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It Had To Be You

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Moving out day in college – June 1985 University of Illinois

"Now, how do you know my sister, Isabelle, again?"

"Drama club and PRIDE, the alternative publication. You know... how the cool kids roll," quipped a velvety sounding voice, his face half hidden by a curtain of wavy, dark longish bangs.

Laughing quietly, the mysterious Asian guy lit a cigarette and took a few puffs as he leaned against the beater of a car next to them. A large hiking bag, similar to one used for backpacking travels, lay at his feet, along with a guitar case. A gorgeous, petite blonde girl was standing next to him, looking at him adoringly.  The guy's demeanor -- coupled with the black MC jacket and skinny jeans with holes at the knees and frayed hems tucked neatly into ankle high leather boots with metal studs -- made for a simmering, almost-dangerous vibe.

His hair was cut in the style of the late Jim Morrison of the Doors – and his face was wearing a similar pout.

In fact, between his posture and the simmering pout he wore with his intense smoldering brown almond  shaped eyes with gold glints in them – the suave Asian guy was breathtaking, just breathtaking.

The gaze unnerved Alec. It was as if the guy was looking directly into his soul. He smirked, as if aware of the effect he was having on Alec.

Also, Alec was trying not to cringe, or to say anything, about the guy leaning against his car.  It was old -- definitely a beater so he shouldn't care about things like that. Still though, it was his car, and there was something called being respectful of other people's things.

However, at that moment, he decided he could just let it go for now.

Alec quickly put on his best aloof look as to appear unaffected.  Do not react, Alec thought.  This guy wants you to react.

He eyed the stranger surreptitiously -- the person he had graciously volunteered, at Isabelle's request, to help drive back to New York, as the guy's car had been totaled a few months back.

"Uh, I'm not a fan of cigarettes in the car," Alec said bluntly. 

"Exactly why I'm having one now and not on the road," the guy said nonchalantly, taking another drag. Then he held out his hand.

"Magnus. Magnus Bane." The words rolled off the tongue like music floating on a breeze.

Alec looked at the hand, there were rings adorning three of those fingers, which were elegant and slim. He had never thought that rings would look good on a guy's hand.

Until now... but he was not about to admit to it.

And no, he was not going to admit that the voice sounded quite nice.  People just didn't think those things -- especially not men toward men, he could remember his father saying.

Alec took his hand and shook it. Nice firm grip, he thought. 

"Alec Lightwood," he said.

He eyed the blonde currently snuggling in the guy's arms. "Not fond of clingers either."

"She's not coming with us," he said easily.

The blonde looked up at the guy, pouting. "Aren't you going to miss me?" she asked in a kittenish voice.

The guy smiled, looking down at her. "Of course I will, shmoopie-kins. I love you," he said sweetly.

"Well I love you more," she said, melting into his arms.  He leaned in and they were suddenly kissing like the world would end in the next 10 minutes.

Alec rolled his eyes. "Uh, guys, I'm still here," he said, annoyed. 

Under his breath, he muttered audibly, "Ugh, heteros."

"Ah, excuse me?" The guy had stopped making out with the girl, and had given her a three fingered wave as she waved goodbye.  Alec found that the guy was looking at him intently.

 "Did you just say something?" Magnus asked, raking an eyebrow.

"Uh, no," Alec said quickly.  Ugh, he really needed to be better about doing that...

The guy laughed softly, again.  He flipped his hair out of his eyes, and suddenly Alec was staring into a pair of magnetic, soft brown eyes with a playful glint in them. Which belonged to who was probably one of the most beautiful men he had ever seen. 

"No, not hetero.  I'm bi -- the best of both worlds," he purred, throwing him a wink.

Alec suddenly felt flustered.

"Bi--?" He had not considered that.  Thus far, he had only known people to identify as either gay or straight. The latter of which he had been actively trying to be during these last four years...

"Yes, we relatively came into our own, recently," the guy said, shrugging.  "You know, labels and shit. Although come to think of it, I don't think we are completely represented yet, unlike the gay and lesbian communities. It will get there before long, I'm sure. Personally I don't care for labels though.  After all, we are who we are, right? So labels shouldn't really matter.  But it's rather cute to be tossed in a category I suppose..."

His tone was light, sarcastic edged with an underlying sense of knowing.

Alec just stared at him, almost feeling envious.  How it must feel to be that free, that confident, he thought.

"So anyway, do you want to drive first, or should I?" Magnus asked.

Alec narrowed his eyes. "Didn't you total your own car?" he asked. "I don't mind driving."

Magnus pressed his lips into a thin line, clearly upset.

"The other guy barreled into me!" he protested. "I am a good driver. Ask your sister, I've dropped her off plenty of times from drama club."

"Hm okay," Alec said, relenting. "Sorry about that."

The guy waved it off. "Already forgotten," he said smoothly. "So should we get going?" He picked up his hiking bag and his guitar case. 

"Ah sure," Alec said. "Give me a moment." 

Alec went around his car to open up the trunk.  There was plenty of room, especially after folding down the backseats.  Alec only had a large bag and a suitcase in the trunk.  He gestured for Magnus to hand over his bag and guitar.  Magnus stretched out the arm with the heavy bag, and Alec took it.  After putting that in the trunk, he turned again and held out his hand for the guitar.

Magnus pulled his arm back. "This is my baby," he said. "I'll put it in myself."

Alec shrugged. "Suit yourself. It wasn't like I was going to just throw it in, you know."

Magnus nodded. "I didn't think that at all," he replied smoothly.  He stepped forward, ducked into the trunk and gingerly placed the guitar case in between two bags so it was nestled closely between them. "That's so it doesn't get jostled around too much.  Can't be too cautious with an instrument, you know."

Alec nodded. "Understood," he said.

They both went around to the front and got into the car.  Alec was to drive first shift. 

"Got everything?" he asked. "I thought we would drive until dinner time, and then we would stop for a bite. How does that sound?"

"Sounds good," the guy replied. "Oh, wait, I should carry my personal things with me." The guy immediately slung himself in the space between both bucket seats, rummaging in his backpack.  “Now where’s my eyeliner,” he muttered. “And my wallet… didn’t I put those in the front of the bag… hmm.”

Alec turned to say something to Magnus, but came face to face with the firmest shaped ass – made even more sexy clad in dark jeans -- he had ever laid his eyes on.  What was even worse was that Magnus was shifting his weight back and forth as he searched for his items, making his ass wiggle a bit toward Alec’s face.

Well, hello, his brain registered.

Stop it! Alec thought, furrowing his brows and scowling.  He rolled his eyes.

“Shouldn’t you have taken those out earlier?” he asked curtly.

Magnus suddenly lifted his head from rummaging to look at him.

“Boy, are you always this annoying?” he huffed. “Sheesh, you are the most uptight guy I have ever met!  Insufferable!”

“You’re no picnic yourself,” Alec muttered. “So? Are you done? We need to get going soon, to keep time.”

“I’m done. Are you happy now?” Magnus scoffed. 

He bounced back into his bucket seat and put the seat belt over his shoulder, his wallet and eyeliner/shadow combo set in hand. Damn what was wrong with this Lightwood guy?  His sister Isabelle was so damn cool and laid back.  This guy, though… Boy, he could tell the next 19 hours were going to be fun…

“Quite,” Alec responded dryly.  He rolled his eyes as he started the engine. 

He prayed they wouldn’t end up killing each other before they got to New York. 

….

The sun was just starting to set over the horizon, turning the skies slightly pink and orange, when they pulled into the parking lot of the truck stop. It wasn’t a place that Alec would normally pull over at, but he had been driving for awhile now, and he was starting to get bleary-eyed.  Next to him, Magnus was sagging against him, nearly in his lap - to his extreme annoyance.  His eyes were closed, and  his mouth was half open as he snored. Alec frowned.

He’s sure a deep sleeper, Alec thought wryly.  A quarter mile earlier, he had been leaning against the window, slack-jawed and asleep. Then he had fallen in this direction and never moved again.  Dead to the freaking world…

He shoved at him lightly. “Magnus, Magnus. Wake up.  We are going to stop for a bit to eat.  Magnus,” he said, urging Magnus awake.

Magnus opened up his eyes, looking confused.  “What, wha? Oh, okay. Right,” he sputtered. Then he looked and realized where he was. He immediately shifted his body up and away from Alec. “Oh,” he said dumbly, “Sorry about that.” 

He swiped his arm quickly across his mouth, in case he had drooled during his sleep. Wow, he had not expected to knock out like that. But the passing scenery had been super boring, and he must have eventually drifted off…

“Shall we go?” Alec asked, starting to get out of the car. Magnus quickly followed suit, taking his motorcycle jacket out of the car and shrugging it off his shoulders.

They walked into the truck stop, where they were gestured to sit anywhere.  They settled into a booth and opened up their menus. 

One of the waiters came over after a few minutes.

“So, what will it be?” said the waiter.

“Hmm, I will have the Monte Cristo sandwich deluxe with a Coke,” Alec said, closing the menu.

“Ok,” the waiter said, scribbling furiously.

“And you?” The waiter turned to Magnus.

“I’ll take a bacon cheddar burger, medium rare,” Magnus said.  The waiter started to write his order down, and then Magnus put his hand on his forearm. Surprised, the waiter looked up at Magnus, who was now smiling sweetly at him.

“Please make sure it’s pink in the middle, close to red, or else I might send it back,” Magnus continued, looking at him from under his eyelashes. “Fries crispy at the edges. With gravy on the side please.  I’ll also have a chocolate milkshake, please. I know we will get our food exactly how we asked.  I bet you’re really good at giving orders to the line cooks…” 

Magnus smiled brightly at the waiter.

“S-Sure,” the waiter stuttered, blinking. There was an edge of pink across his cheeks.  He took both their menus. “Thank you.”

“No, thank you,” Magnus said magnanimously. 

Now the waiter’s flush had turned a deeper red. Muttering something, he walked away quickly.

Magnus turned to see Alec staring at him, slack-jawed but with a hint of annoyance in his face.

“What?” Magnus asked. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Alec rolled his eyes. “Seriously, did you have to do that?” he asked sardonically.

“What do you mean?” Magnus asked, confused.

“THAT,” Alec said, using his hands to describe what he just witnessed, complete with eyelash batting.

“I was only trying to get the order that I want. I hate overdone burgers,” Magnus explained.

Geez, why was this guy making it such a big deal? He liked things the way he liked things!  And hey, if flirting would help it along, then why not?

“Hmm, okay,” Alec muttered, sitting back and looking out at the parking lot.  Then he turned back and caught Magnus looking at him carefully.

“Um, yes?" Alec asked, questioningly.  He felt really self-conscious. This guy was nervy.  He had never met anyone who was this direct.  And it was making him feel on edge...

Magnus’s face broke into a small smile.

“You’re really good looking you know. I just noticed this by the way, not before,” Magnus stated, without any pretenses in his voice.

Suddenly, Alec felt super warm. “Uh, thanks?” he said slowly, not knowing how to react. 

He had been hit on during college but he generally hadn’t had the time to date. Nor was he completely comfortable with who he was, exactly. He had tried, and it was now better than it had been freshman year -- but it was still a process.

“Your personality certainly leaves much to be desired and it detracted from your looks,”  Magnus was saying. “But looks, you certainly have in abundance, Alexander.”

“It’s Alec,” Alec said automatically.

“Alexander suits you better,” Magnus said blithely.

Alec did a double take. “Wait -- did you just give me an backhanded compliment?” he sputtered. The nerve of this guy!

Magnus held up both hands. “Wow, talk about a delayed reaction! Hold on darling, don’t get your khakis into a bunch. I wasn’t asking you to sleep with me, I was just making an observation,” he said.

“W-What?” Alec asked again.  This guy!!

“Although I’m sure you would be decent in bed. And not that I would turn down the opportunity if it presented itself... You know what they say about the repressed ones…” Magnus mused, his thoughts now elsewhere.

His eyes lingered on Alec, starting to rove down his body.

Alec shuddered at the implication of it.

“i can't believe this,” Alec said indignantly. “Weren't you with that blonde before?"

Magnus shrugged. "We're no longer in the same area code, so..."

Alec just glared at him.

"Anyway -- no. Eww. None of that, you and me. There will  be no talk of sleeping or any type of activity like that.  Get your mind out of the gutter.”

“Aw, c'mon," Magnus teased.  "Where's your sense of adventure? I'm pretty fun, once you get to know me.  In all right ways.  Also, everyone is always checking each other out, especially if they are exceptionally attractive, I might add.  Anyway it would go double for me, need I remind you. Girls as well as guys.  I swing both ways. Bi, remember?” Magnus said.

“How could I forget?” Alec groaned.

Magnus hummed. "So, what about it, blue eyes?" he said in a sexy voice. "You... and me? Two gorgeous guys, it would be hot! Surely you're feeling it too..."

He clucked his tongue suggestively. 

“Didn't you hear what I said before?” Alec was aghast. This guy was so persistent!

Despite his annoyance, he couldn't help flushing. 

“No, no, no, no, and NO.  Friends.  That's it!” Alec insisted.

“Ah, friends,” Magnus said gallantly. “Why, of course.” 

Just then the same waiter came with their drinks.  Magnus threw the waiter a wink, causing the waiter to flush, yet again, and earning a huge eyeroll from Alec.

“Perfect timing,” Magnus said smoothly. He raised his milkshake toward Alec. “Ok then. Since you are being difficult right now, then I say let’s toast – to being friends." 

He then smiled a genuine smile, flashing Alec a set of very bright, white teeth.

Alec tried not to think about how nice that smile looked, or how it just made Magnus look even more gorgeous than before.  He raised his glass of Coke, clinking it against Magnus’s glass.

“Friends,” Alec echoed. 

….

The trip toward New York was not without banter, most of it argumentative. Magnus was very outspoken on things, especially when it came to gay and bisexual rights and representation, and some of it made Alec bristle inwardly.  Alec was more of an observer, and not as vocal, so a lot stemmed from that. 

He actually thought Magnus made a lot of good points, but he kept his mouth shut, due to his embarrassing lack of knowledge or insight on the subject. It was tough to contribute to the conversation when he himself was still trying to figure himself out.

But after awhile, Magnus just couldn't keep from spouting innuendo after innuendo, and he had started flirted shamelessly again.  

"Stop it," Alec grumbled.  Magnus just kept sticking his tongue out at him.  God he was insufferable with that!  He was just not going to let it rest.

"You know you love me already," Magnus teased.  Alec just sighed.

Before long, they were both standing right outside Alec’s car, parked along Bleecker Street right around New York University.  It seemed like a nice enough block, and it was interesting how Broadway was alll bustling, and busy but once you walked down 1-2 block it was these large apartment buildings, a small shopping complex, and then West Broadway, full of mom and pop shops adn boutiques, set in brownstones no more than 3 stories tall.  Magnus’s new apartment was just a few avenues away, but he was excited and wanted to take in the sights of his new neighborhood. So he asked Alec to drop him off a few blocks early, so he could walk the rest of the way.

"Anyway, so I guess we should exchange numbers, just for reference,” Alec said. "I mean, you do know Isabelle, so we will probably run into one another again, right?"

Oh? Magnus looked at Alec. Hmm he was a strange one. Unpredictable.

But okay…He took out a little notepad with a pen attached to it.

“You always carry that?” Alec asked curiously, as Magnus handed him both.

“I did write for the newsletter, remember?” Magnus reminded him.  “Can’t be too prepared in case there’s something worthy of a story.”

Alec nodded. “Makes sense,” he said, as he jotted down his digits. 

He passed the notebook back to Magnus. Magnus scribbled down his digits, ripped off the page, and handed it to Alec.  Their fingers brushed in passing, and Alec felt a semi-warm jolt through his system.  Huh? he thought.  

“Thanks,” he mumbled, suddenly looking anywhere but at Magnus.

If Magnus had realized how he had affected Alec, he did not make any sign that he was aware of it. “No problem, Alec,” he said pleasantly. “Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you. Don’t be a stranger.”

He stuck out his hand toward him.

Alec took his hand and shook it. “Yea, you too,” he said. 

Magnus gave a three fingered wave before walking further down, making a left at West Broadway.  Alec just looked after him, still bemused by the person who was Magnus Bane – with whom he had just shared a 19 hour car ride. 

And that’s that, he thought, shrugging as he got back into his car.  He needed to drive to Brooklyn, where his rental apartment was located.  Who knows if he would ever see Magnus Bane again.  But, yea he was sure interesting. 

Well, his brain thought wryly, Good thing that may be the last time you ever see him.  If he even had an inkling that he had affected you this much, you’d probably never hear the end of it.

Yup, Alec thought, answering his own question. He shook his head, turned on the ignition, and started driving toward Brooklyn.

As it was, both ended up way too busy with interviews, and then first job orientations to even think about a possible meetup. 

Then within a few months, there would be no conceivable way these two would ever have a planned meetup – Magnus ended up losing that little notebook with Alec’s number on it.

And Alec – well, Alec just plain lost that slip of paper with Magnus’s number on it somewhere in his new apartment.

Oh well, so much for that...

...or was it?