It’s just a phone call. Alec stared at his cell phone in hand. The contact information for Magnus Bane stared back at him. It shouldn’t be so difficult to just ring up Magnus as Clary recommended. He rested his weight against the decorative framing of the window as he gazed out. “It’s just breakfast,” he muttered under his breath. Fight a horde of demons, no problem. Ask the overly attractive warlock out to breakfast, and he’s a wreck. Go figure.
“Good morning,” Clary said, her voice muddled with sleep.
He glanced over at her. She’d slept peacefully in his bed, her long red curls like a halo splayed out on the pillow. She blinked her big green eyes owlishly, and rubbed them with her fists like a small child. “Good morning.”
She let out a yawn, and sat up, stretching her arms over her head. “Have you called Magnus yet?”
“No,” he admitted.
Clary frowned. “Do you not want to see him?”
“I do. I… I can’t get him out of my head.” Alec frowned. Of all the people to be admitting these things too. Usually, when he got to a breaking point, he’d confide in his sister. Now, it seemed a night of sharing little memories bound them together. It was odd to go from acquaintances that barely tolerated one another, to friends. “It’s just, this isn’t a good time. I have a lot of work to be doing. I should be here at the institute. I shouldn’t be-“
“Torturing yourself,” Clary cut him off, slipping out of bed.
“Out enjoying myself.” Alec shook his head. “Jace is my-“
“Parabatai,” Clary cut him off once again, earning an annoyed glare from Alec. She crossed the room to face him. “Look, all this ‘it’s not a good time,’ ‘I should be working’ stuff, it’s all crap excuses. You need to eat. Take an hour, hell, take two, have breakfast. If you keep working yourself into the ground, you’re not going to be useful to anyone. Least of all Jace.”
Alec sighed, and felt his cheeks burn. “How does one even ask something like that?”
“Hey, Magnus,” Clary deepened her voice in a terrible impression of Alec that had a smile tugging on his lips. “Want to get some breakfast? I know just the place. Quiet, private, has great pancakes. Meet in an hour, sounds good.”
Alec rolled his eyes. “Cute.”
She quickly hit the call button on his phone, and it started ringing. “Have fun.”
The panic swamped Alec. “Damn it, Clary!” Still, he put the phone to his ear, and glared at her as she practically skipped out.
His heart lodged in his throat as the call connected. “Alexander,” Magnus’s warm voice came through the line. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Uh… well…” Alec cleared his throat, and fiddled with the hem of his shirt.
“Fresh wards?” Magnus’s voice became tired, and slightly annoyed. “Is that what you’ve called for? My services?”
“No, that’s not it,” he said softly, biting his lip, annoyed by the dance of butterflies in his gut. “Breakfast. I’m… I’m calling about breakfast.” He sucked in a breath, held it a second. “And getting breakfast… with you… like me and you getting breakfast… together. This morning. I-“
The chuckle made him bite his tongue and his face felt like he’d been sunburned. “Let me get this straight, you, Alexander Lightwood, are asking me, Magnus Bane, to breakfast?”
Alec swallowed hard. “Yes.”
“Well, where would you like to meet?”
Alec finally let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding when he heard the smile, the raw joy in Magnus’s voice. “Do you have a pen, I’ll give you the address-“
Alec has made plans for that date with Magnus... now if only he had something to wear.
Alec opened his drawers. Black t-shirts. Black sweaters. Grey sweaters. Loose fitting training pants. A black collared button-up, and black slacks that he wore exclusively for events in Idris when he had to look formal. A black hoodie. A pair of black jeans. A pair of dark blue jeans.
“Crap,” he muttered to himself.
How was he to go on a date with The Magnificent Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn looking like a mundie attending a funeral? Could be worse, he admitted, glancing at his workout gear. That would be terrible. Looking like he’d gone for a jog, only to meet Magnus who would likely wear something flashy, fashionable, and sexy.
He slammed the drawers shut. It pained him to admit it, but there was only one course of action.
His little sister had been working in the lab for days, barely returning to her room to sleep. He headed down the hall, only to hear giggling coming from Isabelle’s room. He could hardly believe his luck. Not only was she apparently done working, but awake. He’d have hated to disturb her sleep after working so hard.
“You’re wicked, Clary,” he heard Isabelle say, her voice full of mirth. “And I love you for it!”
Clary’s laughter joined.
He took a deep breath, and braced himself. Isabelle had spent years trying to convince him to let her dress him. He hadn’t cared about what he wore then, and found such things frivolous. It all went against his very practical nature. He understood now, the desire to make an impression. Still, he had a feeling that Isabelle might get a little… over the top if he wasn’t careful.
His fist braced against the door, after a second, he found the courage to knock. The door opened a moment later, Isabelle smiled up at him, even though there were dark circles under her eyes, and for once she had not a speck of makeup on. Behind her, Clary sat on the stool of Isabelle’s vanity table.
“Hey big brother,” Isabelle said with a wicked grin. “A little birdy tells me you have a hot date today.”
“It’s just breakfast,” he said, trying to soften it, make it sound less important in hopes that his nerves will settle.
She smirked in that knowing way only Isabelle looks at him with. “Well, I’m happy for you,” she said and meant it. She was the one person who always gave him the validation that what he feels, and who he is, is okay. She looked him over from head to toe, and he knew what she’d see. Bedhead, black t-shirt, sweatpants, and bare feet. “Well, you’re certainly not going out like this.”
Slowly, he shook his head. “Iz, I… I need your help.”
She let out a pitched squeal of delight, as she grabbed his hand, and pulled him into her room. “I have ideas!”
Isabelle left Clary in charge of his hair, demanding it be ‘artfully messy,’ and Clary had nodded sagely, like she knew just what that meant. Alec felt odd sitting at Isabelle’s vanity, the stool too short for his figure, but it was the only way Clary could actually do his hair.
He’d never admit it, but Clary playing with his hair is oddly soothing. In a way, it reminded him of simpler days, a childhood when his mother still doted upon him. Sure, she’d still expected him to be the best in training, and to study hard, but she’d also combed out his hair, and fixed the collar of his shirt, before pressing a kiss to his forehead. He wanted his parents to love him as they did then, before they piled on impossible expectations, and denied a core point of who he is.
Clary crouched a bit, her eyes focussed as her fingers carefully arranged tuffs of hair with some kind of hair product that had a scent he couldn’t identify but found pleasant, an edge of spice kept it from being feminine. She backed up, and studied her work with a critical eye.
“Well?” Alec asked.
She beamed. “Perfect.”
He almost, out of habit, brushed his hand back through it, but the wide eyed panic on her face stopped him just in time. He half-smiled. “I’ll try not to mess it up.”
She just smiled.
Isabelle burst back in, her arms full of clothes. “Where did you get all that?”
“Wardrobe,” she replied briskly, dumping her findings on the bed.
“Iz, those are for missions,” he scolded. “They belong to the Clave, they’re not for da-“
“Oh, quit your obsessive worrying.” She brushed off his words with a wave of her hand. “They’re not going to know, and no one here is going to notice.”
With that in mind, she grabbed a couple of shirts, still on hangers, and held them up in front of his body. “Clary, nice work with the hair,” she complimented.
“Thank you,” she replied, as she too started going through the clothes.
Isabelle studied both, threw one on the bed, and grabbed another. “What do you think, Clary?”
“What? I don’t get a say?” Alec asked, looking down at the dark blue, and sea blue shirts Isabelle was currently trying to decide between.
“You came to me for help, brother, because you’re hopeless at this stuff.” The words were softened with the kindness in her voice, and the softness of her tone. “Let us ladies take care of it.”
Clary came to stand next to Isabelle, her artist’s eye studying both. “They’re both good choices, but I feel like the dark blue is more Alec. Let’s not push him too much.”
“I agree,” Isabelle said, thrusting the dark blue shirt into Alec’s chest. “Hold this. We need to confer over pants.”
Alec sighed, and stood there as Isabelle and Clary debated over trousers (too formal for breakfast, said Clary,) and dark denim vs. light, (light would have good contrast, Clary said. Dark has a mysterious vibe, very Alec, Isabelle argued.) Ultimately, the black jeans were tossed his way.
“Go get dressed,” Isabelle ordered. “We’ll pick out accessories.”
Part of him feared returning. Isabelle and Clary were having a little too much fun playing Dress-Up Alec. Still, he trusted them, and he wanted to make a good impression. He returned to Isabelle’s room, wearing the one pair of black dress shoes he owned. “Well?”
Both women turned to him, and smiles lit up their faces. “Well, damn,” Isabelle said looking him over. “You should have let me do this years ago.”
“You look great, Alec,” Clary said. “Still you, just a little less ‘Fight Club,’ and a little more approachable.”
“Thanks… I think,” he said. He looked at the fancy clock upon the wall. “I need to go soon.”
“Right, right,” Isabelle grabbed the watch and motioned him closer.
As his sister put the thick, black utilitarian watch on his wrist, Clary put a series of thin, braided leather bracelets on the other. After the thick Lightwood ring was added to his finger, the girls backed off. Isabelle looked about ready to explode with happiness, her hands clasped and up near her mouth.
“Good?” he asked with a smirk.
She let out a squeal. “Yes, yes, now go forth and be happy!”
And with the blessing of his sister, and a quick hug from Clary, he went to meet Magnus.
As Alec got closer to the restaurant, his nerves started to get the best of him. Out of habit, he went to adjust his quiver, only to remember he hadn’t brought it with him. He had his Stele, and a Seraph blade if he needed it. Being prepared had been hardwired into his being from a young age.
The morning had warmed considerably and he’d already unbuttoned the end of his sleeves, rolled them a bit and shoved them over his elbows. Upon catching a glimpse of his own reflection in a shop window, he paused briefly. Clary, and Isabelle had done a good job ensuring he still looked like himself, yet his appearance showed he’d he’d actually put work into it for Magnus. Back on his way, he shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans, the Stele in one pocket, the grip for his blade in the other. The familiar objects brought him comfort.
He rounded the corner, and found Magnus had beaten him. For a second, Alec froze, just to take the sight in. The warlock stood, inspecting his nails, which were either a glittery black, or deep blue. His hair stood at attention, deep purple streaking throughout. The magenta button up (could it really be called that, when it was practically unbuttoned?) had a busy pattern of blues, whites, and golds. Charms dangled on the golden chains of his necklaces. Trousers fit in all the right places, and the dark blue dress shoes with the white gold laces finished off the look. All in all, this was likely as close to casual as Magnus ever got.
A slight smiled tugged at the warlock’s lips, and his eyes flicked over to Alec, who realized that Magnus had known he’d been standing there all along. The Shadowhunter forced himself forward, finding each step easier than the last till he was within the gravity of Magnus Bane. “Hey.”
Magnus practically beamed. “Hey.”
Alec rubbed the back of his neck, unable to stop the nervous gesture. “So, should we…?” he motioned to the door.
“Go inside?” Magnus, bless him, took the lead, and opened the door. “After you.”
Alec thanked him, and took a quick look around once they were inside. He’d been there before, with Isabelle, and Jace. The little mundane run breakfast nook doubled as a bakery. While they didn’t frequent there, (after hunts, it was always easier to go to a Downworlder establishment. No need for glamour, and as gross as demon ichor and/or blood was, sometimes a ‘we didn’t die’ meal was called for,) he still knew the place well enough.
In a few seconds, he recalled the layout, which was quite simple. The aisle from the door shot straight out the back door, (which lead into an alleyway that was blocked off by a eight foot chainlink fence on the west side.) To the left of this aisle was a glass case full of wonderful freshly baked goods, the till, and further back was the kitchen, which has a secondary exit. To the right of the aisle were small tables with two chairs, and slightly larger tables with four alternating down the row, pressed against the wall were booths that could fit four to six people, and there were a few tables right up at the window which were naturally the first ones taken.
Next, he glanced over the people. A few elderly couples. A man eating alone with a newspaper in hand. A couple of parents trying to reign in their young children’s excitement. A woman sitting with her son stared at them, her nose wrinkled slightly. Alec vaguely wondered what it was that bothered her; his permanent runes, or the fact that Magnus was guiding him with a hand on the small of his back toward the table by hers, one of the few left. In his head, they would have gotten a nice seat by the window, or something more private like the back booth. Being in the middle of it all bothered him, made him feel exposed, vulnerable.
Magnus pulled out the chair for him, and he couldn’t help but smile widely, even if he felt uncomfortable with it. “Thanks.”
Magnus’s hand grazed over his shoulder, before he went to the other side of the table to sit down. “I must admit, I’ve never been here before. What would you recommend?”
Alec noticed the little boy turn in his seat, following the burning glare of his mother. The boy stared a minute before he settled back in his seat. “Uh,” Alec shook his head, praying to the Angel that he could just make a full sentence without sounding like an idiot. “The waffles are amazing. I find I get sick of pancakes after the first one, but Jace he’ll…” The parabatai rune burned and he let out an audible gasp.
The pain on his face must have been apparent, because Magnus was immediately leaning over the table, grabbing his hand. “Alexander?”
“I’m okay,” he said quickly, the pain already subsiding. “The rune just-“
“But I don’t get it!” The boy said loudly, and Alec stopped at the outburst. “Why can’t boys hold hands?”
At the question, Magnus glanced over his shoulder, a mischievous smirk on his face. “They can.”
The boy quickly turned in his seat, big green eyes staring at Magnus in awe. The kid appeared frozen, save for his eyes that darted over the hair, the glittery eyeliner, and bold fashion of the man. Finally, he frowned, and with great sorrow said; “Mom says they can’t.”
Magnus held tight to Alec’s hand, thumb brushing over the Lightwood ring, and lifted it. “Can so.”
By the Angel, all I wanted was breakfast. “Magnus,” Alec hissed, feeling his face heat up. His eyes looked down at the table, not wanting to see the accusing look in the woman’s eyes that would remind him so much of his own mother.
“See mom,” the boy turned back, and returned to his chocolate chip pancakes. “They can so.”
“Brian, sit down and eat your breakfast,” his mother scolded.
The middle-aged waitress came over, note pad in hand, pencils sticking out of her messy bun. “What can I get for you gentlemen?”
Alec ordered the waffles with coffee, and Magnus, trusting his judgement, ordered the same. Alec gave the warlock a small smile. “I don’t know why, but it’s hard to picture you drinking coffee.”
Magnus draped his arm over the back of his chair, clearly a man who was comfortable in his skin. “I don’t indulge in mimosas until at least noon.”
“Your self-control is noted,” Alec said, as his fingers busied around the napkin creating small rips around the edges.
“Are you teasing me?” His long, delicate hands went to the skin of his chest, and toyed with the necklaces. “I didn’t know you had it in you.”
Alec swallowed hard as his eyes followed the man’s fingers over the expanse of skin. It was so distracting that he didn’t even notice the woman return with their coffees, nor set down the little bowl of milk and creamers.
Magnus hands returned to the table, and as he shifted forward, their little table in the middle of a crowded room felt private. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah, I think it’s just… we’re Parabatai, and we’re so far from one another. Physically.” Alec grimaced. “Emotionally. Sometimes when I think of him it burns. Maybe it’s because the bond is so stretched, maybe it’s still open somehow from when I last tried to track him.” He ran his hand over the rune. “There isn’t a lot to go on,” he admitted trying to swallow down the fear. “I’ve asked around. I’ve looked into what data the Clave has on computer. I’ve scoured the libraries. There is nothing on a bond fraying like this. Either the bond is solid, or it breaks.” He shrugged. “Sorry. I didn’t intend on talking about him on our first date.”
“He’s a big part of your life, Alec, it would be a gaping hole if you avoided every story involving him. He’s your best friend. He is your Parabatai.” Magnus looked like he was about to say more, but instead sat back as their meals arrived.
The plates of crisp, golden waffles were set before them. A little bowl of fresh butter, and a jar of maple syrup were also placed upon the table. “Would either of you like jam for your waffles. We make both strawberry, and raspberry here.”
Magnus’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh, strawberry sounds lovely.”
“I’m fine, thanks,” Alec replied.
The waitress gave a nod, and hurried off.
“How is Jocelyn?” Magnus asked.
“She’s good. I think, anyway. I don’t spend a lot of time with her to be honest. She spent a couple days being ‘asked questions,’ by Clave officials.” Alec rolled his eyes. “They said it like she had a choice, when we all knew she didn’t. I think it’s hard on Clary, to have her mother back, but… not really.”
Magnus nodded. “That does sound like the Clave.” His eyes drifted away as the waitress returned with a little bowl of jam. “Thank you.”
The woman smiled. “You’re welcome, enjoy!”
Now that Magnus had everything, Alec felt okay eating, and started cutting into his waffles. “Are you sure you don’t want any jam?” Magnus asked, as he slathered some on his waffles.
Alec waited until he was done chewing the first bite. “I’m sure.”
“Don’t tell me you don’t like strawberries.”
“I do.” Alec gave a half-hearted shrug. “I just don’t like sweet things in the morning.”
Magnus pouted. “Are you saying I’m not sweet?”
Alec nearly dropped his fork, and looked over at Magnus, who seemed to delight in his dear-stuck-in-headlights look. Alec chewed the inside of his cheek for a minute. “Well,” he drawled out. “There are exceptions to every rule.”
Magnus beamed. His eyes widened, and seemed brighter than before. Finally, he broke his gaze from Alec, and started cutting into his own stack of waffles. Alec watched, hoping that Magnus enjoyed them, since he had basically chosen the place and the order. He had the joy of seeing the immediate smile that followed the first bite, and the little moan of pleasure that came with it.
“Good?” Alec asked.
“Amazing,” Magnus corrected. “Are you sure you don’t want to break that ‘no sweets in the morning’ rule?” His fork held another square, filled with strawberry jam.
The thought of Magnus feeding him managed to seem both silly, and romantic. Alec glanced around, wishing now that he’d chosen somewhere less busy- however, this was the place for breakfast.
“I’m not pushing,” Magnus whispered, eyes locked on to Alec’s. “Just offering.”
“I-I know,” Alec breathed. “Just… just a bite.”
Alec leaned forward and opened his mouth. The feeling of silliness left under the intensity of Magnus’s stare, especially since he too had leaned forward. With the sweet taste of strawberry on his tongue, his lips closed against the fork as Magnus pulled it back, and before Alec could so much as take a breath, Magnus’s lips were against his. Just a quick peck, and yet Alec swore his IQ dropped by twenty points for a few seconds as he stared dumbly with a closed lip smile.
“How does it taste?” Magnus asked, only then did Alec remember to chew.
He swallowed hard, realizing that if he were to kiss Magnus later, he’d likely find the taste of that strawberry jam on his tongue. “It’s good,” he managed, wincing. “It’s really good.” Still didn’t manage to convey what he wanted. “I liked your lips more,” he blurted- and immediately wanted to die.
Magnus appeared pleased however. “I think the strawberry would taste better off your tongue.”
The fork fell from Alec’s fingers, making a loud clanging sound off the plate. Embarrassed, he glanced around, but no one was paying him any mind. He picked it back up, and risked looking over at the warlock. Magnus was still wearing a confident smile, with just a hint of mischief. Desperate to even the playing field, he stabbed one of his own waffle squares, and dipped it into the bowl of jam. “Maybe you’ll find out later.”
Magnus’s eyes widened, and his jaw slackened just slightly in surprise. Alec felt a bit of personal triumph.
The horrible choking sound brought Alec out of their private conversation, and back to the room. His training had him focusing on the location of the sound. The little boy, Brian, made terrible desperate noises, trying to dislodge what had caught in his throat.
“Brian!” his mother screamed, frantically looking around. “Someone, help!”
Before she’d even gotten out her plea, Alec had already been out of his seat. He pulled the child from the chair, and had to get down to his knees to get to the right height, bracing the child’s back to his chest. His right hand balled into a fist, left draped over it, and found the proper positioning. Three upward thrusts, and the child managed to spit up a chunk of half chewed pancake. The kid sucked in a big breath, and practically sank back against Alec, gasping in air.
“Oh my God!” The mother sunk to her knees, tears making her eyes appear to glitter. She pulled the child from Alec, and into her own chest, clutching the boy’s shirt. “Brian, are you okay.”
The kid sucked in a breath. “Yeah,” he said on a sigh.
There was a spattering of applause from other patrons, and Alec realized they had gathered a bit of an audience. He shifted to get to his feet, only to have the woman grab his wrist. He paused, and stared at her. She sniffled a bit, desperately holding onto her son. “Thank you.”
Brian turned quickly, looking up at him with a shy, embarrassed smile. “Yeah. Thanks.”
He nodded. “No problem,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck, unsure what to do with the praise. To avoid further awkwardness, he got back to his feet and returned to the table- feeling Magnus’s stare every step of the way.
“Very impressive,” Magnus commented.
“Not really,” Alec said, settling back in. “It’s nothing compared to hunting a Du’sien demon.”
The warlock shook his head. “Do not dismiss your heroics.” He shot the Shadowhunter an exaggerated wink. “They’re definitely very sexy.”
Alec raised a brow. “Half chewed pancake, sexy?”
Magnus shot him a dry stare at the comment. “She hadn’t even finished calling for aid, but you were already there, doing something about it.”
“I was trained to,” Alec said dismissively.
“You reacted so fast-“
“Trained,” Alec drawled out, like he was speaking to someone particularly slow-minded.
Magnus huffed out a breath. “You were in your element, you knew what needed to be done, and you took charge, and did it. It was hot. That’s what I’m saying.”
Alec looked down at his plate when he couldn’t stop the wide grin from spreading. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled like this, for so long that his face actually hurt. They made small talk. Alec talked about Isabelle, and Clary, while Magnus spoke of Chairman Meow, and a pain-in-the-ass client.
Their conversation was once again broken up by Brian, who stood by their table, staring at Alec. “I just… I wanted to thank you. That was scary.”
“Just, be careful from now on, okay?” Alec said.
The kid nodded. “I will.” He glanced over at his mother, who was paying at the register. “Bye.” They both waved, and he rejoined his mom, holding her hand as they left the restaurant.
Their conversation returned with a mix of flirtation- mostly from Magnus. He even suggested a walk in the park when they were done. Alec knew that Isabelle or Clary would call him if anything happened at the institute, and since his phone hadn’t gone off yet, he agreed.
They finished their plates, and Alec noticed that Magnus had started staring longingly at the sweets in the glass case. “You ready for that walk?” Alec asked.
“Sounds lovely,” Magnus agreed.
They both stood, making their way over to the register, Alec pulled his wallet out from the back of his jeans. Magnus’s hand draped over his. “I’ll get it,” Magnus said.
“No, I asked you out,” Alec said firmly.
“I asked you out first, you simply changed it from drinks to breakfast,” Magnus argued.
“Actually,” their waitress, who now stood behind the register said. “It’s free. The mother of that kid you saved paid your tab.”
Both of them stood there in shock. “Huh,” Magnus shook his head. “Didn’t see that coming.”
“Then six of the chocolate covered strawberries then,” Alec ordered, pulling out the money. As she boxed them up, he leaned so his lips would be right by Magnus’s ear. “You might like strawberries, but I really like chocolate.” When he leaned back and saw Magnus’s expression, all awestruck wide eyes, jaw dropped; his nerves evaporated.
“Huh,” Magnus managed. “Didn’t see that coming either.”
Maybe it was just being around Magnus, enjoying the company, sharing stories, and flirtation, but Alec felt bold. He tucked the change into his pocket, grabbed the box of chocolates, and placed his hand on the small of Magnus’s back. Even the warlock looked surprised, but more than happy. “Ready?”