All right, so I decided after playing it rough and maybe a little raunchy, I wanted to try a new angle for Alec and Magnus. I want to write something sweet and fresh, without you know...sounding like a cheesy romance novel or anything. I thought trying to detail their first night, after that initial meet and greet would be fun. Sorry if the story is old and redundant by now. It's new to me?
Inspired by Chapter 12, Dead Man's Party in City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. The italicized portion at the beginning is a direct quotation (tried to give props in the parenthesis at the end). Not my contribution!
Still a newbie. Please take pity. Be gentle?
edited by Miyabita (1/31/10) Thank you!!
Chapter One: Confrontation
Jace nodded. "Don't want to overstay our welcome."
"What welcome?" Magnus asked. "I'd say it was a pleasure to meet you, but it wasn't. Not that you aren't all fairly charming, and as for you—" He dropped a glittery wink at Alec, who looked astounded. "Call me?"
(from City of Bones, paperback edition, pg. 243 by Cassandra Clare).
- - - -
Alec lifted his eyes to the metal square, eyelids fluttering. It was a nervous twitch, like the impassible lump lodged in his throat. Or the knot in his stomach.
He'd already worked through a stern pep talk on the way over. He was going to confront the warlock, accuse him of singling him out at the party. He would show him that if this was just some kind of stunt to berate him, poke fun of the "weak link" in front of the others - not to mention a roomful of vampires and fae folk - he wasn't going to take it. After all, he'd been nothing but nice to the guy, even sympathetic about his childhood.
Jace wouldn't have stammered after Magnus. He would have laughed it off or snapped back with some self-assured, sarcastic comment like "you wish".
What if the warlock really was expecting his call?
Well, I've got news for you, Downworlder, Alec repeated in his head, trying to regroup and get back to the mental monologue. I've got no intention of wasting minutes on you.
But even the thought made his stomach twist. No, he couldn't say that. If he was being honest, he didn't even really like thinking it…
He lowered his eyes shyly from the nameplate - unnerved just looking at it - while he fortified himself.
What would be the point in trying to embarrass him? Just for the fun of it? Just to make him blush? Was Magnus Bane the kind of person that enjoyed putting down other people? Maybe it was a last-minute jibe to get back at them for crashing his party and monopolizing his precious time. He was the High Warlock of Brooklyn, after all.
On the other hand, he was hosting a party in honor of his cat. He wasn't holding shop inside his flat.
Nodding to himself, he lifted his head again and pressed the buzzer. He waited a long minute, heartbeat drumming in his ears, his own breathing too loud. This is crazy.
He crossed his arms over his chest, lips thinning out. No answer. He felt minutely braver when the silence stretched out, and he was in the process of calling it off, deciding it really wasn't worth his time anyway. It wasn't like their paths were bound to cross anytime soon. And it was awfully late—
"COME HELL OR HIGH WATER, THIS BETTER BE IMPORTANT!"
Alec stumbled backward at the loud, static-y voice that responded. It seemed like the speaker vibrated with the force of the warlock's growl.
When Alec was too stunned – and too nervous – to respond, Magnus continued.
"WELL?" he barked, obviously waiting for some explanation. Probably expecting an emergency of epic proportions to be woken, again, at this unholy hour.
"I...I'm sorry…" Alec began, hands balling into fists inside the pockets of his coat, trying to keep them from trembling from the strong mixture of adrenaline and anticipation.
"Never mind that," the warlock replied shortly, trying to keep calm. He sighed wearily. "Come up or go away. But be quick about it," he snapped and buzzed him in.
Alec's nerves were on edge as he took to the rickety stairwell again, careful to keep his hands inside the confines of his pockets, remembering the sticky green goo that Clary had encountered earlier. Besides, he didn't really trust the railing.
His boots left heavy, clunking sounds as he rose. By the time he reached the second floor landing, the door was open. He froze, not sure if it was ok to enter on his own. He looked down at his feet, trying to stay calm.
Breathe. Focus. You're not walking into battle. Not that he wasn't experiencing the same fight or flight response. Knock or walk?
"You," a low voice resounded from the entry. Alec glanced up again, startled. Magnus leaned against the open door, his hair limp on one side, and mussed on the other (as if he'd been sleeping on his side). His face was flushed, also indicative of sleep, and completely devoid of makeup. Alec was speechless. And staring.
"I'm sorry…" Alec felt compelled to apologize again, though kicking himself. This was not how he'd planned it. He was going to make the warlock apologize for taunting him. He was going to demand an explanation. He-
Magnus cocked his head to one side, studying him. Then he reached out and seemed to brush some invisible piece of lint from the shoulder of Alec's jacket. The action made Alec start and then flush in embarrassment. The warlock's lip twitched, realizing how jumpy he was. Alec was mortified.
"Did you come here alone?" he asked, eyes glancing behind where he stood as if to pick out someone hiding in the shadow of the stairs.
"Yes," Alec answered, confused. Magnus seemed to consider this information, running a quick hand back through his hair, unsettling the limp side and pushing it back behind his ear. He was wearing a simple silver hoop through the lobe. Everything about his bedtime look was very simple. Unassuming. Almost… vulnerable.
If a tall, imposing warlock could look vulnerable.
The edge of his mouth kicked up and Alec quickly rethought it, swallowing. Magnus laughed, a rich, throaty sound. It wasn't the laugh he reserved for public appearances. It sounded more intimate. And genuine.
"Come in, then." He gestured with his hand as he turned away from the Shadowhunter, heading back inside his apartment. The floorboards barely creaked with the movement.
Alec tentatively crossed the threshold, looking around at the now-dark interior, slowly closing the front door behind him.
There was a rustle of silk. Magnus drew on what looked like a robe, shrugging into the sleeves. It was colorful and shiny. He could see that even in the darkness. Magnus's arms were bent in front of him, and Alec realized he was tying a belt. Then he fussed with his hair, twisting it into a careful knot before turning around again, looking down at Alec from his lofty height.
"What can I do for you?" he droned, suddenly serious.
"I…well, I just wanted to say…" Alec shook his head, frustrated. He blushed, self-conscious and jerked his head to the side, fingers tugging on the lining inside his jacket pocket, looking for some distraction for his restless fingers. "Why me?"
"Beg your pardon?"
"Why did you single me out like that?"
When there wasn't an answer, Alec tentatively looked up from his lashes to find the warlock still staring down at him, brows raised. He looked like he was going to smile but thought the better of it.
"Why do you think?"
Alec could feel a muscle jerk in his cheek and he removed his hand from his pocket, rubbing the opposite arm instead, self-conscious.
"I don't know," he answered, his voice small and shaky.
"Really? I thought I made myself clear. What part didn't you understand?" Magnus paused, brows lifting again for a second. " 'Call' or 'me'?"
"Why did you ask me?"
"You have a phone, don't you?"
"Of course, I do. But why—"
"You are naïve, aren't you? Have you never been cracked on before?" He seemed more curious then mocking, so Alec merely frowned in confusion.
"Hit on. Asked out. No one ever make a pass at you?"
Alec shook his head, grimacing.
"I can't believe it."
"If you're just going to insult me again—" Alec growled, hands fisting.
"Again? It was a compliment. When I asked you to call me, that's exactly what I meant. That's all I meant. You know, pick up your cell, dial my number. Maybe I should have remembered to write it down for you on a scented sticky note, but I'm assuming you have a phone book at the Institute. Or maybe a black book reserved for Downworlders of interest? I am listed."
"We have the number," Alec muttered, brow furrowed.
"Well, I was hoping you would call, but I didn't put any real stock in it. Not with the way you looked at me when I said it." He winked, rewarded by a similar expression on the Shadowhunter's face.
"I am surprised you decided to stop by instead. You could have called," Magnus pointed out, gently teasing.
"I didn't think about it," Alec confessed, sounding stupid.
"I'm honored," Magnus replied. Alec wasn't sure if he was being sarcastic, but his eyes glanced back over his shoulder to gauge the distance it would take him to reach the door. Just a comforting side note, and always important in a situation - to know your escape route, if it came to that. Incidentally, the warlock started coming forward, walking toward him in slow, measured steps as if he knew Alec was pondering Plan B.
"Is that all?"
"Is that what you wanted to say to me?"
Alec nodded slightly. That was the gist of it, even if it came out all wrong. Sighing, Magnus lifted his hands again, ignoring the boy's slight flinch before his long fingers came to rest on his shoulders.
"Then let me say this. I'm sorry if I 'insulted' you. I didn't mean to embarrass you in front of your friends. Clearly, I was exaggerating when I said they were charming." He rolled his eyes. "But you…you are bewitching."
"Bewitching," Alec whispered, trying not to blush. It sounded funny coming from a warlock. Magnus smiled.
"Beautiful," he clarified, looking into his pale eyes.
Alec swallowed on the gathering saliva in his throat, lips dry. Magnus seemed to gauge his reaction for a moment, and added, "Would you prefer handsome? I didn't mean anything effeminate by it. Not that I would take offense."
Alec tilted his head back, finally letting himself look at Magnus. Really look at his face in the semi-darkness. Without the glitter and the charcoal and the unnatural lip tint, he could focus on his facial features. Beneath the flare, he could see the soft curve of his cheeks, realized just how long Magnus's dark lashes were, sweeping down now as he looked at him, half-lidded. His mouth was softer when his face was relaxed, and his distracting, white teeth were just barely hinted of between his parted lips as he looked down at Alec. What's more, he didn't have any scars on his face or his neck. But then, why would he? He didn't bear Marks. Or battle wounds.
Magnus was beautiful, Alec decided. But he couldn't possibly swallow past the lump and tell him that. He didn't realize his eyes were stroking as they stared - and that the warlock thoroughly enjoyed his open perusal - until Magnus gently squeezed his shoulders and smiled.
"I adore your eyes. That's the first thing I noticed about you," he whispered. Slowly, giving him time to voice his discomfort, Magnus lifted his hand to pass the pad of his thumb beneath his lower eyelid. The soft touch made Alec shiver and twitch. It tickled.
"Your eyes are so--"
"Creepy?" Magnus filled in, his cat-like pupils slightly enlarged, presumably to see better in the darkness.
"I was going to say...interesting," Alec admitted, his glance flickering between his strange eyes. His face was starting to warm. It dawned on him just how close they were standing, the silk sleeve of Magnus's kimono making a soft, scraping sound as he moved his arm, caressing thumb drawing back to trace the angle of Alec's cheekbone and jaw.
"I'll take it," Magnus replied, his glance straying to the boy's mouth. "You're so much more stunning than that arrogant ass you're running with."
"Jace," he corrected, shoulders tensing in objection to the description.
"He's very full of himself."
"He just doesn't care what people think. And what point is there in being a Shadowhunter with a soft side? Self-doubt could get you killed, when it counts. And there's nothing wrong with feeling comfortable in your own skin," Alec replied, not noticing that Magnus's eyes had widened slightly. "Or being confidant in your own ability. He's a strong fighter, and he doesn't try to pretend he's something he's not just for the sake of making people around him feel more comfortable." He took a deep breath after this sudden tirade, and then flushed at the intensity with which the warlock was watching him.
"But you're not like him," Magnus replied in a soft voice, as if trying to atone for setting him off and obviously touching upon a tender subject.
"Because I'm gay?" Alec spat, still heated. In his anger, he didn't feel so self-conscious saying it aloud.
"No. I was going to say that the picture you just painted of him, the pedestal you put him on, I don't think you're anything like that."
"How would you know?" he choked, not sure if he should be offended or flattered.
Magnus lifted his other hand, framing his face tenderly. Alec tensed up, although the brush of silk against his throat was kind of nice.
"I think you care very much what people think. It makes you doubt yourself. And I can see you're not comfortable in your own skin. I don't know what kind of fighter you are, but if his arrogance stems from thinking he's the toughest boy in black, then I think you could benefit from being second best." His voice was pleasant, comforting, and Alec slowly closed his eyes as if it were meant to happen. The warmth spread, and he felt the compulsion to remove his jacket. It was stifling inside the leather.
"But you don't have to pretend around me, Alec. You don't have anything to fear from what you say or do. You're more than welcome to come to me whenever you have need." He seemed to drag out the last word, wrapping his voice around it. The implication that this wasn't just a friendly invitation made Alec swallow, and this time he managed to sigh, some of the pressure easing from his stomach.
Stopping there, because that's as far as it's worked itself out in my head. Don't want to force it.
All good things come to those who wait.