**ALL CHARACTERS AND EVERYTHING MORTAL INSTRUMENTS RELATED BELONG TO CASSANDRA CLARE**

Songs: I'll Follow You into the Dark - Death Cab for Cutie


The bell rang, releasing Jace from his History class. It was his last class of the day, and also the last class he was supposed to have with Clary…whom he hadn't seen since lunch. Instead of walking directly to the chorus room, he walked in the direction of Clary's geography class in hopes of catching her. When he reached the classroom, Jace peaked inside to see if she was already there, but there were only about five students seated and she wasn't one of them. He hung around for a minute but when he didn't see her approach he decided to try and catch her after school.

On his way to the chorus room he saw Aline walking in his direction. Jace wanted nothing more than to turn around and avoid her. But he knew he needed to talk to her about what happened at that party; he heard the rumors going around.

"Hi, Jace," she cooed.

He nodded. "Aline. Have you seen Clary?"

"Planning on breaking up with her?"

Jace studied her face for a moment before replying slowly, "Now why would I do that?"

"Because we slept together," Aline fake whispered, as if the whole school didn't already know.

"That doesn't mean anything to me." He narrowed his eyes and took a step closer to her. "I know you slipped something into my drink."

She smirked, "Prove it."

"Let me get one thing straight," Jace said coldly. "There may not be any 'evidence' but I know I was not drunk enough to stumble into bed with you – in fact, I could never be drunk enough to willing sleep with you. I am not breaking up with Clary, especially not for you. Now. Have. You. Seen. Her?"

After a silent moment Aline huffed, "I saw her run towards the front door after lunch. She probably couldn't take the rumors and ran home."

Without responding, Jace turned on his heel and started toward the front doors of the school. He walked right passed the chorus room and out of the school. Standing on the steps, he scanned his immediate surrounds. He looked left, right, then left again and didn't see anybody. He wasn't surprised; if she had left after lunch she would be home already. Jace fished his keys out of his pocket and walked to the parking lot on the side of the building. He needed to find Clary and explain to her what happened, that it wasn't his fault that Aline had slipped something into his drink. He didn't want to talk about it at lunch because there were already enough rumors going around. She would understand that, right? The image of her hurt and confused face when he indicated that he wasn't going to talk in school crossed his mind. No, she wouldn't understand because she's already so overwhelmed – with her own conclusions as well as the rumors that have spread like wildfire.

He walked faster to the lot, but froze when he got there. He saw her sitting on top of one of the picnic tables with her head on her arms which were crossed over her knees. That alone would only make him worry for her, but it was Verlac –Verlac – standing in front of her, rubbing his hands up and down her arms, that made his blood boil. He approached them, slowly, in hopes of catching some their conversation.

"Clary, please look at me." Jace heard the other boy say.

"No. I don't want to talk, Sebastian. Just leave me alone. Please," she pleaded.

"You have to tell me, Clary. Please, just tell me – "

"She doesn't have to tell you anything," Jace cut in. He saw Clary's head whip up at the sound of his voice, but didn't look at her yet. He was still staring at Verlac.

"Jace," she whispered.

But he before he turned his gaze in her direction he said, "Go away," coldly to Verlac.

"Clary?" the other boy asked, turning his head to look at her for confirmation.

"It's okay" she said quietly. Jace's eyes were still on Verlac, but he could feel her looking at him.

Verlac waited for a moment, then said, "Fine. If you need me, Clary, just call." When Clary didn't respond he turned and left the parking lot.

Jace relaxed, but only a little. He sat next to Clary on the picnic bench and began nervously bouncing his leg up and down. There was so much he wanted, needed, to say but didn't know where to start. Should he start with an explanation, or an apology? He just wanted things to go back to normal; he wanted to go back to when he and Clary were a single unit and no one even hoped of breaking them apart.

"Jace," Clary placed her hand on his knee, stilling his movements. "Just spit it out."

He looked at her; she had been crying – that much was clear. He could tell that everything anyone had said throughout the day had gotten to her, and that she now expected the worst from him. Jace cupped her face in his hands and looked directly into her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Clare. So, so sorry for everything." His hands gently brushed the hair that was in her face out of the way and his lips met hers. It was a soft, barely-there, kiss. It wasn't hot or heavy, but it was exactly what he needed. He felt her smooth lips kiss him back briefly before pulling away.

"How did you know I was out here?" She asked, looking at him.

"Someone saw you run out; I was going to drive to your place to check on you."

"Who saw me?"

Jace hesitated. "Aline."

Clary nodded.

"Why are you still here?" Jace asked when Clary didn't add anything.

"Simon's my ride home," then she added quietly, "I should have just walked home."

He didn't want to know what she meant by that, so he said instead, "Let me take you home."

"Why?" Clary asked sharply. "You want to talk now?" She sounded angry, and although Jace knew why, he wished she wasn't.

"Yes, I do. Look, Clary, I didn't want to talk in there," he gestured toward the school. "There's already so much talk going around as it is."

"I know, Jace. I've heard it all." She sighs, letting go of some of the anger, but not the hurt. "You don't want to talk to your girlfriend in school because you're worried about what people will say, but you'll talk to the girl you slept with two nights ago? How won't people talk about that, Jace?"

Jace shook his head, "I didn't seek her out intentionally. She was the first person I ran into when I was looking for you and I asked if she saw you. She said that she saw you run out after lunch, so I came out here to drive to your house but then I found you and here we are." He took a deep breath, surprised that he got all that out in one breath. He grabbed one of her hands and held it in both of his. "Please, Clary, I don't want to fight. I just want to work this out so we can go back to normal. I miss you; I miss us."

Clary looked away from Jace and across the parking lot, "Why did you do it?"

This was it – the talk. And she wasn't going to wait until they got to her house; they were going to this now.

Jace sighed, "I don't know what I was thinking then. But now, I think she might have slipped something in my drink."

"You think you were drugged?" She asked in surprised.

"Yes, but I don't have any proof. There's nothing I can do, which is why I just want to get back to normal."

"It's not that easy, Jace. How am I just supposed to ignore what people are saying all around me?"

"You've been able to do it before."

Clary threw her hands up in the air, "You didn't do what they said you did before. This time you did. It's not the rumors that are getting to me. It's the facts that stab and cut into me each time someone states them."

Jace looked at her for a long time before moving off the picnic table to stand directly in front of her. He took both her hands and looked her directly in the eye. "Tell me you love me."

"Wh-What are you – "

"Tell me you love me, Clary." He pleaded; because he knew that if she gave up on them – on him – now he would never forgive himself for making her leave. He needed her, so desperately needed her, and if she left him, the pain would last a lifetime.

"I love you, Jace." He saw confusion and hurt in her eyes, but heard the certainty in her voice.

He kissed, fiercely, for a few brief seconds. Then he stepped back so he could see her face fully. "We'll get through this. Together."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because I love you, and I'm not letting you go easily. It'll get better, I promise." Jace sighed, "But it's going to take time. We have to stick together."

Clary's eyes filled with tears. "I don't want to lose you, Jace."

He took her in his arms and pulled her close. "You won't, Clare. I swear to you; I'm not going anywhere."

o.O.o


December


It had been two weeks. Two weeks since that stupid party. And as much as Clary wished differently, nothing had gotten better. People still whispered and talked about her. Aline's looks taunted her every time she saw her in the halls. And although Jace stuck by her side, it wasn't the same. He didn't openly show affection while in school and was only slightly more so when they were alone. He was being distant, and Clary didn't understand why.

But Sebastian…Sebastian has been friendlier these past two weeks than he has the past few months. He talked to her, supported her, and helped her ignore the rumors – which was something she thought Jace would do. She's come to rely on Sebastian to get her through the school day.

"I just don't understand what's going on," Clary said while getting her books out of her locker. "I thought he wanted to fix things."

"Maybe he does," Sebastian replied.

"He sure has a funny way of showing it."

"Come on, Clary. It's Friday; let's do something fun," Sebastian coaxed. He'd been trying to make her feel better for the last two weeks by trying to get her mind of Jace.

It wasn't working.

Clary shook her head. "I don't know. I think I'm just going to wait and see what Jace is doing."

Sebastian sighed. "Clary you can't just keep waiting for him. Either tell him what's going on in that mind of yours," he tapped her temple, "or let him go."

"What do you mean?" Clary slammed her locker door shut and turned to face Sebastian. "You mean break up with him? I can't do that. Besides, he's the one being distant. He should tell me what's going on in his mind," she added quietly.

"Maybe he's waiting for you to break things off."

"Why would he do that?"

"So he doesn't add fuel to the rumor fire," he suggested. "It would prove all the rumors about him breaking up with you right."

"I don't want to break up with him," she stated, leaning against her locker.

"Fine, I'll let it go." Sebastian started walking away but turned around, "You leaving or what?"

Clary shook her head, "No, I'm going to wait for Jace."

Sebastian only nodded and walked away. Clary waited at her locker as she watched the halls clear. When most of the student body left and the teachers began to leave she decided to check the music room. Maybe he was waiting for her in there. But when she peaked her head in the classroom it was empty. Sighing, Clary walked out to the parking lot to Simon who was leaning against his car.

"Jeez, Clary," Simon said, breathing on his hands and rubbing them together, "What took you so long?"

"I was waiting for Jace," she replied and got in the passenger seat.

"Didn't you hear?" Simon asked as he started his car.

"Hear what?"

He hesitated, "Jace went home the period before last today."

"What? Why?" Jace never left early. At least not without telling her. But lately, with all the distance between them, they haven't been talking like they usually did. Jace only spoke to her when needed at school, and not much more when they saw each other outside of school – which wasn't all that much either anymore.

"Izzy said he didn't feel good." Simon shrugged, "I personally think it's a load of bull."

"You mean you don't think he's actually sick?" Clary tried to think of the last time Jace was sick, like really sick. It was about a year ago when everybody got the flu; Jace was out for two days. She looked down at her lap, "He's avoiding me isn't he?"

Simon sighed, "Clary, look, you just need to talk to him. Confront him about it. You should be the one mad at him, not the other way around. I mean he's the one who cheated on you!" When he saw Clary flinch he paused. "I'm sorry. I just don't like...I hate…"

"I know. You don't like him, you hate him, you don't want to see me hurt. I get it."

"It's not just that, Clary. I hate seeing you hurt. It hurts me; it hurts Izzy too. We just want you both to be happy again."

When Clary looked out the window she saw that Simon had pulled up at the Lightwood's house instead of her own. "What are we doing here?" She asked, shocked.

Simon squeezed her hand. "Go find out what's up with him. You'll feel better once you know."

She gave him a small smiled and returned the squeeze. "Thanks, Si. You always seem to know what I need." She climbed out of the car and walked up to the door. Taking a deep breath she didn't release it until she rang the doorbell.

oOo

Jace splashed cold water over his face. He had just run 6 miles on the basement treadmill. Looking up in the mirror he noticed the faint dark circles under his eyes. To anyone passing by, if they noticed the under-eye-bags, they would have just assumed he was tired. But he was so much more than just tired; he was miserable. Two weeks, two long weeks, had passed since he and Clary decided that they were going to tough out the rumors and stick together. But instead of getting better everything go so much worse. Instead of holding hands and looking lovingly into each other's eyes they barely touched and whenever Clary looked at him it was with hurt and confusion. Instead of making her laugh Jace couldn't even talk to her without seeing her devastated and crumbled on the floor the night he came home from the party. And instead of forgetting the whole incident and ignoring the rumors Jace saw Aline every time he turned around. He made unintentional eye contact and saw her smirk each time she saw him.

It drove him crazy. He knew he was pushing Clary away; he damn well knew it. But what could he do? For two years he went to her when he was lost or confused. For two years she came to him when she was hurt. But this time he did the hurting. He hurt her. All he wanted to do was turn back time to that night when he never should have step foot in that house party.

A loud knock came from the door. "Jace, open up!"

"Go away, Izzy," he called back. "I'm not in the mood."

"Well I don't really care. You need to get out here."

"No I don't. I'm sick, now go away."

He heard her snort, "Bullshit. Jace, you haven't been sick in two years."

It was true; he was just a healthy person. He swung the door open, "What do you want?" he asked in his most annoyed voice.

Instead of saying anything Izzy just turned on her heel, almost whipping Jace in the face with her long black hair, and walked away. Confused, Jace followed her to the living room.

"Iz, what did you – " He stopped as soon as he stepped out of the hallway. "Clary?"


A/N: Hey guys, guess who's back! Finally, finally, I updated again! So so sorry for the wait. Life's been crazy and I've been out of ideas lately. This chapter is short because I started writing the next scene and it just made sense to me to make it a whole new chapter (it'll make sense once you read it). Hopefully I'll have it done in two weeks. That's right - TWO WEEKS. So for now I hope this will hold you over.

Thanks again to all my awesome readers, reviewers, and everyone who added me and this story to their favs/follows.

Happy reading!