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Lonely Starbucks Lovers

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"Magnus!" He feels a sharp prod into his side. "Jace is coming this way – get ready!"

Magnus rolls his eyes as he glances Clary, his (favourite) employee and overall barista extraordinaire, as she smooths down her apron and fixes her ponytail from behind the register. Clary (affectionately nicknamed 'Biscuit' after a slightly horrifying, mostly hilarious incident involving her cellphone, a cookie butter bar, and a small child with light-up shoes) had been the first employee that Magnus hired two years ago when he got promoted to store manager at the Starbucks on the corner of 8th and West 23rd.

Magnus had been working at Starbucks for several years now, to the point where the coffee shop itself felt like home. He was grateful for the opportunity the company provided him to escape his past and allow him to stand on his own two feet; it was his first job, his first paycheck, and his first promotion. He loved working as a barista and sometimes still felt the surprise of how well-suited he was for the job – the ease he felt dealing with customers and his overall finesse with coffee and flavours – as if he was some sort of potion-brewing warlock-for-hire in a past life.

While more of a store manager's responsibilities nowadays entails the backroom financial, staffing, and reporting, Magnus isn’t below spending a significant amount of time on the floor – interacting with customers, preparing the drinks, and cleaning up after closing time – especially on days like today, when his location feels short-staffed and the morning rush is particularly busy.

Magnus jostles Clary back with his hip. "Biscuit, what exactly do you find so attractive about that sleazy Wall Street douchebag?" Jace is only ten feet from the counter and probably within earshot, but Magnus doesn't care.

“You do realize he doesn’t actually work on Wall Street, Magnus.”

“What I do realize, Clary my dear, is that you're refuting the 'Wall Street' part of my comment, but not the ‘douchebag’ part.”

Clary pushes his shoulder playfully and exclaims, "Shut up! Can you just start getting Jace's order prepped, hurry up!"

He sighs to himself as he resigns and goes to over to the beverage station to begin making Jace’s obnoxious drink. What happened to his sweet little Clary who would obediently take inventory and clean the bathroom at his command? Oh how she's grown – two years under his wing made her worryingly bold, and now she knew exactly what she could get away with, including sassing the store manager and openly flirting with a customer. Magnus thinks he's growing soft with his age.

Magnus completes the drink just as Taylor Swift's 'Blank Space' starts playing over the speakers and Jace is at the counter, tapping to pay. From Magnus’ deductions, Jace was some sort of corporate monkey who worked at one of the high-rise consulting offices nearby. Over the course of the past year, Jace had become a regular at Magnus’ location – although his visits had been increasingly frequent ever since he first set eyes on Clary, who charmed him into buying an extra bagel, toffeedoodle, and $100 in Starbucks giftcards on that first fateful meeting.

As Magnus walks back up to the register with the drink in hand, he hears Jace ranting to another suit-clad man in front of the counter, completely engrossed in their (one-sided) conversation, "…And you know what he ends up responding to my email with? 'Cool thx. Let’s go with #2 – Sent from my iPhone'. Sent from his fucking iPhone! The absolute nerve of this guy. I send him a beautifully crafted eight-paragraph email outlining why implementing a churn-based bonus system would be the worst possible idea if their ultimate goal is to maximize margins – I attached the results of the Monte Carlo and everything! But no, instead they go with the clearly inferior option–"

Magnus interrupts him in a deadpan voice. "Order for Jace. The regular – your caramel macchiato, venti, skim, extra shot, extra-hot, sugar-free, extra whip.” Magnus feels his skin crawl as he repeats each painfully specific component of the drink. He's always hated Jace's order. All frills and no substance… just like the man himself.

Jace finally stops his tirade to accept the drink. "Extra-hot, just the way I like it," he says, winking at Clary. She giggles while Magnus gags.

He needs to end this – not only for his sake, but for everyone else in line as well.

"Biscuit… I think it's best if you handle the bar area right now. I think I need to disinfect the countertops again for all the sick you two lovebirds leave behind." He spins Clary around and pushes her towards the beverage station. "I'll take over cash."

He then directs his attention towards Jace, simultaneously gesturing towards the waiting area. "And Jace, can you… just go. Over there. Please. This is just bad for business."

Jace shoots Magnus a dirty look after Clary excuses herself and walks away. He immediately turns to his colleague and says, pointing a thumb in Clary's direction. "I'll wait for you over there," before hurrying off, attempting to catch Clary's attention again.

Magnus presses his palms to his eyes and sighs. In his head, he’s still trying to pinpoint the exact moment in which Jace corrupted his best employee. The feeling of resignation further intensifies when he looks down and realizes that Clary even forgot to reset the register (Jace was officially the worst influence ever).

As he tears the receipt and throws it in the trash, he says to Jace's abandoned colleague, "And what can I get you?" He’s still looking down at the register, trying to ensure that everything has been cleared.

"Um… just a tall black Americano please."

Magnus distractedly punches in the order. "Name?"

"A."

Magnus is curious despite himself.

"Just 'A'?" When he finally looks up and sees the man's face for the first time, Magnus has to pick up his jaw from the floor.

There is a devastatingly handsome man gracing the other side of the counter, who's fiddling with his wallet. This man seems like he walked right out of Magnus' wet dream – tall and broad-shouldered, with tousled dark locks (Magnus has to push down the vision that immediately pops in his head of him running his hands through that hair and pulling). He's also left one of his top buttons open of his white dress shirt that exposes a teasing swatch of skin.

The whole outfit is encased in a dark navy tailored suit – oh Lilith, no one should look that good in a suit.

The man finally looks up from his wallet and sheepishly grins as he holds up a Starbucks giftcard, murmuring a soft "found it". Magnus maybe, possibly makes a little 'eep' noise at the back of his throat as they make eye contact for the first time and he is met with the clearest hazel eyes, eyes that make him feel like he's just hit the water after freefalling, submerged in twin galaxies of brown and green.

He watches in a daze as 'A' taps the giftcard on the machine (his hands, so big and strong, makes Magnus hot under the collar thing just thinking about what they could – scratch that – should be doing), before giving Magnus another shy smile that crinkles his eyes.

'A' then starts making his way towards the waiting counter, and Magnus can't help but lean over the counter and ogle the whole package – Magnus only realizes what he's doing about fifteen seconds later, when the next customer gives an awkward cough.

"One moment," he says to the next customer, as he pulls a tall cup from the stack. He pauses when he realizes that the man never ended up answering his question, that he didn't even get his name.

Smooth, Magnus, he thinks glumly to himself as he scrawls 'A' on the cup. Magnus can count on one hand the number of times he's been rendered speechless (he's usually the one making others speechless), so this encounter with Jace's extremely handsome colleague leaves him a little bewildered, yet extremely intrigued at the same time.

He stares at the dark 'A' for a moment and the ‘A’ mockingly stares back at him (Adrian? Alan? ), until an idea suddenly hits him. He immediately picks up the marker again – this time, to add a couple of embellishments.

He beams at his work before sliding the cup over to Clary's beverage station with a grin.

---

 

"So I received the sixth draft of the proposal from that intern with the weird haircut and the piercings – not hot nor professional honestly – and you know what I see? Alec, it was in Arial fucking Rounded Light with 1-point paragraph spacing. Isn't the first thing we teach them in orientation that our standard is Arial Light, 1.15 spacing? And then, oh man – this isn't even the half of it. The header colour, Alec. Don't even get me started about the colour. I sent her the Hex colour code last week, 6d9bc3, which is CLEARLY different from 6082b6 – one is obviously darker than the other, these interns just need to pay more attention to the details…" Jace drones on as he spins around in his chair.

Alec is sitting in front of his computer with his elbow resting on the desk. He gives Jace a side-eye, hiding a secret grin behind his hand, before he turns his attention back to his monitor. From the terrible coffee on the 27th floor to the headache-inducing clients to the lazy staff, there isn’t a single day that Jace isn’t complaining about something. At this point, Alec is used to it – he's known Jace since they were interns – he's so used to it in fact, that he's learned to drown Jace out.

"Then you know what comment she left in the 16th slide Alec?" Jace reaches for Alec's Starbucks cup. "It said I don't know with five question marks. She didn't even ask me anything, let alone tell me she left comments in the package. I nearly shit my pants! We almost sent this to the client Alec – can you imagine Victor's reaction if he received–" Jace suddenly pauses, then frowns. "Hey, did you pick up someone else's Starbucks order or something? This cup says 'Angel' and it's got winky faces all over it."

Alec turns to him, reaching for the cup. "No, I got my black Americano–" he starts, but then pauses as he spins the cup around.

On the side, Alec sees 'A-ngel' written in capital letters, bracketed by little angel wings on either side. A little tie is doodled directly under the word, surrounded by a cloud of winky faces and stars. Alec's eyes widen a little as he replays the morning, trying to pinpoint the source of the confusion. This definitely tasted like what he ordered – although, he admittedly was at a loss for words this morning when he caught a glimpse of the gorgeous barista who took his order. Alec had been transfixed by the way barista's tight black t-shirt was pulled taut over his chest, the way his fingers flew deftly over the keys over the register, and the way his hooded eyes – the colour of warm, sticky amber – stared back at him and made him feel something pool hot and low in his gut.

It was all too much – so much so that Alec had to divert all attention to his wallet to hide his embarrassment.

Jace interrupts his train of thought. "Hey, did you go straight from Starbucks to the client meeting with Blackthorn's CEO?"

Alec nearly falls out of his chair. His mind is reeling once again – is that why Arthur was giving him quizzical looks for the whole meeting? Arthur was a pretty smart guy (if not crazy sometimes), but he fundamentally understood asset utilization and the benefits of Six Sigma that he wouldn't be completely lost... Sweat starts to form on the back of Alec's neck. Was this side of the cup facing Arthur the whole fucking meeting?

Alec groans and stands up, offending cup in hand. "I need to get rid of this goddamn coffee, Jace."

He's practically running to the kitchen to dispose (recycle, Alec corrects himself. The firm was pushing a low-waste policy lately) of the cup properly.

When he finally reaches the kitchen and the garbage receptacle, he pauses for a moment before placing the offending cup on the counter. He peers around the corner to make sure no one is coming, then takes out his iPhone to snap a crooked picture of the little doodle, angel wings and all.

Alec's usually not on the receiving end of attention (it's usually Jace and Izzy who get the free drinks at the firm’s annual summer social), so he's a little confused about what this means. Was this flirting? Did Magnus like him? Should he consult Izzy? The last time he had to deal with problems of this magnitude and genre was when he was desperately fending off the unwanted advances of Jessica Hawkblue – and Izzy had taken care of it for him, with a couple of flirtatious smiles and a wink ("he's not the Lightwood that can show you the best time, beautiful"), that ended with the girls having a wild night at Pandemonium that Alec never got, nor wanted, the full details of.

But this was clearly different as, most importantly, Alec actually liked this guy. Alec had felt something unfurl in himself when he first caught sight of the barista at the counter, blooming in his chest, the way a morning glory comes to life under the morning sun. While doubt lingers in his mind why someone that stunning would ever be interested in average Alec Lightwood, the possibility that this could be the start of something overrides it – the doodle only furthering the evidence that maybe the barista felt that this could be something too.

Alec is hopeful. But still embarrassed. Before anyone else can come in, Alec quickly grabs the cup and chucks it into the bin.

He needed to have a word with hot barista tomorrow morning.

---

 

The next day, Jace and Alec are on their way to 8th and West 23rd to grab their morning coffees. (Alec acquiesces to Jace, telling him that yes, this Starbucks is better than the one on 8th and West 16th – he however, doesn't admit that he isn't talking about the coffee).

The line is unbearably long this particular morning, which gives Jace a five full minutes to yak Alec's ear off about something called 'queuing theory' and why single-file lines with self-service kiosks should be the way of the future.

"It's all about the serpentine lines and customer expectations, Alec – it’s almost a scientific fact that you should never pick the shortest line. Mathematicians have proven this shit! Also left lines. Left lines move faster, so always go left. I could do wonders for Starbucks' profitability if they would ever respond to my proposals. I've crunched the numbers in my downtime and I'd probably be able to raise their margins by at least another 2%..."

When Alec and Jace finally reach the register, Alec does not see the hot barista. Instead he is greeted by a somewhat mundane looking college student, who is fumbling with about three feet of loose receipt paper mummifying his arms. Alec and Jace stand in front of the cash for what feels like a solid minute as the barista struggles with the receipt machine.

He seems to panic when Jace gives a loud 'Harrumph', so he turns to them and says, "Hey ho gentlemen. If you could give me a few seconds just to fix–" he slams the top of the machine with an open palm, "–this damn machine..."

Scrunched up paper suddenly ejects out of the feeder.

"Ah-ha! I did it!" The barista raises his arms in victory, only to put them down in embarrassment when he realizes the whole line is staring at him. "Sorry about the hold up. Now, tell Uncle Simon exactly what you want to order."

Alec can tell that Jace is a little rattled by this barista, evident by the way Jace's eyebrows shoot up about two inches when he hears Uncle Simon, and his wide eyes and pursed lips. With apprehension, Jace rattles off his regular – caramel macchiato, venti, skim, extra shot, extra-hot, sugar-free, extra whip.

Alec immediately realizes that this is a terrible mistake.

"Wait sorry... can you repeat that? Venti... no whip?"

"Extra-whip."

"Did you say extra-shot twice? So like two shots?"

"Extra-shot, extra-hot," Jace nearly growls.

"And did you just say you wanted a sugar-free caramel macchiato? Isn't that... like an oxymoron?"

Seeing the commotion at the register, Clary can't help but come over to investigate. When she sees the suited pair, she immediately directs a big moony smile towards Jace. "Hey, how are you, handsome?"

Jace's face is the definition of relief when he sees Clary. "Clary! Please, please, please, please could you ring up my order? And make it as well? Please." He shoots another wary glance at the other barista.

"Of course! I've done this for almost a year now so I could probably make it in my sleep. And what can I get you..." She turns to Alec, her face drawing a blank for a second, before recognition hits her. Alec can practically see a lightbulb turn on above her head. Her expression turns mischievous as she says, "Oh, hey there… Angel." She gives a sly grin. "You looking for Magnus?"

Magnus. Hot barista's name is Magnus. Alec commits the name to memory as he asks, "Is he... in?" Alec knows he's not being subtle about his interests, but once he knows what he wants, Alec’s always been the type to do everything in his power to go and get it.

Clary's grin grows a little wider as she says, "Nope. He took a day off today to take his cat to the vet... he fed Chairman Meow way too much smoked salmon yesterday, and he got an upset stomach. The cat I mean. Ironic when you really think about it. But yeah, he should be in tomorrow –if you really want to meet up with Magnus sometime today though, I’m sure he’Il be… very accommodating to squeeze you into his schedule." She finishes her sentence off with a suggestive wiggle of her eyebrows.

Clary's insinuation causes a slight flush to creep out from under Alec's collar.

Jace looks between Clary and Alec, slowly gleaning the context of the conversation. He turns to Alec and says, "Wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me Magnus hit on you?"

"...I think so?" Alec hesitantly responds. He still isn't really sure about this whole flirting business.

"Oh, he definitely did," confirms Clary.

"Magnus Bane... has a heart?"

"Jace, be nice. Magnus always gives you extra whipped cream in your macchiato, he doesn't do that for everyone you know," Clary says as goes over to the register to punch in Jace's order.

"Anyways, I'd love to chat a bit longer but I really need to get back to my station – I have a line waiting. Angel," she looks expectantly at Alec, "you want a tall black Americano right?"

Alec is (slightly) impressed. He nods to Clary who then keys in his order at record speed. When Alec's order flashes on the screen, she turns to the other barista and says, "Simon, all you have to do is just push this button right here, and just wait for them to pay – the receipt will come right out. Give me a shout if you have any more issues – we really need to get this line moving!"

Simon gives her two thumbs up before she retreats back to the other counter full of jugs and syrup bottles.

He then proceeds to follow Clary's instructions to a T, and both Jace and Alec breathe a collective sigh of relief with the total amount owed finally flashes green in the register's display.

When Simon finally pushes the scanner towards Jace to pay, he eyes their suits and asks, curiosity clearly getting the better of him, "So...what exactly do you two do for a living anyways?"

"We're consultants." Alec says curtly. He feels a strong sense of dread when it comes to Simon – like he’s on the verge of losing either his brain cells or his temper. Alec is trying his damned hardest to keep this conversation to a minimum.

Jace however, is not one to shut up. He says somewhat proudly, "We're management consultants. You could say we’re the experts of all types of organizations, the ship that keeps the economy afloat and the weaver of business solutions. We're the reason why concepts such as 'performance improvement' and 'efficiency' exists."

"Oh so you guys are like... accountants right?" Alec can hear Jace start, "um, no", but he immediately gets steamrolled by Simon who continues, "I tried to study that in college! But I really didn't understand the whole idea of it you know? Like the concept of debits and credits confused the hell out of me – like don't debit and credit cards both draw your cash balance down? Why would you ever debt your cash balance–"

Alec feels a vein throb in his temple. Jace is clenching and unclenching his fists.

"–and when I was writing my exams, my balance sheet never balanced! Now when I think about it, why did I ever think that I could become an accountant? It did help me come up with a sick band name though – we're called the Going Concerns.”

Alec has had just about enough. He tells Simon that unfortunately, they are holding up the line ("Nah, no worries – I'm sure everyone doesn't mind."), he insists that they wait at the other end of the counter ("Are you sure? You don't want a blueberry scone or something? Those are the bomb."), no really, they needed to get going to catch a 9am meeting ("You still have thirty minutes!").

Alec and Jace scramble over in a rush towards the waiting area, as if they were being chased by a hoard of demons. They see their drinks prepared and they are just about to reach for them when they hear Simon yell from across the store, "Hey, you forgot your receipts!"

Alec and Jace share a brief look. They immediately grab their drinks and hightail it out of there.

---

 

Jace is busy the next morning ("someone's got to talk to Luke, Alec – he needs to tell his analysts that hard pasting numbers in the valuation model is completely unacceptable"), so Alec makes the walk over to Starbucks alone, heart filled with a heady, nervous anticipation to see Magnus there, to be greeted with those piercing eyes, warm smile, and perhaps spend a bit of time learning more about each other.

...Oh, and to get his coffee of course.

However, as soon as he reaches the Starbucks and sees Simon bopping around the register, that giddiness seeps out of him.

Alec spins on his heel and immediately gets the fuck out of there.

---

 

It’s Thursday and Magnus is back to the grind – coffee grind that is. It's just him and Simon this morning and, as expected, it isn’t the smoothest shift that Magnus has had in a while. As sweet as Simon is, he was still new and just inherently clumsy – he was great with customers but lacking in the skills and the overall hand-eye coordination to manage the beverage station by himself.

Magnus can't help but congratulate himself though, for having the good foresight to make it mandatory that either he, Clary, or Raphael were to be paired with Simon during the formative months of his employment.

All in all, it's been a long week and Magnus can't wait for it to end – the whole debacle with Chairman Meow and the amount of convincing it took to get Raph to come in on Wednesday (“A Simon shift? You owe me big time, Magnus.”) had left him drained and in desperate need for a pick-me-up. In fact, Magnus already knows exactly what that pick-me-up would be to make it all better – chatting up 'A' and finally getting his phone number.

So he’s a little crestfallen when he sees Jace in line, disappointingly alone.

“Hey Mr. Extra-whipped, where’s your better half?” Magnus says to Jace when he finally reaches the counter. Magnus already has Jace’s order ready, and hands it to him as he pulls out his phone to pay.

“Haha, you're a hoot, Magnus. I was even going to tell you I missed you after..." He comically widens his eyes and points to Simon, who is currently at the beverage station frothing milk. He takes the drink from Magnus as he continues, "Anyways, my 'better half' has a pretty important meeting this morning. We're in the process of implementing some cool data analytics shit at one of our clients, but let me tell you, you CANNOT leave clients alone with macro-enabled spreadsheets. The end result is going to be just a workbook of N/As and missing values–"

Magnus cuts him off, “Jace, I don't need to hear about your Excel problems – I have my own problems to deal with. Namely how I can get Angel out of his suit and get myself into his pants."

Jace scrunches his nose. "Oh man, you totally do have the hots for him."

"Jace, have you taken a proper look at your friend recently? Of course I have the hots for him." Magnus closes his eyes to relive the memory. "I mean, you could build a house on those shoulders and those legs go on for MILES... and don't get me started on his hands... I could talk for a year about all the things I'd let that man do to me with those hands."

Magnus then taps Jace's cup knowingly, "Also, he orders a tall black Americano, and everyone who works here knows what that means. A black Americano is the definition of tall, dark and handsome – a simple guy who knows what he wants. And more likely than not, fantastic in bed."

Jace isn't convinced. "Please, he doesn't even come close to that mysterious, brooding stereotype, Magnus. I've known him for years and he's a complete softie - he volunteers his Saturdays coaching Little League for a bunch of brats for heaven's sake – and I can read him like an open book." Jace pauses for a moment, before visibly overcome by a wave of nausea. "I mean... I wouldn't know anything about the last part, nor do I want to know."

Magnus can only say solemnly, "Well, there’s no accounting for taste. The drink never lies, Jace."

"So is this some sort of coffee Myers-Briggs test then? What does my drink say about me?"

"...You have to know what your drink says about you."

"That I'm sweet, fun, and complex?"

Magnus gives Jace an exasperated look. "Don't be cute. If you think that's what we baristas think about you, with an order that’s over twenty syllables long, you're sadly mistaken."

Jace's expression is defiant but Magnus continues, "As I said, the drink never lies. It can tell us a lot about the customer – and in 'A's and your case, I think your drinks come fairly close. 'Tall, dark, and handsome' and 'demanding, pretentious asshole’."

"Magnus, first let me clarify a couple things. Number one, I'm not 'demanding' – I can't help it if everyone around me just doesn't have common sense to do things right the first time, and are in constant need of my instruction and supervision."

"Jace, that is the definition of dema-"

"Hold on, let me finish. Number two, I'm not 'pretentious' – pretentious involves pretending to be impressive, and I already know I'm already impressive. Do you know who was responsible for the latest Hunter's Moon slogan and the newest stele stylus idea for the iPhone?" He points his thumbs towards himself. "This guy."

"And also, Magnus, why do you still call him 'A'? His name is–" Jace stops himself when he sees Magnus' eagerly expectant expression. "Wait... are you telling me you never got his name?"

Magnus doesn't give a response and instead, just glares at him.

Realizing he has the upper hand, Jace's face becomes more and more gleeful, escalating to a point where he rubs his hands together and lets out a maniacal cackle. "I finally hold all the cards, Bane."

"Jace, you must know how much effort it takes to make your drink. And I always give you free chocolate sprinkles all the time – I even give you an extra birthday drink! The least you can do for me is tell me his name." Magnus pauses for a moment before he quickly adds, "...And phone number."

"Who knows, Magnus. His name... could it be Alfred? Or Aaron? Alberto? Augustine?"

"I will tell Clary that you were the one who created the mess in the washroom last week if you don't give me his name. She was not happy having to clean that up."

Jace doesn't budge. "Abraham?"

"I know for a fact that his name isn't Abraham, Jace."

"Who even knows?" Jace pauses dramatically. "Oh that's right. Not you." He sniggers as he backs away from the counter, beckoning Magnus to come at him with the accompanying hand gestures.

"Jace, honest to god – I will spike your coffee next time with quadruple the number of espresso shots if you don't tell me-"

Jace is already out of earshot, walking away with a clear skip in his step.

Magnus was totally going to fuck up his drink the next time he came around.

---

 

When Friday finally arrives, Alec is feeling a little frustrated about the whole 'hot barista' situation. Alec is not one to believe in fate; he believes in everything his statistics degree had instilled within him, to believe in numbers and facts and correlations. But he can't help but feel that there is something different at work here, something magical that makes his heart grow a little bigger and beat a little faster when he thinks about Magnus. Or maybe it's just the caffeine, he chuckles to himself.

But still, Alec has always liked Fridays – the pace of the world felt slower and everyone felt a tad bit nicer – so he hopes that the good reputation of Friday translates to him bumping into Magnus again. When he tells Jace that he'll go pick up their coffees this morning alone, Jace's reaction is priceless, yet a little worrying.

"I'm begging you Alec, please don't tell Magnus your name. Maybe just give it a week or something? Please. I need this. I will be eternally grateful – I will take the Belcourt job off your hands. Hell, I'll even trade the weird haircut intern if you do this for me. Maybe... maybe I should just come with you? I'm sure I don't need to finish the slides for the Garroway account by 10am sharp, it's more of a soft deadline really."

With exasperated fondness, Alec has to explain to Jace that no, his intern was perfectly adequate thank you, and no, that 10am was definitely not a soft deadline, as he wriggles out of Jace's pleading grasp and escapes out of the building.

When he finally gets to Starbucks, Alec can see that the Friday charm is working – there's a minimal line that's inching forward at a reasonable place. However, when he gets to the counter, he doesn't see Magnus – instead, he sees a completely new barista whom he's never met before.

He has an austere look to him, but he gives Alec a brief smile when Alec reaches the front of the line.

"What can I get you this morning?"

Alec rattles off his and Jace's order (he congratulates himself for glancing at his Evernote app only once) and he can immediately tell that this barista has been working here for a while, based on the speed in which he processes everything, barely looking at the physical register. When Alec hands over his giftcard to pay and tells the barista that his name is 'A', the barista quirks an eyebrow.

"Ah. The elusive 'A'." The barista gives him an appraising look. "Well, Magnus definitely has a type-"

"Thank you, Raph, I think it would be for the best if I take it from here." The backroom door suddenly swings open with a whoosh as Magnus comes striding in, his mouth forming a tight smile. When Alec sees Magnus walk up, he’s hit once again by how good Magnus looks, the spark of attraction reigniting low in his belly. Magnus' apron is slung over his right shoulder, and Alec sees a cluster of silver necklaces that drape over his t-shirt which reads, 'the Going Concerns' in a curling font.

"I was just about to tell 'A' here about your propensity for dark haired and hazel-eyed boys." Raph's smirk is evident.

Magnus arches an eyebrow and says, "Well it’s only the one boy..." He looks directly at Alec as he says this, eyes smoldering.

Alec starts to feel like he's worn one too many layers.

"Hey Angel, long time no see." Magnus finally greets Alec, his expression still flirtatious. He follows up with a wave of his hand to Alec to follow him over to the waiting area. "I'll prepare your drink – tall black Americano right?"

Alec just nods. His nerves are getting the better of him, now that Magnus is here in the flesh. He feels like anything he says right now will tumble out of his mouth in a chaotic, incoherent mess.

As Alec walks over to the waiting area, he finally builds up the courage to blurt out, "How's your cat? Clary told us you had to take him to the vet."

Magnus chuckles fondly as he says, "Did Clary also tell you what a big fussy spoiled baby Chairman is? He honestly puts Jace to shame sometimes, with how picky he is with his food. And don't get me started on how he treats strangers... I don't think he's ever met a human he's liked. Besides me of course." Magnus is pouring a shot of dark espresso into a cup. "But thanks for asking though. Are you a cat person yourself?”

Words are flowing out of Alec's mouth before he can stop himself. "I do actually have a soft spot for cats – I adopted this kitten that we – Izzy, my sister, and me – found close to my place. We think she's a stray from that apartment building in the East Village that caught on fire a couple of months ago. A little calico." Alec hesitates before adding, "We named her Buttercup."

Alec has to backpedal a bit for how much information he's let out in those last couple of sentences. He's just revealed to pretty much a stranger that he owns a cat, he has a sister, as well as what neighbourhood he lives in. Alec's not one to easily provide any details about his personal life to anyone, but there is something so easy with Magnus, that he feels like he would probably spill all his life secrets in the next ten minutes if left uninterrupted.

Alec's also a little embarrassed to say his cat's name out loud, but Magnus' eyes are twinkling and he takes it in stride, "A knight in shining armour who saves kittens from fires? Who could ever resist you?" He then hands Alec a tall cup and says, "Here, your tall Americano."

Alec takes the cup from Magnus' hands, and their fingers brush. Alec has to suppress the shiver that begins at the point of contact and shoots down his spine.

Alec sees something scrawled on the side – when he further inspects the cup, he sees 'Adonis', followed by four trailing question marks. He looks up to see Magnus' wide grin. "Am I close?"

Alec can feel himself unintentionally smiling back, "What do you think?"

Magnus turns away from him, presumably to work on Jace's monster of a drink, as he says, "There are less fitting names. Like... Anthony," Magnus shoots a glance over his shoulder to see Alec's reaction.

Alec is still smiling as he shakes his head no. "Try again. Do you and Jace have a bet or something? He was begging me not to tell you my name before I left."

Magnus is at the espresso machine once again, twisting the lever. "Not a bet – just a deep, mutual understanding that we will tolerate each other at most, and nothing more. Do you see what he makes me do for him every morning?" He shrugs his arms, gesturing towards the machine in front of him.

"...I really don't know how this became him signature drink." Alec watches Magnus gracefully move away from the espresso machine to pour frothed milk into a venti cup. "At work, he's all about efficiency and perfect utilization. He once scolded an intern for booking a full 2 hours instead of the actual 1.4, when the poor guy was tasked with fixing the formatting on his fifty page memo."

Alec can almost hear Magnus rolling his eyes as he is moves the cup to the espresso machine, armed with a squeeze bottle of caramel-coloured syrup. "I, on the other hand, can fully see how this is Jace's signature drink. I'm also convinced he wanted to talk to Clary more at the beverage station, so he ended up making longer and longer.... modifications to his order every time he came back."

When Magnus finally turns around, there's a steaming cup of coffee in his hands, which he holds out to Alec. He says, "Ta-da. One venti caramel macchiato, skim, extra shot, extra-hot, sugar-free, extra whip."

Alec puts his free hand around Jace's caramel macchiato, but Magnus doesn't release his grip. "Ah, ah, ah – not so fast Angel. I demand a little extra payment for this one."

Alec hesitates a little, his hand faltering. "And what exactly does extra payment entail?"

"If I could get your name please, only then can I release this drink into the clutches of Jace Wayland."

"And betray Jace?"

"It's not a betrayal, darling. It's a trade," he waggles the cup gently, careful not to spill. "And he did sort of imply that your name was Abraham, so you don't owe him anything."

Alec frowns (what the fuck did Jace say to Magnus? Abraham?!). "No, definitely not Abraham. I'm Alec. Alexander."

Magnus finally releases his grip. "Alexander. How fitting – protector of both men and kittens it seems." He closes his eyes, as if deep in thought. "I was pretty close with Adonis don't you think – same Greek origins – Alexander is just a little more modernized."

When Magnus opens his eyes, and Alec is left paralyzed by the intensity of the sparkling amber irises looking back at him. "Can you wait for me till my break and we can talk a little more, Alexander?"

---

 

It was only twenty minutes ago that Alec, the darling that he is, insisted on waiting by the beverage station to keep Magnus company ("no one needs me in the next twenty minutes Magnus, I promise"). It was also only twenty minutes ago when Alec and Magnus had begun chatting up a storm, in which they talked about martial arts (something they’re both semi-proficient in), a little more about Jace (always a fun topic for Magnus), and the latest new sci-fi/fantasy series on Netflix that they've both coincidentally been watching (but have differing opinions on).

While Magnus notices that they do have some different lifestyle choices (he catches Alec wrinkle his nose when Magnus starts talking about his after-hour martinis – he changes the subject), there is something easy about the conversation, the way it ebbs and flows, that makes Magnus feel like he's known Alec for a long time.

Magnus is not blind to the palpable tension in the air – it fizzes and crackles as they hint at visiting each other's gyms, and laugh about Jace's obsession with Taylor Swift. It only builds and Magnus can sense it, the way that Alec stares at him a little too long, and the way he quirks a smile when Magnus mentions his guilty pleasure movie is Romeo + Juliet staring Leonardo DiCaprio.

And he can't help but reciprocate back – he knows he has a huge silly grin when Alec admits he owns the DVD box set of One Tree Hill, and he knows he is lingering a little too long when he touches Alec's arm.

It’s about twenty minutes later, when Magnus announces loudly to Raph that it is officially his break time, as he simultaneously gestures to Alec to follow him to the backroom with a wink and a crooked finger. He can feel Alec's heated gaze on his back as he walks – he can't help but show off a little, exaggerating the swing of his arms and the sway of his hips, his gait flaunting and confident. When he glances back, he can tell his efforts were not wasted – he sees Alec's eyes are burning as he wet his lips. Magnus quickens his pace over to the door.

As soon as Alec enters the backroom, Magnus is on him like a cat who's finally caught his long awaited prey, pushing Alec into a metal shelf of cardboard boxes as they frantically slam their mouths together. Magnus is immediately overwhelmed, lost in the flurry of sensations – the bruising kiss, desperate and full of heat; warm hands pulling him close; the feel of Alec's short stubble scraping almost painfully across his jaw. The flimsy shelf jostles dangerously behind them, but at this point, Magnus is more concerned about getting Alec's suit jacket off then potentially reorganizing the packets of dark roast that may hit the floor.

They separate briefly, just so Alec can shrug the jacket off his shoulders – Magnus at the same time is impatiently untucking Alec's white dress shirt out of his pants. "Magnus..." Alec moans when Magnus' hands finally find purchase on his skin, the cold metal of Magnus' rings making the muscles in his stomach quiver.

Alec goes in for another kiss, and Magnus easily submits to him, letting Alec's tongue slide into his mouth. He tastes like the black Americano that he'd been sipping as they talked – direct, bitter, and unapologetic – combined with the smell of his cologne – leather with a touch of something earthier – and it's so very Alexander that Magnus can't help but groan and press even closer, trying to sink into his skin.

Magnus slides one of his hands out from under Alec's shirt (the one that remains is sweeping over the planes of Alec's chest) to finally run a hand through Alec’s dark hair. At the same time, Magnus can also feel Alec's hands moving in their own path of exploration – caressing his face, moving down his back, and back up his sides – the action causes Magnus' shirt to rise up and expose his stomach. Magnus immediately takes advantage of the situation, shifting closer until their hips are flush, skin touching skin. The feeling is like a jolt of electricity – it shoots straight to Magnus' groin with such intensity that it makes his eyes roll back in his head.

Magnus knows Alec feels it too, the way he drinks in Magnus as if he were a man dying of thirst, the pressure and heat of the kiss increasing almost tenfold.

Alec has to pull away to breathe. When Magnus takes a better look at Alec, he sees that his pupils are blown and unfocused, his hair disheveled, his white dress shirt rumpled, and his suit jacket abandoned on the floor. Magnus can only stare proudly at his work. Alec is still looking at him, chest heaving, with an unfulfilled hunger that prompts Magnus to whisper, his voice hoarse, "Alexander darling, tell me what you want."

Alec immediately grasps for him to bring their bodies together again as he says, "You, just – give me all of you." He spins them around so that Magnus now has his back into the shelf, his hands pulling Magnus' hips in closer – they both groan in unison when they feel their arousals press together through their clothes.

Magnus starts grinding into Alec, rolling his hips as Alec nuzzles into Magnus' jaw, pressing hot kisses down his neck, which makes Magnus lose control of his entire body. The metal shelf behind them is rocking with a broken thud, thud, thud noise, in tandem with the uneven and frantic pace of their movements.

Magnus is incoherently whimpering, "more, need more – you're so good Alexander," as he reaches down with one hand to unbutton Alec's pants-

"Ahem."

Magnus snaps his head towards the backroom door and sees Raph standing there, arms crossed and clearly unimpressed about the whole situation. Alec immediately distances himself from Magnus, recoiling as if he'd been burnt.

Raph's expression is blank as he says, "Should I have brought some dollar bills from the register? I didn't realize our storage room turned into a strip club Fridays at 9am."

Magnus just wants to chuck a bag of coffee beans at Raphael's head.

"Get out of here Raph, the customers need you," Magnus whines, completely unabashed about the state of disarray his clothes and makeup are in. Raph's entrance however has the opposite effect on Alec, who Magnus sees is desperately trying to straighten his collar and tuck his shirt back into his pants, his cheeks flushed red in embarrassment.

"The customers need you too, Magnus. As much as I know that I'm a good barista, I can't manage both the bar and cash at the same time. Get your butt on the floor once you..." Raph waves his hands around, "...resolved all of this."

Raph is about to pull open the door when he pauses and says, "Also, don't forget to schedule an actual date. I don't want witness this..." he waves his hands around again, "...ever again." He finally exits, muttering something about unfair wages and unappreciated employees.

"So..." Alec starts. Magnus can see that Alec hasn't completely recovered from their previous activities despite his attempts to 'clean up' – his hair remains disheveled, and his shirt is in clear need of some ironing to hammer out the wrinkles.

"...I guess you have to get back to work?" As Alec says this, he closes the distance between them and is running his thumb down Magnus' cheek. Magnus can feel his breath hitch as the thumb strokes lower, down Magnus' neck.

"As much as I would love to continue," Magnus lightly captures Alec's wrist in with his fingers, but doesn't move away, "I shouldn't leave Raph alone out there, to deal with all our non-caffeinated customers all by his lonesome. Don't you have to get back to work too, Alexander?"

Alec checks the time on his watch on his other wrist, then grimaces. "Yeah, I should be heading back..." Alec makes no move to separate from Magnus, his thumb continuing to trace idle circles on the sensitive skin of Magnus' neck.

"Alexander..."

"Oops, sorry." Alec doesn't look the least bit sorry, biting his lip to hide a shy smile. "Let's take Raph's advice though? Are you free tonight?"

Alec is looking at Magnus from beneath his lashes, his expression anxious yet hopeful. Magnus suppresses the urge to rip Alec's clothes again, right then and there.

"Of course, Angel. It's a date."