A/N: After writing several (crack) fics for the Twilight universe, I told myself I was through with fanfiction. I was over writing it. It had served its purpose, and I could happily move on to my original characters without ever looking back. That plan might have succeeded had I not picked up the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Jace and Clary have taken over my mind, and refused to budge until I scribbled out this one shot. These characters, naturally, belong to the talented Miss Clare. No money is being made from this work, and no copyright infringement is intended.
A huge thank you goes to my lovely beta for this story, the talented alicatz. Along with that thank you, I offer her a dancing enchilada, as she was sad that there was no such dancing ethnic cuisine present within the story. Thanks, doll!
Perchance to Dream
The surface of the water was green in a way that real water never is, green like melted emeralds or cheap mouthwash. Jace flew the shiny chrome motorcycle down until the wheels skimmed the surface of the too vibrant river. The spray of water coming off his tires reflected the sunlight like thousands of multi-faceted jewels. He knew that he was dreaming. Partly because the East River had never looked that pristine, and partly because the motorcycle he rode was powered by demon energies that wouldn't work in the daylight.
But mostly Jace knew that he was dreaming because the ship that Clary had utterly destroyed—the giant black ship inhabited by his father—was looming ever closer on the horizon.
He pulled the motorcycle high into the air. He didn't have to land on the ship, didn't have to confront his father again. This was, after all, his dream. His subconscious. He could turn around and fly somewhere else, anywhere else. Jace pulled the handlebars up, intending to sail over the ship. Don't look down, he told himself. Its not real. Don't look down. Something flickered on the edge of his peripheral vision. A billowy whiteness was breaking up the bleak monotony of the dark ship that stretched beneath him. A whiteness the color of his father's hair. Don't look down. Don't look down.
Jace looked down. His stomach had already begun to knot in expectation of seeing Valentine standing below him. That knot twisted and changed as he realized that it was not his father after all, but a girl. She wore a white dress that floated and swirled around her as she spun in circles. The flames of her hair whipped and lashed about her face from the currents of wind and the velocity of her movements. Clary. No, not his father after all. His subconscious had brought him another of his personal demons, one that no amount of marks, or training, or superhuman abilities would ever allow him to defeat.
Without consciously deciding to, Jace found himself landing the vampire motorcycle smoothly atop the deck of the ship. The engine died instantly as he lifted himself over the seat and began walking toward the dancing figure. She made no indication that she saw him, only continued to spin and whirl faster and faster until the red of her hair and the white of her dress blended together to remind him of one of the exotic flowers that grew in Hodge's greenhouse. He stood and watched her for a moment, enthralled by the sight of her unfettered joy. He'd never seen Clary so freely happy. Perhaps she'd been that way before he knew her, but the night they met was the night that her life had begun to unravel. He'd seen bright flares of hope and love radiate from her eyes, but they were always dampened by sadness and fear. He wanted her to stop dancing now so he could see into her eyes, to see if the echo of his pain was written on her face.
"Clary?" he called over the wind. His voice was strong and clear. Sometimes it was hard to keep the emotions from saturating his words when they were alone, but for now he sounded neutral.
She stopped dancing and turned to face him, her eyes as clear and bright as the water crashing against the sides of the ship. There was no shadow of sorrow in her countenance, instead she wore the same look of astonished wonder that he'd seen on her birthday after their first kiss. She gave him a warm smile.
"Jace!" she shouted and began running towards him. She stopped with her body only inches away from his, inches that he was acutely aware of. "Jace! You came! We've all been waiting for you."
He wanted to wrap his arms around her body and pull her close to him, but that was too dangerous to allow even in dreams, so he kept still. "Who has been waiting for me?"
"Everyone." Clary took his hand and turned, pulling lightly on it to indicate he should follow her. "Alec, Simon and Maia, Isabelle, Max and their parents, Mom and Luke…even Valentine. We were scared you weren't coming."
Clary turned back to face him when he yanked his hand from her grip. "Why the hell is Valentine here?" he growled. His voice was quickly losing its neutrality.
Clary laughed. "Because it's his ship. And besides," she gestured to her dress with her hands, "Someone has to give away the bride."
Jace's smart retort died on his lips as he stepped back to examine Clary. The skirts of her white dress were silk and tulle and crushed velvet, and the corset was silk woven with glimmering pearls. Either he'd been too wrapped up in the expression on her face to notice the obvious purpose of her dress, or her plain dress had become a wedding gown the way things in dreams often did.
"Clary," Jace whispered, but she reached and tugged on his hand again.
"See," she gestured back towards where he'd parked his motorcycle, "you're the last to arrive."
Jace blinked against the vision. His vampire bike was gone, and in its place stood a black iron trellis, woven with hundreds of midnight blooming flowers like the one he'd shown Clary on her birthday. Standing around it were dozens of people; many he did not recognize, but some he did. Magnus Bane stood in front of the trellis wearing purple mundane priest's robes. In front of Magnus, Alec stood clad in Shadowhunter black, the bits of his skin that was visible were blackened with Marks. Isabelle stood near the trellis also, wearing a shiny gold dress that matched the whip coiled around her arm. Everyone else stood a little apart from those three. Jace saw the Lightwoods standing on the right side of the group near their son. Maryse was blotting her eyes with a tissue and Robert was solidly beside her as if he'd never been injured. Max turned towards them grinning with a magazine rolled up under his arm.
Something about the placement of the people was distantly familiar to Jace, but he couldn't quite identify it. There was a path of empty space between where he stood beside Clary, and where Magnus, Alec, and Isabelle stood before the trellis. An aisle, he realized, and an altar. He heard, rather than felt, his own quick intake of breath. This will be a cruel dream to wake from.
Across the aisle from the Lightwoods, he saw Clary's mother standing next to Luke. Like Robert Lightwood, Jocelyn Fray looked to be in perfect health, as if she'd never been in a coma. Like Maryse, she had tears in her eyes. Jace noted the presence of Imogen, the Inquisitor whom had died for him on this very ship, several of the servants from the Wayland manor in Idris, and even a few werewolves he'd taken on in the brawl at The Hunter's Moon.
He turned to look at Clary, who was staring at him with that same gleeful look in her eyes. "I was so worried you wouldn't come, Jace. So worried you'd miss this."
He took both of her hands in his and pulled them into his chest. He was about to speak around the lump that had formed in his throat when his father stepped behind Clary and put one Marked hand on her shoulder, the other grasping the hilt of Maellartach.
"Yes," Valentine said. "We were all concerned that you would miss your sister's big day. Some best man you are." He flicked his wrist lazily towards the altar. "I believe you're needed up front, son."
Clary pulled her hands free of Jace's grasp and took the bouquet of red Idris roses that Valentine was holding out to her. She gave Jace one last grin and then kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Go," she whispered. "I'll be right behind you."
Jace spun dizzily around to face the altar again. He didn't remember walking towards it, but was suddenly standing between Magnus and Alec. They both stared at him in confusion for a silent moment.
Alec, surprisingly, was the first to speak. "Uh. Nice of you show up Jace, but you're supposed to stand on my other side. That's Clary's spot." His friend winked at him. "Unless, of course, you want to marry me."
The confusion Jace felt was beginning to ebb away, and dawning horror was quickly replacing it. He moved numbly to stand beside Alec, and turned to face the aisle. Music that came from no visible source trumpeted in the open air, drowning out the sound of waves.
Clary and Valentine took one step down the aisle of attentive onlookers. The look on his father's face was disturbingly familiar to Jace. He'd worn a similar expression the day he'd showed him how well his falcon was trained. The sick feeling in Jace's stomach intensified.
Clary, however, wasn't looking at Jace at all. Her eyes lingered on the spot beside him, to the center of the trellis altar. They were fixed lovingly and surely on Alec.
"No!" Jace shouted. "No!" He turned on Alec. "You're gay. You can't marry Clary! You and Magnus…"
"I can marry her, Jace." Alec's voice was calm and soft. He didn't sound the least bit upset that his best friend was disrupting his wedding by shouting that the groom was gay. "Of course I can marry her. We're both Shadowhunters. It's perfectly logical that she would want someone like me."
"But you don't love her!" Jace shouted. "You don't love her, and I…" he trailed off, stopping the truth from spilling from his mouth. "And she's my sister." He finished lamely.
Alec gazed at him sadly. "Yes," he whispered. "Clary is your sister, but she's not mine. She isn't going to pine for you forever, brother. It won't be me, and it might not even be Simon, but someday there will be someone…someone worthy of her. It may be someday soon if she goes to Idris. Another guy is going to really see her, Jace, and someday, when she stops looking at you, she'll see him, too. " Alec bit his lip thoughtfully, "If the Clave doesn't get her killed first."
When Jace turned back to look at Clary, he found that they were alone on the ship, and that the bright mid-day sun had given way to a silvery moon. The wedding guests were gone, as was Clary's white gown. She now wore traditional Shadowhunter battle gear, black like the marks that covered her exposed skin. In her right hand she brandished a seraph blade, in her left she clutched the witchlight stone he'd given her. She stood facing him, crouched as if to spring, as if he were the enemy she planned to battle.
"Are you going to fight me?" he scoffed.
She shrugged her shoulders but didn't relax her stance or lower her weapon.
"You wouldn't stand a chance against me, Clary. This is the stupidest thing you've ever done. And you've done some really stupid things."
"Don't look at me, hot shot. This is your dream. Maybe you want to fight me. To love is to destroy, right? Maybe that's what you really want, Jace — to destroy me, to ruin me like you ruin everything else you touch."
He took a step backwards as if to dodge her verbal blow, and nearly tripped over a piece of glimmering glass at his feet. He crouched down and retrieved it, cutting his palms along the jagged edges. Jace glanced at the piece of broken mirror—which he recognized instantly as the portal from Renwick's—expecting to see the green grass and blue skies of Idris, but they were not there.
The only image visible in the enchanted glass was Clary, image after image of her flickering one after another like a magical slide show: Clary that first night at Pandemonium, when she'd charged so bravely and insanely into the storage closet after them; Clary in the black dress and fishnets at Magnus's stupid party; Clary lying motionless with a dying Ravener demon atop her; Clary running into his arms when she found him at Renwick's, and her pleading gaze when Valentine had looked at him and said "Because she loves you."; Clary looking at him with such longing after their kiss in the Seelie Court; Clary sitting across from him at Taki's after he'd promised to just be her brother, the expression on her face unreadable; and Clary's look of fury and disbelief when he'd all but begged her not to go to Idris.
Jace glanced away from the hundreds of tiny images of Clary in the mirror, to see her standing beside him. She'd changed clothes again, out of the Shadowhunter gear and into the worn jeans and pink and green hoodie that he was accustomed to seeing her wear. She sat down beside where he crouched on the ship deck.
"It's changed," he slanted the broken bit of glass so that she could see the images within it.
"No it hasn't," she smiled at him sadly. "It's exactly the same."
Jace was growing irritated. "No, it used to show the manor house in Idris, now it shows you."
She reached to take the glass from him, just as she'd done that night at Renwick's. "You used to look into it and see the home you'd lost, and that's still what you see, Jace. You see the home you've lost. You see me." Clary let go of the mirror and it shattered into a thousand tiny shards.
"You broke it," Jace whispered, unable to keep the sorrow from his voice.
"I had to. Someone might have seen." She dusted her hands on her shirt, smearing blood along the front of it. The mirror had cut her, too Jace noted with surprise. "We don't live or love in a vacuum, remember? You have to hide away your heart."
"I don't know how," he whispered.
"Sure you do. Remember the night with the Ravener demon? The night my mom was taken?"
"When we were outside, you gave me my first Mark to hide me from the pseudo cops?"
"The mendelin rune, I remember." Jace smirked. "You slapped me for it, hard. I wouldn't have thought a little thing like you could pack such a punch."
"It could have killed me," Clary said.
"But it didn't. And those demons could have killed you if I hadn't done it."
"Exactly, Jace. You have to do the same thing to your heart that you did to me that night. Hide it to protect it, even if it seems like it might kill you. If you leave it out there unprotected, you'll get hurt."
"Is that really what you want, Clary?" he asked softly.
She looked thoughtful for a moment, and then shrugged. "I have no idea. I'm just a figment of your imagination. It's what I said I wanted, isn't it?"
Jace thought back to that afternoon at Taki's, when he'd sat across from Clary and betrayed his heart, remembered the cool look on her face as she'd peered at him over a plate of crickets and said "Yes, that's what I wanted" with such finality that he wanted to shake her and scream.
Jace nodded. "I just wish…"
Clary grabbed his hand and Jace watched transfixed as the blood from their cut palms ran together, mixing and melding until it was impossible to tell whose it was. Blood calls to blood, their father had said. She stood and pulled him up beside her.
"What do you wish, Jace? This is your dream, after all. Why are we here, back on this cursed ship?"
Jace smiled as the landscape around them changed. Gone was the black iron of the boat, and in its place were hundreds of sweet smelling flowers surrounded by glass walls that showed off the beauty of the city lights. "We're here," he said, indicating the greenhouse, "because this is home." He stepped toward her and slid his arms around her waist. "And what I wish—more than anything in the world—is that I were Jace Wayland, and you were Clary Fray."
He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers, reveling in dual softness and fierceness of her kiss. Her hands winding through his hair felt just as he remembered, as did the intense fire that coursed through his body. The pull of consciousness tugged on the edge of his thoughts, and he knew that his body had turned traitor—knew that he was waking up. With one last fevered gasp he pulled Clary closer to him, deepening the kiss, pressing the hard lines of his body against hers. "Clary," he moaned against her mouth, a sound born of passion mixed with despair.
And then he was waking up, becoming aware of the feel of the pillow beneath his head and the mattress beneath his body. How can I possibly give her up? he despaired. But he wouldn't. Not completely. In life he would be her brother, only her brother, just as he'd promised. He wouldn't burden her any more than she was already burdened. But he knew he would come back to her—always to her— in his memories, and in his dreams.