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I Know It's Expected That I Be Serene

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can i come ober

Ofc

Are u okay?

yes i just want so talk and cuddle or something

Okay. Want me to set up anything?

fma? 2009?

 

I gotchu

 

Simon was slightly worried.

First of all, Clary wasn’t usually this reserved in her texting. Her lack of exclamation points coupled with the request for her favourite show could only mean one thing: his friend was way more down than she was letting on.

But he would deal with that when she brought it up because, well, he was also happy; Clary and him used to do this a lot – go over to each other’s (parent’s) place to hang out and watch something they both more or less enjoyed and maybe even talk about their lives and their feelings and- stuff.

But ever since the whole… half-angel manic pixie dream girl mom reveal (the HAMPDGMR) and everything that went down in consequence of the HAMPDGMR, they simply hadn’t done this sort of thing anymore. Sure, they hung out with all their other friends, at parties at Magnus’ loft or karaoke night at the Hunter’s Moon. And while that was fun, it was different when it was just the two of them.

Even during their brief dating stint, there wasn’t much they did that they’d done as friends. Simon had enjoyed what they’d done together, of course, but looking back it had been obvious that this wasn’t ideal for them.

 Ideal was this: Lugging the connector cable for the TV into the vicinity of his laptop, powering both up and then loading a site with English subtitles of Hiromu Arakawa’s masterpiece Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Also ideal: Clary bringing weird snacks with unpronounceable names from the Polish bodega down the street from their old high school. That store had become their first stop after class when they were younger and would sneak candy into movie theatres or curl up on the couch in Clary’s living room and watch Audrey Hepburn flicks with Dot. Simon was almost certain he would be able to eat some and keep them down by now.

 Well, actually, in a perfect world, Simon would have loved to cook something for Clary (the food at the Institute was a far cry from what any sane person would call comfort food. Or edible). But one of the results of moving out of his mom’s place just after he’d become a bloodsucking creature of the night was that he owned basically no dishes, or pots, or kitchen utensils.

Even compiling his stuff with Maia’s (who had lived next to a Chinese restaurant for her entire adult life) yielded five plates, one bowl, two chipped mugs, and somehow a ridiculously large amount of cutlery. So cooking anything more than a bowl of cereal was out of the question until they got around to buying some usable stuff. Simon could already see himself and Maia filling their birthday and Christmas/Hanukkah wishlists with basic household items for years into the future. Ah, the joys of adulthood.

 Still, this was almost the Saturday morning of his dreams. In the past year, Simon had come to understand that while moments of normalcy were few and far between, when one came along they had to hold on tight for as long as they could. Which was exactly what he was planning to do.


 

“I’m telling you, Polish Bodega lady has to be a Downworlder. We just have to find out what flavor she is.” Clary started on her new favourite topic as soon as Simon opened the door. She draped her damp jacket over the back of a kitchen chair to dry, dropped a plastic bag on the table, and re-tied her wet ponytail.

 Simon started rummaging through the contents of the bag. “Okay, one: I don’t like “flavors”, at all, two: how do you know she’s not just a normal human being who just happens to own a windowless shop where she basically lives 24/7? Oooh, you brought those weird milk drops!”

 Clary had her back turned to him while she stretched as far as she could to reach the plates and mugs on one of the high shelves above the sink, not quite managing it. “She never sleeps. Sometimes I come by that store when I’m on patrol, and she must be there all night. Every night. And every day, too. Either she never sleeps, or she has at least two clones.”

 “Maybe she has an identical twin sister.” Simon took pity on her and handed her the dishes. Clary took them and ducked out under his arm from between the sink and his body in one fluid movement. Then she set to digging through the fridge for some soda for herself, and a bag of A+ for him, hugging the plates and mugs to her body with her free arm.

 “I think I caught her staring at my runes. She definitely at least has the Sight.”

 “Oh, so your angel-ninja sense is tingling? Tell me, is there a type of demon that loves to disguise itself as an old lady and watch reruns of Polish soap operas?”

 “There’s only so many demons that can be terrorizing Manhattan bankers at a time, you know.”

 Simon let out an undignified snort of laughter, of the kind that, had he been drinking at the time, would certainly have made him exhale his drink through his nose. Clary stuck her head over the fridge door grinning triumphantly. Then she emerged fully from its depths with a bottle of coke wedged horizontally under her chin, the plates under her arm, right hand holding the mugs, and left hand holding the blood bag. Standing up was a precarious balancing act, and Simon rushed over to take the bottle from between her chin and collarbone. After he snatched up the bags of sweets from the table they continued their procession into Simon’s bedroom.

 Maia and him had moved in together just after New Year’s, into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Fort Greene. They had decided against sharing a bedroom, though, mostly because of their sleep schedules. As Maia had put it, one partner strangling the other because a certain vampire keeps making noise all through the night while a certain werewolf is trying to sleep is not very conducive to a healthy relationship. Of course, they often spend the night together anyway, although those weren’t the nights when they did much sleeping.

 “Come lie down, thought you wanted to cuddle,” Simon said, sitting down on the bed and patting the spot next to him. Clary flopped down and threw her legs over his. Balancing the snack plate carefully on her lap she fluffed the pillows behind her and finally settled down.


 

It was several skipped episodes, an entire bag o’ blood, and a good two thirds of the coke later when Simon got to find out why exactly Clary was in such urgent need for Comfort TV Time.

 “Did you know jat Ling’s name doejn’t need the ng sound at all? It’sh Lin in Japanese and”, Simon swallowed the milk drops, “the Chinese translation both, so they just changed it for us for some reason.”

 “You’re going to regret eating those,” Clary said with such a comical expression of distaste on her face that Simon couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She rolled her eyes. “Suit yourself. I won’t mop it up, though.”

 Simon was still grinning when Clary reached forward to pause the episode on a rather unfortunate still of Major Louis Armstrong in motion.

“Do you think Izzy would like this,” she said, suddenly serious.

“Who wouldn’t like Fullmetal Alch-

“You’re right. Of course she would. Continue.”

 Simon took her vague gesture towards the screen as a command to unpause. About half a minute later she piped up again, this time not even bothering with the pause button. “Her favourite character would have to be Mei-Chang.”

 “Really?,” Simon indulged, reminding himself that he had in fact watched this episode several times in his life(un-life?) already and could live (hah) with not catching every subtitle, “I would have thought Olivier, Lan Fan… or maybe Riza? One of the really cool badass ladies.”

 “Izzy may be a really cool badass but trust me she loves little girls with a passion for science. Did I tell you about that dinner party at Magnus’ place? She was off in a corner with Madzie all evening, talking about chemistry or something. It was adorable.”

 “Yes, I – I don’t know how I managed to forget. You’ve told me about it... several times now.” Simon was quite proud of his wallowing pause here.

 Clary said, “Well.” and when Simon looked over to her she was visibly re-invested in subtitles. He suppressed a fond headshake and decided to let her have this one.

 The next time they got through a good fifteen minutes during which Clary only noticeably stopped herself from interrupting twice and Simon started quietly wondering if eating those drops was a bad idea after all.

 “Could we invite her to something like this?”

 “Izzy, you mean?”

 “Ah, yes. I just mean, like, we’ve hung out at the Hunter’s Moon and the Institute and stuff but I don’t know, would she like just… watching anime? Snacking?”

 Simon really did put up with a lot, huh. “I don’t know, what do you think?”, he said in his least exasperated voice and leaned forward once again to press pause. He looked over to Clary, who was searching through one of the bags of candy for the last red one with the utmost concentration.

 “I think she’s probably never been able to do something like this but that… she’d probably like to try. And I guess it depends on the show if she’d enjoy it. Her attention span is better than ours’ for sure, though. Maybe I’ll ask her.”

 “Instead of me?! I’m hurt, Fray.” Simon placed a hand over his unbeating heart and pulled what he hoped to be the most devastating pout since Shrek’s puss in boots. He probably didn’t succeed in that.

 Clary repaid his efforts by hitting his shoulder. He whined out an ooow and curled up to smoosh his head into Clary’s side. Her shirt muffled his sigh, and she recoiled from his breath, pushing him away with a giggle.

“Simon, stop that! You know I’m ticklish!”

Instead of letting up, Simon wrapped his arms around Clary’s waist.

“Zis vasn’t my decision.” Simon was using his best Bela Lugosi accent. Clary’s eyes widened in mock horror and the corner of her mouth twitched upward. “You brought zis on yourself. If Izzy is going to be your new best friend now, you must face...ze octopus!” His legs wrapped around Clary’s knees while she wriggled and squirmed and laughed.

 “Hang on, what do you mean ‘my new best friend’? Simon Lewis, you’re not suddenly getting jealous, are you?” Clary asked when she had successfully freed herself from Simon’s grasp and they were both lying on their backs, looking at the ceiling.

 “Pssh. No,” Simon lied. Clary had the decency to look slightly guilty. “Maybe you just have a crush on Izzy, ever thought about that?”

 He had expected a pillow to the face for that tease, or another assault on his shoulder, or a bit of banter. What Simon had not expected was Clary suddenly looking all serious.

 “Huh. You know, I’ve never considered that. Thanks, Simon,” she said, and Simon was quite proud of himself for being as good at identifying sarcasm as he was, but he really and truly couldn’t tell what Clary was thinking then. As his friend leant forward to unpause their series he decided she must just be a bit tired of antics for today. Understandable, really.

 Yesterday’s summer storm had turned into persistent rain. It pitter-pattered against the fire escape and the windowsill, occasionally cutting through the sound coming from the TV’s speakers. During the peak of the heat wave, Maia and Simon had opened all the windows in the apartment to let in a breeze and had jammed whatever was handy at the time underneath to keep them from closing. There was a guitar foot rest wedged in the crack of Simon’s bedroom window.

 “Simon?”

“Yeah?”

“I definitely have a crush on Izzy.”

 The pause button had never been pressed so quickly. It would have been a world record, if world record judges liked to hang out on rickety fire escapes peering through windows to see if random teenagers performed laws-of-physics-defying feats from the comfort of their beds.

 Simon lay back down, face to face with Clary. She seemed way more casual than what Simon thought was appropriate for the situation.

 “So…Izzy. Isabelle. Really tall, beautiful, kinda scary. Terrible cook. We’re still talking about our Izzy here?”

“Yep.”

“Huh.” Simon let that sink in for a minute.

“And, uh. How long have you known?”

Clary let out a hollow chuckle. “Consciously? About 30 seconds.”

Simon sat up. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Clary. I know you won’t like hearing it, but I’ve been your friend for over ten years, so I feel it is my duty to tell you this: You are such a dumbass.”

 With a big sigh, Clary rolled over and buried her face in a pillow. Simon could barely make out her voice, but what she said sounded distinctly like a whine.

“What was that?”

Clary came up for air. ”I know.” Definitely whiny. With a very long vowel sound.

“I mean, you’re in so deep that I’m surprised you don’t need scuba gear yet.”

A groan.

Simon bumped her shoulder gently with his elbow. “Did I make you skip to the ‘wallowing in your own misery’ phase of having a crush?”

“No, it’s just...I can’t believe I never noticed.” Clary sat up, her legs crossed, facing Simon. “I only spent, oh, the last year with Izzy, every day. And– and looking back on some… things, it’s becoming really clear that I’ve had a crush on her for a while. And now I just feel like the biggest idiot in the world, and also what the fuck do I do now, Simon?” While she spoke Clary had let her head sink into her hands. Simon was of the opinion that they had just passed ‘wallowing’ and were well on their way to “breakdown”.

 Simon leaned forward and, as gently as he could, pried Clary’s hands away from her face and held onto them for safekeeping.

“Hey, slow down, ‘cause this is bringing back really bad memories of pre-finals all-nighters.” This at least got a little smile out of Clary. “Now, can we back up just a bit to the ‘things’ you’re currently re-examining?”

Clary thought for a moment and then answered slowly, as though she was choosing her words with care. “Like, for example, why I love when she does my makeup. She’s really focused and just gets so close to my face and then she does that thing were she bites her lip and narrows her eyes, and sometimes I just want to lean forward and… kiss her?”

 Immediately and seemingly instinctually, a grin tugged its way up the corner of Simon’s mouth. “Should I go get that scuba gear?” Clary rolled her eyes in response, but continued her recounting of Isabelle’s many virtues.

“And, uh, I always pick Izzy as a training partner, even though she does not go easy on me, because I kind of like when she kicks my ass.”

Simon only held in a dirty joke by viciously biting his own tongue. Clary was in distress. In distress.

His friend looked up at him from behind a strand of hair as if sensing his struggle but, judging by the nearly imperceptible untrackable movement of her eyebrows, refusing to acknowledge it. She headed on.

 “Like, Izzy isn't really like anyone I've ever met before? And it's so - uh, exciting? Just to see her, like, do things her way. From the start she's made me feel like I belong, whenlike no one else really bothered to try?” Clary exhaled and shook her head. “I don't know. Maybe that's a bit much. I mean, what if we start dating and it immediately goes sideways? It’s just - we have too much history together. Maybe that doesn’t make any sense?”

Simon frowned. “No, I get it. She's really important to you.” He tilted his head to catch Clary’s gaze again. “And I know you’re really important to her. I don’t think one bad date could end your friendship. Also, you’ve known her for a year. If you want to call that ‘too much history’, I guess it might be, but when has that ever stopped you?”

Clary barked out a laugh. “Yeah, our relationship wasn’t exactly a success, though.”

“Okay, that’s fair, but Izzy isn’t me. And you aren’t the same you you were a year ago. Things are different.”

Clary looked ready to argue again, but kept quiet. Her body language was singularly vulnerable but her expression was more thoughtful than anything, brow furrowed tightly. She picked absently at her fingers which were still stained with oil paints, green and purple and gold. The rain continued its assault on the fire escape.

 Eventually, after a long moment of silence, Clary stretched out on the bed next to Simon and, tugging at his shoulder, gently nudged him to lie down too. Clary tilted her head so it was lying against his shoulder and they lay there listening to the city they had been hearing their entire lives. But it was different now, wasn’t it? Simon had super vampire hearing and Clary had her angel ears and this wasn’t the city they had known anymore, because they knew what hid under the surface. But then, well, New York had never been the city they thought they knew. Simon had meant what he’d said: Clary had changed, and he had changed, and their old world felt lifetimes away. A year ago he would have said this was a bad thing. Today, he... wasn’t so sure.

 “Should I tell her, do you think?”

“Hmm? What?”

“Izzy.”

“Oh.” Simon tried to get his train of thought off the existentialist detour track. “Uhh,” he said, intelligently, “I don’t know. Give me a sec.”

“Yeah, of course. Can you think while we watch?”

 Simon nodded and Clary unpaused the episode. She propped her head up on her hand to get a more comfortable angle at the screen, and Simon’s eyes caught on the rune on her neck, right against the edge of her jawline. That was the first one, the healing rune that had seemed so out of place the night he’d found her by the church. By the Institute. Now, he couldn’t really imagine Clary without the runes, each a different part of her new life. There were the quick, simple ones Jace had drawn in the beginning, joined by the strong, decisive strokes of Isabelle and the slender script that indicated Alec, and of course Clary’s own hand, elegant and curving. Some for protection and some for strength, for courage and speed, fresh ones and older, darker marks. There was a story for every single one. A bit of experience. A battle won or lost.

 He didn’t often dwell on this, but it sometimes occurred to Simon just how strong his best friend was. She had been through so, so much and come out on the other side a victor, maybe through luck, but also through sheer stubbornness. It was one of the things he loved (and sometimes loathed) about Clary. Simon was extraordinarily grateful that, even though both of them had lost a life, they had gained a new one, and one that had the other in it.

 “Clary.”

She turned her head so she could look at him. One side of her face reflected the  flickering lights of the TV. “Yes?”

“I think you should do what you think is best. Trust your gut. You’re gonna be fine.”

Clary looked disappointed. “That wasn’t much of an answer, oh great oracle,” she said.

 “Well, that’s the only one you’re gonna get. This oracle is closed for the day,” Simon replied. He crossed his arms over his chest to emphasize his statement. Then, very quickly and stumbling over his words a little, he added: “I just really respect you and I think you’re really smart and have good judgement, and you can sort this out for yourself. Also if anything goes wrong this means you can’t blame me, so–” The rest of the sentence was cut off by Clary rushing to hug him. Her shoulder banged into his chin rather painfully. He would, of course, not have it any other way.

“Thank you, Simon. I love you.”

Simon smiled into Clary’s shoulder. “Love you too, Fray.”