Fic & Vid: Love Is a Fire

Author's Note: This is much, much darker than my usual fare, but once I started I figured I should go all the way... to the bitter end, even going so far as to creating a vid for it.

Title and vid music from Marilyn Manson's Just a Car Crash Away.

***

In many ways, life as a Shadowhunter is dangerous but easy: Shadowhunters live (and die) by the Law. Or at least they should, hard choices made simple by the constant mantra of The Law is hard but it's the Law. Even if it doesn't make sense.

So when Alec Lightwood, eldest son of one of the most respected families of the Clave (recent transgressions by the Lightwood parents notwithstanding) falls in love with Jace Wayland, his best friend and adoptive brother, he knows to keep it to himself. Homosexuality isn't illegal, but no one needs to tell him what is expected, namely that he carry on the family name, preferably with the daughter of another important clan. Then Jace asks him to be his parabatai, and the Law takes his choice away, clear in its simplicity: eros between parabatai is one of the oldest taboos.

Alec accepts, telling himself that carrying a part of Jace's soul will make up for the way his heart feels as if it's breaking into a million shards, each one with ragged edges that leave him bleeding. Looking into Jace's eyes as they speak their oath, he assures himself that he will be content knowing that Jace loves him enough to bind himself to him for life. And when they draw their parabatai runes onto one another's skin, Alec thinks mine and can almost believe it.

Of course his reasoning is flawed: He's never been good at sharing Jace, and it only gets worse now that they're bound together in ways few people truly understand. Jace is always there, even when he's not physically present, a steady light at the very center of Alec's being, warm and bright like a flickering fire, like the sun, giving life but also burning those who come too close.

Sometimes Alec resents being the moth to Jace's flame, but then his parabatai smiles at him, their bond pulsing with love, with life, and Alec finds himself smiling right back. The smiles come mostly after they'd been training or fighting, adrenaline making the bond tighter, more vivid. They're both at their best when they fight together, and the ease with which Jace admits this while Alec holds back, afraid, quiets the voice in Alec's head (sounding suspiciously like his mother) that insists he's not good enough.

Once, after a long night, when they're both bruised and exhausted but too keyed up too sleep, he lets this slip, a confession he wishes to take back immediately. The next moment Jace is on him like a raging god, yelling into his face, "What the fuck, Alec?! No one is allowed to speak about my parabatai like that - not even you!" His voice drops, turns gentle, like a caress down Alec's spine. "You're amazing and the best thing that's ever happened to me, Alec Lightwood. Don't let anybody tell you any different."

Alec feels himself flush all over, hot with pleasure and surprise, which turns into shock when Jace pushes him against the wall non-too-gently and slots his mouth over Alec's. For a second he is frozen, brain unable to process the onslaught, but Jace doesn't let up, hands insistent on black-clad shoulders, holding him in place as if he's afraid his parabatai will disappear. With a gasp, Alec melts, mouth softening, arms coming up to haul Jace against him, so tightly he groans into their kiss. Alec can't make himself let go, however, now that he's got the object of his guilty fantasies flush against him, biting at his lips greedily.

They lose themselves in each other, groping and rocking against one another, until pleasure swallows them whole. Face smushed against Alec's neck, Jace clings to his parabatai, who barely manages to remain upright as his bones turn to liquid. He's never come this hard this quickly before, and for a moment his mind is blissfully blank.

Then reality comes crashing in, and he moves his hands from their resting place against the swell of Jace's butt, grips his upper arms instead and forces him a step backwards, putting some much needed breathing space between their bodies. Jace starts to protest, but the moment their eyes meet he falls silent, biting his lip. The gesture draws Alec's attention back to his mouth, and he has to wrench his gaze away.

Not that the rest of Jace is any less tempting, with his flushed cheeks, sweat-matted hair sticking to his forehead, blue-gold eyes still glazed over. His biceps flexes under Alec's hands, making him realize that he has yet to let go, but for some reason he can't bring himself to. There's a voice in his head telling him to savor this, commit it to memory, because this is all he'll ever have.

The thought almost breaks his heart, and before he can stop himself, he hears his own voice, heavy with emotion, ask, "How can I go on, knowing how this feels? Jace..."

He trails off, fixing his eyes on the spot where Jace's speed rune disappears into his collar, because there's nothing Jace can say that will make this better. They've broken the Law, which should be the focus of his worries. However, right now all Alec cares about is how much harder things will be from now on, aware that he's not alone with his feelings, knowing what Jace tastes like, how the world disappears when they crash into one another.

The warmth and weight of Jace's hand over his heart makes him look up. He's not sure what he expected to see, but it's not the half-smile playing on lips that had been pressed against his only a short while ago. His confusion must show on his face, because the smile grows, its fondness infusing Jace's voice as he prods Alec gently, "Just… focus, Alec."

It takes the tapping of his palm against Alec's chest to get the penny to drop. Disbelieving, Alec focuses inwards, to the bright, familiar flame of Jace's soul next to his, and only then does he feel it: the beating of his parabatai's heart, completely in tandem with his own.

Obviously recognizing the moment Alec gets it, Jace, eyes filled with the same conviction Alec hears so often when it comes to their missions, states firmly, "You can't tell me that this is bad. I don't care what the Law says, I'm not giving you up."

This is when Alec Lightwood, dutiful son and model Shadowhunter, should stand firm, repeat the mantra of the Clave and take a step back, put an end to what has to be a momentary lapse in judgement. Yet what Alec actually does is nod abruptly, rendered speechless, and smash his mouth against Jace's. Their teeth clash when his parabatai opens to him easily, eagerly, and they devour each other without hesitation, triumph burning hotly through Alec's veins. Once again, nothing matters except the feeling of their bodies tangling, rutting against each other as they shed clothes and the last of their innocence.

Alec might have expected guilt to set in later, but somehow, it never does. They wake up wrapped around one another, Jace sprawled heavily across Alec's back, his cock nestled against him, dried semen flaking off both their chests and between Alec's cheeks. It's highly uncomfortable, and through the door they can hear the sounds of the Institute waking up, but all Alec can think is how lucky it is that their rooms are connected by a shared bathroom, making sneaking in and out each morning easy. There is no room in his head (in his heart) for remorse, only anticipation of the next time he'll get to have Jace like this - warm, naked and, finally, completely his.

Before, Alec had to hide this part of himself, the part that wanted to claim Jace in every way possible, his most shameful secret. Now all he needs to hide is a smirk when some fae flirts with Jace, before pushing him against the nearest flat surface the moment they're alone, turning his lover's pleased laughter into groans. Now he revels in seeing the same possessiveness reflected in Jace's eyes, feels it in the seemingly innocuous brush of hands when they're in public as much as in the reckless hunger of their private encounters.

He's never been reckless, always the voice of reason, following the spirit (if not always the letter) of the Law, but when he slides into the tight heat of his parabatai's body, Alec doesn't care about the consequences of their actions. He holds onto Jace, who clings back just as desperately, and they kiss, their bodies finding the rhythm of their heartbeats, their slip-slide the only sound except for their harsh breathing. They know better than to make a lot of noise.

Secrecy becomes second nature, neither one of them having any qualms letting others believe their parabatai bond is at the root of their increased closeness. It's true enough, both of them becoming better, more confident warriors now that there are no more secrets between them except the one they share. It used to be Alec felt torn between his natural honesty and the need to hide, while Jace never shied away from making his displeasure known when he didn't agree with something. These days, Jace doesn't say a word, even seems to enjoy deceiving the Clave, and when his father takes Alec aside, tells him proudly that he'll be Acting Head of the Institute next time Robert and Maryse have to go to Idris, Alec nods, smiles and doesn't feel guilty in the least.

Isabelle comes closest to divining the truth, being the only person who knew about Alec's feelings for his parabatai, shooting them curious glances when Jace's eyes linger a tad too long, when Alec catches himself reaching for his lover after another successful fight. However, as much as they trust her, they don't want to make her an accomplice in their crime, and in the end it's surprisingly easy to lie to her face.

Teasingly calling Jace "Jessica Hawkblue" also proves rather entertaining, until Jace pays him back by outrageously flirting with some girls. Witnessing the shameless display, Izzy squeezes his hand comfortingly, all suspicions allayed, so Alec reckons it all works out for the best. Still, that night he pushes Jace onto his knees and takes his mouth more roughly than he normally would, urged on by the eagerness with which his lover takes everything Alec dishes out and asks (begs) for more.

This more ruthless side of himself is new, too, but any doubts he might feel evaporate in the light of Jace's breathless smile, the feel of his thighs wrapped around his waist, his fingers digging into Alec's scalp while they kiss, drinking each other with a thirst that's never quenched. So when an otherwise harmless demon sneaks up on them making out in a dark back alley, Alec slashes it in half without hesitation. There can't be any witnesses, and satisfaction tastes sweet on Alec's tongue as he drags Jace back into his arms, demon ashes still hovering in the air.

They've been taking more risks lately, unable (and unwilling) to resist the pull between them, and there's a day when they're clearing an unsanctioned vampire den, adrenaline and elation passing back and forth along their bond, and Jace catches Alec in a quick, brutal kiss. The eyes of the last vampire widen in shock, before the creature raises his arms in surrender, hissing mockingly, "I surrender to the authority of the Clave! And I might just have some news for them in exchange for leniency…"

They exchange a quick glance, blood freezing in Alec's veins, but then Jace's Blade swoops up and down in a smooth arch, and their prospective blackmailer bursts into flames. Jace turns away as if nothing untoward had happened, as if they hadn't just broken yet another fundamental Law, and with a shrug Alec lets himself be pushed against the wall, strong thigh sliding between his legs as he lays his throat bare to the onslaught of Jace's lips and teeth. If he considers their victim at all, it's to pity the Downworlder's stupidity, thinking he could threaten them. They're unbreakable, he and Jace, and the knowledge lights up their souls, makes them rut against each other until the pleasure-pain becomes too much. No longer caring who hears them, Alec falls apart with a howl, and Jace follows suit, growling, "Fuck, Alec, parabatai!"

Their parabatai marks seem to burn as they shake and curse, and their bond is a living, electric thing, coiling between them like a live wire, feeding Alec echoes of Jace's pleasure, his fierce, possessive love. Alec knows it isn't supposed to feel like that, remembers what it was like before, but he's far past caring. In the back of his head Alec knows that their luck is bound to run out one of these days. The Law would brand them criminals, their family and friends would never understand, but there's no room for fear in the breath they share as their bodies collide once again. Alec kisses Jace, and the air around them crackles with magic.

They freeze, but the shock wears off quickly, replaced with wonder when Jace traces a line of red fire along Alec's parabatai rune. Its touch sends waves of electricity through him, making every part of him come alive, the entire world turning sharper, more vibrant. He returns the favor, and the look on Jace's face is one of sheer bliss, head falling limply against Alec's shoulder. Holding him tightly, Alec whispers, "We can't use this, it's too dangerous."

Jace nods, but Alec sees his own reluctance mirrored in eyes that still seem to shine with the magic, secret and forbidden. Still, they refrain from repeating the experiment, keep a tight rein on the red fire they both feel flickering inside them, waiting to burst out. Until the day Alec is hurt on a hunt, when Jace rushes to Alec's side, barely checking whether Isabelle is around, hand already outstretched to activate Alec's iratze. His stele remains sheathed, and the healing flowing through Alec is so much stronger than anything he's ever felt. He gasps harshly and clings to Jace, who feeds him magic until he manages to shake his head, buried against Jace's neck. That's how Izzy finds them, and the look in her eyes would make Alec worry if every fibre of his being wasn't still humming with energy.

However, the next real threats don't come from their sister but after the incident with the memory demon. Clary Fairchild is the first to come straight out and ask whether they're together, her eyes fresh and unprejudiced. Of course, she has no idea how dangerous her suspicions are and agrees readily enough not to tell anyone, accepting Jace's half-lie that homosexuality is frowned upon in Shadowhunter society. Alec himself deals with the High Warlock, using Bane's obvious interest in him and pretending that his feelings are unrequited. That night, Jace's hands lay claim to every part of his parabatai's body, and his words in the aftermath, when they lie still joined, are a dark promise: "No one can know. I'll feed anyone who wants to take you from me to a demon if necessary!"

It's a vow Alec accepts with a fierce kiss, and its reciprocity is more than proven when they are cut off from each other on Valentine's ship, before Jace manages to kill his traitorous father, and Alec almost loses his mind when half of his soul suddenly goes dark. It's only the knowledge that Jace is still alive that stops him from killing anyone standing between them, including his own mother. Still, she obviously sees at least some of the truth in his eyes, and after Jace's return, she pleads with them to take a step back. The rage this rouses in Alec is black and red fire, but it's Jace who lashes out, all furious anger, and Alec has rarely seen him more beautiful than when he stands over Maryse's unconscious body.

Throwing caution to the wind with a grin, Alec closes the distance between them, pushes his tongue down Jace's throat and hungrily swallows his elated laugh. They'll claim foul play by some witch or warlock later, right now all Alec wants is to feel Jace's body writhing underneath his, the act of violence unleashing a passion he's rarely felt before. They fuck right there, not bothering to get undressed, and neither one of them notices Jocelyn Fairchild walking in on them.

Not that it matters, because, like Maryse, she makes the mistake of confronting them, her eyes full of horror. It's almost too easy to snuff out that look, and Alec does so without hesitation. Jocelyn is dead at his feet, and he can feel Jace's approval through their bond, even before his lover drops to his knees and shows his appreciation most enthusiastically. A part of Alec knows that they're losing control, but instead of scaring him, excitement courses through his veins, an arousal Jace shares as he shares everything else.

The boundaries between them become more and more blurred each day, and when the Clave comes to arrest them, Alec borrows some of Jace's strength and ability to get free. Once again it's easy, and they might have made it out if Isabelle hadn't stopped them. Despite everything, Alec feels reluctant to fight his sister, pleading with her to understand. There is so much pain in her eyes, but her voice is firm as she in turn begs tearfully, "Alec, this is madness! You and Jace, it's gone too far - you have to let them take you to the City of Bones, it's the only place where they can help you!"

For a moment, Alec wavers, and Izzy uses his distraction to throw him to the ground. Through their bond Alec feels Jace's fear and rage flare up hotly, and Isabelle goes flying through the air, propelled by a ball of red fire as he unleashes the full force of his magic on her. Then he's by Alec's side, and they stare at their sister's body, both cold with the realization of what they've just done. Jace is the only thing that still makes sense in this upended world, and Alec clings to him, lets him soothe his anguish with tender hands and kisses.

"We should leave. No one will get hurt if they can't find us," Jace whispers, and Alec nods into his parabatai's chest, his heartbeat anchoring him and giving him the strength to get up, leaving his sister lying on the ground, and with her the last remnants of the man Alec Lightwood used to be. He's always tried to live up to their family name, but now the only honorable course of action is to run, because the alternative… Alec shakes his head and pulls Jace into a fierce kiss. There is no alternative.

They almost make it out, but the Clave has the Institute surrounded. Faced with separation, desperation overcomes their good intentions, thoughtless rage as they fight like cornered animals, and they leave a trail of bodies, only to realize that there is no way out. Alec looks around them numbly, tries to remember what he's supposed to feel, but everything is muted and unimportant.

The only thing in color is the man whose soul he carries, whose heart beats in his chest. Jace is by his side, where he belongs, covered in blood and grime, traces of magic still dancing over his skin. They fall into each other without their usual hunger, instead reverently kissing and touching every bit of skin they can reach until their movements still and they stand wrapped around each other. Alec breathes in his parabatai's familiar scent, feels Jace's arms tighten even more around him, and together they whisper, "If aught but death part thee and me…"

The red fire of their unnatural magic uncurls hungrily, and Alec closes his eyes and lets it go.

***

Music: Marilyn Manson - Just a Car Crash Away
Download: .zip (.mp4 + .srt, 148mb)

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