Hi there, fellow readers. *waves*
The end of Chasing Pavements is here. Some of you will be overjoyed, some of you will miss this story. I hope it's the latter.
Read on and enjoy.
Epilogue - Part Two
A FEW YEARS LATER
Starbucks was my sanctuary. I went there so often that all I'd have to say was "Can I get a-" and the barista would already have my cup, pre-prepare and everything. Sad, I know.
There had been nights, way too many of them in fact, where I'd be working in my sketchbook on the brink of exhaustion, and one drop of coffee would be enough to revive me.
So, based on that context, anyone who knew me could guess where I was at the moment.
"Clary? Isn't it a little late for you to be here? It's nice to know you're taking advantage of our new 24-hour policy but-" Aline, the staff member who worked the night shift, eyed me skeptically.
"It's 11pm and I just really need something more than that 5 Hour Energy shit, okay? My artwork is being displayed at Idris's open house tomorrow and I am not even close to finished with one of my pieces. So, please, just give me anything with caffeine," I sighed deflatedly, slapping a $10 bill on the counter.
Casting me a look that was a mix between uncertainty and sympathy, she stuffed the money into the register and handed me a styrofoam cup, steaming with a freshly made espresso. I thanked her and bustled out the door, picturing in my mind the parts of my canvas that still needed some work-
I ran straight into something sturdy and would've thought it was a poorly placed lamp post if it wasn't for the fact that it spoke.
"Sorry, didn't see you there," apologized a slightly familiar voice. I brushed it off.
Glancing down at my cup and making sure the lid was still sealed I said, "It's no problem. Good thing my drink didn't spill on you, that would've been a disaster. Well, have a nice night!" With a nod, I eased around him.
His hand suddenly reached out and caught my arm, turning me in his direction. "Hey," I protested, struggling out of his grip, "what-"
Stepping into the dim glow of the crappily lit street lamps, I could now clearly see the guy's face. Strong jaw, blonde tousled hair, and those unnaturally golden eyes I knew all too well. "Clary?" he tilted his head.
"Jace." I tried to mask my surprise, but my voice came out strangled. "It's been a while."
"Three years to be exact."
"Yeah. I'm 21 now you know. Old enough to drink, young enough to still feel the socket where you tore out my heart," I seethed, putting venom into the last part. Taking a deep breath, I shook my head. "Sorry, that was uncalled for. It's just that seeing you again is making my thoughts go crazy."
Jace studied my face intently, his eyes searching for something, and asked, "What are you thinking about right now?"
Anger flared up inside me. "I'm debating whether or not I should pour my espresso on your head."
Exhaling, he stuck a hand in his coat pocket and said, "I wouldn't blame you if you did. What I did to you that day in your school's parking lot gives you every right to be bitter-"
"Damn right it does," I interjected. "Jace, you completely blindsided me when you broke us up. I loved you. I finally had you after all those years of confusion, misery, and thinking you hated me throughout high school. And I can't believe you were willing to give that up so quickly. I mean, you never even tried to make it work. We could've still been together right now if it wasn't for you!" I absentmindedly touched my cheek and found it wet with tears. I wiped at them harshly with my sleeve.
Jace's stare, once fixed on the sidewalk, abruptly moved up, and now we were looking at each other straight in the eye; Emerald glaring at gold.
"Clary, I hated myself every day for that choice. Did you honestly think it was easy for me? Driving away from you, fully knowing that you were standing there and crying because of what I'd done? I didn't want to. I loved you more than anything. But I truly believed, and still do, that I made the right decision. Say we did try to make it work. Skype calls, FaceTime, online chatting... it wouldn't have been enough. I'd see you, but you wouldn't be right in front of me. We'd grow distant and our relationship would change, I know it."
I stayed silent and he took this as a cue to continue.
"And just look at our lives now. I've seen you on the news, Clary. Youngest person to win Idris's prestigious Artist of the Year award? Several pieces of artwork already hanging on the walls of their official gallery? God, Clary, that's amazing. You have all this success and it might not have happened if we didn't separate. I would've held you back. As for me, I know I made the right choice not attending the business school here. The one in Washington has taught me tips and tricks I don't think I would've learned here."
"So, I'm supposed to accept the fact that my heartbreak was for the greater good? Part of the cause?" I finally answered. "Jace, maybe you are right. I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for our break up, considering that half my most successful drawings were inspired by the sadness and anger you caused me. But that fact won't change the pain I went through."
"I still love you, Clary," he said abruptly. "I'd do anything to make up for what I did to you. Just know that."
And at that moment, the reality of this situation just kind of sunk in. It was nearly midnight. I had homework to do. And here I was, talking to my ex in front of Starbucks. Which is where we had stood when we had our first real kiss four years ago, making us an official couple. I thought back to my words I had said on the day we separated. And if we meet again, then it must be fate.
"Clary?" Jace's perplexed tone brought me out of my thoughts. "You went blank for a minute. So. What I'm trying to say is... is it too late to use that 'second chance' coupon you made for me in 4th grade when I accidentally got juice all over your notebook? It's a stupid question, I know, but-"
"Technically, it's your third chance considering I gave you the second one on my 18th birthday," I indignantly corrected him. "And I have to do one last thing before I decide what I want to have happen."
I don't know what it was, whether it was 'fate' in action or that random burst of energy you suddenly get when you're tired for no reason, but my feet propelled towards him until we were so close our noses almost touched, and I kissed him. His lips brushed mine, light as a feather and hesitatingly, in response.
I needed certainty and not hesitation if I wanted to know for sure if we were meant to be.
I clutched him tightly and pulled him closer, parting my lips. It was like a switch flipped inside both our heads from Awkward Kiss to The Way We Were Before, and all of a sudden, he was returning the favor. Our tongues clashed against each other in a dance of needing and wanting as my hands roamed through the curly tendrils of his hair. I missed his soft lips moving against mine and the scent of a minty winter's day on his breath. We kissed like we were each other's air and both of us were suffocating. I put everything into that kiss, all my joy from before and my heartbreak from now.
And finally, I felt it, the thing I had been waiting for. A spark.
As our lips pressed against each other, intense and desperate, it continued to grow and grow to the point where it had turned into flames, burning brightly and spelling out a single word: love.
Oh God, I still loved Jace Lightwood. He had hurt me twice to the point where I wasn't sure if my heart would ever be able to function again, but with good reason for both. With him, I felt complete and whole and- and... My mind was grappling for words to latch onto. And...
"Happy," I breathed once we had broken apart. After a beat of silence, I said, "Jace, you're an asshole. You're selfish, way too obsessed with yourself, and have shit timing when it comes to relationships."
Jace's expression was unreadable, stony and emotionless, but his chest was rising and falling more rapidly than before.
"But," I continued, "for some reason that I'll never understand, you make me happy. I smile genuinely when I'm around you. You're everything I've ever really needed in my life to keep me stable: strong, witty, compassionate if you dig deep enough, and my best friend."
His golden eyes were blazing in the way they always did in moments like these, brighter than the sun. "You forgot blindingly gorgeous," he said, flashing a cocky grin.
"I- what?" I blinked.
"While naming off those wonderful traits of mine, you forgot to add gorgeous. Or handsome. Or hot enough to fry eggs on. Either synonyms will work."
My eyes narrowed. "Clearly, I forgot to mention arrogant too."
Stepping closer and tilting my chin up with his finger, he said, "And there's one last trait that has apparently escaped your mind: I'll always be yours, Clary. No matter what you choose, whether you want to give us another try or leave me in your past for good, just know that my heart belongs to you. So, can we start over, Clary?"
In the section of my brain that stored song lyrics I had memorized, one song came to mind. Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements? Even if they lead no where.
This moment, whatever it was, was fate. What were the odds that we'd meet again in the middle of New York City, years after we had separated? It was like someone up there was trying to tell me something.
And so I told Jace something, wrapping my arms around him and closing the space between us.
Hurray! You've reached the end (as shown above).
1. I'd like to say thank you for sticking with me through this journey. I love every single one of you for reading this. Yes, I'm talking to you. This story has had its ups and downs, and the fact that you kept reading makes me want to give you a congratulatory cupcake or something. But since I can't (dumb internet), just know that I thank you for everything.
2. Although the story is over, I have a semi-important Author's Note coming in the next chapter. I'll talk about why I was gone for those months, other writing related stuff, and...
3. I'll answer any questions if you have any. I doubt you guys will, but if you ever wondered about anything while reading this story, feel free to ask! I will answer all questions about anything & everything. It'll be sort of like a Q&A. So, yeah, leave your questions in a review!
Thank you. :] I know some people won't be pleased with the ending because, y'know, you can't please everyone, but I tried! Love you guys!