libri: sebastian verlac

Le nuove storie sono in alto.

Storia appartenente alla serie City of Hidden Houses, scritta in coppia con Tabata.
Genere: Drammatico, Introspettivo.
Pairing: Jace/Sebastian, Jace/Clary, Sebastian/Clary.
Rating: PG-13.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, What If?, Angst, (somewhat) Incest, Death, Spoiler, Het.
- It's been almost a month since Sebastian broke free from the Gard and killed the Seelie Queen, putting an end to the Seelie War, and it's been a couple of weeks since the events that saw him get pardoned at the Hall of the Accord for the service he had unknowingly offered to the Nephilim. Jace hasn't gone back once to the Institute, yet, still angry at Alec for being unable to understand what he's doing and why. Sebastian doesn't mind spending time with his brother, though, especially since sharing a house lets him free to finally ask him something he's wanted to know about since Clary died.
Note: Mai perdere la speranza sulla mia capacità di aggiornare storie dopo una vita e mezzo. Visto? La nuova shot di City of Hidden Houses è qui! Una shot scemina e brevina in cui finalmente si parla del funerale di Clary, questo enorme non detto che ci impediva di proseguire con tutte le cose assurde che devono ancora accadere in questa serie. Ebbene, siamo pronti ad andare.
Scritta per la seconda settimana del COW-T #5, Missione 1, che prevedeva la presenza di due warning a scelta fra slash, het e femslash. Mi pare ovvio quali ho scelto.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Sebastian always knows when his brother’s around. It’s not just a feeling, though there’s usually some vague itching underneath his skin whenever Jace’s close, and it’s not just a physical sensation, though he can smell him, oh, he can, and he can sense how the air shapes itself differently when it’s got to welcome his body. It’s some sort of deep knowledge, a thread that’s always connecting them, that he can always follow, and at the end of which he’s always certain he’ll find him.

He comes back home, and the moment he passes through the door he knows Jace is still here.

His lips curl into a smile he himself isn’t aware of, as he takes off his jacket and drops the keys on the table in the hall, making sure to be as noisy as he possibly can, to see if Jace will answer the calling and show up. He doesn’t: either he’s sleeping, or he’s busy, or he wants to be found.

Sebastian enjoys running after him, he’d be lying if he said he doesn’t. Time and closeness are working their magic on them, tying them together and keeping them out of harm’s way. There’s a distant sensation lingering in the back of his mind, the idea that, at some point, all these tiny bits of happiness, all these tiny bits of serenity they’re stealing from a reality that doesn’t offer any will come back to haunt them, and they’ll have to pay back with interests for that unauthorized loan. But for now, that moment is far away. It might even never come.

They’re playing hide and seek with pain. For now, they’re winning. That’s more than could be said up to just a month ago. If Jace wants to play the mouse to his cat for an afternoon, or even all the afternoons of their life together, for that matter, Sebastian’s more than willing to chase him.

He walks to the kitchen, because he’s hungry. He’s been out running all morning. The dimensional apartment opened its door near the Thames, today. Sebastian felt like enjoying London’s gray, damp, thick dawn air slapping him in the face as he ran, so he put on his gear and walked out. He’s been trying to keep himself in shape. Years locked up in the Gard haven’t worked well on him. He’s full of energy he needs to disperse, somehow, and Jace cannot help with all of it.

Running feels good, better than exercising, almost as good as sparring. As he crossed the Millennium Bridge, he stopped for a moment, running on the spot, looking at the river down below, looking at it as it flowed slow and peaceful, seemingly without an end, and he experienced a moment of perfect peace, and he smiled. And he thought he wanted to see Jace, to share this with him. And then he felt hungry, as people who’ve been struggling for months do when the struggle stops, and he decided it was time to go back home.

He felt lighter. Lighter than he ever felt.

This is the path, he thinks as he grabs an apple, washes it and starts eating it in hungry bites. This is the path. Much like with the Thames, he can’t see the end of it, but he knows it’s safe to flow that way.

He walks through the house, looking through every door as he passes by, waiting for his eyes to meet his brother’s figure. He finds him in the bedroom, bare-chest, busy looking at a mark upon his forearm, right below his inner elbow.

It’s a red mark.

Sebastian stops on the door, looking at him. “Hey,” he says, to catch his attention.

Jace looks up and towards him, his lips curling into a vague smile. He looks like he’s been crying, though his eyes are dry, now. Sebastian swallows, lowering the apple. He’s never going to get used to see him this fragile. And he’s seen him fragile, over time. He’s seen him battered and broken along the way – he’s seen him, because he was the one breaking him, and then staying after the show was over to enjoy the sight – but he’s never seen him as devastated as he is when he thinks about Clary.

“Hey,” Jace says. He reaches over to grab his shirt at the end of the bed, but Sebastian stops him, shaking his head.

“There’s no need,” he says, walking in, “Did you just wake up?”

“Yep,” Jace nods, sitting more comfortably on the bed, crossing his legs and leaning on his bended knees with both elbows, “I was sleepy.”

“You’re always sleepy,” Sebastian sighs, sitting in front of him. He doesn’t want to ask the question, but he will. “Any news from the Institute?”

Jace hasn’t gone back yet, since the Hall of the Accords. Sebastian highly doubts he and Lightwood even spoke. And he sure hasn’t seen his son either. Something that definitely needs fixing as soon as possible.

“No,” Jace answers with half a smile, “Why?”

“For all you know, they could be all dead,” Sebastian points out, looking sternly at him.

Jace averts his eyes, the shadow of a smile still lingering on his lips. “I’d know, if something bad had happened.”

“That’s not the point.”

“I don’t care for the point.” Jace turns to look at him. He’s not angry, not even annoyed. He does look tired, though. Sebastian sighs. “Come here,” Jace pleads, reaching out for him.

Sebastian moves on the mattress, sitting closer. “You’ll need to come back, at some point,” he says.

“Are you worried about me?” Jace chuckles, amused.

“I am,” Sebastian answers. He’s being as honest as he possibly can without giving his heart away entirely. And he would do that too, if he only believed Jace strong enough to hold it in his hands without letting it slip. He isn’t, yet, so Sebastian must hold back. But he’s never been one to hold back his feelings. He knows, at some point, he’ll have to pour everything he has out on Jace. He’ll have to, just because he won’t be able to push it down anymore. By then, he hopes Jace is ready to handle it.

Jace smiles again, leaning in, pressing his lips against Sebastian’s. “You needn’t be,” he says, “I’m fine.”

“Please,” Sebastian groans, moving away.

“No, I’m serious,” Jace chuckles again, “I’m content. This is one of the good days.”

“You were crying,” Sebastian replies. He looks at him straight in his eyes, so Jace knows he can’t lie. ‘Cause he will read it on his face, if he does.

Jace smiles softly. “I was,” he nods, “I was also staring at this,” he adds, showing the red mark. It’s a mourning rune. “And thinking about her.”

Sebastian tenses, gritting his teeth. Despite sharing the same kind of loss, Jace and him are facing it in two very different ways. Mainly because of the fact that Jace saw her die but could do nothing to avenge her. Sebastian did exactly the opposite, and so, of course, peace came first for him. Knowing he did all he could possibly do, knowing that blood has been spilt to make up for his beloved sister’s, knowing he was the one spilling that blood, that it was him who avenged her, gifted him with peace of mind. Something Jace cannot afford to give in to just yet.

“Would you look at me?” Jace asks in a soft whisper. Sebastian sighs and does it. “You don’t have to handle me as if I was made of crystal,” he says, “I already told you. I’m fine with you overwhelming me. I want you to. So stop holding back as if you were a prince and me the damsel in distress that needed rescuing, I can assure you the descriptions don’t fit reality at all.”

“I could argue about you not being in need of rescue,” Sebastian sighs again, passing a hand over his forehead, “I could list a few occasions in which—”

“You’re not listening to me,” Jace insists, pressing a hand over his mouth, “I’m telling you. You’re not here to keep me under a glass dome, and I’m not here to shelter myself from pain behind you. I’m here to share. To share everything. So what if I cried— the person I loved most in the entire world died.” His voice breaks a little and Sebastian holds his breath. “I have a right to cry, and so have you. To cry or… whatever you want, really.” He lowers his hand, breathing in and out in relief.

Sebastian moves on his knees, crawling towards him. He presses his lips against his brother’s and kisses him slowly, feeling him tremble lightly for a few seconds, before calming down. He keeps kissing him until he’s alright again, and then sits back, as close to him as he possibly can without having to share the same spot on the bed.

“There is something I’d like for you to share with me,” he says, looking at him. Jace looks back, his lips curling into a vague smile, inviting him to speak out. “The funeral. I asked to be there, but I wasn’t granted permission. I said goodbye alone in my cell and I couldn’t even see her one last time.” He lowers his eyes, swallowing silently. “Can you tell me how it was?”

“I might not be the best person to give you an answer,” Jace says with an apologetic smile, “I wasn’t completely aware of what was happening. But I do remember a few things. I can just tell you those, if it’s okay.”

Sebastian just nods. There’s nobody else he’d ever ask the question to anyway. Nobody except Jace could ever tell him.

“I remember the people,” Jace starts out. His voice is thin, almost distant. Sebastian doesn’t even need to close his eyes to imagine the crowd, Nephilim coming from all corners of Idris, all corners of the world. His sister was a hero to as many as he was the Devil for. “For as far as my eyes could see, it was an ocean of white. I think most of them were crying. She wasn’t just a woman anymore, you know?” Sebastian can feel the smile in his brother’s voice. It hurts more than it would as if he simply cried. “She was an idea. A symbol. Hope itself incarnated. People came to mourn her, and to celebrate her too. I think… if she could’ve chosen, that’s what she would’ve wanted for her funeral. That she could be remembered, more than cried upon. That she could be remembered for what she had tried to do, if not for what she had done.”

Sebastian bites at his bottom lip, reaching out for Jace’s hand. He holds it in his own and squeezes it. He can’t speak a single word, because he knows if he spoke he’d start crying.

“Should I stop?” Jace asks softly. Sebastian shakes his head. “Okay,” his brother nods, “But come over here. Let me hold you.”

“I don’t need a hug,” Sebastian spits out, holding back the tears but unable to hide the trembling sound of his voice.

“No,” Jace says, “I do.”

Sebastian’s body moves forward in a swift, quick movement. He wraps his arms around Jace’s shoulders, holding him tight. He feels every single bone of his body pressed hard against every single bone of his own. It hurts like hell, and yet he couldn’t do without.

“Do you wanna hear about her?” Jace asks softly. Sebastian nods. “She was so beautiful. You remember her, don’t you? She was as beautiful as she had been in life. Her skin so pale, her hair alight like flames. There was a beautiful sun shining on the cemetery, that day. It made them shine. Do you remember how they used to shine in the sunlight?”

“Yes,” Sebastian says. Jace’s voice is a claw, a pointy, sharp claw digging its way underneath his skin. It’s the venomous tip of an arrow coursing through his body, carried by his blood, aiming for his heart. It’s painful, it’s a torment. Has he ever suffered this much? He must’ve. He’s felt the Heavenly Fire burning through him. He felt the deep desperation and loneliness coming from losing a sister and not being able to do anything to bring her back. He must’ve felt pain, but all pain pales in front of what he feels listening to Jace talking about her, and about her last goodbye.

“She had her eyes covered with white silk,” Jace goes on, his voice dripping tenderness, “Her freckles seemed to roll down her nose as children down a hill in the summer. She was an ode to beauty, she was poetry. Death had done nothing to compromise her. I knew there had to be wounds, but I could see none. The seraph blade she held in her hand cast milky beams of light all over her face. Her skin was so perfect she almost looked as if she was still alive.” He stops for a second, sighing deeply. “I was crying so hard. And yet, I couldn’t make a sound. ‘Cause, you know, she looked so peaceful. I didn’t want to disturb her, I guess.”

“Stop,” Sebastian struggles to say. He feels awful. He feels like drowning. He holds onto Jace as if they were lost at sea and only he could bring him safely back ashore.

Jace instantly shuts his mouth and holds his breath. He rubs Sebastian’s back with his own hand and breathes softly into his ear. “I’m sorry,” he says after a little while, “See? It’s not me who needs to be protected, Sebastian. I wish I had something more than pain to give you, but it’s all I’ve got now. It’s all I can give. I love you,” he says, his voice breaking a little, “But right now pain is all I have for you, brother.”

Sebastian bites at his lips again, pressing his face against the curve of his neck. He cries loudly, his shoulders shaking with sobs. This crying thing, it’s such a mystery. It always comes in waves. He can feel perfectly happy one moment, like this morning on the Millennium Bridge, and then something happens, and suddenly all he can feel is despair. And when it’s over he can be happy again. Though he knows it’s just temporary.

“I said a few words,” Jace reprises, speaking soothingly under his breath, “Though, if you asked me to recall what I actually said, I couldn’t come up with anything. I don’t know. It’s all foggy. I remember speaking while looking at her, and words came out my mouth but all I wanted to say was goodbye. So, when I was done talking, I walked to her. I wanted to kiss her, but I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t have left her if I had kissed her again. So I just whispered her my goodbye, and then I backed away.”

“Did you see her?” Sebastian sobs, his voice louder than he’d wanted it to be, “Did— Did you see her burn?”

Jace nods, slowly. “I did,” he says, “I stood by her until she was dust and shadow. And then I followed her, together with the others, as she was put into the urn and buried into the Fairchild tomb. It felt like she was still there with me. As I walked away, I didn’t feel alone. Sebastian,” he backs away a little, holding his brother’s face in his hands and looking at him, “Listen to me. There are times in which I feel alone, and everything is painful ‘cause everything reminds me of her. Sometimes I hate her for leaving me behind, but she didn’t.” He holds Sebastian’s hand, brings it to his own arm, over the red mourning mark. “She hasn’t. She’s with me at all times. And she’s with you, too.”

“No,” Sebastian shakes his head, trying to pull away, “No, Jace, she isn’t.”

“She is,” he insists, squeezing his hand to make it impossible for him to move too far, “I’m telling you. She is. ‘Cause she never gave up on you. Can’t you see? She could’ve killed you. But she cleansed you. She saved you, Sebastian, as she saved me. That’s why she’s always with us. Because— Because through everything, Sebastian, she always reached out for us, and I can’t imagine— I can’t believe that, even now, she isn’t. That’s how I know that she’s always with me. The mark… it’s just a reminder.”

Sebastian’s sobbing subsides as he pulls away his hand from his brother’s arm, and looks at the rune. He knows it’s just a reminder, but he wants it too. He needs it too. He believes Jace’s words, if Jace says Clary’s with them it must be true – he needs it to be true, what’s the point of having avenged her if he cannot have her love? In death, if not in life – but he needs something physical, something to look at, something to cling to. Jace alone is not enough. And he shouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t be right to ask him to be.

So he pulls up his sleeve, showing his forearm. He looks at his brother, tears quickly drying in his eyes. “I want the mark too,” he says, “I want you to do it.”

Jace looks at him silently for a few seconds, before nodding. He reaches for his clothes, orderly folded on an armchair next to the bed, and retrieves his stele. He holds Sebastian by his wrist, looking down at his pale skin. “Your skin looks exactly like Clary’s,” he says in a whisper, as if amazed at himself for only noticing now. Then his lips curl into a tiny smile. “This is the first one, right?” he asks, “The first mark after you’ve been freed.”

Sebastian nods slowly, looking down at his arm too. It’s covered in white marks, the shadows of his old runes. He wasn’t giving any importance to the fact of being marked again, up until a minute ago, but Jace’s words force him to. “Yes,” he says. Then he adds, “Honestly… I thought I didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. I didn’t want to be marked again. I didn’t want to be with the Nephilim. I didn’t want… I didn’t even want to live in Idris.” He looks up at Jace, his lips trembling a little. “Is it weak of me to want to go back?”

Jace offers him half a smile, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t know,” he says, “If I were you, I wouldn’t care.”

Sebastian nods again, as Jace presses the stele against his skin. The mark glows red as Jace draws it in swift, precise movements. Sebastian’s not alone. His brother and sister are with him both.
Storia appartenente alla serie City of Hidden Houses, scritta in coppia con Tabata.
Genere: Drammatico, Introspettivo.
Pairing: Jace/Sebastian.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, What If?, Angst, (somewhat) Incest, Death, Spoiler, Lemon.
- Sebastian killed the Seelie Queen to avenge his sister, but his actions had more consequences than he knows. One, for example, is that the Fair Folk think that his attack was actually ordered by the Council, and have therefore accepted to sign a treaty, scared that the Nephilim might use Sebastian against them again.
To try and keep up appearances in order to definitively put an end to the war, the Consul summons Sebastian to the Gard to offer him official pardon as long as he lets them pretend he was acting upon the Council's orders.
Nobody's happy about it, thought. Well, nobody except Jace.
Note: Continua il nostro viaggio all'interno di questo What If? surreale in cui Clary muore e come conseguenza indiretta del fatto Sebastian diventa IL RE DEL MONDO. E' ancora presto per vedere come, ma in questa shot è presente il seme di quello che poi questa storia priva di pudore diventerà XD You're in for a world of WTF.
Anche questa storia è stata scritta per i Pirati di FDP, su prompt 'Let me in for a minute, you're not my life but I want you in it' (La Roux, Let me down gently).
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

He still has no idea how he managed to get out alive from the Institute, after Alec nearly pinned him to the wall to force a few answers out of him. Jace doesn’t really resent him for it – he knew, at some point, he’d have to tell – but he can’t help but feeling annoyed at how little his parabatai understands about what’s actually going on inside his head. It’s painful and frustrating, and yes, it’s true, Jace could speak more clearly, he could try and be more honest about what he’s feeling, but the simple, basic truth is that, right now, he just can’t. Talking opens up pits of sadness he’s not ready to face yet, and that happens every time, every single time somebody asks him a question, whether it’s a simple “where are you going?” or something more complex, like “when are you going to spend some time with your child again?”.

It does, because every single question sounds like “how are you?” to his ears. They all sound like the real reason behind them wasn’t to inquire about his whereabouts or whether or not he is ready to sit down and spend some time with Thomas, but if he’s back yet, if he’s functioning again already, basically if he’s ready to move on, to start his life anew, leaving the ghost of Clary behind.

And he is not. He is not, and some days he feels like he never will.

That’s why he doesn’t want to hear questions. And questions are all Alec has for him, right now. “Where are you going? Are you seeing Sebastian? Where is he? What are you doing together? Why do you disappear for days at a time? Why can’t you tell me the truth?” Only questions, and each and every one of them really just means “Why can’t you be back to who you were before? Why can’t you just be Jace again?”

There’s no way he could explain something like that to Alec, not if he can’t get it already on his own. So, when today Alec approached him and asked him his usual questions, Jace decided it was time to give him what he thought he wanted, simple answers. I’m going to Sebastian. Yes, I’m seeing him. I can’t tell you where he is but he is harmless and you’ll have to trust me on that. And you know what happens between us, you know or you wouldn’t be asking. Just like you know why I disappear for days, and why I’m not talking about it. You know, and you want me to tell you to your face so you can hate me more easily afterwards. Then go ahead, Alec, hate me. Now let me go.

Alec let him go. To feel him back off with such anger burning in his clear blue eyes, such anger he physically needed to put some distance between them not to smash his face with his closed fist, was as painful as if witnessing a severed limb fall limp and lifeless to the floor. He misses what closeness with Alec used to be. He misses it and he needs it, but right now he simply needs Sebastian more. So, if his parabatai forces him to choose, he has no other choice than to choose his brother.

He gave him a letter, before leaving him alone in the hall. “It’s from the Council,” he said, “For him. Since it’s obvious you’re going to see him way before I do, see that it gets delivered soon. So I can tell the Consul I did what was asked of me.”

Jace couldn’t resist curiosity, and opened it before leaving the Institute.

It’s because he read what’s inside the fine white envelope he’s still holding in his hand that he’s smiling so brightly now that he enters the dimensional apartment, calling out for Sebastian even though he doesn’t expect him to answer – because he never does.

He finds him in the sitting room, lying down on the carpet floor with his legs up one of the couches. He’s doing sit ups barechested, and Jace can’t help but grin at the sight. “Hi,” he says, “I’m here.”

“And if I hadn’t noticed already when you entered my house screaming like an eagle, now I know for sure,” Sebastian answers, not even stopping to look at him.

Jace laughs as he always does when Sebastian acts this cool. It’s ridiculous because, despite how convincing he may sound, this whole attitude of his is such a blatant lie Jace can’t help but find it cute. “You weren’t expecting me?” he asks, “Or maybe you were, and you’re just showing off.”

“None of the above,” Sebastian sighs and finally stops, lying down on the floor and dropping his legs as he catches his breath, his stomach moving up and down as he slowly relaxes. Then he stretches like a cat for a moment, letting go of a pleased moan as he feels his own bones creak under the strain, and in a second he’s up on his feet, reaching out for a towel he left on the armrest, on the side where Jace is sitting. Jace grins again, and puts himself in between him and the towel, covering it with his body. “Oh, come on,” Sebastian snorts, frowning lightly, “Seriously?”

Jace laughs and tilts his head up, catching Sebastian’s lips with his own as he lifts a hand to close his fingers around his hair, just to keep him in place, make sure he won’t move away too fast. Not that Sebastian seems eager to, anyway. He puts one hand on the back of the couch to balance himself as he leans into the kiss, parting his lips and flicking his tongue, looking for Jace’s and getting lost into it just as his brother does. Everything done with Sebastian ends up to be pretty pleasant, but nothing’s as pleasant as kisses are. Probably because Sebastian’s pretty rough, and his is a roughness Jace wants, but he isn’t rough at all during kisses, and that’s very soothing, in a way.

“…now let me go, come on,” Sebastian jokes, moving away, “You just arrived.”

“So what?” Jace chuckles, but he lets him back off and grab the towel to dry himself, “Maybe I wanted to jump you on the spot and you’re already disappointing me.”

“Would you calm down?” Sebastian laughs, this time, dropping to sit by his side. He finally notices the envelope in his hand, and casts a curious look at it. “What’s that about?”

“Ah,” Jace smiles more brightly, handing him the envelope, “It’s for you.”

Sebastian instantly frowns, taken aback. “For me?” he asks.

Jace nods. “From the Council,” he explains, “It’s something exciting, you should read it.”

Sebastian reaction isn’t what Jace had hoped for, unfortunately, but it’s what he was expecting anyway, so he isn’t surprised when his brother simply stands up, turns his back and walks away. “I don’t wanna hear anything about it,” he says, heading towards the kitchen.

Jace sighs and stands up too, following him. “Why not?” he asks, “No matter what you think about them, I’m sure you’re curious to know what could they possibly want to tell you.”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong, little brother,” Sebastian answers, opening the refrigerator to grab a plastic bottle filled with some unhealthy looking light blue liquid, “I don’t care at all.”

“Now you’re lying,” Jace grins.

“Well, alright, maybe I do care,” Sebastian drinks some of that liquid and then puts the bottle away, “But even so, I’m not interested in having anything to do with them. So I won’t read the letter. Besides,” he smirks, casting an amused glance towards Jace, “Seems to me like you already read the content. You can summarize it for me.”

Jace chuckles, leaning against the doorframe. He takes the letter out from the envelope and pretends to be reading, but he already knows the thing by heart, so it’s not as if he needs to. “As a compensation for your brave and valorous actions in helping the Shadowhunters at their darkest hour, and in recognition of the crucial role you played in ending the Seelie War… blah-blah… you’re invited to appear in front of the Council to be officially pardoned for your previous crimes, so to be able to start anew blah.” He puts the letter away, looking up at Sebastian with clear, excited eyes. “Isn’t it amazing?”

His brother casts him an unimpressed look, standing idly by the fridge. “You said they’d leave me alone,” he comments dryly.

Jace sighs heavily, passing a hand through his ruffled hair. “Yeah, that’s what they’re trying to do.”

“No,” Sebastian shakes his head, “What they’re trying to do, is bring me back to the Gard.”

“What?” Jace frowns, surprised, “No, they’re not. This isn’t about getting you back to prison, Sebastian. It’s entirely the opposite.”

“I’m not saying they want me back in prison,” Sebastian moves away from the fridge, passing by him and heading to the bedroom, “They just want me back in the Gard. They can’t stand the fact that I was able to escape and vanish before they could even understand what was going on. They want me back there because they want me back under their thumb. And I don’t want that to happen. I want to stay here, unnoticed and alone.”

“You’re not alone, though,” Jace replies, stubbornly following him.

“You know what I meant by that,” Sebastian actually whines, entering the bedroom and getting out of his trousers, kicking them away. “I don’t wanna fall under any authority. I don’t wanna receive any forgiveness, I don’t need any,” he pulls his underpants down his legs and kicks them away too, turning around to front Jace with such shamelessness he feels compelled to blush. “I need a shower.”

“Wait,” Jace covers the distance between them, holding his wrists between his fingers not to let him run away. “Let’s talk about it. Just a few moments. Let’s think this through.”

“Brother, there’s nothing to think through,” Sebastian insists with another whine, trying to break free from his hold but ultimately failing, and complying resignedly when Jace starts dragging him to the bed and forces him to sit down, sitting by his side, “I don’t wanna go.”

“You’re acting like a child,” Jace frowns, his fingers still tightly closed around his wrist, “You’re not seeing this as the opportunity that is. You want them off your back? Then give them what they want. Go there, say hi, you don’t need to apologize, it’s them, they need to forgive you.”

“What about what I need, then?” Sebastian insists, glaring at him.

“But you need this too, you just don’t want to admit it,” Jace explains, “Or maybe you don’t realize it. You don’t need forgiveness, fine. But if being left alone by them is what you need, then this is the way to get there. You show up. You let them talk. You walk away, and you’re free.”

Sebastian doesn’t speak right away. He looks at him intently, pondering his words, his eyes darkened by suspicion. “You care for this,” he says, “I know you do. I can read it in your eyes. You want me to be forgiven by them. Why?”

“Because you deserve it.”

Sebastian bursts into a sudden, heavy laughter. “I don’t,” he says sharply, “You damn well know I don’t.”

“I damn well know you do,” Jace insists, eyes burning with frustration and stubbornness, “You’re a different man, now. What you did in the past—”

“I don’t even wanna talk about it!” Sebastian says, raising his voice. By the sound that it makes, that makes Jace cringe, he understands he’s got to back off, now. That he pushed Sebastian as far as he possibly could, and now he’s got to let him breathe.

“Alright,” he says, sliding closer to him on the mattress, “Let’s just drop it. It’s fine. We don’t need to talk about that. We don’t need to talk about anything, really.”

Sebastian doesn’t seem convinced by how easily he gives up on the matter, but he doesn’t push him away. That’s a good place to start.

He leans in, kissing him on his lips with his eyes closed. Sebastian doesn’t properly answer the kiss, but he doesn’t back off either, and his lips move slowly, parting briefly and then closing again, brushing against his own. He’s still annoyed, Jace can feel it. For some reason it’s pretty sweet. This is nothing like the relationship they used to have when they were bound together. It’s like really being brothers, just not quite the same. He can guess what Sebastian thinks and feels, not just because he thinks and feels the same, but because he knows him, he really does. He knows him better now, after just a couple weeks spent together on and off this apartment, than he ever knew him before.

Finally, Sebastian starts to give in, his walls silently crumbling down as he gets closer and puts a hand on Jace’s nape, pulling him in. “I need to get you some dick-shaped pacifier,” he mocks him, while Jace simply answers with a smile, “Seriously, you never have enough.”

“I’m young and healthy,” Jace answers, pulling himself up on his knees and placing his hands on Sebastian’s shoulders, inviting him to lie down, which he promptly does without a single second wasted resisting.

“And restless,” Sebastian adds, the ghost of an amused smile curling his lips upward. Really, that’s just a tender smile. They’ve been sharing lots of tenderness during these moments, in these last few days. It’s because they share the same pain, and what little happiness they can trade in this bed is always a bit tainted by that, always a little more bittersweet than they’d like for it to be.

“You’re not complaining, though,” Jace whispers against Sebastian lips, kissing him lazily as he touches him, following the white traces left by the runes all over his body. He used to be covered in dark markings, but he obviously wasn’t given a stele during his prison time in the Gard. Despite having been free for almost three weeks, now, he hasn’t started using runes again yet. Which is what makes Jace believe that, when he says he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Clave ever again, he might be telling the truth. Some truth Jace doesn’t wanna face, not right now, because he’s not prepared yet to lose any hope that one day his brother might find his rightful place among the Shadowhunters.

It’s his by blood. Now that demon blood isn’t running through his veins anymore, now that he’s been cleansed, what’s left of him, no matter who he thinks himself to be right now, is Nephilim. Clary made him so. Clary made him so. She couldn’t stop the war, but he’s been her legacy anyway, because what she could not accomplish he did, his new blood did, his new, purified self did. And in her name.

That’s all Jace needs to know to decide he must become what he was always meant to become. One of them. He needs to believe that someday Sebastian will understand that’s what he wants too – he needs to believe that someday what Clary did to him will matter, and he will find his purpose, and it will be a good one, and it’s going to be thanks to her, to her sacrifice.

“Come to the Gard,” he whispers to him, his lips brushing against Sebastian’s earlobe as his brother pushes his hips upwards, thrusting slowly into his closed fist, “Please.”

“Jace…” Sebastian breathes in and out deeply, his eyes closed, his arm lingering lazily over his forehead, “Cut it out.”

“Please,” Jace insists, sliding between his legs and rubbing himself against him, “Just this one time. Just this once. It will be over and done before you even notice. And I will be with you, you know?” he talks slowly, soothingly, in a low voice that vibrates underneath Sebastian’s skin, “I will be with you all the time. And then we’ll walk away together, and everything’s going to be different, I promise.”

“Jace, stop,” Sebastian says, biting at his bottom lip and parting his legs for him so to make sure he’s not asking him to stop, just to shut up already. “I don’t wanna come. Don’t make me come.”

“That’s a dangerous thing to say in such a situation,” Jace grins, pressing himself against him.

Sebastian opens his eyes and glares at him, his chest heaving with each and every heavy breath. “Don’t be an idiot,” he says sharply.

Jace gives in to a breathless laughter, moving inside him with a swift thrust that makes Sebastian’s entire body tense for a moment, and then relax the next one. “Come with me, please,” he whispers on his lips, kissing him again, “Just this once, and I promise I won’t ask you again.”

“By the Angel!” Sebastian growls, annoyed, holding his head between his hands and kissing him furiously for a while, “Fine! Just— Just drop it, now. I’m tired. Don’t make me ask again.”

And Jace doesn’t.

They lie together on the bed, side by side, for more than just a little while, afterwards. Jace fell on his back and Sebastian’s arm was there, already stretched, so he fell upon it and nobody felt the need to move it away. Now Sebastian’s index finger is drawing invisible doodles on Jace’s shoulder, as they both stare at the ceiling, enjoying each other’s company in perfect silence.

Jace is already starting to doze off when Sebastian’s voice breaks it. “You like this too much,” he says softly, “Please, like it a little less.”

“What?” he asks, his lips stretching in a blissful smile, “No, thank you, I think I like this just enough.”

“Not that, idiot,” Sebastian answers, smiling too – Jace feels his smile pressed upon his own cheek in an unconscious kiss, and it’s such a perfect moment he wishes he could stop time right then, to feed on it until he’s satisfied before going back to reality. “I meant the idea of me. Being back. That’s not happening, little brother. No matter how much you or anybody else want it, I don’t. I don’t know where my road leads just yet, but I don’t think it’s anything close to that. So, please… and it costs me to say that,” Jace feels him cringe a bit, and his stomach tightens in a painful knot, “You’re already brokenhearted enough. Dream about it all you want, about me, about us, together, slaying demons or whatever, but know that it’s just a dream, and that’s all there’s ever going to be.”

Jace listens to him silently, his eyes closed, his smile dying with every word. He knows his brother’s right – of course he does. He’s not an idiot. He knows he’s relying on this way too much. That he’s believing in the possibility way more fervently than he should. But it’s not as if he has any other choices, right now. That dream – the one Sebastian’s talking about – is the only hope he’s got that, someday, all this might make sense. That in the end he’ll feel as if there was a reason behind it, something he can understand.

Because right now, as it is, nothing makes sense, not really. Nothing beside the vague but nonetheless pressing feeling that this is happening because it has to happen this way. That they’re together because they’re supposed to. That what’s waiting for them in the days, and weeks, and months to come is going to happen because it matters that it happens exactly that way.

“Don’t worry about my broken heart,” he says, forcing a smile as he turns to look at him, “I’ll be fine.”

Sebastian looks at him silently for the longest time, and he obviously doesn’t believe him. Why should he, after all? Jace is lying.

He decides not to insist on the matter, anyway. He presses a random kiss on Jace’s cheek and then moves away, jumping off the bed. The energy he unleashes after having sex, every single time. He’s tiring just to look at. Jace doesn’t understand it. “I need to spar,” he says.

“What?!” Jace opens his eyes all of a sudden, turning to look at him. He wasn’t expecting that. “Didn’t you say you needed a shower?”

“Yes, but that was before,” Sebastian insists, “Now I need to spar. And you need it too,” he says, shamelessly slapping him on his ass, “Come on. Grieving is making you flaccid.”

And Sebastian’s just about the only person in the world Jace could ever accept such a joke from. That must count for something, and so he lets out a weary laughter and sits up on the bed, stretching out lazily, like a cat. “Fine, fine…” he says, “I’m coming.”

“He said, for the second time in less than half an hour,” Sebastian grins, leaving the room.

“Oh, shut up!” Jace yells at him, throwing a pillow in his general direction, laughing like a child.


Jace is by his side, as they walk the hallways of the Gard escorted by four shadowhunters at each side, headed towards the room in which Jia Penhallow is already waiting for them. His brother’s presence is unfortunately not enough to keep him calm, and Sebastian knows this is not good. He can feel anxiety and nervousness creep under his skin, making him itchy. He can’t keep his fingers still. And he’s annoyed at himself because he didn’t want to show any of this to the Consul or anybody else, but he seems to have no control over it.

Which is already a bad thing by itself.

He closes his fists down his sides, breathing quietly in and out to try and calm down. He knows Jace is watching him close, and he knows he’s worried for him. The mere thought makes him sick to his stomach. He doesn’t want Jace to worry for him, and it’s not just because he’s going through enough already. It’s mainly because of pride – he’s not something helpless, he’s not something to protect, and Jace should back off and leave him be.

He wants him gone, he wants him gone, he’s sure of it as he’s sure that he wants to walk out of this place a free man, and at the same time he’s just as sure that if his brother steps away too far, he’s going to break down. He can’t seem to reconcile these two pulls drawing him in two different directions, but he knows they do exist together inside him. The need to push Jace away and the opposite one to keep him as close as possible. Why, that’s all he’s ever wanted to do with him, since he was a child and he sneaked out of his house to run to the Wayland manor and spy on him. How he longed to come out and greet him, say “I’m your brother, I swear, I am, let’s play together!”, and how he longed to kill him at the very same time, to tear him open from his throat to his guts and leave his bloodless corpse carelessly behind, for his father to see it.

“It’s alright,” Jace leans in, talking to him in whispers, “I’ll come in with you.”

“No, you won’t.”

Sebastian raises his eyes to meet the tall and bulky figure of Robert Lightwood, standing still in front of a closed door, his arms crossed over his large chest and his dark eyes fixed on him.

“Hello, Jace,” the man says.

Jace instinctively moves a step away from Sebastian, as if feeling the disappointment in Robert’s heavily scolding eyes. “Sir,” he says, nodding towards him.

“I’m sorry, but the Consul and I think it’s better if we meet alone with Sebastian for a few minutes.”

“I promised I’d be with him every step of the way,” Jace says, his voice low, his eyes shining bright with anger and frustration.

“I’m sorry we had you making a promise you couldn’t keep, we probably should’ve been clearer with what our intentions were.”

“Yeah, I think you deliberately decided not to be clear on them because you knew he wouldn’t have come if he knew he’d be alone with you!” Jace raises his voice, stepping towards him, and that’s just about as much as Sebastian can take.

“Shut up, Jace,” he says sharply, glaring at him. His brother stops halfway through a movement, freezing on the spot and then turning to look at him with eyes so wide he looks half his age. “I don’t need you to be my knight. I can take care of myself.” He turns to face Lightwood, his eyes cold as ice. He can see the man would kill him on the spot, if he could, and he dares him to try just because he can. “I will come alone,” he says.

The shadowhunters urge him to move forward. Jace is left behind, and feeling the distance between them grow bigger with each step hurts so much it’s almost ridiculous. But Sebastian endures it and doesn’t even turn to look at him, following the Inquisitor into the room.

Jia Penhallow is sitting behind a thick glass desk, her arms crossed over her chest, one of her feet nervously marking time against the marble floor. She stands up quickly when she sees them walk in. Sebastian looks at her, her troubled eyes. It’s obvious she doesn’t want to be doing this any more than he does. All considered, nobody here seems to really want what’s going to happen. Only Jace, but nobody’s thinking about him, right now. He’s not the reason why the Council has decided to pardon him – no, that would make the Council something with a heart and some understanding of what pain feels like, something capable of acts of kindness. But that’s not what the Council is. What it is, is just a mechanism only functioning to protect Nephilim and Downworlders as a collective. A machine trained to think as such a diverse multitude can’t have a heart, can’t have feelings, because those are exclusive to single beings.

“Sebastian,” she says, her faint accent instantly putting him off, “Or would you rather I called you Jonathan?”

“I wouldn’t,” he makes a face, looking away, annoyed, “And I wish everybody stopped asking me that.”

“Well, you can’t blame us for it,” she simply explains, sitting down and inviting him to do the same with a nod, “There is some confusion regarding your identity.”

“I can’t understand why,” he answers, sitting down on one of the chairs in front of the desk, while the Inquisitor stands by the Consul, and they both stare at him as if bound by invisible shackles that prevent them from jumping at his throat, “Whoever I was before, that’s not who I am now.”

“Which is why you ultimately decided to go by a fake name?” Lightwood inquiries with a hard, cold voice, “A stolen one?”

“That is my name, now,” Sebastian insists, looking down, feeling his voice shake with anger already, “I’m not going with Verlac. Just Sebastian. That is final.”

“Fine,” Jia stops the fighting before it can even begin, “That’s not what we’re here for, anyway. I take you read our letter?”

“Jace read it for me,” he shrugs, “And in any case, I wanted to say that what you’re doing is cruel to him. You’re deluding him into believing that you could someday accept me back into a community I’ve never been part of to begin with. That’s a lie, and it’s deceiving him.”

“And if somebody knows something about deception…”

“Robert,” Jia calls out for him, her voice stern as a mother’s, “We’re not here to discuss personal matters. Please, remember your role, as I do.” She stops for a moment, as if to wait and see if Lightwood’s got something to say against that. But he just keeps silent, and after a while she turns back to Sebastian, looking right at him. “Would it be so bad, though?” she asks, crossing her hands on the table, “To be accepted into the community?”

That’s simply infuriating. Sebastian’s lips open in an unbelieving smile, his eyes growing wide as he stares at the woman, unable to conceive how could she tell such a joke with such a straight face. “That’s ridiculous,” he says, shaking his head, “You’re mocking me, Consul, and I detest to be mocked. I detest it. Accept me into the community!” he lets out a mean, liberating laughter, “As if I wanted it! As if I could ever want to be part of your little family of incompetent bedwetters! I heard all about your inspired speech during the Dark War, Jia Penhallow. What was it? We choose to defeat Sebastian’s forces. They have the darkness, we have the strength of the Angel. Well, maybe you had the strength of the Angel, but you still needed a demon to do your dirty work for you, to end your ridiculous war, a war you yourself brought upon your people by acting irresponsibly and selfishly, as you’ve always done since the beginning of this wretched institution. And now you wanna pardon me, pardon me!, as if you were doing me a favor. I don’t need your forgiveness, Consul. I need you to leave me alone.”

Jia listens to him speak without even flinching. It’s obvious that, if she wasn’t expecting this exactly, she was expecting something very close to it, and the hate burning in her eyes mirrors the same hate that Sebastian feels burning in his own. She doesn’t want to pardon him, this woman. She just has to.

“This is what’s going to happen,” she says in a low, controlled voice, after stopping the Inquisitor from fulfilling the sheer need for violence that took him the moment he put his eyes on him, “We care nothing about your feelings, Sebastian. We care nothing about Jace’s. Just as we care nothing about Robert Lightwood’s feelings, or my own, for that matter. All we care about is the well-being of our people. And our people have been dying by the thousands, Sebastian. And part of that was you.”

He grits his teeth, as his eyes dart downwards. That stings more than it should. It’s in the past, and it feels alien for so many reasons, but that was still him, that was me, it was me all along, and it hurts to be reminded of it. That’s why he wants to stay away from here. Away from the Gard, from Alicante and Idris. He’s tired of being reminded of it. He wants to forget.

“We covered for your actions making the Fair Folk believe you were working on the Council’s order. That’s why they’re not asking for your head on a pike as a clause for the new treaty. Because they believe it an act of war, and therefore a justifiable one. Now, both you and I, we know it wasn’t. We know why you did it. And honestly,” she shrugs, “I don’t think that was the worst you could do. In fact, as far as your actions are concerned, killing the Seelie Queen might have been the most honest and most just among all of your decisions. Which is why I’m reaching out for you, Sebastian,” she says, leaning in to look at him straight into his eyes, “I’m trying to build a bridge between us.”

“No, you’re not,” Sebastian insists, looking up at her, “You’re doing this for yourself and yourself alone. You want the Fairies to believe you beat them through me. But you didn’t.”

“We didn’t,” Jia nods, “We’re lying. We’re lying to cover for ourselves and for you.” She sighs, resting her back against the chair. “Do you want to be left alone, Sebastian? We can do that. We will do that. Do this for us, make all this official, let us pretend you’re one of us and you fought for us, and you will never hear from this Council again. This I promise you.”

Can he believe this woman, now? Sebastian doesn’t know. But her promise sounds so sweet to his ears. To be left alone. A free man. Unshackled and unburdened forever. Could be worse, he tells himself as he nods and accepts his fate. Could be worse, he thinks as he walks out the room and finds himself instantly surrounded by the shadowhunters, eager to bring him to the Hall of the Accords to put an end to this charade.

Jace instantly walks up to him, standing by his side as he did up until the moment he was taken away. All traces of disappointment have vanished from his eyes, he’s just happy to see him again, to know he’s alright. The sight breaks Sebastian’s heart. He doesn’t know how to deal with Jace when he looks so fragile. He’s barely beginning to learn a way to love that doesn’t lead to complete destruction. It’s not an easy road.

“How was it?” Jace asks eagerly, walking beside him, “Was it bad?”

Sebastian shrugs, looking away. “Could have been worse.”


The Great Hall is full, but not as it could be. There are empty spots appearing in the crowd, every now and then. Shadowhunters that couldn’t make it, maybe. Or dead ones, possibly.

Sebastian never really had a thing for numbers. He doesn’t know how many people died during the Dark War, or the Mortal War that came before, or the Seelie War that came after, three wars he happened to have a part in, one way or another. “Thousands died” is all he knows. How many thousands, he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t want to know. Back then, when death and destruction were all he was after, precise numbers didn’t matter because he didn’t care for them, he only wanted to kill everybody, everybody, so what was a thousand? What were two? What were millions, for that matter? They could have never been enough.

Now that everything’s different, numbers don’t matter because just one would already be too much.

Oh, he’s not going to cry for what he did. He’s not going to apologize for moving war against the Shadowhunters. War is never bloodless, is never deathless, never kind and gentle, war is death and destruction and annihilation, and that was what he wanted. What his father wanted. He doesn’t want it now – he wouldn’t, even if he had the chance – but he did back then, and he wasn’t ashamed of it. It felt right. It felt righteous. And if anything, his recent contacts with the Council did nothing but rekindle that flame burning inside of him, that deep feeling of hate that never really left him.

Before entering into the Hall, he was stopped by Alec Lightwood. He seemed to be waiting for him right outside the door, and he was looking at him with eyes filled with nothing but disgust. “I can’t believe,” he said, “You had the nerve to show your face in here.”

In here, he meant, Where all our kids died when you ordered your Endarkened to attack the Hall and leave nothing but corpses behind.

Jace stepped up instantly, putting himself in between them. “He was invited,” he said.

“I’m not talking to you,” Lightwood answered sharply, darting an angry look at him before going back to Sebastian, “It’s your voice I wanna hear. I wanna hear what you’ve got to say for yourself.”

“Alec,” Jace insisted, “Stop it. You’re being unfair.”

“I’m being unfair?!” Lightwood raised his voice, outraged.

“Yes, you are!” Jace yelled too, “He wasn’t the same as now! He wasn’t himself!”

And both the screeching sound of his voice and the words he was saying forced Sebastian to react. “I was myself!” he said, annoyed at Jace for not understanding, at Lightwood for forcing him to say it, at himself for still caring one bit for it despite not wanting to. “I was myself,” he repeated, his voice sharp, “You’re still making the same mistake,” he told Jace, “You think you can figure me out. You can’t. You’re fucked up, but not nearly as much. And you,” he concluded, casting a cold look at his brother’s parabatai, “Just leave me the fuck alone. Come against me, and I won’t hesitate. You think these people care for you?” he asked, opening his arms to point at the silent, motionless Shadowhunters surrounding him, and at the still, serious figures of Robert Lightwood and Jia Penhallow a few steps away from them, “You think they’d even flinch if I snapped your neck broken right here, right now? They wouldn’t. They have much more use for me than they’d ever have for you. They’d pardon me that too – shit, they pardoned me genocide! They’d pardon me your assassination – and they’d let me go. So back off, and leave me be.”

They had to drag him away, literally, to stop Alec from launching himself at him, thirsty for blood.

Now, half an hour later or so, Alec Lightwood is standing next to his mother, among the other members of the Council. The Werewolf girl is there too, as Magnus and a few Shadowhunters Sebastian doesn’t know the names of.

They all hate him. They hate him so much if hate was flammable they’d set him on fire from a distance right where he stands. They all sit down on the chairs that have been brought to the Hall for the occasion, and the Shadowhunters surrounding him guide him towards the member of the Council. They’re waiting for him, tense and nervous, standing on their feet and just barely holding themselves together enough not to quit the whole thing and just sentence him to death on the spot.

And Sebastian can feel it. Oh, he can feel it with such clarity, the very same clarity he used to feel his father’s disgust with back then. These people, even the few who agreed that pardoning him and putting up a show for the Fair Folk was reasonable and all in all a very good idea, they all hate him. They hate him mercilessly, implacably, unforgivably. There’s no space for redemption in their eyes, they don’t want him and they never will.

With the exception of his brother and possibly the High Warlock of Brooklyn, he is utterly, desperately alone.


It’s obvious that Jace is only waiting for Sebastian to ask him what’s his problem to open his mouth and unleash hell upon him. Sebastian can read it on his face, on the tension in his perfect jawline, on the darkness sitting at the back of his beautiful golden eyes. He can see it, and he knows he can’t face it right now, which is why he refuses to ask. The moment they lock the door of the dimensional apartment, Jace turns to look at him and is expecting him to ask, and Sebastian just doesn’t. He turns his back on him and simply walks to the kitchen, silently.

“Where are you going?” he asks, quickly following him. His voice sounds nervous and hurt. Sebastian wishes Jace could be a little less obvious, when showing how he feels. It’s impossible to handle him, simply impossible. It’s like trying to hold a ball of cracked glass on his palm. You can’t let if fall, because it’ll break, but you can’t close your fingers around it and make sure it’ll stay in place either, because it’s already cracked and the pressure would break it anyway. So you’ve got to juggle it, keep it in balance, hope it doesn’t slip. That’s what he’s got to do with his brother, and he’s alright with it, most of the time, but not now, by the Angel, not now, now he just wishes Jace would leave him be and go, already, because right now he’s a cracked glass ball too, and he’s about to slip so bad there won’t be a single shard left when he finally hits the ground.

“I’m hungry,” he answers. He’s not. But he wants something to keep himself occupied with. He doesn’t care what. He opens the fridge and starts scavenging for food. There’s fruit. He thinks back to Magnus’ house in Alicante and decides to pick one fruit of each kind and eat them all together, cut in pieces.

“I can’t believe your stomach is functioning properly after what happened today,” Jace insists, “It’s impossible. I’m so nauseated I won’t be able to eat for days.”

“I’m sorry for you, then.” He fetches a plate and a knife and sits down behind the table in the kitchen, putting the fruits in line. He starts with the apple.


It’s so ripe it starts leaking sugar on him the moment he slips the knife underneath its skin.


“What do you want, Jace?” Sebastian puts down the apple, looking up at his brother. He’s so upset his cheeks are all red, and his eyes are glistening furiously. He’s standing there, and he’s so frustrated his hands are shaking. Sebastian sighs patiently. “Sit down,” he tells him. Jace complies. “Now tell me what it is.”

“I’m angry at you,” Jace blurts out, staring at him, “For what you said today. To me, to Alec. I was trying to defend you, and you made me look like an idiot.”

“Do you reckon I need to be defended?” he asks, looking coldly at him, “Jace, you’re mixing up the roles, here. I’m not defenseless. You don’t need to protect me.” It’s the other way around.

“Now you’re gonna tell me you’re alright.”

“I’m as far from alright as I can possibly be,” he answers in a low growl, “But I can protect myself way better than you ever could. It’s not your fault, it’s just how it is. I’m not asking for your protection, so don’t force it on me and then get angry because I refuse it. Believe me, you’ve got more serious problems, right now.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Jace insists, shaking his head, “You’re pretty much my main problem, right now. I care for you. What you said was not alright.”

“What I said was honest, and the truth,” Sebastian answers, “And you do have other problems. Countless other problems. Among which your parabatai, for example. Go back home, Jace, go back to the Institute and try to fix that. It needs more fixing than me.”

“Would you stop?!” Jace snaps, raising his voice, “Stop changing the subject! We’re talking about you!”

“Yeah?” Sebastian answers coldly, staring right back at him, “What’s your problem with me, Jace?”

His brother looks down, his hands shaking a little more when he closes them in fists. Then he breathes in and out, and moves forward, pulling the chair away from the table and sitting down. He speaks with a low voice, merely a whisper, refusing to look at Sebastian. “I don’t wanna have to figure you out,” he says, “I want you to talk to me. I want you to tell me shit.”

“You wouldn’t like the shit I’d tell you, Jace.”

“Try me!” he insists, suddenly tilting his head up to look at him.

“Try you?!” Sebastian puts the knife down, hitting the table top with his open hand, “Again? I already did! I tried to make you understand, but you can’t hear me!” He watches as Jace backs off a little, his shoulders glued to the back of the chair, surprised and a little scared as he is by his outburst. He needs to calm down, he knows. That’s not how you handle glass at all. “You’ve gotta lower your expectations about me, Jace,” he says, his voice cracking a little, “You’ve got to.”

“I don’t expect anything—” Jace tries, but he doesn’t let him finish.

“You do, Jace! You do. You do, and you don’t even know,” he closes his hands, squeezing them, digging his nails in his palms, trying to concentrate on that stinging feeling to stop himself from losing it completely, “You… You expect from everybody to just pause their life to take care of you, because you’re hurt, and by the Angel I understand, Jace, but you’re not the only one! You— You expect me to put my grieving aside to make room for yours, so you can suffer in peace knowing I’ll be there to catch your fall, you expect your stupid parabatai to let you do whatever you want without questions nor explanations, you— you expect your son!, a child of four!, to understand that if you’re not around him it’s not because you don’t love him but because you can’t stand to be near him with what he reminds you of right now!” He stops for a moment, looking at him. Jace is staring back at him with eyes so lost Sebastian almost wants to stop right there, to just hold him in his arms and tell him he’s sorry, that he’s right, that he’s going to take care of him. But he doesn’t have it in himself. “I’m in pain, brother,” he says. And he realizes he’s crying. He’s ashamed for doing it. But he can’t stop it. He can’t play this game anymore. Either they’re together, or they’re apart. Either they share everything, or they’ve got nothing. “We’re all in pain, it’s not just you. So I’m sorry if I can’t always explain clearly how I feel. I’m sorry if I leave some things unsaid and for you to figure out. I’m trying,” he sobs quietly, biting at his inner cheek, “You’ve gotta try too.”

And then it’s just done. He doesn’t know why or how. It’s like that time he started crying at Magnus’ place in Alicante. It hurt so much for a minute or so, and then it was gone. It’s the same now, up to a second ago he felt ready to explode, to burn away with all his pain, but now he said all he had to say, he cried, and he’s calm. He’s alright. He can deal.

He looks down, though, because if Jace wants to go away now he doesn’t want to see him.

In fact, his brother stands up. He stands still for a few second, and then moves. Sebastian’s sure he’ll be gone in a second, but Jace doesn’t leave. He walks around the table, stops next to him and then leans in, holding him in a tight hug, pressing his face against his neck. He’s crying. Sebastian feels his tears on his own skin, and all he wants is to turn around and wipe them away, but Jace doesn’t let him move. “I’m sorry,” he says, his voice weak and shaky, “I’ve been selfish and cruel. I forced this on you, and you didn’t even want to come. And when I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome I took it out on you because I didn’t want to blame myself for it.”

Sebastian leans into his brother’s hug, half-closing his eyes as he feels his body relax in that warm embrace. “What were you expecting from today?” he asks him softly.

“A ridiculous dream to come true,” Jace answers, speaking on the curve of Sebastian’s shoulder, “Something of a miracle. That everybody would accept you. That everybody would be happy. That you would be happy, so I could be happy too.”

“Brother…” he turns around between Jace’s arms, hugging him back, “It’s too soon for that. Even if it was possible for them to accept me, which I’m not sure of at all, happiness…” he sighs, “It’s just too soon for that.” And there’s gonna be a lot of waiting until the time is right, too, but he doesn’t tell that to Jace. It’d be pointless. This has already been painful enough.

His brother just nods, hiding against him like a child. He can feel him under his fingers, he can feel him revert back to his childhood, and wasn’t that exactly what he wanted? To try and be children together, this time?

“Are you still angry at me?” Jace asks in a voice so small and faint Sebastian only hears it because he’s speaking directly to his ear, “Do you want me to go?”

“No,” he answers, holding him closer and breathing his scent off his skin, “Stay the night, please.”

Jace doesn’t need to be told twice.
Storia appartenente alla serie City of Hidden Houses, scritta in coppia con Tabata.
Genere: Drammatico, Introspettivo.
Pairing: Jace/Sebastian, Sebastian/Clary.
Rating: PG-13.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, What If?, Angst, (somewhat) Incest, Death, Fluff, Hurt/Comfort, Spoiler.
- After killing the Seelie Queen in retaliation for his sister's death, Sebastian flees the court and hides in Brocelind Forest for two days and one night, after which he decides he can't stay there at risk to be found by Nephilim or Downworlders hunting for him, or freeze to death. He runs then to the only person in Alicante he knows enough to ask for help. And that person happens to be Magnus Bane.
Note: Insomma, io e la Tab abbiamo deciso di mettere da parte gli imbarazzi e trasformare questa cosa che stiamo facendo in una Cosa ufficiale, il che vuol dire che una serie (dal titolo bellissimo) è stata creata, una lunga storia è stata plottata e potrebbe perfino essere portata a termine, prima o poi. Lo so, è una roba inedita. Ma clpf.
Incapace di smettere di amare Sebastian come se fosse una cosa normale, continuo a parlare delle sue simpatiche avventure nel post-Heavenly Fire 'verse, ed in questa storia, per la precisione, lo mando da Magnus perché questa cosa era stata accennata nella prima storia della serie e mi sembrava una cosa carina approfondirla. Anche perché Magnus è bellissimo.
Inoltre, questa storia è stata scritta per i Pirati di FDP, su prompt Quando la città dorme.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

It doesn’t take much skill to find him, Sebastian only needs to follow the track of loud music and laughter, together with the magic lights shining and crackling overhead like fireworks in messy explosions that light up the streets, forcing him to move hugging the walls and hide in every dark corner he’s lucky enough to find as he makes way towards Magnus’ house.

He didn’t mind the prison, truly, he didn’t. It was part of the deal. A very specific deal he had made with Jace on the day of his cleanse – his rebirth, as Clarissa liked to call it. Not that Sebastian felt anything close to having been reborn, of course. He did feel different – not quite enough, though. However, his sister seemed to be so sure about it he never tried to convince her otherwise on the rare occasions he had had to see her through the years.

Too few, all considered. Especially looking back now.

He didn’t mind the prison, anyway, he didn’t mind the loneliness. The only people he’d have liked to see while in his captivity, after all, were his brother and sister, and he knew they wouldn’t have come. He didn’t miss anybody else, so being alone wasn’t that painful. And being held captive – that wasn’t that bad either. He didn’t miss wandering outside, he didn’t miss Idris and he sure as hell didn’t miss the mundane world. He was alright in his cell, it was comfortable enough. Clarissa had seen to it.

Oh, she had been sweet, probably not even wanting to. She just had it in her, Sebastian supposed, the Angel blood running through her veins making her good just as much as the demon blood had made him bad all his life. Such a powerful thing, the blood. Unseen and unconscious, and still ruling your life from the inside.

Clarissa had insisted about making his cell comfortable. “He isn’t the same as before,” she had told the Council. “He’s a different person.” He wasn’t sure about that. He was grateful to her for saying it, nonetheless.

His beautiful Clarissa. His precious, beautiful sister. And she was gone. She was no more.

But not now. No, not now, he doesn’t have to think about it now, he tells himself when he feels the familiar cloud of void swelling into his chest. He must not think about Clary now. He must not think about the Seelie Queen and her blood still staining his hands, his face, his clothes. He must keep himself focused. The dark street. The noisy exploding magical lights up in the air. Magnus’ house a few feet away from himself. With it, salvation, he hopes. Because it’s true, he didn’t mind the prison – but he’d rather die than go back to it now. The closed space, the thick walls, the heavy bars, that doesn’t feel right anymore. There’s a restlessness inside him, it wasn’t there before, but it is now.

His beautiful Clarissa. His precious, beautiful sister, gone, no more.

And Jace. All on his own.

And the son.

No, prison isn’t the place for him, not anymore. He’s gotta see to it that he never goes back there. Magnus will help. He’ll help, one way or another.

No security at the party, he realizes as he slips past the gates of the mansion, painted in black and with a neon pink book drawn upon it. “Sober,” he can’t help but comment under his breath as he hides in the darkness again, coasting the wall to reach the door at the end of the driveway. No security here either, he notices. He’s pretty sure he should think about this, about what this means. He has no idea what happened in the world as he hid in the forest for the past two days. Anything could have happened. He should probably be worried about it – or at the very least start considering the option of asking Magnus about it, when he finally sees him, so to decide what to do next.

Because right now he honestly has no idea. He could die in five minutes. He could be captured again and brought back to prison. He could be torn apart limb from limb by an angry mob of Downworlders the moment he steps into this house.

Oh, but he wants to see his brother, before he dies. He needs to— Not now, possibly not even in a few weeks or months (perhaps years? That might be a more accurate projection, he doesn’t feel ready right now, though he misses him so much), but he cannot die before that happens. So he’s going to survive tonight. He’s going to cling to whatever’s been left inside of him after fire burnt everything away, and he’s going to make it to see the dawn of tomorrow, and the day after that.

He approaches the door holding his breath. There’s light of many colors coming out from inside, and laughter, and jokes, and a multitude of accents crowding his ears, confusing him. He never liked people much. There are clearly too many of them into this house.

Which is why he’s almost grateful when Magnus shows up on the doorstep, basically covering the whole entrance with his body, making it impossible for him to advance any further.

For more than a few seconds, all Sebastian can actually see is sparkly purple and canary yellow. He can’t make sense of the colors together, so he looks up and focuses on Magnus’ face, which is even more confusing. He’s entirely covered in make-up. Yellow make-up, of course. Looking at him is like stubbornly keeping one’s eyes open to see the world while spinning on the spot. He’s confusing, and kind of nauseating, in a way. There’s too much of him, and underlined by his loud appearance so many times it’s like being shoved food down one’s throat with a stomach already full.

“I wasn’t mistaken,” the warlock says, staring at him, “It really was you.”

“You knew?” Sebastian asks, frowning in disappointment, “How?”

“I saw you,” Magnus answers easily, “What do you think the fireworks were for?”

Sebastian’s scowl deepens. “You were searching for me.”

“I was keeping an eye out for something,” he simply answers, “And now I know it was you. As you can probably see, anyway, I’m busy. So why are you here? What do you want?”

Sebastian looks down, clutching his fists down his sides. He’s cold, he’s hungry, he’s covered in stinky, dried up blood and he doesn’t want to go back to prison. “I need help,” he says.

Magnus laughs, so loudly Sebastian rushes to look up, to see if anybody noticed. Nobody seems to. “You need help from me,” he says, “Isn’t that something. And why should I help you, Jonathan, or Sebastian, or whatever name you go by these days?”

“Don’t,” Sebastian shakes his head, suddenly agitated by the mention of his names, “Don’t do this, not now. Help me. Because I’m asking.”

“I don’t think that’s enough of a reason, kid. Try harder.”

“If you don’t help me,” Sebastian growls lowly, trying to get closer as threateningly as his weak condition lets him, “I will kill you.”

“You can try,” Magnus answers with a faint laughter.

This isn’t going to work, he thinks, not now, not with the way he looks, lost and confused as he is. He feels just like he felt three years before, when Clary and Jace tied him up and told him he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison if he wanted to have any life at all. It was easier to surrender back then, and it’s easier to do the same now too.

“I killed a hundred fairies,” he says, “To avenge my sister. And I’m sick and tired and I’m in pain. And I’m grieving, and I don’t know what to do. And I miss my brother, and I can’t see him. And I’m scared,” he shivers, saying the words, unable to look at Magnus’ face as he does, “I’m scared they will catch me, and I don’t want to go back to prison. I don’t. So help me, please. Because I need it.”

Magnus doesn’t answer right away, and Sebastian doesn’t look at him. For more than a few moments, there’s nothing but electric silence between them, and the buzzing coming from inside the house is nothing but a distant echo.

Then, slowly, Magnus starts to talk. “Given the history we have, you and I, I should slam this door right on your pretty face and warn you never to come around me ever again, lest I leave your corpse in such state not even the very few remaining members of your dysfunctional and frankly quite annoying family would be able to recognize you after I was done,” he says, voice cold and hard as marble. But then he softens up, in a mischievous smile Sebastian doesn’t even want to begin to question. “But I know what you did. I knew it before you told me. And I think that buys you a couple minutes of my precious time.”

Sebastian finally looks up at him, at a loss of words, possibly for the first time in his life. He nods and tries to move forward, but he ends up bumping against Magnus’ firm body, still planted in front of the entrance. That shirt is very purple, and very glittery, and those trousers are very, very yellow, and he feels like throwing up.

“Not so fast,” Magnus says, pushing him back towards the safe darkness of the bushes, “I’ve got to clear the house first. That is, obviously, unless you want to be eaten alive as a greeting from my people. Is this death wish thing running in your family?”

“No,” he answers, looking down again. He longs to be inside, because it’s too cold out here. But he doesn’t want to die, not yet. And he’s never been stupid, he knows better than to risk his life when he’s clearly at a disadvantage. So he complies. “I’ll wait out here.”

Luckily, he doesn’t need to wait much. Magnus instantly puts an end to all festivities, turning the lights off, making the banquet vanish into nothingness and politely inviting all guests to get the fuck out of his house in an instant if they don’t want to see what the High Warlock of Brooklyn is capable of.

From his spot in the darkness, Sebastian watches everybody leave from the front door, and then waits for Magnus to come out and call him, something he decides to do only when the street is silent, as the rest of Alicante.

It’s warm inside. There’s a fireplace, and fire crackling pleasantly into it. Sebastian instantly rushes to it, kneeling on the floor and reaching out for it, showing his hands to the fire as he waits for the cold to naturally slide out from inside him.

“Where have you been?” Magnus asks, looking right at him, standing a few steps away.

“Brocelind Forest,” he answers, “I hid.”

“Smart move,” Magnus nods, shoving his hands in his pockets, “They’re searching for you.”

“They want to bring me back,” Sebastian says, feeling his stomach tighten up in a knot at the thought.

“Can you blame them?” Magnus asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I blame nobody,” Sebastian answers, shaking his head, “I just don’t want to go back.”

Magnus sighs deeply, closing his eyes for a moment. It feels good not to be looked at by those shiny cat-like eyes, but it doesn’t last long. “You need a warm bath,” he says in the end, “If you’ve been hiding out there for two entire days and one night as you say, it’s not just blood we need to wash off you right now. Come.”

“Just a few minutes,” Sebastian insists, getting closer to the fire, “Just a few minutes, it feels like my fingers are going to fall off.”

“Which is why you must come,” Magnus walks up to him and grabs him by the back of his shirt, pulling him up effortlessly. Oh, he wouldn’t have been able to do this up to three years ago. But Sebastian’s thinner, now, and weaker, and he can’t fight him, only whine.

“I asked but for a few minutes,” he whimpers, still trying to reach out for the fire despite being carried away with his feet barely brushing the ground.

“And I don’t think you need any of them,” Magnus insists, bringing him to the bathroom.

It’s a clean, big room, all covered in peach pink tiles and porcelain fixtures in the same color. The bathtub in the middle of the room fills with hot water with a click of Magnus’ fingers, and the warmth coming up in thick steam from the water surface is so inviting Sebastian has to swallow hard and dig his nails into his own palms to restrain himself from diving into it head first.

“Come on,” Magnus sighs patiently, as if having to deal with a child, “Undress. You need a bath. Be quick about it. I don’t want to have to dispose of your corpse. Corpses stink.”

“Thank you,” Sebastian says absent-mindedly as he unbuttons his worn out, bloodstained shirt and slips out of it, completely oblivious to the glance Magnus casts him upon hearing the words. Drawn to the water, he takes off his other clothes and enters the bathtub, sitting on the bottom with his head tilted back against the edge. He exhales deeply and opens his eyes to look at Magnus as he grabs a colorful bottle of soap and proceeds to pour half of its content into the water. To that, he frowns. “I don’t need that much.”

“I will be the judge of that,” Magnus says, pouring soap until he’s satisfied with the amount of bubbles covering the surface of the water, wrapping Sebastian’s body in a warm, cleansing embrace. It’s pleasant enough to convince him it’s better to shut up and let the warlock decide what’s best, at least for now. “It’s very unsettling,” Magnus says after a while, “How much you look like your father.”

Sebastian opens his eyes again, studying him. “You’re not the first to tell me.”

“But I’m probably the only one who knows what he’s talking about,” Magnus goes on, sitting on the edge of the tub and looking down at him. “I met him when he was around the age you are now. You could pass for the same person.”

Sebastian blinks a couple of times, intrigued. “How was he?”

“How has he always been?” Magnus chuckles, “An asshole.”

Sebastian frowns, disappointed, and looks away, distractedly playing with the bubbles floating on the surface of the water. “How did you meet?”

“It’s not important,” Magnus just shakes his head, “I can tell you what happened when we met, though.”

Sebastian’s curiosity is awakened again, and he leans in, looking at Magnus with hungry eyes. “What?”

“We tried to kill each other,” Magnus laughs lightheartedly, “I bashed his head in, he tried to find out what colors my entrails were painted with, I disagreed with his plan and notified him by spitting on his face. As a result of that, he beat the shit out of me. And that was pretty much it.”

Sebastian goes back to sit with his back against the edge of the bathtub. He’s mildly disappointed, but not really. He should probably have expected something like that. He doesn’t even know what he’d have rather heard. He knew his father. Expectations never really were fulfilled in any good way, when he could see otherwise.

“Your eyes, though,” Magnus goes on. Sebastian looks up at him again, and finds him smiling a weird smile that makes him uncomfortable. “They’re different than Valentine’s, or at least they are now. I don’t think you need to know anything more about your father, pretty eyed one. I think you’ve had your fill of him for the time being.”

It’s very simply put, but mostly right, Sebastian realizes as he relaxes underwater.

Magnus stands up and wipes his wet hands against those outrageously yellow pants. “I’ll be waiting for you in the sitting room,” he says, “Join me, when you’re done.”

He loses track of time as the water gives their natural warmth back to his limbs, his skin turning pink as the blood and the dirt get washed away. His eyes closed, he rests, he dozes off to sleep. As he sleeps, he dreams, despite being aware of his surroundings, being aware of being in Magnus Bane’s bathroom, running for his life, having killed the Seelie Queen. He dreams of Jace, and he dreams of Clarissa. He dreams of his nephew whose face he hasn’t seen yet. They’re all together, smiling and radiating happiness, and he’s not with them. He’s far away, looking at them from a distance, but it’s alright. And then it’s not anymore. Then it’s all bloody and dark, and little Thomas isn’t there, and Jace is alone, and Sebastian tells him to come, come, little brother, come to me, but Jace cannot hear his voice, Jace doesn’t see him. Sebastian opens his eyes feeling restless and confused, the water’s going cold, he’s hungry and he doesn’t want to be here anymore.

He walks out of the tub and wraps himself up into a soft, white bathrobe, walking barefoot back to the sitting room. Magnus is sitting on the couch, cross-legged and seemingly lost in his thoughts. There’s food on the table, a lot of it. Meat, mostly. Hunger awakens in Sebastian’s stomach and he sits on the chair, grabbing fork and knife and starting to eat. “I wanna know about Jace,” he says with his mouth full.

“What do you want to know about him?” Magnus asks, unfazed by his voracity.

“Everything,” he answers, finishing his steak and attacking the bread as if it was a living thing and he the predator who’s supposed to devour it. “Where is he? How is he? Is he with somebody, is somebody taking care of him?”

Magnus gives in to a short chuckle, turning to look at him. “Do you want to go and see him? Is that why you’re asking?”

“No,” he shakes his head, swallowing a glassful of water, “I won’t see him so soon. I just want to know.”

Magnus sighs, standing up from the couch and reaching him at the table. “Your brother is broken, Sebastian,” he says, “He’s holding himself together out of habit and inability to accept what really happened. That’s how Jace is. Does it make you feel better to know it?”

“No,” he puts down the glass, refills it, drinks again, “It makes me angry. I don’t understand.”

“Believe me, you’re not alone in this,” Magnus sighs again and sits at the table, right in front of him. “Now, tell me. What is it you want to do?”

Enough with the meat, he wants fruit, now. Apples, pears, oranges. There’s all he could possibly ask for. Not a day in his life he’s ever had all he could possibly ask for. And he wants everything. He systematically starts peeling one fruit for each kind, and then cutting them into pieces, mixing them up on his plate. He eats them together, confusing the taste. It feels heavenly.

“I want to hide,” he answers honestly, “At least for now. I believe you can help me with that.”

“I can help everybody with almost everything,” Magnus answers with a light shrug, “But this isn’t the answer I was searching for. Understand my position. I’m not at liberty to do whatever I want, for a variety of reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain.”

Sebastian looks up at him, stares right into those golden cat eyes. “You are at liberty to do whatever you want, High Warlock of Brooklyn. The question is whether you want to help me or not. And whether you want to pass through all the consequences of helping me or not.”

The warlock looks back at him, his expression still, unreadable. He stands up, looking away. “I need to think about it,” he says, “It’s not an easy choice to make.”

“There’s no such thing as an easy choice,” Sebastian sighs, standing up too. He looks at the dirty dishes scattered on the table, the ones he used to eat. It’s unsettling to look at them. For some reason they make him think of a battlefield. Of leaving a battlefield covered in lifeless bodies. He silently starts to collect them. He piles them up in an orderly fashion, larger plates at the bottom, smaller ones at the top, then the cutlery. He brings them to the kitchen, puts them down at the bottom of the spotless sink. Then he rolls the sleeves of the bathrobe up to his elbows and starts washing them, one after the other.

“You are aware of the fact that I could make those dirty dishes disappear in the blink of an eye, aren’t you?” Magnus asks. His voice seems genuinely surprised, and when Sebastian turns to look at him he finds out his expression mirrors that feeling.

He shrugs. “It didn’t feel right to leave them on the table.”

For a second, the warlock looks at him silently, his eyes wide open, his lips parted in disbelief. He seems shocked, now, more than merely surprised. And when he speaks, his voice is uncertain. “What happened to you?” he asks in a faint breath, “What have you changed into?”

No more dishes to wash, Sebastian stops the water and stands there. He doesn’t want to turn and look at Magnus again. This is awkward. He doesn’t feel alright. Too much has happened in the last few days. He lost Clary, he lost his place in the world, painful and constricting as it was, and if he’s honest with himself he doesn’t even know if he’s really going to ever see Jace again, let alone meeting his nephew for the first time. What has he changed into? He has no idea. He’s an aching, desperate bundle of needs he himself can’t even start to translate into words. He wants his brother. He wants his father. He wants to be a child running through an enormous, empty mansion. He wants to be little Jonathan spying on the other Jonathan, envying and hating him from a distance. He wants his sister back. He wants peace of mind, more than anything else in the world right now he wants peace of mind, and he’s stricken by knowing he will never, never get there. There, to the moment in life when everything’s clear, and everything’s right. He lost that chance long ago. He lost that chance before he was born.

“When I was a child,” he starts weakly, looking at a single drop of water leaking again and again from the tap as it launches itself into the void, slamming into the steely, silvery perfection of the bottom of the sink, “I asked my father, father, is my mother ever coming back? He said no, Jonathan, she isn’t ever coming back. Is she dead?, I asked. Dead means never coming back. No, she isn’t dead, he said. Then why did she go away?, I asked again. And he told me why. Ah, father always answered my questions in the cruelest possible way. It was his revenge, I believe, for coming up to be even more perfect that he thought I’d be, which made me disgusting to his eyes. He said, because of you, Jonathan. Because there’s something wrong with you.” He smiles sadly, a distant smile he didn’t even know he could have in himself. “Back then, I was very young. I understood nothing. I believed father could do anything, and so I asked – can you fix me?, and he told me no, Jonathan, nothing could ever make her love you. Only I love you, he told me, only I can love a monster.” He doesn’t need to turn around to see how tense Magnus is now. Tension is all there is in that room. It makes the air itself thick and unbreathable. “You ask me what have I changed into,” he goes on, “But I don’t know. All my life I’ve been the monster my father taught me to be. Because I wanted his love. And he could love the monster in me. So, a monster is what I’ve always been. What I’ve always known.” He swallows, closing his eyes for a second, passing a hand over his face, “I don’t have it in me anymore,” he says weakly, “The monster that made me what I was, it’s not there anymore. I don’t know what’s in there, what took its place. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps I’m empty. But then why?” his voice breaks, and he’s got no control over it, not any more than he had when he heard of Clary’s death and that fire started burning inside of him, the fire that told him to go, move, kill, for her, in her name, “If I’m empty, why do I feel like this? Can you help me with that, Magnus Bane?” he whimpers, tears rolling down his cheeks, “Can you?”

It feels good enough to cry. He cried already, when he heard about Clary, but it wasn’t just sadness, back then, it was anger, it was pain and frustration, and all those feelings, instead of being let out with his tears, seemed to pool in, making his chest swell and hurt in a confused congestion he couldn’t find a way to dissipate.

This is different. All is coming out. All of it. With every tear he feels lighter. Every whimper fills the silence Magnus respectfully protects, keeping himself at a distance, and when the echo of his last moan disappears Sebastian opens his eyes and they’re dry again, and he doesn’t feel like crying anymore, and there’s no pain, no anger, just some vague confusion and curiosity about what comes next.

“I might have an idea,” Magnus says, “Something helpful.”

Sebastian finally turns to look at him, unraveling the sleeves of the bathrobe and instinctively holding himself into an hug as he starts feeling cold again, now that the effect of warm water is almost entirely gone. “What is it?”

“Actually,” Magnus smirks, tilting his head to the side, “All this talking about that sad excuse of a father you were so unlucky to be damned with gave me the idea. You used to have a place, am I right? A place that used to be his. A flat that was able to travel through dimensions.”

Sebastian’s eyes get darker as memories distract him. “I used to, yes,” he says, “Clary destroyed it.”

“I know,” Magnus nods, “But what if I told you I could get you a new one?”

Sebastian instantly turns to look at him, his eyes, so shockingly green, wide in excitement. “Are you serious? You could do that?”

“My dear, you better learn that there’s nothing – and I mean nothing – I cannot do. You merely need to tell me how would you like for it to be decorated, and leave the rest to me.”

He gives in to a surprised half smile, leaning back against the sink, his legs growing weaker all of a sudden. “I might leave that to you too, I guess,” he says.

“Think carefully about it, though,” Magnus laughs, amused, “Look around. Do you really want me to decorate your new house according to my taste?”

Sebastian casts a worried look around – the tropical plants scattered here and there, the colorful, thick carpets covering every inch of the floor, the weird paintings hanging down the walls – and he clears his throat. “Let’s go with something simple, perhaps in white and gray,” he tries.

“What?” Magnus makes a disappointed face, hands on his hips, “So boring,” but then he sighs, resigned, “Fine, though. White and gray it’ll be. Now,” he adds, offering him a vague smile, “I think you went through enough for today, pretty eyed one. I can’t imagine how it is to sleep in the forest, but I tend to believe it isn’t comfortable at all. Which means you need to sleep, if I ever want to get rid of you tomorrow first thing in the morning.”

He’s a little offended by the clear mocking, but he has to admit the warlock’s right. He couldn’t sleep at all, in the forest, not as scared as he was that somebody could find him and capture him, Nephilim or Downworlder. He’s tired and sleepy, and he longs for a real bed.

So, when Magnus leads him to the bedroom – his own, Sebastian believes, at least judging by how loud and outrageously colorful every piece of furniture is – he doesn’t resist. He spends a few seconds wondering how is he ever going to sleep in this bed completely lined in the flashiest shade of green he has ever seen, but he forgets all about it when his head touches the pillow and his entire body gives in to sleep.

As he dozes off, he catches a glimpse of Magnus’ shadow bending over the nightstand, opening a drawer and retrieving from it a small book with a white cover and a title written on the front in big golden letters. Ah, the Book of the White, he thinks absent-mindedly. There’s a vague smile curling his lips upwards when he finally falls asleep.


He wakes up to the strong scent of coffee and an English breakfast waiting for him at the table in the living room. Magnus is nowhere to be found and Sebastian’s tempted to explore the house to see if there’s something interesting he can find and possibly try to smuggle out there, just for the sake of it, but then he realizes it’s impossible the warlock could have left the house or any of its important treasures unprotected while leaving him alone in there, and he’s too hungry to resist that delicious smell anyway, so he puts on the clean clothes Magnus left for him at the foot of the bed – too tight, both the trousers and the blouse, but at least they’re the right color – and quickly sits down at the table to enjoy the meal.

There Magnus finds him twenty minutes after, when he comes back from whatever errand he run while outside. “Ah!” he says, clearly satisfied with how he looks like, “I got your size right.”

“Not really,” Sebastian complains, “It’s too tight.”

“That was meant to be,” Magnus smirks. Sebastian throws him a grape in response, but the warlock just laughs, amused, avoiding it with a swift movement to the right. “So, are you finished? I’ve got something to show you,” he says then, one hand on his hip while the other wraps a purple scarf around his neck, left bare by his t-shirt.

Sebastian tenses all over, smiling in excitement. “Is it ready?” he asks, jumping up, eager to leave.

“Yes,” Magnus laughs, “And oh, dear, you are hilarious, right now. You don’t seem a day older than five. Let’s get you ready for a stroll, baby boy, shall we?”

He could get angry, really. He could be offended to death by the way Magnus handles him, as if he was a child, but the truth is, it’s quite pleasant. He’s never been handled like a child, not even when he was a child. He’d like to think better of himself, he’d like to think he’s not the kind who needs a new childhood just because he didn’t get to have one when he should have, but apparently that’s exactly what he needs right now. This, together with his brother. Maybe, he thinks, maybe they can try be children together, this time, since they couldn’t back then.

But it’s too early to think about that. He’s got to start from scratches, and right now this means letting Magnus put a ridiculous hat on his head, sunglasses and the loudest zebra striped scarf around his neck to make him pass for anybody else but him.

It’s a miracle that they don’t draw any more attention than they draw already – Sebastian complains about it; “Boy, give me a break, I’m doing the best I can,” Magnus replies, “Besides, nobody’s going to think it’s you if I parade you like that. No sane person would walk around Alicante with Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern wrapped up in a scarf like that”. The fact that everybody knows Magnus isn’t a sane person is apparently irrelevant – but in the end they manage to get to the house safely.

It looks like just another house, from the outside, one of Alicante’s typical, small, honey-colored stone houses, with its pretty red roof on top. There’s a red door on the front, and Magnus pushes Sebastian towards it with a smile. “Come on,” he says, “You know how to open it.”

He does. It’s written inside him, or so does it feel. The door responds to him and his blood just like his father’s did. He walks inside, followed by Magnus, who shows him the place listing all its perks as if he had to sell it to him. It’s funny enough, and the place does look beautiful. All painted in white, with low, elegant furniture of the same color, gray carpets covering the floors, weird but interesting paintings on the walls and finely decorated ceilings Sebastian instantly falls in love with.

It’s a different house than his father’s. It’s smaller, and missing some things. But it’s his own. It’s already growing on him.

“That’s more or less all there is to see,” Magnus wraps up his professional presentation, standing by the door, “Well, at least inside,” he smirks, opening it. Outside, Venice. Sebastian recognizes it instantly. The bluest sky, the smell of water, the gorgeous, huge square. They were in Alicante less than five minutes ago. This will never stop being amazing. “Do you want to go take a walk among people who are not out for your scalp?”

“Yes,” Sebastian answers instantly, heading out. He stops on the threshold, though, turning to look at Magnus. “You mustn’t tell anybody,” he says, “Not even that annoying husband of yours.”

“Ah!” Magnus brings a hand to his own heart, “You knew about the wedding? News travel to the most unexpected places. You’ll have to forgive us for not sending an official invitation, we were worried an angry mob could’ve ruined our special day,” he says with a grin.

Sebastian looks at him, unimpressed. “You know,” he says, “Despite your evident abilities and qualities, you really are quite an idiot.”

Far from offended by the remark, Magnus laughs out loud, throwing his head back. “I take great pride in it,” he says. But he stops laughing soon, and though he’s still smiling there’s an air of sadness and uncertainty about him. “What about your brother?” he asks softly, “Do I tell him?”

Sebastian tenses again, looking down. “No,” he hastens to say, “Not yet. I’ll find him.”

Magnus’ smile softens up. “That is, if he doesn’t find you first,” he says, “You should’ve seen him, when they told him you were missing.”

His words stir something in Sebastian. He closes his hands in fists and swallows hard. He does want to see Jace, he really does. It’s just too early. He needs some more time on his own. Just some more time to get used to himself.

“Let’s not worry about it now,” Magnus interrupts his thoughts, hooking their arms together and boldly walking out of the house, “Come, I know a place where they sell the best gelato in town. You need to try it.”

Sebastian’s not sure trying gelato is exactly what he needs right now. It definitely is what he wants, though. It’s more than enough, for the time being.
Storia appartenente alla serie City of Hidden Houses, scritta in coppia con Tabata.
Genere: Drammatico, Introspettivo.
Pairing: Jace/Sebastian, Jace/Clary, Sebastian/Clary.
Rating: NC-17.
AVVERTIMENTI: Slash, What If?, Angst, Lemon, (somewhat) Incest, Death, Fluff, Spoiler.
- They were all thinking the cleansing power of the Heavenly Fire would've wiped Sebastian from the face of Earth, but that wasn't going to happen. Sebastian survived, somewhat different, somewhat changed, and was held in prison while outside the conditions of the treaty decided by the Nephilim drove the Fairies to move war against them.
Three years later, the war is still going on, at least until Clary (who now has a son with Jace) tries a bold move to stop it. It doesn't work, and Clary gets killed by the Seelie Queen. When Sebastian receives the news, he escapes from his cell and exacts his vengeance before disappearing into thin air.
This is Jace finding him.
Note: La mia è pazzia. Solo io nel mondo posso farmi raccontare dalla mia donna la storia di sei libri che mai nella vita leggerò, innamorarmi dell'antagonista finale e poi mettermi a plottare con lei storie in cui ello sopravvive invece di morire. Ma se mi fossi fermata qui, magari... e invece no, io dovevo scrivere. La follia.
Comunque, fatto sta: io questi sei libri non li ho mai letti, ho scritto sull'onda del mio amore per Sebastian e per il Jacebastian e ho cercato di attenermi a quanto la Tab mi ha raccontato del canon ma se ho fallito il motivo è questo XD
La storia è peraltro uno spin-off/prequel di Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby della Tab, ambientato, fai, un annetto prima. Inoltre, partecipa alla missione introduttiva dei The Pirates!, per farmi ascendere al glorioso grado di Sky Pirate, fuck yeah.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original characters and plots are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Jace can read on Sebastian’s face that, if he ever planned to see him again, this isn’t the time nor the place he’d have figured it’d be. It’s too soon, and this place was supposed to be a secret, he guesses. Not that he cares for Sebastian’s secrets. Or his feelings, he supposes. So what if it’s too soon? Bad shit always happens too soon. You’re never ready for it. He knows a thing or two about it. He can afford to be careless.

Sebastian isn’t surprised, anyway, which probably means he sensed him coming. That’s unsettling for various reasons. Not enough to really worry him, though. Possibly because he hasn’t really been worrying about a single thing – including his own safety and well-being – in quite a while, now. He’s not even sure he remembers what fearing for his life feels like. There’s just been numbness for much too long. But that’s okay. It feels better this way. Jace isn’t worried about this either, and the only thing that touches him, every once in a while, when he thinks about it, is that if Clary was there and found him like this, yes, she’d be worried for him. She would.

She isn’t here anymore, though. Jace pushes the thought away as fast as he possibly can. That’s not what he wants. Not what he’s here for.

“How did you find me?” Sebastian asks. It’s the first thing coming out of his mouth. Not a greeting, not a question about how he is or anything. Jace supposes he shouldn’t be surprised. He’s much changed, in a year, but maybe not quite enough yet to behave like a proper person.

“I just did,” he simply answers in a light shrug.

Sebastian raises an eyebrow, skeptically. “Just like that?”

Jace just nods. “Just like that.”

Sebastian takes quite a while to let that sink, accept it as a reasonable answer and put the question aside. “Well, I guess you can’t always explain everything,” he says, moving away from the door.

“No shit,” Jace answers, stepping in.

Sebastian closes the door, and the moment he does that, Jace can feel it, the apartment starts traveling, the Angel knows where to. He supposes he should be worried about that too, being basically trapped in a locked house headed for somewhere he doesn’t know – somewhere nobody knows, somewhere nobody could come to, to rescue him – but he isn’t. He just isn’t. He looks inside himself to find even the faintest trace of fear for himself, for his life, but there’s just none. It’s liberating, in a way.

“I didn’t plan it to happen like this,” Sebastian says, heading down the hallway and through a white wooden door into a small but comfortable sitting room. A couple of couches, a coffee table. Weird paintings hanging from the walls. An enormous TV screen that instantly gets Jace’s attention the moment he walks in.

“I read it on your face,” he answers, following him to one of the couches and sitting on it, on the opposite corner from him. “But you were planning for it, weren’t you?”

“To come find you?” Sebastian asks, crossing his legs. He doesn’t look like he wants to answer the question, but he ends up sighing and nodding. “Yes,” he says, “I wanted to see you. At some point. I don’t know when, though. Could’ve been in a couple months. Or in a couple of years.”

“You didn’t feel like you owed me an explanation, did you?” Jace asks, sharply.

Sebastian frowns, annoyed at him for the way he spoke. “No, I didn’t,” he admits, “Besides, I don’t think you need one. You know very well why I did what I did.”

“We had an arrangement,” Jace insists, looking sternly at him, “When the heavenly fire cleansed you, you agreed to stay locked up in exchange for your life. You shouldn’t have escaped the prison.”

“I couldn’t help myself,” Sebastian answers with a shrug, “And I’m not sorry for doing it, not any more than you are for not being there to stop me, which isn’t much,” he looks at him, straight into his eyes, “I know that. So, if you’re here to hear me apologize, you could’ve saved yourself the road. And if you’re here to bring me back, well, you can try but then you’d have to bring back my corpse.”

Jace falls silent, looking back at him for a few seconds. Then he averts his eyes, passing his fingers through is hair to get them off his neck. “I’m not here for any of that,” he admits, eventually.

“Then why are you?” Sebastian asks. It’s pretty clear he’s losing his patience. Jace knows Sebastian wanted to see him, it’s so clear it’s almost comical, but he also knows he doesn’t work well with plans going sideways. If he cared for his safety, he’d leave now. Luckily, he doesn’t.

“I’m here because I want to know,” he answers finally, looking back up at him. “You’re right,” he says, “I’m glad you escaped. I’m glad you found the Seelie Queen. I’m glad you killed her. I’m glad you slaughtered whoever tried to get in the way. I’d have done it myself if I could’ve. But I couldn’t, and you saved me a lot of trouble by doing it on your own.”

“So you’re saying,” Sebastian grins, “I was convenient.”

“Yes,” Jace answers, nodding without an hesitation, “Yes, you were. But to know you did it is not enough. I want to know how. I want to know the details. I want you to tell me. That’s why I’m here.”

Sebastian looks intently at him for almost a full minute. He could burst into laughing, Jace wouldn’t blame him for it. He wouldn’t blame him even if he kicked him out of the house, if he just had it stop in the middle of nowhere and dropped them there to die. He knows how selfish his words sounded. He knows they don’t just sound like that, they are like that. Sebastian would be entitled to just tell him to fuck off and get lost.

He doesn’t, though.

“Why don’t you speak about it with your parabatai?” he asks then, “He knows what happened. I’m sure he’s been told in enough details to make you happy. I take the story’s been traveling around the world. I put up quite a show.”

Jace frowns and looks away, Sebastian’s words hitting a nerve. “I’m not talking with Alec, right now.”

“Really?” Sebastian raises an eyebrow, unable to stop a smirk to curl his lips upwards, “What are you, twelve?”

Jace looks up at him, frowning sternly. “Shut up.”

Sebastian dismisses him quickly with half a laughter that echoes freely through the silent, almost empty apartment. “It wasn’t his fault, you know?” he says, “I had the Queen tell me everything. You know she cannot lie. It was Clary’s fault. She was reckless. You must know that. You were there too.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Jace cuts him out shortly, his voice a little shaky, “And then, if you know it was her fault, why did you kill the Queen? Why did you avenge her anyway?”

“Because I loved her,” Sebastian says, as if it was the simplest of truths. Somehow it still manages to hit Jace hard. “Doesn’t mean I can’t see she was at fault,” he goes on, shrugging lightly, “That’s all for you,” he adds with a vague smile.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he says back, annoyed again, “I loved her. She was perfect to me.”

“Yes, I know. I wasn’t mocking you. In fact, I think that’s kinda cute, in a very lame way.” Sebastian smiles, a somewhat sweet smile. It’s a little creepy on his face, Jace wouldn’t know why, but it still manages to make his features lighten up a bit.

That he can smile like this, that’s all part of the change. They had no idea how the Heavenly Fire would’ve affected him. They were pretty sure in the end he would’ve died. But he didn’t. Sebastian proved to be more resilient than they ever thought he’d be. Or maybe that was Jonathan. Jonathan, unable to accept the idea of dying before having ever lived a day.

It was maybe Jonathan who kept Sebastian alive against the cleansing power of the Heavenly Fire, but Jace has no idea who’s sitting right across him on this couch, right now. He’s not sure it’s Jonathan, but he doesn’t even seem like Sebastian, at least not the one he knew. Perhaps an entirely different person made by parts and parts of the two. He feels like asking, now, and so he does.

“How should I call you?” he says, looking curiously up at him, “Would you like it if I called you Jonathan?”

“I wouldn’t,” Sebastian answers quickly, shaking his head, “In fact, please, don’t call me that. That’s not me anymore. That’s never really been me. That’s what I could’ve been but never really was. It’s just Sebastian, now. I’m Sebastian.”

“But you’re different than who you were,” Jace insists, moving a little closer on the couch, “You feel different.”

Sebastian nods slowly, keeping quiet for a little while. “It does feel different,” he admits, “But when I look at myself in the mirror I don’t see a Jonathan. I still see who I was before the prison. Maybe changed, but I’m still that person. My latest actions prove that beyond any doubt, I think.”

Jace looks down, thinking it over. “No, I don’t think so,” he says, shaking his head, “This was different. You did it for a reason.”

“I always did whatever I did for a reason,” he corrects him, “You just didn’t share those, while you can share this. That’s the difference. It’s different for you, not for me, not really. But I do feel changed,” he sighs wearily, “A little bit colder, a little bit calmer, perhaps. I don’t know precisely. I haven’t had enough time to think it through. But I do know I still wanna go by Sebastian. That’s all I can say for now.”

Jace nods, settling more comfortably against the couch. “Fine by me,” he says, “I’m used to call you that anyway.”

Sebastian laughs, some high-picthed, kind of childish sound that makes Jace’s stomach twitch in a sudden spasm. He supposes that’s Sebastian’s amused laughter, the one he just heard. It sounded weird, the sound somebody who’s not really used to laugh that way would make. The idea makes him cringe, it makes him feel for him. He suddenly remembers that, when he insisted with Sebastian that he wanted him locked up and safe into a cell, it wasn’t because he believed he’d have tried to move war against the Nephilim again, because it was clear, clear in his eyes and he could read it so very easily, that he wasn’t even thinking about it. No, he wanted him in a prison because he wanted an excuse not to feel free to see him again. Because that’s what happens when he sees him. When he gets close to him. That connection that was never really severed, it comes back a thousandfold.

“Alright,” Sebastian says, “What do you wanna know?”

“Everything,” he answers immediately, his body tensing in anticipation, “From the beginning.”

“Mmh,” Sebastian nods, pensively. “Well, I received the news as I received every other news. Whispers, people outside my cell, guards. Everything I got to know about you and her, about what was happening, I knew that way. I knew of the treaty with the Fairies, I knew they had decided to refuse them and declare war. I knew of your son,” he smirks, “Little Thomas, isn’t it?”

“Don’t talk about him,” Jace says, protectively.

Sebastian just laughs and moves on. “Then suddenly I knew she was dead. Killed during a battle. I didn’t know the details of her plan, but I knew she was trying to put an end to the war. It felt like something she’d do,” he smiles sweetly, lost in memories of Clary that Jace would like to carve out of his head with his bare hands in a fit of jealousy that lingers on for a few minutes before disappearing into numbness too, “I cried,” Sebastian goes on, “And then something snapped inside me.”

“Like you went back to your old self?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Sebastian shakes his head, “I just snapped. I couldn’t stand the thought that she was dead, and yet she was. And what else could I do? Only kill her killer. So I escaped.”

“I know you didn’t kill the guards,” Jace says, looking at him.

“Yeah,” Sebastian looks away, weirdly embarrassed by the remark, “It seemed unnecessary.”

“It wouldn’t have been, years ago. You’d have killed them.”

“You can’t know that.”

“I can,” Jace smiles. It’s an unwilling smile that forces its way up to his lips. Jace doesn’t want to smile, and yet he does. “I know. I do.”

Sebastian looks at him silently for a few seconds, and then looks away again as he carries on with his story. “Anyway, I found her. It wasn’t hard. I had to slaughter a few dozens of fairies to get to her, but she wasn’t hiding from me. She probably thought I was there for something entirely different. She had no idea what was going on, she was very confused about the corpses. Hell,” he smiles bitterly, “She probably thought she had done me a favor or something.” Then the smile disappears quickly from his lips. “I made it instantly clear that it wasn’t so. I broke her legs at her knees so she couldn’t run away. Then I pinned her down on the ground and sat on her. Looked down at her. I started asking questions. I wanted to know. Because I wasn’t there, you know?” he looks up at Jace, his eyes cold, almost indifferent, but Jace knows, he just knows that this coldness is something Sebastian’s forcing upon himself. He’d like to tell him release. Release, let go. Get angry. He doesn’t, though. And Sebastian keeps talking. “I wasn’t there, I didn’t see her die. I only heard about it. The whispers, the talking. I didn’t see her fall. Her beautiful face bloody and broken. I didn’t hear her heart as it stopped beating.” He takes a moment to breathe slowly in and out, to calm down. “So I got the closest thing to it. I broke the Queen’s face. I tasted her blood. I listened as her heart stopped beating.”

Jace sits in silence, listening to him. His voice creates very vivid, very precise pictures that swim into view and then fade away. It’s a very safe way to assist to a homicide, he thinks. A very safe way to exact revenge.

“I was there,” he says in a low, uncertain voice, searching for Sebastian’s eyes and locking his own to them when he finds them, just to give himself something to concentrate on not to float away on his memories from that day, “I was there when it happened. I saw what you missed. Her broken body, her tears, the pain, the blood. I listened to her heart as it stopped beating and I’d give anything and everything to forget it. And then I’d give anything and everything for a chance to hear what you heard, to see what you saw. The Queen as she died.” He smiles faintly, trying to kick back the tears. “We both want things we cannot have.”

“That’s very us,” Sebastian admits with a small smile, and Jace nods slowly.

“Was it hard,” he asks then, “To kill her?”

“Well,” Sebastian shrugs, his voice sounding lighter now that the worst part’s over, “She did put up a little bit of a fight.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Jace shakes his head, interrupting him, “I mean, you’ve been with her, for a time. You shared the bed. Didn’t you love her?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sebastian says harshly, “She was irrelevant.”

Jace nods again, looking down. That’s what Sebastian was, isn’t it? Back before the war, and the fights, and the Heavenly Fire. Much like him, he didn’t really care who ended up in his bed, or who ended up dead by his hand, as long as somebody did. “Irrelevant,” he says, “As so many others.”

“Never you,” Sebastian instantly says, his eyes stern, his features tense, “Never Clary.”

“That’s always been painfully obvious,” Jace snorts half a laughter, relaxing against the back of the couch. He spreads his legs, stretches them out. He feels comfortable. He hasn’t felt this comfortable in a long time. He wonders if he should feel bad about this. He knows Alec’s doing his best to atone for not being fast enough that day. He knows that, despite how hard it is for him now, he’s trying to make him feel better, to give him something to cling to, a place to call home, some sort of new meaning for a life without Clary.

But there isn’t one. Jace would like to tell him, every now and then, but he knows Alec would end up asking him what about Thomas, then?, and he’s not ready to answer this question. What about Thomas? He doesn’t know. Thomas is just a baby, he’s three years old, he’s nothing but a running toddler that only lives and breathe to eat and sleep and play. What about him, Jace doesn’t know. Can he love him? He does. He did it, when Clary was alive and they were a family and raising a child seemed like the best thing they could possibly hope for in their life. But does he want to be with him right now? No, he doesn’t.

He wants to be here. He doesn’t know how long, or for what, but right now, right this moment, he wants to be here, with Sebastian, in this closed space where Clary is still a thing, a dead thing but still a thing, and things get done in her name, people die, a hundred fairies, and Sebastian and him can still talk about her, and she can still exist, if only though their voices.

Nobody talks about Clary anymore, back at the Institute. Nobody. They probably think they’re doing him a favor. They don’t get it, though. That he wants to talk about her. About the way she died and how much it hurts not to have her anymore. If he stops talking about her, he lets her go. Sebastian gets it. And Jace wants this.

“So?” Sebastian says, “You got what you wanted. What now?”

“Yeah, what now?” Jace asks back, turning to look at him, “You said you weren’t planning to come see me soon. So you didn’t want to. How could you not want to see me?”

“How could you not want to see me while I was in prison for three years?” Sebastian shrugs carelessly.

“But I did,” Jace answers, “I wanted to.”

Sebastian gives in to a bitter smirk, shaking his head. “You didn’t come visit me once. All those years. Not once.”

“That’s true,” Jace nods, “I wanted to see you. I just didn’t wanna do it.”

Sebastian frowns, looking at him. “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean,” Jace answers simply, “I didn’t know what could’ve happened if I came. You could’ve convinced me to do something. Free you or something else. I didn’t want to take the chance.”

Sebastian looks at him silently for quite a long time, and then sighs, shaking his head. “You’ve never been the smartest brother,” he comments wearily.

Jace bursts into laughing, throwing his head back. “That’s right,” he admits nodding, “But you got what I mean, anyway. I wanted to see you. Even if you hadn’t killed the Queen, I’d have searched for you.”

“Yeah, to put me back in prison.”

“Possibly, yes,” Jace nods again, “But still. I’d have wanted to see you first.”

“Jace,” Sebastian says, impatience leaking into his voice, “What are you trying to have me say, right now? Be clear about it.”

Jace smiles softly, looking away. “I would, if I knew, but I don’t know. I want something, but I don’t know what it is. Company, maybe. Comfort. I don’t know. Closeness.”

The words have the undeniable merit to reduce Sebastian to complete silence for a second. Jace looks at his expression – a perfect blend of incredulity and confusion – and can’t help but smile at it, proud with himself for taking him aback like this.

“You want me to get close?” Sebastian asks, his voice a little darker. Jace can sense he’s not exactly angry, just bothered. It’s kinda funny. It gives him some kind of thrill. That hasn’t happened, lately. He was longing for it – he realizes it only now that he’s feeling it.

He sits straight, sliding towards him on the couch. “That’s not necessary,” he says, “I can get close too.”

Sebastian doesn’t move, he just looks at him, watching his every move. He’s not annoyed by Jace’s proximity. He’s okay with sharing the same space, he’s always been. There’s never been any embarrassment between them, their connection made it useless because they always knew what the other was feeling as if they were feeling it on their own skin. There’s nothing you can be embarrassed about when you share everything.

“I know why you’re doing this,” Sebastian says. They’re so close his breath brushes Jace’s lips with every word. He hasn’t been this close to anybody since Clary. Not even Thomas. “You think if you do this you’ll feel better, afterwards, but I’m not so sure.”

“I’m sure I won’t,” Jace says, shaking his head, “There’s nothing that will make me feel better about it. It’s just impossible. But it can take my mind off things.”

“Fine, but why me?” Sebastian insists, lifting a hand to brush Jace’s shoulder, his fingers traveling upwards, along his neck, to his jaw. “You could go out. Find a girl. Bang her senseless. You don’t need me for that.”

“You’re wrong,” Jace lifts himself up on his knees, standing right in front of Sebastian with his hands on both his shoulders. “You’re wrong, it’s gotta be you. Because of what you did. Because you killed the Queen.”

“That’s sick,” Sebastian looks away, but Jace holds his chin between his fingers and makes him turn back to him.

“You’re in no position to judge,” he says.

“I’m not.”

“Because what you did,” he goes on, “Breaking the Queen like that, that’s sick too.”

“I know.”

“Then let go,” Jace says, lowering himself upon him, “And give me what I want.”

Sebastian’s hand moves faster than Jace was expecting it too. It closes roughly around his hair, pulling his head back in a hard, careless tug that makes Jace hiss in pain. “I could give you more than you’re willing to take,” he whispers on Jace’s neck, “Don’t make the mistake to think you can handle me, little brother, because you can’t. I may be changed, but I’m still me.”

“You don’t get it,” Jace answers, closing his eyes as the sharpness of the pain awakens his senses, reviving his body, “It’s you I want. I don’t want to handle you. I’m glad that I can’t.” He fights the pull of Sebastian’s fingers enough to make himself able to look down at him again, and this time he doesn’t lower himself on him slowly, he doesn’t give him a chance to push him back again. He presses his parted lips against Sebastian’s and kisses him hungrily, messily, holding his head between his hands. “I want you to overwhelm me. I need you to hit hard and make me forget. So what if this won’t make me feel better after it’s over? It will make me feel better while it’s still going on. That’s more than I’ve had since she died. And you’re the only one who can give it to me. So fucking give it to me, Sebastian.”

His brother doesn’t answer with words, and Jace is thankful for it. Besides, how useless would it be? Sebastian gets it, he knows it, Jace is sure of it as he’s sure of the pain he feels, of the need that’s devouring him from inside, of the sadness that drags him down into a dark pit every time he pictures Clary’s face in his memories. He doesn’t need to explain anything and Sebastian doesn’t need to hear any explanation, their lips pressed together are answer enough to pretty much everything that’s happening right now or that happened in the last few days. Sebastian’s escape, the Seelie Queen’s death, Jace’s sadness and loneliness, his inability to deal with his son, everything led to this moment, to them touching, to them sharing their mourning as they’ve always been supposed to do.

Sebastian stands up, dragging Jace with himself. He walks backwards out of the room, his lips never leaving Jace’s, his hands closed in a clutch around his shoulders first, around his hips right after. He leads him to the bedroom, a big, dark room with a big, dark bed right in the middle of it. Just one window, closed shut. There’s no light to be seen, there’s no light with which to see. They can’t even see their faces, but they can feel one another. Their pointy angles, the strength of their muscles, the sharpness of their movements. Hands claw, nails scratch, teeth bite while tongues lick and mouth kiss and noses stroke, tenderness moves together with roughness, pain and pleasure come in a weirdly mismatched pair that feels right despite being wrong for so many reasons Jace struggles to count them all.

They rub against one another as simply as any natural reaction would demand, and just when Jace is starting to wonder about what comes after, if it’s gonna be awkward, if they won’t know what to do and if they will be forced to stop because some things you can’t expect to come naturally, some things you’ve gotta talk through, just then Sebastian’s hips thrust forward and Jace’s legs spread open, as if answering an untold question with something ridiculously obvious.

He’s glad that Sebastian doesn’t ask if he’s sure about it, because he honestly doesn’t know. He wants this, that he knows, but the rest is confused, blurry, and questions easily fade away whenever Sebastian’s hands close around him, touching him, stroking him.

Once he really understands where this is going, once he lets the notion sink in, he expects there to be pain, and there is, but not nearly as much as he thought there’d be. There’s some stinging and some uncomfortableness, and then there’s the feeling of something sharp and clearly too big to fit passing right through him in a jolt of pain, but it dies out, it fades away quicker than expected. And after that, there’s only a blissful sense of completeness, an overwhelming feeling of belonging.

That’s it, he thinks, closing his eyes and clinging to Sebastian as he moves inside him. That’s what he wanted. That’s exactly it.

The room falls quiet, once it’s over. And Sebastian was right, Jace doesn’t feel better now. But he does feel at peace. That’s enough of an improvement, for now.

Sebastian rolls on his back, lying down beside him. Jace doesn’t want to move, and so he lies still, breathing heavily, breathing in the scent of sex and them and fills the air of the closed room. He can see the ceiling, now that his eyes got used to the darkness. It’s perfectly white and enriched with delicate low relief geometric decorations. It’s classy, he digs it. From what he’s seen of the rest of the house, it’s all decorated in the same simple but elegant way.

“I like what you did with the place,” he says casually. Sebastian lets go of a breathless laughter, somewhere on his left, and Jace lifts just his head from the pillow, to look at his brother’s outline in the dark. “I’m serious,” he says, “It’s pretty. Don’t fucking mock me for saying it. Learn to take a compliment.”

“Jeez,” Sebastian smirks, passing a hand through his sweaty fair hair, “Don’t get so worked up. I like the place too, but I didn’t make it. Besides, I just laughed because it was a funny thing you said.”

“It’s not a funny thing,” Jace sighs, lying back down, “It’s just post-sex cliché chat. Normal people do that.”

“We’re not normal people, though,” Sebastian chuckles, amused.

“No, we’re not, but it feels good to pretend,” Jace shrugs. “Who did it, anyway?”

Sebastian turns to look at him for a second, and then settles down on his side not to have to look away. “You mean, who decorated the place?”

“And gave it to you, yes,” Jace nods, lying down in a position mirroring Sebastian’s, who laughs again, amused.

“I don’t know if I should tell you,” he says, “He’s somebody close to you.”

Jace frowns, puzzled. At first he can’t understand who Sebastian could be talking about, but then he starts getting it, and his eyes clear up, and his brow unfurls. “You mean…”

“Magnus,” he nods.

“Of all the people…” Jace whines, covering his face with one hand, “Besides, I thought you hated him as every other downworlder.”

“He was the easiest solution,” Sebastian shrugs, “I escaped from the Seelie Queen’s lair, I was confused and covered in fairy blood, not to mention the fact that I thought I had the Clave and the entire Nephilim population on my back. I needed to disappear a while and I knew he could help me. That he could give me a place like the one we used to have, before Clary blew it up,” he adds with a soft smile.

Jace looks at him for a few seconds, amused at the tenderness with which he remembers everything about her. He knows he was broken by losing the only thing he had left of Valentine. He knows he hated Clary for destroying it. But now that she’s dead everything seems so irrelevant. Everything about her is sweet, even the things that weren’t so when she was alive. It’s unfair and it’s a lie, but it’s a comfortable lie, and Jace likes the way it makes him feel, so he goes with it.

“So you just showed up at Magnus’ door and expected him to help you,” he says mockingly.

“Kind of, yeah,” Sebastian nods, “He didn’t want to, obviously. He asked me, why should I help you. And I told him he should do it because I was asking. He didn’t think it enough of a reason, so I threatened to kill him. He just laughed at my face,” Sebastian laughs too, remembering it, “And so I gave up and I just spoke freely. I killed a hundred of fairies, I told him, to avenge my sister. And I’m in pain, and I don’t wanna go back to prison. I don’t, I said,” and he shivers a bit on this, “So help me, please. That’s what I told him.”

Jace instinctively slides closer to him on the bed, covering his lips with his own in a soft kiss. “I bet that convinced him,” he says with a smirk.

Sebastian just nods, accepting the kiss and kissing him back, but without a smile. “I don’t know why, but it did.”

“I know,” Jace says, “He’s got a soft spot for lost causes. You’re definitely one.”

Honestly, Jace thinks Magnus probably caught a glimpse of the truth. Of the real reason why Sebastian had killed the Seelie Queen, of the real reason why he was on the run now, of the real reason why it was important for him to stay out of prison, to be right here in this place when Jace would come seeking him. Jace couldn’t bet on it, but Magnus has always been particularly sensitive about these things. He probably just knew it’d all turn out fine if he helped the deranged kid get out of troubles, as he had done all his life.

He could tell all this to Sebastian. Tell him, I think you’re here for a reason. I think we met again for a reason. I think that reason is that we’re supposed to be together, whatever that might mean.

But it’s funnier to just mock him, to see his lips purse in an outraged pout for being called a lost cause. He laughs to Sebastian’s face, and when Sebastian hits him on his shoulder with a hard knock he laughs even more, indifferent to the pain.

“Anyway, you couldn’t have chosen a worse savior,” he sighs, looking back up at the ceiling, “You don’t wanna be there when Alec finds out.”

“Like I give a shit about it?” Sebastian raises an eyebrow, “Besides, isn’t your parabatai supposed to be dealing with way more important problems, right now? Like a war, for example.”

“The war is over,” Jace informs him, “The day after you killed the Queen, the fairies yielded. They thought we had sent you over to put an end to it. Like some sort of weapon of mass destruction,” he adds with a wicked grin, “You basically ended the war. Can you believe it? Fucking hero of the day.”

“Fuck yeah,” Sebastian laughs, “And I bet the Clave was eager to take advantage of that, despite it being a lie.”

“Let’s just say,” Jace shrugs, “That if you came back now and asked for forgiveness they probably wouldn’t deny it to you.”

“Too bad I’m not interested,” Sebastian answers, turning on his stomach, “I want nothing from them. Just to be left in peace.”

“That’s what they’re going to do, anyway,” Jace nods, “They already stopped searching for you. They’ve gotta keep up appearances, you can’t be a wanted criminal if they’re making the fairies believe they were the ones who freed you and sent you after them.”

“Makes sense,” Sebastian sighs, resting his head against the pillow once again. Silence covers them for a few seconds. It feels good. Quiet. But it still feels good even when Sebastian breaks it, asking a question Jace already knew was coming. “So what about you, now, little brother? What do you wanna do?”

“I don’t know,” he answers honestly, his eyes getting a little darker, “Stay here a while, I guess. That an option?”

“Could be,” Sebastian shrugs, “We’d probably end up bashing our heads in after three days, but I’m willing to try,” he says with a small laughter, that Jace echoes with one of his own.

“Then that’s what I’m gonna do, for now,” Jace answers.

Sebastian nods, pensively. “What about the child, though?” he asks.

Jace sighs, closing his eyes. “He’s a child,” he answers, “I don’t know. He doesn’t know anything, I mean, we told him his mother isn’t here anymore, but he’s just too young to understand. Sometimes I resent him for that, you know?” he says, looking up at Sebastian, “For not being old enough to get it. I wish I could share this with him, but I can’t, and when I think he won’t even remember his mother’s face except through pictures and tales I get angry at her. For leaving us too soon. For leaving me… with this.”

Sebastian nods again, and this time he’s the one moving closer and leaving a kiss on Jace’s lips. Then he smirks. “I’d like to meet him, one day,” he says in a lighthearted laughter.

“Wow,” Jace laughs too, shaking his head, “Never gonna happen. Don’t even think about it. I’m not gonna introduce my son to the psychopath of the family.”

The words are harsh, but his voice isn’t. Actually, it’s more than just that. The denial hides an opposite promise that fills Sebastian with expectation. Jace feels it crackle under his own skin, and his heart just naturally starts sharing the same feeling. He could smuggle Thomas out of the Institute, he ponders, take him to meet his uncle. He wouldn’t have to explain him everything, just that he’s related to his mom. Thomas would be thrilled. He’s eager to grasp everything that can extend his contact with his mother despite her absence. That’s basically the only thing he shares with Jace right now, and maybe this apartment, against all odds, could be the right place from which to start again.

But that will need to be considered carefully. There are choices to make, pros and cons to think about. That’s too much work, for tonight, and Jace just wants to sleep. He hears Sebastian stand up from the bed and announce he’s gonna go take a shower. “I’ll just take a nap,” he says. Sebastian doesn’t even answer, but before he goes he lays down a blanket over him. Smiling in the warmth of both the wool and the considerate thought, Jace easily falls asleep.