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A House Under Siege

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As he stares at his daughter jumping off her bed screaming, while her parabatai grabs the bed sheets and pulls them up to cover her naked self from his horrified eyes, Blaine wonders – with astonishing serenity, considering the situation – if he should’ve seen this coming. If there has been signs along the years, signs he’s unwittingly missed, signs he should’ve paid a closer attention to. Maybe there was a way to predict this. Maybe there was a way to know it would happen before the thought even started blooming in Tammy and Alex’s mind. Maybe, if he had known about this in time, he could’ve found a way to avoid it happening. (A way to do better than last time it happened to him, perhaps. By the Angel, he does not want to think about that.)

Sure, maybe Tammy and Alex wouldn’t have agreed. If he had tried to separate them before there was anything more than their ridiculously solid parabatai bond between them, they would’ve protested. They wouldn’t have understood. They couldn’t have, after all. And it would’ve been a struggle to make them accept it, to make them move on from it, sure. But it still would’ve been easier than trying to make this unhappen now. (Should he blame himself now for having it had happened twice in his life? Once, if you miss it, it’s not on you. Twice, though, it might be.)

“Dad!” Blaine finally manages to tear his eyes off Alex as she curls in a corner and disappears under the covers, and turns towards his daughter. She’s standing next to the bed, her long, blonde, straight hair falling messily down her shoulders. Her belt is undone, her pants unbuttoned. She’s wearing no bra underneath her t-shirt. He’s seen her looking like this a thousand times as she took a quick nap in between training sessions at the Institute, and yet there’s no clear memory of it he can summon now to try and make this situation look any less unpleasant. This girl looks like his usual Tammy, but she isn’t her. No daughter of his could ever do something like this – defying the Law so shamelessly, and in his own very home. He raised her better than this, Leo and him raised her better than this. (Didn’t they?)

He has no idea if she’s expecting him to leave or something. He feels as though his feet were nailed to the ground, anyway. He’s not going to leave. She calls for him again, trembling with rage, before understanding he’s not going to budge. Then Alex jumps off the bed and runs out the room, the bed sheets wrapped around her body in layers of stainless white cotton flapping behind her like the tail of a mundane wedding dress. (How sadly ironic that he would associate that with such a mental picture, considering Alex was a mundane before. Maybe she dreamt one day she would use a white wedding dress just like that, when she was nothing but a child.) (He wonders if Alan and Jesse used to dream about getting married too. He tries to picture them in gold. Then he feels sick to his stomach and turns the thought away.) (And snaps out of it.)

"Damn it, dad," Tammy growls. She buttons up her pants so they don't fall down her legs, and then she tries walking past him and out the room. She wants to follow Alex out, no doubt. Blaine simply raises a hand and grabs her by her wrist, stopping her.

She instantly turns to look at him, anger burning in her light blue eyes. "You're not going," Blaine says, holding her firmly.

"Dad!" Tammy yells, trying to break free, "Let me go! I need to—"

"All you need to do is stay here." It surprises him, the coldness in his voice. He must look very calm, on the outside, very controlled. That's always been his forte. Never letting people know when there was the fire of a thousand infernal dimensions burning through his veins. Keeping it up as if nothing could ever shake him. While his whole body was a riot.

A fast tapping on the floor announces Leo's arrival way before he shows up on Tammy's bedroom's door. "Blaine!" he calls out, alarmed, "I just saw Alex running out the front door in such a state I don't..." He stops talking, and also stops moving, when he sees his husband holding their daughter by the wrist. He's holding her so hard, now, her hand is turning frighteningly pale. "...Blaine?"

"She will never be admitted in this house again," he says coldly. He's not letting go of her. Perhaps he never will. "They will never meet again. I will need time to decide on the rest. That's all I have to say on the matter, for the moment."

Leo stares at him with wide eyes, and when he turns to look at Tammy he seems at a complete loss, as if he couldn't make sense of what he's seeing. "Tammy, you didn't..." he tries.

But she did. And the fact that she doesn't even look down in shame can only be the promise of something even worse.

Blaine can't think about that now, though. Tammy's always been the rebel kind. Blaine never really knew how much, that much is painfully clear, now, but he's used in dealing with his daughter's defiance.

(He knows now defiance isn’t genetic. Else, she couldn’t have picked it up from Alan. No, it can’t be genetic, not blood-related. He must’ve passed it down to her like an illness, like the flu. That’s even worse.)

He lets her go after pushing her further back into her bedroom. He pitilessly watches her almost trip on the bed, and having to lean against the wall to regain her balance. That's how hard he pushed her, and he honestly never thought he'd have to push his daughter so hard, in a thousand years.

"Stay inside," he tells her.

She stares at him, her expression softening down from rage to some sort of childish impotent fear. "You're not gonna lock me in, are you?" she asks in an unusually feeble voice.

It's the last he hears from her before he turns the key.

*

“Blaine,” Leo tries to stop him as he walks down the stairs and the hallway, to the sitting room, “Blaine, please. Let’s talk about it for a second.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Yeah, well,” Leo stops and crosses his arms over his chest. When he sees Blaine isn’t stopping too, though, he disentangles them and starts running after him again, “That must be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said, for sure. Of course there’s something to talk about.”

“You haven’t seen what I saw,” Blaine insists. Raziel wouldn’t stop him if he broke the skies to descend upon him wielding a fiery sword. “If you had, you’d agree with me.”

“No, I’m pretty sure I would still want to talk about it— Blaine!” Leo’s had enough, that much is clear in his annoyed voice. He grabs him by his shoulder and Blaine has no other choice than finally stopping and turning to look at him.

“What?!” he barks.

And Leo slaps him across his face. “Calm the fuck down, Anderson!” he yells, while Blaine looks at him in utter disbelief. “By the Angel, you’re impossible when you go berserk. Stop for a second and tell me exactly what you saw.”

"You know what I saw," Blaine retorts, astonished that Leo would insist on such a trivial detail, "You saw the state Alex was in and you saw Tammy. And you saw the bed. And really, what would possibly put me in such a state, other than something like that? Connect the dots, Leonard."

"Yeah, no," Leo shakes his head, crossing his arms over his chest again, "Connected dots don't always give you the full picture in all colors and shades, so I don't trust them. Just tell me. It might not be too late."

"Are you insane?!" Blaine throws his hands up in the air in utter frustration, "It might not be too late?! Alex was naked!"

"You know things can get messy, between parabatai!" Leo raises his voice to try and cover Blaine's roar, "It's intense and things can spiral out of control -- you'd understand if you'd ever had one."

"Oh, no," Blaine frowns, opposing to Leo's fired-up rationality his own unashamed disgust and disapproval, "You're not holding that against me. It's not a crime not to have a parabatai, what is a crime is to fall in love with one's own."

"Blaine, you're not listening to me," Leo almost growls, grabbing him by his shoulders and dragging him to the couch. He forces him to sit down and then sits next to him, trying to restart the dialogue in a calmer way. "Okay, listen. You know about me and Cody. We were confused too, at some point in our life. Hell, you helped us out through that, you can't have forgotten."

"Of course I haven't forgotten," Blaine frowns, "I remember very well, Leo. But it was obviously a passing thing, Cody was too cute for his own good, you were fascinated with him, he held onto you for dear life, things had been fucked up for you ever since the day he had been left at the Institute's door. You just needed help to navigate through that mess."

"Yes, exactly," Leo nods, "But before you came playing commodore to our wrecking ships, we messed around. We kissed."

"I know that, Leo."

"You know we did more."

"I know that, Leo!"

"But it wasn't too late to fix things!" Leo tries and tame him, putting both hands on Blaine's forearms merely seconds before he threw his arms up in the air again. "You helped us out," he goes on, speaking in a low, soothing voice, "We took some time to ourselves to sort our feelings out and we turned out just fine. This is why we need to assess the situation -- we have to understand where we stand with the girls, to see if we can help them back out like you did with Cody and me."

Blaine exhales, lowering his eyes. He's exhausted already, and Tammy's fierce eyes are haunting him, locked in the back of his mind like he locked her in her room: temporarily put away, but bound to strike back in full force sooner rather than later. "I can't think about this so rationally," he admits wearily, "My mind keeps going back to Alan."

Leo tenses visibly, and Blaine feels it in the way his fingers close around his forearms. "I knew there was a chance this hysteria was caused by the thought of him."

"Can you blame me?" Blaine looks back up at him, eyes alight with concern.

"Blaine, this is an entirely different thing."

"I wouldn't say entirely different."

"Well, then, partially enough not to be as threatening," Leo insists stubbornly, "Alan was out of his mind."

"I don't want to talk about Alan," Blaine shakes his head resolutely. It's been more than ten years, but the crippling feeling of guilt that always hits him every time he thinks about what happened is still as strong as it was when it first presented itself, on the very morning when he woke up knowing he was going to report him and Jesse to the Inquisitor. "...I just fear--"

"No," Leo stops him mid-sentence. He looks up at him and finds him fiercely staring back at him, with a furrowed brow and all the lines in his face tense enough to make him look exactly his age, instead of the usual five years younger. "You're not gonna report my daughter to the Inquisitor, Blaine. That's out of the question."

"Don't you think I'm not exactly thrilled at the idea either?" Blaine frowns deeply, his jaw tensing, "She's my daughter too."

"I know," Leo understands he overstepped the border and instantly tries to soften Blaine down again by stroking his forearms through the thin black sweater he's wearing, "I'm sorry. Blaine. I'm sorry," he inhales and exhales slowly, and Blaine ends up following him, doing the same, hoping it'll be enough to calm down and start seeing this whole thing a little bit more clearly. Because right now he feels as though he were trying to swim through thick mud. He doesn't move an inch, and he keeps getting dirty. "We need to keep our heads straight," Leo goes on, "We cannot afford acting impulsively."

"I didn't act on an impulse when I reported Alan, Leo," Blaine insists, his voice dark and a little shaky, "I acted on the Law. I can't-- In my house...!"

"Please, stop talking about it," Leo squeezes his wrists and looks intently at him. The way he tries to keep his sanity for them both is admirable, but Blaine honestly doesn't know how to follow him on this. It's hard to lose your balance when you've always been the most balanced one. You're used to being a pillar, and pillars don't cope well with having to lean on something else. Nine times out of then, they end up crumbling to pieces on the ground. "We have to focus on what's more important, now. We have to protect them."

"I don't give a fuck about--"

"Don't say things you're going to regret," Leo stops him with a gentle, though extremely nervous, smile, "You've known Alessandra since she was a baby."

"Yes, and I've also helped raising her, like we all did, and I never thought she would've--"

"We don't know what happened yet," Leo keeps voicing rationality, despite Blaine's clear not wanting to listen to it, "For all we know it could've been Tammy suggesting it."

"My daughter could never...!"

"Blaine, I beg of you," Leo sighs, passing his hands over his own face, wearily, "Let's try and not be morons. We have to protect our daughter, and protecting her, believe me, passes through protecting Alex too, whether you believe she might be to blame for this or not. We must make sure no one knows about this."

Blaine looks down, exhaling deeply. "Someone could already know."

"What do you mean?" Leo asks, frowning.

"Cody," Blaine sighs, "If not Vince too, at least Cody might know. You know how connected Alex and him are."

"Absolute nonsense," Leo shakes his head resolutely, "It's impossible. He would've told me."

"He wouldn't have, to protect his daughter."

"Anderson," Leo reiterates firmly, and Blaine doesn't miss the pinch of annoyance tinging his voice. Leo tends to be extremely touchy whenever Cody or their relationship are concerned. "I'm telling you, if my parabatai had known a thing about this, he would've told me right away".

"Alright, alright," Blaine concedes, "Then what do we do about it.?"

"We tell him, obviously."

"So much for keeping it a secret."

"Anderson," Leo starts, and Blaine lifts both his hands in mid-air in surrender, to stop the sermon on how important honesty is between parabatai before it can even begin.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he says with a sigh, "It's not that I don't trust him."

"No, that is exactly the problem, right now," Leo insists sternly, "You don't trust him because you don't trust us, and you don't trust Tammy and Alex, and you wouldn't trust Jonathan Shadowhunter and David the Silent if they suddenly appeared in front of you, because you're biased when parabatai are involved."

"It's not a bias if you've seen firsthand what such a relationship can do to people."

"Blaine."

"No," Blaine shakes his head, insisting, "You know I'm right. You said it yourself. Things are always too intense and tend to spiral out of control. Frankly, I think it's ridiculous we're still following a tradition that ends up breaking more hearts than it mends. I don't even see the point of--"

"The point is some of us need it, Anderson!" Leo finally shouts, "Some of us aren't made to withstand all in life by ourselves, some of us need something else to cling to, and that someone else--"

"Cannot be a spouse?" Blaine interjects provocatively.

Leo clutches his fists, and Blaine can see fire dancing in the back of his eyes. He knows there's a battle going on within his husband, a battle between the necessity to answer him rationally and responsibly and the bare need to answer him defiantly just to spite him.

He decides to spite him, in the end.

"A wedding can be over at any time. The parabatai bond is forever." He pauses for a moment and he looks so angry Blaine could be scared of him. "And if you don't want to put my belief to the test, you better shut your fucking mouth about it right the fuck now."

He rationally knows all this fighting is useless. That antagonizing Leo on the topic won't bring them anything good -- they don't need to be torn apart, right now, they need to be united.

And so he decides to put aside his utter inability in understanding this bond he's never felt the necessity of, and sighs, holding out his arms towards Leo as a humble request of truce.

"Please, forgive me," he says. Leo looks at him angrily for a few seconds, trying to decide between stubbornly keeping to himself or giving in. Thanks to the Angel, he gives in, and Blaine welcomes him in his arms and holds him tight, breathing through his hair. "Let's not fight."

"No," Leo concedes with a sigh of his own, "One thing at a time. Let me call Cody. Let's talk with him. Then we'll take care of Tammy."

Blaine just nods, deciding it's best to let Leo take the decisions, for now. He doesn't trust himself doing it.

*

Watching Leo call on to Cody is always at the same time fascinating and deeply disturbing. They've always called on each other like that, and only one time Blaine dared suggesting they could pick up a phone and ring one another instead: his suggestion was met with raised eyebrows and Leo's voice, already crackling with building tension, telling him in the most nonchalant of tones that they preferred to do it this way. Which was a very polite way to tell him to butt the fuck out of things he shouldn't stick his nose into.

This is the reason why he doesn't get the parabatai bond at all. It's something so absolute and exclusive not even the people who feel it can explain to someone else. How is somebody who never felt that kind of pull supposed to ever understand it, if those who feel it are unable to put it into words?

Plus, they're all so annoyingly protective of it. It's ridiculous. Every time they feel touched by someone else's remark about the way they conduct themselves, they wrap around their bond as if it was something fragile, porcelain-like, that needed protection at all costs from those who can't handle it. Well, Blaine finds that extremely funny, in a mean way. Why do they even feel the need to be so protective of something supposedly indestructible?

Leo's sitting down on the couch, now, his eyes closed, not as if he was overly focusing on something, but as if he was readying himself to enjoy something particularly good, like a glass of aged wine or some particularly ripe fruit.

It happens in an instant, and that will never cease to shock him. One moment Leo's sitting on the couch in perfect silence, his expression unreadable, the next his lips are curling upwards in a satisfied smile. And in five minutes there's someone knocking at the door, and by the way Leo springs to his feet it's obvious it's Cody.

Sure, proximity between their houses makes it easier to deal with how short a time Cody actually needs to launch himself at his parabatai's home when summoned, but it does nothing to water down the belief, deeply rooted within Blaine's soul, that there must be something unnatural at the core of this, something unnatural for sure, to draw to people so violently and hopelessly towards one another.

And he knows he's probably being blasphemous by thinking that - after all, the parabatai bond is not only accepted in their community, but valued, even, as a privileged source of power - but it's not something he feels inclined to change, right now. Maybe Leo's right, maybe he really is biased when it comes to parabatai.

But his best friend lost everything because of that bond. Lost his sanity, his runes, his very own birthright. How could he not look suspiciously at it?

Leo opens the door and finds Cody behind it. He cannot even suppress the smile that's dancing on his lips, despite the tragic nature of the moment, and Blaine's instantly reminded of the fact that he was wearing the very same smile the day Cody knocked on the Institute's door wearing ragged clothes and holding a dirty bag with more ragged clothes inside and what was left of a plushie bunny that was probably older than him. Leo was six and his his eyes made overly clear that he had never seen anything more fitting to his being before. Like he was the hand and Cody the glove especially cut and sewn together to cover it.

Blaine remembers watching them move one towards the other, and smelling trouble. And back then Alan and Jesse weren't even a thing yet. There was no bias within him back then, and still he knew he should beware of what was happening in front of his eyes.

"You called?" Cody asks, smiling gently. The curve of his lips redefine the shapes of things around them. Blaine doesn't think he will ever be able to get used to Cody's appearance. With those straight dark hair, baby blue eyes, pale skin and cherry red lips, he's probably as close as he can to look like an angel without being one or turning into a provocation in the eyes of angels themselves.

"Come in," Leo simply says, "We've got something to tell you."

"Now that worries me," Cody says, following him inside. There's a tension in his voice and features that Blaine cannot miss. He instantly knows for a fact that Cody must've sensed there's something wrong. Maybe not what is actually wrong, but that something isn't working as it should, that he already knows. And he must've read it... how? Blaine doesn't know. He doesn't know what it means to be connected so deeply to someone else as to feel what they feel without even having to touch them or look at them.

They sit down on the couches in the sitting room, Blaine and Leo on the bigger one on one side of the coffee table, Cody on the smaller one opposite to them. When Blaine looks at him, for a second awkwardness overwhelms him, and he's left wondering how are they ever going to break to this man the news that his only daughter is breaking the law by having intimate relations with her parabatai.

Then Leo solves it by just spitting it out.

"We saw Alex in bed with Tammy," he simply says, "They looked like they were messing around."

It seems so simple if put down like this. Blaine doesn't know if he would've managed to pull it off the same way. He'd have probably started with a whole digression on the importance of not breaking the Law and following it even against one's heart's desires. He guesses this must be one of the perks of being bonded for life through each other's souls. Cody doesn't need Leo to show care in telling him something, he just knows Leo cares, period.

Cody reacts to the news by tensing all over. His eyes turn for a moment into bottomless empty wells, and that's how Blaine knows he really didn't know what was going on. But he also doesn't jump up denying everything and demanding to see the kids right now -- and that's how Blaine knows that he suspected it.

"You knew," he says. He didn't want to say it like that, it just came out that way. He curses himself right after the words have left his lips, but it's too late to take them back.

"I didn't," Cody replies. He looks down, and he seems hurt by Blaine's accusation.

"I'm sorry," he says in a sigh, "I didn't want it to sound like that. It's just... I know you suspected it. Your reaction tells me so."

"Blaine, I told you," Leo says angrily, "He doesn't--"

"I did suspect," Cody admits. Leo turns to look at him, wide-eyed and speechless. Cody looks back at him with a silent apology in his eyes. "I wanted to see if it would go away on its own, like it did for us. They could get over it and there wouldn't be a reason to come to you with it, then."

Leo holds his breath for a second. His eyes speak of betrayal and pain. "I can't believe you'd suspect something like this and not want to share it with me..." he says, his voice suspended like a walker on a tightrope.

"I didn't wanna worry you," Cody says, looking down, "I know I made a mistake. Maybe if I told..." he sighs, shaking his head, "I didn't wanna think about it. Alex is still so young, she--"

"Tammy isn't young," Blaine stops him, looking sternly at him. He doesn't want to be hard on Cody, but the situation demands him to be. He needs to handle this, and since he doesn't even know how yet he can only try and cope with it through hardness. Being hard on himself. Being hard on Cody and Leo. Being hard on the kids. Hoping that if he acts hard enough he'll toughen up and he'll be able to find the strength to do what must be done, if it ever comes to that.

By the Angel, the mere idea breaks his heart into a million pieces.

He thought he wouldn't have to do something like that ever again. He thought crushing a life would be enough for a lifetime, but no, here comes the time he might have to crush another, and his daughter's, to boot.

He doesn't know if he can make it.

"What do you mean with that?" Leo turns to look at him, and there's coldness in his eyes, coldness and actual fear. "What do you mean she isn't young?"

"I mean this might not be a youth mistake," Blaine says, looking away, "She's nineteen. She knows what she's doing."

"She clearly doesn't, or she wouldn't be putting herself and Alex at risk," Leo protests, outraged, "They're not doing this on purpose, Blaine."

"You don't know that."

"Please, don't fight," Cody pleads softly. They both turn towards him, finding him looking back at them both with liquid eyes. "Please. Blaine," and he looks at him specifically, "I know what you're thinking about."

"He isn't," Leo instantly says, reading what he means in his voice, "He won't do it."

"Maybe he won't, but he is thinking about it," Cody insists, "And all I ask you to do is pause for a moment. We're talking about my daughter."

"And ours," Blaine points out, frowning.

"Yes, but maybe your daughter is a sacrifice you can make on the altar of the Law. Mine isn't," Cody replies. His voice is not defiant, there's pain coursing through it like blood through the veins, but still Blaine stands up, enraged and outraged.

"How dare you speak of what sacrifice I'm ready or willing or able to make?!" he yells in Cody's face.

Cody keeps not looking at him. "I said maybe," he says.

"I don't even care!" Blaine screams again, "This isn't about sacrifice, this is about the Law, and if it's been broken--"

"Please, let me speak to Alex first!" Cody yells back, standing up too, facing Blaine stubbornly despite the difference in their height and size, "I only ask of you that you let me speak with her first!"

"Of course he's gonna let you speak with your daughter, Cody!" Leo jumps on his feet again, placing himself in between them, one hand on Blaine's chest, the other on Cody's. "And he's going to speak with ours too. We really don't want this to get anywhere it's not supposed to be." He looks at Blaine for a moment, hoping his determination passes through - it does, but Blaine doesn't know if it's going to be enough -, and then he turns to Cody, hoping to reassure him. "We can solve this between us. Okay? Just go home. Talk to Alex. Let's all do our part to make this right."

If someone had told Blaine years ago that there'd come a time in which Leo would've been the voice of reason, he'd have laughed out loud. Leo's always been unbalanced, to put it mildly. Too aggressive during fights, too passionate with his affections, too hasty in his decisions, too much of everything, really.

(Too young to fall in love with his teacher, for example.)

(And damn too clingy with his parabatai.)

And yet, today, he's the one trying to calm them down, trying to suggest rational solutions, as opposed to Cody's scared defensiveness and Blaine's continuous screaming. His husband's putting him to shame. And he's never been more glad to have him.

Yes, he must speak with Tammy. He must see this thing clearly. Tammy will surely tell him-- he doesn't know what his daughter will tell him, really. But he knows she will explain herself, given the chance to.

He lowers his arms and nods slowly, breathing in and out slowly. "Yes. Of course," he nods again, "Cody, I'm sorry for raising my voice."

"No, please," Cody shakes his head so fast his hair fly around his head in all directions, "I'm the one who's sorry. I'll try to do my best with Alex." Then he'll turn to Leo. "I'll... I'll reach out for you later."

It's always reaching out between them. Never calling, never meeting, never seeing, always reaching out. As if any kind of contact between them had to pass through a physical stretch.

He wonders how much of that is true for Tammy and Alex, too. And to which degree.

*

When he opens the door, Tammy looks feral. Her hair is messy and knotted and she looks like she's tried to sneak out the window only to find out it was locked shut. The consequence of which has been thrashing her room. The two bookshelves originally hanging from the wall above her desk have been ripped from the wall and are now lying on the floor, each broken in half, books scattered everywhere. The mattress has been sent flying across the room, all the drawers are open wide with clothes and underwear pouring out of them like lava from a volcano, and the windowpane is cracked.

Thankfully, it's been runed not to give in. Blaine took care of that years ago for the first time, and he keeps repeating the ritual regularly for protection -- he never thought it'd serve to keep Tammy in, instead of keeping her safe from someone else coming from the outside.

The moment she sees him, his daughter launches herself at him, her arms outstretched, her fingers curled as if she was baring her claws. She goes for his eyes -- Blaine doesn't know how serious her threat is, but he grabs her by her wrists nonetheless, stopping her. "Tamara Anderson Karofsky-Hummel!" he yells, outraged, pushing her back into the room as he kicks the door closed, "You're going to calm down right now!"

"How dare you keep me locked in here?!" she screams out at the top of her lungs, so completely freaked out by the fact that her own father, a man who had shown her nothing but affection and respect up to now, could do something like this to her, that she isn't even asking to be let out anymore, she just demands an explanation. "Seriously, are you crazy?! I've been in here for hours!"

"You've been in here for an hour," Blaine corrects her, pushing her towards the bed. When he realizes he can't have her sit on her bare bedsprings, he pushes her the opposite direction, towards the chair in front of her desk, and sits her there, pressing both hands on her shoulders to force her to comply. She resists - of course she resists - but he wins the fight. "Tammy, we need to talk."

"No, you need to let me out of here," here she is, his precious daughter, back again, furious, wild, but in control, "And I need to go find Alex. You have no idea what you've done."

"I'm pretty sure I have a perfectly good idea of what I did."

"No, you don't!" she yells, looking up at him, "You don't know how much time it took me to finally make her feel safe and confident enough to--"

"I don't want to know about that."

"You shouldn't have fucking interfered, then!"

"Tamara, please," Blaine sighs, pinching at the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes in frustration, "We seriously need to talk. I promise I'll let you out of the room once we've talked."

She snorts through her nose, crossing her arms over her chest. Despite the closed-off attitude, her shoulders relax a little and she lies back against the chair, shrugging her hair off her shoulders. "Fine," she huffs, "Speak."

Blaine half-sits on the edge of the desk, which creaks a little under his weight. That's uncommon, and he removes himself from it right away, looking at it. There's no visible crack, but it seems fragile. "Did you break it, Tammy?"

"I kicked it and punched it, but as you can see it's still standing, so no, I haven't broken it. Yet." She snorts again, "Is that all you wanted to know?"

"No," Blaine shakes his head and goes back facing her, trying not to be too bothered by her behavior. "No, I want to know about Alex. How long has this been going on?"

Tammy shrugs, looking away. "We've been messing around for a while."

"A while meaning weeks? Months?"

"Years."

Blaine pauses, holding his breath. "Tammy, Alex is only fifteen."

Tammy looks up at him defiantly, a vague, distant spark of guilt at the bottom of her clear blue eyes, completely overshadowed by a naked affirmation of possess that's firing her up like electricity. "Years," she repeats.

Blaine swallows and tries to stop thinking about that.

"Listen to me," he says, "And answer honestly. This is very important." He breathes in and out, slowly. "Did you cross the line with her already? Did you have sex already?"

"That's a blurry line to cross for two girls," Tammy says, raising an eyebrow.

"You know what I mean," Blaine insists, frowning.

Tammy waves her hand in mid-air, grumbling. "Not yet," she admits, "But believe me, it's not as important as you think."

"I will be the judge of that," Blaine nods. He decides that it's exactly as important as he thinks. And also that it represents a sparkle of hope he cannot ignore. "Alright, there's a story I need to tell you."

Tammy turns to look at him with a ridiculously annoyed expression on her face. "Dad...!" she whines, "Are you even serious? I'm not five anymore!"

"This isn't a bedtime story, Tammy," he answers, and then sighs. "It's actually the truth about something you already know of. Something I should've maybe told you long ago. Keeping quiet was my mistake, but now you need to know." He takes a deep breath and wishes he could've marked himself with Fortitude before he walked in here. Tammy's features relax, though, and he takes that as an invitation to go on. He doesn't miss the chance. "Do you remember Alan?"

Tammy's eyes go dark again. "You know very well I do," she says, "It broke my heart when he left."

When Tammy was very young, Alan and her spent a lot of time together. By then, Blaine was already Head of the Institute, and Alan had enough time to spare to take care of her whenever Blaine couldn't. They had grown up together, Alan and him, and Blaine would've trusted him with his own life. His daughter's was just a step above it, but Blaine would've trusted him with it nonetheless - and he did.

They seemed to connect in a way that was almost impossible for Blaine to fully understand. (That seems to keep happening to him, over and over again.) Alan could see through Tammy's moods, he could always calm her down. Whenever she was too restless, and she was that a lot, Alan was the only one who managed to tame her back to compliance.

He wonders now if maybe that was another sign he should've noticed in time. Perhaps their connection, apparently so unexplainable, was motivated by a common destiny Blaine couldn't see but should've guessed. To spare Tammy and himself the heartache.

"He didn't exactly leave," he says. He wishes he could look at his daughter in the eyes, now, unashamed, but that would only be possible if there wasn't an ounce of shame in him. And even though he recognizes that he did what was necessary, and even though he knows he would do it again if he was given the chance, he cannot say that there is not an ounce of shame in himself. Because there is. "Alan fell in love with his parabatai. With Jesse."

Tammy opens her eyes wide, her mouth hanging open for a moment. She's probably trying to reconcile the picture of a loving parabatai with the mental image she has of Jesse as he knows him now: a young man Leo's age with empty eyes and a lifeless smile, going through the motions every day of his life as if nothing mattered. They still see him, every now and then -- Leo keeps visiting him, mostly, but it's like something got broken inside Jesse the day he lost Alan. Perhaps something really did - other than their bond, of course. That got broken for good, the moment Alan was stripped of his marks and became a mundane.

"How... " Tammy exhales breathlessly. Then she stops. Reconsiders what her father just told her and frowns. "What happened to him?"

Here comes the hard part.

"I found out," Blaine confesses, "I saw them. They had crossed the line... repeatedly. And they weren't going to stop." He looks up at his daughter and searches for solace in her eyes, for some sort of sign that she's aware of what he's trying to tell her. "I asked them. Begged them. Reminded them that what they were doing was forbidden and it had to stop, that their lives were at stake. That something horrible would've happened for sure if they went on like that. But Alan..." he sighs, looking down again, "Instead, he asked me to keep it a secret. On account of a shared lifetime, he begged me to keep quiet about it. But... on account of that very same shared lifetime, I couldn't. I had to protect them-- their souls, at least. Since they wouldn't take care of them by themselves, I had to do it in their stead."

Tammy holds her breath. She also clutches her hands in fists down her sides. Blaine only then notices that they're scratched and there are traces of blood on her knuckles.

"You reported them," she says, "To the Inquisitor. You reported them and they got tried and that's why..." she brings both her hands to her mouth. Her eyes are filled with horror, and Blaine's heart is beating faster than it should.

"Alan took the blame..." Blaine explains, he's not even sure why. Something in Tammy's eyes is upsetting him. It's like something got lost in his daughter's eyes, the way she looks at him has changed and there's an unsettling feeling rooted deep within Blaine's heart telling him it's an irreversible change. "Because he was older than Jesse, you know. He said it was him, that he corrupted him. So they let Jesse go, but he got punished." He stops and reaches out for Tammy's hands. He grabs them nervously, holds them in his own, squeezes them. "I don't want that to happen to you, powder puff. Please, listen to me. Stop while you're still in time."

She breaks away from him in a sudden, violent gesture. She moves so fast and steps so far back she almost hits the wall with her shoulders. She keeps looking at him like that -- like the man she was looking at wasn't her father anymore.

"I can't believe it," she whispers, "I can't believe you would do something like that. I can't believe you would do it to anyone and I can't believe you would do it to me."

"I don't want to do it, Tamara," Blaine tries to get close to her again, but she presses her back so hard against the wall it seems like she's begging it to absorb her, and Blaine stops trying, because if his daughter prefers the cold hardness of a wall to his arms then they've got a problem proximity can't solve. "Tammy," he says, "I will have to do it if you don't stop. Please don't force me to."

"No one's forcing you to do anything, dad!"

"You are!" Blaine raises his voice too, frightened and frustrated, "You're putting yourself in danger, and--"

"Dad," Tammy interrupts him by raising a hand. Two fingers stretched upwards, the others curled against her palm. The gesture is so unexpectedly authoritative it gives him pause. His little girl's all grown up. He wonders if there is still something he can do to stop her. "Dad, this is only as dangerous as you're gonna make it. I love Alex. I love her more than I can stand, at times. I love her to the point it's breaking me. I have to give in to it, or I will lose my sanity."

Blaine tries to say something. Beg her, maybe. Anything to make her change her mind.

Something else comes out his lips. "You might have already lost it," he says.

And Tammy. She just nods. "It wouldn't surprise me," she says, "But it is what it is. And there's nothing I can do about it, any more than you can."

He wonders for a moment what is he supposed to do with something like that. What does it even mean? What is Tammy trying to tell him? That he should give up? That she's already made up her mind and... what? That she'll put her own life and Alex's at risk no matter what he does or say?

"You're going to stop this nonsense right now," he says darkly, looking at her.

She frowns deeply. "I just told you I won't."

"You're going to listen to me, Tamara."

"No, I won't!"

"I'm trying to protect you!"

"No, you're not listening to me!" she faces him stubbornly, shouting in him face, "I don't want your protection! Your idea of protection makes me sick to my stomach!"

"Don't you dare, young lady!" he grabs her by her shoulder and pushes her into the wall. Since she likes it so much, he thinks, since she prefers it to him, she might as well feel the hard blow of its surface against her bones. "You're going to do as you're told, or else--"

"Go ahead, dad!" she frees herself from his hold with an imperious move, pushing him back. He trips over something - a book, a broken shelf - and falls back against the bedsprings. He props himself up on his elbows, looking up at her, and she's a different person too. He supposes he's looking at her, now, as she was looking at him just minutes before. "Do your worst," she says, looking down at him with real fire in her eyes, real cruelty, "I dare you."

Blaine never thought that something so powerful, something so primordial as what bound him to his daughter could shatter in such a little time. He guesses they really are right when they say there's nothing as strong as the parabatai bond.

He stands up and doesn't even look at her in her eyes. She stands her ground, doesn't even move away to let him pass by. He almost has to shove her out of the way. He gets to the door and locks her right back in, and she doesn't plead to be freed, she doesn't complain, she's not a kid fighting with her dad, she's a woman at war, and their house is under siege.

Blaine just heads down the stairs, his mind completely empty. His judgement is clouded right now, he knows that, but he can't stop, he won't stop. He barely hears Leo asking him what's happened, what's wrong, why doesn't he speak. The answers to those questions are irrelevant, the only question worth a damn is does his daughter deserve to be reported to the Inquisitor?, and the only correct answer to that question is yes.

He walks out in the street. Alicante climbs upon its hill and he does the same, headed for the Gard.

He doesn't feel fatigue.

He doesn't feel the passing of time.

He barely even feels anything that isn't pain.

But he gets there. He gets to the Gard. He gets to the door of the Inquisitor's office. He struggles, struggles to get over his pain too.

He stops there. And then he swallows, ready for the next step.