CITY OF INK
DISCLAIMER: I am not Cassandra Clare. I'm making no money off this. Obviously.
SUMMARY: Post-COG. To keep her health issues a secret from Jace, Clary takes a vow of celibacy. But how long will she last, and how far will Jace go to protect her? Sex talks with Alec, Magnus wears white, & Izzy falls in love... again. Jace/Clary, all canon pairings. Rated M later on, if continued.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is just something that came to thought after reading City of Glass (in one night, mind you). I thought I'd write it down while all the details from the original were fresh in my mind. Also, this story now has an official playlist. The link is on my profile and it will be updated as chapters develop.
This chapter's song: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
CHAPTER ONE: The Birds and the Bees with Alec Lightwood
The view from Clary's room at the Institute wasn't much during mid-day when the hot summer sun came down upon the gritty city, illuminating every filthy alleyway and rusted old bridge. But, the light was perfect for drawing and these days, that's all she ever cared to do. Her mother had suggested she finally take those weekend art classes she'd been dying to get and – much to Jace's annoyance – spent most of her afternoons drawing by her window.
Ever since they returned from the Glass City, they'd fallen into a comfortable, silent rhythm. They'd all eat breakfast together, train, and go hunt. When they came back home for lunch, Clary would skip the bad take-out and sit by the window with her sketchbook. Jace would come into her room unannounced, no flashy entrances or witty remarks, and lie down on the bed. Whenever she turned to him, he seemed to be patiently napping but she could feel his eyes on her. Always.
Her favorite time of the day came after the sun started to flicker away beneath the clouds and she shut her sketchbook. Before the pages could finish fluttering closed in the light breeze, Jace was already smirking, anticipating what was to come. He didn't have to move from the bed. She'd come to him – no hurry in her step – and lie down on her side.
Then, each day was different. When they'd first come back, these were some of the few moments they had to be a normal teenage couple and make out on the bed. Now that the days' activities were getting busier, she settled for running her hands through his hair as he slept, too tired for much else. Sometimes, she fell asleep beside him, her arm across his waist as if making sure he didn't fly away.
But, the silence was starting to get to her.
Sometimes days went by and nobody spoke in the house, not since Max. Even Magnus had stopped coming by. Alec visited him instead and it seemed to suit them. Clary couldn't help but compare her relationship with Jace to theirs and feel something lacking. She longed for his snarky remarks and the constant feeling of impending doom. She longed for his touch and… him. It felt like she was kissing an empty shell. And while the smirks were there and the silence was comfortable, they were lacking in romance.
She stared down at her sketch of the Institute's gargoyles and grimaced, no longer satisfied with simply improving her skill. The sketch seemed pointless, irrelevant. She couldn't figure out what she was doing or why. Her mind was set to auto-pilot and she was starting to want the reins back. She knew it was wrong to choose a piece of paper over the boy she loved but she just couldn't bring herself to get up off the window sill.
"Jace?" she croaked towards the bed, biting her bottom lip anxiously.
"Uh huh," he moaned back. He was resting with his arms behind his head and his ankles crossed, his hair carelessly spread across her pillow. She thought he did it on purpose so his scent would linger and she'd fall asleep easier. There was no way Maryse was going to let him sleep over and had taken to locking the doors from outside at nights.
When she didn't continue, he reluctantly sat up on the bed so she had his full attention. He caught the way her hands shook around her pencil and the crease in his forehead returned. He still couldn't bring himself to leave the bed, even to comfort her. It was better if he kept his distance. He knew she was still reluctant to letting him touch her though neither was sure why.
"Clary? What is it?" he demanded in a firmer tone, about to set his foot on the floor. He was somewhat waiting for the day she realized she could do better. "You're scaring me."
She feigned a smile and shook her head, lifting her eyes from her gargoyle sketch long too briefly to count. She wasn't fooling anyone and she knew it. She didn't have the strength to properly fake anything.
"Would you like to go out to dinner tonight?" she deflected, finding the strength to put on a slightly more convincing smile.
He visibly relaxed. "Yeah, sure. I'll tell the others."
She scoffed and set the sketchpad down on the sill beside her. "No! I mean just us! We never go out anymore and—"
She stopped, her eyes meeting his. The smile was back, her favorite one. It crinkled up his angelic face and made her feel like he was undressing her with his mind. For all she knew, he was.
"What I meant was… I'll tell the others not to wait up." She shot him a look that said cocky bastard and went to reach for the sketchpad again. He dashed across the room and, before her fingers met paper, he was holding her in his arms. "Oh no," he said, the smile even brighter from up close. "I finally got you to set down that stupid book and I'm not giving you back. Consider yourself taken for the evening."
It was supposed to be sweet but there was hidden menace to his words as though he were threatening her with harm if she didn't come back to him. It wasn't impending doom but she liked it. She liked it when he claimed her as his own, especially now that everyone knew about them and there was no more hidden intrigue.
She reached up and brushed his hair back from his eyes. It was getting long but the planes of his face had changed over the summer. She wasn't sure if he was just getting older or if it was the same old face only she was allowed to look now, unashamed. She wished she had the courage to draw him but no pencil could capture what the curve of these lips did to her or the mystery of these angles she hadn't seen before.
She caved. "What are we doing then? Enlighten me, master."
He raised a devious eyebrow. That and the smile and Clary didn't stand a chance. If he'd asked her to fight down a Ravener demon with a swizzle stick, she would have said yes.
"You know, I could always ask Isabelle to lend us her new whip," he suggested, pulling her closer so his hip bones dug into waist.
"Aren't we confident?" She laughed and instinctively locked her wrists behind her neck. "It's cute how you think you'd be on top."
He sputtered dramatically as if offended but she just rolled her eyes and brought his lips down on hers. It wasn't the most passionate of kisses, mainly because she was trying to shut him up. She couldn't believe that after such an internal fuss about getting him back, she was now trying to preoccupy his tongue.
Someone cleared their throat from the open doorway (another of Maryse's rules for living under the same household) and Jace groaned against her lips, vibrating them pleasantly.
"What do you want?" he mumbled, hooking her leg up on his left hip bone. They gracefully fell back against the wall beside the window. The only part of Clary Alec could see was her leg up in the air. Everything else was swallowed up by Jace's frame. He cleared his throat louder. Clary moaned for the sake of the joke, deliriously happy to have his weight against her once more.
"For the love of God!" shouted Alec. "I could have been my mother at the door!"
Jace and Clary broke apart finally, chuckling as Clary straightened the hem of her shirt. Jace smoothed back his hair and confidently strolled across the room. "You're more like your mother every day, I always say. Down to the purple lipstick you've got smeared all over your neck."
Alec shot him a murderous look but checked in Clary's mirror nonetheless. "You're good," hissed Clary from across the room, still lingered against the wall so they couldn't see how tired the kiss had left her. "He was kidding."
"What'cha got for me, Alexander?" asked Jace, extending a hand out for Alec. It was a book he'd borrowed from Jace's bookshelf but everyone got the hint that he had something he wanted to say and needed an excuse to see them.
"War and Peace?" read Jace with rising levels of outrage in his voice. "Did you just pick this at random? Honestly man, you might as well have picked up the Encyclopedia of Mushrooms and Fungi. That at least has alternative recreational purposes."
"Buzz off, jackass. I need to speak to Clary."
Clary instantly stiffened and Jace looked back over his shoulder for any sign that she knew what it was about. Her face was as shocked as his. Alec never wanted to talk to Clary. As far as she knew, he would sooner throw her off the roof than ask for a private conference.
"I see…" said Jace, squinting. He raised his hands up in the air in surrender and started out the room. He spun around halfway there, suddenly remembering his date with Clary. "Oh! And I'll pick you up at six. Wear those jeans I like."
He shot her another devastating smile and closed the doors behind him. "I hate it when he does that," she whispered to no one in particular.
Alec nodded, understanding exactly what she meant. Suddenly realizing she was alone in her bedroom with Alec of all people, she politely gestured for him to sit on the bed while she retook the window sill.
"What's up?" His eyes seemed to linger on the wrinkled bed sheets. She didn't know why but she felt an intense need to explain. "Oh he was just taking a nap. We really were just joking."
"Oh," he replied, his voice dripping dull disappointment.
"Uh… Is there something I can help you with, Alec?"
He straightened up as if snapping out of a trance and took a moment to collect his thoughts before blatantly asking, "Have you screwed him yet?"
Clary's eyes shot wide open. "Excuse me?"
His voice shifted tones. Suddenly, he was diplomatic and formal, his eyes no longer wandering with his mind. "Sorry. That might have sounded wrong. Uhm… As you know, things are getting serious with Magnus and I needed someone to talk to about it but, well, I can't talk to Izzy about it because… she's Izzy. And I certainly can't talk to Jace about it, also for obvious reasons, so I figured you were the safest choice."
A slow smile spread on Clary's lips. "That's… actually kind of nice. You trust me. You trust me?"
He scoffed. "As far as I can throw you but I know you're definitely more discreet than the others."
She nodded. That much was true. She realized she had Isabelle to keep her secrets if need be but Alec was her brother. There was a certain biological urge to tease and blackmail that couldn't be suppressed. "You know, Jace is probably better at this than I am," she offered. "I mean, I don't mind talking but he does the whole seduction thing on instinct."
By his smirk, she knew he knew this was true. "I don't need any help seducing, Clary. I just want to talk about it like it's something casual and everyday and not one of the most important parts of my life."
She could hear the stress in his voice. His hands clenched the edge of the mattress firmly and she wished she could help him. "Okay! Sure!" she said with unnecessary enthusiasm. "Let's talk."
"So… have you two done it yet?"
She laughed, though it really wasn't funny. Casual. Everyday. Sure. She could do this! "Nope. Close. When we got back we made out a lot on my bed, but that was before your mother posted up her list of household etiquette and whatnot. Now, it's a miracle if we find the time or place to do what you saw today."
"Oh. Then I'm sorry I interrupted."
She shrugged but he really should be sorry. "I think we're turning into one of those domestic couples. I dunno. He doesn't even seem to want it."
He cocked an eyebrow. "He's a guy. Of course he wants it. Especially him. Do you?"
She gulped. She hadn't really thought about it. Certainly, she dreamed about his hands on her body, his lips and his weight atop her on the bed like before. But sex? She took a little too long to respond. He waited patiently as she stared – blank as a sheet of paper – at the door.
Her silence was all the answer he needed so she quickly changed the subject. "How about you two? Magnus obviously wants it."
Alec laughed, honestly and loudly. It just wasn't natural. "Gee, you think? I hadn't noticed. He's a little too obvious sometimes, if you know what I mean. Like, in public places. Remember two weeks ago when I was limping all over the place? Yea, that wasn't a wrestling match with a Forsaken. That was the back room at Pandemonium."
Clary was stifling giggles. She was sure she was supposed to be uncomfortable but she just found the whole thing hilarious. Not just the back room. The fact that Alec of all people needed to "talk."
Then, it hit her.
He didn't need to talk at all. She did. It'd been written all over her face the last month. Isabelle was too preoccupied with herself and Jace was too close to her to notice. Alec was always in the background, lurking and watching. Seeing their little performance and the wrinkled sheets and of course he thought it was about sex. Realization blossomed on her face and he got the hint that the jig was up.
"What's really bothering you?" he asked, leaning forward onto his knees. Now that the attention was off him, he relaxed. She smirked because he cared and, though a perplexing notion, it felt nice to have a legitimate brotherly figure watching out for her. Her last brotherly figure didn't turn out that brotherly.
She mimicked his stance and bit her lip. "Alec, what if one of you was sick? Where would you go?"
He was perfectly serious. She'd forgotten what it was like to talk to a person for longer than thirty seconds without making some sort of joke. "What kind of sick?"
"Can barely walk straight sick."
He shook his head. "We don't get that kind of sick. Usually we can heal everything up with a rune. Have you tried that?" She pulled up the sleeve of her left arm where she'd burned an Iratze into her skin over and over again. He flinched when he saw it. "Are you crazy? Why didn't you tell us sooner?"
"It's not working, Alec."
"Have you tried seeing a doctor?"
"In what time? When we're not fighting demons, Jace is always with me. The only time I'm alone is at art class but that's just an hour."
He covered his eyes with his palm. "Dammit. You're going to have to tell him, Clarissa."
She hated the way her name rolled off his tongue. She felt two years old again and terribly small. "He'll just freak out," she whispered, wringing her hands on her lap. "I figured it would go away but it hasn't."
He sighed and stood, a plan formulating in his head. "Look, it'll be six soon. Get dressed, cover up that monstrous scar, and I'll see about distracting him tomorrow. Maybe we can pretend we're going out for take-out and see if Magnus can tell us anything. I dunno. I'll think about it tonight."
"Thank you," she answered with certain finality, going to stand and lead him out.
"Have fun tonight, okay?" he whispered as she slowly closed the door behind him. The concern was burned into his forehead. She tried to smile, if only to ease him and make it less obvious to the others. "You can't let him suspect."
His final words clung to her mind. He was worried, yes, but she assumed he was more worried for Jace than her. She understood that losing her meant losing him and he wouldn't have that. They were all tied together. One family, a family that couldn't stand to lose another member.
The problem was that she had sparked something in him today. That kiss against the wall was too intense to ignore. She knew that if she went on this date, if she let him pick up where the kiss ended, he would surely find the scar on her arm. If she wanted to protect the family, she was going to have to keep Jace at bay and fully dressed.
She might as well try to disarm a bomb.
Might continue it. Might not. Up to you guys. Let me know if you like it. There just doesn't seem to be enough Mortal Instruments fanfiction out there!
Reviews are better than the back room at Pandemonium.