Jimonael || Shadowhunters || Malace || The Primal Instinct || Malace || Shadowhunters || Jimonael
Title: The Alphas of Jace Herondale – The Primal Instinct
Fandom: Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments
Disclaimer: All rights to the Shadowhunters show reserved to Ed Decter, the books the show is based off and its characters belong to Cassandra Clare. This fanfiction on the other hand is entirely mine. No money is made with this, though reviews are more than welcomed.
Warnings: polyamory (m/m/m), alpha/beta/omega dynamics, wingfic, wing kink, praise kink, BDSM, non sexual submission, kneeling, collar/leash, spanking, explicit intercourse, anal, oral, rimming, knotting, hurt/comfort, fluff, courting, f/f, m/f
Main Pairing: Magnus/Alec/Jace & Raphael/Simon/Jace (at the same time, in a consensual poly relationship)
Side Pairings: Lydia/Isabelle, Maia/Clary, Helen/Aline, Underhill/Lorenzo, Luke/Catarina
Shadowhunters Characters: Jonathan Christopher 'Jace' Herondale, Magnus Bane, Alexander 'Alec' Lightwood, Simon Lewis, Raphael Santiago, Isabelle 'Izzy' Lightwood, Lydia Branwell, Clarissa 'Clary' Fray, Maia Roberts, Aline Penhallow, Helen Blackthorn, Maxwell 'Max' Lightwood, Andrew Underhill, Lorenzo Rey, Madzie, Catarina Loss, Luke Garroway, Imogen Herondale
Summary: The Primal Instinct is a club owned by Raphael Santiago, where alphas and omegas can tap into their second nature, on a consensual, non-sexual level. However, lately omega regulars have been disappearing. The Institute sends their only unmated omega undercover – Jace. Raphael, Simon and Magnus are supposed to act as back-up and keep an eye on him, as members of the club.
The Primal Instinct
The Alphas of Jace Herondale
Chapter 1: A New Mission
Raphael Santiago was not necessarily a regular visitor of the New York Institute, at least not outside of the Downworlder Cabinet meetings. He rarely just wandered in, never without a reason.
So when Jace saw Raphael walk into the Institute that evening, flanked by his mate Simon, Jace trailed after them curiously. Because not even Simon Lewis was reason enough to make Raphael come here willingly usually. Simon? He was such a regular visitor here that sometimes, Jace wondered at what point the Clave would have to pay him as an employee.
"Are you stalking us, Herondale?", quipped Simon teasingly when he noticed.
"Well. The both of you coming here smells for me like a mission in the making. I'm just making sure I get first pick. It's been a bit boring since the war ended", replied Jace casually.
Which was partially true. They had taken out Valentine, then Lilith, then Jonathan over the past year and it had been draining, but somehow, he had gotten so used to the constant danger and war that now was... oddly dull. Jace regularly went to the Silent Brothers for treatment of his PTSD, caused by the possession and everything that had happened during the war. His life had such a routine now. It went back to normal, but somehow after the past one and a half years of fighting tooth and nail and being thrown from one disaster to the next, normal was somehow not... enough anymore.
Jem kept telling him that that was not the healthiest approach. That he needed to cut back on his self-sacrificing nature and that not being in constant world-ending danger was good, but... It had given Jace purpose. Right now, he felt like he didn't have any purpose anymore.
Alec was doing so well as the head of the Institute, Isabelle was focusing more on the forensics ever since she wasn't required for every single mission anymore, Clary has found her purpose and role as a liaison with the werewolves, trying to mend some bridges there ( mainly through Maia, her mate and the new Alpha of the pack), Magnus was back to being the High Warlock, even Raphael and Simon had their purpose as the mated new (and reinstalled) leaders of the New York clan.
Only Jace seemed oddly... stuck. He was just back to being a foot-soldier, going on missions, taking out minor demons, in the same old routine he was so used to. It felt so... mundane.
"What is a soldier without a war?", mused Raphael as he side-eyed Jace.
"Bored", replied Jace with a shrug.
The three of them reached the office of the head of the Institute. After knocking, they were beckoned in by Alec, finding only Alec and Magnus inside, the warlock sitting perched on the desk and Alec blushing just a little. At the very least, those two had been making out, if not more.
"Raphael. Simon. What can I do for you?", asked Alec, clearing his throat.
Raphael looked around with furrowed brows. "It's a... delicate matter. And I think I would prefer it your other better half would also be around."
"I'll go get the girls", offered Jace before Alec could even look his way.
"Thank you", nodded Alec with a small smile.
The other better half would be Alec's work-partner – the Institute was always run by two people, ideally and usually the married and mated leaders, but since Alec's mate was a Downworlder, Magnus could hardly co-head the Institute. And even if he could, he wouldn't want to; he had enough on his plate being the High Warlock of Brooklyn again.
Alec had asked Jace first, but Jace had shied away from the responsibility; just like he had when his grandmother had appointed him head the first time around. He loved being out in the field as much as he hated paperwork. That position wasn't for him at all.
And not long after Jonathan had been defeated, Lydia Branwell found her way back to New York; after she had fully recovered, she had been kept so busy in Idris, especially during Imogen's own recovery time after the Owl had nearly killed her. Now however, she was back for good. And it had been an easy call to make her Alec's co-head, considering Lydia was his sister-in-law. Though Lydia and Isabelle's marriage had started off as a political move at first, the two had quickly developed feelings for each other. And Alec and Lydia had quickly formed a strong friendship.
"Lydia. Alec needs you", called Jace out as he entered the training room. "...Unless you're busy."
Lydia turned her head to smirk at him from where she had Isabelle pinned to the ground. The two were sparring with each other, sweaty and in sports-gear. Though Jace knew from experience that it was more foreplay for them than actual training; he had walked in on the aftermath of sparring between the two women far too often at this point. At least that gave Jace a lot of teasing opportunities. Though in all honesty, Jace was happy for Isabelle. This was the first time she was in a real, good, healthy relationship. And they were actually really cute together. Lydia could fluster Isabelle and Isabelle made the usually rather stern alpha soften up and smile much more. They were good for each other. This was what Jace had always hoped Isabelle would find one day.
"I thought I had some time. Magnus dropped by for lunch", sighed Lydia.
She grabbed a towel, stretching her wings. She had impressive, soft-brown hawk wings.
Jace smiled softly as he remembered the first time they had shown their wings to Clary. Before that day, he had never truly appreciated their wings. Having wings was natural for Shadowhunters, they were born with them – a sign of their angelic heritage, a blessing from the Angel. They had been as much a natural part of his body for him as his arms and legs. But the pure awe on Clary's face when she had first seen them had shown Jace that they weren't. Not for mundanes.
"Well, Raphael and Simon seem to have... something to discuss. They want both heads of the Institute for this one", informed Jace while brushing his wings against Isabelle's.
She smiled at him as their feathers touched, before both women followed Jace toward the office. Apparently, the mention of Isabelle's two favorite vampires had spiked her interest too. Raphael and Isabelle had formed a kind of surprising friendship, while Isabelle and Simon had hit it off from the moment Simon and Clary had been dropped into their lives. She had played a key-role in getting the two alpha vampires together. Jace honestly doubted the two would have figured things out without her pushing, because Simon seemed rather oblivious to when people had feelings for him and Raphael was doing a great job hiding his feelings behind a mask of annoyance that seemingly had even fooled Raphael himself until Isabelle had sat him down and talked to him about his own feelings. Which had been a very hilarious thing to watch unfold.
"Raphael. Simon. What can the Institute do for the clan?", asked Lydia with a polite smile as soon as they entered the office. "And, excuse the outfit. Training."
"Of course", nodded Raphael before sitting down. "As you may know, I own a club."
"Really? Runs in the family, huh?", grunted Jace, jerking his head toward Magnus.
Both alphas chuckled at that though Raphael shook his head. "Not like the Pandemonium. I own the Primal Instinct. You might have heard of it."
"...The sex club?", asked Jace surprised, earning a pointed look from Alec.
"It's not a sex club", sighed Raphael, folding his hands patiently. "That's a misconception you have because you've never actually been there, mh?"
Jace shrugged, suddenly feeling a little awkward as he was the center of attention – and more so, the center of the attention of a lot of alphas. Magnus, Alec, Simon, Raphael and Lydia. Isabelle raised one curious eyebrow at him, nudging him. She was also an omega and, growing up, Jace and her had been the only omegas at the Institute in New York. Among only alphas, he had found an odd sense of comfort in her. It had been hard enough to compete with all the alphas and feeling like he wasn't enough to live up to them, working harder than all the alphas put together.
"The Primal Instinct is in fact a strictly non-sexual place", explained Raphael, not just for Jace's benefit – Lydia and Alec had never been there either. "We live in a society that has wildly evolved from the primal nature of Downworlders. We mingle with mundanes. Alphas submit at work and in society, not just in regular settings among a clan or pack, but on a daily work-base. Omegas have to step up as leaders and authority figures in the same daily work-setting. It's... straining, if it's such a regular thing. Some people manage it well, others still crave giving in to their primal instincts."
"So... what does your club do then? If it's not sex?", asked Jace, half weary and half curious.
"My members are alphas and omegas alike, who all enter willingly. There are files and regulations. Documents you have to fill out. Consent stands above all else in my club", stated Raphael rather firmly. "It's a normal club, where people get together and mingle, get to know each other and if they hit it off, if their lists of hard limits – things they are not willing to do – and interests align, they can move further from the public, casual parts of the club to the exclusive part."
"In the mundie world, we'd just call it... BDSM", offered Simon curiously. "Since the whole alpha and omega thing is... not a thing with us. But the whole principle of dominating and submitting does exist. And it's actually pretty fascinating, you know? And before I started dating Raph, I didn't even realize just how much there is that's not... sexual in nature."
Raphael smiled softly and took his mate's hand. How were those two vampires so... cute? In lack of a better word, really. The regal, calm, level-headed clan leader and his chaotic, loud Daylighter mate. They were a good fit, somehow. Opposites attract, or something like that, guessed Jace. But they really looked good together like that, he had to admit.
"And such non-sexual acts of dominance and submission are happening in the exclusive areas of the club. Everything is completely legal and consensual. That doesn't necessarily exclude sex; many of my members are couples or mated pairs who come to my club for the safety and anonymity of it. What they do at home in their bedroom is entirely up to them", continued Raphael.
"That's... all very... fascinating", stated Alec slowly. "But why are you here now, unless you just came to recruit us as new members for your club?"
"That seems untypical. And some of us already have a membership", hummed Magnus, getting side-eyed. "What? I had centuries of life before I met you, Alexander. I've not gone to the club since we got together, but I used to frequent it. It's a respected establishment and the service it provides is very... honestly, it's quite relaxing, considering how straining life can be."
Alec raised both of his eyebrows at that, though honestly Jace was kind of surprised too. He hadn't expected that. Then again, he seemed to have some misconceptions on the nature of the club? He had kind of assumed it was a club where alphas went to have sex with omegas who worked there. There were plenty of those kind of clubs and they made Jace very uncomfortable.
"None of my employees are alphas or omegas. I exclusively employ mundies, since they are not influenced by alpha and omega hormones, don't even know of us. Employees have to sign agreements that exclude them from using the club. I don't want there to be any confusion and every member knows they have nothing to expect from my employees beyond their job. Any unwanted attention and pushing of boundaries is strictly forbidden. We work on a three strike base. Minor misbehavior is a strike, after three you will be banned from the club. Bigger mistakes count as two strikes. And someone clearly doing something non-consensual will immediately be banned."
"Again, that is very interesting, but...", drawled Alec, tapping his pen.
"Lately, omega members have been disappearing", stated Raphael, suddenly very serious. "At first, I didn't question it. It's not a membership for life. Especially unmated guests tend to stop visiting once they find a partner or mate of their own, some people do prefer the privacy of home, once they have a partner they trust. We keep a member list, of course. And lately, I noticed that it's mainly unmated omegas who have stopped returning to the club, without a note. A few wouldn't be unusual, but the difference between omegas dropping out and alphas dropping out has grown."
"What are you suggesting?", asked Lydia, a serious frown on her face.
"I think that someone has been using my club to target omegas and...", started Raphael before he paused. "I can't tell. Whether it's a serial killer, or human trafficking, but I am at this point very sure that something is happening to them and that my club is being used for it."
"You want us to investigate", nodded Alec, the pen now tightly held in his hand.
Someone targeting omegas always made Alec particularly tense. Jace knew that was about him. This time around too; Alec was intensely staring at Jace while grasping his pen. He just couldn't help it, whenever an attack was aimed at omegas, Alec thought of it hitting Jace. And while it annoyed Jace mildly because Jace was more than capable of defending himself, he also understood it. Jace was Alec's parabatai, one of the few omegas he was close to. Of course did Alec worry.
"What did you have in mind?", asked Lydia, figuring Raphael hadn't come without a plan.
"I was thinking that perhaps, you could send someone undercover as a member in my club. An omega", replied Raphael calmly. "Me and Simon would keep an eye on them. They'd have the necessary training to defend themselves, maybe find who is doing this, one way or the other – be that by finding the person responsible or by bonding with the other omegas at the club and getting information out of them that I, as the owner, wouldn't be able to."
Alec nodded, before frowning. His frown deepened. And deepened. Jace knew where this was going and he didn't like it one bit. Lydia, so far, just looked thoughtful, not as intimately familiar with the Shadowhunters working for the New York Institute as Alec who has spent all his life here and had every single new Shadowhunter welcomed personally since he became head, even before Lydia had moved back to New York. Jace crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, away from them.
"No", grunted Jace firmly and shook his head. "No way, Alec."
"Jace", sighed Alec softly. "You know I'm literally the last person who would send you anywhere on your own. But Jace, this sounds like a serious case."
"Can't you send someone else aside from the puppy?", inquired Magnus with an actually concerned frown, earning confused looks from Simon and Raphael. "Jace is not too... in touch with his inner omega, so to speak. The club might not necessarily be something that makes him feel safe."
Jace paused and stared at Magnus in mild surprise. That was honestly touching. Jace had shared some of the things weighting him down with Magnus over drinks, back when he had still been living at the loft. Still, that Magnus cared that much about his comfort...
"There is no one else", replied Alec flatly. "There aren't that many omegas here in New York. Generally... there aren't many active duty omegas; most are in politics. And... Jace is the only unmated omega we have. If what Raphael suspects is true, then they are targeting unmated omegas to abduct them without raising too much suspicion. Jace is the only unmated omega available."
"...Oh", grunted Simon surprised, staring at Jace with raised eyebrows.
"Yeah. Shadowhunters, we do things... differently. Omegas are usually leaders – most of the council are omegas, my grandmother the Inquisitor is an omega. Alphas are soldiers", replied Jace with a shrug, shifting around a little bit. "There are currently only four omegas in New York, because omegas don't do active duty. So... yeah. Only unmated omega around right here."
He smiled sarcastically and waved at the vampires. Like he needed the reminder. He knew Imogen wanted him to take on a political career – it was why she had made him the head of the Institute when she had been here, because she wanted that for him. While it was by now allowed for omegas to become soldiers, it was still incredibly rare and it was also generally frowned upon.
"It's why I don't do being an omega", continued Jace with an annoyed glare on his face. "Valentine raised me to be a soldier, despite my omega-nature. I've been on suppressants all my life. I've been working hard to not act like an omega. I'm not gonna go to some club to play obedient omega."
There was a stretch of silence. And while no one talked, Jace still noticed that Raphael and Magnus were exchanging meaningful looks. It figured they'd have their own way of communicating, they knew each other for so long – Jace knew what Raphael meant to Magnus, that he was the son Magnus had never gotten to have due to the warlocks' infertility.
Jace squared his shoulders, knowing what'd come next. They were going to judge him for it. Push that he should do it, maybe even poke a little fun considering Jace had literally followed them here because he had wanted a mission. So why not take this one? The great Shadowhunter, backing out of a mission because he couldn't handle being an omega, huh? It was pathetic, he knew that.
"Very well", sighed Raphael. "I'm sure we can find a different angle to work."
"...What?", asked Jace, honestly confused.
Raphael cocked an eyebrow at him. "The pillars of my club are consent and respecting boundaries. If this puts you into a situation you're not comfortable with, then my club is not for you. I'm not going to push you into a situation that makes you uncomfortable like that."
Jace continued staring at Raphael in utter confusion. This club... sounded weird. And nothing like what he had expected it to be, to be quite honest. He shifted a little, suddenly unsure.
"We could try sending an alpha", sighed Lydia with a frown. "With a little luck, they could find an in with... whoever does this, though I think we all assume the person we're looking for is an alpha. And... a potential new target would be less suspicious than an alpha getting chummy."
"We'd just have to pick an alpha who could actually do that", offered Isabelle thoughtfully. "Someone who won't arise suspicion. Helen could be a good pick, especially as a Downworlder."
"If I were a crazy alpha kidnapping omegas, I don't think I would become best buds with a stranger alpha and share my secrets with them", pointed Simon out.
"Not helpful, Lewis", grunted Alec annoyed.
"How many?", asked Jace. "How many do you suspect were taken so far?"
For a moment, Raphael looked reluctant before he sighed. "I am not a hundred percent sure. Some of them might have simply left. There is a regular drop-off."
"How many, Raphael?", asked Jace with an edge of impatience in his voice.
"Thirteen, over the past half year", admitted Raphael. "Thirteen, who have not personally ended their membership and simply didn't return at all."
Jace took a deep, slow breath, tuning out how the others started to try and make a plan up that might perhaps with good will and an idiot criminal work. The guy abducted around thirteen omegas, without anyone being alerted. Whoever they were, they were not an idiot. They weren't just going to spill their secrets to a stranger. The best in really was an omega to pose as an absolutely innocent, perfect victim. And then kick the alpha's ass and throw him in the Guard.
"I could go and... check it out. Read through that contract whatever stuff you have going on. If it... you know... I can still change my mind. Maybe it's not that bad and I can pull it off", grunted Jace.
Suddenly, there was silence again. Simon and Magnus were staring genuinely surprised at him, Alec looked like he was not a fan and Isabelle seemed really worried about him. Wonderful.
"Of course", nodded Raphael with a sober expression on his face. "I will personally go through everything with you and if something is going to set any alarm bells off with you, we figure out something else. But I assure you that my club is safe."
"Well, aside from the kidnappings-", offered Simon before audibly closing his mouth.
Raphael rolled his eyes at his mate, though it was more fond than annoyed.
"Hard limits and soft limits?", read Jace doubtfully, looking at the paper.
"Things you are absolutely not willing to do, things you would be able to consider", explained Raphael. "Put your crosses on everything you definitely know you don't want."
"I don't want to do anything with a stranger", snorted Jace pointedly.
"You won't have to do anything, much less with a stranger", assured Raphael.
Though he paused and decided for a different approach there. He could smell how uncomfortable Jace was, could see the tenseness. Everything about this situation set him on edge and that wasn't needed. The alpha inside Raphael didn't like seeing the omega this uncomfortable. He generally didn't like seeing anyone this uncomfortable in his club, because it went against what Raphael had opened this club for. With a reassuring smile did Raphael get up.
"Why don't I show you around first?", suggested Raphael, voice gentle.
Jace looked doubtful though he also stood and then followed Raphael outside. He trailed after Raphael, his eyes wide with curiosity as he looked around. Raphael was proud of his club, it was high-class. It was designed to impress. Still there was an odd sense of pride there when he watched how Jace admired the club. He rested a hand on Jace's shoulder to get his attention and guide him to the next room. It was still early in the day, so there was not much going on yet.
"This is the bar. Just to... drink, get to talk to people. Nothing of any D/s nature is happening here. Just drinking, eating, dancing and fun. Some people don't even move further to the backrooms, some people just want to drink with others in the same... mindset as them."
"Okay. Drinking I can do", hummed Jace. "What's the backrooms?"
The smile on Raphael's lips was amused as they walked toward the large doors. "Once you... found someone here with whom you hit it off, sat down at one of the booths and talked about your limits, safewords, made sure everything is in order and you're on the same page, you can go here. This is the backroom, where alphas and omegas can enjoy giving in to their nature. Either in... more private booths, or in open public. Many enjoy that, as long as it its among this crowd of participants who are aware of what they are going to witness and be a part of. Relax. No one here is going to touch you without your consent, Jace. And I'm simply showing you what there is."
Jace stiffened up again as they saw some of the members – an omega kneeling beside his alpha who held his leash, another omega bent over a table and getting spanked by her alpha. Carefully, Raphael slipped his hand from Jace's shoulder to his neck, resting it there in a calming manner. Surprisingly that was actually working, Jace seemed to relax in his hold and lean into it. Even if the blonde was in denial of his omega instincts, apparently he still did have some... desires to lean into them. Raphael couldn't help but smirk to himself at that.
"You won't have to go here. If you choose to, it is your decision with whom. And it is entirely up to you what you're going to do here", assured Raphael, voice low. "I meant it when I told you that consent is at the heart of this club. Without it, this would simply devolve into one of countless brothels. This? This is a place for everyone. For alphas and omegas alike, to feel safe and to find what they want and desire. Nothing more, nothing less."
"...Sure", nodded Jace, looking not at all sure.
"You can change your mind at any point", promised Raphael. "And if you get uncomfortable with anything, my staff is not just working here as waiters and barkeepers. There is security too, everywhere. Alphas who can intervene, in case any members overstep."
Jace nodded, even though he still looked unconvinced. "Let's go back to your office and get through those papers so we can get this whole thing over with."
Raphael smiled to himself as he led Jace back to his office. This was potentially a bad idea. Jace was so compliant, trusting Raphael instantly and letting him guide the omega. He was gorgeous, that was something Raphael had noticed before – the lean muscles, sun-kissed skin, golden-blonde hair framing his pretty face and those large, mighty, white wings. Raphael had also never quite noticed how... short Jace was. He had noticed it in relation to other people (had seen Jace get on his toe-tips to hug Alec, had seen him glare up at Magnus, had seen it when Simon and Jace bantered with each other), but he had never noticed it that much himself how Jace seemed to have the perfect height to be tucked under one's chin in a protective manner. Interesting.
"I'm right here to explain everything you don't understand. We're only going to file those once you're fully satisfied with this", stated Raphael as he handed the paper back to Jace.
Jace curled up on the chair – rather literally so, pulling his legs up and leaning forward in a rather endearing manner. Raphael had to smile a little at that, watching how Jace read and waiting readily to explain any terms that Jace didn't understand. Though mostly, Jace just huffed or made little, surprised noises while reading through it.
"You... don't seem to have a lot of questions", noted Raphael casually after a while.
"I mean, most this stuff I either tried before or the name is really very on the nose and I get what it means", grunted Jace with a shrug, making another cross. "I never... thought about how all of that actually doesn't have to include sex. Huh."
"That's why I opened the club", elaborated Raphael. "I'm asexual. But I still enjoy the... dominant side of being an alpha. Most omegas however expect... more than just being dominated. They also expect sex. I opened this club to give alphas and omegas the dominance and submission they seek without any strings attached – no expectations for sex or relationships."
"And Simon's okay with this?", asked Jace doubtfully, looking up.
"Simon and I are very open about this, yes", confirmed Raphael. "We... love each other, but there are certain things we want we can't give each other. We come to the club together occasionally to pick someone up, for a night in the backrooms."
"...Okay", nodded Jace curiously.
Raphael frowned as he watched Jace closely. He seemed more relaxed by now, but Raphael still had a feeling that this entire situation was going to push Jace toward his limit. He was like a doe-eyed fawn exploring the forest and if the wolves came, he'd be done for. Raphael wanted to tell himself that he was concerned for the success of the mission, but he knew it was also because he was an alpha and Jace was an omega – and a huge part of why Raphael had started this club was for omegas and alphas alike to be safe and to find something they'd want. Making anyone uncomfortable with what this club stood for went against everything Raphael wanted. However, Raphael had an idea that might help both the case and Jace.
So when I reached this point in the story, I realized that this would turn into the longest oneshot I ever did, to a ridiculous extend. Which made me decide to cut it up into chapters. Brace yourselves, this is going to be quite the slow-burn. And the BDSM will, at first, also only be non-sexual. Though later, much later, in the story, there will also be sex (with, you know, everyone but Raph).
Lastly, a short summary of the canon I changed - because while changes can be described in the story, "so this didn't happen at all" can't find a natural way into a fic:
1. Imogen didn't die because Jace would, if the writers had half cared about being realistic, never recover from it.
2. The show happens over the span of nearly two years, each season taking about half a year instead of the canon 3 months total for all three seasons.
3. As said, Isabelle is the one who got married to Lydia, so the Lydia/Alec wedding never happened.
4. Quite obviously is Raphael still a vampire; he never experimented on Heidi and never got banished and experimented on.
5. No memory loss for Clary, this takes place weeks after the Malec wedding but they defeated Jonathan without Clary creating a special wing-hug-rune and getting her memories wiped. That whole thing was stupid and inconsequential anyway since in the year later she just remembered without exploding her head or anything. The show could have as well just *not* done this at all either.
Chapter 2: Partners in Crime(-Fighting)
Alec raised an eyebrow when someone knocked on the door. The day had been long and exhausting and he was just laying on the couch, relaxing with his husband and mate. No one ought to disturb him at this time of day when he had Magnus all to himself. Getting up, he stretched his wings – large snow-owl wings. With a glare on his face, he went to open the door.
"Raphael. Simon. Did I... miss that we had plans?", asked Alec.
He had been spending more time with Simon than he ever meant to, mainly so because Simon was Raphael's mate and Alec was Magnus' mate – and Raphael was Magnus' son by anything but blood. Which meant Raphael was Magnus' family, which meant... Raphael was family to Alec. And with Raphael, he actually got along very well, surprisingly enough. They were both more strategists and thinkers. Simon, he still annoyed Alec most of the time, but he had gotten oddly used to the Daylighter. Which was a good thing, probably, considering Simon had become a very permanent part of Alec's life, between being Raphael's mate and Isabelle's friend.
"We don't have plans, but there was something we thought we should talk about", offered Raphael with a polite smile. "...If we are not bothering you?"
"No. It's fine", grunted Alec and stepped aside. "Magnus, it's Raphael and Simon."
"What a pleasant surprise! What can we do for you?", asked Magnus, summoning cocktails.
He handed one to Simon and one to Raphael before pulling Alec close. Magnus rested his hands between Alec's wings, massaging a little. Alec made a small, pleased sound and relaxed against him because oh this was good. His wings were large and heavy and after a whole day of working, it was so nice to have his mate's soothing touch on him.
"What do you want to talk about?", asked Alec, leaning heavily into Magnus.
"About... Jace. And the mission", offered Raphael, sipping his drink.
"Yes?", asked Alec, suddenly sitting up straight and fixing Raphael with a look.
"We registered him as a member and sorted through his limits together", elaborated Raphael.
If possible, Alec stiffened some more. Only in a different region. The thought of Jace, of Jace's limits like that... Oh, oh Alec truly had never managed to get over Jace. Jace had been his first love and for a long time, Alec had thought that Jace could be his omega. But he had never been brave enough. To be quite honest, Alec had been scared. And he hadn't wanted to chase Jace away, because Jace meant the world to him. And then, then Magnus had come and Alec had been charmed and suddenly, he found himself brave. Maybe because Magnus was a stranger, there was nothing to ruin there, nothing to lose. It was safe, ridiculously enough considering Magnus was a fellow alpha and even more so, a Downworlder. He had really gone hard on the "unconventional relationships the Clave disapproved of" list.
"Raph thinks it's not a good idea to send Jace alone", tagged Simon on, bouncing one foot in a nervous habit and holding Raphael's hand. "And I think I agree with him, that's... Jace doesn't really have experiences being an omega. I know that from Clary, she said it was helpful having someone else who doesn't really know how to be an omega, but... over time, she told me she was a bit worried because Jace seemed to try and ignore many of his instincts and all."
"Yes", sighed Alec, running his hands over his face. "He... Omegas are... not soldiers, not normally, so he always figured he had to suppress his nature to become a soldier."
"That's why I think leaving him with strangers is not the best idea", stated Raphael. "He was very nervous and... anxious about it. I had hoped he might relax and find it interesting from the get-go, but like this, I don't think putting him out there is a good idea. He is a gorgeous omega, don't get me wrong – he makes an eye-catching bait, but if he radiates this nervous energy, the one we're trying to catch it going to suspect something fishy and not bite."
"He probably will", sighed Alec, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "If this were about sex, I don't think he'd have any problem flirting up someone. But... What do you suggest, Raphael?"
"That an alpha comes with him. Not with him, pretending to be a couple, but pretending to be a stranger chatting him up. ...Showing him off, so to speak. Someone he feels safe with", elaborated Raphael. "To ease him into the club and help him make the best first impression."
"That sounds... reasonable", agreed Alec. "I'm calling him."
"Oh, nonsense. I'm going to get him", chided Magnus and opened up a portal. "...Oh."
"Seriously, Bane, doors exist for a reason! Don't just open portals into people's rooms!"
Magnus, Alec, Raphael and Simon stared at the half-naked omega on the other side of the portal. Jace's hair was wet and clinging to his face, water running down his well-defined torso, along his runes. The only thing he was wearing was a towel around his waist.
"J... Jace! I am so sorry", sputtered Alec embarrassed, cheeks dark.
"I'm not that sorry, but... if you could give me a ring once you're dressed?", suggested Magnus.
The next couple minutes were spent in awkward silence. Simon looked as though he would be blushing would he not be a vampire. Raphael slowly sipped his wine – he preferred that over the cocktails Magnus usually offered – with a thoughtful expression on his face. The same thoughtful expression he would wear when staring at a particularly appealing peace of art. Appreciation.
When Magnus' phone rang, flashing up a photo of Jace pouting with a kitten perched on his head (Simon started laughing softly as he saw it), Magnus opened the portal again. A very unimpressed looking Jace stepped through it, glaring pointedly at Magnus.
"Aw, such a shame, you got dressed", sighed Magnus with an exaggerated pout.
"I swear, the only reason you ever let me live with you was so you could leer at me", muttered Jace and rolled his eyes. "Why is your husband such a pervert, Alec?"
"I never did anything inappropriate and I am hurt by this accusation", huffed Magnus.
"...You literally watched me train, sitting there with popcorn", grunted Jace.
"Fair point, fair point", agreed Magnus. "That's on you. I'm just a weak man, if you put up such a show on my balcony, you can't expect me not to look. I'm a man of good taste."
"So, your husband and your parabatai, are they always flirting?", asked Simon curiously.
"...I have no idea what they are doing, but they started being like this in the months Jace lived here", grunted Alec. "It was really bad during the time, you know. I'm pretty sure they do it to torture me."
Magnus and Jace turned to grin in fake innocence at that. Alec heaved a sigh and rubbed his eyes. He knew very well why Magnus was doing what he was doing. Because Magnus knew that Alec was still in love with Jace – had assured Alec about how it was okay to be polyamorous (there was a word for it, for loving both Jace and Magnus, he wasn't just using Magnus as a distraction, his feelings for Magnus were just as real as his feelings for Jace!). And while at first, Magnus had been convinced he could make Alec fall for him and fall out of love with Jace, when Magnus had realized that Alec loved them both and wouldn't stop loving Jace, Magnus had found a different... approach. It had started when Jace had been kicked out of the Institute by Aldertree and moved in with Magnus, when Alec and Magnus had already been dating for half a year. They had already been rather secure in their relationship and Magnus had apparently been adamant to make him happy. So Magnus figured – two alphas dating, why not add an omega to their bond?
Only then everything had kind of... escalated. Jace's heritage, being a Herondale, his mental illness, his death followed by his possession, Magnus giving up his magic to save Jace – and at that moment, Alec realized that over those months, it had become far more than a fun idea for Magnus, Magnus had developed feelings for Jace too. They had only defeated Lilith and Jonathan for good a few short weeks ago and Jace was still recovering. So was Magnus, in his own way, because losing his magic had been very traumatizing for him and over the suffering of the past year, Magnus had slipped into alcoholism that he was now working on controlling; cocktails were strictly non-alcohol.
Alec wasn't sure, but perhaps, once a little more time had passed and both Jace and Magnus were better, maybe they could truly consider... courting Jace. But those were not thoughts for right now.
"Raphael had an idea, concerning the mission", stated Alec to bring focus to the conversation.
"Okay?", grunted Jace warily, sitting down on the couch. "What is it?"
"I don't think you're... comfortable about any of this and if you were sent into the club alone to charm an alpha, you... will certainly charm them, however they might get suspicious when you have no idea what you're doing", offered Raphael. "And while we're trying to sell you as a newbie who is getting used to his omega-side, we don't want to raise suspicion."
"So, what?", asked Jace with a frown.
"Raph was thinking of sending an alpha along and I agree", offered Simon. "It's like... you need backup. You don't go solo on missions either, after all! So if an alpha would like go with you and you'd be able to rely on them keeping an eye on you, it'd be safer. Also, to, uh... well, show you off. You know, like, gaining the attention of the perp by seeing you with a 'random alpha' and then they might approach you, thinking 'hey, look at that gorgeous omega! Saw him pick a random alpha last week, I could totally abduct him and add him to my collection, muhahahaha'."
"...You could have dropped the villainous laughter, Simon", sighed Jace and shook his head. "Okay, yeah, I guess... you got a point. Me, doing... whatever... with someone I trust is more likely to gain their attention. So... Alec...?"
He turned to look at his parabatai from beneath his lashes and Alec died a little on the inside. He always did when Jace looked at him like that, because Alec was weak. Which was part of why it was a horrible idea for him to go with Jace. He might not actually survive having Jace... submit to him. At the same time, it did things to him that made him feel dizzy that Jace truly would trust him to do this with. Alec leaned back in his seat, trying to calm down.
"Alec is a bad choice", pointed Raphael out gravely. "He's the head of the Institute. That will definitely raise all the alarm bells. Not to mention your parabatai-bond. It might just... rather make them shy away from you, Jace. So, no, with Alec, we could most likely forget the whole thing."
"...Fair point", muttered Jace and ran his hands over his face.
"So... you... should pick at least one different alpha to, uh, go with you", offered Simon.
"...At least?", echoed Jace, raising one eyebrow.
"I mean, making you look really popular would definitely draw attention. I checked who went missing and – I like socializing with the members, you know, as the mate of the owner", explained Simon, gesturing a little. "And they all, they were unattached. They didn't have regular partners. Many of our guests do have regular partners, like at first they, uh, try out a bit as they go to find someone who fits but once the chemistry is there, well, they tend to stick to the regulars. But a regular partner might report you missing when you get abducted, right? So these? They were all still very new to the club, only going for a couple weeks and still on the fly from one to the other. So you posing with only one alpha might look too much like you have a fixed partner."
"I'll go through all our alphas and make you a short-list by tomorrow noon", sighed Alec.
"What about you guys?", asked Jace with a frown, looking next to Alec.
There was a stretch of silence in which not just Alec had to let that sink in. He slowly turned to look to his right – at Magnus, Simon and Raphael – and then back to his parabatai. His parabatai, who didn't trust easily. His parabatai, who had only ever trusted him and Isabelle.
"What? I'm certainly not taking Raj with me", snorted Jace and rolled his eyes. "Not to mention, don't you think multiple Shadowhunters signing up at the same time would be... suspicious? Simon just said he's hanging out at the club a lot anyway. Magnus already admitted he has a membership."
"...That is all quite true", conceded Raphael, nodding cautiously. "But..."
"Right. You're all happily mated so it's probably a bad idea", sighed Jace, waving a hand.
"No. I mean, we are happily mated", agreed Raphael with a serious look on his face. "What I mean is... Would you actually trust them enough to... do this?"
"Look", sighed Jace pointedly. "I may not trust you as much as Alec, but I sure as shit trust you more than most other Shadowhunters at the Institute. We've been working together for nearly two years now. I trust you guys with my life on missions, why not trust you with this? Definitely more than just some stranger. Gotta admit, that... did scare me. A little. Don't be smug, Lewis."
"I'm not being smug, it's just... rare for you to admit you're scared of... anything", countered Simon. "And you admitted that you'd prefer my company to being scared."
"That is not what I said", grunted Jace with a glare.
"It kind of is", argued Simon with a slightly smug grin.
Magnus stood and walked over to Jace. Alec's eyes were burning into the back of his husband's neck. What was Magnus going to do? Going to say? Could Alec actually trust him not to do something horrendously inappropriate that was going to kill Alec off early...?
"Are you sure about this, my little Shadowhunter?", asked Magnus curiously.
He reached down, curling his fingers beneath Jace's chin and tilting his head up, making Jace look up at Magnus. Even more so than usual. Oh. Oh, Alec loved the height-difference between Jace and himself, but Magnus – Magnus loomed over Jace, he was taller than Alec and thus made Jace look so... sweet and small. It played into it that Magnus liked to call Jace the little Shadowhunter.
"I...", started Jace and gulped, very visibly making his Adam's apple bop.
"You have to speak up, Jace", prompted Magnus firmly.
"Yes", stated Jace, trying to sound as certain as possible.
"Are you quite sure that you'll be fine listening to us? To our command? Being obedient there? Trusting us, to lean into us and allow us to guide you and have your back?", asked Magnus.
"Yes", replied Jace with no hesitation, a breathy sound as he held eye-contact with Magnus. "Of course do I trust you, Magnus. You went to hell and gave up your magic to save my life. Of course do I trust you, how could I not?"
Alec saw it, because he knew his husband and he was also watching very closely. For a moment, Magnus' eyes widened in genuine surprise, then his lip twitched in what was a very satisfied expression. It had only been a split-second, but Alec saw it. He knew Magnus wanted Jace. He knew it had started off for Alec's sake, but Alec knew along the way, Magnus had fallen in love with Jace. That was indeed why Magnus had went to Edom and given up everything to save Jace.
"Good boy", praised Magnus lightly, maybe a bit jokingly.
The broken, little whimper that it earned him from Jace however – that was not a joke. Alec choked on air when he heard the sound. It went straight to his cock. Raphael and Simon both raised their eyebrows for a moment and Magnus' eyes flashed golden and interested.
"You'll do fine", stated Magnus at that, gently patting Jace. "If you'll listen to us, we're going to be fine and you are sure to catch... a lot of attention at the club."
Jace looked doubtful at that but nodded. Raphael made a thoughtful sound, gaining his attention.
"You will be fine, Jace. However, I'd like for you to go shopping with Isabelle tomorrow morning, before you come to the club as a guest for the first time."
There was a cute frown on Jace's face when Raphael. "...What."
"Go with Isabelle. She knows what clothes will fit to the club and she has the best taste", stated Raphael.
"Wait. Why does she know what fits for the club?", pointed Jace out, unsure where he was going.
"Some of my omega members do enjoy submitting to another omega. It gives them a particular... kick. And Isabelle used to come in regularly, before she got married. Your sister however knows how to wield a whip on and off missions", replied Raphael, causing Alec and Jace to groan.
"This didn't need to be said", muttered Alec frustrated.
After that, conversation quieted down and the five of them simply enjoyed their drinks together. Jace sat curled up against Alec, pleasantly buzzed (Alec could feel that through the bond. Whenever Jace was tipsy, he lowered his guard. He had been... trying to, honestly, Alec wasn't sure if it was to protect himself or Alec, but he tried to suppress all the pain the possession had put him through. So Alec was always glad when Jace would share with him again, fully).
"Hey", whispered Alec softly, wrapping an arm around Jace's neck to caress his cheek from the other side. "How are you feeling? You look really tired, parabatai."
Jace tilted his head back a little to smile up at him sleepily while nuzzling into his hand, killing Alec just a tiny bit on the inside. "M fine, parabatai. Been a long day."
"...How long is long in Jace-time, because if you are ready to admit it was long-", started Simon.
He was snuggled up against Raphael on the couch opposite of them, Simon seemingly just relaxing and enjoying the cuddling and the cocktail while Raphael was engaged in a conversation with Magnus, who sat in the arm-chair between the two couches.
"Mh... Alec dragged me outta bed to send me on a mission with Isabelle...", drawled Jace.
"...Jace. Jace, that was yesterday", stated Alec, making a miserable noise. "That wasn't even today. Oh, and I was so pleased that you followed Raphael and Simon this morning like 'oh he is already awake and I won't have to wake him'. But you never... went to sleep. Again."
"Mh", hummed Jace and closed his eyes, nuzzling into Alec's hand even more. "Don't fuss. It's fine. Mission ran long and when I was on my way to my room, I ran into Simon and Raphael..."
"Wait, that was after a night without sleep?", asked Simon, making a similar sound as Alec.
Jace frowned at that. "What's with that sound? Is that an alpha-thing?"
"It's more of a... Jace-related thing", muttered Magnus with a sigh. "Why did you not sleep?"
"I just said. Mission with Iz and Aline ran late", grumbled Jace.
He raised one wing to cover himself from the judgmental looks from the four alphas in the room. Alec heaved a sigh, gently running his fingers though Jace's feathers to sooth him. Jace hummed contently and snuggled closer to him, covering himself fully with his wing like it was a blanket. Alec added his own wing on top of it, knowing Alec's wings always made Jace feel safest.
"You said that like it's a regular thing", noted Raphael, voice even and low to not wake Jace.
"The not sleeping. Is it a regular thing?", asked Simon, slightly more agitated than his mate.
"Ever since the Owl", sighed Alec and shook his head. "He's been going to therapy, mundie group-meetings for people with PTSD thanks to you Simon, but... What he went through during those months of possession. The guilt over the people who had died at his hand and... me and his grandmother, he nearly killed two of the most important people in his life. And regardless of how often we tell him that we know it wasn't him... it doesn't change what he remembers. He remembers it all and he has nightmares about it still."
"...Oh", whispered Simon, looking absolutely crestfallen. "I didn't know he still remembers all of it. That must... That must be awful. I get why he would rather not sleep than have those nightmares."
Magnus got up to walk toward a cabinet and return with a small glass vial. "I've been mixing something that helps sooth him. I already did that for him during the months he lived here, when his nightmares were... about different things."
"When he had been abducted by his not-father and... tortured", muttered Simon, if possible looking even more like a kicked puppy-dog now. "Wow, life has really beaten him down, hasn't it?"
Alec nodded, remembering. Remembering it all. All the nightmares Jace used to have as a child, about the traumatic experience of seeing his father murdered in front of his eyes, about all of the abuse he had suffered. Then, with Valentine's return, the abduction and torture, the mental turmoil everything about the war had thrust him into, the possession of the Owl.
"I just...", started Alec, voice a little shaky. "I just need him to be safe and happy. I need that."
"Of course you do. He's your parabatai, that's like... like soulmates, right?", huffed Simon, gesturing a little bit. "I still don't really understand it, but it's like he's literally an extension of your own soul, in someone else's body and that must be really... wow."
"Mh, that sums it up well", chuckled Magnus dryly.
He walked over to Alec and Jace, spreading a little of the blue tincture on his fingers before reaching out to Jace's neck. Carefully pushing Jace's hair out of his neck to then massage the blue tincture onto the omega's skin. Heaving a content sigh in his sleep, Jace cuddled even more up to Alec. Magnus smiled softly as he watched that, caressing Jace's hair a bit as he was done.
"It soothes him", supplied Magnus. "I've been perfecting it some over the past months and it helps, but usually he doesn't come to me to ask for it because he doesn't like admitting that he's still not doing a hundred percent well, you know."
"Oh, I know that", huffed Simon with a concerned frown. "I remember, when... when Jonathan was reanimated and abducted Clary and we... He was busy being so strong for her and pushing her to seek help... He acted like nothing had ever happened to him."
That made Alec frown. He knew that, he knew how much Jace had tried to play strong and ignore his own trauma for Clary's sake in the beginning. Only after Jonathan had been defeated did Jace finally allow himself to break down and then to seek help. Alec tightened his arm around Jace, pulling him closer and burying his nose in the golden-blonde hair.
"I think this will be good for him", offered Raphael after a moment.
"What? An undercover solo mission into uncharted territory?", snorted Alec sarcastically.
"The club itself", explained Raphael, shaking his head a little. "And he will not be alone. Me, Simon and Magnus are going to keep an eye on him, make sure he stays safe, Alec. But I do think that, once he relaxes in the environment, it'll... help him."
"All I can see is it making him uncomfortable", argued Alec tensely.
"No", disagreed Raphael calmly. "Earlier, at the club, I saw something. And when Magnus called him a 'good boy'? You heard the sound he made. There surely are omegas who are not inclined to be submissive and who would be uncomfortable and not appreciate the club, but I have a feeling – a feeling based on years of experience – that Jace very much is submissive in nature. He simply doesn't allow himself to be so."
That one took longer for Alec to digest, because deep down, he knew Raphael was right. Jace liked to challenge authority, but he also enjoyed falling in line. He could be so compliant, if he wanted to be. It was simply something Alec didn't usually allow himself to think on because it was going to completely ruin him. The thought of what Jace might be like when he'd submit to him-
"Alexander, if you hug him any closer, you might just break something", noted Magnus amused.
"Right. Sorry. Just... thoughts", muttered Alec and loosened his grip on Jace some.
"This is going to be... a wild ride", stated Simon curiously.
Jace woke up when something tickled his nose. His eyelids fluttered open and the first thing he saw... was a cat butt. He huffed, trying to get the cat-fur out of his nose. Rolling onto his side, he saw that two furred fiends had found their way into his room. Looking around, he noticed that yes, this was his room – but not his current room. Not his room at the Institute. This was his room at the loft. Magnus Bane's loft. He was a little touched that Magnus had left it unchanged even after Jace had moved out; occasionally, Jace still found himself crashing here, after a long mission, or simply a long evening of spending time with his parabatai and his parabatai's husband.
Right. He had gone over to Magnus' to talk about the mission yesterday and there had been drinks and at one point, he must have fallen asleep. He sometimes did that when he got the chance to cuddle up to his parabatai. Alec was safe and safe helped him sleep.
Yawning, he stretched himself and his wings, accidentally knocking a cat off the bed. When he sat up, he turned to look around a little. It really was all still the way he had left it. Only that the things he had taken with him – books, in particular – were here too. Magnus had either used magic or actually bought them, just so Jace would have them here too when staying over.
"Sentimental, ridiculous warlock", whispered Jace softly, smiling to himself.
With a sigh on his lips did he collapse backward onto his bed again, closing his eyes. He grabbed the blanket – a very soft, fluffy blanket – and pulled it over himself, the pleased smile on his lips growing. He had missed those sheets. Well, no, not really. The sheets were about as good quality as his at the Institute, but the detergent Magnus used was home-made and a very particular scent. One that Jace associated with both Magnus and Alec at this point, since the husbands shared a bed and thus both tended to have that scent cling onto them. Jace liked their scents and things that reminded him of their scents, because it made him feel – well, it made him feel safe.
Alec had always done that. Alec had been his first friend and he had become Jace's parabatai. Alec had been the first alpha Jace had ever trusted. And somehow, Magnus had become the second. Maybe because Alec trusted him, maybe because Magnus had offered his home to Jace when Jace had nowhere else to go. Definitely though because Magnus had gone to Edom, had confronted his own abusive father and given up his own magic and immortality for Jace, to save Jace's life.
"Puppy? Are you awake already? I thought I heard something...?"
"Stop calling me that, you over-sized cat", grunted Jace and threw a pillow at Magnus.
That nickname had been born when Magnus had tried to figure out a pet-name for Alec and decided that 'pup' was most definitely not a fit for Alec. Instead, he had jokingly started calling Jace that – and somehow, it had... stuck. Jace liked to act annoyed about it, but very secretly he loved it. He never had a nickname of his own before. Sure, he had 'Jace' – he had gotten that from Alec because 'Jonathan' was what his father used to call him – but that was less a nickname by now. It had become his name. Most people only knew him as Jace. An actual, individual nickname though...?
"How did you sleep, puppy?", asked Magnus, approaching the bed.
He carefully sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling the blanket down enough to see Jace's face. Jace frowned up at Magnus, trying to pull the blanket back up. He was only wearing his boxers. And as fun as Magnus' playful flirting was, he wasn't sure how well he'd be able to handle it this early in the morning and while only being in his underwear and in his bed.
"I slept well", sighed Jace after a moment. "...Thank you."
"I told you, you can come to me anytime, I'll give you more of the potion", offered Magnus.
"I know. I just... I thought... I'd be fine without it. I figured I've been doing better", grunted Jace and rolled onto his back, staring up at Magnus. "Clearly, I was wrong."
"Sweetheart", sighed Magnus, his voice very emotional. "No one is forcing you to be better already. It's only been a few, short weeks since we defeated Jonathan. Healing... will take time."
"Not everyone has the same time at their expense as you immortals", muttered Jace.
He was glad Magnus got his immortality back. He really was, for Magnus's sake. But it also meant that one day, Jace would be old and gray, his parabatai and his parabatai's mate would still look the exact same. Because a matebond between an immortal and a mortal was, aside from being turned into a vampire, the only way to achieve immortality.
"Alexander still has his eye on you finding an immortal mate too", offered Magnus.
Jace bit his tongue on that topic. He didn't want a mate at all. He didn't think he was a very good omega to begin with; he had no idea what to do as an omega and he'd probably make an awful parent too. Not to mention his track-record of one-night-stands – not that omegas were expected to be some virtuous pure virgins or something, but, well, he had been rather promiscuous.
That was okay though. He didn't need a mate in his life. Sure, when he saw happy couples like Magnus and Alec, or Raphael and Simon, he felt himself... longing for that too. For someone to look at him the way they looked at each other, to care for him the way they cared for each other.
Man I love writing this story. Like, SO much. I do hope y'all are enjoying reading it at least half as much as I enjoy wiritng it. *laughs* Next chapter, I'm bringing in Helen and Aline (I'm REALLY happy that by now I know them enough to actually work them into stories nad I LOVE the dynamic between Jace and Aline!) and we're taking the puppy shopping.
Chapter 3: Dress to Impress
Jace licked his lips as he paced in his room. Isabelle was taking him shopping, because apparently the club's dress-code was a bit more high-class than black pants and t-shirts. Though he frowned when he opened his door to not just Isabelle's slyly grinning face, but also Aline and Helen.
Aline and Isabelle had been friends since childhood. They had also been kind of an unofficial couple during their teenage years. And then Aline had met Helen during the war, as they called it now (even though... it hadn't felt much like a war, it had been a disaster triggered by Valentine's return and ended with Jonathan's death). The two had grown closer and officially got together during Magnus and Alec's wedding. Now, there were basically constant double-dates between Aline, Helen, Lydia and Isabelle. It was cute, Jace was glad to see Isabelle so happy.
"I heard you're going to the Primal Instinct", grinned Helen. "And you gotta go shopping beforehand. Me and Aline volunteered to go with you."
"...I'm not a doll you can play dress-up with, Blackthorn", warned Jace.
"I figured you'd like some omega-company for moral support", countered Aline. "Come on, it is only you, me, Iz and Clary at this Institute. We gotta stick together."
And... that was true. It was also quite nice to be with other omegas, if Jace was being honest. Which he was only being with himself. He wasn't ready to admit that to anyone else, but omega-cuddles with Clary, Isabelle and Aline were amazing and grounding and making him feel safe in a way he only knew with Alec normally. It made him feel at ease and it recharged him, in a way.
"Look", sighed Helen gently as she took his hand. "We know it's not your favorite thing, we know you feel uncomfortable giving in to your omega-nature. We just... wanna help you, as your friends."
Isabelle reached a gentle wing out against his and he sighed. It honestly was probably best to bring another omega along to that shopping trip because he was already anxious and they hadn't even left the damn Institute. Why was he like this. No, strike that, he knew exactly why he was like this. Valentine, it always came down to Valentine, to Valentine trying to beat the omega out of him, make him hard and strong, try to raise him into an alpha. Thinking that nurture could beat nature.
"Fine, fine", sighed Jace after a beat and got his jacket. "Let's get this over with."
"I'm, fyi, also coming along to embarrass you", tagged Aline on.
"Of course you are", snorted Jace and rolled his eyes.
Sometimes, Jace forgot that life had ever been different. Before the war, before Clary, Magnus, Simon, Lydia and Helen had entered their lives. The war, it had stretched on for a year and a few months, Valentine and Jonathan making things so hard for them, for Jace. Part of Jace still couldn't believe they were actually gone for good now. Sometimes, Jace remembered the cocky, arrogant asshole he had been 24/7 back then, not giving an inch for anyone but Alec. Now, he had all those friends and people who cared about him, made him go to therapy, he was actively dealing with his trauma, with the wrong things Valentine had taught him. He was trying to embrace his inner omega. Still, all of this really pushed him. Knowing what to expect.
But if there was someone out there, abducting or worse yet murdering omegas, then Jace could not simply sit back and let that happen, if there was anything he could do to help. And this was the first major thing to happen since the war had ended. A part of him needed to feel useful, he felt so adrift since the war had ended. The war had, aside from trauma, given him a purpose for the past year. Now, he didn't have a purpose. Alec and Lydia were heads of the Institute, Isabelle and Clary had become parabatai, were working hard. Maia was rebuilding the pack from scratch, while Simon and Raphael were rebuilding and reforming the clan and Magnus was back to being High Warlock of Brooklyn. Everyone had a purpose, a driving force. Jace was just drifting along. This mission was at the very least going to give him a purpose for a while.
"Okay, this will look amazing on you", declared Isabelle as she threw more clothes onto him.
"Oh, and this, definitely this!", exclaimed Helen excitedly.
"Guys, I think that's enough for now", commented Aline amused.
Jace grunted and carried everything toward a dressing room while the girls got comfortable in the waiting area outside the dressing rooms. Putting everything down, he sighed and shrugged out of his shirt. He still thought this was a horrendously bad idea, because he was unqualified for it. There was no way some alpha looking for a submissive omega would be falling for this. Sure, Jace could make any alpha fall for him in a sexual way, but the fact that this wasn't sexual, the fact that this was purely about being an omega, that was where the problem laid and where Jace was unsure on whether or not he could actually pull through with this mission.
Shaking his head, Jace grabbed the first shirt and put it on. A deep v-neck cut, sleeveless and so tight it left nothing about his six-pack to imagination. But oh it was nice! It was silk, so soft and smooth against his skin. Closing his eyes, he smoothed the fabric over and purred a little. He loved silk – he had silken sheets at Magnus' place, it had been the first time he had felt silk on his skin and he had loved it so much. He tried not to get too many such things because he generally tried not to indulge his inner omega. Alas, everything about this had the purpose of indulging his inner omega.
"Okay, fine", sighed Jace as he gave up; he'd take this shirt.
The next one however? He stared at himself in the mirror, completely lost. Furrowing his brows, he opened the door and headed toward the three girls, pointing at himself.
"Where is the rest of this shirt?", asked Jace.
Helen and Isabelle exchanged a mischievous look, while Aline laughed and got her phone out to take a photo of the absolutely disgruntled omega. The shirt barely covered his chest, leaving his midriff, his entire six-pack, bare. Jace glared pointedly, trying to pull the shirt down.
"That... That belongs that way", snorted Isabelle amused. "Showing off the goods, you know?"
She pointed at her own free midriff, making Jace huff. "You can wear that. You're a girl. I'm a guy. It looks... weird on me. Guys don't wear shirts like that, you know. I don't wear stuff like that."
"...Boy you're going to complain so much about the things I picked", whispered Helen softly.
She bit her lips to keep from grinning and Jace just frowned doubtfully. This was not going to end well. Taking a deep breath, he returned to the dressing room and picked the next item – just to run right out of the dressing room again and shake the corset at the girls.
"No", growled Jace. "What even. No."
"You're so dramatic", sighed Aline and rolled her eyes as she got up.
She ushered Jace back into the dressing room and ordered him to lift his arms before helping him into the corset. It was black, with patterns of roses and vines in dark red and dark green. It looked elegant and gorgeous. And it actually looked kind of good on him, as Aline laced him up.
"It does look good on you, you know", smiled Aline. "You gotta... get out of your comfort zone a little bit, for all of this to work. But no one wants to push you too far. So you have to... You have to do some internal inventory. What can and can't you do, honestly. Not just throwing a fit at a too short shirt, but serious limits. That's what they'll ask of you in the club too."
"Yeah, I already filed those forms", muttered Jace. "Those weren't a problem. That's sex-stuff."
"It, very specifically, is not", corrected Aline, looking slightly amused.
"I mean, yeah, okay, at that club it isn't. But normally it's sex stuff", argued Jace.
"No, seriously, it's not", snorted Aline. "You just... always link it to sex. But it's actually... very natural alpha and omega behavior. And I think the fact that it wasn't a problem and that you're familiar with it speaks for how you've been trying to find an outlet for your omega-side. Without actually admitting that that's what it is. Maybe, visiting the club... will actually help."
"You're not the first to say that", muttered Jace softly. "I still have... doubts."
"Go there and you'll see. If you want to, Helen and I could come along as moral support?", suggested Aline, voice unusually gentle. "Alpha and omega, right? We could sign up too."
"No", sighed Jace. "That'd draw suspicion. Three new Shadowhunters as members? It's a mostly Downworlder club, there aren't many Shadowhunters. We don't want to scare the bastards off."
Aline smiled to herself before hugging him with her wings, summoning them for only a moment to be wrapped around Jace in comfort and warmth, making Jace relax a little, before he paused.
"Wait. How am I going to pay for all of this? Those are definitely not expenses I can file with the Clave", stated Jace and pointedly lifted a fishnet shirt up to wave it at Aline.
"Oh. Izzy said we got Raphael's credit card. He's paying", replied Aline with a smirk.
Jace blinked a couple of times before shaking his head and storming out of the dressing room again to shake his head very pointedly at Isabelle. Izzy looked up from her phone in confusion.
"I'm not having an alpha pay for my clothes!", stated Jace firmly.
"Alec bought like two thirds of your leather jackets over the years", countered Izzy.
"That's different – That's Alec", grunted Jace and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not having a non-Alec alpha buy me expensive clothes, Iz. I know he offered, but... I didn't take that seriously."
"Then don't see it as Raph buying them for you but as Raph buying them for the Institute. For the mission", sighed Isabelle with a dismissive hand-gesture. "Who else is supposed to pay for this? Look, Raphael said he will pay, he's not going to make you pay for a bunch of expensive clothes you have to buy to go into his club on a mission he sent you on even though he knows it makes you uncomfortable. Don't try to fight him on this; the most you'll get out of it is that instead of Raphael, Magnus is going to pay for them."
"...Mag? Why would Mag be paying for my clothes?", asked Jace confused.
Isabelle rolled her eyes and exchanged a look with Helen, one that Jace didn't understand. "Just accept that someone has to pay for them because the shop won't give them away for free. And that Raphael volunteered for it. You can fight him on it in person later; for now, he's paying."
Simon made a small, miserable noise before rolling over and hiding in Raphael's side, making the older vampire hum curiously. After another moment of Simon pretending to be miserable, he had Raphael's full attention, making him put his book down and instead turn to look at the source of Simon's misery. His phone. Simon gladly pushed it more toward Raphael.
"...Mh", grunted Raphael thoughtfully.
"That asexuality of yours is frustrating in moments like these", huffed Simon and swatted at Raphael. "I get a ridiculously hot photo of Jace sent to me that makes my brain go mushy and you make that 'Mh' sound that you made when we were in Rome and you looked at Michelangelo's work. It's really frustrating. You're supposed to suffer with me. This is unfair."
Raphael chuckled fondly and pressed a kiss against Simon's temple. Simon had to admit, when Raphael had first told him he was asexual, he hadn't quite known what to make of it. What it meant. The art-metaphor was his favorite so far, that while when Simon looked at Jace in that ridiculously short shirt, he got very different thoughts, thoughts that might have been there since before he had started dating Raphael. When Raphael looked at Jace's six-pack, he had the same kind of appreciation as for that chiseled by Michelangelo into marble.
"Why?", asked Raphael playfully, pulling Simon closer. "I appreciate the... finer things in life. And Jace Herondale, I have to admit, is a piece of art that'd look... very good in our bedroom."
Simon made a curious sound at that and nuzzled more into Raphael. He had been upfront about this, from the get-go. That he had feelings for Jace too; mainly sexual attraction but also a crush. That Simon was polyamorous and that him having feelings for Jace didn't mean he didn't also have feelings for Raphael and that Simon was faithful and would never cheat. Something that had concerned Raphael especially when Raphael came out as asexual to Simon, because Simon felt sexual attraction – was currently sexually attracted to an unmated omega. To say the beginning of their relationship was a bit stumbling would be an understatement. But, they made it work, they built trust between them and Raphael had certain plans. Vague plans, Simon knew it wasn't set in stone, but he saw it in the shimmer in his mate's eyes. Raphael knew that Simon was totally content with their sex-less relationship, but Raphael also knew that Simon did have a sex-drive and that Simon was attracted to a certain omega. And it wasn't that Raphael didn't have alpha-urges himself; that was why he literally owned an alpha-omega-club. Raphael and Simon regularly went there together, but lately, Simon knew that, Raphael had been considering the idea of permanently adding an omega to their relationship, someone to submit to them both, someone to cherish for them both – and, well, yes, someone to have sex with for Simon. Namely, he was considering Jace.
"He'd look really good in our bedroom", hummed Simon with a small grin.
"First, we'll see how well he does at the club", countered Raphael gently.
Simon sighed and rolled his eyes. Raph was right, Simon shouldn't get his hopes up with fantasies just yet. They didn't even know if Jace would really come to be comfortable with being an omega, much less if he'd even be interested in Simon and Raphael – even though they, at the very least, had formed a deep friendship over the past months. Simon really hoped that Jace would leave an impression on Raphael in the club. Sure, Raphael had come to appreciate Jace at this point, as an ally and a friend (and a gorgeous piece of art), but if Jace would prove to be the perfect omega for them...? Simon hid his giddy grin in Raphael's neck.
"You're imagining what it'd be like if he were a part of us already, aren't you?", accused Raphael amused, running his fingers down Simon's spine. "Though I have to admit, your unwavering determination and loyalty are your greatest strengths and assets."
"Aw, you sweet-talk so nicely", grinned Simon and peeked out to steal a kiss from his mate.
"So—o I saw you went shopping today."
Jace paused and scowled as he turned toward the broadly grinning vampire standing in his doorway. Of course had Isabelle or Aline ratted him out. Damn group-chats.
"Some of the stuff is really nice. Other is... I look ridiculous", muttered Jace.
"If you're referring to that six-pack-show-off shirt? That does not look ridiculous. The only thing looking ridiculous in that photo are your abs. Seriously, are you photoshopped?"
That made Jace laugh and shake his head some. "You're ridiculous. So is your mate!"
"What? What did Raph do?", asked Simon confused.
"He paid for all of this!", exclaimed Jace, motioning at the bags of clothes.
"Ye—ep. He did", confirmed Simon, still confused. "What's the problem?"
"I'm not having an alpha buy me clothes", sighed Jace exhausted and collapsed on his bed. "Why does no one understand that? I'm an independent omega who's always done things himself, bought things himself. I don't... I've never gotten gifts from anyone but, you know, the Lightwoods."
"...Never?", asked Simon softly and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Really never?"
Jace shrugged and turned toward Simon. "From whom? The Lightwoods were the only people who mattered in my life before this war started and everything got turned upside down. And it's not like we got around to celebrating my birthday last year." Jace snorted. "I literally only learned when my real birthday is a few months ago. Been celebrating Jonathan Morgenstern's birthday all my life."
"Oh. Oh, wow. I... I didn't even think on that", grunted Simon surprised. "Wait, when is your birthday? Like, your real, actual, proper birthday? So I can throw you a big party and pile presents on you and have all of your many new friends pile presents on you."
Jace smiled just a little bit at that and it made Simon feel very warm. "January 18th."
"That's like in two weeks", pointed Simon out and blinked. "Does no one know this?!"
"Alec and Iz know", shrugged Jace. "They also know not to throw a fuss."
"Listen here, Herondale", huffed Simon and poked Jace in the chest. "You will celebrate your birthday, there will be a huge party and we will pile presents on you."
Jace cocked one eyebrow and grinned at Simon in amusement. "Bossy, huh. That's rare."
"I am an alpha too! I can alpha too", grumbled Simon.
"Alpha isn't a verb. Stop turning everything into a verb", snorted Jace. "You're ridiculous."
That made Simon only grin very broadly. He loved putting that small little grin on Jace's face.
"You know, I'll be there for you too", offered Simon gently. "At the club, I mean."
Jace raised his eyebrows and shook his head a little. "You know... you're right."
"Mh? That's... a rare thing for you to admit so I'll take it, but out of curiosity: About what?"
"That things have changed. That I have... friends now", muttered Jace reluctantly. "Magnus already offered to back me up. Aline and Helen offered to be there for moral support too. You, Raphael... Clary, Lydia, Maia even I guess if you stretch the term 'friend'..."
"Ye—ep", chimed Simon, looking proud of himself. "You got friends you can rely on. And who are going to throw you one wicked awesome birthday party."
Again, Jace rolled his eyes, though this time he did it more fondly.
"So—o, Simon is going to throw you a huge birthday party."
Jace heaved a sigh as Clary sat down next to him at the table in the cafeteria. Of course would Simon immediately run to his best friend and tell her. Clary was grinning as she took her seat.
"I think it's a great idea", offered Isabelle as she came following Clary.
And with that, Jace knew that his peace and quiet were gone, because following Isabelle were Lydia, Aline and Helen. The girls surrounded him as they all started eating breakfast and Jace found himself missing Alec dearly. Not that he didn't always do that, but especially homey moments at the Institute made him miss the times when it had only been Izzy, Alec and Jace. Always just them. Yes, he had come to... love the people who had become part of their tiny little flock, making it a proper flock, but just sometimes, he was overwhelmed – and who could blame him? For the first ten years of his life, there had been no one but him and his father, no other people he interacted with at all. And then, at the Institute, he had only stuck with the Lightwoods. Valentine had taught him that love destroyed and that a mate and flock-mates were only a burden, a weakness.
"You're the first birthday we have since the war ended", pointed Lydia out.
Which was true. This mess had started on Clary's eighteenth birthday. A year and three months had passed before they defeated Jonathan for good. Christmas and New Year's had come and gone, but Jace – Jace's real, actual birthday – would be the first one to be celebrated since peace had come. In the middle of hunting first Valentine and then Jonathan, no one had really felt like actually celebrating a birthday. They were too busy, had too much on their minds.
"This is going to be a disaster and I'm not getting out of it, am I?", drawled Jace.
"See it as something to look forward to", chimed Helen.
"How", asked Jace pointedly. "Since it's not something I am looking forward to."
"I mean, you're more looking forward to that than to the start of your undercover mission tonight, right?", countered Helen with a mischievous smile on her lips.
Jace deflated a little at that. Right. Tonight, he was officially going to join the Primal Instinct as a member, going on his undercover mission as a stressed omega looking for a way to unwind. Urgh.
"You know, he looks like you just invited him to his own funeral", pointed Aline out.
She grinned, fingers linked with Helen beneath the table so she could now pull her mate closer to gently kiss her, one wing half-covering Helen from behind. Meals were a means of bonding among flock – and the Institute, by now, had multiple smaller flocks. Teams that had formed over the years. Only that Jace and Isabelle's flock had grown significantly over the past months.
"You should go visit Alec before the mission. Maybe a grooming session will help you", offered Lydia with a frown. "He has today off. I think mainly because he's fretting about you."
"Yeah. He seems to be taking your mission even worse than you", snorted Isabelle.
"Figures", mused Jace thoughtfully. "The bond. He can feel my anxiety on top of his own worries which only makes that worrywart worry even more. It's a vicious cycle."
"Feeling someone else's emotions is still weird", pointed Clary out, chewing on her croissant.
Though she was spotting a grin as she traced her parabatai rune with one finger. Hers was below her right shoulder, a bit above her collarbone. Isabelle was returning her grin. Those two were incredibly proud of their parabatai-bond. Rightfully so, Jace may add. There was nothing comparable and he was glad for both girls he considered sisters to share that bond with each other.
"But you're right, grooming sounds... like a good course of action", sighed Jace. "Wanna look my best too, after all. The prettier I am, the quicker I'll attract whoever is behind all this."
For emphasis he batted his eyelashes at the girls, getting various degrees of snorts and giggles.
Jace was practically goo in the hands of his parabatai, eyes closed in bliss, a small smile on his face while Alec worked on his wings. Yes, this was a very good idea. Nothing could bring him down again when he was putting himself into a frenzy like some one-on-one time with his parabatai, especially when it involved getting groomed. Magnus on the couch chuckled amused.
"What?", grumbled Jace, not opening his eyes.
"Nothing. Just... it sounds cute when you purr", noted Magnus casually.
"Magnus, you agreed to behave yourself and not tease him", chided his husband irritated.
"Such a spoil-spot, Alexander", sighed Magnus. "I didn't mean to tease, puppy. Really not."
Jace just grunted and leaned more into his parabatai. "Mag, right now I like genuinely don't care."
"Then I'm doing my job right", observed Alec, sounding very pleased with himself. "Done."
Sluggishly did Jace blink his eyes open and spread his wings to look at them. They were shiny and orderly and looked as pretty as they could. The golden flecks on his white wings seemed to really pop whenever Alec took care of them. No one was better at taking care of Jace's wings than Alec.
"Thank you. I really needed that", sighed Jace softly.
He turned half around, just enough so he was sideways facing Alec and could lean his cheek and side against his parabatai's chest. Alec was the safest alpha he ever met. Yes, by now he knew other alphas he trusted, but Alec would always be the first. The alpha made a low rumbling sound in his chest as he wrapped his arms around Jace's waist to pull him closer, resting his chin on Jace's head.
"I think you're not the only one who needed that", commented Magnus. "Alexander has been pacing a hole into our carpet all day, running through all possible worst case scenarios."
"It's not my fault", grumbled Alec annoyed. "I hate the idea of Jace on a dangerous mission without me. I know that it'd be too suspicious if the head of the New York Institute would also now suddenly be signing up. There are only a very limited number of Shadowhunters in the club, because it's primarily a Downworlder club. I... I just hate it, you know."
"I know", whispered Jace gently, nuzzling into his parabatai's chest. "I know. But I'll be fine."
"Really? That fretting you were doing could have fooled me, you know", noted Magnus.
"I'm fretting because I've never done anything like it and the... unknown scares me", admitted Jace slowly after a moment. "But I know you'll be there, Magnus. I know when push comes to shove, Raph has an eye on me, so does Simon probably because as fussy as he is there is no way he won't be lingering around in the club too. I'm not alone, Alec."
"I know that", muttered Alec displeased. "And I trust no one more with your safety than my mate. But even Magnus isn't me and as much as I trust him to have your back... I'd rather be there too."
Jace smiled faintly to himself as he cuddled up some more to his parabatai and slowly dozed off into a well-deserved nap after not having slept very much last night.
Jace Herondale was a snack. No one knew that better than Simon, who literally had snacked on Jace before and gained his Daylighter abilities that way. But damn, in those clothes? Black, skin-tight leather pants that left absolutely nothing to the imagination, hugging his butt in all the right ways, the black silken-shirt he was wearing was no less tight though, with a few buttons popped open.
"One finishing touch before you go into the club", stated Raphael.
"What now?", sighed Jace frustrated.
His hair was not styled back, not put up in a bun as he usually did these days since it had grown some. Instead, it was gently falling onto his shoulders, barely reaching them. Simon always wanted to run his fingers through that hair, play with it. It was really tempting.
"A collar", stated Raphael and opened a drawer to get a black box out of it.
Usually, omegas either bought and brought their own collar, or they got a standard issued one from the club. In this case however, Simon and Raphael had gone out and bought one specifically for Jace. It was sleek and black with a v-shape leading down toward his sternum where one would attach the tag on a ring. Jace frowned slightly annoyed at that.
"This is a club of dominance and submission, Jace. Omegas who come here specifically seeking that out wear a collar, for identification. Some omegas simply come to enjoy the bar and alcohol and if they're not wearing a collar, they will not be approached by alphas. Each alpha has tags of their own and if the two of you come to an agreement, they'll attach their tag to your collar."
"Great", muttered Jace lowly. "Urgh. Magnus is going to have so much fun with that one, considering he always calls me a puppy anyway. Now I come with my own collar."
"Jace. Let me remind you once more, you don't have to do this", noted Raphael seriously.
"I know", sighed Jace. "I know. And I said I'll give it a try. Just—let me complain, okay?"
Simon laughed softly as he approached from behind. "You can complain all you want. But look, this is more than just a collar. Raph and I had it modified."
He took the collar and turned it over to show that at the center of the broader part of the collar sat an unassuming, thin little metal thing. Jace frowned confused at that and tilted his head.
"A tracker", supplied Raphael. "I figured we should rather be safe than sorry. Just... in case we lose sight of you, I want to make as sure as possible that nothing happens to you in my club."
Simon was close enough to Jace to see the faint blush on the omega's face. Simon loved seeing Jace blush that way. Turning the collar around again, Simon stepped up right behind Jace and laid the collar around Jace's neck. He could hear the way Jace's heart-rate spiked when the collar slowly tightened around his neck until Simon fastened it in the back. Jace's breath hitched when it closed.
"There you go. Now you're perfectly equipped to visit the Primal Instinct", announced Simon.
"We'll see about that", muttered Jace beneath his breath. "Let's hope this is a quick mission."
Simon couldn't help himself but to pull Jace into a quick, tight hug because the omega looked so anxious. For Jace's sake, Simon hoped the mission would be quick too.
Next chapter, a rather chaste first night at the club. After all, we don't want to seem too suspicious and go all out on the first night! But oh, Jace is going to have some fun flirting with Magnus! ;)
Chapter 4: First Night at the Club
Somehow, Jace had expected sleazebag alphas that'd hit on him right away and make this entire experience so uncomfortable he'd cancel the mission within minutes. The whole wearing a collar like someone's possession, he had thought to immediately run into alphas who'd see omegas as possessions. Retrospectively, he should have known that – at the very least – Simon would have never stood for such a thing to happen in his mate's club. Nor that Raphael or Magnus would accept such things. Still, it was... hard for Jace to imagine what this was, it was all new and weird to him.
"There you go. From the gentlealpha at the end of the bar."
Jace blinked as he turned toward the barkeeper, just to stare wide-eyed at the smirking face of Maia Roberts. He quickly caught himself again; he was undercover here, it was best if no one knew who he knew. Yet Maia was kind of a surprise here. Jace tried to cover his surprise with something else.
"I thought... only betas work at this club", offered Jace slowly as he accepted the drink.
"Waiters. Reception. The ones who get up close with the customer, yes. I'm... both working here as a barkeeper and security, in a way. Because people tend to get drunk at the bar and drunk alphas tend to misbehave; no need to put a beta into such a situation. I'm here to deescalate right away before security comes here", offered Maia with a smile. "To make our omega customers feel safe."
Well, Raphael had said that the security were alphas. And this probably made sense. For a beta to get dragged between two brawling drunk alphas...? That would be a mess. Another alpha had a better chance to immediately act on something going wrong.
Taking a deep breath, Jace took the glass and then turned to offer the alpha who had paid for it a charming smile. After all, the whole point of him being here was to lure a specific alpha out, so best be nice, sweet and accepting. Hopefully it was going to work quickly.
"Relax", advised Maia, her voice surprisingly gentle. "You're too tense, I can smell it. Just think of this as any other bar. The Hunter's Moon, the Pandemonium. Enjoy your drink and relax."
Heaving a sigh, Jace took the glass up to his lips. She was right. He was too on edge; Raphael had said that he didn't have to go to the back-room on his first night. He should just familiarize himself with the club. Play the part. If he rushed it too much, he was going to scare the bad guy away.
The drink was good. Not strong on the alcohol, which was probably for the best because he was so nervous, he felt like getting completely wasted. Still, the warmth of the alcohol running down his throat eased his nerves a little. Sighing softly, Jace turned around on his chair to look at the club.
The bar was lit in low purple and blue, the music playing was soft over here, but louder over at the dance floor. Opposite the bar and in this corner of the club were lounges, oval tables of different sizes with couches surrounding them. Alphas and omegas were sitting together, talking. One in particular caught Jace's attention, because it was rather crowded. Omegas left and right – and even though he wasn't close enough to smell, he saw the collars on their necks. Maybe those were practical, if they kept the alphas away from omegas who just came here to drink and not to engage in anything else. All the omegas at the table seemed completely focused on the only alpha with them, turned toward him from left and right, one even holding the drink up for the alpha to sip from the straw of his cocktail. They all seemed transfixed by the alpha, devote. No other alpha in the room radiated as much power and dominance as this alpha, even though – or especially because – he was not in any obvious stance of dominance. He was laid back, relaxed, like a lazy wild cat bathing in the sun, yet no one would mistake him for a harmless kitten and could see he was a true, fierce predator, who controlled his territory. Everything about the alpha already drew Jace in, the aura he radiated, the way he had other omegas flock toward him (admittedly, there was something alluring in seeing other omegas desire an alpha, because it spoke of the alpha's potency and power). So when the light shifted a little and the alpha leaned forward just enough so the light hit him right, Jace choked on his drink because that was Magnus Bane.
"Easy there, tiger", chuckled Maia teasingly. "Though Magnus Bane does have that effect on omegas. He's not been around lately, because he got married. Seems him and the mister agreed that some time with an omega would do them some good. The moment he entered the club, all eyes were on him. Some here have waited months for his return, you know."
"Thank you, Miss Exposition", nodded Jace sarcastically.
"Hey. It's part of the job", smirked Maia. "Helping the new guys around. And the name's Roberts."
Jace huffed amused before he turned back to watching Magnus. Wow. It wasn't that Jace wasn't aware of how powerful Magnus was – that was something hard to forget – but being so close to Magnus in everyday life, his perspective had shifted. When he thought of Magnus, he thought of the late riser who would whine about having to get up while wearing fluffy slippers and staring pleadingly at Jace to make breakfast. The guy who would cuddle his ridiculously named kittens. The gentle soul making silly faces to make Madzie laugh. With the people he cared about, Magnus was so very soft. So soft that it could slip one's mind just how incredibly powerful and widely admired and feared Magnus Bane was. Magnus was probably the most powerful alpha in all of New York and potentially even beyond. Right now, right here, amidst omegas bating their eyelashes at him and holding him his drink, Magnus looked like the Alpha of all Alphas.
The strange thing was the sting of jealousy that overtook him when he saw Magnus smiling charmingly at one of the omegas, who batted her eyelashes at him prettily. It was definitely the parabatai-bond, right? Those were... Alec's feelings, who must be so jealous about Magnus being out here with the very purpose of flirting with others. Yes. That was it. There was no reason why Jace should feel jealous about Magnus being with a bunch of omegas...?
What... was Jace supposed to do now? He had no idea how this was going to work. Then again, he wasn't supposed to know – he was supposed to be a newbie. So perhaps he could approach this like he would approach a pickup at any other club or bar. He could charm the pants right off anyone.
Magnus really had missed this. Being the center of attention. Not even just the center of so many omegas' attention, but really simply relaxing, leaning back and have others focus on him. In the past year, he had devoted all of his attention to Alexander and the others, to winning this war. He had worked and worked, lost so much on the way, felt like he was giving more than he actually had. It felt so far away, the time of his life where he would just lounge at Pandemonium like a king and enjoy the night with no worries, no war. Though admittedly it was an added bonus that he was getting all that attention from omegas. He loved his Alexander and their sex life was rather amazing too, however it was always a battle for dominance, it was fierce love-making. And a part of Magnus did miss having an omega eager to submit to him, to follow his orders and wishes. A huge part of Magnus wished his Alexander was with him right now, though he also knew his husband well enough to know that all of this would make Alec highly uncomfortable.
His eyes caught sight of the one omega whose attention would make Alec quite the opposite of uncomfortable. Jace was approaching Magnus' table and mh, did the omega look delectable in the expensive new clothes Raphael had made him buy. He made a mental note to thank his boy later.
He wondered what the blonde was going to do. Sit down with the other omegas to fawn at Magnus? (Which, admittedly, was a lot of attention and a little flustering, however he did have quite the reputation and most of the omegas at his table were omegas he used to meet at the club, prior to his relationship with Alec. They had all been rather enthusiastic upon seeing him enter the club.)
"You seem to be the center of attention."
"I tend to be", agreed Magnus, slowly running his eyes over Jace, drinking in the sight.
"Well, if you tire of being surrounded by people kissing up to you, find me and buy me a drink."
Jace smirked at him and winked before returning to the bar. He walked slowly with a bit more sway to his steps than usual, drawing attention to that very perfectly shaped ass of his. Magnus chuckled softly to himself. Cocky. Nice. He had been a bit worried that in his inexperience and fretting about the mission, Jace would overact and try to be something he wasn't. If he was honest, this had always been the kind of omega to get Magnus' attention. Because yes, he was very much aware that the others at the table were just schmoozing him. They'd say anything if they knew it'd please him. He had always found that to be quite boring. A challenge, that was what he had always craved. His dear husband was proof of that. So a cocky omega telling him to go find him when he was ready for someone real, yes, that was the kind of omega who'd always get his attention. And the way his backside looked in those leather-pants was all the more tempting.
"...If you'll excuse me", hummed Magnus after a few minutes and got up.
Jace was sitting at the bar, sipping another cocktail one of the alphas had ordered for him. For now, Jace looked quite content here – being the center of attention was his thing, after all. And in here, the newest omega around was always the center of all the alphas' attention.
"You know, for someone who wants my attention just as much as the others back there, you seem very confident that you are worth my time more than anyone else", noted Magnus casually.
He approached Jace from behind and then took the seat to his right. Jace grinned up at him, bent forward just enough so he was looking up at Magnus from beneath his lashes. Now this was a game that Jace knew how to play; he knew exactly what he had and how to present himself to appeal.
"Well, I did what neither of those omegas could, didn't I? Got you all to myself", countered Jace.
For a moment, Magnus just stared at him before laughing. "I suppose you did."
"Besides, isn't it far more fun to be with someone upfront than someone who's kissing your ass and doing anything as long as it'll please you?", continued Jace casually.
"Mh... But you do know what this club is, do you?", inquired Magnus amused, raising one eyebrow as he ordered a drink for himself. "The whole point is, for an alpha anyway, to come here and find an omega willing to follow my command, to obey me – to, yes, please me."
"No", hummed Jace and turned around so he was facing into the club, leaning his arms onto the bar in a way that made his biceps flex and showed off how tightly the shirt hugged his torso. "The way I was told, this whole... dominance and submission thing is about alphas earning an omega's submission. What's the fun in this then, mh? Having them already willing to do everything to please you now... Where's the fun in that? The challenge. And you... look like the kind of alpha who enjoys a challenge. Someone who can go head to head with you, someone whose submission... would actually mean something."
Jace's eyes were hooded as he spoke, voice low. Oh, he was really good. Magnus had always known Jace always got who he wanted and was an expect at seduction, but being on the receiving end of it was admittedly an interesting experience. Not to mention, he hit the nail on the head. The reason why Magnus loved a challenge was because it meant so much more. The people back at his table would immediately ask how high if Magnus told them to jump right now. Taking one of them to the backroom would surely entail a session of utter submission, but... where indeed would be the fun in that? Headstrong, stubborn, fierce Jace however? Who challenged authority every turn? Having him willingly submit to Magnus, trusting Magnus' decisions and following his orders...? Oh, that would be absolutely delightful. Magnus' eyes flashed golden at the thought.
"You're something else, little Shadowhunter", chuckled Magnus. "What's your name?"
"Mh... I don't know if you've earned that yet", mused Jace thoughtfully and tilted his head. "After all, I'm just a lonesome little omega, shouldn't just tell my name to any random alpha."
Smiling, Magnus regarded Jace slowly. "And what would one have to do to earn it?"
"Pay attention to me. And only me", hummed Jace, taking a sip from his drink before licking his lips deliberately slowly. "None of that nonsense over there. You want my full attention and devotion? You gotta show me I get the same from you. Next time I come here, I want to be the only omega you have eyes for. Maybe then you get my name, gorgeous."
Jace winked at him before putting his empty glass down before pushing off the bar. On his way out, he had the attention of nearly all the alphas in the room who weren't already sitting with and talking to omegas. Not only had Jace managed to separate Magnus from the masses, he was also letting the alpha just stand there and gape after him. As far as first impressions went, Jace definitely had left one on the club. Magnus smiled to himself, while Maia pushed a bill toward him.
"He said this one would be on you", stated Maia with a smirk. "He drank the expensive stuff."
"Of course he did", chuckled Magnus as he got his money out.
"And? How did it go? How was it? How was he? Is he alright?"
"Easy, Alexander. Breath", interrupted Magnus before pulling his husband into a kiss. "It went well. He definitely got a lot of attention. If it's the right kind of attention, we'll see."
"What does that mean?", groaned Alec with a frown, burying his face in Magnus' neck.
Chuckling softly, Magnus led Alec to the couch and sat down with him, running his fingers through Alec's hair in a soothing manner. "I'm surprised you're here. I was sure to come home to an empty loft, while you pace in Jace's room at the Institute, waiting for him to return."
"...I didn't want to seem too overbearing", admitted Alec after a moment. "There's worrying about him and then there is worrying so much that he thinks I may not believe in him..."
"You're adorable", smiled Magnus and kissed Alec's cheek. "Jace looked absolutely delectable in the clothes Raphael bought him and while he looked nervous a the beginning, he was..." Magnus paused with a thoughtful look on his face. "It's quite some experience being on the receiving end of Jace's flirting, you know. He really knows how to play his cards right."
Alec hummed, relaxing into his husband's embrace. "So he was fine and I worried for nothing."
"You're right to worry, Alexander", whispered Magnus gently, running one hand down Alec's spine. "He's your parabatai. And... even if he doesn't like it much, he is an omega. To go undercover trying to track down someone who seems to be... abducting omegas? It is dangerous, regardless of how well-trained and clever our little puppy is. Not to mention, you... love him, Alexander."
Alec just grumbled at that and got more comfortable laying against his husband. This was how Magnus enjoyed ending a day, cuddling with Alec. At least until the door unlocked and interrupted the nice atmosphere. Frowning, both Alec and Magnus sat up and turned to look at the door. There weren't many people with a key to their loft. Magnus was a bit surprised as he saw their puppy stomping up to them with a pout on his face.
"Why are you here?", grumbled Jace and motioned at Alec.
"I... live here?", offered Alec, clearly confused as he sat up.
"Yeah, I know that!", huffed Jace, rolling his eyes while slowly... unbuttoning his shirt. "I mean... I was expecting you at the Institute, for a debriefing and... stuff. If I'd known you were home, I wouldn't have gone to the Institute first, I would have gone here right away."
The doe-eyed expression on Alec's face made Magnus smile softly. Alec may worry a lot for his parabatai, but the thing was that Jace knew that, he knew Alec. Though Magnus was still a bit confused about why the blonde was undressing. Not that he didn't appreciate the show. Once the shirt was open, Jace shrugged it off and then reached for the hem of Alec's hoodie, pulling it off the startled archer before putting it on himself. Jace sighed contently as he snuggled into the warm, worn, large hoodie that admittedly must be more comfortable than the skin-tight shirt. Alec blinked a couple of times before straightening the shirt he had been wearing beneath his hoodie.
"I was relying on your fussing", muttered Jace while climbing into Alec's lap. "I was so sure you'd be pacing in my bedroom waiting for me, parabatai."
"...Oh", whispered Alec, carefully wrapping his arms around Jace's waist. "You were?"
"Of course", sighed Jace as he snuggled more into his parabatai's arms. "C'mon, Alec. You were totally worried about me. And I was... counting on you waiting for me."
"You... were?", asked Alec, looking over at Magnus a little lost.
"...I really need... this right now", muttered Jace frustrated. "This was... exhausting and hard and I kind of expected to have you wait for me with some parabatai-cuddles. Figures you'd be... home with your husband instead. It's already late, after all."
The way Jace said that made Magnus furrow his eyebrows. "Puppy, you know that you can come here whenever you want or need. You are always welcome. Just because Alexander is my husband now doesn't... it doesn't come between the two of you. When you need your parabatai, you come right here and Alexander is all yours, okay?"
Jace hummed softly, eyes closed with a nearly serene expression on his face as he adjusted himself to sit facing Magnus. He slowly reached his legs out to tuck his feet between Magnus' thighs, face nuzzled into Alec's chest. Magnus felt warm and touched at the display of trust.
"I just... needed to be with alphas I trust", sighed Jace. "It was... Weird. All that attention. Made me feel on edge. Tense. I just needed a... safe space. My room at the Institute... didn't really do it. Alone, unprotected. I just need some time to... unwind for now..."
"That's perfectly fine, sweetheart", assured Magnus, wrapping his fingers around Jace's ankles.
He had very much noticed the way Jace had said alphas, not just his parabatai. Sure, the entire mission was proof that Jace trusted him, but still to hear the omega say it – it made Magnus' inner alpha preen and purr pleased. He gently circled Jace's ankles with his fingers.
"For as nervous as you seem now, you put up quite the performance at the club", commented Magnus. "I... genuinely believed you were comfortable and all in your element."
"I mean... to a degree, I was", offered Jace, purring very softly at the attention and gentle physical contact from both alphas. "Flirting is something I can do. And I am technically used to alphas leering at me. I guess... it's just... been a while. With the war, I didn't exactly go out and hook up much – at least not in recent months. And it... was a bit more intense than a regular bar. The way the alphas seized me up really was overwhelming and made me feel... a bit like prey. Which doesn't have to be a bad thing, it... can be nice. When you're, you know, prepared for it. Tonight, it was just all... a lot and it made me feel... not comfortable."
"I'm sorry I wasn't at the Institute", muttered Alec, sounding incredibly guilty as he rested his chin on top of Jace's head. "I thought... If I'd be waiting for you in your room, you'd think I'm doubting you... which I am not. I just doubt all those alphas."
"I know", chuckled Jace fondly, rubbing his chin against Alec's collarbone. "I know you trust my capabilities. I know you're just worried about me. You've always been worried about me."
"The only one who should feel offended about that truly is me", interjected Magnus dryly. "Since I am right there, watching over you. But my own husband still worries about you."
When Alec made a small, distressed sound, Magnus cracked up and laughed, while Jace nudged the warlock. "Don't be mean to him. He's already suffering enough with this entire situation, Mag."
"I know, I know. He's just... very adorable", smiled Magnus and leaned in to kiss Alec's cheek. "It's okay, love, I know you just want to be there in person to make sure your parabatai is safe."
"I'm going to have gray hair before I'm thirty and you two are to be blamed", sighed Alec.
"If it's any consolation I think you'd make a handsome silver fox", teased Jace.
Magnus smirked as he saw the faint blush on Alec's cheeks. The three of them sat in silence together until Jace's breathing evened out and the blonde fell asleep in Alec's arms.
Jace felt incredibly well-rested when he woke up in the morning, once again finding himself in his old room at the loft. Maybe he should just consider moving back in full-time, because the nights he spent here were the best he had. But then he remembered that Magnus and Alec were happily married and didn't need a third wheel living with them. With a smile did Jace bury his face in the fur of the nearest cat (there were three in his room, two of them on his bed).
"If you want softer pillows, just ask. You don't need to use the cats."
His smile morphed into an amused smirk as he turned to look at Magnus who stood in the doorway with a cup in his hands, wearing one of his fancy robes. Stretching widely, Jace sat up. He noticed that he was still wearing Alec's hoodie, but had apparently lost his pants, only wearing his underwear. His pants and the shirt he had been wearing were both neatly folded on a chair.
"The cats are very comfortable, soft and warm", argued Jace playfully. "Will there be breakfast?"
"There is a large breakfast waiting, actually. That's why I'm here", smiled Magnus. "Come. But perhaps put on some pants, we have guests – who brought the breakfast with them."
Jace perked up some and followed Magnus out of the room, though he headed over to Magnus and Alec's bedroom to steal a pair of sweat-pants from Magnus' closet. Once he was dressed, he headed to the kitchen, where Alec, Magnus, Raphael and Simon were already gathered.
"Wow that is totally Alec's hoodie", muttered Simon stunned as he stared at Jace. "You look so tiny in it. Now if that's not adorable. Ouch! Don't – ouch – hit me, Jace. Ra—aph!"
"I'm sorry, amor, you're on your own when you do things like those", hummed Raphael as he finished setting the table. "You call him adorable to his face, you suffer the consequences."
"...What do you mean to his face?", asked Jace and turned to look at Raphael.
"Simon and Raphael brought breakfast. You must be hungry", interrupted Alec.
Jace glowered at the look Alec gave him. It was the 'you're so adorable' look. What was it with these particular alphas and their wrong perception of Jace? Jace Herondale was most definitely not adorable. He was hot. Sexy. Amazing. Handsome. But not something as omega as adorable.
"I take it last night went well?", inquired Raphael. "I was watching from the security room, though we don't have sound on our cameras for privacy reasons, you did put up quite the... show."
"Magnus said something similar. Why?", asked Jace confused before stealing a salmon bagel. "I just... flirted with Magnus. I mean, that was last night's agenda, right?"
"It was", assured Raphael. "However the way you..."
"Most omegas take the more coy approach at the club", explained Simon while filling his and Raphael's glasses with blood from a thermos. "You know, like the others at Magnus' table. Fawning over the alpha, or waiting for an alpha to approach them. You were very pro-active. That is... rarer."
"And is that a bad thing?", inquired Jace, getting more comfortable on his chair.
He folded one leg beneath his body while pulling the other against his chest, the ball of his foot on the seat of his chair. He was rather contently nibbling his bagel and taking in what else the two vampires had brought along. Croissants, rolls, doughnuts. Mh. Alec had put out a plate of cold cuts and cheese, as well as various fruits. Now the only thing that was missing – ah. Magnus smiled knowingly at Jace as he summoned a large plate of fried bacon. With a happy, pleased expression on his face did Jace lean forward and grab a handful of bacon.
"Manners", chided Alec with a glare. "Use a fork. And don't – don't eat all of them at once!"
Jace made direct eye-contact with his parabatai as he shoved five pieces of bacon into his mouth. Alec sighed and rolled his eyes, everyone else starting to eat too, now that Jace got a head-start.
"It's not a bad thing", assured Raphael. "At least not judging by the interest you gained from others. Maia told me that many alphas asked for your name after you left. What you said to Magnus rang true for many alphas present, apparently."
"What did you say to Magnus?", asked Alec curiously, eyebrows drawn in.
"Just that having all those omegas doe-eyed at his feet defeats the purpose. Submission is something to be earned. To be deserved. I mean, that's what Raph told me in the introductory tour", shrugged Jace with a frown. "So, to work for an omega's submission is worth more than having the omega throw themselves at the alpha by reputation alone."
"Many alphas found those words to ring true for them when they heard them spoken by you", said Raphael, slowly sipping his blood. "For many, it had... become a bit of a routine, to come and have their pick from eager omegas. There is a thrill to the challenge and it does mean more when you actually have to work to prove yourself to an omega."
"Huh. So I accidentally did the right thing?", asked Jace surprised.
"You are just naturally charming and do seem to know just how to appeal to people", smiled Raphael, looking at Jace with warm eyes. "I have a feeling this is going to work."
"What's the next stage then? I was honestly surprised that Jace left... just like that?", admitted Simon, looking from his mate over to Jace. "I dunno, thought you'd go back with Magnus."
"Hey. We don't want make me look easy", huffed Jace, throwing a grape at Simon. "I... presented myself, piqued some interest. Tomorrow, Magnus gets to woo me. And... since we don't want to make it look too obvious, I can't just come in every day. We'll wait until next Friday."
"I am fully prepared to woo you, puppy", declared Magnus with a confident glint in his eyes. "Which... does remind me. That collar suits you incredibly well, little puppy."
Jace raised his eyebrows as he slowly reached for his neck. Right. He had gone to the Institute, noted the severe lack of Alec and headed right over to the loft without getting changed and then he had fallen asleep in Alec's lap, not removing the collar. Now that Magnus had drawn the attention to it, all four alphas were staring at it rather obviously. Jace glowered as he took it off.
"Yeah, well, I... forgot about it", admitted Jace and pocketed it in Alec's hoodie.
"You seemed so against it in the office, I was sure you'd take it off literally the second you left the club", stated Simon surprised. "So, it wasn't uncomfortable to wear? Because I legit spent hours trying to pick the right one. Because I didn't want you to be uncomfortable but it also had to be stylish and cool and of course practical – for the tracking device."
Jace's face softened a little as he looked at Simon. "...Yes, it's... comfortable to wear. And it's... not bad. There were some seriously tacky collars at the bar. This one looks... okay."
Simon was practically beaming at him at that and Jace sighed softly. He really didn't quite know about all these fussing alphas, right here. The reason Simon and Raphael were here was probably because they had been concerned about Jace too. He wondered why everyone worried so much about him. Okay, so he had gotten abducted for nearly a week, then gotten thrown into prison, actually died and then been possessed by the mother of all demons and all of that in the past one and a half years – maybe there was a solid foundation for why his friends worried about him...
"You look troubled, Jace", noted Raphael gently.
"I just...", started Jace and sighed as he shook his head. "I was thinking about how... overbearingly worried you guys are about me and then I... remembered just what I have been through in the past less than two years. Between the whole kidnapping and imprisonment and actual death and... possession... I guess it figures that people who... care about me... are reasonably worried."
"It's nice to hear you believe that I care about you", grinned Simon pleased.
"Yes well my therapist is trying to make me tune more into my own feelings and try look at things from the perspective of the people around me", sighed Jace with a dismissive hand-gesture. "Turns out my... actions and the way I charge into battle looks vastly different from Alec's perspective."
"Have I mentioned how much I love Doctor Martin?", asked Alec dryly.
Jace huffed and elbowed his parabatai while the other three alphas at the table laughed. Jace leaned back and enjoyed breakfast and the company. This was a really nice way to start the day.
I did mention it's a slow-burn, right? ;D But ah! Next chapter is going to give Raphael and Jace some one-on-one bonding time when Jace comes back to the club again! ;)