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I Can't Sleep Without Your Breathing

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Alec intercepted Clary before she could follow Jace and Valentine. And then immediately shoved her into Izzy’s arms, and bolted into the portal himself.

 

He landed on the other side, sprawled on the floor.

 

“Alec!” He heard Jace cry out, open distraught panic in his voice and thrumming across their bond. Then he heard laughter. Looking up, he saw the glee on Valentine’s face.

 

“Well, this wasn’t part of the plan. But I can work with it.” He gestured to one of his minions. “Just put them both in the room I set aside for Jonathan.”

 

The room was tiny. It had most likely been a utility closet. There was an old military cot mattress in the corner, and really nothing else.

 

“Flip ya for it.” Alec said sardonically. Jace glared at him.

 

“What the everliving fuck were you thinking?!” He shouted.

 

“I was thinking that there was no way I was going to let you run into something like this alone!”

 

They slept that night, pressed together, back to back, the sound of each other’s breathing the only comfort in the darkness.

 

~*~

 

In the morning, guards came and marched them into a larger room. They could hear the buzzing of the lightbulbs above them, and the water hitting the sides of the ship outside. Both of them stared ahead, battle faces on. Valentine grinned at them.

 

“Well. Look at you. My boy all grown up. And you...” He walked up to Alec, taking his chin in his hand. “You look so much like your mother.” He said wistfully. “You don’t look anything like Robert, do you? I wonder how much you take after her.”

 

“Well, the barely contained violent temper really got passed down. Would you like a demonstration?” Valentine laughed before the smile left his face and he backhanded Alec across the face. Jace shouted but Alec barely grunted as his head snapped to the side. Taking a deep breath, he righted himself and stared defiantly at their captor. “What do you think she’s gonna do to you for this?” He asked quietly. “You know her so well? What do you think the price is for hurting her kids?”

 

“Oh, my Maryse would never hurt me.” Valentine smiled again. “She was the only one I could trust in the end. She only turned herself in to protect you and your sister. That’s why I sent Jonathan to her. I knew she would take care of him. Raise him right. With his siblings.”

 

“She did a better job than you.” Jace growled.

 

“I’m going to make this simple, boys. This doesn’t have to be painful. All I ask is obedience.” He smirked at Alec. “Jonathan can tell you exactly how to behave. He was always such a good boy.”

 

“Please don’t!” Jace yelled, his face losing its mask, fear peeking through. “Please.” He whispered. “I’ll do whatever you say, just leave him alone. Please.”

 

“Oh, I know you will. But will he?”

 

“Jace, no!” Alec stared at his brother in confusion. “I didn’t come here so he could use me against you. We can get through this together, but you can’t just give up! You can’t let him win!”

 

“He always wins.”

 

“Jace, what is going on?” Alec had never seen him like this. So scared and defeated. Alec didn’t know what was about to happen, but it seemed Jace did.

 

“You don’t look like Robert.” Valentine mused again, taking Alec’s jaw in his hand, gripping tight as his forced his head from side to side. “I’ll bet you don’t act like him, either.” He smirked. “Hodge tells me you’re a natural leader. Strong. Ruthless. You do what needs to be done, no matter how unsavory it might be. You understand the importance of the greater good. Of compromise and sacrifice.” He nodded and patted Alec’s cheek. “Jocelyn was always so sweet. But Maryse? Oh, she was my favorite. I truly do love that woman.” Alec stared at him, confused.

 

“What are you...” He tried to pull away from him. His eyes darted over to Jace, who looked just as shocked as he was.

 

“Isabelle looks just like her too. Pity she and Clary didn’t come along after all. We could’ve had a real family reunion.” He chuckled and walked over to Jace, petting his hair back like he was soothing a nervous dog. “Did you think I would just send you away to strangers? Did you think I wouldn’t give you to family?”

 

Alec felt his chest constrict. “You’re lying.” He choked out, shaking his head.

 

“I think you know I’m not. You’re nothing like Robert, you never have been. Neither is your sister. You’re both the definition of true Morgensterns. Resilient. Innovative. Brilliant. Hodge told me what the three of you have accomplished together, and I couldn’t be more proud.” He moved back over to Alec and took his face in his hands. “I’ll teach you how to be my son. Your brother will help you understand. And then we’ll go get your sisters back.”

 

Alec felt his face flush. He couldn’t breathe. It was too hot. Valentine’s voice sounded so far away. “No!” He gasped out.

 

Valentine sighed, disappointed. “I should’ve known you wouldn’t go down easy. Too much like your mother.” He landed a punch to Alec’s stomach and Alec dropped to his hands and knees. Alec could her Jace shouting. It was so distant. Wasn’t he standing right next to him? Valentine was saying something. And then Alec felt fingers tangle in his hair, and pull hard, yanking him up on his knees. He stared up at Valentine’s face. His jawline. His eyes were a different color, but the same shape. That annoyed frustrated look. Alec looked just like Maryse. Except in certain places. And he could see all those places on Valentine’s face. His vision focused as he started to regain his breath. He could hear Jace again. It sounded like he was crying. Begging. Jace didn’t beg. Hadn’t since they were kids. Valentine had a tight grip on his hair, and was tracing his face with his other hand. His fingers were rough. Alec couldn’t help but flinch as they grazed his skin. He reached up and grabbed weakly and Valentine’s wrists.

 

“Let me go.” He growled. Valentine just laughed.

 

“See that? That fight. That rage. Jonathan doesn’t have that. He’ll struggle at first, but it doesn’t take much to make him behave. You, though? I’m gonna have to break you. That’s the difference between Jocelyn and Maryse, I suppose.” Alec looked at Jace. There were tears on his face and two Circle members were holding him back. Alec could feel this swell of emotion through the bond.

 

“Please!” Jace was repeating over and over like a litany. “This is why I’m here! That was the deal! You take me, and you leave the others alone!”

 

“But your brother volunteered.” Valentine brushed his thumb over Alec’s mouth, and Alec willed himself not to start shaking. “Besides. I hear this one gives it up for a filthy warlock. I have my work cut out for me. We’ll have to teach him how to behave.”

 

Alec felt his stomach roll. Everything he was ignoring, the reality of his situation, everything that was about to happen, came washing over him. “Sick son of a bitch.” He spat out. “I mean, I knew you were a monster, but really? You rape your own children and still think you’re the good guy?”

 

“Oh, I wouldn’t call it rape.”

 

“Of course you wouldn’t.”

 

“I call it obedience training. And besides. Jonathan always enjoyed it. Didn’t you?” They both looked at Jace, who was trembling, head bowed, and eyes squeezed shut. “I asked you a question, Jonathan.” Valentine snapped. Jace just flinched and let out a whimper. Alec had never seen him like this. Valentine let go of him, and Alec tried to jump up, but was stopped by a sword to his neck courtesy of a circle member whose death would not be quick. Valentine stepped in front of Jace and wrapped a hand around his throat, the other hand tilting his head up and petting his hair. Alec wanted to break his hands. “I asked you a question, Jonathan.” He repeated, softer this time. “Look at me.” Jace opened his eyes. “You like it when daddy fucks you, don’t you?” His voice was sweet, and Alec could feel the sword digging into his neck as he tried to lunge forward.

 

“Yes sir.” Jace whispered, barely audible, his voice wet with tears.

 

“Good boy.” Valentine cooed, pressing a firm kiss to Jace’s lips. Alec could see red and black blurring the edges of his vision. “You see, Alexander?” The name sounded wrong in his mouth. “Your brother knows how to behave, and when he does, he doesn’t get hurt. It’s simple. All I ask is loyalty and obedience.”

 

“And if I give you neither?” Alec spat.

 

“Then you get punished.”

 

“Do your worst. I’m not afraid of you.”

 

“Hm. No. But if punishment doesn’t work on you, I’ll just have to punish your brother in your place.”

 

Alec’s chest ached. He could hear Jace next to him, whispering desperately, “It’s okay. It’s okay, Alec. I can take it, I’ll be fine.” He was hyperventilating. “Please!” He said louder, trying to catch his breath. “Please, father, please. I’ll be responsible for him. I’ll be good, I promise, you know I will! Just leave him alone. I’ll do whatever you want.”

 

“You’ll do that anyway.” Valentine mused. “But will he? I don’t think he will. Too much fire in him. Just like his mother. And there was only one way to ever keep her in line.” Alec didn’t want to know what he meant by that, but he had a feeling he was about to find out. Valentine let out a sharp whistle and snapped his fingers at his minions, pointing at Alec. “Put him on the wall. And you’re going to want to secure his brother.” Alec was pushed face first against the back wall. His shirt was removed, and his wrists shackled next to his head. He could hear Valentine moving behind him. “Does Maryse still use her whip?” Alec contemplated ignoring him, but he didn’t know what that would mean for Jace.

 

“No. She gave it to Izzy.”

 

Valentine chuckled. “Well. That makes sense.”

 

“No! Nonono, come on, please! Please don’t!” Alec could hear chains rattling as Jace shouted behind him. That didn’t bode well. He didn’t have time to worry about it before he heard a sharp crack, and felt pain bloom in his shoulder. He grit his teeth. Seriously? He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could take it.

 

Alec didn’t know how much time had passed. He could hear Jace crying and begging beyond the blood pounding in his ears. His back felt like it was on fire. He wasn’t sure if it was sweat or blood, he felt running down his spine. He pressed his face to the cold metal in front of him. He could take it.

 

He wasn’t sure when he started begging. By the time he realized he was talking, he was already promising all sorts of things if Valentine would just stop. He felt like he was torn apart. Ripped open and flayed alive. Maybe he was. He couldn’t hear Jace’s voice anymore.

 

He wasn’t sure when it stopped. He felt fingers running through his hair. It felt nice. Lips pressed to his temple. “Good boy. You did so well. I’m very proud of you.” Alec couldn’t place the voice. But the words were nice. He felt his iratze rune being activated.

 

“Thank you.” He rasped out.

 

“You’re welcome, son.”

 

Alec woke up with his face pressed to soft denim, and his brother’s voice above him. “I’m so sorry. This is all my fault. You shouldn’t be here. This shouldn’t have happened. It’s only going to get worse. He always gets what he wants. I’m sorry Alec. I’m so sorry.”

 

“Shhh.” He slurred out, fingers gripping the legs he was laying on. “It’s okay. I’m okay. We’re okay. Not your fault. None of it.”

 

Jace squeezed his hand and stroked his hair. Alec drifted back to sleep. It was okay. They would be okay.

 

~*~

 

The next day, Alec’s back was pristine, and they were brought back to the same room.

 

“What do you think, Alexander?” Alec grit his teeth as Valentine drawled out his full name. It was like a cruel mockery of the way Magnus said it. “Are you ready to behave?”

 

“I guess that depends on what you have in mind.”

 

“That doesn’t matter. The point is total obedience. It shouldn’t matter what I tell you to do, I expect you to do it without question.” He snapped his fingers. “Jonathan, come here.” He pointed at the floor in front of him. Alec seethed at the way he treated Jace like a dog. But the fact that Jace went along with it hurt more. He looked better than yesterday. Not quite as distraught and broken. His ‘tough soldier’ face back on. Jaw clenched and eyes hard. But there was a defeated slump to his shoulders. A resignation in the way he moved. He stood in front of his father- their father- and stared at the floor. “On your knees.” Valentine ordered. Alec’s stomach twisted as Jace’s dropped down. He scanned the room. Too many guards. They were too exhausted. No weapons, no steles. Neither of them had eaten since... they didn’t stand a chance. They could try to fight. They would lose. And who knew what would happen then. He clenched his fists, helpless to do anything but watch as Valentine pet Jace’s head. “Are you still my good boy?”

 

“Yes.” The whisper was soft. Defeated. Resigned. Broken. Alec was confused for a moment. Jace never just gave up like this. But then he realized. It was because of him. Jace wouldn’t risk Alec being punished for his defiance. Would it have been better if Alec haven’t followed? Valentine tapped his foot on the floor, and Jace closed his eyes, let out a shuddering breath, and leaned down, pressing his lips to the toe of Valentine’s boot. Alec was shaking, using every ounce of his self-control not to lunge at Valentine and try to kill him with his bare hands. Valentine lifted Jace’s head with his foot.

 

“I know you remember what to do.”

 

“Please... I will. I’ll be good. Just please send Alec back to the room. Or take me somewhere else. Please... don’t... I don’t want-” Jace’s quiet pleading was cut off with a yelp as Valentine pulled him up further by his hair.

 

“Since when do you think that it matters what you want?” He asked sharply. “Your brother is here for a reason. You’re going to show him how to behave. Now get to it. Don’t make me tell you again.” He released him, shoving him back down roughly. Jace took a few slow shaky deep breaths and nodded. Alec could see his face go blank. Could feel the bond cinch off from his end, blocking him out. Alec held his breath. He knew what was going to happen. But that didn’t prepare him for what felt like a kick to the chest when he watched Jace’s hands undo Valentine’s trousers. He twitched and shifted, wanting to stop this, wanting to save him. But there was nothing he could do. He was helpless. Useless. He had imagined a hundred times how Jace would look... but this was... and he was his brother. Really, truly his brother. Guilt swelled in him twice over. Was this how Jace felt when he found out about Clary? He could hear the circle members laughing and jeering. Their words making his ears burn. Alec could feel the tears burning in his eyes, but he willed himself to not let them fall. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. When it was finally over, Jace sat back on his heels, panting for breath as he wiped his mouth, staring at the floor.

 

“Do you understand, Alexander?”

 

“I understand a lot of things.” Alec growled. Valentine sighed and scratched at the back of Jace’s head.

 

“You’ve been so good. I think you’ve earned a reward.”

 

When they were sent back to their room, Valentine handed Jace a paper bag. “It’s in your best interest and his that he falls in line.” He told him, before leaving and locking the door behind him. Once they were alone, Alec felt the tears finally fall, and wrapped his arms around Jace. He held him close as Jace gasped out more apologies.

 

“Hush.” Alec said gently. “Stop. I told you. None of this is your fault. None of it. You have nothing to apologize for.” Jace shook his head, clinging to him. “Okay, come on. Let’s get some rest.” He settled them both down on the bed, holding Jace close to his chest. “We’re gonna be okay. It’s all gonna be okay.” He opened the paper bag Jace had dropped on the bed next to them. Inside was a small Tupperware container full of cold spaghetti and a plastic fork.

 

~*~

 

When the guards collected Alec and told Jace he was to stay in the room, both of them objected strongly. But it was no use. Alec was brought to a different room this time. Small, but clearly meant to be a bunk. The bed wasn’t much, but it looked comfortable. There was a desk in one corner, and a wooden trunk in the other. The desk was covered with books and papers. Valentine stood in the middle of the room, arms crossed, studying him. Alec willed himself to stay still, face blank, and crossed his own arms as well. They were alone in the room. He had seen no less than six men and women just outside the door. He couldn’t see any weapons he could grab. And he knew there was no way he could beat Valentine hand to hand. So he stood and stared back at him. Waiting.

 

“Do you know what else Hodge told me?” Valentine finally asked. Alec sighed and shrugged. “He told me about the way you look at Jonathan.” Alec’s blood went cold. “The way you touch him. How possessive you are of him. I mean, I can’t say I blame you. He’s a beautiful little angel, isn’t he?” Alec grit his teeth, breath controlled and steady. “Have you taken him yet? Hodge didn’t think so.” Alec could taste blood in the back of his mouth. “It’s incredible how you kids have just been so drawn to each other. The connection you have. My children.” His voice sounded like a normal father being proud of his kids. Alec wanted to be sick. Valentine stepped closer to him. “But then he told me about that warlock. What were you thinking? Those filthy creatures don’t deserve you. They’re animals.”

 

“And what exactly are you?” Alec bit out, seething. Valentine stepped closer, put his hand around Alec’s throat and pushed him back against the wall.

 

“I am your father.” He growled. “You belong to me, and I won’t have some two-bit demon spawn touching what’s mine.”

 

There were so many things Alec wanted to say. But all that managed to escape his mouth was “I’m taller than you.” It was said flatly, almost curious, like he’d just noticed. Which he had. He stood maybe an inch or two taller than Valentine. It wasn’t any kind of advantage, just a little anecdote that his mind picked up on. Valentine startled slightly. Like he wasn’t expecting that kind of random detour. And then he smiled.

 

“I suppose we’ll have to do something about that.” He pulled Alec back over to the bed by his neck, and threw him to the ground in front of it. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Valentine stared down at him for a moment. “Get up. On your knees. Here.” He snapped his fingers and pointed to the ground in front of him.

 

Alec panted harshly, face heating. “I’m not a goddamned dog.” He growled. Though he did sit up as it was better than lying face down on the floor.

 

“I know you’re smarter than this. I know you know you won’t like what will happen if you don’t follow orders.”

 

“What are you gonna do? Rape me? Flay my back open? Beat me? Kill me? That’s all going to happen anyway, so why should I make it easy for you?” He was nearly shouting. The last few days building inside of him, making him feel like he was going to burst. Valentine didn’t twitch. He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.

 

“Because if you don’t behave, and do as I say, I’m going to have my men go pick up little Max, and bring him back here. Maybe he’ll be a good boy for me. Maybe I’ll let my men help train him. I know that one is Robert’s, but Hodge tells me he has his mother’s spirit. I can work with that.”

 

Alec felt the room spin. The air pulled from his lungs. He understood. That open desperate terror on Jace’s face. He didn’t know why it didn’t occur to him that Max would be in danger too. How old must Jace have been when it started? Before he had even noticed, he was moving to kneel between Valentine’s legs. “If you touch him... if you have anyone else...”

 

Valentine cupped Alec’s cheek in his hand. “If you and Jonathan are good, I won’t need Max.” Alec’s eyes slid shut and he nodded slightly. “Good boy.” Valentine said proudly, and leaned down, taking Alec’s mouth with his own. A shiver ran down Alec’s spine. He knew it was coming. Knew what he was agreeing to. But he wasn’t prepared for how it would feel.

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It wasn’t terrible.

 

The situation itself was a torturous nightmare. But the kiss? It was just a kiss. Alec had only ever kissed one person. And only ever twice. This was different. Magnus kissed like he was dancing with him. Valentine kissed like he was consuming him. When Valentine pulled away, he pressed his thumb to Alec’s bottom lip. “You taste like your mother.” He said, pleased. “Have you ever sucked cock before?” Alec shuddered and shook his head slightly, closing his eyes. “Well, that’s alright. I’ll teach you.” The ran his fingers through Alec’s hair. “Open your mouth, Alexander.” Alec let out a sharp whimper.

 

“Don’t! I- I’ll do it, I’ll do whatever you want, I just... please don’t call me that. Please!” He couldn’t take it anymore. No one called him Alexander. Until Magnus. Only Magnus. And Alec had loved the way he called him that. It was special. This... he couldn’t bear it. The stark reminder of everything every time he heard his full name on Valentine’s lips.

 

Valentine tugged his head back sharply. “You don’t make the rules here, Alexander. You don’t make demands or requests. The only time I want to hear you ask for something is when you’re begging for my cock. Do you understand?” His voice was hard and sharp, and Alec couldn’t help but shudder. Valentine jerked his head to the side. “I asked you a question.”

 

“Yes!” Alec gasped. “I understand!”

 

“Do you?” Valentine released his hair. “I don’t know that you do. You’re a stubborn little thing. Too much like me.” He hummed in thought. “How about you show me? Hm? Show me you understand.” Alec looked at him confused. “You know what I want to hear. You want to beg? Then beg.”

 

Alec felt his face burn as tears pricked his eyes. He couldn’t do this. He thought of Jace. Max. Izzy. Clary. He could do this.

 

“Please.” He choked out. “Please, I- I want- can I-” He couldn’t catch his breath. Valentine took his face in his hands.

 

“Breathe, Alexander.” He said gently. “Just let go.” He leaned down and kissed his forehead. “Try again.”

 

“Please... can I...” he took a shuddering breath, closed his eyes, and whispered “Can I please suck your cock?” His voice hitched and caught, but he managed to get it out.

 

Good boy.” Valentine kissed his forehead again before sitting up and opening his pants. “Look at me, Alexander.” Alec opened his eyes, his vision blurry. “Now, open your mouth.” He put his hand on the back of Alec’s head and pulled him forward, sliding his cock into his mouth.

 

Alec wasn’t completely clueless or naive. He had read some things. He knew to mind his teeth and breathe through his nose. If he could keep from hyperventilating again, he would be fine. The taste wasn’t too bad. Soap, and sweat, and skin. But he was big. Alec knew his jaw would be aching by the end of this.

 

He was only two thirds of the way down when he felt the head hit the back of his throat. He twitched and tried to pull back, but Valentine tugged his hair hard and pulled him forward. “Relax.” He ordered. “You can take it.” Alec tried. He really did. But he couldn’t breathe. He could feel himself gagging, and he started to panic, trying to pull away. Valentine pulled him off and punched him hard, right in the jaw. Alec shouted, and would’ve toppled over if Valentine hadn’t still been holding him in place. He gasped for breath, eyes squeezed shut, as he tried to remember why he was doing this. “Try again.” Valentine said simply.

 

He tried again. It took some time, and a few more blows to the face, but eventually Alec finally reached the end. He could feel himself trying to swallow, his fingers clutched tightly at the hem of Valentine’s pants. He tried not to shake. Tried not to think.

 

“Good boy!” Valentine groaned above him. Alec couldn’t stop the swell of pride in his chest. This sense of accomplishment. He did it. Valentine was petting his hair and rubbing the back of his neck. Just holding him there for a moment. And Alec let his mind go blank. Desperate to stop thinking, just for a moment.

 

And then Valentine pulled him off halfway before pulling him back down. Thrusting slowly into his throat, groaning and tugging at his hair. “That’s it, son. Doing so well. I knew you could learn.”

 

Warmth returned to Alec’s chest, the praise washing over him. So long as he could keep his father happy, everything would be okay.

 

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When Alec got back to the room, he saw Jace sitting on their bed, chewing his nails. He started to jump up, but Alec shook his head. Collapsing on the bed, Alec curled up against him. Quiet sobs shook his body as the events of the day caught up with him. All of it finally fully registering in his mind. Everything hurt. His head, his face, his jaw, his throat, his knees. He and Jace clung to each other, and Jace let him cry.

 

~*~

 

They had hoped that would be it. Valentine wanted to break and humiliate them. Maybe if they behaved, he would leave them alone. But of course not.

 

They were led to the top deck. Surrounded by Valentine’s new shadowhunters, and the bodies of the ones who didn’t survive ascension. The soldiers made a circle around them. Alec was pushed into the center where Valentine was waiting, holding a sword in each hand. He tossed one to Alec, who raised an eyebrow. This had to be a trick. A trap. Something. He was quickly learning that Valentine had layers of motivations for everything he did.

 

“I want to see what you’re capable of.” Valentine announced.

 

“Oh, I can show you that.” Alec growled.

 

Valentine sighed and shook his head. “I’m going to have to put a lot of effort into you, aren’t I?” He waved his hand, motioning Alec to come forward.

 

And it was on.

 

Alec gave everything he had, pouring every emotion, every ounce of strength, into his attack. But it wasn’t enough. Valentine matched him blow for blow and didn’t break a sweat. And then Alec was on the defensive. He didn’t have time to think as he blocked. He could hear Jace cheering him on. He could do this.

 

He wasn’t sure how long it took for him to end up flat on his back, sword gone, and Valentine’s boot pressing down hard on his chest. “Not bad!” Valentine laughed. “Especially since melee’s not your specialty. I’m impressed!” Alec struggled to breathe as valentine pressed his foot down harder. “I can make you the best. But you have to be willing to learn.” Alec choked on nothing, his chest aching. “Pain. Anger. Fear. You need to let go of all of it. You’re a soldier. A weapon. Your humanity is only holding you back.” He finally released him, and Alec gasped in a breath, panting and coughing on the floor.

 

“Someone get him up. Jonathan. You’re next.”

 

Alec watched Jace fight and was taken aback. Jace had always been the best, but this was something else. He could see what Valentine meant. Jace didn’t even look like a person anymore, he looked like a weapon. His face blank and hard, his movements swift and brutal. Watching them together, Alec could see so clearly how similar they were. The thought made his stomach flip. Jace was Valentine’s son. And so was he.

 

~*~

 

Back in their room, they lay on their sides, facing each other, hands held tight together. The day had been long. They spared and trained, and every mistake or perceived imperfection was met with swift cold brutality. Alec struggled to keep his bearings, but Jace didn’t seem to flinch. Every blow, every broken bone, was taken with a blank face, and barely any noise. Of course, Alec thought. Jace was born into this. Ten years alone in the woods with nothing but this. He had told Alec once that he and pain were old friends with an understanding. Alec had laughed it off as a joke. But now he understood.

 

“We can’t just... give up.” Alec whispered.

 

“We’re not.” Jace assured him. “But we have to play along for now. There’s too much at stake.”

 

“And what happens when he decides to start making us fight for him? Who is he gonna put in front of us?”

 

Jace groaned in frustration and shook his head. “I don’t know! Okay? I don’t know. But we have to take this one step at a time.”

 

“Or do we need to anticipate and plan for five steps ahead?”

 

“We can’t beat him at his own game. We just need to wait. Do what we can as much as we can. Gather information. Stay alive. And bide our time until we can escape.”

 

“It’s going to get worse, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes.” Jace’s voice would’ve been inaudible if their faces weren’t inches apart. “I’m sorry.”

 

“I told you to stop apologizing. This isn’t your fault.”

 

“Yes, it is.”

 

“Then I forgive you. Now get some sleep.”

 

~*~

 

The days passed with more of the same. Valentine tortured them and called it training. And every so often, one of them was taken to his room. At night, they clung to each other on their little bed. Taking comfort in each other’s presence. At least they weren’t alone.

 

~*~

 

They had it down. A routine. A survival plan. Until Valentine changed the game. In the middle of a training session, the guards brought in a warlock. Bound and beaten. They shoved him to his knees in front of them. Alec looked at Valentine wearily.

 

“Kill him.” Valentine commanded. Alec snarled and tried to rush at his father. Valentine grabbed him by the throat and wrist. “I gave you an order, Alexander. I expect obedience.”

 

Alec glared at him in pure rage. “No.”

 

Valentine sighed and broke Alec’s wrist before shoving him to the floor. “Jonathan?” He stared at Jace expectantly.

 

Jace looked around for a moment, breath labored, trying to assess the situation. “I- but... what has he done?” He gestured at the warlock.

 

“He’s a downworlder, that’s all the reason you need. Now, I gave you an order.”

 

Jace looked lost. Torn between what he knew he should do and what he knew was right. But what was right had consequences, and not just for him. He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “I can’t!” He cried out weakly, his sword clattering to the floor.

 

Valentine sighed. “I expected more. Living under the Clave has made you both weak. Fraternizing with vermin has made you soft. These creatures cloud your judgement.” He walked over to the warlock and snapped his neck. “I’ve tried to do this the easy way. Tried to be kind. You’re my children and I love you. But I see now that gentleness won’t work. You’re Morgensterns. You’ll only understand brutality.”

 

Alec’s mind reeled. This was him being kind and gentle? Alec clutched his broken wrist to his chest and tried to remind himself why he was doing this. Max. Jace. Izzy. Clary. Mom.

 

Magnus.

 

He looked at the dead warlock on the floor.

 

He couldn’t do this.

 

He had to do this.

 

Valentine circled Jace, who was staring at the floor. “What am I going to do with you?” Valentine mused, disappointed, as though dealing with unruly toddlers. “This was always your problem. A lack of resolve. Weakness.”

 

Jace flinched, closing his eyes, looking like he was about to cry. Alec wanted to go to him. Wanted to hold him. He knew he couldn’t. As soon as he rose to his feet, two circle members stepped close. Alec could only watch and wait.

 

“I had wanted to wait. I had hoped...” valentine sighed again. “But, no matter.” He glanced over at Alec. “We’ll have to do something about that.” He snapped his fingers and gestured at the surrounding minions. Two grabbed his arms and one retrieved something from a nearby shelf. She handed it to Valentine who stepped in front of Alec. “Maybe this will help you remember your place. Remember who you are.” He grabbed a fistful of Alec’s hair and yanked his head to the side. He raised the object in his hand to Alec’s neck and Alec could feel his deflect rune begin to burn.

 

“No! No no no!” He moaned in despair. He should’ve known this was coming. He didn’t think. He should’ve prepared for this. It hurt. Hurt more than he would’ve thought. As soon as it was done, Valentine pulled out his stele. Alec could feel him branding the circle rune into his neck. His eyes were watering, but he didn’t cry. Mostly, he felt numb. Valentine pocketed his stele and traced his fingers over the fresh mark.

 

“Beautiful.” He murmured. “There’s my boy.” He pulled him over to Jace and shoved him down. “On your knees.” He ordered Alec before grabbing Jace and baring his neck as well. As Alec hit the floor, he had a passing thought that at least Jace didn’t already have a rune there. It wouldn’t hurt as much.

 

A moment later, Jace was dropped to his knees as well.

 

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be enough. The lesson hasn’t sunk in yet. You still act like you think you can do as you please. It’s my fault really. I’ve been spoiling you. But that can be remedied.” He snapped his fingers and kicked at Jace’s back. “Down.” He commanded. Jace sighed and shifted, folding over and pressing his forehead to the floor, his hands flat just above his head. Valentine snapped his fingers again, and kicked at Alec’s back this time. “Down.”

 

Alec wanted to refuse. Wanted to seethe and scream. Wanted to run and fight. But he was tired. He copied Jace’s position. Everything felt cold and numb. But he could breathe. His head didn’t hurt so much. Even the pain in his wrist seemed to dull. Forehead pressed to the dirty floor, he closed his eyes and waited.

 

He told them to stay still, and left them like that. Alec wasn’t sure how long. He could hear him talking to his soldiers. Tried to focus on the words, retain whatever information he could. But everything was blurring together. At some point he felt someone heal his wrist. He tried to reach out for Jace through the bond. But it was quiet. A soft thrum of grief and anger. Muted and dulled. Jace was trying too hard to protect Alec from what he was feeling. Alec tried to reach his hand towards Jace’s, but before he could touch him, a boot stomped down on his hand. He whimpered softly.

 

“I told you to be still.” Valentine’s voice sounded above them. He put more of his weight on Alec’s hand. “You’re having a very hard time obeying orders today.” He took his foot away and placed it on his back instead, his heel digging into the nape of his neck. Alec bit back a whimper. He had never felt so helpless. So... vulnerable. Valentine moved his foot again. He pushed Alec’s head to the side, forcing him to press his cheek to the floor as he pressed his foot down on the other. Alec could smell dirt and rust. Blood. Rubber. There was something small and sharp stuck in the tread that was digging into the corner of his mouth. He felt himself begin to tremble and couldn’t stop it. “What is it going to take to make you understand? I’m trying to be patent Alexander. I’m trying to go easy on you, but you won’t meet me halfway.” He sighed. “Some of my men have a few thoughts on the matter. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.” He pressed his foot down harder, and Alec let out a choked grunt. “You need to accept that you belong to me. Not yourself. Not the clave. Not your mother. Not that fucking warlock.” He ground his heel down and Alec felt his teeth slice open the inside of his cheek. “You are my property. You do as I say, when I say it. You don’t question, you don’t refuse, you don’t complain. Do you understand?”

 

Alec let out a sharp cry.

 

“What was that?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“Yes what?”

 

“Yes sir!”

 

“Tell me. Say it.”

 

“I’m-” He gasped for breath. “I’m your property.” He conceded. “I belong to you.” His voice was shaking and broken, and sounded so small to his own ears. Jace let out a quiet whimper next to him. Alec felt like he had failed Jace somehow. He was supposed to be the strong one.

 

“I almost believe you.” He pulled his foot back and walked away. Alec tried to catch his breath. He wanted so badly to rub his sore face. He heard Valentine snap his fingers. “Sit up, Alexander.” Alec sat up on his heels, feeling dizzy, disoriented. His vision was blurry. He blinked rapidly and saw Valentine staring at him in thought. Another snap. “Stand.” Alec stood, only wobbling a bit. Snap. “Strip.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 

Alec let out a choked noise but did as he was told. He tried so hard to stop shaking. He tried not to look at Jace. Or the surrounding crowd of Circle members.

 

Snap. “Kneel.” Alec dropped down again. It was getting easier. Responding to the commands with the sound of the snap. It was cold. “Come here.” Alec was confused for a moment. Why would he have him kneel again if he- oh. Alec took a deep breath and crawled across the room, stopping at Valentine’s feet. He stared at the floor, face burning. He could hear the people around them laughing, making comments that he tried to ignore. Snap. “Down.” Alec pressed his forward to the floor. The was a pressure in his chest, behind his eyes. He couldn’t cry. He wouldn’t. He felt a hand on the back of his neck. “Good boy.” Alec hated the way his heart surged at the words. “Are you going to behave for daddy?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What was that?”

 

“Yes... yes daddy. I’ll behave.” He didn’t recognize his own voice.

 

He felt that hand slide down his back. He took a breath and tried to stop shaking, why couldn’t he stop shaking? He bit his lip as his ass was squeezed. “Beautiful.” Valentine murmured, before slapping his hand down, hard. “Jonathan, settle down!” He called out. Alec’s breath caught in his throat. Jace. Jace was here. The handful of times Valentine made Alec blow him, they had been alone. He had never done this. And never with an audience. And never with Jace. Alec felt Valentine spread his cheeks and rub his thumb over his hole. He couldn’t help the weak son that escaped him. He needed to stop shaking. Why did it feel good? It wasn’t supposed to feel good. Soon, there were fingers pressed to his lips. He opened his mouth and sucked on them, getting them as wet as he could. He had a feeling this was as much as he was gonna get, and he had read enough to know it wasn’t enough.

 

The fingers were pulled from his mouth and one slowly pressed into his ass. He stopped caring how much he was shaking. Stopped trying not to cry. It hurt. It was uncomfortable. It was humiliating. And it felt good. Valentine’s other hand was pressed to the small of his back. It was warm. Alec was so cold. Alec focused on breathing as Valentine- his father- he didn’t want to remember- didn’t want to know- this was- he wasn’t-

 

Alec focused on his breathing.

 

Alec choked on air as his body lit up with pleasure, weaving through the pain. He gasped and let out a strangled moan. He’d read about that too. He could hear laughter. The hand on his back stroking his skin. Petting him like he was a spooked horse. Valentine was talking. Alec didn’t care.

 

By the time Valentine pulled his fingers away, Alec was panting hard, sweating, and no longer even trying to stop the reactions his body was having. It was like he existed outside of himself. He could feel Jace across the bond and tried to let him know that he was okay. But he couldn’t focus. Everything was too intense and too far away. He couldn’t think. When he felt his father’s cock press into him, he clawed at the ground and sobbed. It hurt. It wasn’t as bad as most of the things Valentine had done to him so far. But it was worse. He could hear a breathless keening sound and he was almost sure it wasn’t coming from him.

“Quiet, Jonathan!” Valentine snapped as he thrust inside. “Fuck! Oh, Alexander, I should’ve done this days ago.”

Alec whined. A truly pathetic sound, he noted, but could not care less. That damn name. He had thought about hearing that name in situations nothing like this. All the times Alec had fantasized about his first time. With Jace, with Magnus, it was always... a fantasy. Reality always had a way of kicking Alec in the teeth. Valentine began to move faster, thrusting harder into him, and Alec felt like he was falling apart at the seams. But it seemed like every time it became too much to bear, Valentine would hit that spot inside of him, making him moan, and cry out. He wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse.

When he was finished, Valentine came inside of him, which was just an odd experience. But Alec was too wrung out to care. He was sore. He was tired. And he just couldn’t bring himself to feel anything anymore.

“Good boy.” Valentine patted him on the side, stroking his sweat damp skin. “Some time and training, you’ll be as good as your brother.” He took hold of Alec’s hair and pulled his head up. “What do you say when daddy lets you have his cock?”

“Thank you, daddy.” Alec answered in a croaked whisper. His throat was sore and dry. Had he been screaming?

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They didn’t give him back his clothes until he was back in the room. And even then, he didn’t bother putting them on. He was filthy. He felt filthy. And used. And... broken. He collapsed onto the bed, breathing harshly. He looked up and saw Jace standing by the door. His face was red and wet with tears, and his arms were wrapped tightly around himself. He was staring at Alec like all he wanted was to go to him. But he looked scared. Did he think Alec didn’t want to be touched? It was mostly true. Anyone else. But this was Jace. His parabatai. His brother. His soul. He stretched his arm out across the mattress. “Please.” He whispered. Jace let out a sob of relief and was by his side in an instant. Alec pressed his face to his chest and let himself shake and cry, holding on to him like his life depended on it. Jace held him as tight as he could, pressing kisses to the top of his head, whispering soft words that Alec couldn’t make out. But it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they had each other. Which was something. Because Alec was starting to believe that they were never going home.

Chapter Text

Alec woke with his hand pressed to the side of Jace’s neck. He could feel the raised segments of the rune, see the edges that his hand didn’t cover. He couldn’t bring himself to touch his own neck. He tried to imagine what he looked like now, and felt sick. What if Valentine started making them join him on his missions? What if people saw? What if Izzy saw? Magnus... the sight of him would make Magnus sick now. And even if he could stomach it. Once he learned... everything, he wouldn’t want anything to do with him anymore. No one would. Everyone would hate him. Except Jace. They were all they had now. He thought of their family. What would Izzy think? Would she be disgusted? Horrified? Valentine said she was his daughter too. Alec was glad he was laying down. The room was spinning. He thought of his mother. What would she think? What would she say? The things valentine kept saying about her... Alec didn’t know what to think. He felt cold. And numb. And very very tired.

 

Jace stirred and moved closer to him. Alec wrapped his arm around him, holding him tight. Whatever else came, they had each other. Jace woke up slowly, looking at Alec with confusion before his face fell. Alec wondered how different he looked now.

 

“It’s okay.” Alec whispered. “I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re okay.”

 

“Alec...” Jace whispered brokenly. “Had you... you and Magnus.... or ever...?”

 

Alec’s face flushed when he realized what Jace was asking, and gave a small shake of his head. “My first kiss ever was that moment at my wedding with Magnus.” He whispered back. It was as if they could keep it all from being real if they just didn’t say it all too loudly.

 

Jace let out a small empathetic whimper. “Alec...”

 

“It’s okay.” Alec tried to croak out.

 

“It’s not.”

 

It wasn’t. But it was done. No use crying over spilt milk. Or lost virginity. It wasn’t that Valentine took his virginity. Or even that it has been forced on him. It was that he had claimed him. Branded him. Taken him in front of everyone. It was that he was Alec’s father. It was that he had made him nothing. And object. It was that a lot of it felt good. And maybe that was actually okay. If they were never getting free, wouldn’t it be better to just... take what they could get? Jace was warm in his arms. If nothing else, they had each other.

 

~*~

 

Valentine hadn’t been exaggerating. His treatment of them became harsher. He snapped his fingers and barked orders. Alec was starting to get the hang of the non-verbal commands as well. Rough hands grabbing his neck, his arms, pushing and pulling him where he was supposed to go. After a while, it got easy. He didn’t have to think. Wasn’t allowed to think. Their combat training became more intensive. Alec learned how to shoot perfectly with broken fingers, or a dislocated shoulder. Gripping his bow with a broken wrist, he felt the pain jolt through him. He gripped tighter. The pain intensified. He drew. Pull. Release. The pain washed over him. Kept him from overthinking. It set him free from himself. He was a better fighter for it.

 

He and Jace’s skills both thrived under their new regimen. They were stronger, faster, better.

 

When they weren’t training or sleeping, Valentine kept them by his side. Kneeling at his feet, hands clasped behind their backs, with their heads bowed. Sometimes he would make one of them suck him off, or would bend one of them over the nearest surface. Usually with an audience. Alec focused on the pain. Let it calm him. Accepted the pleasure when it came. His skills were growing there, too. His chest filled with pride every time Valentine told him how much better he was getting. How much he reminded him of his mother. Though, Jace was his favorite. That was obvious to everyone. Alec didn’t mind.

 

When they were allowed to retreat to their room, they huddled close on their little bed. Holding each other and whispering reassurances. Pressing gentle kisses to each other’s foreheads. Holding and being held by Jace were the only times Alec didn’t feel cold. The only times he felt like he was still human. Their little bed in their little room was the only place he was still himself. Alec Lightwood. Shadowhunter. A person. Out in the real world, he was someone else entirely now. Alexander Morgenstern. Valentine’s pet. A possession. Pet. Tool. Weapon. Property. Whore. He held Jace tighter. Pressed his face to his hair and pretended the world didn’t exist outside of that little bed. Jace clung to him, doing the same.

 

~*~

 

Valentine liked to kiss Alec’s neck where the rune was. He would trace it with his fingers, his lips, his tongue, his teeth. Marking him twice over. Bruises from his teeth and his hands coloring the brand of his sigil on Alec’s neck. He didn’t have a mirror, but he imagined it looked much like Jace’s.

 

Every reminder that it was there, was also a reminder that his deflect rune was gone. It was his favorite. His armor. It defined how he looked. It protected him from everything. And it was gone. His throat was bare, and branded, and Valentine’s hands fit perfectly around it. At least his hands were warm.

 

~*~

 

Alec took a moment to fully comprehend what Valentine was telling them. They were going with him. On a mission. Some vampire nest that Valentine wanted to wipe out. And he wanted them to come with him.

 

“While your obedience has been beyond reproach lately, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that if you try to run, my men will have Max and bring him to me before you can so much as send a fire message.”

 

They nodded, heads bowed. They were going on a mission. They were getting to fight. Alec didn’t care about the nest. But to be on land again. To be in real combat again. Away from the cold metal and grime of the ship. Valentine had them hosed down with cold water every day, but Alec still felt dirty all the time.

 

They were given proper clothing, and gear, and Alec could almost feel like himself again. They set out on an unfamiliar street. The nest was feral. Easy to rip through. Alec felt warm and alive for the first time in a long time. He could feel Jace’s heart beating in time with his own. It was the closest he had felt to freedom in... how long had it been?

 

As they left the den, and headed back up the street, he heard footsteps approach. Had they missed some stragglers? He notched an arrow and turned, aiming at... Lydia Branwell.

 

“By the angel!” She gasped. He heard the others stop behind him and Valentine stepped next to him.

 

“Ms Branwell, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s a pleasure.”

 

“Alec?!” His heart stopped. He couldn’t breathe. Izzy. He glanced over at her, not dropping his bow. Her face was clouded with so many emotions. “Jace?!” She sounded like she was going to cry. Alec was suddenly very aware of the circle rune on their necks. Clary was standing next to her, jaw dropped and eyes wide.

 

“How wonderful!” Valentine said brightly. “My girls are here too! What do you say, ladies? Will you join your brothers at my side?”

 

Alec was dizzy. Was he breathing?

 

“Why am I not surprised?” A sneering voice called out. Alec moved his eyes again and saw Raj standing on the other side of Lydia. Disgust and contempt all over his face. Alec couldn’t speak. Couldn’t move.

 

“Let them go!” Clary cried. Her voice stronger than the last time he saw her. How long had it been?

 

“Do they look like prisoners to you?” Raj scoffed.

 

“Shut the fuck up Raj!” Izzy was shaking with rage. Alec wanted to go to her. Wanted to run from her.

 

“We don’t have time for this. Alexander?” Valentine snapped his fingers. Alec knew what he wanted. He wanted him to kill Lydia and Raj so they could take Izzy and Clary. It was an order. He heard the snap, and his hands moved. He let the arrow fly.

 

Into Raj’s shoulder.

 

A scuffle ensued and they had to retreat. Alec could hear his own pulse. The world was tilting. They saw. They knew.

 

And he fucked up.

 

His father was going to be so disappointed in him.

 

~*~

 

When they got back to the ship, Alec was trembling. Valentine snapped his fingers and he and Jace dropped to their knees.

 

“Father, I-“ He was cut off by a backhand to the face.

 

“I didn’t tell you to speak.”

 

Alec snapped his mouth shut so hard he bit his tongue. Valentine sighed.

 

“You we’re doing so well. I knew this might happen, but I had hoped... well, it doesn’t matter. You have so much potential. And I’m doing all I can to help you fulfill it. You could be my greatest achievement. Both of you. I have plans for you. Alexander leading troops. Jonathan planning missions. The two of you at my side, and together we can do so much. But none of that can happen without your unfailing loyalty and obedience. A weapon that malfunctions, is useless.” Both boys flinched, and valentine sighed again. “Maybe I should just start over. Max should still be young enough. I can avoid a lot of roadblocks.”

 

Alec’s vision blacked out. “I’ll be good!” He cried. “I’m sorry! I fucked up, I know I did! But I can be better! I promise! Punish me for my mistake. I’ll learn my lesson, I promise!” Alec was hyperventilating, his nails digging hard into his wrist behind his back.

 

Valentine considered him for a moment. “I can’t keep playing these games with you, Alexander. Every time I think you’re ready, I test you, and you fail.”

 

Alec whimpered, his head spinning. He had to fix this. “Tell me what to do.” He whispered desperately.

 

“I did tell you, and you failed to follow through. You make me doubt your loyalty.”

 

“No! I-“ Alec struggled to catch his breath. He could hear Jace stifling a whimper next to him. “It’s not that. I swear! I just... I just need... I don’t...” the room was spinning. He didn’t know what to do. He knew what his father wanted. He knew he had to kill for him. But he didn’t think he could.

 

“You’re still thinking too much.” Valentine said darkly, shaking his head. “That sense of self, that’s what’s tripping you.” He stood there for a moment, just staring at Alec, contemplative. “Both of you, stand and strip.” The boys did as they were told, eyes glued to the floor. “Alexander, who do the two of you belong to?”

 

“You, sir.” Alec answered promptly.

 

“Jonathan, who decides what you both do?”

 

“You, sir.” Jace’s voice was steady. Alec always admired how easily Jace fell into the mold their father made for them. He didn’t struggle the way Alec did. He was made for this. He remembered the steps.

 

“It’s beyond time for you both to let go of this ridiculous notion that there is anything you can’t or won’t do. You live and breathe by my say so. You act on my command. You do not think. You do not hesitate. You do not have opinions. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, sir.” They responded in unison.

 

“The lesson just hasn’t sunk in yet. No matter. You just need more training. We can fix this.” He snapped his fingers and pointed at the ground in front of him. “Alexander.” Alec stepped forward and dropped to his knees in front of him. “Clean my boots.” Alec faltered for a moment, confused. And then he realized what Valentine wanted. Bending forward he took hold of the back of Valentine’s foot, and dragged his tongue over the toe of the boot. It was not a pleasant taste. Dirt, and blood, and leather. Though, in the back of his mind, he thought that the leather taste wasn’t bad. It might actually be nice on its own. He didn’t really focus too much on what he was doing beyond making sure he was doing it well. When he finished with one, he moved on to the other. His mind went fuzzy. Shutting down as it did so often these days. Why had he been so worked up? Everything was fine. There was nothing to worry about. He had orders.

 

When he finished, he sat back up on his heels, hands back behind himself, head bowed.

 

“Well done.” Valentine said. He pet Alec’s hair, humming thoughtfully. “Okay.” He said, almost to himself. “On your feet. Jonathan, over there, bend over the counter.” He went over to a cabinet, the rusted hinges shrieked and the metal door clanged, and when he turned around he was holding a narrow wooden cane, one Alec was very familiar with. “Your brother will be punished for your mistake tonight.” Valentine told him, holding the cane out to him. “And you’re going to deliver it.” Something in the back of Alec’s mind started screaming. He began to tremble. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t do this. The word ‘no’ was caught and fighting in his throat. And then he felt a rush of warm soothing calm that wasn’t his own, wash through him. Jace. It was okay. He was okay. They would be okay. He could do this.

 

He stepped up to his brother, resting his free hand on the small of his back. “How many?” He choked out.

 

“I’ll tell you when to stop.”

 

Alec clenched his shaking hand around the cane. He had learned quickly that the thinner ones were actually worse. They left welts as well as bruises. The thicker ones were almost nice at certain points. A deep throbbing pain that settled something inside of him. But the thin ones... they weren’t as bad as the whip, but he hated them all the same.

 

The first stroke was light and shaky. Valentine let him get in a few before he snapped his fingers and barked “Harder!”

 

Alec had to take his hand off of Jace’s back and step further away in order to do so. His free hand clenched, nails digging into his palm. He hit him again, harder this time. A few more strokes.

 

Snap. “Harder!”

 

Alec took a shuddering breath and did as he was told. Every few moments, his father would snap his fingers, and Alec would hit his brother harder. He didn’t have to think about it. Snap. Harder. Snap. Harder. He didn’t need to acknowledge what he was doing, he just had to do it.

 

He could feel the tears well up in his eyes, but they didn’t fall. Jace went from being silent, to grunting, to whimpering, to screaming. Alec tried to reach out to him with the bond, but Jace had completely cut himself off. Jace was sobbing now. Alec wanted nothing more than to stop. His heartbeat was painful in his chest. The bond screaming at him to stop hurting his parabatai. To help him. He had a fleeting thought in the back of his mind, wondering what sort of pain it caused Valentine when he betrayed Luke and tried to kill him? Was that why he couldn’t kill him outright, had to set him up?

 

Valentine snapped his fingers again.

 

After a while, Jace went quiet again, sobbing silently, face pressed to the cold dirty countertop. When Valentine finally told Alec he could stop, Alec threw the cane away from him like it was on fire. Jace’s skin was red and broken and bleeding. Raw and torn. He did that.

 

He tried to put his hand on his brother’s shoulder, but when Jace flinched, Alec stepped back, his chest aching. He wiped his face with his hand. It was wet. Had he been crying? Why did his other hand hurt? He looked down at his still clenched fist and slowly pried his fingers open. His palm was bloody. His nails had sliced it open.

 

He barely registered being marched back to their room. Though he did notice that no one activated Jace’s healing rune.

 

Jace slowly collapsed on the bed, curling up on himself. Alec sat on the floor at the foot of the bed. They were both shaking. Crying. Unable to look at each other.

 

“Entreat me not to leave thee.” Alec pleaded in a broken desperate whimper.

 

“If aught but death part thee and me.” Jace responded quietly, holding out his hand.

 

A sob of relief tore from Alec’s chest as he scrambled up the bed, gathering Jace in his arms. “I’m so sorry.” He gasped, pressing kisses to Jace’s forehead and cheek.

 

“It’s okay.” Jace assured him, taking Alec’s face in his hands. “Please. I just- I need-“ He broke off, crying softly.

 

“Anything. What do you need? It’s yours. I’m here.”

 

Jace stared into his eyes, pleadingly before leaning forward and pressing their lips together. Alec gasped and stilled for a moment before kissing him back. It was warm, and soft, and felt like coming home. Alec almost felt safe. They stayed like that, pressed together on their little bed, holding each other and kissing softly before falling asleep. The bond thrummed within them, golden and strong.

 

~*~

 

Something settled in them after that. They could feel each other in a way they hadn’t before. The bond felt more fluid, more like they were one. After each torturous day, they would retreat to their little raft in the dark sea and take comfort in each other. Soft touches and gentle kisses. Reminding themselves and each other that love could still be kind.

 

Ever since they arrived, they never gave much thought to the various minions milling about. They escorted them, hosed them down, made sneering comments from time to time. But the boys never really gave them a second glance.

 

They should have.

 

One morning, during their ‘shower’ four soldiers joined the two that were handling them. They drew a locking rune on the door. Alec and Jace tensed, ready for a fight.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

 

“Relax little princes.” One of them laughed. They had taken to calling them that early on. It made them both grit their teeth.

 

“We just wanna have a little fun. Your daddy said we could play.”

 

They eyed each other warily. That didn’t seem right. In however long they’d been here, Valentine had never let anyone touch them. Not like that. And even when they helped him with punishments... something was off. Was this a test? Were they supposed to defend themselves? Or were they supposed to do as they were told? Their father hadn’t given them any orders. The five men and one woman surrounded them. The woman reached out and placed her palm on Alec’s chest.

 

“I hear you don’t like girls. How come?” She asked mockingly. “Don’t you think I’m pretty?”

 

Alec’s breathing went harsh and he saw Jace try to come closer, only to be grabbed by two of the goons. Alec grabbed her wrist, pulling her hand off of him. “Back off.” He growled.

 

“Now now.” She purred. “That’s not very nice. You wanna be a good boy, don’t you?” Alec trembled slightly. Valentine couldn’t have set this up. He wouldn’t. Or... maybe... He looked at Jace. His brother was as confused as he was. “I’ll tell you what!” She announced. “We’ll make you a deal. You do as I say, and make me happy... and maybe my boys here won’t fuck your brother. And trust me, baby... I’ll be a lot nicer to you, than they would be to him.”

 

Alec closed his eyes and tried to breathe. He couldn’t do this. He had to do this. He had always known he’d probably have to someday..... but this... he couldn’t do this. He had to do this.

 

“Don’t, Alec!” Alec opened his eyes in time to see one of the goons punch Jace in the stomach.

 

“Hey!” He snarled. He turned back to the woman. He didn’t even know her name. That seemed to matter for some reason. “What do you want me to do?” He asked, resigned and determined all at once.

 

“Kiss me. Make it good.”

 

He put his hands on her shoulders and leaned in, closing his eyes. The kiss was... odd. It felt wrong. Off. He couldn’t place the difference, not really. But it twisted his stomach. She grabbed one of his wrists and put his hand on her breast. He could live with that. He and Izzy had a game when they were teenagers where she would say something obnoxious and he would squeeze her boob or pinch her nipple in retaliation. Though it was never sexual or supposed to feel good. But it was the same concept, right? They were just breasts. He had seen and touched Izzy’s a billion times. Goofing around, or helping her squeeze into one of her ridiculous outfits. She even made him check her for cancer once because she thought she felt a lump and got freaked out. He could do this. He wouldn’t enjoy it. But maybe he could stomach it. He just had to get through it. You don’t grow up with someone like Isabelle Lightwood, and come out the other end, completely repulsed by the female body. He was comfortably neutral.

 

“Mmm, not bad, baby.” She grinned, pulling away, her nails scratching through his chest hair. “Get on your knees.” She began undoing her jeans. Alec felt a lump in his throat and his stomach twisted again. He sank to his knees as she shoved her jeans and underwear down. “Do you even know what to do or do you need directions?” She laughed, carding her fingers in his hair.

 

“I know what to do.” He murmured, face and ears burning. Growing up with Jace and Izzy had given him a front row seat to endless conversations of their sexual exploits, including detailed discussions on the fine art of cunnilingus. He found them excessive and ridiculous, and always paid close attention because he knew... well. He was expected to marry a woman one day. All sorts of things would be expected of him, and he would just have to accept it, and follow through. Like now. The smell was incredibly off putting. It wasn’t bad, per se... just... wrong. It made him uneasy. The taste was like that too. His face scrunched like the time Magnus gave him a martini. But he could push past it. He had to. He remembered all the tips and complaints Izzy had given over the years. He focused on the job itself and not the situation. He thought about Lydia. How he had assumed he would do this for her. Only fair, he’d thought. He tried to imagine it was her. That he was her husband and her friend doing her a favor. He didn’t have to like it. He just had to make sure she did.

 

But he couldn’t shake the wrongness swamping his mind. The twisting turning of his stomach. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted Jace. He wanted to go back to their room and forget the world existed.

 

Finally, she was shuddering and crying out. He was pretty sure that meant they were done here.

 

“Fuck!” She shouted, laughing. “Not bad for a gay boy!” She looked down and nudged his flaccid cock with her boot. “Well, that won’t do.” His heart sank into his chest.

 

“I can’t...” he choked out. How was he supposed to...?

 

The other goons laughed and one of them knelt behind him, pulling him into his lap, and drawing his stele over Alec’s stamina rune. “Come here pretty boy, I’ll help you. The lady wants a ride, and we don’t wanna disappoint her, do we?” The guy was built like a mac truck. Alec was not a short or skinny man, and he felt tiny in his arms. He kissed and bit at Alec’s neck as one hand stroked his torso, and the other stroked his cock. Alec closed his eyes. He could almost pretend this was okay. It felt good. Being held and touched. His father did this sometimes. Just held him in his lap and played with him. If he closed his eyes and tried to ignore everything else. He could pretend...

 

He felt his cock harden. Once it was full, the man slipped something around it. A ring. It was tight. Painful. Alec shuddered. The man moved and laid Alec down on his back. He kept his eyes closed. He felt the woman straddle his hips. He could get through this. He could hear and feel a sob catch in his throat, but he couldn’t quite comprehend his own body at the moment. She took his wrists and made him touch her. Her legs, her breasts. She moaned and cried out as she moved, and he just willed it to be over. He couldn’t breathe. He was choking on nothing. Everything was wet and loud, and he was sweating but he felt so cold.

 

When it was over, he heard a garbled sob echo through the room, and it took almost a full minute for him to realize that it came from him. He could hear laughing. He did not care. He rolled over and tried to pick himself up, but was shoved back down, his face pressed to the cold metal floor. It had those bumps on it that felt less than comfortable against his cheekbone. “Where do you think you’re going?” The same man from earlier asked. Those hands were now gripping his hip and the back of his neck. “We’re not done yet.”

 

“No!” Alec croaked. “You said... she said!”

 

“I said maybe, honey!” The woman kept laughing. Alec really wanted to crush her windpipe. He might. He might just do that.

 

The man behind him lifted him up onto his elbows, and Alec could see the two men who had Jace struggling between them. The other two stood close. The more Jace tried to fight them, the more they hurt him. Bruises were already forming on his face and stomach. Soon, the one in front had his wrists pinned tight and held to his chest, while the other was forcing his way inside of him from behind. Alec could feel his pain shoot through the bond as Jace let out a strangled cry. Alec whimpered, trying to get up. Trying to get to him. A heavy punch to his side was followed by a hand squeezing his throat.

 

“You’re gonna stay right here with me, little prince.” The man’s hard thick cock pressed against him. Alec realized fleetingly that his own cock was still hard and trapped in the ring. When the man forced his way inside of him, Alec looked up to see Jace on his knees, another man fucking him now as he sucked the other off. His brain had abandoned him at some point. Like he wasn’t processing things correctly. He knew pain. Cold. Wet. Pain. Jace. Pain. There was shifting behind him. He was released and then pinned down again. Someone else fucking into him. A hand removed the ring around his cock. Started stroking him. It hurt. But it started to hurt in that aching way that he liked. The kind that resonated deep inside of him, settling the noise. He could feel his orgasm build. Valentine made him come sometimes. Where was he? Why was he letting this happen? They had been good.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

He didn’t quite notice the door swinging open, clanging loud against the wall. There was shouting, scrambling movement. Alec pushed himself up on his knees and saw two of the men dead on the floor. The other men and the woman were standing against the wall. They looked scared. Jace was laying on the floor, watching. His eyes had that glazed unfocused look they often got these days. Alec turned his head and let out a deep sigh of relief.

 

“Father!” He gasped. Valentine stood in the middle of the room, bloody sword in hand like an avenging angel. He was there. He saved them. They were safe.

 

“I’m here son. It’s alright now.” He said gently, walking over to Alec and petting his hair. He turned to the soldiers who came in with him and gestures to the panicked goons along the wall. “Take them to a cell. I want to make a public example tomorrow. No one touches my property.”

 

“Wait.” Alec rasped. Valentine turned and looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Please... can I... just the one... please?” His voice was weak but steady. His father eyed him with a curious smile.

 

“Alright, Alexander. Have at it. Just one.”

 

Alec stood on shaky legs, growing steady as he crossed the room. “May I have my strength rune please?” He asked his father quietly. Once it was activated, he went over to the woman. He still didn’t know her name. He didn’t care. She was looking at him with pure terror in her eyes. Good. It made something warm bloom inside him. He wrapped his hands around her neck and squeezed. Pressing his face close to hers, he looked into her eyes. They were going bloodshot now. “You still want a kiss?” He growled quietly. She didn’t answer. Her mouth was open slightly, trying to gasp in air that wouldn’t come. He brushed his lips against hers. He could feel her shake against him, and it was the most alive he had felt in a long time. “You’re not laughing anymore, are you?” She was grabbing at his arms. Pushing at his chest. Her feet kicked out. Her eyes were going cloudy now. Alec smiled. “Congratulations.” He told her as her eyes started to roll back. “You’re the only woman who will ever have fucked Alexander Morgenstern.” He squeezed harder, feeling her throat crush and crumble in his hands. He held her there for a moment, forehead pressed to hers, eyes closed and just catching his breath. He stepped back and let her body fall to the floor. She was small. Just a heap of nothing at his feet. He turned and walked back over to Valentine. He wrapped his arms around his neck, and felt Valentine’s wrap around his waist. He pressed his face to his neck and whispered, “Thank you, daddy.”

 

“Of course, my boy. You’re mine, and I’ll always take care of you. Let’s get you and your brother cleaned up.”

 

Alec let out a worried keen as he pulled away and rushed over to Jace. “I’m here.” He said softly, helping him up. “I’ve got you. We’re safe now.” Jace’s eyes were beginning to clear and he nodded.

 

“I couldn’t...” he murmured. “I tried-“

 

“I know. It’s okay. We’re okay.”

 

Valentine had the others clear the room, and set about washing off his boys. Blood was rinsed away, healing runes were activated, and they both calmed under gentle words and soft touches. He dried them off and took them back to his room. He had food brought in and let them curl up with him on the bed as he hand fed them. Once they’d eaten, they laid down, pressed against his sides, their legs tangled, the two of them holding each other’s hands on his chest.

 

“There’s my boys.” He murmured happily as he rubbed their backs. “My good boys.” Alec smiled and nuzzled closer.

 

“Love you daddy.” He mumbled, as he drifted off to sleep.

 

~*~

 

Alec woke to a hand groping his ass. Fingers slipping between his cheeks, rubbing at his hole. He whimpered, panicked at first, remembering cold wet metal and high-pitched laughter. Then, as he gasped, he smelled the shirt under his nose. It was just his father. He settled, opening his eyes to see his brother asleep inches away from him, their hands still clasped. He smiled and squeezed Jace’s hand.

 

“I’m so proud of you.” Valentine rumbled quietly, kissing the top of his head. “You were so strong today.” His hand pulled away and came back wet, fingers slipping inside of him gently.

 

Alec shivered and rocked his hips. “Thank you, daddy.” He whispered, his eyes dropping closed again. He heard Jace stir and squeezed his hand again. Jace let out a soft cry and Alec suddenly knew exactly where Valentine’s other hand was. He shifted his leg, hooking his ankle over Jace’s.

 

“My beautiful boys.” Valentine said proudly. “I’m so pleased with how far you’ve both come. And with how close you’ve gotten.” They both opened their eyes, breaths catching. “Now now, relax.” Valentine twisted his fingers, rubbing hard against Alec’s prostate, making him moan. “I told you, I’m pleased. The bond between you is special. This will only make it stronger.” Alec and Jace stared at each other for a moment, smiling softly. Then Alec leaned over and kissed him. Jace moaned, lifting up a bit to meet him. Valentine let out a happy hum as he watched them, opening them up. “Have you fucked yet?” He asked quietly. The kiss broke and they shook their heads slightly. They had made each other come, touching and grinding. But not what he was asking. He chuckled, and sat up, laying Jace out on his back on the bed, he settled Alec between his brother’s legs. “He really is beautiful, isn’t he?” Valentine murmured in his ear before kissing his way down his neck. “I want to watch you fuck your little brother while I fuck you. Would you like that, Alexander?”

 

“Yes sir.” He gasped.

 

“Go on then.”

 

Alec laid out on top of Jace, kissing him deep and passionately. Jace moaned, shifting under him, hitching his leg over Alec’s hip as he whimpered his name between kisses. “I love you.” Alec breathed as he guided his cock inside of him. They both shuddered and groaned, their parabatai tunes lighting up and almost burning between them. It felt like coming home. He felt his father running his hands over his back, his sides, kissing his shoulders as he pushed into him. Alec cried out at the overwhelming sensation of it all. He rolled his hips, fucking himself back onto Valentine’s cock, and then forward, deep inside of Jace. He shifted, lifting Jace’s hips, and driving even deeper, as Valentine began to thrust harder and faster. He lost himself in it all, moaning and wrapping his arms under and around Jace’s shoulders, he kissed and sucked at his neck, and let Valentine control the pace. Fucking into him, and driving him into his brother. Jace whimpered and sobbed beneath him, his cock twitching and leaking where it was trapped between their bodies.

 

“Oh god, Alec! Daddy? Daddy, please?” Jace could never come without permission. It wasn’t just a rule. He physically could not orgasm until he was told to. Alec always gave him permission when they were alone. But Valentine almost never did.

 

“You’ll have to wait, Jonathan.” He groaned. Jace whimpered but nodded, mouthing at Alec’s neck. Alec moaned, pleasure winding tightly inside of him. He didn’t have the training Jace did, and had no talent for orgasm control. Valentine always seemed disappointed by that. He could feel everything. It was as though he and Jace had truly become one. He could feel his emotions as purely as his own. And he knew Jace felt it too. There was a feedback loop of pleasure, love, and joy. They were both crying, overcome by it all. When Alec came, his mind went blank. He could feel Jace shuddering beneath him, feeling his orgasm, but unable to achieve his own. Valentine moaned above them, squeezing his hand around the back of Alec’s neck as he came inside of him. “Alright, Jonathan.” He gasped. “Come for me.” Jace cried out loudly, arms wrapped around Alec as he shook, coming hard between them. Alec lifted his head and claimed his lips again. The kiss was messy and lazy and frantic all at once. They could feel every bit of each other. Alec’s skin was flushed and hot. “Good boys.” Valentine announced, patting Alec’s ass as he pulled out of him, getting off the bed and cleaning himself up. Alec and Jace stayed wrapped up in each other until Valentine let out an amused chuckle. “What do you say, boys?”

 

“Thank you, daddy.” They moaned in unison.

 

~*~

Chapter Text

Alexander couldn’t remember why things had seemed so complicated before. Life was simple. Get up. Train. Meetings. Bed. Father snapped his fingers, and Alexander did what was expected of him. Easy. Father took care of everything. All Alexander had to do was follow orders. He was good at that. Father said so. He started letting them go on missions. He started letting them lead missions. Jonathan was able to stretch his tactical skills again. Alexander barked orders and assigned posts as well as his father. Maryse would be so proud of them when she came home. Father said she would.

 

Jonathan was looking over blueprints when Alexander walked into the main ops room. He stepped up behind him and put his hands on his waist, leaning over his shoulder. “What do we got?”

 

Jonathan grinned and leaned back against him. “There’s an underground system of Downworlders running- ” he broke off with a moan as Alexander bit at his neck. “They’re running supplies and information for- Oh fuck! Alexander...” he trailed off as Alexander groped at his cock through his jeans, his own cock a hard line pressing at Jonathan’s ass.

 

“Keep going,” Alexander prompted, nonchalantly. “Supplies and information for what?”

 

Jonathan continued to try and report the situation while Alexander slipped his free hand under his shirt and began rubbing and pinching at his nipples. “I can’t focus while you’re doing that,” Jonathan moaned, reaching back and tangling his fingers in Alexander’s hair. It was getting long.

 

“I can’t focus when you’re bent over a table like that,” Alexander growled. 

 

Jonathan laughed. “Bent over?! I’m reviewing- Ah!” Jonathan yelped as Alexander pushed him face down on the table, and laughed again. “So what are you gonna do about it?”

 

Alexander grinned and shoved Jonathan’s pants to his ankles, kneeling behind him. “I’m gonna fuck you till you’re screaming.” He bit down hard on his ass cheek. “That work for you, little brother?” He licked a wet stripe over Jonathan’s hole, causing him to twitch and moan. His brother loved being eaten out. It always reduced him to an incoherent mess. 

 

Alexander took his time with him. Licking and biting. Teasing. Rubbing hard with his fingers, starting to dip inside before pulling away. His sweet little brother made such beautiful sounds when Alexander played with his ass. 

 

The door opened behind them and they heard their father chuckle. “Jonathan is supposed to be drawing up a mission plan,” he admonished.

 

“I’m sorry, daddy.” Alexander didn’t even try to sound sorry. “I couldn’t help myself. Just look at him. You can’t blame me, can you?” He looked up at Valentine with a sly smile on his face as he slid two fingers into Jonathan, twisting them to rub at his prostate. The responding cry was like music.

“You’re a little imp, Alexander.” Valentine laughed. “Jonathan, stand up. Hands on the table. Step back and spread your legs. I want you to tell me what you have so far, but there’s no reason not to let your brother have his fun.” He stepped up to the other side of the table as Jonathan repositioned himself. His voice was shaky and broken as Alexander stood and pushed inside him, fucking him hard and slow, gripping his hips hard enough to bruise.  He bit more bruises into his shoulders and the back of his neck as Valentine smirked. 

 

When Jonathan finished his report and collapsed onto his elbows, Valentine grabbed a handful of his hair and lifted his head. “Well done, baby boy. When we’re done here, you’ll relay the plan to the troops and Alexander will make the assignments.”

 

“Thank you, daddy. May I please come?”

 

“This isn’t about you, Jonathan. You’re going to be a good boy and make your brother feel good, and then you’re going to go do what I told you. Understood?”

 

“Yes sir.” His eyes slipped shut as he rocked his hips back to meet Alexander’s thrusts, driving him harder and deeper. When he came inside him, Jonathan shuddered from the echo of his orgasm through the bond. Alexander reached up and placed his hand on Jonathan’s cheek, turning his head to press a sloppy kiss to his mouth. “I love you,” he breathed reverently. Jonathan moaned and repeated the sentiment back. 

 

Righting themselves, Jonathan pulled his jeans back up, over his brother’s come leaking down his thighs. He gave Alexander a kiss, and then Valentine, before heading out to debrief the men.

 

Valentine leaned against the table and snapped his fingers as he opened his jeans. Alexander walked over and dropped to his knees in front of him. Valentine stroked himself, rubbing the head of his cock on Alexander’s cheek. “Look what you do to me, my little prince.” He growled. “So fierce and beautiful. Just like your mother. You look so much like her. You have her mouth.” He traced the tip of his cock over Alexander’s lips. “You make the same noises when my cock is inside you. When you come on my cock you look just like she did when I fucked you into her.” 

 

Alexander felt heat flare inside him. His father loved his mother so much. Whenever he compared him to her, Alexander beamed with pride. He had always wanted to be just like her. And now he was. Valentine’s left hand. By his side and at his feet.

 

“Please, daddy!” he moaned. “Please let me suck your cock. Need it. Wanna feel you fuck my throat. Want you to use me. Want to make you feel good.”

 

Valentine snapped his fingers and Alexander’s mouth dropped open. His father slid his cock down his throat in one stroke, and Alexander moaned with relief. He clasped his hands behind his back and closed his eyes, mind floating as his father used him to chase his own pleasure. He loved when he could just let go. It was like being high. His life was perfect.

 

~*~

 

Alexander loved moments like this. In the dark of their little room, on their little bed, with Jonathan laid out on top of him, riding his cock lazily as they made out. No rush. No worries. Nothing but them, on their little raft, in their little bubble. Hands touching every inch of skin, running through hair. One of Alexander’s fingers slid inside of Jonathan next to his cock, stretching him, filling him, more and more, and it wasn’t enough. They devoured each other. The bond open and singing. One soul. One heart. One flesh. One mind. They could feel everything. They knew everything. Nothing else mattered.

 

~*~

 

Missions were always exhilarating. The hunt. The fight. The kill. He and Jonathan had become unstoppable. The perfect warriors their father always wanted them to be.

 

When they got back to the ship, there was chaos. Screaming and running and fighting. They went off in search of their father. They found him on the upper deck. There was a crowd. Shadowhunters. Downworlders. Alexander recognized some of them. “Isabelle!” he shouted, a grin stretching across his face. It faltered when he saw she was being held by one of his men. “Hey, that’s my sister!”

 

“Clarissa!” he heard Jonathan call out in happy confusion. “What’s going on?”

 

They sought out their father, and found him standing in the middle of the crowd. A man kneeling on the ground with Valentine’s sword at his throat. “Settle down boys. Your sisters are still confused. Don’t worry. We’ll help them. We just need to take care of this first.”

 

The man lifted his head. Magnus. Why was Magnus here? Why did Alexander’s chest hurt? “I- I don’t..... I don’t understand,” he said shakily.

 

“This warlock has been influencing your sisters. Keeping them from us. He tried to influence you, but I saved you. Are you strong enough to save your sisters?”

 

He could hear the girls shouting, but he couldn’t make out the words. Something was wrong. Magnus was staring at him. Fear and hope in his eyes. He knew that look. He saw it... standing at the end of an aisle. Red streaks in his hair. Or were they pink? That face. Those eyes. Begging him. To...

 

“I don’t understand!” he burst out.

 

“Alec, it’s okay.” Magnus was saying. Steady and gentle. “He hurt you. He’s a liar.”

 

“No! No, you’re a liar! You’re confusing me!” His words echoed back at him. He’d said them before. To Magnus. Because... He saw Valentine’s blade dig further against Magnus’ neck.

 

“He’s a downworlder, Alexander. He’s trying to trick you.” Valentine snapped his fingers and Alexander had his bow drawn before he even registered that he was moving. A glinting arrow pointed at the high warlock of Brooklyn. Magnus.

 

“I-“ Alexander faltered. He knew what to do. It was easy. Follow orders. His father knew best. His father. Rober- Valen- But. Wait. He looked over at his sister. She was crying. Izzy didn’t cry. Izzy never cried. Why was she crying? “Izzy?” He asked, quiet and scared. He couldn’t think. He wasn’t supposed to think. Father did his thinking for him. He belonged to him. His word was law. The law is hard, but.... Izzy would know. She was the smart one. Izzy always knew the answer.

 

“Alec.” She croaked out.

 

“No one calls me that.” He murmured. But they did. They used to. They- no. There was no one else. There was only his family. Jonathan and father. His family... Izzy. She was still talking.

 

“It’s okay. We can help you. We can fix this. Alec, please. Please, we came to rescue you both. Let us help you. Come back to us. Come home!”

 

Home. Jonathan. Jace. Jonathan. His brother was panicking. Clarissa was talking to him. He couldn’t hear what she was saying past the noise in his head, but he knew she was making it worse.

 

“You’re upsetting him!” he barked.

 

“She’s only telling him the truth.” Magnus’ voice was calm and gentle. Alec liked that voice- no. His name was Alexander. His name was Alexander Morgenstern, and he didn’t like Downworlders. He straightened his bow. “Valentine has been lying to you, Alec. He isn’t even Jace’s real father. He abducted him. And your mother took you and your sister and ran, because she knew he had lost his mind. Alec, please, he’s manipulating you!”

 

The noise in Alexander’s head grew louder. Deafening. No. No no no. Jonathan was his brother. Their father loved them. No.

 

“No. No.”

 

“It’s true, Alec!” Izzy wouldn’t lie to him. His sister never lied to him. His father wouldn’t lie to him.

 

“We belong to him.”

 

“He stole you!”

 

He looked at Izzy. Looked at Valentine. Looked at Jonathan. Looked at Magnus.

 

He heard the snap, and his hands moved. He let the arrow fly.

 

There was screaming. Fighting. Grief and pain and confusion echoing between him and Jonathan. He fell to his knees. He thought someone was grabbing his shoulders, but couldn’t feel anything. He couldn’t hear anything. He couldn’t see anything but his father’s corpse laying on the floor with an arrow in his throat. He did that. Why did he do that? He couldn’t breathe. He was right. He did the right thing. Was he crying? His chest was heaving. Someone was screaming. Was it him? His brother? Someone was lifting him to his feet. They were moving. He was moving. He was aware of it, but not quite in control of it. He reached out. Jonathan’s hand was in his own. He squeezed tight as they were pulled forward.

 

It was quiet.

 

It was... where were they? He looked around. He knew this place. He had been here before. He... Magnus.

 

“You’re safe now, boys. Sit down. You’ve had a difficult evening.”

 

 

~*~

 

Alexander refused to get out of bed. For about seven hours. Then he had to go to the bathroom. But then he went right back to bed. He wouldn’t talk to anyone. The only people he would let in the room were Jonathan and Magnus. Izzy tried to check on him, and he pulled the blanket over his head and pretended she wasn’t there.

 

Jonathan didn’t try to make him talk. But he did talk to him. Only a little. Only at night. Wrapped in darkness and each other, on their too soft, too high up bed. Jonathan would whisper to him. He would tell him everything would be okay. He would tell him he loved him. Alexander didn’t need to say it back. He knew his brother could feel it. His brother. His. He held him tighter. Jonathan promised him everything would be okay. Alexander didn’t know how to believe him. He didn’t know what to think anymore.

 

Every day, three times a day, Magnus would bring them food, and then sit on the end of the bed, filling them in on all they missed and were still missing. Sometimes Jonathan asked questions. Alexander usually pretended to be asleep.

 

It had been almost a year since Alexander ran through that portal. Izzy and Clary were going to be parabatai. Izzy was dating Simon. Clary was dating a werewolf named Maia, who was apparently Luke’s protégée. 

 

“Oh, you’ll both absolutely love her. She’s got a bad attitude and a real talent for reeling Clary in. They’re positively adorable. She fits right in, I can’t wait for you to meet her.” That was as far as Magnus ever pushed. He never told them they should or had to do anything. Just made comments about things they’d like, or what could happen when they were ready. Alexander only half registered what he was saying. But he liked the sound of his voice. It made him calm. He felt... safer when Magnus was in the room.

 

Apparently, he and Jonathan had been designated traitors by the Clave. At the moment, they were listed as missing. Izzy, Maryse, and Robert were trying to convince them that they had been captured and brainwashed. But that wasn’t true. Was it? Alexander remembered. He remembered deciding to go. Jonathan agreed to go. They... wanted to go. They wanted to be with their father...

 

Their father.

 

Every time Alexander closed his eyes, he saw his father dead on the ground in front of him. Dead by his hand. Why did he do that? He would sleep and he would dream. His father’s disappointed voice, angry and betrayed. Bleeding on the ground and it was all his fault. His father was dead and he killed him and he was gone and he was gone he was-

 

He always woke up screaming. Sobbing. Curled and shaking in his brother’s arms. He tried to apologize. He couldn’t speak. Jonathan didn’t try to make him. Just held him.

 

Jonathan seemed calmer. More settled. He said that he remembered coming to live with the Lightwoods. He remembered learning how to live a different life. He remember their life before the ship much more clearly than Alexander did. Real memories instead of fuzzy snapshots that seemed like a half watched movie. Someone else’s story.

 

Magnus always called him Alec. It bothered him. He wanted him to call him Alexander. That was his name. And... there was... he... he wanted Magnus to call him Alexander. It was important.


~*~

 

Magnus has brought them lunch, setting it on the bedside tables. Club sandwiches. They smelled good.

 

“Oh for the love of- I forgot the- ah well.” Magnus muttered to himself and snapped his fingers.

 

Alexander sat straight up. But he didn’t know what to do. He was supposed to- he didn’t know what his order was. He didn’t know what Magnus wanted. Did Magnus own them now? His chest was tight. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do. What he was expected to do.

 

Valentine snapped his fingers. Alexander dropped to his knees.

 

Valentine snapped his fingers. Alexander fired an arrow.

 

Valentine snapped his fingers. Alexander murdered his father.

 

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t see. Someone sat on the bed next to him. A hand on his shoulder. A soft, beautiful voice speaking to him.

 

No. The wrong voice. Not calm and sweet and soft. That was wrong. Everything was wrong.

 

He was sobbing now. His body shaking with it. Jonathan was behind him. Holding him. Arms around his waist. There was still a hand on his shoulder. He grabbed it and pushed it away.

 

“I want my father!” he wailed. He was still holding the hand. It turned and clasped his tightly. No one said anything else. They all just sat there. Alexander releasing every emotion he couldn’t understand. Jonathan sharing the burden of it, and echoing back comfort. Magnus holding his hand. Still. Sturdy. No demands. Just support.

 


Alexander didn’t know what to do with that.

 

~*~

 

Slowly, he began speaking. A few words now and then. Never anything important. But every time he did, Jonathan and Magnus grinned at him like he had lit the stars for them.

 

He started leaving the room. When Magnus wasn’t home, he would go out onto the balcony. He’d sit and pet the cats. Feel the air on his skin. Look out at the city. He had loved standing on the deck of the ship, staring out at the skyline. The city was always so beautiful. Jonathan liked to read in the living room. Sometimes they would venture into the kitchen. Sometimes Jonathan would sit and talk with Magnus. It made Alexander uneasy for them to be separated while someone else was in the loft. But he could feel how calm and happy Jonathan was, and he knew he was safe.

 

Somehow he knew Magnus wouldn’t hurt them. He felt safe with him. He couldn’t explain it. He trusted him. He'd always trusted him. Had he? He remembered... the morning sun... waking up on the couch... I wanted to see you again...

 

“Why are you letting us stay here?”

 

Magnus looked up from his desk at the Shadowhunter leaning on the door frame. He could never quite hide the little grimace on his face every time he looked at Alexander’s neck. Someone had suggested removing their Circle runes, the first week they’d been there. Alexander had... reacted poorly.

 

“Because you’re safe here. I want you to be safe.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I care about you.”

 

“What do you want from us?”

 

“Alec...” Magnus sighed.

 

“Stop calling me that!” he shouted. “My name is Alexander! Everyone calls me Alexander! You...” His vision lost focus as he tried to hold on to memories and emotions that slipped through his hands like water. “I like when you call me Alexander,” he finished quietly, looking down at the floor. Why were his eyes wet?

 

He heard Magnus get up and walk over. But he stopped a couple feet away.

 

“Alexander.” He said softly. It didn’t sound the way his father said it. Or even how Jonathan said it. But it reminded him of that. It reminded him of... something. He liked the way it sounded. No one ever said his name like that. He looked up. Magnus was staring at him with that hopeful fear in his eyes again. “Alexander. Can I...”

 

What on earth would Magnus need Alexander’s permission for? He cocked his head, confused, and shrugged. Magnus sighed again and shook his head. “Never mind. What I want from you is...” He stopped and eyed him for a moment. “I want you to text Izzy. It doesn’t matter what you say. It could be a four page letter, it could be a single emoji. I know you know your phone is in the nightstand. Text Izzy. That’s your order for today.”

 

Alexander took a slow shuddering breath, and nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said resolutely. And turned to head back to his room.

 

He sat on the bed and stared at his phone for five hours. The last texts he and Izzy had sent to each other stared back at him. He couldn’t make sense of them. When Jonathan settled down to sleep next to him, he began to type.

 

I love you.

 

I’m not ready.

 

But I miss you.

 

He turned his phone off and curled up next to Jonathan. They hadn’t had sex since... since they came to live with Magnus. Soft kisses throughout the day. More frantic ones at night. Tangled in their bed, surrounded by the dark, hands grasping whatever they could, to assure themselves that they were still there. Still real. Still brothers. Still themselves. Whatever that meant anymore. The world made more sense when they were together. The world didn’t hurt when they were touching.

 

~*~

 

Alexander crept up to the kitchen. He could hear Jonathan and Magnus talking quietly. Jonathan was happy. Magnus looked up and saw him lurking in the doorway.

 

“Good morning, Alec! We’re making Sunday brunch! Would you like to join us?”

 

He didn’t answer. Or move. Or twitch. 

 

Magnus tried again. “Alexander, come here and mix these eggs for French toast.”

 

He went to the kitchen island and did as he was told. 

 

Jonathan smiled and kissed the corner of his mouth. “I’m making banana pancakes,” he whispered. 

 

Alexander grinned. His favorite. He turned to give his brother a proper kiss and dropped the egg in his hand. He froze. 

 

Staring down at the broken mess on the kitchen tile, Alexander felt dizzy. This was the first time he’d fucked up. Magnus had been so patient with them since they got here. But this was an order. Magnus had told him... and now he’d failed. His breathing came fast and thin. He could hear his brother saying his name. Feel his worry. Alexander didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know what Magnus would want. He felt hands on his arms and saw the glint of metal on them. He dropped to his knees. “I’m sorry,” he breathed. Jonathan sat on the floor next to him.

 

“He’s not gonna punish you,” he said quietly. “He doesn’t do punishments.”

 

Alexander whimpered. If there was no punishment, how was he supposed to learn? How was he supposed to get better? How was he supposed to be forgiven? He looked at his brother pleadingly. He couldn’t speak, but he knew he understood. 

 

Jonathan looked up at Magnus. “There needs to be something. I told you before. We can’t... you have to...” He growled at himself in frustration. “We need to be punished when we make a mistake.”

 

“Jace...”

 

“Please,” Alexander begged.

 

“Jace, you told me Maryse came up with ways to handle that. What would she do here?” Magnus’ voice was so soft and quiet, Alexander almost couldn’t make out what he was saying. Jonathan shook his head.

 

“You won’t like it.”

 

“I don’t like any of it. But I want to help. What does he need?”

 

Alexander grew more and more confused. He couldn’t understand what they were talking about. He couldn’t make sense of it. They started arguing. Why was Jonathan talking back?! Alexander lost track of what was being said. He heard a strangled noise of frustration and looked up to see Magnus rubbing his face. “Okay,” Magnus grumbled. “Okay. Okay okay. Okay.” He kept repeating it like a mantra. Then he cleared his throat and straightened himself before looking back down at him. “Alexander. Do you know what you did wrong?”

 

Alexander calmed his breathing enough to answer. “I dropped an egg. I was supposed to get them ready, and I broke it. I wasted food and made a mess.” He felt his eyes water.

 

“Very good. I’m pleased you understand. I have two different punishments in mind, and I can’t choose between them. So, you’re going to decide for me. Can you do that?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“You can choose whichever you like. Neither is better or worse. I just can’t decide. Either you can clean the mess with your tongue, and then you can go right back to helping your brother and I. Or, you can clean the mess with paper towels, and then go stand in the corner in the living room for fifteen minutes before coming back to help us. Up to you.”

 

Alexander thought for a moment. On the one hand, he didn’t like the idea of eating a raw egg. But on the other, he wanted to stay in the kitchen with them. He nodded. “The first one.”

 

Magnus took a measured breath and nodded back. “Thank you for helping me choose,” he said quietly. He rubbed his fingers together and the shell from the egg disappeared. “And that’s just more practical,” he clarified.

 

Alexander got to work, absently noting that the floor was very clean. He hated the taste of dirt. It was really the worst part of cleaning things with his tongue. Without it, it wasn’t so bad. It was a small mess, and he was done before he knew it. Sitting back up, he wiped his mouth and looked at Magnus, who had a strange look on his face. Before Alexander could drive himself into another panic attack, Magnus smiled and reached down, brushing his hair back.

 

“Well done,” he said softly. “It’s forgiven and forgotten. Now, come, stand back up, and we’ll finish making brunch.”

 

Alexander grinned. He had done well. Magnus was pleased. He wasn’t in trouble anymore. He stood and pressed his nose to Jonathan’s cheek. His brother smiled and handed him another egg, gave him the proper kiss he had been after in the first place, and they continued with their morning.

 

That evening, Alexander curled up in the blue chair in the living room with a book, while Magnus was watching a movie. They glanced at each other a few times, but neither tried to push for a conversation. Magnus was smiling the rest of the night.

 

~*~

 

Alexander knew that Clarissa came to visit with Jonathan. He would hide in their room while they talked in the living room. She told him that the Clave had rescinded the kill orders on their heads and removed the designation of traitor on their files, but that they'd been deemed grievously wounded and temporarily unfit for duty. Apparently, Robert had worked some bureaucratic magic, and Jonathan’s new grandmother had pulled a few strings. 

 

Jonathan always felt so calm and happy when Clarissa was there. She was so sweet and positive, Jonathan told him. But also stubborn and feisty. “Definitely your little sister,” he would laugh.

 

“She’s still yours, too,” Alexander replied one day. Jonathan cocked his head to the side and took Alexander’s hand in his, twisting and twirling their fingers together.

 

“I know,” he said quietly. “It’s all...” He sighed. “I’m trying to sort it all out. The truth. The lies. All the things in between. It’s hard. But... it’s important. I know it is. I need to know who I am.”

 

“You’re my brother,” he told him firmly. “You’re my parabatai. You’re my lover. You’re part of me. And I’m part of you. And...” he squeezed Jonathan’s hand, “I don’t want to lose you,” he whispered.

 

“You won’t.”

 

“You let everyone call you Jace,” he mumbled.

 

“I always liked that name.” He chewed his lip for a moment. “I always liked the name ‘Alec’, too,” he said, so quietly it was almost inaudible.

 

“That’s not who I am anymore,” he insisted miserably, a sob catching in his throat. “But I’m not Alexander anymore either. I don’t know who I am!”

 

“You’re my brother,” he told him gently. “You’re my parabatai. You’re my lover. You’re part of me. And I’m part of you.” He pressed a firm kiss to his cheek. “We’ll figure it out together. Jace Wayland and Alec Lightwood. Jonathan and Alexander Morgenstern. Jace Herondale and...” He trailed off. “You get to decide now, I think. I think it’s up to us.”

 

“We’re not allowed!”

 

“He’s dead.” They were both crying now. “We don’t have to follow his rules anymore.”

 

“But... without the rules... I don’t... what are we supposed to do?! Magnus gives me orders sometimes, but it’s completely random. The Clave won’t let us do our jobs. We just... sit around all day, being useless, and that seems to be what he wants, but it doesn’t make sense, and I just feel like... like I’m...”

 

“Lost?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“I know. I feel it too. And I can feel you.” He smiled slightly. “And most of all... I remember. I remember losing father and being taken into this strange new world where nothing worked the way I knew. I remember figuring it out. Step by step. And I know I can figure it out again. And so will you. I’ve reinvented myself so many times now. I’m getting good at it. But every time? The one constant, the one thing that keeps me going through it all? Is you. We can do this, Alec. You just have to trust me.”

 

He didn’t so much as hesitate before replying. “I trust you. I love you.”

 

“I love you.” He kissed him gently. “We got this. Just follow my lead.”

 

“Whither thou goest.”

 

~*~

 

“Alexander, come in here, please.” Magnus had taken to going back and forth between what he called him. He had even called him ’Xander’ once, and spent an hour laughing at the confused and horrified look on Alexander’s face.

 

Magnus and Jace were sitting at the dining table, sheets of paper in front of them. They looked like schedules and lists.

 

“Read this over. Write down any issues or suggestions, and fill in the last section. Let me know if there’s anything that needs to be clarified.”

 

“Training?” he asked quietly, looking it over as he sat down.

 

“I’ve added a gym area to the back of the loft, just past your bedroom. You can design your own regimens, but I don’t want you doing anything too intensive just yet.”

 

Glancing over, he saw that Jace’s were similar but slightly different. He filled out the final section but made no other alterations, and handed them back to Magnus, who waved his hand, binding the papers in a folder and making a copy.

 

“One for you, one for me.” He smiled, handing him back his copy. “We’ll review these every two weeks, to see if any changes need to be made.”

 

Alexander smiled slightly, his chest feeling lighter. “Yes, sir. Thank you.”

 

~*~

 

That night, the two brothers fell asleep smiling, their bond echoing a hesitant but hopeful sort of calm.

 

Chapter Text

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Chapter Text

Alec felt more settled under his new routine. More grounded. Focused. Alive. Real. Follow a schedule. Train. Follow orders. At first, Magnus didn’t call on him much when there were clients around. Alec was grateful. He still wasn’t comfortable around people. His weekly texts to Izzy were getting longer. He could still only manage to send one, and then immediately shut his phone off. They reviewed the contracts twice and didn’t change anything. Jace was comfortable with everything, if not a little restless, and Alec... wasn’t quite ready to think about wanting more. One day, Alec brought Magnus a mug of coffee without being told to. He knew he’d been up since before dawn. Magnus’ smile was warm and a little awed. He stood up and gave Alec a hug. “That was very thoughtful. Thank you.” He pulled back and squeezed Alec’s shoulders. “Good boy.” He said proudly. Alec didn’t know what to do with the swell of emotion in his chest. A smile split his face and his eyes watered. He tried to think of something to say, and promptly fled the room. His cheeks were burning and he couldn’t stop smiling.

 

The next day at dinner, Alec cleared his throat and spoke quietly. “Sir? Would it be okay... it’s just... and I...”

 

“It’s alright, Alexander.” Magnus’ face was strained, but his smile was genuine.

 

“It’s just that... I like kneeling for you at night, and... I was wondering... during the day... when there aren’t clients around of course! ... could I kneel for you while you’re working? I just... sometimes I want to read, and my head gets too fuzzy, and it doesn’t do that when-“

 

Magnus cut him off with a gentle hand on his wrist. “Of course. That’s perfectly fine, and well within the rules.”

 

Alec grinned and let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you sir.”

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

Jace was grinning brightly, pride thrumming through the bond. Alec nudged his foot with his own under the table.

 

~*~

 

It was dark but his eyes were burning. Blood on his hands. His chest. His thighs.

 

 “How could you do this to me?” A garbled voice. A corpse on the floor.

 

 “No! No no no no no...” He couldn’t close his eyes. He couldn’t look away.

 

 “I loved you. I gave you everything. I made you. You are a part of me.”

 

 “Please! I’m sorry! Please stop!”

 

Pain coursed through him. Stabbing ripping tearing him apart. He couldn’t breathe.

 

He screamed.

 

He wasn’t screaming when he woke, his mouth open, gasping, fingers clawing the sheets. Jace scrambled awake next to him.

 

“Alec! It’s okay! You’re okay!” He gathered him in his arms, kissing his face softly. “It’s alright. Everything is alright.”

 

“I’m okay.” Alec tried to assure him.

 

“You can’t hide from me.” He reminded him.

 

“I’ll be okay.” He clarified. “Go back to sleep. I’m alright.”

 

“I’ve got you.”

 

“I know.”

 

Jace drifted back off within the hour, but Alec couldn’t sleep. He looked at the clock. 4AM. 11:30 to 8am, they were to stay in bed. He couldn’t sleep. Grief and rage and guilt flooded him. He held it close, not letting it spill into Jace. It was drowning him.

 

He got out of bed.

 

He slipped into the training room and spent an hour on the treadmill. And then an hour beating a punching bag. And then two hours at target practice. Without his hand and arm guards.

 

When a sleepy and confused Jace came wondering into the training room in the morning, he found his brother sitting on the floor, red faced and hyperventilating, hands and forearms raw and bleeding.

 

“Alec!” He ran to him, falling to his knees in front of him, checking his injuries. “Magnus!” He shouted. “Magnus come here!”

 

Alec barely registered their warlock coming into the room. The cold soothing healing magic caressing his skin. He whimpered and tried to pull away.

 

“Don’t.” He mumbled, voice cracked and wet. “I need it.” Worried and disappointed sighs came from both of the other men and Alec flinched. “I’m sorry.” He whined miserably. “I’m sorry.”

 

~*~

 

He was on the couch on the balcony. He didn’t remember moving. One of the cats was in his lap. The big long haired one. Alec was petting her back. Catarina sat down next to him.

 

“Where would you like to start?”

 

Alec usually liked his meetings with Cat. It was hard for him to talk. But she didn’t push. She let him say what he need to, how he needed to, and never made him feel like he was wrong.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Do you know what happened?”

 

“I trained too much.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Couldn’t sleep.”

 

“Why?”

 

He felt a whine claw up his throat. His father’s bloody face staring at him. Deep horrible pain. He couldn’t take it. It was bad pain. He needed good pain. The kind that made him calm and happy. Sore and alive. This was just unbearable. He shook his head rapidly. “I- I can’t- I- Red!” He gasped. Cat took a deep breath and nodded.

 

“Okay.” She said gently, waving her hand and conjuring a glass of water. “Here. We can just sit for a while. Let you settle. Keep petting Stella.”

 

She sat with him in silence for a while. He could make out a tense conversation in the other room. He could feel Jace's worry.

 

"Extenuating circumstances call for leniency, that's not unheard of-"

 

"That's not going to help, Sir. It's going to make it worse."

 

"He shouldn't be talking back like that..."

 

 “He’s respectfully expressing a concern. And giving Magnus needed and wanted advice.”

 

“They’re talking about my punishment.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I earned a lot.”

 

“Three or four at least.”

 

“Five.”

 

“What do you think you deserve?”

 

Alec squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “I don’t know!” He whimpered. “I’ve been trying to figure everything out. Trying to understand what he wants from me. The contract helps a little. A lot. It’s just...” He took a deep breath. “I feel like I’m drowning. And... before, I was just sinking. And now I’m swimming, but I’m not...”

 

“It’s not enough.” Cat supplied. Alec nodded, letting out a quiet keen.

 

“I know... I know in the back of my head that father was... was wrong. What he did. I know. I remember... before... but it isn’t... clear? It’s clearer for Jace, and his... calm... helps keep me steady most of the time, but...” He sniffed and picked Stella up off his lap, holding her to his chest and pressing his face in her soft fur. She purred in his ear, and he matched his breathing to the rhythm of it.

 

“Alec. I have some very important questions for you, and I need you to be one hundred percent honest. There is no right or wrong answer. I just need to understand where we are here. We can’t get you to the surface if we don’t know where you are in the water, do you understand?” At his nod, she continued. “Do you want to stay here? The Clave won’t clear you for duty, but they would let you stay at the Institute. Or you could go to Idris with your parents. Or the Silent City. Or we could explore other options.”

 

“I like it here.” Alec replied quietly. “I like Magnus. And the cats. And the view. Jace likes it here.”

 

“Do you feel safe here?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you believe that Magnus would let you go if you wanted to leave?”

 

“He... he’s scared. I don’t know why. I think he’s scared for us. He thinks... I don’t know.”

 

 “That’s not what I asked. Do you think that if you walked in there right now and said you didn’t want to do this anymore, the contract, the rules, the punishments, any of it, do you think he would say ‘alright’, and let you do whatever you wanted?”

 

 “I think...... I think he would. I like to think he would. He… Before, he never… pushed or tried to… But… Yes. Yes, he would.”

 

Cat took a small breath and nodded. “Okay. And what if he didn’t? What would you think if you were a prisoner here? What would you do if he made you do something you didn’t want?”

 

“I... I don’t...” Alec felt his eyes burn. He didn’t like this conversation. He wanted... He wasn’t allowed to want.... No. Magnus wanted him to want things. He wanted- Magnus wanted- he wanted to want to.... Magnus... “I don’t think...” he said softly. “I don’t think he’d ever want anything from me that I didn’t want to give him.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I trust him.”

 

“And what if he breaks that trust?”

 

“He won’t.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“I trusted him before. It’s not… I don’t… But I remember, even if it’s…. I know that I trust him. And Jace trusts him too. His head is clearer than mine right now. He’s drowning, too. He pretends he isn’t, but he is, but at least he knows which way the surface is. I trust Magnus. I trust Jace. I know I’m safe.”

 

Cat smiled and nodded. “You still haven’t answered my other question. What do you think you deserve after what happened this morning?”

 

 “I broke a lot of rules. All at once. Big ones. You asked me what I would do if Magnus broke my trust. But I broke his.”

 

“Yes. You did. So what do you think is the right response?”

 

“I need... I want...” He didn’t realize he’d begun to squeeze Stella until she mowed at him and wriggled in his arms. “Sorry.” He whispered to her, and set her back down in his lap. She rolled over into her back and let him bury his fingers in the long fur on her belly. She started purring again. He took a slow breath. “I need pain.” He said quietly. His voice soft but firm. “I need to... be... it makes my head quiet. Makes things sharper. Clearer. Makes me feel like... I’ve earned something. Makes me feel... real. I know Magnus wants to go easy on me. But that’s just going to make me feel like I haven’t really earned forgiveness. If I’m not properly punished, I can’t...”

 

Cat nodded. “Do you want to tell Magnus that, or would you like me to tell him?”

 

“Please?” He whispered.

 

Catarina nodded and went inside. He couldn’t make out what she was saying, but she was speaking with that same gentle voice she used with him.

 

“Alec, please come inside.” Magnus’ voice was firm. It was an order. Alec pressed a kiss to Stella’s head and set her down on the couch before walking into the living room and standing  in front of Magnus. His right hand circled around his left wrist, head up, shoulders back. Magnus’ face was stern, but his eyes were kind. “Please tell me why you’re being punished.”

 

“I-“ Alec stopped and thought for a moment. “I broke your trust. I had a nightmare and was too upset to sleep. I should’ve come to you. But I went to the training room. I disregarded my schedule. I didn’t rest as long as I’m supposed to. I trained for longer than I’m allowed, and I was reckless about it and got myself hurt on purpose.” He took a slow breath as he let himself mull over what happened.

 

“Why didn’t you come to me?”

 

“I... I didn’t think it was important enough to bother you. And I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted to forget.”

 

“You are never bothering me, Alec. It is a rule that you tell me when something is wrong because I want to know. And I won’t make you talk if you don’t want to. But I don’t want you hurting yourself.”

 

“I need it.” Alec whispered.

 

“I know. And we’ll figure out exactly how we’re going to accommodate that. Caterina tells me you’ve chosen corporal punishment?”

 

Alec nodded.

 

“Alright. Four of your infractions come with ten spankings each, and the fifth is to deep clean the apartment. Do you want to do all of that today, or spread it out?”

 

“Today please. All at once. Please.”

 

Magnus nodded. “Well. We’re going to eat before you start cleaning, but alright.” He took a deep breath and glanced around the room. Over in one of the far corners, almost out of sight, he’d set up a small couch and desk. “Would you prefer to take your spanking across my lap or bent over the desk?”

 

“Your lap, please, Sir.”

 

Magnus sat on the couch and beaconed Alec over. “Would you prefer Jace and Cat stay or leave?”

 

“Whichever? They can....  I want them to stay.”

 

“Alright. Take off your sweatpants, leave your underwear on, and come lay across my lap.” Alec did as he was told, his breath growing steady as he did. Magnus was sitting back on the couch, so Alec could lay across it instead of bent over his knees. He pillowed his forehead on his arms and took a deep breath. “You’re going to count each one. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes Sir.”

 

Magnus rested a warm steady hand on Alec’s ass, stroking slightly for a moment to settle him before pulling back and slapping down hard.

 

“One.” Alec gasped.

 

The strikes were even and measured. Timed out and deliberate. Alec shuddered and felt his eyes water. The tight tangled ball of tension and uncertainty in his gut began to loosen. The pain washed through him, clearing the fear and the doubt. His voice was steady as he counted, growing more calm and relaxed with each one.

 

When they were finished, Magnus stroked his ass gently again, soothing the sting and letting the ache settle in. “Well done.” He said kindly. “How are you feeling?”

 

“Better.” Alec whispered.

 

“Me too. We’re going to sit here for a moment, and then you’re going to help your brother make lunch.”

 

“Yes Sir. Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome, Alexander.”

 

~*~

 

As Alec cleaned, he found his thoughts settling into a sort of order. The focus and dedication he put into what he was doing, slowed the things in the back of his mind to arrange themselves. Things were shifting and changing. He was changing. Again. He could feel it. He thought about the night he killed his father. Actually allowed himself to think about it instead of just reliving it and agonizing over it.

 

There were things he knew and things he felt. And things he felt he knew.

 

His name was Alec Lightwood.

 

His name was Alexander Morgenstern.

 

He was a soldier for the Clave.

 

He was a member of the Circle.

 

Robert was his dad.

 

Valentine was his father.

 

His father loved him.

 

His father tortured him.

 

His father raped him.

 

His father lied to him.

 

His father tortured and raped his brother.

 

His father hurt his mother.

 

His father made him stronger.

 

His father taught him how to hone his skills.

 

His father made him a leader.

 

His father made him a slave.

 

His father loved him.

 

He loved his father.

 

He killed his father.

 

He mourned his father.

 

He was a hero for killing his father.

 

He hated himself for killing his father.

 

Jace.

 

Jace loved him.

 

Jace understood him.

 

Jace was with him.

 

Jace was the reason he...

 

For whither thou goest, I will go.

 

There will I be buried.

 

Jace was the reason Alec was on that ship in the first place.

 

If Alec could do it all over again...

 

He would still do the same.

 

Alec gathered all of Magnus’ bathroom supplies and put them in the center of the room. As he set about cleaning the sinks and counters, he thought about the major choices he had made in his life.

 

Becoming Jace’s parabatai.

 

Proposing to Lydia.

 

Kissing Magnus.

 

Following Jace.

 

Resisting Valentine.

 

Giving in to Valentine.

 

Killing Valentine.

 

Staying with Magnus.

 

Not talking to the rest of his family.

 

Giving himself to Magnus.

 

Hurting himself.

 

... No. He hadn’t given himself to Magnus. Not really. He was living with him, and doing what he said, but he hadn’t given himself to him. He was still living by his father’s expectations. It didn’t matter if his father was right or wrong. Good or evil. A hero or a monster. None of that was the point. Alec could feel as many conflicting emotions as he wanted. At the end of the day, he made a choice. His father was gone. Alec was allowed to want things now. Magnus wanted him to want things. And he wanted to belong to Magnus. Which meant that it was his word Alec needed to live by.

 

It didn’t matter if he felt guilty over his father’s death. Magnus told him he was absolved of it.

 

It didn’t matter if he didn’t feel like a real person. Magnus said he was.

 

It didn’t matter if he thought he should cower. Magnus told him to keep his head up.

 

Alec polished the silver faucets and fixtures, and watched them shine in the light. He was so lost. But he knew, beyond any other thought or feeling, two emphatic truths :

 

Jace would never leave his side.

And Magnus would take care of them.

 

All of the rest of it.... he could figure out as he went.

 

~*~

 

When Alec finished, his hands smelled like bleach and wood polish. His elbows and his knees were sore. His ass still ached. It was late. He could smell dinner. He walked into the living room and saw Magnus sitting in the blue armchair, drink in hand. Catarina was still over, lounging on the sofa with her own drink. Alec smiled at her before walking over to Magnus, and kneeling in front of him. He kept his head up, but his eyes down, staring at the shiny black dress shoes inches from his knees. A warm steady hand cupped his cheek.

 

“Did you finish?”

 

“Yes Sir.”

 

“Well done. I’m very proud of you. You took your punishment beautifully today.”

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you.” Alec whispered. “I’m sorry I broke your trust.” Because at the end of the day, that was what it all came down to.

 

“You are forgiven.” Magnus rubbed his thumb across Alec’s skin. Alec felt his eyes water and leaned forward. Grabbing hold of Magnus’ legs, he pressed his forehead to the warlock’s knees.

 

“I want to be yours.” He said, voice wet but steady and firm. “Not because you want me, or because I need to belong to someone. I want to be yours because I choose to. I know my head is still fuzzy, but I remember. I remember making a choice. I remember choosing you.”

 

Fingers carded through his hair as a hand rubbed his back. It made warmth flood through him. Tears fell from him eyes, but he didn’t care.

 

“I would be honored to have you, Alexander. As I was then.”

 

Alec let out a sound that was half sob, half cry of relief.

 

“What about me?” A voice asked from the doorway. The tone was playful, but Alec could feel the hesitant uncertainty that always emanated from his parabatai. “A gift with purchase?” He laughed, and most people would think it was genuine. But Alec knew his brother. Jace always assumed people didn’t want him. That he was simply tolerated when convenient, to be discarded when no longer useful.

 

“Come here, you ridiculous boy.” Magnus commanded gently, and Alec sat up again and shifted a bit to the side. When Jace fell to his knees next to him, Alec pressed their shoulders together. Magnus took Jace’s face in his hands and smiled softly. “I want you. I want you for who you are, all on your own. And I want whatever you are willing to give me. What do you want?”

 

“I want you to have me.” Jace said quietly. “I want...” he broke off with a shuddering breath and his eyes darted away.

 

“You can tell him what you told me, Jace. No one in this room will judge you.” Cat’s soothing voice always made everything seem just a little less daunting.

 

“I know you want us to... to be... to want... but I don’t...” he shut his eyes and Alec reached over and squeezed his hand. Jace squeezed back and took a deep breath. “You want us to be real people again, and I know that’s what Alec wants, even if he can’t quite grasp it yet. But I don’t. I don’t want to be.....” He opened his eyes and stared up at Magnus. Face open and vulnerable in ways it only ever was with a select few. “I don’t want freedom.” He said firmly. “I want a master worth belonging to.” He turned his head and pressed a kiss to Magnus’ palm. “I want to belong to you. Completely.” He closed his eyes and Alec could feel the trepidation and aching need coming from him.

 

“Oh, darling boy.” Magnus’ face shine with disbelieving joy. He took each of their chins in each hand and looked them in the eyes. “Tomorrow. We are going to sit down. And we are going to talk. We’re going to draw up some new contracts. And we are going to be honest with each other. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes Sir!” They chimed in unison, grinning brightly.

 

“Now. Tonight. Dinner smells amazing, and we are going to eat. Catarina is going to join us. We’re going to have an easygoing evening, and let our minds rest. Understood?”

 

“Yes Sir.”

 

~*~