The dreams started after Jace had returned to New York with Clary. At first, he tried to get back to normal life, but every night he kept waking, shivering and panting, from dreams of the Owl and Lilith - except in his dreams, it wasn't the demon who committed the atrocities, it was Jace who plunged the blade into his grandmother's body.
Then, after about a week, he woke as before, only to find himself not alone. His parabatai was perched on the side of his bed, concern warm in hazel eyes as he watched Jace struggling to come back to himself.
"Jace, you okay?" Alec's hands were hovering in the air, as if he'd been hesitating to reach out and touch, but his presence alone was enough to help soothe some of Jace's turmoil. Once their eyes met, Alec did lean in in order to rest a comforting hand on Jace's shoulder, the grip of strong fingers an anchor Jace could cling to. "Every single night since your return I’ve been feeling your anguish through our bond, but I wasn't sure if I should wake you."
Swallowing, Jace nodded gratefully, covering Alec's hand with his own. "It's just... dreams."
"Lilith?" Alec asked sympathetically but without overt pity, for which Jace was incredibly thankful. He already felt weak for still struggling so much, even knowing that Lilith and Jonathan could never harm him or anyone ever again. Obviously discerning at least some of Jace's thoughts, Alec shook his head firmly. "No, Jace, don't do this to yourself. You've gone through an unbelievable ordeal, you have to give yourself time to heal."
"You know what the worst thing is, though?" Jace asked, still clinging to Alec's hand like a lifeline. "That they're not just dreams - they're memories, every horrible thing I did as the Owl in terrifying technicolor."
"So maybe you need to get some help," Alec suggested, voice almost unbearably gentle, still withholding judgement, and Jace knew without a doubt that his parabatai would accept and support whatever he decided.
It was this more than anything else that made him agree, "You're right. Maybe it is time I go to the Silent Brothers."
Alec nodded quietly, and his approving smile warmed Jace all the way through. They remained together for the rest of the night, not really talking, just leaning back against the headrest of Jace's bed, Alec's body a reassuring pressure warming Jace's side. Without planning to, Jace nodded off, and this time there were no dreams.
The next day Jace explained his decision to Izzy and Clary, who both sent him off with warm hugs and encouragement. Having accompanied him to the City of Bones, Alec was visibly reluctant to leave him. Finally Jace pulled his parabatai into an embrace, savoring his strength as always, before pushing him away with a grin. "Go, so they can fix me. I'll see you soon, parabatai."
"Soon," Alec replied firmly. finally leaving with a last look at the Silent Brothers hovering around them.
Jace wasn't sure what he expected. His only experience of staying here had been during his imprisonment, and the room he was led to was still underground and rather dark - but it resembled a monk’s cell more than a dungeon. It contained a narrow bed, a desk and a drawer, and the Brother who'd led him there left him with a tray of plain but tasty food.
We will begin in the morning. But do not be afraid of sleep - you will be protected from the nightmares here.
Jace wasn't sure what to make of this promise, but when he finally managed to relax enough to fall asleep, he did not dream of Lilith or the Owl - and back at the Institute, dreams of an entirely different kind found his parabatai as well.
Blood colored the sand red, and Alexandros dropped to his knees beside Yehonathan's fallen body the moment it was safe to do so. he cut off a corner of his legionnaire's cloak with his blood-stained sword. He pressed the cloth against the deep gash in Yehonathan's thigh and sent a prayer to Apollo and Asclepius, promising them offerings if they healed his fellow soldier. Hesitating a second, he added a prayer to the strange god of the Jews, not sure if Yehonathan even really believed in him, but wanting to cover all his bases.
"You owe him; after all, his monster of a father was one of your priests." Alright, so maybe Alexandros wasn't too impressed with the Jewish god after the bits and pieces he'd learned about his friend's childhood - however, as if he'd heard him, right then Yehonathan shifted and opened his eyes with a pained groan. Lightheaded with relief, Alexandros whispered quickly, "Thank you," before adding more loudly, "Yehonathan? Yeho, can you hear me?"
"Alékos - you're a sight for sore eyes, my friend." Yehonathan's voice was strained but steady, much to Alexandros's relief, and his gaze was clear.
"Same here." Smiling widely, Alexandros helped Yehonathan to sit up, glad when the movement didn't seem to worsen his condition. Pulling off Yeho's cloak, he used it to fasten the makeshift bandage he'd fashioned earlier around his leg. There were healers back at camp, but this would do until then.
Their eyes met, and Yeho's mouth twitched into a grin. Chuckling, they spoke in unison, "Good thing these are red."
It was an old joke between them, and it made the last of Alékos’s worry disappear. Carefully sliding an arm around Yeho's shoulder, he helped him to his feet, quirking an eyebrow when Yehonathan tried to stand on his own, until he relented and allowed Alexandros to take most of his weight.
Carefully picking their way through the bodies of the fallen, trying to ignore the unavoidable familiar faces among them, they slowly moved towards the vast encampment of the fourth legion on the other side of the hill. Once the soldiers guarding the perimeter caught sight of them, Alexandros gave the password, and they were helped to the healers' tent.
There weren't too many injured there, always a relief, so it wasn't very long before someone came to look at Yehonathan. In the six years since joining up, it wasn't the first time he'd been wounded, and by now no one batted an eyelid when Alexandros refused to leave his side. He would have to report back to their optio eventually, but the healer assured them that Yehonathan would be well enough to return to their tent, so he decided to wait until Yeho was released.
By the time the healer was satisfied, Yehonathan was looking much better, and not just because Alexandros had cleaned him up. He wasn't so pale anymore under his desert tan, his unusual two-coloured eyes sparkling again, poking Alexandros playfully when he was too careful in wiping off the dirt and grime of battle.
"Not going to break, Alékos," he teased and wrestled the cloth off his friend. Alexandros responded in kind, causing the healer to raise an unimpressed eyebrow when he returned to the sight of the two of them almost tearing apart the wet cloth. But the man had seen worse in his time, so he simply sent them away with the admonishment to be careful.
Yeho was not allowed to put his full weight onto his leg for at least a few days, which meant no marching. These news didn't impress the optio; however, underneath his gruff exterior the older soldier liked the irreppressible Jew, and there was to bite to his bark.
Alexandros was no longer surprised by this, since he himself was quite helpless against the force of Yeho's smile. He did his best to hide it, at least when others were around, but the optio at least wasn't fooled. Shaking his head fondly, he gave Alexandros permission to join Yehonathan on the wagon with the other wounded when the legion decamped the next morning, saying he’d square it with the centurion.
They joined the rest of their contubernium at their tent, relieved to notice that the other six legionnaires were uninjured. They were exchanging the usual post-battle stories of feats of strength against the enemy, and Yeho and Alexandros soon joined in, sitting side by side around the camp fire.
Their rations always tasted best in the aftermath of victory, even if it was just bread and lentils with garum, washed down with wine. As always, Yeho quickly passed up the fragrant fish sauce, protesting that it was against his religion when their fellow soldiers teased him about his poor taste.
It was an old joke, and Alékos rested his elbows on his knees in order to watch Yehonathan throw his head back in laughter, a sight he would never tire of. Catching him at it, Yeho laugh gentled to a warm smile that Alexandros couldn't help but mirror. Their eyes locked and held, and without needing to talk about it, they made their excuses to their comrades.
Yeho claimed exhaustion, which was believable enough, and no one was surprised when Alexandros offered him his arm to lean on. They'd all been through too much together to judge each other for finding peace and pleasure wherever they could. Of course, the fact that neither Alexandros nor Yehonathan were Romans also helped, giving them some leeway from the moral code most of their fellow legionnaires had been raised with.
Inside their tent, the rest of the world fell away. Alékos lowered Yeho to his bedroll and gently helped him out of his armour, leaving him in just his tunic. For once Yehonathan was happy to be coddled, obviously more tired than he'd let on before, watching Alexandros wordlessly while he undressed as well.
Their beds were next to each other, but after putting away his clothes and readying their packs for a quick start in the morning, Alexandros returned to Yeho's side, wordlessly sliding in next to him and taking him in his arms. He could feel Yeho's smile against his neck as his friend buried himself in his embrace with a happy sigh. He pressed a kiss to Yeho's matted hair, not minding that it hadn't seen a bath in several days. Tension bled from him that he'd been carrying ever since the battle and that horrible moment when he'd seen Yehonathan fall. Willing the mental image away, his lips found Yeho's and their bodies came together lazily.
Their was no urgency in their coupling, both of them too drained from the day, but that wasn't what this was about anyway. Instead, every kiss was a reassurance, We're alive, every touch a wordless promise, We're together, as they moved in perfect tandem in the flickering light of their oil lamp.
This was what made it all worth it. Alexandros might have joined up to bring honour to his family back in Greece, but it was with Yeho, this unlikely friend, that he'd built his home.
Waking, the smile on Alec's face melted away as he found himself alone in the darkness of his room at the Institute. Across town, in the unfamiliar surroundings of the City of Bones, Jace woke with a start, a name that was almost, but not quite Alec’s still on his lips.
Hands pressed against their parabatai runes, they sought to reassure themselves that nothing unusual was bleeding through their bond. Satisfied, they both dismissed the dream - but it took a while for their heartbeats to slow down and longer still before sleep found them again.