things you said when i was crying

Author's Note: Finally, the promised second part from that prompt meme. Mentions of homophobia, both external and internalised.

***

Alec didn't cry. If there was one thing he'd learned growing up it was the importance of appearing strong, especially when one was on the verge of falling apart.

It had gotten even more important now that his deepest secret was out - or rather, one of them, the one that marked him deviant but not a criminal in the eyes of most Nephilim. Even so people were much quicker to point out any perceived weaknesses, considering them proof that Alec's sexuality was a character flaw, made him lesser than the Shadowhunter ideal. It had taken Alec a long time to stop believing that himself, and in moments like this, when his emotions were threatening to burst out in a flood of tears, he could still hear that familiar ugly whispering in the back of his head.

So he did what he always did: He trained until his arms ached, letting his feelings explode in a flurry of jabs and punches that threatened to unmoor the punching bag, and when that wasn't enough, he took his bow and quiver and went up onto the roof.

There, in the spot that had become a safe haven for him and Jace ever since the latter's arrival from Idris all those years ago, he loosened arrow after arrow into the uncaring night sky, wishing he could as easily get rid off the memories that overwhelmed him. He hadn't slept since the demon attack, because whenever he closed his eyes he saw his own hands rip out Jocelyn Fairchild's heart, felt the demon's ugly triumph soar through himself while he was trapped in his own mind, screaming silently in helpless despair.

He was drawing and shooting faster and faster, desperate to lose himself in the comfort of the familiar routine, but although he could feel his hands beginning to bleed it wasn't enough. His frustration almost made him snap when Jace suddenly appeared in his line of vision. His parabatai was the last person Alec wanted to see right now, with the possible exception of Clary, whose tear-streaked face as she collapsed into Simon's embrace kept haunting him.

"Hey, same side, remember." Jace's words recalled an earlier time, the very first time Alec had laid eyes on the boy whose life, whose very soul would be inexorably entwined with his. Normally the thought brought comfort, but not tonight. Tonight, Jace's words, full of warmth and understanding, felt like the worst kind of mockery. "No one blames you."

"Well, maybe they should!" Alec knew he was being unfair, could feel Jace's sincerity and acceptance through their bond, but he couldn't help it. The wall he'd built around his emotions was precariously thin, and if he gave in even a little bit, he knew with complete certainty that it would collapse and he would drown in the flood of pain and guilt.

He needed to be elsewhere, anywhere but here, where Jace would keep looking at him with a love that made something deep inside of Alec twist painfully, emotions welling up that he'd begun to hope were dead and buried. Activating his surefooted rune, he made to run, to leave his parabatai and the weight of his love behind.

Before he could jump, however, Jace tackled him, pushing him against the ledge and trapping him in an embrace. Ignoring the fact that Alec wasn't responding, just standing there stiffly, arms by his side, Jace hissed fiercely, "Oh no, you don't! You don't get to run away from me, Alec, not until I'm sure you're alright."

"I don't know what you want from me," Alec snapped back, glaring into mismatched eyes that were boring into his with an almost angry intensity. Despite himself he could feel his body instinctively softening, unable to resist his parabatai's closeness, and he forced himself to remain unresponsive. He didn't deserve this, didn't deserve Jace's forgiveness, and if he just resisted long enough, he was sure that Jace would get the message and back off. After all, Alec's hands had been the ones to kill his mother.

Not that that seemed to faze his parabatai in the least, his embrace unrelenting in its tenderness. "I want you to know that I'm here. Whatever you need, I'll give it to you. But I won't let you cut yourself off."

Jace trailed off, and a tense silence settled over them, two stubborn wills waging a battle, until a hiccupping sob rent the night air. It took Alec a moment to realize that the sound had originated from him, painfully torn from his throat, and he turned his head away, not wanting Jace to see him as another sob escaped him. Jace's embrace tightened, hands beginning to gently wander up and down the tense line of Alec's back, breath warm and steady against his neck. "It's alright, it's alright. Remember when I was scared to cry after I came to live here - you said it was normal to cry, and that you would always look after me. Now, let me return the favor, even if it's taken me years."

Alec choked on another sob, arms finally coming up to cling to Jace, drawing strength from his steady presence as the wave of pain, of grief and shame he'd been so desperately holding back swallowed him whole. He remained nearly silent, but his entire body shook and tears streamed down his face, rendering him speechless except for the occasional gasp of, "Sorry, I'm so sorry!"

"Shh…" Alec froze as he felt the unmistakable press of lips against the soft skin below his ear, but he couldn't stop crying, and Jace continued as if nothing untoward had happened, "You can be sad, but don't be sorry. This is what I signed up for, and you won't get rid of me, not ever."

Then Jace released his hold on Alec, but only in order to grasp his head in strong hands, forcing him to meet his parabatai's unwavering gaze. Anyone except Alec would have missed the tiny undercurrent of uncertainty as he stated firmly, "I'm yours, and you're mine. In every way."

And while Alec stared, tears shocked to a sudden halt, Jace leaned in and pressed his lips to Alec's.

***

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