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Alec woke that morning with a smile on his face and a warmth in his chest that wouldn't go away. He found himself humming as he made his breakfast, remembering Magnus cooking there, sitting at the table, laughing with Alec. Chewing his lip nervously, Alec checked his calendar. If he rushed through morning chores, he could take Magnus out for a ride later, maybe to the old pond. They could take a small picnic, chat, just... Be together in that comfortable, exciting way they had going on. Deciding that he was going to stop being a coward, Alec quickly got dressed, hurrying out the door to start his chores at top speed.

He was pleased to see Magnus' light on, even more so, when the author continued his morning routine of drinking his first cup of coffee in his robe on the porch.
"Good morning, early bird," Magnus greeted, lifting his cup in salute. Alec smiled, pleased to see that the smaller man was fully recovered from the sunstroke from a few days earlier.
"Does that make you the worm?" he asked, instantly regretting it. He snapped his jaw shut, blush roaring over his face like a forest fire, wishing he had stayed in the house after all. God, Magnus was going to hate him, think he was a loser, that he was pathetic...
"Why, Alexander," Magnus chuckled. "That implies that I need catching. I'm right here for the taking, dear boy."

Alec's huge eyes shot up to look at Magnus, immediately captured by the soft, warm smile of his face, the way his eyes glowed amber in the early morning sun. It was this, the easy flirting, the no pressure, the quiet, soft looks they shared, that Alec loved so much. He wanted to just step up on that porch and kiss Magnus, take him up on that not-subtle-at-all offer. He wanted to be brave and confident like Izzy and Jace... But he wasn't. He was dumb, shy, awkward Alec, never the one to take what he wanted, to ask for it, beg for it demand it. He took what he was given and no more.

Dropping his eyes, not seeing the concerned expression that flitted across Magnus' face, Alec cleared his throat softly. He could do this.
"If you're feeling better, I was wondering if you wanted to go for a ride today? I can make some sandwiches and we can have a picnic at a nice little spot I know? Unless you have to write, of course! Because I know you're really busy. That was dumb, I'll shut up..."
"Alexander," Magnus said softly, touching the taller man's strong forearm with the tips of his fingers. "That sounds wonderful. I'll even remember to wear a hat."
"Really?" Alec beamed, instantly brightening and flushing as the fond look on Magnus' face. "Wait, do you know how to ride? Alone, I mean?"
"It's been a few years but I remember the basics. Do you have someone that isn't likely to throw me in a ditch and trample me?"

Alec stared at the barn, running through his horses, nodding slowly.
"Mal is a good boy, he'll look after you."
"I shall be guided by you, horse master," Magnus grinned, finishing his coffee. "Now, I had best produce something today before Cat comes down here and skins me for failing to turn in my chapters on time. When shall we go?"
"I can be finished by 2 pm if that's alright with you?"
"Perfect. See you then, Alexander." With a wink and a small wave of his fingers, Magnus returned to the cabin, not seeing the way Alec watched his ass as he left. And Alec did watch, tracking the sway of the satin robe, the bunch and flex of firm, muscled gluts, the long, toned length of his legs. Oh, Jesus, it was gonna be a long day.

**
Just after 2 pm, Alec rode into the yard, silently berating himself for already being late. Magnus would be waiting, all sweetly eager, keen to go and Alec hadn't made the food or saddled Mal or... Alec stopped, staring.
Magnus was stood by the barn, stroking River, a small bag of wrapped food by his feet and several water bottles. He had a white Stetson on his head, blue jeans wrapped around his lean legs and a ruby red shirt that made him look just amazing. Alec swung down off Arrow hurrying towards him.
"I'm so sorry I'm late. There was a fence down and it took me longer than I was expecting to fix it..."
"Alexander, it's perfectly alright. I hope you don't mind that I made the food? I thought it wouldn't be fair for you to rush back and make something after working so hard all morning."
Alec blushed as the warm glow in his chest, the one that had sparked the first time he saw Magnus, spreading even further.

"Thank you. It'll just take me a minute to saddle up Mal. If you want to split the food and drinks and put half in my saddlebags, that would be great."
Magnus smiled, a bright, charming curl of pale pink lips that made Alec want to duck down and kiss him breathless. Instead, he hurried into the barn and saddled up Mal, a big chestnut gelding that had come here to be retrained and Alec had ended up keeping when he found out the owners didn't really want him anymore. When he returned outside, Magnus was stroking Arrow's soft nose, telling the black horse how beautiful he was. It made the rancher pause, just watching, as the author murmured soft, appreciative words to the horse.

"You do such a good job, taking care of Alexander all day. It must be hard work. And yet you manage to look effortlessly beautiful while you do it," Magnus was saying, spotting Alec as he hovered nearby. "Ah, another beautiful horse. You certainly have an eye for them. Hello, pretty boy," he murmured, petting Mal softly, letting the horse sniff him.
"Need a hand getting up?" Alec asked, swallowing thickly as Magnus' long fingers trailed over the horse's neck.
"I think I can manage, though don't wander off, just in case."
Quickly putting his share of the provisions in his saddlebags, Magnus put his foot in the stirrup, boosting himself up onto Mal's broad back with surprising grace.

"I'm not sure I'd win any competitions," Magnus grinned, settling himself a little more. "But I should be alright. Lead on, trailblazer."
Alec grinned, swinging onto Arrow's back easily, turning the horse towards the open fields. This track was one of Alec's favourites and part of the reason he'd bought the ranch in the first place. It was the only track on the whole ranch that had any decent shade and a good place for horses and riders to rest at the end. He kept the pace slow, letting Magnus adjust to the motion of the horse, let him take in the scenery.

They talked about the ranch and Alec's work with the horses, about Magnus' books and his current work. They talked about family and friends, swapping stories, making each other laugh. And every time Alec laughed, head thrown back in a full of expression of joy, Magnus' got this look on his face like he'd just won a prize. It made the rancher blush hotly. Focusing back on the trail for a moment, Alec lead them into the trees, careful of roots and low hanging branches, weaving a path through the spindly trunks until they reached their destination.

"This used to be an old waterhole, way back when," Alec explain as Magnus halted Mal next to him. He kept his hazel eyes on Magnus' face as the author took in the view, feeling oddly nervous. But he needn't have been.
"Oh, Alexander," Magnus breather, face lighting up with pure delight. "How exquisite!"
Nestled in the trees was a clearing at the base of a cliff, a perfect, jewelled field, complete with hundreds of tiny wildflowers and a large pool at the bottom of a high, narrow waterfall. Magnus turned dancing eyes to the other man, smiling that wonderful, enchanting smile.
"Can we go closer?" he asked excitedly.

"Of course. I thought we could stop here for a bit, water the horses, have something to eat... Just, relax a bit, you know?" Alec said softly, feeling a self-conscious cotton candy pink blush stain his cheeks.
"You are spoiling me, Alexander. Beautiful horses, beautiful views, beautiful company..."
Alec blushed harder, the candy pink darkening to cherry red as he moved Arrow into the clearing, dropping from the saddle quickly. Magnus dismounted a little slower, holding onto the saddle for a few moments after he touched the ground.
"Well, I will certainly be feeling that in the morning," he quipped, kneading his trembling thighs. "How had I forgotten that you get a bit wobbly when you haven't ridden for a while?"

Alec grinned, coming to help the author. He let him sink to the ground, piling the saddlebags on his lap while Alec removed the saddles, letting the horses enjoy the small breeze on their backs. He knew his horses, knew they were well trained enough not to run off so he let them wander, cropping at the emerald grass hungrily.
"This place is just stunning," Magnus sighed, handing Alec a water bottle and digging out the sandwiches. "You are truly a lucky man, Alexander, to have all this beauty at your fingertips."
"It is nice," Alec agreed. "But lonely too. It's just me out here, normally. My family come and visit, which is nice but..."

He didn't know what he wanted to say, how he wanted this to go. How did Jace and Izzy make it look so damn easy?! Huffing, he bit into the sandwich, pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Before he realised it, he'd wolf two of them down.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, blushing yet again. "I was hungrier than I thought."
"Not a problem, I made plenty. Eat up, dear boy, please. I won't see you go hungry out of some misguided sense of propriety."
Alec ate another delicious sandwich and followed as Magnus went to explore the pool. They sat down on the edge, Magnus taking his boots and socks off and hauling the cuffs of his jeans up as far as he could, before lowering his feet into the cool water.

When the author let out a pleased groan, eyes sliding shut to enjoy the sensation of the chill water around his hot feet, Alec nearly choked on his food. That noise, rolling from Magnus' perfect mouth, was positively sinful! It immediately brought to mind other ways the taller man might be able to get him to make that noise, where he could touch or kiss that might elicit the same response. Jerking to his feet suddenly, Alec dragged his shirt off, kicking his boots away and skinned his jeans down with graceless haste. He had a brief moment to see Magnus staring at him with saucer-wide eyes, mouth hanging open slightly, then Alec dashed into the chill water, needing to cool off before he caught fire.

Magnus sat on the bank of the pool and watched the perfect form of Alexander Lightwood cut through the crystal clear water. His brain finally came back online, informing him that, yes, Alec had just stripped off in the most ungainly, adorably awkward way and thrown himself into the water as if his life depended on it. It also, helpfully, supplied a recap of the perfection of Alec's carved chest, cut abs and dark body hair that made Magnus want to rub himself against it like a cat. His brain had also taken screenshots of Alec's ass as he'd dashed passed, showing these to Magnus so he could appreciate the perfectly rounded globes, teasingly hidden by black briefs... At this rate, Magnus would need to take a dip himself!

After a few minutes, Alec popped to the surface and made his way towards Magnus again, dark hair clinging flat to his skull, hanging in adorable curls around his face. As he rose higher out of the water, the author had plenty more time to see his glorious chest, to follow every drop of water hat trickled down it to his bri...Oh! Magnus' brain overloaded again as he took in the bulge revealed by the clinging material. It was only when Alec's hands crossed over himself that Magnus jerked back to awareness, blushing slightly.
"I apologise for staring," he said, voice an octave or two lower than normal. "It's just... Alexander, you are quite simply the most beautiful person I have ever seen. You are the kindest, the most patient person I have met in a long time. And you are built like a god, let's not forget. I am truly honoured to have met you."

He didn't think, didn't let the nagging doubts in his head control him any longer. Alec just waded closer, ducked his head slightly and pressed his cold, slick lips to Magnus' perfect bubblegum pink ones. There was a moment, a millisecond of panic, that Magnus would push him away, but then the author's gentle hands were stroking his face, tilting his head slightly and oh! Now, this was a kiss! It was a smooth glide of lips, a pressure exchange, a learning curve of breathing and wanting. Crowding closer, Alec kept kissing Magnus, almost afraid he might lose him if he stopped. And Magnus, sweet, gentle, giving Magnus, just went with the flow, guiding the kiss but not pushing, gentling Alec when he got too excited, encouraging him with his hands.

When the need to actually take a full lungful of air outweighed all other options, they broke apart, panting heavily against each other, unwilling to move away. Alec leaned into Magnus' roaming hands, wishing they would touch him all over but not ready for that either. Magnus seemed to know because he kept his hands laced together at the back of Alec's neck, watching him with patient, adoring eyes. Alec felt himself blushing again, hot and sweet and wonderful.
"Do you know," the author murmured suddenly, dipping forward to steal a chaste kiss. "I suddenly have the strongest urge for some pink cotton candy."