Presenting the belated birthday fanfic gift #2 to my friend, Ashley. Somehow the idea of malec + Light My Candle came to mind and I couldn't get it go. Hope you like it.
An Enlightening Conversation
New York City.
The big apple.
The city of dreamers.
The land of possibilities and beauty and culture all rolled into one.
Any other day, any other time, in any other fucking weather, Alec would normally agree with any of the terms usually associated with the well-known, well-loved city.
However, at the moment, hunched over his desk, gripping a pen in his cold-numb fingers, surrounded by dim light burning from the two candle-sticks burning beside him (thanks to their landlord who was a cheapskate dick), only one came to mind as Alec thought about the city.
A complete and total shithole.
A shithole for those like him who were struggling and living Avenue A, a resident apartment complex for the struggling artists and dreamers such as him and his friends, the strippers and whores, the recovering/current addicts, the near-homeless.
A shithole because in the very same apartment complex, he lived with his friend, Simon, they were close to being evicted by their dick of a landlord who plastered thousands of final notifications on every door, every wall, slipping those sickening pink slips underneath every crack.
A shithole because the same very dick of a landlord, as an extra bonus he joked as an early holiday gift, cut off the power and heat because in his mind that would help nudge a faster move out or payout. Whichever came first.
A fun fact that tended to overlooked about New York, along with the weather, which was crazy. During the summer, the heat was so intense, the humidity wrapped around you like a suffocating blanket, that even the slightest movement nearly cost you a heatstroke. During the winter which they were currently thing, New York rivaled the climate of the ice-age. Thanks to the no-heat, Avenue A was set at a constant negative ten and dropping.
So, yup, another reason why shithole was a fitting term for the city. Most of all, it was a shithole because he had been sitting in front of his desk for the past two hours, pen in hand, journal open and spread out in front of him, and came up with absolute shit.
Much like he has been for almost a year now, tying to the reason why he and his band hadn't booked a gig in months, why he felt like shit every time Simon gave him a comforting smile and said things will be fine, why their rent always came up short and why their landlord was too happy to kick them out.
Because he, former piano-player and songwriter for their band, claimed hit-marker according to Simon for indie-bands, hasn't been able to write a song in months. Not since early February.
"What are you sulking about?" Alec's heart nearly flew up to his chest at the familiar drawl. He whipped his head over to the black leather loveseat that had been vacant for months.
Jace smirked at him, perched in his favorite chair. "What? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"You can never run out of ideas, Alec," He truly no idea that every word coming out of his mouth was making Alec's resistance to leap his seat and crush him into a hug, to make sure he was really there, weaker by the second. "That's why your head's so big. It's full of ideas. Besides, your muse is always around to help inspire you."
No, he wasn't. Not anymore. Not since that horrible blowout they had the night before the morning Simon called him, screaming, crying, after finding Jace.
Or rather his corpse.
The memory was like a punch to the gut, freezing his veins. Alec's eyes glanced back at the couch, finding it empty the way it was before. How it would be forever.
Stinging-hot pressure building behind his eyes. He pressed his fingers hard against them before that pressure produced tears.
"I am," he declared, the words bouncing off the empty apartment. "officially losing it."
Maybe Simon was right and the pressure was getting to him. It was the same reasoning his friend tried to use hours earlier, inviting him to the housing protest rally his girlfriend, Maia, was throwing in a last-ditch attempt to save them from eviction.
"It will be fun," Simon said with a grin, not minding the scowl he got in return. "It will be empowering, us standing up against the man. Not to mention Maia said there'd be free food."
"I'll take a pass." Alec replied, and now he wished he hadn't. Who knows? Maybe he would have found inspiration. His mind wouldn't be conjuring a long-dead ghost. Better yet, he probably wouldn't be freezing.
Damn you, Morgenstern! Alec blew hot air into his hands and rubbed them vigorously, trying to bring some sense of warmth back into his numb limbs.
A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Alec stared at it, bewildered.
There was only four people who visited him on a regular basis. One would be Simon, who already had a key and wouldn't bother knocking so that was a out. One would be Maia, who practically lived here thanks to Simon. One would his sister, Izzy, but he remembered her saying she was pulling a double shift at work so that was a no.
Which left two options. One would be the landlord probably trying to staple those eviction notices onto his forehead. Or…
The knocking continued on, rapid and impatient. Conjuring to mind one person who usually knocked that way. A short, red-head who was the former unofficial, much-unwanted fourth roommate that typically took her residency in Jace's room. One who indulged him until the end and kept visiting long after Alec made it clear he never wanted to see her anywhere near the reminder of his family again. Not after she did; what she caused.
Fray. Alec's blood boiled. "Go away!"
The knocking continued.
Almost as if she could see him seething through the door, the knocking went on and on. Only this time more loudly.
This little bitch! Alec marched his way over to the door, murderous intent set on his mind. "God fucking help me, I will pin your ass down and strangle you until you turn over and-"
Fray wasn't the one standing outside his door.
Not unless she dyed her hair to a dark black color, cut it, and had it spiked with gel.
Not unless she underwent a sex change, having a skillful team of doctors sculpt her new body to a leaner, taller frame.
Not unless she changed her ethnicity along the way, going from white to Asian with a set of dark brown, golden-rimmed eyes that made a flare of warmth rush through Alec's body.
"At least treat me to dinner first before you test out your new BDSM kink on me, pretty boy." The stranger smiled.
Pretty boy? BDSM? Dear God…
Now, a normal person would try to correct themselves, brushing off their earlier words as a insane joke. A sane person would claim that they were suffering from the flu and the cough medicine was making them loopy. A person with half a brain would stop staring at the stranger and do something else. Anything else.
Alec Lightwood did none of the above. Proving that he was not normal, that he was not sane, that he didn't possess half or any part of a brain. Staring right at the stranger, the first thing that came out of his mouth was:
"You're not Clary."
Oh my dear God! The second those words left his mouth, heat swept across his face, stinging his skin.
As for the stranger, he was baffled by the statement, then became amused, one slim eyebrow arched, laughter gleaming in his eyes. There was something about him, about those eyes, that was...familiar to him.
"I've been mistaken for models and kdrama actors on good days thanks to good lighting. Or ex-boyfriends and cheating husbands thanks to too much alcohol," he said, his voice smooth as silk. "I think this has to be first where I've been mistaken for someone's girlfriend."
Girlfriend? Fray? Over his dead body. "She's not my girlfriend!"
"Well she must be something then to you."
You mean other than annoying? Alec scowled. "That'd be a no."
"Then maybe it's me then if you're comparing us. Either she's that pretty or I'm that ugly."
"Neither!" Alec blurted. "I mean both. I mean, you're pretty as a girl. Wait, no, I meant you're attractive. Scary eerie that you could be one of those anime characters-"
Why the hell was he still talking? Alec clamped his mouth shut before it dug his hole any deeper. He just thanked God that Simon and Maia were miles away, Izzy was at work, or they'd never live this moment down.
The stranger watched him closely, laughter creeping through that attractive face. That scarily attractive face…very familiar, attractive face
Alec mentally shook his head to get himself together and asked, "Um, was there something you needed?"
"Actually, yes," The stranger pulled out a small white candle from his back-pocket. "Got a light?"
He nearly got caught up in the whirl of vague familiarity as he stared at him, sure he'd see him somewhere before. Until he realized he was staring again. "Sure, I'll get right on it."
The stranger nodded. Alec nodded back. Then realized they were still standing by the door.
"I'll be right back." He dashed back inside the apartment, cursing his stupidity. He rummaged through his drawers until he found a pack of matches-
And turned around to find the stranger inside the messy apartment, peering around the ratty furniture, hills of wadded up paper, the food wrappers and empty beer cans crowded on the coffee table. There was reason for Alec to feel self-conscious, but he couldn't shake the heat searing his cheeks as those eyes pulled away from the mess back to him.
Oh right, the candle. Alec walked to him, lit one of the matches, and brought over to the candle.
He had no idea how close they were to each other, practically huddled around the small candle, until he looked up and noticed they were nearly at eye-level. And how distinct those eyes were. So dark, they were nearly black with that band of gold saving them from total darkness.
First glance, he was baffled by the mischief in them, bringing to mind a familiar pair of mismatched blue and brown. Although that was still true, he felt those eyes were familiar. He knew he saw them before somewhere-
Crap! The guy was falling!
Alec reached out and hoisted him up, his chest becoming a cushion for the guy's head as he toppled forward. Better that then the ground. "You okay?"
"Peachy." The stranger's gaze was unfocused, looking past Alec's shoulder. He blinked his eyes. "Just haven't eaten much today," he said with a charming smile. "But at least the room stopped spinning."
Alec narrowed his eyes. "You on a diet or something?"
"Sure," he said. "The 'my job pays shit and I ate the last pack of ramen last week' cleanse. Helps the weight just slide off."
The look on Alec's face had to be troubling since concern made its way over to the stranger's, melting his smile into a frown. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Alec blinked and shook his head. "Sorry. It's just…your smile reminded me of-"
The guy cut him off with a sound that was cross between a chuckle and a snort. "I always remind people of…" he practically sang. "Boyfriends, husbands, and apparently not-girlfriends." He tossed him a sly smile.
Alec's skin bristled. "No."
The stranger let out a full laugh, those eyes bright with mischief. "Boyfriend then?"
The pure shock in those blue and brown eyes when Alec leaned in, laser-focused on those lips. "No."
"Best friend perhaps?"
The anger in those eyes as he shoved Alec away, spitting venomous things at him, igniting a conversation that would be fatal and final. "He died," Alec answered. "His name was Jace."
"I-shit!" Alec's head jerked up. The stranger was sucking his finger, the flame extinguished. The smile he shot Alec was sheepish as he held out his handle. "Would you mind?"
Alec struck another match and lit the candle. Once again he found how close they were to each other, with Alec towering over him by a few inches. This time the stranger's eyes sought him out, searching through them, smiling as if he saw something he liked.
"Well?" Alec grunted.
"Yeah," He leaned in, then immediately pulled back. "Ouch!" He stuck his finger in.
"Indeed it is." The stranger said, and then a coy smirk curved his lips. "Hot and sticky." He looked up at him, making something warm slither in Alec's lower stomach. "Like cu-"
"Kumquat!" Alec blurted out.
The man blinked, stunned. Alec was never more grateful for everyone being out or this conversation would be the most-liked video on Twitter.
"Well, um, goodnight."
The stranger chuckled and made his way to the door. Halfway through though, curses dropped like bombs from his mouth as he rummaged through his pockets.
"What? Did the candle go out?"
"No. I think I dropped my stash."
Stash? Alec didn't know he blurted out the truth until the stranger said, "My special white powder."
Oh, that stash. The same ones Fray brought over and had Jace try with her in his room, snorting through wadded up dollar bills, injecting through needles.
"Calm down, pretty boy. Judgmental doesn't suit you." The stranger said. "I only use when I need a little energy booster."
Energy booster. Pick-me-up. If Alec had a dime for everytime he heard that, he'd be able to pay off his rent for the next two years. He was ready to tell the stranger the same until the guy got on his knees to look for his stash, sticking out his ass to Alec. His very nice, perfectly-round ass.
Yup, definitely happy. Simon wasn't here.
"According to my friends at work, I was voted ass by the customers," The stranger paused from his searching to look over his shoulder and send a smile that made Alec's knees nearly buckle. "Care to take the poll?"
His smirk widened. "You're staring."
"No-I mean, you have a nice ass-I mean-" Alec got on his knees on the other side of the coffee table, helping him with the search. "You look familiar."
"Like the not-girlfriend, not quite boyfriend, dearly departed best friend?"
"I aim to please."
Cheeky asshole. "Sometimes you remind me of him," he admitted. "When you smile."
The stranger hummed. "Usually the comparisons are made on different parts."
Wisely choosing not to take the bait, Alec said instead, "I'm pretty sure I've seen you somewhere else before."
"You mean besides passing by each other in the building?"
In Alec's defense, he was a hermit who typically kept his eyes glued to the ground whenever he had to leave the apartment. But that was one snippet of information Alec was going to keep to himself. "Yes, besides that."
"Well, there was also that memorable night you stopped by my workplace."
His workplace? Alec didn't remember going anywhere except on his birthday. Oh!
On his birthday, Alec was dragged by Izzy and his friends to the club she worked at, promising a night of good food and better entertainment at a good price. Up until that point, Alec didn't know much of his sister's job other than the fact she was a bartender. Stepping into the curb, seeing female and male dancers onstage, straddled on customers' laps in either barely-clad costumes or bare skin, he found out much more about her work environment.
He remembered few things about that night. How drunk he was thanks to the number of shots being shoved into his hands. How Simon stuffed his face with free wings. How a dancer came out, wrapped in a black and gold thong, chest splashed in swirl of gold glitter, arms tied in handcuffs and how Alec couldn't take his eyes away from him during his whole performance.
Now that same dancer was now in front of him, smirking.
"You-you were tied up."
The stranger shrugged. "It's a living."
"I didn't recognize you without your…accessories."
"Accessories?" He repeated the word with a laugh.
"Never mind." Alec decided to find another topic. "Why do you even bother with that stuff anyway?"
"Longer days, longer hours, and coffee can only do so much."
Even so, there were other options. Like stronger coffee, or espresso shots or-wait! Alec noticed a white bag by his hand. He stole a glance at the stranger, who was still searching, and covered the bag with his hand.
"You find anything?" The stranger crawled over to him.
"Nope, nothing at all."
I don't believe you, his eyes said.
"My name is Alec."
The stranger smiled and reached for his hand, lacing his fingers through his. There was no reason for his skin to be buzzing from the touch. No reason for his heart to be pounding as he leaned in closer and closer-
The white bag he hidden was dangled in front of his face.
What the-Alec looked into his laughing brown eyes.
"Magnus," the stranger said. "And you're gonna have to be a little more clever next time for round two, pretty boy."
Round two? Before he could ask, Magnus was gone.
Alec was sure that it was all a dream. A very strange dream or maybe even a prank set up by Izzy for shit and giggles. Until the next morning, he woke up to the sound of screaming jolted him from bed and had him rushing to the living room.
"What? What? What's wrong?!"
"YOU!" Simon exclaimed, pointing a sharp finger at him. "You have some explaining to do!"
"About what?" Alec grumbled, rubbing his eyes. Simon better be thankful he was low on sleep and coffee otherwise he'd be dead.
Alec followed his finger over to the window, jaw dropping.
Sunday brunch. Just us
Guess, it wasn't a dream after all.