He could have stayed there all night. Longer, maybe. Kissing her as softly as he could, so as not to scare her. He played with her hair and traced the straps of her dress across her back, and every now and then when he would pull on her bottom lip with his teeth, she would make the most delicious little noise. But that wasn't to say he was the only one eliciting such responses. One of her hands was pressed against his collarbone, her fingers stroking his neck and sometimes the girl in his arms seemed to decide that there was still too much space between them and press herself further to him. She was driving him insane, but he knew that one wrong move, one slightly too forceful kiss might have her running for the stairs and leave him waiting for another stolen moment like this for weeks, perhaps months.
A voice that was unmistakably Simon echoed up the staircase they'd ascended earlier. Jace should have known it was too good to last. Clary jumped away from him as though an electric shock had pulsed through her. Her lips were slightly swollen, spots of red on her cheekbones, her hair slightly mussed. Tell-tale signs of what had been occurring, Jace thought wryly, also privately thinking that Clary had never looked better.
"I'm sorry," Clary whispered. She gave him one heartfelt look to tell him just how sorry she was, before fleeing down the staircase and leaving Jace standing on the rooftop gazing after her.
"Damn," he said, with feeling.
The rest of the evening passed without much incident. By the time Jace had returned from a session of brooding on the roof, guests had started to leave. Clary had been right; people had noticed his absence, but were not bothered enough to come looking for him and not astute enough to realise that Clary had disappeared for a while too. Simon, however, was obviously bothered and astute enough to put two and two together. He looked daggers at Jace for the remaining hour of the party, before leaving with Luke.
Maryse and Robert told Jace, Alec, Isabelle, Clary and Max to head back home while they helped clear up the party decorations. The minute they stepped back into the Institute, Clary made her excuses, carefully avoiding Jace's eye, and disappeared to her room. Isabelle insisted that Jace accompany them to the library for their 'family present-giving' session which included a comic book from Max, bought with his own pocket money, and Shadowhunter gear from Alec and Isabelle. Eager for the night to be over, Jace accepted their gifts gratefully before excusing himself also and heading for his room.
Jace was just contemplating getting out of his stiff party clothes, having a hot shower and getting into bed when he pushed open the door to his room and found Clary sitting on his bed, looking a little bit sheepish. The green dress was gone; now she wore grey sweats and a simple black t-shirt that was a little baggy on her small frame. Her face was scrubbed clean of all make-up and her hair was up in a ponytail, slightly damp from a shower. Jace changed his mind. This was when Clary was at her best.
"I hope you don't mind me waiting for you in here," she said. He could tell from the way she perched on the edge of his bed that she was a little on edge. Ready to make a run for it? He pondered. Probably. "I just wanted to give you your present."
"Present?" Jace echoed, a little surprised. But why should he be? It was his birthday after all. Presents were a standard.
"Of course. You didn't think I wouldn't get you anything? You got me something for my birthday." She was still on edge, fidgeting with something in her lap. Upon closer inspection, Jace realised it was a sketchpad.
"I did, didn't I," he mused.
"Just... don't look at it now," Clary said, standing up and handing him the sketchpad. "Wait til I'm gone, won't you?"
"I'll do no such thing," replied Jace, eager to see what was inside. He flipped open the front cover and found a message written in Clary's neat, small script.
This isn't nearly as useful as the gift you got for me, but I hope you like it.
Happy birthday, big brother.
The sketchpad, it turned out, was full of doodles. Random sketches of steles, a few drawings of demon motorbikes, even an in-depth drawing of the Insititute. Clary's talent was obvious. When Jace reached the last page his breath caught slightly. It was a picture so accurate it could almost have been a photograph – of him and Clary sitting atop a motorbike above a Manhattan skyline. The image provoked such a powerful memory in Jace, the feeling of the freezing wind whipping through his hair while Clary bunched her hands in his jacket, her carefree laugh floating past his ears. He looked up at Clary, a little lost for words, which was unusual for him.
"Happy birthday," she said, carefully standing on her tiptoes to kiss him lightly on the cheek before exiting his room and closing the door behind her. Jace sat down on the bed, still looking at the drawing. He had never had anything like this before – a personal possession, something he might take with him if he were to live somewhere else, something he might show his children one day.
All thoughts of a shower gone from his mind, Jace lay down on his back, his arms crossed over the sketchpad, hugging it to his chest. His mind whirled for a while with events of the night, the green dress, the kisses on the roof...but eventually it settled on that blissful memory, flying over the city with Clary.
"But Jace, all the stories are true..."
Thanks so much for reading, I appreciate your comments more than you know!
I will be writing more of these short stories, mainly involving Jace and Clary because I just love them. But possibly with some other pairings thrown in to mix things up. Gotta keep myself occupied until March 09!