Chapter 1: Alec Fray #1
Maryse rebels and saves her son!
This time, the Clave went too far!
Maryse did everything they asked of her to pay for her crimes against the Clave, for years she toed the line, kept her head down and followed the rules. She did everything they wanted…
But now they took her baby boy away from her, her eldest, the reason she and Robert betrayed Valentine and repented in the first place. Everything they did, they did for him - and then for Isabelle and Max and later on for Jace, too - but it all started with Alec. And now the Clave took him away, de-runed him, exiled him for… for loving the “wrong” way.
No, enough, Maryse thinks as she slips past her guards and sneaks up onto the Institute’s roof. This time, she won’t bow her head and take it. This time, she will rebel.
Maryse activates her rune - and jumps.
She finds Alec in one of the dirty, litter strewn alleys in the vicinity of the City of Bones, lying in a crumpled heap behind a trash can, wheezing and burning with fever - and for a moment, she’s so furious she sees red.
They just dropped him here, a boy of barely fifteen, knowing full well that he was in no shape to take care of himself, being too young and too sick, helpless in a world he didn’t know. And they didn’t care, the Inquisitor’s lapdogs. To hell with Imogen and her vengeful streak, to hell with her!
“Alec, honey?” Maryse whispers and she drops to her knees to help him sit up. “I’m here. Can you hear me?”
His eyes flutter open but they’re hazy, unfocused. His head lolls a little and her heart clenches, seeing the burned mark on his neck where the most distinct of his runes used to be. She knows that there will be similar wounds all over his body, hurting, bleeding, maybe even infected, hidden by the shapeless dark clothes he was given by the Silent Brothers on his way out. Just the clothes on his back and nothing more. Live or die, they don’t care anymore.
“Mom?” Alec rasps, dropping his head against her shoulder. “Mommy?”
Maryse has to blink back tears. Alec hasn’t called her that in years. Ever since their relationship started to sour when she decided that strict rules were the best way how to shape him into a better person than she ever was. She thought she would protect him that way. Instead, all she managed was to destroy the bond of trust between them, and when Alec then desperately needed someone to talk to after realizing he was gay, he didn’t come to her. And then it was way too late because the Clave had ears everywhere and an example needed to be set.
“I’m here, Alec,” Maryse whispers and she hugs him for a moment, rocking him gently.
Alec reaches out and grips the hem of her leather jacket, anchoring himself. “What’s… happening? Where… where are we?” he asks, his fever muddling his thoughts. “Can we… can we go home now, please?”
Her heart breaks. “No. No, we can’t,” she croaks out. “I’m sorry, honey, I’m so sorry, but you can never go home again.”
His shoulders start shaking.
“But you’ll be okay,” Maryse says fiercely, kissing the top of his head. “I’ll take you somewhere safe. You’ll be safe, I promise. I promise!”
And then, she gently helps her son to his feet.
There’s a loud knock on the door. And another. And another.
With a knife in her hand, Jocelyn pads up on silent feet to the main door, and when she looks out through the peep hole, her breath catches in her throat
Slowly, carefully, warily, Jocelyn opens the door a bare few inches, no more. She knows she can’t afford not to open. She’s managed to stay hidden here, in New York, both from the Clave and her enemies all these years only because Maryse allowed it.
“Maryse?” Jocelyn whispers.
Her ten-year-old daughter, Clary, is asleep and the last thing Jocelyn wants is to wake her. She wants her child to stay far away from the dangerous world of Shadowhunters.
Maryse looks as fierce as ever, determined but… a little desperate. “Jocelyn,” she greets her, nodding curtly. “I need your help.”
Jocelyn frowns. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Clave - or with the Downworld in general. Or even with her old friends from before. She left that life behind. She opens her mouth to say it, but Maryse cuts her off before she can do so.
“You owe me, Jocelyn,” Maryse reminds her sharply. “You owe me! I helped you escape from Valentine. I kept you hidden from the Clave. I gave you the address of Magnus Bane when you needed a warlock. I did that for you! You owe me - and I came to collect!”
Narrowing her eyes, Jocelyn tightens her grip on the knife that she keeps hidden behind the barely open door. If Maryse tries to force her to do something that will put Clary at risk, if she tries to ruin the life Jocelyn’s built for herself–
“What do you want?” Jocelyn mutters in an unfriendly voice.
Maryse slumps a little in relief. Her reaction startles Jocelyn so much that she opens the door a little wider - and that’s when she sees him, the boy, pale and shaking and dressed in ratty clothes, huddled against the wall by the door, just out of sight.
Stepping closer to the boy, Maryse pulls him gently into her arms, letting him lean against her. Jocelyn opens her mouth in shock because the boy cannot be more than fifteen, and yet there’s a large burn mark on his neck. She knows this type of a wound: he’s been de-runed!
Looking straight at Jocelyn, Maryse holds her head high and her back straight, yet the glint of tears in her eyes betrays her pain, her despair, when she says, “I need you to take care of my son, Jocelyn. I need you to keep Alec safe!”
Chapter 2: Alec Fray #2
Clary finds out. She's 10, after all, she's no child!
It’s the voices that wake her up, arguing yet trying to be silent. Suspicious!
She climbs out of her bed and pads down the stairs on stockinged feet, silent as a mouse. She knows that if her mom catches her, she’ll be very cross with her since it’s a school night and Clary should be asleep, but she’s not a child anymore, she’s ten! She hates to be left out of important stuff.
Downstairs, it’s all dark and quiet, except for the light coming from the half-open door of the guest bedroom. And that’s also where the voices seem to be coming from - her mother’s and… Luke’s! Her mom and Luke are fighting! They never, ever, ever fight! Now Clary really has to find out what’s happening.
Carefully, she sneaks up and peers inside - and then her eyes turn saucer big because there’s someone lying in the bed in there! A boy! Dark-haired and pale and… sick? Is there something wrong with him? He turns his head to the side, mumbling something incoherent, and Clary almost gasps because there’s an ugly, terrible wound on his neck. What’s going on here?
“You shouldn’t have taken him in, Jocelyn!” Luke argues quietly. “You’re risking everything by harboring an exiled Shadowhunter!”
Exiled? Shadowhunter? Clary thinks, the wheels and cogs in her brain turning. And Luke didn’t want to help the boy? But… but Luke helps everyone!
Jocelyn huffs and uncrosses her arms, pointing at the boy. “Look at him, Luke.”
Luke drops his eyes. “Jocelyn…”
“No!” Clary’s mom makes a sharp, cutting gesture with her hand. “Look at him! He’s just a boy, not much older than Clary. And they de-runed him. They exiled him! Threw him out like trash. And they didn’t care if he would live or die out there. And you know why?”
Luke’s still silent.
“Because he’s gay, Luke,” Jocelyn says quietly, but there’s a terrible weight behind her words. “That was enough for them to destroy him. It’s been ten years since I ran and nothing has changed. Nothing at all! The Clave’s made of the same old bigots as before.”
Who? What? Clary’s mind’s reeling.
Taking a step closer, Luke squeezes Jocelyn’s hands in his. “I know, and I feel for the boy, you know I do. And we can find him a safe place to stay, somewhere he’ll be cared for. But I know how hard you’ve worked to build a life for yourself and for Clary after Valentine, and I would hate to see it all ruined.”
Valentine? Why hasn’t Clary ever heard of him, of any of this stuff before? Unfair!
Sighing, Jocelyn steps into Luke’s arms and hugs him, resting her head on his shoulder. “I know. And I don’t want to put Clary at risk but… I just can’t turn my back on Maryse, not in this. She helped me when I desperately needed it. And her son” –Jocelyn closes her eyes tightly– “he’s just a child, Luke!”
Luke rubs her back gently, looking over at the dark-haired boy still tossing and turning in the bed, and Clary sees his face soften, his eyes turn kind again, the way she’s used seeing them. And something in her chest loosens in relief. Clary doesn’t know the boy but if Luke refused to help him… that would be wrong!
Someone clears their throat behind her and Clary freezes like a deer caught in the headlights. Oops!
Slowly, she turns around and sees Dot standing there, in the dark hallway, with a tray full of bandages and bowls and herbs and other bits and odds. She’s staring at Clary with her eyebrows raised.
“Clarissa,” Dot greets her reprovingly.
“Dot, hi!” Clary pipes up, dreading what will follow.
The door behind her opens wide and bright light floods the hallway, making Clary feel like she’s standing on a stage, just waiting to be judged.
“Clarissa!” Jocelyn exclaims. “Why aren’t you in bed?”
Clary decides that the best defense is offense and so she whirls on her mother and Luke and starts talking fast, “I heard voices! Who’s the boy? Is he hurt? Will he be okay? Will he be staying with us? And what’s a Shadowhunter? What’s a Clave? And who’s Valentine?”
Jocelyn stares at Clary with her mouth pinched tight. Luke rests one hand on Jocelyn’s shoulder and closes his eyes, rubbing his forehead.
“I guess we’ll have to visit Magnus Bane earlier than I thought this year!” Jocelyn says sharply and Clary’s eyes widen because the name - Magnus Bane - it stirs something in her memory, something unpleasant, frightful even.
There’s a soft rattle as Dot sets her tray down and steps closer. She lays her hands on Clary’s shoulders from behind and squeezes in reassurance. “Jocelyn, this isn’t something magic can fix.”
Jocelyn shoots her a warning look. “Dorothea–”
But Dot interrupts her. “No. I’m your friend but I never agreed with you on this, you know that, that’s why you went to Magnus, because I refused to help you. But I let it go because Clarissa is your daughter and your responsibility.”
“That she is!” Jocelyn snaps.
“Jocelyn…” Luke whispers.
Dot keeps her calm, though. “But it has gone far enough! It was one thing when it was just about Clary, about keeping her safe. But if you truly want to keep the boy, then Clary needs to know what’s going on. She needs to know the dangers or she might inadvertently do something that will bring doom to you all.”
She pauses, and when she continues, her voice is much firmer. “If Alec shall stay here, then you have to think of him, too, of what’s best for him, too. He was already robbed of his family. Do you want to force him to live a lie and hide even here, in his new home? If you want to keep him, then you need to realize that from now on, you’ll be responsible for two children, not just Clary.”
Jocelyn clenches her teeth and for a moment she looks ready to explode. Clary has no idea what’s going on here but she senses that it’s something big, huge… maybe even world-changing!
“Alright,” Jocelyn says, shoulders slumping in defeat. “Clary… we need to talk.”
… the life of Clarissa Fray takes the weirdest of turns. Who would’ve thought?!
Chapter 3: Alec Fray #3
Jace and Izzy find out what happened.
“Where’s Alec? Where is he?” Jace blurts out anxiously as he and Izzy barge into their parents’ office, and when he sees Maryse turn away quickly to hide her tears and Robert’s grave expression, he realizes that his most horrible suspicion was true.
Alec was de-runed, exiled…
Jace and Izzy weren’t here when they took Alec away. They should’ve known that something was wrong when they were sent out to accompany a team on a routine smash-and-grab mission to a rogue vampire den - and Alec was held back at the Institute. But they were too excited to go out, to finally be out there, fighting, that they didn’t truly considered the meaning of it all. Until they came back and found their home crawling with the Inquisitor’s personal guard - and Alec nowhere to be found.
The Inquisitor’s lapdogs never go anywhere without her, she always keeps them with her - there’s only one exception to this rule: when someone’s found guilty of a capital offense against the Clave and they’re to be taken into custody and sent to the City of Bones for de-runing. It’s the one thing that the Inquisitor refuses to entrust to anyone but her own people.
And now, based on the rumors flying around the Institute - and the pitying looks from older Shadowhunters - they took Alec away.
“Mom? Dad?” Izzy asks anxiously. “Where is he? They said that the Inquisitor’s people took him away. But that can’t be true! Right? You wouldn’t allow them to do that, right? Mom, you wouldn’t let them–”
Maryse whirls around and slams her hands down on the desk so hard that everyone else in the room jumps, even Robert. Maryse’s eyes are red-rimmed but they’re also ablaze with rage. “I didn’t let them do anything, Isabelle!” she snaps. “I can’t remember being asked–”
“Maryse,” Robert whispers, touching her back gently. He looks so old.
Even through the haze of anger, Jace notices that Maryse’s trembling. She straightens up and turns away again, hand pressed against her mouth. She’s trying very hard not to cry. Jace’s heart skips a beat when the realization truly sinks in. No. Fate wouldn’t be so cruel as to take Alec away from him, too!
Slowly, Robert walks around the desk and stops in front of Izzy whose face’s now streaked with tears. She rubs her runny nose with the back of her hand as Robert rests his hands on her small shoulders. “Isabelle,” he says haltingly, “the Clave found Alec guilty of… of gross misconduct and sentenced him to exile. While you were out, he was taken to the City of Bones and de-runed.”
Izzy’s shaking her head in denial. “No, no. He’s good. Alec’s good. He’s always done everything right, everything by the book. Why would they… Why?!” she cries out.
“Because he’s gay,” Jace whispers, sick to the soul. And when the others turn to him in shock, he continues, “That’s it, isn’t it? Somehow, they found out he was gay and they were so… so grossed out or-or whatever, they just threw him away, like nothing else mattered. Isn’t it so?”
“How did you–?” Maryse asks.
Jace snorts. “Of course I knew! We are–” He stops and swallows painfully, and when he continues, his voice sounds much quieter, much more subdued and… desperate. “We were supposed to be parabatai. I knew everything. Everything!”
And now I don’t, Jace thinks angrily and with his teeth clenched in anguish. Not even where he is!
As if reading his thoughts, Izzy asks, looking up at her father, “Where is he now, daddy?”
Robert looks at Maryse. Maryse’s back stiffens. “We don’t know,” Robert replies quietly after turning back to his daughter.
Hearing that, Jace shakes his head in disbelief. “You can’t be serious!” he says belligerently. “Did you even try to find out where they sent him?”
“Of course we did!” Maryse snaps back, her eyes flashing at the accusation in his tone. “They refused to tell us anything. He was sent into exile, Jace! Exile!You know very well what that means!”
Yes, he knows. If they tried to find Alec and the Clave found out, they would join him in exile. And if Alec tried to contact them… it would be a death sentence for him. Jace’s heart clenches at the prospect. He can feel tears starting to prickle in his eyes - he hasn’t cried since his father was murdered.
Jace can’t take it anymore. He turns and runs, leaving the others behind, their voices calling after him echoing down the hallway but he doesn’t stop. He can’t. Just that morning, everything was alright, everything was perfect! He and Alec had only one last test to pass and then they would’ve become parabatai, soul-bonded. Jace was happy…!
He bounds up the stairs, down the hallway, past his own room and towards Alec’s - and when he finds it empty, Alec’s possessions gone, everything, even that ratty collection of Shakespeare’s works that he loved so much, it’s the very last straw. He slides down the wall to sit on the bare floor, knees pulled up to his chest, and he cries, anguish, pain and rage warring inside him, making it hard for him to breathe.
Soon, though, rage wins. It bubbles up to the surface and smothers his tears - and hardens his resolve. Suddenly, it’s so easy for Jace to figure out what he needs to do.
When old enemies came after his father, the Clave did nothing: rather than to admit their failure in rooting out traitorous ex-Circle members, they let Michael Wayland die. Jace’s always known that they were a bunch of cowards. But he never thought that they were so cruel, so close-minded and so… bigoted that they would destroy someone as bone-deep good as Alec just because they couldn’t accept him as he was.
Twice now the Clave destroyed Jace’s life and took the people he loved most away from him - and he’ll never forgive them for that. He’ll never bow his head and simply follow orders again. Never again.
And they’ll not keep him away from Alec! Bonded or not, they’re parabatai, and where Alec goes, Jace goes. He’ll find Alec again, and Raziel help anyone who gets in his way.
Chapter 4: Alec Fray #4
Alec finds out how de-runing actually works.
Alec simply can’t stay away. He feels drawn to the place he has called his home since he was a toddler, drawn like a moth to the flame: get too close and you get burned. But he needs to… he just… he…
He expects not to be able to see through glamour anymore, now that he lost his runes and his birthright with them. He thinks that from now on, he’ll simply pass through life without noticing anything unusual, live the way mundanes do.
So, it’s a big shock for him when he can still see it, the Institute. Not the ruin of a church for which most of New York takes it, but the real thing, lit and warded and with guards walking the perimeter. How? How is it possible?
Huddled in the hoodie that Luke Garroway lent him - that was very nice of him otherwise Alec would’ve nothing to wear; still, Alec feels a bit wary of the man: Luke’s a werewolf, after all, and a cop, too! - which is rather big on him but all the more cozy for it, Alec stays a safe distance away from the Institute, out of reach of the surveillance system, both magical and electronic, and he simply stares at the place longingly.
He wants to go home so badly or at least to see his family one more time, mother and father, little Max and Izzy - but most of all Jace. Because Jace… Jace’s everything!
Alec was reluctant to become Jace’s parabatai because of his feelings for Jace, because he loved Jace more than was proper for a parabatai-to-be, but now, now he would gladly shove his inappropriate feelings into a box and never ever ever let them out again if only he could go back and become soul-bonded with Jace, if only he could be with him again.
“You shouldn’t do this to yourself,” a quiet voice, kind and full of compassion, says behind him.
Alec whirls around, frightened that he’s been discovered, but it’s only Luke.
The older man stands there with his hands in his pockets, staring past Alec, at the Institute glowing like a beacon in the gathering dusk. “It’s been years since I was turned and I still miss it. It never goes away, you know, the wish to go back to the way it was, you just learn to live with it.”
Alec drops his gaze. He knows very well who Luke Garroway used to be: Lucian Graymark, one of the most talented and praised Shadowhunter of his generation - until he was attacked by werewolves and turned into one. And he survived and went on instead of ending his life the way the Clave would’ve preferred him to, bringing shame to himself and his family.
“How?” Alec croaks out, glancing up and away. “How did you do it? How do you do it, every day, live with that loss?”
Luke looks down at him. “I do it for Jocelyn. And for Clary. They are my life now,” he says, smiling warmly. But then his eyes glitter and he adds in a much harder voice, “And I do it out of spite, Alec.”
Alec blinks at him, confused.
Luke nods at the Institute in the distance. “They want you to fail. They expect it. They see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you fail, they’ll feel justified for exiling you because you’ll have proven to them that you’ve always been weak. So don’t give them the satisfaction. Don’t let them win. It’s all up to you now. Only if you give up, will they come out on top.”
Alec looks over his shoulder, towards his once-home.
“Come,” Luke says, and with one arm around Alec’s shoulders, he starts guiding him away. “Jocelyn was worried. She asked me to find you because she couldn’t come herself, not this close to the Institute, it would’ve been too great a risk for her.”
Yes, Alec listened in while Jocelyn explained to her daughter what happened ten years ago. Who would’ve thought that Alec would one day end up living with the Valentine Morgenstern’s wife! If the Clave ever found out that Jocelyn Fairchild was still alive… And then there was the fact that Alec’s mother not only knew but she covered for Jocelyn… Alec’s head hurts just thinking of it. Secrets layered in secrets.
They walk around the corner and Alec throws one last look over his shoulder; the Institute’s now almost hidden behind tall buildings and lush green trees. “Why can I still see it?” he asks as the church vanishes from sight altogether.
The street lights are coming on, some of them flickering uncertainly. He and Luke are headed towards Luke’s car, parked in an alley, safely out of the way.
“The Institute?” Luke asks, glancing down at Alec.
Luke still has one arm around Alec’s shoulders and Alec finds it really nice. He misses hugs, the physical comfort of them. He’s never been a tactile person per se, not really, but comforting his siblings sort of came with being the eldest. And hugging Jace, that was special in itself since when Jace came to live with them, he reminded Alec of a spooked animal, all false bravery and sharp claws, and the first time Jace hugged him first, Alec fell in love.
Coming back to what he and Luke were talking about, Alec nods. “I thought that after de-runing, I would simply become a mundane, blind to the Shadow World.”
“De-runing doesn’t work like that, Alec,” Luke replies and stops; they arrived at his car. Letting go of Alec, he turns to face him. “All the process does is remove your runes, that’s all. It takes away your ability to tap into your powers, you stop being a Shadowhunter - but you will always be angel-blooded, Alec. The Clave can’t take that away from you. Only Downworlders have the power to change a person’s nature. So, unless you get turned - and I hope you won’t, son, I would not wish that on anyone - you’ll always be one of Raziel’s children.”
When it sinks in, Luke’s words, the reality of them, Alec blinks hard because his eyes start to burn. He’s still Raziel’s child. He’s still himself. It makes him want to cry because until now, he hasn’t realized how much he needed to hear that, that despite everything he’s lost, deep down, on some… cellular level, he’s still the same. They didn’t take away that from him, too, they couldn’t.
As if sensing Alec’s thoughts, Luke smiles kindly and ruffles Alec’s hair. “Come now, dinner will be waiting. It’s pizza night tonight. And if we don’t hurry, Jocelyn will put anchovies on everything! Anchovies, would you believe that? I’m telling you, that woman has no taste buds…”
With his throat thick with emotions, Alec follows Luke and gets into the car. He slumps in the passenger seat and Luke’s words and his warm tone wash over him soothingly.
And when Luke then pulls out of the alley, he turns to the right, towards Jocelyn’s flat - and away from the Institute.
Chapter 5: Alec Fray #5
Clary declares herself Alec Lightwood’s Guide to Real Life™.
(I chose the first rune a child receives to be enkeli based on Max’s first rune ceremony on the show, I’m aware that in the books, the first rune is different.)
It happens on a Friday afternoon, when Clary comes home from school, all ready to just drop off her things and rush out to meet Simon. But when she barges in, slamming the door shut - her mother would yell at her if she heard that! - she stops.
Because Alec’s sitting in the window seat, a place he’s claimed for himself the first day he was able to get out of bed, and he’s staring out of the window, at the busy street, hugging his knees and generally looking like he’s lost everything that mattered to him in the world. Which he did.
And Clary decides that that won’t do. She sends Simon a text message, asking for a rain check, then she grabs Alec’s hand and drags him out of the apartment - luckily, he’s startled enough to let her or she wouldn’t be able to move him - then downstairs and out into the street. They’re going for an ice cream!
The best ice cream parlor in the city - in Clary’s humble opinion, that is - is only a few blocks away from the antique shop that her mom and Dot own together; they have the best selection of flavors! Clary chooses chocolate chip cookie dough and mango and raspberry while Alec chooses vanilla, of course. Vanilla! How boring!
She tells him so.
He frowns. “But I like vanilla.”
“It’s a classic!”
Clary opens her mouth to sing-song “Boring!” again but Alec’s glare stops her. She grins cheekily at him, lips smeared with raspberry ice cream. Alec’s stern look lasts another second or two, then it melts into a small smile that’s surprisingly sweet.
They’re walking down the street, back towards their apartment, and Alec’s people watching, turning his head this way and that, taking it all in. And as he looks up at the sky, Clary can’t help but notice the still ugly looking wound on his neck where one of his runes used to be, a pretty big one, it seems.
“Did it hurt? When they took them away?” she asks, staring down at her melting ice cream. The idea of Alec in pain stole her appetite away.
Alec glances at her and then away and for a long moment, they walk in silence. So long, actually, that Clary starts thinking that he won’t answer her. But then he does.
“Yes,” he whispers, turning his ice cream cone in his hand. “It did. A lot.”
“Does it still hurt?”
He runs his fingers over the wound on his neck. Dot did her best to heal him with her magic - and Clary still can’t believe that Dot is a real wizard! Well, a warlock, really, but… a wizard! - but in the end, her magic could do very little against rune magic, all she could manage was nudge Alec’s body into healing faster. Clary wishes Dot could’ve done more for him.
Alec shakes his head. “No, it doesn’t hurt. The skin’s just… numb. The runes, they’d always felt so… alive. They were deeply connected to who I was - am - but now, there’s nothing there. I can barely feel anything when I touch those places where they used to be.”
In Clary’s opinion, that sounds awful. “Why don’t you just re-draw them, then?” she ask. It’s a quite logical question, in her opinion.
Sighing, Alec drops his hand and licks his ice cream. “I can’t. Even if I had a stele–”
“What’s a stele?” Clary interrupts him.
Alec glances at her. “It’s a tool. Imagine a pencil with a glowing point. We use it to burn the runes into our skin.”
Clary’s eyes turn wide. “Burn? Ouch!”
Alec smiles a little. “Yeah, it’s not exactly pleasant. But after a while, you get used to it. For some people it even becomes a rush, drawing new runes. The pain can be quite exhilarating.”
Clary eyes him doubtfully. But then she asks, “But if you did get your hands on a stele, couldn’t you just… just, I don’t know, retrace the runes or something?” The melting ice cream starts dripping on her hand and she starts licking it frantically.
“I couldn’t do that,” Alec replies, shaking his head again.
“It’s just not done.”
“It’s forbidden!” Alec starts sounding a little annoyed.
“I get that,” Clary replies, a little annoyed herself, “but why wouldn’t you do it anyway? Who’s to stop you?”
Alec takes a large bite out his ice cream and chews it with gusto. “The Clave! It’s forbidden by the Clave!”
Now Alec’s downright irritated with her. Well, the feeling’s mutual.
“And you do everything the Clave tells you, right?” she snaps.
“Yes, I always follow rules!” Alec snaps back.
“Yeah, and look what it got you!”
Clary knows she shouldn’t have said it the moment the words leave her mouth. If Alec yelled at her or at least glared at her, she could’ve taken it, but instead, he looks… wounded, grief-stricken. He throws the rest of his cone into a thrash can.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it,” Clary whispers.
Alec shrugs. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. I shouldn’t have said it,” she tells him. “I’m just… I’m trying to understand why you would still follow some stupid rules written down by people who cared so little about you. Why don’t you just say ‘Screw you!’ and do your own thing? What more could they do to you?”
“They could still kill me, Clary,” Alec says softly.
Clary stops and stares at him. “What?”
Alec stops walking, too, and turns to her. “Exile… exile’s basically the last warning you ever get. If the Clave ever catches you doing something wrong or forbidden again, it’s a death sentence. No buts or whys, no court hearings. Bam and you’re dead.”
She keeps staring up at him, wide-eyed. “Oh.”
“But it’s not just that,” Alec adds and starts walking again. Clary joins him. “When they de-runed me, I lost my angelic rune, too. It’s also called enkeli and it’s the first rune ever you receive as a child. It’s sort of a test, to find out if you’re worthy to become a Shadowhunter. Some people simply aren’t, even as kids, something in them is found unworthy by the angel Raziel, and when that rune’s drawn on their skin, they… they die, Clary.”
Her eyes turn big again. “Kids? There’re kids dying because some… some dick with feathers decides they’re unworthy?” Now she’s furious!
Alec winces. “Yeah.”
“And, what? You’re afraid you would be found now unworthy, too? Because a bunch of old farts decided they hated you because you liked men? Is that it?” she asks belligerently.
It takes a while for Alec to answer, but when he does, it breaks Clary’s heart. “Yes, Clary,” he whispers, looking into the distance. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’ve already been cast aside by my own people! What if-what if Raziel, the creator of my race himself, deems me now somehow… wrong, too?”
Clary throws away her ice cream cone, too - it’s all melted anyway - and she steps in front of Alec, stopping him in mid-stride. She takes his hands in hers - they’re both a little sticky but it doesn’t matter - and she looks deep into his startled eyes.
“You’re good, Alec,” she says empathetically. “You’re a good person! My mom wouldn’t have taken you in if you weren’t! And Luke likes you a lot, I can tell, and Luke doesn’t like bad people! You are good, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Alec smiles a little, but it’s a pained, sad expression. “You don’t even know me, Clary.”
“I know enough!” she replies with conviction. “I see the way you treat other people, those who are different, and even me! You don’t treat me like I’m-like I’m a kid!”
Alec rolls his eyes. “You are a kid!”
Clary kicks him in the shin lightly. “Hey, don’t ruin it!”
Smiling softly, Alec nods. “Okay.”
“My point is,” she says, then she pauses and her expression turns morose, “I don’t remember what my point was, actually. See? You ruined it!”
Now Alec laughs a little. He extricates his hands from Clary’s grip and lays one arm around her shoulders. “You remind me so much of my sister,” he whispers.
Clary looks up at him and narrows her eyes. “Is that a good thing?”
Alec nods and there’s a brightness in his eyes when he replies, “Izzy - Isabelle - is awesome. She’s the best.”
“Well, you said that I didn’t even know you,” Clary tells him. “See? Here’s my chance to get to know you. Tell me about her. Tell me about Izzy, please.”
Alec’s silent for a very long time, staring down at the pavement. His expression’s serious. But then he smiles again and nods, and when he starts walking again, gently pulling Clary along, he says, “Alright. I’ll tell you about her. You would like her…”
Clary smiles up at him. She’s sure of it. She already likes Alec.
Chapter 6: Alec Fray #6
Jace finds a way how to track down Alec. More or less. (Unbeta'd)
They took everything, simply everything. Even the pair of dirty socks that Jace saw lying under Alec’s bed the last time he went to Alec’s room before… before, that one transgression against Alec’s almost obsessive cleanliness. They took it all, every thing that could’ve been used to track Alec down through rune magic.
Bastards! Bastards! Bastards! Jace thinks as he furiously pummels the punching bag. His knuckles have gone from painful to numb a while ago and if he doesn’t stop soon, he might do some serious damage to his hands, but if he does stop, if he stops, he might do something he’ll regret even more - like hijack the portal to Idris and break Inquisitor Herondale’s neck with his bare hands.
Finally, Jace does have to stop because he’s completely out of breath, flushed and sweat-soaked, and there’re black spots dancing in front of his eyes. It’s then that he starts noticing his surroundings once again, all the people watching him surreptitiously and whispering about him in the background.
Jace glares at them angrily and stomps out of the training room, unwinding the bandages from his bruised hands. Damn them to hell, he growls silently as they all look away, unwilling - or unable - to meet his eyes directly.
Cowards, every single one of them. They all just stood by and watched and did nothing when the Inquisitor’s people took Alec away. They all saw Alec growing up, they knew him, and yet, they let the Clave just take him!
A tiny voice in the back of his mind’s telling him that he’s being unfair, that they couldn’t have done anything, nobody could’ve done anything, but Jace tells it to go to hell, too.
Jace barges into his bedroom, still furious, and slams the door shut, pulling off his sweat-soaked t-shirt. He glares at the camera that’s very badly hidden in the frame of a ridiculously awful pastoral painting that came with the room when he moved in and gives it the finger - he’s aware that he’s been under surveillance ever since Alec’s de-runing. Damn creeps! They’re just waiting for him to do… something.
It’s why he can’t go to a warlock for help with finding Alec - the Clave would know and de-rune him on the spot; which he wouldn’t care about all that much, to be honest, because he has had it up there with the bunch of them, but to get kicked out without knowing where to find Alec first would be rather idiotic. Once he figures it out, though, the Clave can do whatever the hell it wants!
He walks into the bathroom and slams that door shut, too. It doesn’t really help calm his anger but it still feels good. He throws his clothes in the hamper - he really needs to do laundry soon, now that he doesn’t have Alec’s wardrobe to steal clean stuff from - and he steps into the shower, letting hot water soak his tired muscles.
Dammit, Alec, he thinks as he turns his face into the hard-beating stream of the hottest water he can stand, feeling adrift, as if he lost his anchor. Damn. It. Why aren’t you here? I need you. I don’t know what to do without you!
The shower’s not helping. With a growl, he turns the water off and steps out, grabbing a towel - and his eyes land on the hamper again. Laundry. Clothes. Whenever he ran out, he just grabbed something of Alec’s…. And he hasn’t done laundry in a while.
With his heart thudding hard in his chest, Jace grabs the hamper and turns it upside down, shaking it hard until all the pieces of clothing fall out - and there it is, Alec’s shirt, the long-sleeved forest green one. It must’ve been hidden at the very bottom. Alec loved that shirt which was why Jace usually stole it first when he needed something to wear, just to see Alec’s annoyed face when he saw Jace wearing it. Yes…
Holding the shirt almost reverently in his bruised hand, Jace sits down hard on the closed lid of the toilet. He reaches out for his stele that he set aside before showering and activates his tracking rune. Then he clasps the shirt tightly in both of his hands and sends his mind out, searching, searching, searching…
… window seat… arms curled around bent knees… sad, sad face… sad, sad eyes… fogged over glass… fire escape… vibrant green ivy… flash of red hair… child reaching out… laughter… street… cars… people… sky… the skyline of–
Jace’s eyes snap open, wild and startled, and he gasps, drawing air into his starved lungs. New York! Alec’s still here, in New York, Jace would recognize that skyline anywhere! Sure, he’s used to looking at the city from a slightly different angle and he didn’t recognize the neighborhood, but Alec’s definitely still here!
Jace tries again and again but impressions are all that he gets, flashes, nothing specific - Jace must’ve borrowed that shirt so many times that it doesn’t register as solely Alec’s anymore but as a shared property - but it’s still more than he had before!
Squeezing his eyes shut in bone-deep relief, Jace pulls Alec’s shirt close and holds it against his thundering heart. Wait for me, Alec, he thinks. Just wait for me and I will find you, I swear…
Chapter 7: Alec Fray #7
Alec finds a new purpose in life, Luke has trouble with the Clave and Miss Dorothea kicks major butt! (This one’s a little wordy, with a lot of exposition, but I needed to establish in which direction Alec would be headed in the future.)
Alec starts helping around the shop. It gives Jocelyn more time for her paintings and Alec actually something to do, a new purpose in life. And Dot is overjoyed to finally have someone who’s interested in the actual text of the books they handle and not just in the pretty pictures. Not that Jocelyn or Clary are dumb, not at all! But they’re artists, more enamored with the form rather than the content. And so Dot starts teaching Alec old languages - whenever she has a moment to spare, that is.
Because her and Jocelyn’s antique shop isn’t just an antique shop. They don’t specialize just in antiquities, at least not just of the human kind. During the day, their shop’s a normal everyday shop, one of half a dozen in their street. But after sunset, when Downworlders come out en masse, they start selling things of a different kind: idols, herbs and other ingredients for various spells - and also scrolls and spell books in languages that Alec, under Dot’s tutelage, seems to soak up like a sponge, quickly making himself indispensable to Miss Dorothea, as he likes to call her, much to her amusement.
And it’s after sunset, several months after Alec starts living with the Frays, that a vampire enters the shop: tall, pale and smartly dressed. The moment he draws in breath to ask Dot, who came out from the back when she heard the small bell over the door chime, for something, he freezes and his head swivels towards Alec who’s been sorting some ancient sacrificial bowls they received that day behind the counter on the right side of the large room.
“I smell angel blood,” the vampire growls and his eyes flash with hunger as he takes an aggressive step towards Alec, licking his now visible fangs.
Alec’s heart jumps but he doesn’t panic. He refuses to panic. He might not be a Shadowhunter anymore but that doesn’t mean he’s helpless. Taking a step back, he grabs a long antique dagger from a shelf and hefts it up in a practiced move. It might not be a Seraph Blade but it’s sharp enough to cut the vampire into pieces, if need be.
But before the vampire can take another step closer, Dot’s hand shoots up and she freezes the man in place. “Don’t you dare!” she snaps angrily - no, furiously. Alec’s never seen Miss Dorothea furious before.
The vampire strains against Dot’s magic, but he can’t move a muscle, he can’t even blink. So he settles for glaring at Alec across the counter. Alec tightens his hold on the dagger while his heart gallops away in his chest. He’s not panicking. But he’s definitely… apprehensive.
Miss Dorothea looks at him and smiles warmly. “Alec, honey, would you be so kind and make us tea while I deal with this… gentleman?” she asks.
Alec glances at her, then back at the vampire with his hateful eyes and viciously bared fangs. He wants to protest; Dot seems like such a nice woman now that she covered her anger with a layer of politeness. But Alec still vividly remembers her fury and he knows that she’s a force to be reckoned with. And she definitely doesn’t need the help of a half-grown - and de-runed - Shadowhunter like him.
Taking a deep breath, Alec sets the dagger back on the shelf and replies just as politely, “Of course, Miss Dorothea. I’ll be right back.”
And then he goes, his steps measured and his demeanor outwardly calm, even though, when he turns his back to the imprisoned vampire, his heart leaps into his throat and his mind yells at him, Run!
Alec walks up the stairs to the Frays’ flat - his new home - and closes the door. Only then does he allow himself to show fear. He leans against the door heavily, his knees weak, his hands shaking, eyes squeezed shut tight. Raziel!
But his little breakdown doesn’t last long because he hears voices coming from inside the flat, from the living room: Jocelyn and Luke. Curiosity gets the better of him because he knows that Luke was headed for a pack meeting tonight and Jocelyn didn’t expect him back at all. He pushes down his shakes and walks in.
Jocelyn and Luke turn towards him and she greets him with a smile. “Hello, Alec. Did you need something?”
“Hi,” Alec answers, looking from one to the other, then he shakes his head and points towards the kitchen. “Miss Dorothea asked me to make some tea, that’s all. Do you want some, too?”
Jocelyn shakes her head and Luke lifts his cup. “Coffee. But thanks.”
Alec nods and walks into the open space kitchen to prepare said tea, and though he knows he’s being nosy, he listens in on their conversation.
Luke continues with what they were discussing before Alec arrived, “And now the Clave wants us to bring David in, they want to punish him for attacking that girl. As if he didn’t feel bad enough about the whole thing. It was his first full moon! He’s still wet behind the ears, it wasn’t his fault. And he’s a good kid.”
Jocelyn reaches across the table and squeezes his hand. “We’ll figure it out. Maybe you or your alpha could talk to” –she shoots a look towards Alec– “the Heads of the Institute, maybe they would be willing to settle for a compromise.”
Luke shakes his head in frustration. “From what I hear, the Clave’s now enforcing a zero tolerance policy. They’ll kill him, Jocelyn!”
“Actually, they can’t,” Alec says, his eyes on Dot’s cup as he pours water in.
“What?” Jocelyn says, looking over at him.
Alec sets the kettle aside and lets the tea steep, then he walks around the counter and back into the living room. “They can’t simply kill - David?” he asks, looking at Luke as he stops at the table. When Luke nods, Alec continues, “It’s against the Accords.”
Frowning, Luke says, “What do you mean?”
Alec pulls out a chair and sits down, clasping his hands together on the table. “The section that regulates the werewolf-Shadowhunter relations, says it clearly: No werewolf can be punished for any crime related to his lycanthrophy between the time he’s bitten and the end of his first full moon. It’s a measure to prevent a paradox: If your pack’s doing its job and keeping the existence of werewolves a secret, then after the bite he, as a common mundane, wouldn’t have known he was a werewolf. He couldn’t have known what was wrong with him and so he couldn’t have done anything to prevent his violent reaction. So, whatever happened wasn’t his fault.”
Shaking her head a little, Jocelyn asks, “How do you know all this?”
Feeling uncomfortable, Alec clears his throat and drops his eyes to his hands. “Well, before my… before my de-runing,” he still has trouble saying that aloud, “I was set to take over the Institute one day. My sister decided to go into sciences and J-Jace,” he trips over his almost-parabatai’s name, “focused on martial arts and weaponry because he wanted to go out in the field. I studied diplomacy. My tutors demanded I memorize the whole text of the Accords and they weren’t the lenient sort.” He grimaces a little.
Luke leans forward a little. “So, what do the Accords say about this? I remember reading the book but it’s been a while and I’d never really paid much attention to it.”
“First of all, you need to contact the Institute and tell them that you’re ready to comply with the Accords and insist that they do the same. I can show you which parts of the book you can throw at them should they try to be difficult,” Alec say and does his best not to forget the fact that “they” are his parents. “If your pack doesn’t own a copy of the Accords, the Institute’s obligated to provide you with one, you have the right to know your rights, that book’s binding for both sides.”
Grimacing, Luke shakes his head. “I’ve lived on both sides of this fence and it never felt like that. It always seems like the Clave finds a way to weasel out of every responsibility.”
Alec shakes his head, too. “No, they’ll keep to the letter of the Law. Probably not to the spirit of it, that’s often true, but they’ll comply with what’s written. It’s their strongest weapon, the Law.”
“What will happen to David, then?” Jocelyn asks, still holding Luke’s hand.
Alec sighs. “He won’t go free, that’s not possible. He’ll be sent to the Praetor Lupus for training, till he’s proven he can control himself, that’s non-negotiable.” He looks from Luke to Jocelyn and back. “But honestly, if he attacked someone, then this will be good for him.”
“Still the best option,” Luke agrees, sighing, too.
“The Clave will also demand that you hand over the wolf who changed him and left him unsupervised, that person will be punished. And your pack will also be obligated to pay some monetary compensation to the victim’s family,” Alec adds, squinting a little as he tries to dig out all the details. His tutors demanded that he knew every single paragraph by heart by the time he was twelve, but it’s been a while since he last read the text.
Jocelyn reaches out across the table and touches Alec’s hand, too. “Thank you,” she says and she seems honestly grateful.
Alec feels a little embarrassed. He didn’t do anything, after all.
Luke claps him on the shoulder. “Yeah, thanks. You took your studies seriously, didn’t you?”
Looking down, Alec shrugs. “I guess. It was my dream to become the Head of the Institute one day,” he admits very quietly. “And I wanted to do good, you know? For everyone.”
“Hey,” Luke says softly, bending his head a little to look at Alec. “You did - you do. This will help David a lot, all of us, actually. Because sometimes, it feels like in the eyes of the Clave we don’t have any rights at all, us Downworlders. It’ll be good to remind them that we do.”
Alec smiles a little, flushing. It feels good to help.
Then he clears his throat and gets up, “I should, uh” –he points with his thumb over his shoulder– “bring Miss Dorothea her tea, I think.” And he quickly backs out of the living room, almost tripping over his feet in his haste.
When Alec carries the tray with the gently steaming cups downstairs, he finds the shop empty. He sets the tea carefully down on the counter, ratting the china a little, and looks around, puzzled.
“Miss Dorothea?” he calls out.
Dot walks out from the back, carrying a broom and a dustpan. “Ah, Alec,” she says with a smile. “How’s my tea?”
Alec touches the tray lightly. “Ready,” he replies, looking around curiously. The vampire seems to be gone. “Is everything alright?”
Setting the dustpan aside, Dot starts sweeping the floor. “Oh, everything’s perfect,” she assures him. “Care to help me?”
Alec comes over and grabs the dustpan to hold it for her and–
Ashes. A nice pile of them. Exactly in the place where the vampire was standing before. Enough ashes for a decently sized man. Oh…
“Miss Dorothea–” Alec whispers, staring at the floor wide-eyed. There’s knowing that your boss is a powerful warlock, and then there’s truly knowing it.
She reaches out and squeezes his arm. “Dot, Alec, call me Dot,” she tells him in a kind voice. “And this…” She waves a hand at the pile of ashes she just swept up so neatly. “No one threatens my friends. No one.”
Handing him the broom, Dot takes the dustpan from him and says, “Now, I’ll take out the thrash and then we’ll have tea. I just got a new scroll I want to show you!”
Alec smiles her. “Alright. I can’t wait… Dot.”
Chapter 8: Alec Fray #8
Clary asks questions, Alec teaches her things and Simon enters the stage.
“Okay, stop-stop-stop-stop-stop!” Clary blurts out, skipping forward quickly. She hoists up her grocery bag, and stepping in front of Alec, she stops him with a raised hand.
Alec blinks at her, shifting his own bag from one arm to the other. “Yes?”
“Alright, spill,” Clary orders. “Why did you do that?”
Frowning, Alec asks carefully, “Do what?”
Clary points back the way they came from. “That. First, you traded places with me. Then, you made me cross the street, even though we’ll have to cross back at the next lights! And now you traded places with me again!”
Alec shuffles his feet. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Clary glares up at him. Over the last few weeks, she found out that if she used The Glare properly, eventually Alec folded and answered her questions. Like now.
Sighing, Alec reaches for her bag. “Hop up,” he says, nodding at the concrete planter at the edge of the sidewalk adorned with two scraggly, stunted, sad-looking shrubs.
Clary narrows her eyes suspiciously. “Why?”
Alec huffs. “Because you’re a half-pint of a midget!” he snaps at her, annoyed.
For that, she stomps on his foot as she hands over the bag and climbs up, holding onto his shoulder for balance. People on the sidewalk stream around them like a river, paying them no attention at all. You have to love New York.
Grimacing a little, Alec turns back in the direction they came from, now holding both grocery bags, one in each arm. “Okay. On the other side of the street, two blocks back and headed in our direction, there’s a man, a homeless man, in a dirty duster and a large hat. Do you see him?”
Clary squints and searches the crowd. Then, “Yes!” The man’s stumbling and reeling along as if drunk, barely holding himself up.
“Now, look at the store fronts he’s passing by - do you see how the neon signs in them flicker?”
She looks more closely. And yes, now she sees it. As the man staggers by, all the neon signs go crazy, some even go out completely. And once the man’s past, everything goes back to normal. “Yes.”
Alec nods. “So, whatever the man is, he’s definitely not your everyday mundane. Either he’s some kind of a Downworlder or he’s possessed by a demon strong enough to have its magic spill out and everything around go haywire. In any case, he’s bad news. If I were still a–”
He stutters and stops, freezing. He might’ve even stopped breathing. Clary looks down at him. She sees that he dropped his eyes and hunched over a little, biting his lip hard. She aches for him. She squeezes his shoulder in a silent support.
Alec takes a deep breath and straightens up again. “Before, I would’ve called it in and they would’ve sent people to check him out and take him out, if need be. Now, all I could do was get you as far away from him as possible.”
Oh. “Okay, thanks,” she mumbles. Then she asks, “And why did we cross the street?”
Hefting the bags in his arms, Alec points with his chin. “See the old bar? The one that’s all boarded up and dirty?”
Clary scans the opposite side of the street. And yes, there it is. It looks unused, forgotten. She nods.
“It used to be a vampire den,” Alec explains. “The Clave raided it several times already but the vamps always come back, it’s just a matter of time, and they’re not of the law abiding kind. I don’t know if they’re back now or not, but I didn’t want to take chances.”
She pats him on the shoulder in thanks. “And the last time you traded places with me? On this side of the street?”
Alec shrugs. “There was just some creep, the common mundane kind. I really didn’t like the way he was looking at you, it made me feel… itchy.”
“But why was he interested in me?” she asks, just hoping that her super secret angel blood won’t turn her into some creep magnet.
“Well, you kinda do stand out. Must be the hair,” he mutters, shooting her a sideways look.
Clary pinches him. “No jokes about my hair!” she warns.
Alec bends his head, grinning.
Then a voice shouts in the crowd, “Fray! Hey, Fray!”
Clary looks around. And there, in the sea of people, someone’s struggling to get through: messy hair, big ears and even bigger glasses. Simon. Oh. Oh, crap! She totally forgot.
“Sh–” She glances down at Alec. “–oot! That’s Simon!”
Alec frowns, straining to see. Yeah, no wonder. If Clary’s a midget, then Simon’s a midget times too. Only thanks to his messy hair is he even as tall as she!
“He’s a friend,” Clary explains, hopping down from the planter. “I promised to meet him after school and I completely forgot! It’s the third time lately. He’ll be so pissed!” She scrunches her face.
Alec’s frown deepens. “If he tries anything–”
Clary lifts a hand to stop him. “Relax. He’s just a boy. I can wrestle him to the ground and sit on him any time I want. I just…” She sighs, shuffling her feet. “It feels like I’ve been neglecting him lately, you know? It doesn’t seem fair. He’s a really good friend.”
Then she looks up at Alec, all big, innocent eyes. “Could you–”
Alec sighs. “Take the groceries home while you scamper off?”
“Pretty please?” she whines.
“Alright, but!” Alec adds when she grins. “Will your mother be alright with this?”
Clary twists her mouth, annoyed. She’s not a kid anymore! She’s ten! Why do people keep ignoring that?
But before she can say it out loud, she looks at Alec, really looks at him, and sees his apprehension, his… fear of messing up. Ever since he started living with them, he’s been walking on eggshells, afraid of doing something wrong.
“She will, I promise you that, Alec,” she assures him in all honesty. “She knows Simon and she likes him. I swear I’ll be fine. Just tell her that I’m with him, with Simon Lewis, okay?”
Alec hesitates a moment longer but then he nods. “Fine, just… be careful? And watch out for that creep I told you about!” he warns her and waits until she nods. Only then does he leave.
“Fray!” Simon yells, running up to her a second later, almost tripping over his own feet, much to her amusement. “Where have you been? I was waiting for you!”
Clary grimaces. “Sorry about that. Mom sent me grocery shopping with Alec.”
Simon perks up and stands on tiptoes to look after Alec. “Who?”
Oh, right. “Erm, Alec. He’s my… cousin. Twice removed. From my dad’s side,” Clary stammers out. Shoot!
Pushing up his glasses, Simon narrows his eyes at her. “Fray, you’re such a bad liar!” he tsks.
Clary huffs and decides to, well, wing it. Somehow. “Fine. Look, Alec’s mom and my mom went to school together.” Sorta, kinda. “And when the people Alec lived with it before found out he was gay, they kicked him out. He had nowhere to go. So, we took him in.” Well, at least that part is true, she thinks, cringing inwardly.
“We’re telling everyone Alec’s my cousin for…” How did Luke put it? “Legal reasons. So shush about it, okay? Not a word to anyone, not even to your mom or your sister. Zip it!” She imitates zipping her mouth and punctuates her words with a glare.
Simon pulls himself up, all wounded dignity. “I do know how to keep a secret, Fray! You of all people should know that!”
Clary pats him on the shoulder. “Yeah, I know, I know, Simon. It’s not about you, it’s just…” She looks after Alec, too; he’s gone by now, vanished in the crowd. “Alec’s really bad off, okay? His people, they didn’t just kick him out, they hurt him real bad.”
“‘His people’? Like, what? A cult or something?” Simon’s eyes turn round behind his glasses.
“Or something,” Clary mutters thinking very unsavory thoughts about the Clave.
“Wow, really? Just because he’s gay? Who would even do such a thing?” Simon asks, truly shocked and disturbed.
Clary grins. That’s why she loves Simon so much. “Idiots. That’s who!” she states with conviction. Then she says, changing the subjects, “So, what did you want to show me? You mentioned something at school…”
Simon brightens up. “Oh, yes! I got this really cool keyboard from Bubbie Helen! Wanna see?”
“Sure! Lead on!”
Normal… mundane things. Fun stuff. Bits and pieces from before her life turned upside down and sideways for good measure. Clary’s happy that she still has… this, that she still has Simon.
She doesn’t allow him to cross the street until they’re past the vampire den and the possibly possessed guy in the duster, keeping her best friend safe from dangers unseen - her old and new life now forever entangled.
Chapter 9: Alec Fray #9
It’s Alec’s sixteenth birthday.
Alec receives his new papers as a birthday gift.
It’s him and Jocelyn and Luke and Dot and a very excited Clary and a birthday cake with sixteen candles - he’s never had a birthday cake before which Clary found simply sad - and they have a gift for him: his new - false - birth certificate and everything else, reading Alec Fray. No more Alexander Gideon Lightwood, just… Alec Fray from some no name place in Minnesota, nephew to Jocelyn, cousin to Clarissa.
He sits there, staring down at the papers, and he has to blink hard because his eyes sting and his nose is all clogged and his heart is clenched painfully in his chest. They did this, Luke and Jocelyn and Dot, for him, to keep him safe, to make him a part of their little family.
“Thank you,” he whispers thickly…
… and he feels like an ungrateful jerk, a very, very bad person indeed, because if he could, if he just could he would go back in a heartbeat, to his mom and dad, to Max and Izzy… and Jace. Because he misses his home.
It’s Alec’s sixteenth birthday that day but nobody at the Institute is allowed to even mention it. But they remember, Jace sees it in their eyes. And he does, too. A year ago… a year ago he hoped to have been soul-bonded to Alec by now. He thought he would celebrate this day with his parabatai.
Instead, he’s hiding in the bathroom, desperately trying to squeeze some last faint impressions from Alec’s t-shirt, anything at all. But the shirt’s been in his possession for so long that it seems to have lost all traces of Alec by now.
Still, Jace tries, squeezing his eyes shut, fisting his hands in the soft fabric, the tracking rune on the palm of his hand glowing brighter and brighter as he thinks of Alec and nothing but him, and… There.
… laughing people… a birthday cake… flickering candles… “make a wish…” flames snuffed… I want to go home, please…
And then… nothing. The shirt’s given Jace all there was and now it’s empty, it’s nothing more than an old, familiar piece of clothing. Jace buries his face in it and feels like crying. He doesn’t.
They’re lying on the floor, side by side, Alec and Clary, on their stomachs on the thick carpet, with their knees bent and stockinged feet in the air, toes wiggling.
“Why are we watching the fourth movie first?” Alec asks, confused, while the opening credits start rolling across the screen.
“Because it was made first,” Clary explains patiently.
Alec frowns. “But why–?”
“Shh,” Clary shushes him, “you’ll understand in time, my padawan.”
Alec turns the DVD box in his hands as two space ships race across the screen, the big one chasing the small. “I don’t get it,” he mutters.
Clary turns to him, clearly annoyed now. “Alec, I swear I’ll smother you with a pillow!” she threatens. “Who’s the expert on Star Wars here? I am. So hush and glue your eyeballs to the screen!”
Glaring at her, Alec mumbles, “Bossy!”
“You okay?” Luke asks softly as he closes the dishwasher and joins Jocelyn at the counter.
Paused in the middle of setting the last pieces of Alec’s demolished birthday cake aside for later, she’s staring at Clary and Alec. They planned on watching Star Wars tonight - Clary was appalled that he hasn’t seen it yet - but somehow, it devolved into a pillow fight. Clary’s now straddling Alec, pummeling him with a pillow - and they’re both laughing. It makes Jocelyn’s heart ache.
“Jonathan would’ve been as old as Alec,” Jocelyn whispers thickly, fighting back tears. “They were born only months apart. This… this could’ve been Clary’s life all along. If things had been different.”
Luke touches her shoulder in comfort. “I’m sorry, Jocelyn,” he says. Then he pauses and when he continues, he sounds hesitant, “Maybe you should tell Clary. About Jonathan, I mean.”
But Jocelyn shakes her head firmly and her expression hardens. “No. Her brother’s dead. And there’s no point in digging up the past.”
Jace’s in the training room. Again. It’s almost midnight and he seems to be trying to beat the punching bag into submission, hitting it so hard his fists have turned numb by now. He should be sleeping. But he can’t. Sleep’s been eluding him for months now. Ever since they took Alec away.
“You’re not giving up, are you?” a soft voice asks behind him.
He turns around, sweaty and breathless. Izzy. He looks around quickly, making sure that they’re alone. Then he says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She steps closer, careful not to be overheard. She’s not dumb, their Izzy. She lowers her voice. “You are still looking for Alec, aren’t you? You are not giving up - are you?”
Jace feels a pang in his chest at the imploring tone of her voice. “Iz…”
“He can’t come to us, not when Inquisitor Herondale and Consul Malachi made him the face of their witch hunt for… ‘depravity’, as they call it. And that means” –she steps even closer– “that we have to go to him.”
Jace stares at her, long and hard. “Do you even realize what you’re saying, Izzy? If they catch us–”
“I know,” she interrupts him firmly and her eyes gleam with determination. “But I will not let them take my brother away from me. The Consul and the Inquisitor can both rot in hell!”
A slow smile spreads across Jace’s face, all sharp teeth and danger. “Alright, then. I’ll tell you what I know…”
Chapter 10: Alec Fray #10
Werewolves, warlocks and all that hassle.
It’s Friday night and they just closed the shop for the day. Or at least they closed it for the mundane crowd, opening it for their… other clientele. So, it’s just Alec and Dot because Jocelyn and Clary went out for their regular mother-daughter-evening. It’s quiet and peaceful and Alec uses the lull to take out the trash.
And that’s when it happens.
He slams the dumpster closed and turns to go back inside - it’s a balmy night but the little alley behind the shop is not exactly a place to linger - when he hears the growl and freezes.
It’s starts low, turning progressively louder and more sinister, and then there’s a loud thump, and when he turns around slowly, he sees a werewolf standing on top of the dumpster, barely three feet away, looming over him. He’s huge and hairy and his eyes glow with inner light. And his teeth are monstrous!
Alec swallows hard - and drops to the ground. As the thing passes over him, he feels the air move and he hears the snap of teeth barely an inch or so away from his neck. And then he rolls, scraping his hands and knees, and when he stops, crouching low with his palms flat on the ground, and lifts his head, he sees the wolf hit the pavement softly and then whip around lightning fast, snarling.
Raziel! Alec thinks with his heart thumping hard. What now? The thing’s directly between him and the door leading back inside the shop - and also between him and the opening of the alley, Alec stuck at the blind end with a high wall behind him. If he still had his runes, he would have at least a slim chance to take down the thing. But as it is…
Snarling again, the werewolf digs its huge claws into the ground, tearing at the pavement, and then it jumps. And Alec prepares to roll again - only it turns out he doesn’t have to because something snatches the werewolf in mid-air and drags it down to the ground.
There’s a loud crash as the two shapes drop and roll, and then, in a crackling flare of magic, they both change back: one’s some stranger, white, massive and shaggy, with an unkempt, brutish appearance - and the other’s Luke, standing tall and unmoving between the man and Alec.
“Get out of my way, Luke!” the stranger yells. “That’s an order!”
Luke spreads his arms. “What do you think you’re doing, Theo?” he says, trying to calm the other man down.
Theo points over Luke’s shoulder, at Alec who gets up slowly from his crouch. “If it weren’t for him, the Clave wouldn’t be after me right now!” he rages, spit flying from his lips.
“And what exactly did Alec do?” Luke asks reasonably.
“It was him who pointed them in my direction to save that fool David’s miserable hide!” Theo spits out. “Now that useless mutt is with the Praetor Lupus and the Clave is out for my blood. They want to put me down like some rabid dog!”
It seems to dawn on Luke what’s happening here. “It was you who turned David?” he asks in disbelief. “You turned him and then you let him loose?”
“I did it to strengthen our numbers!” Theo protests, defending his actions. “We’re dying out because his people” –he stabs his finger in Alec’s direction again– “are hunting us for sports!”
Luke shakes his head. “And you think that turning unwilling people and letting them roam the streets, unsupervised is the answer? You didn’t do it to help your pack, Theo! You did it just because you felt like it. You always do whatever you want and damn the consequences!”
Theo narrows his eyes. “Get out of the way, Luke!”
But Luke doesn’t move. “No.”
“You would challenge your alpha for that… that brat?” Theo roars.
“Yes!” Luke snaps back.
And then they both start forward again, changing back into wolves in mid-jump and slamming into each other, growling and snarling, tearing at each other and rolling on the ground.
Alec looks around quickly, then he takes a running leap and jumps up onto the dumpster and from there he swings himself further up onto the fire escape to get out of the way. He doesn’t know if Luke can take his alpha or not but he’ll have a better chance if he doesn’t have to worry about Alec.
From the safety of the fire escape, Alec watches the two werewolves fight with his heart in his throat, praying for Luke’s safety. And though the fight doesn’t last longer than a minute or two, it seems like an eternity to him.
Finally, there’s a loud thump and a sharp crack and then magic flares up again, followed by silence. Alec doesn’t know who won but someone obviously did, the fight’s over.
Carefully, he climbs over the railing and drops back down into the alley, landing light and bending his knees to absorb the impact. Then he starts forward warily, ready to bolt if need be, but he has to check on Luke who got involved only to protect him and who might be hurt and in need of help.
“Luke?” Alec calls out softly.
And then Luke stumbles out from behind the dumpster in shredded and bloody clothes and with his eyes flaring green, the winner and the new alpha of the New York pack. But he’s also slashed and bitten and barely conscious.
Alec catches him before he can fall and screams Dot’s name.
Alec rushes into the living room with a tray full of bandages, an apology for not finding more around the apartment already on his lips, but he stops short, eyes going wide because there’s a stranger there, with Dot and Luke, a man dressed in flashy clothes and sparkling with glitter. Who…?
“I just need you to keep him from dying long enough for me to prepare the healing potion,” Dot’s saying to the man.
She’s kneeling by Luke’s side, trying to heal his wounds with magic but they’re refusing to even scab over and Luke’s bleeding all over her and the upholstery and the floor… Alec’s never seen anyone bleed this much and survive!
“Dotty, like I was trying to tell you,” the stranger says, exasperated, “I would love to help, you know that - Luke’s my friend, too! - but I had barely enough strength left to portal over here! I’ve spent the whole day mitigating a nixie family feud! I could maybe light up a candle but that’s it!”
Dot makes a frustrated noise as Luke spasm again, groaning in pain. Then she catches sight of Alec and her eyes widen. “I have an idea,” she tells the man, then she scrambles to her feet and walks over quickly. “Alec, honey, I have a big favor to ask.”
Alec sets the tray aside and looks down at her; over the last few months he shot up two inches and now he seems to be towering over her. “Anything,” he say and he means it.
She smiles at him. “My friend here is a warlock, like me. He can help us save Luke. But he doesn’t have enough strength left to do it.” She pauses, then she takes a deep breath and continues, “Would you be willing to share yours with him?”
Alec glances at the stranger who’s now kneeling by the couch on which Luke’s thrashing in pain, then back at Dot. “I don’t understand,” he admits. Because he doesn’t. He’s been trying to learn as much as he could about Downworlders and their customs since he started living here and helping out in the shop but he still knows very little.
“Every living being has a well of strength inside them - Shadowhunters even more so than others since their strength comes from angels - and we warlocks can tap into that strength, siphon it, you can say, use it and shape it,” she explains quickly. “It’s not exactly comfortable but it doesn’t cause any permanent damage, I swear, it’ll just make you tired, nothing a good night’s sleep can’t cure. But it would help us immensely.” She looks at him imploringly.
Alec’s brows furrow for a second. “So, basically, you want me to play a battery?”
Dot blinks at him, then she grins wide. “Something like that, yes.”
“Alright,” Alec replies. He still doesn’t know what to think of it but he would trust Dot with his life. And if it helps Luke…
Smiling, Dot pulls him down - his shirt’s already ruined anyway - and plants a kiss on his forehead. “Thank you,” she tells him, then she turns to the stranger. “Magnus? Alec here will lend you his strength. I promise I’ll hurry.” And with that she rushes out of the living room.
The stranger - Magnus - turns around and looks up from his kneeling position, measuring Alec guardedly. Even in the soft glow of the lamps everything about him sparkles, from the glitter in his hair to his no doubt expensive jewelry.
“Hi,” Magnus says finally, tilting his head to one side curiously.
“Hello,” Alec responds, stepping closer. He clears his throat. “What-what should I do?”
Magnus pats the carpeted floor by his side with one hand. “Come here.”
Alec complies and drops to his knees, rubbing his sweaty palms on his pants. He admits, at least to himself, that he’s nervous. He has no idea what’s going to happen and he hates the unknown. “And now?”
Magnus reaches out. “Give me your hand.”
Alec slips his hand into Magnus’; the warlock’s hand is soft and warm, not at all clammy or cold like Alec’s. Alec feels embarrassed.
“Magnus Bane,” the warlock says, shaking their hands.
Blinking, Alec looks down at their hands, still pumping up and down. What…? He glances up and finds Magnus grinning at him.
“I thought I should at least introduce myself properly before I tapped you like a keg,” he jokes gently.
Alec lets out a long breath and forces himself to relax because he realizes what Magnus is trying to do, that he’s trying to set Alec at ease, calm him down. Alec shakes his hand back. “Alec L–Fray. Alec Fray,” he corrects himself quickly.
“Great, Alec L-Fray,” Magnus tells him, winking. “And now, let’s help our friend here, alright?” He nods at Luke.
Smiling fleetingly, Alec nods. “Alright.”
And then he feels a tug, a strong, dragging pull deep inside him, and everything else falls away. The last thing he’s truly aware of is Magnus glancing back at him with wide, surprised eyes. Then his world shrinks to nothing but the feeling of being drained.
It’s the sensation of being watched that wakes Alec up.
Slowly he opens his eyes. He’s lying in his bed, curled up on his side and with his head pillowed on his arm, facing the window and the armchair in front of it - and also Magnus Bane who’s sitting in said armchair, cross-legged and with his elbows on his knees and his chin propped up on his fists. And who’s staring at Alec with a curious expression on his face.
“Hello,” Alec says quietly.
“Hi,” Magnus responds just as softly.
“You’re staring,” Alec points out.
“That I am,” Magnus agrees.
Alec furrows his brows. “Why?”
Magnus purses his lips. “Because you, Alec L-Fray, are quite a fascinating specimen.”
“It’s just Fray,” Alec corrects him. “Alec Fray.”
“Alright,” Magnus allows.
Alec’s about to ask what exactly makes him so fascinating, when he remembers. “How’s Luke?”
Leaning back in the armchair, Magnus waves a hand airily. “Fit as a fiddle. Or at least he will be soon, probably in a day or so, considering his newly won alpha status. Jocelyn and Clary are with him now. And Dot, too.”
Alec breathes out in relief. “That’s good.”
Magnus nods again. “That it is,” he agrees.
And then Alec frowns again. “And you are here why?”
Magnus wrinkles his nose delicately. “I’m here to keep an eye on you. Dotty read me the riot act for draining you like that.” He huffs. “As if I hadn’t warned her that I was wrung dry!” Then he pauses and glances at Alec sheepishly. “Still, I am sorry about that.”
Alec shrugs. “It’s okay. I’m just glad we saved Luke. If my strength helped, then there’s nothing to apologize for.”
“It did. And that brings me back to you being a fascinating specimen, Alec Fray,” Magnus states. “You’re a Shadowhunter. I felt it the moment I tapped into your strength.”
Alec freezes for a moment, emotions boiling inside him: fear, anger, shame, longing… “I was,” he replies in the end a little hoarsely. He knows he should deny it but he’s always hated lying. And besides, Magnus seems to know anyway, so what would be the point?
Hearing the pain in Alec’s voice, Magnus’ eyes, his whole expression turns from inquisitive to kind. “No, you still are, Alec. The runes, they were just the outward representation of who you were. They didn’t make or break you. Over the years, I’ve met several Shadowhunters who got de-runed - and not one of them was a bad person, just the opposite. Don’t let the Clave’s opinion be the measure of your worth.”
Swallowing hard, Alec whispers, “I’m trying not to.”
Magnus nods firmly. “Good. Because you just helped save a werewolf’s life by sharing your strength with a warlock. And from what Dotty told me, you saved another one of us from execution using your knowledge of the Accords. You are upholding your people’s creed and protecting the innocents and you don’t need runes for that. Just a good heart and a good head on your shoulders.”
Alec glances away, flushing a little. He’s never been good at accepting compliments.
“Alright,” Magnus say briskly as if sensing Alec’s awkwardness, “I should really be going now that I can assure Dotty that you won’t suddenly expire during the night hours.” Then he unfolds his legs, dropping his stockinged feet to the floor, and as he gets up, he leans over and with mischief in his eyes he whispers conspiratorially, “Don’t let Dorothea’s sweet appearance fool you, she’s mean!”
Alec hides his smile behind a blanket.
Magnus walks up to the door and stops there, turning back. “I’m glad to have met you, Alec Fray. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Alec replies, still smiling.
And it’s not until Alec’s about to fall asleep that it hits him, the realization, and his eyes fly open in the dark. Magnus Bane. It wasn’t just some random warlock but Magnus Bane himself.
Alec just met the High Warlock of Brooklyn!