“You would not believe the night I've had – I mean, you'd think I'd be able to invent a hangover potion, and yet –”
Magnus stops dead in his tracks in front of the registry, hand still raised to massage his forehead; he takes a quick look around to make sure he's actually surrounded by books and he's not in the wrong shop. Plenty of books: check.
He looks back at the incredibly hot Shadowhunter who's staring at him from behind the register, looking as confused as Magnus feels. “You are not Ragnor,” he says; there's a miniscule part of his mind that's quickly going over the most gruesome reasons why the Shadowhunter would be standing behind the counter instead of Ragnor – including murder, theft, or a combination of the two –, but the truth is that most of his hangover, foggy train of thought looks more like an endless sequence of the words hot and oh my god.
The Shadowhunter raises an eyebrow: “What gave me away?” he asks, perfectly deadpan, and Magnus might be in love. Also in need of coffee and greasy food.
“The lack of insults as soon as I walked in, actually.” Magnus takes a few quick steps and holds out his hand: “Magnus Bane. Charmed.”
One corner of the Shadowhunter's lips quirks up the tiniest bit, like he's trying to hold back a smile, but it's too late now, Magnus has seen it, his hangover might be cured.
“If you're planning on making some awful pun about how he must be charmed too because of the Warlock thing, I beg you, don't.”
Magnus rolls his eyes and turns on his heels to face Ragnor: “You ruin everything,” he says, not pouting.
Ragnor rolls his eyes and sends a pile of books to land in front of the Shadowhunter, narrowly avoiding Magnus. “Alec, if you could please see to these.”
The Shadowhunter – Alec, probably short for something, probably for Alexander – nods, looking extremely professional, hands clasped behind his back and all; he lifts the books as if they weigh nothing and walks around the counter before he disappears in the maze of shelves and bookcases Ragnor has the courage to call a bookstore.
“You have some drool on your chin.”
Magnus doesn't, doesn't snap his mouth shut, and turns to glare at Ragnor: “I am not drooling. Also, totally unrelated, who's that?”
“A Shadowhunter with a perfectly functioning hearing rune,” Alec calls from somewhere in the shop.
A blissful smile curls Magnus' lips as he leans on the counter, behind which Ragnor looks unimpressed: “I'm in love.”
He ends up taking Alec to lunch (“Hey Alec, do you need to take a break? I could do breakfast and I know how Ragnor is with his employees.” “It's twelve thirty in the afternoon and I'm a delight.”) to the Mundane diner around the corner because he could kill for their pancakes and nobody ever judges him for getting pancakes for lunch.
He gets pancakes and drowns them in maple syrup and digs in happily as Alec takes a careful bite of his hamburger; he wrinkles his nose as he seems to consider the taste and clearly finds it acceptable since he keeps eating it.
Magnus steals one of Alec's fries after he's done eating his pancakes, and Alec glares first and then makes a faceat him as he realizes the taste of the fry and the taste of the syrup drenched pancakes are probably mixing in his mouth.
Magnus wiggles his eyebrows at him and Alec moves his fries closer to himself.
Magnus chuckles and cradles his chocolate milkshake between his hands, the sweetness of it mercifully washing away whatever remained of his hangover on his tongue.
Alec doesn't talk much. He doesn't look uncomfortable as they sit and eat in silence though, which is good. He's probably just someone who doesn't like to talk. He also pushes back the fries towards Magnus when he's done with his hamburger, so. There's that.
Magnus brings a pillow to the bookstore and places it on the conveniently enlarged windowsill all the way to the back, near the history section no one ever checks out; he curls on it with a book in his lap and he tries not to fall asleep. He's read most of the books Ragnor sells, at least those about magic and potions and charms, so he tries one about Vampire history. It's kind of interesting, if a bit boring.
Ragnor simply shakes his head at him and says: “Consider yourself warned.”, but Magnus is free help so that's all he says. Plus, Ragnor is actually a teddy bear.
Alec doesn't seem to be bothered by Magnus' presence; it's not like he ignores him, more like he doesn't disturb him. Not that he would be disturbing and not like Magnus expects him to stop working to pay attention to him. Plus, it's – nice. Alec brings him coffee and Magnus takes him to lunch. Alec leaves the books he thinks Magnus might like on his giant pillow and Magnus helps him with impossible clients when Ragnor isn't around. It's mostly – quiet. Sometimes Alec will mutter that can't be healthy when he catches Magnus sitting in the most bizarre position on his pillow and sometimes Magnus will follow him around the shop because he's bored and sleepy and he'll fall asleep if he doesn't.
Sometimes Magnus does fall asleep and he either wakes up because Ragnor is flicking his forehead or because Alec is draping an old blanket over him.
It's soft and slow and perfect in the way it grows under the blanket of snow all the way through December.
Alec is wrapped in a huge, comfy looking sweater when he presents Magnus with hot cocoa instead of his usual coffee; it's one of those days where no one will come in because it's too cold and there's too much snow, and Ragnor will spend his day in his “office”, reading and drinking tea and despising the world.
Alec sits next to him, his head leaning against the glass of the window – which would be impossibly cold if it wasn't for Magnus.
Magnus sceptically studies the mug.
“You drink too much coffee,” Alec says, before Magnus can complain.
Magnus shrugs and takes a sip of his hot cocoa; it tastes delicious and it sits warm and comfortable in his chest.
Alec has closed his eyes and he looks peaceful and beautiful; the warmth coming from Magnus' spell on the window is painting his cheeks pink.
“So, tell me something,” Magnus says, because he can't keep staring in silence; Alec opens one eye. “What is a Shadowhunter, a Lightwood, nonetheless, doing working in a place like this?”
Alec huffs, but he opens his other eye too and turns his head to look at him: “And what is a Warlock, the High Warlock of Brooklyn, nonetheless, doing not working in a place like this?”
And Magnus doesn't look away, not really – he looks down for a moment and a bitter smile curls his lips because, well, he's wondered that too. “Hiding,” he says. Completely honest and open and sincere and tired in a way he hasn't let himself be in a long time. But – he can here, now, with the way Alec's expression softens, both of them tired in their own way, both of them not quite tired enough.
“And what are they doing together?” Alec asks, something more than a whisper, holding himself like he's just waiting for something, anything.
Magnus says: “A mess, probably.”, but he's already leaning forwards, Alec's fingers shaking in his hair as he presses his lips against Magnus', tasting hot cocoa on his tongue.
(Somewhere, Ragnor is probably thinking a mess indeed.)