Authors Note: Ok, so when I said that Need was complete I lied...sorry...it wouldn't leave me alone. This is a sequel One-Shot to my other fic Need. I am actually planning on doing one more after this so watch for that. If you haven't read Need, you might want to go do that before reading this one...otherwise parts of it might not make sense ;) As always THANKS to my lovely beta! You are the apple of my eye!
Disclaimer: The Mortal Instruments series belongs to Cassandra Clare.
It had been days since 'The Incident' as Clary had come to refer to it, and Jace had been avoiding her at all costs. It seemed like every room she entered he was just leaving, every plan they'd made overlapped something else he had to do of vital importance, every time she approached his room to talk about it he was sleeping.
This was one of those times; she stood outside his closed bedroom door in her nightgown, arms clutched tight around her torso. She'd already knocked twice, and now she waited, fighting back the tears that threatened to spill over and tumble down her cheeks. She'd done enough of that in the last several days. There was no answer, only the same silence she'd been greeted with the previous night and the night before that.
"Jace." She spoke quietly into the door. "Jace, are you up?"
On the other side of the door, Jace lay back on his bed still fully clothed. His arms back behind his head, he glanced once at the door when he heard her voice before turning his gaze back to the ceiling. He'd known it was her before she spoke, hadn't she realized that he couldn't be around her...didn't know what to say...couldn't find the words...didn't trust himself anymore.
"Jace, I know you're in there." She stage whispered into the crack. There was a long stretched out period of silence. "I'm not leaving this time, Jace. We need to talk."
He didn't move, just listened closely to her breathing on the other side of his door. He let his eyes fall closed as she started speaking again.
"I don't know how to fix what I've done...I'm sorry."
She paused again. For a moment he thought she'd left, but then he heard the unmistakable sound of her small fist hitting frame of the door.
"Dammit, Jace! Talk to me! This can't go on forever."
Right here? Right here, Clary? In my bedroom, under the cover of night...with no one as witness? He thought. He opened his eyes and looked towards the closed door once more. No. I can't let that happen again...it was a mistake. That rune...it wasn't real. He rolled over and curled into himself silently.
"Jace...please. I—I need you in my life by some measure...you have to let me try to fix this."
It was nearly unbearable for him; painful to the point of tears...but he didn't cry, ever. He heard her as she turned and put her back against the door and let it support her as she slid down it to the hallway floor.
"I can't—I...I," a sob and a sniffle cut her off. "I don't know what else to—to do." Her words were muffled, like she had her face in her hands.
Great, I've made her cry again, Jace thought. I wonder how many more ways I can ruin the only woman I've ever really...really what? ...cared for. He wouldn't even let himself think the words. He stood and treaded silently to the door, stopping with it just inches out of reach.
"Why can't you see clearly?" She started again.
Me? He thought with a short cut off laugh. Her voice cut off immediately...she must have heard him.
"Jace." She spoke quietly and with purpose. "Jace, I don't know what I did; I honestly don't...but I swear to you, I'll never ever do it again. Please...please forgive me."
His heart skipped a beat and his head fell. He reached a hand out and placed his palm carefully on the door. No, he thought, you don't understand...how could you think I'm angry at you? He squeezed his lips together and bit down to keep himself from speaking.
"I know you're there." She whispered.
He let his hand drop from the door and sighed. Slowly and in one fluid movement he turned and sat on the lush carpet, scooting back quietly until he sat against the door mirroring what he thought must be her position.
"Please..." she begged, "Please understand that I can't imagine life without you now, as ridiculous as that sounds, you can't—we can't let this come between us." The sadness in her voice pulled on his heart, which was not something he was accustomed to feeling, and he let his forehead fall to his knees.
"Clary—" He finally began quietly, his voice was thick with the emotion that was coursing through him. It was too much, too much for even him to sort out. He was cut off abruptly when he heard the sound of heavy footfall echoing down the hall. He didn't move at all, but heard Clary scramble to her feet and begin walking away from his door.
"Clary?" He heard Alec's voice layered with surprise at seeing her there.
"Hey, Alec." She said, and Jace could hear her trying to mask the pain of her quiet lamentations that now gripped her by the throat. "I—" She cleared her throat, "I was just going to ask Jace if he wanted to join us for training tomorrow, or if he was going to be busy. But, he's sleeping already...I think." She finished lamely.
"Oh, I was going to talk to him, too...Oh well. Hey, we've got Pizza downstairs, if you wanna join us you're more than welcome!"
"No, no...I've gotta get to my…shower." She stuttered over her excuse for a quick escape. He could hear her footsteps fading off down the hall in the opposite direction than Alec had come.
Jace figured Alec must have believed Clary because he didn't try to knock on his door, he simply turned and left. Jace was grateful. He'd almost given in again...almost opened that door to her.
He let himself fall down to the carpet, still resting against the door but on his side now. He was stuck in a place that he didn't recognize; he wondered briefly why in all of his years growing up no one had thought to prepare him for this. He was perfectly capable of handling demons twice his size, but a girl...not a girl, that girl...he was no match for her. One word from her mouth and he was rendered completely defenseless, there were no weapons or runes that could help him fight her. He had no hope.
What hurt the most was that she was right, they'd become so dependent on one another in such a short time that there really was no option to just end contact completely in effort to avoid making the same mistakes again. All of his carefully executed efforts had been a waste, it would never work. Just as she'd pleaded with him, he could no more live his life without her. Something had to be done.
At some point during his thoughts, he drifted off into sleep there on the floor. His head filled with visions of her and how she felt pressed against his body in that training room. The way her skin had tasted and the scent of her hair filled his dream world, and for one brief moment he was completely happy.
The following morning, Jace woke sore and yet still somehow well rested. He showered and dressed and headed downstairs with a new resolve. He was finished avoiding her, it was time for a new tactic. The kitchen was full of people when he entered. It seemed to him that conversation halted when he stepped through the door, but that could have just been his imagination. He was sure that everyone had noticed his odd behavior over the last few days, but hoped they'd just assume he was over tired or stressed.
"Hey, Jace!" Izzy beamed as he sat down and grabbed a muffin off the tray setting on the table. He responded with just a slight nod of his head.
He took a slow bite of his breakfast and only then did he let his eyes search for her. She sat at the far end of the table, and her eyes were fixed on him. He watched as she slowly raised one well groomed eyebrow. He simply shrugged in response. No one noticed the silent exchange, or if they did,they didn't mention it.
Conversation flowed freely around the small table and though they were completely wrapped up in each other; both Jace and Clary managed to participate enough to keep anyone from asking questions. When people started getting up to leave, complaining about everything that they had to do, Jace and Clary simply sat there. They sat until the room was empty and they were alone. The only other presence in the room was the smothering silence that had settled as the kitchen door closed behind Izzy.
Jace couldn't bring himself to meet her Clary's gaze now. He'd caught and held contact with her emerald eyes several times over the last hour...but now he couldn't force himself to look away from fingers, which were busy working at his nails. He thought for sure she'd be the one to break the silence. She was, after all, the one that had been begging him to talk through his door last night.
Thinking of her words...her tears, the previous night sent a sharp pang of guilt ridden pain through his chest. This has to stop, he thought as he heaved in a deep breath.
"Clary," he started. He looked up then and met her eyes that he knew had been watching him the whole time...he could feel them.
She swallowed hard.
"Clary, I'm sorry." Simple. So simple. And yet, so very difficult for him to say. He hoped she could hear the weight behind that word. He hoped that she knew it was more than just a word, and that it stood for more than one thing. He wasn't only sorry for last night, or what had happened in the training room...he was sorry for the entire situation and his inability to do anything about it. He watched her fight tears as she nodded.
"Not just for—" he started, but she cut him off before he could finish.
"I know, Jace. You don't think I'm not?"
There was a heavy silence again; this time though, he let himself read her face. He watched dozens of emotions and thoughts cross it, flashing so fast it was difficult for him to keep up. He contemplated why it was so hard to decide what was most important; being happy or doing what was right. And why in the HELL can't they be the same thing? He shouted in his head.
She sighed and broke the eye contact, looking toward the door. "So now what?"
"Huh?" he asked, taken a bit off guard by her sudden question.
She looked back at him, "It's obvious we're both miserable, and it's abundantly clear that completely avoiding each other isn't a viable solution." She paused, "So, now what?" She repeated.
He chewed on his bottom lip as he thought. He hadn't expected her to be so direct; in truth he really didn't know what he'd expected...just that this wasn't it.
"I can do it if you can." He stated simply.
"You were right, we aren't going to be able to avoid each other forever. I've decided that if we can both be proactive in our efforts to stay...just… what we were...then we could maybe find some measure of happiness."
"Jace...that isn't going to make anything—"
"Go away? I know. I never said it was going to be easy, Clary. However, by now I've learned that there are things worth fighting for and things worth fighting against..." He paused, trying to find a way to force the words out. "And for me, you—you are worth fight for...and if that means I have to fight against this, thing...whatever this physical thing is," he gestured between them, "then so be it...I'll fight. Are you not willing? Not able?"
Her lips trembled and something in the core of his stomach clenched, he closed his eyes until it stopped. "Is that what you think this is? Is that what it is to you? Some 'physical thing'?"
"What? No...yes—I mean I don't know, Clary. I don't know what it is...I can't define it, and believe me I've tried!"
"Right...I see." She looked down at her hands now.
"Look, I've thought it through Clary and there is no other way. I can't not have you in my life any more than you can live without me, and we can't..." he trailed off, "We just can't." He couldn't even bring himself to say the words out loud. What a coward, he thought.
He reached out and took her hands in his, pulling them to the middle of the table. The contact sent a thrill up his arms and down his spine, he tried his best to ignore it. He watched her as he did so, and saw the same shiver travel down her back.
"You feel that, don't you? When we touch? You feel it just like I do." He whispered.
She nodded slowly.
He swallowed, "That is what we have to be able to fight...I know you, Clary. You're strong; strong enough, I'm sure of it."
"Jace, I don't know."
"There IS no other way, Clary...it's either this," he squeezed her hands lightly in his, "Or I go back to Idris and away from here, because nothing I've tried so far has worked. We can NOT love each other like we do."
He watched as her resolve waivered and a single tear slipped from her left eye and slid down, over her cheek bone and settled in the corner of her mouth. He wanted so badly to take it away...To kiss it from her—NO! He stopped himself.
"I can do this, Clary." He affirmed himself out loud. "We—can do this." He stared deep into her eyes now. "Please, please be strong so I can keep you."
She sniffled, and nodded once more.
For Jace, the week that followed his and Clary's talk passed in agonizing ebbs and flows. There were moments that flew by—while plans were being made to travel to Idris or when he and Alec and at times Izzy were on raids in the city. Those were his brief moments of sanity...sweet numb moments that acted as a strong pain killer.
The rest of the time stood out in stark contrast. Every second played out painfully slow, like the bridge of some haunting piano ballad. Those were the times she was around. He'd kept telling himself that he'd get used to it—that it would just take some time. Until then he was stuck; it seemed now that he was making an active effort to ignore his feelings for Clary that they had multiplied in strength ten-fold.
He couldn't sit next to her without noticing how nice she smelled; without wanting to lean into her to touch his nose to her throat and experience that scent in its most potent form. He couldn't have a conversation with her without getting lost in the way her lips formed around the words she was saying and how she often licked her bottom lip when she lost her train of thought. He couldn't touch her without that sharp spark of something flowing up his arm from his fingertips and down through his torso, causing his heart to stutter, before settling in the pit of his stomach. That was the worst really, not even being able to casually touch her. He couldn't even hug her goodbye without wanting more.
But this moment wasn't as easy a test as the past week had been. They sat across from each other in the small study, alone. This was the first time he'd let himself be alone with her since it had happened. They had been discussing how they were going to get her to Idris, then they just sat reliving and laughing about something Alec had done earlier that day. It was easy to laugh with her, to talk to her when she was so far away. He couldn't smell her or feel the heat coming off her body. In fact, he didn't have a problem staying the conversation at all until he'd pointed out something really funny and she threw her head back to laugh.
Her slim, milky throat was exposed to the dim light radiating from the few lamps in the room. Jace abruptly stopped laughing and swallowed...she didn't seem to notice.
He watched her as she tried to regain control of herself. Her breathing grew more regular while his minutely intensified. He watched as her chest heaved and a deep blush colored her high pale cheeks. Her eyes sparkled with the beginnings of tears, she swiped at them and looked at him.
"Oh man, Jace. Thanks for that." She still chuckled. He didn't respond and it was still a few long seconds until she noticed his change in demeanor.
He watched her with careful eyes now, as she watched back. The atmosphere around them shifted suddenly, the playful joking was gone, replaced by a thick familiar fog of lust so tangible it made it difficult to breathe. Jace watched Clary shift back on the love seat as far from him as she could. Her eyes were big, round...almost fearful. He wondered what she was afraid of; him or herself.
He couldn't stop the deep breath that filled his lungs when she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down gently. His fingers fisted, clutching the cushion so tightly that his knuckles turned white. He needed to get out.
He let the breath out and stood quickly. "I—have to..." He couldn't tear his eyes from her face, "A—away." He managed to get out before darting from the room.
He made his way down the hall and up the stairs, brushing roughly past Isabelle when she asked where the fire was. He made it up the stairs and around the corner before pulling in another breath. The hall he was in now, the one that contained the door to his bedroom, was small and blissfully deserted. He stopped and turned to the wall, leaned his forehead against the cool surface, and slammed his fist against it...once, twice, and a third time before the dent in the wall was sufficient enough to hold his frustration.
"Shit!" He shouted at the floor. "Why does this keep getting worse?" The question was directed at no one in particular, his voice barely above a whisper now. "There is no more rune, why can't I stop wanting what I shouldn't want."
"Jace?" Her voice drifted up the stairs, around the corner, and reverberated up his spine. His back went rigid and he stood up, backing away from the wall just as she came into view.
He watched her make her way slowly down the hall toward him. When she got close enough to touch he started backing away, opening the space between them. She stopped.
"Jace, I'm sorry."
He didn't speak. He didn't trust himself to. He just shook his head back and forth.
He was backed against his door now, with nowhere else to go. She stopped inches from him, why does she insist on making this harder for me? He questioned; doesn't she understand how difficult this is for me?
He could smell her now; she was close enough that he could watch the dim hall lights play off of the hundred different shades of green in her eyes. He closed his eyes, shutting off that sense...hoping that if he lessened the exposure it would go away. Wrong. Everything that didn't involve sight intensified then. Not only did the scent of her fill his head, but the warmth radiating from her body layered itself over him...he was covered in it, like being immersed completely in a hot bath. It intoxicated him, and his fisted hands loosened without his control.
Slowly his hand raised and he placed it on the front of her shoulder, sliding it back underneath her hair and wrapping his long fingers around the back of her overheated neck. Eyes still closed, he tugged lightly. She leaned forward, responding to the gentle pressure. He felt rather than heard the sigh escape her lips right before they made contact.
It was chaste, careful, calculated.
He felt her pull back and opened his eyes, but didn't let go of the back of her throat. The question hung there in the tiny space between them. A lifetime of conversation passed silently in only seconds; and then, without thinking, he felt his fingers fist into her hair at the base of her scalp and he pulled her back to him roughly. He wasted no time taking his turn pulling that full bottom lip that she'd been biting on only minutes before between his teeth. When she moaned into his mouth he pushed himself away from the door, spun them around without breaking the kiss, and slammed her against it.
It was too much—after too little—for too long. There was no magic fueling courage, no curiosity fueling desire, no will fueling conscience...no stopping.
Her hands quickly found their way into his hair, holding him as tightly to her as she could. Jace's hand, the one that wasn't still holding her head to his, drifted down to her waist. Her skin was warm and smooth as his fingers slipped underneath the hem of her shirt and ran behind her waist. He flattened his palm against the small of her back and pulled her tighter against him.
She started gasping between kisses and he vaguely registered that she needed to breath and couldn't pull away because there was a door behind her. He forced himself to break the kiss and instead planted his lips on her jaw. He used his teeth on her skin, tasting her in a way that he hadn't before. The need driving him was carnal...primitive...anything but innocent.
He bent down and bit at her neck and then moved back up to nip at her ear and the sensitive skin around it. Breaking the kiss didn't seem to be having any effect on her breathing at all, her chest still heaved against his as she pulled in what oxygen she could. Her fists tightened in his hair as he bit the fragile skin just below her ear, and in the first gentle act since this had all started, he let his warm tongue smooth over the now red skin.
"Un—" Was all she was able to get out before he took her lips again, swallowing the rest of her sounds.
Her lips were already swollen from their previous kiss, but he showed no mercy; demanding entrance. He only vaguely registered the sound of heeled shoes ascending the hardwood staircase. He didn't have the ability to stop like he should have, to pull away and escape to the safety of his bedroom...alone on the other side of that door. He removed his hand from her back and reached for the door handle, still desperately moving his lips with hers.
He turned the handle and the door swung open behind her. He'd expected them to go tumbling into the room and onto the floor, but she was wielded so tightly to him that when he faltered a step forward, she balanced and steadied him. He spun them both around the other side of the door, kicked it shut, and she was back against it within seconds. One of his hands was now planted on the door beside her head and the other moved frantically around the skin around her waist. Hers had hooked themselves into the waistband of his pants, pulling him hard against her. He gave her what she wanted and found his own brief relief in the act as well when he pushed his hips against hers.
He couldn't hold in the sound that started deep in his chest and then found its way up his throat and our through his lips as he let his head fall backwards. Her wet lips immediately went to his exposed neck, kissing and nipping...just as aggressive as he'd been with her. He gave one more upward buck of his hips before abruptly turning her and starting to move toward his neatly made bed.
When he was close enough he reached down, grasped her waist, and lifted her up. He tossed her onto his bed and stood back and watched for just a fraction of a second before quickly making his own way up. He settled next to her, watching her as his breaths came in great heaving gasps. He was challenging himself to stop...daring himself to go on.
He lifted a hand slowly and placed it on her the soft curve of her hip. He wasn't able to stop, he lacked the ability now, so he was going to leave it up to her. Slowly, painfully slowly, he ran his hand first down into the dip curve of her waist and then, even slower, fingertips exploring...higher. Her shirt caught on his wrist and rose with his hand, leaving her pale goose-bumped flesh exposed.
He saw the snap decision in her eyes nearly hidden behind layers of lust and need. She sat up abruptly, reached down and grabbed the hem of her own shirt, and pulled it over her head. Once it was off and she looked down at him, her eyes held a new fire. His body surged with heat and he sat up as well. Her hands immediately went to his shirt, pulling it up and over his head while his hands flattened themselves against the smooth expanse of her stomach and back.
"Clary?" He questioned. He had to hear her say something...needed to hear her say this was what she wanted. The single word; her name whispered like a soft prayer, was all he could manage. He couldn't bring himself to pull his hands from her body; they continued their slow assent up her torso.
Her face showed nothing but a fierce determination and something else...love? He wasn't willing to allow himself to believe that was what he saw. Jace chose instead to focus on the slight turn of her face, first to the left and then to the right.
Clary leaned forward and caught his lips briefly. Yes, her kiss said. Yes. Without breaking her kiss, Jace lay back, pulling her down on top of him.
It was mutual agreement to disregard the rules of society...mutual agreement to ignore the possible consequences...mutual agreement indulge in what they needed.
Just. This. Once.