Holly Frak
Draw The Shades, Pretend No Ones Home
Jalec, Angst, Romance, NC-17
words and collage by: calculatingthestars

They fuck in a mundane hotel.

Its easier to hide here, even with the sun painting landscapes on their skin. Easier to pretend that they arent doing anything wrong.

Theyd agreed to arrive separately, and Alecs fingers are shaking slightly as he slides the key card into the slot, wondering if maybe, just maybe, this is the one day that Jace wont show. Hell, if Alec still possessed any sense, he wouldnt have shown.

Their affair this strange, sad thing that has consumed his life would ruin his family if it ever came to light. Just the thought of the disappointment in his fathers eyes makes him hesitate, pausing at the threshold, the door unlocked but the handle still only half-turned.

A new spin on Schrodingers: Jace is both there and not there, waiting to touch and kiss and fuck, but at the same time hes back at the institute, a good little Shadowhunter practicing his forms. Alec could just stand here, waiting, both possibilities being true and untrue, and thus their sin would remain unrealized indefinitely.He dawdles for another minute or so, perhaps two, but in the end, desire wins out.

It always does.

Alec pushes open the door and something inside him unclenches when he sees Jace, already undressed, staring out the window. Even now, after everything, the sight of him still takes his breath away.

Youre here. Theres a tinge of surprise in Jaces voice, and it reminds him how tenuous this thing between them is, how fragile. One wrong word, one misstep in the wrong place, could bring everything crashing down around them.

Alec puts the thought out of his mind, shutters it away in a corner that he refuses to look at. Compartmentalize. Its the only way he can survive.

Of course Im here, he says, and then hes taking three long strides across the room and hes in Jaces arms.

He tries to control himself, to take things slow for once, but its been three long weeks the longest its ever been since they started this and Jace is clawing at his jacket and making low sounds in the back of his throat and Alec just fucking loses it.

Hes not even fully undressed before hes on his knees in front of Jace, swallowing him down as the other bites back whimpers against the back of his hand. When they fuck, its on the floor, a blur of bodies and rumpled clothing and pure, sheer want that it would overwhelm him if it had been anybody but Jace.

His lover.

His parabatai.

The room is a mess by the time theyre done, and Alec only has a vague recollection of why the desk has been upended, the couch overturned, the mattress laying half off the bed. He can still taste Jace on his tongue, still feel him inside of him, still revel in the touch of his skilled hands.

Youre worth it, you know, Jace is speaking now, though he looks no less devastated. Hes lying next to Alec, long fingers splayed across his chest. He doesnt have to elaborate; they both know what theyre risking, every time they do this.

Alec reaches over and touches Jaces wrist, brings it to his mouth and kisses the pulse point.

No, he says. Im not.

Jace makes a small noise in the back of his throat, as if he wants to argue, but Alec is already releasing him, turning his back on his parabatai.

You should leave first. He doesnt say anything else, and theyve done this enough times that Jace knows that attempting to continue would be an exercise in futility. He moves to get dressed, the bed dipping slightly and bouncing back up as he leaves, and Alec doesnt have to turn his head to know that hes angry.

A stomp as heavy boots are put on, a rustle of leather as his jacket is shrugged on. Then, finally, the door slams shut.

Hes alone.

Alec closes his eyes and sleeps.

Eventually, it ends.

Not because of anything so dramatic as someone finding out theyre far too careful for that but because Alec gets engaged. And Jace will put up with a lot in order to be with Alec, hell lie and hide and pretend he doesnt die a little more each day, but he wont stand by and watch him marry someone else.

We can run, Jace says, and Alec doesnt need to look into his face to know that hes deadly serious. We can just leave. Now. Tonight. I dont care when, Alec, just Please.

Its as close to begging as Jace has ever gotten, and Alec wants to put his fist through a wall, his knee through a door. Its as if the Angel himself is laughing at him at them with all of the heavenly host behind him. He isnt stupid enough to actually believe that homosexuality is a sin, but hes smart enough to know that leaving wont solve anything.

Were not running, he says, and hes proud (and ashamed) of how his voice doesnt crack. Im going to marry Lydia, like our parents want. And thatll be the end of it.

"You mean the end of us, Jace says, his penchant for stating the obvious in full force. Alec wants to turn around, to grab him by the arms and shake him, to tell him that this is harder so, so much harder for him because hes been in love with Jace for so long that he scarcely knows who he is without this love. Its an ache hes carried since boyhood, an open wound that had healed, partially, when hed realized that Jace had shared his feelings, but is ripped anew every time they part from one of their trysts.

Sometimes Alec wonders if it wouldnt have been easier if Jace didnt love him back, if his passion had been unrequited, left to burn bright but pure.

He shoves the thought from his mind; even now, with this marriage looming above them, he knows. Every stolen moment with Jace had been worth it, no matter what the cost.

Alec grips the window sill, shoulders hunching as he turns inward, trying desperately to rein himself in. Well still be parabatai, he says, and the mark at his back etched on his shoulder blade burns. Its enough.

The sound behind him is alien halfway between gasp and sob and Alec turns, eyes widening, as Jace comes towards him, hands fisting in his shirt. Is it? he asks, eyes wet for the first time since Alecs known him. Its never going to be enough. Not since He cant bring himself to finish, crushing his mouth to Alecs in a kiss thats more teeth than anything else, desperate and reckless and purely Jace.

When his parabatai starts to undress him, tearing insistently at his shirt, Alec doesnt even have the strength to argue. If someone hears he says, but the reprimand is half-hearted, in stark contrast to Jaces furious reply.

Let them.

They fuck, one last time, on Jaces bed, amidst rumpled sheets that smell like him, and Alec tries to make it last as long as he can. His parabatai leaves as much of himself on his skin as he can marking him with teeth and fingernails wherever he can reach; Alec cant blame him.

Afterwards, Jace sits on the edge of his bed, staring blankly at the curtains. Theres a light sheen of sweat on his skin, golden even in the dim light. Theres no breeze and the fabric hangs heavy before him, ragged edges grazing the floor.

Alec pulls on the remainder of his clothing, one piece at a time, a knight donning his armor. Jace, he says, but thats all he can muster. What had Isabelle said? Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

This is his birthright; he cant wont let generations of Lightwoods down.

The silence is palpable as Jace waits for something, anything, but Alec has laid his heart to pasture; theres nothing left inside of him but stone.

Eventually, his parabatais shoulders slump in defeat; he wont look at him, but even now, he cant tell him to leave. It would be a kindness to make the first move, to say goodbye, but Alecs weakness has always been Jace, and he cant crumble now.

He takes the cowards way out, wordless and alone, slipping out of Jaces room as quietly as he can.

The Institutes hallway looms large, and no one gives him a second glance as he exits his partners chambers. No ones the wiser, and Alec crushes the disappointment in his chest, steels himself for the rest of his life.

He doesnt look back.

Its a week later when Alec manages to get Jace alone again. He corners him in the training room after Isabelle leaves, shutting the door behind her before the other man can follow her out.

I have to talk to you, he says, and Jace frowns, his eyes flashing.

Youre still engaged. I thought I made it clear

I need you to be my best man at the wedding, Alec says in a rush, because prolonging the request will just make everything worse. Its happening next month; mother had to move it up because of He cuts himself off, no longer eager to blame the Fairchild girl anymore. Theyd done what theyd done, and it had been Alecs fault for allowing it. He could have stopped them his headstrong brother, his carefree sister he could have had them all thrown in lockup until their parents returned. Hed chosen not to; he would bear the responsibility for doing so.

Lydias coming in next week to make the preparations, he continues, relentless. Its not going to be very big, only the most important families will be there. You wont have to do anything just stand next to me.

For a moment, Jace is silent, his pallor ashen before turning a splotchy, angry red. No, he says, furious. How can you even ask me that?

Youre my parabatai, Alec says, incredulous. How many times had he stood by Jaces side Angel be damned if he thought he was right or wrong simply because his parabatai had asked? Hell, Alec wouldnt even be in this situation if Jace hadnt decided that Clary Fray was his responsibility, bending over backwards and risking all their lives to help her on whatever fool plan she conjured. People will talk if you arent my best man!

And thats all you care about, isnt it? Jace is relentless, stalking forward like a lion advancing on his prey. What people think.

He puts his hands on Alecs chest and shoves hard, the others back hitting the wall as his lips curl back in a snarl.

And all you care about is yourself, Alec shouts, grabbing Jace by the lapels and slamming him back against the door. Its always about you, what you want, what you need. Youre so selfish that you dont give a damn about anyone else!

Jace hits him.

His fist connects with Alecs jaw, stunning him momentarily, but Lightwoods are nothing if not fighters, and he comes up swinging.

Alec is bigger, but Jace is vicious, and it isnt long before theyre grappling on the ground without form or function, an errant elbow causing a split lip here, a fist creating a bruised cheek there.

Alec doesnt even know how he manages it, but he ends up on top of Jace, pinning both his hands to the mats while his parabatai glares at him defiantly. Hes hard both of them are, Angel help them and all Alec wants to do is lean down and kiss that stupid, arrogant look off of Jaces face.

And so he does, all the pent-up frustration bubbling to the surface as he kisses his parabatai, devouring every sigh, every startled moan that he manages to draw out of Jace. Theyve gone longer than this without touching, but it had felt so final the last time, so certain that they would never do this again.

They move against each other, desperate, wanting, and for once hes not thinking about how dangerous this is, how anyone could walk past and hear them. Alec has Jaces hoodie unzipped and his hand between his legs by the time he pulls back long enough to take a ragged breath, panting from the hickey hed just left on his parabatais throat.

Its only at this point that he realizes:

Jaces eyes are wet.

His lower lip is trembling and hes pliant even responsive beneath Alec, but his eyes are brimming and theres moisture on his cheeks.

And Alec knows without a doubt that if he kept going, Jace would let him, regardless of the fact that hed ended it, no matter how much it hurt him.

The realization is like ice water in his veins, and Alec sits up, releasing his parabatai as if burned. He moves back and turns his chin, looking away long enough for Jace to get his clothes back into place.

He feels stretched thin, ragged at the edges, as if the only thing thats holding him together is rapidly thinning ice. Jace makes a noise as he pushes himself up, zipping his hoodie up again as he sits there, trembling.

"Im sorry Alec tries, but Jace wont look at him, wont even meet his eyes.

Just go, he says, voice rougher than hes ever heard it. Please.

And Alec cant stand the thought of him being in so much pain, cant fathom leaving him like this, wrecked, but he knows that his presence will only make it worse.

Im sorry, he says again hopelessly, helplessly.

And then hes gone.

Its the day of the wedding.

Lydias dressed in gold, an ornate gown that conveys all the trappings of her stature. Theyre waiting in an office until they call for them, which Alec thinks is fitting given the transactional nature of their arrangement.

Isabelle comes in to give him a hug, dark eyes barely sparing Lydia a glance, and her disappointment is almost palpable, tightly shuttered underneath her perfectly coiffed hair.

After she leaves, Alec looks at his soon-to-be wife and she smiles at him, small and sad. Camaraderie in combat. It wont be so bad, she says, and she squeezes his hand. Alec squeezes back, but her fingers are like ice, and he cant shake the feeling of how wrong this is, how much he wants someone else to be standing in her place.

He thinks about Jace, stubborn to the last, refusing to stand beside him on the most important day of his life. Ask anything else of me, Jace had said. But not this.

Theyve barely spoken a word since then, the gaze that used to follow him everywhere now painfully absent, their bond taut and fraying. Alec himself is barely hanging on by a thread, and Lydia tilts her head in askance.

Where do you want yours? She holds up the back of her hand, showing him the bare skin. Put mine here. Its the most logical spot since shes left handed; she wont be able to draw runes there herself anyway, so its the equivalent of dead air.

A convenient place for a symbolic rune.

Alecs hand goes to the mark at his hip almost instinctively, the parabatai rune burning him through layers of cloth. Jace had drawn it there when he was seventeen, going through the ring of fire and flame without even blinking, his fingers so damned gentle when hed traced the sharp line of Alecs waist. He can still remember the feel of his fingertips, skimming the v of his hip down to where hed wanted it. Wanted him.

Even then, Alec had known. Jace had loved him, wanted him back, but this was his small rebellion against those feelings, at attempt to keep his emotions at bay. This will ease the ache, Alec had thought, because I can be content that well be together forever. I dont need anything more from him.

Hed been wrong, of course, but hed only found that out later, when he could finally feel just how much Jace was holding himself back through their fresh-made bond, so afraid that Alec would hate him if he knew. The ache of it was a living thing, pulsing and dark, and Alec had known beyond a shadow of a doubt that hed damn himself forever before he let it continue.

Two days after their ritual had been all it took. Two days before hed gone to Jaces room and simply taken him in his arms, carded his fingers through his hair and kissed him, over and over, told him that it was okay, that he felt the same way, assured him that no one would ever find out.

The beginning of the end.

His lack of a response is telling; the expression on his face even moreso.

Lydia takes one look at him and just knows.

Are you sure? she asks, and theres no malice there, only a vague sort of disappointment with a much sharper undertone. Theres no going back. Already, he can see the wheels in her head turning, searching for an angle on how to spin this to her advantage. Lydia Branwell; the consummate politician.

Shes going to be fine.

In response, Alec pulls the rings from his pocket, presses them into her hand. Please make sure my parents get these, he says. And tell them Tell them Im sorry.

Lydia presses her lips together, nodding, her pale fingers closing over the heirlooms. He takes one last look at her, framing her in a snapshot in his mind, holding the memory and tucking it away.

He knows this is goodbye, and this time, he has the strength to say it out loud.


Alec finds Jace on a bench in a mundane park, clad in his typical leathers and staring out into a small lake. His mark isnt active and people give him a wide berth, pulling children away when they stare at his tattoos a shade too long.

Youre married, then, Jace says hollowly as he approaches. Refusing to turn his head to look at him. Hes such a child, Alec thinks, and the burst of fondness in his chest hurts in the best way possible. Im not going back.

Not quite, Alec replies. And neither am I.

He sets his backpack down and takes a seat beside Jace, putting his arm around him and drawing him close. You cant even run away right, he says, sighing. You didnt bring anything with you. What are you supposed to do for food?

I have my stele, Jace says, voice tight, but hes turning into Alecs embrace like a puzzle piece clicking into place, hiding his face in his parabatais neck. I can just steal whatever I need.

Alec makes an exasperated noise in the back of his throat. Youre terrible at planning, he says. You never think things through and youre always making rash decisions. I dont even know why I love you so damned much but

Shut up, Jace says, and his hand is wrapping around the nape of Alecs neck and pulling him down for a fierce kiss. Its awkward as hell and the whole world can see and Alec

Alec doesnt care.

For the first time in his life, hes free.


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