Prequel: Adventures Under Ground

Author's Note: A bit of fluff set in my alternate dimension. How did Jace and Alec get together there?
Not a 100% happy with this, but at least I finished something - I've been struggling a bit the last few days.

***

Later, Jace couldn’t really blame Izzy and the others for teasing him relentlessly about being an oblivious fool. Hell, he could hardly believe himself how blind he’d been to what had been right under his nose for years. Still, he honestly hadn’t known that Alec was in love with him, had been almost from the start. And he certainly hadn't realized that he felt the same.

Maybe that was it - the feelings had always been there, so there were no changes for Jace to pick up on. Their parents knew each other from way back, so when Jace moved to New York they quickly became inseparable. When Alec came out to him, shoulders set and fists balled defiantly, Jace simply shrugged. “Dude, it’s not like I didn’t suspect already - I mean, I’m pretty sure the cake Izzy baked for your birthday was supposed to be a rainbow. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, I just want you to be happy.”

And when Alec would inevitably turn up at Jace’s door after the break-up of yet another short-term relationship, Jace had no qualms staying up all night either watching action movies or analyzing in detail why the guy hadn’t been good enough for Alec anyway. “Seriously, though, it’s like you pick the wrong ones on purpose,” Jace was wont to say, slinging an arm around his friend’s ever-broadening shoulders and never noticing the way Alec’s eyes slid away from his at such moments.

Not that Jace himself was faring any better when it came to relationships, although unlike Alec he usually didn’t bother calling his flings that. He liked the way girls smelled, their laughter and the softness of their bodies, but when it came down to it, he’d much rather hang out with the Lightwood siblings. Alec was the one who helped him through his parents’ divorce, the one who distracted him when he got his first tattoo, and his second, who made sure Jace got home safe the first and only time he got drunk on his twenty-first birthday. He was also the one who encouraged him when he daydreamed about owning his own coffeeshop one day, and the one who could make Jace laugh more easily than anyone else. “What do we need girls for? You’re awesome, I’m awesome - together we’re unstoppable,” he’d say and chalk Alec’s blush up to modesty, although humility wasn’t one of his usually so confident friend’s most notable characteristics.

Clary moved back to Brooklyn around the time Jace got Java Jace off the ground. She’d gone to kindergarten with Simon, and Izzy’s eyes almost popped out of her head when he mentioned that he knew the daughter of Valentine Morgenstern. They all became friends almost immediately, although she made it pretty obvious that she would like Jace to be more than that. However, despite finding himself attracted to the pretty redhead Jace hesitated to pursue her, reasoning, “She fits in with us, and I don’t what things to be weird when we break up.”

When?” Izzy’s eyebrows threatened to disappear into her hairline. “Jace, I love you, but you are the worst at relationships, possibly even worse than my dear brother... Just ask her out - I’d love to go on some double dates with you!”

“Don’t badger him, Iz,” Alec injected protectively, and Jace shot him a grateful smile, which turned into a pout when Alec added with a smirk, “She’s better off without him anyway.”

Maybe asking someone out to prove a point to one’s best friend wasn’t the most sensible course of action, but Jace had always been competitive, and Clary reacted with gratifying pleasure. Turned out dating her wasn’t all that different from being friends with her, only with more kissing, and for the first time Jace was starting to think maybe he could do an actual relationship. They did go on a few double dates with Izzy and Simon, and Jace started to suspect that Alec was avoiding them. He didn’t understand why Izzy rolled her eyes at him when he wondered out loud whether her brother was feeling left out, and why Clary’s reply was a wary nod when he asked, “Is it okay with you if I cancel our plans for tonight? I feel like I haven’t seen Alec in days.”

“I get it, you miss him,” she finally said, sounding strangely resigned. Not the words Jace would have used, considering that Alec was only a phone call away, but once he’d heard them he realized their truth. He did miss Alec, missed the way it felt when they were together, just the two of them. Everything seemed easier then, safer, right in a way Jace began to realize no one else managed to make him feel. Certainly not Clary, and the realization struck him like a blow. He was no expert in relationships, but he was pretty sure that wasn’t how they were supposed to work.

Mind in turmoil, Jace found himself calling Izzy instead of Alec. “You love Simon, right?” he inquired in lieu of a greeting, although he already knew the answer before Izzy responded in the affirmative, sounding confused. Rather than explaining himself, he asked what he really wanted to: “If you had to choose one person to spend the rest of your life with, who’d you pick? Simon or Alec?”

“Jace, what’s this about?” Izzy sighed when he simply repeated his question. “Jace, I think you already know the answer to that… You know I love my brother, but if it came down to it, he’d want me to choose Simon, because I’m pretty sure Simon’s my soulmate.” Izzy, not usually one for romantic speeches, sounded completely matter of factly. Then her tone softened. “But that’s not how it’s for you and Clary, is it?”

“No, it’s not,” Jace finally the broke the silence wearily, scrubbing a hand across his face. He knew Izzy was probably burning with questions, but he didn’t have any answers for her, so he just thanked her and hung up. He didn’t call Alec as he’d planned, instead he spent the evening alone, trying to figure out what it meant that he was pretty sure that he’d always pick Alec over anyone else. Despite not sleeping much, he didn’t find any answers, but the next day he broke things off with Clary. He liked her too much to string her along, and hopefully by ending it quickly, before too many emotions got involved, they could salvage their friendship.

“I hope so, too,” Clary responded to his bumbling apology, visibly fighting back tears. When Jace instinctively reached out to comfort her, she pulled away sharply, shaking her head. “Not yet, you don’t get to do that. Jace, you hurt me, you’ll have to give me time.” He’d never admired her more than when she touched his forearm with a shaky smile before walking away. “But we’ll be okay, I promise.”

Jace wasn’t quite sure why, but he didn’t call Alec that night either. On the contrary, he threw himself into work with single-minded focus, ignoring texts and calls from all of his friends as news of the breakup spread. Still, it wasn’t as if they didn’t know where he worked, and three days later, he looked up from the espresso maker to find Alec at the window of Java Jace. His best friend looked exactly the way he always did, casually dressy in a polo shirt and chinos, his hair tamed in a fashion Jace knew for a fact took him quite a long time every morning. His face was carefully blank, which told Jace more about his state of mind than his bland, “Hey.”

“Hey.” Jace swallowed, inexplicably struggling to meet Alec’s eyes, and distracted himself from his sudden confusion by beginning to make Alec’s usual order. A quick glance told him that Alec was watching him do it with the same unreadable expression, and when he thrust the skim-milk salted caramel frappuccino at him, it felt like a peace offering although they hadn’t fought. Alec accepted the drink with a nod, and Jace managed to ask, “How are you?”

“Seriously?” Alec shook his head in exasperation. “I’m fine. I’m not the one who broke up with his girlfriend and then disappeared off the face the earth!”

“I didn’t disappear!” Jace shot back defensively and wiped the already spotless counter. “Excuse me if I needed some time to think!”

Instead of responding in kind, maybe start a fight that Jace realized he was kind of itching for, Alec used his height to reach into the coffee cart and stop Jace’s nervous motions with a gentle hand. “What happened to ‘we don’t need any girls’, ‘together we’re unstoppable’? I’m here for you no matter what, Jace.”

“I know.” Jace met Alec’s warm eyes, some of the tension easing that he’d been carrying around with him since his phone call with Izzy. Maybe all he needed to get some perspective was spending time with Alec, proving to himself that all was normal, just like it had always been. Coming to a quick decision, he asked, “Wanna get out of here? I can close early.”

“Yeah, sure.” A relieved smile lit up Alec’s face, erasing the almost invisible tightness around his eyes, and Jace was suddenly struck with the realization that his friend was beautiful. Stumbling over the word, he checked himself immediately, feeling his face heat up. He fumbled for the key and locked up the cart, grateful for the distraction. However, his hard-won composure instantly evaporated again when he turned around to find Alec standing close enough that Jace could smell the scent of his aftershave. Yet another detail he was pretty sure he’d never noticed so consciously before. So much for regaining his equilibrium… At least some of his inner turmoil must have shown on his face, because Alec’s eyes narrowed. “Jace, what’s wrong? If you’re this cut up over Clary, I’m sure she’ll take you back.”

A harsh bark of laughter escaped Jace. “Yeah, no. I’m not ‘cut up’, and that’s pretty much the problem.” Alec was regarding him with mounting confusion, and Jace shrugged, long years of shared confidences making it surprisingly easy to explain, “I really thought I could do it, Alec, be with Clary for real. But the feelings just… weren’t there.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Alec’s voice was soft, and something inside of Jace weakened, melted. “You’ll find someone, someone you want to be in a relationship with. And she’ll be lucky to have you. Anybody would.”

“Of course, because I’m awesome,” Jace replied automatically, but his focus was on Alec and the naked sincerity in his eyes. They were standing half-hidden by his coffee cart, in a private bubble of their own making, and suddenly Jace knew what he had to do. Staring intently into Alec’s face, he asked quietly, “Can I… can I try something? And if I’m wrong, we’ll chalk it up to post-breakup madness and never talk about it?”

“I… Sure?” Alec’s tongue darted out, and Jace only realized that he’d tracked the movement when Alec’s eyes widened and he swallowed nervously. “Jace?”

Taking a deep breath, Jace nodded, not sure whether it was in response to Alec’s question or to strengthen his own resolve. Then, before he had time for second thoughts, he cupped the back of Alec’s neck with one hand, feeling him stiffen under his touch, and pressed his lips to Alec’s in a kiss that was half bravado and half fear.

He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but one moment he was praying that he hadn’t gone and ruined this friendship, too, and the next Alec exhaled sharply and began to kiss him back properly, thoroughly, as if he was determined to make the most of this. Jace felt lightheaded, drunk on the feel of Alec’s lips, his tongue plundering his mouth, and his bones seemed to turn to rubber. Strong arms wrapped around Jace’s middle and hauled him against a body that was undeniably male, and rather than feeling put off, Jace groaned and clung back just as tightly. He had forgotten how this had started, why they were doing this, his entire body humming with the knowledge that he wanted this, wanted Alec with a fierceness that startled him.

It was Alec who broke away in the end, and for a long moment they simply stared at each other, eyes wild, cheeks flushed, chests heaving, hands dangling at their sides uselessly, as if neither one of them knew what to do with them if they weren’t touching each other. Alec licked his lips, red and kiss-swollen, and Jace almost surged forward again but was stopped when Alec shook his head minutely.

“Jace… What…” Alec looked confused, undone, before taking a deep breath and visibly gathering himself. “What was that? An experiment? Because if you think I’ll be your gay test subject…”

Jace flushed, and Alec’s face darkened, pain blossoming in his eyes. Quickly Jace reached out and grabbed him by the collar, suddenly scared that he would bolt. “No, no - not like that! I just…” He spread his fingers over Alec’s chest, drawing strength from the warmth of Alec’s skin through the fabric of his shirt, and forced himself to meet his friend’s troubled gaze. “You were right earlier - I have been hiding since the breakup. I couldn’t come to you the way I usually do, because in the last few days I’ve realized that maybe my relationships all failed because I was kind of already in one. With you.”

“With… me?” Alec asked faintly, full of disbelief, and under his palm Jace could feel Alec’s heart beat quickly.

Mouth dry, he nodded. “Sounds mad, doesn’t it? But it suddenly all fell into place, all the years of friendship and failed relationships and that I’d always, always pick you. And I needed to… needed to know…”

He trailed off, but once again Alec came to his rescue, his hand coming up to cover Jace’s as the beginnings of a smile started to light up his face. “You needed to know if the physical was there, too, if Jace Herondale, consummate ladies’ man, could get it up for a guy.”

“Not just a guy…” Warmth blooming in the pit of his stomach, Jace lifted his free hand and trailed it along the side of Alec’s face, feeling the beginnings of stubble under his fingertips. Alec shivered and turned into his touch, eyes darkening as they swayed towards each other. “You. I’ve found the someone I want to be in a relationship with, and it’s you, Alec Lightwood.” Their lips were almost touching, but Jace added with a wry half-smile, “If you’ll have me, that is.”

“Really, it’d be rude not do. Considering I’m the reason you dumped your girlfriend and had a sexuality crisis.” Alec’s voice was dry, but his eyes danced and his lips twitched, and Jace wanted nothing more than to trace them with his tongue. So he did, hungrily swallowing Alec’s delighted laugh, thoroughly banishing any lingering doubts either of them might have harbored in regards to his new-found bisexuality. Confidence replacing hesitation, Alec proceeded to push him against the side of Java Jace, his voice low and intimate as he half-growled, “Oh, the things I’ve fantasized about doing to you…”

Jace shivered in anticipation and pulled Alec into another kiss. They had lost time to make up for.

***

Special: Jace & Alec's Instagram accounts
Just a bit of fluff. Created using this template by dekaythepunk @ Tumblr.

Jace's Instagram

Alec's Instagram

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