Thanks for your reviews! This chapter is dedicated to getting Jace's shirt off. Enjoy!
Cassandra Clare owns these characters -- I just help them torment each other :-D
Music: "Australia" by The Shins
(Sorry for spamming you folks with reader alerts. My computer is irritable...)
Clary opened her eyes to a slice of blue sky peeping out from behind her window shade.
Saturday. Clary smiled. Finally. Maybe she could get a few hours with Jace, alone. She stretched her arms above her head.
"Ugggh…." she groaned, each muscle in her body screaming with stiffness. She buried her head back in her pillow. In her mind's eye, she saw two rippled lines bisected by a horizontal line. Fluidity. Like water. Her hand itched to mark her aching muscles.
But the accursed rune on her right forearm would make it so not worth the effort. The wheeled rune encircled only the most basic of runes approved by the Council for her use. If she tried anything outside the wheel, it would feel like she was carving herself with a knife.
Clary sighed. She would have to make do with a healing rune.
The clanking noises from the kitchen indicated that breakfast was afoot. And with Amatis, this might actually be true—one particularly memorable meal crawled off her plate and hid under her napkin. She made excuses to eat with the Lightwoods as much as possible after that incident.
Clary dressed quietly and stealthily pulled on some sneakers. Staying out of sight, she crept out of her room to the kitchen door. Breakfast definitely looked questionable. Vaguely…oatmeal-ish. For a brief moment, Clary thanked the Council for letting her use speed runes.
Making her move, Clary sprang into the kitchen, shouting, "GoingtoseeJaceseeyoutonight!" She blurred past a surprised Amatis, out the door, and into the morning sunshine.
Of course, Clary appreciated Amatis. She just didn't know if Isabelle or Amatis was going cause her a painful death by poisoning.
Amatis kindly offered to take care of Clary during her preliminary studies in Idris while Jocelyn and Luke went back to New York. After her work was finished, Clary was supposed to pick up her studies at the Institute, but of course she went and royally screwed things up. Now the length of Clary's stay hinged upon the despicable Greentree.
Clary was moving so fast on her escape mission that she almost knocked over Jace, who was walking up the path to the house.
"Quick!" Clary hissed, catching his hand. "Breakfast! Run!"
Grinning mischievously, Jace pulled her to a halt, put an arm around her shoulder, and turned her back to the door. "Amatis made us breakfa…?"
Clary clamped her hand over his mouth. "Back away from the door or I will turn you into toast," Clary threatened through clenched teeth.
Jace smiled into her hand. "I am highly edible," he mumbled. His warm breath tickled her fingers.
Clary suppressed a groan. How could someone supposedly so angelic be so diabolical? "Fine. You stay here and enjoy your breakfast." Clary grinned and dashed off into the town, leaving Jace standing dumbfounded in front of the house.
Laughing, Clary shouted over her shoulder, "Or catch me if you can!"
"You had to know that would end badly." Jace was smiling, and plucking bits of green grass from Clary's hair.
"I thought it went pretty well myself," Clary grumbled. Clary lay with her head on Jace's stomach, and squinted up at the sky as she listened to the rise and fall of his chest.
The chase took them all over the northwestern edge of Idris—through backyards, into chicken coups, over rooftops—and ended with Jace tackling her in a pile of drying laundry. They sprinted away just as a disgruntled homeowner discovered her socks and nightclothes scattered all over the yard.
"For your sake, I hope no one recognized you." Jace gently traced the rune in the crook of her right arm.
Clary sighed. She turned onto her side and looked into his golden eyes. "Do you think these restrictions be over soon?" she asked wistfully. "I mean, I would be learning ten times as much if I were training with you at the Institute."
Jace returned her gaze, looking thoughtful. "I don't know. It's unusual that they would go to such an extreme for a minor case of insubordination. It's unprecedented, actually, as far as I'm aware."
Rolling over and cradling her head in his arms, he looked down into her eyes. "You know what I think?" He began tracing a line under her cheekbone. "I think they're concerned that you're more powerful than anything human they've ever seen before," he mused. "They want you under their control. And they're going to fetter you until they're sure you're not a threat."
Clary scowled, burying her face in his stomach, breathing in the scent of his clothes and skin. "But I'm no use like this! I'm not learning anything! At this rate, I'm on track to becoming some kind of Nephilim lawyer, and I don't think you even have those…"
"All the same. They want you under their thumb. I was worried about this when I tried to keep you from coming to Idris in the first place." Clary felt the rumble of his laugh on her face. "But don't write off your future as a historian. The annuls of the Nephilim are extensive and cover an exquisite tapestry of mmphm mmph..."
Clary shoved Jace's face into the grass, and grabbed her stele. "If I hear one more thing related to Greentree coming from you, I will cut you. You will be as quiet as the Silent Brothers—got it?"
Laughing, Jace quickly unarmed her and pinned her up to his chest with her arms behind her back. Her pulse quickened, but it was lost in the sensation of Jace's heart thundering against her own. "The first thing I'll teach you when we're back in New York is how to break out of a defensive hold."
He tilted his head, his glinting eyes considering his captive. "Or on second thought, maybe not." He kissed her lightly.
Smiling in spite of herself, Clary rotated her shoulder into his chest, leveraging her body away from his so she could break free. The force of it knocked some of the breath out of Jace's chest in a whoosh, who quickly immobilized her again.
Jace laughed. "Not bad, shorty, but not good enough. Who taught you that?"
"WrestleMania VIII. Macho Man Randy Savage versus Hulk Hogan."
"An elite force of fighters who look almost as good in spandex as Shadowhunters."
"What?" Jace looked perplexed.
"Nevermind," Clary shook her head. "You and I have a date with Netflix the second we set foot in New York."
Jace grinned, "Are you asking me out?"
"More like I'm asking you in," she said absentmindedly, now picking at the grass. Jace looked even more puzzled.
Clary pulled up so she could trace the scars on his arms, and quietly changed the topic. "So you're leaving again tonight?" Her fingers continued up his arm to one of the black runes on his bicep and traced the pattern.
Jace's eyes softened. "Yes, but we shouldn't be long. I'll be back before you can miss me."
"Fat chance," Clary muttered under her breath. She hated being left behind. Shouldn't she be able to protect the people she loved?
Suddenly an idea blossomed in Clary's mind. The thought made her breath catch. She looked back at Jace and asked, "But can I help you get ready?"
Jace looked confused. "How do you mean?" Then his eyes flashed. "Are you going to dress me? Those pants are awful tight."
"No!" Clary blushed. "I mean, as appealing as that is…" I'll burn your clothes before I let you out of the house. "…I wanted to help you with your runes," she recovered quickly.
"You want to mark me?" Jace looked concerned. "But the Council…"
"Said I couldn't mark myself. I'm thoroughly familiar with Article 4, Section 9, which states that the Confinement rune only applies to marks on one's own skin…"
"Okay, okay," he said, catching her hand and bringing to his lips, "but only if you promise not to maim me, love."
Satisfied, Clary grinned back. She liked it when he called her that. Or maybe she loved it. Whatever.
Picking up her stele, Clary eyed his skin like a blank canvas. Where to begin?
"Shirt off," she commanded imperiously.
Smiling wickedly and without breaking eye contact, Jace lifted his shirt over his head, and discarded it on the grass next to him. Clary stared at him, stunned. Oh God, what had she just gotten herself into?
Jace's voice interrupted her ogling. "Your burning stare isn't making much progress. Perhaps this would help?" He held up the stele that had fallen from her hand.
Clary snatched back the stele with a scowl, and tried to focus her mind on the task at hand.
Clary couldn't think of a time when she wasn't creating art. Sketchbooks, walls, sidewalks, even her own windows had fallen prey to her ravenous pencils and paintbrushes. But she'd never drawn on another person…unless she counted the time when she gave Simon a makeover.
Clary silently chuckled to herself at the memory. Jace looked nothing like a ten-year-old Simon in eyeshadow and lipstick. Jace was, well, God, Jace.
And almost without thinking, she began to draw.
Her runes burned black across his golden chest, down his muscular forearms, and over his graceful hands. He lay unmoving until she traced down to his stomach, which flinched when her stele brushed just above his navel. The runes circled and crossed, with vertical lines slashing, circles encompassing, all burning together across his skin.
Almost in a trance, she followed the curve of each muscle and the flat of each plane on his chest. She didn't notice the quickness of her breath, or the nearness of Jace's hand until it was cupping her face, pulling it to his. His golden eyes were dark, and he was breathing unevenly. His eyes searched her for a long moment, and then he drew a quick breath and kissed her.
Clary gasped as their lips touched, because she could see it—the light radiating from Jace, the sun's brilliance, and her own light blinding herself. She could taste it—the gold of Jace's skin, the tang of the grass, the crispness of the breeze. Every nerve in her body sang with the thrum of his heart and the hum of the afternoon.
And as suddenly as the kiss began, they exploded apart. Gasping for breath with his hands on his knees, Jace shook his head as if to clear it. "Wha… Clary what was that? And why are you glowing? Why is…oh Angel." Jace looked around in wonder with wide eyes.
Breathless, Clary shook her head and tried to calm her thundering heart. "I… I don't know. I just started marking you and…" Her eyes fell onto his chest. "And…Holy Moses."
"What?" Jace looked around, and finally at himself with a shocked expression. "I don't understand. They're normally black. Why are they silver? And this one golden?" His hands came up to a star encircled by an eye-shaped rune over his heart.
"Angel," Clary whispered, her breath slowing.
Jace's eyebrows shot up. "An Angel's rune? Not meant for Nephilim?"
"No," Clary shook her head. "It's one that only Angels can bear to wear."
Jace looked astounded. "That could have killed me, or maybe turned me into a Forsaken Nephilim. I should be mad, but by the Angel, look at it." His eyes swept the hillside. "It's like the world is on fire. And look at you." His eyes returned to hers, ablaze in wonder.
"It will let you see as the Angels see," she said quietly, dropping her eyes back to his chest. "They all look black to me, except this one." Her hand traced the star within the golden iris. "Sight."
Jace looked at her as if he were seeing her for the first time. "Clary, I can barely stand to look at you, you're so bright. And Angel, so beautiful." He stroked her hair with such tenderness, as if she were fragile. The complete openness of his expression made Clary's heart race, but also set her nerves on edge. What had she done to him?
Trying to hide her concern, she stood up and pulled Jace to his feet. "Okay loverboy, we need to get you back to Alec and Isabelle before sundown. You have demons to hunt, remember?" She waved a hand in front of his face to get his attention.
To her surprise, Jace smiled good-naturedly and said, "Of course, that sounds like a good idea."
Clary's mouth fell open. Since when was Jace polite? Did she cause brain damage?
Concerned, she held up her hand in front of Jace's face. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Four fingers and one thumb." Jace looked amused.
"What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
"Good. I haven't made you omniscient." Clary breathed a sigh of relief.
Jace just smiled at her and took her hand. "Whatever you say."
Clary looked at him sideways. Jace was surprisingly pleasant when he was agreeable. She could get used to this. "If the Angel's vision gives you the Angel's tongue, I may keep you tatted up."
The wicked gleam flashed back into Jace's eyes. "If it's the Angel's tongue you want…"
Clary groaned and rolled her eyes. "I spoke too soon. Let's go."
I thought it would be awesome if Clary used Jace as a human canvas, so there it is. I hope you enjoyed :-).
Kudos to you folks who caught the Holy Grail and Better Off Dead references. Thanks for your reviews!