The first time he found Alec on the roof of the Institute, Jace didn't really understand why he had to come up here to let out his anger. It was cold, and the New York traffic was loud and distracting, and if Alec wanted to shoot arrows, why didn't he just do it down in the training room?
But Alec kept going up there, and Jace kept following. At any hour of the day or night, you could be sure that Jace has sat with his back to the door, just watching Alec shoot arrow after arrow until his hands were rubbed raw. It got to a point where Jace just stopped asking why, and started asking how can I help.
Damn, what I'd give for someone to ask me why.
The thought floated through his head like a piece of paper on the wind, quickly brought down by another choking sob that clawed it's way out of his throat. He didn't know how long he'd been up here, and he found that he really didn't care. His head was pounding and another wave shot through it every time another pathetic cry tore out of his throat. No one could hear him up here, or see him.
Maybe that's why Alec came up here so often.
The heel of his hands came up to wipe at his eyes roughly , resulting in just more blurred vision and hot tears sliding down his face. Why was he so fucking upset?
Oh yeah. Simon.
He'd tried to avoid him, he really did. After the bite, Jace felt like he couldn't breathe when he was around Simon. Of course, that wasn't really any different from normal, but this...this was worse. Every time he saw him, he was just reminded him of everything he could never have; a happy ending. Simon was with Clary, and obviously loved every minute that he was, that much was obvious. What with the constant kissing and the hugging and twirling and -
Anyways. He'd thought it would've gotten better with time, with distance and separation, but even that didn't work. Because Simon was everywhere, even when he wasn't physically around. Jace kept seeing everywhere; in Clary's smile, in Izzy's jokes, in Jace's blood, crawling towards his heart like a poison. So he turned to fighting, training. The only thing he really knew about himself right now. In the courtyard, sparring with Alec, he almost felt normal again. Felt like nothing had changed.
But then Inquisitor Herondale showed up just to punctuate the fact that none of this was in any way 'normal'.
Being sent to get Clary felt like the universe had a personal vendetta against him. Because whenever Clary wasn't in the Institute, she was with Simon. And there he was. Sitting on a bench, looking every bit like the normal Mundane that he had grown to hate so much, just soaking up the sun like it was all just a regular fucking day. But none of this was fucking normal, and he didn't know why he was so angry all of a sudden, they're dating, they're allowed to sit together, you prick -
And then Simon had to lean in to kiss her, and the only thing that Jace could see was red.
Because he had felt that way before. He had felt Simon underneath him, drawing blood into his mouth like sucking a bruise into his neck, and Jace knew he shouldn't interfere, he knew that Simon was never his to begin with, he knew all of this and he hated that he knew it. Because he wanted more. Jace hated that he wanted more, wanted to feel Simon under him again and again and again, and in more places than just his arm. A fire roared in his stomach as he watched them on the bench, his brain clouded over with pictures of him and Simon against a wall, Simon sucking bruises into his neck, Jace doing the same, and Jace knew that he shouldn't want this, but oh, he did.
By God, did he want that.
It took every ounce of strength in him to move out from behind the van and step up to the happy couple without tearing Clary away and launching her into the river before them. Jace had become detached, a cold anger slowly searing it's way through his veins, and he thought it better this way. Because at least now, he could actually stand to look at Simon.
But then the idiot vampire started to talk to him.
He barely heard anything that he was saying, just letting his autopilot take over, lest he say something completely out of line. Distantly, he heard his responses to Simon's genuine kindness, too sharp and cruel for someone this genuine. He just wanted to walk away, find a tree to collapse against and scream into his palms how fucking unfair it was that he couldn't have him.
Simon actually leaned into hug him. Thank God he had enough mindfulness to turn him down bitterly, words slicing through the air like knives. Lord knows what he would've done had Simon actually had the chance to hold him.
(A small, selfish part of him wants to go back and find out.)
Oh. He remembers why he's on the roof. It's because of Clary.
She knows that they're not related. It should feel like a weight lifted off of his chest, a responsibility that he no longer has to be the sole keeper of. But it doesn't feel like that.
This feels like a bitter acid, eating away at him. Repeating everything she said to him in bright, bright Technicolor. Of course he didn't tell her at first. He know's exactly what she's going to do, and he can't bear to see Simon hurt like that. If she thinks it's about her, it is. It's all about her and what she's going to do to Simon when she finally decides she's sick of her rebound. And Jace swears to every living thing, he doesn't want Simon to get hurt. He doesn't want Simon to see how terrible love is like he did when his dad snapped his falcon's neck at 6 years old.
But another part of him does. Another part, dark and selfish, dripping in blood and vampire venom wants to see Simon break. And he wants to be there to pick up the pieces, put him back together gently and carefully, until his cracks are no more than shining silver scars.
Jace wants to hate that part of himself, but he can't fucking do it.
She told him to feel, that emotions can be helpful. How can she so…blind. Can't she see that's exactly what got him up here in the first place? He feels so strongly around Simon, it fucking feels like its tearing him apart, that's what it fucking feels like. He can't even stand to think of him, let alone be near him. Simon like is a flame and he is gunpowder, and he knows to the core of his soul that he needs to leave him alone, stay far, far away from this sunshine bright man, but he - he just can't. Jace wants to know what it's like to go up in flames, and love every second of it.
Is this what you mean, Clary? Is this how you want me to 'feel'? he thinks viciously, triggering a new flood of tears to come down over his face, teeth grinding together. He's been up here for only 5 minutes. Already, he doesn't remember what he was crying about. He just knows that when Clary hurts Simon, he will rip her limb from limb and see how she fucking feels about that -
The door scrapes across the bottom of the roof, sending a jarring noise straight up Jace's spine that tightens every muscle in his body with apprehension, waiting for the mocking of whoever's behind him. That is, until he hears Alec start to talk about the Inquisitor, like he could care about whatever that old lady was doing. He barely hears anything Alec is saying to him, until his hand lands on his shoulder and turns him around gently, absorbing the sight of Jace's bloodshot eyes and tears streaked face.
He doesn't ask any questions. He just pulls Jace close to him and lets him feel a little bit longer.
They eventually end up with their backs to the door, looking out over the New York skyline in silence. Alec hasn't said anything since he came up here, and the only noise Jace has made is the aborted sobs that he tries desperately to keep pushed down in his chest. He's stopped crying, for the most part. Alec's shoulder is wet with the proof that it took him longer than it should have to stop, and his pounding headache provides more evidence. They simply sit side by side, Alec waiting for the explanation that he knows Jace desperately needs to give. But he doesn't push. He knows what it's like to be pushed.
"It's him, Alec." Jace finally says, barely louder than a whisper, but Alec can hear him clear as day.
"Of course its fucking Simon. He's been causing me problems since day fucking one and now I can't - I can't get him out of my head -" Jace continues, eyes screwed shut and hands pressing hard into his temples, as if he was trying to push any thought of Simon out of existence. God, if only it worked that way.
"What happened that night?" Alec asked slowly, glancing over at Jace to gauge his reaction. None was given; he simply stayed as he was, knees locked to his chest and hands buried in his hair.
"You can't tell anyone. Okay? Not Clary, or Izzy, or Luke, no one. No one can know, Alec."
"I swear it."
Jace swallowed hard, and his conversation with Simon came back in full force at the front of his mind. Of course, he shouldn't tell Alec. But at this point, he didn't really seem to care.
"Valentine - Valentine slit his throat open. Alec, it was - it was awful. There was so much blood, fuck -" Jace managed to get out before his throat closed up entirely. Images flashed through his head, the red red red of Simon's blood against his skin, the coppery tang in the room that hit him like a train. It was all Jace could do to not start crying again then and there. "I went in as Clary to - to try and save him."
"He bit you." Alec said quietly, a slow realization blooming in his chest.
"Yea." Jace whispered back, sounding like the shell of a man who had been broken one too many times and was tired of being put back together.
"What do you think, Alec?" Jace said, a venomous sort of desperation leaking into his voice like oil dripping from his tongue. "He bit me, and I liked it. I thought I liked him before, but now - now I can't get him away from me." At this, he finally looked up at Alec, eyes considerably dryer than before but still hard and cold with anger. "Alec. He's - he's in my skin, and my blood, and every time I look at him I want him so fucking badly. And - and I know I can't have him, can't ever fucking have him and it - it makes me want him even more."
Alec doesn't respond. How can he? What do you say to someone who's never going to get what they deserve, as much as they want it? Jace was right; Simon is happy with Clary -
And suddenly it all makes sense.
Of course he didn't tell her. He wanted to win Simon over, not come crawling to him to try and pick up the pieces. Alec's heart feels like its been cracked in 2, clean and sharp, no pain, just a dull aching throb of I'msorryI'msorryJaceI'msososorry. But even as Alec looked at Jace helplessly, he couldn't help but get stuck on something else he'd said.
"You liked him - before?" Alec said quietly, more to the stone roof under him than the person sitting next to him. It didn't matter; Alec could still feel Jace's sharp intake of breath after he realized what he'd just said. There was silence for a moment or two, as Jace tried to weigh how much of a mess he'd already made, and how much more could be made with his next few words.
"Of course I did."
There was nothing more to be said after that. Both of them knew that nothing could ever come of whatever Jace wanted. There were too many variables, too many things that could go wrong. Jace tried but failed to hold back another sob as the heels of his hands dug into his eyes, trying to stem the flow of tears that was steadily making it way down his face. Alec heard the choked noise and scooted closer to Jace, swinging an arm around him and pulling him into his side.
They sat that way for a long moment, Alec resting his head against the stone behind him as Jace continued to cry into his side. This was a part of Jace that didn't surface very often, and yet when it did, it came with a vengeance that required at least half an hour to calm him down. Every time he got this way, Alec's heart broke a little more for his parabatai, someone who deserves the world and gets nothing in return.
Jace still doesn't quite understand why Alec comes up here so often, but after today, he thinks he's starting to get it.