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Frozen in the Headlights (Magnus/Alec)

Title: Frozen in the Headlights
Fandom: Shadowhunters
Pairings: Magnus/Alec
Rating: T
Summary: After closing the gap between the two worlds, Magnus has his own universe to deal with. It's more pleasurable than expected. Based on the parallel universe in 1x10.

Also posted on FF.net and AO3.

By the time Magnus made his way out of the basement and the two young Shadowhunters were already on their way to their own dimension, the party upstairs was still in full swing. There were people everywhere and the Shadowhunters he’d sent downstairs were still here now, having fun and dancing along with the music. It was clear that they didn’t remember anything of what their alternative selves had done; they didn’t seem to have a single care in the world, which definitely didn’t apply to the ones he’d just sent off to their own dimension.

He wasn’t really sure what he was supposed to do now. The man at the door – Alec Lightwood, one of the co-hosts of the entire event – had let him in and had unknowingly saved this entire world by doing so, but how was Magnus supposed to get out? Did he have to get out in the first place? Maybe no one would try to check if he had an invitation if he was already in; might as well enjoy the place while he was here.

Magnus had never seen the inside of the Institute before and he was quite sure that it didn’t look like this on most days. From what he’d heard, it was mostly laboratories and clean, sterile rooms, so this was definitely not what he’d expected; there was no sight of the self-important, uptight employees that everyone was used to seeing get in and out of the building on most workdays. Now, it didn’t look like an Institute at all; on the contrary, life poured out of it incessantly.

The soft pink glow that seemed to engulf everything was tasteful enough, he had to admit that, even if he wasn’t a big fan of the excess that reigned everywhere. The so-called mirrors that helped people get into the spirit of the evening were a tad much, even though Magnus was sure that the technology that had gone into it all was cutting edge – the Institute wouldn’t allow anything else.

“Do you like it?”

The voice came from right behind him and Magnus swirled on his heels only to realise that he was face to face with Alec Lightwood. The same subtle, unreadable smile was still playing on his lips and he was still carrying one of those ridiculous teacups with him. Magnus would have thought that it would have looked out of place when paired with the fact that the man was over six feet tall and wearing a suit, but instead, it made him look even more otherworldly than before and the Warlock could only nod.

He’d heard tales; whispers here and there that after the Shadowhunters had finished their mission on the planet and had defeated every last demon threatening the population, they’d slowly started mixing with humans but had kept hold of the Institutes all around the world. He wouldn’t be the last bit surprised to learn that this was the final result of such a process; even if it had been centuries, Magnus could definitely see a hint of an angel’s blood in that arrogant, honest face. It was even more apparent when the cryptic smile stretched into a real one.

“I planned it all.” The words were followed by a hand gesture that enveloped the entire spacious hall. Without the context, anyone would think that he’d planned everything, up to and including the position of the stars on the night sky. “To the last detail, I might add. It took weeks, but it was worth it. Magical, isn’t it?”

Yes, Magnus thought, this boy could definitely be a descendant of the Angel. He wasn’t as capable as his ancient ancestors to recognise a Warlock when he saw one, but he was still capable of looking people in the eye and informing them that yes, magic existed and he had been the one to make it happen just because he could. He also had the ability to act as if he owned everything in this building and possibly on this planet, but that wasn’t as much of a stretch – the Lightwood-Morgenstern alliance had been going on for ages and if you looked at the small print of just about anything money could buy you, you’d see one of their names written there. Everyone knew who they were; even Magnus, who had always made a point of not letting himself be impressed by what the mundanes did with their lives.

It was ridiculous. Magnus loved it. It was ridiculous that Magnus loved it, but he couldn’t quite help himself. He knew better than to get involved with someone who couldn’t have been more obviously troublesome if they had ‘trouble’ written across their forehead, but he found himself nodding again.

“It is impressive,” he conceded, eyes fixed on his host rather than on the decoration and the special effects, “I’ll give you that.”

“I’d hoped that you would,” Alec said and really, Magnus would have groaned at that remark if it had been someone else making it. As it were, he offered a small laugh which ended in a gasp as the man suddenly took hold of his wrists and swirled him around. “But I was actually hoping for a dance first.”

“I, er,” Magnus started, but then gave up. He was here anyway; why not? He was still feeling a bit high on the magic that had suddenly spread itself inside him again and it was quite possible that he still wasn’t thinking clearly, because this suddenly seemed like the best idea he’d had in a while. And it had absolutely nothing to do with how absurdly beautiful Alec Lightwood was. Not at all. That would be silly. “Okay, then. One dance.”

Just as he’d expected, it didn’t really turn out like that. If the man’s stamina was something to go by, Magnus wouldn’t be surprised if he was actually distantly related to the children of the Angel that had walked the Earth by the time Magnus had been born. He somehow had the energy to lead the dance through what felt like hours, keep up the small talk and show off about the party, the music he’d apparently handpicked, the theme “which, frankly, is a tiny bit ridiculous, but Mr Morgenstern wanted it like that”. When he asked if Magnus was enjoying himself, the Warlock was surprised to realise that he was.

“I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing, a long time ago,” he admitted vaguely, thinking of the parties in Versailles and the way he’d used his magic just for fun; just so that he could show the mundanes what he could do. It was no different from what Alexander Lightwood had done here, except it was real. “Parties, I mean, but never anything of this scale. I used to, before–”

“Ugh,” Alec interrupted with an exaggerated eye roll and Magnus cut himself off mid-sentence. “You have no idea how many times I’ve heard these words. I just don’t get it: you used to do things like that and then what? Just decided that having fun wasn’t your thing anymore?”

Magnus looked up sharply and realised that Alec was staring down at him, one of his eyebrows raised in question. The words had been honest and just a bit harsh, which was exactly what Magnus had needed to sober up. It was refreshing just how easy it was for this overconfident mundane boy to tell something to his face and Magnus found himself taking the words into consideration. Lately, he’d been trying to avoid most of the Shadow world in order to distance himself from anything related to his magic, but he still had his friends – most of whom were immortal, just like him, and none of them had dared to speak what he knew they were all thinking.

“That’s actually pretty much what happened,” he said bluntly. He couldn’t find it in himself to be offended; not since it was a truth he’d been trying to keep at a distance. “I don’t know how or why, but it did.”

“We’ll soon fix that.” The hand in the small of Magnus’s back suddenly pushed forward, pressing the two of them even closer together until they were plastered chest to chest and Magnus could feel the man’s heartbeat through their shirts. Alec’s hazel eyes were dangerously close now; so close that they filled every bit of the Warlock’s vision, or at least so it seemed just then. “I can see it, you know.”

“C-can see what?” Magnus stuttered, momentarily disoriented by the man’s proximity. Alec was almost looming over him and it should have been unsettling, but it wasn’t. It was just– strange. It was like a long-forgotten feeling that he had to get used to all over again; being this close to another person.

“The magic,” he whispered and the simple words caused an unbelievable amount of panic in Magnus’s entire system. How did he know? There was no way he’d seen him open the portal downstairs; there had been no one but the Shadowhunters there. Maybe he’d caught a glimpse of the magic he’d shown Clary earlier in the evening, but it wasn’t very likely. Holograms weren’t all that rare or unusual and a party was the best opportunity to show something like that off, so that couldn’t have been either.

Of course, there was no real reason to panic. There was no one to punish him for this anymore; the Clave didn’t exist for centuries. Magnus was one of the last Warlocks to be born before demons had gone extinct, so he barely even remembered their rules, but that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t get in trouble for being what he was. Humans were cruel, albeit sometimes unintentionally – they’d want to know what made him tick; they’d want to explore and dissect and he had not survived this long for something like that to happen.

“Magic?” he asked, trying to add a sceptical edge to his voice. It didn’t quite work. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

“Oh, I’m sure you do,” Alec said and made a flippant gesture with one hand, which he proceeded to place on Magnus’s neck so that he could make him look up and straight into his eyes. “I can see it. You’ve been trying to bury it, but the gleam’s still there. I bet I could dig it out.”

Oh, he was being metaphorical. He couldn’t possibly know, of course not, and Magnus felt a bit ridiculous that he’d been so scared in the first place. He’d been away from his magic for so long that now that it was here, it felt like an almost-secret that he probably had to protect. He didn’t feel the need to do so in front of Alec and wondered how he would react to real magic; imagined the pleasure he’d get from seeing the world light up from nothing but a finger snap.

Still, it was strange that he’d come so close to the truth without even realising it. He’d done that several times tonight and the Warlock was impressed by his ability to see everything without having any idea what the truth was. This boy who innocently thought that he owned the world and deserved every bit of it was seeing straight into the essence of Magnus’s soul without even trying and that should have scared him much more than any threat of discovery, but it pleased him inordinately instead.

“You think you can, do you?” Magnus asked. There was no reason for him to not flirt back now that he didn’t have several universes to save and there was something pulling him towards Alec; something that whispered to him that he’d known him before. Or maybe that he’d know him at some point, or maybe had known some part of him since the moment they’d met. It would have been ridiculous to even consider that if the walls between the worlds hadn’t been so thin.

“Do you doubt me?” Alec challenged on another spin as they closely avoided colliding with a column and Magnus laughed, easy and honest and free for the first time in a while.

“Not in the slightest,” he assured him. “In fact, Alexander, I think you’d be able to bring out the magic in absolutely anything.”