazardous Izzy was in a kitchen setting.

Alec was thankful his brothers and his boyfriend were able to manage this well. His siblings and his boyfriend were actually able to bake a fairly decent chocolate cake at the end of the class. Mainly because, Jace, Max and now, Magnus, were there to avert any potential accidents that Izzy would have caused. She and Magnus did the cake decorating. She was at least good at that.

Alec stared at the suit that was now hanging on his closet door. He really didn't like attending these fancy parties his parents liked to throw. Particularly this one. Because ever since he could remember, it was during these parties that his father took the opportunity to introduce his children, particularly Alec to his colleagues, business partners, current and potential clients as the heir and future of Lightwood&Lightwood, Inc.

Alec has been forced to put on his business smile and act like a future corporate lawyer. He always felt that it was all pretentious interaction. Moguls complimenting each other on their contracts and business deals when really all they were aiming for is how to become richer. Each second he spent with them, he felt like his soul was being ripped out.

And now that sense of dread has started to sink in again. Alec steeled himself. This was going to be what his future will be. It's what they have been preparing him to do all his life. He needed to learn how to deal with it, how to accept it. Surely there was something about it that could be enjoyable apart from passing around millions of dollars from one bank account to the other. Why else would his parents be doing it? Alec has been asking himself that for more than ten years now. He still had no answer.

His phone rang, the tone slightly muffled by his jeans pocket. He reached in and looked at the screen to see who was calling. He clicked the answer option.

"Hey Izzy." He answered.

"Alec!" His sister said. "Did mom bring you your suit?"

"I'm looking at it right now." Alec reported, tone unexcited.

"Sorry I wasn't able to give you a head's up." Izzy said. "She just suddenly sprung it on us after breakfast. I was supposed to text you but I left my phone in my room. And then we were running late for school. And I forgot."

"Izzy, it's okay. No harm done." Alec assured her. He could hear how guilty his sister sounded. "I wasn't even home so I didn't see her."

"You weren't home? That early in the morning?" She giggled mischievously. "You spent the night at Magnus' again? Alec, how many nights is that now this week?"

"Shut up!" Alec retorted. He could practically hear her teasing grin over the phone and blushed. "That's none of your business." He needed to change the topic quickly. Knowing his sister, she was going to ask him inappropriate questions or make an even more inappropriate remark about his sex life. It's not something he wanted to hear.

"Anyway," he started. "I need to ask you something."

"Yes. Rimming is a thing. And you should do it." She stated, with no hesitation or pause.

"Izzy!" Alec exclaimed, palm to his face, taken aback that his little sister knew what that was. And that she was telling him about it. He was not prepared for this. He will never get used to her knowing anything about sex. Or how she knows about it. Or that she tells him about things about it. Specifically one that could apply to him.

"I am not - That's not what I was going to ask." He pursed his lips. He shouldn't take the bait. She was doing this to get a reaction out of him. "We're not going there." He shook his head as he said this.

Alec could hear her giggling on the other side of the line. "Oh fine. I was just joking." She said with another giggle. "But consider it. Magnus will li-"

"Hanging up, now." He cut the call abruptly.

A few seconds later she called him.

"I'm sorry. I'll stop." Izzy's voice came through as soon as Alec answered the call. "Now what was your question?"

Alec bit his lower lip. "I want to bring Magnus as my date to the party." He blurted out. Alec felt slightly awkward asking his sister about dating advice.

"That's not a question." Izzy stated. "But I'm just gonna go ahead and answer it. Yes, you should bring Magnus as your date. I'm surprised you haven't asked him yet."

Alec scratched the back of his neck. "I kind of forgot about the party until Mom called me this morning." Usually Alec was on top of these things. But the past month and a half has been really eventful with him starting work at the Jade Wolf and the cooking classes, his university classes. And of course, Magnus. His days have been filled with mostly Magnus. And he was on cloud nine.

"So he doesn't know about the party?" Izzy clarified.

"I don't think so." Alec replied. "He was still asleep when Mom called." Alec took a breath in. "Anyway, so you think it's a good idea to take him to the party? And introduce him to Mom and Dad?"

"Well, if their initial reaction to your news of dating Magnus is to go by, I think it's the perfect time." Izzy said. "They'll be too distracted by the other guests to ask him any of their judgemental questions. But at least, hopefully, they will take it seriously when you said you were dating someone. And you have a reason for escape when dad tries to pimp you to his business associates."

"Good point." Alec said but was still unsure. "But what if he doesn't know anyone apart from us there and we get called away? I don't want to leave him alone in a party full of prissy strangers. You know how Mom and Dad’s guests are sometimes."

Alec was nervous just thinking about it. It's not that he would deliberately leave Magnus' side. In fact he would never even part from him if he could have his way. But knowing his parents, they will have a lot of things, a lot of people lined up for him and his siblings to meet. Especially Alec being 'heir-apparent to the throne' as his sister would put it.

"He's not going to be alone." He suddenly heard Jace's voice. He figured he was now on speaker. Alec said a quick hello to his younger brother. "We're going to be there." Alec heard a rustling. "Besides, I'm planning to ask Clary to be my date so there'll be someone he knows apart from us."

Alec heard Izzy snort. "And you're confident Clary will say 'yes'?" She said teasing her brother.

"Hey we've been getting along quite well. Plus, Simon is going with you so that's a big plus." Jace explained. Alec smiled on the other side of the line. Izzy and Simon have started dating since the fair. And it was going very well. "She invited me to her mom's gallery opening next month."

Jace and Clary didn't get off on a good start. And it took a while for them to warm up to each other. Well, really it was more Clary warming up to Jace. From how Alec got to know her, she was a fierce and independent girl who wasn't afraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself. She was no damsel in distress and she wasn't afraid to challenge Jace. Which was a huge contrast to the girls Jace was used to dating. Alec thought this was one of the reasons why his brother was absolutely smitten with her.

"She invited all of us. Right, Alec?" Izzy asked.

"Uh. Yeah, Magnus mentioned something like that." Alec replied trying to remember the details of the conversation. He may have been distracted with Magnus - all of Magnus - at the time. Really, Magnus shouldn’t tell him important things like that when he’s half naked and straddling Alec’s lap.

"Jace is pouting." Izzy reported to Alec, giggling a little. Alec shook himself out of his thoughts when he heard his sister giggle. She and Jace, being of similar age, always liked teasing each other whenever they could.

"Anyway," Alec interrupted before the teasing got out of hand. "Jace, just ask Clary. She'll say 'yes.'" Alec reassured his brother.

"Hey Alec, you better ask Magnus soon." He heard Izzy say.

"Why?" Alec asked frowning in wonder.

"Because I need him to help me find a dress." Izzy explained.

"Mom didn't get you a dress?"

"I didn't like it." Izzy responded. Alec could hear her frown through the phone. His sister was very particular about things like clothes. She and Magnus had that in common. It was one of the ways she expressed herself. And her own way of rebelling. Alec admired her for it. Izzy had her own style. And she wouldn't let even their mother mess with it. Sometimes, he wished he had his sister’s guts to stand up to their parents. "So I want to buy a new one. And I was hoping Magnus could help."

Alec was happy that Izzy and Magnus have bonded really closely. They've even met up a couple of times without Alec. Mostly to go shopping. Izzy sometimes joined Magnus when he was shopping for a client. Technically, Magnus was working during those times.

Sometimes when Magnus didn't have official shopping work, and if Alec wasn't available, Max and Jace would join him and Izzy just for a day out to the zoo or to Central Park. It wasn't a big surprise for Alec now to find his siblings at Magnus' loft on one of odd weekends Magnus didn’t have work. If Max had his way, he would be at Magnus' all the time, one because Alec was there most of the time, and two, because of the cats, and three, because of Magnus.

"I'll ask him tonight after my shift." Alec said. His heartbeat racing at the thought. They've been in a relationship for a couple of months now and still, he got nervous when he asked Magnus out on a date. He still blushed around Magnus, a lot. And he knew it was highly likely he will ever stop doing that.

Alec stayed on the phone with his siblings for a while. Max eventually joining in. He had been playing a videogame in his room but joined Izzy and Jace in Izzy's room when he heard Alec's voice on the phone. The siblings would have loved to talk for the rest of the afternoon but Alec had to leave for work.

********
His shift finished a little later than usual. It had been an unusually busy night and Luke had asked if Alec could stay an extra hour or so just to help out. It was already close to 11p.m. when he had finally gotten out of the restaurant. His shift usually finished around an hour or two earlier.

He sprawled on the couch as soon as he got home. He contemplated going straight to Magnus' from work, but he had an early class the next day. He would have had to go home, get a change of clothes and drive over to Magnus' loft. By then it would have been too late. And he was already exhausted.

Alec took his phone out of his pocket and stared at Magnus' picture on his home screen for a couple of minutes before sending him a text.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Hey. Just got home. My shift finished late. Sorry I can't come over tonight.

A reply didn't come. Alec looked at the time. It was already close to midnight. Magnus was probably asleep by now. Alec hoped he didn't fall asleep on his books again like he had a tendency to do.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
You must be asleep. I'll see you tomorrow. IMY. Goodnight!

Alec held the phone to his chest. He really did miss his boyfriend. And it hasn't even been more than a day since they last saw each other.

Instead of a message, his phone began to ring. Alec almost dropped it bringing the phone close to his ear. He looked at the caller ID and his heart began to race. Why was he so nervous? Both in a good and a not so good way.

"Hey, you're still awake." Alec greeted, a smile starting to linger on his lips.

"I didn't want to go to sleep before talking to you first." Magnus said. Alec closed his eyes. He loved hearing Magnus' voice. "So work was busy?"

Alec recounted the events of his shift to Magnus. He was exhausted from work earlier but now somehow he didn't feel tired at all. Talking to Magnus always relaxed him. They both continue to talk about their day. Until Alec glimpsed the clock on the wall. It was past one in the morning. They both had early classes the next day. But then, Alec didn't really want to hang up. And by the sounds of it, Magnus didn't want to either.

Alec bit his lip when a brief silence fell between them. He remembered the party, what he wanted to ask Magnus.

"Hey, so I have a question to ask." Alec stood up and started pacing on the couch.

"Ask away, darling." Magnus said.

"So, my parents have this formal dinner party thing every year." Alec started, bouncing on the couch as he paced to calm his nerves. He mentally scolded himself for being inarticulate around his boyfriend for no apparent reason. "And I was wondering if you'd like to be my plus one?"

Alec closed his eyes and waited for an answer. “I mean, the party is usually boring but I thought maybe with you there it could be fun.” He paused and there was still no response from the other end. “I mean, not that I just want you there for the entertainment. I mean, I just thought you know, we could both have… fun.” Alec kicked himself for being so inarticulate. He knew he was babbling and going around in circles with his reasoning. Magnus’ silence wasn’t helping.

He heard Magnus shift on the bed. But there was no answer. Alec scratched the back of his head. "Magnus?"

"Your parents are going to be there." Magnus stated, his voice sounded surprised which Alec found odd.

"Well, yes." Alec sat on the back of the couch. "It's their party."

There's silence on the line as Alec waits for Magnus to say something. The longer it took the more Alec's heart started to race. And he started to question the situation. Maybe Magnus didn't want to go to the party. Maybe Magnus didn’t want to meet his parents. It was a serious thing in a relationship to introduce your significant other to family.

Even if Alec wasn't close with his parents, they were still his parents. His family. They were important to him. Just like Magnus. He still wanted his parents to meet Magnus and vice versa. And Magnus has been getting along well with Izzy, Jace and Max. His and Magnus' relationship has been growing stronger every day.

But now, he wasn't very sure if Magnus thought the same. Maybe it was just Alec getting ahead of himself.

"You don't want to go with me? Or meet them?" Alec asked hesitantly. He didn't know how he was going to take Magnus' answer, but he needed to know.

"No."

Alec's heart dropped. All he could say was an "Oh" but it was but a whisper, and his voice cracked. He swallowed.

***********
It took a while for Magnus to actually process what Alec was asking him. Did he really want Magnus to meet his parents? But this morning, well yesterday morning, it sounded like Alec hadn't even mentioned Magnus to his parents. Did he really want to introduce him to them? In a very public event? Magnus sat up on his bed, pulling his legs closer to his chest as he held the phone to his ear.

"You don't want to meet them?" Alec asked.

"No." Magnus answered. He barely heard the sound Alec made and he suddenly realised what he'd just said and how it would have sounded to his boyfriend. "No. I mean, yes." He clarified, hitting himself in the forehead for being vague again. "Of course I want to meet them." He finally said. “I’ll be your plus one.”

He heard Alec let out a sigh of relief. "I thought you were really saying 'no.'"

Magnus chuckled. "I'm sorry. I was just surprised, is all. I've never been asked to meet parents before." He admitted. He had been in relationships longer than what he currently had with Alec but it has never reached the point of meeting parents or even the thought of meeting any family. This was something very new to him.

"Never? Why?" Alec asked surprised. They haven't gotten to the point of discussing their past relationships being both quite focused on theirs and still getting to know each other.

Magnus ran his fingers through his hair. "I don't think they ever saw me as worthy enough to be introduced to their parents. Or the relationship didn’t last long enough to get there." He wasn't saying it to gain pity from Alec. He just wanted Alec to know and because Alec asked.

"Magnus-" Alec started.

"Don't." Magnus cut him off. "Don't say anything for now." He said, closing his eyes.

"Why not?" Alec asked. Magnus could hear the concern in his voice.

"Because," Magnus swallowed. "I know how sweet you can be and you're going to say something sweet and you're not here. And I won't be able to deal with it. And I’m likely going to cry. And it's too late in the night for you to drive here to console me." He blurted out. He was blushing, and he wondered if Alec could tell from the sound of his voice. Alec had caught him off-guard several times with his kind words. Breaking down many of Magnus' walls.

“Fine. I won’t say anything.” Alec said.

"Anyway," Magnus quickly changed the subject before he got too emotional. "I'm going to have to find a suit for the party."

He heard Alec chuckle on the other side of the line. "You'll look good in any suit." Alec said. Magnus made a mental note to thank him tomorrow for not pushing Magnus further about the issue with meeting parents.

"But I look best in my birthday suit, right?' Magnus joked. Now it was Alec's turn to blush. He could tell from the silent response followed by a series of indecipherable words from his boyfriend. Magnus giggled. "Alexander, are you picturing me in my birthday suit?"

There was another series of gibberish from the other line. If Magnus didn't know his boyfriend, he'd have thought Alec was having a stroke.

"I am, No. Maybe." Alec finally found his words.

Magnus laughed. He fell back on the bed and stretched his legs. "I could take my clothes off right now and send you a picture."

"Magnuuuuus." Alec groaned, stretching out the 'u' in his boyfriend's name. "You're making this really hard for me - oh fuck!" Alec cursed. "Difficult. I mean you're making it difficult for me right now. Shut up! Don't you say anything."

Magnus laughed as his boyfriend very cutely tried to redeem himself. Magnus hasn't even tried to say anything. But he did have a look of triumph in his face as he pictured Alec looking flustered. He liked teasing Alec and making him blush and stutter.

He heard Alec take a deep breath to calm down. "Anyway," he said. It was his turn to change the subject. "About the party. Izzy was going to ask you if you can help her find a dress." Alec said. "So you two can go shopping together."

"That sounds like a plan." Magnus said, turning over on his stomach. "You're not going with us?" He asked.

"I'm not a big fan of shopping. I'm just going to be grumpy and bored the whole time." Alec admitted. "It's not pretty. It might make you want to break up with me."

"Now that's just ridiculous. I'm not going to break up with you just because you don't like shopping." Magnus said. "Besides, you've never gone shopping with me. I'm a lot a fun." He said the last line with a sing-song voice.

Alec chortled. "I'm sure you are." Alec said. "But I have a feeling Izzy will want all of your attention for this shopping trip. Maybe next time?"

"Fine. Next time." Magnus answered faking exasperation. "What about your suit?" He asked. He knew Alec already had one based on what he heard from the phone call this morning. But he didn't want to let Alec know he was actually awake that time. He felt guilty, of course. That kept that from his boyfriend. It was a moment of doubt that made him keep it from Alec. But it was all in his head anyway.

"I, uh, already have one." Alec said. "Mom knows I don't like shopping so he she does it for me."

"Aaaw, that's very cute. Your mom picking out a suit for you." Magnus teased.

"Shut up." Alec retorted. Magnus could tell he was blushing again.

Magnus chuckled. "Oh alright. But I still need to see your suit though." He said matter-of-factly.

"Why?"

"So that I can coordinate mine." Magnus explained. He should have known his boyfriend would not have a clue about coordinating clothes when one is one's date to a formal event. He chuckled when he didn't get a reply. "That's alright. I just need to see the suit. Or I can ask your sister."

"I think that would be best." Alec said chuckling. Then there was silence. “Hey, when you meet my parents, can I apologise now?”

Magnus’ brow creased in wonder. “Why do you need to apologise?”

“My parents can be kind of dicks sometimes.” Alec explained. Magnus can hear the distaste in his voice. He opened his mouth to say something but Alec continued. “I mean, I want them to meet you and know how wonderful you are, but if they say or do anything. It’s not you. It’s them.”

“That sounds very re-assuring.” Magnus said with a hint of sarcasm. “You sound like you’re trying to put me off going.”

“What? No!” Alec exclaimed. “Of course I want you there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He paused. “I’m just, giving you pre-warning. About my parents.” Alec’s voice dropped.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Magnus assured him. “As long as you’re there with me, it’ll be fine.”

“I will be.” Alec responded.

They talked for a couple more minutes, with Alec telling Magnus further about his busy night and Magnus telling Alec about Church’s and Chairman’s latest shenanigans. Alec’s laughter over the phone made Magnus miss him more. And wish that he had Alec there with him, wishing he could feel Alec’s chest reverberate against his in laughter.

Magnus looked at his bedside clock. "It's getting very late. I think we should go to sleep." He said. He really didn't want to hang up, but he knew he had to. They have been spending almost every night together the past week and being apart was difficult for both of them. Honeymoon period.

"Yeah. Of course." Alec agreed equally sounding as unenthusiastic as Magnus. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yes." Magnus answered almost immediately. "Goodnight, Alexander."

"Goodnight, Magnus." Alec said.

Magnus hung up immediately after that. Because if he didn't, it would have been a case of prolonging the conversation as much as possible until they end up not sleeping. Magnus stared at his phone. His wallpaper was a selfie he took of him and Alec during one of their dates at the park.

The sides of his lip twitched and crept to a smile. He truly had the best boyfriend ever. Magnus knew he was falling. And he was falling hard.

***********
Alec had a goofy smile on his face. He was sat, balancing himself on the back of the couch. Talking to Magnus always felt good. He was a little concerned about Magnus' comment regarding his past relationships and meeting his parents. He was glad that Magnus offered the information even if he didn't want to discuss it any further. Magnus had warned him about having "baggage" and that there were things he wasn't ready to talk about. Alec had said he'd wait, and he will. It just took Magnus a while to open up. But at least he was already starting to.

His phone beeped. Magnus' name flashed on the screen.

Alec shook his head. He was determined to tell Magnus off for ending the call because they needed to go to sleep. And here he was, still texting.

Alec unlocked his phone. It was a picture message. He always liked those from Magnus. He was used to those now. And still found them sweet. Except tonight was different.

On Alec's screen was a picture of Magnus on his bed. Positioned strategically and covered in certain areas. Just enough to leave something for Alec's imagination. "Goodnight, Alexander" and a kissy emoji accompanied the message. Alec fell off the couch.

*************
It was a week before the party, Robert and Maryse were in town for the next few days until the event. Although that didn't necessarily mean they were going to be spending time with their children. However, they still called for a family dinner.

So on Sunday night, Alec had to drive to his parent's house. He thought about inviting Magnus to the dinner instead of waiting for the party to introduce his boyfriend to his parents. But Magnus was busy studying for a practical exam for Tuesday. So Alec didn't push it. Maybe Izzy was right, and it was better for their parents to meet Magnus at the party instead.

Talk at the dinner table was business as usual with all the siblings reporting to their father about their achievements before Robert droned on about introducing Alec to his future colleagues and business partners.

"This party is going to be big." Robert said proudly. Better than last year. "Imogen Herondale from The Clave has RSVP'd. We're going to get that account soon. I can feel it." He said proudly, looking at Maryse and then at Alec. His parents have been trying to acquire the accounts for The Clave, a multi-billion dollar corporation that ran several companies in oil, sports, fashion, and movie industries.

"Anyway. Enough business talk, dear." Maryse interrupted. "Are you all ready for the party?" The Lightwood siblings all murmured a response. "If any of you are bringing dates," She looked at Jace and Izzy. "You know to let my assistant know so they can be added to the guest list."

Since the party has become an annual event, and since they were old enough to date, Izzy and Jace have both had plus ones to the party. Alec brought Aline one year and Lydia another when he was still in high school and wasn’t out to his parents yet. Both girls knew about his sexuality at the time. The dates were purely platonic. Not that that meant anything to his parents.

"I'm thinking there should be two added to the list?" Maryse asked giving Izzy and Jace another knowing look.

Alec cleared his throat. "Three actually." He said, interrupting. "I'm bringing a date." He added looking first to his mother then his father and waited for their answer. Alec's heart was pounding. Izzy, Max and Jace continued eating, trying to be as calm as possible. They never knew how their parents would react about Alec that is not related to his becoming a lawyer and eventually taking the helm of the business.

“Well, it would be good to see Aline again.” Robert said. Before Alec could correct him his father's cell phone rang and as usual, he got up to answer it.

“It’s not Aline.” Alec turned to look at his mother.

“Well if it’s Lydia I believe she is already on the list.” Maryse said as she took a sip of her wine.

Alec opened his mouth to talk but was cut off by Maryse’s ringing cell phone. She held a finger up to silence him as she answered the phone. Then promptly to leave the table just like her husband.

“It’s actually my boyfriend, Mom and Dad. I wanted to introduce him to you. He’s wonderful. His name is Magnus” Alec said to thin air, annoyed. Maryse was already out of the room and into her home office. Alec looked at his siblings who all shrugged their shoulders.

“I’d say this dinner is going well as usual.” Izzy said smirking, reaching out with her fork to get a piece of steak Alec had just cut from his plate.

“I’d say Alec won that one.” Jace said sarcastically, winking at his older brother.

The siblings finished their dinner in a more relaxed atmosphere. Their parents didn’t return to finish theirs. Nor did Alec talk to them before he had to leave for his apartment.

********
Alec sat on Izzy's bed flicking through a magazine as his sister did her make-up. They were all in Izzy's room at the Presidential Suite in the Country Club. The party was an hour away and all the Lightwood children were required to be prepared on time.

Maryse had made a strict schedule, as always. Of course, none of the boys were making any attempts to finish getting ready. They reasoned the suits were going to get wrinkled so they were going to wait for the last possible minute to put them on. Jace and Max were still sat on the other end of the bed playing a game on Max's PS2. Both had their pant suits on and just their undershirts. Alec at least had most of his suit on except for his vest, tie and blazer.

Alec put the magazine down and checked his phone.

"Still no word from Magnus?" Izzy asked looking at her brother via the mirror.

Alec shook his head. "He took a last minute tutoring session." He said biting his lip. He took a last glance at his phone before putting it back in his pocket. "He doesn't check his phone when he's teaching someone."

"You're nervous." Izzy pointed out.

"Of course I am." Alec said getting up and pacing. "He's going to meet Mom and Dad tonight."

"He'll be fine." Izzy stated.

"It's not him, I'm worried about." Alec said sighing. "It's Mom and Dad. You know how they can be."

"You mean how they basically didn't even process that you were bringing a date tonight?" Max pointed out, looking up to his older brother and away from the videogame.

"Why, thank you, Max?" Alec said rolling his eyes at his youngest sibling.

"Always happy to help." Max said shrugging his shoulders then going back to watching the game over Jace's shoulder.

"Are you worried that they won't approve of Magnus?" Jace asked without even looking away from the videogame.

"You know they're never going to approve of anyone you date except if dad can get a business deal out of it, right?" Izzy said, looking at her brother with sympathy.

Alec walked over to Izzy's dressing table and tried to fix his hair then gave up. "Yes, I know that." Alec said sighing. "I just don't want them judging Magnus like I know they will. They don't even know him. And they probably won't take the time to know him but judge him, anyway." He sat down beside her. "Why did you convince me this was a good idea? What if they say something to Magnus or about Magnus?"

"You know they had to meet at some point." Izzy stated. Alec knew this. And she was right. He wasn't going to keep Magnus a secret from his parents. Nor was he going to end his relationship with him whether they approve or not. He wanted to protect Magnus at all costs. Even from his parents. Especially from his parents. On the other side of it, he was saddened by the fact that he had to feel this way about the whole thing.

"In other news, you guys should probably finish getting ready." Izzy told her brothers. She was met with a double eye roll from Jace and Max. Izzy turned to look at Alec. "You are going to look spiffy in your suit." She said smiling as she went over to her suitcase.

Alec looked at her confused. Izzy looked back at him. "Time to suit up dear brother." Izzy said clapping.

Alec still confused, did as he was told. He tucked his shirt in and reached for his black tie.

"Not so fast. I know mom has picked out a suit for you. And it probably matches dad's boring one." Izzy said with a grin. She walked over to him and handed him a small box. "But, I think you'll like this better. Present from a certain Mr Bane." She said grinning. "He said it's not much since he wasn't given enough notice. He’d have preferred to have chosen your entire get up for you. But he hopes you like this anyway."

Alec knew Magnus and Izzy went shopping the week before, first to buy her dress and Magnus' suit. Magnus also mentioned something about coordinating their suits. Alec didn't really think much of it. Clothes were clothes. Besides, Maryse had already had a suit picked out for him. Alec wasn't sure why, but at the moment, he was excited about Magnus' present.

Alec's brow shot up, his eyes lighting up. "What is this?" He asked taking the box from his sister. Inside it was a golden tie, a waistcoat chain and cufflinks to match. She looked at his sister, her eyes beaming.

"Wait till you see what Magnus is wearing. You two are going to look so cute." She said with a high-pitched giggle.

"Wait till Mom sees it." Jace added in. Max sniggered beside him. "She's going to love you not being a copy of dad tonight." He added sarcastically.

Alec put on the rest of his clothes quietly and trying hard to hide a smile. Once done, he stood in front of the full length mirror, Izzy leaning on his shoulder. Alec had done this several times and never really thought much about it. He always just put on the suit because he was required to do so. There were no feelings involved. This time was different. Alec smiled then straightened up his tie proudly. He was never one to care for clothes or accessories before. Apparently, they only needed to come from a special person.

*************
Half an hour later, Maryse waltzed into the room and started spouting instructions. The boys finished getting ready in the nick of time.

"Now, Alec, when Imogen Herondale arrives you must make sure you are at your father's side." Maryse explained as she straightened up Max's tie. "She very much likes strong family bonds. I hear she is close even with her nephew who doesn’t even work for the corporation. We need to seal this deal."

The Lightwood children all exchanged looks, Izzy rolling her eyes.

"Yes, Mom." Alec said dutifully.

Maryse walked over to him and gave his hair a pat to tame it. Then she stepped back to inspect what he was wearing. "What are you wearing?"

"A suit." Alec responded without flinching. Izzy, Jace and Max all stifled their laughs. The Lightwood children, from time to time rebelled in little ways. And sometimes, like tonight with Alec’s suit, it was a little victory.

Before Maryse could say something, Robert walked in wearing a suit very similar to Alec's except for the tie and the chain. "Time to go." He informed everyone. Alec nodded at his mother then followed his father out the door. His siblings following suit.

************
Many of the guests had already arrived by the time the Lightwoods made their grand entrance. Alec stood to his father's right as they went on their rounds, greeting businessmen and their wives or girlfriends, diplomats, some politicians, and celebrities. Many of them Alec already knew from previous parties. He had to put on his smile and pretend to laugh at jokes. He had to pretend to be interested when they talked about contracts and business deals.

And the whole time, Alec looked around the ballroom to see if Magnus had arrived. It's been half an hour since the party started and there was still no sign of his boyfriend. He thought about checking his phone, but Maryse was currently holding on to his arm, and his father was on the other side. He stole a glance at Izzy who shook her head. He was slightly jealous that his siblings were freer and were not subject to the pimping, as his sister called it.

Another ten minutes and he finally got away. He walked over to where Izzy and Jace were. Clary and Simon had already arrived. Max was probably off somewhere getting more food from the buffet table. The youngest Lightwood had a lot less expected of him in parties like this. Alec had made sure of that his brother had an actual childhood instead of being trained to be the next business mogul.

"Looking good, Alec." Simon and Clary said in unison said as he joined the group.

"Hey yeah, thanks." He said whilst he looked around. "You both look... good, too." He said but his attention was clearly somewhere else. Because at the top of the stairwell was Magnus. And he looked stunning.

Magnus was wearing a white shirt with gold embroidery on the collar, black pants and a black Mandarin collared blazer with the same golden pattern embroidered on the shoulders. There was a swirly pattern to his suit that seemed to shimmer depending on the angle of the light in the room. The gold matched Alec's tie and chain. There were streaks of blonde in his hair and his make-up was on point. It could have been the ambience, or the lighting. Magnus looked like he was glowing.

It is rare for one to know exactly when one falls in love. Some know at first sight. Others take a lot longer. Some don't ever even realise it. But it is said that when one realises it, when one is in love, one sees the object of one's affection in slow motion. And that was exactly what was happening to Alec as he watched Magnus walk down the stairs. His heart stopped and he couldn't breathe.

**********
When Alec said his parents threw a party annually, Magnus didn't expect it to be held at the most posh Country Club in the State of New York. He was told it was a formal event. And he expected a formal event. But he should have known better when Alec told him it was in Staten Island. He didn't expect it to be quite this extravagant.

It felt like a red carpet event in Hollywood only it was attended by the most influential people in the business world instead of movie and TV stars. Although there were some of those, too. Magnus made a note to have a talk with his boyfriend and Izzy about describing parties better. This wasn't just a regular hosting-a-barbecue-in-the-backyard kind of party. This was as Magnus discovered, an extremely fancy Gala.

Magnus swallowed as he watched the crowd of very well dressed, very filthy rich guests from the balcony of the hotel. This reminded him of those fancy balls thrown by kings or the Hiltons. Even the Kardashians, famous as they are for reasons that escape Magnus, wouldn’t get an invite to this kind of party. Magnus was dressed the part but he definitely felt like he didn't belong there.

He instantly regretted declining Alec's offer. Alec had wanted to pick him up but Magnus declined, knowing that Alec's parents had booked them a suite at venue. Izzy had mentioned they always stayed there overnight after the party. It was Robert's idea. The Lightwoods threw this party to show that they were running a good strong family-oriented corporation. They had to show a strong front.

Magnus had butterflies in his stomach. How he wished he gave in when Alec had asked. Why did he have to decide to be the good and understanding boyfriend? And now he regretted it. Because he really felt out of place.

Magnus looked around to the sea of people looking for any familiar face. There were none. He hasn't heard from neither Clary nor Simon since lunch time. He just knew that the two were arriving together since they couldn't go with their respective dates. Like Magnus. In hindsight, maybe he should have accepted their offer to take the same ride to the Country Club. Why did he have to say 'yes' to a last minute tutoring session?

Magnus took in a deep breath and slowly let it out. "You can do this, Magnus." He murmured to himself. "Have confidence. Constant vigilance." He squared his shoulders and tried to smile. A familiar mop of jet black hair, whose owner had obviously tried very hard to fix but ultimately failed, made it a lot easier for Magnus to smile. Whatever worry he had, all faded away.

***********
As he walked down the stairs, his eyes fixed on Alec who looked stunning in his black three piece suit and a golden tie and chain.

Alec met him at the bottom of the stairs. Both of them with silly grins on their faces and gaze locked on each other. They both stopped just inches away from each other.

"Hi!" Alec grinned at him, shyly.

"Hi." Magnus mirrored.

They both stood close to each other but not quite. Both containing their excitement to see each other again like they haven't seen each other for days. When in reality, they saw each other not longer than 24 hours ago. Both wanting to touch each other but somehow both held back, bashful. Not like how they would be around strangers. But just around each other, at this moment. Both savouring the giddy effect each had on the other.

"Sorry I'm late." Magnus continued. "Traffic and all. It's a long way from Brooklyn."

Alec shook his head. "It's okay. You're here." He grinned from ear to ear. "That's all that matters."

"You wore my presents." Magnus grinned back, reaching up to fix Alec's tie then rested his palms on Alec's chest.

Alec looked down at Magnus' hands. "Yes, well. I didn't want to," he frowned. "But I feared for my life so-"

Magnus' mouth dropped then he pouted, moving his hands away but Alec caught them and pulled Magnus closer. "I'm joking." He said, chuckling, as he circled his arms around Magnus' waist. "I love them. They're beautiful."

"Really?' Magnus asked still pouting. "You don't know anything about fashion, let alone accessories." He raised a brow and crossing his arms over his chest. He knew Alec was teasing him, but he couldn't help acting petty. Magnus liked it when Alec consoled him.

Alec pulled him closer and touched their foreheads together. "That is true. I don't know much about accessories." Alec said. "But these are from you. And I know you know your accessories." Alec nudged Magnus' forehead slightly with his to catch his attention, making sure they have eye contact. "I love them because they are from you."

Magnus looked at him, a hint of a smile creeping in. He tried hard to suppress it. But Alec was flashing him that lovely smile, and he was being sweet. He had to look away to keep from blushing. "I do have good taste." He said coyly then finally smiled.

Deep inside, Magnus' heart skipped a beat. It skipped several beats when Alec mentioned the word 'love.' It wasn't directed at him, it was directed at something he did for Alec. Or maybe the love was directed at the tie and the chain. One can love inanimate objects. For example, Magnus loved the suit he was wearing right now.

They haven't said it to each other. Magnus wasn't even sure if his feelings for Alec were that of love. He just knew that he can't imagine life without this wonderful man. That Magnus did not want to be without him. Magnus was falling. And he was falling hard.

Magnus blushed when he realised Alec was staring at him intently, like they were the only ones in the room. "What?" He asked, looking away slightly, knowing his cheeks were slowly changing to shades of crimson.

"You look beautiful." Alec said without blinking, eyes fixed on Magnus.

Magnus turned red and he bit his lip. He has been called that before, but not the way Alec said it. Not the way he looked at Magnus right now. Like he was something precious. "You've seen me dressed up before." He said shyly. "It's nothing new." He sneaked a glance at Alec. "And you look very handsome, too." He whispered so that only Alec could hear. It made Alec smile.

"So, good party so far?" Magnus asked changing the subject. He looked around the room then back at Alec.

"Pretty boring to be honest." Alec admitted. "Until you came along."

"Alexander that is a very cheesy pick up line." Magnus said. "But it's working so keep going." They both chuckled.

A loud throat clear from behind Alec catch both their attention. "Sorry to interrupt the moment." Izzy said quickly, leaning towards the two and speaking in a low tone. "But Alec, Mom and Dad alert on your twelve." She said then stood up straight stepping closer to Simon.

True enough, Maryse and Robert were walking towards the group. Alec put his arm around Magnus' waist and pulled him slightly closer. "If they say anything rude, just ignore it, okay?" He whispered to Magnus then stepped back and put a big smile on as his parents approached the group. Magnus looked at Alec a little puzzle but copied his boyfriend's smile when the latter's parents got to their group.

"Mom. Dad." Alec greeted them first. "This is Magnus. Magnus these are my parents, Robert and Maryse."

Magnus smiled at both of them and offered his hand. "Hello, nice to meet you both." Robert had a business smile on and shook his hand but his eyes did not appear sincere. Magnus could have been a very well-dressed, golden cow and he would not have noticed. His gaze at him was fleeting as his attention was caught by another guest and they started to chat.

Maryse was a little bit more cold. She looked him up and down first before offering a handshake. Her lips were pursed to what looked like a smile but it didn't reach her eyes. Magnus found himself leaning against Alec a little. He kept his smile on and swallowed, trying hard to keep his nerves controlled. Maryse was especially intimidating. "This is a beautiful party, Mrs Lightwood." Magnus said trying to appease his boyfriend's mother. He was always told to compliment the host.

"And you look absolutely beautiful." Magnus wasn't lying. Maryse Lightwood looked elegant in her black dress – a classic look. It had a mermaid cut with long fitted sleeves adorned with classic white pearl necklace around her neck, small pearl earrings, and a bracelet with white pearls. The dress fit her perfectly. Her hair was up in a tight bun, with no strand out of place. She still gave off an aura of strictly business though.

"Hm." She responded with an unamused look like she was not convinced of his attempt at flattery. Then she looked at Magnus and then at her son, obviously realising that their clothes were coordinated. She raised a brow at Magnus, lips pursed tightly. "Alec, I trust you know your duties tonight." She said sternly.

"Yes, mother." Alec responded, exchanging a glance with Magnus as if to apologise for his mother's behaviour.

"Darling," Robert's voice interrupts them as he escorted an older lady towards them. "Look who has arrived. This is my wife, Maryse. And my eldest son, Alexander." Robert had his best smile on as he gestured to his wife and son. There was a lot of hand-shaking with Alec having been pushed by his mother.

Magnus couldn't really see who the guest was before Maryse had (intentionally) relegated him, Clary and Simon to the back and gesturing for her children to step forward.
He gave Clary a small peck on the cheek, and a wink at Simon in greeting. All three of them exchanging looks at the business-like transaction that was happening beside them. Magnus felt somewhat relieved that at least there were two other people at the party who felt the same way as he did. This situation was foreign to them. Even Jocelyn's formal gallery openings and exhibits were not this - tense 0 for lack of a better word.

From where he was standing, he could see the difference in the Lightwood children's demeanour around their parents. They were less carefree. It was stiff and strict. Like they were in a board room rather than at a party with their parents. Even Izzy, whom he thought was the most outspoken and carefree of the older Lightwoods. It made it clearer to him why Alec never spoke about his parents much. Or why he always seemed tense after returning from dinner with them.

It didn't take long before Magnus felt a hand on his waist. Alec had managed to slip away while his parents were distracted by their guest. Magnus wondered if he had help from his younger siblings.

"Sorry about that." Alec whispered in his ear. Magnus shook his head and smiled to indicate he understood. Alec was on business duty tonight. Izzy and Jace joined them a few seconds later. Both visibly relaxing from what was an otherwise tense situation.

"I don't think your mom likes me very much." He said to Alec in a low tone just enough for their group to hear.

Alec shook his head. "Don't worry about it. She never likes anyone." He said pulling Magnus closer in re-assurance. "Besides, I like you so that's all that matters." He said with a grin. Magnus blushed but grinned back.

"Wow. Mom and Dad are so far up this lady's ass they haven't even noticed Alec is not there." Izzy commented, arms crossed in front of her chest and looking at where their parents were standing. Their father's back was to them.

"She must be something." Jace added.

They heard Maryse, give out a laugh at something Robert had said. She was now standing beside Imogen with a wide smile, very much in contrast to the sour-face she had just shown Magnus. "We have another younger son, Max. He is around here somewhere." She said chuckling and gesturing out to the crowd. "Eleven-year old. He's just here for the food. You know children."

"Magnus Bane." He heard his name called out loudly. Then a familiar face appeared from behind Robert Lightwood, stepping forward to where Magnus and Alec were standing.

Magnus' eyes grew wide in surprise, smiling as he stepped forward, arms wide open in greeting. "Imogen," He gave her a kiss on each cheek. "I didn't know this was the party you were going to." He said, aware of the shocked expression on Maryse's and Robert's faces, Imogen having brushed them to the side when she greeted Magnus. "You look absolutely beautiful in that dress." Magnus said, eyeing her up and down in admiration.

"Well, I have a wonderful stylist." Imogen quipped, winking at Magnus. She looked over to Magnus' side to see Alec who was now standing close to his boyfriend. She smiled at him then looked at Magnus. "Is this him then?" She asked.

Magnus stepped slightly to the side and pulled Alec to him, grinning and blushing at the same time. "This is him." A big smile plastered on his face..

Alec greeted her again as before but Imogen pulled him into a hug. It was a lot less formal than how they greeted each other not moments before. He was visibly more relaxed this time. Once he let her go she cupped his cheek with one hand and looked him straight in the eyes. "You take care of our Magnus, do you hear?"

Alec nodded. "Yes, Ma'am. But sometimes he can be a handful." He joked flashing Magnus a look and a grin. Magnus was glad he was back to the usual Alec that he knew. Although he still narrowed his eyes at his boyfriend for the remark.

"Oh don't I know it." She gave Alec's cheek two light pats and let him go. "He used to drive William crazy."

Alec returned to Magnus' side, his arm sliding to its usual place around Magnus' waist, Magnus doing the same with his arm around Alec's.

Having seen the exchange, Maryse and Robert approached the trio.

"Robert." Imogen said. "Your son has found himself a good man." She smiled at Magnus who waved her off.

"I think I found a good man, too." Magnus said smiling at Alec and squeezing him closer. Alec touched his forehead to Magnus' in response. Imogen chuckled.

"Imogen," Maryse started. "We didn't know that you knew-" She paused, clearly unable to recall Magnus' name.

"Magnus." Magnus chimed in with a smile to save her from the embarrassment. "It's okay. We just met tonight." He added not wanting to get Alec's mother into trouble. From what he gathered so far, Robert and Maryse were trying to make a good impression in from of Imogen. "And my name isn't that common." He said, smiling at Maryse and then at Imogen, his hand giving Alec's waist a little squeeze to anchor himself. Alec gave a re-assuring squeeze back.

"Well, I recommend you get to know him better." Imogen said proudly. "Did you know that Magnus is putting himself through Medical school? Maintaining a scholarship and working very hard." She said admiringly. Magnus opened his mouth and closed it, blushing. "It's more than what I can say for most young people, nowadays." She added then looked at Maryse and Robert who both jumped at the chance to agree.

Magnus and Alec stayed there for the conversation. Robert being all praise and suddenly wanting to have an interest in Magnus' and Alec's affairs. He brought up Alec becoming a future lawyer once or twice and that he was a working-student himself. Alec and Magnus exchanged looks during this time.

"Well then, I do believe you wanted to discuss business, Robert." Imogen finally said. "Let these two enjoy the wonderful party you put together."

Robert nodded. "Of course. This way." He held up his hand to gesture towards the meeting rooms outside the ballroom.

Imogen turned to look at Magnus and Alec. "The grown-ups will go and have a talk now." She winked at Magnus who chuckled. "But you," She looked at the couple. "You two need to come over for dinner at my house sometime. Magnus?" She asked, he nodded. "I still need to know if your Mr Perfect is as perfect as you say he is."

Magnus blushed. Alec cleared his throat. "Mr Perfect?" He asked, amused and curious, brow raised and looking at Magnus with a smile.

"I didn't say that." Magnus denied. "She's making it up."

Imogen chuckled and neither confirmed nor denied it. They said their goodbyes before Robert, Maryse and Imogen left, disappearing into the crowd.

Alec stepped in front of Magnus, resting each hand on Magnus' waist and pulling him closer. Magnus put his arms on Alec's shoulder. "So, tell me about this 'Mr Perfect'?" Alec asked again.

Magnus narrowed his eyes at him but unable to hide his blush. "Shut up." He said before Alec went into a chuckle.

They join the rest of their group later. Aline and Lydia joining them later into the night. Max was particularly happy to see Magnus.

*******
Alec pulled Magnus towards the gazebo just outside the ballroom. They had been having a good time with their friends and his siblings but he also wanted Magnus to himself. They stood in the middle of the gazebo, Alec's arms around Magnus' waist and Magnus' around his neck. The music from the party was just loud enough for them to hear, both of them swaying to it slowly.

"Are you having a good time?" Alec asked, as they gazed into each other's eyes.

"I am, yes." Magnus answered with a smile. "It was really nerve-wracking meeting your parents though." He admitted. "No offense but, your parents scare me. Especially your mom."

Alec chuckled. "Try growing up with them." He added. “I’m sorry about their rudeness.”

Magnus shook his head. “It’s okay. They warmed up to me in the end.”

“Only because they found out Imogen liked you. I think Mom was about to burst an artery when Imogen said you were in medical school.” Alec pointed out. “So she’s the famous client you’ve been talking about but never named?” He asked curious.

Magnus nodded. “She was my first client with this whole shopping thing.” He looked at Alec who waited for him to continue. “Jem is good friends with her nephew, Will Herondale. He’s the one who told me about her. I also tutored her son.”

Alec shook his head. “You know the most interesting people.” He said in awe.

Magnus chuckled. “It gets better.” Alec waited. “You know how I have discounts at Spiral Labyrinth?”

“Let’s pretend I know what that is.” Alec admitted. “I vaguely remember you and Izzy talking about it.”

“It’s the clothing brand. High end. Like Chanel and Louis Vuitton if not better.” Magnus shrugged. The blank look on Alec’s face made him continue. “Anyway, Will is in a relationship with the CEO and founder Tessa Gray. Who is, I believe affiliated with The Clave. The company Imogen owns.”

“Wait til my dad hears about that.” Alec laughed. “He’s going to love you.”

Magnus shook his head. “I don’t know. Imogen and Tessa, and especially Will, they’ve always just been friends to me. I knew they were rich, but when they visited the foster home before, they were just regular people.” He paused. “Will, especially. Jem always put him in his place when his rich boy-ness was showing.”

Alec listened intently as Magnus told him about more people in his life. He hasn’t gotten a chance to meet Jem yet, but he sounded wonderful. And now there were more people added to the list.

Magnus had started to play with Alec's tie. “Thank you though. For introducing me to your parents tonight.” He looked at Alec. “It was definitely an experience.”

"They didn't used to be like that." Alec suddenly said. He knew his parents weren’t particularly pleasant when they first met Magnus. But he wanted Magnus to know they weren’t all bad. At least not like how they were now. "Mom used to let me help her with her baking. And dad used to take me to archery practice. This was all before the firm became successful. Izzy and Jace were too young to remember. And Max obviously wasn't there yet. Now they're just... That. All about the money and the contracts."

Alec felt a pang of pain in his heart. He wished he could have introduced that version of his parents instead.

"I don't want to be like that." Alec confessed. Magnus rested his forehead on Alec's.

"You won't be." Magnus assured him. "I won't let you." He said smiling. “I will make sure you are going to remain my fun, loving, caring boyfriend, who wants to put a smile on everyone’s face with his cooking. Among other things. And not become a heartless, corporate drone.” He winked at Alec.

Alec smiled back, his heart skipping a beat. In all the years he has been forced to attend this event, he has never felt happy by the end of the night. He always felt so drained. But tonight, he knew it was different. His whole year has been different since he has met Magnus.

Alec leaned in and captured Magnus' lips in a slow kiss. Magnus pulled him close, deepening it. Alec liked it like this, when it's just him and Magnus. His hand slid up Magnus' blazer, exploring his boyfriend's broad back. Fingers scratching at the fabric of Magnus' shirt and wishing it was bare skin that he was touching.

"Alexander." Magnus said into the kiss. "I think," He said into another kiss. "We should stop." Another kiss. His hands cupping Alec's face and pulling him closer. "Before things get out of hand." They continue kissing. Alec pushing Magnus back until his back is leaned against the post of the gazebo.

Magnus pulled away, gaze locked on Alec, biting his lower lip at the heat from Alec's kiss.

"We can always call it a night and go to my room." Alec suggested. He leaned in to what was supposed to be a peck but Magnus captured his lips again, suckling at his lower lip before letting it go.

"Your parents won’t mind you leaving the party?"

“My parents are busy making a business deal. Probably.” Alec clarified. Magnus bit his lip in thought. “My room is nowhere near my parents’ or my siblings’ rooms if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Alec took out his key card from the front pocket of his suit and showed it to Magnus. He grinned, Magnus nodded. Alec grabbed Magnus’ hand and they both sneaked out of the party and hurried to the suites.

Chapter Text

Magnus was woken up by feather-light kisses on his shoulder bringing a smile to his face.

"Mmm..." He moaned as the kisses started to trail up to his neck. He finally turned around, opening his eyes to see Alec's grinning face. "Good morning to you, too."

Alec planted another kiss on Magnus' lips. "Good morning." Alec said. He rested his head on his hand, his elbow on the bed, beside Magnus' shoulder. "We should go and join the group for breakfast before Max decides to barge in on us." He brushed a stray hair away from Magnus' face with his free hand.

Max wasn't particularly happy that he was sent to bed earlier than everyone else the night before. He wanted to hang out with everyone else until the party finished. He only agreed to go because they all promised to hang out with him the next day. He may also have blackmailed Alec into letting him visit Magnus’ cats at some point in the week.             
"Or your parents." Magnus suggested, placing a hand on Alec’s shoulder and started to draw circles on it with his index finger.

"Or my parents." Alec's brows knit together. "Although I highly doubt that." He added. "They're probably off golfing with their friends. Or playing tennis." He didn't particularly sound or look happy about the fact, looking into space for a while. Magnus poked Alec's nose with his finger to catch his attention. Alec gave his head a little shake and smiled at his boyfriend. “I’m fine. It was just a thought.” He said, giving Magnus’ finger a kiss, making Magnus chuckle.                     

"I kind of don't have a change of clothes." Magnus frowned, as he combed his fingers through Alec's hair. "And I'm not wearing last night's clothes to breakfast. Not going to do the walk of shame." Alec frowned.

Magnus shook his head. "I didn’t mean I'm ashamed of what we did." He added, assuring Alec who still pouted. “You know what I mean.”

Alec flashed him a lopsided and knowing grin, and nodded. There was a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.

"What?" Magnus asked. “I’m not walking out there naked.” He told his boyfriend, brows creased but with a hint of a smile on his lips.

"You can always wear my clothes." Alec suggested, still grinning. "I brought extra shirts. And a pair of jeans you left at mine."  

"Please tell me you didn't bring your shirts with the holes in them." Magnus said, pretending to be exasperated, closing his eyes briefly before looking at his boyfriend again.

Alec chuckled. "Relax. I brought the ones you like."

"But, darling, I don't like any of your clothes." Magnus said with a side grin, gently combing Alec's hair with his fingers and patting him on the cheek.

"Hah! Of course you don't like them." Alec said rolling his eyes. "That's why you keep wearing them whenever I spend the night at your house. And why you have two of my sweaters in your drawer along with my other clothes." Alec pointed out.

Magnus narrowed his eyes at his boyfriend. "You rummaged through my chest drawers? You traitor! That is invasion of privacy." He exclaimed dramatically.

Alec chuckled, lightly pinching Magnus' nose with his thumb and knuckle. “Can’t be invasion of privacy if the drawer is full of my stuff.” Magnus tried not to make his thoughts dwell too much on the fact that Alec already has a designated drawer at Magnus’ loft and vice versa. It wasn’t anything that they planned or even talked about. It was just something that happened gradually.

Magnus stuck his tongue out at him. "Did you plan this?" Magnus asked suspiciously. "Seduce me so I will spend the night. And you make me wear your clothes the next day?"


"Maybe, I did." Alec said, a hint of mischief in his eyes. "I like seeing you in my clothes." Alec's grin widened even more. "But also, I'm a boy scout. Always prepared. I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist spending the night with me." He said confidently. That earned him a loud laugh from Magnus, who pulled him in for a kiss.

A loud knock on the bedroom door caused them to part.

"Alec, you awake?" Jace's muffled voice came through. Alec sighed and gave himself a pat on the back for having the foresight to lock the door last night before things got hot and heavy with Magnus. He really was a boy scout.

"I guess that's our cue to start getting ready." Alec said. He gave Magnus a quick peck on the lips before reluctantly pulling away. He grabbed his shirt from the floor and put it on before heading for the door.

While Alec spoke to his younger brother, Magnus headed for the bathroom to wash up and get ready. His thoughts drifted to the night before. He had met Alec’s parents. And while neither Maryse nor Robert gave him a warm welcome, he still felt it a good next step and he felt closer to Alec. It had surprised him though. How much the Lightwood children acted very different when their parents were around. It gave him a little more understanding as to why none of them , especially Alec, spoke about their parents much. And why the younger Lightwoods seemed to see Alec both as a big brother and somewhat of a father figure. Especially for Max.

Alec wasn't in the room by the time he had finished showering. But he did find two of Alec's shirts and a pair of Magnus’ own black skinny jeans laid out on the bed. He had left it at Alec’s some time ago. He couldn’t even really remember when.

Magnus had just finished fixing his hair when Alec came back a small make-up bag in hand.


"Borrowed this from Izzy." He said, placing the small bag on the counter.

"Thank you, darling." Magnus said giving his fringe a last flick to make it arch over some more. “So what did Jace want?”

Alec stood behind Magnus and wrapped his arms around him, resting his chin on the latter's shoulder and looking at the mirror. “He wanted me to ask you if Clary knows how to play tennis.”

Magnus raised a brow. “Why?”

“I think he wants to take her to the tennis court today. Like for a date.” Alec said as he started peppering kisses on Magnus’ shoulder and neck.

“Last night’s date went very well then?” Magnus asked. Alec answered with a short “Mhm” but continued with his ministrations.

Magnus chuckled as he reached for the make-up bag, unzipping it. “Well then he’ll be happy to know that biscuit is excellent at tennis. And she’ll probably kick his ass.”

Alec looked up. “I’ll tell him she played some tennis here and there. No need to let him know her full talent. I’ll let him find that out himself.” He shrugged, grinning, then tightened his hold on Magnus, who has managed to find one of Izzy’s eyeliners from the kit.

“You know, I really don't mind seeing you without make-up." Alec said resting his chin on Magnus’ shoulder again. They both looked at each other through their reflection on the mirror. Magnus' hands resting on top of Alec's. "You always look beautiful to me."

Magnus grinned then turned his head to look at his boyfriend. "Alexander, no need to sweet talk me. I'm already yours." He winked making Alec blush a little. “You look so cute when you blush.”

Magnus circled his arm around to the back of Alec’s head, pulling him down and kissing him fervently. Alec responding after the initial shock. Magnus chuckled into the kiss when he felt Alec's hand move underneath his shirt. "We're supposed to be getting ready." He said, pulling away briefly before making their lips meet again.

"Five more minutes." Alec said without parting his lips from Magnus' then he started to trail kisses down Magnus' neck. "They can wait." He guided Magnus around to face him, pushing him against the bathroom sink, deepening their kiss. "Maybe ten minutes." Magnus' laughter echoed through the bathroom as Alec continued to plant kisses down his neck.

*********
It's another half hour or so before they actually made it to the Country Club restaurant. Jace and Max were already there, already halfway through their meal.

"Look who finally emerged." Jace grinned teasingly, more at Alec than Magnus. "We were about to send off a search party."

Alec just rolled his eyes at his younger brother as he took his seat beside Magnus.

"Finally got hungry for some real food?" Jace asked, winking at Alec, still a teasing tone to his voice. Alec shot a warning look at Jace, cocking his head slightly to indicate to Max, who at that point was busy shovelling scrambled eggs on a piece of toast.

"If you guys are worried about keeping it PG around me, it's too late.” Max said taking a big bite out of the toast. "I already saw Jace and Clary last night in the gardens. Doing what the British call 'snogging.'" Max raised a brow at Jace, daring, and then continued to eat when his older brother couldn’t respond. Jace just turned a deep shade of red especially when he caught Magnus’ eye.

Magnus raised a brow at him. “Jonathan, while I’m supportive of your relationship with biscuit, you know Luke was a Marine and a sniper, right?” Jace’s eyes widened in panic but Magnus ignored it. “Please tell me you’re being careful.” He said sternly.

“Who’s being careful?” Izzy asked catching the tail end of the conversation. She sat across from Max, closely followed by Clary, who sat between her and Jace, and Simon, who sat on Izzy’s other side.

“Jace and Cla-mmmpf.” Max was interrupted by Jace stuffing a huge piece of toast in his mouth.

“Eat your breakfast, little buddy.” Jace said nervously, awkwardly patting the top of Max’s head while bashfully smiling at Clary. They both tried to discreetly and shyly look at each other but the whole group’s attention was already on them.

Max teared out the other half of the toast that was still hanging from his mouth and glared at Jace. He only calmed down when Alec gently patted the back of his head.

“Biscuit, Shannon, you’re both here early.” Magnus asked, brows creased in wonder. By this time he had gotten used to the Lightwood siblings - particularly Jace and Max - and their teasing and winding each other up. They never really fought with Alec always there to calm them down.  

Clary nodded. “Mom’s and Luke’s hotel isn’t far from here so they dropped us off before they went for their date to the museum.” She said as she flicked through the menu.

Clary’s parents had decided to take a little weekend getaway to Staten Island when they heard Clary and Simon were both invited to the party. Although, Magnus had suspected it was an excuse of sorts to keep an eye on their daughter. It wasn’t that Clary was a “wild” teenager. She was actually very well-behaved, responsible and had a sensible head on her shoulders - even more than some adults. But Luke and Jocelyn doted on her - and by extension Simon, whom they have both considered to be a son, as well.

“They could have joined us for breakfast.” Alec commented, raising his hand up to briefly call the waiter over to get their orders.  

“Clary and I asked but they said they were driving to Richmond town and then to the Alice Austen House.” Simon piped in, while looking at his own menu.

“I don’t think they wanted to hang out with a bunch of teenagers.” Clary shrugged.

Alec and Magnus looked at each other. “Hm, that’s an idea. Maybe we shouldn’t hang out with a bunch of teenagers and a kid, either.” Alec jested.

“But…” Max exclaimed. “You guys promised you’d hang out with me today.” He said pouting, arms crossed and brows knit together.

Alec ruffled his hair. “Just kidding, Max.” He said. “We’re hanging out with you. Maybe we can have a little round of putt-putt after breakfast?”

Max’s eyes lit up. “Really?” He sat up, pout forgotten.

Alec nodded.

“Maybe you can teach me to play, Max.” Magnus added smiling at the beaming boy. “I’m not very good at it.”

“Is that true?” Alec asked, untrusting. “Or is it like you not being good at bowling?” He continued.

“I’m really not. You don't trust me?” Magnus defended, chuckling. “Biscuit and Samson can attest to it.”

All the Lightwoods looked at Simon and Clary for confirmation.

“You’re not bad at it.” Clary chimed in.

“That’s nice of you to say, biscuit.” Magnus said smiling at her.

“He’s like the worst at it.” Simon added. “I remember a projectile golf club and almost taking someone’s eye out.” Simon looked up reminiscing.

“Thank you, Shanna. Very helpful for pointing that out.” Magnus narrowed his eyes at Simon. “And you wonder why I never get your name right. Clary’s now my favourite.”

Simon’s mouth dropped, agape. “But. I was your favourite. I helped you with your computer.” He looked at Clary who grinned, then back at Magnus, eyes still wide. Magnus shook his head at him. Simon bowed his head. “I’m sorry.” He mumbled then looked at Clary, eyes narrowed.

“I’m his favourite.” Clary said in sing-song, teasing her best friend. Simon stuck his tongue out at her.

Magnus winked at Alec when they made eye contact. He shook his head then smiled when Alec’s brow creased, concerned for Simon.

“Favourite?” Izzy asked.

Magnus shook his head. “Just something we carried over way back when I was still babysitting them.” Magnus explained. “Whoever I said was my favourite at the end of the day, got treated to ice cream. It was just a way to get both of them to behave. Or out of mischief.”

“Only Magnus still always ended up buying ice cream for both of us anyway.” Clary commented.

“Ssssh. Don’t let Siri know that.” Magnus joked shooting a glance at Simon who gave him a fake pout.

“But mostly you’re the one who got us into mischief.” Clary added absentmindedly. “Like that time you got us to sneak into your school and-” She slapped her hand to her mouth when she realised Magnus was looking at her but it was too late.

“Magnus caused mischief?” Izzy queried.

“That’s nonsense.” Magnus deflected. “Me? Cause mischief?” He feigned. “Never. I’m very well behaved.” He added.  

“I’m sure.” Alec retorted, curiosity in his eyes while he looked at his boyfriend. “Now spill.”

“It’s nothing, darling.” Magnus gave Alec a quick peck to distract him then he shot Clary a look. “It’s nothing at all.” He said to the group.

Simon raised both hands up in the air. “Favourite right?” He pointed to himself whilst looking at Magnus with a wide smile.

Magnus winked at him. Clary stuck her tongue out at Simon when he gloated.

“There’s a story behind that.” Alec spoke softly when the group had become distracted.

“And you will never know.” Magnus said a sly smile on his face but had no plans to say anything further. Instead he looked up at the waiter who had arrived to take their order.

 

********

The group separated after breakfast with Izzy, Simon, Clary and Jace heading for the tennis courts and Alec, Max and Magnus heading for the mini-golf area.

It was a nice sunny day, and while the heat wasn’t that intense, it still made them sweat. So halfway through their game, Magnus headed back to the restaurant to get him, Alec and Max some water. He didn’t mind missing any of the stations since he wasn’t kidding when he said he wasn’t very good at mini-golf. He was sure his boyfriend and Max were thankful he decided to take a break. Magnus may have lost the golf club on more than one occasion. Simon wasn’t kidding about the projectile golf club. His only consolation was that at least no one has gotten injured. At least not yet, as Max (and Alec) kindly pointed out.

He saw a familiar face by the bar as he approached. “Hello, Mrs Lightwood.” Magnus greeted with a smile. He wasn’t sure if he was allowed to call her by her first name so he decided to go the more traditional title. “I hope you’re having a good day.”

Maryse greeted him with the same cold treatment as the night before when they first met. “I see you’re still here.” She said lips pursing and a hint of a sneer.

“Uh, yes.” Magnus answered nervously even if she didn’t really ask a question, and he kept his smile. “I was just playing mini-golf with Max and Alec. It’s really -”

“What are your intentions with my son?” Maryse interrupted, her shoulders squared and she stood like she towered over him and ready to fight. Magnus was taller than her but somehow he felt really small with how she held herself.

“My intentions?” Magnus asked, taken by surprise. His smile now faded, and his brows knit. He and Maryse somehow got on the wrong foot the night before. And from what Alec told him, Maryse was a hard woman to please. Especially when it came to Alec. But he did not expect his intentions to be questioned. Movies and TV shows often showed parents disapproving of relationships for one reason of another. But Magnus thought it didn’t happen in real life. He and Alec weren’t exactly Romeo and Juliet. Nor were they characters from the West Side Story. But right now, it certainly felt like it. Still, Magnus gave the situation the benefit of the doubt. Maryse was probably just being a mother, being protective of her son.

“I’m sorry. I don’t follow.” Magnus added, still needing clarification.

Maryse raised a brow and stood up straighter - towering, intimidating. “The last thing Alec needs is a distraction from his studies. He has a promising future. And he doesn’t need someone like you to destroy it.”

“I’m sorry. Someone like me?” Magnus asked. He was still in disbelief and trying to understand what it was that he did or said.

“I may not know who you are, Magnus Bane. But there are people in my circle who do. People who have heard of you. You grew up in the foster system. But somehow found yourself under the wing of one of the wealthiest families in New York. Even attended a prestigious high school.” She said with a sneer. “That poor Belcourt girl. And her friend, Rolf Scott, was it?” She shook her head, giving Magnus a disgusted look.

Magnus’ eyes grew wide in surprise. Maryse had struck a chord.

Camille Belcourt had been his girlfriend when he was a junior in high school. It was a wild, juvenile relationship. They were both rebellious teenagers who thought the world was against them. She had become his world for a time. Magnus had loved her. He did, even when he knew that she didn’t feel the same way he did. She wasn’t his first, nor was she his true love, whatever that meant. But it was love nonetheless. It was the dangerous and destructive kind of love.

And Rolf Scott? Camille had cheated on Magnus with Rolf several times. Magnus didn’t want to think about him. About either of them. It was a long time ago, but a part of him still felt responsible for what happened. He pushed down his feelings and his memories deep down. He had escaped that darkness. He wished it hadn’t happened but it did.

“What happened with Camille was a long time ago.” Magnus said his voice caught as his throat tightened. “And Rolf…” He swallowed past the lump in his throat, trying to suppress his breathing. “It wasn’t my fault. I tried to help her, tried to help both of them.”

“Help them? Is that what you tell yourself?” Maryse sneered. “You destroyed her. Her future. And him? He no longer has one. Yet somehow you got out of it unscathed.” She leaned forward bringing her face close to his, daggers in her eyes. “You will not do that to my son. I don’t know how you charmed the Herondales. So much that they’ve awarded you a scholarship to one of the most prestigious medical schools. That they always seem to swoop down to save you.” Maryse hissed. “But Alec will see you for who your are before you drag him down. You will not use him to raise your status from scum. I know your kind. You pretend to be a good person but in reality, you destroy other people’s lives. You are toxic.”

Magnus fought back tears. He opened his mouth but no sound came out. He had fought so hard to bury so many dark memories from his past. About his parents, and now this. He had thought that those were over. It was a past life. He was young and angry and didn’t know any better. It was a life that he tried hard to run away from, to forget. He wasn’t that person anymore. He was better. Or at least he thought he was. It turned out there were some things he could not escape. Every time he thought he had something good, his past always came back to haunt him.

Magnus clenched his jaw and his fist, to hold back his tears, his anger at himself, at Maryse, at the threat to his relationship with Alec. “I assure you. Alec and I-” He paused. He couldn’t find the words. Why couldn’t he defend himself? Why couldn’t he say anything? “My feelings for Alec are-”

“Mom!” Max’s voice bellowed from across the room closely followed by Alec abruptly cutting off whatever Magnus was going to say.

Magnus looked away to compose himself. Maryse greeted both her boys with a smile like nothing happened. It

“You okay?” Alec asked, putting his arm around Magnus who had just wiped a tear away.

“Yeah. I’m okay.” He said when he turned around to look at Alec. Every part of him fought to stay calm, to steady himself, to hide his feelings and not cry. He didn’t want Maryse to see him fold. BUt most of all, he didn’t want Alec to see. He didn’t want Alec to know.

“The heat got to me more than I thought.”  Magnus forced a smile, even crinkling his eyes to make it look more sincere.

Alec wiped the sweat from Magnus’ brow with the palm of his hand and brushed his hair back. “You can have a longer rest if you’d like. We don’t have to finish the game.”

Magnus shook his head. “I’m fine. You worry wart.” He said, twining his fingers with Alec’s then looked at Max. “Besides, Max still needs to teach me his secret move.” He had promised that he was going to spend the day with Max and he didn’t want to disappoint the boy.

“It’s only right since you taught me how to get a strike in bowling.” Max said proudly. He tugged on Maryse’s hand. “I told you about that before, mom. That was Magnus. He was Alec’s date that time.”

“That was him?” Maryse exclaimed. She shot Magnus a look and then returned her attention to her youngest. Even that one look had Magnus’ heart pounding again but he tempered it.

Max nodded happily to confirm. Out of the Lightwood siblings, it was clear Maryse treated her youngest differently. This was the most affection Magnus has seen her show and it was only to one of her children. Alec was the most guarded. Not that Magnus had seen much of their interaction. And if she was going to follow through with her threat, then he likely won’t see much of it.

Magnus had thought about it amidst his anger. She was pretending like their conversation never happened. Why was he pretending with her? He could say it, he could let out his feelings. It was already clear that Alec and Maryse had a strained relationship. He could play that card and Alec would likely take his side. Won’t he?

Magnus looked at Alec and then at Max. Even if Alec did, could Magnus really do that? Could he really cause conflict within this family? Can he really do that to Max, and even Alec? And then what? Then it would make Maryse’s words more true. That he was toxic and that he destroys things.

Magnus inhaled sharply. “Well, shall we have a few cold drinks? A sundae maybe?” He asked directing it to Alec and Max. He had contemplated opening the invitation to Maryse out of courtesy but she didn’t look at him. He wasn’t surprised. In a way he was glad.

“I’ll just go to the bathroom,okay?” He whispered to Alec. He had to get away to breathe. “Order something for me.” He added, pecked Alec on the cheek and left even before Alec could fully respond.

 

********

As soon as Magnus left, Alec squatted to be at eye level with his younger brother. “Hey, buddy. Can you order a big sundae for you and maybe one for Magnus?” He asked. Max was more than happy to order their food and headed straight for the bar counter to talk to a waitress.

Alec stood up, and looked at his mother, his arms crossed. “What did you tell him?” He asked, tone serious.

“Your brother? You were here for that conversation Alec.” Maryse said, her tone condescending.

“Not Max.” Alec almost raised his voice. “Magnus. What did you say to him?” Alec pursed his lips and controlled his breathing. “He looked upset before we arrived. And that can only mean you said something to him.”

“He looked alright to me.” Maryse said meeting Alec’s glare.

“Don’t act innocent with me.” Alec exclaimed. “What did you say?” He asked again, emphasising each word.

“I merely gave him the usual mother’s warning, Alec.” Maryse said casually, walking towards one of the tables.

Alec let out a dismissive huff. “Since when do you care about my relationships enough to give warnings?” He asked following her close to their table.

“You are my son, and I don’t want you hurt.” Maryse replied as she pulled a seat and sat down. “I’m just making sure his intentions are true.”

Alec sat on one of the chairs, leaving one between him and his mother. His patience was being tested. “I’m not buying into your innocent act, mom.”

“Fine.” Maryse sighed, shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I merely told him what I had heard about his past and he got upset. It turns out some people in our circle know about him more than I thought.” Alec clenched his fist, anger rising especially so as he watched his mother flick through the menu on the table so casually.

Last night, after finding out Imogen - his parent’s prized client - knew about Magnus, Alec had hoped his parents would at least give his boyfriend a chance. Alec had even believed it when they seemed like they warmed up to him. He should have known it was too good to be true. His mother has something up her sleeve. Alec knew a little about Magnus’ past but he was slowly opening up. Alec knew he wasn’t ready. He just didn’t think that his mother would somehow use it.

“How much do you really know about him, Alec?” Maryse asked, her arms now crossed and her demeanour more serious.

“I know enough.” Alec replied, keeping eye contact with his mother. He was not going to back down. “And he will tell me more when he is ready. I want to hear it from him, not from you or your prissy friends.”

“I’m merely trying to protect you. He is trouble and I will not let him ruin your future.”

“He is trouble? He’ll destroy my future?” Alec said shaking his head. “God! Do you even hear yourself?” Alec hissed. “You don’t even know him. And there you are, judging him again just because some people in your circle have heard about him.”

“Magnus is special to me. I trust him. I love him, mom.” Alec said it with conviction. He hasn’t told Magnus about his feelings. Alec didn’t even know exactly when he had loved Magnus, but he knew now. That was the important thing. And he wasn’t afraid to admit it to his mother. “I’m not going to let you destroy my future with him.”

Maryse opened her mouth but was interrupted.

“Maryse!” A voice bellowed making both look up.

“Sebastian!” Maryse said in surprise, greeting the new arrival with a smile. Sebastian greeted Maryse with a kiss and a hug. “I’m sorry I missed the party last night.” He apologised.

Maryse laughed and waved her hand to dismiss him. “Oh, it’s alright. Your father explained everything.” She looked up. “Now you remember Alec.” She pointed to her son.

“Of course. Hey, Alec!” Sebastian smiled at Alec and pulled him into a hug taking the latter by surprise.

“Okay.” Alec responded and pulled back, awkwardly. “Hello, Sebastian.” He said. He stepped back.

Sebastian Morgenstern was the son of an old friend of Maryse and Robert’s - Valentine Morgenstern. Naturally, Sebastian and Alec grew up in the same circle, with Aline and Lydia. He had moved to the United Kingdom just before they finished high school. When Alec had come out his parents, they weren’t happy about it at first. But when they found out through Valentine that Sebastian had been interested in Alec, Maryse and Robert had jumped at the opportunity to fix them up. Alec didn’t particularly like Sebastian but he did it to appease his parents. He didn’t know any better then.

“Please join us.” Maryse pointed Sebastian to the seat next to Alec and the man sat down without protest.

Alec glared at his mother. It irked him that she had brushed their unfinished conversation under the rug. But most of all, he knew that look. It was the same look she had when she had fixed him up with Sebastian. It made Alec angrier, knowing what she was trying to do despite him having just introduced Magnus to her.

 

*********

Magnus took some time in the bathroom to compose himself. His past was brought up and while it was a long time ago, he still got rattled by any mention of it. He had wanted to tell Alec about it several times but his fear that Alec would look at him differently had scared him. His relationship with Alec was special. And he wanted it to remain perfect - just like how it was now.

Magnus took several breaths until had had calmed down. When he returned to their table there was a tall and slender man with platinum blond hair who had joined their group. He wasn’t anyone Magnus had seen with the Lightwoods before but he seemed to be friendly with them. Maryse was smiling, genuinely this time, at something the man said. Magnus wished she treated him the same way, with the same warmth.

“... and I was so looking forward to seeing everyone at the party and catching up with old friends.” The man clapped Alec’s shoulder and squeezed, smiling.

Alec smiled back. Magnus couldn’t quite place Alec’s smile. It was familiar but it was something else. His eyes went to the man’s hand on Alec’s shoulder again. Alec wasn’t a very touchy person. With the exception of his siblings, Aline, Lydia, and Magnus, he wouldn’t just let anyone touch him with such familiarity.

A shot of pain squeezed through Magnus’ heart but he pushed it away and stepped forward. He didn’t really need to be jealous right now. Alec was allowed to have friends. And Alec probably had many more friends that Magnus hasn’t met. Like this gentleman.

Magnus concluded that it was because he was upset with the conversation with Maryse earlier that’s why he was feeling this way. It wasn’t because of this man who seemed to be sitting too close to Alec at the moment.

Magnus took another breath to relax himself. Things were going to be fine. Alec. Alec was his boyfriend. His. He took a step forward towards the table.

“... I arrived around four in the morning. It was hell waiting at the airport.” The man said with a half-whine leaning his temple on his clenched fist that was resting on Alec’s shoulder.

Alec’s eyes lit up when he saw Magnus arrive. He made to stand up but Magnus quickly strode to the empty chair between Alec and Max.

He tried hard not to think about the man’s hand lingering on Alec’s shoulder. Or the fact that Alec wasn’t doing anything to shake it off. It was making Magnus livid but he suppressed it.

Magnus put on a smile, regaining his confidence. Or he was damn well faking it. Perhaps jealousy had some positive effects. It gave Magnus something else to focus on, and forgetting about his past. About his conversation with Maryse. At least for a while.

“Sorry that took a while, darling.” Magnus said, pulling his chair closer to Alec’s before sitting down. He then looked at the stranger, smiling bright and chirpy. “Hi.” He greeted. “I’m Magnus. I’m Alec’s boyfriend.” He said extending his hand, across in front of Alec, to the other man.

He was aware Maryse was there but right now he didn’t want to think about it. Besides, based on their previous conversation, she was not going to be happy with him whatever he did. He was scum, as she so gently put it. So he pretended not to care. At least this way he could still stake his claim that Alec was his. It was a small victory. He will worry about her later. Right now, he had another more pressing issue to address. Like someone else casually touching his boyfriend.

“Sebastian Morgenstern.” The other man said shaking Magnus’ hand briefly.

“Pleasure to meet you, Sebastian.” Magnus said. Once Sebastian let his hand go, Magnus rested it on Alec’s knee.

“Pleasure to meet you, too.” Sebastian said. He smiled but it looked fake. At least it did to Magnus. “I didn’t know you were in a relationship right now, Alec.” Sebastian added, looking at Alec then back at Magnus again, that stupid fake smile still plastered on his face. And the tone of his voice was annoying Magnus to no end. There was no sincerity to it.

“Uh, yeah.” Alec said taking Magnus’ hand and twining their fingers. “For a while now, actually.” Alec locked eyes with Magnus and smiled. Magnus thought it wasn’t fair. He got lost in Alec’s hazel eyes and his beautiful smile making him return the gesture. “Almost a year?” Alec asked. He and Magnus weren’t really ones to celebrate each month they were together. For both of them, it felt like they had been together for years now.

“Almost.” Magnus replied, grinning bashfully, yet proudly. How could Magnus have been jealous of Sebastian when it was clear Alec’s attention was on him? On Magnus - just them.

“But Alec had crushed on Magnus for a long time before they started dating.” Max piped in making Magnus laugh and Alec blush. Since meeting Magnus, Max and Izzy have made it a point to find out everything about Alec and Magnus’ relationship. Most of the protests came from Alec knowing that his siblings were at some point going to tease him about it. Or blackmail him in some way. Max had been sitting quietly and happily eating his sundae since Magnus joined them at the table. Magnus suspected the boy was just biding his time. “And his phone is filled with pictures of Magnus. And he stares-”

“Go eat your sundae elsewhere.” Alec, red in the face, interrupted. He threw a crumpled serviette at his brother. Max stood up grinning. He grabbed his food then looked at the untouched sundae in front of Magnus.

“You can have it.” Magnus said knowing what the look on Max’s face meant.

The boy’s face lit up. Max grabbed the sundae. “Thanks, Magnus.” He said, giving Magnus a quick hug before walking to sit on the lawn just outside the cafe.

Magnus caught Maryse glaring at him. She probably wasn’t happy about Max being close to him either. For a moment, Magnus glared back in defiance before bringing his attention back to Alec. Inside though, Magnus’ heart was racing. What was he doing? Wasn’t he supposed to be trying to please her? Get on her good side? She was Alec’s mother after all. Magnus suddenly had a better understanding of mother-in-laws not getting along with their children’s spouses. Not that Magnus and Alec were married. Or even getting married. They were far from discussing that subject even. But maybe someday.

The thought made Magnus smile as he looked at Alec. He definitely wanted to spend the rest of his life with this man. He just needed to survive the mother.

“So Sebastian, how long are you going to be in the country this time?” Maryse asked as she took a sip of her coffee.

“Until I finish my degree, actually.” Sebastian answered putting his glass down on the table. “I’m starting next semester.”

Maryse’s eyes grew wide and she smiled widely. “That is wonderful news! Your father did say they were trying to get your subjects cross-credited from England.” Maryse beamed, shooting a glance at Magnus then back at Sebastian.

“Yeah. Dad got offered the Chief Neurosurgeon job as well as tenure at the medical school so it was time to move.” Sebastian looked at Alec. “It’s going to be at your University.”

“Oh this is going to be so good!” Maryse exclaimed, clasping her hands together, they made a smacking sound. “At least you’ll know someone from the University. And it will be like when you and Alec in high school.”

Alec shot her a look. “Mother.” He warned.

“You two went to high school together?” Magnus asked, he couldn’t help but squeeze Alec’s hand when he asked the question. Alec opened his mouth to answer but his mother interrupted him.

“Oh yes. And middle school. They were from the same group of friends.” Maryse reported cheerily. Alec shook his head. “And you two dated for a while, didn’t you?”

“Briefly.” Alec glared at his mother. Magnus felt Alec squeeze his hand tighter. He wasn’t sure if Alec was trying to reassure him or if it was to control his anger at his mother or both.

“Oh, of course.” Maryse laughed then waved her hand dismissively. “It was because you moved away even before graduation. That father of yours, really. Dragging you everywhere for his work.” She continued, shaking her head at the comment. She looked at Sebastian, who scratched the back of his head shyly.

“Relax, Alec.” Maryse said then  looked straight at Magnus. Her gaze was challenging, daring him to say anything. “I’m sure Magnus understands that I was just reminiscing. Sebastian is a close friend of the family after all.” She picked up her cup and took a sip without breaking eye contact with Magnus. Each word of that last line was emphasised by her gaze. “I still wonder what would have happened though, if you didn’t move away, Sebastian. You two looked perfect together.”

“Oh Maryse.” Sebastian said rubbing the back of his neck, his head bowed slightly and he peeked at Alec shyly. “That was, that was another time.” He said.

“And it’ll definitely not happen again.” Alec retorted, shooting his mother another look. He didn’t seem to care that he sounded rude.

Magnus saw Alec bite his lip but at least he had relaxed his grip on Magnus’ hand. He could tell Alec was trying to control his anger, not wanting to cause a scene. He had heard about how manipulative Maryse could be and he was witnessing it first hand. Her casually dropping the fact that Alec had dated Sebastian was a calculated move. He knew it was directed at him more than it was directed at Alec. This was Maryse telling Magnus that there was someone she approved of to be with her son. Someone who didn’t bring trouble. Someone who wasn’t like Magnus.

If it wasn’t for Magnus being more concerned about Alec in that moment, he would have been affected by what Maryse was doing. Magnus focused on keeping Alec calm. He was jealous, especially after finding out about Alec and Sebastian. But he pushed it back again. He could worry about that later. Or he could try to not be jealous later.

“You must miss a lot of your friends in England.” Maryse commented, changing the subject.

“I do.” Sebastian said. “But there weren’t many. No one special to really miss.” He continued. Then he looked at Alec again. “I’m actually looking forward to catching up with old friends, like Alec. And Jace and Izzy, of course.” He smiled. Magnus saw his gaze linger on Alec. Yes, he was still jealous. He didn’t like the way Sebastian kept looking at Alec.

Then Sebastian’s attention was on him. “Not to get back together, of course.” He denied. “I mean you two are together so…” He let it trail off.

Magnus forced a smile. “I know what you mean. It’s alright.” He said, surprised that he was able to say it so casually and in a friendly way. Still, he couldn’t help but clasp Alec’s hand between his.

“Well, why don’t you go with Alec and his siblings to the Lake House after exams?” Maryse suggested. “It will be like old times. They always spend a few days of the summer there.”

“That’s a wonderful idea.” Sebastian beamed then looked at Alec. “If that’s alright with you, of course.”

“Oh, of course it’s alright.” Maryse said before Alec could actually answer. “You’re practically family.” She added, side-eyeing Magnus and making sure he heard every word again. “It’s not like you haven’t spent the summer with them there before. I’m sure your father will be alright with it.”

It had taken another half hour of awkward conversation with Maryse and Sebastian. Magnus had found out that Sebastian was going to be in his class. It was then that it clicked for Magnus that Sebastian was the son of The Dr Valentine Morgenstern - a world renowned neurosurgeon who was going to be one of Magnus’ lecturers in the upcoming semester. At some point in the conversation, Alec had dropped the hint that Sebastian was only able to cross-credit his subjects due to his father’s influence. This earned a hiss and a glare from his mother. Although she directed that more towards Magnus than to Alec.

Towards the end of the conversation, Sebastian seemed to have gotten more touchy with Alec much to Magnus’ chagrin. And Maryse brought up things about Alec and Sebastian or hinted about her knowledge about Magnus’ past. It was Dr Morgenstern who knew the Belcourts. It was him who told her about Magnus’ past with the family.

Maryse didn’t reveal anything too obvious while Alec was there. But Magnus knew from her glaring looks and her hints that she was giving him a warning. And a very serious one.

After a while, when it seemed Alec had had enough of his mother, he excused both of them from the table and left.

But by that time, Magnus was already rattled again. The whole way to the suite, he kept quiet. He held on to Alec’s hand for security and stability. By the time they reached the room, he had at least regained some of his composure back. Maybe it was because it was just him and Alec again.

“Well that was awkward.” Magnus commented as they entered Alec’s room. He felt tired, exhausted mentally.

“I know.” Alec said following Magnus who sat on the edge of the bed. Alec lay down beside Magnus and rubbed his face with his hands. He was exhausted, too. “I’m sorry. It’s just mom -”

“Clearly doesn’t like me?” Magnus couldn’t help the bitterness in his voice. He chuckled nervously, and looked at his boyfriend.

“I told you. Mom doesn't like anybody.” Alec said, his voice tired. He was spent from trying to suppress his anger and act civil around his mother and their guest.

Magnus focused on twisting his rings. “She seemed to like the wonderful Sebastian. Especially for you. I think she's planned your wedding.” He teased. It was a poor attempt at humour to hide his real feelings. “I can't blame her though. You two do look perfect together. And like your mother said, he’s practically family.” He tried to sound calm but once again, he failed. His voice came out more sarcastic and he could not hide how annoyed he was.

Alec sat up, brows knit together. “Are you serious right now?” He asked, anger rising from his tone.

Magnus let out a chuckle and shrugged. “I was just saying-”

“Saying what?” Alec interrupted, irritated. He stood up. “That I’m better off with him?”

Magnus opened his mouth then closed it. He had tried to hide it but hearing that question from Alec, he couldn’t lie. “Aren’t you? I mean, his dad is a great surgeon. He comes from a reputable family just like yours. And he seems to be very smart to be top of his class in med school. And you two already have history. And he’s not bad looking. And I think he still likes you.” He had attempted it to sound like a joke at first, but he ended up babbling and with each word the confidence in his voice fell. With each word he had begun to sound more bitter and jealous.

“Really?” Alec exclaimed exasperated. “So just because of those you think I should be with him? Just because my mother likes him. Even if I don’t.”

“Well, you didn’t seem to mind him touching you in such a familiar way.” Magnus mumbled but loud enough for Alec to hear.

Magnus had reached his limit. He was exhausted. This wasn’t what he had wanted to happen at all. But he was annoyed, and he was pushing back. He had reached the point of self-loathing. The more they talked about Sebastian, the more he became jealous.

“And the trip down memory lane? Such nostalgia. All those weekends and summers.” Magnus continued, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “And he’s the golden boy, just like you. He won’t get you into trouble. And he won’t destroy your future like-”

“Are you kidding me? Destroy my future?” Alec exclaimed, confused. He had started to pace in front of Magnus. “Magnus, Sebastian means nothing to me. I don’t care if he’s the golden boy or whatever. I didn’t bring the past up. Mom did. And she was doing it to get to you.” He raised his voice then abruptly stopped. “That’s what this is, isn’t it?” He asked, resting both his palms on his head. “Please tell me you didn't let my mother get to you. It’s what she does. She judges and she manipulates until she gets what she wants.”

Magnus looked down, shaking his head. “She didn’t. She didn’t get to me.” He said hesitantly, with no confidence or reassurance in his voice at all. And he wasn’t responding to Alec, not really. That line was for himself. But he knew. It was all a lie. She had already gotten to him even before Sebastian arrived. But he couldn't let Alec know.

Alec knelt in front of Magnus and placed one hand on each knee. “Magnus, this doesn’t sound like you.” He started, using his knuckle to lift Magnus’ chin up to look at him. “Is this even about Sebastian or is it something else?” Magnus looked away again and bit his lip.

“You were already upset before he arrived. That’s why you went to the bathroom.” Alec added. Magnus felt a bitter taste in his mouth. He had hoped Alec would stay on the subject of Sebastian. Because that topic he could manage. Having to tell Alec about Camille was another thing. “She said something to you, didn’t she?”

Magnus didn’t say anything. And neither did Alec. He wasn’t sure how long but he couldn’t look Alec in the eye.

Alec sighed, placing both hands on the bed on either side of Magnus’ hips. “Please tell me? Did it have something to do with your past? Tell me.” Alec pleaded, searching for Magnus’ gaze but the latter refused.

Magnus shook his head, tight-lipped. He knew in his head that it would make it so much easier if he could just tell Alec about it, about his past. But every time he thought about saying anything, his heart raced and he could feel his panic rising and he felt paralysed. Because what if Alec would never look at him the same way again?

Alec took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He clenched his fists and nodded. Silence again. Magnus stared at the floor, focused on just one spot.

Alec leaned back and sat down on the floor, his elbows resting on his knees. He rubbed the back of his neck and ran his fingers through his hair, back to front. “Does it have something to do with Camille Belcourt?”

Magnus’ eyes grew wide. He flinched, frightened. His chest tightened, and his throat felt dry. He opened his mouth but no words came out. Did Alec know? How much did he know? How did he know? Magnus wasn’t ready. He was going to tell Alec about it. Just not right now.

“You flinched every time Mom brought her up.” Alec explained, not needing Magnus to say anything. “And you flinched again just now.”

“I-” Magnus started, his throat tight.

A knock on the door made them both jump. Then Izzy walked in.

“Hey, Alec, Magnus.” She said as she strode in. “Simon and Clary are going home with Luke and Jocelyn-” She paused looking at Alec then at Magnus. “-if you wanted to say goodbye.” She continued, voice hesitant, her brows furrowed with concern as she read the situation.

Magnus quickly got up, straightened his clothes then grabbed his suit from the chair. “I think I’ll catch a ride with them.” He said hurriedly then walked past Alec, gave a confused Izzy a quick kiss on the cheek and then left.

 

*********

“Magnus, wait!” Alec shouted but he was gone. “Damn it!” Alec made to go after him but Izzy blocked his way. “Izzy.” He warned.

“Alec, Stop!” She warned back and stared him down. “He’s clearly upset and so are you. Now what happened?”

Alec sighed then sat down on the bed. “Mom happened.” He hissed. “And then we had a fight. I think. I don’t know.” He said, rubbing his temples. He tried to think back. This day started out perfect. They were having a nice time. They were having a great day. When he woke up that morning, he didn’t think that it would end with Magnus storming off, upset.

Alec felt a bitter taste in his mouth and his stomach twisted. He knew Maryse had said something to Magnus. And Alec was angry that his mother made Magnus act that way, that she had hurt Magnus somehow. And then Sebastian just had to choose that time to arrive. But most of all, Alec was angry because Magnus wouldn’t open up and he didn’t know what to do. He said he was going to wait til Magnus was ready to talk, and he had been waiting.

But for how long? And what if Magnus was never going to be ready? What would Alec do then? Will they just keep having these fights? He had wanted to help, had wanted to be there for Magnus. Even just to listen. Were his feelings not enough for Magnus to trust him?

Izzy sat down beside Alec and rubbed his back.

“He won’t tell me anything, Iz.” Alec complained. He rubbed his face with his palm again. “I don’t know what Mom said, but it had upset him but he wouldn’t say what it was about.” Alec started to vent. He had always found it easy to talk to his sister. “And then of course, Sebastian is back. And mom…”

“Told him he was your ex?” Izzy completed his sentence for him, also annoyed. Alec nodded.

“I knew last night was too good to be true.” Alec said voice muffled by his hands, covering his face. His elbows rested on his knees. “She had given up too easily last night. Being nice and accommodating after finding out about Imogen. And then she went around and asked about Magnus. Or at least found someone who thought they knew about him.” He sighed and pulled at his hair. “I need to talk to Magnus.”

“Well, you know where he lives.” Izzy said, giving her brother a smile. “But maybe you do talk when you have a game plan and he has calmed down?”

Alec half chuckled. Then nodded. He had to clear things up with Magnus.

 

***********

Magnus was quiet on the drive back to Brooklyn. He had been visibly upset when he got in the car. He knew the others noticed but he was thankful that Luke, Jocelyn, Simon and Clary all knew him enough to give him some space.

When he got back to the loft, he slumped down on the couch, face first. He ran away from Alec. His past was brought up and he ran away. Just like he always did.

Alec had been so patient with him. He had said he was going to wait until Magnus was ready to talk about his past. Magnus had wanted to say something but he was afraid. Afraid of how Alec might react, how Alec might see him. So to deal with his fear, Magnus did the opposite. Instead of talking, he had been selfish and stubborn. He knew it. But he did it anyway.  

It was walking on thin ice but Magnus wanted to test Alec’s patience, push the boundaries. Alec said he was going to wait. So Magnus was going to make him. And then what?   

How long was Alec wait going to do that? How long will he really be patient with Magnus? What if Magnus was never going to be ready? Will Alec just keep waiting? What if Alec walked away? Just like the others. What then?

Magnus felt his stomach twist. He couldn’t do this to Alec. The man has been nothing but good to him. Perfect really. And here was Magnus, doing what he did best. Destroy the good things in his life.

Magnus felt his heart constrict. If Alec walked away then that gave him his answer. And Magnus would deal with the pain. Just like he always did.

The confrontation with Maryse had exhausted him. The fight with Alec had exhausted him even more. He knew he hurt Alec by running away, especially after provoking him about Sebastian. That wasn’t even really what had triggered Magnus. Why did Alec have to ask about Camille?

A soft meowing came from behind the couch and he felt tiny feet padding on his back. He shifted carefully until he was on his back, and Chairman curled up in a ball on top of his chest. They knew each other enough to do the acrobatics of that transfer without either of them falling off the couch. Magnus absentmindedly patted his cat.

He sighed. The drive home and the silence in the room  had given him some time to think. Alec didn’t follow him. Magnus didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. At least he had some space to think, get back to his bearings. To clear his head. Alec was different from his previous relationships. He listened. He cared. And while they haven’t told each other yet, Magnus knew he loved Alec. And he trusted him. He had faith in him. Didn’t he?

The silence in the loft was deafening. And while Magnus thought it had helped in giving him some time to think, it also gave his demons more time to poison his mind.

“Why did I run away, Chairman? Why can’t I tell him about it? About any of it?” He asked. Chairman didn’t answer. This was their relationship. “He’s different, right? He’s not going to leave us like the others did?” Chairman Meow purred, then snuggled even closer to him. Magnus lifted up his cat until they were face to face. “Is it that time then? Time for him to find out who we truly are? He who destroys lives and his cat who doesn’t care. At least you’re a cute cat.” He sighed. Chairman blinked slowly.

“Alright then. Time to show Alec the exit. Stage left. Red pill or blue pill and all.” Chairman meowed again in response. Magnus put him down and held him close to his chest. The cat was more than happy to get comfortable again.

“I trust him.” He whispered into the silence of the living room. Like a hope, a prayer. That Alec would understand.

 

*********

Alec knocked on the door to Magnus’ loft. He had been going there often enough that the residents knew who he was and would buzz him in. All he really needed was Magnus’ key. He gave a slight chuckle at the thought. First, he had to fix whatever fight they were having. And then he can think about exchanging keys later.

It was already late, and he didn’t text to let Magnus know he was dropping in. Maybe because he didn’t know what he would do if Magnus had rejected him. They both needed the time to calm down. But Alec also didn’t want to leave things like that. They had to at least talk about it. And he wasn’t going to wait for the next day.

He took a deep breath and bounced on the balls of his feet as he waited by the door.

Alec didn’t wait long before Magnus opened it. Although to Alec the less than a minute of waiting by the door seemed like forever.

Magnus had already removed his makeup and was wearing his pajamas when he opened the door. He was wearing one of Alec’s hoodies so Alec took that as a good sign.

“Hey.” Alec greeted softly.

“Hey.” Magnus greeted back, one shoulder leaning on the door. He pointed with his thumb to indicate Alec could come in. They didn’t really exchange any words after that.

Alec walked straight to the living room. Magnus following closely behind. His books were sprawled all over the coffee table amongst a sea of colourful pens and notebooks, Magnus’ elegant scribbles on every page. Chairman was sleeping soundly on an open book that had illustrations of the brain on it. To Alec, it looked like chaos. But he knew Magnus had his own system when it came to studying. Alec had always loved that about him. And he sure as hell wanted to see more of those quirks.

Alec didn’t like the silence. It had never been this awkward before. Not with Magnus. And he didn’t know where to start. He didn’t want Magnus to run away again. Or make him leave. But Alec had to start somewhere. So he decided to begin with something he knew was easiest to fix. Or at least he hoped was the easiest to fix.

“Okay, hear me out.” Alec said turning around to face Magnus who had stopped in the middle of the living room, not two steps away from Alec. “I will clarify something. I’m not saying it to get you to open up. I just want you to know about it. You don’t need to share about Camille or whatever, if you don’t want to, if you’re not ready.” Alec said carefully. “But I will say something, and I hope you’ll listen.”  He waited for Magnus to respond.

Everything seemed to be moving so slow. Time was moving at a glacial pace. And it felt like hours before Magnus responded.

Magnus gave a small nod to let him continue.

“Look. What happened with Sebastian…” Alec started, and paused when Magnus’ brows knit. When Magnus didn’t say anything, Alec continued.  “First, I dated this boy in my class. His name was Raj. We dated in secret because we both weren’t out.”

Alec had decided if he was going to tell Magnus about Sebastian and high school, he might as well tell him everything. He told Magnus he didn’t have to share if he wasn’t ready, but there was a tiny bit in Alec that hoped that maybe his telling him about his own past would encourage Magnus to trust him enough to open up.  

“We dated for two months. And it was good. It was high school. He was the first boy I kissed.” Alec said, pausing, remembering his past relationship. “Anyway, come Spring Formal, we both thought it was worth it. We were going to come out, tell our parents. I did it first. I told mom and dad. I didn’t tell them that I had a boyfriend at the time. Which was good. Because they didn’t react to it very well.” Alec said, wincing. That memory wasn’t particularly pleasant.

“And it scared Raj, and he couldn’t do it. Because his parents were conservative and he was afraid that they might disown him. Unlike my parents who after their initial outburst decided to just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen.” Alec said, annoyance and sarcasm in his tone. “So Raj backed out. Our relationship was never the same from then. And we broke up.”

He shrugged again. “And then, my parents had a change of mind. They heard from Dr Morgenstern that Sebastian liked me. And the Morgensterns were good business, old rich family and all.” Alec waved his hand dismissively. “And plus, he’s their old friend. They already knew him.” He shook his head, rolling his eyes.

“So they set me up with Sebastian. I went to the Spring Formal with him. And another date after that.” He looked at Magnus, like he was scared of how Magnus was going to react. “That was it. That was all. Although mom did try to get us to hang out. No matter what my mother said, it’s not true. Sebastian was never my boyfriend. She liked to believe there was something more even if there wasn’t.  I was never serious with him.” He took a step closer to Magnus, slowly, cautiously, as if Magnus was going to run away if Alec approached him too fast.

“I never felt anything for him. Never have and never will. Don’t believe my mother. So please don’t be jealous of him.” Alec pleaded again, finally closing the gap and taking both Magnus’ hands to his.

Magnus looked to the side, biting the inside of his lip. He shrugged. “I couldn't help it.” He said, his voice barely audible. “I didn’t like the way he smiled at you. And he was too touchy.”

Alec tried to hide his grin but failed. He had missed that familiar banter with his boyfriend.

Magnus frowned when he saw Alec grinning. “Oh that's amusing you now, is it?” Magnus asked annoyed and pushed Alec’s hands off his.

Alec managed to grab Magnus’ hands again and pulled him closer then wrapped both arms around him. “Okay. I’m sorry you getting jealous made me smile. You’re being possessive. Kind of hot if you ask me.” Alec said, still grinning widely. Magnus still pouted, brows creased. “You know I’m yours, right? I’m your boyfriend. And you are mine.” Alec added sweetly, batting his eyes.

Magnus pulled his lip to one side then just shrugged. Alec knew he was pretending to be unconvinced. It wasn’t that Magnus didn’t believe him. But at the moment, Alec knew he needed, wanted Alec to console him. He wanted that reassurance that Alec was focused on him. It was immature, but Alec found it cute.

Magnus rested his forehead against Alec’s. “Will you please stop being perfect? You’re not supposed to be this perfect.” He said, chuckling as he looked into those hazel eyes. “There’s no such thing.”

“I’m not perfect.” Alec said. “But for you, I will try to be.”

“Damn it, Lightwood!” Magnus exclaimed and pulled him in for a soft kiss. Alec felt like they hadn’t kissed in years. The kiss was brief but it was everything. And the heavy feeling that had settled itself in his stomach, finally untwisted and he felt relieved.

“Are we okay now?” Alec asked after they parted.

Magnus shook his head. Alec’s stomach twisted again.

 

**********

It was already dark outside. Magnus didn’t know how long he lay on the couch. He envied Chairman for falling asleep even while Magnus was undergoing such turmoil. He took his phone out of his pocket. There was still no message from Alec. Magnus scrolled through his contacts and looked at Alec’s number. He could call. But then what was he going to say? He didn’t want to talk to Alec about this over the phone. Besides, Magnus wasn’t sure if he was calm enough to talk.

He sighed and slowly sat up, careful not to wake up his cat. He really didn’t want to think about it anymore. At least not for tonight. First he decided to get ready for bed. But when he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway, he got his books out. He might as well study for his final exams. He thought about calling Catarina or Ragnor. But he knew they were just going to give him the same lecture about him running away from his relationships at the first sign of trouble. He knew that. He really did't need to hear it from other people. Tomorrow, maybe. He could hear it from them tomorrow. For that night, he buried his nose in his studies.

It was close to ten o’clock when the doorbell rang. He didn’t even need to check. He knew who it was. Magnus took a deep breath and opened the door. And true enough, there he was. Alec Lightwood. They exchanged a few words. And then there was awkward silence. Mainly because Magnus didn’t know what to say. And if he did, he didn’t really fully trust what was going to come out of his mouth. So he stood there and listened as Alec told him about his past relationships. About Sebastian.

It made Magnus’ heart flutter. It had started out with an awkward silence but once Alec had started talking, all that awkwardness faded away. Alec still looked at him the same way and still acted the same way.

“Are we okay now?”

Were they okay? Were they alright? Alec had clarified things about Sebastian. But that wasn’t really the issue. The ball was in Magnus’ court so to speak. And while Alec told him that he didn’t have to share his story if he wasn’t ready, Magnus felt that he had to do something. They couldn’t just brush this off under the rug. Magnus can’t pretend that they were ‘okay’ because they weren’t.

No matter how understanding and patient Alec was, Magnus knew he was hurting him by not saying anything. He cared for Alec too much now to do that to him. It wasn’t fair to treat Alec that way.

Magnus shook his head. No. they weren’t okay. He had made his decision. This was it. He had to put an end to this.

He took Alec’s hand and led him to the couch. Alec didn’t say anything but Magnus could see Alec was holding his breath. His hands were cold and he held tight on Magnus’ hand.

Chapter Text

Magnus had been very quiet for most of the drive from Staten Island and there was no denying he was visibly upset when he got in the car. Simon, Clary, Luke and Jocelyn exchanged looks for most of the ride each of them trying to find the best way to open the subject. His sadness was palpable, so Luke and Clary even tried to bring up some light, fun topics for conversation. Magnus did not engage. He just stared out the window the whole drive to Brooklyn.

Simon, who was sitting further away from Magnus in the backseat, exchanged messages with Izzy to get a rundown of what went on. And Izzy had confirmed it, Magnus and Alec had a fight. And it seemed to have been a big fight at that. Although she didn’t give much detail as she herself was still trying to get it out of her brother. From how Magnus looked and based on the information Izzy managed to extract from her older brother, this wasn’t a mere petty fight. This involved a disapproving mother, quite possibly something from Magnus’ past and Alec’s apparent ex whom said mother approve of has come into the picture.

It was no secret among Magnus’ circle of friends that the man tended to run away - or worse, end relationships - at the first sign of trouble. He had been through a lot of heartbreak and he built walls around his heart to protect himself. This particular situation had all the ingredients to make Magnus run away (figuratively and literally) and ending things to save himself from further pain. He had already done the running away part.

If Magnus was ranting, Simon, Luke, Jocelyn and Clary would have been able to handle it. They would not have been worried at all. But Magnus was eerily silent. This situation was dire, and they needed their best agents (Simon had thought them to be on a mission) to address the situation.

Simon quickly (and as discreetly as possible) sent the text messages while Clary distracted Magnus with a hug as soon as Luke pulled up the street to Magnus’ loft.

<To: Catarina>
Red alert! Defcon 5!!!

<To: Catarina>
I mean, Defcon 1!!!

<To: Catarina>
Whichever is the worst! Red alert! Code black! I think we have a code black!

*******
Catarina groaned when her phone made a sound signalling she had received several messages. She had just ended her shift at the hospital - specifically a very busy emergency department where they had an all hands on deck situation. Earlier that morning, she had thought it was going to be relatively easy at work. It was a Sunday, which meant ED was going to be quiet. It was a breeze. She was counting down with less than an hour to go to the end of her shift. And then some idiots decided to have a brawl in a bar - on a Sunday, while watching a football game that wasn’t even live. It had then become an all hands on deck situation for all ED doctors and nurses. And Catarina found herself staying longer than planned.

Eyes closed and with her forehead still resting on the door of her locker, she stuck her hand into her bag and fiddled around for her phone. Her message tone beeped again. Effortfully pushing herself off the cold metal door, she rummaged through her purse and finally managed to pull out her phone. She was sure they were messages from Magnus probably gushing about his time at the party and his no doubt wonderful weekend with his “dear Alexander.”

Her friend was (sickeningly) in love - even if he doesn’t know it or won’t admit it yet. She knew Magnus would deny it or won’t say it out loud even if he did know. It was a way of protecting himself from the potential pain of heartbreak. Which was ridiculous, of course, especially in this case. Catarina could see how much Alec loved Magnus. Even if he, for one reason or another hasn’t said it yet either or even know about it. She concluded that Magnus and Alec were both idiots.

Her brows creased when she realised all messages were from Simon. At the back of her mind she took a mental note to remind that kid needs to tone down the energy a notch. She will take Magnus gushing over his wonderful angel of a boyfriend any day over Simon’s incessant talking. No, scratch that. She will take neither.

She slid her thumb over the screen, entered her passcode, and read the messages. The moment her eyes landed on the words “defcon” and “code”, her eyes grew wide as adrenaline rushed through her body giving her a new bout of energy. She quickly called him.

“Talk.” She instructed, she could be very commanding when needed. This was the time where she found Simon’s chattering very useful. He had given her a rundown of what he knew about Alec and Magnus having a fight, that Mrs Lightwood was scary and quite possibly made Simon incontinent with just side eye and that she had not liked Magnus, and about Alec’s ex. She disregarded that last one. She knew Magnus could handle exes.

And then Simon told him about Magnus being very quiet in the car ride home. The fight was definitely not about the ex. It was probably the ‘mother’ situation that had him spooked.

“Cat, I think they broke up. Or are about to.” Catarina could hear the worry in his voice.

“No, Simon. Don’t think that.” She shook her head even if Simon couldn’t see. “I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding.” She was telling him more to convince herself. Magnus was happy with Alec. He was finally opening up again. She knew how devastated he would be if his relationship with Alec ended.

“He was very quiet and he wanted to be left alone. And he didn’t cry. He said goodbye to us like nothing happened. It’s creepy.” Simon added.

“You left him alone?” She exclaimed, her phone tucked between her shoulder and her ear as she quickly zipped up her jacket whilst walking to the elevator. Simon rattled on the other line saying Magnus had told them he wanted to be alone and just rest. “Of course, he said that.” Catarina acknowledged. “I’ll go check on him. I’ll make up some kind of excuse to go to his place. Thanks, Simon.”

She ended the call even before he could completely say goodbye. Then dialled Ragnor’s number. “Get off your ass. Magnus needs us.” She said walking out of the elevator and practically sprinting to the exit and towards the train station.

“Ragnor, I don’t care if you’ve just gotten comfortable on the couch, which I would like to remind you is MY couch since you’re in MY house.” She rolled her eyes as he complained at the other end of the line.

“Listen. He met Alec’s mother, had a fight with Alec, and now he is eerily quiet. You know what that means.” She said, walking faster and running down the stairs to the turnstiles. “You know what to do. I’ll meet you at his place. I’m at the train station. Leave now, Ragnor.” She commanded before hanging up.

She took in a deep breath and let out a loud sigh, watching the train approach. She went through what Simon told her again. Catarina didn’t know much about Maryse Lightwood. Although Magnus had mentioned to her about Alec’s not-so-great relationship with his parents. She had wondered what it was that Magnus and Alec had fought about. She knew it was serious, otherwise, she would have gotten a call or voicemail from Magnus the moment he had left Alec. But there was none of that. Magnus didn’t contact her. Which meant, whatever the cause of the fight was, it had something to do with Magnu’ past. She knew it in her gut. She didn’t like that unpleasant feeling in her stomach.

All of their reactions may seem a bit over the top for those who do not know. But from experience, Catarina knew there was a very small window of opportunity to talk Magnus out of the possibility of breaking things with Alec especially if her theory was right. She didn’t particularly want to think that way given that she had very little information about the situation. But knowing her good friend, he tended to make stupid decisions when it came to matters of the heart. And for days, she knew he will pretend to be alright, when reality would be far from it. Magnus would bury his pain and hollowness inside. And that was a more dangerous thing.

Catarina had liked Alec for Magnus. He was shy and wasn’t as outgoing or loud as the Magnus’ past relationships. But he had this quality about him that made Magnus just light up, like her had woken something inside her friend. It was some kind of spark that she had never seen in Magnus. She only hoped that Magnus could see it, too. Before Alec, it had taken Magnus a long time to get back into dating, not to mention be in a relationship. She wasn’t sure what it will do to her friend if this ended.

She sat on the seat nearest the door and took her phone out dialling Magnus’ number. It went straight to voicemail. That was not a good sign.

*******
There was that awkward silence again as Magnus thought about how to start. His eyes focused on their joined hands. He held his breath, too. His chest was tight. His throat was dry and he couldn’t form any words. He could hear his heart thumping and he fought hard to calm himself down. He didn’t think he was going to have this talk with Alec tonight. Hoped he’d had more time.

But Alec was here now. He’d come to explain about Raj, about Sebastian, about his mother. All to smooth things out with Magnus, so that Magnus wouldn’t worry. He had taken all of it in, and for a while they had even fallen into their usual banter. He couldn’t stop himself from giving Alec a kiss. Why was Alec so perfect? Too perfect really despite his denial. Magnus didn’t deserve someone like him. Much as he didn’t want to admit it, Maryse Lightwood was right. Alec deserved someone better than Magnus. Someone who didn’t have such a tainted past. No matter how much he runs, Magnus will never escape it. And he had no one but himself to blame.

Magnus opened his mouth.

“No.” Alec said before Magnus even uttered a word. Magnus closed his mouth, blinking as he looked at Alec who was looking at him. There was fear in his eyes. Alec shook his head. “If you’re going to say what I think you’re going to say, then no. We’re not-” Alec bit his lip. His breathing had become heavier and his voice cracked. He closed his mouth and swallowed.

Magnus watched as Alec shook his head again. He saw Alec’s eyes water like he was stopping himself from crying. Alec pursed his lips instead.

Magnus tried to pull his hand away but Alec’s grip on his hand tightened. So Magnus stopped.

“Alec, you need to listen to me.” Magnus said, surprised that he was able to keep his voice steady. He put his other hand on top of Alec’s, clasping his boyfriend’s hand between his. Boyfriend. After tonight, he may not be able to call Alec that. But this had to be done.

He looked at Alec again, closer this time. Alec tried to talk but his lower lip quivered so he bit down on it so hard Magnus was afraid he would draw blood.

Magnus saw Alec nod slightly. Magnus took it as a sign that Alec was at least willing to listen to what he had to say.

“Tell me why?” Alec finally said.

“Why what?” Magnus asked, perhaps to clarify. Or perhaps to delay things.

Alec bit his lip again. “Why did you say we’re not okay? Why are we not okay?” Alec finally asked, eyes boring into Magnus.

“Alec, we’re not okay because-” Magnus paused when he saw Alec close his eyes as if preparing himself for the worst. He took in a breath and shifted, choosing to look away from Alec as if that would somehow make talking easier.

“I barely tell you anything about me, about my past.” He didn’t need to see it to know that Alec was already shaking his head and about to speak in protest. “You need to know.” Magnus said, voice firmer, turning his head to face Alec head on. “You need to know so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. So that you can make the right decision when you need to.” Magnus swallowed, realising he said the last few words a little louder than he meant to when Alec tried to interrupt him.

“Magnus, I already told you. When we got together.” Alec argued again. “I don’t care about your past. It’s done. It’s not who you are now. It’s not going to make me want to break up with you.”

Magnus shook his head. He knew what he said. He told Alec that he had baggage. Everyone did. But at the time, Magnus had thought, even hoped that maybe it wouldn’t come up. He was happy then, ecstatic and excited about the new relationship. Alec had been, is perfect. And perhaps that blinded Magnus. If he only showed Alec the good side of his life, it would be okay. That’s what Magnus thought, hoped. Alec need never know about his true past.

Magnus had never thought the one relationship he had wanted to bury would ever resurface. There weren’t many people who knew what had happened then. That was buried, gone. Or so Magnus thought. And he’s realising now that it wasn’t fair, not to him, and not to Alec. Especially not to Alec.

“Alec, listen-” Magnus tried again.

“Your past doesn’t matter. I care about the you now. I-”

“Even if I always end up destroying the lives of the people I care about? Even if I killed someone?” Magnus shouted, feeling his anger and frustration at the situation boiling up inside him. But most of all, he felt fear of what’s to come once he uttered the words, once he leaves everything out in the open. He took in deep breaths as he looked deep into Alec’s hazel eyes. “Even if I’m a murderer, you’re not going to care?” His voice broke.

Alec let out a huff, shaking his head. “Magnus, you’re not-”

“I am!” Magnus shouted, frustrated once again. Why was Alec pushing? “I did.” He said softly. “I may as well have.” Magnus swallowed hard, his voice quivering, shaking his head slightly. “You're better off without me.” He said with finality, letting go of Alec’s hand and standing up. He couldn’t make eye contact with Alec this time. He walked towards the double doors going out to the balcony, his arms wrapped around himself, like he was physically shielding himself from the pain.

He looked out into the city, watching the night lights flicker in the distance. The traffic had quieted down as people went to sleep.

Alec walked towards him and stood by his side. There was a gap between them. Not enough to fit another person in, just a half side step and their arms would be touching. They were standing close but it wasn’t close enough. To Magnus the gap was too huge. They might as well have been miles apart. He wanted to feel Alec near him and he couldn't. There’s already that distance between them from just a few words - Magnus’ words. And that hurt like hell.

Magnus felt a painful squeeze in his chest. He hadn't felt it in a long time, but it was still all too familiar. He’d felt it every time he was left behind. Thoughts swirled through his head, but he kept his outside appearance calm. He had already started it. Now he only needed to survive it. Brick by brick, he started to put his walls up. Inside, he could feel the numbness slowly spreading.

There was no way Alec was going to let it go without an explanation. This was it.

From the corner of his eye, he saw Alec looking at him, probably waiting for him to continue. He didn’t want to know what kind of expression was on his face, so Magnus kept his gaze out into the city. Focusing on everything yet nothing at all.

“Magnus, talk to me. What did you mean?” Alec said softly. His voice was calm and gentle, which made it all the more difficult for Magnus.

“His name was Rolf Scott. He was my friend, even if he stole who I thought then was the love of my life.” Magnus spoke. He chanced a glance at Alec whose brows were creased, eyes focused solely on Magnus and waiting for him to continue. Magnus looked away. He took in a deep breath and slowly let it out.

“Camille Belcourt.” Magnus said, shaking his head. The side of his lips curved up to a bittersweet smile. “She was beautiful. And sweet. The most popular girl in school. Mainly because her dad gave a hefty donation to the board every year.” Magnus found himself letting out a little chuckle. “She had all the workings of a Queen Bee. But she was so different from everyone else in that high school. I wasn’t exactly the most liked when the filthy rich student body found out I was a mere brat from foster care. I became popular though but it wasn’t for the best reasons.” He chuckled again, shaking his head in disbelief. “But Camille. She didn’t care. She actually gave me the time of day. She made me feel important and wanted, not giving a care about the rumours about me. She gave me the attention I never received from anyone. It was different.”

Magnus clenched his fists, lightly tapping his knuckles on the ledge as he reminisced both happy - yes, there were some of those - and painful memories.

“It’s funny because everyone in the school thought she was this sweet, delicate flower. But she was so feisty. We had a volatile relationship, at best, but it worked. We would fight like cats and dogs and make out the next. She knew exactly how to push my buttons and you could guarantee, she would just so she could get a reaction out of me. She’d make me jealous, and threaten to break up with me for whatever reason her brain came up with for the day. Anything to make me prove to her that I loved her. To show her my passion, my desire. And for a time, I was her whole world. Or so she made me think. She was definitely mine.” The right side of Magnus’ lip pulled up as he glanced at Alec again. The crease of Alec’s brow was deeper now - a frown - like he was jealous. Magnus was talking about his ex after all.

Magnus pushed that thought out. Now wasn’t the time. He wasn’t telling Alec about Camille to make him jealous. He was telling Alec because he deserved to know the truth about his past. So that he will know who Magnus truly was. And then Alec will probably see what Maryse did. That Magnus was toxic.

“I would have done anything for her. And she knew it.” Magnus confessed. He took in a deep breath.

“Sometimes, I wish she had never met Rolf. That I never introduced them. Then maybe all those things never would've happened.” Magnus continued biting the inside of his lower lip, and shaking his head. “It was such a random day, I can’t even remember which day it was. We just bumped into Rolf, and that was that. Then he just started hanging out with us a lot more. And then the two of them started spending more time with each other.” He shot Alec a quick glance, quirking his brow to confirm exactly what Alec interpreted from that statement.

“She cheated on you with him.” Alec voiced out, brows creased, and his fist was clenched. Magnus just nodded.

“I didn't know then. Or maybe I just chose to ignore it. I was an idiot.” Magnus let out a half chuckle, half sigh, ignoring what looked like disappointment in Alec’s eyes. He couldn’t bear it. “I believed her when she said there was nothing going on between them. That their relationship was purely business.”

Alec’s brow creased, confused. “Business?”

Magnus bit his lower lip. He had already started telling Alec his story. Where should he stop? When? Does it even matter?

Magnus closed his eyes for a minute before opening them again. He might as well tell Alec all the gritty details. Whatever good Alec saw in him is slowly disappearing, anyway. It would be replaced by more disappointment and disgust. It was inevitable. “Drugs.” He said. “Recreational ones. But still drugs. Camille had a strained relationship with her mom, you see. Said her mom wanted her to be perfect, get into an Ivy League school, take over the family business and all that. Be the perfect daughter.”

“Apparently going behind her mother’s back, and dating the bad boy wasn’t enough. She wanted something more exciting. Then she found out about Rolf’s side business. She convinced me, that she just wanted to try it once. At first it was just out of curiosity. I should have stopped her then. But I didn’t. Because she wanted to do it. And I couldn’t deny her.” He closed his eyes.

When Magnus looked at Alec, the latter looked away. Magnus swallowed, his throat dry. Alec couldn’t even look at him now. He swallowed again, and spoke, trying to keep his voice steady. “I should have known, giving the one you love everything they want isn’t always a good thing. Once became twice, and so on and so forth. And she got hooked. On the drugs. We fought more often, didn’t do what we usually did to make up. Because she would run to Rolf. I guess he made her feel good, in more ways than one.”

Magnus let out a little chuckle. He didn’t know why he did that. Maybe it was a dark, twisted and feeble attempt to lighten the mood. Alec’s brows were still creased, but he still didn’t look at Magnus.

Magnus felt a prickle of tears, clenching his fist to stop them. He told himself to just finish this. “Before going to that school, I was a delinquent. But Jem and Will gave me a second chance to get my life in order. They thought my relationship with Camille was typical teenager puppy love. As long as I kept my grades up and didn’t get into trouble, things were alright. I didn’t tell them I had reconnected with Rolf for obvious reasons. They didn’t like Rolf, more than they didn’t like me dating his older brother.” Magnus waved his hand, to dismiss the comment. He was already talking about an ex, he didn’t need to bring another into the mix. Besides, his relationship with Woolsey was tame compared to this.

“But then Camille’s addiction got to the point where she started to miss classes. So I missed classes to go find her. Jem found out. I got grounded. The only other place I could go to apart from school, was either home or Luke’s and Jocelyn’s if they needed me to babysit Clary and Simon.”

Magnus pursed his lips. “In what was to our last and biggest fight, I broke it off with Camille. For some reason, she begged me not to but I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked away from her that day and went to my babysitting job after school. I ignored all of Camille’s texts and calls.” He hadn’t thought about it until now. Couldn’t understand why Jem and Will still trusted him enough then, to look after to little kids, considering what he had done. It was now he realised, it was probably his saving grace. “Then I got another call from Camille on my way home. I answered to tell her off, but she was crying but she wasn’t making much sense. So the idiot that I was still wanted to see her. Be her knight in shining armour. When I got there, Camille was huddled on the floor in corner, covered in sweat and tears, she was conscious but weak. Rolf was unconscious on the bed, barely a pulse.”

Magnus shut his eyes tight, transported back to those unpleasant memories, as he recounted the events. How he had called the paramedics and Will because he didn’t know what else to do. If only he had come sooner, if he didn’t break up with her, this was his fault. And Rolf wasn’t breathing. “She’d begged me to save Rolf. I was still doing CPR when Will and the paramedics got there. But it was too late. He was gone. I couldn’t save him.” Magnus blinked away the tears he had been holding back. “I can’t save anyone.” He whispered, closing his eyes again, and swallowing past the tightness in his throat.

“At the hospital, we found out Camille hadn’t just almost overdosed. She was also pregnant. Rolf’s, not mine.” Magnus shook his head. “Not that it mattered anyway. She miscarried a few days after that incident. Her parents, her mom, didn’t know about Rolf. They have only ever heard of me before that night. But they already knew. I was the cretin who corrupted their angelic daughter. Got her into sex, drugs, and alcohol. Let’s put death into the mix. It seems to follow me everywhere anyway.” Magnus let out a defeated laugh.

He remembered all the looks of disgust and contempt he had received from the Belcourts that time. Even Camille. She looked at him with so much hate after that. But most of all, what hurt Magnus’ heart more, was the look of disappointment in Jem’s and Will’s eyes when they found out he had hidden things from them. They had trusted him, but he broke that. He should have trusted them enough to tell them what was going on instead of keeping it to himself. Until it was too late.

“Still think I’m wonderful?” Magnus asked Alec, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Alec didn’t say anything. He hasn’t looked at Magnus in a while, not really. And why would he? Magnus was a good-for-nothing who went around pretending things were alright but bringing with him destruction, wherever he went.

Magnus felt his chest tighten, breathing was becoming more difficult the more Alec kept quiet. Probably contemplating how best to break things off with Magnus. He had been through it. Past lovers who had found out about his past. They would all say the same thing.

First, that it was a lot of information to process or some words of sympathy.

“Magnus, I’m sorry you had to go through that.” Alec finally spoke. Magnus closed his eyes.

And then, they would acknowledge that it was an experience that they could ever fathom. It was traumatic after all.

“I can’t even imagine how it must have been for you.” Alec continued. Magnus bit his lip.

And then they would say that it wasn’t Magnus’ fault.

“But Magnus, that wasn’t your fault. You weren’t responsible for Camille’s or Rolf’s actions.” Magnus felt Alec turn to face him. He still kept his eyes closed. He didn’t want to see pity in Alec’s eyes. It’s not what he needed, not how he wanted Alec to look at him. “You shouldn’t blame yourself for what happened.”

Words. All words that Magnus had heard before. He drowned it out. He knew what was coming. Just get to it already. After these words of reassurance that Magnus was not at fault, Alec, just like the others will still ask for space, to think. Because, no matter what they said about image and reputation not being a big deal, the truth was, it did. Especially for guys like Alec. Ones who are slated to take over an empire.

“Thank you for telling me about what happened.” Magnus didn’t respond. “But why did you tell this to me like you’re expecting me to break up with you?”

Magnus just looked away. “I’m just saying. Your mother was right. With me, my past. I’m not good for you.”

“My mother?” Alec asked shaking his head. “I knew she had something to do with this.” He muttered to himself. “When did she say that? Don’t listen to her.” Alec had his fist clenched, voice pleading. “Magnus, please. Don’t let her get into your head. This is what she does. She manipulates people to make them follow what she wants.”

“Magnus, look at me.” Alec requested. Magnus hesitated, eyes closed once again, delaying it just a little bit more. He steeled himself before opening his eyes, making it a point to look into Alec’s hazel ones. He put his walls up again, telling himself he will not crumble, not show weakness. He was going to be okay.

He shook his head. “It’s true though.” He said, barely a whisper.

“Magnus, I told you before. I stand by what I said.” Alec cupped Magnus’ cheeks, turning his head so he could look at Magnus’ eyes. Magnus kept his eyes shut, as if afraid of whatever it is that he might see in Alec’s. “Whatever happened in your past, it’s in the past. You were young, you made mistakes, but those weren’t your fault. You are still a wonderful, you’re a good person.” Alec continued. Magnus could feel Alec’s thumb rub gently against his cheek as he spoke. “And me knowing about them is not going to make me stop loving you.”

Magnus’ eyes opened wide in shock. “What?”

********
Magnus’ brain buzzed, eyes still wide in disbelief, and his heart pounded. He couldn’t understand what he heard. It didn’t make sense. Did Alec just… Magnus took a step back, brows creased, confused as he shook his head. He heard wrong. He was sure of it. But Alec’s eyes - they were genuine, they were sincere. There was no pity, no disappointment, or disgust.

Alec pursed his lips, a pink tinge on his cheeks. Even now, he was being shy. Magnus shelved that as something to process later. Alec wiped his palms on his jeans, looking away a little before looking back at Magnus again. “That wasn’t exactly how I wanted to say it. But it’s the truth.” He shrugged, his hands in his back pockets now. “I do. Magnus, I love…”

Magnus turned away, walking towards the living room, barely hearing the last word. No, that wasn’t right. He heard it. He just couldn’t believe it. Things never went like this. Never this. He didn’t know what to do. He knew what he felt for Alec. But he never thought about how Alec felt for him. And especially not after what happened in the past 24 hours.

His took deeper breaths, turning around to look at Alec once more. To make sure he didn’t imagine it. Alec stood behind him, waiting patiently for Magnus to say something. The side of Alec’s lip quirked up a little. He could probably tell how shocked and lost Magnus was and was just trying to lighten the mood. Why is he so considerate? Why does he even love Magnus? Is knowing the reason really important right now? Who cares, really? Alec loves him.

“You don’t have to say anything back.” Alec said, after a while of Magnus just staring at him. “I just…” He raised both hands up in surrender. “Well, it’s already out there. And I want you to know I mean every word.” He shook his head. “And whether or not you feel the same way, I’m still hoping you’ll choose to stay with me.”
Alec looked at him with hopeful eyes. Magnus kicked himself mentally. He needs to say something. Alec probably thinks he doesn’t feel the same way. And that wasn’t true. He loved Alec, too. He was completely blindsided by this turn of events, but truly Magnus didn’t mind. He didn’t know what to do but he had to do something. Needed to say something. Words. He needed words. “Alec, I-”

“Magnus, mate.” Magnus heard the front door open and Ragnor’s loud voice from the hallway. “We brought you post-break up Ice Cream and something to make it as Irish as you want. Catarina will-”

His friend never finished that sentence as he ducked to avoid the book that Magnus threw at him as soon as he entered the lounge. The thing hitting the wall and dropping somewhere on the lounge floor.

“What the hell, Magnus?!” Ragnor exclaimed, still face down on the floor, clutching the shopping bag.

Magnus looked at Alec, hoping he didn’t hear what Ragnor had just said, which was completely impossible. Unless Alec had a momentary loss of hearing at that time. He watched Alec walk to pick up one of the pints of ice cream that had rolled towards him when Ragnor fell.

“Oh, Alec is here.” Ragnor commented nervously as he got up and straightened his clothes. He and Magnus exchanged a look. “I did not know that.” He said.

“Alec?” Magnus’ voice was strained. Alec didn’t say anything, his eyes focused on the pint of ice cream, giving it a few tosses. The silence between them was deafening.

“Post-break up ice cream.” Alec closed his eyes, then he looked at Magnus. He looked hurt. Whatever hope Magnus saw there before was gone. “You already made your decision even before I got here.” Alec handed the ice cream back to Ragnor and walked towards the door.

“Alec, no, that’s-”

Alec turned around, one hand up making Magnus stop in his tracks. He shook his head. “Just… enjoy your ice cream. Or something.” He walked out.

********
Catarina walked the last few steps into Magnus’ building, almost out of breath having rushed from the train station. She looked up at the rooftop before she entered. Not that Magnus was going to be suicidal over something like a break up. Besides, she was pretty sure, or at least she had hoped that Ragnor had already gotten there before her. But still, she had to check. Just in case. She took the steps two at a time, and almost bumped into someone when she rounded the last corner to the hallway to Magnus’ loft.

“Alec!” She exclaimed, breathing heavily and wiping the sweat off her brow. “You’re here?” She said, brows creased. This was strange. She had never bumped into any of Magnus’ exes, especially not on the same night after what she was told seemed to have been a huge fight. And as far as she knew, Alec stayed behind at the country club when Magnus left with the others. Something was amiss.

“And now I’m going.” Alec said hurriedly, trying to walk around her, but Catarina put both hands up to block him.

“Wait.” Catarina shouted. “Please wait.” She said, calmer this time. “Just... have you two-”

“Look, Cat. He’s already made his decision, okay? Even before I got here.” He looked about ready to cry but he was keeping it together. “He’s been telling me all night. But I ignored it. Hoping that we could talk about what was bothering him. That I could change his mind. But it was already made. I mean, clearly he’s already told you and Ragnor to bring the ice cream.” Alec said in anger. He pushed past her and started walking? down the stairs.

“Alec, that’s not-” He was gone. Catarina huffed. What in hell just happened?

********
Catarina and Ragnor watched Magnus from the kitchen. Their friend remained seated on the couch, hugging his knees close, since Alec left and Catarina arrived.

“Has he said anything?” Catarina whispered.

“Not since Alec left, no. And from my little booboo.” Ragnor answered. Catarina hit him on the back of the head. He had given her a quick rundown of what happened when he arrived. “Ow! I said, I was sorry.” He whispered, rubbing the back of his head. Catarina glared at him.

“Idiot!” She sniped, then cleared her throat. “Magnus, do you want some tea? Ice cream? Vodka? Tequila?” She went through the list. There was no answer. She glared at Ragnor again. “You fix this.”

“How?” He asked.

“I don’t know. Just-”

“I can hear you two bickering.” Magnus finally spoke from his perch on the couch.

The two sighed in relief then apologised. Teas, alcohol, and bowls of ice cream in hand, both of them walked over to the living room to join Magnus.

********
They all sat on the couch, huddled together, with Magnus sitting between Catarina and Ragnor. Magnus told them about everything that transpired. Up until Catarina arrived.

“He told me he loved me, Cat.” Magnus swirled the small blob of ice cream around his bowl. “I told him about Camille and Rolf, and his response was that he loves me.” Magnus shook his head, still in disbelief. “You should have seen how hurt he looked when he heard what Ragnor said.”

“Yes, that.” Catarina sneered at their other friend, who looked away guiltily. Catarina flicked Ragnor’s ear.

“Ouch! I deserve that.” Ragnor rubbed his ear. “In my defense, I was going for reverse psychology of some sort. And I really wasn’t expecting him to be here. I don’t think any of your exes ever did that.” He pushed Magnus’ spoon with his, scooping up the last blob of ice cream and stuffing it in his mouth.

“Well, no thanks to your impeccable timing and idiotic attempt at reverse psychology, Alec misunderstood.” Catarina lectured. Ragnor rebutted, and the two bickered for a while.

“Nevertheless, Magnus could still have gone after him but didn’t.” Silence. Ragnor and Catarina both looked at Magnus. Why didn’t he?

“Magnus?” Catarina brushed a hair away from Magnus’ face, making him look at her.

Magnus shook his head, lips pulling to the sides. “I wouldn’t have known what to say, what to do? I could have asked him to stay. And then what? He told me he loved me. I don’t know what to do with it?” He looked away, pursing his lips.

Catarina sighed, brushing his hair gently. “I’m no expert. But I think, things like love. You accept it.” Catarina suggested. “You let him love you, and take it all. Because you deserve it. And then maybe, you even tell him you feel the same way.”

Magnus looked up at her, wide-eyed. She smiled back at him. Ragnor did the same when Magnus looked at him. Catarina shook her head when Magnus opened his mouth.

“We know you love him, Magnus. Don’t even try to deny it.” Catarina said.

“I’d say you already loved him even when he was just the shirtless angel running around campus.” Ragnor piped in, grinning.

Magnus blushed, smiling a little. It felt like such a long time ago, when Alec was just a mere crush. When neither of them knew each other. When the Alec in his mind was just a dream. Before he knew how wonderful Alec was, so much more wonderful than he could have ever imagined. Alec had had a crush on him then, too. He had thought Magnus was an enigma, a sight to behold. Magnus’ throat tightened, and he felt pain in his heart. Alec had once thought he was perfect. That Magnus didn’t have such a dark and twisted childhood. If only he could have kept it that way. If only they stayed strangers, only thinking the best of each other. To remain a fantasy. Oh, how many happy endings could Magnus come up with? Ones where they never hurt each other.

“You’re afraid.” Catarina’s voice brought his attention back, and he looked at her. “It’s not that you don’t believe he loves you. Because I think and I know you do despite your initial shock. The reason you’re afraid is because you think that someday he will stop. And you’ll be left behind.”

Magnus swallowed. Catarina had a knack of telling him things he preferred to be buried. She’s learned to read him. Sometimes, she let him figure things out for himself. But other times, like now, she knew he needed to hear it out loud.

“What if he does?” Magnus whispered.

“What if he doesn’t?” She asked back.

“How do you know?” He countered.

“The same way you don’t. No one does.” She retorted. “It’s the risk you’re going to have to take.”

Magnus looked at Ragnor, who could only give him a reassuring look. He leaned his head on Ragnor’s shoulder, the other man kissing his forehead.

“It’s your decision, Magnus.” Ragnor added, rubbing his shoulder for comfort. “But I want to offer my opinion. And this isn’t just me trying to make up for adding to the problem.” Magnus looked up at him. “I really think with this one, he’s worth fighting for. Kick your fears to the curb and take the risk.”

“You don’t have to tell us your decision. It's between you and Alec.” Catarina said, leaning over and kissing Magnus’ forehead. “But just have a real good think about it, with a rational mind.” She added. “For now, I think some sleep would do you good.”

Magnus let his friends tuck him in. He didn’t realise how emotionally (more than physically) exhausted he was until his head hit the pillow and he fell asleep straight away.

*****
“Mr Lightwood, sir.” Francis greeted him as soon as Alec entered the building.

“Francis, I told you to call me, Alec.” He reminded. He was tired having not gotten much sleep since his fight with Magnus. It had only been two days but it already felt like a week and he hasn’t heard anything from Magnus. To be fair, he hasn’t tried to contact Magnus either. And at the moment he had no intention to. Maybe Alec was being petty. But he was hurt. Magnus had clearly decided he wanted out of their relationship even before they talked. Alec couldn’t help but feel betrayed that Magnus didn’t trust him enough to talk through it with him. And there was Alec being all hopeful, even to the point of confessing. Not that it mattered much. Not to Magnus.

“Yes, very well, Alec.” Francis complied. “There’s a gentleman waiting for you in the waiting room. I told him you were still in class but he insisted he will wait. Wanted to talk to you about something important.”

Alec couldn’t help but light up. Could it be, that Magnus finally came to talk to him? The answer to that was, no, as he saw Ragnor standing up from his seat, walking towards Alec and greeting him.

“Not exactly the face you wanted to see.” Ragnor commented. Alec just frowned at him then made his way to the elevators, Ragnor following suit.

The ride up to his unit was quiet and awkward. In all honesty, Alec wanted to punch Ragnor in the face for non-specific reasons. But he stopped himself. He let Ragnor follow him into his apartment. He had a couple of hours before he was needed at the Jade Wolf.

“Nice place.” Ragnor commented, walking around, inspecting the apartment. “The rent must be really high.”

“My parents own it.” Alec crossed his arms and leaned on the kitchen counter. “What do you want, Ragnor?”

“Straight to the point. Right.” Ragnor said, slowly walking towards one of the bar stools by the counter. “May I?” He asked. Alec cocked his head for him to go ahead. Ragnor took his seat.

“I came to apologise about the other night.”

Alec shook his head. “There’s really nothing to apologise for. You didn’t do anything.”

“No, no.” Ragnor chuckled nervously. “There’s… I did do something, and I really want to apologise. And talk.”

“Fine.” Alec uncrossed his arms, giving up. He wasn’t sure what Ragnor was talking about, but the man was already here. And he was still one of Magnus’ closest friends. Alec didn’t want to be rude to him, especially because he didn’t do anything.

“The whole post-break up ice cream thing-” He started. ‘-was an ill-timed, and in hindsight, a really bad attempt at reverse psychology.” He bowed his head. Alec’s felt confused so he waited for Ragnor to explain. “Magnus didn’t even know Cat and I were going to be there that night.” He closed his eyes. “The point being, that ice cream was more comfort food. Simon told Cat you two had a big fight. And that Magnus was quiet. And that usually meant a bad sign, and-”

“You automatically assumed we broke up?” Alec filled in. “That’s comforting.” He muttered sarcastically. “And you weren’t wrong. I mean, he-”

“No. I will stop you right there.” Ragnor, index finger up, stood up from his seat. “We… I jumped the gun there.” He sighed. “Was he expecting you to break up with him? Yes. Probably. Was he planning to break up with you? Maybe. I don’t know.”

“If this is you trying to make me feel better, it’s really not working.” Alec clenched both fists, glaring at the other man.

Ragnor took a step away from him. Not that Alec couldn’t jump over the counter and punch him in the face. “My point being,” Ragnor continued. “Had I not been there with my ill-timed remark, he may have had a different response for you.”

Alec relaxed slightly, brows still creased. “He told you.” Ragnor nodded.

“He didn’t say exactly what his response would be. Although, I am definitely sure it would have made you happy.” He muttered to himself. “But you know, he told me and Cat about what happened and what you said before I arrived.” He flashed Alec a smile.

Alec was still dubious, the pain was still fresh. “So why didn’t he come after me? I haven’t heard from him at all.”

Ragnor, visibly relaxed, sat back down on the stool. “Because, first and foremost, my friend is an idiot.” He said then sighed. “But mostly, it’s because of fear.”

“Fear?” Alec queried. “Of what? What is he afraid of?”

“Abandonment. Getting left behind. It seems to be a cruel theme in his life.” Ragnor iterated. “There’s many a layer to Magnus. Many unpleasant memories and experiences that made him build up a lot of walls. Camille and Rolf, they were just one layer among many. Apart from his guilt and him blaming himself for what happened to those two, long before that, the other side of it is that he felt abandoned.”

“She left him for Rolf.” Alec commented.

Ragnor nodded. “That and then he couldn’t save Rolf, whom he still considered a friend despite the cheating.”

He looked at Alec. “Those weren’t the only times he had lost people he cared about. I mean, obviously it started when he lost his parents. Has Magnus told you about his parents?” Alec shook his head. “Of course, not. Silly question.” Ragnor sighed. “Anyway, I won’t tell you. He’s very protective of that story. So if you want to know, ask him. That is, if you still want to be a part of his life. Because being with him will involve breaking down all those walls of fear and insecurity.”

Alec nodded.


“Magnus has it in his head that he is somehow cursed, or is toxic.” Ragnor reached for a mandarin on the fruit bowl in front of him and started peeling. Alec knew he should have at least felt slightly offended that Ragnor didn’t even ask permission, but a mandarin was the least of his worries right now.

“What do you mean?” Alec asked, filling the kettle with water and boiling it. He might as well give his unexpected guest a hot drink. It didn’t look like Ragnor had any plans to leave just yet.

“Now I need to be clear that these are just what I pieced together from his story as told by everyone else.” Ragnor said, popping a piece of mandarin in his mouth. Alec nodded. “Growing up in the foster system wasn’t easy for him. After he lost his parents, in the first year, he was moved to four different houses. I can only imagine how incredibly unsettling it would have been for a young child. Nowhere was home and no one was family.” He paused. “That perhaps explains why he wasn’t the most well-behaved foster child. To put it lightly from what I heard. He was a troublemaker and a delinquent especially when he became a teenager. Perhaps, it was his way of acting out. To get attention. Or maybe to deal with the fact that he had no one.”

The kettle dinged and Alec made coffee for himself and tea for Ragnor, who continued with his story.

“It wasn’t until he was moved to Brooklyn, in the Carstairs house that he had some sort of stability. He found an older brother in Jem and by default,Will, because apparently those two were inseparable most of the time, and an older sister in Tessa. Although, the three, I think were overseas at the beginning, finishing their studies, only visiting on holidays. For a year, he stayed with them and it was wonderful. He was well-behaved. And finally, maybe he felt like he had some kind of family again. Somewhat. He still had to watch the other kids in there with him, go back to their parents or guardians or relatives, or get adopted, or find new parents. Except for him.”

“Nobody wanted him.” Alec felt a pang of pain in his heart as he said it. He can’t even imagine what Magnus would have felt at the time.

Ragnor tapped the tip of his nose twice, to agree with Alec. “I’m sure Mr and Mrs Carstairs assured him that they loved him like their own. Or at least that’s what Jem said. But it probably wasn’t the same.”

Ragnor sighed. “And then came the car crash. Jem’s parents perished. And he was left alone again. Jem was still overseas then and it took a while… a long while for him to get the foster house back.”

Alec closed his eyes. Images of a young Magnus flashed before him, and it broke his heart. When he looked at Ragnor, he looked just as heartbroken.

“The foster system is messed up, but somehow gossip still spread like wildfire. Magnus was somehow dubbed the ‘demon child of Brooklyn’ - killing his parents and foster parents. Yada yada yada. Kids can be very cruel. By the time Jem got him back, he was already rebellious, and angry, very angry. He acted out a lot. Worse than before. Refusing to get attached or asked for help. He was a mess. At some point, Cat told me Jem was saving up for bail money instead of college money for our dear Magnus.”

Ragnor downed the still warm tea. “Anyway, I seem to have stayed longer than I had planned, and told you more than I probably should have. The point of my visit is to apologise. And to beg you, implore you to please not give up so easily on my friend.” His eyes were sincere, looking at Alec with determination.

“I won’t force you to stay with him. Or at least not explicitly. If after what he has told you, and what I have told you, makes you realise that you can’t handle it. Then end it. His past is his past, and it is not him, not anymore. But it is a part of him. It has been taken against him. And it will continue to do so. If on the off-chance that you still feel the same way, about him, about your relationship, then let him know. But stay for the right reasons. And not just out of pity or sympathy.” Ragnor stood up. “Lovely cup of tea, by the way.” He quipped, tipping the empty cup up to toast Alec.

Alec sat on the couch after Ragnor left. He looked at Magnus’ coat, still draped over the back of the couch as he had left it the last time he was there. Alec had a decision to make. Just as Magnus did. A reminder on his phone rang, telling him it was time to get ready for work. He stood up and went to prepare.

*****
Alec thought about what Ragnor told him as he drove to work. It had become apparent to him that he had done the one thing that Magnus truly feared. He left. Yes, he was hurt, still hurting, over what happened, over what turns out was a misunderstanding. But he couldn’t help but feel that he messed up his chances of fixing things with Magnus a bit more by leaving. And now he didn’t know what to do.

His shift at the Jade Wolf had been busy. There was some kind of event in the city, and it seemed to have brought a lot of tourists around. So even if it was the middle of the week, the restaurant was packed. Not that Alec was complaining. The busy kitchen kept his mind from drifting to Magnus and what his, their, next step would be. It was a reprieve that he didn’t know or think that he needed.

Working in a kitchen always helped calm him down. The work tonight certainly cleared his head, relaxed him even. If he wasn’t working at the Jade Wolf, he probably would have been cooking in his own kitchen.

Alaric was the last of the kitchen staff to leave. Alec wasn’t meant to be on the closing but he had decided to stay. He had a few recipes he wanted to try.

He had been washing the last of the pots he used when the back door opened, and in came Luke, car keys in hand.

“Alec.” He greeted, surprised. “I didn’t think anyone would still be here.” Luke’s attention was caught by the food cooling on the countertop. “You’ve been busy.”

Alec dried his hands on his apron. “Um, Alaric said it was okay.” He said nervously. “I used mostly leftovers from prep.”

Luke shook his head and waved his hand. “It’s alright.” He said. “May I?” He pointed to the food.

“Please do.” Alec said, grabbing one of the forks he had just washed and handed it to Luke. “It’s kind of a deconstructed pork bun, taco-style thing.” He stammered. He really hadn’t thought about what to call it. He just experimented. Luke looked at him with a raised brow. “You put the pork, and the crushed crackling, and lettuce, and the peanuts and pickles in the taco bun.” Alec explained, getting more nervous. He felt like he was in a cooking show being judged.

The older man didn’t say anything. He just smelled the food first then did as Alec instructed. Alec was sure he didn’t breathe as he watched Luke eat what he just cooked. It was nerve-wracking.

“That’s pretty good.” Luke finally said after he swallowed the first bite. “Maybe better if the pork was a bit more tender. And really well-marinated.”

Alec nodded. “I didn’t have much time but, um, yes.” He nodded.

“You do this a lot? Make new recipes?” Luke queried.

Alec shrugged. “I dabble. Experiment.” He admitted. He did it more as a hobby. It was either cooking or baking. Or when he needed to think. Or if he was stressed. And right now he was both. Not that he was going to tell his boss that.

“You have any more ideas like this?” Luke asked, eating a bit more of the food.

“I have a few.” Alec answered honestly.

Luke nodded. “Well, I like what I tasted tonight but maybe work on it a bit more.” Luke suggested. “Alaric and I are looking into adding more stuff on the menu.” He said, stuffing the last bit of the food into his mouth. “Maybe we’ll add one of your creations.”

Alec’s mouth dropped. Whatever breath he thought he got back, was once again taken. “Wow!” It was all he could say. “That is… That would be great. Thank you for the opportunity.” Alec struggled to find words and he fought hard to keep himself calm.

Luke smiled. “I know you’re under a lot of pressure right now. With your… exams coming up and all.” Alec didn’t miss how Luke paused mid-sentence. Sure enough, college exams were in two weeks, but Alec knew it wasn’t just what Luke meant. The man was in Magnus’ circle of friends. Alec had no doubt he knew what had happened between him and Magnus.

“We’ll talk then. I’ll tell Alaric.” Luke said, standing up and picking up his keys from the counter.

Alec ended up nodding more vigorously than he intended.

“And Alec,” Luke said, stopping just by the door. “The studying.” He emphasised. “Don’t leave it for too long. You might end up losing something important that you don’t intend to lose. You don’t want to have regrets. I learned that the hard way. When I let Jocelyn go.”

Alec bowed slightly in acknowledgement and understanding. Luke smiled at him before leaving. Alec reached for his phone from his back pocket and unlocked it.

He stared at the screen for a while, tapping on it as he thought about what to type.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
I’m sorry for walking away. Can we talk?

His thumb hovered over the send button for a few seconds. Even thought about calling. He looked at the time again. It was already late. If Magnus wasn’t asleep already, he’d be studying. Either way, Alec didn’t want to disturb him with a call. Besides which, he wasn’t sure if Magnus was going to answer. He didn’t know how he would feel if that happened. At least if Magnus didn’t reply to his text, Alec can just convince himself that Magnus was already asleep or was focusing on studying. Any reason that would explain any delay in Magnus’ reply.

Alec pressed send.

*******
Magnus heard the sweet familiar sound of a violin as he walked towards the Carstairs house. He always felt a strange mixture of feelings whenever he went there. He had called it ‘home’ during his childhood since Jem’s parents took him in, and he called it that until he left when he turned eighteen and started working. But it never felt exactly like home. Nothing ever did. Not even the apartment that he and his parents lived in when they moved to America. And he could barely remember the house he lived in in Indonesia. And when he was troubled, or had a lot of things in his mind, he sometimes came here. It didn’t really give him peace. But he had nowhere else to go. Nowhere else was home, really. Maybe his loft. But even there got suffocating at times. This was the closest one.

He pressed the doorbell. The violin playing stopped, and soon enough Jem came to the door to greet him. They didn’t talk much, apart from the usual greetings. Somehow, Jem always knew when Magnus was in a chatting mood. And when he wasn’t. Today his mood was the latter.

He still hasn’t contacted Alec back. He still didn’t know what to say. Didn’t know if he could accept Alec’s love and face his fear that someday Alec might not love him anymore. Magnus grew up building walls to protect himself. Was he really willing to take the risk for Alec?

Even after his talk with Catarina and Ragnor, he still didn’t know. So he ended up back in his old foster house.

He helped Jem with some housework, and read stories to the younger kids before their nap time. He and Jem talked about medical school, and how Will and Tessa were doing. They talked almost about everything, except the one that was troubling Magnus’ mind.

“Imogen told me she met Alec. Said he was wonderful. And that I should meet him.” Jem finally opened the topic while they were having a cup of tea in the porch. Magnus just nodded, pursing his lips.

“How’s that going?” Jem asked.

Magnus sighed, staring out at the garden. “I… I may have messed it up.” He said, shaking his head then looking down. He told Jem about what happened at the party, his talk with Alec, what Alec said about loving him.

“And have you talked to him yet?” Jem asked. Magnus shook his head.

“I don’t know where to start.” Magnus said.

“Start with a ‘hello.” Jem suggested sipping his tea. “Sometimes, things seem complicated when we over think them, when the solution can be as simple as one word. And then you go from there.”

Magnus set his cup down and rubbed the inside of his palm in thought. “His mom - Maryse - she doesn’t like me. And she knows about what happened with Camille.” He relayed.

“Is Maryse in this relationship?” Jem asked, Magnus shook his head. “Then I don’t think she has much say in what goes on between you and Alec. What did Alec say when you told him about Camille and Rolf?”

“That it wasn’t my fault.”

Jem nodded. “And it isn’t. Will and I have been telling you that since it happened. If you hadn’t been there, two lives would have been lost that night. You did what you could.”

Magnus bit his lip once again. His rational mind knew that Jem was right. He didn’t have much control over Camille and Rolf that time. But he still couldn’t help but feel guilty. Or maybe even helpless. Because it was out of his hands, he couldn’t do anything. And that always loomed at the back of his mind. It’s the what ifs that he could have done. The what ifs that he could never do.

And then there was the case of Alec’s feelings for him. His doubt about how long it will last especially now that he knew more about Magnus’ sordid past. What if the more Alec got to know him, the more he'll see that Magnus wasn't someone that deserved his love?

“When Will and Tessa told you how they felt, did you know your relationship with them would last this long?” He asked.

Jem took a deep breath and sat more upright, crossing his legs. “No one ever really knows how long relationships, or feelings, last. By the time you know, it will have already passed. But you just keep living with it, and working on it every day. Relationships need effort. And they can't always be rainbows and butterflies. You will have fights, you will have problems. You can't show your partner just the good things. That's a fantasy. That won't work. You have to show them the ugly sides as well, whether it’s on purpose or not, so the two of you can work through it together.”

Jem looked at Magnus. “You have to trust them enough to continue loving you, blemishes and all. And you keep loving what you love about that person, or in my case, persons. And when that’s not enough, you find new things to love about them. You will find things that you don't like about them, maybe even hate. But you look past those and accept it, and keep loving them anyway.”

“And what if they stop?”

“Then they stop. That’s out of your control.” Jem said bluntly. “I don’t have an answer to that that will make you feel better. I can’t say for sure that they will stop. Neither can I say for sure that they won’t. So it’s up to you, how you want it to go. Can you say honestly say, for sure, right now, that you will love Alec forever?”

“I don’t know.” Magnus said honestly. “But I do want to, to feel this love, or even more for him, just him. For however long I can.”

Jem shrugged. “Then do it.”

Magnus sat in the train on his way home thinking about his conversation with Jem. Which way did he want to go? Should he break up with Alec now and save himself from the possibility of heartbreak in the future? He knew if he did that he would hurt now, but eventually he will get over it. But what if Alec does continue to love him and be with him for the rest of their lives? Then breaking it off would mean Magnus had deprived himself of happiness - happiness he had already had a taste of by being with Alec these past couple of months.

He looked at Alec’s message on his phone, his thumb hovering over the keys thinking about what to reply. No words came. He locked his phone and stuffed it in his pocket.

*********
Alec stuffed his notebook in his bag while Lydia waited for him by the door. He realised it had been useless bringing anything to the class since he didn't take any notes anyway. In fact, he was sure he didn't really listen to anything about the lecture. It wasn’t very good since exams were coming up. Failure really was not an option. Especially not with his parents.

“Can I borrow your notes from the class?” Alec asked as he and Lydia walked out the door.

“Weren't you taking notes? You had your pen in your hand and scribbling.” Lydia said then pursed her lips when Alec didn't respond. “That didn't necessarily mean you were actually writing anything relevant. Let’s revise notes together, shall we?”

Alec nodded a bit embarrassed. He muttered his thanks.

“He still hasn't texted back?” Lydia fell into step with him as they walked out of the room.

Alec rubbed the back of his neck, shaking his head.

Aline and Lydia have managed to pry the story out of him when he got to class earlier that week. It was difficult to hide it when he was quieter than usual and had dark bags under his eyes from lack of sleep. Besides, it was quite obvious for his friends to have not seen Magnus or heard about Magnus from Alec that day.

“I know that maybe Magnus needs time.” Alec bit his lip. “But I don't know how much time. I’m just really worried. What if he decides that he really wants out. That he-” He didn't continue. He didn't want to think or talk about it. Lydia rubbed his back gently to comfort him. She didn't need to say anything for him to know she was reassuring him. He had to stay positive. And trust that Magnus believed his words. That Magnus felt the same way he did, and had faith that their relationship was worth saving, that Alec was truly different from his past relationships. He had to hope that Magnus believed in them enough to face his own fears.

“Then you’ll just have to convince him a bit more.” Lydia gave him a reassuring smile. Alec responded with a curt nod.

“Alec!”

They both looked up to find Sebastian approach them as they exited the building doors. He had a big smile on his face, and he looked at Alec with a flirty gaze. Sebastian’s eyes appeared to be kind but Alec could feel no warmth in them. Sebastian could have been sincere for all he cared. Alec was very miffed at the moment. His ex was the last person he wanted to see.

“Did you just finish class?” Sebastian asked.

“Oh Sebastian, you stalker, we all know you know the answer to that. No need to pretend. You already know Alec’s class schedule by heart.” Lydia retorted through gritted teeth. She and Sebastian have always been at odds whenever they met. It was a mutual dislike for the other of which neither of them kept a secret. Sebastian sneered at her in response before returning his attention back to Alec.

“What are you doing here?” Alec asked, brows creased. He couldn't stop his voice from sounding annoyed. Not that he was trying anyway. He really didn't have time for this. And he had no doubt his mother had sent Sebastian over knowing he and Magnus had had a big fight. She had seen Magnus leave the Country Club upset after their fight. And Alec hadn’t exactly hidden that he was hurting, too. When Maryse actually paid him any attention, she had the ability of gathering all relevant information she needed for whatever scheme she had. She was well-connected after all.

“I had a meeting with the Dean at the Medical School.” Sebastian started to explain as he fell into step with Alec and Lydia. The three of them walking slowly towards the front steps of the building. “You know for when I start next semester and all. The Dean and dad are old friends, I think.” He waved his airily.

Alec and Lydia looked at each other. Both unimpressed with Sebastian’s attempt at false humility.

“Anyway,” Sebastian began. Alec felt a slight tug on the sleeve of his sweater catching his attention. When he looked down, Sebastian’s arm was already hooked around his. “I was just wondering if you wanted to grab a cup of coffee with me. And maybe give me a private tour of the campus afterwards?” Sebastian batted his eyes at him when Alec looked up. “My treat. I promise.”

Before Alec could respond, Lydia abruptly stopped at the top of the steps calling his name to catch his attention. Alec followed her gaze. His heart stopped, and his eyes widened. At the foot of the stairs stood Magnus, his backpack slung on one shoulder and one of his books clutched tightly to his chest.

Magnus looked straight up at them. Alec saw him look at Sebastian whose arm was still around Alec’s, then quickly looked away, his head bowed, and tapping his right heel on the toe of his left shoe.

Alec had no doubt what was going on in Magnus’ mind. Did Sebastian have to choose this day to surprise him with a visit? Just when Magnus has decided to come and see him after a week of silence. Not that any of the past days would have been ideal either. No day was ideal for Sebastian to pay him a visit.

Alec quickly disentangled himself from Sebastian without taking his gaze away from Magnus. He was convinced that if he looked away, Magnus would bolt. He didn't. He stayed and waited even if he didn't look up at Alec again.

“Why? Yes, Sebastian. I would love to give you a tour of the campus and you can buy me late lunch while we’re at it.” Alec heard Lydia say out loud. He heard a yelp afterward, which he assumed was Lydia pulling Sebastian away. Probably in a choke hold. Alec didn’t turn to check.

“Hello.” Magnus said. “Do you have time to talk?” His voice was soft but steady. He still didn’t make eye contact, much to Alec’s chagrin.

Looking at him closer, Magnus looked tired. He was wearing less make-up, and his hair was styled more simple than usual. Even his clothes seemed less colourful. “Have you eaten?” Alec asked, Magnus just shook his head.

“I haven’t either. Let’s go to the cafe.” Alec didn’t mean to be saying it like a command. But there was this palpable awkward silence between them that he disliked, and frankly didn’t know how to deal with. Not even their first date was this uncomfortable.

They at least walked at the same pace. Alec was afraid if he walked too fast, he was going to lose Magnus somewhere along the way. He wanted to reach out and take Magnus’ hand, but the latter had both hands wrapped around his textbooks. Alec wasn’t sure if he did that on purpose or not. It hurt Alec for Magnus to be this distant.

*********
“So I shall go and get your orders for you. And I will be back in a tick.” Aline flashed a smile at Magnus as she took the menus from the two men. She mouthed a ‘Goodluck’ to Alec and discreetly showed him a thumb’s up from behind the menus, before leaving them to talk.

The old cafe he worked in wasn’t busy this time of day. And Aline had seated them in the backmost booth, where they had privacy. Alec had great memories with Magnus in this place. He was hoping after today, it was going to stay that way.

Neither of them spoke for the first few minutes. They just sat across each other at the table without a word. At least not to each other. They both thanked Aline when she brought their drinks. And then it was awkward silence.

Magnus still hasn’t made eye contact with Alec at all. He kept his gaze on his latte, swirling the foam around and messing up the latte art. “Am I too late?” He asked after a while.

At first, Alec was confused. Until he realised what Magnus meant. Sebastian. “Magnus, no.” He said shaking his head. “Sebastian just showed up at my building today. No doubt sent by my mother.” Alec huffed, annoyed. “But I assure you, he’s nothing. There's nothing going on between me and him. I swear.”

Magnus just nodded but didn’t say anything. Alec couldn’t take it anymore and reached across the table taking one of Magnus’ hands.

“Magnus, I -”

“Okay.” Aline arrived two plates in hand. “I have your food.” Alec pulled his hand back to give her space to put the plates down. “And I will completely ignore the fact that I may have interrupted something important. Sorry about that.” Alec glared at her.

Both Magnus and Alec looked at her, each with a raised brow, when she didn’t leave.

“Aline?” Alec shot her a look to make her go away.

She flashed an exaggerated smile at him. If it were any other person, they would have cowered in fear at that sight. But it was Alec, he knew that smile. Aline turned to face Magnus. “Magnus, I know Alec is an idiot. And his mother is evil. I mean, come on. She planned to marry him off to me and Lydia. And then Sebastian.” She gagged, making it clear, she was not a fan of Sebastian either. “But Alec really loves you. He gets all mushy and fluffy when it comes to you. And I like both of you together. So please don’t break up. I will go now. Enjoy your meal.” She said hurriedly, without taking a breath, then left, leaving Alec, red-faced, dumbfounded and speechless. Sometimes, he hated his friends.

“I … really don’t know how to follow that up.” Alec admitted, still trying to figure out exactly where to start. When he looked up though, he was greeted with Magnus looking at him, smiling. Alec smiled back, reaching across the table to take Magnus’ hand in his again.

“I’m sorry for being an idiot.” Magnus twined their fingers together.

“I’m sorry for walking away without waiting for an explanation.” Alec felt the need to apologise for that again. The past week had given him time to think about things. And really, in hindsight, if he didn’t leave that night, then maybe he would have saved them both from days of pain, and doubt. They both probably wouldn’t have lost that much sleep. “Ragnor told me about his efforts at reverse psychology.”

Magnus chuckled. “He owes you for that. You should claim compensation.” He suggested, making Alec laugh.

“But, seriously though.” Magnus continued. “I should have put a little more trust in you.”

“Magnus-”

“I let my fears get the best of me sometimes. A lot of times.” Magnus spoke up. “Previous experience led me to expect the worst. And I was preparing myself for heartbreak. I really thought you were going to break up with me after I told you about Rolf and Camille. And didn't even consider other possibilities.” Magnus looked down and away from Alec. Like he was ashamed of his actions. “It’s not fair on you. I shouldn’t have assumed that you would be like the others.”

Alec stood up and moved to sit beside Magnus, kissing the latter’s forehead when he sat down. Magnus leaned into him, resting his head on Alec’s shoulder. “I can’t promise that I’m not going to think or feel that way if it comes up again. It’s just… how I am., how I have always been.” He looked up at Alec. “But I’ll make it a point to talk it out with you from now on, before making any decisions.

“And I will make it a point to stay, and listen and not walk out.”

Magnus shifted, resting his chin on Alec’s shoulder. “Can I still be your man?”

Alec nodded. “Am I still your man?’ He asked back. Magnus nodded.

The knot that had taken refuge in Alec’s stomach since this whole mess with Magnus began, slowly untwisted and disappeared once Alec had verbal confirmation that they were okay. That they both wanted to put in the effort in this relationship. They still had a lot of things to work through. Probably even things they don’t know about. But at least now they have found common ground on how to deal with their problems. Talking about it was a good step.

Magnus leaned forward, nuzzling the tip of his nose against Alec’s. Alec closed the gap and pressed their lips together. They were quick kisses, but each one lingered a little longer than the one before it. It had felt like years since they last did this. Alec found himself wanting more. He knew they were in public but he didn’t want to stop. He had this urge to make up for all the kisses they didn’t exchange when they were fighting.

The sound of a camera click made them pull apart. Alec finding a grinning Aline by their table, her phone aimed at them. “That’s more like it.” She said.

“Aline, really?” Alec protested, frowning, his face turning red. Magnus, in contrast had a big smile on his face.

“Hey. This is the risk you took when you decided to reconcile here.” Aline typed on her phone, only giving him half of her attention. Alec could only hope that she was sending a message and not posting their pictures on whatever social media platform she was on. “Izzy gave me clear instructions. And Lydia wanted updates in real time. Or at least as fast as I can type and send.” She pressed one last button on her screen then pocketed her phone. “She’s showing you off to Sebastian. Isn't she wonderful? I also told Helen.” She said proudly then left.

Alec groaned burying his face at the crook of Magnus’ neck. “I need to find friends who gossip less.” He complained, voice muffled by Magnus’ shirt. He pulled back. “You know they didn’t used to be like this.” He shared. “Izzy has turned them all into her spies.”

Magnus chuckled again, combing his fingers through Alec’s hair to fix it. “It’s alright, Alexander. They mean well.”

The sides of Alec’s lips twitched into a grin. Magnus had called him by his full name again. Somehow, it sounded better, sweeter, than any other of his terms of endearment. He sat back, more relaxed than ever, forgetting being irate with his friends.

They lingered in the cafe for another hour or two after they finished their food and paid their bill. Aline had finally left them alone and properly until the end of her shift. The flow of customers slowed a bit more until there were only one or two other people apart from them in the establishment.

They sat closer to each other, more than they started off with, Alec’s arm around Magnus’ shoulder, and one of Magnus’ legs practically draped over Alec’s knee.

“I still don’t like Sebastian touching you though.” Magnus complained while twining and untwining their fingers. Their conversation has somehow circled back to Lydia, and her helping them out earlier that day.

“I told you Sebastian means nothing to me.” Alec assured Magnus again. “You have nothing to be jealous about.”

“I know. I trust you.” Magnus admitted. “But it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop disliking him being all over you, blatantly, like right in front of me. Does he have to be all touchy with you when he talks?” Alec grinned. “Stop enjoying this.” Magnus narrowed his eyes at him.

“Sorry.” Alec apologised, not completely sincerely. “I honestly would not mind you staking your claim.” He said cockily.

Magnus rolled his eyes. “Mhm. I’m sure you would enjoy that.” He said, unimpressed and turning away. Alec grinned again.

“What are you up to after this?” Alec asked.

Magnus checked his watch. “I have a long tutoring session that starts in half an hour. Exam preps.” He said, sticking his lower lip out in a pout. “You?”

“I’m on closing shift so I probably won’t finish til late.” Alec had been taking extra shifts at the Jade Wolf since the beginning of the week. Partly because he needed to keep his mind occupied. And partly because he was taking time off during exam week. With him and Magnus on good terms again, Alec had hoped they could make up for lost time. “You can come over after your session if you want. Francis will let you in like usual.” He suggested. They’ve done that before, mostly when Magnus had a class or session that finished late.

Magnus shook his head. “I forgot to leave food out for Chairman and Church this morning. And Mrs V is out-of-town.” Alec pouted. Magnus pouted back. “Tomorrow night. Come stay over.” Magnus suggested.

Alec sighed. “Fine.” He agreed begrudgingly. “May I at least walk with you to the library?” He asked. Not that he needed permission.

“Is my saying ‘no’ going to stop you?” Magnus asked back, brow raised, and an amused smile on his face.

“You were going to say ‘no’?” Alec queried wide-eyed. “But I had thought you wanted to spend more time together.”

Magnus shrugged then stood up. Alec’s mouth dropped. “Is that a yes or a no?” Magnus just grinned at him then pushed past, books in hand. “You’re really not going to answer?” Magnus shrugged again. “Is this revenge for enjoying you being jealous of Sebastian?”

Magnus shot him a look, rolled his eyes, then grinned.

“Magnus.” Alec whined, chasing after his boyfriend as they walked out of the cafe.

**********
Alec clicked the button to send of an email to Lydia and Aline before closing his laptop and placing it on the empty side of the couch. He had just been working on his part of their group project for one of their Marketing subjects. While it wasn't always advisable to be grouped together with friends especially on a project that consisted 40% of their grades, the three of them worked well together, rarely butting heads as to which direction their project should take.

Magnus, meanwhile, has taken over most of the living room floor in Alec's apartment (that was an exaggeration) and all of the coffee table save for the little corner where Alec's feet were resting. Things have gone well between them since their talk, and it was easy for them to go back into their routine alternating spending time with each other at each other's apartments when they could.

Alec watched as Magnus read notes off his study cards, sometimes he’d close his eyes and mouth some words that Alec was sure he wouldn’t understand even if Magnus said them out loud. Alec found a lot of Magnus’ study quirks amusing. But he could also see how much effort, dedication and hard work Magnus puts into his studies. He was definitely a lot more disciplined than Alec, a trait that Alec admires very much.

They have both been sitting in silence for a while now, each focused on their university work. Alec decided it was maybe time for a little break. He got up from the couch, grabbing the two empty mugs sitting on the side table by the couch. Magnus didn’t flinch. There was no disturbing him when he was this focused. It made Alec smile as he walked to the kitchen and filled the kettle with water.

The sound of Magnus’ ringtone broke the otherwise serene atmosphere of the apartment. Alec heard several papers rustle, probably Magnus looking for his phone buried under piles of his notes.

“Ragnor!” Magnus greeted rather unceremoniously. “You’ve sent it?” His voice was a mixture of excitement and nervousness. “Thank you. You are the bestest friend ever.” He said excitedly. “Yes, I love you.”

Alec’s ear twitched hearing Magnus say that. He didn’t really mean to eavesdrop on Magnus’ phone call. But it was an open plan kitchen/living room. It was difficult not to hear the conversation. He knew Magnus meant the “I love you” to Ragnor in a different way since the two have been friends for a long time. It was not the same as when Alec said it, what Alec felt for Magnus. But at the same time he couldn’t help but be reminded that Magnus hasn’t said it back.

Things have been going well. And Alec wasn’t complaining. He was the one who said Magnus didn’t have to say it back. At least not immediately after Alec had said it. But there was a prickle of doubt at the back of his mind. Yes, they were together. And yes, Magnus really liked him, more than liked him as a friend, at least. But what if Magnus didn’t love him back? What will happen later?

“No, you can’t have my boyfriend cook your meals for a week in exchange for this.” Magnus exclaimed, shaking Alec out of his thoughts. “Because he’s not a slave. And he’s his own person.” Alec’s heard Magnus and Ragnor have these negotiations countless times. Whenever either of them does a favour for the other, they make a trade, some realistic, others more outrageous.

“Deal.”Magnus said and hung up, as Alec rounded the couch and handed him his tea.

“Successful negotiation?” Alec asked, taking his seat back on the couch. Magnus snuggled beside him, legs draped over Alec’s thighs, and cup grasped in both hands.

“Very. I said he can have free reign to use my mansion in Monaco for a year.” Magnus said proudly.

“You don’t have a mansion in Monaco.”

“Not yet.” Magnus retorted, grinning. “He asked to throw in use of my yacht, I agreed and that was that.”

Alec nodded in amusement. “You sure that was a fair deal? I mean I could have cooked him a meal for a week. I wouldn’t have minded if it was something he did to help you out.”

Magnus’ mouth dropped. “Alexander!” He exclaimed. “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re far more precious to me than a mansion and a yacht.”

“That you do not yet own.” Alec pointed out.

“That is beside the point.” Magnus rebutted quickly. “Besides,” He combed his fingers gently through Alec’s hair on the back. “You are not and never will be on offer. You’re for me only. Mine, my precious.” He said, imitating Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies.

Alec chuckled, letting Magnus lean in and kiss him on the cheek. Magnus may not have said the ‘L’ word back, not explicitly, but words like those, Alec will take them.

“So what did he do for you anyway?” Alec asked changing the subject.

Magnus reached for his ipad amidst the pile of papers and settled back to his original position. “He made me these scenarios that I can use to study for my practical exams.” He said, flicking through his emails and showing the screen to Alec.

Alec skimmed through them quickly. He understood most of it apart from what was being asked, of course. When he looked over, Magnus was still staring at the screen, brows creased and concentrating on one of the situations.

“You look worried.” Alec commented, making Magnus look up. The latter flashed a smile, but Alec didn’t miss how Magus’ eyes drifted back to the screen, and it was clear the cogs in his brain were moving. No doubt trying to come up with the answers. “Magnus?”

Magnus focused back on him. “I’m not worried. “ He denied. Alec raised a brow.

“Alright, I’m worried.” Magnus admitted, placing his mug on the side table and changing positions, his legs now tucked under him. “It’s a practical exam, so basically I have to integrate everything.” He started explaining. “They give us these case scenarios and we’re supposed to treat it like we would if we were with an actual patient. And I have to do these clinical tests properly, and then come up with a possible treatment plan or some kind of recommendation, or a possible diagnosis.”

“Sounds complicated.” Alec acknowledged.

“Is complicated.” Magnus said, looking at his ipad once again.

“Magnus, you know this. I saw your mid-term grades.” Alec praised.

“Yes, but those were from the theoretical aspect. It’s a lot different when you’re supposed to do certain actions properly on the spot, like say to test a muscle movement or to feel for a bump. And then have to remember all of the other things. And think about what could possibly be wrong.”

“Breathe.” Alec instructed noticing how wound up Magnus was becoming. His boyfriend did as he was told.

“I just really want to do well. Not just because I need good grades.” Magnus sighed.

“Well, then practice on me.” Alec suggested. Magnus’ face lit up.

Alec scrolled through the page. “I can be Patient 69,” He rolled his eyes at Ragnor’s so-called ‘creativity’ with naming the characters. He even included winky faces to emphasise. “Who seems to be having persistent stomach pains and shortness of breath.” Alec read through the details on the screen.

Magnus had already gotten up and waited for Alec to get into character. He rubbed his hands together nervously when Alec put the ipad away.

“Alright. I have to say things properly since they also give me a score for my bedside manner.” Magnus explained.

“I can speak from personal experience, bedside, topside, any side, your manner is excellent.” Alec moved both brows up and down, a mischievous grin on his face.

“Clinical bedside manner.” Magnus said, narrowing his eyes at him, making Alec chuckle. He rarely found himself the one making innuendoes and Magnus on the receiving end. “Now, Mr 69, please lie down on the bed and lift your shirt up.” Magnus instructed with the most professional tone he could muster. Alec followed and lay down on the couch.

“Sir, I will just place my hands on your stomach.” Magnus said.

“Please. I would love for your hands to be all over me.” Alec said flirtily. Magnus crossed his arms across his chest, and glared at him. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I’ll get back into character.” Alec said, clearing his throat.

Magnus waited again until he was ready. He then started firmly but gently pushing the pads and the edge of his three fingers on different parts of Alec’s stomach asking if Alec felt any pain on the areas he pushed into. Alec had to re-read the instructions on the ipad again to answer correctly. Magnus had to stop a few times to double check his notes and that he was doing the assessment properly.

“And you also mentioned feeling a tightness in your chest.” Magnus continued after a while.

“Only because you take my breath away.” Alec flirted again.

“Tightness?” Magnus asked, ignoring Alec’s attempt at mischief.

“In my pants.” Alec answered. Magnus whacked him with a pillow, giving it a little push, smothering his boyfriend with it. Alec continued to laugh, moving his face to the side to avoid the pillow.

“I’m going home.” Magnus said, frowning, clearly unhappy with Alec’s behaviour.

Alec managed to grab Magnus’ hand, pulling him close, while apologising for his childish behaviour.

“This test is at the end of the week. And I really need to pass it.” Magnus told Alec off. “I don’t have time to play around.” He said, quite clearly irate.

“I know. And I’m sorry for horsing around.” Alec apologised again, sitting on the couch and pulling Magnus to him, until Magnus was sitting on his lap. “I’m the one who offered to help. I should take it seriously. I’m sorry.”

Magnus still looked displeased. Alec wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, putting on his best apologetic face. “I really am. Let’s start over. I’ll do it properly this time.”

Magnus continued to frown at him, unconvinced. Alec slowly and carefully lead Magnus to stand up. Then he took his original position, lying on the couch. “No more jokes.” He said seriously. Much as he had fun, seeing the genuinely worried and unhappy look on Magnus’ face, made him feel guilty.

“Promise?” Magnus asked.

“Cross my heart.” Alec said, making a little cross on his chest where his heart would be. “If I crack another joke while we’re doing this, you can have my bow and quiver.”

“You love those.” Magnus pointed out.

“Which shows how sincere I am.” Alec said and he meant it.

“Crack a joke and I’ll sell them on eBay.” Magnus threatened.

“Woah! Let’s not make any hasty decisions now.” Alec said, genuinely sounding worried himself. Magnus meant business.

Finally convinced, Magnus took his place and they started studying again. Alec keeping true to his promise.

*********
Calling the next two weeks ‘hell’ was an understatement. Magnus had at least two exams a day, ones in which he could not afford to fail. And he needed to get at least an A-grade in order to keep his number one status in class, as well as keep his full scholarship. Alec, on the other hand, had mostly big projects and reports to submit for his classes, and a few written exams. Both of them somehow made things work, studying together when they can so they actually spent time together.

Besides, Alec was sure Magnus would practically live in the library if he didn’t drag him out of there to his apartment or to the loft to get actual sleep, and eat some real food. Alec was not going to deny that he had guilt-tripped Magnus once or twice about neglecting his ‘children’ (in reality, the Chairman and Church were fine and well fed) just to get Magnus to go home to the loft or to take a break from studying.

The end of the two weeks of exams soon arrived. Alec had finally finished his last big exam but Magnus still had two more big tests to finish. Alec could tell he was reaching his limit but Magnus - being Magnus - had insisted he was alright. Taking his boyfriend’s word for it, Alec left Magnus studying at the library and went to work - making up for the hours he had off while he studied for final exams and finished his projects. He received a text from Magnus during his break letting him know Magnus was going to go home early from the library to get some sleep. Alec silently thanked the universe his boyfriend had at least thought of that idea himself. Alec was ready to tell him off again if he had insisted to leave the library until closing time.

Alec had been tired himself, and was thankful when Alaric had let him go home on time. The doorbell rang whilst he was in the middle of making dinner. Alec checked the dish through the oven window, glancing at the timer on the side. He didn't want to burn the dish he had started to cook for dinner. He had hoped whoever was at the door was not going to take much of his time. He wasn’t expecting company, and it was already late in the night.

The doorbell rang a second time. Alec threw the tea towel he was holding, on the kitchen counter and walked towards the front door.

He didn’t bother to check the peephole. He was sure Francis would not have let anyone he didn’t know up this late to his apartment anyway. “Just a second. I was just-” He stopped as soon as he pulled the door open. “Magnus?” He greeted, brows creased. “I thought you went home hours ago.”

Magnus shook his head lazily, his eyes closed. “I was supposed to but then I thought to study one more module. And then I didn’t end up going.” He was leaning on the wall next to the door, his backpack on the floor, one strap hooked on his fingers. “I’m so tired. I don’t want to study anymore. I quit studying.” He said, voice sounding quite exhausted and he looked on the verge of crying. Alec couldn't help but show his ‘I told you so’ face. He had sounded like a broken record having to remind Magnus to take breaks from studying and take care of himself.

“No. Wait. I quit medical school altogether. I’ll just find a rich boyfriend who will take care of me and feed me.” He announced dramatically. “Oh look, I found one.”

Alec folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the doorframe. He was sympathetic about his boyfriend’s current plight, but he also couldn’t help but raise a brow over Magnus’ dramatic decision. He knew Magnus didn't really mean it. Becoming a doctor was his dream, and he certainly wasn't with Alec just for the money. They've had countless arguments whenever Alec paid for their meals when he knew Magnus was a bit short on cash on some weeks. The man was paying off a loan for the loft on top of his other living expenses. Honestly speaking, Alec wasn't sure how Magnus managed everything.

Magnus took a tired peek at him from the corner of his eye, lower lip stuck in a pout. “Shut up.” He whined knowing Alec was telling him off even without saying a word. He stretched out both his arms towards Alec. “Hold me.” He said, exaggerating his lip pout, and batting his tired eyes.

Who was Alec to resist such a sight? Alec chuckled and unfolded his arms. He picked up Magnus’ backpack from the hallway floor and put one arm around his boyfriend, pulling him close. “Come on. I’m getting dinner ready.” He said, pecking Magnus’ temple. “Ready to be my guinea pig? I have a new-ish dish for you to try.”

Tired as he was, Magnus had opted (insisted) for the comfort provided by Alec’s broad back rather than take a seat on the sofa or on one of the bar stools around the kitchen counter. He had both arms wrapped around Alec’s waist, his temple resting on Alec’s shoulder. Not that Alec minded.but he was sure Magnus had drifted off to sleep once or twice without meaning to.

“Dinner’s ready.” Alec said softly, peeking over his shoulder to look at Magnus, who just hummed in response.

Alec felt Magnus’ arms tighten around his waist, pressing his face softly just below the Alec’s nape, taking in a deep breath before finally letting go.

“This is my take on Snapper en papillote.” Alec placed the plate in front of Magnus. The dish was wrapped in parchment like a parcel. “l tried to add a few different herbs that hopefully makes the fish more flavourful.”

Magnus leaned in, smelling the steam coming from the dish as he ripped open the parcel. “Smells nice.” He said with a big smile on his face before inspecting the fish with his fork. “Is this going to be one of the dishes you’re showing Luke and Alaric?” Magnus asked.

“That’s the plan. Unless this is a complete fail. Then, no.” Alec answered. As was his habit, he waited for Magnus to start eating. He always loved seeing people’s reactions when they ate something Alec prepared.

Magnus took his first bite, keeping his expression neutral. Alec felt on edge waiting to know if Magnus liked it or not. His boyfriend put his fork down then cleared his throat.

“Interesting.”

Alec raised a brow.

“Shiitake mushrooms in the broth.” Magnus commented. “Are you happy with the flavours?” He asked with a serious tone.

“Well, yes. I-” Alec paused when he saw the side of Magnus’ mouth twitch up a little. “Are you trying to do a cooking show judging thing?” Alec asked. Magnus finally grinned then picked up his fork and continued eating.

“At least tell me my score.” Alec requested.

“17,000.” Magnus said between mouthfuls.

“Out of?”

“A gazillion.” Magnus retorted.

“Wow! Okay. I have the most supportive boyfriend ever.” Alec huffed, slightly offended, his hands on his waist. “It’s that bad?” He asked, brows quirked.

“Oh, yes.” Magnus said picking up the plate and standing up. “It’s so bad. Practically poisonous.” He deadpanned whilst eating another forkful. “Really. It should never be served to other people.” Another forkful.

“Is that why you’re trying to eat all of it?” Alec asked taking a step closer to Magnus who stepped back.

“Yes. I’m taking one for the team. Saving humanity and all.”

“My boyfriend, the hero. So noble.” Alec deadpanned.

Magnus winked. “Aren’t you lucky?” He continued to eat, a third of the fish already eaten.

“Hey, that’s my dinner, too.” Alec frowned, chasing after Magnus who moved around to the other side of the kitchen island, a big mischievous grin on his face.

“Your dinner goes well in my stomach. It belongs there.” Magnus said taking another step away. They both rounded the counter one more time before Alec finally caught Magnus - or Magnus stopped the teasing - and they both ate their dinner properly.

********
After eating, they both drifted to the couch, with Magnus happily and comfortably sprawled on top of Alec already drifting off to sleep, while the latter drew lazy circles on Magnus’ back.

“This feels nice.” Magnus said softly. Alec could feel the steady wisps of Magnus’ breath. He hummed in response, focusing on the warmth they both shared especially where their bodies touched, and Magnus’ nose and lips pressed lightly against Alec’s neck. “What I’d give to be able to have lazy days like this.”

“Well, you have been working really hard.” Alec pulled back slightly so he can look at Magnus. “You could do with a bit of a vacation. Out of town, maybe.”

Magnus huffed. “Sure, if I can afford it. I’m afraid all I can do is a picnic in Central Park.” He said. “I haven’t been on a proper vacation since-” He paused. “I can’t even remember.” He shook his head.

Alec changed position until they were both lying on their side face-to-face. “I think that is all the more reason for you to have a proper one.”

“And go where?”

“We have a summer house upstate. We can go there for a weekend or something. After exams.” Alec suggested.

“Just the two of us?” Magnus queried.

Alec shrugged. “If you want to.” Now that he thought about it, if their plan pushed through, this would be their first away trip as a couple. This would be their first vacation together ever. His heart skipped a beat - equal parts excitement and nervousness.

“Your parents won’t mind us going?” Magnus asked. Alec knew there was more to that question than what Magnus said aloud. Maryse hasn’t exactly been the most supportive of their getting back together.

“Don’t worry about what mom thinks.” Alec said in assurance. “She has no say on who I choose to be with.”

“But she does have a say in who goes into her property.” Magnus countered.

“Well, we all own it.” Alec said. “Granddad did this thing with his will, like some kind of Trust. And we were all written in as owners, and I think two more generations after us. It was a way to keep it in the Lightwood name. And we’re not allowed to sell it or subdivide it.”

“You know for a future lawyer, you’re explaining the legal stuff very clearly.” Magnus teased.

“I didn’t really pay much attention when they were explaining it.” Alec admitted. “Max can tell you all about it though. Or Jace.”

“Max?” Magnus quirked a brow.

“He snooped around Mom’s office and read the Deed. He’s the one with an interest in those things. That and setting things on fire.” They both chuckled.

Alec took a deep breath. “Anyway, you still haven’t given me an answer. Shall we go on a little weekend getaway?” He pulled Magnus closer, the tip of their noses touching.

Magnus grinned. “Sounds like a lovely idea.” Alec leaned in and kissed Magnus slowly, lazily. Each kiss was languid, and they both lingered, savouring the feel of each other’s lips. Alec circled his arm around Magnus’ waist and pulled him closer. Placing one leg between Magnus’, Alec rocked his hips up earning a moan from his boyfriend.

“Alexander, Darling,” Magnus murmured into their kiss, a little out of breath. “Much as I really want to have sex right now. I don’t think I have any energy left.” He confessed. The sound of his voice was a conundrum of being apologetic, frustrated, and tired. Yet, it was also filled with desire, as Magnus made no attempt to stop their kissing. “I’m sorry.”

Alec’s chest started to vibrate as laughter slowly built up and escaped his lips. He pulled back laughing even more when he heard Magnus whine at the loss of contact between their mouths. Alec brushed the stray hairs away from Magnus’ eyes, then cupped his face with both hands. “It’s okay. We don’t have to do it tonight.”

“I’m sorry.” Magnus said again. He looked even more guilty when he saw Alec was already half-erect from their kissing. Having been busy with their end-of-term requirements, they haven’t exactly had much time for physical intimacy. Not that Alec was taking it against Magnus. And their relationship was more than the sex.

“Hey,” Alec poked the tip of Magnus’ nose lightly to catch his attention. “None of that. We have all the time after exams.” He said in reassurance. He pushed himself up and off the sofa. “Right now, sleep is more important. Come on.” He offered his hand, which Magnus gladly took, letting Alec pull him up, and the two made their way to the bedroom. It wasn’t long until they fell asleep cuddled in bed.

*********
Alec had carefully planned his and Magnus’ long weekend away together. However, the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition. On the day they were due to leave, he instead found himself back at his parent’s place. Izzy, Jace, and Max found out about their plans on bowling night after Magnus’ last exam. The three younger Lightwoods (and by extension Clary and Simon) begged them until he and Magnus couldn’t say ‘no.’ Well, actually, Alec would have put his foot down and not given in. But Magnus had said ‘yes’, and Alec couldn’t say no to him.

So there he was, at the start of the weekend, packing his car not just with the things he and Magnus needed for the weekend, but also his siblings’ things.

“You can put the cooler in Simon’s van when they get here.” Alec instructed Jace who set the big Coleman icebox to the side of the driveway. “Where are they now, anyway?” He asked, fishing his phone from his back pocket to check if Magnus had texted. There was none, apart from the usual ‘good morning’ text he got earlier.

“Last I heard they’d gone to pick Magnus up, but haven’t heard anything.” Jace answered, copying his older brother and checking his phone. “I’ll text Clary.” He said, typing on his phone as he walked back inside the house.

They were already an hour late from the time Alec had originally planned for them to leave. Not that his siblings would have been ready by then. Max and Izzy, in particular, liked to fluff about before any long trips. Besides, their mom had called Alec for a long talk after breakfast. She wasn’t particularly happy with the plans - mostly because Magnus was going to be there. She and Alec got into another argument the night before about her displeasure with him getting back together with Magnus.

Maryse was due to leave for an overseas business trip two days before, but she had postponed her flight to see them off. Alec knew that was just an excuse. She wanted to check on him and Magnus. He had taken his siblings for summer trips on his own before and their mother had not fussed as much as she did now. That was when Magnus wasn’t in Alec’s life.

Alec looked up where he heard his mother’s voice call Max from inside the house. He ignored his brewing annoyance. He wanted to start this vacation in the proper mood.

He typed a message on his phone.

[To: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Where are you? ETA? Xxx

It didn’t take long for a reply to arrive.

[From: Magnus <3 <3 <3]
Sorry, Alexander. We had a bit of a Ragnor, Chairman and Church problem. But all sorted now. We’re almost there. See you soon. Xxx

It was followed by a picture of Magnus and Clary with Simon in the background driving. They were both frowning with the words “Sorry. Please don’t be mad.” in the caption. The picture made Alec smile. He typed a quick reply and pocketed his phone.

“Mom’s calling for you.” Jace said, setting his bag down by the cooler. “She’s in her office.”

Alec sighed, exchanging a look with Jace, who just shrugged. They both knew what Maryse likely wanted to talk about.

Alec took his sweet time walking to his mother’s home office. The door was open when he arrived, so he didn’t bother knocking. He stood at a distance from her desk where she was working, his arms were folded in front of him.

“I just wanted to remind you to drive carefully. Your brothers and sister are going to be with you. Along with Clary and Simon.” Maryse said. Alec rolled his eyes. Not that his mother saw since she was focused on the documents in front of her. “You’ll be the only responsible adult in this trip, and I expect you to behave like one.”

He flinched a little, knowing that his mother said, purposefully ignoring the fact that Magnus was joining the trip. Maryse knew quite well that Magnus was also an adult. “Yes, Mom. Magnus and I will make sure the others behave and don’t get into trouble.” He emphasised Magnus’ name.

She looked up. “I’m merely giving you a reminder, Alec.” Maryse pursed her lips. “I want you to take care of your siblings, especially Max. This is a big responsibility.”

Alec didn’t even make an effort to hide his annoyance this time. “Oh, now you tell me about taking care of them.” He retorted sarcastically. “Because I haven’t been doing that for most of my life while you and dad are busy working or flying off overseas. It’s not like this is the first road trip I’m taking them to.”

Maryse stood up, wide-eyed and taken aback by Alec’s frankness pointing out hers and Roberts absence. She opened her mouth about to say something but Alec didn’t give her a chance. “Thank you for the kind reminder, Mom. But I think we’ll be okay.” He said, tempering his anger. Magnus and the others were going to be arriving soon. He really didn’t want to be in a foul mood. “Is that all?” He asked, brow raised.

“As a matter of fact, no.” She said, getting her bearings and quite relieved about the opportunity to change the subject. She folded her arms in front of her and raised a brow. “Valentine called and asked for a favour.” She said, gaining back her confidence. Alec just stared at her waiting for her to continue. “Apparently, Sebastian needs a ride to their cabin. His friends have already gone ahead. And he and his parents were all supposed to drive there as a family but Valentine has to attend to some important matters at the University hospital.”

Alec’s brow curved upwards. “Of course.” He said, unconvinced. He wouldn’t put it past his mother to have planned this in some way since she found out about the trip. There was probably a kernel of truth to it. But Sebastian suddenly needing a ride with them wasn’t it.

“Now, Alec. Sebastian needs a vacation just as much as you and your siblings do.” She said. “You have space for one more in your car. And it wouldn’t hurt if you hang out with him and his friends. Most of them are from overseas and Sebastian hasn’t been in the area in a long time.”

“Sure.” Alec rolled his eyes, clearly displeased. He chose not to argue with his mother over this any further. He turned around and walked out. He saw Simon’s van drive up their driveway on his way to his car. Seeing Magnus wave at him from the passenger seat, with a big smile on his face, made Alec forget about his mother’s unpleasant news.

********
“Sorry we're late.” Magnus said, walking over to Alec and giving him a quick kiss on the lips. “Ragnor was involved in a cat fight.” He said, giggling a little.

“Church?” Alec asked.

“Surprisingly, no.” Magnus said, as they walked to the trunk of Alec's car to put his bag. “He almost stepped on Chairman's tail on his way to the bathroom this morning. Chairman held a grudge so he wouldn't let Ragnor put him in the carrier. Church saw that as an opportunity to be himself.”

“Is Chairman okay?” Alec queried.

“Oh, he’s fine. He was just being a drama queen.” Magnus watched as Alec rearranged the items in the trunk.

“I wonder where he got that from.” Magnus saw the twinkle in Alec's eye. “Anyway, so I take it Ragnor and Cat are still hung-over?” Alec asked, leaning on the back of the open trunk.

Ragnor and Cat had ‘kidnapped’ Magnus the night before to go out and celebrate the end of exams. Sure enough, the three went clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. Magnus had invited his boyfriend (before, during and after he was already drunk) to join them but he declined. Alec didn't think it was a good idea for him to be out late especially since he was going to drive for their trip. And also because he needed to spend the night at his parents house to get his siblings organised for the trip.

“Cat decided it's best to stay at the loft for today after the kerfluffle with Chairman, so Ragnor agreed.” Magnus said.

“So they're very hung over then.” Alec commented. Magnus poked the tip of his nose twice to confirm.

“Cat’s staying there at least until she goes to work tomorrow. And then it’s just Ragnor with Church and Chairman.” Magnus added. “To be honest, there’s only one ‘Cat’ Ragnor would like to spend time with.” His grin grew wider.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Alec said. “And you're feeling alright for the drive and all?”

Magnus smiled, moving his face closer to Alec’s. “You know I don't get hangovers.” He said before pressing their lips together. Alec circled his arms around Magnus’ waist and pulled him closer, deepening their kiss.

A small figure came up to Magnus’ peripheral vision making him pull away from Alec. “Hello, Max.”

“Are you two going to be doing that all weekend?” Max asked his arms folded across his chest, his brow raised. Magnus couldn't help how similar the boy was to his older brother - if not sassier.

“Is that okay?” Magnus asked. He and Max have always gotten along. But given the events in the past couple of weeks, he couldn't help but be wary.

The youngest Lightwood just shrugged. “I don't mind.” He handed Alec his duffel bag. “You make Alec happy so…” He shrugged his shoulders again. Magnus and Alec exchanged a smile.

“Thank you, Max.” Alec said ruffling his brother's hair, and Max pushing his hand away. “Have you packed your toothbrush or a toothbrush?” Alec asked.

“Yes?”

Alec frowned at his brother's uncertainty. “Go and check it, please.”

“Okay.” Max replied, shoulders slumped as he walked towards the house. Watching the exchange warmed Magnus’ heart. He loved seeing Alec take care of his younger siblings, even if it was just the little things.

“You two are going to do way more than kiss, right?” Izzy said, popping in suddenly making both Alec and Magnus jump a little. She rested her elbow on the car, and had the widest, most mischievous grin.

“Izzy.” Alec warned.

“Oh Isabelle, you know I intend to do much more than that to your brother. Have a little faith.” Magnus said with a serious but teasing tone, winking at her. A groan from Alec with his face growing a deeper shade of red told him he succeeded.

Izzy laughed loud at her brother's expense. “Hey, Max, you might want to bring noise-cancelling headphones.” She shouted, high-fiving with Magnus. Both of them laughed as Alec buried his face into Magnus’ chest in embarrassment. Magnus winked at her before she walked off to join Jace, Clary and Simon in the van. She had a big, satisfied grin on her face.

Magnus, still smiling widely, pulled back and cupped his hands on Alec’s face.

“Please stop encouraging her.” Alec pleaded, cheeks still tinged red. Magnus knew his boyfriend was far from innocent, he knew that personally. And it wasn’t that he was a prude. It was just that Alec was a very private person. And he always felt embarrassed - not exactly knowing how to react properly- when people (his siblings in particular) teased him about his private activities with Magnus. It was one of the things Magnus loved about him.

Magnus chuckled. “But you're so cute when you blush.” He teased. Alec groaned again. “Okay. I'll stop.” Magnus said, wrapping his arm around Alec’s shoulder and pulling him closer in a brief squeeze. “Shall we get this show on the road?” He asked, changing the subject.

“Yeah. About that…” Alec scratched the back of his head looking a bit annoyed. “Mom told Sebastian he can catch a ride with us to his family's cabin.”

“Oh.” Magnus pulled away slightly, turning to look at the house. He had momentarily forgotten that Maryse was still there. He pursed his lips, containing his displeasure. He didn't like Sebastian. Magnus didn't like how smug he was, and he didn't like how Sebastian looked at Alec or how he seemed to think he can touch Alec freely. Most of all, he didn't like that Sebastian had Maryse’s favour when it came to Alec. “Sebastian.” He said. It was one word but it was heavy.

“Magnus, I didn't know.” Alec started but Magnus stopped him.

“It's okay. I know you didn’t have anything to do with it.” He said reassuringly. It wasn't okay - at least in his point of view - but what could he do? Maryse arranged it. “It's not like he's going to spend the whole time with us, right?”

Alec shook his head. “No. We're dropping him off and that's it. He can spend time with his friends and we can have our weekend.” Magnus pulled his lips to a smile and nodded.

“I'm not sure what time he's getting here. Hopefully he's on his way.” Alec said, checking his watch. “Do you want to go inside to wait?”

Magnus shook his head. He really wasn't planning to interact with Maryse Lightwood at all. Much as he was curious to see what Alec's old room looked like, Magnus preferred not to have to go into Maryse’s house. “I'll be fine out here.” He said, smiling albeit a little forced. “I am. I’m ok.” He assured his boyfriend when Alec's brows remained knit. “I really am fine.” He said again, more to himself than to his boyfriend.

“Are you sure?”

Magnus sighed, biting the inside of his lip. “Okay, I’m not fine.” He admitted. It was instinct for him to try and hide these sorts of feelings - the jealousy, or the uncertainty. But since their fight he has been trying hard to let Alec know so they can work on it together. “But maybe if you give me a kiss I will be.” He said coyly.

Alec grinned. “My pleasure.” He pulled Magnus by the lapels of his coat and pressed their lips together. It was brief, but it was sweet and sincere. “Better?” He asked, swooping in for another quick peck on Magnus’ lips.

“Much.” Magnus said with a smile.

The slamming of the van door caught their attention. “I better go check and see if they packed everything properly.” Alec said, disentangling himself from Magnus and walking over to where Simon and Jace were.

“Just watch Alec act like a total dad.” Izzy stage whispered to Clary as the two girls went to join Magnus. All three of them watched as Alec spoke to Simon briefly before they went around double checking the engine, tyres, and what not in the van.

“Does he always do this?” Magnus asked with an amused smile, watching Simon nervously show Alec the spare tyre.

“Yup.” Izzy said crisply. “Every time we go on a trip. He triple checks everything. Engine, tyres, spares, first aid kit.” She listed a couple more things.

“Poor Sheldon.” Magnus said, sympathetically, yet very entertained. “Twice in one morning.”

“What do you mean?” Izzy asked, looking at Clary then at Magnus.

“Luke did the same thing Alec’s doing before we left to pick up Magnus.” Clary explained. All three of them laughed.

“Should we go and help?” Magnus asked.

“No. Just leave them to it.” Izzy said confidently, folding her arms across her chest. “Simon needs to learn to survive my brother if he’s going to continue to be my boyfriend. Otherwise it’ll just be a disaster.” She said.

A shiny black Lexus pulled up in the driveway catching all of their attention. Sebastian got down from the car, and waved at them as he carried his bag. Thankfully for Magnus, Alec, Jace and Simon were hidden behind the van at that time. Although, Magnus had no doubt Sebastian was scanning the yard for Alec.

“Shit. What is he doing here?” Izzy frowned, clearly unhappy about the new arrival.

“Alec said your mother arranged for him to catch a ride with us to their cabin.” Magnus said, a little surprised that Izzy didn’t know. This arrangement was fresher than he had originally thought.

“Of course she did.” Izzy said, still quite miffed. “Excuse me, I have to go get something.” She turned on her heel and went inside the house.

“Biscuit, please help me not to punch him in the face.” Magnus said through gritted teeth.

“Promise.” Clary said, taking Magnus’ hand. They looked at each other, sighed then walked over to join the boys.

********
Alec was in the middle of checking the oil level in Simon’s van when he felt Jace nudge his arm. He looked up to see Sebastian had arrived. Shortly, thereafter Magnus and Clary joined their little group.

“Thanks again for waiting for me.” Sebastian said, smiling at everyone, mostly it was directed at Alec who chose to ignore it.

“Well, since everyone’s here, we should get going.” Alec said, putting the dipstick back in place and leaving Simon to close the hood. “We’ll stop by the gas station just outside the city to check tyre pressures and gas up.” He told Simon who nodded.

“You okay?” Alec whispered to Magnus as they walked towards Alec’s car. This was supposed to be their weekend. Despite it being constantly hijacked when it’s barely begun, he wanted for Magnus to have a good time.

“Alexander, it’s fine. Stop worrying.” Magnus assured him with a bright smile.

Maryse had finally stepped out of the house and joined them to see them off. She and Magnus briefly acknowledged the other’s presence before Magnus somehow made himself fade into the background. Which, to Alec, was impossible, since Magnus is always the centre of his attention.

“You kids have fun. And Alec, drive carefully please.” Maryse looked at him pointedly. Alec exchanged a look with his siblings, all of whom rolled their eyes out of their mother’s line of sight. “Sebastian, please make sure he doesn’t drive like a maniac.” Maryse continued, the two of them hugging.

“Sure thing, Maryse.” Sebastian answered proudly.

Alec, ignored it, turning around and walking towards the car. Clary, Jace and Izzy were going to ride in the van with Simon. While Magnus, Max and Sebastian were going in Alec’s car.

“Actually, would I be able to sit in the front seat?” Sebastian asked before they got in the car. “I get car sick when I sit in the back.” He added.

Alec looked at Magnus, silently apologising for that little detail. Although, frankly he’d hoped Sebastian had gotten over that as he grew up, apparently not. Before he could say anything, Magnus already spoke.

“Alright.” Magnus replied. Alec’s eyes grew wide, following Magnus as he walked around the car to the driver’s side where Alec was standing. Max was already seated in the back seat behind the passenger seat.

“Magnus-” He started.

“It’s alright, Alexander.” Magnus interrupted him, speaking softly. “It’s just a seat. We’re still going to be in the same car.” He kissed Alec’s cheek and got in the car.

Alec took in a long, deep breath to calm himself down then took his seat.

“Babe, do you have enough leg room?” Alec asked. The two of them looked at each other through the rear view mirror. Magnus had an amused smile on his face mouthing ‘babe’ at Alec, looking surprised. Alec wasn’t one for pet names but somehow that slipped out. He found he didn’t mind it. He shrugged in response.

Magnus, a wide grin on his face, reached forward and rubbed him on the shoulder gently. “Yes, thank you, darling.” He said. Alec took Magnus’ hand, kissed it and left it where it was, on his shoulder.

“Max, seat belt, please.” He reminded.

“I’m strapped in, I promise.” Max said, not bothering to look up from his videogame.

Alec looked at Magnus who nodded, confirming Max’s answer.

*******
The start of their journey wasn’t as bad as Alec had expected. Mostly because Magnus kept making kissy faces or winking at him whenever Alec looked at the rear view mirror. Max, once he got bored with his videogame, started carpool karaoke, with him and Magnus singing at the top of their lungs. Alec saw Sebastian seemed annoyed once in a while, ones in which Alec could care less about. He’d initially pictured it with just him and Magnus alone in the car, or at least with Magnus sitting in the passenger seat beside him, and not Sebastian. But it was too late for that. The situation was what it was. Alec won’t let it ruin their vacation. He joined in the singing, surprising Magnus.

As soon as Alec turned off the ignition at the gas pumps, Max was out the door wanting to rush to the toilets.

“Max, wait for Jace.” Alec instructed. His youngest brother whined for Jace to hurry up as soon as Simon pulled up and parked the van on the other side of the gas pump. “Izzy, no lingering in the bathroom.” Alec reminded, his sister rolling his eyes at him.

“Yes, dad.” She said mockingly. “We’re getting coffee.” She said and walked towards the shops followed closely by Clary.

Only Magnus stayed there with him, Sebastian thankfully had to use the bathroom as well.

“You are such a worry wart.” Magnus shook his head moving closer to Alec and wrapping his hands around his waist.

“I’m just looking after them.” Alec reasoned, while he clicked the lock on the gas pump so it can fill the tank hands-free.

“I know you’re looking out for them, darling. And I admire that a lot.” Magnus acknowledged nuzzling their noses together. “But you can relax a little. You’re supposed to be on a break, too.”

“If I don’t remind her, Izzy will spend an hour in the toilet doing God knows what. Or she goes shopping for things she doesn’t need. And we’ll end up getting to the cabin late.” Magnus chuckled at him probably because of how serious he was being. He knew the laugh wasn’t because Magnus was making fun of him. But Alec had always taken it upon himself to take care of his siblings because their parents were never around. Sometimes that included parenting them.

“Alright, I understand. I truly do. And you’re not alone in this.” Magnus smiled at him. “I’d best go check on the children then. Make sure they’re staying out of trouble. Alright, dad?” He joked, kissing Alec on the cheek. Alec poked his tongue out at him as he walked away.

*******
“I know, I know, I know.” Izzy said rushing towards the group with a tray of coffee in hand. Alec had parked the car close to the shops after filling it up. “We had a big order.”

“We got hot drinks for everyone. And a hot chocolate for Max.” Clary added. The two girls started handing out the drinks.

“And one for you, Sebastian.” Izzy said with the biggest smile on her face. Alec shot a look at her, brow raised but he got ignored. Sebastian accepted it graciously. “I hope you’re not getting car sick. ” Izzy added.

“No. It’s been good so far. Hopefully it stays that way when we get to the windy roads.” Sebastian said sipping his drink. “Magnus was very kind to give up the passenger seat so I cross fingers that helps.”

“Well, Magnus is very nice and thoughtful.” Izzy confirmed.

“One of the things Alec loves about him.” Jace piped in.

Alec knew how much his siblings liked Magnus, and how supportive they were of their relationship but he has never heard them talk about it out loud. In front of Sebastian, no less. As much as it warmed his heart at their support, he also couldn’t help but think that something was up. He just couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

“Shall we get going? I think everyone is here.” Simon suggested. And they were off again.

********
They were currently parked in front of the grocers to pick up some supplies before they arrive at their destination.

Alec stared at Sebastian’s sleeping form right next to him. He’s been trying to wake him up for the past couple of minutes but Sebastian didn’t stir at all. He sighed and shook the man again.

“Exactly how much did you put in his drink, Izzy?” Jace asked, poking Sebastian on the cheek to try and wake him up. He along with Simon, Clary and Izzy were standing outside the passenger window of Alec’s car.

Alec pressed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and his index finger, his eyes closed. “I knew something was up.” He huffed. “You drugged his coffee?” He exclaimed, trying to control his anger.

He didn’t think much of it when Sebastian had been very quiet once they were back on the road. And once he fell asleep. In fact, Alec welcomed it. Sebastian, for one reason or another, had tried some pretty bold moves to have some physical contact with Alec once they were back on the road. He placed his coffee cup in the middle compartment and would purposefully try and reach for it when Alec reached for his. It was awkward to say the least. And Magnus didn’t look too happy with what he was seeing from the back seat.

“Well, he said he got car sick and we're close to the windy part of the trip. So I thought I’d make his travel a bit easier. Just in case being in the front seat doesn't work.” Izzy said, coolly, shrugging her shoulders. “Besides, it was Clary’s idea to put the sleep aids in.”

Alec saw Clary bite her lip guiltily, then she looked at Magnus who raised his brow at her. Once again, Alec felt there was something more going on than he could put his finger on.

“He’s out like a light.” Simon said, pushing his glasses up and looking closer at the sleeping man. “Is he still-”

“He's alive.” Magnus confirmed, having just checked Sebastian’s pulse. “Just in a very deep sleep. Maybe for a couple more hours.”

Alec sighed trying to reassess their situation. “Well, we have some shopping to do. Otherwise we won't have any supplies at the cabin.” He looked at Sebastian again. He had mixed feelings over the whole thing. He was glad that at least Sebastian was somewhat out of the way. But at the same time, he didn’t approve of Izzy pulling these kinds of pranks. Maybe. Kind of. He hoped Sebastian wouldn’t retaliate or worse, make up a story and tell his parents or Alec’s parents and make it ten times worse.

“We can always just leave him in the car.” Clary suggested. “I mean, this place is safe, right? No one will break into the car or anything?”

They all looked at Alec. “We'll crack open a window. So he won't suffocate if it gets too hot. And we’re parked in the shade, anyway.” He said. “Let's just hope he wakes up when we drop him off.” He got out of the car, followed by Magnus and Max.

Magnus tugged on the back of Alec’s shirt as they approached the entrance of the shop, both of them hanging back.

“I’m sorry about Sebastian.” Magnus apologised confusing Alec. “I may be partially responsible.”

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“Clary probably got that idea from me.” Alec’s brow curved, still confused. “From when I babysitted them. I may have taught them a few things. Including this one.” Magnus elaborated, still looking guilty.

Alec just laughed out loud and pulled Magnus close, planting a kiss on his boyfriend's temple, as they walked into the building.

********
Alec walked along the aisle choosing the produce carefully. Magnus followed close behind with the shopping cart while the others walked back and forth getting snacks and other supplies that they needed. From time to time, Alec would say ‘no, put that back’ to his siblings without even seeing what they were putting in the cart. Magnus found this very enjoyable.

“Alec, they’re selling fireworks next door.” Jace said excitedly. “Can we go buy some?” He asked. “We’re buying some.” He said without even waiting for Alec to respond. Jace left with Simon and Clary following close behind.

“Where’d the others go?” Izzy asked, looking around. She and Max had various bags of chips and chocolates.

“They went next door to buy fireworks.” Magnus informed her while Alec was choosing some meats. Max’s eyes lit up upon hearing the last word.

“Can we also have cake?” Max asked looking at Alec with hopeful eyes.

“Ooh, yes.” Izzy agreed. “Salted caramel mousse cake. No, wait. Nutella torte.” She looked at Alec then at Magnus. “Has he made that for you?” Magnus shook his head. “Oh, it’s amazing. Alec you should bake some.” She said.

“Sure. Just because you said so.” Alec said sarcastically. “I’m not spending the whole time baking desserts for you guys.” He told his sister and his brother who both pouted.

“Please, Alec?” The two said in sync.

“No.” Alec put his foot down.

“We promise to help.” Izzy offered. “Don’t we, Max?” The younger boy nodded.

Alec rolled his eyes. “That’s what you two said the last time. And then ended up swimming out in the lake the whole time.” He said. “You already hijacked my weekend with Magnus. The answer is ‘no.’”

“Well, actually. The nutella torte sounds good.” Magnus piped in. He grinned. Izzy and Max both became wide-eyed, smiling from ear-to-ear. “And we all promise to help.” He added.

“Please, Alec. Please, Alec. Please, please, please.” Magnus, Izzy, and Max pleaded in unison. All three of them clinging to or grasping at Alec’s shirt for more impact on their pleas.

“What’s going on?” Jace arrived, boxes of fireworks in hand, followed closely by Simon and Clary. Izzy quickly filled him in. And the new arrivals quickly jumped on the pleading bandwagon.

“Fine.” Alec agreed pushing everyone away. “You three,” He pointed to his siblings. “Go get the ingredients.” He instructed.

“Can we have cream puffs, too?” Max asked.

“Don’t push it.” Alec said. The younger Lightwoods, Clary and Simon all ran to get the items.

“Thank you for indulging us.” Magnus said moving closer and wrapping his arms around his boyfriend.

“Haha. You say that now.” Alec rolled his eyes a little. “I guarantee all of them are going to forget about helping once we get to the cabin. You, on the other hand, I’m not letting off the hook.” He warned.

“Yes, chef.” Magnus complied, a big smile on his face. They shared a few quick kisses before moving on to finish their shopping.

********
“Alec.”

Alec stirred but kept his eyes closed. He felt Magnus right beside him and he drifted closer to the warmth. By the time they finished shopping, and dropping off Sebastian (waking him up was a bit of a challenge), the group had arrived to the cabin the day before later than Alec had planned. Getting everyone settled and fed was a bit of a nightmare. And as expected, none of their younger companions helped with the baking like they had said.

In truth though, Alec didn’t mind. It ended up with just him and Magnus in the kitchen preparing the food. They had both enjoyed having time alone together. Until it was time for dinner, of course.

Everyone got to bed full but also tired from the day’s travel. And there was a consensus about a much needed lie in the next day.

“Alec.” There was that voice again.

“Max, we talked about this.” He said sleepily, still refusing to open his eyes. “Sleep in today, remember?”

“I know.” Max whined. “But I needed to go to the bathroom. And now I’m hungry.” He reasoned shaking his brother to try and wake him up.

“Buddy, just get some cereal for now, okay?” Alec said, pulling Magnus closer to him. “I’ll make you proper breakfast later.”

“Fine.” The little boy said a little dejected. Alec could hear him dragging his feet towards the door. He couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.

“Max,” He said. He heard the footsteps stop. “Wake Jace or Izzy up if you want to go for a swim.” He reminded. For safety reasons, even if Max knew how to swim, he wasn't allowed to go in the water without supervision. Alec knew his younger brother knew the rules. And he didn't want to sound like a nagger. But it had to be done. Just in case.

“I know. I’m not allowed to go swimming by myself.” Max said before leaving the room, his voice sounding sad.

Alec opened his eyes as soon as the doors closed. Much as he wanted to stay in bed with his boyfriend, he knew he was past getting back to sleep. He pushed himself up and kissed Magnus on the cheek in greeting. “Sorry about that.” He said.

Magnus lips widened to a soft smile. “It’s alright.” He said sleepily, reaching up to gently caress Alec’s face, although he kept his eyes closed. “It gives me a little insight on what it’ll be like when we have children.” He said.

Alec tensed a little. Did Magnus really say that? Was he serious? What did he mean? He wanted that kind of future with Alec? Alec was definitely awake now. He wanted to ask about it but Magnus had already fallen back to sleep. Alec shook his head. Maybe Magnus was confused, dreaming, when he said that. He probably didn’t even mean it. He hasn’t even said if he loved Alec or not.

Alec kissed Magnus’ temple then slowly got out of bed, careful not to wake his boyfriend. As he pulled his shirt down, he couldn’t help but smile. Even if Magnus was dreaming when he talked about him and Alec having children, at least some part of his brain had thought about the possibility. The possibility of them spending their lives together, having a family.

*********
By midday, all of them had woken up, had breakfast, and lounged around by the lake.

“Are you just going to keep reading that the whole weekend?” Alec asked, grabbing his towel to dry himself off before sitting on the edge of the beach chair by Magnus’ feet.

Magnus closed his book and gave his boyfriend a once over, admiring Alec’s current state of shirtlessness. “No, I also intend to read that book.” He pointed to another thick novel on the table beside him. Alec spied one of Magnus’ textbooks under it. It may have been summer vacation but Magnus had to get ahead with his readings for the next semester. Although, the wide selection of novels in the cabin library also caught his attention.

Alec huffed, then slowly crawled up on the seat until he was face-to-face with Magnus. “So if it was just the two of us you’d still be doing this?” He asked.

“If it was just the two of us I would have brought far less clothing, a much smaller bag, and we wouldn’t be out here at all. We'd be spending every minute in that house doing very naked, possibly naughty things, until it was time to drive back.” Magnus bit his lower lip, making Alec grin. Alec dipped his head lower, nudging the tip of Magnus’ nose with his. “But we’re not alone. So I’m going to read. I don’t get much time to catch up on novels during the semester.” Magnus added, quickly giving Alec a peck on the lips and opening his book once again.

Alec groaned, getting off Magnus and nudging him slightly to make him move until they were lying side-by-side on the beach chair. He stuck his lower lip into a pout, resting his chin on Magnus’ shoulder. “Please come and swim with me. Please?” He pleaded, flashing his best puppy-dog eyes.

Magnus kept his attention on his book. “Maybe later.” He said.

Alec huffed, shifted then rested his head on Magnus’ shoulder. “That’s what you said earlier.” He may have whined a little, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Magnus couldn’t help but grin. He could clearly see where Max got his antics from, not that Alec would ever admit to it. And Magnus may have found this side of Alec a little cute.

“Fine.” Alec gave up after a while. “I’ll just stay here with you then.” He said. He grabbed his sunglasses from the side table and put them on before settling more comfortably into the seat, resting his head on Magnus’ shoulder.

*******
Magnus kept reading.

“Is it because you can’t swim?” Alec asked after a beat.

“I can swim.” Magnus answered, eyes never leaving his book. “I was born in a coastal town. I was swimming in the sea before I could walk.” He said, flipping a page.

“Then you just don’t feel like swimming with us?” Alec asked, curious and teasing.

Magnus swallowed but didn’t answer.

“Or you’re not used to-”

“I’m afraid of the water.” Magnus admitted. He licked his lips. “Or… I’m afraid of being underwater.”

Alec sat up, turning around to face him. He didn’t say anything, just waited for Magnus to continue. Although Magnus still wouldn’t volunteer information unless Alec asked the right questions, Magnus had become more open with Alec about his past.

Magnus played with the corner of the page. He wasn’t reading anymore despite him still looking at the book instead of Alec. “I used to love to swim. Still do.” He finally said, looking up and out to the lake where Alec’s siblings were swimming. “You have no idea how much I miss being in the water. Just floating in it, looking at the sky. It was so peaceful.” He said, dreamily.

“So why?” Alec asked.

“Dad.” Magnus said. “He tried to drown me in the bathtub after mom passed away.” He looked down, fiddling with the pages of his book again. “I swallowed a lot of water. Felt my chest tighten. I couldn’t breathe, and still he kept pushing me down.”

Alec took Magnus’ hand in his and squeezed it to let Magnus know he was there. He still didn’t know much about Magnus’ childhood, particularly about his parents. And he couldn’t even imagine the hardship, and the abuse Magnus went through. All Alec could do now was try and offer some kind of comfort. It made him determined to give Magnus better, happier memories for the rest of their lives.

His little gesture of support made Magnus smile even if it was tiny and brief. “Anyway, if it wasn’t for the timely arrival of our neighbour I would have died for sure. He didn’t attempt anything like that again. But I never took a bath in the tub, always locked the bathroom door when I showered. Never went swimming. I never told anyone about it so people just assumed I couldn’t swim.” Magnus shrugged, looking at Alec and forcing a smile. “Sorry.” He whispered.

Alec shook his head. “It’s okay. Don’t be sorry. And you don’t have to get in the water if you don’t want to. We can do other things.” He leaned forward and kissed Magnus on the lips. “Thank you for telling me.” He said, lying back down on the chair and snuggling closer to Magnus.

After a while, Magnus was the one who pulled him up. They sat on the boardwalk, Alec’s legs dipped in the water. Magnus sat cross-legged behind him, rubbing sunscreen on Alec’s back.

“The water does look very nice.” Magnus commented, watching the others playing in the water.

“It is.” Alec said, swirling his legs around to stir the water gently. There was this look of longing in Magnus’ eyes, maybe even a little envious of the others being in the water. “Do you want to try having a dip?” Alec asked. The idea came out of nowhere. He wasn’t going to force Magnus if the latter didn’t want to do it. But he thought he’d just ask.

Magnus looked at him wide-eyed. “Just a little dip. We’ll take it slow and I’ll be there with you the whole time.” Alec offered.

Magnus bit his lip in thought. It took him a while. “It’s just an idea. But you don’t have to if-”

“Okay.”

“What?” Alec was taken by surprise. A little unsure he heard it right.

“Okay.” Magnus said, taking a deep breath and clearly nervous. “Let’s try a little dip.” He said, stretching his legs.

They started with one leg dipped in the water. And then two. Slowly, Magnus took his time getting in the water. There were a couple of times when he backed out. Alec stayed and helped him, patiently.

After an hour or so, Magnus was finally waist deep in the water, while he stood and held on the ladder attached to the boardwalk. Alec stayed by him, treading in the water, making sure to keep close. He could see Magnus’ knuckles turning white with how tightly he was holding onto the ladder rail.

“You can get back up the boardwalk if you want. If this is too much.” Alec said, letting Magnus know it was alright if he couldn’t take it anymore.

“I’m okay.” Magnus said nervously. He took another step down, and then another, until the water was almost to his shoulders.

Alec moved closer, holding on to one side of the rail, acting like a secure wall for Magnus to hold on. Slowly, Magnus lowered himself, sitting on one of the bars, and one arm around Alec’s neck.

“I’m okay.” Magnus said again. Alec was sure his boyfriend wasn’t talking to him that time.

“You’re doing really well.” Alec praised. “Look, you’re in the water.”

Magnus nodded, laughing nervously. Both arms now around Alec’s neck. Alec was careful not to make any sudden movements. He didn’t move away from the ladder. Magnus twitched and held onto him a little tighter every time they drifted slightly away from the ladder, or when his shoulder or head went a little closer to the water.

“Oh my God! Magnus, you’re in the water.” Clary cheered and she and Simon high-fived.

Magnus waved quickly and then went back to his secure hold. Only Alec heard his nervous chuckle.

“You’re still okay?” Alec asked.

“I can’t believe I’m in a lake. I'm in the water.” Magnus answered happily. Although still a little nervous as he looked around them at the water. Alec let his boyfriend get comfortable.

The sheer joy on Magnus’ face amid his bundle of nerves, made Alec smile. There was an innocence in Magnus’ eyes that he’s never seen before. Alec wanted to see more of it, wanted to preserve it. This was one side of Magnus he had wanted to bring out. This sort of happiness.

“I want to try going under.” Magnus suggested after a while, looking at Alec wide-eyed.

“Are you sure?” Alec asked. He was concerned Magnus may be taking this a little too quickly. Magnus nodded, a mixture of nerves and excitement. “Okay.” Alec agreed.

Alec kept one hand on the ladder, and the other around Magnus’ waist. Magnus had both arms and legs wrapped around Alec. “Ready?” Alec asked. Magnus nodded.

Alec lowered both of them slowly. He stopped when Magnus flinched again, just as their shoulders went underwater. Once Magnus relaxed, Alec lowered both of them again, stopping every time Magnus showed any sign of discomfort.

“Just tell me if you want out of this. If you want me to stop.” Alec needed to say it. He needed to let Magnus know that he was in control, that he didn’t need to do it if he didn’t want to.

“I’m okay.” Magnus said again in assurance, still nervous but determined.

Inch by inch Alec lowered both of them in the water. As soon as Magnus’ nose went under water, he pushed himself up, breathing heavily as soon as he was in open air. “I can’t do it.” He said, genuine fear in his eyes. His hold around Alec tightened.

“It’s okay. I’m right here. I’ve got you. You’re safe.” Alec said soothingly, rubbing Magnus’ back until he calmed down. “Do you want to get out of the water?” Alec asked. Magnus shook his head.

“No. I’m alright here.” Magnus answered. “Just… I’ll just keep my head above the water for now, I think.” He took in deep breaths to calm himself down. “This, this is enough for now.”

“Okay.” Alec said.

*********
Magnus still stayed sitting on the ladder, his arms around Alec’s shoulders. Alec’s back was to him. They watched as the others played tag, with poor Max, being the smallest, having difficulty catching any of his older companions.

Magnus didn’t attempt to go underwater again. While he felt safe with Alec, and knew that he wouldn’t let Magnus drown, Magnus still couldn’t get over the trauma, the fear of not being able to breathe. The fear was almost paralysing. But he found the courage to at least try and get into the lake. He took that as a win. He’d faced a part of his fear. He found confidence, and he knew that it was because Alec was there with him.

“I love you, too.” He felt Alec tense up, and then turn around, wide-eyed.

Magnus blinked nervously. “I know I should have said it earlier.” He said, almost in a whisper. “And I wanted to say it to you that night. But-”

Alec cut him off with a kiss. Magnus relaxed into it and returned the kiss once he got over the surprise. Alec pulled him closer, kissing him deeper. Magnus whimpered at the loss when Alec pulled back slightly, sweeping his eyes to look at Magnus before swooping down again to connect their lips.

“Ahhhh, my eyes! Jace I’m blind. My eyes! They burn!”

Max’s overly dramatic scream made both Magnus and Alec pull back. There were shouts of ‘Get a room!’ and ‘Keep it PG!’ from the others.

Alec rested his forehead on Magnus’, his eyes closed. He was turning red from his siblings’ teasing and Magnus couldn’t help but chuckle.

He looked up at Magnus. “Excuse me a moment while I go murder my siblings.” He said, in a sweet tone. He gave Magnus another quick kiss. “I love you.” He said with a big smile that reached his eyes.

“I love you, too.” Magnus replied back. “Now, go. And remember not to leave any evidence.” He reminded. Those kids needed to be taught a lesson for interrupting their alone time. He climbed back up the ladder and sat on the boardwalk just as Alec chased after his siblings. It was no surprise that he had caught Max first.

*********
The next day they had woken up a little earlier to go for a walk. Once they returned, Max had insisted he wanted to go swimming again. Their fun was interrupted by Sebastian and his friends arriving. The Morgenstern cabin was just on the other side of the lake. Since he was generally behaving himself, save for a couple of lingering looks at Alec which Magnus chose to let go, they let him and his friends stay. Overall they were having a good time.

Magnus wasn’t keen to do a repeat of yesterday’s event of facing his fear, so he opted to watch the others from the boardwalk again, his book in hand. At least his feet were dipped in the water this time. Izzy and Clary were both lazing on the beach chairs close to where Magnus was sitting. Alec and his brothers plus Simon were in the water or jumping off the swing rope into the lake. At some point, they started a game of tag that quickly escalated to pushing each other off the barge and into the water. Sebastian and his friends had even joined the game.

Magnus wasn’t exactly sure what happened. He could hear the giggles and the laughter from the others as he read his book. And then next thing he knew, he was pushed off, and he was underwater.

Panic set in. He was disoriented. He swallowed water and he couldn’t breathe. He could hear shouts, faintly, but he didn’t know where it was coming from. He couldn’t breathe. When he looked up, he saw his father’s blurry face above the water. He could feel himself being held down, deeper into the water. He tried to flail, push himself up. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get out of the water. His eyesight started to darken, he couldn’t breathe.

He felt arms pull him up and he coughed and spluttered, gasping for air as soon as he was out of the water. In his panic, Magnus tried to push away whoever it was that was holding him.

“Magnus, it’s me!” He heard Alec’s voice, felt Alec’s hands on his face making him look at him. “It’s Alec. You’re safe. You’re okay. I’m here.” He heard Alec say again.

Magnus hugged Alec tight, but he couldn’t stop his whole body from shaking. He knew he was crying, but he couldn’t stop that either. He could vaguely hear Alec barking instructions at his siblings. He could hear Clary’s voice screaming in the background. Everything was happening all at once. It was too much. Magnus switched off. He lost consciousness.

********
When Magnus woke up, he was greeted by a young Max Lightwood on the bed beside him, staring.

“Alec just went to the bathroom.” Max said softly, brows knit and eyes full of concern just like how his older brother would look. “He didn’t want to leave you by yourself in case you woke up. So he told me to stand guard.” He looked at his current position. “I got tired standing.” He admitted.

That made Magnus laugh. “Thank you, Max.”

“Don’t tell Alec I lay down.” The boy pleaded.

“It’ll be our little secret.” Magnus said with a smile. He stretched, his muscles ached no doubt from how tense he was. Memories of the incident flashed in his head but he shook them off. He really didn’t want to relive them. His throat felt parched. “Want to join the others downstairs?” He asked.

Max sat up and got off the bed but waited for Magnus to do the same. He stood at attention ready to help Magnus in case anything happened. It was quite endearing.

“Max, I’m fine.” Magnus assured him. He straightened his shirt, which turned out to be Alec’s shirt, and walked out of the room with Max.

*******
They found the others sitting in the kitchen.

“Izzy, Izzy. Why don’t you help me put the dishes away instead?” Magnus heard Simon say. The boy was pulling his girlfriend away from the stove.

“But I want to cook some soup for Magnus.” Izzy reasoned but followed Simon anyway.

“We’ve got that covered. You don’t need to help.” Jace said, him and Alec both somewhat standing guard in front of the stove.

Alec was the first one who saw Magnus and Max by the entrance to the kitchen.

“Hey,” Alec greeted, walking towards Magnus and cupping his face with his hands. “I was going to come check on you but we had an Izzy emergency. How are you feeling?” Alec spoke so softly, Magnus was sure it was just him who could hear.

“I'm fine now, Alexander.” He assured his boyfriend, smiling. He knew Alec had no doubt been very concerned over what happened. Alec still looked worried but at least took Magnus’ word for it. They shared a quick kiss.

“Dinner will be ready soon.” Alec whispered.

Magnus took the seat on the dining table beside Clary. Her hand was bandaged. “What happened to your hand?” He asked, concerned.

Clary rubbed her hand. “It accidentally fell on Sebastian’s face. More than once.” She said proudly.

“In full force.” Simon added. “It was awesome. I wanted to shout ‘unleash the Clary’ when I saw it.”

“It was very impressive.” Jace piped in.

“And you all just watched her do this?” Magnus asked, shocked.

“Pfft, of course not.” Jace admitted. “We let Izzy jump in. That was fun.”

Magnus’ eyes grew wide, looking to the others to explain further. He looked at Alec who somehow chose that time to watch what he was slicing. Magnus knew Alec wasn’t there to witness it since he was the one who brought Magnus into the house. But he found it suspicious that Alec wasn’t voicing a possible reprimand for the teenagers’ behaviour. He may have seen Alec’s lip twitch up a bit in a smirk.

“Clary went ballistic when Sebastian pushed you in the water. I had to go and help.” Izzy continued to explain. “Besides, he did it on purpose.”

“That's still not a reason to punch him.” Magnus said a little scandalised. “He probably didn't know I was afraid of the water.”

“Oh, he did. Tried to lie his way out of it, said it was just a joke.” Clary said. “But I know he heard you and Alec talking about trying to go in the water again. He even asked Max why.”

Max nodded. “I told him it was because you couldn't swim.” The young boy admitted.

Magnus and Alec looked at each other. It was the reason they told the younger Lightwoods when they asked about Magnus not joining them in the lake. And Magnus never told Simon and Clary the real reason, even if they had known him for a long time.

“He's an ass. Wait til I tell Lydia and Aline what happened.” Izzy said. “We're sorry he did that, Magnus.” She apologised. Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“Rest assured he won't be spending any more time with us this weekend.” Jace chuckled. “And the best thing is, he won't be telling anyone he got his ass kicked by two 90-pound girls.”

Everyone laughed. Even Alec smiled a bit.

Magnus took Clary’s injured hand and kissed her knuckle. “Thank you, biscuit.” He said.

Clary hugged him. “Anytime, Magnus. We protect our own.” She said. “Besides, I still kept my promise about stopping you from punching him. Kind of. We didn’t say anything about me doing the punching.” They both laughed. They didn't bother to explain it to the others despite the confused looks.

**********
After dinner, they all decided to stay in and watch TV. It had rained while they were having dinner so their plans to sit around a campfire to make s’mores and tell scary stories were thrown out the window.

“I happened to bring some horror movies though.” Simon announced from his perch on the floor by the single seater where Izzy was sitting. “And I downloaded some classics like The Shining and Arachnophobia.”

“Arachnophobia. That sounds good. Let’s watch it.” Izzy said happily.

Alec groaned when everyone agreed. Simon promptly got up to get his laptop.

Magnus looked at him. “You don’t like horror movies?” Alec shook his head and buried his face at the crook of Magnus’ neck. They were sitting on the large couch, Alec’s legs draped over Magnus’, and they were sharing a blanket.

“He scares easy.” Max said smugly from his seat on Magnus’ other side.
“You do, too.”

“Yes, but I’m eleven.” Max answered smartly. Alec threw a pillow at him but missed.

“You should’ve seen him when we watched The Ring. The japanese version.” Jace teased. He was sitting with Clary on the floor by Magnus’ and Alec’s feet.

“Says you, Jace.” Izzy butt in. “I know you slept in Max’s room a week after that coz you were scared the ghost was gonna come out of the TV in your room.” Jace threw a pillow at his sister. Izzy ducking away and successfully avoiding getting hit.

Simon returned interrupting the siblings throwing each other under the bus. As the movie started, Magnus made to get up but Alec stopped him.

“Where are you going?” He asked, voice slightly panicked.

“Uh, to get some water?” Magnus said, unsure.

“Do you have to go now?” Alec asked.

“No?” Magnus said again, still unsure.

“Good.” Alec said, and pulled him closer. “You have to stay here. You have to protect me.” He snuggled closer, and the movie started.

As the movie played, Magnus noticed Max move closer to where he and Alec were sitting. Then Jace and Izzy. And then it was Clary and Simon. Those two he expected. When he babysat them, they used to watch horror movies and got scared of them. Magnus looked around at the people around him. He thought about Ragnor and Cat always being there for him. All of them he cared for, loved deeply. And from what happened the past couple of days, especially today. How protective of him they were. And he felt thankful. Maybe he didn’t have a family. But he knew, especially right now, that he was loved.

Chapter Text

Alec hit the little bell on the kitchen counter to let the wait staff know the order was ready. The double  swing doors to the kitchen opened and he tried to do a quick look around on the restaurant floor. He had never been this nervous at work before. A few weeks after they returned from their little vacation, Alec met with Luke and Alaric who both approved one of his recipes to be included in the new season menu special. Magnus was the first one he told about the news.

Tonight was going to be the first night they were serving it to the public. Alec wasn’t worried about how the public would take to the recipe. Well, maybe he was a little worried. Alright, he was very worried. But having Magnus and his siblings, with Simon and Clary, being in the restaurant as guests there tonight also made him excited. It wasn’t even anything new for the group - well most of them anyway. Since Magnus and his siblings were practically his taste testers whenever he cooked up something new. But somehow, this time it was different. It was more special.

“They’re not here yet.” Alaric said from the other side of the kitchen counter, reading the worried look on Alec’s face. “I’m pretty sure Maureen will tell you the moment they arrive. Now relax and get back to work.” He said with a chuckle. Alaric and the other kitchen staff have been teasing Alec since they found out Magnus and his siblings had made a reservation especially to try and Alec’s recipes.

Alec flashed a big smile and went back to his station. He knew what time they made the reservation. So really, he shouldn’t be this on-edge. But he just couldn’t help it. Besides, he looked at the clock. It was already their reservation time on the dot. They were probably going to run late.

“Alright!” Alaric called out from the front of the kitchen, a big smile on his face and holding the usual piece of paper with the list of orders. “Someone wants the Alec Lightwood special, hold the shirt, and pants on the side.”

“Yes, chef!” The other guys shouted, and then a flurry of chuckles.

Alec paled, and then quickly turned beet red. He should have expected that. It was an opportunity for his siblings (and Magnus) to tease him. At work.

“Take five, Lightwood.” Alaric ordered. “Go say ‘hi’ to your guests.” He chuckled again.

Alec just nodded. Still speechless, and blushing, he wiped quickly finished the dish he was plating, washed his hands and headed out the kitchen.

“Such prompt service.” Magnus stood up and greeted him with a cheeky grin. “My red lobster.” He teased, giving Alec a kiss on the cheek. Alec just rolled his eyes finally confirming the mastermind behind the hoax order. His siblings loved embarrassing him because he was their older brother. Magnus loved to do it to make Alec blush, which Magnus had admitted several times that he found it cute. A fact which made Alec blush in itself. It was a vicious cycle. One Alec didn’t know how to stop. And he wasn’t sure if he wanted it to.

There was a chorus of ‘Hi, Alec!’ from the table where the rest of the group were sat. Jace’s voice was slightly muffled by the menu, which he seemed to be closely inspecting.

“You’re late.” Alec commented, narrowing his eyes at Magnus. The group had spent most of the afternoon hanging out at Magnus’ place since Max wanted to see Chairman and Church and it was one of Magnus’ rare days off while classes haven’t started yet..

“I know.” Magnus said, eyes only slightly apologetic. “But we have a valid excuse.”

“Which is?” Alec raised a brow looking at his boyfriend and then at his siblings.

“We played Jenga. And Jace lost.” Max grinned. So did the others.

“And?” Alec now had both brows raised as he waited for further explanation.

Clary, with a big smile on her face, pushed away the menu that Jace was holding. Alec’s eyes grew wide and then he chuckled. “Rocking the guyliner and the -” He made a hand gesture at his brother’s face.

“Smokey eyes.” Magnus kindly finished the sentence.

“Yes. That.” Alec said.

“He wouldn’t let us put the glitter though.” Izzy teased, putting her arm around her brother and pouting.

“I still think you should have let them put the red lipstick on you.” Simon commented happily, arms folded while looking at Jace. “Would have completed the look.”

Jace glared at him.

Clary chuckled, giving Jace a comforting rub on the shoulder. “I still think you look very handsome.” She said giving him a kiss on the cheek. “Come on, stop sulking. Makeup isn’t just for girls. And you’re rocking it like Magnus.” She looked up, smiling at Magnus. Alec couldn’t help but agree.

“I’m not sulking about the makeup. I trust Magnus did a good job. And I know I look good.” Alec couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Jace had always been confident.

“I’m sulking because I know someone nudged the table.” Jace shot a look at his sister. “Or at least one of you.” He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Max who stared back at him with a poker face. Jace has always been competitive, and he hated losing.

“Sounds like there’s going to be a rematch.” Magnus said. Alec could bet on it.

“Anyways,” Alec changed the subject. “I really should be getting back to work. Luke told me the food is on the house today but please don’t order everything.” He eyed his siblings, particularly Jace and Max who both tried to look as innocent as possible. He signalled for one of the wait staff to come over. “I’ll see you later.” He said, giving Magnus one last quick kiss on the lips. He ruffled Max’s hair and then left for the kitchen.

*******

Alec didn’t see much of Magnus, Clary, Simon and his siblings until his shift ended before closing time. He found the group still at their table having what was no doubt a second round of desserts. He pulled a chair from the empty table nearby and took his place beside Magnus.

“I can’t breathe. Too full.” Izzy commented, rubbing her tummy.

“That dinner was awesome. Compliments to the chef.” Simon mirrored his girlfriend, hand lazily pointing to Alec before dropping it to his side. Clary, Jace and Max all nodded in agreement.

“I will be sure to tell the team.” Alec said, a bright smile on his face. It always gave him joy seeing people satisfied with something he had created, or in this case, helped create.

His attention was caught when Magnus took his hat off and started carding his fingers through Alec’s hair to fix it. “I spied on the other tables. So many people ordered your dish. I think it was at every table.” Magnus said proudly.

“Did they now?” Alec asked, suppressing a grin.

Magnus nodded with a satisfied smile. “Congratulations! I’m so proud of you.” He said softly so that only Alec could hear. The compliment warmed Alec’s heart. Hearing that Magnus was proud of his work made him beam with happiness. It made what Alec thought of as a mere hobby, be more special. Alec whispered his thanks before connecting their lips. It was brief, but chaste, and full of love.

He was slightly surprised that none of his siblings bothered to tease him and Magnus about their semi-public (the restaurant was almost empty save for 2 other couples) display of affection. So a way to shut them up was to fill them with good food.

They left the restaurant not long after. It was getting late after all. And Max was starting to fall asleep. Probably from getting too full.

“I’ll call you tomorrow? After work?” Alec asked Magnus as they stood in front of Alec’s car in the alley close to the Jade Wolf. They were waiting for Simon who had gone to get his van having parked it at a different place. Alec’s siblings had been staying with him for the past week while they were still on break from school and their parents were away. It was also a good chance for their housekeeper - Mrs Milligan - to take time off.

Magnus nodded. “Tomorrow, I get to pick Imogen’s next dress from Spiral Labyrinth’s new evening gown line.” He said excitedly. Alec didn’t know much about clothes, and styling someone, but he always liked it when Magnus shared things with him. Especially what he did for his other jobs.

“We. We get to see it!” Izzy corrected, her head sticking out from the passenger seat of the car.

“Yes. Of course, Isabelle. I haven’t forgotten.” Magnus responded. Izzy sat back with a satisfied grin on her face. “Anyway,” Magnus said placing his hands on Alec’s hips. “I also meant to ask you. How do you feel about visiting the foster house with me on our next day off?” He asked. Alec could sense a little uncertainty in Magnus’ voice. “I know we kind of talked about it before -”  

“I would love to.” Alec responded, cutting him off. Magnus had become more open with Alec about his past. But there were still these moments of of hesitance that he could see his boyfriend pushing up against. Now Magnus somehow had this internal conflict, probably doubt, as to how Alec would see things. They had talked about visiting the orphanage before. And Magnus had been quite open to it. But that was before he had told Alec about the more traumatic and darker parts of his history.

“Great.” Magnus beamed. “I will tell Jem.” He said nodding, the flash of doubt faded away. Alec pulled him in for another kiss, just to reassure Magnus. And because he felt like it.

Simon arrived with the van a few minutes later. And the two groups parted ways.

********

It was another week and a half before they found a common day off to actually go to the foster house. Alec nervously wiped his palms of the side of his jeans. He had been confident and excited about meeting Jem and seeing the house Magnus once considered home. Up until they got to the last block and he saw the house in the vicinity. Magnus had insisted they take public transport. Jem had offered to take them both out to dinner after spending the afternoon at the foster house. And with Catarina and Ragnor deciding to join in, Magnus was sure the night was going to end up with them going to a bar and drinking. Magnus had wanted Alec to enjoy the night without having to worry about being the designated driver.

“Are you okay?” Magnus asked, brows creased, looking at Alec with concern.

Alec smiled, genuinely, despite his heart beating really fast. It had dawned on him on their walk to the house that he was practically meeting Magnus’ parent - or at least someone who raised him. Ragnor and Catarina, over a few drinks a couple of nights ago, had mentioned Jem (and Will, another person whom Alec had yet to meet) that Jem could sometimes get quite protective of Magnus. He was like a younger brother after all. Ragnor didn’t really elaborate much on that subject.

From what Alec heard from Magnus, Jem was a gentle soul, who could not and would not hurt a fly. Still Alec couldn’t help but think that he - Alec - wasn’t a fly. He didn’t know what Jem did to Alecs if Alec were to ever hurt Magnus. Not that he would. Ever.

Furthermore, he felt that he had to impress Jem somehow. The man was clearly someone Magnus looked up to. He was very special to Magnus. So Alec had to prove to this man that he was worthy of Magnus’ affections.

“I’m fine.” Alec said to himself and Magnus. He could see the worry in Magnus’ eyes. It was enough for him to push his nerves away lest Magnus interpret it as hesitance on Alec’s part. He smiled again, kissing Magnus’ forehead.

“Are you sure?” Magnus asked again.

Alec nodded. “I’m sure. I’m a little nervous.” He admitted, deciding he didn’t want to lie to his boyfriend. “He is kind of like your parent, after all. And I want him to like me.”

Magnus smiled. “He’ll love you.” No sooner had Magnus’ lips touched Alec’s, had the door to the house opened. A boy around Izzy’s age, with dark hair and a grumpy look on his face, greeted them. Alec recognised him as Raphael from the fair Catarina organised a couple of months ago, though they really didn’t get to speak much.

“Hello, grumpy.” Magnus greeted with a smile. “You remember Alec.” He said stepping into the house.

Raphael looked at Alec and then Magnus. “I can’t tell. Last time I saw him he had a Magnus glued to his face.”

“Oh you mean like-”

“No!” Raphael’s hand shot up stopping Magnus from whatever it was he was about to do. Alec just watched the exchange, quite amused. “I remember. Hello, Alec.” Raphael addressing him properly, Alec doing the same. “Jem’s just on a phone call.” He said, leading them towards the lounge.

It wasn’t long before Zoe and some other children Alec had never met before, came to greet Magnus. There was a flurry of Alec being introduced to each one only being interrupted when a man of slender build, tall, with silver hair entered the room.

“Jem!” The man approached Alec and Magnus with a smile.

“Magnus.” Jem said before stretching his hand towards Alec. “You must be Alec. Jem Carstairs.”

“Nice to finally meet you.” The two shook hands exchanging more pleasantries. Alec relaxed slightly. Jem gave off that friendly and warm vibe. And the more they spoke, Alec felt a lot more at ease. Jem was a very nice person, just like how Magnus had described him. “I’ve heard good things about you.”

Jem flashed him a warm smile. “I could say the same about you.” Alec didn’t miss the little look Jem gave Magnus, making the latter look down. Alec thought he saw Magnus’ ears turn slightly red. “Anyway, Magnus I trust you know where the kitchen is.” Jem said. “I just have one more phone call to make and then I will join you two for some tea.”

Alec followed Magnus and Jem out of the lounge and into the kitchen. Jem disappeared to his office not long after.

Magnus took Alec on a brief tour of the house showing him his old room - which was now occupied by Raphael. Afterwards the two found themselves sitting close to the little playground outside where some of the kids were playing. Jem’s phone call had taken a little longer than he had hoped. Not that Alec nor Magnus minded. Much as Alec was there to meet Jem, he and Magnus also went there to visit the kids. It was something Magnus did from time to time.

“It’s a big house. And the grounds, too.” Alec commented looking around the backyard garden.

“Larger than most foster houses.” Magnus said from his seat, a cup of coffee in hand. “The Carstairs were rich, old-money kind of rich.” He added. “But they were big on their humanitarian efforts.” He took a sip of his coffee. “They wanted to have a big family but had difficulty conceiving even Jem. So they put their two passions together and opened their home to become foster parents.” Alec could tell there was a lot of weight from Magnus’ words. There was a tinge of sadness in his eyes when he spoke about the Carstairs, but Alec knew he didn’t want to show it. “Lucky for me, they took me in. And that Jem decided to continue his parents’ legacy.”

Alec sat down beside Magnus who pointed towards the area closer to the fence. “There used to be a gazebo at the back where Mrs Carstairs told us stories before afternoon nap time.”

“What happened to it?” Alec asked.

“Oh, I’m not sure you’re ready for that tale quite yet.” Jem interrupted, taking one of the empty seats and pouring himself a cup of tea. Alec looked at him confused, and curious. He didn’t miss how Magnus had gone quiet and wouldn’t make eye contact.

“There’s a story here.” Alec commented, piqued.

“Indeed.” Jem grinned as he took a sip, once again Alec catching him shoot a look at Magnus.

Alec looked at his boyfriend. Waiting.

“I still maintain that I was only trying to help mow the lawn.” Magnus put both his hands up in defense.

“The lawn doesn’t include the gazebo.”

Magnus shrugged, opening and closing his mouth to find words. “Well, had I not done what I did, we may never have discovered the termite infestation which could have spread through to the house.” Magnus put both his hands up in defense. “So really, I saved the house.”

“Of course.” Jem confirmed. “Terminate the termites by driving the ride along mower through the gazebo.” Alec’s eyes grew wide, looking at his boyfriend in shock. Yet still wanting to know more. He looked at Jem who smiled at him.

“No one was hurt.” Jem assured. “Although, I did get a very frantic call from dad and mom at an ungodly hour.”

“I was banned from helping out in the yard after that.” Magnus admitted, sinking into his seat a little, blushing a little. “Is this what tonight is going to be like the whole time?You telling Alec about my childhood mishaps.”

Jem shrugged. “Only if it comes up. Or if he asks.”

Alec lit up, opening his mouth only for Magnus’ hand to clamp down on it. “Don’t even.” He warned, but more like pleaded.

Alec pulled Magnus’ hand off. “Okay.” He said. Magnus relaxed. “I mean, not right now. But maybe later.” He added. Magnus’ eyes grew wide, horrified, and Jem laughed.

“I like him already.” Jem commented, taking another sip of his drink.

******

Alec stayed true to his word, and didn’t ask much about Magnus’ childhood antics after that. He bided his time. He and Jem instead got into talking about managing the foster house and Alec working with Luke at the Jade Wolf or Alec’s studies.

Towards the evening, they all moved to the kitchen to prepare the kids’ meals. Alec, of course, was more than happy to take charge of that. Dinner wasn’t as chaotic as the clean up. Magnus and Alec were left to wash the dishes while Jem went to get the younger kids ready for bed. Zoe hung back a little to ask Alec about Max and when she can see him again. The two had become instant friends at the fair. But haven’t really gotten another opportunity to see each other.

“I’m gonna go home soon.” Zoe told Magnus and Alec excitedly. “Jem took me to see dad at the hospital and he’s doing really well. Soon he can go back to work and we can both go home.”

“That’s very good to hear, sweet pea.” Magnus said smiling at her. “Now, go on. Off to bed.” She gave both Magnus and Alec a hug goodnight.

Magnus lead Alec to the small library adjacent to Jem’s office  while they waited for Jem. Catarina and Ragnor had texted them earlier saying they were on their way.

Alec walked around looking at the books and the photos around the library. Among the photos were a couple in their mid to late forties - they were Mr and Mrs Carstairs. The couple were also in a lot of photos with kids - sort of a class picture. Alec assumed all of them were previous residents of the house. Magnus refused to show him where he was in the photos, but it didn’t take Alec long before he found him.

Afterwards, it was easy to spot where Magnus was. There was one photo, where Magnus was a little too skinny for Alec’s liking. Magnus told him it was taken on his three-month anniversary at the Carstairs house. He was smiling in the photo as he sat with a younger-looking Jem, another man around Jem’s age at the time whom Alec assumed was Will, and a lady of the same age, whom he assumed was Tessa.

“That was the first time I met all three of them.” Magnus said over Alec’s shoulder. “I was so skinny because I just refused to eat. Even if Mrs Carstairs’ cooking was amazing.” He added then went to sit on one of the armchairs, perusing through the book that was on the side table.

“It’s nice to put faces to names.” Alec commented looking at the photo closer. “Ragnor told me Jem and Will were inseparable. I can kind of see it even in the picture.” He turned around and went to sit by Magnus.

“Yup. Those three.” Magnus adjusted his position to make space for Alec on the chair. “Even now. Although it’s a bit more difficult since Will and Tessa are in London. So they take turns visiting each other. It’s a long distance relationship but if anyone can make it work, those three can.”

Their conversation was interrupted by Catarina and Ragnor arriving. Soon after, Jem finally got the last of the kids to bed and had left instructions to Raphael and one of the staff on duty to stay with the children while Jem was out.

*******

Alec didn’t quite grasp a full understanding as to why Magnus loved making him blush, until he found himself in Magnus’ shoes, watching Magnus’ face turn redder by the second and trying to hide his embarrassment behind his hands.

They had been in the bar for a few hours now having managed to secure a table in a quiet corner. It wasn’t long after they sat down that the topic turned into Magnus’ misadventures as a child. Alec didn’t even need to ask about them to start with. The other three were more than willing to share, much to Magnus’ useless efforts to try and stop them.

“Now the sleeping aids are tame compared to what other over-the-counter medications Magnus has used.” Catarina said. The little incident about Clary and Izzy helping Sebastian with his car sickness was somehow brought up. And Catarina, Ragnor and Jem were more than happy to share more about Magnus’ pranks.

“What else has he used?” Alec asked looking at Magnus, who was trying to look confident but ultimately failing.

“He once-” Catarina started.

“Three times, different schools.” Jem corrected.

“Okay. Three times.” Catarina acknowledged. “He snuck into the teacher’s lounger and put laxatives in the coffee. Safe to say, school was cancelled that day. And the day after that.”

“Hey. I was a hero for those two days.” Magnus said in defense. “And I would have gotten away with it if little Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes didn’t rat me out to the principal.”

“He was expelled from that school.” Jem looked at Magnus as if to scold him. “And then the next school he did the same thing, but just one teacher.”

“He deserved it. He gave me a low score on my essay just because he didn’t like me.” Magnus explained again.

“Every one of my gray hairs has Magnus’ name written on it.” Jem commented. “And I wasn’t even looking after him fully when these things happened.”

“So what about the cow dung in the principal’s office?” Ragnor asked. Just like Alec, these were merely stories to him, having met Magnus later in his life. But stories that were still equally intriguing and interesting stories nevertheless.

“Cow dung?” Alec asked looking at Magnus. “From where?”

“I took advantage to collect some from a farm during a school field trip.” Magnus murmured his answer into Alec’s arm.

“I still don’t know how they didn’t smell it in the school bus. It was in your bag.” Catarina commented then she and Jem both jumped into the opportunity to tell the story in more detail.

“Really?” Magnus spoke up after a while. “Was this your plan all along? Tell my boyfriend embarrassing stories about me?” He asked, putting one hand to his hip in protest.

“Yes.” The three answered in unison.

“But see, we haven’t embarrassed you enough.” Jem said, pulling his phone from his pocket and unlocking it.

“No!” Magnus gasped, reaching over to snatch Jem’s phone but Jem moved away.

“Alec, were you aware that Magnus went to the house two nights ago while you were at work?” Jem asked, looking through his phone.

Alec frowned. “No. Is that the errand you told me about?” He asked.

“No. The errand was to buy cat food,” Magnus explained, reaching over to Jem again but failing. “And then I took a side trip.” He admitted, huffing in frustration.

“Anyway, would you like to know why?” Jem asked grinning.

“Sure.” Alec responded, still confused. Catarina and Ragnor both looked on.

“Really, Jem. I expected this from Will but not you.” Magnus folded his arms across his chest in one last ditch of protest. "You're supposed to be the nice one.

“Didn’t you find it odd,” Jem continued, ignoring Magnus’ sulking. “That there wasn’t a single picture of Magnus as a teenager in the library or in the house for that matter?”

Alec blinked, trying to browse through his memory. “Now that I think about it. There wasn’t one.” He looked at Jem then at Magnus. "Why is that?"

“That’s because Magnus removed all of them when he came over. Put them in a box in my office. Luckily,” Jem held his phone up, screen facing Alec. “Tonight, I got digital copies. Would you like to see them Alec?”

Alec felt Magnus cup his face to make him look at him. “Darling,” Magnus said, swallowing hard, and looking Alec in the eye. “Whatever it is that you see in those photos, please know that I was a misguided teenager who didn’t know any better.”

“You’re still as dramatic as ever.” Jem commented earning a shush from Magnus.

“Look at me now. Remember my face. This perfectly put together face that you love.” Magnus pointed to his face. “Promise?”

“Uh,” Alec stole a sideways glance at Catarina, Ragnor and Jem before bringing his attention back to Magnus. “Sure?” He said, cleared his throat and said the word again without the rising intonation.

“Promise not to laugh?” Magnus asked, brows knit, and eyes locked with Alec, who nodded.

“You are so going to break that promise.” Ragnor commented as Jem handed the phone to Alec.

And break it he did. Alec didn’t mean to, he even tried to suppress the initial smile. But seeing the photo with Magnus in oversized clothes - which were clearly the fashion at the time - his hair in cornrows and several other hairstyles - pushed him over the edge, and he finally laughed.

“Aw, you looked like you were a member of a boy band in this one.” Alec teased, making Magnus blush a lot more, hiding his face on the back of Alec’s shoulder, groaning loudly. Each time Alec saw and new picture, Magnus groaned a bit more.

“Please stop.” He whined.

“I already saw all of them.” Alec said softly, giving the phone back to Jem. Magnus hid his face again.

“You still love me, right?” Magnus emerged after a beat, resting his chin on Alec’s shoulder.

“Uh, I don’t know.” Alec said, crunching his nose. “If the cornrows are coming back, I may have to reconsider.” He said. He couldn't help but tease his boyfriend a bit more. Magnus frowned, his lower lip sticking out. Alec definitely thought that was cute. He leaned in, kissing Magnus on the lips. “I still love you.” He assured.

Magnus brightened up, and stuck his tongue out at Jem, Ragnor and Catarina. “He still loves me.” He said proudly.

********

Their night carried on, this time with less teasing at Magnus’ expense. Catarina, Ragnor and Magnus all consumed a bit more alcohol than Jem and Alec. The three had taken over the juke box and were currently dancing on the small dance floor on the other side of the room.

Alec didn’t even know he had a big smile on his face as he watched Magnus do a spin while he danced.

“You mean it right?” Jem asked, looking at him. “You really do love him?” His tone and his face was a lot more serious than Alec had seen before. It was kind, and Alec could see the care in his eyes. But there was also worry. Worry about and for Magnus. That he might get hurt.

Alec nodded. “I do.” He said, feeling the need to confirm it aloud. “I love him.”

“Good.” Jem said, raising his glass in a toast. Alec responding by clinking the beer bottle in his hand. “Take good care of him. He deserves to be happy.”

Alec nodded again. He was still learning about Magnus’ life. But from what Magnus had told him so far, he had a better understanding. Why everyone he’s met in Magnus’ life wanted to protect him.

*******

Time had a habit of passing by fast. And once again, and suddenly they were already in the middle of another semester.

On a quiet Saturday night, when neither of them had any assignments or pressing matters or plans to attend to, Alec and Magnus found themselves cuddling on the sofa. They spent a lovely day out in the sun, strolled along the Saturday Farmer's market at a nearby park close to Magnus’ loft. Then finally went back to Magnus' place to hang out. In the evening, as was now the usual, dinner was courtesy of Chef Lightwood. Magnus had started calling him that after Alec passed his certification advancing his culinary certificate.

Now, the TV was off, and it was late enough for the traffic outside to have come to a serene lull. They have been together for over a year now. Catarina teased them that their relationship was a full term baby and already pooping. They sat in silence, enjoying each other's company, comfortable and being physically intimate but not in a sexual way.

Alec's head was on Magnus' lap. Magnus' left hand drawing lazy circles on Alec's left hand which was resting on his chest. They sat watching each other and enjoying each other's presence.

Alec reached up and traced a line from Magnus' temple to his jaw. "Can I ask you a question?" Magnus responded with a quiet 'hmmm.'

"Did you always want to be a doctor?" Alec now just realised he's never asked Magnus this. He supposed it never really came up.

Magnus shook his head, his right index finger now tracing his boyfriend's hairline then he started playing with his hair.

"What made you want to?"

********

Silence fell between them, as Alec waited patiently for his lover to respond. Magnus continued his ministrations, tracing   the younger man's facial features. Magnus wasn't sure why Alec was asking. But Alec asked questions like this about him sometimes. To get to know his mind, as his boyfriend phrased it. In the early part of their relationship, Magnus deflected. Or kept his answers vague, generalised, with as little detail as possible. Alec never really pushed. Like he knew Magnus would clam up further if he did. Magnus was thankful for that. But now, now he trusted Alec. More than he's trusted anyone before. He loved Alec and Alec loved him. He knew Alec would understand.

“Will said I had a natural talent for it.” Magnus started. “When he realised, he used to make me help out when he did his free clinics at the foster house. It was to go alongside my college applications, was his and Jem’s excuse.” Magnus shrugged. “But it was probably more to prevent me from getting into any more trouble after that incident with Camille and Rolf.”

He felt Alec tense a little at the mention of the pair. He had told Alec that story a while ago. And once they got over that hurdle, Magnus felt more ready to open up. In fact, maybe telling Alec had helped him move on from it, after all those years.

"For a while, I went along with it. It was something to do.” Magnus admitted. “And I wanted to turn my life around, and I was good at science.” He shrugged again. “I’m pretty sure they were slightly horrified when I picked Pharmacy as my pre-med course. I mean considering my history with over and under the counter meds.” Both of them chuckled a little at that.

Magnus sighed loudly. “But now that I think about it a bit more. I think my wanting to be a doctor started with my parents," Magnus finally said.

*******

Alec watched as Magnus followed his own finger while continuing to trace lines on Alec's cheek

There was something in Magnus' eyes Alec couldn't quite place. There was that sorrow he'd seen before just lurking there. But there was also something else. Magnus was responding to his question. Although seeming to take the long way. Alec could not feel any trace of resistance or awkwardness like he used to, so he pressed on. "Did they want you to become one?" He asked.

Magnus shook his head again, his hand going back to caress Alec's hair. He looked up straight at nothing in particular across the room. "I was too young for us to have had a discussion about my career prospects before they passed away."

There was a pause. Somehow, Alec knew now was not the time for him to say something. He stayed still not wanting to disturb wherever it was that Magnus was now in. Instead, Alec gently and slowly intertwined his hand with Magnus' one, resting both on Alec's chest, and waited for Magnus to continue. It was a gesture to let his boyfriend know he was there. An anchor to ground him to this safe place, in case he drifted too far away into a nightmare.

“Dad started to beat Mom maybe a year after we moved here. He beat her. A lot. For-" He shook his head, the corner of his lips pulling down to a frown "- the minutest of reasons or no reason at all. I never really understood. At least not then. It was only later I found it was because he found out I wasn’t his child. That mom, maybe had an affair. Or something else. It was never really clear.” He swallowed. “All I saw was them laughing one minute, and then she might say something. Sometimes about me. And he'd suddenly get angry. He'd snap." Magnus continued.

Alec knew this, not the details of it. Because Magnus never talked about it. But he knew from Catarina and Magda. Alec had wanted to ask then but didn't really know how. When would it have been a good time to ask his boyfriend about his dark past? Was there even such a thing?

He decided not to interrupt. Magnus was opening up. "Sometimes I'd get hit, when I got in the way. Mostly it was her. But he'd always give me this look. This look of disgust." Magnus' face grimaced. "Like I was some filthy, disgusting, vile... creature." There was such pain in Magnus' eyes when he said that last word to refer to himself.

Alec wanted to refute it to reassure his boyfriend that it wasn't true. Magnus was beautiful. He was the most beautiful, caring human being Alec has ever known. He tightened his grip on Magnus' hand for support and assurance once again that he was there.

He was sure Magnus didn't even feel it as the older man continued with his story. "So mom would be covered in cuts and bruises. Black eye, broken lip.  And I'd help patch her up. I knew how to stitch up a pretty decent cut at the age of six. It never really occurred to me that maybe I should have taken her to the hospital instead. She'd probably have said no, anyway. She probably had broken bones that we never knew about."

Magnus was frowning now. "But even then, I never really thought about being a doctor. I did what they did, somewhat. But it didn't occur to me to become one. Maybe because I associated injuries with his abuse. That I had to patch her up because of him. I didn't associate it with helping people. At least not at the time."

Alec's throat was dry but he forced himself to speak. "So what did?"

"Mom killed herself," Magnus said bluntly, without emotion. Like it was just some random fact. His frown had faded and he again had this emptiness in his eyes. "I guess she couldn't take the abuse or anything else anymore and wanted it to end." He blinked, more as a routine rather than need.

Alec could see, Magnus was not really in his loft now, he was somewhere else, far away. It was like his boyfriend was taken back to that time, watching his story unfold before his eyes, reliving it again but just as a spectator. An indifferent spectator. "There was a ceiling fan in their room. And she used it to..."

He didn't continue. Alec knew he couldn't and understood. Finally after a beat, Magnus started speaking again. "I was playing downstairs. It was a sunny day. But I wasn't allowed to go out. That time she said not to go out. He was out of the house. And I heard a thud. I remember, I didn't run. I walked. Slowly. Up the stairs. The door was closed but not locked so I opened it." Magnus paused. "And there she was, on the floor. She wasn't moving. So I ran to her side. Now around this time, I have been exposed to medical shows and so I proceeded to do what they did when someone was unconscious."

"CPR," was all Alec could say. Magnus nodded.

"I pushed on her chest. And pushed again. And blew in her mouth. And pushed again." Magnus' brow was furrowed.  "I probably wasn't doing it properly. But at the time, I thought I was. I did it exactly as they did on TV." Alec sat up now and turned to face Magnus. Tears were streaming down his face but Magnus did not seem to notice. "I wasn't sure how long I had been there doing that. I wasn't sure when dad got there or when the paramedics came. I just remember thinking, 'why?' Why didn't it work? I was sitting in the hospital waiting room when I realized that maybe I didn't do it right. And that's why I couldn't save her. So from that time, I promised myself to learn the proper way. Like those doctors do. So that next time, next time, I will do it right."

Magnus' tears continued to flow. A bitter smile on his face. "How naive I was, not knowing that there wasn't going to be a next time."

Alec moved closer to Magnus and put his arm around the other man, resting his chin on Magnus' left shoulder as he wiped his tears. Magnus didn't look at him, didn't even flinch, he was still in that place. This wasn't the time for Alec to say anything. What could he say? He wasn't sure. So Alec waited. He didn't care how long. He'll wait until Magnus was ready to talk again.

"A year later, when I was 8, our class went to visit the fire station." Magnus continued, a small smile escaping his lips at the memory. "While all the other children were amazed at the big firetrucks and the sirens and the sliding poles. I was focused on the fact that the firemen knew CPR and first aid. And I wanted them to teach me. Properly. And they did. Well, as much as what they could teach an eight year old. It made me so happy. I understood then that Mom wasn't coming back anymore. But at least, if I ever needed to, I can do proper CPR. Maybe save a life."

Alec caressed the back of Magnus' neck not saying anything. Magnus was in a trance now. This was something he needed to talk about. So Alec let him.

"A week after that was my birthday. I hid in my room. Dad always got drunk on my birthday. Like really drunk. He didn't used to, but since I was four he did. He always gave Mom the worst beating during that day. I think it was because it reminded him I wasn't really his son. So my birthday was nothing to celebrate about. So I learned to stay out of the line of fire."

Alec's heart broke. Magnus said it so casually, like it was nothing. When they celebrated Magnus' birthday, Alec felt that something was off. Magnus was happy about it, yes. But there was a missing twinkle in his eye or his smile that Alec couldn't place. Like a part of Magnus was not really there. He wondered why Catarina made it a point to tell him to Make Magnus' birthdays special when they first started dating. Now he knew the reason, and seeing how detached Magnus is to the whole thing, it was squeezing Alec's heart so tight it made it difficult for him to breathe. He was hurting for Magnus.

"I could hear him shouting her name. Cursing. Furniture being thrown around. Glass breaking. And then nothing. I went to sleep. I figured, he must have passed out. Like he always did."

Magnus' silent tears have started to fall again. He hugged his knees to his chest, arms rubbing on each other. Alec shifted closer to him. "Only he didn't. I found him in the kitchen the next morning. He must have slipped and hit his head on the edge of the kitchen counter." Magnus started to shiver, Alec could only watch and move closer, enveloping his lover. "There was blood everywhere and I... I tried to stop it. I really tried. I did the bandage how they taught me and... And...."

"Ssshhh, it's okay. I'm here." Alec pulled him tighter, hands gently caressing Magnus' head and back trying to comfort him but he was inconsolable. Magnus was sobbing now, breathing becoming heavy. Magnus put his arms around Alec's neck and hugged him tight, crying face buried in the crook of Alec's neck.

"I couldn't save him. I couldn't save them. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Alec knew Magnus wasn't apologizing to him. It was directed at his parents or even to the universe or no one in particular. Somehow, Alec was reminded of the time Magnus told him about Rolf. When Magnus said he couldn't save anyone. Alec found those words odd at the time, like it felt a little out of place, even if the context fit into the situation. It was one of those random thoughts that Alec's brain shelved. Besides, there was a more pressing issue they needed to sort out then.

The pair stayed like that for hours. Alec gently rocking Magnus, hugging him tight and just letting him know he was not alone. Eventually, Magnus' cries grew quieter and quieter. Until he fell asleep. Alec carried him to the bedroom and placed him gently on the bed. Magnus curled himself into a slight fetal position, facing towards Alec. The younger man lay beside him and pulled him close. Alec wiped a single tear that escaped Magnus' eyes. Even in his sleep, he was still crying. Magnus whimpered which prompted Alec to move closer, putting his arms and legs around Magnus, like a cocoon. He didn't care that his limbs were going to be cramped and numb from Magnus' weight. Magnus calmed down, his breathing more steady as he drifted off to a more peaceful slumber.

Even though Alec's heart was breaking for his lover, he was thankful that Magnus shared this with him. It gave him a deeper understanding of his boyfriend. His desire to become a doctor, a healer, to save lives, was to make up for what he couldn't do for his parents. They were cruel to him, his father in particular from the sounds of it. Yet, still Magnus had wanted to save them.

Alec couldn't protect Magnus from the past, he knew that. Although some part of him was guilty that he didn't know his lover then, and couldn't be there for him when Magnus was left alone. Since he got to know Magnus, he had this urge, this instinctive need to protect him. To shower him with love and care and tenderness. It wasn't that he pitied Magnus - yes, his past was tragic - but it was not why Alec wanted to do these things. It was because despite being dealt with the cruel hand of fate so early in his life, Magnus still exhumed this positive radiance. His compassion for others, his determination. Alec loved these about him and more. Loved. Yes, loved. He loved Magnus. He loves Magnus. Alec smiled at the thought. He pulled Magnus even closer if possible.

He knew there was more to this story. All the happy and sad parts of his life. For now, Magnus finding peace and solace in his arms, he'd considered this a small victory.

**********

Magnus woke up feeling light, like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders, off his chest. He felt warm all over, what with his boyfriend's arms and feet wrapped around him and hugging him really close. He watched the gentle movement of Alec's chest, feel the other man's steady breath on his hair. Magnus dared to move his head slightly upwards, his fingers gently tracing the side of Alec's neck and up to his jaw. He tilted his neck back further until the tip of his nose was touching Alec's chin, the little stubble grazing the tip.

Magnus continued to admire this lovely (hunk of a) man, absorbing how beautiful and wonderful he is, shielding him from the big bad world. He broke down last night, he didn't mean to, but it happened. He bared a part of his soul to Alec, his biggest and most guarded secret, and the younger man did not flinch, did not show judgement. Just support. And love. Magnus never told that story to anyone, not even Catarina, or his foster parents, or the psychologists and the social workers. At least not like that, not the way he told Alec, showed Alec last night. Sure those people knew bits of what happened, but not really from Magnus' point of view. Alec had managed to make him talk about it, his motivations, just from one simple question. Last night, Magnus wasn't sure why, but he wanted to be completely honest with Alec. He knew he was not going to be judged or pitied unlike everyone else he's met who found out about his story. In Alec, he saw understanding, a genuine want to know what made Magnus who he is now. It made his heart flutter. No one has ever treated him like that before. No one had ever bothered to ask the right questions. The simple questions just because they wanted to get to know who Magnus was, understand his motivations, know how he thinks and what drives him. Only Alec. Oh, he loved this man. He loves this man. He loves Alec.

Alec finally stirred, shifting the shoulder he's been leaning on slightly into a more comfortable position but kept his arms wrapped around Magnus, his eyes remaining closed. "You're awake," he said.

"Yes," Magnus let out a little chuckle then carefully wrapped both arms around Alec's neck, his nose resting on Alec's Adam's apple. "Thank you for listening to me last night."

He felt Alec squeeze him, one arm around Magnus' neck and the other snaking down to his waist, pulling him closer so that they were fully and further pressed up against each other. "Thank you for telling me." A pause. Alec shifted until the were face-to-face. “Magnus, I want you to know that you’re a beautiful person.” He said. “You’re wonderful, and kind and compassionate. And you’re going to be the best doctor ever.” He praised, a big, wide smile on his face.

Magnus felt himself tear up a little but he held it back. He didn’t want to cry again. So he just smiled back, genuinely.

"Are you feeling better now?" Alec asked.

Magnus nodded. They hugged each other tighter, trying to pour all their feelings into it. And finally when that wasn't enough, Magnus pulled back and kissed Alec on the forehead, then on each eye, then on the cheek, and the other cheek. And finally, on the lips. A slow and languid kiss, full of emotion and reassurance. Alec responded with equal fervor. This kiss became hot and intense and deep, but it wasn't sexual. It was passionate.

"I love you." Magnus whispered into Alec's lips.

********

Alec blushed, he didn't even know why, he just did. Maybe he's still not as used to it as he thought. Or maybe because Magnus expressing his love for Alec now felt a little deeper, their connection stronger.

"I love you, too," Alec responded pulling Magnus in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

Alec entered the room quietly. Sitting on the bed, he placed his hand gently on the mound of duvet and pillows. “Magnus,” He said softly. “Time to get up.”

He heard a muffled moan, his hand moving minutely with his boyfriend's movement from under the covers. And then the stirring stopped. The side of Alec’s mouth twitched up slightly. Magnus was having one of those mornings. It was a weekend after all. And he rarely got a chance to sleep in. Nevertheless, they had somewhere to be in a few hours. Magnus had given him specific instructions and made him promise to wake him up early - albeit those instructions were given in the middle of the week when Magnus was not as tired as he was last night. Nevertheless, Alec was only following what he was told.

He pulled the covers back, revealing Magnus’ mop of black hair, messy and ungelled, his face buried in the pillow. “Wake up.” Alec said again, a little louder this time but still gentle. Magnus groaned, burying his head even further into the pillows. Alec leaned forward and kissed his boyfriend's shoulder. “Wake up. I made breakfast.” He bribed.

Magnus mumbled what sounded to Alec like “five more minutes” before pulling the covers back over his head.

“You said that 15 minutes ago.” Alec reminded. This wasn't his first attempt to wake Magnus up this morning. In fact this was his third attempt. The first being when he - Alec - got up earlier that morning. The second was fifteen minutes ago in the middle of him cooking their breakfast.

“Come on. You're the one who said to wake you up early so we can go to the hardware store and do your washing and clean the house and do the grocery shopping.” Alec listed the chores the way Magnus said them that week. “To be fair there was barely anything in the cupboards to make breakfast. So food shopping should be at the top of the list.” He added under his breath.

Between his studies and work, Magnus didn't have much time to do any food shopping, especially now. And had it not been for Alec, he would probably be living on cheap take outs, crackers, instant noodles, or coffee. Most days, Alec cooked them “real” food, or at least made sure to leave leftovers for Magnus to eat when Alec was at work. At least Magnus now remembers to have something to eat amidst his studying, unlike when he and Alec first started dating. Alec didn't mind cooking for him, of course. He loved to cook, it was his passion. And he loved to cook especially for the ones he loved. And he loved Magnus.

“Hey.” He gave Magnus another gentle shake but got no response. Alec sighed and pulled the covers down slightly, patting his boyfriend’s head, fingers lingering on Magnus’ hair.


Another incoherent, and annoyed, mumble came from the pillows. Alec didn't understand a word of it. He was sure Magnus wasn't even awake enough to understand a word of it. Alec pulled the covers back gently with no further protest from Magnus. He sighed as he watched his boyfriend fall sound asleep again.

Truly, Alec should be more sympathetic towards Magnus. The man worked and studied hard. He didn't get much sleep most of the time especially now that he was in his third year in medical school. He has had a few placements at the University hospital instead of lectures and this particular one on Friday finished over an hour than it was supposed to. Magnus got home and retired to bed late. Even with bowling night, Alec got home to Magnus’ place before him to make sure Chairman Meow and Church were fed.

Alec’s lips curled up a bit as his thoughts turned to the brass key to Magnus’ loft secured on a keychain in the bowl close to the front door. Magnus had given it to him a few months after university classes started. He'd said he had access to Alec's apartment -via Francis, the doorman - it was only fair that Alec could come and go to Magnus’ loft as he pleased. It wasn't a big event or anything. No big, awkward talk between them despite both of them knowing it was a big step in their (or any) relationship. But just like either of them gradually leaving pieces of clothing, and books and/or any of their things at each other's place, it was only natural that a key was included. While Alec enjoyed Magnus sleeping over at his apartment from time to time, Alec liked the idea of going home to Magnus’ loft better. Perhaps it was because while he was the only one in the apartment, he knew that it wasn't his own. His parents owned it. And the loft? Well, it was Magnus’ and to Alec, Magnus felt like home.

Alec shook himself out of his musings. They had plans for the day. Max had a soccer game at school that afternoon and Jace had a football game that night. Alec had made it a point to attend his brothers’ games when he could, especially since his parents never did. It was no different now. Both his parents were on yet another overseas trip. So, both he and Magnus promised they'd be there. But before that, there were a couple of chores - one of them was grocery shopping - Magnus was determined to get done. Hence, making Alec promise to wake him up early.

Alec grinned mischievously, then poked Magnus’ side with his finger. Magnus flinched, groaned and shifted away. Alec did it again, Magnus twitching from being tickled.

“Alec, don't. I'm not in the mood.” He complained brows creased, moving further away to Alec's usual side of the bed, but kept his eyes closed, wanting to get some more sleep.

“Get up. You're the one who has a lot on your to-do list. I'm merely your willing slave. And you promised Max we'd be at the game.” Alec tickled him a third time.

Magnus tutted, pushing Alec’s hand away, brows furrowed, and groaning, annoyed. “Alec, stop it.” He said again, more sternly, pushing Alec’s hand away again. “I want to sleep.”

“Magnus, babe. Come on.”

“Go away. Leave me alone. I don't like you anymore.” Magnus said, indignantly.

“You know if you get up now, we’ll have time to shower together.” Alec coaxed, grinning at all the possible things they could and probably will do that may or may not involve them getting clean.

“No.” Magnus responded abruptly taking Alec aback.

“Wow! That usually works.” Alec told himself, brows creased, maybe slightly offended at the surprise rejection and still wondering what happened. He looked at Magnus for a moment, blinking a couple of times. “Did you really just say no to the possibility of shower sex?” Alec wondered aloud.

Magnus didn’t respond, and just pulled the covers back up to his neck but a smile ghosted over his lips when Alec tickled him again, a bit more gentle this time.

“Aleeec!” Magnus whined, drawing out the vowel in Alec's name. “I said leave me alone.” He swatted Alec's tickling hand away. “I hate you. Go away.” Magnus let out a sound between a whine and a defeated (somewhat playful) chuckle.

That little movement from the side of Magnus’ lips encouraged Alec more. He didn't take Magnus’ words to heart. He knew better than to take the words of his tired and grumpy-from-sleep-deprivation boyfriend seriously. But still, he stuck out his lower lip in a pout, even if Magnus couldn't see.

Alec leaned forward, resting his chin on Magnus’ shoulder. He let out an exaggerated sulking sound to let Magnus know he was still pouting. Magnus, eyes still closed, brought his hand up from under the covers, and carded his fingers through Alec's hair. Alec shifted and let himself be pulled closer, making Magnus let out a sleepy but satisfied hum. They stayed cuddling for a couple of minutes. Alec enjoyed the soft caresses of Magnus’ fingers on his neck and hair, basking in the lingering sweet smell of passion fruit and roses from Magnus’ body wash, mixed in with the scent that was uniquely Magnus. If he could, he wanted to stay blissfully like this with this man forever.

Alec brought his mouth to Magnus’ ear, his hand placed gently on Magnus’ waist. “We really have to start getting ready.” He whispered softly.

“Noooo.” Magnus whined again, his face was all scrunched up in a frown that Alec found very cute. Magnus pulled Alec's arm around him to make them spoon closer. “Screw shopping. Screw chores. I want to sleep, and cuddle.” He scooted back again to lessen the gap between their bodies, if it was possible.

Alec's lips curled up into a smile, felt himself blush, even if he didn't know exactly why. Just that at this moment, on a completely ordinary morning, on what is probably going to be a particularly ordinary day, on what was a completely simple gesture, having Magnus close to him like this, warmed him to the core, and he felt an overwhelming happiness. Thank the gods, or fate, or destiny, whatever, for bringing this man into his life.

Magnus turned around sleepily, putting his arms around Alec’s neck until Alec found himself lying on his back with his boyfriend curled, or more like clinging, on top of him. Both of them were tangled in the fluffy duvet. Alec could feel Magnus’ warm breath on his neck and chest as Magnus tried to smoosh his face into the crook of Alec's neck. A slight tingle ran through Alec’s body as Magnus rubbed his nose against Alec's neck a couple of times, only stopping when he - Alec assumed - found and settled in a more comfortable position.

“I love you.” Magnus murmured into Alec's skin, making Alec smile.

“Really?” Alec asked, dubious. “I thought you said you don't like me anymore. In fact you said you hate me. Told me to go away.” Alec continued to sulk in pretense. He knew Magnus didn’t mean any of those words, but Alec was going to milk Magnus’ possible guilt for all its worth.

Magnus shook his head. “I didn’t mean it.” He mumbled. “It’s because I was sleepy and you were being annoying.”

“Hmm, I don’t know.” Alec suppressed a grin to keep his tone serious. “I don’t think I believe you.”

Alec felt Magnus’ lips on his neck, then on his jaw and his cheeks, his forehead. With each kiss that Magnus peppered on him, there was an accompanying “I love you.” Magnus stopped with his eyes locked on Alec’s, both of them unblinking, their foreheads and the tips of their noses touching.

Alec’s heart started to race. They have been together for more than a year now, kissed and more than kissed several times Alec had lost count. Yet he felt nervous, and giddy, happy and excited, like he did the first time he laid eyes on Magnus walking across the lawn in the University. The first time the embers of a crush was lit. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. Until now, he still looked at the enigma that is Magnus Bane with awe. It took his breath away.

Magnus smiled at Alec, tilting his head slightly and slowly from side to side. His eyes never straying from Alec’s, rubbing the tips of their noses.

Alec could hear the thumping of his heart, felt like it would burst out of his chest from this overwhelming feeling of bliss. He swallowed.

“I love you, Alexander.” Magnus said. Or whispered. Alec wasn’t sure. All he knew was that it was music to his ears. It was beautiful. Magnus was, is beautiful. And he was his. Whatever his intention was when he pretended to sulk was out the window. Magnus loved him. He loved Magnus.

Alec opened his mouth to respond. Only to be cut off by Magnus capturing his lips in a kiss. It was slow, languid. Sensual. Alec, eyes closes, wrapped his arms around Magnus and pulled him closer, kissed him deeper. Each caress of his tongue against Magnus’, every touch of their lips, a soft suckle, every movement was a declaration of love.

Alec felt a tingle of breath against his cheek, that he knew didn’t come from him nor Magnus. He ignored it. And then there was a soft meow, and a feeling of a cold, wet nose against Alec’s cheek. “Meow.”

Magnus was the one who broke the kiss briefly and pushed Chairman Meow away gently, before bringing their lips back together. Alec didn’t protest. And then he felt, a rough, prickly tongue against his cheek. And another meow from the cat. Alec pulled back, chuckling slightly, only to see a giggling Magnus getting licked on the cheek the same way.

“Chairman!” Magnus protested amidst giggles. “What did I say about personal space and privacy?”

Chairman ignored him and faced Alec instead, meowing again. He padded over to bring his face close to Alec’s and lick the tip of his nose. Alec put his head back, he and Magnus laughing.

“Silly cat.” Magnus petted Chairman’s head.

“I think he’s trying to tell us he’s hungry.” Alec said, copying Magnus, and combing his fingers through the cat’s fur. “And I’m sure that’s our cue to get out of bed.” He looked at Magnus who sighed.

“Fine.” Magnus agreed, leaning in to give Alec one last peck on the lips. Chairman meowed again. “Yes, yes, you demanding feline.” Magnus said, patting the cat’s head. “We’re getting you food.” He untangled himself from the duvet.

Alec spied the Chairman waiting at the foot of the bed, watching them intently as if to make sure they made good on their promis.e

Alec felt a little sad at the loss of the body warmth emanating from his boyfriend. Despite being the one to suggest they get ready, he had wanted to hold Magnus close to him a little bit more. He grabbed Magnus’ hand just as the latter got out of the bed.

“What?” Magnus asked, head turned toward Alec and a slight smile on his lips.

“Why don’t you go get ready? I’ll feed the Chairman.” He said, as he got up and out of bed, hooking his fingers with Magnus’ ones.

“You sure?” Magnus asked. Alec nodded.

“Okay.” Magnus didn’t protest and proceeded to the ensuite bathroom. Alec didn’t let go of Magnus’ hand until the last possible second before picking up the cat, and walking out of the room.

*******
Magnus stood leaning on the doorframe leading to the kitchen, as he watched Alec hunched over the kitchen counter, his phone to his ear, no doubt talking to his siblings. He always admired that about Alec. No matter how strained his relationship was with his parents, he always made sure he did right by his siblings, did right by the people he loved. And Magnus was lucky enough to be one of them. This morning was but a small testament to how much Alec loves and cares for him. Even now, Magnus still could not believe it.

“Yes, Max. We said we’d be there so we will be.” Alec said, rolling his eyes a little. Magnus was pretty sure that wasn’t the first time the younger Lightwood had asked that question, hence Alec’s reaction. It wasn’t that he was annoyed, maybe a little exasperated. But Magnus could still see the love behind it. “No, I’m not asking Magnus if we can bring Chairman and Church as mascots to your game.”

It was then that Alec finally looked up, and Magnus found himself blushing a little having been caught staring. Not that he would let Alec find out, of course. He strode in, with his usual flair and confidence, and gave Alec a peck on the cheek.

“Shower’s free.” He whispered, using his thumb to wipe the bit of his lip gloss that transferred to Alec’s cheek. “Morning, Max.” He said louder into Alec’s phone before heading towards his mug of coffee at the other end of the kitchen counter.

“He says hi back.” Alec repeated. “Okay. We’ll see you later, Max.” He hung up.

In front of Magnus sat a plate with two slices of French toast (one of them was the end of the loaf), drizzled in what looked like banana syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon powder.

“I did the best I could with what you had. Which is not much.” Alec said, leaning his back on the counter, close to where Magnus was sitting.

“I didn’t know I had syrup.” Magnus said, leaning down to smell his food.

“You didn’t.” Alec said crossing his arms. “I used up the brown sugar, and some of that pumpkin pie spice powder you had left from Halloween. And the last banana.” He expounded when Magnus raised a questioning brow. “I haven’t made that in a while so I hope it tastes alright.”

Magnus’ eyes grew wide looking from the plate of food in front of him and then back at his boyfriend. He rubbed his palms together excitedly, mouth-watering. “I’m sure it’ll taste great. Like everything that you make.” He took a bite. He was right.

As usual, Alec watched him, a mixture of joy and nerves, as he waited for Magnus’ verbal approval. Magnus knew how much Alec loved making people happy with his cooking. He’s teased his boyfriend about that a few times. Well, perhaps more that a few. But this morning wasn’t going to be one of those times.

“Have we talked about you starting your own cafe? Because I really think you should open your own cafe.” Magnus said happily as he took another bite. “And I, of course, will be your best customer. Please open a cafe.”

“I already cook for you.” Alec pointed out, an amused smile on his face. “Isn’t that enough?”

“True. You are my own personal chef, after all.” Magnus admitted smugly, winking at Alec. “But, the world deserves to know how talented my boyfriend is at cooking. I’m willing to share.” He smiled. “In that aspect. And only that aspect. Nothing else.” He added quickly when Alec raised a brow.

Alec half-shrugged, his lips curled into a tiny smile. “Maybe.” He said then turned around, bringing some of the used dishes to the sink. “Though I don’t think I’ll have time when I’m busy being a lawyer.”

Magnus didn’t miss the sombre tone in his boyfriend’s voice. With Alec close to finishing his business degree, his parents have been bringing up the topic of Law School more and more. If he was to follow in their footsteps, now was the time for Alec to start putting his application together. Magnus had no doubt, Alec was under a lot of pressure from his parents to push through with their plan, for Alec to take over the family business. What he didn’t know was where Alec stood in all this. They never really talked about it, or at least Alec didn’t. He would dodge the question when Magnus asked. Preferring instead to talk about his work at the Jade Wolf, or what his siblings were up to. Magnus didn’t know if and when he should push. But it certainly stayed in his mind, always ready to talk about it if and when Alec is ready. He wants to be there for Alec, as much as Alec is there for him. He just needed to find the right time.

“And what did you have for breakfast?” Magnus shook himself out of his thoughts, pulling Alec by the drawstrings of his pants when he walked back from the sink to the counter.

“Ate the last of the Chinese take out you had in your fridge.” Alec answered leaning in to kiss Magnus on the lips.

“Hey! I was saving those pot stickers for lunch.” Magnus protested, pushing Alec away, pouting.

“Too late. They’re now in my tummy.” Alec grinned and kissed Magnus’ pouting lips. “I’ll go get ready.” He said, downing the last of his coffee and heading back to the bedroom.

Alec’s phone rang while Magnus was washing the dishes and Alec was in the shower. Magnus was about to answer it when he saw the caller ID.

- Mom -

Magnus swallowed. He contemplated answering it. Not that he answered Alec’s calls for him - except maybe if it was from one of Alec’s siblings. Or sometimes, they would take each other’s calls briefly if only to pass on the message to the other. But now was different. Magnus knew Maryse didn’t approve of him, of him dating Alec, in particular. And if he answered, Alec would probably get into more trouble than if Alec had missed the call. Magnus turned around letting the call go to voicemail.

Alec came out ten minutes later, hair still wet, but already dressed. He didn’t say anything to Magnus when he checked his phone and saw the missed call. Magnus had wanted to say something but Alec gave him that look. The look that said that he didn’t want to talk about it right now. Magnus understood.

******
They were able to finish most of the errands Magnus had intended to do just after lunch. Although, he refused to let Alec help him clean the loft, fearing that Alec was going to mess up on what Magnus insisted was the organised chaos of his study area. Besides, Alec was his boyfriend, not his maid. Magnus decided the cleaning could wait until tomorrow and decided to do laundry instead.

While Magnus appreciated that Alec wanted to and was willing to help, Magnus had to draw the line somewhere. And it wasn’t like they were married or even living together already. The thought of being married to Alec brought a smile and a blush to Magnus’ face. Wouldn’t that be nice? To spend the rest of his life with this wonderful man. He wondered if Alec even thought about it. About being together til death do they part. Did Alec want it? To be with Magnus forever? A sudden queasy feeling stirred in the pit of Magnus’ stomach. What if Alec didn’t want it?

“The washing machine is summoning you.” Alec whispered into Magnus’ ear making him jump out of his thoughts. Magnus heard the last beeps of the machine signalling the end of the final cycle.

“You okay?” Alec asked, brows furrowed in concern. He had both hands on either side of Magnus’ hips, looking over his shoulder at his face.

Magnus smiled. “I’m fine.” He answered, pecking Alec’s lips. “I was just resting a bit because someone didn’t let me sleep in this morning.” He said, his nose scrunched and pressing his forehead against Alec’s.

“But you forgive me though, right?” Alec scrunched his nose back in response to Magnus, knowing Magnus was just kidding.

“Only because I love you.” Magnus said, puckering his lips once more to kiss Alec and then went to the laundry room.

“Come have lunch when you’re done with that.” Alec shouted as Magnus walked away.

“Yes, darling.” Magnus responded. “Thank you.” At that moment, Magnus thought, whether Alec wanted to marry him or not in the future, the way things are right now is just as wonderful.

******
Magnus played with Alec’s hand, twining and untwining their fingers or lightly tossing it up and letting it fall on his palm like they were doing low fives. They were finally on their way to Max’s game, currently sat in the car as they waited for the lights to turn green. A comfortable silence fell between them with their last topic of conversation coming to a close just as Alec slowed down to the traffic. Magnus didn't mind the silence at all. Just being with Alec like this was relaxing.

Alec pulled their twined hands towards him, placing Magnus’ hand on his thigh before changing gears. Magnus didn’t protest. Only waited until the car got to speed knowing that Alec would take his hand again. And he did.

“Can you teach me how to drive?” Magnus asked, breaking the silence.

“What brought this on? You don't like my driving anymore?” Alec asked back, brows furrowed, quizzical.

“No, silly.” Magnus answered, letting Alec’s hand go and putting his hand on the back of Alec’s neck instead, rubbing his thumb gently on Alec's hairline. “You know I love watching you drive. It’s just,” He shrugged. “It's one of the things I've always wanted to learn. But never got around to it.”

Magnus turned his gaze towards the road instead, his mood turned pensieve. He didn't want to say it, but he didn't need to. Not with Alec. He didn't have an easy childhood. And unlike Alec, he didn't have the same privileges or opportunities Alec had growing up. Not that he took it against Alec, nor was he jealous of him. It was just one of the facts of life. Driving was never a priority for him. Surviving was.

Alec reached for Magnus’ hand again, twined their fingers and gave it two quick kisses. “I'll teach you how to drive.” He said, bringing a smile to Magnus’ face. “Just let me know when you're free.”

Magnus’ smile dropped realising he was the one with the busier schedule.

“There's no deadline. We'll find time.” Alec assured him as he read the worry on Magnus’ face. He smiled. Magnus’ heart fluttered. It was enough for him to forget his previous albeit tiny dilemma. Magnus smiled back.

Their serene drive was interrupted by the message tone from Alec’s, the screen lighting up. Both of them glanced at the device sitting on the tiny carrier attached to the dashboard. There was a slight change in Alec’s body language as he tried to hide his annoyance. Magnus saw the message before the screen turned off again.

<From: Mom>
CALL ME

Another message came in, and a third one. Alec let Magnus’ hand go so that he could reach up and press the power button to make the screen turn off, as if it would make the messages go away. Then he focused on his driving. Too focused even in Magnus’ opinion. Alec had both hands on the wheel, gripping it tighter he normally would.

Magnus bit his lip, unsure if he should say something. His hand rested on Alec’s thigh where Alec had let it flop when he let go. “She’s been trying to get a hold of you all morning.” He finally said, looking at his boyfriend with concern.

“Alexander, is something going on?” He asked further. He didn’t want to worsen Alec’s already soured mood from the text message, but Magnus needed to ask. He wanted to be there for Alec, to support him as much as he can. He needed to know how he can help, if he can help.

Alec turned his head to him quickly. “Things are fine.” He answered, brows creased. He’d kept his tone steady. But by this time, Magnus already knew him well enough to know that he was lying. Magnus didn’t say anything, just waited.

Alec sighed, finally giving in. He, too, knew Magnus well enough to know that once Magnus asked, he wasn’t going to stop until he at least got some kind of explanation. “It’s just… she’s trying to arrange these lunch or dinner things with this dean at this university and this law professor.”

“And that’s why you’re avoiding her?” Magnus queried again.

“I’m not avoiding her.”

Magnus raised a brow.

Alec sighed again. “I’m not. She’s just making it seem like it’s the most urgent thing in the world but it’s not.” He explained. “She’s just nagging about it now, all the time.” He quipped, annoyed.

“Maybe if you stopped dodging her calls, she’ll stop nagging?” Magnus suggested and received an eye roll in response.

“It’s never- ending nagging. It’s dinner this, lunch that. And then it’s asking if I’ve sent in law school applications.”

“And have you?” Magnus asked looking at his boyfriend.

Alec opened his mouth and closed it. He huffed and pursed his lips. Magnus waited in silence, knowing that Alec was more annoyed now. The silence that fell was uncomfortable and tense. Alec turned the car in the entrance of the parking lot.

“I’m working on it.” He said as he pulled into an empty parking space, pulled the handbrake, then turning the ignition off. “Please don’t nag me about those, too. I’m getting enough of that from mom.” He said, looking at Magnus with pleading eyes.

Magnus took one of Alec’s hands in both of his. “I’m not going to nag.” He assured. “But I want you to know that you can talk to me about these things.”

“You have enough on your plate-”

“Alexander,” Magnus interrupted. “I’m your boyfriend. And I love you. I want you to be happy.”

“I am happy,” Alec retorted. “I’m the happiest because I’m with you. And plus, I’m gay. So… happy.” He grinned.

Magnus raised a brow with an unimpressed expression at his boyfriend’s lame attempt at a pun.

Alec dropped his grin. “I really am happy. I am. And it’s all because of you.” Alec assured, rubbing his thumb gently on Magnus’ cheek..

Magnus leaned into the touch, placing his hand over Alec’s, a soft smile escaping. “Don’t sweet talk your way out of this.”

“I’m not!” Alec denied, feigning innocence, giving a little shrug, and chuckling.

Magnus sighed, pressing his lips to Alec’s knuckles before setting both their hands down. “I’m just saying, you get all grumpy and annoyed whenever this topic about law school comes up.”

“I’m not grumpy. And mom IS annoying.” Alec defended.

“It’s not just about your mom’s nagging. I mean, clearly something’s going on if you’re getting this riled up-”

“Nothing’s going on.” Alec said, raising his voice. Magnus looked at him wide-eyed. Alec closed his mouth, equally as shocked as Magnus over his reaction.

Alec nodded, head bowed and eyes closed. Finally understanding what Magnus meant. Magnus could tell he was ashamed at his sudden outburst.

“Talk to me.” Magnus said, leaning down slightly so that he could see Alec’s eyes. Magnus nudged his temple on Alec’s to catch his attention, smiling a little when Alec finally opened his eyes.

“I don’t know what’s going on.” Alec confessed. “I just,” He hesitated. Magnus squeezed his hand in support. “I just don’t know if I want to go to law school.” He looked at Magnus with worried eyes. Magnus could see fear in those hazel orbs. Like Alec was afraid Magnus was going to be disappointed in him for saying it.

Magnus brought his hand to cup Alec’s cheek. “Hey, it’s okay.” He said, gently rubbing his thumb on Alec’s skin. Alec closed his eyes and gave a little nod. “Have you tried telling your mom?”

Alec let out a tuss. “Sure. If I had a death wish.” He answered sarcastically. He sighed, grasping Magnus’ wrist. “Sorry. You didn’t deserve that.” He apologised. “I just… I don’t know what to tell her because I don’t know what I want to do. And knowing my parents, my mom. I have to have a good answer. Otherwise, they’re going to insist on their way.” Alec looked up at Magnus. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Magnus gently carded his fingers through Alec’s hair. “And you will.” He said patting the strands to a nice mess. “But I want to remind you that you’re not alone in this. You can talk to me. I’m right here. I can be a good sounding board. We can figure this out together.” They shared a smile, and Alec nodded.

“Can we just park this topic for now though?” Alec asked, eyes pleading.

Magnus nodded. Much as he would have liked for them to talk some more, the timing and the place wasn't right. Besides, a knock on Alec’s window caught both of their attention.

“Are you two making out in the school parking lot? There’s children around.” Jace’s voice was slightly muffled, the tip of his nose pressed on the car window, with both hands cupping the sides of his eyes as he peered inside.

Alec rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh, a light blush on his cheek, looking at Magnus with a defeated look.

“We can talk more at home.” Magnus flashed his boyfriend a smile, giving the back of Alec’s neck another gentle rub.

There was a flurry of greetings when the pair got out of the car. Max and Izzy both jumping on Magnus after greeting their brother in a similar fashion.

“Where’s Shamia and Biscuit?” Magnus asked, Izzy’s arm hooked on his.

“They’ll meet us at the bleachers. They’re just running a bit late.” Izzy explained.

“Let’s go. I need to check in with coach.” Max called to his older siblings, already a few metres away towards the field. Jace jogged to join his brother, with Izzy following closely behind.

Magnus waited as Alec pulled on the car door to double check that it was indeed locked. Then he stretched out his hand as Alec walked towards him. They walked with fingers entwined.

“Hey,” Magnus stopped pulling Alec close. “I love you. No matter what you decide to do.” He said, with a smile.

Alec grinned then leaned down for a kiss. “I love you, too.” He said and they followed the others towards the soccer field.

********
Max joined their little group after he checked in with his coach. Magnus looked around as the crowd was gathering but most were still dawdling and catching up with friends. There were a lot of parents, and siblings, and teachers around with some setting up their seats, umbrellas and coolers on the sidelines. Some had already taken seats on the bleachers.

“We’re starting warm ups soon.” Max reported, as he did some stretching exercises. “Now, will all of you please remember to behave and not be embarrassing.” He said it in such a mature fashion while looking at each of his older siblings sternly. He glanced at Magnus, too but with a kinder look, being less of a warning.

Jace gasped offended, looking at Izzy and Alec who reacted the same. “What are you implying, Max? We would never do such a thing. We are always well-behaved. And nothing but supportive.”

Max responded with a raised brow, calling his brother’s bullshit with just one look. “You and Izzy almost got kicked out of my last game for fighting with the referee.” Max deadpanned.

“Only because we were passionate about our support for you and your team, Maxie. And that ref was completely biased.” Izzy responded, putting her right hand, fist clenched to her chest where her heart would be. Jace did the same, with he and Alec letting out a little chuckle.

Max rolled his eyes again then looked at Alec. “You’re not any better.” The boy told him off.

Alec’s mouth dropped aghast, looking at Magnus who shrugged his shoulders, then he focused his attention back to his little brother again. “What did I do?”

‘You’re too supportive.” Max said.

“I’m too supportive? There’s such a thing as ‘too supportive’?” Alec did air quotes, his eyes darting back and forth, slightly shocked and confused, and looking for support.

“You’re not allowed to tell my coach how to do his job.” Max instructed. Alec muttered something about not doing it if the coach was competent, and that Alec was merely assisting. Max ignored him and then looked at Magnus. “Magnus, can you please make sure he goes nowhere near coach?”

“I will do my best.” Magnus said, nodding. He has seen first hand how the three older Lightwoods showed their love and support for their brother. Especially during his games. He could also see how competitive they were. Even Alec, who was usually calm, quiet and collected, was quite vocal with his opinions on how a middle school soccer game should be. Crying foul and not afraid to make his opinion known especially when it concerned Max or any wrongdoing done to him during the game..

Magnus put his arm around Alec’s waist. “It’s alright, darling.” He rubbed circles on Alec’s back when his boyfriend tried to explain to his youngest brother again why it was necessary for him to talk to his coach.

Max shook his head unconvinced. Then he gave a little, strangled yelp, a panicked look on his face.

“What is it, Max?” Alec asked noticing his brother’s sudden distress. Magnus and the others noticed as well so they all moved closer, all forgetting their teasing the youngest of their group.

“She’s here.” Max whispered, his face growing increasingly red.

“Who’s here?” Jace asked.

“Where?” Magnus and Izzy asked in unison, straightening up and looking around excitedly. Alec looked, too, albeit being the most calm about the whole thing.

In the distance, Magnus saw a girl with light brown hair, wearing the same soccer uniform as Max, and a bag slung around her shoulder. She was talking to an older woman, around Alec’s age, with darker brown hair, as the pair walked towards the player’s benches.

“Don’t stare!” Max warned, pulling on Izzy and Magnus to get to his height again. Jace asked again about what was going on until Izzy shot him a glare and he understood.

“Oh. SHE’S here.” He said then grinned at his brother. “I didn’t know she got into the soccer team with you.” Jace teased ruffling Max’s hair. The younger boy swatted his brother’s hand away, looking annoyed while he straightened his hair.

“Coach just signed her up for the team, three weeks ago and this is the first game she’s playing.” Max said, stealing a dreamy glance at his teammate before turning red when he realised all of his siblings plus Magnus were looking at him.

It was amusing to see the youngest Lightwood’s reactions. Magnus found Max was a mix of Izzy and Jace’s confidence but Alec’s penchant for shyness and blushing. Especially when it came to matters of the heart. It took a while for Max to open up about his crush after she transferred to his school in the middle of the school year. He’d quietly told Alec one day, while they were hanging out at Magnus’ loft. Naturally, Magnus found out - Max couldn’t help but tell him. And eventually Jace and Izzy found out because they were both nosy. Much to their younger brother’s horror.

“Invite her to warm up with you.” Jace suggested, clapping Max’s back lightly.

“I want to meet her.” Izzy piped in. “What’s her name again? I’ll call her over.”

“Alec!” Max complained looking to his eldest brother for support, getting increasingly mortified at what Izzy and Jace might do.

Alec shot Izzy and Jace a look, giving them a head shake as a signal that it was now time to stop teasing their brother. He had a competition after all. The two complied.

The sound of a whistle from Max’s coach made all of the players scramble.

“Huddle, huddle.” Max said, looking at Magnus to make sure he joined in as they all formed a tighter circle, arms around each other’s shoulders.

Magnus learned about the Lightwood huddle the first time he watched one of Max’s games. The siblings did this every time one of them joined a competition. Apparently Alec had started it when Izzy and Jace were younger, when they both joined their first sports competition. Neither of their parents had attended, but Alec was there. Later on, when Magnus asked why he started it, Alec had told him it was something he wished he had when he was competing in archery or any other sport he got into. There was no one in his family who was there to give him some moral support or words of encouragement. Robert scarcely attended his games. Maryse had attended a few but didn’t say much. When she did, it was mostly to criticise him or his form. He didn’t want his siblings to experience the same pain and doubt, and feeling like there was no one there to boost them up. And so the huddle became another tradition.

“Okay.” Alec started. “Remember we’re here for you, cheering you on.” He said, looking at Max. “Win or lose, we know you’re going to do your best.” Max nodded, taking his brother’s words to heart.

“And you have your team behind you. Support them and they’ll support you.” Izzy added. Max nodded again then they all looked at Jace.

“And if anyone on the opposing team cheats, you can kick their ass-”

Alec cleared his throat, shooting his brother a warning look.

“-on the scoreboard. Because you’re going to kick a goal. Lots of goals.” Jace continued, flashing a toothy grin at his older brother before giving Max a supportive smile.

“And finally, remember to have fun.” Magnus added.

“Okay.” Max responded. They all put their hands to the middle, one on top of the other. “On three.”

“Lightwood!” They all shouted.

“Bane!” Max added and they all looked at them confused. Magnus in particular.

“Lightwood-Bane.” Max repeated. “It really does have a nice ring to it.” He mused, grinning at his brother and at Magnus before turning around, a happy, confident skip in his step.

“Cocky little shit, isn’t he?” Jace said, resting his elbow on Alec’s shoulder.

“Yeah.” Alec agreed, arms crossed in front of his chest. “He’s grown up so fast.” He said.

“No longer innocent.” Izzy piped in, copying Jace and resting her elbow on Magnus’ shoulder.

Alec put one arm around Magnus, sliding his hand in Magnus’ backpocket, Magnus doing the same. There was a brief silence falling among them as they watched Max walk away towards his team.

“We love you, Max!” Alec and Jace suddenly let out the high-pitched fangirly scream in unison breaking the serene silence. Magnus and Izzy letting out loud, exaggerated “woohoos” and there was whistling, cheering and clapping.

Max, clearly mortified judging by the redness on his face, threw his head back and his arms up in exasperation, rolling his eyes and letting out a loud groan.

*******
The game had started out quite tense with the other team scoring the first goal just close to half-time. Thankfully, for Max, there had been no incident from his older siblings. Although as usual, they were nothing but supportive and cheering him on. On the start of the second half, Max’s team stepped up their game. The Lightwoods with Magnus, Clary and Simon, brought out cards and banners with Max’s name and his team.

Izzy, being the cheerleader that she is, started a cheer which their little group chanted along. In no time, the crowd sang along with them. Max was able to score a goal, bringing the game to a tie. And in the last ten minutes, he was able to assist no other than his crush, to score the second, and what had become the winning goal.

Magnus and the others watched as Max’s teammates lifted him and the girl up to celebrate their win. Alec and the others still cheering beside him. After the players from the teams shook hands and medals were awarded to the winning team, the crowd has started to disperse.
Max ran towards his family, jumping up in greeting to his brother’s arms. Alec lifted him up, easily spinning him and then settling the boy on his shoulders.

“Congratulations, Max!” They all said in unison. Max grinned from ear to ear as he said his thanks.

“What do you want to do now, buddy?” Alec asked, tilting his head back to look up at his brother.

“Coach is taking everyone out for pizza. Can we go?” Max looked at Alec and then at the others.

“Oooh, is your girlfriend going?” Izzy teased.

Max rolled his eyes in response. “She’s not my girlfriend. Jeez.” He said annoyed. Magnus couldn’t help but notice the blush on his cheeks, and the tiny twitching up of the side of his lip. He couldn’t help but see how similar it was to Alec’s reaction when he was being teased and denying something very obvious.

“Well, I think you’ve definitely impressed her with that goal. And I bet she's even more impressed with that wonderful assist.” Magnus piped in, winking, unable to resist the urge to join the teasing. “Keep it up and she’ll be your girlfriend in no time.”

The others laughed as Max buried his reddened face in his older brother’s hair. He mumbled something that Magnus could barely pick up. Something about the girl being out of his league anyway.

Alec nudged his head to make Max look at him. “Hey, she’s not out of your league.” Alec told him. Then he quirked his eyes for Max to move closer and he whispered something in the young boy’s ear. After a while, Max looked at Magnus then at his brother, who nodded as if to confirm something. Then he showed Magnus the biggest smile, confident and beaming.

A crease formed on Magnus’ brow in wonder, as he watched his boyfriend set Max down back on the ground.

Max once again took the topic back to pizza, waiting expectantly at his companions.

“Much as I’d love to join you and witness your blossoming romance, I have to go get ready for my game.” Jace answered with a mischievous smile, his arm around Clary.

“I have to meet with the cheering squad. And get ready.” Izzy contributed.

“And I have to help set up the sound system.” Simon added.

They all looked at Clary, expectantly waiting for her response.

“Oh, I have to go back to help Mom with the gallery set up.” Clary said. “But I’ll make it in time for the game.” She told Jace reassuringly after he frowned at her response.

Max turned to Magnus and Alec, waiting for their response. Magnus nodded at Alec, both of them having a non-verbal communication for their decision.

“Magnus and I can go with you.” Alec told the young boy, ruffling his hair. The young boy smiled and ran to his coach to tell him the good news.

“What was that all about?” Magnus asked once they were left alone, Jace, Izzy, Simon and Clary had gone ahead to attend to their activities. He snaked a arm around Alec’s waist and pulled him close.

“What was what about?” Alec asked, innocently, putting one arm around his boyfriend’s shoulders.

“What you whispered to Max.” Magnus reminded. “I know it was about me.”

Alec opened and closed his mouth like a fish, shaking his head before denying it. “Not everything is about you.” He said starting to walk slowly, Magnus matching his step.

“Yes, I know that.” Magnus acknowledged. “But this time, I know for sure that it was about me. Now, tell me.” He demand with a smile, pulling Alec by his waist to bring him closer.

“No.” Alec rejected. “It’s between me and Max.” He grinned, looking straight up the path, following Max and the rest of his team make their way to the parking lot.

Magnus knew he was avoiding his gaze on purpose. Otherwise, Alec would definitely give in and tell him. He also knew Alec was doing this to tease him, knowing that keeping this secret from Magnus would gnaw at him. Especially since said secret is about him. Magnus tried again to coerce Alec into talking, using his best and cutest pout. Once again, his boyfriend denied him.

Magnus bit his lip.. “Maybe, I’ll ask Max about it.” He said.

“You can.” Alec agreed. “But he’s not going to tell you.” He nuzzled his nose and Magnus’. “All you need to know, is that I love you. And every day, I thank the angels for bringing you into my life.”

Magnus couldn’t help a smile despite his attempts to suppress it. He narrowed his eyes at Alec, still not fully convinced but knowing Alec will not give in. “Fine.” He sighed finally and truly giving in. “Only because you’re being all sappy.” He teased. “And I love you, too.” He gave Alec a quick but kiss on the lips which was freely and wholly accepted.

*****
Max and his team had so much fun at the pizza place that it was difficult to lure him to go home. Although, Magnus didn’t have a shadow of a doubt Max wanted to stay longer because he and his crush - whom Max had finally introduced to Magnus and Alec as Bayley - had become closer, even sitting together at the table. She was a nice girl, just as mischievous and talkative as Max and shared his love of video games. Since transferring to Max’s school, she competed with Max for the top spot in the class. Eventually, Magnus and Alec had their fill of pizza and rowdy middle schoolers, so they left Max with the team. Besides, they didn’t want to cut short his fun with his friends. The soccer coach and a few other parents were staying behind.

“My aunty and I can drop him off at your house.” Bayley said, glancing at the lady sitting on her other side. “Right aunty?” She asked for confirmation.

“We’d be happy to.” The lady, Kamila, answered, stuttering a little but smiling widely at the couple.

“Are you sure? My brother can be a handful.” Alec said but Kamila shook her head and told him it was fine, waving her hand in front of her to dismiss him. “Thank you.” Alec shook her hand in thanks. Magnus doing the same and couldn’t help but notice her blush.

“You,” Alec pointed to Max. “Behave yourself.” He reminded, Max nodding sheepishly and rolling his eyes. The tips of his ears were red. Alec kissed his brother’s forehead as he said goodbye. Of which, Max at any other time would have welcomed it, but this time pushed his brother away, blushing even redder as he took a peek to see if Bayley saw.

Magnus gently pulled on Alec’s arm before Alec unknowingly embarrassed his brother any further. Magnus could remember being Max’s age, and trying desperately to look independent and impressive in front of the girl (or boy) he liked. He had no doubt Alec was the same, too, once upon a time. But then again, he knew Alec doting and caring for his younger brother sometimes made him oblivious to other things. It seemed to be the case right now.

“Come on, darling. Time to go. Max will be fine.” Magnus said, sliding his hand down Alec’s arm and twining their fingers. He thought he heard a little strangled, muffled squeal from Kamila’s general reaction but he wasn’t very sure.

********
Magnus walked around reading the titles of the books lining the shelves in Alec’s old room. After leaving Max at the Pizzerria with his team, he and Alec decided to take a little rest at the Lightwood house. It would take too long to drive back to Brooklyn and then drive back again to Idris High - Jace’s and Izzy’s school and where the game was going to be held. But they had had quite a busy day, and it wasn’t over yet. They both needed rest.

As impossible as it may sound, this was Magnus’ first time seeing Alec’s room. They didn’t really make it a habit to hang out at the Lightwood house. Knowing Maryse’s disposition about Magnus (and his relationship with her son), Magnus didn’t feel very comfortable in her house, even when she wasn’t there. The few times he had visited the Lightwood siblings, they mostly stayed in the living room. But today, the living room was being repainted and re-upholstered as per Maryse’s instructions before she left making the room unavailable. The workers had taken over the kitchen for their break. Magnus didn’t feel comfortable anywhere else in the house so Alec offered his room.

The whole room still felt like Alec even if he didn’t really live there anymore. From the books, to the (many more) sports trophies and academic awards, to the colour of the sheets, to the study desk, and the archery set mounted to the wall. Magnus had a feeling that was Alec’s first bow. It was a lot smaller than what he had in the apartment.

But Magnus’ favourite were the photos of a young and teenaged Alec that littered the walls and the shelves of his room. Most of them were of Alec and his siblings. Others were of him and Lydia and Aline in high school. But the one that caught his eye was the one photo sitting in a frame in front of the various cookbooks on the shelf. It was of Alec, no older than four years old, sitting on the stool in front of the kitchen counter. He was wearing a tiny apron whilst holding a spatula and a mixing bowl in front of him. His face was smeared with chocolate as he was happily licking more off the spatula. Maryse was standing beside him, an equally happy smile on her face as she watched over her son. Magnus couldn’t help but think she looked very different in the photograph. She was much more relaxed, more carefree.

Magnus reached for his phone in his pocket and tapped on the camera. He focused it in front of the photo, zooming in on the adorable photo of his boyfriend and taking a picture. He had a big smile on his face as he clicked two more times, for good luck.

“What are you doing?” Alec asked, looking at him as he stood by the door, a tray of iced tea in his hands.

Magnus didn’t know why but he put both hands behind his back, hiding his phone. “Nothing.” He answered, eyes wide and shaking his head. He looked guilty, like a child who’s been caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to.

Alec walked in and placed the tray on the table before walking to Magnus and standing really close. “It’s something.” He said, suspiciously. “Show me.”

Magnus grinned. “It’s nothing.” He said again, stepping back and away from his boyfriend. He kept his hands and his phone behind him.

Alec glanced at him, still unconvinced. Then he looked at the shelf. “Oh no.” He groaned. He turned to look at Magnus, who now stood by the foot of the bed still grinning. “Please tell me you did not take a photo of that photo.”

“Okay.” Magnus affirmed. “I won’t tell you.”

Alec took two strides to reach Magnus. “Please delete it.” He pleaded, his cheeks turning red.

“Delete what?” Magnus asked, acting innocent.

Alec reached around him to try and take Magnus’ phone, but the latter moved it away. “I know you took a picture.” He attempted again but failed. “Please, please, please delete it.” He pleaded, closing his eyes briefly, each hand now placed on Magnus’ hips. He rested his forehead against Magnus’, doe-eyed and begging.

“But it’s going to be my new home screen.” Magnus informed, teasing. Alec groaned in protest. He reached for the phone again, but Magnus moved back until both of them fell on the bed, Alec on top of Magnus.

“It’s an ugly picture. Why would you want it as your home screen?”

“How dare you call little Alec’s picture ugly?” Magnus exclaimed, giggling as he tried his best to squirm away from Alec, stretching his arms up to get his phone out of Alec’s reach. “He is very cute and adorable.”

“It’s embarrassing. And yes it is ugly.” Alec protested, finally wrapping his large hand around Magnus’, the phone tucked between.

Knowing that there was no escape. Alec was taller than him after all and he already had his hands on the phone. Magnus had no choice but to resort to desperate measures. He licked a strip up Alec’s neck enough to distract him and make him look at Magnus. Before he could say anything, Magnus captured his lips, kissing him deeply, pushing his tongue into Alec’s welcoming mouth. The grip Alec had on his hand and the phone, loosened, as he moaned, responding to the kiss.

Magnus wrapped his legs around Alec’s waist, and flipped them over until he was straddling Alec’s hips. He continued the kiss, one hand pinning Alec’s arms down. His other hand pocketed the phone in his jeans before bringing it back up to cup Alec’s face. He pulled back a little, giving Alec’s lips one last lick as he waited for Alec to open his eyes. Magnus smiled at him as he gazed into Alec’s hazel eyes, the tips of their noses touching.’

“You’re not ugly.” Magnus said, caressing Alec’s face, feeling the prickly stubble on his cheeks. “You’re beautiful. You were beautiful then and you are beautiful now.” He kissed Alec again, brief but chaste.

Alec returned the kiss with equal fervor as he rolled them over again, pinning Magnus to the bed. Hands and lips roamed as Alec gently nudged Magnus to scoot higher up the bed. As Alec’s lips started to drift from Magnus’ lips to his neck, Magnus couldn’t help but let out a little giggle as a delighted shiver run up his spine and all over his body.

“Darling, the door is still open.” Magnus pointed out as he felt Alec’s hand go under his shirt and caress his abdomen. Alec responded with a moan but continued his ministrations. Magnus swallowed, breathing heavily, struggling to keep his thoughts rational as Alec sucked on the skin of his collarbone.

Magnus knew this was neither the time nor the place for them to be doing this, much as he was enjoying the thought that they were in Alec’s old room. He couldn’t help but think, had they met earlier in life, when they were teenagers and had been in the relationship they were in now, they would probably be doing this exact same thing.

Alec ground his hips, his leg strategically placed against Magnus’ crotch. Magnus moaned in response, as he buried his fingers in Alec’s hair, pulling on it involuntarily when Alec sucked on his neck a little too hard.

“Alexander,” He paused, swallowing. “Your brother is going to arrive soon.” He was a little impressed with himself that he was able to say that out loud. Alec once again responded with a moan. Magnus was pretty sure Alec didn’t hear anything he’s said. Or if he has, he hasn’t processed it properly. Not that Magnus could blame him entirely as he found he himself had his hand under Alec’ shirt, caressing the taut muscles on his back.

They found each other’s lips once again, and kissed deeply.

“We should,” Magnus, voice raspy, swallowed again, struggling to catch his breath and gather his thoughts. “We should stop.”

Alec nodded in agreement but also looked like he really wholly didn’t agree to it. He pulled back, placing each hand on either side of Magnus’ head, propping himself up. Then he dived down for another kiss.

Magnus chuckled, following Alec up to keep their lips together, when Alec tried to pull back. “I don’t want to stop but we can’t.” Magnus said again, giving Alec another shorter kiss, propping himself up by his elbows.

Alec sighed. “I know.” He agreed, bending down for another kiss. “We’ll stop.” He said but stayed where he was.

Magnus raised a brow. Alec looked at him innocently. “Are you going to get off me?”

“Nope.” Alec responded then plopped himself down, burying his face at the crook of Magnus’ neck, making Magnus chuckle once again.

Magnus wrapped one arm around Alec, letting out a contented sigh, both of them lying on the bed comfortably. They lay in silence, Magnus enjoying the feeling of Alec’s breath against his neck. It didn’t take long for Alec to drift off to sleep, Magnus drawing lazy circles on his back.

*******
Alec was woken up by Magnus’ voice, vaguely recalling the sound of a ringtone in the background but not entirely sure how long ago that was. It took him a while to notice his boyfriend was on the phone, his voice soft and hushed, probably being careful not to wake Alec up.

Bleary-eyed, Alec realised he had fallen asleep fully on top of Magnus, his arms and legs wrapped around his boyfriend.

“You’re here?” Alec heard Magnus say to whoever was on the other side of the line. Magnus hasn’t quite realised Alec was awake yet.

“Oh, when?” Magnus asked again. “Fine, fine.” Magnus responded to his caller’s question..

Alec’s eyes finally came into focus and his brain finally awake. He propped himself up by his elbow, as he looked at Magnus who looked at him shyly and then away. Alec’s brows furrowed, noticing Magnus’ whole face was red, like he was blushing.

“We will definitely be there.” Magnus said. “See you next weekend.” He smiled widely before saying his goodbye and hanging up. “Sorry, darling. Did I wake you?” Magnus combed his fingers through Alec’s hair to fix them.

Alec shook his head, partly as a response and partly to wake himself up some more. “How long was I asleep?”

Magnus shrugged. “Fifteen minutes? Maybe twenty.”

They both sat up, Alec rubbing his face with his hand. “Who was on the phone?” He asked as he scooted to the end of the bed, sitting at the edge.

There was a pause so Alec looked over his shoulder at his boyfriend. Magnus looked like he was still blushing. “Just Imogen.” He said, smiling at Alec. “She wanted to invite us to a party next weekend.” He paused again like he was hesitant. “Her nephew - Will - is visiting.”

“Will? Jem’s Will?” Alec asked. There was something a bit off about Magnus’ reaction but he couldn’t quite place it. He pegged it down to his sleepy brain making things up.

Magnus nodded. “The one and only.” He said. “Do you want to go?” He asked, looking unsure.

Alec chuckled and nodded. “Sounds good.” He said, leaning in to kiss Magnus on the forehead.

A soft knock on the door caught their attention.

“Max is home.” Mrs Milligan reported, her brows furrowed with worry. Alec stood up knowing something was up. Because if there wasn’t, it would be his brother, not their housekeeper letting them know he was home.

They found Max sitting in the kitchen, holding an ice pack on the side of his lip, his right brow was clearly cut. Bayley and Kamila were there with him. Alec figured the workers had gone back to work in the living room.

“What happened?” He asked going straight to his brother and checking on his injury. Magnus right behind him and taking the seat by Max’s side.

“I got into a fight.” Max confessed, unable to look at his older brother in the eye.

“You what?” Alec asked in shock. “Max, what did I say about fighting?”

“I’m sorry.” Max apologised. “But they were asking for it.” He defended, on the verge of crying.

Alec opened his mouth but was interrupted.

“It’s not his fault.” Bayley said out loud, nervously pulling on the hem of her shirt when Alec looked at her. “He got into the fight because of me.” She continued looking up at her aunt who gestured for her to continue. “Some of the boys from the other team came in after you left. And,” She paused biting her lip. “They were taunting Max about you because you’re…” She paused again, hesitating and just looked at Alec and then at Magnus.

At with that it was clear to Alec what it was about. He looked at his brother, who was breathing a little heavier, lips pursed and anger clearly boiling up inside him. As much as Alec wanted the world where sexuality wasn’t an issue, the reality is that the world still had a lot learn. It would have been alright if the hate was directed at him. He was gay, he was used to it. And he could take it. But it broke his heart to know that Max, who was so young and did nothing wrong, was only targeted because he was related to Alec.

Alec clenched his fists to temper his anger unsure who or what to direct it to. Alec didn’t even know those kids, he didn’t know their parents or where they got their prejudices from. But he hoped they would learn to be more open-minded as they grew older.

“I looked away, Alec.” Max confessed, the tears he was holding back finally fell. “I did. I really did. Like you taught me. But they wouldn’t stop.” Magnus rubbed soothing circles on his back.

“I’m the one who threw the first punch.” Bayley continued, stepping up closer to the table where Max, Magnus and Alec were sitting. “Max really was taking the high road. He even tried to stop the fight until he got tangled in it.”

Kamila put her arm around her niece in support. “The coach and I talked to the kid’s parents about the incident. They were prissy, homophobic pricks but I think we’ve put them in their place.”

Alec nodded in thanks.

"For what it's worth, I think your love is great and inspiring." Kamila added looking at both Alec and Magnus. "Love is love." She said, making even Max smile.

Alec had offered for Kamila and Bayley to stay longer for a hot drink but the two insisted they needed to get back home. The only thing he could do was walk them to the door. Alec made sure Max invited them back in the future for dinner or something.

When he returned to the kitchen, he found Magnus putting antiseptic and a band aid on Max’s cut, both of them speaking in hushed voices. Max was still sniffing, tears still dropping silently so Magnus wiped them away with his thumb.

“I’m sure your brother is not angry at you.” He assured.

“But what if he’s disappointed.” Max said meekly.

“I’m not.” Alec spoke making the two look up at him. He walked to the table and knelt in front of his brother. “You know I don’t approve of fighting.” He said. “But I also know that you only resorted to it to defend and help your friend. And partly to defend me.”

“And Magnus.” Max added.

“And Magnus.” Alec parroted. “I know you’re a good boy, Max. And no matter what, I love you.” He said making the boy brighten up and smile. Max stood up and threw his arms around his brother in a hug.

“I love you, Alec.” He said hugging his brother tighter. Alec wrapped his arms around Max’s little body and hugged him back. When he saw Magnus looking at them with a smile, he reached his hand up to take Magnus’ hand. Magnus twined their fingers and gave Alec’s hand a supportive squeeze.

“What say you go get cleaned up and we go watch Jace’s game?” Alec asked. Max gave him one last squeeze before letting him go and running up to his room to get ready.

Alec felt Magnus pull him close, smiling at him as they looked in each other’s eyes.. “You’re a good man. And a very good brother.” Magnus said, proudly. Alec relaxed into his touch, calming him, thankful once again that Magnus was by his side.

********
Jace’s game had finished similar to Max’s one - with his team winning. Jace ran the best play of his high school football career and scored the winning touchdown. That was a great weekend for the Lightwoods all of them beaming happily as they celebrated the win. Clary, Simon, Magnus and Alec had even spent the night at the Lightwood house with an impromptu movie night.

Following the eventful weekend, the week that came, flew by fast. As another weekend neared, Alec noticed Magnus was slightly distracted. The only time he was really focused was when he dragged Alec to shop for a suit in the middle of the week.

“I have other suits I can wear, Magnus. I don’t need to buy a new one.” Alec complained, as he stepped out of the changing room with the twelfth suit Magnus had asked him to try on.

“We’re going to a party at Imogen’s. Yes, you need a new suit.” Magnus told him, biting his lower lip as he looked Alec up and down and shook his head. Then handed him another pair to try on.

“You said this was a casual affair.” Alec said, letting his boyfriend push him back into the changing room, the curtain closed behind him. “I don’t understand what the fuss is about.”

“Because,” It was all Magnus said before tutting and telling Alec to just try the suit on. It took another three stores and seventeen thousand (that may be an exaggeration on Alec’s part) suits before Magnus found the perfect set that he was satisfied with.

Saturday came and Alec was rushed quickly into Magnus’ bathroom to shower after he had arrived from work. It was mid-afternoon and the party wasn’t until seven in the evening but somehow, Magnus told him that they didn’t have much time.

The doorbell rang just before six o’clock. Alec opened the door to be greeted by a beaming Ragnor and Catarina, both of them dressed up for the party,

“You rang the bell?” He asked, quirking a brow, knowing full well these two had keys to Magnus’ loft. It seemed the party was for close friends and family, so the four of them decided to go in Alec’s car.

“That key is for emergencies only.” Catarina said, standing on her toes to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Besides, we didn’t want to walk in on you and Magnus in a rather compromising position.” Ragnor added, winking at him, closing the door behind him. Alec blushed as he led them into the loft, going straight to the drinks to pour them each a glass of wine.

“Darling, have you seen my ear cuff?” Magnus walked out of the bedroom, his shirt still unbuttoned, and make-up only halfway done. Alec could tell because his eyes were still bare of make-up.

“Bathroom. On the sink, near the vanity.” Alec answered, having seen it there earlier.

“Thank you. I’d be lost without you.” Magnus said blowing him a kiss, then lazily waved at his friends in greeting before disappearing back into the bedroom to continue getting ready.

“That was a very warm welcome.” Ragnor shouted, grinning and shaking his head when Magnus told him to deal with it. It made Catarina chuckle.

Alec sat on the single seater across from the couch where Ragnor and Catarina sat. “Can I ask you something?” He said, voice soft not wanting Magnus to hear.

He had been wondering all week why Magnus was jumpier than usual, almost like he was nervous. He had surmised that it had something to do with the party. Although Alec couldn’t really understand why. Maybe Magnus was nervous about them attending a party hosted by his boss? Imogen was a highly respected and powerful woman after all. While that reason was plausible, even Alec was convinced it wasn’t the reason. He had seen Magnus and Imogen together before. And he had never seen Magnus act this way. If there was anyone who could explain to him what was going on, it was going to be Magnus’ closest friends.

“He’s been acting jittery all week.” He continued.

“Ah!” Catarina sat up, putting her glass on a coaster on the table, giving him a knowing look. Alec furrowed his brow, surprised that she seemed to understand what he was talking about with just that one statement. “It’s the Will effect.” She said, like she expected him to know what that meant.

“I didn’t really think that it was going to happen this time.” Ragnor commented. “I mean, with Alec and all.” He said, Catarina nodding in agreement.

Alec was confused, completely not understanding what they were talking about. He cleared his throat. “Guys?’ He asked, waiting for an answer.


“Oh yes.” Catarina exclaimed, remembering what she was supposed to be doing. “You know when you’re a kid, and you look up to your older brother so much, and then you meet his best friend and he’s really cool and really caring, you look up to him, too but only slightly different than how you look up to your older brother?” She asked, a little breathless at the end of the question.

“Yes?” Alec responded, his intonation rising. He understood what she was saying but wasn’t sure if she was done.

“For Magnus, that was Will.” She said.

“A childhood crush?” He asked. Catarina tapped the tip of her nose twice to signal he hit the mark.

“A pre-pubescent crush if you want to be specific.” Ragnor added.

Catarina chuckled, shaking her head. “Just for one summer though. But it stuck.” She added. “Jem told me he locked himself in his room once after he and Tessa teased him about his little crush on Will.” Ragnor laughed. “Poor Magnus apparently didn’t know how to be discreet, always greeting Will at the gate every time he came to visit, pulling on his hand before Jem even got to him.”

A picture of the scene flashed in Alec’s head. A young Magnus, probably smiling shyly but still confident enough to hold and cling to the older boy’s hand. He felt a little pang in his chest.

“Alec, are you okay?”

Catarina’s question shook him out of his thoughts. “Sorry. I think I dozed off a bit.” He lied. “Just a little tired, don’t worry.” He assured when he saw her brows knit in concern. He smiled.

“Anyway, Magnus has always looked up to him. But he has gotten over Will, I assure you.” Catarina continued. “Him being a nervous wreck is temporary. He just gets like that whenever he hasn’t seen Will in a long time. He’ll get over it later.”

Alec nodded. But he couldn’t help but feel an uneasy twist in his gut.

Magnus emerged from the bedroom around half an hour later, fully dressed and makeup on point, and looking as beautiful as ever. Just looking at him took Alec’s breath away.

*******
“You look beautiful.” Alec said softly so that only he and Magnus could hear it. They stood at the front door waiting to be let in.

Magnus smiled coyly. He busied himself by straightening Alec’s suit, unbuttoning then buttoning Alec’s shirt before swatting away lint off the blazer. Alec could have sworn Magnus blushed redder if he wasn’t already blushing.

“Are you okay?” Alec asked, a little amused but also concerned. Magnus had been fidgeting even in the car. And this was the third time he had tried to fix Alec’s clothes since they walked up to the front door.

“Yeah.” Magnus responded quickly, taking in a deep breath audibly before letting it out, a nervous smile plastered on his face.

Alec wanted to talk to him some more but the front door opened and they were ushered into the party. Alec was introduced to so many people he was going to admit he didn’t remember any of them. Apparently, a casual and intimate dinner at Imogen’s house involved around a hundred people or more. Although, it was very different from the parties his parents had forced him to attend. In fact, this was probably the only party of this calibre he has attended where he was there as a guest and not one who was being paraded around as an heir to the Lightwood empire. It felt refreshing.

Imogen had come to greet them a few minutes after they arrived, giving both of them a warm hug.

“Now, you’ll have to forgive Will. This is his party but he’s late.” Imogen explained. Alec figured she must have been going around apologising to people for the host’s tardiness. “He spent the night and the day with Jem, and you know those two.” She waved her hand casually and rolled her eyes. She and Magnus looked at each other and shared a knowing chuckle. “Anyway, drink. Eat. Have fun.” She said before moving to talk to the next guests who had just arrived.

Alec squeezed Magnus’ hand when he noticed his boyfriend still looked nervous. “Shall we go get a drink?” He asked, cocking his head towards the bar. Magnus nodded and let Alec lead him.

*****
There were enough people at the party to distract Magnus and after a while Alec could see that he had started to relax. From time to time, he still looked at the general direction of the front door. Alec guessed it was to see if Will and Jem had already arrived.

Alec returned from the bathroom to see Magnus talking to Jem, and another man - tall with jet black hair, handsome, broad shouldered and well-built - which he guessed was probably Will. Magnus laughed at something Will had said. Alec felt his stomach twist again. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before walking towards the trio.

Jem saw him first, smiling and nodding to him as he arrived. That was enough for Magnus to turn around to see him. The queasy feeling in Alec’s stomach disappeared the moment he locked eyes with Magnus, who reached for him as he approached. Alec snaked his arm around Magnus’ waist and pulled him close.

“There he is.” Magnus said then turned toward Will and Jem. “Darling, you remember Jem.” He introduced. Alec shook Jem’s hand. “And this is Will Herondale. Will, this is my darling Alexander.” He said, keeping his gaze on Alec, smiling brightly as he spoke. Alec smiled back, happy that Magnus’ attention was back on him.

“Nice to finally meet you, my darling Alexander.” Will said extending his hand towards Alec.

Alec blinked, unsure of what he heard. “Alec is just fine. Thank you.” He said, shaking Will’s hand. He saw Magnus narrow his eyes at Will.

“I’m sorry, I was under the impression that was your full name. My darling Alexander has a nice ring to it.” Will teased, the side of his lip quirking up.

“Only I get to call him that.” Magnus huffed. “Jem.” He looked at the other man for help.

“Will.” Jem warned.

“Just kidding.” Will apologised. “Now, Alec. I have heard many wonderful, great things about you.” He looked at Alec, voice serious, his eyes deep and threatening. “Is it too early for me to tell you I’ll cut your balls off if you break his heart?”

“Jem!” Magnus complained.

“Will.” Jem warned again.

“I’m sorry. It’s mandatory.” Will exclaimed. “I can’t just willy-nilly give him away to some stranger without setting boundaries.”

“Forgive him, Alec. He’s being dramatic.” Jem told Alec, bowing slightly. Alec had a feeling he was doing it more to wind Magnus up. Although Alec did feel momentarily scared when Will spoke to him.

Will opened his mouth to explain further. “If you keep going, you’re not getting any tonight.” Jem shot him a look. Will closed his mouth.

“I’m just joking.” Will said again like he was the most innocent person in the world. “But seriously though, please take care of our little Magnus.”

There was a protest from Magnus about him not being little anymore ending up with Magnus and Will bickering.. Alec ignored it, looking at Magnus with adoration. “Always. I love him with all my heart.” Alec said softly. And in what was quite rare in their relationship, his response rendered Magnus speechless, and he blushed, averting shyly away from Alec’s gaze.

“Told you so.” Jem whispered to Will, who was rendered speechless. His only response was a warm smile as he watched Magnus and Alec.

Magnus moved closer to Alec, relaxing and leaning on his chest as the conversation with Will and Jem continued.

As the night passed on, Alec got to know more about Will and the little misadventures he found himself involved in while Magnus was growing up. Will had revealed more embarrassing stories about Magnus, and unlike Jem, Will had delighted in telling Alec possibly each and every one in detail much to Magnus’ unsuccessful protests. The more he got to know Will through the course of the night, he could see why Magnus had looked up to him so much. Will had been pivotal in Magnus’ strive to pursue his medical degree. He was the first one to see Magnus’ potential, his talent and his brains amidst the clutter of Magnus’ teenage rebellion and thinking that he was a good-for-nothing. Will and Jem had put up Magnus’ supposed jail money and transformed it into the scholarship that was now paying for Magnus’ degree. But more than that, he and Jem (and from their stories, Tessa and Catarina) had really stood by Magnus like true older brothers.

********
They both fell lazily on Magnus’ bed once they got home from the party well past midnight. They both changed out of their party clothes into more comfortable sweats, both tired but still buzzing from their time well spent with friends.

“Did you have a good time?” Magnus asked shifting closer to Alec.

Alec hummed in response, pulling his boyfriend close. “Will was cool.” He said. “I understand why you would have a crush on him.”

Magnus pushed himself up, eyes wide, a little panicked. “Who told you that?” He queried, his blush was back.

Alec chuckled. “Cat.” He replied. “She told me you were quite smitten. And that you locked yourself in your room after they teased you.”

“Noooo.” Magnus hid his face at the crook of Alec’s neck. Alec could feel the heat radiating from him.

“I was a little jealous.” He confessed, the tips of his ears burning up, and he swallowed past the lump in his throat. He was nervous about how Magnus would react after his confession. But he wanted to be honest.

“Of Will?” Magnus asked, his brows furrowed. Alec nodded, staring up at the ceiling. “Why?”

Alec shrugged his shoulders. “You were all nervous, and you kept fidgeting. And you checked your makeup like five times. I just never saw you act like that around a guy before. Not even me.”

Magnus shifted until he was on top of Alec and they were face-to-face. “Alright, three things. One, I was nervous about him meeting you because with Will, I never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. He sometimes tends to rub people the wrong way. And I wanted the two of you to get along.” He said. “And two, I may have had a crush on Will but that was a long time ago. And I got over him a month after that summer.” He traced Alec’s lower lip with his index finger. “Three, and this is very important and the only thing you should remember. You’re the only one for me now. I don’t want and will never want anyone else.”

He nudged the tip of his nose on Alec’s, both of them smiling at each other. Then they both leaned towards the other, their lips meeting halfway. Whatever insecurities Alec had for the past week were all but forgotten as he got lost in the feel of Magnus with him.

********
Alec’s confession about being jealous of Will somehow stuck in Magnus’ mind. It was very brief, from Alec’s account, and he believed Magnus’ reassurances that Will was in no way a threat. But there was a niggling feeling at the back of Magnus’ mind that just wouldn’t go away. He knew how much Alec loved him. Magnus would never question it. He saw it in every one of Alec’s actions. Not so much the big, romantic gestures. Although those definitely made Magnus swoon and sigh. But most of all, he knew and believed Alec’s love for him through the little gestures that he does. From making sure Magnus has eaten, or ensuring he’s had enough sleep and taking care of himself properly. Even in the way he knew how Magnus took his coffee, or what kind of dessert he was going to order on a particularly tiring day.

So when it appeared that Alec had felt threatened, or dare Magnus think, doubt Magnus’ love for him when he first met Will, Magnus had to reconsider if Alec knew how much he - Magnus - loved him. He wondered if Alec believed his love. Magnus had to step up his game. Not that it was a competition. But he didn’t like the thought of Alec feeling insecure about their relationship for whatever reason.

“I can’t believe Luke is making you work the day after you got your Level 3 Certification.” Magnus had both arms, wrapped around Alec’s neck, his legs wrapped around Alec’s waist as he sat on the kitchen counter.

It was one of the rare mornings where Magnus actually had a lie in, not having any plans until later in the day. Alec was more than happy to join him. They both had a late breakfast in front of the TV, watching episodes of Adventure Time and Steven Universe.

“It’s precisely that reason why he wants me to work. Because I’m more skilled now.” Alec said, then pulled Magnus close, leaning in for another kiss. “I might finish a little late but I can try to be back home for dinner with you.”

Home? Magnus’ heart skipped a beat. Did Alec just say the loft was his home? Well, he did sleep at the loft most nights of the week. More so since Magnus had given him a key. Magnus really wouldn’t mind if they moved in together. In fact, it would make him extremely happy. He parked that thought in the 'urgent' file, determined to ask Alec if he'd like to move in when the topic arose, sooner rather than later.

“Magnus?”

Alec’s voice shook him out of his musings. “Sorry, darling. What was the question?”

“I asked what you wanted to have for dinner. I can bring something back on my way here.” Alec clarified, brows furrowed with worry,

Magnus placed both hands on Alec’s chest. “Actually, I might be back a late. Tutorial. As usual. Not sure what time it will finish.” He said. Alec stuck out his lower lip in a pout. “Sorry.” Magnus apologised, balling up Alec’s shirt and pulling him close. “I’ll make up for it, I promise.” He said.

“It’s okay.” Alec responded. “But it’s still alright for me to come by? I can feed Chairman Meow.” He offered.

Magnus nodded. “You know you’re welcome here any time. You don’t have to have a reason to stay here.” He said. “Other than me, of course. But that’s a given.” Alec chuckled.

They shared a few more kisses before Alec really had to leave for work. Magnus waited until the door had closed behind Alec before he hurriedly got his phone from the bedroom.

“Biscuit, the stage is set. We need to get to work.” He said. The idea had come to him earlier that week. And while he didn’t like deceiving his boyfriend, he gave himself a pat on the back for his flawless delivery. He knew Alec hadn’t suspected a thing. He told himself it really wasn’t about the grand gestures. But on the other hand, as soon as he heard Alec passed his final for the Chef certification, Magnus couldn’t help but plan a surprise for him.

He got ready as quickly as possible while he waited for Clary to arrive. He had enlisted hers, and Simon’s, as well as the younger Lightwoods for help. And there was a lot of things to do with what he felt was a short amount of time. He didn’t expect him and Alec to stay in until midday. On the other hand, he thoroughly enjoyed the lazy morning spent with his boyfriend.

**********
Alec had finished his shift earlier than he thought. He found it odd that Alaric and Luke told him to go home two hours before his shift was due to end. But it was also a quiet night, so he didn’t question it any further. Besides, he received a text from Magnus during his break, telling him his tutorial session finished early. Alec was more than happy to leave work early, too.

He found the lights off at the loft when he entered. “Magnus?” He called closing and locking the door behind him. There was no answer so he walked to the kitchen looking to see if Magnus was there. He was greeted by Chairman Meow rubbing on his leg and greeting him. Church was sat atop the counter looking at him, bored as usual. Alec swore if Church could raise a brow, he’d be doing that right now. Just from Alec’s mere presence.

“Hello, boys.” Alec greeted, giving Chairman’s head a little pat and a rub. “Is your dad home yet?”

Chairman meowed softly as if to respond then left towards the bedroom. Church just blinked at him and looked away.

“Really? Nothing.” Alec didn’t even know why he was talking to Magnus’ cats. And Church for that matter. He heard Chairman meow again from the bedroom. “I guess I’m following that cat then.” He said before leaving Church to whatever Church does.

Alec pushed the door that was already slightly ajar. He expected to see Magnus there, asleep and exhausted, but tonight was not one of those nights. Instead, he saw Chairman Meow lying on the bed licking his paw. Beside him was a suit laid out with a note on the top.

He picked up the card, smiling when he saw Magnus’ neat handwriting on the card.

“Put the suit on and meet me on the rooftop. Xoxo - M”

As soon as Alec set the note down and lifted the suit up, Chairman Meow got up and walked out of the room, satisfied with a job well done.

Alec did as he was told and put the suit on. As he made his way up the stairs to the roof, he couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. He wasn’t sure what Magnus was up to and what he had planned or what it was for? Did he miss an anniversary? It wasn’t Valentine’s Day was it?

He pushed the door open carefully and stepped out.

“Hello.” Alec greeted making Magnus turn around. Alec's eyed widened, breath taken away by how stunning Magnus looked. Not that he was wearing anything extravagant - just a simple black three-piece suit with a white button up shirt. Although Alec saw the little shimmer of rhinestones all over Magnus’ blazer. His hair in its usual spikes, with a little stripe of purple on the fringe. It matched his eye-shadow.

“Hello to you, too.” Magnus greeted him back with an equally wide smile.

Both of them closed the distance and stopped around half a foot away. They didn't touch each other. Not yet. They just stood there, admiring each other, both with silly, demure grins on their faces as if it was the first time they met.

Magnus eyed him from head to toe. “Nice suit.” He commented.

Alec gave a half shrug. “Thanks. My boyfriend picked it out.”

“Well,” Magnus started. “He certainly has good taste.” He said smugly, grinning wider. Alec nodded in agreement, chuckling a little at Magnus complimenting himself.

“Clearly,” Alec spoke. “I mean, he fell head-over-heels in love with me after all.”

Magnus’ eyes widened, mouth agape at Alec's retort. “Look at you being all confident.” He stepped closer, pressing his body against Alec's until there was virtually no space between them, resting his hands on Alec's chest. “I love it. Confidence looks good on you.”

“Yeah?” Alec asked, brow raised but with a proud grin. He wrapped his arms around Magnus’ waist.

“Yeah.”

Alec leaned in and Magnus closed the gap. They locked lips. Soft and chaste. After a while, Magnus pulled back, both of them still smiling from the buzz of their kiss.

“What’s all this for?” Alec placed his hands on Magnus hips, cocking his chin towards the table set elegantly in the middle of the rooftop. There were flowers and lanterns and fairy lights strung around with classical music playing softly in the background.

“This,” Magnus said taking Alec’s hands and leading him towards the table, pulling his seat and gesturing for Alec to take his place. “This is to celebrate your certification and your success, Chef Lightwood.” He whispered in Alec’s ear, pressing his lips to Alec’s cheek.

Magnus lifted the metal cloche covering the plate of food in front of Alec. “I present to you, tonight’s course: Duck confit with a side of asparagus and roast vegetables.” It was elegantly presented making Alec smile.

Magnus uncovered his plate before taking his seat on the opposite side of the table.

“Did you make this?” Alec asked, breathing in deeply to smell the delicious food in front of him.

Magnus snorted. “Darling, I love that you think I’m capable of cooking something like this but, no.” He admitted. “I asked Jocelyn for help. Luke may be the restaurant owner, and the one with the Chef training under his belt. But Jocelyn is a natural talent.” He gestured for Alec to start. “I did make dessert though.” Magnus added before taking his cutlery.

“I’m intrigued.” Alec commented. “Will you tell me what it is?”

“Just a little something from Indonesia. It’s a simple dish. Nothing fancy.” Magnus said, not giving much away. “It’s the only thing I remember that Mom used to make. Dadar Gulung.” Alec saw Magnus’ eyes glaze over briefly, a little smile on his face. “I’ve tried to recreate it several times the way she made it. It’s not perfect like how she did it. But I’ve been told it was good. So I’m hoping you like it, too.”

“I’m looking forward to it.” Alec said calmly. Inside he was warmed and excited at the prospect of experiencing something with Magnus from Magnus’ childhood. And not only that, something that was very close to him. Even in the smallest way, he felt that he and Magnus had grown a little closer, got to know Magnus a little better.

*********
They ate, and they talked, and they slow-danced well into the night. Until they were both tired, and drifted off lazily to one of the lounge chairs, laying there in each other’s arms watching the moon and the stars.

“Oh, I forgot to give you your gift.” Magnus reluctantly stood up and walked to the table, grabbing something from under his chair.

“You got me a gift? Is it my birthday?” Alec asked, legs crossed, his arms folded behind his head as he watched Magnus walk back to him.

“No, it’s not your birthday. But yes, I got you a gift.” Magnus sat facing towards him. “And you, mister,” He poked Alec’s nose lightly with the corner of the box. “Kept a secret from me.” He continued handing the gift to his boyfriend.

Alec accepted it graciously. “Secrets? I did not such thing.” He denied, honestly wondering what Magnus was talking about. He ripped the wrapping paper and framed page of a magazine. “Magnus, this-”

“Is an article from the New Yorker featuring The Jade Wolf. That you didn’t tell me about” Magnus completed his sentence. “And,” He pointed to a highlighted paragraph just to the side of a photo of the whole team, Alec included. It described the appetiser menu put together by Alec and the rest of the Sous Chefs. “My favourite is a dish put together by chef-in-training Alec Lightwood. His invention of a deconstructed pork bun is a gorgeous gustatory experience, hitting you in the right spot and setting you up for a wonderful culinary experience.” Magnus read from the article proudly.

“Magnus, I-” Alec didn’t know how to continue. The food critic had come to the restaurant earlier that week. And a photographer came by days later to take a photo of the team. Alec didn’t think much of it, figuring it was just Luke’s marketing team wanting to promote the restaurant. Magnus had his arms crossed in front of his chest waiting expectantly for an explanation on the secrecy. “I really didn’t know about this article until now.” He admitted. His smile widened, as his brain properly processed the positive review.

“It’ll be in tomorrow’s paper.” Magnus replied, leaning in to give Alec another kiss.

“So how did you get this copy?” Alec asked in wonder.

“I’m a powerful man who is well-connected.” Magnus said smugly.

Alec raised his brow knowing full well it must have been Luke who got an advanced copy. He looked at the article once more then set it down gently on the floor beside the chair. He cupped Magnus’ face in his hands, Magnus shifting until he was laying on top of him. “Thank you.” He said smiling.

“Have I told you how very proud I am of you? Because I’m very proud of you.” Magnus said, grinning.

Alec pulled him in capturing his mouth in his, loving the feel of Magnus’ lips against his. They kissed languidly, their bodies pressed flush against each other. Magnus moved his body until he was straddling Alec, deepening their kiss further. Alec could feel himself getting hard, his body getting more heated as Magnus’ hands travelled down from Alec’s chest to his hips. Magnus' thumb brushed against the exposed skin where Alec’s shirt had ridden up, making Alec shiver.

He pushed his tongue inside Magnus’ mouth, Magnus welcoming it with a moan, as his tongue wrestled with Alec’s in response. They both ground their hips, looking for more friction to satisfy the growing need inside their trousers.

“Magnus,” Alec said with a raspy voice. “Shall we take this inside?” He suggested, chasing after Magnus’ lips when the latter pulled away.

“Mmmm. Yes, I would love to take this inside.” Magnus responded, his eyes darting down to his hand where it rested on the bulge of Alec’s cock. They both grinned, and continued kissing as Alec pushed himself up to a sitting position. Magnus wrapped his legs around Alec’s waist. Once satisfied that it was secure, Alec put his arms around Magnus' buttocks, heaved both of them up to stand and started walking towards the door and back to the loft. They'd had to reluctantly part to go down the stairs safely. But the moment they opened the front door, they started to remove and discard each other's clothes, bumping into a few things along the way but neither of them cared. 

**********
The next day, Alec woke up showered in kisses, Magnus’ warm body pressed against his. The sun peeked through the gaps in the curtains and Alec spied a blue sky. He felt rested and energetic. He and Magnus had time for coffee and breakfast before Magnus had to leave for work. Imogen had yet another function to attend and needed her trusty stylist. After he left, Alec got dressed and drove to his parents house. He had had a busy week and wasn’t able to see his siblings for bowling night. Since he didn’t have any plans for the day, he decided to pay them a visit.

He walked into the house, a big smile on his face, and a skip to his step despite not having much sleep last night. Magnus had definitely made sure of that. Although, Alec was a more than willing and active participant.

“Izzy, Jace, Max?” He called out, peeking into the living room and finding it empty. He was about go up the stairs when the door to his father’s home office opened.

“Alec.” His mom greeted, arms folded in front of her. She looked cross.

“Mom.” Alec’s heart pounded, taken by surprise. He was sure his parents were still supposed to be overseas.

She turned on her heel and went inside the office. Her body language was enough for Alec to know he should follow. When he went in he saw his father sitting at his desk, a newspaper in hand. ”Dad.” He greeted. “I didn’t know you two were back.” He chuckled nervously. He straightened his posture when neither of them responded nor looked amused.

Robert threw the paper to the end of his desk, facing towards Alec. Alec didn’t need to take a step closer to read the top of the page - The New Yorker. From where he stood he could clearly see the same article that Magnus had framed. Despite working at the Jade Wolf for a year now, Alec had never told his parents about it. And they never really asked, so he didn’t see any reason to bring it up. Not that they really cared anyway. Besides, he knew Robert never liked Alec and what he termed his 'fascination with cooking.' Robert didn't like anything Alec did that wasn't going to lead him to a law degree.

Robert glared at him, brows creased. “Care to explain this?”