gently i traded my heart for yours

Author's Note: Title from this gorgeous poem by Abby S.

because loving you was never a choice
it just happened
but kissing you, that's the best choice


Jace didn't know what kind of reaction his father had expected when he revealed his true identity. Had he really thought Jace would just accept that Michael Wayland had been dead for years, that the man who'd raised Jace was in fact none other than Valentine Morgenstern?

Even growing up isolated from the wider Shadowhunter society Jace had heard of the Circle, the Uprising and Valentine's anti-Downworlder agenda. At least he now knew why his father had had avoided outright condemning the Circle while constantly stressing the natural superiority of Nephilim and the importance of their role in keeping the Shadow world safe. But if Valentine Morgenstern had hoped that his son would share his views after being lied to all his life - well, Jace had surely proved him wrong.

At first, after "Michael Wayland" had deactivated the glamor he'd been wearing for 20 years, Jace had stared into the unfamiliar face, frozen in shock. His father, even more arrogant in his natural shape, had taken this as acquiescence to his plans of reactivating the Circle, but the next night Jace had packed one single bag and disappeared.

He wasn't quite sure why he'd made his way to New York. However, it was a good place to disappear in until he figured out what he wanted to do, so Jace didn't question the pull he'd felt too much. He trusted his instincts, and his instincts told him that this was where he should be. The city made it easy to hide from Valentine - there was an Institute in Brooklyn, so when Jace killed demons he came across, his father wouldn't be able to trace it back to him.

This was important, because Jace wasn't ready to make himself known to the Clave and face their reactions to the sudden appearance of Valentine Morgenstern's son, but he also didn't want to stop doing his duty. He might have rejected his father, that didn't mean he had rejected everything he'd learned. He was still a Shadowhunter.

In familiarizing himself with the local Downworld, Jace had discovered Pandemonium, a club owned by the High Warlock of Brooklyn. A bit of covert surveillance showed that Magnus Bane appeared to strictly uphold the Accords on the premises, making it possible for a mixed crowd of mundanes and Downworlders to mingle and have fun, the former having no idea of the latter's existence.

Jace, who hadn't had a lot of exposure to the mundane world previous to his flight, couldn't help but scoff at the level of cluelessness this showed. Still, Pandemonium seemed to be a good place to let off some steam while gathering further intelligence on the local state of affairs. So he glamored himself to pass as mundie and joined the Saturday night crowd.

Inside, the music was pumping and everyone appeared to enjoy themselves. For Jace it was easy to spot the Downworlders - mostly seelies and warlocks, but also a few vampires and werewolves, although Jace had already discovered that the different species mostly frequented their own establishments.

Moving through the crowd to the bar, he flagged down a bartender and ordered a beer. Valentine had drilled discipline into him, yet now that he was independent, Jace yearned to broaden his experiences. He would have liked something stronger but wanted to keep a clear head during this first visit. Once he'd ascertained that there was no danger, then he could maybe relax his guard a little.

Leaning against the bar, he surveilled the club, finding Magnus Bane, who throned in the VIP section, attended to by various persons of different genders and species. It wouldn't do to attract the warlock's attention, so Jace casually redirected his gaze - only to freeze when his eyes slid over tall, dark-haired stranger, dressed all in black.

He wasn't sure what had captured his attention, except that the guy, who seemed to be around Jace's age, maybe a couple of years older, was drop-dead gorgeous. He was also a mundie, and as such shouldn't be of any interest to Jace. Still, Jace couldn't bring himself to look away, unable to ignore the feeling in his gut that told him that there was something special about the mundane.

He was hovering at the edge of the dance floor, looking around with a sneer that should come across as arrogant but hid a deep-seated uncertainty. How Jace knew this, he had no clue and didn't much care, heat beginning to pool low in his stomach. His sexual experience was limited, his father not one in favor of "distractions" of any kind, but he was pretty sure that such a strong reaction would have been unusual even had Jace had dozens of partners.

It was the first time that he was attracted to a man, which was another fact he stored away for later analysis, because right then tall-dark-and-hot looked in his direction. They were too far apart for Jace to make out any details without activating his farsighted rune, yet somehow he knew without a doubt that the stranger was staring at him with the same disconcerting hunger Jace felt.

Not stopping to think, Jace began to make his way across the dancefloor, not once looking away from his target. The other man didn't move from his spot, but neither did he break eye-contact, a flush working its way into his cheeks. The pull Jace had been feeling from the moment he'd first seen him, became stronger the closer he got, and by the time he reached him, his skin felt as if it was buzzing.

Coming to a stop, he was right in the other man's space, close enough to feel the heat radiating from him, too close for most people's comfort. However, there was no such thing as too close, and neither one of them moved away. Hazel eyes were locked on Jace's with an almost defiant stare, flicking down when Jace licked his lips.

"Hi," Jace said hoarsely. "I'm Jace."

"A… Alec," was the response, the voice dropping an octave, sending a tingle down Jace's spine. They still weren't touching, and suddenly that seemed unacceptable. Without thinking, Jace lifted his hands and slid his palms across Alec's chest. He felt him stiffen under his touch, but once again he didn't move away, maybe even leaned into it a little, asking in a near-whisper, "What are you doing?"

"Honestly?" Jace cleared his throat. "I have no idea. Tell me if I'm out of line, Alec."

"No." Alec shook his head, a determined set to his jaw, and Jace bit back a groan when he felt strong arms come up and pull him even closer. "Jace…"

And then they were kissing. Jace had to tilt his head upwards, which felt strange for a split second, before it became the most natural thing in the world. Every synapse in his head was firing, sparks of pleasure racing through him as he pushed his body against what felt like a wall of solid muscle. Alec was as in shape as Jace himself, and Jace had to fight the urge to climb his tall frame.

He settled on grinding against Alec's strong thigh, and Alec groaned into his mouth, deepening the kiss until it took on an edge of desperation. It was intoxicating, as was the unmistakable line of Alec's hardening cock that he could feel even through their clothes. He was just as hard himself, and when they had to break away to catch their breath, he lifted himself to his tiptoes and whispered into Alec's ear, "Let's get out of here?"

"Yes, please." A wry smile transformed Alec's features, making Jace's fingers twitch with the urge to trace it. Instead he carded his fingers through silky dark hair and leaned in for another kiss. As before the world disappeared in the aggressive meeting of lips and tongues, and a small voice in the back of Jace's mind chastised him for ignoring his surroundings. It sounded like his father, and he suppressed it easily, the feeling of Alec's hands traveling down his back overwhelming any qualms.

"Then let's go. No reason to give everyone a floor show." Tearing himself away, he gave Alec a cocky grin and offered him his hand. Alec's fingers were long and as strong as the rest of him, and Jace could feel unfamiliar callouses but also the same bone-deep sense of rightness, as if a part of him recognized something in Alec. His very blood seemed to call out to him, and from the slightly puzzled look in Alec's eyes as he looked down at their clasped hands Jace wondered whether he felt it, too.

Which was ridiculous, because Alec was a mundane and had shown no sign of even having the Sight. Therefore Jace dismissed the thought and focused on winding his way out of the club, Alec's hand secure in his. They didn't let go of each other even after stepping outside into the cold night air. For the first time, however, awkwardness settled over them, Alec avoiding Jace's eyes, teeth digging nervously into his lower lip. It was endearing, actually, and with a wry laugh Jace asked, "So. Come here often?"

Startled eyes flicked back to his, a small chuckle escaping Alec. "Not really. I just… wanted to see what it's like. You?"

"New in town." Jace shrugged, distractedly trying to decide where they could go. He was squatting in an abandoned building, which suited him well enough but wasn't exactly somewhere he wanted to take Alec. "Say, you don't by any chance live nearby?"

"N… no." Alec's response was obviously a lie, and Jace narrowed his eyes at him. Flushing guiltily, Alec amended, "Actually, I'm not… they don't know about me."

He looked so conflicted, Jace's heart went out to him, and he tightened his grip on Alec's hand, using it to pull him closer. Cupping his cheek with his free hand, he said softly, "Hey, it's fine."

A grateful smile lit up Alec's face, and he pressed a gentle kiss to Jace's lips. At least it was supposed to be gentle, but the moment their lips touched, the simmering heat that had never quite dissipated burst into open flame again. Groaning, Alec deepened the kiss, and Jace wrapped his arms around Alec's neck and responded in kind. He'd never been kissed like this, with such single-minded determination, so much coiled strength just waiting to be unleashed, and it was entirely intoxicating.

Glancing around them, Jace spotted the entrance to a dark alley behind the club and extricated himself from Alec's embrace with one more lingering kiss. Immediately picking up on Jace's train of thought, Alec smirked and nodded before grabbing Jace's hand and pulling him into the shadows.

The moment they were out of sight, Alec was back on him, hot mouth against Jace's neck, nimble hands working their way under his shirt, and Jace groaned as he hit a wall. Stopping his onslaught, Alec shot him a worried glance, which Jace quelled with a decisive shake of his head and a breathless "Don't stop!"

For emphasis he slung a leg around Alec, hitching him closer, close enough for their erections to rub against each other, making them both gasp. All hesitation gone, Alec slid his hands under Jace's ass, actually lifting him up, swallowing Jace's delighted laugh with another heated kiss.

They rocked against each other, the friction almost driving Jace out of mind, and he grabbed Alec's shirt and pulled at it, wanting, needing to get his hands on naked skin. In order to do so, Alec had to put him back down, and Jace unbuttoned his shirt and slid his hands over hot skin, watching Alec's abs ripple under his touch.

"Fuck, you're hot!" he exhaled, biting his lip. He wished they were somewhere where he could explore Alec properly, not in an alley much too public and dirty to even think of undressing. He desperately needed more, however, couldn't possibly wait for a better time or place, so he lifted himself onto his tiptoes, fusing their mouths back together. Then he maneuvered them around in one decisive movement, hearing Alec's back hit the wall with a dull thud, but neither one of them paused. Alec's hands were worming their way under his t-shirt, every touch feeling like a brand, and Jace shivered, almost losing sight of his intentions.

With one last kiss he tore himself away. Alec's sound of protest turned into a moan when Jace dropped to his knees and unzipped his jeans. Glancing up through his lashes, Jace gave him a cheeky grin before redirecting his attention to the cock he'd just freed. It was curving upwards in a hard line, drops of pearly fluid gathering at the uncut tip and, after taking a steadying breath to calm the nervous arousal coiling tightly in his stomach, Jace wrapped his lips around it.

He'd never done this before, but he figured it couldn't be all that difficult as long as he kept his teeth covered. From the noises Alec kept making and the feeling of his fingers holding tightly onto Jace's head, it seemed he was doing alright, and when he looked back up, his breath caught at the fire in Alec's eyes, which were locked onto him. Moaning around the weight in his mouth, Jace reached down with the hand not wrapped around the base of Alec's cock to free his own straining erection.

It was a clumsy handjob, focused as he was on sucking off Alec as best he could, but Jace could feel himself hurtling towards his climax nevertheless, completely caught up in the intoxicating feeling of making Alec lose control. The pull on his hair was bordering on painful, but Jace relished it, making encouraging sounds when Alec pulled back with a breathless apology.

"Fuck, Jace, I'm..." Alec warned, meeting Jace's eyes with a red face, his hair mussed, pupils blown, and Jace had never seen anything so beautiful. He nodded, breathed in and took Alec in as deeply as he could, and with a hoarse shout Alec emptied himself down his throat.

Jace coughed and had to pull off, exhilaration cursing through him, like an echo of Alec's orgasm, pulsing through his body and pushing him over the edge as well. The world whited out, and he was barely aware of his head falling forward against Alec's stomach, his fingers digging into thighs that were quivering with the effort to keep standing.

"Angel…" he whispered when he regained his faculties, becoming aware of Alec's fingers carding gently through his hair. When he looked up, Alec's face shone with the same mix of awe and astonishment. Clearing his throat, Jace added more loudly, "That was… something else."

Alec nodded mutely, visibly shaken, and helped Jace to his feet. They stood staring into each other's eyes for a long moment, before he gathered himself enough to ask, "So it's not always like this?"

"God, no!" A startled laugh escaped Jace, and Alec's lips quirked in a rueful grin that Jace simply had to kiss. Remembering what he'd just swallowed, he blushed and pulled away quickly, apologizing awkwardly, "Sorry, didn't mean to..."

The next moment he was grabbed and kissed, deeply and thoroughly, and after a second's surprised flailing he slung his arms around Alec's neck and let himself melt into his embrace. When they came up for air, they remained wrapped around each other, and Jace could feel Alec's laughter rumbling through his chest. "I should be the one to apologize - after all, you did all the work."

"I'm not complaining." Jace was smiling so hard his cheeks hurt. "Next time you can do me."

Realizing how that sounded, he flushed but held Alec's gaze in a challenging stare that was met head on, Alec's voice only breaking a little when he replied, "Next time, huh? I'd like that."

"Maybe we'll even manage to get naked," Jace teased, feeling as if Alec's arms were the only thing stopping him from floating away. The emotion was so strong, it should have scared him, but just like everything else that night, he couldn't bring himself to believe that something that felt so good, so right could be a threat. Still, he breathed in deeply and said soberly, "Alec, this is going to sound weird but… do you know anything about the Shadow world?"

Alec's sharp intake of breath and the widening of his eyes were all the answer Jace needed, even before Alec took a step back, suddenly on the alert. The way he stood, legs slightly apart, hands hovering by his side, ready to spring into action, told Jace even more, because it was like looking into a mirror.

"How… who are you?" Alec asked wearily, and Jace almost wished he'd been wrong and they could go back to a minute ago. But he hadn't been raised to stick his head in the sand, and he could feel with every fibre of his being that this was important. "I should have known that you're not a mundane."

"No, I'm not," Jace replied apologetically, and, keeping his hands in full view, he took out his stele and unglamored himself. "But then, neither are you."

Alec blushed and shook his head, taking out his own stele. The unmistakable patterns of runes appeared, starkly black against his skin, and Jace wondered how he could ever have mistaken him for anything but what he was - a warrior, a Shadowhunter. Which meant…

"We're parabatai, aren't we? That's why I was called to New York, that's why all of this happened." Jace was almost talking to himself, but Alec's eyes widened as realization set in.

He approached Jace cautiously, and Jace had to stop himself from flinching away. He made a conscious effort to relax his guard, and when Alec's palm came to rest over his heart, warmth spread through him from the point of contact. Alec could feel it, too, he could tell, even before he said in an awed tone of voice, "Parabatai... I always thought I was imagining it, that everyone walked around feeling as if they're incomplete."

Repeating Alec's gesture, Jace could feel his heartbeat, a perfect mirror of his own, and it was like discovering a new country and coming home all at once. Blinking back sudden tears, he stated firmly, "Not anymore, though."

"No, not anymore," Alec repeated, and then they were kissing again, at first a tentative brushing of lips that turned into a kiss as slow and sweet as molasses. When they separated, they were both smiling again, full of wonder, their hands still trapped between their bodies, their souls singing in recognition. Then Alec gathered himself, although Jace could still see the warmth dancing behind his eyes, even as he said reluctantly, "If we want to make our soulbond official, we'll need to go to the Institute." He hesitated and added, "My parents are Heads there. Maryse and Robert Lightwood."

"So you're Alec Lightwood?" Jace smiled a little, despite the feeling of foreboding in his stomach. "I like it, it suits you."

Alec's smile was similarly weak. "Alexander Gideon Lightwood, to be exact. And you are?" Obviously recognizing Jace's reluctance, he squeezed his hand. "Jace, wherever you're from, whatever you've been through, I'm with you. Don't ever doubt me, parabatai."

"I don't." This time the smile came easier, and Jace allowed himself to lean into Alec's warmth, taking strength from him. Already he trusted him more than he'd trusted anyone in his life, and he couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like when they'd gone through the parabatai ceremony. "You're the other half of my soul. But you have to know the full story before you decide to bind yourself to me for good."

Alec opened his mouth to protest, but Jace shut him up with a look and began slowly, "My full name is Jonathan Christopher… Morgenstern. Son of Valentine Morgenstern."

It was the first time he'd said it out loud, and for a moment his father's face swam before his eyes. He blinked and focused again on the man who was still holding him, a tower of strength despite his shocked expression. His parabatai, his soulmate.

Whatever destiny his father had imagined for him, Jace was going to forge his own fate - and he wouldn't do it alone. Jace smiled at Alec and continued his tale, confident that, no matter what happened, they would face and overcome it together.

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