Actions

Work Header

Take Me to Church

Chapter Text

He wasn’t listening to what the other man was saying. He was pretty sure it was the usual – something about taking care of his health or being more responsible. Or both. He means well, of course. But there would be a million other things Magnus would be doing on a Monday morning than listen to this not-so-new lecture.

“Are you even listening to me?” the other man asked.

“Yes. Yes. You were saying something about…Well, you were definitely saying something,” Magnus replied, playing with his jacket.

“Magnus, this is not a joke!” said the other man, his tone slightly serious now.

“Of course not. If it were, I’d be laughing, won’t I?” Magnus countered cheekily.

This was not the attitude one should take with their boss, at least not if they want to keep their job. But his flippant insubordination comes mainly from the knowledge that regardless of what he does, he will not receive anything more than an exasperated “Magnus, not again!”

The exemption did not mean that he usually fucked up a lot. Underneath the attitude – and multiple layers couture – he was a professional. He was one of those people who were never told off because they always get the job done. Regardless of what he did during his personal time, people could always count on Magnus Bane to deliver.

He has been heading the operations and overseeing all projects of Edom Incorporated for the last four years. One could say that he basically runs the company.

It wasn’t easy running one of the top construction companies in New York. It took most of his time, effort and energy. But Magnus would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy his job. After all, he had been groomed to do this since he was a child.

Luckily, he wasn’t one of those uptight jerks who turned into sour workaholics. He always knew just how to balance his personal and professional lives. Yes, sometimes one of them fucked the other over. He could remember the lovers who had left him because they couldn’t keep up with his schedule. And there have been times when his penchant for partying had made him miss an important flight or twelve.

But he always got the job done - Which was why he was thoroughly annoyed that he had to listen to the other man blabber on and on about the importance of the Blackthorn contract.

“I know you are confident about your abilities and so am I. But you have to remember that the Blackthorns are from…Angel Square,” the other man said.

Ugh, Angel Square.

Not to be over-dramatic or anything, but Angel Square was literally the worst place in the entire planet. It wasn’t just a place, but rather an amalgamation of some of the most affluent places in New York. This included Soho, Lincoln Square and of course, the Upper East and West sides.

People from Angel Square made their wealth by exploiting every other borough of New York.

These people called themselves Shadowhunters.

Apparently, the name was created by one of their ancestors, some racist prick called Jonathan something, who had proclaimed that it was the solemn duty of those born in Angel Square - those who were now referred to as Shadowhunters - to save the city of New York from shadows that lurked around. In his attempt to make New York a better place, the man had phenomenally fucked things up.

The Shadowhunters of Angel Square were made of old money. There were some of the most richest, influential and powerful people in New York – Basically uptight, snobbish, prejudiced pricks.

“They want to build something in the Downworld and therefore, they are going to need us. So, it doesn’t matter if the Blackthorns are from Angel Square.” he said, now his voice suddenly all serious and businesslike. He hated how the thought of those fuckers could ruin his mood in an instant.

“Of course it matters!” the other man said through gritted teeth, “Blood calls for blood.”

“The Blackthorn family has members from the Downworld too,” Magnus reminded him.

“As if that has ever mattered,” the other man sighed tiredly.

Even as he said it, he knew that it wasn’t really a strong argument. Helen and Mark Blackthorn may belong to the Blackthorn family, but he knew that the respect they got in the industry was significantly less when compared to their siblings - much younger, inexperienced siblings. This discrimination was solely based on the fact that Helen and Mark were born and raised in the Downworld, just like Magnus himself.

He used to hate the name Downworld. His blood used to boil every time he was referred to as a Downworlder. But now, it didn’t bother him as much.

The Shadowhunters of Angel Square had named the less affluent parts of New York as the Downworld since they believed that people from these areas were beneath them. So, if you are from South Bronx or Brooklyn or god forbid Staten Island, you would be considered as a Downworlder. People from these areas, people referred to as Downworlders, were those that worked for minimum wage under Shadowhunters. In the old times, centuries ago, some people from the Downworld were even taken as slaves.

So, it was no surprise that the animosity between Angel Square and Downworld ran deep.

Just as they were starting to make some economic progress in the Downworld, about a couple of decades ago some people from Angel Square, under the leadership of a madman, had taken it upon themselves to ‘clean the streets’ of Downworlders.

They had taken the name Shadowhunters rather seriously, as this group of youngsters had considered themselves to be hunters of the shadows that lurked at night. In reality, these ‘shadows’ were children from poor families stealing out of poverty and their so called ‘hunting’ had been the butchering of innocent lives.

Their dream of building a better and safer New York had led to the deaths of countless Downworlders and resulted in the destruction of most of their properties. The 80's Riots had changed all their lives forever. 

And that was when the Downworld decided that they have had enough. They took ownership of the name that was used to insult them. Now they proudly called themselves Downworlders. Twenty years later, after much hard work and dedication, they had come a long way.

Of course, not everyone did. Unfortunately, the world did not work that way.

There are still many from the Downworld who had to resort to criminal behavior and suffered from poverty, but Magnus believed that he could change that. He had been fortunate enough to be born into a family that had made it through. Actually, he belonged to the most popular and influential family in the Downworld.

Even though he lived in Brooklyn Heights now – which was not a part of Angel Square, Thank God, but was still one of the better neighborhoods in the city – Magnus had lived in the worst of circumstances for most of his childhood.

So, even if he is considered as one of New York’s most eligible of bachelors now, Magnus knows what it is like to starve. He still remembers what it feels like to be hunted. And even after all these years, he still knows what it feels like to be discriminated solely because of where you were born. It didn’t matter that he was richer than most in Angel Square – he was always regarded as a Downworlder.

Prejudice is not something you can erase with any amount of money.

God, there was nothing he hated more than Angel Square.

This was why he worked hard every single day. This was why he had given up on his dream of travelling the world and returned to New York to run Edom Incorporated. Someone had to put the people of Angel Square in place, and it may as well be him.

“Have I ever let you down in the past?” he asked.

“No, you haven’t. Edom is thriving because of your efforts. We have won every single building contract since you set foot in here. I have every faith in you, Magnus,” the other man confessed, his voice sincere and proud.

“But?”

“But…You know who else is going to be there this afternoon.”

“Lightwoods,” Magnus spat.

The name tasted like poison in his mouth. The Lightwood family has been on top of the food chain in Angel Square since the beginning. And as expected, every member of the family was a vicious, vindictive, self-righteous jerk.

Not only were the Lightwoods their number one rival and the owners of Idris Incorporated, but they also were involved in the destruction of the Downworld during the 80's Riots.

So, the antagonism was highly personal between the Lightwoods and his own family.

“We cannot let the Lightwoods win this contract,” the other man said with a sense of urgency, “You know what happened last time when Shadowhunters tried building something in the Downworld.”

“I do,” Magnus said, his voice trembling slightly.

He didn’t want to think about what happened the last time the Lightwoods had taken up a big contract in the Downworld. It was still too early in the morning and, even after twenty years, still too soon.

Edom had won almost all the major contracts in Downworld in the last decade. They have been constructing schools, hospitals, shopping malls and anything you can name left, right and center to expedite the development of their territory. Of course, the Lightwoods were not happy with this situation but there was nothing they could do about it either.

So, the Lightwoods have mostly been working on contracts within Angel Square for the recent years. But those relentless fuckers from Idris Inc. kept coming back every single time, trying to pry the opportunities away from the Edom.

Well, that wasn’t gonna happen – Not as long as Magnus was there.

He got up from his seat and adjusted his jacket, “This project is happening in the Downworld. I will not let anyone from Angel Square move a single brick in our home.”

“That’s my boy,” the other man smiled.

“I will come back with good news, father,” Magnus promised and left the room.

As he walked out of his father's office and towards the entrance, he ran into his childhood friend and most trusted advisor, who was waiting for him by the car with a serious look on his face. The boy was also a giant pain in the ass, but that was up for debate depending on Magnus’ mood.

“You look like a man on a mission,” Magnus said, in the way of greeting him.

“And you are late,” Raphael snapped.

“I know. My meeting with father ran later than expected,” he explained as he got into the car.

“It would have finished on time if you had got there early in the first place,” Raphael murmured as he got behind the wheel and took off.

So, Raphael was leaning towards 'pain in the ass' today. Great!

“Have you settled on a strategy for today’s meeting?” Raphael asked as they made their way out of Brooklyn.

“I don’t need a strategy. I just need to be my usual charming self,” Magnus shrugged.

“Magnus,” Raphael let out an exasperated sigh, “You can’t flirt your way through everything!”

Magnus turned to face the other man, “Is that a challenge?”

Raphael rolled his eyes at that. “Helen Blackthorn is happily married and from what I know, Mark is taken too. So, unless you are planning on flirting with the Lightwoods…”

Magnus made a loud, disgusted noise to show how repulsive the suggestion was, “I would rather die.”

They went back to their usual comfortable silence and drove towards to their meeting point, which was not surprisingly, in Upper East Side. The Blackthorns might have connections in the Downworld but they still considered themselves to be Shadowhunters – And no child of the angel would dare to visit his side of town.

As he looked over the neighborhood he grew up in, he realized how much has changed for him. He might be the son of Asmodeus and the sole heir to Edom. But it wasn’t always like this. He remembers his parents working in Angel Square just like everyone else from the Downworld. He remembers his parents sacrificing their meals so that he could eat.

And most importantly, he remembers how the mighty Shadowhunters lavished in their fancy homes, while his neighbors slowly started to disappear one by one - out of poverty and crime.

Magnus wasn’t jealous. No, it wasn’t jealousy.

It was anger. He was angry at the flawed system that allowed one part of the city to enjoy life extravagantly while the other barely even existed. He was angry at the fact that no one from Angel Square thought of building a better world for those from the Downworld even though they had the means to do it.

To own his disappointment he had come to realize, that if you want to change world, you had to do it yourself.

Edom has been working on reducing poverty in the Downworld for the last decade. The employment rates had gone up, birth mortality was steady and more children were going to school now. But it wasn’t easy, thanks to the Shadowhunters from Angel Square.

This was what pissed him off the most.

“You know what pisses me off the most about Shadowhunters?” he asked Raphael, putting extra emphasis on the last word.

“Their ignorance about fashion despite all the wealth?” Raphael snickered.

“Ugh, that too,” Magnus shuddered. Despite being the wealthiest people in town, Shadowhunters were the stingiest bunch he had ever met. They preferred not to spend money on fashion or any other personal pursuits. They hogged all their money and kept reinvesting it on their businesses. Someone really had to teach those uptight assholes to loosen up and live a little.

“I hate how they never help us. They never once thought of helping the Downworld even though they are loaded. They never helped us rebuild the Downworld even though they were the reason why it was destructed in the first place. But what I hate most is that they are hindering our interventions to help the Downworld too. I am fine with them being selfish jerks that hoard all their money. But why the fuck are they preventing us from making ourselves better?”

“You know why, Magnus,” Raphael sighed heavily.

Of course, he knew. At this rate, if Edom keeps up it’s development process, the entire Downworld would become a metropolitan area in less than a decade. In other words, Angel Square would no longer be the wealthiest part of New York. This terrified the Shadowhunters spread throughout the city. They were not comfortable with giving up their status as the most powerful beings in town.

So, they kept sabotaging. Every time Edom tried to start a project under the Downworld Development Plan, they would get involved. The project always got approved, but Edom had to face unnecessary delays and extra expenses. This ultimately postponed the progress of the Downworld.

No matter how hard the Downworld tried to move on from the past, the Shadowhunters kept giving them more and more reasons to fight back.

As they reached Blackthorn Co. a hotel chain from LA that was trying to expand in New York, specifically in the Downworld, Magnus put on his game face.

Alright, time to do this shit!

They both got out of the car and started moving towards the building. They had almost reached the boardroom without any incidents when they noticed him standing outside.

“Ah, look! The Spanish Inquisition is here!” the blonde announced to no one.

Ugh, his Monday morning could not get any worse.

“I’m Mexican, you ignorant imbecile!” Raphael bit back, “If you are going to insult me, at least do it properly for god’s sake.”

“Meh, you are all dirtbag Downworlders,” the other man shrugged.

Before Raphael could respond, Magnus intervened. “Raphael, we are here on a mission. We can’t afford to get our dirty hands any dirtier.”

“Awww. Are you girls scared of getting your ass kicked?” Jace chuckled.

“It’s 2019, Herondale. Quit the sexist jokes,” Magnus warned.

Jace Herondale, an integral part of Idris Inc. was considered as one of the most prized possessions of Angel Square. Born to Stephen and Celine Herondale, similar Magnus, he was the sole heir to one of the biggest companies in the city. But he had lost both his parents in the riots twenty years ago. Everyone knew his tragic tale and everyone sympathized.

But what everyone did not know was that there were hundreds of children who were orphaned in the Downworld during the riots. These children did not have grandmothers who were part of British Royalty nor did they have a loaded foster family to adopt and raise them as one of their own.

Unlike Jace Herondale, these children had to resort to petty crime to survive. Some children had to resort to worse measures. So, Magnus was really fucking tired of this blond prick getting away with his rude and racist behavior just because he was a tragic victim of the 80's riots. 

They were all victims of the riot, some more than others.

Just as the blonde boy was about to retort, something racist or sexist Magnus was sure, the door opened and he walked out.

Magnus was wrong. His Monday morning could indeed get much, much worse.

He knew he was going to run into him today. After all, he was the heir to Idris Inc. and their strongest asset. But Magnus had been hoping that they wouldn’t have to exchange words outside the meeting – because the other man always brought out the worst in him.

“Lightwood,” he spat.

“Bane,” the other man said in equal contempt.

Alec Lightwood – his arch nemesis. Enough said. 

Some people, Magnus had come to realize, were just not worth your time.

“Jace, they are ready,” he said to his brother. Jace gave them a cocky grin and followed his brother in.

“If I try to throttle the blonde one to death-”

“You have my blessing,” Magnus finished and walked into the board room.

He noticed Helen and Mark Blackthorn seated at the head of the table, which showed some promise about their prospects this afternoon. He gave them both a quick smile and took his place opposite the Lightwoods.

The Blackthorns explained the details of the project, although all parties had been extensively debriefed a week earlier. Still, Magnus listened intently to every word, hoping he could capitalize on anything they say.

After explaining the timeline and the budget, Helen Blackthorn looked over at the table with slight hesitation.

“The Hotel, as you know, will be a branch of our chain in LA. After the...unfortunate incident last year, we are hoping to do some damage control in New York. So, it is of utmost important to us that all goes well. Now I know that both Idris and Edom are…reputed organizations. We have absolute faith in your abilities, but we can only offer the contract to one of you. So, gentlemen - The floor is yours.”

Lightwood, as usual, cleared his throat and seized the opportunity first.

“Thank you, Helen,” he gave her a polite nod, “I hope Julian, Ty, Livvy, Dru and Tavvy are doing well. Please give them my best.”

This nepotistic douchebag!

“I have already shared all our latest stats with you via email. It shows that Idris has been on top of the game for the last decade. You said that you wanted the best and I can guarantee you that we will offer nothing less,” he declared with all the confidence of an arrogant snob.

“Mr. Lightwood is indeed right,” Magnus intervened gently with a polite but fake smile on his face. “Idris is indeed at the top of the game. But this specific project is taking place in the Downworld. And I have to commend the Blackthorns for this bold move. The Downworld economy is increasing by the day and I am glad you have decided to invest on us.”

“However-” Lightwood tried to take control of the room again.

“However, indeed.” Magnus smoothly got back on track. “If you are going to build a hotel in the Downworld, it only makes sense to trust the contract with a company from the Downworld. Idris might be best in Angel Square, but I am not sure how well they will be received in the Downworld after the riots.”

“That was twenty years ago!” Herondale complained, “I think Idris getting involved would be a good idea. We will finally be able to build a bridge between the two sides.”

“Oh, please” Raphael snorted, “The only thing you want to build is your own profits.”

“What my partner is trying to say is,” Magnus said, sending a quick glare towards Raphael, “It will be difficult for Idris to identify the right local resources for the project. They do not know the Downworld like we do. They will have to outsource almost every single resource, including the construction workers.”

“So, what if we do? We’ll still get the job done,” Jace shrugged.

Spoken like an entitled prick from Angel Square, Magnus thought, but did not say out loud.

“Mr. Herondale,” he said calmly as possible, “The livelihoods of most of those who live in the Downworld depend on their monthly wages. If you outsource people for the project, you are taking away the opportunity from the locals. You are directly affecting the economy and development of the Downworld.”

“I am sure they will be able to find something else,” Jace responded negligently.

“I am not sure if you’ve noticed, Mr. Herondale. But people from the Downworld do not have the privilege of multiple options. We make do with what we get,” Magnus responded with a slight edge to his voice.

Lightwood noticed the growing tension between the two parties and decided to intervene.

“It is true that we don’t have access to the same local resources as Edom. And I know that it can affect their economy. But the whole point of this project is to sustain the economy in the Downworld. For example, once the hotel is built, I am sure they will be able hire people from the Downworld and solve the employment crisis. Is that not right, Mark?”

Sometimes he wanted to punch Lightwood in his perfect teeth.

“Of course,” Mark offered, “Our plan is to hire as many locals as possible to foster the Downworld economy.”

“So, what do you suggest they do till the hotel is built?” Raphael asked, “Starve?”

“There are multiple projects happening in the Downworld due to the rapid development phase. I am sure it will not be an issue,” Lightwood replied.

While that may be true, what these entitled asshats did not understand was that Downworld families needed sustainable jobs. They needed to work with one company on the long run to enjoy the same employment and health benefits like anyone else in the city. It did not help them to jump from one contract to another.

“We might not be from the Downworld, Mr. Bane,” Lightwood said, now flipping through a file, “But we know all about it. We have done comprehensive data analysis to understand the Downworld economy. Our report on annual income shows that 55.6% of women are still unemployed. We also found that 32.8% of colle-”

“With all due respect, Mr. Lightwood,” Magnus said, trying to sound not as angry as he felt, “These are people, not numbers on a piece of paper.”

He looked the Blackthorns now, who seemed quite uncomfortable with the whole ordeal. “I am sure that their report will be very useful. But there is nothing in those papers that will tell you about our lives or what we are going through each day. That is not something you can ever grasp with your comprehensive data analysis.”

He decided that this was enough, got up from his chair and buttoned up his jacket.

“I think we have made our stand quite clear. Just one more thing before I leave,” Magnus said, before making a dramatic pause.

Lightwood huffed out a breath and sagged back into his chair.

And that is how Magnus knew he had him, once more.

“You mentioned that this project is an attempt to salvage your reputation after what happened in LA last year. I am deeply sorry about the incident. No one deserves to be discriminated for who they are.”

He remembers the social media scandal that took Blackthorn Co. by storm after one of their employees had been incredibly homophobic and disrespectful towards a gay couple that was staying at their hotel. Someone had videoed the whole thing and the social media backlash had been huge. The hotel occupancy rates dropped dramatically after the incident and it is no wonder that the Blackthorns were trying to branch out in an effort to protect their business.

“I might be wrong here,” Magnus continued, “But I have never seen Idris make any stand whatsoever on the discrimination faced by the LGBT community in New York. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen them participate in New York pride. Not even this year. Maybe I missed them...You know how crowded it gets. Isn’t that right, Raphael?”

Raphael understood Magnus’ game plan and gave him a satisfied smirk.

Magnus looked over at Helen and Mark now, both of whom were proud supporters of the LGBT movement in LA, “Edom, on the other hand, has been involved in LGBT activism not only in New York but internationally as well. We have a zero tolerance policy against homophobia and ensure that we give equal opportunities in employment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. I am sure that Idris does the same but…I haven't really heard of anything of that sort. What have you been doing for the community, Mr. Lightwood?”

The man in question had the grace to look embarrassed. But Magnus couldn’t help but notice that there was something more than embarrassment in his eyes - Something that looked like regret…or guilt even.

When the Lightwoods had no response to that, Raphael decided to seal the deal, “What’s more, the face of Edom, is that of a proud bisexual man. If you are looking for publicity and good press, well, you can’t get a better deal than this.”

Magnus knew that they had the deal in the bag when he had read the briefing package and noticed that this entire plan by the Blackthorns was a last attempt at salvaging their tarnished reputation in LA. He could have just sent all of these details via email and saved the unnecessary drama.

But the disappointed look on Alec Lightwood’s face right now....It was worth all the trouble.

“I have every faith that Blackthorn Co. would make the right call. Good day to you all,” he said as he left the room.

Another win for the Downworld.

Well, it wasn’t official yet. But the Blackthorns would be crazy to offer the contract to anyone other than Edom after that show.

They made their way to the parking lot, discussing possible ways of celebrating tonight. Raphael suggested a quiet night in and Magnus booed.

“It’s your father,” Raphael said looking at his phone now, “He probably wants to ask you about the contract. Why can’t he call you directly?”

“Because he knows I won’t pick up,” Magnus grinned cheekily.

“Boludo,” Raphael said rolling his eyes and walked away to pick up the call.

“Sir,” he heard Raphael speaking to this father as he walked away, “Uh, Magnus is…in the washroom, I think.”

Magnus thanked all the gods in heaven for sending him Raphael. Of course, he would talk to his father later. But right now, he didn’t want to deal with his insistent questions. Right now, he wanted a warm bath, a medium-rare steak and a martini.

He was about to get into the car when he heard the voice.

“Do you have no shame?”

He turned around and noticed Alec Lightwood walking towards him. Ugh, it seemed like he is going to need more than one martini to get through the evening.

“Don’t be such a sore loser, Lightwood,” Magnus said.

“I wouldn’t have lost the contract if you hadn’t exploited your sexuality!” he spat.

“I wouldn’t have had to exploit my sexuality if you hadn't decided to outsource employees for the project!” Magnus countered.

“I don’t have a choice. How am I supposed to source them otherwise? Most Downworlders don’t want to work for people from Angel Square!” Lightwood said in a frustrated tone.

“Gee, I wonder why,” Magnus said as sarcastically as possible.

“You shouldn’t have played the bi card!”

“And you shouldn’t have played the I-am-Your-Cousin Card!”  

“I am their cousin!”

“And I am bi!” Magnus said, his raised voice echoing through the parking lot, “You can hate me all you want for it.”

The other man laughed at that. “I don’t hate you because you are bisexual. I hate you because you are a fucking asshole.”

“Yeah well, the feeling is mutual,” Magnus shot back, crossing his arms defensively.

“This is going to be the last time you are winning another contract, Bane,” Lightwood said in a warning tone.

“You’ve been saying that for some time now. I am getting bored,” Magnus shrugged.

“We’ll see about that,” Lightwood replied, imitating Magnus’ stance.

“I don’t even know why you are pissed at me. You wouldn’t be in this position if your company wasn’t so fucking homophobic.”

He hadn’t mentioned that at the meeting, even Magnus wouldn’t stoop that low. But everyone knew that the Lightwoods hailed from one of the most prestigious and conservative backgrounds. They would never hire an LGBT person or let alone give back to the community despite all their wealth.

“How dare you? We are not homophobic!” the other man said defensively, although it sounded like he was trying to convince himself more.

“Sure, Lightwood. Keep telling yourself that. This project might mean something to the community, you know? We might actually be able to hire LGBT members from the Downworlder and offer them decent pay,” Magnus said as he opened the car door and got behind the wheel. He needed to pick up Raphael from wherever he was and had to get the fuck out of here.

“Keep your heterosexual hands away from the Blackthorn contract,” he warned the other man.

“I am not-” Lightwood uncharacteristically stammered.

Magnus gave him a look that suggested ‘what bullshit are you going to spew now?’ The other man realized he had no comeback and settled for his typical goodbye to Magnus.

“Fuck you!”

“No thanks. I’ll pass.”

As he sped out of the parking lot and picked up Raphael from the entrance, he realized that there was indeed one thing he hated more than the whole of Angel Square.

Alexander Lightwood.

Chapter Text

Eleven.

He had now lost eleven contracts to Edom Incorporated.

Well, to be precise, he lost them to Magnus Bane.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When his parents promised him that he would get to run Idris upon turning 28, he had expected everything to go smoothly. Of course, not everything. There were some things, he knew in his heart, which would never go smoothly at Idris for someone like him.

Alec was one of those people who always had a plan for everything. Unlike his siblings, he genuinely enjoyed following the rules. Izzy and Jace say that it made him boring, but he believed it made him smart and cautious.

So, of course, he had a plan for his future too.

He was supposed to graduate from Idris University with a first class degree in business management. Then, he would work under his parents for five years to learn the tricks of the trade. After this period of observing and learning, he would finally get to run Idris when he turned 28.

This was all Alec had ever wanted. He wanted to run Idris. He wanted to contribute to the Lightwood legacy. He wanted to fulfill his destiny as a Shadowhunter and restore Angel Square to its former glory. Most importantly, he wanted to make his parents proud.

And he would have. He certainly would have, if it wasn’t for one person.

When he started working for his parents, he had been naïve to think that it would be a piece of cake. The way his parents acted at home and at Idris was…Well, it wasn’t exactly different. Regardless of where they were and what they were doing, Robert and Maryse Lightwood had stern personalities that called for unquestionable obedience.

Alec was used to this at home. He actually didn’t mind it much considering that they were often away for work. The fact that all Lightwood children mostly grew up away from their home in a boarding school contributed to this disregard towards their parents' demeanour too.

However, at Idris, it was a different story. They were not just his parents, they were also his employers. Ideally, this should have made things easier, but it didn’t. He realized that he not only had to fulfill the expectations of an employee, but also that of the eldest son in the family.

But Alec would have managed it. Fuck, he almost did. Everything was going to work out great until…

Until he turned up the fuck out of nowhere.

A goddamn nobody who turned up in New York after god knows how long and fucked up his whole life.

Magnus Bane and his fucking silk shirts.

Honestly, who wears silk in New York in the summer?

He hates everything about the other man and his Elizabeth Bennett attitude. If Bane was just ambitious, that would have been fine. Alec understands ambition.

The world they were from…It was either hunt or be hunted. Alec luckily was born on the side of Shadowhunters and therefore, belong to the former category.

The Shadowhunters of Angel Square belonged to one of the most elite societies in the world. They had a rich ancestry and were spread throughout the world. They had influence and power that some people could only dream of.

And that was Magnus Bane’s problem. He wasn’t just ambitious, he was jealous.

He was jealous of Angel Square. He was jealous of Shadowhunters. He was jealous of Lightwoods. Most importantly, he was jealous of Alec.

So, fuck Magnus Bane.

He knows the history between Angel Square and the Downworld. While the riots may have been partially their fault, the fact that the Downworld was overflowing with crime cannot be ignored. Their disregard for the law only made it harder for Angel Square's development.

After the riots in the 80’s and the whole Valentine debacle – which was a topic that was still not openly discussed in any part of Angel Square – it had been a tough time for the Lightwoods. They had to work harder than ever before to restore their family name – especially since his parents had contributed to what had happened.

But it was all in the past. It was time for all of New York to move on. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible due to the Downworlders and their prejudice. Despite their own mistakes and contributions, they kept blaming their misfortunes on Shadowhunters.

Of course, he knew that he would have to deal with all of this when he takes over Idris. He was prepared for this. But what he wasn’t prepared for was that glittery jerk in silk shirts. Over the last four years he had been trying his best to defeat Magnus Bane. But regardless of his research and strategy, he couldn’t. The other man was always one step ahead of him.

Magnus Bane just somehow managed to charm his way through every single contract. 

Now Alec had gone and lost the Blackthorn contract to Edom as well. He had truly believed that he would win this time – especially since they were related to the Blackthorns. But Magnus fucking Bane had once again manipulated the discussions and sneaked his way into another contract that belong to Idris.

This man just materialized out of nowhere and had fucked up Alec’s plan – his future.

Of course, he would still be a part of Idris. But he worried whether his parents would trust him to run the company if he kept losing all the contracts to the Downworld. He will be turning 28 this year and he wasn’t sure what they had decided. He wouldn’t be too surprised if they let Jace takeover considering that his brother had more demand in Angel Square than he ever did.

He just needed one win. He needed one win before September, before his birthday. He needed to prove to his parents that he wasn’t a disappointment. He had to prove that he was competent enough to run Idris.

“Where is the fire alarm?”

He looked up at the voice and noticed his little brother standing next to the door, arms crossed and face bored.

Max had been spending the summer with them. It was supposed to be fun and Alec was excited to spend some time with his brother since Max was mostly away in boarding school. But Aec had been cooped up in his office every single day – even during the weekends – trying to find a solution for his current predicament that was terrorizing Angel Square in silk fucking shirts.

“Why do you need to know where the fire alarm is?” Alec asked, as his big brother instincts kicked in.

“Uh, just,” Max shrugged, “Isn’t it important to know this sort of things?”

“Max,” Alec said, cocking his head to one side.

“Ugh, fine,” his brother gave up, “I might have started a tiny fire back in boarding school.”

“Max!”

“It was an accident! I was experimenting with different types of chemicals to create bath bombs and it just happened,” Max explained.

Anyone else would have been shocked to hear something like this coming from their little brother, but not Alec. When you are the older brother to Jace and Izzy, you kind of get used to such things.

“Izzy said that if I am going to play with fire, then I should learn where the fire alarm is...to be on the safe side,” Max continued, “I am really bored and thought I should go explore. So, where is the fire alarm? Just in case, you know?”

Alec chuckled at that. There was no one at home, so they had to bring Max to work with them. This is the usual mandate for all Lightwood children during summer holidays. Of course, as a child, Alec had immensely enjoyed spending time at Idris. He would sit behind his father’s desk and write fake memos for his parents. He would play in his mother’s room with building blocks, creating tall towers that he promised he would build for her one day.

He hasn’t built a single fucking thing yet.

Thanks, Magnus Bane!

He couldn’t blame Max for being bored though. Much like Jace, this one was also not meant to sit behind a desk. He wanted Max to enjoy his summer vacation and it was evident that his brother wasn’t having a good time at Idris. He had originally wanted to go explore the Downworld but his parents had shut that idea down immediately. For once, Alec didn’t disagree with their parenting strategy.

Max, who was born way long after the riots, had no idea about dangers of the Downworld. He was too young and naïve to understand the complexities between the Downworld and Angel Square. The Downworld wasn’t safe for anyone. So, he didn't want Max to spend his vacation there.

So, Alec had made other arrangements.

“I actually wanted to talk to you about something,” Alec said as he motioned his brother to look at his laptop, “There is this outdoor camp for kids. It’s some sort of robot building thing. It’s in Soho. I thought you might like to spend the rest of the summer there. What do you think?”

Max, who was looking at the website curiously, turned and looked at him now, “You had me at outdoor.”

Alec made a quick call to his assistant and asked her to make the necessary arrangements.

“I mean, no offense,” Max said, “But Idris is really boring. You all look as if you haven’t slept in a month or like you are sleeping right now.”

“I understand,” Alec chuckled, trying not to think about the dark circles under his eyes, “You can leave for the camp during the weekend. I have made the arrangements.”

“Thanks, Alec,” his brother smiled, “Oh by the way, mom and dad wanted to see you. They said it’s urgent.”

“Max! Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Alec asked, as he leapt out of his chair.

“You distracted me with robots!” Max replied.

Alec speed walked out of his room and returned immediately when he reached the elevator.

“The fire alarm is next to the elevator – just in case,” he winked at Max and walked back.

As the elevator door opened, he noticed the new intern standing inside with a file in her hand and smile on her face. This girl was always too cheerful and therefore was not a great fit for Idris.

“Alec!” the redhead said jovially. Alec would have happily climbed the stairs – all twenty floors – if he wasn’t already late.

“Ms. Fairchild,” he said in return.

“Call me Clary,” the little girl said, still smiling. Doesn’t her mouth hurt from doing that all the time?

“I was actually coming to meet you,” she continued as he pressed the button for the top floor, “I need your signature.”

“I am late for a meeting. Give me that,” he said as he grabbed the file from her.

“Late? You?” Clary asked skeptically.

He was reading through the document when the elevator stopped at the 12th floor and a group of people walked in. Although he was focused on the document, he took a quick glance at the man in front of him.

Alec hasn’t seen him before at Idris, so probably a visitor here for a meeting or something. The man was wearing a black suit that clung to him perfectly in all the right places. His hair was styled with some fancy product and his broad shoulders looked amazing underneath that jacket. Alec couldn’t help but let his eyes travel further down and check out the his ass.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

He heard a quiet giggle and turned around to see Clary unsuccessfully trying to stifle her laughter. He started blushing furiously but still managed to give her a reprimanding look before turning his attention back to the document.

He had to be more careful – especially around Clary or others who were new to Idris. His parents or anyone he had known for a long time didn’t suspect anything. They always thought of him as a workaholic who didn’t have time for his personal life or assumed that he didn’t want to have a bit of fun on the side.

When in reality, it was far from the truth.

Yes, Alec was a workaholic – well, sort of. Whatever.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to have a bit of fun on the side, but that he couldn’t.

He could not.

Not if he wanted to run Idris. Not if he wanted to throw years of hard work and dedication down the drain. Not if he wanted to shame his family and his parents.

So, Alec didn’t.

He gave the file back to Clary and got out at the top floor. Although she was tiny, she was quite shrewd. So, he had to be extra careful around her. Of course, he could not look at all. God knows he tries not to.

But…he was really fucking gay.

He knocked on the door and entered his mother’s office. She was sitting behind her desk and his father was right opposite her and gestured at the seat beside him.

“You are late,” his mother said, as he sat down.

“I was on a call,” Alec replied, not wanting to get Max into trouble.

“I hope you have not been turning up to meetings with our clients with this tardy attitude, Alec!” she said.

“No. Of course not!” he said defensively. Alec Lightwood did not do late. Everyone – including their new intern – knew that.

“Then what the hell happened to the Blackthorn contract?” his mother asked now, although there was nothing motherly about the way she spoke to him.

He has been dreading this conversation ever since he got a text from Helen saying that the contract went to Edom. He had almost a week to prepare for this conversation as his parents were overseas when the whole thing got screwed over. But now, even after a week, he wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready to tell his parents that he let them down again.

“Mom, I am sorr-”

“We don’t want an apology, Alec. We want an explanation,” his father intervened.

His father, who was mostly quiet during discussions, looked at him with a tired face. He looked like one of those people Clary mentioned – the ones who haven’t slept in weeks.

“I thought everything was okay with this contract,” his father continued, “You said you had a plan.”

And he did! He had put together a comprehensive analysis of the Downworld to make sure that their lack of experience in the area would not be a problem.

And it wasn’t. He knew that the Blackthorns trusted him with the contract. Well, at least until Bane had fucked everything up by accusing them of being homophobic.

“I did,” Alec said, trying not to let the exasperation slip out, “It was…The Blackthorn project is a media stunt to recover from the LA backlash.”

“And?” his mother shrugged, “What does that have to do with Idris?”

“Edom implied that…We are…that they are better at handling the project because…we are not pro LGBT,” Alec finished. He really hoped they got his meaning because this was not a topic he wished to discuss with his parents.

This was the main reason he had been nervous all week. It wasn’t just because he had lost yet another contract. He was used to those talks – unfortunately. But discussing the Blackthorn contract meant he had to talk about…other things too.

“What?” his mom exclaimed, her eyebrows going up, “They accused us of being homophobic?”

“Well…”

“This is preposterous!” his father declared to no one in particular, “We are not homophobic. I am sure there are gay people at Idris.”

Oh, if only they knew.

From what he suspected, there were others at Idris too. After all, not everyone who lived in Angel Square was heterosexual – that would be statistically unlikely.

But every Shadowhunter who identified as queer was closeted at Idris. This wasn’t because of his parents or his family. This is just how things worked for those who lived in Angel Square.

Homosexuality was not illegal in the state of New York – but it was frowned upon among those who identified as Shadowhunters.

And by frowned upon, he meant that you would probably lose your job, get disinherited from your family and will be ostracized from your own community.

Angel Square, despite being massive, was technically like a small town. Everyone knew everyone. And Shadowhunters were such terrible gossips.  

So, it was no wonder that no one was out at Idris.

“Well, the point is that there is no one who identifies as LGBT here and that is a problem,” Alec tried to explain.

His parents looked at each other for a moment and communicated something silently. His mom released a deep breath and regarded him with a face of conviction.

“Let it go. The Blackthorns have no sense of gratitude or brotherhood. If they wish to coddle the Downworld then so be it. We don’t have to work with the likes of them.”

Alec tried to not to show the disappointment in his face. He liked the Blackthorns and would still like to work with them in the future if possible. They were…Well, other Shadowhunter families called them too modern but he’d like to think of them as brave. The Blackthorn children followed their dreams instead of just taking after their family business. They did not care about what others thought of them and did whatever they wanted anyway. Alec wished he could be more like them.

But unfortunately for him, he was not a Blackthorn. He was born a Lightwood and therefore he had more expectations to meet and fewer dreams to follow.

“There is something else,” his father added after a pause.

Of course there is. There is always something else when he is called all the way to the top floor. This wasn’t just about the Blackthorn contract.

“You are aware that this is the eleventh contract we have lost to the Downworld,” his father said with a careful tone. He might as well have said ‘you’ since everyone in the room knew it was Alec who had lost the contracts.

“I know. It is n-”

“Why do you think this keeps happening, Alec?” his mom intervened his explanation or whatever he was trying to make up at the moment.

Why indeed. Because…

I can’t do what I want. I will not be allowed to make the changes that are needed. I have to follow all the rules regardless of how stupid they are. I have to meet your unrealistic expectations. I have to keep cleaning up after everyone else. I…can’t be myself.

“Because of Magnus Bane,” he said instead.

“Alec, you are not in kindergarten anymore!” his mom got up from her chair, “Now I am not fond of that Bane boy, god knows no one in Angel Square is, but you cannot keep blaming him for your failures. Eleven contracts, Alec. Eleven!”

“Mom, I am trying my best!”

“Maybe your best isn't good enough!”

He said nothing and looked down at his hands - His fingers digging into his palm tightly.

“What your mother is saying is that,” his father said after noticing the tension in the room, “People are starting to notice, son. Our reputation in Angel Square is not what is used to be. We have to work harder every day to make sure the Clave is pleased with our progress.”

The Clave.

It was the formal governing body of Shadowhunters who lived in Angel Square or any other part of the world. They were responsible for ensuring that each city is run by Shadowhunters and therefore invested on all businesses run by Shadowhunters. Since all Shadowhunter organizations were founded, funded and owned by the Clave, each company had to pay taxes to the Clave and had to report on their income on a regular basis.

It was profitable on the whole, but working under the Clave was no joke. They were demanding and unforgiving. They would easily cut out anyone who wasn’t contributing towards the Shadowhunter welfare. After the riots in the 80’s, the Clave had to spend a lot to recover and therefore they were expecting all Shadowhunters in Angel Square to do their duty and contribute to the economy.

“I need you to trust me. I will ensure the future of Idris. I will do my duty as a Shadowhunter to the Clave,” Alec promised.

He will. He must.

His mother regarded him with a softer look now – as if she understood the pressure he carries on his shoulders every single day, “I do trust you, Alec. And I understand that none of this is easy. But if we don’t show the numbers…You know what the Clave might do to Idris.”

Of course he knew. They would simply give Idris to some other family. Just like that. Idris has been run by Lightwoods since the beginning. Alec would be damned if he let it go to someone else.

“The law is hard,” his father sighed.

“But it is the law,” Alec reminded him.

One contract. One fucking contract was all he needed – Well, at least for the time being before the Clave decides to take Idris away from them.

“I will come back to you with a plan as soon as possible,” Alec told his parents as he got up, “I won’t let you down again. I promise.”

Both his parents just nodded.

“By the way,” Alec said when he suddenly remembered, “I found a tech camp for Max. He is leaving on Saturday and will be away for the rest of summer.”

“Alec, no! I will miss him!” his mom said, her voice suddenly uncharacteristically emotional. Everyone knew Max was their parents’ favorite, so there was no need to pretend.

“He was supposed to stay with us!”

“Mom, he is bored out of his mind,” Alec told her, “He needs to get out and be with other kids - Not hang around a bunch of tired adults."

“Son, we were hoping he could learn a thing or two at Idris. He is a Shadowhunter too,” his father said.

“He is ten!” Alec said exasperatedly.

Right now, it didn’t feel like he was talking to Maryse and Robert Lightwood. He was just talking to mom and dad.

“Max is not just any Shadowhunter, Alec,” his mom said, “He is a Lightwood and so are you.”

“I know, mother. I’ll see you soon.”

He realized that his last name was the crux of most of his problems. Things were difficult for him, not just because he was a Shadowhunter, but because he was also a Lightwood. He belonged to one of the most ancient and well reputed families. So, he did not have the luxury of doing as he pleased.

As he returned back to his office, he kept thinking about the promise he made to his parents.

He needed a contract.

But first he needed a plan – One that would help him outsmart Magnus Bane.

God, he needed a fucking miracle in that case.

“Mr. Lightwood?”, his assistant came into his office after an hour or so. He looked up from the empty word doc he had been staring at for the last hour and asked her what she wanted.

“There is a Mr. Verlac waiting outside, sir. He says he would like to meet you.”

Chapter Text

Whoever came up with the concept of breakfast meetings needs to be shot – This was the only thought that was swimming around Magnus’s head since he woke up. Of course, he wouldn’t be in such a bad mood if he had gone to sleep at a decent hour last night. But he knew next to nothing about this Verlac person and his business, so it was important that he stayed up and did his homework before listening to whatever this newbie had to say to him.

But still, did it really have to be a breakfast meeting? Ugh.

The fact that this meeting was taking place in Angel Square did not help either. One, he had to go to Angel Square. That in itself was bad enough. But since he lived in Brooklyn, it meant that he had to travel longer and therefore was forced to wake up earlier.

Magnus was not a morning person – at least not on days such as this one.

Of course, he could have just said no and stayed at home. But this Sebastian Verlac seemed interesting enough for Magnus to pay a visit in person. Mr. Verlac, a Shadowhunter, was apparently born and raised in London.

Now, of course, as someone who worked for the Clave, he was bound to be a pompous asshole.

Magnus did not know much about these Clave people, but he knew enough to stay away from them. He knew that it was the Clave’s influence and bigoted thinking that led to the riots in the 80’s. What’s more, all Shadowhunters were governed by this overall body. An organization that led a group of narcissistic assholes had to be naturally narcissistic too, right?

Anyways, the point was that Mr. Verlac was not from Angel Square. Magnus has had the displeasure of meeting Shadowhunters from different parts of the world during his travels. They were all rich, aristocratic, intolerant assholes with a holier than thou attitude. But sometimes, very very rarely, he would come across a Shadowhunter who was an exception. His mind briefly traveled to a woman with red hair and kind eyes - a woman he used to know years ago. Magnus hoped that maybe this Sebastian fellow would not end up being another disappointment.

As he reached the building, he noticed that it was definitely one of the tallest and grandest in the area. Although the Verlacs were new to Angel Square, it seemed that they were quick to assert their dominance.

Typical.

“Welcome to Morning Star, sir!” the doorman greeted him.

Morning Star – Do all businesses run by Shadowhunters have such pretentious names? Good lord.

He checked his phone for notifications and quickly replied to a couple of texts as he went up the elevator. A tall woman, who he was pretty sure is from the Downworld, welcomed and escorted him to Verlac’s office.

“I am sorry but do I know you from somewhere?” Magnus queried.

“Of course, Mr. Bane,” the woman confirmed with a dashing smile, “I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you in person, but you may have seen me around at Pandemonium.”

If he wasn't at home or work, Magnus was often seen at Pandemonium - the Downworld club he personally owned.

“Oh. You are from the Downworld then?” Magnus continued, hoping he didn’t come across as rude.

“Born and raised,” she winked.

A Shadowhunter employing people from the Downworld – Well, he’ll be damned.

“I am Kaelie by the way,” the woman introduced herself, “And I know what you are thinking. Most Downworlders prefer not to work in Angel Square…Not after what happened.  But Mr. Verlac treats us well. He pays us as much as he pays those from Angel Square.”

“Right,” Magnus responded awkwardly not knowing what else to say and made his way to the office on his own.

Now he was definitely more than intrigued to meet this man. It wasn’t unheard of for Shadowhunters to employ Downworlders. But most from the Downworld did not want to work in Angel Square after the riots. So, obviously this man must be doing something right.

He was pulled back from his deductions of Mr. Verlac when he heard a cheerful and familiar voice shouting his name.

“Biscuit!” he beamed, when he noticed Clary in the waiting area.

To say that Clarissa Fairchild had a complicated past would be calling the shipwreck of titanic a minor boating accident. Although she was born in Angel Square, Clary was raised in the Downworld by her father Luke (who used to be Shadowhunter and then abandoned his ancestry for the Downworld for some secretive reason. Go figure!) after she lost her mom in the riots.

Magnus had been the one to look after little Clary whenever Luke was held up at the precinct. But Clary much to the chagrin of those in the Downworld had wanted to explore her birth roots and moved to Angel Square when she turned eighteen. Although most Downworlders considered this to be ‘treason’ – they could be a dramatic bunch sometimes – Magnus was happy for her. She was a smart girl and he knew that she would eventually come to her senses and return to the Downworld after realizing that Shadowhunters are nothing but pious pricks.

“What are you doing here?” Clary squealed, pulling him into a fierce hug. 

“Just a breakfast meeting. Although I don’t see why we couldn’t have it at Edom. At least there, we could have had cocktails instead of coffee,” he grumbled.

“Magnus, it’s nine in the morning!” Clary chastised.

“It’s happy hour somewhere, my dear,” Magnus winked, “Do you work for the mysterious Mr. Verlac too?”

“Oh, no,” Clary corrected, “I am just here with my boss. I am intern and was asked to accompany him for a meeting.”

As someone who grew up with Clary, he knew that she was more than qualified for the position of an intern. But he wouldn’t have expected anything else from Shadowhunters who had serious trust issues and turned their nose up at those who hailed from the Downworld.

“That’s nice,” Magnus lied anyway, “Who do you work for?”

“I work at Idris Incorporated,” Clary announced proudly not knowing any better, “Just started out recently and I am currently interning for Alec Lightwood. He is kind of a big deal there.”

“You mean a big-headed deal,” Magnus mumbled. It seemed like Clary was going to the return to the Downworld sooner than anticipated. It would be a miracle if anyone can survive Lightwood for more than a month.

“Magnus, I know you are not fond of…Shadowhunters,” Clary pointed out, fiddling with her bag.

“Biscuit, you know I would never hold that against you. We can’t help where we come from.”

And he meant what he said. Regardless of where she was from, he would always love Clary because she was a good person. He didn’t hate Shadowhunters because they were from Angel Square; He hated them because they were selfish douchebags.

“Alec is nice – Well, most of the time. I mean, he is nice to his siblings,” Clary shrugged.

“Well, you deserve better than nice,” Magnus noted as he kissed her on the cheek, “I’m gonna go in now. Don’t let Loserwood get you down!

He realized that he now had to put up with Lightwood’s bullshit this morning too. As if breakfast meetings were not tedious enough! He wondered why in the world Verlac would invite Lightwood and himself to the same meeting. Is he going to have to fight for this project too? Well, in that case, he was happy he did his research last night.

Once he opened the door, he noticed it led to another waiting area. Phew, this place was huge! He saw Lightwood, in a neat and well-fitted suit, seated on one of the couches, reading the newspaper.

What a pretentious prick.

“You are late,” Lightwood bragged as Magnus stepped in.

Do not choke him to death, Bane. Do not choke him to death.

“Actually, I am right on time,” Magnus replied, “Just because you don’t have a social life and came here early, doesn’t mean we must as well.”

“I have a social life!” Alec retorted indignantly.

“Staying up late at work doesn’t really count as a part of your social life, Lightwood,” Magnus countered. The other man didn’t have to know that he had been doing the same last night.

“Whatever,” Lightwood rolled his eyes and walked briskly to Sebastian’s room.

As Magnus followed, the man who greeted him at the other end was not what you would expect from a typical Shadowhunter. Mr. Verlac had platinum blonde hair and a fine taste in fashion. He was wearing a sharp three piece navy suit under which Magnus could spot an Alexander McQueen shirt.

Talk about making a good first impression!

Lightwood cleared his throat and Magnus remembered his manners, “Mr. Verlac, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Magnus Bane.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Bane,” the other man said with a dashing smile, “And please, call me Sebastian.”

“Only if you would call me Magnus,” he offered, “I know I have an impressive resume but I assure you, I am not that old.”

He could almost hear Lightwood rolling his eyes next to him as Sebastian laughed in response.

“I exchanged pleasantries with Alec over here during coffee. Is there anything I can get you?” Sebastian asked politely.

Fuck. They had already spoken. God knows what this asshole has implied before Magnus could speak for Edom himself.

“I am good. I’d like to get straight to business if that’s alright.”

“Of course,” Sebastian smiled.

Magnus found his smile to be unsettling but he brushed it away. He had not lost even one project to Idris in his career and he wasn’t going to start anytime soon. Whatever Lightwood had said to the other man needs to be immediately undone.

“As you know, I am not from around here. But I did do my research and I have only heard good things about both Idris and Edom. Morning Star is planning on building a number of schools in New York. We have been creating vocational training centers for school leavers in London and the project has been an immense success. It has reduced unemployment rates and we have also found that giving training to youngsters about choosing the right career indeed leads to better job selection and satisfaction.”

“May I just add,” Lightwood intervened, “This sounds like a wonderful initiative. I am glad that you decided to extend this project to New York. We have many underprivileged children who could benefit from schools of this nature.”

What an ass-kisser.

“Although,” Magnus smoothly interjected because there was no way in hell Lightwood was going to run this show, “these underprivileged children, as Mr. Lightwood kindly put it, come from underprivileged households. So, if you really want to improve their livelihoods, I would advise that you source all your resources locally.”

Sebastian nodded understandingly and retrieved two folders from his drawer.

“We do have an excellent team back in London. I mean, they are already experienced in handling our needs. But I think it would be best to give this project to a local company as you know the city and the people better than we do.”

"A wise decision," Magnus agreed as he went through the contract, but stopped on the first page itself because there was a typo.

One huge, gigantic typo.

“I am sorry, but the draft proposal mentions both Idris and Edom as the contractors,” Magnus noted, completely confused.

“Ah, yes,” Sebastian sighed, “Now, I am aware of the rivalry between the two organizations. While you have full independence over the project, my one condition is that you work on it together.”

“Together?” Magnus echoed.

What in the fresh fucking hell is this?

“Yes. Alec agrees that it’s a great idea!” Sebastian remarked.

“He what now?”

Okay, this had to be a mistake. Or worse, this was some sort of a plan. This was definitely a plan by the Shadowhunters of Angel Square – and London apparently – to destroy the Downworld once and for all.

“Mr. Verlac,” Magnus addressed once he composed himself, “I don’t think you understand the complexities that lie between our two companies. We have years of antagonism and-”

Sebastian interrupted him by standing up suddenly from his chair and pacing the floor in frustration.

“Magnus, I may not be from New York, but trust me when I say that I fully understand the consequences of the riots. What happened was unfortunate and I know that the Downworld still suffers from consequences. But I want to help.”

“Why? Why do you want to help the Downworld?”

“Because I can. Is that not reason enough?”

Magnus didn’t know how to respond. It would have been one thing to work with Sebastian and Morning Star. But involving Idris into the mix? This sounded like a recipe for a definite disaster.

“I know you employ Downworlders and I am aware that you want to help us. But this project…If you want Edom to work together with Idris…This is something I need to think about,” Magnus explained.

While he had the power to make a decision of this scale all by himself, it would be better to consult his closest advisors and of course, his father.

“I understand,” Sebastian nodded, “Please take all the time you need. I hope your response is a positive one.”

He picked up the draft proposal once more and bid farewell to Sebastian. It took him a minute to realize that they were not alone in the room. He looked at Lightwood and tried to read his impassive face.

“And you. Do you honestly believe this is a great idea?”

“I do,” was all he said in response.

Well, fuck this. He needed a drink – and Catarina.

“Well, I will get back to you gentlemen by the end of this week. Good day!” he wished and left the room to get the fuck out of there.

Once he got to his car, he looked for the flask of whiskey in the glove compartment but it wasn’t there. Goddamnit, Raphael!

He took a deep breath and decided to think about this rationally. He knew that working with Idris would definitely open Edom to more opportunities. Since Idris was one of the leading corporations in New York, being associated with a company of such range would increase the credibility of Edom – Especially among investors in Angel Square.

But he couldn’t just ignore the chasm between his family and the Lightwoods.

Magnus was too young to remember everything that had happened during the 80’s riots. But he was definitely old enough to understand the consequences the events had on his life.

It all started with a madman and his prejudice.

According to his father, Valentine Morgenstern had been one of the most influential businessmen in New York. He was apparently the epitome of charm and charisma, so much so that he had been elected Mayor of New York without opposition. Although he seemed to be a promising young man who would change the course of history for the better, it all changed when Valentine’s parents were murdered by a couple of Downworld burglars.

But instead of taking a page out of Bruce Wayne’s book and eliminating crime in the city, Valentine had decided to eliminate the entire Downworld.

Of course, the divisions between Angel Square and Downworld existed long before Valentine’s rampage, but he was told that it wasn’t as bad back then.

After losing both his parents, Valentine’s ideas and policies became more and more radical. He talked about cleaning the streets of ‘Downworld scum’ and preached about preserving the glory of Angel Square.

All in all, Magnus remembered New York being under Valentine’s dictatorship during his childhood.

However, the Downworlders as usual kept to themselves and protected their own. But most families were suffering from poverty, Magnus’ included, and were struggling with unemployment as Valentine had coerced Shadowhunters to not employ anyone from the Downworld.

The final nail to the coffin had been the creation of The Circle.

Valentine in his desperate attempt to turn all of Angel Square against the Downworld – which wasn’t really a hard task considering their inbred prejudice – had built a church called the Circle.

There were so many things that were problematic about the Circle.

The first was that it was solely built to preach Valentine’s policies and advocacy against the Downworld. Of course, the church was well-funded since Shadowhunters of Angel Square were not stingy when it came to their prejudice.

The second had been the surge of youngsters who had decided to follow the mad path of their esteemed peer. Valentine’s charisma had influenced multiple young Shadowhunters to join his mission in eliminating the Downworld ‘threat’ to New York. So, the support for the Circle began to grow from day to day until almost all youth from Angel Square were a part of this horrible cult.

The third and worst part of the Circle was the fact that the church itself, the one that hated on Downworlders and spoke for persecuting innocent people, was built on Downworld territory. It was an obvious power move by Valentine and there had been nothing the Downworlders could do at the time. The horrible part of this had been how Shadowhunters had recruited Downworlders to build the Circle. Each brick of that horrible institution was laid by a Downworlder.

As a child, Magnus couldn’t understand why anyone from the Downworld would have accepted such a horrible and demeaning job. But later in life he had come to realize that hunger was a more powerful motivation than hatred. He had learned that poverty was more threatening than pride. It was the same reason why some Downworlders continue to work in Angel Square today – for survival.

So, of course, most Downworld families had helped build the Church, including his own parents. Magnus still remembers playing outside the magnificent architecture with his little bricks and branches while his parents slaved away inside for their daily meals.

The Circle was supposed to be the crown jewel of New York. The money and effort that went into this project was insane – something that had never been seen before in the history of New York. Magnus remembered looking at the golden windows and ceiling paintings and wondering whether if this is what heaven would look like. He had been too young to realize that he had been staring right into the heart of hell.

On the day of the riots, when a small fight turned into a massive outrage, Downworlders had still been working inside the Circle. Innocent Downworlders had been inside when some Shadowhunters had decided to set fire to church.

To this day, Magnus could remember the screams, the shouts, the chanting - And worst of all, Valentine Morgenstern’s maniacal laughter as the cops took him away.

Of course, most Shadowhunters of Angel Square got arrested that day. They had to pay millions to get bail from what Magnus had been told. Their reputation in New York and everywhere else was tarnished due to their barbarity. Oh what a loss it had been for those from the city of angels.

But the real loss, the true suffering, had been to those from the Downworld – Something most Shadowhunters still failed to understand. Every single person from the Downworld had lost someone that day in that fire.

Magnus’ mom, Clary’s mother, Raphael’s siblings, Simon’s father - The list went on and on. Of course, they had all moved on. They had built their lives back from scratch. But the Downworld did not forget. They never forgot the riots and they never forgave the Shadowhunters for that night.

Among all these problematic issues, one thing that was kept in the dark and was barely spoken of was the involvement of the Lightwoods. At the time, Valentine had hired Lightwood PVT LTD to build the Circle. Robert and Maryse Lightwood, young and emerging entrepreneurs had been more than happy to assist. They had been the ones to recruit Downworlders so that they can reduce their costs of building. They had been pivotal in the creation of a structure that destroyed the Downworld.

The Lightwoods had built the church in which Magnus’ mother died, crying and screaming for help.

Of course, they got nothing but a slap on the wrist for their contribution because as history had taught Magnus – you can get away with your sins as long as you are rich and belonged to the majority.

The Clave had apparently taken over and rebranded the company as Idris Incorporated and all was well and good for the Lightwoods once more.

So, there was no way in hell that he would ever work with anyone from that god forsaken family.

He returned to reality when he heard a gentle tap on his windscreen.

“What the fuck do you want?” he barked at the other man.

“I was hoping to talk to you privately,” Lightwood informed him.

Lightwood really needed to stop turning up at parking lots and demanding things like the spoilt brat that he is.

“I have nothing to say to you,” Magnus fumed, “I am not doing this project with Idris.”

“I only need a minute,” Lightwood continued to stand his ground. “Please,” the other man added when Magnus made no attempt to get out of his car.

These fuckers from Angel Square were nothing if not stubborn. Magnus reluctantly got out of his car and positioned himself against the bonnet. He crossed his arms defiantly and nodded at the other man, urging him to say his piece and get his over with.

He noticed that Lightwood was giving him a once over, checking out his clothes and his…face? Of course, Magnus had put in extra effort today since he wanted to make a good impression on Verlac. He was wearing a silk cobalt blue shirt with gold threading (he had left a couple of buttons open for good measure) and a black velvet jacket - and of course, his usual leather pants. He had gone for a peacock makeup with a mixture of green eyeshadow and blue eyeliner.

Naturally, he knew that someone from Angel Square would not be used to seeing a man sporting such a look but Lightwood was staring at him without any shame at all.

Christ, these Shadowhunters are judgmental!

“Well, are you going to talk or are you going to judge all day?” Magnus snapped.

The other man quickly averted his eyes from Magnus’s open shirt and let out a deep sigh.

“Listen. I know you think this is a bad idea. I know that you are not fond of Shadowhunters or Angel Square for that matter. But I really think you should give this a chance.”

“Oh really?” Magnus sneered, “And why should I do that?”

“For the greater good?” Alec urged and Magnus swore loudly.

“Jesus Christ, Lightwood! Are you even aware that those were the exact words Valentine said before building the Circle? He said that he was building the church for the greater good.”

“I didn’t know that,” Lightwood confessed, at least having the decency to look embarrassed.

“Of course, you don’t,” Magnus rolled his eyes.

After the riots, most Shadowhunter children were sent overseas or to another state for their studies. It had been nothing but a frantic attempt to hide the truth and erase the tragedy of the Circle from history all together.

“I think this collaboration can help the Downworld and you should stop acting like you don’t need all the help you can get,” Lightwood admonished.

“Oh,” Magnus replied, barely being able to hold back his anger, “So, this is a pity partnership is it?”

“Why? Why do you keep doing this?” Alec growled in frustration, “Why do you hate me just because I am privileged?”

“Privileged?” Magnus scoffed.

He couldn’t believe this prick’s nerve.

“Decent housing and secure employment are not privileges, Mr. Lightwood. They are basic human rights! That is what the Downworld is fighting for. Basic fucking rights.”

He could no longer listen to what this man had to say. It was obviously going to be more bullshit from the ‘privileged’. So, Magnus turned around and opened the car door, hoping to avoid the Lightwoods forever.

“Then help me get them,” Lightwood appealed, “Help me get the Downworld basic human rights. Do this project with me.”

Magnus closed the car door and regarded the other man with a skeptical look. What was he playing at now?

“Let’s do this project for Sebastian – together. We will hire people from the Downworld. The school is going to be built in the Downworld! As you always like to point out, no one knows that Downworld better than Edom. So, get involved! Do it for your people. Give them a chance.”

Magnus thought about the young lives that still suffered from poverty and unemployment in the Downworld. He thought about all the teenagers who gave up their dream of a higher education to work so that their younger siblings can eat. He thought about his own self and wondered where he would be today if his father hadn’t been given a chance all those years go.

“What about you?” Magnus asked, “What do you get out of it?”

“I want to-”

“Do not tell me you are doing this out of the goodness of your heart, Lightwood! I am not a fool.”

The other man looked at him squarely and took a deep breath. He seemed to be doing it every now and then before speaking his mind, which made Magnus wonder how much this man was holding in.

“My brother – He is ten. He doesn’t understand the hatred between the Downworld and Angel Square. He thinks everyone here is treated equally because he doesn’t live here.  He lives in a fantasy land. I don’t want his world to be a fantasy. I want him to grow up in a better world than I did. The only way to do that is to build bridges and not walls. So, help me. You are one of the best builders in the state of New York. Help me build a bridge.”

Magnus looked at him then. He properly looked at the other man – His tired face, his earnest eyes and his trembling hands.

Can he trust a Shadowhunter? Can he trust a Lightwood? Can he trust the man standing before him?

“Like I said - I need a week,” Magnus replied, got into his car and drove off without another word.

Chapter Text

His siblings were seriously the worst.

Alec never really understood how it was possible for children who grew up in the same house to be so distinctly different from each other.

It didn’t really make sense. They were born to the same people (except for Jace), they were raised by the same parents (they were technically raised by their nanny but that was not the point), they went to the same school (does a extremely religious torture den count as a school?) and spent most of their time with each other (except for Izzy who had more friends and fans than the mayor of New York).

Yet, despite spending most of their life together, Alec has never really seen a more diverse group of misfits.

Actually, come to think of it, there was only one misfit in the group – him.

Jace and Izzy more or else shared the same personality – They were both extremely beautiful people who were extremely aware about their good looks. They were confident, charismatic, charming and a lot of other impressive adjectives.

On the other hand, Alec was…

Well, it is too early for this shit.

Although his siblings were many things, they were not punctual. They were supposed to meet up with him half hour ago in order to meet the representatives from Edom.

He still couldn’t believe that Magnus Bane had agreed to do the Morning Star project with him. He didn’t really know what had persuaded the other man to give in, but he was eternally grateful for whatever or whoever that was.

After his conversation with the other man at the parking lot – why do they keep meeting up at parking lots like shady drug dealers by the way? - He had been certain that this deal was going to fall through. He had been absolutely sure that Bane was going to screw him over without even trying this time.

But then, he had got the call from Sebastian saying that Edom was in. Apparently, they were grateful for the opportunity and were happy to help out any project that benefited the Downworld.

The whole thing sounded quite fishy, but Alec unfortunately did not have the luxury of being skeptical right now.

So, here he was – waiting for his siblings so that they could all go and meet with Edom to get this show on the road.

If someone had told him a couple of weeks ago that he would be working with Edom, he would laughed in their face. If someone had told him a couple of weeks ago that he would be working together with Magnus Bane, he would asked them if they were feeling okay or if they would like to see a doctor.

Because that is how ludicrous the idea sounded – completely and utterly ludicrous.

But everything changed for Idris and Alec as a result, when they got an email from the Clave a couple of weeks ago.

As they were reaching the 20th memorial year of the ’89 riots, the Clave had decided to show a sudden concern on all parties that were involved in the riots. Of course, this included all of Angel Square to be honest – but some had been more involved than others.

The Lightwoods were on top of this priority list since it was their company that had built the Circle at the time. It was his parents who had designed the church, laid the foundation and built one of the most iconic architectural gems of New York. Of course, it had all burned down in the end – including the Lightwood reputation.

While his parents might be at fault for building the Circle, he couldn’t really see how they were more responsible than any other family that lived in Angel Square. They had all been seduced by Valentine’s charm and charisma – which technically made all of them, especially Valentine, responsible for the repercussions.

However, he had come to learn that the Clave doesn’t really have any fucks to give about technicalities.

So, after investing in all Shadowhunter families during the last twenty years, the Clave was suddenly interested in progress. Hence, the sudden audit that came the fuck out of nowhere. Of course, the Clave had been a bunch of money-minded morons, but the new email informed them that they would be liquidating all organizations that were no longer making progress.

Now, Idris Incorporated, was one of the largest construction companies in New York. They did work on multiple projects over the last two decades and they have built some impressive buildings all over the city. But were they making progress? Not really.

The thing about Idris was that it was funded by old money. They had the backup of the Clave and their family inheritance. This is one of the reasons why Edom fought harder than them. Unlike Idris, Edom did not have financial assurance or family wealth. They were dependent on their profits to pay their employees and run their company. This was the reason why Bane was highly motivated to win every singly project and he did. This was probably why Edom agreed to work with Angel Square despite their pride.

It seemed like anyone can be bought with money these days.

Idris or the Lightwoods never really had to worry about money – until now.

Until they received an email from the Clave stating that their funding will be withdrawn if immediate progress isn’t made by the end of the year.

It was impossible to make such progress in such a short time - But the Clave would say some bullshit like 'The law is hard' in response. 

Of course, Idris was not going to go bankrupt immediately if they withdraw the funding. The Lightwoods were one of the richest families in Angel Square and would survive without Clave funding – but not for long.

They could push it for a year or two and Idris Incorporated would go bankrupt without the support of the Clave – especially if Edom kept winning every single contract in New York.

This meant that there would be no company for Alec to run by the time he turns 28. This meant that he would never really be the CEO of Idris Incorporated. This meant that everything he had worked for his entire life would be in vain.

There was no way in hell he was going to let that happen.

It was his destiny to run Idris and he wasn’t going to let the Clave or Edom fuck him over.

So, he had been desperately looking for something, anything really, to save Idris. He needed that one project that would calm the Clave down and assure them that Idris wasn’t completely hopeless.

He was nearly out of ideas – and hope – when he heard from Sebastian Verlac, an actual angel sent from London to save his ass.

The Morning Star project was just what they needed – It was high profile, international and lucrative. It would not only enhance their profits but would also give them good media rep. The best part about this deal was the fact that Sebastian had connections in the Clave. So, Alec was certain that if they worked things out, Idris would be out of danger.

But of course, there had to be a catch – There was always a catch when your name is Alec Lightwood.

You can do archery, Alec – but you will have to play football as well.

You can go to an Ivy League university, Alec – but you have to major in business administration.

You can run Idris one day, Alec – but you will have to follow our rules.

You can get married, Alec – but you will have to marry a woman.

You can save your future, Alec – but you will have to work with Magnus Bane.

Life was really fucking unfair sometimes.

His parents had been absolutely horrified by the idea of working with the Downworld, but had relented – after a long fucking while – when Alec promised them that Idris would have the upper hand the whole time.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” his father had confessed, “But I trust you. If you think this is best for Idris, then I trust your judgment.”

His mother had scoffed at his ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ explanation and had told him – again for a long fucking while – about the dangers of working with Downworlders.

“Never let your guard down,” she had warned him, “And most importantly – Do no trust that boy. I have heard all sorts of things about him. He might…tell you things. He might try and change your views. Do not trust him.”

“You don’t have to worry, mom,” Alec had reassured her, “I would never trust Magnus Bane.”

So, yeah.

He had gone for that meeting with Sebastian and Bane last week. He had accepted his fate that there was no choice now but to work with Edom in order to save Idris.

Alec knew that good things come with a price – but spending the next year with Magnus Bane sounded like too much of a price to pay.

And yet, he had gone. He had fucking begged. He had begged the other man to do the project with him because Magnus Bane was a cruel, selfish asshole who only cared about his people and himself.

When it seemed like the other man wouldn’t budge, he had brought in Max as a last resort. Of course he wanted Max to have a happy and safe future. He wanted his brother to grow up in a better world. But he wondered if that world would ever be better if it had people like Magnus Bane in it.

He had hoped that Bane would fall for his earnest speech despite being the heartless monster that he is.

Alec didn’t know whether his begging helped or not, but Edom had agreed to work together and now all was well.

It wasn’t until the contract was signed and finalized did Alec realize that the hardest part of this whole thing wasn’t convincing the other man to work with him, but actually having to work with him for the next year or so.

Since their timeline was pretty tight, they had to move things along quickly. So, as soon as they got the green light from Edom, Alec had set up a meeting with Edom to discuss the next steps. He had to pick  neutral location since Edom was too proud to come to Angel Square.

So, here he was waiting for his siblings so that they could finally go for the damn thing and get it over with.

He was about just about to call Jace and give him shit for being late - again - when his office door burst open and the man in question walked in.

“I am just saying that the whole movie was a fucking disaster,” Izzy rambled, following closely behind their brother.

“I agree. I wouldn’t have even watched it if not for our Queen B,” Jace replied, chewing on a bagel that seemed oddly familiar.

“I hope we can get tickets for her next concert, Jace. I don’t want to disappoint my queen. Maybe we could take Clary with us!” his sister winked.

“This is why you are my favorite sibling, Iz. I bet Clary would look stunning when she dances. You have the best ideas,” Jace gushed, as he swallowed the last piece of his bagel.

Alright, that’s enough. They had a meeting to join and assholes to meet.

“If you two are done with this little chat, I’d like to remind Izzy that Beyoncé doesn’t know who you are and Jace – Please read the Idris sexual harassment policy for fuck’s sake.” 

Both of his siblings suddenly realized his presence and rolled their eyes in unison, which was a very Lightwood thing to do.

“Hey, It’s not harassment if she is into me too,” Jace shrugged.

“If she is into you, then I am worried about her decision making skills,” Alec sassed.

“Hey! Not cool. Izzy, tell him he is being an asshole,” Jace whined.

“I am sorry, I am still stunned that Alec knows who Beyoncé is,” Izzy marveled.

“I live in New York. I don’t have a choice,” Alec sighed, “We need to move now. I don’t want to be late.”

"Oh, come on! It's not-"

"You two might not give a shit about-"

"The rules. Yes, we know. Christ, you and your rules!"

As Jace made an impression of him by chanting 'rules', Alec picked up his briefcase and walked to the door when it suddenly hit him. “Jace, that bagel you were eating…Was it the one on Raj’s desk?”

“Yep. I stole it before anyone else can,” Jace boasted proudly.

“That bagel has been there since Monday!!” Alec reminded his brother, completely horrified.

“Five day rule, bro,” his brother shrugged. 

“Five second rule, Jace! It’s five second rule!”

“Boys, enough. Shall we? I have asked Clary to join us at the reception,” Izzy informed and walked out.

Great. The annoying redhead was joining them. Just when he thought this meeting couldn’t get any more painful.

His siblings were seriously the worst.

“It will be good for her,” Jace explained as they made their way towards Alec's car, “She is capable of much more than making copies. Also she was raised in the Downworld. So, she understands how those people think. She will be a real asset to-”

“What are you, her spokesman now?” Alec snapped.

His brother really needed to stop thinking with his dick and start thinking with this head.

“Alec, it’s not l-”

“Jace, do you really want to get late for this meeting? A meeting with Bane?” Alec asked exasperatedly.

“No.”

“Good. Then stop talking. We can discuss your latest romantic pursuit later.”

He heard Jace mumble something like “she is different” but kept walking any way. Jace might not care about the future of Idris – Well, he didn’t have to. Even if Idris falls, Jace was loaded enough to build his own company from scratch. He was Shadowhunter royalty after all.

When they got to the parking lot, they found that the redhead had already left as she wanted to say ‘hello’ to her friends before the meeting. As he got behind the wheel and took off, Alec wondered whether it was a good idea to include the Fairchild girl in this project. He felt like there were too many Downworlders around him and he didn’t want to be outnumbered. He had to stay in control.

“I think you should get on Grindr,” Izzy stated out of the blue.

Jesus fucking Christ.

“No thanks,” Alec responded, “Grindr is for reckless and desperate morons.”

“Ah-ha!” Izzy exclaimed triumphantly, “I told you he knows what Grindr is!”

He wasn’t really surprised that his siblings were plotting behind his back – he was used to it by now. Isabelle was born to be a meddler and Jace...Well, he preferred to go around and fix everyone else’s problems instead of focusing on his own.

Alec used to think that he could never have this - talk to his siblings about…himself. He used to think that they would be appalled or disgusted by who he was or what he wanted. This is why he had planned never to come out to his siblings. He had planned to keep his sexuality a secret – a dirty little secret.

But he had underestimated how nosy Lightwoods can get. So, he didn’t really come out to his siblings, he didn’t have to.

Izzy had figured him out all on her own because she was sharp, attentive and the most observant out of them all. The fact that Alec had the habit of checking out the asses of random guys at boarding school might have also helped her hypothesis.

Jace on the other hand figured things out because he was an interfering bastard who had no respect for other people’s privacy.

Alec had come into their room in the boarding school one evening after archery practice to find Jace pacing across the room. He had been looking for clean underwear in Alec’s drawers (don’t even ask) and had found some of Alec’s...personal magazines.

“Alec! Your roommate has gay porn!”

“Alec, I’m your roommate!”

“Alec, you have gay porn!”

“Alec, you are gay!”

He had quietly watched his brother have a crisis on his own and had let out a disappointed sigh when Jace had hurriedly walked out of their room.

Of course Jace would run away. He didn’t know why he had hoped for anything else other than repulsion.

He hadn’t moved from the bed when Jace got back and dropped a magazine on his lap. This one had looked more...interesting.

“You can’t read that cheap shit, Alec. The dude at the shop said that this is the real deal,” Jace vouched excitedly.

“So, you are okay with…this?” Alec had asked waving his latest gay porn in Jace's face, not being able to keep the disbelief from his voice.

“Porn? Hell yeah!”

“No. I meant me being…”

“Gay? Why wouldn’t I be?” Jace had asked, genuinely perplexed.

He remembered throwing himself at Jace and hugging his brother with all that he had. Of course, he had asked his siblings to be discreet since he didn’t want his parents or literally anyone else to know. While his siblings respected his decision, they did not stop encouraging him to come out and continued to try and set him up with literally every gay man in New York.

“Of course he knows what Grindr is,” Jace chided from the passenger seat, “Even I know what Grindr is.”

“Alec, I really like this one!” Izzy squealed and shoved the phone in front of his face. He only saw a well sculpted torso before he shoved the phone away.

“Christ, Izzy! I am driving!”

Jace grabbed the phone from her and went through the pictures, “He is super in shape. Can you ask him what his workout routine is?”

He loved his brother with all his heart but Jace can be such a heterosexual sometimes.

“Izzy, why the hell do you have Grindr?” Alec questioned even though he already knew the answer.

“Well, someone has to! It’s not like you are going to walk into one of these boring meetings and find the love of your life.”

Alec wanted to tell her that he was never going to find him – that it wasn’t in the cards for him.

Despite knowing this truth, he had indeed tried using Grindr, which is how he knows about the app. He had learned about it from the internet and had wanted to try it out. Of course, he wasn’t going to use it to…meet someone or whatever. But if this is all he could get as a gay man, he wanted to try it. He wanted to experience as much as he could.

The first time, he had downloaded the app and figured out the semantics. All the shirtless pictures and incomprehensible labels had been too much for him. He had quickly deleted the app without another thought.

Until one random night, when he was feeling lonely – which was a common occurrence for him - he was tempted to try it out again. This time he had been bold enough to create his own profile under the fake name ‘Archer Boy’. He had even taken a few pictures of his torso and biceps to upload on the profile. But then he immediately deleted it when he realized that someone could maybe recognize him – Even though sadly no one knew his body intimately enough to recognize it through a picture.

The third time he had actually spoken to a man and made plans to meet up. He knew that it could lead to a load of trouble and might possibly end his life if someone sees him. But the other man had understood and had offered to meet in a ‘discreet location’.

He had been terrified as hell. But he liked the other man enough to put his fears aside. They had talked about history and politics and literature - things Alec was passionate about. Being gay didn't seem like a burden at the time. So, when the other man had suggested to meet up in person, Alec hadn’t been able to think of anything other than ‘YES!’.

But despite the fear, for the first time in his life, he remembered being excited for something. He remembered looking forward to something…for himself. He was no longer a participant, watching and living vicariously through his siblings as they dated as they pleased. It was his turn.

He was so excited that he had to Google ‘how to dress gay’ in order to impress the other man. He had been slightly terrified of the pictures that had come up and had settled for a regular black shirt, jeans and his leather jacket. He actually remembered combing his hair that night.

He remembered the adrenaline running through his body when he got dressed to meet this stranger. But all the blood had drained from his face when he walked out of his room to see his parents in the dining hall.

“You look nice,” his mother had approved amusedly, “Going somewhere special?”

“Uh….”

“Tell us, son! Who is the lucky girl and when can we meet her?”

He had lied to them saying that he was going for drinks with friends – thank god they hadn’t ask which friends because Alec really didn’t hang out with anyone other his siblings. In the end, he didn’t get to meet the mystery man. He had deleted the app once more and spent the night in his car like the loser that he was.

Alec has installed and deleted Grindr more times than Izzy had burnt their breakfast – which was a lot of times.

Each time he deleted it after realizing that it wasn’t for him, he would promise himself that he would never install it again. And yet, each time, especially at nights when he was alone with his thoughts, he would install it.

He never really met anyone or talked to anyone on Grindr again. He didn’t want to give false hope to anyone else - especially to himself.

Grindr was not for him.

“We have an important mee-”

“We always have an important meeting, Alec! But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life!”

Easy for Jace to say - He couldn't be gay even if he tried.

But Alec's situation was not just because of his sexuality.

His siblings never really understood why he had to work harder than everyone else. Being the eldest child of the Lightwood family was not easy.

They never realized that Idris was it for him. It was his future and his destiny. It sometimes really frustrated him that they couldn’t understand this.

But at the same time, he was happy that they didn’t. It wasn’t easy to carry around the responsibilities of his family and the company. Yeah, it sucked that his siblings were able to ‘enjoy life’ more than he did, but he was glad that they didn’t go to sleep every night with the same pressure on their shoulders.

“I need to take care of Idris,” Alec declared in a final tone .

“You are so obsessed with it, I feel like you will name your first child Idris,” Izzy teased.

He wanted to tell her that kids were not in the cards for him either.

Jace tossed Isabelle’s phone back to her. “Fuck Grindr. You need to get out more. Spread your legs.”

“Isn’t the phrase ‘spread your wings’?”

“Don’t be absurd, Alec. You don’t have wings.”

He pulled into the space they had hired for the afternoon - an unnecessary expense if you ask him. But Bane was adamant in his email that the meetings cannot be held at Idris under any circumstance. Alec was someone who was usually wary of new spaces – because with new spaces, you get new people and with new people, you get anxiety.

But he didn’t really have a choice in the matter and accepted that this is yet another small price to pay to save Idris. He wondered what else he would have to do by the end of this project to save his company.

“I think you both need to focus a little more on saving our company and a little less on my sex life,” he advised as he removed his seatbelt.

“What sex life?” both his siblings retorted in unison.

His siblings were seriously the worst.

He did not dignify that with a response other than an eye roll. He moved to the meeting space, hoping his siblings would follow suit without a delay this time.

As he walked into the room, he could see that Edom representatives were already there. Damnit!

“And he told me that six minutes is a long time,” he heard an annoyingly familiar voice, which was followed by hooting and laughter from the group.

He cleared his throat and the smile on the other man’s face completely disappeared. A look of annoyance and judgment settled instead. They all took their seats as his siblings found their way in.

“Lightwood, you are late!” Bane noted, a bit too happily.

“Traffic was hell,” Alec shrugged.

“You must have taken a different route then. Clary here arrived early,” Bane pointed at their intern, who blushed scarlet.

“Well, obviously I have more responsibilities than an intern,” Alec rolled his eyes.

He heard his nemesis grumble something quietly to himself, something that sounded like 'glassmole'. He quickly scanned the room to identify the people in front of him.

There was Bane seated right across him of course. He was wearing a purple silk shirt, which had silver sequins on the seams and, with an unnecessary deep neckline - who was he trying to seduce at this meeting anyway?

Then there was Santiago, whose first name he didn’t remember. The man had a grumpy look on his face and was typing something seriously into his phone.

Next to him was a woman, with beautiful dark skin and a kind face. She smiled at him fondly, as if she didn’t know - or didn’t care rather - that he was from Angel Square.

And then there was a boy, wearing clothes that were way too casual for a business meeting. His t-shirt had a weird black helmet thing under which ‘Luke’s Daddy’ was written in a large font. He noticed that the boy was gaping…at Isabelle.

Great.

“I guess introductions are in order,” the woman announced and each person introduced themselves with their name and designation. Alec never really liked introductions – they were unnecessary and awkward as hell.

“Good. Now we can get to the actual discussion,” Alec prompted.

They went over all the items in the agenda without any issue. The meeting went surprisingly well with only a few sarcastic comments – which either came from Jace or Bane.

This is good. He hoped that maybe the whole project would work out this way.

“We do have one concern,” Bane mentioned.

Of fucking course.

Alec should have known better than to hope for a conflict-free meeting with Edom.

“The architect you have suggested for the project is from Angel Square,” Santiago stated.

“What is your point?” Jace provoked.

“We are…uh…not very comfortable with allowing…a Shadowhunter design a project of this scale,” Simon elaborated in a quiet tone.

“In other words, we don’t trust him,” Bane stated bluntly.

“You don’t even know him!” Alec growled in frustration.

“We know he is from Angel Square. Isn’t that enough?” Raphael snapped.

Alec wanted to call them out on their prejudice and hypocrisy. But he couldn’t. He cannot afford to lose his cool – not when the future of Idris depends on this project.

“What these gentlemen are trying to convey is,” the woman who introduced herself as Catarina intervened, “The last time a Shadowhunter designed something for the Downworld again, it didn’t really go well. We are still cleaning up after the Circle. So, our people might be a bit skeptical about this whole project - Especially since, uh, Lightwoods are involved. This would make it more difficult to hire Downworlders for the job.”

Ugh this again. Did they really have to keep using the Circle as an excuse to get away with everything? Are they implying that his family was responsible for the riots? Could they not play the victim card for two fucking seconds?

“Underhill is one of the most famous architects in New York. He went to Stanford. He worked for Alicante for god’s sake! He was the one who designed all our latest institutes,” Alec challenged defensively, “The Downworld should be lucky to have him.”

“Yes, we are so lucky to add another entitled Shadowhunter into this mix. Very lucky indeed,” Bane quipped sarcastically.

“We understand your skepticism and concern,” Izzy interjected, “But Underhill’s designs are truly extraordinary. He has specialized in creating secure and safe constructions and therefore you do not have to worry about anything at all.”

“Thank you for your concern," Bane noted, “But I am afraid that is not enough to convince our people to work on this project, darling.”

Darling? What the fuck?

“How about we hire an architect from the Downworld too? They can collaborate and design it together. Two heads is better than one, right?” the boy in the glasses suggested.

Wonderful, more Downworlders.

“That is a fantastic idea, Simon!” Izzy beamed, “I have been reading good things about Mr. Rey from the Downworld. His focus on creating eco-friendly buildings is admirable. Maybe we could hire him to work with Underhill?”

The Downworlders quietly whispered among themselves for a minute. Alec silently prayed to all the angels that they have come to a favorable decision.

“Lorenzo can be an arrogant asshole sometimes…But he is good,” Bane admitted reluctantly, “I will talk to him tomorrow.”

After discussing the finer details of human resources for an additional half hour, they decided to end the meeting.

Finally. Thank the angel.

“Thank you. It was great to meet you all,” Alec said, trying his best not to be sarcastic.

“Mr. Lightwood,” the redhead spoke up hesitantly, “We still need to confirm who is going for the site visit this weekend.”

Ah fuck. He had almost forgotten about the god forsaken site visit. Apparently, Morning Star is working on a similar project in Indiana and Sebastian had advised both companies to visit the site.

“Of course,” Catarina nodded, “Magnus will be representing Edom. I hope whoever is coming from your end can sort out the logistics with him.”

Oh for the love of…

There was no way in hell that he was going to send Jace with Bane since he knew that one of them would definitely return as a dead body.

He didn’t trust Bane enough to send Isabelle alone with him and Clary…Well, she was just an intern and also a Downworlder – sort of.

Unfortunately that left him with only one option.

Logically, Alec knows that this visit is important as it be useful for them to gather more information about the nature of the project and will probably help them conduct their own SWOT analysis.

But a part of him knew it wouldn't be a great idea to spend the entire weekend with Maddening Bane. Hell, he could barely survive this meeting and it didn’t even last more than a couple of hours.

Good things come with a price. Right. Gotta soldier on, Lightwood!

“I will be representing Idris,” Alec informed reluctantly.

“Well, fuck!” Bane swore.

“Excuse me?”

“He said ‘Good Luck!’” Catarina smiled and left the room, rest of the Downworlders at her heel.

Bane got up from his chair and Alec noticed that he was wearing leather pants again. It actually looked like they had been painted on him since the material fit his form perfectly. He wondered how difficult it must be to remove those pants.

“Alec, stop staring!” Isabelle whispered when she noticed Bane walking towards them.

“I know this is totally unprofessional. But darling, that dress you are wearing is just gorgeous. And those heels! Prada is definitely your style. Have you seen their summer collection?”

Okay, this ‘darling’ businesses needed to stop immediately. Izzy and the other man started chatting animatedly while Jace was saying something to their intern.

Izzy and Jace have always been good at...talking to people – another thing he could never understand.

If it wasn’t considered as socially weird, he would actually give people money to stop talking to him – that is how much he hated talking to strangers or anyone who wasn’t family. Fine, he wasn’t really keen on talking to some members of his family either but that was beside the point. Bottom line, he would love it if people could just talk less and mind their own business.

Needless to say, small talk was one of Alec’s biggest pet peeves. No, it was his biggest pet peeve.

Bane made a joke about something fashion related – Alec didn’t really know or understand. Whenever someone started talking about fashion, he would instantly become one of the lost boys from Neverland.

His sister laughed loudly in response and touched the other man’s arm.

Alright. Time out!

“Izzy, why don’t you go wait in the car? I’ll quickly discuss the logistics of the site visit and see you downstairs.”

“Of course," his sister grinned, "It was great to meet you, Magnus!”

“You too, Isabelle,” the other man smiled - it was a weird thing to see. Alec noticed that his eyes looked different when he smiled. “There is hope for the Lightwoods after all.”

First of all, what the hell was happening? Second all, when did they get to first name basis?

Isabelle called on the other girl as she left the room. The intern said goodbye to the man in front of him, gave him a quick peck on the cheek and hurried after his sister.

First his sister and now the intern. Good god!

“You,” Jace snarled, “What are your intentions with Clary?”

Oh god, no. Please, not now. Jace really didn't understand that there was a time and place to play the knight in shining armour.

“Excuse me?”

“What do you want from Clary? And don’t think I didn’t see you flirting with my sister too!” Jace growled.

The other man actually laughed out loud in response, “Herondale, please. You are embarrassing yourself. Clary is like a little sister to me and Isabelle might as well be. I have more in common with her than her actual brothers.”

“You shut-”

“Unlike you, I did not come here to flirt with ‘the intern’,” the other man continued, his voice sterner than usual,  “You would do well to remember that Clary is one of the best designers I have seen in the tri-state area. She is more than an intern and more than a plaything. So, if I hear that you took advantage of her…Well, I am sure you Shadowhunters have heard enough rumors about Downworlders.”

There is nothing Alec hated more than small talk, drama and Magnus Bane. He had experienced all of the above enough and more for today. Now, all he wanted to do was to go home and get some sleep.

"Whatever, asshole! I am not scared of you,” Jace challenged, “Alec, I’ll wait for you downstairs.”

His brother left the room leaving him alone with the other man who still looked annoyed and angry. Honestly, Alec doesn’t need this shit either. But…good things come with a price. God, he was going to hate every minute in Indiana.

“So, Shall I ask our int…I’ll ask Clary to book the flights for Indiana on Friday night?”

He should specifically ask her to make sure the two seats are far away from each other as possible. The last thing he needs right now is to spend more time with this man.

“Actually, I am going to drive there,” the other man informed him in a casual tone.

Drive? To Indiana?

Well, that’s…good. That’s good news. He didn’t have to travel with Bane. That’s…good.

“Alec, are you done?” Izzy peeped in from the door, “Sorry, Magnus. We need to Facetime our little brother.”

Max! He had forgotten about that.

“Of course, it seems like we don’t have to make any travel plans after all,” Magnus told her, a bit too happily for Alec's taste.

“Why not?” his sister inquired, coming into the room once more.

“Well, I am going to drive to Indiana. In the mood for a road trip," Magnus explained excitedly. It seemed...weird - the way the other man's posture and tone changed completely when he spoke to his sister.

Izzy looked at Bane, then him and again at the other man.

“You should go with him!” Izzy suggested at him.

He should what now?

Apparently he had said the last part out loud since his sister elaborated, “Well, you need a break! This could be fun!”

Fun? Does she not know him at all?

“Come on, Alec! You can see a lot of…sights,” she winked suggestively as she pointed at Magnus with her chin.

Oh no. She was not going to pull this shit on him. No fucking way.

“Izzy, I don’t think that’s a good idea," Alec said in a tone that meant 'don't even try'. 

Because it’s a horrible fucking idea. He was slightly skeptical about taking a 2-hour flight with this man. But a 12 hour drive? Yeah, no thanks.

“Although I never expected to say these words in my life,” Magnus intervened, “I agree with your brother.”

His sister squared her shoulders and huffed out a breath. Oh, he knows this look. This is not a good look – not for him.

“But think about it. Everyone is already on ice about Edom and Idris working together. How would it look if the two representatives arrived separately? That will not make a good impression on Morning Star.”

Goddamnit, Izzy! Why did she always have to meddle with everything?

To his dismay, he realized that she did have a point. Sebastian was already skeptical about them working together - So did all of New York. Maybe he could fly in earlier and meet up with the other man at the hotel or something? It does unnecessarily complicate things but he could try and-

“Please, Alec!” Izzy whined, her eyes wide and shiny.

Oh, hell! He knows this look too. It took him less than a minute to give up.

“Fine,” he huffed, “If he is okay with it that is.”

The other man looked both surprised and disappointed at the same time, “Uh….Sure, I guess? I mean, yeah. I will text you the details.”

Izzy linked arms with the other man and walked towards the elevator talking about some celebrity while Alec stood there and wondered what the hell had just happened. Did he really agree to spend his entire weekend – not mention almost 23 hours in a car – with Magnus Bane?

This project better save their asses from the Clave or god help him.

He had less than a couple of days to prepare for this trip. He wondered whether he would have to take up yoga or something to find the patience to survive this weekend. He walked towards the car to see Jace, Izzy and the redhead waiting for him.

“Heard Izzy talked you into going on a road trip with Bane, bro,” Jace laughed at his misery.

“This is a disaster,” he said to no one in particular.

Clary got into an Uber, he presumed, and Jace followed suit. His brother looked over at him sheepishly. “Oh. Clary wants to make a mixtape for Bane…For the road trip thing. Uh, I volunteered to help. Apparently, he likes to listen to 80’s rock.”

He got into the car without another word and took off to god knows where. He turned around to see his sister grinning at him like the Cheshire cat.

“It’s gonna be so great!” she cheered loudly. 

His siblings were seriously the worst.

Chapter Text

He put on his sunglasses and checked his phone for the time again. It was 07.46AM. They had agreed to meet up near a Starbucks in Brooklyn at eight in the morning so they could depart to Indiana.

They.

If Magnus did not have an odd brotherly affection towards Isabelle Lightwood, he would have been so pissed at her right now. When the girl had suggested that Lightwood should join in on the road trip, he was…not very happy. This was supposed to be his road trip. The little getaway was much needed, especially with the headache Lightwood had been giving him for the past week. Now, he was supposed to go on his little getaway with Lightwood himself.

Life and its endless cruel sense of irony!

Of course, Isabelle’s implication had been spot on. During the course of the meeting, he had quickly figured out that she was the only smart and rational one out of the Lightwood siblings. She had been right in suggesting that Morning Star would not appreciate the heat between the two contractors.

As much as he hated the other man and his…well, everything to be honest – He needed this project to work out.

At least, that was what he was advised to do.

Catarina, being the voice of reason of their company and his life, had suggested that it was high time that they move on from the past.

“But…they are Shadowhunters!” Magnus had whined at her annoyingly rational argument.

“And we are Downworlders,” Catarina had pointed out calmly, “This has nothing to with our race, Magnus. It’s about how we treat each other.”

When he was about to whine again, she had given him the don’t-make-tell-Madzie look and he had let it go. Catarina, the oldest among his friends, suffered from the oldest child syndrome. It made her annoyingly persuasive and infuriatingly right all the time.

When he had asked Raphael for his input, the younger man had agreed immediately, to Magnus’ surprise.

“I think it’s a great idea! Maybe I will finally get the opportunity to kill Herondale and make it look like an accident,” Raphael had confessed giddily.

“Raphael, you do realize that if we work as a team with Idris, there cannot be any violence?” Magnus had asked, slightly concerned.

“Magnus, people fall off buildings all the time,” Raphael had shrugged and continued to sip on his Bloody Mary.

The conversation still made him worry slightly. He might have to keep an eye on this one just in case he decided to go around pushing Shadowhunters off buildings.

He had finally gone to his father, confused and irritated. He knew that his final decision depended entirely on what his father had to say. He trusted him more than anyone in the world and relied on his counsel. He knew that his father would only want the best for Edom.

Which is why he had been shocked when his father had suggested that he should go ahead with the Morning Star project.

“This is unbelievable!” Magnus had yelled, “Everyone keeps telling me that this is a good idea!”

“If everyone keeps telling you it is a good idea, you should probably take it under consideration,” his father had reasoned.

“Ha! That is not what you said when everyone told me it was a good idea to get a duck tattooed above my butt!”

“Everyone did not say that.”

“Two people said that!”

“You were one of those two people!”

At this point, Magnus got pissed and had stalked out to the balcony in a dramatic fashion.

“Magnus,” his father had sighed out his name tiredly as he followed suit, “Why do you not want to work on this project?”

“Because they are Shadowhunters!” he had almost screamed back, “I thought you hated them!”

“I do hate the Shadowhunters,” his father had confirmed, “But as a leader, there are difficult decisions one has to make. If you are going to run Edom soon, you need to learn how to do that.”

“So, being a leader means sucking up to rich people?” Magnus had snarled.

“No. Being a leader means putting the needs of your people above your personal feelings,” his father had corrected him, “This project could open so many doors for Edom. You know it would be a turning point for the Downworld.”

He did know that. He knew about all the lives this project could change. But that did not erase the fact that he would have to work hand in hand with the Lightwoods - The people who had been an accomplice to one of the greatest tragedies in New York.

“I know you hate the Lightwoods,” his father had soothed him softly, as if he read his mind, “God knows I do too. But this project is not something we can afford to ignore.”

“But father...They are bad people!” Magnus had grieved, his voice suddenly that of a worried ten year old.

“You know what your mother would have said if she was here?” his father had asked gently.

Mama.

The mention of his mother made his heart ache and sing at the same time.

“No person is bad or good,” Magnus had repeated the words she had taught him all those years ago, “We are who we are, my little lotus. The only thing that matters is what we do with it.”

“I will not force you to do something you are uncomfortable with. All I ask is that you think about it with a clear mind,” his father had urged him that night, “I know the Lightwoods are bad people. But you are a good person. So, figure out what you want to do with it.”

So, here he was, parked outside Starbucks, waiting for Alec Lightwood to join him.

As he looked at phone to check the time again, a red Maserati pulled into the area. It was 08.00AM on the dot – There was only one person in the whole of New York who could be this punctual.

Lightwood got out of the car and hurriedly walked - or rather sprinted - into the coffee shop without even acknowledging his presence. But fortunately to his pleasant surprise, Isabelle hopped out of the driver’s side and walked over, waving at him enthusiastically.

Magnus was an only child and therefore had always yearned for siblings. But he never really felt like he missed out much because of his amazing friends who he considered as his family. Raphael, that annoying little shit, might as well be his younger brother with his protectiveness and gen-z attitude. Catarina, with her kind words and wise counsel, had taken over the role of his older sister since the day they had met over twenty years ago. And of course there was Ragnor, who had been the older brother and annoying rule-follower of their little group. He didn’t want to think about Ragnor right now as it would not help his already sour mood.

The point is, Magnus had never really had a younger sister. He would have loved to have a little sister that he could spoil. Someone he could talk about boys (and girls in his case) with. Someone he could go shopping with and spend the nights painting nails and watching reruns of horrible romcoms.

Of course, he didn’t really need a little sister per se because fuck gender roles. He could have done these things with his friends. But Catarina was always busy with work and Madzie. Clary had moved out of the Downworld long ago. And Raphael…Well, he had better luck having a pleasant conversation with Alec Lightwood than getting Raphael to watch a romcom with him.

So, when he had met Isabelle, he had been immediately taken with her. Isabelle Lightwood, with her overflowing passion and amazing taste in fashion, stirred big brother feelings inside him. Unfortunately for him, and probably more for her, she was born as a Lightwood of Angel Square.

“Magnus!” Isabelle beamed as she pulled him into a bear hug, “It is so good to see you!”

“You too, my dear. Aren’t you a vision for my sour Friday morning,” he marveled as he noticed her white floral sundress and red strappy stilettos. 

“Well, same! Only you could look this good wearing casual clothes,” she grinned, complimenting his modest outfit.

Magnus wondered what the Lightwoods would do if he steals their only their daughter. She was just too good to be true.

“Listen,” Isabelle suddenly said, her voice uncharacteristically nervous, “I wanted to apologize.”

An apology from a Shadowhunter? This girl just keeps surprising him in all the good ways.

“I know you wanted to go on this trip on your own. I shouldn’t have forced you to take Alec with you,” she confessed, biting into her lower lip nervously.

“You didn’t force me to do anything, Isabelle,” he consoled her, “So, no need to apologize.”

“It’s only…He needs to…I just worry, you know?", she admitted sadly, “He can be so uptight sometimes.”

“I know. Big brothers can be like that,” he agreed with a smile, once again pushing away the memories of Ragnor.

“I know there is a lot of…tension between our families. But I want you to know that we are not all bad and not all of us hate Downworlders,” Isabelle reassured him softly.

“Oh I don’t know about that. He definitely hates me,” Magnus said as he pointed at Lightwood, who was walking towards them now, sipping on his coffee.

“No, he doesn’t,” Isabelle sighed, shaking her head, “He doesn’t hate you. He is just jealous.”

Now that could possibly be the most ridiculous thing he has ever heard in his entire life.

“Jealous?” Magnus snorted, “What could I possibly have that would ever make Alec Lightwood jealous?”

“Freedom,” Isabelle smiled sadly.

What the hell does that supposed to mean?

He was about to ask her just that when Lightwood joined them with a backpack over his shoulders, “Are you done with the small talk? We need to leave.”

Christ! Who peed in his...Hold on, is that a trenta? Magnus hoped this man was not going to be a pain in his ass with this much caffeine in his system.

“Excuse my brother’s appalling manners, Magnus,” the girl rolled her eyes, “He is not a morning person.”

Well, this was going to be fun then.

She kissed Lightwood on the cheek, said goodbye (and good luck?) to the both of them and drove off in her stunning Maserati.

He turned around to see Lightwood - who was reviewing his car with a skeptical look, his face squinted and eyebrows raised.

“What?” Magnus asked exasperatedly.

“Your car is pink!”

“And you are white. What is your point, Lightwood?”

“I-. Nothing,” the other man replied lamely, as he discarded his giant coffee cup into the nearby garbage bin.

If Lightwood was going to be like this for the rest of the weekend, this trip was going to be a literal nightmare.

“Put your luggage in with the rest of them,” Magnus said, pointing at the backseat.

“Why do you have three carry-ons?” the other man asked, shocked.

“Because my wardrobe is more extensive than washed out jeans and monochrome t-shirts,” Magnus sassed, looking at Lightwood’s attire.

“Yeah, whatever. I am not the one dressed like I am going to the gym,” Lightwood retorted.

Magnus looked down at his black skinny jeans, loose white tank top and scoffed. He knew he would be driving for at least 11 hours and therefore he had picked out something comfortable. Of course, that did not mean that he had gone easy. Even though no one in Indiana knew him, he still had a reputation to maintain. So, he had adorned his fingers with his favorite rings and had opted for a smokey eyed makeup. He even went for a white bandana to make sure his hair won't get all messy during the drive. All in all, he looked magnificent yet relaxed enough to go on a half a day road trip. Isabelle was right, not everyone could pull this off. Fuck Alec Lightwood and his fashion blindness.

“First of all, no one goes to the gym wearing skinny jeans,” Magnus snarked as he got behind the wheel.

“Second of all,” he said pointing at his tank top, “This is Nike – Although I am not sure whether you understand what that means.”

The other man settled into the passenger seat mumbling something to himself. As soon as he settled down, Magnus turned around, moved closer and looked at him square in the eye.

“Alright, Lightwood! House rules!”

The Shadowhunter looked slightly startled at the sudden exclamation and close proximity.

“No smoking. No feet on the dashboard. No judging my playlists. And no talking! Is that understood?”

“Anything else?” Lightwood eye rolled, as he started ransacking his backpack.

“We will be spending a lot of time with each other over this weekend. So, you cannot, under any circumstance, fall in love with my magnificent self.”

He had seen way too many romantic comedies to know how this kind of road trips usually end. Of course, not that a Lightwood, a Shadowhunter and a straight man would ever fall in love with Magnus – But Magnus felt the need to warn the other man anyway.

“I’d rather fall off the empire state building,” the Shadowhunter deadpanned, as he put on his sunglasses and headphones.

The audacity of this bitch!

Magnus released a deep breath and hit the gas. 

Travelling with Alec Lightwood seemed easier than he had thought. Of course, this could be the fact that they completely ignored each other’s presence.

Magnus was not used to…being quiet. Well, at least when he had company. He was a born entertainer and he loved talking to people! So, it was hard for him to ignore the presence of another person, especially within such close proximity. But the music helped – and so did his hatred towards his…travelling companion/project partner/arch nemesis.

The silence between the two of them wasn’t the comfortable kind. It wasn’t the kind where you could not say a word to each other for hours and still feel at ease. This was so fucking uncomfortable. It was clear that they were both trying too hard to pretend like they were alone in that car. It was definitely one of the most awkward car rides Magnus had ever experienced and after his adventures in Peru, that was really saying something!

They did not utter a word to each other till they made a stop for lunch. It was almost 1.00PM when Magnus drove into the quaint eatery in a town just outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The trip had been satisfying so far, if he were to ignore the grumpy man sitting next to him. Magnus really needed the fresh air, especially due to the suffocation he had been feeling.

He knew that he would be officially taking over Edom after the Morning Star project. So, it was absolutely essential that everything goes well with this particular contract. Although he had won every single project and completed them to perfection, he still felt anxious about this one. It wasn’t just because he was working with Shadowhunters, but it was also the fact that this…This was the last step. Once this project was over, he would be running Edom. Even though it was something he really wanted, it didn’t mean that he wasn’t afraid. Despite the confidence and flair he projected wherever he went, deep down Magnus was terrified. He was terrified of taking over the company and being responsible for so many lives. As the son of Asmodeus, the prodigy of the Downworld, he was under a lot of pressure.

People always assume that when you are good at something, it means that it is easy. Being smart or talented or successful, those things are never easy. They all come with a lot of hard work, dedication…and sacrifice. But people didn’t know that. But only noticed him when he was just about to start the race or cross the finish line - nobody bothered about the middle part. Everyone just assumed that it would be easy for someone like him - A winner. 

None of this had been easy for him.

This is why Magnus tried to make the best out of any situation. Unlike in his early twenties, now he didn’t have much time to dedicate for himself. He did miss that part of himself, the man who cared little about consequences. But he liked who was now more, the man who cared about more than just himself. Even if he didn’t get to spend a lot of time on his personal pursuits, he always made sure to take little breathers.

This trip was supposed to be one of those little breathers. Instead, it had turned out to be one big exasperated sigh.

Well, nothing had gone horribly wrong yet, but you can never say for sure – Especially when your travelling companion is a Shadowhunter.

He decided to stop worrying about his future right now and got out of the car to get something to eat. He was famished after five hours of driving and the delicious aroma from the eatery only made his hunger worse.

“You coming?” he asked the other man, who was still seated on the passenger seat, reading a book now.

“I am not hungry,” Lightwood replied, not even bothering to turn his head.

“Suit yourself,” Magnus scoffed, “We won’t be stopping again for a while.”

When the other man did not respond, Magnus left without another word. If Lightwood wanted to starve himself for half a day, then so be it. It wasn’t the first time a Shadowhunter had declined to dine with a Downworlder. Magnus shouldn’t be surprised to receive this sort of treatment from a Lightwood.

He ordered himself a grilled chicken burger with a lime soda. The food was divine to say the least; wait staff had been extremely nice and had wished him good luck with his trip. The poor things did not know how much he needed it.

When he returned to the car, he saw Lightwood munching on an energy bar while reading his book. So, he was just another typical Shadowhunter who didn’t want to share a table with someone from the Downworld. Magnus got back behind the wheel and took off without acknowledging the other man’s presence or his disrespectful attitude.

Just a few more… Fuck, their destination was approximately seven hours away – Not to mention the fact that he had to spend the whole of Saturday with the man and had to drive back on Sunday.

Goddamnit, Isabelle Lightwood!

Alright, deep breaths. He can do this…One mile at a time.

They continued their journey in silence as before, neither of them of them bothering to make small talk. It was totally fine by Magnus. It’s not like he was dying to know the other man’s opinion on...anything at all. He was pretty sure that small talk with Alec Lightwood would be a fucking nightmare. He continued to drive while listening to Appetite for Destruction, one his favorite Guns n Roses albums while Lightwood continued to read his pretentious book.

Just as they were about to enter the state of Ohio, he noticed that he was running low on gas. Ugh, no! No unnecessary breaks! Thankfully, there was a gas station closeby according to Google Maps, so he could make a quick stop and refill the tank. The other man had dozed off at some point with the book abandoned on his lap. Magnus noticed the gas station and pulled over.

The sun was hidden by giant clouds today and therefore Magnus was luckily not sweating as much. He got down at the gas station, which was completely empty, to refill the tank when he noticed a Range Rover pull into the station. The vehicle was blaring loud music, some weird Swedish rap, and looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in months. A man, with disturbingly red hair, concerning fashion taste and minimal grooming habits stepped out to fill the tank and gave him a once over.

“Yo! Check this guy out!” he whistled to his friend in a loud voice that definitely sounded intoxicated, “Where is your tiara, princess?”

Magnus hated straight men who took pleasure in taunting people with their pathetically unoriginal homophobic insults. As someone who belonged to an ethnic, economic and sexual minority, Magnus had been bullied, discriminated and harassed more times than he liked to admit. But he knew that these sorts of people were not the kind you can reason with and therefore decided let this one go.

Such hatred and prejudice was based on a complete lack of awareness and empathy. There is nothing he could say or do right now that would make such people realize how hurtful and disrespectful they are. There are some fights that were just not worth getting your hands dirty.

The other man, presumably this trash bag’s fellow trash bag friend, started whistling and hooting. Magnus let out a deep breath and continued to ignore them. Thankfully, he had been doing enough ignoring all day to do it without having to fake it.

“He does have a pretty mouth, doesn’t he?” the ogre continued, “He is even wearing lipstick!”

He wanted to respond, he really did. But someone who did not know the basic difference between lipstick and chapstick were really not worth talking to.

“Are you good with that mouth?” the ogre addressed him directly this time, “I bet you are. I bet you would love to suck my-”

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY?”

Magnus whipped his head around to notice Lightwood awake now, his eyes no longer sleepy, but fuming dangerously.

“Aw, look! It’s the knight in shining armor!” the ogre cooed, “I was just telling your boyfriend how he would love to-”

The other man moved at the speed of lightning. Nobody saw it coming, least of all Magnus. Lightwood punched the other man with such a strong blow; Magnus definitely saw a tooth flying out of the Ogre’s mouth.

“MAN, WHAT THE FUCK!!!”

“Apologize!” Lightwood commanded.

“What the fuck?” the ogre repeated frantically, wiping the blood dripping out of his mouth.

“I said, apologize to him!”

“I am not apologizing to that fucking fag-”

Another blow landed on the ogre this time, right on his nose. Blood started to drip out on his shirt and Magnus was sure the Shadowhunter had broken the other man’s nose.

“DUDE, WHA-”

Lightwood twisted the other man’s arm from behind and slammed his face on the bonnet of the jeep, “Apologize.”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” the other man howled frantically, his words barely comprehensible.

Once Lightwood released his hold on him, the ogre leapt into the jeep and took off with such a speed that Magnus wondered whether he would probably crash into something. Well, hopefully yes.

It was only when the gas station was empty once more did he realize that all of this happened in real life and not in a movie.

What in god’s name was that?

Apparently he had asked the question out loud since Lightwood responded, “An apology.”

“I don’t need you to fight for my honor, Lightwood!” he fumed as he followed the Shadowhunter, who went back and settled into the passenger seat again as if nothing happened. 

“I wasn’t. I was just making a point,” he replied too casually for someone who had just got into a street – or gas station – fight.

“And what was your point, pray tell?”

“If you talk shit, you get hit."

If he wasn’t so fucking angry right now, Magnus would have laughed. He didn’t know whether he was angry at the Ogre for being a disgusting piece of shit or at Lightwood for making a scene or at himself for being quiet. But boy was he angry.

“You Shadowhunters keep complaining about Downworld violence and how brutal we are while it is you people who always resort to violence!”

“He was being an asshole!”

“So? It’s okay to punch him?”

“I was helping YOU!”

“I don’t need YOUR help, Shadowhunter!!!”

The other man was going to retort something but winced suddenly instead. Magnus noticed that his right hand was bleeding from the knuckles.

“You are bleeding,” he pointed out.

“Really? How can you tell?” the other man asked, rolling his eyes.

Magnus decided to ignore the attitude, “You need to ice it and cover it up. It can get infected.”

The other man groaned and threw his head back in frustration, “Grab me the first-aid kit.”

“Where the hell am I supposed to find a first-aid kit in the middle of nowhere?” Magnus demanded incredulously.

“You brought three bags and didn’t pack a first aid kit?” Alec inquired, equally incredulous. 

“Why would I pack a first-aid kit?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you are going on a road trip and visiting a construction site?” Alec argued, rolling those annoying hazel eyes again.

“Well, excuse me for not being prepared for your little roadside rowdy act!” Magnus countered.

The Shadowhunter looked like he was going to argue but again winced instead, “There is a little kit in the side pocket of my backpack.”

Magnus looked through the backpack and did indeed find a neatly packed first-aid kit in there. He wondered if all Lightwoods carry first-aid kits around in case they randomly broke noses.

Lightwood turned around in his seat and grabbed the kit from him. Magnus sighed exasperatedly and made his way back behind the wheel. The other man took out a tube of medicine, gauze and a tiny scissor. He picked up his water bottle from the floor of the convertible and washed his wound while wincing quietly to himself. He tore a piece of gauze and cleaned up the wound in a careful, practiced manner. The wound did not look deep, but each knuckle definitely looked bad enough. Lightwood fiddled with the tube trying to open it with one hand and dropped the damn thing.

“Give it over here,” Magnus ordered, grabbing the tube from the other man.

“You need to cut a piece of gauze, long enough to cover the wound,” the other man instructed quietly.

“Now put two drops of the antibiotic into the gauze and spread it around,” he continued, “Don’t use your hand. There must be some cotton swabs inside the kit.”

Magnus opened the kit to find a little packet of cotton swabs inside. The damn thing was like Dora’s backpack – It literally had everything!

He spread the cream around on the gauze carefully and placed it on the other man’s hand. The Shadowhunter winced again but continued his instructions.

As Magnus finished tying the bandage around, he noticed that he had done a good job cleaning up and neatly securing the wound – Thanks to the other man’s instructions of course.

He placed the kit back in the pocket and drove away from the cursed gas station without wasting another moment. Thanks to the ogre, they were already behind schedule.

“You are weirdly good at that first-aid stuff,” Magnus pointed out awkwardly as they entered the state of Ohio.

“Uh, yeah. I went for a first-aid training camp when I was 12,” Lightwood explained.

Jeez! What kind of a 12 year old goes for first aid training camp? He didn’t know whether the other man noticed the judgment on his face as it prompted him to elaborate further.

“My parents, they, uh, they used to take us to the construction sites when we were smaller – when they couldn’t find a babysitter. They said it was a good learning experience.”

Christ! Do not take your kids to dangerous construction sites is probably one of the top rules of parenting 101. He wasn’t really surprised that Robert and Maryse Lightwood chose to ignore that though.

“Jace and Izzy, even Max,” the other man chuckled fondly to himself, “My siblings, they uh, they don’t like to sit tight and wait till my parents returned. So, they just ran around and played at the site. One of them always fell down or got a scratch or something – every single time! It was mostly Jace, to be honest. So, I went for a first aid camp so I can dress their wounds instead of troubling my parents.”

Magnus found that oddly…touching. Even if Alec Lightwood didn’t careful about the Downworld, he cared for his siblings. Well, that was something – he guessed.

“Uh. That’s neat,” Magnus commented eloquently. 

The uncomfortable silence settled between them again. Magnus let out a deep breath and remembered his manners.

“I- Thank you,” he mentioned.

“What was that?” Lightwood echoed, visibly surprised.

“Listen, I don’t condone violence, not under any circumstance,” Magnus made it clear.

“But that guy insulted you,” the Shadowhunter reasoned in a frustrated tone.

“You can’t fight homophobia with a fist, Lightwood,” Magnus sighed.

Magnus had tried. It never worked out. There was really no point in fighting hatred with more hatred. The other man considered his words for a minute and nodded.

“But nevertheless, you didn’t have to do that. So, thank you,” Magnus offered anyway.

Then they were quiet again. Magnus looked straight ahead while the other man pretended to enjoy the scenery.

“I don’t think you have ever thanked me before,” Lightwood trailed off, accidentally thinking out loud as he flinched after saying the words.

“Well, don’t get used to it,” Magnus grumbled.

The other man mumbled something under his breath but Magnus couldn't figure it out.

“I am serious, Lightwood! No more punching around till we reach New York!” Magnus warned, although his tone was not menacing as he would have liked.

“Did you know that the unofficial Lightwood motto is we break noses and accept the consequences? the other man inquired randomly, taking Magnus completely by surprise.

What kind of weird-ass motto is that? Is this what the Lightwoods teach their children? Dear lord!

He was about to make a snide comment but instead what came out of his mouth was, “Really? I thought it would be something like we break noses because we have first-aid training.

This made the other man laugh out loud, which was quite unusual. He didn’t know Alec Lightwood could laugh. He genuinely had thought that the other man was incapable of laughing because of some sort of…Shadowhunter default.

Lightwood abruptly stopped laughing and looked embarrassed. He picked up his book from the glove compartment and started to read without saying another word.

The whole thing had been…quite odd. Did he just make…small talk with Alec Lightwood?

The horrible realization hit him and he stepped on the gas slightly harder. They needed to get out this car, finish their work and get back to New York as soon as possible. This whole road trip thing was not working out.

They drove for another couple of hours in their uncomfortable silence. His feet started to ache but he didn’t say anything. They were only a couple of hours away from their location in Indiana. Sebastian had informed that they could stay in the guest quarters at the site itself as it would be more convenient. Magnus could not wait to go to his room, stretch his legs, pass the fuck out and forget all about this weird day.

“I need coffee,” the Shadowhunter informed out of the blue.

“Huh?” Magnus replied – because huh?

“I need coffee,” Lightwood repeated, his response slightly more agitated this time.

“We will reach the site area in a couple of years. I am sure there is a place where you can get coffee there,” Magnus responded calmly.

“No. I need coffee now!”  Lightwood whined.

Honestly, who did he think Magnus was? His personal butler?

“Lightwood, if you haven’t noticed, we are in the middle of nowhere,” Magnus pointed out, trying not to lose his cool.

“I ran out of energy bars and I am hungry!”

“And whose fault is that?”

“Listen, I can survive without food for another couple of hours. But I need coffee right now!” he fretted in a flustered tone.

"Did you not have a trenta in the morning? At Starbucks?"

"That was nearly ten hours ago!!!"

Was this man some sort of caffeine addict? Was…he okay?

"Alright,” Magnus sighed, “Check if there is a coffee shop coming up ahead.”

The Shadowhunter searched on his phone and nearly screamed, “There is one in less than five miles!!!”

Christ! Definitely a caffeine addict, he concluded.

The other man was humming to himself and tapping his fingers on his lap the whole time till they reached the little coffee shop by the road. Lightwood literally jumped out of the door like some sort of animal and ran towards the little shop.

Magnus noticed that it was 6.32 in the evening and it had got significantly darker. The road seemed completely deserted except for maybe random vehicles passing by every few minutes. They should get this man his coffee and get the fuck out of here as soon as possible.

He turned around sharply at the sound of a loud wailing noise.

“NO. NO. NO. NO! IT’S CLOSED!!!”

“Lightwood! Shut up! This is a deserted area!”

“The shop is closed! It is supposed to be open 24 hours!! Why is it closed???” the other man rambled, pointing at the closed sign.

There was a note attached to the door that said the owner would return in an hour. Magnus pointed it out to the Shadowhunter, who suddenly looked hopeful and sat down on the stairs.

“Lightwood, we are not waiting for an hour! We don’t even know where we are! You can get your coffee when we get to Indiana,” Magnus declared. 

“No, I need my coffee!”

“Lightwood!”

“NO!”

Jesus Christ! This one was worse than Madzie.

Magnus let out a deep sigh and walked over to his car. He went through his yellow bag and found what he was looking for. As he closed his bag, a breeze rushed through, instantly making him feel cold. He quickly opened his green bag, found his favorite scarf, wrapped it around himself and walked back to the shop.

“Why the hell do you have a pocket knife?” Lightwood gaped in an alarmed tone.

“The same reason you have a first-aid kit – Precaution.”

He didn’t want to explain that all Downworld children carried around a pocket knife – or some other weapon – to defend themselves. The Downworld had never really been safe – especially for children. Before Valentine, children were on the streets, begging or even engaging in petty theft, so they could feed themselves and their family. During Valentine’s reign, children literally started to disappear, including his own friends. They later found out that these children were either trafficked out of New York or had been Valentine’s initial experiments for illegal organ transplants.

The Downworld had expected things to change after Valentine’s arrest, but sadly that was not how the world worked. Even now, Downworld children were engaged in gangs or even sex work. It was one of Magnus’ biggest concerns and had been the primary motivation for doing this project with Angel Square. Sebastian had assured them that the training school would benefit the Downworld children and reduce unemployment. This is why this project needed to work out.

Like all his Downworld friends, Magnus was also armed with a weapon. While the Shadowhunters had given their children remote-controlled cars and Barbie dolls, the Downworlders gave their children knives and pepper spray.

Magnus still remembered the day his mother gave him the pocket knife and asked him never to use it to hurt anyone but to protect himself. He still carried the knife with him today, even though he hadn’t used it in years.

While breaking into a shop might technically hurt someone, he realized he didn’t have a choice – especially with Mr. Grumpy moping on the stairs. He unlocked the door with skilled efficiency, something he wasn’t proud of. It was yet another thing he had been forced to learn as a Downworld child.

He opened the door and gestured at Lightwood to go get his coffee.

“Oh my god! Did you just break into someone’s shop! That is against the law!” the Shadowhunter rumbled nervously. 

“So is breaking someone’s nose! Now get your coffee. We can’t stay here for longer than necessary for obvious reasons!” Magnus rolled his eyes.

Lightwood stood outside the door awkwardly contemplating the scenario, “I have never really broken the law.”

Alec Lightwood? Prodigal son of Robert and Maryse Lightwood? the esteemed heir to Idris? A Shadowhunter to the bone? He had never broken a law in his entire life?

No one was shocked by this information. Literally no one.

“Welcome to the dark side, Shadowhunter!” Magnus announced dramatically as he pointed towards the coffee maker.

“Coffee!!!” the other man screamed and ran towards the machine, instantly forgetting all about moral codes and state laws.

Magnus observed the other man as he made his coffee, bouncing on his feet lightly.

“So, what’s the deal with you and coffee?” Magnus inquired, wrapping the scarf around him more tightly, his curiosity getting the best of him.

Lightwood peered at him, blowing gently into the yellow mug.

“No deal. I need my coffee or I’ll just get cranky,” he shrugged.

This spoilt little shit!

The other man settled down on a chair and began to sip on his coffee slowly. Magnus contemplated on returning to the car but also settled down on a chair when he realized he needed to lock the shop back safely. He looked up at the other man to see that he was staring at him...or his exposed arms. Magnus had been wearing the tank top since early morning. He must look like a mess!

Magnus cleared his throat and the other man immediately averted his gaze back to this coffee mug.

“That’s a, uh, cool-looking, uh, scarf,” the Shadowhunter pointed out awkwardly.

Magnus wondered how this man managed to conduct business meetings with the social skills of a three year old.

“Yeah, it is very cool-looking,” Magnus mimicked. 

He stopped fiddling with his scarf and caressed it fondly. Despite all the expensive things he owned, it was one of his favorite possessions.

“Are those…carnations?” Lightwood asked, pointing at the design.

“No, they are lotuses!” Magnus corrected, rolling his eyes.

It was a gift from his mother for his eighth birthday. She had sewn the scarf herself for her son, as they couldn't really afford to buy birthday gifts at the time. Magnus loved everything about it – the soft material, the little tassels in the end, the blue and silver thread. But his favorite was the lotus design.

“Do you know Seroja means lotus in Indonesian?” she had asked, wrapping the scarf around his little body.

He hadn't at the time. Seroja, the name suited her well. She was so beautiful, just like a lotus in the pond. He still remembered the way she touched his face, pushing the hair out of his face, sang him lullabies and kissed him goodnight.

“I made this so you can remember how much I love you, my little lotus!” she had said while Magnus ran around their house waving his new scarf excitedly.

He wrapped the tassels around his pinkie and wondered she would make of the man he was today. He really hoped she wouldn't be disappointed with him.

“My mother gave it to me when I was a kid. It’s the only thing I have left of her.”

Okay, too much information! Too much sharing! Too fucking much. 

It surprised him that he revealed such a personal detail to a Shadowhunter - to Alec Lightwood out of everyone. Man, he must be really tired.

He removed his scarf and rubbed at his face. He was beginning to get slightly sleepy and they still had to drive for almost a couple of hours. He went over to the kitchen and washed his face, feeling guilty about invading someone’s space like it. Despite popular opinion, Magnus didn’t really like breaking the law. He personally believed that chaos happened when people started to take the law lightly.

This was honestly a summary of what had happened during the riots.

He didn't want to spend any more time with the Shadowhunter. They had to leave. Right now!

He realized that spending any more time in that coffee shop would not be safe, especially for his sanity, “Are you done? We need to leave!”

“Yeah,” Lightwood replied as he drained last of the cup and left a couple of bills near the cashier.

As Magnus locked up the door, Lightwood carefully observed him this time.

“Do all Downworlders know how to pick locks?” he questioned with a curious tone.

“You know what? We do! We were taught how to steal as kids - Literally! You know why? Because we had to steal food from houses and shops in Angel Square to make sure we didn’t starve to death. We learned how to pick locks before we learned anything else. So, quit the judgmental tone!”

The other man looked utterly taken back and somewhat embarrassed.

“I-I didn’t know that,” he stammered, “I mean, I know the Downworld is in poverty. But I didn’t know that the kids had to-“

“It appears that you don’t know a lot of things – just like the rest of your people,” Magnus fumed despite the cold breeze outside, “You think we enjoy petty crime? Do you think the kids want to join gangs and rob people? Do you think I am proud of knowing how to pick locks? Do you think we enjoy being law breakers or rebels? We don’t! It is just a sad, pathetic, humiliating reminder of our past and our present. It’s because of our poverty. It’s because Angel Square hogs all the wealth and opportunities while we work with the scraps that we get. Every time we break the law, we are reminded of the circumstances that have pushed us into this lifestyle. So, the next time you are curious about our skills, I suggest you think about your contribution to it.”

He walked away before the other man could respond and settled behind the wheel. He noticed that Lightwood was just standing there on his own, looking lost. Magnus honked loudly to inform the Shadowhunter that they had to leave now, before the owner returned. The other man walked back quickly and settled on the passenger seat.

He realized that although his confession had been honest and true, he may have overreacted. He didn’t know why he was feeling that way all of a sudden, but he knew his reaction was uncalled for.

“You didn’t have to do that for me," the Shadowhunter whispered softly. 

That's right! He didn't have to! And yet he had. Why?

Why did it matter whether Lightwood got his coffee or not? Why had he broken into a shop for a Shadowhunter?

He didn't like the way the other man's face looked at the time. It was all...pouty and sad. He kept fiddling with his faded t-shirt and running his hand through his hair. The sight wasn't...pleasant. Most importantly, he didn't like the way it affected him.

Of course, he wasn't going to tell any of this to Lightwood.

“Didn’t want you getting all cranky on me,” Magnus mumbled. 

Alright, no more breaks. Next stop, fucking Indiana.

They drove in their uncomfortable silence once more, neither of them saying a word till they reached the site.They reached the location exactly by 9.32PM. It had taken them more than 11 hours to get there, thanks to a certain someone. Magnus couldn’t express who relieved he was to stop driving. Maybe this whole road trip thing had been a bad idea.

Or maybe it was just the company.

A man, who looked like he was in his late forties, hurried over to welcome them to the site.  He looked stressed out, anxious and tired.

“Mr. Lightwood and Mr. Bane! Welcome to Indiana. I am Hodge Starkweather, contractor of the Indiana Morning Star project.”

Starkweather. Another Shadowhunter. Yay!

“Are you alright, Mr. Starkweather?” Lightwood inquired, “You look…unwell.”

The man released a deep breath, “There has been a slight accident at the site. No. No. Nothing to worry about. It was just a plumbing accident. But our quarters have been flooded. I am afraid the guest quarters are not available tonight.”

Why? Why did god hate him so much? All he wanted was a bed so that he could rest his legs and fall asleep.

“Does that mean we will have to stay at a hotel?” Lightwood questioned.

Starkweather genuinely looked embarrassed and guilty, “Well, uh, the nearest hotel is an hour away. Of course, you are free to stay there. I can make the necessary arrangements right away. But I assumed the you gentleman would like to rest after your journey. So, you can stay at the staff quarters if you like.”

Ah, finally! There we go! A bed.

“That’s fine, Mr. Starkweather! Don’t worry about it,” Magnus reassured the other man.

The contractor continued to look uncomfortable, which prompted Lightwood to continue his inquiry, “Is there a problem with the staff quarters?”

Please, no. Bed, please.

“Uh, all our staff quarters are equipped with bunk beds. You know how we contractors have to make compromises for budgets,” he laughed nervously, “And there is only one room available since most of our staff are on-site these days.”

Fuck this shit. He needed a bed. He didn’t care what kind of bed it was or who he had to share it with. He needed to rest his legs and pass out in the next hour or so help him god.

“So…We will have to share a room?” the other man pondered awkwardly.

“Do you have a problem with that, Lightwood?” Magnus asked impatiently.

“No!” Lightwood replied defensively.

Magnus had just spent more than half a day with this man and would definitely like some privacy right now. But unfortunately the universe had other plans for him.

Well, fuck it. He was going to pass out soon anyway. His first priority right now was sleep and rest – especially considering the long day ahead of them tomorrow.

“Mr. Starkweather, It’s just a couple of nights. I am sure we can manage. So, if you could please show us to the room, I for one would like to go to sleep.”

They both followed the man to their room. As informed, the room was small and was barely equipped. But it looked clean and comfortable. So, Magnus couldn’t care less.

“If you need anything else, please give me a call,” the older man said giving Lightwood his card, “Good night!”

Alright, time to refresh and get the fuck to sleep.

“Top or bottom?” he asked the Shadowhunter.

“W-What?” Lightwood blinked, looking up from the card.

“Top or bottom?” Magnus enunciated slowly, his patience wearing thin.

“Um, what?”

“Christ! Do you want the top or bottom bunk?” Magnus questioned exasperatedly, pointing at the bed.

The other man flushed at his own stupidity and observed the bed, “Uh, I don’t have a preference.”

“Neither do I,” Magnus shrugged.

He dropped his wallet and keys on the bottom bunk and went through the blue baggage looking for his toiletries.

The Shadowhunter was looking around the room with a skeptical look on his face. Honestly, these people.

“Not fancy enough for you, your highness?”

“I didn’t say that!”

“You didn’t have to,” Magnus remarked and went to the bathroom.

Just two more days…And around another 14 months till the project was over.

He groaned inwardly as he took off his clothes. The hot shower was just what he needed to decompress. He changed into his black pajamas and walked out of the bathroom to find Lightwood sitting on the desk, typing something into his phone.

“All yours,” Magnus announced. The other man gathered his things and went into the washroom without another word.

It took him another half hour to prepare for tomorrow’s activities. He even decided to pick out his clothes, worrying he might oversleep tonight out of exhaustion. He was looking for his belt when it dawned on him.

“NO. NO. NO. NO. NO!”

He started rummaging through all his clothes, grumbling to himself when Lightwood walked out hurriedly.

“What happened?” he questioned, looking completely alarmed.

“My scarf! I left it at the coffee shop!” Magnus informed, his voice wobbly.

No. No, he was not going to cry in front of a fucking Shadowhunter. Not in front of Lightwood!

“Are you sure? Maybe it’s in the car?” Lightwood quizzed.

Oh! He might have dropped it in the car somewhere. He literally ran out of the room, ignoring the other man, to his car only to find that it wasn’t there.

It was the only thing he had left of his mother and he had lost it.

“Was it there?” the other man questioned as he returned to the room.

“I am not holding it, am I?”

“Maybe you could go back tomorrow or pick it up on the way back?” the other man suggested.

Magnus knew he was trying to be helpful but he couldn’t help but be pissed at the other man for causing all the chaos.

“What if they throw it away? They probably did that already. We can’t go back tomorrow because it is going to take me four hours to drive to the coffee shop and back here. Our schedule is packed!” Magnus pointed out irately, “And even if do, what could I possibly say? If I tell them when I lost it, they are going to know we broke in!”

The other man looked at him helplessly not knowing what to do.

Magnus was just tired.

He was tired of everything that happened today. He was tired of being forced into circumstances that he didn’t want to meet. He was tired of travelling with someone he despised. He was tired of being bullied for his sexuality. He was tired of breaking the law for his peace of mind. He was tired of losing the things that mattered to him the most. He was tired of Alec Lightwood.

He just wanted to go to sleep.

“It’s fine. Just let it go. Go to sleep.”

“But-”

“Just go to sleep, Lightwood. I am tired.”

The other man turned off the light and climbed up to the top bunk quietly. The bed made a loud creak despite his efforts.

A creaky bunk bed. Wonderful. That is exactly what he needed to end this day. 

“Goodnight,” the other man said hesitantly.

“Goodnight,” he mumbled back.

It wasn’t a good night – not for Magnus Bane. All he wanted was to go to sleep but now…Well, how can one go to sleep knowing that they had been so careless with something so precious. He wondered what he had been thinking at the time to forget about something so important. He cursed himself for his carelessness. He hated himself for his flippant attitude.

It wasn't easy for him to fall asleep now. It was not at all easy when he was worried about the scarf. He tossed and turned around for god knows how long until Lightwood hastily got off the bed and left the room in his pajamas.

He wasn’t surprised at the other man’s reaction. The bunk bed was small – too small for someone of Lightwood’s stature. Also, he knew him tossing and turning around would not have helped the other man sleep, not with that creaky bed.

It was a good thing Lightwood decided to find another room – or better yet a hotel – since Magnus wanted nothing more than to be alone right now. How was he going to tell his father about the scarf? What would he say? Would he trust him with the company if Magnus couldn’t even be trusted with a simple scarf?

But here is the thing…It wasn’t a simple scarf. For Magnus, that scarf was worth more than his entire company.

Fuck consequences and the contract. He was going to get the scarf back the first thing in the morning. He contemplated on leaving right now, but decided that it would be ill-advised considering the fact that he was bone tired and sleep deprived. 

Tomorrow morning, it is! Lightwood could handle the site visit till he gets back. He still worried whether the coffee shop owner might throw it away or damage it somehow before he gets there in the morning. He tried not to think about all the negative outcomes and willed himself to sleep.

It’s going to be okay, little lotus – he heard his mother’s voice in his head.

He drifted off to sleep for a few minutes till he was suddenly woken up by a creak from the door. He sat up on his bunk to notice Lightwood walking into the room again.

What the hell was he doing back here?

“I thought you went to the hotel,” Magnus murmured.

“Uh, no. I went to get this,” Lightwood replied, holding out the blue and silver scarf.

“Mama!” Magnus exclaimed instinctively and leaped out of the bed to grab the sacred piece of clothing. He clutched it to his chest and inhaled the familiar sandalwood scent and the softness of cashmere fabric.

“How did you get it back?” Magnus inquired, his hands still caressing the scarf.

“Uh, I went back to the coffee shop,” Lightwood explained.

Magnus blinked at him confusedly and checked at the clock on the wall. Apparently, he had slept for more than just a few minutes as the clock said 02.13AM.

“You drove all the way to the coffee shop? How?” Magnus asked in disbelief, looking at the man's injured hand.

Lightwood just shrugged, “I borrowed Mr. Starkweather’s car. Also, the woman at the coffee shop was really nice. She gave it back without asking any questions.”

Magnus didn’t know what to think or say. Apparently, he didn’t need to since Lightwood yawned, turned off the light and climbed back to the top bunk.

Why did he do that? Why did he drive for nearly four hours to get Magnus' scarf? Did he feel guilty? He probably felt guilty.

Although, technically, it wasn’t his fault that Magnus had forgotten the scarf at the shop. So, why?

Sleep consumed him once more and he could no longer wonder about Alec Lightwood’s continued theatrics today.

“You didn’t have to do that for me,” Magnus whispered softly.

The other man shifted on his bunk, creating a loud screech and yawned again.

“Didn’t want you getting all cranky on me,” the Shadowhunter mumbled.

He didn’t like what the response made him feel. He felt…He didn’t know what he felt. But it wasn’t annoyance or exasperation or anger – which were his default emotions towards the other man.

Whatever this was, it was new and he didn’t like it.

Magnus let out a deep breath.

He closed his eyes and decided to go to sleep. He hoped he would wake up tomorrow morning and realize that this entire day had just been one bizarre dream.

Chapter Text

The familiar and annoying tone of his alarm forced him to open his eyes and turn off the damn thing. The room was way too bright than what he was used to. He hastily reached out for the remote control to shut the blinds, but his hand just grabbed a fistful of nothing.

He scrambled up to sit on the bed and realized he seemed taller – much more than every other day. It suddenly struck him that he was sitting on a bunk bed. And then, it all hit him at once.

Indiana. The pink car. Face punching. Bunk beds. The scarf.

He flopped back and covered his face with a pillow. He had the urge to scream into it, wondering how he had got himself into this situation. Well, he did know how. He’ll deal with her when he gets home.

The entire day had been extremely weird. But  that was the issue, it was just…weird. He had expected to be annoyed or angry the whole time, but he didn’t experience any of those emotions during the road trip – expect during the little incident at the gas station.

He didn't know what came over him yesterday. When he had heard that pig insult the other man's sexuality, he couldn't help but punch him. He wondered whether it was because he felt the need to defend another person's sexuality since he could never really defend his own.

The memory reminded him to check on his right hand. It didn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday. The other man had done a good job patching it up. Alec didn’t think Bane would be capable of taking instructions, but he had been proven wrong.

So, yeah. The whole trip was alright, all things considered. Of course, this could be because he tried his best to keep the conversations limited. He had come to notice that he always got into trouble with the other man when one of them opened their mouth. So, he had decided to quietly listen to music or skip lunch or read a book or enjoy the road instead of talking to his companion. They didn’t have anything in common to talk about anyway. This whole thing was…not normal. Alec was not a big fan of change, he liked to keep things the way they are. He just needed to finish the site visit and get back to normal.

Fuck, the site visit.

He suddenly realized the whole purpose of this trip was to visit the Morning Star construction site – Not to have an existential crisis.

The time on his phone said 7.00AM. He had barely gotten four hours of sleep. Of course, he was used to being sleep deprived and surviving on coffee. It’s not like he got to sleep peacefully for eight hours every other day. But yesterday, with all the travelling, ignoring, fighting and pretending, it had been particularly taxing – physically and emotionally.

If he wanted to have a chat with Mr. Starkweather as planned, then he needed to get out of bed right now. With an unnecessarily dramatic sigh, he got off the bunk and walked towards his backpack to fish out his clothes. For some reason, the thought of clothes reminded him of silk shirts which reminded him of Magnus Bane.

He whipped his head around, suddenly remembering that there was another man in the room. He didn’t want Bane to see him like this, in his night clothes and hair looking like a nest built by a very blind bird. But the other man was still sleeping.

The sight in front of him was not what he expected. He had expected The Magnus Bane to sleep like a king – rigidly lying on the bed, with his hands folded neatly on his chest. He was expecting him to be wearing silk pajamas and covered in a gold blanket – with that annoying smirk of his on his face. He expected the other man to look regal with his carefully applied makeup and perfectly styled hair. 

The man in front of him did not look regal or kingly. He looked…cute? He was curled into a fetal position. He was wearing white pajamas with pineapples. There was no gold blanket. He was cocooned in his mother’s blue scarf; his hands clutching them tightly even in his sleep. There was no makeup on his face and his dark hair was all over the place.

Alec realized that the other man did not look tough or stressed or cold or serious – which is what he imagined Bane would look like, even while sleeping. But in reality, he looked vulnerable, relaxed, young – and even beautiful.

Beau-

What the fuck?

Okay, not beautiful or cute. He looked like a little chipmunk curled up in silk. And chipmunks were not cute! 

Right?

He grabbed his phone from the bed and quickly Googled ‘chipmunks sleeping’.

GODDAMNIT!

He compared the man in front of him to the pictures on the phone.

No. No. No. Not a chipmunk. Not chipmunk. Magnus Bane was not a chipmunk! He was a machine of chaos and destruction!

“Not a chipmunk!”  he groaned out loud in frustration.

The other man probably heard him since he squeaked in his sleep – he actually fucking squeaked! He didn’t think Magnus Bane could squeak! He assumed the other man always just roared like a lion.

His nose scrunched up and there was a soft smile on his face and then he was asleep again.

“Not a chipmunk!” Alec mumbled to himself again and literally bolted to the bathroom.

There was an odd feeling in his chest. It was probably because he wasn’t used to this. He had never shared a room with anyone other than his siblings. Even at the boarding school, he had lived with Jace. So, this was new. This certainly had to be the reason why was acting all weird and jumpy.

He honestly did not know what had come over him last night –or  today morning actually. He had already been on his way to the entrance, calling Hodge to borrow his car, by the time he realized he was going to get the scarf back.

The fact that he hadn’t even thought about how to get it back was just ridiculous. He had walked into the tiny coffee shop at midnight – literally! – and had approached the lady without a plan.

“Oh! I was hoping someone would come back for this! Such a pretty little thing!” She had cooed, as she gave the scarf back, which was neatly folded.

“Thank you. I am so sorry for the trouble,” Alec had apologized. He wanted to apologize for breaking into her shop as well, but realized that would be a bad decision.

“No worries, darling,” she had smiled at him genuinely, “I could say this was special. Your wife must be really worried.”

Oh dear. There was nothing more infuriating than being mistaken for a heterosexual. 

“I am not married,” he had replied, correcting her.

“Oh, I am sorry,” the coffee lady had chuckled, “Your girlfriend then.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend either,” he had said, correct her again.

He remembered spotting the exact second in which the penny had dropped.

“Your boyfriend then,” she had smiled, the genuineness still intact.

This time though, he hadn’t corrected her. He could have told her that it wasn’t his boyfriend. He could have told her that the scarf belong to his sister. But he hadn’t.

He was ashamed to admit that it had felt nice. He had always wanted to refer to someone as his boyfriend. He wanted to introduce the man he loved as his boyfriend. It is something he had always wanted ever since he realized that he was interested in boys.

“Alec, we are going for drinks! Are you coming?” someone would ask one day.

“Sorry, not today. I am hanging out with my boyfriend,” he would reply happily.

“Alec, why were you not at work yesterday?” someone would ask one day.

“I was taking care of my boyfriend. He is sick,” he would reply proudly.

Unfortunately for him, these were just scenarios that he would play again and again in his head.

That’s all they were and ever will be. Imaginary scenarios.

So, when the lady had assumed that it was his boyfriend’s scarf, he hadn’t corrected her. He couldn't. Maybe this is all he will get in this lifetime. It felt nice to have a boyfriend, even if it was Magnus Fucking Bane.

“He is a lucky man,” the women had said, bringing him out of his sad reverie.

“Pardon?”

“Your boyfriend,” she had clarified, “He is a lucky man. You came back in the middle of the night to get his scarf. You must love him very much.”

Um, who did this coffee lady think she is?

He had just thanked her again and had fled from the coffee shop before she could make any other ridiculous assumptions.

Him? Magnus Bane’s boyfriend? Ridiculous.

He couldn’t imagine being in love with someone like Magnus Bane.

The only reason he had returned to get the scarf was simply because it had been the right thing to do at the time. It was partly his fault Bane had lost the scarf – especially since it was mostly his fault they were at the coffee shop in the first place.

He hadn’t liked the way the other man looked when he had realized the scarf was abandoned. There was something…off. He had never seen him so vulnerable or scared or broken. It felt wrong to see him like that, to see him experience something so personal. He didn’t want that look to linger on his face for any longer.

Because they had the meeting! Only because they had a meeting to attend and he didn’t want Bane to be all sad and moody. It would be bad for business.

He finished his shower and looked at himself in the mirror. I just need to get through today without any incidents, he reminded himself. He let out a deep breath and inhaled a strong scent of…sandalwood.

Bane.

Even the bathroom smelled like him.

There was an array of bottles of makeup and toiletries the other man had neatly arranged on the slab. He peered at some of the labels and realized that this was not his department. He could never understand what a skin toner was or why it had to be cucumber flavored.

When he looked for his clothes, he realized he had never picked them out or brought them with him to the bathroom after his little chipmunk crisis. Fantastic!

He wrapped the towel around himself and walked out of the bathroom to get his clothes. He was hoping the other man would be still asleep, but Bane was sitting up on his bed – still cocooned in his scarf – and was preoccupied with his phone.

Bane looked up at the sound of Alec shuffling through the bag. He looked stunned and his eyes were filled with disbelief. It looked like he had forgotten that he had a temporary roommate. It was only then he realized that the other man is currently staring at his naked chest. A flush spread across Alec’s face involuntarily when he realized that he was just wearing a towel.

Obviously Bane had seen a shirtless man before, if his reputation was anything to go by. But why was he staring like that? It was as if he hadn’t expected Alec to have a chest at all.

Odd.

Then it suddenly hit him that maybe he was not the type of man Magnus Bane was used to. Alec had come to notice that he had more chest hair than most. He wasn’t self-conscious about his hairy chest or anything, well not until now.

The other man probably had a hairless chest that was tan, soft and smooth - especially with all those oils and moisturizers he kept in the bathroom. So, it made sense that the man sitting on the bed, whose mouth was slightly open now, was shocked – and probably disgusted – by his lack of personal grooming. He shook his head and let it go because he didn’t want to lower his self-esteem unnecessary and he certainly didn’t want to think about Bane applying moisturizer on his chest.

“Are you going to use the washroom?” Alec inquired, breaking the awkward silence.

“Um.”

“If you are, I can change here,” he explained further, because Bane looked slightly lost to be honest.

“Uh.”

“Are you okay?” he asked moving towards the other man. Maybe he was still upset over what happened last night?

Bane literally jumped away from him, putting more distance between the two of them. Jeez, fine. No need to be an asshole about the chest hair thing.

“I, uh, yeah. I need to water my head. I mean, I need to shower. Bye.”

The sprinted into the bathroom and locked the door. Okay then. Not weird at all.

He was buttoning up his shirt when he heard his phone ring. Mom.

“Good morning, mother!” he greeted her as he answered the phone.

“Did you meet Hodge yet?”

Okay. Not a good morning then.

“I met him yesterday when I arrived. But I didn’t get the chance to talk in detail. It was late. But I was hoping to catch him before breakfast.”

“Good. You need to learn everything there is about this project and Morning Star. Hodge and his team have been working with Morning Star for a long time now. So, he would be a good resource. Make sure the Bane boy is not there when you talk to him.”

Hmmm.

“But if we are doing this project together with Edom, shouldn’t he be there too?”

“Alec, don’t be so naïve!” his mother scolded, “We might be working with them right now. But what about the next Morning Star project? We will have to fight Edom for it. We need to think ahead. You need to think ahead – Especially with Edom trying to snatch everything from us. It never hurts to be prepared. Talk to Hodge.”

This was true. If this project works out – when, not if – he would require a strong network in order to rebuild Idris. It doesn’t matter if they do a great job with this one. Edom and Idris are always going to be competitors and Magnus Bane did not look like a quitter. Alec supposed some recon couldn’t hurt.

“Of course, mother. I’ll talk to him right away.”

The line went dead on the other end and he realized she had hung up on him. Before he could feel sorry for himself, his phone started to ring again. He noticed the caller ID and smiled to himself.

“Did you reach Indiana safely?”

“Yes.” A relieved sigh.

“Did you sleep well?”

“Somewhat.” An eye roll.

“Do you miss me?”

“Very much.” A fond laugh.

“I miss you too.”

“Izzy, it’s only been a day,” he reminded his sister.

“23 hours. But you know…” she drawled.

He knows. It didn’t matter if it was a day or an hour, they always missed each other – It was the same with Jace. They had spent so much time together growing up and so always worried when one of them was away.

“Mom told me she was going to call you in the morning. All good?” she inquired. Has he mentioned how much he loves his sister?

“All good. I am getting ready for the meeting with Hodge.”

“Where is Magnus?”

Ah, right. These two are buddies or whatever now.

“He is taking a shower.”

“OH MY GOD! HE IS IN YOUR ROOM?”

“No.”

“OH MY GOD! ARE YOU IN HIS ROOM?”

“No.”

“Alexander Gideon Lightwood! You will tell me what the hell is happening over there and you will tell me right now!”

“Nothing is happening. Our accommodation got fucked. So, we had to share a room.”

“OH MY GOD THEY WERE ROOMMATES!”

It was at moments such as this that he really missed Jace.

“Isabelle, calm down!” he chastised her.

“What are you wearing?”

“Izzy!”

“Are you wearing a white shirt? You must wear the light blue one. The one with the stripes. Wear the light blue shirt, Alec!!”

“I didn’t even pack th-”

“I packed it for you. Wear it!”

This meddling menace!

“Izzy, I already put on the white shirt. I am not changing again!”

Why does it matter what colour the shirt is? Clothes are just there to cover the body and for warmth. He honestly didn’t understand why people worried about the colour or the pattern or the fabric. It seemed quite pointless to him.

“Because! People notice these things!”

“I have to go,” he told her, although he didn’t really have to.

“Alright. Alright. Have fun with your new roommate. Wink wink.”

“Did you just say ‘wink wink’?”

“Yes, I did. Because you can’t see me winking right now.”

He was pretty sure he could. He could see the mischievous smirk on her face too. He realized that he wouldn’t be here, with Bane, if not for his sister’s meddling. He didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

“Stop it. Fraternizing with Downworlders is your thing,” he reminded her.

“We all have our things, don’t we?” she teased.

Izzy was one of those Shadowhunters who was born to break the rules. Jace belong in the same category – even Max! Their adventurous and reckless spirit was one of the reasons he often wondered whether he was adopted. If he didn’t have a striking resemblance to his mother, he would have totally bought it.

Unlike his siblings, he had always been careful, cautious and organized. The most adventurous Alec had been was when he ordered a vanilla latte at Starbucks instead of his usual black coffee. He had immediately regretted that decision and had accepted that some people were not meant to live adventurous lives.

But he had always wondered whether his rule-following personality had emerged because he didn’t really have a choice. He wondered, not for the first time, if he would be the same Alec if he didn’t have to look out for his siblings or compensate for them to please their parents.

Well, he’ll never know. This is who he was now and there was no changing it.

“I love you,” he said hoping to end the call and his conversation.

“Love you too,” she chirped back.

He heard her shout ‘get some’ before he ended the call but decided to ignore it.

Isabelle has had multiple relationships with Downworlders before. She was even dating this guy - until just a couple of weeks ago - who always seemed stoned 24 hours a day. Alec was pretty sure he was involved in some sort of shady Downworld drug business and was glad she had broken up with him.

Of course, their parents – especially their mom – did not approve of her relationships. But there was no stopping Isabelle Lightwood. But deep down he knew they didn’t care what she did because she wasn’t the face of Idris Incorporated, it was him.

So, unlike him, his sister had the independence – and courage – to follow her heart.

Although it pained him a little, he was happy for her. It really sucked to not have the things you desired deep in your heart. It really sucked. He was glad his sister didn’t have to experience that kind of pain. So, if she wanted to date questionable men from the Downworld, well that was her choice. Alec didn’t have that sort of luxury. He could never date a Downworlder in his life – nor could he ever date a man.

Wow. What a depressing way to start the morning. He decided to repress his thoughts and go meet Hodge. The man had told him last night to come straight to the construction site. He was out of the door, when he caught his reflection in the window.

“Goddamnit, Izzy!” he cursed, as he went back to the room to change his shirt.

By the time he got there, Hodge was waiting for him on the seventh floor of the building, overseeing the construction workers. He discussed the project at length with the older man, who was indeed a useful resource. He advised Alec to be on Sebastian’s good side as he would be a very good ally for Idris.

“We Shadowhunters need to look out for each other,” the man had advised him.

There was something oddly familiar about the other man, but he couldn't really put his finger on it. He decided to go have breakfast when the other man stared into his face and smiled fondly.

“You look so much like your mother,” he pointed out.

That is not something he was used to hearing out loud. Izzy was the one who looked like their mother. Not him.

“Did you know her well?” he asked, his curiosity getting the best of him.

“Long time ago,” he replied, his voice suddenly nostalgic, “I used to work with your parents back in Angel Square.”

Oh. He didn’t know that. Maybe he had seen the man when he was younger or something.

“Really? They never mentioned that you-”

“Like I said, it was a long time ago,” he said with a tight smile. Something told him that he shouldn’t push the matter any further.

As he reached the cafeteria, he saw Bane sitting alone in one of the tables. Alec served himself some pancakes, eggs and bacon as he was starving since he barely ate anything yesterday. He tried to go sit in a corner somewhere, but it was too late as his legs were already taking him towards Bane’s table.

The look of surprise on the other man’s face as Alec sat down in front of him was frankly insulting. It was as if he believed Alec would not share a table with him.

“I ordered you some coffee,” Bane informed him, pointing at the hot mug in front of him.

COFFEE!!!

Now it was his turn to be surprised. Now why would he do that?

“Didn’t want you breaking into the kitchen,” the other man explained, a small smirk playing on his lips.

“You were the one who broke in!” he exclaimed in response.

“And you didn’t stop me,” the other man pointed out, “Some Shadowhunter you are.”

Stop talking to him. Stop talking to him. Stop talking to him.

As Alec sipped on his coffee, he noticed that the other man was wearing a plain black shirt. Of course, there was the usual abundance of jewelry and the makeup was on point.

But what happened to the si-

“You’re not wearing silk,” Alec blurted out.

Oh, for fuck’s sake! This is why he shouldn’t open his mouth before having coffee.

Bane looked down at himself and quirked an eyebrow. “Silk? In this climate? Did you forget that we are in Indiana?”

No. But silk shirts look nicer…

Not that there was anything wrong with the black cotton shirt the other man wearing right now. It fit him perfectly – especially around his biceps. Unlike Alec, the other man did not have any water stains on his shirt.

“How is your hair dry even after a shower?”

Apparently his brain to mouth filter did not work in Indiana.

“Uh, I used the hair dryer?” the other man replied, his face genuinely confused.

But there was no hair dryer in the bathroom! Alec would have noticed and definitely used it to get his unruly hair under control.

“You brought your own hair dryer?” he inquired, once it hit him.

“Of course I brought my own hair dryer. What kind of animal travels without a hair dryer?” the other man questioned seriously.

Alec just quietly sipped on his coffee and ate his pancakes instead of responding. It wasn’t long before the other man picked up the conversation again.

“You, uh, you are not wearing your usual white shirt.”

People do notice these things!

“Izzy,” he said in the way of an explanation.

The other man smiled fondly at the mention of his sister's name.

What was happening right now? Why are they smiling? Why are they talking? Why are they sitting at the same table? What the actual fuck is happening?

Thankfully, his internal crisis was interrupted when his phone rang again. He excused himself from the table and walked over to refill his coffee mug.

“Hey, Lydia!”

“Hey! How is Indiana?”

“Hot,” he replied in a frustrated tone.

“Good,” she laughed, “You need to get some tan.”

“Very funny,” he scoffed.

“I am actually serious,” she said, her voice slightly concerned, “I called to remind you about the photos. Make sure to ask Hodge for any material.”

Lydia Branwell was one of his closest friends as well as the Head of Marketing at Idris. Similar to Alec, she was constantly preoccupied with her work and was always thinking about developing their company.

“I already asked him. He should mail you some material by the end of today.”

“Great,” she replied and there was an awkward silence, “Are you...having fun?”

“What is it with you people? I am here for work, not on vacation!” he retorted, trying not to sound as annoyed as he felt.

“I heard you are travelling with Magnus Bane. I’m sure you are having a blast,” she teased.

“Yeah, right. He is so much fun,” he gushed sarcastically, rolling his eyes and walking back to the table.

“I am just saying, he might be able to help you meet some pretty girls in Indiana.”

He let out a deep sigh. Again, not a hetrosexual. 

Alec wanted to tell her that even if he did meet any, his idea of fun did not involve pretty girls. But instead he told he was being called away and cut the call short.

He honestly didn’t know how Lydia would react if she knew the truth. He knew for a fact that she liked him, more than just as a friend. He might be gay but he is not stupid. He tried his best to stay away from her to make sure she won’t waste her time on him. But his parents kept pairing them up for all sorts of projects. Alec knew their intentions behind these unnecessary 'team efforts', but he couldn’t really refuse without a valid reason.

It was really hard to be in the closet when you have an extremely nosy family who was constantly curious about your personal life.

He sat down on the table and started chugging on his coffee again.

“Christ! How much coffee do you need to survive?” Bane marvelled.

A lot.

He remembered the scene he had created last night out of caffeine deprivation and cringed internally. He hadn’t meant to unleash the caffeine monster on the other man. But he had barely had anything to eat the whole day and his body had started  to act out.

When he was growing up, Alec had to pull plenty of all-nighters. It started when he was around fifteen, when he had to babysit Max. He didn’t trust their nanny to watch his brother, so Alec had just chugged endless mugs of coffee and kept himself awake to look after their brother. Then in university, he had spent most nights studying - thanks to the coffee machine in his dorm room - to make sure he passed with flying colours. Once he started working at Idris, well…sleep was not really an option after that.

For the last few years, he had religiously studied every single project, pulling late nights at the office, to make sure his parents would trust him with the company. Coffee had become his best friend and reason for his survival for the last decade. So now, even when he didn’t really need it, he kind of needed it. His body was so used to running on caffeine; he couldn’t go for too long without it. Izzy had said he has a problem but he assured that it is fine. It certainly wasn’t fine, but whatever.

He just shrugged at the other man’s remark and kept drinking. Once they finished breakfast, they moved on with the itinerary. Everything went smoothly. They met the crew first and conducted a focus group discussion to understand more about their experiences in working with Morning Star. Everyone seemed to be happy working for Sebastian – a bit too happy if you ask him.

Then they had spent the rest of the morning studying the Indiana timeline and discussing their proposed project timeline with Hodge. Even the older man had agreed that the schedule was way too tight for them to finish the project, but had encouraged them not to give up since it would be easier considering the construction was being handled by two companies instead of one.

Lunch was relatively quiet. He didn’t have to make small talk with Bane and was luckily able to avoid any awkwardness since they had lunch with several members from the Indiana team. They had spent the afternoon comparing budgets and resources with the Indiana project. So far, everything seemed fine. Hodge seemed to be very impressed with their work and commended them on making good judgment with the recruitment.

Their evening was mostly free, so they had visited the construction itself to oversee the work. Alec loved being at construction sites. Even though he worked for a construction company that built towers for a living, he didn’t get to spend much time on the site. Unlike Jace, who worked at the site itself, his job was mostly behind the desk, making important and difficult decisions. He had missed this - the noises, the sweat, the danger and even the dust.

By the time their day ended, Hodge suggested that they should all have some celebratory drinks before they left tomorrow morning. Alec was not the kind of person who did ‘celebratory drinks’ but Bane had jumped at the invitation of alcohol – surprise surprise – and he didn’t really have a choice after that.

So they went back to the room to refresh themselves. Bane ran off somewhere with his camera while Alec lied down on the bed and began to ponder on this bizarre day. He had just spent the entire day – two if you count yesterday – with a Downworlder. While he did feel annoyed at the other man’s antics, he did not feel unsafe. He had been warned his entire life that Downworlders are dangerous and Shadowhunters should never let their guard down in the presence of one.

But with the other man, it hadn’t felt that way. Alec didn’t even feel the need to put up his guard, let alone worry about letting it down. He didn’t feel unsafe or threatened. He felt relaxed. He felt like himself.

Maybe Downworlders were not as disastrous as everyone perceived them to be. Maybe Downworlders were not prejudiced or judgmental. Maybe they were just misunderstood.

“Let’s go!” Bane called out from the door as he returned to the room.

Alec realized he had been sleeping on the lower bunk, which temporarily belonged to the other man, and quickly followed behind – desperately hoping the other man hadn’t noticed.

As they walked past the construction site and towards the little pub close by, the other man suddenly spoke up.

“Hey, you wanna to hear a construction joke?”

“If you say you are working on it, I will throw a bucket of cement at you.”

The other man seemed genuinely surprised by this reply. “Goodness, Lightwood! I didn’t think you knew any jokes.”

“You forget that Jace is my brother,” Alec reminded him.

The other man pouted at that. “Hmmm. The joke is ruined now. You see, I was building it up perfectly!”

“I am sure you would have nailed it.”

Bane stared at him for a moment and both of them broke into laughter like a couple of teenagers. Alec couldn’t remember the last time he laughed with someone like that – some other than his siblings.

He looked so different when he laughed. His shoulders seemed to relax and his eyes crinkled around the corner. He laughed with his entire body and not just his mouth. Throughout the last two days, he had come to learn that Magnus Bane, the real one, was different than the man he pictured in his head. It was the little things that spoke so much about him. 

The way he subtly kept checking out his own reflection in any mirror he passed, the way he bobbed his head happily whenever a Queen song played on the shuffle, the way he scrunched his face when he noticed Alec chugging coffee, the way he fiddled with his necklaces when he was nervous, the way his hair was just like every other mundane person in the morning, the way his eyes sparked up when saw the gray kitten running around the construction site. It was just the little things.

Not that Alec fucking noticed any of this. Not at all. 

Both of them abruptly stopped laughing when they realized that this was extremely odd. Alec picked up the pace and walked towards the pub faster. As he walked into the small but cozy establishment, he noticed a familiar presence and automatically felt immensely relieved.

“ALEC!!!”

“UNDERHILL!!”

The blonde man enveloped him into a tight hug and Alec wished he could stay in that embrace forever. It felt steady and familiar – unlike everything else he has been feeling for the past couple of days.

“Whoah, man! Calm down! You okay?” Underhill asked, scanning his face with concern.

“Yeah. Yeah, I am fine. I just…I didn’t expect to see you here,” he explained, reluctantly letting the other man go.

Underhill was about to say something when the door opened and Bane walked in.

“Holy shit! It’s Magnus Bane!” Underhill swore under his breath. "Dude! You need to introduce me. Can you? Please? I'll even give you my Starbucks coupon!"

Isabelle had once called Bane the Beyoncé of Downworlders - Maybe she wasn't wrong. 

"By the angel, Andrew! Calm down!" he chastised his friend. 

"Fuck it. I'll do it myself!" his friend announced and walked right past him towards the bar with Alec reluctantly at his heels.

Underhill had jumped at the opportunity to work on the Morning Star project when Alec mentioned that they are collaborating with Edom. The man had been obsessed with Magnus Bane since forever and it was no surprise that he was acting like a deranged fangirl right now.

“Mr. Bane! It is so nice to meet you in person. I am Andrew Underhill.”

Bane shamelessly scanned the man in front of him and smiled approvingly. “Ah, the infamous architect. I hope Lorenzo is not giving you any trouble.”

Underhill blushed – what the fuck – and shook his head, “No. His ideas are so innovative. He is a nice guy actually.”

“Nice guy? Are you sure we are talking about the same person?” Magnus joked and they both broke into laughter.

Alec did not like the feeling in his stomach. He knew exactly what it was and he hated it more than anything – jealousy.

He didn’t know who he was jealous of, but he couldn’t stand and just watch it. He sat down on a stool and ordered himself a scotch. He took out his phone and decided to reply to some emails instead of partaking in whatever the hell was happening next to him.

He was on his second around by the time his friend and his foe remembered his presence. They were both drinking martinis and were still heavily engrossed in their conversation about Lorenzo and some self-portraits or something.

"Alec! Get off your phone! Are you texting Lydia?" his friend giggled.

For the hundredth time! Not. A. Fucking. Heterosexual.

He ignored the both of them and they went back to their conversation - just like that. Some friend and business partner he had. 

“I really wanted to be involved in the Blackthorn project,” Underhill confessed after another couple of drinks, his voice disappointed, “But I am glad Mr. Rey is handling it. He seems to know what he is doing.”

The Downworlder regarded his friend with a curious look, it was as if he was calculating something in his head.

“Well, if you still want to, I can talk to Helen about it. We wouldn’t mind having you as an additional consult during the designing phase,” he offered.

“Really?” Underhill beamed, almost falling off his stool.

“Of course,” Bane replied and smiled fondly at his friend. It was that smile, the same smile he had given Izzy.

So, apparently Bane was okay with fraternizing with Shadowhunters, as long as they were handsome, blonde and not Alec Lightwood. He remembered how adamant Bane had been on making the Blackthorn project a Downworlder one. Now he had just accepted to hire Underhill as a special consultant out of the blue.

Wow. Talk about work ethic.

“Are you sure, Mr. Bane?” his friend questioned anxiously.

“Yes, I am. You seem to be quite passionate about this project in particular and we could definitely do with an expert consult. Don’t tell Lorenzo,” he chuckled.

Underhill chuckled with him and Alec wanted to throw up in his mouth.

“That is fantastic. I can’t tell you how glad I am right now. I really wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of a project that specifically helped the LGBT community. This is great! I am working as a consultant for Mr. Starkweather right now. I should be able to meet up with Lorenzo sometime next week. Would that be okay?”

“Sure. Here is my personal number,” Bane replied as he gave him his card, “Drop me a text and I will put you in touch with Catarina. She will sort out of the rest.”

Underhill got off the stool and hugged the other man tightly. “I have…This project means a lot to me. Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Bane.”

“Please, call me Magnus,” the other man requested fondly as he hugged him back.

Magnus.

Alec got off the stool abruptly. He has had enough.

“I am not feeling well. I am going back to the room,” He told no one in particular and started walking towards the exit. He swayed slightly because of the alcohol but he wasn’t drunk enough to need an escort. He heard Underhill calling him from the background but kept walking anyway.

He has had fucking enough.

He got the room and flopped down on the bottom bunk face first. The jealousy had turned into anger. He didn’t know why or how, but he was fuming underneath and he needed to get it out. He needed Izzy or Jace. He picked up the phone to call them when Bane barged into the room.

“Are you alright? You seemed sick,” he inquired, his voice wavering slightly.

Am I alright? Why the fuck do you care?

“Yes, I am fine,” he replied sharply, not bothering to raise his head from the pillow.

“Okaaaay,” the other man dragged, “I am going to go back then.”

“Good for you,” he mumbled under his breath.

Stop talking. Stop talking right now.

“What was that?” the other man queried, opening the door and coming back into the room.

“I said, good for you!” Alec fumed, as he turned around on the bed.

The other man looked like he was going to retort something in response, but closed the door and moved closer to the bed instead.

“Are you sure you are alright? Do you need...coffee?”

“What I want is for you to leave!,” he snapped at the Downworlder.

His roommate looked utterly taken back at his outburst. He blinked at him a couple of times, crossed his arms defensively and regarded him with a cold expression. And here he is! The Magnus Bane he knew.

“What is wrong with you?”

“Why did you hire Underhill as a consultant for the Blackthorn project?”

“What?” the other man asked confusedly, “What does that have-”

“WHY?”

Stop talking, Alec. Stop fucking talking right now.

“Because he is g-“ the other man stopped abruptly. He looked at Alec square in the eye and released a deep breath. “Because the Blackthorn project is important to him.”

“It was important to me too!” he argued, now sitting up on the bed.

“You wanted it so Idris can profit from it.”

“You think Underhill is going to do this for free?”

“Actually, Andrew offered to. Not everyone is money-minded like the Lightwoods!” Bane snapped at him.

Andrew.

“Well, I hope you and Andrew have fun then,” he sneered.

The other man scoffed at him in disbelief, “Oh my god. Are you jealous? I can't believe this. You straight men seriousl-”

“I AM GAY!!!”

He didn’t know if it was the alcohol or the site visit or Underhill or the man in front of him or just the frustration of being mistaken as a hetrosexual again for the millionth time...He couldn’t hold it in. He couldn’t tolerate one more personal calling him straight. He couldn't pretend tonight. He just couldn’t.

“I-Uh, You,” the other man stammered.

“What? Nothing to say?” Allec challenged, still not quite believing that he just came out to Magnus Bane.

The other man sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Being in the closet does not give you the right to be an asshole to other people, Lightwood.”

“Being out and proud doesn't give you the right to be an asshole either.”

“I was not being an asshole! I was trying to be helpful! You are the-”

“Oh, it’s always us. It’s always Shadowhunters who have done something wrong. We made one mistake and you have been holding it over our head ever since then!”

The other man stumbled backwards and held on to the wall. “A mistake? You think the riot was a mistake? Your MISTAKE cost us everything! Everything that is happening to you has nothing to do with us. It is not my fault that you are in the closet. It is your people who have cornered you into this position!”

And just like that, the walls went up. Never let your guard down with a Downworlder, Alec. His mother had been right.

“My people have a way of living. There are rules and traditions to consider. We don’t live like Downworlders. We don’t live as slaves to our emotions!”

“You are living a lie!” Bane yelled at him in frustration.

Something in Alec broke then. He was holding it together for so many years and it just broke.

“YOU THINK I WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS?” He screamed at the other man.

“You think I want to pretend every single day? You think I want to marry a woman? You think I want to live my entire life without kissing another man? Loving another man? You think I want to spend the rest of my life downloading and deleting Grindr? Not everyone can afford to be open and out like you. Not all of us have that privilege.”

The other man eyes softened at that. He approached him slowly, like he would approach a dangerous animal in the jungle.

“The freedom to love who you want and to be yourself is not a privilege. It is your right as a human being,” the other man explained softly, “I understand what you are going through. I know how you feel.”

“Do you?” he seethed, because how could he ever know?

“All you ever do is flaunt your sexuality around. You flirt, you play, you joke. You exploit your sexuality for your own gain. You have no idea what it feels like to hide. To be afraid.”

The other man curled his palms into a fist and released a deep breath. “I have lived my entire life in fear. I didn’t know how or when I will get killed. I was afraid, I still am, that one day I will get killed just because I am from the wrong side of town. So, trust me when I say that I do know how you feel.”

Alec could not help but roll his eyes at that. “There you go again, playing your Downworlder card. Why do you always have to make everything about yourself? Homophobia and racism are not the same thing!”

“How is it not the same thing?”Bane growled at him now. “I am being judged and discriminated because of who I am as a person. I was born as a Downworlder. It is who I am. I can’t help it. Just like you can’t help who you are. I am being ostracized for a part of me that I cannot control. How is that different from what you are going through?”

Was it? Was he? He didn’t know. He couldn’t think right now. It was all too much. This is too much. This is not how his first coming out was supposed to go. No, he was never supposed to come out. No one was supposed to know - certainly not the man in front of him.

“It is alright,” the other man reassured, “You will be in charge of Idris soon. You can fix i-”

The need to defend his family and their legacy surged up inside him involuntarily, “There is nothing wrong with Idris. We may not be queer-friendly but-”

“Stop saying ‘not queer-friendly’, Lightwood!” the other man screamed, “It’s called homophobia. That is what your company is. It’s homophobic!”

“We are n-”

"If you insist on disavowing that which is ugly about what you do, you will never learn from your mistakes."

He moved closer to the bed and spoke in a soft voice, as if he was talking to a child.

“But you can change all of this. You can talk to your parents. You can make Idris better. You can change the world for other people like-”

Why? Why did they keep doing this to him? Why did everyone expect him to fix everything? His parents. His siblings. His peers. Now even Magnus Bane. They all expected him to clean up the mess someone else created. It wasn't his fucking responsibility! Why can't they see that?

He let out a calming breath and decided to end this conversation. 

“Listen, it’s a great thing that you are out and happy. But not all of us have that future. If I decide to stay in the closet for the rest of my life, that is my choice. Mine! You have to stop holding people accountable according to your ridiculous standards”

The other man barked out a laugh at that. “Ridiculous standards? Being happy and free is not a ridiculous standard! I am saying this for your own good."

"Why do YOU care what I do?"

"Because you are a fucking Lightwood. You have the power, the influence, the opportunity to make the changes your people desperately need. It is your respons-"

"It is NOT my responsibility to change anything! It is what it is."

The man in front of him paled at the response, shaking his head in disbelief. "So, you are going to become the CEO of Idris and just…do nothing? You are not going to make any changes to your policies?”

Alec got up from the bed and marched up to the other man. “How I choose to run MY company is none of your goddamn business.”

“But what about other queer people? Queer Shadowhunters? What about Andr-“ the man stopped, “You can make a difference. You can-”

He still didn't understand, did he? He could never understand. No one ever does.

“I have worked my entire life for this position. I have sacrificed everything to become the CEO of Idris. If I…When they…If they get to know…I will never be able to run Idris. Everything I have ever wanted…I will lose all of it.”

He would lose his job. His parents. His siblings. His future. His everything.

There was something swimming in the other man’s eyes. Something other than anger and frustration. Alec recognized it as disappointment. Magnus Bane was disappointed in him. Great. This is exactly what he expected to happen if ever came out to anyone. Just fucking great. 

The other man moved away from him now, as if he felt disgusted to stand in Alec's presence.

“You know….I…I thought you were different. I thought you cared for someone other than yourself. But guess I was wrong. You are just another Shadowhunter who is nothing but selfish. You are only concerned with your own survival. To hell with everyone else, right?”

He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream. He wanted to ask the man how to help other people without completely destroying himself. But this throat was closed up. There were no more words. Bane walked to the door and opened it halfway and looked back. There was  a sad smile on his face, a look he had never seen before.

“You are worse than your parents, Alec Lightwood. Their actions are influenced by their bigotry and ignorance. But you…You know exactly what it feels like to be forced to live as someone else. You know how much it hurts. But you still choose to do nothing about it. Shame on you.”

He slammed the door loudly behind him and walked away.

Alec tried to get his breathing under control. He tried to control the tears that were streaming down his face. He tried to stop his hands from shaking. He sat down on the bed and put his head between his hands.

All he ever wanted was to be a better person. He wanted to be better than his parents. He wanted to be a better Shadowhunter. He wanted to be a better role model for his siblings. He had tried everything to achieve that and yet here he was.

Was he really a worse person than his parents? Was he really that despicable?

He wiped away the tears and took a deep breath in. His mother was right. Downworlders were dangerous. They were nothing but prejudiced, manipulative assholes with a holier than thou attitude. How was Magnus Bane to judge him? What right did Magnus Bane have to judge his actions? Who the fuck does he think he is?

He picked up his phone and dialed the number angrily.

“Mr. Lightwood,” the voice on the other end answered nervously, “It is late. Is everyth-”

“I need you to book me a flight back to New York. The very next one from Indianapolis. I am leaving for the airport right now.”

He had to go. He had to leave. He couldn’t stay here any longer.

“Is everything alright? Is Magnus-”

“Just do as your told, Ms. Fairchild,” Alec interrupted her, “Text me the details once you are done with the booking.”

He ended the call, packed his things, booked an uber and left for the airport without another word. He texted Hodge he had to leave immediately for a work emergency.

Fuck Indiana and Fuck Magnus Bane.

He never wanted to see that man's face again.

 

Chapter Text

He didn’t like it. He didn’t like it one bit. Magnus Bane was not used to feeling like this – chaotic, out of control and guilty.

The last one was something he was not used to at all. The feeling rested on his chest, like one of those extremely uncomfortable sleeping positions you need to resort to when you are flying coach. He wanted nothing more than to make it go away. But how?

If Catarina was here, she would have said something like ‘Do the obvious thing, Magnus. Apologize to him.’ He could apologize to Lightwood, but why should he? It was the other man who had acted like an asshole and had decided to continue to act like one. So, why the hell should Magnus apologize to him?

But if the Shadowhunter was so wrong and if what he did was so despicable, then why did Magnus feel the way he did right now? Why had he not moved on from the disaster in Indiana?

It has been three days since he returned to New York and four days since he last saw or spoke to Alec Lightwood. All correspondence between Idris and Edom was taken over by Simon and Isabelle – who actually seemed to be working well together. Well, good for them!

Of course, this was going to be a problem if Sebastian found out. Magnus did not want to seem unprofessional or petty, but for some reason Lightwood seemed to bring out the worst in him.

He had not, under any circumstance, expected Alec Lightwood to be gay. He didn’t look or act like it – Not there was a particular way to look or act gay. Nothing about him set off Magnus’ gaydar – which until today something he was quite proud of.

The fact that Lightwood was gay did not change the way he felt about the other man at all. Because unfortunately, the other man was still an arrogant prick.

But that doesn’t mean Magnus didn’t feel for him. When Lightwood had come out to him in Indiana, there was a tiny part of Magnus that did feel sorry for him. No one deserved to come out that way - out of anger and frustration. Like a pressure cooker going off cause you can't hold it in anymore.

But Magnus couldn’t just ignore the fact that the heir to one of the biggest companies in Angel Square decided to be selfish. He didn’t know why he was surprised. It’s not like Shadowhunters are known for their selfless personality.

The drive back from Indiana had been weirdly quiet. Of course, even the ride to Indiana had been quiet despite having a travelling companion. But the quietness that came with Alec Lightwood was different – it felt oddly comfortable, if not slightly awkward. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. The drive had been stress-free without Alec Lightwood and his antics. There were no spontaneous coffee stops or fights at gas stations or out of tune humming. There was nothing. It had been…great.

For the sake of being polite – and most importantly for retaining the contract – Magnus briefly considered sending the other man an email. Maybe he didn’t have to apologize. Maybe they will just forget about the whole thing and move on. The Shadowhunters seemed to be very good at that. His mind took a quick detour to the riots but Magnus, thanks to years of practice and therapy, quickly brought himself back to the present.

But then again, why did Magnus have to reach out first? Lightwood had been the one to start the whole drama, so maybe he should apologize first. Or talk. Or whatever. What has he been doing for the last three days? What has got him so occupied that his sister had to take over all his responsibilities? Was he okay?

The last Magnus saw him, the man was full of rage - and alcohol. Did he even return to New York safely? Did something happen? Well, if it did, then surely they would have informed him, right? Magnus was his…project partner and therefore had every right to know. Isabelle would have told him. Besides, if something were to happen to the prodigal son of Angel Square, Magnus was pretty sure that the whole of New York would know.

There was a knock on his door and Simon walked into the room, his pace hesitant and concerned.

“I have the initial designing notes from Lorenzo regarding the Morning Star Project,” Simon informed him, as he set down the green file.

“Couldn’t you have just emailed me that?” Magnus complained, trying not to roll his eyes. He had been cooped up in his office or apartment for the last two days and had barely spoken to anyone at all.

“Uh, I did?” Simon replied. “I emailed it yesterday but you didn’t get back to me. I mean, I mentioned that it was urgent since we are working on a tight schedule. I don’t know if you checked your mail…So...I just brought it over. We already have the preliminary notes from Idris. So, the delay is from our end ri-”

“Wait, what?” Magnus asked totally confused. “Lightwood already submitted his notes?”

This was perfect. Apparently the Shadowhunter was just doing fine. Magnus was the dumbass who had been feeling guilty over nothing.

“Actually, no. Izzy was the,” Simon started and suddenly blushed, “Um, Isabelle was the one who prepared the notes. She said her brother was not feeling well.”

Not feeling well? What the fuck does that mean? Pneumonia? Stomach bug? Hangover? Heartbreak? These people need to be more specific.

“Did you see him?”

“Who?”

“Lightwood!”

“Yeah, I saw him briefly on Monday morning before my meeting with Isabelle,” Simon recalled. “He said he would bury me six feet under cement if there was any funny business. I don’t think he was joking.”

A soft chuckle involuntarily escaped Magnus’ lips. For some reason, it seemed very on brand for Lightwood to threaten people with cement. If he was running around threatening people, like he usually did, maybe nothing was wrong. Maybe the Shadowhunter didn’t feel bad about what happened.

“What did he look like?”

“Um, what?”

“What did he look like, Simon?!”

“I guess you could say…Um…Tall, dark and handsome?”

“I’ve met the man, Lewis! I know what he looks like,” Magnus rolled his eyes at the annoyingly accurate description. “I mean, what did he look like on Monday? Happy? Relieved? Stressed? Sad? Angry? Did he look sorry? Or maybe guilty?”

Simon looked completely baffled and lost. “Um, I only saw him for like two seconds.”

Magnus let out a dramatic sigh and leaned back into his chair. This boy was of no use. Maybe he should send Catarina for the next meeting. She might be able to get a better scope of things.

“He had this weird look on his face though,” Simon mused, mostly to himself. “When he saw me, he suddenly looked like he did something he regrets.”

 Hmmm.

“He did look a little sad too,” Simon added after a bit. “I mean, he had this whole I-am-sad-so-I-am-not-going-to-shave-my-beard look going on.”

Alec Lightwood with a beard? What would that even look like? Magnus couldn’t help but hate the fact that the other man could totally pull off the rugged handsome look well.

“If you want, I, um, could ask him how he is doing the next time I see him?” Simon offered after a beat.

What for? To give Lightwood the satisfaction that Magnus was concerned? Well, he was not. So, there was no need to do anything!

“You will do no such thing!”

“But you-”

“I will send you the notes shortly,” Magnus interrupted in a slightly authoritative voice to convey that the conversation was over. “Thank you, Simon.”

The boy walked over to the door and fiddled with his t-shirt. He looked back at Magnus and pushed back his glasses.

“It’s just…You have that look on your face too.”

“What look?”

“Like you did you something you regret.”

Did Magnus regret what he did? Yes. No. Maybe? God does he hate moral dilemmas!

“Are you okay, Magnus?” Simon asked, his voice softer this time. “Did something happened in Indiana?”

When you are someone like Magnus, someone who talks a lot and radiates a lot of energy, people easily tend to notice when something was wrong – even when you try your best to hide it.

He mustered up a smile that wasn’t fake. “I am fine, Sherlock. I am just recovering from all the driving.”

Simon nodded understandingly. “Maybe we could do a movie night tomorrow at my place? You, me, Clary, Raph and the whole gang. What do you say? Maybe, I, uh, we can invite Isabelle too? She has apparently never watched Star Wars. I mean, what did she watch growing up? Like what posters did she have in her bedroom?”

“Simon, they are Shadowhunters,” Magnus pointed out in the way of an explanation. “They probably had those reward and chore charts on their bedroom walls.”

“That seems like a sad way to live,” Simon commented quietly, frowning at Magnus' assumption.

It does, doesn’t it?

Simon looked like he was disappointed with all the parents from Angel Square. “Isabelle is a nice person. She deserves nice things – Even if she is a Shadowhunter.”

That was true. He does deserve nice things.

No, she does. She. They were talking about Isabelle.

“You are right.” Magnus confirmed. “Invite her for the movie night.”

Hopefully this night won’t end as disastrously as his last one with a Shadowhunter. Somehow he doubted Isabelle Lightwood hated him with every single cell in her body like her brother did.

The boy perked up at Magnus' approval and left the room cheerfully. Well, this was going to be interesting. He hoped Alec Lightwood would be there to witness it.

Wouldn’t. Wouldn’t be there. Damnit!

He needs to get some sleep. His mind was mixing up words and was shouting at him to get some rest. He hasn’t been able to sleep properly ever since he returned from Indiana. He had told his father that it was the road trip taking its toll and he should bounce back in no time. But he knew that whatever had fucked up his sleep was not going to go away any time soon.

Well, he will figure out - hopefully sooner rather than later. For now, he will put away his conflicted feelings and work on the preliminary notes for Lorenzo and Underhill.

Speaking of, the blonde man had been one of the most pleasant Shadowhunters he had ever come across – except maybe for Isabelle and a handful of others. Underhill had been nothing but polite, friendly and respectful - maybe even a little bit starstruck. Although respect and friendliness are completely normal things one would expect from any human, it was not something you can expect from a Shadowhunter – especially if you are from the Downworld. He had expected the infamous architect to be arrogant and full of himself like the rest of his people, the man was a shocking but pleasant surprise.

The fact that Shadowhunters from the younger generation were more accepting and open-minded was a giant relief. He thought of Isabelle who, from what he had heard, dated Downworlders even if it displeased her bigoted family. He thought of Clary, who never forgot where she was raised and continued to love them. He thought of Sebastian, who wanted to make a difference and build a new world.

But then…There were like Alec Lightwood.

It was impossible to build a better world when people decided to hide. It was difficult to make progress when people chose to be selfish.

Enough about Alec Lightwood and his destructive life choices.

Magnus had work to do. So, that’s what he did for the next three hours. Despite his relationship – if you can call it that – with Lightwood being a clusterfuck, the Morning Star project was moving steadily. If they maintained this pace, then they would definitely be able to delivery on the expected deadline. He was about to send the final notes to Simon when his father walked into his office carrying a small bag.

“I thought you were staying at home this week,” Magnus remarked, puzzled at this unannounced visit.

“I was. But then I heard someone was moping around,” his father replied as he sat down in front of him and offered him the small paper bag.

“Really? A pretzel?” Magnus scoffed, trying not to roll his eyes.

His father just shrugged. “I know you haven't had anything to eat since morning. So, eat.”

Magnus did roll his eyes this time and focused back on this laptop to send the email to Simon. He noticed his father looking at him intently, as if he was not going to make a move anytime soon.

“You want me to eat right now?” Magnus asked exasperatedly.

“Yes. Or you will throw it away. Eat!” the other man commanded.

He reluctantly tore a small piece and threw it into his mouth.

“I wasn’t moping,” he mumbled as he chewed his food.

“Sure,” his father snorted. “Do you want to tell me what you were not moping about?”

“I did something,” Magnus confessed after a beat, knowing that this conversation will not end until his father gets something from him.

“And?” the other man prompted.

“And,” Magnus sighed deeply. “I don’t know how I feel about it.”

His father leaned back into his chair and smiled at him. “You do know how you feel about it. I think the problem is that you are not happy with how you feel.”

Fuck.

That was it, wasn’t it? He knew exactly how he felt about what had happened in Indiana – He felt horribly guilty. But the problem was that he didn’t know if he was supposed to. He didn’t like the fact that he did. He wanted it to stop.

“You should consider becoming a therapist,” Magnus said trying to change the topic, biting into the pretzel.

“I just might,” his father laughed. “I mean, I will have a lot of time on my hands once you officially take over after the Morning Star project.”

The thought made his stomach clench unpleasantly. This was something he had always wanted and yet the thought of running Edom all on his own overwhelmed him. He didn’t know if he truly had what it takes to run an empire by himself. It was one of his biggest fears - not that he would ever tell anyone that.

Magnus looked up to see his father regarding him sternly, his face painted with concern and worry.

“Does this have anything to do with the Morning Star project? Is the Lightwood boy giving you any trouble?”

How does he even begin to answer that question?

Yes, father. He is indeed giving me trouble. I thought I had him figured out and just when everything seemed to go fine, he ended up telling me he was gay. Instead of supporting him, like I usually would, I shouted at him for being in the closet and now I feel horrible. I feel bad and I do not like the fact that he is making me feel this way. It is his decision to do whatever he wants. I mean, he is ruining his future and that of everyone who identifies as queer in Angel Square. But he doesn’t seem to care despite being a Shadowhunter. He doesn’t seem to care about anything but himself. So, why do I even give a flying fuck about Alec Lightwood? Why am I feeling guilty over someone who obviously has no empathy?

“No. I don’t care about him anyway,” Magnus replied instead.

Magnus didn't know if his father bought it, but the older man seemed satisfied with the answer. “Well, good then. Whatever it is, you need to figure it out. You know this project is important to Edom. We cannot afford to lose to the Shadowhunters.”

No, we cannot. Not again. Never again.

“If you don’t know how to figure out what you are feeling,” his father said as he rose from his chair, “Talk to someone who might understand. As someone working in construction, remember that sometimes it is important to look out of a different balcony than your own. You might be pleasantly surprised with the view when you learn to change your perspective.”

“Yes, father,” Magnus nodded tiredly. “You should go home now. And please stop watching TED talks.”

His father chuckled at that and walked towards the door and look back.

“And Magnus?” his father called, his voice slightly sterner than usual. “Finish the pretzel!”

God, what is it with parents and food? Magnus mumbled something in response and continued to eat – not just because his father said so but also because he was really hungry.

Maybe his father was right. Maybe he would understand the reason behind the Shadowhunter’s insane actions if Magnus looked at it from a different perspective. He could always talk to Isabelle, but he wondered if she knew about her brother’s secret. Although they seemed awfully close, you never know. Sometimes the world forced you to hide away the most important parts of yourself from people you loved the most. It was a flawed logic, but unfortunately it was just how the world functioned sometimes.

It was around eight in the evening when he wrapped up for the day. Even though he was used to working late on most days, he felt more exhausted than usual. He blamed it on the road trip – like he blamed most things for the last three days – and left to his loft in Brooklyn.

The rest of the night moved in an annoyingly slow pace, so Magnus decided to get more work done. He wrote an email to Helen, copying in Lorenzo, about hiring Underhill as a consultant for their hotel project. Then he made some adjustments to the timeline of the Morning Star project to move the pace a little faster. Next, he texted his father to stop sending food to his apartment through UberEats. Later he grudgingly ate the delicious nasi goring while listening to a TED Talk his father had sent him about mental health and skipping meals.

By the time he was done for the day and settled on his bed, it was nearly two in the morning. He closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep but instead saw the face of Alec Lightwood.

“Do you think I want to live like this?”

He remembered the way the Shadowhunter had screamed at him, in that small room that night in Indiana - his face full of anger, pain and disappointment.

Well, if he wants to, then that’s his choice! There is nothing Magnus could do to change the other man’s mind. It wasn’t his responsibility to do anything.

He threw the quilt over himself and shut his eyes closely. Go the fuck to sleep, Magnus!

“But what about other queer people?”

He heard his own voice now. He had asked the Shadowhunter to help people like him. He had judged Alec Lightwood for being selfish. But what was Magnus doing right how? By keeping his mouth shut and not helping, was he not letting down someone  who needed help? Was being selfish and minding your own business the same thing?

If there was something he could do, even if it was just a simple apology, shouldn’t he do it?

But then again…why?

That seemed to be the million dollar question. He was confused, frustrated and boy was he angry. He hated Alec Lightwood. So, why in the world should he help him in anyway?

Go to sleep. Go to sleep.  Go to sleep. Go to sleep.

But apparently his self-conscience had other plans, which was why he was currently on his way to the 99th precinct at 2.30 in the morning. If there was anyone who could understand him right now, it was Luke.

The man had been born and raised as a Shadowhunter, but had willingly decided to leave his own people when his best friend started his psychotic propaganda against the Downworld. His opposition towards Valentine had resulted in him losing everything including his family wealth and the respect of fellow Shadowhunters. Luke had joined the rest of the Downworld with his wife Jocelyn and their daughter Clary just a couple of years before the riots.

Luke lost the love of his life during the riots because he joined the Downworld. Yet, he decided to stay back and help them. He even walked the extra mile, joined the police force and decided to help reduce the crime in the Downworld.

Despite living in the Downworld for two decades and considering himself as a Downworlder, he had agreed to let Clary go to Angel Square when she has turned eighteen. Magnus had protested at the ridiculous idea and had asked Luke to speak some sense into her but the former Shadowhunter had told him to calm down and understand that it would be best for her. It had been months and Magnus still couldn’t understand the reason behind this insane decision.

But the point was that Luke was the only person who knew what it felt like to be both a Shadowhunter and a Downworlder. He was also very good at giving advice and could be trusted to be discreet about whatever Magnus had to say. So, here he was, driving in the middle of the night like a madman, to get some of that goddamn perspective his father had prescribed him earlier that day.

As he walked into the precinct, which seemed relatively quiet for a police station – probably because it was three in the morning!!! - he realized that Luke might not even be there. He had just taken off to get advice like some sort of lunatic without even bothering to check if Luke was on the night shift tonight.

He walked into the Captain’s room without being questioned since most of the officers knew him well. The room was empty and Magnus wanted to scream.

“Magnus!” the familiar voice called out in a slightly panicked voice, “What are you doing here?”

Luke was holding a cup of tea as walked into his office and hurriedly closed the door behind him.

“Is everything okay? God, is someone hurt? Is it Simon? What ha-”

“Everything is fine,” Magnus reassured him quickly. “I-I just need some advice.”

“Oh,” Luke visibly relaxed. “Now?”

“Yeah, now!” Magnus stressed as he slumped down on the couch. Luke walked over to him and sat down with his tea.

“I need to talk to you about Alec Lightwood,” Magnus got straight to the point.

“Ale-“ Luke wondered. “You mean Maryse Lightwood’s son?”

“YES! That’s the one!” Magnus exclaimed loudly in relief.

Luke looked at him oddly for a minute and blew softly into his cup of tea. “Alright, what about Alec Lightwood?”

“I am working with him on this project…” Magnus hesitated. Maybe he should fake a stomach ache and go home?

“This is the one by what’s his name British boy, yeah? Simon was telling me about it a couple of months back. You know, I think it is great that at least one of the Shadowhunters has finally decided to-”

“He is gay!” Magnus blurted out.

Well, there was no going back now. 

“The British one?”

“No! The Lightwood one!”

“Oh.”

Oh was right.

Luke took a large sip of his tea and laid down the cup on the coffee table. For a second, Magnus was horrified that he had made the wrong call. It wasn’t really okay to tell Luke about the Shadowhunter. What if Lightwood was friends with Luke? But that seemed highly unlikely considering that he did not associate with Downworlders, even those who had Shadowhunter blood in them. For the hundredth time he wondered why he even bothered to make amends with that asshole.

“Are you dating him?”

“Who?”

“The Lightwood boy.”

“Ew, gross!”

Luke chuckled at his reaction and took another sip of his tea. “Then why does it matter if he is gay or not?”

“Because he is in the closet! He came out to me last week and practically said that he is not going to come out. Ever!”

The other man raised an eyebrow at him. “And that affects your project?”

Magnus sighed exasperatedly. “It affects everything, Luke! He is from one of the most influential families in Angel Square. Imagine what he could do and how many people he could help if he decides to come out!”

Luke shook his head gently and adopted the dad-voice immediately. “Magnus, that is not your choice to make.”

“I know but...Okay, listen. I met this other Shadowhunter last week – who is also gay and he was-”

“Jesus! How many gay Shadowhunters did you meet last week?”

“Not the point!” Magnus rolled his eyes. “The point is…That boy, he wanted to be a part of the queer community so badly. He was so desperate…to help…to connect somehow. It was horrible, Luke.”

“Isn’t there anything you could do for him?” Luke questioned, his eyes sympathetic now.

“I did. He is going to work with Edom on this queer project we are handling with the Blackthorns.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“The problem is that there are so many others like him! There must be! And they deserve to be a part of the community if they want to.”

Luke’s dark eyes softened at that. “Magnus, you can’t help every queer person in Angel Square.”

“BUT HE CAN!!”

Magnus hadn’t realized he how riled up he had gotten over the last couple of minutes. Everything he had wanted to say and feel was pouring out of him right now.

“Just because he can, it doesn’t mean he should,” Luke pointed out.

That didn’t make any sense! Magnus had always believed that if you have the power and resources to help, you should always try to help other people. He didn’t see why Lightwood - or Luke – couldn’t understand that.

“Have you ever wondered why I allowed Clary to go back to Angel Square?”

Only like a few hundred thousand times.

“Everything I am today is because of what my parents taught me. I might be a Downworlder now, but I was raised as a Shadowhunter. The first and foremost duty of any Shadowhunter is to defend and protect. It’s one of the reasons I joined the force to be honest. I couldn’t forget my duty as a Shadowhunter - even though I am not one anymore. I was taught to help those who couldn’t help themselves and fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.”

That didn’t sound very Shadowhunter-y to Magnus.

“I know that is not how you or the Downworld thinks of us. We forgot our true duty – bad leadership can do that, you know? To be good and kind and brave…Clary needs to understand that is what it means to be someone from Angel Square. She is a Shadowhunter, Magnus. If she lives in the Downworld, then all she will ever see is that Shadowhunters are bad and selfish and arrogant. I don’t want her to grow up hating a part of herself. When she realizes what it all means, I am sure she will be able to make the right choice. Maybe she will return or maybe she won’t. But whatever decision she makes - it is because she knows the whole truth. She will be able to make an informed decision that is not based on stereotypes or prejudice.”

Well that made sense and was honestly a wise decision on Luke’s part. But Magnus couldn’t see the relevance of the point to his own problem.

“The reason why I am telling you all this is because,” Luke continued understanding Magnus’ confusion, “There is more to a Shadowhunter than meets the eye. Trust me, it is not an easy life to live. So, before you judge Alec Lightwood for his decisions, you need to understand his perspective too.”

Great. More perspective!

“I know, Luke. I just...I am so pissed at him.”

“Why?” Luke asked, as if it was so simple.

“Because he is a coward!?! He can do so much good if he chooses to be brave and yet he prefers to be selfish. He is just...He’d rather help himself than anyone else. Because he is SUCH a shadowhunter! I am angry because I hate him.”

The other man took a sip of his tea and appraised Magnus with an indecipherable look. It was a look that meant he was going to say something annoyingly wise and make Magnus regret what he had just said.

“Three things,” the taller man stated as he put down his mug.

“One. I understand what you mean. Being out and proud is an amazing feeling. So, imagine having to sacrifice that feeling in order to not disappoint the ones that you love. Imagine having to intentionally choose loneliness. Imagine having to pretend like you are happy and everything is fine. That is not something a coward is capable of, Magnus.”

Oh.

“Two. Alec is not choosing himself. If he was, then he would have not cared about the consequences and had come out long time ago. He had decided not to hurt the ones that love him the most. When you are a Shadowhunter, you are supposed to think about everyone but yourself. And that is precisely what Mr. Lightwood is doing. I suppose that does make him ‘SUCH a shadowhunter’ like you said. ”

“Oh,” Magnus said out loud this time.

“How you feel is valid too. But the way you are reacting right now is not. I completely agree that people with power and influence can do so much to help vulnerable groups. And yes, Alec Lightwood does have all of that. But you are forgetting something very important. He might be rich and powerful, but he belongs to the vulnerable group too, Magnus. He is stuck between two worlds and is in a position of not being able to choose one without sacrificing the other. You need to understand that despite being a Shadowhunter, he is vulnerable - at least a part of him is. So, expecting him to fix everything seems rather unreasonable.”

Goddamnit. Why does Luke always have to be right?

“Which brings me to my third point," Luke continued, but with a small smile on his lips now. "I don’t think you are angry because you hate him. I think you are angry because you care about Alec Lightwood.”

What an outrageous thing to say! Was Luke on drugs? Was the night shift affecting his brain?

“By deciding to stay inside the closet, he is choosing everyone but himself. I think someone needs to remind Mr. Lightwood that it is okay to be selfish once in a while.”

“And you think that someone is me?”

The man laughed and took another sip of his tea. “Well, you are the one who is obsessed with him.”

“I AM NOT OBSESSED WITH ALEC LIGHTWOOD!”

“Really?” Luke deadpanned. “Then what are you doing in my precinct at three in the morning?”

“I…I feel guilty,” Magnus confessed.

And there it was. The whole thing, the unnecessary drama, the moodiness, the temper tantrums, the starvation – none of it had anything to do with Alec Lightwood to be honest. Magnus was angry at himself, for reacting so harshly and poorly towards the other man.

“I just…He came out at me and I said such horrible things to him. I don’t think he has come out to a lot of people and I…I think I ruined coming out for him. What if he never chooses to come out to anyone ever again because of how I reacted? He came out and all he got was anger and judgment. So, why would he possibly try to come out to his family or the world? And if he doesn’t come out...What if he never gets to help anyone, including himself like you just said? And that would be my fault, won't it? It would be my fault because I shouted at him instead of supporting him.”

Luke got up from his seat and walked over to Magnus. “So you are not angry at him. You are angry at yourself.”

“I am a horrible person,” Magnus both confessed and realized to his horror.

The other man put his hand on Magnus shoulder and squeezed it gently. “Magnus, you are not a horrible person. Horrible people don’t feel guilty about the horrible things they do.”

“You think so?” Magnus asked, sniffling slightly.

“I know so,” Luke smiled. “You know what else horrible people don’t do?”

“What?” he asked softly.

“They don’t try to fix their mistakes or apologize for their misgivings.”

Yes, he should apologize to Lightwood – and probably not via email.

“Listen, you might not know the reasons behind that boy’s actions. But you can always try to understand. You just need some perspective.”

“But how do I get that?” Magnus all but whined.

“I can't help you with that," the man shrugged apologetically. "But if you want to understand his perspective, you need to go to where he is - quite literally.”

“No!” Magnus groaned as he realized the implication behind Luke’s advice.

“Yes!” Luke affirmed. “But before that, there is something else I want you to do.”

“What?”

“Get some sleep!” Luke commanded in his Captain voice. “Or I am calling your father.”

Magnus had begged him not to since he didn’t want to watch another TED talk on sleep deprivation. He thanked Luke for his advice and left the precinct with a lighter heart and calmer mind. He did sleep that night, but not for long.

His tired and sleep deprived body protested against the alarm that morning but he pulled himself off the bed anyway and finished his morning chores quickly.

He picked up a simple outfit for the day – a dark blue shirt, black blazer, skinny jeans. He made a quick detour to Starbucks on his way to his destination. Once he finally got there, he let out a deep breath to calm himself and counted back from ten.

As he walked into the building, he couldn’t help but feel immediately uncomfortable. For some reason, every cell in his body was on high alert and they screamed that he didn’t belong there. He never thought he would ever set foot in this building and yet here he was – bearing gifts no less.

He strode through the corridors and ignored the looks he got from several Shadowhunters. He didn't know if it was because of his makeup or the his race or the fact that he was from the Downworld. He wondered if this was how they looked at a stranger, how they would look at one of their own. He wondered how anyone could possible feel safe and comfortable within these walls.

“Did you see how Ethan was wearing that pink shirt again?” one of the men in elevator asked his companion.

“Christ, yes!” the man made a face of displeasure. “Isn’t it like the third time this month?”

“What a faggot!”

“Who even hired that homo? Probably did some ass kissing to get a job at Idris,” the man sounded annoyed.

“I don’t think he minds some ass kissing, bro!” the man barked into a disgusting laughter.

Magnus was appalled at their audacity. He was shocked at the normalcy. He couldn’t understand the entitlement with which they said those words. They really didn’t care that there was a stranger in the elevator with them. They didn’t care that they were being hurtful or respectful. He was quite sure that they didn't even realize that they were being incredibly inhuman. If this is how they treated someone regarding their presumed sexuality, then what in god’s name would they say to someone who openly identified as queer in their workspace?

“Magnus!” Clary exclaimed in surprise as he walked out of the elevator towards his floor.

Oh thank god! He needed to see something familiar and joyful after that horrible elevator ride.

“What are you doing at Idris?” Clary inquired from behind her desk, not bothering to hide her fascination at all.

“I am here to meet your boss. Is he in?” Magnus questioned. He should really check in with people before randomly barging into their offices.

“Um, yeah. He is…He is not in a good mood. Well, he usually isn’t. So, I guess it’s normal,” Clary laughed nervously.

“Great. I’ll see you later, biscuit!” He waved at her and started walking towards Lightwood’s office.

“Hey! Hold on!”

He knocked on the door twice and opened the door to find Lightwood frowning at his laptop.

The Shadowhunter looked up at the intrusion and his face visibly paled in shock. He blinked a couple of times at Magnus but said nothing.

Simon has been right. There was a slight stubble on his jaw that did look good on the other man. Magnus was suddenly transported back to the morning in Indiana when Lightwood had walked out of the bathroom – wet and half naked – in nothing but a towel. He remembered seeing all of that chest hair and that chiseled torso and the v-line that wen– okay that’s enough, Bane!

It wasn’t his fault that Lightwood looked like some sort of Greek god. In all his anger and prejudice, he had forgotten that the other man was actually quite attractive and looked rather stunning when he made the effort - or even when he was wearing barely anything at all.

“Mr. Lightwood!” Clary literally ran into the office and thankfully pulled him out of his irrelevant thoughts. “Um, Magnus, uh, Mr. Bane, here, he wanted to see you.”

“I didn’t make an appointment,” Magnus informed looking at Alec’s still shocked face. “I hope I am not intruding on anything.”

“You don’t have any breakfast appointments today, Mr. Lightwood,” Clary informed her boss in a flustered tone, her face red and forehead sweaty.

The other man regained his composure and cleared his throat. “It's fine, Ms. Fairchild. You can leave.”

“Yes, sir!” Clary responded in an unusually submissive tone and ran back to the desk, closing the door behind her.

“She seems rather skittish around you,” Magnus pointed out.

“I am her boss,” the Shadowhunter shrugged, “She respects me.”

“No, she doesn’t. She is afraid of you,” Magnus corrected him. “Respect and fear are not the same thing.”

The other man looked surprised and then suddenly annoyed. “Is that why you are here? To give me a lesson on Secretarial Management?”

Aaaand the claws were out.

“No. I came here to get perspective.”

“Excuse me?”

“I come in peace,” Magnus announced, carefully placing the giant cup of coffee on the glass table. “Black, 2 spoons of sugar.”

Lightwood eyed the trenta skeptically, as if he was scanning it for traces of poison. He then slowly moved forward, picked up the giant cup and took a sip. His entire body visibly relaxed at the contact and intentionally or not, he let out a loud satisfying sigh.

What a dork.

Magnus took the time to quickly observe the room around him. Well, there was nothing much to observe to be honest. There was nothing personal about the room – no plants, photographs, accolades, snacks on the table, no nothing. The only thing that suggested this was Alec Lightwood’s office was the sign on the door.

“Did you get it?” the Shadowhunter asked, swallowing a large gulp of his coffee.

“Get what?” Magnus inquired.

“Perspective.”

He look at the office once more and realized it wasn’t really hard to get perspective around here. Maybe that’s what Luke had meant by asking him to visit Lightwood at his own place. Things really seemed to be done differently around here.

“Somewhat, yes,” Magnus answered honestly.

The other man noticed him looking around the place and gestured him to have a seat.

“I thought you hated Idris.”

“I thought you were straight.”

This is what happens when neither party was interested in beating around the bush. However, Lightwood did flinch at the remark and looked away suddenly.

“I didn’t just come here to get perspective,” Magnus spoke up again. “I also came to apologize.”

He took a deep breath and unclenched his fingers a couple of times.

“I am sorry about how I reacted in Indiana. I shouldn’t have said all those things to you. If I hurt your feelings in any way, I apologize. It was unkind and uncalled for.”

The shock on the other man’s face was frankly insulting. It was as if he never expected Magnus to apologize for his behavior.

“I never expected you to apologize to a Shadowhunter,” the Shadowhunter confessed.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are a Shadowhunter or Downworlder. I did something wrong. So, I had to apologize.”

Lightwood cocked his head to one side and took a deep sip of his coffee - possibly wondering what Magnus was playing at.

“I might not fully agree with your decision to stay in the closet…But I get it. Being gay or bi or ace or queer…It means that you get to be yourself. When we fight for equality, we are fighting for the freedom to choose to be ourselves. We fight to have options to choose from. So, I think it is only fair that you get to decide how you want to live your life. You don't have to come out if you don't want to. You do have the right to make that choice and I shouldn't have made you feel guilty about your decision.”

“I-uh-You are...Thank you,” the man stammered, still recovering from Magnus' confession.

During his drive here, Magnus had thought a lot about what Luke had told him. He understood that it was not fair to ask Alec Lightwood or any queer person to carry the burden of changing the world for the better. It wasn't fair to expect the community to keep fixing other people's mistakes. It wasn't their fault that the world was prejudiced and bigoted.

"I didn't...Well, I did. I did make you feel bad about not helping the community," Magnus continued, not wanting stop. "I shouldn't have done that. Just because you are gay, it doesn't mean that you have to tie the rainbow flag around your neck and fight for equality. I now understand that you have lots of battles to choose from. I don't think it was easy for you to make that decision. So, despite what I said, please don't feel bad. Don't ever feel bad for choosing yourself."

The Shadowhunter closed his eyes and let out a deep breath, as if he was processing every single word slowly and carefully. And when he opened them again, they were slightly glossy. “I want to help. I need you to know that. I really do want to help. But I can’t be out. Not here. I can lose so much and if they know I am gay then-”

He is vulnerable too, Luke had said earlier. 

“I understand,” Magnus interrupted gently. “I just want you to know that you don’t have to be gay to help the community.”

“I know,” Lightwood sighed tiredly. “I know I don't have to. But...But if I get involved in any capacity, people will talk. Angel Square is...different. They will assume and gossip.”

Magnus remembered the conversation in the elevator. He flinched at the memory and looked at the man in front of him with sympathy. He remembered Luke’s words last night or earlier today.

“The fact that you truly want to help other people is more than enough. But sometimes, it is okay to help yourself. It’s okay to protect yourself – that doesn’t make you selfish.”

"But you were right! What about other queer people? I know how horrible it feels to hide constantly from who you really are. So, the fact that I am choosing to...just protect myself instead of protecting others like me...That doesn't seem like what a good person would do."

The first and foremost duty of any Shadowhunter is to defend and protect.

"You are doing the best that you can," Magnus offered, hoping to take the guilt of the other man's shoulders.

But the Shadowhunter did not look convinced. “No, but...I just…I was angry that night because everything you said was true. I could do so much and help so many people if I just…If I wasn’t a coward. I wish I was braver.”

He didn’t know what to say to that and so the other man took Magnus' silence as affirmation to his confession.

“I am a horrible person,” the Shadowhunter whispered to no one - looking away from him.

“No, you are not,” Magnus disagreed automatically. “As it was pointed out to me by a wise man, horrible people don’t feel guilty.”

The Shadowhunter looked up at that and their eyes met. Something shifted in his hazel eyes in the moment, something that created a pleasant feeling in Magnus' chest. Everything was suddenly quiet for a minute, as if the two of them realized the unusual nature of this conversation. Magnus had thought that apologizing to the other man would somehow feel like a confessing to a priest in church, awkward and judgmental. But it felt nothing like that. He felt as if he had just talked one of his closest friends, from whom he would never expect anything other than compassion and understanding.

The other man suddenly got up and walked to the corner of the room towards a small coffee table, next a poorly chosen couch. As he walked toward the table, Magnus noticed his tall form that had somehow eluded him all this time. How come he never noticed that Lightwood had legs for days? His shirt, the usual white cotton one that was always miraculously creaseless, clung to his body perfectly. Magnus’ eyes did not travel lower when the other man bent slightly to pour himself a glass of water.

“So, um, are you seeing anyone? Magnus asked casually – for science, of course.

The Shadowhunter choked on his water and coughed a couple of times but quickly recovered himself. Shit, did Magnus get too personal?

“Um, I've nev…Uh, no,” the other man stuttered.

“Right,” Magnus replied, suddenly feeling very awkward. “Cool. Cool. Cool. Cool.”

Stop talking right now!

"Would you like some water?" the Shadowhunter asked, looking equally weirded out. "Or tea or something?"

Actually, he needed to get out of here. The empty and plain office room suddenly felt too cooped up and suffocating. 

“I should get going,” Magnus managed to say casually as he got up.

“Yeah, um, okay,” the other man responded, still standing near the table, far away from Magnus. The distance seemed forced and unnecessary to be honest. Magnus walked toward the glass door and looked back.

“I really am sorry for how I reacted.”

Although the Shadowhunter was on the other end of the room, he could see the way his face softened slightly. “It is alright. I understand your anger. I would have been pissed too if the roles were reversed. Your reaction was normal.”

But that was not the point. Yes, the other man might have snapped at him too. Yes, it was normal to be angry when you are disappointed. But that wasn’t Magnus.

“I know it is normal. But that is not the kind of person I want to be. I said some pretty hurtful things because I was disappointed - and angry. But nothing is ever a good enough reason to be hurtful towards another person.”

The Shadowhunter walked towards him slowly. Both of them stood in front of the glass door now and the other man looked at him as if he was going to confess something deeply personal.

"Okay," the Shadowhunter stated simply instead...and smiled.

He can smile???

It was a soft smile, something you would miss if you blinked. And in that brief moment, he looked so different. He didn't look like a Shadowhunter or a Lightwood or the future CEO of Idris. He looked just like any other twenty something year old trying to get through life with minimal casualties as possible. It was deeply unsettling since Alec Lightwood's smile made him look ordinary and otherworldly at the same time.

And once again, Magnus felt ashamed for what he had done to this man. He knew that in this particular case, no one can help Alec Lightwood other than himself. But he wanted the Shadowhunter to know that he wasn't alone in this - no one ever really was in his experience. 

“I don’t…I don’t want you to think that…If you ever choose to come out...One day, when you are ready...I don’t want you to think that what I did...Please don't think that this is the kind of reaction you will get."

"I won't," the man assured him, the smile returning to his lips once more.

The worry, the stress, the anxiety and most importantly the guilt Magnus had been carrying around for the last few days left his body then. Just like that, he felt better because he knew the other man was going to be okay - well as okay as one can get under his circumstances.

"You are not a coward," Magnus reassured him, understanding the truth himself. "Whether you choose to tell the rest of the world or not, I am proud of you for telling me.”

The other man bit his lip and looked away suddenly. “I..Uh..Thank you. It means a lot. It was…It was my first time.”

Magnus suddenly remembered the first time he came out. He had been a bundle of nerves when he had confessed to his father that he was bi. He had been worried that his father would be ashamed or disappointed with him. But the reaction had not been what he had expected at all. He still remembered the serious look on the older man's face when he had said 'Hi, bi! I am Dad."

"You are the most important thing in the world to me, Magnus," his fathered had whispered into his hair. "You are my son. My legacy. My prince. Who you love will never change that."

"You promise?"

"I promise. Unless it is a Shadowhunter - then I will be very cross with you!"

They had both laughed at the ridiculous possibility and Magnus had gone to sleep that night knowing that despite living in a cruel, prejudiced world, he will always have someone who will love him unconditionally.  

And that's why it is was so important that you feel supported and accepted when you come out for the first time. Once again, he felt horribly guilty for ruining Alec's first coming out experience. He wished he could go back in time and do things differently. 

"Don't," the Shadowhunter said and brought him out of his reverie. 

"Don't what?"

"Don't feel guilty."

"But I-"

"I am glad that it was you," the Shadowhunter intervened. "My siblings know - they sort of figured it out. But I never thought that I would ever really come out to anyone willingly. But I did and I am glad it was you. Andr...Underhill always speaks of the amazing things you have done for the queer community in New York and even in other places. I think...I think maybe that's partly why I was so angry. Because here you were doing all these great things for the community and I was just hiding. I was hurt that night because I didn't think you'd react that way. But not anymore. So, thank you for coming all this way - and apologizing. I hope that one day I can help others just like you do right now."

"You will," Magnus reassured, for some reason knowing that to be true. "But for now...Focus on yourself. Help yourself first and then you can focus on helping others."

The other man nodded and let go of a tired sigh. “I just…I find all of this to be overwhelming sometimes. I want to help the community. But I also want to make my family proud. I feel like between being a Shadowhunter, a Lightwood, a businessman and gay man…I just forget who I am underneath all of that.”

Magnus looked at the door in front of both of them. It read ‘Alexander Lightwood’ - A name that held such promise. 

“Then I guess it is a good thing that you have it right here to remind you,” Magnus pointed at the door. “At the end of the day, all of those things, they are just labels. It is okay to not know who you are. My father once told me that the twenties are for figuring things out, thirties are for fucking them up and forties are for cleaning up the mess.”

The other man chuckled at that  - a ridiculous noise to be honest. Magnus' brain immediately saved the sound in his long-term memory. “Your father sounds very wise.”

Magnus chuckled back. “Nah, he just listens to a lot of TED talks.”                     

The Shadowhunter opened the door for him and and smiled genuinely. “I guess this means I can stop spying on the pale boy and my sister?”

And for the first time since they had known each other, Magnus couldn’t but smile back. “Yes. I think we can take over from here.”

The Shadowhunter nodded at that - as if he was pleased with Magnus' response.

“See you later, Magnus”

Magnus turned back and looked at the man leaning against the glass door with his name written on it. He looked at him one last time and his relaxed frame, curved mouth and hopeful eyes. 

“Till next time, Alexander.”

Chapter Text

“Nothing much. But I am meeting with Sebastian later today. Gotta cement the relationship with Morning Star.”

Really? A construction pun? What the fuck was wrong with him?

Alec continued to stare at the response he had texted Magnus ten minutes ago. They have been texting each other for the last couple of weeks ever since the other man had come over to Idris to apologize to him.

It still seemed a bit surreal that Magnus Bane of Edom Incorporated visited Idris. Alec knew how much the other man hated Idris and yet he had come all the way just to apologize.

Just when he had thought that he knew the real Magnus Bane he was proven wrong. The other man had not only apologized to him multiple times, which was truly unexpected and uncharacteristic, he had also given Alec some pretty good advice.

They have been texting each other back and forth since then - just business related things obviously. What else did he have to talk about with Magnus Bane? It’s not like they had anything in common. But today, when Magnus had texted him “Good morning! What are you up to today?” Alec had panicked.

The text did not sound very business related and he couldn't figure out what to type back. He had pondered over what to say for more than an hour and then had panicked even more when he realized that Magnus must have thought that Alec had been ignoring him.

So, in his panicked state, he had texted him back a lame reply with a lame pun.

Cement the relationship. Alec face-palmed himself. Honestly, it would be a miracle if Magnus ever texted him back.

In that precise moment, his phone pinged. It didn’t matter if Alec had almost fallen off his chair while trying to get to his phone, no would know.

“Alexander, was that a construction pun? I hope this is not because of my influence. I wouldn’t want to tar-nish your perfect reputation.”

This complete and utter dork. He couldn’t help but laugh at the response.

He wasn't going to get into how he feels about Magnus calling him by his full name. The jury is still out on that one. 

Ever since their conversation about accepting one’s self, Alec had been pushing himself, just a couple of inches every single day, to be more open and honest – with himself and everyone around him. So, this sudden change of behavior was indeed Magnus’ influence. The other man had encouraged and inspired him to be his true self and that is exactly what Alec had been doing for the last couple of weeks.

One would think that this means that he would come out to his parents or call people out on their bigotry, but apparently his true self just made horrible, cheesy construction puns.

Well, baby steps.

“Big reputation. Big reputation. You and me, we got big reputations.”

Okay so his true self also liked to listen to Taylor Swift when he worked out.

It felt nice. It felt really nice to be yourself with someone. It felt even nicer to be yourself and be accepted by that someone.

Of course, he wasn’t really out and he didn’t get to be himself with the entire world. But Magnus had told him to take it all one step at a time.

They had been discussing more about the issues of Downworlders and even the LGBT community on a Wednesday morning. Alec had confessed how difficult it was for him to advocate for greater LGBT representation in Idris with the Clave’s bigoted recruitment strategies. He had worried about his own future at Idris.

“How do we build a house, Alexander?” Magnus had inquired when they were grabbing coffee together just before a meeting with Underhill and Lorenzo Rey.

“With cement?” Alec had asked in response, feeling rather confused by the odd question.

“I don’t understand your weird obsession with cement. But to answer my own question, we build a house brick by brick.”

“Your point is?” Alec had asked, still confused because the other man could be so cryptic sometimes.

“Start small. Take it easy. Build your future with one brick at a time.”

Sometimes the cryptic advice turned out to be rather good.

The phone pinged again – multiple times.

“OH MY GOD! CONSTRUCTION PUNS AND TAYLOR SWIFT REFERENCES?”

“WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

“HAVE YOU BEEN POSSESSED???”

Alec was right. Complete and utter dork. He typed up a quick and honest response without any puns or references this time.

“Nope. I am just being myself.”

And boy did it feel good!

He had actually been considering coming out - just to his parents and Max. It was definitely not a baby step, but Alec knew he had to start somewhere. A part of him wanted it never to happen and a part of him wanted to get it over with. And for the last few days, he had been leaning towards the latter part.

Another ping.

“I am proud of you. You do you!”

Before Alec could type anything back a series of texts appeared on the chat.

“That wasn’t a reference to masturbation.”

“You probably didn’t think of it like that anyway!”

“Not that there is anything wrong with masturbation.”

“It is a natural thing. Everyone does it.”

“Maybe not everyone cause there are people who don’t like to masturbate too – which is also fine btw.”

A faint blush spread on his cheeks involuntarily as he suppressed any and all thoughts about Magnus and masturbation.

“JACE! JACE, GET OVER HERE!”

Alec looked up from his phone and see Isabelle standing in front of him, looking rather stunned and confused.

Huh. When had she come in?

Jace ran into his office, loosing up his tie. “What happened? Who is it? I know Parkour, bitches!

“It’s Alec!” Izzy exclaimed rather worriedly. “Something is wrong with his face!”

Jace came closer and started examining his face until Alec swatted him away.

Another ping.

“Okay I’m gonna stop talking about masturbation now.”

“Have a nice day! Ciao!”

“LOOK! THERE IT IS AGAIN!!!” Izzy screamed.

He looked up from his phone again to see both of his siblings staring at him in disbelief.

“He is…doing something unusual with his face?” Jace wondered.

“He is smiling!” Izzy realized.

He is right here!” Alec replied.

Both of them sat down in front of him immediately, crossed their arms and appraised him seriously like a couple of cops right before an interrogation.

Alec patiently waited for the questions to fire in 3, 2…

“Who are you talking to?”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Is he taller than me?”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Can I take him in a fight?”

Alec let out a deep breath. Sometimes – just sometimes – his siblings can be a little too much.

“You two seriously need to calm the fuck down!” Alec chastised them. “I am not talking to anyone! This is just work related!”

Which was the truth! He was talking to Magnus – his project partner. Nothing else going on there.

“The fuck it is!" Izzy swore eloquently. “You were looking at your phone – and smiling!!!”

“Hey!” Alec admonished her defensively. “I smile all the time!”

Both his siblings snorted in synchronization. It was rather offensive to be honest.

“Dude, please!” Jace rolled his eyes. “The last time you smiled was when Clary had to take the entire week off because she had the flu!”

“It was a happy week,” Alec sighed, missing the good old days.

They had talked about Clary too. Magnus had told him to give her the benefit of the doubt. Alec didn’t really like the girl or the influence she had over Jace. Or maybe he didn’t like the fact that she was shrewd and saw through Alec's bullshit. There was also the fact that she was sort-of-a-downworlder working in a Shadowhunter organization. For all he knew, she could be spy!

“Seriously, Alec! Who are you talking to? I need to know about your mystery man!” Izzy whined.

“There is no mystery man!” Alec told her tiredly. “I was just talking to Magnus.”

“Magnus?” They both exclaimed at the same time in an almost comical way. Izzy looked amused while Jace looked confused.

“Who is Magnus?” Jace inquired.

“Um, Magnus Bane?”  Alec replied rather annoyed. “We are currently working with him?”

“His first name is Magnus?” Jace wondered out loud.

“Of course it is!” Alec said exasperatedly. “What did you think it was?”

“I dunno,” Jace shrugged. “I don’t care about other people’s names!”

Izzy snickered at that. “Didn’t you access Clary’s employee records to find out her middle name?”

Alec made a quick mental note to talk to Jace later about privacy violations.

“Hey! We are talking about Alec here. Not me!” Jace complained.

“We are done talking about Alec!” Alec barked. 

“No, we are not!” Jace snapped right back. “Why are you texting Bane?”

“It’s work related!”

“Then why are you smiling?”

“What, I can’t smile now?”

“What were you smiling at?”

“I saw a meme thing!”

“First of all, it is not pronounced mey-mey!” Jace corrected him. “Second of all, how do you even know what those are?”

“I know things!” Alec argued, although his siblings knew him better than that.

“Izzy, are you buying his bullshit?” Jace looked at her in annoyance.

“Yes, I do” Izzy said to Alec’s surprise. “We should let this one go, Jace.”

That was rather odd. Izzy was usually the one to grill him for more information. Well, it doesn’t matter. If she wasn’t in the mood today, then good for him!

“So, you are not dating Bane?” Jace still continued.

“Yeah as if that's ever gonna happen."

Jace raised his eyebrows at that. “Why did you say it like that?

“Say it like what?” Alec puzzled. Honestly, don’t these two work here as well?

“You didn’t say it like Ew, I'm never gonna date some like him. You said it more like Why would he ever date someone like me?

Because damn Jace that was exactly what Alec had been thinking when he had said that.

A few weeks ago, the thought of loving Magnus Bane seemed ridiculous and out of the question for Alec. It actually felt like eons ago to be honest. But now, it wasn't ridiculous, it just seemed impossible. While Alec did find Magnus to be attractive, purely on an objective note, he couldn’t understand why in the world someone like Magnus would ever find Alec to be attractive.

While Magnus was like the Eiffel tower – popular, stunning and iconic; Alec was more like that antique bookshop Jace went to on 42nd avenue – boring, simple and unnoticed.

“That’s enough Dr. Phil!” Izzy scolded Jace and saved him from any further interrogation. “Let it go.”

“Actually, there is something I want to talk to you about,” Alec confessed, hoping to both divert the conversation from Magnus and to get rid of the nervous pit in his stomach.

Both Jace and Izzy immediately straightened up at the tone of his voice.

“What is it?” Jace asked softly, all his skepticism and annoyance gone in an instant.

“I-uh-I have been thinking about this for a while now,” Alec stated as confidently as possible. “I am thinking about coming out to mom and dad - and Max of course.”

They both stared at him in surprise. It took a lot to catch his siblings off guard. Alec immediately worried whether this whole thing was a bad idea.

“Alec, are you sure?” Izzy whispered gently.

“I don’t know? I think so? What do you think?” Alec questioned, suddenly not so sure about his decision any more.

“What brought this on?” Jace spoke up, his eyebrows knit in concern.

“I have been talking to…” Alec started and decided not to disclose that information. He didn’t know how his siblings would react if he told them that he came out to Magnus Bane out of all people.

So instead he asked, “Have you ever wondered what it feels like to live on the other side?”

“Like in Canada?” Jace asked confused.

“He means the Downworld, dummy!” Izzy corrected him.

“Oh,” Jace said. “Alec, again, what brought this on?”

“I just feel trapped. Like…We have been living our lives in the same way for so long…I just…It feels like we are blind to a lot of things around us. There is so much we don't know. Everything was so much easier back then. I mean, everything was fine. And now suddenly…Everything seems off balance.”

“Did something happen?” Jace inquired, clearly worried about Alec's confusing and cryptic confession.

“No,” Alec lied. “I know that coming out to Idris or to the world might not be in the cards for me. But my family…It can’t go that bad, right?”

“It won’t,” Izzy promised reaching out for his hand. “We will be there for you.”

“You promise?” Alec asked, his voice slightly wavering.

“On all the angels that guard Angel Square,” Jace vowed sincerely, putting his hand on top of Alec's other hand. “If this is what you want, we’ve got your back.”

“Okay, good,” Alec smiled at that. “I need to think about it some more."

"Take your time," Izzy smiled back as she squeezed his hand gently. 

"You two need to get out of my office and get to work." Alec grumbled, going from brother to boss in an instant. "Jace, don’t you have to be at the Blackwell site by noon?”

“Ugh, I hate the Blackwells!” Jace whined as he got off his chair. “I’ll see you losers tonight.”

“What’s tonight? Alec inquired, wondering if he had forgotten about a family gathering.

“Movie night!” Izzy announced cheerfully. “I am going to introduce you to Star Wars. You are going to love it!”

Both Jace and Alec groaned in response. Izzy had been talking way too much about movies and comics over the last couple of weeks. While he was happy his sister had found a new passion, he wasn’t super enthusiastic about the fact that he had to partake in it as well.

“Oh, stop it!” Izzy rolled her eyes. “There are hot guys and lots of brooding. You’ll like it!”

“What about me then?" Jace complained from the door.

“I invited Clary too,” Izzy smiled cheekily.

“Yay!” Jace the traitor beamed. “I’ll see you beautiful people tonight!”

He did not understand his brother’s obsession with the red head. Alec shook his head and looked back at his phone. No new texts from Magnus. Hmmm. Maybe he got busy or something.

“I gotta go. I have a meeting with Underhill and Simon – to discuss the security details of the Morning Star building,” Izzy told him.

“Cool,” Alec replied, now rereading his earlier conversation with Magnus. “Let me know how it goes.”

“Oh, I forgot! “Izzy clicked her tongue. “Lydia was looking for you. She wanted to talk to you about some social media campaign.”

“Did you forget anything else?” Alec scoffed at her.

“Actually, yes!” Izzy gave him that dangerous grin. “I don’t buy any of your bullshit!”

“What bullshit?”

“The it’s-just-work bullshit”

“Izzy, for the last time I was just t-”

“It’s all right, brother!” she waved him off as she walked towards the door. “All is fair in love and war.”

Alec couldn’t help but snort at that. “I know Magnus and I are not fond of each other. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a war between our companies.”

Izzy turned around and smirked at him. “Oh, I wasn't talking about the war part.”

And she just left like that.

His sister was exaggerating as usual. All he had to do was talk to another man and she would start planning their wedding. So, this was all very normal. Izzy was just being Izzy. There was absolutely nothing going on between him and Magnus Bane.

He quickly finished the report he was supposed to send his mother. Although his parents were in London to meet with The Clave at the moment, it didn’t mean that anyone at Idris got to slouch. It didn’t matter that Maryse and Robert Lightwood were not at Idris, everyone still followed their orders without fail.

Fear and respect are not the same, Magnus had told him. Alec couldn’t help but wonder whether everyone – including himself – at Idris followed the orders of his parents out of fear or respect. He hated the fact that he didn’t even have to think about the answer.  He just knew. He wondered whether this was the kind of leader he might turn out to be. He really didn't want to end up like his parents. 

He texted Lydia that he was on his way to meet her. After having a quick cup of coffee, Alec walked out of his office for his meeting. The Fairchild girl was standing next to her desk, staring intensely at the board in front of her.

“What are you up to?” Alec inquired, frowning at the design on the board.

Clary squeaked in surprised and dropped the file she was holding. “Mr. Lightwood! I am so sorry! I didn’t see you there.”

“Is this from the Carstairs project?” Alec asked, pointing at the design.

“Um, yes,” Clary replied, trying to take it down. “Raj asked me to give it you.”

“And instead you put it up on a board and have been doing what exactly? Alec questioned her skeptically.

“I…I just…,” the girl stammered.

Give her the benefit of the doubt, Alexander.

Alec took a deep breath and looked at her. “Clary, what is it?”

The girl blanched at him in surprise, as if she couldn’t believe that Alec knew her name. So much for not being like his parents.

“I just…Raj is great. He is a wonderful architect and has so much more experience,” Clary rambled.

“But?” Alec prompted her.

“But I think this design…It could do with some additional improvements,” she said at last.

Okay, in other words, she didn’t think it was good enough.

“What sort of improvements?” Alec quizzed.

“Well, for a library the parking space is too big. Most people in the target demographic use public transportation. So, this is just a waste of space.”

It was indeed true. The library was being built by James Carstairs as a gift to his wife. The purpose of the library was to attract young adults to read more and have access to reference books for free. So, obviously having a massive parking space for teenagers and college students seemed like a dumb decision. Alec wasn’t a designer or architect but even he could see that.

“And what would we do with all the extra space in the parking area?” 

“I was thinking maybe something like an outdoor reading area?” Clary suggested. “I read the file. Ms. Gray said the whole point was that most kids don’t spend much time outdoors anymore. Or enjoy reading a good book under a tree. So, maybe we can utilize this space so they can read outside too? We could set up some benches or even gazebos. It might be useful if they kids want to study as a group or even start a book club.”

Honestly, that wasn’t a bad idea at all. It seemed that Clary had more to offer than he had thought. Once again, Magnus was right.

“Take it down,” Alec ordered. Clary immediately took the design down, rolled it up and offered it to him.

“I want you to rework the design,” he informed her. “Incorporate your new ideas and give it to me by the end of next week. Do you think you can do that?”

“Me?” Clary asked in shock. “Um, yes. Of course! I would…Thank you.”

“Good work, Clary!” He nodded at her and left to meet Lydia.

His friend and trusted colleague was waiting for him on the 8th floor. Usually Alec would never set foot in the marketing department, but Lydia was tolerable than most people. Even though she belonged to one of the most reputed – and obviously wealthy – Shadowhunter families in Angel Square, she was well-mannered, modest and kind.

Apart from his siblings, she was one of the very few people at Idris that Alec trusted completely. He didn't know whether that said a lot about Idris or himself. He couldn’t wait to take over the company so he can implement better policies – one step at a time of course – with Lydia’s help.

“I got you coffee!” Lydia said in the way of a welcome.

“This is why you are my favorite colleague,” Alec confessed as he reached for the mug, even though he had a cup only a few minutes ago.

“Don’t let Jace hear that,” she giggled.

He chuckled back and settled down in front of her.

“So, about this social media campaign…” Lydia started to explain her ideas while Alec enjoyed his coffee.

Actually this was why he liked her the most. Lydia did not bullshit around and hated unnecessary small talk. She also understood that all kind of small talk was unnecessary.

Her point was spot on. Although Idris was popular and well-reputed, not everyone in New York knew about them. Idris mostly survived on old contacts and loyal clients. It relied heavily on family connections and the support of fellow Shadowhunters. Lydia suggested that they should be more present on social media in order to expand their client base. Alec couldn’t agree more.

It was absolutely essential for him to work with new people – not only because he wanted to make more profit but also for the sake of diversity. Before Magnus Alec would have liked nothing more than to stick to their regular client base. But after Magnus, he wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of new opportunities.

“I do have an idea to start off the campaign,” Lydia informed him in her you-probably-won’t-like-this voice.

Alec raised an eyebrow and Lydia started tapping her pen on the desk nervously.

“Um..I was wondering if…Well, as the head of Marketing…I think we should invite Magnus to help out with our Instagram campaign. We could maybe do a profile or an interview? He is one of our project partners and he has a massive reach on social media.”

Alec had seen, or stalked rather, the man's Instagram profile just last week. So, he understood Lydia's point. 

“I mean, imagine doing a photo shoot with Magnus in a construction site?” Lydia gushed. 

Yeah, don’t imagine that. Please don’t image Magnus in nothing but denim overalls, holding a sledge hammer over his shoulders, his dark hair falling on his face.

“So, what do you think?” Lydia thankfully interrupted his hazardous thoughts.

“M-Magnus?” Alec stammered. “Magnus Bane?”

“Um, yes?” she confirmed in a rather confused tone. “Is there a problem?”

Alec gulped at that and pushed away the image of Magnus with a sledge hammer. “Magnus is quite handsome.”

Lydia raised an eyebrow at that. 

Shit.

“Uh, I mean, um, Magnus charges quite handsomely for his services.”

Phew! That was close. Nice save, Lightwood!

“Yes, but I think it will be worth it,” Lydia told him confidently. “It would be so much better than doing a profile on any of our other partners. They are all boring.”

“Well, I agree. It might be good publicity,” Alec admitted.

“But then again, it depends on him too. Magnus not might…He is not very…”

“He hates Idris,” Alec finished for her.

“Yeah, that!” Lydia sighed tiredly. “But I was hoping you could talk to him?”

“Me? Why me?” Alec squeaked. “I don’t know him well. I don’t even know his middle name!”

“I don’t think he has a middle name,” Lydia informed him. “I just thought since you two are working closely together, you might have the chance to ask him in person.”

“Oh,” Alec said. His stupid brain had panicked for no reason! “Sure. I’ll try. Meanwhile, look for other potential candidates.”

“Of course,” Lydia smiled. “By the way, um, do you want to grab dinner this weekend? At my place?”

“I am hanging out with Jace this weekend,” Alec lied easily, a skill he had acquired just by turning girls down. “Rain check?”

“Sure!” Lydia replied cheerfully. “See you later, Lightwood!”

“Keep up the good work, Branwell!” he said in response and got the fuck out of there.

He liked Lydia. She was smart, confident, kind and also believed Starbucks should come up with a trenta cup for hot beverages.

But she wasn’t  a man. So, none of it really mattered.

In his teenage years, Alec had tried dating girls. He wasn’t experimenting, not really. He knew it in his heart that he will never be attracted to a woman. The whole dating phase had been more of a desperate attempt to prove to himself that he wasn’t gay or was at least bisexual. It had only taken him one date to realize that he was fooling no one but himself. So, he had given up the façade and accepted his fate.

As he walked back to his office, Clary ran up to him. “Mr. Verlac is here for his appointment. He is waiting for you in your office.”

Huh. It was only two in the afternoon. Well, better to get it over with so that Alec could maybe go home early for once.

“Thank you, Clary,” he nodded at the girl.

Sebastian was indeed waiting for him, sitting patiently and observing Alec’s room. The way Sebastian observed things, like he could see something that most people missed, was slightly unnerving.

“Sebastian, sorry to keep you waiting,” Alec said as he settled down.

“Nonsense,” the man replied with a dashing smile. “I am incredibly early. I was in the neighborhood. So, I thought I could finish this off too, if you have the time.”

“Of course, I understand,” Alec nodded politely.

They had set up the meeting to inform Morning Star about the final design of the project. Alec – along with Magnus – had gone over the design multiple times and had finally agreed that there was nothing more to add. Lorenzo and Underhill had done an amazing job with the design and Alec was glad that Simon had suggested the two architects should work together.

Magnus was supposed to be here today to discuss the design with Sebastian, but he was currently in California since he had a meeting with the Blackthorns. When the other man had told him that Alec would have to meet Sebastian on his own, Alec had been…disappointed.

He liked the way the Magnus’s eyes twinkled and his shoulders bounced slightly whenever he spoke of something he was passionate about.

Also, Magnus was better at communicating and articulating ideas. Yeah, it was mostly this reason and not the weird shoulder bouncing one.

Sebastian was happy with the design and had offered a couple of more suggestions for the layout in order to incorporate his company branding. Alec had taken down notes so that he could share it with Magnus and the architects later on.

“I am really glad this project is coming together well,” Sebastian smiled at him.

“Me too,” Alec replied. He didn’t think it would succeed, but it might even turn out to be his most successful project yet.

“You and Magnus have done a tremendous job. I am really satisfied with this partnership.” Sebastian confessed happily. “I have to be honest. I didn’t think you two would work well together considering your backgrounds.”

“Well, we are both professionals,” Alec explained, even though neither of them remembered that in the beginning. “It doesn’t matter that I am a Shadowhunter and he is a Downworlder. We could-”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that,” Sebastian intervened gently. “I meant your family backgrounds.”

Alec flinched at Sebastian’s implication. He knew exactly what the other man meant. His parents had built The Circle for Valentine, a church that brought nothing but death and destruction for the Downworld. Honestly, even some part of Alec was still surprised that Magnus had decided to work with Idris.

“Well, you are not wrong,” Alec agreed, even if he wanted to drop this conversation right now. “But Magnus…He understands. He knows how helpful this project will be for the Downworld.”

“He is a great man, isn’t he?” Sebastian wondered out loud. “I couldn’t imagine…I mean, his poor mother died in that church.”

His mother?

Alec hadn’t known that. Magnus had repeatedly mentioned that the riots had ruined everything for his people. He had blamed the Shadowhunters for destroying the Downworld. But he had never mentioned his mother. Alec knew that she was dead, but he hadn't known she had died that night in the fire.

“He told me that he was pretty close to her,” Sebastian said softly. “So, I was genuinely surprised when he agreed to work with the Lightwoods.”

Alec suddenly remembered a blue scarf embroidered with little lotuses. He remembered the face of a man who looked like he had lost the only thing that mattered to him in the world. He remembered Magnus Bane, looking broken and defenseless. That was not pretty close. That was the sort of relationship you would go to war for. 

“Like you said, he is a great man,” Alec replied rather strongly, hoping Sebastian would drop the topic.

“I am all about forgiveness but I cannot imagine working with a family that destroyed mine,” the other man confessed with a shudder.

Alec suddenly felt defensive. “I know my parents built The Circle. But other Shadowhunters are just as much to blame for everything that happened that night. It was all Valent-”

“Well, Valentine didn’t set fire to the church,” Sebastian intervened. “Your parents did.”

Out of all the things to do, Alec had to laugh.

He wasn’t surprised by his own reaction because what Sebastian had said was just completely ridiculous.

“I am sorry, I just-” Alec tried to get his thoughts together. “Did you just say my parents set fire to The Circle?”

Sebastian looked confused. “Um, yes. Isn’t that why The Clave monitors Idris? Because of their record?”

What?

“While I was in London, I worked directly with The Clave for a while,” Sebastian explained further. “That’s how I learned all of this. I found out that your family had to pay billions to The Clave as reparations. It is why they eventually had to borrow money from the Clave itself.”

Reparations?

“It was actually why I wanted to give this project to you,” Sebastian continued. “I know your parents made a mistake. But Idris deserves a second chance. You are just a victim in all of this, Alec. Just like Magnus. You two can do better.”

Every word coming out Sebastian's mouth turned out to be more and more dreadful. 

“I see that this is still a sensitive topic,” Sebastian said suddenly, looking worried. “I should go. I am so sorry if I had offended you in any way.”

Alec regained his composure and gave him a weak smile. “Don't worry about it. I will talk to Magnus and the architects about your branding suggestions.”

“Wonderful,” Sebastian smiled, although he still looked slightly concerned. “I will see you soon then.”

As the door closed and Sebastian left, Alec’s world stopped spinning as he finally realized something.

Valentine might have built the bonfire that destroyed the Downworld. But his parents had lit the match – quite literally. Everything that happened on the night of the riots transpired because of what happened to the church. Everything happening right now, the divide between Angel Square and the Downworld, was because of what happened to The Circle. Everything happened because his parents had set fire to that church that night.

Maybe this was just gossip. Maybe Sebastian had heard about another family instead. Maybe this was some jealous competitor spreading false rumors. Maybe this was nothing at all.

He prayed that it was truly nothing because - may the angels help him - he didn’t want to be the one to tell Magnus Bane that his mother was killed by the Lightwoods.

Chapter Text

He blocked out Raphael’s voice and looked over the window, hoping the other man wasn’t saying anything too important. He was in Raphael's office to finalize the construction team for the Blackthorn project. Helen and the others had been more than happy with his proposal and everything had gone well in California.

Magnus had yet again completed another successful project for Edom. He had met up with some of his closest and oldest friends. He had even secured another contract for his company with the Carstairs via the Blackthorns. All in all, the short trip to California had been an overall success. And yet, the best part about that trip was the messages. The little nonsensical texts and quips he had shared with one Mr. Alexander Gideon Lightwood.

The man had consumed his thoughts over the last couple of weeks and Magnus didn’t know how he felt about that. He tried to convince himself that his feelings towards the Shadowhunter...It was nothing more than empathy towards a fellow queer man.

Maybe it was just that. Maybe he was overthinking everything. Alec Lightwood was nothing but a colleague and maybe a friend. Surely this is how Alec must feel about him too.

“And then he sent me one on civility in the workplace,” Raphael was complaining from his desk. “This was right after he sent me the one on the benefits of smiling. I mean, is he trying to tell me something?”

He wondered what Raphael would make of this. The boy would obviously find it hilarious, that is if Magnus ever managed to figure out what exactly ‘this’ and ‘it’ meant in the current context. How could he talk to anyone about his feelings when he himself wasn’t sure what exactly these feelings meant?

Ever since Camille, Magnus had been skeptical about relationships in general. After the stunts she had pulled on him – and Edom by extension – it was hard to love someone without feeling vulnerable. Of course, what he felt towards the Shadowhunter wasn’t love. Christ, no. But it was something significant; Magnus could understand as that much.

The need to protect Alec, the need to make him happy, the need to see him succeed felt odd – especially considering the fact that Magnus had wanted nothing but to destroy the other man not so long ago.

It was funny.

It was funny how time influenced the way you feel about people. He had thought that he would love Camille for the rest of his life and now the very thought of that woman angered the deepest parts of his soul. He had hated the sight of Alec Lightwood before and now a simple smiley face from the other man seemed to be the highlight of his day.

It wasn’t funny. It was fucking hilarious.

“You really need to talk to him about the passive-aggressive TED talk recommendations, Magnus! I am tired of hiding behind Simon every time I have to pass your father’s office!”

Magnus looked up at the latest victim of his father’s latest hobby.

“What do you think Camille is up to these days?” Magnus asked out of the blue.

Raphael’s eyes widened at the mention of his cousin’s name. “If you are thinking of reuniting with that she-demon, I am going to tie you to this chair right now.”

“Kinky. But, no thanks!” Magnus snickered at him. “I was just thinking about her.”

“Thinking about Camille?” Raphael wondered. “That can’t be good.”

While that may be true, his current no-good thoughts were not about his evil ex. They were about someone else, some who hadn’t quite mastered the art of using emojis and had questionable taste in music.

“I am just fascinated how time changes the way we feel about other people,” Magnus shrugged as he settled down again.

“Why is everyone unnecessarily cryptic in Edom? Why can’t you people talk normally?” Raphael grumbled, rolling his eyes into another dimension.

Magnus chuckled at the boy’s annoyance and gen-z attitude. “What I am trying to say is that I used to love Camille more than anything in the world. Now I don’t. Do you think that’s how it works with everyone?”

Raphael, who was not the one for deep conversations, just shrugged at that. “I dunno. I suppose so. I mean, I used to hate you when we first met. Now I tolerate your presence.”

He gasped at the response. “You love me, Raphael Santiago! Admit it or I will ask my father to send you TED talks on repression.”

“Please don’t,” Raphael pleaded, the fear in his eyes quite real.

Magnus made a mental note to use this weapon against Raphael in the future if necessary. The conversation about Camille was forgotten, thanks to his father’s antiques, and they refocused on the Blackthorn project. After finalizing the team and advising Raphael to reach out to them immediately, Magnus opened the calendar on his phone to see his next task for the day.

There was nothing important or urgent for the rest of the afternoon and Magnus decided that he might as well call it a day. Even though he was his own boss - well sort of, he is getting there - he was used to doing most of his work and being the last one to leave the building. But today, he was going to go home early, read a good book and enjoy a martini or three.

“Sometimes the way we feel about people changes because the way they treat us changes with time too.”

Magnus looked up at that to find Raphael looking slightly serious and slightly uncomfortable.

“Camille used to treat you like a king. As if you were the only thing that mattered in the universe. So, of course you loved her and worshipped her. But then she started neglecting you and hurting you and treating you like trash.  So, your current hatred towards her is also valid. If the way we see people changes with time, it is because our experiences with them changes too. It’s not really the time that changes, Magnus. It is how they make us feel.”

Magnus stared at the other boy, slightly stunned but also slightly proud.

“Goddamnit, Raphael!” Magnus cursed. “You really have been watching those TED talks, huh?”

“Fuck off!” the boy replied eloquently.

Unexpected as Raphael’s wisdom was, Magnus couldn’t argue with the boy’s logic. It really did depend on how other people made us feel. Our opinions, our judgments and our attitudes toward them – it wasn’t based on their actions or morals or talents. At the end of the day, it always boiled down to how they made us feel.

Camille had made him feel valued, so he had loved her. But then she had made him feel vulnerable, so now he hated her.

He realized that this was maybe how it worked with everyone, including Alec Lightwood.

The man had made him feel worthless and underprivileged, so Magnus had hated him. But now he made him feel…

What exactly does Alec make him feel now?

Ugh. There was too much sun light and not enough vodka to have this crisis right now.

A knock on Raphael’s door luckily interrupted his tedious analysis.

“There you are!” Simon sagged in relief as he spotted Magnus. “I have been looking everywhere for you.”

“You could have called me!” Magnus pointed out exasperatedly.

“Yes, true,” Simon admitted sheepishly. “But I was looking for an excuse to escape your father. He was in my office telling me about the negative effects of Netflix.”

Raphael glared at Magnus in response.

“Fine, okay!” Magnus sighed tiredly, rubbing his face. “I’ll talk to him tonight. No more unsolicited advice.”

“While I am very grateful for your intervention, that’s not why I am here,” Simon informed him. “Alec Lightwood is here to see you. I directed him to your office.”

“Alec is here?” Magnus squealed and quickly proceeded to clear his throat. “I’ll be there in a moment. Thanks, Simon!”

It was so much easier to think about Alec when he was miles away. The fact that he was right here, in the same building, it brought up feelings – feelings he couldn’t successfully ID yet.

Not now. Gotta move.

He picked up the phone from Raphael’s table and dialed the number with practiced ease.

“Gretel, dear! I have a guest in my office. Could you please send in a black coffee, two sugars? Thank you.”

He ended the call and took a deep breath. Okay, this doesn’t have to be hard. Magnus was very good at business-ing. He can handle whatever Alec was here for. As he got up and adjusted his jacket, he desperately hoped his vocabulary would come back to him by the time he reached his office.

When he looked up from the phone, Raphael was staring at him with a curious look on his face.

“What?” Magnus asked exasperatedly.

“You know his coffee order?”

“What?” Magnus asked confused.

“Lightwood,” Raphael pointed out. “You know his coffee order.”

It was no longer a question and was more of a statement this time.

“So?” Magnus shrugged incredulously. What was this about? What’s weird about knowing the coffee order of your ex-arch-nemesis and current whatever-the-hell-Alec-is-now?

“A coffee order is a pretty intimate detail to know about someone,” Raphael elaborated, his eyebrow still raised perfectly.

“There is nothing intimate about a coffee order, Raphael!” Magnus commented in an annoyed tone. “It is a pretty basic detail to know about someone.”

“Alright then. You’ve known me for more than a decade. What’s my coffee order?” Raphael quizzed, crossing his arms.

“You don’t even drink coffee!” Magnus exclaimed.

“Yes, I do. It's cinnamon latte, you ungrateful bastard!” Raphael exclaimed back, looking very much offended.

Oh.

“Well, I probably fo-”

“Don’t even try. Now get out of here before I throw the printer at you.”

Magnus didn’t need to be told twice so he bolted towards his office, partly because he really didn’t want to get hit by a printer and partly because he wanted to see Alec Lightwood’s face.

Unlike Alec’s, Magnus’ office door was made of sleek wood and luckily not transparent. So, he paused outside the door for a moment to catch his breath after that unnecessary Tom Cruise style sprint. Alright, breathe in and breath out. That's it. 

Okay. I’ve got this.

He walked into his office, hoping to see the other man seated calmly or frowning at something on his phone. But the vision that was waiting for him on the other side of that door was not what he had expected at all.

Alec was sitting on the floor - his jacket discarded on the couch, his sleeves folded up to his forearms – playing with a bunch of colorful toy blocks with Madzie.

Okay. I haven’t got this.

“Magnus!” Madzie greeted him cheerfully, even though she had last seen him half an hour ago. “We are building a fort!”

Sure enough, there was a tiny fort between the man and the child – a beautiful piece of architecture that was horribly color coordinated.

He had completely forgotten about the fact that he was babysitting Madzie until Catarina returned from her meeting with the Spiral Labyrinth – one of the biggest investors in the Downworld.

“Okay. We need a yellow-colored triangle-shaped one,” Alec informed the little girl, even though it was right next to him. “Can you find that one for me, Madzie?”

The girl scanned her surrounding with a serious face and spotted the block lying next to Alec’s leg. “There it is!”

As she reached over to pick up the block, her tiny foot hit the toy fort and the whole thing came crumbling down. Madzie stared at the fallen fort and looked as if she was going to cry.

“Hey, it’s okay!” Alec consoled her before Magnus could intervene. “We can build another, alright?”

Madzie sniffled quietly, picking up the blocks on the floor.

“Magnus, will you help us build a new fort?” Alec asked him in what Catarina would have called the talking-to-a-toddler voice.

How the fuck is one supposed to say no to THAT?

“Of course,” Magnus smiled at the both of them. “Maybe we’ll coordinate the colors this time.”

Alec chuckled at that. “The colors don’t matter.”

Magnus gasped and covered Madzie’s ears quickly. “Colors don’t matter? Alexander, how could you?”

They built the fort for the next few minutes, passing blocks to each other and trading stories quietly. It was the calmest Magnus had ever felt within his office walls.

He didn’t know why Alec was in Edom, more specifically in his office, but he didn’t want to ask. He didn’t want to interrupt whatever was happening right now. He wanted this to last for as long as possible.

Alec and Madzie were working on a fence while Magnus was securing the fort.

“Madzie, if it is too warm, why don’t you take off the scarf?” the Shadowhunter asked the little girl. Magnus looked at his niece to see that she was fidgeting with her scarf.

“It’s okay, Madzie,” Magnus told her gently. “You can remove the scarf.”

The girl took off the purple scarf and gingerly laid it on the floor. Alec, who was sitting on her right and therefore had a good view of the scar on her neck, didn’t bat an eye. The Shadowhunter went back to building the fence when the girl spoke up in her small voice.

“Is it ugly?”

Alec smiled at her softly as he placed a couple of red cylinder blocks on the fence. “I think it looks cool.”

Magnus knew all about scars and how it can affect one’s self-esteem. Of course, his scars were not visible and were hidden away in his heart but still it did make him doubt himself every once in a while. Scars can be annoying like that.

“My friends think it is weird,” Madzie admitted to no one in particular as they continued to build the fort.

Madzie had got the scar when she was no more than two. Catarina had been returning home from a late shift that night when a burglar had pried the toddler away from her hands and held a knife to her throat demanding money.

Just another Tuesday night for most Downworlders to be honest.

The police sirens had gone off somewhere as Catarina was fumbling to find the money in her bag and the burglar had dropped the child in a hurry and had run off to nowhere. In the middle of all the chaos, the knife had somehow managed to cut the child’s throat.

Fortunately Catarina had first-aid training – like someone else in the room – and had been able stop the bleeding and get help immediately. Even though they had all gotten over the horrible incident, Madzie had become more and more self-conscious of her scar – especially since she joined school last year.

“Scars are not all bad,” Alec told her as he passed a green cube to the girl.

Madzie just hummed in return and focused on the fort. Magnus was about to tell the Shadowhunter to drop it since it was of no use. Everyone, including her own mother and even Magnus, had tried to convince Madzie that the scar was nothing to be ashamed of. But despite their efforts, the girl had decided to wear a scarf over it every single day.

“You see this one?” Alec asked her, pointing at the scar on his eyebrow. “Do you wanna know how I got it?”

Before Magnus could say that Alec didn’t have to, Madzie intervened. “Did a thief try to cut you with a knife too?”

Alec’s eyes widened and searched Magnus’ face for a second. Magnus just shrugged hoping that it conveyed the horrible reality of street violence in the Downworld.

“Well, no” Alec corrected her in a gentle voice. “I got it when I was nine, just a couple of years older than you.”

“What happened?” Madzie asked, the fort completely abandoned by her side.

“There was this kid in my class and he didn’t really like me. I don’t really remember why. Sometimes kids can be mean to other kids for no reason. Anyway, this boy used to bully me around all the time. Throwing basketballs at me during PE or spilling ink on my homework or toppling my lunch tray – he did all sorts of things.”

“He sounds bad,” Madzie scrunched up her tiny nose as Magnus listened to the story quietly.

“He was bad,” Alec admitted. “But I don’t think he was trying to be. He was just trying to be cool or popular.”

“Hurting someone is never cool,” Madzie declared and Alec beamed at her proudly. Magnus couldn’t help but be proud of his niece either.

“Did the bad boy give you the scar by cutting you with a knife?” Madzie inquired the Shadowhunter again.

“Not a knife. I was in the playground with my sister and he tried to stab me in the eye with a compass – it’s a tool you use in geometry class. I am sure Magnus can show you one later. Anyway, I tackled him, the boy missed. But he still slashed my eyebrow, which is how I got this.”

Christ, Magnus thought. One might think Shadowhunter children would be all about following the law and abiding rules but apparently not.

“He left the compass on the ground. So, I picked it up and kept it with me – just in case anyone tried to hurt me again.”

Magnus remembered the little knife he carried with him every day to school and realized that maybe he wasn’t the only one who used to carry a weapon to protect himself.

“I tried to hide the scar from my parents because I didn’t want them to find out. They wouldn’t be happy that I was involved in a fight, you see. So, I avoided them for a few days. Until one day, my mom found the compass under my pillow and figured out what had happened.”

“Did she shout at you?” Madzie whispered, fully engaged in the story.

“No, she didn’t,” Alec answered to Magnus’ surprise, because that’s not the response you would expect from Maryse Lightwood.

“She told me that the compass is not a weapon used to destroy but a tool used to create. She held my hand and taught me how to draw with it. She is an amazing architect. The best I have seen. That was the first time I realized I wanted to build forts when I grew up.”

“That’s good,” Madzie commented, clearly satisfied with the ending of Alec’s story. “You are good at building forts.”

“If I had hid that scar from my mom, I probably would have been scared of the compass my entire life. I would have sucked at geometry and I definitely wouldn't decided to build forts when I grew up,” Alec continued as they finished up the fort. “My point is that sometimes good things happen when you learn to embrace your scars instead of hiding them.”

Madzie thought about that for a minute seriously, her little face looking pensive, and pulled at her scarf again. “So, I shouldn’t wear this?”

Alec shook his head immediately. “You should do what makes you feel comfortable.”

The girl nodded as if she understood the depth of his words. “But what if other kids laugh at me in school?”

“I used to worry about that too,” Alec informed her. “I actually stole an eyebrow pencil from my mom’s makeup bag and colored the bald spot so no one would find out.”

“You must have looked silly,” the little girl giggled.

“I definitely did,” Alec chuckled back. “I didn’t mind having a scar. It looked pretty badass.”

“Mine looks pretty badass too,” Madzie admitted shyly.

Alec smiled at her fondly.

“You have to care less about what other people think of you,” he said, pointing at his eyebrow.

“And?” Madzie prompted, tightly clutching her silk scarf.

“And you have to care more about what you think of yourself,” he said, pointing at his heart.

The girl quietly observed him for a minute. It looked like she was trying to figure out the meaning behind his words. She got up from the floor, walked over to the bin and threw the scarf inside.

“Okay. No more hiding,” Madzie smiled at the Shadowhunter.

Well, would you look at that?

Alec stared at the girl in surprise, as if he didn’t believe that she would actually take his advice.

“Madzie, you don’t have to d-”

“I want to,” Madzie said as she walked over to them both. “I want to be brave like you.”

Alec had once told him that he wanted to be brave like Magnus. Now, the little girl wanted to be brave like Alec. He hoped that Madzie's own bravery would inspire someone else.

The Shadowhunter seemed pleased with her admission as he pulled her into a tiny hug. Magnus wanted nothing more than to be a part of that embrace. And it turned out to be his lucky day since Madzie pulled him into the hug.

His heart stilled as his head rested on the Shadowhunter’s chest. Magnus softly breathed in the smell of fresh laundry and expensive cologne.

“Magnus is quiet today,” Madzie pointed out. “It is very weird.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Alec puzzled, his voice suddenly concerned.

“I just didn’t want to interrupt your bonding session,” Magnus commented cheekily and lifted up Madzie in his arms. “Time to go home, sweet pea. Your mom will be waiting for you.”

Madzie pouted at that and said a reluctant goodbye to Alec. He shook the little girl’s hand dramatically and waved at her as Magnus opened the door.

“Give me a minute. I’ll take her to Catarina and be right back.”

The Shadowhunter nodded at him politely. “Sure. Take your time.”

Catarina was sipping on her coffee and frowning at her laptop when Magnus walked in with Madzie.

“Hello, tulip! Did you have fun with uncle Magnus?” Catarina inquired as the little girl kissed Magnus on the cheek and ran to her mom.

“Yes!” Madzie squealed. “We built a big fort with Alec Lighthouse. It was tall like him.”

Catarina raised an eyebrow at that. “You wanna tell me what she is talking about?”

“Nope,” Magnus replied curtly and walked away from her office before his best friend started to interrogate him.

When he got back to his office, with his heart feeling light and funny, Alec was back on the chair, happily sipping his coffee. He would never get tired of watching Alec drink his coffee with that dopey grin on his face.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Magnus asked, trying to maintain some modicum of professionalism.

“Um, what?”

“I assume you didn’t come here just to build forts with my niece,” Magnus teased, hoping he wasn’t being too much.

“Shit, yeah,” Alec realized and looked suddenly worried. “I-I, uh, I forgot.”

Oh.

“It’s okay,” Magnus smiled, not wanting to show his disappointment. “You can text me when you remember.”

They both sat there quietly, not knowing what to say or do next. Well, it was obvious that the Shadowhunter had to leave now but it seemed like neither of them wanted that.

“Um, I should go,” Alec mentioned awkwardly.

But does he want to? Should I ask him to stay? Maybe have another cup of coffee? Surely, he wouldn’t say no to that, right?

“Of course,” Magnus said instead. “Peace.”

Did he just say ‘peace’? What the fuck?

Alec walked over to the door and Magnus’ stupid impulses took over his brain. “Do you think you can give me a ride to Angel Square?”

The Shadowhunter turned around immediately and gave him a dashing grin.

“Sure,” the man said without even asking any further questions.

Fuck. Where should he go? Well, he was planning to go home. But that’s like ten minutes away and that was not enough. They walked into the parking lot quietly and Alec suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“That’s your car, right?” he wondered, pointing at the pink convertible.

Goddamnit! This was exactly why lying is a bad habit.

“Yeah, but Raphael is borrowing it for the day,” Magnus managed quickly.

“Okay, cool,” Alec nodded and walked over to his black Audi.

Alec sat down behind the wheel as Magnus settled on the passenger seat. They had done this once before, sitting next to each other in a car and travelling together. But this was nothing like the last time, everything between them had shifted over the course of a few weeks.

He turned around and noticed the man next to him - his lean body, his well-fitted signature white shirt, his strong arms and that sinfully long neck.

Shit. Quick, think disgusting thoughts!

Getting married to Camille. Raphael singing. Simon in a princess Leia costume. His father doing a TED talk. Living in Angel Square. Angels. Dark hair. Hazel eyes. Dopey smiles. Sinfully long necks.

Oh for fuck’s sake.

“Are you okay? Alec inquired, pulling Magnus out of his not-so-okay train of thought. “You look like you are having a fit.”

“Yeah, I am fine. The sun…is strong today.”

Alec reached over to the glove compartment and Magnus was enveloped in the smell of the man’s cologne again.

“Do you want sunglasses?” Alec asked, offering him a pair.

“No, thanks!” Magnus said quickly.

“Um, okay,” Alec nodded and put them on instead of putting them away.

Magnus gazed at the man once more. The Shadowhunter looked like he was going to a James Dean look-alike contest. Not fucking fair.

They travelled in silence, listening to some band Magnus couldn’t recognize. He really needed to talk to Alec about his musical palate. Is that a normal conversation to have with an ex-nemesis now friend-ish? Who was he to Alec? Just an ex-nemesis? Just a project partner? Just a friend who buys him coffee once in a while? Just some sort of queer Yoda? What would happen to them once the Morning Star project was over?

“So, where are we going?” Alec inquired.

“Um, I don’t know. I mean I have been thinking about it too. It is not a normal situation, is it? So, I am wondering if-,”

He noticed the Shadowhunter’s confused face and mentally face palmed himself.

“You meant where we are going right now. Yes. Of course. Just drop me somewhere close to 42nd avenue please.”

Magnus decided to stop talking before he embarrassed himself any further.

“Oh. Are going there for work?” Alec inquired, as they drove past the elegant and wealthy neighborhoods in Angel Square.

“No. I am visiting a bookstore,” Magnus informed him. “I need to pick up a couple of books.”

Alec turned his face and looked at Magnus. He couldn’t see what the other man was thinking as his eyes were masked by the sunglasses.

“You mean the old one on the corner of 42nd avenue?”

“It’s not that old,” Magnus defended the bookstore immediately.

Garroway’s Books was a quaint little establishment that was run by Maia, Luke’s cousin. The bookstore belonged to Jocelyn and Luke, when they used to be Shadowhunters. After joining the force, Luke had hired his cousin to look after place since he wanted something to remember Jocelyn by. 

“You’ve been there?” Magnus asked the other man, wondering whether the Shadowhunter liked to read as much as he did.

“Once in a while. Jace used to go there all the time,” Alec replied as he turned into 42nd avenue.

“Jace can read?” Magnus gasped.

Alec laughed at that. “I think he was just went there to hit on the girl running the bookstore.”

Yeah that made more sense. Poor thing must have thought he could land Maia.

As Alec pulled in front of the bookstore, Magnus fidgeted with his jacket. Ugh, why was there no traffic on the road today? What the hell, New York? Maybe they should driven to a bookstore in California or something. Magnus wouldn’t have minded that.

Alec peered at the store through the windows and took off this sunglasses.

“I have always found this bookstore to be…odd.”

“Odd?”

“Every other building in 42nd avenue or the whole of Angel Square…They are all so different.” Alec explained while still looking at the store. “They are tall and majestic and shiny and elegant and royal. They look like they belong in Angel Square. And then there is this one. It is simple, small and made of wood. It doesn’t look like it belongs on this side of town.”

Magnus didn’t know what to say to that except, “I don’t know. I think it’s pretty nice.”

“Yeah?” Alec asked, his voice sounding hopeful for some reason.

“Yeah. It’s not like every other building in Angel Square and I think that’s what makes it attractive. It might not be luxurious or elegant. But it feels warm and familiar. Actually, this is the only building in Angel Square that I really like.”

“So, would you say that it is better than the Eiffel Tower?” Alec asked randomly.

“The Eiffel Tower is overrated, Alexander!” 

“It is, isn’t it?” the man smiled, obviously pleased with Magnus’ response.

Magnus couldn’t help but smile back. He removed his seatbelt and mentally prepared himself to leave the other man’s presence. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy at all.

“Magnus, I-” the Shadowhunter spoke suddenly. “What I wanted to tell you before, I- I don’t know how to-”

The worry in other man’s face was obvious and Magnus heart ached immediately. What was wrong? Was he okay? What could he do to help?

“Alexander,” Magnus said softly and the other man closed his eyes as if he were in pain.

“It’s about my parents.”

Oh.

It mustn’t have been easy being raised by Maryse and Robert Lightwood. It mustn’t have been easy being the son of the Shadowhunters who build the church that destroyed hundreds of lives. Magnus hated Maryse and Robert Lightwood for their contribution to the riots, but he can’t and he won’t blame Alec for it.

“Did they say something to you?” Magnus asked quietly, not wanting to push. “Did they find out?”

Alec’s eyes widened at that. “No. No. I just….I have been thinking…What they did to you…I mean, the Downworld. The riots caused all the chaos that followed and they-”

“They are as responsible as any Shadowhunter who contributed to the riots,” Magnus interrupted him softly. “I know they built The Circle but…Valentine asked them to do that.”

Alec sniffled quietly. “But they were the ones who-”

“The ones who what?”

“Magnus, I am so sorry,” Alec told him, looking away from his face.

“Why are you sorry?” Magnus asked, genuinely perplexed. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“But my parents…They-”

“We are not responsible for the sins of our parents, Alexander. We are only responsible for ours.”

He wanted to reach out and wipe away the tear from the other man’s face but kept his hands to himself.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. You were a child back then just as I was. You couldn’t have done anything.”

Alec sat next to him quietly, thinking god knows what, as Magnus waited patiently. After what seemed like hours, the other man finally wiped away his tears and look over at Magnus.

“Yeah, okay. You are right. I shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not my fault.”

Magnus gave him a small smile, hoping the Shadowhunter actually meant what he said.

“Good. If you are looking for something to feel guilty about, I'd pick your taste in music.”

Alec gasped at the response, genuinely shocked and offended. The gasp turned into a giggle and the man quickly covered his mouth.

“I am never playing anything in front of you again!”

“And my ears thank you for that.”

“Grateful Dead isn’t bad!”

“And all Shadowhunters are good.”

The smile immediately disappeared from the other man’s face and Magnus mentally kicked himself for his horrible timing.

“But some of them are nice,” Magnus offered quickly.

Some of them are really trying,” Alec sighed.

“I am proud of some of them,” Magnus confessed.

Alec looked up at that and he had that smile on – the one that visits his face whenever Magnus says he is proud of the other man. It was Magnus’ favorite one so far.

“Is that why you came to Edom? To apologize on behalf of your parents.”

The panic and worry returned to the man’s face again and Magnus regretted asking. What was he so worried about? What was he afraid of? Did he not feel comfortable sharing it with Magnus? But then again, why would he?

“I…No. That’s not why I came to see you,” Alec admitted, avoiding eye contact again. “I wanted to tell you…I wanted to tell you about…My parents, um, they….Magnus, I don’t know how to-”

“Alexander, whatever it is that you are worried about, let it go.”

“I am worried that you would hate me,” Alec whispered softly.

“Hate you?" Magnus asked, his confusion clear on his face.

“Magnus, you hated me for years. You hated me last month,” Alec pointed out.

“Well, I didn’t know you back then and I didn’t trust you,” Magnus explained.

As Raphael pointed out, the way Alec treated him changed with him. The way Alec made him feel changed with time. He wanted to contact past Magnus and tell him to trust the Shadowhunter, to give him a chance. He hated the fact that he knew himself and his prejudices well enough to know that his past self would have never listened to his advice. 

“Do you now?” Alec asked suddenly.

“Do I what?”

“Do you trust me now?” Alec asked again, not looking away this time.

“Yes, I do.”

It scared him how quickly the answer came to him. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like the way every cell in his body told him to trust the man in front of him. And that’s when he realized how he felt about Alec Lightwood.

It was fear.

He was afraid that he was going to get hurt again. He was afraid that he was making a mistake. He was afraid that Alec would betray his trust.

But he wasn’t going to give up. He wasn’t going to cave. Because underneath that fear, uncertainty and all the flashing warning signals in neon light, Magnus could see one thing clearly – he was exactly where he was meant to be, beside Alexander Lightwood.

“I trust you, Alexander,” he said once more and was ready to say it as many times as necessary. “I may not feel that way about all Shadowhunters but I trust you.”

“Why?” Alec asked, as if it was a stupid thing for Magnus to do.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. But that’s the thing about trust. It makes you do strange things.

“I don’t know,” Magnus confessed honestly because he didn't know either. “But you have my trust and I know you won’t break it.”

Alec closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. Magnus felt the need to reach out again and squeeze his hand. He craved that touch so badly but stopped himself because it was too soon and too personal. He needed to be more cautious. They were just project partners after all.  They were nothing more than old enemies. Queer pals. Venting bros.  

Right?

"Whatever it is that you have to tell me, I would never hate you. I promise," Magnus told the Shadowhunter, meaning every single word of it. 

"Because you trust me?" Alec asked without opening his eyes. 

"Because I trust you," Magnus smiled, even though the man couldn't see it.

And when Alec opened his eyes again, there was something different about his hazel pupils. He looked like he had made up his mind, but for some reason it didn't make Magnus feel better as he thought it would. Alec smiled at him then and this one - Magnus didn't like this one. There was something different about it too. 

“I am thinking about coming out to my parents.”

Oh. That’s what he wanted to talk about? Well, it was a big deal for the other man and it made sense why Alec was terrified on the inside. But why did Alec think Magnus would hate him for that?

And what did this all have to do with Magnus anyway? This was between Alec and his parents. 

“I just wanted your advice,” Alec mentioned, somehow reading Magnus’ thoughts. “I am worried about what they would …How they would react to this.”

Okay, this made more sense. Maybe he was just queer Yoda.

"My advice?" Magnus wondered. It was probably because he was the only queer person Alec kn-

"And no, it's not because you are the only queer person I know," Alec the mind-reader interrupted him. "You are not some queer Mr. Miyagi."

"You mean, queer Yoda?"

"The tiny, old, green man?" Alec raised a brow. "Don't ask. Izzy had been forcing us to watch Star Wars. Someone is being a bad influence on her."

Magnus decided it to be safer to keep the identity of that 'someone' to himself. "Well, if we are talking about iconic mentors, I'd say I am somewhere between Gandalf and-"

"My point is," Alec interjected, clearly having no interest in his pop culture knowledge. "I ask for your advice because...Because I trust you too."

"You do?" Magnus asked surprised. It's not everyday you find a Shadowhunter who trusts a Downworlder - especially someone like Magnus Bane.

"I do," Alec smiled and this one Magnus liked. This one seemed genuine. 

“You don’t need my advice, Alec. You just need to remember your own.”

Alec cocked his head to one side, looking genuinely confused. And this time – this time Magnus couldn’t help but reach out. Fuck caution. 

“You have to care less about what other people think of you,” Magnus whispered, running his thumb softly over the other’s man eyebrow scar.

The other man stopped breathing for a second and Magnus realized that they were not just project partners or old enemies or queer pals. This was definitely something more and they both knew it.

“And you have to care more about what you think of yourself,” he finished, bringing his hand down and resting it on the other man’s chest.

He could feel the Shadowhunter’s heart beating rapidly behind the fabric of his crisp white shirt. Magnus wanted to know whether it was because of his touch. He desperately wanted it to be because of his touch – because underneath the bottle green silk shirt, his own heart was beating furiously, threatening to break out of his ribcage.

It was only hit him when he walked into the bookstore, not a few minutes later, and was greeted by Maia’s sweet face and was surrounded by the familiar smell of old books and cinnamon in the air.

His feelings towards the Shadowhunter were nothing like those he had felt for Camille.

He had loved Camille, yes. He had worshipped her. But he never trusted the woman, not once. Something inside him had constantly told him that he could never trust her even after being with her for years. But Alec Lightwood – he trusted the man in a matter of weeks despite knowing barely anything about him. And there was one other thing about Camille that made him realize that they were never really meant to be – even when they were dating and were ridiculously in love.

There was no hope. There was no hope for a future. There was no hope for Magnus and Camille. There was no hope at all.

But with Alexander…

Despite the obstacles in their path, despite differences in their lives, despite all the ugly history…

There was hope for Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood.

Chapter Text

One of the hardest things in life is confronting the people you look up to.

There are people in your life that you consider to be perfect – people who could do no harm, people who always somehow make the right decisions. They are the kind of people you want to be someday, if you are lucky.

And when you realize that these people are not as perfect as you thought they were…Well, it feels like shit. It feels as if you have been betrayed on a very personal level. That is exactly how Alec was feeling right now – sitting across his parents at Idris Incorporated.

“She is an intern! How could you choose her design over Raj’s? The girl has no experience and zero knowledge about how things work at Idris! And yet, you approved her designs. I never thought you would compromise our standards for a pretty face, Alec. I am very disappointed in you.”

His mother was staring him down like a child, expecting him to crumble beneath her intense gaze. On any other day, Alec would have. The look Maryse Lightwood was giving him was enough to bring anyone to their knees. And her words – If she had told Alec that she was disappointed in him before, he would been devastated. He might have even cried himself to sleep because that is what happens when you disappoint people you seek validation from.

But like he had to come realize, when that perfect opinion about them changes, it became so easy not to be intimidated by them. It became so easy not to fall for the traps of unrealistic expectations. It became so easy to stand up for yourself.

“I agree with you, mother,” Alec responded coolly. “Clary has no experience in the field. Yet her designs are far superior and practical compared to a professional’s. I approved her design because it showed promise. It had nothing to do with her face.”

Maryse scoffed at that and walked away from him. Alec heard his father sigh deeply in the corner. The older man looked tired – much more than usual.

“It’s not just about that, son,” he intervened between the two of them. “Raj is from a reputed Shadowhunter family. He is the sole heir of the Nightshadows, who are important members of The Clave. This decision is going to ruffle some feathers. The Clave will not be pleased.”

What kind of nepotistic bullshit is this?

“So I am supposed to base my decisions on people’s parentage and not their potential?”

His mother turned towards him sharply - her gaze incredulous and uncompromising.

“You are supposed to be smart. Aggravating respected members of The Clave was an idiotic thing to do.”

“No. The idiotic thing to do was to assign a gigantic parking space for a public library for teens!”

Maryse crossed her arms in defiance and shook her head in displeasure. “I don’t know if I am more appalled at your poor decision-making or your petulant attitude. You have been acting out ever since you started on the Morning Star project. I knew working with the Downworlders would result in such reckless behavior.”

In that moment, Alec understood what Magnus had meant the other day. They were discussing more about Shadowhunter-Downworlder politics, when Magnus had mentioned how most from Angel Square blamed Downworlders for the riots among other things.

“It is easier to blame those inferior than you, Alexander. It makes you feel better about yourself and prevents you from having to take responsibility for your actions.”

Now that he knew more and more about the divide between the groups, it seemed so obvious. It was crystal clear that Shadowhunters had a tendency to blame all their shortcomings and misgivings on Downworlders instead of owning up to their mistakes.

“I cannot agree more,” Alec admitted to his mother's visible surprise. “Working with Edom has definitely been an eye-opening experience. But it doesn’t mean that I am reckless. I just no longer tolerate your bullshit.”

Both of his parents gasped at the same time - which sounded quite comical to be honest. If Alec wasn’t outraged with his parents right now, he would have laughed.

“Maybe this project with Edom was a bad idea,” his father said to no one in particular. “I know we did it appease The Clave, but if those Downworlders are going to turn our own son against us...”

His mother tightly nodded in agreement. “I am certain this has something to do with the Bane boy. Just like his father, he cannot be trusted w-”

“Magnus has nothing to do with this!”

It was an outright lie. Magnus had everything to do with this.

It was Magnus who had made Alec realize that he has been wearing blinkers the whole time. It was Magnus who had made Alec realize that racism was not so different from homophobia. It was Magnus who made Alec realize that choosing your own - even when they are at fault - is not loyalty, but injustice.

“This has gone far enough,” Maryse hissed, picking up her purse. “We can no longer work with these people. I am going to Edom and-”

“Are you going to set it on fire too?”

Alec had never really understood the meaning of pin drop silence until that moment. He has always wondered how anyone could possibly hear a pin dropping? How silent must a room be in order for one to hear a sound that faint? But now...Well, it made perfect sense now.

“What did you just say?”

His mother’s voice was scarily quiet – the kind of tone that sends literal chills down your spine.

“I know what you did to The Circle,” Alec elaborated, not ready to back down now. “I know you were the ones who set fire to the church, not Valentine.”

“I don’t know what Bane has been telling you-”

“It wasn’t him.”

“Then you probably heard it from the Fairchild girl. I knew you couldn’t trust-”

“It wasn’t her either.”

“Then which Downworlder told you these-”

“For the love of god, mother! It was a Shadowhunter. I heard it from a Shadowhunter!”

His mother gaped at that, as if she couldn’t believe that she was betrayed by one of her own. Alec was personally acquainted with the feeling by now - because that's how he felt. While he was angry and disappointed - he mostly felt betrayed. His parents have pushed him to be the best and do everything right his entire life. Alec had followed every single rule and order without question. He had regarded the law with utmost respect. He had looked up to his parents his entire life. So, when he found out that they were a bunch of hypocrites - it stung really bad. 

“We were following orders!” his mother raged - at him or at Valentine, he didn’t know.

“Are you saying you had no free will?” Alec questioned in frustration. “Hundreds of innocent people died that night!”

“Alec, you do not understand the position we were in at the time,” his father intervened again - looking rather sick. “We were Valentine’s most trusted advisors.”

“So in your attempt to suck up to a mad man, you ruined everything for the Downworld,” Alec accused, outraged at their audacity.

“How dare you?” his mother fumed. “Everything we did…It was for you. If we had defied him, it could have cost us everything – including our children. Whatever we did, we did it for you and for your siblings.”

“ENOUGH!” Alec roared.

How dare they? How dare they pin this on him? How dare they blame him and his siblings for their own mistakes? He couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t take one more finger being pointed at the wrong person.

“For once in your life,” Alec seethed through gritted teeth. “Would you please take responsibility for your mistakes?”

“Ale-”

“It was your decision. You made your choice that night,” Alec reminded them. “Valentine might have asked you, but you didn’t have to. You could have refused no matter the stakes.”

His father put his head between his hands in frustration. “You don’t know what it was like back then. You don’t remember Valentine. He could make you do anything.”

Alec snorted at that. “Now you are blaming a dead man.”

“You would have done the same thing,” his mother assumed with a level of certainty that made him want to throw up. “If Idris was at stake and if the lives of your siblings were at stake, you would have done the same.”

Was that true?

Would he have chosen his own over hundreds of innocent Downworlders?

In that moment, he saw a flash of caramel skin and a dazzling smile. He saw a pale boy playing video games. He saw a red haired girl chewing on her pencil. He saw a child building a fort.

“I love my siblings with my whole heart and yes, Idris means everything to me. But do not assume, even for a second, that I would be heartless enough to sacrifice innocent lives.”

“They are Downworlders,” his mother argued. “They are not entirely innocent!”

“Is that what you’ve been telling yourself for the last twenty years?” Alec snapped at her.

“The two of you need to stop this,” his father pleaded. “Stop this right now!”

“If you haven’t noticed, we have been doing everything in our power to build Idris to the empire that it is today,” Maryse answered hotly.

“Your success means nothing if it was built on the backs of innocent bystanders,” Alec reminded her. 

“How could you take their side? You are a Shadowhunter and yet you-”

“This is not about me, mom. This is about you and what-”

“STOP IT! BOTH OF YOU!”

They both turned around to see their father shaking in anger, a sight Alec was not used to at all. Robert Lightwood was the level-headed parent of the family, the one who was known for being rational. He had never seen his father quite angry or emotional before. It was not a pleasant sight.

“Maryse, you are only fueling his anger. Enough of this. And Alec, it doesn’t matter how we built Idris. Not anymore.”

There was something about his tone – he was…tired. But the kind of tired you get not because you are fighting but because you are done.

“What do you mean ‘not anymore’?” Alec asked, raising a brow.

“If you had not thrown that temper tantrum,” Maryse rolled her eyes in annoyance, “We could have informed you much earlier that The Clave has decided to take over Idris.”

No. No, that can be true. No. Alec had a plan. Alec was going to save Idris!

“But the Morning Star project,” Alec argued.

“It was a wonderful attempt from your part,” his father gave him a small smile. “But it wasn’t enough - not for The Clave.”

“So, they are going to take it away?” Alec questioned in disbelief, his voice sounding like a child. “Just like that?”

 “It was a long time coming, Alec,” his father confessed. “The Clave has never really been happy with us running Idris – especially after…after what we did to The Circle.”

No. No. Please. That wasn't Alec's fault! He had nothing to do with that! 

“But why?” Alec asked softly, his voice raspy. “Why now?”

“Your takeover,” his mother answered this time - her voice surprisingly empathetic. “They know you will be taking over after the Morning Star project. Shadowhunters talk, after all.”

“They do not want Idris under another Lightwood it seems,” his father explained.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fucking fair. Everything Alec had done, every single decision in his life, had been leading him to one goal – to take over Idris. Are they seriously telling him that everything he had been working for has been in vain? Are they saying he had been fighting a lost cause the whole time?

“It’s not fair,” Alec whispered.

His mother came over to him and caressed his unruly hair softly. “I know it isn’t, sweetheart.”

She was no longer a Shadowhunter or his boss. She was just...mom.

“We may have founded Idris,” his mother spoke into his hair, hugging him tightly now. “But you have fought for it harder than anyone else. If anyone deserves to run Idris, it’s you.”

Well, it didn’t fucking matter anymore, did it? It didn’t matter who deserved what. Not anymore.

Tears were threatening to run down his cheeks but he wouldn’t cry. No, not in front of his parents. Not right now.

“I just-I wanted to…It’s not fair,” Alec repeated again.

“For what it’s worth,” his father spoke up, joining them. “We want you to know that no one, absolutely no one, could be a better fit for Idris than you.”

It did make him feel better, but not enough. Not nearly enough to make for years worth of hardwork and sacrifice. The deep ache in his chest wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. For so long, he had envisioned Idris to be a part of his future. Fuck, Idris was his future. What was he supposed to do now? He couldn’t see anything at all. The road ahead seemed empty, sad and scary.

The thought of the future led to another dreadful realization.

“Jace and Izzy,” Alec gasped. “What would happen to them? What would happen-”

“We don’t know for certain,” his father replied in a worrying tone. “I don’t think The Clave would fire them. The Lightwoods are allowed to work at Idris.”

“Just not allowed to run it,” Maryse finished bitterly.

So, it was just his future then. Well, at least Jace and Izzy were safe from this nightmare. Small blessings, he guessed.

“Well, I can…I can always find another job,” Alec assured them, the possibility tasting like acid in his mouth. The words sounded unconvincing to his own ears.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t find another job. He definitely could. Even without his last name, Alec could go places just based on his talent and experience. But it won’t be Idris.

It won’t be home.

“Everything I have worked for, it is being taken away from me,” Alec spoke out loud in realization. “It is all going away and there is nothing I can do about it.”

Over the last few weeks, he had thought, he had really thought that maybe life wasn’t terribly unfair to Alec Lightwood. He had really been naïve enough to believe that.

“There is something you could do to get Idris back,” his mother told him quietly.

“Maryse, no,” his father protested.

“What is it?” Alec asked, already knowing that he is willing to do it.  

“The Clave insinuated that they don’t trust a Lightwood to run Idris,” his mother spoke carefully. “But what if you didn’t run it alone?”

While it is not what he had dreamed of, Alec wasn’t opposed to the idea. If it meant that he could run Idris, he didn’t mind doing it with someone else. It wasn’t ideal of course. But he knew he wasn’t in a position to negotiate right now. Maybe he could ask Jace? He was a Herondale, which was practically Shadowhunter royalty. Surely, they wouldn't be opposed to that, right?

“So, I need to find a co-director who-”

“You need to find a wife,” his father corrected him awkwardly.

No. No. No. No.

“The Clave is not going to even consider the proposition unless it is solidified by marriage. You know how we work. Multiple Shadowhunters have secured business alliances through marriage.”

True. It was all very normal in Angel Square. Marriage didn’t really mean much for those living there since it was mostly done to create more of them and to secure business deals. 

“There are plenty of girls who would be lucky to marry you,” his mother assured him as if she had already considered the possibility. He wouldn’t be surprised if she had.

His parents were naming prominent Shadowhunter families and possible alliances while Alec tried not to think about his options.

“So you're telling me,” Alec spoke when he gathered his thoughts together. “I have to either give up Idris or get married immediately?”

“You have a choice, Alec,” his mother informed him.

No, I don’t.

It’s not really a choice if you are fucked either way. It’s not really a choice if you are being forced to choose. It’s not really a choice if the options are unfair. It is not really a choice if it makes you feel cornered.

“I…I don’t want to get married,” Alec confessed, instead of saying what he really wanted to say.

“I know, honey,” his mother replied. “It may be an arranged marriage. But you might grow to love her.”

No, I won’t.

“I am…I don’t want to marry a-”

“This is not just about your future, Alec,” his mother explained slowly - as if Alec didn't understand the current predicament. “This is about our family. We cannot lose Idris to someone else, not when there is a way to save it. You can save Idris.”

Of course he can save Idris – but at what cost?

His father placed a hand on his shoulder and gave it a tight squeeze. It did nothing to reduce the burden he was carrying there.

“Whatever you decide, whether you choose to run Idris or not, whether you choose to get married or not…It will be your decision. It will be your choice.”

Not really.  

If they are going to bully him to choosing one of the options, if they are going to hold his dreams hostage, then it wasn’t really a choice. It wasn’t his choice at all. Alec realized he had no say in this whatsoever. He had no say in his future at all.

So, Alec did what he always did.  He took a deep breath and weighed his options. He considered the pros and cons. He analyzed the situation carefully till he could make a sensible decision.

Option one was to give up on his dream and lose Idris. He didn’t want to give up Idris. He didn’t want to give on his lifelong dream. He just didn’t.

Option two was to get married to a woman he didn’t love - a woman he would never love - to save Idris.

If had to choose between the two a few months ago or even a few weeks ago, Alec wouldn’t have thought twice about his decision. He would have chosen Idris in an instant.

It wasn’t that he didn’t care about getting married to a woman. It wasn’t about that at all. It was about the fact that he couldn’t really see an alternative.

It’s not like he could marry a man and run Idris afterwards. Marriage with a man was never in the cards for him. He had given up on that future long time ago.

When he thought of marriage, he saw an arrangement of convenience, a forced companionship and an unhappy future.

Until now.

Now he saw silk shirts, a coy smile and a blue scarf. He saw a silhouette that gave him hope and promise.

So, it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. He needed to think. He needed time. He needed space.

His parents surprisingly understood when he told that them he needed to think about it. Before they could even tell him that he didn’t have much long, Alec knew. He knew he had to decide sooner rather than later. But it didn’t mean that he had to do it right now.

He knew the right choice was Idris. He knew that he had to choose his family and his future. But there was something standing in the way - something strong and stubborn.

“We will think of possible options,” his mother reassured him with a smile. It didn’t matter who they choose for him. Not really. Alec just nodded and walked away from the room as fast as possible. He needed to get out of here. He needed to be in a neutral place. He needed to be in a place where he wouldn’t be weighed down by the expectations of his parents or consumed by the thoughts of a glittery man. He needed a safe place.

His legs knew exactly where he was headed and he let them take him there. He walked for what seemed like hours till he got to his destination.

When he got there, the statue of Raziel was looking at him with large, judgmental eyes – something that reminded him of almost every Shadowhunter he had ever met.

“Maybe we got it from you,” Alec told the statue and chugged the bottle of whiskey, which he had picked up on his way here.

The Circle was a place that no many visited. Well, no one visited it at all - unless you are a bunch of teenagers looking for a place to smoke up in secret. Even then, it was a weird place to hang out considering it's history. The entire place was either broken down or charred beyond repair. The only thing standing firm and steady in the entire place was the statue of Raziel in the center of what looked like an altar.

Before the riots, before everything, The Circle used to be Alec's favorite place. He used to visit the construction site with his mother every now and then. He used to play outside in the sand, building his own structures with stones and branches and whatever he could get his hands on. At the time, he had been too small to understand what had really been going on there. He was too young to understand that the place he loved was being built by unfair labor.

After the riots, no one made an attempt to repair or renovate The Circle. The Shadowhunters of Angel Square wanted nothing to do with it at all. One would assume that the Downworlders would have gotten rid of it, destroying it to pieces, but they didn't. The Downworlders had proclaimed that the church would remain as is to remind every single Shadowhunter of their crimes. Before meeting Magnus, that was the first time Alec had learned how stubborn, proud and unforgiving Downworlders could be. 

The first time he had visited The Circle after the riots was years ago. It was on the night he had cancelled on his Grindr date - the one he had been looking forward to for days. When Alec had realized that he couldn't go on that date with that man - or any man - he had aimlessly walked around town until he ended up here. The Circle was situated right on the spot that seperated the Downworld and Angel Square. It was the closest he had been to the Downworld in his life at the time.

At first, it had felt weird and definitely creepy to be there. But after a while, it seemed...fine. Maybe it was the lack of people with their constant expectations or maybe it was the fact The Circle was as far away as he could run away from Angel Square, but he felt safe there. Amidst the rubble and dust and the ghosts of those who had died - Alec had felt safe.

So, so he had stayed in the burnt down church for hours - thinking and crying and worrying about the date he had missed. He remembered feeling devastated and heartbroken at the time - which was pretty much how he felt right now to be honest. He had stayed there all alone till the early hours of dawn, his parents would have freaked if they had found out, until he had heard someone and run away quickly. The last thing he had needed that night was to get arrested for trespassing or get beaten down by a bunch of Downworlders.

Ever since that day, Alec would visit The Circle every time he felt sad or disappointed or hopeless. The last time he had visited was when he had returned from Indiana - after coming out to Magnus. He remembered crying in front of the statue of Raziel and promising never to talk to Magnus Bane again. It was funny how much things had changed since that night.

He looked around the abandoned building now and it still looked the same – it looked broken, sad and beyond hope. He never thought he could ever relate to an abandoned building this much.

God was he melodramatic when he gets drunk.

“You are a real prick, you know that?” Alec asked the statute again.

Everything the Shadowhunters did, they did in the name of Raziel – their patron saint. Legend said that Angel Square was built after a visit from Raziel himself. It was built on the land blessed by an angel from god. Of course it was nothing but a giant load of bullshit, but it was good for marketing. Who doesn’t want to live or invest in a town that was visited by an angel himself?

As a child, Alec had been terrified of Raziel. He would never do anything wrong, not even stay past his bedtime or throw away his veggies, because he was worried that that Raziel would smite him in his sleep.

When he was 11, Alec realized he was gay he told Raziel to go fuck himself.

“I am getting drunk on whiskey. I just shouted at my parents. I am fraternizing with Downworlders and I am very, very, very gay,” Alec announced proudly, counting off each one with a sweaty finger. “What are you gonna do about it?”

Raziel just stared at him, the judgmental eyes not flinching even one bit – probably because he was an inanimate object.

“Oh, mighty Raziel! Are you going to smite me?” Alec howled, as he took another large sip, grimacing slightly at the taste. “Okay then. Smite me. Smite me and end this bullshit.”

Raziel did nothing.

“I SAID SMITE ME, YOU FUCKING COWARD!”

He picked up an abandoned sledgehammer from the broken stairway and walked up to Raziel.

“Smite me,” he ordered the angel.

Nothing and he hit the statue as hard as he could in his current inebriated state.

The statue didn’t budge one bit. It should there, uncompromising and unyielding, like the beliefs that governed Shadowhunters of Angel Square.

He took in a deep breath and thought about every single thing he had to sacrifice until today. The worst part was when he realized that it wasn’t over. This wasn’t it, was it? There is so much that he has to do, so much more he has to sacrifice in order to achieve his dreams. It was going to be a never ending tragedy. Regardless of what he does or gives, it was never going to be enough.

An angry growl escaped his lungs and he slammed the hammer so hard that Raziel’s hand exploded into pieces and scattered across the floor. He should have probably stopped there but he didn’t - or rather he couldn’t. Everything he had been holding in for the last few days escaped him and he started hammering away.

His hands started to ache but Alec didn’t stop. He kept hammering until there was nothing standing in the middle of that altar. He had thought that it would make him feel better but it didn’t. Even though he had decimated the statue of Raziel, everything the angel stood for was still firmly in place, threatening his life.

He sank to the floor and started drowning his sorrows by drowning in whisky. Alec wasn’t much for a drinker. He hated whisky in particular. It takes a lot to make Alec Lightwood get drunk and it takes even more to get him drunk on whiskey.

It was getting darker and he knew it was time to get up and get back to real life. But his legs felt weak and his heart felt broken. He wished he could just stay there, amidst that pile of rubble, until he finds a solution for...well, everything.

“What in god’s name happened here?”

Magnus Bane was standing in front of him, his face concerned but yet somehow still beautiful. It was ridiculous how beautiful Magnus was. People are not supposed to look that beautiful, definitely not at...whatever the time was right now. Alec didn't know what Magnus was doing there right now. It's not like it was a popular hangout spot in New York. But he didn't want to ask because then Magnus would ask and then Alec would have to answer.

Magnus moved closer to the altar and noticed the scattered pieces of the statute on the floor and the abandoned sledgehammer lying next to Alec's feet. He looked sharply dressed as always – A purple silk shirt, black slacks that fit him perfectly and a black jacket resting on his arms. And he was wearing suspenders.

Oh Raziel. Even decimated, you still play such heartless games!

“Alexander, are you okay?” Magnus asked as he strode towards him, abandoning his possibly super-expensive jacket on the floor.

“Yep,” Alec replied and gave the other man two thumbs up. "Raziel is dead, Magnus. I killed him. Oops!"

“Alright, get up from there,” Magnus instructed and pulled him up with such ease that Alec suddenly felt faint like one of those Victorian ladies in horribly written romantic novels.

Magnus led him closer to the staircase - or what was left of it - and helped him settle down. Alec did not enjoy being dependent on anyone, not even for something small, but this weirdly felt nice.

"Oh no!" Alec exclaimed dramatically and ran back to the altar. He picked up the half empty bottle of whiskey - and the sledgehammer - and walked (hopped?) back to Magnus. "I forgot about my friends here!"

“Oh, Alexander,” Magnus sighed, “What have you been up to?”

“Shhh,” Alec said seriously and put a finger to Magnus’ lips.

“I think Raziel can still hear us,” Alec whispered.

“I think he is pretty dead,” Magnus whispered back. He grabbed the sledgehammer from Alec without another word and Alec’s mouth went dry.

Oh no. Oh god. Oh why.

“Please put it down,” Alec pleaded.

The other man frowned at that. 

“Put it down,” Alec repeated because Magnus Bane carrying a sledgehammer while wearing suspenders was just too much. There is only so much a gay man can handle.

“What are y-”

“Put it down. Just put it down. Down. Now. Put it down. Put it down. Put it down.”

“Jesus Christ!” Magnus swore and abandoned the tool on the floor once more.

Magnus dusted the step a little and settled down. Alec realized that the other man had obviously been somewhere fancy based on his attire. Who knows? Maybe he just liked to get dressed up for no reason. He decided to throw caution in the wind and ask Magnus why he was here at this time of the night (night?).

“What are you doing here?” Alec asked, taking another gulp of his whiskey.

“What are you doing here?” Magnus inquired back, crossing his arms.

“I asked you first!”

“I asked you second!”

“I asked you third!”

“Alexander, that doesn’t make any sense!”

“Does anything in life make sense?”

“Oh, boy!”

As he tried to take another gulp, Magnus pried the bottle away from him, stood up and held it away from his reach. Alec got up without falling on his ass and took a step forward.

“You know that I am taller than you, right?”

“Do not come any closer,” Magnus warned but didn’t move away. Alec took another step forward until he was right in front of the other man. Magnus raised the bottle above his head and stood on his tip toes. It was unnecessarily cute.

“I can still reach it,” Alec pointed out, reaching with his own hand to prove his point.

“Alec!” Magnus cautioned again, this time taking a step back.

“Magnus!” Alec imitated the other man’s tone and moved forward once more - which made Magnus move back again. The two of them looked like they were waltzing - in the middle of a burnt down church! - and Alec has never felt giddier in his entire life.

“Do you want to play a game?” Alec asked suddenly, because why not?

“I want you to stop moving,” Magnus sighed tiredly and took the bottle away from his reach again but not before Alec caught his wrist and pulled the bottle away from him.

For some reason, it felt like Magnus let him win. It was almost as if the other man sensed that Alec needed a win today. He knew very well that if Magnus wanted to, Alec would never reached the bottle. But Magnus let him have it anyway. 

Magnus was nice.

“Okay, let’s play truth or dare!” Alec announced loudly, his voice echoing off the charred walls. “I’ll start. I dare myself to finish the rest of this bottle.”

Magnus shook his head in disapproval. “That’s not how the game works.”

“Who cares?” Alec shrugged and started chugging again.

“What about the rules?”

“Fuck the rules,” Alec said, literally for the first time in his life and boy did that feel good! "Okay. Truth. Do you believe in ghosts?"

Magnus chuckled softly - a sound that went straight to Alec's long-term memory. "No, I don't."

"Why not?" Alec pouted. 

"Because they don't exist," Magnus shrugged.

"So, you don't think there are ghosts in this church right now?" Alec whispered - because he didn't want the ghosts to hear him. Because ghosts exists goddammit! 

"Well, I sure hope not," Magnus replied. "I really don't want to have to explain to mother why I am at an abandoned church in the middle of the night."

Fuck! Magnus' mother died right here. Goddamnit, Lightwood! You can be such an insensitive asshole! He realized that he completely abandoned the conversation about The Circle and his parents earlier today. He was distracted by his own future and had forgotten all about the past. He felt like a dick. 

"Magnus, oh my god!" Alex exclaimed in worry. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean it like that. Alec, what is wrong with you?" He asked himself, because referring to yourself in third person is a completely normal thing to do in front of your drunk (drinked?).

“You have never done this before, have you?” Magnus questioned.

“Play Truth or Dare?” Alec giggled. “Of course I have. Izzy forces us to play this type of nonsense all the time.”

The first time had been when they were 13. It was actually Jace who had initiated the game for the first time. He had wanted to show off that he had kissed a girl and roped his siblings into the ridiculous game. Izzy, after figuring out that the game was an excellent way to gather intel  and gossip, had made it an annual tradition ever since.

“I meant getting drunk,” Magnus corrected. “You’ve never been drunk before, have you?”

Hmmm.

Alec started tapping a finger on his chin to show that he was thinking hard. He couldn’t remember the last time. Either Magnus was right and he has never done this before or the last time was so bad that he doesn’t remember it at all.

“Alright, that’s it,” Magnus decided. “I am going to my car to get you some water. You are going to have a horrible hangover in the morning if you don’t hydrate right now.”

“Aw, Magnus! Are you worried about me?” Alec teased, slightly surprised at his own audacity to voice his inner thoughts.

“Yes,” Magnus simply replied.

Oh.

Um.

Okay, he hadn’t expected that response. What’s the protocol here? What is a normal response to say? Luckily he didn’t have to since to Magnus walked away – probably to his car – without another word.

Alec started walking around because he felt too pumped up to sit down in one place. He wasn't sure whether the effect was because of the whiskey or Magnus. When he started the day, this was so no not where he thought he would end up. This whole day had been like one big fever dream. He couldn’t wait to wake up and…And what? There was no waking up from this, was there?

The busted face of Raziel lied on the floor, the small curve of the angel’s lips still quite there.

“Stop smiling, asshole!” Alec complained and kicked the piece away. “Is this funny to you?”

“Who are you talking to?” Magnus inquired, now carrying a bottle of water and looking around with a worried expression on his face.

“I was just talking to Raziel,” Alec explained lamely, unfortunately not being able to come up with a better response.

“Oh,” Magnus said, the frown getting deeper. “I thought you were talking to yourself.”

Okay in retrospect that might have been a better response.

“Drink up,” Magnus told him as he passed him the water.

Alec took a couple of sips and Magnus raised an eyebrow warningly.

“All of it,” he ordered and Alec wanted to pout.

He took a couple of fake sips and smiled at Magnus, hoping the other man wouldn’t notice. Magnus raised a finger in warning. “Finish the whole damn thing, Alexander!”

“Bossy,” Alec giggled and proceeded to follow the instruction. He immediately felt a little better and steadier. Okay, so water helps when you are drunk. Alec made a mental note even though he silently hoped he would never be in a situation that makes him sad enough to get this drink again.

Magnus sat down on the dirty steps and looked at Alec in worry.

It was a look that made Alec's heart ache.

Magnus seemed to be one of those people who don't conceal their emotions. Whether he was angry or happy or sad or scared, Magnus didn’t hide. It was something Alec could never do and something that he really like about the other man.

The look on his face said that Magnus was worried right now – very much worried.

He was worried for Alec. He was worried about Alec.

While it felt different - and even oddly relaxing - to be the one causing the worry for once - that is not how he wanted to make Magnus feel.

He wanted to make Magnus feel…

Okay, dangerous territory and too much alcohol.

Maybe they should not talk about feelings and just talk about something breezy.

“Alright. My turn again,” Alec said even though it wasn’t because fuck the rules, “What are you afraid of?”

Well, there goes his ‘something breezy’.

Magnus considered his question for a minute and thankfully decided to play along. Thank fuck for that because the other games Alec had in mind right were PG 13.

“Acid washed jeans,” Magnus answered and shuddered a little. Alec made another mental note to burn all the photos from his high school days.

“Now ask me what I am afraid of,” Alec ordered and Magnus blessed him with a smile. Yay!

“Okay. What are you afraid of, Alec Lightwood?” Magnus asked him, now leaning against the broken wall.

“I am afraid of not finishing the race,” Alec confessed and the other man quirked an eyebrow.

“I am afraid that I will give it my all, I will give everything my all, and it still won’t be enough. I am afraid that I will keep trying until the day I die and still never get what I want. I am afraid that I will keep running my entire life, chasing after my dreams, only to realize that I will never reach the finish line. I am afraid that when I die people will say ‘Here lies Alec Lightwood – The man never won’.”

Super breezy! Well done. 

It felt both terrifying and exhilarating to get that out of his chest. He had never told his worst fear to anyone, not even to Jace or Izzy. It wasn’t because he thought they would judge him. No, it wasn’t that. He just…It was just…

Sometimes you don’t want to tell your biggest insecurities to people – even those you trust and those that love you – because you don’t want that insecurity to leave your mind. You live with the delusion that maybe if you keep the insecurity to yourself…then maybe it wouldn’t be true. If you don’t tell anyone, maybe they won’t notice. If you keep it to yourself, then it will probably go away. Just disappear or something.

The reasoning was quite ironic because the only way to get rid of it is to get it out of you – literally. Unless you are willing to talk about your insecurities and get the help you need, it is always going to stay there.

So, Alec was sort of glad that he finally got that one out of his chest.

The only problem was the fact that he picked Magnus Bane to tell it to.

Again, it wasn’t that he thought Magnus would judge him. Okay, Magnus can be a bit judgmental – especially towards a Shadowhunter – but it wasn’t that. They have reached a point in their relationship (relationship?) where they could talk to each other without feeling like they are going to be judged or condescended.

No. The problem was that Magnus was someone he was desperately trying to impress. So, telling your crush (crush?) your deepest insecurities is probably not what they would recommend in Flirting 101.

Once again, nice job, Lightwood!

When he realized that Magnus hadn’t said anything in response – probably because he was feeling extremely awkward and regretted helping Alec’s pathetic self in the first place – Alec cleared his throat.

“Um, I’d like to change my answer to, uh, spiders. I am afraid of spiders.”

Magnus suddenly started laughing as if it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. Rude.

“I am sorry. I am sorry,” Magnus managed between fits of laughter. “I just…I just can’t believe The Alec Lightwood is afraid of spiders.”

Oh for god’s sake! What’s a decent answer to tell your crush – who might possibly be more than a crush – without freaking them out or triggering a laughing fit.

Who even came up with this stupid question? Oh wait. It was him. Of course it was him. Alec has been handing out lemons left, right and center this evening.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Alec grumbled. “I am not that afraid of them. Just a little bit. Not a big deal.”

Magnus nodded seriously. “So, if I tell you that there is a spider crawling on the back of your shirt ri-”

“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!!!”

He started panicking and running around in circles, desperately trying to reach the back of his shirt to get rid of the demon. He didn’t care that he was screaming on top of his lungs because this was a level one crisis.

They might be at a church right now but Raziel was dead (dead?) so there was no one around to judge them anyway. The only that was louder than Alec’s shrieks was Magnus’ laughter. The man was literally on the floor, laughing, wheezing and crying.

After what seemed like forever, Magnus finally gathered himself to notice Alec giving him a death glare.

“I am so gonna to regret not filming that,” Magnus stated in realization, still wiping the tears off his face.

“You are horrible,” Alec complained and sat down next to the man again.

Magnus looked up at him then and gave him a smile that made Alec forgive him in an instant. Magnus’ smile was like sun hidden behind the clouds. When it comes out for a visit, everything became brighter in an instant. The man reached out and pushed a stray strand of hair away from Alec’s face.

“You are not a failure,” Magnus said with a sort of conviction that made Alec almost believe him.

“Easy for you to say,” Alec replied. “You’ve never lost.”

“I don’t h-”

“Magnus, please,” Alec intervened. “Please don’t tell me that I am still young or that I should not lose hope or that the whole point of the race is not winning but participating or some shit like that. I don’t want to hear it.”

“Actually I was going to say that you are right,” Magnus responded to his surprise. “You might never win, Alec – especially with your competition. I heard he is extremely shrewd and is easy on the eyes.”

“Yeah, he is a menace alright,” Alec chuckled.

“You need to understand this, Shadowhunter,” Magnus continued, “You might never win and that is okay.”

“Then what is the point of all this?” Alec mumbled, gesturing his hand vaguely.

“The point is to learn from your mistakes and do better every time,” Magnus stated, as if it was fairly obvious.

“The point is that you do it not to win but because it makes you happy. You are one of the most passionate people I have met. You care deeply about everything that you do. But if you only care about winning something at the end of the day, then you are setting yourself up for failure. It is possible to give something your everything and still get nothing in return.”

Well, that’s fucking sad.

“How many times have I snatched a contract from you? How many projects have you lost to Edom? Yet every time, every single time, you come back. You come back stronger, with a better plan, hoping to defeat me. Even back when I hated you, you still managed to impress me. Your determination was astounding. I hated that - because frankly, I don’t think I can handle failure. I have never lost and I am glad because I don’t think I can take it as bravely as you do.”

It was quiet then. No sounds around them except for the wind and the crickets chirping around.

“Regardless of whether you win or not, regardless of whether you finish your race, I want you to know that people will not remember you as a failure. As morbid as the thought is, I want you to know that when you die, people will say ‘Here lies Alec Lightwood – The man who never gave up’.”

If one were to ignore the part about Alec dying – that could possibly be the kindest thing anyone had ever said to him. It was weird that it came from Magnus Bane – somehow he didn’t think knew how to be kind.

He looked at Magnus and couldn’t help but feel a little uncomfortable. He didn’t know if Magnus was just being nice. He didn’t know what the other man really thought. He didn’t like the fact that Magnus knew something even Alec didn’t like about himself.

“What is it?” Magnus asked immediately, ever the observant one.

“It’s nothing…It’s just…It feels weird that you know. I have never told anyone that,” Alec admitted. “Stupid whiskey!”

“Ah,” Magnus said in understanding. “You feel…vulnerable?”

“I don’t know,” Alec said honestly. “It just feels weird. I don’t know why.”

“Well then, let me even out the playing field then,” the other man said.

“I am afraid of taking over Edom,” Magnus confessed and Alec had to do a double take to see if he heard the man right. Magnus didn’t seem like the kind to be afraid of anything.

“I am afraid that I won’t be good enough to run it. I mean…Yeah, I have won a bunch of contracts but that doesn’t mean that I can run the whole fucking company, right? What if this is all just dumb luck or just maybe took a bunch of talented people to get it done? I am afraid that maybe I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I am afraid that once I actually get to run Edom, I will finally realize that it wasn’t me. I am not special. It had nothing to do with me.”

Alec hated the fact that knowing about Magnus’ insecurity made him feel better. No. No, it wasn’t the admission of the insecurity itself. It was more the fact that Magnus trusted him enough to share something like that with him. It made him feel better to know that Magnus trusted him as much as he trusted the other man.

“Any words of wisdom?” Magnus chuckled, probably feeling weird and nervous as Alec did a few moments ago.

“I am not good at giving advice,” Alec admitted honestly. “You have a way with words and always know how to say the right thing. But I…I don't.”

“It’s okay, Alec,” Magnus comforted him, although he still looked a little disappointed.

“But I am good with numbers though,” Alec pointed out and the man looked up at him.

“Over the last few years, I have been obsessively studying Edom. You are our biggest competitor and I personally made it my job to know everything about your company. So, trust me when I say that you did make a difference. Your job satisfaction rates increased by 54.7% - which is the highest in New York. People love working for you, working with you. Your profit margin rose up by 23.1% just in the last two years. Edom has landed 7 times as more contracts since you took over. The unemployment rate in the Downworld reduced to 36% after you started hiring people locally for all your projects. Edom has been the top construction company in New York for four years in a row – and yes, that is after you returned to the city.”

The other man was staring at him now, his face amazed, puzzled and proud at the same time.

“I don’t whether what you believe is right or wrong. All I know is that numbers don’t lie. Yes, you have a great team and yes maybe luck played a part. But everything that happened to Edom in the last few years was all you.”

Magnus gave that smile again – the one that Alec was starting to love way more than he should.

“I don’t know about the other companies in New York but I for one am terrified of you taking over. Because if this is what you can achieve by standing in the sidelines, I cannot fathom what you would do once you officially run things. I am equal parts excited and anxious to see you take over Edom because you, Magnus Bane, are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Magnus chuckled softly and looked away.

“What?” Alec asked, suddenly worried that he had overstepped.

“Nothing.”

“What is it?”

“You are such a nerd,” Magnus chuckled again.

Alec couldn’t help but chuckle back. “Well, excuse me for doing sufficient recon on my competitor.”

“Oh, I am not complaining,” Magnus corrected him quickly. “You are very cute when you hit people with statistics.”

Did Magnus just call him cute?

No. Hold on. Did Magnus just call him ‘very’ cute?

Fuck! That was so much better than regular cute!

Alec was so glad he took that module on Further Maths at university. Jace had laughed at Alec for taking on an additional course during their summer break. Well, Jace can suck it! Alec got extra credit AND he got called ‘very’ cute.

“Can I ask you something?” Magnus spoke up, interrupting Alec's little victory dance inside his mind.

Alec nodded and Magnus waited a moment. He took off a ring from his middle finger, put it back and took it off again. Alec realized that this maybe was a nervous habit.

“What happened, today?” Magnus asked carefully. “I am not saying something happened. But it’s not every day that you see a man in an abandoned church destroying supposedly sacred artifacts.”

No. This only happens on days when said man is made to confront his parents for genocide and then is given an ultimatum to give up his lifelong dream or get married to a woman.

He wondered if he should tell Magnus everything. He should. He must. Magnus deserved to know. Alec looked back at the church and realized that this is where Magnus’ mother had died that day – amongst hundreds of other Downworlders. He wondered whether he should tell Magnus that his mother was killed right here by Alec's parents. It did not seem like a wise decision.

But then again, what’s the worst that can happen?

Magnus would hate him – again. It was nothing new for Alec.

Of course he would lose Magnus’ friendship and companionship as a result. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew that this was not going to go anywhere else. It wasn’t like Magnus liked him or found him attractive. Why should he hide the truth to further fuel his delusional hope of something more with Magnus Bane?

“Did you tell them?” Magnus inquired when Alec hadn’t said anything. “Did you come out to them like you told me last week?”

As if.

As if he could ever.

“No,” Alec shook his head. “Something came up. Don’t worry about it. Just work stuff. I’ll handle it tomorrow. I just wanted a reason to get drunk I guess.”

Magnus did not look convinced but thankfully knew how to take a hint and let things go.

“How about you?” Alec asked pointing at the other man’s attire. “You look…”

What’s the polite way of saying ‘fucking sinful’?

“I was on a date."

Okay. Alright. Okay. Yeah. Fine. Okay. No problem. People on go on dates. That’s what normal people do. Okay. Cool. That's good. Cools. Totes fine. Peachy. Perfecto.

“Was your date so bad that you ended up in an abandoned church at this time of the night?” Alec laughed nervously, partially hoping he was right.

“Oh no. It was just a business date,” Magnus corrected. “I had to have dinner with a potential client from Madrid and just wanted to make a good impression is all. You know how it is.”

Alec honestly didn’t. He has never had to flirt with anyone in order to get a contract. It was probably because he gives massive ‘do not fuck with me’ vibes instead of ‘fuck me’ vibes.

“So, it wasn’t a romantic date?” Alec clarified, just wanting to confirm, for the sake of his own sanity.

“Nope. Just a work thing. Besides he is not my type.”

Ohhh.

“What is your type?” Alec asked, for science of course.

“Hmmm,” Magnus wondered, “I don’t know if I have one.”

“Everyone has a type,” Alec rolled his eyes.

“Oh, really?” Magnus raised an eyebrow. “What’s yours then?”

“I’ve never dated anyone. Obviously I don’t have a type!” Alec explained.

“You know very well that you don’t need to date in order to have a type,” Magnus replied cheekily.

“Regardless. I asked first! It’s my turn in the game again!”

“It’s been your turn since we started. This whole game of yours is total bogus, Alexander!”

“I don't make the rules!”

“Christ, you are petulant when you are on whiskey.”

Alec crossed his arms and silently conveyed that he is not backing down.

“Alright, Shadowhunter!” Magnus relented. “Hmmm. Let me think.”

Whatever Magnus was going to say, Alec knew he will be disappointed with the answer. Yes, Magnus preferred the old bookstore over the Eiffel Tower – something Alec definitely did not think about for an entire night – but that doesn’t mean he had the same preference in people.

He immediately regretted asking the question. It was one thing to know that he wasn’t Magnus type and another thing to hear it out loud. Why does he keep doing this to himself? What was wrong with him?

“I don’t have a particular type to be honest,” Magnus repeated his earlier answer. “I get attracted to the soul and each one is unique and different. It’s hard to say.”

Okay that made a little sense.

“So, there hasn’t been anyone that stood out?” Alec asked wondering what the hell it takes to impress Magnus Bane.

“Well, there was Camille,” Magnus remembered. The way he said her name worried Alec a little. It sounded like Magnus felt great things for her – and Alec wasn’t entirely sure whether those things were good or bad.

“Camille was…She was complicated,” Magnus explained. “What I found attractive in her in the first place is exactly what I was repulsed by later. I thought she was my type and I am so glad that she isn’t.”

“I am sorry I asked,” Alec apologized sheepishly. Honestly, he should just go to bed. He had bothered Magnus long enough for tonight.

“It’s okay,” Magnus shrugged. “But if you really want to know, there was this boy.”

Boy? What boy? Who is this boy? Where is now? Are you dating him? Where does he live?

“I met him on Grindr,” Magnus chuckled nervously. “I mean, talked I guess.”

Oh. Alec didn’t want to think about his own experiences in Grindr. Even though he had finished half a bottle of whiskey, it wasn’t enough to revisit those memories.

“We just talked a lot. About everything. Literature, history, politics, art. Everything. Even architecture!”

“That’s your type?” Alec asked, because he was a fan of all those too. Maybe he wasn’t a lost cause after all.

“It wasn’t what we talked about,” Magnus clarified. “It was more how we talked about it. He knew how to be smart without being a dick about it. He was funny without being offensive. He was just…you know?”

No. He didn’t know! What the fuck is this?

“What happened?”

“Well, I never got to meet him. I mean, we planned to but he kind of ghosted me,” Magnus continued the story, clearly in someplace else right now.

What kind of an asshole ghosts Magnus? What a dumb idiot! Alec could not relate.

“It was a real shame,” the man muttered. “He was really good looking too.”

Of course he was. Of course that dumb bastard was good looking!

“So, you did see him then?” Alec inquired. He never shared his own pictures on Grindr. Well, not his face. He wasn’t confident or out enough to do that.

“Well, not really,” Magnus corrected him. “I just saw pictures of his arms and abs mostly. Typical Grindr stuff. But phew! That boy was just stunning. I didn’t know I had an archery fetish until I saw him.”

“Archery?”

“Oh, yeah. He did archery!” Magnus sounded a little bit faint. “Can you believe? It makes so much sense why I had a crush on Legolas growing up!”

Alec didn’t know who this lego person was but he really couldn’t give two fucks about him right now.

“Magnus?” Alec interrupted, his heart in his throat. “What was the name of this person?”

“I don’t really know. He never told me. If he had, I would have found him somehow.”

“What was his profile called then?”

“Archer Boy,” Magnus replied. “I think it suits him.”

Holy fucking shit.

Magnus was Chairman Meow.

Chairman Meow was Magnus.

“Magnus. Can I ask you a completely random question?”

Magnus gave him a curious look then. “Um, yeah? I mean, that’s all you’ve been doing since I got here.”

“What do you think about Shakespeare?”

Alec had talked about almost every topic in the world with Chairman Meow - or Magnus. He had been extremely apprehensive about joining Grindr and had been convinced that it would be an appalling experience. He had been pretty sure that the first person he met there must be a weirdo considering that the profile had nothing but pictures of cats. But he had started talking to Chairman Meow only to realize that his conversations with this faceless stranger turned out to be the best part of his day.

One of the things they had discussed in detail was the Bard and his works. They had both shared a passion for Shakespeare and Chairman Meow had even joked that they should wear matching t-shirts that said '2B or not 2B'. Of course, they had never gotten around to that date because Alec had chickened out. His anxiety had made him delete the profile and by the time he got back on Grindr months later, Chairman Meow was gone.

“Oh you don't want to go down that road, Alexander,” Magnus answered, even though he looked slightly confused. “I am a huge Shakespeare nerd. I don't know if you can tell but I was the drama club president in high school. I really love Macbeth.  It’s one of my favorite plays to be honest.”

Each word that came out Magnus' mouth only made Alec's heart beat faster and faster.

“I actually have a t-shirt with a horrible Shakespeare pun,” Magnus continued, his face quite sad now.

Magnus looked for him. Magnus liked him. Magnus thought he was attractive. Magnus thought he was funny. Magnus thought he was smart.

Fuck! Is it possible that Magnus probably still finds him to be all that?

“Okay I have one more question,” Alec begged, feeling like he was on fire right now.

“Alexan-”

“Last one, I promise!”

Magnus chuckled and nodded.

“What did you like most about him?” Alec quizzed because he wanted to know. “This boy you met on Grindr. What did you like the most about him?"

“Oh,” Magnus grinned. “Are we talking about boys now, Alexander?”

“Just this one,” Alec clarified.

“You seem weirdly invested in this one,” Magnus raised an eyebrow and gasped. “Oh my god! Did you know him too?”

“You could say that.”

“What did you think of him?”

“He was a bit of an ass in my opinion,”

“Hey!” Magnus complained. “You take that back!”

“You answer the question!”

Magnus sighed deeply in defeat. 

“What did I like the most?” Magnus repeated the question. “I…I liked how he made me feel. I was in a bad place back then. I had just broken up with Camille. I was trying to figure out my place in Edom. Everything was quite chaotic. Everything except for this boy. I didn’t know what he looked like or sounded like. I didn’t really know anything about him. But those few days that I spoke to him…He made me feel safe. I liked how he made me feel safe without even being there. I know it was just a stupid Grindr crush but at that time, it meant a lot to me. Honestly, at the time, talking to that faceless stranger was the best part of my day.”

It was one thing to know that you made him someone happy and it was another thing to hear them say it.

“But then he disappeared,” Magnus mumbled, his voice disappointed and sad. “I…I asked him to meet up. I shouldn’t have. He was in the closet and…It was a stupid mistake. I just…”

“You wanted to see what he looked like?”

“No,” Magnus replied instinctively. “I mean, yeah. But more than that, I wanted to…I wanted to hold him. I wanted to touch him. I wanted to comfort him. I wanted to kiss him. God, I wanted to kiss him so bad.”

Magnus was looking at the floor, trying to figure out god knows what in the dust and debris. “I guess he didn’t want that.”

Oh if only Magnus knew.

“I shouldn’t have pushed him. I was just…I was desperate and I lost him.”

Did he? Were they lost? Was it too late?

"I was so excited to see him. We decided to go to this bar. He promised to teach me how to throw darts," Magnus smiled faintly at the memory. "I waited for him that whole night. I waited till they closed up and asked me to leave. I came back here that night. I don't know why but it just feel like the right place to be."

It was Magnus! That night when he was crying in the church alone. That sound of someone walking in. It wasn't the cops. It had been Magnus. Oh Raziel, for fuck's sake!

“It was probably for the best I suppose,” Magnus smiled sadly at the floor. “He seemed like a good guy. I probably didn’t deserve him.”

He didn’t if it was instinct or desire. But he took Magnus’ face in his hands.

“Hey!” he said softly and Magnus stared at him, startled and confused. “He didn’t deserve you.”

He suddenly realized he was holding onto Magnus’ face. He realized he never wanted to let go. He gently ran his thumb over Magnus’ bottom lip and the other man’s breath hitched.

He looked down at the lips he had wanted to kiss for years. Lips that kept him up at night whether it was three weeks ago or three months ago or three years ago.

It was Magnus. It had always been Magnus.

As Alec raised his eyes to meet the other man’s, his heart pounded under his crisp white shirt – which was no longer crisp or white. Hips lips were inches away from Magnus’ and everything he had dreamed about for the last few weeks – everything he had dreamed about for the last few years – was right in front of him. Alec Lightwood, master of patience and resistance, did not want to wait anymore. For once, he wanted to be selfish and follow his heart. For once, he wanted his life to be his own.

So, Alec leaned in. His eyes were closed, out of fear or excitement – he didn’t know. He took a small breath in, desperately trying to calm his nerves down, and was suddenly enveloped in the scent of Magnus.

If you ask anyone, they would say that Magnus Bane smelled like sandalwood among other exotic and expensive things.

But not to Alec.

To Alec, he smelled like freedom, choice and salvation.

Magnus Bane smelled like everything a good Shadowhunter was supposed to stay away from.

Well, Alec was not going to stay away any longer.

Just as he was about to bring his lips down on Magnus’, a firm hand on his chest pushed him away.

“No.”

No. It was funny how one small word had the power to crush every single cell in your body. Magnus didn’t want him. Why did that make complete sense? If Alec listened intently, he could almost hear Raziel laughing at him.

Magnus looked hurt and conflicted. “No. Not like this. Not today when you have been beaten up by god knows what. Not now when you are drowned in whiskey.”

“I am sorry,” Alec whispered quietly, realizing what a grave error he had done.

What was he thinking? Why would he try to…Oh god.

“Alexander, I-”

“I shouldn’t have…Magnus, I am sorry.”

Alec got up hastily and wanted to run away. He wanted to run far away from Magnus. When something happened, he usually ran to The Circle. But where was he supposed to go now? He couldn’t look at the other man. He couldn’t turn around and see another person who didn’t want him.

Idris didn’t want him. Magnus didn’t want him. There are only so many times one can get turned down in a day.

A strong hand pulled him by his elbow and Alec was forced to turn around and his face his worst fear.

“What are we?” Magnus asked, his hand now clasping Alec’s. His voice softer than the wind that surrounded them.

What were they indeed. Were they rivals? Colleagues? Friends? Partners? Lovers?

“I don’t know, Magnus,” Alec replied honestly.

“I…I am tired, Alec,” Magnus sighed, still firmly holding on to his hand. “I am tired of being the experiment. I am tired of being the fling I am tired of being the secret. I am tired of being the one night stand. I am tired of being the trial run.”

Alec closed his eyes in pain. He wasn't out. He wasn't experienced. He wasn't sure of his own future. So, what did he have to offer Magnus expect but an uncertain - and probably unhappy - future?

“I don't think I can survive another Archer Boy,” Magnus confessed softly and Alec’s heart clenched in pain.

He realized that he had already given Magnus hope once and had broken his heart. Did he really want to do that again? 

“I don’t know if it is too much to ask but I want someone who will choose me no matter what,” Magnus confessed, his voice firmer now. “I want someone who will stay.”

Alec thought about his family. He thought of Idris. He thought of his future. He thought of the Clave’s ultimatum.

“So, tell me,” Magnus asked, wanting to know whether this, them, had a future. “Do you want to do this?”

“Maybe,” Alec replied, because he didn’t know either.

“I don’t want to be your maybe, Alec” Magnus whispered. “I want to be your fuck yeah.”

It was only fair of Magnus to ask Alec for assurance and certainty. But can Alec give him that? Will he choose Magnus no matter what?

"I cannot do this to myself again. I won't," Magnus said, to himself and Alec both. "If you choose me, it won't be easy. I am a Downworlder. I am your rival. I won't go easy on you. I can't do that to Edom or my people. So, you need to think. You need to think about everything I bring with me and decide whether you want this or not."

Magnus' request sounded fair. It sounded logical. It sounded heartbreaking.

“Come, I am going to take you home,” Magnus informed him and walked away without another word.

They drove in silence, complete and utter silence. It wasn’t the awkward kind or the comfortable kind – both of which they were familiar with. This silence felt scary – as if they were both terrified to speak another word without it leading to the end of their…well, whatever there was between the two of them.

As Magnus dropped him outside Lightwood Manor, Alec couldn’t move his legs. He didn’t want to get out of the car. He didn’t want to leave.

“I am sorry if I hurt you,” Magnus said softly when Alec finally got out of the car.

He wanted to say ‘no, you didn’t’ but didn’t want to lie. He had said enough lies to Magnus. He kept enough things from him already.

“I knew you wouldn’t want me,” Alec confessed. “I knew it in my heart. But to hear you say it…When you said ‘no’…It just… I was not rea-”

“Oh, Alexander!” Magnus interrupted him by exhaling in exhaustion.

“Make no mistake, Alexander. I want you.”

“But you-”

“I just want you to want me too. I want you to want me as much as I want you. Right now, I don’t think you do. Come back to me when you are sober. Come back when you are sure. Come back when you know you are ready.”

“What then?” Alec asked, terrified to know the answer. Magnus put his hands on the steering wheel again and inhaled deeply. For a minute, he thought Magnus would drive off and leave him without a response. He thought Magnus would run away from the disaster that was Alec Lightwood.

When the other man opened his eyes, there was a level of certainty in his eyes that almost felt palpable.

“Then i will say yes. Then you can kiss me. Then we will figure this out together.”

Chapter Text

How do you know when you are in love with someone?

Magnus had done copious research into the subject in order to deal with his ongoing crisis. Every single blog or book said the same thing. If one more stupid love guru suggests ‘You Just Know’ – he is definitely going to lose it.

One would think that a man such as Magnus Bane, someone who had fallen in love enough times would know the answer to the question. But even he couldn’t figure out how the hell you are supposed to know, actually know, when you are in love.

What does 'love' even mean?

Oh no. This was an entirely different crisis and he had no time for this right now.

The Morning Star project was ready to move to the construction stage, which was his favorite part of the whole process. There was something oddly satisfying about watching the creation of a building. He had once compared it to watching a child grow up but Catarina had asked him to fuck off.

The fact that they were just a week away from breaking ground and starting the construction work meant that they were getting closer to the deadline. It meant that they were getting closer to the end of the project. It meant the end of their partnership with Idris.

It meant the end of Alec Lightwood.

And here is the thing – Alec Lightwood is one of those people who make it extremely difficult to say ‘Goodbye’.  Once you get to know him, it’s hard as hell. And if you are lucky enough, you will get to know the deepest parts of his heart, parts he keeps hidden from rest of the world. Once you get to know those parts – well, good luck saying goodbye.

He wondered if anyone had ever had to do that before – say goodbye to Alec. He wondered where someone could find the courage to do something like that. He wondered how the poor soul survived it or whether they survived losing Alec at all.

The thought of saying goodbye to Alec, even in a professional capacity, seemed a little morbid – although it was months away. But Magnus had no choice but to dwell on the matter since it wasn’t as if they are going to run into each other in the neighborhood later on. Yeah, that’s definitely not going to happen.

But for now, he pushed away the thought of saying goodbye to Alec Lightwood. He had a more immediate crisis that he had to attend to.

How do you know when you are in love with someone?

Okay so the books were no help as were the documentaries and the quizzes on Cosmo – and Buzzfeed! He had to find an answer. He had to! He hadn’t had the opportunity to meet Alec since their little rendezvous at The Circle. They had exchanged a couple of texts, but nothing more. He wanted to give Alec space and time to figure out what he wanted.

Magnus had gone to The Circle that night since he felt lost and confused – something he had been feeling quite regularly in the last couple of months. He liked visiting the creepy building when he felt that way. It felt oddly comforting to be surrounded by destruction.

The restorative powers of the church had multiplied that night in the presence of Alec Lightwood. Of course, the man was drunk as hell – which was sort of cute if they were to ignore the atmosphere – and had led to a night of games and confessions. It wasn’t that bad, all things considered.

Well, at least until Alec had leaned into kiss him.

Alec Lightwood wanted to kiss him.

ALEC LIGHTWOOD WANTED TO KISS MAGNUS BANE.

It sounded like one of those extremely scandalous headlines one would read on Nephilim Today.

But that was precisely what scared Magnus the most – that this, them, would be nothing more than a juicy scandal or a secret affair.

Truth be told, Magnus would have considered the option - especially when the other party was as good looking as Alec Lightwood. But that wasn’t him anymore.

It took him awhile to make peace with the fact that he wasn’t the type of person who was cut out for open relationships or friends with benefits or no strings attached or one night stands.

Magnus was a romantic. Magnus was an All-or-None guy. Magnus believed in soulmates for fuck’s sake.

So, after the debacle with Camille, he had promised himself that he wouldn’t do this himself anymore. He promised himself that he would never treat his heart the way others had. It was unfair of him to expect others to protect it when he didn’t do it in the first place.

At the time, this had sounded like a solid plan.

And then came Alexander Gideon Lightwood.

Magnus knew that he felt deeply for Alec. He knew that it was no longer just a crush or infatuation or something purely physical. It was more than that. While he was not someone who bothered much about labels, it was absolutely imperative that he figured out whether he was in love with Alec.

Because if he was, then he had to make peace with everything that came with Alec.

He had told the other man that Magnus wasn’t an easy option – that loving a Downworlder comes with certain challenges.

But he had failed to consider that the same applied to him too. Being in love with a Shadowhunter was not going to be easy at all. He didn’t want to think about what it would mean for Edom and his position. There was a lot at stake and therefore he had to know whether this was all worth it.

So.

Was he in love with Alec?

How do you know when you are in love with someone?

How the fuck do you know?

He had no choice but to utilize the last resort – direct guidance. Magnus was not arrogant enough to think that he could figure it out by himself. He had learned that leaning on those whom you love and those who loved you was not a weakness but rather a strength.

As he walked into the precinct, he felt him himself relax a little. Only Magnus Bane would relax in burnt down churches and crowded precincts. Well, now there was someone else who took comfort in such odd environments too.

Maybe that is how one knows. You know you are in love with someone because you are compatible with that person.

Well, that didn’t sound right. Magnus was different from Alec in every possible way. So, surely it couldn’t be compatibility, right?

“Magnus!” Luke exclaimed as he opened his office door. “What a surprise!

"Morning, Captain!" Magnus smiled and offered the man a hot cup of tea - which Luke accepted with a happy grin.

"Are you here for more advice?” the man teased as they sat down. 

“Uh, yes?” Magnus answered sheepishly.

“Oh,” Luke replied, only slightly taken back. “Well, what can I help you with?”

“I am just going to cut to the chase,” Magnus announced because they both were not fans of beating around the bush. “How do you know when you are in love with someone?”

Luke looked visibly surprised. “How do I…Uh, wow…I don’t…That’s a tough one, buddy.”

“I know – which is why I am asking you!

“Well. Hmmm. I guess you just k-”

“No. Don’t say it!,” Magnus grumbled. “It can’t be that simple. Surely, there must be something more.”

Luke thought for a minute and shrugged in sympathy. “Magnus, I am so sorry. I honestly don’t know. I…I don’t…I might have forgotten how to love to be honest. I haven’t been in love for a long time.”

The answer saddened him a little and Magnus immediately felt guilty for bringing up the subject with Luke. But Luke had one of those epic love stories – the kind Netflix would love to get their hands on. So, he had just assumed that the man would know the answer to his riddle.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” his tone quite hesitant now, “How did you know? Back then, how did you know you were in love with Jocelyn?”

A small smile crept on Luke’s face at the mention of his late wife’s name – it wasn’t a sad one, like you are remembering someone you lost. It seemed happy, like you are remembering the best days of your life.

“Jocelyn,” Luke breathed out the name like a prayer. “Well, I want to say I just kn-”

Magnus leveled him with a glare and Luke chuckled in defeat. “Okay. Okay. I won’t say it.”

Magnus liked the sound of that chuckle – It was deep and honest. It is the sound you would get when you pop a balloon that was filled with nothing but happy memories.

“I don’t think there is a specific moment, Magnus. I don’t think that’s how you fall in love with someone. It happens over time. Maybe you have that realization that happens in a random moment, but not the falling in love part. I think that is more organic.”

Okay. That made more sense than whatever Cosmopolitan had to say on the matter.

“Alright, then. When did you realize you were in love with Jocelyn?”

“You are not going to let this go till you get what you want, huh?”

“Nope.”

Luke chuckled again.

“Jocelyn took me to this Chinese restaurant in the Downworld. Jade Wolf – It used to be near the docks but was destroyed during the riots like most businesses. But yeah, we went to Jade Wolf. I think we were around 16 at the time. God, they had the best prawn wontons in the city!”

“You fell in love with Jocelyn because she introduced you to prawn wontons?”

Another deep chuckle.

“I fell in love with Jocelyn because she introduced me to the Downworld.  I kept my distance from the Downworld when I was growing up. All Shadowhunters did. But not Jocelyn. She loved visiting the Downworld – she loved the food, the bookstores, the concerts and the art boutiques and everything here. She inspired me to be different. Be bold. Be kind. Be more than a just a Shadowhunter. I didn’t know I could be all of those things until I met her.”

“She was something else, wasn’t she?” Magnus commented fondly.

“She really was,” Luke chuckled again. “Jocelyn was from one of the most famous Shadowhunter families. But she didn’t care about the rules. She said that we can’t judge people without never meeting them. So, when she took me to Jade Wolf and we had those amazing prawn wontons, I realized that I was in love with her – because she managed to see the things that most people were blind to. I think that’s what made her a great artist.”

Magnus missed Jocelyn. He didn’t remember much about her. But whatever he did, it was enough to know that she was kinder than most people he had met in his entire life. When he told Luke this and the other man chuckled again. He liked, and slightly envied, the way Jocelyn made Luke laugh so fondly even after all this time. 

Magnus wondered if he would ever get to chuckle like that. Will the thought of Alec Lightwood ever lead to a sound like that? Something so content and blissful. 

“Did you find the answer you were looking for?” Luke inquired as Magnus got up to leave.

“No,” Magnus replied because he still he didn’t know. “But thanks anyway. I think it helped a little bit.”

“Well, glad to be of help,” Luke smiled at him. "Thanks for the tea!"

Magnus got into his car and drove to Edom. Okay so maybe Luke didn’t have the answer that he was looking for today. Magnus needed something general and less personal. He needed something that will help him figure out his own feelings. He needed someone who would give him the truth in a simple and straightforward way. He needed someone who could be prompt.

And he knew just the person to ask.

“Santiago!” He beamed when Raphael walked into his office a couple of hours later. “I have an important question to ask you.”

“Yes, your text said 911. I assume this is about the Blackthorn Project? I was swamped when I received your text. And yes, we do need an immediate solution for the eco-”

“How do you know when you are in love with someone?”

The other man stared at him in disbelief.

“I am blocking your number,” Raphael snarled and walked out of the room, slamming the door on the way.

Okay maybe that was a bit too prompt than Magnus expected.

The door opened again suddenly and Magnus might have jumped a little on his seat.

“Just ask Cat,” Raphael sighed very tiredly and walked away again without another word.

Alright then. Cat. He can ask Cat. She was a smart, level-headed woman. She has been in love. She would know.

He called her but it went straight to voicemail. Magnus got up from his chair and decided to go ask her the riddle in person.

He is not going to bed today without figuring this out, Goddamnit!

As he walked to Cat’s floor, he noticed Simon in his room, intently staring at his laptop.

“Simon!” Magnus greeted walking into the boy’s room. “Quick quesh – How do you know when you are in love with someone?”

The boy blinked in confusion and adjusted the glasses on his nose. “Um, I’m sorry…Are YOU asking ME for advice on LOVE?”

Magnus rolled his eyes. “Yes, desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. Now. Love. How do you know?”

“Well, I guess you just kn-”

“Simon, I swear to god if you finish that sentence-”

“Christ! Okay. What do you want me to say?”

“I want something concrete. Something I can work with.”

Simon cocked his head and thought for a minute. “Okay but really. You just know.”

“SIMON!”

“Just listen, okay?” Simon gestured him to calm down. “Do you remember that iconic scene from Empire Strikes Back? What am I even saying? Every freaking scene in that movie was iconic. But you know what I mean? When Leia says ‘I love you’ and Han says ‘I know’? Do you remember that scene?”

“You didn’t have to do the voices but yes, I do remember,” Magnus laughed fondly. “But only because you forced us to watch it like 52 times.”

“I have zero regrets,” Simon smiled proudly. “But my point is, sometimes you just know. The way you look at them kind of changes – randomly and all of a sudden. One day you they are your project partner and the next day they are your soulmate.”

Hold on. How did he-

“I am just talking in general by the way,” Simon quickly added with a slight blush on his cheeks. “I am not talking about Isabelle or anyone like that. Just in general, you know?”

“Right,” Magnus nodded, holding back a grin.

It turned out that he wasn’t the only Downworlder in a Lightwood crisis.

“Okay, I think I get what you mean,” Magnus replied in understanding, but not entirely satisfied. He sat down on the arm of the chair and leveled Simon with a 'I am not leaving till I am satisfied' look. “So, what changed with this person - who is not Isabelle?”

Simon blushed harder at that and started instinctively cleaning his keyboard with a tissue – A nervous habit Magnus found slightly endearing.

“I don’t know. I mean, the first time I saw Is…This person, um, I realized she was smart and brave and amazing. But the more time I spent with her, I sort of realized that when I am with her I feel amazing and smart and brave too. I guess that’s how you know. When you fall in love with someone, you fall in love with yourself a little bit too.”

Okay. Okay. Magnus can work with that.

“Okay, so, hypothetically, how would I feel when I fall in love with Al…This person?”

“Magnus, I don’t know that! Only you know the answer to that.”

Oh for crying out loud! Why can’t a man get a simple answer for a really complicated question? Magnus got off from the chair and fixed his jacket.

“Did that help your…confusion?” Simon asked hopefully.

“Not at all,” Magnus informed him unhappily. “This was a complete waste of my time.”

“Maybe you should ask Meliorn?” Simon suggested.

Hmm. Maybe.

“Where is he?”

“It’s lunch time. So he is probably at the greenhouse listening to Hozier.”

Hmm. Maybe not.

“I am going to talk to Cat.”

“Oh, yeah. I think that would be a better option,” Simon agreed.

“Thank you for the assist, Lewis,” Magnus winked at him. “I think it helped 12%.”

He grinned to himself when he heard Simon shouting “I understood that reference!” from the other side of the door when he walked towards Cat’s office.

Okay maybe Luke, Raphael and Simon – and hundreds of other random people on the internet – couldn’t give him a solid answer. Cat might. Cat will. Cat must.

“Catarina, I am afraid I have found myself in a terrible crisis! Only you can save my lost soul from this torment, my noble”-

A pair of beautiful, confused, brown eyes stared back him, with an ice-cream in hand and mouth wide open.

“Sweet pea?”

“Mom always said you are dramatic. I think I know what she means now,” Madzie giggled and focused back on her ice-cream.

“Oh, trust me,” Magnus replied and dramatically flung himself on the nearby couch. “I have good reason.”

“She went to meet Uncle Raphael. Apparently someone pissed him off,” Madzie winced.

“Oh, I am sure it’s nothing,” Magnus laughed nervously. “So, eating dessert before lunch, are we? What’s the occasion?”

The distraction worked since Madzie went, “I aced the science quiz in school! So, mom got me a treat!”

“Sweet pea, that is amazing!” Magnus cheered. “You make this old man so proud.”

“Dramatic,” Madzie scoffed and walked over to Catarina’s chair and seated herself like it was her own throne. “What can I help you with?”

“Hmm?”

“You said ‘you have a terrible cri-seas’. What is wrong? Maybe I can help!” Madzie offered, ever the altruist like her mother.

“Oh, I don’ think you can help with this, sweet pea."

“Try me,” she shrugged, never the one to back down from a challenge – again just like her mother.

“Okay then,” Magnus smiled. “How do you know when you are in love with someone?”

“Oof,” Madzie responded.

“I know,” Magnus sighed.

“You know I love sprinkles, right?” Madzie asked him.

Magnus chuckled at that. “Madzie, the whole of New York knows you love sprinkles.”

“Exactly!” Madzie beamed. “But do you see sprinkles on my ice-cream?”

“Nope,” Magnus shook his head. “Mom said no to sprinkles again, huh?”

“She says ice-cream with sprinkles is ‘too much sugar’!”

“No such thing as ‘too much sugar’ sweet pea.”

“I KNOW!” Madzie agreed with him loudly. “But mom never allows sprinkles. But she is still my favorite person in the whole world.”

Magnus looked her and wondered where she was going with this.

“That’s how you know,” Madzie explained in a ‘duh’ voice. “You can't hate them even when they are anti-sprinkles.”

He couldn’t but laugh out loud. “You have no right being this wise at such a young age,”

“I know,” Madzie shrugged. “Is your cri-seas over?”

“I don’t think so, sweet pea,” Magnus smiled softly. “But your wise words certainly helped. I just need more clarity I think.”

“When I have a problem, I always talk to mom. It helps,” Madzie offered kindly. “Maybe you should talk to your dad?”

“I could,” Magnus responded, considering the possibility. Or he could just watch whatever TED talk his father was going to recommend. He thanked his god daughter once more and went back to his room to seek guidance from his last resort.

When he told his father about his ‘situation’, the man was surprisingly cheerful.

“Ah, nothing to be confused about,” he reassured him through the phone. “I am glad you came straight to me.”

Uh. Okay. What his father didn’t know couldn’t hurt him.

“For me, it’s when you realize that you would sacrifice anything for that person. That’s when you know you love them more than anything in the world. But that’s the thing, Magnus. This is how I feel. How you feel is not going to be the same.”

“I don’t know how I feel, father,” Magnus whispered quietly into his phone.

“I just…I spent the whole week trying to figure out how I feel. I literally ran around the whole day trying to understand how I feel about A…About this person. But I still don’t know.”

“Maybe that’s how you know?” His father suggested from the other side.

“What do you mean?”

“You said it yourself just now. You spent the entire day trying to figure your feelings about this man or woman. You could have given up and just accepted defeat. But you didn’t. Even though you still don’t know what you are feeling, you are not willing to give up on that feeling, are you? Maybe that’s what love means to you – Fighting for that person no matter what.”

Was it true? Was he really willing to fight for Alec Lightwood? Was he willing to fight everything the world had to throw against the both of them?

It was a simple Yes or No question and Magnus knew his answer.

He had run around all day, confused, questioning and unsure. But right now, the answer traveled to him faster than light.

And he knew. Suddenly, the whole stupid 'You Just Know' thing made so much sense.

He knew how he felt. He knew he was in love with Alec Lightwood. He knew he was willing to fight.

“I love you,” Magnus whispered into the phone.

“I love you too, Magnus,” his father answered and he could hear the older man’s smile through his voice. “I love you more than anything in the world.”

When he ended the call, he felt lighter, accomplished and satisfied. – the feeling you get after you complete an annoyingly difficult jigsaw puzzle. He realized the precise feeling he was chasing after today.

Certainty. 

He also realized that love is subjective and is not easy to put labels on – because every person he talked to understood and experienced it differently.

To Luke, love meant inspiration – bringing out the best in someone.

To Raphael, love meant support – being there for someone constantly and without limits.

To Simon, love meant growth  – of the other person and yourself.

To Madzie, love meant acceptance – despite differences.

To his father, love meant sacrifice – giving up the world without question.

And to Magnus, love meant fighting – every single day, harder and harder.

But there was still one question that needed answering.

What did love mean to Alec? Was Alec willing to fight for him every single day?

“Magnus,” the smooth voice called and brought him out of his deep contemplation. “I am sorry. I knocked on the door a couple of times and called your name but you seemed lost in thought.”

“Sebastian,” Magnus said in surprise because he wasn’t expecting the blonde man today. “I am sorry. I was just thinking.”

“Dangerous habit,” Sebastian laughed as he sat down. “I was in the neighborhood and wanted to check if everything was okay for next week. But…You seem preoccupied. Is this a bad time?”

“Not at all,” Magnus smiled at the other man, “I was just bugging everyone at Edom because I was having a personal crisis.”

“Is everything alright?” Sebastian asked, his voice worried.

“It is now. I was just thinking about what love means – as one usually does on a Wednesday evening.”

Sebastian chuckled in response. “Of course. Did you figure it out?”

“Well, kind of,” Magnus shrugged. “I figured out it means different things to different people.”

The blonde man considered it for a minute and nodded in agreement, “I suppose that is true.”

The man dressed in the navy suit with his perfectly styled hair and pleasant face looked like he knew what he was talking about. Magnus couldn’t help but be a little curious.

“What does love mean to you?” he asked the Shadowhunter, “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Family.”

The response was so immediate and automatic Magnus was slightly taken back. While everyone took their time to figure out what love meant to them, Sebastian just stated it simply - as if it was something he thought about every single night.

“Love means family – fighting for them, protecting them and trusting them above all else.”

The way he said it…There was no doubt that he felt strongly about his family – that he loved them fiercely. It sounded like the kind of love that can build worlds…or break them apart.

“I am sorry,” Sebastian sounded a little embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to sound so intense. But I value my family above all else. I might not be with them now, but I still love them.”

Magnus recalled Sebastian’s family being in London. It must be hard to stay away from those you love so passionately. He wondered why the other man had decided to shift here if he had to sacrifice something he so obviously cared for.

“It’s one of the reasons why I chose Edom and Idris for this project to be honest. Both companies are run by families that I respect.”

While he knew that Sebastian obviously respected the Lightwoods, he hadn’t expected a similar sentiment towards his own. It felt good to be appreciated by a Shadowhunter. Magnus was slowly getting used to that feeling.

“You have built Edom into the success that it is today,” Sebastian commented with admiration. “You have made your family proud. Your father told me what happened during the riots. I just want to say I am sorry that my people caused you such pain. And I am so glad that you are understanding enough to work with Shadowhunters again.”

He wouldn’t have agreed a few months ago and he was grateful that his father pushed him to make the right choice. “I am glad I chose to work with you too.”

“I understand that it must be hard for you to work with the Lightwoods…after what happened. Losing your mother and your best friend on the same day must have been…I can’t even imagine,” Sebastian sympathized.

He didn’t want to think about his mother. He didn’t want to think about Ragnor. You can convince yourself that you are a better person or that you have moved on or that you are not full of hatred. But some wounds…Some wounds bled at the slightest memories.

A blue scarf and a green sweater was all it took for the hatred and pain to resurface.

“It was devastating…It still is,” Magnus admitted with a tight smile. “But we have to move past our history. That’s the whole point of this project, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Sebastian smiled back. “And I am really happy that you and Alec are the ones doing that - even after what his parents did to the Downworld. It really shows people that forgiveness is so much better than vengeance.”

“Alec cannot be held responsible for the actions of his parents,” Magnus replied - the defensiveness in his voice strong and reflexive. 

“Of course not,” the man shook his head seriously. “I just…If I am being honest…I don’t think I can do it. I could never work with a family that ruined my own.”

“The Lightwoods didn’t ruin my family,” Magnus sighed because he desperately wanted to move on from that chapter of his life, “Yes, many things could have been prevented if they hadn’t built The Circle. But if they hadn’t, some other Shadowhunter family might have. If there is anyone responsible for the chaos, it would be Valentine.”

“Yes, but Valentine did not set fire to The Circle and kill hundreds of Downworlders,” Sebastian replied – the defensiveness in his tone seemed eerily familiar.

“You think Valentine didn’t do it?” Magnus scoffed.

“I know Valentine didn’t do it,” Sebastian said with iron certainty. “I work with The Clave – it gives you access to information that is kept from most.”

“If he didn’t, then who did?” Magnus inquired tiredly because he was in no mood for conspiracy theories. “Are you expecting me to believe that the church spontaneously caught on fire?”

Sebastian leaned in and looked at him intensely – his eyes burning anger and pain. He looked as if the riots changed his entire life too.

“It was the Lightwoods. Robert and Maryse Lightwood set fire to The Circle on the night of the riots.”

Chapter Text

Do I want this? Am I sure? Am I ready?

These questions have been swimming around Alec’s head for the past few days. Ever since the night at the church, he has been thinking about what Magnus had told him. He has been thinking about whether it is all worth it.

Magnus was right. Coming out as gay would be one thing. But coming out a gay man who is in love with a Downworlder…

Yes, he said love.

There was no longer a point in convincing himself that he was not head over heels in love with Mr. Silk Shirts.

But loving Magnus came with a price. The question was whether Alec was willing to pay it. Will he regret it later on? He knew there was no going back once he crosses that line.

He thought of Lucian Graymark, a Shadowhunter he had never met but had quietly admired. The man had left to live in the Downworld after the riots because he was done with Angel Square. There was no possible way through which Lucian could ever come back home. Shadowhunters talk. They judge. They criticize. It was not fair. But it’s just what people do over here.

Did Alec want the same fate? Did he want to be shunned from his own home? Never get the opportunity to meet his siblings again? Never get to set foot in Idris again?

Was Magnus Bane worth all of this?

“Of course he is,” the familiar voice said as she walked into his office. “I’ll tell him right away, ma’am!”

Clary Fairchild. This was Luke’s daughter. His family. The family he had created for himself in the Downworld.

Alec has always wanted his own family too.

“Mr. Lightwood, your parents are back,” the intern informed him. “I told them you are free for a meeting. They want to see you in 15.”

Oh god.

His parents were back from scavenging Angel Square for a suitable bride. And of course there was the news from The Clave. His parents had somehow convinced the organization to give Alec a chance since he was going to get married to a respectable Shadowhunter woman.

When his parents travelled to meet the Clave representatives, Alec had hoped they would reject his parents’ offer.

It’s insane if you think about it.

The Clave’s agreement meant that he could run Idris. He could be the CEO like he had always wanted.

Yet he had desperately wanted to the Clave to say no.

They had been trying to help him get what he had always wanted and he had still wanted his parents to fail.

You think you want something your entire life. You do everything in your power to achieve it. You sacrifice so many things to get there.

But the moment you get it, you realize it’s not what you want. You realize that it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be.

It’s really fucking insane.

He couldn’t blame his parents because according to them they were doing the right thing. They were trying to help him. He could be angry at them for trying to get him married to a woman. But how can you be angry at someone when you are at fault for misleading them in the first place?

He should tell them. He should just tell them. Maybe if they knew….Maybe they will help him find another way.

“Mr. Lightwood?” the voice called again.

“I’m sorry,” Alec returned to the present and took a large sip from his coffee. “I heard you. I will go meet them in a while. In the meantime, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Me?” the intern squeaked, looking instantly terrified.

There is a difference between fear and respect, Magnus had once told him.

Alec had come to realize that half of those who worked at Idris were either too afraid to speak or too arrogant to listen.

Is this the kind of place he wants to run? A place occupied by predators and prey. A place that literally gave off ‘hunt or get hunted’ vibes.

Is this the kind of CEO you want to be?

“Yes, you,” Alec nodded at her and gave a small smile. It was apparently the wrong thing to do since the girl tensed even more.

“Am I getting fired?” she asked in a low voice.

“Why would you think that?” Alec inquired incredulously. 

“I know you got in trouble with your parents for approving my design over Raj’s.”

How did she even….Right. Shadowhunters talk.

And Jace talks more than most.

“I did. But don’t worry about that,” he reassured her even though she still looked uncertain. “I, uh, wanted to talk to about something personal.”

The girl bit her lower lip. “Is this about Jace?”

“What did Jace do? Alec asked, half exasperated and half alarmed.

“Um, nothing. He didn’t do anything,” she replied quickly. “We’ve just been hanging out….outside of work.”

Oh.

“Um, cool.”

What else are you supposed to say? He could give her the shovel talk but he took pity on her. According to Izzy, it is something he is not apparently good at. 

“It’s not against the rules.”

“Pardon?”

She tucked a small strand of hair behind her ear and looked him in the eye and there it was – the confidence of a Shadowhunter. He knew she was raised as a Downworlder but it is impossible to get rid of the stubbornness and confidence (some may call it recklessness) of a Shadowhunter.

“You always remind us to follow the rules and respect protocol. I just…I checked our social conduct policy when he asked me out. It’s not against the rules to date a colleague.”

She maintained eye contact during the whole time, which Alec approved of.

“Jace finally asked you out?”

“Yes.”

“And your first thought was to check the social conduct policy?”

“Yes.”

Oh, he liked this one.

“Jace is a clown but he means well,” Alec told her with a serious face. “I don’t have a problem with you two dating. Just don’t let it affect your work or your judgment.”

“I would never,” she responded with an equally serious face.

“What I wanted to talk to you about….It’s about the Downworld.”

“Oh,” she blinked.

“I was wondering if you could tell me about your experience growing up in the Downworld. You are a Shadowhunter and so are your parents. What was it like growing up there? What was it like to come back here after all these years?”

The girl blinked again; obviously surprised that Alec would even bother to inquire about her personal life.

Is this the kind of CEO you want to be?

“Is everything alright?” she asked, the tone slightly nervous but genuinely concerned.

“Yes,” he replied immediately.

The way in which he said it…It hurt a little bit. It was depressing how quickly the answer came to him…like some sort of reflex. When someone asked him if he was okay, the immediate response was ‘yes’ or ‘I’m fine’. Years and years of conditioning and practice meant that his mouth always said ‘yes’ even when his heart cried ‘not even close’.

He wasn’t sure if he was trying convince the other person or himself. Maybe he believed that if he kept saying he was okay then it would probably come true. Like some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

The redhead did not look convinced at all. So she was obviously shrewd than most people he talked to.

“I am just…We are working on the Morning Star project. It is a school in the Downworld. I would like to know more about the people there. The experience of children. Just to get an idea.”

And here is the other thing he was getting good at after years and years of practice – lying.

Well, if you are a gay man in the closet, then lying and repressing kind of becomes your go-to coping mechanisms. They become your skills of survival.

“Uh, it was okay,” Clary shrugged. “I mean, I don’t have anything to compare it to. But I loved growing up in the Downworld. I...I know people only talk about the crime and the danger and the poverty but…There are good things too. People there, they care about each other more. They protect each other. I met my best friend in the Downworld. I have no complaints to be honest.”

“Do you…Did you ever feel isolated or discriminated because you are a Shadowhunter?”

Clary shook her head immediately. “I was a kid when we moved to the Downworld. I don’t remember much. But I don’t remember anyone treating me any differently. They saw me and only saw a little girl. They didn’t care where I came from.”

He didn’t realize that his skepticism about her response was obvious since Clary immediately went “But that doesn’t mean everyone was nice and welcoming. There are still people who don’t like me or my dad because we are Shadowhunters. But…I can’t help how they feel about me. As Jace says, ‘haterz gonna hate’.

Alec couldn’t help but chuckle at her perfect imitation of his brother. “Yes, wise words.”

Clary smiled at him nervously, as if there was more to say but she wasn’t sure if she should or not.

“I don’t know if you knew about this before…But Luke is not my biological father.”

“Oh?” Alec said, because he didn’t know.

“It was Valentine Morgenstern.”

Oh for fuck’s sake!

Is everyone single person at Idris somehow connected to Valentine? First his parents. Now his intern. Next thing he knows, Jace would probably walk up to him and say that he was raised in Valentine’s secret cabin or something.

“My mom left him when I was a baby,” Clary continued, though her voice was more hesitant this time. “Luke raised me as his own. Whatever people might say, he will always be my father.”

Alec didn’t know what to say to that either. Shadowhunters were not really good at talking about their feelings or responding to others’.

Clary tapped her finger on the armrest of her chair nervously. “I know he was a horrible person. But I was once told that we are not responsible for the si-’

“The sins of our parents,” Alec finished for her.

“Who told you that?” Clary asked, as her eyebrow rose in curiosity.

“Probably the same person who told you,” Alec shrugged.

There was only one person who they both knew - someone who was running around, making lives better one at a time, by offering unsolicited yet amazing advice.

She smiled at him then. And Alec realized maybe he doesn’t hate her that much.

“Good. Then you know that I will not apologize for his actions," the girl told him firmly. "It wasn’t my fault. But I will apologize for not telling you any sooner. You have the right know.”

He found her personality to be quite interesting. He wondered if it was because of her unusual upbringing. She had the courage to speak what was in her mind – which was a very Shadowhunter thing to do. But she also had the humility to apologize when she was wrong – which was…not very Shadowhunter-y. He guessed that was the Downworlder in her.

When he explained this to her, the girl cocked her head and scrunched her nose.

“I don’t really agree with that,” she told him. “I know that Shadowhunters are supposed to be this and Downworlders are supposed to be that…But I am confident because it’s who I am and I am humble because that’s also who I am. Of course, my personality is shaped by how and where I was raised. But we can’t say that this is a Shadowhunter trait and that is a Downworlder trait. I feel like that’s what led to this whole mess. I have met Shadowhunters who are humble enough to admit when they are wrong and I have met Downworlders who are annoyingly stubborn and confident.”

She was right. He was stereotyping. And it was indeed what had led to this mess. They are all just people at the end of the day. It didn’t matter whether you are from the Downworld or Angel Square – they all felt the same things.

“I am sorry,” Alec apologized. “You are right.”

Clary smirked at him as if to say ‘See? You are humble enough to apologize too, you son of a Shadowhunter!

“I also want to apologize for….Well, I know I haven’t been the best boss. I was…I am hard on you – harder than necessary. So, I am sorry. I’ll do better in the future.”

That is if get to have that future…

“Thank you,” Clary smiled at him – as if she had known that he would come through one day. “I won’t lie. It has been hard here. Although the Downworlders don’t see me as a Shadowhunter, I cannot say the same about…well, people here.”

The fact that he knew exactly what she was talking about angered him. He knew that she was being bullied and discriminated because she was raised in the Downworld. Even his own parents were not okay with Clary getting more opportunities because she was from the Downworld. The discrimination at Idris was obvious and yet no one said anything about it. They had all just accepted and normalized this behavior.

Is this the kind of CEO you want to be?

“I am sorry for that too,” Alec said again, because he was genuinely embarrassed and ashamed.

“It isn’t your fault. It’s just how things are,” Clary shrugged although her face said ‘I wish they weren’t though’.

“If may I ask…” Alec asked her hesitantly. “Why would you choose to work at Idris? Why would you come back to Angel Square at all? I am not saying you should go back or anything. It’s just…It’s clear that you are treated better in the Downworld. And you are talented enough to get a good job in Edom or any other leading company over there. Why would you put yourself through this?”

Clary gave him a soft smile that had a hint of sadness.

“Because I am Shadowhunter. I want to get to know the world I am from. I want to get to know what molded my parents into the people that they are. I was born to be this person and I am not going to back down just because it’s the hard choice.”

Alec looked up her in admiration and surprise.

“I have to be honest with who I am and what I want,” Clary told him as she got up from her seat.

Alec gave her a tight nod.

“While I am glad that I have finally had a conversation with my boss that lasted longer than 12 seconds,” Clary told him with a teasing smile. “You are supposed to meet your parents.”

Ah. Shit. Yes. That.

Alec released a deep sigh, picked up his coat and walked toward the door.

“Alec,” Clary called out his name, probably for the first time. “I can see that you are…conflicted about something. But I am sure you will do the right thing.”

“How do you know?” he asked her, because he certainly didn’t.

“How did you know my design was better than Raj’s?”

“It was the obvious choice,” Alec shrugged, because it was.

“There is always an obvious choice. Pick that one.”

The obvious choice. What was it?

“Thanks, Clary,” he told her and walked towards the elevator to meet his parents.

As the elevator took him higher and higher, his nerves got worse. He didn’t know what his parents wanted to talk about.

Well, he did kind of know. But what exactly did they want to talk about? Have they found someone? Have they found him a woman to marry?

“Alec!” the mother exclaimed as he walked into her office. “Come sit down! Sit down, sweetheart!”

Oh no.

His mother seemed happy. No, she looked fucking joyful.

Now while it was usually good to see your mother happy…This was not normal for Alec. If Maryse Lightwood was smiling…Well, that’s just a bad sign.

“We have found you the perfect girl,” his father announced.

Called it!

“Her name is Jessamine Lovelace,” his mother gushed. “She is from one of the richest Shadowhunter families. They run a clothing line. Well, you might not know it. But they are quite the affluent bunch to say the least. We talked to her parents and they are in! Can you believe it? I thought it would take us months to find the right girl but thank the angel!”

The right girl.

“Since the Clave has already agreed that you can run Idris if you marry a Shadowhunter, all is well again.” his father sighed happily.

Marry a Shadowhunter.

His mother walked over to him and sat down next to him on the couch. “Jessamine is not at all interested in running Idris. She is already taking care of ‘Laces and Love’ – their own company. So, basically you will be running Idris. Just like you wanted! Isn’t that amazing?”

You will be running Idris.

“Alec, are you alright?” his father inquired, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Son, say something.”

“Does this girl even like me?” Alec asked the first thing that popped into his head.

“Like?” his mother scoffed. “She loves you! Believe it or not, you are one of Angel Square’s most eligible bachelors! She is thrilled to meet you. We need to make some arrangements as soon as possible. What about tomorrow? What is your schedule like? Doesn’t matter, you can cancel your appointments. This is more important. You need to call her-”

“Do you even care if I like her or not?”

His parents looked shocked, as if Alec had said something incredibly offensive.

“Alec, of course we do!” his father said in surprise. “That’s why we are arranging for you to meet her. You should talk to her.”

“What if I don’t like her?”

His mother looked at him disapprovingly. “Alec, you cannot make assumptions without meeting her. And need I remind you that we are in no position to make such ridiculous assumptions right now. You should be praying that she likes you!”

“What if I don’t want to her to like me?”

“Alec,” his father said in a serious tone. “What are you talking about? We thought you wanted to get married.”

“I wanted to run Idris,” Alec corrected him. “I didn’t ask for any of this!”

“Alec, please don’t tell me you have changed your mind,” his mother groaned in an exasperated voice. “We have already made arrangements for your take over next week.”

“What???”

“Yes, you will be officially taking over Idris next Monday. We have informed everyone who needs to be present, including our partners and the media. We have also invited some clave representatives.”

“But…Why? Why now? We were supposed to wait till the end of the Morning Star project!”

“I don’t we have that option anymore, son” his father informed in a deep tone. “The Clave has agreed to let you run the company. We don’t know whether they will change their minds by the time the project is done. We cannot take that risk. We need to do things while we still can.”

Next Monday. That was in less than four days. Does that mean…

“Does that mean I have to get married before Monday?” Alec gulped.

“Of course not,” his mother laughed. “I cannot plan a takeover and a wedding in less than four days. We can just spread the word that you are engaged to be married. And maybe we’ll plan the wedding in a few months.”

No. No. No. No. This was moving way too soon. It’s all too soon.

“Alec, isn’t this what you wanted?” his father asked, now settling down on the couch, next to his mother.

Is this what he wanted? Did he want to get married to a woman whom he barely knew and take over Idris in the middle of a financial fuckup?

No, this is not even close to what he wanted.

“Alec, you have to make your choice,” his mother told him, her voice urgent and stressed.

His choice.

There is always an obvious choice. Pick that one.

He closed his eyes and pictured what he wanted and there it was.

It materialized in front of him before his eyelids even closed.

Alec had tortured himself over the last few days thinking about what he wanted and what should choose. But here is the thing, he knew. He has always known. We always say that some choices are difficult to make. But it’s really not. In any circumstance, we always know what we want. It’s just…We don’t admit we want it.

Because when you admit what you want…Well, you have to act on that decision.

Making the decision is not the hard part. It’s the following-through part that is terrifying.

So, instead we convince ourselves that we don’t know what we want. We tell ourselves that we can’t choose. We lie to ourselves that it is too difficult to pick.

Because it’s easier to float around in an ocean of uncertainty than to follow your heart.

But he wasn’t going to float around anymore. He was going to swim to the other side.

He knew what he wanted was Magnus. He knew what he wanted was to be happy.

He had been too afraid to swim because he had been worried about the waves. He had been worried that Magnus wouldn’t want him. He had been worried that Magnus’ rejection would crash him down.

But he had been wrong.

Make no mistake, Alexander. I want you.

Magnus wanted him. After all these years, there was finally a safe shore that he could swim to. And Alec was ready. He was sure.

“I don’t want to marry Jessamine Lovelace.”

“She can be a bit…difficult,” his mother admitted, “But I am sure you two can make it work. That’s how marriage usua-”

“Mom, I don’t even know this girl!” Alec sighed exasperatedly. “I am not going to marry someone I don’t know or carry about. I am not getting engaged to them to appease the Clave either. It is not happening.”

His mother gave him an are-you-fucking-kidding-me look and stomped off to her desk. Alec’s father who was still seated a couple of inches away moved closer to him.

“Would you rather marry someone you knew well?" He asked softly. “Because I can understand that. In that case…I have someone in mind.”

“Robert, you cannot jus-”

“What about Lydia?”

“Lydia?” his mother echoed before Alec could.

“Lydia Branwell,” his father elaborated. “You have been friends for years. I know for a fact that you are close with her, more than you are with most people at Idris.”

That is true. If Alec had to handpick the people he trusted at Idris, Lydia would definitely be one of them.

His mother walked over to them again. “The Branwells are-”

“They are well-connected with the Clave,” his father interrupted. “They might not be as rich as the Lovelaces. But they are one of the oldest families in Angel Square. Also, Lydia has worked in Idris for years. So, the Clave might not be skeptical about the choice."

“But she…” his mother hesitated. “She has already been married. Alec can do better than that.”

“Mother!” Alec gasped in shock. “How can you say such a thing! Lydia is one of my oldest friends!”

“Which is precisely why she is a better choice,” his father pointed out.

“And what are we supposed to say to the Lovelaces, hm?’ his mother fumed in fury.

His father got off the couch and walked over to his wife. He put an hand on her shoulder and Alec noticed that his mother immediately relaxed a little.

“I know you want to save Idris, Maryse. I do too. So does Alec. But he is our son. If he is going to be pushed into marrying someone, the least we can do is make sure that it is not someone random girl. With Lydia...At least we know that he will be happy.”

“No, I won’t!”

“Alec, what is wrong with Lydia?”

“There is nothing wrong with her!"

I have to be honest with who I am and what I want.

“I like someone else.”

His parents looked at each other and communicated something quietly. There was a minute of silence in the room then. His parents didn’t know what to say or do. It was abundantly clear that this was not a curveball they had expected him to throw.

It was his father who spoke then. “Who is it?”

Your worst nightmare, Alec wanted to say, but held back his tongue.

“They…They are not from Angel Square,” he said, deciding to give them one heart attack at a time.

His mother immediately sat down and put her head in her hand. “I…Alec…Please…At least tell me they are from England or something because I am not going to be the one to tell the Clave that you are seeing some random foreigner and therefore cannot marr-”

“It’s a Downworlder.”

And then all hell broke loose.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S A DOWNWORLDER?”

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

“PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS A JOKE THAT JACE PUT YOU UP TO!”

“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US?”

“ALEC, TELL US THIS IS NOT TRUE!”

“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?”

“THE CLAVE WILL NEVER ACCEPT THIS!”

“I WOULD HAVE NEVER EXPECTED THIS FROM YOU!”

He let them say all of it. He didn’t interrupt. He low-key hoped that if they got it out of their system, maybe they wouldn’t have anything left to yell at him for what he was going to say next.

Both of his parents collected themselves, but still looked shocked to the core at his revelation. It was his father who gathered himself first and sat back next to him again.

“Why didn’t you tell us before?” he asked in a tired voice. “You could have told us last week! When we were talking about marriage. You could have said something!”

 “I wasn’t sure back then,” Alec admitted honestly. “I wasn’t sure about my feelings.”

“I am sorry,” his mother interrupted in a ridiculous tone. “Are you telling me that you are talking about some one-week fling?”

“It’s not a fling! Alec all but shouted. “I just needed some time to process my feelings. I wanted to be sure that if I am not making the wrong choice.”

“And you think this is the right choice?” his mother seethed. “Are you out of your goddamn mind? The whole point of this marriage is to get the Clave on our side! Did you honestly believe that Clave will let you run Idris if you get married to a Downworlder?”

“I never said I wanted to marry a Downworlder,” Alec corrected, even though he wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea. “I am saying that I don’t want to marry a random person when I have feelings for someone else. I don’t want to a live a lie.”

“Alec, we want you to be happy,” his mother said now, her voice tired but genuine. “We really do. But does it have to be a Downworlder? Are you serious about this? Are you sure?”

“I am sure,” Alec replied without missing a beat.

“What about Idris then?” his father asked. “You know the Clave will never-”

“I know they won’t,” Alec interrupted him. “And I accept that.”

"Are you willing to sacrifice Idris?" his father gaped at him.

"Yes, I am," Alec admitted, looking away.

"You are willing to sacrifice the very thing you have worked for your entire life," his mother pointed out as if he wasn't already aware of it. "And all for a Downworlder."

How could they not understand? How could they not see the gravity of his feelings? "I know what I want, mother! And I want hi-"

“Alec, you can’t possibly be serious. They will take Idris away from us. The Lightwoods will no longer run Idris!”

“That is a sacrifice I am willing to make!”

His mother walked over to him and looked him in the eye, her rage almost palpable. “You are willing to sacrifice Idris..Sacrifice your family for a Downworlder you have known for weeks? You are either being selfish or naive. How could you give up on Idris, Alec? After everything we have done for this company, how could you give up on it? How could you give up on our legacy?”

“YOUR LEGACY IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY!” Alec screamed.

His outburst shocked his parents to the extent that they physically stepped away from him.

“Everything we are going through now…” Alec said through gritted teeth. “We are making up for your mistakes. YOU messed things up with the Clave. YOU set fire to The Circle. YOU paid the reparations and lost your money. YOU ruined your own legacy. Do you not think it is completely unfair of YOU to expect ME to fix all of this? Why do I have to pay for your choices? Why should I sacrifice my future for your past? WHY?”

“Because you unfortunately were born as Lightwood,” his mother whispered softly. “Alec, we have all made sacrifices. Your father and I have given up everything to protect Idris. We gave up our family wealth. We gave up our children. We have given everything over the last two decades to protect Idris.”

“I don’t want to live a life like that, mom,” Alec told her quietly, tears threatening to escape his eyes.

“If there is anything I have learned as a Shadowhunter,” his mom said softly pushing the hair off his face. “It’s not about what you want. It’s about what needs to be done. It’s who we are.”

His father moved closer to him as well. Alec couldn’t remember the last time he was in such a close embrace with his parents. It was probably when he was 12 and was down with heavy fever. Alec remembered thinking that he was going to die. For some reason, he was feeling the exact same way right now.

“We can’t give up on Idris now, Alec. We have fought too hard,” he implored quietly. “If there is anything I could do to protect it, I would do it. I would do it without hesitation. But I can’t. Only you can.”

Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I should. Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I should. Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I should.

“I am sorry I couldn’t save Idris. I am sorry I couldn’t save the Lightwood legacy. I really am sorry.”

He got up from the couch and walked to the door. He was done.

There was more to say. There was more to hear. There was more to explain. There was more to yell.

But god he was done. He couldn’t right now. There is only so much you can do without wanting to rip out your own heart just so it would stop hurting.

He turned back to look at his parents, both of them looked genuinely helpless. He had never seen them like this before. He has never seen them beaten down. He has never seen look so…not shadowhunter-y.

“I want you to know that I am not happy,” Alec told them, tearing streaming down. “I know I let you down and chose what I want. I know I gave up on Idris. But I loved Idris, too. I have always wanted to run it…just like the both of you. So, please know that giving up Idris is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I hope that makes you understand how much I care for this person. I just…I just hope you understand this was not easy for me either.”

He went back straight to his office, walked past Clary who was calling for him, and slumped on his chair. He let it all out…for two minutes.

There was a knock on the door and Clary waited a minute before coming in. “Alec, I am sorry but-”

“What is it?” Alec asked, trying not to sound as broken as he felt.

“Magnus is here to see you.”

Magnus. Magnus was here. Magnus was here to see him.

The mere thought brought a smile to his face and loosened the tight feeling in his chest. And Alec knew that he had made the right decision.

“Send him in,” Alec told her and quickly took a couple of tissues and wiped his face. He didn’t want Magnus to see him like this.

Magnus walked in looking like a beautiful black swan in his black silk-shirt and slacks. He sat down in front of Alec and everything felt just right.

“Magnus, I wanted to talk to you,” Alec said, his heart rate returning to normal. “I…I thought about it. I am sure. You are asked me if I am sure. I am sure, Magnus. I am ready.”

The other man closed his eyes as if Alec’s words pained him physically.

“Magnus, I want you too,” Alec confessed. “I choose you.”

His eyes were still closed.

“I told my parents. I didn’t tell them the details. But I told them enough. I will tell them later. They are-”

“I know what they did,” Magnus interrupted him. “I know what they did to The Circle.”

No.

Just no.

“I also know about The Clave,” Magnus told him, although he was still looking down. “I know you took the Morning Star project because you wanted to save Idris. I know it had nothing to do with wanting to help the Downworld.”

Please no.

“Magnus,” Alec whispered, not intentionally but his voice couldn’t do anything more.

When Magnus looked up at him, Alec knew the look on his face. He was deeply acquainted with the tight jaw and wide eyes which meant you are doing everything in your power not to cry.

“Tell me you didn’t know,” Magnus said – no, begged. “Tell me you had nothing to do with this. Tell me you haven’t been lying to me this whole time.”

“Magnus, please!”

Magnus shut his eyes again and the tear escaped. A single tear ran down his right cheek – like it happens in movies.

“Please don’t hate me."

It was his turn to beg now.

The other man opened his eyes and wiped away the tear.

“I don’t hate you,” Magnus told him and Alec let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “I promised you, remember? I could never hate you. I care too much about you to do that.”

I care too much about you.

“I want you to know that I am so sorry,” Alec apologized, hoping the other man understood that he meant it more than anything else. “I am so sorry for what my parents did. What they did to your family…Your people. Magnus, I am so sorry.”

“I’ve told you before, Alec,” Magnus replied, looking at his empty fingers. “You are not responsible for the sins of your parents. I will not judge you for their choices or mistakes. It wasn’t your fault.”

It wasn’t your fault.

“So, you…You still like me?” Alec asked. His voice was so faint, he wasn’t sure if Magnus heard him.

“I still like you,” Magnus responded and Alec would have cried if he already wasn’t.

I still like you.

It was okay. It was all going to be ok-

“But I don’t trust you anymore.”

The waves crashed on him so hard, Alec went spinning and spinning.

“Magn-”

“You lied to me, Alec,” Magnus pointed out, his voice hurt and broken. “You lied to me the entire time. You lied to me about your intentions. You lied to me about your parents. You lied to me about The Cir-”

“Magn-”

“That night…At the church, when you tried to kiss me, did you know then?” Magnus asked his voice strained. “Did you know your parents set fire to it?”

Alec didn’t have to say ‘yes’ or even nod. The look in his eyes, the regret and the pain, was more than enough for Magnus to know.

“What a fool I am,” Magnus almost laughed. “What a fool.”

“Magnus, I wanted to tell you,” Alec told him. “I wanted to tell but I was afraid of-”

“Of what?” Magnus snapped, the anger finally coming through.

“Of this!” Alec cried. “I was afraid you wouldn’t want me anymore. I was afraid you would see me as any other Shadowhunter.”

“But you are any other Shadowhunter,” Magnus pointed out, breaking whatever was left of Alec’s heart. “You knew what they had done. But you didn’t do anything about it. You continue to work for them. You pretend as if nothing happened.”

“You want me to turn in my own parents?” Alec questioned, confused and helpless.

“It’s a bit too late for that,” Magnus laughed tiredly. “If the Downworld gets to know that your parents did this…They are not the only ones who will suffer. The Downworld will come for your head and your siblings’.”

The thought of Izzy, Jace and Max in danger turned his blood cold. “You are not going to-”

“Of course, I won’t,” Magnus replied in a hurt tone. “You are not to blame for this. Neither are your siblings. I am not out to get innocent blood.”

“Then what do you-”

“I came to tell you that I will no longer be handling the Morning Star project,” Magnus told him - his voice firm but still hurt. “My team will take over from now on. I don’t want to work with you or Idris ever again. I can forgive your parents, Alec. I am mature enough to do that. But I am not going to be able to forget.”

“Magnus, I know Angel Square has failed you-”

“This is not about Angel Square. This is not about Shadowhunters,” Magnus said in a serious tone. “This is about you. YOU lied to me. YOU broke my trust. You broke my heart. I just…I can’t do this anymore.”

In that moment, Alec realized that he had misread the situation. Magnus wasn’t angry.

Magnus was hurt. He was tired. He was disappointed.

“I can’t lose you, please,” Alec begged.

And what a ridiculous thing it was to say. How could you ever lose something you never had in the first place?

“If you have me, you will lose everything else,” Magnus pointed out, pulling his jacket closer together.

“What are you talkin-”

“I know about the Clave’s ultimatum too. There is nothing left to hide. No more secrets.”

“Then you must know that I still want to be with you,” Alec told him because he had to. Magnus had to know that Alec chose him.

“What about your family? What about Angel Square? Idris? What about everything you have worked hard for?” Magnus questioned and Alec’s head started spinning. “You know you will lose everything you have ever wanted if you follow a Downworlder.”

He will. He almost has.

“I…I will figure something out,” Alec promised him. “I just…I will figure it out.”

“No, you will not,” Magnus told him with a level of certainty as if he had already up his mind. “I have lost everything I cared about. I know how much it hurts to lose your family. I know how long it takes to recover. It will hurt you like nothing else. I will not be the source of your suffering.”

Oh baby, you couldn't if you tried. 

“We don’t have a future together, do we?” Magnus asked with a sad smile on his face. “There will never be an ‘us’ as long as we are on opposite sides. It is time we accept that.”

Magnus got up and adjusted his black jacket and looked at Alec and...just kept looking. He was looking as if he didn’t want to stop.

“I wish we could go back in time. I wish we could go back to being enemies. Hating you was so much easier than loving you, Alec Lightwood.”

“You love me?” Alec asked, breathing out what seemed like the last bit of air in his lungs.

“Goodbye, Alexander,” Magnus said and walked away, like it was the hardest thing he had ever had to do.

The moment the door closed and Alec sat back down; the waves came crashing in again.

He couldn’t swim. There was no shore. Alec realized he was drowning.

He sat there at the table and just stayed. He couldn't move. He couldn't think. He couldn't.

As the sky got darker and the office got emptier, Alec looked over the window and laughed at the cosmic joke the universe had played on him.

The whole time he had been worried about making the right decision. He didn’t want to choose. He was too afraid to choose.

And then had. He had chosen his future. He had chosen Magnus.

The moment he decided to choose his own happiness, the universe had taken the option away. It was almost as if the universe was disappointed in his decision-making skills and decided to take things over herself.

So, now he longer had to choose. It’s not really a choice when it’s just one option, is it? The choice was made for him and Alec realized that maybe this was how he was destined to live his life. Maybe a choice-less life was better – and infinitely less painful – than one with options.

He picked up the phone and waited. It went straight to voicemail.

This is Lydia Branwell. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

“Hey,” Alec said into the phone. “Can we meet for breakfast tomorrow? I need to ask you something.”