Log in

No account? Create an account

The Scars that Mark My Body (Jace/Alec)

Title: The Scars that Mark My Body
Fandom: Shadowhunters
Pairings: Jace/Alec
Rating: T
Summary: "Even in the middle of all the chaos that surrounded them, Jace spared another thought to the wedding and everything that had almost happened there. It'd been so close; he vividly remembered watching with increasing horror as Lydia had raised her stele to Alec's wrist; remembered the realisation that there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening."
Author's Notes: This takes place somewhere between Magnus and Alec finding Lydia and the discovery that Hodge is the traitor.
Also posted on FF.net and AO3.

For a race that was supposed to be entirely composed of warriors wholly devoted to their cause, Shadowhunters were surprisingly prone to gossip, Jace thought. He'd heard at least five people say Alec's name in their hushed conversations as he passed by, but he supposed that he couldn't blame them - Shadowhunters were half-mundane, after all.

Alec himself was nowhere to be found, though, and it was getting more and more worrisome by the minute. Jace had looked everywhere, but there was no sign of him and, according to Magnus, he'd disappeared right after they'd found Lydia unconscious in Robert's office. In retrospect, Jace could see what had happened. Alec had had two rather unpleasant conversations with his parents (the second worse than the first, if Magnus was to be believed), he'd found Lydia; had realised that she was hurt and that the Cup and Hodge were missing and had then promptly fallen off the face of the planet. If the circumstances were any different, Jace would have left him to hide to his heart's content and until he was ready to face the world again, but as it were, he'd gone on a search for him.

He'd checked everywhere he could think of - up to and including several of the unused guest rooms in the Institute - and there was just one place left that he could think of.

Alec's favourite training room was, rather predictably, also the simplest one. There was nothing inside save for a few benches and a punching bag, but Alec was capable of spending hours there on occasion. Right now, the lights were dimmed and Jace could barely make out Alec's hunched form on the other end of the room. He looked up when Jace walked in and Jace could finally take a good look at him for the first time since the bachelor party.

Despite everyone's assurances before the wedding that Alec looked amazing in his wedding suit, Jace stood his ground - he looked absolutely ridiculous. Formal attire just wasn't Alec's thing and it never had been; he always looked like an overgrown kid forced into a suit by his impatient mother and, as that usually was the case, Alec played the part perfectly. Every time Jace had seen him in anything other than his gear, he'd looked extremely uncomfortable and the wedding had been yet another example of that. And it wasn't just that - all that white and gold made Alec look like death warmed over and made his runes stand out even more clearly.

Thinking about the runes and the wedding opened an entirely different mental can of worms and Jace shuddered as he made his way over to his parabatai.

"Everyone's been looking for you," Jace said instead of a greeting and took a seat. Alec didn't react and Jace patted his back absently like he'd seen Isabelle do so many times. "Hey, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Alec mumbled, hands still cupping his face. "Who's looking for me?"

"Half of the Institute, actually, but I was looking for you too," Jace shrugged. "So are your parents, but I wouldn't blame you for not taking that particular call."

The laughter that left Alec's lips was dark and empty and Jace decided right then that he never wanted to hear it again. "If I never have to talk to Mother again, it'll still be too soon."

For a second or two, Jace felt every fibre of his being heat up as anger raised its ugly head inside his chest. He didn't know what Maryse and Robert had said to Alec to drive him to this state, but he'd rarely seen his parabatai in so much pain. That was the thing about Alec - his parents's disapproval affected him way more than any demon attack ever could and if Jace hadn't been too busy trying to lessen the damage, he'd already have found Maryse to let her know that the perfect little soldier she'd raised was actually a human being in disguise.

Alec looked nothing like a soldier now; in fact, he looked very, very small. Jace had spent years getting to know him and by now knew him well enough to be able to tell what was happening to him at all times. Now was no different: he was closing in on himself, trying to take up as little space as possible, as if if he tried hard enough, the world would just forget that he'd existed in the first place.

"I hate to say it," Jace started gently, "but you can't stay here forever."

"Why not?" That horrible dry humour was back in his voice. "You know, that seems like a great idea. I'm never coming out."

"I'd say it's a bit too late for that," Jace quipped, but his smile died as soon as Alec looked up.

"I was supposed to fix everything," he stressed, his voice full of the tension he couldn't quite express with words. "I was the one who had to fix our family name and this is where I ended up. I'm no better than my parents."

"Your parents used to kill Downworlders to cleanse the world from evil." Jace knew that he was being cruel and that the Lightwoods's participation in the Circle was still a tender subject to breach, but he felt that Alec probably needed a verbal slap to the face in order to pull himself together. "I don't think that kissing a Warlock at your own wedding compares to that."

"That still doesn't count for much, does it?" Alec didn't wait for a response. "What am I going to do now?"

"The same thing you've always done." Jace dragged Alec closer and felt him sink against his shoulder. "In Idris, you'll still be the guy all Shadowhunters want their kids to be like because you follow the rules to the letter. You'll still drive everyone insane by quoting the Codex at them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Nothing's changed, Alec," Jace went on and gripped Alec's shoulder tighter as if he could let him draw strength through the contact. "Not to anyone that matters, anyway, and that's what you should be focusing on, right? You're amazing at your job and you know that Lydia will recommend you in front of the Clave as soon as she gets back to Idris. In a few years' time, you'll be the official head of the New York Institute."

"How is she?" It was the only thing that Alec said to the idyllic picture Jace had just painted and he frowned at the non-sequitur before remembering. Lydia.

"She's getting better," Jace said. "Magnus is still with her and Izzy keeps reactivating her iratze when needed, so they're doing well."

"Good," Alec nodded and Jace could see that he was talking mostly to himself, as if it was a monologue he'd went through a hundred times already. "She'll get better and she'll go home in Idris. It's safer there anyway." He sighed and slumped even further in his place. "This is all my fault."

"How is any of this your fault?" Jace asked, scandalised. He was well aware of Alec's tendency to blame himself for every bad thing that had happened in his approximate surroundings, but this seemed like too much.

"If I'd gone through with the wedding, she wouldn't have been in Father's office at all," Alec said, his eyes hard, and Jace knew that changing his mind was going to be difficult, if not impossible. "And whoever attacked her and Hodge wouldn't have been able to get to the Cup."

"Alec, this is ridiculous," Jace hurried to speak, almost lost for words, before his parabatai had managed to dig himself even deeper. "No one could have predicted that. The wedding was just a distraction; whoever it was, they'd have found a way to the Cup sooner rather than later."

Even in the middle of all the chaos that surrounded them, Jace spared another thought to the wedding and everything that had almost happened there. It'd been so close - he vividly remembered watching with increasing horror as Lydia had raised her stele to Alec's wrist; remembered the realisation that there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening. When Magnus had barged in, Jace had been tempted to stride down the aisle and kiss the Warlock himself. He hadn't been at peace with Alec's marriage even before the ceremony had started, but he'd completely lost his cool once he'd seen the rune Alec and Lydia had to Mark each other with.

Of course, Jace knew that the newlyweds always placed a rune on one another, but he hadn't really thought about it until right then; hadn't thought he'd have a problem with it until someone else's Mark threatened to show up on Alec's skin.

It wasn't just that it was usually him who Marked Alec before battle. It was that, barring Alec's first runes placed on him by his father and by the Silent Brothers, Jace was usually the one to put them on Alec's body. He'd been the one to do most of his permanent runes; the ones Alec always relied on when in battle.

He remembered the time when Alec had asked him to do the deflect rune on his neck. They'd been younger, then, and not as experienced as they were now and Jace had burnt it into his skin far larger than he'd meant it to be. He knew that Alec must have felt it, but he didn't dare mention it until later that day when Alec had seen himself in a mirror. Jace had watched silently as his newly acquired parabatai ran his fingers over the rune that took up the entirety of his neck and ran up his jawline and finally said, "Sorry about that."

"No, it's fine," Alec had assured him immediately and, leaving Jace mystified, had cracked a barely noticeable smile at his reflection. "You did great."

It was years later that Jace had realised why Alec had been okay with something that would irritate most Shadowhunters and that his assurance hadn't been just an attempt to comfort Jace despite his screw-up. Being a Shadowhunter was one of the few things that Alec readily identified himself with and being scarred permanently with a Mark no shirt could possibly hide didn't bother him at all - in fact, it filled him with pride. That, and the fact that the rune was a deflect rune - it didn't just keep his enemies away; it was a glaringly obvious 'keep out' sign, there for everyone to see.

Jace had been the only one who'd ever ignored that warning. Isabelle had, too, but that was fine - she was his sister, and other than that, Alec was Jace's and his only.

The thought was one of the few honest ones Jace had allowed himself tonight and he was disgusted by it - as if placing his runes on Alec's skin would somehow make him his and would keep him away from everyone else - but he couldn't help it. It was something that had lurked in his subconscious ever since the first time he'd placed his rune on Alec's body. Even now, he could recall with astonishing clarity the way the parabatai rune had carved itself into Alec's body under his stele and the way his own body had welcomed Alec in at the same time. Jace had thought himself complete until then, but that same instant had made him realise all of a sudden that Alec's presence on the back of his mind was something he hadn't known he'd missed until it had showed up. Ever since then, he'd always been the one Alec had trusted to place the runes he couldn't draw on himself. And seeing someone else do it – someone who’d only recently showed up in their life, no less – had made him feel oddly surreal; he knew that the situation was entirely out of his control and that it would be irrational (to put it mildly) to ask Alec to stop his wedding because he wouldn’t be able to stand someone else’s traces on him, so he’d kept quiet instead.

Apparently he’d kept quiet too long now, too, because Alec had taken time out of his own misery to spare him a look. “What’s wrong?” he asked and Jace felt a strange sort of powerlessness take over him. Even now, when his world had turned upside down, the first thing Alec could think of was to try and comfort him if something was wrong.

“It’s nothing,” he said, standing up and offering Alec a hand. “I mean it; you can’t hide here forever. Izzy is worried about you. Plus, we need you for the investigation.”

“Of course,” Alec nodded dutifully and sprang to his feet – just the idea of having to assume the role of a leader was always enough to get him going. He still hadn’t let go of Jace’s hand and Jace spared a moment to look at Alec’s wrist, still unmarred by anyone else’s Mark and he gripped it all the tighter as they returned to the outside world.