IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ:
Hello readers! I can't express how sorry I am for the (almost) year long hiatus. At the start of this past school year, I tried to juggle an extremely rigorous schedule with extracurriculars and fanfiction, and this year, college applications are also jumping into that mix.
I just wanted you guys to know that I appreciate all your continued support – they are my main source of inspiration! However, I won't be updating until second semester of senior year. Thank you all so, so much for sticking with me. Here's to Chapter Four, and I'll see you sometime in the spring!
"So, high school." Herondale folded his hands in front of him.
Jace stared at him queerly. What were his hands doing there, in front of his crotch? That was such an awkward position. He mentally made a reminder to never, ever sit like that.
He immediately shook his head to clear his thoughts. Seriously, he swore sometimes he still had the mindset of a prepubescent boy. "Yeah, freshmen year," he said, clearing his throat. "We became friends then."
"Kind of." His wife corrected as he rolled his eyes dramatically. Of course she would find faults with everything he said. "We came to a mutual understanding that we wouldn't hate each other anymore."
Herondale met this with raised eyebrows. "And why was that?"
"We had biology class together," Clary explained. "Oh, god. Mr. Morgenstern was a bastard."
Remembering the numerous times Clary got detention from the class, Jace began laughing. "You acted like shit in his class. Don't even try denying that." Catching Herondale's inquisitive stare, he didn't even need to wait for the lawyer to prompt him before launching into the story.
With football camp, family vacations, and hangouts with my friends, I hadn't seen Clary all summer long, so when third period Biology came, I practically barreled into the room. My eyes scanned the four corners of the classroom, instantly spotting her.
God, she had really grown over the summer, in many ways and places, not just height alone. Still significantly shorter than me, but then again, I was pretty tall and still on that upward track.
She was standing in a corner chatting with that rat-face…Simon, was it? Seriously, what did she even see in that nerd anyway? He had glasses that consumed half his face, an aesthetically pleasing splatter of acne covering his forehead (read: sarcasm), and a dirty brown mop of hair. Did he ever wash it?
I couldn't understand how my sister could stand being around him either. She and Clary were still best friends, and all three of them got along decently, but I knew that if Clary wasn't around, Isabelle would never voluntarily seek out that turd.
Not that she voluntarily looked for anyone, except Clary. Everyone approached her, worshipping her feet, kissing her ass.
Forgive me for saying this, but Isabelle was drop dead gorgeous. I couldn't remember how many times last year I'd threatened to beat some guy up for talking about shit he wanted to do to her. Most of them were high school students. I mean, seriously, saying that about a middle school girl? Not cool.
Kaelie, Aline, and Maia thirsted after Isabelle. The three most popular girls in school (or most easy, I should say) knew Isabelle would be a powerful asset to their group. Yeah, I knew Isabelle. She'd rather spend her time with rat-face than with them.
My sister wasn't known as the Ice Queen for nothing.
The teacher, Mr. Morgenstern, called for attention as the bell rang, assigning seats by random order. Since it was science, the desks were more like tables, long and designed for two lab partners, with a sink to the right.
Please put me next to Clary. Please put me next to Clary. Please, please, please.
"Jace Wayland, here. Clarissa Fray, to his left."
I nearly dropped to my feet and kissed the ground he walked on.
Mr. Morgenstern, I'm going to be the goddamned best student you'll ever have.
The class snickered, oblivious to my inner excitement, and I assumed a pained look, groaning loudly and making a spectacle of myself, somehow managing to remain attractive at the same time. Clary, glaring furiously, dragged herself over and sat down, scooting her chair as far left as possible.
Freshmen year was off to a good start.
"You know," Clary said just as Jace finished. "That was pretty rude. I actually wanted to talk about it, but you just jumped in and started blabbering away. Ever think of asking first?"
Her husband snorted. "And you're the epitome of politeness? Need I remind you of how 'polite' you were that year?"
"You do realize you didn't even get to the actual story, right? You talked about Isabelle for more than ten minutes."
"That's good," Herondale interjected, making Clary want to strangle him. "It helps to know a bit about your friends. They contribute to your lives and help me understand you guys better."
Jace shot a triumphant smirk in her direction, which she ignored. Grow up, would he?
"Besides," her husband said, "I knew you wanted to relay the information, so I thought I'd just give a little prelude before you began talking shit about me."
And talk shit she did. All the way until their session was over.
Perfect. Just perfect.
The very first day of high school, one of the most important days of my whole, entire life, and I just had to sit next to Jace of all people?
Oh, Mr. Morgenstern, boy are you going to regret this. I thought devilishly as Jace turned towards me with that infuriating smirk plastered all over his face. I knew from that moment that Mr. Morgenstern would hate me for being a pain in the ass.
"So," Jace drawled, his hand raking through his hair, making it roguishly unattractive.
"Do you have lice or something?" I asked, my thought filter apparently gone. His hand immediately froze and the bottom of his neck began flushing – until somehow he managed to stop the red mass from spreading to his face. So he could control his blushes – who cared?
Oh, who was I kidding? I couldn't even hide the tiniest blush. As if my red hair wasn't enough embarrassment, my face might as well be a constant shade of tomato too.
His mouth twisted and the muscles in his arms - which were okay, I guess. I didn't know what he'd done over the summer, but his arms looked…lean. Kind of – anyways…I digress. Where was I again?
"I was trying to make civil conversation, Fray. You don't have to act like you've got thorns sticking out your ass all the time, you know."
"Oh, I see," I spit back. "If 'thorns in ass' is civil, I guess telling you to 'go screw yourself' would be too?"
"Screw? Still such a goody-two-shoes, eh? Looks like nothing changed much over the summer, Carrot. Not even your height."
I had so grown taller. I was now a proud 5'2". Besides, he wasn't even thaaat much taller than me. Only six inches or so…
"Screw you, asshole!" I fumed.
Of course, right at that moment, Mr. Morgenstern would choose to whirl around. "Come again?"
The whole class, already knowing what the cause of the commotion would be, had already turned their heads expectantly towards us with hungry, eager glints reflecting off their eyes.
Well, since I was aiming to be that 'thorn in the ass', now wasn't such a shabby place to start, right?
"I said, 'Screw you, asshole,'" I repeated with false sassiness.
Jace stared at me with wide eyes.
"Still a goody-two-shoes, Goldilocks?" I hissed.
"And why would you say such a thing?" Mr. Morgenstern inquired, cocking an eyebrow. "Are you looking for a detention on the first day of school, Clarissa?"
Ha, like a detention means anything to me.
"No," I squeaked.
Thank you for abandoning me, bravery. You will be missed.
Honestly, personality wise, I wasn't a trouble maker. I was quiet. I did my work. I was friendly enough and had a group of supportive friends and classmates. I wasn't some meek girl who couldn't stand up for herself, but I was never aggressive or defiant without a reason.
And for the past few years, that reason had been Jace. No one quite knew how to push my buttons the way he did. He made me angry quicker than a firecracker could go pop. When we were together, I transformed into some monstrous sort of evil incarcerate.
I knew Mr. Morgenstern hated me from the first day of school, but I had no idea how much until March, when he assigned us our biology project.
Somehow, I had managed to survive an entire semester without committing suicide or strangling Jace with one of my many scarves. I kept our conversations in class short, focused only on conversations relating to science and practically boring both of us to death.
Our typical conversation went something like this:
"Why didn't you reply to my Facebook message last night? I needed help on that homework assignment."
"Oh? You sent a message? I didn't see it."
"Yeah, you did. It said, 'seen at 9:23.'"
"Oh, I must have forgotten about it then. I was really busy studying."
"No, you weren't. You were up until one in the morning talking to Isabelle."
"Oh. My bad."
"Yeah. You are bad."
Cue the snoring noises.
I acknowledged Jace's existence, and he tolerated mine. For the first time in six years, we were finally coexisting two feet apart without constant bickering. There were fights here and there, which earned me seven detentions, but I was finally able to keep my cool around Jace Wayland. The plan, which basically consisted of spending as little time and contact, flowed smoothly. Or so I thought, until…
"For your semester project, you will work with your lab partner – "
God damn, I muttered under my breath. I'm going to have to actually spend time with Jace?
Apparently I wasn't quiet enough, because a second later, Jace spat out, "Will we ever switch seats? Seriously. Do I have to spend even more time with her?"
His thumb jutted out fiercely at me like I was some type of STD.
Immediately my blood began boiling. "Don't worry, asshole," I hissed. "If there's anyone feeling more miserable than you, it's me."
The class's attention towards our teacher instantly evaporated as our thirsty bloodhound-like classmates veered in our direction, anticipating an argument after a dry spell of over two months.
Now immune to our outbursts, Mr. Morgenstern merely scribbled another detention for me while stating, "Clarissa. Tone down the language. I suggest washing your mouth with soap. I have a bar in my drawer if you need to borrow some. As I was saying…"
At that moment, any neutral feelings I had for Jace whisked away like smoke disappearing from a campfire. My hatred resumed with a burning passion. So maybe the anger was a bit misdirected, but the asshole still taunted me into swearing. He knew what Mr. Morgenstern would do.
"…your project is to research on an assigned topic and create a poster board of your findings. You will create a short film as well as a class set of brochures to accompany your in-class presentation."
Hearing the massive amount of work to be done, our class groaned simultaneously. Disregarding our complaints, Mr. Morgenstern proceeded to walk down the aisles, assigning topics: biomes – the tundra, the boreal forest, the rainforest; human body systems – the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the gastrointestinal system; the list stretched forever.
I zoned out, trying my best to ignore Jace's goading stare, which was burning a hole in a back of my head, until our teachers polished shoes appeared in my line of vision. I lifted my head from my desk, just in time to catch an evil glint reflecting in those cold eyes.
I swear the man wanted to chain me up and send me to the devil. "You guys will be researching about a form of bacteria reproduction called conjugation, where the cells actually come together via a sex pili."
He strolled away with nasty smile directed at me.
Seriously, wasn't he supposed to be more mature than that?
"Great," I muttered, burying my face in my hands. "Of course we just have to get the only topic in class that concerns sex."
Jace grinned, any trace of previous irritation gone. In fact, he almost looked ecstatic.
I rolled my eyes. Boys and their mood changes. And they complained we were the ones who PMS'd.
"What dirty thoughts are you thinking of?" He teased.
"Nothing concerning you," I said coolly.
"Bacteria sex," he winked slyly, edging closer to wrap an arm around the back of my chair like we were sharing a secret. I stared at his hand, dangling near my shoulder, with absolute disgust. (Okay, so maybe I wasn't that disgusted, but still. Gross.)
"We could demonstrate it," he continued. "You be the F+ cell, baby, and I'll be the F- cell, and we can perform it during our presentation."
"Hell no!" I choked.
"Awwww, baby, live a little," he cooed.
I opened my mouth, about to tell him to shut up with the nicknames, but before I could say anything, another voice cut in harshly, "Leave the poor girl alone, will you, Wayland?"
Simon stood behind us, glaring daggers at Jace's arm, still slung around my chair.
Ah, Simon. Thank god he was here.
Jace chuckled darkly. "Finally grown a backbone, have you, Lewis? Are your knees knocking together in fear of talking to me?"
I shot Jace a nasty look. "Stop being so mean."
As expected, he ignored me. "Your girlfriend has more courage than you," he taunted.
Face flushed, Simon tugged at my arm before stalking out the classroom, the door slamming shut behind him.
"Look what you did!" I said, irritation lacing my voice. "Are you able to be anything but a complete asshole for once?"
When Jace failed to respond, I glanced up, noting the slightly hurt expression crossing his face. I didn't have time to dwell on it, though, as I hurried into the hall after my best friend.
"I just can't stand him!" Simon exploded as soon as I exited the room. He was pacing back and forth, glasses crooked on his nose, fingers clenched in the sides of his pants. "He is such a bastard. Everything that spews from his disgusting mouth is vile!"
I must have looked a bit frightened, because seeing the look on my face, he took a deep breath and stopped stomping. Simon rarely lost his cool.
"Sorry," he said, casting an apologetic look in my direction. "I didn't mean to freak you out. He just gets to me sometimes."
"Don't worry," I said dryly. "I know from experience."
"I wonder how Isabelle manages it," he sighed. "God knows she's amazing."
"I don't know about God," I teased, glad that he was back to normal. "But then again, she's not the center of my world."
Simon rolled his eyes. "It's a crush, Clary. Get over it. I'm over it. We both know she's not going to ever date someone like me."
I didn't bother denying that. Isabelle was…Isabelle. She was an amazing friend who had your back, but she had her faults – one of which was her obsession with image.
"She says Jace isn't as bad as he used to be," I said. "Apparently he grew up a bit over the summer."
Simon threw me an incredulous look. "Are you defending him?"
"What? No! I'm just restating what Isabelle said."
"You better be," he muttered. "You guys are working on a damned project together now. You're going to be spending hours alone with him. God, if you start…"
He shook his head and opened the classroom door, signaling the end of our conversation.
And that was how I knew this project would test my friendship with Simon.