Chapter 1: Inextricable
The fic starts with Clace and Malec, and turns into Jalec. Trigger warning for death. Yes, it’s sad. Then it gets slightly better.
Clary dies in childbirth. She’s 25 and they’re expecting a girl, a tiny kick-ass GI Jane. They plan to call her Amatis after Clary’s godmother, the older sister of her step-dad Luke. And then Clary dies. And their daughter dies with her.
Jace… Jace falls to pieces. He just breaks. And if it weren’t for Alec, who has been his best friend since kindergarten, whose family took Jace in after his parents died in a car crash, who was Jace’s best man at his wedding with Clary, who helped Jace paint Amatis’ room and assemble all the impossible furniture from IKEA… If it weren’t for Alec, Jace would break irrevocably.
But no, Alec’s there, always, whenever Jace needs him. He moves Jace into his and Magnus’ loft, he helps Jace pack Clary’s things, helps him get rid of all the stuff that Jace and Clary and their extended family bought for Amatis… and when Jace’s knees buckle at his wife’s and child’s funeral, he’s there to prop him up physically, steady as a rock.
It’s Alec who helps Jace regain some semblance of normalcy.
And two years later, Jace’s there to return the favor. He wishes it weren’t ever needed. Oh, just how much he wishes it!
When Magnus dies of cancer, two short weeks after having been diagnosed, he’s only 32 and he just made partner in his law firm. And Alec just… stops. His whole life simply comes to a halt. He doesn’t become emotional, he doesn’t rage against the world like Jace did after Clary’s death, he just…checks out.
But Jace is there, right there. He takes care of everything, from bills to funeral arrangements. It’s he who fights with Magnus’ father when the bastard has the audacity to try to get his filthy hands on his son’s estate. Jace sics Magnus’ lawyer buddies, Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss, on him, and he doesn’t allow the guy to get within a hundred feet of Alec.
And he’s patient. Jace wasn’t aware he knew how to be this patient. He moves Alec into his new flat, far away from all the things that remind Alec of his dead husband, but he doesn’t push, he gives no ultimatums. He’s just…there. And slowly, so very, very slowly he manages to pull Alec out of his shell.
Because he knows, he remembers what it’s like.
And Alec never moves out. And Jace never asks him to.
They watch TV together, curled up on the couch, under one afghan and with their feet inextricably tangled. They split the bills and buy groceries and cook dinner together. They go on vacation together, the first vacation for both of them since they lost their partners. They even get a dog together…
And soon, they become one entity in the eyes of their friends, Jace-and-Alec, not really two people but one unit. For their neighbors, they’re “the widowers from 12B.” For the giggling staff of the little café down the block, they’re “the cute couple that tips well…”
4 years, 3 months and 2 days after Clary dies and 2 years 1 month and 11 days after Magnus’ death, they kiss for the first time. They’re making steaks for dinner - and it just happens. It’s the barest brush of lips, noses bumping, and there’s no urgency behind it, it simply… is. And then they eat their dinner and walk their dog and watch TV, still curled up under the same afghan.
And when they make love for the first time, it’s as if something hurting and raw is finally soothed. It feels like a deep, content exhale after a back-breaking weight has been dropped off one’s shoulders.
“What do you think that they would say if they could see us now?” Alec asks, lying on his back in their luxuriously wide bed.
Jace, feeling pleasantly drowsy, rubs his cheek against Alec’s chest and smiles at the sensation of his lover’s knuckles running up and down his naked back. “Clary and Magnus?” Jace’s smile widens. “They would say, ‘Finally!’”
Chapter 2: Worn Thin
Maryse comes to comfort Alec after Magnus’ death. I just really wanted to write a fic where Maryse would hug Alec (and Jace).
When Jace calls her - “Maryse, please…!” - she comes. She drops everything and she comes because Alec needs her and the silence between them lasted long enough.
Maryse takes a deep breath to calm her jagged nerves but when she knocks and Jace opens the door of his apartment, her own anxiety is all but forgotten. He looks so sad and haggard, this boy that she and Robert took in at the age of ten, the boy she’s considered her son - the boy she’s lost when she rejected her eldest, Alec, over such a stupid thing as the “wrong” sexuality. God, what a fool she was…
“Mom…” Jace whispers brokenly and she takes a step forward and hugs him, holding him tight when he leans against her heavily and allows her to carry his weight for a moment, just a moment.
Maryse’s eyes prickle when she realizes how much her children have suffered and that she should’ve been there, all along, helping them, supporting them, instead of nurturing her wounded pride.
“You alright?” she asks as she pulls back and smooths Jace’s hair off his face.
He looks older; they haven’t seen each other in over ten years, after all, but it’s more than that, he looks worn down by life. He’s barely thirty and he already had to bury his wife - and now his best friend’s husband, too.
Jace smiles at her wanly. “Never mind me, I’m fine, really. It’s Alec I’m worried about. Magnus’ death” –he shakes his head– “it broke him. And I don’t know what to do anymore, that’s why I called.”
And Maryse’s grateful. She’s so grateful that he did. That he had the courage to take the first, most painful step. Maryse was too much of a prideful coward, desperately lonely and plagued with regrets, but still too proud and too cowardly to reach out herself.
Maryse didn’t know Magnus Bane, she’s never met him. She wasn’t at her son’s wedding, she missed all the happy days that he got to spend with his husband… but maybe, if Alec allows her to, she could be there for him now - for him and Jace both, even though Jace lost his Clary over two years ago. Another thing she missed because of her own stupidity.
“Where is he?” she asks softly.
And Jace takes her to Alec, to the guest bedroom where Alec’s lying curled up on the bed with his knees pulled up and arms wrapped tight around his chest - a man as tall as her eldest son shouldn’t take up so little space! - not reacting to Jace’s soft announcement of her arrival.
But Maryse doesn’t let herself be discouraged by his non-reaction, not now when she’s actually here, trying to build new bridges to replace the old ones that she tore down with her own hands.
Slowly, she enters the room, leaving Jace standing in the doorway. She walks up to the bed and stops there, at the foot of it, with her heart breaking for her son, so pale and seemingly frozen, staring at the wall with dry eyes; he hasn’t cried once since Magnus died, Jace told her, it’s one of the things that worries him deeply. Alec’s always been sensitive, though he tried to hide it, and this is eating him up from the inside, she can see it.
And so, Maryse Lightwood, the CEO of Lightwood Industries, the smooth and stylish lady with not a hair out of place, kicks off her shoes and heedless of her designer pants and a silk blouse, she climbs onto the bed and curls up around her son, she hugs him and she holds him, stroking his hair, as if he were still a child afraid of monsters under his bed…
“I’m sorry, honey,” she whispers gently. “I’m so very, very sorry…”
And Alec shudders and gasps - it’s a soft, unhappy, lost sound - and finally, finally, he starts crying.
Chapter 3: King Kong's Pet
Alec and Jace get a pony, err, a dog together!
“What is that?” Alec asks, horrified, seeing the beast panting happily in their living room.
Jace drops down to his knees and scratches the… thing behind its monstrous ears; the thing slobbers all over him. “That is a dog!” Jace announces proudly.
“No, that” --Alec points-- “is a pony!”
Still grinning, Jace hugs the not-pony around its thick neck. “Actually, that’s Arthur.”
Alec eyes him - and the beast - in disbelief. “Arthur?”
Jace grabs the dog’s head in both of his hands and turns it towards him. The dog’s ears perk up as they stare each other in the eye. “Doesn’t he look like an Arthur to you?”
“More like King Kong’s pet!” Alec exclaims, still slightly horrified.
“Now you’re exaggerating, isn’t he, Arthur?” Jace asks in a cutesy voice. He’s rewarded with another slobbery kiss.
Alec shakes his head. “Where did you even find it - him?” he corrects himself when Jace glares at him.
“At the shelter. They told me nobody wanted him. I don’t get why, he’s such a good little doggie!” He rubs Arthur’s ears, much to the beast’s happiness.
“Little? Look at its - his! - paws! He isn’t even fully grown yet!” Looking at the paws, the thing, it - he! - will be positively huge one day. What kind of a breed is he even? Or is he a mutant of some kind?
“Well, true,” Jace admits reluctantly, still incredibly taken with the dog’s displays of pure, unadulterated happiness. “The woman at the shelter did think he could be too much for my missus - until I told her that my ‘missus’ was a 6 foot 3 guy.” He glances at Alec with laughter in his eyes.
Yeah, well. There’s a flutter of… something tickling Alec’s heart. He can feel his annoyance dissipate. But he’s not ready yet to give it up entirely. “I bet the landlady will be over-ecstatic.”
“Actually, Mrs Jablonski loved Arthur.” Jace pats the dog on the head.
“Well, Mrs Jablonski likes you, her fondness might’ve blinded her to the elephant in her room!” Alec grumbles.
“Don’t worry, she still loves you best. I think she has yet to give up her hope that you’ll leave me for her ‘good boy’ of a grandson, Carl from Kentucky.”
Then Jace pauses, looking at Alec sideways, and though there’s still humor in his face, the look in his eyes is suddenly entirely too serious. “But you wouldn’t do that to me, would you? Leave me for Carl?”
Now it’s Alec’s turn to pause. Then a small smile settles on his lips and his voice is low and soft and very fond when he replies, “You know I wouldn’t…”
Jace grins, pleased, and hides his face in the dog’s neck for a moment. “So, do we keep Arthur?” he asks when he looks up.
Alec sighs. “Is he at least house-trained?”
“I assure you, he’s a well-behaved boy,” Jace states proudly. Then, a cheeky glint appears in his eyes and he whispers in the dog’s ear. “Come on, Arthur, show Alec how much you love him!”
The dog obeys gladly, pouncing, and Alec, eyes wide with horror, yelps, throwing his hands up, “Hey, no! Not in the face! Yuck!”
Jace keels over laughing.
Chapter 4: Anniversary
A short ficlet about Jace and Alec’s anniversary. It’s all about the Feels™.
It’s their one year anniversary. It’s been one year since they kissed for the first time–
… that night, they were making steaks for dinner, it was raining outside, smooth jazz was playing on the stereo and Arthur was napping in the corner, everything was perfect, and so they kissed, just a gentle brush of lips, a lingering look and fingers entwined…
–so they decide to celebrate, go out, enjoy themselves, do something they don’t usually do. Like go to Pandemonium, the private nightclub downtown, where all’s allowed just as long as everyone involved gives their informed consent. And, well, they’ve been curious ever since Ragnor told them about the place, so…
They dress up for the occasion, black pants for them both and a purple shirt for Jace, a midnight blue one for Alec, it’s all very simple yet elegant and it screams money, and they enter hand in hand, making sure that everybody knows they’re an item.
And it’s like they stepped into a whole new world of gyrating bodies and dark corners and flashing lights, of thumping music and soft moans, of sins that are no sins in here.
Jace leads the way through the mingling crowd, gently pulling Alec along and tugging on his hand with an amused smile and a twinkle in his eyes whenever Alec stops to stare at something particularly exotic and lingers too long with his lips parted in amazement.
Finally, when they circle around the whole room and Alec pauses again to watch two well-endowed men do naughty, naughty things to each other right there, out in the open, Jace sneaks up behind his lover, and still holding Alec’s hand in his, he hugs him from behind and rests their clasped hands against Alec’s stomach.
Then he lifts himself on tiptoes, and holding onto Alec for balance, he whispers into his ear, “Do you like it?”
Alec cocks his head to the side and frowns. “It’s quite, hm,” he pauses, then he leans back against Jace and turns his head so that Jace will be the only one to hear him, “unsanitary, isn’t it?”
Jace chokes. He drops down from his tiptoes and hides his face against Alec’s shoulder, laughing quietly. Only Alec would be concerned with the sanitary conditions of public sex! What would Jace do without him…
His laughter tapers off. With a small smile, Jace snuggles against Alec’s back. He pulls himself closer and rubs his stubbled cheek against the soft fabric of Alec’s shirt, inhaling the wonderfully familiar scent of Alec’s cologne.
“Hey, you okay?” Alec asks quietly over his shoulder. He squeezes Jace’s hand, the one resting on his flat stomach, and he leans further back into Jace’s hug.
Jace hmms with his eyes half-closed and rocks them gently from side to side. Music’s thumping around them so hard that the floor’s vibrating beneath their feet, there’re people everywhere and the lights are flashing brightly, but all Jace’s really paying attention to is Alec’s closeness, his warmth and solidity and… there-ness.
Alec speaks again over his shoulder and Jace can hear the smile in his voice when he says, “Want to go home?”
Yes! That’s exactly what Jace wants. He wants to be at home with Alec, not here. He wants to make love to Alec, worship him and make sure that Alec knows just how much he means to Jace.
“Alright,” Alec says as he extricates himself from Jace’s hug, switching their roles: he’s now the one to lead, tugging Jace along. “Let’s go.”
And Jace goes, still smiling softly and high on happiness, on the realization that nothing and no one in this club can measure up to Alec.
God, he loves this man so much…
Chapter 5: Hello, Love
Jace visits Clary’s grave and tells her a secret.
“Hey, Clary. Long time no see,” Jace whispers as he sits down on the lush green grass and runs his fingers lovingly across the headstone, sweeping away fallen leaves turned red and gold with the upcoming fall.
Sighing, Jace lets his fingertips hover over the names etched into the marble. Clarissa & Amatis Wayland. Mother and daughter. His wife and his child, gone forever. “It’s been almost six years, love. Amatis would’ve been a big girl by now, going to school soon. We would’ve taught her how to read and how to climb the tallest tree in the park…” Things that will never come to be.
He hugs his knees loosely, looking off into the distance for a moment. “I’m sorry I don’t visit as often anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t think about you, about both of my girls. I do. A lot lately, actually.”
Jace pauses, then he drops his eyes to the headstone. His family’s grave lies in the shade of a big oak tree on a little hill in the middle of a rather old-fashioned cemetery, one of those with statues of angels and praying Madonnas, dark gray with age, with a wrought iron fence and meticulously cut greenery. The artist in Clary would’ve loved it here.
“You know that I love you, right?” he whispers and his voice cracks on the last word. “I’ll always love you, both of you. Always. You were the light of my life for so many years and thinking of you gone still makes my heart hurt…”
Swallowing hard, Jace squeezes his eyes shut to push back tears. When he opens them again, he takes a deep breath and looks down at the headstone again.
“But I also love Alec now. A lot. Really a lot,” he adds, the corners of his mouth quirking up a little. A soft, faraway look settles in his eyes. “He makes me smile again, Clary. He makes me happy again. When I’m with him, I feel… content. Safe. I haven’t felt this way since you died.”
Jace looks across the sea of headstones, bathed in sunlight, towards the main gate, and his smile turns bigger when he catches sight of Alec there - and Alec sees him, waving a little. Jace waves back. Soon.
“I love him, Clary,” he tells her, watching Alec approach. “And tonight, I’ll ask him to marry me. I already got the ring and everything. I hope…” He pauses and his throat closes off a little. “I hope you’re okay with it, love.”
There’s a sudden gust of wind that rustles the leaves overhead and when Jace looks up, an acorn tocks him right on the forehead sharply. He blinks - and then he laughs because he can almost see Clary rolling her eyes and hear her uttering, Don’t be an idiot!
“Alright, understood, sheesh!” Jace exclaims, still laughing.
And that’s when Alec reaches him. He carries a single white rose in his hands, Clary’s favorite flower. He crouches down in front of Jace and places the rose in the tiny vase, attached to the headstone. “What did I miss?” he asks, then he adds, “Sorry it took me so long, I couldn’t find a parking space.”
Jace waves a hand dismissively, knowing well that Alec just wanted to give him some time alone with his wife and child. Then he reaches out, grabs Alec by the front of his shirt and pulls him down for a kiss, just a gentle, sweet brush of lips.
“I was telling Clary a secret,” Jace whispers with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Alec, who lost his balance when Jace grabbed him, flailed a little and then dropped to his knees, catching himself on Jace’s shoulders, glances at the headstone, then back at Jace. He lifts his eyebrows. “A secret, huh?”
Jace nods and smiles. “Yes. You’ll find out tonight. I hope you’ll like it.”
Alec smiles back. “I’m sure I will.”
And he does. He says yes.
Chapter 6: Aftermath
Magnus’ father arrives on the scene. Luckily, Jace always has Alec’s back.
Three days after Magnus’ funeral, Jace moves Alec into his flat across the city. He’s very kind but also very firm about it. He drags Alec out of bed, packs up some of his things, bundles him up - and then moves him. Just like that.
And Alec goes, letting himself be pulled and pushed this way and that, feeling like a rag doll, torn at the seams and with stuffing spilling out, getting emptier and limper and simply… less with each passing day. He just wants to dissolve altogether.
But Jace doesn’t let him. Because Jace knows all about grief, this grief, about losing a husband - or a wife, in Jace’s case. So yes, he lets Alec mourn but he doesn’t allow him to wallow. He pulls Alec out of bed every morning and forces him to shower and brush his teeth and eat, he forces him to exist.
At the same time, Jace makes sure that the outside world doesn’t make Alec’s life even harder. He pays all the bills. He calls the university where Alec works and arranges for a sabbatical for him. He calls Ragnor and Catarina, Magnus’ old colleagues and friends who just started their own business, and has them handle all the legal stuff - and because Magnus had money, really big money, there’s a lot to handle.
And he calls Alec’s mother, Maryse. And it’s her embrace, her presence and what it symbolizes, that finally tears down the walls that Alec built around his heart and Alec cries. He cries like he has never cried before, not even when his mother rejected him all those years ago after he came out. Because now, now Maryse is here, and that’s wonderful, but Magnus isn’t, and that’s terrible, and it all crashes down on Alec. And he cries.
The next day, even though he still feels numb and rather disconnected, he asks Jace to go with him to his and Magnus’ flat. Alec knows it’s time to start thinking about doing something with it. It breaks his heart anew but he knows he’ll never be able to go back and live there, not without Magnus. It would be too painful a reminder of what he had lost. He hopes that Jace won’t mind if Alec stays with him a little longer.
But when they arrive there, the door’s open and there are… there are people there, strangers, picking through their stuff - Magnus’ stuff - carrying things out, precious memorabilia and old antiques, things that Magnus loved and cared for. What? What’s going on?
And then… Magnus’ father steps out of the bedroom. Magnus’ father!
Magnus hated the man. He hated him so much. And he feared him. Because Asmodeus is evil, a true embodiment of that word. He’s always tried to make their lives miserable just because he could - and because he wanted Magnus’ inheritance.
Magnus’ mother, a truly wealthy woman from an old family that could trace their ancestors to the kings of old, namely left all her assets to her son, not a penny to her husband, not after what he did to her. And Asmodeus wanted that money, he felt entitled to it.
“It’s what motivated me to become a lawyer,” Magnus told Alec once. “I wanted to find a way to stop my father from getting what he wanted. To throw the book at him and rub his nose in the letter of the law!”
And now Magnus is gone. And everything’s Alec’s now. And Alec’s no lawyer, he’s a professor! And though under different circumstances Alec would have no trouble standing up to Asmodeus - he did it in the past, several times, too - now he just feels too raw, he hurts too much, he feels too… broken on the inside to put two thoughts together. All he can do is freeze and stare, barely breathing.
Luckily, he’s not alone there. Jace’s there. Jace’s at his side and he knows Asmodeus, who he is and what he’s capable of, he knows everything. And he has Alec’s back. Always. And also Ragnor and Catarina’s numbers on speed dial.
Jace doesn’t hesitate to step forward, between Alec and his father-in-law, and he doesn’t let the man get any closer to Alec. And when Asmodeus moves forward aggressively, his attack shatters on the rock that’s Jace Wayland - in moments like these Alec truly understands how Jace was able to move so fast up through the ranks while he was still in the army.
There’s a lot of shouting and screaming and it goes on and on, for what seems like eternity. But then Ragnor and Catarina arrive in their expensive car, dressed in expensive suits and carrying expensive briefcases and they wave very official looking papers in Asmodeus’ face. And even though they don’t shout or scream, their voices are ice-cold and hard, they make Asmodeus go away. He goes and he takes his men with him, throwing one last venomous look at Alec.
At Alec, who’s leaning with his back against the wall, staring down at his shoes, and his mind’s blank and his ears are full of white noise. He didn’t hear a thing they shouted at each other, he just checked out, he went away without actually going anywhere, because it was simply too much. Magnus hasn’t been dead a month yet and this is… too much, it’s just too much.
Then Jace’s there, touching Alec’s face and lifting his chin up, looking him in the eyes with deep concern. Slowly, sound returns and Alec hears the silence in the flat and Jace’s voice, a little hoarse from shouting. “… okay? Talk to me, please. Are you alright?”
Alec blinks and moves forward, just a little - and Jace understands, he’s always understood him, and he pulls Alec into his arms, letting Alec lean against him, carrying his weight.
“I’m sorry,” Alec croaks out after a moment. “I’m sorry I just stood there and…!”
Jace tightens his hold, pulling Alec even closer, lending him support. “It’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. And Ragnor and Catarina. And mom now, too! Let the bastard try to take on the Lightwoods, let him just try!”
He pulls back and holds Alec’s face in his hands, looking him in the eyes. “We’re a team, Alec. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone. Do you understand?”
And Alec nods, eyes burning again and nose a little clogged. “Yeah. Yeah, I do,” he whispers.
He lost Magnus. He lost his husband, the person he thought he would spend his life with, the man he loved with all his heart - but he’s not alone. He’s not alone. He’s not alone.
He closes his eyes and leans his forehead against Jace’s, breathing in deeply. I’m not alone…
Chapter 7: Goodbye, Sweet Dreams
This is a very, very sad story. Cherrypunk here on AO3 asked for a story about how Magnus died. It’s a very personal ficlet for me because I based it on how my own father died of cancer and how we found out.
It’s Alec who drives Clary to the hospital when her water breaks; Jace’s still in Afghanistan, it’s his last tour not just over there but anywhere, all his papers are already handed in and approved, even though his superiors are disappointed to lose him. So, he’s not there… when Clary and little Amatis die.
It falls to Alec to call and tell him. And how do you tell your best friend that his wife just died? How do you tell him that his baby girl didn’t even get to take a single breath in this world? But somehow, Alec tells Jace - who’s on the other side of the world, getting shot at! - he tells him in a hoarse, tear-filled voice, and he says he’s sorry, sorry, so sorry…
And when the army lets Jace go early, what with him having only a week or so of his tour left anyway, Alec’s there, waiting for him at the airport, he’s there to drive Jace home, to his empty house still filled with baby things, just as Clary left it.
Alec’s there when Jace screams and rages against the unfairness of the world, he’s there when Jace smashes things to pieces - the cradle, the wardrobe and the rocking chair, things that Clary decorated with flowers and ducklings, with pretty, hand-painted pictures - when Jace then breaks down and drops to his knees, hugging himself.
Alec’s there and he sinks to his knees by Jace’s side, wrapping his arms around him, and he holds him and he rocks him and he cries with him…
That night - just like every night before - Alec stays until the visiting hours are over, until the pretty nurse with the sad, sad eyes - Amy - tells him it’s time to go home. But Alec doesn’t want to go, he wants to stay and hold Magnus’ hand in his and just listen to his husband breathe, please, just a moment longer.
But then Lydia comes for him - Lydia the hospital’s star surgeon, summoned by Amy who knows that Alec and Lydia are friends. And then Alec does go - but not before he leans over Magnus and kisses his forehead, pale and dry and so cold, and he whispers to Magnus that will be back, first thing in the morning, okay?
And Magnus opens his eyes - he looks so tired and in so much pain that Alec just wants to cry and he wants Magnus not to be in pain anymore but he doesn’t want to lose him either, please, stay with me, love, please - and he tells Alec almost breathlessly that he loves him. And he smiles.
And it’s three in the morning when the phone rings - Alec’s not sleeping, he doesn’t seem to sleep at all anymore these days, the flat’s just too quiet without Magnus there - and Alec knows, he knows even before he picks it up.
It’s Lydia. Of course it’s her, she must’ve requested to be the one who tells him. Who tells him that Magnus died an hour after midnight. He fell asleep after Alec left and he never woke up again.
After that, Alec just… stops. He doesn’t know how long he sits there, in his bed, in the dark, with his cellphone in his lap, just staring straight ahead. He doesn’t think, he doesn’t feel, he almost doesn’t even breathe.
And then Jace’s there - he has a key, after all - because Lydia called him, too - of course she did - and he takes the phone out of Alec’s hand and he crawls into the bed with him and he pulls Alec into his arms and he holds him - and he cries for Alec and in his stead because Alec can’t, because Alec’s too frozen on the inside. Because his husband’s dead.
Chapter 8: Confidante
Alec calls his sister to tell her he’s engaged. Arthur nibbles on toes.
Jace’s called early into work that morning. He leaves with a soft peck on Alec’s forehead and a whispered, “I love you.” Alec smiles sleepily and burrows deeper into the still warm sheets to nap a while longer since he doesn’t have to leave for work till nine that day.
But only a few minutes later, something disturbs his lazing about: the intense, longing stare of Arthur who sneaks into the bedroom on silent feet and rests his head on the edge of the bed, waiting for Alec to take notice of him. When Alec finally opens one eye with a sigh, Arthur wags his tail happily. And Alec knows he won’t be getting any more sleep that morning.
Ten minutes later, he’s sitting up in bed, leaning back against a mountain of pillows, and he’s rubbing Arthur’s belly with his toes - Arthur, who’s forbidden to get on the bed but as it turns out Alec’s a weak, weak person when confronted with sad dog eyes and even sadder whining. And so Arthur’s lying sprawled at the foot of the bed, enjoying an intense belly rub.
With his toes thus occupied, Alec’s staring down at his new engagement ring. He lifts his hand and turns it this way and that, making the ring sparkle in the early morning light. Unlike his and Magnus’ rings that were made of gold and platinum - he now wears them on a gold chain on his neck, just like Jace wears his and Clary’s - this one’s silver and intricately engraved. And Alec loves it. He loves the ring and he loves Jace and he needs to tell someone, now, right now or he’ll burst!
And so he calls his sister, his confidante, the closest person he has in this world besides Jace because if there’s someone he can talk to, always, about anything, it’s Isabelle. Or so she tells him, at least, since he rarely if ever makes use of this privilege.
Which is also the reason why the first thing she fires at him when she picks up is, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Alec laughs, his giddiness getting the better of him. “Nothing’s wrong. I promise.”
“Are you sure? Because you never call me. Ever,” she reminds him pointedly. “So, something must’ve happened. But since you’re giggling like a loon - which is truly disturbing, by the way - I gather it’s nothing bad. Still, spill, big brother!”
Grinning wide, Alec blurts out, “Jace asked me to marry him and I said yes!”
Izzy’s piercing scream, happy but incoherent, is cut short when someone snaps at her and she replies in a perfect French, “Oh, shut it! My brother got engaged!”
And it’s only then that Alec remembers that Izzy’s not at home at the moment, that she’s not getting ready for work, that she’s in Paris at - what was it? - some conference on stem cell research or… something or other.
There’s a loud staccato of high heels on stone - Izzy’s high heels, five inch at the very least, Alec would guess - and then a door slams shut. Now, faint sounds of traffic can be heard on the other side of the line.
Then Izzy says excitedly, “Oh my God, Alec! That’s so great! Congratulations!” There’s a slight pause and when she continues, her voice’s thick with emotions, “I’m so happy for you. I really am. After what happened, I was so worried that–” She cuts herself off abruptly.
They’re both quiet for a moment. Izzy doesn’t need to say more. They are both aware of how bad off Alec was after Magnus’ death.
Izzy clears her throat. “What did everybody else say?” she asks, sounding all excited again.
Alec smiles. “I don’t know yet, you’re the first one I told.”
And then it hits him and he pauses, he even stops rubbing Arthur’s belly and Arthur twists into a pretzel to nibble on Alec’s toes in revenge. He’ll have to tell other people, too. Like… his parents. Their relationship’s gotten so much better over the last few years but… what if…
As if reading his mind, the nervousness in his pause, Izzy tells him kindly, “Mom and dad will be happy for you. I promise you, Alec. They did change, they really did.” Her voice becomes even softer. “After Magnus died, you were pretty out of it for a while there so you probably don’t remember it well but it almost killed mom to see you like that. Your pain, her guilt… She would’ve done anything to make it alright for you again. They will be happy for you.”
Alec rubs his nose with the back of his hand. His eyes prickle a little. “Thanks,” he whispers.
There’s a shout in the background, someone calling Izzy’s name. “Shoot, I have to go now. But I’ll call you the moment I’m done here for the day and you’ll tell me everything, in great detail!”
Smiling again, Alec nods, even though his sister can’t see him. “I will.”
“I love you, big brother,” Izzy says and he can hear the smile in her voice.
“I love you, too,” Alec replies.
And they hang up.
And that’s when Arthur stops nibbling on Alec’s toes and sweeps his tongue across the sole of Alec’s foot - and Alec yelps and his leg kicks out reflexively because it tickles so bad! And Arthur takes it as a signal that it’s playtime now. And he jumps onto Alec and–
“Not in the face! Arthur, come on!”
Chapter 9: My Daughter's Husband
It’s not all rainbows and roses. Or, Jace tells Jocelyn he’s getting married again.
“Thank you for meeting me,” Jace says, getting up, when he sees Jocelyn enter the café and walk up to his table.
Jocelyn smiles at him and kisses him on the cheek. “I was so glad you called! We haven’t spoken in forever,” she tells him, sitting down.
She looks older, grayer, more drawn. It’s been now almost six years since her daughter Clarissa - his Clary - died and every day of those six years took its toll on Jocelyn Garroway. From a strong, steadfast woman she’s turned into a brittle apparition, a ghost of her former self.
Jace knows how worried Luke is about her: Jocelyn lost her eldest, Jonathan, to her husband - she hasn’t seen either of them ever since she divorced Valentine Morgenstern over thirty years ago - and from what Luke told Jace, she took her son’s loss really hard, only the fact that she was pregnant with Clary helped her pick herself up… and then she lost her daughter, too.
“How have you been?” Jocelyn asks him, leaning across the table to touch his hands, still smiling at him.
Jace smiles back. “Good, really good,” he replies, “that’s why I invited you here, actually. I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Jocelyn tilts her head expectantly, waiting for him to continue.
Taking a deep breath, Jace looks her straight in the eyes and says, “Alec and I are getting married.”
She’s still smiling, something in her expression turns brittle, though. “I don’t understand,” she responds slowly.
“I asked Alec to marry me and he agreed, he said yes,” Jace explains. He’s getting a very bad feeling that this won’t go over as well as he hoped.
Jocelyn straightens up, pulling her hands away. Her smile looks artificial, almost forced now. “But… he’s your best friend,” she points out. “You’re just friends.”
Jace’s eyes narrow a little. “No, we are not, Jocelyn. We haven’t been ‘just friends’ for over two years now. You know it, I told you, we told everyone!” he reminds her, a little irritated.
She shakes her head, trying hard to hold onto her smile but it’s starting to turn ugly. “No. No, you’re… you’re my son-in-law. You’re… you don’t like Alec, you don’t like… men… like that. You love my daughter!”
And now Jace’s getting downright angry. “Yes, I loved your daughter. I loved her more than my own life. And I still love her, that hasn’t changed. That will never change. But I also love Alec now. I don’t know what that makes me - if bi, pan or-or just Alec-sexual - I don’t know and I don’t care. All I do care about is that he-he makes me happy, Jocelyn. Can you understand that? He makes me happy, like Clary did.”
The smile slips from Jocelyn’s face. “No. Nobody will make you as happy as Clary did. Nobody! And definitely not that–”
“Be careful what you say next, Jocelyn!” Jace interrupts her sharply. “You’ve been like a mother to me at a time when Maryse was out of the picture and I love you, you’re family. But I will not allow you to insult the man I love.”
Jocelyn pulls even farther away from him. “The man you love? Do you even listen to yourself?” she says in disbelief.
“I didn’t take you for homophobic,” Jace tells her flatly.
“I’m not! I’ve always supported gay people!” she protests indignantly.
“Right,” he replies sarcastically. “But God forbid your son-in-law turns out to be less straight than you thought.”
“That’s not–” Jocelyn cuts herself off and closes her eyes for a moment, taking a deep, shuddering breath. “You’re my daughter’s husband!”
“No, I was your daughter’s husband, Jocelyn, I was,” Jace corrects her quietly yet firmly. “But Clary’s dead. She’s been gone for six years now! And I grieved for her and I still miss her, every single day. But she is dead,” Jace repeats, not backing down even when he sees Jocelyn flinch, “and I’m alive!”
“That doesn’t give you the right to sully Clary’s memory!” she hisses furiously. “My daughter deserves better!”
Now it’s Jace’s turn to stare at her in disbelief. “Better than what? Did you want me to stay alone till the end of my life, mourning her? Is that it?”
Jocelyn looks away, her mouth pinched. It’s answer enough.
Jace leans closer imploringly. “I’ve fallen in love, Jocelyn. Can’t you understand that? Because Clary would. Clary would be the first one to kick my ass if I threw away what I’ve found with Alec and you know that!”
“I can’t condone it. I will not!” Jocelyn states coldly, head still turned away.
For a moment, Jace feels like he’s been slapped. Then he straightens up, pulling himself together. “Well,” he responds softly, “then that’s your problem, I’m afraid. I’m going to marry Alec and you have no say in it.”
With that he stands up and drops some money on the table. “Alec has a lot of respect and even admiration for you, Jocelyn, both as Clary’s mother and as a person. Don’t make him lose that.”
It’s both a plea and a warning, but Jocelyn doesn’t react, she doesn’t even look at him.
Jace stares at her quietly a moment longer, waiting for something. He doesn’t know what, just something, some sign that he got through to her, through her grief and pain that she’s been wearing as armor ever since Clary’s death. But there’s nothing. Absolutely nothing.
With a deep sigh, Jace shakes his head and leaves, feeling exhausted, beaten and bruised.
Chapter 10: A Lot of Zeros
Magnus’ will and a lot of zeros.
It takes Alec some time - a long time, actually - to gather the courage and visit Magnus’ lawyers to take care of Magnus’ will.
It’s stupid, Alec knows, but he feels that, as long as he doesn’t do that, as long as everything’s still officially Magnus Bane’s, some part of his husband remains alive. He feels he might simply return to their apartment and find Magnus there, sprawled on the couch with a long-suffering expression on his face, and hear him complain, “You won’t believe what happened at the office today…”
But Alec can’t keep postponing this meeting and avoiding this task. It needs to be done. So in the end, he goes.
And now he’s sitting there, in Ragnor’s office, in the leather armchair in front of Ragnor’s antique mahogany desk, and he’s staring down at the papers Ragnor handed him in absolute shock. He knew that Magnus was well off, as Magnus put it, but this… this is more than just well off!
“That’s a lot of zeros,” Alec mumbles, numb.
Ragnor clasps his hands together on the desk and leans forward. “It really is. That’s why Magnus was very careful drawing up his will. He made it iron-clad and bulletproof. He wanted to ensure that your claim was unassailable.”
Alec nods. But then he notices the date at the bottom of the last page - and he feels a sharp pang in his chest: the will was signed the day they got engaged. At dinner. Magnus drew up his will even before he knew Alec’s answer to that most important question. Well, as if there had been any doubt that Alec would agree…
Clearing his throat, Alec looks up. “What should I do with it?”
Ragnor shrugs. “Quit your job and travel, see the world. Or invest in diamonds. Do whatever you want with it, Alec,” he says. His eyes are very kind. “Magnus wanted you to have it, all of it. Because he trusted you with it.”
Alec swallows and glances down at Magnus’ sweeping signature in blue ink. He runs his fingertips over it. Magnus…
“Wow,” Jace says, staring wide-eyed at the papers that Alec handed him when he got into the car; Jace’s been waiting for him there the whole time. “You sure they didn’t misplace the decimal point? That’s a lot of zeros.”
Alec smiles fleetingly. “I said the same thing,” he replies softly.
Jace leafs through the thick stack of papers listing all Magnus’ assets that now belong to Alec. “So… what now?” he asks curiously.
Alec shakes his head. “I don’t know…”
And he really doesn’t. A big part of him doesn’t even want the money. It doesn’t sound logical, he knows that, it’s his grief talking, but it feels like… it feels like he exchanged his husband for a check! It feels… almost wile to accept the money.
“Hey,” Jace whispers, touching his forearm. “You okay?”
Alec looks at him and shakes his head. “I would give it all up, everything, just to have him back…” he croaks out.
Jace squeezes his arm. “I know,” he responds gently. “When I received the insurance money after Clary died, it felt like I was somehow betraying her. It felt, I don’t know, evil to accept money for my wife’s death, like I-like I was selling her out, or something - and it wasn’t nearly as much as this.” He waves the papers.
Alec nods. Of course Jace understands. “Did it change?”
Sighing, Jace looks out through the windshield, watching cars pass by for a moment. “Eventually,” he says finally. “It allowed me to buy my apartment, after all. I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise because, after I sold the house and paid all the bills and everything else, there was very little left. Without the insurance money, I couldn’t have bought a new place. So, I started to see it as a gift.”
“A gift that keeps on giving,” Jace continues, smiling at Alec in the passenger seat, “now we both have a place to stay, a home.” Then his smile slips from his face. “If you still want to stay with me, that is, considering you could buy the whole building now and it wouldn’t even make a dent into your savings.” He waves the papers again.
Alec looks down for a moment, then back at Jace. He smiles again and covers Jace’s hand, still resting on his forearm, with his own. “I would like to stay for a while longer. If… if I can.”
Brightening up, Jace replies in a thick voice, “I would like that. I would like that a lot.”