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School Daze

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North Alicante High rose up before Alec, Isabelle, and Jace as they stepped through the doors of their new school.  They stopped to take in the higher ceilings, the wider halls, as students milled around them, side stepping out of the way of the three newbies who didn’t seem to know to not stop in the middle of a heavily-trafficked doorway.  Alec cast a quick sideways glance at his siblings.  He couldn’t tell by their expressions, but he knew that Isabelle and Jace weren’t thrilled with having to start a new school in the middle of the year, though it was hardly Alec’s fault.  The bullying that Alec had endured at Idris High had gotten so out of control that he’d had no choice but to leave.  He never knew what had made him such an easy target, but he couldn’t finish out his senior year there, despite trying to stick it out until graduation.  He hadn’t asked Isabelle and Jace to transfer with him, but they did so out of support, and he was more than grateful. 

“We need to find the registrar’s office,” Isabelle said, pulling Alec from his thoughts, and they all got moving.  The registrar’s office was where they would pick up their schedules, yet as they walked down the hall together, Alec felt a slight pang.  Jace and Isabelle were in the same grade and therefore had a greater chance of being in the same classes.  Alec was two grades ahead and it was unlikely he would see either of them during the day.  There was a chance they could have lunch together, but Alec wasn’t holding his breath.   

Isabelle must’ve noticed her brother’s melancholia, and she bumped his shoulder while giving him a small, reassuring smile.  When they arrived at the registrar’s office, Alec noticed three students sitting in chairs lined up along the wall near the door, across from the secretary’s desk.  A beefy male student with light brown hair who looked like he probably played football was leaning forward, reading a paperback book.  A blonde girl sitting next to him tapped idly on her phone, not caring in the slightest who saw her with it.  Alec’s curious gaze then lingered on the third student.  He was slouched back against the wall, large headphones over his ears, his eyes closed as he bumped one leg up and down slowly.  His hair was a messy crown of black spikes that stuck out in all directions.  He had brown skin and wore a black t-shirt over rainbow colored skinny jeans.  His arms were crossed in front of him but Alec could almost make out something shiny on his shirt.  The student must’ve felt Alec staring at him and he opened his eyes.  Alec quickly looked away, down at the class schedule someone must’ve shoved into his hands while he’d been immersed in the other student.  He, Isabelle, and Jace looked over one another’s classes and, not surprisingly, Alec had none with either of them, nor did they have lunch together.  He sighed.  

“It’s okay, man,” Jace said quietly and slapped Alec on the back, who fumbled his schedule.  “Just get through the day and you’re one day closer to graduation.” Alec only frowned.  

They started to leave the office, but Alec couldn’t stop his eyes from skittering over to the brightly dressed student again, and to Alec’s surprise, he was still looking back at him, one eyebrow raised in curiosity.  Alec’s eyes shot to the floor as he followed his siblings out the door and into the now mostly empty hall.   

 

They each went their separate ways, and as Alec tried to find his first class, he wondered what the student’s deal was in the registrar’s office.  At his old school, seniors often helped in the office if they had enough credits to waste on a blowoff class, so Alec assumed that’s what those kids had been doing.  He wondered about the one in the rainbow jeans.  The student was brave, in Alec’s opinion, for choosing to wear such loud clothing to school.  Alec recalled how kids at Idris High were treated.  He’d seen students wear similar clothes, and they’d end up on the receiving end of taunts and ridicule, and the occasional fist, while the faculty turned a blind eye.  Alec never dressed that way, choosing instead to wear dark, monotone colors, yet still hadn’t escaped the treatment doled out to him on a daily basis. He then had to wonder how much more bullying would’ve taken place if he had dressed differently. 

Alec tried not to think about Idris—he’d only been gone for about a week—but the triggers were everywhere.  Just being in a new school was putting his anxiety into overdrive; he was glad to have his siblings as anchors, but wished he had them with him now, though their being in the same building helped, if only a little bit.  He was in such deep thought as he walked down the hallway, though, that he almost knocked over the teacher of his first class who just happened to be standing outside the room.  

“Sorry,” Alec mumbled, and backed up a step.  His blue eyes were wide and alarmed, but the teacher didn’t seem perturbed by his actions.    

The teacher, Mr. Starkweather — who looked the way someone named Starkweather would look, with light brown hair flecked with gray and a tweed jacket — steadied him and looked Alec over.  

“Whoa, easy there, son. Are you in the right place?” he asked Alec. 

  “I—I think so,” Alec said and checked his schedule again.  The teacher took it from him and studied it, then handed it back.  

“Yup, looks like it,” he said, then shrugged.  “Didn’t realize I had a new student.” 

Alec wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that; he hoped it meant Starkweather hadn’t planned on making him stand up in front of the class or anything. He nodded and Starkweather let him pass.  He wasn’t sure whether or not the class had assigned seats, but he took an empty one in the very back anyway.  So far he’d been at school for less than an hour and it was already going down hill.  He scratched his wrist anxiously under the black leather cuff he always wore, the gauze there rubbing against his skin and making it itch.  He hadn’t intended spending so much time in the bathroom that morning, but his anxiety over starting a new school had won out and he’d needed something to distract him from that pain.  Luckily Jace had wanted to drive, and Alec had been able to rest in the back seat by himself. 

Starkweather's class, AP English, started a few minutes later, and Alec was glad the teacher hadn’t made him introduce himself.  In fact, Starkweather seemed to forget Alec was even there, which Alec was more than okay with.  

Alec had his head in his hand as Starkweather rambled on about the book they were currently reading, Slaughterhouse Five, which Alec had thankfully already read at Idris, when the door to the classroom opened and in walked the student Alec had seen in the registrar’s office.  He looked sleepy and bored and he shuffled up to Starkweather, a small stack of narrow papers clutched in one hand.  He was taller than Alec had thought, taller even than the teacher, which he rarely saw in kids his age, save for himself.    

Starkweather looked at his watch, and then at the clock on the wall.  

“You’re early,” he said, and the student just shrugged. 

“I have a lot of rooms to get to, Mr. S.” 

“All right, hold on,” he added and rolled his eyes, then went to his desk to retrieve something.  A few seconds later he pulled from a pile of papers a slip the same size and shape as the slips in the student’s hand.  As Starkweather began rattling off kids’ names, Alec realized his assumption had been right and that the student worked in the office and must have been collecting attendance.   

“Alex Lightwood?” Starkweather called and Alec suppressed the urge to groan out loud.  Teachers were always getting his name wrong; it was written as Alexander and everyone just assumed he went by Alex.  

“Alec,” he corrected Starkweather after clearing his throat; several students turned in their seats to stare at him, and he glared back, wondering what on earth was so interesting.  The students turned back around. 

Starkweather made an adjustment on the paper, then continued calling out names.  Alec’s eyes flicked to the front of the room and he saw the kid staring at him through hooded eyelids.  His arms were crossed in front of him as he leaned against the teacher’s desk, his head tilted to one side, regarding Alec, scrutinizing him, it seemed like.  Alec dropped his eyes to his desk and cursed to himself as he felt his cheeks flush.  Finally Starkweather was done and he handed the paper to the student.  

“Thanks, Mr. S,” he said, still bored, and took the paper.  Alec watched as he turned to leave, and he could have sworn he saw the boy wink at him as he left, closing the door behind him.  He blinked to himself, then put his head back in his hand.  After that, focusing for the next hour proved to be quite difficult.   

 

Study lab was next, which was the second hour of the day and all students spent it in an assigned classroom to study, do homework, or get help from teachers in other classes.  They were allowed to travel to different classrooms to accomplish this, but since Alec didn’t know where Isabelle and Jace were, he stayed in his own room and worked on his English assignment, too afraid to take out his phone to text them.  His study lab teacher, Ms. Fairchild, seemed laid back enough, but he didn’t want to risk getting his phone taken away on his first day.  

Alec’s lunch followed study lab, though he was too anxious to eat.  He scanned the lunch room, not really sure why; it wasn’t as if he had anyone to sit with.  

The lunch room was set up in levels, with the bottom level housing the food and lunch lines, and most of the tables; a level higher had more tables; and the highest level led to the rest of the school.  Large wooden benches surrounded the lunch room that students could sit on or hop over to get to the lower level instead of using the stairs. Alec spotted an empty bench and sat down, his back against a large stone pillar that connected the adjacent bench.  He took Slaughterhouse Five out, and decided rereading it wouldn’t be a bad idea, and would give him something to do until lunch ended.  

The lunch room filled up quickly and Alec found himself wondering what classes Isabelle and Jace were currently in. He thought again about texting them, but didn’t want their phones to accidentally sound during class. A few students sat down on the bench near him, but didn’t pay him any attention as they talked and ate with each other.  Alec had the sudden urge to try to speak to them, but changed his mind just as suddenly.   

He finished a chapter and slung his arm over his hitched up knee, his foot flat on the bench.  Looking out into the lunchroom, his eyes roamed over the students buying food and eating and laughing and Alec was envious, wishing it wasn’t so hard for him to make friends. It always struck him as odd how alike Isabelle and Jace were, when Alec himself was the one that was actually related to Isabelle, their family having adopted Jace when he’d been around ten.  Alec and Isabelle had similar features—some people had even mistaken them for twins—yet while Isabelle had been popular at Idris, Alec had been singled out for ridicule.  Jace had also been popular, yet apparently having popular siblings didn’t keep someone from becoming a loser themself. 

  Alec leaned his head against the column behind him, and suddenly there he was and Alec lifted his head up and blinked.  His rainbow colored jeans stood out against the other students’ drab clothing.  He stood with a group of other kids, and while they all talked and laughed, he regarded them with boredom, or so it seemed to Alec.  Alec couldn’t help staring at him, wondering what his name was.  The kid must’ve had some kind of power that alerted him he was being stared at, because his eyes immediately flicked up to Alec for the third time that day.  Alec pretended not to see, shifting his eyes around the room again, yet when he looked back, the kid was still staring at him.  Then to Alec’s surprise, he unfurled his crossed arms and began walking to the staircase, his eyes never leaving Alec.  

Alec’s heart hammered in his chest.  Why was he walking up the stairs? Was he coming to beat Alec up? Why did Alec have to keep staring like he’d never seen a guy before? He shoved his book into his bag and abruptly stood and walked in the opposite direction of the stairs, searching for a bathroom, or any room he could quickly duck in to.  But as he rounded a corner, he slammed into another student who just happened to be holding a lunch tray.  The tray fell out of the student’s hands and to the floor with a clatter, the remnants of his lunch now on the front of his shirt, and Alec stood there, stunned.  The student, who wasn’t quite as tall as Alec, looked down at his ruined shirt then back up at Alec, his face turning redder by the second.  

“I—I am so sorry,” Alec stammered, his hands held out in front of him. A few students walking by stopped to watch.   

“You fucking idiot, why don’t you watch where you’re going?” the guy said gruffly, then grabbed the front of Alec’s hoodie.  He reared his arm back and Alec held his hands in front of his face, bracing himself to be hit.    

“Sebastian,” someone said, and when Alec didn’t feel the blow, he peered through his fingers to see the very person he’d been running from. 

“The fuck do you want, Bane?” the kid, Sebastian, said, and Alec could practically hear him sneer, his fist still held high in the air.  

“Bane” was the kid Alec had been staring at all day, and appeared surprisingly calm about the whole situation.  

“You know you can’t hit him,” he said, and he shook his tilted head a little, as if speaking to a small child.     

“Who fucking asked you?” Sebastian spat, his eyes wide and angry.  They were dark brown, almost black, and stood out alarmingly against his light blond hair and pale skin.  

“Well, he probably would, if he could,” Bane said and pointed at Alec.  Alec only blinked through his fingers, and when nobody moved, Bane rolled his eyes, took his wallet out of his pocket, and shoved a few bills into the fist Sebastian still had poised in the air.  

“Go buy yourself a new lunch…and a new shirt,” he said and wrinkled his nose.  Sebastian finally let go of Alec’s hoodie and shoved him away.  Alec stumbled back as Sebastian stalked past him, leaving his tray and spilled food on the floor for someone else to clean up. Bane watched him go, then turned back to Alec who was busy readjusting his hoodie.  The students who’d been watching the altercation take place were now walking away, uninterested, and disappointed a fight hadn’t broken out.  

“You know, if you hadn’t run away from me, that probably wouldn’t have happened,” Bane observed, looking back at Alec.  Alec’s head whipped up; he hadn’t been expecting the guy to talk to him.  

“I—I wasn’t… I mean I didn’t—”

“Magnus,” Bane said and stuck his hand out before Alec could embarrass himself further.  Alec stared at the outstretched hand.  “See this is the part where you take my hand and tell me your name, and then we shake,” Magnus added and quirked an eyebrow.  Alec shook his head, still slightly disoriented by both the altercation with Sebastian, and the fact that someone like Magnus was speaking to him.  

“Sorry, uh, Alexander, Alec, I mean…my name is Alec.” He took Magnus’s hand, mentally kicking himself in the process. Magnus's hand was smooth, his grip firm. Alec didn't want to let go.   

“I know,” Magnus smirked.  Alec pulled his hand away and readjusted his shoulder bag.  

“Th—thank you, for, uh, for that,” he said, indicating Magnus saving him from a black eye on his first day at a new school.  Magnus just shrugged.  

“Don’t worry about Sebastian. He probably would’ve dropped the tray on the way to the lunchroom anyway.”  Alec laughed lightly at that.  He noticed then that the sparklyness on Magnus's shirt was "Brooklyn" picked out in rhinestones.  “So I take it you like what you see?” Magnus added, and Alec’s eyes widened. 

“W-what?” he stammered.  

Magnus gave Alec a wry smile. “Well you’ve been staring at me all day.” 

 Alec sputtered something incoherent, his cheeks flaming.  

“It’s okay, I tend to stand out,” Magnus added.  

“Yeah, kind of,” Alec agreed, then sputtered again, trying to apologize for the gaffe.  Magnus held up a hand, and Alec shut up.  He leaned against the wall, his arms crossed in front of him, and looked Alec up and down.  

“So, Alexander, this must be your first day.” 

Alec blew out an exasperated breath and fell back against the wall himself. 

“What gave it away?” he wondered, ducking his head and trying to hide the small grin playing on his lips. 

“Just a hunch,” Magnus said and tilted his head.  He smiled at Alec and it was genuine and his teeth gleamed a pearly white, and Alec found himself trying to fight off yet another blush as he looked back up at Magnus.  

“Uh, let me pay you back for that,” he waved his hand vaguely, then rummaged in his bag for his wallet if only to keep his red face from view behind his hair.  Magnus scoffed and waved his own hand dismissively.  

“Don’t worry about it.” 

“No, really, here,” Alec insisted and thrust a wad of bills at Magnus.  

“I’ll tell you what—why don’t you buy me a soda and we’ll call it even?” Magnus suggested and then pointed to a pair of vending machines on the opposite side of the alcove they were standing in.  

“Oh. Ok, sure,” Alec agreed.  They walked to the machines and he handed Magnus the money, who stuck it in the one with soda.  

“Surprise me,” Magnus said, so Alec hit the button for orange.  The bottle tumbled into the holder and Alec picked it up, then reached to hand it to Magnus.  

“Oh, I don’t drink soda,” Magnus said, and waved his hands in front of himself. Alec blinked at him like he was crazy for suggesting he buy him one then, but then smiled in understanding.  Ducking his head again, he put the bottle in his bag.  

Magnus crossed his arms again and leaned against the machine, regarding Alec once more. 

“You’re cute, Alexander,” he said and Alec’s head whipped up.  Before he could stammer another incoherent sentence, Magnus was asking him for a pen.  He furrowed his brow, then rummaged through his bag again and found one.  The other boy took it, then reached for Alec’s left hand.  Alec pulled it away quickly, sticking out his other hand instead.  Magnus just quirked an eyebrow, but took his right hand anyway, then began to write something on Alec’s palm, and Alec silently berated himself for his hand being so sweaty.  

When Magnus was done, he leaned into Alec’s personal space, and tucked the pen into Alec’s jean pocket.  Alec’s breath hitched in his throat and he praised whatever higher being existed that there was no one else around.  

“Call me,” Magnus breathed into his ear just as the bell rang, then stepped back and stalked off as students started milling into the alcove.  Magnus’s breath had sent a shiver down Alec’s spine, and he stood rooted to the spot until someone had accidentally bumped him.    

Alec’s breath whooshed out of him in a gust, and he ran up the stairs to his next class. 

Chapter Text

Alec didn’t see Magnus for the rest of the day, but he would have been lying if he said he hadn’t thought about him.  Alec didn’t know what to make of Magnus.  He’d only ever been singled out when on the receiving end of taunts and teasing.  And no one had ever called him cute before.  He wondered vaguely if it were some kind of prank.  The final bell jarred him from his thoughts, and he was the first one out of the classroom, eager to be done with his first day. 

He was surprised to find he was the first one to the car, and he checked his phone after a few minutes to make sure Jace or Isabelle weren’t staying late or getting another ride, but when he looked back up he saw both of them walking toward him.  

“Hey, how was your first day?” Isabelle asked as she skipped up to him.  Alec just shrugged.  

“Fine,” he said as he unlocked the car and they all got in.  

“Just fine? Did you meet anyone?” 

Alec whipped his head toward his sister, hoping she hadn’t somehow heard about his display with Magnus in the alcove. “What do you mean?”

“Like, did you make any friends or anything?” she clarified, confused by Alec’s behavior.  

“No,” he lied and faced forward.  He glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Jace snickering.  Turning on the radio, he hoped that would subtly tell Isabelle he wasn’t in the mood for anymore questions.  Jace didn’t get the hint, however, and he leaned forward between the two front seats.  

“Did you guys hear about that kid that almost got beat up during one of the lunches today?” 

Alec abruptly stepped on the break and the car lurched to a stop. They all shot forward in their seats, and someone behind them honked in annoyance.   

“Sorry,” he mumbled when Isabelle glared at him, and he continued into the long line of cars waiting to get out of the parking lot.   

Isabelle twisted in her seat to face Jace. “I think I heard about that in my last class.” 

“Supposedly some guy tried to punch another guy who dumped food all over him, but someone else intervened. Magnum something,” Jace said and shrugged. 

“Magnus,” Alec corrected him, then mentally kicked himself. 

“Yeah, Magnus, that was it. How did you know?” Jace asked. 

“Uh, I have that lunch period,” Alec said, then mentally kicked himself again for not thinking up a better lie. 

“Did you see anything?” Isabelle asked him and Alec shook his head. 

“Just overheard some kids talking about it after it happened. There was a lot of commotion, apparently.” 

“Well, anyway,” Jace continued, “from what I heard, if this Magnus kid hadn’t shown up, that other guy would’ve been dead.” 

Alec swallowed, hoping neither of his siblings noticed his sudden anxiety. As he turned onto the road leading away from the school, Jace wondered if they wanted to get something to eat. Isabelle agreed, so Alec went along with it as well. He hadn’t eaten all day and now he was starving. 

To Alec’s dismay, Jace picked what seemed to be a popular after-school hangout: a diner called Taki’s that was packed with what were most likely other kids they went to school with. 

“Does it have to be here? Look at all the people,” Alec groaned, and fell back against the seat. Jace just clapped him on the shoulder and climbed out, with Isabelle and a reluctant Alec following. 

They managed to find an empty booth near the back and they sat down, Isabelle and Jace on one side and Alec on the other. A waitress came by and handed them menus and water, and they tried to decide on something to eat. 

“What’s that on your hand?” Isabelle asked Alec after he flipped the menu over and he jumped. 

“What?” he wondered.  

“Right there,” she pointed to his right palm and Alec’s stomach dropped. 

“Nothing,” he lied, but Isabelle grabbed his hand before he could pull it back. 

“That’s a number!” she squealed in delight, and Alec wrenched his hand away. He was surprised it was even still legible since they’d been sweating all day. 

Jace grinned at his brother from across the table. “Shut up, dude, who’s number is that?”  

Alec crossed his arms over the table, his hands dangling over his lap. “It’s no one’s,” he lied and looked away, his cheeks flaming. 

"You're such a bad liar. Tell us whose number it is," Isabelle persisted as she leaned forward on the table eagerly.  

“Just someone who offered to help me with homework; you don’t know them,” Alec said and shrugged, which was totally plausible considering it was only their first day.  Alec supposed he could’ve just made up a name and they wouldn’t have known the difference.  He was saved from their further investigating when the waitress came back to take their order.  

“Oh, we haven’t even looked at the menu yet,” Isabelle said and gave the waitress an embarrassed apology and asked her to come back in a minute.  They looked the menu over, and Alec hoped the subject of the mystery number was dropped.  He was never that lucky though. 

“Alexander,” someone said as a body slid into the booth next to him.  

“Magnus!” he squeaked.  Isabelle and Jace looked up, two sets of eyebrows raised in Alec’s direction.  

“Fancy seeing you here,” Magnus said.  “Who are your friends?” 

Alec cleared his throat and tried to form a coherent sentence.  Of course Magnus would be there.  Every kid from their school was there.  

“Um, this is my brother and sister, Jace and Isabelle.  Guys, this is Magnus,” he mumbled.  

“Magnus,” Isabelle said sweetly and stuck her hand out. “A pleasure.” 

Magnus took her hand and kissed it.  “Hello, Isabelle.  You’re almost as pretty as your brother.” 

Jace choked on his water, and Alec knew he was sure to die right there in the booth since he had been lucky enough not to die at lunch.  

“So, you’re Magnus,” Jace croaked after he finally stopped coughing, his eyes watering.  

Magnus spread his hands.  “The one and only.” 

“You’re the one that stopped that fight today in the lunch room.” 

“I was. I—“

“Oh man, I really have to pee," Alec interjected quickly and turned in his seat to face Magnus, his eyes wide. "Magnus, can you show me where the bathroom is?”    

“Uh, sure,” Magnus said and scooted out of the booth.  He led Alec away from a confused Isabelle and Jace and toward the other end of the restaurant.  When they got to the bathroom Alec pulled Magnus inside.  

“Alexander, what—“

“Sorry about that, but my siblings, they don’t know…about me,” Alec muttered and looked down at his feet.  

“Don’t know what about you?” Magnus wondered. 

“That I’m, you know…” he held up the hand that had Magnus’s number written on it, hoping he would get the message.  

“Ooohhh,” Magnus said, recognition clear on his face.  “Really?” he asked skeptically, then quirked an eyebrow.  

“Why? Is it obvious?” Alec asked.  

“N-no, no. Not at all,” Magnus said and waved a hand dismissively. 

“They also don’t know that it was me who almost got beat up in the lunchroom,” Alec added.  “I was…bullied at my last school. That’s why we transferred here. I just don’t want them to worry.”  Alec looked up at Magnus, his blue eyes vibrant and pleading.  Magnus’s features softened and he took Alec’s hand in his own.  

“Say no more, Alexander.  Your secrets are safe with me,” he smiled, then leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Alec’s cheek.  Alec blinked in surprise and he was certain his skin was going to melt right off his face.  Magnus just snickered and pulled Alec out of the bathroom.  

“I’ll leave you to your siblings,” he said as they stopped outside the bathroom. “I’ve got to get back to my friends anyway.” 

“O-oh, okay,” Alec responded, though he was slightly disappointed.  Magnus then made sure no one was watching and leaned in to Alec once more.  

“Don’t forget to call me,” he breathed into Alec’s ear, and Alec shivered and could only nod vehemently.  Magnus slipped past him and went to find his friends, while Alec tried to compose himself before he went back to his own table.  When he arrived, he found three plates of food had already been delivered, while Jace and Isabelle ate from their own.  Alec saw that the plate in front of his seat had a cheeseburger on it.  He shrugged, thinking they could’ve picked worse, grateful they had ordered for him.

“Alec, why did you lie and say you didn’t make any friends today?” Isabelle asked, her mouth full of food.  

“Magnus is in my English class,” Alec lied again and shrugged.  “I didn’t think we were such good friends already that he’d stop and say hi when he saw me in a restaurant.” 

“He seemed nice. Where’d he go?” Isabelle wondered and looked around.  

“He had to get back to this other friends,” Alec said and took a bite of his burger.  He was glad when the subject of Magnus was finally dropped and they talked instead about their classes.  He finally learned what rooms Isabelle and Jace had for their study lab and they made a plan to meet up the next time they had it.  

 

When they got home, Alec feigned a headache so he wouldn’t have to talk to his parents about his day when they got home from work.  Slinging his messenger bag on the floor of his bedroom, he fell onto his bed and opened his phone, then glanced at his hand…and his face fell.  Magnus’s number was smudged beyond legibility.  Not that he’d been going to call Magnus anyway.  So doing the normal teenager thing, he stalked him on social media instead.  Not surprisingly, Magnus had an account on almost every social media app that Alec could think of, and thousands of followers on each one as well.  Alec suddenly found himself wishing he hadn’t looked Magnus up, for it made him feel trivial compared to all the friends Magnus seemed to have.  He couldn’t understand what made him so special that Magnus would want Alec to call him.  He sighed and turned off his phone.  Maybe Magnus gave Alec his number as charity.  Or maybe it was on a dare? 

He willed himself to stop thinking such things.  Just because his last school had been garbage didn’t mean the students at North Alicante were the same.  Mostly everyone seemed to keep to themselves, except for Sebastian, and that was mostly Alec’s fault for being a clumsy idiot.  His wrist itched, but he stopped himself, knowing that he had to give his himself a few days to heal.  He knew there were other areas he could use, but he was too mentally exhausted, and before he knew it, he’d fallen asleep.

 

 

On Tuesday, Alec and his siblings had to learn a whole new set of classes. North Alicante High utilized “block scheduling”—seven class periods were split into two days, making the classes themselves longer, but giving students an extra day to finish assignments.  The days were split into A days and B days and rotated back and forth.  One downside to block scheduling was a different lunch period every other day.  Alec’s lunch was now last instead of first like the day before, and he wasn’t even sure whether or not Magnus would be in it. Though he had to remind himself that he didn’t even really know Magnus, and just because Magnus had talked to him a few times didn’t mean he wanted Alec sitting with him at lunch.  

Alec managed to get through most of the day without any incidents.  When lunch finally rolled around, he headed to the vending machines in the alcove he’d seen Magnus in the previous day, not wanting to stand in the lunch line.  He chose a bag of chips and stuck a dollar into the cash acceptor, made his selection, then bent to grab the chips and stood back up.  

“You never called me,” someone said into his ear, and Alec almost jumped out of his skin.  His bag of chips flew through the air and a brown hand caught them before they hit the ground.  

“Wow, jumpy, aren’t we?” Magnus smiled and handed Alec his chips.  Alec took the bag and blushed, then rubbed the back of his neck and waited for his racing heart to calm down.  

“Thanks.  And uh, sorry for not calling you.  I mean, I didn’t not call you. I wanted to call you…” Alec trailed off as he saw the bemused look on Magnus’s face.  “You’re number got smudged,” he finished and gave Magnus a small smile while waving his hand for Magnus to see.  Magnus laughed and shook his head, then walked past Alec to a stone wall that housed a garden behind it that was short enough to sit on.  He hopped up and sat down, gesturing for Alec to do the same.  Alec followed, hopping up next to him.  He opened his bag of chips and held it out for the other boy, who gratefully took one.  

“How come you never carry a bag?” Alec asked, glancing around for one.  He finally got a good look at Magnus’s outfit, which wasn’t that much different than his outfit from the day before.  His rainbow colored skinny jeans were now bright red leather pants, and his black t-shirt with rhinestones was now a black ribbed tank top with sequins that spelled out ‘You Wish’ and Alec found himself glancing away when his eyes caught sight of Magnus’s taut biceps.  

“This isn’t really my lunch,” Magnus shrugged as he munched on his chip.  Alec’s face fell.  

“Oh. What are you doing here then? Won’t you get in trouble?” 

“I never get in trouble,” Magnus said, and for a second Alec almost believed him.  

“No, seriously,” Alec said after a beat and waited for a real answer.  Magnus just looked at him, his eyes hooded and unwavering.  

“How is that possible?” Alec asked, and Magnus fidgeted.  

“My mom…might be the principal,” said Magnus as he scratched the back of his neck and Alec scoffed.  

“No she isn’t,” he laughed, but Magnus only looked at him again.  “But the principal is Dr. Altroge,” Alec said, remembering seeing her name in the registrar’s office.  

Magnus shrugged again.  “She didn’t want to take my dad’s name when they married,” he elaborated.  

“So you’re just allowed to do whatever you want because your mom is the principal?” Alec wondered.  

“Well, within reason.  I’m actually in Photography right now,” Magnus said, and it was then that Alec noticed the camera hanging from Magnus’s neck.  He must’ve been too preoccupied with his biceps to notice it before.  

“Wow, you have a lot of bullshit classes, don’t you?” Alec grinned.  “Photography, attendance, lunch,” he rattled off, ticking his fingers as he went.  Magnus threw back his head and laughed, causing Alec to laugh too, though he ducked his head shyly as he did so, his black hair framing his face.  He saw something flash above him and he lifted his head to see Magnus pull the camera away from his face.  

“Did you just take my picture?” Alec asked in surprise, and Magnus only smiled and shrugged. 

“It’s for my assignment,” he said.  He batted his long lashes and put a hand to his chest in mock defense. And Alec found himself staring, but rolled his eyes.  He hated having his picture taken and wished he lived in an era where cameras weren’t readily available on phones.  

“We should take one together,” Magnus suggested. “I’d love to get a picture of your eyes.  They’re such a pretty shade of blue.” 

Alec blushed.  “Don’t you develop them in black and white though?” he asked, hoping to deflect from his awkwardness.  Magnus’s face fell. 

“You’re right,” he said, lowering the camera, and Alec let out a small sigh of relief.  “That’s ok, I have my phone,” Magnus smiled and pulled his phone from out of nowhere.  

“Oh, I don’t really like—“ 

“Nonsense, smile!” Magnus cut Alec off and slung an arm around his shoulder.  He snapped a picture before Alec could compose himself, and Alec blanched when he saw the final product.  

“Oh, delete that,” he groaned and covered his face with his hands.  Magnus chuckled but did as he was asked.  

“We’ll work on it,” he said.  “In the mean time, give me your number, since you obviously can’t be trusted with mine,” he added and winked.  

Alec regarded Magnus for a moment, trying to determine whether or not this was some sort of joke or scam, but when Magnus raised his eyebrows in question, Alec cleared his throat and finally rattled off his number.  He saw Magnus tap his screen a few times, then he heard his own phone ding in his bag.  He dug it out and saw a text message displayed on his screen from an unknown phone number and he smiled at the message, which was just a bunch heart emoji.  

“Got it,” he said and waved his phone.  His heart fluttered in his chest; he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so happy and relaxed around someone that he wasn’t related to, and that he also barely knew.  

They talked some more while Magnus took pictures of the alcove so he didn’t appear like he was doing nothing, and occasionally a student would buy something from the vending machine or walk on the stairs that led up to the second floor.  Eventually the bell rang and Alec’s good mood faded.  He didn’t want to go through the rest of his day without Magnus.  

“What’s your next class?” Magnus wondered, pulling Alec from his somber thoughts.  Alec dug in his hoodie pocket for his schedule, having not memorized it yet.  

“Uh, psychology,” he said, glancing at the paper.  

“Oh, I took that last semester.  Total breeze,” Magnus stated, and made a waving motion with his hand.  

Alec smiled and quirked an eyebrow.  “Yeah, maybe for you.” 

“Come on, I’ll walk you,” Magnus offered and he led Alec out of the alcove through the droves of students now bustling to class.  The close proximity to Magnus made Alec's heart flutter again as they made their way to Alec's Psychology class.  He wished he could have stayed by Magnus's side all day; it was a comfort to him, having a friendly face around in a sea of strangers, and one that actually wanted to stay by Alec's side as well. When they finally parted ways, Alec's mood turned somber again.    

He managed to get through the rest of the day unnoticed.  He would occasionally get texts from Magnus, though most of them were just emoji.  Alec would sneak his phone out and had to stop himself from laughing out loud a few times in the middle of class.  When the final bell rang he met his siblings at the car and to his relief, neither Jace nor Isabelle questioned him about making any more friends, or about Magnus, but that didn't stop Alec from thinking about him for the remainder of the day.  

Chapter Text

Wednesday was another A day, and Alec found himself excited for lunch knowing he would get to see Magnus again.  They’d texted back and forth the night before, and Alec had gotten minimal homework done.  Though he’d managed to finish his English assignment, he was grateful he had study lab to finish his other assignments in.  

As he sat down in his English class, Alec wondered whether or not Magnus would come to collect the attendance again.  The lecture started promptly, and Alec was glad he’d studied the material while at Idris so he could zone out while Starkweather talked.  About 30 minutes into the lesson, the door opened and in walked Magnus.  Starkweather sighed.  Apparently teachers didn’t appreciate being interrupted in the middle of class to take attendance. Alec wondered why Starkweather didn’t just do the attendance when he first walked in instead of stopping the lesson midway through.  As Starkweather called out names, Alec couldn’t help looking over at Magnus who was the picture of nonchalance.  He leaned against the teacher’s desk, his nails thrumming against the wood.  Alec noticed that his nails were painted black, and his fingers were adorned with several different rings, and Alec found himself wondering what it would feel like having those ringed fingers rake through his hair, or stutter down his spine, and he involuntarily shivered. 

“Alec Lightwood?” 

Alec jumped.  “Uh, here,” he said, and raised his hand a little, and he thought he could make out Magnus trying to stifle a smile, though his gaze was fixed on the ground.  To his surprise, Magnus pulled out his phone and began tapping something on the screen; Starkweather either didn’t seem to notice or didn’t care, for he continued calling out names.  Alec felt his own phone buzz in his pocket and he discreetly took it out.  

Wake up, Alexander 😉😚 

He blushed and made it a point not to look directly at Magnus for the rest of the time he was there.  

 

Isabelle and Jace met Alec in his study lab and they worked on their homework together; Alec was able to finish his upcoming assignments as lab wound down, and he found himself wondering what classroom Magnus was in.  Then he thought about how he’d been thinking about Magnus in English.  Then his mind wandered back to the rings he wore, and he could almost feel the delightful tug on his hair…

“Yo, earth to Alec.” 

“What?” Alec blinked to see Jace and Isabelle staring at him from their desks.  He straightened in his seat and cleared his throat.  

“I said, the bell is about to ring so we’re gonna head back,” Jace said, and jerked his thumb toward the door. 

“Yeah, all right. I’ll see you guys at the car,” Alec responded.  He kept his eyes on his desk, trying to look busy as he shuffled his school work around, and he could feel his skin heating up as his siblings stood, gathering their things, while still starting at him. He wished they would just go.  

When the bell did finally ring he made his way to the lunch room.  He was starving since he’d skipped breakfast that morning and thought about getting something other than chips.  As he walked to the stairs that led to the lower level of the lunch room, he was suddenly hauled back by the hood of his jacket and thrown to the floor.  He landed hard on his butt, then looked up to see Sebastian towering over him.  

“Well, look who it is.  Where’s your body guard today?” Sebastian bent over, hands on his knees, and grinned maniacally down at Alec.  Alec scowled and clamored to his feet, adjusting his messenger bag in the process.  He hated confrontation and tried to avoid it when possible, though nothing would’ve given him greater pleasure than telling Sebastian off. 

“I’m just here to get lunch,” he said, glaring.  He kept his hands at his sides, his fists clenched as he resisted the urge to sock Sebastian in his smug face.  When Sebastian said nothing, only glared back, Alec tried to sidle past him and a few other students who were blocking his way, but his path was cutoff by Sebastian, and the blonde gave Alec a hard shove.  He stumbled but managed to keep his footing.  

“Cut it out,” he growled and stepped into Sebastian’s space, their faces only centimeters from one another.  He was taller than Sebastian, and he tried to seem intimidating as he stared down at him, but Sebastian didn’t seem to care.    

“Uh oh, I think he’s getting mad,” Sebastian laughed, which elicited a few laughs from the other students.  The crowd was now bigger as they all waited in anticipation for a fight to break out. Alec tried to sidle past again but was shoved a second time.  This time his anger got the better of him and he shoved back, but Sebastian was able to keep his footing as well.  He heard a few gasps from the people around him, and he looked around in confusion. When he turned back, Sebastian reeled a fist back and punched him.  

Stars exploded in front of Alec’s eyes and this time he stumbled and fell back onto the floor again.  He thought he heard his name being called amongst the shouts and commotion that had erupted from the crowd but he couldn’t be sure.  He blinked away the stars and looked up, and his stomach dropped.  Though her back was to him, Alec could never mistake Isabelle for someone else.  Sebastian had hold of her wrist, rage plain on his face, which was also sporting a bright red hand print on his left cheek.    

“Don’t think I won’t hurt a girl, you stupid bitch,” he spat, and Alec was on his feet in an instant.  He didn’t even have time to think before he was in front of Sebastian, his own fist colliding with the other boy’s face.  Sebastian dropped Isabelle’s wrist and he staggered back, and Alec found himself hoping he would fall down the stairs. Sebastian touched his face, seemingly shocked that someone else had actually hit him, then looked back up at Alec.  

“Don’t you ever touch my sister again,” he ground out.  Apparently threats meant nothing to Sebastian though; he grabbed Alec by the front of his jacket and reeled his arm back for another punch.  

“Sebastian.” 

He stopped, and everyone turned to see Magnus strolling up.  He was wearing something flashy—bright blue skinny jeans, and a sequined black top with rainbow colored zebra stripes—and on anyone else it would be comical to see someone in such an outfit trying to break up a fight.  On Magnus though, it worked.  His tall, lean stature and the look of fury on his face was all he needed to get Sebastian to back off.  Though being the principal’s son probably helped too.  Sebastian wavered and lowered his arm, but didn’t let go of Alec’s jacket.  

“Let go of him. Now,” Magnus said softly, but with such intensity that Sebastian did what he said, though none too gently, giving Alec a shove as he let go. He looked at Alec and feigned an attack, then stalked off when Magnus raised a perfectly arched eyebrow.  The students standing about finally started to dissipate, eager to get on with their lunch.  

Alec let out a shaky breath, then turned to his sister.  

“Isabelle, what are you doing here? Are you okay?” he asked.  She was clutching her wrist and he took her hand to inspect it.    

“I’m fine.  I was just scared for you,” she said, her voice equally shaky.  “I was walking by and saw him hit you and I freaked.” 

“Wait, he hit you?” Magnus asked and looked at Alec with concern.  He sucked in a breath when he got a good look at Alec’s face, which was already starting to bruise around his left eye; a thin cut underneath it had started to trickle blood. 

“I’m fine,” Alec protested, waving a hand in front of him and turning back to Isabelle, but she just shook her head.   

“I’m okay, too, really,” Isabelle insisted.  “But I have to get to class. I’m already late.” 

“I’ll walk Alec to the nurse’s office,” Magnus said.  

Isabelle turned to Magnus, then let out another shaky breath. “Thank you,” she said sincerely, and Alec and Magnus both suspected she meant thank you for breaking up the fight.  She gave her brother a small smile, then turned and left.  

As Magnus walked Alec to the nurse’s office, Alec recounted what had happened.  

“Wow, there aren’t many people who can say they had the pleasure of punching Sebastian in the face,” Magnus mused.  

“Didn’t do much good,” Alec scoffed, and rubbed his knuckles.  “In fact, it made it worse.” 

Magnus shrugged.  “Now at least he knows you won’t back down.  Maybe that’ll stop him from picking more fights with you in the future.” 

“I’m pretty sure the only way to get him to stop is if you never leave my side,” Alec joked, then, realizing what he’d said, immediately turned a deep shade of red.  Magnus pursed his lips together, trying not to laugh.  

“I’m game if you are,” he said.  Alec was saved from having to respond as they approached the nurse’s office and walked in. 

A young woman with white hair was sitting at a desk against the far wall, writing something in a ledger.  She looked up when she heard the door open.  

“Magnus Bane, did you get into another fight again?” she tsk'd, and Alec noticed the name plate on the desk said Catarina Loss.  

“Hey, I stopped this fight. But too late, unfortunately. My friend here got a little banged up,” Magnus said and hitched a thumb toward Alec.  

“Ooh, yeah. That’s a nasty one,” she said, looking at Alec’s eye.  She had him sit on a cot, and Magnus jumped behind him and sprawled out against the pillow, his hands behind his head.  

“Don’t you have class?” Nurse Loss asked him as she got a few materials out of a first aid cabinet.  

“I’m here for moral support,” he shrugged, and Alec laughed and shook his head.  Catarina wheeled her chair up across from Alec and took his chin in one hand while she dabbed at the delicate area underneath his eye with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol, then pressed a piece of gauze against it. 

“You won’t need stitches,” she muttered, then handed him an ice pack.  He placed it over his eye as she looked over his knuckles.  He’d never punched anyone before and it hurt more than he thought it would; Sebastian had a tough face.  

“So who was the other student? Do I need to check them out too?” Catarina asked, and Magnus scoffed.  

“I don’t think I did much damage,” Alec said.  

“Maybe to his pride,” Catarina replied, and the corner of Alec’s mouth quirked up. “You’re all set,” she added and wheeled her chair back to her desk.  

“Thanks,” said Alec.  He started to hand her back the ice pack but she insisted he keep it.  

“Actually, maybe hang out with that for a few minutes before you go back,” she suggested as she glanced at the clock, so he did. He and Magnus sat in silence on the cot as Alec held the ice pack in place.  It suddenly dawned on Alec how close he was to Magnus, and his heart sped up. He was exhausted, mentally and physically, and wanted nothing more than to lay down next to him on the cot. He cleared his throat and spoke up instead. 

“You know, at my last school, the faculty never seemed to be around when stuff like this happened. And I’m starting to think this school has the same problem.” 

Magnus sighed. He sat up and, with some careful maneuvering of his long legs, swung them around so he was sitting next to Alec. He brought one long leg up on the cot and propped his chin on his knee. 

“Unfortunately, I think most schools have this problem,” was all he said. Alec cast a sideways glance at Magnus and he could see sympathy and despair in his eyes, and wondered just how long Sebastian had been tormenting the students at North Alicante, how long Magnus had been playing peace keeper, and how much longer the faculty would pretend like nothing was wrong. He opened his mouth to ask Magnus whether the staff had talked about it, but was cut off by the sound of the lunch bell. 

Alec wished Magnus could stay with him for the remainder of the day, but he knew that even as the principal’s son, Magnus couldn’t do that.  But Alec was glad when Magnus invited him over to study after school.  So he tried to make it through the rest of the afternoon without getting into any more fights.  He wasn’t surprised to find out that news traveled fast around North Alicante, and people in his next class were already asking him about the fight.  Apparently not many people did retaliate against Sebastian and Alec was something of a hero, Isabelle as well. He learned that Sebastian was sporting his own black eye and a red welt in the shape of a hand to go with it.  He wasn’t used to all the attention, though, and sort of wished people would stop asking him about it.  Alec knew if it hadn’t been for Isabelle, he wouldn’t have done anything and probably would’ve gotten the shit beat out of him if Magnus hadn’t shown up when he did.  

Magnus had offered to drive, so Alec stopped off at his car after school let out to give the keys to Isabelle.  He was glad Jace hadn’t arrived yet; he didn’t feel like explaining the whole situation to him as well. And knowing Jace, he would’ve just gone after Sebastian himself.  Isabelle thanked him for the keys and gave him a knowing smile as Magnus pulled up next to them in his own car.  Alec waved to his sister as he got in and they drove off.  

The ice pack was no longer an ice pack, so Alec tossed it around in his hands as they drove to Magnus’s house and he told Magnus how everyone had treated him, and how he didn’t think he deserved it.  

“If anyone’s a ‘hero’ it’s you and Izzy,” he commented, and Magnus looked over at him.  

“Trust me, if I weren’t the principal’s son, there’s no way I would get away with that.  Sebastian could beat the crap out of me,” Magnus laughed.  

“I don’t know,” Alec shrugged.  “You’re pretty intimidating when you want to be. I felt threatened,” he smiled, and Magnus laughed.  

“Alexander, you don’t give yourself enough credit. I saw that black eye you gave Sebastian.  I’d take you as a body guard any day,” he grinned back, and Alec had to stare out his window to keep from turning into a pile of mush.    

When they arrived at Magnus’s house, they spread all their school work on the kitchen table and Magnus handed Alec a frozen bag of peas for his eye while he tossed the ice pack in the freezer.   

“Your parents aren’t home?” Alec wondered as he took a seat in one of the chairs and set his bag on the floor.  

“Mom usually stays late after school lets out, and my dad doesn’t live here,” Magnus answered.  

“Oh,” Alec said and immediately felt foolish for asking, and though Magnus didn’t seem bothered by it, he also didn’t elaborate.

Magnus helped Alec with his psychology homework, their heads bent together over the table.  After a while, Magnus leaned back in his chair and stretched, his shirt riding up to expose his toned stomach, and Alec looked away, red staining his cheeks.     

“How’s your eye?” Magnus asked, unaware of Alec’s embarrassment.  

“Cold,” Alec chuckled and pulled the bag of peas away.  Magnus grimaced as he took in the black and blue skin around Alec’s eye.  The small cut underneath it was now a thin line of dried blood, though the eye itself wasn’t as swollen as it had been at school.  

“Does it look that bad?” Alec smirked, while noting the look on Magnus’s face.  

“No,” Magnus said, and he brought a hand up to cup Alec’s jaw, his thumb grazing the skin just underneath the eye.  

“I think it looks kind of bad ass,” he added, and leaned forward in his chair.  Magnus’s palm was smooth and warm against Alec’s chilled skin, and all Alec could see was the unusual gold-green color of Magnus’s eyes, and his full, slightly parted lips, and all he could feel was Magnus’s thumb as it grazed his cheek, sending tingles down his spine, and before he realized what he was doing, he was closing that small distance between them, his lips connecting with Magnus’s.  

It was his first kiss, and he was so glad it was with Magnus.   He closed his eyes, and Magnus, who seemed startled at first, let himself be kissed, their lips brushing against one another, until Magnus deepened it, and Alec gave a tiny gasp against his mouth.  Magnus slid his hand back to cup Alec’s neck, and Alec clutched at Magnus’s hips until he was climbing onto the other boy’s lap, and then suddenly Magnus had his amazing mouth on Alec’s neck.  He gripped the back of Magnus’s chair, gasping as he felt teeth nip at his flushed skin.  He felt Magnus’s hands on the front of his jacket and Magnus slowly undid the zipper and slid the material off Alec’s shoulders, his hands caressing surprisingly muscular arms, and the jacket fell to the floor in a heap between their two chairs. Magnus peeked down through his lashes, his mouth smirking against Alec’s skin as he noticed Alec’s plain, black t-shirt, to match his plain, gray jacket.  Alec dipped his head and caught Magnus’s mouth with his own again, and Magnus snaked his hands up under the back of Alec’s shirt, caressing his back that Magnus was surprised to find was lithe but muscular, and Alec’s hands were doing a good job of making a mess of Magnus’s already unruly hair.  

“Mags, I’m home!” someone called from downstairs and a door slammed, and Alec all but fell back into his chair, the legs scraping loudly against the linoleum, and he swallowed.  

“Up here, mom,” Magnus called back.  Alec ran his hands through his hair and pulled his chair in just as Magnus’s mom came into the kitchen, and he recognized her from the picture that was hanging in the entrance to the school, and it dawned on him suddenly that they looked nothing alike.  

“Mom, this is Alec. He’s new. We’re just working on homework,” Magnus said and Alec stood up to shake her hand.  

“Very nice to meet you, young man.  Ooh, that’s quite a shiner you got there,” she said, observing Alec’s black eye.  Alec laughed sheepishly and sat back down.  

“It was Sebastian again,” Magnus said, and Alec wondered how often Sebastian got into fights with people if that was all the clarification Magnus’s mom needed.  She made a face then, pursing her lips. 

“I didn’t hear about any fights that took place today,” she frowned, and Magnus twisted in his chair to gaze at her.  He perched one long arm on the chair back and raised his eyebrows.  

“Well you’re hearing about it now,” he pointed out, and Alec felt suddenly awkward, like he was in the middle of a conversation he felt like he shouldn’t be a part of. 

“I’ll talk to his parents,” she said finally.  Magnus sighed and turned back in his chair and Alec saw him roll his eyes.  He wondered how often the subject of Sebastian had been brought up with Magnus’s mom, and how often she claimed to do something about him but never did. Judging by Magnus’s reaction, it was more frequent than it should have been. 

“Hope we weren’t having peas for dinner,” Magnus added as he tossed the now defrosted bag to his mom.  She caught it and set it aside.  

“No, but speaking of dinner, why don’t you boys go up to your room, Magnus, and I’ll start getting it ready.  Will Alec be joining us tonight?” 

Magnus decided for Alec before he could say anything, so apparently he was staying for dinner.  They gathered up their school supplies and started to make their way to the stairs.  

“Is this yours, dear?” Alec heard Magnus’s mom say and he turned around to see her holding out his jacket.  

“Oh. Yeah.  Must’ve fallen off my chair.  Th-thanks,” he said and took it from her while Magnus stifled a laugh on the stairwell, rendering a shove from Alec from behind.  

 

Magnus followed Alec into his room and closed the door behind them.  

“So does your mom know you’re gay?” Alec asked tentatively.  

“Bi, actually, and yes,” Magnus said as he set their school things down on his desk.  Alec did the same and sat down on the bed.  

“And she’s okay with you having guys in your room?” he smiled.  Magnus shrugged.  

“I think she’s in denial about it, to be honest.” 

“Oh,” Alec said and frowned.  

“Ah ah, none of that,” Magnus said and pointed at Alec, indicating his suddenly glum facial expression.  “No feeling sorry for me. Besides, if she did have a problem with it, I wouldn’t get to do this in my own bedroom.” He sat down next to Alec and cupped his cheek with one ringed hand and they leaned into each other slowly, their lips brushing lightly at first before fully connecting and Alec closed his eyes and fell into it whole heartedly.  He was starting to think moving to a new school hadn’t been such a bad idea.  

Magnus leaned into him farther, pushing Alec back against the pillows, and Alec let him, pulling Magnus down on top of him.  He shivered as Magnus ran his hands up Alec’s sides along his ribs, rucking his shirt up, the cool metal of Magnus’s rings chilling his now flushed skin again.  Magnus pulled away from Alec’s mouth and dipped his head down to Alec’s stomach, and Alec arched his back at the feel of Magnus’s mouth on him. Magnus’s lips ghosted over Alec’s scars and he sucked in a breath when he opened his eyes and saw them.  

“What’s wrong?” Alec breathed and propped himself up on his elbows. 

“N-nothing,” Magnus stammered and shook his head, averting his gaze.    

Suddenly realizing what had happened, Alec sat up quickly while yanking his shirt down in the process. He was at a loss about what to say to Magnus, why his stomach looked the way it did.   

“I should go,” he said abruptly and stood up to grab all his things.  Magnus blinked in confusion as Alec shoved his school books into his bag and made for the door, wrenching it open, but he caught Alec’s hand before he could completely walk out. 

“Wait, Alexander, please don’t go,” he said.  Alec stopped but wouldn’t meet Magnus’s eyes.  

“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Magnus said truthfully.  “I was just surprised.” 

“I’m sorry,” Alec whispered harshly.  Magnus blinked again.  “Why are you sorry?” 

“I should’ve said something,” Alec said, shaking his head in defeat. 

“Alec,” Magnus said softly, and led him back to the bed, glad that Alec didn’t object.  

“I don’t do it all the time,” Alec said, his eyes pleading for Magnus to understand.  “Just when things are really bad.  I haven’t for a few days.”

“Really?” Magnus asked.  

Alec just shook his head.  

Magnus had hold of Alec’s hand and that’s when he noticed the thick black leather cuff he wore on the same wrist.  Alec noticed where his gaze was lingering and slowly pulled his hand from Magnus’s grasp and turned his eyes away. 

“Alexander,” Magnus said softly and he saw Alec’s lashes flutter as if he wanted to look up but couldn’t bring himself to. 

“I can’t tell you what to do with your own body,” Magnus said, “But I would be lying if I said I didn’t care, even though we’ve only known each other for a few days.” 

He placed a hand on Alec’s cheek and Alec looked up then, his blue eyes bright but sad.                     

“It’s not my place to tell you to stop, but I hope that you’ll consider it. I don’t want you hurting yourself.” 

Alec said nothing, only cast his gaze down again as Magnus grazed the skin under his thumb gently. The blood in Alec's veins had thrummed from anxiety from the recent turn of events, but he felt himself calm under Magnus's touch. 

“Were things that bad at your last school?” Magnus wondered. 

“Magnus, I transferred,” Alec said, his voice tight, and Magnus could see the pain behind his eyes that Alec was still carrying with him.  It didn’t help that he was still being bullied at his new school now too. 

“It’s not only that,” Alec added. “I just…I don’t want to talk about it,” he shook his head.  Magnus said nothing, only wrapped his arms around the other boy and pulled him into a tight embrace.  Alec let himself be held, and he reveled in the comforting contact of another person, something he hadn’t experienced in a long time.  

After a few minutes, Magnus pulled back and looked down at Alec. “If you ever find yourself wanting to…do that…will you promise to call me first?” 

“I promise I’ll try,” Alec said truthfully and Magnus, though he didn’t want to, accepted that answer.  Leaning down, he placed a small kiss on the other boy’s jaw before trailing a line of kisses down Alec’s neck to his collar bone.  Alec sighed contentedly and dipped his head, Magnus’s spiky hair tickling his cheek.  

“Do you mind if we lay down for a while?” he murmured into Magnus’s hair.  “I’m kind of tired.” 

“Of course not,” Magnus said and lifted his head to place one more gentle kiss on Alec’s lips.  Then he crawled back toward the pillows and pulled Alec down with him.  They lay side by side and Magnus pulled Alec’s arm over his chest, twining their fingers together.  

“Alec?” Magnus said after a few moments of silence.   

Alec didn’t look up at him but just said, “Yeah?” 

“Do you—would you want to go out with me?” Magnus asked timidly.  Alec finally lifted his blue eyes to Magnus and frowned, and Magnus raised his eyebrows, suddenly regretting asking.  Perhaps Alec didn't feel comfortable dating, and Magnus suddenly hoped he hadn't overstepped his boundaries.  

“I kind of figured with all the making out that it was implied,” Alec said finally and his face broke into a grin.  Magnus reached over and pinched him, and Alec yelped, eliciting a laugh from Magnus.  Alec drew himself up and leaned over Magnus, his arms on either side of him, and kissed him slowly.  Magnus snaked his arms around the Alec’s waist and pulled him down so their bodies were flush and after a few more seconds of kissing Alec pulled away, turning his head and resting it against Magnus’s chest.     

They'd fallen asleep and woke up sometime later to the sound of Magnus’s mom calling them for dinner.  Alec’s eyes fluttered open and he reached a hand up to rub at them, but Magnus caught his wrist before he could.  He lifted his head to Magnus questioningly.  

“Don’t wanna rub that eye just yet,” Magnus said, his voice deep from sleep, and gave Alec a small smile.  Alec sat up then, pulling Magnus up with him, and together they walked down to the kitchen.  

Alec was glad Magnus had a vibrant personality—he was afraid the dinner would be awkward since Alec himself never said very much around strangers.  But Magnus filled whatever silence occurred, and his mom had limitless questions for Alec: where did he transfer from? How did he like the school so far? What were his plans after graduation? Alec answered them all in stride while enjoying a delicious dinner of gnocchi and salad.  

Afterward, Magnus drove Alec home but lingered outside his house on the curb before letting him out of the car.  

“See you tomorrow?” Magnus asked, twining their fingers together.  

“Dunno where else I’d be,” Alec laughed and Magnus leaned in and kissed him gently, and it thrilled Alec, though he silently hoped none of his family members were watching them through the windows.  They pulled away and Alec said goodbye, then grabbed his bag and walked to his front door.  He gave Magnus a small smile in the open doorway and saw Magnus blow him a kiss before driving off.  Alec shook his head, grinning to himself as he stepped into the foyer and closed the door behind him.  

“What are you smiling about?” 

Alec nearly jumped out of his skin and fell back against the door, his hand over his racing heart.  

“Jesus, Isabelle,” he muttered, then ducked around her.  The grin on her face was stretched ear to ear as she followed Alec into the kitchen.  He deposited his bag on one of the stools they had next to a middle island and opened the fridge, while Isabelle sat down on the empty stool.   

“Did you guys have fun?” Isabelle asked, leaning over the island, her head in her hands.  Alec pretended to busy himself in the fridge, feeling his face flame up.  

“We did homework,” he half lied.  

“Hmm,” Isabelle said behind him.  He couldn’t find anything worth eating so he grabbed a sports drink and closed the fridge.  

“What?” he asked as he turned back around to face her.  

“Nothing,” she said and shrugged.  Alec narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously, but her gaze was on the countertop.  “Mom’s gonna freak when she sees your eye,” she added and Alec groaned, already forgetting about what had happened earlier at school.    

“You didn’t tell Jace, did you?” he asked and then took a drink.  Isabelle said nothing, only pursed her lips.  

He looked up at the ceiling in exasperation. “Isabelle,” he groaned.  

“I had to!” she said.  “He found out, somehow.  That school is very gossipy.” 

Alec slumped and leaned over the island, his forehead thunking against the marble.  

“What’s the big deal? He would’ve found out anyway.  Not even makeup could cover that,” she added and waved a finger at Alec’s face after he’d lifted it again.  

“I just don’t want him, or anyone else, to worry,” he confessed.  

Isabelle’s features softened and she jumped off the stool and walked around to the other side of the island where Alec stood, then wrapped an arm around his.  

“It’s a little late for that, bro,” she said softly.  He looked down at the counter, not able to meet her gaze for fear that he would become way too emotional for his liking.  She ruffled his hair then and he huffed while she skipped away.  He heard his phone ding in his pocket then so he fished it out, knowing immediately who it was.  Sure enough, he saw a message from Magnus, and Alec smiled to himself.  

“Alec, when did you get here?” 

He looked up to see his mom walk into the kitchen, and she gasped.  

“My god, what happened to your eye?” she said and hurried to her son.  She took his chin in her hand as she inspected the damage.  He hadn’t actually seen how bad it looked and thought checking a mirror would’ve been a good idea at some point.  

“Are you being bullied again?” Maryse asked before he could make something up, and terrible liar that he was, he couldn’t lie his way around this one.  

“No, it’s not—it’s just some stupid kid,” he shook his head and tried to duck away from his mother’s disapproving stare.  

“Alec, we can’t keep transferring you; we’re going to run out of schools.” 

“It’s not like that, mom. He’s just picking on me because I’m new. He’ll get tired of it eventually.” 

Maryse shook her head.  “Well Jace is new, yet he doesn’t seem to have this problem,” she argued and crossed her arms, and Alec recoiled from the comment like Maryse had slapped him.  

“Well sorry I can’t be perfect like Jace,” Alec spat bitterly and started to walk away.  

“Alec, that’s not what I said,” Maryse called after him.  

“It’s what you meant,” he called back as he ran up the stairs to his room.  

He slammed his door shut and locked it and made a beeline for the bathroom.  He gripped the edge of his sink, trying to get his emotions under control.  The comment had stung to say the least. His mother was right: Jace never had trouble with bullying.  It was only Alec. Poor, weak Alec.  He couldn't even start fresh at a new school without his bullshit following him wherever he went. Reaching under the sink, he felt around for the familiar bag he kept taped to the underside of the cabinet and pulled it out.  He turned it over in his hands before opening it and taking out a clean blade.  He removed his black cuff, and the sharp, shiny metal was poised against the skin of his wrist when he heard his phone ding again.  Hesitating, he set the blade back on the sink and pulled his phone out.  It was another message from Magnus.  He leaned back against the sink and smiled down at his phone.  Maybe he didn’t need to do that tonight.  

Chapter Text

To Alec’s relief, Thursday went by fast and Magnus had talked Alec into going on an actual date after school.  He’d seen Magnus in the lunch room again with his camera, and Alec blushed and stuttered as Magnus took pictures of him, though secretly he was flattered.  Magnus then popped the date question, eliciting from Alec an amusing expression on his face, of which Magnus had to capture on film “for his assignment.”  He got through the rest of the day with no fights and no Sebastian, and no questions from Isabelle and Jace as they drove home from school. 

They weren’t set to leave until later in the evening, so Alec busied himself with homework, then nervously tried to pick out something to wear.  He ordinarily didn’t care what he wore, but he felt he should try to look decent, especially around someone like Magnus.  He had thrown all of his clothes on the bed, which didn’t consist of much, and studied them.  Everything more or less looked the same. He had several of the same shirts and sweaters in varying shades of gray and black, and jackets and hoodies to wear over the shirts, most of which had holes in the cuffs.  He frowned, wondering what someone as colorful as Magnus saw in him, then shook his head at himself.  Magnus was obviously not dating him for his clothes, or he wouldn’t have approached him in the first place, and he wouldn’t care what Alec was wearing.  His heart fluttered in his chest as he recounted the previous night, and he blushed again.  He finally decided on a simple black t-shirt and a gray jacket over it, thinking a hoodie would be too casual. He paired it with dark blue jeans that miraculously weren’t ripped and full of holes.  Then he sat on the edge of his bed, anxiously bouncing his leg as he waited for Magnus to pick him up.  When his phone dinged, he nearly jumped out of his skin.  Grabbing his wallet and keys, he bounded down the stairs and called out to whoever was listening that he was leaving, not bothering to wait for a response before closing the front door behind him.  

He stuck his hands in his jacket pockets as he walked down the driveway to Magnus’s car, trying to appear nonchalant though really he was both nervous and excited.  He’d never been on a real date before and he hoped his awkwardness wasn’t glaringly obvious.  He opened the door to Magnus’s car and climbed in and couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face when he saw the other boy.  He was wearing a cream colored sweater with an intricate blue design on it, a black long-sleeved shirt that peeked out underneath, and dark gray jeans, and he was smiling at Alec equally as wide.  Alec had barely buckled himself in before Magnus was leaning into him and capturing Alec’s lips with his own.  Magnus pulled away too soon for Alec’s liking, but winked at him as he began backing out of the driveway.  

“Don’t want to be late for the movie,” he said, and Alec quirked an eyebrow.  

“Don’t people usually do dinner first?” he wondered.  

“Sometimes,” Magnus answered as he straightened his car out and started to drive.  “But you have more to talk about during dinner if you go to the movie first.”   

“Oh,” Alec said thoughtfully.  “Sorry, I haven’t been on a lot of dates.” He mentally kicked himself for blurting that out, but Magnus didn't seem to care, and it shouldn’t have come as a shock anyway.  

Alec watched out the window, his leg bouncing anxiously again as Magnus prattled on about his day, and Magnus reached over to put a hand on Alec’s knee to still it without breaking conversation.  He wondered if Magnus thought that would calm his nerves, and while he stopped bouncing his leg, it did nothing to get rid of his anxiety; it seemed to make it worse because MAGNUS’S HAND WAS ON HIS KNEE and he knew he needed to calm down considering where Magnus’s mouth had already been.  He mentally chided himself again for thinking of THAT because now he was definitely getting flustered.  Reaching over, he turned on the the AC, then the radio to distract himself, and hoped they would get to the movie theater soon.  

They arrived minutes later and Magnus allowed Alec to pay for the movie so long as Magnus could get dinner.  It was a comedy, and they found two open seats near the top of the theater.  Being a weekday, it wasn’t crowded, to both of their delights, yet Magnus was still surprised when Alec took his hand as the lights started to dim.  A tingle went down his spine and he smiled to himself, sneaking a peak at Alec, who was already engrossed in the previews.  He'd practically seen Alec with his shirt off, but holding his hand in public was an entirely different feeling and it made him feel giddy all over.  Halfway through the movie, Magnus threw caution to the wind and leaned his head against Alec’s shoulder, who didn’t object and leaned his own head against Magnus’s, his spiky hair tickling Alec's cheek. 

 

When the movie ended and the lights came back on Magnus stood up and stretched, his taut, tan stomach peeking out underneath bot of his shirts, and Alec found himself blushing, yet not being able to look away.  Magnus caught Alec staring and winked, causing Alec to blush even harder, and he threw his head back and laughed.  

“Come on, I’m starving,” he said and pulled Alec to his feet and out of the theater with him.  

They had decided on Taki’s for dinner and after parking the car, they made their way inside and found a booth.  A waitress came by promptly to take their drink order and a few minutes later, they ordered their meals.  Magnus clasped his hands under his chin as they waited, his yellow-green eyes fixed on Alec. 

“So what did you think of the movie?” he asked him.  Alec, who had been taking in all the wacky decorations Taki’s seemed to display, having missed them the first time he’d been there, snapped his attention back to Magnus.  

“It was funny,” he said after a few seconds.  

Magnus snorted.  “I didn’t see you laugh once,” he smirked, and Alec ran a hand through his hair.  

“Okay, it was terrible,” he admitted, and Magnus laughed again, a full and hearty laugh that surprised Alec.  He was usually never able to get such a reaction out of people, and right now he wasn’t even trying.  He felt a warmth spread through him at Magnus’s enthusiasm.  

“But,” he continued, and Magnus leaned forward again, resuming his previous position, “if I was going to watch a terrible movie, I’m glad it was with you.”

Magnus’s eyebrows shot up, and Alec wondered if that had been too forward of him; they’d only known each other less than a week.  

He covered his red face with his hand. “Sorry, that was lame.”  

“No, no, it was sweet. Thank you,” Magnus said sincerely.  “I feel the same.”  He reached a hand out to take Alec’s across the table, but the waitress had chosen that moment to bring their food. They ate and conversed, and were waiting on the check when Alec’s eyes caught sight of the door as it opened and who happened to be walking through it.  He groaned and slumped down in his seat, hoping to not be noticed.  

“What’s wrong?” Magnus asked in confusion, but before Alec could answer, a familiar face walked up to their table, flanked on either side by a crony.   

“Well hey, if it isn’t Rainbow Brite and his little boy toy,” Sebastian taunted, and Alec straightened up in his seat.  

Magnus sighed.  “What do you want, Sebastian? It wasn’t enough for you to be a dickhead at school, you have to be one in public, too?” 

Sebastian narrowed his eyes at Magnus.  “We’re not in school right now so your mom can’t protect you,” he glared.  

“Actually, even fights off school property could still be grounds for suspension or expulsion,” Magnus said while examining his nails. His tone was bored and mechanical, liked he’d said that very thing a hundred times before. 

“Good thing for you, I guess,” Sebastian said, turning to Alec.  Alec stood up then, tired of being pushed around by Sebastian.  He’d transferred schools to get away from the bullying, and he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his senior year looking over his shoulder.   

“I don’t need Magnus, or his mom, to protect me,” he glared back, and Sebastian laughed, but Magnus noticed when he took a step backwards.  Alec was a few inches taller than Sebastian, and he was clearly using his height to his advantage.  

“Is that right?” Sebastian goaded him.  

“Yeah, that’s right.  First of all, you're not going to fight us in the middle of a restaurant. Second, I don’t know what your problem is with me, but get over it.  I’m sorry I bumped into you at lunch on Monday, but I’ve already apologized for that. So I don’t know, maybe you have a shitty home life or something. You know what though? So do I. But I don’t go around picking fights just for fun.  Why don’t you get a life? Maybe then you wouldn’t be such an asshole all the time,” Alec said.  He could tell Sebastian was fuming, but he ignored him.  Wrenching a wad of bills out of his wallet, he slammed them down on the table before even seeing the bill, shouldered past Sebastian and his friends, then stormed out, a shocked Magnus hot on his heels. 

When they got outside Magnus grabbed Alec by the wrist and pulled him around to the other side of the building, into a dark alley.  

“Magnus, what—“ Alec started but was cut off when Magnus shoved him against the brick wall of the restaurant.  He kissed him hard on the lips before Alec could get another word out and Alec let himself be kissed.  He felt Magnus’s hands everywhere on him, fueling the fire that was already coursing through him from telling off Sebastian.  

“Alexander, that was amazing,” Magnus breathed against Alec’s mouth after they both came up for air, and Alec swallowed. 

“It was?” 

Magnus put his forehead against Alec’s and nodded.  “I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone tell him off before, except me, and even I’ve never made it sound that good,” he grinned.  

“I don’t know what came over me,” Alec laughed.  “He could’ve kicked my ass.” 

“I wouldn’t have let him,” Magnus said softly and kissed him again.     

--

Alec was glad it was Friday and the weekend was finally in sight even though the day dragged on endlessly; the only reprieve had been seeing Magnus at lunch.  By the time the final bell rang, he all but sprinted to the car, not surprised when he found himself waiting several long minutes for Isabelle and Jace to arrive.  

“What’s got you so antsy today?” Isabelle asked as Alec sped home, his erratic driving suddenly reminding her of Jace’s.  

“I’m not antsy, I’m just glad it’s finally Friday,” Alec said, shaking his head in frustration. It had been a long week.  His phone was on vibrate and he felt it buzz several times in his pocket, but his parents had given all of them a strict no-phones-while-driving rule in order to have a car, so he waited until they were parked next to their house before pulling it out.  He knew who it would be from before he even looked at it, and sure enough he saw several texts from Magnus. He suppressed a smile as he and his siblings walked through the front door, then he ran up the stairs two at a time, and plopped down on the bed when he got to his room.  Magnus’s texts were a combination of asking if Alec was free and random emoji.  Alec quickly replied that he was indeed free and they made plans to meet up.  

A few hours later, as Alec was headed out the door to meet Magnus, his mom stopped him.  

“Alec, where are you going?” she asked, confusion clear on her face. She was wearing what Alec would’ve considered a fancy dress and her hair and makeup seemed more done up than usual, even for her.   

His hand was hovering above the front door knob.  “Out?” he answered, wondering what was so confusing about that. He knew he didn’t have that many friends, but it wasn’t as if he never left the house. 

“You promised you’d watch Max tonight, remember? Your father and I have that important dinner with one of his clients. I told you about this weeks ago.”

That particular conversation suddenly dawned on Alec and he groaned.  “Well, can’t Jace or Isabelle watch him? I already made plans,” he argued.  

“They left already.  Something about a party…” Maryse trailed off, waving her hand absently.  

Alec looked outside, suddenly noticing the car was gone, and slumped against the door.  “Figures,” he mumbled.  “Fine, I’ll watch him,” he sighed and reluctantly walked to the living room.  Max was seated on the floor watching some cartoon.  Alec fell onto the couch heavily and sighed again.  Max was only ten, but Alec seemed to recall having to watch Isabelle when he was ten and their parents couldn’t find a babysitter.  Maybe that was because Alec was the oldest and had been expected to grow up faster than his siblings.  He pulled his phone out and texted Magnus, hoping he hadn’t left his house yet, and let Magnus know that he was on babysitting duty and he’d have to take a raincheck. 

Magnus texted back almost immediately and suggested he stop by instead, offering to keep Alec company.  Alec didn’t see what harm it would do, and Max would probably like Magnus.  It’s not as if he had to keep Max entertained.  He agreed and let Magnus know when would be a good time to stop by since his parents were still there.  

About an hour later, after Robert and Maryse had finally left, he heard the doorbell ring and his stomach did a somersault.  He pushed himself off the couch and walked to the front door, then opened it.  Magnus stood there in a simple green and black baseball tee and dark skinny jeans, yet just the sight of him left Alec breathless, and he smiled.  

“Hey, you,” Magnus said quietly and gave Alec a quick kiss before stepping through the door.  He had his backpack slung over one shoulder.  

“Did you bring homework?” Alec wondered as he shut the door behind them and led him to the living room.  

“Yes, but that’s not all,” Magnus said.  

Max couldn’t be bothered to pry his eyes off the TV, and didn’t even seem to realize Alec and Magnus had walked into the room.  

“Max,” Alec said, and the younger boy finally looked up at his brother.  His eyes were large and curious behind his even larger glasses and he regarded Magnus carefully.  

“Max, this is my friend Magnus. Magnus, this is my little brother, Max,” Alec said, introducing them.  

“Hello, little man,” Magnus said and reached down to shake Max’s hand.  

“Hi,” Max said shyly as he shook it.  “You’re really tall.” 

Alec choked back a laugh, and Magnus’s mouth twitched at one corner.

“Alexander tells me you like manga,” Magnus said as he dropped his book bag to the floor and knelt down beside it.  Max only nodded.  Magnus unzipped the bag and pulled out two large stacks of books.  “Here you go, buddy,” he said, and Max’s eyes widened in surprise.  

“Wow, are these for me?” he asked giddily and crawled toward the manga.  

“Yup,” Magnus answered and stood back up. “Knock yourself out.” He smiled as Max began rifling through them.  

“You didn’t have to do that,” Alec said softly next to him, and Magnus turned to face him.  

“It’s okay,” he shrugged.  “They were just sitting on my bookshelf, and I’ll never read them again.” 

Alec smiled. “Are you trying to bribe him to like you?”  

“Maybe,” Magnus grinned back. “I can be a lot to take.”

Alec shook his head.  “Max, we’ll be up in my room if you need anything,” he said, but the younger boy was too enthralled in his gift to hear him.  Alec rolled his eyes and led Magnus upstairs to his room.  

 

“So how did you get stuck with babysitter duty?” Magnus asked as they entered Alec’s room, and Alec shut the door behind them.  Magnus walked across the room to the desk, setting his book bag down on the floor next to it, and stood back up, taking in Alec’s room.  

“Well, when my mom asked me about it a few weeks ago, I wasn’t seeing anyone,” Alec smirked, and Magnus looked back at him. It only took two strides of Magnus’s long legs to reach the other boy and he planted his lips on Alec’s, his arms snaking around his waist.  Alec pulled Magnus down onto the bed with him and they kissed slowly, like they had all the time in the world.  His hands slid up under Magnus’s shirt and he caressed the soft skin over hard muscle, and Magnus shivered.  He pulled away from Alec and yanked his shirt off, throwing it to the floor, and Alec marveled at the sight before him, his hands finding their way up and over Magnus’s chest and shoulders.  Magnus kissed Alec again and then moved to his jaw, then his neck, his tongue dipping in and out to taste the sweet saltiness of Alec’s skin.    

A knock sounded on the door suddenly and they both jumped.  “Alec?” Max called from the hallway.  

“Yeah, Max,” Alec called back, hoping his voice wasn’t wavering.  His heart thundered in his chest, and he prayed that Max wouldn’t decide to just barge in.  

“I’m hungry.” 

Magnus snickered quietly beside him, and Alec pinched him.  

“All right, I’ll come make you some dinner,” he called back and waited until he heard the sound of Max’s footsteps retreating down the hallway.  He let out a breath and dropped his head to Magnus’s shoulder, who starting laughing, and Alec lifted his head to glare at him.  

 

Alec looked through the fridge for something to make, not having much luck.  

“How about grilled cheese?” he suggested, turning back to face Max, who was seated at the kitchen table with Magnus.  

“I want chicken,” Max said.  

Alec blew out a breath, his black hair flying out of his eyes as he rolled them. “Well I don’t know how to make chicken, so grilled cheese it is,” he said as he grabbed cheese from one of the fridge drawers while Max whined behind him.  He looked back at Magnus who was trying to suppress a smile.

“Max, why don’t you go back into the living room and I’ll bring it out to you when it’s ready,” Alec said.  Max just sighed and jumped off the chair, then went back to the living room and his manga.  

Alec prepared the bread and cheese, suddenly thinking it would’ve been easier to just order a pizza, then stood in front of the stove waiting for the bread to toast in the pan.  He jumped slightly when he felt a pair of toned arms slink around his waist and a chin settle on his shoulder.  

“What a nice older brother,” Magnus said in his ear, and Alec shook his head, trying to hide the shiver Magnus's hot breath had triggered.  Magnus grinned and kissed Alec on the cheek, then moved his mouth to Alec’s neck, and suddenly Alec was having a hard time concentrating on making the sandwich in front of him.  

“Come on, what if Max comes in here?” he protested quietly.  

“He won’t.  He seems pretty occupied,” Magnus replied but pulled away anyway, and Alec wondered if that had been Magnus’s intention all along when he brought the manga over.  Soon Max’s sandwich was done, so he took it to his brother, letting him eat in the living room, and went about making some for himself and Magnus.  They sat at the kitchen table eating and doing homework, since neither were interested in watching cartoons, and to Alec’s surprise, Jace and Isabelle returned shortly after.  

“Magnus, what are you doing here?” Isabelle smiled as she waltzed into the kitchen.  Jace just eyed the other boy carefully.  

“Uh, we had plans tonight, but Alec had to babysit, so I thought I’d keep him company,” Magnus said, and Alec hoped that sounded like something friends would do together.  

“Mind if I join you? Chemistry is kicking my ass,” Isabelle groaned as she fell into one of the chairs, and Magnus agreed to help her with it, since he’d taken it already.  Alec was surprised when Jace offered to work on his assignments as well, and soon they were all seated around the kitchen table, textbooks and notebooks spread out in abundance.  

“You guys are back early,” Alec observed.  Usually when Jace and Isabelle went to a party, they stayed out till well past midnight.  

“The party was lame,” Isabelle said, tapping her pen on the table.  

Magnus smirked. “I’m not sorry I missed it then."   

Alec lifted his head from his work to look at Magnus. “You were invited?” 

“Darling, I’m always invited," Magnus said and leaned back in his chair, crossing his long legs in front of him.

“You could’ve went,” Alec said, suddenly feeling guilty that Magnus had missed a party by keeping him company, but Magnus only shrugged.  

“I go to a lot of parties.  It’s not like there won’t be more.  I’ll bring you next time.”

Isabelle shook her head.  “Alec doesn’t like parties.” 

“It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that the people there don’t like me,” he said to his sister, as if that should’ve been obvious. 

“Well that’s because you don’t give anyone a chance,” Isabelle said. 

“Well that’s because they’re all assholes.” 

Kids,” Jace interjected loudly before Isabelle could spit out another retort.  “Not in front of the guest,” he grinned and gestured to Magnus, who was trying to keep a straight face during the sibling squabble back and forth he’d just witnessed.  Meanwhile, Alec and Isabelle where glaring at Jace for using the word “kids” to describe them.  

“Please, don’t stop on my account,” Magnus snickered behind his hand, and two sets of Lightwood eyes were now glaring at him. Alec’s mouth quirked up in a smile then and he ducked his head down to laugh.  Magnus saw Isabelle mouth something that looked like “he’s laughing” to Jace, who looked equally as surprised as Isabelle, and he wondered whether Alec laughed that often.  Suddenly they heard the garage door open and soon the Lightwood parents were walking into the kitchen.  

“Well, well, what’s all this?” Maryse asked as she took in the view before her at the table.  

“Uh, Magnus, this is my mom and dad, Maryse and Robert.  Mom, dad, this is Magnus. He’s a friend from school,” Alec said, and Magnus stood up to shake his parents’ hands.  

“You have a friend?” Maryse asked, a huge smile on her lips, and Alec dropped his face into his hands.  Magnus sat back down at the table, suddenly embarrassed for Alec.  It was obviously difficult for him, having been on the receiving end of bullying all the time, and Magnus wondered if he’d had any friends at his last school.  It certainly didn’t seem so with the way his mother had just reacted.  

“Nice to meet you, Magnus,” Robert said.  “But why can’t you ever bring home a girl,” he jokingly added as he snuck up behind Alec and clasped his shoulders.  Alec went rigid, but Robert didn't seemed to notice as he walked back around the table to open the fridge.  

Magnus glanced at Alec, who was staring down at the table.  One elbow was propped on the tabletop, and he clenched and unclenched his hand vacantly, almost as if he didn't realize he was doing it.  Isabelle and Jace exchange glances.  

“Dad, I can barely make friends, let alone get dates,” Alec said quietly, and Magnus picked up on Alec’s deliberate lack of using the word ‘girls.’ Robert, who’d taken a beer out of the fridge, was swigging it from one hand while undoing the tie he was wearing with the other.  

“That’s cause you don’t put yourself out there, like Jace,” he said after he'd taken a drink, Alec closed his eyes while Jace grimaced at having been brought into the conversation.  

“You met someone already, right Jace?” Robert asked.  

Jace cleared his throat.  “Uh, yes sir. Her name is Clary. She’s in one of my classes.”  

“There, see, Alec?” Robert said, having walked up to Alec again, and shook his shoulder.  Alec’s eyes were clenched shut and Magnus hoped the unintentional berating would end soon.  

“Your classes are half female.  Shouldn’t be that hard to meet someone.” 

Isabelle opened her mouth to speak up, but before she could, Max walked in.  

“Dad, can you come fix the TV? It’s doing that thing again,” he asked.  “Sure, kiddo,” Robert said and followed Max to the living room.  

The atmosphere around the kitchen was thick with tension and Alec stood up and left before anyone could comment.  The three left sitting exchanged worried looks before Magnus finally got up to find Alec.  He didn’t yet know the house very well, but he heard a door close down the hallway and thought he remembered seeing a bathroom there when he’d walked in.  

Magnus knocked on the door lightly and tried the knob, which, unsurprisingly, was locked.  “Alec?” he called softly.  He heard the lock click and he squeezed inside.  It was a small half bathroom with only a sink and a toilet, and Alec was in front of the sink, grasping the edges, his head bent.  Magnus closed the door behind him.  He noticed how hard Alec was gripping the sink, his knuckles white, the veins on his arms a stark blue against his pale skin, and Magnus gently pried one hand off the porcelain before it cracked under Alec’s grip.  

Alec let go of the sink completely and ran both hands through his hair, his breathing ragged and uneven, and Magnus wondered if he was having some kind of anxiety attack.  

“See this—this is why I can’t come out,” Alec shook his head and he backed up against the wall.  He wasn’t crying, but Magnus could sense he willing himself not to.  He said nothing, only enveloped Alec in a gentle hug.  Alec lowered his hands from his head and let the other boy hold him. 

“I think you could tell your siblings,” Magnus said softly and felt Alec stiffen underneath his touch. Alec dropped his forehead to Magnus’s shoulder and shook it gently.  “I think they already know,” Magnus added, and Alec pulled away then.  

“Why?” he asked, and Magnus could see the alarm and worry in his eyes, which were the bluest he’d ever seen them. Magnus shrugged a shoulder. 

“Just a hunch.” He reached up to cup one of Alec’s cheeks and ran his thumb along the soft skin.  “They love you. They would understand.” 

“My dad loves me, too. Should I tell him?” Alec practically spat, and Magnus could tell he was being facetious. 

“Siblings are different than parents.  They can be more accepting, and sometimes it’s easier to confide in them.  Not that I would know,” he shrugged again, “but I’ve heard stories.” 

Alec sighed and stepped away from Magnus, running another hand through his hair which was currently jutting out in all directions.  Magnus suppressed a smile and smoothed it down for him, then kissed him gently.  

“Just think about it? Please?” 

Alec only dipped his head, and Magnus took that as a yes.  

When they got back to the kitchen, both Jace and Isabelle were gone, their school work having been cleaned up.  Alec thought it best if Magnus left, so he gathered his own supplies and Alec walked him to the door and they stepped out onto the porch. 

Magnus rested his hands on Alec’s hips and touched their foreheads together.  “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” he said, and Alec nodded and gave him a small smile.  They kissed gently but quickly and Magnus reluctantly pulled away and made his way to his car.                    

--

Alec stood in front of the door to Isabelle’s room, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides.  

“Izzy?” he called softly and gave her door a gentle tap, knowing she wouldn’t be asleep yet.  

“Come in,” he heard her call from the other side of the door.  

He let himself in, then closed the door softly behind him.  Isabelle was perched on the foot of her bed, one foot propped on the edge as she painted her toenails.  Her TV was on, but the sound was turned down low.  

“Can I talk to you for a sec?” he asked, and he twisted his hand anxiously around the cuff he wore on his other wrist.  She gestured for him to sit, so he sat down on the floor in front of her, leaning back against the bed.  She seemed to be having trouble painting her toenails herself, so he reached a hand back and, after a beat, Isabelle put the bottle in his hand.  He grabbed her leg and draped it over his shoulder, then proceeded to finish the paint job, something he’d always done for her when they had been younger.  It had been a long time since he'd done it for her, and he secretly sometimes missed it.     

“So what’s up?” she asked, after waiting for Alec to speak.  

“I have to tell you something,” he said. 

“Okay.” 

Alec waited a few more seconds, trying to determine the best way to tell his sister.  He didn’t want to be so…cliché about it. 

“You like Magnus, right?” he said finally.  

“Yeah, he’s nice. Snazzy dresser." 

“He and I are kind of…seeing each other,” he said quietly and was suddenly grateful he wasn’t facing Isabelle; not looking her in the eye made the process so much easier.  

Isabelle said nothing for a few seconds, and Alec felt his heartbeat speed up, suddenly determining that telling her had been a bad idea.  

“I know,” she said finally, and he stopped painting.  He suddenly wondered if Magnus had told her already and that was why he’d been so persistent.  

“I mean,” she added, “I didn’t know, but I assumed.” 

“You did?” he asked softly, and lifted his head.  Isabelle didn’t answer but only leaned forward and rested her chin on her brother’s head.  

“I like Magnus. He seems good for you,” she said, trying to reassure Alec that she didn’t mind.  Alec released a shaky breath, then laughed lightly.  He gestured for her to switch legs, so she did, and he started on her other foot.  

“Does Jace know too?” he asked.  

“I think so. But you should tell him anyway. You know how he’ll act if he finds out you told me and not him,” she said, and Alec could practically hear her smiling. 

“Yeah, maybe I will,” he said, though it was mostly to himself.  Isabelle wrapped her arms around his neck carefully, so as not to bump him while he painted, and hugged him.  

“And Alec?” she said. “Don’t listen to dad.” 

Alec playfully tugged on a lock of Isabelle’s hair that had fallen free of her top knot.  He was grateful for his sister and that he’d taken Magnus’s advice, and all the tension he hadn’t realized he’d been holding suddenly melted off him.    

 

Alec lay on his bed after talking with Isabelle, his phone held above him as he tried not to drop it on his face.  The talk with his sister, as well as Magnus texting him shortly after, had put aside any intrusive thoughts about hurting himself that had been brought on by his dad.  His bag had stayed taped to the underside of his sink cabinet, and he was currently staring up at his phone rereading his text convos with Magnus from the past few days.  He couldn’t believe how hard he’d fallen since Monday. A small smile played on his lips as he scrolled through the texts.  But a sudden knock on his door startled him and he barely managed to avoid dropping the phone on himself and knocking a tooth out.  

He got up and opened the door, half expecting it to be Isabelle, and blinked in surprise when he saw Jace. He was dressed for bed, in plaid pajama pants and a t-shirt, and Alec assumed the shirt was for his benefit since he knew for a fact that Jace didn’t sleep in one.  

“Hey, can I come in?” Jace asked and sidled past Alec before getting a response.  

“Okay?” Alec answered and shut the door behind them.  Jace made himself comfortable by sprawling back against Alec’s pillows and putting his hands behind his head, so Alec sat down at the foot, one leg curled beneath him.  

“Did you talk to Izz or something?” Alec questioned him, thinking maybe Isabelle had decided to tell Jace first anyway, and now Jace was confronting him about it.  

Jace shook his head.  “Not since we came up from the kitchen earlier. Why?” 

Alec shrugged. “No reason,” he said and picked at a piece of string poking out of his comforter.  Jace sighed and put his hands in his lap.

“I’m sorry about Robert,” he said, causing Alec to look up.  

“Why are you apologizing for him?” Alec asked, shaking his head in disbelief.  

Jace leaned forward and crossed his legs in front of him, trying to get his wording right.  “I hate it when he compares us,” Jace said.  “And I’m sorry that no matter what I do, he always seems to use that against you as some type of dig.  I don’t try to make things harder for you.” 

“Jace, you shouldn’t have to apologize for dad, or change who you are just because you’re worried about what he’ll say to me. That’s not your burden to carry.” Alec looked at Jace somberly.  He hated being compared to his adopted brother, but it wasn’t Jace’s fault, and Alec didn’t want him feeling guilty about it.  

“But it is, because you’re my brother.  And you shouldn’t have to bring home girls just to keep up with me,” Jace said.  And before Alec could change his mind, the words were tumbling out of his mouth.  

“Jace, I’m gay.” 

Jace looked taken aback, and Alec pursed his lips, suddenly wishing he hadn’t said anything.  Jace and Isabelle might share similar personalities, but Isabelle was Alec's blood, while Jace was not, and he knew Jace wouldn't feel obligated to accept him. 

“I know,” the blonde said then, and Alec blinked.  

“You think I can’t see how you and Magnus eye fuck each other?” Jace smirked and quirked an eyebrow.  

Alec’s face flamed up. “Oh my god,” he murmured as he turned to stare at the wall while Jace just snickered.  

“Sorry man, but you should learn to be more discreet.” 

“Get out,” Alec said loudly and closed his eyes.  Jace laughed again and stood up, grasping Alec’s shoulder fondly on his way to the door.  

“Night, bud,” he said as he made to leave.  

“Wait, Jace,” Alec called, and the other boy stopped in the doorway.  “Thanks,” he said and gave his brother a small smile.  Jace smiled back and closed the door behind him.  

Chapter Text

Alec woke up the next morning to the sound of something buzzing and groggily grabbed for his phone before ultimately knocking it off his nightstand to the floor. He felt around for it with his eyes still closed and answered it without even bothering to look at the name. 

“Hullo?” he mumbled, burying his face into the pillow. 

“Waaake uuup, Alexander,” Magnus sang on the other end, and Alec sighed. 

“Mmm what time is it?”  

Magnus snickered on the other end. “It’s like 9, Alec. Don’t worry, I let you sleep in.” 

Alec groaned. “I’m starting to regret this relationship,” he muttered, and Magnus snorted.

“You have 15 minutes to get ready until I pick you up,” Magnus added with finality, and before Alec could argue, he’d hung up. Alec stared at his phone and frowned before dropping it on the bed and closing his eyes again. He really only needed ten minutes to get ready anyway. Sleeping for another five wouldn’t hurt.   

Sometime later Alec felt his comforter wrenched off him, and the light flicked on. He woke with a start to see Magnus standing at the foot of his bed, his arms crossed in front of him and his fingers tapping impatiently against his bicep. Alec fell back against his pillows, flinging an arm over his eyes. Magnus just rolled his. 

“Rise and shine darling. You’ve already cost us fifteen minutes.”  

Alec groaned and reluctantly sat up but made no further move to get out of bed and still had his eyes closed. Reaching forward, Magnus grabbed his hands and gently hauled him to his feet, then pushed him toward the bathroom. When the door closed behind Alec, Magnus had to remember for future reference that Alec was apparently not a morning person. 

 

As Alec busied himself in the bathroom, Magnus walked around the bedroom taking in the small idiosyncrasies that were Alec. A few band posters hung on the walls along with pictures of Alec and his family; his desk was littered with homework, a laptop peeking out underneath; and Magnus quirked an eyebrow at a bow and quiver leaning together in the corner of the room, having vaguely recalled Alec telling him he was teaching himself archery.

He heard the shower start and it suddenly dawned on him that Alec didn’t have a change of clothes in the bathroom with him. That’ll be interesting, he thought to himself as he sat down on the bed to wait, and sure enough, a few minutes later Alec emerged from the bathroom in nothing but a towel around his waist and dripping wet hair. He looked startled to see Magnus, as if he’d forgotten the other boy was still there, and he cleared his throat awkwardly, a tinge of red creeping up his chest and neck. Magnus bit back a laugh while he simultaneously tried to keep from throwing himself at Alec, while the other boy went to his dresser to find something to wear.  

“So how did you get in?” Alec asked, trying to diffuse the awkwardness of being half naked, though luckily, Magnus didn't seem too perturbed by it. And as much as the idea thrilled him of having Magnus in his bedroom while he himself was only in a towel, he wasn't about to do anything with his parents sleeping down the hall.   

“Your sister. She happened to be in the kitchen when I knocked, after calling your phone three times with no answer,” Magnus said, his tone slightly annoyed. He’d lain back against the pillows and kicked his shoes off, his hands folded behind his head. 

Alec found an outfit and clutched it to his chest with one hand. “Yeah, sorry about that. I must’ve turned the ringer off by accident. I’m not really a morning person.” 

“Evidently,” Magnus smirked. “Now get your white butt back in there and finish getting ready,” he added and jerked a thumb toward the bathroom. Alec did as he was told, closing the bathroom door behind him. 

 

Five minutes later, he came back out in much the same outfit he usually wore: jeans and a hooded jacket over a worn T-shirt. But in Magnus’s opinion, Alec could’ve come out wearing a burlap sack and still would’ve looked good without even trying. He was sure Alec used no product at all in his hair—which was still slightly damp and hanging lankly around his face—and it just made Magnus want to run his fingers through it even more. 

“You’re staring,” Alec said, and Magnus blinked. Swinging his long legs off the bed, he stood up and quickly put his shoes back on and crossed the room, pulling Alec into his arms, his lips touching the other boy's without protest. 

“Good morning,” he murmured against Alec’s mouth after their kiss. “Are we awake now?” 

Alec grinned. “Definitely,” he said, his hands snaking up under Magnus’s shirt to caress the soft skin of his back. 

“Good, ‘cause we’re running late,” Magnus added and pulled away, but kept one hand in Alec’s as he led him downstairs. They passed the kitchen on their way to the door and saw Isabelle still seated at the island, eating cereal and looking at her phone. She jumped off the stool when she saw them and silently bounded toward them on her toes. 

“Oh my god, you guys are so cute together!” she squealed quietly, fully aware that half the people in the house were still sleeping. 

Alec groaned and rolled his eyes. Magnus himself was trying to understand where these two Lightwood siblings got their strikingly good looks from, seeing as how Isabelle was currently in an old T-shirt and sweatpants with her messy hair in a bun and no makeup and still looked as radiant as ever. The world was unfair, in his opinion. 

“So where are you guys going?” Isabelle asked excitedly, looking from one boy to the other. 

Magnus shrugged, his hand still in Alec’s, and grinned. “Just out and about," he said elusively.  Alec gave Isabelle a wary glance and shrugged too, having as much of an idea as she did about what Magnus had planned. 

“Have fun then,” Isabelle said and smiled, clearly happy for her brother, then closed the door behind them as they walked outside. 

 

When they got in Magnus’s car, he handed Alec a large thermal cup that was filled with coffee. 

“Oh my god, thank you,” Alec beamed, and Magnus grinned and started the car. 

“So where are we going?” Alec asked after a few minutes on the road and a few drinks from his cup. The coffee was still hot and had a hint of sugar in it. He approved. 

“It’s a surprise,” Magnus said, and Alec narrowed his eyes. “Now before you go thinking it, it’s not anything cheesy or romantic,” Magnus added, and he thought Alec seemed kind of disappointed. “I’m saving that for later,” he winked, and Alec wasn’t sure whether he was joking or not. 

“I see you took my advice by the way,” Magnus said a few minutes later. 

Alec, who’d been staring out the window absentmindedly, turned to Magnus. 

“You told Isabelle,” he clarified. 

“Oh,” Alec said. “Yeah. And Jace. Though they already knew.” He shrugged and took another drink. 

“Are you okay?” Magnus asked, suddenly wondering why Alec didn’t seem happier. 

“Yeah, I just...wish I could tell my parents,” he confessed. Having Jace and Isabelle know was a huge weight off his shoulders, but it would never make up for the crushing expectations his parents had on him. Magnus reached over and took Alec’s hand in his own. “I know,” he said softly. They continued to drive while Alec made a game of trying to guess where they were headed, and after several miles, they finally arrived at their destination, and Alec stared up at the sign. 

“A...Renaissance faire?” he said skeptically. 

“Too lame?” Magnus winced. 

“No it’s—it’s great. This is awesome,” Alec said, his face lighting up, and even though Magnus hadn't known Alec for very long, he could tell Alec was being genuine. His ability to lie well was almost nonexistent and Magnus wondered how he’d kept his sexuality a secret from his parents for so long, unless they were like Magnus’s parents who ignored it, hoping it was “just a phase.” 

 

Alec’s eyes shined brightly as they got out of the car and he took in everything the faire had. Magnus paid their way in since Alec had paid for their last date and they entered to find themselves immersed in all things medieval. Magnus stared longingly at the extravagant costumes of both the festival employees and the patrons, wishing he’d been able to dress up too, but didn't want to make Alec feel embarrassed. 

Alec looked around with wonder. He’d always wanted to go to a Renaissance faire but could never get anyone to accompany him. He thought that Max would enjoy it and told himself to remember to bring him the following year. 

They walked around the faire grounds, taking in the elaborate costumes, watching jugglers, and even attended a jousting match, while proceeding to eat way too much faire food.  They tried out a few games and Alec surprised Magnus when he was able to hit a bullseye in both archery and ax throwing, garnering prizes from both, which he gave to Magnus with a shy smile.  They both got henna tattoos, and walked through a fairy forest, stopping to kiss under a copse of brightly lit trees adorned with string lights.  A petting zoo caught Alec’s eye on their way out of the forest, and they fed baby goats, though most of them were more interested in trying to eat Magnus’s clothes.  They visited a cove of mermaids, an elaborate medieval village, and a pirates’ ship, complete with plank walking for those who so dared. And while Alec had walked through the faire in wonder, Magnus had marveled just watching Alec, who was like a kid in a candy store.  He hadn’t known him for very long, but his demeanor was completely different at the faire than he’d seen of it so far.  Magnus wondered just how bad Alec was still hurting inside since transferring schools, for his mood consistently bordered on melancholy; he had yet to see Alec as happy and animated as he was now. 

The sun was starting to set by the time they’d made several trips around the grounds, and adorned several different costume pieces including pirate hats and fairy wings, and though there was still much to do, they were both exhausted. 

“Did you have fun?” Magnus asked as they walked back to the car, his hands in his pockets.  He had one of his prizes from Alec—a teddy bear dressed like a dungeon master with a black hood over its head and a play ax in one hand. “Kinky,” Magnus had said and winked when Alec handed it to him—tucked through one arm.  He wore the other prize proudly: a set of fairy wings that Alec had won for getting a bullseye in archery.  

“Yeah, it was great,” Alec smiled animatedly.  “I’ve always wanted to go to one of these but could never get anyone to come with me,” he confessed.  

“Really? We should make it an annual thing then,” Magnus suggested as he tossed the teddy bear up in the air and caught it.  Alec blushed at the thought of still being with Magnus for that long. Not that he didn’t want to be with Magnus; it just seemed unlikely to Alec that Magnus would stay with him year after year.   

“Yeah, maybe,” Alec smiled and ducked his head, hoping his pirate hat shielded his blush. 

 

“So what now?” he asked as they situated themselves back in the car and Magnus started it up.  

Magnus shrugged.  “Do you want me to take you home?” he wondered.  Alec leaned his head in his hand, his elbow propped on the door.  

“Do you want to take me home?” He was giving Magnus the power to choose.  He didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t ready to go home yet, but also didn’t want to encroach on Magnus’s whole day; it seemed like overkill to him. Alec wasn’t that interesting.  So it surprised him when Magnus shook his head slowly. 

“We can go hang out at my house? Since it’s getting kind of late and all,” Magnus suggested, and Alec noticed that Magnus was avoiding looking him in the eye when he asked.  

“Your mom won’t mind?” 

Magnus shook his head.  “She’s got some kind of charity dinner tonight or something,” he said and waved a hand dismissively, and Alec’s heart sped up at the thought of being alone with him again.  

 

When they arrived at Magnus’s house, he grabbed his fairy wings from the backseat and led Alec inside.  

“Mom?” he called but got no answer.  “Guess she left already,” he shrugged, then tossed his keys and wallet onto the kitchen table.  

 Alec leaned back against the table, his hands gripping the edge.  “So what should we do?” he asked.  Magnus walked up to him and planted his own arms on either side of Alec, boxing him in.  

“I can think of one thing,” he said, his mouth hovering above Alec’s.  Alec’s heart beat rhythmically faster in his chest as he anticipated Magnus’s lips on his. Just then his stomach growled loudly, breaking the silence behind Magnus’s words, and he pursed his lips together to keep from grinning.  

“Sorry,” he said.  “Guess that giant turkey leg didn’t hold me over for very long.”  

Magnus snickered and kissed Alec anyway, quick and chaste, then suggested ordering a pizza. 

 

He decided to give Alec a tour of the house while they waited for the food to arrive, since Alec had only seen the kitchen and Magnus’s room the last time, though they were so caught up in other things that Alec only really remembered the bed.  Magnus’s house wasn’t quite as big as Alec’s, but by the time they finished the tour, the pizza had arrived.    

After paying the pizza guy, Magnus suggested they watch a movie and led Alec to the living room where he let him choose what to watch, but Alec ultimately allowed Magnus to decide. He obliged, then apologized for his TV not having streaming capabilities yet, and having to resort to a DVD player.  Alec reassured him he didn't mind, and took a seat on the couch to wait, while munching on a piece of pizza.  Magnus grabbed a piece too as he chose a movie, then popped it in the player and adjusted the lights.  

He sat down next to Alec on the couch, so close that their thighs touched, and Alec steadied his breathing while he simultaneously tried not to choke on his pizza.  He had to remind himself that they’d made out pretty heavily multiple times already, and Magnus had even seen Alec’s scars, yet he was still flustered at the proximity of the other boy next to him.   

“Oh, do you mind if I run to the bathroom?” Alec asked after he inhaled his second piece of pizza.  

“You know what? Good idea,” Magnus agreed and paused the movie.  “Why don’t you go down here, and I’ll use the one upstairs?”

Alec closed the bathroom door behind him, wishing he had gum or a mint.  He checked around the sink for toothpaste but found none so he did his best to rinse his mouth of any lingering pizza taste.  He wasn’t sure what would happen during the movie, but he was certain he would be kissing Magnus again before the night was over.  

When he got back to the living room, Magnus was already there on the couch, the remote propped in his hand.  He hit the play button as Alec sat back down, and Alec wished he’d arrived first.  He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to sit, or why he was acting like they were still on a first-date basis. 

Magnus crossed his long legs in front of him and draped an arm over the back of the couch behind Alec, and Alec’s heart sped up.  He wasn’t sure if it was an invitation or not, but he leaned into Magnus’s side anyway.  The older boy didn’t object and Alec soon felt nimble fingers running through his hair and scratching his scalp.  His stomach fluttered at the gentle touch, but more than anything, Magnus’s ministrations were calming and causing Alec’s eyelids to droop.  Their day at the faire had made him exhausted and he struggled to keep his eyes open.  

 

An explosion sounded on the TV and Alec was startled awake, not realizing he’d fallen asleep.  

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly as he rubbed his eye.  “Must’ve been more tired than I thought.” 

Magnus laughed lightly and turned the volume down.  “No worries.  I was starting to fall asleep myself.” 

“Maybe you just picked a boring movie,” Alec joked, and Magnus narrowed his eyes at him.  

“Well if you don’t want to watch the movie, I know something else that will keep us awake.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” Alec wondered and suddenly Magnus was kissing him.

Alec didn’t have any objections and he smiled against Magnus’s mouth as he tasted mint, knowing Magnus must have brushed his teeth in the bathroom and hoped his own breath didn’t still taste like pizza.  

Their tongues dipped together and Alec took Magnus by the hips as the other boy pushed him back against the arm rest before moving to Alec’s neck and throat.  Alec let out a breathy whimper, which only encouraged Magnus, and he shivered as he felt Alec’s fingers slide up under his shirt and caress his bare waist before moving up and over his stomach and chest.  He pulled away to yank his shirt off and toss it to the floor in one quick motion, and Alec followed, throwing his jacket and shirt to the floor in a heap next to Magnus’s.  Magnus could see the faint white lines on Alec’s stomach at the edge of his vision, but he ignored them and their mouths met again, more eager this time, and Alec’s hands found their way to Magnus’s hips again, his fingers dipping under the waistband of Magnus’s tight jeans and grazing the skin there.  Magnus moved to Alec’s neck once more, biting and sucking and enjoying the taste of him, while he simultaneously palmed Alec over his jeans with one hand.  Alec gave a jerk, clearly surprised at the sudden contact.  

“Too much?” Magnus murmured against his skin, and Alec could only shake his head.  He captured Alec’s mouth with his own again while continuing to rub Alec, who was squirming underneath him, through the stiff denim, so Magnus decided to stop teasing and, without breaking their kiss, undid Alec’s button and zipper.  He reached in and cupped Alec over the thin fabric there, and Alec’s breath caught in his throat.  His fingers dug into Magnus’s hips at the feel of someone else’s hands on him and he panted against the other boy’s shoulder.  Magnus trailed kisses along Alec’s jaw as he pulled down on Alec’s jeans.  Alec arched his back as Magnus’s hand slid between the fabric and Alec’s bare skin, encircling him, sliding up and down and over, and Alec was already wound so tight that it didn’t take long for Magnus’s glorious hand to bring him off.  

He panted and swallowed, his throat dry, as Magnus finished, but Alec wasn’t quite done yet.  Leaning up, he kissed the dewey skin of Magnus’s neck, then his collar bone, all the while sliding his hands under Magnus’s waistband and kneading the soft flesh under his boxers.  Magnus let out a small moan, and Alec moved to undo the other boy’s own jeans before pulling them down around his hips and taking Magnus in his own hand.  Magnus’s head dipped down into the crook of Alec’s neck as Alec brought him off, which, like Alec, didn’t take long at all.  Grabbing a wad of napkins from the floor near the pizza box, Alec cleaned both of them up before tossing the napkins back to the floor and then readjusting them both.  Magnus, who was still poised above Alec, felt his arms start to shake.  

“I think my arms are going to give out on me,” he laughed breathlessly, so Alec wrapped his own arms around Magnus’s waist and gently pulled him down until they were flush against each other, Magnus’s head against Alec’s shoulder.  

They closed their eyes, tired and spent, and lay like that for several minutes before Alec spoke up.  

“You think we should get up before your mom gets home?” he murmured.  

Magnus made a noncommittal noise, but didn’t budge.  A few minutes later they heard the sound of the garage door opening and they jumped away from each other, throwing their shirts on in the process.  When Magnus’s mom came into the living room, Magnus was seated on one end of the couch, eating another slice of now cold pizza, and Alec was on the other end looking at this phone.  

“Hi, mom. How was the dinner?” Magnus asked nonchalantly.  

“Oh, it was fine,” she replied.  “What are you boys up to?” 

“Just watching a movie…” Magnus trailed off, realizing the movie had been over for some time and was back to the menu screen.  

“Darn this dvd player,” he muttered and started messing with the remote.  Alec had to bite back a laugh. 

“I’m gonna head up to bed. Nice to see you again, Alec. Good to see your eye is looking better,” Magnus’s mom smiled warmly, and Alec blushed and thanked her. 

When she was out of ear shot, Alec finally spoke up. 

“Uh, Magnus?” he said and pulled on the shirt Magnus had thrown on.  Magnus looked down at the shirt in confusion. It was inside out. It was also Alec’s.  Alec looked down at his own shirt, which was actually Magnus’s, but Alec had had enough sense to turn it right side in.  Magnus bust out laughing, and Alec clapped a hand over his own mouth but couldn’t hide his amusement for long, and soon they were both cracking up.  

“What now?” Magnus asked after a few minutes of uninterrupted laughter.  He wiped away tears, sure that any eye makeup he’d been wearing was now smudged beyond repair.  

“I should probably go; it’s getting kind of late.  I'm sure Isabelle told my parents I was with you but I don’t want them to start worrying since I’ve been gone for like twelve hours,” Alec said, though if it were up to him, he’d spend the whole night with Magnus.  

“Okay, I’ll take you home,” Magnus said and stood up, then they switched shirts, cleaned up their pizza mess, and left. 

Chapter Text

Isabelle had grilled Alec when he’d gotten home after his date with Magnus about what they had done all day, and he gave her most of the details, aside from their little romp on the couch.  And the short make out session in the car when Magnus had pulled up to his house to drop him off. 

While it disappointed him that their night had to end, Alec had gone to bed with a smile on his face, happier than he’d been in a while.  He’d been so exhaustingly happy, in fact, that he’d fallen asleep in his clothes after tipping face first onto his bed, his pirate hat dropping from his fingers to the floor.  

He’d texted Magnus after he got out of bed the next morning, the pirate hat on the floor bringing on a wave of happy, distant memories. He plucked it from the carpet and tossed it onto his desk, but his mood faltered as a text from Magnus came in, indicating that he wouldn’t be around much that day.  He’d promised his mom he’d run errands with her, and Alec remembered they both still had homework to complete before Monday. And though Alec already missed Magnus fiercely, he had to remind himself that it was unreasonable for them to be together all the time.  

So Alec was glad when Monday finally rolled around, even though he was mentally over school by this point, senioritis setting in already.  He stopped at his locker, waving bye to Jace and Isabelle, and immediately perked up when he saw Magnus walking toward him.  The taller boy leaned against the locker next to Alec’s, and it took everything in Magnus not to grab him and kiss him, but he knew Alec wouldn’t want that while they were at school.  Alec still wasn’t out to anyone but two of his siblings and Magnus didn’t want to make things more difficult for him.

They walked down the hallway together after Alec got his books, other students milling around them, and Magnus dropped Alec off at his English class before making his way to the office.  

 ————

When study lab rolled around, Alec had briefly stopped by Magnus’s lab before leaving to visit one of his teachers for help on an assignment.  The halls were mostly empty save for the few other students who traveled during lab, and Alec walked steadily back to this own room, his hands in his jacket pockets, not in any hurry to get back.  It was just his luck that Sebastian and his friends clambered around a corner and spotted Alec by himself.  Alec kept his head down, but that didn’t stop the other boys from engaging.  

“Look, guys, it’s the boy toy and his big mouth. You use that big mouth to suck your boyfriend off?” Sebastian taunted, and his friends bust out laughing around him. Alec tried not to let the comment get to him and kept walking.  He shouldered past Sebastian, but was stopped by his friends, until they surrounded him in a circle.  Apparently Alec’s speech at Taki’s the other night did nothing to get Sebastian off his back.  The poor kid really must not have had a lot going on.  

“I have to get back to my lab,” Alec said, crossing his arms in front of him in annoyance.  

Sebastian only scoffed and gave Alec a hard shove before he could react.  Alec stumbled back into one of the other boys who gripped him by the shoulders and held on.  Two others took Alec by the arms as he struggled to break free.  

Sebastian flexed his fingers.  “Been wanting to do this again all week,” he grinned maniacally, and reeled his arm back. 

“Hey!” someone shouted behind Sebastian and grabbed him by the shoulder.  Sebastian must not have heard them approach and he wrenched his arm back, his elbow connecting with something hard, and they all heard a grunt.  He whipped around, and Alec saw Jace there, bent over with his hand over his face.  When he pulled it back, blood dripped from his nose over his mouth and chin into his palm.  Alec saw this and snapped.  He didn’t so much care what happened to himself, but his siblings had nothing to do with whatever Sebastian’s problem was with Alec, and Isabelle had already gotten caught in the middle. He broke free of the other boys’ grips, a guttural growl escaping his throat, and threw himself at Sebastian, tackling him around the middle.  They both landed hard on the tile floor until Alec was straddling the other boy, his fists connecting with Sebastian’s face.  Sebastian threw his hands up and tried to roll Alec off of him, and they tumbled around on the floor while Sebastian’s friends egged him on.  Jace shouted for Alec to stop, not wanting to get himself hit again, while a crowd of students formed around them to watch the display, shouts of encouragement for both boys coming from all sides.  

“Hey, what’s going on here?” someone shouted over the noise.  

“Alec? Alec, stop!” 

Alec found himself on top of Sebastian again, but before he could get anymore substantial blows in, he was wrenched off the other boy from behind.  Jace jumped in between the two boys as Sebastian got to his feet, his chest heaving, while Magnus held an irate Alec back.  Both boys were panting, though Sebastian looked worse off, his face bruised and swollen.  

“What is going on here?” a booming voice asked again.  The vice principal, Mr. Garroway, stood in the middle of the now ended brawl like a dark thunder cloud.  The large audience that had formed around the circle of boys, in no hurry to leave, waited to see what would happen next.  

“Everyone back to class. All of you, in my office, NOW,” Garroway barked, causing all seven boys to flinch, then follow him wordlessly to his office.  

 —————

 It had taken the rest of study lab and most of lunch for Garroway to talk to all of the boys that had been involved.  It was four against three that Sebastian had been acting in self-defense, but judging by Sebastian’s previous track record, Garroway didn’t really buy it.  But because it was his word against Alec’s, with no other witnesses besides Jace to back up Alec’s story, there wasn’t anything Garroway could do to Sebastian, unless both he and Alec wanted to be suspended.  

Magnus had tried to explain to Garroway about the bullying that had been occurring since Alec had transferred in, but Garroway only promised to bring it up with Magnus’s mom, and Magnus slumped down in his chair, scowling.  He didn’t have to look at Sebastian to know he had a smug look on his smashed up face.    

Garroway decided to be lenient on Alec, since he was new, but ended up suspending Sebastian for the rest of the day, and giving him in-school suspension for the remainder of the week.  He sloped past Alec, Magnus, and Jace on his way out of the office, glaring at all of them while sporting another black eye, multiple bruises, and a busted lip.  Alec kept his gaze on the floor, suffering only a bruise on his cheek, and scuffed and swollen knuckles, which he held an ice pack over.  By the time Garroway had finally released the three boys, all of their lunches were over, and their second to last class was halfway done.  He might as well have just sent them home too.  Alec knew how fast word traveled in the school, and didn't want to field any questions.   

As they walked out of the office, Jace, who had an ice pack held over his nose, bid Alec goodbye and told him that he’d see him at the car when school let out.  Alec told Magnus he had to stop at his locker for something and assured him he would be fine on his own, but he’d text him when he got home.  Magnus reluctantly agreed, and walked off as well toward his own class.  

As Alec made his way to this locker down the empty hallway from Garroway’s office, he noticed papers taped to the walls up and down the hallways, and they fluttered as he walked by.  He didn’t stop to look at them, only kept his head down until he got to the hallway with his locker in it.  He saw more of the same papers taped to the row of lockers surrounding his.  When he arrived at his own, a paper was stuck to the small, metal door and he pulled it off, then felt his stomach drop as he got a good look at it.  The paper was a copy of a collage of pictures, and all of the pictures were of he and Magnus together.  The words “the bodyguard and his boy toy” were written in large letters over the pictures, but didn’t detract from the pictures themselves.  One was of he and Magnus at the faire, holding hands; one was from the movies when they had leaned into each other; and there were several of them kissing, from inside Magnus’s car, on Alec’s front porch, and even outside of Taki’s. 

Alec could feel himself starting to hyperventilate.  He didn’t know where these pictures had come from; Sebastian and his friends must have been following them, which was both creepy and invasive.  But they were currently out for the whole school to see.  Magnus was different — he was already out to everyone  — but Alec didn’t want to have to come out to his parents because some asshole kid at his school wouldn’t leave him alone. And this just opened him up for more bullying from other students.  

He crumpled the paper in his hand and used the other one to hold himself up against the lockers, his blood rushing in his ears as he tried to catch his breath, to keep his legs from giving out.  

“Alec!” someone called but he didn’t look up.  Suddenly Magnus was by his side, keeping him from falling.  He’d seen the flyers as he was walking back to his own classroom and had turned on a dime to try to find Alec. There were a few students in the hallway now, looking at the papers quizzically, and they turned to look in their direction.  

“Come on, let’s go outside,” Magnus muttered, grateful they were near the front doors, and he pulled Alec out behind him.  He sat Alec on a stone bench just outside and Alec put his head in his hands, his breath coming out in ragged gasps.  

 “I can’t—Magnus, I can’t do this anymore,” he stuttered.  “It’s too much—I can’t—” He shook his head violently, and Magnus was afraid he was going to tear his hair out.  

 “Ok, I know,” Magnus murmured, trying to soothe him.  He gently took Alec’s hands in his own and lowered them from his head.  

 “Do you want me to take you home?” 

 By now Alec had started crying, tears trailing down his pale skin as he squeezed his eyes shut in frustration.  

 “I-I can’t. I have the keys,” came his response as he took in another ragged breath.  

 “It’s okay, we’ll figure something out,” Magnus reassured him and pulled him up off the bench.  They made their way to Magnus’s car—he didn’t trust Alec to drive himself home—and when Alec got into the passenger’s side and closed the door, he broke down completely.  Though Magnus’s heart ached for him, this would make it easier to get past the security guard always positioned in front of the entrance to the parking lot.  He pulled his car up next to the patrol car, recognizing the officer on duty.  

 “Hey, Alarick,” Magnus said after rolling his window down.  

“Magnus,” the officer said and tilted his head slightly.  He was wearing sunglasses, though Magnus could tell he was trying to peer in to his car to see what was going on.  “Where are you off to?” 

“My friend’s grandma just passed away,” he said, indicating an emotionally distraught Alec who wasn’t holding back his sobs.  “I’m gonna run him home real quick so he doesn’t have to be around everyone when school lets out.” 

“Just make sure you come back,” Alarick said, and Magnus promised he would, then he drove off.  It paid to be the principal’s son sometimes. 

 

Magnus handed Alec a pack of tissues that he kept in his glove compartment, and by the time they reached Alec’s house, he was only sniffling.  He pulled over to the curb by the mailbox and put the car in park. 

“Are your parents home?” he asked and Alec only shook his head slowly as he stared out the passenger side window.  

“Are you going back to school?” Alec asked, turning to face Magnus.  His voice was small and hoarse from crying, and his eyes were bloodshot. 

“Not a chance." 

They got out and Magnus grabbed both their bags as Alec unlocked the front door and let them both in.  He fell into one of the chairs situated around the kitchen table and dropped his head in his hands.  

“Magnus, what am I gonna do?” he asked quietly.  

Magnus sat down in the chair next to Alec and was trying to find the right words to say without making the situation worse.  

“Alexander, is it--is it so bad if the school knows?” 

Alec’s head snapped up and Magnus flinched at the wild-eyed expression he wore.  “It’s—it’s my parents!” he said, his voice intense.  “What if they find out now? They can’t—I can’t tell them! My dad would kick me out, I know he would! And I can’t take the bullying anymore!” 

Magnus reached out and took the other boy in his arms, pulling him into a comforting embrace.  Alec let himself be held, his head dropping to Magnus’s shoulder.  He felt bone dry from the inside out from all the crying he’d done in the car.  

“I want to go up to my room,” he muttered against Magnus’s shirt.  Magnus nodded and they both stood.  He followed Alec upstairs and into his bedroom, where Alec promptly shut the bathroom door in Magnus’s face.  

“I just—I need to be alone for a minute,” Alec said through the door, and Magnus felt helpless on the other side, not sure what Alec would do, or how he could help him.  

Alec gripped the edge of the sink and hung his head.  He had that familiar itch that gnawed at him.  The pain in his heart was so intense that he just wanted to curl in a ball and never wake up.  He knew he could redirect that pain somewhere else, though.  He clenched his fist, the ache from his bruised knuckles helping with that pain, but not enough to mute it out.  He needed it gone completely. Reaching down, he pulled his bag out from under the sink and carefully took out its contents, conscious of the fact that Magnus was just a door’s width away. He took the black cuff off he always wore on his left wrist and held the object there, his vein vibrant against the harsh bathroom lighting, the old faded scars an even fiercer white than his pale skin.  He pressed down, feeling the pressure.  It had been a week to the day; all he had to do was move his hand.  

“Alec?” Magnus called from outside the bathroom.  Alec hesitated.  

“I’m here if you need me. You know that, right? I’ll always be here.” 

Alec squeezed his eyes shut. He knew that Magnus knew.  Magnus had seen the scars. They’d talked about it. He’d told Magnus he would promise he’d try to contact him whenever he felt that need.  But Magnus was here now. He didn’t have to resort to calling him.  Alec took a deep, shuddering breath and lowered his hand back to the sink, then quietly slipped the contents back into the bag, and put the bag back under the cabinet.  

When he opened the bathroom door, Magnus was still standing there, still feeling helpless.  Alec stepped out and the taller boy took Alec into his arms as a fresh wave of tears escaped. 

————

Magnus had talked Alec into lying down for a bit.  He hadn’t forgotten that Alec still needed to get his keys to Jace and Isabelle, so he set his alarm to go off so he’d have enough time to drive back to school, then laid down next to Alec on his bed.  It didn’t take long for Alec to fall asleep—the mental and emotional distress he’d experienced in just a few short hours had indeed taken their toll.  When Magnus’s phone buzzed from the alarm he contemplated waking Alec, but thought better of it.  He clearly needed the rest.  While he wasn’t comfortable leaving Alec alone in his current state, he hoped Alec would sleep until someone else showed up at the house, and he didn’t want to take Alec back to school just yet, not with the flyers circulating.  Carefully climbing off the bed, he made his way downstairs and found Alec’s keys, then slipped out of the house and drove back up to school.  He passed by Alarick and gave him a quick nod through the window before driving around the lot to Alec’s car. It was still a few minutes until school let out, so he waited patiently for Jace and Isabelle.  

About five minutes after the bell sounded, he saw Isabelle walking toward the car and he got out of his.  When she spotted him, he saw her eyes widen and she practically ran the rest of the way.  

“Magnus, what’s going on? I’ve been trying to get ahold of Alec for the last hour but he’s not answering. What were those flyers everywhere? Is he okay? Is he hurt?”

“Isabelle,” Magnus said, and she stopped talking.  He gripped her by the shoulders gently.  “Alexander is…” he trailed off.  He really didn’t know how Alec was. He wasn’t fine, and Magnus didn’t want to sugar coat it. “He’s a wreck,” Magnus said dejectedly and his shoulders slumped.  He saw Isabelle’s eyes fill with tears and he let go of her to lean back against the car, then ran a hand through his hair.  Isabelle leaned next to him and gingerly wiped a stray tear away.  

“Why did this happen?” she asked, and Magnus filled her in, starting with the fight that broke out during study lab, and recounted everything until just then, when he’d brought Alec’s keys, which he then handed to her.  

“Jesus…” Isabelle started to reply when they heard Jace calling.  

“Magnus, what are you doing here? Where’s Alec?” he demanded, then to both Magnus and Isabelle’s surprise, he grabbed Magnus by the front of the shirt and slammed him up against the car.  “Did you do this on purpose?” he growled, his fists shaking in the fabric of Magnus’s shirt. Jace was a whole head shorter than Magnus, so the fact that he was trying to intimidate him was comical. Magnus also wasn’t in the mood. He looked down at Jace’s hands bunched in his shirt with disdain, then grabbed him by the wrists and yanked Jace’s hands off of him.  

“I know how this must look,” Magnus said softly. “But I swear I never intended for any of this to happen.  I care about Alec—“ 

“Oh, you care about him?” Jace spat. “Gimme a break, you’ve known him for a week. And now look what’s happened.” 

“Jace, stop it,” Isabelle snapped.  “Magnus didn’t do anything wrong.” 

Magnus pinched the bridge of his nose and heard Isabelle sigh.  “God, this fucking school,” she said. “It’s no better than the rest of them.” 

“It’s that fucking Sebastian. He picks on everyone, but he seems to have it out for Alec especially,” Magnus said, crossing his arms in front of him. 

“Why Alec though?” 

Magnus sighed then. “It wasn’t Alec’s fault. Last Monday during his lunch, he accidentally ran into Sebastian. Literally. Spilled Sebastian’s food tray all over him. He’s been on Alec’s case ever since. That was the fight I broke up that you asked me about at Taki's.” 

Understanding washed over Jace, and Isabelle grimaced. “Alec never told us that,” she said. 

“Well no, he wouldn’t have. He didn’t want you to worry about him.”   

They stood there silent while Isabelle fiddled with the keys before Magnus spoke up again. 

“He didn’t want anyone to know,” he said softly, and both Isabelle and Jace looked up in confusion.  “About him. About us. I convinced him to tell both of you.  He’s terrified that your parents will find out though.” 

Isabelle opened her mouth to say something but Magnus cut her off. 

“Anyway, he was sleeping when I left.  Just make sure he’s all right when you get there.  And tell him I’ll call him later.  I just thought he’d want to be alone for a little bit.”   

Isabelle and Jace exchanged worrying glances, then bid Magnus goodbye and left. Magnus checked his phone when he got back in the car, just to see if Alec had woken up and contacted him. He felt bad about leaving so suddenly, but knew there was nothing he could do to help Alec in this situation besides being supportive. 

 ————

Alec awoke not long after Magnus had left, though he hadn't been surprised that he woke up alone.  He was sure his behavior had freaked Magnus out and that’s why he’d taken off.  He clenched his eyes shut as another wave of painful emotions washed over him.  Tears prickled his eyes but he didn’t wipe away the few that escaped, and he stifled a sob.  Magnus said he would always be there, but he’d left, and now Alec was alone again, and the pain was back tenfold.  He had tried to repress the urge, had turned to Magnus like he’d promised he would, but now Magnus was gone, and Alec was still hurting.  

Pushing himself up off the bed, he stumbled to the bathroom, groggy and disoriented, his head throbbing from all the crying he'd done.  He looked at his reflection in the mirror and scowled, wanting nothing more than to smash it to pieces, to take one of the shards and drive it into himself until the pain in his heart was muted by the pain everywhere else.  He knew he couldn’t do that, though.  So he did what he could and took out his familiar bag that he’d only just put back not long before.  He removed the contents, and this time he didn’t hesitate.  

 ————

Alec shouldn’t have been surprised when Isabelle and Jace barged into his bathroom that he forgot to lock behind him.  He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t heard them come in the house. Maybe he’d been too caught up in his task, or they were just being extra quiet when they got home.  He wasn’t even sure how they’d gotten home since he thought he still had the car keys. 

He wished he could scrub his memory of the image of their faces when they saw him.  He would denounce ever doing it again if it meant never having to recall what both Isabelle and Jace looked like in those moments when they found him.  He hadn’t even flinched, or tried to deny it.  What good would it have done? How do you explain away something like that? He couldn’t.  And now two of his siblings knew two of his deepest secrets.  His only secrets, really. And it was only a matter of time before his parents found out. 

Somehow he’d convinced Isabelle and Jace not to call 911, and not to tell Robert and Maryse.  He was sure that in telling them, they would then find out about him and Magnus.  Though word would travel through schools soon enough, he was certain.  His parents wouldn’t be home for another couple of hours, and Max would be home soon from school.  He didn’t want to see any of them.  He loved his family, even his stupid, homophobic dad, but if he had to spend any time around any of them, he was sure to break down.  The only person he wanted to be around didn’t want to be around him, and that made his situation all the more devastating.  

He clenched at his sheets, his wrist throbbing painfully beneath the gauze Isabelle had insisted on helping him apply, the pain making him forget his other worries, if only for a brief moment.  Isabelle had also taken his bag, and all of its contents.  She’d given him the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t go looking for it later.  He was back to laying on his bed, in the dark, trying to figure out why his life was such a train wreck.  

A knock on his door startled him from his thoughts and he cleared his throat.  It opened before he could tell whomever it was to go away.  Isabelle tentatively opened the door, the light from the hallway backlighting her into a dark silhouette.  He turned over in his bed to face her, but didn’t sit up.  She hesitated in the doorway and he could see something in her hand that looked like a mug.  

“I brought you some tea,” she said softly.  Truthfully he preferred coffee, but wondered if she thought the caffeine wasn’t good for him right at the moment. He sat up reluctantly as she entered the room.  He took the mug from her; it was warm and steam rose from the top that smelled like chamomile.  He wanted to say thank you but didn't trust his voice not to crack.  

“Also, here,” she added and pulled something from her back pocket before sitting down on the edge of the bed.  He looked down and saw his phone in her hand.  He wasn’t sure where she’d gotten it from, but he took it from her regardless. He held the mug in his other hand, the gauze on his wrist standing out glaringly like a glow-in-the-dark elephant in the room.  He didn’t know what to say to Isabelle, and she clearly didn’t know either.  He wished he’d put his black cuff back on.  

“I love you, Alec,” she said finally, her voice small, but all he could do was look away in shame, and after a few more minutes of silence, she stood and left, closing the door behind her.  He shut his eyes, wanting everything to end: his pain, his guilt for causing Isabelle pain…it was too much for him.  

When he shifted his other hand he noticed a message box on the screen of his phone from Magnus. He assumed Isabelle had heard it go off and had brought it to him for that reason. Fearing the worst, he opened it.     

 I’m sorry if you woke up and i wasn’t there—i took your keys back to school to give to isabelle, and i didn’t want to wake you because i thought you could use the rest 

i’ll talk to you later, ok?
Please don’t worry too much. everything will be all right <3

He took a small sip of the tea Isabelle had given him, then set it on the night stand and laid back down, his phone still opened to Magnus’s message.  He thought about calling him, but couldn’t bring himself to, not even sure what he would say. 

He heard the sound of a door opening and closing downstairs and assumed Max had gotten home.  He was glad Max’s school wasn’t anywhere near his new school.  Before he transferred, the elementary, middle, and high schools were all within walking distance of one another and Alec knew the flyer would’ve made it to Max’s school in no time if he was still attending Idris High.  And his sexuality was not something he wanted to discuss with his 9-year-old brother just yet.  

Alec jumped suddenly when his phone vibrated in his hand.  He saw another message from Magnus, asking if he wanted to meet up.  He wanted to see Magnus more than anything, but he was afraid of why Magnus wanted to see him. Maybe Magnus realized that being in a relationship with him was too much and was breaking it off before it ever really got going.  He couldn’t just avoid Magnus though.  He texted back, agreeing to meet him, and Magnus suggested that Alec come over.  Magnus hadn’t specified whether or not his mom was home, but avoiding one person was a lot easier than avoiding five people.  So he reluctantly got up and hurried downstairs to the door so he wouldn’t have to see any of his siblings.  

“Where are you going?” he heard Isabelle call from the kitchen as he grabbed his keys from the table in their foyer.  

“Out,” was all he said as he closed the front door behind him. 

 —————

 Just come in the text from Magnus said as Alec pulled up behind the mailbox to his house.  He opened the door quietly and peaked his head in, not wanting to startle Magnus’s mom if she was there.  

“Magnus?” he called out as he stepped into the foyer and closed the door behind him.  He wasn’t sure where Magnus had been, but he appeared out of nowhere and pulled Alec into a tight embrace.  Alec held on, his forehead dropping to Magnus’s shoulder, something that Alec hadn’t realized was an instant comfort to him.  He breathed in the scent of him, spices mixed with sandalwood, and had to blink back tears; Magnus didn’t deserve all of Alec’s problems being dumped on him like this.  Magnus pulled away after a minute and his gold green eyes bore into Alec’s blue ones.  

“I talked to your siblings,” he said, and Alec nodded.  

“I figured. Thank you for taking them my keys.” 

“Of course,” Magnus said, and rubbed a thumb over Alec’s cheek. “Did you—are you okay?” 

Alec could only shrug.  “I don’t want to go back to that school,” he whispered.  

“I know,” Magnus replied and leaned his forehead against Alec’s.  “Maybe it won’t be so bad. Nobody seems to bother you, except for that damn Sebastian. Have you even talked to anyone else besides me since you started?” 

Alec gave a small laugh.  “Not really,” he admitted.  He supposed Magnus was right: he really didn’t know anyone yet, and probably no one would care that he’s gay, except for Sebastian, until he found someone else to bully. 

“Do you want to go sit down?” Magnus wondered, and Alec nodded.  They made their way to the living room and took seats on the couch.  That was when Magnus noticed the gauze on Alec’s wrist, a tinge of red peaking through the layers.  Alec saw where Magnus’s gaze had landed and rubbed at his eyes.  

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, not being able to meet Magnus’s eye.  He was ashamed he hadn’t been able to hold out, that as soon as he thought Magnus was out of the picture, he’d cracked.  Magnus took Alec’s hand and held it between his own.  

“You don’t have to apologize,” he said. “And I know you’ll probably disagree with me, but I think you’re very brave, Alexander.” 

Alec only scoffed, and Magnus shook his head at him.  “It’s true.  Forget about this for a second,” he said and tapped Alec’s wrist.  “You’re still here. You haven’t given up yet. And you always do what you think is right.  Does that include beating the crap out of Sebastian to defend your siblings? I think so,” he grinned, which caused one side of Alec’s mouth to quirk up.  Magus frowned then, and he fell back against the couch.  “I’m sorry, though; I feel like all of this is my fault.”  Alec looked at him bemusedly.  

“Why would you think that?”   

“I feel like I forced all of this on you,” Magnus said, indicating their blossoming relationship. “That if I had just left you alone, none of this would’ve happened.” 

Alec was silent for several seconds. “Do you regret it?” he asked finally, though he said it so softly he wasn’t sure if Magnus had even heard him.  

“Not at all,” Magnus said immediately, looking Alec in the eye.  He leaned forward then and gently kissed him.  “I’m still sorry though,” he said, but Alec shook his head.  

“It’s not your fault. I would never blame you for any of this,” Alec said.  “I know it seems like I’m always unhappy, but I swear that every moment I’ve spent with you, I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in a long time.” 

Magnus only tilted his head fondly and gave Alec a small smile, his thumb rubbing circles on the back of Alec’s hand.  

“I just have really shitty luck,” Alec added and they both laughed.  Magnus went somber again, and placed a hand to Alec’s cheek.  

“I promise everything will work out okay.  Do you want me to talk to my mom about Sebastian?” 

Alec just shrugged.  “If you think it will help,” he said, but he was convinced that the school wouldn’t do anything too extreme at this point, or something would've been done already. 

“If your parents find out and you don’t feel safe there, you know you can always stay here,” Magnus added.  

 Alec kissed Magnus gently before dropping his head to the other boy's shoulder, the scent of sandalwood comforting him once more. "Thank you," he whispered.    

Chapter Text

Alec had stayed at Magnus’s house until shorty after midnight.  He’d texted Isabelle, instructing her to inform their parents that he and Magnus were working on a project together.  Isabelle knew Alec was having a difficult time with his public coming out at school, so she didn’t argue with him about having to lie to their parents, which they all did often enough anyway.  

Fortunately for Alec, no one at school the next day seemed to care at all about the flyers.  A girl in his first class had even commented on how brave she thought he was, to which Alec had mumbled a thank you and slunk down in his seat.  He was glad he hadn’t seen any of the flyers floating around still.  He suspected Magnus had had something to do with that.  Magnus had told Alec that his mom knew about his sexuality, and while Alec gathered she probably preferred her only son wasn’t plastered on flyers hung around school of him kissing boys, there was hardly anything she could do about it, especially since nothing of importance had been done about Sebastian.  Though there was no proof that he had hung the flyers, Alec couldn’t think of anyone else with enough motive to do so.       

The week had dragged on, and Alec was glad he hadn’t run into Sebastian once, though Sebastian’s in-school suspension was playing a large part in that, and Alec anxiously awaited its end.  

After dinner one night, Alec found himself sitting at the kitchen island doing homework once everything had been cleaned up.  He sometimes preferred the kitchen to his bedroom—it had better lighting, and was a change of scenery; he mostly stayed in his room when he wasn’t with Magnus or at school.  He had hoped to spend the evening with Magnus, but the other boy had been whisked away by his mom to help with something school related.  Alec’s own parents were home, having retreated to their bedroom like his siblings after dinner.  

He was working on a particularly complicated psychology assignment when Max walked into the kitchen.  He stopped next to the stool Alec was perched on and looked up at him, his large dark eyes magnified behind his thick glasses.  

“Hey Alec?” he said.  

“Yeah?” Alec answered without looking up from his textbook.  

“Is Magnus your boyfriend?” 

Alec’s pencil skittered across his notebook and he drew in a surprised breath.  

“Who told you that?” he asked Max, turning to look down at the younger boy.  

“A boy from school,” Max said.  He swayed a little on his feet, the way kids sometimes did, and Alec noticed that Max didn’t seem angry or disgusted, just curious, the way kids sometimes were.  

He wondered if Max had seen the flyer, but didn’t really want to know the answer. Alec also didn’t want to lie to Max—he was perceptive for a 9 year old.  

“Yeah—yeah I guess he is,” Alec finally said, though it was the first time he’d thought of Magnus as his boyfriend since they first began dating.  Max said nothing, only regarded Alec with his large eyes.  

“Is that weird?” Alec finally asked, and Max just shrugged.  

“Can I have some juice?” he said finally, and Alec laughed and told him sure.  

Jumping off the stool, he walked to the cabinet to find a glass for his brother.  “Can you do me a favor, Max?” he wondered. 

“What?” 

Alec got the juice out and poured it for him, then bent down to Max’s level and handed him the glass.  

“Promise me you won’t tell mom and dad about me and Magnus and I’ll see if Magnus can bring you some more manga,” he said.  

“Really?” Max asked eagerly and Alec nodded.  He knew bribing his younger brother was probably frowned upon, but he also knew how kids’ minds, and mouths, worked. 

“Ok!” Max agreed and took the glass, then ran into the living room.  Alec really hoped he wouldn’t spill the juice…

————

Alec saw Magnus at lunch the next day, and they took their usual spot in the alcove with the vending machines.  He picked at his fries that he thought he’d wanted but didn’t really.  Magnus stole one and popped it in his mouth, noticing Alec’s melancholia.  

“What’s wrong?” he asked, though he was pretty certain he knew what it was.  

Alec shrugged.  “Max knows,” he said without elaborating, but Magnus didn’t need any clarification.  

“Because you told him?”

Alec shook his head, and Magnus winced.  If Max had found out, that meant the flyer had found its way past their school’s grounds.  

“I also might have told him some more manga were in it for him if he didn’t tell my parents,” Alec added and scratched the back of his neck.  Magnus raised an eyebrow and Alec smiled at him sheepishly.  “Sorry,” he grinned.  Magnus was just glad that Alec didn’t seem too upset at the revelation, so he agreed to bribe Alec’s little brother with more overpriced novel-length comic books.  

————

A knock sounded on the Lightwoods’ door that night, and Alec, who was in the kitchen helping his mom with dinner, looked at her curiously, then went to answer it.  

“Magnus, what are you doing here?” he asked, as he stepped onto the porch and closed the door behind him.  

“What, I can’t come see my boyfriend unannounced?” Magnus said softly, tilting his head to one side.  Alec couldn't help smiling, glad for the sudden surprise.  Magnus leaned in and kissed him, then pulled away and held up his book bag.  “I brought presents,” he added, so Alec let him in.  

Alec knew Max was in the living room watching TV, so he quietly led Magnus down the hallway.  

“Alec, who was at the door?” his mom called from the kitchen.  

“Uh, just Magnus.  He had to drop off a homework assignment,” he said, hoping his lie didn’t sound so much like a lie to his mom’s ears.  

“Oh!” she exclaimed and came out into the hallway.  “Why don’t you stay for dinner?”

Magnus held his hands up in front of him. “Oh, I don’t want to impose.” 

“Nonsense.  Alec told me your mom had him for dinner last week, and it would be nice to repay the favor,” Maryse insisted.  “Besides, Jace and Isabelle are actually home tonight. I think it would be fun, all of us together.” 

“Uh…” Magnus began and looked over at Alec, who was making a point of not looking back at him.  “Sure, that sounds great, thank you,” he smiled, his voice tight.  

“Great! I’ll let you know when it’s ready,” Maryse smiled again and went back to preparing the food.  

Alec rubbed his face with his hands, then pointed in the direction of the living room.  

 

Max was seated in front of the TV as usual, the images on the screen reflecting off his thick lenses.  Alec was glad his dad wasn’t there too.  

“Hey, little man,” Magnus said and knelt down next to Max.  The younger boy looked over, as if just realizing they were there.  

“So, a little bird informed me that you were looking for some more manga,” Magnus said as he began unzipping his book bag.  Max’s eyes widened as Magnus took a stack out and held them out to him.  As Max went to take them, though, Magnus pulled his hand back.  

“But what do Alec and I get in return?” he asked quietly, and Max furrowed his brow.  

“Don’t tell mom and dad that you’re boyfriends,” Max said finally.  So Magnus slowly lowered his hand again and Max eagerly snatched the books from him.  

“Mom! Look what Magnus gave me!” he shouted and got up, then ran to the kitchen.  Magnus stood up too and slung his bag over his shoulder.  

“Do you not trust your brother?” he asked Alec, and Alec crossed his arms in front of him.  

“It’s not that I don’t trust him, it’s that kids have no filter,” he said mournfully, and he hoped his mom wouldn’t ask why Magnus had given Max the books.   

————

The two boys had retreated to Alec’s room until dinner was ready, and eventually all the Lightwoods and Magnus were seated around the large kitchen table.  It was rare for the whole family to be home at the same time for dinner, let alone on a Friday night.  Alec figured his mom must’ve been over joyed.  

The conversation flowed easily as they ate.  Maryse had asked Alec about the project he and Magnus were supposed to be working on, and Magnus effortlessly jumped in with a plausible lie as Alec gaped like a fish for something to say.  

Robert, who had been mysteriously gone yet had conveniently arrived when dinner started, and who for some reason was always interested in the love lives of his children instead of their grades, began questioning Jace on his romantic escapades.  

“Aw, Clary’s great,” Jace said, though Alec had yet to meet her.  Isabelle chimed in then, saying Clary’s friend Simon had caught her eye, and Alec was surprised when she compared Simon’s personality to Max’s.  He thought that Isabelle usually went for guys like Jace.  

“What about you, Magnus?” Robert said, and Magnus stopped his fork halfway to his mouth.  “Any girlfriends for you?”

Magnus was about to say something when Max “no filter” Lightwood spoke up instead. 

“Magnus likes boys,” he said, and someone at the table choked.  

“Max!” Maryse hissed, and Alec was sure Jace was trying not to laugh.  

Magnus smiled sheepishly.  “Well, he’s not wrong,” he said.  The confounded look on Robert’s face made Alec want to crawl under the table and die.  He stared at his plate, suddenly finding it very interesting. Alec could hardly be mad at Max for his slip up.  He’d kept his promise, though maybe they should’ve been more specific with their request.   

“Girls and boys, actually.  Though, not usually at the same time,” Magnus added and laughed.

Alec would’ve laughed at both his parents’ faces if he hadn’t been so mortified by his dad's reaction.  

“And your parents are okay with that?” Robert finally asked.  

“Dad!” Isabelle cried, her mouth gaping in shock.  

Magnus narrowed his eyes at the Lightwood patriarch.  “I mean, of course they are. Why wouldn’t they be?” he asked, and Alec wasn’t sure whether Magnus meant that as a challenge or not.  Robert seemed to ignore the question, though.  

“I guess it could be worse for them.  At least there’s some hope that you would eventually marry a girl,” he said.  

“Oh my god,” Alec heard Jace mutter next to him.  Alec was the only one who had yet to utter a word. Truth be told, he was afraid to open his mouth lest the contents of his stomach make an appearance instead. 

Magnus’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline at Robert’s comment. He opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Maryse.  

“Alec, honey, are you okay? You’re looking a little pale,” she said with worry, and all eyes suddenly turned to him.  

“Something’s not agreeing with me,” Alec winced and clutched his stomach.  

Maryse frowned and looked down at her own plate. “Oh, I hope it’s not the dinner." 

“I don’t know. I’ll be right back,” Alec groaned and got up from the table.  He could feel himself sweating, the contents of his stomach roiling, and he quickly made his way to the hall bathroom.  It was like a repeat of last weekend all over again.    

The tension at the table was thick and palpable as everyone sat in silence and picked at their food.  “Magnus, why don’t you see if Alec is okay?” Isabelle finally suggested. So Magnus agreed and got up too, silently thanking Isabelle for getting him out of there.  

 

Magnus knocked twice on the hall bathroom door and then entered before Alec could tell him otherwise.  

“We have got to stop meeting like this,” he joked as he squeezed into the tiny room.  Alec was sitting on the floor next to the toilet, but to Magnus’s relief, he hadn’t been sick.  Magnus slid down the wall opposite Alec and propped his arms on his knees.  

“Magnus, I am SO sorry,” Alec mumbled as he rubbed his eyes with his fingers. “I should’ve come to your defense but I just…” he trailed off and shook his head mournfully.  

“Don’t apologize.  I was more worried about you,” Magnus said softly.  “Are you okay?” 

Alec shook his head again slowly and lowered his hand, so Magnus grabbed his wrist and pulled Alec into his lap.  Alec tucked his head under Magnus’s chin, and the older boy pulled out his phone, tapped it a few times, opened the bathroom door a crack, and stuck his phone through it, then the sound of someone retching filled the air.  

“God Alec, that is disgusting!” he called out, voice angled toward the door, and Alec shook silently with laughter, his hand covering his mouth.  

“There, that’s what I wanted to see,” Magnus said softly.  Alec tilted his head up while putting pressure on the back of Magnus’s neck with one hand, and Magnus played the retching again as their lips met.        

——

The two boys emerged from the bathroom sometime later, after Magnus had flushed the toilet for good effect.  Alec walked into the kitchen still clutching his stomach and saw the rest of his family picking idly at their plates.  

“Alec, is everything all right?” his mom asked, worry etched on her face.  

“Yeah, I think it was something I had earlier,” he lied, and he picked up his and Magnus’s plates off the table and took them to the sink.  

“Magnus and I are going to his house to finish that project,” he added, his back turned to his family while he cleaned off their plates.  “It’s due Monday and we’re pretty far behind on it.”

“Are you sure you’re okay to go? You sounded pretty sick in there,” his dad chimed in.  

Alec couldn’t help sneering as his dad’s voice reached his ears. “I’m fine.” 

“Did you throw up?” Max asked eagerly and Magnus, who was standing near the island, had to stifle a laugh.  

“No."

“He’s lying—he totally threw up,” Magnus interjected. 

Max bounded in his chair.  “Gross!” he said, though he was smiling.  

“Oh you have no idea,” Magnus said, egging him on.  “It was awful. Chunks everywhere!” 

Alec elbowed Magnus in the side and jerked his head toward the door of the kitchen, while Robert and Maryse stared at their plates in horror, and Isabelle and Jace tried not to laugh.  

“Okay, I’ll be back later,” Alec said quickly and yanked Magnus out of the kitchen by his shirt.  

“Thank you for the lovely dinner!” Magnus called.  

 

Alec had dragged Magnus up to his room before they left so they could grab their backpacks.  

“Why do you have to encourage him?” Alec asked, though Magnus could tell he was trying not to smile.  

“Because it’s fun,” he said and wrapped an arm behind Alec’s neck to pull him in for a kiss.  Alec let himself be kissed, his arm snaking around Magnus’s waist.  

“I can’t wait to get started on this project,” Magnus murmured against Alec’s lips, which earned him a pinch from the other boy.  Magnus squirmed away and grabbed his bag, then followed Alec down the stairs and outside.  Magnus drove, just in case Jace or Isabelle wanted the car later, and he pulled away from the Lightwoods’ house after they were both buckled in.  

“So where are we really going?” he asked, knowing they probably weren’t going back to his house.  

“I don’t know,” Alec sighed, propping his head in hand and staring out the window.  “I just didn’t want to stay there any longer.” 

Magnus understood.  “We could go to a party?” he suggested after he thought for a few minutes.  

Alec turned to face the other boy. “How do you know there is one?”  

“Oh, darling. There’s always a party,” Magnus grinned.  “Besides, you look like you could use a drink…or three.” 

Alec rolled his eyes. He didn’t really like parties, or drinking, but if it meant not being around anyone’s parents for the rest of the night, then he was more than fine with it, so he agreed.  

——-

True to his word, Magnus found a party.  They pulled in behind a long line of cars that wrapped around a cul-de-sac.  It wasn’t hard to tell which house was having the party—it was the only one with all the lights on and music coming from the backyard.  They walked toward the house and Alec took Magnus’s hand in his own.  Magnus looked down at him quizzically and Alec shrugged.  

“Everyone already knows, so might as well,” he smiled, a tinge of red staining his cheeks.  Magnus grinned back and gave Alec’s hand a reassuring squeeze.  

When they got to the house Magnus walked in without knocking, and they were immediately greeted by hordes of teenagers and loud, thumping music. Magnus pulled Alec behind him as they wove their way through the crowds of people, most of whom held red solo cups or bottles of beer in their hands. Every so often, someone would call out a greeting to Magnus and he’d yell back and wave. Alec hadn’t realized so many people knew Magnus since he didn’t seem to talk to anyone at school when they were together, though he shouldn’t have been surprised that everyone knew the principal’s son. 

They managed to squeeze their way to the backyard where a keg was located and being manned by a guy Alec recognized from his study lab but had never actually talked to. He wondered if the house belonged to the kid’s parents, or if he’d just been given keg duty. 

“Hey! Magnus!” he smiled and threw his hands up. They patted each other’s backs as they hugged, and Alec quirked an eyebrow. 

“Who’s your friend?” the guy asked as he poured beer into a cup and handed it to Magnus. 

“This is Alec,” Magnus said and handed the cup to him. 

“Good to meet you, man,” the guy said, shaking his other hand. 

“We’re in the same study lab,” Alec felt the need to point out, and the guy just shrugged. He turned to serve someone else beer before Alec could catch his name. 

Magnus led Alec away and Alec regarded the amber-colored liquid in his cup. He took a sip and immediately made a face. 

“Yeah, they tend to go for the cheap stuff at these parties,” Magnus elaborated, taking a drink of his own. “Personally, I prefer mixed drinks, but I doubt we’ll find any of those here.” 

“Magnus!” someone else called, and Alec was starting to get annoyed at all the attention Magnus was getting. Magnus raised a hand and pulled Alec toward a guy and a girl who were standing near a ping pong table. The girl was tall and blonde and gorgeous. The guy had short, brown, curly hair and looked like he wanted to be anywhere but at the party. Alec could empathize. 

“Magnus, where have you been? I feel like I haven’t seen you in months!” the girl said, dramatically putting a hand to her heart. Magnus rolled his eyes. 

“Camille, I just saw you last week,” Magnus said and took a drink from his cup. 

Camille pouted her bright red lips, and Alec thought to himself how out of place she looked among all the teenagers, like she was too good for them, and he wondered how Magnus knew her.  Then she smiled devilishly, her perfect teeth gleaming white behind her red lips. 

“Who’s your friend?” she asked, her eyes sliding over to Alec. “He’s pretty.” 

Alec tensed.  The look she gave him was anything but inviting, and sounded less like a compliment and more like a thinly veiled threat.   

“Alec,” he said before Magnus could answer for him. 

“Wait, I recognize you,” the guy said suddenly. “You were the one on those flyers with Magnus.” 

“Don’t listen to Ragnor,” Magnus said. “He’s just jealous it wasn’t him on that flyer,” he chuckled. 

“Oh please,” Ragnor scoffed. “I wouldn’t touch you with a 10 foot pole. If anything, Alec here is more my type. Right, Alec?” he joked.

Alec just quirked an eyebrow at Ragnor. 

“Doesn’t talk much, this one,” Ragnor said to Magnus while pointing a finger at Alec. 

“Only to people who are interesting, dear,” Magnus said and took another drink of his beer. 

“This one can also hear you,” Alec said dryly, and Magnus snickered next to him. 

“All right, enough banter. Let’s play,” Camille suggested and turned to the ping pong table. Magnus shrugged and agreed. 

After explaining the rules of beer pong to Alec and setting up the cups, they took their respective places at the table, with Magnus and Alec at one end, and Camille and a reluctant Ragnor--who took a few minutes of convincing to play--at the other. 

To Alec’s surprise, he and Magnus ended up winning, though not by much, and Alec was pretty drunk by the end of the game.  

After stumbling away from the table, they somehow found their way upstairs and into an empty bedroom. Alec fell through the door, his newly refilled beer sloshing in his cup, and he giggled as he fell against Magnus. 

“I do believe you are drunk, darling,” Magnus said, closing the door behind them. 

“I do believe you are right,” Alec giggled again and took another long drink of his beer before setting it on a nearby dresser. He stumbled over to the bed, grabbing Magnus by the front of his shirt in the process, and fell backwards onto the mattress, dragging Magnus down on top of him. Magnus narrowly avoided spilling his own drink, which he promptly set on the nightstand.

“Alexander,” he laughed, “what—“ But he was cutoff by Alec’s lips against his. Alec snaked his hands under Magnus’s shirt, his tongue ramming into the other boy’s mouth, then rocked his hips forward, eliciting a moan from Magnus. 

“Too many clothes,” Alec murmured against Magnus’s mouth as he tugged on his shirt. 

“Wait, Alec, stop,” Magnus breathed and he pulled away. 

“Whaswrong?” Alec slurred and propped himself up on his elbows. 

Magnus pushed himself up until he was sitting back on his knees. “You’re very drunk, and I don’t want to take advantage of you,” he said truthfully. 

Alec scoffed. “I am not that drunk,” he said, his eyelids drooping. 

“Yes, you are.” 

“Well if I’m drunk, then you’re drunk too,” he said and pushed himself up so he was the same height as Magnus on the bed. 

Magnus jut laughed. “I’m not a lightweight who can’t play a game of beer pong without getting hammered."

“C’mon, I want you so bad right now,” Alec said. He’d wrapped his arms around Magnus’s waist and began kissing his neck. Magnus pushed Alec down on his back again and kissed him, then moved his mouth close to Alec's ear.  

“Why don’t you take a nap?” he said softly. 

Alec sighed, his eyes already closed. “Ok,” he murmured, then was out cold. Magnus chuckled and stood up.  He’d give Alec a little time to sleep off the alcohol while he himself mingled, deciding to catch up with friends he felt like he hadn’t seen in a while. After closing the bedroom door behind him, he made his way down the stairs and spotted his friend Tessa with her longtime boyfriend Jem and waved. 

—-

Alec woke up and took in his surroundings, feeling suddenly disoriented. He didn’t recognize the room he was in, or the bed for that matter. He sat up and felt slightly nauseated, then spotted his red cup on the dresser and faintly heard music coming from somewhere in the house. He suddenly remembered he’d been at a party with Magnus, but the other boy was nowhere to be seen. 

He pushed himself up off the bed and managed to find the stairs, the music getting progressively louder.  As he walked down the stairs, he looked around. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep, but there were still a lot of people at the party. He saw a shock of spiky, black hair above the crowd as he entered the living room, and when it parted, there was Magnus. He smiled and began to walk toward him, but then stopped, the breath knocked out of him at what he saw. 

—-

“Where’s your boy toy?” Camille asked, and Magnus had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. He really didn’t like when people referred to Alec like that, but he wasn’t about to let Camille know it bothered him lest she find a way to use it against him somehow. 

“He got a little drunk, so he’s sleeping it off,” Magnus shrugged. 

“Your Lightwood is a lightweight,” Camille giggled, and Magnus smirked, suddenly wondering how he’d gotten stuck talking to her alone. 

“He looks a lot like that Will you dated. Same hair and eyes,” she continued. 

“I already told you, Camille,” Magnus looked up at the ceiling in exasperation, “we never dated. It was just a crush.” 

“Clearly you’re over him,” she said sarcastically, and this time Magnus did roll his eyes. 

“You know, we never see each other anymore,” she added and put a hand on his shoulder. Magnus looked down at it with disdain. “Do you ever think about getting back together?” 

Magnus closed his eyes and breathed. 

“Sorry, but no,” he tried to say sincerely, then took her hand from his shoulder and set it down at her side, but she held on before he could pull away. 

“How about one last kiss for old time’s sake?” she said, and tilted her head in flirtation.   

“What?” he asked, his eyebrows drawing together. But before he could tell her no again, she’d pulled him into a kiss. It lasted about two seconds before he pushed her away. 

“Camille, what are you doing?” he said, and he saw her eyes flick to something next to them and smirk. Magnus turned his head to see the back of Alec as he pushed his way through the crowd, and he barely had time to utter an expletive before Alec was wrenching open the front door.  

Chapter Text

Alec shoved himself through the crowds of people to the front door; he could hear Magnus behind him over the music calling his name, but he ignored it, red flooding his vision.  He burst through the door, not bothering to close it behind him, out into the night.  He couldn’t believe that he had thought someone like Magnus might actually care about him enough not to cheat on him.  But then the more he thought about it, the more he did believe it.  What made him so special that he would deserve someone like Magnus anyway? Still, Magnus could’ve had the decency to break up with him first. 

“Alec, wait!” Magnus called after him.  Magnus was lucky he had long legs.  Alec might not have been running, but he was moving fast.  “Alec, stop! Where are you going?” 

“Home,” Alec called behind him without looking back. 

“You don’t have a car.” 

“Then I’ll walk.” 

“You can’t walk home in the middle of the night, it’s like ten miles.” 

Alec made no move to slow down, though, but Magnus had managed to catch up with him, and grabbed his shoulder.  

“Don’t touch me,” Alec spat and whirled around.  Magnus held up his hands in defense.  

“Alexander, just let me explain—“

“Explain what? You were kissing her!”

“I know that’s what it looked like,” Magnus said, and tentatively put his hands back on Alec’s shoulders.  When he was sure Alec wouldn’t freak out again, he continued.  

“Camille and I used to date,” he began, and Alec’s eyes widened before he wrenched himself out of Magnus’s grasp and turned to stalk off again, but Magnus gently caught him by the wrist.  

“Alexander, please,” he said softly.  Alec stopped, but didn’t turn back around.  He didn't want to admit it, but Magnus was right—it was too far to walk home, and he didn’t want to call Jace or Isabelle; at the most, he risked getting picked up by the cops, and while he wasn’t drunk, he could still feel the alcohol in his system, and that wasn’t something he wanted to explain to his parents. So he might as well hear Magnus out. 

“We dated, and then she broke my heart,” Magnus continued.  “To put it bluntly, she’s manipulative and cruel. She tries to get under your skin and will use any information she has against you, so I try to just play along with her games, and try not to let her know she’s getting to me.” 

“So you kiss her?” Alec sneered, finally turning to face the other boy.   

She kissed me.  I think she knew you were there.  She was probably trying to get under your skin.  Why, I have no idea. Probably to hurt me.” 

Alec said nothing, only looked off into the distance, a scowl on his face.  

“You have to believe me,” Magnus said quietly.  

“Why should I?”

“Because, I—“ he started, and then stopped.  Alec looked up at him with his blue eyes, though the other boy was gazing down, at nothing in particular, and the look on his face was sad and guarded.  He was absentmindedly rubbing the skin on the back of Alec’s hand with his thumb.  

“I don’t want to lose you. I can’t.  Please know that I would never go behind your back like that, and I would never do anything to hurt you.  And especially not after everything you’ve been through.” 

Alec said nothing, and Magnus could see in the small glow under the streetlamp the clenching of his jaw, of his other fist, as he worked out Magnus’s words in his mind, trying to determine whether he should trust him.  Magnus had never given Alec a reason not to, but Alec also didn’t have much experience in being able to trust anyone outside of his own family.  

“Alexander,” Magnus added, his voice pleading, and he took a deep breath. “I love you.” It was barely a whisper, but Alec had heard, and gave a tiny gasp.  Magnus lifted his eyes, and Alec’s rigid stance deflated.  Magnus pulled his hand back and wrapped his arms tightly around his middle, as if he were shielding himself from what Alec might—or might not—say back.  “I’m sorry. I don’t want to burden you with that. But I don’t want to lose you over something so trivial.” 

“How can you love me?” Alec almost whispered.  “Why would you want—you don’t even know me.” 

Magnus took a step toward him, but kept his hands to himself and shook his head.  “I just do.  If you want, I can try to write you out a list.”  

Alec gave Magnus a tiny smile, then reached out a hand, and Magnus happily took it again.  Maybe Magnus was telling the truth.  Alec had been in such a rage just a few moments ago that he hadn’t remembered all that Magnus had done for him the last few weeks.  And the more he thought about it, the more he realized he was in the wrong, and that, perhaps, he was overreacting.  He’d only seen a small kiss, for a short second, and had immediately jumped to conclusions.  Alec was so new to all of this still, and he sometimes felt as if he were stumbling around aimlessly with no help.  But no, that wasn’t right.  Magnus was there to help him.  And according to Magnus, he would always be there to help him.     

 He looked at Magnus, with his guarded expression, his other hand still wrapped tightly around his waist, and Alec's heart fluttered in his chest, as it did every time they were together.  “I think that I…” Alec said softly and let out a breath, rubbing small circles on Magnus’s hand as Magnus had done only moments earlier, “that I love you too.” 

Magnus gave a relieved laugh, then pulled Alec to him, their bodies colliding, and he wrapped his free arm around Alec’s waist.  “I’m sorry you had to see that,” he said and touched their foreheads together.  “And I’m sorry I brought you to this awful party.” 

“It’s not awful,” Alec shook his head and looked up at Magnus. “At least we beat Camille at beer pong.” 

“Silver lining,” Magnus chuckled, then peppered Alec’s face and neck with soft kisses and felt Alec squeeze his hand affectionately.  

“Do you want to go back to the party?” he asked when they had finally pulled apart.  “Sure,” Alec said, and they walked back to the house hand in hand. When they entered, they wove through the crowd and Alec pulled Magnus behind him toward the stairs.  

“Where are we going?” Magnus asked.  

“I think I left my beer up there.” 

As they ascended the stairs, Alec turned his head and saw Camille standing on the other side of the living room, glaring, and he gave her a wide grin.  She sneered back and whirled around, then marched off, and Alec continued smiling to himself.  

“What’s so funny?” Magnus asked. 

“Just something I saw.  It’s gone now.” 

 

Alec led Magnus to the room they’d been in earlier.  He closed the door behind them and locked it, not even bothering to turn on the light, then turned and caught Magnus’s face in his hands, their lips meeting in an urgent kiss.  Magnus tugged on Alec’s belt loops and he walked backwards toward the bed, pulling Alec with him, until they fell onto it in a heap.  They backed up towards the headboard, and Alec straddled Magnus, running his hands up under the other boy’s shirt before helping him off with it and then removing his own.  

He bent back down and captured Magnus’s neck beneath his mouth, his tongue eliciting delicious noises from deep in Magnus’s throat.  Magnus’s hands slid down Alec’s toned back, his many rings stuttering along Alec’s spine, until they were dipping under his waistband, and Alec moaned, so Magnus gave him a gentle squeeze, while Alec ground himself against Magnus as he writhed underneath him.  

“God, Alec,” Magnus breathed and arched his back, and then they were kissing again.  Magnus’s hands found their way to the front of Alec’s jeans and he undid them quickly before slipping his hand inside to grasp Alec.  He panted against Magnus’s mouth, then went to work on Magnus’s own jeans and soon the rest of their clothes had joined their shirts on the floor.  

They moved against each other, their hands anywhere and everywhere, grasping and stroking.  They weren't prepared to take things further, but that didn’t stop them from getting creative until they were both crying each other’s names into the dark, their voices carried away by the pulsing music from downstairs.

 

They stumbled back down to the party sometime later, after catching their breath and laying together in bed, their hands and limbs entwined.  As they got to the bottom of the stairs, Alec blanched when he saw both Jace and Isabelle there, and Izzy put a hand over her smiling mouth as she saw her brother and his boyfriend descend the stairs while Magnus was in the process of tugging down his shirt.  He was sporting a few hickeys as well and Jace quickly turned away from them, a laugh sputtering from between his lips.  

“What are you guys doing here?” Alec asked as he stopped dead in his tracks, and Magnus bumped into the back of him, not expecting him to stop so suddenly.  

“We heard there was a party,” Isabelle smiled and shrugged.  “I’d ask what you’re doing here, but I think I already know the answer.  You look like you’ve had fun.” 

“Oh, we have, darling,” Magnus drawled and draped an arm over Alec’s shoulder.  Alec looked up at the ceiling and silently shook his head, his face and neck the same shade of red as the lipstick Isabelle had on.  Jace snickered again.  

“See, Alec? We told you that you should go to more parties,” Isabelle winked, then walked off to find something to drink.  

“Fuck my life,” Alec muttered, still staring at the ceiling.  Magnus chuckled and grabbed Alec’s hand, then hauled him away from the staircase.  

——

They gave each other a long kiss goodnight as they sat in Magnus’s car outside the Lightwood house after leaving the party.  

“Next time, I will definitely be prepared,” Magnus said when they pulled away.  He kissed Alec’s knuckles, and Alec cleared his throat and blushed, causing Magnus to laugh.  

“I love you,” Alec said softly against Magnus’s lips as they kissed once more.  

“I love you,” Magnus replied, then reluctantly watched him get out of the car and walk up the driveway to his front door.  Magnus waved, and Alec quietly let himself inside.  

 

Alec would have been lying if he said he wasn’t disappointed he and Magnus hadn’t been able to take their relationship to the next level at the party, but it couldn’t have been helped.  And he had been satisfied nonetheless.  Though truth be told, what made his heart flutter in his chest wasn’t the romp in the bed at the party, but the words they’d spoken to each other right before that.  Alec quietly made his way to his room, conscious of the fact that his parents and Max were probably asleep, and changed for bed.  Magnus’s confession of love ran through his mind over and over and each time it did, Alec’s stomach did a somersault.  He smiled to himself and laid down in his bed, already missing the other boy.  After plugging in his phone, he began to drift off to sleep, but a light in front of his eyelids made him open them, and he saw a text from Magnus.  Alec was smiling before he even read it, though knowing Magnus, he was sure it was a just of emoji.  Sure enough, when he opened it, Magnus had sent several, most of them hearts, and Alec chuckled to himself and sent back of few of his own. His eyes fell shut before he saw the response.  

——

Alec woke up the next morning groggy and with a headache.  He looked at his phone, smiling at the last message he’d received from Magnus, and noticed that it was almost 11.  He’d never been a morning person, only waking up early when he had to, and he reluctantly stumbled out of bed and took a quick shower.  

When he got downstairs his mom was in the kitchen on the phone.  She was talking in a low voice, which Alec found odd since her phone calls were usually loud, even on Saturday mornings.  He poured himself some coffee and sat down while wondering what time Isabelle and Jace had stumbled in after the party.  

He was scrolling through his social media accounts when his mom ended her call and set her phone on the island where Alec was seated.  

“How are you feeling? Is your stomach better?” 

“Yeah, it’s fine,” he answered without looking up, and took another sip of coffee.  

“Um, there’s something I want to talk to you about…before your dad comes home,” Maryse said, and Alec noticed she was fidgety, wringing her hands together. He wasn’t sure where his dad was—he didn’t usually work on Saturdays.  

“So your friend Magnus. He’s nice….different.” 

“Yeah, I guess so,” Alec said noncommittally.  

“How long have you known him?” 

Alec shrugged.  “Since we started school, I guess. Couple weeks.” 

Maryse looked uncomfortable, and she fiddled with her phone again while not looking Alec in the eye.  

“Mom, what’s going on? Why are you so interested in Magnus all the sudden?” 

Maryse took a deep breath and unlocked her phone.  “One of Max’s friends saw this at school, and his mom thought I should know about it.” She handed it to Alec, and he felt his heart stop when he looked at the screen.  It was a picture of the flyer that Sebastian had made, and Alec didn’t know whether to laugh bitterly or cry.  He didn’t know what he could say to his mom.  He couldn’t deny it.  Well he could, but what would be the point? 

“Alexander, are you…are you two…?” Maryse’s words hung in the air, and Alec could only nod.  

“He didn’t…coerce you or anything, did he?” she added, and Alec’s head snapped up.  

“What? No, mom,” he said, resisting the urge to slam her phone on the counter. He shook his head, then took a deep breath.  “I’m gay, okay? And Magnus didn’t…trick me into liking him, or whatever it is that you think happened.  I’m sorry if you have a problem with this, but I’ve always been this way, and I’m not going to change.” He said it with intensity, his blue eyes burning through her, and she deflated a little.  

“I don’t have a problem with it,” she said softly, then walked around the island to where he sat.  “I love you, and I will always love you. No matter what.” She enveloped him in a hug, and he gently hugged her back.  “I’m sorry if you ever felt like you couldn’t be open and honest with me.” 

“What about dad?” he said, and she pulled back to put her hands on his shoulders and look him in the eye.  

“I can’t speak for your father, but I will let you tell him on your own time, if you wish to,” Maryse said.  Alec’s phone dinged in his pocket before he could respond, so Maryse gave him a small smile and walked out of the kitchen.  

 

Alec checked his phone and saw that Magnus wanted to see him, that he had a surprise for him.  So he finished getting himself ready and headed over to the older boy’s house.  When he got there, Magnus pulled him into a hug and kissed him.  

“So what’s the surprise?” Alec asked, smiling, when they finally pulled away from each other.  

“Actually, there’s two surprises,” Magnus said.  “The first is lunch.” 

Alec quirked an eyebrow.  “O…kay? Not to sound disappointed, but what’s so great about lunch?” 

“You’ll see,” Magnus winked and they walked out to Alec’s car.  He told him to go to Taki’s, so Alec obliged, turning away from Magnus’s house and toward the direction of the restaurant.  

“Are you okay? You seem quiet. Well, quieter than normal,” Magnus said.  Alec fidgeted in his seat.  

“My mom knows,” he said finally, and Magnus frowned.  

“What happened?”  

Alec recounted the conversation he’d had with his mom in the kitchen—how one of Max’s schoolmates had seen the flyer and must’ve shown his mom, who recognized Alec in the pictures.  

“Are you okay?” Magnus asked again, placing a hand on Alec’s shoulder as he drove.  Alec shrugged.  

“I guess so. She didn’t seem to care.  But I don’t know what will happen if and when my dad finds out.  Now that everyone knows, it’s just going to be that much harder to keep it a secret from him,” Alec said.  

“Maybe you don’t have to,” Magnus said softly.  Alec sighed.  He wished his dad’s internalized homophobia hadn’t crept out so much and then maybe Alec wouldn’t have been so scared of telling him.  

 

When they pulled into the parking lot of Taki’s, Magnus led Alec inside and right to a large circular booth near the back.  

“Surprise!” he said, throwing his arms wide, and Alec saw Isabelle and Jace already seated, along with two other people in the booth with them.  

“What’s going on?” Alec asked, clearly confused.  

“I thought we’d do a double date…or a triple date in this case,” Magnus said.  

“Alec and Magnus, this is Clary and Simon,” Isabelle introduced them, motioning to the two newcomers.  They all shook hands with one another and then Alec and Magnus sat down.  The lunch went relatively well, and Alec thought Clary and Simon were nice enough people, though Simon liked to talk a lot.  Alec was still surprised Isabelle had gone for someone like Simon, glad she had found someone as nice as Simon seemed to be. Clary seemed like a good match for Jace, who liked to do reckless things sometimes, and Alec figured she could keep him grounded. 

“We’re sorry about what happened with those flyers,” Clary said sincerely, as they ate their lunch, and Simon nodded next to her.  “But if it’s any consolation, you guys are really cute together.” 

Alec could feel his face heating up, as Magnus beamed next to him, and everyone at the table found that hilarious.  

“Yeah, you wouldn’t believe it, but you guys are like rock stars now,” Simon said animatedly, and pushed his glasses up with a finger.  

“Thank you, Seamus,” Magnus said.  

“Simon,” he clarified, and Magnus only blinked at him. 

 

After they finished and paid, and Alec and Magnus were back in the car, Alec asked what the second surprise was.

“Is it dinner?” he ventured a guess, laughing lightly. 

“Haha, very funny, Alexander,” Magnus replied.   “Actually, I’m saving it for later.  For now I thought we could just hang out.”

The two boys walked around town and the park, enjoying each other’s company, then grabbed a bite to eat for dinner.  Afterwards, Magnus had Alec drive them back to his house.  

“Your mom isn’t home a lot, is she?” Alec wondered as they entered the empty house, and Magnus just shrugged and shook his head.  

“Most of her time is taken up by meetings and after school things,” he said.  

“Do you miss her when she’s gone?” 

Magnus shrugged again.  “Sometimes,” he answered truthfully.  “But sometimes it’s nice when she’s gone,” he added softly and put his hands on Alec’s hips, then tilted his head down for a kiss.  Alec wrapped his arms around Magnus’s neck and kissed back, closing his eyes and reveling in the closeness of him, his familiar scent of sandalwood and spices tickling his nose.  

“Are you ready for your second surprise?” Magnus murmured against Alec’s lips and Alec could only nod, not trusting his own voice. Magnus smiled and pulled away, but kept hold of one of Alec’s hands as he led the other boy upstairs where they stopped outside of Magnus’s room.

“Wait here,” Magnus said, then slipped into his room and closed the door behind him.  Alec couldn’t begin to guess what Magnus was doing on the other side of the door, but whatever it was seemed to be taking a bit of time.  He leaned against the wall and waited, the sounds of Magnus moving around reaching his ears.  Finally the door opened a crack and Magnus slipped back out.  

“Okay, close your eyes,” he said.  Alec narrowed his eyes in suspicion but did as he was told.  He heard Magnus open the door again, then took Alec’s hands and led him into the room, closing the door behind them.  He positioned Alec a few steps inside and steadied him in place, his hands on Alec’s shoulders.  

“Okay, open them,” he breathed into Alec’s ear, causing him to shiver, and he opened his eyes and was greeted by the sight of Magnus’s bedroom: the lights were off and it was lit entirely by candles placed all around the perimeter.  The bed was made save for one corner thrown back, and rose petals littered the bedspread and the floor around it.  

Alec turned his head up to Magnus.  “This seems like a fire hazard,” he laughed, and Magnus quirked an eyebrow at him, then bumped him with his hip. “Way to kill the mood, Lightwood.” 

“What’s it for?” Alec asked, still smiling.  Magnus shrugged, then took one of Alec’s hands.  

“I know you’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I just wanted to show you how much I love you. And being a hopeless romantic is about the only thing I’m good at,” Magnus smiled and shrugged. 

“Magnus,” Alec said softly, cupping the taller boy’s face in his hands.  “Thank you.” 

“You’re welcome,” Magnus smiled back.  His smile quickly faded, though, and Alec looked up at him, alarmed at the sudden change in his demeanor. 

“What? What’s wrong?” 

“I—I just realized how this must look,” Magnus said, shaking his head and running a tense hand through his hair.  “I swear, I’m not trying to rush you in to anything.  We don’t have to, if you’re not ready—I didn’t mean for—“ 

“Magnus.” 

The other boy stopped talking, and Alec could feel his erratic heartbeat through his shirt, his nervousness practically tangible.  The room was mostly dark save for the flickering candlelight that danced along the walls, but Alec could still make out the apprehension on Magnus’s face. 

“It’s ok,” Alec finally whispered. 

His blue eyes shone brightly even in the dim room, and he tilted his head up and caught the other boy’s lips with his own, his heart fluttering along with Magnus’s.  He hadn’t felt so loved in a long time, and though the past few weeks had been tough, he didn’t think he would’ve made it through them if not for Magnus, and he was so grateful that Magnus had continued to stand by his side through everything. 

Their kiss deepened and Alec threaded his fingers through Magnus’s hair, then down his shoulders, over his arms, until he was tugging at the hem of Magnus’s shirt. He lifted his arms and pulled away, and the shirt was discarded on the floor, followed by Alec’s, and together they made their way to the bed.  Neither bothered to sweep away the rose petals or turn down the comforter, and Alec found himself nestled between Magnus’s thighs, his mouth kissing the dark skin of the other boy’s neck.  Magnus whimpered beneath Alec, his hands caressing Alec’s smooth but muscular back before gripping his waistband and working on the button and zipper there.  Their mouths met again as Magnus pushed down Alec’s jeans and briefs and Alec gasped as Magnus wrapped a hand around him.  Alec grappled at Magnus’s own jeans until both pairs had been discarded, and they both grasped at bare, slick skin, moving against each other, and Magnus hardly remembered reaching into the nightstand for the necessary items.  

It was everything they had both imagined it would be.  It certainly wasn’t Magnus’s first time, but it was his first with someone he truly cared about, someone he loved completely and whom he knew loved him back just the same this time.  

Alec himself had been anxious, at first, knowing Magnus had been with more people, had more experience.  But Alec couldn’t imagine being with anyone but Magnus.  There was no one else that had seen all of Alec emotionally, and Alec couldn’t comprehend anyone but Magnus seeing all of him physically as well.  

Their euphoria brought them to new heights as they continued to move together in the candle-lit room, and as the ecstasy wore off, they descended as one, then lay as one, their bodies still entwined, as the candles flickered from small, golden embers to nothing, basking them in a heady darkness.     

Chapter Text

Alec woke next to Magnus—who was still sleeping—breathing softly next to him.  He wasn’t sure what time it was, and though it felt late, it didn’t seem like he’d been asleep that long.  It was still dark out, and he was sure they both would have heard the garage door open had Magnus’s mom come home.

There was no light in the room, the candles having all gone out, and though Alec couldn’t see much, he stayed facing Magnus, watching his silhouette in the darkness.  He wanted nothing more than to reach across and touch him, to run his hand—which he hovered in the small space between them—through Magnus’s hair, but he resisted, feeling almost as if he weren’t allowed to, which was silly considering where they were and what they had just done, but he pulled his hand back anyway.  Alec had never imagined that anyone, let alone someone as amazing as Magnus, would want to be with him.  Occasionally, he still found himself wondering if the world were playing a cruel joke on him, that at any moment Magnus would be snatched away from him, that he would realize what he’d gotten himself into and leave. Or worse, that the whole thing would be an elaborate prank set up by none other than Sebastian.  He would get to school one day and everyone, including Magnus, would be in on it, and the relentless laughter and teasing and taunting would haunt him until he was forced to leave, just like his last school. 

Stop it, he thought bitterly, and squeezed his eyes shut, willing away the intrusive thoughts and the overthinking, which always led to that familiar itch to make them stop. It was probably exhausting for Magnus to be with Alec, putting up with all of his issues. If he could see into Alec’s mind, at all of the thoughts that ran through Alec’s head, Magnus would surely leave. STOP IT. He clenched his fists and thought back to earlier, before they had fallen asleep, their bodies entwined under the sheets. Before the candles had flickered to nothing, in the almost darkness, Magnus had kissed all the places that Alec was scarred, and Alec had fought back tears at the wave of emotion that had overcome him. He still couldn’t believe that with all his flaws, all his problems, that Magnus was still around, that he had stayed. He felt as though he didn’t deserve him, or the kindness and love Magnus showed him every day.   

Alec knew Magnus didn’t want him doing it, but Magnus knew he couldn’t make Alec stop, though Alec wanted to. He’d wanted to stop for so long, to release himself from the incessant hold over him. So he would try to stop, for Magnus, because Magnus had stayed in spite of everything. And because Magnus had called him brave, though Alec couldn’t comprehend what Magnus thought was so brave about him.  But he owed it to Magnus, and to himself, so he would, he could, be brave.

“Do you think you’ll ever stop?” Magnus had asked him, almost as if he could read Alec’s thoughts in the dark. 

“I want to.” 

“I’ll help you.” 

“You always do.” 

 

He blinked away the not-so-distant memory as a hand raked through his hair, and he smiled.   

“Enjoying the view?” Magnus asked, and Alec gave a small laugh.  

“I can’t see much, so not really. How did you know I was awake?” 

Magnus’s hand slid carefully from Alec’s hair, down his neck, to his shoulder, until he was able to wrap it around Alec’s waist and pull him closer, and Alec came willingly, his own arms going around Magnus, their legs tangling together under the sheets again, and he breathed in the familiar scent of him. 

“I could just tell,” Magnus said softly.  

They’d stayed like that for a little while longer, talking idly in hushed voices, until they reluctantly got up to check the time; they would both die of mortification if Magnus’s mom accidentally walked in on them like that. Alec had left soon after, glad that none of his family had been around when he’d arrived home to question him about where he’d been.  He had thought getting to sleep would be tough, but he’d had no trouble, and woke the next morning happy and content.  He went downstairs after showering and continued to replay the night in his head as he sipped his coffee at the kitchen island.  He hadn’t realized he’d been smiling until Isabelle walked in.  

“What are you so happy about?” 

Alec snapped out of his reverie as she walked around the island and his smile faded.  

“Nothing,” he shrugged, but Isabelle didn’t seem convinced.  She narrowed her eyes but didn’t pry, and got herself some coffee, then sat down next to her brother.

“Can I ask you something?” Alec said after a few minutes.  

“Sure.” 

“Magnus did something really nice for me last night, and I want to do something for him in return, but I don’t know what to do.” 

Isabelle turned to Alec and raised her eyebrows, which were always perfectly arched, like Magnus's.  “Well what did he do?” she asked.  

Alec could feel his face turning red.  “The details aren’t important,” he mumbled and turned his gaze to his phone, and Isabelle rolled her eyes.  

“Well what does he like to do?” 

“What do you mean?” 

“I mean, does he like movies? Does he like to go to concerts? Does he like…I don’t know…dancing? Help me out here, Alec, you’re dating him, not me.” 

Alec frowned.  Now that he thought about it, he really didn’t know what Magnus liked.  They’d been together almost two weeks, and they talked all the time, yet he couldn’t name any of Magnus’s hobbies or favorite things.  And they had just slept together. What on earth was the basis of their relationship?

“I gotta go,” he said suddenly and jumped off the island stool, while Isabelle just sat there, confused.  

 

“Couldn’t stay away from me, huh?” Magnus asked as he slid into the booth opposite Alec at Taki’s.  Alec had texted Magnus to meet him right away, though now he was regretting it.  He didn’t know why Isabelle’s comments had affected him so much, but he was worried that their relationship was based on nothing more than physical attraction and it was freaking him out, because overthinking was his forte.  

“What’s wrong?” Magnus asked suddenly, and Alec silently kicked himself for having such a bad poker face when he was distressed.  

“Magnus…what’s my favorite movie?” he blurted out, and Magnus looked taken aback, not expecting such a strange question.  

“I was under the impression you didn’t really watch movies.  Do you have a favorite?” 

“What’s my favorite food? My favorite song? What’s my middle name?” 

Magnus shook his head.  “Alexander, what are you talking about?”

Alec ran a hand through his hair.  “Magnus, what exactly is this relationship based on? We don’t know anything about each other. And we just…slept together,” he looked around and whispered that last part, making sure no one was listening. He didn't need all of Taki's knowing he'd just had sex with his boyfriend.  

Alec could see the hurt on Magnus’s face and suddenly found himself wanting to jump over the table dividing them and wrap the other boy in his arms, while simultaneously wanting to punch himself in the face for making Magnus look like that.

“Well…even if it just physical attraction, so what? I’ve slept with people over a lot less,” Magnus said, and Alec gaped.  “Ok, that was supposed to be a joke,” Magnus muttered.  “So...do you regret it then?” he added softly, and the pained expression was back on his face, and Alec’s eyes widened.  

“No, of course not. I just don’t want our whole relationship to be only about physical attraction.” 

“Alec, we have our whole lives to get to know each other,” Magnus tried to reassure him.  

“That’s the other thing. Do we have our whole lives? What’s going to happen in a few months when we graduate? Are you going away? Are we staying together?” 

Magnus pursed his lips.  “I don’t see why this is bothering you all of the sudden. Why can’t we just live in the moment and enjoy being together?” 

Alec looked down at the table.  He wasn’t sure why he was making a big deal out of it.  Maybe it was the universe’s way of telling him he shouldn’t have a boyfriend because he would eventually fuck it up, or maybe he was trying to fuck it up on purpose, to stop the inevitability of Magnus realizing how difficult it was being in a relationship with him and eventually dumping him. To Alec’s surprise, Magnus had gotten up and slid into the booth next to Alec, then grabbed one of Alec’s hands under the table and held it in his own.  

“Alexander,” he said, his tone direct and his eyes unwavering, “I’ll admit that when I first saw you, I was attracted to you. I wasn’t lying when I said you were cute. But I also knew you were new and you seemed lonely and I wanted to get to know you better so you wouldn’t be lonely anymore. And I could tell you had a good heart, and I know that you care for your family, and that you just want to be loved.  And that you like Renaissance Festivals, and that you’re killer with a bow and arrow. So I may not know your favorite band or what your middle name is, but I know you’re a good person.” He placed his hand over Alec’s heart and could feel it skip in his chest.  “And I know that I love you.” 

Alec’s lips parted, and he blinked back tears and rested his own hand over Magnus’s. Then to Magnus’s surprise, Alec leaned forward and kissed him. It was only the second time they'd kissed in public, and the noise and chatter in the restaurant faded to a gentle hum around them, until they reluctantly pulled apart.  

“I love you too. And I’m sorry,” Alec said.  “I didn’t come here with the intent of having an anxiety attack just to get you to say everything you like about me. I’m just…still new to all of this.” 

“Really?” Magnus said sarcastically and arched an eyebrow. “You don’t say.” 

Alec shoved him and Magnus chuckled.   

“Just for the record,” he added, “What is your middle name?” 

“Gideon.” 

Magnus snorted and Alec rolled his eyes and shoved him again. 

“What’s your middle name?” 

“Don’t have one,” Magnus shrugged.

Alec nodded in understanding.  “I’m sorry I freaked out,” he said again softly, and Magnus only tilted his head.  “It’s understandable. It is your first relationship. Also, I’m still waiting for you to say everything you like about me.” 

“I’ll write you out a list,” Alec smiled.  

 

True to his word, Alec had listed off things he loved about Magnus as they ate lunch together: how Magnus was always there to defend those in need, how optimistic he was in almost any situation, how he always tried to get along with everyone, how he didn’t care what anyone thought about him, his amazing style, even if Alec himself wouldn’t be caught dead in any of it, and his rockin’ abs, of course. 

Magnus had almost choked on his sandwich at that last part. And Alec didn’t mention how he loved Magnus for staying with him despite everything they’d been through in the short time they’d been together. He was certain that anyone else would have bailed already.  And if Magnus thought Alec was brave, Magnus was a superhero in Alec’s eyes.  He loved Magnus for all the reasons he’d listed and more, but Magnus staying through all their adversity, and all of Alec’s crap that he had to put up with, hadn’t ceased to amaze him yet. 

“I wanted to do something for you, since you did all those things for me yesterday,” Alec said as they walked out of Taki’s together.  

“Oh?”

“But I couldn’t think of anything.” 

“Oh.” 

“But then I thought maybe,” Alec added, as he fidgeted with the cuff of his sleeve, “maybe I could teach you how to do archery? I mean, only if you want to that is. And I don’t know if I’m even a good teacher, or if I’m even good myself, since nobody really taught me, and I haven’t even been doing it for that long, but I’ve always wanted to show someone, maybe Max or something, but he’s never seemed interested and I thought maybe I could show you—”

“Alec,” Magnus interrupted, and Alec’s torrent of words stopped. Magnus could tell his rambling was based on nerves, as if he were afraid Magnus might think the idea stupid and say no. After realizing this, Magnus frowned, but resisted pulling Alec to him in a comforting hug.  Instead, he gently took Alec’s wrist until his fingers slid down and gripped his hand lightly.  

“I would love that,” he said sincerely, and Alec’s face lit up so brightly that Magnus had to once again resist dragging Alec to him, to hug him or make out with him, he wasn’t really sure.  

“In fact,” Magnus continued, “after our lesson, I could just watch you shoot arrows all day, if you want. And I wouldn’t argue if you decided to do it shirtless.  Goodness, I’m getting all hot and bothered just thinking about it.” He let go of Alec’s hand and began fanning himself with his own, while Alec just quirked an eyebrow and cleared his throat next to him, pulling Magnus reluctantly from his daydream. 

 

Magnus followed Alec to the Lightwood residence, and when they arrived, Alec led him to the backyard where he had his own target set up. 

“Let me just grab my stuff and I’ll be right back,” Alec smiled, trying to hide his excitement that he would finally get to teach someone archery.  He left Magnus to wait outside while he took the stairs to his room two at a time, quickly grabbed his bow, and quiver of arrows, then ran out of his room, and right into his mom.  

“Whoa, sorry mom,” he said, staggering backward.  

“Well, where are you off to in such a hurry?” she smiled as she steadied her son by the elbows.  

“I was going to show Magnus how to shoot a bow,” Alec said, and awkwardly readjusted his quiver.  He could feel his face heating up with modesty.  He hadn’t talked to his mom much since he’d come out to her, and even though he was glad that she knew—and had accepted it—it was still weird to him that she did.  He was a private person, and didn’t really like it when people knew too much about his personal life, not even his family.

“That’s nice,” Maryse said.  “You boys have fun then.” She began to walk down the hallway, but Alec stopped her before he made his way back down stairs.   

“Where’s dad?” he asked.  He didn’t want to accidentally run into him, and assumed Magnus didn’t want to either, especially after what had happened when Magnus had stayed for dinner.  He saw his mom tense, then turn to face him, a smile on her face that he could tell was forced.  

“He had to run to the office.  But he should be back before dinner.  Why?” 

Alec thought it was odd that his dad had gone to the office again on another weekend, which almost never happened, but he said nothing.  

“No reason.”

Maryse gave Alec another forced close-lipped smile.  “Say hello to Magnus for me,” she said, and turned again to walk toward her bedroom.  Alec watched her go, wanting to ask her if everything was okay, but he stayed silent until she had retreated to her room and closed the door, then he ran down the stairs with his gear.  

 

“What’s wrong?” Magnus asked as Alec entered the backyard. He must’ve had a distressed look on his face again, but he only shook his head.  

“Nothing,” he said.  “I just saw my mom on the way out, and she seemed weird about something…but I’m sure it’s nothing.” He dropped the subject and moved to stand in position, turning away from Magnus toward the target at the other end of the yard, and readied his bow.  

“Alec,” Magnus said, and his tone made Alec turn and face him.  Magnus only raised an eyebrow and tilted his head, waiting for Alec to elaborate.  He sighed and lowered his bow again.  

“I asked her where my dad was, and she said he was at the office…on a Sunday.  But like, so what? People go to their offices on weekends sometimes, right?” 

Magnus chewed on his lip.  “Sure,” he said after a beat, and shrugged.  “My dad went to the office on weekends all the time.” He left the statement hanging, and Alec didn’t need any clarification.  Magnus had never divulged why his dad wasn’t in the picture anymore, but Alec could put the pieces together.    

“He—he would never do that,” Alec argued and looked away, and realized he was gripping his bow tightly in one hand, so he loosened it.  

“I didn’t imply he was doing anything,” Magnus said.  Alec shook his head and sighed.  

“I don’t want to do this right now.  I’ll have to talk to Jace and Isabelle about it later.”

“Are you sure?” Magnus asked, his tone soft.  “If you’re worried about it and need to discuss it with them, I don’t want to get in the way of anything.” 

Alec looked back at Magnus.  “I’m sure,” he smiled, and threaded their hands together, then pulled him closer to the target. He wasn’t going to let his parents’ issues ruin his day with Magnus. He positioned Magnus so he was standing correctly, then handed him the bow and an arrow.  It was warm for mid-October, so Alec took off his jacket and tossed it on a nearby patio chair, then put his quiver back on as he went to stand near Magnus, who lifted both arms and nocked the arrow, then pulled back on the string.  Before he could let go, though, the arrow fell, the tail end still gripped in Magnus’s fingers.  

Alec tried not to smile as he lifted the arrow back up so it was resting in place again.  

“Ok, your first mistake is that you’re not pulling back far enough on the bow,” he said.  

“I’m not?” Magnus asked, surprised, and his arms slackened, causing the arrow to fall again.  This time Alec did smile.  

“No, but it’s a common mistake for beginners.  There’s a threshold when pulling back on the string that you have to get past before you can let go, otherwise the arrow won’t go very far.” 

Magnus lifted his arms and tried again, then let go.  The arrow flew a few feet before landing lightly in the grass, nowhere near the target, and Magnus frowned.  

“Well clearly I suck,” he said, and Alec choked back a laugh.  “You don’t suck, I promise,” he tried to reassure him.  “Here, let me show you.” He held his hand out for the bow, so Magnus obliged.  Alec took another arrow out and nocked it, then lifted his arms and pulled back on the string.  

“See how far back my arm is?” he asked.  

“Yes, I do,” Magnus marveled, and pushed the sleeve of Alec’s t-shirt up to his shoulder, unable to resist wrapping his fingers around Alec’s bicep.  Alec cleared his throat and the other boy let go.  “Sorry,” Magnus grinned.  Alec only smiled and shook his head, then focused his attention on the target and took aim.  He let the arrow fly, and it thunked into the bullseye.  

“See? Just like that,” he grinned and handed the bow back to Magnus.  

“Show off.”  

 

A few hours later, Magnus had learned enough to at least hit the target, even if he still couldn’t get it in the very middle.  As they wrapped up their lesson, Magnus had convinced Alec that the only way he would hit a bullseye was if Alec maneuvered Magnus like a puppet.  

“You know, like in the movies,” he said, and Alec laughed.  

“And what movie would that be?”

“All of them?” 

Alec rolled his eyes, but decided to humor him.  “Is this really helping?” he asked skeptically as they stood together, with Alec pressed up behind Magnus, their arms pulled back in unison, as Alec tried to aim.  

“Oh, it is indeed,” Magnus said, and turned his head to waggle his eyebrows up and down.  Alec snorted a laugh against the back of Magnus’s neck, and took an accidental step forward, causing Magnus to lose his footing. They both let go of the arrow and stumbled, their legs tangling together until they fell hard onto the ground in a heap.  

“Oh god, my butt. I think I landed on the bow,” Magnus groaned.  Alec had rolled off him onto the grass, and began laughing so hard that he couldn’t respond.  The quiver of arrows was still strapped to his back as he lay on his side and clutched his stomach, his wheezing laughter echoing through the backyard.  Magnus pulled the bow out from under him and tossed it aside, then turned back to Alec.  He ordinarily would have been laughing right along with him, but he sat transfixed as he watched the other boy, who always seemed to have his defenses up, now utterly gone. Magnus hadn’t realized until now how much he loved watching Alec laugh.  It was like an eclipse - it happened so infrequently, yet he found he couldn’t look away. The only other time he’d seen Alec laugh so freely was at his house after they’d inadvertently exchanged shirts, with Magnus’s mom walking in on them shortly after.  Alec was always trying to hide his emotions, but his whole face lit up when he laughed, and Magnus had a feeling he was the only one to ever really witness it.  He liked that feeling, of Alec trusting him enough to expose his emotions in front of him, both the good and the bad.      

“Oh my god,” Alec finally breathed. “I am so sorry.” He started to calm down as he wiped tears from his eyes and face.   Magnus crawled over to him as he let out a few more breathless laughs, and he let Magnus lift the quiver of arrows over his head and toss it to the side, the arrows scattering across the lawn.  Alec watched the movement, then looked back to see Magnus poised over him, his hands planted on either side of Alec’s head.  

“What are you doing?” Alec breathed as he lifted himself up on his elbows.  His heart beat quickly in his chest from his laughing fit, and it showed no sign of slowing as Magnus gazed down at him with his unique gold-green eyes.  

“This is probably wildly inappropriate considering where we are,” Magnus said, his voice deep with desire, “but I really want to kiss you right now.” Alec could only raise his eyebrows in surprise; the fact that they were still outside in his backyard was suddenly lost on him as he complied, leaning up a little farther, and kissing Magnus gently at first, then deepening it and pulling Magnus down onto the grass with him.  Magnus turned them onto their sides, threading his fingers in Alec’s hair, and they kissed like they’d been apart for weeks, completely forgetting the world around them.  

Their long legs tangled together in the grass, and Alec’s hands slid up the back of Magnus’s shirt, grazing the smooth expanse of skin there, and he felt that familiar tingle run down his spine that he still felt every time he kissed Magnus, and god, he could kiss him forever and never tire of it.  

“Ahem.” 

The two boys scrambled apart to see Jace standing on the deck, watching them as he leaned on the wooden railing.  He smiled and waved, and they stood up quickly, dusting grass and dirt off of themselves.  

“We were just—I was just teaching him archery,” Alec stammered, and Jace nodded.  

“Oh right. I forgot the first rule of archery is tossing your equipment aside and tumbling around on the lawn like your plane’s going down,” Jace said as he continued smiling and propped his chin in his palm.  

“Actually, that’s the second rule,” Magnus snickered behind Alec, who was in the process of rubbing the skin off his face with his hands.

“Oh kay, we’re going now,” Alec said as he grabbed Magnus by the front of the shirt and hauled him toward the front yard.  Magnus blew a kiss to Jace and winked as they walked past the deck, and Jace could only grin and shake his head. 

“All right, new rule,” Alec said when they were out of earshot of Jace as they walked toward Magnus’s car.  “We only do that behind closed doors from now on.”

“So modest,” Magnus teased and leaned against the passenger’s side door of his car, then grabbed Alec by the shirt and pulled.  He stumbled against Magnus, bracing his hands flat on the window behind them, their faces only centimeters apart. 

“So this is against the rules then?” Magnus murmured against Alec’s lips.  Alec grinned and moved his hands until they rested on Magnus’s waist.  

“Fine, last time,” he said softly, and they kissed languidly until Magnus finally pulled away and touched his forehead to Alec’s.  

“I should probably go.  Homework.” 

“Sure you don’t want to stay for dinner?” Alec joked.  

“You know, as fun as your family dinners are, I think I’ll pass,” Magnus said, and Alec laughed.  Magnus took Alec’s hand then, twining their fingers together.  

“I like hearing you laugh, like you did back there,” he said quietly, turning his gaze down.  “I wish you did it more often.” 

Alec turned his head away and opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind, his jaw clenching as he closed it again.  He hoped Magnus understood that he was trying to open up more, trying to be more positive, but it had been engrained in Alec for years that he shouldn’t be like that, and it wasn’t just a switch he could turn off.  And though he loved that he could be more himself around Magnus, it was still hard for him to be that person in every situation.  He had put up walls at a young age to defend himself against the relentless teasing he had endured throughout school, and knocking them down wasn’t something that happened overnight.  Alec wanted nothing more than to explain all of this to Magnus, but he knew if he opened is mouth to talk about it, the wave of emotions he was continually trying to keep in check would come crashing down again.  So he only hoped that Magnus understood.  

Magnus could sense Alec struggling with his inner thoughts, so he dropped the subject and pulled Alec into a hug, his arms going around the other boy’s waist.  

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” he said into Alec’s ear, and Alec could only nod. After a few more minutes of goodbyes, they finally parted, and Alec waved as Magnus drove away.  

—-  

“So Jace is taking the car to Clary’s, and Isabelle is going home with Simon. Do you want to come over after school?” Alec asked Magnus at lunch on Monday. 

“Why, because you don’t have a ride home now?” Magnus said.  

“Yes, that is exactly why,” Alec said dryly.  

“Meh, I guess.” 

Alec bumped Magnus affectionately, and they finished their lunch. Afterward, he eagerly watched the clock through the rest of his classes until the last bell finally chimed.  

He met Magnus in the parking lot, and together they drove to Alec’s house.  When they got there, they immediately made their way to his bedroom.  They each threw their bags on the floor, then Alec turned on some music just for some background noise.  He turned to Magnus then, who grabbed him by the waist and pulled him down on the bed.  They kissed heatedly, and before long, they were fully on the bed, Magnus’s long, lithe body framing Alec’s.  Their shirts had been discarded somewhere, and Alec’s hands dug into Magnus’s back as he kissed and nipped at Alec’s neck before moving back to his mouth.  Alec’s hand found its way into Magnus’s unnecessarily tight jeans, and Magnus sucked in a breath.  The two boys were so wrapped up in each other that neither heard the front door open, or Max calling Alec’s name from downstairs.  And when the bedroom door swung open a few moments later, Alec yelped and sat up, tipping Magnus to the side who fell to the floor with a hard thud.  

“Max, don’t you knock?” Alec shouted, and Max just stood there.  

“Sorry, but you weren't answering and I’m hungry.” 

“Just—go downstairs and I’ll be down in a minute,” Alec said irately, rubbing his eyes.  Max just sighed and closed the door behind him.  Alec fell back against the pillows, then grabbed one off to the side and threw it over his face, groaning loudly, his voice muffled through the fabric and cotton.  Magnus stood up stiffly, his hand rubbing at his backside, before sitting down on the edge of the bed.  

“All right, so the closed-door rule apparently needs to be the locked-door rule,” Magnus said tightly, and Alec groaned into the pillow again. “Well, silver lining,” he added, “at least our pants were still on.” 

Alec pulled the pillow from his face and glared at Magnus before snacking him so hard with it that Magnus fell off the bed again, and this time it was his turn to yelp.  

 

The two boys clamored down the stairs a few minutes later to find Max in his usual spot in front of the TV, though Magnus was delighted to see one of the manga he’d given Max open in front of him. When Max saw them, he got up and followed them to the kitchen, and Alec ducked into the fridge to avoid making eye contact with his younger brother.  He wasn’t sure how much Max had seen, but the fact that he and Magnus had both had their shirts off should’ve been enough to tip him off that they’d been doing something.   

“How about I just order a pizza,” he suggested.  He was in no mood to cook something, and making the call would get him out of the kitchen for at least a few minutes.  Max was fine with the pizza idea and after they all agreed on toppings, Alec stepped into the living room to order it.  

Max sat down at the kitchen table where Magnus was already seated, and Magnus resisted the urge to look at his phone.  He shifted in his chair to see the younger boy regarding him curiously behind dark-rimmed glasses.  

“You’re home early,” Magnus observed, then mentally chided himself.  

“We had an early release,” Max pointed out, and Magnus only nodded, while assuming Alec had probably forgotten that little tidbit of information.

“How do you like the manga?” 

Max grinned, clearly happy to be asked about it.  “They’re great! I read them all the time.” 

“Good, good,” Magnus nodded, and trailed off.  He didn’t talk to young kids very often and the atmosphere was becoming increasingly awkward.   

“What were you and Alec doing upstairs?” 

And there it was. Magnus silently wished Alec would hurry up.  He wasn’t sure what he was allowed to tell Max, but since he was Alec’s brother after all, he was probably smarter than he let on.  

“Kissing,” he said truthfully, because what else could he say?

“Oh. Why did he get so mad when I walked in?” 

Magnus had to bite back a laugh.  “We try not to do it in front of people,” he shrugged, and gave Max a small smile.  

“Oh. Why?” 

Magnus had to refrain from taking a deep breath.  He sometimes forgot that kids liked to ask questions.  

“Um, I think it embarrasses him.” 

“Oh. Why?” 

He couldn’t help himself this time and sighed audibly.  

“You’re very inquisitive,” he pointed out, and Max just blinked at him.  

“Is that good?” 

“Sometimes.”

Alec walked into the kitchen then, his phone in his hand, and Magnus relaxed a little. 

Max turned to face his brother.  “Magnus said you guys were kissing but it embarrasses you.” 

“Jesus Christ,” Alec muttered under his breath as he stared up at the ceiling, and Magnus snickered.  

“That’s not quite what I said,” he clarified, and Alec slumped into the chair next to him and rubbed his eyes.  

“Alexander, I think your brother is just curious.  You can’t fault him for that,” Magnus said softly.  Alec only frowned, then sighed and propped his head in his hand.  

“All right, Max, what do you want to know?” 

“Are you guys in love?” 

Alec felt his face heat up, but he nodded his head slowly.  

“Do you have sex?” 

Alec’s head fell out of his hand but he caught it before his chin bashed into the table.  He heard Magnus snickering again next to him and it took everything in him not to punch him in the arm.  

“Oh my god, how do you even know about that? You’re ten!” 

Max just shrugged.  “We watched videos about it in school.” 

Alec covered his face with his hands and groaned.  He remembered watching those same videos when he was younger, but he hadn’t been quite so vocal about it.  He seemed to recall being quite embarrassed about the whole ordeal, having to endure it while being around his classmates, not to mention that he’d felt so far away from them when he realized that the couples in the videos were all straight, because even back then he’d known.  Max must have thought the same thing because that was his next question.  

“How come they don’t talk about boys dating boys or girls dating girls? Is it wrong? Is that why you don’t want mom and dad to know?”

Alec crossed his arms over the table and hung his head so Magnus thought he would field that question.  

“It’s not wrong, Max,” he said, and Alec thought he sounded tired, as if he’d been answering this question his whole life.  “Your school’s videos are just a little outdated.  Some adults think that kids can’t handle the truth, but they don’t realize that you’re smarter than you look.” 

Max beamed at that, then his face fell again.  “My friend Tommy says it’s wrong. He says you guys are going to h—” He clamped a hand over his mouth and pointed to the floor, knowing he wasn’t allowed to say the word Hell.  

“Your friend Tommy is a moron,” Magnus said dryly, and Alec poked him.  

“He really is though,” Max agreed and laughed.  “Do mom and dad think it’s wrong?” 

Magnus didn’t want to answer that for Alec, so he turned his head to him.  

Alec sighed.  “I don’t think dad is okay with it. Which is why I don’t want him to know.” 

“I promise I won’t tell him,” Max said.  

“Thanks, Max,” Alec replied, his voice sad.  

The doorbell rang then, and Magnus had never seen pizza arrive so quickly.  “Oh, thank god,” Alec muttered and jumped up to answer it.  Magnus and Max stayed seated as they waited.  “For the record,” Magnus said quietly, “we do have sex,” he winked, and Max giggled and covered his mouth with his hands.  

“What's going on? What are you laughing about?” Alec asked anxiously as he came back to the kitchen with the boxes of pizza.  

“Nothing,” Magnus replied sweetly.

 

They all went to the living room to eat their pizza, while Alec and Magnus both tried to make sense of whatever ridiculous cartoon Max was watching.  

“We’re going up to my room,” Alec told his brother after they’d finished eating.  

“‘Kay,” Max said, his eyes glued to the screen.  

“And make sure you knock if you need me, twerp,” Alec added, and Magnus stifled a laugh as they turned to leave.  

Max finally look away from the TV screen then.  “Are you going up there to have sex?” 

Alec stumbled and Magnus caught himself before he bashed into him from behind.  

“Oh my god, why hasn’t the floor opened up and swallowed me yet??” Alec cried dramatically, and Magnus fell against him laughing.  

 

Alec tipped over face first onto his bed and groaned into his pillow, and Magnus walked around to the other side and laid down, propping himself against the headboard and crossing his long legs at the ankles.  

“Quite the theatrics,” he observed.  “You should try out for the school play this year.  You’d be very good.” 

Alec turned his head so he was facing Magnus, his expression one of deep annoyance.  

“Very funny, Bane,” he said, then folded his arms under his chin. “You’re lucky you don’t have any siblings.” 

Magnus only shrugged “I suppose.” 

“Do you ever get lonely?”

“Sometimes.” 

Alec studied Magnus as he sat next to him on the bed.  Magnus had never told him what had happened to his dad, or much about his life, now that Alec thought about it.  

“He left, didn’t he?” Alec said, taking a shot in the dark.  

Magnus hesitated before answering, and frowned. 

“You don’t have to talk about him if you don’t want to,” Alec added.  He didn’t want to make Magnus dredge up bad memories for his sake. 

“No, it’s ok,” Magnus said.  “He did leave.  When I was very young. He and my mom got married very young, because she was pregnant with me, and a few years later, he left. I wasn’t lying when I said he would go to the office sometimes on weekends.  I assume it was because he had met someone else and was sneaking around. I haven’t seen him for a long time.”  

“I’m sorry,” Alec said lamely, because he didn’t know what else he could say.  

“My mom was better off without him.  I don’t think he treated her very well.” 

Alec turned over on his side and propped his head in his hand.  “Do you think that my dad is cheating on my mom?” he asked quietly.  It was the first time he’d actually said the words out loud since running into his mom in the hallway the other day.  He had yet to bring up the issue with Jace or Isabelle.  

Magnus pulled his legs up and crossed them, then leaned forward, clasping his hands in his lap.  “I don’t think I know your dad well enough to make that call,” he said truthfully.  

“If you could’ve seen how my mom was acting…but he wouldn’t do that…” Alec said, shaking his head lightly, though it seemed to Magnus he was more trying to convince himself.  

“I think you should wait until you have proof.  You know what happens when you assume: you make an ass of you and me.” 

Alec snorted.  “What?” 

“You’ve never heard that before?” Magnus asked, skeptical, but Alec only shook his head.  “Well jeez, Alexander, do you live under a rock?” 

Alec made a face.  “You better watch your mouth, Bane,” he joked, and Magnus quirked an eyebrow at him.  

“Or what?” 

But he didn’t give Alec a chance to respond before he draped himself over Alec and kissed him once on the mouth, then trailed a line of kisses down to his throat.  

“Did you lock the door?” Magnus asked, his lips grazing Alec’s skin. 

“mmcan’t remember,” Alec murmured, his eyes drifting closed as the other boy continued to kiss him. 

Magnus gasped suddenly and sat back on his knees, and Alec’s eyes flew open.  

“What? What's wrong?” he asked, panicked, as vivid flashbacks of their first time kissing in Magnus’s bed crashed into him, his heart thundering in his chest and his mind going into overdrive, wondering what he’d done wrong this time. 

“I just realized I forgot to talk to my mom about Sebastian. I think his suspension ended today.” 

Alec, who had propped himself up on his elbows, slumped back down on the pillow and covered his face with his hands.  “Jesus, Magnus,” he muttered, and let out a shaky breath.   

It dawned on Magnus suddenly the major faux pax he’d just committed and he mentally kicked himself.  He should've known Alec was still self-conscious about what had happened, and he hadn't meant to react the same way. 

“Fuck, Alec, I’m sorry,” he said and and leaned forward again to cup Alec’s cheek in his hand.  Alec uncovered his eyes and sat up.  

“It’s okay,” he said truthfully.  He knew Magnus hadn’t done it on purpose.  

“Are you sure?”

Alec nodded.  “Yeah.  Why were you thinking about that anyway?” 

“I don’t know,” Magnus shook his head. “Just came to me all of the sudden.” 

“You think Sebastian still has it out for me? I mean, I haven’t seen him in a week.” 

Magnus frowned. “I’d like to think he found a hobby rather than stewing about you in ISS this whole time, but who can say?”

Alec sighed and ran a hand through his hair.  “What do you think his deal is? And not just with me, but in general?”      

Magnus leaned back on his hands and thought about it. “Maybe you were right at Taki’s that day — maybe he does have a shitty home life.  Maybe his dad bullies him so he takes it out on everyone else. But that’s no excuse for his behavior.  And I promise I will talk to my mom about him tonight.  And I swear,” he’d leaned forward once more, his gold-green eyes unwavering as he looked into Alec’s icy blue ones, “I won’t let him hurt you again.”  

Alec touched his forehead to Magnus’s. He knew it wasn’t Magnus’s job to keep him safe, whatever that entailed, but he loved Magnus for offering.  “I believe you,” he said and smiled. Magnus stood up then and made sure the door was locked before rejoining Alec on the bed.