Magnus's lips traveled over Alec's skin, and he had the sensation of floating. There was an electricity in the warlock's touch, and Alec was never sure if it was from his powers or something else - something inside Alec. He ran a hand through Magnus's hair, upsetting the perfectly gelled spikes, as Magnus brought his mouth from his neck, back to land on Alec's lips.
These were feelings Alec had never known, this touch, this combined passion and carefulness. Magnus was almost tender with him; he treated Alec as if he were fragile, sometimes, as if he were something he couldn't bear to break. Going from the hard life of his Shadowhunter company, where he was expected to be anything but fragile, to this softness gave him a kind of exhilaration. He arched up to kiss the warlock back, their bodies pressing against each other. Their shirts were off, and he ran his hands over Magnus's shoulders, marveling at the feel of his bare skin. Electric, indeed.
After awhile, when they had been kissing so heartily, moving together so eagerly, that the next step had become inevitable, Magnus reached a hand down to unfasten Alec's jeans, and Alec froze. He always did. He could forget everything for awhile when he was here, in Magnus's apartment, being held or kissed or whispered to, but this great well of hesitation opened up inside of him every time he thought about staying the night, about the excuses and the lies he would have to tell at home, and what his parents, or Isabel, or Jace, or the Clave, would think of him...
"You know," said Magnus, more amused than anything else. "I'm beginning to find your vacillation regarding the rejection of my affection to be rather endearing."
"I'm sorry," Alec said softly, looking up into Magnus's peculiar - and mesmerizing - eyes.
Magnus smiled mischievously. "I wasn't complaining." He shifted so that he was propped up easier on his arms, his chest hovering over Alec's. "It's such a mystery: will you stay with me, or will you run from me?" His smile widened again. "Of course, I know some boys who like to play both at once."
Alec sat up, knocking Magnus off of him. His heart was pounding, and suddenly he wanted out of there. He stood, zipping his jeans back up and looking around the apartment floor for his shirt. Why did he do this to himself? Why did he let himself forget everything that was wrong with this situation, only to have it come slamming back full force into his chest? It made him ache, an ache like he were going to cry.
"Alec," Magnus said. He sat up on the couch, and his unreadable eyes were fixed on him.
Alec shook his head, still searching for his shirt. He couldn't imagine where it had gone.
Alec didn't answer.
"Tell me, or I might have to give you some sort of plague. Bubonic, probably. And heaven knows I only know how to conjure it, not how to get rid of it."
"I'm not..." Alec started. "I can't..." He took a deep breath and tried to get his stuttering under control. "I won't compete with your other... lovers. I don't want to do that." He stopped looking for his shirt, and stared at the floor. "I'm risking so much being here, and I shouldn't be here at all. Not for some sort of... polyamorous dalliance." He brought himself to meet Magnus's level gaze. "I know there are others. I know you never said there weren't. But that's not what I want."
"What do you want?"
They were coming dangerously close to something Alec had been avoiding since the first time they had kissed: any sort of definition to what they did.
"I don't know," Alec said in a small voice, looking back at the floor. It was much more comforting to look at the tiles than at Magnus's expression. "Mutual exclusivity?"
Magnus laughed. He got up and stretched lazily. His wiry, towering body was so appealing to Alec in ways he couldn't explain. He walked over to where Alec stood, to just inches from him, and looked down into his face. "Very well," he said. "Mutual exclusivity. Just you and me, then."
"Really?" Alec hadn't expected Magnus to agree. Not without the exchange of some label, at least. And as much as he wanted to say the word boyfriend, it wasn't going to happen yet. He couldn't do it.
"Alexander Lightwood," Magnus said, a small smile curling his lips. He reached a hand up and touched Alec's face. "I pride myself on my ability to search out beauty. I know when to stop looking."
Alec couldn't breathe. He was caught up in the warlock's steady, sincere gaze. He wanted to protest that he wasn't beautiful. No one in the world had ever thought him beautiful in that way before, and he was sure that he wasn't it. But it wasn't a protest that came out of his mouth. "Let's go to bed," he said, and Magnus grinned.
Later, deep into early morning, close to daybreak, Alec lay next to Magnus, watching his face, thinking he slept. The High Warlock of Brooklyn opened one eye, and glared at him. Alec hadn't previously known it was possible to glare with only one eye.
"You're staring at me. Stop it."
"Sorry," Alec whispered. "I thought you were sleeping."
"I was. I have mystical powers that alert me to anyone gazing on this majestical visage. It's so I can guard against overenthusiastic fans."
Alec wasn't quite sure if Magnus was joking. "Alright, I'll stop looking at you," he said, and settled his head back on Magnus's chest. Magnus stroked his hair back from his face, his fingers lingering as he wrapped his arm around him.
"You were staring at my eyes," he said quietly. "Warlock's mark."
"No I wasn't."
"Liar." He sighed. "I'm used to it."
"I think your eyes are beautiful," Alec said impulsively, then bit his tongue. He did think that, but he wasn't sure if Magnus even cared.
"Thank you," was all Magnus said. And then he was asleep, his chest rising and falling in deep, steady breaths that made Alec feel sleepy himself.
Magnus woke alone the next morning - or maybe it was afternoon - bright light streaming in through the curtains that he had forgotten to close. This bed was really too big for one person, he realized, stretching and staring up at the ceiling. Alec always left early, headed to make excuses for his absence at the Institute - if anyone had noticed. They were all in an uproar back there anyway. Valentine, Jace, Clary. All these things that shouldn't concern Magnus, but did.
He felt a little irritated this morning, though. Nephilim, he thought. Always running off after something, never caring who they leave behind. That was when he saw the note folded up on his bedside table - the table covered with the rainbow zebra patterned throw. He unfolded the paper and read Alec's scrawled note:
I've never wanted to leave a place less. I'm sorry to go without telling you good morning or kissing you goodbye, but there really will be hell to pay if I'm not back at the Institute in the next hour. Izzy will be unbearable as is. I still wish I could stay, I don't get to see you enough.
Thank you for last night. And for everything else.
P.S. I'm watching your majestical visage right now, you sleeping liar."
Magnus couldn't help smiling. He snapped his fingers, and found himself in his favorite rainbow leather pants and a loose white shirt threaded with gold. He folded up the note and stuck it in his shirtfront pocket, thinking that the Shadowhunters weren't all such a bad lot.