Authors Note: Clearly I am unable to stop writing these Jace/Clary one shots. This one is NOT the promised third part to Need...that one has been started...this just got in my brain last night and wouldn't leave me alone. Many thanks to my super fast Beta! I hope you enjoy!
Music that inspired this fic: "Closer" by Joshua Radin and "Bring on the Wonder" by Susan Enan. BOTH are absolutely beautiful songs that appear on Cassie Clare's City of Glass playlist.
Disclaimer: The Mortal Instruments Series and all of its characters belong to Cassandra Clare
The trip from Idris back to the Institute was longer than Jace remembered it ever being. One might expect, after everything that had happened, that his thoughts would be filled with all of the victories and tragedies that he'd been witness to. But there was only one thing monopolizing the sunlight dampened dark behind his closed eyelids. Green. Emerald. Jade. Her.
That moment was burned with perfect clarity into his memory. He would never forget how everything seemed to slow to a near standstill around him. One second it was pandemonium, chaos, and terror...and then, it just all stopped. All that mattered in that moment was the truth...truth. Jace couldn't stop the grin that came with that word. He'd thought it over and over again in the hours he'd been sitting there with his head resting against the tiny airplane window, and still he can't change the reaction it brings in him.
He watched again in wonder as it played out once more in his mind. The sneer rang out in Valentine's voice as he said the words he hoped would hurt Jace the most. He'd thought to give Jace everything he'd wanted for just seconds before taking it all away again. He held Clary in his arms, waiting to take her life until he was sure it would have the most impact on Jace...the most hurt...only then did he utter that truth.
That was when everything stopped, or had seemed to anyhow. So slowly he watched the words register in her face; every emotion taking its turn in her eyes. First, the confusion; her eyes narrowed as she tried to comprehend those words in that order...the way the negative changed so much more than just the meaning of the sentence. Next, shock widened her eyes...that was when she looked up from the floor to him. He had no way of knowing what emotions had been playing on his face at the time, but they couldn't have been that much different from the ones on hers.
After the initial shock there was a long drawn out minute...hour...day...year? That was the only detail Jace couldn't nail down, how long it took for all of this to actually happen. Slowly he watched the shock melt away to wonder and then the overwhelming relief that he could see in her eyes was so tangible he could assign it a color, a texture, a flavor, even a taste if he'd tried: Relief and Truth.
Then it was the pain; pain that leaked its way into her striking green eyes like the first few melancholy rain drops of a storm on a sunny day. He knew exactly what put that pain there...it mirrored his own. The pain of not being able to take what you want, not being able to have what you need. The pain that comes with the realization that you could have had it all, but that it's too late. The pain of time wasted on lies.
He squeezed his eyes shut as the next part began. That single drop of moisture that welled in her left eye, the tremble of her chin, the skin of her neck stretched taught as she attempted to swallow around whatever was blocking her throat. And then, it fell. She blinked and it fell. Down along the line of her perfect nose, around the raging pink flush of her cheek, pausing momentarily at the corner of her mouth...kissing her where he'd wanted to so many times. The tear continued on, dropping from her chin and falling heavy; he watched it all the way until it hit the floor breaking whatever spell had fallen over the room, casting it in that slow motion silence.
He opened his eyes, unwilling to watch the rest. It was not only her hurt that was weighing on his heart, and he wasn't ready to deal with that right then...couldn't deal with it all at the same time and still go on living.
He sighed and looked down on the tops of the sunset painted clouds speeding by in slow motion. The lump was forming in his throat again and for someone that prided himself on being an expert at hiding his pain with snark, he'd cried far too much in the last four days. The hurt was too much to hide; something he'd never had to endure before. It was overwhelming, the consequences of their victory...so much hurt to achieve everything they'd been fighting for. So much loss blended with gain.
The airplane started its decent and he was finally close enough to his destination to feel a flutter of something closer to hope than despair in his chest. He was grateful for having been forced to take the traditional mundane way home...it gave him time to think. It forced him to think. He closed his eyes again, blinking away the moisture that had been welling there before swiping the evidence away with the back of his hand.
Jace wasn't even sure where to find her. She'd left right after it was over, not even leaving enough time for him to say goodbye, much less for them to talk about the implications. There were things to be taken care of, things that couldn't wait. Her mother still waited, unconscious and oblivious to everything that had happened to her daughter since that fateful phone call. The closest thing he'd ever had to a brother—Jace stopped thinking again.
He walked faster along the dark damp street, clutching the long black coat tighter around himself. He'd already tried Simon's house, Simon and Maia told him to try Luke's. Luke answered the door, and a genuine look of shock crossed his face when he saw Jace standing there.
"Um, yeah." Jace said, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "I need to speak to her, I've gotta—" His voice broke then. "Is she here?"
"No," Luke answered quickly and honestly. "She left a while ago, after she heard things had finished up there."
Jace looked down and swallowed.
"Are you alright, Jace?" Luke started. "I know this must be har—"
Jace nodded quickly. "I'm fine. Thank you." And then he turned and started away, with nowhere left to look, he headed back to the Institute. Perhaps she'd try to contact him there.
It was dark when he entered. Dark and quiet. The only family he'd ever known was still in Idris...still coping. The last place he wanted to be was alone in that building, but there was nowhere else to go. He dropped the bag he'd had slug across his back and started walking. There was too much here to remind him of the things he wanted to forget...he hunted for a sanctuary and didn't find it until he'd gone as high as he could.
He pushed past the doors and entered the greenhouse. A quiet place that held very little memory of others...just him. The moonlight that had finally fought its way through the thick clouds filtered down through the glass ceiling in dusty dim rays. His eyes took in the room slowly. The overwhelming scent of moist soil invaded, it swirled in the over-warm air with the sweet aroma of budding flowers. Large plants hung over their homes in a waterfall of rolling green leaves, dotted with shocks of color made vibrant in the dark by the shimmering moonlight.
This place always held such a peace for him; a place to be safe from thought so that he could think. It was what he needed. Clarity.
He took several more steps before he finally saw her. She stood across the room with her back to him. The silver light glinted off her hair and he suddenly couldn't move or speak or breathe.
Of course, he thought. Of course she's here.
She turned then and met his eyes. Her face was wet...she'd been crying. She clutched in her hands the remains of a flower that she'd been worrying between her fingers. Her bottom lip was drawn in tightly between her teeth. When she released it and swallowed hard and awkward he could see that it was red and swollen.
He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out, so he closed it again quickly, pressing his lips together in a tight white line. Breath came in unsteady gasps though his nose, and he couldn't decide what he wanted to feel...couldn't figure out what it was that he was feeling.
"Jace." She whispered, and that was it. That was all she said, but it was enough. That one word was so full of meaning that it was all he needed to hear.
Jace nodded and she started toward him slowly. He still couldn't find the will to move. She stopped about six inches from him, close enough that he could feel the extra warmth rolling off her body. Her eyes held something that he'd not seen there before...not ever. He didn't know what to call it; couldn't name it. It wasn't pain or anguish, but it wasn't exactly hope or joy either. It was wonder? It was almost like she couldn't quite believe.
He tried speaking again. "C—Clary." She bit her lip once more and he watched another tear spill over and begin down her cheek when she let her eyelids fall closed. He reached out and caught the tear with the side of his pinky. He examined it for a moment before bringing his finger to his mouth and licking it off. The salt he tasted on his tongue was neither bitter nor sweet; it was not laced with agony like the tears he'd been crying over the last several days. No, this tear wasn't shed in pain...it was relief.
There was a sound from him then, not a moan or a whine exactly, but a sound lost somewhere between the two. She opened her eyes, and there—underneath her long lashes—was finally something familiar. Something he'd seen before. Something he could recognize because he'd also felt it before...was feeling it right then. It was heat and desire...not diluted or tainted by all that had happened, but rather intensified and heightened by time.
He lifted his hand again and brushed the backs of his fingers carefully across her warm cheek. Her eyes closed and he let his fingers continue into her hair. She leaned her head into his hand and sighed as he brought his other hand up and cupped her opposite cheek.
Truth. It was truth. And he held it in his hands.
Slowly...slow enough that if this really was just a dream he would surely wake up before it happened, he leaned down. Eyes closed, he stopped when the tip of his nose touched hers and just breathed for a second. Then he ran his nose up the bridge of hers until it rested low on her forehead, he let his lips brush her button nose. Higher, he kissed first one closed eyelid and then the other.
Her arms went around him; clutching tight to whatever she could get a hold of. Up even father, he kissed her forehead and then her hairline. His breathing was even more erratic now, and he could feel her chest heaving unevenly against his own. Enough.
He pulled back far enough to look at her face one last time before he claimed her lips with his own. Soft and sweet, a whimper escaped her and he drowned it with another kiss. So slowly, he caught her lips again and again, convincing her of this new reality until she began to respond.
Her hands fisted around his shirt and his wound in her hair. Electricity sparked in the air around them, fueling the need. Jace could still taste the salt from her tears, could still feel the wet on her cheeks. She was still crying.
He pulled back without letting go and studied her face. She was so close he could only focus on one thing at a time. Her lips, swollen and red and completely inviting...her eyes bright and hooded with desire. There were still tears falling from her eyes, they made lazy glistening trails over her cheeks. He knew why she was crying...knew why she couldn't hold it in...knew why the emotion had to have an outlet. He felt it to; exactly the same. Every emotion and longing conflicted with itself. He wanted to kiss her; but he needed to look at her, study her, memorize this new Clary that he was allowed to touch and love. Believing in the reality clutching him so tightly fought with every painful reason he couldn't allow himself to touch her before. Time wasted taunted a long and happy life ahead. Anguish and joy danced together in his heart, slow and cadenced. It was too much and not enough all at the same time.
Another tear sparkling in the dim light caught his eye and, without thinking, he caught it quickly with his tongue. Her cheek was hot and bright with color. He groaned and his eyes fell closed once more. She took his lips this time. She was up on the tips of her toes, her lips moving against his hard and urgent. He found himself moving backwards until there was something solid behind him.
A deep breath filled his lungs and then nothing else mattered. He kissed her back, begging for entrance and a chance to deepen their kiss for the first time ever. She didn't fight him, giving in to that heaven willingly. The first time his tongue brushed against hers he felt her legs give out underneath her and he spun her around, using the wall that had been behind him to help hold her up. He hooked his hands under her shirt, and flattened them on her back; palms against satin.
She broke the kiss and tilted her head, pressing her lips under his jaw and it was his turn to lose stability in his knees. He moaned and was sure he felt her lips curl up into a smile against his neck.
Her grip on him loosened and she began disentangling herself from his embrace. Jace took a step back, still unwilling to take his hands from her. Both struggled to gain control of their breathing. Once again, they simply looked...watched...studied. Green and gold meeting in some strange new dialect that didn't require and sound at all.
Understanding and hope and recognition passed in mere seconds. This was it. Everything had been wrong. Everything...buried under layers of lies. It would take a long, long time to uncover it all; to discover what each tarnished piece of truth meant. Jace pulled her into his arms and just held her there...the only truth that mattered in that moment was that they had a lifetime to figure it all out.