When the Ball Drops
by ariviand

New Years 2009/10
(Post-City of Glass)

A "Malec" fan fic

Disclaimer: The characters Magnus Bane and Alexander (Alec) Lightwood are the sole creative property of Cassandra Clare. I'm just borrowing them for the night. This is just an idea I'm running with, a new mini-fic for the new year.

"10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3..2..1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

Colorful confetti burst from the ceiling. Alec had no idea where it came from, or where it was being stored all this time. Obviously it was the product of magic. Within a High Warlock's apartment, he shouldn't be surprised.

Alec was irritated, however. The colorful flecks of paper were falling into his face. He swat the confetti out of his eyes in annoyance, leaving the bits in his hair for now, but only because it hadn't finished falling. He felt utterly stupid, wearing a colorful confetti headdress and corduroy slacks.

Magnus had insisted. He said the dark navy pants were so right for him. Vintage comfy. That was Alec's personal style.

Alec didn't know a thing about vintage – or "personal style" for that matter, but comfort was a high priority. And he wasn't denying that the material of the pants were comfortable; it was just the fit that bothered him. He wasn't used to wearing pants that were so tight.

"They're not tight," Magnus had argued. "They just fit. I know, it's a new concept. You'll get used it."

But Alec hadn't adjusted yet. He shuffled awkwardly, jerking his thumbs through the pockets of his pants in an attempt to pull them away from his skin. Why did they have to be so clingy?

Scowling, he glanced up through the hair and paper debris in his eyes, realizing belatedly that everyone around him was kissing and hugging.

Alec's face heated up. Magnus hadn't mentioned anything about a mass-orgy at midnight. He had only warned Alec that there would be alcohol, that most of the people invited were Downworlders, and the guests probably wouldn't clear out until late - because the whole point of throwing a New Years party was to count down to the new year at midnight.

But this, Alec hadn't planned for. Everywhere he looked, people were kissing and laughing and wishing each other HAPPY NEW YEAR in loud voices, most having to yell over the thrumming music. It made the walls vibrate. Weren't there law codes about this sort of thing – putting restrictions on noise-making in private homes? Even if it was a holiday, Alec felt sure some of Magnus's neighbors were probably trying to sleep, and were less than appreciative of being kept awake by the vibration of the bass and the ruckus of the loud party.

Alec felt a hand on his shoulder and he flinched. See, his typical black clothing was as good as a stamp. It said: I am a Shadowhunter. Approach at your own risk, Downworlder. Or better yet, keep your distance. The colorful confetti in his hair and the corduroy pants must be confusing them; it didn't exactly say "don't mess with me." Alec growled before he could prevent it.

Whoever it was backed down as Alec's hand went for his belt, the light catching on his seraph blade.

By the angel, he wasn't going to kiss a stranger. He hadn't done much more than sample the sparkling wine Magnus offered; not nearly enough to be up for that. He couldn't say the same for the rest of the party-goers. Too many spirits were being passed around, in his opinion. Even Magnus had been drinking some acrid brew for the past few hours. Alec had smelled it on his breath every time Magnus leaned in, although it was mixed in with the citrus of his shampoo and the sweetness of his skin.

"Don't you think you've had enough?" Alec had murmured against Magnus's shoulder around eleven thirty.

"I don't know the meaning of the word," Magnus had drawled, then silenced Alec with a kiss. Alec might have let it slide; Magnus's kisses were usually potent and hard to resist. The feel of his lips was nice, and the attention welcome. He would have liked to be alone with Magnus in his warm bedroom, as per every other night, and wish the rest of the crowd away. But Alec tasted that foul drink on Magnus's lips and tongue and he pulled away in distaste.

"Suit yourself," Magnus had said, with an insulted sniff. The warlock brought the rim of the long-stemmed glass to his painted lips and walked off, promptly swallowed by the crowd. It was the last he'd seen of him. Alec spent the following half-hour scanning the crowd, looking generally sulky, and checking his cell phone - in lieu of wearing a watch.

Someone bussed Alec's cheek before he could deflect it. Damnit. Leave me the hell alone!

Alec pulled back like he had been burned, hand going to his cheek in shock and indignation before swiping any trace of saliva away with the back of his scarred hand. He shot a glare at the retreating girl with purple hair, fresh flowers woven through the braids. Cheeky faery!

Why had ever agreed to come tonight? Why?

For Magnus? Because he asked you how many times?

No, it wasn't that simple. Isabelle had a date for the night. As usual, Alec didn't ask the details and she didn't provide them. Jace and Clary were going over to Jocelyn's. Luke promised that no one partied like a pack of werewolves, and while Alec had been invited, he wasn't really interested in being a wallflower at a loud party full of Downworlders.

The joke was on him. Being left alone, Magnus saw an opening and he pounced. He announced over Christmas dinner that he was throwing a New Years bash, and Alec had agreed to come. Alec denied it – laughing, then frowning, then glaring at everyone who was urging him to go.

"You should have fun. You do know what that means?"

"You can't spend New Years' alone."

"Magnus wants you there."

"I need you there."

"See, you have to go or you'll be a shitty boyfriend."

Great. So if he didn't agree, Alec would be a boring, lonely, shitty boyfriend. Well, there was no choice. He couldn't tell Magnus he'd rather hang around the mostly-empty Institute all night and wait by the phone. His parents already had that covered, anyway. So he let Magnus drag him to this damned party.

Alec was not having fun. He managed to feel incredibly lonely, even in a crowded room. And what's more, he'd lost sight of Magnus. Weren't they supposed to stick together? Even though Magnus was hosting the thing, he was the one who had insisted Alec come. Didn't he care that Alec was having a rotten time? Didn't he owe it to Alec, as a host and what's more, his boyfriend, to ensure that wasn't the case?

Would he notice if Alec up and left, rather than endure the indignity any longer?

No, he couldn't do that. Alec may be a wallflower, he may have antisocial tendencies when it came to public appearances, but he was not a drama queen or a coward. And so he had to stay, at least until he found Magnus.

Someone brushed his arm. Alec bared his teeth, seconds away from removing the blade from his belt. Magnus had made him promise to behave. But that was before all of his guests started invading his personal space.

"Happy New Year, Alec." His left hand was being clasped. A warlock whose name he couldn't remember was shaking his hand, perhaps sensing that anything more forward would be a really bad idea right now. Alec managed a stiff nod, and muttered "you too" under his breath.

Way to go. Now all of his friends know how charming you are.

Alec was relieved when the man moved on, kissing the next person he came across.

How could they do it? Why did they do it?

What was the relevance? Was this common? Even though he had seen the ball drop on TV before beside Jace and Isabelle, they had never celebrated the new year with kisses or a toast. No one was particularly enthused about it. They only watched the ball drop because they were awake anyway, although last year there was a disturbance close to Times Square and Isabelle had proposed trying to squeeze through the crowd and see it live after the job was done. But Alec had been too tired, and Jace didn't see the point. Instead, they'd gone out to eat and headed back to the Institute.

And where were his ambivalent friends now? Those like him who were staunchly against celebrating the New Year not so long ago?

They've crossed over to the enemy camp, that's what. They've abandoned me, Alec thought with a grimace. They're off celebrating having to buy a new calender, having to reorient themselves to writing 10 on paperwork instead of 09. It also meant missing out on sleep tonight, tomorrow, and possibly the night after that while people shot off all their leftover fireworks.

Alec didn't see the point. It was just another excuse for Magnus to throw a party. A themed party, no less. And Magnus had gone all out on this one, not only removing the doors and relocating most of the furntiture, but he'd also set up a disco ball which made the floor sparkle and the walls dance with spots of moving light. There were streamers and the few tables left behind in the loft were covered with glitter, party favors, and glasses of prefilled drinks. Instead of bringing in a band, Magnus had an outrageous entertainment center setup, with speakers almost as tall as Alec putting off the loud music. Alec could feel the vibration of it in his teeth.

The guest list included the usual: vampires, werewolves, fae, and warlocks. No mundanes, though. And no one turned into rodents or worse. Alec had noticed a Were passed out near the door with an overturned beer, but at least he was sleeping it off. How he could sleep in all this noise however was a mystery to Alec.

He could barely concentrate. It was giving him a headache. That and the smoke in the room. Several people had cigarettes in their hands and someone was smoking a really pungent cigar. In spite of the freezing weather outside, Alec wouldn't mind throwing open a window so at least he could breathe.

One hand resting against his forehead, trying to work out the fist-sized knot that had started to throb, Alec shoulder through the crowd, jostling people whose arms were wrapped around another, temporarily breaking off conversations as curious glances followed his progress across the room. Someone bumped into him without apologizing, but he was too distracted to care.

Where was Magnus, in all this chaos?

"Happy New Year," a voice chuckled against his ear.

"Shove off," Alec muttered in reply, jaw tightening.

"Touchy. Someone get the Nephilim a drink."

The sound of laughter followed him as he stalked away, trying to scan the crowd from beneath the heel of his hand.