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So this is it…the last chapter…
Clary awoke not to the sound of her alarm clock, but to the message alert from her phone. Groggy with sleep, she blinked wearily at the boxes scattered across the room, all of them half-full. Although she was packing, her room looked messier than ever.
She yawned, stretched her arms over her head, and peered at the screen. And froze.
A sudden rush of déjà vu engulfed her. She was back in her car – her unwrecked, shiny, unscratched car – lamenting at how the standstill traffic would ruin the most important day of her year. It had been quite a fateful day.
Clary sighed, biting her lip, dreading to read the message. Her hopes of flying out of New York before Shadowhunter Academy filed a lawsuit had just been smashed.
With a sharp inhale, she opened the message.
Come to SAI today at 11:15. Sorry for the short notice but it's urgent. Don't be late.
She smiled at the irony.
Don't be late.
The same three words he had texted her the day of the car crash.
Heart thumping wildly, she rolled out of bed, stumbling towards the shower to prepare for the lawsuit.
Clary parked her car across the street from the towering skyscraper she used to call her second home. She craned her head up, squinting at the glass windows, all the way up past tens of stories to her office window. And she imagined two shapes in there. At first the two shapes, one girl and one boy, sat stiffly away from each other, cold, mean and angry. Gradually they drifted together and became closer, laughing, teasing, and then they fell in love.
She shook her head, clearing her mind, and focused once more on the door of the building. It was so familiar yet so threatening.
Wearing heels, her best business suit with the skirt and her hair parted with mathematical precision to one side, she walked across the street.
She opened the door and stepped in.
Inside was the same as always. She didn't know what she'd been expecting, but in her mind, she'd pictured SAI in chaos after her departure. She also thought that Luke, or someone at least, would meet her in the lobby, which was empty, except for the receptionist who greeted her with a condescending glance.
"They are expecting you on the third floor lobby, Ms. Fray," she said in a dead tone mingled with disapproval.
"Right," Clary said, fighting to keep her voice even. It was harder than she thought – to keep her emotions in check. Before stepping into the building, she had thought she could remain cool and calm. Now she wasn't so sure.
Third floor had been Jordan's floor. As she made her way down the hallway to the lobby, she paused and knocked on his door, maybe even to say goodbye for the last time. No one answered the door.
She knocked again, a sickeningly nervousness rising. Maybe he saw her outside and didn't want to associate with her anymore. Maybe he was waiting to testify against her.
She peeked inside the half-closed blinds. The room was empty.
As the lobby drew closer, her footsteps began dragging. In her head, she recited her speech.
Hi. You are under the false impression that I have stolen the software. It was actually all just a misunderstanding. It would be great if you would be willing to hear me out. However, if you choose to file a lawsuit, just know that I am innocent and there will be no incriminating evidence to charge me as guilty.
A corner of the lobby gradually came into view. Something was hanging from the ceiling. She stepped into the room, eyes widening.
She shrieked. People leaped up from all around her, under tables, couches, from behind shelves, plants, and sculptures, their faces a mixture of exuberance, guilt, and excitement. Jordan, Magnus, Aline, Jocelyn – everyone was there.
She spun around, breathless and confused. "What..?"
"We're sorry," Jocelyn said, stepping forward. "Jace explained everything."
"Everything? Is Jace in jail?" She asked, incredulous.
"What? No. Valentine is." Jocelyn raised her eyebrows. "Oh, God. You don't know? Valentine had Sebastian copy our software from your computer while Dr. Starkweather – who turned out to be one of Valentine's close associates – called you away that day. Then he gave it to Jace who in turn delivered it to his boss."
So Jace hadn't betrayed her. He hadn't stolen anything.
"Oh my god," Clary whispered. "It wasn't his fault. And I blamed him for all of it."
"It's alright, Clary. He's not in jail." Jocelyn said. "We're sorry for everything we've done. All that blame and those immediate accusations we put on you were completely unfair."
But it wasn't alright. She had ruined their relationship. Everything was over and it couldn't be fixed.
Couldn't it? A tiny spark of hope whispered in the back of her head.
"There's something upstairs," Luke said, interrupting her thoughts of despair. "In your office."
Clary dropped her heels and ran.
She stood in front of the door, panting quietly, trying to catch her breath and to look composed before walking in. She already knew what – or who, more specifically – would be inside. Her hand reached out, shaking, and settled on the doorknob.
Her heart thudded unevenly in her chest. It was funny, she thought, how he could make her heart beat in so many different ways. Pounding with anticipation, skipping when her insides took a dive, cracking with pain and heartbreak, and now, jittering, a fluttering nervousness.
How would he react when he saw her? How would she react? Stand silently and stonily? Claw his eyes out? Leap into his arms?
It was now or never. Clary took a deep breath, and mustering courage she didn't know she had, turned the knob.
The office was spotlessly clean. The table was empty, except for two computers. A lone chair sat with its back facing her.
Slowly, it spun around.
Gold locked on green, the air stilled, and time froze.
Jace smiled, one side of his mouth pulling up slightly before the other, revealing a chipped incisor.
"Hi, Clary," he said.
Clary heard her own voice come from far away. He walked toward her, stopping a few feet away, and stood there, not talking, just running his eyes over her face, taking her in. He looked tired; his face was haggard and the bags under his eyes looked like bruises, but he was still beautiful. Still Jace.
He continued standing there, looking but not touching.
"Jace," Clary said, unable to stand the silence any longer. "Jace, say something."
His mouth opened, then closed, and she watched as his Adam's apple bobbed. Shaking his head, he reached out and touched her cheek. She stiffened involuntarily, inhaling sharply at his touch.
Jace pulled back, biting his lip.
No, wait. I didn't mean that.
Clary looked up, about to apologize, but the words died on her tongue at Jace's expression. He was staring at her, his eyes immensely sad and pained. She had never seen so many emotions displayed so openly on his face before, and now she could read him as clearly as a book.
And as she looked up at him, mouth slightly opening, something in his expression broke. His eyes crinkled, and his mouth pulled down at the corners as he lurched forward, burying his face into her hair and taking shuddering breaths.
Clary looped her arms around him, pulling him close; he was shaking.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered over and over. "I'm so sorry."
"It's okay now," he murmured, stroking his hair, still soft as ever.
"I didn't do it," he whispered, hugging her so tightly it almost hurt. "I didn't know. I was stupid and rash and I didn't think. But I would never – never – intentionally hurt you."
He pulled back, his expression nervous and hopeful. It was a look Clary rarely saw on him, and she loved it. "You did?"
"Well at first I didn't," she said. Being frank was always the best, especially now, after all they had been through. "I thought you betrayed me at first, and I couldn't understand it, but all I knew was that I would never forgive you." His face fell, and she grabbed his hand, holding tight. "I forgive you now, Jace. Just hear me out. Please."
"It hurt too much to see you or to think about you, because I couldn't believe you'd just walk out on me, just like that. You made me fall in love with you, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it was just too difficult for my head to wrap around the fact that you weren't who I thought you were." His hand tightened on hers.
"But you are. You were always. And half the time I was just too hysterical to believe it. I saw you suffering. And I'm sorry for making you suffer like that. I'm sorry I lost faith in you and in us and that I stopped believing in who you were. I should have trusted you. I should have given you a chance. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for – "
"Quit apologizing." He took her other hand, holding on tight. "You don't have to apologize for anything. It was never your fault."
"I should have known you weren't responsible for anything that happened." Her voice wavered. "And when I walked through SAI today and saw everyone with all the balloons and flowers, I just kept on thinking how I'd screwed everything up. And I'm sorry, Jace. I am. I'm so, so – "
"I thought I told you to stop saying that," he said, smiling slightly. "I'm sorry. For this whole mess. But can we please skip the rest of the whole mushy apologizing stuff. I'm really not good at that part."
She laughed shakily.
"Valentine's in jail, Sebastian's on trial, and Starkweather's being accused of accomplice, but you haven't heard the best part yet," Jace said. "MC got a new CEO, so the companies aren't rivals anymore."
Clary let this process. Valentine was in jail. That was what he deserved. Starkweather she had never seen before. But Sebastian. She remembered going out on that one date with him and having a pleasant time. Discovering his part in the crime must have been hard on Jace. They had been friends, after all.
"So we're not rivals anymore?" She smiled.
"Nope. Instead, Luke offered me a job here. Sales manager, right next to you."
"I'm also a VP," she teased, pulling him into a massive bear hug. "And you're job at MC?"
"Well, I kinda lost it after getting my boss sent to jail," he said, the familiar smirk curling around his mouth again.
Clary grinned up at him, shaking her head in wonder. The things they would do for each other.
"So," Jace said, voice dropping, "isn't this the part where you passionately kiss me?"
She reached up to twine her hands around his neck, pulling him to her, finally, closing the space that was never meant to be between them, and kissed him sweetly. His hands ran up her back to tangle themselves in her hair when the door suddenly banged open.
"Well, it was about time," Jordan said, his face stretching into an impish grin as Simon, Alec, Magnus and Isabelle streamed into the room, cheering and hooting. "All that lovesick talk made me take, like, five trips to the bathroom."
Jace laughed, reaching down to twine their fingers together, as Clary looked around the room, smiling. With all her friends together, she felt happier than she had ever been before. This was right, this was how it was supposed to be, and this was how it would be forever.
:) Happily ever after…I'm a sucker for those. And yes, I didn't write how Jace got Valentine incriminated and all that. There was a camera in Valentine's room for security purposes and the rest is all up to your imagination! (mainly because i was lazy and it was too complicated to write and to think of the whole process LOL sorry)
And please read my newest story The Kissing Dilemma!
Anyway, any last thoughts about Infect My Heart? Favorite part? What you wish had happened? Please review! It's the last chapter…:)
Thank you all for reading!