The customary curses that seem to follow every one of Magnus’ futile trips to the dean’s office filter through the open door connecting their offices, and Alec buries an affectionate smile as he walks through it.
“Lorrrrrenzo Rrrrrey can kiss-”
“Your more-deserving ass,” Alec inserts with matching fervour, handing Magnus the consolatory coffee before dropping into the chair opposite his dramatically distraught colleague to sip his own.
“Under-his-thumb in Security gave the cheat the inside scoop on Iris’ ignominious departure, I know it,” Magnus declares, absently nodding his thanks for both the beverage and the support. “How else would that lizard know Room 301 was up for grabs?”
“The handsome one?” Alec asks, surprised. “I never knew they were an item.”
His woeful ignorance only worsens Magnus’ mood.
“Honestly, Alexander, do you live under one of those rocks you give lectures about? Rey’s portrait has pride of place in the man’s office.”
Good for him, Alec mutters internally. He has to make do with a folded pic from last year’s faculty Christmas dinner. Pressed between the pages of a book on natural disasters, aptly enough.
Outwardly, he plays the sympathetic friend. “That would explain how he was able to press his claim with the dean within minutes of Rouse’s arrest.”
“Exactly,” Magnus agrees, saluting Alec with his cup.
“So does this signal the end of your week-long campaign to persuade Imogen the coveted room-with-a-view should be yours based on length of service?” he asks hopefully.
A defiant gleam replaces the red mist in Magnus’ rather beautiful eyes and suddenly Alec’s heart is in his mouth.
“Not necessarily. I have but one tactic left to try, Alexander,” he begins ominously, rising to smooth a non-existent crease from his waistcoat, “and that is to use my undeniable charms to flirt my way over the threshold.”
Nausea and incredulity vie for dominance as Alec takes in what’s just been said. Both are trumped by jealousy.
Kohl-rimmed eyes roll as Magnus waves away Alec’s very real concern. “Spare me the moral outrage. I’m not about to propose marriage or swear undying love.”
“Then what are you prepared to do?” Alec asks, out of his seat and pacing as images of Magnus wooing Dean Herondale trigger an irrational urge to bar the door until tomorrow’s announcement over that damned office is made.
“Emphasise her finer qualities like wise decision-making and fair play to her academic staff of long standing,” Magnus replies breezily. “Add the odd compliment or two, admire her-”
“Please don't,” Alec manages, planting himself squarely in front of a mystified Magnus, unable to deny he’s leaving himself vulnerable with this reaction.
“Alexander, what’s this about?,” Magnus queries, brown eyes searching his own for the reason behind Alec’s request.
Taking his heart in his hands, Alec draws a ragged breath and makes a pitch of his own.
“Don’t leave me.”
Realisation dawns and Alec fears the worst.
Until Magnus smiles, bright and genuine.
“Oh, thank god, Alexander. I thought you'd never ask.”