"Five minutes to midnight!" Jace yelled, grabbing Clary's hand. She laughed and reached up to move some of her fiery hair out of her field of vision, smiling at him.

Alec turned away from the festivities in the living room and started walking towards the kitchen where Magnus was talking to Jocelyn and Luke, apparently discussing the proper length of time to bake a particular dish. Magnus was waving his arms around animatedly while pointing to the oven as Jocelyn nodded along, a serious look on her face. Luke was staring at the counter where the snacks awaited, quietly resisting the urge to break away from Jocelyn's rough grip on his arm.

He glanced around to find Isabelle, but she'd disappeared already. Upon a second look around he didn't see Simon either, so he assumed they were off somewhere making up after whatever fight they'd had a few days before.


He blinked and looked over at Magnus, who was gesturing for him to come join them. Alec smiled and walked over from where he'd been standing in the kitchen entryway, coming to stand next to Magnus. His arm brushed against the velvety red fabric swirling around his tall, thin frame, making him look very much like the warlock he was. His hair was spiked up with red frosted tips, with splashes of silver mixed in, creating swirls of red and silver along the black threads of hair.

Even his eyelashes were long and silvery, Alec noticed as Magnus smiled down at him, reaching out to pat him on the shoulder. Jocelyn mumbled something about checking on the kids and practically dragged Luke out of the kitchen, who was making whimpering sounds as the food moved out of his reach.

"Did you need something, darling?" Magnus asked, turning back to the oven. He reached up onto the stovetop and pulled on one of his star-patterned oven mitts so he could safely get the food out from inside. He pulled open the oven door and Alec stepped aside from the wave of heat shimmering just above the now-lowered door, dissipating into the warm kitchen air.

"Just wanted to let you know it's less than five minutes to midnight," Alec responded, shrugging. "Are you going to join us in the living room?"

"Come now, you know I'd never miss a good party," Magnus said over his shoulder, carefully lifting a glass tray out of the oven, setting it on a burner atop the stove. He removed the oven mitt and tossed it onto the counter once again. "I was just finishing up in here so I could be with all of you out there."

"You better be," Alec said, then felt his face flush a second later as he realized how forceful and unlike himself that sounded. He watched Magnus turn to face him and raise an eyebrow, a small smirk tugging at the edge of his delicately red lip-gloss-frosted lips.

"Was that a challenge, or a threat?" he replied, the smirk growing in length.

"Just…never mind, I'll see you out there." Alec turned on the heel of his dress shoe and slunk out of the kitchen before anyone could notice he was gone. Magnus watched him pick up a wine glass half-filled with red wine from one of the many tables expertly placed every seven feet for maximum food and drink accessibility, and drain it in one gulp. He set the glass back down on another table and sank into one of the couches as Magnus exhaled sharply with an amused note in his breath.

"Three minutes!" Clary called out, snuggling up against Jace as they sat on the floor watching the New Year's Eve festivities on the television floating in the air above the fireplace. Magnus always had such a flair for the dramatic, and didn't like using conventional things like wall mounts and hammers.

"So what is everyone going to do differently next year?" Jocelyn asked, standing behind the couch where Luke was laying down. He was already half-asleep and she reached over to hit him lightly on the top of his head, causing him to jolt up in alarm. Maryse and Robert Lightwood were sitting on another couch, talking quietly to each other, choosing to ignore the rest of the room in favor of having some time together. Maia and Jordan were sprawled on the floor, laughing about something during their last hunt together, and a few other people were milling around the large room, mostly friends of Magnus that Alec didn't recognize.

"Practice more with runes," Clary said, smiling over at her mom.

"Help Clary practice…other stuff," Jace said, running his fingers down Clary's arm. She shivered and leaned back to kiss his cheek, ignoring the look Jocelyn was giving them.

"I'm going to get the band to actually pick a name," Simon piped up from the corner. Everyone turned to look at him and Isabelle leaning against the wall, having suddenly appeared there, looking as though they were trying to be the coolest people in the room. Him dressed in a slightly too-pressed dress shirt that didn't quite fit properly was spectacularly ruining the illusion, though Isabelle looked fantastic in a form-fitting silver dress with a split along the fabric showing her thigh-high black boots, her jet-black hair piled on top of her head in one of those messy-but-exactly-right updos that hardly any girls could properly pull off.

Alec was grateful Magnus had laid out an outfit for him to wear earlier that afternoon, and was sporting a deep crimson button-up dress shirt and fitted black slacks. He'd buttoned it all the way up and had been attempting to wrangle the black skinny tie around his neck when Magnus had come in, fresh from the shower only half an hour before people were scheduled to start arriving, wearing only his silk robe.

"Alec, why aren't you wearing the tie I laid out for you?" Magnus lectured as he swept into the room, sitting next to Alec on the couch with a flourish. Alec glared over at him and reflexively reached up to play with his unbuttoned collar.

"I ran out of time," he defended, trying not to look at the twinkle in Magnus' eye.

"One minute left!" Jace and Clary called out together, starting to laugh together over something on the television.

Magnus reached over and carefully set a hand on Alec's leg, smiling at him as he moved it up his leg a few inches, squeezing lightly. Alec jumped a little and quickly stood up, brushing off his pants leg.

"I'm going to get a refill," he excused himself, walking back to the kitchen. He hurried away and ducked into the kitchen, leaning against the refrigerator, waiting for the inevitable storm-in from Magnus. Sure enough, he was only seconds behind, sweeping into the kitchen to face down Alec.

"That was quite rude."

Alec shrugged. "Sorry, you know I'm not good with the whole PDA thing."

Magnus cocked his head. "You children and your lingo confuse me sometimes."

"Public display of affection," Alec clarified, shaking his head. "It means I don't appreciate you feeling me up in front of Jocelyn and Luke, not to mention everyone else."


"And what have I told you about using my full name? It's weird," he interrupted, crossing his arms over his chest. "And why bring up the tie thing in front of everyone? You know why I'm not wearing one—"

"I'm sorry," Magnus apologized, shaking his head. "Alec…I just wanted to spend time with you before the whole ball-dropping thing."

"Do you even care about this tradition?"

Magnus frowned. "Why would you ask that? Of course I care."

"You've been around for how many of these things, like, over two hundred? Surely you're tired of these things by now."

Everyone started to cheer from the living room as the countdown started to signal the final seconds of the year. Alec and Magnus stared at each other as the shouting and cheering grew louder, filling the empty air between them as it echoed around the kitchen.

"Are we really going to do this right now?" Magnus asked quietly, his eyes flashing with hurt. Alec chewed on the inside of his cheek and shook his head.

"Dammit, you know I can't resist that puppy-dog look of yours," he said, pushing himself away from the refrigerator with his backside. His arms uncrossed and they moved around Magnus' waist, pulling him close. Magnus grinned and tilted his head as he placed his hands on Alec's biceps, squeezing more roughly than before.

Their lips met lightly at first, listening to the ruckus in the living room grow in intensity. Isabelle was screaming about Simon doing something inappropriate and they could hear Luke trying to calm everyone down, but soon the din melted away as they sank into each other's embrace, shutting out the world. Magnus lightly bit Alec's lower lip, letting out a low growl between their mouths, and Alec responded by sliding his hands down Magnus' waist and around to his sides, pulling him even closer.

"Happy New Year," Alec whispered in a voice barely loud enough to be heard over the dull roar of the others.

"Happy New Year, darling," Magnus whispered back, shifting his weight so he could lean forward to nibble on Alec's earlobe. He laughed and pushed Magnus away half-heartedly, wishing they were really alone.

"We should join the others before they get suspicious," he said, smiling up at Magnus, who was beaming.

"Let them wait," Magnus replied, kissing him again roughly. He parted Alec's lips with his tongue and relished the feeling of him squirming in his arms, knowing he was driving Alec crazy that they were running the risk of being discovered by their friends or, worse, his parents.

"Magnus, please," Alec gasped out, breaking away. They looked at each other, locking eyes, and Magnus gave him his practiced smirk, winking slightly.

"See you after the party," he breathed, watching Alec turn bright crimson, matching the shade of his dress shirt, his mouth painted with a light covering of red lip gloss, smeared just slightly outside his lip line. He broke away and sashayed out through the kitchen door, shouting words of congratulations to the others, leaving Alec leaning against the refrigerator, looking flustered.