This one’s about Alec and Jace. Really minimal spoilers for City of Lost Souls, mostly just about their relationship, but there are spoilers under the cut.
>I just finished reading CoLS and I want to say you made me cry and laugh so many times in the book. Alec has been my favorite character since the beginning but there has always been something bothering me throughout all four books. As much as I want to rant and rave and defend Alec’s position and why he did what he did to Magnus(all of which you already know), it’s this issue that I want to ask about. I want to know what’s the deal with Alec and Jace’s relationship.
I understand it from Alec’s side, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what Jace feels about him. They’re paratabai right? That a really serious bond it seems, not something you go into on a simple whim. Alec has proven time and time again what he is willing to go through for Jace. He’s lied to his parents and the Clave, broken the Law repeatedly, and almost died numerous times, all for Jace’s sake.
But what dose Jace do? It seems all he does is hurt or overlook Alec. His first thoughts are always on Clary or on his obsession with being the hero. He goes off on his own without letting anyone know and usually ends up doing something incredibly stupid. The one time he seems to do something for Alec is when he says he doesn’t care if Alec’s gay or with Magnus, and even than that hurts his paratabai in some way.
So I guess my question is: what does Jace actually think of Alec? Does he really care what’s going on in his brother’s life? Is he going to do anything about “the million papercuts” and Alec’s breakup or is he going to be completely oblivious in favor of taking care of Clary?”
Aw. Well, first, Jace has no need or reason that is apparent at the end of City of Lost Souls to take care of Clary. Clary can fend fine on her own, and also, she is not the one who is on fire. Neither, for that matter, is Alec. If anyone needs taking care of, it is Jace. I mean, Jace ought to be mindful and thoughtful of Clary and her feelings, as one always ought to be mindful and thoughtful of the feelings of anyone one is in a relationship with, but Clary is not having a personal emergency — she is just sharing in the same emergency the rest of them are sharing in: i.e. there’s a guy out there murdering angels, turning Shadowhunters dark, and trying to burn the world down. That is a problem that affects them all.
Indeed, Jace is sympathetic to Alec about the breakup. One of the first scenes in City of Heavenly Fire is them together talking about it. Alec is a private person and not in the habit of displaying his feelings much, but of course, Jace Knows the Pain of Love, and anyway Alec talks to everyone about it in City of Heavenly Fire. Everyone who will stand still, anyway. But he talks to Jace the most.
True, Jace is completely accepting of Alec being gay, which considering Valentine—and the fact Valentine obviously raised Sebastian to at least know and use the language of homophobia—is not how he was initially raised. Jace knows Alec, knows he’s a good person, and supports him completely. I don’t think this actually necessarily is “something he has done for Alec.” Just not being a terrible person isn’t really a check in the positives column, it’s just neutral. He should love and support Alec and he does.
Alec is a tender-hearted person and he wears his insecurities on his sleeve, which can make it very painful to read about him being hurt. But that doesn’t mean Jace sets out to hurt him, and I do not think he overlooks or ignores him. Jace can hurt Alec more than Alec can hurt him, perhaps, but that is because the people we have crushes on have a dreadful power over us, because we really care what they think, we want them to think we are great and crush on us back… but Jace is straight, so that’s going to hurt Alec. Not Jace’s fault: he is not being straight to spite Alec. He doesn’t mean his words to hurt Alec, ever, though they do. The same way Alec himself can hurt Magnus (‘regrettable choice of words’ — the entire scene where Alec pretends they’re not dating right in front of Magnus’ face) through the first three Mortal Instruments books and does, because Magnus fancies him and Alec isn’t sure he fancies him back. Just how fancying people works!
Alec is obviously extremely dear to Jace. Jace describes them as “closer than brothers.” When Alec is injured in City of Bones he just about loses his mind, and cradles Alec’s bleeding body all the way back to the Institute while strongly implying that if Simon doesn’t get them there in time for Alec to be okay, he, Jace, will kill him. In City of Glass, he forces Alec to face the fact that Alec isn’t in love with him, he’s in love with Magnus. That’s not about hurting Alec: that’s tough love. That was a conversation that had to happen, and to Jace’s credit, could have been really uncomfortable and whacked a rift right down the middle of his relationship with Alec, but didn’t. Jace framed the fact that Alec had a crush on him as a problem for Alec, not anything Alec was doing to annoy or disturb him, but rather something that was impeding Alec’s ability to find true love — which Jace wanted for him, because he loves Alec and wants him to be happy. (Oddly, the same book in which he kisses Aline because she’s trying to figure out if she likes dudes — answer: no. Jace Herondale, Helping Shadowhunters Sort Out Their Sexuality Since 2007.)
Being parabataiisn’t something you do on a whim, no, but neither is it a bond meant to supersede every other bond in your life. It is not meant to be a love greater than the love you bear your wife or husband, family and children. That’s not what it’s about. (Will and Jem are unusual — they are beyond close, for all the reasons I’ve gone over in posts about them before, but Alec and Jace are a much more normal example of what the bond is like.)
Jace is a reckless person and also crazy in love with Clary, so he acts like he is… both those things, and both those things take up a lot of his time, but there’s also never been any reason for him to lie to the Clave for Alec: Alec isn’t in the centre of a maelstrom as Valentine’s son and hasn’t been raised from the dead or possessed by evil. Clary is the heroine; Jace is the hero: they have Protagonist Problems. Protagonist Problems are always pretty dire. Alec’s problems are largely the problems many normal humans have: Who am I? If I come out to my parents, will they hate me? Does this person I love, love me back? — which in many ways makes Alec more relatable, but also means Jace has to do a lot less rallying around Alec than Alec has to do around him, because Alec’s problems are real problems, but Jace’s problems could end the entire world.
Jace asked Alec to be his parabatai, though he’d been raised believing love was weakness, and supported Alec through his troubles. He’s deeply upset whenever Alec is hurt and he’s deeply upset when he thinks Alec doesn’t trust him. Jace loves Alec: we can read it in his thoughts. He doesn’t throw himself on Alec and cry, because they are both dudes, and warriors, and both would be horrified by such behavior, but in City of Lost Souls the first thing Jace is aware of when he wakes up in the Institute is Alec’s hand in his. The first thing he does is “with a reflex born of love and familiarity”, grip that hand back. And the first words out of his mouth are: “Alec. Alec, I’m so sorry.”
Which is pretty much the straight guy equivalent of “I love you so much.” Really. My husband backs me up on this one. :)
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