Clary woke from a restless, dreamless sleep around four o'clock in the morning. She turned to her side, then back again. Other side, back again. She had only slept for about two hours. She groaned and scrubbed at her eyes, knowing she was too upset to go back to sleep. She pulled the light blanket over her head like she did when she was a little girl, taking comfort in the habits of the past.
She was angry. She was frustrated. She was hurt.
She just wanted to know why Jace had reacted like that. He had almost been violent, and for a moment last night, she had been scared.
She started reviewing the last seven months in her mind. She thought over their relationship and what they had each given. Clary had told Jace everything. She did not hold back. He knew everything about her – the story of her parents, the story of Matthew's birth, everything. She didn't even know what his mother's name was.
Was he ashamed? Was he embarrassed by the fact that she was a teenage cautionary tale?
Sighing, she ran a hand down her face and rolled to the side of the bed so she could swing her feet over the edge and stand up. One more heavy sigh as she trudged to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She had two hours yet before she needed to get her son up and ready for school. She mercifully had the day from work, and though she had originally intended to spend it with Jace, she would more than likely now spend it in bed or completing household chores that had woefully been ignored in the last three weeks.
She finished the pot of coffee and started another as she stood to start cleaning.
She began obsessively wiping down counters, gathering dust and fallen crumbs with a broom, fluffing couch cushions and washing dishes.
At 6:10, she gathered the ingredients for French toast and prepared a breakfast for Mattie. At 6:35, she woke and gently ushered him to the table where he sleepily sat and ate his food before brushing his teeth and getting dressed for school.
After another half an hour, they left the apartment, Matthew skipping and Clary dragging.
Jace paced anxiously in his room. It was quarter of nine, and he was supposed to pick Clary up in fifteen minutes. He groaned and dropped onto his bed. He was stupid; he had gotten angry at Clary last night when she started asking questions. She could not understand that he didn't want to talk or even think about his past. He certainly wasn't used to girls asking about him and actually caring. It had thrown him off. Deep inside, he knew that Clary was probably only asking to get closer to him, but his past experiences were working against him, and the anger he had felt nearly transformed to violence. He was ashamed.
He groaned again and covered his eyes with his hands. He was an ass. He righted himself and grabbed his wallet and keys off of the nightstand and headed to his car. He did not text or call her first, and he got to Clary's apartment ten minutes late, but he steadied himself and knocked. He sensed that she was on the other side of the door, but she did not open right away.
"Clary, it's me. Let me in." Jace said as he leaned against the door. He heard the tumblers turn over as she unlocked and carefully opened the door. Her body blocked the entry way, and she fixed him with a dark stare.
"Clary, look," Jace started, but she held up her hand to stop him.
"Don't." She said strongly. "Just don't. I'm done, Jace." Her eyes held his.
"What do you mean, you're done?" Jace asked, crinkling his eyes confusedly.
Clary sighed. "Come in and sit down. We need to talk." She stepped back to allow him through and he stepped in the room.
"Clary," Jace began again, but she interrupted him.
"Sit," she said brusquely, pointing at the kitchen table where a single cup of coffee sat dejectedly on the fake marble top. He did as she said, a sinking feeling tightening in his stomach.
Clary sat across from him and leaned back in her chair, sighing as she crossed her arms over her chest protectively. "I mean, I'm done, Jace."
"Done with what?" Jace scoffed, outwardly showing no emotion, although a slow panic was rising in his chest.
Clary leveled a glance at him, a long, enduring glance. "Us."
"No." Jace retorted.
"Yes," Clary answered. "I'm not doing this anymore."
"Doing what? We're in a relationship; we had a fight, and now we're over it. We have plans today, so go get dressed." He stood and held out a hand to her.
"Jace, stop. I'm not going anywhere with you."
"Jace," Clary shrieked, her hands in the air in exasperation, "for once, you are going to sit down and listen to me. You are going to listen and then you're going to do as I say for once in your life." A note of deadly seriousness crept into her voice as she pointed at his chair. He sat, stunned and subdued at her outburst.
"When I say I'm done Jace, I mean it. I can't keep doing this." Clary shook her head and lifted the mug to take another sip of the cold coffee. "I walk on eggshells around you. Last night I told you I love you and you basically ran away from me. I asked you if you have a brother or sister and I thought you were going to hit me." Jace sat forward to take her hand, a heartbroken look on his face.
"Clary, I would never-"
She cut him off again and pulled her hand back out of his reach. "Jace, you don't love me. It's that simple." She paused. "And I don't want to keep pretending that I'm not in love with you so that you'll stick around." She looked down at her folded hands, trying to avoid Jace's hard, hurt stare. "I think that we just need to cut our losses and get out of this before either one of us gets hurt again." Finally, she looked back to him.
Jace stood and stumbled forward, kneeling before her. He put his hands in her lap, "Yes, I do, Clary, I do. I swear to you, I love you. Please, don't leave me." He looked at her desperately broken and desperately hoping.
She touched his face gently, "No, Jace, you don't." She bit the inside of her cheek and sighed. "You love the idea of being with me. You feel safe. We take care of each other, so you feel protected and loved." She paused to take a shaky breath. "But anytime I try to get closer to you, you just push me away. It happened the first time we slept together, it happened when I told you about myself, hell, it happened last night." She laughed uncertainly, unsure of how else to react to his pleading before she looked down into Jace's agonized eyes and wished beyond hope that they could make it out of this unscathed.
Jace surged forward and met her lips with his. He pulled her in tight, kissing her with bruising force and holding the sides of her face against him. "No," he breathed against her mouth, "that's not it at all. We're good together. We'll make it work. We just hit a rough patch." While one of his arms still held her tight against him, his free hand crept up the bottom of her shirt, sliding across the bare skin, so soft and inviting against his fingertips as he searched higher and higher before skimming the edge of her bra. He tried to pull her out of her chair and onto the floor, where he planned to take her so high that she forgot all of this fighting.
Clary struggled against him, but that only made him clutch her tighter. "Jace," she tried to pull back, tried to get away, but it was futile.
"I can't be without you, Clary. I won't." Jace's eyes sparked and his face set with determination when he pulled back from her.
"You have to." Clary raised her voice and pushed against him with both hands, setting them apart and getting some distance from him. "Jace, I'm not going to be a kept woman because your family sucks. You act like you own me; buying me stuff, running over what I say I want," She was being harsh now, and as much as she hated it, it was necessary. With a staggering pain in her heart, she watched Jace flinch back and look away. "It's not fair to me, and it's not fair to you, and I'm done." She looked at him despairingly, begging him to understand.
"Clary," he whispered, emotion taking over his face and making him look like little boy. She shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Jace." She whispered. He looked her straight in the eye and seeing her seriousness, dropped his face to her lap. His arms wrapped around her waist and his voice came out muffled.
"I do love you, Clary, I do." Jace felt tears leak from the corners of his eyes and nearly startled. He had not cried in thirteen years and now, this little girl, this fiery little redhead had brought him to his knees in pure emotion. The boy who never cried, who never felt anything, was crying like a baby in the arms of a woman.
Clary felt tears coming and she looked up, holding them back before rubbing her hands down over Jace's smooth and muscled back. She shook her head dejectedly. "Maybe a part of you does, Jace," her voice surprisingly steady, "I don't know. I just know that it's not the right part." Jace's body shook against hers and she closed her eyes and nodded.
"But I need you," Jace grunted against her stomach as he nuzzled his lips against her.
"But not in the way I need you," Clary answered as she lifted his face from her belly. Jace's tearstained face gave her pause.
"Fine, maybe that's true, but isn't it better to pretend? That way we're both happy." Jace threw out in desperation, knowing it was the wrong thing to say but needing to keep the conversation going until Clary changed her mind.
A pitying look crossed Clary's face when she said, "No. That's not fair to either of us." Jace's tried to let his face fall to her again, but Clary held him back and looked him square in the eye. "I think that you need to go."
Jace opened his mouth to protest, but slowly realized it would be futile. He stood and leaned over, kissing Clary once more, softly and lovingly. "This is not over, Clary. It will never be over. I won't let it be. I'm not giving up."
Clary looked at him silently for a minute, the only emotion on her face betrayed by her eyes, simultaneously burning and misting, before saying, "Goodbye, Jace."
She stood to close and lock the door behind him, sliding down the doorframe to the floor, arms wrapped around herself as she cried silent tears. Her body shook with the sobs until she ached. She didn't know how much time had passed before she crawled to her feet and collapsed into her bed where she fell to an immediate and deep sleep.
Jace somehow ended up at a bar. He didn't know which bar, he didn't know how he got there, he didn't know why they were open at eleven in the morning, but he was there and he was drunk. Whiskey, beer, scotch, tequila, vodka – he drank it all, and he drank it indiscriminately. Mixing alcohol was the best way he could think of to get Clary off of his mind.
The blonde bartender refilled his glass as he sloppily nodded at her. She shook her head and clicked her tongue at him, knowing that he was far too gone to realize that the "vodka" she had just poured was actually water. She was brewing a pot of coffee at the moment that was about to replace everything else.
Jace guzzled it down all the same, accustomed to the comforting burn and sting of the drinks but too drunk to notice that there was none. The song playing through the speakers changed to one that reminded him of Clary, and he meant to flag down the waitress to change it, but instead slipped drunkenly from his seat and ended up on the floor. The bartender leaned over worriedly before running around the edge of the wooden bar to pick him up and lead him into the back room. She gently laid him out on the cot and retrieved the first aid kit from the manager's office. He had gashed his forehead on his way to the floor, and while it was not serious, she wanted to get it cleaned and covered.
He laid still as she swiped an antiseptic pad over the shallow cut, applied triple antibiotic ointment, and a flesh colored adhesive bandage. His eyes had fluttered closed, and she thought he was asleep, but when she pulled away from her careful work, his long, slim fingers curled around her wrist.
"Do you do this often?" He slurred, his bright golden eyes looking up at her.
"Do what?" She asked softly as she brushed a golden curl out of his face.
"Rescue poor, drunk idiots like me." He murmured as his eyes closed again and then jerked back open.
"I'm used to drunk people falling, if that's what you mean," she smiled at him.
"What's your name?" He asked her.
"Shelley," she answered quietly. He responded with his name. "It's nice to meet you, Jace." She spoke quietly, trying not to exacerbate the headache that she knew he must have. He murmured and muttered unintelligibly. "That girl must have really done a number on you."
His eyes opened again, wide enough that she could see the bloodshot corners. "What did you say?" He whispered.
"I know a bad breakup when I see one," she replied quietly. "What happened?" she asked shyly, "If you want to talk about it, I mean."
Jace did not say anything at first. Then, "She ended it because she thinks I don't love her." His eyes were heavy, full of heartbreak and anguish.
"Do you?" Shelley responded softly.
Jace again did not answer for a while. With his eyes closed, she thought that he had fallen asleep again. "I don't know what love is." Jace mumbled, his words running together like the notes of song, indistinguishable from one another, yet poignant enough to express the message that they carried. Those were the last words Shelley ever heard him speak as his body slackened and he drifted to sleep.
She looked down at him sadly. "I get it." Her voice was so low that she barely heard it. Knowing that he was no longer with her, she leaned over and kissed his forehead, undid the top three buttons of his shirt and removed his shoes before drawing the blanket over him and returning to work.
Jace woke slowly, rousing himself from a deep sleep. His body was stiff and his head ached. A squeaking noise as he stirred told him that he was in an unfamiliar place, and the memories of early came rushing back to him. Music pulsed into the room and set him on edge.
He groaned and sat as he looked around the strange room. His shoes were gone and his shirt was unbuttoned. He remembered a blonde woman, a lot of drinking, and Clary's final goodbye. He dropped his head into his hands and looked at his watch. It was nearing eight o'clock. He remembered he was in a bar – that explained the music. He slid his feet into his shoes and rubbed the back of his neck. Checking for his wallet and phone, he stood. He took his best guess as to which door led out of the back room and twisted the knob, relieved when it opened to reveal the crowded bar. The bartender turned around, and he was disappointed to see that it was a brunette man, not the blonde woman from earlier.
"There was a girl here?" Jace asked confusedly, his head still pounding a rhythm that did not match the music from the bar.
"Yeah, Shelley." He confirmed. "She's gone for the day," the man answered before turning back to his customer. He poured a drink, and then reached around Jace to grab a slip of paper. "Here's your tab. You can pay over there." He pointed in the direction of the cash register where another man was standing. Jace looked at the bill for a few moments before glancing back at guy who was now looking at him incredulously. "You can go now." He motioned toward the door, eager to get back to his busy line.
"Right. Thanks." Jace cleared his throat and made his way to the other line where he paid the forty five dollar tab and left a fifty dollar tip. On the receipt he simply wrote three words: thank you, Shelley.
"Can you see that she gets this, please?" The attendant nodded and Jace left. He climbed into his car and drove aimlessly for a while, still in shock over the previous night. After forty five minutes of directionless anger, he made up his mind and turned the car around.
It took him another half an hour to arrive at his destination. He had been there so many times that the drive was effortless, almost like he was on autopilot. He pulled up the long, dusty, winding road and parked. He took a deep, bracing breath before exiting the car and entering the building. He walked down the long corridor, the heels of his boots sending ominous, echoing taps racing along the tiled floor. He nodded at the woman at the desk who smiled sadly at him, knowing what he was there for and recognizing him after his many fruitless trips to that room.
He paused outside of her room, his hand on the doorknob before he pressed the button that would allow him in. He stepped inside and closed the door, breathing in the sickening sterile smell and allowing his eyes time to adjust to the dark of the room. In the bed lay a frail woman. He made his way across and sat in the chair before reaching over to take her hand.
"Hi, Mom." He breathed.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who keeps up with this story. I know that I am a terrible writer and even worse at updating, so the fact that you guys all still stick around really just excites me to no end.
Of course, I don't own the Mortal Instruments series and I am not Cassandra Clare.
Let me know what you think!