Forever Parabatai

Seeing Double

"Damn it!"

I sent the bulky book tumbling from the table to the floor with a sweep of my arm, too frustrated to appreciate the fragility of the ancient manuscript. Anger bubbling inside me, I reached out and snatched the next tome in the pile towered high on the table. My thoughts drifted as I scanned through the text, seeking any bit of information that could be useful for helping Alec. Though I reflected heavily on the impacts the past events had had on Jace and Alec, I also pondered how much pleasure it would bring me to have Sebastian in the room instead of useless books. To subject him to the affliction he'd bestowed upon the young man I loved...To slice him open...To singe his skin...To make him scream over and over...To make the pain so unbearable he would beg for death...To force him to surrender any knowledge about Alec's condition...

I sighed and pushed the sadistic thoughts out of my head. I could not grant Sebastian the satisfaction of believing he was our only hope. No. That little lie would only squash his confidence. After all, Sebastian had not been raised by Silent Brothers, nor did he possess the wisdom one obtained from being alive for centuries.

Fortitude rekindled, I dove back into reading, my eyes skimming every loop, dot, slant and smudge of ink swifter than ever.

~*~

I nonchalantly tossed the remote up into the air and caught it on its descent for what had to be the hundredth time. The chatter on the television did not pique my interest in the slightest, nor did any other mindless activities. I'd borrowed Magnus's laptop to surf the web, and when that did not diminish my boredom I started a game of solitaire, only to give up half way through the game.

I was still puzzled as to why Magnus brought me back from the Institute in the first place. Aside from his vague -- and confusing -- explanation that it wasn't safe, he hadn't told me anything. Ever since we'd gotten back he'd locked himself inside one of the guest rooms while I was forced to endure hours of being bored stiff, with no one to keep me company but myself. At least if I'd still been at the Institute I could have been productive with my down time and trained with Jace.

Unable to stand it any longer, I got up from the couch and stretched, my joints popping in protest. I walked through the living area and down the hall towards the closed door of one of the guest rooms. Through the wood of the door I could faintly hear the shuffle of pages being turned from time to time. Hesitantly, I reached up and knocked softly. When the room went eerily quiet I rapped on the door again.

"Magnus?"

No answer. I tried the knob, and my heart sank to find that it was locked. I leaned against the door frame and twiddled with my fingers.

"Can I come in?"

Silence.

Defeated, I pressed my forehead against the door and closed my eyes, imagining Magnus on the other side, his palm touching the door where my face would be.

"I was just wondering," I called softly, "if you needed any help. Or, maybe, if you wanted some company..."

Still, there was no invitation to go inside.

"Okay. I'll just get back to doing...nothing." When I turned to leave, I stopped. "Magnus? I don't know if I did something wrong, but I want you to know that I'm sorry."

I walked back to the living room, but not before hearing the muted sigh from behind the closed door. Plopping back down onto the couch, I switched through the TV channels again. I decided on watching the evening news, but more so for the background noise than to keep me occupied. My eyes wandered around the room, drinking in every familiar detail of Magnus's house: the art on the walls, the magazines fanned out on the coffee table, the framed picture of Magnus and I, the blue scarf...

I blinked. The blue scarf, my blue scarf, was bundled up on the floor in the far corner of the room. Moving slowly, as if it was a poisonous snake, I got up and crossed the room. With my outstretched hand I picked it up from the floor, caressing the soft material between my fingers. Another wave of confusion flooded through me. The last time I remembered seeing the scarf was when I'd had it clenched in my hands after Magnus had ended our relationship, a poor means of comfort when I'd been struggling with insomnia. How had it gotten here?

With a shrug, I wrapped the scarf around my neck. Though my scent was dominant, I could faintly smell Magnus. I sighed. Magnus's scent did bring me comfort, but it did nothing to ease my loneliness. As my eyes roamed the room again, I caught sight of Magnus's cell phone. My fingers twitched. Surely he wouldn't mind if I borrowed it?

Making a mental promise not to snoop through his information, I swiped the phone up and deposited myself back onto the couch. My fingers swept over the combination of numbers and I held the phone to my ear, strumming my fingers against my knee nervously as it rang.

Finally, he picked up.

"Hello?"

His voice sounded groggy and drowsy, as if I'd woken him up from up from a cold-induced sleep.

"Hey," I said. "It's Alec."

"Oh, hey." Jace's greeting lacked his usual heartfelt enthusiasm. "What's up?"

"Literally nothing. Magnus is doing God knows what in the next room and I'm dying of boredom."

"That sucks."

My brow furrowed. That was it? No snarky comment? No witty remark? Those two words left me feeling more isolated than before I'd called.

"Wow," I murmured. "I must have really messed up."

Jace sighed. "What are you talking about, Alec?"

"Magnus is pissed at me. You're pissed at me..."

"Did either of us say we were pissed at you?"

I paused. "No, but--"

"That's because we're not pissed," Jace interrupted. "If I was pissed off at you, I'd tell you. It's the Lightwood way. No tiptoeing around anything, right?"

"Yeah..."

"And last I checked, Magnus isn't one for holding anything back. I mean, have you seen his clothes?"

I laughed half-heartedly. "Point taken."

"You're just over-thinking things, Alec," Jace assured me. "Shut your brain off and relax. Read a book, watch a movie, take a bubble bath."

I wrinkled my nose. "A bubble bath?"

"Of course." I could almost hear Jace's grin. "I'm indulging in one as we speak."

"That," I said, "is disturbing."

"Don't judge until you've tried the suds."

"I'll take your word for it."

"You're missing out." Jace cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Alec, but I have to go."

"Okay." I masked the disappointment in my voice.

"Tell Magnus I said to get his ass out of the room and cook you some dinner."

I smiled. "I will. Thanks, Jace."

"Take care of yourself, Alec."

The call disconnected before I could reply. I hung up and stared at the screen. Only five minutes had passed. Who knew how many more hours I was going to spend in solitude...

"Who was that?"

The phone slipped from my fingers and I fumbled to catch it at the startling sound of Magnus's voice. I whipped around in my seat. He was watching me with an amused look on his face, though his mirth could not conceal his obvious fatigue.

"Jace," I answered simply.

Magnus came around to sit beside me, and I scooted over to give him more room. When he held out his hand I placed the cell phone in it, watching him as he studied it quickly before sliding it into his pocket. Magnus draped one arm over the back of the sofa, angling his body towards me.

"I'm sorry for leaving you by yourself for so long," he apologized.

I stared down at my hands in my lap. "It's fine."

Magnus touched my shoulder. "No, it's not. These new...arrangements are just temporary, Alec. I'm just as eager to get back to normality as you are."

I gave him a small smile. "Let me guess. This hurts you more than it hurts me?"

Magnus's face was serious. "Yes."

"Next time I come knocking at your door, can you just politely turn me away instead of ignoring me?"

The warlock's hand slid from my shoulder up to my cheek. "Once again, I'm sorry. I just couldn't afford any..." Magnus lowered his hand to my scarf and gave a gentle tug, "distractions."

My heart fluttered under the heat of Magnus's eyes. "I'm supposed to tell you to make me dinner."

"So demanding," Magnus growled huskily.

I swallowed. "You owe me."

With a devilish grin, Magnus gave the scarf another tug and pulled my body against his.

~*~

I lay on top of the bed covers, my ankles crossed and one hand behind my head as I reviewed the call history on my phone. I relaxed to see the most recent call had, in fact, gone to Jace. I slipped the phone back into my pocket and awaited Alec's return from getting a drink of water. After a round of vigorous activity in the living room and a quick meal, we both agreed to go to bed early. Though my eyelids felt heavy, my desire for the young Shadowhunter had not yet been sated. Sleep was a distant thought.

Darkness closed in behind him as Alec turned off the hall light and strode back into the bedroom. He crawled across the mattress and, propping himself up on one elbow, lay on his side. His cerulean eyes roamed my face and he pushed his fingers through my spiked hair. I caught his hand and brought his fingers to my lips, kissing them gently. I rolled over, trapping him beneath me, and covered his mouth with mine, my tongue dancing with his.

Alec moaned and slid his hands under my shirt. My skin burned under his touch, every nerve on fire. He craned his neck and kissed me harder, greedy. When I tugged on his bottom lip with my teeth, Alec grabbed my shoulders and pushed me over. He rolled with me, landing with his hips straddling mine. Without giving me a chance to catch my breath, he sealed his lips over mine.

A moan hummed deep in my throat. I lifted my hands to explore Alec's body. I slid my fingers across his abdomen, smiling against his mouth as he shivered under my touch. When I trailed my hands around his hips to crawl up his back, Alec reached down and grabbed my wrists, breaking the kiss.

"Please," he panted. "Not my back. The burns..."

"You're perfect, Alec."

I kept my voice reassuring, but I respected his wish. I moved my hands back to his stomach and reached upwards towards his chest. Alec twisted his fingers into my hair and kissed me again, hard enough to bruise my lips. He moved his hands to my hips and moved the focus of his mouth to my throat. I closed my eyes as he kissed a trail down my neck, grazing his teeth against my sensitive skin.

Too lost in sensual gratification, I failed to notice when Alec's right hand slipped away. I failed to see him reach behind his back. I failed to see the darkening of his eyes...

The breath was expelled from my lungs in a gust as an icy pressure punched me in the right side of my stomach just above my hipbone. Alec sat up straight, uncoiling his fingers from the handle of the knife that was now embedded in my flesh. He looked down at me, his eyes black and his face blank. He twitched once and his irises briefly flashed back to blue, but only for a mere couple of seconds.

"Alec," I choked.

His body jerked and he pressed the heel of his hand against his temple, his teeth gritted and his eyes clamped shut in pain. When he lifted his eyelids, his irises were blue once again. His jaw dropped as the sight before him registered in his mind. With a cry, Alec jumped off of me and backed away from the bed, his hands fisted in his hair.

"What did I do?" he whispered.

He repeated the words over and over, a skipping CD. I watched him as he backed into a corner and slid to the floor. He covered his ears with his hands and rocked back and forth, never ceasing the reiteration of the same phrase.

My breaths tore from me, ragged and shaky. My trembling hands hovered by the knife, but the moment my finger grazed the handle, a new burst of fiery pain was unleashed inside of me. Biting back my anguished cry, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. I let my head fall back against the pillow as I found Jace in my contacts and speed dialed his number. He answered on the third ring.

"Portal over here. Now."

I hung up and let my phone fall to the floor. I shifted my gaze to check on Alec, who was still incapacitated in the corner, before turning my attention back to my stab wound. My body shuddered as the shock began to wrap its icy arms around me. The room began to spin. I closed my eyes and began counting out loud, my whispers barely audible over Alec's.

At the sound of a light thud, my eyes tore open. Jace was standing in the bedroom doorway, his hand gripped tightly around a seraph blade. His face drained of color as his eyes fell on me. He glanced at Alec before sheathing his weapon and darting across the room to my side.

"What happened?" Jace demanded, though it was evident he had already guessed.

"He stabbed me," I panted.

"What do you need me to do?"

I took a deep breath. "You have to pull it out. I'm going to need to borrow your strength to heal myself."

Jace reached for the knife but jerked his hands back when the contact made me gasp. I clenched the bed covers in my hands and urged him to try again. I bit down on my tongue as he wrapped his fingers around the handle. My body tensed as Jace let out a slow breath. With a sharp yank he pulled the knife free. I writhed under the eruption of pain. Jace pressed his hand firmly against the wound now gushing dark blood.

"Okay," I grunted, fighting against the throbbing. "Give me your hand."

Jace gaped at me, torn between doing as I said and keeping pressure on the wound. I reached down and pushed his hand away, staunching the flow of blood with my own hand. I took Jace's bloody palm in my own and closed my eyes. A warm tingling sensation crawled up my arm and spread through me. Jace's strength travelled across my body and down my other arm, igniting my hand with a blue glow. I grimaced at the sting of my insides stitching themselves back together, but sighed when the pain ebbed and was replaced with a warm numbness.

When the wound was closed, I released Jace's hand and sat up. The Shadowhunter blinked and wobbled on his feet, but the weakness did not last long. He looked over at me, relieved.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"If he'd aimed higher we would have killed me."

Jace's attention fell back to his parabatai. When he made a move to approach him, I reached out and snagged the hem of his shirt, holding him back. He watched me quizzically as I scooted off the bed and padded over to Alec. I crouched down in front of him and called his name softly.

Alec looked up, still shaking and muttering to himself. Cautiously, I cupped the side of his face in my hand, my heart breaking.

"I'm sorry," I whispered.

Three sparks jumped from my middle fingers. Alec's eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body went slack, slumping forward into my waiting arms. I lifted him from the floor, gazing down in his peaceful face. A light smear of my blood painted his cheek.

Jace approached me from behind. "What are you going to do with him?"

"We don't have a choice." My voice was low, defeated. "We have to lock him up."

I could feel Jace bristle. "You're going to lock him up like some kind of animal? This is Alec, Magnus. We can't."

"He tried to kill both you and me," I whispered. "It's not Alec anymore."


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