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What it means to care

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"Mr. Lightwood!"

A female voice called after him the moment he walked out of the building. He turned around and fought the urge to roll his eyes.

"Miss Branwell," he continued walking expecting her to catch up with him.

"What can I do for you today?" He asked once she fell in step next to him.

"Well," she started with a broad smile on her face, "I think we've finally found the solution to our problem."

"How so?" Alec asked, deciding to just go with it. This was the third time in the last 6 months that Lydia had approached him and he had a pretty good idea how this conversation was going to go. They worked for rival companies and Lydia made it her mission to get Alec to work for her and even though it was a tempting offer his personal happiness wasn't a priority here, so that's why he turned her down the previous two times.

"The last time we had this conversation," she struggled to keep up with his long steps, "you said you couldn't accept the job because it's too far from your son's daycare. So, guess what?" She asked with a grin, obviously proud with how she was going to answer her own question. Alec looked down half interested.

"We opened up a childcare for our employees, inside the building. You couldn't get your son any closer than that."

Alec stopped walking. Mainly because they already reached Max's daycare, but also because he was actually intrigued with the information Lydia had just shared with him. He wasn't a big fan of changes, and neither was his son, so even though it was a tempting offer he still had a lot of things to think about.

"I don't know, Lydia. Max is not really good with new people, and I don't even know who would take care of him there, I kind of like his teacher now."

"I assure you that we've hired a complete professional. Other parents have been leaving their kids there for a month now, and we haven't had any complaints."

Alec was still unsure. He had a problem being separated from his son as it is, and now he would have to leave him with a complete stranger all over again. Right when he got used to Miss Rollins.

"I don't know," he said again.

"Alec, please. I know you're not happy working for Aldertree. And I also know you're only staying there because your son is two blocks away. But I promise you, we can give you so much more. Your son could be right there. You could have lunch with him, or go tuck him in when it's his time for a nap. You could see him whenever you want. This is a win-win situation," she said with a firm and convincing tone.

Alec looked at her, not sure what to say. He wanted to say yes, but it wasn't that easy. His son would always be a priority, and he didn’t want to put him in a stressful situation of having to adapt to new people once again if it was not completely necessary.

"10 minutes," Lydia spoke again. "Come to the office tomorrow before work and just give me 10 minutes to put my offer on the table. You can even bring your son to meet our caretaker and see how they get along, hm?" She smiled softly, and Alec finally gave in.

"Fine, 10 minutes. I'll be there at 8."

Lydia beamed. "Thank you, you will not regret this."

"Yeah," Alec chuckled. "Now if you would excuse me. I really want to go pick up my son."

"Of course, yes," she waved and started walking backwards. "I'll see you tomorrow," she gave one last smile before she turned around and left.

Alec proceeded forward and entered the building. A large smile spread across his face when his little boy started running towards him, calling out for his daddy. He crouched down and picked him up in his arms.

"Max," he hugged him tightly. "How are you? Did you have fun today?"

The little boy nodded enthusiastically. "We were drawing today. I made something for you!"

"You did?" Alec smiled.

"Mhmm, it's in my backpack," he pointed to his classroom.

"Okay, let's go pick up your stuff and get you home and then you can show it to me."

"Okay!" Max exclaimed and started wiggling in Alec's arms, demanding his father to put him down before he sprinted back to the classroom.

"Be careful!" Alec yelled after him, shaking his head fondly and following his son.

Miss Rollins pulled Alec over once he reached the door. "Mr. Lightwood? Can I talk to you for a moment?" She asked, not unkindly.

"Of course," he nodded and told Max to go get his jacket.

"Is there something wrong?" He asked when Max left.

"I wanted to talk to you about Max's nap time. I thought this would improve eventually, when he got used to all of us a little better, but as it is, Max has a problem falling asleep. He keeps asking for you, and he can't seem to relax."

Alec noticed that Max was quite tired lately ever since he started leaving him in the daycare. He would always crash after dinner but it didn't occur to him that that might be because he wasn't sleeping at all during the day. He thought Max was just tired from all the activities they did here every day.

He thought about what Lydia told him earlier, how he would be able to have lunch with Max and tuck him in for his nap if he took the job and brought his son with him. The job offer had never looked more appealing.

Alec nodded and informed Dot that he would bring Max in a little later tomorrow since he had a job interview, and he was fairly certain that that would be the last time he would leave Max there, but he didn't tell her that just yet.

He said his goodbyes to Dot and went to get Max. He was waiting for him by the front door. Alec took his son in one arm, and slung his tiny backpack on his other. He planted a soft kiss on Max's temple and walked them out of the building.

"Max?" He asked as they proceeded to the subway, and his son stopped playing with the zipper on Alec's jacked and looked up.

"Hm?" His tiny arms circled around Alec's neck, and he could see that he was very sleepy.

"Miss Rollin tells me that you haven't been sleeping much when it's nap time. Can you tell me why that is?"

Max sighed and snuggled closer into Alec's neck. "I just miss you, and I don't want to go to sleep without you telling me a story."

Alec's heart broke and in that moment he had come to a decision. "How would you like to come to work with daddy every day? And I can come see you whenever I have a break, hm? Especially when it's nap time?" He asked.

"Really?!" Max beamed and started pounding his small fists into Alec's chest in excitement. "And you would tell me a story? And give me a kiss goodnight?!"

"Yes, I would do all of that," Alec grinned. "Would you like that?"

"YES!" Max exclaimed and hug his father tighter.

"Then it's settled," Alec kissed his hair. "I love you, little marshmallow."

"I love you, too, daddy."

They got home and had a quiet dinner. Alec gave Max a bath and tucked him in his bed. He told him a short story, like he did every night and told him he would be taking him with him in the morning to meet some people. If he liked his new caretaker, they would stay and Alec would take the job, and Max could always be close to his dad. Max gave him a small nod before he drifted off, and Alec left him to sleep after he sneaked one last kiss on his son's forehead.

-

The morning at the Lightwood's home was calm as usual. Alec was a responsible father and nothing that resulted in his son's happiness was ever hard for him to do. Which is why he never had a problem getting up earlier to get everything ready if it meant that Max could sleep in longer, he knew his son needed it.

He took a shower and got dressed, after which he sneaked into Max's bedroom. His son was sleeping peacefully which put a soft smile on Alec's face. He did a quick job of pulling out clothes for Max to wear today out of the wardrobe and went to the kitchen to mix up a healthy breakfast.

By the time he was done cutting the fruit and placing it in a bowl along with some fresh yogurt and cereal it was time to go wake Max up. He walked to his room and peaked in. His son was snoring softly, his favorite plush toy secured safely under his arm. Alec walked to his bed and slowly crouched next to it. He caressed his hair and planted a small kiss on his cheek. "Time to wake up, my little marshmallow." He softly shook his shoulder which did the trick and Max opened his tiny blue eyes.

"Good morning, daddy," he said through a small yawn.

"Morning, buddy," he slowly untucked Max from his three bed covers (he was always cold and asked for Alec to bring him another cover, Alec sometimes thought he would suffocate in them).

"You ready to meet your potential new caretaker?" He asked as he moved away to give Max space to get off the bed after which he followed him to the bathroom.

"Yes!" Max exclaimed excitedly but thought better of it. "What does potential mean, daddy?"

Alec chuckled as he picked his son up and placed him by the sink. He took out his small Iron Man toothbrush and planted some toothpaste on it. He handed it to Max as he started explaining.

"Potential means that she might be your new teacher, but it depends on whether you will like her or not."

"What's her name?" Max asked through a mouth full of pink toothpaste foam.

Alec frowned for a second. He forgot to ask Lydia who she was and what her name was. To think better of it, he didn't even know if she was a woman which he admitted to his son.

Max shrugged as Alec helped him rinse his mouth, he didn't really care if it was a man or a woman, and neither did Alec, but he still mentally scolded himself for not inquiring more from Lydia. He felt like he should at least know the name of Max's new teacher. But what's done is done, they would meet them soon anyway. So, he helped Max get dressed and eat breakfast and they were on their way out.

-

They walked into a tall glass building of Branwell corp. after a 25-minute ride on the subway. They were immediately greeted by a tiny young woman who introduced herself as Clary. After they exchanged pleasantries she told them to follow her as she led them into what looked like a conference room with a large oval glass table and a dozen grey chairs in the middle of it.

"Miss Branwell will be here in a second. Can I offer you something to drink?" She asked cheerfully.

"Thanks, I'm fine," Alec said and looked down at Max. "Would you like something?" He asked.

Max shook his head and hid behind his father's legs shyly. Clary smiled at the gesture and told them to make themselves comfortable and sit wherever they want. She nodded after they both took a seat, Max squeezing as close to his dad as he could, before she left the room.

"You okay, buddy?" Alec asked as he softly caressed Max's hair. Max just nodded and pressed closer to his father's side and under his arm until he was safely tucked in Alec's embrace.

The glass door next to them suddenly opened and in walked Lydia with a tall man following behind her.

"Mr. Lightwood. Thank you so much for coming," she said and offered her hand for Alec to shake. He made a move to stand up and properly greet her but she quickly stopped him after she noticed his son tucked under his side shyly.

"It's okay, you don't have to get up," she smiled and shook his hand as he remained seated.

"This is Magnus Bane, our caretaker," she pointed at the man standing next to her and Alec gulped when he got the chance to look at him properly. He was tall, with broad shoulders and soft black hair which was combed to one side, falling down in waves. His face looked youthful and cheerful and it was embellished with all sorts of make-up Alec couldn't name, he just knew he liked it. He couldn't help but grin dorkly as Lydia introduced him next.

"And this is Alexander Lightwood," she said, "who I'm hoping to be our new software developer."

"Pleasure," Magnus said and extended his hand. It was soft and warm to the touch, mixed with a little tingling sensation produced by cold metal jewelry that adorned his fingers. He held Alec’s gaze with an open expression, small grin playing on his lips and Alec struggled to keep his heart rate at a normal pace. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting of Max’s new teacher, but he was pretty sure it was not very appropriate to have his eyes slip to the other man’s lips three times in the span of 10 seconds so he quickly looked away effectively breaking the spell that took over him.

Magnus smirked and pulled his hand out of Alec’s. "And who is this young gentleman?" he asked as both newcomers circled the table and took a seat across from them.

"This is my son, Max." Alec said after he saw that Max sunk deeper into his side and wouldn't speak himself. He squeezed his favorite plush animal which was a small purple dragon from that animated movie, My Little Pony, which Alec had to watch too many times. Max wouldn't go anywhere without it.

"Hello," Magnus directed the greeting in a soft voice towards Max.

"Hi," he greeted back quietly.

"What you got there?" The man asked pointing at his toy.

"Spike," Max said the character's name and looked up at Magnus for the first time.

"Is he your favorite from the cartoon?"

Max nodded.

"What's your favorite?" He asked politely after a few seconds and Alec couldn't be prouder of his son.

"Hmm.." Magnus put a finger on his chin to look like he was thinking hard. "I think my favorite is Pinky Pie, because she's always ready for a party. Aaand, she has the word pie in her name, and who doesn't like pie?" He laughed. "Do you like pie?" He asked after a moment.

Max nodded again.

"What's your favorite?"

"Blueberry."

"Blueberry?" Magnus beamed. "That's my favorite, too! I think I'm going to call you little blueberry from now on. It can be our little secret." He said in a hushed voice to make it seem like Alec and Lydia couldn't hear them which had Max giggling.

Alec watched the exchange between the two of them and his heart skipped a beat in happiness seeing his son laughing like that. He had a good feeling about this.

Lydia remained quiet through the exchange, too. But nodded towards Magnus when Max seemed to relax a bit.

Magnus took the cue and asked Max if he liked to draw to which the boy nodded eagerly. "Alright," Magnus said as he reached into his folder and pulled out a couple of papers and some markers. "What do you say we do some drawing and leave the adults to do boring work stuff, hm?" He asked with a wink.

"Okay," Max said and reached across the table for the supplies.

Alec was so mesmerized with how well Max had accepted Magnus, he almost forgot Lydia was there until she cleared her throat. He looked up and was met with her smiling face.

"So, what do you think?" She asked in a low voice. "About Magnus?"

"I-I think he looks great," he rushed. "I mean is great, um.. Max seems to like him, that is." He cleared his throat.

"Right. Good, I'm glad." She said. "Are you ready to hear my offer?"

Alec nodded.

-

After 10 minutes of listening to Lydia's offer (half of which he was too distracted by Max's giggles as he talked with Magnus in hushed voices, but she didn't have to know that), there was only one outcome to this meeting.

Lydia explained to him that his salary would be almost twice as big as his current one. He would work under the supervision of one Luke Garroway, and be partnered up with Maia Roberts for most of their projects. Both of which he had heard of, and only good things. But most importantly he would have his son just one floor away from him, and by the looks of it he would be enjoying his time here with Magnus. There was only one way this should go-

He was going to take the job.