Side-trip: Which Dreamed It?

Author's Note: Prompt from achiekinzz @ Tumblr:
Jace is switched with the AU Jace from your Rabbit Hole verse, the one in love with Alec/his boyfriend and Show Alec doesn't know how to deal with this not-straight, not-platonic version of his best friend 😉

Title from the last chapter of "Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There".

***

Alec always tried his best to encounter Downworlders without prejudice - however, the obsequious smile the visiting warlock gave Magnus set off warning bells. His suspicions only grew when the gaunt-looking Russian assured Magnus in saccharine tones, “Oh, let bygones be bygones, High Warlock. Our past is ancient history, and I’m truly glad to see that you have found such a sweet Shadowhunter to call your own.”

Much to his dismay Alec had blushed furiously, the whole thing with Magnus still entirely too new for him to be comfortable with such attentions. However, nothing had happened after the warlock left, although Magnus carefully checked all his wards for magical traps, “just in case - Gregori was never the forgiving type, I’m afraid.”

So Alec had gone back to the Institute, halfway convinced that this time his instincts had been wrong. Still, when he ran into an uncharacteristically scared and confused-looking Jace, he immediately thought of Gregori, even before Jace literally threw himself at Alec, crying, “Oh, thank fuck, Alec, you’re here! I don’t know what’s going on, but the whole world has gone mad!”

He was forcibly clinging to Alec, his entire body plastered against him as if he was his lifeline. It was so entirely unlike Alec’s parabatai that Alec found himself instinctively reaching out through their bond, testing it for any disturbance. However, it was there, strong as ever, and through it he could sense Jace’s distress, wild and uncontrolled like nothing Alec had ever felt before. Reacting instinctively, he gathered his parabatai in a tight embrace, trying to soothe him with his presence even as he tried to figure out how to get to his phone so he could call Magnus. “It’s fine. Jace, it’s fine, I’m here.”

Jace was almost hyperventilating, his breath coming in harsh gasps against Alec’s skin, because he was still wrapped around Alec as much as humanly possibly, fingers digging into his shoulders with a desperate strength that was sure to leave marks. However, the next moment Alec was pushed back abruptly, Jace almost jumping away, letting go as if he’d been burned. He stared, wide-eyed, at Alec’s neck, then raking over his arms, fixing on the runes left visible by the dark-blue t-shirt he was wearing.

“You… what the hell are those? I’ve got them, too! Alec, what is going on?” He sounded so betrayed and confused, it hurt something deep inside Alec, who wanted nothing more than to fix whatever had been done to his parabatai.

He reached out, careful and slow, as if Jace was a spooked animal, and explained softly, “Jace, they’re runes. You got your first one when you were eleven, together with me, because you insisted we celebrate our Rune Ceremony together.” He couldn’t help but smile when he remembered the stubborn boy and his own shy pleasure at being thus singled out. However, before Alec had even finished talking, Jace was already shaking his head hard and backing away, clearly about to bolt. Recognizing the signs, Alec quickly grabbed his hand. “What do you remember?”

“Nothing like this!” Jace exclaimed, but at least he didn’t pull away. “Last thing I remember is falling asleep in our bed, then I woke up in this weird place, alone.”

"Wait, what?! Our bed?” Of course that was the part of the explanation Alec’s brain got hung up on, although rationally he knew there were more important issues to consider.

Now Jace was staring at him again as if he’d lost his mind. “Yeah? We moved in together last month.” Something like understanding dawned in his eyes, so familiar and yet strangely different. “But we didn’t do that here, did we? This isn’t my world, and you’re not my Alec.”

Alec shook his head slowly. “No, I don’t think so. You’re definitely in my Jace’s body, though.” He unconsciously touched his parabatai rune, reassuring himself. “That damn warlock must have switched you somehow!”

“I… Warlock?! Please tell me you’re kidding! This has got to be a dream...” It was so weird to think of Jace as a mundane, but that was obviously what he was, even the idea of magic freaking him out. His nails were painfully digging into Alec’s palm, reminding him that they were still holding hands. However, since the contact seemed to calm Jace down, he couldn’t bring himself to let go.

Instead he tried to explain their world as simply as he could, not going into too much detail, since hopefully Magnus would soon fix this mess. Jace didn’t look particularly convinced, however, so in the end, Alec let go of him in order to lift both their shirts up, revealing their matching parabatai runes. “Even if you don’t believe me, you must feel that we’re connected, by more than friendship! It’s a special bond between warriors that binds us together.”

“Warriors? Is that what we are here?” Jace lifted his hand, but instead of touching his own mark, his palm came to rest warmly on Alec’s skin, making him flinch. Forcing himself to remain still, Alec consciously relaxed into the touch, fighting to suppress a shiver when Jace traced the black lines gingerly. Finally he half-whispered, “It sounds completely crazy, but you’re right, I can feel it.” His eyes found Alec’s, full of wonder. “I can feel you.”

Right hand still resting on the parabatai mark, Jace’s free hand came up as if to initiate another hug, and Alec leaned in willingly. However, the next moment blunt fingers curled against the nape of Alec’s neck, pulling him in, and then Jace’s mouth was on Alec’s, slow and intimate, as if they’d done this a thousand times. Maybe that was why Alec found himself responding in kind, falling into the kiss, hands sliding around Jace’s middle, pulling him closer. It was the touch of Jace’s tongue against the seam of his mouth that snapped Alec out of the dream-like state he’d slid into. With a startled curse he jumped back, hand covering his mouth as if he could take back what had just happened. As if he couldn’t still taste Jace when he licked his lips.

Jace reached out, obviously wanting to soothe his distress, but Alec stepped back, fighting the urge to turn on his heel and run. This wasn’t Jace’s fault, it was solely his. He managed a strangled apology, which Jace waved away impatiently, sounding exactly like his parabatai when he said, “I know you’re not my Alec, but I doubt that this constitutes cheating.”

“That’s…” Alec swallowed, gathering his wits. “It’s cheating because we’re not together, me and my Jace. He’s not… like that, and I’m with somebody else.”

He decided not to go into the whole parabatai taboo, figuring it was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The guilt was already crippling enough, only exacerbated by the look of betrayal in Jace’s eyes.

“That can’t be right. Everything else in this insane world I can accept, but us not being together? When I can feel your love here? That's too much.” Jace put a hand against his parabatai rune, and Alec flinched away from the intensity in his mismatched eyes. There had been too many dark, lonely nights during which a younger Alec Lightwood, half-excited, half-scared by his own desires, had dreamed of his parabatai looking at him like that.

He drew in a shaky breath and shook his head, trying to clear it before reasoning, “It’s true, though. And it doesn’t matter anyway. We’ll get you back where you belong, and you can forget this ever happened.”

That got Jace’s attention, although he didn’t look entirely pacified when he asked, “Get me back how?”

“Like I said, I think a warlock summoned you here, so another warlock should be able to reverse the spell.” At least Alec devoutly hoped so.

“Why would you trust a… a warlock if they do stuff like this?” Jace inquired, which Alec figured was a fair question.

That didn’t make the explanation any easier, though. “Magnus is on our side. Also...” Giving himself a mental kick, Alec continued quickly, “he’s my boyfriend. I’m afraid you were caught in the crossfire, someone was using me, and my relationship with you, to get back at him.”

“So you do have feelings for me!” Of course Jace would put two and two together, Alec cursed silently.

Out loud he replied, “Maybe I did, at one point. But I’m with Magnus now, and I would never betray him.” More than I already have, he didn’t add.

“Of course you wouldn’t. You’re Alec.” Jace’s voice was gentle, as were his eyes, and Alec was caught in their pull, unable to resist the sheer depth of love and trust shining so clearly in them. It wasn’t so very different from the way his own Jace looked at him, and he found himself smiling helplessly. Jace held his gaze for a moment, his own smile warm and intimate, then he nodded bruskly and said more business-like, “So, let’s go see your b… Magnus. I don’t want to mess up your life any more than I already have.”

Alec nodded gratefully, resolutely ignoring the way Jace avoided the word ‘boyfriend’ and the subdued silence that settled between them as they made their way to Magnus’ loft. It was weird how walking made it more obvious that this was a different Jace, his movements lacking the fluid grace Alec was so used to seeing. This Jace was no warrior, hadn’t had to learn how to fight from childhood on. Maybe he’d even been spared Valentine’s abuse. And he’d apparently fallen in love with his Alec, seriously enough for them to live together. Alec told himself that the pang he felt at the thought was nothing but nostalgia.

His mood lightened momentarily when the doors to the loft opened and the smiling, if slightly puzzled, face of his boyfriend greeted them. “Alexander, how lovely! But I thought you were spending the night at the Institute… and you brought Jace?”

Magnus leaned in, and Alec stiffened before giving him an awkwardly quick peck on the lips, painfully aware of Jace’s gaze on them. He stepped back, now the focus of two pairs of slightly hurt eyes, and fumbled to explain, “Magnus, that’s not Jace. I mean he’s not my, umm, our Jace. I think Gregori must have done something and switched him out - this Jace comes from a world without demons. Can you get him back?”

“That devious, backstabbing son of a…” Magnus switched to cursing in a language Alec didn’t recognize, throwing his hands up in exasperation. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jace’s lips twitch, amusement at the warlock’s reaction apparently winning out over his nerves for a moment.

It faded quickly, however, and he asked anxiously, “But you can do it, right?” He looked so small that Alec was by his side before he had time to think about it, laying a reassuring hand on his shoulder. This garnered him a grateful look - and two arms sliding around his middle as Jace buried himself against his side. Alec stiffened, but Jace had already released him, jumping back as he remembered that he wasn't allowed to do this. “Sorry, I didn’t think...” he whispered, avoiding Alec’s apologetic gaze.

Alec ached to reach out again, soothe the hurt in those familiar eyes, but he managed to stop himself. Magnus was watching them with a raised eyebrow, and Alec blushed, blurting out, “In his world, apparently we’re... together.”

Tilting his head thoughtfully, Magnus nodded, and Alec appreciated the reassuring smile he directed at Jace, even if it disappeared when Magnus’ gaze landed on Alec. “Jace, I assure you, we will fix this… minor issue. Now, please excuse us for a moment, I need to talk to Alexander.”

Jace nodded gratefully, but when Magnus turned his back to lead the way into the next room, he exaggeratedly mouthed Alexander? at Alec, making him roll his eyes in spite of his sense of trepidation. He carried Jace’s answering smile, small though it was, with him as he followed his boyfriend.

Once the door had closed behind him, he steeled himself and faced Magnus, whose eyes, the only thing betraying his true age, were regarding him with calm understanding. Alec swallowed and squared his shoulders before admitting quietly, “He… we kissed. Magnus, I’m so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you, please believe me.” He ran out of steam and dropped his eyes to the floor, ashamed. In a small voice he added, “I… I love you.”

“Alexander, look at me.” Firm fingers under his chin forced him to obey, although he could have broken free easily. Magnus’ face was uncharacteristically blank, as if he was carefully holding in his emotions, and Alec’s stomach churned when he tried to imagine the pain and betrayal his boyfriend must be hiding. He was so caught up in his guilt that he almost missed Magnus quiet words: “I love you, too.”

Alec’s stared in complete surprise, and Magnus gave him a smile, small but genuine. The warlock nodded with growing certainty and cupped Alec’s cheek. Alec moved into the touch, feeling the first stirrings of hope, which grew when Magnus explained, “I know you love me. I also know that you love Jace.” Alec made to protest, but Magnus shushed him gently, “Shh, let me finish. There are many kinds of love, and the bond between you and Jace is different from what we share. But he was also your first love, no matter what your precious Law says, and now there’s this… him who loves you that way as well. I don’t blame you for getting caught up in the moment.”

Smiling, Magnus placed a small kiss on Alec’s mouth, which was hanging open in shock as he tried to process what he’d just said. Magnus’ smile turned into more of a smirk, and he teased, “Oh, you Shadowhunters are so old-fashioned! Alec, dear, listen to me carefully - I have to go get some ingredients to revert Gregori’s spell. And while I’m gone you have my official permission to comfort that poor, scared version of your parabatai. I like him, he seems much less abrasive than our Jace. So yes, by any means, hold him, kiss him - although I would prefer it if you two refrained from having sex in my home.”

“What?! Magnus, I would never…” Alec actually felt offended that his boyfriend thought he was capable of cheating, betraying him like that. He shut his mouth when he noticed the way Magnus’ eyes danced with amusement, realizing that he was being teased. Taking a steadying breath, he added more calmly, “Alright, I see what you mean, and I’m so very grateful. And I’ll be there for Jace, of course I will, but I’m not sure I’m built that way.”

“Oh, Alexander, I do love you!” The fondness in Magnus’ eyes warmed him all the way through, and he impulsively pulled him in for a long kiss. It was the warlock who broke away, smiling up at Alec. “Just… remember what I said.”

With that Magnus took his leave, but Alec didn’t follow him out right away, needing a moment to collect himself. He heard him exchange a few words with Jace before the front door closed, their voices too low to be understood, and he tried not to worry about what might have been said. Then silence settled in the apartment, and Alec was about to finally rejoin his parabatai when Jace pre-empted him, leaning against the doorframe. There was a question in his eyes, but all he said was, “He’s… quite something, your boyfriend.”

Thinking of Magnus and the grace with which he’d reacted to Alec’s confession, Alec couldn’t help but smile, and Jace averted his gaze for a second, before straightening and forcing himself to smile back. Only someone who knew him as well as Alec could see the edge of sadness to it, and Alec opened his arms impulsively, nodding when Jace’s eyes narrowed. “It’s alright. Really.”

Returning his nod, Jace pushed himself off the doorframe and crossed the room, slowly, as if unsure. However, when Alec met him halfway and pulled him into a hug decisively, he almost melted into the embrace, wrapping both arms around Alec and burying his face against his shoulder. Alec felt himself relax, too, closing his eyes and simply holding on. And when Jace lifted his head and pressed his mouth against Alec’s Deflect rune, it was the most natural thing in the word to lean down to capture his lips in a slow, sweet kiss.

Jace tasted like coming home, like old dreams and long-held secrets, and a deep, deep sense of contentment washed through Alec. He sighed softly, and Jace nuzzled him gently, nipping at his lower lip until he smiled and tightened his hold on Jace, just enough to lift him off his feet a bit. He swallowed Jace’s surprised huff of laughter with another kiss, reveling in how natural this felt, no room for doubt or hesitation in the warm space between their bodies.

The kiss ended just as naturally as it had begun, Jace’s hands smoothing down the mess he’d made of Alec’s hair, both of them unable to stop smiling. Alec offered Jace his hand, entwining their fingers as he led him to the couch. They settled down, curling around each other in a way that reminded Alec of nothing so much as long, dark nights during which a much younger Jace had shown up at Alec’s door, insisting that nothing was wrong but that he couldn’t sleep. Although now Alec was the taller one, they still fit together perfectly, and they sat like that, telling each other in quiet voices of their lives and the ways in which they loved their counterparts, just like their younger selves had talked Jace’s nightmares away.

When Magnus returned, neither one of them felt the need to move apart, Alec giving his boyfriend a warm smile without relinquishing the hold he had on Jace. Magnus’ answering smile hid no shadows, and his voice was light as he announced, “Well, I’ve got what we need. As cute as the two of you are, we’ve got work to do!”

“Cute?! Don’t you mean devastatingly handsome?” Sounding almost exactly like his usual self, Jace pushed himself to his feet with a grin and helped Alec up, letting go of his hand with a slight shrug.

Magnus rolled his eyes fondly. “Po-ta-toh, po-tah-to. Now, let’s get you home.”

Following them, Alec felt a pang of sadness that this strange interlude would end soon. But it didn’t hurt as much as he would have expected; there was no bitter taste of regret in his mouth, only the memory of Jace’s lips against his. His Jace might not love him the way he had dreamed of for so long, but he did love him, in ways this Jace couldn’t imagine, all the way to the center of his soul.

Alec laid a hand against his parabatai rune and exchanged a smile with Magnus.

***

End Note: This was supposed to just be another AU snippet, but it got all long and feel-y, so I thought it'd fit better here, as an official part of this 'verse. I haven't forgotten about poor Rabbit Hole!Jace, though - his story will be told, I promise. 🙂

Series Navigation<< Down the Rabbit Hole… And What He Found There >>

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