Alec blinked once in the dark and then turned over in his bed in confusion. It was a Friday and past midnight (Alec knew because he’d been looking at the clock every five minutes while he failed at falling asleep) who could possibly be trying to get his attention right now?
His door creaked open wider to reveal his sister standing in the doorway.
She was dressed in jeans and a leather jacket rather than her pajamas and that was how Alec knew that whatever she was here for couldn’t be good.
“Izzy,” he said, sitting up in bed and squinting at her in the dark, “why aren’t you asleep?”
Something Alec couldn’t quite read flicked across her face, too quickly for Alec to even be sure he saw anything before she grinned wide.
“Why would I be sleeping when I could be going on an adventure. ” She whispered conspiratorially.
Alec unconsciously darted his eyes to his still open door. Anyone could have heard them. Alec wasn’t in the mood to get in trouble yet another time.
“Izzy we can’t,” he argued stubbornly. He’d already had to take the fall for the missing weapons Izzy had decided to use without permission, he wasn’t in the mood to get berated by their parents again.
“Come on Alec, it’ll be fun. You aren’t sleeping anyway.”
Alec wanted to say no, but there was something desperate in his nine year old sister’s eyes when she looked at him. It was a look that said, plain as day, that she needed him. And Alec would never say no to that. He’d promised himself a long time ago that he was going to protect Izzy with his life. From the moment he saw her wide brown eyes stare down at him from his mother’s arms he knew she was his to protect.
“Okay fine,” he mumbled, pushing the covers off his legs and sliding off of his bed, “meet me on the roof.”
Izzy’s eyes shone so bright that it made the possibility of being caught worth it.
Alec quickly changed into dark jeans and a sweater, throwing on a gray jacket over it to protect him against the November chill.
When he made it up to the roof, Izzy was already there.
She was leaning against the rails and looking down over the edge. Her long hair blew softly in the autumn wind and he smiled.
She turned and smiled back at him, eyebrows raised.
“How is the roof an adventure?”
Alec grinned, giddiness starting to light under his skin. He wasn’t one for breaking the rules, but whenever Izzy quietly urged him in the direction he found that the it wasn’t all that bad. Could even be a little fun. Not that he’d ever admit that to her.
He pulled out his newly picked out stele. He’d only just turned twelve and got to pick out his own stele rather than using the spares and the idea of having a stele of his own was still crazy.
Izzy, who had only just recently had her rune ceremony, watched with wide eyes as he brought the stele to his arm and drew a rune onto the empty skin of his forearm.
“Surefooted,” Izzy said proudly and Alec nodded. They both watched as the gold faded into black against his skin and he smiled to himself. He could feel the tingle of the magic flooding into his veins that was slowly starting to become more and more familiar.
Izzy took the stele from his hand and went to draw the same rune on her arm. Alec watched carefully, making sure all the curves of the rune were correct as the gold burned into her skin. Izzy had dutifully studied every rune in the gray book just like every Shadowhunter in training but Alec would always be protective anyway.
When she was done she handed Alec the stele back and looked up at him. Her hand absently traced over the newly drawn rune.
“Why do we need to be sure footed?”
Alec grinned slowly at her before stepping closer to the edge of the roof.
“Because,” he said, turning back to look at Izzy over his shoulder, “we’re going roof hopping.”
Izzy’s eyes widened and lit up against the New York night. Alec felt a surge of pride swell through him at successfully surprising her.
“You want to go roof hopping?” she asked incredulously, “ You? Mr. What If We Get In Trouble?”
Alec rolled his eyes as he took a few steps away from the edge of the roof.
“What? I can be reckless.”
Izzy laughed but she looked up at him with stars in her eyes, every bit the little sister to Alec’s big brother. He’d never get tired of the way she looked at him. Like he knew the answers to all of her questions. He hoped she never stopped looking at him like that, even if he was pretty sure he didn’t have all the answers she wanted.
Alec turned to look at the ledge of the roof next to the Institute. It wasn’t too far. He’d made longer jumps before.
Izzy was standing next to him when he turned to look for her. He moved to take her hand in his and squeezed.
“Ready?” he asked, grinning when Izzy bit her lip on a smile and nodded.
They started running full speed towards the edge of the roof, jumping as they hit the edge and soaring into the air. Alec heard Izzy’s loud laugh cut through the air and grinned at the second of weightlessness before they dropped onto the second roof.
They’d both landed in a crouch, hands still clasped in one another’s.
Izzy was still laughing when she stood up and looked at Alec with unrestrained glee.
“That was awesome ,” she said breathlessly and Alec patted himself on the back for coming up with the idea. It had been awesome. The adrenaline spinning through his veins as they’d kicked off that ledge and into the air. The split second where he’d felt like he was flying. He smiled to himself.
He nodded to the next roof and smirked.
Izzy only grinned in answer.
And then they were both running at the next roof, their laughter mixing with the familiar sounds of late new york traffic and chatter.
They stopped when they reached an empty parking garage that looked over the city. The night sky was just starting to lighten and the city lights were still blinking around under them.
Izzy’s laughter was still bright and awestruck and Alec loved her so so much. He watched her sparkling eyes sweep over the skyline before turning away.
He climbed onto the ledge of the garage and let his legs dangle off the edge. The ground was at least five stories under him but he wasn’t scared of falling. He felt invincible tonight.
Izzy joined him on the ledge a moment later and they both looked up towards the sky. A thin layer of orange had curled across the it, illuminating the outline of clouds in gold. Izzy’s head fell against his shoulder and he looked down at her.
Her eyes were fluttering, brushing softly against Alec’ neck as she tried to stay awake. They’d been awake most of the night, and after a full day of training and studying before that, he didn’t blame her for being on the verge of slumber. Alec felt his own exhaustion weighing over him and yawned before laying his head on top of hers.
He was about to drift off, the steady rise and fall of Izzy’s breath against him lulling him to sleep, when Izzy broke the silence.
“You won’t forget about me right?” she asked quietly.
Alec felt his brows furrow in confusion and he lifted his head to turn and look at Izzy incredulously. Forget about her? His brilliant little sister who was no doubt on her way to being one of the smartest Shadowhunters New York had ever seen? His sister. Quite literally the only person who could make him laugh until his chest hurt. She thought he could ever forget her?
“ What? ”
Izzy shifted against him and picked her head up from his shoulder. Her eyes looked troubled when she looked up at him.
“It’s just that, the new kid, Jace. He’s coming tomorrow.”
Alec had thought about what a new addition to the family would mean ever since their parents had sat the two of them down and told them about Jace. A lot would change. He and Jace were about the same age. Only 2 years apart. They’d probably train together. Alec would have to spend huge chunks of his day with him. He didn’t know whether to be excited at the prospect of a new friend or wary at the amount of change their little routine at the Institute would have once Jace arrived tomorrow.
Apparently Izzy had been thinking about it too.
“He’s ten,” Izzy said softly, “he’s allowed to do real training with you. I just-“ she looked away suddenly and Alec felt a pang in his chest.
“Iz,” he started, placing a hand over hers when Izzy looked back at him. There was worry in her eyes and maybe just a little bit of embarrassment.
She searched his eyes and Alec tried his best to make them look a encouraging as he could. He never wanted Izzy to feel like she couldn’t tell him something.
“I don’t want to be left out.” She finally breathed out after a long moment.
Alec shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t believe Izzy actually thought anyone could take her place in his life. Alec was pretty sure it was impossible to fill Isabelle Lightwood’s shoes. If anything Alec should have been the one who was worried about Jace taking his place.
Izzy’s eyes were wide and open in the way they always were when she looked to Alec for guidance. Alec would never ever stop feeling an overwhelming surge of protectiveness at that look.
“Izzy,” he said softly, “you’ll be ten soon too and I’m not going to just abandon you.”
He bumped their shoulders together teasingly but didn’t let go of her hand.
“I don’t think this Jace kid will know how to sneak pancakes out of the cafeteria better than you.”
At that Izzy smiled and Alec internally applauded himself on victory.
She dropped her head back onto his shoulder and Alec smiled.
“And besides,” he continued, “when have rules ever stopped you?”
This time Izzy laughed, bright and familiar into the dawn. The sound set happiness alight in Alec’s chest and he pulled her closer.
Alec didn’t know how Jace would change their lives. But he did know that as long as he had Izzy by his side, they’d be just fine.