things you said when you were crying

Author's Note: Tumblr prompt mini-fic requested by anon. I'm afraid I accidentally wrote the wrong one - it was supposed to be things you said when i was crying. So there'll be a second part of parabatai crying, that one probably with actual slash. 🙂

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Jace didn't cry. Not that Alec himself was someone prone to emotional outbursts, but wasn't it almost expected for children to cry when their parents died? Alec was certain that Max and Izzy would cry should something happen to mom and dad, and when Alec tried imagining such an event the pricking of tears behind his lids made him suspect he himself might do so as well. Only where no one could see, of course, because he would need to be strong for his siblings. Was that what Jace was doing? Find an isolated spot somewhere to cry for his father?

The thought made something inside Alec clench in painful sympathy. Jace hadn't been in their family for long, but a part of Alec couldn't stand the idea of the other boy struggling, hiding his grief. The fierceness with which Alec realized that he wanted Jace to trust him enough to let him help took him by surprise. Especially considering the resentment he'd felt when his parents had decided to take in the son of his father's old parabatai, even if the sheer force of Jace's personality and his undeniable skills as a fighter had soon turned Alec's misgivings into admiration and something very much like awe.

Jace always seemed completely in control, everything coming to him with an ease that Alec couldn't find it in himself to resent. Not when Jace would turn to Alec with that smirk on his face, cocky and self-assured, and make him feel as if they were on the same level, as if Alec was someone worth seeking out. The idea of Jace with his sunrise smile suffering in silence made Alec almost angry, and he found himself watching Jace out of the corner of his eye, sleeping lightly in hopes of either convincing himself that Jace was indeed as fine as he appeared to be or finding a way to help him somehow.

Still, when he woke one night to discover Jace's bed empty, Alec lay there frozen in indecision for a long moment before setting his shoulders and sliding out of bed, padding through the deserted hallways of the Institute. He moved silently, on bare feet, his ears straining for any signs of where Jace might have gone. A half-open door caught his eye, and Alec realized that without conscious thought he'd already been moving in the right direction. Where better to go if one wanted to be alone than the roof, after all?

His intuition was proven correct when he spotted the silhouette of a ten-year-old boy perched on the ledge. Jace was hunched over, arms slung around his knees, and while Alec could hear no sound there was no mistaking the tremors running through the usually so sturdy body. Suddenly Alec felt like an intruder - would Jace resent him for interfering? He hesitated and had almost convinced himself to turn away when Jace's voice pierced the stillness of the night.

"What do you want, Alec?" His voice was rough with tears, but it held no anger, only a weariness that pulled at Alec's heart, and without thinking he stepped forward until he was by Jace's side. The younger boy's shadowed eyes were dark like bruises and were watching Alec vigilantly, almost fearfully. "Just… leave me be. And please, don't tell anyone!"

"Of course not." Decisively shaking off the trepidation that had rendered him speechless, Alec sat down next to Jace, close enough to feel the tension radiating off him. Jace regarded him wordlessly for a long moment, then turned his face away, resting it on his knees as he stared into the night.

Alec wavered, wondering whether he should go after all, but then Jace began to speak, voice barely more than a whisper: "He'd be so ashamed of me. He always said I was weak, that I let emotions cloud my judgement, and I'm just proving him right."

"What? Jace, no!" Alec's anger took them both by surprise, as did the gentleness with which he added, "He was your father, it's okay to miss him. And for what it's worth, no one can tell. Everyone is really impressed with you, they're saying you'll be the best Shadowhunter of our generation."

"You could tell, though." At some point during Alec's speech Jace had turned his head, and Alec could see the tears still glistening in those mismatched eyes, although his voice was carefully neutral.

"Well, I… I guess I pay more attention." Grateful that the night hid the blush he could feel rising, Alec added in an embarrassed mumble, "You're family now, Jace, and I look after my own."

Jace's eyes widened, and for once he looked his age, young and innocent. Then two strong arms wrapped around Alec and pulled him into a tight hug. Surprised, Alec stiffened for a second, then he returned the embrace just as tightly. Face hidden against Alec's neck, wetting it with tears left to run unchecked, Jace clung to Alec and sobbed, unrestrained, trusting. Alec gently stroked his shaking back, cheek pressed into tousled blonde hair, and felt as if he'd been given a precious gift.

Finally, Jace calmed down a bit, but he didn't pull away immediately, just lifted his head, and Alec was surprised by the determined look on the tear-streaked face as Jace declared, "You'll have to show me how, but you're mine, too, Alec."

It felt like a vow, and Alec blinked back tears of his own, something deep inside of him uncurling, warm and possessive. Leaning against each other they sat on the roof until sunrise, two boys with the world at their feet and their future stretching in front of them, inextricably linked.

***

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