Forever Parabatai

Tick Tock

"Wait," the warlock said in Alec's quiet voice.

Alec and I both stilled. My blade hung in the air an inch from his back, poised and ready to taste his blood. The warlock shifted her eyes to look over the real Alec's shoulder, to look at me. Before he could turn, I jolted forward and coiled my arm around Alec's throat, squeezing tightly. I pushed the tip of my seraph blade against his back. He struggled against me, but when I tightened my grip on his neck and gave the blade a push, he stiffened instantly.

I nuzzled closer to his ear and whispered, "Nice to see you again, Alec."

I gave a low chuckle as he shuddered in my grip. The fear radiating from him was intoxicating. I watched the side of his face, relishing in the delectable way his already-pale skin had completely drained of color. He was shaking, helpless. At my mercy. But he still held his seraph blade.

I nudged him with my weapon again and moved my lips closer to his ear. "Drop it."

Despite his quavering, Alec kept a firm grip on his seraph blade. Normally defiance annoyed me, but this futile defiance from Alexander Lightwood amused me. I laughed next to his ear, and he, to my delight, jumped.

"For all the screaming and begging I had to put up with last time, this little rebellion is refreshing, Alec."

The warlock stepped forward and grabbed Alec's wrist. Looking him in the eyes, she gave a sharp twist. He gasped and the blade fell out of his hand and into hers. She inspected the weapon with curiosity. With a smirk, she sidled closer to Alec and craned her face towards his, as if she were going to kiss him. Alec wrenched his face away, struggling against my hold. The warlock laughed. I did not know if the thought of two Alec Lightwood's kissing fascinated me or disgusted me. Most likely the latter. The warlock was busy running her hands down the front of Alec's body, thrilled by the way he flinched from her touch. She finally undid his weapons belt and clipped it around her own waist, sheathing the seraph blade. She eyed her would-be twin up and down before snapping her fingers. There was a burst of pink sparks and her clothes mirrored the color and fit of Alec's current outfit.

The warlock looked at me again. "Are you sure you want to kill him?"

"I've wanted him dead since the moment I put an end to his little brother," I hissed.

A splotch of color returned to Alec's cheeks. Was it anger? Hatred? I could almost hear his pulse pounding in his throat.

"There's much more fun to be had by keeping him alive."

"We had fun last time we were together, didn't we, Alec?"

Alec spat out a curse. I smirked and traced the seraph blade up and down his spine.

"Are you open to suggestions?" the warlock asked.

I scowled and rolled my eyes, losing my patience. "Why are you so damned intent on keeping him alive?"

"What is your true purpose for killing him?" she asked, in the rhetorical way one asks what color the sky is.

"He's an abomination and I don't like him." I gritted my teeth. "But mostly because it would devastate Jace and tear him to pieces."

The warlock grinned and cocked an eyebrow. "Wouldn't you rather scar Jace for life?" She noticed my intrigue and continued, "I have a few suggestions. You want to devastate Jace? You want to cause a riot? Keep Alec alive."

"I'll tell you what," I said, my voice threateningly calm. "You heal him in time to bring him back from the dead, I'll listen to your suggestions. Better work fast. Tick tock."

I thrust the blade forward. It severed Alec's spine and pierced his heart, as I knew it would. I looked over his shoulder and saw the tip of the blade protruding from his chest. Alec made a satisfying gurgle as he choked on blood and went limp in my arms. I yanked the blade out and let him crumple to the ground.

"Tick tock," I said again.

The warlock lowered herself to the ground, careful to avoid the spreading puddle of blood and began working on Alec. I stood watching with disinterest. I raised the blade and gazed at the sheen, dark liquid coating the surface. The metallic smell was too alluring; I brought the blade to my lips and swiped my tongue down the length. The warm saltiness exploded in my mouth and sent shivers down my spine. Death had never tasted so good. I licked the rest of the blade clean while the warlock worked on Alec's deceased body.

~*~

One minute I was walking down the street, the next there was a flash of blinding light, followed by a burst of darkness. The next thing I knew I was curled in a ball on the sidewalk, Clary's indistinct voice floating around me. I blinked open my eyes. My body was wracked in spasms against the pain, and it was all I could do not to vomit.

Finally my vision began to clear. Clary was crouched in front of me, her hair a fiery red curtain on either side of her face. A crowd of passersby had gathered around us. Someone was frantically mentioning an ambulance. I managed to use my shaky arms to get into a sitting position. Clary grabbed my shoulders, her green eyes measuring every inch of my face.

"What is it, Jace? What's wrong?"

Every nook and cranny of my body felt singed. Everything hurt. But there was no denying the unmistakeable burn right where my parabatai rune was. That was the core, the source of the pain. My eyes were watering, but whether it was from fear or the white-hot agony, I did not know.

And then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. The pain vanished. So did the nausea. All that lingered was the blistering fear.

I said nothing to Clary. Instead I leapt to my feet and took off down the street. I bolted in and out of traffic, ignoring blaring horns and rude gestures. I weaved in and out of people, paying no heed to the profanities being shouted at me. I bolted towards Magnus's apartment, praying over and over, Please be there, please be there.

My finger pushed against the buzzer frantically. I heard Clary catch up behind me, breathing hard. Magnus, as if sensing our urgency, buzzed us up immediately. We raced up the stairs and I threw open Magnus's door. Clary bumped into me as I froze in the doorway. She whispered my name, and I could feel her peering over my shoulder.

Magnus stood by the sofa, his yellow cat eyes calculating. I stared incredulously at the figure slumped across the cushions. Alec smiled weakly at me. His hair was plastered to his head, and he was shirtless. A towel was pressed against his chest, but I could see the smears of blood painting his fair skin.

I charged into the room and dropped to Alec's side. My fingers brushed against his forehead, which was too warm. His eyes lacked the gleam that reminded me of sparkling ocean waters. He looked exhausted, frail. Gingerly I reached over and lifted the towel wadded against his chest. There was no gushing blood, thankfully. But there was an angry red closed wound on the skin directly above his heart.

"I'm fine," Alec said, his voice hoarse.

"Don't lie to me," I growled.

"It's nothing."

"Nothing?" I cried. "I thought you were dead, Alec!"

Alec sat up, wincing. "It was just a couple of mundanes. They jumped me. One of them pulled a knife."

I blinked. "Mundanes?"

Magnus stretched his leg out and gave me a light kick. "Can you please stop badgering my boyfriend?"

I swatted his leg away. "I'm his parabatai."

Magnus waved his hand and, with a burst of blue sparks, sent me skidding across the room. He gave a satisfied smirk and argued, "I'm his doctor and his boyfriend. My status trumps yours. Doctor's orders."

I got up and dusted myself off. "I think you're abusing your privileges."

Magnus examined his black-painted fingernails. "Make an appointment with someone who cares."

"Make an appointment with someone who cares," I mocked snidely.

The warlock pointed a warning finger at me. "Keep it up, Shadowhunter. I'd love to see what you look like bald."

Alec held his head in his hand. "Will you two please knock it off?"

"Sorry, love," Magnus said, pushing his fingers through Alec's hair.

I approached the sofa again and folded my arms across my chest. I kept my face stoic, though I couldn't mask the skepticism in my voice. "So some random guy just stabbed you for no reason?"

Alec looked up at me. "Isn't that what thugs do?"

"I'm having a hard time figuring out how a mundane got the jump on you."

Alec's hurt expression swiftly switched to one of anger. "Sorry my mind hasn't been in the right place, considering everything I've been through."

Guilt surged through me. "If you're not okay—"

"I am fine!" Alec snapped, then finished more gently. "I just wasn't thinking."

"It's all right, Alec," Magnus said comfortingly, before shooting a chastising glare in my direction.

"You just scared us is all," Clary said softly.

"I was scared, too," Alec whispered.

Magnus suddenly clapped his hands together. "All right. Anyone without black hair must vacate the premises immediately."

I scowled up at the warlock. "But I'm his—"

Magnus began herding Clary and I toward the door. "Parabatai yadda yadda. Alec needs rest, and he isn't going to get it with you two clucking at him."

"Take care of him."

"Honey, don't tell me how to do my job," Magnus said, seconds before slamming the door in my face.

~*~

I idly curled Alec's hair around my fingers as we sat watching TV together. My arm was around his shoulders and he was curled into my side. He'd dozed off a couple times, but it did not take long for him to jerk awake. I wondered which terrors and nightmares were keeping him from sleeping soundly.

He slowly sat up and rubbed a hand over his face. My arm fell from his shoulders as I turned to watch him. He still looked completely drained and his movements were stiff and timid, likely from sore muscles.

"I think I'm ready for bed," he said quietly. Without looking at me, he asked, "Will you come, too?"

I smiled sadly. I was still growing accustomed to this Alec, the one who was plagued by trauma and fear. But I had to admit, his vulnerability did, at times, make him irresistibly adorable.

I reached forward and lifted his chin to meet my eyes. "Of course." I took his hand and pulled him up from the couch. I snapped my fingers as we turned down the hall, extinguishing only a select few lights and the TV.

Alec traded his jeans for a pair of sweatpants and climbed into bed. I closed the door and dimmed the overhead light before sliding in next to him. I curled onto my side and watched him. He was laying on his back, staring up at the ceiling with wide eyes.

His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "Magnus?"

"Hmm?"

"How long has it been since I've slept with the lights out?"

I blinked, caught off guard. It had been a long time. We'd tried on a few occasions, but it wasn't long before Alec woke up screaming. "A few weeks maybe."

"Can we try again? Tonight?"

"Are you sure?" I asked. "You don't have to rush into it, Alec."

"I just want a little...normality in my life."

"All right," I said reluctantly. "I'm right here. Just say the word and the lights come back on."

I noticed the way Alec stiffened seconds before I snapped my fingers and the light went out completely. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust before I could make out his form beside me. His breathing was fast and shallow in the darkness, but he said nothing. I slowly slid my hand across the mattress until I felt his fingers, which were fisted in the bed sheets. I gently pried them open and interlaced his fingers with mine. I could faintly see him raise his other hand to twist his fingers into his hair.

"Hey," I whispered. "I'm right here."

Alec rolled until he was curled up against me. I could feel his body shaking against mine. Carefully, I let go of his hand and enveloped him in my arms. He clutched on to the front of my shirt as I pressed my lips against his hair. Slowly he tilted his head back, his mouth a silent offering, a plea. I dipped my head and sealed my lips over his. He obliged as I coaxed him to open his mouth and I slipped my tongue inside. His hands timidly reached up to snake through my hair.

I rolled him over and positioned myself to keep most of my weight off him. My hand skimmed down his side and came to rest at his hip. I lifted his shirt just enough to let my palm touch his bare skin. Alec was still self-conscious about the scars that marred his body, even though I'd assured him they only made him more beautiful, more unique, more Alec.

I pulled my mouth away from his to kiss a feather-light trail across his jaw and down his neck. I wanted nothing more than to nip at his sensitive skin, but the demon blood Sebastian had injected him with after locking him in a coffin-like box had created hallucinations that rendered Alec petrified whenever I playfully bit him. I pulled the collar of his t-shirt down slightly to kiss his collar bone.

Alec gripped my neck and pulled me until he was kissing me again. My stomach fluttered. I closed my eyes and my hand moved from Alec's waist to his hand. It moved at its own accord as my fingers wrapped around Alec's wrist and began pulling his arm above his head. Alec shifted beneath me, but he did not break away from my lips. My other hand skimmed over his chest and down his stomach. At his waist, it slid over to grab Alec's other wrist.

Alec jerked beneath me and ripped his mouth away from mine. I immediately rolled off him and released his wrists, mentally cursing myself.

"I can't... The light..." Alec whispered between rasping breaths. "Magnus... Please..."

I had him in my arms before the light blazed to life. He was shaking so badly that if I hadn't known better I would have thought he was having a seizure. I stroked his hair and kissed his forehead, never loosening my arms around him.

"I'm sorry," Alec whispered against my chest.

"Shh." I hugged him tighter. "I've got you, Alec. I'm right here. I'll always be here."

~*~

I slowly peeled my eyes open. Or at least I thought I did. There was nothing but darkness. I could feel myself blinking. Had I gone blind?

When I tried to sit up I found I could not move my hands. I could feel them, could wiggle my fingers. But they were stuck behind my back. I tried to move my legs, but I could not move them as single units. They were also stuck together. My stomach flipped as I realized they were tied together. As I tried to call out for help, I realized I could not breathe or speak through my mouth. I felt something wide wrapped around my face. I was bound and gagged, but I had no idea where.

I lifted my legs and swung them up and down, left and right, feeling stupidly like a mermaid as I tried to figure out how much space I had. I realized with a jolt that I was in a space no bigger than a box...a very familiar box.

I blinked back tears as terror consumed me. Had Sebastian imprisoned me again? Was he just outside waiting to torture me? Memories came flooding back to me. I remembered being in an alley with him and a clone of myself. He'd wanted to kill me... He had killed me.

Had I been brought back to life? Or had I died? Was I in hell?

I let the tears slip from the corners of my eyes and slide down my temples. Whether I was still alive or I was in hell, I was alone. Terrified. Helpless. And hopelessly alone.


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