Forever Parabatai

Remedy

Breaking my promise to Alec was about as easy as walking barefoot through a puddle of broken glass. I carefully pried his fingers loose of mine and walked around the bed, my eyes fixed on my parabatai. Every step I took widened the hole singeing my gut. Only when I passed through the infirmary doors, positive Alec was still resting, did I turn away, reaching for the phone in my pocket.

My mind was whirling, ablaze with a million thoughts and questions. I scrolled through my mental list of insulting names, debating which one to call Magnus first. I looked up as my fingers closed around my cell and stopped dead in my tracks.

The warlock was sitting on the floor farther down the hall, his knees drawn up and his forehead resting on his folded arms, hiding his face. I started towards him slowly, as if approaching a frightened animal.

"Magnus?"

When the warlock remained inert, I seated myself beside him, legs crossed and thumbs twiddling in my lap. I scoured my brain for words of comfort. Magnus was an enigma; I had no idea which emotions were swirling in his glittery head. Relief? Anger? Hurt? Envy? How could you ease the pain when you couldn't find the wound?

I cleared my throat. "Thank you."

Magnus was still for a moment longer before turning his face towards me. His eyes were dull, exhausted, and the color had drained from his face. He looked...wrong, as if the wildness that had once roared inside of him had not been tamed, but savagely broken. The brutality of Alec's distress had taken its toll.

"Thank you for saving Alec."

Magnus leaned his head back against the wall and whispered, "He died."

"And you brought him back."

"But why?" Magnus asked. "I want to believe that it was because you were begging me to, but I truly think I only brought him back for my own selfish reasons."

"Love is selfish," I murmured.

Magnus's voice was hushed, "Do you think it would have been better if we'd just let him go?"

"No," I said firmly. "And don't even bother bringing up the 'ending his suffering' crap. I'd rather wait as long as it takes to see Alec recover and live happily for another seventy years than put him out of his misery, and if that makes me egoistic then spank my sculpted ass and call me selfish."

"I'm not partial to spanking."

"Then you're welcome to kiss my magnificently sculpted ass."

Magnus chuckled, visibly relaxing. "You certainly have a way with words, Jace Herondale."

"Along with a couple other God-given gifts below the belt." When the warlock shot a look at me, I raised my hands. "What? My knees are fabulous. Very symmetrical and sexy. And bendy."

Magnus rolled his eyes, though not without a small grin. "Keep it in your pants, Shadowhunter."

I picked at an invisible stain on my gear. "You're not going to leave him, are you?"

"I don't know," Magnus sighed. "I suppose it would be rather rude of me to walk away without discussing it with Alec."

"It would be very rude, indeed," I agreed.

"Is he still asleep?"

I pushed myself to my feet and dusted off my hands. "As far as I know."

"Good. I'll finish healing the rest of his wounds."

I offered my hand to Magnus and gave a sharp tug when he accepted it. The warlock brushed off his backside, but froze when he noticed me staring at him, his brow furrowing.

"Thank you for saving Alec's life, Magnus," I repeated.

He inclined his head. "You're welcome."

I rubbed the back of my neck. "I think common protocol suggests that this is the part where I hug you."

Magnus's face scrunched up, as if the thought made him feel awkward. He reached out and patted me on the head, three light, tentative taps. "Will that suffice?"

"Hell yes," I said, starting for the infirmary.

Magnus was in close pursuit. We separated at the foot of Alec's bed, one of us standing on either side. The warlock pressed the back of his hand to Alec's forehead and inspected my parabatai's elbow.

"His fever's gone down, and the discoloration in his veins has receded."

"So the demon blood poisoning is gone?" I queried, hopeful.

Magnus brushed his fingers against the puncture site on Alec's neck. "Not quite."

"But you said--"

"His fever is still too high for there to be no infections present," Magnus interrupted. He pointed to the soiled bandage on Alec's shoulder. "Take that off, would you?"

I leaned over and delicately began peeling the tape from my parabatai's skin, falling completely still when Alec moaned in his sleep. Magnus quickly knocked him out with a spell and returned to the gash in Alec's bicep, muttering an incantation while the flesh began to stitch itself back together. I stripped the remainder of the tape away and lifted the bandage, gagging as the foul sight and smell of the wound assaulted my senses.

Magnus grimaced. "There's the trouble maker."

The stab wound was deep, the surrounding flesh and skin mangled and lacerated, as if someone had twisted a blade that had been buried to the hilt. The dark bruise was speckled with spots of green, yellow and red, and the metallic odor reminded me of rotten meat. I imagined the look on Sebastian's blade as I shoved my own knife into him, watching the blood bubble in the corner of his mouth as I twisted it slowly...

"Jace," Magnus said, snapping me out of my reverie, "wrap up the cuts on his wrist while I work on his shoulder."

I grabbed some supplies from the pile stacked on the next bed over and, after applying a layer of antibiotic gel to the cuts, began wrapping clean white bandaging around Alec's wrist. I added a couple layers before securing the ends with medical tape and stepping back to admire my handiwork. Magnus was still working on the stab wound, his eyebrows knitted together and sweat beading on his forehead. The hole began to close, albeit rather sluggishly. Magnus let out a breath and moved his hand away. I stared at the lightened bruise and faint scar that remained, bitter memories.

"Are you all right?" I asked, concerned when the warlock leaned forward on his hands, his head bowed.

"I am extremely drained," Magnus said, so softly I barely heard him.

"Maybe you should take another break," I suggested.

"No." Magnus straightened, blinking away the drowsiness. "I want to finish this now. I'm going to flip Alec onto his side so I can look at his burns. I need you to hold him up."

I braced my hands against Alec's ribcage as Magnus turned him over and assessed the damage. He placed one hand against Alec's shoulder blade and the other at the small of his back. Blue beams of light cast shadows across the warlock's fatigued face as he worked. When the light vanished, he gave me a nod and I slowly let Alec roll onto his back. Magnus moved on to the injuries in Alec's thigh and hip. He covered the wounds with his palms and closed his eyes. The line of his jaw was hard and the lean muscles in his arms bulged as sapphire sparks dripped from Magnus's palm and into Alec's flesh. The raised scars left behind pulsed with silver-blue light long after Magnus moved his hands away.

"You look kind of green," I commented as Magnus stopped to catch his breath.

"And you look like a Twinkie dressed in leather," Magnus snapped. "Just shut up and let me help my boyfriend."

With heart-wrenching gentleness, Magnus pressed his palm to Alec's hipbone and slowly dragged his hand upwards, following the diagonal slash that reached up to Alec's shoulder. The healing effect reminded me of a zipper; the top portion of the cut remained open while the bottom half healed shut as the warlock's hand passed over. The light under Magnus's palm faded when he reached Alec's shoulder, but he did not pull his hand away. Instead he traced his finger back down the scar as it pulsed with a white glow. He then glided his fingers across Alec's bare stomach, smiling faintly when the tickle of his feather-light touch made my parabatai twitch.

"There's nothing more I can do until I've had some rest," Magnus said, his eyes never leaving Alec's face.

"My room is just down the hall," I offered. "I'll be sleeping in here tonight."

"Thank you." Magnus pushed Alec's hair back from his forehead. "If he's in any pain when he wakes up, come get me."

"Sure."

Magnus leaned in closer to Alec's ear and whispered, "I love you."

I turned away as Magnus pressed his lips against Alec's, giving him some privacy. After trailing his fingers down Alec's cheek, Magnus turned and bent down to pick up the leather jacket still laying on the floor.

"Magnus," I called after him, before he could leave. "Don't do anything weird in my bedroom."

"And what classifies as weird?"

"Sleeping naked in my bed, trying on my clothes, using my toothbrush, those sorts of things."

"Sweetheart, I would never be caught dead wearing anything from your wardrobe." He winked. "And there are no guarantees that your pillows will be drool-free when I wake up."

When I was alone again with my parabatai, I grabbed a chair and a blanket before switching off the infirmary lights and seating myself beside Alec's bed. Using my witchlight to see, I draped the blanket over him and settled back into my chair. Exhaustion tugged at my eyelids as I watched over him. Before long, I joined my brother in a dreamless slumber.

~*~

"Jace!"

Alec's scream lurched me back into awareness. I sat bolt upright in my chair and my witchlight flared to life. Alec was sitting up in bed, breathing hard, the blanket twisted in his clenched hands. He was shaking again, and his brilliantly blue eyes were wide with dread.

"It's okay, Alec." I hovered over him like a worried hen. "I'm right here."

"Turn on the lights," he begged.

Slipping my witchlight into Alec's clammy hand, I bolted over to the light switch and flicked on the lights, hurrying back to Alec's side in a flash. His breathing slowed as his fear slipped away with the banished darkness.

He handed me back my witchlight. "Thank you."

"I'm sorry," I apologized. "I thought turning off the lights would help you sleep."

"I don't like the dark." Alec stared blankly ahead. "Not since he put me in the box..."

"I won't do it again," I promised.

Alec turned to me, his face still frightened. "When I woke up and all I could see was darkness, I thought I'd dreamed you rescuing me. I thought I was locked inside the container again, bleeding to death, waiting for whatever twisted plan Sebastian came up with next."

"I will kill Sebastian before he ever lays a finger on you again."

Alec looked unconvinced. He wrung the blanket in his hands. "Jace, I'm sorry."

I gaped at my parabatai, aghast. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm sorry for everything. For running out on you, for getting you caught up in this mess..." He looked at me, his eyes now filled with shame. "For begging to be dead."

"Alec, look at me." I grabbed my parabatai's chin when he refused to meet my eyes. "None of this is your fault. If anyone should have to apologize, it's me. I'm sorry for not being there to protect you."

"You were there. In my head, anyway. I thought about you a lot when I was..." Alec cleared his throat as his voice broke. "I told myself to be strong like you."

"Alexander Lightwood, you have always been stronger than me." I grinned. "And if you tell anyone I said that I will write profanity on your face in permanent marker while you sleep."

The corner of Alec's lips tugged up into a crooked smile. He looked around. "Where's Magnus?"

The question caught me off guard, or rather the calmness behind the question. "He's getting his beauty sleep. Healing you up really took it out of him."

Alec nodded and glanced down at his bandaged wrist. Dropping the blanket, he trailed his fingers down the white material. He whispered something too soft to hear.

"Alec?"

"It's like he knew," Alec repeated.

"Who knew what?"

"Sebastian. It's like he knew." At my flabbergasted expression, Alec clarified, "The day with the...incident...in the training room, when I was back in my room, I put my seraph blade to my wrist. Just for a moment I thought I could control some of the pain, but I couldn't cut myself. I didn't have it in me. But Sebastian did it for me."

"You put a blade to your wrist?" I repeated, too shocked to say anything else.

Alec rubbed his arm uncomfortably. "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

Masking my disappointment, I nodded and changed the topic. "How's your pain?"

"My leg feels weird and my ribs are sore." He shrugged. "Everything else feels kind of tingly."

"That's probably a side effect of the roofie magic Magnus used to keep you under."

"Jace!"

"Oh, I'm sorry. Was that rude? Let me try again." I cleared my throat exaggeratedly. "Some of Magnus's flamboyance must have rubbed off on you."

"That's better," Alec conceded.

"Well, your scars aren't glowing anymore," I observed.

Alec looked down at his chest. "I was glowing?"

"Like a firefly." I paused in thought. "Or a pregnant woman."

Alec laughed, and the sound put me at ease. I sank back into my chair, my smile mirroring his. I laced my hands behind my head and leaned back.

"Do you want me to get you anything? Water?" I asked.

Alec thought for a moment, longing glittering in his eyes, but he shook his head. "I think I'm going to go back to sleep."

"Amen to that." I closed my eyes.

Alec lowered himself onto his back and pulled the blanket over his torso. "Jace? Don't turn the lights out."

I gave him a thumbs up. "It's like I used to tell the ladies: I like it better with the lights on."

"You're gross," Alec teased.

"You love me."

There was a pause. "Yeah. I do."

When I opened my eyes, Alec had already fallen fast asleep. I watched over him, listening to the lullaby of his soft breathing. My hand itched to reach out and touch him, but I refrained for fear of waking him up.

I love you, too.


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