A/N: Here's a one shot that I've been working on for a while. It took so long to finish because I was splitting my head open, trying to figure out what was the point of it. And I concluded there really was none. This is merely a glimpse at life post Clockwork Angel, particularly the remnants of the Will/Tessa relationship. All from Will's POV. I decided to name it "I Never Told You" after the song by Colbie Caillat (I swear, that song is made for these two. The verses fit Tessa and the chorus suits Will).
I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: I adore these characters so much I feel they are mine. But alas, they are not. They belong to Cassandra Clare.
Those were words that William Herondale rarely uttered. In fact, the more he delved into the confines of his memory, the more convinced he grew that he had never said the words. When he had discovered Sophie's rag doll and mercilessly torn it to pieces, he did not utter an apology even when she was unable to contain her tears in front of him. Or the many times he caused that glint of pain across Henry's eyes with the endless mockery of his inventions and thus his intelligence. Not even the time he in so little words told Charlotte it did not matter to him that she loved him like her own son.
Will had never uttered the words but he found himself close in the two weeks that had elapsed since he had last spoken to Tessa.
His conversation with her on the rooftop of the Institute had not only been one of the most difficult tasks he had ever had to execute, this including hunting the most vicious of demons. Offending Tessa was also the most permanent, the damage that conversation inflicted reverberating to lash its claws against his flesh every single day. It had not been enough to endure the simple task of formulating the words that would most hurt her. No, what tortured him, what haunted his every dream was the way Tessa's heart shattered before him, leaving behind a trail of never-ending shards of glass for him to dwell in.
Tessa had not even spared him a single glance ever since. Not a fleeting look when she thought he was not looking, not even when she was forced to acknowledge his very existence at the dinner table, nothing.
Will turned over restlessly, his mattress protesting with a whine, the infinitesimal yet bright moonlight that peeked through the drawn curtains spilling over his face. His mind had a way of projecting thoughts he desperately sought to avoid. He grew accustomed to this ever since he was twelve, ever since…
He shook his head violently against his pillow, repressing the razor-sharp memories of what had occurred so long ago… And as he lay in bed, hopelessly attempting to sleep, he thought of his brief encounter with Tessa earlier that day.
He had decided to find comfort from the torment Tessa's indifference was causing him in the library. In retrospect, if he was being honest with himself, he knew in his core that he would find her there for they shared that in common: a tendency to find a sanctuary in the pages of a book.
And sure enough, almost as if he had known all along rather than guessed, he found himself looking straight at her as he entered the room. He felt that usual jolt in his chest he hated so much at the sight of her. Tessa's face was earnest in concentration and devotion to the text she held in her small hands, but it was soon interrupted as she heard him walk in. Her eyes tore from the page and for a wild second Will thought she might finally look at him, he did not care if it was unintentional and with the sole purpose of recognizing the intruder.
But she did not. Her eyes, which had begun to rake his body from the floor up, stopped at his chest and that seemed to be enough to tell her who stood before her. Without a word, she returned her attention to her book, this time with far more concentration than previously, as if she invested all her efforts in completely ignoring him.
Will recognized this as his opportunity to say something laced with sarcasm that as usual, would only worsen matters for him. But for once he actually cared about not worsening things. For once he took a moment to think before he spoke.
He was walking closer to the armchair by the fire in which she sat. "Listen, Tess," he started, but at hearing his nickname for her, she shut her book with much more force than needed and rose from her armchair at once. She walked with such determination towards the exit that if he had been standing in her way, she would have crashed right into him. And even that would not have been reason enough to look at him. It was as if he wasn't in the room at all.
Will's fingers pinched the bridge of his nose in his irritation. He had been so close of saying it…of uttering the words…
If he could only tell her that, then…
Then what? he thought bitterly. And what exactly was he supposed to be sorry for? The things he said? The manner in which he said them? Or the simple act of uttering them? Because the reality was that as horrible as they were, as much as he regretted saying them, his words to her were not lies. At least those pertaining to her existence as a warlock. All other insinuations regarding her virtue and her willingness to compromise it were false.
But, Will realized as he gave up entirely on the prospect of sleep, that he had lied, not to Tessa but to himself. He had attempted to delude himself into believing that their difference in birth would be enough to snuff out the inferno of emotions she evoked in him. That the mere reality that she was a Downworlder and he a Shadowhunter would suffice to render him capable of ceasing all thought of her. And it was a cruel lie to himself because even as he lay there, void of sleep, attempting to rid his stubborn brain of all thoughts of her, he found himself not only thinking of her more fervently than ever before but also yearning for her with a longing that crippled him.
He was on his feet, alert, before the clatter outside his door had died completely. Seconds later, his door was slammed open, followed by the appearance of a pale and breathless Sophie. Will would have otherwise snapped at her for her impertinence if it wasn't for the words the she managed to wheeze, "It's Master Jem —he's having another one —the box is empty."
But Will had already sprintedto his cabinet, yanked the top drawer open, and hurried past Sophie with a small leather pouch grasped tightly in his hand. His heart beat painfully against his chest as the sheer, cold terror of the situation threatened to overtake him past coherence. If the supply in Jem's room was completely gone then that meant he'd been having these attacks more often than he let on. What was worse was that Jem only used the drug when it was absolutely necessary…
Will shook these thoughts away as he rounded the corner so fast that if it weren't for his innate skill as a Shadowhunter, he would have crashed against one of the walls. He didn't even pause to take in the sight as he dashed inside his best friend's room. All he knew was that Jem was sprawled on the floor coughing violently at the foot of his bed, his bed sheets tangled around his waist. And of course, Tessa was kneeling next to him, on the verge of tears holding Jem's hand tightly and attempting to pull Jem upright. This sent a bolt of raw jealousy through him.
"Don't move him!" Will almost yelled at her as he dropped to his knees next to them. "If he is coughing blood, it is imperative that he is not facing up since he might choke on it. James?" He addressed him as he hastily ripped the pouch he had brought with him open. Jem clutched onto Will's shoulder to reassure him he had heard him and thus that he remained coherent. "Here you go," he said giving his friend the demon drug that both helped and slowly killed him everyday.
"Will," managed Jem, before a fit of coughs overtook him.
"Shhh. Save your strength so it can take effect faster. Get the pillows ready," Will addressed Sophie, who had just arrived at the door, completely breathless.
Without a word, Sophie fluffed and stacked three pillows on Jem's bed.
Waiting until Jem's coughing had subsided almost entirely and making sure there was no more blood, Will slung his friend's arm over his neck and carefully helped him up. With Sophie and Tessa's help, they propped him back into his bed. Jem's eyes were closed but Will knew he was awake.
"If you don't mind," Will addressed the other two, "I need to have a word with Jem."
Tessa began to protest but Sophie placed her hands on her shoulders and gently guided her out of the room, closing the door behind them.
"Is there something you are not telling me?" he asked Jem, whose eyes remained closed. Will felt a small, fleeting pang of guilt for he knew his friend needed rest.
"What do you mean?" asked Jem softly.
Will walked over the table where the silver box rested. "James," Will said sternly, picking it up, "This is empty. The last time I refilled it was only a week ago and it was enough dosage to last you three weeks."
"If you're afraid that I am taking unnecessary hits—"
"I know better than to worry about that," Will interrupting unabashedly. "What I am worried about is that you have been experiencing these attacks more often than before."
He said nothing and Will sighed audibly, taking his silence as an affirmative. "Be honest, Jem. Has your tolerance increased as well?"
Jem took so long to reply that Will thought he had finally fallen asleep. Finally, he nodded.
"James, this is not something you should be taking lightly," retorted Will. "You need to alert me when it happens. I don't care what time of the day it is."
"You worry far too much, William."
"Alright, I promise."
Satisfied, Will turned to leave.
He stopped at the door.
"You didn't drink tonight, did you?"
He had forgotten. That morning, he had told Jem he could not visit him this evening because he was going to "get sloshed". In reality, he wanted to avoid the sight of Tessa and Jem together...He knew she'd be in Jem's room as was her custom every evening. But Will did not even have to formulate a lie for Jem's breathing was slowly steadying as he gradually fell deeper into sleep. He found Tessa and Sophie still waiting outside, uneasy and expecting him to say something.
"He's alright—sleeping, as a matter of fact," he added the last part at seeing their anxiety.
Both of their faces softened with relief.
Sophie sighed, relieved. "Thank the Angel," she murmured.
Tessa took a step towards Jem's door, as if she did not take Will's word for it. But his voice stopped her in her tracks, "You will wake him. He's always worn out after this happens so it is best if you let him rest."
Sophie nodded solemnly. "We'll check on him early in the morning," she said before excusing herself for the night and disappearing.
Will was left alone with Tessa and he recognized this as another chance to speak to her, "Tes—" he started, but she had already whirled around, making her way toward her room.
"This is ridiculous!" Will shouted after her as he followed. "When will you stop being so childish?"
"Mr. Herondale," she addressed him in a loud whisper, "Do keep your voice down. You will awake Jem."
"We need to talk."
"I have nothing to say to you."
"Good, since all that is required from you is listening."
She ignored this as she reached her bedroom door, giving him her back still. "Good night, Mr. Herond—"
"No," he said resolutely, taking her wrist in his hand with rather great force. "We are going to talk about this now," and with his free hand he opened the door, forced her inside, and pressed her against it.
Too startled to scream, Tessa closed her eyes, her breath caught at her throat audibly. When she opened her eyes, she was still not looking at him but down at the doorknob at her side. "Let me out," she whispered fiercely. "I will scream! I will provoke a scene!"
But Will felt himself smirk. "There is no one in this floor to hear you. Unless you want to wake Jem up?"
Tessa said nothing.
Her room was dark save for the dim light of a candlel that burned low. The bed was unmade, the covers thrown carelessly over to one side of the bed, a result of being awoken by Jem's attack and rushing to his side...
"I could have my way with you and no one would know a thing." But as soon as he said it, he realized his poor choice of words and tried to retract them but Tessa had already reacted, her nostrils flaring and refusing more than ever to look at him. He tried again, his voice softer. "I was joking."
"Of course, only you would joke about that." She inflicted venom in uttering this.
Will shuddered but did not relent. He had grown tired of not meeting her eyes so he took her chin gently in his fingers and tilted her head toward him. Her erratic heartbeat was his only encouragement. Stubborn as she was, Tessa closed her eyes once more to continue her avoidance, almost as if desperately clinging to it. "Tess," he whispered. He could see his breath caressing her face and the effect it had on her. "Tess, look at me." He massaged small circles on her cheek with his thumb. "Please."
Her resolve shattered right before his eyes. Tessa finally lifted her bright and gray eyes to look at him and an odd emotion (unidentifiable to Will) flickered in her them.
And just as fast, it was replaced by resentment.
He became angered by her stubbornness, "Always so deliberately difficult," he muttered under his breath.
" Are we finished here?" Tessa asked, obviously unaware of his words. "I would like to go and make sure Jem is alright."
Will felt the jealousy burn through him for the second time that day. "He is fine," he said through gritted teeth. "What does it matter to you anyway? You barely know him."
Tessa looked as if he had slapped her. "I happen to care very deeply for him!"
"Is that so?" He speaking out of blind rage and jealousy at this point. "Is that why you spend so much time in his bedroom?" He knew the potential consequences of his words, but it was the monster inside him doing all the talking now and he had lost the reigns of control.
It did not help that all of his senses were assaulted by her proximity.
"Jem," she began, "is a perfect gentleman. He would never even dream of trespassing the boundaries of my personal space." She glared at the little space Will left between their bodies.
His jaw tightened. "What about just now? When you were holding his hand?"
"You've said it. It was me holding his hand."
He looked away, feeling his heart drop to the floor. His grip on her wrist loosened.
"Jem never made a move to touch me or perform unsolicited advances," she was looking at him defiantly.
Will knew perfectly well she was referring to him. "Unsolicited?" he spat. "If I remember correctly, they were never rejected either."
To this, she replied nothing but blushed furiously, the color visible even by the dim candlelight. A victorious grin spread across his face and he was aware he must seem condescending but he could not care.
"Let me out," she said when she could think of nothing else to fill the silence.
"Not until we talk."
"And what do you want to talk about?" she asked, her voice gathering its anger once more like a train gaining momentum. "How utterly ridiculous and stupid you made me feel? How inferior I am to you because I am a Downworlder?"
Her words cut him with the precision of a seraph blade because she only spat back what he had told her himself. What was worse was that Tessa—once unaware of what she really was, once innocent of everything to do with his world—was beginning to speak with the bitterness of a Downworlder. With a pang to his chest he realized he had caused it. It was all his fault.
"Or perhaps," she continued with more acidity, "you would like to discuss how us warlocks are only good for one thing to you Nephilim? Aside from casting spells, of course." Her eyes wandered to the proximity of their bodies, as if to assert her point.
Will stepped back at once. "Stop that!" he blurted. "Stop speaking about yourself like that!"
Tessa raised an eyebrow. "You said it to me yourself."
"Oh, that's right," Tessa interrupted. "You only implied it, which is no better."
"You didn't what? Mean it?" her voice was far too cruel to belong to Tessa yet it did. "But everything you said was true."
Will had lost his temper, "God damn it, Tessa!" he exclaimed, his fist colliding against the door that she was still pressed against. "You are making this more difficult than it has to be!"
Tessa, recovering from his outburst, retorted, "Making what more difficult?"
This was it. This was his opportunity to utter those words. The words she would be the first to hear from his lips. I'm sorry. The image of Tessa lying on the floor, dead and bloody, attacked his mind fleetingly and he felt a wave of despair overpower him. She was alive and well now but Mortmain was still after her. What if…
No. He could not bear to think it.
I'm sorry. All he had to do is say the words. They were so necessary, so crucial if he ever hoped to mend things with her. So why could he not utter them?
As if reading his mind, Tessa's expression softened. Sighing in defeat, she reached for him, hesitant, her hand stopping in midair, perhaps considering how weak he would deem her if she gave in to her urge to touch him. At last, she placed a soft hand on his cheek and it wasn't until then that he realized she was trembling. Her touch came almost as a relief, like the fresh rain miraculously falling from the sky to soothe a burning fire. Will closed his eyes and basked in it, resuming his proximity to her and forcing his lips to utter the words.
"Will," she whispered and just hearing her say his name made his heart beat dangerously fast. "You can tell me," she assured him softly. "Whatever it is you need to say, you can say it."
He marveled at the hold Tessa had on him, more than any other human being in the world had, more than he himself had.
"I'm…" The words died at his throat.
"What is it, Will?" she encouraged.
With a sickening twist of his stomach, comprehension hit him like an iron punch. The reason he could not simply tell her he was deeply, terribly sorry for hurting her was because he would have to divulge why.
The little color in Tessa's face vanished. Even in her anxious state, she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, he decided when he studied her face. The most beautiful girl he would ever see.
She opened her lips to prompt him once more but before he could stop himself, his arms enveloped her completely. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and greedily took in her scent and the softness of her skin against his. It sickened him how the closer he tried to pull her to him, the father he pushed her away...
Tessa returned the embrace without hesitance. "You can tell me," she said, and this time instead of encouraging him, she pleaded. "You can trust—"
But Will completely silenced her when he moved his lips to hers in a swift, desperate movement. Her surprise was only short-lived for she kissed him back almost immediately. Her lips, softer and sweeter than he remembered, moved against his with a passion that could only match his own. The urge to bring her closer to him was maddening. Tessa ran her fingers through his hair as her tender, sweet breath caressed his face. The two weeks without the sensation of his calloused fingers brushing against her soft skin suddenly felt like centuries, and he wondered how he had managed to survive for so long. The kiss was sad and desperate like the situation they found themselves in but neither could care.
It took every ounce of resolve to break away from her. He wished he had not looked down at her for her eyes were bright, her lips swollen, and her face flushed, looking far more appealing than ever.
He released her from his embrace.
"I'm sorry," he blurted between ragged breaths. "I'm sorry for everything I…" He trailed off, searching for sufficient words to tell her just how sorry he was.
"I'm sorry," he repeated weakly.
His mind was catching up with him. Simply telling her he was sorry with no explanation for his motives was as good as lying to her and that was the last thing she deserved. She deserved everything: the whole truth.
But he did not think himself ready to speak about what happened…about his parents…about Cecily…
Tessa deserved to know everything, and that was the one thing he could not give her.
He had lost everything.
That thought would resonate with him for as long as he lived.
Without so much as a goodbye, Will gently moved Tessa aside and opened the door. He hastily left the room with one last look at her—a last look that he would regret for days to come because as he looked at her, something died in Tessa's eyes.
And he himself died a little, too.
A/N: My friend almost killed me because I ended it here. But I assure you, as I assured her, that I believe Will and Tessa belong together despite all the odds. That being said, it will take a rather long time for them to sort things out and end up together. One of those pending matters is Will's past (which I can only guess about).
Anyway, thank you if you've made it this far. Also, thanks in advance to those who intend to submit a review. You've got no idea how much your time and feedback are appreciated.
A special thanks to Desi, Brooke, and Pris for their support throughout the process of writing this.
All my best,