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Chapter Text

Magnus and Alec land on the couch giggling in delight, a little out of breath as the record player switches tracks to some slow jazzy beat. Magnus settles his back up against Alec’s chest still breathing a little heavily as a cool Alicante breeze comes through the open balcony doors.

“So, you think I’m ready for Havana again?” Alec says after a few beats his arm settling across Magnus’ shoulders.

Magnus hums, “I think you’re not only ready, but it will be safe enough for me to wear some new shoes without fear of scuff marks.”

Alec chuckles and Magnus feels it against his back. Alec’s been determined to become a better dancer since their wedding, pulling Magnus in at any given chance on quiet nights at home or a during few deeply memorable evenings spent on the dancefloor of Pandemonium. He’s gotten a whole lot better, keeping up with Magnus and thoroughly distracting Magnus when he does manage to occasionally stumble. It’s been a joy to be a part of the process even if Magnus didn’t mind the way Alec danced before, he’d take a few stepped-on toes for the rest of eternity if it meant that he’d always be dancing with Alec.

Tonight they’ve been dancing for what feels like hours across their living room floor, the furniture all rearranged to suit their needs. He’s tired and a little sweaty, but perfectly content in his husbands’ arms. He leans back into him a bit more tilting his head back to rest on Alec’s sturdy shoulder.

He thinks about the mess of their living room and the blazer Alec had been wearing when he’d first hopped up from their dinner outstretching his hand for a dance and it strikes a memory for him. A memory he realizes he’s never told Alec about.

“You know I had a dream a lot like this once,” he says into the quiet, the record still playing smooth slow tracks.

“Aww you dream about me a lot?” Alec says with a teasing tone. Magnus lifts up a hand playfully smacking him on the chest.

“Often, but you’re not as much of a little shit in the dreams,” he says back even though it’s completely not true, Alec’s ability to be a downright nuisance is one of his favorite things about his husband and even in dreams the trait always makes an appearance. “But this dream was different.”

“How so?”

Magnus pauses for a second uncertain if he even should have brought this up. The dream was nice, but the memory attached to it isn’t a pleasant one for either of them. It feels like a lifetime ago now when he’d had his brush with death, when in reality it’s not even been a year.

“It was when I almost died,” he whispers scared to break the happy moment. Alec doesn’t say anything just squeezes Magnus tighter to him like he’s reminding himself and Magnus that he’s here that the most important part of that sentence is the word almost.

“It was right after I passed out, scarily probably somewhere around when I stopped breathing for a while,” he says as a shiver runs through Alec, Magnus reaches up squeezing his fingers before getting to the far more pleasant part of the story. “We were here in the loft having breakfast and you were being a handsome cheeky bastard like always.”

Magnus smiles as he feels Alec release his tension letting out a derivative little snort.

“And then you asked me to dance. Of course I had to tease you a bit first, but then I cleared out the living space just like this,” he says gesturing to the room. “And you swept me off my feet, quite literally, had me speechless and a few other things in the moment. You were like a pro.”

Alec huffs a little laugh, “Well that must have been a real giveaway that it was dream.”

Magnus just smiles turning so he can look Alec in the eye.

“Maybe, even though in my eyes even when you’re bad at something you’re perfect,” he says with a little smirk then sobers up. “But it felt so real, like in that moment my body and my mind were in overdrive but they knew the only way I was going to get through whatever was happening to me was if I felt safe and happy and the only way I could feel that was if I saw the one person who always makes me feel that way.”

Alec shifts reaching up the hand not draped across Magnus’ shoulder to cup his neck.

“Magnus,” he says softly, reverently in that way Alec always says his name that never, ever gets old and never will for the rest of their long lives.

“I was quite literally at death’s door and while everything else about my body was betraying me, it knew one thing for certain if that was it, if that really was the end the last thing I’d want to see, the last memory I’d want to have would be of you,” Magnus finishes with a little adoring smile.

Alec leans in brushing a light kiss against his lips.

“Kind of like how the only voice that kept me above water when the adamas stone held me under was yours,” he says quietly into the space between their lips. Magnus just nods his head, while he likes the cosmic confirmation he hates that they have such evidentiary proof that they’re soulmates from near death experiences; they’ve both almost lost each other far too many times.

Alec presses another light kiss to Magnus’ lips before pulling him back in to his previous position, back to chest their arms all tangled up around each other.

Magnus tilts his neck as Alec nuzzles into it pressing a row of light kisses there that have him letting out a happy little sigh.

“I love you Alexander Lightwood-Bane,” he says just as Alec scrapes his teeth against his neck lightly.

Alec leans up his lips right up against his ear. He bites at the lobe lightly making Magnus giggle before speaking softly into his ear.

“And I love you Magnus Lightwood-Bane,” he says. “So much so, that I’m willing to risk embarrassing myself in Havana again.”

Magnus laughs and thinks that this, this is even better than that practically perfect dream.

Chapter Text

“Clarissa Fray-Garroway you did not just do that,” Maia shouts with her hands on her hips looking down indignantly at the damp cold spot in the center of her chest where a snowball has just collided.

“Maybe I did,” she shrugs in response with a wicked little smile on her lips. “What are you gonna do about it, Roberts?”

Maia looks up and tilts her head with a look that screams revenge. She dips down quickly two handfuls of snow in gloved hands that she shapes into a large ball as she slowly walks towards her girlfriend. Clary knows she should run, take shelter behind one of the medium sized stone walls nearby, but instead she just waits ready to take whatever’s coming and then let it divulge into an all-out war.

Maia smirks when she reaches her standing right in front of her the large snowball sitting comfortably in her right hand.

“This,” she says finally replying to Clary’s previous taunt as she lifts the snowball and smashes it right on top of Clary’s head. The cold immediately soaks through her knitted cap melting wet globs sliding down her face and neck and into her shirt and coat.

“Oh you’re gonna pay for that,” Clary says eyes closed as a glob of ice-cold mush runs across her right eye. She opens her eyes once she’s felt it move to her cheek immediately stepping back and picking up a large handful of snow to toss at Maia aimlessly. Maia takes off running behind one of the stone walls most likely making a quick line of easy to throw snowballs. She’s far too damn good at it.

Clary stays in the open air doing the same, she may not have the snowball technique of her girlfriend, but she makes up for it in pure determination. They take hits back and forth for a while Maia diving back behind the wall easily to avoid most of Clary’s poorly formed snowballs and Clary just diving down into the snow and covering her head like it’s an earthquake drill for her own protection.

Eventually Maia braves her way out from behind the wall arms loaded with at least a dozen well formed snowballs.

“Oh my god,” Clary says lifting herself up from the snow and backing away slowly hands up and empty. “When did you have time to make all those?”

Maia shrugs, “While you were cowering in your little snow bank.” She looks down at the Clary shaped space in the snow that’s dug deep down to the grass as if Clary was building an igloo to hide inside of. That may or may not have been her plan, she can neither confirm nor deny.

Maia takes off in a sprint tossing all dozen snowballs as soon as she gets close enough. Clary dives back down too far away from her little hole, but still hoping to at least keep the snow from falling down the back of her shirt by lifting up her hood.

She feels the snowballs all fall onto her, blissfully none of them making their way under her jacket. Then a moment later she feels the familiar press of Maia settling over her, knees digging into the fluffy snow as she straddles her hips.

She’s hovering a bit just enough for Clary to flip over underneath her and hope that Maia isn’t still holding any snowballs. She keeps her eyes closed just in case as she turns, Maia settling down firmly on top of her once she has.

“Open your eyes Clary,” Maia says the cool press of her damp jacket leaning down and resting on Clary. “I’m unarmed.” She adds with a chuckle.

Clary finally peeks her eyes open and is greeted with the beautiful vision of Maia set comfortably atop her hips with a bright smile, the cloudy grey sky behind her with a small peak of sunshine that Clary believes Maia is completely responsible for bringing out.

“Truce?” Clary says as she lifts herself up on her elbows to be closer to Maia.

Maia nods leaning in to kiss Clary lightly on the nose. Her hands go around her back one slightly chilly hand working its way up under her jacket and shirt. Her other hand is bare, the glove lost somewhere in the battle. Clary’s just about to lean in and kiss Maia for real when she feels her other hand slide up into her shirt as well, but this hand is more than chilly, it’s ice cold and definitely not just her hand.

“Oh my god,” she yelps as she feels Maia move her hand up as high as she can get with the restriction of Clary’s jacket. In her hand is a freezing clump of snow that she drags up and down Clary’s skin as she literally cackles. Clary squirms trying to escape the strong hold of Maia’s thighs bracketing her but can’t do more than yelp at the cold contact.

“That is not how a truce works,” she laughs says still squirming, Maia’s hips lifting just enough so that she can get out from under her.

“I technically never said the word truce,” Maia says still laughing as Clary shoves her hands into the snow shoveling up as much as she can onto Maia.

Maia just keeps laughing tackling her into the snow. It becomes a wrestling match of sorts after that both of them trying to shove as much snow under the others coats as possible laughing and yelping the entire time. Eventually the cold seeps into their bones and they calm down making their way inside.

Clary makes up for starting the snow fight in the first place very thoroughly as they share a warm shower and Maia makes up for trying to bury her girlfriend in snow at one point like they were at the beach just as thoroughly when they land in bed a little while later, only warmth seeping into their bones now.

Chapter Text

Alec watches from the corner of his eye as Magnus stares up at the clear night sky. The light from the stars and moon bouncing off of Magnus’ glasses and deep, rich brown eyes.

The three-hour drive was absolutely worth it just to witness how he looks under the moonlight.

“Thank you for bringing me out here,” Magnus says quietly into the night not looking away from the sky. “I may be an astronomy major, but I don’t get to see the stars very often.”

Alec smiles, eyes still focused completely on Magnus. This still happiness is a far cry from the excited exuberance he’d received a week ago when he’d surprised Magnus with this little trip, Magnus literally jumping up into his arms and tackling him down onto the bed.

Despite his great passion for the stars and the planets, they live in New York City and both have almost their entire lives and in the city the stars are never clear always blinded out by the big buildings, bright lights and smog. So, when Alec’s mom’s boyfriend, Luke, had offered up his small family farmhouse upstate to Alec for the weekend he was quick to jump at the opportunity.

“You’re welcome,” he says sliding in even closer to Magnus in the back of Luke’s old blue truck he’d lent him. “You get at least three full nights this weekend and then maybe we can come out here every now and then.”

Magnus finally looks away from the stars to face his boyfriend a beaming smile on his face.

“Yeah?” he says. “You think Luke would be okay with that?”

Alec nods his head certain as he reaches out and threads his fingers through Magnus’. 

“Totally, don’t tell the others, but I’m totally his favorite of the four Lightwood kids, Clary only gets placed ahead of me because she’s his actual daughter,” Alec smiles before leaning in to press a quick kiss to Magnus’ forehead.

Magnus snorts when he pulls back, “You’re not his favorite, he’s too nice to play favorites. He just fears you most because you did nothing but glare at him the entire first three months he was dating your mother and he wants to make sure you like him.”

Alec shrugs, so maybe it’s that too. He had been a little abrasive when their relationship had first begun, Luke’s a great guy, but he’s an admitted momma’s boy and he didn’t want to see her get hurt the way she had been by their father.

“Maybe,” he says running his thumb in light circles on Magnus’ hand. “But either way it gets me special family farm access to impress my sexy space nerd boyfriend.”

Magnus uses their entwined hands to shove at him playfully, rolling his eyes before turning back up to the sky. A breeze blows across them chilly October air playing across their skin and Magnus shivers. Alec pulls away for a moment opening the small hatch by the windows and pulling out a blanket. He pulls Magnus in close before settling the warm, plaid blanket over both their legs.

Magnus curls up under it, eyes trained on the sky as he moves his legs up and over Alec’s lap. Alec just pulls him in tighter, an arm reaching around to hold Magnus close to his chest. He settles his head on Alec’s collarbone still looking up at the sky.

It’s a gorgeous night, all sorts of constellations that Alec now knows the names of courtesy of his boyfriend visible and bright with a half crescent moon shining down on them.

“Gorgeous isn’t it?” Magnus says and Alec shivers at the feel of his warm breath so close to his skin.

“Yeah, gorgeous,” he replies eyes drifting down to look at Magnus instead of the sky.

Magnus huffs out a small laugh still not looking at Alec.

“You were looking at me when you said that and not the sky weren’t you?” he asks all too knowingly.

Alec tilts his head back up towards the moon.

“Maybe,” he says innocently even though he’s absolutely been caught, knowing Magnus can read the tone perfectly.

“Sap,” Magnus says cuddling in closer to Alec under the blanket and under the stars.

Chapter Text

Aline slowly trudges up the stairs of their building cursing the day the elevator broke and the small bits of setting sun that are filtering in through the windows and hitting her eyes. She’s tired and worn down from a day full of demanding editors and unruly staff writers. She wants sleep, sleep and to cuddle up close to her girlfriend who she prays on everything didn’t end up covering that extra shift at the restaurant and is home already.

She doesn’t know because her phone died well over two hours ago and the chord she keeps at work snapped in half as she plugged it into the wall. That’s the kind of day it’s been, hence the desperate need for her bed and soft, warm girlfriend.

She fumbles at the door with her keys and finally manages to get them in the slot. She pushes open the front door slowly immediately falling back against it once she’s safely inside. She closes her eyes and takes a deep collecting breath.

She opens her eyes ready to call out for Helen and is stunned to see the apartment is covered in low lit candles of varying size. Unscented she notices giggling when she remembers the last time Helen put out candles for a romantic dinner and they’d been a cacophony of varying Bath and Body Works scents that didn’t go together well at all. Lesson clearly learned.

She steps forward catching sight of a post-it note at the base of a large candle on the table beside the door.

Follow the candles ;) it reads.

Suddenly Aline’s not so tired anymore, her long day doesn’t feel so long anymore. She pushes off the door and follows the path of candles through their living room and then down the hall that leads to their bedroom.

She’s already pulling off her jacket and kicking off her shoes as she goes ready for whatever gorgeous sight awaits her. She slides open the bedroom door ready to kiss Helen until the day washes away and freezes.

There on the center of the bed is Helen, fully clothed on one knee a small box in her hand and a soft smile on her face.

“Hey,” she says softly beckoning Aline closer with her free hand. Aline goes easily careful of the candles lining every surface and climbs up on the bed on her knees directly in front of Helen. The curtains are drawn just like in the rest of the house, candles lighting every curve of Helen’s beautiful face. Aline settles in front of her speechless and already feeling like she’s about to cry.

“Aline Penhallow, you are the love of my life,” Helen says once Aline’s settled. “And I was going to do a whole big speech, but you’ve always been better at talking so I figured I’d just line our home like a fire hazard to be romantic.” She pauses giving Aline the chance to laugh, it comes out a little wet, but entirely happy.

“Will you marry me?” she asks hopeful and so full of love that Aline can barely breathe.

“Yes,” she says on a breath tears fully falling now and she collides into Helen. Helen moves quick accommodating the movement and falling comfortably onto her back so Aline can push her down onto the bed.

“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she says again before leaning in and pressing a bruising kiss on Helen’s lips. Helen parts her lips immediately letting Aline drive the kiss forward. They pull back minutes or maybe hours later, Aline’s not sure, breathing heavy and happy with salty joyful tears running down both their cheeks.

Helen reaches up brushing away some tears under Aline’s eye before shifting a bit to bring a hand between them. She holds out a small velvet box that Aline had completely forgotten about as soon as the question spilled from Helen’s lips.

She pops it open revealing a simple silver band with a bright ruby encrusted in its center. It’s absolutely beautiful and fits Aline’s tastes and style perfectly. She leans on one arm putting out her left hand as Helen takes the ring out and tosses the box off to the side of the bed.

For a scant moment Aline hopes there’s no candles over there that’ll ignite the box but quickly forgets her worry as Helen slides the ring onto her finger.

“It’s beautiful,” she says looking at the ring then back up into Helen’s glittering eyes.

“Just like you, fiancée,” Helen smiles back and what else can Aline do but lean in and kiss that smile breathless.

Chapter Text

Clary sits on a towel with her legs outstretched in front of her, feet just barely touching the water as Maia emerges from it flopping up onto the sand her pink, purple and blue shaded tail flapping playfully behind her. The water splashes high, salty spots cascading across Clary’s dress.

“Watch it,” she reprimands jokingly brushing at her dress. “This dress is new.”

Maia smiles up at her bright, “Well you probably shouldn’t have worn a brand-new dress down to the beach then.”

Clary moves closer shifting up so her face is close to Maia’s. She reaches out brushing at the light scales that wrap around her neck.

“Maybe, I just wanted to impress you,” she says softly as her fingers trail Maia’s warm, wet skin. She’d pulled the bright white dress from her closet that morning deciding to use it for some good. Her mother wanted her to wear it down to the shop in town where the cute blond boy worked, she had other ideas however.

Maia leans into the touch sighing quietly, “I’m already plenty impressed.”

She leans back at that centering herself between Clary’s legs and tugging with all her impressive strength till she joins her in the water.

“Maia!” she shouts giggling as she’s pulled in deeper, closer and closer until they’re chest to chest, Maia holding them steady as they float in the water.

Maia kisses her deeply before pulling back with a smile as bright as the sun. Clary can’t say she ever thought she’d find herself in love with a mermaid, hadn’t even thought there was such a thing until six months ago, but here she is.

“I’m all wet,” Clary says frowning down at her soaked white dress submerged under the water.

Maia smirks, pulling Clary impossibly even closer. She feels Maia’s tail wrap around her feet in a light press.  

“Better get used to it,” she says before leaning in again her lips warm and wet pressed to Clary’s.

Chapter Text

“So, where to first?” Luke asks as he settles behind the wheel of his truck. He turns to his wife in the passenger seat in her torn-up jean shorts and oversized sweater that’s actually his looking every bit ready for fall, but accepting that it’s still summer.

She hums tapping her index finger on her chin clearly in deep thought about where their adventure should begin.

For the next two months it’s just them and the open road. With Max starting his first semester in college for the first time in their ten years together they finally feel like they can leave home for an extended period just the two of them.  

They’d practically grown up together, then reunited both fresh off of some nasty divorces with five kids between the two of them. While they’ve had the chance to fall in love they haven’t really had the chance to be alone just the two of them for longer than a weekend.

Most of their kids still live at home, save for Alec who’s recently moved in with his boyfriend, but they feel confident enough that Max can reign in his three other siblings who Luke endlessly loves, but often thinks collectively share one brain cell.

They’ve been planning a rough outline of this trip for almost two years now, Luke ensuring he could get enough time off and Maryse training Maia and Bat readily to take over the bookshop for her. It’s just them, the essentials, a few maps in case of emergency and the open road for 60 some odd days. No kids, no work, no interruptions.

“What if we head down the coast first? Work our way slowly down to Florida for some beaches,” Maryse says after a few minutes of contemplation. “Then we can start heading out west, find some good fields for you to run wild in. Frolic like you like to.”

Luke chuckles, putting the car into gear, “I do not frolic in open fields.”

“You absolutely do, I have photographic evidence of it with you and five children doing the exact same, you’re like a wolf set free,” she says leaning back into her seat and tilting her head to the side to smile at him.

He just shakes his head, euphorically fond and constantly in awe of how gorgeous Maryse is, how lucky he is to call her his wife. She reaches out squeezing his fingers still on the gearshift for a moment then turns her head to look out the open window as he backs from the driveway and hits the road, the city passing them by.

Chapter Text

Their second kiss feels impossibly more monumental than their first.

There’s no audience, no dramatic entrances or determined walks down aisles. Their first kiss was a release, a bold statement. There’s no doubt that Alec wanted to kiss Magnus, he’d been thinking about the warlock from the moment their eyes met his resolve in staying away getting increasingly unsteady at every conversation they had, but that first kiss wasn’t just to satisfy a simmering need, it was to say ‘this is who I am, take it or leave it’ in the loudest way he possibly could.

He chose Magnus in that moment, but he also chose himself.

This kiss however is all about Magnus, all about them as a couple, not as a possibility or a bold statement.

This kiss is private, just the two of them, soft and lingering and stealing every breath Alec has in his body.

It’s Alec’s second kiss ever and he’s fairly certain it’s the greatest second kiss in history, not that he’s biased or anything. It’s him kissing a man, a man he’s impossibly fond of, alone. Not because he’s ashamed or Magnus is some secret he has to keep, but because he can, because he wants to kiss Magnus when they’re alone. It’s a kiss just for them.

This kiss makes no loud statement, but a quiet one. A quiet promise that he’s all in, that they’re both all in. That there’s a future here, that this shocking, electric impossibly warm thing between them is worth everything, could be everything.

It’s Alec kissing that surprised look from Magnus’ face that just screams no one has ever really chosen to stay once things get hard. He doesn’t want Magnus to be surprised anymore, he wants Magnus to be comfortable in knowing that Alec isn’t going anywhere, that he doesn’t want to go anywhere that Magnus doesn’t go.

It’s a lot of feeling for a second kiss, but so far everything between them has been a lot. Which has yet to be a bad thing. Alec wonders if this is how it feels for everyone when they find the person that very well could be the love of their life.

He doesn’t say any of that aloud of course, he may be a novice at dating, but he knows enough to know you don’t drop an I love you or anything quite so bold on a first real date. So, instead he pours it all into the kiss, hoping it’s loud and clear, but not scary for Magnus to hear.

And judging from the way Magnus lingers close when they break apart, the way his hands stay firmly gripped around his waist keeping him tightly locked in his space, the message is well received.

Chapter Text

Maryse remembers with clarity the first time she met Lucian Graymark.

She was nine years old running around the fountain at the center of the city in Alicante her mother standing nearby yelling for her to get off the ledge before she fell in. Maryse didn’t listen though kept walking precariously around the edge and speeding up as soon as her mother told her to slow down.

She wouldn’t notice, she was too busy enthralled in a conversation with some old member of the Lightwood family. She dove around to the side where her mother couldn’t see her and just as she took off she hit a slick spot on the edge her little lace up boots catching and sliding.

She was ready to land in the water, braced to hit the hard-stone bottom of the fountain and then get an absolute thrashing of words from her mother about carelessness. But none of that happened because as soon as she braced herself for a watery hit a hand gripped around her forearm and pulled her back up steadying her on the edge of the fountain.

She opened her eyes and before her stood a boy that looked to be around her age, clearly a Shadowhunter but with no visible runes yet likely having not gone through his first ceremony. His dark brown eyes looked at her in concern.

“Are you okay?” he asked and Maryse nodded immediately straightening up and hopping down off the ledge. The boy let go of her arm as she settled back on her feet in front of him.

“Yeah,” she replied with a smile that he returned. It was probably the biggest, brightest smile she’d ever seen on a boy’s face in her whole life, not stoic or just a small upturn of lips like most Shadowhunter boys. “Just hit a slippery spot. Thank you for catching me.”

“You’re welcome,” he said stepping back a bit and crossing his arms. Definitely a more Shadowhunter boy move, but still with a kindness to it most of them didn’t have. She looked at him closer now trying to determine if she’d seen him before or recognized whose family he belonged to.

She was about to ask him when a young girl not much older than them with a few scant runes along her arms called out a name. The boy turned towards the voice yelling back.

“Just a minute,” he shouted before turning back to Maryse. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said with a smile. He nodded again and began to turn away before backtracking.

“I’m Lucian, by the way,” he said when he returned to stand in front of her. “Lucian Graymark.”

Graymark, that made sense. She’d seen the woman she assumed to be his mother before, a tall, strong cut woman who gave her own mother a run for her money. Trueblood’s and Graymark’s weren’t Shadowhunter names that held a lot of power, they had to prove their worth a little harder in crowded rooms sometimes.

“Maryse Trueblood,” she said in response with a smile. “Nice to meet you.”

He responded in kind before his name was called by the girl she now assumed to be his sister again. He turned smiling in apology and jogging off to his sister’s side.

They’d see each other a lot more after that, at meetings and during training and courses at the Shadowhunter academy; then later on at balls and gala’s where she’d be on Robert’s arm and he’d be trailing along behind Jocelyn and Valentine and they’d steal occasional glances at one another. Much later it’d be the dark days of the circle, that sweet smile that was so rare for Shadowhunter boys fading from his handsome face, but she never forgot that first interaction, the kindness that he showed to her.

“You ready to go?” Luke says breaking her away from her trip down memory lane zipping up his jacket and turning to where she’s gazing out the front window of the shop.

“Yes,” she says as she stands and places a quick kiss on his lips with a smile.

He responds with that same bright beaming smile he’d had when they were children, resting proudly on his face again. Now a Shadowhunter man with a kind smile and a good heart that chooses to love her and always catches her when she falls.

Chapter Text

This is going nowhere. Clary stares at the blank canvas before her willing her hands to just paint something, anything. Instead she just drops the brush on the floor and starts staring at it in dismay.

“Still stuck?” her girlfriend’s voice rings out from behind her, her bare feet padding lightly across the floor until she stops somewhere directly behind Clary. She’s close, Clary can feel that, feel her warmth just a bit away.

“Yes,” she says resignedly still staring down at the stupid paint-less paintbrush.

“The assignment’s the human form, right?” Maia asks stepping a little closer rubbing her hands up and down Clary’s arms comfortingly.

Clary nods, gesturing over to the stack of tasteful nude model photos she’d somewhat embarrassingly printed off at the local library, blushing the entire time in the hopes that a nosy librarian wouldn’t see what she was printing off.

“What if you had a live subject?” Maia says turning Clary around and tipping up her chin so she looks her in the eyes.

Clary takes a deep breath, she’d thought about that, but finding someone on short schedule would be hard now that she’s spent almost two weeks staring at a blank canvas and even then she’s not exactly flushed with cash at the moment so paying someone would be even more difficult. She explains all that letting out a sad sigh when she’s done.

“Well,” Maia says dropping her hands and tugging at the sash of her silky robe. It comes undone just a bit the neckline slipping and revealing that Maia’s wearing nothing, or almost nothing underneath. Clary bites her lip. “How about a model that’s readily available and free of charge?”

Clary looks up from where she’d been not so subtly staring at her girlfriends exposed skin and meets Maia’s eyes.  It’s not that she’s never drawn Maia before, she’s sketched her hundreds of times by now. But she’s never done anything that wasn’t from the shoulders up or fully clothed and she’s definitely never turned anything that was Maia in as an assignment.

“Babe, my whole class would see. And maybe more if it turned out good and ended up in the end of semester show,” Clary explains. She loves Maia, would love to paint her all spread out and gorgeous, but she doesn’t want to ever expose her like that without explicit permission, it’s why she’s never turned in some of her best work because it happens to feature Maia.

Maia simply shrugs, “So, I’m pretty confident about what I’ve got going on. Plus, you always make me look even hotter than I am.”

Clary snorts, “Well, that’s just impossible.” She smiles reaching out to tug at the sash on Maia’s robe again, causing a bit more skin to be exposed. She’s either going to paint her or have her way with her, she’s not totally sure which one yet.

She turns back around picking up the abandoned paint brush and staring at the canvas again.

“I know you’ve never turned in anything of me that you’ve done, which I really appreciate, but I’m okay with it,” Maia says softly her hands finding purchase on Clary’s hips. “I’m totally your muse.”

She says it teasingly, but Clary knows it’s the truth. Some of her best work has been of or inspired by Maia.

“Come on,” Maia says a moment later pulling Clary’s back to her chest. She moves in close nuzzling Clary’s neck for a moment before bringing her lips close to her ear. “Paint me like one of your French girls.”

Usually the sultry tone would have a whole other effect, but the reference makes Clary laugh loud and bright. She calms down a moment later looking Maia dead in the eyes with a fond smile on her lips.

“I can’t believe it took you almost two years before you Kate Winslet-ed me,” she says shaking her head and then turning to move in for a light quick kiss. “You sure you want to do this?”

“For you,” Maia nods. “I’d do anything.”

When Maia first drops her robe Clary damn near abandons the paints and the canvas for much more strenuous and fun activities, but then as soon as Maia sits on the small lounging couch across the room inspiration strikes. The light streaming in from the windows hits her just right, the pose she’s taken is just languid and simultaneously striking enough that each brushstroke will come naturally.

Clary looks up hours later, realizing the sun has dipped in the sky and that it has to be nearing dark. She steps back looking at the painting before her, mostly complete, a few extra shadows and edges and layers will be need to be added once it’s dried, but the photo on her phone of Maia when the light was just right will help her with all that.

She drops everything down onto the ground. Her hands covered in various shades of paint that she knows from experience Maia won’t care about getting all over her and walks over to where Maia is laid out. Her eyes are closed and for a moment she thinks she’s fallen asleep until her head tilts and she looks up smiling at Clary.

“All done?” she says quietly as Clary clambers over her straddling her waist. She runs her fingers down Maia’s sides skin soft under her fingertips.

Clary nods leaning down to kiss Maia lightly then lifting back up.

“Mostly,” she says as the final rays of sunshine split in through the windows cascading across Maia’s deep brown eyes and the faint butterfly tattoo on her collarbone. “It might be my best work. You really are the best muse a girl could ask for.”

Maia smiles in reply pulling Clary down for a more thorough kiss raking her hands up under her shirt. Soon enough they’re doing exactly what Clary’s wicked mind had thought of first when Maia made the offer to pose for her and her last thought before she thinks absolutely nothing at all is that Kate Winslet’s got nothing on Maia Roberts.

Chapter Text

Helen takes a deep breath looking at the archway before them intricate and ancient, covered in a multitude of runes. It’s not the first time she’s walked through an archway like this one, it’s not the first time she’s stepped into a room or a party where some people might glare just because she’s different from them.

It is however, the first time she’ll be walking through an archway of its kind with her hand held in another woman’s. She’s had a Shadowhunter boyfriend here and there, but never a girlfriend, not till now.

Said girlfriend chooses that moment to sidle up next to her. Aline looks stunning. The event some black-tie pat themselves on the back gala for the Clave celebrating the final rebuilds on the city allowing her the excuse to dress up. She’s wearing a deep emerald green jumpsuit that cuts low and is black at the edges, a long silver chain with a love rune at the bottom rests on the center of her chest.

Helen’s dress compliments it perfectly deep black, short in the front with a longer extension in the back and green lines of glittering ivy at the bottom of the longer section. They look like a formidable power couple, which is exactly what they are.

Aline does a full body look at Helen up and down admiring every plane and curve as if she wasn’t in the room while she got dressed and smiles a little wickedly. She reaches out twining her fingers with Helen’s.

“Nervous?” she asks as a few people walk around them, not paying them a single bit of mind.

Helen nods, “Just a bit.”

“Just remember, we have to go in there and one up Magnus and Alec who are no doubt already looking good as hell and pissing off every Clave member they can,” Aline says with a delighted smile.

Helen chuckles, “Difference is we’re a weapons master and a Clave liaison, not the Inquisitor and High Warlock, we can get in a whole lot more trouble.”

Aline shrugs, “That’s half the fun!”

Helen just shakes her head fondly and takes another deep breath.

“It’s gonna be okay,” Aline says softly. She’s not nearly as nervous as Helen is, but that’s a good thing. She’s a steady guiding force for them both.

“Yeah,” Helen says with a genuine smile. “It always is when I’m with you.”

And together they walk in through the archway catching a whole lot of stares, maybe some are judgmental, but most of them are definitely intrigued. They look good, they look good together and they look powerful which no one can take that from them.

Chapter Text

The first time Clary holds her hand Maia thinks she might pass out. Aside from their introductory handshake on Clary’s first day at the bar they’ve never touched. They’ve gotten to know each other, but there’s remained a nice friendly physical distance. A distance mostly put up by Maia who’s increasingly growing crush on the red head is getting out of hand every single day.

So when she grabs her hand after they close down the bar, rain pouring outside and pulling Maia into a cab she almost trips right over on the curb faceplanting and ending up completely soaked. Ironically the hand that almost knocks her out is also the only thing that keeps her upright.

When they pour into the cab, Clary doesn’t let go just gives the address for her apartment to the driver and turns back to Maia with a shy smile and a bite of her lip. Maia’s not sure who moves first, but soon enough the distance is breached, lips meet and their fingers squeeze together even tighter.

The second time Clary holds her hand it’s early the next morning. Somewhere in the night they rolled away from one another and Clary clearly has a problem with that. She reaches out, eyes squinting against the sun to slide her fingers through Maia’s tugging until Maia gets with program and slips over.

She rolls over closer twisting up the sheets before comfortably settling against Clary’s shoulder, fingers still entwined with the intention of holding on as long as they both possibly can. If that happens to be for the rest of their lives, Maia’s pretty sure no matter how recent this whole thing is she’s okay with that.

Chapter Text

The blaring of the fire alarm wakes Maia with a start. It’s barely six am and she quickly scrambles up out of the bed yelling for her wife.

“Clary!” she yells already worrying it’s yet another house fire. The first one wasn’t bad, just an incident with their kitchen that left everyone unscathed, but they can’t be that lucky a second time.

She doesn’t bother to grab a jacket or even throw on a pair of pants before she rushes from the bedroom still frantically calling out her wife’s name. She skids into the hall and down the way where she sees smoke coming from their recently entirely refurbished kitchen.

“Clary!” she yells again bypassing the light smoke and pulling open the front door.

“It’s fine, babe!” Clary yells back loud and not even sounding a bit panicked. Maia is concerned she’s becoming way too used to fires in their home. “It’s just the waffle maker!” she adds on as the fire alarm ceases it’s incessant beeping.

The smoke travels out the still wide-open door that Maia is still standing in front of looking out towards their front yard. Their grumpy neighbor walks past still in his pajamas walking his five Pomeranians. He gives Maia an odd look, which is understandable considering she’s standing in the doorway surrounded by light smoke in her underwear and a cropped t-shirt that reads ‘I’m not gay, but my wife is’ in bright rainbow-colored letters, she simply waves at him with a big, bright fake smile.

She turns around heading back to the source of the smoke leaving the door open for the remnants of it to travel out of.

“Clary?” she says as she enters the kitchen waving her hand in front of her to move the remaining smoke. There’s no sound of sirens in the distance so she assumes the alarm didn’t go off too long to bring up any concern.

Clary turns from where she’s still running water over the waffle maker and a pan that looks to be holding what used to be hash browns burnt in it. She smiles a big, bright smile.

“Morning, babe!” she beams before turning off the water. “We’re gonna have to go out for breakfast.”

Maia huffs crossing her arms over her chest. She really should ask what happened and get some sort of ridiculous tale of over multi-tasking in response, but at the moment she can’t be bothered. The initial flight response to get out of the house is gone now and the sleep she should still be getting clings to her.

“Clearly,” she replies with a fond shake of her head. Clary steps forward untangling Maia’s arms and wrapping them around her in a tight hug. Maia holds her close taking in a deep breath of Clary’s strawberry scented hair to take the smoke scent from her nose. “You’re not allowed in the kitchen anymore though.”

Clary just snorts, not disagreeing.

Chapter Text

Simon jumps for the third time since they sat down gripping Clary’s arm tight.

“Simon,” she whispers just in case, despite the theater being empty save for the two of them. “We haven’t even gotten to the movie. This is just the previews.”

Simon turns to her eyes wide with fear behind his glasses, “The scary previews!” He more shouts it than whispers it and Clary hold up a finger to silence him as another person enters the theater looking around to find their seat.

“Oh my god, Simon, how do you expect to make it through this entire movie if that preview scared you?” she sighs. She’d had this conversation with him before, horror movies are decidedly not Simon’s thing, but for some reason he always insists on watching the ones that get popular. Nearly a year after its release he’d finally worked up the courage to watch the first IT film. He hadn’t slept properly for a week after, texting Clary every single night at god knows what hour to ask her to come across their apartment with the bat she keeps in her closet to check for clowns.

She’d put up with it because he’s her best friend and she loves him, but she’d prayed he’d have no interest in seeing the sequel. Sadly, she was wrong. He even went as far to pre-purchase tickets for them almost a month ahead of time.

“It’s fine!” he’d said with glee after he stuck the tickets up on their fridge. “We’re seeing it at noon it’ll be bright and sunny still when we get out, no clowns can get me in the daylight.”

Clearly the daylight isn’t making a single difference in the dark of the theater.

Simon grips her arm again jumping at the loud opening of a trailer. This one isn’t even for a horror movie.

“You are such a wimp, Lewis,” she huffs removing her arm from his grip and grabbing a large handful of popcorn. She looks up as the other person in the theater takes a seat in the row in front of them a few seats down. She can’t see their face with their back turned about to take their seat, but their silhouette is a vision, curvaceous in all the right places.

Simon makes a sad, whining noise beside her, reaching over to pull out a handful of popcorn for himself.

“And you are a meanie,” he says as she feels a buttery piece of popcorn hit her cheek.

Her mouth drops open in offense as she turns to look at him, “Did you just throw popcorn at me?”

He smiles big and a little delighted, a look that is quickly erased as another horror movie trailer begins and he jumps nearly a mile out of his seat making a small shrieking sound at the sound of monstrous whispering.

Clary barely contains her loud cackles at her friends’ expense instead letting out low breathy, uncontainable laughs, mindful now of the other person in the theater.

Simon calms and reaches his hand into the popcorn again before Clary can pull it away from him. He tosses the whole handful at her with a pout.

And just like that she forgets theater etiquette. She grabs a handful of popcorn tossing it back at him in retaliation. She puts a little too much arm into though, her old softball pitcher high school days giving her a little too much force in any toss she makes. Most of the popcorn hits Simon directly in the face, some sticking behind his glasses that he tries to blink away, but a large glob goes further some of it hitting the nice silhouette that had sat down moments ago.

As soon as the popcorn makes contact with the stranger’s hair Clary freezes wide eyed. Simon turns and looks clearly spotting the person for the first time and then swings back to Clary looking delighted at her error, like it’s a payback he couldn’t have planned.

The stranger reaches up pulling the popcorn from their long dark hair then turns leaning their arm over the back of the seat. The house lights aren’t completely down yet, but the shadows of the low light in no way undersell how pretty the face that turns towards them is.

She’s gorgeous. With dark eyes that match her dark hair, a wicked little smile on her lips that are painted a dark red. She looks down at the popcorn in her hand that she’d removed from her hair and pops it into her mouth.

“You know I can put up with the shrieking, but if you’re gonna throw popcorn the whole movie, the least you could do is actually share,” the stranger says in a lovely, teasing voice.

Clary scrambles up from her seat where she’d hunched in an attempt to keep Simon away from the large bucket of popcorn shaking her head to get herself under control and say something other than blurting out something about how pretty this girl is.

“Sorry,” she says kind of loud, glad there’s no one else in the theater. “I didn’t mean to hit you. I’ve got a softball arm and sometimes I overthrow things that I shouldn’t even be throwing in the first place. And Simon can be such a pain during horror movies.” Simon pouts at that. “And I really am really sorry.”

“It’s fine,” the woman says smile turning a little softer giving Clary a once over in the dark.

Simon looks between the two of them, popcorn still stuck to the edges of his glasses.

“How about you join us?” he says with a broad smile and then a completely unsubtle wink in Clary’s direction before grabbing the bucket from her hands. “I’ll go get a refill.”

“Sounds great,” the woman says standing up from her seat and climbing up over her seat to get to their row. “I’m Isabelle by the way.”

She brushes down the front of her shirt, probably checking for more popcorn as she steps over to sit in the empty seat beside Clary.

“Simon,” he replies with a faux salute as he stands. “Don’t tell me if I miss anything scary.” He says before shuffling off with the now half empty bucket of popcorn and down the stairs.

Clary snorts at her best friend as he goes and Isabelle lets out a small laugh. Whether it’s at Simon or Clary’s snort she’s not sure. She really hopes it was at Simon.

“So what’s your name, red?” Isabelle says as she settles into her new seat. The trailers are starting to wind down, the silence your phones and enjoy your show ads coming up.

Clary turns to look at Isabelle, the bright light of the blinding white turn off your phones screen giving her an even better view of her gorgeous face. “Clary,” she says holding out a hand.

Isabelle shakes it quickly, before turning back and resettling her eyes on the screen as the movie begins.

“Pretty name for a pretty girl,” she murmurs. Clary quickly turns to look at Isabelle’s profile. She’s sporting a small smile and her eyes slowly shift to the side making it clear she wanted Clary to hear her say that.

Throughout the whole movie, Simon barely touches the popcorn. Instead spends most of it curled into Clary’s side, hiding behind her shoulder, her hair or his jacket constantly gripping her arm. On her other side Isabelle blatantly brushes her hand every time she reaches for some popcorn and when one particular scene makes her jump and she reaches out to grip at Clary’s arm tightly, Clary doesn’t mind one bit.

Chapter Text

Magnus chuckles as he reads the roommate information sheet he received in the mail. In a month’s time he’ll begin his first semester at Columbia University. In an attempt to give freshman the chance to get to know their roommate a bit before sharing the same enclosed space for a year information has been sent out and Magnus really can’t get over the irony of who his roommate is.

Still dressed in his narwhal patterned pajama pants and a sleeveless hoodie he leaves unzipped he slips on some shoes and climbs out his lightly cracked window onto the small balcony off his bedroom. He walks over to the railing and pulls on the string that connects to a balcony just like his on the house next door, a little bell connected on each end that rings lightly when he tugs.

He waits for a moment until pale fingers curl under the ajar window pulling it open completely. Alec’s head pops out, hair messy, glasses askew and blissfully no shirt on like he may have just woken up. A sleepy smile pulls at his lips as he squints across the space at Magnus.

“Hey,” he says, his voice a little scratchy. Yup, definitely just woke up.

“Hey, gorgeous,” Magnus responds not having to speak very loudly thanks to the small space between their houses. It’s always been a convenience for them. Best friends since day one of kindergarten they’d always been able to catch each other in the window, first writing big letters on paper to read across the way eventually developing into the balcony and bell system. Once they started dating junior year of high school it became an even more convenient and creative endeavor on their part when they figured out a way to get across to the other’s balcony without injury.

Eventually though an injury had occurred in which Alec broke his wrist making the shaky crawl across a semi-questionable board they’d settled between their balcony’s only barely catching himself before falling. After that, Alec’s stepfather, Luke, had helped them fashion a permanent sturdy wooden bridge of sorts with low side railings and everything.

“This is only because I know you’ll both keep doing this whether it’s safe or not,” he’d said as he built the structure along with their help wielding a hammer in a semi-threatening manner. “Now if you were Clary or Iz I’d say you get pregnant or get an STD I have to pay the bills for the bridge comes down, but you aren’t your sisters and one of those doesn’t apply, so just keep the STD thing in mind.”

Alec had looked like his head was about to explode, Magnus had to use every ounce of self-control he had to not laugh out loud. 

“Did you check the mail yet?” Magnus asks as Alec leans out of the window a little further.

Alec sleepily shakes his head, running a hand through his hair messing it up even worse, “Nope, bell woke me up.”

Magus would apologize for that, it is a Saturday and their last month of sleep in days before college starts, but he can tell from that still plastered on smile of Alec’s he’s not upset about it.

“Go get it,” he says and Alec frowns in confusion. “Just trust me, go.”

Alec shrugs his shoulder in an ‘okay’ motion and heads back inside. Magnus leans on the balcony looking off to the side while he waits running his fingers across the edge of the letter in his hands. He thinks about what the next month will bring, the changes college will set in motion. He and Alec are both attending Columbia, but not having him a window away for the first time in his life had been a real stressor when they first started applying. Freshmen didn’t exactly get priority in dorms, so requesting to be roommates was an impossibility. He knew it was an attempt to encourage getting out, making new friends, but Magnus knew his luck. He wouldn’t get a new friend; he’d get a nightmare roommate like the ones he’d seen on Dateline when he and Alec would curl up and watch the terrifying tales of true crime.

Magnus shifts his head back at the sound of Alec’s window being lifted up entirely. Alec tumbles through it still blissfully shirtless moving a little gracelessly with sleep still clinging to the edges of him. He struggles with ripping open the envelope in his hands as he mirrors Magnus’ position on his own balcony.

“So, who’d you get?” Alec says unfolding the letter once he’s opened it up not looking up. “Someone who sounds artsy? Goth kid? God forbid, someone named Chad?”

Magnus chuckles as he watches Alec start scanning over the paper in his hands.

“Not exactly,” he hums. He knows the exact moment Alec’s gotten past the perfunctory introduction parts of the letter and to the actual roommate information. His pretty hazel eyes widen behind his thick framed glasses looking up at Magnus.

“No way?” Alec says stunned.

Magnus smiles, “It seems their random sorting system is truly just that and doesn’t account for addresses or high schools.”

Alec laughs shoving the letter in the pocket of his sweatpants, “What are the odds of that, huh?”

He steps back unlatching the small gate Luke had installed onto the balconies to ensure they didn’t ‘parkour over the wall’ to get to the bridge he’d painstakingly tested for safety. He quickly steps across the bridge, the space barely even a full two yards.

“Probably some astronomical, mathematical number I can’t be bothered to figure out, but bless the math just this once,” Magnus says as Alec gets closer.

Magnus steps back ready to open his small gate, but doesn’t even get to reach out before Alec’s vaulting himself over the metal.

Magnus rolls his eyes as Alec lands directly in front of him.

“Luke is going to catch you doing that one day and light this bridge on fire,” Magnus says as Alec pulls him close, chest to chest.

“I don’t think we have to worry about that anymore,” he smiles letting go of Magnus with one hand to pull the letter from his pocket.

He unfolds the crumpled piece of paper and begins to read it aloud with a goofy smile.

“Congratulations on your acceptance to Columbia University, in an effort to ready students for their first full fall semester we’d like to introduce you to your freshman dorm roommate, Magnus Bane,” Alec says his name a little louder, his smile getting a little wider. He skips over the section with Magnus’ contact information. “We look forward to seeing you in the fall!”

He shoves the paper back into his pocket and pulls Magnus back in with both hands.

“Well I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them in the fall now,” he says tipping his forehead to rest against Magnus.

“You weren’t before?” Magnus asks leaning comfortably into Alec’s space. Letting his eyes shut, content.

“Oh, I was excited about the classes and stuff,” Alec says as he moves his head, nuzzling at Magnus’ temple. “But not about the being more than one and half yards away from you every night part.”

Magnus opens his eyes, moving back a bit to look Alec in the eyes.

“We can put the beds together,” he says reaching up and fixing Alec’s glasses where they’ve slipped down his nose. He bops him on the nose with his finger just to see that cute scrunched up face Alec makes every time he does. “Make the distance about one and half inches.”

Alec’s lips quirk up before he leans in, placing a quick kiss on Magnus’ lips.

“I like the sound of that, roomie.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, babe?” Maia asks as she flips through the hangers of the closet before her.

They’re at Clary’s childhood home, Luke making the big move to Maryse’s much larger home finally meaning the day has come for Clary to clear out all of her old things. They’ve packed away almost everything, a slew of art supplies and ready to donate toys, a few embarrassing Britney Spears posters have been rolled up and much to Maia’s amusement put in the boxes they’re taking home with them.

Clothes are all that’s left. Two closets and one chest of drawers full of clothes that need to be bagged up and taken down to the local Goodwill before it closes. That likely won’t be happening however, because Maia well and truly needs to get out as many laughs as she possibly can at the sweaters she’s currently filing through.

“Yeah?” Clary says standing up from where she’d been sprawled across the floor folding up and bagging clothes.

Maia turns before Clary gets to her side one sweater in each hand. In her right is an atrociously green sweater with a cat wearing a top hat and in her left is a bright pink sweater covered in yarn balls and cats rolling around with them.

“Just how into kittens were you when you were little?” she laughs as she holds them up. Clary’s eyes go wide rushing towards her and grabbing them from Maia’s hands and tossing them both into a bag at her feet.

“Hush,” she says moving towards the closet and pulling out more sweaters to toss in the bag, every single one adorned with some sort of cat.

Maia steps in front of her blockading the closet and refusing to let Clary take any more of the delightful atrocities away before she can admire and laugh at each one a perfectly appropriate amount of time.  

“Oh no you don’t,” she says giggling as Clary tries in vein to overpower her. Maia grabs her hands and pulls them down to her side. “I need to properly admire every single one of these.”

“Ugh,” Clary says groaning loudly. “It was a phase, a long, embarrassing phase.”

“How have I never seen you wearing one of these in all the childhood pictures Luke’s shown me since we first met?” Maia asks as she turns and flips through even more. She pulls out a patterned one with varying patches of cats on it with glee. “Oh my god I found a favorite!”

“Why did Luke keep all these?” she whines plopping down to sit on the edge of her childhood bed that’s yet to be removed. “Why does he want me to suffer?”

Maia just laughs again pulling out a jean jacket that’s covered in cat patches, “Did you make this one?”

Clary drops her head in her hands.

“Luke did. I kept asking for more and he’d bought basically every single one he could find in my size from thrift shops, so he had to start getting creative. He made that one too,” she explains gesturing to the patterned one Maia had just discarded. “As for the photos I made a deal with him that he could show any embarrassing photos except for the ones during this phase.”

Disappointing. Now that the proverbial cat’s out of the bag she’ll have to beg Luke for a look at all those adorable classics.

“And how long was this phase?” she asks as she drops down next to Clary on the bed jean jacket still in her hands.

“Roughly between the ages of three and twelve,” Clary groans hands still covering her face.

Maia scrunches up her nose with a smile at her adorable girlfriend. She really is the cutest.

“Aww, that’s so precious babe,” Maia coos pulling Clary in by the shoulder. Clary rests her head on Maia’s shoulder. They sit quietly for a moment as Maia admires the jacket in her lap. “I think you should keep this one, it might not button closed anymore, but you could wear it as a crop jacket.”

Clary lifts her head giving Maia a steely eyed look.

“I’m serious,” Maia laughs. “It was an important period of your life; you should keep one at least.”

Clary’s look softens and she smiles before getting up and dropping the rest of the many sweaters into the bags slowly. Maia pauses on some asking for stories about the inspiration for Luke’s designs. At the end of the day they’ve packed it all up and in the box she settles in the backseat of her Honda a jean sleeve hangs off the side. She smiles bright already planning to get Clary at least one new cat sweater for her birthday that will fit her properly now.

Chapter Text

“I don’t intend to leave your side as long as you will have me by it,” Meliorn says as he reaches up to brush the blonde hair that’s fallen into Jace’s eyes behind his ear.

It’s a promise and Jace knows he means it. Seelies can’t lie and long before this moment he has a weird sense that Meliorn’s never even tried to twist up his words when talking to him.

It’s been a long, strange winding road that’s lead them to this moment. It had taken a long time for Jace to make peace with the fact that Clary was gone, that no matter how much he loved her she’d never be his again. Moving on had seemed impossible and then Meliorn had offered his hand in friendship and then friendship had led to something more.

Something impossibly bright and loving that makes Jace feel alive in ways he hasn’t in a long time.

Jace brings up both his hands to settle on Meliorn’s neck stepping in close, “And I don’t intend to ever not have you by my side.”

He says it and even though he can lie, he doesn’t. He wants to hold on to this, to hold onto them. He couldn’t bear losing this just like he lost so much before. It’s a promise of his own, one he intends to keep.

Chapter Text

Magnus makes his move looking up at Alec with a sly smirk. He has him trapped; there’s no way Alec will win this game with what he has left. Alec just looks back up at him with a roll of his eyes before standing and rounding the small square table they’re seated at on the balcony.

“What are you doing, Alexander?” Magnus says as he leans back in his chair. Alec just shrugs his shoulder before scooting Magnus’ chair back giving himself a bit of space to stand in front of him.

The chair scrapes lightly against the ground as Alec brackets his body with his legs then settles his knees in the remaining space of the chair placing himself on Magnus’ lap. Magnus reaches out wrapping one arm around his fiancés waist and tilting his head back as Alec drapes his arms across his shoulders.

He moves one hand to the base of Magnus’ neck the cool metal of his engagement ring moving slowly against his skin.

“You’re never going to learn how to play chess if you keep kissing me before we finish a game,” Magnus says with a teasing lilt the fingers of the hand on Alec’s waist slipping underneath the hem of his shirt.

He’s been trying to teach his love how to play for months after Ragnor had been over one evening and told some grand tales of his defeats over Magnus. And while they’ve made some strides in their scant time with their schedules at the firehouse, it always ends the same way with Alec in his lap pressing sweet kisses to his lips and neck. Magnus is fairly certain they’ve yet to actually finish a whole game.

“I haven’t kissed you yet,” Alec says leaning down and kissing him lightly on the forehead. “Plus, I’ve learned enough to know I’m about to lose, so might as well call it now.”

He smiles that bright, Alexander smile that could end wars. Magnus watches as he tilts his neck the glint of his earrings catching in the sunlight. Magnus reaches up his free hand running his fingers along the shell of Alec’s ear lightly running around the silver stud and then back up repeatedly. Alec lets out a little happy sigh at the action.

“I do believe you’re just trying to swindle me into letting you win one day, Alexander Lightwood,” Magnus whispers into the space between them.

“Maybe,” Alec singsongs as his eyes fall shut and he dips his head forward to rest on Magnus’.

“Menace,” Magnus says before breaching the distance between them, connecting their lips and forgetting all about the game of chess.

Chapter Text

Jace settles the bucket perfectly and precariously over the door frame and follows the string back to his hiding space with glee.

The bucket sloshes a little when he tugs lightly to ensure it’s all connected, a bit of pink gooey slime sloshing over the edge and down the back of the front door. He shrugs knowing he’ll have to clean it up later anyways.

This prank war with his roommate Simon has been going on for months. And after his girlfriend, Maia, had stressed it was getting out of hand when Simon released a live pig into the shower while Jace was in there he’d backed off.

Then Simon had replaced his shampoo with temporary pink hair dye. His beautiful blonde locks are still a shocking shade of pink despite Simon’s cackling reassurance it would be gone within a week. He’s rocking the look confidently, of course, but Jace couldn’t let the prank stand unanswered any longer.

Which is exactly why now a large sloshing bucket of clothes staining, hard to wash pink goo is about to meet Simon’s head. And Jace knows for a fact Simon left this morning in khakis and a white shirt, he’ll be devastated. It’ll be great.

A key turns in the door and Jace hunches down behind the large fake plant near the hall, as soon as the door open just enough he tugs hard. The splashing sound of the goo spattering everywhere.

“Prank Sinatra!” Jace yells appearing from behind the plant, but then he freezes dead in his tracks when he sees who’s in the doorway. Maia stands there covered in the pink goo looking ready to commit exactly one murder. His.

“I’ll make sure that’s the name they put on your gravestone,” she growls. Jace knows that growl, it’s not the sexy kind she does when things get heated between them. No. That’s the one she lets out when he’s done something that ensures he won’t be hearing the sexy one for at least two weeks. Actually, judging from the glint of pure rage in her eyes, it will more likely be a month.

“Oh hell,” he says moving closer to her and then thinking better of it when she takes her own angry step forward. “Sweetheart, I am so sorry. I thought you were Simon; I never would have pulled it if I knew you were coming over.”

He drops the pet name hoping it will soften her a bit. It doesn’t. She squints an eye angrily, “I thought you had called a cease fire on the prank war.”

Damn, she sounds mad. Angry in a way he has never heard her sound towards him, not even in their early days of flirtation when he drove her absolutely crazy.

“I did, but then, ya know,” he points to his shocking hair. “But it doesn’t matter, because you were right I should have just let it lie and I’m sorry. So, sorry. The sorriest a man can be. Very sorry. Sorry.”

Admitting fault, many apologies, a little pleading. He knows he needs to pull out all the stops here.

She reaches up a hand and for a moment Jace tenses, she then wipes her hand across her face removing some of the goo.

“I’m going to go take a shower and put my clothes in your hamper so all your precious white t-shirts that fit oh, so perfectly are ruined too,” she says stepping away carefully and giving him another death look.

She purposely slaps him on the chest with a gooey pink arm as she passes.

“Here’s dinner by the way, came to surprise you since you got off work early,” she says angrily tossing a paper bag he hadn’t noticed before onto the counter. Another thing he’ll now have to clean up. “You better make me something damn good to replace it and then I might consider forgiving you.”

She moves towards the bedroom a trail of pink goo footprints in her wake.

“I will, promise,” he calls after her.

“You’re also not getting any for like a month,” she says before slamming his bedroom door shut. Yup, that tracks.

He cleans the floor, counter and door while she showers for a long time. He does feel truly bad, he wanted Simon to have to take a nearly two-hour shower, not his girlfriend. He only likes for her to have to take those with him.

He tosses out the remnants of the goo and the bucket and gets to work on a damn fine dinner. Just as he starts his phone dings with a text from Simon informing him his normal subway route was shut down and he’ll be home late.

“Thanks for the late notice,” Jace grumbles at his phone.

He makes a damn fine dinner, cooks all her favorite things, pulls out her chair and dotes on her like the world’s greatest waiter.

When Simon comes home Maia drags them both by the ears to the kitchen table and makes them sign a typed-up agreement she worked on while Jace did the dishes and laundry, which was hopeless, that will cease the prank war for good.

“I’m a law student and I know so many lawyers I will sue you both if you break this contract,” she says pointedly as she slams the document in front of them. They sign it without hesitation.

Later that night, after a whole lot more doting, that still lands him sleeping on the couch, he shops online for exact replacements of her clothes. He finds them all except the jacket and considering how much she loves her jackets he buys her two that look nearly the exact same. He throws in a choker with a crescent shaped pendant on it and one of those bath bombs she loves so much as bonus forgiveness incentive.

The next morning he wakes her with breakfast in bed. She leans over the tray and kisses him when they’re finished the sweet bitter taste of coffee and maple syrup on her tongue. When she pulls back he knows he’s at least halfway forgiven.

By that night she stays again and he gets to sleep in his own bed.

“You’re forgiven,” she says curling up onto his chest. He pulls her in close missing the comfort of her beside him while he’d been exiled to the couch. “But I wasn’t joking about suing you both.”

He chuckles knowing good and well she was not. He’s forgiven though, which matters most; he still doesn’t get any for three weeks however, which he respects.

Chapter Text

Raphael lets out another huff as Meliorn once again starts to place the tamale filling in a dry husk.

“You have to soak the corn husks, mi corazón,” he says moving to his boyfriends’ side dumping the contents of the tamale back into the bowl on the counter.

Meliorn simply scratches his head a few stray hairs escaping the bun atop it.

“Oops,” he says with an adorable smile. Raphael rolls his eyes with a small quirking smile and soaks the tamale.

“I’m starting to see why I do this with Isabelle all the time still and not you,” he says in a grumbling tone with a fond edge.

Meliorn just gives him a sly smile.

“She is a woman of many talents,” he replies. It should be odd when they talk about Isabelle who they both dated at different points and who Raphael is still best friends with, but it works it’s never been strange for some strange reason.

She introduced them to one another even, knowing that despite their exterior appearance they’d be a perfect fit. She was right. Meliorn is a calm, impossibly sassy force that takes Raphael for all that he is, no complaints and all understanding. It’s the kind of relationship he never thought he’d have with anyone.

“And cooking should not be something she has one up on you, you know she’s terrible at it,” Raphael huffs as he works to refill the now soaked corn husk.

Meliorn just chuckles stepping behind Raphael and wrapping his arms around his waist to let him take over on the tamales.

Chapter Text

Aline holds tight to the phone in her hand pacing the floor of her, no still their, living room. She turns on the screen for probably the hundredth time in the last five minutes the time still standing frozen at the same minute it’d been a millisecond ago.

She’s nervous. Worried that something happened or that Helen’s already gotten so busy that their nightly chats are falling to the wayside after just a month of separation.

A month, god she can’t believe it’s already been a month. They’d been planning next steps, moving into a bigger place, maybe finally getting a cat, but then the opportunity of a lifetime came for Helen’s career all the way on the other side of the country.

Aline had jumped to offer going with her immediately, but Helen stressed she couldn’t ask her to do that. She had her own nice cushy position in New York that would set her up for a stable career the rest of her foreseeable working days. Mix that with her mother still recovering after kicking breast cancers ass earlier in the year and Aline couldn’t just go no matter how badly she loathed the idea of not falling asleep in Helen’s arms every night.

So they’d put the future on hold. The plans, the bigger place, the cat and the ring Helen doesn’t yet know is sitting in the back of Aline’s underwear drawer all put on hold. It’s just a year, they can handle a year and then move forward together.

That however doesn’t mean that the distance doesn’t absolutely suck. Aline still hasn’t completely adjusted to sleeping alone and she still catches herself calling out to Helen when she walks through the front door at least three nights a week.

The nightly phone or skype calls help, but it’s still tough. Long distance is a bitch and a half after constant contact for five years.

She looks down at her phone again, twenty minutes past when Helen usually calls her and Aline keeps pacing. She divulges into worst case scenarios, not worried that Helen’s met someone else or anything insane like that, Aline’s amazing and Helen couldn’t do better and she has enough self-confidence to know that, but to actual worst-case scenarios.

Within five minutes she’s worked herself into the belief Helen’s been murdered by a rival scientific lab and is sitting in a ditch on the side of some abandoned Los Angeles highway. She’s so deep in this nightmare-ish thought she nearly jumps a foot in the air when her phone begins to ring and vibrate in her hand.

She looks down and sees a photo of a sleepy Helen pop up on the screen and her heart settles.

She swipes her thumb across it putting the call on speaker immediately.

“Hey, baby.”

“Hey, sorry I’m running late to call, got stuck in a meeting that just would not end. I’m not dead in a ditch I promise,” Helen says with a chuckle knowing Aline all too well.

Aline laughs as Helen keeps talking about her insane day. Yeah their future is on hold right now, but it’s still intact. Their future will have a nice house and a fluffy cat and she’s fairly certain that when she gets the time off in January to visit her Aline will dig that ring out of the back of her drawer and their future will hold a wedding as well.

Chapter Text

Maia has a problem. A big Jace Lightwood sized problem. They’ve been friends for ages, always in classes together, always sassing each other until they ran out of things to be sassy about. The little blonde boy she’d grown oddly fond of in middle school is now an annoying blonde man who she spends most of her time outside of work with.

They’ve stuck by each other through it all, bad relationships and good, hiring’s and firings, the big moments and the little. They’ve always had each other’s backs and they’ve always been best friends. Until recently an air of something new has come into the mix, something that’s far less platonic than what she’s always put their relationship in the realm of.

She drags a finger along the edge of her drink as she watches the pretty brunette behind the bar blatantly flirt with Jace and she’s hit with a twinge of jealousy. Jealousy. That’s never been a part of them. She’s seen plenty of girls and guys flirt with Jace, just like he’s seen plenty do the same with her. Hell, they’ve been each other’s wingman for as long as she can remember. Jealousy has never been a part of the game.

Jace smiles at the girl handing her the cash to settle their tab before turning back to Maia and extending a hand.

“Ready to get out of here?” he asks with one of those big smiles he’s always directing at her. They’re far less cocky than the ones he directs at everyone else and with this newfound stirring of feelings inside of her she starts to try and feel like there’s something important about that fact.

She nods taking his hand to stand and pull them through the crowded bar out onto the street. They walk quietly all the way back to their building, because on top of the best friend’s thing they’re also neighbors, not saying a word. It’s comfortable, much in the way silence always has been between the two of them, but it’s also deafening because it gives Maia way too much time to think.

Time to think about the way he doesn’t let go of her hand until they’re blocks away from the bar or how he offers his jacket when a shiver runs through her. She’s fairly certain it’s all in her mind, it’s her own messy feelings misreading every action he takes. Every action he’s been taking with her since high school. It’s just how they are and she really needs to get this new burgeoning crush that she’s starting to feel like is a whole lot more than a crush under control.

“Wanna keep the binge-watch going?” Jace says coming to a stop. Maia hadn’t even realized they were in front of their building. Maia shakes her thoughts, truthfully no she doesn’t because alone time with Jace has had this weird vibe to it lately all because of whatever the hells going on with her, but she also doesn’t want him to worry. If she turns him down when it’s barely even nine he’ll think somethings wrong, think he did something wrong which isn’t the case at all, it’s her muddled feelings that are getting in the way.

“Sure,” she says putting on a bright smile that she hopes is convincing. They settle in at his apartment comfortable on the couch sharing a blanket covered in kittens that she constantly makes fun of Jace for owning.

They’re two more episodes deep into their latest binge watch or at least she thinks they are, she’s frankly uncertain since she’s only been half paying attention sneaking glances Jace’s way every now and then and weirdly catching him sneaking his own looks right back. She thinks it’s all in her head, it’s probably just him worrying about her being weird, but she also can’t help but wonder if it’s more.

Somewhere around the halfway mark of the latest episode while looking at Jace from the corner of her eye watching the lights from the television bounce of his damn pretty heterochrome eyes she starts to think she’ll never be able to go back to what she felt before. Onscreen two characters who’ve been lifelong friends fall in love. It feels important, feels like a message. So, before she even notices the words coming out of her mouth she’s diving in head first.

“You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick?” she starts not daring to look at Jace just yet. “Then there’s other people, when you meet them you think, ‘Not bad. They’re okay.’ And then you get to know them and,” she pauses breathing in deep.

“And their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful,” she finishes finally brave enough to look Jace in the eyes who’s listening closely, hanging on every word. “I think that’s what happened to me with you.” She finishes and silence carries between them, strong and heavy. It feels like hours before Jace responds, but when he does it’s not with words.

One second he’s sitting there mouth agape like a fish out of water and the next he’s leaning in hesitating for just a second when their lips are a breath away from each other and when Maia doesn’t make any move to stop him he leans in completely his lips pressed to her.

It’s a soft simple kiss with a simmering fire underneath that she knows could ignite at any second, could cause a wildfire. She wants that, but she also needs to know this isn’t just some fast move, mean nothing kiss that she’s seen Jace give dozens of other pretty girls and boys before.

He pulls back after a moment seemingly stopping the burn between them but keeping their faces close. She opens her mouth to say something, to explain, but as he always does with that big mouth of his he beats her to it.

“Fuck, Maia, I’ve been in love with you since high school,” he says lips quirking up on a small smile shaking his head a little bewildered.

Maia’s eyes widen, stunned. So those looks she’s noticed and caught lately, that smile she’s been interpreting a little differently these days wasn’t all just in her head.

But high school? Even at its latest that would mean Jace has been feeling something she just recently started to feel for at least six years. She feels like she is way behind.

“I won’t lie,” he says continuing on. “Being your best friend has been worth every second even if I never got to tell you how I felt, but damn if this doesn’t feel good.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she says and it’s not really what she wanted to say first. I mean she’s been harboring this crush or whatever it is for months and hasn’t said a word so she understands the fear of saying it out loud, of messing up what they already have.

Jace just shrugs, shy, Jace Lightwood shy, she never thought she’d see the day.

“I guess I just never thought you’d see me that way. I mean you were dating Clary and then Bat and that whole mess with Jordan happened right when I finally thought I’d worked up the courage to say something and I didn’t want to pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable when you needed me to just be there,” he says. “And I mean it sucked, but your friendship has always meant the world to me, so I found a way to be okay with it.”

Maia reaches out a hand holding Jace’s cheek, rubbing her thumb across the bone lightly. She smiles when he leans into it.

“I won’t say it’s been that long for me,” she says honest. “But lately it’s like I finally noticed you in a way I hadn’t before and how you always fit in a way no one else has and it just changed, shifted. I’m sorry it took so long for me to catch up.”

Jace immediately starts shaking his head. “You have nothing to apologize for, ever,” he says strongly, a determined and endearing edge in his voice. “And you don’t have to say it back. Not right now, it’s okay, I get that it’s still hard for you.”

The big L word is what he’s referring to. She hasn’t said it since Jordan, hasn’t felt it until maybe right now, but the word even in passing has become a tough one to say aloud. Her fondness for Jace just grows tenfold in the moment with his understanding.

“I want to,” she says quietly, meaning it, letting her brain call this what it is for the first time instead of the crush she’s been trying to play it off as. “Even if I can’t say it just yet, know that I want to.”

He nods, his smile growing as he pulls her in close for a tight hug. They hold onto each other for a long while, the show still playing on the television long forgotten.

“So what the hell do we do now?” Jace says with a chuckle still holding her close. “By my account we go on at least two dates a week as is.”

Maia laughs thinking about their dinners and drinks and things that normal friends always do, but have been carrying emotion on one side and eventually another for ages now that makes them seem a whole lot more like dates.

“We keep doing just that,” she says pulling back her hands resting on his biceps. “Except now we can just add bonus hand holding and kissing and stuff to the mix.”

Jace smiles again. This time one of those cocky, infuriating ones of his.

“Stuff, huh?” he says waggling his eyebrows. Maia laughs curling her hand into a fist and punching him in the shoulder lightly.

He falls back feigning injury rubbing at his shoulder with a pout.

“You’re the worst person I know,” she chuckles rolling her eyes at him. He lifts back up, cocky little smile still on his lips. She wants to kiss it off of him and a second later she realizes now she can.

He’s just about to say something, no doubt some retort that will divulge into one of their epic back and forth rounds of friendly insults and jibes, but she has no time for the sass right now.

She leans in shutting him right up. She giddily laughs against his lips happy to find such an enjoyable way to shut him up.

Chapter Text

It hits her like a ton of bricks a few days after she tells him she loves him for the first time. They’re in some back alley fresh off a fight with some rogue wolves who came into their territory to do harm to others.

She watches on as the head of the New York Institute herself loads the wolves up into a van secured and unconscious promising Maia that they’ll be taken care of properly. It’s the first time since she’s been a wolf she actually believes that statement coming from a Shadowhunter. Things are changing, it’s still hard to believe sometimes.

She silently stands as the last rogue wolf is hauled into the van and Isabelle gives her a nod after she turns down her offer of a ride back home. They’re only a few blocks from their apartment above Taki’s after all.

Quietly Bat sidles up next to her, the remnants of what she knows was his favorite leather jacket in his hands. He frowns down at it, an adorable pout on his lips, the clothes Isabelle had brought for him to wear sliding off of him a bit. They’re all way too long on him which makes Maia chuckle and assume they’re some of Alec’s old left behind things.

And that’s when it hits her. She’s in a dirty alleyway at two in the morning, she’s tired and banged up and doesn’t even have the flannel she threw on buttoned closed and impossibly she feels safe. She feels at home.

Not because of the lack of nudity or the comfort of knowing those wolves won’t get to hurt anyone else ever again. No it’s none of that at all.

It’s all because of him. All because of this adorable, pouting man beside her. She’s not sure she’s ever really had a home. Maybe briefly when she was young before her brother died, but that had been the closest she’d ever come. She tried to build one with Jordan and that had blown up in her face entirely, the pack came so, so close but tragedy took it all away.

The pack they’ve built now is family, the restaurant a sanctuary, but none of it would feel quite as solid and comfortable as it does if she didn’t have Bat beside her. She could have done it all on her own, she’s confident of that, she’s strong and capable and can do whatever she wants however she wants, but she didn’t have to do it alone like so many other things in her life.

Homes not a place, not always, she’s realizing, home can be a person or at least it is for her now.

“What?” Bat says looking up at her and she shakes her head realizing she must have been too quiet for too long.

“Nothing,” she says fondly reaching out to take the shredded remains of his jacket from him and toss it into the dumpster beside her. She turns back around holding out a hand that he immediately takes, threading their fingers together tightly.

“Ready to go home?” he asks as she pulls him closer.

Maia smiles tilting up to kiss him soft and slow for a moment.

She pulls back still smiling, tugging on his hand to start down the alleyway, “Yeah, home.”

Chapter Text

Clary leaves them all letters. Most of them are quick and simple, sad, beautiful goodbyes. Maia watches Luke read his in a booth in the closed down Jade Wolf. It’s by far the longest, with the words losing their neatness and getting tinier and tinier in print near the end of the page like she just couldn’t say enough, like there’d never be enough space to say everything she needed to say to him.

She’s surprised when after long hours of just staring at the paper in front of him he hands her an envelope with her name on it.

She opens it as Luke walks away heading back to the booth he’s been occupying. It’s short barely a few paragraphs, little things about how she wishes they’d had more time to get to know each other, how she hopes that even if she can’t remember the details of it she’ll always remember the joy of an accidental double date.

It’s the last paragraph that hits her with an unexpected shock, an unexpected wave.

Most of all I’m sad that you and I were so busy figuring out if we should be with Simon or Jace that I never got the chance to figure out if that first thought I’d ever had about you could have been more. If it wasn’t jealousy of Simon liking your attention, but jealousy of me not being on the receiving end. Maybe one day you’ll find me and we can figure it out.

Maia reads it over at least a dozen times trying to decide if she’s imagined it all. She’s not quite sure what the future holds just yet, but holy hell does that leave a lot to unpack. She didn’t always like Clary, but she always thought Clary was gorgeous and she definitely came to like her more and more as time passed.

That double date that Clary fondly remembers a few paragraphs before flipping Maia’s world upside down is stark in her mind. She remembers how Clary bit her lip when she looked at her, how in a weird way it almost felt like they were the ones on the date. She had let all of that in the moment feeling wash away, brushed it aside as nothing more than a light attraction to a pretty girl, but now with Clary’s written words in her mind it’s heavy, it’s layered.

It’s over a year before she lets herself think about the letter again, even though she always has it folded up inside her wallet, too busy with building the pack back up and getting the restaurant off the ground to think about anything else. She comes back after a rocky start to reuniting with her parents and for some reason, a magnetic pull tells her to go visit Clary.

It’s a curiosity, nothing else. She doesn’t expect anything to come of it, doesn’t have any grand romantic notions about Clary remembering her. Even if she did Maia has no clue what that would mean for them, Clary had been with Jace when it had all happened. She stands at the edge of an art show watching as the red head, who’s now sporting some seriously cute bangs, talks to a few other people gesturing to a painting that to Maia’s eye looks an awful lot like the photo’s she’s seen of Magnus and Alec’s wedding.

Clary turns eventually and spots her, she looks her up and down an interested look if Maia’s ever seen one and then she walks up to her.

“I know you,” she whispers once she’s within reach. She looks like she’s about to reach out to lightly touch Maia’s neck, near where her scar rests, but thinks better of it at the last second.

“I’m Clary,” she says when her hand falls, a beautiful carefree smile on her face.

Maia opens her mouth ready to introduce herself as well, but Clary beats her to it.

“You’re Maia,” she says like she’s watching puzzle pieces fall right into their exact space in front of her. “We went on a double date, but sadly we weren’t the ones dating.”

Maia laughs a little a no doubt bright smile on her lips, “Yeah, yeah we did.”

They go on that date. A little diner not far from the gallery. It’s strange and beautiful and somewhere between the fries and the shakes more of Clary’s memories start falling into place. Like one good look at someone she knew before without a glamour on was all it took. Maia wonders whether the Angels aren’t nearly as powerful as they think they are or Clary’s just way stronger.

She thinks it’s a bit of both.

They talk and they get to know each other in ways they never got the chance to. Clary inches her fingers across the table lightly tangling them with Maia’s and it send sparks up and down her spine. It’s going to keep being weird, she knows that, she starkly knows that as Clary starts to remember Jace somewhere around dessert. She says that she loves him, but she’s pretty sure she’s not in love with him not the way she thought she was supposed to be.

This will no doubt be hard, be complicated and messy and get angsty somewhere in between especially if the rumors of Jace and Meliorn spending a lot of friendly time together recently are true, but she’s willing to take a chance on it. She’s starting fresh with her family and her pack and maybe this is her chance to start fresh with Clary as well.

Chapter Text

Her favorite subject to photograph by far isn’t a landscape or location. It’s not her dog, though she does love him to bits, or strangers on the street. No, Maia’s favorite subject by far is the greatest work of art she’s ever known, Clary Fray.

An artist herself Clary had caught Maia’s lens from the moment she first saw her. Across the water in some remote part of Central Park she’d wandered into Clary’s red hair had shown bright and wild in the sun and Maia without thought or hesitation had snapped a photo.

As soon as the click of her camera had sounded across the oddly quiet space she’d been caught, the red head meeting her eyes and smiling not looking upset or in any way offended by Maia’s slight breach of privacy. Instead Clary had walked over to her side and asked to see the photo, the small conversation led to coffee which led to dinner which led to breakfast the next morning. Maia once again getting out her camera and photographing Clary’s wavy bright hair, this time however fanned across crisp white sheets.

They spent more and more time together from there. Clary painting colorful landscapes and abstracts while Maia shoots photos of the slow artful movements of her hands. They sit in a park for hours Clary sketching everything around her, sometimes Maia herself, while Maia snaps faceless shots of Clary in the bright sunlight making her look even more radiant than she usually does.

She takes photos of Clary in more intimate moments, the way she bites her lip, the way her fingers grip Maia’s skin tight. But those are for her eyes only, her own personal worship.

Other’s she uses proudly for her portfolio. Clary’s red hair a striking standout in shots from both day and night.

In the morning, in the evening, at a coffee shop or in a bar, Clary always looks stunning. The perfect subject for capturing breathtaking photos. She huffs when Clary tells her one day she’s going make her famous. That one-day Clary’s red hair will be plastered all over billboards and posters and art galleries worldwide. Maia just snaps a shot of Clary’s hopeful bright face and shrugs it all away. She’s not out to become famous, she just wants to follow her passion.

But eventually Clary becomes right, six months to the day of that first photo Maia gets an offer from a gallery for that very first photo. They go, Clary insisting they dress to the nines and look on in awe as Clary’s bright red hair sits front and center of the gallery catching everyone’s eye the way she’d caught Maia’s eye so easily that first day.

The display will no doubt grant her opportunities, new subjects to photograph, but she’ll always come back to Clary. To the images of red hair and light freckles, to the love she sees in Clary’s eyes when she snaps a picture.

Chapter Text

Despite the fact that they often turn into wolves and then turn back into people completely nude, Bat has never seen Maia’s tattoo before. Every wolf he knows, himself included after some time, is wildly comfortable in their bodies. There’s no room or time for shyness when at any given moment you might have to strip down to save your own life.

But Bat never looks Maia’s way when she does so in front of him. He’s careful to find his eyes land anywhere but on her. It’s not that he doesn’t want to look, Maia’s gorgeous and he’s been halfway in love with her since the night they met, but there’s the want to be a gentleman still there.

He won’t look until she wants him to look.

They’ve been dating for a while now, taking things slow and easy. Kissing and holding hands and going on dates and despite all that he’s still not looking yet.

To the point that he even embarrassingly slapped his hand over his eyes the other day when he walked into her apartment using the key he’d been given long before they were dating and she was wearing only a short towel fresh from the shower. Maia had just chuckled and kissed him on the lips lightly as he kept his palm firmly clasped over his eyes and murmured ‘sweet’ under her breath as she turned away from him.

So, needless to say he’s never seen her tattoo until today when she reaches up to the high shelf in the kitchen while he stirs some sauce in a pan for their dinner. He turns watching her grasp the box of pasta she was looking for just barely with the tips of her fingers standing as high on her tiptoes as she can. He’s about to offer to help when he looks down for a moment and catches sight of it. It’s low on her back, a curving butterfly that he’s never heard her mention before, her shirt lifting up just enough for him to see it.

She retrieves the box she was reaching for with a triumphant and adorable little sound then settles back on her feet and turns to Bat, he immediately swings around knowing he’d kind of been staring and hoping she hadn’t noticed.

She sidles over to him and starts opening the box quietly dropping the pasta into the boiling water in the pot beside the one he’s still stirring. It’s quiet and companionable for a moment then Maia nudges her hip over to tap his playfully.

“I got it from a friend who definitely didn’t have any sort of license when I was 16 because my parents vehemently refused to sign a permission slip,” she says.

“Oh,” he replies, still staring down at the sauce embarrassed that she noticed him looking.

“Don’t ask me why a butterfly. I think at the time my teen brain thought something about freedom and wings, I don’t know,” she says with a chuckle. Bat laughs along with her certain he’s got a few teenage mistakes he can’t recall the reasoning for either.

They’re quiet again after that, stirring the respective pots in comfortable silence for a few minutes.

Bat lifts the sauce up to taste it and is about to turn to Maia and offer her the spoon when she speaks.

“Keep being a gentleman the way you have been and you’ll get to see it a whole lot closer up soon enough,” she says with a smile eyes still trained on the pasta in front of her. Bat drops the spoon in his hand in shock and embarrassment with a little stir of desire simmering at the edges as well.

Maia just laughs at him as she grabs a paper towel to clean him up, titling her lips up fondly as he stands there wide eyed and just in control of his brain to mouth filter enough to know he shouldn’t let a single word out.

Chapter Text

It starts off as a flirtation, a direct statement that Magnus hopes to convey just how beautiful he thinks Alec is without blatantly screaming ‘god you’re gorgeous’ at the tops of his lungs. It’s flirty, it’s simple, it’s direct.

It becomes a thing after a while. He tries a few other pet names, much to Alec’s chagrin his head always shaking in fond annoyance when Magnus drops a new one on him. Alexander in its own right is a pet name simply for the fact that Magnus is the only one who gets to call him that, but he wants something else. Something that no one else can find on a legal document, so he takes it back to pretty boy.

“Nice shot, pretty boy,” he says breathless and flirty as he flings another ball of bright burning magic at an oncoming demon, Alec’s arrows flying right alongside it.

“Whatever you say pretty boy,” he says a little annoyed around the edges when they disagree, clearly not actually letting their disagreement go.

“You’re a wonder, you know that, pretty boy?” he says with Alec’s face cradled in his hands staring into reverent hazel eyes after another one of Alec’s knock him off his feet blunt romantic statements.

“Fuck, pretty boy,” he breathes out barely capable of any words let alone actually saying Alexander in this moment one hand clutched tightly in red silk sheets and the other buried in Alec’s dark hair.

Little moments, soft or sultry, important or everyday he just lets the little name that launched them slip out happily. Pretty Boy.

***

Alec’s not big on pet names, or at least not big on giving them to Magnus. He quite enjoys when Magnus gives them to him even if some of them are more ridiculous.

He likes to say Magnus’ name. Likes the way it rolls off his tongue and how he can’t help but say it softly and reverently no matter the context of its uses. Magnus’ name has power, it’s a name he chose for himself and Alec loves this man and everything his name embodies so he likes to use it.

So when he lets the word baby slip through his lips for the first time not long after their wedding it’s a complete accident, a total surprise to even him.

“Baby, I think even your magic can’t save this one,” Alec says resignedly as he stares down at the blackened dish that’s supposed to lasagna. He’s been getting so much better at cooking lately, but maybe just this once he should have gone back to his trusty old breakfast for dinner skills.

Magnus is quiet for too long so Alec looks up from the sad dish to his husband. Magnus is looking at him wide-eyed and a lot fond, which isn’t necessarily new or rare, but in the moment it seems specific.

“What?”

Magnus smiles, “You just called me baby.”

Oh, he did, didn’t he? He was distressed by the large hockey puck that is their dinner he hadn’t even noticed.

“Oh,” he says not sure what to say. Not quite certain if it was a good accident or a bad one like the lasagna, though Magnus’ expression does have him leaning more towards the good option.

“I like it,” Magnus says leaning in to kiss Alec’s cheek as he flicks out a hand magicking away the dish in front of them and gesturing towards the counter to conjure up an array of boxes from the Thai place around the corner. 

Alec starts using it after that, because if Magnus likes it well, Alec likes it too. He still likes to say his name, but he sprinkles a baby in there every now and then. Sometimes said on a breath as Magnus lifts him up into his arms and deposits him on their bed, sometimes said in casual conversation like it’s as natural as breathing and other times a bit whiny, the y drawn out long as Magnus tries to peel him from bed far too early and deny him morning cuddles.

He could try his hand at others, knows that Magnus would be delighted to hear something new slip from Alec’s lips, but he sticks to just the one. The one that evidently his brain had wanted to try out and just let slip from him unaware. Baby.

Chapter Text

“So, we’re really doing this?” Dot says looking up at the slightly shambled building in front of her. The glass windows are intact, but the doors hanging sideways and the outside could use a real power wash. And the inside, that’s a whole other swirl of cobwebs and dust to be dealt with.

“We are,” Catarina says walking up behind her and curling her arms around her wife’s waist. “Papers are all signed and sealed and official, our lovely lawyers just texted to confirm.”

Dot snorts out a little laugh, “It’s so weird when you call them our lawyers, they’re literally our daughter’s godfathers.”

“The Lightwood-Bane’s take their jobs very seriously, I have to refer to them accordingly when the situation calls for it,” Cat says before nuzzling into Dot’s neck affectionately.

Dot curls her fingers around her wife’s gripping tight as she continues to look at the building before them. Suddenly it looks a little less shambled, because now it’s not just the messy spot they’re considering buying, it’s theirs. It’ll take time and months of hard work but soon enough the ram shack little building in front of them will be a bold and bright coffee shop all their own.

Dotarina’s as Dot desperately wants to call it, using the ridiculous ship name Magnus gave them in college when he and Alec were plotting how to get them together, even though Cat keeps fighting her on it will be their own little corner of the world.

“I can’t believe it’s really ours,” she says on a happy sigh. “Madzie is gonna love it.”

“Oh, you bet she is, she already told me this morning how she couldn’t wait to help us come clean it up and meet all the spiders,” Cat chuckles. They’ve been making recipes for cupcakes and muffins and a million other sweets they plan to offer in the shop for their little girl to try for months. But of course their little adorable weirdo was most excited about the spiders she’ll get to collect in her little plastic bug holder when they clean. “We gotta get the electricity and everything up and running first though. I know damn well I don’t want any of those eight-legged things crawling on me in the dark no matter how delighted she’ll be.”

Dot nods her head seriously in agreement, neither of them share their daughter’s love for the creatures in any way, they’re not quite sure where the obsession came from, but the love does spark a sudden idea.

“We’ll be opening up by October, we should plan some sort of spider themed treat for Halloween and for her,” she says thinking out loud as Cat starts to sway them back and forth lovingly. “It’ll make up for the fact that we hopefully won’t actually be seeing any more spiders inside anymore.”

“Good idea, especially since she’ll want to keep them all and we’re definitely not letting that happen, they’re getting released into the wild,” Cat replies. “Maybe we can drive out to Luke and Maryse’s farm let her set them free out there so she knows they’ll be happy.”

Another good idea. Their princess rules them and has very specific rules about the treatment of the little creepy crawlies she likes to collect and save.

Dot turns in her wife’s arms draping her hands around Cat’s neck and twining her fingers behind her neck. She leans in kissing her wife slowly.

“We’re business owners,” she says on a dreamy sigh when they part. “We have a four-year-old daughter, a house we actually can afford and we’re business owners.”

It’s all so crazy how far they’ve come, how hard they’ve worked to get here.

“Crazy to think little Cat and Dot who couldn’t even admit they had a crush on each other got here, huh?” Cat smiles leaning in to kiss her wife again, a little longer this time, a little slower.

When they pull back Dot beams at her.

“I hope you’re as good of a business partner as you are wife,” Cat jokes when they pull back smirking delightedly.

Dot huffs out a laugh tipping her forehead to rest on Cat’s, “You bet your ass I am,” she whispers into the space between them. “I’m good at everything.”

Cat laughs and kisses her hard and fierce, she agrees, even if she won’t admit it out loud.

Chapter Text

“Do you and daddy ever buy each other souvenirs?” Summer asks as they settle the little snow globe Alec had gotten her from Sweden while at a conference on the shelf beside her bed.

Magnus hums pulling Summer to sit on his lap. She’s getting a little bigger every day, nearly five years old now. He doesn’t know where the time has gone, they have forever the three of them, but these first five years of her life have breezed by.

“Not exactly,” Magnus says after a moment. “Daddy and I tend to go places together, so there’s not much of a need.”

Summer nods her head in understanding.

“What about the tea?” she asks after a moment of contemplation. Magnus looks at her an eyebrow raised in question.

“The one you always carry around in your pocket,” she explains. “I heard daddy say once he got it for you.”

Magnus smiles thinking about the omamori resting in his pocket, he can see where the shape of it would make her think it was a tea bag.

“That’s not tea, pumpkin,” he says with a chuckle leaning back a bit to pull it from his pocket. He’s been carrying it around for over a decade now, it should have fallen apart years ago, but a few carefully crafted enduring spells have left it looking as fresh and new as the day Alec had gifted it to him. It’s the first gift Alec ever got him, a simple thing that spoke volumes about the depth of his feelings for Magnus.

“This,” he says handing it over to her. She takes it carefully holding it delicately, preciously, likely because she’s spotted Magnus running his fingers across it reverently before at times when Alec is away or after a long day and he beats him home. “Is an omamori. Your daddy bought it for me on one of our very first dates, it was the first gift he ever bought me.”

“What’s an omamori?” she says stumbling over the word a bit, but getting it just about right.

“It is a Japanese charm that is supposed to bring someone luck and more importantly protection,” Magnus explains. It was the protection part that had really struck him right in the chest with a warm feeling when Alec had first given it to him. Alexander the protector saying without words he always wanted to be there for Magnus.

At the time the sentiment had a twinge of sadness wrapped around it, knowing one day he wouldn’t be around, it’s part of why he’d so quickly placed a spell on it to keep it in tact, intent to never lose the charm. That’s not a concern anymore however, he’s quite literally never going anywhere and neither is this tiny charm that brings Magnus an endearing sense of comfort and a soft memory of the early days of their love.

“Daddy’s good at buying gifts,” Summer says matter of factly handing the charm back to Magnus carefully then turning to look at her row of varying snow globes from Alec and magical charms from Magnus.

“Yeah, he is,” Magnus says with a smile pressing a light kiss to his daughter’s temple.

“What’s daddy good at?” Alec’s voice says and Magnus sees him leaning in the doorway. Hair damp, fresh from the shower and Magnus knows if he were to stand and press up against him, with impossibly warm skin.

“Gift giving,” Magnus says with a smile beckoning Alec closer with the hand still holding the omamori. Alec obeys the gesture moving closer, somehow managing to settle behind Magnus long legs bracketing him.

He moves forward wrapping his arms around Magnus’ waist and around Summer.

“You still carry that around?” he says a little awed, chin resting on Magnus’ shoulder as he looks down at the red and gold charm.

“Every day,” he replies leaning back a little to put it safely in his pocket. He’s careful not to jostle Summer who’s using her magic to bring the snow globe they just sat on the shelf down and into her hands to shake wildly, not remotely paying attention to her father’s. “Keeps you close.”

He turns his head to meet Alec’s eyes, just a breath away from one another. Alec smiles bright leaning in quickly to kiss him on the lips.

“This does too,” he says when he pulls back and snuggles even closer up to Magnus’ back. Summer speaks up at that moment rattling on about what she likes about her new snow globe.

Magnus smiles as he listens to her and Alec go back and forth, he takes his free hand that’s not entangled with Alec’s around their daughter and slides it across his pocket where the omamori rests then slides it along to rest on Alec’s thigh where his legs bracket them protectively.

Chapter Text

“You want a glass of wine?” Alec asks after they’ve been home from their date for a while going to pick up the bottle they’d opened the night before from the cabinet.

“Actually,” Magnus says stepping into the kitchen both hands holding complicated looking drinks that seem so familiar to Alec. “I was thinking we could have something else.”

He walks close to Alec extending one of the drinks, Alec takes it their fingers brushing lightly as he does.

“To us,” Magnus says lifting up his complicated yellowy drink.

Alec repeats in kind clinking their glasses together. He turns the straw taking a drink and immediately the flavor sends his sense memory running wild to a cool Hawaiian night nearly a year ago in a bar where he’d thought he’d get lonely drunk once again and crash land in his empty hotel bed.

Instead at a couple’s resort where they were impossibly both single and awkwardly forced into being there to save face and money he’d met the love of his life; the man standing in front of him, his lips wrapped around the straw tantalizingly with a smile edging at the corners of his lips.

“Pineapple of Penzance,” Alec says with a chuckle after swallowing down another sip. “Where’d you manage to get the recipe for this?”

“Just made a call to the resort where we met,” he says it with a shrug of one shoulder which Alec knows means he’s trying to make it seem like no big deal. Which absolutely means it’s a huge deal.

Alec smiles stepping closer to his boyfriend, “Why?”

It’s a nice gesture and memory, but their anniversary is still a month away and this seems like the kind of thing to pull out then not on an average Saturday date night.

“For this,” Magnus says curving his arm behind Alec to sit down his own drink. He reaches into his pocket pulling something small from it then turns Alec’s straw around with one delicate finger towards him. He slips the thing he’d retrieved from his pocket on the end, a simple layered silver ring which catches on the glasses edge and stays put for Alec to stare.

“Marry me?” Magnus asks looking up at him through his lightly glittering lashes.

Alec’s eyes move from the ring to Magnus. He doesn’t know what to say, actually he does, yes is what he wants to say, but first physical instinct takes over and he moves the drink out of the way to pull Magnus in by the lapel of his blazer. He collides with Alec’s chest and Alec immediately puts his lips on his boyfriends tasting the pineapple and vodka between them.

He pulls back a moment later, breathless from both the kiss and the feeling of the moment.

“Yes,” he says feeling like he’s a bare second away from happy crying. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”

Magnus beams crashing back into him. They pull back a while later when breathing becomes necessary and the drink Alec’s still holding jostles. A clinking sound catches his attention to the glass.

“Fuck, the ring,” he says pulling it around to frown down into the glass. “Guess, I’ll-“ he starts, but Magnus plucks the glass from his hand and chugs the drink in one go, careful to avoid accidentally swallowing the ring. It’s a weirdly specific skill that has Alec a little turned on.

His boyfriend, his fiancé Alec giddily corrects himself, doesn’t miss a beat or sway as he finishes the drink then tips the ring out into his palm. He walks to the sink and runs the ring under the water as he sits the glass aside then turns back to Alec.

He takes Alec’s left hand softly, slipping the silver band onto his finger slowly. It’s still a little sticky from landing at the bottom of a drink, but Alec couldn’t care less. It’s a perfect fit like it was always meant to be there.

Alec admires it for a moment before twining his fingers with Magnus’ and pulling him back in close slinging his other arm around Magnus’ neck and leaning into a kiss that tastes sharply of pineapple, vodka and their future.

Chapter Text

“Daddy you’re so bad at this,” Summer giggles peaking over at the carved pumpkin in front of Alec.

Magnus snorts from his spot on the other side of the coffee table and Alec throws a glare his husbands’ way in retaliation. Magnus just smiles one of those cute little smiles of his.

Alec shakes his head turning his attention back to his daughter who sits at his side painting the pumpkin Magnus had carved for her. It’s a cat that looks annoyingly good, he can’t prove it because Magnus did it before he got home but he’s pretty sure he used magic, there’s no way he’s that good at this. He’s already too good and too many things.

“I’m not bad at this,” he huffs reaching out a hand to try and wipe away the large blue smear of paint running along the shiny scales on her tan right arm. It doesn’t work, he just smudges the blue impossibly more. She’s definitely going to need a bath before bed. “I’m just pre-good.”

Summer giggles wildly at that dropping back on the carpet a slob of blue paint flying behind her and hitting the glass of one of the balcony doors. Magnus throws a hand through the air lightly a wave of blue magic cleaning it up as soon as it hits.

Alec grumbles away as Summer laughs her little scales off, Magnus snickering as well. Alec throws him another glare. She calms down after a minute, lifting herself back up.

“Silly, daddy,” she says as she gets back to work on her pumpkin. They all work in silence after that for a while, Alec huffing as he attempts to carve the second wing of his bat and an entire chunk of the pumpkin just falls off, not in any way resembling a bats wing. He looks down at the chunk lying in his lap forlornly.

“Done!” Summer yells pulling him out of his forlorn revelry.

She turns the pumpkin so that they can both see it. Globs of rainbow-colored paint surround the cut-out cat shape and down in the far corner are three stick figures wearing capes and witch hats that Alec is fairly certain are supposed to be the three of them. It’s a mess, it’s absolutely beautiful.

“That looks great,” Alec says reaching over to ruffle her braided hair. She leans into the touch while scrunching up her face in delight.

Magnus moves his own pumpkin out of the way and reaches across the table to bop her on the nose lightly, “A perfect pumpkin by our little pumpkin.” She giggles after he says it, always loving the little nickname her papa gave her when she was still just a little gurgling baby.

Magnus looks down at his watch after that and stands going behind Summer and lifting her up.

“Alright, bath time then bed little one,” he says and she goes willingly for once. Likely too delighted about the praise for her pumpkin to debate her bedtime.

“Need any help?” Alec asks as he goes. Magnus shoots a wink over his shoulder and shakes his head.

“It’s mostly just her arms and hands, shouldn’t take long, you try and fix that bat,” he chuckles as he turns the corner.

Alec scoffs looking back at his pumpkin disaster. He tries in vain to fix it as the water runs in the background, carving bits out with the little tools and attempting to use paint to hold some of it together.

He looks over at Magnus’ pumpkin still turned to its plain side and swivels it around to take a look at it. Carved into the side is a complicated background design of runes and waves of familiar magic and in the center are their faces, all three of them, perfectly encapsulated in pumpkin art form.

“Cheater,” he says under his breath as he turns his attention back to his own mess. He’s not sure how much time passes but eventually Magnus returns crouching down beside Alec.

He reaches out a hand tenderly holding the side of Alec’s neck and rubbing at the deflect rune lightly.

“She’s putting on her pajamas and has requested double story time,” Magnus says while Alec throws another glob of red paint on his pumpkin. The bat kind of looks dead now, the red was definitely a mistake. “Thought I’d come save you from you’re evil, evil pumpkin.”

Alec turns and rolls his eyes at his husband before moving to stand. Magnus’ hand falls as he rises and Alec looks down at his hands covered in paint. He goes to rub them on his pants considering it all a lost cause when suddenly a wave of blue magic wraps around them cleaning them entirely.

Alec’s lips quirk up for a second then he turns to pout at his husband finally responding to his words, “Well, not all of us have magic to make perfect pumpkins you know.”

“Magic?” Magnus says feigning innocence. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Alec reaches out entangling their fingers and begins walking towards the hall leading to their daughter’s bedroom, “Sure you don’t. You totally just made exact replicas of us on the side of a pumpkin with absolutely no magical assistance. You’re very talented baby, but the arts have always evaded you.”

It’s true Magnus can dance like no other, has a pretty nice singing voice as well, but anything artistic or musical otherwise is an absolute disaster.

Magnus sighs in defeat, shrugging his broad shoulders lightly as they walk, “Maybe I used a little magic, just a little.”

Alec rolls his eyes fondly, tugging his husband down the hall and to story time with their daughter.

Chapter Text

Alec Lightwood wakes up in a body bag on a cloudy Saturday morning on the shore. He’s hungry and vaguely remembers the boat party from the night before that the other residents had convinced him he just had to go to, there was an attack and some crazed red eyed individual scratching his arm other than that it’s all fuzzy.

He looks down and the scratch is practically gone, freshly healed and scarred over like it’s been weeks since it happened and blissfully he hasn’t been tagged yet, no ID. He should probably be panicking, but the overwhelming hunger twisting in his gut is ruling all of his senses in the moment. He slips away from the scene unnoticed. He cuts through a wooded area and suddenly some primal need has him leaping on a poor unsuspecting rabbit. He eats the brain only and the hunger twists a little less, his focus clears a bit.

He tries to shake it all away as a horrible nightmare by the time he makes it back to his apartment. He showers, eats an alarming amount of leftovers from his fridge that for some odd reason have no taste and then crashes into bed. When he wakes up he’s hungry again, impossibly so.

He finally takes a look in the mirror and he notices how pale he is, paler than usual, and he twists the strange bright white streak in the front of his hair that definitely wasn’t there before between his fingers in confusion.

On Sunday he evades his sisters’ questions about the boat party that’s now plastered all over the news. 20 people are dead, including another resident he sort of knew, and he woke up in a body bag. He doesn’t tell her about the body bag though, brushes it off and says he ended up leaving early. It’s being hailed a tragic crash, the boat going up in flames with some passengers still on board and the others thrust into the water likely drowning. There were only three survivors that the general public know about, and none of them remember a thing. He’s in the clear, no one can say he was there when it all went to hell.

He sneaks into one of the old labs at his college later that day to try and run some tests on himself.

He’s got a pulse still, breath and a steady heartbeat and seemingly functioning organs. He may have been dead enough to put in a body bag for a brief time, but he’s definitely not now.

He bleeds, but the healing time of a cut is a fraction of what it used to be. That’s all good, or sort of good depending on how he looks at it. He goes to do a few more tests when he catches a whiff of something in the air something he’s drawn towards. The next thing he knows he’s cracking open a jar filled with a preserved human brain and chomping down on it faster than he’s ever eaten before. It doesn’t taste great, but fuck does he feel good after he’s done. The best he’s ever felt in his life probably, definitely the best he’s felt since he chowed down a rabbit’s brain that just only barely took the edge off.

And that’s when the dots connect for him, Alec is 99% sure he’s a zombie.

He quits his job at the hospital on Monday. His parents are disappointed on a level that rivals when he came out to them, but Izzy just seems to be worried which he can handle a lot better than bitter disappointment. It’s not that he wants to quit, but he can’t be a zombie and a doctor, he can’t risk if there’s some side effect to this that means when he doesn’t chomp down on a good brain that he’ll end up cracking open the skull of a patient. He’s also deduced that his current condition was caused by that long scratch down his arm, even keeping his nails short might not prevent an accident somewhere down the line.

He’s running out of the brains he stole from the lab barely a week later, animal brains don’t work the way human ones do he’s concluded quickly. He’s hungry within an hour on animal brains, but human brains last him days when he’s not overexerting himself. Which considering his lack of employment and social life overexertion isn’t really a problem for him.

Thankfully he’s figured out a way to make the brains taste better. Hot sauce seems to be the only way he can taste anything, he’s been chugging through it at an alarming rate. Some self-tanner has cured the paleness, but he’s decided to keep the white streak, it looks pretty good if he does say so himself.

He’s alarmed that he’s not alarmed by this whole situation, his body and mind seemingly just rolling with it all but as he throws yet another bottle of hot sauce in the trash can he realizes he needs to get a job and fast if he’s going to keep up with his hot sauce habit alone.

There’s also the matter of brains. He can’t just keep stealing them from labs, he will get caught eventually. Thankfully some higher zombie power shines down on him with an opening at the coroner’s office.

He’s overqualified for the position and gets the job easily, it’s perfect with decent pay and easy access to brains that won’t ever be questioned. His new zombie life might be weird, but at least he’ll be able to manage it quietly.

At least that’s what he thinks until his first day when he meets Magnus Bane and the quietly part quickly falls apart.

Magnus Bane is gorgeous and brilliant and sort of his boss, not that that matters cause there’s no official rules about interoffice dating, but that doesn’t matter either since Alec’s a zombie and no matter how attractive and flirtatious his co-worker is he’s pretty sure dating is off the table indefinitely, possibly forever.

Keeping a secret as major as being a zombie alone would ruin them, it’s already a roadblock in them even being real friends. Of course Magnus crashes right through that roadblock one night while Alec’s sifting out the brains of an old man who had a sudden heart attack.

He’s alone quietly getting to work putting the brains in little containers from his lunch box, he even pops a bit in his mouth as he goes feeling safe that no one will see and that’s exactly when Magnus’ voice breaks through the quiet.

“Oh, my god.”

Three weeks that’s all it took for him to get caught, he thought he’d at least make it to three months before it all went to shit.

Alec freezes a chunk of brain in one hand and wide eyes that he’s not quite sure aren’t going to fall out of his head. He’s pretty sure he’d survive it though with the whole advanced healing thing.

“This isn’t what it looks like,” he says in a panic tossing the brain piece in his hand down in surrender.

“So, you’re not a zombie who got this job strictly to mine brains from the bodies we have down here and I’ve interrupted dinner,” Magnus says, surprisingly no terror in his voice, weirdly just amusement.

“Okay, so maybe it’s exactly what it looks like,” Alec replies hesitantly.

“Oh, my god,” Magnus says again this time sounding almost giddy. He bounces excitedly on his feet moving closer to where Alec’s standing over poor dead Mr. Henderson. “I knew it! I didn’t want to say anything in case I was wrong and you’d think I was crazy, but I knew it!”

Alec shakes his head still deeply confused, “What do you mean you knew it?”

Has he really been that obvious, has Magnus caught him before but just not so blatantly? Also shouldn’t he be running for his life because Magnus might be nice and fancy and beautiful, but there’s no way he’s going to just be cool with this.

“Well, there’s the hair,” he starts gesturing to the white streak. “You don’t seem like the hair dye type at all and then there’s paleness, like deep paleness. You try to hide it, but sometimes you forget.” Alec scratches the back of his head in a nervous gesture, ridiculously worried in this moment that paleness makes him less attractive to Magnus. Magnus seems to read his reaction just right.

“Don’t worry you’re still like the hottest guy I’ve ever seen even with paleness and definitely with the white streak,” he smirks before continuing on as if he hadn’t just dropped a bomb of interest on Alec. “And then there’s your food I mean it doesn’t look like brains you’ve covered that up well, but it also doesn’t look like sausage like you claim and the hot sauce is that a thing for zombies? It seemed strange but I assumed it had to be a part of it.”

“Um, yeah I can’t really taste anything without it,” Alec says and then jumps to the really important question. “How are you not terrified of me right now?”

Magnus just shrugs, “Are you gonna crack open my head and eat my brains?”

Alec shakes his head. He’s pretty sure he won’t, the closest he’s come to feeling that way was when he first woke up and instinctually he’d attacked a bunny instead of person. He’s fairly certain if he doesn’t stay well fed it could come to that, but he’s determined for it to never come to that.

“Well then I have nothing to worry about,” Magnus says with a smile pulling over a stool to sit on the other side of the slab. “I like you Alexander and I trust you and you’re by far the coolest person I’ve ever had working with me down here. I get some real weirdos.”

Alec barks out a laugh and takes a seat as well, “I’m a zombie and you’re calling other people weirdos?”

“You don’t even want to know,” Magnus says gravelly with a wicked little smile. He devolves into science talk after that and Alec has never been so glad to have medical school under his belt or he wouldn’t understand a word Magnus is saying at the rapid pace he’s going.

He asks a million questions and Alec doesn’t actually mind answering them, it’s nice to finally be able to talk about what happened to him. He talks about the boat party and the slow clicking in realization of what happened. How he’d taken some vitals and the results he’d gotten.

Magnus wants to do more, he’s got ideas a plenty on how to get to the bottom of how Alec came to be the way he is, he even drops the word cure in there and Alec refuses to let that blossom of hope grow. Magnus used to work at the CDC, Alec knew that, but it turns out he didn’t just leave, he was fired after suggesting that zombie-ism was real based on some old studies.

Anyone who fires a mind like Magnus’ for any reason is an idiot, but they are even more so with Alec sitting in front of him as living proof he was right. It explains Magnus’ ease and excitement about all this quite clearly.

“Why would you want to do all that work?” Alec asks after Magnus has run out of steam in his list of ideas and requests.

“Like I said I like you,” he says easily. “And frankly there’s also a bit of vindication in it,” he admits. “But mostly I like you and I want to help you.”

***

They become a lot closer after that spending not only their work days together but a lot of their free time as well. Most of it is spent doing research and Magnus taking a billion various samples from him, but every now and then they just relax watch some tv or grab some dinner once Alec’s reassured Magnus he can eat regular food it’s just needs to be at an astronomical spice level for him to get anything from it.

They’re friends, better friends than any Alec’s ever had. But there’s also still the matter of Alec’s little crush which has gotten impossibly bigger and Magnus still flirting with him despite knowing his condition isn’t helping at all.

It actually makes it all worse, because if Magnus can still like him after seeing him slurp down human brains he’s pretty Magnus is going to keep liking him no matter what. He shouldn’t let it happen, he should push it away, draw a line in the sand between them, but he can’t. Because he likes the way Magnus calls him Alexander, likes how he listens to every word Alec has to say no matter how mundane and loves the light deliberate brushing touches he leaves on Alec’s skin when taking blood samples or just passing the hot sauce across the tiny table in their break room way too much.

“I think with a little more time and a few more test subjects I could at least get the base line for a possible cure,” Magnus says referring to the cages of rodents they have hidden in the back room of the morgue for testing.

They’re sitting in Alec’s living room curled up on the couch, Alec’s feet outstretched and propped up on the coffee table with Magnus sitting beside him crossed legged with a slew of folders across his legs. “Of course if we could find the source or remains of the source that turned you or if there are others like you out there somewhere the process would go a lot faster.”

They’ve tried. Alec using his sister’s girlfriend, Maia’s, detective access to the list of boat party attendees and victims to track down any other possible members of Team Z, but there’d been no such luck. A few survivors recalled the red-eyed guy who scratched Alec, one even remembering him eating someone whole which he’s pretty sure is an exaggeration, but there’s been no other reports of such an attack. It’s all a dead end for now, no pun intended.

“It’s okay,” Alec says truthfully. Is the situation ideal? No. But is he managing and adapting? Absolutely. It’s been nearly five months since he got inducted into the hall of Z and he’s doing pretty damn good. He’s got super healing that, after a few tests that Magnus really didn’t want Alec to do but he did anyways, has been more than confirmed. He’s basically invincible. They are however safely believing that modern media got the bullet to the head thing right and Alec has promised to stay away from getting his head bashed in to the best of his ability.

Having Magnus by his side, having someone he trusts and cares for by his side has made everything so much better than it probably should be. He doesn’t have to scrounge out brains in the dead of night after everyone’s gone home, Magnus helps him even sets them aside sometimes cooking them up in stir fry’s or rice dishes even. God bless the good heart and the iron stomach of a man of science.

This entire bonkers situation led him to Magnus in the first place and grants him unlimited time spent with him. If he has to eat a few brains a week to spend time with the smartest, most incredible man he’s ever met so be it.

Magnus still let’s out a little huff of disappointment, but smiles nonetheless closing up the folders and tossing them on the coffee table before reaching out for his box of takeout. Alec’s is labeled ‘B’ for brains and Magnus’ ‘Not B’ for not brains he’s not sure why they couldn’t just put their initials on them but he refused to question Magnus’ system. He takes a few bites while Alec does the same sitting together in companionable silence.

It’s nice, he’s never really had this with anyone except maybe his sister and even then Izzy loves to talk so it never lasts long. It takes him a few moments to notice Magnus is watching him as he picks through his container to just eat out the brain bits. For a worrying moment he thinks he’s finally grossed Magnus out, but then Magnus is sitting his own food back down on the coffee table and reaching for Alec’s food and doing the same to it.

“Alexander,” he says and it feels like he’s going to say more but instead he just lets out a frustrated huff of breath and the next second he’s leaning forward. His lips press to Alec’s and Alec immediately pulls back hating himself for it. And then hating himself a little more when he sees the forlorn, confused expression on Magnus’ beautiful face, the way his eyes are glistening sadly made even more prominent by the thin line of black that surrounds them.

“No,” he immediately blurts out which in no way improves Magnus’ expression. He runs a frustrated hand through his hair the white streak coming into view as it drops down in front of his eye. “I mean, not no, I want to, but we can’t, I can’t risk it.”

“You can,” Magnus says cutting him off. It’s his turn to run a frustrated hand through his hair and let out a little grunt of aggravation. Alec is ready to argue, it doesn’t matter how much he feels he won’t risk this; he won’t risk making Magnus like this too without consent or permission, but Magnus continues talking before he can say any of that. “I ran some tests and I guess they weren’t necessary tests because you never asked and I probably should have told you as soon as I knew conclusively, but there was this weird jealous part of me that thought if you knew maybe you’d go out and find someone else. Which is so unfair of me.”

“Magnus,” Alec says interrupting his long-winded stream of words a little worried he’s forgetting to breathe. “What do you mean?”

Magnus takes a deep breath before speaking, “Well you seemed pretty convinced that the transfer was through the scratch and I wanted to see if that was the only way, partially to be safe, but also because, well because I was kind of worried that maybe I’d never be able to kiss you without you living with the guilt of turning me into a zombie.”

And okay, that’s big. Magnus purposefully did tests all because he wanted to kiss Alec. It means the flirting and the random comments on Alec’s appearance aren’t all he’s been thinking about.

“It’s probably super weird,” Magnus says after Alec’s quiet a moment too long. “I mean I should have at least told you what I was going to do.”

“Wait, so you’re sure I can’t transfer it through saliva or any other fluids?” Alec asks. And yes he’s a doctor, a professional, he should be able to say the name of the other fluids he’s thinking about, but he’s also looking at the man who he’s more than a little smitten with so he flubs it a bit.

“I mean I wouldn’t go donate blood anytime soon just in case since it comes up off the charts on your white cell count,” Magnus explains looking Alec directly in the eyes. “But everything else is safe, except for the scratches, which I know you’re careful about.”

“100%?” Alec asks again just to be really sure. He trusts Magnus’ science, but he just needs to hear it again. Because he likes Magnus a lot and while he likes him for a lot of reasons and has thought about a million things he wants to do with Magnus that in no way involve the exchange of fluids, there’s quite a few that do that have crossed his mind as well. His dreams have been getting particularly detailed since he saw Magnus shirtless one day when he showed up at his apartment twenty minutes early.

Magnus nods, “You’re not mad that I didn’t tell you I checked for all this and then proceeded to not tell you out of some weird uncertain jealousy?”

Alec thinks for a bare second and the answers easy. He’s not mad, I mean if anything he’s simply just disappointed Magnus didn’t tell him sooner.

“Nope,” he says with a smile reaching out to bring Magnus a little closer to him. “Mostly I just really want to kiss you.”

Magnus bites his lip and Alec takes that as the invitation it’s meant to be leaning in to swap some very non-zombie creating saliva.

***

Things gets really, really good after that. It’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life, both before he was a zombie and after.

They keep up their research, but now with the added bonus of making out whenever they can. They hold hands and they go on dates and Alec’s even more cautious than he was before about his nails now that he’s in constant close contact with someone.

The sex is insane. He’s not sure if it’s the immense affection he has for Magnus, the boost of zombie energy he has now or that every other man he’s been with has just been mediocre in bed, but whatever the reason he’s happy to be blissed out on a high that seems impossible every time they collide and is comforted greatly to see Magnus feels the same way.

He introduces Magnus to Isabelle and Maia a little over a month after their first kiss. He’s met and very proudly won over Magnus’ friends so now it’s his turn. Naturally they adore Magnus because that’s just the effect Magnus has on people.

It’s the easiest things have been with Isabelle since that morning he woke up in a body bag. She’s clearly still a little worried about him, but it lessens after that night once she sees how carefree he is with Magnus. He wishes he could tell her. But he already lost his father when he came out as gay, his mother and little brother who she’s ripped away from him since he quit his med school track and he and Jace have been drifting for years with his brother constantly deployed. He just can’t risk losing Izzy too if she couldn’t handle his new way of life.

“I know you’re scared, but I really do think she could handle it all,” Magnus says when they’re curled up around each other in his bed later that night long after Maia and Izzy have gone home.

“I just don’t think I could bear losing her,” Alec says sadly.

“I know,” Magnus says pulling him in closer, resting Alec’s head on his chest to run his fingers through his hair. He pauses twisting the white section around his finger in slow motions. It’s a little habit he’s taken to that always makes Alec smile. “I know, pretty boy, but I bet she couldn’t bear losing you either and she’d take you as you are no matter what.”

Alec nods as he starts to drift off the rhythmic feel of Magnus’ fingers on his scalp lulling him to sleep. Maybe, just maybe he’s right, maybe it’s time to tell her.

***

It’s three months later when he finds the resolve to tell her. They’ve gotten even deeper into their research, determining that the zombie disease isn’t a disease but more like a parasite of the blood. It protects him, makes him stronger all in exchange for brains to sustain both it and him.

A weird give and take. They’ve also determined Alec’s still aging, but at a much slower rate than the average human. Magnus isn’t much closer to a cure, but he refuses to give up. The rats in their morgue have been useful giving them a lot of new information and possibilities for finding a cure one day.

They now know that ‘The Walking Dead’ did get some of it right with the mindless mouth breathers they portray zombies as, go without brains for more than a week and there seems to be no coming back, you’re full Romero until someone takes you out of your misery. He never sees a world where he ends up empty for that long, but after much insistence from Magnus he starts keeping a backup freezer of supply in a storage unit across town just in case.

They also have discovered a new way the parasite protects outside of the advanced healing. After a rather belligerent drunk hit on Magnus at a bar one night and just wouldn’t back off Alec had gone into what they’re now calling zombie rage mode. All it took was one shove from the drunk and Alec went red eyed and completely off on the guy, if it weren’t for Magnus’ calming touch and voice pulling him back to reality he’s not sure what he would have done.

Luckily, the guy had been so wasted no one believed it when he cried about Alec’s scary red eyes and the cops had thankfully let Alec go citing self-defense.

There’s a lot of new science and facts and useful safety information on their side which makes him feel even more confident in telling his sister the truth. She’s an ecologist, human genomes and parasites are not really her area of expertise, but the more scientific fact he can present when spilling his big Z news the more likely she is to believe it.

Of course the night he plans to tell her, a nice easy double date in, everything goes to shit. Maia has the week from hell, a perp getting off scot free yet still being very, very determined to blame Maia for his troubles.

Alec decides to put a pause on his plans when he calls her. She already has enough on her plate worrying because Maia refuses to accept the departments security detail, she doesn’t need the added stressor of her brother having his big zombie reveal.

She does however still insist they have their double date night. They all curl up in Maia’s living room together as planned watching of all thing’s zombie movies that Magnus and Alec keeping making these very specific comments about under their breath that gets them suspiciously eyed by the girls.

It’s nearing two in the morning by the time they call it quits and Maia insists they take her spare room and spend the night.

“I’m a cop,” she says hands firm on her hips with a voice that leaves no room for argument. “I don’t care that you’re two big, strong capable men I’m not letting you go all the way across town in the middle of the night.”

They easily relent, all a little tipsy from a few too many margaritas that Izzy had loaded up with tequila, because good news Alec can still get drunk! He passes out with Magnus curled up on his chest sleeping peacefully until a sudden crash comes from the main room. Alec bolts up his senses heightened and aware since he ate a full brain in preparation of not being able to pass them off as any real food in front of his sister and Maia.

Magnus moves to sit up in bed a little groggily, “What was that?”

“Not sure,” Alec says flicking back the covers, already on his feet by the time Magnus is alert enough to respond.

“Alec, wait, you can’t just go out there,” he whisper yells.

“I’ll be fine, I’ve got the,” he pauses bringing up both hands in claw like formations. “Whole grrr thing, remember?”

Magnus scrunches up his face a bit both in worry and a tiny, tiny bit of amusement. He gets up following Alec to the door, but promising not to go all the way out into the main room. As they get closer they hear more shuffling then the familiar click of a gun, he went to the shooting range enough with his mom when he was younger to know it especially with his amped up on brains hearing right now, then Maia’s voice breaks through the quiet.

“Hands up fucker,” she says and a shot rings out. Alec’s moving before he can even think about it, Magnus tries to reach for him to stop his motion but comes up short. He spots Maia first ducked down behind the kitchen counter, a tall man he assumes to be the asshole who got let out today pointing a gun in her direction.

One more step and he’ll be on Maia and Alec knows she’s good, but he’s not sure she’ll have the time to react if he gets off another shot in this position.

“Hey, dipshit,” he says getting the man’s attention to turn to him. He immediately fires off a shot that goes right into Alec’s shoulder, not quite making it all the way through knocking him back onto the ground. Behind him he distantly hears a call of his name that sounds vaguely like Isabelle, but it’s muffled all being drowned out by the burning of his blood. Because if a shove kicked him into zombie rage mode, a bullet to the shoulder is real anger inducer.

He doesn’t necessarily think or feel a damn thing, the bullet wound is a dull sensation as the pulsing rage takes over. He has a vague idea of how wild he must look, half dressed and from Magnus’ description the last time it happened red eyed and veiny, but he couldn’t give a single fuck right now.

He just wants to make this guy pay.

However, the man doesn’t seem to care about Alec’s guttural growl or notice him rising up off the ground, his attention is focused back on Maia who’s now attempting to wrestle the gun away from him. Another shot goes off breaking the glass of the bay window. Maia gets thrown off to the side by the man twice her size as she reaches for her own gun and Alec takes that as his queue charging forward once he’s upright.

Alec tackles him before he can get to the gun first hands tight around the man’s throat. He has a single-minded focus right now to collapse this prick’s trachea in and then maybe crack open his skull for a late-night snack. He doesn’t hear Isabelle’s cries or see Maia freeze once she’s upright gun in her hand uncertain of who she should be pointing it at.

The man beneath him passes out and were he more aware he’d stop the pressure, but the rage is in control now. He’s just about to apply the final bit of pressure when a hand comes down on his neck in a firm, but gentle grip, a familiar voice cutting through the haze.

“Alexander, come on,” he hears Magnus say clear and directly next to him. He recognizes the touch now, the rings Magnus wears when they’re not at work a cool press into his heated skin. “Come back to me.”

And because Magnus says it, he does. He feels it all fall back in a rush much like that night at the bar, he knows the red eyes drop back to his normal hazel and the veins recede. He pulls his hands back and clambers off to the side of their assailant, checking quickly for a pulse and finding one.

In the distance he hears sirens, likely a neighbor made the call after hearing shots go off.

“There you are,” Magnus says softly rubbing at his cheek as he finally faces him eyes and mind clear he leans into the touch. Izzy rushes past them to Maia’s side checking her over quickly as they eye Alec warily. Maia moves fast turning over the unconscious man and grabbing a pair of cuffs from a nearby drawer to secure him.

“What the fuck was that Alec?” she says as she goes over to the window using the handle of her gun to break out the entire thing.

“What are you doing?” he asks instead of answering her question. For some dumb reason he’s still attempting to avoid telling them the truth.

“Well, we’re gonna have to explain why there were three shots and there’s only one hole in the window and one in my kitchen cabinets and we sure as hell can’t tell them you got shot that’s clear,” Maia says and it reminds Alec that oh, yeah there’s a bullet still lodged in his shoulder. Now that the rage has faded and definitely some of the extra juice he had from the brains earlier has depleted he can feel the sharp sting of it. “Iz go grab him a shirt so we can cover that up before those sirens get here.”

“But,” she starts and Alec cuts her off.

“It’ll be fine, just gotta dig the thing out and it’ll heal right up,” he moans as moves a bit jostling his shoulder. Isabelle looks at him like he’s insane. “I’m a zombie, Iz, I’ve got this crazy super-healing and it’s a long-complicated story that’s gonna have to wait, but that’s it.” 

Isabelle’s eyes go comically wide for a moment and then she squints appraising him quickly.

“Well, fuck that explains a lot of things these last few months,” she says with a shrug before rushing off to the spare bedroom.

Alec just laughs, Magnus however stares after her a little bewildered.

“Now you get how stunned I was when you were so cool about catching me with brains hanging out of my mouth,” Alec chuckles as he shifts to sit more fully on the ground beside Magnus.

Things move fast after that Maia gets their stories straight in seconds, Alec throws on a black t-shirt that hides his wound and grits his teeth while he makes his statement to the cops. The man Alec damn near killed gets hauled away raving about Alec being some sort of doped up fiend. The cops wave it off, he’s a known drug dealer who got off on a technicality that just broke into the home of a detective with the intent to harm, no one’s buying his attempt to paint anyone else as the villain here.

Eventually all the cops and EMTs are gone and it’s just the four of them sitting in the living room together Alec explaining everything he can to Isabelle and Maia. Maia looks a little weary but mostly just grateful considering if he hadn’t been here things could’ve been a lot worse. Izzy however listens close, takes in all the science they both have to share and when they’ve finally run out of things to say she rushes at him barreling into a tight hug.

“I love you my big zombie brother,” she says as she squeezes him tight. It’s not the ideal way he wanted her to find out, but she knows and she’s seemingly entirely okay with the situation so he can’t find it in him to be upset about this turn of events. He does however wince when she squeezes a little too tight.

“Oh, shit, bullet,” she says with an apologetic smile pulling back from him. She moves to the side handing Magnus the first aid kit she keeps at Maia’s so he can get to work.

“We should pull that out of you, hot stuff,” Magnus says as he moves to where Izzy had been sitting on the table in front of Alec.

Maia snorts, “That’s what he said.” She then stands, a tittering Izzy following right behind her as they head to the kitchen to make some coffee, the sun already peeking through the now plastic covered window. Alec and Magnus roll their eyes in unison.

Alec shucks off his shirt and Magnus gets to work in silence as the scent of freshly brewed coffee permeates the air, god does Alec wish he could still taste coffee.

“Ah ha,” Magnus says triumphantly as he eases the bullet from Alec’s skin with the tweezers in his hand he drops it into a bowl that they’ll definitely be throwing away beside him then turns back to Alec with a bright smile. Alec can already feel the skin and muscle slowly stitching itself back together, a little slower than usual. It’s no doubt he’s in need of some fuel after expending so much energy in rage mode.

Magnus pulls off his gloves depositing them in the bowl as well still smiling. Alec watches him with a small smile and realizes in that second just how in love with Magnus Bane he is. Magnus Bane who’s been such a steady force during the weirdest time of his life, Magnus Bane who just pulled a bullet from his shoulder like it was an average weekly event for them not making the don’t you dare do that again speech he so very clearly wants to make.

Alec really, really loves him.

“I love you,” he says with a no doubt dopey smile on his face. “I’m so ridiculously in love with you.”

Magnus turns to him from where he’d been rifling through the first aid kit and his lips turn up in an even brighter small adoring smile.

“I love you too,” he says shifting forward to tip his forehead against Alec’s. “I’m so ridiculously in love with you too.”

Alec smiles lifting his arms up to curl around Magnus and keep him close.

And in that moment he knows everything is going to be okay. Yes, he’s a zombie, but he’s a zombie with the three most important people in his life right by his side rooting for him and not giving a damn that his food pyramid is just a big old map of the human brain.

He’s got his sister and a fairly terrifying detective who’ll cover up any evidence of what he is without question from here on out and he’s got the love his life fighting for him and with him.

Maybe one day they’ll find more zombies or at least the one poor bastard who made him and doesn’t have the calming presence of a Magnus in his life to pull him back from the brink. Maybe they’ll find a cure tomorrow or five years from now or maybe that little conversation topic that Magnus has slyly inserted once or twice about just saying fuck it and letting Alec scratch him so they can slowly grow old together will become a big conversation topic.

No matter what, Alec knows it going to be okay, they’re going to be okay, because he’s the luckiest damn zombie in the world.

Chapter Text

Alec wakes up to the view of sun streaming across the broad expanse of his boyfriend’s glorious back. He’s still not quite used to seeing this sight every morning, they officially moved in together nearly six months ago, but it still feels brand new. He smiles rubbing at his eyes a bit before reaching out a hand to run along the smooth skin and that’s when he notices it.

Two long faint red lines run down Magnus’ back from shoulder to the midway point. If Alec’s condition allowed for him to actually have a heart attack he’s pretty sure he’d be having one right this second. He shoots up immediately, pulling his hand back from Magnus like he’s been burned.

Last night, they’d gone out to some club Alec had no real interest in, but he had full interest in the way Magnus danced up close to him the entire night his breath hot on his skin. They’d barely made it out of the club before they were all over each other and Alec very distinctly recalls his hands running along Magnus’ skin in that exact spot as his boyfriend blanketed his body and pressed him into the mattress.

No, he thinks. No. No. No.

He’s been careful, so fucking careful since he and Magnus got together a little over a year ago. He trims his nails every single day, sometimes twice a day never letting them get anywhere near long enough to make any sort of impact on skin.

“Alexander,” Magnus mumbles only moving his head to blearily look at Alec over his shoulder. “It’s far too early for you to be moving around so much on our off day.”

Alec doesn’t say anything, he just keeps staring at the faint red lines on Magnus’ back. Evidently the look on his face is some level of alarming because Magnus shoots up to sit right alongside them. He twists his back so it’s no longer facing Alec and reaches up a hand to cup his cheek gently.

“Alec, what’s wrong? You’re so white,” Magnus says eyes serious, but with a tilt of his lips. “Well, whiter than usual.”

And Alec would usually laugh at the joke, but he can’t stop seeing those red lines even though they’re no longer in his line of sight.

“Alec,” Magnus says again gripping his cheek a bit to pull Alec’s focus.

Alec finally breaks free of his panicked daze and responds, his voice coming out a little hollow.

“There’s two scratches on your back,” he says not daring to inch any closer to Magnus’ warmth, going against every instinct his body knows.

Magnus drops his hand from Alec’s cheek twisting around so that his back is facing the vanity off to the side of their bed. He reaches a hand around to his back running his fingers lightly along the base of the faint red marks.

Alec absentmindedly reaches down to his own arm tracing the faint pink lines that are the only scar he’s received since turning into a zombie over a year ago.

“Well it doesn’t look like the skin broke,” Magnus says twisting back like this isn’t a huge deal. “So it’s okay.”

Alec’s eyes go wide, “Magnus this is definitely not okay, I know from firsthand experience a turn scratch heals fast so we can’t be sure it didn’t break the skin initially, we were a little distracted last night to notice.”

Magnus gives him a wicked little smile that Alec just glares at. He’s clearly taking this much more seriously than his boyfriend.

Magnus rolls his eyes, pushing back the covers and standing from the bed. He searches the floor for a pair of pants pulling on the pair of tight black skinny jeans Alec had happily peeled him out of the night before.

“We can be sure,” he says zipping up his jeans and walking out of the room immediately. Alec scrambles out of bed to follow him grabbing a pair of yoga pants off the floor that are actually Magnus’ and throwing them on.

He finds Magnus in their makeshift lab, a second bedroom that they’ve been using for all things Team Z research related since a nosy janitor very nearly outed their whole operation to their bosses at the morgue. Alec’s eternally grateful they have a cop on their side in Maia, because if anyone ever tried to find purpose to search their apartment they’d immediately suspect Alec and Magnus were modern day doctor Frankenstein’s. 

There are six rat cages in the corner, four of which have red eyed white rats in them; a variety of varying colored labeled liquids are on every available surface and a full human brain soaks in bright blue liquid dead center on the long table. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in like a fancy, terrifying centerpiece. And that doesn’t even cover the brains in the fridge and the frozen one next to the mint chocolate chip ice cream. Alec may work for the coroner’s office, not the actual police department but he knows enough about the law to know that all of that screams immediate jail time.

By the time Alec steps in Magnus is already taking his own blood sample placing a drop on a fresh slide and under the lens of the microscope. If Alec weren’t in such a panic about the fact he may have just made his boyfriend into a zombie accidentally he’d take the time to appreciate the site of a shirtless, pants unbuttoned Magnus bent over a long table in full competent scientist mode. Throw on a white lab coat and lose the pants and it’d be a living, breathing fantasy of Alec’s.

“All clear,” Magnus says standing back up straight and pulling away from the microscope gesturing for Alec to take a look for himself.

“You exhibited clear changes and symptoms within six hours of being scratched,” Magnus continues on as Alec looks at the slide for himself. Everything looks normal, the sample an average every day, completely human blood sample. “My blood is normal, I’ve got no sudden paleness, nor a white streak in my hair. All clear. See.”

Alec looks up at Magnus. His boyfriend smiling and ruffling his own hair around to prove the point that it’s still all pure black aside from the streak of dark red near the front.

“Thank god I didn’t purposefully do a white streak in my hair like on your birthday so that we could match,” Magnus says with a chuckle resting his hands on his hips. “That would’ve been deeply unfortunate timing.”

Alec lets out a long relieving breath finally allowing himself to chuckle a little. There’s no longer a damning pressure in his chest, but he still keeps his distance his hands firmly clasped behind his back.

“That was way too close of a call,” Alec says. Magnus steps forward and against all instinct Alec takes one of his own back.

Magnus sighs stepping forward again, effectively trapping Alec between his body and the table.

“I’m fine, love,” he says reaching up his hands to rest on Alec’s bare chest rubbing his thumbs lightly into the soft hair there. “No brain cravings here. Just a craving for a giant bowl of Lucky Charms and for my boyfriend to not be afraid to touch me.”

Alec still keeps his hands behind his back but tilts his head forward to rest against Magnus’.

“But what if-“

“No what if’s,” Magnus interrupts hovering a finger over Alec’s lips to stop him. “If we spend all our time thinking about what if’s we’ll drive ourselves crazy. And we’ve talked about it before, if it ever did happen, it’s okay.”

They have talked about it, at great length. Tentatively agreeing that as long as Magnus chose it for himself that maybe one day he’d purposefully let Alec scratch him so they no longer had to worry, so that they could live out Alec’s now extended lifespan together. But they agreed that it wouldn’t come to that until every possible attempt at a cure had been exhausted and failed. They’re definitely not anywhere near that point yet, not with all the new data Magnus has gained since they tracked down another zombie from the boat party that fateful night.

“Only if it’s on your terms,” Alec says. “Me not being able to keep my hands off you in a moment of passion is not the same thing as what we’ve talked about.”

“Not the worst way either though,” Magnus jokes clearly trying to lighten the mood.

“Magnus,” Alec says seriously.

“I know,” he says tone turning just as serious. “I know, it didn’t happen though. You’re always so careful, and I know you, I know you’re going to be even more cautious now. Promise me you won’t overthink this?”

Alec nods leaning in to press a light kiss to Magnus’ lips.

“Promise.”

***

Alec keeps his promise for exactly six hours. Only letting himself fret over it when he goes to the bathroom to take a shower and trims his nails down so low that if he experienced pain a little more sharply he’d be in some right in the moment.

If it wouldn’t look terrifying and probably grow right back he might consider just getting rid of his nails all together. However strong his desire to protect Magnus is though, his desire to not use a torture technique invented by a James Bond villain on himself by ripping out his own nails is quite prevalent as well.

He’ll have to brainstorm other, less macabre solutions later when Magnus won’t notice him fretting.

Later in the evening, after a day of lazing around and Magnus very clearly keeping Alec distracted from the morning’s events, Magnus gets a video call from his best friend Catarina who still works at the CDC and has become an inducted member to their Z is for real damn Zombie world. She’s all in now, even making and buying them all matching Team Z t-shirts that they wear when they have group meetings on any updates they all have. He’s deep in conversation with her when Alec tells him he’s going to the store to pick up some ingredients to make dinner.

It’s not a lie, they have brains, two bananas, a tub of ice cream and hot sauce in their kitchen and damn if he can’t taste things, but he can still cook. He makes a detour before the store however, paying a visit to his new friend and fellow zombie, Aline.

They’d found Aline by complete accident three months ago, her name never turning up on any police records from that night because much like Alec she’d woken up and ran before anyone could ID her. Unlike Alec she’d been surviving off the bare minimum of brains sneaking them from test labs at her mother’s research facility. Maia had met her when questioning her about a neighbor that’d been linked to a homicide and tipped Alec off about the white streak in her hair and the weird tinted smoothie she’d been drinking.

Alec’s been sharing his much easier to access supply with her ever since, saving her from going to her mother’s work for deeply uncomfortable surprise weekly lunches. On top of that they’ve become good friends, realizing they have a lot in common and becoming double date buddies once she’d met and told her girlfriend about her new condition.

As far as they can figure, they’re the only two zombies out there. Save for the man they’ve both identified as the same one who scratched them on the boat, a man who still remains unfindable despite their extensive searches and Maia’s questionable uses of police facial recognition systems.

Aline’s a decorator at a local bakery, so the science of what’s happening to them admittedly goes over her head mostly, but she’s never had any close calls that Alec knows of like the one he’s just had and he hopes she can provide some insight.

She lets him in immediately after he knocks and hands him a Bloody Mary, mostly hot sauce, as he settles on the couch and tells her about his stressful morning that should have just been filled with morning sex and maybe making that whole lab coat fantasy of his come true.

He accidentally tells her the last part.

“Well, I didn’t need to know that,” she says making a scrunched-up face from her spot sitting cross legged on her coffee table.

“Sorry,” he mumbles taking a sip of his drink, the hot sauce lighting up the inside of his mouth pleasantly.

“But to answer your question, fake nails,” she says sitting her drink down and lifting both hands up to face level for Alec to see. Her nails are still pretty short, trimmed neatly with no sharp edges like any queer person that doesn’t have a partner with a pain fetish should. But they’re a little too perfect he notices for the first time. Glossy shades of pink and red, all uniformed with a tiny lipstick tube emoji on the middle finger of her right hand. Her natural nails are starting to peek out at the bottom as well.

“Fake nails?” he asks.

Aline nods, “Yup, it’s how I haven’t had any close calls with Helen.” She lowers her hands picking her drink back up and taking a quick sip before continuing on.

“It was never really my thing before, and even after this happened I kept my distance anyways. But, then I met Helen and I figured I need a long-term solution just in case,” she explains. “So, I still keep my natural nails short, like as short as humanly or zombie-ly possible, but as an added protective shield I get short acrylics done about every four weeks.”

“Once a month?” Alec asks stunned, he doesn’t know much about fake nails, but he does know that Isabelle went through a phase in their teen years that drained her allowance to pennies every single time she went to the salon. He also remembers the frightening lengths her fake nails reached. Alec makes decent money at his job, but honestly the cost of hot sauce in bulk alone feels like it’s soaking up more of his budget than all the other food he used to buy when he needed to eat it.

“It’s not as expensive as it sounds,” Aline says waving him off with a dramatic gesture once again showing off her nails. “The girl who does mine gives me a good deal. Plus the shorter and simpler, the cheaper. It’s worth the extra hit to the monthly budget if it prevents accidentally turning my girlfriend of two months into a brain eater. Most people don’t have to change them that often, but since we’re doing this for a particular safety reason it’s become my go to time frame. It’s not like there’s any real risk of damage to our nails since we heal so fast.”

Alec bites his lip thinking about the solution. It’s clearly working for Aline and would add a level of security he can’t guarantee with his own nail maintenance alone. It wouldn’t affect his work since he wears gloves 98% of the time anyways and he sure as hell doesn’t think getting your nails done is just for girls or any dumb gendered bullshit like that. He is however a little concerned he can’t pull off the look.

Then again it wouldn’t be all that different from the few times Magnus has convinced him to let him paint his short natural nails.

“I thought you and Magnus had had the whole turn talk and were cool with it?” Aline asks.

Alec sighs rubbing at the light stubble on his chin, “We have and we are, but that’s a last resort if we exhaust all cure options unsuccessfully. I have faith in Magnus’ ability that it won’t come to that, but even if it ever did, it can’t be like it would have been last night.”

Aline nods in understanding. “Gotcha,” she says. “An active mutual choice, not a mid-bone whoopsies.”

Alec makes a face, “Never use the phrase mid-bone whoopsies, ever again.”

Aline chuckles resituating herself on the coffee table in a complex twist that somehow doesn’t even slosh a single bit of her drink in the process.

“I’m due for some new ones this week, I could get you an appointment too?” she prompts.

“I-“ Alec starts and okay, maybe it’s an insane idea, but it’s worth one shot right? For Magnus. For his own piece of mind. If he really doesn’t like it he can just always revisit the laser nail removal idea he’d had on the walk over. Or gloves, he thinks suddenly, he could wear gloves when they have sex. Isn’t that a sexy idea?

“Sure, why the hell not,” he says immediately shooting down the glove idea his mind had just attempted to supply him with.

“Fantastic,” she says smiling as she pulls out her phone shooting off a text to let her nail technician know she’s bringing a friend.

***

Alec doesn’t mention his drop by to Aline’s or his Tuesday after work appointment to Magnus when he gets home. He just makes dinner and curls up with him on the couch sappily feeding each other pasta.

The work week starts, he gets a fancy new brain from a douchey defense lawyer who got crushed by his own refrigerator after coming home from a trial where he got a serial assaulter off of charges for the fifteenth time in two years. Sometimes karmic justice just makes the brains taste better.

By Tuesday he’s all but forgotten about the Sunday morning incident. He’s kept his promise, he hasn’t fretted constantly and refused to touch his boyfriend. Sure, Magnus has been the big spoon the past few nights and Alec’s been going on early morning runs and showering before Magnus is even awake, but that’s totally a coincidence. Totally.

Alec’s appointment with Aline perfectly matches up with Magnus and Maia’s bi-monthly, pun absolutely intended, no Lightwood’s allowed dinner, so he doesn’t have to come up with some poorly executed excuse about where he’s actually going. For a man who was in the closet for 23 years and now has the biggest secret a person can have he’s a terrible liar.

Alec meets Aline outside of a tiny hole in the wall nail salon and tugs him over to a station in the back where a smiling woman waits for them. Maureen, as she introduces herself, gets to work on Aline’s nails first. She gestures to the book at the end of her station for Alec to take a look at and decide what he’d like while she removes Aline’s current nails and replaces them with nails that resemble the shine of the galaxy.

Alec chuckles when he spots the little green alien head emoji on the middle finger this time.

Aline shrugs, “Helen’s taking me to a best of X-Files marathon this weekend, seemed fitting.”

Alec goes back to the book after that, looking for something subtle and simple not wanting to quite hit emoji levels just yet. He lands on an easy matte black shade with length a comfortable tiny length above where he’d kept his nails prior to his zombie change. It’s an easy, short cut and not all that different from the black shade Magnus has used on his nails in the past.

Maureen gets to work on his nails with a smile after she’s finished up with Aline. They chat idly asking Alec about his reasoning for the nail job.

“I don’t get a lot of guys in here admittedly, so I’m curious,” she says placing the first nail on his left hand. Alec makes up a brushing excuse about messing up his own nails so much he wanted to try something new.

They chat easily after that, happy for a subject change that doesn’t involve lying when Aline mentions Magnus. Maureen seems to have a whole lot of unsuccessful tales in her romantic life and loves hearing about others successes.

He tips her well when all’s done and walks out of the salon with Aline staring down at his fresh new nails. It looks…good, maybe. Definitely not bad. His fingers feel a bit more weighted than usual, but it’s a sensation he’s sure he can get used to in no time. He adapted to eating brains, he can adapt to a little extra weight on his nails.

“Magnus is gonna love them,” Aline says punching him in the shoulder fondly finally getting him to look up from his own nails with a smile.

He and Aline split a cab and Alec beats Magnus home eating some leftover brain pasta from the other night, extra spicy. He’s lying on the couch flipping idly between one of the Real Housewives shows that he shouldn’t be watching, but totally is and a nature documentary he absolutely is paying attention to when a key turns in the front door and Magnus walks in.

Alec flips back to the nature documentary quickly.

Magnus snorts as he tosses his keys and wallet in the bowl by the door.

“We both know you’re watching Real Housewives; you don’t have to impress me with your documentaries. Atlanta, Beverly Hills or New York?”

Alec rolls his eyes turning off the television completely.

“Atlanta,” he mumbles. Magnus chuckles walking over towards the couch and dropping down. His eyes shut as he shifts and stretches out to lay his head on Alec’s thigh.

They quietly talk for a while, Alec stroking his fingers through Magnus’ hair loosening the product in it a bit. Magnus talks about dinner and tells Alec that Maia and Isabelle miss them dearly.

Alec keeps moving his fingers through his boyfriend’s hair, Magnus hums a bit at the feel of it eyes still closed not yet noticing his new nails.

“Did you do anything exciting after work?” Magnus asks reaching up to remove Alec’s hand from his hair and entangle their fingers together over his heart. His eyes open suddenly once their hands are curled together entirely, likely noticing the bite of his slightly longer than he’s ever known them to be nails.

He picks up Alec’s hand hovering it over his face to study.

“Did you get your nails done?”

“Possibly,” Alec says a little nervously. Magnus sits up still holding Alec’s hand running his thumb over the acrylics.

Magnus smiles a bit looking up from Alec’s hands with a small smile. A smile that then suddenly drops.

“Wait,” he says, gripping Alec’s hand tightly. “You didn’t just do this because of what happened the other day?”

“Kind of,” Alec shrugs tilting his head down and moving to entwine their free hands together as well. “I talked to Aline and she suggested it, and I know you said not to worry, but I’m going to worry. I’m going to keep worrying and if something as simple as acrylic nails can prevent me from worrying then it’s a small price to pay.”

Magnus moves their joined hands to look at them once again.

“You didn’t have to change something about yourself,” Magnus says. “Not that it looks bad, at all.” He adds on looking up at Alec with a little smirk.

“I know, but I wanted to try something. If it means keeping you a little safer it’s worth it. It also might be a one-time deal,” Alec replies.

Magnus smiles leaning in and kissing Alec lightly on the lips.

“So, what do you think of them?” he asks when he pulls back.

“I think I kinda like them,” Alec says. “It’s a lot like when you paint them, just got to get used to it a bit.”

He untangles one of his hands from Magnus’ inspecting his nails once again.

“I think I like them a lot,” Magnus says standing up from the couch and tugging Alec up with him. He pulls Alec in close, chest to chest.

“Yeah?” Alec says with a faux shyness, all nerves gone and just flirtation at the forefront of his mind.

“Yeah,” Magnus smirks leaning in to place a slow, sensual kiss on Alec’s lips. He places Alec’s hands on his hips as he breaks the kiss, encouraging them up under his shirt. “I like that you’re stupidly noble and did this for me. I like that you kind of like them. I also think it’s an incredibly sexy look on you.”

“Sexy, huh?” Alec smirks, slowly backing Magnus up against the nearest wall.

“Very,” Magnus says when his back thumps lightly against the wall. “Would you like to see how much?”

Alec nods enthusiastically laughing as Magnus slips out from under his body heat and pulls him towards their bedroom.

***

“You have to let me come next time you go get your nails done,” Magnus says the next morning over breakfast their hands entwined as they sit close together.

Alec huffs, “I said it might be a one-time thing.”

“I think we both know after last night, it’s definitely not going to be a one-time thing,” Magnus smirks before popping a strawberry in his mouth.

And, okay he’s got Alec there. He’s been long astounded by how well they work together in every aspect, but especially when it comes to the bedroom. Somehow last night had been better than ever before. Alec didn’t have watch how he touched, didn’t have to hold back from gripping tight onto Magnus’ hips the way he knows Magnus wants him to. There are little crescent indents on Magnus’ hips right now that won’t result in a sudden brain craving and that’s never been possible for them.

After that morning Alec adapts to the nails pretty quickly in most aspects, but damn near loses his mind every time he snaps a pair of gloves on at the morgue. It’s not that the nails are even that long, but they’re just long enough they try their damndest to break through every pair. Magnus just laughs at him every time they snap or snag on the ends of his fingers as he frustratingly tugs them off.

They have dinner with Isabelle and Maia after a day of nails vs. gloves and Maia absolutely loves what Alec’s doing, applauding the genius of Aline. Isabelle does the same, but also makes Alec promise they’ll go together soon and get a matching set to make up for him never letting her do his nails when they were kids.

By the time to change them comes around he’s already starting to think about what he wants them to look like next and he’s proud to say he’s adapting slightly better to the whole glove situation. Aline texts him a few days before it’s officially a month letting him know she’s going early to get some horror themed nails for a movie fest she’s attending over the weekend and Alec declines keeping his promise that Magnus gets to come along this time.

A few days later he’s at the salon with Magnus flipping through Maureen’s book together, Maureen cooing over how cute they are the entire time. With his boyfriend’s help he picks a slightly flashier, but still subtle set of glossy black and silver glittering designs.

The other people at work start to notice them this time. Especially now that he’s figured out how to get his gloves on and off more easily. They mostly ignore them, except for Lydia who works at the front desk and always has acrylics of her own that have to be at least a foot long with dangling gems and intricate patterns on them. They’re a little tacky and her enthusiasm is definitely a lot to take in, but she does give Alec a few tips and design ideas he plans to try out in the future.

Over the next six months, with Magnus and unexpectedly front desk Lydia’s help he chooses a new design every month. He and Isabelle get a matching set of pride themed nails in June and instead of going all-American in July Magnus talks him into a shade of bright pink that matches the current streak of color in Magnus’ hair.

“It’s for the matching aesthetic, pretty boy,” Magnus says when he questions the blindingly bright shade.

He gets ones that look like red and white marble just because he thinks it’s neat and with Maureen’s gentle persuasion he goes back to the matte black, but this time with a little ring of gems centered on each finger. By October he’s so into it, he gets Halloween themed ones done, taking a cue from Aline each nail sports a different little spooky themed emoji. In November he goes full fall with amber and gold tones and falling leaves on his thumbs.

As time passes more and more people throw out ideas for Alec to try. Cat’s young daughter Madzie suggests his December look when they come to visit just before the new month and he can’t say no to the little girl. Frozen characters adorn every nail till the end of the year and he doesn’t mind the chuckles he gets from everyone that notices because the beaming joy on Madzie’s face when she sees them over video chat is worth everything.

He goes back to simple but always color coordinated choices after that. When he’s nearing his two-year zombie-versary he cheekily requests another set of custom nails with brains on them.

Right around the same time they finally find the zombie that turned he and Aline that night so long ago. Maia flashes the sketch she’d had Alec do with their sketch artist to an informant who recognizes the man immediately. Unfortunately Victor Aldertree, as he once was, has gone full Romero completely beyond saving somehow locking himself in his basement with no cell service or way out desiccating away.

They have to take him out of his misery and it’s the hardest day Alec’s had since the day he woke up in the body bag.

It gets a little less hard when they look around the basement and find that Victor Aldertree had been cooking and dealing a collection of addictive designer drugs. He doesn’t feel so bad for the guy anymore.

It does all lead to some breakthroughs in their research though. Whatever made him this way came from a bad batch of drugs. The problem is Aldertree has over a hundred batches in his little breaking bad basement. It’s going to take them months, maybe years and definitely a whole lot of unfortunate rats to figure out which batch is responsible and then even more time after that for Magnus to reverse engineer it into a cure even with Isabelle and Catarina’s help.

Aldertree may have been a disgusting drug creep in life, but he was an organized disgusting drug creep with a nice label maker. Every batch has a name on the plastic container and a detailed ingredient list in a ledger they find. Some have admittedly creative names like floating nightshade, Caligula Belfry and garden of Eden. Honestly if life had gone differently for the departed drug dealer he could have had a career in naming makeup products or Game of Thrones characters.

Maia works tirelessly when she’s not on a case to track down everyone Aldertree sold to, luckily finding no zombies along the way. At least not yet. Which is fine, him and Aline have a nice little two’s company thing going on. Finding another zombie would be bad, but also could be good. Bad because it’s another zombie out there who might make more zombies, when all Alec wants is to keep this as contained as possible. Good because they wouldn’t have to keep testing the drugs and could just know which one was responsible.

A month later Magnus is working away on batch number 22, named utopium according to the laminated label, when Alec comes home from the nail salon. Alec wraps his arms around Magnus’ waist and Magnus doesn’t even flinch just keeps working away at labeling his own test batches, writing a few notes down about the black rat in front of them.

Alec doesn’t mind he just stays where he is comfortably folding together his hands with his freshly done nails on Magnus’ stomach. The fresh design is a surprise just for Magnus.

Despite the fact that things have been crazy lately with the Aldertree development and the rise of their free time spent researching instead of anything else, Alec’s been thinking about the future. They’ve put the zombie Magnus talk on hold with a cure feeling so very possible now, but it’s still there if the time comes.

The rest of the future is still crystal clear to Alec though. It’s a future with Magnus, he sees marriage and maybe one day if their life is a little less z-nation with drug dealers and zombie rats even kids. But marriage is the priority. There’s a ring in his back pocket that’s been burning a hole there for the last month. He’d been planning to propose the day they’d killed an enraged zombie man and found a drug den which didn’t really seem like a romantic mood setter effectively putting his plans on hold.

It takes a few minutes, but eventually Magnus acknowledges his presence slipping off the thick framed glasses that he so rarely wears, but Alec loves.

“Hello, love,” he says turning in Alec’s arms leaning in to kiss Alec on the lips lightly.

Alec replies in kind smiling when he pulls back.

“So, what’d you get this time? The teal we talked about or the forest green with the little diamonds that’ll match that suit you’re going to look very hot in at my high school reunion next month?” Magnus asks. Alec unfolds his hands and moves them from around Magnus, ready to show them off. Magnus holds up a finger, signaling he wait just a second and spins around to grab his glasses and slip them back on.

Alec’s grateful for it since he’s gonna need Magnus to look at the nails very closely this time.

Magnus lifts Alec’s hands inspecting them left to right when he freezes looking up at Alec with wide eyes beneath his thick Clark Kent style frames.

Alec smiles confidently nodding as Magnus looks back down at his boyfriend’s hands reading the words painted across them one more time. Broken up across his old trusty plain black matte nails are the words ‘Will U Marry this Zombie?’ in bright pink with a little pink brain on his last free finger.

It’d been another custom request and a weird explanation to Maureen about an inside joke involving Alec’s behavior in the mornings and his unwillingness to get out of bed, but it’d been the perfect, cheesy way for him to propose after his planned grand romantic dinner had been thwarted by a dead drug dealer.

A simple thing he does on the monthly that’s become something they do together and, as luck would have it, to do it in this room where they’ve spent countless hours flirting and talking and researching together feels like the ideal fit. It’s a room that’s shaped their relationship, it’s also the room where he got to make that naked Magnus in a lab coat fantasy come true eventually.

“Alexander,” Magnus says reverently looking back up at Alec still holding his hands softly.

“Well,” Alec says still smiling a no doubt dopey looking smile. “Will you marry this zombie?”

Magnus laughs before dropping his hands and launching himself at Alec wrapping his arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.

“Yes,” he says into the space where his face is pressed up against Alec’s neck. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”

He pulls back kissing Alec and for a few minutes Alec loses all sight of time and presence of mind for what he’s doing.

“Is that a ring in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” Magnus asks suddenly pulling back from the kiss. His hands are both behind Alec, gripping his ass with a cheeky smile. The ring. Right. Magnus said yes so he should probably give that to him.

“Both,” Alec nods and pulls the ring from his pocket, it’s a simple silver band with a thin line of dark blue running through. It’s simpler than any ring Magnus wears on his off days or nights out, but it reminded him of Magnus for some reason.

“I love it,” Magnus says as Alec slips it onto his ring finger. He admires the ring for a moment before pulling Alec’s hand back up to look at his nails. He smiles shaking his head fondly as he runs his fingers along the words.

“I can’t believe you proposed to me on your acrylic nails,” he chuckles looking up at Alec fondly. “I have the cheesiest zombie fiancé in the world.”

Alec huffs out a little laugh pulling Magnus back in close.

“As far as we know I’m the only zombie fiancé in the world,” he says with a tilt of his head.

Magnus hums wrapping his arms back around Alec’s neck, pressing them impossibly closer together.

“Lucky me.”

Alec smiles bringing Magnus’ lips to his, curling his hands into his fiancé’s waist the safe bite of his acrylic proposal nails holding on strong. And yes, his genius fiancé might have a cure by then, but he’s already thinking about what kind of nails he’ll do for their wedding, because he knows one day forever zombie couple or not the nails are a new permanent fixture for him.