On her way to her room, Clary allowed her mind to wander far away, away from Jace and Gavin and all her stupid problems. Her eyes were focused on the floor, watching her feet step then pick up then step again. She was walking faster then she normally did and she didn't know whether to base it on excitement or fear of being followed. However, Clary decided on excitement of seeing her mother. She grinned a bit. The look on Luca's face when he was telling her the wonderful news popped into her thoughts, replacing the bad ones. But, sadly, that only lasted for a few seconds.
The way Jace had felt when she threw herself against him was magnificent. He had been so very warm and strong and firm, as reassuringly comforting as he had been earlier with Gavin. She loved it when he held her. Jace was able to make Clary forget the pain, the loneliness that ached in her chest every day and swap it with tenderness. The tiny grin that was playing along her lips widened.
Clary mentally shook her head and froze, her feet unmoving. Why was she allowing herself to feel this? She was going away for weeks, months to go find her mother. Her main focus should be on saving her, on making her family whole again with Luke. It shouldn't be on Jace and what they couldn't pursue. Clary stumbled to lean her weight against the wall, taking deep breaths as the pain in her chest had returned, sharper than before.
How come that felt like the last time I'll see him, the last time I'll touch him? And what is the deal with this pain? It's not like…
But it felt like it. Clary sighed loudly, irritated, and squeezed her eyes tightly shut. He felt closer to her heart than what she needed. In a way, it was certainly what she wanted. But it hurt too much especially with her leaving. It was just too much.
She felt sick as tears stung the back of her eyes and her throat felt tight making her breath come out in shallow gasps. "Stupid Jace," Clary whispered to herself.
She wanted to move her legs, to move from the open hallway and into the security of her own room, but she was stuck. There was no need for her to be so upset over something that was so trivial. But it wasn't to her. She had to deal with the loss of Gavin and the sudden replacement of Jace. Then there was her leaving with Luke to help her mom, to finally be reunited. It was almost too much.
Clary wanted to make herself believe that it was all that that was bringing her pain, all of those situations which were mixing up her emotions. However, there was only one thing needed, one name that popped up into her thoughts that would bring her so much hurt. Jace. She felt selfish, for a reason that seemed obvious to her.
"Hey, Clary, shouldn't you be packing?" Isabelle's voice was soft behind her, but it made Clary jump just the same.
Surprised that her legs actually were working, Clary turned around and attempted a pathetic smile, very happy that she hadn't let her tears escape her eyes. "Oh, uh, I'm just really tired."
"And decided to take a nap on the wall?" Isabelle crossed her arms, staring incredulously at Clary. "What's up? You were so excited to go when Luke told you. I thought you'd be hopping to your room and be done packing by now."
Clary refused to look at the floor in embarrassment and stood her ground. "Yeah, I just got sidetracked."
Not seeming to believe the bullshit that was coming out of Clary's mouth, Isabelle cocked an eyebrow skeptically. "What distracted you?"
"Nothing, I was just thinking," Clary responded too quickly. "Anyways, I'm going to pack."
Hoping that Isabelle would just drop it, Clary turned on her heel and basically jogged to her room. Although, sadly, this didn't stop Isabelle from yelling, "Were you thinking about Jace?!"
Clary slammed her door shut just as her cheeks and neck started to burn red. I really hope—for all that is living on God's green earth—that Jace did not hear that, Clary thought.
She leaned against the door for a while in silence, listening for any indication that someone heard Isabelle's outburst. And Clary knew that Isabelle did that on purpose. Isabelle didn't seem like the kind of person to care about subtly, especially in Clary's case since she could get such an easy reaction out of her. Oh, Clary hated how easily it was for Isabelle.
After 10 minutes of utter quiet, Clary felt it was safe to move from the door and grab her suitcase to start packing. She had only placed her suitcase on her bed when there was a knock at her door. Without looking up, Clary froze completely, as still as she was when she was leaning against the door.
Crap, I should've stayed there longer!
Clary mentally crossed her fingers in hopes that the person would assume she wasn't in her room and just leave. But Clary had no such luck as there was a louder, more persistent knock at the door this time. She squeezed her fingers tight against her palms and slowly made her way to the door, not wanting to open it.
"Clary, geez, open up!"
With a loud sigh of relief, not realizing how hard her heart was beating, Clary moved quicker and swung the door open only to see Luke standing there.
"What took you so long?" He asked, a bit irked by her lack of reaction to his knocking.
She just shook her head in response to his question and leveled her eyes with his, forcing her breath to slow down. "What do you need?"
Luke stared at her a moment, the same way that Isabelle did. "You okay?"
How did everyone know that she was upset? Clearly, she needed to work on hiding her emotions better, even though she thought that she had been doing a pretty good job of that thus far. But there was no way that she could open up to Luke about Jace. If she couldn't talk to Isabelle about it—this thought made her quiet depressed—then how would Luke help?
"I guess I'm just nervous about the flight," Clary lied. "You know, up in the air. High up."
Without a word, he continued to stare at her.
Feeling under pressure and edgy, she made a motion with her hands of a plane plummeting to the ground and exploding. Clary even made the noises of an airplane blowing up to express her mental image better. She then folded her hands in front of her, cleared her throat awkwardly and looked at the ground.
"Yeah, sure," Luke muttered. "Anyways, I just, uh, came over here to tell you that we're not going to be able to catch the afternoon flight. I have to go downtown for a few hours and get some equipment."
Clary slowly met Luke's stare. "What for?"
"Oh, just in case we run into some minor problems while we're away."
Since we're very likely to meet a lot of people who very much enjoy killing us, Clary completed Luke's unfinished sentence in her mind. She nodded briefly and waited for him to continue.
"So, uh, yeah," he nodded and shrugged. "I'll call you when I get back."
"All right," Clary said, attempting to grin at him, but failing pathetically. This was the first time in so long that Clary had felt self conscious around Luke and she knew he felt it too.
Luke raised a hand and waved it slightly to the side as a goodbye. Stupidly, Clary nodded her farewell and closed the door as soon as he left the doorway. Again, she leaned on it in exhaustion, her emotions making her feel weak and tired. Although, instead of concentrating on all of the crap, she decided to shake it off, clear her head and focus on what needed to be done.
Clary pushed herself off the door and worked her way around her room, slowly and calmly as though showing herself that she could be relaxed. She packed smart; not very many articles of clothing and light on the toiletries. She didn't need anything else really. Clary wasn't the kind of person who much cared for having the best fashion or even wearing the same outfit twice. This amount that she packed would last her for at 3 or 4 weeks, as long as she could wash her clothes. If she needed more, she could go to a thrift store and buy some cheap clothes.
Once her suitcase was officially zipped up, she placed it on the floor and threw herself onto the bed, bouncing once from the impact. She pressed her face into the pillow and sighed loudly, her arms hanging limply off the bed. This was definitely not one of her good days. She was so emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted that she felt like her head was going to pop. This is so not a state that I want to be at before I get on a plane, she thought as she turned her head to the side and curled up in a tight ball. She closed her eyes and let her mind drift into a quiet, relieving darkness.
When Clary blinked her eyes open, she exhaled happily and was able to smile genuinely. A nap seemed to be what she needed as her head was clear, her body didn't ache and neither did her heart. And she didn't let her thoughts go back to what she was thinking about before she fell asleep.
There was a very loud knock at her door then. "Clary, can I talk to you for a sec?"
Well that lasted a good, solid 10 seconds.
"Yeah, sure." Clary announced weakly while sitting up and rubbing at her eyes. She yawned big and long, stretching her arms above her head and squeezing her eye shut. She dropped her hands onto her folded legs and groggily opened her eyes to see Jace standing in front of her bed watching her.
Not expecting to see him standing there, Clary jumped then slowly blew out her breath.
"Were you sleeping?" Jace asked lazily and without much care.
"Just a nap," Clary mumbled then decided to get right to it. "So, what's up?"
Jace rocked back on his heels and shoved his hands into his pockets, signifying how uncomfortable he was. He definitely had trouble saying what needed to be said as he busied himself with scratching his head or looking behind him. He seemed to be set on doing anything besides looking straight at her.
Clary looked at her watch-less wrist and pretended to care what time it was, though she probably should as Luke might be back soon. "What is it, Jace?"
"Well, you know, if you have something to do…" Jace said and turned to leave.
Clary just crossed her arms, irritated by his sarcasm and raised an eyebrow. Jace put a hand on the doorknob, froze and then turned around with a cocky smile on his lips. Though, his grin quickly faded away when he saw the annoyed expression on her face. He cleared his throat awkwardly and faced his body towards her again, but he made sure to keep his eyes on hers.
"Are you excited to go shopping?" Jace said seriously with a sarcastic tone—somehow. "You know, I hear there are lots of good stores over there. Some Gucci would be fabulous with your skin tone. And speaking of skin tone, you might get a really good tan."
"Jace," Clary barked firmly.
That shut up his mocking and turned his features serious. He took a step closer to the edge of her bed and braced both arms on the end bed frame. Clary hated to notice, especially when she was trying to stay irritated at him, but the muscles in his arms flexed when he leaned his weight on them. They were quite nice, she had to admit. She could imagine being wrapped in them, but wouldn't let herself think about that right now.
"Okay, fine," Jace mumbled, more to himself than to Clary. But he still didn't say anything. He didn't explain what was wrong or why he was in her room. And it made her more frustrated. However, she allowed him time because she knew how hard this was for him. She knew him well enough to know that he hated this kind of confrontation without the usual sarcasm.
"I don't want you to go," he muttered, staring intensely into her eyes.
"Jace, I know, but—"
"No, let me finish," Jace put up a hand, interrupting me. I sealed my lips as he put his hand back on the bed frame and listened. "I don't want you to go because I don't want you to leave. I want you stay here."
Clary's mouth opened in speechlessness. His eyes were so passionate and his voice was so quiet, she wasn't expecting at all. Jace sighed loudly and dropped his head so all she could see was his beautiful wavy hair hanging in his face.
"With me," he mumbled under his breath. Then he lifted his head slowly and took a deep, cleansing breath and spoke louder. "I want you stay with me."
"Jace…" Clary whispered as her eyes gazed into his. She pushed herself onto her knees and shuffled to the end of the bed, closer to him. He just watched her, his blank expression unchanging and his body completely still. When she reached him, she slid her hands onto his cheeks and her fingertips just brushing his hairline.
Their eyes were locked together, so many emotions sent between their stares and no words needed to be spoken. After long moments passed, Jace moved his arms and stood up tall as Clary got her desire and he wrapped his arms around her. He hugged her close to him, slowly as though she would break if he tugged her quickly. They rested their foreheads against each others and Jace sighed as his eyes fell closed.
"See, why can't it just stay like this?" Jace asked quieter than a whisper. Clary would never expect Jace to say anything like that and it touched her heart that he'd say it to her.
Then, she felt this sudden jolt of realism and moral logic. She knew what she had to say and she knew that Jace wouldn't like it. Clary grinned stupidly. "I love you."
Jace became absolutely still and Clary was sure that he had passed out standing up. And since she knew that there was no way he could speak at the moment, she continued.
"I love you, but I have to go, Jace. I love you, I do and we can't be together."
Finally, he moved. Jace pulled away from her and gaped at her, confused and hurt. But he composed himself quickly, not liking his own vulnerability. He attempted at a carless grin and raised a shoulder. "I don't get it."
"I need to go with Luke," Clary said determinedly. "I'm going to be gone for a long time and that'll give you and me some time to think. Plus, I need some time to revamp. What happened with Gavin… well, it hurt. There has to be a time gap for me to get over him."
Jace swallowed hard, speechless.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as her smart 'words of wisdom' suddenly vanished and her quirky smile fell.
Clary's phone suddenly rang very loudly by her pillow, making her jump. Jace gradually let her go and she fell away from him onto her bed to pick up her phone.
"Hey," she said.
"Hi, are you ready to go?" Luke asked.
"Yeah, I am," she answered and looked up at Jace.
"Well, I'm in the kitchen just grabbing a quick bite. So you have five minutes to re-check if you have everything, alright?"
Clary nodded and said, "Okay, I'll be out in a minute."
She snapped her phone shut and put it back down beside her, her eyes glued to his. Jace walked over to the side of her bed and sat down. And that was it for a few minutes. There was no talking, no touching, nothing.
"I know you have to go," Jace said. "But do you have to?"
Clary laughed and grabbed his hand. "Yes, Jace. I still have to go."
"Doesn't mean I have to like it," Jace said grinning at her and squeezing her hand. At that second, it felt like everything would work out and be okay. She felt normal and happy with him. But, just as before, his smile dropped as quickly as it appeared and the happy feeling she had was gone. "But I can't say it back to you."
Clary's eyebrows furrowed and her hold on his hand loosened a bit. "What do you mean?"
"You're leaving, Clary. That has definitely been established." Jace scoffed. "And me saying my feelings to you wouldn't help."
Tears stung the back of Clary's eyes as misunderstanding took over her and she pulled her hand completely away. "Oh, it's okay. I get it."
"No, no you don't," he said and snatched her hand back. "Clary, if I say it, it'll be too painful. For both of us. And who knows how long you'll be gone."
That didn't exactly help with her wanting to cry and all.
"Who knows," Jace muttered. "You might find another guy while you're gone. You might just forget about me and be happy."
Clary glared at him. "What the hell are you saying, Jace? Don't make me leave angry at you."
"I'm just being realistic."
"No, you're being stupid. What kind of a goodbye is this? Here I'm pouring my heart out and trying to be honest with you and you're throwing it back in my face."
"Don't get mad—"
"Well, too late! I am," Clary stood up so that she was towering over him and trying to get away from him before she punched him in the face. Though, that could help with the amount of frustration she had. "I can't believe this, Jace. Of course I'm not going to forget you. I just thought you'd understand that I'm going to help my mother and not going for selfish reasons like finding a new guy!"
She picked up her suitcase, jacket and phone then stood straight in front of him feeling very flustered. "This is definitely not the send-off I was expecting. But I guess this is what you were expecting, weren't you?"
Jace didn't say anything. He just stared at her, hurt in his eyes, but his face expressionless. He shouldn't have said something to make it better between them, but he just wanted her to be happy. How this was leaving her happy, he didn't know.
"Do you have anything to say?" She asked with her arms tight by her side.
"I hope you have a good trip," Jace said, with total honesty.
Clary's fists clenched and a tear trailed down her cheek in hot anger. "Goodbye, Jace."
Then Clary, with bag in hand and pain tightening at her heart, left Jace alone.
Jace could hear her footsteps echo down the hall, farther and farther away from him. He then realized that that was the last time he'd see her for months. And there would hardly be a point in contacting her as he knew that she'd ignore his calls. But this was for the best. He had to remember that.
"I love you," he whispered and felt like an idiot. How hard was that? Why did he have to be so stubborn as to not make her truly happy and say it? Because, he had decided that it would've been too painful for the both of them. He certainly didn't want her to get distracted while she was supposed to be focused on helping her mother. She was the kind of person to put something out of her mind easily. Or at least pretend like it. And he knew that she would put Jace out of her mind.
I purposefully made this longer than usual since this is a type of special occasion. And I know that this definitely was not the ending some of you were hoping for, but I am not one for a beautiful, happily ever after ending. Blah, that is completely the opposite of my choice of style. So, my apologies for those who are not satisfied, but this is how I wanted it to end. And, yes, my readers were in mind while I was finishing this.
But, yes, thank you very much, avid reader(s), for sticking with me along this crazy imagination story. I appreciate every comment, every thought and would've quit long ago if it weren't for all the sincere words. Thank you again, so very much and I'll miss these characters greatly.
"Ends and beginnings -- there are no such things. There are only middles." –Robert Frost