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And They Were Roommates

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Everyone had warned him.  When Alec and Jace had made plans to move into an apartment together, Alec had heard from just about everyone that living with your best friend was a bad idea.  That it would make them hate each other.  And being an idiot, Alec hadn’t listened.  He figured that he’d already been living with Jace in their parents’ house for so long and it had been going fine, this would be the same. 

It wasn’t. 

 

Sure, it had started off fine.  The idea of getting to live together just the two of them had sounded exactly like the freedom and relaxation Alec needed after living with his controlling parents for so long.  And it really had been fun the first month or so.  They both picked up after themselves, they were both courteous of each other’s belongs and schedules, they both put an equal amount of effort into cleaning the apartment and splitting any of the costs that came with renting an apartment. 

But it wasn’t long until Jace started slipping into some less than favorable habits and Alec realized that Jace had been on his absolute best behavior in the beginning so now the more comfortable he got, the less he tried.  Without the strict hand of their parents, Jace got lazy.

 

It had started with small things.  Jace stopped washing dishes after cooking and Alec found himself picking up fast food wrappers and empty beer cans.  He tried to gently remind Jace to wash his dishes, but the response was almost always Jace saying he’d do it later or that they needed to sit in the sink and soak. 

Then Jace stopped being courteous of Alec’s possessions.  Alec would be rushing out the door to get to class and reach for his headphones, but they would be gone from their usual position because Jace had borrowed them without asking.  When Alec would pull open one of his drawers to get new batteries for his wireless laptop mouse, there would just be an empty package because Jace had taken the last few for his x-box controller.  On more than one occasion Alec would get home from a long day of classes and an eight-hour shift, just wanting to eat and relax.  He’d pull open the fridge only to discover that Jace had eaten his leftovers or the meal prep he had done the night before.  Alec even went as far to start labeling his food, but it didn’t help. 

One of the worst parts was some of Jace’s friends.  Early on, Jace had been good about giving Alec a heads up when they were going to come over and about keeping the volume down if they stayed late into the night.  Jace knew that Alec had classes that started as early as seven in the morning some days.  After a while, though, they had stopped trying to be quiet, instead playing video games in the living room, getting drunk and yelling.  Not to mention the yelling occasionally included certain choice slurs from Jace’s friends that had Alec cringing.  Alec had even gotten into the habit of buying a whiteboard for their fridge and leaving notes for Jace. 

“I have a midterm on Thursday, please don’t have people over Wednesday night.”

“Food in the green Tupperware container is mine, please don’t eat.”

It didn’t help.

 

Alec knew he was being too passive about this but Jace proved difficult to talk to about these things, getting irritated and defensive, almost always shutting Alec down right away.  He’d always wave him off and claim to do better or that he’d stop engaging in whatever particular habit Alec was trying to talk to him about.  He never did.  Sometimes he’d try, and things would be better for a few days, but it only took a few days until Jace got lazy again and stopped caring.

As bad as things were getting, Alec wasn’t pushed too far until Jace started being consistently late on his share of the bills, just assuming Alec would cover for him.  Alec didn’t have the money to cover him every month, if he did, he wouldn’t need to be living with a roommate to begin with.  He couldn’t pick up any more hours at work without his schoolwork suffering.

But talking to Jace about money was even harder.  He’d always claim he was good for it as soon as he got paid, then Friday would roll around and instead of contributing to rent, the new dishwasher they desperately needed, or paying Alec back for all the money he’d already borrowed, Alec would come home to see a new case of beer in the fridge and a new bong on the coffee table.  Whenever he tried to awkwardly broach the subject of the money that Jace owed him or how Jace hadn’t really paid his fair share of rent, Jace claimed to be strapped for cash, that he was putting in as much money as he could manage despite two new x-box games sitting on top of the console. 

Of course, Jace didn’t care about getting a new dishwasher.  He wasn’t the one handwashing all of their dishes.  And why would he want to contribute more than he currently was to the rent or pay Alec back when he knew Alec would let him take advantage of him?  It was at the point where Jace was paying barely a third of the rent and Alec was doing the other rest.  This wasn’t the 50/50 split they had agreed on, it was more like 70/30 now.

 

Finally, after another conversation quickly turned into an argument, Alec finally suggested that maybe they should start considering living with other people.  And even though it was Alec’s idea, he felt a bit hurt by how quickly and eagerly Jace agreed to it.  But since they had decided to give this at least one more month, Alec hadn’t really started looking yet. 

 

---

 

His feet hurt, his back hurt, his head hurt, and all Alec wanted to do was take a shower and go to bed.  Maybe just go straight to bed.  It was already past eleven at night and he needed to be up at 5:45am tomorrow.  But as he started up the stairs that led to the third floor he stopped and groaned.  He could hear the shitty music coming out of his apartment from here.  Jace had friends over.  Again. 

Alec resumed his climb up the stairs, his aching feet reminding him to nag their landlord about getting the damn elevator fixed as soon as he had a free moment.  The sound of the music got louder as he got closer.  He had been at school since seven in the morning and at work since four in the evening without a single stop home in between.  He didn’t have the energy to deal with this. 

 

The apartment reeked of weed and Alec felt a tight knot of frustration in his chest.  He didn’t care if they did it, but he had lost track of the amount of times he’d asked Jace to at least not do it indoors in their apartment.  The three boys were focused on the video game they were playing so Alec didn’t bother greeting them.  He walked over to the nearest window and pulled it open, doing the same to the one in the kitchen.  He had left his own door closed to here’s to hoping that helped prevent the smell from seeping into his room too much.  He knew he’d have to crack a window open in there too.

While he was in the kitchen, Alec double checked the whiteboard to make sure he had left a message this morning.  He had.

“Please no loud friends over after 11 tonight.  Have test tomorrow.”

Alec glanced back over to where the men were sitting, a beer next to each of them.  So Jace had definitely been to the fridge and seen it.  Typical.

They still hadn’t noticed him until Alec walked over to the speaker to turn the volume down quite a few notches. 

“Aw come on man.”  Complained Jordan and Alec gestured to the open windows.

“Sorry, it’s late and we need to air the place out.”  He didn’t feel even remotely sorry, but this was easier than arguing.  Jordan and Brad were probably Alec’s least favorite combination of Jace’s friends.

 

“I’m going to bed, just try and keep it down, okay?”  The words felt pointless as they came out of his mouth and he could tell Jace wasn’t even listening to him.

“Yeah, yeah, will do.”

 

They didn’t. 

It was past midnight when Alec finally got out of bed again.  He pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt before walking out into what he knew was most likely going to be a fruitless attempt.  He had been listening to their voices for the past hour, yelling at the game and at each other, steadily getting drunker and louder. 

“Guys.”  Alec said wearily but it didn’t get any of their attention. 

“Guys.”  He repeated himself louder this time and Jace glanced back at him before heaving an overly dramatic sigh and pausing the game.  He exchanged looks with both of his friends before finally looking at Alec.

“Yeah, what’s up?”  There was a slur in Jace’s words and it didn’t take a genius to see that all three of them were drunk.

 

“Can you guys please stop yelling?  I’m sorry, I have to be up for class in less than six hours.”  He didn’t even know why he was apologizing, he wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable. 

“Oh, come on, we’re not yelling.  We’re just having fun loudly.”  Jace gave him a smile that he probably thought was charming, but Alec just thought it made him look like an idiot. 

“I’m serious.  I have-“

“Should we just whisper then?”  Jordan interrupted him, and Alec wanted to punch him.

“No, I’m just asking for you guys to talk at a normal volume.  I’m tired and I have a test tomorrow.”  This wasn’t the first time Alec had made this exact same request.

 

“If you’re so tired, then why don’t you just go to sleep?”  Brad asked drunkenly and the other two both burst out into laughter.  Alec wondered if there was a way for him to punch all three of them at the same time.  Being drunk didn’t give them an excuse to be this loud.  And stupid. 

“I’m trying.  You guys are being way too loud.  My room is right there, I can hear you guys loud and clear.  I’m sure our neighbors don’t appreciate it either.”

“Oh my god.”  Jordan groaned as if Alec was asking them to do hard physical labor.  “Why are you always like this?”

Jordan turned to look at Jace.  “It’s like you still live with your parents.  No fun allowed.”

“Jace, can you tell your brother to stop being such a faggot and just let us have fun?”  Brad turned to Jace and asked, and Alec felt everything inside of him tense. 

Jace didn’t even hesitate.

“Alec stop being such a faggot and let us have fun.”  The word came out so easily like Jace had said it a thousand times before.  His words ran together with the alcohol, and he tripped over them a little, but the slur was loud and clear. 

 

“Fine.  Have fun.”  Alec tried to keep his voice as devoid of emotion as possible despite the anger and hurt bubbling up inside of him.  He didn’t care how drunk Jace was.  For fucks sake, Alec had wanted to move out to avoid hearing shit like this from his parents.  Maybe Jace had always been a little weird about Alec’s sexuality and Alec had always had his suspicions that Jace used some of those words behind his back, but never to his face before. 

Alec forced himself to shut his door quietly and calmly.  He sat down on the side of his bed and scrubbed at his face with his hands.  He felt way too keyed up to sleep now, regardless of the noise level.  It shouldn’t bother him this much.  He had heard multiple gay slurs from both Jordan and Brad- though never directed at him.  But he had never heard one from Jace since he had come out. 

 

Alec could still hear them in the other room, talking as loudly as ever. 

 

“Dude why does your brother always have to be such a killjoy?”  Jordan’s voice carried through the unfortunately thin wall. 

“I told you man, that’s just how he is.  Hey, pass that, will you?” 

“Hey, isn’t your brother like, you know, actually a fag?”  It was Brad’s voice this time.

“Yeah, he’s gay and shit.”  Coughing accompanied Jace’s response.

 

Awesome.  While Alec was technically out of the closet, he was still selective about who he came out to.  He wasn’t ashamed of it like he used to be, but it was his own private information that was up to him who he wanted to share it with, when he wanted to share it, and if he even wanted to share it at all.  And if it had been up to him, Jordan and Brad were absolutely not people that Alec would have wanted to know. 

Jace knew that.  So, to hear Jace in such a flippant manner just telling whoever he wanted made the knot of anger and hurt tighten even more.  Not to mention it was pretty clear that Jace had already told them and was just confirming the information for them. 

 

“Isn’t that to weird to live with him?  Doesn’t he like,”  There was a pause in which Alec was sure Jordan was taking a hit.  The coughing in his next words confirmed that.  “Like, try to make everything pink or try to, I dunno, give you makeovers?” 

This sent all three of them spiraling into intoxicated laughter. 

“Nah, he’s not like, a faggot faggot, he’s just like, I dunno, gay.”  Jace finally said once he had recovered from his laughter. 

 

Alec didn’t give a shit about how many influences Jace was under right now.  Whether it was the alcohol, the weed, or just the desire to seem macho and cool in front of his friends, nothing gave him the right to do what he was doing right now.  Alec had overheard several conversations between the friends, but they were usually about girls, some stupid drunk night out one of them had, or a rather stereotypical sounding stoner or drunk conversation.  A large chunk of the time they were just yelling at each other and the tv screen about whatever video game they were playing.  Nothing ever worth paying attention to. 

Fuck, this wasn’t worth paying attention to.  He felt furious with Jace’s friends for talking about him like this, furious with Jace for encouraging it and even joining in, and he was furious with himself for letting it upset him this much.  It wasn’t like he hadn’t heard his parents talk about him like this, whether in front of him or behind his back when they thought he was out of earshot but hearing it from Jace was different. 

 

Sleep seemed like a far-off fantasy now and Alec glanced at the clock.  It was almost 12:45am.  He knew that it would take him at least an hour to fall asleep and that was only permitting if the noise quieted down. 

Alec got off of his bed and pulled out his desk chair.  He opened up his laptop, wincing a little at the bright light that greeted him.  Alec pulled up his email and sent one to the professor that was administering the test tomorrow. 

 

Professor Warner,

Sorry to email you so late but something has come up and I’m most likely going to be unable to make it to class tomorrow.  Is there any possible way I could take the test on Thursday instead of tomorrow?  I would greatly appreciate it.  If not, would I be able to do any extra work to make up for missing the test?  Again, sorry for how late notice this it.

Thank you,

Alexander Lightwood

 

After rereading it about three times and making small edits here and there, Alec sent the email.  He was fairly confident that his professor would let him take it on Thursday.  Alec had never missed a class or was even late to one, he always turned in his assignments on time, and he currently had a 98% in the class.  Plus, the professor liked him.  Alec was fairly certain he could make up the test but if he couldn’t, he’d have to decide if it was worth taking the loss or if he should just drag himself to class on very little sleep and perform poorly on it. 

Probably the latter.  Some points would be better than no points. 

 

He felt another pang of anger towards Jace and his friends as he noted that they were making his schoolwork suffer.  He never had to ask to postpone tests or any other sort of work.  If it had been just the noise, he probably could have managed to fall asleep anyways.  But it was their stupid words and the way Alec was letting them affect him. 

Alec grabbed his noise canceling headphones off of his desk after he shut down his laptop and put them on.  He laid on his back on his bed, listening to music to drown out any more of that conversation he didn’t want to hear but he just stared at his ceiling.  He was going to have to talk to Jace tomorrow.  It wasn’t going to go well, Jace was hard enough to talk to about this sort of thing as it was and now he was going to be hungover. 

He spent almost two hours mentally trying to draft out this conversation with Jace, trying to think about the different possible outcomes and responses Jace could have and what Alec could say back to him.  It was a little after three in the morning when Alec finally took the headphones off somewhat tentatively but thank god, it sounded like Jace and his friends had finally gone to bed. 

 

It still took Alec a little longer to fall asleep and he felt like he had only just closed his eyes when his alarm went off.  He had to prepare for his professor denying his request to taking the test another day, so he had still set it to its usual 5:45am time.  Feeling like he could already barely keep his eyes open, Alec grabbed his phone, turned off the alarm, then pulled up his email account.  There was a response from his professor. 

 

yeah no problem just come to my office hours on thursday

 

Letting out a long sigh of relief, Alec reset his alarm for nine.  His next class wasn’t until 11:30 so that gave him time to get ready and talk to Jace.  It only took him about fifteen minutes to get to school but he always gave himself half an hour in case the train was running late.  So as long as he was out of here by eleven, he was fine. 

 

The next time Alec’s alarm went off, he felt much less groggy.  He turned it off and got up, starting his usual morning routine since Jace was no doubt still asleep.  Alec pushed his way into the bathroom almost cautiously but was relieved when neither Jace nor his friends were passed out on the bathroom floor. 

Alec had time to shower, get dressed, drink two cups of coffee, and even force down a little something for breakfast despite the fact his stomach was tied in knots.  Jace came trudging out of his room a little after ten, no doubt having smelled the coffee.  He went straight for it, pouring himself a cup before turning around and noticing Alec at the table.  Jace casually pulled out a chair and sat down across from him.

“Hey, morning.  Thought you had class.  Some big test or something.”  Jace said as he lifted his free hand to rub at one of his temples. 

“Got moved to Thursday.”  Alec said shortly.  He wasn’t going to tell Jace that Alec had actually moved it because of him. 

“Okay.  Hey, do we have more Tylenol?  My head is killing me.”  Jace questioned, obviously not sensing the tension radiating from Alec. 

“Top left cabinet.” 

“Thank god.”  Jace got up from the table to get it, shaking out a few pills into his hand and Alec didn’t fail to notice the way Jace just set the bottle back down on the counter instead of putting it back where it belonged.  Jace sat back down and washed two tablets down with coffee. 

 

“Big night, huh?”  Alec asked dryly and, still, Jace seemed oblivious.

“Yeah man, it was fun.  Jordan brought over this killer weed and finally broke in my new bong with it.  You totally missed out.”

“Oh, did I?”  Alec’s tone stayed flat, but he was feeling more irritated with him as it was clear Jace either didn’t remember or wasn’t going to acknowledge what had happened last night.  Jace frowned a little.

“Uh, yeah.  I know it’s not your scene, but you might’ve had fun.” 

“I actually stopped by for a few minutes.  That was plenty.” 

 

Jace set down his cup of coffee on the table with a loud thud.

“Okay dude, what is your problem?  What, did you have to clean Jordan’s puke up in the bathroom again?”

Alec grimaced with the memory of the morning he had gone into the bathroom to take a shower before class and there had been vomit on the floor and down the side of the toilet.  He had been forced to forgo his shower in order to get the mess cleaned up as best as he could before leaving for class.  He had nearly been late but if he hadn’t cleaned it up, it would have sat there all day.  That was even confirmed now by Jace’s word choice.  He hadn’t asked if it had happened again, he had asked if Alec had cleaned it up again.

 

“Do you really not remember?  You can’t think of any reason I might be mad at you?  Any at all?”  Alec asked and Jace shifted uncomfortably. 

“Clearly I can’t so if you could stop acting like a passive aggressive girlfriend and just tell me, that’d be nice.”  Jace rolled his eyes and lifted a hand to massage at his temple again.  Alec suddenly felt viciously glad that Jace had a headache. 

“You called me a faggot.”  After the words left his lips, Jace seemed to suddenly relax. 

“Oh, that’s it?  Sorry man, I was drunk.”  Jace picked up his coffee mug again, as if that half assed apology and excuse meant anything. 

“What do you mean that’s it?  You and Brad both called me it to my face, then once I left the room you guys both did it again.  I can hear you through the wall, you know.  I’ve heard your friends say it plenty of times but never you.”  Actually, he had heard Jace’s friends use just about every gay slur under the sun, not just the one in particular. 

“Dude, I’m sorry.  I was drunk.  What’s the big deal, it’s just a word.”  Jace clearly wasn’t understanding why Alec was upset and it made the whole situation all the more frustrating.

“You get that I moved out to get away from hearing shit like that, right?” 

 

By no means had Alec expected this conversation to go well, but he hadn’t expected it to go this poorly either.

“Calm down, dude.  We didn’t even mean it in a gay way.” 

“Hey isn’t your brother actually a fag?” Alec did an impression of Brad’s voice, clearly exaggerated to show his distaste for the man.  “Not to mention, when did I ever say it was okay for you to tell them that I was gay?  That’s not your business to share.”

Not bothering to address his friend’s words, Jace focused on the second part of what Alec had said. 

“I’m sorry, did you or did you not come out of the closet already?”

“Jace, you don’t get it.  I get to choose who I tell.  Some people I don’t want to know, like your shitty homophobic friends.”  He didn’t know how to explain this in a way that Jace would actually understand. 

“How the fuck am I supposed to keep track of who you’re in the closet to and who you’re openly a f- gay to.”  Jace caught himself but it was too late. 

 

The two of them sat there in silence for a long moment, both of them drinking their coffee and not looking at each other. 

 

“I really think we should go through with this whole ‘you moving out’ thing.”  Alec finally broke the silence.  “I don’t think we need the extra month to decide.”

Jace looked up at Alec, confusion flashing across his face.

“Extra month?” 

“Yeah, remember, we talked about this.  Said we were going to try it out for another month and see if we could make this work and then we could both start looking for new roommates.”

Jace was quiet for a moment and Alec suddenly felt anxious, unsure of what to expect.

“I didn’t realize we were doing that.  I actually already found a new roommate.  Jordan’s roommate is moving out on Thursday and I was planning on moving in with him this weekend.”  Jace explained and Alec stared at him.

“Sorry man, I thought we had made the decision right then and there.”  In his defense Jace did seem to be apologetic but that didn’t mean this screwed over Alec any less. 

 

“What am I supposed to do?”  Alec asked and Jace shrugged.

“Find a new roommate, I guess.  I thought you were already looking.  It can’t be that hard, it took me less than a week.”

“It is that hard when I don’t want to just go on the internet and spin the wheel and decide to start living with the first random person I see.”  If he had known Jace already had plans to move out, he would have been looking too.  There was no way he could find a roommate that quickly. 

“I guess you are pretty picky.”  Jace mumbled and Alec decided to let that one slide.

“I don’t suppose you’re going to pay your half of the last month’s rent, even though you’re conveniently moving out just a few days before it’s due.  Or pay me back any of the money you owe me?  Jesus Christ, Jace, I can’t afford this place on my own.”

“Look I told you I don’t have the money, sorry man.  I’ll pay you back when I have it.”  Jace sounded far less apologetic this time.  “I guess you should either downgrade or find a new roommate fast.” 

 

That wasn’t realistic.  Alec didn’t want to move, and it wasn’t because he didn’t want to ‘downgrade’.  It was because he was so close to both his work and school here.  He was far enough away from his parents where he’d never run into them randomly but close enough to stop by and pick up Izzy or Max to spend the day with them. 

 

“Jace you are unbelievable-“  Alec was cut off as an alarm on his phone sounded.  It was his alarm to leave for class.  Alec swore and stood up. 

“Shit.  I have class, I have to go.”  He didn’t wait for Jace’s reply before leaving. 

 

---

 

Alec rubbed face as the bright light of an almost empty text box shined brightly in his eyes.  He had gotten home from work close to ten and even though he had only gone to one class today, he was exhausted.  But he still needed to write this ad tonight.  He needed to start looking for a new roommate as soon as possible.  So far all he had done was type where his apartment building was located.  He needed to start adding actual details now.

Male, 22, looking for roommate

Two bedrooms, one bathroom.  Kitchen and living room.  Fully furnished.

Third floor.

Previous roommate is leaving with only a few days’ notice so I’m looking for someone who can move in ASAP.

I’m looking for someone who can share rent and housework 50/50 (no gender preference)

I work and go to school so I’m not home very often, I don’t play loud music or throw parties

So, if you’re looking for a peaceful, mutually respectful environment to live in, this is for you.

Please contact me for more details and we can arrange a meeting time/tour.

 

Alec stared at his screen some more, unsure if this was good enough.  He didn’t want to sound picky or like he needed quiet at all times.  Or like he was some sort of neat freak by mentioning housework, but he didn’t want to end up with someone like Jace.  As much as he needed a new roommate, a lot of the stuff he put in here was stuff that were all things that were the opposite of Jace. 

He felt like he should add more but left it as is.  Simple was probably better, right?

 

---

 

Alec got a few hits faster than he thought, but a simple Facebook search of each person’s name quickly disqualified them.  He knew he was in no place to be picky, but he couldn’t help it. 

The day after Jace moved out, Alec was getting nervous.  He was starting to consider answering one of the people he had previously discounted when a new message came in. 

 

Hey there, still looking for a roommate? 

I’m Magnus, I’m 25 and male.  I’m also looking for a roommate asap.

I clean up after myself and I promise I’m not loud.

My job keeps me busy, so I won’t be home to bother you too much either.

Let me know if you’re interested and still looking.

 

Okay, just based off of the man’s short message, Alec was already considering him.  Grabbing the man’s full name off of his username, he typed ‘Magnus Bane’ into the Facebook search bar.  And his account was private.  Alec tried to make out his profile picture but- son of a bitch.  It was one of those ones with like five different people in it, so he couldn’t make out any of them very well let alone tell which one Magnus was.  Not that it mattered, Alec just would have liked to know. 

This sounded like the best option so far and he really did need a roommate, so he might as well respond. 

 

Hi Magnus, I actually am still looking. 

Would you rather meet in person first or just go straight into having a tour of the place?

Let me know when you’re free.

Here’s my cell.

 

Alec hovered over the send button for a minute, wondering how smart it was to give this random guy his number right after inviting him to his place but, fuck it, what was the worst that could happen?