Magnus comes home to Alec standing on the balcony, and his lips quirk up, happy to see that Alec has beat him home for a change and that it's so early and they have so much of the evening together stretched out in front of them. He is already planning their night together, where they will go for dinner, where they will go for dessert, how they will fall together on the couch in a tipsy, giggling mess later on in the evening and trade kisses and stories of their day. It will be absolutely perfect and he could sigh with the thought of it.

He approaches Alec on the balcony and is about to wrap his arms around the shadowhunter's waist, about to whisper words of greeting into his ear, press kisses to his cheek, when he notices something is…


Alexander is there but not there; he is still in an unnerving sort of way. And perhaps it is some sort of sixth sense, or perhaps it is Magnus just knowing Alec as well as he does, but he just knows there is something amiss, that his Alexander is not okay and this night will not go as Magnus had hoped it would, just ten seconds ago. And he feels a twinge of disappointment at that, but, well, making sure Alexander is okay is far more important than sipping wine together in Spain or Italy or France.

"Alexander?" Magnus says gently, moving to stand beside Alec on the balcony instead, reaches a hand out to touch one of Alec's that is gripping tightly at the edge of the balcony; his hands are white with the strength he's using to grip at it, and Magnus isn't sure what he is more worried for: his balcony or Alec's poor fingers.

Alec flinches when Magnus touches him, and Magnus is sure it's just because he isn't paying attention and hadn't heard Magnus come home, hadn't heard him make his way out to the balcony. Where is Alec's mind, Magnus wonders, that has him so distracted and so distant?

"Is everything alright?" Magnus adds, voice just as soft, and suddenly he is afraid of what the answer might be, is afraid that something has happened, though he knows that if that were the case, he would have heard something by now, if not from Alec, then from someone else. If there was a crisis with the outside world that concerned either of them, Magnus would already know about it and would be comforting Alec appropriately.

That knowledge only scares Magnus all the more, he is aware in that split second.

Alec shakes his head, and suddenly the grip that was on the edge of the balcony is on Magnus' hand instead, and the gesture breaks Magnus' heart for reasons he doesn't understand. He steps closer to Alexander—his poor, poor Alexander—and leans his head against Alec's, and in that proximity he hears a quiet sob that he knows Alec is trying to stifle, is trying to hide. Magnus closes his eyes and wishes for nothing more than to be able to take Alexander's pain away from him, if only for a moment.

"Oh, Angel," Magnus sighs, "what can I—"

"Just…" Alec interrupts, voice thick with a sob he is still trying to keep in. "just be here with me," he says, voice a plea more than anything else.

"Of course," Magnus replies with a sad, soft quirk of his lips.

Alec leans his head back against Magnus', and Magnus doesn't know for sure if they will talk about this later, if Alec will be up for it, if he will want to, or if they will get dinner and try to put it out of their minds, all he knows is that, for this moment, Alec needs him in this small way, needs this comfort that only he can provide, and he will provide it for as long as he can.

He only wishes it could always be enough.