Oddly Intimate

Author's Note: Snippet set in my Theban Band AU. Clary POV during the parabatai tracking in episode 1x04.

***

Clary could hardly believe it had only been a couple of days since her birthday, the day that had thrust her head-first into this strange, dangerous world of angels and demons. Even her name had changed, and already Clary Fray, aspiring art student, seemed like an entirely different person to Clarissa Fairchild, fledgling Shadowhunter.

If it weren’t for Jace and his unwavering support as they strove to find her mother, she’d feel even more adrift, and she was aware her attachment to him quickly outpaced the short duration of their acquaintance. She had also soon grown to like Izzy, whose warmth and exuberant personality managed to brighten all but the darkest moments. The only one she couldn’t figure out was Alec, a constant, looming presence by Jace’s side, who appeared to dislike her intensely despite going along with their plans and even saving Clary’s life from that vampire in the Hotel Dumort.

Jace had tried to explain it to her back at the cemetery. He’d called Isabelle his adoptive sister, but Alec his… what was it?... parabatai, a concept Clary had trouble wrapping her head around. It appeared to have something to do with fighting, which explained the seamless ease with which the two men did battle, something Clary had noticed right from the start, back at the club.

Which was where they found themselves again now, having tried and failed to convince the warlock, Magnus Bane, to help them. Clary felt utterly drained, despondent, having pinned all her hopes on the man who’d helped her mother steal her memories. What were they supposed to do now?

She stumbled out into the cool night air and dimly heard Isabelle’s worried voice and then Jace, telling her to get moving. She knew he was right, but she simply couldn’t, not right away, needed to find a way to breathe through the pain that constricted her heart first. Then Jace did something glowy with the button Clary had torn off Magnus’ shirt, only to impatiently gesture for Alec to join him.

They clasped hands around the button, standing so close their shadows became one even as light enveloped them, so much brighter than when Jace had tried this… tracking thing alone. Yet another parabatai perk, it seemed, but the intensity with which the two Shadowhunters were staring into each other’s eyes made Clary squirm uncomfortably. They made a striking pair, light and dark, gold and black, and she turned to Isabelle to whisper, “This whole parabatai thing seems oddly… intimate, if you ask me.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Izzy snorted, swallowing a laugh as if Clary had just said something incredibly funny. Right then the glow surrounding Jace and Alec faded, but they didn’t separate. Instead they swayed even closer, as if drawn together inexorably, and Clary almost wasn’t shocked when their lips met in a deep, languid kiss. In her ear, Izzy laughed for real now, “Yeah. They tend to do that after using their parabatai bond - reaffirm it or something, at least that’s what they tell me. I personally think they just want an excuse to make out in public.”

Without breaking the kiss, Alec flipped her off good-naturedly, and Clary realized his posture had relaxed, his entire body curving around Jace’s with the familiarity of long years. He’d obviously needed this affirmation, and from the way Jace’s hands were curled around the back of Alec’s neck, it seemed he felt the same.

Clary shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. No wonder Alec had been looking at her with such dislike. It wasn’t just her life that had been upended - she’d disrupted their lives, too, making trouble and occupying Jace’s time and attention. Now they were taking a moment to reconnect, and she tamped down the small flicker of disappointment that wanted to rise.

“Is it normal?” she asked Izzy, turning away from the two kissing men. “Parabatai being lovers, I mean?”

The Shadowhunter rested a hand on her arm that told Clary she could see right through her, and her voice was gentle but firm. “Yes. It’s not required, but the Clave believes that parabatai who share eros, romantic love, in addition to everything else, are stronger warriors. Have you heard of the Theban Band? They were Greek warriors, 150 pairs of lovers, and they were invincible until Alexander the Great slew every last one of them in battle. You see, no warrior wanted to look weak in the face of his beloved, so they died fighting.”

“And thus endeth the history lesson!” Jace interrupted them with a grin, and Clary looked over to see that the kiss at come to an end, although the two men were still standing side by side, holding hands. Alec was actually laughing, and Clary was struck by how much younger he looked, almost radiating contentment. For his part, Jace was regarding him with so much adoration in his mismatched eyes, it made her wonder how she could have missed it before. There was no doubt in her mind that he would, in fact, die for Alec, that the stories were true, at least where these two were concerned.

Then Jace’s features changed, closed off, and when he turned back to her, he was the same old Jace, the one who’d been her most fervent supporter all along. “Seriously, we should get going, the tracking worked.”

Clary swallowed and refocused. They had to find Magnus if they wanted to get her mother back, that was all that mattered. Jace was already disappearing into the darkness, followed by Alec, the two moving in perfect sync.

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