Author's Note: A short piece regarding a possible future. Based on Cassandra Clare's City of Bones.
Jace meets his niece for the first time five years and four months after she is born. At first he watches her from the door, unsure what to do and wishing her mother hadn't left them alone.
She is seated on the carpet and quietly humming to herself as she waves around two dolls and an old, plush turtle. It is a very non-threatening situation, but he hesitates. Somehow facing this little girl seems more challenging than all the demons he's faced in his lifetime.
She has rich, red hair like her mother's. As he approaches he can't help but notice that her eyes reflect a piercing, light color so like his own he finds it sickening. He crouches down beside her and introduces himself.
If she feels any sort alarm at this tall, dark-clothed stranger coming into her life she certainly doesn't show it. She's got pluck for such a young age. It reminds him of Clary.
"Want to play?" she asks, offering him the turtle. Jace takes it from her, holding it gingerly from the head as if he's afraid of breaking it.
"I don't know how," he admits to the five-year-old. She finds this hilarious.
Clary walks him to the door ten minutes later.
"What do you think?" she murmurs, glancing back at the room where her daughter plays quietly on her own. It took him so long to get even this far. She's aching for him to be okay with it.
"She seems happy," Jace replies in a way that very much says, "You see happy."
She catches his hand in her own. For a moment she stares into his eyes like she could pick apart his brains and discover every answer to every question in the universe. He stares back; he wants answers too.
Then, like it was controlled by a switch, the moment is lost. "She seems a lot happier than our three-headed-or-whatever children would have been, anyway," he amends with a wry smile. The statement is so blunt Clary is stunned. Even after knowing him all these years she can hardly believe he would joke about something so serious.
"Jace…" she begins, unsure how to readdress the issue they've been over a thousand times before. She wonders if she even should, if there could possibly be anything left to say.
He decides for her, by shaking his head and backing towards the door. He reminds her of a cat backed into a corner, although the look on his face suggests nothing but disinterested calm.
Before leaving he says sardonically, "This was fun, let's do it again some time," and Clary hardly knows whether to take him seriously or not.
Simon is not ashamed to admit he purposely made himself scarce for Jace's visit. …not too ashamed, anyway. The two of them don't get along very well these days, and it's become easier for them to avoid each other altogether. He sort of wishes he didn't have to be the one skulking around in his own home, but knows it's better than the alternative: actually meeting up with the guy or, God forbid, having a conversation.
When he emerges from his hideout in the basement his first instinct is to find his daughter and make sure she hasn't been blown up by some weird Shadowhunter spell or something, but he comes across Clary first and is immediately distracted. She is staring at the front door, her arms crossed and her breath hitching in a particular way that lets him know that her brother must have done something or said something…
He walks up behind her and wraps her in his arms. She's short enough that he can rest his chin on top of her head, and it never ceases to amaze him how perfectly she fits there, like this, like they were made to be this way.
Her hands grasp his forearms, and she says, "I love you," with such ferocity that it seems bizarre, considering the statement.
But it isn't bizarre, Simon knows, because he knows that the sentiment isn't for him. Not when she says it like that: the way she never can to the person she truly wants to hear it.
He struggles not to sigh, not to react, not to hold onto her more tightly like he wants to and never let her go. Instead he rubs his cheek against her hair and murmurs, "I know."