He agreed to sign the amended contract, he and Ms. Connor shook hands, and she departed. Magnus hoped that he would never have to see her again. Another day, another dollar. (Well, another huge pile of dollars. Magnus’s special skills did not come cheap.)
Elyaas was looking extremely sulky around the tentacles about being denied the opportunity to cause chaos in Magnus’s city.
“Thank you for being totally useless all day,” said Magnus.
“Good luck with one of the Angel’s chosen, demon’s son,” said Elyaas, his voice sudden considerably sharper and less slimy. “You think he will ever do anything but despise you, in his heart of hearts? He knows where you belong. We all know it too. Your father will have you in the end. Someday your life here will seem like a dream, like a stupid child’s game. Someday the Great Dark One will come and drag you down and down, with usssss . . .”
His sibilant voice trailed off into a shriek as every candle flame streaked higher and higher, until they licked the ceiling. Then he vanished, with his last cry hanging on the air.
“Should have bought a sssscented candle. . . .”
Magnus proceeded to open every window in the loft. The lingering smell of sulfur and slime had barely begun to clear when the phone in his pocket rang. Magnus pulled it out, not without difficulty—his pants were tight because he felt a responsibility to the world to be gorgeous, but it meant there was not a lot of room in the pocket region—and his heart missed a beat when he saw who the call was from.
“Hey,” said Alec when Magnus answered, his voice deep and diffident.
“Why are you calling?” Magnus asked, assailed by a sudden fear that his birthday present had been immediately discovered in some way and the Lightwoods were shipping Alec to Idris because of spells cast on whips by heedless warlocks, which Alec could not explain.
“Um, I can call another time,” said Alec, sounding worried. “I’m sure you have better things to do—”
He didn’t say it in the way some of Magnus’s past lovers would have said it, accusing or demanding reassurance. He said it quite naturally, as if he accepted that was the way of the world, that he would not be anyone’s top priority. It made Magnus want to reassure him ten times as much as he would have, had Alec seemed to even slightly expect it.
“Of course I don’t, Alexander,” he said. “I was just surprised to hear from you. I imagined that you would be with your family on the big day.”
“Oh,” said Alec, and he sounded shy and pleased. “I didn’t expect you to remember.”
“It might have crossed my mind once or twice during the day,” said Magnus. “So have you been having a wonderful Shadowhunting time? Did someone give you a giant axe in a cake? Where are you, off to celebrate?”
“Er,” said Alec. “I’m kind of . . . outside your apartment?”
The buzzer rang. Magnus pressed the button to let him enter, speechless for a moment because he had wanted Alec there, so badly, and here he was. It felt more like magic than anything he could do.
Then Alec was there, standing in the open doorway.
“I wanted to see you,” said Alec with devastating simplicity. “Is this okay? I can go away if you’re busy or anything.”
It must have been raining a little outside. There were sparkling drops of water in Alec’s messy black hair. He was wearing a hoodie that Magnus thought he might have found in a Dumpster, and sloppy jeans, and his whole face was lit up just because he was looking at Magnus.
“I think,” said Magnus, pulling Alec in by the strings on his awful gray hoodie, “that I could be persuaded to clear my schedule.”
Then Alec was kissing him, and Alec’s kisses were uninhibited and utterly sincere, all of his lanky warrior’s body focused on what it wanted, all of his open heart in it as well. For a long wild euphoric moment Magnus believed that Alec did not want anything more than to be with him, that they would not be parted. Not for a long, long time.
“Happy birthday, Alexander,” Magnus murmured.
“Thanks for remembering,” Alec whispered back.