**The character names of The Mortal Instruments are owned by Cassandra Clare. The original content, ideas and intellectual property of this story are owned by ddpjclaf, 2010. Please do not copy, reproduce, or translate without express written permission.**
Excuse the massively long A/N, but since this is the first of a brand new story, I thought I'd give you a little summary of what you're in for here. This is going to be angsty. I'm warning you now. We're going to be dealing with some disturbing subjects, lots of pain, and lots of heartache. There may even be some triggers for those that are sensitive to certain topics dealing with grief, loss, abuse, etc…
I do promise some fluff later on. Which brings me to my next warning: I WRITE EXTREMELY FLUFFY. I don't hide this and I don't apologize for it. Just be forewarned now and if extreme fluff isn't your thing, you probably do not want to read this—or anything I write for that matter. If you do choose to continue to read, do so knowing that you have been warned of the massively huge amount of flufftasticness.
This is AU/AH (Alternate Universe/All Human) and because of this, the character WILL be OOC (Out of Character). I'm going to try to maintain as much as I can, but because of the AU nature, it will be impossible to do that completely. Jace will still be sarcastic and all that. Clary, even though she is weaker here due to what has happened in her life, I'm still going to try and keep her feisty with Jace. Try being the operative word.
Note: I'm a soccer freak, so I'm incorporating the game in here. You don't have to like it but I'm making Jace a jock of sorts. Just telling you now…but not one of those popular jock sorts, he's going to be broody and dark, but he's going to be an accomplished athlete—among other things. Since he's not a Shadowhunter here, I wanted something physical I could get him to be obsessive about—so that's where I got that. I'll be channeling his 'talents' into human things so watch for those. Clary's too.
As always, I will provide my 'playlist' here so you will know what songs went with writing these chapters. This will be a slower updating story than ROGUE was, only because I want to spend more time developing these characters since they are a whole new Jace and Clary here. Since ROGUE was a continuation of CoG, I didn't really have to develop that much since the characters were laid out there for me—this will be different. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!
A special thank you Thorntangle for catching some things I wouldn't have.
Chapter Songs: (link to playlist will be in my profile):
Possibility by Lykke Li
From Where You Are by Lifehouse (You'll see a decent amount of Lifehouse in this story—I already have several of their other songs picked out for later songs. :) )
Four months. Not a significant amount of time to most people weaving their way through life. Ones whose days continued in the same monotonous rituals they'd held for as long as they could remember. But to Clary, four months was not just a mere passage of time. An insignificant number by which to measure the days past. Four months meant change, devastation, heartbreak. It meant loss. And it had been that exact amount of time since Clary had been to the fields. In the days and months prior, she'd come every day with her brother Jonathan. She sat in the stands and sketched while he practiced shooting and dribbling as it was his goal to make starting forward his senior year. Yet now, that would never happen.
Clary swiped a tear from her cheek as the sun broke over the horizon, bathing the dew covered grass in pale light. White lines had been recently chalked and shone bright against the emerald sea stretching out before her. The goals were in place—minus the nets—most likely for practice which should be starting soon. Part of her wondered why she thought she could handle this, being in this place without him, but another part never felt closer to him than here. She missed him. If she closed her eyes and really concentrated, she could still see his vibrant smile and shining blond hair.
Shaking her head, she tried to push the thoughts of him aside, but only managed in bringing forth a flood of much more disturbing images and sounds. They flashed through her mind like a slide-show. The screech of tires against wet pavement pierced her ears as the loud crunch of metal echoed through her memory. The spider webbing cracks stretched across the windshield in front of her. Warm fluid trailed from her hairline into her eyes, turning everything in her vision red. Pain throbbed through her head making it nearly impossible to stay conscious. But she did, and somehow managed to turn, looking for Jonathan. He was there, slumped forward in his seat. His head hung and eyes were closed, blood masking his beautiful face. She'd called his name, reached out, and shook his shoulder. But he did not respond. His chest stood perfectly still.
A straggled cry escaped Clary's lips as the memories assaulted her. She leaned over, buried her face in her knees, and wrapped her hands around her legs. Her body shook with grief and painful questions. Why had she insisted on going out that night? It wasn't like she'd needed ice cream right then. The weatherman had warned of the storm all day, warned that it could come up suddenly, but the skies were clear when they left. Surely there would be at least some sign it was coming she had told herself. But there was none. Not a speck of rain, not a cloud in the sky—until the thunder rolled and the rain pounded down. In an instant, the dreamy, sun-filled day turned into one of nightmares.
The sound of feet moving over crisp grass and the pattering of a ball rolling pulled Clary out of her memories. She lifted her head, spying a figure at the other end of the field. By the stance it looked like a boy, but the light was still dim and made identifying the person nearly impossible. Not once in all the times she and Jonathan had watched the sun rise here had anyone else come, so seeing this person took Clary by surprise.
As the sun's rays stretched further across the field, she could finally make out the person before her. Tall, lean, blond, and definitely male. He stood at the goal opposite her wearing a black hoodie and shorts, dribbling a ball in a zig-zag pattern. Running down the field he passed the ball between his feet, taking turns dribbling with his left and right—his left looking slightly more dominant. Clary had never paid much attention to anyone playing soccer before besides Jonathan, and had always thought he was the best player in the world. But this boy—whoever he was—moved with such grace, such precision, in a magnitude she'd never seen.
He stopped at midfield, toed the ball, flung it into the air, and juggled it off his ankle, knee, head, chest, and then back to his foot. Letting it fall back to the ground, he leaned over slightly, his hands hanging loosely in front of him as if he were about to start a race. Clary saw his shoulders rise and fall with a breath and then he took off, the ball never moving far in front of him. He ran as if he wasn't pushing a ball down the field, like it didn't even register in his mind. His control was astounding. As he neared the goal, Clary felt her own heart race with excitement. She'd always loved watching Jonathan play, but this boy's skills were beyond any she'd seen before. He'd reached the goal box by then and lashed out, sending the ball flying through the air and sinking right in the top right corner.
She wanted to jump up and cheer, but caught herself just in time. Glancing down at her hands, she realized that watching the boy had completely taken her mind off Jonathan—something that hadn't happened since that day back in March. Guilt flooded over her for forgetting him—even for just that brief moment. On the day they put him in the ground she made a vow to herself to never let him leave her mind. To never forget the blame she held for his death. Her mother, Jocelyn, had sent her to therapists to try to dispel the guilt Clary felt, but she refused to let it go. Jonathan had lost his life, and with it went hers. In her mind, she didn't deserve happiness, absolution. There was no denying it. It just was.
When the boy's back was to the bleachers, she stood and made her way to the street, continuing down the three blocks to her home. The road was busier now, people leaving to go to work, continuing on with their lives when she couldn't. After several minutes her home came into view, a white two-story with a full length covered porch, complete with a swing and blue shutters. A huge U-haul took up the street in front of a neighboring house. The nearly identical residence had been for sale for several months. Just last week a sold sign had been placed in the yard. It would be strange having someone else living there. Clary and Aline had grown up together and had been good friends up until her father's transfer last winter. The last time she'd seen her was at Jonathan's funeral.
Turning her gaze from the white and orange truck, Clary started up the walk to her house, trying her hardest to keep her eyes from the stones, containing hers and Jonathan's handprints from each year of their life, that lined the path. Tears stung her eyes and she stopped just shy of the porch, gathering her wits and forcing the sobs back. Slowly making her way to the swing, she sat, covered her face with her hands, and took a few deep breaths. At that moment, she heard a screen door slam and voices move across the lawn next door.
"Why am I bringing his stuff in? He can do it himself." A girl's voice echoed through the empty space between the houses.
"He said to leave it, Izzy. You know how he is with change. He just needed a break." A boy's voice answered.
"A break my ass, Alec. He just took off so we'd have to do it for him."
Clary heard the boy, Alec, sigh. "Fine. Don't help then. I'll do it myself."
"Fine!" A loud bang sounded from inside the truck. "Keep babying him, Alec. Keep reinforcing his issues and he'll never get over them."
"You know it's not something that's easy to just 'get over.' You should be more sensitive."
Izzy snorted. "Sensitive? Oh, that's classic. I should be sensitive to him? Give me a break." More slamming and crashing sounds came from the truck.
Clary stood and walked to the front door, eager to escape inside so her new neighbors wouldn't know she had overheard their discussion. Just as she reached out and grabbed the knob, she heard the girl's voice again.
Clary turned toward the voice which sounded much closer than before. Her eyes fell on a girl, about her age, with long black hair that fell to her mid-back. She was dressed in tight black pants, chunky boots, and a matching fitted top.
"Hi," Clary said weakly, her grief still clouding her throat.
The girl smiled and boldly climbed the steps, sticking out her hand. "I'm Isabelle. And that," she gestured over her shoulder to a boy, slightly older than her, that stood just outside the truck, "is my brother, Alec." His coloring matched hers so it was no surprise they were siblings.
Clary reached forward and took Isabelle's hand. "Clary. It's nice to meet you." She glanced back at the overflowing truck behind Alec. "Do you need some help?"
Isabelle raised her brows. "Oh, you don't have to—"
Clary waved her hand in the air. "It's no big deal. I'm not doing anything else today anyway. Just let me tell my mom where I'll be." She paused. "Do you want to come in? I'm sure she'd like to meet you."
Isabelle shrugged. "Sure." She turned for a moment to Alec and held up a finger indicating she'd be right back.
Clary led Isabelle into her house. She knew her mother would most likely be in her studio busying herself with her latest project. Ever since Jonathan died, Jocelyn had immersed herself in her craft more than ever before. Clary knew it was her mother's way of coping, and it seemed to be helping her, but she couldn't help but miss her mom, miss the way she used to be.
As they passed through the living area, Isabelle stopped abruptly at the shelving unit and picked up a photograph. "Wow. Who's this?" She turned the photo toward Clary.
Clary's chest clenched as she took in the dancing dark eyes, pale blond hair, and wide smile. "Um, that's my brother, Jonathan." Her voice broke when his name left her lips.
Isabelle frowned, flipped the picture back over, and studied it again. "He doesn't look like you."
Clary bit her lip. "No. He resembled our father more. I look like Mom."
Isabelle glanced up. "Resembled?" She caught the past tense.
Clary swallowed hard and nodded, looking away. "Yeah. He died last spring."
"Oh." Isabelle's eyes widened. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have—" She set the photo back on the shelf.
Clary attempted to smile. "It's okay." She cleared her throat. "My mom's probably in her studio."
"Yeah, she's an artist." She led Isabelle up the stairs. "She has a little shop in town where she sells her stuff and crafting supplies. It's pretty cool. I work there a few days a week."
"What about your dad? What's he do?"
"He was a lawyer." Clary looked at Isabelle and saw her grimace. She smiled and shook her head. "It's okay. I never knew him. He died before I was born."
Isabelle nodded and glanced around nervously. It was a normal response, Clary was finding. When people found out their family had suffered two deaths, most people looked at them differently after that. It was tragic, yes, but more than anything Clary just wished people could look at her as Clary, and not the girl who lost both her dad and her brother.
Booming base from her mother's music vibrated through the hall and got louder as they approached the door. Clary twisted the knob and pushed it open. Jocelyn stood with her back to them, her head swaying to the beat.
"Mom," Clary called out.
Jocelyn turned, her eyebrows raised and her mouth fixed in an O shape. Her auburn hair was pulled into a messy bun and held in place by a small paintbrush. Loose wisps fell and framed her face. She stood and wiped her paint covered hands on her overalls. Her eyes danced between Clary and Isabelle.
"Mom, this is Isabelle. Her family is moving in next door."
Jocelyn's face lit up. "Oh! I'm Jocelyn. It's nice to meet you." She stuck her stained hand out to Isabelle, who hesitated briefly while inspecting it for wet paint, and then took it. "Where are you moving from?"
"From the city."
"Really? What made your family decide to move out here?"
Isabelle looked down uncomfortably as if she really didn't want to answer.
Seeing this Clary cleared her throat. "Um, Mom, they're in the middle of moving stuff in. I said I would help them out, so I wanted to tell you where I'd be."
"Oh, okay," Jocelyn said, effectively distracted from her earlier question. "I'll be leaving for the shop soon, so take your keys because I'm going to lock up."
Clary nodded and turned to Isabelle. "Well, I'm all yours."
Isabelle smiled and then turned her attention to Jocelyn. "Thanks for letting us borrow Clary. We'll get her back to you mostly unscathed."
Jocelyn smiled and waved to them as they made their way back out the door.
"Mostly unscathed?" Clary asked, raising one brow.
"Yeah. I have three brothers so, you know . . ."
Clary stopped just as they'd exited the house. "Three?"
Isabelle rolled her eyes. "I know, right? Why my parents couldn't produce at least one other double X is beyond me."
Clary laughed as they made their way across the yard to the truck. She liked Isabelle. Although she wasn't quite sure how she felt about three boys running around. "So, your brothers . . ."
Isabelle flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Yeah. Well, you saw Alec. He's eighteen and will be taking classes at the college this fall. And then there's Max, he's only nine." She leaned over and picked up a box near the back of the truck. Clary followed her lead and took one herself. The girls started toward the house.
"And the third?"
Isabelle huffed. "Jace. He's a total ass."
"You don't get along?"
"Jace doesn't get along with anyone." She smirked at Clary. "You'll see."
A nervous giggle escaped her throat as she followed Isabelle up the stairs.
Isabelle glanced over at the box Clary held and rolled her eyes. Juggling her own package with her knee and one arm, she pointed to the room across the hall. "That one goes in there."
Clary nodded and turned toward the room. Once inside she walked over to the wall, placed the box on top of another and stood, realizing at once that this room was the exact opposite of hers and she could see straight into hers through the bare window. Thinking to herself that she needed to remember to keep her shades drawn, she spun around and ran smack into someone else, knocking the box right out of their hands. It toppled over, scattering its contents across the wood floor. Without looking up, she squatted and began scooping up the books and trophies that had fallen out, placing them back in the box.
"I'm—oh—so—God—sorry." Her face flared as she continued to throw the contents back where they'd come from. Finally, she chanced a glance up and wished she hadn't. Crouching across from her was another boy, but this one looked nothing like Isabelle. His annoyed golden eyes stared at her and a mess of blond curls hung over his forehead. As hard as she tried, she could not manage to move her gaze from his. "Uh," she tried to verbalize once more, "Um." Her cheeks burned again at her inability to speak like an intelligent person.
He pinched his brows together. "Do you suffer from some sort of speech impediment, or does my mere presence render you incapable of uttering anything other than incoherent syllables?"
Clary let out a slow breath and stood. He followed. She glanced up at him and narrowed her eyes. "Are you always this big of a jerk to people you don't know?"
"Yes, he is," Isabelle's voice came from the doorway. "Clary, this is Jace—the ass I was telling you about."
Jace turned toward Isabelle. "Why are you talking about my ass to complete strangers? And furthermore, what's she doing in my room?"
"You know, I'm standing right here," Clary said, allowing irritation to saturate her voice. "You don't have to talk like I'm not."
Slowly Jace faced her, amusement flickering in his eyes. "Fine, Clary is it?"
"What you are doing in my room?"
Clary straightened her posture in an attempt to seem confident. "I was helping Isabelle bring some boxes in." She turned and pointed to the one she'd placed against the wall. "She told me to bring it in here."
He continued to stare at her, making her feel figity.
"If you'd like I could take it back downstairs and you can bring it back up yourself?"
One corner of his mouth perked up in a lazy smile. "No, that won't be necessary."
Clary rolled her eyes and attempted to move past him, but managed to catch her foot on the box he'd dropped and fell forward. Just before she hit the ground, Jace reached out and caught her, his arms wrapping around her waist. He pulled her upright, keeping his hands just above her hips as he steadied her. She jerked out of his grasp. "Thanks." Smoothing her hands over her rumpled clothing, she looked at him.
He pursed his lips. "Difficulties walking and talking . . . If I were you I'd get that checked. A girl your age should be able to do both without a problem."
Clary let out a huff, pivoted on her heel, and stormed out of his room. Isabelle caught her as she came through the door and flung her arm over her shoulder. "See. Complete ass."
"You weren't kidding." Clary mumbled as she glanced back at him. He stood near the door pawing through one of the boxes. As if he could sense her gaze, he looked up, catching her eye. In an effort to hide her chagrin, she narrowed her eyes and whipped her head back to the front, but not before heat flooded her cheeks once again. To her embarrassment, his cocky grin let her know her blush hadn't gone unnoticed.