The Morning After

Author's Note: For archiekinzz' Tumblr prompt #23:
I love all your jalec drabbles! Can you write a jalec for #23 things you said the morning after

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"I can't believe we waited this long!" Jace was stretched out on the bed of one of the Institute's guest rooms, completely at ease and relaxed in a way Alec realized he hadn't seen in much too long, possibly ever since Clary Fairchild burst into their lives all those years ago. To Alec, he was the picture of temptation with his sleep-mussed hair and the marks from eager fingers and teeth scattered across his naked body. Alec's hands clenched into fists to stop himself from reaching out again, and he forced his eyes away, focusing on the piles of carelessly discarded clothes forming a trail from door to bed.

As much as he ached to touch, however, instead he picked up his briefs and slid them on, giving his parabatai a pointed look. "You want the list? Because believe me, in the years since I realized that my feelings for you aren't exactly brotherly, I've accumulated quite the long list of reasons why doing anything about them is a spectacularly bad idea."

"So you regret it?" The stricken look crossing Jace's previously so carefree features almost made him apologize, take back his bitter words, but he steeled himself to once again be the voice of reason in their relationship. Alec would always shoulder the burden of saving Jace, even from himself, even if it killed something inside himself.

Gathering every last shred of resolve, he replied sharply, "Jace, even setting aside the fact that we committed a crime in the eyes of the Clave - you remember Clary and Magnus, right? The people we're fucking married to? By being together we broke the two most sacred promises, our wedding vows and our parabatai oath, and I for one don't intend to dishonor myself more than I already have."

His words hit their target unerringly, Jace visibly shrinking in on himself, tears clouding over the striking eyes that had smiled up at Alec only a few minutes ago. Then Jace set his jaw and sat up, visibly pulling himself together, disappearing behind a shell he'd never before needed around his parabatai. Alec hated himself at this moment, both for hurting the man he'd loved for most of this life and because everything he said was the truth.

"You're right of course. I wasn't thinking," Jace finally replied flatly, and he mechanically began putting on his clothes, firmly avoiding Alec's eyes. "I should get going, Clary will be waiting for me."

"Jace…" Alec trailed off, desperately wishing for something to say that would wipe away that dead look. Defeat did not suit Jace Herondale.

Their eyes met, and whatever it was that Jace saw in Alec's eyes made him soften almost imperceptibly. "It's okay, Alec. Last night…" Jace swallowed, his voice trembling before he got it back under control. "Last night after the battle we both needed someone, and we found it in each other. It was a mistake, a beautiful mistake - let's leave it at that, alright?"

A beautiful mistake. Eyes prickling, Alec managed to reply in a half-choked whisper, "Yes, a mistake. But, Jace… I'm sorry if I made it sound like I was ashamed, because I'm not, although I probably should be." Cupping Jace's face in his hands, he pressed one last kiss to the bow of his parabatai's lips. When he pulled away, they both had tears in their eyes, but Alec's voice was steady: "I could never regret you."

Jace nodded with a bittersweet smile that was only a little frayed around the edges. "Facilis Descensus Averno."

Relief washed over Alec as he clasped Jace's hand like they'd done a thousand times before. Already last night was beginning to feel like a dream, a fantasy. He'd had those before, he could live with this one, too.

Alec had always been good at lying to himself.

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