Chapter 8: Parabatai

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Clary blinked. “Excuse me? I thought you said you were my brother.”

“We’re leaving. Now.” Jace grabbed her arm, limp with surprise and tugged her to the door. With a quick glance over his shoulder, he pushed her gently through the door, ushering her quickly down the sidewalk and away from the diner.

“Wait!”

Jace jerked to a stop as Clary spun, her eyes still wide and her breathing erratic. The man jogged their way and Jace crouched once again, raising his dagger menacingly.

“STOP. Just leave us alone.” Clary’s breath abruptly caught as her foot froze mid step .Jace rolled his eyes. “Clary, just stay behi-”

“I froze her. This is just for you.” The man-Jonathan-skidded to a stop in front of them, his eyes sad, but understanding. He held his hand out, a crumpled slip of paper gripped between his fingers.  “Please. Just take this. If you need me, anytime-day or night-call that number and I’ll be there immediately. Nothing is more important to me than Clary. I’ve spent so long trying to find her.”

He sighed, raking his hand through his white blond hair, clearly unconcerned with the dagger Jace still gripped tightly.

“Why? Why have you been trying to find her? What’s in it for you?”

“She’s my little sister. This-this…everything goes much deeper than you can imagine. You can’t trust anyone. There’s a traitor-someone loyal to Valentine-somewhere around you.” Jace raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know who yet. Please-just…please keep her safe.”

Scowling, Jace weighed his options. He knew Jonathan could just freeze him and take Clary. And yet-he wasn’t. Either he really did just want to protect her or this was some elaborate ruse. And for once, his gut was no help. He was so terrified of something happening to the tiny girl behind him that his instincts seemed to be frozen. After a brief moment of silence, Jace’s tawny eyes met Jonathan’s emerald ones. He nodded slowly and reached forward to take the paper still clutched in Jonathan’s outstretched hand, glancing quickly down at the ten digit number scrawled messily across it.

In the blink of an eye, Jonathan had disappeared and Clary stumbled forward into Jace. Her head whipped around spastically, searching frantically for any sign of her unknown brother.

“Jace? What-where did he go?”

The paper was shoved quickly and unceremoniously into his pocket as Jace shook his head slightly. He tucked his dagger back into his waistband, reaching out to link his fingers with hers. He sighed as he noticed the tremble running through her as those beautiful emerald eyes whipped back and forth across the nearly deserted sidewalk.

“He left. Come on, we need to get back. I’ll find the waffle maker and make you something special, alright?” He leaned down, pressing a quick kiss to her forehead before he began leading her down the sidewalk. He needed to get her off the street.

x . x . x . x . x

“Why is she still here?”

Jace groaned as his head dropped to the counter in front of him, wincing when it made contact with the soapy sponge he’d been using. He wrinkled his nose as he strengthened, the sponge sticking to his face before dropping back to the counter with a ‘schlop’.

Alec barked out a laugh, leaning back against the wall as he covered his mouth with his hand, propping his leg up slightly.

“What do you have against her? Seriously? Just cause she yelled at you when we first met? She’d just been attacked…and you’re not exactly the most-welcoming-person…”

Alec crossed his arms over his chest and Jace faced him, leaning back against the kitchen island, his hands resting at his sides. He pursed his lips, his eyes glancing up every few seconds before dropping back to the floor

“She…you…” Alec paused, his brow furrowing as he tried to collect his thoughts. “It’s just-I’m your parabatai.”

His azure eyes raised, taking Jace’s stiff stance with a decidedly sad gaze. “You’re different. The second you laid eyes on her you became…” Alec pushed off the wall, his hands gesturing wildly as he began pacing around the island.

“You think this changes things with us?” Jace’s eyes were wide in astonishment as he gazed at his best friend.

“Well…yeah. I mean, you can’t even go out anymore…because of her.”

“Uh, no. I can’t go out anymore because your parents and Clary’s dad are paranoid about Valentine. Which seems like it might not be such a bad thing.” Jace paused, debating quietly with himself.

He trusted Alec with his life. But did he trust him with Clary’s? He bit his lip as he watched his parabatai-remembering all the times they’d saved each other. All the horrors they’d seen together. All the big life events they’d shared. They were close-closer than brothers…and he loved Alec.

“I need to tell you something.” Jace breathed deeply as Alec spun to face him, his hands on his hips in a stunning imitation of Magnus. Jace snorted as he nearly doubled over in laughter. “You’ve seriously been spending too much time with your boyfriend!”

Alec flushed slightly, but rolled his eyes. He refused to be put off, especially since he had long since become comfortable with his own sexuality-mostly thanks to his warlock lover.

Jace glanced around furtively, his eyes narrowing as Robert ambled slowly into the kitchen, seemingly engrossed in the sport’s section of the paper.

“Not here.” His voice was lowered. “Just follow me.”

x . x . x . x . x

“So-you’re telling me that Clary’s brother…the one who was just over a year old and supposedly died in the fire where Valentine supposedly died, but didn’t actually die…didn’t die either and is now somewhere in the city, supposedly because he wants to keep her safe?” Jace’s eyes furrowed as his brain fought to keep up with Alec’s convoluted question.

“Yes. That’s precisely what I’m saying.”

“And he just…what? Let you go after scaring the ever loving crap out of you?”

Jace reared back, a haughty frown crossing his face. “He did not scare me. I was worried-purely for Clary’s sake.”

Alec bit his lip, his nose wrinkling as he gave Jace ‘the look’. “This isn’t about her! Well, I mean it is, but it’s-you just hate her for no reason. Please, give her a chance man. I think-well…I don’t know, but…I think I may-I maybefallinginlovewithher.”

Alec’s eyes shot open wide as he sucked in a harsh breath. He let his back go slack, falling back against his headboard, his head banging slightly against the wall.

“You’re-what?”

Jace glanced up, an agonized expression twisting his angelic features. “I just-I feel…so much. The second I touched her this-” He glanced at his shirt covered chest, where they both knew that unknown rune still rested above his heart. “-appeared and ever since I just…I can’t stop touching her. And she doesn’t really seem to mind, even though we haven’t really talked about…anything relationship-y. And it’s just so easy with her. I can be myself-not like I can’t with you and Izzy, but it’s just…different. Ya know? You’re you when you’re with me but you’re different with Magnus…but you’re still you. Ya know?”

Alec gaped at him as he rambled and Jace glanced down as his crossed legs, his fingers twining together nervously.

“It feels like-she was meant for me. It’s weird. But it’s not something I want to fight. So-” He stopped and sucked in a deep breath, raising his amber eyes to Alec’s. “-I’d really appreciate it if you’d give her a chance. She really thinks you hate her. And I can’t have you both at each other’s throats every time we’re all together. It’s just-not going to work. Please?”

Alec closed his mouth, swallowing convulsively as he stared at his best friend. He considered his words. Maybe he hasn’t been fair to the tiny red head. After all, she was the reason he and Magnus were together. His brows furrowed as he lost himself in thought.

What it all came down to was Jace. He loved Jace. And he’d do anything for him. It’d been that way since-well, forever. Even before Jace had joined their family. He knew how much it cost Jace to actually break down and admit something this huge to anyone-but especially to him. He was always the one Jace felt he had to be strong for. But not anymore. Alec had really come into his own in the last few months-ever since he’d been with Magnus. So, yeah-he could definitely try to help Jace find that same sort of happiness.

“One condition.” He held up a finger and Jace nodded slowly. “She breaks you and I don’t care if she’s a girl. I’ll break her fucking face.”

“Alright Fred Durst. Condition accepted.”

They grinned boyishly at each other, slapping their palms together in a complicated array of gestures.

“Seriously?” Isabelle’s voice startled them and their heads whipped around to see her framed in Alec’s doorway. “You’re twenty-fucking-two and you’re STILL doing that stupid handshake thing?!? Ugh boys!”

Shaking her head, she swished her way back down the hallway, leaving the door open, hearing their laughter chasing her as she went.

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