Heyo! So, it's been a while. Uni and all, plus I just needed a break.
Hope you like this little one-shot! It's an all human college AU, without the college, really. There's a little bit of Malec, just so you know.
All my love and thanks to alicelightwoodbane for always encouraging me to write and for generally being my hero for goodness knows how long. Love you!
Simon stared bleary-eyed at the cereal drowning in the bowl in front of him. He had spent most of the night before sitting at the desk he had managed to cram into his bedroom a few months back. The desk was pushed into a corner at one end of the room and his bed had to be rammed up against the opposite wall to allow maximum space for a chair. When he pulled out that chair so he could sit down and study, it would bang against the frame of his bed. He would sigh and stare at the little space the desk, bed and chair permitted and then squeezed himself into it, vowing to either buy a smaller desk or a smaller bed.
But neither were ever going to happen because he very much liked his double bed and the large desk was perfectly large enough to hold all the papers and textbooks that were bound to be scattered everywhere once he got himself into a studying frenzy. Besides, he had already sacrificed his bedside tables for the greater convenience of the desk.
The new owner of Simon's forfeited furniture stumbled into the kitchen noisily, bumping his shoulder rather harshly against edge of the wall. He didn't seem to notice the impact and Simon expected as much because it wasn't like Jace to be up this early so he was definitely going to be tired with the lovely addition of a foul mood.
It was a good thing that Jace had such an anal personality, it may have driven everyone else mad, but he could navigate around the entire kitchen searching for food and coffee while being completely unconscious. Everything was where it should be and nothing was ever out of place for too long when Jace was around.
The kitchen seemed to be his main domain. That and his bedroom. It was scarily clean and empty. Just his bed (that was always made) and Simon's furniture. Everything was neatly folded and tucked away behind the sliding doors of the wardrobe. He had attempted at maintaining the state of the lounge room, but it was a public sphere and he found it difficult to keep up.
It wasn't like they were all slobs, but the kitchen and the lounge were the two rooms that were frequented the most. And they were both susceptible to the random dumping of wallets, keys, shopping, school bags, shoes, homework, clothes and mail. This often got on Jace's nerve but, if he tidied up, it would likely result in an argument about the whereabouts of personal items and then probably escalate more into undesirable territory.
Jace turned from the sink and took one look at Simon, taking in the rumpled, striped pajama pants and the oversized Star Wars t-shirt that was stretched and looked like it was swallowing him half the time. "You look like shit."
He glared at the golden haired boy. "We should make a club." Simon grunted, not yet ready to deal with anything that morning.
Jace ignored the comment, still in much the same shape as Simon. He dropped a plate of toast onto their round kitchen table, turning around to pick out a knife and butter from the fridge before he sat himself down heavily in a mismatched chair. It wasn't long before Jace realized that he had left his steaming mug of coffee at the counter. Simon watched with slight amusement as he heaved himself up again only to walk three steps to pick it up and slump back into the chair. Jace, of course, ever the dramatic, sighed despairingly during the entire ordeal.
He lazily stabbed for butter and smeared it around on the cooling toast without much care either. If Simon didn't know better he would have thought Jace was blind, what with the large globs of unspread butter melting into a pool on the bread. Jace took a bite and Simon shivered at the thought of that much butter.
They ate in companionable silence for a short while, not really wanting to start up any sort of conversation. But they were hardly given a moment of peace when Magnus walked in, very awake and very talkative.
Magnus was wearing a pair of low rider black jeans that hugged his hips and were either designer or a quirky find on one of his numerous shopping trips. He wasn't wearing a shirt and that was quite commonplace in the morning, or any time of the day or night, really. Even Jace had to admit that Magnus was really the only one of them that could successfully be shirtless at almost any hour. Every one of them had seen more of Magnus than they cared to let be known.
Jace and Magnus were the first to move into the apartment together. Jace posted his interest in the place first and met Magnus in the process, they had agreed to become roommates if they ever were accepted. So, in the end, the four bedrooms were evidently more than enough and they sought out more roommates to save money on rent. Simon guessed that one of the bedrooms was meant to be a study, but when he moved in, the two remaining rooms were essentially the same size. Although, at the present moment he felt like his room was no bigger than a box.
"Good morning, all. How did we sleep?" Magnus inquired in a much too happy voice. When he received no reply other than the dead faces of the two at the table, he mumbled, "Not that well, I see," while busying himself by poking through the cupboards for something to eat. He did not pull out anything, but before he could despair he had an idea. Quickly ducking into the fridge, his long frame bent in half to collect what he needed. Magnus finished with an armful of food.
"I slept very well, thanks for asking." He continued as if he did have an alive audience. "Those new bed sheets I bought last week are incredible. Simon you really should invest in some." He chatted more and more to the other two, not receiving a response, and banged around with a fry pan. He did, however, re-fill Jace's emptying mug with hot coffee, which coaxed out a slight nod of the head.
Magnus and Jace clashed more than was probably necessary, but there was a solid friendship somewhere underneath the snarky remarks.
Both Simon and Jace slowly felt themselves rousing a little more because of the constant noise coming from Magnus. Simon even managed to raise his head higher than between his shoulders.
"Oh, and I forgot, Jace, were you watching porn last night?"
At Magnus' words, Simon stilled and Jace's head kicked up. Apparently, his drowsiness had evaporated. "No."
"Clarissa goes away for three days with her family and you can't even survive one without her. What will the next two days be like?" Magnus tutted, focusing on the stove.
"I said 'no'." Jace reiterated, sounding a little annoyed. "It could have been from Alec's room."
Magnus discreetly ignored him, plating up his breakfast which consisted of bacon, judging by the smell. He sat next to Simon, leaving a free chair next to Jace on both sides. The plate was mounted with food, it was impossible for Magnus to eat all of it and still be as lean as he was. But that was exactly what happened. He could put away large meals like that and tubs of ice-cream and still be no bigger than a rail. The other two had never heard of him ever bothering with working out.
"I understand that it must be lonely for you. We can all understand. We're a very understanding bunch of people." Magnus gestured around as if there were more than just him and Simon that he was talking about. "You're so very used to having Clarissa around… or seeing her whenever you need her." He leaned across the round table, reaching out his hand like he meant to comfort Jace but not daring to touch him. "It's okay to have needs, Jace," Magnus said in an overly gentle voice, topped with softened eyes to complete his mockery.
Simon was blushing a little at the talk about Clary. They had been friends since they were little kids. She had helped him move into the apartment where, of course, she met Jace. At first, he kind of annoyed her; that much she did tell Simon. His lame attempts at impressing her, the crappy one-liners and cheesy compliments were, in her eyes, really pathetic. It was only after she had visited Simon a few times did she begin to warm up to Jace and eventually agree to go out on a date with him.
They'd been dating ever since and, while Simon wasn't too concerned about their relationship, he did not want to hear any of the details, namely because she was his best friend and Jace was Jace. He definitely didn't want to hear about Jace's goings ons.
Jace lifted his head to address Magnus. "Aren't you tired of spending every day alone with your right hand? You're going to have to be cautious about, you know, cramps."
Magnus grinned wolfishly, obviously entertained by the response. He stood up. "I'm ambidextrous."
Simon was shaking his head, hoping that it might work like an etch-a-sketch and erase everything that he had just heard. Then, Magnus took his own plate, Simon's bowl and Jace's mug and plate to the sink to start washing up. "I thought we were keeping everything on a 'need to know' basis. That was not a 'need to know'."
"Would you rather that we talk about your non-existent dating life, darling?" Magnus picked up a plate that was covered in suds and dipped in back into the sink. Jace chuckled. "Or perhaps your infatuation with Miss Isabelle?"
Simon sat up straighter in his chair unconsciously. "I do not," he fiddled with the plastic potted plant in the center of the table. "Have an infatuation, that is," he finished lamely.
"Staring at her every time she is here with hearts in your eyes does count." Jace added.
"What about you?" Simon pressed, directing his question to Magnus. "At least I have interests."
"I date." Magnus sniffed at the exact same time Jace shouted, "Ah! He admits it! You all heard it."
"Heard what?" Another voice drifted in from behind them in the lounge room. Alec. The sound of keys being pulled out from the lock and the door being closed shut reaffirmed that it could only be their missing roommate.
Alec walked into the kitchen to see Jace and Simon splayed in various positions at the kitchen table and Magnus in the middle of washing the dishes shirtless. His black hair was quite ruffled and out of place, but that was an average day for Alec's hair. Judging by the bag in his hand, he had spent the early hours of his morning at the gym running or doing something as equally as ungodly at such a time.
"That Simon fancies Isabelle."
Simon visibly paled and Alec gave him a tired, withering look before he turned to leave for his bedroom.
"Who even says 'fancy'?" Simon accused, now getting a little defensive at the attention being put on him.
Jace must have had the same idea, because he craned his neck to look at Magnus and said, "Yeah, 'fancy', is that even a thing?"
"Of course it is. I'm just more cultured than you, peasants. Either way, Simon has the hots for Alec's sister."
That was the precise reason Simon wanted the conversation to steer elsewhere. Isabelle was indeed Alec's sister and Jace knew her really well because he had been friends with Alec's family for a really long time. Alec got himself the final room in the apartment because of his connection to Jace. He had only been living with them for three months now. For quite some time it was just the three of them living together, but the other room was left empty, neither of them being able to decide on what it could be used for or who could take ownership of it – Alec was their solution. He was a rather nice guy, although he often kept to himself. Simon thought of him as 'alert, but quiet'.
Isabelle was his main visitor. Even though they looked much the same, they acted quite differently. She came over a lot without warning, while Alec gave the impression that he would never even consider doing such a thing because he would be too concerned that you had other plans with your TV to actually want his presence in the first place. She had made herself known to the others in the apartment, becoming fairly good friends with Magnus and, much to his secret delight, chatting with Simon about movies and TV shows.
Jace snorted at Magnus' words. "Not to worry, it's not like Alec would threaten you about Isabelle."
Magnus look at Jace and grinned. Simon would have sworn that if Magnus didn't have suds all up his arms they would have high-fived. They only time they weren't at each other's own throats was when they were picking on him. Or possibly Alec.
"Even if he hasn't threaten to beat you within an inch of your life," Simon knew Alec enough to at least believe that he would never hurt him. He hoped. "Isabelle could totally annihilate you."
"And I would pay to watch." They both said at the same time. Once again, from the way they looked at each other, Simon would have thought they were two teenage girls gushing over being 'twinsies'.
They liked each other more than they would ever admit.
Simon kept his eyes down, thinking that maybe an apparent lack of interest would get them to shut up.
Alec came back into the room dressed in different black clothes than what he was wearing when he entered the apartment. He was dressed for work. It was lucky that his uniform did consist of black and only black since that was the only thing that he appeared to own. Despite his previously looks at Simon, he sat in the spot that was recently vacated by Magnus.
"You think she's gorgeous. You want to kiss her. You want to hug her. You want to love her. You want–" Jace sing-songed, dramatically closing his eyes and swaying to his own tune.
"You watch Miss Congeniality once and you think you can quote it in everyday life?" Simon snapped, getting annoyed that this was still going on despite his wishes.
Jace was laughing way too much to notice the red that Simon was turning and the small blush forming on the tips of Alec's cheeks. It appeared that he liked them talking about his sister as much as Simon did.
"Um," Alec coughed awkwardly to fill some of the silence that had fallen over them after Jace's laughing fit. "I fed the Chairman when I went out this morning."
Two months back there had been a general sneaking suspicion that Magnus was keeping a cat in the apartment, but no one had any solid proof – the bedrooms were off limits without permission as a basic rule. He had never mentioned it, but, when a comically sized cat did appear in the kitchen one day, Magnus had finally been found out. However, the three other boys could not uphold a macho exterior in the presence of such fluffiness. The Chairman was just another part of their apartment now. Alec was the second most fond of him - probably because he missed his cat that was at his parent's house – and was likely to be found scratching him behind his ears and, occasionally, feeding him.
That was typical Magnus. Sometimes, any of the other three boys would come back to the apartment to find a new lamp standing proudly on the coffee table, or the rug from the kitchen to have miraculously changed colour and shape. The changes came usually without a fuss, because the particular choices were rather reasonable and nice-looking. The problems arose when a well-liked item disappeared from the apartment (things disappearing was as common as things appearing) and it was often Jace who had something to say about it.
From the glimpses caught of his bedroom, it was definitely not something that Magnus reserved for the main living areas. It changed all the time, with no apparent cycle or reason to guide it. Themes could last up to a couple of weeks, if that. None of them could pin-point where he got the furniture and knick knacks to complete his designs or the money to afford such constant change.
Alec seemed to have inspired a new direction in conversation, because Jace finally dropped all the Isabelle nonsense and began to talk about a bar that he and a few friends from University had stumbled upon during an evening of avoiding their studies.
"It even has nice dark corners for you to hide and brood in, Alec."
Alec shot him a dark look. "Very funny."
"But it's true!" Jace looked up at Magnus for support. The shirtless man busied himself with wiping down the kitchen surfaces. "You just sit there and don't want to do anything and Simon does his best impression of a llama throwing a fit on the dance floor."
Simon interrupted with an indignant, "Hey!"
"It wouldn't be a night out without it. Just like it wouldn't be a night out without having to wait two hours for Magnus to get ready."
This time, Magnus whirled around in a flash. "To be this good looking has its responsibilities. I can't just go out wearing anything. People need to see me and I need to radiate."
Jace just waved him off. "You still spend the most time in the bathroom."
Magnus growled angrily. He looked like he had more to say – probably something more than a little harsh about Jace – but chose to keep quiet.
This was how it always was between the two of them. They constantly ran hot and cold. And it was difficult to know how either would react to the other in a certain situation. Simon and Alec had grown used to it and either left or ignored them – which was what they did now.
"You look like shit." Alec said, looking at Simon, disregarding the scene between Jace and Magnus.
Simon turned towards him, obviously not that impressed. "Thanks for the reminder. I was up most of the night studying for my Calc class and now I'm tired with a back ache."
Alec appeared to be somewhat sympathetic to him. He wasn't a bad guy, it was just that Simon was kind of scared of him when it came to his sister. Plus, he seemed to understand his woes about studying as he was the only one that actually bothered doing it as well as Simon. Jace always evaded it with plans to do something else and Magnus, well, Simon wasn't even sure what Magnus did with his time.
Alec hummed in response, unable to provide anything of greater substance because, to him, he couldn't do much to help Simon. Fortunately, Jace interrupted. "Complaining about school again? You could always, you know, not do it. Have you ever thought of that?"
"We aren't all like you, Jace." Alec felt like he rather agreed with Simon.
"Well, it sure beats late nights alone with textbooks."
Magnus, ever trying to be the mediator, said, "Let Simon choose who – or what – he wants to spend his nights with." He had a smile on his face, ignoring Simon's glare. "Oh," he said, running with a new thought pattern. "And I have some friends coming by this afternoon before we go out. I don't expect any of you to be around, but just in case."
"The pretty one and the mopey one?" Simon asked, curious, remembering only a few faces of many people that Magnus had invited over to the apartment. He certainly did keep interesting company. But Simon rather liked these two friends of Magnus because they enjoyed bringing up embarrassing stories about Magnus, often tag-teaming to see who could get a reaction out of Magnus first. They were good friends.
"Ragnor's not mopey… he's just not as enthusiastic about some things. And yes, Catarina will be there."
"I thought you liked Izzy?" Alec questioned, his attention being drawn back to Simon.
"Oooh, dug yourself into a hole there, Simon." Jace snickered at Simon's panicked expression, not at all looking like he would even consider feeling sorry for him.
"I– I don't like Catarina. I was just asking a question. I just remember her from the last time she was here. And I never said I liked Izzy either!" he scrambled for the right words. At Alec's searching gaze, he added, "I like Izzy! She's great. Just, uh, not like that. I know she's your sister and all." It was becoming more and more apparent to Simon that he was in fact digging himself into a deeper hole the more he spoke. He shut up and in his silence the tips of his ears burned.
"Nonsense." Magnus leaned back against the counter to face the table, his long body stretching out. "You like Izzy in more ways than anyone could count. Now stop making an idiot of yourself. Alec, stop giving him that look."
"I'm not giving him a look," he said, looking around the small kitchen, trying to see if anyone else agreed with him.
"Oh yes, you are. It's that older brother look."
Jace nodded and Alec looked away from them sullenly. "I don't have an older brother look." He said under his breath.
"Anyway, I better start on what I'm going to wear tonight. I can't be unprepared because God forbid I'm in the bathroom for a fraction longer." Magnus stared at Jace as he finished his sentence while taking long strides out of the kitchen to his bedroom.
Jace pulled a face at Magnus' retreating form. Alec sighed at his childish behaviour and announced that he better start getting ready to leave for work. He stood, checking his watch, then spared Simon one more glance before heading to the lounge room to put on his polished work shoes.
"No thanks to you."
"What? I didn't do anything."
Simon sighed, but refrained from saying something immediately because Alec walked past the kitchen to get his bedroom. Once he had disappeared down the hallway, Simon said, "Now I feel like I'm being watched by him."
Jace chuckled. "You forget that Izzy is like a sister to me, too.
He blanched, ready to launch into a poorly constructed spiel, much like he did before.
Alec had just picked up his wallet and keys from his bed, checking that he had everything before he left, when he was confronted by Magnus in the hallway.
"I missed you this morning," the other man purred in Alec's ear.
"I had to go to the gym today." Alec said pointedly, staring Magnus down but backing a few steps into his bedroom again.
"Oh, my perfect, round ass you went to the gym. You just wanted a cover just in case anyone heard you walking around in the morning. I'm pretty sure there was more exercise being done last night."
Alec pursed his lips and glared at Magnus. "Watch out, I might use my 'older brother' look on you." He had put particular emphasis on it, trying to sound like Magnus had earlier. "Move. I have to go to work."
Magnus, unperturbed by Alec's annoyance, stayed where he was, blocking the doorway so that Alec couldn't get passed him. Alec sighed and leveled his gaze with him. "What?"
Without saying anything, Magnus gently raised a hand and tapped a finger to his lips, his eyes conveying a challenge as well as amusement. Alec seemed to have made up his mind, and with a roll of his own eyes, he leaned forward, pushing up on his toes to peck Magnus quickly, then ducked around him. He set off down the hall to leave but an arm wrapped around his waist and pulled him backwards. Already grinning, Alec turned around to face Magnus again. Whatever he was going whisper to him was lost under another, longer kiss.
Their tongues touched when their bodies came together and Magnus pushed Alec against the door to his bedroom. He kept his head raised to be able to reach Magnus, searching for more, while Magnus pushed deeper and closer. The hands at Alec's waist moved to his hair and jaw, coaxing the direction of the kiss.
It was all soft and only a little desperate; both wanting to get their fill of each other, where the limit was never reached, while trying not to get caught.
Magnus slowed their kiss down to gentle touches of their lips.
"Have a pleasant day at work."
He grinned at Alec and touched his cheek, letting it linger there for a little too long, before disappearing from Alec's field of vision and entering the kitchen, accusing Jace of spending a lot of time in the bathroom as well. Magnus just kicked up a conversation as if nothing had happened. Alec didn't expect his legs to be working properly just yet, so he caught his breath against the door, reasoning that their reappearances should be spaced out to not stir suspicion.
He still felt a little dazed from the kiss. Magnus was very good at doing that.
If there was no need to get to work on time, Alec surely would have remained standing uselessly in the apartment, but, after a couple of minutes, he returned to the kitchen to announce his leaving.
"Enjoy work." Simon called, hoping that he still remained in Alec's good books.
"You know," Jace made sure his voice could be heard by Alec, who was by the door. "Pretending to come out of your own room every other morning won't work. It's not like we didn't know that you two have been sharing a bed every night for at least a few weeks. When were you going to share?"
Magnus had slowed his stirring of a teaspoon in his coffee cup. He looked to where Alec was frozen with the front door open before him. It was deadly silent for a brief moment. Alec spun around and strode over purposely back to the kitchen. Many things could have gone awry then, but he walked right up to Magnus and pulled him down for a hard, determined kiss – Magnus had to make sure he didn't spill his hot drink. It was over in seconds and then Alec was out of the kitchen.
The front door slammed shut.