Author's Note: Oh. Mai. Goodness. I haven't written fanfiction in AGES.
However, I have two very good excuses. Excuse one is that my new school is basically planning on killing us with homework. This is the hardest year, I hear, and I usually get home and collapse on the floor for an hour and then do homework until midnight. Excuse two is that NaNoWriMo was last month, and that was definitely one of the best but also one of the most stressful experiences of my life, so I spent all my writing energy on that.
But then the other night, a glimmer of hope appeared in the form of a Malec doodle while studying for history and a nearly forgotten post-it note of inspiration and voila! This behemoth was born. I don't think I've ever written so much fluff in so little time. I think months of fluff have been stored up inside of me, the pressure building, and this was the result of it finally exploding.
There's a section in here that's based off of A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov, which we read in English and I absolutely LOVED. Cookies to anyone who finds it.
Thanks so much to my beta, chibi-hime123. Sorry for not being around much lately!
Life threatening injury could be such an intrusion on Magnus's canoodling time.
"What's this?" he murmured, running one glittery nail against the newest additions to Alec's many scars: numerous shadows of iratzes along the long, jagged line that ran dangerously close to his now racing heart.
"Um." Alec shifted, bright blue eyes flitting about the room from one neon object to the next, and he wriggled deliciously under the covers. Magnus felt his breath catch, and he would have attacked the lithe lines of Alec's shoulders with kisses if not for the fact that he was supposed to be prying the truth out of him.
The truth could be such a bother. That's what made roleplaying so much fun.
Magnus managed to pull his mind out of the gutter after a great deal of kicking and screaming, and shortly returned to the problem at hand. "Yes?" he prompted, narrowing his eyes just so. Alec gulped.
"It's nothing really," Alec grumbled, trying to look put out rather than guilty. Put out. Now there was an idea. "Just an old scar," Alec continued, raising his chin imperiously in that way that Magnus knew he was faking. Alec may have been condescending and irritating and a bit of a stickler at times, but Magnus doubted he could naturally look imperious if his life depended on it. "You know how runes take time to fade," Alec sniffed, doing his best to look offended at the suggestion that this was anything but the truth.
Magnus gave a great sigh and let his head fall to the bed. His clean hair tickled the sides of his face and fanned against the pillow as he closed his eyes against the morning light trickling in through the cracks in the curtains. It was much too early for this sort of quarrel. Alec fell silent and seemed to loosen, as if in surrender.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, voice reluctant and stiff. "I didn't want to worry you."
Magnus pressed his lips into a hard line and tried not to wonder what else Alec was hiding because he didn't want Magnus to worry. "Is that so?" he murmured, and Alec was still.
"I know how much you hate seeing me hurt," Alec said softly, "and I don't want you to be upset by it."
Magnus shot up, golden eyes flashing open and pupils narrowing as outrage clawed at the pit of his stomach. "What, you think I can't handle it?"
Alec flinched backwards, startled at the sudden movement, and then flushed at the accusation. "That's not—"
But Magnus was in no mood for this. "Need I remind you that I've seen more in my life than you could ever dream to see?" he snapped.
Alec frowned. "Don't—"
"Need I remind you that even though I may not be a warrior or a Shadowhunter or have angel blood running through my veins, I am the High Warlock of Brooklyn and therefore am exceptionally powerful?"
"Need I remind you that I have seen you in much worse condition? That I know your body so well that trying to hide a scar from me is pointless and insulting? That I am perfectly capable of healing every one of those injuries?"
"That's the point!" Alec burst out, more ferociously than Magnus had imagined he could sound. Magnus stopped short, compressing his mouth. "I don't want you healing me every time I get hurt," Alec shot out, quieter this time, but blazing eyes conveying the anger to propel the words that buried themselves in Magnus's chest.
Magnus was temporarily rendered incapable of speech. Once he had managed to relocate the body parts involved in speaking, he whispered, "What do you mean?"
Alec seemed to deflate. His broad shoulders slumped and his dark bangs fell forward. "You're always so…drained afterwards. I hate seeing you put so much energy into healing me. I feel terrible, partly because it's always my fault for not being a good enough Shadowhunter to stay out of the way of the demons." Alec peeked out from under his eyelashes hesitantly. "And partly because I know how much better you are, and how much I don't deserve you, and how every time you heal me we become just a little bit more unbalanced."
For several long seconds, Magnus stared in absolute wonder at the young man in his bed. Then he seized Alec's face in his hands and swooped in to bestow an enormous kiss upon his mouth. Alec gasped, and Magnus took the opportunity presented by his parted lips.
After a long moment, Magnus pulled away, sweeping his fingers through Alec's hair and then cradling his face in his hands. "Don't ever say that," he ordered huskily, heart thundering against his ribcage as bright eyes met one another. "I chose you out of all the people in the world and don't you ever forget that."
Looking thoroughly thrown with his cheeks splashed with red and his hair a mess and his dark eyebrows twisted in concern, Alec questioned, "Really?"
Magnus's fiercely straight mouth collapsed into a curving smirk. He gave Alec another firm kiss, then asserted, "Really."
Alec let out that ridiculously adorable, weak, coughing laugh, and though he didn't look completely convinced, he looked so thoroughly disheveled and soft and warm that Magnus was overcome, and his frustration dissipated and turned to a sudden need to continue displaying his undying affection in rather more tangible ways.
Several minutes later, Magnus had happily decided that his affection had properly been conveyed, and was now lounging in Alec's lap with Alec's talented fingers teasing apart the knots in his hair. Magnus sighed languidly, cuddling closer and curling his shapely nails into the fabric of Alec's greyscale plaid pajama bottoms. Once the tangles had been taken care of, Alec moved on to a deeper scalp massage, strong hands sending thrills of pleasure down Magnus's spine. "My part," he complained softly, squirming ever so slightly.
"You'll live," Alec dismissed good-naturedly. Magnus could hear the smile in his voice, and imagining his full lips upturned and his focused brows downturned made Magnus chuckle.
Alec thoroughly dismantled Magnus's artistically arranged part, which should have been irritating, because it would take forever to get it back to its proper position, but Magnus hadn't had a massage from Alec before and he was now convinced that this was as close to heaven as he was ever going to get. A little moan escaped his throat and he decided that he was going to force Alec to quit being a Shadowhunter and take a job as his personal masseur.
"What's this?" Alec murmured, pulling aside the hair at Magnus's temple and peering close at the silvery scar underneath. Dread constricted Magnus's heart.
Magnus was out of bed faster than Alec could process. "It's late," Magnus announced as he wriggled into a pair of shiny red jeggings. His jaw was set in a hard line. "I'll start getting breakfast ready. You can shower first." Magnus shrugged on a silky black tank and took long strides across the room, moving with a dangerous feline litheness.
Alec's voice was as sharp as a stiletto heel.
Magnus came to a stop just before the door. "What?"
The sheets rustled as Alec scrambled out of bed. "What did I do? I'm sorry if I wasn't very good at giving you a massage—"
Magnus cut him off with a great sigh that echoed into the corners of the room. "Don't even pretend to think that. You, Alec Lightwood, have dangerously skillful hands." He didn't have to turn around to know that Alec was blushing.
"Then what's wrong?" Alec managed.
Magnus fisted his long fingers and his nails cut into his palms.
"Magnus?" Alec called softly, bare feet whispering against the shag rug.
Frustration wrenched Magnus's stomach into a sailor knot and he felt angry sparks dancing along his fingertips. He reflected on how upset he was with Alec for hiding his injuries, and wished hypocrisy wasn't such an unattractive trait, because he was Magnus Bane and Magnus Bane was anything but unattractive.
"If I tell you," Magnus began, and the words clung to the sides of his throat as they unwillingly came out, "you have to promise me that you won't get upset."
The ensuing silence was painful. "What happened?" Alec asked weakly, voice leaping, and Magnus could feel his gaze on his fingertips, which were glowing blue.
"Promise," Magnus insisted first, willing the sparks down.
"Promise," Alec said at once and Magnus exhaled heavily, crossing his arms over his chest. This was going to be one of those days.
"I lived in Russia in the early eighteen hundreds for a few years," Magnus began, staring steadily at the bedroom door like it was a lifeline. He leveled his voice, letting the emotion in it run dry, because that was the only way he was going to be able to get through this unpleasant part of his history.
"I was…not happy. There was a movement among the mundanes, a cultivated boredom with life. I succumbed to it, and for a time denied by own immorality. Living forever became torture. It felt as if I was imprisoned in my own body, but for a long time I was far too cowardly to take my own life.
"I was living with another warlock at the time"—Magnus did his best not to notice Alec's involuntary sharp inhale—"who shared my jaded view of life. We travelled a lot, and took to playing cards and debating philosophy with the local soldiers.
"We were in a little Cossack village, and one night we played cards with a most exceptional mundane. You could see in his eyes that he was a very proud, but a very sad man. The subject of predestination came up, and he proposed that we test fate. A soldier agreed, found a gun, not knowing whether or not it was loaded, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger." Magnus expected some sort of audible reaction from Alec, since he'd sounded so startled at hearing of one of Magnus's previous relationships, but Alec was silent. They were certainly immersed in a strange world when a mundane risking suicide was less shocking than a former romantic partner.
"The gun misfired, and the mundane lost the bet. He said that he supposed he could believe in predestination now, but was very much confused, as he had been quite sure that he had seen a sign of death on the soldier. This greatly offended and unsettled the soldier and he left shortly. I left soon after too, but was not similarly convinced, and decided that it was high time that that I test predestination myself."
"No," Alec whispered, and the horror in his voice made Magnus squeeze his eyes shut.
"I wasn't as lucky," Magnus continued with some difficulty.
A small noise of distress burst from Alec's throat, and in a paroxysm of alarm he staggered forward several steps. "No!"
"My partner was usually drunk," Magnus pushed on, "but fortunately for me he was sober that night and came when he heard the gunshot. He was a lot older, and a lot more powerful, and I don't know if I would have been able to do it, but somehow he healed me, and a week later I was up and walking." Alec was absolutely silent, and Magnus wished he was courageous enough to turn around and see his expression.
"A lot changed for me then. Two weeks later I snuck out when he was passed out one night and moved to England. I still feel guilty for leaving him like that, but I knew that I wasn't going to be strong enough to see his face every day and remember what I had almost done. I became more flamboyant then, because I didn't want to know what would happen if I let myself get bored again."
Alec remained silent, and that was perhaps the worst of all.
"Please say something," Magnus murmured, hoping he hadn't said too much.
"Bored?" Alec repeated tonelessly, and Magnus was absolutely horrified.
"No," he said firmly, whirling around. Alec's already pale skin had whitened to a ghostly pallor, as if he had been the one shot, and his blue eyes were trained on the floor. His eyelashes cast shadows stark against his cheekbones. Magnus crossed the distance between them in three strides and caught his chin, nudging it upwards. Alec lifted his head reluctantly, but stared off at the wall over Magnus's shoulder. "That's not what I mean, and you know it."
"Know what?" Alec said darkly, still refusing to meet Magnus's gaze. "That I'm just a diversion from your suicidal tendencies?"
Magnus compressed his mouth, the accusation stirring up something noxious in his stomach. He had expected as much, but it still hurt to hear. "Just listen," he insisted, tugging firmly at Alec's chin. Alec resisted with surprising strength and obstinacy. "The story isn't over yet, because I haven't mentioned the most important person."
"Who?" Alec asked softly, as if he was afraid to know.
"A young, strong, sexy, kind, talented Shadowhunter named Alec Lightwood."
Unwillingly, Alec slid his gaze over, staring at Magnus with wary expectancy.
Magnus slid his hand away from Alec's chin, down his arm to weave their fingers together. "When I first met him, all I noticed was that he was stunningly attractive behind his dreadful clothing choices, but not once did I expect he would ever return my feelings, and I could never have imagined that there could be such an amazing man under that beautiful face."
Magnus carefully stepped closer, measuring Alec's expression, and linked his hands around his waist at the small of his back. "But he did return my feelings," Magnus murmured, one corner of his lips curving up into a smile, "and he was amazing, and suddenly predestination made complete sense to me, because for the first time in over one hundred fifty years I was genuinely glad I had survived because I had finally met someone worth living for."
For one long moment, Alec stared silently with wonder spinning in his eyes, and then he pushed up and molded his mouth to Magnus's.
"I'm glad you survived too," Alec breathed, lips flopping into an overturned parenthesis.
Laughing with delight into Alec's mouth, Magnus tightened his grip around Alec's bare torso, and Alec threw his arms over Magnus's shoulders with an answering choking laugh. The slinking fabric of Magnus's top tickled at Alec's skin and his nails careened up his spine, and Alec's sneaking fingers skimmed along Magnus's waistband and his hands slid up to weave into his hair, and together they moaned and shivered at the relief of being alive.
Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.
— Leonard Cohen
Alec knew that this whole fiasco was absolutely unnecessary, but that was what made it romantic, and by the Angel, it was high time that Alec took a turn being the romantic one.
But perhaps it was best to leave the status quo good and untouched, because though Alec wasn't precisely an expert on how to romantically surprise a boyfriend after a long day of work, even he suspected that coming home to a mutilated kitchen wasn't anyone's idea of a good time.
Alec wasn't even sure how he'd managed to screw up spaghetti. It seemed like a child proof sort of food, the pasta preformed and only needing to be thrown into a pot of water for a few minutes.
But Alec had managed it. He couldn't even find a pot at first, and the one that he did unearth looked the size of a witch's cauldron. The first box of spaghetti had exploded, leaving half-invisible strands scattered all over the floor and underneath the counters and in the sink. He'd finally managed to wrangle a box into the pot, but now half of the noodles seemed to be stuck to the bottom of the pot, and the other half was floating around helplessly at the top of the water, screaming for rescue in the boiling water, losing their loved ones to the murky depths—
Alec stopped stirring and sighed. Maybe he shouldn't have watched Titanic last night.
But Magnus had wanted to so badly, and after Alec had come in to dimmed lights and precariously balanced candelabras and gourmet popcorn and nibbles at his earlobe, it wouldn't do to deny Magnus this concession. Alec was getting better, but he was still exceptionally closed off in comparison to Magnus's glittery declarations of emotion. He knew that he would never be able to admit to Magnus how sad the movie made him, and Magnus perhaps would never know, because while Magnus sobbed into tissues that magically popped in and out of existence, Alec clenched his jaw and held Magnus closer to his chest and did his best not to imagine them as the couple freezing to death in the water. It was horrifying to think of himself as either the survivor or the deceased, and he couldn't determine whether it made his stomach turn more to think of Magnus as the latter, leaving Alec heartbroken and moody for the rest of his life, or of himself as the latter, leaving Magnus—
Well. Leaving Magnus to go back to his carefree world of parties and glitter and questionable sexual partners.
Perhaps that was why Alec was here now, trying to no avail to resurrect the mutilated spaghetti, because it wasn't that Alec thought that cooking for Magnus would be enough to stave his boredom, but at least it was a step in the right direction.
After all, Alec would probably never admit this to Magnus either, but hearing of Magnus's attempted suicide and ensuing aversion to boredom was probably one of the most terrifying things he'd ever experienced.
For the past week, Alec had been unable to lose the panic he felt every time Magnus was out of sight. He knew that any good relationship had to be based on trust, and rationally he did trust Magnus, but rationality did nothing to stem the irrational images of Magnus depressed and jaded, stepping in front of a subway, moving across the pond, having a threesome with a most exceptional mundane and a nomadic, experienced warlock.
Alec roughly released the wooden spoon, letting it slip slowly into the great big, bubbling, bright red pot, and let himself fall to the floor. Leaning against the side of the island, Alec rubbed the heels of his hands against his eyes and groaned. Alec had expected that Magnus's past might turn out to be something of a problem, but he'd almost been hoping that his insecurity would be assuaged by an hour in the bedroom. It was an unpleasant surprise to discover that a lifetime of bad self-image couldn't be cured overnight.
The sound of Chairman Meow crying plaintively and scrabbling across the living room, using his claws and various pieces of furniture to propel him forward, alerted Alec to the fact that Magnus Bane had arrived.
Alec wondered whether the pot of spaghetti would be big enough to hide in.
"Chairman Meow," Magnus cooed, opening the door and dropping several items on the ground. "Fancy seeing you here." Chairman Meow gave a great yowl then broke into purring loud enough to be heard in the next room. "Oh." Magnus sounded like he was frowning, and there was a faint thud of cat feet against the floor. "I was hoping to surprise yummy Alec with this outfit," Magnus complained, still cooing, "but you've gotten your fur all over it, naughty boy."
Chairman Meow made a greatly offended noise and padded off. Alec was startled to find that the footsteps seemed to be nearing the kitchen. He stood up at once, cursing softly. Traitor.
"Hungry?" Magnus sang, boots clicking against the hardwood as he followed the treacherous cat. Alec turned towards the door reluctantly, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Magnus stopped in the doorway, startled. His cat eyes gleamed as they flicked over Alec's form and his purple lips curled into a smirk. Underneath his leather jacket, he was wearing a black mesh shirt, through which his golden skin glimmered. Low slung black pants clung to his hips, an old tattoo curling up over the waistband, and slick combat boots laced halfway to his knees. There was cat hair spattered across the fabric, but that did nothing to detract from the flush that spread across Alec's face at once and down his neck. By the Angel.
"Why, this is certainly a pleasant surprise," Magnus said as he leaned against the doorframe, voice low and silky. Alec gulped, finding that he was unable to speak. "I'll thank you for this later, Chairman Meow."
Magnus nudged Chairman Meow out of the room, leaving the cat looking absolutely outraged, and slid the door closed. "Now, now, now," Magnus crooned, slinking closer. "What have we here?" Alec stepped away from the stove, hoping that Magnus wouldn't notice the chaos that was supper right away, but Magnus couldn't have been less interested in supper.
He strode up to Alec, pushing him up against the island, and captured his mouth in a searing kiss. Alec inhaled sharply as Magnus twined his fingers up into his hair, and Magnus hummed delightedly, sending shivers scrambling down Alec's spine. The other hand slid into Alec's tee shirt, skidding up his stomach to his chest, leaving a burning trail.
Alec pulled away for air and Magnus kissed along his jawline. Breathing heavily, Alec whispered, "You're in a good mood tonight."
"It's not every day I come home to find my boyfriend cooking for me," Magnus murmured, redirecting his kisses and biting down softly on Alec's low lip. Alec gasped, his hands tightening on Magnus's hips. Magnus skimmed his lips along the other side of Alec's jaw, and too late Alec realized that he was peering over his shoulder. "What do we have here?" he wondered aloud, fingertips drumming interestedly against Alec's hip. "Pasta?"
"Um." Alec's thoughts whizzed around in his head, frantic and uncoordinated as gas molecules, and he tried to no avail to calm his thunderous heartbeat. "Sort of…"
"Mm?" Magnus hummed interrogatively, but seemed more interested with pulling Alec's shirt up over his head. Magnus's kohl rimmed eyes were intense and hooded as they looked down at Alec, and a lovely sort of heat emanated from his fingertips, and Alec didn't know if it was magic or chemistry, but either way, he lifted his arms obligingly, and his tee shirt joined the abandoned spaghetti strands on the floor.
"So," Magnus hummed, ducking his mouth to Alec's neck and skimming his nails over his torso, the skin raised with scars, "you sort of made me pasta?"
How Magnus managed to remain coherent at a time like this Alec failed to comprehend. "Um, it didn't work as well as I would have liked," Alec managed, gasping slightly.
Magnus laughed against the crook of Alec's neck, and Alec shivered, holding tighter to Magnus's waist, the fabric soft and uneven against his skin. "You messed up pasta?" Magnus clarified teasingly, eyes alight as he looked up.
"I think your kitchen is enchanted to ruin any attempts at a romantic dinner," Alec retorted.
Magnus grinned, the light dancing off his teeth. "Then we'll have to fight back, won't we?"
Alec didn't understand until Magnus pulled away and strode over to the stove. Warmth fell away from Alec's torso and he folded his arms over his chest against the cold, watching as Magnus peered down at the mess of pasta in the big red pot, tapping at his chin. For a moment, Alec panicked that this pot wasn't a cooking pot at all, and that he'd just ruined some sort irreplaceable magical item.
But Magnus simply chuckled, turning to look at an abashed Alec over his shoulder. "Well, here's your problem." Magnus gestured to the pot. "This is much too big for pasta. The water wasn't the same heat throughout." He made a gesture towards some upper cupboards that Alec hadn't noticed and the doors flew open. Inside were at least ten appropriately sized pots.
Alec flushed. "Oh."
Magnus smirked, turning back to the mess of spaghetti. "This, I'm afraid is unsalvageable. This kitchen may have defeated us on this round, but I have a trick up my sleeve." With several gestures and explosions of blue sparks, the red pot disappeared, only to be replaced by two plates of steaming spaghetti on the counter. "Voila!" Magnus exclaimed, throwing his hands up in triumph. "Avast, foul beast." Magnus gave the stove a good kick.
Alec gave a little laugh, feeling it catch at the sides of his throat, and he did his best to keep smiling, but he couldn't fight the sinking feeling of defeat in his chest. There went his chances of being a proper romantic partner. He couldn't even make decent spaghetti, and here Magnus had gone and cleaned up his mess and snapped in a beautiful meal within seconds.
Magnus frowned, seeing Alec's expression. "I know you hate when I just snap things here, but I paid for this outfit, if that makes it any better."
That wasn't why Alec was displeased, but it was surprising all the same. His eyebrows flew up. "Really? The whole thing?"
Magnus nodded, looking proud. "Indeed." Then he thought for a moment. "Except for my socks and underwear." An image of Magnus in only socks and underwear flashed through Alec's head and he did his best to dispel it before he started blushing.
"This is a first," Alec teased.
Magnus shrugged fluidly. "I was drained after my appointment, so I went shopping to relax."
Alec couldn't imagine shopping being relaxing, but he hummed and nodded anyways.
Magnus's purple lips curled upwards seductively. "You like?" he purred, placing his hands on his hips and posing.
Alec blushed furiously. "Yeah," he murmured, embarrassed.
Magnus looked pleased. "Good." He picked up the plates of spaghetti, which were arranged so meticulously that they must have been from a high class restaurant, and began making his way across the room. He paused to give Alec a quick kiss. "Put your shirt back on and meet me in the living room." He dropped a glittery wink, and then sashayed out the door.
For nearly a minute, Alec stood motionlessly, desperately trying to think of something romantic he could do now. He was considering belting into song or stripping when he realized how ridiculous and futile this whole thing was. Who was he kidding, trying to outshine Magnus, who had surely been presented with every possible romantic gift in the book over his long eight hundred years of life? With a disgusted sigh, he swiped his shirt up from the ground, brusquely shrugging it back on, and stepped out into the living room.
By the Angel, what had happened in here?
Alec was quite certain that when he'd arrived an hour earlier, the living room had been bright, but sparsely decorated. A slim flat screen had been balanced on a hot pink cabinet, a firm leather couch with sweeping lines had been stationed on a shag rug with matching pink end tables on either side, and several wriggling neon lamps had been strategically placed around the room.
But now most of the space was taken up by an enormous, soft-looking, chocolate brown couch, and a study coffee table, and even more candles than last night, this time scented ones that filled the room with a lovely, delicate fragrance that reminded him of Magnus.
Magnus had elegantly arranged himself along the couch, both plates set on the coffee table with champagne glasses and a tall green bottle. "Well?" he prompted with a smile.
Alec gulped. "Very romantic," he observed hoarsely.
"It appears that the kitchen has been thwarted once and for all." He extended one graceful hand towards Alec and crooked a finger. "Come here."
Alec did so, running a hand along the side of the couch before seating himself. "Where did this come from?" he asked, imagining the owner of an expensive furniture store finding his best pieces replaced by neon ones.
"I have a storage facility for special occasions, like business transactions, or parties, or when my boyfriend comes over for dinner."
"How handy," Alec noted.
"Rather." Magnus handed Alec his plate, then hesitated, snapped his fingers, and silverware appeared on the coffee table.
"Storage facility?" Alec guessed.
Magnus smirked. "Yes, but not mine." Alec blinked with considerable surprise and Magnus laughed once. "Would you like some?" he asked, picking up the dark bottle of wine.
Alec hesitated, compressing his mouth. He was legally an adult, but with Magnus looking like that—not that Magnus wasn't always stunning—he didn't know if he trusted himself not to do anything he wouldn't regret with alcohol in his system. "Um…" he began nervously, unsure of how to tell Magnus that he was worried that if he was intoxicated he would probably jump him.
Magnus broke out into a brilliant grin. "It's just sparkling cider," he informed Alec, who coughed a laugh in relief. "What, thought I was trying to get you drunk?' Magnus snickered, and Alec smiled sheepishly. Magnus poured them both glasses, the bubbles delicately effervescing to the surface, and when he leaned back and sipped his sparkling cider, he looked so beautiful and sophisticated that for a moment Alec simply stared and marveled that this was his boyfriend.
Magnus tipped his glass in Alec's direction. "It really isn't champagne," he prompted.
Alec blushed, looking down at his untouched drink. "Oh." He took a sip, and it tickled his throat pleasantly.
They ate mostly in silence, both too hungry for much conversation, and cuddled close to one another with occasional kisses that tasted of apple and oregano. By the time Alec was scraping the last remnants of tomato sauce off the plate, he had almost forgotten that anything was wrong and was simply reveling in the pleasure that came with Magnus's mere presence.
But then Magnus ran a hand through his spiked hair as he chuckled, inadvertently calling attention to the scar at his temple, and Alec choked mid-laugh. Magnus didn't notice at first, probably because all of Alec's laughs sounded like he was choking. Smiling coyly, he put down his empty champagne glass and gently took Alec's as well, and clambered into his lap and waved the lights dimmer and smoothed his hands down his chest and suggested a hair's breadth away from his ear that they move on to dessert.
Usually Alec would have flushed eagerly and responded with proper enthusiasm, but he couldn't help but think that this entire night had only been made possible with Magnus, because Alec couldn't cook and couldn't magic food into existence and couldn't supply comfortable date night furniture and couldn't work up the courage to get drunk and probably couldn't be properly romantic if his life depended on it, and at this rate Alec's novelty would wear off and then where would he be?
Magnus noticed that something was wrong within seconds. He frowned, pulling back, and Alec's breath caught. He picked up one of Alec's hands where they rested tensely at his hips, kissed the knuckles, and observed, "Your hands are clammy."
Alec flushed, because in addition to being boring and incompetent, now he had sweaty palms. "I'm sorry," he muttered, unable to look directly into Magnus's too lovely eyes.
"You misunderstand me," Magnus murmured, slowly moving his lips across Alec's knuckles. "It's just that your hands aren't usually sweaty, let alone clammy, and that makes me think there's something on your mind that shouldn't be there."
Alec stared firmly at the fabric of the couch, unable to speak, because if he couldn't even tell Magnus that Titanic made his stomach turn with the intense sadness it evoked, how was he supposed to tell him that he was petrified beyond belief that Magnus was going to leave him?
"Alec," Magnus prompted, sounding genuinely concerned. "What's wrong?" He continued brushing his mouth against Alec's hand, back and forth in a smooth rhythm. "Please tell me. I won't be upset."
Alec took in a deep shuddering breath. It was now or never, and if he didn't do it now this was going to eat him up inside until one day he found that there was nothing left.
By way of reply, Alec leaned forward, reached up with his free hand to gently turn Magnus's face, and pressed his lips very gently to Magnus's temple. Magnus stiffened at once, and when Alec slowly leaned back again, he found that Magnus was biting at his lower lip, brow creased with worry. "Oh," he whispered, soft as a breath.
"I'm sorry," Alec murmured back.
Magnus climbed out of Alec's lap and stood in the small space between the couch and the coffee table with his arms crossed over his chest. "I wasn't expecting this," he said, voice slick and cold, and Alec had heard Magnus speak to others this way, but never him, never to Alec like this, and he spoke with such affected detachment that it felt like the words had Alec's lungs in a death grip.
"I'm sorry," Alec said again, because that was all he could think to say.
"No, I'm sorry," Magnus said, and his lips ducked into a sharp frown. "I should have known better than to expect anything more from you." Alec would have gasped if he'd had any control over his diaphragm. "It was unfair of me to expect someone so young to carry eight hundred years of emotional baggage." Despite his smooth speech, Magnus looked more shocked and angry and hurt than Alec had ever seen him.
Alec tried to speak, but helplessness had stolen his voice box.
Magnus stepped out from between the furniture, long legs taking swift steps away from the couch. He stood facing the curtains with his back to Alec. "If that's really how you feel, you can go now," Magnus said, lifting a hand in dismissal.
As if he'd been shot with adrenaline, Alec sucked in a panicked breath and stood up. "No!" he objected at once and his voice shook with fright that he didn't bother to conceal anymore. "You can't just send me away without discussing this." Magnus dropped his hand to his side, but said nothing, and his silhouette against the curtains was so exquisite and distant that Alec vaguely wondered why he was fighting back at all. But survival instinct was strong, especially in Shadowhunters, and Alec was almost certain that now that he'd been with Magnus he wouldn't be able to live with anyone else, so he continued with an urgent openness that surprised even him.
"Just because I'm afraid doesn't mean I don't love you more than anything else in this world or any other, and just because I'm weak doesn't mean I won't fight for you with everything that I have, as long as you'll let me." Magnus dropped his other hand from his chest, and Alec knew that he was flushed, because he was brooding, lonely, silent Alec Lightwood and he didn't do this sort of thing, but at the moment he couldn't think about that because he couldn't think about anything except for the fact that his worst nightmare was coming true because Magnus was sending him away.
"I know that for you we haven't been together for very long, but for me this has changed my entire life to something I couldn't even have dreamed of. I may be a child compared to you, but I learn quickly and I know I can make you happy if you give me the chance."
Alec was breathing hard and his vision was blurring when Magnus finally turned around, but he didn't realize it was because of his tears until Magnus pointed them out. "Why are you crying?" he whispered, looking so confused and conflicted that Alec's heart panged painfully. Alec didn't move to wipe his face. "Why are you saying all this? You're the one who wants to leave."
Alec was already so thrown that he barely reacted. "What are you talking about?"
Magnus frowned, taking a frustrated step forward. "You just told me that you can't be with me anymore."
"When did I say that?" Alec demanded.
"My scar," Magnus hissed. "My past is too much for you, which is understandable, but I won't pretend isn't disappointing." His voice was tanged with bitterness, but a sudden understanding splashed Alec in the face and he laughed. The sounds seemed to enrage and perplex Magnus. "What's so funny?" he demanded.
"You misunderstand me," Alec said, echoing Magnus's earlier words, and he grinned with the rush of relief. "I wasn't saying that your past was too much for me. I want to stay with you no matter what."
Magnus squinted, eyeing Alec almost suspiciously. His arms crossed over his chest once again. "What were you saying then?"
This was the hardest part for Alec, but it was so important that it almost felt natural. "I was saying that I was afraid I would be too boring for you. You are so much more than I could ever dream to be, and my inferiority scares me. I trust you," Alec insisted, because Magnus looked so surprised that he didn't want any further misinterpretation. "I trust you more than anyone else in the world, and there will never be anyone else for me. I love you, and I know that you love me too right now, but in five years, when we've been having dinner every night and it's not new for you anymore, or in ten years, when I start getting old…I'm so afraid and I'm so sorry that I'm afraid but I don't know what to do—"
Alec was cut off because Magnus had stridden across the room with his long, lithe legs and kissed Alec with such desperation that it took his breath away. When Magnus finally pulled away, Alec saw black tear tracks down his golden cheeks. "Alec, oh, Alec," he murmured and kissed away the dampness from Alec's face. Alec reached up and wiped Magnus's tears with his thumbs, leaving black streaks of makeup, and murmured that he was sorry, but Magnus shook his head, his cat eyes gleaming with moisture, and said, "No, it was my fault, I'm not used to people wanting to stay with me, really, really wanting to, I didn't even think, I should have known you were stronger than that, I love you so much, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," and Magnus kissed every exposed spot of skin, across forehead and down the bridge of his nose and along his neck and at the crease of his elbow and in his palm, and with every press he left behind tears and faint purple shadows and the taste of saccharine sadness.
Hate leaves ugly scars, love leaves beautiful ones.
— Mignon McLaughlin
"You should have told me you wanted to be more romantic ages ago. This is fabulous."
Alec snickered, leaning down to plant a kiss on the back of Magnus's neck as he kneaded at his shoulders. "You're very welcome," he mumbled and Magnus hummed in satisfaction.
"I do wish I'd had more time in those clothes though," Magnus sighed. Alec's gaze darted over to the pile of black fabric on the coffee table, and then back to Magnus, who was dressed in only a pair of silky briefs and hot pink zebra socks, and found that he had trouble deciding which he liked better.
"You look very nice both ways," Alec observed, scooting down so he could work at Magnus's back.
"Thank you, darling," Magnus murmured, a smile in his voice. "Your help taking them off made it especially worth it." Alec blushed, and probably expecting this, Magnus chuckled.
"So what's this one?" Alec asked, lightly touching the star in the middle of the small of Magnus's back, because this was part of the deal.
"That was my first tattoo," Magnus told him cheerily. Now that he had been assured that Alec would no more leave him than he would leave Alec, he was far more inclined to share stories of his past. It also didn't hurt that Alec was doing a fantastic job relaxing him.
"It was just before turn of the century, and tattoos were getting quite popular among Downworlders. I figured it was high time I get one too, but I couldn't decide what of, because my tastes were so changeable at the time, and even when by the time I got to the tattoo artist, I didn't know what I wanted to get. I wanted it to be sophisticated, see, nothing too crude or gaudy, because I thought myself as very urbane at the time, so I asked the artist if there were any kings with tattoos. He mentioned Czar Nicholas II, whom I happened to have the slightest crush on"—Alec coughed a laugh at the idea of Magnus having been around to have a crush on a legendary ruler, and though the connection to Russia flitted through his mind, he paid it no attention—"and who also happened to have a star shaped tattoo. I approved of that choice, thinking it sounded educated, and though it had no real sentimental value at the time, over the years I've grown fond of it, and so have kept it whereas most others have been removed."
"Removed?" Alec echoed, interested.
"Yes. I still have some scars from the earlier dermabrasions."
Magnus laughed, peering back over his shoulder to grin cheekily. "Let's see if you can find them."
"I accept the challenge," Alec shot back confidently. "Turn over so I can see the other side."
"Ooh, assertive," Magnus marveled, flipping over obediently and lacing his fingers at the back of Alec's neck as he began his search down Magnus's torso, kissing every once in a while as he went.
"Do you find it strange that we always seem to make up like this?" Alec wondered against the smooth plane of Magnus's stomach, unmarked by either a belly button or a scar.
"Hm?" Magnus hummed, seeking clarification. Alec glanced up and found his eyes at half mast, a gentle smile tugging at his lips, the purple color of which had begun to fade. Alec wondered absently whether the missing purple had been transferred to him. "Are you complaining?"
Alec ducked back down to Magnus's stomach. "Not at all." He nipped lightly and Magnus jumped.
"You tease." Alec simply snickered. "Anyways, I don't think it's as much that we use our gorgeous bodies to make up with each other as much as that we're always doing this, so naturally they would come out after a fight."
"How logical. Hey, I think I found something!"
Magnus craned his neck to peer down at his stomach, eyes dancing in amusement at the sound of Alec's triumph, and then shook his head. "Try again, darling. That's leftover from a few nights ago."
Alec thought for a moment, and then flushed deliciously. "Oh."
Alec spent another twenty minutes finishing up the massage and searching for tattoos and scars. "You've only found about half," Magnus informed him, looking proud that his body decorations had turned out to be so evasive. When Alec pouted, Magnus assuaged his disappointment by adding, "That just means there's more for next time." While Alec was busy blushing, Magnus stood up on his knees. "Alright, your turn."
"What—" Alec started to ask, but Magnus cut him off by snapping away his tee shirt. Alec gasped, instinctively raising his arms to cover himself, and Magnus snickered, gently pulling his arms away.
"Lie down," Magnus urged, cutting off Alec's protests with a kiss and then standing up. Alec looked alarmed when he saw that Magnus's fingertips were glowing. "I know what I'm doing," Magnus assured him.
"Okay…" Alec conceded, looking wary as he cushioned his head on the pillow Magnus had been using and wrapped his arms around it.
Grinning in anticipation of his reaction, Magnus straddled Alec's torso and ran his hands down his back. Alec didn't disappoint.
Gasping, Alec arched his back and shuddered, gripping the pillow tightly. "By the Angel," he breathed tremulously, "what was that?"
"Just one of the advantages of being a warlock," Magnus quipped, drawing glowing patterns over Alec's skin with his nails and Alec's mouth fell open, breath puffing out in a gust.
"You know," Magnus said conversationally after a few moments, and lifted his hands to make sure Alec was listening, "just because I can whip up meals and ambiance and a massage effortlessly doesn't mean I can do it any better than you." Alec opened eyes that had fallen closed, looking up curiously, albeit rather hazily at Magnus. "Just the fact that you put in so much effort makes it infinitely more valuable to me. And don't ever feel inferior, because without magic I couldn't make dinner or move furniture or give a massage half as well as you can."
"But you do have magic," Alec pointed out.
"Irrelevant to the argument," Magnus dismissed with a sigh. "Can't you accept a compliment?" Alec still peeked up at him hesitantly, so Magnus softened his gaze and with the utmost sincerity, said, "I love you."
Alec looked dazzled. "I love you too."
Magnus smiled fondly. "Good." He lowered his luminous hands and Alec gasped, wriggling. "Now back to the task at hand."
Several minutes later, when Alec was spent from reacting with surprise and simply enjoying the sensations running through his body, Magnus sat up and snapped. "Don't move," he warned.
"I don't think I can," Alec mumbled against the pillow, immobilized by happiness. Magnus snickered, and there was a cool pressure against the small of Alec's back. Alec obediently remained still until Magnus pulled away.
"Voila," he announced, sounding proud and devious. "You're mine now."
This was mysterious enough to startle Alec into mobility. He twisted around, first to look at Magnus, who was grinning with a purple gel pen in hand, and then to peer over at the small of his back, upon which purple letters glittered.
"Magnus Bane," Magnus whispered. He ducked down to blow lightly on the spot, sending a delicate shiver down Alec's spine, and then kissed it. He looked up for approval, and Alec smiled with delight blooming in his chest.
"My turn." Alec flipped over, sitting up and reaching out for the pen. Magnus's eyes lit up, thrilled that Alec was playing along, and turned around obligingly. Alec uncapped the pen, and then paused, staring mystified at the preexisting mark on Magnus's lower back.
He thought for a long moment, engaged in an inner war, and then smiled with the excitement of inspiration, and leaned in to sign his name with the star dotting the i.
"Voila," he murmured, kissing the star, and Magnus twisted to see Alec's handiwork. He grinned, nodding in approval.
"Best tattoo ever."