"You stupid, useless, worthless piece of crap!" Magnus shouted, kicking the side of his Jeep and instantly regretting it. He hopped back, wobbled on the uneven dirt track and fell on his backside in the dust. "Perfect," he sighed, massaging his aching toes. What had started out as such a promising day was quickly turning into a disaster.
It had been a sweet idea, really. Magnus wanted to cook something extra special for Alec, something to show him he had a real, romantic, interest in him as well as a general interest. He had called his mother (mistake number one, even though he adored her) who had practically burst into tears when he explained what he wanted and rushed to tell him his grandmother's secret recipe so fast he had to get her to repeat it 3 times. Then he had climbed into his stifling Jeep, hoping he could remember the way to the tiny town he had driven through on his way to the ranch. Having only driven in the wrong direction for 35 minutes before realising his mistake, Magnus had turned around and headed the right way. When he got to town, the little store was almost empty, of both people and stock. He had managed to scrounge up the bare essentials that he needed for the meal, relying heavily on improvised substitutions.
"Find everything?" a dour face man grunted from the counter, lazily ringing up Magnus' purchases.
"Not really," the author sighed back. "Seems like you haven't had a delivery today."
"Got to get here early if you want the stuff," the store clerk grunted. "Folks swoop in like vultures when they see the truck."
"Thanks for the tip," Magnus replied a little stiffly, thinking how he would have been in plenty of time if he'd turned the right way. Once the clerk had finished and told Magnus the somewhat elevated sum, he paid and hauled his goods back to the Jeep. If he hurried, he could be back at the ranch and still have time to let the meat marinade the bare minimum before Alec finished for the day.
Trying not to let his mind wander to the tall, angelically handsome horse trainer (and failing miserably) Magnus drove back to the ranch, humming happily to himself, wondering if Alec would be opposed to holding hands over dessert. He really was deliciously innocent, it was almost sinful. When he'd told Magnus that he'd never dated, always too busy with his siblings, his studies, his horses, the author had frozen, utterly stunned. How Alec Lightwood, the definition of tall, dark and handsome, had not been constantly pursued his entire life was a mystery. Magnus couldn't help the small, soft smile that crossed his face as he remembered how Alec had blushed bright red, mistaking Magnus' shock for awkward horror. The smaller man had assured him that he simply couldn't believe someone as gorgeous as Alec had ever had a moments peace from admirers, delighting when the rancher had lowered his eyes, smiling that adorable, lop-sided grin that made Magnus' heart want to cry. Gods, he was the most endearing...
A bang, like a gunshot, snapped Magnus back to himself just in time for him to feel the wheel go wobbly in his hands. He pressed on the brake slowly, steering the Jeep as straight as possible, until it bumped and jolted to a halt. And that was how he found himself here, baking under the sun, his food slowly spoiling, all his plans for wooing his dear Alexander exploding like his rear tire. He cast a wary eye at the sky, just in case it decided to rain and really make it worse. What had been 20 minutes in the Jeep now looked like at least an hour walk, weighed down by all his bags. He could try calling Alec but there was no guarantee that he would get cell service out in the fields. Magnus examined the bags, turned to face the direction of the house and assessed the situation.
If he took off his top shirt, threaded it through the handles of the bags and tied it around his waist, that would help with the burden. He would probably be sunburnt by the time he got back to the ranch but at least he might be able to salvage something of today. Quicky, he threaded his cream shirt through the handles of the bags, mourning that the material would probably be terribly stretched by the time he got home and knotted it around his lean waist. Determinedly, he set off towards the ranch.
He had been walking for a while, humming Michael Jackson songs as he went, the Jeep just a hazy dot behind him and the ranch a dark smudge on the far horizon when a steady drumming noise interrupted the otherwise still afternoon. Pausing to wipe sweat out of his eyes with the bottom of his white tank top, the author looked around, surprised to see a wavering figure coming towards him across the fields. As he squinted at it, the figure resolved into a person on horseback, galloping towards him. The closer they got, the more Magnus could see and he felt his breath catch. It was Alec.
The rancher was lounging easily in the saddle as the big black horse, Arrow, his everyday ride Magnus knew, thundered through the tall grass. His tan hat sat low on his head, shading his face, gloved hands holding the reins with easy competence. Arrow slowed as they got close, dropping to a canter then a trot and finally a walk until he stopped right in front of Magnus, a small cloud of dust puffing into the author's face.
"Magnus! What are you doing out here with all that? Where's the Jeep?" Alec demanded, jumping off the horse and hurrying to the other man. Magnus was having a hard time remembering how to speak. Alec was wearing another black tank top, tanned shoulders wonderfully bare, sweat beading in the hollow of his throat, and sinfully tight blue jeans that made Magnus feel quite lightheaded. He swayed slightly, stumbling a little as the world tilted.
"Magnus!" Alec exclaimed again, sweeping the hat from his head and plopping it on Mangus'. "You shouldn't be out in the midday sun without a hat out here. You'll get sunstroke. Where's the Jeep?"
"Back that way," Magnus pointed vaguely. "I blew a tire and couldn't change it by myself. Plus, I really wanted to get back and cook dinner for you. I have something special planned and I didn't want the food to spoil..."
Alec smiled softly, quickly untying the shirt around Magnus' waist, trying not to think about how close he was to the author or how adorable Magnus looked in his too big hat. He looked at Arrow for a moment, weighed the bags then began taking some of them off, undoing his own belt and threading the groceries on there. Magnus would have drooled of his mouth wasn't so damn dry.
"If I carry some and you carry some, we can both ride Arrow back to the ranch. We can come back and fix the Jeep after, okay?"
Nodding, eyeing the big horse a little warily, Magnus took his shirt back, re-tying it around himself as Alec swung gracefully into the saddle. He reached down to Magnus, still smiling.
"Put your foot in the stirrup and push off with the other one," he instructed. "I'll pull then you swing your other leg over. You'll have to hang on to me."
"I can do that," Magnus grinned, moving to do as Alec said. He was nowhere near as graceful as the taller man but he made it up behind him without falling off the other side so he counted that as a win. They shifted about a bit, bags bumping and crinkling, dragging at them a little until they were as settled as they were gonna get. Magnus slid his arms around Alec's waist, the front of his body pressed flush to Alec's back. He jerked slightly when Arrow began to walk, the moton a little strange at first then becoming almost hypnotic.
Heat roared through him at the feel of hot, hard muscles moving under his hands, against his chest. He thought about holding Alec like this while they made love, while they lay in bed just talking or sleeping. Gods, this man was killing him just by existing. It wasn't fair.
"Y...You should stay in the cool when we get back, drink plenty of water. You'll probably feel sick too. Whatever you were planning on making must have been really good to warrant this kind of dedication," Alec stuttered, trying not to pass out as all the blood in his body separated and ran in opposite directions. The way Magnus' strong arms felt around his waist, the heat of his chest against Alec's back, the strong fingers gripping the front of the black tank top tightly... It was enough to keep Alec in cold showers for a year at least. The smaller man leaned forward, his forehead pressed to back of Alec's neck, the brim of the hat crushed up comically over their heads. Magnus hummed softly, lulled into a light doze by the motion of the horse and the clean, warm scent of Alexander Lightwood.
He jolted awake when he felt Arrow stop, Alec shifting against him carefully. Blinking bleary eyes at the rancher, Magnus smiled in a dazed way, watching the rider dismount with the same fluid ease as before. Reaching up, Alec helped Magnus down, helping him balance as the world tap-danced away from him again.
"I would have appreciated this effect more if I was drunk," Magnus groused, letting the tall man lead him into the house and sit him at the kitchen table. Somehow they managed to get all the bags off and the ingredients put away for examination later. Alec placed a large glass of water in front of Magnus and pressed a cold cloth to the back of his neck, knocking the hat to the floor.
"Sorry, just water for you today," he grinned, pushing the glass closer meaningfully. Magnus lifted the glass to his lips, watching Alec as he did, preening inwardly when he saw the way the other man stared at his mouth.
"Mmm, bland," he grimaced.
Alec laughed softly as he sat next to him, eyes tracing the reddened skin on his nose, cheeks and bare shoulders. That made Alec pause, swallowing hard. Magnus' shoulders were broad, wiry muscled and beautiful. They always drew the hazel-eyed man's attention, always made his mouth dry and water simultaneously, always made filthy images dance through his head. Blinking rapidly, he looked away, feeling his face heat up again. Damn his stupid blush!
"Thank you," Magnus murmured suddenly. "For finding me and bringing me back, groceries and all."
Alec stared at him again, eyes going soft as they traced the lines of Magnus' face. The dazed look had faded from those honey chocolate eyes, leaving them clear but with something heated that crawled through Alec's blood like warm treacle.
"Anytime," he mumbled back, fighting the urge to look away. Magnus smiled a small, private smile and leaned a little closer. Alec's heart began to race, sweat blooming on the back of his neck, the palms of his hands. Was Magnus going to kiss him?!
The shrill beeping of his phone made them both turn, glaring at the noisy, interfering piece of technology as if they could melt it.
"Damn," Magnus muttered as Alec stumbled to his feet, snatching it up.
"What, Jace?" the tall rancher snapped, tugging at his hair frustrated. So close!
"Horse crap? Really Alec?" Jace shrieked.
Magnus drank his water and listened to Alec talk to his brother, smiling at the side of the conversation he could hear. Alec had some sass to him, it seemed.
"Ask Izzy, she knows why," Alec snapped hanging up and throwing his phone down. "Sorry about that."
"Nothing to be sorry for," Magnus smiled, standing slowly. "I'm feeling better already. I fear that dinner will not be what I had planned which is most annoying. I hope you like what I can rescue though."
Alec watched as Magnus began to inspect his groceries, the warm treacle feeling rising in him again. Magnus fit into his life so easily, looked so at home in his kitchen, in his living room, on his horse, in his arms. That thought made him still, examining it closer. He could see Magnus in his arms, looking up at him with that dazed look but this time his pink lips kiss swollen and red, long fingers tangled in Alec's hair as he panted against the rancher's own kiss-bruised lips.
"Magnus..." he blurted, teeth snapping together suddenly to stop anything else coming out.
"Yes, dear boy?" the smaller man asked, half turning and rising one perfect eyebrow. The words hammered inside Alec's head pounded at his throat, threw themselves at his teeth, desperate to be let out. He could just ask, it wouldn't hurt...
Instead, he swallowed hard, coughing as the words choked their way back down. Magnus got another glass of water and handed it to him, frowning, concern in every line of his face.
"Alexander, are you alright?"
"Yeah... S...Sorry. I was... Um...Would you like to... Ride out with me tomorrow?"
The part of his mind that always sounded suspiciously like Izzy kicked him square in the back of his left eye, screaming that those were not the right words. He was supposed to ask if Magnus would kiss him!
"I would love to," Magnus beamed, seeming genuinely delighted. "But... my Jeep ..."
"No problem," Alec smiled. "We can take my truck after dinner and change the tire."
"There you go again, Alexander, being such an angel," Magnus chuckled, turning back to the food he was preparing.
Alec let his head drop to his folded arms for a moment, silently scolding himself for being such a coward. Dammit!