Magnus notices them the moment they walk into the Hunter’s Moon. Dressed in black, walking like they own the place, weapons glamoured but runes in plain sight; as the High Warlock of Brooklyn it's his job to notice when a bunch of cocky Shadowhunters walk into a place he likes to frequent. It's like the beginning of a bad joke–three Shadowhunters walk into a Downworlder bar–only this one will end up in tears and broken bottles. Maia deserves better, so Magnus resolves to keep an eye on them.
To Magnus’ surprise, no outrageous demands or arrests follow. Instead, they settle down at the end of the bar, the girl and the blond one starting an easy conversation with a couple of Seelie girls. The one with the long legs and straight back doesn't join the conversation, nor does he talk with Maia when she fixes their drinks. Magnus hadn’t quite seen his face when they walked in, but from the tension in his broad shoulders, he doesn't seem like he's enjoying himself. If trouble is to happen tonight, that’s where Magnus expects it from. It’s always the quiet, serious ones who turn out to be a menace.
He orders another martini while he observes them from his seat at the bar. "What's your take on them?" he asks Maia, while she's busy preparing his drink.
Maia scoffs. "They're Shadowhunters, they're arrogant, cocksure, a little too stupid and a little too pretty for their own good."
Magnus smirks. "I'll drink to that." He holds up his glass in a toast, so Maia clinks a shot glass against his. "Notice anything in particular?"
Maia shrugs, a little self-conscious this time. "The blonde one and the girl have been here before. Jace is an ass, but his sister, Izzy, isn't too bad."
Magnus doesn't comment but looks at the trio with renewed interest. He wonders which one of them has caught his favorite bartender's eye. "Tall, dark and brooding is a first timer then, I take it?"
Maia nods. "I think he's their brother? He disapproves."
"Of his siblings? Or the Hunter's Moon?" Magnus can't fault him for the first, but will hold the second against him. The Hunter's Moon is one of his favorite places in New York, it deserves some respect.
"Everything," Maia says, laughing a little.
Magnus snorts. There's a certain cosmic poetry in uptight people wearing really tight pants. He trusts Maia's judgment though, if she thinks they're harmless enough and that she can handle the tension their presence causes, he'll take her at her word and relax.
His plan to relax ends quickly once Jace and Izzy flirt their way into joining the company of three handsome Seelie sitting at a table. Tall, dark and uptight remains standing alone at the bar, still nursing his first drink. He's so obviously out of place, Magnus toys with the idea of keeping him company, but then the Shadowhunter makes his decision for him. He puts down his drink and makes his way to the back of the bar, where the gaming tables reside.
"Shit," Maia mumbles behind him when Tall, dark and looking for trouble challenges Milo for a game of pool. He’s one of Luke’s pack and cranky, competitive and territorial on his best days. The man has never evaded a bar-fight in his life. He’s one of the last people the Shadowhunter needs to provoke tonight, but unfortunately for Magnus and Maia, Tall, dark and bothersome seems to have no self-preserving bone in his attractive body.
“I do not want to clean up the mess,” Maia groans.
Magnus sighs. He’s the highest ranking Downworlder here tonight, and while it pains him to do so, as it is not his responsibility at all, he likes Maia and the Hunter’s Moon furniture, so he’ll go and rescue this Shadowhunter from his own reckless stupidity.
He downs the last of his martini and makes it over to the gaming area, where a crowd is already forming around the tables. From up close, the tension is obvious in the Shadowhunter's back and shoulders, so at least he’s not obtuse enough to be unaware of the trouble he’s in.
“I only want to play,” he says, arms crossed and scowling. “The Shadow World is at peace, we should relax together.”
Magnus rolls his eyes. Just his luck, he’s not dealing with a reckless moron, he’s dealing with a stubborn idealist. Those are always worse.
Milo and a couple of others are already baring their teeth, but the Shadowhunter doesn’t flinch, doesn’t move back, just squares his shoulders. Magnus can’t help but admire his form, the strong line of his back and his long, long legs. Magnus moves behind the Shadowhunter, risks life and limb by trailing his hand over his shoulder to get his attention. The Shadowhunter turns his head to him and gasps almost inaudible when their eyes meet.
“I’ll play with you,” Magnus says, snapping his fingers to get a hold of two pool cues. He turns his back to the wolves in a clear dismissal, and leans against the pool-table to leisurely look the Shadowhunter over. He’s even more attractive from the front, shirt accentuating his chest and shoulders. Tall, dark and delicious is looking at him wide-eyed, mouth open a little.
“I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced, I’m Magnus Bane,” he says.
“Alec,’ he answers. “I, uhh, I mean, I’m, Alec.”
“So, Alexander, are you up for a game?”
Alec simply nods, arms still crossed. When Magnus throws a cue at him he catches it without a hitch in his breath however, reflexes quick and smooth.
Then Alec smiles, wide and genuine. It changes his entire face. Gone is the brooding Shadowhunter feeling out of place, instead there’s a young and stunning man discreetly checking him out, happy to be here. “I’d like to,” he says.
Magnus knew Alec would cause trouble the moment he walked into the bar. Magnus is so screwed.
But he does love a challenge, so he waves invitingly at the table. “I’ll let you break.”
Alec nods, moves swiftly to the table, sets up the game without comment. He’s not entirely relaxed, but not as tense anymore either. Magnus figures he just needed something to do, other than standing around while his siblings search for bed-partners. He’s still not sure why Alec even came to the bar, but now he has the opportunity to find out.
“What brings three young Shadowhunters to the Hunter’s Moon?” he asks.
Alec looks over at his siblings, rolls his eyes a little when he sees Jace has a lap full of Seelie. “They mean well, but Izzy and Jace don’t always understand that their actions can have far-reaching ramifications. It’s my job to keep the peace, even if that means babysitting my siblings.” He says it matter-of-fact, like he’s resigned himself to a life of standing around awkwardly in bars, all for the greater good.
Magnus has to call bullshit though. “So you decided to challenge a werewolf on his own turf, for peacekeeping?” He points his pool stick at where Milo and co are still looking at Alec like they’ve smelled something foul.
Alec blushes a little. “I’m not- I’m not good with people.”
Magnus has to bite back a groan. Alec is too much, honestly, Magnus might not survive the night.
By the time Alec sinks his fourth ball into the corner pocket, the wolves have realized there won’t be a fight and have dispersed, and Magnus is genuinely enjoying himself. Alec is guileless, simply enjoying the game, and obviously relieved his plan to mingle with the Downworlders by competition is paying off.
“It’s all about the aim,’ he explains to Magnus. “Aim and angles.”
Magnus knows all about the angles, he’s been admiring how Alec folds himself over the table to take difficult shots for the last ten minutes, but he can’t let this slide. Time to see if Alec can deal with some actual competition, or if the true face of the Shadowhunter will come out.
Alec is a good player, leaves the table with an almost impossible shot lined-up for Magnus when he doesn’t have a shot himself. He’s a little smug about it as well, convinced Magnus will lose the game.
Magnus waits for Alec to take a sip of his drink, then takes his shot, pulling off a wicked combination, sinking two of his own striped balls.
Alec nearly spits out his drink.
“Did you do your thing?” he asks, snapping his fingers. “Did you use your magic?”
Magnus arch his brow and lines up his next shot, a tricky jump-shot. He sinks his ball effortless. “Haven’t you heard the saying? If you can’t find the one being hustled in the pool hall, then it’s probably you.”
Alec surprises Magnus again and smiles. His whole face lights up and when he licks his lips, Magnus’ stomach swoops a little, entirely undignified.
“Oh, it’s on,” Alec says, still grinning.
“Yeah, let’s play,” Alec says.
It sounds like more, is the problem. It sounds like: ‘I like you’. It sounds like: ‘I’m interested’. It sounds like: 'I'm into you'.
Magnus is in so much trouble. So he says it right back. “Let’s play.”