Jace just chuckled. He folded his hands on the table and looked at Sebastian. "How about," Jace paused and gave a fake grin, "You mind your own business, and stop being a dick?" He leaned back into his chair and took a swig of his iced tea. Raising one eyebrow, he challenged Sebastian to say anything else.
Alec tensed, recognizing that, while Jace's temper was cool now, this had the potential to grow very nasty very quickly. That registering, he quickly interjected, "Seb, leave it alone. It's none of your business."
"Nah, don't be ridiculous." Sebastian leaned back, mocking Jace's posture. "Jace never has had a problem triumphing in his conquests before," he paused, wanting to rile Jace up. He lived for it. "Why should he start now?"
Jace leaned forward on his elbows and rubbed his thumb over his nose. It was meant to calm him, control his anger, but instead, the small action fueled it. "Let me explain something to you." Jace took a deep breath and continued. "First of all, it's my life. Get your own. Second, you don't talk about her. Ever. Someone like her would never drop low enough to talk to someone like you, let alone get with. Third, Back the hell up and learn some manners before I teach them to you."
Sebastian huffed. "Please. I could kill your ass if I wanted to."
Jace stood and leaned over the table, bracing himself on his hands. Alec grabbed at his arm, trying to get him back in the chair before he caused a scene, but Jace spoke quietly, full of menace and barely restrained anger. "I think we both know that your nose is crooked and your back is scarred for a reason." Jace's voice dropped to a whisper, "Just remember how it ended up like that." He reached out and playfully tapped Sebastian's cheek and winked. Jace stood, grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair, and left.
Jace was beyond pissed. He yanked the door of the Aston Martin open and got in, slamming it closed after him. Pounding the steering wheel twice for emphasis, he grunted in his fury. What was going on with him? Why was he acting like this? Sebastian was right, as much as it killed him to admit it. He was with Clary for the simple pleasure one or two nights would bring. He didn't want a relationship. He didn't want to be a dad. He didn't want to be a husband, or even a boyfriend. He didn't want the responsibility of a family… did he?
No. He didn't. To love is to destroy; his father had proved that more times that he cared to admit. His entire life, his father had confirmed the fact that Jace was burden, never wanted, an accident. When Jace's mother died, Valentine had checked out. His six year old son was left basically alone, but Valentine had managed to teach him all of life's lessons. The hard way. Jace's back and shoulders were scarred from the results of those lessons. He hit the steering wheel one more time for good measure, and then leaned his forehead against the top of the leather covered rim.
Valentine's money had not bought Jace happiness. It hadn't bought him friends, it had bought him followers. Girls. Not one single thing of substance. Valentine's genes had earned him spots on the varsity rosters of three different sports; four years of letters had followed them. Parties, alcohol, clothes, cars, fancy phones and computers, it all meant nothing. He was miserable in this life. Oh, don't be misguided, he loved his life. He loved having women fawn over him. He loved the feelings stirred in him by the alcohol. He loved the parties, but what was the point? He was weary, and he wanted more.
And somehow, he felt that Clary was the key to that. Of all of the women he'd dated, all the women he'd slept with, Clary, though he'd know her for only three weeks, was different. And anyone that looked at him could tell. Hell, if Sebastian had picked up on it, Alec probably thought they were getting married.
Truthfully, he didn't even want to be a doctor. He was chasing this dream for the money and power. His family name would get him places, certainly, but a doctor's salary would get him farther.
But do you actually want to go farther?
Damn that inner monologue.
Jace slipped his key into the ignition, wrenched it over, and pealed out of the parking lot, looking with satisfaction in his rearview mirror as Alec stood from the curb of the restaurant watching him. Purposefully trying to run his tank of gas out so he could charge an enormous bill to his father's credit card (that Valentine wouldn't even notice), Jace meant to drive aimlessly, but that didn't really pan out. He wound up outside of the doctor's office that he had dropped Clary off at not even an hour ago.
Fate, it seemed, had a different plan for his life.
"Matthew Fray?" The haggard looking nurse called out from the doorway of the packed clinic.
"Finally," Clary said under her breath as she gathered Matthew from her lap and into her arms. His head leaned on her shoulder still, his eyes lethargic and dull.
Clary followed the nurse back through the hallway to the scale. The nurse, Ashleigh, took his vitals. Thirty-seven pounds, three feet, ten inches. Heart rate was seventy three beats per minute; blood pressure was 108 over 69.
"Oh, buddy. Looks like you have a pretty bad fever. It's 102 degrees! Do you know what your temperature is supposed to be normally?"
Clary felt bad for her impatience earlier. Nurse Ashleigh was wonderful with kids, and she was clearly overworked. She smiled as Matthew answered correctly.
"Very good!" Ashleigh praised Matthew. "You," she said, pausing to reach up into the cabinet doors above the sink, "get a sticker!" Matthew smiled tiredly and picked out a Captain America sticker.
"Oh, I like Captain America too." She lifted the small boy onto the cot in one of the rooms. "Now, can you tell me what doesn't feel good?" Ashleigh pulled out a laptop and proceeded to open it and type a few of Matthew's vitals into it, quickly followed by a long list of symptoms.
"My head hurts and I'm frowin' up, and I have a feber, and a stuffy node." He stopped talking long enough to sneeze. "And I keep sneezing." He looked up at Clary with puppy dog eyes and her heart broke.
"His symptoms started two days ago. He doesn't usually get sick, so I was pretty sure I needed to get him a check up." Clary opened her arms and uncrossed her legs as Matthew slid down off of the wax-paper covered table and crawled into her lap. Wrapping her arms around him, she tucked his head underneath her chin and soothingly rubbed his back.
Ashleigh smiled sympathetically and said, "The doctor will be right in. It looks like he might have the flu though. I'm sorry."
Clary smiled gratefully. "It's not your fault. Thank you very much though."
"Sure," Ashleigh said quietly as she pulled the door shut behind her.
In the end, Matthew ended up being diagnosed with a mild case of the flu. Clary was given a prescription for seven days of antibiotics and instructions to return in two weeks if Matthew wasn't feeling any better.
"Come on, Baby. Let's go home and we can lie down and watch some cartoons. We'll get some popsicles too, okay? How does that sound?" Matthew nodded miserably and gagged. He hadn't eaten anything since yesterday's applesauce, and he was scarily pale and drawn out. Clary needed to get something in his system other than tea and water.
When they reached the front door, she pushed it open and swung Matthew into her arms, fully expecting to have to take a cab, but she stopped, startled. There, in the perfect parking space, was Jace, wearing his leather jacket, black jeans, and aviator sunglasses. His blonde hair glinted in the sun as he leaned against the hood of his shiny Aston Martin.
"What are you doing here?" Clary asked, taking three small steps forward. Oh, she was so glad to see him.
"I'm picking you up. I figured you might need a ride." Jace's crooked smile sent her heartbeat off in a funny direction. "How's he doing? What's the prognosis?"
Clary sighed and smoothed Matthew's hair back away from his head and frowned at the thumb in his mouth. "He has a mild case of the flu. I have a prescription for him and some other instructions."
"Well, let's get him home then. Come on." Jace opened the passenger door for her and jerked his head toward the car. Clary smiled gratefully and slid Matthew into the back seat, buckled him in, and the followed suit with herself. Jace drove carefully, taking pains not to drive erratically or jerkily in an effort to keep Matthew comfortable in the backseat. They arrived at Clary's apartment in the nick of time; for no sooner had they climbed the stairs and entered the room did Matthew race for the bathroom, where sounds of gagging and retching could be heard.
"Uh, wait here," Clary said quickly before rushing after Matthew. She rubbed his back again, brushed his hair out of his eyes, and stroked his cheek. Clary reached up onto the sink and pulled down the mouth wash, helping Mattie to rinse his mouth out, and then rocked him back and forth while he cried.
"I hate being sick, Mama. It makes my chest hurt and my eyes water and I don't like it." He sobbed into her shoulder, but she couldn't say anything, lest the tears welling in her eyes would pour over. When Matthew was spent, she lifted him moved out into the apartment again. She mouthed for Jace, sitting on the couch, to be patient, as she would only be another minute or so. As she toted Matthew into his bedroom, removed his socks, shoes, and jeans, he whispered for her to come closer. When she leaned down, Clary couldn't help but smile at what her son said.
"Mommy, please don't let Jace stay here. If he sees me when I'm sick, he might think my performance will be bad. I just can't have that." Clary smiled again, trying to stop the laughter bubbling behind her lips.
"Don't worry, Baby. Jace won't think that. I promise. Now, I'm going to bring in a cup of tea and a little bowl of soup, and I want you to drink them both, alright? They'll make you feel much better, I promise."
Matthew nodded tiredly and closed his eyes. By the time Clary got back with the food, he was asleep, and she simply didn't have the heart to wake him. The food could wait.
"It's official; I have nothing else to eat." Clary flopped down on the couch next to Jace, who was engaged in the television. He wrapped an arm around her and sat back on the couch, pulling her with him.
"What do you mean you have no other food? How can you have no food?" Jace asked incredulously.
"Well, I've been working a few extra shifts and now I have this whole baseball thing to deal with," Clary shot him a meaningful look, "And grocery shopping just fell by the wayside."
"Well, that makes no sense. Give me your shopping list. I'll go get the stuff you need." Jace offered, thinking he was being gallant. She shot him down flat.
"No. That's okay. But thanks for, you know, offering." Clary nodded at him in the way moms nod their heads when their children offer to do something outrageous.
"What?" Jace was clueless. "Why is that so crazy?"
Clary pushed her bangs back from her eyes and giggled. "You, Jace Wayland, basketball superstar, hot guy extraordinaire, want to do my shopping for me?" She broke out in outright laughter. "I'm sorry, it's just too funny to picture!" She sat up away from him, still laughing. "Let's try though: You, walking the aisles of the supermarket with a book of coupons, pushing a cart…" Clary trailed off and collapsed back against the couch in spasms of giggles.
"Oh, yeah?" Jace leered playfully, rolling over on top of her, pulling her arms up above her head. "I happen to be very good at shopping, thank you very much." He leaned in for a kiss, but Clary turned her head.
"You didn't, like, have people that did that for you? That still do?"
"Pff." Jace made a noise of disbelief. "Of course I do. And, I will have you know that Agatha is, was, and will always be a phenomenal housekeeper." He stopped kissing her for just a moment to smile dreamily. "That woman could cook." Jace sat up and pulled Clary into his lap. "Why don't we just go shopping together? I need to get some stuff anyway." He put his lips to her neck and nuzzled for a moment.
"Mm, I would love to, but I think you're forgetting something very important." Clary craned her neck, allowing Jace better access. "Matthew. The very sick five-year-old who is lying asleep in his bedroom."
"Alright, then take my car. I'll wait here with him until you get back."
"Problem," Clary quipped. "I can't drive."
"Are you serious?" Jace was in disbelief.
"I live in New York!" Clary's voice rose with her shoulders. "Why would I need to be able to drive? There are subways. And when there are no subways, there's a cab." Clary shrugged again. "Next solution?"
"What?" Clary pulled back for a moment to catch Jace's eyes. "Who or what is Izzy?"
"Isabelle Lightwood. She's Alec's sister. She owes me one. She could babysit for an hour or two until we get back." Jace smiled triumphantly at her.
"Mmnmm. I'm not comfortable with that. I didn't like leaving Matthew alone with you for a night, and I knew you then." Clary put a hand on his cheek and kissed him softly. "Thanks for the offer, but it can wait."
Jace rolled his eyes. "Just let me call her. You need food, I need food. Isabelle needs to clear her debt; it's a win-win-win. Mattie will love her, you'll tolerate her. Besides," Jace added earnestly, "She's actually pretty good with kids. They like her," Jace rolled his head back and forth, looking for the right words to describe Isabelle, "Shall we say, dramatic personality." He leaned in for a small kiss again, and looked her straight in the eye. "Trust me. She's a good person. I promise."
Clary, from her place in Jace's lap, weighed her options. She could starve until tomorrow, the absolute earliest she could convince Mrs. Fairchild to babysit, or she could accept Jace's offer. Reluctantly, she gave in. "Alright," she said, waving her hands in the air. "Call her." Jace gave her exultant grin and pulled his phone from his pocket. Clary sighed and leaned into his chest again, lifting her hand to play with a loose thread on Jace's breast pocket.
A cocky grin was playing about Jace's lips. "Hey, Iz. You know how you owe me?"
Two hours later, when Clary's stomach was grumbling loud and long, Isabelle showed up. Clary and Jace had spent the time wrapped up in each other, alternating between watching TV and kissing.
Jace jumped up to answer the door, let Izzy in, and introduced her to Clary. "Iz, you have my cell. Call if there are any problems." Jace grabbed Clary's jacket, helped her get it on, and started pulling her towards the door.
"Wait, stop, Jace. Stop. Isabelle, he's asleep right now, but if he wakes up, there's tea and a bowl of soup in the fridge. Just heat them up and-"
"She's got it, Babe. Let's go. The sooner we leave, the sooner we get back." Jace kept tugging at her arm, and between Isabelle's insistence and Jace's persistence, she gave in.
Stepping into the car, Clary glanced back up at the apartment, and Jace, getting in the driver's side, noticed and stopped his movement. He folded his arms on top of the car and softly said her name. When she looked over, he smiled at her. "Babe, it's fine. I promise. Izzy will take good care of him."
Clary nodded, still uncertain, but slid into the car. Jace smiled. That was the easiest battle he had ever won.
"Alright, the pharmacy is over there, will you get the prescription a while and I start stocking up?" Clary pointed him in the right direction after she grabbed a cart from the dwindling row.
Jace snatched the paper from her hand with a, "Your wish is my command." Clary rolled her eyes and swatted at his behind.
"Oh, violation of my personal bubble, Fray." Jace warned. He leaned in close to her ear. "Though, it may have been the sexiest way I've ever been violated." He trailed off and planted a kiss on her cheek. "I'll be right back." Clary followed him as far as the aisle she needed and then broke away from him. However, before she was quite out of earshot, she heard Jace ask the pharmacist to fill the prescription for "his girlfriend's son," and her cheeks warmed. She smiled and continued down the aisle, picking up the first aid staples that Matthew went through like water.
Jace came up behind her after only a few minutes. Tossing the white paper bad with Mattie's prescription in the cart, he took her hand and starting picking up some of the food items he needed for his dorm and tossed them into the cart along with her items. Clary peeked at him from the corners of her eyes and caught Jace doing the same. He smiled at her and reaffirmed his grip on her hand, lifting it to his mouth to kiss her palm.
Well, he certainly was acting like her boyfriend, that was for sure. In the checkout line, Jace fell in step behind her, his strong arms on either side of her body and kissed her neck softly. Shivers when down her spine when he did that, and he knew it. Clary could feel his smile against her skin. She felt a little bit better about her uncertainty this morning. Everyone has off days, but Clary couldn't shake the feeling that earlier was maybe a little bit more than that.
Tossing their items onto the lane at the same time, Clary was a little puzzled. What was he doing? Too late, she realized. Jace pulled his wallet from his back pocket and swiped his platinum American Express before she could stop him.
"What are you doing?" Clary asked indignantly, not bothering to restrain her anger as she crossed her skinny arms over her chest.
Jace looked at her like she was an idiot. "I'm paying." He cocked his head at her, "You didn't think I was letting you pay for your own groceries, did you?" He looked back down to sign the receipt, biting his cheek to keep from laughing. She was going to kill him as soon as they got back to her apartment.
Clary was steamed. She huffed and marched to the Aston Martin, not speaking at all, not taking his hand when he reached out for his. When they reached her apartment, she grabbed all the groceries she could carry, not wanting to be anymore obliged to him. Kicking the door open, she startled Matthew and Isabelle, sitting at the counter playing tic tac toe.
Matthew got up and came over to take a bag, gallantly lifting it above his head in an effort to show off for his newfound friend in the dark-haired beauty.
"Isabelle, thank you so much for staying with him." Clary fawned gratefully, but Isabelle just put a hand up.
"No problem. I have a date tonight, so… see ya." Isabelle grabbed her coat and exited the apartment in a hurry, throwing a sideline glance at Jace on her way out.
Leaving Jace alone with Clary.
He mentally prepared himself for whatever Clary was about to throw at him. He took a deep breath and put the rest of the groceries down on the counter before turning to face Clary.
"Before you say anything, don't. I just wanted to do something for you. You worry too much. It was the least I could do." He moved towards her and placed a soft kiss on her lips. "Please don't be mad." He kissed her again, and again, and he knew he had won when her body relaxed.
"Just… don't do it again, okay? I can support myself and my son. I don't need help." Her arms snaked around his waist and she leaned her cheek against Jace's chest. She was so stubborn. But he could deal with that. Jace slipped one finger under her chin and tilted her chin up towards his lips.
"Ew. Don't do that to my mommy. That's gross." Matthew interrupted.
Jace chuckled once as he felt Clary's face, currently burrowing into his chest, grow warm. He detached himself from Clary and mischievously stalked toward Matthew, whose eyes grew very, very wide as he slowly backed away.
"Jace, I know what you're thinking, and you definitely shoul-" Matthew's voice cut off in a shriek as Jace lifted him and tossed the small boy over his shoulders.
Clary just chuckled and started making dinner.
The next morning, Jace rose and pulled his shirt on before Matthew was awake. Before Clary was awake, even. They'd spent the night cuddling on the floor, wrapped in blankets, sharing a bottle of wine, talking about everything and nothing. Touching and tasting and teasing and kissing. It was perfect, far better than actual sex would have been. He still didn't know what was so different about this girl. Was it her honesty? Her love? Her protectiveness? Her selflessness?
He couldn't put a finger on it. But he had something to do now.
It was eight in the morning. Certainly, she would be awake by now. Who was he kidding? He would wake her up if necessary. He lifted Clary onto the couch, tucked the blanket around her, and kissed her cheek, lingering for a moment, and then crept from the apartment and down the stairs.
He stopped at the appropriate door and knocked. After a few moments, a leathery old woman came to the door and looked at him suspiciously. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"My name is Jace Wayland. I'm Clarissa Fray's boyfriend. I want you to do something for me." He leaned against the doorframe, effectively blocking her in. "I want you to give her a bigger apartment. At least two bedrooms. It's not right that she has to sleep on the couch and her son gets shoved in a tiny room."
Dorothea humhfed. "She can't afford it. And that's not my problem. Goodbye." She sneered at Jace and attempted to close the door, but he stopped her.
"How about this?" He asked, pulling a slip of paper from his jacket pocket. It was a check for $10,000. He could practically see the old woman begin to salivate. "That should cover a larger apartment for her. Give her a bigger one for the same price she's paying now. I'll cover whatever's left over." She nodded, and he smiled. "Glad we understand each other."
Jace peeled himself off of the doorway and turned to walk away. "You can inform her of the move today. I expect that I will get a call from her later on to help her move, you understand?" He called over his shoulder, and then paused. "Oh, one last thing," he turned around to face the old woman one more time and shook his finger at her in a not quite threatening way, "Don't tell Clary that I set this up. This has to seem strictly as though this is your idea. Understand?" The old woman nodded once more and disappeared back into her rooms.
That was easier than I thought, Jace said to himself. He smiled. He hoped that he would enjoy that new bedroom as much as Clary did.
Alright, there's chapter 8. Hope you enjoyed it.
Story Rec: A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That» by Orlissa92. It's a Vampire Academy drabble fic with LOTS of chapters. And it's wonderful. : )