I'm sorry this is so late :s

Light me up a cigarette, and put it in my mouth

You're the only one who wants me around

And I can think of a thousand reasons why I don't believe in you

I don't believe in you and I

Go ahead and fill my drink up, you still be all I think of,

We try to stay afloat but know the weight'll sink us,

We celebrate in the sacrifices we had to make

We had to wait and prepare for the lost,

Over sold on the win and unaware of the cost

I guess you live and learn, learn when the love is gone

Now here we are again, back from our darkest end

We'll keep this happiness going as long as we pretend

It seems we built this from nothing but broken dreams

The champagne's on the dresser, empty from all my efforts

And I can think of a thousand reasons why, I don't believe in you and I

CPOV

The night was cold. It was quiet, dark, and colder than I have ever felt it before. My bones rattled beneath my skin, desperately trying to create their own heat, but it was useless. After that night, my life would eternally be consumed by the lick of frigid disposition.

My conversation with Raphael had given me quite a lot to think about, so much so that I realized I had been wandering the streets of Manhattan for about twenty minutes straight without even a cent of an idea of where I was. I figured I might as well sit down on a nearby bench, which is where I was then, huddled inside the expanse of Magnus' coat and slowly feeling my lips chap and freeze together with disuse.

Under the blank charcoal of the sky, with the wind whispering against my cheeks, everything became unnervingly clear to me. More so than anything has ever been clear in my life. I saw the haphazard lights of the apartments and hotels surrounding me come together in one grand puzzle, illuminating the way my life was going to go. I could picture it all in that moment, a sparkling backdrop against shattering glass. Though I found a sense of relief in my newly-discovered recourse in life, there was an odd bundling in my chest that tugged every now and again, reminding me of what I was going to have to sacrifice.

I licked my lips and pushed a strand of hair out of my face that had been tickling my nose for the past five minutes. I wished I had mittens; I couldn't feel my fingers anymore. Sighing out a plume of breath, I stood and started on my way back to Magnus' apartment. Since I had been out on my tea errand for an hour now, I was sure he was getting worried.

I was wrong, though. When I opened his unlocked apartment door, an apology already skirting my lips, I was welcomed with the obnoxious snores of Magnus, who was sprawled out awkwardly on the couch, one leg thrown over the back of it. Rolling my eyes, I shut the door as quietly as I could behind me and tiptoed my way to the kitchen. Despite not knowing him that well, my chest still constricted when I glanced at Magnus one last time. He had helped me beyond words, and I had no way to repay him.

Bowing my head, I ducked into the kitchen, pressing my back flat against one of the walls. Simon. There was a single light above where he laid on the island counter, dimmed so that the warm glow was just enough to see, but not enough to wake him. But it couldn't hide how bad he looked. Magnus had cut off his shirt, which was now laying in tatters on the floor, but he never cleaned up the blood that had been smeared all over his smooth chest—the counter, the floor—during the patchings performed on him. His lips, parted just slightly, were crinkled with dehydration, and his long, thick lashes were casting pin-needle shadows across his cheekbones.

As I stared at him, I realized this was the first time Simon had ever seemed fragile to me. Vulnerable, yes, but this was something entirely different. In a way, vulnerability made one seem stronger, for it takes real courage to expose that much of yourself on such a personal level. But there, he was actually weak for once. After all he had been through the past year, he finally looked breakable.

Something inside me stirred, propelling me forward until I stood at his side, his hand clasped gingerly in my warm grasp. He was as cold as a corpse; in fact, I would have thought he was if it weren't for the quick, shallow breaths puttering out of him. I pored over those same soft features that had been with me through every step in my life, big or small. There was no question that he loved me, and that he would care for me always. In that moment, I could envision a life with him. A parallel universe just like the dream I had forever ago: Simon and I, old and gray, sitting on the front porch of the house we'd had since we had first married, watching our grandkids roll around on the front lawn.

It was the ideal life most strove to have one day: a golden sliver of the American dream. But it wasn't mine to take. My life was too corrupt—I was too corrupt. It would be an awfully selfish thing to do to bring someone into my life knowing that my poison would one day seep deep, deep into their veins just as it had mine. No. If I truly loved Simon, I would leave him now, and allow for him to move on to a girl much sweeter than I. Only a girl pure as an angel would suit a person as selfless as Simon Lewis.

And I did love him. I realized it then, with the ache beneath my ribcage throbbing harder each second I forced myself to continue analyzing the situation. But it was a love that reached out only to a certain extent. I loved Simon as a man who had lost so much, yet has stayed by my side through it all, through both of our turmoil. I loved Simon as a best friend who would lend a hand to dust me off when I refused to dig myself out of the sand. I loved Simon as someone who I would always know and care for, but never fall in love with. I loved Simon—but I was not in love with him, as he was with me.

All of my joints seemed frozen to the point where I thought that if I moved one, they would all snap. Simon's hand was slick with sweat, as if he was fighting off the flu. I cringed, knowing that this was all my fault. If he had never loved me, if I had never let him get this close to me, he wouldn't be laying half-dead on the table like he was then. He'd be safe, happy.

A little voice nagged at the back of my mind, telling me that I was being ridiculous. When I had found Simon last week, he was living in the shadows of an alley, and all I did was try and give him a home. If only mine wasn't so poisonous. If only I had a father who was normal. If only I was normal.

If only, if only. Numerous possibilities swarmed my head and thwarted away any coherent thoughts. I just stood there, watching the muscles of his face twitch periodically as I wished with all my heart that things could be different. But that was the way of the world. Wins and loses. Gives and takes. Somewhere along the road, life will balance itself out, hopefully in Simon's favor. Not only was I far past being saved, but I wasn't worth being saved anyway.

I sniffed, trying to hold back the tears that kept pecking at the back of my eyes. Simon's breath hitched for a second before returning to a regular rhythm.

"I love you," I whispered, rubbing a soothing circle in the back of his hand.

There was a weighted truth to the words, but I didn't mean them like he would have, had he said them to me. It was one of the wonders of the world, how one person could fall so passionately in love, but never have it returned. I wondered if one day I would fall in love with someone. It was a stupid thing to think of now, moments away from giving up my life, but I couldn't help but pause for a second and just imagine. Imagine what it would be like to be held in someone's arms and feel as if there was no better place in the world but right there; to grow old with someone's hand in yours.

I shook my head abruptly, realizing that my mind had wandered too far. If I kept thinking that way, my nerve to go through with tomorrow's events would be squandered, never to return. Casting Simon a final glance, I tightened the belt of my coat and walked silently out of the apartment.

Out on the street, everything seemed too loud. My head was pounding with honking horns, blaring sirens, the drunken laughter of the two girls who stumbled past me. I needed somewhere quiet, somewhere to sit and have one final night to myself. But where could I go? Not back in the apartment, not to my house. In that moment, wrapping my arms tight around the curve of my waist, I felt the extended impact of that day's events: I had no more home. No more life. No more love.

Without rhythm or rhyme, I padded down the street, my head tucked into the collar of my coat as the wind tried its hardest to push back against me. I laughed under my breath, the sound strangled, as I realized how ridiculous of a thought it was to think the forces of nature were trying to hold me back from the decision I had made.

The wind tore at my hair, mangling the wilted curls. I fisted my hand through them for a second, pulling the hair back from the crown of my head before letting it droop back down. My lips ached for the cool kiss of a bottle, the smooth slither of expensive scotch, the kind that I'd find in my dad's liquor cabinet. I wanted to lose myself in oblivion and never wake up, just become a smiling, moving doll with no real cohesion of what was real and what was fake. Maybe that was the only way I'd ever be happy again.

To this day, I'm not sure how it happened. After it all, he had only told me his address once. But somehow, I was standing outside the entrance to Jace's apartment building. The bricks had moss oozing out of them, bulging cracks in the foundation with the might only nature could produce. My chest was heaving, tight with the kind of exertion one'd get from running a marathon. And yet, all I had done was walk here, and stand in the cold, dithering whether or not I should go in.

My hand curled around the handle, a tingle of life beginning to spread through me as I thought of seeing the electric fire that was Jace Wayland. Tugging open the door, I knew that I was in the right spot. There was one more thing I had to take care of before I did what I had to do.

A dull heat pressed against me, warmer than what was outside, but not by any means actually warm. There was a petite receptionist sitting at the lopsided front desk, its paint scratched off years ago. She was chewing on a pencil, a crossword clutched in one of her hands as she pored over it, trying to decipher the next clue. I walked up and tapped twice on the desk, feeling as though ringing the concierge bell when we were both right there would be obnoxious.

Glancing up, she dropped her pencil in shock. "Oh my, miss, are you okay? You're covered in bruises. Would you like me to call someone?"

She reached for the phone on her desk, but I covered her hand with mine, stopping her. When she look back to me, I shook my head. "Don't worry, they're nothing. I came here to see someone."

"Who would that be?" her brows furrowed.

"Jace Wayland."

For a second, she just gawked at me, mouth slightly agape. Then she shut it self-consciously and swallowed. "You know Jace?"

I nodded. "Very well."

"Oh, yeah?" She shifted her stance so that one hip was cocked out, a hand resting there. "What's your name?"

I crossed my arms. "Clarissa Fray."

Tapping a finger on her jaw, she pretended to consider for a second. "Nope, haven't heard of you. So if you'd please leave, I have some more important things I'd like to take care of."

"What makes you think he'd mention me to you?" I scoffed.

"Listen," she said, leaning forward to enunciate her words. "I'm the only person who has been solid in Jace's life recently. I know everything about him, and yet somehow you haven't come up. I get that you might feel important to him or some shit like that, but the last thing he needs right now is another slut to waste himself away on. So you better get lost before I come behind this counter and kick you out myself, understood?"

I covered my face with my hands, breathing deeply in then out, in then out. Lightheadedness was filling me, and I was consumed by a foreign urge that ached deep in my bones to see Jace. I needed to see him one last time before…before…

"Clary?"

Sometimes the universe lines itself up in just the right ways, a perfect harmony with your thoughts. I spun around, took in the lines of Jace's utter surprise clearly etched across his face, and I instantly felt better. My stress deflated, and I broke into a smile, my shoulders slumping.

"Jace." The receptionist and I said it at the same time, the different tones clashing.

The tiny receptionist walked out from behind her counter, arms folding over her chest. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to use the washer." Even as he said it, he wasn't looking at the girl, his eyes were trained on me. He took a few steps forward, shaking his head as if to make sure he was truly seeing me standing there in his lobby. "Clary, are you alright? You look exhausted."

A warble of broken laughter escaped me before I could stop it—I sounded insane. "Yeah, it's been a long night." I paused, scratching my head. "Could I talk to you for a moment?"

"Uh, yeah," he said, shifting the laundry bag he was holding to the other hand. "Come on, we can talk while I put this load of clothes in."

Shooting the receptionist a haughty look—getting an eye roll in return—I followed after Jace down a flight of stairs and into the basement where two washers and two dryers lined the wall. He dropped his bag down by one machine, lifted the top, then began piling in clothes. For a long time, neither of us said anything.

Then: "What are you doing here?"

I shrugged defensively. "What? I'm not allowed to visit you at your home?"

He glanced up at me for a second. "Am I allowed to visit you at yours?"

"Well…no, but…," I shifted, my clothes suddenly feeling suffocating, "I'm a special case."

"Yeah, so am I," he said dryly. "Probably isn't such a good idea to come around here anymore."

I pursed my lips, eyes sketching over the planes of his face, which seemed so exhausted under the fluorescent lights. "Is that why you don't?"

Gripping the washer with both hands, muscles visibly straining, he stared inside at his clothes, as if struggling to make the decision to tell me something. Finally, he shook his head and continued to pile in the clothes.

"Sorry," I said, averting my eyes. "I didn't come here to make you feel uncomfortable. I'll just go."

"Wait." In one swift movement, Jace caught my arm, then backed me up against the cool concrete wall. Intertwining our fingers, he pinned my hands against the wall, on either side of my head. His face was inches of mine; a single breath of his sent a delicious shiver down my spine.

"What happened to you?" he whispered. His lips were deathly close to brushing against mine. "Where did all these bruises come from?"

Staring at the honey of his eyes, I suddenly lost all defenses. My legs morphed to rubber, my walls melted into mush. The tears that had been welling behind my eyes all night spilled over all at once, rushing down my face as I gasped in a shuddering sob.

"They've always been there," I said between cries. "My father is an alcoholic. He beats me every day. It never stops. It—I—"

Jace crushed me against his chest, arms wrapping around me as if I were a raft in the middle of the ocean. He buried his face in the mass of my curls, and soon I felt his own tears against my neck. Without a second thought, I clung to him just as hard as he was to me: two castaways abandoned at sea, only to stumble upon each other years later.

"My sister…."

He didn't need to continue. I fisted my hands in the back of his shirt, tugging him closer to me to let him know I understood—he didn't need to say it out loud. All the dots connected, and I realized in the moment that Jace and I were one in the same. Both of us were poor excuses for human beings, with demons beyond repair. We were lost in the world, and crushed by those who were meant to love us. All we had left was each other.

Both of us realized that in the same moment: in a world where we used to be so alone, we now had someone to struggle along with. Somehow, despite what blubbering messes we were in that moment, our lips found each other. We crashed together, heat consuming every inch of my body, sparks igniting where his fingers brushed against my bare skin. He pressed me back against the wall, molding his body against mine, trying to get closer, closer, as our lips sent us spiraling higher and higher with every kiss.

I felt pour coursing through my veins, a strength previously unbeknownst to me, and that seemed to only be provided by the weight of Jace's body against mine. There was an urge to tear through the thin material of his shirt, so I could be closer to that infinite scorch of his skin. I needed more of him; wanted to be drunk off his scent, his lips, his undeniable allure.

Shutting off my mind, I continued to press closer and closer to him, shivering when his fingers slid under my shirt and pressed against the smooth skin of my hips, nails scratching lightly as if he couldn't control his desire for me. His teeth found my neck, nibbling up and down and pressing tender kisses along my collarbone, dredging out a moan from me that was rooted deep within my chest. Burying my hand in his thick hair, I wrenched his lips back up to mine, kissing him with a furious desperation, as if, just maybe, he held the cure to all the pain that had been built up inside me all those years.

Too bad I would never be able to find out. Because in real life—in my life—these moments never lasted. Soon, it would have to come to an end, and then I would have to carry out with what I needed to do.

And never see Jace again.


Woaaaah, there's a new chapter for you! More of a filler than anything, but I did give you Clace since you all have been such wonderfully patient readers!

Speaking of patience, SORRY. I have two AP classes in addition to all my honors classes this year, and in order to keep up with all the workloads, I haven't been able to spare a second of writing. But I promise that I will be writing chapters non-stop over Christmas Break (which has officially started) so that I can post one every two weeks until the end of the fic.

Anywho, thanks a ton for reading.

R&R, cause I love you all so much, and will update faster if you do!(;

Thanks, lovelies!