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"Stop Hurting Yourself"

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Thomas sighed and took a sip from his drink. He had never really liked weddings, but he had his friends then. But since it was Charles Fairchild—of all people's wedding, Matthew was with his mother welcoming guests, James was with Cordelia after all they were getting married, a sham or not. Christopher was with Anna, as much as he loved spending time with them, he couldn't interrupt their time. As much as he wanted to go outside and breathe fresh air, it was raining heavily. So there was Thomas, watching couples dance standing all alone at a corner. He could see Cordelia dashing around for a reason unknown to him, while James was sitting and talking with Lucie.

Thomas narrowed his eyes, Weren't James and Cordelia dancing?

He was just about to go and ask Cordelia what was wrong, just so he would have something to do, when Cordelia came towards him, panting.

"Have you seen Alastair, dâdâsh?" She asked, breathless from walking so quickly.

Thomas' heart sank, great, the only thing he didn't want to talk about was Alastair Carstairs but just his luck. But he still replied.

"No I have not, I just saw him when you came." ....and he looked even more beautiful in all his finery than I had imagined. Thomas had to resist the urge to smack himself on the head repeatedly when that thought rushed into his mind. What was wrong with him? These past few months he had found that he missed Alastair's company more than he'd like to admit.

Cordelia sighed worriedly before muttering, "I should've known."

Thomas couldn't help but ask, "Known what? If you don't mind telling me that is." He added hastily.

Cordelia smiled ruefully at him and chose her words very carefully, "Tonight is very difficult for him. Especially after what happened at the last party."

Thomas' blood ran cold. Was it about what happened between them? Did Cordelia hate him now?

"You look exceptionally pale Thomas," Cordelia remarked, still craning her neck to get a glimpse of Alastair.

"Oh it's nothing," He said, sighing internally in relief. She didn't hate him. Wait, then why exactly would it be hard for Alastair?

"I should go and search for him then," Cordelia replied.

"Maybe I could search for him, you should go and sit by James and Lucie." Thomas offered and almost cringed. Why did he say things he never wanted to? Sure he didn't have anything to do but looking for Alastair.....well what would he say to him?

"Are you sure?" Cordelia looked unconvinced and he felt a stab in his heart. She loved him so much. It reminded him of Barbara, it was just too much. He could've refused in that moment. But he didn't.

"It's fine Cordelia," Thomas said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "You should sit down. You have been searching for too long. I will tell him you were looking for him when I find him."

Cordelia relaxed visibly, "I do not know how to thank you Thomas."

"What are friends for?" He said as she chuckled and gathered her dress to leave. He sighed deeply, regretting his decision, yet at the same time not.

He put the empty glass of his drink on the nearest table and looked around, hoping to catch a sight of Alastair's dark ebony hair or cold, emotionless eyes.

Something about him made Thomas interested, interested to know more about him even knowing it was a bad idea. It was like looking at fire with fascination and trying to touch it even knowing it would burn you in the end. That was what trying to know Alastair felt like to him.

He rubbed his palms together and looked around. No, Alastair was definitely not in the ball room. So it was no use searching. He knew if Alastair wanted to hide, he would choose some dark and lonely place. He wondered why Cordelia even bothered to look between the music and dancing.

He looked around near the ball room. He could be in any room of the Institute. But he didn't know the way, so it would be a waste looking around empty rooms. The first place where Thomas decided to search was the library, it was just an instinct. Maybe he would be lounging there. But no.

He dashed through the stairs, he actually preferred this than being lonely. At least he had something to do. There was only one place left where Thomas thought Alastair would be: the terrace.

True to the thought, he found Alastair leaning against the railing on the terrace, the smell of rain heavy in the air as the rain drops fell like crystal and just as sharp. Alastair was only in his shirtsleeves, not even a waistcoat. He was drenched all over, even from behind, Thomas could practically feel the softness of Alastair's curly, wild hair. Thomas considered walking in the rain and shivered at the thought.

As if Alastair had heard Thomas' footsteps or felt him staring, he sighed and said, "Really Charles, I told you to leave me alone. I thought you had—"

He turned, his hands flailing in a dramatic manner as he stopped himself in the middle realizing Thomas wasn't Charles. Water was running down his face like tears, staining his cheeks. Even with those stains, he was emitting some light, his eyes were bright like stars.

"What do you want Lightwood?" He said, his eyes suddenly devoid of the slightest of emotions, if some were present in the first place.

"I—Why do you think every time I come to meet you, I want something?" Thomas asked, "I was just looking for you because you were not inside."

Alastair's expression changed, there was some vulnerability on his face and then it was like a door was shut. The expression was gone in a mere second.

"I didn't think you cared enough to spare me a glance much less look for me."

Thomas gulped hard. He wanted to scream it wasn't the truth. And indeed, it was not. These past months after their fight, the only reason he went to enclave meetings was that he would get to see Alastair, just a glance. He knew Alastair would be there. He always was. But Alastair pointedly ignored him, in fact Alastair ignored everyone.

"Come inside, you will catch cold." Thomas said instead.

"No." Alastair replied, even though he was shivering. Thomas made a split second decision and stepped outside and walked towards Alastair. The water droplets stung but it didn't matter. The only one who mattered was Alastair. Alastair's eyes followed Thomas all the way but he didn't say anything, nor did he move. Thomas was drenched in a minute.

"Come on Alastair," Thomas said, "Cordelia is worried and I am too."

"It does not matter." Alastair dismissed him, "Cordelia should enjoy her evening and you should just leave me to my misery."

"Do not try to get yourself killed by getting a flu. Just come inside."

"No. Leave me alone."

"You think you are stubborn? Let me tell you something, I am just as stubborn. I know something is wrong. I want to help you." Thomas said desperately.

"No. Nobody can help me. I just want to be alone."

"Why?" Thomas said after a while. Not knowing what exactly he meant himself.

Alastair paused, water dripping down his eyelashes but his eyes were still wide. He took a shaky breath, "Why what?"

"Why do you act as if nothing matters to you? Why does nothing ever mean to you anything? Why do you push everyone away? Stop hurting yourself." Thomas elaborated, there were more questions swirling like a hurricane in his mind but he stopped there.

"What the hell does it matter to you?" Alastair's voice was cold, but beneath that, Thomas could sense that whirlwind of emotions Alastair tried hard enough to hide: hurt, guilt, rage, anger, sadness.

"Why do you put this facade of blankness above yourself like a blanket? But even beneath this, I can feel hurt and anger there. You don't need to suffer in silence." He went on.

"As I said before, you don't care enough. And there's no hurt and anger in me." Alastair answered, his voice breaking in the middle.

"I do care. Please just let somebody in." Thomas said, "Please just—just talk to me. Talk to Cordelia. But do not hurt yourself."

"Leave me alone." He repeated.

"No. I am going to stand here with you. I do not care if we catch cold but I will not leave you alone."

Alastair looked at him desperately, but now Thomas could see the emotions clearly. Alastair was not doing anything to hide his feelings.

"Why are you doing this?" Alastair breathed.

Thomas hesitantly put a hand on Alastair's shoulder, the latter froze. Alastair's skin was burning hot.

"Lord, you're burning." Thomas said, shifting his hand to Alastair's forehead. Alastair flinched from his touch. "And as I said, I care. Come along, you need to change."

"Why won't you just leave me alone?" Alastair asked, his voice raised to almost a shout.

"Because I care Alastair! How hard is it to understand? I don't want to lose you, you're somebody I care. And I've already lost many people. I can't lose you too!" Thomas shouted back, for once, he was being truthful. Truthful to himself.

Alastair blinked, stumbling back a little, "You—" he said pointing at Thomas and then at himself, "—care about me?"

"Yes I do. I've told this to you multiple times." Thomas said tugging Alastair's hand and this time Alastair allowed himself to be pulled. Alastair looked beneath, where Charles stood, thanking the guests. Alastair shivered once and turned his head sideways. Even as the rain dimmed Alastair's sob, Thomas could hear it clearly. It sent stabs to his heart.

Thomas hesitantly pulled Alastair towards him as he put his arms around him. Alastair did nothing, still shaking from the cold and hurt. He just buried his head on Thomas' shoulder and cried. Thomas didn't know how long they stood their, but he knew that Alastair would be alright.

Some day, perhaps, things will be alright for them.