Put on an argyle sweater and put on a smile
Even with his eyes closed, he could see the city. It played against the insides of his eyelids, coursing through his veins like a toxin and he could hear it pulsing loudly where his ear compressed itself against the headrest of the taxi. Normally, this sensation would be cause enough for him to rouse himself from his slumped posture – any fleeting reference to blood made him slightly nauseous – but tonight he didn't. It was just too much – much too much – and he couldn't be bothered.
He was flanked, in the back of the taxi, by Isabelle and Jace on either side. Clary sat in the front seat anxiously glancing back at him from time to time while trying, most unsuccessfully, to remain inconspicuous. No one spoke. There was no need, there was nothing to say, not really, yet the silence was palpable, pressing heavily upon them from all directions.
Warm fingers laced themselves through his much colder ones and he could feel the slow transfer of heat from Isabelle's body to his own. The second law of thermodynamics states that heat will always flow from a warmer body to a cooler one, he recited mechanically. Apart from the whole demon thing, Shadowhunter schooling wasn't really that different from the mundane education system and Hodge had insisted that they have a broad understanding of the arts and sciences.
After what seemed like an eternity, the taxi slowed to a stop. He could hear Clary murmuring to the driver, the rustle of bills being exchanged.
"Alec?" Jace whispered. "We're here."
Alec opened his eyes for the first time since entering the taxi. It was raining, but he already knew that – the drops had been audible against the roof of the car for the entire duration of the ride.
Isabelle eased her hand away and prepared to exit the vehicle. The taxi shuddered as the other passengers eased themselves out, slamming the doors shut behind them. Isabelle held her door open and helped Alec out. She laid her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it supportively.
"Are you ready?" she asked, her perfect features marked with concern. "You know that you don't have to do this. It's okay."
Alec swallowed loudly and took a moment to collect himself. "No," he started, his voice completely devoid of any emotion, "you're wrong. I do have to do this." He shrugged her hand off and walked into the cemetery alone.
Night had long since fallen and Alec was still awake. Following the funeral, they'd returned to the Institute. He'd initially resisted the overwhelming impulse to run to his room. He'd sat with the others in the kitchen. Maryse had prepared food but none of them had had any appetite to speak of. At her insistence, the others had eaten a bit but Alec hadn't been able to stomach anything. The very thought of food had made his stomach rise to his throat and he'd simply shaken his head. By the time that his mother had suggested that they retire to the living room for more comfortable seating arrangements, he'd barely been able to stand it. He'd been the last one to rise from the dining room and, instead of following them, had slipped upstairs. Had he been asked how he ended up in his room, he wouldn't have been able to explain it. It hadn't been a conscious decision; on the contrary, it'd been instinctual. He couldn't have stayed for a minute more. He was simply there, in his bedroom, just as he'd been in the taxi before and then the cemetery, the taxi again – a different taxi, this time – and then finally the kitchen.
As he watched the night sky turn to day, Alec was struck, not for the first time, by the strangeness of mourning. He'd refused to wear the traditional white funeral dress that was favoured by Shadowhunters and had worn all black instead. For once, the mundane world seems to have it all figured out. Black is more appropriate for mourning, he decided. It absorbs, consumes, in a way that reflective white cannot.
He was running. An acrid, coppery taste filled his mouth and he was thirsty. He knew that he couldn't stop running.
He didn't know what he was running from, but he knew more surely than anything else, the importance that he keep running. Something grabbed him, high on his upper arms, and the drag began to slow him. He knew that he couldn't stop and his muscles screamed in displeasure as he continued running. It became harder and harder to breathe and he found himself gasping for air. No matter how quickly he breathed, he could not seem to get enough oxygen. The darkness pricked at his field of vision and he knew that he was going to lose consciousness.
His eyes flew open and he became aware of a golden-haired stranger shaking him. Jace.
"Alec, it's just a dream!" Jace searched his face for some sign that his words were registering. Alec's eyes were wild; he was almost unrecognisable in his fear. His complexion was sallow in the soft light and it was not hard to tell that he'd lost weight, his razor-sharp cheekbones casting shadows across the rest of his face.
Jace brushed his hair back from his face and Alec was reminded vaguely of his mother doing the same thing when he was a child. Nature, 0, nurture, 1.
"Alec," Jace started, "it's been over three months."
Alec knew this better than Jace did, actually. It had been over three months. It had been 108 days, to be precise. He stared at him, unable to comprehend why this was significant.
"It's been over three months," Jace repeated, "and you're still having the dreams."
Alec's brows drew together. Jace really was making no sense at all.
"Don't you think that it's time to move on?"
"Move on?" Alec asked him, blankly, "What do you mean by that?"
Jace struggled for a moment before replying, "At the risk of sounding insensitive, one of these days, you're going to have to accept the fact that he's gone. He's never coming back, Alec."
A/N: This is the first attempt I've ever made at writing fiction of any kind. Sois gentil.
All of the characters, etc. belong to Cassandra Clare.
Comments and criticisms would be greatly appreciated.