I dragged my feet as I walked into the apartment sluggishly. It wasn't even that late when Max and I got back from the wedding, but I felt so tired; maybe it was emotional exhaustion. My mind replayed the evening over and over, lingering on the memories of kissing Clary; I wished she had come back here with me.
I shuffled over to the kitchen, tossed my dress jacket over a chair back, and grabbed a beer out of the fridge. It had been a long evening, and I just needed one more drink before I headed to bed. I unscrewed the cap and brought the bottle to my lips; the carbonation fizzled and popped in my mouth as the cold liquid raced down my throat. I lowered the bottle as I glanced up to see Max shedding like a snake; his shoes had already been kicked off and his dress shirt unbuttoned, but I watched as he shimmied his shirt off and drop it on the ground carelessly. His belt was off next, left randomly on his path to the couch. Then his pants came off, he dropped them haphazardly on the coffee table, but they slid off and fell to the floor; he didn't seem to notice or care. He plopped down on the couch, pulled off his socks, one at a time, and rolled them into a ball before he chucked them across the room aimlessly. At least when he left tomorrow, his mess would as well. He looked over at me enthusiastically.
"Can I have a beer?" God knew I was drinking beer by the time I was his age.
"Fine…Sure…Just don't tell mom." He flew off the couch like the place was on fire as I headed into the living room. It wasn't long before he was seated on the couch next to me, a shit eating grin on his face as he took a long swig from his beer. I was clicking through the channels, but there really wasn't anything good on television.
"So what's going on at home?" Max shrugged.
"Did you hear mom applied for a position in Boston?"
"I thought she told you…It'd be at some children's hospital there-"
"Boston Children's Hospital?" I asked incredulously.
"I'm not sure, but that sounds about right."
"Wow…That'd be a great career move for her…That's the number one ranked children's hospital in the U.S…When did she apply?"
"I don't remember, but she was offered the position a few days ago, she told them she needed to think about it…I think she has to let them know tomorrow."
"She was already offered the position?...Shit!…I can't believe she didn't tell me."
"Can I have another one?" I looked over at Max as he held his beer up.
"You already drank that?" He nodded.
"Sure, just one more." He popped off the couch and hastily headed towards the kitchen. He headed back into the living room a moment later with a Guinness in hand; I really couldn't imagine him drinking that. I watched skeptically as he took a swig of his beer, but he quickly scrunched up his face as he pulled the bottle away.
"This isn't very good." I chuckled.
"I didn't think you'd like it…Get something else then…" He put the bottle down on the coffee table and headed back into the kitchen.
"…You're going into your junior year in the fall. What's going to happen with you and school if mom moves to Boston?" He shrugged as he sat down next to me. His eyes were on the bottle of Bud Light in his hand as he despondently picked at the label; the disappointed look on his face was crystal clear.
"I'd have to go with her, switch schools…It'd suck." I put my hand on his shoulder reassuringly. I knew Max took it really hard when dad moved to Yale, and then when Alec moved to California. He hadn't said anything to me directly, but I knew he was probably upset I was going to be moving too. The possibility of mom moving to Boston, and him being ripped out of school and away from his friends, had to be rough on him.
"Are you upset I'm moving to Stanford?..." He shrugged with his eyes still on his bottle of beer as he peeled the corner of the label.
"…Max, it won't be that bad…I'm still going to see you all the time." He looked up at me with a little glare.
"Yeah right, that's what Alec said, and I barely ever see him."
"And dad?...Is that what he told you too?" He pulled his shoulder away from me and took a long swig from his beer without answering. I took a deep breath.
"Maybe I won't go." He looked back up at me quizzically.
"What do you mean?" I shrugged.
"I don't know…I mean…It was something I've wanted to do for a long time now, but, maybe that's the only reason I really keep thinking I need to go…I actually applied to Columbia and I was accepted, but I declined…Maybe I can contact my advisor, see if there's anyway I can get into the fall program…If I want to transfer to Stanford down the road, I always could…I can't see mom selling the house, not right away, she'd want to make sure things worked out in Boston first…If mom kept the house until you graduate, which I know is a stretch, we're talking two years, but, maybe I can work something out with Izzy, whenever she's traveling for work, I'll stay at the house, commute to class, you won't have to change schools your junior year-"
"Really?" He looked so excited. I downed the last of my beer and took a deep breath.
"I'm just thinking out loud right now, Max, don't get your hopes up…" I noticed absentmindedly that Max must have finished his second beer because he placed the bottle down and grabbed the Guinness off the coffee table. Whether he'd strategically set this up to finagle another beer out of me or not, I wasn't sure, nor did I care at the moment; I'd cut him off after this one.
"…Let's see if mom takes that job first." I'd have to figure out what Clary planned on doing too. If she was set on going back to London, it would likely turn into Clary and I having to do the long distance thing, at least for the fall semester. I'd never be able to apply for the fall semester enrollment to any of the universities in London, nor would Clary be able to apply for the fall semester here; it was just too late for fall admissions. If the universities in London were like the ones I'd looked at in the U.S., they may not even offer a spring admissions into Medical School. I couldn't lose a whole year, and I knew it would be selfish for me to ask Clary to put her education on hold if I wasn't willing to. If I could get into Columbia though, at least New York was a lot closer flight to London than California was. Of course, even getting into the fall program at Columbia would mean someone pulling strings for me, and had I not already been accepted and declined my admission offer, I doubt anyone could do anything for me. I needed to call my advisor on Monday and see if he thought I had a chance of reinstating my admissions offer.
I couldn't help noticing how Max kept tipping his Guinness back further and further; he was pounding that thing. He finally pulled the beer bottle away and let out a loud belch.
"It's empty, I'm getting another…You want anything?" He went to stand up, but I grabbed at his arm.
"Easy now…You just drank three beers in like fifteen minutes…Slow down there." He plopped back down on the couch with a huff.
"Do you still have your Wii, or did Aline take it along with everything else?" I chuckled. Aline did pretty much strip the apartment when she left.
"I still have it. It's not hooked up, but it's in the cabinet under the television, all the pieces should be there, I'm sure you can figure it out…I'm going to go to bed." I stood to leave, but I didn't even take a step before he responded.
"Will you play with me?" I looked back at him and I couldn't help but smirk. There was something in his eyes, something in the way he'd asked me the question; it reminded me of when he was much younger, maybe six or seven.
To say I slept poorly Saturday night, would suggest I slept at all, but as I dragged myself out of bed for the third time to the sound of Christopher's piercing cries, I really wasn't sure if at any point I'd actually fallen asleep. I was really hoping he'd get over his jetlag and adjust to the new time zone soon; he stayed up from two to four for absolutely no apparent reason whatsoever.
As little as I slept, tossing and turning, my mind spinning, I still had no idea how I was going to tell Jace about Christopher. The only thing I'd decided for sure, was that showing up on Jace's doorstep with Christopher, would be too much of a shock. I was going to leave Christopher at Magnus's, then after I figured out how to tell Jace, I could run upstairs and get Christopher. Of course, I knew in the back of my head, that leaving Christopher with Magnus, gave me an out from telling Jace all together.
It was just about eight by the time I was showered with my hair and make-up done; although I still had no idea what I was going to wear. I wasn't sure how Jace wanted to spend the day, although we'd only have a couple hours before I had to get Christopher, and once we had Christopher with us, that would really limit our options. It was still a date though, and I wanted to dress up a bit, but I didn't want to be overdressed. I saw that I recently had a missed call from Simon, so I called him back as I thumbed through my wardrobe looking for something to wear.
"Give me a second…" Simon's voice was a quiet whisper.
"…Hey, don't get the wrong impression, nothing happened, but is there a trick to how to wake Izzy up?" I let out with somewhere between a small laugh and a snort.
"A trick? I don't know…I've never actually woken up before Izzy…What's going on?"
"Well, she's still asleep…We closed down the bar, didn't get back to my mom's until almost 5:00, but my mom just jumped in the shower and I need Izzy gone before she gets out; you know how my mom is." Oh yes I did.
"Izzy slept over?" I asked incredulously with thick amusement in my tone.
"Oh shut up! It's not nearly as exciting as it sounds, Clary, I slept on the floor last night, which was not comfortable at all mind you, and now I have a kink in my neck. I bought her drinks all night, and watched as she flirted with just about every guy in the bar, except me…She threw up out the taxi window, while he was driving, which he was pretty pissed off about, and then she passed out…I tried waking her up when we got to my mom's, just to make sure she was going to be alright, but she was barely responsive…I couldn't watch the taxi drive off with her like that, I'd feel responsible if something happened to her…" I yanked a blue cotton summer dress off a hanger and held it up to me in front of the mirror. I kind of wanted to wear a dress, seeing this was a date, but I didn't want to dress up too much. This dress wasn't really fancy, just something I'd gotten the year before to wear to the beach, but it was versatile; I could easily dress it up or down. It was comfortable too, and airy; perfect if we had another hot day like yesterday. It wouldn't be the best thing for nursing Christopher, but the tank top like straps pushed off my shoulders, so it wouldn't be horrible either.
"…I debated bringing her home and then going back to my mom's, but the bar was like a ten minute ride to my mom's apartment, and it was going to take the taxi like a half hour to get out to Izzy's house, which meant if he dropped her off first, it would have taken another hour plus before I got home; so I just asked Izzy if she wanted to sleep over, and in a disoriented state, I think she said she did. I pretty much carried her inside, she could barely walk, so she'll probably have no idea where she is when she wakes up…Of course, my mom's not going to care about any of that if she catches Izzy here, she's just going to flip out…She was already mad…Oh wait…Not mad, because it was all about the guilt…She was disappointed with me yesterday that I couldn't make time to go to synagogue with her, but I could make time to sit through a Christian wedding…I told her I was pretty sure God was going to show up at both places, but she looked at me like she was about to have a heart attack..." I could hear him working up to a tangent about his mother, but he sounded like he really needed to vent, so I didn't interrupt. I dug through my bureau drawer for underwear. I usually just wore boring tan nursing bras since Christopher had been born, but I did not want to wear one of those today; no matter how much I told myself that Jace and I were doing this all slow, I was still planning for anything and everything. I dug to the bottom of my drawer before I found what I was looking for; I had one thong and nursing bra matching set that I thought were pretty sexy, they were soft like satin, cherry red, and the bra was a lined pushup bra with lace trim; Jace was going to love this…I mean…If he saw it…Which he wouldn't…Because we were doing this all slow! Dammit! I nearly put the bra and underwear back, debating if I was just inviting trouble by wearing them, but I ultimately put them on.
"…And finding out any girl slept in my bed would be bad enough, but you know how my mother is, once she realizes Izzy isn't Jewish, she's going to finally have that stroke she keeps telling me I'm going to give her…I mean, she doesn't have anything against Christians per se, you know that, she just wants me to marry a nice Jewish girl and give her little Jewish grandchildren, and she's really been on my case since you had Christopher-" I heard a blood piercing scream through the phone and I quickly pulled the phone away from my ear; it sounded like Izzy.
"What the hell was that?" I could hear laughing, but it wasn't Simon.
"I opened…my eyes…to these eyes…staring back at me…but I didn't realize…what it was…at first…so I just…automatically…screamed…Next thing…I know…I see this fur ball…with a tail…take off…under the bed…" Izzy choked out while laughing; her voice was a little obscured, but I could tell it was her.
"…Do you have a cat?" Simon let out an irritated noise.
"Shit!..." Simon's voice was a low grumble.
"…I'm fine, mom…I know, I'm sorry, don't have a heart attack…That was Clary, I have her on speaker phone…She's fine too, she just saw a spider...Give me a minute, I'm getting dressed…She's on the phone mom, why does it matter if I get dressed while I talk to her?…" I couldn't hear Simon's mother, but I could hear him yelling to her and I couldn't help but chuckle.
"…I'll call you back later, Clary…Just a minute, mom!"
"You better-" Simon hung up before I could even finish.
When Jace called Sunday morning to see if there was any chance I'd be willing to pick him up and bring him back to the church to get his car, I found myself saying I'd bring him. I'd be lying if I said my willingness to spend half my day carting Jace around had nothing to do with the slight chance of running into another one of the residence of his apartment complex; Magnus. It wasn't even ten minutes after Jace hung up the phone that he called back to say he'd changed his mind, he'd just get his car later, but I was already fairly excited at the prospect of seeing Magnus, so without a second thought, I offered to come pick up Max. Well, when I finally got to Jace's apartment complex, I was second guessing my decision to come all the way out here; I couldn't help wondering if my eagerness to see Magnus might very well borderline on obsessed. I parked in the parking garage, and as the elevator doors opened to the apartment complex lobby, my hopes and fears collided when I saw Magnus looking back at me. As excited as I was to see him, my mind suddenly went blank. He smirked as he stepped onto the elevator, a look closer to amusement than enthusiasm, and I could feel heat coming to my cheeks in response.
"Stalking me now?" He jested as he pressed the button for the forty-third floor. I couldn't help but make a mental note of which floor he lived on. God, did that make me a stalker?
"I ah…No." I chuckled uncomfortably. He was wearing a pair of long black silk looking pajama bottoms and a vibrant merlot fitted tank top. I couldn't help noticing the muscular definition to his arms, the way his tank top clung tightly to his lean body. His hair was flat and a little messy; as though he'd just rolled out of bed. He was holding what appeared to be his mail. I couldn't get over how confident he was; I would never feel comfortable walking around in what I could only assume were pajamas. I still couldn't think of a single thing to say to him.
"Do you know someone that lives on the twenty-second floor? If I recall, that's the floor Clary said she use to live on."
"Ah…" I glanced over at the two lights lit up on the elevator panel; 22 and 43.
"…My brother lives on the twenty-second floor." One side of his lip pulled up ever so slightly into a smirk.
"So I'll be seeing a lot more of you then?" I swallowed hard.
"Um, yeah, I guess."
"Did he live here when Clary lived in the building?"
"Um, yeah…They lived together." His lip pulled up even more. I vaguely registered as the elevator doors dinged open, but my concentration was primarily on Magnus.
"I think this is your stop." He commented with a chuckle. I glanced over to see what floor we were on; 22.
"Yeah…Yeah it is." I felt like an idiot as I turned and stepped off the elevator.
"You wouldn't have time for a cup of coffee would you?" I could feel my cheeks burning up as I looked back at Magnus; he was holding the door open with a sexy smirk. I couldn't help the dumb smile that pulled across my lips.
"I ah…I can't." I wasn't even sure where that came from; why didn't I say yes. I could just tell Jace I was running late or stuck in traffic. Magnus retracted his hand with a curious twinkle in his eyes.
"Another time perhaps." I stood there frozen as I watched the elevator doors close. Why didn't I just say yes?
I remembered the days I use to pack light; not anymore. It took three trips for me to bring all of Christopher's stuff up to Magnus's apartment, and running later than expected, always running later than expected, it took me another twenty minutes to escape the rigmarole of questions Magnus had about Jace and pry myself away from Magnus's apartment.
Standing in front of Jace's door, I would have thought I'd be more eager to knock, but at the moment, I was wishing I was anywhere but here. It came down to willpower really, and my willpower to resist Jace seemed to be directly proportional to proximity; the closer I was to Jace, the harder it was to resist him. Meeting him here, like this, just the two of us, wasn't a good idea and I knew it. I could feel my resolve wavering as my mind and judgment started to cloud with images of him kissing me, holding me, making love to me; I pulled out my cell phone in one last gallant attempt to be strong. If I didn't do something fast, Jace and I would be alone in that apartment, and no matter what delusions I tried to convince myself of otherwise, I already knew exactly where that would lead. The best thing I could do right now was to suggest we meet somewhere else, somewhere less private. My cell had just started to ring when Jace's door suddenly opened. I could hear Jace's phone ringing from his pocket, and I absentmindedly thought the ring tone sounded so familiar, but I couldn't place it.
"Hey what are you doing standing out here for?" Jace had a huge smile on his face and a large garbage bag in hand. I was glad I hadn't dressed up too much, he was just wearing tan cargo shorts and a tucked in blue polo shirt nearly the same color as my dress. I couldn't help smirking at the thought that we matched.
"I was just going to call you to let you know I was here." Nice, I tell Jace we need to be honest with each other, and the first words out of my mouth are a lie.
"Oh, you could have knocked…" He smirked and I chuckled uncomfortably.
"…You look beautiful…" I couldn't help but smile and he leaned towards me; it was obvious he was going in for a kiss, but I turned my head to the side and he ended up kissing my cheek. This was going terribly.
"…I'm just bringing out the trash, I'll be right back…You know where everything is, make yourself at home." I gave a little nod and took a couple steps inside as he headed out to the garbage shoot. I didn't go very far, I stood just inside the open door, waiting for him to come back; as soon as he returned, I was going to suggest we go out. The absentminded familiarity of the ring tone Jace had for me was slowly becoming a nagging thought I couldn't shake; what was that song? As soon as Jace came back into view, I was already trying to gently propose we should leave.
"Hey…You know that little café about a block away-"
"The one with the cannoli you always pick up for my mom?" I smiled. Simon's actually the one that always gets cannoli there for Maryse, but it was the correct café.
"Yeah, that one…I was thinking we could have coffee there." He smirked.
"One step ahead of you…I already ran over there this morning and picked up some cannoli…I got some of every kind they had; the original ricotta one, the vanilla one with chocolate chips, and the one with the chocolate dipped wafer." He shut the door and it was an irony really, because as the door shut, I saw my window of opportunity close; I wasn't getting out of this apartment any time soon.
"Wow, that sounds so good…You know what else they have there-"
"Biscotti? Already got some of that too…I also picked up a variety of bagels and your favorite cream cheeses…Chive, strawberry, and maple walnut…I also got bacon, sausage, and eggs if you want an omelet or anything…And I got stuff to make waffles and pancakes…And I picked up strawberries and blueberries too…Oh, and Champaign, if you want…And orange juice…We could make mimosas…And I almost forgot I got us whipped cream…For the pancakes and waffles I mean…Or you can put it on the strawberries and blueberries if you'd like…Or anything really…" There was definitely an amused look in Jace's eyes and a smirk across his lips as he looked down and away from me. I tried so hard to suppress the smile that was sneaking out, because as much as I had the urge to call him out about the whipped cream, I didn't; the last thing I needed right now was to encourage sexual innuendos.
"…Oh, and I got those hash browns in the freezer section that look like the ones you get at McDonalds…I also picked up a couple things we could have for lunch…Or we could just go out." Jace knew exactly what I liked, which was sweet, and thoughtful, but completely not helpful at the moment.
"Sounds like you thought of everything."
"I tried, but I'm sure there will be something I'll realize I forgot at some point...I haven't had much food in the apartment lately…I've been getting a lot of take out…Anyway, what can I get you?" Jace had just finished washing his hands and he was drying them as he looked back at me expectantly.
"Ah…" I hesitated as I glanced towards the closed door one more time. Dammit! I couldn't think of a single good reason to leave.
"…How about coffee for starters." I somewhat reluctantly headed over to the kitchenette and pulled out a barstool; I figured this would be a little safer than sitting on the couch. Jace had his back to me as he poured a cup of coffee, but glanced over his shoulder as I dragged the barstool across the floor; he smirked.
"I figured we'd sit in the living room, it will be more comfortable." He turned back towards the coffee as he reached for the sugar.
"Just two spoonfuls of sugar, no creamer." He didn't turn back to me, but I could see the corner of his lips turn up in a smile.
"I remember." I bit at my bottom lip anxiously as I sat on the stool, making no attempt to move towards the living room. Jace turned around with a coffee cup in each hand. He placed one of the coffee cups down in front of me.
"Here, go get comfortable. I'll just grab the cannoli and biscotti and be right there." I forced a little smile as I reached out and grabbed the cup of coffee. I looked down at my cup as I tried desperately to think of a reason to stay put where I was.
"Are you coming?" I glanced up at Jace; he was juggling two boxes from the bakery and his coffee cup as he headed into the living room. I followed him apprehensively.
"I had a lot of fun last night." He remarked as he sat down seemingly casually and put the bakery boxes on the coffee table. I could tell from the tense set of his shoulders and the way he leaned forward in his seat, he wasn't as relaxed as he was trying to act, although neither was I. I nodded slightly as I placed my cup down on the coffee table, but I didn't sit down next to him; I decided to walk around the living room instead. I walked over to the single picture hanging where my mother's painting use to; it looked like hotel art. It was an abstract of a tree, it wasn't awful, but it wasn't all that interesting either.
"This is the part that you say you had fun too." He commented sarcastically. I rolled my eyes without looking back at him.
"I had fun too." I heard movement, although I didn't turn around. Jace came up behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders and my entire body tensed.
"It's a horrible painting…I know."
"It's not horrible." He chuckled as he rubbed his hands down my arms to my elbows and back up again. I could feel every muscle in my arms tensing at his touch. It wasn't so much that I didn't want him to touch me, as that I had to use every ounce of strength I had to keep my guard up. I knew I could lose control with him so easily and a large part of me wanted to do just that.
"I thought we weren't going to lie to each other anymore." He whispered sarcastically into my ear and all I could think about was how intoxicating his cologne was; god I loved the way he smelled. He leaned down and placed a kiss against my cheek and my body tensed further. I couldn't explain to him how I felt every time he touched me in the slightest. I pulled away from him and walked over to the entertainment center. Jace shadowed me, never more than a step away. I was trying to act casual, but I doubted Jace was buying it. An awkward silence fell between us as I randomly reached out and picked up the few books and movies that were sparsely laid out on the shelves. I assumed Jace hadn't done much rearranging after Aline stripped the shelves of her things.
"When I got here, your phone was ringing…I assume it's the ring tone you have set for me, seeing I was calling you at the time…What song was that?" I wasn't really sure why I'd asked, maybe I just felt compelled to fill in the uncomfortable silence, or perhaps my curiosity had finally gotten the best of me.
"Oh…It's by Journey…Open Arms." My breath caught and I froze; my hand on a random movie. I felt my hair being pushed off my shoulder from behind and I glanced up at Jace.
"We danced to that song at my junior prom…It was the first slow song we ever danced to." He smiled.
"I know." Jace pressed a soft kiss to my shoulder and a chill passed over me as goose bumps rose along my arms. I might have pulled away from him, if I wasn't so distracted.
"You remembered that?…You remembered our first dance?…You remembered the song we danced to?" Jace glanced up at me through his eyelashes as he peppered my shoulder with butterfly kisses.
"I told you…" Jace pressed one more kiss to my shoulder before he pulled back slightly. My eyes betrayed me as I glanced down at his lips, just inches from mine. I licked my lips reflexively before I gazed back into his smoldering eyes.
"…I've been in love with you since the day we met..." Jace's warm minty breath washed over me as he spoke, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to kiss him. I glanced down to his lips again, and I couldn't bring myself to turn away as he leaned in; Jace's lips pressed firmly against mine as he turned me in his arms. It was just an afterthought that I had been holding a movie in my hands, a thought that didn't even cross my mind until the movie bounced off my foot; I didn't look down, I didn't want to break the kiss. I rested my hands against Jace's chest and his arms tightened around me as he deepened the kiss; our tongues clashed together in a feverish battle. When he finally pulled away, I was nearly dizzy. He moved his lips to my cheek, the edge of my jaw line, then up towards my ear.
"…Now you can't say I've never kissed you when I was sober…" His lips urgently returned to mine as he took a step backwards, and I awkwardly stumbled forward over the movie I'd already forgotten about. He tightened both his arms around me to help steady me as the urgency in his kisses subsided some. He peppered my lips with a few more butterfly kisses before he pulled back.
"…Max is still here…" He brought his lips to mine for another soft kiss.
"…So maybe we could just hang out in my bedroom and talk until he takes off." He brought his lips to mine again for another whisper of a kiss. I'm not even certain where the surge of discipline came from, but a small scolding voice in the back of my head was adamantly reminding me I had to tell Jace about Christopher before I got carried away. I rolled my eyes and shook my head as I tried to hide the smile that was glued to my face.
"Slow, remember, Jace?..." I pulled out of Jace's arms and bent down to pick up the movie I'd dropped; Jace mirrored my action as he stooped down as well.
"…We are going to do this all slow, which means, this is not going to end up with us…in bed...We are not going to pickup where we left off yesterday, so if that's what you were thinking, you need to just forget about that…We said we were going to talk today, remember?...And we have so much to talk about, Jace…I mean, seven months went by, that's quite a bit of time; a lot can happen in seven-" I was rambling, terribly, and talking way too fast. Jace's hand reached out and rested over mine as I started to stand, which made me freeze and stop mid sentence as I looked up to see the terribly amused look on his face.
"We can watch that movie if you really want, I mean, I know you like romantic love stories with happy endings, and that movie has all of that, but I really don't think you're going to like it..." I could hear the amusement thick in Jace's tone. I hadn't even paid attention to what I'd picked up, but as I looked back down at the title, I was fairly certain it was porn. I dropped the movie to the floor and popped up off the ground as though I was fleeing from a poisonous spider.
"…See, I told you that there was probably something I forgot about…" Jace started with a chuckle as he snatched the movie up off the ground and stood up.
"…I probably should have hid that or something, huh?" Jace didn't really get embarrassed, at least, not that he'd ever let on to me, and he didn't look embarrassed at the moment, just amused; me on the other hand, my cheeks felt like they were on fire. Jace took a half a step closer to me, reached up, and pushed his hand into my hair. The deep craving look in Jace's eyes was unmistakable as his gaze bounced between my eyes and my lips. I'd seen this look in Jace's eyes before, this look of complete desire; he looked at me this way the night we made love. I knew I should stop this, knew it was important that we talk, but before I could formulate a single word, let alone an entire sentence, Jace's lips were against mine again. After a deep passionate kiss, Jace's lips left mine, only to lay a hungry trail of kisses along my jaw line and down my neck; with each kiss, I felt the little self-control I had left, slipping away. I wished I had more conviction at the moment, but Jace was like my own personal kryptonite, and I couldn't control the small moan that escaped from the back of my throat as I melted into his touch. Jace pushed my dress off my shoulder as his lips left a trail of kisses.
"Your bra is cherry red?" Jace remarked as his lips danced across my shoulder; his voice was a mixture of amused and quizzical.
"It was the only one clean." I doubted my breathy voice sounded all that convincing, and why should it; my response was just about the farthest thing from the truth. Jace chuckled, with his lips against the crook of my neck, and it caused a shiver to radiate down my spine. I could still hear the little voice of objection in the back of my head, but it was so faint now, and getting harder to discern by the second. Jace slowly moved his lips back up my neck, and a moment later, his lips were against mine again; every touch, every kiss, added kindling to the fire igniting inside me. As the last remnants of restraint seemed to vanish, a frenzy of exhilaration and electricity coursed through my body. My hands slid up his chest and hooked around his neck as our lips simultaneously parted and our tongues feverishly caressed each other's. My body leaned into his as his hands slowly smoothed over my back. I absentmindedly wondered where Jace had put the movie he was holding moments before, but I really didn't think much about it; I really didn't care. Jace wrapped his arms around me tightly, and I found my feet tripping forward, then backwards, but lost in the euphoria of kissing Jace, I didn't think twice about what he was doing as he led me blindly across the room. It wasn't until my back bumped into something hard that I finally opened my eyes.
"Ow." Jace had backed me into the corner of the kitchen door frame.
"Sorry." He murmured. With one arm still tight around my body, preventing me from pulling away, not that I was going anywhere, his hand was suddenly cupping my face, and after a brief intense gaze, his lips slammed against mine again; I closed my eyes as I melted into his touch. A few more bumps down the hallway, a couple chuckles and apologies, and Jace was backing me into his bedroom and shutting the door behind us.
"Jace." I was shooting for a tone of protest, but Jace's name on my lips came out sounding more like a moan. His hands both came up to cradle my face as his lips and tongue moved against mine feverishly. The kiss was brief, but urgent, and as he pulled back, his hands fell from my face and reached for the hem of his shirt. I nearly objected, the words were on the tip of my tongue, but as Jace pulled his shirt up, I became hypnotized by his muscular, tan, washboard abdomen. God I almost forgot how gorgeous his body was. By the time I realized I was gawking, I quickly pulled my gaze from Jace's torso, only to catch sight of an armband tattoo on Jace's upper arm; I hadn't noticed it earlier, so it must have been just under his t-shirt sleeve, but I was sure it was new, he hadn't had it before. The artist in me became temporarily distracted as I reached my hands out and grabbed onto Jace's bicep as I inspected the tattoo closer; it was an intricate weaved design done completely in black, it looked almost Celtic. Jace's loosely fisted hand came up under my chin, tipping my head up to his, and he smirked down at me; his steamy eyes looked darker and more lustful by the second.
"I want to see yours." He brought his lips to mine and the back of my hands unintentionally grazed against his perfect torso. What started out as an accidental graze, quickly turned into me eagerly feeling my way across every indent of his smooth six-pack, up his hard pecks, and over his rippling biceps. It was a side thought really, when I noticed my legs suddenly felt a few degrees cooler, but my mind hadn't even begun to ponder the cause before I felt Jace's hands against my bare back; I jumped slightly at the unexpected touch. His hands slowly roamed my back and my stomach, and I basked in his touch; I loved the way his hands felt against my bare skin.
"Let me take this off." Jace murmured against my lips as I felt the material of my dress being lifted higher and higher, and I didn't resisted, I just pulled back and raised my arms obediently as he pulled my dress up and over my head. It was a delayed reaction when I realized he was pretty much down to his boxers, his shorts were around his ankles, although I had no idea when that happened. Jace wrapped his arms around me again as he brought his lips back to my neck for another passionate kiss. I could feel ever single place his hot body pressed against mine and it caused my heart to race wildly as every nerve within me surged with excitement. His lips moved slowly across my collarbone and over my exposed chest, and every touch, every kiss, every sensation, sent my body into a further frenzy of exhilaration. It was a bit of a stumbling blur how we maneuvered the rest of the way across his room, but before I knew it, he fell backwards unexpectedly against the bed, with his arms tightly around me, and I rather clumsily fell forward on top of him; Jace chuckled with his lips against my neck.
"Easy there..." Jace pulled back so he could look up at me; he had a huge smile pulled across his face, he looked so happy, yet amused. I hadn't even realized the placement of my legs, how close I'd come to nearly kneeing him in the groin, until I felt his hand reach down and move my legs so I was straddling him.
"…If you really want to go slower, just say the word, you don't have to knee me in balls." I chuckled.
"Really, was that too much?" I asked sarcastically. Out of nowhere, I had two hands attacking my sides and I let out a peal of laughter as I tried in vain to break free from Jace's grasp; the best I managed to accomplish was to get into a standing position, while Jace sat on the edge of the bed. Jace didn't relent, he just laughed as I stood squirming in his arms.
"Jace, what are you doing?" I reprimanded lightheartedly in the mist of the laughter.
"There's a spot...right…" He continued to grab at my sides until I let out with a high pitch screech.
"…there…" I was practically gasping for air when he stopped tickling me and wrapped his arms around me.
"…I wanted to see if I could still find that spot…" He looked down at me sweetly with a huge smile. He reached up and pushed my hair out of my face as he brought his lips to mine for a gentle kiss.
"…God, I can't remember the last time I heard you laugh like that…I can't remember the last time I laughed like that...I love to see you smile like this…" He had such a tender look in his eyes. His gaze followed as his fingertips gently trailed over my lips; a small shiver ran down my spine. Jace reached up and his fingers ever so gently brushed the corner of my eye.
"…And I love the way your eyes sparkle from coming so close to tears from laughing so much, honey…" I couldn't help it that my lips turned up further; why did he have to call me honey like that? He brought his hands up and cradled my face as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine softly; when he pulled back he gazed at me so affectionately.
"…I wondered if you'd ever look at me this way again…" He pressed his lips to mine for another soft kiss.
"…Yesterday, and when you first got here…" He shook his head slightly.
"…Your eyes looked so guarded…I've never seen you look at me that way before." He pressed his lips to mine again.
"Jace, um, we need to talk." I just needed to get this over with. He smirked.
"Oh no, are you breaking up with me?" I rolled my eyes.
"No, but I'm serious, there's something I need to tell you." He reached up and gently pushed my hair out of my face; I could just get lost in his eyes.
"Ok, if it's that important to you, tell me now." I rolled my eyes and looked away.
"Jace, I can't tell you like this." His lips were suddenly against my shoulder as he laid a trail of soft kisses to my neck.
"How about like this?" He murmured against my skin.
"Jace." I tried to sound reprimanding, although my voice was breathier than I would have liked.
"Oh no, you're married, aren't you?" His lips continued to dance along my shoulder. I shook my head.
"No." He smoothed his hands down my back, wrapping his hands around my waist and lifting me up as he leaned back against the bed.
"Jace-" I knew I was losing this fight. I loved the way his lips peppered my neck with kisses.
"No." I couldn't help that my voice sounded more amused than anything else. He brought his lips to my neck hungrily and I temporarily got lost in the moment. He ran his hands over my ass and down my legs, pulling my bent knees onto the bed one at a time as he kissed me; in this position, straddling him, I could tell how turned on he was, which was entirely distracting. His hands roamed over my back, and my ass, as his lips stayed glued to the crook of my neck.
"Jace, um…" God I loved the way he held me, touched me, kissed me.
"…we don't have to stop right this very second, but, we're not having sex until we talk…Ok?" He pulled back to look at me and I could see the look of desire thick in his eyes. Jace tangled his hands into my hair.
"Do you feel like this?" He leaned forward and slammed his lips to mine for a deep passionate kiss; my mind just completely stopped functioning. After a brief burst of urgency he pulled back, and with his hands cradling my face, he gently pressed his lips to mine over and over again.
"...Like these last nine years have always been leading to us being together?" He murmured between soft butterfly kisses. I pulled back slightly; he was looking up at me so affectionately. I could feel his heart slamming away in his chest as his steamy breaths washed over my face. His hands dropped to my shoulders and his fingertips gently danced down my back.
"I ah…" Before I could think of how to respond, he leaned in again and his lips ever so lightly brushed against mine as his nose gently grazed against mine. My head turned expectantly as my eyes closed and my lips reached for his, but he pulled back. I opened my eyes; he was smirking up at me and I could see the fire was returning to his eyes. I slid my hands up his chest and tangled them into his hair and he smirked further. He leaned in again, and this time, he gently pressed his lips to mine. The kiss was all too brief and as he pulled away, my body leaned in to prevent the kiss from ending. He pulled his lips from mine and led a trail of kisses across my cheek and down my neck.
"If you really don't want this as badly as I do, if you really don't want to make love to me, tell me to stop now, because if we don't stop now, I don't know if I'll be able to stop later." His words were a breath against my skin between kisses. I could feel his heart racing just as fast as mine. I could feel the heat rushing to my cheeks as I tried and failed to keep my lips from pulling up into a huge smile. Why did he have to say the words make love? I was temporarily speechless. I could smell the soft scent of his cologne and still taste his kisses on my lips. I curled my lips in and wet them again as my hands idly twirled into the silky curls at the nape of his neck. I was having an internal moral debate; on the one hand, I felt that it was important to tell Jace about Christopher before things got too serious between us, but on the other hand, this was Jace, he didn't look at sex like I did, didn't consider it was a big deal, maybe having sex with him before I told him about Christopher would help soften the blow…Besides, it's not like this would be our first time we had sex...I couldn't decide what was the right thing to do, or maybe I knew what was right, but I was trying to convince myself that having sex with Jace before I told him about Christopher wouldn't be terrible. He pulled back and gazed up at me silently; I could see the fire blazing in his eyes.
"Oh come on!" The sound of Max's voice had me hastily pulling away from Jace and ungracefully falling onto the floor; although my feet hit first, my ass wasn't far behind, and it hit with a thud.
"You alright?" Jace's voice was filled with caring concern as he popped off the bed and stooped down beside me. I gave a little nod as I crossed my arms over my chest self-consciously and glanced in Max's direction. Max was standing in the doorway in just his boxers with his arms crossed over his chest; he wasn't modest at all. Jace made an irritated growling noise in the back of his throat as he redirected a glare to Max and stood back up, pulling his blanket off the bed and draping it over me in the process.
"Get the hell out of my room!...And put some clothes on!"
"Come on, she's seen me in boxers before, and I've seen her naked, what's the big deal?"
"Do you honestly think that was a good response?" Jace barked back at Max sharply as he took a few daunting steps towards the door.
"I'm second guessing that response actually." Max shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
"I said get out!" Jace snarled as he covered the short distance to the door.
"I don't have anything to wear!…" Max snapped back as Jace tried to physically push him out of the room and shut the door. Jace hesitated for just a moment.
"…My clothes got beer on them, remember? You told me I could borrow some of your clothes and you'd wash mine." I had to suppress the motherly urge to question if Jace had given Max beer; he's only sixteen.
"Wait in the hallway, I will get you something to wear…And learn to knock!" Jace snapped back sharply as he gave Max a push out of his room and slammed the door shut.
"I'm so sorry." Jace glanced my way remorsefully as he headed over to his bureau.
"Don't worry about it…It seems to be a Lightwood trait." I teased. Jace rolled his eyes and shook his head. I watched as Jace yanked open one bureau drawer and then another, pulling out a couple pieces of clothing. He headed back over to his bedroom door, opening it just enough to shove the clothes out.
"You can borrow these…Make sure you give them back…Now go away!" Jace tried to shut the door, but Max was obstructing him.
"I thought Alec was bringing me home."
"He was, but you weren't awake, so he said he'd run a couple errands and come back…Call him if you want…Just go away!" Jace tried to shut the door with a bit more force, but Max wasn't letting up.
"You didn't give me boxers."
"Wear the ones you have!"
"No, I'm going to take a shower, that's gross…I guess I'll just go commando, let it all hang out." Jace made an irritated noise as he stalked back over to his bureau, yanked a drawer open, and pulled out a garment.
"Here…You can keep 'em…Now go away!" Jace shoved the garment at Max as he forcefully pushed him out of the room and shut the door behind him; I noticed Jace made a point to lock the door this time. Jace looked back at me with a heated gaze. He walked up to me, and I thought he was going to offer me a hand, but he just collapsed down to his knees. He snaked his arms between me and the blanket I was clutching to my body, as he scooped me up in his arms. I couldn't help smiling at him as he gazed back at me heatedly, but I knew I had to be stronger this time. Jace leaned towards me, but I slapped my hand playfully over his mouth.
"We need to talk." I managed to keep my tone much more serious this time. Jace looked back at me incredulously, yet playfully, as he pulled his face away from my hand.
"No, no, no, we were going to talk later, remember?" He smirked as he leaned in to bring his lips to mine, but I collapsed my forehead against his chest.
"As much as I love it when you hold me in your arms and kiss me, I feel like this is a lie, Jace…" I lifted my head and looked up at him apologetically; his eyebrows were deeply furrowed, any trace of the playful look he had a moment ago was gone.
"…Max walking in wasn't an accident, it was fate…We need to talk; now…I really need to tell you something before this goes any further." He looked down at me with a serious expression, although there was an unmistakable tenderness still in his gaze. He brought his hand up and trailed it from my forehead to my ear as he pushed my hair out of my face.
"Ok, then tell me." Jace gazed down at me with all the weight of the world.
"I can't tell you like this…Let me up." I tried to stand, but Jace tightened his arms around me, and combined with the blankets I was still somewhat tangled in, I wasn't going anywhere.
"I promise, I won't try anything, I won't try to kiss you, or tickle you, or anything that will distract you…I just want to hold you in my arms, it reassures me everything will be alright…Please." I looked back up at his pleading eyes.
"Jace, I want to put my dress back on…This isn't easy for me to say, and honestly, I don't think you're going to take what I have to tell you very well…" His eyes searched my face, still silently begging me.
"…Please Jace…Just let me up…Let me get dressed…Let me get this off my chest…" I reached my hands up and gently cradled his face as I looked deeply in his eyes.
"…And after we talk…if you want to take our clothes off…all of our clothes…" He made a little noise in the back of his throat that almost sounded like whimpering.
"…and climb into your bed…" He whimpered again.
"…and just see where that leads…" He let out several short whimpers.
"…We will…" Jace looked back at me with such a conflicted look, somewhere between a look of concern and a look of burning fire. I was well aware I just bribed Jace with sex, but I didn't think that was necessarily a bad thing seeing I couldn't stop thinking about having sex with him. If I told him about Christopher and by some miracle he still wanted to have sex, I really couldn't see anything wrong with that; although I highly doubted that would happen. I looked deeply in his eyes a brief silent moment longer before I brought my lips to his. I kissed him lightly before I pulled away.
"…And…" I continued softly with my lips just centimeters away from his.
"…I'll even grab the whipped cream out of the fridge first." Jace rapidly tightened his arms around me, pulling me onto his lap, as he slammed his lips to mine and kissed me back fiercely. It really was an effort to pull away from him.
"But we have to talk first." I gave him a firm look.
"Did you want to start by talking about that morning in the bathroom when I walked in on you showering?" Jace whispered heavily. I chuckled and rolled my eyes.
"That's not what I meant, Jace."
"When I close my eyes…I can almost see the way you looked with the water rushing over your naked body…" He crushed his lips to mine and kissed me hungrily. My body leaned forward fighting to stay connected as he pulled away. I exhaled a breathy gasp. He looked down at me with a smirk as he pushed my hair behind my ear.
"…I can almost see the way you looked standing there drying your hair…" His voice sounded playfully frustrated. He brought his lips to my ear and nipped at it gently.
"…Then you just came out with…if you ever want to have sex, you know where to find me…" He whispered into my ear before he pulled back again. He looked at me heatedly for a brief moment before he leaned his forehead against mine as he closed his eyes.
"…You did that on purpose…You did that to drive me completely insane…And it worked…Like it's working right now…I feel like my skin is crawling, like I'm going out of my mind, like I'd never be able to hold you long enough or tight enough, or kiss you nearly enough, to sedate this feeling…I've never wanted you this badly before, Clary." Jace's lips were suddenly against mine and he kissed me deeply as his hands roamed my back. With a fluid movement, he suddenly unclasped my bra; if I didn't stop this right now, I knew I wouldn't be able to. I pulled back as Jace's hand slid up my side. He looked back at me with a smoldering expression as his hand continued to smooth up my ribcage, but I quickly reached up and clamped down on his hand; stopping his advance. Jace's face turned into a playful pout, and he looked so cute.
"I can't...I…I…Just…" The words stumbled out of his mouth as he looked back at me with begging eyes.
"We really need to talk first, Jace…And this is exactly why I need to put my clothes back on."
"But you just said, and how can you say something like that and then…" He trailed off into a light whimpering; I couldn't help but chuckle slightly.
"I'm not trying to tease you Jace, I'm trying to give you something to look forward to…" He gazed down at me a moment longer before he took a deep breath and reluctantly stood up; he helped me up as well. I bee lined over to my dress and hastily put it back on.
"…And this will be easier if you get dressed too…I can't think straight looking at your sexy body." A smirk pulled across his lips, but it was gone as quickly as it came. I crossed my arms over my chest and watched as he got dressed. I could feel my eyes starting to burn, but I'd try to stave off the tears as long as I could. I really didn't know how Jace was going to react, so why was I getting so emotional about telling him?
"Clary, you look like you're about to cry." Jace was putting his belt on, although his shirt was still on the floor, but at least he was wearing shorts now. I chuckled humorlessly.
"Honey, I'm starting to freak out a little here…Just tell me before I imagine the worst." Jace's words were noticeably urgent as he finished tucking his shirt in his shorts. I couldn't help but smile slightly at the fact he'd called me honey again.
"Jace, you couldn't imagine this if you tried." I had meant to sound somewhat comical, but he looked further distressed as he looked back at me. He reached out to try to put his arms around me, but I took a step back; I needed to stay focused, and I couldn't do that in Jace's arms.
"I can't right now…I just…Maybe you should sit down." He shook his head as he took another step towards me, but I just took another half a step back.
"I don't want to sit down…Just tell me!" His voice was more forceful this time, but the concern in it was clear. I took a deep breath as I crossed my arms over my chest. I looked down at my feet for a moment to compose myself…I would not cry, I would not cry, I would not cry…It was like ripping a band aid off, I just needed to say it. I took one more deep breath before I looked back up at him.
"I have a baby." Ok, that was only about half of what I needed to say, but I was going to see how that went over first. His eyebrows furrowed deeply as he looked back at me shaking his head.
"I thought you didn't want kids…You told me you didn't want kids." His voice had a noticeable forcefulness to it. I blinked my eyes a couple times in disbelief; not the response I expected.
"Oh…Um…I guess I did always say I didn't want kids…I guess it's just something I got use to telling everyone, but I don't think I ever really felt that way, not deep down…" Jace looked thrown as he shuffled over towards the bed and sort of leaned back against it, not quite sitting on it. He stared down at his hands.
"…I just don't want my kids to go through the kind of upbringing I had…I think I just figured the only way to guarantee that was by not having kids in the first place, but that didn't mean I didn't want kids...And this wasn't exactly planned or anything…" Jace's gaze wondered off aimlessly, he wasn't looking down at his hands anymore, but he wasn't looking at me either, he was just looking off; he looked so disorientated.
"…I know you probably feel like I tried to set you up, like I tried to trap you, but that wasn't at all what I was trying to do…You want to be pissed off, fine. You want to resent me, be angry with me, hate me-"
"You think I'm mad?" Jace looked up at me and he looked so lost. I swatted away at a single tear that trickled down my cheek.
"Aren't you?" He shook his head, but it looked like a robotic movement.
"Just at myself…" He stared at me a moment longer in silence.
"…You know…All those years…All those years I struggled with my feelings for you, the thing I struggled with most, is the fact that having kids meant so much to me, and you told me time and time again that you didn't want children…I just couldn't imagine my life without kids…" His voice was so gentle, yet, he nearly sounded sad; I just bit at my bottom lip nervously.
"…I debated telling you how I felt so many times, but I didn't think that was fair to you; I felt like that would be giving you an ultimatum, telling you I loved you, but I didn't think that was enough, telling you I wanted to be with you, but only if you were willing to have children with me. I didn't want to burden you with my feelings…But you did want kids…All this time I thought you didn't…" My eyes just continued to burn as he spoke.
"…I'm not angry with you…I already knew you left because you were pregnant..." My breath caught as my mouth fell agape. He shook his head as he looked down at his hands again.
"…I was out at a bar one night, a couple weeks after you left…Izzy had gone out with me, it was just the two of us…We saw Gab across the room at a table and she said she wanted to go over and say hi; I went to grab a drink…They didn't know I was there…They didn't know I could hear what they were talking about…I didn't hear every word, but I heard enough…I was just so shocked, I didn't know what to say, I didn't know what to do…At first I wanted to call you, I wanted to tell you I knew; I wanted to confront you…I was mad, I was so mad, but I didn't even know who I was mad at for sure…Then I just refused to believe it, refused to admit I knew, refused to think about it at all really…I wanted to forget I ever heard what they were talking about, but I couldn't…It kept me up at night, seeped into my dreams, taunted me relentlessly…I was so hurt you hadn't told me, so distressed that I couldn't be there for you, not just that I couldn't be there for you, but that you didn't want me there, you didn't want me to know…I knew I had to come to grips with the fact I'd lost you, forever…You two left together…I didn't know if you were trying to make it work, or just trying to figure out what you were going to do…But I didn't want to be that guy, I didn't want to get in the way, it wasn't my place to intervene…I told myself I had to let you go…That's the reason I went back to Aline…" Jace swallowed hard as he returned his gaze to me.
"…I'm sorry I didn't tell you I knew." It took me a moment for everything Jace had said to really hit me.
"Jace…I don't think you understand…Sebastian doesn't have anything to do with this."
"What? I heard Izzy and Gab-"
"You heard wrong-"
"I know exactly what I heard, Clary, and you two left together-"
"Izzy and Gab don't know who the father is…" My voice had a tone of finality. Jace furrowed his eyebrows and I took a deep breath before I continued.
"…Sebastian and I left together, yes, but that was just because we happened to both want to go to London…I'm not going to lie and tell you we were never more than friends, we dated a little, but that was months after we left New York…We never slept together…I should have been honest with you from day one, I should have been honest about everything, and I wasn't, and there's not much I can do about that except tell you I'm sorry…It was hard for me, hard for me to think I could talk to you, hard for me to think I could trust you; you really hurt me…But I still should have told you I was pregnant before I ever left for London, and I'm so sorry I didn't...I'm so sorry you found out the way you did." Jace looked back at me silently for several minutes with a bewildered look.
"I can't believe you kept the baby…I just can't believe you wanted kids this whole time."
"You think I should have given the baby up?" I could hear the defensiveness thick in my sharp tone.
"No, no, I didn't mean it like that…I don't think you should have given the baby up, I actually debated telling you I didn't think you should give the baby up…Izzy said something about hoping you'd give the baby up…Gab said the same thing…I just…I didn't think it was really my place to interfere…Either way…I mean…I first thought you were trying to make things work with Sebastian, but then I never heard anything else about you being pregnant, so I started to think you were leaning towards putting the baby up for adoption, and then I just didn't hear anything after you had the baby, so I just assumed…I mean…You always said you didn't want kids…I really couldn't imagine you keeping the baby by yourself…" He shook his head as he looked back down at his hands.
"…I ah, I went to London to find you…I just needed to know you were going to be alright…I needed to know you were better off without me in your life…"
"Jace-" I started to protest, but he just continued.
"Jace-" I couldn't think, I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't breath, but I found the words tumbling out of my mouth.
"…It was less than two weeks before I was supposed to get married and all I could think about was you…I shouldn't have ever applied to Medical School there…They have one of the best Medical Schools in the world, but I knew the only reason I applied was because of you…I went out there with an address that I was pretty sure was your father's, but I couldn't bring myself to go over there…I was in London for four sleepless nights, and I never went to see you…It was my last day in London, I was taking the redeye home that night, and it was really a random turn of events that brought me to the hospital you had the baby at…I had no idea you were there, no reason to be there myself really…It wasn't even the university I applied to…" My mind faded back as I recapped the story.
(May 8, 2009 – 9:00 am)
"Jonathan, I'm Dr. Blackwell. I understand Dr. Carstairs has been most impressed with you." I smiled and glanced sideways at Dr. Carstairs as I shook Dr. Blackwell's hand.
"I'm sure he impressed me more than I could have ever impressed him Sir, but I'm very flattered." Dr. Blackwell chuckled slightly as we dropped our hands.
"Dr. Carstairs tells me that you haven't applied to the University College of London." I shook my head.
"No Sir, I'm afraid I haven't. I've applied to the University of Cambridge's School of Clinical Medicine…" I glanced over at Dr. Carstairs before I returned my gaze to Dr. Blackwell.
"…But I'm grateful that you've taken time out of your busy schedule to show me around." He nodded.
"Well, Dr. Carstairs has surgery this afternoon, and I wanted to help make your trip out this way worth your time…If you're even half as good a student as your mother was, I'm sure you'll be able to pick any residency program you'd like, and perhaps you'll reconsider us at that time."
"You know my mother, Sir?"
"Oh Yes, Maryse and I go way back, we did our residencies together-"
"Samuel, as much as I'd love to stick around and listen to you try to steal this bright young mind away from me…" Dr. Blackwell chuckled.
"…I've really got to get going." Dr. Carstairs commented as he glanced at his watch.
"Of course James, I'll take good care of Jonathan for you." Dr. Blackwell gave me a warm smile, and after a brief goodbye, Dr. Carstairs was off.
"So Jonathan, I understand you're set on being a surgeon." I nodded.
"Yes Sir." He started to walk down the hallway and I kept pace with him.
"Well let's see if I can't change your mind." He remarked with a little sideways wink.
It had been a long day of shadowing Dr. Blackwell through the hospital labyrinth, and with less than an hour before I needed to head to the airport, I was actually looking forward to leaving; I was so exhausted. My mind wouldn't stop thinking about the fact that I'd come all the way to London and not seen Clary, but I tried so hard to shake the thought as I followed Dr. Blackwell down one corridor after another.
"Well Jonathan, I know you have a flight to catch tonight, but I just wanted to quickly walk you through the maternity wing…I spend a great deal of my time in the NICU, but I do my rounds here as well…" In no time at all I had scrubbed my hands meticulously, put on a fresh pair of gray scrubs, a pair of gloves, a surgical mask and a medical cap, and I was following Dr. Blackwell into the nursery. Loud cries filled the air. Dr. Blackwell continued on with his mini lecture as we walked around the room, but I found myself terribly distracted; maybe it was just the fatigue of the day catching up with me. All the babies somewhat looked the same, just little tiny things wrapped tightly in white blankets with white caps, and although several of them were crying, for some reason, one soft newborn cry seemed to pierce my concentration more than any of the others. I gazed down at the little red scrunched up face, and I'm not really sure what possessed me to reach out and place my hand ever so lightly on the baby's chest, but I did so without thinking; my hand was nearly as big as the little guy. I gently jostled the baby gently.
"Why is this little peanut so upset?..." No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I realized I had completely interrupted Dr. Blackwell. I had also just called the baby, 'peanut', which was probably terribly unprofessional.
"…I'm sorry I interrupted."
"Oh, no worries…" He waved me off and walked over. I pulled my hand back quickly; I probably wasn't supposed to be touching the baby. Dr. Blackwell picked up the little clipboard in front of the baby's bassinette, but I didn't look up at him; I couldn't pull my eyes away from this mesmerizing little baby.
"…Ah…Baby Fairchild…" I felt my chest constrict. What were the odds that out of all the hospitals, and all the days I could have come here, that I'd be here now?
"…I remember him…He was born this morning…" She had a boy?
"…3.69 kilograms…20 centimeters long…So that's about 8 pounds 2 ounces…and…just about 20 inches long…He's perfectly fine…Perfectly healthy…Just acclimating to life outside the womb no doubt…Would you like to hold him?" I glanced up at Dr. Blackwell.
"Is that…allowed?" He smirked as he put the clipboard down and scooped the little peanut up.
"Sometimes babies just want to be held…He might even stop crying…Have you ever held a newborn?" I shook my head, only absentmindedly realizing he hadn't directly answered my question about whether this was really alright.
"No, Sir, I haven't." He chuckled.
"Well, this will be a first now, won't it?" It all happened so quickly, a few changes in my arm position, and I was suddenly holding the little peanut. I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was the fact I had never held a baby before, or the fact I could see Clary in nearly every feature of this little baby, or the fact I was supposed to be getting married in just over a week, whatever the reason, I was tapping into a paternal side of me that I didn't realize was so strong.
"Hi little peanut." The words came out as a soft affectionate whisper as I rocked him gently in my arms. It didn't take long at all for his cries to subside. I watched as his eyes opened and closed; little blue-gray eyes peeked out and rolled in different directions, not quite focusing on anything. I wondered what color his eyes would end up being; if his eyes would change to be the emerald green of Clary's or if he'd have…another color…
"…I only held him briefly, but I'll never forget it." I couldn't help the fact that I had tears trickling down my cheeks when Jace finished telling his story. I had no idea when I shuffled across the room to stand in front of him, but as I looked down at him now, he reached up and wiped at my tears with his thumb.
"You held him the day he was born?" The words came out as a soft whisper.
"I couldn't bring myself to face you…I didn't think you were going to keep the baby…And I…I didn't agree with that…But it wasn't my place to intervene…I'm so sorry I didn't come see you in the hospital…" He wrapped his arms around my waist and leaned his forehead against my stomach. I couldn't remember Jace ever holding me like this before, and it caught me by surprise. I reached down and gently stroked his hair.
"…I'm sorry I didn't reach out to you when I was in London…I'm sorry I didn't reach out to you before that… I'm sorry I ever went back to Aline…I'm sorry I let you get on that plane…I'm sorry I let you leave the night of my birthday, the night you told me you loved me…I'm just so sorry for everything Clary…I feel like this is all my fault…If I had just been open with you at the time about my feelings…If I hadn't pushed you away…You wouldn't have turned to someone else..." After a long moment, he lifted his head, his arms still wrapped tightly around my waist.
"…You thought I'd run for the hills when I found out about him, didn't you?..." I gave an uneasy shrug. He didn't know the whole story yet, but this was a good start. Jace searched my face for a silent moment. He tightened his hold on me and I took a somewhat involuntary half-a-step forward. He reached up and brought his lips to mine.
"…I'm not going anywhere, Clary…" I didn't respond as a few more tears rolled over; I couldn't find the words. Jace brought his lips to mine, but this time he let them linger before he pulled back.
"…Thank you." I furrowed my eyebrows at Jace.
"For what?" He looked back at me so tenderly.
"For so many things…But right now…Thank you for being honest with me…Thank you for pushing me to talk about this now…You were right, this was too important to put off." I couldn't help that my expression fell; I hadn't been completely honest with him.
"Don't thank me Jace; you deserve to know the truth." He brought his lips to mine for a gentle kiss.
"You've got that look in your eyes again…That guarded, troubled look…This doesn't change the way I feel about you, you know?…Well…" He snorted slightly as he glanced down and then back up at me.
"…I think I love you even more actually." A small smile pulled across his lips, and I couldn't help but smile back ever so slightly. He gazed back at me silently, his eyes filled with adoration, but searching mine, searching for answers, and I knew I wouldn't get a better moment than right now to tell Jace about Christopher; I just needed Christopher in my arms when I told him.
"I want to get him." My voice was so small and apprehensive; Jace's eyebrows furrowed.
"You want to go get the baby? Right now?" I nodded.
"Yeah…I want to bring him here..."
The tail end of my conversation with Clary was a bit of a blur, and then she was gone; she said she was getting the baby and would be back. I was feeling a bit inundated with the bombardment of thoughts racing through my mind; it's kind of overwhelming to find out that just about everything I thought was true, was wrong. I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Clary had a baby. I already knew she was pregnant when she left, even though I'd spent the better part of the last seven months trying to repress that very thought, but there was really no question once I held the baby. It wasn't so much that she'd had a baby that was mind-boggling to me at this point; it's that she kept the baby. The thought of her being pregnant in general was hard enough to grasp, the thought of her being pregnant and putting the baby up for adoption because she didn't want kids was just further distressing, but I'd spent the last seven weeks trying to come to terms with the fact that she had done just that; I was wrong. Then there was the fact that Sebastian wasn't the father; so who was? When I overheard Gab talking to Izzy at the bar, he was adamant the baby wasn't his, but maybe Gab was using Sebastian as a scapegoat this whole time. I tried to shake the thought, I didn't really want to think about who the baby's father was right now; I already had a big enough headache as it was. Clary had a kid…She currently had a little baby; that seemed nearly unfathomable to me. With all the thoughts vying for my attention, the most mind blowing concept to me at this very moment was that Clary wanted kids, period; we could have kids some day.
"Why didn't you ever date Clary?" Lost in my own thoughts, I never heard Max come into my bedroom, but I looked up at him now.
"I thought you left?" He shook his head.
"Alec said he's still in the area and he'll give me a ride in a couple hours; I'm in no rush…Seriously though, why were you and Clary always just fuck friends?"
"Max, Clary and I were never fuck friends!" I snapped sharply. I had too many other things going on right now to get into this discussion with Max. Max made a frustrated noise as he jammed his hand into his shorts' pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
"Stop fucking telling me that, Jace!...I'm not a little kid anymore." Max snapped back hostilely as he stormed into the room. He stopped in front of me and looked down at his phone with an irritated look as he tapped his finger angrily against the screen.
"What are you doing, sending her a text?" I asked sarcastically. He laughed, but it sounded more like a cackle.
"I'm going to prove that you're lying to me." I furrowed my eyebrows at him.
"How can you prove something that isn't true?"
"I know it's true…I have pictures."
"That doesn't make any sense, what could you possibly have pictures of?...Clary's coming back, and I really don't want you here when she returns…Can you just send Alec a text and ask him to pick you up now?…Or I will." I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket. I didn't have any patience for Max right now.
"I thought you would have dropped the act by now?"
"This isn't an act, Max!" I was quickly typing away at a message for Alec, but Max reached out and put his hand over my phone; I glanced up at him with an irritated expression, but he just looked down at me with deeply furrowed eyebrows.
"I thought…Maybe I was wrong…Maybe it was just that one time…Maybe I wasn't the only part you forgot, maybe you didn't remember any of it." I pulled my phone away from Max and quickly finished the message before I fired it off to Alec.
"We can talk about this later, Max."
"You slept her, Jace…You slept with her at Uncle Benedict's last wedding." My head snapped up at that; he got my attention.
"What are you talking about?" He shook his head slowly.
"You don't remember sleeping with Clary, do you?" I inhaled sharply. He was wrong, he had to be. I bit my tongue and counted to five as I exhaled slowly.
"If you're just trying to get me to pay you to see some blurryass pictures of two random people having sex, I'm not biting." Max's eyebrows furrowed further.
"You don't have to pay me anything." Max looked back down at his phone and started clicking away again.
"Then what do you what?" He glanced up at me.
"I don't want anything." I just furrowed my eyebrows at him.
"I find that hard to believe."
"I like her, Jace…I like the way you act when she's around…You know the last time we hung out before last night?...It's been a really long time, I can tell you that much…You never made time for me when you lived with Aline...I feel bad now…If I knew you didn't remember…Well…I just feel bad for Clary…I really thought you were just trying to hide it from everyone else; especially Aline…Remember, the next day, when I was joking with you in your room at mom and dad's house…I thought you knew…When you asked me if I saw you coming out of Alec's room?...We both knew Clary had slept in Alec's hotel room the night before...It was the closest you'd ever come to admitting you two were fuck friends…" He looked back down at his phone again and continued clicking away as I let my mind fade back…
"Did you see me come out of Alec's room by chance?" The words were out of my mouth before I could catch myself and Max's eyes just twinkled mischievously as his signature impish smirk pulled across his face. I realized the question was stupid as soon as I asked it, because if Max had caught me sneaking out of Alec's room basically naked, he wouldn't be able to shut up about it. Besides, asking Max a direct question never results in a direct answer. I should have just plainly asked if he knew which room I had come out of. He already knew Clary slept in Alec's room last night, so I could just see his little wheels spinning.
"Holy shit…" Max exclaimed heavily.
"…Did you actually just admit that you two are fuck friends?" I glared daggers at him, even though I knew I set myself up for that. Just about the time he hit puberty, he was convinced that because Clary and I lived together, it meant we were sleeping together.
"Seriously Max, you have to stop saying that…" I scolded forcefully.
"…You're going to get me in a lot of trouble with Aline if she hears something like that…I mean a lot of trouble…Like she'll call off the wedding Max…" I took a deep breath and ran my hand through my hair before I continued on more calmly.
"…I'll bring you to get a new phone, alright?…But not today…I feel like crap…Just please…Give it a rest about Clary and me…Whatever you think is going on between us, you're wrong…Ok?…We're friends, good friends, best friends, just leave it at that."
"…You were really adamant at the time that I never breathe a word of what happened again; not to you, not to anyone…That's why I didn't say anything-"
"Back up a second…You're still talking about Uncle Benedict's wedding, right?"
"Start from the beginning." He looked up at me with an anxious expression.
"Just don't get mad at me, ok?…I really thought you remembered...It started in the reception hall…It was almost the end of the reception if I remember correctly…I saw Clary's purse at her table, and I was going to sneak in her room and wake her up; get a scream out of her…" I rolled my eyes.
"…Well, I ran into Gideon in the hallway, and he started talking all cryptic, asking me if I knew what was going on and shit…I had no idea what he was talking about, but I tried to act like I did…He wasn't quick to fill me in, but he gave me Alec's keycard and asked me to give it back to him…Now I just planned on snooping around Alec's room a little, I wanted to see if I could figure out for myself what was going on, but I did not expect what I found when I walked into Alec's hotel room…" I was practically holding my breath as I listened to Max recount what he supposedly saw.
"…I froze in place, I was so shocked. I mean, I already thought I knew you two were fuck friends, but to catch you red handed like that, that was priceless…" I tried to bit my tongue and not interject; I needed Max to tell me exactly what he saw.
"…The lights were on in Alec's room and you were lying in bed behind Clary, her back to your chest, your arms around her. You both looked sound asleep. The blankets were up to your chest, but not quite high enough if you know what I mean…" I bit my tongue harder as I inhaled deeply.
"…If the sheets were just a centimeter or two lower, I would have seen Clary's whole..." I cracked my neck as I let out with a low growl of aggravation from deep within my throat; I think Max finally got the point I was going to snap.
"…Anyway…I pulled out my cell phone to snap a few compromising photos; you know, it's my thing. Well, I snapped the first picture, but I was kind of far away, and my old phone sucked, I couldn't zoom in, so I crept closer, putting Clary's purse down on the desk as I tiptoed by, but I must have made too much noise or something, because your eyes suddenly opened. You didn't look at me though; you just looked down at Clary. You were completely focused on her, touching her hair, and just kind of watching her sleep…I started to second guess sneaking in, but that lasted for just a fleeting thought…I was pretty focused on proving you guys were fuck friends, so I quietly took another picture, and another…I can't be sure what exactly caught your attention, but you suddenly snapped your head right in my direction. You looked completely startled, for about a tenth of a second, and then you looked livid; you'd never looked so pissed off before. If looks could kill, I'd be dead. I started back peddling, realizing it was a bad idea I didn't turn around and leave as soon as I saw you two; a really bad idea. You pulled the blankets over Clary as you seemed to be trying to carefully detach yourself from her, but she was clearly sound asleep. I figured you'd be yelling at me if you weren't concerned about waking her. Don't move. That was the only thing you said…And it came out like a low quiet growl as you cast me an ominous glare. You reached down towards the ground and came back up with a handful of clothes, and I figured that was my cue to run. I took off like the devil was after me…Like I told you before, you were pretty much naked when you were chasing me down the hallway trying to get my phone away from me…You had your junk all hanging out, and you were trying to pull up your pants while you juggled an armful of clothes…Of course, you dropped half of what you were carrying as you chased me down the hall…When you caught up with me, you just started yelling at me, I mean really yelling…I don't remember exactly what you said, but you made it really clear I overstepped, and the topic of you and Clary was completely off limits…I wasn't to ask, insinuate, or joke about the relationship you two had ever again…You wrestled my phone away from me and threw it off the balcony into the parking lot; I could hear it break into pieces…I told you, you were going to have to pay for that, I was going to tell mom what you did…We went back and forth for a bit, you weren't backing down…Then some guy caught your attention…He said something to you, you started talking to him like you knew him…I didn't recognize him, and I didn't really pay attention to what you two were talking about, but I started telling you that I'd emailed myself copies of the pictures and I was going to post them everywhere if you didn't pay up…You gave me whatever cash you had in your wallet and told me we'd talk later…You said if I was smart, I'd just take the money and get lost…The guy said something to you, I think he asked what was going on, I'm not sure, you started talking to him, and I figured I should go; I didn't stick around." I took a deep breath and held it; I felt like yelling, punching something, breaking something.
My mind flitted back to the day after Uncle Benedict's wedding, when Clary and I were in my bedroom at my parent's house…Why did you leave? I swallowed hard. That's what she was asking me, it had nothing to do with the goddamn dining room; she wanted to know why I slept with her and took off when she was sleeping. I felt completely horrible. The fight I'd had with Clary the night before flooded back to me, or more precisely, something she'd said that baffled me at the time: I WANTED TO REMEMBER THE WAY YOU KISSED ME!
My breath caught and my heart came to a shuddering stop as my mind decided to connect two thoughts that had previously been the farthest thoughts from each other…At this point, I was about seventy percent sure that Clary and I slept together…And in a few minutes, she was coming back with her…baby…Fuuuck!…When it comes to fears, my list is short, but accidentally knocking a girl up, well that's at the absolute top of my list. This wasn't just any girl though, this was Clary, but I couldn't really be sure if that made me feel any better. Once my heart started again it just seemed to be racing and I felt like it was getting exponentially warmer in this room. I was practically gasping for air as my chest tightened painfully and my palms started to sweat; I was panicking…I needed to pull myself together, at least until I got rid of Max, I couldn't let him see me have a borderline anxiety attack. There was still a chance that Max was wrong; I was praying he was wrong.
"Clary's coming back, you need to leave; I'll give you money for a taxi." I snapped as I grabbed my wallet off of my nightstand.
"Wait, what? I don't want to leave…I'll just grab a ride with Alec...Jace, I'm sorry, I really thought you remembered…When I found the cufflinks in Alec's room, I was trying to cover for you-" It hit me like a thunderbolt.
"Where are the pictures? You said you had pictures; I need to see them!" I couldn't hide the urgency in my voice as I pulled cab fare out of my wallet.
"Yeah…I…They're just taking me a minute to find. They're saved in an archive file on my email, and this screen is so small…" He trailed off. I looked up at Max; there was something about the expression on his face, a guilty look in his eyes; he looked so young.
"Max, don't look at me like that…I don't have time to get into this with you right now…I need to talk to Clary…Alone…I need you to leave…Forward me the pictures when you find them…" I shoved a couple hundred dollars at Max; I wasn't sure what the cab fare would be, but it couldn't be cheap.
"…Take the subway as far as you can, I don't know if this will cover the whole fare home...Or, if you want, send Alec a text and make arrangements for him to bring you home later and just go to the comic book store or the arcade for a while." Max protested a bit, but I pushed him out of my room and shut the door.
I pulled out my cell phone and did an internet search for conception calculator. I typed in the baby's birthday; May 8 2009. Possible dates of conception: August 11 – August 19 2008. Uncle Benedict's wedding was August 16. Where did all the air go? I couldn't breath. I felt like all the blood was leaving my face, leaving my entire body. Standing was getting difficult, and I stumbled my way back towards the bed.
My phone dinged that I had a new text and I literally jumped. I looked down at my phone and saw the little bubble indicating I had a new message from Max. I felt like I was seriously going to throw up; as much as I wanted to know if Clary and I slept together, I couldn't bear the thought of sleeping with her and not remembering, sleeping with her and just leaving her afterwards, sleeping with her and…and…Baby. My hand was shaking as I clicked to open the message. It took a second for the initial shock to wear off as I looked down at a picture that was clearly of Clary and I; I was lying behind Clary, just as Max described, we both looked asleep. The way the sheets were draped over us, how much of her chest was exposed, it was pretty clear we were naked.
I held my breath as I apprehensively opened the next message. My arms were clearly around Clary in this picture; she looked asleep, but I was awake. God, I was gazing down at Clary with nearly the same look as I had in the picture that I kept in my wallet; a tender look of adoration with a soft smile that touched my eyes. I opened the next message more impatiently. I could tell the picture was of Clary, but her face was partially blocked by mine; I was kissing her cheek. That was the last message Max sent. I let the phone slip from my sweaty hands; it fell to the bed. Well, there wasn't any question left in my mind that Clary was the one I slept with the night of my uncle's wedding; I felt absolutely awful.
I was feeling so lightheaded; I seriously wondered if this was what people felt like before they fainted. I let out a staggered breath as I shoved both of my hands into my hair and grabbed onto two fistfuls. I had this lump forming in the back of my throat and I just kept swallowing trying to get rid of it. My brain felt completely fried…I hadn't even accepted the fact that Clary had a kid in the first place, how was I supposed to come to grips with this…
As I rushed back to Magnus's apartment, I wasn't sure if I should have just told Jace then and there that Christopher was his son, I had the opening, it was the perfect opportunity, but I just couldn't find the words. How in the world was I going to tell Jace that Christopher was his son when he didn't even remember we'd slept together? At this point, I was kind of thinking of going with the puppy in the pet store approach; just get Christopher in Jace's arms first. Once he was holding Christopher, he'd just fall in love with him, and then it'd be so much easier to tell him the truth; hopefully. Magnus's door was unlocked, so I just walked in, but I was taken by complete surprise to see Magnus and Alec sitting on the couch together; Christopher in Alec's arms. I just froze.
"You're back quicker than I thought you'd be." Magnus never even glanced my way, but Alec's head whipped in my direction. Alec's wide eyes locked with mine and I just felt my breath catch. The look in his eyes; I just felt like he knew. He couldn't really know though, could he? I was being ridiculous; there were too many assumptions he'd have to make to really know. Christopher was just a baby, I thought he looked like Jace, but he really just looked like a baby, right? Alec was just shocked I had a baby; that had to be it. Alec looked at me silently for a long moment before his eyes bounced back down to Christopher
"He's yours?..." Alec asked as his eyes flicked back up to me. I glanced to Magnus, but he still wasn't looking at me; I had no idea what he had already told Alec. I nodded slowly as I walked hesitantly into the room.
"…This is why you left like that…" Alec didn't say it like a question; he was just making a quiet observation, so I didn't bother acknowledging his comment.
"…How old is he?" I half expected Magnus to chime in, but he didn't.
"He was seven weeks yesterday." My voice was soft, and not nearly as confident as I would have liked. I felt like a deer in headlights; I wasn't sure what to do right now. Alec looked off in thought for a moment before he swallowed hard; I saw his Adam's apple bob in his throat. He looked back at me with eyes even wider than they'd been before.
"Clary?…" Alec started softly, and I noticed a slight waver to his voice. Magnus suddenly turned to me with a Cheshire cat grin.
"You never mentioned to me that you lived with that blond for two years…The one you went to have coffee with this morning." Shit! I tried to act nonchalant; I did not get this close for someone to find out before Jace.
"I guess it didn't come up."
"How was your visit, My Dear?...It seemed short, no?" Magnus questioned with a smirk.
"It's…Not…Over…" I started hesitantly as I bee lined over to Alec.
"…I just popped up to get Christopher actually…I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk right now." Alec tightened his hold on Christopher as I tried to scoop him out of his arms; I looked up to see him looking back at me with the widest eyes.
"How long has he known about Christopher?" I hesitated as I looked back at him; Alec looked more hurt than anything else. I got the feeling he thought Jace knew about Christopher and hadn't told him.
"Um…He doesn't." I thought that was the best response for the time being. I didn't even think it was possible for Alec's eyes to get wider than they already were; he loosened his hold on Christopher without another word. Magnus shadowed me as I quickly gathered up Christopher's bare necessities; three trips to get everything up here, but I was only taking an armful of stuff to Jace's. Magnus bombarded me with an array of questions, which I brushed off or answered vaguely. I figured I'd take the time to quickly nurse Christopher before I headed back down to Jace's; it hadn't even been an hour-and-a-half since Christopher ate last, but he wasn't one to refuse a feeding. I finally made it out of Magnus's apartment with a promise to stop by before I left the complex. Even if I didn't want to stop by Magnus's, I pretty much had to; I'd left a ton of Christopher's stuff there. I felt bad that I completely ignored Alec's soft request that I have Jace give him a call later; I figured Alec hadn't really thought that out, I doubted he wanted me to tell Jace he was hanging out at Magnus's. As I headed hastily for the elevator, I couldn't spare a single thought to dwell on what had just happened in Magnus's apartment, my entire concentration was elsewhere; this was it, I was finally going to tell Jace he was Christopher's father.
I wasn't sure if I was really holding myself together as the sound of the doorbell ringing pulled me out of my dazed and confused state. I couldn't be sure how long Clary was gone; in some ways if felt like forever, and in some ways it felt like she'd just left. I had no idea where my sudden burst of energy came from as I flew down the hallway to get the door.
"Hey." Clary's voice was small, apprehensive. My eyes immediately fell to the car seat that she was holding in her hand and I just froze. I caught quick glances of the little sleeping face and tiny bare feet, as Clary walked by me; I should have offered to help her, but I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe. I stood there, holding the door open, as she walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. I watched as she scooped the baby out of his car seat and cradled him in her arms; she had the biggest smile on her face as she looked down at him. I couldn't understand what she was saying, just soft cooing words, but she looked so happy; I couldn't be sure if I'd ever seen her look that happy before.
"Jace, there's someone I've been wanting you to meet…This is Christopher…" She looked up. It seemed to take her a second to find me, still awkwardly standing by the door, and she furrowed her eyebrows as she looked my way.
"…Jace, are you alright?" I nodded slowly as I looked back at her, but I still couldn't really find the strength to talk. I closed the door somewhat robotically as I headed towards the living room, my legs felt numb, as though they might just give out beneath me. I took the last few staggered steps over towards her and just collapsed down to my knees on the ground in front of her. I placed both my hands on the couch on either side of Clary's knees as I stared up at the baby in her arms. I'm sure she was watching me, probably thinking I'd lost my mind, and maybe I had, I wasn't sure, but I couldn't even pull my gaze from the baby to look at Clary right now. He was such a little peanut, maybe a little bigger than he was the day he was born, but it was so hard to tell, he was all bundled up at the hospital. He had light blond hair. He had been wearing a little cap at the hospital; I didn't know what color his hair was. My mind was racing, in need of answers, but I was just too overwhelmed to ask all the questions that were bombarding my thoughts. It was quiet for a long moment as I just gazed silently at the baby in Clary's arms. I was such a mixture of overwhelmed and numb, but I was starting to feel something else too, similar to how I'd felt that day at the hospital, but dull, barely noticeable, but there; a nervousness, mixed with a touch of excitement, mixed with wonder. The baby looked like he was squirming a bit as his eyes blinked open and closed. Clary shifted him in her arms and it made me so nervous.
"Christopher, did you say his name was Christopher?" I wasn't even sure where the words came from, but they tumbled out of my mouth as a soft shaky whisper.
"That's my middle name."
"What's his full name?"
"Christopher Alexander." There was an edge to her voice, an unmistakable nervousness. She named him after me and Alec.
It was quiet for a long moment. She repositioned Christopher so he was seated in her lap; one of her hands was positioned at his chest, her thumb and index finger cupping his neck, and her other hand was resting on his back. I felt like I was going to have a mini heart attack each time she repositioned him; I was petrified she was going to drop him. Her hand that had been resting on his back reached for a lock of hair at the nape of his neck.
"Um…I noticed last night that his hair is starting to curl at the nape of his neck, where it's a little longer…" She couldn't even curl the hair around her dainty finger because it was too short, but I could see the way the hair looped back in little half curls.
"…I think it's the humidity that made it start to curl, but I'm wondering if it will just keep curling…" She spoke fast, too fast; I could hear the anxiety in her voice. I just sat there with my mouth agape, staring at the baby in her arms. I couldn't be sure what thought was more terrifying at this very moment, the thought this little baby boy was mine, or the thought that he wasn't.
"…I ah…I wanted to tell you…Um…I kind of have the feeling…Maybe…Ah…I'm guessing that…Um…Did you…Ah…Maybe I shouldn't assume…Um…I don't know what to say." She was rambling, and not really making sense. Clary leaned forward and kissed Christopher on the head gently as she rubbed his back with her hand. I'm not sure where it came from, but I finally found my voice.
"Can I hold him?" It wasn't much of a voice, just a little scratchy whisper.
"Yeah." My eyes were glued to Christopher as Clary adjusted him so she was cradling him in her arms. Clary leaned forward towards me and I sat back on my feet; it wasn't the most comfortable position, but I didn't really care. My arms felt like jell-o as Clary shifted Christopher towards me, and I had expected she'd reposition my arms, but she didn't. I'd held Christopher before, but I couldn't really remember how to position my arms; I couldn't really remember much of anything right now. I held my breath as I quickly positioned my arms as best I could. She laid Christopher into my arms and I let out a staggered breath and tightened my hold on him as she slowly pulled her arms away.
I looked down at the sleeping baby in my arms, as Clary silently slid onto the floor next to me. I was at a complete loss for words. I had feelings and emotions I'd never felt before and I had no idea how to deal with them. With the last half hour or so a blur of anxious emotions, I'd never been as terrified as I was right now. I wasn't sure the exact moment it happened, the moment the pendulum tipped and I became more fearful that Christopher wasn't mine than that he was, but as I held him in my arms, gazed down at him, watched as his chest rose and fell with each breath he took, I was petrified she was going to tell me he wasn't mine. I needed to know for sure. I needed Clary to say the words and put to rest the crushing doubt I was feeling. I swallowed hard.
"I kind of already know how stupid this question sounds, but…I just…I need to ask…" I glanced up at Clary; she had tears slowly trickling down her cheeks. I had such a strong urge to wrap my arms around her and hold her tightly, but I had the oddest feeling I might cry if I actually did that.
"…He's mine…Isn't he?" She nodded slowly.
"Yes." I took a staggered breath as I looked back down at Christopher.
"I'm a…I'm a father…" I murmured the words just above a whisper as I was overpowered with a flood of emotions even more than I had already been feeling; it was the confirmation I was certain of but still fearing, but now even more fearful that I could be wrong. I felt this huge weight on my shoulders; responsibility, crushing responsibility, and fear. I felt fear greater than I ever had before; fear of the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child. I was so afraid of screwing up this perfect, fresh little person. My mind raced, panic for realizing I was responsible for another life, an odd sense of protectiveness and pride for this beautiful baby boy, a sense of purpose I had never known before, and even though I was suddenly scared to death I'd screw-up this little baby's life, I just automatically knew I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be the father my biological father wasn't. I wanted to be the father Mr. Lightwood didn't have to be when I was young, but I'd be better than him; I'd never disown my son, not for anything in the world. I had only held Christopher for a few moments, but this little baby boy had me completely wrapped around his finger. I cared more about him, about keeping him safe, about making him happy, about not disappointing him, about being there for him, than I ever thought I could care for another person.
"…I have a son…" I tightened my hold on Christopher as I closed my eyes and leaned forward to place a kiss on his forehead. I really had no idea how close to tears I was until my eyes closed, spilling a trickling of tears down each cheek. I pressed my lips briefly to Christopher's forehead before I squeezed my eyes shut tighter and held my face to Christopher's head for a long moment. I was trying to pull myself together, trying to hold back any further tears, trying to be as close to Christopher as I could, and just trying to hide my face from Clary; I felt so unnervingly vulnerable right now, I didn't want her to see me like this.
"…I love you so much." My words were just a soft breath. I did love him too. I was so filled with love, unquestionable love, and peace, so much peace.
"I'm so sorry, Jace…" I turned my head to the side and opened my eyes as I rested my cheek against Christopher's head. Clary's tearful eyes were turned down as she nervously tangled her fingers together in her lap.
"…I should have told you before, I should have told you when I found out…I shouldn't have waited so long that you figured it out on your own, that wasn't fair…I'm so sorry…I just didn't know what to say, I didn't know how to tell you…I just…When the weeks just kept going by, I finally took a test, and then another and another and another, and I finally had to go to the doctor…And I didn't know what to do…You were engaged, what was I supposed to do-" Her voice was rising as she quickly approached a tone of near hysteria. I carefully shifted Christopher into one arm and reached my hand out and rested it over her fiddling fingers; she jumped slightly as she glanced up at me with tears trickling down her cheeks.
"I don't want to talk about that right now."
"I should have told you." Her voice broke as more tears streamed down her cheeks. She shook her head as she bit her bottom lip. I squeezed her hands gently, reassuringly.
"You should have told me…You should have told me when you found out you were pregnant, you should have told me when you suspected you might be pregnant, but you didn't, and I know I'm partially to blame; I wasn't making it easy for you, and I know that…I'm so sorry you felt like you couldn't come to me…I'm so sorry you went through this all by yourself…If I hadn't let things get so bad between us…If I hadn't drove you away…If I said something to you when I found out you were pregnant…If I said something at the hospital…If I had known there was even the slightest chance…I just…God, Clary…I fucked up, a lot, I know I did…" I trailed off as I felt squirming in my arms. I looked down at Christopher; he was just kind of silently tossing his head and kicking his feet a bit. I pulled my hand away from Clary's as I tried to slightly adjust Christopher in my arms; I still didn't feel comfortable moving him too much.
"Try holding him high against your chest…" Her hands were already reaching out towards me.
"…He likes to sleep on his stomach." She didn't seem apprehensive or unsure in the slightest as she moved Christopher in my arms. Christopher was lying on my chest now; stomach down, his little face turned out towards Clary. I couldn't be sure how much time passed as I sat there silently watching Christopher sleep; the morning had been passing by in a dazed blur, and it could have just as easily been five minutes as a half hour that I sat there completely mesmerized by this little baby boy sleeping in my arms. I gazed down at Christopher completely awestruck. I stroked his head gently as his body rose and fell against mine in a steady rhythm. He was like a little heater; I could feel my chest getting sticky from sweat where he had been lying against me. I wasn't the only one getting hot though, the hair at the nape of his neck was damp from sweat, and the little half curls Clary had pointed out to me earlier, looked even more prominent now. I reached my hand up and trialed my fingertips gently over his tiny blond curls.
"…He's mine…This little person, this beautiful baby boy, is mine…I did this, I made this; we made this." I looked over and Clary had tears just trickling down her cheeks; she swatted them away as she nodded with a small smile. I glanced down at Christopher again and gently rubbed his back as Clary brushed her hand over his head.
I shimmed back so I could lean up against the couch and I carefully moved my legs into a more comfortable position; I extended my legs straight out in front of me and crossed my ankles. I kept my arms around Christopher as I leaned my head back against the couch and closed my eyes. I was exhausted; emotionally and physically. I still had a million unanswered questions racing through my mind, and my nerves and emotions were attempting to push me passed the point of delirium, but somehow, amidst the emotional chaos, I felt oddly at peace.
It had probably been about twenty minutes or so since Jace had closed his eyes, plenty of time for him to fall asleep if he wanted to, although, the way he was holding Christopher so securely, I highly doubted he was sleeping. I gazed down at Jace with Christopher sleeping in his arms; he looked so peaceful, so content. This is what I wanted; I wanted Jace to be happy about Christopher, I wanted him to love Christopher as much as I did, I wanted him to want Christopher in his life. I wasn't really sure how Jace was going to react, but I took the chance as I leaned forward and gently pressed my lips to his. I felt a gentle pressure in return, followed by a warm hand against the side of my face, and I couldn't help the fact that a few more tears trickled over. The kiss was soft and sweet, but brief. I pulled away and looked down at Jace smiling back at me. With one arm still holding Christopher, he left his hand resting against my face as his thumb gently grazed back and forth against my cheek. His eyes were half laden, as though I'd caught him on the brink of falling asleep, but his gaze was filled with utter affection. We both stared silently into each other's eyes for several minutes before Jace hooked his hand around the back of my neck and gently pulled me towards him.
"Come here." I shook my head.
"Jace, shouldn't we talk-"
"No…I don't want to talk about anything right now…I'm too tired, too overwhelmed…I already have too much to wrap my head around at the moment…And honestly, I'm not sure how much anything else matters anymore; nothing can change the past…" His tone was soft and gentle. He stared back at me silently as he applied a light pressure to the back of my neck. I leaned in slowly, apprehensively, and he kept one hand securely on Christopher as he sat up just slightly to bring his lips to mine. The kiss was romantic, tender, and although his lips lingered, he never deepened the kiss. He leaned back against the couch again and gazed into my eyes adoringly for a long silent moment.
"…I don't know the words…" His voice sounded so soft, so sweet, so thoughtful.
"…to even begin to tell you how I feel…because I've never felt like this before…But I wish you could see inside my heart, inside my soul, because I really wish you knew how much I love you." The day had been such a rollercoaster of emotions, and I couldn't help it when all of the tears I'd been trying to hold back, came rushing out.
"I love you too." His lips curved up in a soft smile and I quickly brought my lips to his; I didn't deepen the kiss, but I pressed my lips firmly against his, as though if I pressed my lips to his hard enough, he'd know how much I loved him. He dropped his hand from my face, and I pulled back. With one hand still on Christopher, Jace spread out his other arm and I didn't hesitate to crawl up next to him. I leaned my head against Jace's chest so I was face to face with Christopher, and I brought my hand up to rest on his back just above Jace's. Jace's arm came around me and he tightened his hold as he brought his lips to my ear.
"This is everything I've ever wanted, Clary." It was a soft whisper followed by a gentle kiss on my temple; I didn't respond to his comment, I was at a complete loss for words. He leaned down and kissed the top of Christopher's head and I couldn't help but smile as more tears poured over. I tried not to focus on the long talks that Jace and I still needed to have. I tried not to focus on London, and school, and work, and all of the other details that still needed to be figured out. I tried not to focus on how this would drastically change mine and Jace's relationship forever; a relationship that was already so complicated. I just tried to focus on the enormous weight that had been lifted off my shoulders; Jace finally knew he was Christopher's father.
I tried to commit the last hour or so to memory as best I could; the way Jace reacted when he found out Christopher was his son, the words that were said, the way Jace's teary eyes gazed down at Christopher with a look of complete adoration, the way Jace looked into my eyes so affectionately when he told me he loved me, the way that I felt. I closed my eyes and let myself get lost in my memories. As my body and mind finally started to relax, I realized I could hear Jace's heart beating; it was so comforting, so peaceful. I remembered listening to Jace's heartbeat once before and thinking it was fast, but not right at this moment, right now it was strong and steady; everything I needed.
A/N - Thank you all for reading, reviewing, following and favoriting. Your kind words of encouragement and support mean a lot : )
To all the wonderful readers that are wondering where I went (since I haven't updated in almost a year), my love of writing has had to take a back seat lately; I recently had a baby, and I've been spending every second of my free time with him. It's been a crazy year for me, but I'll get back to the story as soon as I can. I wish I could give you all a better idea of when I'll update next, but unfortunately, I just don't know…Happy writing and reading in the meantime!
Journey Open Arms