So. Posting my first official TMI fic. Woohoo! Now, I haven't actually read CoHF so please no spoilers! I've had this thing sitting in my TMI/TID folder for months, probably over a year. It's meant to be part of a larger series, but life isn't allowing for that right now. Still, I'm a huge Clarec shipper and wanted to share this. Alec is a character I feel I have trouble capturing, but I think I've done all right for now. Hopefully you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I've edited several times over the last few months, so there shouldn't be any spelling or grammatical errors.

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing except the plot. Enjoy!


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"Clary, are you even listening to me?"

She starts at the sound of Simon's voice. Blinking back into reality, Clary offers him a sheepish smile. "Sorry, what?"

Clary and Simon have only been on their morning break for five minutes and she's already left him for the world inside her mind. Simon rolls his eyes, pretending to be exasperated. He's quite used to this by now. "My band. We've got a gig next weekend at Chino's. Will you be there?"

Clary agrees readily, hoping to make up for her absent-mindedness. "Yeah, absolutely. My art group's out until after New Year's so I'm free."

Simon beams at her and immediately she feels better about spacing out on him. Again. "Great. Pick you up at seven?"

"Yeah, sure." Clary slaps on a smile, hiding her mild annoyance. She loves going to see her best friend's band – they weren't so bad – but it seems like every time Simon asks her to go, she's being tricked into some kind of pseudo-date. She's had the sneaking suspicion that Simon likes her as more than his best friend, but she's pretended not to notice in the hope that his affections will cool and settle into something more platonic.

Not that it's likely to happen anytime soon.

"What were you thinking about, anyway?" Simon asks, steering her away from the introverted path she's starting down. "You were pretty far gone. I had to call your name twice."

Now, Clary blushes. She's usually honest with Simon when he asks her questions, but she knows that if she tells him the truth now he won't like it at all. She doesn't have to say anything, though – Simon has already read it on her face.

His dark eyes narrow suspiciously. "You were thinking about that Institute guy, weren't you? What's his name? Allen, Alex..."

"Alec," Clary supplies, shuffling guiltily in her chair. "His name is Alec."

Simon gives her a deadpan look. "Right. Why waste your brilliant mind on him? He's one of those kids with too much money in his pocket and an ego the size of the Eastern Seaboard."

"I think that's Jace, actually."

"Who?"

"The blond one."

"He's a tool," Simon sneers, crossing his arms petulantly.

While Clary is bothered by Simon's uncharacteristic behavior, she has to agree. Though Jace isn't overly offensive, he's arrogant and pretty self-absorbed. He is also – though this is completely unrelated – extremely attractive. Clary would never tell him that, though; his ego is big enough without her input.

"At least you don't think about Jace," Simon mutters, like this is something that comforts him.

It makes Clary angry, but she doesn't say anything. Their break is about to end and she still has the entire Saturday to spend working with Simon; no point in riling them both up. She doesn't know what Simon's problem is – sure, he likes her, but he's getting... territorial about it. Deciding she'll deal with it later, Clary stands and stretches.

"Come on, the noon rush'll be in soon."

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Clary's green eyes watch the clock with hawkish precision. At precisely three forty-five, the door to the shop will open, chiming the bell, and he will walk in.

She knows it's silly of her, and not to mention creepy, but she has timed his arrival to a tee. It isn't her fault, really. Alec is just so punctual. He has a routine and he sticks to it like clockwork, never deviating in the slightest. The only variation is sometimes Jace isn't with him. The self-proclaimed god is present, however, when the door opens to admit Alec from the cold.

Clary's heart rate spikes, shooting through the roof. Alec glances up and meet her eyes; Clary fears he can see her heart beating right through her regrettably flat chest. When he comes to the counter, thankfully, he makes no mention of it. He offers her a small, polite smile. He recognizes her.

"Hello, Clary."

His voice does funny things to her insides. She likes it. "Hey. What can I get you?"

"Espresso, extra hot." His reply is immediate, Clary had expected nothing less. Espresso is the only thing he orders.

"Nothing else?"

"Not for me," he says, shooting a sidelong glance at his companion, who was busy making flirtatious eye contact with another barista. "He'll have a double fudge brownie."

"Two, actually." Jace turns his attention to them, giving Clary a once-over that doesn't bother so much as amuse her.

"You'll rot your teeth out," she says, rolling her eyes. She opens the back of the display case and plucks two brownies off their platter, slips them into a small paper bag. This she hands to Jace before she sets about making Alec's drink.

"I'm too gorgeous for rotten teeth."

Clary snorts. "Tooth decay doesn't make exceptions for pretty people."

"You think I'm pretty?" Jace brightens at this, unable to hide a grin. He's kept this flirting-banter game going since the first day he and Alec walked in.

"Not that pretty." Clary snaps the lid in place and hands the espresso to Alec, who sips it gratefully. "I've seen better."

Jace's jaw nearly falls off, though the dramatics are only part of the game. "Sweetheart how could this," he gestures to his face, which is admittedly quite fantastic. "get any better? I tell you now, it does not."

Clary cannot keep her eyes from flicking to Alec, briefly, though blessedly she does not blush. "It's not inconceivable."

Jace follows the path her eyes cut, but says nothing. Clary knows he's merely storing the information to use at the most opportune moment. "Perhaps."

With this mysterious, but still dramatic, reply, Jace turns on his heel and heads to the window table he and Alec usually occupy, taking his brownies with him.

Clary rings up the final charge and prints Alec's receipt. "Here you go."

"Sorry about him," Alec murmurs, dropping his change in the pitifully scant tip jar. "He's been especially...cheeky, I suppose,today."

Clary smiles. "Don't worry about it. It keeps things interesting around here."

With a parting smile Alec joins Jace at the table, where they immerse themselves in talk of their private lives, and Clary focuses her attention on the next few customers. When she catches a break, she notices Simon shooting her what he believes to be surreptitious – and quite dark – glances. Her anger spikes, until she sees Jace staring at her dead on, a scheming look in his lion's eyes. The anger is immediately replaced with confusion, and wariness.

Then she directs her eyes to Alec, who is writing in a notebook, not paying attention to much else. She takes in everything about him – from his silky black hair to his bottle-blue eyes; the sharpness of his jaw to the soft lines of his mouth. She thinks he'd be beautiful drawn in charcoal. Then Jace has her attention again and the smirk on his face makes something in her belly flip nervously. But looking at Alec makes her forget there's a lion eying her with what are most likely wicked intentions.

It all kind of goes downhill from there.

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Not really downhill, when she looks back on it. She should probably thank Jace for his deviousness, seeing as he was the one to really set things in motion.

He deserves a nice thank-you card, at least.

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