Magnus didn’t know why he had agreed to babysit Alec’s little brother.
Okay, that was a lie; he knew exactly why he had agreed, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t allowed to regret his poor decision-making. Alexander had looked so soft and worried and frazzled over this meeting he had to attend, so when he had explained that he needed someone to look after Max for him whilst he worked, Magnus had stepped in like his knight in shining armour and offered to do it himself.
His boyfriend had looked so relieved and happy that he hadn’t wanted to admit that he had never babysat anyone in his life, except maybe Clary when she was younger, but she was basically his little sister, so that didn’t really count.
Now there he was, facing an eight-year-old with a serious face just like Alec’s, realising that he had no clue how to take care of a child, and certainly not his partner’s little brother who looked highly unimpressed by his mere presence.
“You’re Alec’s boyfriend?” Max Lightwood said once Alexander left the room with a promise to be back as soon as possible. “The one he’s been talking about for months?”
“Um, yes, that’d be me,” Magnus smiled awkwardly. “I’m Magnus Bane, and it’s a pleas-”
“I know who you are,” Max rolled his eyes. “And I know what you’re doing here. You just want to impress Alec by showing him that you can take care of me. His last boyfriend did the same thing. I don’t know what you’re trying to prove, but I don’t think it’s going to work. Have you ever even looked after a child before?”
Magnus gaped at the boy’s audacity. Was he this rude with all of his siblings’ significant others or was the sass reserved for Magnus only? Either way, he didn’t appreciate it, especially since he actually wanted the boy to like him.
“I have now,” he answered pettily. “And maybe I’m trying to impress Alexander, but we both know that he needed someone to watch over you today, so why not me? I’m sure that we’ll find something to do eventually. Do you like video games? Board games? Dressing up? Cards? Baking?”
“I like being left alone,” the younger boy glared. “And I don’t like being used as a way to get to my siblings. If you want Alec to like you, you’ll have to do a lot more than bribe me. It won’t work out otherwise.”
Before Magnus could say anything to defend himself, Max was stomping out of the living room and slamming the door to his bedroom. Their first meeting could have gone a little bit better, but Magnus wasn’t about to give up.
Sure, he was mostly doing this as a favour to Alexander, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be a good babysitter, right? And it certainly didn’t mean he was a bad boyfriend. He did plenty for Alec outside of looking after his siblings, and he didn’t think he needed Max’s approval to continue dating his brother.
Except if the boy said horrible things about Magnus to Alec, in which case he was completely screwed.
The panic started setting in, and Magnus hesitated. What was he supposed to do? He didn’t think that Max was hurting himself in his bedroom, and at least that way Magnus didn’t have to do anything, but a part of him wanted to prove that he could do this. If he couldn’t take care of an eight-year-old, how would Alec ever be able to trust him to be a competent parent in the future?
Not that they had talked about kids yet. It was way too early. Magnus’ heart simply hadn’t gotten the memo.
Deciding that he wasn’t ready to attempt a second conversation with Max quite yet, Magnus pulled out his phone and called the only person he could think of who might help him with this particularly sticky situation.
“Magnus, what is it?”
“Biscuit!” Magnus exclaimed a tad too enthusiastically. “I’ve got a bit of a problem, and I think that you’re the perfect person to help!”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, Magnus,” his sister in all but blood snorted. “But go ahead, tell me about this problem. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Right, so you know Alec?” he started. “My delightful boyfriend whom I love very much and for whom I would do just about anything? Well, he needed someone to look after his little brother today, and I jumped in to help. But now I’m faced with an eight-year-old who doesn’t want anything to do with me and seems to think that I’m worse than the devil. He doesn’t believe I’m good enough for Alec, refuses to be ‘used as a way to get to him’ and also slammed the door to his bedroom in a clear ‘i-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you’ way. Any ideas?”
“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t have accepted a job that you’re too inexperienced to handle,” Clary pointed out uselessly. “But have you tried suggesting activities? He’s a bit older than the kids I usually take care of, but it could still work.”
“Nope,” Magnus sighed. “It’s the first thing I tried with him, and he didn’t appreciate it. Maybe he just wants to be left alone. Would it be irresponsible to leave him alone? Would Alec hate me if he found out? Do you think Max is going to tell on me if I’m a terrible babysitter?”
“Yes, no, and yes,” Clary answered. “Look, just… Knock on his door and try to make amends with him? I don’t think it’s weird that he considers you as not good enough for Alec, but maybe if you spend time with him, he’ll realise that you’re not that bad? Also, please make sure that he doesn’t get hurt. I don’t think I could deal with Isabelle if her little brother gets harmed whilst my big brother is babysitting.”
“Ye of so little faith,” Magnus scoffed. “I can take care of a child, Clarissa. After all, who do you think babysat you when mom and dad needed a night alone? Certainly not the friendly neighbourhood ghost.”
“And certainly not you,” Clary teased. “I remember spending my nights begging you to play with me but being constantly denied because you were too cool to play pretend with your little sister. Face it, Magnus, you’re not the best with kids. I’m sure Alec will be amused and endeared and you’ll continue to be the sappiest couple in existence. Now, good luck with your demon child, I have things to do.”
“Clary, please don’t hang… up. Damn it, Fray.”
Magnus looked backed towards Max’s bedroom apprehensively. He was just a child. An angry child, sure, but still just an eight-year-old kid who wanted the best for his brother. Magnus couldn’t blame him for that; even he wasn’t convinced that he deserved Alec.
Steeling himself for the worst, he stepped closer to the door and knocked on it tentatively.
“Go away,” Max’s muffled voice called out. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
“I understand that,” Magnus answered. “But I’m going to be here for a while, so that’ll get inconvenient very fast. Look, Max, I’m sorry that you feel like I’m using you to get to Alexander, but I really just want us to get along.”
Max didn’t grace him with a reply, so he sighed and started walking away from the door, not wanting to force the boy into spending time with him. His heart still clenched painfully though, because he had truly been looking forward to getting to know the youngest Lightwood. Alexander only had good things to say about his little brother, and Magnus had not-so-secretly wanted to get along with his boyfriend’s favourite sibling.
He hadn’t even realised how much this meeting meant to him until the boy sniffed at him haughtily and refused to have anything to do with him. Magnus got on wonderfully with Isabelle, and even Jace was okay with him as long as he made Alec happy, so this show of intense dislike was unexpected.
He spent another half hour wallowing in misery, texting Clary and trying to tell himself that Alec wouldn’t break up with him just because his little brother didn’t like him. Still, dread clouded his judgement as he sat at the kitchen table, staring at his mug of hot chocolate listlessly.
Then, miraculously, he heard the sound of a door opening, followed by the small pitter-patter of footsteps. A few seconds later, Max was standing in the kitchen’s doorway, shuffling awkwardly from foot to foot. He looked like a younger version of Alexander and, even though he had been nothing but a brat since Magnus’ arrival, the man’s heart melted at the sight.
“Are you alright, Max?” he asked once the boy failed to say anything. “Did you need something?”
“I, um…” the boy started, not meeting Magnus’ eyes. “I smelled hot chocolate, and I was wondering if you could make one for me? Please? Alec has the best brand, and our parents never let me have any, so…”
For a moment, Magnus thought about denying the boy his wish to show that he had been entirely unimpressed by his earlier behaviour, but the blue eyes in front of him were wide and pleading, and Magnus had always been weak to such a look. Besides, he was the adult here, he had to be the bigger person. Maybe his chances of getting along with Alec’s little brother weren’t completely ruined.
“Of course I can make one for you,” he smiled, already turning around to prepare the delightful concoction. “I have to agree with you about Alec’s chocolate, it truly is something else. Now, I also happen to know where he keeps his secret stash of mini-marshmallows? Do you want some of those as well?”
“You know where they are?” Max exclaimed. “Alec never even told Izzy where to find them!”
“Mmm, well then, I guess I’m special like that,” Magnus grinned. “Does this mean that you do want some, or that you don’t? After all, if Alec managed to keep his secret for such a long time, perhaps I shouldn’t reveal it so easily…”
“No, no! I want some, please!” Max said hurriedly, rushing to sit down at the table. “Alec has such a sweet tooth that he almost always hides the good stuff from us.”
Magnus hesitated as he reached for the bag of marshmallows, wondering if his boyfriend would mind, but then remembered that he was trying to get on Max’s good side and that this was a step in the right direction. A little bit of bribing wouldn’t hurt anyone.
“Don’t tell Isabelle and Jason about this, though,” Magnus winked at the young boy conspiratorially. “They’ll never leave me alone if they find out that I know all of Alec’s secret hiding spots.”
“He has other ones?” Max gaped, taking the mug of hot chocolate from Magnus’ hand with a quick but grateful nod. “What does he hide in them? Information about his cases? Baby pictures?”
“Oh no, nothing like that,” Magnus laughed. “I thought you understood Alec’s passion for sweet things, but perhaps I overestimated you. He has a secret stash full of chocolate, and I mean full of it. There’s also a box of leftover pastries hidden on top of the pantry almost every morning, because he always gets too many for a single person. And then, of course, there’s the one for his Christmas cookies that I haven’t found yet, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get its location out of him soon.”
At the mention of Alec’s infamous holiday biscuits, Max’s eyes lit up and he launched into the tale of how the eldest Lightwood had come up with the recipe. Magnus smiled fondly at the young boy who was talking animatedly, a milk moustache adorning his features.
Maybe things weren’t as hopeless as he had believed.
“How long until Alec comes back?”
Magnus sighed at Max’s question. After their hot chocolate break, the young boy had gone back to giving Magnus the cold shoulder, although he had at least agreed to stay in the same room as the older man. Magnus was starting to suspect that whatever was bothering Max had nothing to do with him personally.
“At least another hour or two,” Magnus answered apologetically. “His meetings tend to run late. Are you sure that there’s nothing you’d like to do? You’ve been staring at the television for almost an hour even though that show is absolutely dreadful.”
Surprisingly, Max snorted at his words, quickly covering his slip-up with a cough. Magnus smirked victoriously but didn’t try to talk again; he didn’t want to scare the boy away with one of his scathing rants on cinematic and television disasters. Thankfully, it only took Max a few more minutes to work up the courage to speak to him.
“I wouldn’t mind doing something with you,” the dark-haired boy admitted, still staring at the TV intently. “Alec said… He told me that you work in design, right? So you probably know how to draw, even just a little bit?”
“Hmm, indeed I do,” Magnus smiled. “Art is more my sister’s thing, but I can handle a few sketches here and there. My work has nothing on her refined paintings, but it’s enough to get by in the fashion world so I’ve never tried to get better. Do you like to draw as well?”
“Yes!” Max nodded enthusiastically. “I mean, I prefer reading, but I also like drawing my favourite characters, and Alec always says that it’s good to have a creative outlet, whatever that means. I think he has some of the good paper stocked in his office, but I’m not allowed in there…”
“Luckily for you, I am,” Magnus winked, quickly making the trip to and from his boyfriend’s area and coming back with a stack of paper as well as a box of pencils, crayons, and pens that Alec had bought when he had learned about Magnus’ little hobby. “I hope these are good enough for you, Mister Lightwood.”
“They’re fine,” Max replied, reaching for a few pencils, and immediately starting to draw. Magnus mirrored his actions, mostly amused by the boy’s mood swings.
They stayed silent for twenty minutes, and Magnus took the time to start working on a project he had been thinking about for days. He hadn’t managed to get the colours right quite yet, and Alec’s limited supply wasn’t exactly helping, but he was getting somewhere, at least.
“I’ve never seen these pencils before,” Max said a while later. “Did you buy them for Alec?”
“No,” Magnus chuckled. “I don’t think he’d appreciate the gift very much, since his drawing skills are extremely questionable. He actually bought them for me once he realised that I liked to draw in my spare time.”
“So, do you… Spend a lot of time here?” Max asked, and Magnus hummed affirmatively. He knew that they were getting closer to uncovering whatever had been bothering the young boy at the beginning of the afternoon. “Oh, okay, but you don’t live here yet, right?”
“Not quite,” Magnus shrugged; he wasn’t about to tell Alec’s brother that he had been planning on asking the other man to move in with him soon. “And if we do end up living together, it’ll probably be at my loft. This place is much too… drab, don’t you think?”
“Alec’s not great at colours,” Max giggled. “I bet your house is a lot better than his.”
“Well, my couch certainly isn’t grey, that’s for sure,” Magnus grinned. “And my bed is a lot softer than his. My place is also a bit bigger and it’s closer to both of our workplaces.”
“So you want to live with him?” Max frowned, clearly understanding what Magnus wasn’t outright saying. “Because I think Alec wants to live with you too. He never told me, obviously, since he thinks I’m too little to hear about his relationship with you, but he really loves you.”
“I really love him too,” Magnus admitted softly, thinking about his wonderful boyfriend, the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. “Do you think you would mind if we moved in together?”
The change was instantaneous; Max pursed his lips thoughtfully and looked away from Magnus. His pencil stopped moving, and his grip tightened so much that his knuckles turned white.
“It would make Alec happy,” he finally said. The answer was a lot more diplomatic than what Magnus had expected, especially since this was clearly something that troubled Max. “He’s a lot happier with you than he’s ever been before, even with us, and I think he’d be even happier if he got to live with you.”
“I hope so,” Magnus smiled. “But that’s not what I asked, Max. Look, I can tell that you don’t really hate me, regardless of the little show you put on earlier, so why don’t you talk to me about what’s really bothering you? Is this about me spending too much time with Alexander?”
“No,” Max mumbled. “Not really. It’s just… His last boyfriend used to spend a lot of time here as well, and he even told me that he was going to move in once, even though it didn’t happen, and he didn’t like it when I was around. He always asked Alec to stop having me over so often, and if you two start living together…”
“Ah, you’re afraid that I won’t let you come over,” Magnus hummed. He had expected something along those lines, and the explanation made sense. Thankfully, dealing with abandonment issues was a lot easier than dealing with undeserved hatred. “Well then, if that’s the only problem you have with me, I can promise you that you have nothing to worry about. The guest room at my loft is bigger and better than the one here, and I don’t think that Alec would ever stop wanting to see you. If I move in with your brother, you’ll always be welcome at our home. I would never want to come between his family and him.”
“Really?” Max asked softly, his eyes bright and hopeful.
“Really,” Magnus nodded. “And did I mention that on top of better couches and beds, I also have a lot of drawing supplies?”
Alec’s brother beamed at his words, and Magnus thought that he had successfully broken through whatever barriers Max had put in place. And after that, he was more than happy to help the boy choose the perfect colours for his character’s clothes.
It was only hours later, once Max was fast asleep in Alexander’s guest bedroom, that Magnus got to speak to his boyfriend about his little brother’s worries.
The couple lay on Alec’s bed, Magnus tracing patterns on his boyfriend’s chest as he listened to his heartbeat. The apartment was silent, their lights dimmed, and Magnus had never felt more at peace. There was something about being so close to Alec that soothed his soul, and this night was no different.
“Did you know that Max was afraid I would try to make you stop seeing him?” he whispered against Alec’s neck.
“Hmm, I suspected,” his boyfriend answered sleepily. “But I thought that he would get over his fears once he realised that you’re nothing like my ex. It seems like I was right, since he couldn’t stop talking about you when I tried to get him to sleep. I think he’s a little bit enamoured with you.”
“Well, what can I say?” Magnus smiled. “I’m irresistible.”
“So this has nothing to do with my secret stashes of candy that have been thoroughly depleted?” Alexander asked him, turning to face him and meeting Magnus’ gaze with an amused glare. “Or with the crayons that I found scattered everywhere? Or with the hot chocolate you made for him?”
“Why, Alexander,” Magnus gasped in mock-offence. “Are you accusing me of bribing your little brother? Because I promise that I did nothing of the sort. I’m simply a very… convincing person.”
“That you are,” Alec chuckled. “I’m glad that Max likes you.”
“I’m glad he likes me too,” the older man sighed. “I was honestly worried that he would hate me and tell you all sorts of awful things about me to break us up. I’m happy that my worries were unfounded.”
“Ah, yes, Max did admit that he had a bit of a… moment in the beginning. I hope you didn’t panic too much; I know you don’t have much experience with kids, but this is completely normal. They get angry and sulky over the littlest things or bottle their feelings up until everything overflows. You were just at the wrong place at the wrong moment.”
“Well it’s good to know that it wasn’t anything I did,” Magnus smiled lopsidedly. “I have to admit that I may have panicked a little bit. Clary told me I was being dramatic, of course, but well…”
“You should listen to your little sister, Magnus,” Alexander laughed. “They’re often right when it comes to their big brother.”
“Speaking from experience?” Magnus raised his eyebrows playfully, thinking about Isabelle’s fierce protectiveness and ability to comfort Alec in less than a minute. “Did Max mention anything about me? Perhaps how amazing I am at drawing? Or how good I am at babysitting?”
“Well, there was something else…” Alec started, his eyes softening. He raised a hand to caress Magnus’ cheek and the older man melted into the touch. “Are you sure there’s nothing you want to tell me, though?”
“Um, I don’t think so?” Magnus murmured, Alec’s fingers distracting him as they mapped out his face as gently as always.
“I see,” Alexander hummed. “So you have nothing to do with Max’s sudden insistence that I should move into your loft?”
“Oh, Magnus,” his boyfriend shook his head fondly. “As if I would ever say no to living with you. I just wish that you had told me yourself; I’ve been waiting for you to ask the question for weeks.”
“You have?” Magnus whispered hopefully.
“Of course I have,” Alexander smiled beautifully. “Magnus, I love you more than anything in the world, of course I want to move in with you. If that’s what you want, obviously. I wasn’t sure if Max was being serious or not, since my siblings tend to get carried away easily.”
“Well, I don’t know if your brother was being serious, darling,” Magnus chuckled, before sobering up and looking at Alec with all of the love he felt for this wonderful man. “But I was. I want you to live with me, Alexander, for as long as you want me in your life. I want us to wake up together every day, even if it means I have to deal with your snoring indefinitely.”
“Hey! Stop with the snoring thing,” his boyfriend pouted. “If you’re rude to me, I might just say no to your offer.”
“Too late,” Magnus beamed. “You already said yes. But don’t worry, I still love you, snoring and all.”
“I know you do,” Alec murmured, leaning in to kiss Magnus softly, one of his arms curling around the older man’s waist protectively. Magnus kissed him right back, revelling in the feeling of his boyfriend’s body pressed against his. He couldn’t believe that he would get to fall asleep next to him every night, hopefully for the rest of his life.
“Oh, and before I forget,” Magnus said once they broke apart. His boyfriend hummed, clearly ready to fall asleep. “Do you think I could babysit Max again?”
Alexander didn’t answer, but the happy grin that adorned his lips was answer enough for Magnus. He couldn’t help but return it even as the other man started snoring. He was going to live with the man he loved.
He’d have to give Max the best present to thank him for his help.