Clary grunted as she viciously attacked one of the padded pillars in the training room with a long staff, her muscles burning as she pushed herself to keep going. She couldn't stop. If she stopped, she'd have to think, and that was the last thing she wanted right now.
Her next savage cry was accompanied by the sound of splintering wood. She'd managed to snap the staff in two. Frustrated, she tossed the broken pieces aside and ran her trembling hands through her sweat-damp curls. Two hours and she still hadn't managed to stop shaking...
"You didn't tell her..."
She squeezed her eyes shut as Valentine's voice rang in her head, crossing over to the punching bag and throwing her weight behind a brutal punch that was more rage than technique.
"You must still have feelings for her, huh?"
Her eyes burned with unshed tears as she punched and kicked the heavy bag, her hits making the chain sway from the creaky ceiling beams. With her luck, she'd tear the thing down.
"Valentine's not my father. I'm not your brother, Clary..."
She dropped to her knees, gasping, clinging to the still swinging bag to keep her upright as she choked down the sobs threatening to break free.
Jace wasn't her brother.
A few weeks ago, she would have been overjoyed at the news. Now, all she felt was the raw, scathing pain of yet another family member taken from her. Another loved one lost thanks to Valentine's cruelty.
Clary jumped as Simon's voice sounded behind her, quickly rearranging her features before standing and turning around, giving him what she hoped was a convincing smile. The look of concern on the vampire's face said otherwise.
"What's up?" he asked, trying to sound nonchalant. But Clary knew him too well. About as well as he knew her, apparently.
"Trying to channel my emotional turmoil into physical activity," she said, only half joking as she made her way toward the door.
"Where are you going?"
"My room," she said shortly. "To shower and change. I reek."
"Smell fine to me," Simon said airily, falling into step beside her as she headed toward the dorms.
"A ringing endorsement," Clary returned flatly. She just didn't have the energy to banter.
They were quiet the rest of the way to her room, a tell-tale sign that Simon knew something serious was up. He followed her through the door even when she raised her eyebrow at him questioningly.
"Go take your shower. I can wait."
Clary just nodded silently, slipping into the bathroom and shutting the door behind her. Even with the door shut and the shower running, Simon could hear Clary sniffling. He frowned, wondering what could have her so upset but not wanting to push her to talk before she was ready.
He must have lost his train of thought because before he knew it, Clary had gotten out of the shower and come back into her room. She towel dried her hair as she sat in her desk chair, crossing her legs and pulling them up to hug against her chest.
"You okay?" Simon asked carefully.
"Yep," Clary bit out, turning her face away and resting her cheek on her knees.
"Bullshit," he snorted.
Clary glanced up at him, meeting his eyes briefly before shrugging.
"Why'd you ask then?" she said quietly as she played with the frayed hem of her tee shirt. Simon hid his smile as he recognized the shirt as his own.
"To get you to talk about it."
"There's nothing to talk about."
Simon just nodded. He'd been through this with Clary before. He just needed to be patient. His eyes dropped to her bruised knuckles and his frown deepened.
"Hey, should you maybe heal those?"
Clary looked confused as she followed his gaze to her hands. Oh. She hadn't bothered to wrap her hands before beginning to whale on the punching bag and the skin that wasn't split open was turning purple.
"It's fine, they don't hurt," she said dismissively. It was the truth. She hadn't even noticed them.
"Clary, they don't look too good..."
"I said they're fine, Simon," she snapped.
"Okay," he acquiesced, leaning back against her four-poster bed.
She huffed and stood up, pacing her room restlessly as she tangled her hand in her wet hair.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, pressing her fingers against her temple as her head began to throb.
Simon's gaze was soft as he watched her.
"It's okay, Clary..."
"No, it's not," she bit out, clenching her jaw as her breathing became erratic.
"No! How is any of this okay?!" she shrieked, aware she was becoming hysterical but unable to stop herself.
"Clary, you're having a panic attack. You need to breathe."
"Don't do that, don't try to help, there's nothing you can do to help..." she was practically hyperventilating at this point, clutching her chest as she paced the room.
Her pacing didn't falter and neither did her frantic gasping. Simon stepped in front of her and grabbed her shoulders.
"Fray!" he shouted.
Clary met his eyes, startled.
"You need to relax. Just breathe..." he said in a softer voice.
"You can't Encanto me, Simon, there's a rune for that," Clary bit out, her breaths less frantic but still tense.
"I'm not trying to Encanto you," Simon huffed. "I'm just trying to help..."
Clary's face crumpled at that and he quickly pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her and holding tight.
"I just wanna help," he whispered into her hair. He felt her heaving breaths start to even out as he rubbed her back.
"Just talk to me, Clary..."
"What is there to talk about?" she mumbled as she stepped out of his embrace and moved to sit on the edge of her bed.
Simon raised an eyebrow at that.
"I mean, normally panic attacks have a catalyst of some kind. You know, the straw that breaks the camel's back?"
Clary couldn't even bring herself to crack a smile.
Wow, Simon thought. That bad, huh?
"Clary, talk to me," he said as he sat on the bed next to her. "Not as your boyfriend or newly minted Daylighter, but me, dorky Simon Lewis, the guy you've known since the sandbox days, your best friend. You can tell me anything..."
Clary took a deep breath as she rested her head in her hands.
"Jace just told me he's not my brother."
She spoke so quietly that even with vamp hearing, Simon had to strain to make out what she said.
"What d- so he's-"
"He's not Valentine's son," Clary confirmed bitterly, eyes trained on the floor.
Simon took a deep breath. He was, understandably, still incredibly rattled by the topic of the blond Shadowhunter who'd once held rivaling affections for Clary.
"And that's... How do you feel about that?" he cringed as the words left his mouth, but he had no idea how else to ask.
Clary made a soft choking noise.
"I don't know," she whispered.
Simon nodded silently. He knew he had to let Clary sort out her own feelings before jumping to conclusions but damn it, he'd just gotten her... He'd been so afraid of revealing his feelings for so long, and now that he had her, he didn't want to lose her...
"I'm alone," Clary blurted out suddenly.
Simon glanced up at her in shock, not expecting that.
"No. My mom is dead. My father," she spat the word out like it burned her tongue, "is a psychopathic murderer, and my brother... isn't even my brother..." she broke off as her voice started to tremble.
"I have no family," she sobbed, the tears she'd been stubbornly holding back loosing as she collapsed into Simon's arms.
Simon hugged her tightly, rubbing her back and whispering soft words of comfort into her hair. Movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention and he glanced up to see Jace hovering in the doorway. His face was a mask of guilt and sorrow and it made Simon's stomach clench. He felt for the other man, he really did, but Jace's feelings weren't Simon's responsibility. Clary was. And right now, she didn't need Jace confusing her, so he made eye contact with the blond and slowly but firmly shook his head. Jace opened his mouth like he wanted to argue but then Clary let out another sob.
Simon almost broke when he saw the raw heartbreak in Jace's eyes. It was a look he'd worn himself for too long when it came to Clary. The Shadowhunter took a deep breath, stepping back and quietly closing the door behind him. Simon sighed in relief as he held Clary tighter. Yes, there was a small part of him that relished being the one whom she chose to confide in, the one she let comfort her, but really he just wanted what was best for her. If he honestly thought that was Jace, he'd go after the blond man himself, but Clary was mourning the loss of the last family she'd thought she had. So he shoved down everything else and just focused on being there for his best friend while she grieved.