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Parabatai

Chapter Text

   

"This is a risk."

 The words whispered through the forest, the star- studded midnight above the groaning trees casting just enough light to see the speaker and her companions, two small children and one other woman, who huddled beneath the twisting gray branches of an old elm  tree. The wind slithered through the naked branches, dead wood and shriveled leaves scratching out warnings to all who choose to travel the treacherous path that winds around the falling, rotting trunks.

The speaker turned to the woman beside her. Both women wore robes whose dark shades blended well with the murky night around them. These women were Iron Sisters, part of an elite faction of warriors tasked with molding the metal and fire of heaven into weapons for the angels’ chosen. These weapons are  wielded against the dark fiends that come to the world from the Void who wish to consume the life-force that can be found in this realm. Both of these women had taken to bed with a man, one a few years before the other, breaking their sacred vow to shun all men. Together, they had kept what they had done a secret, hiding the new growth in their bellies until the time came when it could be hidden no more. Each with the plea of pilgrimage, they  left the fortress of the Sisters to journey to Lourdes. The first woman to become pregnant, Jenneth, went and drank blessed water that allowed her a vision of what similar fate would befall Sycthia. Jenneth stayed for two years in Lourdes and when the time came, sent along a message to Sycthia to join her. Together they watched their sons grow and as time passed realized that an ancient prophecy, long considered to be myth, had come to pass within their sons. So here they stood, having had the heart and faith to trust, having made their deals, awaiting a long coming end on the brightest night in a rotten forest.  

Around their wrists and necks glinted demon wire, and in the irises of their eyes burned a ring of heavenly fire. Jenneth, a stouter woman with long braided back hair of a mousy auburn colour and a smattering of soft freckles across her round face, was the one who had spoken. At her knee clutched a boy of four, who had tufts of blond hair sticking out of his small scalp that were so golden, they could be mistaken for waving stalks of ripened wheat. Her partner, Sycthia,  was a regal woman of considerable height, skin like cream stretched over a crystal bone frame, dark hair cut short to curl like a halo around her pretty face.

"You know it must be done. Even the warlock agrees. You and I both know what fate awaits an Iron Maiden who has betrayed her sisters. You know the prophecy that links our sons."Though such a sure response left her lips, Sycthia clutched her own child all the tighter.

The boy, aged two, sat fat and sleepy in her arms, dark curls and long lashes inky drops upon skin, milk-white and translucent. He made a sleepy grumble and turned his face into his mother's neck. She shushed him and kissed his temple.

In the distance, the panicked scream of a horse shattered the night, an alarm that let them know that their predators were close.  The blond boy stood up straighter next to his mother, young eyes turning distrustfully to glare into the shadows.

"Sycthia, they are coming. Please, it is now, or not at all."

The taller woman, Sycthia, nodded. "The stele, Jenneth."

Jenneth handed over a rod of glowing adamas, heavenly metal that glowed silver white, and Sycthia gripped it tight.

"Set Sherlock down, there. John, come close." 

Sycthia kneeled next to the children. The younger of the two, Sherlock, whimpered and rubbed at his tired eyes, wobbly legs forcing him to lean into John, who gripped him tight about the waist, and watched as his mother rolled up the sleeves of each of their pajamas.

"Hold hands, love." Jenneth said, gathering their chubby  hands and clasping them together.

The children clung to each other as Sycthia brought the glowing stele down on  John's arm. The metal left a deep black mark against John's young skin as she wrote into him an eternal bond to be shared with the whimpering babe next to him. Every movement of steele to skin was mirrored on Sherlock’s arm, though the adamas rod dare not  touch his trembling flesh. On each child glowed a black cursive rune, and as they watched the black melted away into their skin, leaving behind a thin white scar in the exact shape of the rune.  Jenneth stood above the children, her eyes burning, arms raised, words falling from her mouth in a steady flow. 

The stele arched through the air, its glow leaving a streak through the night as Sycthia again brought it down on the children.

Over Sherlock’s heart she again made a mark. The white fire of the steele burned through the clothes the child wore, and as he let out a shriek of fear, the mirror image of it glowed into undeniable existence on John’s thin panting chest. The black rune stayed upon their skin much longer than the first mark, rippling on the surface of the skin like oil on water and though Jenneth did not pause in her chanting, both mothers stared at their children with eyes shining and dancing with anxiety.

However the marks shivered and took, imprinting new scars over fast beating hearts.The boys held onto each other, small fingers reaching out to latch onto the other with a desperation and need unnatural in children so young.  

"It worked! Oh, Thank the Angel!" Sycthia scooped up Sherlock and stood, turning to Jenneth to see her face contorted in weeping, the tears evaporating into steam as she came out of her spellcasting state and her eyes settled back from a fiery blaze to a simmer.  Sherlock, however, had immediately broke out in tears, struggling away from his mother, arms reaching towards the other boy. John seemed appalled at having Sherlock ripped away from him and, letting out an angry screech, kicked and pulled at the bottom of Sycthia’s robe.

The clank of metal and the sound of hoofbeats alerted the women to the approach of their pursuers, and the mothers looked at each other, grim seriousness once again covering them. They turned away from dangers approach, and rushed there children to the safety of the trees.

From among the trunks stepped out two forms. One, an older woman in a pink dress suit. Her eyes looked like an eagles and on her back there were two great grey-brown wings. The other, a man who looked fierce and other worldly, his ears pointed and face pale, except for a burn mark that crawled red over his chin and cheek.  He stood next to the woman and they both regarded the mothers and their children.

"Well, they aren't dead." The man said, a small twinkle of awe held in his eye.

The mothers nodded  frantically.

"You remember the deal?" Jenneth said urgently, handing John over to the man. The man nodded and remained stoic even as John kicked his heels into his stomach  in an attempt to get back to Sherlock.

The winged woman smiled and lifted Sherlock into her arms. Sherlock let out a shrill cry and squirmed, his pale blue eyes locked onto John’s red face.

Sychia sniffled. “Oh, hes always been such a noisy fussy babe and it will only get worse from here, I fear.”  

"Don't worry, love, I will take care of your little one." The woman said, tucking Sherlock’s  squalling face against the pink fabric on her chest.

Sychia ran her fingers over her mouth and nodded, a slight flutter the only thing giving away what she felt inside, and nodded. "You must go now. They are only a few moments away."

Both creatures disappeared, taking the children with them.

The two women turned toward the oncoming chaos, holding each other. They breathed deeply.

"Here they come."

"I love you, Sycthia."

"I love you, Jenneth"  

"May we merry meet and blessed be in death."

Sycthia nodded just as four horsemen burst from the shadows. The horses were interesting mounts, one white with sweat foam upon its hide, another  copper brown aggressively rolling its eyes at the dark forest and the dark horse next to it that disappeared into the shadows if it caught just the right angle.  The fourth horse and its rider clopped forward. They stopped in front of the women, a spot of moonlight twinkling greenly off the horses hide. 

"Sycthia Holmes and Jenneth  Watson. By order of the Clave and Council, due to your transgression against the sacred city of Idris, and your betrayal of the vows you took when you joined the order of the Iron Sister, you are hereby condemned to execution. Do you wish to argue your case?" The woman on the horse stared out from beneath her caped hood, the supposed  righteousness of what she was doing evident in her eyes.

Jenneth stepped forward and tilted her chin up, defiance radiating from the squareness of her jaw. Her hand she kept clasped in Sycthia's.

She cleared her throat, emotion suffocating her voice for a moment. "What we have done, we would do again. I feel no regret. Fuck the Clave and the Council! Down with the City! You have been corrupted by greed! The Shadowhunters have lost their purpose, and I do not wish to live to see their downfall. So kill me. I care not."

 The sword was drawn swiftly and brought down without second thought or threat, killing heavy and hot, and within a moment her head lay among the quiet, decomposing leaves, her hand ripped from Sycthia’s firm grasp as her body crumpled at Sycthia's feet.

Sycthia did not scream, though she dearly wanted to. A tear ran down her face as she lifted her stele and marked her own skin with the mark of Astareal, a rune that throws any living being who is present during its creation into death, including the castor. The stars above twinkled merrily on as below, five lives were snuffed from the earth.

 

It is said that to this day, a white ash tree grows where those bodies lay, and that it stands defiantly against the rot. 

              

Chapter Text

 A pond shimmers in the moonlight, stars twinkling above, the gentle hush of swaying pine scenting the air. A rabbit hops through the underbrush, pausing a moment at the edge of the water. If a thinking being would have been to pass by this particular pond, at this particular moment, they might have seen something very strange. 

The rabbit raised itself onto its fore-legs, and hopped away. The wind blew, the reflection on the pond rippled and all was silence.  

The reflection on the pond did not reflect the sky above. Where soft, needled branches waved gently in the wind there were instead the long strong branches of an elm seen upon the surface of the water. The knowing twinkle of the stars could not be seen in the mirrored heavens, and shadows seemed to shift within the depths. 

Suddenly, a man burst through the line of pine trees. He was fierce of face and unearthly beautiful for all of his features seemed to be spun from fine glass. He was dressed in rich silks, long hair  seeming silver in the dark. In his hands he held a young boy, who was squalling and clutching his heart. The child's face was red, and his golden hair was in disarray. 

The man looked behind him once, as if searching for some foe, before plunging into the water. 

The pair disappeared without a sound, the pond swallowing the child's cries, ripples spiraling out from the bodies impact. 

Then the ripples were gone as well, the quiet and stillness returning to the nighttime wood as if the man and his charge had never been. 

***************************

John awoke from his usual nightmare, breath coming in short gasps as he sat up in the dark. The scar along his forearm and the one present above his heart aching, as was common for them to do after a bad dream. 

John sat on a hammock woven from vines, one of many that swung from the strong,sturdy branches of the giant elm tree that some of the fey called home. 

John got out of bed, knowing that even though it was only early morning, and he had plenty of time to sleep in, that he would never be able to fall back asleep. He set his feet against the worn wood of the tree branch and stretched, his naked body curving as he raised his arms above his head. Wiggling his toes in pleasure at the sensation of the slightly humid forest air against his skin, John tried to forget his dream. 

Nightmares always hold similar themes, and for John, it was always that something precious and dear to him was being ripped away, leaving him all alone in a dark and dangerous world. 

John's home consisted of a hammock, a small wooden chest, a large mirror, and a basin from which water trickled in. The basin was built into the trunk of the gigantic elm, while the rest of the room was laid out across the flat surface of the branch. The branch itself was wide, John being able to stack four of himself and lay them perpendicular to the edges, and still have room to spare. 

There were no walls, and the branch itself was a dizzying thousand feet in the air, but John enjoyed the precarious position. 

For as long as John could remember he had lived in the Land of Faerie. It is an enchantingly beautiful place, so long as one is welcome there, and though the seasons and layout of the land have a tendency to be inconsistent, John loved this land. He knew that he was a mundane, a human, but plenty of changeling  mundanes lived here, and John figured that he was no different then any other. 

Although most changelings are eventually used for mating, John never questioned that he had yet to be taken even though he had come of age three years ago. 

As it was, John was satisfied with running wild with the pixies and goblins, fighting trolls and breathing deeply of the magic which infected every corner of the land. He even enjoyed the Seelie and unSeelie court, where fey royality played elaborate political chess games, with real lives hanging in the balance. 

So John was happy. And yet. 

And yet there were moments when his scars seemed to tighten across his skin, seemed to inflame his very blood. Sometimes John could feel a twinge of another life, something separate from himself but still inside of him. There were times when John would cry or laugh, and it was somebody else's joy and grief. He would often find himself gripping his heart, curled up on the floor, wondering why he never really felt alone and yet still was so very lonely. He hated how when he would look at anyone and think them attractive, almost immediately bile would rise in his throat and he would be violently sick. And most of all, he hated how Sholto would look at him with  a knowing eye, but would speak only in riddles. 

Sholto was the faerie who had originally stole John away from the human world. He had helped raise John, and trained him to be skilled with a sword and a bow. He also taught John healing magic, which John had had quite a talent for. Sholto was a Seelie Knight, and so had duties to protect those of the Seelie court from those from the unSeelie. From what John could see, this mostly meant that he made lots of deals with unsuspecting humans, and often granted their wishes with an ironic twist. 

John pondered this as he scrubbed his face at the water basin, the sweet water washing the last cobwebs of his nightmare away. Running a wet hand through his hair, he watched the sky become streaked with the dusky pink of the oncoming day. 

John was, to say the least of him, handsome. He was unaware that his appearance was often likened to that of a god. Years of living in the enchanted wilderness had given John a hard muscled body, and though he was short and naturally petite, there was no denying the compact power that gave his movements a determined edge. His skin was darkened from long days in the sun, and the contrast of tan skin against golden hair would have made artists weep for the beauty of it. And his hair was considered golden. Blond was simply not an apt description for the honey-metallic colour of the short, tufted locks. His face was a kind one, red lips and eyes as blue as queens blood expressing every range and variance of emotion possible with the most subtle of quirks. 

The soft beating of wings broke the quiet of the early morning. John turned towards the sound, a small expectant smile on his face as a pixie landed on his branch. She had large butterfly-esque wings of a soft pink, hair of the silkiest strawberry blonde, and a sweet smile. In her hands she held a tray with two tea cups. 

"Good morning,Molly" John welcomed her with a wave.

Molly set the tray down on the floor, brushing her hands off on her jeans."It would be a better one if you were actually dressed for once when I showed up." 

John smiled shyly and looked down at his body."I don't know why you are so squeamish about naked bodies. You work at the morgue, you see naked bodies all the time." 

"Well,um,John it's difficult to enjoy my tea with your human genitals flopping all about." Molly's face was very red. John laughed at her embarrassment before going to his small wooden chest and pulling out pants,jeans,and a plaid button up and putting them on. 

He joined Molly on the floor, sipping at the cup of tea she had brought him, watching the sunrise. 

"So, what time do you have to get going to the mundane world? Could you pick me up some of those custard creams?" John smiled at her.

Molly patted his arm."Of course,John." She shifted her weight."I have to go in an hour" 

John could hear the uncertainty in her voice. He sighed. "I'm not going to follow you through the portal. Sholto really kicked my ass last time. I just, God, I want to see the world I'm from. I feel like my destiny waits for me there." 

Molly looked at him sympathetically.                        "I understand,John. But you know the rules just as well as I do. Until Sholto gives you permission, you can't visit the human world." 

John heaved a sigh and rubbed at the scar on his forearm. "I know."

***************************

"You're late, John. Again." 

John leaned against the doorframe of Sholto's living-turned-training room. "Well, you know, I had to see Molly off,sir, and it's a bit difficult to get around without wings." 

Sholto looked at him sharply, stern but fond. 

General James Sholto used to be a very beautiful, very rich faerie. He lost both in a great magick fire that also killed his whole family and his entire commanding unit. He has been trying to atone ever since, and the most note-worthy thing that he took upon himself was the raising of John. 

"Don't make excuses. I get around fine on my own legs." Sholto flapped his undamaged wing, as if to scold John. "Come in here, boy." 

John walked in with a smile and took a seat. "What's going on, sir? Everybody seems a bit harried today." 

"Shadowhunters are coming to visit us. Some nonsense about a rouge fey loose in London." Sholto shook his head in annoyance. 

"Shadowhunters" John whispered quietly to himself.

It is a well known fact that Shadowhunters and Downworlders - that is to say, werewolves, vampires, the fey and warlocks - do not get along despite the Accords that dictate their peace. Shadowhunters are the supposed saviors of the world, and they take their jobs very seriously. While they are very good at killing demons and wielding angelic power, they are less great at diplomacy. In John's opinion, partly due to who his father figure is, the whole lot of them are arrogant sods, but still they fascinated John.

John stayed with Sholto long enough to grab a good breakfast and practice hitting the humanoid target with his arrows at a third of a league. As soon as he was finished, he took off towards the courts. 

Before John could even see the courts, he could hear them. The very air hummed with the anger of the faeries. For Shadowhunters to come here, to be accusatory, and worse, for them to expect the  fey to take responsibility for another, well. It was simply not on . 

 "Are you suggesting that we had something to do with this rogue troll?"

The Seelie Queen sat atop her throne, pale blonde hair billowing in the gentle breeze, slender nose and black orbish eyes doing all that was necessary to express her disdain at the intrusion of the Shadowhunters. 

John always thought that never was the ancestry of the fey more undeniable than when one was confronted with one of the queens. The fey come from the coupling of angels and demons, and both of the faerie queens had an unnatural beauty that spoke of heaven and a disturbing quality about them that warned of greater danger.

The two Shadowhunters that stood before the court were dressed all in black. One appeared to be quite nervous while the other, who seemed to be the appointed speaker, seemed quite calm. 

"Of course not, your highness. All Shadowhunters know of the fey's inability to lie. We simply ask that you take care of the situation. More then one mundane has seen the loose troll, who is not bothering to use a glamour to hide himself. We simply do not have the resources to spare in london to track him down and prosecute him, what with the war in Alicante and the surge of demons in the north. He's killed and eaten a whole party of mundanes." 

At this, the more timid Shadowhunter tinged green. John kept his chuckle to himself as he watched for the queens reaction. 

The queen sat back. "That is of no concern of mine. But, if it is a deal that you desire..." The queen lifted her hand and an ornate dagger appeared, floating in front of the Shadowhunter pair. "All deals must be made in blood." 

John felt his heartbeat pick up. All fey make deals, but the deals made by the queens could be dimension altering.

The Shadowhunter grabbed the blade and cut open his palm. He then took a paper from his pocket, and read from it.

"The Seelie Queen will handle the situation of the rogue troll in London, England. She will dispatch her best warriors to track and confine the troll, and use her magic to erase the memories of any mundanes who have seen the troll. Her men will assist any injured mundanes. Any deals made with these mundanes at this time will be void. After accomplishing this mission, the queens fey will return to the land of Faerie,taking the troll with them. The fey involved will keep themselves within the bounds of Shadowhunter law while they are in the mortal realm, meaning no consumption of human,Shadowhunter, and/or downworlder in any shape or form, although consumption of demon flesh is not prohibited, it is also discouraged. No harm may come to any mundane you encounter, even if they could feasibly be seen as a threat. In return, the local Shadowhunter institute will not prosecute the Seelie Queen for her lax control of border laws."

By the end of this lengthy paragraph, the Shadowhunter's face was quite red because the rules of making a deal with the fey state that it must be said within one breath and must be confirmed in the giving of blood. The fact that fey are known for being tricky business partners, however, explained away the precise language of the offer.

John was quite certain that the offer was not a balanced one. The queens expression seemed to agree.

"I will accept the lack of prosecution, but I need more. I will take your dog, Simon." The queen smiled at the silent Shadowhunter.

The uneasy Shadowhunter blanched, but before he could protest the one making the deal spoke. "I agree to these terms."

The queen laughed and the blood that had pooled in his hand rose in perfect orbish droplets to float in the air. John had heard of this part of deal making, but had never witnessed it. As he watched, the very reality around him distorted. The watching fey seemed to be replaced by skeleton counterparts, there skin melting off to puddle in the grass. The beautiful sunny sky became streaked with black clouds. Everything twisted to become a horrific nightmare version of itself, and John watched as the two Shadowhunters looked to each other in fear,but sadly they could find no comfort in each others gaze because their skin began to crackle, and they turned to ash before John's very eyes. The sounds of them disappearing into the wind seemed to echo around the quiet court. Then John blinked and everything seemed to be as it was, except where the Shadowhunter pair had stood, there was now a large yellow dog, expectantly wagging his tail, tongue lolling. The queen stepped off her throne to pat the dog's head, and the dog happily licked her face. The queen removed the dogs collar, and everyone began to wander off, the pace of the day seemingly continued.

"Wait, what just happened?" John said aloud to no one in particular."I'm sorry..did....did she just..?" John retracted his pointing finger once he realized that no one was paying him any mind. Scratching at his blond hair, John left the courts and went about the rest of the day with a furrowed brow and a preoccupied mind.

At dinner, He and Sholto had jut settled in for a meal of roasted acorn, whipped potatoes and creamed corn when a knock came upon the door. Sholto stood to answer, as it was his house, but as soon as he had opened the door he was bent over in a bow.

"John" The queen said, standing in the doorway as if calling upon her subjects at dinnertime was something she was in the habit of doing.

John choked on the potato he had been eating, and stumbled to his feet, knocking over his cup as he did. The tea spilled all over the crockery, and John hastily tried to blot it up while remaining bowed. "M-my queen!"

The queen laughed at John's awkwardness. "Come. sit. We have much to discuss."

After the tea was cleaned and the queen served a portion of the meal, the queen reached across the table and took John's hand with a smile. "You are needed, John. You are one of my best warriors and so I am contractually obligated to send you on the troll hunt, but you are not of the fey bloodline. If you remember, the deal I made with the Shadowhunters dictates that only my fey need return after the troll is stopped. It is so rare that I have a chance to do something with out the careful eye of those damned demon hunters upon me. We must seize this lapse"

A chill ghosted down John's arms. This moment in time felt like the hinge upon which his destiny swung. John swallowed and set his shoulders. "What do you need me to do?"

"I need you to deliver something for me." The queen said, and reaching into her bag she pulled out a small, fidgety rabbit. It's eyes were lively and seemed filled with a quick intelligence,and its fur glowed a gentle, glimmering blue. "This is Bluebell. She is a very special rabbit. I chose and raised her myself. I need you to deliver her to the warlock Sebastian on 112 Basker Avenue. Can you do that for me?"

John nodded. He tried to tamp down on the excitement that was broiling in his veins at the prospect of going into the mundane world, but he was sure that it showed in the glint of his eyes.

"John, this mission is of the utmost importance. You must not fail me."

The thrill of warning that tingled down John's spine at that only made him grin.

************************

It was a blustery dawn, the sky still clasping to its navy shades although the night had already given up its clasp on the world. The tall metal buildings gathered the meager light of the awakening sun and turned it into sharp, earthbound stars on steel. Most of the living in the city were still wrapped in warm beds, drowsy dreams hanging over them. Those who walked the streets rubbed the tiredness from their eyes and left steamy streamers of coffee behind.

No one noticed the ripple in the air over the park, of the seven shadows that emerged from it.

Six of these seven shadows moved quiet and silver-quick.

John knew he was lagging behind, but he couldn't help it. He had caught glimpses of the mundane world through the portal, of course, on the few occasions that he had tried to escape, but standing in the middle of it, breathing in the smog of overcrowding, hearing the distant cry of sirens-John felt that this is what it meant to be alive. There was a heartbeat to the city, and John could feel the quiver of it beneath his feet as he ran along its alley ways. Joy bubbled up inside of him, electricity crawling along the scars on his forearm and chest. He let out a laugh that lingered in that alley way long after he was gone from it.

Finding the troll was easy enough, seeing that it left a path of destruction in its wake and brutalized any light source it found. Trolls were big, dumb creatures with weak eyes, strong jaws, and keen senses of smell. They generally stayed underground and were no harm to any one other then dwarfs and goblins.

As John was clambering over yet another felled street lamp, the others in his unit buzzed ahead of him, where the troll could be seen slumped, with his giant hands over his eyes.

The fight went on for merely a moment. It did not take much to make the troll fall for it was already hurt and confused. Sarah, a member of John's unit, crushed a sleeping potion into the trolls face and he toppled backwards with barely any assistance from John's arrow in his knee. As the troll attempted to keep his balance however, he knocked one of the buzzing faeries near his ear unconscious with a swipe of his large hand. The faerie began to free-fall. None of the other fey seemed to notice, occupied with the troll.

John began running, hoping to catch his friend before he was crushed by the meeting of gravity and ground. "Billy!"

Seeing that he wouldn't make it in time, John jumped and caught Billy in midair. John tucked the faerie in close to chest,coming down hard on his side to avoid crushing his back pack. John felt the burn of the pavement tearing his skin, and a sharp pain in his leg letting him know he came down on something wrong.

"The Angel, John! Are you alright? That was quite a fall, although I'm sure you saved Billy's life." Sarah flew over to John and hovered over Billy, checking his head for wounds.

"I'm fine. Everything is fine." John smiled to cover his pain as he stood. "Now, the five of you had best get going. The day will be starting in earnest soon, and you don't have enough strength to cover that troll from direct sight and carry him all at once." Sarah nodded encouragingly.

"Be safe, John."

and with that, they were gone.

John found that if he limped, he could take the pain in his leg. Figuring that it was something like a knocked joint or bruised bone, John set off looking for Basker Avenue. He hadn't a clue where he was going, but he had always had a good sense of direction and he usually ended up where he needed to be. He followed the niggling sensation that told him turn right, go left, continue straight ahead. He was moving at a moderate pace, but soon he was finding it hard to catch his breath and the world spun around him. Sliding his backpack off his shoulders and onto the ground, hoping Bluebell was okay in there, John leaned against the glass window of a cafe. He stooped and rolled up his trouser leg.

Blood was rolling down his calf and being absorbed by his socks. The red wetness was surprising, but he hadn't the time or desire to find a place to remove his clothing and see what was going on, so John tore a strip of cloth from his shirt and tied it round the joint of his leg, praying that would slow the bleeding.

Feeling a tingle on the back of his neck, John turned to look inside the cafe. Sitting next to the window with stacks of paper strewn around him and long,pale,delicate fingers wrapped around a steaming coffee cup was a man who was perhaps a little younger then John. He had hair as dark as a raven-wing that looked as if it had been tossed about in a tempest. He sat ramrod straight in his chair, and he was looking directly at John with eyes so pale that for a moment John felt submersed in an icy pool of water, lungs drowning in the refreshing chill.

John faltered for a moment, checking that his glamour was still up. It was and, reassured that the man couldn't see him, John took a moment to observe his features. It was an odd face, not immediately recognizable as beautiful, but after a moment it dawned upon the viewer that it held within its confines otherworldly allure .  He had high cheek bones and a delicate, hairless jaw. His bottom lip was full and plump, and the top lip was a strange pairing for the bottom because it was small and seemed to strain under the arc of a cupids bow. Both lips were pale, except for the parts of his lip that were closest to the opening of his mouth, where the softest and sweetest hue of pink was held. John tore his eyes away from staring at the man's lips, feeling awkward. The man's nose was an upturned snub with an adorable little dimple in it. John laughed at himself for thinking such a thing about a stranger, but even as he turned away he couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity he felt for the man. Rubbing at his scars, which had suddenly started to burn, John continued on his way.

After about twenty minutes of limping around without a clue as to where he was going, John became aware of a shadow lurking behind him, following him. John sped up his pace and began weaving in and out of alleys as he went. Unable to shake whatever was following him, and with black spots dancing in front of his eyes, John slid down against a wall and opened his back pack. Bluebell looked up at him, her tiny pink nose wiggling happily. John closed his eyes.

A moment later, he opened them, but now the world was sideways. John could feel his how sluggish his heartbeat was, and he would have laughed at the irony of dying from blood-loss, of all things, during his first outing into the mundane world, but he hadn't the breath for laughter. As his vision spotted out he saw a tall dark figure making its way towards him. He had time to think about how much his scars where hurting him, and then the world went dark.                  

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The night was one of those rare nights when the stars themselves seemed to sing a silver key melody over the hushed midnight of a sleeping city. The dark sky was neither blue nor black, but held the mysterious depth of an infinite in-between. A winged shadow sliced through the crisp night air, spiraling down into the false twilight of a city street. Wings tucked against her back, a streetlamp banished the mystery from her form, revealing a women of a grandmotherly age walking down the street with a child tucked close to her heart. 

Coming upon her destination, the women pulled a set of keys from the pocket of her pink pencil skirt. She bustled herself and the toddler into the building of flats, and letting  the child go, she watched as he bobbed in midair with a very curious expression on his young face. Sighing, she went to make herself a hot cup of tea.

"Oh, Sherlock," She shook her head sadly as the boy fell asleep on the supporting cloud of her magic. "Whatever is to become of you?"

************************************************

Sherlock awoke with his back on the floor and papers over his face. For a moment, his dream lingered with him and he believed that he was still in primary school, pushed flat on his back and his papers trod on, the resounding call of "freak" and "fag" echoing down the hallway driving him mad.

Sherlock rolled over and felt the reassuring give of the carpet beneath him. Standing and stretching out his stiff muscles, digging his toes into the floor, Sherlock walked into the kitchen of his little flat. The table was covered with all manner of scientific equipment, and while surveying the mess, Sherlock caught a glimpse of himself in a reflection. Frowning at the odd, severe planes of his face, he let out a huff through his nose and, for a moment forgetting his modesty, clambered downstairs to Mrs. Hudson's flat.

"Mrs.Hudson!" He pounded on her door, the whole thing rattling underneath the force of his closed fist. "Mrs.Hudson!"

The door swung open and Mrs.Hudson stood there with an alarmed expression on her face. "Sherlock! What are you doing, beating down my door? It's past three in the morning!!"

"Is it?" Sherlock looked around, a mock look of puzzlement on his face. "Gee, I hadn't noticed."

Mrs.Hudson clucked her tongue at him. "Oh, Sherlock, where are your trousers? You got nothing but pants on beneath that robe!"

Sherlock swept into her flat and plopped himself down on her sofa. "Mrs. Hudson, you've been alive for nearly a millennia and caring for me for seventeen years, I implore you to check your ideas of decency at the door."

Mrs.Hudson huffed, but Sherlock could tell it held notes of fondness in it, and when she walked by and ruffled his head of dark curls, he let his grin show a little bit.

"What do you need,my dear? Nightmares again?" Mrs.Hudson put on a pot of tea, and a plate of custard creams appeared to float invitingly over the coffee table. "Dreaming about all those nasty kids, I swear, I never should have let you go to school, but you insisted, and well, what do I know about kids, I haven't been one for some thousand or so years, and i thought well, it couldn't hurt but -"  

Sherlock's sigh was loud enough to interupt her. "The rambling, Mrs.Hudson, we talked about it." Taking a custard cream and pulling it apart to lick the insides out, he continued "And, it wasn't 'all' those nasty kids, it was two children, bigger then the rest, who had there own issues and took them out on me because I radiate defiance of the social norm."

Setting a cup of tea down in front of him, Mrs.Hudson shook her head. "Not when you were younger. You were the sweetest child, always so curious, never crying over anything. You never did learn the skill of tact, though, darling, and I've had to bribe quite a few warlocks and other creatures besides to keep there mouths shut. Everybody was always wanting to report you to the Institute, you know."

Sherlock rubbed at the slightly raised scar on his forearm, feeling a strange desire to giggle overtake him. "It isn't my fault that I can see through glamours, Mrs.Hudson. And I have gotten very good at pretending like I don't see what's right in front of me. Its been the most trying when I am called out on cases for the Met because honestly half of the police staff are werewolves and they barely bother to hide it. Molly, the girl at the morgue, is a pixie, although she is very good with glamours. Its almost strong enough that I can't even tell."

Sherlock stared into the swirling brown of his tea, chewing on the inside of his lip. It has been a puzzle that has plagued him all of his life. Why is he able to see through magical shields of concealment? Where did the scars on his arm and chest come from? Why did they hold similarity to ancient runes? Why was he raised by a warlock?

He knew Mrs.Hudson held some of these answers, but despite all appearances, Mrs.Hudson wasn't a toddy old woman with a gossiping problem. Sherlock knew that his caretaker was one of the most feared and respected warlocks in all of London, perhaps in all the world, and that if something was being kept from him, it was undoubtedly because his ignorance was to play a part in some greater plan.

Not knowing still frustrated the piss out of him though.

There was another thing, something that Sherlock never mentioned to Mrs.Hudson even when he was a little boy. Part of him was certain that it was a sign that he was just as mad as everybody accused him of being, and he feared it. Sherlock sometimes felt things, emotions and phantom pains that weren't his own. There were times when he needed to do something, such as shoot with accuracy or run for miles, things that Sherlock knew he couldn't do and yet. He could, but it also didn't feel like him doing these things. There was another presence inside his mind, one that prompted him to give to charity and use terse politeness at the grocery store. He couldn't shake it. It came from inside of him, but wasn't him.

A buzz from his mobile distracted Sherlock from his thoughts.

"Thanks for the tea, Mrs.Hudson. Lestrade needs me, no doubt for something trivial and uninteresting. Have a good day."

Kissing her on the cheek, Sherlock ran upstairs and changed into more appropriate attire for the day. Stepping outside to the newly dawning day, he hailed a cab and gave the address.

"Basker Avenue, as quick as you can."

***********************************************************************  

When Sherlock arrived at Basker Avenue, he could sense the disturbed mindset of the police officers immediately. He could smell sulfer in the air, and with an elegant wrinkle of his nose, he brushed aside the caution tape.  

"Oi, freak!"

Sherlock closed his eyes in frustration.

"Hello, Donovan." 

Sergeant Donovan marched up to Sherlock with a disturbed look on her pretty face. She grabbed onto the front of his jacket and pulled him down close. 

"You have no right to be here." She gritted out between her teeth. "That being said, you better solve this one." 

She let him go roughly. "And for god's sake, try not to make it so obvious how much you get off on this sick stuff" 

With that parting sneer, she strode off, rubbing at her eyes.

Interest undeniably peaked, Sherlock approached the crime scene with an equal mixture of caution and curiosity. 

Beyond the flashing lights of the police cars and the flock of grey-clad detectives, there was what appeared to be graffiti. Upon closer inspection, Sherlock realized that the brick wall of the alley was, in fact, covered in blood. 

The blood was painted on the wall in a massive circular pattern. Gibberish runes and other cult-ish nonsense followed the curve of the pattern, and in the very middle, nailed through her stomach with a large white stake, was a little girl no more then eight years old.

It was obvious from looking at the girl that the blood used to write on the wall around her was her own. She was shockingly pale, her small face frozen in a look of rage. She wore a pajama set covered in small unicorns, and her hair was pulled up in ponytails. 

After the initial shock of seeing her wore off, Sherlock was able to swallow the stinging lump that had formed in his throat to take a closer look.

Stepping up to the body, Sherlock began going down his mental checklist. 

What can I hear? 

The sounds of nearby traffic. The clinks of a cafe getting ready for the morning rush. The chatter of the police detectives, which unfortunately drowned out most everything else. Sherlock debated snapping at them all to shut up, but with a sigh, he decided it wasn't worth it. 

What can I smell?

The disgusting smell of rotten sulfur seemed to cover everything, but underneath Sherlock could detect a whiff of cologne. There was also the tang of brick-warmed blood, but since that smell was easily explainable, Sherlock dismissed it. He could also smell something sweet and cloying.

What can I feel?

 Pulling on a pair of rubber gloves, Sherlock ran his hands over the little girl. Ignoring the disconcerting feeling of her stiff little limbs, he processed that her hair was damp. The stake that was holding her pinned to the wall, Sherlock realized with some shock, was made of bone. Her skin was also oddly hot, considering that her body held no blood and it hadn't been sitting in the sun. 

What can I see? 

Eyes lingering on her little frozen face, Sherlock's eyes roamed her body. He registered the mud on the bottom of her feet, the lack of any bruising or signs of restraint. The flicker of metal caught his attention and he saw a necklace around her neck that had a small charm on it. Observing the wall, He noticed that small flecks of herbs were peppered throughout the the girls dried blood. Looking down at the surrounding ground, he saw the stumps of wax were candles had been placed. 

The clearing of a throat had him turning to look.

"What do you have for me?" Detective Inspector Lestrade stood there in all his graying, wolfish, weary glory, hands on hips and eyes carefully avoiding looking at the dead child.

Sherlock stood and removed his rubber gloves, snapping them off his fingers with a semi-dramatic flourish. 

"Well, she was taken from her house last night, probably around midnight. She went with someone she knew and probably trusted, but they were in a rush because they forgot her shoes. There is a lot of satanic nonsense here, from the blood to the herbs to the candles, not to mention that this girl was chosen because she was 'pure of heart' or some such, judging from the unicorn imagery. The person that did this, a man by the cologne, had to be extremely strong in order to drive that stake through her stomach and spine and  the brick. The blood on the wall is the child's though there is no visible sign of any cuts. There is however the sweet smell of vomit, so I believe that she, improbably, threw up nearly all the blood in her body and her murderer took it and used it for fingerpaint. Judging from the scent of sulfur, Inspector, I would say that this was a demon summoning, which means that this is not my concern and you should charge the local Institute to arrest and punish the warlock responsible."

The DI moved close and gripped Sherlock's arm tight. "I already tried that, but those damn black-clad dickheads are 'too busy' for something as mundane as this."

"Well, what do you expect me to do about it?" Sherlock tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice, but he didn't try too hard.

"You have..." Lestrade looked around and lowered his voice. "Connections."

"So do you, Detective Inspector." Sherlock said with a raised eyebrow.

Lestrade sighed. "The Proctor Lupus doesn't bother with cases like this,we are strictly werewolves and vampires and you know it."

"You have some authority, surely?"

Lestrade shook his head. "Only on the police force, and these people can't solve a case like this."

Sherlock sighed, about to protest that he can't solve a case like this either because it would likely bring him in direct contact with Shadowhunters, and that was something that absolutely must never happen, according to Mrs.Hudson, but as he rolled his eyes to explain to Lestrade his situation involving the shadow world (again), his gaze caught on some of the runes that had been carefully painted on the bottom curve of the wall.

Two runes, side by side, that he would have dismissed as nonsense runes had he not seen those very same markings every day when he got undressed.

He felt as if the world around him was suddenly distant and muffled, all speech spoken at a murmur, almost like he was viewing the world through an encasement of water. His mouth went dry, and he walked to the wall bending down to get a closer look. The rust color of the runes seemed to burn an after image into Sherlock's eyes, so that he saw it even when he blinked. Breathing heavy, he backed away on shaky legs.

He could hear someone calling to him, but he was moving away and soon he was surrounded by a crowd of strangers. He blinked the blur away from his vision. Feeling a bit off balanced, he went to the nearest bookstore.

Slapping a credit card down on the counter in front of the cashier, Sherlock said "Give me everything you've got on ancient languages and mythology."

*****************************************************************

Sherlock spent the rest of the day sitting on the floor of the bookstore, shooting glares at the staff and any would be customers. He read book after book, and commandeered a computer to print a bunch of stuff from the internet as well but he wasn't finding anything that looked even remotely close to the scars on his arm and chest. In every mythology that existed, the only common thread was demons, monsters, things of that ilk.

A sudden stab of fear shot through Sherlock's chest, and his head snapped up to look around the store. Softly floating dust motes and quickly fading sunlight and a single worker were all that shared the space with him. Frowning, Sherlock felt his fear turn to confusion. He had no time to sort through these tricky, uncalled for (and not to mention annoying) emotions. He huffed and shuffled his feet in front of him, causing a whole stack of his books to fall over. This called the attention of the store keep, who was quick to come over and shoo Sherlock out.

Stalking the streets as the sun set, Sherlock's eyes suddenly caught on the honey tipped clouds. An idea shot into his head.

Christianity. That had to the the answer. It was the only mythology that doesn't show up on a search for mythologies because its considered a religion. Quickly trying to call up  what he knew about Christianity and runes, Sherlock almost didn't even see the giant hole in the ground, and he very nearly tripped over it.

Puzzled and most frustrated at this turn of events, Sherlock looked around for what could have caused such a large hole in the ground.

Some way down the street, there was a huge monster with tusks and a pink snout. Thick brown hair protruded from the even thicker skin, and the giant beast snuffled about, his small beady eyes watering from the dim light.

With a shrug, Sherlock resolutely ignored this monstrosity. It wasn't the first time that he'd seen a creature from a fairy tale, and he knew it was unlikely to be the last. he was used to seeing things that no one else saw.

But this time, Sherlock didn't know that everybody else could see it too.

**********************************************************************************

The whole night Sherlock spent wandering the streets, thinking and rubbing his scars. At the first light of dawn, Sherlock was hit with just how cold he was and went into the nearest cafe, setting up shop next to a window and ordering a hot tea.

He was drinking his fourth cup and puzzling over the idea of a secret angelic runic system that he had read about on an online forum when the window next to him suddenly rattled. Sherlock startled, and looked out.

The back of a panting man, dressed in some kind of uniform, was pressed up against the window. Sherlock saw, with some surprise, that this man was covered in an invisibility glamour, and Sherlock carefully arranged his facial features so it looked as if he was simply staring out the window and daydreaming.

Sherlock watched as the man bent over and rolled up his pant leg. Sherlock's eyes wandered down the expanse of a muscled back and a tight bum, before he swallowed and resolutely stared at the back of the man's neck.

The man ripped a bit of cloth from his outfit and tied it tight around leg. Then, with a start, he whipped around to stare directly into Sherlock's eyes.

Sherlock tried very hard not to react as the man observed him, but he was hard pressed not to lick his lips as the man stared at them for a disconcertingly long amount of time.

As for himself, Sherlock thought that he had never seen a man so lovely in his life. He was a small man with a face that looked prone to quiet smiles and laughter. His eyes were so dark blue as to be mistaken for violet.

 a fathomless ocean  Sherlock thought.

Those eyes stared out of a face that was painted golden from the harsh rays of the sun. His hair was a color that Sherlock couldn't quite name, not truthfully blond, but more as if he wore a star as hair, winking silver and gold and copper all at once. He had a muscular build, and as he turned away, with some apparent reluctance, Sherlock couldn't help but follow him with his eyes, and before he knew what he was doing, Sherlock was following with his feet as well.