… And What He Found There

Author's Note: Follows "Through the Looking Glass" and "Down the Rabbit Hole", bringing some resolution. An alternate version of 1x12 - "Malec" and bringing us to the end of season 1.

***

Clary and Magnus returned without Ragnor, his death lying like a shadow over the warlock. They did bring back the information that the Book of the White might hold the antidote for Jocelyn's condition. Jace tried to be glad that they'd made progress, but he still felt as if he was being strangled, every breath a struggle as his thoughts kept circling viciously from Alec to his father and back again.

When Izzy tracked him down, he knew it spelled trouble. She'd never been one to stand by while the men she both considered brothers were at odds. He had not expected her to tell him that Alec had been asking for him on the eve of his wedding. "You don't need me to tell you that there are… unresolved issues between you, Jace, he wants them to be settled."

"I don't know, Iz, I just don't know…" Despite his response, however, a part of Jace stubbornly began to hope that this meant Alec might reconsider. So of course he showed up.

Only to curse himself for a fool when Alec stared at him in complete surprise before mumbling, "Damn it, Izzy."

"So you didn't want to talk to me?" Jace asked petulantly in spite of himself, immediately hating that it came out like an accusation. Predictably Alec didn't react positively, and Jace turned on his heel, fully intending to leave. So what if his heart was heavy, his stomach churning with nausea at the thought that the next time he saw Alec would be at his wedding. He was the son of Valentine Morgenstern - he'd lived through worse. The thought brought back echoes of Michael Wayland's voice, telling him that to love was to destroy, and Jace stopped short, suddenly certain that leaving now would destroy not only something in himself but in the bond with his parabatai. "Alec, what my father said… You don't have to say anything; I just don't want it to change what we have."

He couldn't quite make himself turn around, not until he heard Alec's response, which came with gratifying swiftness: "Neither do I."

"I don't know how things got so messed up." The wry smile they shared lifted some of the weight from Jace's shoulders, making it possible for him to believe that maybe, just maybe they'd be alright. Not completely, of course, not as long as his own treacherous heart still ached with the thought of Alec's wedding. He looked at Alec, and his hands wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch. Instead, he walked past him and sat down, burying his face in his palms. "We just got caught in all that drama."

"For what it's worth, I know how you feel." Alec joined him, his presence alone cause enough for Jace to calm down further. "It's like you know what you need to do and what your responsibilities are. And you think If you follow the rules, everything's gonna be fine. Then somebody comes along, and... pushes you off that path."

Each word from his normally taciturn parabatai reverberating in his head, Jace stared at Alec for a moment, then back at his feet, unable to face the wealth of emotions passing through those hazel eyes. "I get it. And I'm sorry, I never meant to be the one who… pushed you."

"The point is, we're Shadowhunters. Emotions get in the way. And if you get knocked off the path, you have to focus... and find your way back." Alec's voice was rough, as if he was struggling to push the words out.

His meaning was clear, however, and Jace bit back a sigh. He still had to ask, though, had to be sure: "As long as this is what you really want."

"It is." Alec still sounded a bit conflicted, but hadn't Jace just said that he didn't want to be the one to push his parabatai? And it wasn't as if he had anything better to offer anyway. So he just nodded, even as Alec added, "I'm fulfilling my duty."

He got up decisively, looking down at Jace, who hoped his face wasn't betraying the pain he was feeling, which only increased when Alec asked him to be his suggenes. For a long moment Jace didn't know how Alec could ask this of him, if he could bear having to stand witness to an event that he wanted to stop with every fibre of his being. In the end, however, there was only one answer if he wanted to salvage their bond, and he replied firmly, "I'd be honored. I'll always be here for you."

"Me too." Alec held out his hand to seal the promise, but the moment their hands touched, Jace knew it wasn't enough. Impulsively, he pulled Alec into a tight hug, sighing in relief when his parabatai responded immediately, arms coming up to embrace Jace. They fit together with the same perfect ease as always, and Jace buried his face against Alec's neck and just breathed for a moment. He could do this. He could stand next to Alec on the dais when his parabatai bound himself to Lydia Branwell. He had to.

However, when the moment came, it was all Jace could do not to throw up. His fingers, which had unerringly thrown knives since he was 8 years old, trembled when he righted Alec's bowtie and straightened the lapels of his suit jacket. Alec looked almost as nervous, but he sounded genuinely grateful when he said, "I'm glad you're here with me."

"Wouldn't be anywhere else." It was both a lie and the complete truth, and Jace's hands came to rest against Alec's neck, squeezing lightly. Alec blushed, meeting his eyes, and their bodies swayed towards each other until Jace shook himself and took a step back. He was actually relieved when Brother Jeremiah called the wedding party to order, but when Lydia appeared, looking beautiful and collected, a low buzzing seemed to start in his head, drowning out everything else.

He almost missed his cue, his hands white-knuckling the pillow with the necklace. Then Alec's hands appeared in his line of vision, golden bracelet already dangling off his wrist, and suddenly Jace felt as if he couldn't breathe. He looked up, and their eyes locked, Alec's widening as he obviously took in at least some of the turmoil Jace was drowning in.

"Alec…" It was barely more than a whisper, escaping Jace unbidden, but Alec froze, hands hovering over the pillow Jace was still holding. They stared at each other, Jace completely at a loss as to why he had spoken and what to do next.

It was Lydia who broke the moment, touching Alec gently and forcing his attention away from Jace. "Hey, Alec. It's okay."

"No, it's not." Alec's laugh sounded hollow, and Jace almost reached out, only to pull back, scared out of his wits. He was caught, trapped between his instinct and his training as a Shadowhunter, just like Alec, who was visibly struggling for breath. "But… I can't do this. I thought we were doing the right thing, but this isn't it. Lydia, I'm sorry."

Jace gaped in shock, mind racing, barely hearing Lydia's gracious response, and he only noticed he had moved when he heard a collective gasp from the audience. Alec, too, was staring at him, only not at his face but at the hand Jace had wrapped around his parabatai's wrist. Under his thumb he could feel Alec's pulse racing, and he almost pulled back, his brain already presenting him with a million ways to play this off. Except then Alec looked up, and mixed into the fear and disbelief in his eyes Jace saw the tiniest sliver of hope.

It made Jace's decision for him, and when he leaned in, Alec met him half-way.

Their mouths collided, hesitating and awkward at first, only to turn into something altogether different. The world disappeared in the heat of Alec's lips, the grip of his hands holding Jace to him as if to stop him from disappearing, Jace's own fingers sliding up to tangle in the short hair at the back of Alec's neck. They came up for air but fell back into each other, right until they were yanked apart unceremoniously by Alec's parents.

"What the hell are you thinking?" Maryse hissed, her features an ugly mask of shock and disgust, and a quick look around showed similar expressions on most faces. Even Izzy and Clary were staring at them, obviously as blind-sided as everyone else. The only notable exception was Simon, who was watching with something very close to glee, probably completely unaware of the greater ramifications.

Alec made a noise like a wounded animal, and Jace's attention at once snapped back to him, nothing else mattering. His parabatai seemed smaller than anyone of his size had any right to, skin ashen as he faced his parents' disapproval. Ignoring their protests, Jace shook off Robert's hand on his arm to go to him, gripping his shoulder in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. Determinedly he turned to the people who'd raised him, although his voice was hoarse as he blurted out, "It's my fault. If you want to blame someone, blame me."

"No. No, Jace, this one's on both of us." The fierceness in Alec's eyes when he covered Jace's hand with his own washed over Jace like an embrace. Squaring his shoulders, Alec faced his parents again. "We know the Law, and we're prepared to accept the consequences."

Jace barely suppressed an exasperated eyeroll at this expected reaction from his parabatai. Not that it seemed to impress Maryse, whose fury appeared unabated, although Jace could tell it was at least partly fueled by confusion. "You have humiliated and dishonored us! You're lucky if you're only..."

She would doubtlessly have continued telling them in excruciating detail about the punishments for their crime, but a studiously light voice interrupted her: "Oh my, seems I've come at an inopportune time." Magnus Bane was standing there, shrewd eyes taking the scene in front of him and doubtlessly drawing his own mostly correct conclusions. "Do you think you could postpone this… excitement until after we've found the Book of the White and defeated Valentine?"

Relief washing over him, Jace silently apologized to the warlock for any negative thing he'd ever thought about him. With a few choice words he'd bought them time; time to figure out how to deal with the repercussions of their actions, time to tell Alec about the other world, the one that had opened Jace's eyes and led them to this moment. Maybe even time to see if their bodies would fit together as perfectly here as they had there.

Following Magnus, they easily fell into step beside one another, hands brushing lightly. Despite knowing that they'd only postponed the inevitable, Jace remembered their motto and couldn't help but smirk a little. As attuned to his parabatai as always, Alec nudged him, shotting him a questioning glance.

"Facilis descensus averno," he explained in a whisper, and understanding dawned on Alec's face. Sharing a small, conspiring smile, they joined the others at the table, standing close enough to feel one another's body heat. No matter what happened, they would not be broken.

A day later Jace was looking back at his desperate parabatai, trying to convey the same sentiment without words as he let himself be led away by Valentine's men.

***

Shorter than the others (and I'm not altogether happy with it, truth be told), but I thought this was a good place for a break. I do have some ideas for my version of season 2 already. 🙂

Series Navigation<< Side-trip: Which Dreamed It?Prequel: Adventures Under Ground >>

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