(or, The One Where Alec Completely Loses His Shit)
Disclaimer: The Mortal Instruments series belongs to Cassandra Clare (THAT BITCH).
Warnings: There is a mention of past suicidal ideation in this. It's not too graphic or anything, but if that might bother you, you may want to skip this one.
Also, CoLS spoilers like whoa.
Notes: I could go on and on and on about my CoLS feelings, but for your sake, I won't.
I tried very hard to not make this melodramatic and wangsty. Not sure if it worked. xD
It was almost embarrassing how fast Alec grabbed for his phone when it rang just before midnight. He snatched it up so quickly that it slipped right through his fingers and crashed to the floor, adding another dent to its impressive collection, but he had it in his hand again in an instant. He'd been clinging to a wild, frantic hope that maybe Magnus would call, would say something like you fucked up colossally and I'm not going to forget that anytime soon, but perhaps we can talk this over, and Alec could try not to sound too desperate when he'd say he was willing to give it a shot, and everything would be okay again. Heart in his throat, he closed his eyes for a moment and then looked at the display.
Isabelle. Not Magnus. Just Isabelle.
He almost didn't answer. He was half-afraid that he'd say two words and she would know right away that his entire life was falling apart. It was terribly self-centered of him to think that way, what with Sebastian still quite determined to "burn down the world" (or whatever it was Clary had said he kept spouting off about) and a cheerfully sadistic baby vampire loose in New York, but he couldn't stop feeling like his breakup with Magnus was the end of the world.
Right before the call was rerouted to voicemail, he changed his mind and picked up, in case it was something important. "Hi."
"Hey," Isabelle yelled over the background noise, a pounding roar that could not be called music in any way. "Don't eat my orange chicken."
"If you come home and I'm not there and you think you can just eat the rest of my orange chicken, think again. It keeps going missing and I'm on to you."
"Um…" Alec didn't even like orange chicken, but he had a creeping suspicion that his sister was not entirely sober. "Okay?"
"Great. That's all!" she chirped. "Gotta go, see you around!" She hung up before he could say anything else, so he closed his phone and tossed it back on top of the dresser. The words if you come home hung in his brain like a fog. He'd been home since yesterday morning, and she had no idea.
In all fairness, Alec was trying very hard to fly under the radar. He hadn't expected to get into the Institute without attracting some attention, but his parents had been shut up in the library and his brother and sister were AWOL, so he had a clear path from the elevator to his bedroom. Once inside, he'd locked the door and not left since.
It wasn't admitting his boyfriend had broken up with him that he was scared of. Isabelle, though gorgeous and fiery and probably more sexually experienced than Alec would have ever wanted his baby sister to be, was a bit of a handful and had been dumped a few times. He didn't doubt that his mother would be sympathetic if he told her. Nor did he doubt that Jace and Isabelle would march over to Brooklyn and do something sociopathically awful to Magnus if he told them. But sooner or later, someone would ask him why it had happened, and that was the part Alec didn't want to talk about.
He'd been dumb enough to trust Camille, who was, in retrospect, so obviously devious that a four-year-old would've thought her unreliable. He hadn't been content with his relationship the way it was, even though Magnus put up with Alec's jealousy and petulance far more than anyone else would have. He'd committed the ultimate blunder of even considering taking away Magnus's immortality without permission. In the end, he couldn't even blame Magnus for dropping him like a hot potato. He would've dumped himself too. Alec couldn't expect any sympathy from anyone who discovered the circumstances, and deep down, the prospect of his family finding out how horrible he really was made him queasy.
He wanted to be mad, at first. He had been mad, enough to wish Camille's violent and painful death and be disappointed when he couldn't carry it out. Despair decays everything it touches, Jace had said once, but anger is constructive. Unfortunately, by the time he had reached Magnus's apartment, all of his anger had drained away, leaving a gaping emptiness where his emotions should have been. He'd packed his things mechanically and left his key on the table, as Magnus had requested, then changed his mind and hid it under a dusty colander atop the fridge. It was uninspired, petty revenge, but he didn't want the warlock to have the satisfaction of walking in and seeing that key and knowing Alec was out of his life forever. He hoped Magnus never found it.
And then home he went, permanently. He hadn't really been keeping a lot at Magnus's apartment – clothes, a couple of books, his toothbrush, some odds and ends – but once it all was strewn messily across his bedspread, those few things looked like a lifetime.
He was cold. Something within him had been shaken loose. It rattled around his insides with the tiniest movement, pricked at his stomach and throat and heart. He'd been selfish, insecure, had ruined the best thing to ever happen to him. How could he be so damn stupid? Being consumed with self-loathing for reasons unrelated to his sexuality was a nice change; on the other hand, hating himself for being himself rather than just for being gay wasn't really an improvement. So, unable to face reality anymore, Alec had lethargically crawled into bed without removing his jacket, piled blankets over himself to leech away the chill that clung to his skin, and slept… and slept… and slept. He didn't want to do anything else. He'd had a nightmare last night, woke up shivering and with a scream trapped in his throat, and automatically reached over for Magnus – and it wasn't until his fingers scraped against the bare sheets that he remembered he was alone. It had been hard to fall back asleep after that, but he'd managed. He hadn't come out of his room in a day and a half.
Unfortunately, one could not live in one's bedroom forever. He wasn't hungry, hadn't been hungry for a while now, didn't think he'd ever be hungry again, but he was thirsty, and he would be sick if he had to take another sip of lukewarm tap water from the bathroom faucet. Twenty minutes after Isabelle called, Alec rolled himself off the bed and ventured out of his room. It was even colder in the hallway. Feeling strangely fragile, brittle, he wrapped his jacket around himself as tightly as he could, trying to trap his body heat inside, and padded into the dark, empty kitchen.
Isabelle's precious carton of orange chicken was right there on the top shelf of the fridge, her name written across the side in purple marker. On another day, Alec would have hidden it in the very back or put it in another container just to screw with her. The fridge was otherwise mostly empty, which didn't come as a surprise. There wasn't a whole lot to drink. Milk – disgusting – grape juice – he was allergic to grapes – wine – same problem – orange juice – he picked it up and found half a centimeter of liquid inside – and strawberry lemonade, which appeared to be the only viable option. Jace would have dehydrated before drinking something so unabashedly pink. Alec, who was less discerning, took it out and shut the door with his foot.
He'd known Robert had returned, he'd heard him talking to Maryse yesterday, but on his quest to avoid everyone and everything, it hadn't really sunk in that there wasn't an entire ocean between himself and his father anymore. And now here he was, calling Alec by his full name like he always had. Alec cast about anxiously for a reason not to turn around and have to face him, remembered the lemonade, and put it down on the counter. Then he mumbled a greeting, reaching into the cabinet overhead for a glass.
"It's a bit late," Robert said, in a casual yet guarded sort of voice. He was probably a little wary of conversing with his children after he'd tried to talk to Isabelle this morning, since she had not given him a warm reception. Even though he'd never left his room, Alec had been able to hear them across the hall, him asking questions about how she'd been, her grinding out terse answers like he was the last person in the world she wanted to speak to. Not that Alec blamed her – Isabelle secretly still hoped that their parents would make up and they could all be a happy family again, minus one, but Robert's continued absence had made that very unlikely. Alec had never had the heart to ruin her dreams. He'd known from the age of five that his parents detested one another, no matter how well they tried to hide it, and every now and then he was visited by the fear that it was because of something he'd done. "Are you going somewhere?"
"What?" Alec said blankly, before realizing that his father was most likely referring to the jacket. "Oh. No, I'm not." Where would he go? He wasn't welcome at Magnus's anymore. Jace and Isabelle both lived in the Institute, and while he supposed he could consider Simon and Clary friends, they weren't exactly close. There was nowhere else for him now. A chilling wave of loneliness swept over him, soaked him down to the bone. He wanted to be back in bed.
The awkward pause stretched on endlessly. Alec contemplated the lemonade, recalled telling Simon that the only way he could raise enough money to hire Magnus through selling lemonade would be to doctor it with methamphetamine, and had a sudden desire to throw the entire carton out the window. Finally, Robert tried again. "Do you –"
"Look." Though he had entertained thoughts of trying to patch things up with his father, and this was as good a time as any to start building that bridge, Alec wasn't exactly in a reconciliatory mood right now. He picked up his glass and wondered why he'd even gotten it out when he didn't actually want anything to drink. "I appreciate your civility, but I've already come to terms with the fact that you hate me for being gay, so I don't really feel like talking, all right?"
"I don't hate you." Robert sounded both sincere and a little astonished, as if he'd never recognized that he might be giving off that impression. "For being – Alexander, you have to understand, it's not the choice I would have made for you –"
Alec broke the glass.
It wasn't the first time he'd smashed something out of sheer fury, but he'd begun internalizing his anger rather than taking it out on defenseless inanimate objects about eight years ago. Before that, a lot of dishware had needed replacing. He hadn't really possessed too many other ways of expressing his more complex emotions – painfully, cripplingly shy, Alec had been nearly incapable of speech at the best of times and unintentionally convinced almost everyone he came into contact with that there was something wrong with him because he wouldn't talk. His parents, especially, were frustrated, even angry, like they thought he was deliberately being obstinate. He couldn't persuade them otherwise. Destruction, while usually expensive, got his point across when he couldn't force any words out. Nobody had never understood that there was no feeling worse than that of being locked inside your own head. And, obviously, that wasn't the only thing his father didn't understand. Not the choice I would have made for you. As if he had any right…. So Alec raised the glass and brought the bottom down on the edge of the counter at just the right angle, and it shattered in his hand. The shards sliced his fingers, stung his bare feet, sounded like the wind chimes in Magnus's kitchen window as they fell to the tiles.
There was a sharp intake of breath behind him, and before Robert could get a word in, Alec spun around and started shouting. "It wasn't your choice to make! It wasn't a choice at all! I didn't just wake up one morning and decide it might be fun to give being gay a try! I've always known I was different, and I can't change that just because you're disappointed in me!"
Robert's dark eyes were very wide. Alec should have stopped there, having already given him plenty to think about, but he'd had the most miserable two days and Magnus didn't want him and Alec didn't want himself and everything was just too much. If he didn't blow up at someone else, he was going to self-destruct. "Do you have any idea how long I hated myself? I spent years terrified that you and Mom were going to disown me and kick me out of the Clave the moment I came out to you! You said you wouldn't 'choose' this for me – well, I wouldn't have chosen it either! I didn't want to spend every waking moment afraid of losing everything. I didn't want to be gay! But I am, and there's nothing you or I or anyone can do about it! I finally managed to stop feeling like I was broken and unnatural, no thanks to you, and once I did, I was actually happy for the first time since I was a kid! I don't care if you don't like it. I'm not going to lie to myself and pretend I'm something I'm not for the rest of my life, and if you can't get over that, that's your problem, not mine!"
He had to pause then, because he was breathing so hard and so fast that he was getting dizzy. Alec hadn't said so much at once to his father in ages. And he'd left a lot out, too – the fact that Magnus had been the one person in the world who loved him because he wanted to, not because he had to. The number of nights Alec had lain awake and thought despairingly he would never make it as a mundane if the Clave stripped him of his Marks. That he'd been fourteen the first time he had curled up on his bed, acutely aware of the dagger in his boot pressing against his ankle, and studied the delicate blue veins in his wrists, trying to figure out how exactly how deep he would have to go.
The silence was deafening. Alec was trembling all over, freezing and furious, and his clenched fingers were slick with blood. His father looked like he'd been slapped.
"I did everything you asked of me." Alec had finally gotten some control over the volume of his voice, even if he couldn't make it stop shaking. "I never got in trouble. I looked after everyone else when you and Mom were always gone. I couldn't be as good at everything as Jace and Izzy were, but I tried. I know I'm not what you wanted, but I tried to be. And the only thing that matters to you is who I fell in love with, and he doesn't –" He cut himself off before he blurted out something he'd regret revealing. Robert was still staring at him, speechless, stunned. Alec wondered if that was because of his words, or if he was still hung up on the novelty of Alec actually shouting at him. He decided he didn't much care. "You know what, forget it," he said. "I'm going to bed." And then he stormed out, not making any effort to avoid the broken glass. There was, strangely, no one hovering outside the kitchen and listening in, but he supposed eavesdropping wasn't really necessary – his voice had probably been audible in Pennsylvania. He stalked into his bedroom, slammed the door as hard as he could, which was terribly immature but got his point across, and then slid down the wall and buried his face in his hands.
Had he really just done that? Once or twice, Alec had imagined what would happen if he aired all of his grievances with his father, but he'd always assumed he would have more time to gather his thoughts, and possibly wouldn't scream quite so much. There was nothing that could be changed now, though. All he wanted to do was call Magnus and tell him what had happened, because before Alec had destroyed everything, Magnus would have been proud of him for finally telling his father how much of an asshole he was being. But Magnus had told Alec in no uncertain terms not to contact him again.
The cuts on his hands were stinging, and there were tiny splinters of glass in the soles of his feet. The thought crossed his mind that he should remove them – leaving broken glass under his skin was just begging for infection. Hodge would have been appalled. Alec had always done very well in field first-aid classes, even beating out Jace, who was never seen to study or do any work and still got perfect grades.
He sat there and waited for someone to come and bang on the door and demand to know what he'd been screaming like that for. He even thought – wished, perhaps – that his father would follow him, maybe yell back, and Alec would let him just so he wouldn't have to be alone.
Nobody came. Alec drew his knees up to his chest and hugged himself. He was so cold.
Writing this was depressing. Cheer me up with reviews, please? :)