He’s pushed out of the portal into a huge space not unlike a warehouse, and for a moment, he wonders if they’re at the docks. But even for that, the space is too damp, the air too stale and the stench unforgiving. Jace is grabbed from behind, his arms trapped in a steel hold as they find his stele, all his weapons, strip him of everything…
Even the shirt.
Even the shoes.
Jace struggles, as counterproductive as it is, as they drag him forward between rattling cages that Jace tries not to look at, struggles as they lock his wrists in heavy iron manacles pinching the skin.
His hands are balled into fists as the chain is put on a hook and an electric winch lifts him up until he can stand firmly, so he doesn’t suffocate, but he can already tell his arms will be killing him in minutes.
Then the first hit comes.
He doesn’t realise he passed out until there’s a wave of ice cold water hitting him and he starts coughing, spluttering, consciousness coming to him as his mind begs for it go away again. Reunion with daddy dearest, he remembers, before a fist connects with his face and he suddenly wishes he never agreed to come with Valentine.
Then he remembers the blades.
One on Alec’s neck, one on Izzy’s, one of Magnus’ and one on Simon’s. Clary didn’t have a blade at her throat but she was in as much danger as everyone else.
When a next kick to a stomach leaves him out of breath, it feels like a sigh of relief.
It’s better that way.
It’s better if he suffers than if they’re dead.
The word echoes loud in the vast space and Jace feels like he would take a few more punches as long as he doesn’t have to hear it again. But Valentine steps forward, looks Jace in the eyes, and the blonde wonders how could he ever call this man father.
“I dreamed about killing you tonight. Wanna unchain me and give it a try?”
“You’re a born fighter. I like it.”
Valentine speaks quietly, calmly, in the same tone someone would declare it’s a nice day for a walk. It’s a punch worse than the one that broke one of Jace’s ribs.
“Get dressed. We have a lot to talk about.”
Valentine activates his iratze and Jace watches the rune flare gold with wide eyes and he can only wonder what the fuck is the man playing at.
Whatever it is, he feels like he won’t like it.
Valentine attempts to make him spaghetti.
It’s confusing and sick and makes Jace want to just jump overboard, away from the man who shattered what Jace had left of his childhood.
Then Valentine shows him why he cannot.
On some warlock.
He’s not chained back, allowed to roam free on the ship, but he feels more trapped than before.
The pain is indescribable. Having fought more demons than people in his life, Jace has never been shot with an arrow before, and he knows from Alec’s constant blabbering that crossbows are more powerful than compound bows (but harder to draw and less elegant, because apparently that matters to Alec) so he shouldn’t be surprised by the pain.
But he is.
He really didn’t expect it to hurt so much. He knows there are tears trailing down his cheeks and he bit through his lip, and he can’t focus on anything before sweet pain takes him away, a flash of pinkish purple of a portal taking the last sliver of hope away from him.
He’s awoken by an explosion of thousands tiny needles in his face, a bucket of freezing cold water emptied on his yet again. He’s back in his spot, chained to the ceiling, and he almost envies the Downworlders in the cages. At least they don’t have to stand torture. But it’s a silly thought, and a weak argument and he wouldn’t really want to trade places with any of them. He had enough being pumped questionable chemicals and demon ichor into his blood when he was in his mother’s womb.
Someone healed the arrow wound, but it’s small comfort. His torso is already littered with a thousand more cuts and bruises forming where he was repeatedly punched when he was unconscious. He closes his eyes welcoming another day of torture.
He hoped Valentine would spare him. He hoped Valentine wouldn’t see the hesitation in his eyes, wouldn’t see how much he wanted to run to Clary and let her take him back home. But there was Clary’s mother… his mother next to her. With a crossbow trained on him. But it wasn’t trained on him, was it? It was trained on Valentine but after years Jocelyn’s aim was off.
And Jace had no chance to run to Clary with an arrow stuck in his shoulder, unconscious from the pain. In the end, it’s not like it matters. It’s not like Valentine would have let him get away anyway.
Especially not after Jace refusing to kill Maria.
He balls his chained hands into fists and as a punch connects with his cheek forces himself to open his eyes.
He sees a grinning pale woman holding a whip.
Raphael closes the boathouse door behind himself and forces himself to mind his own business. He knows Simon probably doesn’t deserve living like that, but dios, the boys needs to learn to keep his mouth shut.
And after today’s stunt, there is no way Raphael’s letting Simon back in DuMort anytime soon.
There is a girl standing on the edge of the dock, a beautiful dark beauty with platinum long hair. She’s one of the most dangerous woves of the NYC pack, Raphael knows that, and he knows Simon pissed her off.
“Wondering if there’s anything of him left for you?”
He’s taunting. He knows he is, and it’s probably a bad idea but Raphael is just so fuckign tired after the day he had he can’t bring himself to care. He’s surprised when she laughs, turning to look at him.
“I will leave him alone… For now.”
He doesn’t have a chance to answer. He cannot warn her about something creeping on her from behind either, because there are strong hands holding him down, the element of surprise rendering vampire speed useless, and someone is shoving some foul smelling rag into his mouth.
Good use his fangs will be now.
He bites on the cloth but only chokes, and curses mentally as he’s pushed to the ground, chained like an animal.
He catches a sight of a dark red circle on the neck of a shadowhunter restraining Gretel the same way, and begins to struggle anew, even if he knows it’s futile.
But if Valentine is behind this, there’s no way this is going to end well.
Jace is dressed in the ratty sweater yet again, hyper aware of the threads tickling his skin where a hole from the arrow is, but it’s the least of his problems. Valentine had him healed yet again, brought onto the deck, stood by his side.
Jace knows that means something is happening and he doesn’t like it one bit.
When a girl is pushed towards them by one of Valentine’s lackeys, a girl Jace recognizes as a werewolf from Luke’s pack, it becomes clear just how horribly it would probably go down.
But when Jace sees Raphael Santiago dragged in behind her?
This is not good at all .
“Please, I didn’t do anything, I never harmed anyone…” Jace tried not to listen to the the girl’s pleas, tried to ignore Val’s bullshit spiel about how her white her was proof she killed some guy, his mind was running full speed trying to find a way out of it.
“She broke the Accords, Jace. She’s dangerous. Kill her.”
The words echo in his mind, everything around him falling silent as Valentine present a seraph blade to him. He doesn’t take it.
“She’s a prisoner, she can’t do any harm here…”
Jace already knows it’s futile, already moves in the direction of the girl but strong hands stop him again, drag him away and it’s enough to stall him, it’s enough to keep him away until it’s too late and Valentine pushes the sword through her gut.
He watches the light fade from her eyes but he knows he can’t focus on that as he registers Raphael, the man he only knows as a strong leader, flinch , real fear in his eyes as he bites down on the gag and hides behind a facade of anger.
He has no doubt Raphael is just as pissed as him, but for once he sees him look the age he did when he was turned instead of the immortal wise presence.
“Your silly rebelia is not going to change the facts, Jace. Are you going to kill him or do you want to suffer the consequences?”
He knows it would probably be more merciful to kill Raphael. He knows whatever Valentine will do if he refuses is going to be anything but pretty. But he meets the vampire’s eyes and he’s sorry, he’s sorry they’re both going to suffer, but he knows there’s only one answer.
“Mind if I kill you instead?” He smiles his most charming smile at Valentine and he can see Raphael’s surprise, the soldier’s indignation, Valentine’s eyes shining with anger but also something akin to glee, and Jace knows Valentine will enjoy punishing him.
“Strip him of his shirt and chain him on the roof. Bind the vampire to one of the antennas. Arms spread, like a crucifix. I hear you’re a religious one. As if the Angels would ever welcome scum like you into their glory. Can’t wait for you to find out how wrong you were in the morning.”
Valentine smiles as he walks away and Jace struggles weakly but he can do nothing as his shirt is torn off, exposing him to the freezing night air. He watches Raphael growling behind the gag, and he feels like he can relate.
He’s pushed onto his knees this time, hands chained together and attached to some beam sticking out of one of the numerous antennas. He’s already shivering with cold, the chains biting painfully into his skin like a hundred needles.
Raphael is in front of him, crucified alive, rope around his wrists and ankles, spread between two antennas, body leaning on another. He’s still gagged and glaring at the soldiers, but Jace isn’t focusing on them. Because by now, they all stepped away, by now there’s a bigger threat on horizon as Valentine himself climbs the ladder.
Jace knows he was healed. Knows the skin on his back is mostly whole again. But when he sees the whip in Valentine’s hand, a grin on the man’s face, he can’t help but tug on the chains, feeling as if every single mark on his back reopened.
What wounds have been healed by the iratzes are reopened seconds later as the whip hits him for the first time.
People often say flogging puts your back on fire. Jace wants to laugh at how inappropriate it is. Especially in the cold of the night, the pain is nothing like the burning sensation. It’s millions of razor sharp icicles dancing on his skin, biting into it over and over again, pulsing under the surface.
His eyes briefly meet Raphael’s, the vampire struggling in his bonds, but he turns his gaze away. He’s the one suffering, but it’s Raphael who will pay the price.
“I hope you think about your actions through the night and come to the right conclusion in the morning as the sun finishes what you couldn’t.”
The whip connects with already torn flesh and cheeks already wet with tears, Jace screams.
“Remember. I’m doing it out of love, Jonathan. You have to learn.”
Love . It took years but by now Jace has seen what this word means, and he’s positive Valentine has never known the feeling.
Valentine puts an iratze on his shoulder and the pain of the skin stitching itself back together is almost worse than the whipping. He barely manages to open his eyes at the sound of hissing, watching Valentine rip the gag from Raphael’s mouth and lean in to whisper just out of the reach of his fangs.
“Say your last prayers, monster.”
His head is to heavy and he lets it fall, closing his eyes, and he just lets the retreating steps echo in his ears until there’s only silence.
It’s not like they have anywhere to run.
Jace can feel the blood trickling down his arms, can feel the tears sliding down his cheeks, the pain of the metal tearing at his skin as he struggles unbearable. But even knowing he can never win against thick iron, not without his runes, doesn’t stop him.
He twists his fists in the manacles, tugging at the chains, praying for a miracle. Seconds pass, minutes and hours, tick down and count the time till Raphael’s time runs out. Jace is not going to let that happen.
But it’s not like dawn needs Jace’s permission, especially not as trapped as he is.
“¡Stop struggling, por el amor de Dios! You’re only hurting yourself.”
Raphael snaps, the first time he’s spoken since they were left there, alone, bound, two prisoners in common suffering but only one of them would survive the night. Jace slumps in his chains, his knees protesting painfully, but he looks up at the vampire with a sour expression.
“This?” He rattles the chains around his wrists, making some of the cuts to bleed anew. “Oh, it’s nothing. Nothing I’m not used to. And it’s not like it matters, does it? My wrists will heal. You won’t, not once the morning comes.”
Raphael looks at him in silence for a long while, judging him, wondering.
“Then there’s no need to struggle, is there? You can’t save me anyway. Save your own strength.”
Jace laughs, an empty and bitter sound, hysterical and high-pitched, and tears fall again despite his tries to blink them away.
“I don’t need my strength. He’s not going to let me die anyway, even if I wanted to. And I’m not going to kneel down, chained like an animal and silently allow his atrocities. As long as I can fight, I will fight. I’m not going to let him win. As long as the sun is still safely below the horizon, I will fight! ”
He’s practically shouting by now, his whole body shaking with cold and emotions, eyes wide and staring at Raphael as he tears at the chains yet again with new viciousness.
Except this time… This time they snap.
He falls to the floor, unprepared for the metal to yield, thrown off by his own inertial force. He’s too shocked to care about his bleeding knees, his aching bones, the scrapes and broken skin. He’s staring at his wrists still trapped in manacles, torn chains dangling from them, in shock.
He looks up at Raphael with awe and fear in his eyes, unsure of he just did.
His eyes widen at the astonished vampire’s statement.
“You just… activated you strength rune. It glowed, and your eyes did, but… I thought you Shadowhunters cannot do that without a stele?”
Jace stares at him in silence, brow furrowed, before staring at his hands as if they had an answer.
“We can’t… I don’t know what’s going on but it doesn’t matter right now.” Jace is already on his feet, untying Raphael and getting to action. “We to hurry and get out of the ship and to the shore before sunrise.”
Raphael’s smoothing out his wrinkled suit and looking around, a calm facade on that Jace knows all too well from Alec - a distressed leader who refuses to show his nerves in front of people. Often masked by sarcasm.
“And how are we getting out of here? Are we going to swim?”
Jace smirks, devoid of joy and bitter.
“We’re not that far from the shore. It’s our best shot. The only problem is that we can’t just jump overboard. There are wards around the ship that would fry us faster than the sun.”
Raphael looks at Jace with an indescribable gaze.
“So what do we do now, Jace?”
“I don’t know? Why am I supposed to work out a plan?”
Raphael’s unimpressed eyebrow doesn’t reach Jace in the dark, but it’s clear in his voice just how unimpressed he is.
“Maybe because you’re the one trained to be a soldier since the cradle?”
But Jace doesn’t answer, or even pay attention to Raphael. His gaze is focused on a group of sleeping seagulls near them.
“I think I have a plan.” He turns to Raphael with a grin on his face. “And since when are we on a first name basis?”
He doesn’t wait for an answer to the obviously sarcastic question, instead going on a search for something on the deck.
“What are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure. We need something to throw.” He looks up and meets Raphael’s gaze, realising he’s not probably making much sense. “Those birds are still alive and somehow I doubt Valentine brought them here with him. And now that I think about it I saw seagulls fly over the ship during the day. So why aren’t they affected by the wards?”
He holds two empty cans up with a triumphant grin and throws one into the water, watching it shimmer as it burns within the wards. He looks at Raphael and throws the other one higher, watching it fall into the water.
“Something even Shadowhunters learn at school… Even if admittedly I might have forgotten this bit until just about now. Warlock made wards always have a shape . And if you have a weaker warlock… like one kept in captivity and pumped with experimental blood.” His voice loses its smug edge and turns softer. “It takes a lot of energy to build a dome, so he would just build a wall for you.”
Raphael looks at the water where the invisible energy hangs in the air around the ship.
“Okay. But how do we get over it?”
Jace smirks, showing Raphael a stele and leading him towards a more secluded parts of the ship.
“Pickpocketed a passing guard. You have your special vampire powers, I have an acceleration rune.”
Jace hops onto some crates that take them high enough to be able to bypass the wards and close enough to the side they can see the waves crash against the ship.
“If you get me killed, Wayland, I’m going to find you and haunt you.”
Jace’s smile is dangerously joyful.
“You’re welcome to visit me in Hell, then. Three!”
Jace’s warm hand tightens in his, and they jump.
Raphael coughs up foul water, his throat on fire and body feeling limp. He remembers the pain of colliding with the water, remembers Jace yelling at him, remembers the ache in his muscles as he kept pushing to the shore and the fear with each wave moving him in a different direction.
He doesn't contemplate any of that. He can see light on the horizon. He doesn’t have much time.
He takes the risk and runs around the beach for a while anyway, looking on the shore and in the water, trying to find Jace or any sign of him. But there’s no man… there’s no body. Everything in him screams to keep looking but he can see the red rays on the horizon. He is no use to Jace dead.
With a furrowed brow and an ache in his chest that has nothing to do with the physical beating Valentine and the escape gave him, he turns around and sprints into the city. Once the dusk falls, he will be out looking again. For now, he needs to find safe darkness.
Jace chokes on the water and sand, coughing it out and taking a shaky breath.
It’s sunny. Early morning, just after dawn, but the soft rays are already caressing Jace’s battered cheek. For some reason, that’s important, he knows it is…
He practically jumps up, tripping over his own feet, frantically looking around, even if deep down he knows the sun is up, so if Raphael was with him there would be nothing but ash left.
There is no trace of Raphael, but there doesn’t seem to be any ash laying around, and the morning isn’t windy so Jace hangs on to this faint thread of hope. The beach is almost empty, almost. There is no Raphael but there is a body. Jace turns his gaze away from the white haired girl.
Her blood is on his hands.
It’s not the time for grief. It’s not the time for guilt. He needs to get to his family and find out if Raphael is safe. He needs to go home. He just wants to have Alec hug him and never go back into bad outside world again.
His stele is gone, he’s aching everywhere, but the bond is back in place now that he’s on land and even if it feels strange for some reason, Jace draws strength from Alec’s soul and marches towards the city. He needs to find a phone.
He feels thankful that it’s so early because there aren’t many people around this part of the city just yet. Considering the way he looks, he would rather avoid the crowds without glamouring right now.
He’s keeping his head down, but watching the surroundings like a hawk, on edge and paranoid. The longer he nudges at the bond, the more convinces he becomes something is wrong. It feels off. It feels distant.
He’s not far from Hunter’s Moon but it still feels like incredible relief when he finally sees the door.
So of course now he would run into a police patrol. He hides in teh door and lets out a shaky breath when they pass without noticing him. He pushes the door open with a rapidly beating heart, cold and nervous. Jace learned with time but he never liked to get out of his comfort zone and he only went out in public when he knew he was the one calling teh shots. He liked to be in control. He was anything but that right now, on the mercy of the world around him.
“Well, you look like you could use a drink. And a towel.”
“Just… Um.” He swallows around the pain in his throat. “Just your phone.”
“I’d ask what happened to yours but I’m guessing it got wet?”
The girl’s snarkiness would probably make Jace smile any other day but now he just really doesn’t feel in the mood. Something catches his eye on the side but he ignores it, suddenly hyper conscious of teh rune on his back. He turns to the girl instead, noticing the scars on her neck but not commenting, mentally labeling her as a werewolf and waiting, hoping she just gives him the damn phone.
It looks like stuck in a previous decade but it works. Jace doesn’t think, just turns around and walks toward a secluded corner near the window, dialling Izzy.
“Izzy? It’s me.”
He breathes in relief, impossibly happy to hear her voice again. He missed her. He missed her so much.
“Are you okay?”
He’s probably not. It doesn’t matter.
“I’m a little soggy, but I’ll live.”
“Listen, Jace… We need to get you to Alec.”
“What do you mean? Why?”
“He tried tracking you with the parabatai rune…” Jace already knows what will come next. That’s why the bond feels off. “...it’s like he’s stuck in some nightmare and can’t wake up. He needs you. But we can’t do this in the Institute, the Clave still wants you dead.”
“Yeah, well, who doesn’t? They can in line.”
Jace feels so tired he wonders if he could just fucking let them rip him apart once he saves Alec. It would end the pain… But then again, Alec would probably bring him back just to yell at him.
“Listen, we’ll take Alec to Magnus’ and he’ll portal over to get you. Where are you?”
“Hunter’s Moon. Okay, I’m waiting. It’s…” The words feel heavy, and even after years he’s still not used to them, but they also feel good. “It’s good to hear you again, Iz.”
“I can’t wait to have you back home, Jace.”
He can hear her smile as she disconnects.
“All good, Shadowhunter?”
He almost forgot about the bartender, now looking at him intensly from the bar. Fuck . Stupid rune and stupid 13-year-old Jace Wayland who didn’t think about putting permanent runes where they’re easy to hide under clothing.
“Yeah, thank you.”
He brushes her off, ready to walk out and just wait somewhere else. Somewhere where he can watch if Magnus is coming, but somewhere without unfriendly looking werewolf girls.
“Didn’t seem good.”
He forces himself to stay calm.
“It’s nothing you need to worry about.”
“Cool. Cause we could use your help. Shadowhunter help.”
Fuck this woman. Jace knew that the drift between Shadowhunters and Downworlders was a serious matter but she was young. She couldn’t have been turned too long ago. What the hell had he done to her?
Did he look like someone who could play a superhero right now, dripping with dirty water and blood?
“You see Taito back there? The Circle took his Goddaughter.”
Jace’s heart breaks. He feels like he knows this story.
“So I was hoping maybe you could help him out.”
“I… I wish I could.”
He wonders how can he tell her there’s nothing to be done without incriminating himself.
“You have something better to do?”
He does. Helping those who aren’t dead yet. Helping Alec. It’s the brutal truth. It’s too late for the white wolf.
“It’s not like that.”
“I’m waiting for an explanation. You need to do your job, Shadowhunter. You’re supposed to protect us.”
Sometimes, Jace wonders about that. Wonders when was it decided that Shadowhunters have to deal with both demons and Shadow World crime rate, while the Downworlders get to have families and normal lives. Prejudices or not, it wasn’t too bad to be a Downworlder in 2017.
He sees Taito approach them and he knows it’s not going to end well.
“My brother needs me…”
He doesn’t get to say more. The man is by his side, blocking his way and shoving him back.
“I think he is the one who needs protecting, Maia. We found Gretel… Gretel’s body. On the beach this morning. This guy is dripping wet and covered in blood and her smell.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Look, I don’t wanna hurt anyone, okay?”
Enough blood was shed. Enough people got hurt.
“That’s too bad. Cause we do.”
Jace decides he really doesn’t like the Maia girl.
He’s cut off by Taito’s punch to his face. He pushes back, but it takes him more effort than usual. The holidays with Daddy Dearest took more of a toll on him than he expected. In his sidevision he registers Maia circling him like a predator playing with her prey.
His head hurts like hell from the punches and all the glass Taito decided to break with Jace’s head, and when Maia’s punch comes and knocks him down he just feels pissed . He’s running solely on adrenaline by now, but it’s enough. Alec needs him.
Good use he is to Alec, bleeding and breathing hard on the floor of a bar with angry werewolves kicking him.
That’s when it happens.
The door bursts open and Magnus comes in, looking regal, powerful and mad .
“What the fuck are you doing?”
The wolves step back, still growling but wary of the High Warlock of Brooklyn. Jace feels like laughing hysterically when it’s Maia - of course - who speaks up.
“It’s none of your business. He killed one of our own.”
“And what proof do you have?”
She takes a step forward, challenging and unyielding.
“We found her dead on the beach. He’s dripping wet, injured Shadowhunter. Put two and two together.”
Magnus laughs, loud, devoid of joy and dangerous .
“Well, congratulations! You put two and two together and got five! It never occurred to you that they may both be victims?!” He approaches Jace and his eyes subtly check him over as he extends a hand and helps the blond stand. “We’re getting out of here and you better deal with your own mess and think before punching next time or I’m going to report you to the Clave.”
Jace steps through Magnus’ portal with a grateful sigh.
The loft is warm and familiar. Jace feels like crying. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. He’s finally home but Alec needs him. But before he can take a step into the living room, a hand across his chest stops him.
“Not so fast, Blondie.”
“Alec needs me.”
Jace looks into Magnus’ eyes with something like desperation, but then turns his gaze away. Magnus knows better than anyone that Alec needs Jace. But Magnus - Magnus is the only one who actually knows what Jace is supposed to do.
“Yes, Jace, he does.”
The words are soft this time, the warlocks hand moving from Jace’s chest to his shoulder and gently directing him to the bedroom. He sits Jace down and goes to the bathroom to get a towel and some supplies.
“He needs you now, more than ever, but your presence alone is not enough, Jace. Bringing Alec back will not be easy. You will need your energy for that and you may not feel it yet because of teh adrenaline rushing through your veins, but right now you’re on the verge of collapse, Jace.”
He kneels in front of the injured man and unlocks the manacles with chains still dangling from them. It’s only now that Jace realizes that they’re still there. He tucked them under his sweater after getting off teh beach, wrapping the chains around his wrists to make them unnoticeable, but they must have slipped off during the bar fight fight.
He shivers as the air hits raw, bloody skin underneath when they fall off.
“If you attempted to bring Alec back now…” Magnus continues, looking Jace in the eye. “...you won’t succeed and will only manage to kill yourself. So right now, Jace, your task is to allow me to heal you and get some rest while I go and let the girls know you’re here and make sure Clary stopped Izzy from cooking.”
Jace smiles weakly but doesn’t protest. Magnus is right. He allows the warlock to magic him clean and heal teh worst wounds. He obediently drinks whatever concoction Magnus offers him and changes into some pajamas he hands him. He’s already laying down, letting Magnus run something onto the whip marks on his back, when he remembers, and mentally beats himself for forgetting, managing to mutter to Magnus before exhausted sleep takes him.
“Can you check on Raphael Santiago for me?”
He doesn’t hear the answer.
He’s glad the area is as secluded as it is. Maybe people would help him find a phone or some way to communicate, but he’s currently just in his pants, having shed teh clothes while swimming to the shore, the dragging fabric making it more difficult to move against the waves.
He’s walking fast, knowing the dawn is approaching, and he wants to cry in relief when he sees an abandoned warehouse in the distance and realises he’s not dying this morning.
He starts running, even though the gravel is painful underneath his bare feet, but he knows he doesn’t have much time.
The sun peeks from under the horizon just a few metres before he reaches the blessed shadow of the warehouse, making his pants burn him and catch on fire, and Raphael curses under his breath, looking around, happy to confirm the place is actually completely empty.
He falls onto the concrete, lying down and soaking in teh pleasing cold, trying to think about how he must look, naked, sprawled on teh ground in the dirty building.
He gazes into the ray of sunlight getting into the warehouse through the door and sighs. He has no phone, no clothing, nothing, and the warehouse is completely empty. Looks like there’s nothing he can do but await teh sunset.
This is going to be a long day.
When Jace wakes up, it’s already dark.
“How do you feel?”
Magnus is standing in the doorway, looking anxious.
Jace is still aching as he stands up, but he can feel his body slowly stitching itself back together. He knows he regained enough strength to bring Alec back. He refuses to wait any longer.
“Tell me what to do.”
Magnus explains everything in quiet, calculated words before gently handing the stone to Jace. It feels lighter than it should be, warmer, less dangerous, considering in this tiny piece of stone lays death or life, and safety of Jace’s and Magnus’ hearts.
“ Alec. ”
It feels like a punch to his gut, seeing Alec like this, and Jace feels like crying, thinking back to that day he stood in the middle of the Institute with fire in his eyes and dread filling his body, waiting for Alec to come in and declare he would never settle for someone like Jace to be his parabatai.
His breath catches like that day, when Alec finally came in, but instead of humiliating Jace, took his place by his side, and never left it.
Jace’s heart breaks as he takes his own rightful place at Alec’s side again, kneeling next to him after days of painful separation. His hand is shaking as he takes Alec’s, the stone pulsing with golden energy between them.
It feel like home, the essence of their joined souls now entrapped in black adamas.
Surprised at his own voice not wavering, he speaks his parts of the oath.
Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—
For whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
He can hear Alec’s complementary words in his mind, a few years younger voice echoing with the voice of the man in front of him, who is spasming, struggling to catch his breath. Jace’s heart skips a beat as the adamas falls to the ground.
He can hear the others whisper something in the background but he ignores them. His hand touches Alec’s face, gently, firmly, as he focuses with newfound determination.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, --
The words never rang more true in Jace’s ears. He can’t live without Alec. He doesn’t want to live without Alec.
Alec’s body is unresponsive, looking almost serene, but it breaks Jace’s heart, because he can feel the bond so eerily quiet and he hugs Alec, gently, but tightly, praying for this amazing man to be allowed one more chance.
Alec is not meant to go just yet.
--and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.
Jace can feel something break inside, but it doesn’t shatter, it’s… a dull ache, as if whatever just broke was simultaneously trying to stitch itself back together.
“Please don’t leave me, Alec.”
His voice catches, breaks, his throat feeling too tight. He barely chokes the words out. His tears finally fall.
If aught but death part thee and me.
The words are weak, quiet, barely audible, but in Jace’s ear they ring loud and joyful. The tears fall freely and he doesn’t stop them, hugging Alec tighter before gently lowering him to lay down, his own eyes wide with wonder as he gazes into the beautiful hazel unfocused ones. They’re the most beautiful thing Jace has ever seen, full of life .
He’s smiling, wide and carefree, because nothing matters right now, because Alec is here, Alec is alive, Alec is safe . He draws his parabatai into another hug, yearning contact, physical closeness, as if afraid Alec will disappear the moment Jace lets him go.
He’s finally home.
Aldertree strides into the loft as if he was home, and Magnus just feels rage, wondering how the fuck did the man bypass his wards. He must be weaker than he thought, running on nothing but magic for teh past few days.
“You are hereby sentenced to the City of Bones to await trial for teh charge of high treason and aiding Valentine in teh war against the Clave.”
Magnus feels his blood burn and in that moment he wishes nothing more than to set Victor Aldertree on fire. He knows he cannot, knows if he or any of them attack now they will only make the situation worse, but as watches teh Clave soldiers close steel manacles around Jace’s wrists, so similar to teh ones Magnus’ took off just hours ago, his blood boils.
“Wait, what? What the hell is going on?”
Right now, Magnus is glad Alec is too weak to fight.
“It’s alright, Alec. All that matters is that you’re back.”
Magnus watches Alec gaze at Jace with confusion, watches Jace’s eyes hold resignation, acceptance, obedience. He can see Jace doesn’t care for himself, only Alec, and it breaks his heart.
Jace Wayland needs to learn he matters too.
Magnus watches the Clave walk him out, and he knows they need to work on a plan.
It’s dark. That doesn’t mean much in New York, the city never sleeping, but Raphael is for once thankful for the darkness as he walks towards the skyline, pale and stark naked.
This is, hands down, the most awkward situation in his 80 years of life.
He is glad he no longer feels cold at least.
The increasing lights coming from the city start to make him uncomfortable with every step but since staying in the middle of nowhere isn’t an option either, he settles on marching on, examining the buildings for any signs of life.
He doesn’t dare wait for anything resembling a shop. The moment he sees sheer curtains in a window, a clear sign the place is lived in, he decides to take his chance. It’s still a secluded area and no one has seen him yet. No use waiting and challenging his luck.
He makes use of the vampire strength, hitting the window frame where he knows the latches are and watching it dislodge but thankfully not fall off. He owes whoever lives here money but at least he didn’t make a ruckus.
There’s a girl, clearly a student, sitting on a bed and staring at him intensly. He wonders what it must be look from her perspective, a naked pale guy breaking the window with his bare hands. Raphael uses encanto before she can open he mouth to scream, sending her into sweet sleep.
Opening the wardrobe proves she lives alone.
He manages to find black jeans and black top that fit him just fine and don’t make it obvious he’s dressed in female clothing.
This is truly going to be the hands down most awkward night of his life.
He needs to catch a train to the Institute. He has no money, but he can stow away. If the fate is cruel enough the control actually happens, he has teh encanto. As he takes his steps to the Subway, he wonders how much weirder this night can get get.
If only he knew.
Raphael hates The Institute. It’s impersonal, reeks of old age and would it kill them to put some carpets or curtains to make it look cozier? He doesn’t understand how anyone can live there.
And on top of that, it’s populated by jerks. The Lightwoods are the only people it’s actually possible to talk to there.
So when the third person he asks finally informs Raphael that neither Jace, Alec or Isabelle are at the Institute, Raphael walks out without as much as a goodbye and takes his steps to the loft. He’s too tired and fed up to care so he takes a cab and encantoes the driver.
It’s stealing, he knows it is, and he regrets it the entire ride, but he’s had enough and when he finally gets off in Brooklyn he’s glad he did it.
He still wishes he could just go to Church to ask for atonement.
But prayer is all he has left. He’s playing with the golden cross on his neck as he slumps against the wall of the lift to Magnus’ apartment. The loft is wired to let him in automatically, so he doesn’t worry about the wards.
He only realises his eyes closed when the ping of the lift door opening wakes him up from teh trance. He was too afraid to sleep in the warehouse so he’s pushing it for about 70 hours now and he’s tired .
When he finally pushes the door to the apartment open he’s attacked with an armful of Magnus before he can think of anything to say. He hugs the man back, drinking in teh familiarity of his magic, focusing on his warmth until Magnus pulls back and punches Raph in the shoulder none to gently.
“Hey! What was that for?”
He can see Isabelle and Clarissa slumped in relief and chuckling in teh background before he turns back to Magnus who is glaring at him.
“What was that for?! You disappeared on me! I had no idea anything happened until suddenly we find Jace… Except no, we don’t find him, because of course we failed and he managed to rescue himself first, and then Jace, half dead, tells me to check on you of all people, and I’m confused because what? I didn’t even know anything happened! So I try to call you, but you don’t answer, and I call Lily to find out you never came back to the Hotel after dawn! I tried tracking you but it was impossible, like there was nothing to grasp for me, Raphael, I was terrified. ”
Raphael’s expression falls and he averts Magnus’ gaze.
“I didn’t have anything on me you could track. I might have been… kidnapped. It doesn’t matter. You said you found Jace? So he is okay?”
“What do you mean you were kidnapped? You didn’t think that’s something worth mentioning?” Magnus looks ready to faint. Children. “Lord Almighty, give me strength to survive with you, Raphael. And Jace is fine. Well, he is no longer dying. He might have been… Erm, arrested for treason.”
Magnus shifts from leg to leg.
“Aldertree arrested him for treason and aiding Valentine.”
“ Aiding Valentine?! Wait, you said he is physically fine, who healed him?”
“And did all those wounds he has look like aiding to you?”
Raphael hissed involuntarily but Magnus held a hand stopping him.
“It’s not like I just let them take him, Raphael! If I tried to stop them I would only make his situation worse. The Sword will reveal the truth and they will let him go. There’s no other way to prove his innocence, it’s not like they’re going to take my word for it.”
“The sword will only help if they ask the right questions. And if they’re not going to listen to you then they better listen to me as an eyewitness.”
Raphael turned to walk out again but Magnus’ hand stopped him.
“Raphael, wait. I’m fully supporting you on this, but… do you plan to walk to the City of Bones by foot? I thought you said you don’t have money?”
Raphael feels his face burn with embarrassment and determination as he stares at Magnus who has one unimpressed eyebrow raised. It’s only Isabelle and Clary approaching them that ends the stare contest.
“I can go with Raphael. I will take Jace home later and I can actually drive.”
Raphael turns to glare at Isabelle for the implication but he stays silent since she’s right. He never bothered to learn to drive.
“I hope by home you mean here and not The Institute.”
Isabelle’s blush is answer enough as she nods.
“And what car are you going to take?”
“I already called Simon.”
She smiles sweetly at Magnus and Raph, the latter looking slightly annoyed but resigned. He will have to put their tension aside for the night.
“I would go with you but…”
Magnus starts, but then loses his breath and it’s only Clary standing behind him that saves him from collapsing. She gently helps him sit down on the floor and catch his breath.
“Oh no!” Her determination burns as bright as the colour of her her hair. “You’re staying here and joining Alec in bed.”
“Maybe I do need a short power nap. Like I said, I’d love to come with you but I think I need to rest.”
Clary’s face has don’t you say written all over it but Izzy is already out of the door, Raphael casting Magnus last thankful glance as he trudges behind her.
Mission save Jace is go.
Aldertree is standing tall and proud, smirking at Jace as the Silent Brothers lead him to the dais and hand him the sword, their voices echoing in his head.
You stand before the Sword,
accused of treason against the Clave,
as well as murder of two Downworlders.
Be thee innocent or guilty,
may the truth free thy soul.
The Sword is heavy in his hands, but dark, unpolished, looking altogether ordinary. Jace wonders how can such an artifact look so simple, and yet he can feel a low hum of sheer power within it.
He looks up and meets Aldertree’s eyes, feeling anger rise up at the glee in teh man’s eyes.
“Have you anything to say before we start?”
He thinks, but doesn’t say it. He won’t give Victor the satisfaction. He’s worth more than that. He chooses to be better than that.
“Facilis descensus Averno.”
“The descent into Hell is easy.” Aldertree echoes after him, and Jace sees with satisfaction that he’s quite confused. “I’m glad you believe in our sacred Clave motto.”
“Alec and I used it to remind each other that we can’t be broken.”
You won’t break me.
“Did you kill the werewolf Gretel Monroe?”
Even if the truth frees him, the memory still hurts.
But I’ve been there. But I’ve seen it. But I couldn’t stop it.
He doesn’t say any of that. He’s not stupid.
“But you did capture her for you father, Valentine Morgenstern.”
“No. I was captured myself, imprisoned on his ship.”
He can see surprise and disappointment in Aldertree’s gaze, but the man doesn’t give up.
“You have great love for your sister, don’t you?”
And what the hell is Aldertree playing at?
“Leave Clary out of this.”
He can feel the Sword burn his hands at the snarky remark but he can’t help himself. Aldertree is dangerous. Jace won’t let him anywhere near his family.
“Yes or no?”
The Sword shines bright gold and forces the answer out of Jace.
“In fact, to my understanding, you two were romantically involved prior to the discovery that you were siblings. Is that true?”
It’s silly mistakes of his youth (It was a month ago, his brain supplies.) that Jace doesn’t like brought up.
It’s the Sword forcing the words out again, and Jace chokes, breathing heavily through the pain.
“What about now?”
Jace raises an eyebrow. Thankfully teh question is not specific enough for the Sword to activate. But Aldertree clarifies.
“Do you love her the way a brother loves his sister?”
Jace wants to let out a bitter laugh, but he’s hurting too much. So that’s Aldertree’s game.
The Sword’s presence is soothingly cool for once as he answers, looking Victor in the eye.
Clearly Aldertree is surprised and more and more annoyed.
“Do you love your father?”
He’s fishing for anything to pin on Jace instead of just asking teh right questions and being done with it.
“I love the dream if teh father I wish he’d be.”
It’s the painful, confusing, convoluted truth and Victor has to deal with it.
“The kind of father who wouldn’t kill a young boy’s falcon?”
Jace wants to take the sword and run Aldertree through here and there. Rub it in, sure, bring this up, have fun bullying the abuse victim. Jace wonders how Victor even came to know that but he doesn’t really care.
Victor Aldertree is dead.
“Yes. I know more than you think about you and dear dad.”
“To love is to destroy. Quite a harsh lesson for a six year old boy.”
You think? Jace wants to yell. You have to gloat?
“Do you agree with that sentiment?”
The Sword shines bright gold. The manacles move on his wrists, rubbing the skin raw, reminding him of the pain so familiar, reminding him of the manacles Magnus got of his wrists barely hours ago.
The one, short word is torn from Jace’s throat. He lowers his gaze, unable to take any more of it. He feels like he’s back in teh cabin, a child being punished just for existing.
“Do you agree your father’s goal to kill all Downworlders is just?”
I think kill all people like you would be just .
“Yes and no.”
“Which one is it?”
You think everything is as simple as in your fucked up world of The Law, isn’t it?
“Both. May father’s worldview may be misguided but I’ve seen vampire dens that are thriving because of Clave’s lack of action. Your lack of action.”
You wanted the truth, you have your truth, you sad excuse of a Head. Alec would do a thousand times better job than you ever could.
He’s glad to see that even if he pretends not to, Victor is put of by that.
“Final question. Can you pledge your unconditional loyalty to the C--”
“ Stop the interrogation! ” The words echo in teh stone walls, loud and commanding.
Jace breaths in relief as he feels the power fade from the Sword because the question was never finished. The answer wouldn’t be one Victor wants. Or maybe it would be exactly the one Victor hoped for.
“And who are you to dare dictate me how to do my job?”
“Your job is to determine whether or not Jace Wayland is guilty of treason and aiding Valentine. I was an eye witness to his time on Morgenstern’s ship after being kidnapped and imprisoned there. I am ready to testify in his defence. Our own bodies serve as proof. Some of Jace’s wounds have been partially healed but I can assure you can see for yourself that they aren’t injuries inflicted by an ally.”
Victor stared at Raphael with pure contempt and hatred.
“And I ask you again. Who are you?”
“Raphael Santiago. Head of New York Vampire Clan.”
He could see the moment Victor realised what consequences openly defying one of most important Downworlder leaders.
“And what are you here for, Mr. Santiago?”
Victor’s words are cold and tense and it brings Raphael immense satisfaction.
“I just want to explain some things. Like I said, I was with Jace on the ship…”
He meets the blonde’s eyes across the room, silently seeking permission. Jace looks like enough was exposed in this room already that nothing Raphael could say would make it any worse.
“I was there to see Jace tortured by Valentine himself, Mr. Aldertree. I was there when he was flogged and left to die by the man for fighting against him and refusing to join him, refusing to kill me and Gretel, of whose death you accused him. I can assure you that he is innocent and his injuries are his testimony. He just admitted under the compulsion of The Mortal Sword that he does not wish to join Valentine or has any love left for the man. I think it’s time you released him, don’t you?”
Aldertree’s eyes are bright with fire of pure hatred and if looks could kill Raphael would be nothing but a pile of ash. It makes him feel happy in a twisted way, brings him insane satisfaction, to hold power and victory over the man.
Victor practically hisses his next words through clenched teeth.
“Thank you for clearing things up, Mr. Santiago.” He turns to Jace, but looks straight through him, nodding at the Silent Brothers. “Just to make sure, Mr. Wayland… can you confirm everything Mr. Santiago said to be true?”
Jace doesn’t look at Victor, eyes locked with Raphael instead.
“Well then, I’m afraid--” Victor quickly masks his slip with a cough. “--I’m happy to tell you are free to go.”
Jace feels his fear go away with the manacles as the Silent brothers depart and Victor storms out of the city. He walks out into the cold air behind Izzy, Raphael and a very awkward Simon who looks like only Raphael’s glare is stopping him making a weird and undoubtedly not funny remark.
Finally feeling the grass under his feet feels weird as he watches Simon excuse himself and walk to the van. Izzy shifts awkwardly from one foot to another by his side, unsure what to do with herself but waiting silently, offering him space.
“So you’re okay.”
Jace finally breathes in relief, looking at Raphael in and taking in the sight, the beautiful sight of the man, alive, not.. breathing, but not dead. Overwhelmed, he doesn’t really think as he allows his emotions to make decisions for him for once and throws himself into Raphael’s arms, hugging him fiercely.
After the initial shock passes, he can feel the vampire awkwardly hug him back.
Jace decides after the shit he just went through he deserves a few seconds more and only pulls away after a while, blushing and feeling embarrassed.
“Glad you made. Thank you for standing up for me back there. I don’t think this would have gone well if you didn’t come in…”
Raphael gives him a strange half-smile.
“You’re welcome. I owe you my life, after all.”
He walks away after that, joining Simon in the van and Jace turns to Izzy, nodding slightly and allowing her to engulf him in the warmest hug in existence. Jace isn’t a very tactile person, not usually, and Izzy knows that, but on rare occasions he allows himself to enjoy physical affection, his sister gives the best hugs.
“Jace, I’m so sorry we didn’t get to you on time.”
He can hear her sobbing into his shoulder and he knows a few stray tears of his own escaped.
“It’s okay, Iz. It doesn’t matter. I got out and I’m here, I have you, guys. It means more than you think, just to have you here.”
“Come on. Magnus, Alec and Clary are waiting for us at the loft. We’re going home.”
The loft. Home. Jace thought. It sounded good.
The End... of the beginning.