Love 'em, but don't own 'em.
Alec upturned his dresser drawer and watched the wave of dark clothes land on the floor. He was flustered, crumpling already wrinkled tshirts and sweaters with his careless shifting. He was irrationally compelled to stomp on every article. He was quickly concluding that he would rather face another horde of demons than confront packing for a trip with Magnus. His boyfriend. For an indefinitely period of time, but certainly longer than the occasional overnight or the one weekend they'd spent together.
With a surly sigh, Alec flung himself on the bed.
"Trouble in paradise?" Alec suddenly couldn't draw up the energy to turn his head.
"I have to get to paradise first," he muttered as his parabatai flung himself down beside him. "I don't think I'll make it."
"Not with that attitude you won't," Jace advised sagely. Alec felt less irrational when he was suppressing the urge to stomp on Jace.
Alec waited for the mocking to begin. He'd already exchanged words with Isabelle, who'd been trying to counsel him in matters of fashion and love, which had ended when he threatened to leave without saying goodbye to her if she didn't exit his room. That threat wouldn't carry the same weigh with Jace, and besides, he was considering calling the whole thing off anyway. Afterward he didn't want to be called a coward and a liar.
They sat in silence for several minutes before Alec caved and looked over at Jace. His eyes were closed, his face buried in his arms. Only his quirking lips told Alec he was awake, and that he was aware of being watched.
"You're freaking out over nothing, you know."
"I am not freaking out," Alec said through gritted teeth. He grimaced just at the taste of the word. Jace was developing a familiarity with mundane slang thanks to Clary. It felt too raw on Alec's tongue, too emotional. He resisted the impulse to freak.
Jace opened his eyes. The warm gold seemed to move and bubble with the laughter he was clearly holding back. They were quite close, which Alex was used to. He could have reached out and touched Jace's arm if he wanted. But he'd never had that desire, not really, not the way he felt with Magnus. What Alec had once thought was romantic love was an extension of the fierce loyalty and protectiveness he felt for his blood brother, as maddening as he was being at present. He suspected Jace saw himself more as a helpful heckler.
"No? Well, you don't look like your usual calm, collected self. You act as if you've never abandoned your family and gone galavanting off to Europe with a dangerous warlock harboring impure intentions before."
Alec visibly paled as Jace perfectly summed up what was bothering him about this proposed vacation – everything. He wasn't the guy who did things like this. He'd never been so far away, had never done anything exciting that didn't involve killing demons, and he certainly didn't go on romantic flings with highly attractive men with entrancing cat eyes and seductive smiles that made his insides shiver.
"I'm going to call him and say I can't go," he said weakly.
"And tell him what? You have nothing to wear?"
"Shut up. You're not helping."
"You want my help?" Jace was on his feet before Alec registered him moving. He was in a half crouch, a position from which he could comfortably attack or defend. He opted for the aggressive approach, and Alec had just enough time to roll off the bed as Jace's hand whipped through the space he'd been occupying a millisecond before.
"What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?" Jace was launching items at him from the pile on the floor. He dodged a sweater, batted away a shoe, but didn't see the belt just behind it until it knocked him between the eyes. "Dammit, Jace! Stop!"
He rubbed his forehead in irritation. The room was an even bigger disaster. Jace tossed a black duffle bag at his feet. "Get packing, Lightwood. Before I have to call your sister up here. I know she'd love to help tie you up and personally escort you to Brooklyn."
With a scowl, Alec wrenched the bag up and began stuffing it at random. Anything to shut his parabatai up. He could still call it off, he told himself, as he shoved his toothbrush into the front pocket of his bag. He took a mental note of what was for dinner – roast lamb, one of his favorites – as he said brief goodbyes to his mother and sister. Maryse's eyes brimmed with worry, Izzy's with excitement for him. He wished he felt the same.
Jace was the last face he saw, leaning against the door of the Institute with a smug smile.
"See you soon," Alec said, hoisting his bag over his shoulder.
"You'd better not," Jace said, and shut the door in Alec's face.
Alec felt a slight shiver run up his spine as he stared back at the door, like he was leaving behind some place or thing he wouldn't be able to return to. Was he being crazy? Hadn't he wanted this? He willed himself to push aside the worry and remember the giddy thrill he'd felt when Magnus had first invited him on the trip of a lifetime.
Alec's sides were sore from laughing so hard. He collapsed on the couch and rubbed absently at his side while he waited from Magnus to return. They'd spent the evening entertaining Catarina, Magnus's warlock friend who'd recounted several hilarious adventures the two of them had shared over the centuries while they split a bottle of wine.
Magnus returned from escorting Catarina out and sprawled on the floor, leaning against the couch just above Alec's head. The feel of Magnus's long fingers in his hair made him sigh.
"Catarina liked you," Magnus said. "She's never taken with Shadowhunters. But then, you are exceptional in that respect, as in many others."
"You're – The things you've done. Both of you. I haven't done anything, been anywhere. You're so..." Alec propped himself up on his elbow, his eyes taking in all of Magnus almost as if for the first time. He hadn't changed over the course of the evening, but after hearing bits of his history running wild in South America and making a name for himself in London, Alec couldn't help trying to see signs of Magnus's adventures in his face that looked so young.
"Go on," Magnus purred, his lips close enough to threaten Alec's focus. There was nothing but his bemused smile to hint at what he might be thinking.
"Incredible." Amazing. Breathtaking. It was difficult to find the right adjectives to use for Magnus. Sometimes Alec thought he needed new languages to describe him, for none of the worlds in the modern or ancient languages he knew came out sounding anything but lame.
"Why, thank you." Magnus showed his genuine appreciation further by laying his lips over Alec's with a firm insistence. Alec melted off the couch and into his arms, his head swimming from the stories and the kissing.
It was much later when Alec regained a steady mind, by which time he was leaning against the pillows in bed with Magnus curled against his bare chest in a decidedly catlike position. His thoughts kept turning over the evening, and he couldn't help ruminating over the idea that these new pieces he had of Magnus's past were only small insights into his hundreds of years and millions of experiences on Earth.
"Someday..." Magnus stirred at the sound of his voice. "Someday I want to see the things you've seen." He wasn't even sure quite what he meant as he was saying it. Simultaneously he knew he was reaching for some way to feel closer to Magnus, to understand him more, but he also felt a longing to see new things for himself, for his own benefit.
"I want to show them to you. The whole world." Magnus locked eyes with him. In these moments when they were alone Alec felt closest to him, like his layers of mysteries and secrets were not surrounding his heart, which was shining on his face, waiting to be picked up and cradled by Alec's.
"But you've seen everything already," Alec said, protesting purely from the practical standpoint of not wanting to bore his boyfriend by forcing him to endure recreations of scenes he'd lived before.
"Everything with you is new," Magnus said gently, laying a hand on Alec's cheeck. "You are a breath of fresh air, Alexander Lightwood."
Alec tried to protest again, but Magnus silenced him with a finger. "I've seen so much of the beauty and wonder of this world. How much more wonderful to see them with the person I love?"
Alec's mouth stilled under Magnus's hand. His touch was light, but Alec still felt the heat of him, the memory in his skin of electricity tingling every nerve ending. His stomach tightened with desire, but deeper than the physical need was his craving for what Magnus was offering him. He could almost see the image in Magnus's mind. Them. Together. Elsewere.
"When do we leave?" He whispered, barely daring to listen to himself admit the secret of his heart.
"Give me a week. I'll take care of everything." Magnus was laughing, and so was Alec.
"Where will we go? For how long?"
"Everywhere. And how about forever?"
"Magnus!" Alec kissed him, still laughing. He wanted to say yes. He pushed away the thought needling at the back of his mind that he didn't have forever like Magnus did. That there would be things to do at the Institute, battles to fight most likely, but for one night he wanted to nurture his perfect dream of another life, one of perfect happiness and love.
When Alec unlocked the door and let himself into Magnus's apartment he didn't mention that he'd been fighting a panic attack on the front steps for half an hour.
"What took you so long?" Magnus grabbed Alec's bag in one arm and swept him into the apartment with an urgent hand on his back. Alec looked around in mild alarm.
"Were you robbed?" He asked plainly.
"No one would dare rob the High Warlock of Brooklyn," Magnus said, with a slightly offended air. Alec thought it was a fair question, given the disarrayed state of the room. Furniture was upturned, cabinets were spilling their contents on the floor, and the rug was inexplicably shredded to ribbons. "But what kept you? I expected you hours ago."
Alec mumbled something about taking care of last minute things at the Institute. Thankfully, Magnus was only half listening. After a hello kiss, he disappeared deeper into the apartment while Alec stood awkwardly beside his bag in the living room.
"I'm just about finished preparing," Magnus said, reappearing with Chairman Meow clamped between his arms. The cat was making a low growling sound at being held captive.
"I thought your cat was staying with Catarina." He let a joke about Magnus and the Chairman enjoying a vacation themselves die at the back of his throat. He was too afraid that he'd sound overly enthusiastic about switching places with the cat.
"I'm sending him off now. I just couldn't bear to be parted with him too soon. And he put up a bit of a fuss about going." Magnus gestured to the destroyed room. "Au revoir, mon chat. BEHAVE YOURSELF. Catarina is not as friendly as she looks." He planted a loud kiss on the furry head poking out between his arms, which earned him a yowl. With a chuckle, Magnus snapped his fingers and his arms were suddenly empty. "So, that's that. Now it's just cleaning up."
Magnus moved to the center of the room and raised his arms again to magic the room back to its usual state. Alec watched him bounce on the balls of his feet as he worked, buzzing with energy.
"Wait until you see where we're having dinner tonight," Magnus said. "Though we're five hours behind and running late, so we've missed our reservation, but I'm sure I've got enough clout to get us squeezed in anyway. And then tomorrow we're-"
Alec was still, looking at Magnus with eyes as wide and clear as the deep sea. Magnus was learning to read those eyes, which was made easier once he stopped trying to find coded meanings in Alec's expressions. Sometimes it was hardest to see what was most plain, and Alec was as straightforward a man as he'd ever encountered. What he saw in his gaze now was equal parts wonder and fear, laced with what he thought was a streak of desire, though the last could have been him projecting his own emotions.
"You're really looking forward to this, aren't you?" Alec said.
"More than I have looked forward to anything in a long, long time." Alec felt the force behind Magnus's words. He almost gasped as his mind cleared for the first time in days.
All week he'd been battling against his rising panic about the trip. He'd woken up that morning in a cold sweat about the thought of leaving his safe world to see new horizons by Magnus's side. Alec shook his head. Magnus, who had lived over 800 years and was the most excited Alec had ever seen him in that moment, was the sun dispelling the clouds that had gathered around him.
He stepped forward until he was in the circle of Magnus's upraised arms. He laced his arms around his boyfriend's neck and pulled him down the few inches that separated them, savoring the sweet pull of Magnus inhaling him. He felt suddenly light as air. How could he have been so stupid, to have completely missed how much this meant to Magnus? His own concerns fluttered away like so much ash.
Alec smiled for the first time since he'd arrived at Magnus's apartment. "Will you promise to let me call the Institute every night to check in? And to tell me all the right places to ohh and ahh?"
"Of course. And just a bit of advice – When in doubt, do what feels natural."
Alec laced his fingers through Magnus's and squeezed. "Alright. Then I'm ready whenever you are."