The evening air is hot; the sun is almost gone, though, and Alec hopes it'll start to cool off soon. He can feel sweat beading on his forehead, and on the back of his neck. His shirt is sticking to his chest, and it doesn't help that he's been carrying his little brother, Max, on his back for about two blocks now. The kid is worse than a miniature heater, Alec thinks, but his feet had been hurting, and it's still a few blocks more to Magnus's apartment, and Alec couldn't let his little brother suffer, so he's doing it instead. Izzy offered to carry him a few blocks back, but in her tall heels and with the way everyone is pushing and shoving around on the sidewalk tonight, Alec was afraid of her tripping and them both getting hurt. So he carries Max instead.
It's July 4th, and everywhere Alec looks, all he can see is red, white, and blue. Usually he, Isabelle, and Jace would be on high alert tonight - demons love to come out on holidays, and Shadowhunters don't celebrate this one anyway. But Magnus is having a party, and Max has never seen fireworks before, and he was so excited that Alec just couldn't say no. Not that he really wanted to say it in the first place; even though he's not really one for parties, he wants every excuse he can to spend time with Magnus, now that they're dating.
"Do you think Magnus has crackers?"
Alec lifts his head up to look at Izzy, pulling himself from his thoughts and shaking his head to clear it. "Uh, what?"
"I said, do you think Magnus has crackers? For the dip I made?"
Alec looks at the container in Izzy's hand. She loves to cook, even though most people won't eat what she does. She isn't exactly the best chef, but she's passionate, and she's learning, so who's Alec to rip on her for that? So when she'd come to him yesterday and asked what to make for the party, that she wanted to bring something, he suggested she make a simple dip. Something light, and that everyone could enjoy.
They'd gotten a block from the Institute today before Izzy realized she'd forgotten it.
"I'm sure he does. Or some vegetables or something. If not, he could probably just... conjure some up," Alec says, waving his hand in the air to mimic Magnus doing magic, and Izzy smiles, glancing up at Max and making a funny face at him.
"How come Magnus couldn't just portal us there?" Max asks, and Alec shrugs.
"Because I figured he'd be busy and I didn't want to distract him. Look, we're almost there," Alec says, pointing to a building standing off in the distance, and Max makes a noise of relief.
"Good, because I've gotta go to the bathroom."
"I thought you went when we left," Alec says, sighing, and Max whines.
"I did! But I've gotta go again!" he says, and Izzy laughs.
They pick up the pace, making it into Magnus's building and stepping onto the elevator, Alec watching the numbers climb as they ride up to the top floor. Once the doors slide open, they step out into the hall, Alec lowering Max down and knocking on Magnus's tall, wooden front door. He can hear music and voices inside, and he wonders just who it is that got invited. Not a minute later and the door swings wide open, Magnus standing on the other side with a drink in his hand. He's wearing his favorite blue shirt, white eyeliner around his eyes and his nails painted dark red. He smiles.
"Max, Alexander, Isabelle! So glad you could make it," he says, and Max steps forward, hopping up and down.
"Can I use your bathroom, please?" he asks, and Magnus quickly steps aside.
"I'll take him," a voice offers, and Jace appears in the door, reaching down and taking Max's hand and leading him inside. "C'mon, buddy," he says.
Magnus glances up at Alec and gestures inside, he and Izzy walking into the apartment and Alec looks around. There's balloons everywhere, pop music blasting over the radio and the coffee table is covered with drinks and snacks, though there's hardly anyone here, much to Alec's surprise. Jocelyn and Luke are sitting on the couch, wearing huge plastic sunglasses that hardly fit on their faces, colorful leis necklaces around their necks and it looks like they're taking selfies. Alec smiles to himself, and that's when he spots Clary and Alaric coming out of the kitchen. They're talking excitedly, and like Magnus, Clary is decked head to toe in flag colors.
"I made this for you," Izzy says, Alec turning to look as she hands the dip to Magnus. "I hope you like it."
Magnus grins, taking the container and setting down his drink. "Thank you, Isabelle. There are some snacks out here, the rest of them and the drinks are in the kitchen," Magnus says, and Alec and Isabelle follow him.
The kitchen, like the rest of the apartment, is huge. There's storage everywhere, double-ovens built into the wall and a large island resting right in the middle of the room. That's where everything is laid out, and Magnus sets Izzy's dip with the rest of the food, turning around and smiling at them.
"Drinks?" he asks, and they both nod.
He starts to make some cocktails, Alec straightening his shirt before looking over at the round kitchen table and pausing, staring at a girl sitting there. She's young, scribbling in a coloring book, but she looks familiar, and Alec makes a small noise in the back of his throat, stepping closer to Magnus.
"Who's that?" he whispers, and takes the drink Magnus offers, Magnus looking over at her and chuckling.
"Oh, that's Zoe! Clary saved her after her father died, remember? I invited her, I thought she'd like to see the fireworks and this way Max has someone to hang out with. Speak of the devil!" Magnus says, handing Isabelle her drink and Alec turns, watching Jace and Max hurry into the kitchen, Max bouncing around excitedly.
"Can I have something to drink?" he asks, and Magnus maneuvers around to the fridge, pulling out a juice pouch and sticking the straw in, handing it down to Max.
"Max, there's someone I'd like you to meet. Zoe, dear, this is Max, the boy I was telling you about," Magnus calls, and Zoe and Max wave to one another. "I've set some things out for you two on the table, why don't you go and play?" Magnus says, patting Max on the back and he hurries over to the table, stopping to glance up at Jace.
"You'll tell me when the fireworks start, right? I don't want to miss them!" he says, and Jace laughs, ruffling his hair.
"Don't worry little buddy, you couldn't miss those if you tried."
Max grins and plops down at the table with Zoe, looking at what she's been coloring and Izzy laughs, watching them for a moment before grabbing a handful of pretzels and nodding towards the living room.
"I'm gonna go say hi to the others," she says, and Jace follows her out, leaving Magnus and Alec alone.
"So, is this the whole party? I thought it'd be bigger," Alec jokes, sipping his drink and Magnus shrugs.
"I thought something more small would be appropriate, especially since there would be kids. Though Simon and Raphael will be joining us later." He frowns at Alec, stepping closer and inspecting his face. "You don't look well, Alexander. Is everything alright?"
"Huh? Yeah! Yeah, I'm fine. Just, a little warm, that's all," Alec says, tugging on the collar of his shirt and realizing just how drenched in sweat he really is. Magnus seems to notice, and Alec feels his checks grow hot, embarrassed. It's not the best way to show up to someone's party. "I was carrying Max for a while," he tries to explain, and Magnus takes his hand.
"You can borrow something of mine," he says, leading Alec out of the room and through the living room, over to his bedroom.
Alec hears someone whistling and catcalling at them, he thinks it might be Luke, and Magnus laughs, shutting the door and flipping on the light before heading over to his closet and pulling it open. He turns back to Alec, gesturing to a door on the other side of the room, the one Alec knows is the en suite.
"Feel free to get cleaned up while I find you a shirt," he says, and Alec nods, biting his lip before calling out Magnus's name.
When the warlock turns to look again, Alec lifts his shirt off his head, slow and teasing, before tossing it into the laundry pile, making for the bathroom.
"Thanks," Alec says, and the look on Magnus's face is priceless.
Alec shuts the door, turning on the sink and splashing cold water on his face before grabbing a washcloth, wetting it and wiping down his chest and the back of his neck, thinking how good it feels when there's a knock at the door. Alec turns the faucet off, opening it and smiling at Magnus on the other side, the warlock holding out a soft grey shirt Alec's never seen before and staring at his chest.
"Need some help?" Magnus asks and Alec softly grabs his chin, tipping his head up until they're looking one another in the eyes.
"My eyes are up here," Alec jokes, pulling the shirt on over his head and Magnus makes a noise of disappointment.
"I know that. It just takes my eyes a little while longer to get up there," he says and Alec laughs, leaning down to peck him on the lips.
"Thank you for the shirt," he whispers, taking Magnus's hand and leading him back out to the living room.
"Just don't spill anything on it," Magnus demands.
He and Alec sit down next to Alaric, Alec saying hello to everyone and stretching out his legs, noticing how much cooler it is in the apartment. The French doors that lead out to the balcony are open, and Alec can see the Brooklyn bridge from where he's sitting, the water below it calm. The bridge is lit up now that it's almost completely dark, the headlights of all the cars on it making it that much brighter. Alec can hear ship horns in the distance, and he grabs a handful of chips from a bowl on the table, snacking on them and listening to Luke and Alaric talk about the different things going on in the precinct.
It feels nice to Alec, all of this; being surrounded by his friends, and his family, and not having to talk about demons or potential threats for at least one night. He can hear Max and Zoe laughing in the kitchen. He watches as Jocelyn takes a cupcake and dabs frosting on Luke's nose. All of it makes him feel at peace.
Alec reaches down, taking Magnus's hand and squeezing it, leaning forward to press a kiss to his cheek and Magnus hums thoughtfully.
"What was that for?" he whispers, and Alec shrugs.
"Because I wanted to," he whispers back.
Magnus leans in for another kiss, their lips almost touching when there's a knock at the door, Magnus dropping his head and Alec laughs. He holds a finger up to Alec, standing and saying, "hold that thought," before heading off to see who it is.
It's Raphael and Simon, the vampires coming inside and, even with how warm it is, they're both dressed in nice suits. Simon waves enthusiastically to Clary, rushing over to say hello and Raphael shakes his head, Magnus shutting the door and turning to him.
"I'm glad you're here," Magnus says, but it's so low, Alec almost didn't even hear it.
He knows Magnus and Raphael have a complicated past, and that in some odd way, they're friends. Magnus doesn't touch on it a lot, he says it's not his place to tell Raphael's story without his consent, and Alec respects that, so he doesn't push it.
But he can tell how uncomfortable Raphael must be. He's hardly come in from the door, and he and the wolves are making eyes at each other. Even Magnus himself looks a little tense, Jocelyn touching Luke's hand and talking quietly to him about everyone needing to get along tonight, and Alec slightly elbows Alaric, leaning close to him and nodding at Raphael.
"Offer him a drink," Alec says, and Alaric doesn't look too pleased with the idea, but Alec knows his face must be pleading. "Please? For Magnus. This is important to him."
Alaric sighs, standing up and putting his hands in his pockets, glancing down at Alec once more before clearing his throat. "Raphael," he says, tipping his head towards the kitchen. "Let me get you a drink."
Everyone is silent and looking at each other, Raphael licking his lips and taking two steps forward.
"Got any blood?" he asks, looking over his shoulder at Magnus, who nods.
"It's where it usually is," he says, and Raphael hesitates, then turns and heads into the kitchen. Slowly, Alaric follows him.
"Nice to see you, Raphael," Luke calls in after him and Jocelyn nods almost proudly at him, Clary taking a sip of her drink and leaning back against Jace.
"Well, that was intense," she says, Simon squishing into the seat next to her and nodding.
"I know. Took me an hour to convince him to even come," he whispers, Magnus coming back to sit next to Alec and glancing at the clock on the wall.
"The show should be starting soon," he says, snapping his fingers and a drink appears in everyone's hands, even Alaric's as he comes out of the kitchen.
Raphael now has a second glass in hand, full of red liquid, and he hands one off to Simon, perching on the arm of one of the couches and Magnus raises his own glass.
"I'd like to make a toast. To all my friends that are here, to being together. To family, and to love," Magnus says, his eyes catching Alec's and Alec's cheeks grow warm, Jocelyn raising her glass higher.
"To us," she says, and everyone repeats her loudly, clinking glasses and taking a sip of their drinks.
A loud noise sounds in the air, something climbing high and then exploding, and Magnus almost chokes on his drink he jumps up so fast, waving his hands around excitedly. "Max, Zoe, hurry, they're starting!" he yells, waving his hand and the music stops, and with another wave, all the lights shut off.
A few candles Alec didn't even know were burning cast shadows all over the room as the kids hurry in, Magnus setting down his drink and taking their hands in either of his. He leads them out to the balcony, the others standing and following behind him, and another explosion sends blue sparks streaking through the sky.
"C'mere," Luke says, setting his drink down and picking up Zoe, putting her up on his shoulders and she squeals, staring up at the sky in awe.
Isabelle laughs, turning to Alec and touching his arm, nodding at him. "I got this one, big brother," she says, and she leans down, picking up Max and doing the same with him.
The fireworks continue to go off, one after another, lighting up the sky in different colors, and Alec is in awe. He's seen fireworks before, when he was little, but this view, it's breathtaking. He grips the edge of the balcony, watching as another one combusts in the sky, and a hand on Alec's back makes him jump.
He turns around and Magnus is standing there, a happy look turning to one of concern, and Alec grins, taking Magnus's hand and pulling him closer.
"This is amazing, Thank you," Alec says against his ear, Magnus's arms going around his waist and he smiles, staring up at Alec, a brilliant flash of red illuminating their faces.
All Alec can think of is how beautiful Magnus looks in all the lights, how close he is and how warm his touch is, Alec leaning down to press their foreheads together, and he smiles.
"You still owe me that kiss," Alec reminds him and Magnus chuckles, nodding, and he reaches up, his hand running through Alec's hair as they press their lips together, melting into one another and staying like that until neither of them can breathe.
Alec stands back, pulling Magnus into his chest and they stare up at the sky, watching the show and holding one another. The noises vibrate in Alec's ears.