coffee shop AU prompted by & dedicated to matthewdawddario (this is going to be multichaptered and some of u may be thinking “what the fuck happened to WWGFH???” I swear to god I’m working on an update, let me catch up on some headcanons/prompts first ok ily)
Summary: Alec was all too used to routine. It was easy. It was simple. It was wholeheartedly boring, but that’s who he was. It wasn’t who he wanted to be.
He thought that maybe this was all he’d ever be: A university student struggling to figure out what he was going to do with his life, with an unhealthy coffee addiction, and who was still striving towards accepting himself no matter the very vocal opinion that his father had voiced regarding his sexuality. Maybe he’d be stuck helplessly in the routine that shaped his entire life. He thought this was his forever.
That is until a newly hired barista, at his favourite coffee shop, enters his life, his golden name tag reading Magnus Bane.
Chapter 1: No Sugar
“Aren’t you suppose to be getting ready for school?”
“That’s the beauty of college, Iz.” Alec groaned into the pillow before flipping over sporadically, his messy hair sprawled against his forehead. “I can make my schedule however I want. Today’s the only day I could get off without fucking everything else up.”
It was the beginning of winter semester, and it was the first semester where he had been able to schedule a day where he could laze around, or inevitably use it to catch up in other classes. However, it was only the first week of classes and Alec was all caught up, hence the sleeping in. Or trying to.
“Have you told mom and dad yet?”
He sprung up. “Izzy.” He hissed. “What if they can hear you?”
“Relax.” She waved her arm dismissively. “They’re not home. Well dad’s never home, but mom left for work a few minutes ago.”
He shrunk back in his bed, his shoulders hanging, as if he was defeated. “No, I haven’t told them yet. How am I suppose to tell them anyways?” He flailed his arms hopelessly before bringing his hand to his ear, as if he was talking to his parents on the phone. “Mom? Dad? It’s me, your gay son. Oh and since I haven’t already disappointed you enough, I dropped out of law school and transferred into the Faculty of Arts. Yeah, and even though you want me to be a lawyer or a doctor, I’ve decided that I really like writing instead, so I think I’m going to stick with that.” He huffed, exasperated, his arms falling to his sides.
Isabelle moved forwards from the threshold of the door until she dipped onto the bed, sitting across from Alec. His legs were sprawled endlessly and he managed to tuck them into his chest, resting his chin on his knees.
“Izzy, you know they haven’t really accepted me being gay and I expected that. It’s okay but-”
“Alec, it’s not okay. You should be able to be who you want and do what you want without mom and dad going catatonic on you.”
“Dad is going to be furious when he finds out. Can I just-let me just hold it off for a while, until the whole being gay thing blows over.”
“Fine, you’re lucky I’m such an understanding sister.”
“Who’s being an understanding sister?” Jace’s voice popped up, causing the pair to look up at the doorway. In the threshold, Jace was leaning against the border nonchalantly, looking at his nails as if they were infinitely interesting. His skin was golden, contrasting greatly with Alec’s pale face, and when they introduced themselves as brother’s, they’d always get such confused glances that never failed to crack them up. They’d always need to tack on that Jace was adopted, but they’d been living together since Jace was ten and he was a part of the family, no matter the bloodline. Jace was clad in a simple white tee, that wrapped around his chest spectacularly. It was paired with dark, denim jeans and a pair of plain sneakers. He had an uncanny ability to dress in whatever and still look devilishly handsome, an ability of his that Alec had struggled with all through out his early teens. At one point Alec would have been gushing at Jace standing in his doorway. Except that point was eons ago and Jace had a girlfriend that he was infatuated with. It was kind of gross how gooey Jace’s eyes would get at the mere mention of the name Clary.
“Yeah that would be me.” Alec raised his hand sarcastically.
Jace smirked. “I always knew you were an Alexandra.”
“Never call me that ever again.” Alec muttered. “Don’t you two have school or something?”
Izzy rolled her eyes. “Yeah but Cinderella over here.” She looked pointedly at Jace. “Had to spend the last hour doing her hair. I swear to god Jace, if we’re late for school, I will take your intestines and tie them around you like a present.”
Both of the boys winced at the descriptive insult before Jace cleared his throat.
“I wouldn’t call myself Cinderella, she wasn’t narcissistic enough. I think I’d rather be that queen from Snow White.” He jeered.
Izzy smiled mischievously. “Okay if you get your ass in the car and get us to school on time, I won’t tell anyone about your extensive knowledge of Disney movies.”
Jace’s eyes widened comically. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Alright high school students, get out of my room and let me sleep.” Alec flopped back onto his pillow, tugging the blankets over his face as the two grumbled.
“Goodnight sleeping beauty.” Izzy teased.
Alec could hear the voices bantering in the hall before the door slammed shut, signalling the two had left. The car revved grandly, Jace was always bad with gas, especially when he didn’t have to pay for it, and Alec could hear the car swerve away. The house reigned in silence, almost deafening and Alec tried to forgot all of his stresses and instead succumb to the sweet state of unconsciousness. He flopped against the soft covers of his bed, his thoughts straining against his head, trying to escape.
He thought about his parents. His father mostly. He thought about when he came out to them. He had talked to Izzy and Jace about it months prior. Izzy had been the first he had ever told and when he told her, he automatically flinched back expecting the worst. Instead she had hugged him tightly and told him over and over again, how much she loved him. They talked for hours that night, about what Alec was afraid of. About their parents. About Jace.
“So, you’re not mad? For not telling you I mean?”
“I’m really proud that you told me at all.” Izzy paused. “Though that doesn’t mean I’m not a little disappointed that you thought I wouldn’t have accepted you. Alec, you know I wouldn’t care who you date, fuck, I’d probably die of shock if you brought someone home.”
“I’m sorry Iz, it’s just, so many terrible senarios of how people would react were constantly flying through my mind, that the possibility of you being okay with it just didn’t have enough room.”
She inhaled deeply, as if bracing herself. “You know Jace wouldn’t mind either. Don’t deny it Alec, I’ve seen how you look at him.”
Alec jolted up at the mention of Jace’s name, his posture becoming uncomfortably rigid. “I don’t look at him like anything.” He spat.
Isabelle flinched back, and Alec immediately felt a pang of guilt. He reached out to touch her hand before sighing softly.
“… Anymore. I don’t look at him like that anymore. Not since Clary.”
“He does get obnoxiously dopey eyed when he’s with her, doesn’t he?”
“He’s probably the straightest, most infatuated guy I know.” Alec smiled softly before he spoke again. “Was I that obvious?”
“No.” Izzy hummed. “I’m just observant, I’d like to think that I have the position of knowing you best.”
“Jace would disagree with you.”
Izzy’s train of thought veered, her concerns focussed elsewhere. “What about mom and dad?”
“Izzy.” Alec choked out. “I just-”
He could feel his anxiety unfurl in his stomach, making him feel like he could spew vomit across the bed, the plushy surface no longer feeling comfortable. It felt as if he had swallowed rocks, making it infinitely difficult to breathe. He hadn’t realized that he had started hyperventilating before he felt a cool palm pressed against his back, moving in soft, concentric circles.
“Alec, by the angel, please calm down.” She couldn’t keep the raw concern from her tone, the pity shaping around Alec’s lithe frame and grasping him tightly. She knew her brother had anxiety attacks, it was why she didn’t force him to come out with her anymore, but it had been so long since she had last seen one and she couldn’t help but feel like she was choking alongside him. She mentally cursed. Jace was always better at helping Alec calm down.
“So-orry.” The words was chopped and Alec inhaled sharply, running his hands against the fabric beside him roughly, the friction burning his palms. “Sorry. Sorry. I just-fuck Iz I’m terrified of telling them.”
She couldn’t promise him that everything would work out. She couldn’t say anything at all. She knew how their parents were, how their father was. It broke her heart at the mere thought of Alec being turned away because of his sexuality. Alec started to breathe normally, deeper and slower, and she wondered how often he had had one of these attacks alone. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, pulling him in close. At first he had resisted, before melting into the touch, exhaustion and desolation rolling off of his posture as he slouched into her.
It was while before she found the courage to mention their parents again.
He reminisced over Izzy’s reaction and how a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders that night. He thought about Jace. He remembered when Izzy had barged in after Jace and him had talked, and how she grinned brightly before giggling about some guy in a magazine. Jace had thrown his hands up teasingly and left the room, and Izzy had spiralled into a hurricane of her own laughter. It was so oddly normal, that a small smile floated onto his face at the memory. He supposed that their reactions were what gave him confidence to tell his parents. Their reactions wasn’t something that he liked to think about all that much.
He gripped the sheets tightly at the direction his thoughts were going, a dark place he liked to reserve for the nights, when the midnight sky matched the memory of his parent’s words. He could feel himself shaking with anger. With desolation. He shook as if he was made up of the sun and the stars and whatever else was stuck in the universe, all the planets colliding at once. Something that was uncontainable and unavoidable and would ultimately have him destroyed.
He needed to get out of the house.
He ended up walking towards the all too familiar coffee shop, one that was only a fifteen minute walk away. He stepped into the small shop, revelling in the soft aroma of coffees and pastries. He smiled at the distant memories when he would drag his siblings along, Izzy getting some sort of sugary monstrosity while Jace indulged in anything that was chocolate. The walls were scattered in random photos of New York, warm emeralds and sapphires painted across the areas that hadn’t been covered with images. The words ‘Impresso Espresso’ were drawn along the walls, as if reminding the costumers where they were. Not that it needed to, the place was hardly ever full, one of the reasons why Alec enjoyed it so much. It was small but cozy and Alec often found himself sitting in a corner, watching the people walk along the busy streets, so completely involved in their lives. It had become such a habit, his love for coffee becoming somewhat of an obsession, that the barista had always recognized him, talking briefly with him while whipping up his order. It was simple but it was sweet that she had taken the time to memorize it.
He walked to the till, so enthralled with his thoughts, that when he reached the counter, his gaze flitted up and his jaw dropped spectacularly.
Instead of being met with the women he was so familiar with, he was greeted with something infinitely better. A man, that looked around his age, was wiping the counter down, his sleeves folded up to his elbow. The barista’s eyelashes were fluttered downwards but when he heard Alec walk towards the counter, his gaze flitted upwards, green peeking between the lashes. The man had looked surprised for all of two seconds before he transformed completely. He straightened his posture, lips melting into a dazzling smile, displaying a perfect set of teeth. The most mesmerizing aspect of the man’s face, however, were his eyes. They were a deep emerald, with droplets of gold sprinkled sporadically, as if they were floating along a sea of green. Alec felt his throat go dry and his face heat up, momentarily forgetting why he was here in the first place.
The barista smiled charmingly, as he unabashedly slid his gaze up and down Alec’s figure. “And what can I get for you?” The man purred.
“Who are you?” Alec blurted out. He flushed, completely embarrassed, when Magnus quirked an eyebrow, the mannerism disrupting the flawless planes of his skin. The barista pointed towards his name tag, the bolded letters spelling out “Magnus Bane”. The words contrasted grandly with the tag, the metal looking like it had been dipped in gold, swallowing up the black letters before they unceremoniously floated up.
“I mean.” Alec coughed, his fingers tugging on the loose ends of his sweater. “Uh, where’s the girl? The uh, the one who’s normally here?”
“Quit.” Magnus shrugged. “Probably found something a little more satisfying that serving coffee, though it feels great to know that I’m wanted here.”
“I didn’t-I mean-”
“Relax, I’m just kidding.” He smiled reassuringly. “You’re not good with this sort of stuff are you?”
Alec nodded quickly before breaking out into a shy smile. “I’m a little better after I’ve had some caffeine in me. Though, not by much.”
He wasn’t sure what caused him to tease, he didn’t think he had a humorous bone in his body, at least not with random, attractive strangers. He openly gaped, and judging by Magnus’s expression, he had not been expecting Alec to say something coherent, much less witty.
“Yes. I suppose that’s what I’m here for.” He stretched his arms out playfully. “Now, what can I get you darling?”
He felt his face flare scarlet at the pet name. “I’ll um have a coffee. Just black-So er, no sugar or anything.”
Magnus’s eyes widened comically. “Are you sure you don’t want something else? Are your taste buds okay? You know we have an astounding selection.”
“I’ve been ordering this drink ever since I first came here, it wakes me up.”
Magnus hummed, the twinkle in his eye morphing into something else entirely. “Maybe it’s time for a change.”
Magnus suddenly whirled around, grabbing a cup and working on Alec’s drink. Change. The word seemed foreign to Alec. He wasn’t sure if he liked the idea of change. But he wasn’t sure if he’d be happy if everything stayed the same.
A snap brought him out of his thoughts, when a steaming cup of coffee was presented to him. He jumped slightly before Magnus smiled.
“You get lost in there a lot don’t you?”
Alec looked at him in confusion, not understanding.
Magnus shook his head, as if bringing himself out of a dream. “That’d be $2.10″
Alec swallowed uncomfortably before wriggling his hand in his ragged pocket. He pulled out some loose coins, the exact change already prepared before pooling the money into Magnus’s hand.
Magnus smiled brightly, sorting the change into the register while Alec grabbed his coffee, the fabric of his sweater protecting his skin from the overwhelming heat.
“Have a great day.” Magnus chirped.
Alec left without so much of a backwards glance, trying not to think about how it felt when their hands brushed.
He had been on his computer, researching intently for an upcoming project he’d figured he should probably start, searching mindlessly. He couldn’t blink away the plethora of golds and greens that encompassed Magnus’s eyes. He mentally scolded himself. It was completely impractical to get a crush on someone he’d seen just once. He wasn’t even sure if the man was gay. Alec shuddered at the thought of what he would do if the man was gay. Flirt? Another word that was foreign to Alec. He didn’t know how to flirt, he didn’t know how to do anything in the field of romance. He groaned loudly, sudden insecurities clawed their way forwards, shielding Alec away from whatever thought that he may have had that made him think he had a shot with the stranger. He had been rudely interrupted from his thoughts, the moment his siblings stepped into the house, yelling obnoxiously.
“Alec, you lazy lug, while we’ve been slaving away at school, you couldn’t even find the decency to make me something to eat?” Jace hollered.
Alec rolled his eyes, snapping his laptop shut before trampling down the stairs towards the racket.
“Sorry I’ve been too busy to cater to your insatiable appetite.” He mumbled sarcastically.
Izzy plopped up behind them, flinging her shoes off, before melting into one of the kitchen chairs. “If you want Jace, I could whip you up something-”
“You know what,” Jace’s voice broke. “I think I’ve just realized that I’m not hungry anymore.”
Izzy rolled her eyes. “I’ve been getting better, right Alec?”
Alec’s thoughts ran away as he drifted away from his sibling’s banter and back to his encounter from the coffee shop. The man seemed to be as confident as Jace, but where Jace would make him feel like an idiot, the barista made him feel… nice. Along with the inescapable feel of nervousness and bashfulness.
Isabelle looked over at him, confusion painted over her features, making Alec swallow uncomfortably, as he was pulled back into reality. “What’s up with you?”
“What do you mean?” He frowned. “Nothing’s up with me.”
Jace’s gaze bounced between the pair. “What’s he lying about?”
Izzy pursed her lips. “Not sure yet, give me ten minutes.”
“Only ten minutes?” Alec quirked an eyebrow. “You’re feeling confident.”
"Iz knock it off, I’m suppose to be the confident one.” Jace teased.
Alec smirked. “The word you’re looking for is arrogance.”
Jace swatted at Alec’s arm. Alec was about to retaliate before he felt a vibration from his pocket. He jumped, before hastily grabbing his phone, Maryse Lightwood splayed across the screen. ‘Mom’ he mouthed, before he answered.
“Mom… hi.” He said awkwardly. “Is everything alright?”
“Yes, everything’s fine, but I’ll have to stay late tonight. There’s been an overflow with paperwork.”
“Again? That’s almost two weeks now.” Alec sighed. “Are you sure you don’t need any help?”
“Nonsense.” She quipped. “I don’t need to be taking you away from your studies. Make sure the other two eat something.” He could hear the small smile in her voice. “You know you’re the only one of the three that can cook.”
“Yeah.” He’d been the one feeding them for a while now. He was surprised she still thought she needed to call them. He couldn’t remember the last time she ate dinner with them.
“Alright, then I must get going.” She hung up abruptly, never really one for goodbyes or expressing her emotions. He snapped his phone shut, trying to ignore the plain irritation splayed across his sister’s face. Jace feigned nonchalance and Alec realized he couldn’t really tell what thoughts were whirling around in Jace’s head. His mother sounded different, different from usual. He wasn’t sure why but he thought he heard a guilt ridden edge in her voice.
“Mom’s going to be working late tonight.” Alec muttered reluctantly.
Izzy huffed. “Figures.”
“Iz.” Alec sighed. “You know they’ve got a whole big business to look after. Mom’s been really stressed recently, what with all the costumers and stuff. We probably shouldn’t be giving her a hard time about it.”
“I’ll stop giving her a hard time about it when she’s here to give me that speech.”
“Here.” Alec murmured, intent on getting her mind off of their parents. “Let’s do something.”
The trio ended up sprawled along the living room, watching movies. Alec had made dinner, simple pasta that he’d found in the cupboard, and the three found themselves arguing over which movies to watch. Isabelle managed to get her movie choice played, again, and Alec felt himself slowly dozing off when the second film’s credits started rolling. He groaned before shifting over, off of the couch and unsteadily onto his feet. He tiredly wiped his face, before waving at his siblings.
“You checking in already?”
“I’ve got classes tomorrow.” Alec groaned. “And on Friday’s I’ve got an 8am class. It was the only slot that let me study Narrative Theory and Poetics.” He grinned sloppily, feeling uncharacteristically giddy.
“You’re such a nerd.” Jace teased before rolling over and shifting his attention back to the screen.
“Goodnight.” Izzy squawked.
Alec moved over to the couch where she was sprawled across, bundled in blankets before he pressed a soft kiss against her temple. “Goodnight Iz.” She smiled lazily, her head lolling slightly as she felt herself dozing off.
“What?” Jace said playfully. “I don’t get a kiss?”
“Shut up.” Alec stuck his tongue out, before he sauntered out of the room, Jace’s cries of protest being heard in the background. “Drama queen.” Alec muttered affectionately. He roved along the long hallway before reaching his bedroom, small and compact and bare. The walls were dipped in a creamy white, and he immediately made his way to his bed, stripping off his shirt and pants until he was clad in just his boxers. He collapsed into bed, feeling uncharacteristically tired, especially on a day that he had off. While he felt himself drift to sleep, his mind was unusually empty. He’d completely forgotten about the strange conversation with his mother or the inevitable conversation he’d have to have with his parents about his schooling or the striking amalgam of green and gold.
Belatedly, as he was falling sleep, he realized that he hadn’t taken one sip of his coffee.