Everything That Matters
It starts out as them simply not talking about the nightmares they've both just woken up from. And they both know the other has just had a nightmare because they have been in love for something like a lifetime now—well, not really, but it certainly feels like it, some days—and they can just tell. And nightmares are not uncommon given their respective lines of work, given everything they have both been through in their lives, so they have developed something of a system for the nights where one or both of them jolt awake from them and neither wants to talk about them just yet.
They silently trudge to the kitchen and Magnus makes them a pot of tea, and Alec makes them something warm to eat, and they sit in silence in the dim kitchen and eat their food, and sip at their tea, and they hold hands the whole while as whatever it was that had plagued their sleeping hours leaves them, slowly but always surely.
After they finish, sometimes they talk about it, sometimes they just sit there and revel in each other's touch and comfort. And sometimes they go back to bed, curl around each other in silent promises to try to protect the other from whatever horrors that they can in whatever ways that they can.
But tonight they do none of the above.
They travel to the kitchen together and Magnus turns the dim lights on, and he means to make them some tea just as he knows Alec means to make them something warm to eat, but…
They sit down instead, and neither of them can seem to make themselves get up or do anything other than stare ahead in silence. And it is the most uncomfortable sort of comfortable silence, and Magnus absolutely hates it with every single fiber of his being. But, it is easy to focus on nothing, to drift away from himself, from the moment, the memories. It is all too easy to just sit there and stare with unfocusing eyes on the space directly to the right of Alexander.
It is so easy to lose himself like that, and he hates it, but God, how it is nice to forget who he is and the horrors that haunt him some nights. And that is why he lets himself sit there like that and do nothing for some long moments, because it is nice to forget. And he would never let himself admit to this in the daylight hours, but in the middle of the night, in a room that is barely lit, and with no one but his Alexander around to witness it…
And it is only fine because Alec is the same way, is staring ahead with that same silent, unfocusing gaze of his. That is the only thing that makes it okay, and not okay at the same time.
But Magnus doesn't know what to do about it make it entirely okay, doesn't know how to remedy this situation, not while he is like this.
Magnus doesn't know how long they sit like that, but the only thing that snaps him out of it is Alec moving his hand to brush over Magnus'. He says nothing, but his fingers brush at Magnus', grabs his hand gently, seeking comfort at last. And that makes Magnus aware of himself again, makes him aware of the fact that he does not wish to waste the entire night just sitting there with nothing.
It might just be one night, and it might not matter too terribly in the scheme of things, but every night with Alexander matters tremendously in the scheme of things, thank you very much.
And so Magnus takes in a breath to try to clear his head, to try to ground himself, and says the first thing that comes to mind.
Which, in this case, is not what he is expecting it to be.
"The very best ice cream in the world is a three-way tie between Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, Bar Gelateria Ercole in Italy, and Caramello in Berlin," he says, voice creaky and croaky as if it needs to get used to being used again, as if it doesn't even belong to him.
Alec blinks at him, and slowly begins to come back to life in an adorably confused way that is specifically all his. And Magnus can't tell if he has fully registered just what Magnus has said until a small smile finally begins to creep its way into place on his face, wiping away the distant one that had been there just the previous second.
"Maybe I'm biased," he begins, still smiling. "but I think the best ice cream in the world is from that place in Chinatown that we went to that night we spent the whole night down there walking around for hours talking, putting off getting dinner because we were too busy talking? And by the time we finally realized we were hungry, it was the only place still open. That was hands down the best ice cream I've ever had," he insists, and he is so sure of that fact, is so convicted to his belief, that Magnus begins to rethink his own opinion on the matter.
He does so remember that night very vividly, now that Alec mentions it. It had been raining earlier in the day, and there was a hurricane rolling in that was threatening most of the city with exceptionally heavy wind and more rain, so everything was closing early. And of course, Alec and Magnus had paid no mind to such threats, had forgotten about them almost as soon as they had heard about them. Despite how chilly and windy it had gotten, they had walked around hand in hand, stopping at shops every now and then until every light they passed by was cut off and there were no more shops to stop at.
And Alec was right, when they finally realized that they were hungry, that ice cream place had been the absolute only place that was open. Magnus had offered to portal them back to the loft and have dinner waiting on the table when they got there, but Alec had absolutely insisted that they get something from there first. Because they were there and it was still open, and they owed it to themselves and the owners to at least buy something to make them staying open worth it.
And the ice cream had been great, there was no question about that, but, well, what had been even better was sharing their ice cream, picking out of each other's bowls and feeding each other bites of this and that and giggling between bites and kisses.
It had been such a sweet ending to a wonderful evening, and Magnus could see why Alec would choose that as his personal winner for best ice cream in the world. Because it wasn't about the ice cream itself, as much as it was about the memories associated with it.
"I think you're right," Magnus concedes, and Alec bristles with pride at that sentence. Magnus smiles at him all the more as he continues, "And I think I could do with some myself right now—would you like some?" he asks, eyebrow quirked, hands poised over the table to conjure some up.
Alec smiles wide at Magnus, nods, and Magnus snaps his fingers, and lays out bowls of their favorite ice cream flavors from that place in front of the pair of them—enough of each to share, of course.
Alec's grin widens as he reaches for a spoon and takes a bite of the ice cream immediately in front of him—rocky road, his favorite, Magnus knows, smiling to himself as he grabs a spoon to snag a bite of it as well, though he's never been a fan of this ice cream flavor in particular, it somehow helps him feel closer to Alec as he takes a thoughtful bite of it and savors it on his tongue.
And somehow, in that moment where the ice cream is melting on his tongue, he is all too aware of how easy it would be for them to fall back into a melancholic silence, each left to drown in their own thoughts and nightmares, and that would defeat the entire purpose of… this.
Lucky for Magnus, Alec is always one step ahead of him, and he is moving around the table to sit next to Magnus instead, seat much closer to him than it probably needs to be, though far be it from Magnus to say anything about it at all.
"It'll be easier to feed each other if we're right next to each other, don't you think?" he asks innocently, batting his lashes at Magnus in a way that makes it hard for Magnus to tell whether it is truly innocent at all or not.
Magnus is still staring at the Shadowhunter with a suspicious glare when Alec reaches his spoon into Magnus' favorite, the nearby Bastani Sonnati, and turns back to him with a wicked grin on his face, waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
"Open wide," he says, and Magnus very eager does as much, watching helplessly as Alec leans in close to him, pushes the cold spoon into his mouth slowly, eyes dangerously lidded as he does.
And Magnus is so frustrated by that look, by the way Alec's tongue is pressing against his bottom lip, that he closes his mouth around the spoon in the most seductive way that he can, tongue lingering over it as Alec slowly pulls it out of his mouth, and it finally pops out of his mouth with a flourish.
He sees Alec shudder from it in the second before he is surging forward to kiss him, and Magnus smiles into it, closes his eyes as Alec deepens the kiss to steal some of his ice cream—sneaky bastard, Magnus can't help but think to himself as Alec pulls back and winks at him.
Fucking winks at him.
Magnus swallows the remainder of his ice cream a tad bit unhappily, pouts at the triumphant look on Alec's face, though it doesn't stay put too long; Alec's happiness right now is far too contagious and he finds himself smiling as well, shakes his head as he reaches for a different flavor—cookie dough, another of Alec's favorites—and brings it towards Alec's mouth slowly but surely.
Alec opens his mouth in anticipation, his open mouth grinning despite himself, and Magnus almost feels bad about it as he brings the spoon to his own mouth in retaliation instead. He is still smug about it, however, when Alec frowns at him, the guilt and triumph going to war inside him.
"No fair!" Alec pouts—actually fucking pouts in an adorably childish way that Magnus laughs at around his mouthful of ice cream.
Magnus swallows his mouthful before he kisses Alec this time, just to get even more of a rise out of him, just because it makes him nip at Magnus' bottom lip in retaliation, though he kisses it away quickly enough.
"All's fair in love and war," Magnus reminds him after some moments, and Alec seems to have forgotten what they are talking about, because he looks perfectly confused at the statement. And that makes Magnus want to kiss him all the more, truly.
So he does.
He leans back in, and presses his lips to Alec's slowly, indulging both himself and Alec in this moment. And Magnus has already forgotten that this all started because of a couple of little nightmares, really.
"You're so beautiful," Alec murmurs when they break apart for a beat, the words coming with no other preamble.
His eyes are half lidded, but he is still giving Magnus the most intense look that he is so adept at giving him; and Magnus knows that he will start crying if he doesn't look away, the look is that intense, and he is so unequipped to handle it tonight of all nights.
Magnus sighs and leans back in to kiss him instead, and it is tender enough that he hopes Alexander can tell how much his declaration means to him, how much it will always mean.
"I love you," Magnus murmurs when he pulls back this time.
Alec brushes their noses together in reply, and they sit there like that for another long moment, the ice cream on the table melting, though they have forgotten about it completely by now.
They do go back to eating their ice cream eventually; they start giggling again, playing with the ice cream and each other gleefully. The kitchen is dimly lit, and it is quiet, a bubble of warm bliss in an awful, cruel world that they were reminded of even in their sleep. And Magnus thinks Alexander is so beautiful like this: exhausted, but so fucking happy—and Magnus is the reason for that happiness, and that is all the better.
He has ice cream on the corners of his mouth, and his lips themselves are swollen from all the lazy, soft kissing they have been doing for what could be hours at this point. His hair is still completely messed up, and he is in nothing but a thin t-shirt and boxers. He is so real, and so Magnus', and so very lovely, and it is all Magnus can do to keep from being overwhelmed with the reality of that.
Eventually, in the middle of all the giggling and finishing of their ice cream—and they do finish all of it—Alec licks off his spoon one final time before he drops it to the table, and stands up, holds out his hand to Magnus.
Magnus is still smiling, though he looks at the hand with curiosity; Alec can't want to go back to bed already—they are much too wired for that, truly—but Magnus cannot work out just what else he intends to do with that hand of his.
Alec rolls his eyes, though he is still smiling patiently at Magnus all the while.
"Dance with me," he says, voice soft and inviting, and Magnus knows Alec well enough to recognize the edge of self-consciousness in his tone as he does.
And Magnus simply cannot have that.
He smiles at Alec and takes his hand, lets the other lead him from his chair to the center of the kitchen. He pauses for a moment to snap his fingers, and a soft melody begins to play around the pair of them—Magnus doesn't doubt that they would have faired well enough without it, but he thinks it makes for a much better ambiance if they have music playing. It is much more romantic with the music, much more… them.
Alec lets out a low, appreciative hum at the gesture, leans in for a kiss—they can't get enough of each other tonight, and Magnus is certainly not complaining. He locks his hands in place behind Alec's neck, keeping the other in the kiss for several long moments as they sway slightly back and forth to the soft melody tinkling around them. Alec's hands are around Magnus' waist, grounding him in the moment by way of idly swaying Magnus' hips to the slow and steady beat of the music. And Magnus thinks that he simply cannot be more in love.
And then he thinks that he is wrong, because Alec will make him fall further in love with him before the night is done, and he is perfectly alright with that.
Eventually they stop kissing, and they sway to the music slowly, idly, foreheads pressed together, eyes never leaving the other for even a moment. The idea of ever doing something this… intimate with anyone else is almost repulsive, it is unheard of, but with Alec it is so, so natural and right, and Magnus thinks they could do this every night and he would never grow bored of it. It would be just as magical, just as amazing, as it is right now.
And he thinks idly, as Alec brushes their noses together, that this is healing. They have their normal routine for when they awake from their slumber in such states, and it is nice—it will always be nice and Magnus will be glad for it the next time they awake like that again—but that is suffering together, that is understanding the other's pain, and accepting it as a part of their lives.
But this? This is healing. This is understanding that their worlds are cruel, and hard, and there will always be suffering, both for themselves and for the people around them, but there are still small joys to be found. There is still love to give them these small bubbles of warmth, and welcoming, and understanding. There are still moments like these where they get to be idiots who are so in love with each other that it is painful sometimes, where they simply get to be Alec and Magnus, and they get to be together.
They might be damaged, and they might have scars that run deeper than they will admit some days, but right now they are slow dancing together in their kitchen, and their blood is light with the ice cream they have just devoured together, and the air around them is carrying their love so delicately. And that is healing. That is hope, and it is proof that love, truly, is all that matters.
And Magnus is so glad that it is Alexander who gets to remind him of that, both on this night, and for the rest of forever.
He truly wouldn't have it any other way.