Alec would be lying if he said he wasn’t shocked to find Chris crying in the corner of his office. The 18-year-old was an optimist; he lit up every room he walked into, your bad day vanishing as Christopher Rothschild walked into it.
“Chris,” Alec said softly, not wanting to spook him. Chris’s eyes shot up to him, the green orbs filled with pain and tears. They were red and swollen, so clearly he’d been crying for a while. Alec didn’t say anything and neither did Chris, whose mind was clearly going wildly as to what his next move should be. Alec approached him slowly, giving him the chance to get up, or run, or shy away. None of those happened and Alec reached out taking Chris by the forearm and pulling him to his feet, wrapping his arms around the teenager.
Chris let out a sound that was mix between a sob and a moan and it broke Alec’s heart. He’d known this kid since he was 5. His heart had always been open and bright and he’d loved Alec’s children with a fullness that no one else besides Alec and Magnus had managed. Chris didn’t see Rafael’s baggage or Max’s blue skin and Downworlder title. He just saw Rafael with his sideways smile and big eyes, and Max’s playful giggle and wild spirit. He’d made himself indispensable to all the Lightwood-Banes. Chris was the third son that Magnus and Alec had happily let join their family. He was the one pulling Rafael up and keeping Max on the ground. He fit into Alec’s arms as if he’d always been there, because he had. He’d watched the energetic, loud, knock-kneed boy grow into a strong, brave, intelligent man that he was so proud of.
Suddenly Chris pulled away from him, shaking his head furiously.
“No, no, no, no,” he muttered as he back away from Alec as if he were a scared puppy. Alec had never seen Chris act like this before, Chris wasn’t afraid of anyone, least of all Alec.
“Chris, hey, it’s me, it’s just Alec, you’re okay,” Alec tried, not moving forward as he didn’t want to freak Chris out more. Chris shook his head, wiping his face almost violently, as if the tears on his face were offensive.
“-hate me. You’ll hate me. I hate me,” the words tumbled out of Chris’s mouth and it was jarring to hear such words in Chris’s voice. Alec stared at him. What could have possibly happened that would make Chris feel this way about himself, and, more importantly, about Alec. That Alec could hate him? Not in a million years. This time Alec didn’t care if Chris moved away; he had to hold him, he had to make sure Chris knew he would never hate him, that wasn’t something Alec could possibly feel for Chris.
“Tell me what happened,” Alec ordered as he pulled the shaking Shadowhunter into his arms. Chris cried out in protest at being held, but then he fell slack in Alec’s arms and sobbed harder. Chris shook his head but nuzzled into Alec’s collarbone, as he was the shortest of the three younger boys.
“Chris!” Rafael’s yell hit them and at first Chris flinched, in an attempt to get away, but then Rafael was pulling his father and Parabatai apart and wrapped his arms around Chris, shushing him gently even as Chris fully broke and wailed in his best friend’s arms. Alec looked at the two Shadowhunters in concern wondering how Rafael had found out whatever happened before Alec when he’d just been with Rafael in the debriefing room moments before he found Chris. And he was pretty sure Chris hadn’t been texting anyone in his clear grief. Rafael looked up at Alec and shook his head, telling Alec not to push. Alec nodded and moved to leave, but then the office door flew open and Max stood there, looking like a hurricane. His hair was in his face, his eyes were flashing with fury but filled with agony. His magic crackled around him, and Alec didn’t like how it felt, unpredictable and dangerous.
“Fucking coward,” Max snarled and Alec knew immediately it was directed at Chris as Chris tensed and tried to escape Rafael’s arms, but Rafael wouldn’t let him go and instead moved so that his body was fully blocking Chris from Max. It would have been interesting to Alec if it hadn’t been so confusing. Since when did Rafael side with Chris over something that had clearly hurt his brother so much. Though if Alec was being honest, his instinct was telling him to protect Chris against his son as well.
“How dare you protect him? He’s not worth your loyalty, Rafael, because he sure as fuck doesn’t have any!”
Alec watched as Chris’s body collapsed in Rafael’s arms, and Rafael seemed to be having a hard time keeping it together, too. Obviously feeling the assault on Chris through is Parabatai link.
“Stop it, Max,” Rafael hissed through gritted teeth as tears streamed down his face. Chris was silently sobbing in Rafael’s arms, his breath shaky and broken. Max held up his hands, magic growing and Alec jumped between his sons, glaring furiously at Max who blinked rapidly upon seeing his father in his path.
“Get outside, now,” Alec growled. He didn’t know what was happening, but nothing warranted Max threatening Rafael or Chris with magic.
Max deflated at the betrayal from both Shadowhunters. He scoffed, “Surprise, surprise. Shadowhunters always choose their own.”
Alec had never heard that kind of talk from Max, not ever. He didn’t know where Max had even heard that. He slammed the office door in frustration as he followed his son out, grabbing his forearm, pulling him back to face him.
“What the hell has gotten into you? I am not—Jesus fucking Christ Max,” Alec stared at him before shaking his head in disappointment and shock. Max looked up at him the anger flickering away to reveal nothing but hurt and sadness, tears falling down his cheeks.
“He broke up with me,” Max whispered.
Alec blinked; he was not expecting that. Just the night before, Chris and Max had been laughing and kissing on the couch, more in love each day. How was that possible? They barely even fought. Alec gathered Max into his arms, the lean, tall body trembling in his embrace.
“Why would he do that, Daddy,” Max whimpered and Alec flinched, holding him tighter as his little boy sobbed. None of it made sense. From how distraught Chris was, Alec would have thought he’d been the one broken up with, but clearly Max’s young heart was shattered. “And he texted me! He couldn’t even do it to my face,” Max sobbed. That explained why Max had called Chris a coward.
“There has to be a good explanation, Maxie,” Alec whispered, kissing his hair and rocking him back and forth comfortingly. “He loves you so much, I know he does, it has to be—”
“A misunderstanding?” The anger was back as he jerked out of Alec’s arms and shoved his phone in his face.
My Ginger snap: I’m sorry Max, but I can’t be with you anymore.
The words were cold and not at all like Chris. The text before was:
My Ginger snap: Do u know how much I love u, my sweet little blueberry?
They didn’t match, in anyway. They didn’t even look like the same person wrote them. But it was ridiculous to think that Chris had been forced to write that by someone. Who would force an 18 year old to break up with his boyfriend? No one had ever had a problem with Chris and Max’s relationship. Even if there were a few Clave members who didn’t necessarily approve, they wouldn’t force Chris to break up with Max.
“Not much to interpret, is there,” Max asked, his lower lips shaking. Alec wiped Max’s cheek with the pad of his thumb.
“We’re going to find out what this is about, Blue. Something fishy is going on here, okay,” Alec promised.
Max seemed less than convinced. “I’m going to go home and be stereotypically heartbroken. Eat some ice cream and watch trashy rom-coms. I’ll—”
Suddenly Alec’s phone when off and he sighed heavily, pulling it out in case it was an emergency.
“WHAT?” He read the text 10 times before handing it to Max and going back into his office. Rafael had moved them to the couch and Chris was sitting next to him, looking at his hands until Alec entered. “You’re getting married?!”
For a moment Chris looked like a deer in the headlights before he moaned weakly. “I told them not to do that, I wanted to tell you all myself but I just cou—”
He caught Max’s eyes as the Warlock walked back into the office. His eyes widened with sadness and desperation. Chris swallowed hard at the sight of the man he loved, the man he’d hurt so deeply.
“Married?” Rafael asked quietly. “What the fuck, Chris?”
“It’s not my decision! I don’t want to! It was my parents. They set it up and they—” Chris claimed before Max interrupted.
“Your parents? They’ve never had a problem with us. With me,” Max said softly, wondering if he’d misread Chris’s parents’ approval of him. Alec put his arm on Max’s shoulder in defense; now that it was revealed to involve Chris’s parents, Alec went back to his default protective mode. “Why did you agree?” tears were pouring down the blue teenager’s face.
“I didn’t, Maxie,” Chris said and Max flinched at his nickname coming from Chris. “I don’t want to marry anyone but you, but they said—”
Chris cut himself off. His throat closing in pain at the memory of what his parents had threatened. They threatened to hire a Warlock to take Chris’s memories, take his memories of Max. Chris couldn’t let that happen. He’d rather Max hate him, rather Rafael, Alec, and Magnus hate him, than forget Max and his love for the Warlock. Even if it hurt more, the idea of forgetting his beautiful Blue was inconceivable.
“Can you come with me,” Max asked, his voice shaking with emotion. “I’ll portal us somewhere, we’ll talk and then we’ll come back and you can do what you have to—”
Chris jumped up and grabbed Max’s hands, gripping them with a desperation that Alec had only ever seen in someone who was about to die. Max winced at the touch, but gripped back, leaning his head in to press their temples together.
“We don’t have to come back. Portal to the ends of the earth and we’ll stay. We can be together. They’ll never find us, please,” Chris pleaded, begging his lover to save him.
Max smiled sadly and shook his head, his hand going to the back of Chris’s neck and playing with the soft slight curls that hid there.
“We can’t do that. You have a job, and I have a job. And we can’t leave Rafael. How will he get along without us?”
Rafael watched the two, tears streaming down his face, his Parabatai’s pain, lighting every single cell in Rafael on fire. The pain in his little brother’s eyes something he cannot fix, failing at the most basic older brother job. He felt like he was dying; he felt like Chris was dying.
Chris let out a sob and Max waved his hand, a portal appearing behind them. Max inhaled deeply and led them into the portal, Chris clutching his hand as if Max would leave him behind. As the portal closed Rafael and Alec looked at each other.
“Can I kill them or…” Rafael asked, Alec knowing exactly to whom Rafael was referring.
“Only if you can make it look accidental,” Alec said sharply in response. How anyone could do that to their child Alec did not understand. Robert and Maryse had convinced him to, but in the end, it had been Alec’s decision. And he wasn’t deeply in love with Magnus at the time like Chris was with Max. Chris would never choose to do this. His parents had said something that convinced Chris, who was stubborn and strong-willed and a fighter, to submit without so much as a word to anyone before he was breaking his boyfriend’s heart. Alec sighed; this all felt painfully familiar. Then again, Alec had very much made the decision to break his and Magnus’s heart without any threats from his parents. And just like he had decided to break them, it had been him who had to put them back together. Chris was the only one who could fix this.
Rafael stood in the middle of the office, looking more lost and off balance than Alec had seen him since he was a child. He carefully approached his oldest son and tucked a stray curl behind his ear—even if Rafael kept his hair cut neat and close, sometimes those wild curls got free. Rafael jumped slightly at the feeling, but then as he felt Alec’s arm snake around his shoulder he let it go. He stopped being the Parabatai and big brother, and he just let himself be his father’s little boy. He buried his face in Alec’s shoulder, shaking with the force of his pain for two of the most important people in his life. His heart was broken for both of them, for he knew neither of them wanted what was happening, and none of them knew how to fix it.
“We need to go tell Papa,” Alec whispered his hold on Rafael not waning in the slightest.
Rafael let out a hollow laugh mixed with a cry, and he pulled his face away just enough to look at Alec, “That’s going to go well.”