Author's Note: Prompted by Alec's comment in 2x17 about being sent on missions when they were Max' age.


Their first mission almost ended in disaster.

They'd been so excited when Hodge told them that they were ready, Jace turning to Alec and beaming at him proudly. He was a bit younger than the standard 12 years, but he had earned his first Mark the same time Alec did. Their shared rune ceremony had been a festive occasion, and Alec had taken special pleasure in the joy on Jace's face, quickly hidden behind his usual facade, when Maryse told them how proud she was.

They had trained for this, had excelled in all simulations and exercises, yet nothing had prepared them for the moment everything went wrong. They'd tracked some Ravener demons, but what they found had been a rogue nest of vampires, easily outnumbering the two boys. It was dumb luck that Jace spotted a window high up on the wall, and he immediately activated his rune and jumped to the window sill, yelling at Alec to follow him.

The moment Alec reached the high vantage point, he turned and began shooting arrows faster than he ever had before, giving Jace the time he needed to remove the bars in front of the window. They were crowded together on the narrow ledge, and there were several moments when their surefooted runes were the only thing stopping them from toppling down into the arms of the hungry vampires below.

Finally Jace managed to kick away the loosened metal bars, and they jumped down, taking off at a sprint immediately. Jace was faster and disappeared around a corner, not seeing how close their pursuers were, and Alec had to slow down in order to loosen some more arrows. Each one hit its target, but there were too many vampires, and Alec had to exchange bow for blade as they closed in. He slashed and ducked, dusting a few more, but for a heartstopping moment he knew that it wasn't enough, that he was about to die.

Then Jace was back, joining the fray with a wild cry and more force than Alec had ever seen him use before. Together they managed to get rid of the last three vamps, their ashes still hanging in the air when Jace turned to Alec and asked frantically if he was alright. Not waiting for an answer he plunged into an apology for leaving Alec behind, until Alec stopped him with a hand on his shoulder and the assurance that it was alright, that he was alright.

"You couldn't know," he added with a smile, his entire body feeling warmed by the worry and regret still visible in Jace's eyes.

The younger boy cocked his head thoughtfully, his jaw tightening with resolve. "Well, it won't happen again, from now on we'll look out for each other! Promise?"

"Promise," Alec replied just as firmly, and the two boys clasped hands.

Later Alec would suspect that that was the moment Jace started to think about becoming parabatai, about making an oath that bound them much more profoundly than any promise, but right then all Alec knew was that his skin seemed to be tingling where Jace touched it. He let go of Jace's hand as if he'd been burned, instinctively aware that something inside of him had changed. Jace looked at him in confusion, and Alec shivered, suddenly feeling cold with the knowledge that his friend hadn't felt the same.

Their first mission almost ended in disaster, but that wasn't why Alec would always remember it.

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