A small drop in the bucket that woke me up this morning.

Love 'em, but don't own 'em.


It was a particularly stunning fall day. Magnus smiled into the sun as it turned his skin bronze when he hit the sidewalk. In a fit of nostalgia for more leisurely days-gone-by in Europe, Magnus decided to eschew his morning coffee conjuring in favor of a stroll to a cafe. In Greenpoint he didn't merit any second glances for his figure-hugging pinstriped pants and a t-shirt that read MY CAT IS COOLER THAN YOU.

The disappointingly bland dirty chai latte was somewhat improved by the hot barista. He complimented Magnus's glamoured eyes with a confident smirk that turned into a rueful grin when Magnus admitted he was spoken for. Taken. Otherwise committed. To a Lightwood, of all people, even if he was getting used to the idea.

Alec was certainly an anomaly. His sister Isabelle had seemed more typical of the family stock, but as he got to know her a bit more he was developing what amounted to a mild hope that she might also create a legacy that future Lightwoods might be proud of. Magnus shook his head. It was far too beautiful a day to spend it thinking about the past and the future.

He could happily turn his thoughts back to Alec, however. With beverage in hand, he let his feet carry him toward the neighborhood park. Magnus suspected that Alec might already be dealing with some difficult emotions related to dating an immortal warlock, but Magnus was very much in the honeymoon phase where almost everything his boyfriend did or said pleased him, and practically everything around him brought Alec to mind. The magnificent blue of the sky was just a few shades off from his eye color when he was excited. The toddlers on the playground made him think of the picture Isabelle had given him of Alec at two or three brandishing a stick like he was already preparing to hold a seraph blade (Magnus hid the photo in a drawer that was filling with mementos like a note Alec left him the first time he came over with his key when Magnus was out and a receipt from their second dinner date, which went sooo much better than the first). Even the crappy chai latte made him smile to think of Alec teasing him over his complicated concoctions for imbibing caffeine.

Happily wrapped up in memories his boyfriend, Magnus was reluctant to acknowledge that a demon was choosing that inopportune moment to careen across the park through his line of vision, though no one else around was the wiser. It took tremendous will to motivate himself to wonder what had lit such a fire under the demon's butt, because he was really booking it. Magnus was just considering whether he needed to address the situation in any way (he was leaning toward no), when the source of the demon's distress made itself known.

Straight out of his daydream, though wearing considerably more clothes, came Alec hot on the trail of the demon. That got Magnus's attention and spurred him to his feet. The three figures tore across the small park and into the street. Alec was closer to the demon than Magnus was to him, and he didn't want to shout out and distract the Shadowhunter. With a curse, he dropped the latte that was sloshing onto his hand and picked up the pace when Alec and the demon disappeared around a corner that Magnus knew led to a deadend alley.

It was over when he arrived a minute later. Alec was leaning against the brick wall. His front was covered in ichor and he was breathing fast. Magnus wanted to fling himself at Alec, slime be damned, but held back.

"Is the Institute so understaffed that you're working solo now?" Magnus was truthfully peeved that Alec was demon hunting with no backup in sight, but a quick once over told him that no serious harm had come to the Shadowhunter.

"I was on my way to see you." Alec straightened up. "Wrong place, wrong time." He smiled, but Magnus could see he was a little shaken. He narrowed his eyes but still didn't see any signs of damage to Alec.

"For him, I'd say." Magnus gestured to the stain on the cement that had once been a demon.

"Yeah. So...what are you doing here?" There was concern in Alec's voice, and confusion. Magnus squashed an involuntary spark of frustration. Alec was still so hesitant with him sometimes, Magnus didn't know how to make him take equal footing in their relationship. But he also hadn't exactly had a warning that Alec was coming. He couldn't spend all day waiting around the apartment for him.

"Well, I was planning a clandestine meeting with a demon friend of mine, but he seems to have disappeared." Magnus shrugged nonchalantly. "Want to come get cleaned up and help me find something else to do with my afternoon?"


Back at Magnus's apartment, Alec accepted his help peeling off his clothes and even let him fuss and heal a little cut on his shoulder, but insisted that he wanted to shower alone. Magnus huffed but let Alec close the door behind him, and he listened for and heard the quiet click of the lock and the turning of the shower knob. With a peevish sigh, he threw himself on the couch and let Chairman Meow jump up and knead his stomach until the cat deemed his shirt acceptably rumpled enough to lay down on.

He wasn't sure how much time had passed before he gave a start at the cold feeling on his chest and realized he had been dozing and now he was alone in the living room. He lay silent and listened to the water still running in the bathroom, and just picked up a muffled hiccup through the locked door. He was on his feet.

"Alexander," he whispered, tapping the doorknob lightly so that it opened with a click and a tiny blue spark. Alec hadn't heard him. His back was to the door and he was hunched over in the corner of the shower, hugging his knees. Magnus's heart seized at the thought that he may have missed something, some injury, that was causing Alec extreme pain. He waded into the shower stall, and Alec finally noticed his presence and went immediately stiff and straight.

"I'm almost done," he said. There was a tremor in his voice, but he had made his face impassive, when Magnus knew it had been contorted moments ago. "Sorry I took so long. I'll be right-"

Magnus moved closer to him and his eyes went wide. He didn't notice the water splattering his pants. He brushed his fingers across Alec's cheek and they came away wet, but not just from the shower spray "Alexander, are you hurt? You're crying." Magnus couldn't remember the last time he'd seen a more beautiful and awful sight.

Alec's face seemed to collapse in exactly the way Magnus felt his heart crumple. He grabbed Magnus's hand and held it to his face tightly, and with his other arm Magnus crushed Alec to his chest. He couldn't breathe, and Alec was heaving deep gasps trying to get himself under control. They stood in the water until they were both soaked.

"I'm not hurt. I'm not," Alec finally managed to say. Magnus held him more fiercely. "I was thinking about you. Magnus." Alec clutched at him desperately. His hands were so knotted in Magnus's soaked shirt that he expected it might fall apart in his fingers. "I hunt demons, I'm not supposed to be scared. Today I wanted so badly for Jace or Izzy or you to be there, but I was alone. And I was scared."

"I was right behind you," Magnus said. "But you didn't need my help. You'd already taken care of it."

"I just thought, what if I make a wrong move and it all ends, and none of you would know. And maybe – maybe it wouldn't be so bad. " Magnus sucked in a mouthful of air and water and promptly forgot how to exhale. "How could I think that? How could I be so awful? But I can't help it. I don't want to be alone. My parents – my father – they won't get over what I am. Jace has Clary, Iz doesn't need anyone. And I'm so scared of losing you. I can't need you this much. It's not fair."

Alec was shaking in his arms. Magnus let out his breath. He kissed his temple, and his forehead, and his shoulder, anything he could reach. The water had gone cold by the time Alec's fingers started to relax.

"Love isn't fair," Magnus murmured against his check, not loosening his own grip. He felt a hollow sadness stirring in his own stomach and tried not to let it escape in his voice. He understood the injustice of it better than mortals ever would, even Shadowhunters. "But I love you, Alexander. And I promise I will love you tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that."

"Does it hurt? You – you've loved others. Is it supposed to feel like this?"

Magnus chuckled. "Sometimes it does. But it makes you stronger, too." Alec pulled away far enough to look up at him. Even that small distance made Magnus ache. But then Alec smiled, and an incredible heat coursed through him. He hadn't been lying. Immortality meant Magnus was alive, but love was the reason he kept living. Loving Alec made him stronger, even if it threatened to destroy him.

"I think I know what you mean," Alec said, and pressed his lips to Magnus's. Magnus kissed him back fiercely. This was also what love felt like, fire in his veins and the desire to completely envelope this precious person and have him know he was loved. He felt the same intensity coming from Alec.

When they came up for air, Magnus finally decided they were wet enough and shut the water off. Alec shook his hair out and Magnus took an appreciative look of his dripping form.

"Mind if I borrow a towel?"

"I'm so sorry, I haven't done laundry this week," Magnus said, working himself free of his own soaking outfit before he trailed too much water through the apartment. He considered it highly irrelevant that he could conjure a towel in an instant if he was so inclined – he was certainly not inclined. "But if you'll follow me to the bedroom, I'm sure we can come up with something that will be helpful in this situation."

Alec took his hand and led the way. His fingers curled around Magnus's were warm and firm, and he seemed to have worked through his inner turmoil. Magnus knew it wouldn't be an endless summer for them, they were too emotionally entangled already. But Magnus was committee to taking every step he could beside the man he loved, and loving him every step of the way.


-tdp