Chapter 1: Chapter One
“Fuck,” Alec hissed and shoved his thumb in his mouth while he carefully navigated the tray of cupcakes down onto the work surface. He would throw those oven gloves out, except for the fact that Izzy gave them to him as a present last Christmas. He left the cupcakes to cool in their bright wrappers and lifted his head towards the shop.
“Twenty minutes, Fray,” he shouted and got an answering ‘woo!’ in return. He shook his head. Way too excited for new cupcakes. He opened the fridge, took out the batch of strawberry lemonade icing Clary had colored that morning and moved it to soften to room temperature. It probably was an eye-watering pink but he knew it tasted good – because he’d made the damn thing. The colors he left up to Clary, because if it were up to him, nothing would be that bright.
Alec swiped his hair off his forehead and bent to check on the Madeleines, then went back to mixing the cake batter he’d been working on that morning, adding in the orange zest and a dash of amaretto, and then pouring it out into two cake tins with a deft hand. The cake tins went back into the hot oven and he set the timer, wiped his hands on his apron and finally left the kitchen.
Clary was sitting on a counter sketching, swinging her legs and singing along to some pop song on the radio.
“Hey,” she said, not looking up. “So I’m working on a couple of things for Easter.”
“Not butterflies again,” Alec said, scowling and she snorted.
“No, grumpy cat, not butterflies again. Stop pretending you hate all things pretty. This year I’m thinking Faberge eggs.”
“Sure, because Russia is so politically hot right now.”
She looked up then and frowned at him.
“Seriously? We’re going to ignore beautiful art because of its heritage?”
“Hard to ignore a country rounding up gay people, Fray.”
“Alec. You know I’m not ignoring that. I’m not putting ‘we love Putin’ messages on the cakes. I just want them to look refined and gorgeous, all that enamel and jewels.”
He sighed and slumped against the counter. “I know. Sorry.”
“What happened?” She knew him far too well by now, years of annoyance melting into a thawed friendship that was as weird to her as it was to him. Even weirder now that they worked together – well, technically he was her boss but by now she was so vital to Heaven that he couldn’t really visualize working without her.
“Family dinner last night.”
Clary winced and hopped off the counter, throwing her arms around him. Friendship was one thing but that hadn’t turned him into a hugger, so he kept his arms at his sides. She huffed a laugh and punched him in the arm.
“You dad or your mom?”
“Dad, this time. Praising the current stance on… well, everything. Not so much hinting but outright saying I should give up this place and move back into ‘serious’ cooking.” He gave the air quotes as much gravity as he could.
“You’d never,” Clary said with surety.
Alec grinned down at her. “’Course not. And I said that. You know I don’t just let him spit all over what we’ve built.”
“What you’ve built.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you,” he said lightly and she beamed at him and threw her arms around him again.
“Ew,” he said, and wrinkled his nose. “Stop hugging me, I know where you’ve been.”
“Ha ha,” she replied drily. “I haven’t seen Jace since yesterday and I’ve showered at least twice since then.”
“He lingers,” was all Alec said, making a face at her and she laughed again and shoved him away.
“So what did you say to your dad?”
“Hmm? Oh, I told him I’d never give up Heaven and he told me I should at least change the name before people got the wrong idea. I asked him what idea the name gave him and he turned red and muttered something about a club for ‘people like me’.”
“He didn’t,” Clary said with an appalled expression on her face.
“Yup. So I told him I’d change the name of Heaven is a Taste on Earth over my cold, dead, gay body, and he left the room.”
Clary burst into giggles and he smiled, feeling better than he had all day. He shouldn’t let his dad get under his skin like that, but there was only so much homophobia he could take from the people who were meant to love him the most.
“Ok, so show me these eggs. Wait, does this mean they won’t be sickly sweet pastels like last year?”
“Kinda ironic that you’re a color snob, Alec.” She shook her head and spun the sketch pad around so he could see.
“Huh. So this lattice work – gold?”
“Yeah,” she said, nodding. “Jewel colors for the main cakes and then we need some metallic paint and possibly some real gold leaf. And edible pearls and diamonds.”
Alec dipped into the pocket of his apron and flipped open his notepad, scribbling notes. “Basically you want edible gems and all the metallics you can get your tiny hands on, right? I’ll get Izzy to put in an order.”
He dropped the pad back into his pocket and looked again at her drawings. “Geez, Fray, you don’t do things by halves. I’m going to have to design a cake tin for those, you know. Or maybe we can balance the eggs on a stand. Or… hmm, maybe cut the cakes to get the pointy end of the egg.”
“You love a challenge,” she sing-songed.
“I like paying rent on time,” he countered.
“I think these will sell like hotcakes,” she said solemnly and then cracked up. “Hotcakes! Alec, you have to laugh.”
He gave her his best deadpan face, not twitching at all. She was still pouting when the door banged open and Izzy whirled in like a hurricane, carrying several bags – one in her teeth.
“Hey Iz,” Alec greeted her as she dropped the bag onto the counter in front of her. “What did you pick up for us?”
“Bakery up on 176th,” she said. “I got blondies and brownies.” She shucked the rest of her bags off onto the chairs closest to the counter and Alec eyed them, groaning inwardly when he saw at least two from shoe shops. Izzy had enough shoes that she could start her own store, but he couldn’t begrudge his sister anything. Not when she looked after the financials, marketing, appointments and deliveries and basically kept him and Clary out of bankruptcy.
Clary had already run to the kitchen to get a plate and knives, so Alec began to unpack the pastries.
“Ok guys, you know the drill.”
He cut the blondie and the brownie into segments with different knives and took his segment in his hands, pressing down with his fingers, squeezing to determine the density. He made a non-committal noise and then broke the brownie apart with his fingers. It came apart easily, so Alec already knew it had too much flour in it for his taste, so he made a small disapproving noise, making notes on his pad again. But when he tried it, chewing slowly, it had chunks of bitter dark chocolate that countered the sweetness of the cocoa, and macadamia nuts instead of walnuts, which was an interesting textural choice.
Alec looked up and found four pairs of eyes staring at him, realized he’d been saying that aloud and then flushed.
“Er,” he said and blinked at the newcomers behind Izzy, his eyes focusing on one of the most striking people he’d ever seen.
“Hi,” he said, swaying a little as if he’d been pushed, and the man in front of the counter grinned. Alec swallowed back the groan that had risen in his throat at the sight of bright white teeth and eye crinkles, actual eye crinkles. This man had been in his shop for about thirty seconds and already Alec was so, so fucked. He also looked familiar, and Alec’s mind raced as to how he knew him.
“Hi. We might be early?”
“Oh, you must be Camille and Magnus!” Izzy stuck her hand out for the woman – the incredibly annoyed looking woman, now that Alec turned his gaze to her – to shake and then shook Magnus’ hand after he put down as many bags as Izzy had been carrying earlier. His sleeve was rolled up to expose strong forearms and his hands looked firm and sure as he took Izzy’s hand. Alec found himself hoping with a sudden, unexpectedly strong, fervor that they weren’t here to look at wedding cakes.
“I’m Isabelle Lightwood, and this is Alec and Clary. Sorry, we’re – well, we’re judging the competition.”
Magnus laughed easily. “Not a problem. I do the same thing whenever I eat out. Hey, Clary.”
“You’re Magnus Bane,” Alec blurted when his brain figured out how he knew him and then flushed again, wishing the floor would swallow him up.
Magnus grinned again. “I am. And you, have a little something…” He reached out his hand, leaning over the counter and swiped at Alec’s mouth with his thumb. “Just a little chocolate there.”
Alec stared dumbly at him.
“Magnus,” Camille said sharply.
“Sorry, darling.” The apology sounded automatic and Magnus’ shoulders rounded as he turned back to her – but he sucked his thumb into his mouth when she moved her attention back to Izzy. Alec fought down a whimper that tried to claw its way out of his throat, and Magnus’ eyes flicked back to him, dipping to his mouth when Alec wasn’t fast enough to press his lips together. Fuck. He’d heard that whimper. A steady flush rose on Alec’s cheeks and he cut his gaze away and tried to focus on the woman, aware that Magnus was still looking at him. His face felt like it was on fire.
“We have an appointment.” She looked at Izzy with a hint of a sneer on her face, sounding disapproving, and weirdly like his mother. Alec already didn’t like her. Izzy nodded.
“Yes, of course. Why don’t you both take a seat and we’ll go over your needs, and then speak to you about flavors and designs. I’ll start off with some details and logistics.” Isabelle gestured to one of the free tables and Camille gracefully sat down, Izzy sliding into the seat across from her. “And then we have some samples for you to try as well.”
With impeccable timing, a loud beeping began to emanate from the kitchen. Alec snapped out of whatever trance he was in and darted a glance at Magnus, who had picked up the multitude of shopping bags and placed them carefully at Camille’s feet, then turned to peer at the selection of small cakes and pastries they baked fresh every day.
“We’ll be right back,” he mumbled and fled, pulling Clary with him into the relative safety of the kitchen, breathing hard.
“Alec?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“What is Magnus Bane doing in my bakery?” he hissed.
“My guess would be wanting to buy a cake?”
“In my bakery?”
She looked incredulous, and almost worried, like maybe Alec was having some kind of fit.
“Yeah. What the hell is going on, Alec?”
“Wait, he said hi to you. Do you know him?” He grabbed her arm and dug his thumb into the crook of her elbow, practically hyperventilating.
“Yeah, I’ve met him a couple of times when meeting Simon after work. If you'd be more social, you'd have met him before too. Alec, what's wrong?”
Alec slumped like the strings holding him up had been cut. He walked over and smacked his forehead against the fridge door with a loud thunk.
“Oh, nothing. It’s not like he’s my complete idol, standing here in my bakery, being gorgeous and pointing out I had chocolate on my face and I couldn’t even say hi like a normal person because he’s Magnus Bane. The Magnus Bane.”
“Ohhhhhhh,” she said, and Alec could hear the wince in her voice. “It’s ok, Alec. He’s really nice. He won’t say anything about the fact that you have frosting on your forehead.”
Alec whined, clenching his hands into fists, not turning away from the fridge.
“Oh god, kill me now!” And then the timer went off again and his eyes widened in horror.
“Shit, the cake!” He flew to the oven and whipped open the door, grabbing a dishcloth to drag out the cake tins. They didn’t look burnt, but they’d probably be more dry than he wanted. He set them down carefully and turned back to Clary, who was busy re-covering the icing from the morning to go back in the fridge. If it was left out any longer it would be too runny to pipe.
“It’s ok, Alec. We’ll get the samples out, go and chat with them and he’ll love what you do. Promise.”
“I can’t believe I forgot we had a stupid cake appointment. Wait, how the hell didn’t I know it was for Magnus Bane?”
“You’re going to stop saying his full name at some point, right?” she asked, the corner of her mouth ticking like she was trying not to laugh as he scowled at her. “The appointment just said Camille. She’s the one ordering the cake. And I bet she’s one tough cookie.”
She nudged Alec. “Tough cookie? Come on, not even a courtesy laugh?”
Alec took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. “Clary, I’ve wanted to meet him for years and I’ve just done it while talking around a mouthful of sub-par brownie. He had to wipe chocolate off my face. As first meetings go, it’s hardly the best impression.”
Clary turned her mouth down like she disagreed. “I don’t know, as first meetings go it sounds like second base.”
He kicked her ankle and she scampered away from him, laughing, and then skipped over to the other fridge where slices of their sample flavors were kept.
“Come on. Time to face Beauty and the Beast.”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Clary grabbed her design portfolios and Alec balanced container after container of cake and frosting samples, defrosted and laid out in the larder overnight, in his arms. Together they made their way back out to the front of the bakery. Izzy smiled up at them and gracefully rose from the table.
“I’ll make some refreshments while you discuss and more importantly, taste! What would you both like?”
“Coffee, black,” Camille said, her eyes flickering appreciatively to Izzy’s shoes. Alec ignored what Magnus was paying attention to so he could start unpacking the samples and plate them up, one flavor of cake with several frosting samples around the outside of the plate. He nearly dropped a plate when Magnus’ voice, deeper and softer than he’d expected, asked Isabelle for a simple black leaf tea with lemon.
“Right,” he heard Clary say brightly behind him as he turned to dig out clean forks from the drawer behind the counter. Before he turned back round, he took a deep breath, and then pulled out a chair, sinking into the spot next to Magnus. They were so close that Alec’s leg brushed against his and Alec jerked his leg away, fumbling slightly.
“I’m Clary Fray,” Clary continued, placing a placating hand on Alec’s knee rather than give him any looks that would acknowledge he was being a complete weirdo. “I’ve worked for Alec – “
“With,” he interjected, with a stern look.
“With Alec,” she continued, blushing, “for a few years now. I’m Alec’s cake decorator – “
Alec interrupted her again, keeping himself distracted from the warmth emanating from the man beside him.
“No, you’re my artistic director.”
“You both are adorable,” Camille drawled. “How long have you been a couple?”
At that, both Clary and Alec looked at her with sheer horror spread all over their screwed-up faces.
“So gay!” They spoke over each other and then Magnus burst out laughing. Even Camille looked amused.
“You bicker like a married couple,” she shrugged and finally smiled at them. Alec squinted at her. She looked very familiar when she smiled. A realization crept up on him.
“Wait, are you…” Her entire face lit up and she nodded, her mouth curling in a satisfied smile.
“Yes, I’m that actress on that show you’ve seen.”
“It’s a good show,” Alec said automatically, managing to not look like he was lying. It was a terrible show, but it had very pretty people in it and one guy who took off his shirt a lot.
She preened a little at the compliment. “Thank you. Although really as a gay man, I expected you to know who I was before you knew who Magnus was.”
Alec finally turned his gaze to Magnus who was staring at Alec with a small smile, his eyes dark and intent like they’d been watching him for a while. Alec flushed again, and wrinkled his nose in irritation as he felt the burn of it creep across his face.
“Um. I trained as a professional chef. Of course I know who Magnus is. Mr. Bane. Um.”
“Magnus is fine,” Magnus said, his fingers flexing in a small movement close to Alec’s hand. Frightened that Magnus had been about to placate him by, god forbid, touching him, Alec jerked his hand back and grabbed one of the plates.
“Aww, Magnus, you have a fan.” Camille had returned to her bored drawl, but there was a condescending edge to it that Alec didn’t understand and therefore didn’t like, bristling a little in Magnus’ defense.
“He runs a two-star kitchen. Pretty sure he has lots of fans,” Alec muttered and then scowled at the plate in his hands.
“As I was saying before Alec decided to fanboy both of you,” Clary cut in with just the right note of fond sass directed at him, turning the attention back to her and reminding Camille he’d complimented her first.
“I do the design work. Alec here is the chef extraordinaire and we of course work together. But I bet you want to make this cake look just as amazing as it tastes. You want jaws to drop when you unveil it. That’s where I come in.”
Clary focused her gaze on Camille and smiled at her warmly. “And I bet since you’re planning the party, we have to make sure the cake fits in with your overall aesthetic, so you are going to be my co-designer on this cake.”
Very few people could withstand Clary’s blend of enthusiasm, sincerity and friendliness and it seemed Camille was no exception. She sat up straighter and nodded. Clary opened her first folder.
“Why don’t we look at some of these while the boys do their food thing?”
“Well, I do have some ideas on flavors too. I mean, not that I don’t trust darling Magnus to pick something wonderful for his own birthday…” But she sounded exactly like she didn’t trust Magnus to do anything wonderful without her guidance – or perhaps Alec was projecting.
Alec nodded at Camille, swallowing back what he wanted to say.
“Of course. You must have thought of so many perfect combinations for him. How long have you two been together?”
“Oh, what is it now, three years?” She waved her hand in the air.
“Nearly seven,” Magnus said quietly, his eyes shuttered, carefully neutral. “On and off.”
“Wow,” Clary said, leaning back. Alec could tell she was exaggerating for Camille’s benefit. “I think that’s wonderful. My boyfriend and I have just passed the three-year mark. So congrats!”
“Mmmm,” Camille hummed, her mouth pursed, flicking her hair back over her shoulder and covering Magnus’ hand with her own. “I’ll take those congratulations when Magnus finally makes an honest woman out of me.”
Alec suppressed a shudder, not sure why that had sounded so threatening and looked at Magnus, who had cast his eyes down to the table.
“Good things come to those who wait,” he murmured, and Magnus’ gaze flicked up to his, his eyes wide.
“Mmmm,” she said again, more sharply. “I was thinking of a Pina Colada cake, actually. Think how delicious coconut and pineapple can be together. With a little rum in the mix? Delicious. And Magnus is such an exotic flower, it would suit him so well.”
“That’s a great flavor combo,” Alec allowed, nodding, and then turned to Magnus, who was staring at Camille with an odd look on his face.
“Magnus? Any flavor ideas?”
“Well, I’m not a fan of coconut,” he said, sounding apologetic, and Camille pouted again, wrinkling her nose like he’d done that purely to spite her.
“What about cherry then?” Her voice took on a wheedling, husky tone. “I know you love cherries.” Ok, that was definitely something sexual that Alec did not want to know about. “Cherry and marzipan like those amazing cakes we had in London that time!”
“That you had,” Magnus said evenly, steel creeping into his tone. “Because I’m allergic to almonds.”
Alec automatically dropped his head into his notebook to make a note of that and to avoid whatever argument was about to explode across the table.
“Urgh, you are determined to pick apart everything I suggest! I give up. I bow to your clearly superior palate,” she sneered, and turned her back on Magnus. “Clary, let’s focus on design, seeing as Magnus is being difficult.”
Magnus opened his mouth and reached out his hand as if he was going to apologize, then closed it again with an audible snap, and shifted his entire body to face Alec. Awkward was not the word.
“I apologize,” he murmured, his voice too low for Clary and Camille to hear once they’d started discussing the party’s theme. Alec waved his hand, hoping that was enough to convey how much he didn’t want to hear, oh, anything at all about their relationship drama. Things like this happened more than he would necessarily like, but normally during wedding cake tastings. He had once had a groom who was convinced his bride-to-be was allergic to strawberries, but it had turned nasty when it became clear that it was his ex’s allergy. Alec had had to hide the knives.
“Any other allergies?” Alec asked, his pen poised. “Or anything else you don’t like?”
Magnus hummed, pursing his mouth, and then reached up to fiddle with a small silver ear cuff. Alec watched that, frozen, before clearing his throat and trying to maintain focus.
“I’m also allergic to peaches and nectarines. I’m not a fan of floral flavors, I’m afraid. I know it’s lovely in the spring and summer to put rose and lavender in everything, but I simply don’t like it. Likewise I’m not a huge fan of pistachios. And coconut, as I said before. But I think that’s about it.”
His large brown eyes crinkled when he smiled at Alec and Alec choked a little on absolutely nothing. Jesus, he was a mess.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, and took a long drink of water. When he put the bottle down, Magnus averted his eyes quickly as if he’d been staring at something he shouldn’t have been. Alec frowned.
“So... what do you like?”
Magnus relaxed and laughed. “Oh, Alexander, you can’t ask me that, we’ll be here until my next birthday.”
“Fnnrh,” Alec said in response, trying to unstick his tongue from the roof of his mouth. Magnus grinned at him unrepentantly. “How did you know my name is Alexander?”
“Oh, please. Like you’re not famous in your own way. You come from restaurant royalty. And then, one day, that’s it, you’re gone from The Circle and opening this place.” Magnus gestured around him. Alec looked about the bakery, with its cheerful neutral walls in cool blues and pebble grays, the counter gleaming under the lights, the tables with sprays of fresh peonies in the middle of each, and then turned his face back to Magnus.
“This place is a hundred times better and more me than The Circle.” There was a firmness in his voice that spoke volumes about how much he had hated working in his family’s three-star restaurant.
Magnus’ answering smile was so open and wide for a moment, Alec forgot to breathe.
“Yes. It’s much more you. And I don’t even know you. But walking out took a lot of guts, and then opening this place by yourself took something else anatomical. You were New York’s finest patisserie chef. You made a dessert that literally brought me to tears one night.”
“You ate at The Circle?”
Magnus nodded. “About four years ago. Just before you left. You made a Tipsy Cake with charred pineapple and a vanilla cream. I sometimes still taste that in my dreams.”
Alec spluttered a laugh, feeling like he was having some sort of out of body experience. Magnus Bane had eaten his dessert. Magnus Bane dreamt about his dessert. Magnus Bane was the most beautiful man he’d ever been near.
“I wanted to hunt you down to offer you a job, actually,” Magnus continued, musing, as he picked up a fork and toyed with the cake in front of him. “But your parents refused to give me your number. And then you opened this place and – well, Ragnor passed away.”
Alec finally pulled himself together enough to manage to make words happen.
“I was so sorry about Ragnor. I never met him, but he sounded like he was a wonderful man, and a fantastic chef.”
Magnus nodded. “He was my mentor and quite literally taught me everything I know. It was sudden, but not necessarily unexpected. So I’m afraid I was occupied with running Pandemonium as the new Head, otherwise I certainly would have come here before now.”
“I, um. Wow. I had no idea you even knew I existed.”
“You caused a stir in the food community, you must know that.”
Alec shook his head, blinking. “No. Iz – my sister – she protected me from any online speculation and the papers and I don’t pay attention to anything else, really. If I’d known it was a thing…”
“What would you have done?” Magnus smiled at him, genuinely interested.
“I have no idea. Taken out an ad explaining how my parents’ homophobia got to be too much for me, once and for all?” Alec huffed a self-deprecating laugh, and ran his hand through his hair.
“Fuck, I’m sorry.”
“No, god, don’t be. We still talk. We’re still family. I mean, they hate this place and think I should go back to working for them, but I had to do my own thing.”
“I think that’s incredibly brave.” Magnus’ hand settled over his own, quieting his tapping, restless fingers and Alec swallowed. “Really, Alexander.”
He tried to keep his mouth shut so he wouldn’t say anything mortifying, like ‘meep’ or ‘marry me’ or ‘how are you perfect?’. After a moment, Magnus patted his hand and drew back.
“So given how I’ve complimented you, can you reward me with cake now?” He grinned at Alec and nudged him with his knee. Alec sprang into action, hands flailing a little.
“God, yes, of course. Um, here, try this. There are four frostings to go with it. It’s a simple Guinness chocolate cake.”
Magnus raised his eyebrows but said nothing, taking his fork and dragging the bite of cake through the first frosting. He made a small noise, like a hum of approval, and Alec shifted in his seat. That… could get very uncomfortable for his jeans if Magnus kept those noises up.
“Seriously, is that blackcurrant frosting?” Alec blinked and came back to the room.
“Um, yeah. Here you have a dark chocolate ganache, then a Bailey’s cream cheese frosting, the blackcurrant frosting, then finally a chocolate and chili frosting.”
“I’m going to die, fat and happy, in your bakery,” Magnus told him, not looking up from loading his fork again.
Alec smiled innocently and quirked on eyebrow. “Would you say you’ve died and gone to Heaven?”
Magnus looked up at him, a flash of surprise crossing his face and then exploded into laughter, literally throwing his head back and holding on to his side as he laughed, exposing the long column of his throat and his sharp Adam’s Apple. Alec stared and clenched the tablecloth in his hand to prevent himself from reaching out and touching him.
“Oh how sweet, you made Magnus laugh. Hardly surprising, as he takes nothing seriously. Do you, darling?” Camille’s voice sounded sweet but left a sour taste in Alec’s mouth and he frowned at her. He wanted to step in and defend Magus but that would be ridiculous as he hardly knew him. But Magnus got there first.
“I’m taking this cake very seriously. My god, Camille, try this. It’s delicious.”
“You know I can’t if I want to fit into my dress on Friday.”
“There’s no way in hell you won’t fit into that dress. You’re gorgeous and have at least five pounds to spare before that dress would begin to be tight. Come on.” Magnus loaded his fork and held it out with a sincere look on his face. “Taste how good this is and how happy I am that you came up with this idea.”
She fluttered her eyelashes but gave him a real smile before leaning forward and wrapping her mouth around the fork and letting out a small noise.
“Alec, that’s really good!”
Magnus smiled at her and then turned his smile to Alec, who promptly forgot to be mad at how surprised Camille had sounded.
“You’re an absolute angel,” Magnus told him with a delighted look on his face that made him glow, and Alec gave up fighting it. There was no defense against that smile. He was completely, one hundred percent, totally head over heels for Magnus Bane.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Izzy was waiting for them outside when Clary and Alec closed up, hopping from foot to foot on the sidewalk as she tried to keep warm in the cold air. Alec refused to look at her and fumbled with his keys, taking a little longer to lock up the door than he normally would.
“Drink?” Izzy asked Clary brightly, and Clary giggled as she looped her arm through Izzy’s.
“Definitely. Tonight is a wine night for sure.”
Alec groaned on the inside but outwardly ignored them. Wine night was reserved for them getting tipsy and trying to sort out Alec’s life and then gossiping about everyone else. He had a feeling that tonight there wouldn’t be much gossip.
It was only a short walk home and Alec’s long legs meant that he left the girls meandering and window shopping on the way. He wondered if he could get away with locking himself in his room before they got home, but then discarded the idea. Izzy was more likely to break in through his window than leave him alone after a day like that.
He walked through the front door, threw his jacket at the coat rack, and then dropped, face-planting in to the sofa as Jace swiveled his chair around and watched him with only a slight raise of eyebrows.
“Hey,” Jace said nonchalantly. “Bad day at work, dear?”
“Ha ha,” Alec said, his face muffled in the couch cushion. “What gave it away?”
“Did you have to deal with a couple calling their wedding off again?” Jace sounded surprisingly sympathetic, probably because Alec dealt with most things with the kind of attitude last seen in the dedicated Stoics of Athens.
Alec made a noise to indicate the negative that was drowned in Izzy’s loud ‘Ha!’ as she burst through the door.
“No, he met the love of his life today and is now moping.”
Alec moved the cushion from under his face to over his head and clutched it around his ears, as if he could ever effectively silence Izzy that way. She ripped it out of his hands and batted him on the ass with it a second later anyway.
“C’mon, scoot over. Clary’s getting the wine.”
Alec groaned and rolled over, twisting himself up and then slumped over the arm of the couch and looked piteously at Jace.
“Kill me,” he implored.
“Nah, man. Think this might be a two-bottle night.”
Izzy cackled behind him and shoved her feet in Alec’s lap.
“You guys are the worst.”
“Oh, shut it, Alec,” Clary said as she returned from the kitchen bearing an open bottle and four glasses. “You love us because we are going to help you get your man.”
She collapsed into crossed legs on the other side of the coffee table and started to pour out the wine. She even did that peppily.
“He has a long-term girlfriend. Who is buying him cake. My cake. Because she loves him.”
Clary fixed him with a look as she poured the final glass.
“Get. Your. Man.” she repeated, and raised her glass to clink against Jace and Izzy’s, not looking away from Alec. Her stare hardened and turned more pointed. Alec sighed, picked up his glass and tapped it to hers.
“Get my man,” he mumbled back, and took a long gulp.
Forty minutes later, Alec had joined Clary on the floor and was gesticulating with his empty wine glass while Izzy tried to work the corkscrew for the second bottle.
“I mean, he’s perfect. Perrrrrrrrfecttttt,” he enunciated, dragging the word out. “Did you see his… face? I mean, that face. And he’s so nice, ergh.” He slumped back into Clary’s lap and she petted him at little too firmly to be soothing.
“He does have a very nice face,” she agreed. “He also seemed to like your face.”
“My face was covered in chocolate. I think he liked the chocolate.”
Clary rolled her eyes. “Alec, most normal people who aren’t into you don’t touch your face within three seconds of meeting you, nor do they hold your hand – yes I saw that – and they also don’t look at you like you hold the answer to everything they’ve ever questioned.”
He lolled his head in her lap to look up at her.
“He looked at me like that?” He hated how vulnerable he sounded.
“Yeah, you doofus. Why do you think I was distracting Camille so much?”
“Ergh, she’s the worst,” Izzy said, punctuated by a triumphant ‘aha!’ as she managed to pull the cork from the bottle.
“Why do you think he stays with her?” Clary wondered, holding her glass out for more wine.
“Because she’s hot and gives good head?” Jace answered. “That’s why most men stay with women who treat them like shit.”
Clary shook her head and glared at her boyfriend.
“No, you uncultured swine. Magnus could have tons of people who are hot and give good head.”
“Like me,” Alec interjected and she nodded vehemently while Jace made a face.
“Like Alec. But he doesn’t because… I don’t know. Maybe it’s better the devil you know? Maybe she’s just worn him down so much he doesn’t believe he’s anything without her.”
A pause of contemplative silence fell.
“But that’s a more depressing reason, so I’m sticking with the good head,” Jace said after a moment, and Izzy snorted.
“Whatever the reason, they don’t seem to be on solid ground, given the number of times they’ve broken up. And we know Magnus has dated men before. So big bro,” Izzy said as she leaned over and poured Alec a fresh glass of wine. “I think the best thing you can do is make him an amazing cake and be there when they split up.”
“Yeah,” Clary nodded sagely. “The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
Alec caught Jace’s eye and they both started to grin, their mouths twitching.
“Nope,” Alec said, raising his glass while Jace reached out with his, knocking them together with a loud ‘ting’. “Still good head.”
They both had to duck the cushions Izzy and Clary threw at them.
Alec was still thinking about Magnus the next day as he pulled the fresh baguettes from the oven. The third batch of the day went in and he shut the oven door, wincing at the loud noise. Two bottles on a work night – when he had to start baking at five am – was never a smart idea. But then, pining after Magnus was a bad idea as well and he was doing that in spades. Maybe it was a bad ideas week – and it was only Tuesday.
Clary was due in at nine and his sister at ten, so he had at least an hour or more of quiet, depending on how hungover Clary was. Which meant he had enough time to brood before they forcibly made him smile. As much as he thought Magnus was talented, and as much as he knew he was gorgeous, and as kind and smart as he had appeared in their conversation, he had a girlfriend. Which meant nothing could happen, even if said girlfriend was a toxic vampire that was sucking the joy from Magnus’ life.
Maybe he was a dramatic brooder.
Alec rolled his eyes at himself and started to pull together the blueberry muffins he baked every morning, splitting a vanilla pod with more force than was necessary. From the small office Izzy habited when she was in, the phone began to trill. Alec frowned and checked his watch. It was a little early for people to book appointments.
He wiped his hands on his apron and dug into the pocket for his phone as he crossed the kitchen. No messages, which meant it wasn’t anyone he knew. He grabbed the phone to stop it from bleating at him anymore and scowled at whoever it was. This was going to set him back horribly in terms of time.
“Hello?” he said, not bothering to say who he was or the name of his bakery. They call before eight, they get morning Alec.
“Alexander,” a voice practically purred down the phone and his brain went ‘blip’ as he froze, his lungs expanding in his chest so he couldn’t get enough breath.
“It’s Magnus. From yesterday. … Alexander?”
Alec coughed to dislodge the weight in his throat, choked a little and then croaked a small “hi”.
“I’m sure I’m bothering you.”
“No no no,” Alec protested, wheezing only a little as he turned, flapping his hands at… no one. Because he was the only one there.
“Not at all. I was, um, just pulling the muffins together. Wait, isn’t it horribly early for you?”
“I was just going to bed. In fact, I’m in bed. I had to stop to watch the sunrise on my way home. It’s my favorite part of the day. The world is still and only the early or the very late are awake.” Jesus Christ, Magnus sounded so good, a little lazy like he was already falling asleep. Alec’s mind flashed to an image of Magnus in a large bed, covers rucked around his waist, and had to press the heel of his hand to his dick to stop it from getting ideas.
“Oh,” was all he managed, and Magnus chuckled.
“Sorry if that was weird.”
“No! Not, um, weird. Either the loving of sunrises or being in bed. You are where you are.”
“Indeed,” Magnus sounded amused. “I wanted to thank you for yesterday. It was truly a wonderful experience. It made me wish I had a birthday every day this year so I could have a different cake every day.”
Alec beamed. “Thanks! It was my pleasure, honestly. Figuring out what people like and want, what mood the occasion is going to be, the kind of person they are and how they like to eat is all part of making something perfect for you.”
“And you love it?”
“Well, that part involves talking to people so no, I normally hate it and prefer the actual baking, because flour doesn’t stare at me.”
Magnus barked a laugh and Alec could hear a rustle of fabric in the background.
“Is that why you went into baking then? So you could ignore people?”
Alec rubbed the back of his neck and perched on Izzy’s desk.
“No, I ignored people when I cooked ‘normal food’ as well.”
Magnus chuckled again and Alec basked in the sound.
“I just, um. I never really got the hang of that, you know? Other people seemed to really enjoy the process of cooking – the rough pour, the dash of this and that. Baking is a science – there’s a preciseness to it that I find appealing. Like I can crack the formula and then I know how it’s going to be. I guess I just don’t like surprises.”
“Huh. So you wouldn’t call yourself an artist?” Magnus teased.
“God no. It’s about chemistry.”
“Most things in life are, darling.”
Alec blushed at the endearment, even if it was casually given.
“I’d never bake as well as you do, or how Simon does, for that matter. I’d want to tweak the recipe and throw things in at the last minute and then it wouldn’t rise properly.”
“You can do that, you just have to then alter the rest of the recipe. I do a lot of test batches when I want to change something. I like to experiment. I could never get the hang of your type of cooking – the fresh-that-day-from-the-market ideas – and how you seem to wing it. It’s sorcery, I swear.”
Magnus hummed again, sounding pleased. “I like the idea of being magical in the kitchen.”
“Bet it’s not just the kitchen,” Alec said before he could think about it, and then slapped a hand over his mouth, looking horrified at himself.
Magnus burst out laughing, drowning out Alec’s stammers of apologies.
“Oh, Alexander. Brains, beauty, bravery – and a flavor palette to die for. Is there anything wrong with you?”
“A lot of things, according to my parents.”
“Ignore them. You’re wonderful. And you’re free of them now.” There was a sharpness to Magnus’ voice that Alec couldn’t parse.
“Well, you certainly cook with a freedom that doesn’t come naturally to me.”
“It’s the only place I feel truly free,” Magnus replied, humming a little. “There are times – well, all the time, really – that I feel trapped in my personal life.”
Alec was silent. He didn’t know what to say to that. He thought it was an allusion to Camille, and he wasn’t going to touch that topic.
“Anyway, I didn’t call you to talk about my issues or cowardice, despite how freakishly easy you are to talk to.”
“Was there something you forgot yesterday?” Alec reached over to grab a pen, shoving it in his mouth and dug in his pocket for his notebook.
“No, nothing like that. I wanted to know – well, wanted to invite you, really - to come eat at Pandemonium.”
“…Seriously?” Alec let the pen fall from his mouth back onto the deck as he looked around wildly as if seeking confirmation from thin air.
“Yes. I saved a table for you tomorrow night, actually. I thought you could bring your sister or Clary or someone.”
“Seriously?” Alec squeaked and then cleared his throat as Magnus laughed again, gently this time.
“Yes. On the house, as my thank you. Table’s for ten – I thought you could meet the team afterwards, take a tour of the kitchen.”
“I’d love that,” Alec said firmly, clutching the phone harder as if it, and the offer of a free meal at Pandemonium, could be taken away at any moment.
“Good,” Magnus said, sounding delighted. “I apologize if it’s forward of me, but I’ve wanted to meet you for a very long time and I -”
“Meet me? Magnus, you’re the legend.”
“We went through this yesterday, Alexander. You intrigue me. I’ve met your parents. I don’t know how hard it must have been to leave the family business and strike out on your own, but it’s something that took enormous strength of character. I’ve wanted to get to know you since then.”
Alec realized he was gaping like a fish and shut his mouth, swallowing.
“Uh, thank you. You’ll, um. Get to know that it was mostly stubbornness and a lot of singing along to Diana Ross. Badly.”
Magnus laughed again. “I’ll look forward to that. Anyway, I should sleep now. But I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yes, for sure. Thank you, that’s incredibly generous.”
“Mmmm.” Magnus sounded dismissive, like it was nothing. “Goodnight, Alexander.”
“Bye,” Alec grinned, and then opened his mouth again.
“You deserve to be happy. Even if it feels new, or frightening. You’re a good person, and I think you’re braver than you give yourself credit for.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line, and then Magnus said softly, “Thank you, Alexander. That means a lot to me.”
Alec wrinkled his nose, feeling awkward. He hadn’t meant to blurt that out, but he couldn’t let Magnus go to sleep without knowing how awesome he was. The least Alec could be was a friend.
“See you tomorrow, Alexander.” And then he hung up.
Alec stared at the phone for a while, blinking at it while he replayed the conversation. Fuck. Fuck. He was going to see Magnus again. Magnus wasn’t very happy. Magnus thought he was some kind of hero for getting drunk and singing along to ‘I’m Coming Out’ a little too loudly so his parents couldn’t ignore him any longer.
Magnus felt trapped.
Alec had no idea what to do with that information. He had no idea what to do with any of it, really, but he knew he’d be thinking about it all day.
And he should probably bake something for Magnus to say thank you for the meal. A small smile began to spread across his face as he reached for his recipe folder. Something decadent and exotic but also portable. Maybe a batch of bite-size bakes. He grabbed the folder and went back to the kitchen to stir the muffins as he leafed through it, lost in the possibilities.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Alec shifted nervously from foot to foot while he waited for Jace at the corner by the Subway, clutching a Tupperware box. He was warm in his button down and leather jacket, but Izzy had made him promise to wear it, and while he had no idea if it looked good or not, Clary had sent him a list of emojis when he’d sent her a photo so he assumed he was ok.
He sighed with relief when he saw Jace emerge from the crowd of people.
“Hey. I thought you’d be late.”
“It’s fashionable, isn’t it?”
Not for Magnus Bane,” Alec said firmly and Jace grinned at him.
“You have it so bad, brother. Or rather, you want it so bad.”
Alec rolled his eyes and swiveled on his heel in the direction of the restaurant. “If you embarrass me tonight, I’ll never forgive you.”
“Hey, I’m a great wingman.” Jace looked affronted as he fell into step with Alec.
“There will be no wingmanning. He has a girlfriend.”
“And yet invited you for a free meal at his restaurant.”
“Because he’s being nice.”
“Uh huh.” Jace sounded skeptical.
“That’s it, I’m un-inviting you and calling Izzy.”
Jace smacked him in the arm with the back of his hand. “Too late, we’re here now.”
Alec came to a stop outside Pandemonium, underneath the intricately carved sign, and took a breath. He opened the door and walked in to a softly lit room with decadent velvet curtains hanging from the walls in artful drapes. A man with an unimpressed expression looked up from the front desk.
“Can I help you?”
“Um. There’s a table. I think. Under, um, Alec?”
The man’s expression didn’t change.
“Ah, Mr. Lightwood I presume. And guest.” He looked at Jace like he was something he’d scraped off his shoe and Jace raised his eyebrows at Alec.
“May I take your coats?” It sounded more like an order than a request and Alec complied without hesitation, still clutching his box of baked goods. The man’s mouth twitched when he saw it but he didn’t say anything about it.
He led them to a table tucked in at the corner of the front of the restaurant, away from the kitchen and the murmur of the rest of the restaurant. Alec appreciated it immediately. He handed Alec and Jace menus and a wine list, and left them alone.
“Wow, what crawled up his ass?” Jace asked in a murmur and Alec shushed him.
“I think that’s Magnus’ partner, Raphael. When Ragnor Fell died, he left this place to the both of them.”
“You would think owning an award-winning restaurant would put a smile on his face.”
Alec raised his eyes to the heavens and prayed for patience.
“He lost his father, Jace. Perhaps he’s reminded of that every day he works here?”
“Oh yeah.” Jace at least had the grace to look abashed. “Forgot about that.”
“Hi,” said a voice next to the table and Alec looked up at the young woman who’d appeared. Jace leaned back, clearly checking her out.
“I’m Maia and I’ll be your server for this evening. Magnus has told me to take good care of you.” She smiled at Alec and he couldn’t help smiling back.
“Oh really? Are you gonna take care of me too?” Jace leered and Alec kicked him.
“You’re already well looked after, you dick.”
“Relax, Alec.” Holy fuck, Maia knew his name. Magnus had told her his name, not just that he was some guest. He tried to stamp down on any butterflies making an appearance in his stomach.
“I got over any interest in frat-boy-types by the time I was sixteen.” She sneered at Jace with a raised eyebrow. “I’m much more interested in the beautiful sister Magnus told me about.”
Jace grinned good-naturedly and her mouth softened at the edges. Jace was hard to stay mad at when it was clear he was an overgrown toddler.
“I can give you her number,” he offered and she rolled her mouth, trying to fight back a smile.
“I’ll take that and a healthy tip,” she told him, then turned her attention back to Alec. “Now, you guys have menus, but.”
“But we’ll eat whatever the chef recommends,” Alec finished for her and she nodded in satisfaction.
“I like you already,” she told him and Alec flushed. “Any allergies or preferences?” Both Alec and Jace shook their heads.
“We’ll eat anything,” Jace told her with a wolfish smile and she rolled her eyes.
“I’m sure you would, you savage. Either of you driving?”
“Nope,” Alec told her. “But I’d go easy on the wine because…”
“… he’s a lightweight,” Jace finished with a smile at him.
Alec shrugged, not bothering to hide it. “Pretty much,” he agreed and handed the wine list back to Maia.
“Not a problem. We’ll do a streamlined wine pairing with your menu tonight. Get settled in gentlemen. I’ll be right back with drinks and your amuse-bouche, and if you crack any joke about that I will punch you.” She finished her sentence by glaring at Jace before turning on her heel and marching to the kitchen. Alec and Jace stared after her.
“I like her,” Alec said.
“So do I. Izzy would have her hands full.”
“It would be good for her to date someone who challenges her,” Alec said thoughtfully and Jace tipped his head to look at him.
“And what about you? Don’t you think it’s time you found someone who thinks you’re worth special treatment like this?”
Alec sighed. He’d known he wouldn’t be able to get away with not talking about his love life with Jace.
“Look, I like being alone. It’s why I bake, for god’s sake. I can be by my grumpy self with no one to answer to.”
“Alec, come on. You’ve dated before. You’ve just had bad luck.”
He snorted. “Sure, Jace, bad luck. C’mon, either I have terrible taste or I’m cursed. Because the only people I’m attracted to tend to already have partners, or they’re so far in the closet they live in Narnia.”
Jace laughed and leaned back as Maia set down two flat spoons before them. A waiter next to her started to pour two glasses of wine.
“Alright gentlemen, I’m starting you off with an ice-cold Riesling from Alsace to accompany your amuse-bouche of a white truffle crème brûlée with a basil coulis and topped with a parmesan crisp. Enjoy.” She flashed them a smile before departing, leaving them staring at their food.
“Holy shit,” Jace said, poking at the creamy, just-set concoction in front of him. “I think your new boyfriend is some kind of wizard. This looks amazing.”
“Smell it,” Alec hissed with his eyes closed, holding the spoon in front of his face. “It smells of that vacation we had in Tuscany when I was twelve. That’s amazing.”
“Nnnnngh,” Jace said around his mouthful of food. He stared off into the distance with a dreamy look on his face, jaw working as he chewed before he swallowed and looked sadly back at his empty spoon. “Awww, it’s gone.”
Alec laughed and ate his own before Jace got any ideas. The deep flavor of truffle coated his mouth, followed by a sharp explosion of basil and lemon. When he bit down, the salty parmesan rounded out the dish. It was divine.
“That was insanely good,” he told Maia truthfully when she collected their dishes, and she laughed at him.
“Just wait. Sous-vide lobster with confit vegetables and beetroot puree is next.”
An hour and a half later, Alec was full. So full, he could have died right then and there and been happy with his last meal on earth. The food was different to The Circle, which had been very classical in its French tradition, with only a few hints of modernity. Pandemonium was a fusion of modern European dishes, based on the seasonal variations of mostly Southern European traditions, all blended with a unique twist that Magnus gave everything. Even the dessert had been intense: Bergamot parfait with an orange jelly and licorice cream; the flavors balancing each other beautifully so that the umami taste of the licorice countered the floral Bergamot and everything was enlivened by the citrus-freshness of the orange.
He hummed in contentment as he watched Jace belch quietly and run his finger through the cream on his plate.
“I’m about to enter a food coma. You can’t be mean to me; I genuinely don’t know if I’ll make it through.”
Alec snorted and took another sip of his dessert wine, feeling slightly floaty as the sugar and alcohol went to his head. A movement next to him caught his eye and he looked up, expecting Maia, but it was Magnus instead, looking at him with a raised eyebrow and a thin mouth.
“Alec,” he said, rather formally, and Alec frowned. He looked as handsome as he had two days before, even in his Chef Whites, but he didn’t seem as… open as Alec had been expecting.
“Magnus, that was truly amazing,” he said and lifted his glass in a toast to him, taking another sip to hide his confusion.
Magnus’ mouth pursed into a small smile. “I’m glad you and your date enjoyed it.”
Alec choked and spluttered wine over the table, his eyes widening as he shook his head vehemently.
“Oh, hell no, I’m his brother,” Jace said with a grimace, and watched as Alec, bright red, tried to mop up the wine with his napkin.
“Adopted,” he added, and Alec kicked him under the table.
“Oh!” Magnus said, sounding… relieved, for some reason, and then a genuine, wider smile crossed his face. Jace smiled back and Alec gave up trying to look in any way suave. He managed to inhale without causing himself an injury and blinked up at Magnus, whose face had softened.
“Stay for a digestif,” he said, placing a warm hand on Alec’s shoulder and squeezing. There was no way Alec was going to refuse. “Don’t mind the others, they’ll run the stragglers out of here and then I’ll bring you back to the kitchen.”
“Ok, thank you,” Alec said, only slightly higher-pitched than normal. When Magnus left, he fell forward and pressed his face to the tablecloth.
“Oh god,” he said, his voice muffled by high-quality linens.
“Ha!” Jace said triumphantly, reaching over to shove his shoulder. “I told you he was into you!”
“What the fuck, Jace.” He pushed himself up again and looked dejectedly at his brother. “There’s no way in hell he wants Awkward McAwkward of the clan Awkward over here.”
“Ok, one, you aren’t Scottish so that’s just weird. Two, he was jealous of me when he thought I was your date. He wants you, Alec.”
Alec squeezed his napkin in his hand. “I don’t… look, please don’t get my hopes up, Jace. Just don’t. Because I can’t handle my heart being crushed. I like him. I like him a lot. I think, if we were both single, that there could be something there. But he’s not single, Jace, and I can’t spend my time pining after someone who is settled down. If the only thing I can be is friends with Magnus, then that’s what I’m going to take.”
“Alright, buddy.” Jace looked skeptical but nodded. “No matter what, we’re here for you.”
Alec ended up sipping Amaretto at the small bar tucked away on the other side of the restaurant. Jace excused himself to go see Clary and to be honest, Alec was glad of the space to think. It was past midnight when a hand slid onto his shoulder and Magnus appeared again, this time clothed in a sheer shirt that left little enough to the imagination that Alec’s throat went dry.
“Hi,” Alec replied automatically, his voice cracking on that single syllable. “You look. Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed that was under your jacket earlier.”
Magnus laughed. It lit up his face and Alec smiled, turning on his stool to face him better.
“What can I say, I like surprises. Unlike you.” Alec smiled even wider, happy Magnus had remembered that. And that prompted him to remember something else.
“Oh!” He reached over and snagged his box. “I made these for you and the crew. Just to say thank you. It’s nothing amazing.”
Magnus tsked at him and greedily grabbed the box, cracking it open and then moaning when the smell of chocolate reached his nose.
“Oh my god, are these Bouchon?”
“Yeah. My own recipe, actually. If they are meant to be corks, I figured I should add a little booze to them. Kirsch cherry and chocolate Bouchon. I thought about making my favorite Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse Cake but didn’t want anyone with nut allergies to miss out.”
“Mmmmfffph,” Magnus replied, biting one in half and chewing with a half-lidded expression of ecstasy on his face. “Are you sure I can’t tempt you into employment here?”
Alec laughed, his cheeks burning, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Pretty sure.”
“I’ll have to find some other way to keep you then,” Magnus winked at him and held out his hand. “C’mon, I’ll take you to the kitchen.”
The kitchen porters were wiping down work surfaces, the dishwashers already hard at work, while a very good-looking man spoke to a group of staff all in Chef Whites. Raphael had his own meeting with the waitstaff around a table, and Maia winked at Alec as he passed them.
“Alec, this is my Sous Chef, Luke. Luke, this is Alexander Lightwood. He brought gifts.”
Luke held out a broad hand that matched his broad smile as the rest of the Chefs simultaneously said “ooooh” and clustered round the Tupperware box like it was a holy relic. Alec laughed and shook Luke’s hand.
“Sorry, they tend to forget they weren’t raised by wolves,” Luke said as he pushed some of them back and handed the Bouchon over.
“It’s wonderful to finally meet you. I used to eat at The Circle regularly but since you left, it hasn’t been the same.” Alec blushed, rubbing the back of his neck. He still wasn’t used to praise.
“The food tonight was on another level. There’s no way you don’t deserve that third star.”
“Thanks, man.” Luke gave him another huge grin. “We’re so glad you could make it. Magnus was nervous about feeding you.”
“Well, you’re making his birthday cake and he knows it’s going to be incredible. And he thinks you’re the greatest thing ever, you must know that. He talks about you all the time, even before he met you.”
Alec’s eyes must have become comically wide. “Wha. Noooooo. That’s not.” He waved Luke away as the man laughed warmly.
“Simon’s developed quite the complex.”
“Oh yeah!” Alec was relieved at the change of subject, feeling his cheeks heat up. “Simon’s here.” He looked around.
Magnus was halfway through his second Bouchon, nodding as a skinny guy with glasses spoke rapidly to him. He looked up and waved at Alec.
“Simon,” Alec said, tamping down a smile. He never wanted him to know it, but he’d grown quite fond of Simon when they’d both been at The Culinary Institute, even if Simon had been on his first program while Alec was completing his second. He didn’t see him much anymore but Simon was the one who had introduced Clary to everyone, so Alec was forever thankful.
Not that he’d tell either of them that.
“These are great!”
“Thanks Simon. Your dessert tonight was amazing.”
“Pfff, nothing like what you used to pull off at The Circle. Don’tcha miss all this? The hubbub and the pressure and the swearing?” Simon gestured expansively behind him and grinned madly, his glasses slightly askew.
Alec took a moment to relive his professional kitchen days. The noise and the pressure and the heat, swerving out of the way of stressed-out people, barking orders and having orders yelled at him.
“Nope, not really. Being my own boss is kinda the shit,” he told Simon with a smug smile.
“Don’t get any ideas, pastry minion,” Magnus told Simon, who opened his eyes wide as if to say ‘who, me?’.
Alec went round the kitchen complementing each of the chefs on the meal he’d had, always aware of Magnus’ presence as he made his own way around. He was gentle with some of the staff, Alec noticed, but gave a stern talking-to a grumpy man with a sour face. Most of the Chefs were cheerful, though, even after a grueling day and night of service. They clearly loved what they did and loved being at Pandemonium. It was a completely different atmosphere to The Circle, which had been elite and snooty, his parents never happy with anything.
“Come have a drink while they finish up,” Magnus suggested when he ended back with Luke and Alec, who had been catching up on the industry gossip. “Raphael will turf us out when he’s finished with front of house business.”
Alec nodded his goodbyes and joined Magnus back at the small bar, resting his forearms on the cold marble as Magnus mixed them both a drink. The noise of the kitchen receded behind the swinging doors and Alec realized with a twist of his stomach that they were alone for the first time. It was quiet except for the clink of ice cubes hitting glasses and Alec suddenly felt lost, like he didn’t know what to say.
“What are you making?” Alec asked to kill the silence, and Magnus looked up with a crooked smile.
“Sorry, I should have asked. Just your average Old Fashioned, except this is brown butter bourbon. Should be sweeter. It makes a good end-of-night drink.”
Alec hummed with interest and watched Magnus muddle the drink, watching his forearms flex as he worked.
Magnus glanced at him through his lashes with a sly smile. “So you don’t miss this at all? The late nights, the smell of oil and grease following you everywhere?”
Alec grinned. “You don’t smell of grease.”
Magnus sniffed haughtily. “Of course not. I washed.” Alec laughed.
“No, I don’t think I miss it. My job is a different kind of stressful, but it’s my stress, you know?”
“So tell me – what happened? How did you end up opening Heaven?” Magnus set the glass down in front of him and Alec took a sniff before trying a sip. It was sweet, bitter and fruity at the same time, and the bourbon burned his throat in a pleasing way. He tapped his glass to Magnus’ when he slid next to him and turned his body towards him, leaning against the bar.
“It’s a messy story,” Alec warned, but Magnus shrugged.
“I don’t mind messy,” he said and Alec blushed at the innuendo in his voice, relaxing. He trusted Magnus – he wasn’t sure why because he let few new people in. But Magnus was so open. There was a light to him that radiated outwards so that anyone caught in it felt bathed in his warmth.
“Um. Well, my parents kept wanting me to move up to Sous Chef. But I honestly had no interest and to my parents, that meant I was showing a ‘shocking lack of ambition’.” Alec used air quotes and rolled his eyes.
“The real problem came because I started dating someone. He wasn’t out, and I was – well, was fine with being out, even if it wasn’t common knowledge. My dad caught us one evening and about a week later, he told me I should think about following my boyfriend’s example and go back in the closet. My dad told me it was the ‘sensible’ business decision, but that was a lie. He didn’t want me to be me. So I left.”
Magnus put his hand over Alec’s and impulsively, Alec turned his hand so he could lace his fingers between Magnus’. His fingers were warm and dry and he squeezed Alec’s hand when he’d finished. Neither of them pulled away.
“And now you’re free,” Magnus said softly as he shifted closer, and Alec blinked at him, taking in his wide eyes, reflecting the gold of the lamps in the bar. “And your sister followed and somehow you gained a Clary.”
Alec nodded, licking his mouth, after he took another sip of his drink and watched as Magnus’ eyes fell to his lips before darting back. A steady buzz formed underneath his skin as he became aware of exactly how close they’d become, gravitating into each other’s space.
“My sister had already got her degree in hospitality management. She was the one who convinced me to open Heaven. And then… I got Clary.”
Magnus chuckled. “You make it sound like a disease. But it’s unusual, to say the least. Most bakeries have multiple bakers, not a baker and an ‘artistic director’ as you called her.”
“I’m colorblind,” Alec said bluntly, and watched surprise take over Magnus’ handsome features. “Reds and greens form a kind of brown mush to me.”
“Holy shit,” Magnus breathed, and then frowned. “You’re wearing green tonight, you know.” He reached out and stroked a finger over the collar of his shirt, the brief touch of his finger to Alec’s neck making him shiver and move even closer. Magnus’ eyes darkened.
“Izzy picked this out. She takes me shopping and I trust her judgement.”
“Oh, you mustn’t tell a fashionista like me things like that. I’ll just want to dress you, which is the opposite of what I’d normally want to do with someone as handsome as you.” Alec could feel the blush cross his face again.
“You get tremendous pleasure out of making me turn red, don’t you?” he told Magnus with no real heat.
“Yes,” Magnus grinned at him slyly. “But Alexander, this is awful, this means you’ve never seen your creations in their full glory.”
“Mine and Clary’s creations,” Alec said, shaking his head. “I don’t want the glory just for me. She means I get to have my dream business - my freedom - and I know that I can make things that she will decorate in the best of ways.”
Magnus just stared at him and then shook his head as if rousing himself. “I have no idea how you turned out so selfless, knowing your parents, but you are quite an astonishing creature, Alexander.”
“I’m really not,” Alec protested. “You’re the one with the rags to riches story. Literally.”
“Yes, thank god for Ragnor. I didn’t get the chance to leave; my step-father threw me out when my mother died. My freedom was forced on me, and it wasn’t pleasant. I was bussing tables when I met Ragnor and he took pity on me and took me in.”
“And then he taught you and left you Pandemonium.” Everyone knew Magnus’ story: how the immigrant kid had lived on the streets before becoming one of New York’s finest chefs.
Magnus smiled softly. “He did. I think he knew I’d pass on the favor he gave me.” At Alec’s quizzical expression, he continued in a low voice, looking bashful.
“Most of my staff have lost their families because of their sexuality or other choices. Ragnor gave me a home. I wanted to make sure that my home was also home for other people like me.”
Alec abandoned his drink and leaned in, their hands still clasped. He hadn’t known that, although now he thought about it, Maia was clearly interested in women and he knew Simon was pansexual. There was so much to Magnus, so much he wanted to discover. He felt awed by how generous he was.
“Magnus, that’s… amazing. I can’t tell you how important that is. You may have literally saved their lives.”
Magnus looked away and cleared his throat. “Yes, well.” He took a breath, his jaw tensing and turned back to Alec.
“My mother killed herself. My step-father told me it was my fault; that she was ashamed of having a ‘sissy-boy’ as a son. I’d discovered a love of make-up and clothes the year before, you see. We came over a few years before and America was much freer than I’d experienced.”
Alec inhaled sharply. He’d not known that, and he would put a lot of money on not many people knowing that either. Magnus’ trust warmed him and pulled somewhere deep in his chest. He couldn’t bear the look on Magnus’ face. He forgot their drinks, he forgot that they were standing in Magnus’ restaurant with his staff still in the kitchen. He forgot everything except the man in front of him. He reached out and cupped Magnus’ face, making sure Magnus was looking at him.
“That’s not true. Your step-dad must have been a monster to say those things. You’re beautiful, Magnus. Inside and out. Only someone with a beautiful soul can cook like that and be that kind to others. I think you’re the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.”
They were so close, Alec could feel Magnus’ breath caress his face with warm sweetness, saw how dilated his pupils were. He realized his thumb was caressing Magnus’ cheekbone but he couldn’t stop; didn’t want to stop. He watched Magnus’ expression change, so open, so hopeful. He smelled so good and his hair felt so soft against Alec’s fingers. There was nothing else in the world apart from them in that moment. Magnus’ eyelids fell to half-mast and he leaned forward so their lips were almost touching.
“Alexander,” he breathed and Alec closed his eyes -
“Ahem,” a voice said right next to them, and Alec sprang back, eyes flying open with a small gasp of surprise. Magnus looked as affected as he did, his cheeks coloring and his eyes dazed.
“We’re closing,” was all Raphael said with a disapproving look at Magnus, and then he turned on his heel and stalked out the front door.
“Yes, thank you Raphael,” Magnus said sarcastically and then looked at Alec again, pinking further. “I didn’t mean to keep you so late. You probably have to be up in four hours.”
Alec ran his hand through his hair and pushed his bottom lip through his teeth, his mind reeling. Like he was going to get any sleep after that. He’d almost kissed Magnus. He’d wanted to kiss Magnus. Magnus had wanted to kiss him.
But then he remembered that Magnus had a girlfriend, and it was as if a bucket of cold water had been thrown on him.
“Yeah,” he said shakily, leaning over to grab his coat where Raphael had thoughtfully placed it on the stool next to him. Magnus lightly grasped his hand as they walked outside and Raphael ignored them both to lock up, stalking off down the street without even saying goodbye.
“I guess, I’ll, um. See you around?”
“I hope so,” Magnus said, hesitating as if he was going to say something else. But he simply reached up with his free hand and fiddled with his ear cuff.
“And if I don’t, have a happy birthday.” Alec took a breath to steady himself, leaned forward and kissed Magnus on the cheek. Magnus looked surprised.
“Thank you,” he said softly, keeping their fingers clasped even as Alec pulled away.
“I have to go,” Alec told him, laughter edging his voice.
“You don’t need beauty sleep,” Magnus said, sounding serious, and then he sighed at himself. “Ok, go, go.”
Alec took one last look as their fingers drew apart, and turned to walk down the street, feeling the phantom grasp of Magnus’ hand still in his own, his skin hot as if his entire body was alight. There was no way he could be just friends with Magnus. He wanted everything. Everything he couldn’t have.
Alec spent the rest of the day in a daze, Clary shooting him worried looks when she thought he wasn’t looking. He got by on sugar and coffee, grunting at Clary when she spoke to him and simply ignoring customers and leaving them for her to deal with. Luckily it was a light day, no appointments and Alec could hide in the kitchen and just bake out his thoughts, channeling his confusion and frustration into a fresh batch of Fraisier slices, the complexity of Italian meringue pulling him out of his head, and a Cassata for Easter, pouring the rum into the ricotta mix by hand and being generous.
By the time he’d wiped everything down for closing, he felt better, even if he was no closer to understanding what to do. There was nothing he could do, really. Magnus wasn’t available. Even if Magnus had nearly kissed him.
“Alec?” Clary asked, breaking him out of his trance. Alec stopped staring at the counter and finished shutting the register.
“Coming, Fray,” he said.
“Are you going to spill what’s been eating you all day?” she asked and he groaned as he locked the door behind them.
“No,” he said shortly and sped off.
“Hey!” Clary shouted. “No fair using your long legs to get away from me!”
He threw a triumphant laugh over his shoulder and then saw her begin to run at him out of the corner of his eye.
“No no no oh shit,” he said and then let out a loud ‘ooof’ as she jumped on his back. “Fuck you Fray, you’re too old for piggyback rides.”
“You’re never too old for piggyback rides,” she told him as he grumpily hoisted her further up his back and held her legs. She pointed a finger up the street. “Now onwards, trusted steed!”
“Jesus, I feel like your dad,” he told her but did as he was told.
“C’mon, Alec. What happened last night? You’ve been moping all day and then sometimes you’ve seemed super happy while you daydreamed.”
“I’ll tell you when we get home.”
“Is it a wine evening?”
“Worse,” he said darkly. “We might need vodka.”
Once home, the girls allowed him to stretch out in their laps, Izzy stroking her fingers through Alec’s hair as he told them a shortened version of the evening. Jace was on shift so he played down his spitting wine over the table and skipped over Magnus’ story. But they both went silent when he told them how Raphael had interrupted them and then how Magnus hadn’t wanted to let him go.
“Wow,” Izzy said eventually, reaching over to pour herself another Gimlet. “He super wants you.”
“Yeah,” breathed Clary, her eyes wide and sympathetic. “Alec, what are you going to do?”
“What the hell can I do? He’s with Camille, hellbeast that she is. He’s been with her for seven years. I doubt he’s going to leave a long-term relationship just for me.”
“No, but he might leave it for him. She doesn’t treat him well, we all saw that. And even he said they’d been on and off. It’s not like he’s married to her.” Izzy nodded at Clary’s words.
“Alec, I think you have to make a stand. You have to fight for love, you know this.”
Alec spluttered. “Ok, we are jumping ahead of ourselves. He knows I’m interested. I’m not going to go and challenge her to a duel for his hand or anything.”
“No, but you can make it clear that he’s worth more. I mean, you should call him anyway to say thank you for last night.”
“That’s true,” Alec said slowly. “Shit, what’s the time?” He craned his head up to look at the clock. “Fuck, he’ll be too busy by now.”
Izzy shrugged. “So call him later.”
Both Izzy and Clary poked him in the stomach.
“Have a nap and then set an alarm. Alec, I’ve seen you go through a mildly healthy relationship with Steve – that went nowhere, a torrid relationship with cheating douchebag John - that went nowhere, and a horrific, closeted relationship with Raj. That also went nowhere. Maybe it’s time you had a good relationship with someone you could see yourself having a future with. Shared interests and all that.” Izzy’s voice was soft but firm and she sounded like a nice version of their mother. Alec was suddenly struck by how glad he was to have her with him, so he wriggled himself up and enveloped her in a huge hug.
“Love you Iz.”
“Awww,” said Clary. “I want in.” So Alec looped one arm around her and pulled her in too. He could always blame that on the Gimlets.
When his alarm went off at 11.45pm, he had no idea why the hell he’d set it. And then it came back to him. Magnus. He was going to call Magnus and thank him. He fumbled for his phone and stared at it, psyching himself up before punching in the number for Pandemonium. He could do this. Definitely could do this. It didn’t have to be anything huge, it was just a conversation. To say thank you and also that Magnus was wasting his life in an unhappy relationship and Alec was desperate to see him naked.
Or something along those lines.
Alec breathed in steadily three times and hit the green call button. It rang four times, his heartrate increasing with every ring, before Raphael answered.
“Pandemonium. We’re closed.”
Alec panicked. “Wait, it’s Alec. Um, sorry, it’s Alec Lightwood. From yesterday. I was hoping to speak to Magnus.”
There was a silence and then Raphael sighed.
“I’m only doing this because he’s unhappy,” he said and then there was a muffled shout of Magnus’ name.
“Ooookay,” Alec replied, confused as fuck. A few seconds later, a slightly breathless Magnus came on the line.
“Hi,” he said, and cleared his throat. “It’s me. Alec. I, um, wanted to thank you for last night.”
There was silence again, which made Alec squirm in his bed. Maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
“Hang on, give me your cell. It’s impossible to have any form of privacy here.” Alec couldn’t read the tone of Magnus’ voice, but he duly recited his number anyway.
“I’m going to leave in a few minutes. Are you ok to wait for me to call you? I’ll be as quick as I can.”
“Sure,” Alec replied, trying to sound casual and missing it by a mile. “Take your time.”
He could practically hear Magnus’ smile. “I won’t keep you waiting, angel.”
He let out a groan when Magnus hung up and collapsed back onto his pillows. Pet names and private calls. He was so, so fucked at this point.
Alec was still staring at the ceiling when his phone rang and he jumped, dropping it onto the covers so he had to scramble to pick it up.
“Hey,” he said and winced at how lame he sounded.
“Alexander,” Magnus practically crooned, and he’d never loved his name as much as when Magnus said it. “I didn’t think you’d speak to me after last night.”
“Wait, what? Why?” Alec sat bolt upright in his bed.
“Because I behaved unspeakably poorly towards you. I blurted out my most private of secrets to you, nearly kissed you and then never checked that you made it home safely. I must apologize. I’m normally a more cautious person.”
Alec swallowed. “You did nearly kiss me.” It came out more satisfied than he hoped. He could hear Magnus chuckle in response.
“That’s what you took away from my apology? Yes, I did. I won’t insult you by telling you I didn’t mean to, or that it was a moment of weakness. The bare truth of it is: I can’t stop thinking about you.”
Alec clenched the covers in his fist and had to fight to stop a smile from spreading across his face.
“Alexander?” came Magnus’ worried voice, and he realized he’d spent a little too long being silent.
“Raphael said you were unhappy,” he blurted and then smacked himself in the forehead.
“Did he,” Magnus said in a flat tone. “The little shit.”
Magnus was quiet, so all Alec could hear were the sounds of the city, faint and pulsing in the background.
“Camille came to Pandemonium once, just after Ragnor died. She ate her meal and then went home, and when I went over to hers after my evening, wanting to know what she thought, I found her in bed with her costar. That was the first time we split up.”
“Magnus.” Just his name was enough to convey the sympathy Alec felt. He’d been there. He knew how that hurt.
“She apologized, of course, and it’s never happened again. It was good, so very good for a number of years after that. She was so supportive of my hiring decisions and she looked for work in the city to be near me.” Alec doubted that was the end of the story. Magnus sounded too distanced from what he was saying for that, far too detached for there not to be a ‘but’ coming.
“She left again, over some nonsense about me not supporting her career enough, but we smoothed that over. But.” There it was.
“For the past few months, she’s been suggesting – well, slightly stronger than suggesting – that I hire a new Chef de Cuisine, so that I can accompany her to the various events she has to be seen at.”
Alec made a strangled noise and shook his head even though Magnus couldn’t see him. “But Magnus, you love Pandemonium. You put your heart in that food.”
“Yes,” Magnus said in a choked laugh, and Alec could hear the weariness in his voice, the sincerity of a man confused.
“You deserve to be happy, Magnus. I’m not – I’m not asking you to do anything, or promising anything, but I just want you to know. The amount of care and love you give – you deserve that too, you know. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
There was silence again, punctuated by the sound of a car honking and the giggles of passersby wherever Magnus was. Alec twisted the sheets around his fingers. When he spoke again, it was in almost a whisper so that Alec had to strain to hear it.
“Thank you, Alexander. You’ve unlocked something in me, something I haven’t felt in a long while.”
He didn’t know what to say to that. It seemed momentous that he could have that effect on anyone, let alone someone as vibrant as Magnus. It didn’t seem possible.
“But you must be needing to sleep. You didn’t have to call to thank me, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to apologize. I hope if nothing else you would consider me a friend.”
Alec swallowed down his disappointment at the reversion to such a cheerfully formal tone. “Of course I do, Magnus.”
“And now I have your number. Prepare for pictures of my cat at inappropriate times.”
He laughed, the pressure in his chest easing. “I will look forward to that. What’s its name?”
“Chairman Meow. I might even get him wearing a little birthday outfit for my party.”
“Definitely send me a picture of that. I should go. Thank you again, for the meal. And your company. I enjoyed every second of both.”
There was a soft intake of breath at the other end of the line, so quiet he might have imagined it.
“Me too. Goodnight, Alexander.”
Alec stared at his phone for a few minutes after Magnus hung up, trying to wrap his head around what Magnus said. He didn’t think Magnus was being purposefully confusing, nor did he feel lead on in any way. What he mostly felt was a gut-churning desire to have Magnus sound as open and happy as he had at Pandemonium, rather than closed and defeated as he did when he spoke about his relationship. But he couldn’t make that decision for him. He’d clearly had good times with Camille, times that could outweigh any hurt he was currently feeling. But Alec couldn’t stop the nagging feeling that Magnus deserved more, he just didn’t believe it yet. The thought kept him up for longer than it should.
Disturbed sleep once again meant that Alec felt like a zombie the next day, surviving on coffee after coffee. He’d given the bare bones of the conversation to Izzy and Clary when they’d come in, and their sympathy had reminded him he had his family in his corner, no matter what. So on balance he was a little more cheerful this time though, and even smiled at a customer. He was even contemplating whipping up an afternoon apple and pear Streusel when the phone rang. He half-expected it to be Magnus again, but Izzy beat him to it.
“Hi Camille,” she said and looked up at Alec with wide eyes before turning back into the office sharply. Clary snapped her head up and frowned, then came to join Izzy in the office with a pad and pen ready. “Lovely to hear from you. Oh, you have? That’s great! I’ve got Clary next to me.”
Alec loitered outside and watched as Clary started scribbling while Izzy made agreeing noises. “Uh huh. Uh huh. Sure, that sounds great. Yes, of course. We’ll deliver by 7pm, just keep it in a cool place, no need to refrigerate. We’ll include the invoice, don’t you worry. Lovely! Hope to see you soon. You too. Bye!”
She clicked the phone off and took a breath, then turned to face Alec.
“She’s decided,” Izzy said briskly. “Chocolate and espresso. Maybe some kind of whisky filling. Dark and moody design.”
“Really?” Alec blurted out before his brain stopped his mouth. “I don’t know if that’s the right combination for him.”
“Apparently it’s her favorite, which means it’s Magnus’ favorite as ‘he always loves what I love’.” Izzy’s air quotes were terrifyingly sharp. “It’s like she doesn’t even see him as an independent person anymore, just a boyfriend. I mean, I could get my notes, but I don’t think Magnus ever mentioned liking coffee as a flavor.”
“Alec?” Clary asked, her eyes huge in her elfin face. “What are we going to do?”
Alec’s mind whirled. Camille was paying, and it wasn’t like it was a terrible sounding cake. Magnus might even like it. But Magnus should get a cake that was for him, and only for him. Flavors that made him smile. A design that told him someone had listened and seen the real him.
A cake that told him he was worthy of being loved.
He squared his shoulders. “We’re gonna make Magnus a cake that’s as magical as he is.”
Clary literally started bouncing and clapped her hands. “Yay! Imma get my sketchpad!”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, brother,” was all Izzy said as she returned to her office.
The party was on Sunday, because Pandemonium closed on Sundays and Mondays – but this meant Alec had maybe forty-eight hours to create the perfect cake. Shit. He and Clary were going to have to work through the nights to get this done.
“Are you ready for this, Fray?” he asked as she joined him.
“Alec, I told you. Let’s get your man.”
He grinned. This cake was going to be epic.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Magnus eyed the boxes as they were delivered. “I feel I should be able to see my own cake,” he protested as Simon whisked them away into the kitchen.
“No!” Simon yelled. “I had explicit instructions from Clary on how to display it. Now shoo. Go talk to your other friends.”
“When have I ever said you were my friend?” Magnus said with as much hauteur as he could manage before stalking off, trying to shake his curiosity away with another cocktail. He sidled up to Catarina and Raphael, who were rudely having a conversation about someone other than him.
“It’s my birthday,” he told them. “The least you could be doing is discussing how amazing I am.”
“Uh huh,” Catarina said, giving him a look. “Why don’t you pretend we’re doing that?”
“What are you actually talking about though?”
Raphael huffed a sigh and drained his drink. “Your girlfriend seems very at home.”
Magnus looked around to see Camille greeting people at the door, laughing and playing hostess. He turned back and shrugged. “It makes her happy. Few things seem to these days, so I might as well let her have something.”
Raphael said nothing, just looked at him. Magnus felt a flash of inexplicable anger.
“Use your words, Raphael.”
“And what has she done recently to make you happy?”
Magnus spluttered in his drink and brushed himself off, glaring at Raphael.
“Oh yes. You’ve been very gabby about this all of a sudden. Which is surprising given your usual communication form of grunting and silence.”
“Oooh, are we going to talk about Alec now?” Catarina waggled her eyebrows over the rim of her glass and Magnus widened his glare to include her.
“Both of you should have better things to do than discuss my love life.”
“So Alec is included in your love life then?” Catarina said slyly and Raphael raised a single, poised eyebrow.
He looked between them and then theatrically sagged into her.
“Cat, he’s wonderful. Tall, charming, disgustingly talented, horribly loyal without putting himself down, sensitive, handsome…”
“And perfect for you?” Cat finished, her voice full of mirth.
“So perfect,” he said, pouting. “He makes me feel things.”
Both Cat and Raphael looked down at his groin with slightly horrified expressions.
“Not in my pants,” he hissed. Well, slightly in his pants.
“I just like him,” he said haltingly. “I told him about my mother.” Both of them looked suitably shocked.
“I’d only met him last week. But there’s something about him that just makes me comfortable.”
“Yes, I saw how comfortable you were getting with him,” Raphael drily pointed out.
“When I talk to him it’s like the rest of the world stops,” Magnus said in a quiet voice and Cat made a small noise of sympathy.
“Oh, darling birthday boy, you have got it bad. Which would be great. Except you have a girlfriend.”
“Except for that,” he agreed despairingly. “I don’t know what to do.”
His friends looked at each other and then back at him.
Cat grabbed his chin and made him look at her, her voice soft. “Magnus, we love you. We support you. We don’t always agree with you, but we support you. But I think it’s about time you put yourself first.”
He frowned. He tried to avoid being selfish at all times. His step-father had called him selfish in that last year, and his mother had always locked herself in her room to cry when they fought about his clothes and who he hung out with. But Cat had a point.
He was about to reassure her when Simon’s voice bellowed from the kitchen.
“Cake time! Is everyone ready? Is Magnus out there ready to be wowed? Does everyone remember the words to Happy Birthday?”
Magnus rolled his eyes as he and the others made their way closer, away from the couches.
“Yes, Simon, all of those things.”
He looked over and caught Camille’s eye, who smiled at him and sashayed over to where they were waiting, all hovering outside the kitchen doors. She wrapped an arm around Magnus and pressed a kiss to his cheek and he felt guilt rise in his throat.
“I’m looking forward to this. Not everyone gets a cake from Heaven is a Taste on Earth.” A couple of Camille’s friends cooed in awe and she basked in their admiration before jerking her head round.
“That’s my phone. Where did I…” she pounced on her cell and snatched it up. “Shit, it’s my agent. Baby, you go ahead, I’ll just be a few minutes.” She waltzed out of the French doors and onto the balcony, already speaking.
Magnus avoided Raphael’s eyes and rubbed his hands together.
“Simon! Bring forth the cake!”
The small gathering burst into a fairly tuneful rendition of happy birthday and Magnus blew out the candles when Simon wheeled out the cake, and then Magnus stood back to take a proper look at it.
“Holy shit,” he breathed as he circled the cake, trying to take in everything at once. It was too much, the glowing colors, like a sunrise, distracting him from the details. He blinked, and tried to focus.
“Are those?” They were. Sugar Arabian jasmine and Moon Orchids cascading down one side of the cake, the edges hand-painted gold. The flowers of Indonesia. His mother had always tried to keep some in the house when they were in season. They were pinned in place on top of the cake by two filled-in stars and the outline of a third. Magnus smiled widely.
And then, as if they were emerging from the petals, gold figures made their way across the cake, forming tableaus. There was a mother and baby, a boat, a boy sat in front of the mirror and make-up on the dressing table, a figure in a sleeping bag, two men clasped in an intimate embrace, then a man and woman in a similar position, a home with a small figure with large hair and a taller, male figure, a man and a woman holding hands on a long thin carpet and then – Pandemonium, the kitchen and him cooking there, because of course the figure with the elaborate hairstyle was him, like that was his mother and Ragnor and the figure with the straight shoulders was Raphael and even Simon was on there, wild hair and hands waving.
Magnus wasn’t even aware he was crying until Catarina handed him a napkin and guided him into the kitchen, shooing everyone else out.
“Cat,” was all he said before he erupted into fresh tears.
“I know, Magnus. I know.” She soothed him, patting his shoulders as he slumped on hers, trying to get enough breath into his lungs.
“Ragnor would have wanted to be here to see how loved you are,” she told him, and he all but wailed. “He was so proud of you, Magnus. So proud of the man you became. He would have wanted nothing less than the world for you.”
He nodded, sniffling, and she pushed him back.
“Now blow your nose, you disgusting creature. I want to eat that cake.” Magnus gave her a watery smile and complied before edging back into his living room.
“How can I cut that cake? I’m going to ruin it!”
Simon appeared next to him.
“It’s ok, bossman. Clary said you could lever them off if you wanted to keep them. I took a ton of photos as well for you. Got every one of ‘em.”
“Could we do that?” Magnus wondered, feeling almost shy.
Cat nodded. “Of course we can. Luke! I need you!” With Luke’s help they pried off each scene, leaving an outline in the icing, and laid them out on paper towels in the kitchen.
“They’re pretty dry but I can set them further. If you wanna do something like frame them.” Magnus smiled at Simon for the offer, whispering his thanks. Up close, they were even more intricate, full of detail that must have come from somewhere. Camille, he realized. Of course. She must have given them a lot of stories and details to work with, maybe even photos. It was so thoughtful, like the old Camille had been. His heart lifted.
“Seriously, we have got to eat this thing,” Catarina called, and Magnus stuck his head out the door to find her and Raphael waiting patiently with paper plates ready. He laughed.
“Is Camille still outside? She really should be here. She commissioned the thing after all.”
Raphael peered over towards the balcony. “Looks like she’s having some form of argument.”
“Probably her agent,” Magnus said, a warm flash of worry in his chest. “I hope nothing bad’s happened.”
“We’d have heard the screams by now,” Raphael pointed out and thrust his plate in front of Magnus. “Cake time.”
“Alright, alright. Simon? Did Clary tell you about the cake?” Magnus got out his cake knife and started to cut slices carefully.
“What? Oh yeah. Hang on.” Simon took out his phone and pressed the screen, scrolling up. “Right, she said the lowest layer is pink champagne cake with strawberry jam and fresh strawberries with crème de cassis frosting.”
“Is Alec single?” Raphael inquired innocently and Magnus bumped him with his hip. It was a marvelously European concoction, one that Ragnor would have adored.
“Uh, the second layer. That’s vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom cake with orange chai frosting.”
Luke whistled. “Hot damn, that’s a good combination. Very fitting given your love of chai.”
“Well, Camille does know how much I love tea.” He ignored the look Catarina gave Luke.
“And the top, Clary said that it’s Italian lemon with passionfruit mousse filling and Mascarpone limoncello buttercream."
“So the top layer is just for me then,” Magnus said with a wide grin. He felt dizzy with joy. He was surrounded by those he loved most in the world, arguing over who got to eat more of the cake that his girlfriend had created with one of the best patisserie chefs of his generation, not to mention one of the nicest people Magnus had ever met. And one of the most beautiful. In fact, the only thing that could make this better would be for Alec and Clary to be here so Magnus could tell him – them – how much he appreciated the cake.
He’d just have to tell Camille tonight and then call the bakery tomorrow, he reasoned.
“I think maybe I was wrong,” he sat to Cat in a low murmur as he served her. Cat looked questioningly at him.
“Camille ordered this cake. It was her idea. I had no idea that she could be this thoughtful. I think maybe I have her all wrong. Maybe there’s a chance for us after all.” His heart was beating fast as he watched Camille pace on his balcony.
“Maybe,” Cat said, sounding doubtful. “I don’t know if just one cake makes up for everything else.”
“But it means she’s trying. And maybe this is her way of saying that she loves me, just as I am. Maybe it’s her way of saying sorry for trying to get me to leave Pandemonium.” She’d clearly put the time and effort into thinking of those tableaus, after all, he reasoned.
“Wouldn’t you rather she said sorry with actual words?”
Magnus whirled on Raphael. “Did I ask you, Mr. Grumpy?”
He put his hands up in surrender and Magnus backed down.
“Like we said, we’ll support you.” His tone was a tad too grim for Magnus’ liking, but he’d take what he could get.
Anyway, he saw Camille jab her phone off with a pointed nail and if he caught her before she got immersed in her friends again, he could thank her. She paused her purposeful march across the loft when she saw the cake, frowning, but shook it off when he approached her, her face morphing into something almost coy. She snagged his arm, beginning to talk in a soft cloying voice as she moved smoothly through the apartment again, pulling him with her towards the door.
“Magnus, I have to go. I’m so sorry baby, I know it’s your party. But my agent says… my role might be in jeopardy. The producer’s at some bar, hitting on women younger and prettier than me and I have to go remind him that I’m his star. You don’t mind, do you baby? All your little friends are here and they’ll keep you company.”
Magnus frowned, but he’d resolved to not be mad at Camille, not after everything she’d done for him and his birthday. Yeah, it felt shitty she was going to leave him to pander to some douchebag executive, but he was supportive of her job. Her career.
“If you’re sure you have to go…”
“I do.” She grabbed her coat as he nodded and trailed after her out to the hallway, stopping her with a hand on her arm.
“I just wanted to say thank you. For that cake. It means so much to me.”
“Oh my god, don’t remind me! I have to call those Lightwoods to give them a piece of my mind tomorrow. What the hell ever happened to the customer is always right? I mean, I’m glad you liked it, darling, but it wasn’t exactly what I asked for.”
Magnus froze. “What do you mean?” he croaked.
She stared at him, an impatient expression across her beautifully made-up face. She always looked impeccable, even though she smiled less now to ‘prevent wrinkles’. It made her seem older.
“I asked them to make a dark and moody cake. Chocolate and espresso, maybe some kind of bourbon cream. I told them I didn’t mind if they wanted to choose layers of different flavors but to keep it in the chocolate family. I know how much you like it.”
Magnus nodded absently, feeling like he’d been blindsided. He could barely take in the words she was saying.
“Coffee and chocolate. Your favorite.”
“Yeah. Just like yours.” She flashed a smile at him then, leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Snap out of it, sweetie. I’ve got to go.”
“It’s not my favorite,” he said, the words harsh and loud in the hallway. Camille blanched like he’d hit her.
“What? Of course it is. One of them anyway. You love what I love.”
Magnus shook his head. “No, Camille. I don’t. My favorite flavor is lemon. It always has been. But you didn’t know that.” He laughed, the sound clawing its way out of his throat. It tasted sour. “Or maybe you did, but you didn’t care.”
He stared at her, her pale face settling into a slightly mulish expression before morphing into a wide, beseeching one. He knew she was going to try to wheedle her way out of this conversation because she wanted to leave. Because he was always going to be an afterthought to her, he realized. The revelation, while new, didn’t feel bitter. It just settled on him like a heavy coat, stifling him around his shoulders.
“You didn’t tell Clary about any of those things that she made, did you?”
“What things? No, Magnus, I asked them to do something dark and moody because it’s you. You love kohl and dark colors and silk and velvet. I wanted decadent. They gave me the opposite of that.”
“They gave me a sunrise. It’s my favorite time of day. And they showed me my life and how rich and full it’s been already. It was beautiful, Camille, and you didn’t even look at it.” His voice cracked, his heart sinking.
“When did you stop seeing me?”
Camille was silent, and she bowed her head. When she looked back up, soft tears fell down her face and she looked five years younger.
“I don’t know, Magnus. We’ve been together for so long, and… I don’t know. We spend so much time apart, maybe I stopped looking.” She reached out and took his hand, stepping closer. He shifted back in response.
“I... I don’t think we can come back from this one, Camille. I’ll always love you – some part of me will – and I want you to be happy. But I need to be happy too. And you don’t make me happy, and I don’t think I make you happy anymore.” She opened her mouth as if to argue but he squeezed her hand.
“Don’t we both deserve better? To be free? To find people who truly see us?”
“It’s that boy, isn’t it?” she interrupted, the beginnings of a sharp smile crossing her face. “The baker, what was his name? Alec. The famous Alec Lightwood. You’ve had a thing for him for ages and then you met him and he was just as infatuated with you.”
“It won’t last,” she said knowingly. “You’ve had these dalliances before, based on puppy love. And you’ve always come back to me.”
“Not this time.” The finality in his voice shocked even him and her smile faded. “Our relationship is over. I’ll gather your things and leave them with the doorman.”
She looked affronted and snatched her hand back. “With the doorman?”
“Would you rather one of my friends?”
That earned him a full glare. “Is this because I’m leaving your party? Is this because of a cake?”
Magnus shook his head, looking her straight in the eye. “It’s because I’m not in love with you, Camille. I don’t like who I am when I’m with you. I don’t feel happy. And I deserve to.”
Camille’s face crumpled – but only for a moment. She took a couple of deep breaths, squared her shoulders and wiped under her eyes.
“You’re going to miss me,” she stated.
“Sometimes,” he agreed. “But I think less than I expect to.”
“You can always call me when you come to your senses.”
“I wouldn’t hold your breath.” She nodded at that, a genuine expression of hurt flitting across her features, and he felt a pang of pity.
Camille hesitated, then leaned in and kissed him. Her lips were soft and familiar, echoes of hurried morning kisses or slower midnight kisses in silk sheets, earlier laughing kisses on a fairground and kisses of forgiveness after fights. She smelled comfortingly like frangipani and vanilla and he recklessly wanted to bury himself in her hair and never let go; a mirage that he knew better than to give in to.
“I’ll get my things tomorrow.” She drew back and wiped his face with surprisingly gentle fingers. He hadn’t even known he was crying. “Pull yourself together before you go back in or they’ll think this is permanent.”
“You know it is, Camille.” It’s why he was mourning her; their relationship. This was goodbye.
He could tell that even she knew that, this time.
She didn’t say goodbye, just turned and left, smacking the elevator buttons. She didn’t even look back. Magnus wondered if it was because she was also crying, but with Camille, you could never be sure. He paused when he opened the door to go back in, and took a breath to compose himself. But when he stepped back in, one look from Cat and she knew.
“What happened?” she asked, crossing to him. Most of the Pandemonium gang trailed after her.
“Camille will be collecting her things tomorrow,” he said, his voice sounding distant to his own ears. “She didn’t ask for that cake. It had nothing to do with her. And she has to go see her producer.”
“Oh Magnus.” Several arms wrapped around him and he leaned into the group embrace. There was blessed silence for a few seconds.
“So… is it the right time to tell you that Alec and Clary worked without stopping this weekend?”
“God, Simon, don’t push it.”
“You know, Clary told me she just executed Alec’s vision on this one,” Simon continued, watching Magnus. His head jerked up in surprise. “She did the art, sure, but he knew what he wanted for you.”
Magnus tried very, very hard not to start crying again. He reached out and grabbed onto Cat’s hand.
“Cat. You know what this means.”
“It means there’s a very supportive, listening, tall and charming baker in Brooklyn who just showed you, in cakey glory, exactly how worthy you are of being loved.”
“I’m gonna get so fat,” Magnus breathed, a hopeful smile crossing his face.
Alec woke up with a start, his face smushed deep into his pillow. He blearily turned his phone off and sat up, dragging a hand over his face. He’d slept for ten hours, and he’d desperately needed it after finishing Magnus’ cake. It had taken him over thirty-six hours to make, figuring out each layer separately and working out the needed baking times. The lowest layer had been the hardest because of the alcohol in the actual cake. He’d gone through two sponges by the time he’d felt it was right. Clary had had to step in to help mix the cassis frosting while Alec barked orders at her. Thank god she understood how important this was to him and had been an absolute star the whole weekend.
Between them they’d figured out the flowers of Indonesia where Magnus was originally from, as well looked up all the articles on Magnus that had been written – and there had been a lot – to figure out significant events in his life that Clary could depict. She’d found pictures of Ragnor as well to help her out, and Alec had painstakingly described the kitchen at Pandemonium, sketching out the layout for her to copy. She’d done an amazing job with the sugar scenes, gilting them in gold leaf and making sure they could, if they needed to be, be removed so they wouldn’t be ruined by a cake knife. Alec didn’t know how sentimental Magnus could be, but he wanted to give him something he could keep if he wanted to.
Clary had described the colors of the cake as they both piped, and he was certain Magnus would appreciate his own personal sunrise. He’d watched Izzy and Clary load it delicately into the van and then just gone home, too tired to worry about what Magnus might think. What Camille might say.
Of course, in the morning, those thoughts plagued him. He worried through his shower, as he walked to Heaven, when he unlocked the door and got out the mornings’ dough. The familiar pattern of shaping the morning’s croissants, rolling them swiftly while the coffee machine hissed and spluttered soothed him and helped to take his mind off the fact that Camille was spiteful enough to ruin his bakery if she put her mind to it. He placed them in a proving drawer and moved on to knead a couple of sourdough loaves into their final shape, scoring them with a thick cross at the top. He’d spray them with water once in the oven to make sure they got the right depth of crust on them.
When Clary bounced through the doors, he had the croissants in the oven, the smell of butter and pastry filling the kitchen, and was on the second batch of muffins. In honor of Magnus he’d added Sicilian lemon muffins to the regular line up of blueberry, seeded berry and raspberry with white chocolate muffins. While he’d stood there, lost in the memory of how Magnus had lit up at the taste of lemon at that first meeting and had made a moaning noise that still made Alec blush, Clary had been talking to him at her usual pace of a mile a minute.
“Alec. Hey, earth to Alec!”
He snapped out of it and looked at her, blinking, then looked down at the lemon he was zesting.
“Sorry. Miles away.”
“Yeah, I got that.” She sounded amused and his blush spread.
“What is it, Fray? Did Simon call?” Alec knew Clary had given Simon explicit instructions for the cake and how to display it, and had also sent him a run-down of what was in the cakes to make sure no one ate anything they were allergic to.
“Nope. I’ve heard nothing Which is kinda weird, for Simon.” Clary sounded hesitant and Alec’s stomach turned. Clary was never hesitant.
“You think it’s a bad sign?”
“Well, I don’t think we’re getting paid for the cake, that’s for sure.”
Alec shrugged. He’d squared that risk with Izzy before he made the cake. It wasn’t what Camille ordered, and she was within her rights to decline payment. He couldn’t worry about that now.
Except, of course, he did. He worried when Izzy came in, singing out of tune as she did the monthly accounts in the office. He worried as the low hum of Clary’s conversation with customers flowed through the doors of the kitchen, and worried when he set down a new tray of brownies for the mid-morning crowd.
He worried enough that he thought he’d start the order of cupcakes for a girl’s birthday party earlier than planned. Piping calming roses onto fresh vanilla cupcakes could ease the soul of many a baker and Alec was no different. There was something to the steadiness of the grip he needed, the right pressure on the piping bag as he fed the icing through the nozzle, starting in the center and moving outwards. He didn’t notice when Clary shouted for Izzy to help her in the shop, or when Izzy let out a delighted gasp when she went through the doors. He was too busy making sure every rose was perfect across sixty cupcakes.
It meant he didn’t stop when the door to the kitchen flew open with a bang. Instead Alec held out a hand with one finger raised as he finished the outer petal of the final rose, setting the piping bag down and stretching his back as he stood up again, turning without rushing, expecting some Clary-fueled emergency. His eyes widened as he straightened up even more, swallowing loudly.
“Hi,” he said in an uncertain voice to Magnus, who was standing in his kitchen, looking at him with an intensity that raised the temperature by several degrees. He looked perfect; his hair swept up with streaks of silver through the front, layers of silver necklaces over a dark grey long sleeve top that had what Alec assumed were artfully distressed rips in it to show off his skin, smooth and glowing. He was beautiful and Alec wanted nothing more than to touch him.
He stayed where he was.
“You made my cake,” Magnus said after a moment, the low note of satisfaction making Alec’s fingers curl by his side.
“Yes?” He wanted to not sound bewildered but he really had no idea what was going on.
“No, I mean. You made it. Camille didn’t order that cake.”
Alec winced. “Um, yeah. Sorry about that. I guess she’s probably really mad. I just didn’t think... I don’t know what I was thinking. I can apologise to her, of course, and will make the cake she wanted free of charge-“
Magnus put two fingers up in the air in a deft gesture to stop Alec’s babbling.
“That’s not necessary, Alexander. Anyway, Camille and I aren’t dating anymore.” His eyes searched Alec’s face for some kind of reaction.
“You’re not?” Alec swallowed again, his palms sweaty. His heart raced in his chest, so loudly it almost drowned out Magnus’ words.
“No. No, I decided yesterday that perhaps I deserve more. Maybe I deserve someone who listens to me. Maybe I deserve someone who would ignore the terrible choices of a doomed relationship and make something that was perfect for me.”
Alec stared at him, his mouth opening and closing again. He probably looked like a dying fish.
“I,” he croaked; shook his head, began again. “I wanted you to know how amazing you are. To me. I mean, to lots of people, but. I’ve not known you long and you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”
Magnus nodded, his eyes begin to crinkle up at the corners as he took a couple of steps towards Alec’s motionless form.
“I’d quite like to deserve you, actually. And I think, perhaps, that I could work on making sure I was worthy of you. If you’re interested.”
Alec choked. “If. Oh my god. Magnus. If I’m interested?” Magnus was so close that Alec could feel the heat of his body. He curled his hand in a tighter grip around the edge of the cabinet he leaned against.
“I’ve wanted you since the first time I saw you. You had chocolate smeared across your bottom lip, and all I wanted to do was bite it to see if it tasted as lush as it looked.” Magnus cupped Alec’s face in one hand and grazed his thumb over Alec’s mouth as he had that first meeting, parting it gently, pressing into the fullness of his lower lip.
His eyes, dark and promising, flicked up to Alec’s and Alec was gone.
He reached out, slid one hand flat and solid around Magnus’ ribs and pulled him that last inch into his body, capturing the surprised noise Magnus made with his mouth. He cradled the nape of Magnus’ neck with his other hand as Magnus parted his lips and let Alec lick his way into the heat of his mouth. The answering slide of his tongue was a revelation that made Alec whimper, feeling it deep in his bones when Magnus pressed his body closer.
It still wasn’t close enough.
Without stopping kissing Magnus – at that point, Alec wasn’t sure he could stop - he grappled slightly with his body, smearing raspberry icing over Magnus’ top and on his skin through those artistic holes, but neither of them cared because Alec could finally get his hands on warm, bare skin and it was enough to make him shudder. He pulled away only for a moment to brace himself, caught Magnus’ wide-eyed and wondering stare before he literally hoisted Magnus into his arms, making him wrap his legs around his ass for balance and then settling Magnus on the kitchen counter.
Magnus looked slightly breathless, his mouth pinking. Alec crowded his way in between his legs and pulled him down by his shirt into another kiss and Magnus went willingly, laughing with delight into his mouth. He cupped Alec’s face as he pulled back enough to bite gently at his lower lip and Alec moaned, instinctively rocking his hips closer. He wanted more; to feel Magnus’ skin under his palms, to lay him bare and worship every inch of him, to discover how he sounded when all he could do was say Alec’s name.
“We should,” Magnus panted, breaking for air, so Alec took the opportunity to mouth at his throat. “While I love you manhandling me in your kitchen, darling, it’s probably unsanitary to take this further right here right now.”
Alec pulled back from where he’d been delicately biting the tendon at Magnus’ neck and looked around at his surroundings, blinking. Magnus looked wrecked, icing smeared over his top and there was a mark darkening underneath his ear. Thankfully Alec had avoided the cupcakes, so they were fine but needed to be boxed, but a few baking sheets had fallen off the counter which Alec hadn’t registered at all. Worse, the noise of that had clearly summoned Izzy and Clary, who were both peeking through the kitchen doors.
When Alec looked at them they both let out small whoops of joy, Clary giving him a thumbs up then giggling when he scowled and shooed them back into the shop with an annoyed hand gesture. He turned back to Magnus, who was twisting his fingers in Alec’s hair and smiling down at him.
“Can I take you home?” he blurted, and Magnus raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t you have a bakery to run?”
Alec shrugged. “I don’t think I’d be able to concentrate,” he said honestly, and helped Magnus to hop down off the counter, trying futilely to brush the icing off his chest. “Not with you here. You’re far too distracting.”
Magnus smiled, a wide, dizzying smile that rocked Alec back on his heels.
“I hope your home is close by. Otherwise we might have to use Isabelle’s office for non-business purposes.”
He wasn’t sure how he had enough blood free to blush, but he could feel his cheeks heat up.
“Will you come home with me?” he asked in a low voice, bringing one of Magnus’ hands up to his lips to kiss his knuckles softly, looking at Magnus from underneath his lashes. Magnus made a strangled noise and launched himself at Alec’s mouth, kissing him with a fervor that cemented Alec’s need to leave Heaven as soon as possible.
He tore his mouth away and yelled, “Fray!”
Magnus looked a little stunned by this. Her red head popped around the door, grinning cheekily.
“I’m taking the day. Go call Simon or someone to help prep for tomorrow. And Izzy can box those cupcakes.”
“Now you go get on it,” Izzy’s voice added from the direction of the shop and Magnus snickered. Alec elected to ignore both of them in favor of undoing his apron and throwing it at the wall hooks and simply dragging Magnus out passed both the girls and a couple of amused and gawking customers. Magnus followed him home, keeping up with his long legs, laughing quietly with joy the whole way.
Having Magnus in his home was a rush he wasn’t prepared for. He couldn’t stop staring at Magnus, reaching out with trembling fingers to touch his face, caressing his cheek, watching in awe when Magnus leaned into the touch. He couldn’t tear himself away from the heat and affection in Magnus’ gaze when he recounted what happened at his party, how Magnus held his hand the whole way through as if to reassure himself that Alec was there. And then he knew what Magnus tasted like, how he moaned when he was close, the trembling and awed way he said ‘Alexander’ in the aftermath, the heaviness of his satisfied limbs on Alec’s own.
The next day he woke up, got a grumbling Magnus out of bed and dragged him to watch the sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge, their hands linked and warmed by the coffee they brought with them. They kissed again with promises and parted, Magnus back to his own bed and Alec back to his bakery - and because he was a lucky man, he knew they would do it all over again, day after day, for as long as they could.
After all, they were a match made in Heaven.
This is probably the fluffiest thing I've written but I loved every second of it! Thanks so much for reading.
I'm mostly done in this universe but I am working on a smutty snippet to satisfy any cravings you might have after that last chapter :)