Hey there, Shadowhunters, Downworlders and demons! (That's right, no discrimination here! :P)

I know, I know, I should be updating The Last Letters, but this was something that I had to write for school (be jealous of homeschoolers- we get the cool assignments), and I figured 'Why not post this sucker?'. Basically, the assignment was to write a short story that was no more than 1,000 words (not counting author's notes, this fic has 956) where the inciting incident was only mentioned (not depicted) and that ended with dialogue. So, here's the product! :D I got 100% on this assignment, btw (and I'm graded from a rubric- my mom was not being a partial grader).

Okay, enough rambling. Enjoy!

"Jace, stop!" Clary cried, chasing after her boyfriend. Jace flung open the Institute's door and stormed out into the dark rainy night, raising his hood over his face. Clary followed him.

"I don't want to talk." Jace growled, gritting his teeth. "Leave me alone." Raindrops ran down his nose and clustered in his eyelashes like tears. Clary wrapped her bare arms around her torso, shivering slightly in the cool air. She reached out hesitantly to touch Jace's arm.

"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I didn't mean to make you upset. I just-"her voice broke slightly as Jace turned away from her. "I just wish you would tell me what's wrong." Jace spun on his heel, his eyes blazing.

"What's wrong?!" he hissed, the sheer anger in his voice causing Clary to flinch away from him. "How can you not know what's wrong? Alec is a mess. Isabelle goes out drinking almost every night and doesn't come home until the next morning. My parents hate each other. I'm the only one trying to keep it together. And now the Clave wants to call off the manhunt for Sebastian." Jace's chin began to tremble. He ducked his head, letting the rainwater pour off from his hood.

"He took my little brother." Jace whispered, turning away from Clary. "And they no longer want to make him pay."

Clary's heart broke just hearing the pain in Jace's voice. Setting two fingers under Jace's chin, she tilted his face so he was forced to look at her. Clary blinked some rain and tears out of her eyes and gazed steadily into Jace's dark and unreadable ones.

"That's what's wrong." Jace muttered. "And I didn't want anyone to know."

"Because it makes you weak?" Clary asked, knowing full well what the answer would be. Jace nodded. Clary could almost feel his usual tough exterior begin to crumble and she could see that Jace was struggling not to lose control; gripping tightly to his hard, callous shell so no one would see the raw exposed wounds underneath. But there they were, gaping open for only Clary to see.

Jace moved to sit on the steps of the Institute, all bravado gone. He slumped forward, resting his head on his knees. Clary's throat constricted. Never had she seen Jace look so defeated. She knelt next to him, ignoring the cold water seeping through her jeans.

"Jace." She said. He ignored her. "Jace, look at me." She said, more firmly this time. Jace turned his head to face hers, keeping his eyes shut and the side of his head resting on his knees. Leaning forward, Clary placed a gentle kiss on Jace's cheek.

"I love you," she whispered in his ear. "I will always love you. You are not weak. Even if you fell apart right here, right now, you still would not be weak." Jace opened his eyes slightly, staring at Clary reproachfully.

"I can't fall apart. That isn't the Shadowhunter way." Clary rested her forehead on Jace's shoulder.

"Then forget that you're a Shadowhunter, Jace!" Her voice rose. "Just pretend for one second that you're nothing but a normal boy who just lost his baby brother and isn't allowing himself to grieve. It's not healthy, Jace!" She stood and began to pace in agitation, Jace's golden eyes following her every move. "Do you know how many times I've heard you wake up screaming? Or how many nights I've seen you cry in your sleep? It's killing me!" Tears filled Clary's eyes. "It's killing me because I can't help you. You're suffering, but you won't let me- heck, you won't let anyone- try to help you! Do you enjoy this? Do you enjoy self-destructing while the ones you love try so desperately to fix you?"

"So don't try!" Jace roared, standing to his feet and bearing down on his girlfriend. "Maybe I don't want your help. Maybe I can do this on my own!"

"But you can't!" Clary screamed back. "And you won't! I know you, Jace Wayland. You would let everyone you love slip away from you just to punish yourself. You're holding onto everything, bottling it up inside, just because you can't stand to make yourself feel something. You're keeping this pain inside you as a punishment."

"You're right!" Jace shouted, utterly fed up. "I am punishing myself. I should've been there. I should have been there to stop that psychopath from bashing Max's head in. I should have been the one killed. Me!" Jace's voice cracked and he covered his face with his hands, sitting on the steps once again. Thunder rumbled overhead.

"I should have died," Jace whispered again, tears leaking from his closed eyelids. He felt Clary's gentle fingers remove his hands from his face and felt her forehead touch his. The rain continued to pour down from the sky, pounding on their heads. He opened his eyes and stared into her green orbs. She lightly rested her palm on his cheek.

"It's okay." Clary murmured. Jace inhaled a shaky breath. Clary wound her arms around Jace's stomach, feeling him shiver through the soaked fabric of his shirt. He rested his head on her shoulder, and she felt his body began to shake as the tears that he had held inside him were finally released.

The rain let up soon after, but Clary and Jace stayed where they were, with Jace's head buried in Clary's neck and Clary's hands gently running through Jace's wet hair. Finally, after what seemed like an age, Jace lifted his head, facing Clary.

"I'm sorry." He whispered an apology for shouting at her, breaking her heart and breaking down in front of her. Clary shook her head.

"Don't. There's nothing to be sorry for."

So there you have it! The product of a school assignment, a rainy day and an overwhelming urge to write some Jace/Clary hurt/comfort. I hope y'all enjoyed, and as always, feel free to let me know what you thought! Please cut me some slack- I'm still new to the TMI fandom... :)

Have a fabulous week, my friends!